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Jun 15 2012

Kveller Poetry Corner: From Father to Son

By at 12:05 pm

baby holding dad's fingerFather’s Day is this Sunday, and we thought you’d like this short and sweet poem, from one father to his son.

When you fall asleep on my arm you make it ten times stronger.

When you lie on my chest it becomes a mountain.

When you wrap your hand around my finger no army in the universe can dislodge us.

I am father: giant, impenetrable, invincible, timeless, ageless, all seeing; cunning, determined, and when protecting you, utterly ruthless.

This is who I am now; this is what you have made me.

So my son, thank you for this first Father’s Day.



Jun 14 2012

Stories of Our Fathers: The Oyster Eater

By at 3:48 pm

oystersAll this week, we’re featuring stories of great fathers collected by the Jewish Women’s Archive in honor of Father’s Day. Today’s is from Ellen K. Rothman.

One night when my father was about 10 years old, he came downstairs looking for his mother. He paused at the top of the cellar steps. In the basement, he saw his parents and his maternal grandfather savoring a local delicacy–Chesapeake Bay oysters. In later years, my father would say that this night in 1933 marked the end of any real feeling he had for Judaism. He loved and respected his grandfather, a successful self-made businessman who was a pillar of the shul where my father would be bar mitzvahed and confirmed. But even as a 10-year-old, he knew hypocrisy when he saw it.

Still, my father never failed to make a generous contribution to the Associated Jewish Charities every year, he was famous for his skill at telling Jewish jokes, and without ever using the words, he instilled a strong sense of tikkun olam in his sons (two) and daughters (two). Did he make the connection between the importance he placed on service to the community–a value he both lived and passed on–and his Jewish heritage? I wish I had asked him.

To read more, head on over to JWA’s blog, Jewesses with Attitude.

Jun 13 2012

Stories of Our Fathers: The Big Thinkers Club

By at 4:30 pm

kid shoes with laces untiedAll this week, we’re featuring stories of great fathers collected by the Jewish Women’s Archive in honor of Father’s Day. Today’s is from Deborah Fineblum Raub.

“What do you think is the nature of reality?”

I gazed down at my untied shoelace, my skinned knee, the grass poking out of the sidewalk. “I dunno,” I shrugged. “What is it?”

“There is no right answer,” my father said, his corrective shoes keeping time with my own. “But it’s our job to keep asking the question anyway.” My Daddy knows a lot, but that did not make sense. Questions should have right answers like in arithmetic.

What l did know was it was summertime. I was 7. I had 27 freckles and two little sisters and Mommy was wearing the blue shirt again that meant another sister was coming. And after supper Daddy asked just me to take a walk. In the soft Ohio dusk I was initiated into the Big Thinkers Club. That fundamentally unanswerable “nature of reality” question, one that would eventually be posed to each of his five small daughters, gifted us with the chutzpah to shake our small fists at the limits of human knowing in a deeply Jewish way. It was, more than anything else, our father’s sweetest gift.

To read more, head on over to JWA’s blog, Jewesses with Attitude.

Jun 12 2012

Stories of Our Fathers: The Episcopalian Dad

By at 1:29 pm

sarah tuttle-singer with dad

Sarah and her dad.

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, we’ve partnered with the Jewish Women’s Archive to start a dialogue about Jewish fathers, and the non-Jewish fathers raising Jewish daughters. They asked women to share their own stories of their fathers, and we’ll be cross-posting a new one each day this week.

To kick us off, here is a story from our very own Sarah Tuttle-Singer:

My Episcopalian dad proposed to my Jewish mom on their very first date over Irish Coffee and she laughed at him. But, my dad had charm, and she agreed to go out with him again. And again. And again. And over the next eight years when he’d ask her to marry him night after night, she would shake her head and laugh. But then, one night, while stuck in traffic on the 405 Freeway near the Wilshire Exit, she said “Yes.” But with one condition: They would have a Jewish home.” And my dad agreed. Every Friday night, we lit candles for Shabbat. He went to Torah class with our rabbi. We kept Kosher. And my dad’s love for my mom allowed me to grow up in a home where I grew up loving Judaism.

To read more, head on over to JWA’s blog, Jewesses with Attitude.

Jun 11 2012

Thanks to My Dad, I Still Have My Bear

By at 3:10 pm
alina adams stuffed bear

Me with my beloved Misha.

In honor of Father’s Day, here’s one mother’s ode to her dad–a fond memory from her own childhood:

For my oldest son it was a yellow blankie and a stuffed Baby Elmo doll. For my middle son, it’s a Winnie-the-Pooh puppet that my mother sewed onto a blanket and that he carried everywhere until, today, Pooh only has a few loose strings hanging off him. For my youngest daughter, it’s a lamb’s head attached to a fuzzy body that she not only sleeps with, but puts on her boo-boos to make them feel better.

For me, it was a black bear whose limbs kind of moved, with glass eyes, a yarn mouth, and a nose where the fuzz was already staring to come off.

Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 8 2012

As the Father-to-Be, How Can I Help?

By at 12:55 pm
opera singer

Our baby will definitely be a fan of the opera.

Psst. Father’s Day is coming up on June 17th. In preparation for this joyous occasion, here’s an interesting perspective from a first-time-father-to-be.

I’ve been singing to my wife’s stomach lately and oddly enough, this doesn’t feel too strange. As Yael enters her third trimester and her beautiful belly bursts, I find myself looking for ways to stay involved in her growing process. I’m reading books and hearing stories, wondering all the while: does all this really prepare me for the epic change we’re about to experience? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 7 2012

Share the Stories of Your Fathers

By at 2:31 pm

cool jewish dad t-shirtFather’s Day is coming up fast, and we’ve just caught wind of an exciting project from the ladies at the Jewish Women’s Archive that’s all about dads. Your dads, specifically.

For their blog, Jewesses With Attitude, JWA is collecting short blurbs from Jewish women about their fathers, and the role they played in their Jewish identity and development. They also want to add some dad voices to the blog, so they’re seeking guest posts from Jewish fathers, or fathers raising Jewish children. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 17 2011

Friday Night: Father’s Day

By at 2:01 pm

Not my husband or my kid, but these guys are clearly bonding.

As a mom, you have a special relationship with your children. After all, you do carry them inside of you for 40 weeks (41, in my case). Those months of uterine massage (read: constant kicking) sure does make you love them. Or simply want them out out OUT!

One of the things my husband remembers best from our childbirth education class was that the instructor recommended that the father get to hold the baby, alone, for at least 10 minutes that first day. To help them bond. Dan thought it was kind of silly. Why wouldn’t he bond with his baby? But he did get those 10 minutes (and more, even) just a few minutes after our daughter was born.

Abigail has always loved her daddy, but I’m a stay-at-home mom (that is, besides the time when I’m working from home). Which means that I spend most of my time with our daughter, and it’s definitely strengthened our bond. But a few weeks back I went to a conference for three days, which was my first time away from her. And though she loves her babysitter, she didn’t love three straight days of babysitter. I got text messages from my husband that said things like, “Dress shirt covered in tears and snot.” Seems that there was some serious crying every morning when the babysitter showed up.

But when I came home, Abigail greeted me with happiness and I figured everything was just fine.

Until the next day, when she tripped and fell, and instead of wanting Mama to comfort her, she screamed for Daddy. I even tried and was told, “No! Want Dada!” Yeah. That’s a game changer.

So Happy Father’s Day, honey. I guess those first 10 minutes really did make a difference. And even though our daughter might love you a little more than me these days, I’m still going to let you sleep late on Sunday. (So keep that in mind when you’re doing the early shift on Shabbat morning!)

Affirmative Action for Dads

By at 12:09 pm

Editor: Can you help promote Neal Pollack’s father’s day post?
Editor: on the Facebook and Twitter
oh no when is fathers’ day?
this sunday, daddy-o

Okay, I was SO ON TOP of Mothers’ Day. We’re talking breakfast in bed, presents up the wazoo, distracting activities planned, and a little special something for after the kids went to sleep (yep, I scored us a copy of the unaired Buffy: The Animated Series pilot). Now that I’m a father, I (a) know the value of spoiling and flattering the woman who pushed my own next-of-kin out through her uterus, and (b) I appreciate all the tzuris that I gave my own mother when I was a kid. And a teenager. And a rebellious twentysomething living in San Francisco and dating pagan rock musicians. And, uh, when we came to visit last week.

But Father’s Day?! In our household, Fathers’ Day always seemed like a bit of a joke. At least, it has for the three years that we’ve had kids. I seem to remember one year, my wife let me sleep in? Except that I had to be up by 7:30 anyway to pray on time. And I do make a big deal out of trying to be an equal-opportunity parent, but the fact is, when I’m out of the house each week for 50 of the kids’ waking hours, there’s only so much ground I can cover.

Fathers’ Day feels like an affirmative-action holiday. As though someone was flipping through the official calendar records, going “Mothers’ Day? Check. Grandparents’ Day? Check. Secretaries’ Day? Check. Fathers? Fathers? Sperm donors? Uh, fathers who?” I’m reminded of Kwanzaa-bot from Futurama, who flies a sled through the air and gives kids a picture book called What the Hell Is Kwanzaa? Yeah: fathers get shafted. And, by my scorecard, it’s more or less deservingly so.

Having said that, I fully anticipate an all-out breakfast with hash browns and tofu scramble, a Jackson Pollack-esque card or two from my favorite avant-garde babies, a day at the park, and even a gift or two (this book looks awesome, for instance) (and did I mention that my birthday is a week after Fathers’ Day?). Why? I don’t have to answer that if you’ve ever made an art project with a 3-year-old or a 1-year-old before — because the most fun is in the process. And because, with two little kids, we need an excuse like this to force ourselves out of the house (packing food, nappies, water bottles, extra clothes, sunscreen, toys, and remembering to get all of us fully dressed). But mostly because any reason to party should be fully embraced…whether you remember in advance or not.

Jun 16 2011

Who Decided Dads Want This Stuff?

By at 10:40 am

Because I wrote a book about fatherhood and because I used to blog regularly on the topic, my email address has found its way onto many PR lists. This allows me to unwittingly and constantly gaze into the rotting, stinking, desperate hull of American parent-industry marketing. Do you really think I care that your E-list celebrity mom was spotted with a stylish diaper bag? Do I look like the kind of guy who writes about fishing poles? Or what a cornpone psychiatrist with bad hair thinks about schoolyard bullying? Please leave me alone!

It gets really bad around Father’s Day. For the last month, I’ve been barraged with constant “Great Gift Ideas For Dad” emails, some of which have actually caused me to scream at my laptop. In the last three days, I’ve learned about Father’s Day promotions for: a “ Share a Frosty With Dad” charity at Wendy’s, a photo-sharing application that encourages me to “take a snapshot with dad,” a weather-sensing sprinkler system that will “give your dad the gift of water savings,” a liquid that will “help dad remove that stain from his favorite armchair,” and an iPad cookbook app that includes a recipe for the horrible-sounding “Chipotle Spice Rubbed Beer Can Chicken.”

I’d like to call for a definition of fatherhood that doesn’t include shitty gadgets or corny grillmaster accoutrements. But what’s the point? That’s clearly the role in which I’ve been cast. Given an impossible-to-cast-off set of clichés, I’d at least like people to stop trying to sell me that conception, or any conception, of fatherhood, along with their how-to guide for Pulled Pork Quesadillas. Actually, those sound pretty good.

For my present, I bought myself a ticket to a play for an evening several weeks before Father’s Day. There was no other way to justify the expense, and no other present that I really wanted. No one tried to sell me anything, other than the ticket itself, which made me happy. I went to the play, enjoyed it, and didn’t have to think about being a dad for a second.

On Sunday, maybe my wife will make homemade biscuits and my son will take a few hours off from telling me that he hates me because I won’t buy him another pack of Pokemon cards. That’s all I ask. And to any PR people who might be reading this, please give me a few days off before trying to sell me stuff for the 4th of July.

To hear things from a different dad’s point of view, read the chronicles of a gay Jewish dad in birthing class. And if you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift that isn’t a grilling gadget, try one of these books all about fatherhood.


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