Nov 18 2014
My Jewish grandmother is stereotypical—and proud of it. She’s short, round, warm. She loves to bake (or, as she puts it, “to potchke in the kitchen”) and to play bridge and Mah-Jongg with her friends. She finds nachas in her family. Perhaps above all else, she’s desperate for great-grandchildren.
So when she found out that I was gay, her first response to me was a despondent, “You’re not one of those, are you?” Then she sobbed. And for a while, she would only say, “We’ll see,” when invited to meet my partner.
My partner, now wife, wasn’t upset by any of this; her parents had her quite late, so her mother is of the same generation as my grandmother, and thus Fi is experienced with the quirks and prejudices some elderly people can have. She kept me calm by reminding me that it would take a while for my grandmother to absorb this news, and that we had to understand that it’s painful for people to give up on the dreams and expectations they have for their relatives. And, if the worst happened and Grandma never came around, well, that would be dreadfully sad, but we reside in another country and could just go on with our lives as we liked. She felt sure we’d get through this together, as we had gotten through many other things. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 17 2014
Adam Mansbach is an author of contemporary literary fiction, including the books “Rage is Back” and “The End of the Jews.” However, he’s undoubtedly best known as the author of the New York Times best-selling classic of subversive parenting, “Go the F**k to Sleep.” In that book, Mansbach articulated the deep, almost primal frustration of a parent whose kid just won’t go the…well, you get it. The book was an immediate sensation. His new book, “You Have to F*cking Eat,” taps into that same seemingly bottomless reservoir of parental annoyance, also to humorous effect.
Mansbach took time last week to chat with Kveller contributing editor Jordana Horn about Lenny Bruce, radical honesty and when it’s OK to unleash parental F-bombs.
When you’re not writing these books, would you call yourself a “potty mouth” in real life? Is your internal narrator a Lenny Bruce-esque salty sailor?
Internally, I’m very much a Lenny Bruce/Richard Pryor mash-up. I come from the school of thought that, when properly deployed, profanity can be the most eloquent form of language we have. I grew up around people who cursed with skill and took pleasure in it. When I’m talking to myself, I sound like this in my head all the time. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 13 2014
One Friday night in early August two strangers showed up at my door and dropped off a baby. It was almost anticlimactic.
My partner and I had gone through the foster care certification process months before, and had been patiently waiting for a call, but there was no morning sickness, no bloating, no endless doctors’ appointments, and no labor. There was just me, getting a call on my cell phone while I cooked Shabbat dinner. Would I like a 1-month-old baby girl? Yes? See you in a few hours.
Those few hours were a blur. I called my partner and told him we were having a baby, and could he stop on his way home and get diapers and wipes? (God bless Jesse Bacon for being the kind of person who was not only not horrified by this turn of events, but was in fact incredibly enthusiastic and happy.) Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 12 2014
Moms, did you ever wish you had a quick and easy template for a playdate invitation to stick in a cubby or hand to a woman who looks like a potential friend? Well, you’re in luck. Just check off the applicable boxes, and you’re good to go. Soon you—I mean, your kid—might have a new best friend!
Dear Mom of: (Check off one)
[ ] child my child’s same age and gender, so come on, it has to work
[ ] child that is more popular than my child so I’m trying to help my child out
[ ] child I have never seen but this one time I saw you reading a book I like so I’m hoping we’ll be friends
Ever since we talked at: Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 11 2014
“My daughter, the Hebrew School dropout.” Those weren’t exactly the words I had in mind when I enrolled Hannah in Hebrew school when she was in kindergarten. And all went well for a few years…until there were some rumblings in 5th grade. But I gamely ignored them, and we soldiered on.
And then middle school hit like a tsunami. Hannah was normally a fairly calm, methodical kid. Not anymore. Her anxiety levels spiked as her secular school workload increased. She placed high expectations on herself, expecting straight A’s every marking period. I remember begging her, “Get a B. Just get a B in something and you will see that the world won’t end.”
Add in a long drive to Hebrew school and an extra two hours of class once a week, and Hannah was on the verge of cracking. When she came home from Hebrew school she would sob in my arms. She didn’t connect socially with her peers and she wasn’t learning anything new. She would stay up late at night to finish her homework and then do cartwheels and handsprings in her bedroom to calm her nerves. It was wearing both of us out. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 10 2014
Getting ready for your winter getaway? You’ll be happy to hear we’re teaming up with HydroChic to give away one of their bestselling swim shirts to one lucky Kveller reader.
HydroChic is lifestyle active wear that doubles as swimwear, is sun protective, and is designed to be worn both in and out of the water. Their tops and bottoms–including short sleeves, long sleeves, skirts, skorts, shorts, and pants–offer a full range of UV protection and coverage, and are super fun to mix and match. There is a style for every shape and size: Missy XS-XL and plus sizes 0X-4X. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 7 2014
We know the rule: picking up hitchhikers is bad. It’s been drilled into our heads from a young age, along with other stranger-danger situations and how to avoid them. Parents and educators teach children to be wary of strangers, and try to impart a survival savvy that they hope will never be needed. And in addition to the parental and school warnings are the many movies and TV shows that reinforce these concepts. We know that when a scene features a naïve driver picking up a hitchhiker, it will not end well for someone. Needless to say, we’ve been warned.
So then, what possessed me to pull over for a hitchhiker on my way to work?
I rolled my window down, and there she was: a woman with salt and pepper colored hair, a brown cardigan, and orthopedic shoes. She was at least 75 years old, and seemed to be in distress. She explained that she’d missed her bus, and was going to be late for an important doctor’s appointment. She told me the address of her doctor, which was coincidentally near my office, and she asked for a ride. What else could I do? I told her to get in. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 6 2014
Recently, Kveller received the following note from a reader:
I often read Kveller, and was wondering if your website could shed some light on an issue I’ve been struggling with. I am an Orthodox woman in my mid-20s, and I have a lot of sexual curiosity. I am a virgin and plan to stay that way until I marry, but at the same time, I would like to explore my sexuality and not feel guilty about it, and am wondering if this is possible within a Torah framework. I would venture to say that there are many other women in the same position as I am. Does exploring one’s sexuality taint it? Is it against halacha [Jewish law] to discover what excites one sexually? Is female masturbation permitted? I would really appreciate some grounded knowledge through a Modern Orthodox lens, and believe that others would benefit from it as well, instead of having to guess and/or feel guilty. Thank you.
We turned to our own Tamar Fox to handle this tough but important question:
Dear M, Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 5 2014
After nearly two and a half years of living in the San Francisco Bay area (a temporary break from our lives in Israel), I am trying to keep my head above water. It seems that in today’s middle class America, everybody else’s kids are no less than perfect.
Until 2012, my kids grew up in an Israeli suburb. I had an enormous social network comprised of mothers and children. Our house and yard were always filled with running, jumping, screeching, laughing, and the crying of not-perfect kids. With the exception of a couple of “hysterics,” my mommy friends had no illusions about their little angels. We freely exchanged accounts of parenting challenges including school struggles as well as developmental and behavioral setbacks. By and large, we were honest and supported one another.
Today, I also have a large social network of mothers. However, with the exception of a few “eccentrics,” my mommy friends are incredibly busy convincing each other and themselves about how wonderful their offspring are. It seems that everyone is a sports star, a rock star, and a genius. Read the rest of this entry →
Attention, Chicagoland Kvellers! We are looking for a few good moms and dads to participate in focus groups in Buffalo Grove, Skokie, and Oak Park/River Forest.
– Have at least one child under the age of 5, and
– Either you and/or your spouse/partner is Jewish, and
– You are raising your child in a Jewish or interfaith home, but are not particularly active or involved in the Jewish community
Then we are looking for YOU! Read the rest of this entry →