Oct 6 2014
Last year I performed a magic trick. I made most of my “stuff” disappear. I never considered myself a hoarder, at least not the kind worthy of a feature on late night cable TV, but I held on to things, lots and lots of things, because I was sentimental. I thought getting rid of them meant giving up a memory. I was also convinced I would need all of these things later on. And lots of my stuff was around simply because I had spent so much money on it that I thought I hadn’t realized each item’s value yet. Surely I would need this stuff, use this stuff, wear this stuff, and amortize the cost of this stuff… one day.
My relationship to my stuff changed last year. In September, my husband, two young daughters and I celebrated Sukkot, the festive Jewish holiday commemorating the years the Jews were believed to be wandering in the desert and protected from the elements by God. For the first time, we erected a sukkah (a temporary dwelling) in our tiny backyard and invited friends over for customary meals inside the wood and bamboo structure. Many were familiar with Sukkot but I had to explain to others why I had invited them to eat off of paper plates in a crude tent decorated with my children’s art and fake fruit.
I took to the internet in search of something more than the clunky Wikipedia definition, and found a rabbi’s simple yet beautiful interpretation of this harvest holiday that changed the way I viewed space in my home. She suggested the acts of eating, sleeping, and celebrating in such a simple dwelling should be a reminder to us of how little we need to be happy and how freeing it is to just be with so much less stuff. The metaphor stirred something within me. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 3 2014
As a play on the Yom Kippur confessional prayer, the Vidui, we asked you, our readers, to confess one thing you felt sorry about this year (a Kvidui, if you will). And you delivered. This past week, Kveller’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter feeds were flooded with messages of self-reflection, honesty, and even some humor.
The idea of the Vidui is for the Jewish people to band together and collectively atone for each other’s sins. So now that the sins are in, here they are without names–because they belong to all of us. We hope that, by reading these, you can recognize some parts of yourself, and together we can purge ourselves of the impatience, self-doubt, guilt, and many other flaws we experience as parents.
Thank you so much for your honesty. We wish everyone a meaningful Yom Kippur and, if you plan to fast, have an easy one. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 1 2014
When my middle child was in kindergarten, he asked me, “Ish means not really. So why do we say we are Jew-ish, when we’re really Jews?”
I thought about my son’s question while watching ABC’s new sitcom, “Black-ish,” which premiered last Wednesday, September 24, 2014. (Yes, that would have been Erev Rosh Hashanah. The same night “The Goldbergs” premiered. Great scheduling, network guys!)
“Black-ish” tells the story of Andre, a financially successful African-American advertising executive, played by Anthony Anderson, married to Rainbow, an equally successful anesthesiologist, played by Tracee Ellis Ross (daughter of Diana, and, for what it’s worth, born Tracee Ellis Silberstein). Living a prosperous lifestyle in Los Angeles, Andre is worried that his four children are no longer Black, but rather Black…ish. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 30 2014
“What’s teshuvah?” my 3-year-old daughter asked as we were getting dressed for services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and talking about the holiday.
I explained that during this time of year from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, we can change things about ourselves and how we act in the world. I said, “If you don’t like how something is going, you can turn it around.”
She thought for a moment, then her face lit up and she said, “Like Daniel Tiger says!” Before I could figure out what the heck she was talking about, she sang, “When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.” Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 29 2014
While we were all busy blowing shofars and dipping apples in honey, something magical happened–Chelsea Clinton had a baby girl!
Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky–the ultimate political power baby–was born on Friday, September 26, at 7:03 a.m. (Did Chelsea choose the name from our Jewish baby name bank?) We’ve been eagerly awaiting this Clinton spawn for some time now, ever since her mother’s high-profile interfaith wedding to Jewish Wall Street guru Marc Mezvinsky. Read the rest of this entry →
I used to have the right idea for Yom Kippur. I liked the notion of an entire month to clean up my messes from the past year, and I worked hard to deliver carefully worded apologies. The promise of a clean slate appealed to my resolution-making personality. And I appreciated the fact that the obligation to make life improvements deeper than, say, eating better, differentiated the Jewish New Year from the secular one. I was a High Holiday superfan.
This year, however, I’ve found it difficult to focus solely on my faults, my wrongdoings, and my petty behavior. Enough about me, I’ve found myself thinking. Let’s talk about you.
I realize it’s not in the “High Holiday spirit” to preoccupy myself with the ways I’ve been wronged, but I can’t stop thinking about the few relationships in my life that could use some healing. One friend, in particular, I’ve drifted apart from due to so many layers of back and forth “offenses” through the years that I’m not even sure how the tension started or why. I’m willing to do my part, but I refuse to take all the responsibility. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 23 2014
My children and I will be spending the High Holidays apart this year. This is nothing new. When my now ex-husband left our home in Albany five years ago and moved back in with his parents on Long Island, part of our agreement was that our son and daughter would spend most of the Jewish holidays with him and his family. They were 2.5 and 5 years old at the time.
During the first year of our marriage separation, I travelled to Long Island with my children for Passover. I was not ready to let go. It was all so new, this idea of not being with my chubby-cheeked babes every moment of the day. I stayed with a friend-of-a-friend who opened up her house to me, aware of my tenuous grip on sanity as I prepared to leave my kids for a full day with their dad and grandparents for the very first time. I was scared.
Of course the visit went just fine, and subsequent holidays and alternating weekends carried on without me. My children are now 7.5 and 10 years old. They love the car rides down to Long Island, visits to museums, and–most importantly–time with their dad and grandparents. They are truly lucky to be loved by so many caring people. For this, I am blessed. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 22 2014
One of the overarching themes of the High Holidays is atonement. In synagogue on Yom Kippur, we say the Vidui prayer, a confessional, in which we pound our chests and fess up to a host of sins that we, collectively, have committed throughout the year (i.e. I have lied, I have cheated, I have robbed).
This year we’d like to tweak the Vidui a little bit. Taking inspiration from one of our most popular High Holiday posts in which Jordana Horn adapted the Vidui for parents, this year Kveller will compile our own inventory of modern day sins and confessions. This is where you come in! Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 18 2014
I will never forget the first time my parents took me to Kol Nidrei services, and the congregation stood, as the night fell, to put on their tallitot (prayer shawls). After the blessing, those who were standing like a forest of people all around me picked up their tallit and draped them over their shoulders. The movement of hundreds of people in silence all together was stunning. That silence was incredibly beautiful–and the wind that I felt from the lifting of the fabric felt to me, a small girl, like the wings of angels beating.
Eileen Price’s recent post on Kveller, “I Won’t Force My Kids to Attend High Holiday Services,” prompted me to respond. In my opinion, it is incredibly, incredibly important to bring children to services for the High Holidays. There are so many reasons, but to my mind, it all boils down to two simple ones:
1. No matter how Jewishly observant a person is the rest of the year, this is a time when all Jews come together as a community. Read the rest of this entry →
Football is a big deal in my house. Between my husband and three sons, there are seven fantasy football teams to root for. We have two Jets fans, one Giants fan, and one (ever hopeful but disappointed) Raiders fan. As you might imagine, it is not a quiet house. Especially on Sundays.
My 9-year-old son has a huge collection of football jerseys; he wears one to school each day, selecting it with care to coordinate with his fantasy players for the week. Recently, as I was hanging up his laundry, I perused his jerseys. Many belonged to players whose names I didn’t recognize. And then I came across three that I did: Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Michael Vick.
The jerseys were purchased when these players were football heroes on the field, before we knew of their (alleged) crimes against their wives, children, and animals. My boys looked up to these football stars and were proud to wear their jerseys. Unfortunately, these players instantly transformed from esteemed athletes to abusive criminals when their shocking stories were revealed. Read the rest of this entry →