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Dec 4 2014

They’re Not Teaching Our Kids the Whole Truth in History Class

By at 3:46 pm

I Hardly Recognize the History My Kids Are Learning in School

When my son came home from school the other day, the first thing he said to me was, “I learned about the Mayflower today!” And an immense feeling of dread overtook me.

This is not the first time this has happened. Last month, he came home from school and said, “I learned about Christopher Columbus today.” And again, my stomach dropped.

Don’t get me wrong; I love how excited my son is about learning. And I definitely didn’t let him in on my worry either time. My problem is not his. My problem is that I spent eight years as a middle school social studies teacher. Read the rest of this entry →

May 16 2014

How Traumatized Are Kids By Gruesome Bible Stories and Fairy Tales?

By at 10:02 am

gruesome-stories

On a Shabbos morning some months ago, my husband, fatigued by minor surgery he had the day before, left the service in the main sanctuary of the synagogue and went into the small, empty chapel downstairs. He lay down on his back on a pew and closed his eyes. Soon, he told me, he heard the voices of young children.

“Do you think he’s dead?”

“He might be sleeping.” Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 4 2014

A Surprising Antidote to My Infertility Frustration

By at 2:42 pm

pregnancy test with calendar

I had been trying to get pregnant for a year. Twelve months of charting my body’s rhythms, of turning sex from an art into a science; twelve times allowing my hopes to soar and then scraping them (and sometimes myself) off the floor.

I felt like I was beginning to lose my mind. Every pregnant woman on the street was a personal affront, every baby shower invitation an assault. When Britney Spears announced her pregnancy, I ranted about it to anyone who would listen. I organized our schedule around my ovulation and measured upcoming events by what month I would be in if we were successful this time around. I stopped sleeping.

The lack of control was maddening for a control freak like me, but even worse was the waiting. I’m task oriented; if I had to wait around for this pregnancy thing to happen, I needed to feel like I was taking concrete steps that would contribute to our eventual success. Give up caffeine? Done. Track my temperature? Daily. Obsessively check for fertile cervical mucous? More often than I care to admit. Though it put us into a new and scary category of “medical problem,” I was actually relieved when the insurance company finally cleared us to begin fertility treatment, because it meant there would be new action to take and new partners helping us in this seemingly intractable process of getting pregnant. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 12 2013

How I’ll Carry on the Jewish Stories in my Interfaith Marriage

By at 7:21 pm

little girl reading book under blanket

My husband is not the first Jewish man I’ve ever loved. Years before I even met him, when I was 8 or 9, I was crushing on another Jewish guy. Huddled under a blanket at night with a flashlight and our family’s picture bible, I met Joshua, whose illustrated muscly arms, kind face, and friendly beard had me turning page after page. I watched him fight the battle of Jericho, and lead his people into Canaan. He was so young to have the great task of replacing Moses as the Israelites’ leader. Seriously, how do you follow an act like Moses? I was smitten.

But the truth is, it wasn’t only Joshua who had my heart. I loved all the characters in the stories I learned: Jacob, who must really have loved Rachel to work an additional seven years for her hand after Laban deceived him into marrying Leah; David, the poetic and musical son of Jesse, anointed to become one of Israel’s greatest kings; Abraham, to whom God promised descendants like the stars in the sky.

While my husband, like many of my friends, dreaded going to religious school, my siblings and I listened eagerly as our mother told us of vain and tortured Absalom and mimed him weighing his beautiful hair. Our eyes widened as we learned of Daniel, protected by God in the hungry lions’ den. We played along to a recording of “Elijah,” a children’s musical we found in a box of music my dad, our church’s choir director, received several times a year. We sang the names of each of Jacob’s sons, the 12 tribes of Israel. Read the rest of this entry →

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