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Oct 9 2013

This Pregnant Ladino Pop Star is Amazing

By at 2:07 pm

It’s not often we hear of a Ladino (Judeo-Spanish dialect) singing pop star with contemporary style such as Sarah Aroeste, a Sephardic singer who has spent the past 10 years harmonizing the sounds of tradition and modernity for audiences around the world.

Ladino dialect originated by Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492, and although it’s a fairly difficult language to come by, Ladino music is experiencing a slight revival, especially with singers such as Aroeste.

Even better, her video for “Ensuenyo Te Vi” features Sarah walking around in cork wedges, pool side, accompanied by a muscular man and cascades of roses. Oh yeah, and did we mention she was six months pregnant when the video was shot? And that she looks amazing? It’s worth a watch. Enjoy!

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Dec 24 2012

Celebrating Christmas with My Jewish Grandmother

By at 5:09 pm

stockings“Mommy, is Grandma Dede Christian?”
“No, sweetie, she’s not. She’s Jewish.”
“Then why are we doing Christmas with her?”

This is the conversation I had with my 4-year-old daughter the other night over dinner. Grandma Dede is my beloved paternal grandmother, and today we are driving to New York to celebrate Christmas with her and the rest of my extended family. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 21 2012

Who Does Your Baby Look Like?

By at 1:28 pm

When I found out I was having a boy, I assumed he would look like his dad. My husband is the spitting image of his own father. On top of their physical resemblance, both are economics professors and both ran cross-country in college. I never have to wonder what my husband will look like in 30 years–during any holiday celebration I only need to look over at my father-in-law.

But when my son arrived, he looked like me. Instead of being bald like the baby pictures of his dad, he was born with a head full of dark brown hair; instead of his father’s blue eyes he had dark brown irises, just like mine. Even my ever-eager-to-stake their genetic claim in-laws agreed: he was my child. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 18 2012

My Rabbi Outed My Conversion on Facebook

By at 9:34 am

I have lost a couple of friends over my conversion to Judaism.

At least, it seems to be the reason after I mentioned in passing that my husband and I were going to start conversion classes. The next thing I know, none of my repeated phone calls get returned and they are no longer my friends on Facebook. No other reason could possibly make sense, because we hadn’t had a fight or falling out.

The other most common reaction when people learn I’m converting to Judaism is to invite me to a Christian bible study. Now, this reaction may be more common here in the Bible Belt, but it still strikes me as odd. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 13 2012

Why I Want My Kids to Learn Russian

By at 3:19 pm

My mom, my son, and Lenin.

Just in case having one husband, three kids, and a half dozen freelance writing jobs weren’t enough, I’ve recently added another activity to my already tottering plate: taking the three aforementioned kids (expressing varying levels of enthusiasm) to JAR-Ptitsa, a new program at our temple designed to teach Jewish children about their heritage via music, art and drama… in Russian.

My African-American husband had no objection to it (especially as it leaves the house to himself for several hours while we’re gone), but he did point out, “You realize that’s the equivalent of me teaching the kids about their culture at a Friends of the Confederacy meeting.”

His point being: Why am I so determined to teach my children Russian when it’s the language of a country that, as far as he’s heard from every Soviet immigrant he’s ever met (and he’s met more than his share; not to mention spent many an evening as the only non-Russian speaker in a crowd), Jews were at best shunned, on average mistreated, and at worst, killed? Read the rest of this entry →

The Better Way to Read to Your Kids

By at 1:46 pm

siblings reading to each otherSometimes, while all four children are seated at the table, shoveling cheerios down their o-shaped mouths, I have tried to limit breakfast battles by reading a book.

It does not seem to matter what kind of book I read in the early hour; they all listen and concentrate on the tale at hand. With my children ranging from teen, tween and post-tot, it fascinates me that each child is able to enjoy the story, no matter what their reading level is. This has led me to think about the power of picture books and early reading comprehension. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 12 2012

Have Yourself a Vodka Latke Party

By at 4:00 pm

My favorite holiday memories revolve around my mother’s Hanukkah parties.

Three generations of Americans, Israelis, and Russians gathered in our small home by moonlight, their stories and voices and accents braiding together.

Old Hanukkah tapes would play, the almost-twangy music filling the spaces between food and loud and food and talk and food and fun.

Latkes were eaten, sufganiyot were devoured, and more than a few dreidels were spun.

My memories of these parties are golden, and their lesson equally bright: Hanukkah is meant to be a celebration. A fun one.

Today, my husband Jason and I are ready to create our own version of my mother’s parties for our (adult!) friends, with a twist.

Enter: The Vodka Latke Party. Read the rest of this entry →

Cinnamon-Sugar Coconut Doughnuts–A 15-Minute Hanukkah Recipe

By at 9:21 am

If you’re still looking for new recipes for these last days of Hanukkah, look no further than this simple treat from Sina Mizrahi, author of the kosher food blog The Kosher Spoon.

For those who are especially busy during the week, make these easy 15-minute Cinnamon-Sugar Coconut Doughnuts. They are a breeze to make, requiring no yeast or rising time. Their texture is perfectly fluffy, with the dough being dense like cake rather than airy like traditional doughnuts. They are also moderately sweet, and the coconut gives a hint of flavor that’s pronounced yet subdued. A wonderful recipe for your busy, light-filled Hanukkah.

Cinnamon-Sugar Coconut Doughnuts Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 11 2012

A Christmas Lesson for My Jewish Son

By at 9:41 am

“…and I tried a new recipe this year, orange zested cranberry sauce. I think it was a hit. And the turkey! You should have seen the turkey we–”

My friend, who I had been catching up with, suddenly stopped mid-sentence. He glanced over at me, an apologetic look taking over his face.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Do you, you know, even celebrate Thanksgiving?”

My raised eyebrow and pointed stare were enough for him to start backpedaling. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 10 2012

Is There a Right Way to Decorate for Hanukkah?

By at 9:59 am

“But why CAN’T we put up blue and white lights?” pleaded Lilly.

It was not the first time that one of our children has asked this question. Nor, as evidenced by the following advice from the 1959 Guide for the Jewish Homemaker, was this the first time a Jewish child had desired to emulate her neighbors:  Read the rest of this entry →

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