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Jul 25 2014

The Miracle of Life Begins with Housework

By at 12:06 pm

Mopping floor

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

Baby #2 is due any day now. Since I never went into labor with my daughter–long story short: “failed induction” ending in a c-section–in a way, I feel like this is my first birth. So, now I’m back where I was a couple years ago during the last weeks of my pregnancy with Sylvie: curious, nervous, excited, wondering what it will be like, and reading a lot of birth stories to try and prepare.

The first time around, reading these birth stories, I was just trying to get a handle on the process. Transition, timing contractions, pushing…it was all new information. This time, even though I haven’t experienced those things, I know about them, so I’m focusing a little less on those details and more on the overall stories. And I’m noticing a common thread, which surprises me: Read more →



Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jul 25 2014

When I Converted, I Never Expected It Would Come to This

By at 10:13 am

Boycott-Israel-Protest

I’m scared.

I’m scared, and I have no idea how, or if, I should be sharing this fear with my children. With my daughter, specifically. She’s seven months away from her bat mitzvah. Luckily, it’s summer vacation and she’s not watching the news all that much. She’s not on Facebook like I am, with a newsfeed filled with reports of violence in Paris and endless updates about what’s happening in Israel.

See, I’m new to being Jewish. I wonder sometimes, five years after converting, if I’ll always feel somewhat new to being Jewish. I don’t have a protective, defensive shell built up. When I talk to my husband, to my friends who grew up Jewish, they aren’t shocked by the recent waves of anti-Semitism. They expect it, almost. One of the questions the beit din (rabbinical court) asked me before we went to the mikveh was why I would want to become Jewish. Why would I want to be a part of a group of people who were so often discriminated against and the object of so much hate? I replied that I felt like I already was Jewish: I was married to a Jewish man and raising Jewish children. Read more →



Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jul 24 2014

How to Keep Up With the News in Israel

By at 5:12 pm

JTA daily briefing

Unless you’re living under a rock with no wifi, you know that there is a lot going on in Israel and Gaza right now. But we’re the first to admit it can be hard to keep up.

While Kveller will continue to bring you stories and perspectives from mothers and fathers in Israel and beyond, we leave the hard-hitting reporting to our friends at JTA.

If you’re looking for the latest breaking news from the Middle East, we highly recommend signing up for JTA’s newsletter. It’s free, easy, and you’ll be able to follow along right as things unfold.

Sign up for JTA by clicking here.



Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jul 24 2014

Tweens Ditch B’nai Mitzvah Parties to Build Playground in Chicago’s South Side

By at 4:20 pm

tweens

The kids are alright.

Meet Marc Luban and Ariana Handelman, a pair of 12-year-old BFFs from Chicago who have decided to forgo the modern bar mitzvah party, often ostentatious affairs featuring celebrity performers like Christina Aguilera (rock on, Sam Horowitz), in favor of helping other kids their age. In a partnership with their temple, Anshe Emet Synagogue, and the nearby Bright Star Church, the 7th graders will design and physically build a playground to serve the Bronzeville community on the South Side of Chicago, which is plagued by high crime and has few safe places for children to play.

The kids of Anshe Emmet and Bright Star Church have teamed up in the past for several events and projects. In fact, it was when Marc and Ariana visited the church to watch Barack Obama’s second inauguration that they noticed the area lacked a decent play area. Read more →



Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jul 24 2014

Talking with Zach Braff, Kate Hudson & Mandy Patinkin of “Wish I Was Here”

By at 1:39 pm

Wish-I-Was-Here

As we’ve mentioned before, Zach Braff’s new movie “Wish I Was Here” gives us plenty to talk about here at Kveller. I sat down with three of the film’s stars, Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, and Mandy Patinkin, to talk about their Jewish connection to the movie, being a child no matter how old you are, and the hardest part about playing the role of a dying man. “Wish I Was Here” is now playing in select theaters, and will play nationwide starting tomorrow. 

On the role Judaism plays in the film:

Zach Braff:

My brother Adam and I wrote this, and he’s 10 years older than me. When he was a kid, my parents put him in Yeshiva. By the time they got to me, they downshifted to Conservative and kosher. Both of us have grown up to be adults who organized religion does not work for. We love the jokes, we love the humor, we love the culture, we love the fun of the family gathering. But we don’t relate to anyone giving an eff if I have a bacon double cheeseburger, or a bearded man in the sky judging us. Read more →



Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jul 24 2014

A Month After Making Aliyah, Trying to Shelter My Children From War

By at 12:19 pm

israeli soldier near iron dome

I have finally gotten around to reading Ari Shavit’s book “My Promised Land” about a month after moving our family from Sag Harbor NY to Jerusalem. At first it was too intense to read, isn’t there something a bit lighter–something on the New York Times‘ top 10 summer reading list–that I could pick up instead, especially at a time of war when things are so intense here?

But now, I find the media/internet/Facebook posting cycle so fast and dizzying that I need to slow it down–getting a little bit of historical perspective helps. Shavit’s book paints a picture of the triumphs, challenges, and tragedies associated with establishing the State of Israel.

But there’s one line that struck me so deeply. Describing the experience of an immigrant mother who had left Baghdad after the farhud (pogroms) there and immigrated to Israel in the 1950s, Shavit writes, “She pretended that all was well for the children’s sake, that this was some sort of sandy summer camp and not the end of the world.” Read more →



Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jul 24 2014

That Time I Brought My Baby on My Job Search

By at 11:07 am

job-search-with-baby

Job hunting with a new baby is a stress that no woman should have to experience. But there I was, on the hunt for a new legal gig, in entertainment law no less.

I had networked and sent out hundreds of emails in a flurry of excitement, nausea, and hope that one of them would land me a new job, and if not, at least an informational interview. Being on maternity leave with my older child in day care and my husband working full-time, I didn’t have last minute babysitting arrangement to rely on if an interview should come up. But, when an email landed in my inbox with an offer to convene with someone about my job search, I jumped at the chance to schedule a time to meet. With two weeks notice, I had plenty of time to arrange for someone responsible to mind my child, lose another 10 pounds of unwanted baby weight, and find the perfect outfit without any spit up on it.

The night before the meeting, with my child sensing the impending separation, I got no sleep. Instead, my perfectly sleep trained baby decided to sing and cry all night long, ensuring that the only way to offset the dark blue bags under my eyes was if I wore blue eye shadow on my lids. Of course, my husband slept through this command performance. Read more →



Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jul 24 2014

No Hatred in the World Can Take Away My Son’s Jewish Pride

By at 10:04 am

anti-israel protest

“Mom!” my son calls. He sees me coming over the hill. It’s clear he has been standing there since the last day of camp began, waiting to see me. It’s been a month: he’s taller. He hugs me, tightly, and I feel his love in my ribcage. I feel my own love for him beating in my chest.

We drive home in our comfortable, air-conditioned car. My son is exhausted, but talking a mile a minute in a voice made hoarse by weeks of nonstop chatter. He sprinkles Hebrew in his conversation. He sings songs, leans forward to share new details he hasn’t told us about yet. His face and his happiness glow.

My son has come home from Jewish camp with new pride and joy in being Jewish. Some would say it’s an epic case of bad timing. Read more →



Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jul 23 2014

How Do I Teach My Suburban Kids to be Environmentally Conscious?

By at 4:20 pm

Adamah-1

My husband is vegan, we’re raising our children as vegetarians, and we even started our own vegan cheese company. But I have a confession: I am still woefully ignorant on many food-related environmental issues.

Food labels, GMOs, and the intricacies of recycling and composting intimidate me, yet I want to make educating myself and my children about these issues a priority. I want eco-consciousness ingrained in them from an early age, much like I want them to enjoy physical activities and speak a second language. I know firsthand that it is much, much harder to change your lifestyle and habits later in life. A few years ago, I wagered with my husband that I could stay vegetarian for a summer and lost the bet halfway through when our friends invited us to the best steak house in New York. Actions speak louder than words, especially when you can’t talk with a mouthful of meat!

But the sad fact is, it’s hard for my children to learn eco-friendliness at home. We drive everywhere; we fill our garbage bin to overflowing every week; much of the food on our plates comes wrapped in packages and no longer resembles what it looked like when it first came into being; and we live in the suburbs, shielded from the natural rhythms of the earth. How am I supposed to help them make informed choices when I am not well informed myself? Read more →



Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Jul 23 2014

Jon Stewart Needs to Talk About Israel

By at 1:53 pm

Jon Stewart, who drew ire for his humorous spin on Israel’s recent intervention in Gaza, aptly demonstrates the real problem with talking about Israel. Maybe it’s time we changed the conversation to Ukraine?

 

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Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on Kveller are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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