Oct 23 2014
My family always asks me what Jews believe about the afterlife. My family is Mormon but my husband’s family is Jewish—they belong to a Reform synagogue—and my father-in-law is slowly dying. So whenever my family members ask me how my mother-in-law is doing and I give them the update—that she’s coping but still sad—they always shake their heads and say, “How does she do it without a belief in the afterlife?”
This is incredible to them. Mormons spend a lot of time thinking about the afterlife. For example, even though my uncle died tragically, before I was born, he was still very much a presence in my extended family. So much so, that when I was little and I would say my nightly prayer, sometimes I would ask God to put him on the line. Then I would say, “Hello, Uncle Rich. How are you?” and I would tell him things that I thought he might want to know about my grandma, my cousins, etc… (I kept it upbeat, so he wouldn’t feel bad about cutting out early). At my grandparents’ funerals we sang “God Be With You ‘Till We Meet Again,” and I meant it. To Mormons, the idea of an afterlife is the only antidote to the sting of death. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 15 2014
I’ll never forget the first roll call in fourth grade at the St. Fabian School.
“Levey, Hilary? [Pause] Really?!”
Yes, really. My father, who gifted me his last name, is clearly a Member of the Tribe (Levite, natch). But my parents decided to baptize and raise me as a Roman Catholic, like my mother. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 14 2014
I’m desperate to redo the sad, drab entryway in my house. After seven moves with the U.S. military, I’ve become accustomed to simply putting our things “where they fit” in whatever home we’re currently living in.
Our family–and our belongings–have become the only real indication of where our “home” is after moving so much. But now that we’re more settled at our current duty station, it’s time to really reevaluate.
Does this home look like we want it to? Like us? Who are we, anyway? Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 7 2014
My son’s bar mitzvah is this weekend. I’m recently divorced from my non-Jewish husband. My ex offered to pay for some of the bar mitzvah, but on the condition he bring his girlfriend–the same person with whom he had an affair and broke up our marriage.
We have agreed that he will pay for half of a small evening party, but the cost and preparation of the Kiddush lunch are all on me. And due to some logistical issues regarding the second day of Sukkot, I’m going to have a hell of a time getting lunch ready for 100 guests and 100 congregants (yes, we are cooking lunch for 200 people). A caterer is helping out and I hired servers to set up and clean up because I’ll be in the sanctuary. But no matter how you do the math, there is no cheap way to feed 200 people.
I’d be the first to understand that this sounds like a giant whine. And it is. Because our synagogue hasn’t acknowledged anything but the two-parent family model (gay and lesbian families are very welcome, but they have two parents). I’m a divorced mom. I have multiple sclerosis. I have full custody of two teenagers and the ex has alternate weekends. I work part-time and am fortunate to collect child support. My parents have both passed away and my siblings live far away. I have fewer financial, emotional, and time resources to put together the same event that two parent families have. It is literally all on my shoulders. Read the rest of this entry →
As even Kveller has reported, actress Mila Kunis has given birth to her first child, a daughter. The dad is her former “That 70s Show” co-star, Ashton Kutcher.
On Friday, they revealed the baby’s name: Wyatt Isabelle.
And my first thought was: Mila’s parents will never be able to pronounce it. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 3 2014
Growing up as the only Jewish family in town meant that we missed out on a lot of things. We didn’t go to Hebrew School, we barely acknowledged Shabbat, and we had very little connection to the Jewish community. My Israeli mother did her best to give us a basis in Judaism, but since my dad did not have a Jewish background and there were no other Jews for miles around, being Jewish was more of an abstract concept than a way of life.
But, every year, when the air turned cooler and the leaves turned colors, something would change in our house. My mother would grow quieter, more solemn. Instead of laughing and scolding us in the kitchen, she’d be in her room, poring over prayer books and muttering to herself in Hebrew. Even the air would feel heavier.
On Rosh Hashanah, we’d pick a few apples from the old orchard behind our house. We’d dip them in honey, wish each other a Shana Tova, and go back to our lives. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 1 2014
When my middle child was in kindergarten, he asked me, “Ish means not really. So why do we say we are Jew-ish, when we’re really Jews?”
I thought about my son’s question while watching ABC’s new sitcom, “Black-ish,” which premiered last Wednesday, September 24, 2014. (Yes, that would have been Erev Rosh Hashanah. The same night “The Goldbergs” premiered. Great scheduling, network guys!)
“Black-ish” tells the story of Andre, a financially successful African-American advertising executive, played by Anthony Anderson, married to Rainbow, an equally successful anesthesiologist, played by Tracee Ellis Ross (daughter of Diana, and, for what it’s worth, born Tracee Ellis Silberstein). Living a prosperous lifestyle in Los Angeles, Andre is worried that his four children are no longer Black, but rather Black…ish. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 30 2014
Poor little Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.
Let’s be clear about the term ”poor”–the adorable newborn daughter of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky isn’t actually “poor” in the financial sense. And it is already clear from the tweets of doting grandma Hillary that she is loved and adored–so there is no need to pity her for being lonely or neglected.
And yet, life won’t be easy for this brand new little girl. The eyes of the world will be upon her–perhaps not as unflinchingly as they are on young Prince George. But if she turns out to be the only child in American history with a grandmother running for president of the United States and a grandfather who once held the job, she and George may have a lot to talk about. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 29 2014
While we were all busy blowing shofars and dipping apples in honey, something magical happened–Chelsea Clinton had a baby girl!
Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky–the ultimate political power baby–was born on Friday, September 26, at 7:03 a.m. (Did Chelsea choose the name from our Jewish baby name bank?) We’ve been eagerly awaiting this Clinton spawn for some time now, ever since her mother’s high-profile interfaith wedding to Jewish Wall Street guru Marc Mezvinsky. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 5 2014
Last we checked, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin were consciously uncoupling, recoupling, and uncoupling again. Now Gwyneth has dropped a new bombshell: she’s converting–to Judaism!
Wait a minute–wasn’t she already Jewish? Isn’t that’s why we’ve been covering the Gwyneth beat since Kveller’s inception? Well, Wikipedia confirms that her filmmaker dad, Bruce Paltrow, was a Jew, while her mother, Blythe Danner, is a Christian. Gwyneth was raised both Jewish and Christian, which she’s said, “was such a nice way to grow up.”
Page Six explains that since Gwyneth has taken an interest in Kabbalah several years ago, she’s been rediscovering her Jewish roots: Read the rest of this entry →