Sep 3 2014
Parenting and worrying go hand in hand. Some might say this is a stereotype of Jewish parents. Others might say it’s tradition. In either case, I think it is accurate to say that a large part of being a parent (whether one is Jewish or not) is being worried about your children.
If you had asked me what I worry about most prior to this summer, I would have told you that I worry most about the ways in which sexism will impact by daughters. I would still give you the same answer today. This is because I worry about rape and sexual assault and sexual harassment in the street and in the workplace. I worry about whether my daughters will be able to control their bodies. I worry about whether they will be paid less for their work because they are female. I worry about eating disorders and depression. I worry about the sexualization of young girls. I worry that they will follow a script that limits possibilities, discourages imagination and individuality, and diminishes them. And, I worry that my daughters will be judged by their appearance and their ability to procreate, and not the content of their character. And worse–that they too will judge themselves this way. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 2 2014
In the middle of an exhausting, first year of teaching in a public high school in southern Massachusetts, I, like most teachers who come in contact with hundreds of students every day, contracted a virus, and took my first sick day. In the middle of that sick day, I got a call from the gym teacher, who I hardly knew.
“Are you OK?” He sounded reluctant to ask. Something had happened in my classroom while I was out, but he wouldn’t say what. He was shocked that no other staff had called me. He wished me well and got off the phone quickly.
When I returned to school, I demanded to know what had happened. My department chair said it was “an unfortunate incident,” and that I should talk to the principal. I finally wrangled it out: a student had spray-painted a swastika on my classroom floor and etched another swastika on my chalkboard. Something about Jews had been scrawled but only partially erased, probably so that no one would be able to identify the handwriting.
Both the chalkboard and floor were scrubbed clean before I returned. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 21 2014
Sleep training is hard any time of the year. When trying to find a quiet week to start sleep training, parents will inevitably discover there is no good time, as “normal” life is constantly interrupted by birthdays, late-night meetings, work trips, and so on. You just have to pick a week and try to be consistent.
So when my husband got called up to miluim (emergency reserve duty in the Israeli Army) this August, you can imagine my hesitation to start sleep training alone. It was just a week after we arrived back home in Israel, right after our 6-month-old, Chanan, recovered from jet lag, and mid-way into Operation Protective Edge (which we hope is almost over).
Against my better judgment, I’m trying anyway. And as a result, I’ve come up with five reasons why miluim really screws with sleep training. (I’m sure in many ways these concerns will echo with the experiences of parents living far from the front.) Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 11 2014
A crumpled up map of the city of Jerusalem. A ticket from the Israel Museum. A black and red card for my favorite falafel place in Jaffa. A guide to the tunnels under the Western Wall. A pinkly pale and gray shell I found on the beach in Herzliya.
These smudged, damp, and crinkled remnants of our adventures gently spill out of my new turquoise made-in-Israel bag like the fine grains of Dead Sea salt that scattered on the bathroom floor from my bathing suit this evening.
It’s almost over, our vacation. And I wish it wasn’t. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 8 2014
Since we know you really need more “Frozen” parodies to add to the soundtrack of your life, we bring you this lovely spin on “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
In order to deal with the constant barrage of rocket fire, some Israelis adapted the song to “Do You Think That Was a Siren?”
Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 5 2014
Exactly two weeks ago, we were at Ben Gurion Airport, freshly minted Israelis, exhausted and exhilarated after a sleepless night on our aliyah charter flight. We came in the middle of a war and, along with all the excitement of a dream come true, was the specter of the sirens: When would we hear our first one? What would it sound like? Would we know what to do? And most importantly: Would the kids be OK?
As we drove home from the airport, and many times since then, whether it was while enjoying the vibrant landscapes of our glorious homeland or munching on decadent dulce de leche waffles at a cafe or standing on line to open our first Israeli bank account, I would suddenly think: “What if it were now?” But those thoughts have been fleeting and instead we’ve gone about building our new Israeli lives–making friends, learning the way to the local park, buying choco at the makolet, meeting the school principal, and figuring out which Israeli cream cheese is the most like Philadelphia for my kids’ discerning American palates.
We had danced around the danger. Right after we left the airport two weeks ago there was a siren there (the one that lead to the cancelled flights). When we went to dinner in Jerusalem last week with new friends, it turns out we had just missed a siren there. While at dinner that night, we missed a siren back at our home in the Judean Hills. Calls and texts flooded my phone: Are you OK? Were you scared? Our new, extraordinarily warm and welcoming friends near our barely-lived-in-yet home were checking up on us newbies to make sure we weathered the siren well. We’re OK, we reassured them. We missed it. Read the rest of this entry →
My parents are in town. My dad watches the news. Constantly. CNN, BBC, DC (German), NHK (Japanese), Al-Jazeera. As a result, my kids, ages 15, almost 11, and 7 have also been watching the news. And we all know what’s been on the news the past few weeks. Constantly.
My master’s degree is in Media Analysis. In the past, I’ve deconstructed children’s cartoons and the messages they send about intermarriage, Christmas TV programming, and an infamous Cheerios commercial.
In other words, I cannot watch television like a normal person. And that includes the news. That especially includes the news. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 4 2014
Our children are listening. When we pore over news sources and incessantly check our Facebook feeds to find out the latest from Israel and Gaza, our children are watching. When we whisper in muted voices or cry out in protest about the situation in the Middle East and the resurgence of anti-Semitism around the world, our children are hearing.
How do we talk to young children living far away from Israel about the current situation when they are not yet old enough to understand terms like “Zionism” or “anti-Semitism” or “terrorism” or “occupation”?
As parents of young children and also as Jewish educators, we would like to offer some tips for talking (and listening) to young children about the current conflagration. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 30 2014
I have a 9-year-old son. He is sensitive and compassionate. He listens carefully to conversations so as not to miss anything, and he is able to see concepts and complex relationships, making him seem wise beyond his years.
Perhaps these traits are the reason why my husband and I have never shied away from discussing current events with him in an age-appropriate way. We’re also just not the kind of parents who believe that children must order strictly off the kids’ menu or discuss only kid-friendly topics.
So, when our son returned from his Jewish overnight camp, we mentioned what was happening in Israel. He told us he already knew. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 29 2014
My Israeli husband and I, along with our kids, made aliyah two months ago. Our new neighborhood, a sleepy suburb of Tel Aviv, has been disrupted several times a day by the sound of a long piercing siren. Our 3-year-old twins, born and raised in New York, refer to the sirens as “a big fire truck,” but this time was different.
I was caught outside alone with the twins and our 6-month-old baby on our way to the playground after school. We had stopped to feed the baby and they sat next to me on a city bench chatting away and undoing their sandals to busy themselves. Suddenly, my worst nightmare came true and the sirens started piercing.
I started visualizing horrors as I ran to the nearest building holding my baby, leaving everything behind including my purse and stroller. I called for the twins to come with me and walk up the stairs to a nearby apartment building, but they wouldn’t. Read the rest of this entry →