Sep 4 2014
On Tuesday, when he started school, my oldest son was the only Jewish boy in his class of 30 kids. There are many schools in which that statistic would not be unexpected; an Orthodox Jewish day school is not one of them. But that’s the way it goes here in Birmingham, UK–a place where, we learned upon moving here from the US, the Jewish population has been dwindling for years, but where the Jewish school continues as a thriving, competitive primary school, serving kosher lunch and celebrating Jewish holidays and Israel’s birthday.
As in a typical American Orthodox Jewish day school, my son will daily recite Jewish prayers and learn “limudei kodesh”–a Judaic studies curriculum. He and the other boys will keep their heads covered, per the Jewish tradition. On Friday afternoons, before school ends (early, to give students time to prepare for Shabbat), all the grades will convene for a Kabbalat Shabbat program. A Jewish boy will play “Shabbat Abba” and a Jewish girl will play “Shabbat Eema,” and the Abba and Eema will host a Shabbat table with grape juice, challah, and guests. Most of their guests will be Muslim.
In a climate of growing antipathy between Muslims and Jews everywhere, I could not be happier to be sending my son to a school that will allow him to declare, as he did after a week of camp in the UK, “I made a best friend here. His name is Abdul!” Maybe Abdul-from-camp came from a family and/or community that liked Jews. Maybe not. My son didn’t get to know Abdul long enough or well enough to find out. But at his Jewish day school, which has a growing Muslim population (this year it is estimated between 60 and 70%), there’s no doubt that the Muslims are learning with and about Jews by choice. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 3 2014
Here’s a sweet way to get your little ones excited about Rosh Hashanah: pint-sized t-shirts from Jewnion Label from their United Apple Dippers & Honey Drippers line! We love the taglines: “Sticking Together” and “L’Dor v’Dor/Jar to Jar.”
Jewnion Label makes smart, funny gear for all of the holidays, plus every day in between. Also themed around Rosh Hashanah: t-shirts, messenger bags, notecards, and more from the International Federation of Shofar Blowers (motto: “Shofar, So Good”), with a cheeky ram in the center.
We’ve got three free children’s “United Apple Dippers & Honey Drippers” t-shirts to give away to three lucky readers. To enter, just fill out the form below and we’ll choose a winner on Wednesday, September 10th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sep 2 2014
Sitting at my rising 6th grader’s middle school orientation, I was reminded, once again, that rearing our kids in a secular society can be a tricky proposition.
There it was, up on the PowerPoint slide: “Meet the Teacher Night: Wednesday, September 24th, 2014, at 7:00pm.”
September 24th…September 24th. Sounded familiar. A frantic check on my iPhone confirmed it; September 24th is the first night of Rosh Hashanah this year. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 27 2014
This morning started with a blast. Actually, many blasts. Our shofar has emerged.
Today is Rosh Chodesh Elul, the first day of the Hebrew month preceding Rosh Hashanah. There is a minhag (custom) of blowing the shofar every morning during Elul except for Shabbat and the day before the New Year. Though this traditionally takes place at synagogue after Shaharit (morning services), my spouse and I have a practice of blowing the shofar at home. We’ve been doing it for over a decade, having bought a shofar for our first wedding anniversary, but it takes longer than it used to. Instead of one person waking up the neighbors, now all four of us blow the shofar each day, my two kids eager and impatient for their turns.
We keep the shofar on our mantel until the High Holidays are over. When we have guests, they have a uniform reaction upon seeing the long spirals: “Isn’t that type of shofar harder to blow?” They are surprised when we tell them that not only is it easier to get sound from a long shofar than a short one, but even our kids can produce a recognizable “tekiyah.” Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 26 2014
For the past four summers, Kaspar has been a camper at Ramah Outdoor Adventure (ROA) in the Colorado Rockies. Kaspar has participated in ROA’s Tikvah Program for campers with disabilities, both as a participant in the Amitzim edah (division) for campers with disabilities and, most recently, as part of the camp’s inclusion program.
Ramah Outdoor Adventure has become her second home and, according to her parents, has been a big part of her everyday happiness and success. Kaspar hopes someday to become a member of ROA’s tzevet susim (“horse staff”). Below is her take on life at Ramah Outdoor Adventure.
Four summers. Four summers bursting with the harmony of cycles. Every year, the drive up, and up, and up. That in itself is enough to break some spirits.
But there it is: the homecoming. The cheering, the screaming of names. If you are a returning camper, you are passed around, admired, and soon bear the mark of a hundred dirt-encrusted hugs. Newbies are taken in, enveloped in a new universe that welcomes you with every ventricle of its beating heart. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 22 2014
Move over, Maccabeats.
If Pharrell’s “Happy” was the soundtrack to 2014 in your home (as it was in mine), then your kids will love this version of “Adon Olam.” I mean, it’s basically a mash up of the two most catchy songs in history.
Brought to you by Listen Up, a peppy Chicago-based a cappella group, you will NEVER get this one out of your head. The video was uploaded two days ago and already has close to 15,000 hits. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 21 2014
My first delivery went textbook-smooth. From the time my water broke until the time I delivered my daughter was nine hours, which is under the average of 10 to 24 hours for a first labor. The one thing I hadn’t liked: To get me through the first part of labor, my doctor had ordered some Stadol, a narcotic that is supposed to “take the edge off the pain.” It made me alternately sleepy and groggy. It was only supposed to last an hour or two, but it lasted much longer, and I was totally out of it by the time my baby was born.
By the time my second child was ready to be born, I was determined to do it differently.
When I got to the hospital, I wasn’t in active labor. I was contracting now and then, but the contractions didn’t hurt. The only sign was the bloody show I’d experienced overnight. My obstetrician insisted that was enough–I’d gone so quickly last time, and I was five days overdue now, so it made a lot of sense to get me into the hospital sooner rather than later. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 20 2014
Last month, my book club unanimously decided to go away for a night. I don’t remember who made the initial suggestion, but the idea sounded amazing to me. In the past few years, there have been days where my house is a disaster and my girls are crying and just as I’m about to lose it… my cat pukes on the rug. There are times when this Mommy needs a time out. Most of my friends are married and moms, and I knew they felt the same. We needed a break… so we took one.
We chose a destination, found a hotel, and made dinner reservations. We arranged for husbands and other family members to watch our children. As a group of eight, we evenly split ourselves into two cars.
It was all so simple. It was strange. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 19 2014
I’ve always wanted to have kids, three girls to be exact. I’ve had names picked out since the age of 12 (OK, so those names have changed several times, but still, I’ve been choosing names for what seems like forever). On my 21st birthday, I remember shocking my dad with the news that having kids would come first–even before the family business.
Fast forward to now. At the age of 32 and recently married, I’m not sure I want kids anymore.
What happened? Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 18 2014
“The Kissing Bandit” is an indie children’s book that celebrates the importance of positive affection between parents and kids. The brainchild of Jewish dads Jason Menayan and Aaron Dence, “The Kissing Bandit” started as a kickstarter campaign and eventually became an interactive story about the dapper Professor Roade who magically transforms into colorful bandit Edora, and a hand-made reversible puppet to go with it. This week Jason and Aaron will be giving away a book and puppet set to three lucky winners (enter the raffle below).
Meanwhile, we sat down with Jason to talk about his inspiration for the book and what he kvells about.
1. What was the inspiration for “The Kissing Bandit”? Read the rest of this entry →