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Mar 3 2014

Enter to Win a Haggadah Collection for the Whole Family

By at 4:57 pm

haggadot

If you’re planning a seder with kids, you’ve got plenty to worry about (can they really sit in their seats all night without spilling anyone’s glass of wine on the nice tablecloth?) Let us take one of those worries off your list: choosing the perfect haggadah. Thanks to CCAR Press, we’ve got three whole bundles of Passover haggadahs to give away that should please both the grape juice-drinkers and your more mature seder guests.

The bundle includes classics, such as “A Passover Haggadah” illustrated by Leonard Baskin and “A Children’s Haggadah,” as well as the new and innovative haggadah, “Sharing the Journey,” illustrated by Mark Podwal, which offers clear step-by-step explanations of the seder as well as inspiring readings and discussion starters. The bundle also includes “The New Union Haggadah,” a revised and updated edition of the classic 1923 “Union Haggadah,” which preserves the elegance of the original version while making it relevant to families today. There’s something for everyone in this bundle, whatever your seder style may be.

To enter the giveaway, fill out the form below and we’ll choose three random winners next Monday, March 10.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Feb 27 2014

After Raising a Son With Severe Autism, I Have Redefined “Normal”

By at 12:52 pm
elaine-and-neil

Courtesy of Elaine Hall

 

As part of our month-long series dedicated to Jewish Disability Awareness Month, Elaine shares her journey of raising a son with severe autism, from toddlerhood through bar mitzvah age to where he’s at now, at almost 20 years old.

Our tradition dictates: “Be fruitful and multiply.” I couldn’t do either. Each year at Rosh Hashanah, where we read Hannah’s story of her inability to give birth, I cried Hannah’s tears. I prayed, “If you give me a child, I will give him back to you, to serve you all his days.” My prayer was finally answered when I adopted my son from an orphanage in Russia.

I had been raised in a religious ”Conservadox” family in a non-Jewish area of Southern Maryland and had felt different all my life. Now, I just wanted normal. I looked forward to returning to LA and beginning a normal life: car pool, little league, Tot Shabbat. On a blissful flight home across many continents, I had no idea what lay ahead of us.

Reality set in quickly. We discovered that our toddler son had liver toxicity, parasites, malnutrition, and he was spiking fevers of 105. He stared at his hands for hours at a time, spun around in circles, opened/closed and banged cabinet doors, made no eye contact, couldn’t speak, tantrumed for hours, and didn’t sleep. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 26 2014

Dear Media People: Quit Using the Word “Adoption”

By at 10:39 am

brangelina

Dear journalists, scriptwriters, and other members of the media: I officially revoke your ability to use the word “adoption,” in any of its related forms.

The lead story on CNN recently (which was not about adoption in any way, shape or form) pointed out not once, but twice, that a couple adopted their son. In one instance, they use the line, “…[She] carried him out of the hospital in her arms, as ecstatic as if she’d carried and birthed him herself.” A sensation, indeed: imagine, a woman whose name is on her own child’s birth certificate is over-the-moon at the anticipation of parenting her actual son. A banner day for mothers everywhere, to be sure.

Also on repeat, a show named “Bubble Guppies” on Nick Jr. (listen, I know it’s not exactly Masterpiece Theater, but sometimes I need to do things like take a shower) described adoption (in this case, the adoption of a puppy…or a mer-puppy, to be specific) as “giving someone a nice place to live.” If that’s all it takes, then I’m going to skip the college fund and start vacuuming more often.

(As a side note: While I applaud a marketing-job-well-done by the animal rights industry, until a cat is able to go to court and sign away her or his parental rights, there is absolutely no connection between pet ownership and parenthood.) Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 24 2014

Are We Expecting? Kind Of.

By at 10:25 am

diapers

Last week my partner and I wandered into a new cloth diaper store in our neighborhood. It has lots of cloth diapers, plastic covers, slings, and basically all the things you need if you’re planning to be a hippie parent. We were there to purchase dryer balls, but my partner started asking the woman who owns the store about various cloth diaper services in the city, and she looked at me. “Are you expecting?”

I had a brief moment of not knowing how to answer. At all. My mind went completely blank. Finally I regained the ability to speak. “Kind of. I’m not pregnant, but we’re being certified to be foster parents. So we’re hoping to have a baby sometime in the next few months, but we don’t really know when.”

“That’s great! Congratulations!” the woman said, looking as surprised as I felt. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 20 2014

Stuck in the Shabbat Limbo

By at 4:02 pm

Doing Shabbat, my way

It was my second time meeting with Chana with the hopes of renting her Jerusalem apartment. I was in Israel on a research grant and following an ulpan (intensive Hebrew immersion course) in Jerusalem, had moved to Tel Aviv to be closer to my university. After just a few weeks of living by the water, I felt pulled back to Jerusalem.

Chana went through a checklist of the idiosyncrasies of the apartment. It would be furnished and I would not need to, nor would I be permitted to, bring my own bed. The school across the street could be loud at lunchtime. There was no dishwasher, of course, but I was welcome to use the laundry machine provided. And then almost as an afterthought she added, “Shabbat. Of course you keep Shabbat.”

“Well,” I started. And that was the beginning of the end. “I may turn on the lights here and there.”

“No. No turning on and off the lights. You must keep Shabbat.”

“But—,”

“No. No. I cannot. My friend rented to someone like you and first she had a car accident. Then…” her voice trailed off. “No. I cannot take the risk.” Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 19 2014

Does Barbie Really Belong in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition?

By at 4:57 pm

Does Barbie really belong in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition?

It’s a match made in Barbie doll heaven.

Each year, in time for summer, Sports Illustrated features in its annual swimsuit edition bikini-clad bombshells with doll-like faces and Barbie-esque proportions. Well, this year the magazine is making waves (pun intended) by modeling in its pages–instead of a real woman–the buxom, blond toy herself.

Naturally, there’s been a bit of a backlash, with many accusing the men’s magazine–which has long been the center of controversy for its objectification of women–of further dehumanizing the female form by substituting it with that of a lifeless doll. Read the rest of this entry →

My Local Kosher Market is Closing & I’m Part of the Reason Why

By at 2:52 pm

The kosher Crown Supermarket in West Hartford is shutting its doors. What does this mean for the future of our Jewish community?

My community’s beloved Crown Market–serving the Greater Hartford community for 74 years with kosher products, butcher, deli-style prepared foods, and catering–announced this morning it was closing its doors. The Jewish community here is reeling. Increased competition in the area is cited as the cause but the horrifying truth is I am the cause.

We are all the cause.

I chose to shop at the new neighborhood Wal-Mart because we wanted to save money. What I realize now, much too late, is that if I had shopped at Crown and paid a little bit more, I would have been supporting this important part of the Jewish community that we cherish and love. And now, with a heavy heart, I admit I was wrong. I apologize. I know that isn’t enough. I wish it were. I wish I could promise to shop there for now on. I wish I could get 500 families to pledge to do the same. I wish I had known they were in trouble so I could have done something, anything. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 17 2014

I Got Laid Off During My Maternity Leave

By at 5:03 pm

When you get laid off during your maternity leave

I used to fumble my words when someone asked me what I do for a living. Having a baby and being laid off while on maternity leave will do that to you.

My self worth bailed right along with my sanity. I was set to return to work 12 weeks postpartum as a counselor working with patients and families dealing with a terminal illness. I loved my job. As depressing as the population I worked with sounds, it was one of the most humbling and gratifying jobs I have ever held. Then, about four weeks into my maternity leave, I received notice that the company I worked for was restructuring and I was out.

The true story is that they tried to get me to quit so that I would not be eligible for unemployment. I held my own and finally got a statement from the new COO (who I never met as she started while I was out), conceding to the fact that they were indeed laying me off. I could have been over the moon to be laid off while on maternity leave, approved for unemployment, but instead I found myself deflated and defeated. Read the rest of this entry →

Free Stuff Alert: Labeling Packs for School & Camp from Label Land

By at 2:03 pm

label land camp/school pack giveaway

Attention all organized parents (and those who desperately wish to be organized): if you’re sending your kids away to camp this summer or to school in the fall, labels are your best friend. Repeat: labels are your best friend.

Label Land is a leading provider of customizable labels, offering labels that are clear, can iron or stick on in a snap, stay permanently affixed, and are easy to read in any situation. From clothing to bags to shoes, they’re here to make sure your kids’ stuff winds up back at home and not in the lost and found.

The good news? We’ve got three of Label Land’s School/Camp Packs to give away to three lucky winners. The School/Camp Pack includes:

- 100 iron on labels (white label with black text)

- 30 medium waterproof labels

- 2 bag tags

- 14 shoe labels

To enter the giveaway, fill out the form below and we’ll choose a winner this Friday, February 21st. Good luck, and happy labeling!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 13 2014

Two School Administrators Announce Snow Day With Best Rap Ever

By at 4:26 pm

Despite the apocalyptic weather conditions, New York City schools were OPEN today (because we’re crazy), but just about everywhere else in the country, flights were canceled, highways were gridlocked, and kids enjoyed a national snow day–even in North Carolina, which has been pummeled by an ice storm named Pax.

Well, two school administrators, headmaster Michael Ulku-Steiner and director Lee Hark at Durham Academy in North Carolina, broke the the news to students with a hilarious cover of Vanilla Ice’s ’90s hit–yup, you guessed it–”Ice, Ice, Baby.”

Enjoy the video and for god’s sake, don’t go outside!

(H/t Viral Viral Video)

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