Jun 21 2013
Joining PJ Library is one of the best things we’ve done as parents. Every month a new Jewish book arrives at our home and Lila learns about a Jewish holiday or concept through a story that’s meaningful to her. Several PJ Library books–like the Hanukkah counting book and the “Dayenu”-centric Passover book–have become diaper bag must-haves, genuine favorites that we have read countless times. Perhaps because our experience has been so superlative, I was surprised by a disappointing recent selection.
Tikkun Olam Ted tells the story of a boy who is small in stature but does big things. He works to repair the world daily, and this storybook covers one presumably typical week. Each day, Ted does a different, vividly illustrated Tikkun Olam project. And whenever we finish the book, Lila enthusiastically chants, “’gain!,” eager for an encore reading. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 14 2013
So the waiting is finally over! My wife gave birth to our beautiful daughter a couple of weeks ago. E is a tiny little peanut and the whole birthing experience from labor to leaving was totally different (maybe more on that another time) from three years ago.
And now we’re home. We decided that we didn’t want to stay at the hospital for too long if possible. Assuming everything was fine, the plan was to spend a day at the hospital and then go back home. The idea was that being at home would mean an easier recovery and we’d be able to spend the time with our son J. Subconsciously though, I think that he was definitely the primary reason for us to come home. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 7 2013
I don’t believe in God.
I am uncomfortable admitting this here and I mean no disrespect to those who do believe. If anything, I’m envious. I have books on meditation stacked by my bed. I have a gift certificate for yoga classes burning a hole in my wallet. I’ve read studies and I’ve witnessed the effects of a strong spiritual center. There’s security, sometimes there’s even peace. I wouldn’t mind some of that.
And yet, I don’t believe in a higher power that calls the shots. I don’t believe that things happen for a reason (though I’ve repeated this cliché in an attempt to comfort friends). I believe that when bad things happen to good people, it breaks your heart and all you can do is get up each morning and try to be good to the people you love who are still here. I often fail at even this. It would be helpful to have a little faith. And yet. Read the rest of this entry →
May 31 2013
Shabbat was what sold me on Judaism in the first place. As a convert, it’s always been my favorite part of being Jewish. It was the first thing about Judaism that felt like it was mine, the first thing that made me feel like I wasn’t just doing it for someone else, this was what I wanted. For me, for my husband, and for my kids. It’s the foundation for me, it’s what keeps me grounded in Judaism. I don’t speak Hebrew or Yiddish, the emphasis on the Torah is sometimes confusing to me–but Shabbat, Shabbat I understand. Shabbat brings me back, week after week, to what I want most for my life.
So why is it so hard? Read the rest of this entry →
May 10 2013
“How are you celebrating Mother’s Day?”
This is what all the moms were asking each other in our “Shabbat Shalom” toddler group this morning. For some, it was only their second Mother’s Day as mothers. For others of us (hand raised), Mother’s Day almost feels like a regular facet of the calendar. The real question, though, was eloquently asked by my friend and Kveller contributor Rebecca Schorr: “Are you in the “Mother’s Day means I want to be nowhere other than with my precious children” camp or the “Mother’s Day means I want to be nowhere near anyone who calls me Mom” camp?” Read the rest of this entry →
May 3 2013
Let’s face it, folks. April sucked this year.
In case you’ve forgotten just how colossally terrible it was, let me refresh your memory. My town got bombed, and then my family and I were put on lockdown during a manhunt for the bombing suspects. Someone sent poison to a judge, a senator, and the President of the United States. The Senate failed to pass gun reform legislation, a small town in Texas exploded, there was a massive earthquake in China, and a factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 300 people. Syria may have chemical weapons.
It’s enough already. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 19 2013
Last night my husband and I sat on the couch together and watched reruns of Saturday Night Live. Melissa McCarthy was hilarious. We laughed. It was good to laugh. I was glad to have my husband home after he was away all week on work. I went to sleep looking forward to spending the morning at a local park with my daughters and some good friends.
I woke up to the news that we were on lockdown. Less than five miles from our home, thousands of police and SWAT are searching houses in hopes of finding a man implicated in the bombing of the Boston Marathon, the murder of an MIT police office, and the shooting of a transit police officer. My uncle offered coffee to the cops in bulletproof vests carrying assault rifles through his backyard. His 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son were fascinated by the “army men” outside.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t wrap my mind around the image. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 22 2013
Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday. A meal and story followed by an entire week of daily (albeit minimal) sacrifices made in mindful celebration of our ancestors’ exodus from Egypt. Admittedly I can’t pass up an opportunity to smear horseradish on things and the beet juice variety literally makes me swoon. I’m excited to pull out the little book collection for our boys and tuck matzah into the afikomen bag I sewed myself. For eight days, the usual chore of dinner gives way to a food challenge where none of the usual players are allowed. And the last day I always get a text from my husband that says, “can we eat real food tonight?” and we head out for burgers after sundown. The kitchen is cleaned out and we start fresh when the week is over.
I am a Jew by choice married to a humbly secular tribe member. We light candles every Friday, pay temple dues and with each passing year grow more in our observance. Do we throw away every bit of chametz? No. We can’t afford to. What we didn’t consume prior to the holiday, we box up in plastic tubs and lock it away in our storage unit. Does that make us less Jewish? I hope not. To gentiles we seem like uber-Jews while Orthodox families may scoff at our attempts at Halacha. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 15 2013
Here’s the thing. I actually did try to lean in. I updated my resume, sent it out, and dug out the blazer I only wear to interviews. I answered the standard questions about why I want the job (because biweekly midnight visits to the ER with croupy kids aren’t keeping me busy enough, apparently), what my weaknesses are (chocolate, pudgy-faced toddlers, and men who fold laundry), and how I would feel about being the only post-doc with kids (um, great?).
To be honest, I’m still not sure what happened at the interview. Perhaps I sabotaged myself. As perfect as the job was, and as much as my husband and friends assured me that we could make it work, I just couldn’t quite figure out how our family would function with both us working full time. I know millions of American families (including many of my neighbors and friends) do it, but all I could think about was laundry piling up, last minute emergency trips to the grocery store for milk, and strawberry-banana yogurt, and hushed but heated conversations about who was going to take a sick day to stay home with a feverish child. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 8 2013
Fun or frightening?
Sometimes the most thought-provoking questions aren’t posed by our writers, but rather, by our readers. And so it was that last week, after Kveller posted on Facebook about a free Passover giveaway of nail decals illustrated with pictures of the 10 plagues that one reader commented, “I was just wondering if I was the only one who thinks death and destruction aren’t cute…Which finger should we put the dead babies on?”
Yikes. And…touché. Read the rest of this entry →