Sep 17 2014
That’s right. You heard me. I’m not doing it. I, a member of a Modern Orthodox shul, mother of four Jewish kids who keep kosher and observe Shabbat weekly, executive director of an Atlanta Jewish day camp, will not be forcing my kids to attend services on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about since this summer at camp, and something I decided firmly last weekend while attending a Jewish family retreat.
Here’s the thing. My kids love being Jewish. It’s the essence of their being. It’s the foundation of their friendships. It’s the laughter and joy that fills their Saturdays. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 8 2014
When my generation, the Baby Boomers, was fighting for civil rights, for “women’s liberation” and to end the war in Viet Nam, it would have occurred to almost no one that the next frontier would be gay rights.
Who even knew what “homosexual” meant? Who could imagine that the “fag tag” on the back of our shirts contained what would one day be considered a pejorative? Who thought twice about using “gay” as a rhyme for a word ending in “ay” in poems and songs in our Modern Orthodox schools and camps? Who gave a thought to the “sexual orientation” of the two somewhat nebbishy guys in our group of friends?
The whole thing was just not on our radar at all. It was totally irrelevant to me and to anyone I knew. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 1 2014
When my son was nearly 5, he and I moved to a new home. It was only 30 miles away, but those 30 miles changed everything. We left the insular Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel, and settled into a Modern Orthodox community in Rockland County, New York.
Although I was virtually alone, I was determined to remain connected to my past and remain observant. My commitment didn’t come from a particular religious belief, but from the strong resolve to stay connected–and help my son stay connected–to our network of Hasidic relatives. For my son, I believed, it would help nurture a relationship with his Satmar family.
But things didn’t go as I’d hoped. Staying religious as a full-time single parent meant spending Shabbat in our tiny basement apartment, waiting, waiting, waiting for the day to pass. My son also had trouble fitting into the religious community and, despite my best efforts to go to shul and participate in meals in the neighborhood, we felt shut out. It wasn’t from lack of effort on the community’s end. We simply didn’t fit: nothing of my socioeconomic situation as a struggling single mom belonged in middle-class Modern Orthodox suburbia. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 18 2014
Josh Orlian via Twitter
Meet Josh Orlian, a 12-year-old Modern Orthodox Jew from White Plains, New York, who made his stand-up comedy debut on last night’s episode of “America’s Got Talent.” Not yet a bar mitzvah, young Josh, with sweet red hair and a kippah on his head, explained to the camera before taking the stage that he was quite nervous–until this moment he had only performed his jokes in front of family and friends.
Like any proud Jewish parents, Josh’s folks were there to cheer him on, his mother kvelling, as expected, “Of course I always laugh. I’m his mother!”
What wasn’t so expected? The dirty, dirty act that followed. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 18 2012
Serving up cholent on Shabbat.
Everyone takes their own journey and I was interested in Yael Armstrong’s account of hers. I was sorry, though, that she did not distinguish among the different types of Orthodoxy in the Jewish community. Because despite the fact that “Orthodox” literally means “true belief,” or “one way,” there are many ways that one can be considered an Orthodox, or “Ortho-prax,” Jew today. Read the rest of this entry →