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Aug 25 2014

My Plan to Give My Daughter a Unique Bat Mitzvah Isn’t Going So Well

By at 1:41 pm

torah-scroll

My oldest daughter will be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah this December. I have a bit of chip on my shoulder about it.

Actually, it’s not just her bat mitzvah that I’m cynical about, it’s the whole bat mitzvah “thing.” (I’m using “bat mitzvah” here to include bar mitzvahs too, of course.) As Patrick Aleph argued persuasively in Kveller last year, there are a lot of problems with this ceremony. Despite this, we’ve seen examples lately of young Jews who transform their b’nai mitzvah into something powerful. We just read last month about the young Jews in Chicago who are building a playground. There’s a young Jew at our synagogue who is riding his bicycle from Mexico to Canada to raise funds for the Sierra Club. But even without the grand, headline-making accomplishments, there is significant untapped potential for this rite of passage to be better reflective of the status-change it is intended to complement.

My daughter’s day school education has been, on the whole, truly wonderful. However, one constant struggle for her has been tefillah (daily prayers). It’s not that she has trouble learning them, it’s that she has trouble engaging with them. Her teachers have been very consistent in their reports that she doesn’t seem interested in participating–she doesn’t follow along in the siddur (prayer book), and is frequently just spacing out. Our daughter confirms that she finds tefillah to be awfully boring. Read the rest of this entry →

The Astonishing Ways that a Community Comes Together–For Both Good Times & Bad

By at 9:51 am
Dafna-and-Jesse

Jesse Bacon with new baby Dafna.

 

I was 35-weeks pregnant with my son when I became violently ill and started having contractions at 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday night that happened to be erev Purim. My husband and I decided that, rather than risk our not-yet-2-year-old daughter waking up and not having us there, I would go to the hospital with a friend, and he would stay home. I realized how fortunate I was to have more than one person I could call in such a situation, but we figured that our friend Ilana was the most likely to still be awake from Purim festivities, so she was the lucky recipient of that phone call.

Without a moment’s hesitation, she was at our house, she took me to the hospital, and she stayed with me there for hours. After a terrible night, but one that would have been infinitely worse had I been alone (or had the baby ended up being in any distress), I thanked Ilana as much as words could possibly thank someone for that kind of generosity. She said, simply, “This is what we do.”

Those words have echoed over and over in my head this week, reminding me of the unbelievable value of community. No matter how capable we are of handling our own joy or sorrow, handling it in the company of other people is just better. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 22 2014

My Island Family Surprised Me With a Simchat Bat

By at 1:44 pm

bagels

Lately, being Jewish on North Haven–the small island in Maine where we live–has felt like a non-issue, though I still tend to think of myself as the only one. Which made it all the more surprising when, as I was getting ready to leave the seasonal bakery I run and go pick up 3-month-old Penrose, my friend Rosa, one of the nearly 1,000 summer visitors we get out on the island, stopped me.

“The girls and Mark and I were talking and we wanted to organize a naming ceremony for Penrose if you’d like,” she said. “I bet it will be the first one ever on North Haven!”

I paused, momentarily stunned. I had considered a simchat bat ceremony for her, but real life took over, and between recovery, my husband’s return to work, and opening the bakery, we never got it together. I had also never been to one, and other than the bagel and lox spread at the end, I didn’t know what it would entail. To have someone else run it for us would be amazing. Read the rest of this entry →

Brace Yourself for “Adon Olam” to the Tune of Pharrell’s “Happy”

By at 11:24 am

listen-up

Move over, Maccabeats.

If Pharrell’s “Happy” was the soundtrack to 2014 in your home (as it was in mine), then your kids will love this version of “Adon Olam.” I mean, it’s basically a mash up of the two most catchy songs in history.

Brought to you by Listen Up, a peppy Chicago-based a cappella group, you will NEVER get this one out of your head. The video was uploaded two days ago and already has close to 15,000 hits. Read the rest of this entry →

I’m Trying to Pay More Attention to The Good Parts of Parenting

By at 10:35 am

supermarket-momentary

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Re’eh. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

“‘I see!’ said the blind man.”

This was my grandmother Agnes’s favorite saying. She said it when something became clear to her. She saw, she understood. “‘I see!’ said the blind man.” She was the blind man, and then she wasn’t.  Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 21 2014

Is Drew Barrymore’s Walmart Beauty Line Bad For Women?

By at 2:50 pm

Drew-Walmart-Collaboration

Our undying love for Drew Barrymore is well-documented. That’s why we were excited to learn that the actress is bringing her breezy-cool (and affordable!) beauty line to a store near you. Specifically, Walmart.

Hold up, says Kveller contributor Elissa Strauss, what about the corporate giant’s long history of being inhospitable to women? Can Barrymore really collaborate with Walmart with a clear conscience?

Strauss explains in The Week: Read the rest of this entry →

My Emergency C-Section Gave Me PTSD    

By at 10:34 am

C-section-instruments

My first delivery went textbook-smooth. From the time my water broke until the time I delivered my daughter was nine hours, which is under the average of 10 to 24 hours for a first labor. The one thing I hadn’t liked: To get me through the first part of labor, my doctor had ordered some Stadol, a narcotic that is supposed to “take the edge off the pain.” It made me alternately sleepy and groggy. It was only supposed to last an hour or two, but it lasted much longer, and I was totally out of it by the time my baby was born.

By the time my second child was ready to be born, I was determined to do it differently.

When I got to the hospital, I wasn’t in active labor. I was contracting now and then, but the contractions didn’t hurt. The only sign was the bloody show I’d experienced overnight. My obstetrician insisted that was enough–I’d gone so quickly last time, and I was five days overdue now, so it made a lot of sense to get me into the hospital sooner rather than later. Read the rest of this entry →

Sleep Training When Your Partner is in the Israeli Army

By at 9:47 am

sleeptraining

Sleep training is hard any time of the year. When trying to find a quiet week to start sleep training, parents will inevitably discover there is no good time, as “normal” life is constantly interrupted by birthdays, late-night meetings, work trips, and so on. You just have to pick a week and try to be consistent.

So when my husband got called up to miluim (emergency reserve duty in the Israeli Army) this August, you can imagine my hesitation to start sleep training alone. It was just a week after we arrived back home in Israel, right after our 6-month-old, Chanan, recovered from jet lag, and mid-way into Operation Protective Edge (which we hope is almost over).

Against my better judgment, I’m trying anyway. And as a result, I’ve come up with five reasons why miluim really screws with sleep training. (I’m sure in many ways these concerns will echo with the experiences of parents living far from the front.)  Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 20 2014

My First Child-Free Weekend With The Girls Felt… Strange

By at 3:26 pm

Vacation

Last month, my book club unanimously decided to go away for a night. I don’t remember who made the initial suggestion, but the idea sounded amazing to me. In the past few years, there have been days where my house is a disaster and my girls are crying and just as I’m about to lose it… my cat pukes on the rug. There are times when this Mommy needs a time out. Most of my friends are married and moms, and I knew they felt the same. We needed a break… so we took one.

We chose a destination, found a hotel, and made dinner reservations. We arranged for husbands and other family members to watch our children. As a group of eight, we evenly split ourselves into two cars.

It was all so simple. It was strange. Read the rest of this entry →

Five Kids Who Tried the Ice Bucket Challenge & Adorably Failed

By at 12:31 pm

Water-falling

News flash: The ice bucket challenge for ALS has reached the elementary schools.

Seriously, ALL the kids are doing it.

It’s not all squeals of delight, though. Aside from the obvious schoolyard politics which dictate that your kid’s popularity and self-worth be determined solely by how many times he or she is nominated, the challenge often doesn’t go exactly according to plan. Read the rest of this entry →

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