Sep 16 2014
My husband and I got married young and couldn’t wait to become parents. We both come from families with two children, a boy and a girl. We assumed that we would have two children, and of course, we’d get one of each.
We were elated when our first son was born. He was the first grandchild on both sides. He hung the moon.
I was pretty surprised when we got pregnant two years later with, what turned out to be, another boy. He was born just before my older son’s 3rd birthday. We were all nuts about him. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 9 2014
My youngest baby, Hope, is fast approaching 7 months old. Though we are not currently members of any synagogue, our lack of shul membership doesn’t necessarily translate into a lack of faith. My husband and I are Jewish and we want to raise our children Jewish. And while one of their first introductions to this faith will be the ceremony where we give our child a Hebrew name, we haven’t done it yet. But it’s time to start planning.
In Judaism, the naming ceremony for boys is part of the brit milah or bris, the ritual circumcision that most Jewish boys receive in the first week after their birth. It’s a straightforward, if not uncomfortable process that looked something like this with my son: I was eight days post-partum and was largely a walking ball of emotions. Our house was filled with some close friends and family but mostly extended family that I did not know or recall or even like. A mohel (one who performs ritual Jewish circumcisions) showed up and claimed he had circumcised nearly every little boy in the tri-state area. He said a couple of blessings that I did not understand over my tiny helpless son who lay sobbing on top of our card table, and he carefully removed my son’s foreskin. Everyone celebrated as my baby screamed. Someone removed the baby and the iodine and replaced it with a platter of rice that my husband’s grandmother had made for the occasion. A group of old women sat down at the exact same table where this whole ridiculous scene had just taken place and started noshing and kibitzing. I grabbed my son and the rugelach tray and hid in my bedroom where I sobbed and binged on pastries.
In every way, this ceremony felt like it was more about religious to-dos and tasks and less about faith. I recognize this was my personal experience with my son’s bris, but nonetheless it cut me sharply (no pun intended) that his first introduction to Judaism was seemingly so full of ritual, yet so lacking in spirituality. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 22 2014
Lately, being Jewish on North Haven–the small island in Maine where we live–has felt like a non-issue, though I still tend to think of myself as the only one. Which made it all the more surprising when, as I was getting ready to leave the seasonal bakery I run and go pick up 3-month-old Penrose, my friend Rosa, one of the nearly 1,000 summer visitors we get out on the island, stopped me.
“The girls and Mark and I were talking and we wanted to organize a naming ceremony for Penrose if you’d like,” she said. “I bet it will be the first one ever on North Haven!”
I paused, momentarily stunned. I had considered a simchat bat ceremony for her, but real life took over, and between recovery, my husband’s return to work, and opening the bakery, we never got it together. I had also never been to one, and other than the bagel and lox spread at the end, I didn’t know what it would entail. To have someone else run it for us would be amazing. 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 13 2014
Here at Kveller, we love to talk about baby names, especially Jewish ones. And if there’s one thing for certain, any name that begins with a Z is automatically awesome. Take Zelda. It means “happiness” in Yiddish, it’s the name of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famously difficult wife, and the name of the princess in the “The Legend of Zelda” video game series.
It’s also the name of Robin Williams’ daughter, who was named for the video game Zelda. The actor, who passed away Monday, was a well-known gamer and active in online gaming forums. Robin explained to Game News that the name occurred to him while his first wife was pregnant and they were playing the classic game together.
Watch Robin and Zelda tell the story of her name in the sweetest video ever: Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 12 2014
My daughter sat on the floor watching me get dressed. She was wearing her brother’s ripped t-shirt and her hair was bunched into a knotty knob on her head.
“That’s a pretty dress, Mama.”
Her eyes shone when she looked at me, tiny mirrors that reflected my face back to me in rainbow colors. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 5 2014
I watched “Dirty Dancing” with my daughter the other night. It was the first time she had seen it and probably my 10th.
I was super excited for our girls’ night–we bought candy, made some popcorn and changed into our pajamas–but I also felt some pressure. What if she hates the movie and thinks it’s corny and old-fashioned? Maybe next time, then, she’d ask a friend over to watch a movie instead of me. Maybe next time she’d choose to watch “Gossip Girl” on Netflix by herself. I know she loves our time together as much as I do, but I feel the fragility of these moments–of an almost 14-year-old–of a blossoming young woman who will soon begin her own journey of self-discovery apart from me.
“Dirty Dancing” was a movie that had a profound impact on me back in 1987. I was 19 then, just a year or two older than Baby (played by Jennifer Grey). It was the first time I had seen a movie that featured a Jewish girl as the romantic lead. I thought Baby was just like me because she had a Jewish nose and frizzy, curly hair. In reality she looked nothing like me. We were alike, however, in the absence of certain physical attributes. Neither of us had long golden blond hair, small button noses, big blue eyes, or full pouty lips. In fact, girls like me and Baby were typically the best friend of the pretty girl who dates the good-looking popular guy. Jewish girls like us didn’t get the cute guys. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 31 2014
Do we, as Jewish mothers, love our children “too much”?
Arguably, the fact that I react to that statement by saying, “There’s no such thing as too much!” says all you need to know. Of course, I also feel that way about fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.
The question is inherently posed by “The Jewish Daughter Diaries: True Stories of Being Loved Too Much By Our Moms,” edited by Rachel Ament. It’s a quick-read book of essays that vary widely in quality, but are all about the experience of being a daughter to a Jewish mother. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 1 2014
So I saw this Verizon commercial going around on Facebook that had really good intentions. The purpose was to help encourage girls to go into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). And while I fully support that idea, the way they did it really ticked me off.
If you haven’t seen it, it starts with a young girl (maybe 1 year old or so) running towards the camera and a parent calling her a “pretty girl.” Then it moves onto the girl growing up and exploring and trying new, mostly science/engineering things, and the parents continually stopping her from trying these things and reprimanding her for getting dirty or whatever else. The commercial ends with the girl, now in high school, looking at a sign for the science fair, but then getting out lip gloss–choosing instead to focus on her looks. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 19 2014
All the Jewish celebrity parent gossip you (n)ever wanted to know.
-Madonna totes won Purim this year by dressing up as the “Game of Thrones” Dragon mom Daenerys Targaryen. Then she posed with Jesus. (Buzzfeed)
-Busy Philipps also did Purim with her daughters Birdie Leigh and Cricket Pearl, showing off her knowledge of the characters in the Purim story. On Twitter, the “Dawson’s Creek” actress wrote: “Today, my daughter’s preschool celebrated Purim and there were a lot of Queen Esthers that looked suspiciously like Frozen characters.” (Twitter)
-Jemima Kirke likes to do Shabbat with her “super-Jew” hubby and their daughter Rafa, as captured in this beautiful photo series of the “Girls” actress in her every day life. “We do Shabbat sometimes. Mike went to Yeshiva law school. He’s super-Jew and super-corporate. That’s why I was so attracted to him when I met him: the contradiction,” the photo is captioned. (NY Magazine)
-ScarJo debuted a teeny-tiny baby bump this week at the premiere of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Read more about Scarlett’s many Mazal Tovs here. (New York Daily News)
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