Jul 30 2014
My 16-year-old daughter is an atheist. You can’t imagine how many people–both Jewish and non-Jewish–this seems to bother more than me.
She’s been an atheist for a long time, years perhaps. First, we forced her to have a bat mitzvah–at least that’s what she says. She still resents having to say a bunch of words she didn’t agree with, though I don’t remember her complaining at the time. She seemed to enjoy the DJ, dancers, food, friends, and gifts at her party. And she did an excellent job reading her Torah portion and leading the service. It was a proud day for all of us.
But now she tells everyone she is an atheist; her religious grandparents who attend services every Friday night, her friends, and my friends. Most of the adults generally look at her in horror. They look at me in horror, too. What am I doing, raising a godless girl? It doesn’t matter if the adult she’s talking to is Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. It just seems awful to them. Check off their “this mother sucks” box. Read more →
Jul 30 2014
I have a 9-year-old son. He is sensitive and compassionate. He listens carefully to conversations so as not to miss anything, and he is able to see concepts and complex relationships, making him seem wise beyond his years.
Perhaps these traits are the reason why my husband and I have never shied away from discussing current events with him in an age-appropriate way. We’re also just not the kind of parents who believe that children must order strictly off the kids’ menu or discuss only kid-friendly topics.
So, when our son returned from his Jewish overnight camp, we mentioned what was happening in Israel. He told us he already knew. Read more →
Jul 30 2014
My husband asserts that one (among many) of the reasons why he married me is because I am not the sort of woman who picks fights in clubs and then runs to him to “take care of it.”
He’s right. I’m not one for public scenes. Raised by Soviet immigrants, I was taught to keep my head down and to avoid trouble, not court it.
Last week, while riding the NYC subway, I was reading a book when the sound of a child shrieking prompted me to look up. The source of the shriek wasn’t hard to locate. Two seats over and across from me sat a little girl, surrounded by four young women, one of whom, presumably her mother, was repeatedly smacking her along the head, while looking defiantly up and down the subway car and demanding, “What are you all looking at?” Read more →
Jul 30 2014
We are currently in a period known as the three weeks. It’s a not-so-fun period of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and our being exiled from Israel into the diaspora. The last nine days of this time period are commemorated by a few personal sacrifices such as not eating meat or drinking wine, no new clothing, no swimming, no planting trees, and no cutting of one’s nails. This culminates with the fast of Tisha B’Av, often known as the saddest day of the Jewish year.
The good news is that on Shabbat we don’t follow some of the rules of mourning, such as not eating meat. However, I thought now would be the perfect time to introduce you to a vegetarian meal which is both filling and delicious. You won’t even notice there is no meat!
If you have been following my monthly Shabbat menus, you will notice a pattern. I usually start my meal plans by deciding on a main course. I happen to have a recipe for vegetarian black bean enchiladas that are to die for! To contrast the spice of the enchiladas I like to serve a light corn and tomato salad with basil and a quinoa with mango and blueberry salad. All you need to round out this meal is some salsa, guacamole, corn chips, and dessert! I find lemon glazed cupcakes a simple and enjoyable way to end the meal. Read more →
Jul 29 2014
The first headline I wrote for this post was “Bachelorette Andi Dorfman Chooses Handsome Dumb Jock–Again!” Will we girls ever learn?
Throughout this season of “The Bachelorette,” which ended Monday night, we watched ABC’s first-ever Jewess fall for former Wisconsin Brewers ball player Josh Murray as he pleaded earnestly, “Don’t stereotype me; I’m really not like that.”
Murray was out to prove that he is not a player like the other athletes Andi is used to dating–and he succeeded. Andi chose Josh over nice midwestern boy Nick Viall. I just rolled my eyes; we’ve all heard that one before, right? Read more →
Jul 29 2014
My Israeli husband and I, along with our kids, made aliyah two months ago. Our new neighborhood, a sleepy suburb of Tel Aviv, has been disrupted several times a day by the sound of a long piercing siren. Our 3-year-old twins, born and raised in New York, refer to the sirens as “a big fire truck,” but this time was different.
I was caught outside alone with the twins and our 6-month-old baby on our way to the playground after school. We had stopped to feed the baby and they sat next to me on a city bench chatting away and undoing their sandals to busy themselves. Suddenly, my worst nightmare came true and the sirens started piercing.
I started visualizing horrors as I ran to the nearest building holding my baby, leaving everything behind including my purse and stroller. I called for the twins to come with me and walk up the stairs to a nearby apartment building, but they wouldn’t. Read more →
Jul 29 2014
I was the Peter Pan who was never going to grow up.
I drank regular Coke well into my 20s, loved roller coasters when everyone else my age turned green thinking about them, went back to camp as a grown up for five years, and preferred surprise birthday parties well past adolescence.
Then, somewhere along the way, I changed. Read more →
Jul 29 2014
Like a lot of primates, I really don’t like snakes. In Maine, we only have non-venomous, ecologically beneficial, pest-eating garter snakes and rat snakes, but the unexpected sight of one gliding eerily past my feet in the garden gives me major willies.
This wasn’t always true. I remember happily holding a little red-bellied snake that a preschool classmate brought in for show and tell. I was 3 or 4 years old. Shortly thereafter, I was playing outside when my Birkenstock-clad mother nearly stepped on a snake on the way to the mailbox. She reacted like many people would–an operatic shriek and a leap backwards. And from that moment on, I reacted the same way.
As outlined in this article from Parenting Science, some fears have to be taught. And some are learned very quickly, whether by baby humans or baby monkeys. Read more →
Jul 29 2014
When a Kveller reader recently sought advice on finding a Jewish ritual for mourning the passing of her cat, I wrote off the request as being outside of the boundaries of normative Jewish practice. Judaism’s elaborate and meaningful mourning rituals and practices are for people, not pets. I felt that saying kaddish or observing the yahrzeit of a pet, no matter how beloved, would somehow take away from the meaning and power of these customs and laws.
And then our beloved guinea pig Caramel died.
Caramel was no ordinary guinea pig. In addition to her rather impressive size and multiple chins, she was a fairly accommodating rodent who often kept my eldest son company during homework time and who enjoyed a good (supervised) romp on the front lawn (The smells! The tasty grass!). Caramel occupied a special place in our hearts (no offense to her cage mate, Cinnamon), and I knew that mourning her was going to be difficult.
We chose a sturdy shoe box for her coffin and my husband went outside to dig the requisite hole in the yard while the kids mourned over her furry, lifeless body. Not wanting me to close the lid, I explained to them that the coffin is closed during most Jewish funerals so that we can remember the person as they were when they were alive. Read more →
Jul 28 2014
My 8-month-old daughter Billie was recently hospitalized for a UTI. It was scary, exhausting, and emotional. She refused to nurse for four excruciating days (don’t worry, I pumped). She was lethargic and had a high fever. But after four long days and nights at an amazing children’s hospital, I’m happy to report my little girlie is back home and 100 percent herself.
My dad (who was with us at the hospital frequently) always taught me to find the humor in life. After reflecting on our scary experience, I’d like to share the top seven things that amused me at the hospital:
1. In the playroom at the hospital there was an old-school Casio-type keyboard with very funny typos. “Fly Me to the Moom” and “Capton Races” were our faves. Read more →