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Feb 3 2014

News Roundup: How Are We Supposed to Feel About Woody Allen?

By at 4:22 pm

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

woody allen

- 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

A Lesson from The Lorax on Tu Bishvat

By at 9:39 am


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

What to Do About the Bris When He’s in the NICU

By at 1:59 pm


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

Why I Circumcised My Sons

By at 8:44 pm

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 →

News Roundup: Circumcision is good, boys in Nevada don’t do it

By at 3:01 pm

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

Circumcision: When the Father Says Yes & the Mother Says No

By at 4:37 pm

crying newborn babyWhen 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

Weekly Roundup: Mohel’s ‘Smallest Penis’ Tweet, Australia’s Maternity Bonus

By at 5:04 pm

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

mohel tweet about smallest penis

- 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

Big Fat Canadian Bris

By at 11:21 am
Gifts at the bris

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 →

Jul 29 2011

Roundup: Giving birth during the Bar Exam, not banning Circumcision, and Octomom

By at 3:30 pm

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

-It’s over! It’s over! Remember all that brouhaha about banning circumcision in San Francisco? Well guess what? It’s off the November ballot. “After a judge ruled Thursday that state law expressly preempts local jurisdictions from regulating health care professionals.” Where will Foreskin Man fly off to next? (San Francisco Examiner)

-Speaking of the law, a pregnant woman went into labor yesterday while taking the bar exam in Illinois. That wouldn’t be so remarkable except that she finished the exam! And then gave birth two hours later. Before the test she informed the proctor that she was nine months pregnant and asked for permission to leave in case she became a screaming bloody animal (what, was that just me?) went into labor. (

-Mayim Bialik tells all about choosing her baby names. Find out why she chose Miles Roosevelt and Fredrick Heschel and what their connection is to  the names Meir Rosh and Ephraim Hirsch.  (NameCandy)

-An awesome slide show about how to handle tantrums in public. (MadameNoire)

-Octomom and her brood on the Today Show. My favorite part is when Ann Curry has to rescue one of the kids who is trying to escape. (Today Show)

Jul 6 2011

Israeli Jews: They’re Just Like Us!

By at 10:15 am

I just got back from my 10-day trip to Israel through Birthright, the generous organization that takes any Jew living in America between the ages of 18-26 on a free trip to the Holy Land, and I have to say, I’ve got a lot on my mind. Too much, really, to fit inside a blog post. And since I have a lot of catching up to do in the land of Kveller (i.e. I don’t even know whether Natalie Portman held a bris for her baby yet), I’m going to skip the whole big recap for now and leave you with just this one fond memory:

Wherever you go, even in the Holy Land, people have opinions on circumcision. Case in point–I managed to capture this from the bus on the way to Tel Aviv:

I believe what that van is blocking out is “Freedom of choice for newborns.” So even though this debate is getting a little annoying and at times totally out of line, it’s sort of nice to know that it’s not just us crazy Americans who spend hours discussing the rights of our baby’s penises. It’s us crazy Jews everywhere.


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