Feb 20 2014
It was my second time meeting with Chana with the hopes of renting her Jerusalem apartment. I was in Israel on a research grant and following an ulpan (intensive Hebrew immersion course) in Jerusalem, had moved to Tel Aviv to be closer to my university. After just a few weeks of living by the water, I felt pulled back to Jerusalem.
Chana went through a checklist of the idiosyncrasies of the apartment. It would be furnished and I would not need to, nor would I be permitted to, bring my own bed. The school across the street could be loud at lunchtime. There was no dishwasher, of course, but I was welcome to use the laundry machine provided. And then almost as an afterthought she added, “Shabbat. Of course you keep Shabbat.”
“Well,” I started. And that was the beginning of the end. “I may turn on the lights here and there.”
“No. No turning on and off the lights. You must keep Shabbat.”
“No. No. I cannot. My friend rented to someone like you and first she had a car accident. Then…” her voice trailed off. “No. I cannot take the risk.” Read more →
Feb 20 2014
It’s my first job interview after a two year lull (because in the corporate world, birthing two children in 20 months, moving continents twice, and pursuing a law degree in a foreign language is considered a lull).
But first, some serious sprucing is in order, if only to help mask the “I breastfeed for a living” I imagine emblazoned across my forehead. I have only one chance to convince them I can make it in this ruthless, three-inch heel environment. One new suit from Ann Taylor and visit to a salon for a new hairdo later, I’m not quite a corporate superwoman, but close enough. Read more →
Feb 20 2014
Our daughter has the lucky advantage of being the first grandchild and having incredibly generous and thoughtful grandparents, aunties and uncles, and friends who have gifted her everything and more than a toddler could dream. She’s got toys, books, puzzles, stuffed animals, Legos, blocks, dolls, Play-Dough, art supplies galore, musical instruments, a kitchen set, a doll house, balls, a scooter, games, her very own swing-set outside in the backyard, and she’s only 2.5 years old!
Not only does she have more than she needs, she also has more than she can handle. She plays with maybe half of her toys, though she likes to pull 98 percent of them out when friends come over to play. I am nervous that we are setting a precedent and potentially creating a child who will feel super entitled and will want more, and more, and more, and NOW. How do we make sure she appreciates all that she has in the world? Read more →
Feb 20 2014
As part of our month-long series dedicated to Jewish Disability Awareness Month, Lisa Friedman, a Jewish Special educator and advocate for inclusion, shares her guiding principals for creating a learning environment that is accessible to all students.
In my role as an Education Director of a synagogue’s Hebrew school, I have the good fortune to be able to use my skills to develop programs that enable students of all abilities to learn and thrive in a religious school setting. As an advocate of inclusion, I help guide my community to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities to participate and find meaning through all aspects of synagogue life. Yet, not all synagogues have a Jewish Special Educator. Not all synagogues have a professional who advocates for inclusion. What can parents of children with disabilities do to ensure that their children are fully included in Hebrew school?
First and foremost, open and supportive communication is essential for a successful Jewish Hebrew school experience for any child, but especially those with special learning needs. Be forthcoming about your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Do not assume that the school will turn you away or will not be able to accommodate your child’s needs. Share your child’s IEP, successful strategies from home and other information that will make it easier for your child to be successful. I am not suggesting that this is a magic bullet. There may be bumps and disappointments along the way. But without the willingness to have the conversations, you will never know what is possible. Read more →
Feb 19 2014
It’s a match made in Barbie doll heaven.
Each year, in time for summer, Sports Illustrated features in its annual swimsuit edition bikini-clad bombshells with doll-like faces and Barbie-esque proportions. Well, this year the magazine is making waves (pun intended) by modeling in its pages–instead of a real woman–the buxom, blond toy herself.
Naturally, there’s been a bit of a backlash, with many accusing the men’s magazine–which has long been the center of controversy for its objectification of women–of further dehumanizing the female form by substituting it with that of a lifeless doll. Read more →
Feb 19 2014
My community’s beloved Crown Market–serving the Greater Hartford community for 74 years with kosher products, butcher, deli-style prepared foods, and catering–announced this morning it was closing its doors. The Jewish community here is reeling. Increased competition in the area is cited as the cause but the horrifying truth is I am the cause.
We are all the cause.
I chose to shop at the new neighborhood Wal-Mart because we wanted to save money. What I realize now, much too late, is that if I had shopped at Crown and paid a little bit more, I would have been supporting this important part of the Jewish community that we cherish and love. And now, with a heavy heart, I admit I was wrong. I apologize. I know that isn’t enough. I wish it were. I wish I could promise to shop there for now on. I wish I could get 500 families to pledge to do the same. I wish I had known they were in trouble so I could have done something, anything. Read more →
Feb 19 2014
Somewhere between watching the twentieth video clip of my friend’s son doing his signature jig to Gangam Style and listening to an epic recap of his latest trick, I realized I had just about had it. And this is how I came to find myself googling “How to tell your friend to please stop talking incessantly about her child,” my search yielding 8,600,000 hits and making me immediately feel less alone.
Do I sound heartless? I hope not. I really don’t begrudge new parents their abundant zeal for waxing poetic about their child’s adorableness or their eager recounting of sleepless nights and diaper disasters; I tend to indulge their rambling stories with pleasant equanimity, and with close friends I sometimes possess a genuine interest. And heck, I was that parent once too. I remember what it’s like. Read more →
Feb 19 2014
It was a day I will never forget. Last week, I was at work when I received a call from my daughter’s preschool. I was told that she is fine but she is saying she is very tired and is lying on the couch sucking her fingers (her go-to when nervous or tired). I said I would be right over. Since I work next door to the JCC where she attends, it makes it convenient.
I went over and sat to talk with her asking if anything hurt. She said “no.” I asked her if she wanted to go to dance class and she said “no.” Now I knew something was up, as she loves her dance class and dressing in her leotard and tutu. I asked if she wanted to go home and she said “yes.”
Once we were home and settled I felt and kissed her forehead but she felt cool. We had lunch and she ate heartily. We started watching the movie “Cars” and I turned to her and asked her if she was not only tired but was she missing mommy. I knew the response before she said it. She said “yes, I missed you.” Read more →
Feb 18 2014
I knew this day would come. Huddled under the covers with her favorite pink teddy bear, while in-between stories about faraway lands and enchanted princesses, she turns her whole self away from me and asks: “Mommy, who’s my daddy?”
Oh God, not that. Anything but that.
I think about the perfect portrayal of Prince Charming in the book we just read and I wish I had my own fairy godmother here right now to wave her magic wand and poof–give me all the right answers.
How do you tell a little girl who hasn’t seen her father in over three years that the man she wouldn’t recognize if she met him on the street lives only 15 minutes away? How do you describe the guy who locked his own child out of his home, changed the locks and never looked back?
You don’t. Read more →
Feb 18 2014
I was out of town without internet last week and when I returned and read through Kveller I was shocked when I saw the reader responses to Rachel Minkowsky’s birth trauma post. I thought about it over the weekend and all I can come back with is that the majority of the comments were so uncharacteristic of the Kveller community but clearly the post triggered a lot of emotions for our readers.
Rachel wrote about something that happened to her that she is struggling with and has struggled with for three years. Common feelings about the human birth experience that many, many mothers share. She was told that she has no right to grieve her birth because her baby was healthy, because she could have had it worse. Her opening her heart turned into a birth-trauma pissing contest for everyone to read and chime in.
Would we tell a mother who lost a child to get over it because at least she only lost one child when others have lost two? Where does it end? Read more →