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Oct 7 2014

Curly Jewish Hair May Be Trending, But I’m Sticking to the Straightener

By at 11:41 am

Curly-hair

I’ll be 48 this year.

And I’m still at war with my hair.

I read in The New York Times last month that curly hair is making a comeback. The article by Marisa Meltzer entitled, “Curls Get Their Groove Back” featured all these really cool beautiful women who are letting their hair dry au natural. Meltzer writes, “… a curly look is both natural and modern.” Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 6 2014

Never Go Apple Picking With a Toddler and a Baby

By at 10:42 am

apple-picking

The Jewish New Year is all about the sweetness of apples and honey, so that the genesis of our upcoming year is saccharine, free of the travails of the year before. As the mother of a busy 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, what better way to ring in the year than with apple picking? Great idea, right? We get to drive out to the country, fill our urban lungs with fresh rural air, take in the autumnal sights of the changing colors of the leaves, and hopefully get our kids to take a nap en route.

This adventure began with nothing but hope and good intentions. We also hoped to avoid going to a very popular apple orchard, frequented by many people we know, because they charged each person over the age of 3 (of which I’m many, many years over) a cover charge. With my clubbing days long behind me, I had no intention of paying to get into the orchard only to then have to pay an overpriced amount per pound of apples, which made the price of buying organic ones at the most expensive grocery store in my city more appealing. So, we did our research (well at least my husband said he did) and off we went.

The kids cried the entire way there. No nap. Not even a hint of one during the almost hour-long drive. Two screaming children makes for a less than serene atmosphere in which anyone could appreciate the mélange of candied-apple, golden, and bronzed hues of the aging leaves mixed with the leftover bits of green vibrancy desperately trying to hang on to the dog days of summer.  Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 30 2014

The High Holidays, According to Daniel Tiger

By at 11:39 am
Tiger

via Youtube

 

“What’s teshuvah?” my 3-year-old daughter asked as we were getting dressed for services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and talking about the holiday.

I explained that during this time of year from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, we can change things about ourselves and how we act in the world. I said, “If you don’t like how something is going, you can turn it around.”

She thought for a moment, then her face lit up and she said, “Like Daniel Tiger says!” Before I could figure out what the heck she was talking about, she sang, “When something seems bad, turn it around and find something good.” Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 24 2014

Kveller’s Last Minute Tips to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah

By at 1:58 pm

apple-crates

The day of reckoning has arrived. Here are a couple of our favorite Rosh Hashanah posts, tips, and recipes to get you through it. Wishing all of our dear Kvellers a happy, healthy, sweet New Year.

Inspiration

The High Holidays Are Not the Same Without My Kids

Rosh Hashanah While Dad is at Work Read the rest of this entry →

What Makes This Rosh Hashanah Different From All Others?

By at 11:59 am

paiuk

While settling into our new house this summer, I unpacked several boxes that had been sealed for so long that the contents were long forgotten. Some contained treasures I was thrilled to find again and others were filled with junk that made me wonder why I had schlepped them around for so many years. But two boxes in particular, smothered in “FRAGILE” stickers and falling apart from thousands of miles of travel, stood out from all the rest. They were waiting for this house, this moment, for the big reveal.

One box contained the china I received as wedding gifts almost five years ago. Still in the original packaging, with not one dish broken or chipped, they gleamed eagerly. My husband quipped that if they’d been comic books we could have sold them in mint condition. The pile of discarded carton and foam packaging grew as I reverently unpacked each piece and beamed with joy that every piece had a home. I carefully arranged them along with a variety of other tchotchkes, marveling at the collection of treasures from so many places and generations.

Which brings me to the second box. Inside I found the few glass and silver serving pieces from my bubbe that I remembered from each yontif (holiday) spent together at her table. After years of wandering through the desert of disuse, they too had finally found their way home. They aren’t fancy pieces by any means and are clouded with age that no amount of cleaning will clear. But having them on my table this Rosh Hashanah will remind me of how my bubbe would make my favorite foods and repeat with every helping: “Ech azoy mein kind, ech azoy” (“Eat and enjoy, my child, eat and enjoy”). She is dearly missed and I hope her blessed memory infuses the yontif meal and the New Year ahead. Read the rest of this entry →

Rosh Hashanah Confession: I Have a Thing For the Produce Man

By at 10:03 am

produce-isle

Because repentance is serious business in the home stretch leading up to Rosh Hashanah, I’m finally coming clean: For nearly a decade, I’ve had a thing for the produce man at the local supermarket.

Years ago, our then 3-year-old son–a clever, square peg of a boy who has long struggled to fit in–had another challenging morning at nursery school. He decided it was a silly thing to transform an empty orange juice carton into a spice box for Havdalah (ceremony for taking leave of Shabbat). His refusal led to an ugly power struggle with his already-exasperated teacher, ultimately landing him in the penalty box, where he frequently kept the seat warm.

The dreaded call came. I stopped writing and ran to get him, tail between my legs. I listened as the principal meted out judgment, the same harsh words I’d heard in various mutations over the past year. He’s difficult, unlovable, a challenge to manage… In fact, I’d spent so much time in the principal’s office that I’d already derailed my full-time career. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 23 2014

Five Tablescapes To Inspire You For Rosh Hashanah 

By at 11:54 am

rosh-hashanah-1

The High Holy Days are quickly coming, and if you are like me, you are probably already planning your Rosh Hashanah celebration. I happen to adore Rosh Hashanah and consider it to be one of my favorite holidays. What isn’t to love about celebrating a sweet New Year? Because the symbols of apples and honey feature so predominantly in celebrating this auspicious event, I usually feature them throughout my menu and my table decor. Here are five ways you can bring the elements of apples and honey into your own home. (Above image via Style Me Pretty)

1. Apples & Flowers. Read the rest of this entry →

Confessing Our Sins–Virtually!

By at 11:07 am

e-scapegoat

I’ve always loved the Jewish High Holidays. The blowing of the shofar, the time spent with family, the food (oh! the food!), and the overall sense of starting over with a clean slate. And now, as a parent, I’ve truly come to appreciate the opportunity for reflection and forgiveness that the High Holidays provide. Even with Yom Kippur–a mostly somber affair–we have a chance to own up to our wrongdoings, apologize for them, vow to do our best not to repeat them, and then start anew.

What better parenting tool than that?

Over the past few years we’ve really started to fine-tune our own personal family traditions around the High Holidays. If we’re not visiting family, we will spend the second day of Rosh Hashanah taking a walk through our local woods, ending up at a small brook in order to do tashlich. Tashlich–the symbolic practice of washing away our sins–is a powerful one for both kids and adults alike. My son was around 4 years old the first time he grasped what it was all about. I explained to him that each piece of bread represented a behavior, action, or thought that we wanted to change in the New Year. We toss the bread in the water and it washes the poor thoughts and actions away, giving us space to do better. He would throw in crumbs and say, “No hitting!” or, “No yelling!” As he grew older, his answers became more nuanced and thoughtful.  Read the rest of this entry →

The High Holidays Are Not The Same Without My Kids

By at 9:50 am

holidays-without-kids

My children and I will be spending the High Holidays apart this year. This is nothing new. When my now ex-husband left our home in Albany five years ago and moved back in with his parents on Long Island, part of our agreement was that our son and daughter would spend most of the Jewish holidays with him and his family. They were 2.5 and 5 years old at the time.

During the first year of our marriage separation, I travelled to Long Island with my children for Passover. I was not ready to let go. It was all so new, this idea of not being with my chubby-cheeked babes every moment of the day. I stayed with a friend-of-a-friend who opened up her house to me, aware of my tenuous grip on sanity as I prepared to leave my kids for a full day with their dad and grandparents for the very first time. I was scared.

Of course the visit went just fine, and subsequent holidays and alternating weekends carried on without me. My children are now 7.5 and 10 years old. They love the car rides down to Long Island, visits to museums, and–most importantly–time with their dad and grandparents. They are truly lucky to be loved by so many caring people. For this, I am blessed. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 22 2014

Celebrating the Holidays While Dad is at Work 

By at 3:37 pm

Celebrating holidays with dad at work

My husband and I grew up very differently–I in an Orthodox household that celebrated every single Jewish holiday, and he in a Reform one that acknowledged Passover, saw Rosh Hashanah as a good excuse to make brisket, and suffered through Yom Kippur.

When I began dragging my husband to family gatherings for holidays he’d previously never even heard of, he was a good sport about it–and he still is, when those holidays fall on the weekends. But for the past number of years, the holiday calendar has been particularly cruel to those of us bound by limited time off and jobs that don’t close for Jewish observances. And this year is no exception.

Now I’m not particularly upset about spending my vacation days on the holidays this year, especially since we don’t have any major travel plans. But try convincing someone who grew up the way my husband did that it’s worthwhile using up all your vacation time to celebrate every single holiday our religion boasts.  Read the rest of this entry →

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