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Jul 22 2014

What They Bring Home From Camp

By at 11:48 am

sleeping-boy

The voice mail came in while we were swimming. It was Saturday, the afternoon before Noah’s sleepaway camp ended.

Infirmary. 100.7 fever.

“Do you want to get him tonight or have us keep him here until pickup tomorrow?” the nurse asked. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 25 2014

Yes, Mayim, You Can Still Go to the Mikveh

By at 9:58 am
mayyimhayyim

Credit: Tom Kates

 

It’s been a year since you wrote “Since My Divorce, I’m Missing the Mikveh,” and you know what, Mayim? You and I have a lot in common.

OK, so I’m not a movie star. But I have watched “Beaches” approximately 517 times. That’s got to count for something, right?

Like you, I grew up in the world of those who knew not of mikveh, and significantly expanded my learning in college. I immersed before I got married and my introduction to mikveh was from a more traditional perspective. In all honesty, as I learned more about alternative uses for mikveh, I had a hard time with it. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 20 2014

How My Toddler’s Tedious Bedtime Ritual is Actually a Lot Like Prayer

By at 3:55 pm

crib mirror

Each night before my daughter, age 2.5, goes to sleep, she has a “special minute” with my husband, and then one with me.

This started as a compromise so that we didn’t both have to be present every night for her lengthy bedtime rituals, but the special minute has evolved into a complex ritual of its own. We talk about, in this order, five things at the drugstore, five things at the zoo, five things at the doctor, five things at the Jewish Museum (the National Museum of American Jewish History, here in Philadelphia), five things at the Please Touch Museum (the local children’s museum), five things about her mirror (yes, really), and five things about today.

And we do this every night, just when I’m the most exhausted, right when I’m on the verge of getting some alone time, exactly when I need her just to be asleep already. We talk and we talk and we talk. Read the rest of this entry →

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 20 2013

My Only Parenting Advice Comes Down to One Word: Rituals

By at 9:35 am

keren brown ritualsEverybody is ready to give you advice. Give them a pacifier. Put them to bed early. Learn to take care of yourself.

Most of this advice has many different sides to it and a lot of it is based on your personality. The only advice I ever needed and want to give is: Rituals. Make them happen. It is the little rituals that have changed my life. Rituals build the moments. Smaller ones and bigger ones that shape who your family is and how they interact. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 10 2012

My Daughter Got Too Old for the Shema

By at 1:19 pm

bedtime shema“No, Mommy. No Shema tonight.”
“Why not?”
“Nobody else does it at bedtime.”

And so it begins.

We were on vacation last week, and my 3 1/2-year-old was overjoyed to be sharing a room with three other preschoolers. Every day, she would ask again if she could sleep with the “big kids” again, and every night she bounded up the stairs to the kids’ room, eager to get into the trundle nestled between three twin beds. At which point, she got to see how other families do their bedtime routines. The other families aren’t Jewish, so needless to say, they weren’t singing the Shema each night. So, my daughter didn’t want it either. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 27 2012

Friday Night: The Key to a Good Challah

By at 3:51 pm

key-shaped challahLast Friday, exhausted and still jet lagged from our Passover travels to Canada, I found myself up at the crack of dawn, elbow-deep in challah dough and determined to make a challah–in the shape of a giant key! Apparently there is a custom before the first Shabbat after Passover to bake challah with a house key stuck inside of it and/or in the shape of a key. Known as “Shlissel Challah,” (shlissel means key in Yiddish), this custom is supposed to be asegulah, or good luck for sustentance or financial success for the coming year. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 20 2012

Friday Night: Rituals That Aren’t So Hard to Keep

By at 3:18 pm
latte

Nothing like a ritual to wake you up.

Last Friday I paced in the kitchen of our tiny apartment, waiting for Avi and Maya to wake up from their nap. Generally, I’ll do anything to ensure that they keep sleeping (including but not limited to: blasting sound machines, forcing my husband to sit on the porch for the duration of their nap time because he makes too much noise walking around, and posting a sign on our front door, imploring delivery people and neighbors not to ring our bell). But on Fridays, we go for coffee when they wake from that a.m. nap, and I realized as I kept checking the clock on my cell phone and listening for sounds at their bedroom door, I really look forward to it. Read the rest of this entry →

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