Nov 6 2014
Recently, Kveller received the following note from a reader:
I often read Kveller, and was wondering if your website could shed some light on an issue I’ve been struggling with. I am an Orthodox woman in my mid-20s, and I have a lot of sexual curiosity. I am a virgin and plan to stay that way until I marry, but at the same time, I would like to explore my sexuality and not feel guilty about it, and am wondering if this is possible within a Torah framework. I would venture to say that there are many other women in the same position as I am. Does exploring one’s sexuality taint it? Is it against halacha [Jewish law] to discover what excites one sexually? Is female masturbation permitted? I would really appreciate some grounded knowledge through a Modern Orthodox lens, and believe that others would benefit from it as well, instead of having to guess and/or feel guilty. Thank you.
We turned to our own Tamar Fox to handle this tough but important question:
Dear M, Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 14 2014
Tonight I’m planning dinner by candlelight. It will engage all five senses, with attention lavished on the tiniest details, including our wedding china instead of Corelle, and soup that requires a trip to the butcher instead of just a can opener. They say oysters are an aphrodisiac, but I’m banking on the kneidelach my husband likes: the firmer, the better. Ah, February 14th.
Isn’t this how Shabbat should always go?
My kids’ preschool director sent an email out reminding parents that “we celebrate love and caring all year long, but we do not celebrate Valentine’s Day at school.” Last V-Day, when my son found a cupcake in his cubby with the Post-It note reading “Baked with love in our kosher home,” he thought it was a happy coincidence.
No valentines, no candy hearts–would Friday be any fun? Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 10 2014
All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.
-Do more equal marriages mean couples are having less sex? In short, yes. Or at least those were the findings of a study which appeared in The American Sociological Review last year. Check out the New York Times’ fascinating reporting on the subject, which is bound to be the topic of dinner table discussions for a while. (The New York Times)
-Losing a nipple can be a traumatic side effect of breast cancer surgery. After losing her nipple in a double mastectomy, one Israeli survivor spent a year studying with a silicon designer who specializes in prosthetics and invented the first ever a prosthetic nipple–filling an important niche for women all over the world. (JTA)
-Are Jewish day schools gender-typing our kids as young as preschool age? What is long-term impact of an elementary education that encourages Talmud study for boys and Challah baking for girls? These are the questions raised in a new book by Elana Sztokman and Chaya Rosenfeld Gorsetman titled, Educating in the Divine Image: Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools. Check out Tablet’s fantastic podcast interview with the book’s author. (Tablet Magazine)
-Here’s a novel idea: using beans to talk to kids about money and charity. Since kids often can’t compute number in the five or six digit range, this author suggests breaking down the family pie visually in order to foster a healthy discussion about giving and where the family finances get distributed. (The New York Times)
-Check out this poignant essay by Kveller contributing editor Adina Kay Gross about losing her father when her twins were just 18 months old and how she keeps his memory present in their day-to-day lives. (Modern Loss)
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When you think of Hawaii, you think beautiful beaches, hula dancers, volcanoes, and– perhaps most importantly–ROMANCE!
There’s a reason the tropical islands are among the top honeymoon destinations year after year, right? Lying on the sand, snuggling up with the love of your life, watching a beautiful sunset while drinking your fourth Mai Tai–it is paradise.
But that’s not how it panned out when I went to Hawaii with my husband, my 13-month-old daughter, and my parents recently. Actually, “romantic” was the last adjective that came to mind. Somehow the getaway felt more like a business trip. Just as a business trip can include a gorgeous location, phenomenal people, and delicious food where you leave learning a bit more about yourself, a trip like this was–for me–more than a bit of work. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 20 2013
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Sh’mot. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
In the first portion in the book of Exodus, Sh’mot, there’s a new Pharaoh in charge who hates the Israelites and decides to destroy them.
Mothers are all over this story. There’s Moses’ mother, who sends him off in a basket of reeds to save him, and ends up being hired as his wet nurse. There’s Pharaoh’s daughter, who rescues baby Moses from the water and becomes his adoptive mom.
But I want to talk about the non-celebrity moms. The regular, unnamed mothers who make the whole story possible. What we can learn from them, and from Pharaoh himself.
According to a famous midrash, actually, the Israelites only survived because of the women. In this version of the story, Pharaoh’s first plan of attack is to make the men work so hard that they are too exhausted to go home and sleep with their wives. No sex, no babies, no more Israelites! Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 14 2013
It’s possible that we’re wired to notice those aspects of art that apply to our own lives–one person staring at a Degas painting might see light, truth, and love, while another might simply see smashed up crumbly cheerios because they are the bane of her existence.
What? My point: the story lines on Parenthood that I am most interested in talking about are the ones that I can relate to, or the ones that somehow reflect my life. As such…
I have been less interested in the Amber/Ryan kerfuffle, or the Drew-goes-to-college-and-tries-to-figure-out-girls saga (though I do love Drew, such a sweet boy) and way more interested in the Julia-and-Joel-chaos and, to some degree, the Bonnie Bedelia-Coach-autumn-of-our-years plot.
First, though, let me take a moment to pay homage to Crosby, my favorite Braverman who, in episode six, rages against the minivan. Now, this was indeed a hackneyed storyline. Surely we all know someone in life (or on Facebook) who has struggled with a similar reality. (I don’t think anyone does it as cutely as Crosby does, though.) To get the details out of the way: Jasmine wants to get a minivan and get rid of Crosby’s “cool” vintage car. This comes to pass, and they make out in the backseat and all is well. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 6 2013
“Don’t stop having sex! The Jewish tradition says so; it’s a mitzvah,” commands Dr. Ruth in this informative and laugh-out-loud worthy clip from The Salon, hosted by Forward Editor-in-chief, Jane Eisner, and featuring Lea Goldman, Features Director of Marie Claire.
Dr. Ruth, everyone’s favorite grandma/sex therapist and author of 31 books, breaks it down for her audience (sans frills, per usual) on what it’s like to be sexually active in your post-menopause years.
The best advice she’s got? “Don’t have sex with a dry vagina. It’s painful.”
In the video, Dr. Ruth also proposes to Lea Goldman: “I’d be willing to pose in an nice negligee to show that older people should continue being sexually active. It says so in our tradition! But not with the breasts showing, I don’t like that on older people.”
Obviously, Ms. Goldman should seriously consider Dr. Ruth’s offer.
The Salon is on The Jewish Channel.
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Sep 30 2013
Back in May, I interviewed Cory Silverberg, a sexuality educator and author of What Makes a Baby, a picture book “about where babies come from.” Below, Cory has taken the time to answer some more questions, this time from Kveller parents and readers.
“How do you talk to your 3-year-old about where and when it’s ok to touch her vagina? And what’s the best way to explain why she can’t just touch it all day long?”
This is a great question! I know that we all have different relationships with our bodies but I hope most of us can appreciate that it’s perfectly reasonable for a 3-year-old to not only want to touch her vagina, but to do so all day. It’s not tenable, of course, but I think starting from a place of understanding instead of outrage or embarrassment goes a long way.
You may be feeling stuck because you are imagining one conversation to deal with this. But this needs much more than one conversation. You need to share with your 3-year-old your ideas about privacy, about bodies and touch, and about pleasure. I can’t tell you what to say because I’m not sure how you feel about any of these things, but I’ll offer you an example of how some parents I know talk about it. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 17 2013
Welcome to yet another school year!
Congratulations on setting your student up for success. I’ve wandered the halls and sat in on classes the first couple days of school and your students are all well-equipped and appear to be ready for the school year. I’ve seen highlighters being used, homework assignments being filed away in binders, and chandeliers hanging in lockers, which is a very classy touch, I might add. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 21 2013
“Okay, kids–who here is SEXXXY!??” shouted the face painter as she hovered over my 3-year-old son and shook her booty. The DJ had just finished playing this summer’s hit and very grown-up song, “Blurred Lines”–apparently mistaking the community-wide carnival with numerous young children in attendance for a nightclub–and now, we were all being treated to LMFAO’s ubiquitous song about being sexy and knowing it. This woman was very excited.
My son didn’t really register the woman’s question, but the young girls assembled around the booth tittered and blushed like she had something illicit (which, to them, I think she had). “Me, me! I’m, um, sexy,” replied a girl, uncertainly. She couldn’t have been more than 7 years old. Read the rest of this entry →