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Sep 18 2014

How the Shofar–and My 2-Year-Old–Helped Me Make Sense of a Somber Summer

By at 1:59 pm

Shofar

Every year around this time, Jewish families visit the graves of their relatives. Tradition. The high holidays are lurking around the corner. The shofar gets sounded in synagogue on a daily basis during the month of Elul, a time of eager anticipation. Maimonides teaches that the shofar is a type of alarm clock for all of us immersed in a spiritual slumber. Wake up, cries the ancient ram’s horn.

Somberness has been my recurring theme these past several months, given the violent climate of our world: The war in Israel. Violence in Ferguson. ISIS’ ongoing murderous rampage. I have also spent my summer working as a chaplain in a hospice, having been inspired to do so after my bubbe’s passing last winter. And I realize, as much as I would like to, I’m not quite emotionally ready for an alarm clock just yet.

I feel overwhelmed. How do we release ourselves of the imminence of traumatic feelings, especially when the disasters have not fully resolved? Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 13 2013

An Apology to My Toddler on Yom Kippur

By at 9:52 am

airplane with sorry tagLike many other parents of toddlers, I spend a lot of time teaching my 3-year-old daughter to apologize. She is taught to apologize when she doesn’t listen, or when she doesn’t cooperate, or when she is screaming for no reason, or when she wakes her little sister. I’ve put her in time out and made her apologize for spitting, for hitting, for pushing her sister, for refusing to share, for refusing to brush her teeth, for refusing to use the potty, and for refusing to take a bath.

My wife and I spend a lot of time discussing the things our eldest daughter does wrong and we try to make sure she understands how she has erred and explain to her how to behave properly the next time a similar conflict arises. “Use your words,” we often tell her. “Share your toys,” “be cooperative,” and “be gentle” are other common pieces of advice she receives. And we hope that this process has an impact.

So, what I am saying is that, for a toddler, every day is Yom Kippur. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 18 2013

We Lost a Hero in Lance Armstrong

By at 11:57 am

Like many, I planned on tuning into Oprah’s exclusive interview with Lance Armstrong last night. And I was dreading it.

I was dreading it because I am angry with him.

I was dreading it because I really looked up to the guy.

I was dreading it because I was afraid that his responses would be full of sanctimonious excuses and trite apologies.

I was dreading it because no matter what others claimed over the years, I actually believed him when he swore that he wasn’t doping. That others were jealous, vindictive, and publicity-mongering.

Who is a hero? Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 3 2011

Thoughts on My First Anniversary

By at 3:22 pm

Jordana and her family, one year ago today.

Where were you a year ago today?

A year ago today, I was signing my ketubah. And now, I’m holding my two month old baby girl.

Whoever coined the phrase “what a difference a year makes” wasn’t kidding.

A year ago, I walked down the aisle in my favorite synagogue. Each step was fraught with significance for me. Each step toward the chuppah, on the arms of my parents, was one step further away from my previous marriage and painful divorce.  Each step was toward a new man, a new marriage, a new version of myself and a new future. Each step was one step toward fear – will I be good enough for my new husband?  – and yet away from it at the same time, as I told myself, I can do this. I can give myself to someone else without being afraid and without repeating history.

I came closer to him. I couldn’t look him in the eye, for fear that I would cry. I circled him seven times, carving out a space for us and our marriage that was separate from the world and yet part of it. Each step, I realized, was sacred.

Each step – one small step for womankind, one giant step for me — was a decision. Read the rest of this entry →

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