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Mar 24 2014

If You Don’t Vaccinate, Keep Your Kids Away From My Baby

By at 4:39 pm

vaccine

I’m a pretty laid-back parent about most things. My kids eat dirt, play with (plastic) knives, and spend a lot of time on the counter helping me cook. I rarely think to warn others when they have colds (I’m trying to remember!), because I would never expect the same. Colds are a part of life, and will probably help them in the long run, as frustrating as they are now. My kids run around, make messes, get sick, get better, and generally (I hope) have a lot of fun. (It’s not always fun for me, especially the mess part.)

But yesterday I did something totally not laid back, and to date, totally out of character. I e-mailed the director of their daycare to check on the vaccination policy, essentially to make sure that it required all the kids to be current in their vaccines (with exceptions for medical or religious issues.) My girls, who actually attend the daycare, are totally up to date, and I’m not worried about them. But there’s a little guy as well, not quite 1, and not quite ready for the MMR vaccine, and he comes with me most days to drop off his sisters. And he’s swarmed by all the adorable preschoolers who just love little guys and want to love him with their hugs and kisses, which, usually, he loves. And there is a measles outbreak a couple of states over and a couple of little ones (also not quite 1 and also not quite ready) are really, really sick.

I don’t want my little guy to get really, really sick, and the thing is that he could. He easily could right now, as the number of unvaccinated children is growing and growing. If one of them was carrying the disease (possibly without showing symptoms) and came into contact with my vulnerable little guy, that could very easily be it for him. Too easily. This time, it wouldn’t be an annoying and even deeply frustrating cold, or fever, or even something worse that would be rough for a while but he would ultimately recover from without any lingering effects. Not necessarily. Measles, for some kids, are really really bad. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 20 2014

Though I Dropped Orthodoxy, This Passover I Will Celebrate with My Orthodox Wife & Kids

By at 7:00 pm

matzahs1

It’s Shabbat afternoon, and the girls are putting on a beauty pageant in our living room. To their 8, 6, 4, and 1-year-old minds, it doesn’t take much imagination to see our modest floor as a full-fledged stage, red carpet and all. The TV has been off for the last 20 hours, in accordance with Orthodox custom.

We’re fortunate in that our kids entertain each other very well–even the baby, who, at 1.5 years old, is more like a pet dog to her older sisters than a playmate with a fully-formed identity and equal rights. My wife Rikki and I are sitting on the couch, alternating between reading our books, watching the kids, chit-chatting, and dozing off. It looks like the lazy Shabbat afternoons of so many observant Jewish families, but then I do a quick check on my phone to see when Shabbat is over. My phone tells me we have a half hour more to go. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Up until a year and a half ago, I was observant–if not unhappily, then begrudgingly. But a year and a half ago, my increasing apathy towards the Orthodox lifestyle turned to antipathy, and I stopped practicing. This naturally created an imbalance, for we had specifically built our family around a lifestyle that requires intensive participation from all parties. And here I was, just recusing myself. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 19 2014

Win an Autographed Bronfman Haggadah & iPad Mini!

By at 2:14 pm

Win an autographed copy of The Bronfman Haggadah and an iPad mini

Whether we like it or not, Passover is coming in less than a month (April 14 to be exact). To get you into the spirit (and to ease your seder-plannng anxieties), we’ve got an exciting giveaway for Kveller readers.

The Bronfman Haggadah, written by the late Edgar Bronfman, a renowned philanthropist and Jewish leader, and illustrated by acclaimed artist Jan Aronson, is a visually gorgeous haggadah and a radical reimagining of the traditional Passover text. With a diversity of powerful readings from abolitionist Frederick Douglas to Ralph Waldo Emerson to poet Marge Piercy, this haggadah transmits a positive message about the capacity for peace and understanding and will be a welcome addition to any seder.

the bronfman haggadah, inside

Four lucky winners will receive their very own autographed copy of The Bronfman Haggadah, and one very lucky grand prize winner will get an iPad mini (16GB, wi-fi, non-retina) along with the autographed book. To enter, fill out the form below and we’ll choose a winner next Wednesday, March 26th.

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Mar 17 2014

Tova Mirvis on Motherhood, Orthodoxy & Her Latest Novel “Visible City”

By at 10:40 am

 Tova-Mirvis

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Tova Mirvis about her new book, “Visible City,” the all-consuming nature of parenting, and the freedom that comes with accepting imperfection. 

In “Visible City,” unlike your previous novels, Judaism isn’t a central theme. What took its place in this book? 

To write a novel, (especially to write a novel while you have three kids!) you have to be really obsessed and consumed by a subject; it has to pull at you all the time. With my first two novels, “The Ladies Auxiliary” and “The Outside World,” I wanted to explore issues of belief and doubt, and the tensions between community and individuality, tradition and modernity. On a personal note, those books were a way for me to grapple with my own upbringing and life as an Orthodox Jew. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 13 2014

That Time My Daughter Didn’t Let Me Walk Her into Preschool

By at 10:32 am

sarah-tuttle-family

“I want you to have roots and wings,” my mother used to say to me from as early as I can remember until the day she died. And I think of this during preschool drop-off on cool mornings when the sun slants softly through my 5.5-year-old daughter’s curls.

“Honey, do you want to go in without me? We can do our hug and kiss goodbye out here if you want.”

And some of the other kids go in alone without their parents: This is the beauty of the community we live in–the Middle East’s answer to Mayberry, USA, where every child is everyone’s child, and we all live and love and learn together even when it ain’t easy. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 12 2014

Purim and My Awkward Use of the G-Word

By at 12:01 pm

mask-god

I’m a fan of Purim. Yes, I love the costumes, the hamantaschen (chocolate filled, not fruit), and the general revelry that’s vastly different in atmosphere from other holidays. What I surprisingly like most about Purim, however, is the way it forces me to think about the spark of the Divine in my life, or I guess you could call it a higher power.

Okay, I’ll just say it without any euphemisms. Purim makes me think and even talk about God, which is a strange sentence for me to type. For all the writing I do about Jewish topics, I don’t use the G-word very much at all. When I try, it feels forced and unnatural, which is true when I’m in conversations offline as well.

Although I grew up with a strong cultural Jewish identity surrounded by tons of Jewish friends, nobody I knew in my family or in my social circles ran around dropping the G-word. In contrast, I hear my Orthodox friends say “Hashem” with so much ease and frequency that I never know what to say in return. It’s a conversation stopper to say the least. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 10 2014

Can a Christian Mother Raise a Jewish Child? Yes, but It’s Complicated.

By at 10:21 am

challah-interfaith

During a recent parent-teacher conference, I learned that my 8-year-old daughter Sophia was asked by a classmate at her Jewish day school, “So your dad is Jewish and your mom isn’t?” Sophia responded, “Yes.” The other child said, “You know if your mom’s not Jewish, then you aren’t either.” According to a teacher who overheard this conversation, Sophia responded, “It’s complicated,” and walked away.

When the teacher told me this story, my first reaction was anger at the other child and my second reaction was regret that Sophia hadn’t dished out a firm retort: “Yes I AM Jewish, I was converted by an Orthodox rabbi when I was a baby, and, by the way, it’s none of your business anyway!”

I could go on. But it would go south fast, as in, “And you go tell whatever parent or rabbi who taught you it was ok to question someone else’s religious identity to shove…”

OK, I admit it. I’m a little defensive…actually, more than a little. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 6 2014

Your Kid’s Terrible T.V. Shows Make for Lovable Purim Costumes

By at 6:50 pm

Your Kid's Terrible TV Shows Make for Great Purim Costumes

This winter was rough. There is nothing like a Polar Vortex that can undermine a lifetime of painstakingly implemented household rules and limitations. That tight ship you run has long been sunk by a tidal wave of television shows. Well, since Purim is around the corner (March 15th, to be exact), why not make the most out of your child’s newfound obsession with “Dora,” “Wonderpets,” or whatever infuriating cartoon your kids are into these days.

Here are some costume ideas inspired by your child’s favorite–and your most reviled–T.V. shows of all time. The more annoying the character, the more kids have a tendency to love them to pieces, so these guys are sure to be a hit:

1. My Little Pony.

This is the perfect choice for little girls who love to get glammed up. There are so many ways to do “My Little Pony.”  Think: glitter, fake lashes ($6.99), pink hair extensions ($9.99), and make-up. Star Song ($29.99), Pinkie Pie ($29.27), Rainbow Dash ($26.79)–take your pick. Read the rest of this entry →

Minimalist Parenting: Another Trend I Don’t Have the Time For

By at 10:10 am

Minimalist parenting: Another trend I don't have time for

Over at Today Moms there is a story on minimalist mom who “spends nothing on her baby or her toddler.”

British blogger Hattie Garlick instituted a spending freeze on all kid-related items last year after losing her job. Now she says she enjoyed it so much that she is carrying on the plan this year, with a monthly “get out of jail for free” card. (She doesn’t mention how much one is allowed to buy with this card.)

I think we can all agree that as a culture we need to chill out on consumption. It’s not good for our wallets or our planet and most of our kids could do with a lot less. But praising “minimalist mom” without acknowledging the amount of time that goes into procuring hand-me-downs is misleading and wrong. These “free” things she finds? They aren’t free at all. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 4 2014

Breaking News: ScarJo is Preggers! Mazal Tov!

By at 1:43 pm

scarjo

We called it! In 2010, though she was not yet a mom, Scarlett managed to make Kveller’s Top 20 Most Stylish Jewish Mommies in History.

Suzie Felber wrote:

She grew up without much money in New York City, is GQ’s woman of the year, does all sorts of charity works and was, until very recently,  married to People Magazine’s Sexiest Man 2010.  OK fine, she doesn’t have kids, so probably doesn’t count.  But come on — tick tock — she’s going to be on this list (along with Alicia Silverstone) in no time flat. Read the rest of this entry →

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