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Oct 30 2014

The Jewish Case of Halloween Envy

By at 9:47 am

halloween envy

Christmas envy has been well documented. There are many Jews who are less than subtle about their yuletide longings: the lights are shimmery and sparkly, that tree smells fantastic, the music is just so very merry, and who doesn’t want an eggnog latte? Many of us have made our peace with the little bits of the all-encompassing Christmas barrage that we have come to love–I myself feel like I can have my Bing Crosby and eat it, too. But this time of year there’s another sort of envy happening in Jewish necks of the woods: Halloween envy, or as I like to call it, Halloweenvy.

Unlike Christmas, Halloween isn’t technically a Christian holiday, and therefore, it’s harder to avoid. Of course, many Jews, or probably most Jews, celebrate Halloween. There are, however, Jews who believe that Halloween is an idolatrous, pagan holiday, and that as such, celebrating it is not only not our custom, but it’s actually against Jewish law. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 29 2014

Attention, Parents! RSVPs Are Not Optional

By at 2:00 pm

attention parents: rsvps are not optional

For my son’s 10th birthday we decided to go all out. We arranged a private showing at the planetarium. We rented a nearby community building for cake and festivities afterwards. The theater holds 60 people, so we decided to invite his entire class along with our family and friends.

The graphic designer in my office went to town designing a beautiful invitation based on the show “Cosmos,” since that’s what our son Joey enjoys watching. I had them printed and wrote each of the 24 kids’ names in his class on envelopes for Joey to pass out.

I expected that we wouldn’t get a full response. I’ve been a mom for 10 years and I’m used to the lack of RSVPing…but I wasn’t prepared for how bad it would actually be. I got four RSVPs. FOUR! Three of them were from the moms who I know personally in the class. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 28 2014

How My Family Will Celebrate This Year’s “Shabbatoween”

By at 9:42 am

How My Family Will Celebrate This Year's "Shabbatoween"

Growing up, Halloween was never something I celebrated. My Orthodox parents didn’t think it was appropriate for their children to go around trick-or-treating, and since most of my friends’ parents felt the same way, it was never something I felt I was missing out on. (Besides, we had Purim, which to me was just like Halloween, minus the spooky stuff.)

My husband, on the other hand, grew up trick-or-treating and loved it as a kid. So last year, when my son was almost 2, we decided to take him trick-or-treating, and he had a blast (even though we confiscated the vast majority of his candy once we got home, as we weren’t about to give him free reign over his stash). I know Halloween is one of those gray areas for a lot of folks who are Jewish—after all, celebrating Halloween is not the same thing as celebrating Christmas or Easter, but it doesn’t seem to be as accepted a holiday as Thanksgiving, which many observant Jews celebrate without hesitation. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 24 2014

We Don’t Know What to Make of These Little Princesses Dropping F-Bombs

By at 12:55 pm

f-bombs for feminism

Listen very carefully: Tell your kids to go into the other room. Turn down the volume, or put on your headphones. And watch this video of some very adorable little girls dropping some very graphic language in the name of feminism (NSFW!!!): Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 23 2014

Why This Jewish Dad Didn’t Want a Bris for His Son

By at 1:54 pm

tray of corned beef for a bris

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 →

Five Great Kids’ Books That Will Actually Help You Parent Your Preschooler

By at 12:36 pm

The 5 Children’s Books I Couldn’t Parent Without

Parenting a preschooler can sometimes feel immense and impossible. The sheer fact that my kid might have lifelong memories of something I did or said haunts me at night. I’ve already trudged through the muddy waters of newborn and toddler stuff and came out (barely) on the other side with some sense of confidence and strategy. But with my firstborn, I wake up each day to unknowns and I’m often up at night Googling how to best connect with him.

I have found that if I’ve talked with my son about something, it helps tremendously if the concept is reinforced by some sort of media. For example, we’ve been talking a lot about wasting water. Money and worth, in general, are very hard concepts for small children to wrap their brains around. I initially tried with “water costs money” and that approach was a giant intangible fail. So now, when the water is running while he is watching his tongue dance in the mirror, I tell him that we don’t want to waste water because it is a precious resource and it might go away someday. Just like the trees in “The Lorax.” He seemed to get that. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 22 2014

Has the Bat Mitzvah Party Overtaken the Bat Mitzvah?

By at 3:57 pm

My Problem with the Booty Short Bat Mitzvah

I knew bat mitzvahs were a bad idea. I told my husband this in 2001, about 20 minutes after we returned from the hospital with our two new daughters and he said, “My parents want to know when the baby namings will be.”

I like to think of the baby naming as a “bris for girls,” a custom created by Reform Jews rather than God and therefore, in my mind, totally optional. So, over babies crying, I hollered as best I could—given the fresh incision across my abdomen—that there’d be no baby namings. Then, as I struggled to attach a newborn to each of my nipples, I added, “And there’ll be no bat mitzvahs either. So tell your parents not even to ask.”

But they did ask, and so did my husband, who typically asks for nothing. Read the rest of this entry →

Free Stuff Alert: Win Tickets to “My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy”

By at 2:03 pm

win tickets to "my son, the waiter"

Need a night out on the town, sans kids? Of course you do! Which is why if you live in New York or plan to visit the big apple soon, you’ll definitely want to enter our latest giveaway to win a pair of tickets to see this hilarious show critics call “hysterical, heartfelt, timely and poignant.”

My Son The Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy” is Brad Zimmerman’s hilarious and inspiring story about the grit and passion required to “make it” as an artist, and the sweet rewards that come from never giving up on your dream, even when it means waiting tables for 29 years. It’s the only “tragedy” that’s been dubbed “90 minutes of non-stop laughter.”

The show is playing at Stage 72 – Triad Theatre in New York City. We have one pair of tickets to give away to a lucky reader to choose a date that works for them (excluding Saturday nights). To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form below and we’ll choose a winner next Wednesday, October 29th. To learn more about the show, check out the website here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oct 21 2014

Four Years After Adoption, My Son is a Bar Mitzvah

By at 11:54 am

adopted son's bar mitzvah

My son’s bar mitzvah was three years in the making–ever since he told me his “good news”: that he “wanted to be Jewish.” This was only about nine months after I adopted him and his older brother from Brazil, as they were turning 9 and 12 years old. Though he had barely mastered the English language, my son Davi was anxious to start learning yet another language… and Hebrew, no less.

To change over from their previous beliefs in and practices of the Christian faith in favor of becoming Jewish was not an expectation I had for either of my sons. I wanted their religion to be their decision–more important to me was that my sons be spiritually connected, and live a just and moral life. Davi’s decision took me completely by surprise. There were no real clues about his thinking beforehand, yet once he started out, he never looked back. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 20 2014

Why I Talked to My Preschooler About Sexual Abuse

By at 3:59 pm

why i talked to my preschool son about abuse

My middle son told me something the other night that made my stomach twist into a painful knot. He told me that his preschool teacher wasn’t very nice to him, but he hadn’t told me about it before because he knew that I liked her.

This may seem like a little thing. But, it isn’t to me. Until that moment I had been sure that my kids trusted me enough to tell me about the things that are important to them, the things that they are worried about. The fact that he’d gone a whole year holding back his feelings really frightened me.

I asked him a million questions after that. What had she done to make him not like her? Did she mistreat him in any way? Make him feel uncomfortable? Unimportant?    Read the rest of this entry →

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