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Oct 31 2012

The Only Thing I Miss is Halloween

By at 7:58 pm

halloween candyWhen I became observant I gave up half of my favorite foods and TV and shopping on Saturday. I don’t miss those things one bit.

What I really miss about my old life is Halloween.

Read the rest of this entry →

A Very Hasidic Halloween

By at 3:39 pm

As some people prepare their costumes and get their candy appetite ready today for Halloween, others still will not be celebrating this day of spookiness. Like Matthue Roth, who fills us in on what’s it like to be a hasidic Jew in Brooklyn on Halloween in the comic below. Enjoy!

(Click to enlarge the comic.)

Oct 29 2012

News Roundup: Straight Talk About Vaginal Birth Risks, Middle School, and Breaking the Breast Milk Bank

By at 8:39 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.


Here’s a yucky but important topic: vaginal tears that result from vaginal childbirth. Turns out they may be a lot more widespread than most doctors know or admit, and can cause fecal matter through the vagina, flatus incontinence, and pain. Learn more so you can talk about it with your doctor ahead of time. (Motherlode)

Pretty much everyone agrees that middle school is the worst. But no one is really trying to make it better. Now researchers are discovering that helping middle schoolers have a better time predicts whether or not they’ll stay in school, and how successful they’ll be. (Slate)

As a mom you’re probably taking pictures of your kids and family all the time. But how often do you get in front of the camera yourself? One mom reminds us that someday when we’re gone our kids will want pictures of us, and we shouldn’t be erasing ourselves from our family’s photographic history. (Huffington Post)

A mom in Texas made it to the Guinness book of world records for donating a whopping 87 gallons of breast milk to her local breast milk bank. (NY Daily News)

Bikini Line Grooming & Other Conversion Questions

By at 2:15 pm

As a candidate in a conversion class at my local Reform synagogue, who can I ask the pertinent questions?

I’m not talking about which prayer to say over challah, either. They give us plenty of books, and I can always head to Kveller when I’m in need of the day-to-day questions. I’m talking about the really personal questions, like, “Are you supposed to shave your hoohah before the mikvah?” because I definitely can’t ask my rabbi in the middle of class with 20 other candidates on a Saturday morning.

I’m by no means shy… but asking a rabbi about shaving my nether regions is even beyond me. I don’t want to be known at synagogue as the one who asked the hoohah question.

A friend of mine who I met in the conversion class said she once asked her Jewish stepmother if she could use her seder plate as a Thanksgiving hors d’oerves tray. The answer was yes, but she felt so weird about it that she decided to use another platter instead. I once got brave and asked in class why Jewish people binded things to their heads and hands. The reaction I got was, “I’m a Reform Jew, so I don’t have to do that…” which is fine, but it didn’t answer why some choose to do it (or not).

My European husband and I are vegetarians, as if being über liberal and converting to Judaism didn’t alienate us enough while living in a small town in south Texas, both heavily Republican and Christian in nature (not that there is anything wrong with that, to quote the wonderful Jerry Seinfeld). I can’t help but wonder if we’re vegetarian, does that make our house automatically kosher or do we still need a blessing? I assume we’d need a blessing, but you feel silly asking. I would also assume that it can’t be done until the conversion is complete. Another topic yet to be brought up in class is kids. We have two young kids. If we convert, do they have to convert, too, or do they get into the tribe by proxy?

That’s the thing about being a Jew by Choice: we don’t grow up with the innate knowledge of how to do things, because we don’t see the people around us doing them. In my case, I grew up in an Irish Catholic family. It’s an extremely hard (and sometimes lonely) path when the faith of your birth is the wrong one for you. There is a delicate balance to finding your own way spiritually without pissing off your parents and extended family. My husband, Sephardic by genealogy, but agnostic in faith, can’t guide me, either.

Personally, I’d implement an “Adopt a Bubbe” program as an add-on for conversion candidates. It would give you a go-to person to get answers that you’d trust. However annoying or silly they may be to the person answering them, they are meaningful to the one posing them. At the same time, it would be also be nice to have someone to share Sabbath dinner with on occasion to make sure that you’re doing it right. I know we are told that you can’t do it a wrong way, but there are times it feels innately wrong to me.

Oct 26 2012

Kveller Hits of the Week: October 22-26

By at 3:31 pm

This week’s most popular posts, in case you missed them.

– Making A Fabulous Birthday Party With Just One Hand. Mayim Bialik only has one hand to run her family these days, so she couldn’t handle baking a birthday cake from scratch. Her improvised solution? An ice cream sundae bar, complete with a 1950s soda jerk costume.

– Why We Chose A Jewish Day School Over Public School. Avital and her husband put off making a decision about their children’s schooling for as long as they could. Between public school, montessori school, and Jewish day school, they had several good options, and while Avital was leaning toward the Jewish school, her husband wasn’t leaning with her. Read about how and why they ended up at a Solomon Schechter day school.

– Can We Afford Jewish High School? One family that has been sending their kids to day school through middle school now has to make a decision about high school. With a double curriculum and a massive price tag, the choice isn’t going to be easy.

Shopping For My Daughter’s First Bra. Have you ever said a blessing in a department store dressing room? This mom (and rabbi) took her daughter bra shopping, and celebrated the beginning of womanhood with the shehecheyanu prayer.

Mom, Lawyer, Jewish Breast Cancer Crusader

By at 12:23 pm

breast cancer pink ribbon

As part of our month-long series dedicated to Women, Work & Money, Rochelle Shoretz tells us how she went about founding Sharsheret, an organization for Jewish women facing breast cancer.

I decided to study law because I thought it would open doors.

I was a second year college student in New York City, spending most of my time thinking about those doors–worrying about what was behind each and what I would forego when I had to choose just one. And so I simply wouldn’t choose. I entered law school not for the law degree, but for the skeleton key I thought I would find there for almost any other profession. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 25 2012

My Kids Do Plenty of Chores But Don’t Get an Allowance

By at 5:17 pm
alina adams son chores allowance

My overworked, exploited child.

If dispatches from the 8th grade trenches are to be believed, when it came time for everyone to go around the room and answer–en Espanol!–what chores they did around the house, my 13-year-old son was the most overworked in his peer group.

He loads the dishwasher. He takes out the garbage. He sweeps the kitchen floor. He sorts and folds the laundry after it’s been washed. He takes his younger brother to school in the mornings and he babysits both his siblings in the evenings when we go out. He also, on those rare weekend mornings when my husband and I try to sleep late (i.e. until 9!) has been pressed upon to produce a toaster waffle or a bowl of cereal for the younger two. Read the rest of this entry →

Why We Chose a Jewish Day School Over Public School

By at 9:47 am

I can still remember being 5 years old, sitting in the hallway outside my kindergarten classroom, while my buddy–an eighth grader–taught me the Ma Nishtana, the four questions for the Passover seder. Eight years later, and it was my turn to help a new kindergartner learn the tune and words to the same questions.

I’m a Schechter gal, through and through. From kindergarten through eighth grade, I attended Ezra Academy, a Solomon Schechter Jewish day school in the suburbs of New Haven, CT. Not only did I attend the school, but my mother was there long before I started, teaching a variety of grade levels before settling into her current position as the school’s computer instructor. The Jewish day school experience was an integral part of my childhood, and one that I truly look back upon fondly. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 23 2012

Shopping for My Daughter’s First Bra

By at 9:45 am

white cotton braAs I cradled my 7-hour old dark-haired beauty in my weary arms, I imagined this day. My pre-teen (the term “tween” had yet to be invented) and I would have a quiet lunch in a café, talk about the exciting changes that awaited her, and then head to Nordstrom for her very first bra-fitting. Like with so many parts of parenting, what I imagined bore scant resemblance to reality.  And not for one moment did I ever imagine that our outing would take place in her 10th summer. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 22 2012

Can We Afford Jewish High School?

By at 2:57 pm

high schoolI am a yeshiva educated NYC girl. I was raised in Brooklyn and grew up Orthodox. Jewish liturgy has been ingrained in me since the ripe old age of 3 when my parents first enrolled me in a formal educational setting.

Yet somehow–even during those rebellious teen years when I left the confines of my comfortable yeshiva high school for the mean and unexplored streets of public high school–I knew that someday I’d feel compelled to give my kids the same basic Jewish foundation I got as a child. And not one that would entail Hebrew school two hours a week, but one that would fully immerse them in the traditions of their ancestors, that would provide them with a real ability to read, write and speak the language of their forefathers and to understand why we Jewish people have continued to carry on these traditions since the beginning of time. I felt that inherent understanding of their natural born identity could never truly be passed onto them in any other conceivable way. Read the rest of this entry →

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