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Sep 27 2011

Rosh Hashanah…Ugh

By at 10:13 am

Do we really have to go?

The Jewish holidays are right around the corner and my husband and I are dreading them.

It’s not just because we have young babies and the logistics of the holidays are enough to send me to the couch with a cool compress. (How do you keep to a nap schedule during the high holy days? Please explain.) Rather, at the risk of sounding like a teenager forced to go to Hebrew school year after year, we really don’t like temple.

My dad is a Rabbi, my mom is a prominent Jewish educator, and Jon grew up in an orthodox home—so this isn’t socially acceptable, to say the least.

And yet, here’s a typical conversation between us lately:

Jon: “I took off three days for Rosh Hashanah… Ugh.”

Me: “Wish you didn’t have to waste your vacation days on the holidays.”

Jon: “I really don’t like this time of year.”

Me: “My parents bought us tickets for services at their temple.”

Jon: “Ugh. My mom bought us tickets, too.”

Me: “I guess we don’t have to go to synagogue. We have Maya and Avi as an excuse. Who takes five month old twins to temple? Ugh.”

Jon: “How are we going to raise our kids with religion if we don’t like synagogue?

The truth is, there are things I like about Rosh Hashanah… I like kugel and apple cake, for starters. I also like being with family, the mix of crisp fall air and talk of renewal. I even kind of like tashlich, a tradition of “casting away one’s wrongdoings” by tossing pieces of bread into a body of water (my family has always been partial to a pond at a park near our home on Long Island). Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 26 2011

Looking for Some (Free) Rosh Hashanah Services? Look No Further

By at 9:01 am

So many synagogues, so little time.

Every year, at some point in September, I get to my annual “Oh shit, where are we going to go for services?” moment. First there’s the family negotiation–are we going to visit my family? My husband’s family? Who’s hosting? Where will we be for which holiday? But now that we’ve got a kid in the mix, it’s even harder. She can’t always make it through late nights of meals, and she certainly can’t make it through evening services (or morning services, for that matter). We try, but she’s only 2, so usually we have to escape early.

So now we’re trying to figure out where the best toddler services are, and when, and whether we need tickets… and I came across an incredible High Holiday services roundup. It’s a really comprehensive list to get you started. They even have a phone number and email to get a personalized High Holiday service consultation. What service!

And if, like some of us, you’re looking for where you can go that’s on a drop-in basis (or free), check out Ohel Ayalah (in Manhattan and Brooklyn), Union Temple (in Brooklyn), and Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (in Manhattan). But if there’s somewhere else that you’d like to check out, be sure to ask about fees, as lots of synagogues and minyans offer reduced rate tickets for grad students and young families. And lots of children’s services are free! Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 1 2011

My Handsome Puerto Rican Husband Wraps Tefillin

By at 9:35 am

For those not in the know (and until yesterday, I counted myself among you), yesterday marked the first day of a new month on the Jewish calendar: Elul.

The morning begins like any other: our toddler twins wake up screaming, I change diapers, prepare breakfast, play with them, get them dressed, and call my parents so that they’ll Skype with them while I shower and give me time to actually wash my hair.  As I get the computer ready and open the door to the bedroom, wherein our linen closet lies, to find a towel, I realize that this morning is not like all others.  It’s the first of Elul.

I enter the bedroom and find my husband Marco wrapped in the tallis (prayer shawl) my parents bought him for our wedding, and my father’s tefillin (phylacteries).  Two Judaic reference books lay open on our bed, illuminated by the glow of his iPad, which is on.  It’s his first time laying tefillin, and he’s trying to follow the rules.

I’ve come in to hustle him into the shower—I need to get ready before the babysitter arrives so I can start my workday on time, and he needs to shower first and get out the door!  But seeing him dressed in the regalia of full Judaic manhood stops me in my tracks.

“Oh—I’m sorry,” I murmur, slightly embarrassed that I’ve walked in on him this way.

He looks up from the texts.  I notice a YouTube video streaming on the iPad: How to Lay Tefillin. “This is going to take some time,” he says.

I restore his privacy by closing the door.

Read the rest of this entry →

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