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Nov 11 2014

How Will We Navigate Orthodoxy As My Feisty Daughter Grows Up?

By at 9:42 am

nicki gilbert monkey in the middle

A boisterous game of “Monkey in the Middle” overtook our family room after Shabbat dinner last week. Astonishingly, nothing was broken and nobody got hurt. Laughter, happy yelling, and lots of good-natured teasing kept the blue-and-white beach ball airborne and away from the “monkey,” who in this game, was my daughter.

My only little girl is a feisty 8-year-old. She holds her own with big green-gray eyes, a smattering of freckles, a knowing smile, and a steely grip amid the three brothers who love nothing more than to give her a hard time about, well, everything: that she mispronounces “bird,” that she’s something of a busybody, that she prefers to keep her room testosterone-free, and yells “out” as soon as a male body, canine or human, places a smelly toe over the threshold. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 6 2014

Sex & The Single Modern Orthodox Woman

By at 2:29 pm

Sex and the Modern Orthodox Woman

Recently, Kveller received the following note from a reader:

Hi there,

I often read Kveller, and was wondering if your website could shed some light on an issue I’ve been struggling with. I am an Orthodox woman in my mid-20s, and I have a lot of sexual curiosity. I am a virgin and plan to stay that way until I marry, but at the same time, I would like to explore my sexuality and not feel guilty about it, and am wondering if this is possible within a Torah framework. I would venture to say that there are many other women in the same position as I am. Does exploring one’s sexuality taint it? Is it against halacha [Jewish law] to discover what excites one sexually? Is female masturbation permitted? I would really appreciate some grounded knowledge through a Modern Orthodox lens, and believe that others would benefit from it as well, instead of having to guess and/or feel guilty. Thank you.

Best,

M

We turned to our own Tamar Fox to handle this tough but important question:

Dear M, Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 17 2014

I Won’t Force My Kids to Attend High Holiday Services

By at 10:31 am

high-holidays-kids

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

Yes, You Can Be Orthodox & Be Friends With Gay People

By at 9:52 am

Rainbow-kippah

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

I Left The Hasidic World But Now My Son Wants to Keep Kosher

By at 2:39 pm

Kosher-symbol

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

Nice Modern Orthodox Boy Slings Penis Jokes on “America’s Got Talent”

By at 10:27 am
Josh Orlian slings penis jokes on "America's Got Talent"

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

My Orthodoxy Doesn’t Look Like That Orthodoxy

By at 12:02 pm
Serving up cholent for Shabbat.

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 →

Feb 22 2012

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Daniel Nissanoff

By at 9:59 am

dan nissanoffWhat happens when your classic businessman/entrepreneur takes his talents for business-to-business models and business shopping robots* to the playpen? Daniel Nissanoff founded Make Meaning, a creative play space for children and adults with two locations in Manhattan, and soon to be hundreds more throughout the country. We talked with him about the concept for Make Meaning, and his life as a working (Jewish!) dad.

*Yes, that’s an actual thing.

Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for Make Meaning? Read the rest of this entry →

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