Oct 30 2014
Looking for a way to learn more about Jewish customs, but tired of reading all those… words? Our friends at G-dcast have just released a new series of animated videos all about various Jewish lifecycle events, so you can sit back, press play, and learn something new.
Three of the videos may be particularly pertinent to Kveller readers, as they’re all about–you guessed it–babies. Below, check out videos about Jewish naming practices, a traditional bris, and baby naming ceremonies for newborn girls. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 23 2014
As soon as the ultrasound revealed that my wife, Abi, was pregnant with a boy, I started worrying about the bris. Not worrying about who would perform it, or where we would order the cold cuts from, but about the conversation I would inevitably have to have with Abi about the fact that I didn’t want our son to have one.
Being an accomplished catastrophist, I have a knack (and a formalized strategy) for making things seem worse than they actually are, and when it finally came time to have the dreaded summit with Abi about the dissection of my future son’s penis, it didn’t go anything like I had anticipated. It wasn’t stilted or awkward or painful, it wasn’t violent or even dramatic. I said, “Look—I don’t want Elijah to have a bris. It’s a medical procedure and it should be done in a hospital by a physician.”
She patted me on the shoulder and replied, “Gabe, I know you hate being Jewish; it’s OK. We’re having a bris and that’s it.” Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 3 2014
All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.
- Dylan Farrow, adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, published an open letter in the New York Times, claiming she was sexually abused by Allen when she was 7. Meanwhile, Allen’s documentarian highlights some inconsistencies in this now decades-long case. So what are we to make of all this? Elissa Strauss writes for The Sisterhood that it’s OK to be ambivalent. (Forward)
- The abortion rate in the United States is at its lowest point since 1973, when the supreme court legalized the procedure in all 50 states. No conclusive evidence yet as to why, but many are linking the drop to the availability of new, long-acting contraceptive methods. (Washington Post)
- Another newborn has contracted neonatal genital herpes from metzitzah b’peh, a controversial circumcision rite in which the mohel places his mouth directly on the circumcision wound in order to draw blood. The practice is not used in most Jewish circumcision ceremonies, but many in the haredi Orthodox community still adhere to the rite. (JTA)
- Preschool is totally trending right now, with more and more states from both sides of the political divide making a serious push for government-funded preschool. (NY Times)
Jan 16 2014
Deep in the Grickle-grass, some people say, if you look deep enough you can still see, today, where the Lorax once stood just as long as it could before somebody lifted the Lorax away.
One page into Dr. Seuss’s timeless classic and Jewish symbolism is abundant. The presumed gravesite of the Lorax, protector (creator?) of the trees, is surrounded by stones. In the animated movie adapted from the book, the Lorax and forest creatures bring stones to surround tree stumps after they have been cut in vain. Similarly, in Jewish tradition, small stones are placed at grave sites and when we bring these tangible stones and roll them around in our fingers, we can still feel our loved one; we can still feel the impact that has been made on this life.
The Lorax is often mentioned when we talk about Tu Bishvat, the New Year of the Trees, the Jewish holiday associated with environmental conservation. In Genesis, Adam is placed in the Garden of Eden to “keep it and watch over it.” And the value of bal tashchit, “do not destroy,” has become the Jewish earth day anthem. The book absolutely teaches us that trees are sacred, but if we look deeper there is so much more. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 8 2014
For most Jewish couples expecting a son, the decision to have a bris isn’t really a decision at all. It is a time honored tradition, a mitzvah, a tenant of the Jewish religion.
I, however, wasn’t so sure. Our daughter was our first, so when I got pregnant with my son, it was the first time I really gave a bris any thought. To be honest, I just wasn’t sure I wanted the circumcision to take place outside of a clean hospital without a physician. After much thought, and knowing how much this meant to my husband and family, I agreed to the bris. And since I am the consummate planner and organizer, I planned the details down to where we’d get the bagels and lox.
As I entered my third trimester I had a typical plan in my head for my baby boy’s first week. I knew I was having a C-section so after four days in the hospital we would go home and on his eighth day, our family and friends would celebrate my son’s bris. There is a Yiddish phrase that translates to “When you make a plan, God laughs.” When I had a placental abruption at 33 weeks and my son was whisked off to the NICU for what would turn out to be a month-long stay, my plans went out the window. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 27 2012
I’ve read many pieces, on Kveller as well as other places, by mothers who voiced misgivings about circumcising their sons. They were unsure about the procedure, or nervous about possibly causing their children pain. But having had two sons myself, I can say that I was unequivocally, unreservedly proud to circumcise them as Jews.
And now the American Academy of Pediatrics has just come out with a statement that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh its risks, and the decision as to whether or not to circumcise “should still be left to parents to make in the context of their religious, ethical and cultural beliefs.”
Hear, hear. Read the rest of this entry →
All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.
-As the debate over circumcision rages on in Europe, the American Academy of Pediatrics has shifted its position and come out in favor of circumcision indicating that the health benefits outweigh the risks. (New York Times)
-Circumcision rates vary greatly across the United States. Almost 90% of the baby boys born in West Virginia were circumcised in 2009 while the procedure was performed on only 12% of baby boys in Nevada. Want to know why? (The Foward)
-What is your parenting style? Jezebel offers a round up of the all the latest parenting fads. Hypnosis parenting anyone? (Jezebel)
-We asked for help, and Kveller readers respond here with their take on Jewish v. secular preschool. (Forward)
Jul 18 2012
When I tell the story of how my husband and I became a couple, I often leave out one important detail: the long conversation we had about circumcision on our first date.
While we were not even at the place where holding hands would have felt right, we somehow stumbled into an intimate discussion of whether or not we would circumcise a very hypothetical son. Among the things that had brought us together, and have kept us together since, was a shared commitment to liberal Judaism, based in years of education and involvement in the Jewish community. But when it came to circumcision, we could not have been further apart. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 23 2012
All the Jewish parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.
- Israel’s “Mohel to the Stars” Rabbi Zarki is under fire for tweeting “Today I circumcised a baby with the smallest penis I’ve ever seen – a ‘micro penis.’” In an interview, he further explains that “Sometimes you see a baby that weighs four kilograms, where three of them are the penis and sometimes it’s only a few grams.”(Ynet)
- We’ve survived through another Tax Day, but you still may want to know a little more about one of the most commonly evaded taxes: the “nanny tax.” (The Sisterhood)
- Marjorie Ingall is not the biggest fan of the new movie “Bully,” but is a fan of the new programs that Jewish schools are trying out to raise awareness on this unfortunate phenomenon. (Tablet)
- For an example of a company getting it right, this Australian insurance group not only offers their employees three months of paid maternity leave, but gives a back-to-work bonus when the new mothers come back to work. (Jezebel)
Nov 2 2011
Just your typical gift table at a Canadian bris.
What is the plural for bris? Whatever it is, I have been to many. But none compare to my BFF’s big fat Canadian bris.
My BFF lives in a small windswept Canadian city with a tight-knit Jewish community. It is small enough that there is no local mohel, so when a baby boy is born they have to fly in a non-yokel mohel. Because of this, the time of the bris is determined by Air Canada’s flight schedule. If the plane lands at 7:00 a.m., you will have a 9:00 a.m. bris, and if it lands at 3:00 p.m., you’re not the only one getting the shaft because you’ve got a 6:00 PM bris on your hands.
An explanation is in order. The time of the bris dictates what type of food must be served. A 9:00 a.m. bris means you can get away with serving bagels, lox, fruit salad, and pastries. But at a 6:00 p.m. bris, dinner must be served. Problem is, although it is a Jewish tradition that the whole community is welcome to a bris, no one takes this literally except in small-town Canada!
I thought it would be really cool if I, the sophisticated New Yorker, brought something yummy and kosher from the center of all yumminess and kosherness. When I offered to bring a couple of babkas from the famous Zabar’s in New York, my friend laughed uncontrollably. She appreciated the gesture, but she said three babkas would be bupkes. “How many people could possible show up?” I asked. “You’ll see.” Read the rest of this entry →