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Sep 11 2013

Little Known Jewish Prayers, Written By and For Women

By at 11:52 am

pregnant woman in pretty dress

Giving birth was the most spiritual experience I ever had.

It was as if my body, mind and soul–my very being–was on high alert. I felt a new closeness to the man with whom I had fallen in love years before and who was now the father of my child. I felt an intense identification with the Creator God, to whom I prayed each day, and who was our partner in the creation of the new life I had just pushed from my body.

But as a religious Jewish woman, I was disappointed that my tradition provided no special prayer or ritual to mark my rite of passage from “woman” to “mother,” even as I softly said the generic Shehechiyanu blessing (“…who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this time.”) Read the rest of this entry →

May 9 2013

How a Mormon Mother Teaches Her Child to Pray

By at 5:01 pm

little boy praying

This post, part of our month-long series about God, is by Joyce Anderson, one of the winners of our writing contest.

I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some people call us “The Mormon.” Despite what you’ve heard, what you think about Mitt Romney, or what Broadway musicals say about us, we’re pretty normal people who just want to teach our children how to be godly in an increasingly godless world.

After my first son was born, and after the shock of motherhood started to wear off, I realized that I needed to start thinking about how I was going to teach my son about God, Heaven, Jesus Christ, and all of the other things we believe. I felt overwhelmed at the task in front of me, and I really didn’t know what to do, other than pray. Read the rest of this entry →

May 2 2013

My Daughter Wants to Know Why I Pray

By at 9:49 am

woman hands prayer bookAs part of our month-long God series, Abby Sher tells us about her relationship with prayer.

I have prayed every day for the past 25 years. Often obsessively, locked in a closet for hours at a sitting. My mother, my therapists, friends, boyfriends, even reporters have asked me to show them what this compulsive ritual entailed. I’ve refused them all. I’ve always felt like if I explained my thoughts or connection to God, I would sound stupid, or worse, irreverent.

I was raised in a reform Jewish household, where matzah balls, Maneshewitz and Oy, what tsuris defined my heritage. I began praying in earnest when I was 11 and my aunt and father died in quick succession. I was sure I’d made them die, and I had to atone before I struck again. After Mom tucked me into bed at night, I recited the Shema five, 10, then 50 times. I soon added a song of thanks and a list of sick people whom I needed to heal. In high school I snuck into dark closets not to kiss boys but to chant psalms. I once ran away from home just to pray behind the synagogue in a pile of soggy leaves. True worship, in my mind, had to be secret in order to be sacred. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 16 2013

After Boston, All I Have Left to do is Pray

By at 4:09 pm

copley square boston t stopOur governor has asked everyone in Massachusetts to be on a heightened state of alert in the wake of the bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday.

I can do that. I’ve been in a heightened state of alert since I first learned that I was pregnant, nearly five years ago.

It has been said that every step we take is a prayer, and that fundamentally there are only two types of prayer: please and thank you. And so it has been since I became a mother: every doctor’s appointment, every milestone eliciting a prayer of gratitude for a positive pregnancy test, a healthy birth, a growing child, and also a plea–at times quiet, other times desperate–for another day, another year, another opportunity to be with my daughters, to watch them grow.  Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 27 2012

Do Children Understand Prayers Better than We Do?

By at 12:45 pm

the thinker statueI’m not the first aunt to think her nephew is awesome. But regardless of any bias that I might (or do) possess, I’ve come to appreciate the Inadvertent Philosopher who lives somewhere in my oldest nephew’s insatiably curious brain.

My nephews were taught Hebrew since their first mewling moments–their parents want their progeny to speak the language with relative fluency, for better communication with their Promised Land contemporaries as well as a connection to the language, text, and people of Israel. One lovely side effect of this effort is that Gil, now 6 1/2 (and probably his 4-year-old brother Dov as well), is also achieving simultaneous interest in the words in the siddur, reading the prayer book over his father’s shoulder in synagogue and asking questions. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 8 2011

Running: The Closest I Come to Prayer

By at 3:19 pm

This weekend, I will run 13.1 miles. On January 29th, I will run 26.2 miles. This is what I do. I have a baby, sit around for a bit loving on and taking care of my baby, and then I decide I need a break. I run. Without the goal of a race, I would never make the time for myself and always opt to do that extra load of laundry, make a bed, clean, etc. But when a race in the distance, I know I had better make running a priority if I am going to meet my goal. So I run.

Running used to be a burden, something to endure for the sake of my health or the number on the scale. I thought running 3 miles without stopping was an accomplishment and running 5 miles was out of the question. But after training for my first marathon, I came to really enjoy the meditative state I get into while alone on the road. I went on to run a second marathon after the birth of my son in 2009 and am excited to run another in January in honor of my newest baby girl.

My addiction to running started soon after the birth of my first daughter. Her colic and my isolation on a military base in south Texas were taking their toll. With the recommendation of a close friend, I read the book The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer and decided to give training a shot. Running seemed like a great way to get some me time and lose some of my baby weight. I had no idea what an impact it would have on my life. Read the rest of this entry →

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