Aug 2 2013
The first time that my son told me he hated Shabbat, I wanted to cry. He was 4 years old. We were spending a lovely Shabbat afternoon at our neighborhood park when our peace was shattered by the ringing bells of the ice-cream truck. My son reflexively joined the children around him on an eager dash to the park gate. I gently pulled him back and reminded him that it was Shabbat and that means that just like we rest, our money rests, so we would not be buying ice cream that day. (I’m not sure how theologically sound this reasoning is, but I figured it would make sense to the 4-year-old brain.)
Instantaneously his eyes welled with tears. He looked me straight in the eye and proclaimed for all around us to hear “I HATE SHABBAT.” Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 26 2013
A few weeks ago my family and I were visiting extended family on Long Island. First thing Friday morning we loaded the kids in the car and by 7 a.m. we were on the road. With only stopping twice to pee and nurse the baby we managed to hit minimal traffic and rock out Pittsburgh to the Big Apple in under nine hours.
Since it is not humanly possible to visit the Land of Pizza and Bagels without indulging, we met up with co-contributing editor Adina and her family for THE WORLD’S BEST PIZZA (Umbertos, New Hyde Park).
I texted Adina that it hadn’t occurred to me but we might need to wait for a table. She texted back, “Let’s pray for 15 minutes, my girls might be monsters.” Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 28 2013
I was waiting in the examination room of the pediatrician’s office with my two daughters. They were digging through the basket of children’s books in the corner, and my 4-year-old found a small board book with a red and green cover. “Here, Mommy,” she said as she brought it to me, “let’s read this one. It’s about Christmas.”
My daughters know a fair amount about Christmas. They go to a home daycare run by a lovely Catholic woman; she does Hanukkah crafts and plays Shira Kline’s music even as a large tree decorated with lights and colorful ornaments stands in the corner of her living room. They understand that Christmas is something that our Christian friends do, and that we’re Jewish, so we celebrate other holidays. Read the rest of this entry →
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 →