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Oct 22 2012

Can We Afford Jewish High School?

By at 2:57 pm

high schoolI am a yeshiva educated NYC girl. I was raised in Brooklyn and grew up Orthodox. Jewish liturgy has been ingrained in me since the ripe old age of 3 when my parents first enrolled me in a formal educational setting.

Yet somehow–even during those rebellious teen years when I left the confines of my comfortable yeshiva high school for the mean and unexplored streets of public high school–I knew that someday I’d feel compelled to give my kids the same basic Jewish foundation I got as a child. And not one that would entail Hebrew school two hours a week, but one that would fully immerse them in the traditions of their ancestors, that would provide them with a real ability to read, write and speak the language of their forefathers and to understand why we Jewish people have continued to carry on these traditions since the beginning of time. I felt that inherent understanding of their natural born identity could never truly be passed onto them in any other conceivable way. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 19 2012

Preparing for a Bar Mitzvah with ADHD

By at 4:01 pm

It’s my son’s big bar mitzvah year… but Miles is a different kind of bar mitzvah boy.

Miles is a child with ADHD. You might be thinking, ahhh, another parent that says their child is ADHD. Why don’t we just add it to the list, right? That’s what we thought. We thought to ourselves it’s just a label. It’s a teacher telling us something is wrong with him just to label him because he’s wiggly, obstinate, and uncooperative at times. Well, you’re wrong. It’s real and it’s here and it’s a huge part of our life.

My husband and I were both brought up Jewish. We both went to Hebrew school. He, conservative. Me, reform. We always had the view that Miles would go to Sunday school and Hebrew school just like we did. Why wouldn’t he, right? Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 18 2012

My Kindergartner’s Going to Teach Me All About the Torah

By at 10:16 am

alina adam's daughter's consecrationThe email read: You are cordially invited to your child’s kindergarten consecration ceremony.

“What’s that?” my non-Jewish husband asked, peering over my shoulder at the computer screen.

“Uhm…” I, his allegedly Jewish wife, replied, “I think that’s what Abraham did to Isaac on Mount Moriah.”

“How come they didn’t mention that in the Jewish day school brochure?”

“I need to do some research,” I said, followed by, “Good news!  According to this link: Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 17 2012

I Send My Jewish Son to Catholic School

By at 10:05 am
baseball kid

My son Nicky at bat.

My son Nicky loves baseball. He’s really, really good at it.

Despite the looooong list of Jews who made it big in baseball, we were shocked to learn our town was not overflowing with Jewish schools that have viable baseball programs. My husband’s old Catholic school, however, (“The Hall”) has a very well-respected baseball program. So does another Catholic school nearer to us (“The Mount”). Mark Teixeira is a hometown boy who went to The Mount. We forgive his playing for the Yankees. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 15 2012

My Third Child Started Kindergaten (and I’m Over It)

By at 10:13 am

Adam's three childrenI recently sent my third child off to kindergarten. My only girl, my last baby, looking all grown up with her hair in a ponytail, wearing a backpack, clutching a lunch box. And I’ve got to admit, I’m feeling kind of… bored by the whole thing.

When my oldest went off to preschool for the first time, I read the handbook they gave us like it was The Holy Grail, terrified of making a mistake (oh, no, did I build the wrong kind of art smock?) and veering his entire educational future off-course for want of sewing ability. I attended every parent meeting and curriculum night. I volunteered for field-trips and saved his “report cards.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 11 2012

As a Horace Mann Alumna, I am Troubled

By at 12:19 pm

johannes somary horace mannThis afternoon I attended a concert of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The first two pieces on the program were Richard Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration and Don Juan, which both seemed fitting because I was thinking about the man I studied AP Music History with my senior year of high school, Johannes Somary. I was, and am, not a particularly musical person, but I needed a year of an arts requirement to graduate and decided instead of taking a semester of ceramics or drawing, I would do something year long and serious with a trusted faculty member whose course was supposed to be the best of what the school had to offer. I’d hoped it would open new worlds to me, to appreciate and understand music. Obviously, that I am still attending concerts and appreciating music shows Mr. Somary’s lasting impact. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 17 2012

Riding the Diversity Ticket All the Way to Jewish Day School

By at 12:12 pm

My daughter passed the grueling tests, and got into kindergarten!Last fall, I wrote about the hoops NYC parents jump through to get their children into kindergarten. We’re talking IQ tests, essays, interviews, applications, lotteries for applications, and then more IQ tests, because God forbid they should all accept the same IQ test.

The entire process lasts from approximately September of the year before your son or daughter would enter kindergarten through to the following spring, when private and public schools announce who’s been accepted–and who has been “shut out.”

My two sons attend an Upper East Side private school that is traditional and rigorous–and boys only. Which means, no matter how generous their sibling policy is, my daughter was out of luck. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 24 2012

What’s Easiest for Mama is Best for Kids

By at 9:35 am
new york city bus stop

My kids can handle the bus.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific heuristic that, simply put, states the easiest solution to a problem is, more often than not, the right one.

I am Occam’s Mother. I believe that the easiest thing for me to do, vis-à-vis my kids, is, more often than not, the right thing. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 13 2012

Teacher’s Skirt is on Fire

By at 11:52 am

fire extinguisherEven by the standards of Waldorf School emails, it was serious. Something called “The Garden of Light” was coming. And to prepare for it, “children were not to wear loose flowing dresses and long hair should be tied back.” My daughter is pretty much basing her identity on long flowing dresses and her hair at this point, so this was not going to be an easy sell.

In addition to the ominous email, I was asked several times by Ronia’s teacher if I was going to be able to go. In general I feel like a slacker Waldorf parent, so any opportunity to curry favor is good. Plus it’s nice to see my kid during the day.

Before I left, I reread the email one more time. It was more ominous than I even remembered, directing us to sit apart from our children to maintain a festive atmosphere. My enthusiasm dimmed a bit; this would mean I would be sitting with other parents. Also, it seemed to imply that I should have dropped Ronia off as normal, instead of keeping her home and cooking pancakes to the 9:40 drop off time. Fortunately the previous Garden of Light was running late, I was able to get Ronia to class and hurry up to the queue of parents. I sat down on the only available chair and checked my smartphone email.

When the appointed time came we were led into an auditorium lit only by candles. The floor was covered in a spiral of pine branches, or as the email got me thinking, kindling. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 2 2011

What My Daughter Learned at Jewish Preschool

By at 10:08 am

hebrew letter blocksA few months ago, I was freaking out over my daughter starting preschool, not because I didn’t want her to go but because I can’t believe she’s old enough for it. After a few weeks of adjustment (mostly on her part; I found the additional free time quite easy to adapt to), Ellie is a happy student at the school in a Conservative temple.

The thing is she already knows more about Judaism than I do. I attended religious school at a Reform temple from first through 12th grades, but much of what I remember is the socializing. (No comment, please, Mom.) When Ellie came home from her second day of school and said “boker tov” (good morning) to me, I thought perhaps she had sneezed.

Sometimes when she says a word I can’t make out, I wonder if it’s Hebrew for something. I know her teachers give the Hebrew as well as English names for things.

All of this has made for interesting, if not at times awkward, conversations. At home, Ellie has asked to kiss the mezuzah (we have several) and at Yizkor on Yom Kippur, she was ready to rush the ark, shouting “See ’em Torahs?” during a moment of silence. At school, her teacher asked how our Sukkot was, and I said, with downward-cast eyes, “Very nice, thank you.” We hadn’t done much to celebrate it at home. OK, we hadn’t done anything to celebrate it at home.

When I was a kid, we celebrated the Jewish holidays with the traditionally appropriate festivities: seders, break-the-fasts, latkes, challah, matzah, etc. But we didn’t keep kosher or learn to converse in Hebrew.

I love being Jewish and part of the Jewish community, and I am glad I chose a preschool where Ellie can learn more than I can teach her. That’s the point, after all. It just so happens I will get more for my money than I bargained for when I enrolled her. I’ll get an education, too.

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