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Oct 20 2014

All This Time Off for the Holidays & I Still Missed My Chance to Reflect

By at 10:55 am

fall leaves new england

Two and a half days for Rosh Hashanah.

Half a day for Yom Kippur.

Two and a half days for Sukkot.

Two days for Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

I’d love to tell you that this is a list of the days that I spent in solemn prayer and reflection over the past month. The truth is that this is actually a list of days I spent stressing about schedules and childcare and all the work I wasn’t getting done because my daughter wasn’t in school. Jewish day schoolRead the rest of this entry →

My Mastectomy, My Story

By at 9:58 am

i got a mastectomy

Cancer runs in my family. About nine years ago, when my aunt was suffering from ovarian cancer, after having battled breast cancer, doctors identified a mutation in her BRCA1 gene. Sure enough, this mutation is associated with increased risks of breast and ovarian cancer. My father tested himself and found that his DNA had the same mutation. This genetic mutation is either inherited from a parent or, with equal chances, is not.

I decided to get tested, and I learned that I, too, have a BRCA1 mutation known as 185delAG. This mutation, a missing piece in the 185th position of a very long strand of DNA, has been a part of my cells from the very start. News but not new; the newness was in knowing about it. This mutation is what is known as a “founder mutation,” which  means that it’s thought to have originated from a single individual. Because this mutation has been found among Sephardic Jews as well as Ashkenazic Jews, some estimate that the mutation predates the dispersion of Jews after the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 15 2014

Torah MOMentary: Goodbye Past, Hello Future

By at 1:32 pm

goodbye-sippy-cup

Editor’s note: This post is the last entry in our year-long Torah MOMentary series. We are so grateful to Alicia Jo Rabins for taking us through the Torah this year with insight, honesty, and some very cute photos of her kids–as well as all the guest contributors to the series.

This Friday night we read V’zot Haberakhah. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here. 

When my daughter Sylvie turned 2, we decided she was ready to transition from her bedtime bottle of milk to a cup. To prepare her, we told her we were going to say “Goodbye, bottle–hello, cup.” She loved saying it with us: Goodbye, bottle—hello, cup. It seemed to help her understand what was happening. And it helped me understand, too. Read the rest of this entry →

It’s Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day

By at 1:09 pm

baloons

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Over the years, many of our writers have written poignantly about the heartrending experience of losing a child or pregnancy. For those who have experienced that pain, we hope these stories will resonate, provide comfort, and offer helpful suggestions for processing the loss. For those who haven’t, this might help you comfort a friend who has.

Here is a roundup of the most relevant articles from Kveller and our friends at Modern Loss about pregnancy and infant loss:

1. 17 Things to Say to Someone Who’s Lost a Child. It’s hard to know what to say to a friend who is mourning the loss of a child or potential child. A dad who has unfortunately found himself on both sides of the conversation offers some guidelines and suggestions. Read the rest of this entry →

The Catholic School Teacher Who Made Me Want to Raise My Kids Jewish

By at 9:36 am

school-girls-skirts

I’ll never forget the first roll call in fourth grade at the St. Fabian School.

“Levey, Hilary? [Pause] Really?!”

Yes, really. My father, who gifted me his last name, is clearly a Member of the Tribe (Levite, natch). But my parents decided to baptize and raise me as a Roman Catholic, like my mother. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 14 2014

The Day I Had to Tell My Son He Was Different

By at 1:56 pm

Testing

When my very bright son’s grades started to plummet, we decided it was time to find out what was going on. In an attempt to help him, we subjected him to a sleep study, neurological exams, academic exams, and psychological testing. At the same time, Joey was struggling with skills for the standardized tests, so he was taking multiple practice exams and being pulled out of class to work with a reading specialist.

He was patient, and handled them all like a champ. Occasionally he’d ask about the testing. We’d give him a simple but truthful answer, and move the conversation along by talking about Minecraft.

After a few weeks, his questions started to change. Instead of asking what the tests were all about, he started to ask if there was something wrong with him, or if he was different than the other kids in his class. I noticed his self-esteem wasn’t doing so hot, and at homework time there were tears. He started to call himself stupid. Read the rest of this entry →

This Sexy Olaf Costume Just Ruined “Frozen”

By at 1:07 pm

Sexy-Olaf

Who would do this to Olaf, the lovable snowman character from “Frozen”?

Halloween costume retailer Yandy.com is raking it in this season thanks to their naughty interpretations of Disney characters including a slutty Queen Elsa and, yes, a pants-less Olaf. Since the controversial Olaf made its rounds on the interwebs, the costume has completely sold out, reports NBC. Read the rest of this entry →

Pinterest Has No Good Ideas For Decorating Jewishly

By at 11:56 am

Chagall-window

I’m desperate to redo the sad, drab entryway in my house. After seven moves with the U.S. military, I’ve become accustomed to simply putting our things “where they fit” in whatever home we’re currently living in.

Our family–and our belongings–have become the only real indication of where our “home” is after moving so much. But now that we’re more settled at our current duty station, it’s time to really reevaluate.

Does this home look like we want it to? Like us? Who are we, anyway? Read the rest of this entry →

In My Friend’s Memory, I’m Raising Awareness for Pregnancy-Associated Breast Cancer

By at 10:25 am

belly

Last October, I wrote about how devastated I was to learn of a dear friend’s pregnancy-associated breast cancer diagnosis. I wrote in order to spread awareness of a rare disease and to honor her fight. This month–Breast Cancer Awareness Month–I write again about my friend. To again spread awareness, but now to honor her memory.

At the end of July, my friend’s husband had to tell their daughters–4 and not quite 2–that their mom wasn’t coming home again. She was a week shy of her 36th birthday. Despite nine rounds of chemo, the cancer had spread to her brain and spinal fluid. She’d been diagnosed only 10 months earlier.

I think of my friend daily. We knew each other for only four years, but we got together every other week for most of that time. It’s hard not to go to the places we frequented and not expect her to walk up. I see her sitting in my basement while our kids play together. I see her at my side as we sweated through a Stroller Strides class. I see her in my dining room during my daughter’s birthday party. I see her getting into her car and pulling away from my house for the last time. Read the rest of this entry →

I Miss The Simpler Days of Pen & Paper

By at 9:46 am

love-letter

It was the 80s when I started dating my husband. It was a simpler time. Not just because we were younger and just falling in love, but also because it was an era that, in my opinion, was more conducive to love and courting.

My husband is fantastic, but when it comes to expressing his feelings, he’s generally not a man of many words. I guess he leaves that to me. Yet as I sit here surrounded by his old letters and cards, nostalgically reading and rereading his words from almost three decades ago, I realize how untrue that statement is.

My husband’s handwritten love letters, from an era before email and text messaging, were filled with emotion, with meaning, with love, with yearning, and mostly, with vulnerability.  Read the rest of this entry →

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