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Nov 10 2014

My Adopted Son Wants to Be Christian–And I Need to Let Him

By at 9:54 am

Learning How to Raise My Christian Son

We were walking out to the car after Yom Kippur services when my son Matheus, 14 years old at the time, unexpectedly broke the silence and asked, with a tinge of exasperation in his voice, “Father, when can I go to church?”

It had only been a few months past our first anniversary since I’d adopted him and his younger brother from Brazil. Up until then, Matheus had mostly kept to himself any thoughts he might have had about his religious inclinations. His brother had decided that he wanted to become Jewish, abandoning his Christian roots barely nine months into our first year together—he could hardly wait to attend Hebrew school later that year. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 7 2014

The Maccabeats Came to Oklahoma–And Changed My Son’s Life

By at 12:23 pm

the maccabeats out of the box

Throughout my pregnancy, I couldn’t wait to sing to my baby. I collected songs, carefully choosing the soundtrack of his first year before he was even born. My son was a happy baby who laughed at everything. So it took a long time to realize that he was not a music fan. His second full sentence turned out to be, “No sing, Mama!” but he had to repeat it many times until I understood. It turns out, my son is very sensitive to sound, and the sounds of music are often too much for him.

I doubt that I could have stopped forcing music on my boy if fate had not intervened. Shortly after his 1st birthday, stress stole the music from my own heart. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and during my 15-month treatment course, I lost my ability to work, my home, all my savings, and eventually, my marriage. Read the rest of this entry →

That Time I Picked Up a Hitchhiking Bubbe

By at 9:37 am

hitchhiking thumb

We know the rule: picking up hitchhikers is bad. It’s been drilled into our heads from a young age, along with other stranger-danger situations and how to avoid them. Parents and educators teach children to be wary of strangers, and try to impart a survival savvy that they hope will never be needed. And in addition to the parental and school warnings are the many movies and TV shows that reinforce these concepts. We know that when a scene features a naïve driver picking up a hitchhiker, it will not end well for someone. Needless to say, we’ve been warned.

So then, what possessed me to pull over for a hitchhiker on my way to work?

I rolled my window down, and there she was: a woman with salt and pepper colored hair, a brown cardigan, and orthopedic shoes. She was at least 75 years old, and seemed to be in distress. She explained that she’d missed her bus, and was going to be late for an important doctor’s appointment. She told me the address of her doctor, which was coincidentally near my office, and she asked for a ride. What else could I do? I told her to get in.  Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 6 2014

Sex & The Single Modern Orthodox Woman

By at 2:29 pm

Sex and the Modern Orthodox Woman

Recently, Kveller received the following note from a reader:

Hi there,

I often read Kveller, and was wondering if your website could shed some light on an issue I’ve been struggling with. I am an Orthodox woman in my mid-20s, and I have a lot of sexual curiosity. I am a virgin and plan to stay that way until I marry, but at the same time, I would like to explore my sexuality and not feel guilty about it, and am wondering if this is possible within a Torah framework. I would venture to say that there are many other women in the same position as I am. Does exploring one’s sexuality taint it? Is it against halacha [Jewish law] to discover what excites one sexually? Is female masturbation permitted? I would really appreciate some grounded knowledge through a Modern Orthodox lens, and believe that others would benefit from it as well, instead of having to guess and/or feel guilty. Thank you.

Best,

M

We turned to our own Tamar Fox to handle this tough but important question:

Dear M, Read the rest of this entry →

7 Ways to Help Someone Who Has Lost a Pregnancy

By at 12:47 pm

What to Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Pregnancy

I will never forget how I felt the first time a friend told me she had a miscarriage. We worked together and were leaving the office to get coffee one day (about 12 years ago). Before we even reached the elevators she blurted out, “I had a miscarriage yesterday.” I just stood there speechless, staring at her with what must have been an extremely odd expression on my face. I was truly shocked. In my social circle we did not talk about things like that so openly.

I gathered my courage and attempted to summon up inspiring and helpful words but good lord, nothing came. I had no idea what to say to her!

We finally made it into the elevator and she kept talking which made me more at ease. SHE had to make ME feel more at ease.

When I returned to my desk, after what seemed like hours, I started to do research on miscarriage. Read the rest of this entry →

I’m That Mom Who Missed Her Daughter’s First Ballet Recital

By at 9:43 am

I Missed My Daughter's Ballet Recital—And That's OK

With her wild, curly hair pulled back in a neat bun, and her pink tights, leotard, and ballet shoes in place, my little girl tapped her toes and lifted her arms in rhythm to the music of her first ballet recital. At least, that’s how it appeared from the video that my sister-in-law sent me and I watched on my iPhone while I attended a wedding two hours away.

For four weeks I sat on a hard, cold bench in a stale waiting room listening to classical music coming from my 3-year-old’s closed-door ballet class, longing to get a glimpse of what she was learning. But her ballet school has a strict student-only policy until the day of the recital, which left me in the dark about her pliés and pointed toes. Even when she emerges from her class with a smile stretching from ear to ear, she won’t show me what she’s learned, insisting that I have to wait until it’s my turn to watch. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 5 2014

I Can’t Say These Words to My Kids, So I’ll Say Them to You Instead

By at 3:16 pm

shut up

It has been one of those days.

The kind where I wake up in the middle of the night to find that my 5-year-old daughter has crawled into my bed again and now her feet are wedged under my head and I can’t fall asleep for hours, and when I finally do I am woken up by a steady clunk of big boy feet and arms and bodies. They’re happy and excited to start the day. They want me to make them breakfast, check their homework, hug them, kiss them, find their jackets, mediate their arguments, solve their problems.

That’s when I hear the words in my head. They’re small at first, tiny whispers that could be soothed with just a few moments of peace. But, the bus is coming and they NEEEEEEEEED me and there is no peace. So those words swell into an enormous bubble that is going to erupt any minute. Read the rest of this entry →

How Moving to Israel Taught Me to Actually Listen to My Kids

By at 1:39 pm

How Moving to Israel Taught Me to Listen to My Kids

I don’t know about you, but most of the time when my kids are talking to me, I am not fully listening. “Aha” and “Oh that’s great!” roll off of my lips as I glance in their general direction while I am cutting a cucumber, finding a lost shoe or wondering why there is still not a match for that pink sock. Sometimes my kids notice this lack of attention and scold me by saying, “eyes on mine,” to be sure that my limited attention will find its way to them. But with three kids, managing our home and my work, there’s a lot to keep me distracted.

Our recent move to Israel has helped me slow down and focus more because what they need me to focus on is becoming more pressing than “look at this cool Lego thing I built.” In their way, they are processing what it means to have left the place where they felt at ease, to join a new culture as an immigrant. “I just don’t know what’s going on,” my son laments, because his first grade teacher in Jerusalem doesn’t speak to him in English. And my 3-year-old pines, “when am I going to have a playdate with my friends from my old school?” The ninth of never, I don’t reply. “Everyone here has black eyes,” my daughter continues, talking about the mizrachi (Jews who are eastern or oriental in origin) children in her gan (nursery school), who are very different from the blue or green-eyed classmates in Sag Harbor. Read the rest of this entry →

Everybody Else’s Perfect Kids

By at 11:54 am

everybody else's perfect kids

After nearly two and a half years of living in the San Francisco Bay area (a temporary break from our lives in Israel), I am trying to keep my head above water. It seems that in today’s middle class America, everybody else’s kids are no less than perfect.

Until 2012, my kids grew up in an Israeli suburb. I had an enormous social network comprised of mothers and children. Our house and yard were always filled with running, jumping, screeching, laughing, and the crying of not-perfect kids. With the exception of a couple of “hysterics,” my mommy friends had no illusions about their little angels. We freely exchanged accounts of parenting challenges including school struggles as well as developmental and behavioral setbacks. By and large, we were honest and supported one another.

Today, I also have a large social network of mothers. However, with the exception of a few “eccentrics,” my mommy friends are incredibly busy convincing each other and themselves about how wonderful their offspring are. It seems that everyone is a sports star, a rock star, and a genius. Read the rest of this entry →

Chicagoland Parents: Participate in Our Focus Group & Get Some Swag

By at 10:56 am

chicago focus group

Attention, Chicagoland Kvellers! We are looking for a few good moms and dads to participate in focus groups in Buffalo Grove, Skokie, and Oak Park/River Forest.

If you:

– Have at least one child under the age of 5, and

– Either you and/or your spouse/partner is Jewish, and

– You are raising your child in a Jewish or interfaith home, but are not particularly active or involved in the Jewish community

Then we are looking for YOU! Read the rest of this entry →

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