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Mar 26 2014

We Want to Hear From Kveller Readers: What’s Your Exodus?

By at 12:42 pm

#WhatsYourExodus?

As the story goes, Passover is all about the Israelite’s exodus out of Egypt. And while we are very lucky to no longer be in bondage, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we want and need to break free from.

In the spirit of Passover, we want to hear about the one thing you need an exodus from this year. It could be big or small, trivial or profound. Maybe you need to break free from negative body image. Or maybe you just need to break free from Calliou. Either way, we want to hear it.

We’ll be sharing #WhatsYourExodus posts from Kveller writers and readers right here on the blog leading up to the main event (that’s April 14th, for those still in denial). Want too participate? Here’s how:

1. Send an email to info@kveller.com with “What’s Your Exodus” as the subject line.

2. In a few sentences, tell us what you need to break free from this year.

3. Include your first name and a picture we can use on the blog.

Prefer a 140-character limit? You can also tweet your exodus to us @kveller with the hashtag #WhatsYourExodus. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Mar 20 2014

Though I Dropped Orthodoxy, This Passover I Will Celebrate with My Orthodox Wife & Kids

By at 7:00 pm

matzahs1

It’s Shabbat afternoon, and the girls are putting on a beauty pageant in our living room. To their 8, 6, 4, and 1-year-old minds, it doesn’t take much imagination to see our modest floor as a full-fledged stage, red carpet and all. The TV has been off for the last 20 hours, in accordance with Orthodox custom.

We’re fortunate in that our kids entertain each other very well–even the baby, who, at 1.5 years old, is more like a pet dog to her older sisters than a playmate with a fully-formed identity and equal rights. My wife Rikki and I are sitting on the couch, alternating between reading our books, watching the kids, chit-chatting, and dozing off. It looks like the lazy Shabbat afternoons of so many observant Jewish families, but then I do a quick check on my phone to see when Shabbat is over. My phone tells me we have a half hour more to go. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Up until a year and a half ago, I was observant–if not unhappily, then begrudgingly. But a year and a half ago, my increasing apathy towards the Orthodox lifestyle turned to antipathy, and I stopped practicing. This naturally created an imbalance, for we had specifically built our family around a lifestyle that requires intensive participation from all parties. And here I was, just recusing myself. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 19 2014

Win an Autographed Bronfman Haggadah & iPad Mini!

By at 2:14 pm

Win an autographed copy of The Bronfman Haggadah and an iPad mini

Whether we like it or not, Passover is coming in less than a month (April 14 to be exact). To get you into the spirit (and to ease your seder-plannng anxieties), we’ve got an exciting giveaway for Kveller readers.

The Bronfman Haggadah, written by the late Edgar Bronfman, a renowned philanthropist and Jewish leader, and illustrated by acclaimed artist Jan Aronson, is a visually gorgeous haggadah and a radical reimagining of the traditional Passover text. With a diversity of powerful readings from abolitionist Frederick Douglas to Ralph Waldo Emerson to poet Marge Piercy, this haggadah transmits a positive message about the capacity for peace and understanding and will be a welcome addition to any seder.

the bronfman haggadah, inside

Four lucky winners will receive their very own autographed copy of The Bronfman Haggadah, and one very lucky grand prize winner will get an iPad mini (16GB, wi-fi, non-retina) along with the autographed book. To enter, fill out the form below and we’ll choose a winner next Wednesday, March 26th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Mar 18 2014

Jewish Preschool Isn’t an Option. Now What?

By at 10:14 am

jewishpreschool

There’s a preschool at one of the local temples that the parents just rave about. In fact, my husband and I recently started attending the temple’s monthly Tot Shabbat programs with our 2-year-old, and we’ve already gotten a taste of just how much these little children are picking up. Some of the older ones can recite blessings and know several prayers by heart. And even the younger ones know that you’re supposed to do things like cover your eyes when it’s time to say the  Shema.

This preschool sounds really, really great. It’s exactly the kind of place I’d like to send my son. Unfortunately, that’s not an option. Like most preschools, this one only offers programming for about three hours a day, and when you’re a family like ours, where both parents work full-time, three hours of coverage just won’t cut it. So now it’s up to me and my husband to attempt to compensate by introducing our toddler to the traditions I so desperately want him to love and appreciate, but I worry that my sporadic incorporation of Judaism into our hectic, over-scheduled lives just isn’t going to be enough in the long run. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 10 2014

Get A Free Passover Prep Kit by Signing Up With DipTwice

By at 3:22 pm

DipTwice-cover-art

We know, we know–just bringing up the word Passover can send shivers down your spine. There’s so much to do, especially if you’re hosting your own seder. Between trying to perfect your matzah ball soup to figuring out how you’ll get a toddler to sit through an especially long meal, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

But wait–we can help. DipTwice, an amazing resource where you can create your own personalized family Haggadah, is offering a free Passover Prep Kit to all interested Kveller readers. The kit includes recipes, a detailed holiday checklist, and tips to personalize your seder. It may not cook your soup for you, but it can definitely help ease some of the Passover planning stress.

Want your own Passover prep kit? All you have to do is sign up here. And if you want to learn more about creating your own Haggadah from DipTwice, check out their website for more details.

Happy stress-free Passover, all!

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Mar 3 2014

Enter to Win a Haggadah Collection for the Whole Family

By at 4:57 pm

haggadot

If you’re planning a seder with kids, you’ve got plenty to worry about (can they really sit in their seats all night without spilling anyone’s glass of wine on the nice tablecloth?) Let us take one of those worries off your list: choosing the perfect haggadah. Thanks to CCAR Press, we’ve got three whole bundles of Passover haggadahs to give away that should please both the grape juice-drinkers and your more mature seder guests.

The bundle includes classics, such as “A Passover Haggadah” illustrated by Leonard Baskin and “A Children’s Haggadah,” as well as the new and innovative haggadah, “Sharing the Journey,” illustrated by Mark Podwal, which offers clear step-by-step explanations of the seder as well as inspiring readings and discussion starters. The bundle also includes “The New Union Haggadah,” a revised and updated edition of the classic 1923 “Union Haggadah,” which preserves the elegance of the original version while making it relevant to families today. There’s something for everyone in this bundle, whatever your seder style may be.

To enter the giveaway, fill out the form below and we’ll choose three random winners next Monday, March 10.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Jan 10 2014

Torah MOMentary: Take it From Moses & Ask For Help Once in a While

By at 10:03 am

moses

This post is part of our Torah commentary series through the perspective of a new mom. This Shabbat we read Parashat B’shalah. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

I once went to a “New Agey” Passover retreat deep in the Israeli desert. The woman leading it was a kind of hippie Jewish priestess: long hair, flowy dresses, batik. To end the retreat, she had us all perform this birth ritual she made up based on the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, which we read about in B’shalah, this week’s Torah portion.

The Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, she explained, was actually a birth narrative; they passed through the narrow canal made by the waters standing apart, and were transformed from Egyptian slaves to free Israelites, servants of God. And we were going to re-enact this.

So we all divided into pairs and stood in a line, made a giant tunnel by joining our hands overhead, and participants volunteered to be “birthed” one after the other by crossing the Sea of Reeds, which in this case meant being carried on their backs through the tunnel of arms overhead. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 3 2014

Torah MOMentary: What Do We Make of the Killing of the Firstborn?

By at 9:46 am
"Lamentations over the Death of the Firstborn of Egypt" by Charles Sprague Pearce

“Lamentations over the Death of the Firstborn of Egypt” by Charles Sprague Pearce

This post is part of our Torah commentary series through the perspective of a new mom. This Shabbat we read Parashat Bo. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

This week’s Torah portion is Bo. We read about the final plagues, culminating in the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn.

I often like to interpret Torah metaphorically. I love the Hassidic tradition of reading Torah as a sort of psychological analogue for what’s happening inside us all the time. For me, this is a way of connecting to Torah as a story that’s happening continually, rather than an ancient document that may or may not have taken place.

But sometimes there is a story so literal and vivid that to metaphorize it feels like a cop-out. For example, the slaying of the firstborn.

The 10 plagues always felt kind of removed from me–sort of magical and not relatable, like a fairy tale. Now, reading as a new mom, the words “slaying of the firstborn” feel very, very real. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 5 2013

Kveller Poetry Corner: Mitzrayim

By at 3:38 pm

mother and newborn feetPassover is now behind this year, and with it our celebration of the exodus from Egypt. In the middle of the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, we find tzar, narrowness or constriction; yet, surrounding that narrowness, is mayim, water, fluidity, expansiveness.

As a mother of a 6-month-old, my days oscillate between mayim and tzar, tzar and mayim, expansiveness, then constriction, and then back again.

We come home late – me and my baby, Caleb, who I nursed and rocked through an intensive training for work – both of us exhausted.
Isaac, my husband, isn’t home,
and it takes all of my energy just to hold Caleb.
We are so tired, tzar,
so in love, mayim.

Isaac comes home,
we eat pasta in the dark, alternating turns walking our baby around.
Then, my head starts narrowing, squeezing, the light becomes too bright,
our baby won’t fall asleep, Isaac puts him down in the crib to cry,
TZAR, TZAR, TZAR,
my head pounds, my sweet baby wails,
TZAR, TZAR, TZAR. Read the rest of this entry →

When a Working Mom Spends 10 Days with Her Kids

By at 11:56 am

hotel signI recently returned from spending Passover at a beautiful hotel in California with my two kids. One of the great perks of being married to a musician (and don’t throw a virtual shoe at me; there are negatives to being a wife in music life, too) is that so far, I get to go away for Passover, and thus bypass all the meticulous cleaning, multi-meal cooking, and various other daunting tasks that the holiday entails.

Now, I had realized that once we returned home,  if we wanted to eat, we’d have to actually cook something ourselves; there would be no lavish tea room to quell hunger pangs between meals and I correctly anticipated seven loads of laundry (my baby likes to spit up on a brand-new dress approximately three seconds after I change her into it). Read the rest of this entry →

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