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Nov 21 2014

I Ditched the Dinner, But Not Shabbat

By at 11:49 am

I Ditched the Dinner, But Not Shabbat

It’s Friday.

This week, I’ve cooked five dinners that included a different lean protein each night, an exciting vegetable and some kind of whole grain. I’ve made five breakfasts that are healthy, protein-filled and free of junk. I’ve packed 10 school lunches and 10 school snacks.

I’ve also nagged my kids so much more than I wanted to—“stop playing video games,” “do your homework,” “stop procrastinating,” “stop fighting,” go to bed,” “hurry up we’ll be late,” “for the last time please put away/turn off the electronics.”

I now breathe a sigh of relief. All of the homework was completed, everyone was driven where they needed to be driven after school and then back home again, that little crisis with one of my kids that popped up all of a sudden on Monday seemed to have resolved itself by Friday. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 13 2014

The Night We Became a Foster Family

By at 1:55 pm

The Night We Became A Foster Family

One Friday night in early August two strangers showed up at my door and dropped off a baby. It was almost anticlimactic.

My partner and I had gone through the foster care certification process months before, and had been patiently waiting for a call, but there was no morning sickness, no bloating, no endless doctors’ appointments, and no labor. There was just me, getting a call on my cell phone while I cooked Shabbat dinner. Would I like a 1-month-old baby girl? Yes? See you in a few hours.

Those few hours were a blur. I called my partner and told him we were having a baby, and could he stop on his way home and get diapers and wipes? (God bless Jesse Bacon for being the kind of person who was not only not horrified by this turn of events, but was in fact incredibly enthusiastic and happy.) Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 28 2014

How My Family Will Celebrate This Year’s “Shabbatoween”

By at 9:42 am

How My Family Will Celebrate This Year's "Shabbatoween"

Growing up, Halloween was never something I celebrated. My Orthodox parents didn’t think it was appropriate for their children to go around trick-or-treating, and since most of my friends’ parents felt the same way, it was never something I felt I was missing out on. (Besides, we had Purim, which to me was just like Halloween, minus the spooky stuff.)

My husband, on the other hand, grew up trick-or-treating and loved it as a kid. So last year, when my son was almost 2, we decided to take him trick-or-treating, and he had a blast (even though we confiscated the vast majority of his candy once we got home, as we weren’t about to give him free reign over his stash). I know Halloween is one of those gray areas for a lot of folks who are Jewish—after all, celebrating Halloween is not the same thing as celebrating Christmas or Easter, but it doesn’t seem to be as accepted a holiday as Thanksgiving, which many observant Jews celebrate without hesitation. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 15 2014

Torah MOMentary: Goodbye Past, Hello Future

By at 1:32 pm

goodbye-sippy-cup

Editor’s note: This post is the last entry in our year-long Torah MOMentary series. We are so grateful to Alicia Jo Rabins for taking us through the Torah this year with insight, honesty, and some very cute photos of her kids–as well as all the guest contributors to the series.

This Friday night we read V’zot Haberakhah. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here. 

When my daughter Sylvie turned 2, we decided she was ready to transition from her bedtime bottle of milk to a cup. To prepare her, we told her we were going to say “Goodbye, bottle–hello, cup.” She loved saying it with us: Goodbye, bottle—hello, cup. It seemed to help her understand what was happening. And it helped me understand, too. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 8 2014

That Time I Became Too Religious For My Father

By at 12:36 pm

light-switch

When I first started exploring Jewish learning and observance in my late teens, all of my family and friends thought I had lost my mind. But there was one person who was especially opposed to my newfound interest–my father.

Oh, he wanted me to be Jewish all right (from the youngest age, my sisters and I understood intermarrying would leave my pork-eating parents sitting shiva for us); I just was not allowed to be too Jewish. So when I began observing Shabbos every week during my senior year of high school, replete with unscrewing the light bulb in the fridge and taping lights around the house (so I wouldn’t be left in the dark–literally), good old dad would follow my trail and screw-in and un-tape. No daughter of his would become one of them. 

My father had treated “ultra” Hasidim from some of the most extreme sects when he was training to be a doctor in Manhattan and was convinced that I was on a similar path. “You’re becoming a zealot,” he would tell me over and over again, even though I was making small changes at a responsible rate and I had no intention of ever leading an extreme life. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 19 2014

The Challah Recipe That Changed My Life

By at 9:38 am

Challah-post

It was a no-brainer for me to send my daughters to a Jewish preschool. I loved the program, the teachers, and the sense of Jewish community. The school didn’t celebrate Halloween or Christmas and the students dipped apples in honey for Rosh Hashanah and made latkes (OK, they were frozen from a bag) for Chanukah. They ate lunch in a pre-fab sukkah once or twice every fall and sang Jewish songs and read Jewish-themed books. I knew my kids would go to public school starting in kindergarten, but at least they would go to Jewish preschool.

The school sent home lots of things about being Jewish–Jewish parenting articles and Jewish activities we could do at home. And then one day, when my older daughter was 3, they sent home a challah recipe.

My daughter and I had enjoyed some simple baking projects before, and I wondered what baking a challah would be like. Of course, baking a challah is more complex than, say, chocolate chip cookies, but I was willing to try it. So that Friday, I set about making my first-ever challah. I didn’t own a Kitchen Aid mixer at the time, so I mixed and kneaded the entire thing by hand. With risings, it took about four hours from start to finish. I made a roast chicken, carrots, and potatoes to go along with it. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 12 2014

My Daughter Lost Interest in Shabbat When She Turned 3–So We Tweaked It

By at 1:11 pm

dancing-girl

We used to love Shabbat in our home. When my daughter was 2 years old we sang “Penny in the Pushke” while she put coins in the tzedakah (charity) box, swayed together to “Moving into Shabbos Time,” kvelled to watch her mirror her Ima’s motions for candle lighting, and melted when we rested our hands on her head to bless her. She loved the taste of grape juice and tearing a big hunk of challah when we finished HaMotzi (the blessing for bread). Every Friday evening felt richly relaxed.

Then our daughter turned 3, and our peaceful Shabbats steadily declined. She grew less patient with the blessings. She pulled on the challah so early the HaMotzi became “baruch ata… NOT YET… eloheinu… WAIT, DON’T PULL… HaOlam, HaMotzi–HEY, BRING THAT BACK!” She whined throughout the blessing over the wine, demanding to hold the grape juice herself. She had to be monitored every moment to not drink early or move in a way that would splash and stain. Our long musical Kiddush (blessing over the wine) was sung faster and faster, with less pleasure. During the meal she would dive under the table to visit our legs.

Worst of all–to us–was losing the blessing over our child. She started squirming beneath our hands, then running away until our once-intimate blessing turned into a chase around the apartment, and we were reduced to hurling the names of the matriarchs at our child’s back. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 18 2014

Why Are Temples So Empty Over the Summer?

By at 11:53 am

Pews

The temple I recently joined offers fabulous Tot Shabbat programs throughout the year, but none during the summer. And recently, over lunch with a local mom friend and fellow member, I casually mentioned that since we hadn’t been to services in a while, we were thinking about going before the summer ended. Her response: “Oh, nobody goes to temple during the summer. The place is empty.”

I’ve heard this of other temples too and wonder why it is that come summertime, so many people tend to put temple-going on hold. Granted, some families do go away, but most don’t have the luxury of taking a two-month-long summer vacation, which means they’re probably in town for a good part of the summer but either making other Saturday morning plans or simply choosing to stay away.

Now, as a once-a-month temple-goer at best, trust me, I’m not judging. But I do find it odd. Children are generally encouraged to keep up with reading and certain skills over the summer so that they’re not rusty come the start of the school year. Why doesn’t the same hold true for Judaism? Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 8 2014

Yes, You Can Be Orthodox & Be Friends With Gay People

By at 9:52 am

Rainbow-kippah

When my generation, the Baby Boomers, was fighting for civil rights, for “women’s liberation” and to end the war in Viet Nam, it would have occurred to almost no one that the next frontier would be gay rights.

Who even knew what “homosexual” meant? Who could imagine that the “fag tag” on the back of our shirts contained what would one day be considered a pejorative? Who thought twice about using “gay” as a rhyme for a word ending in “ay” in poems and songs in our Modern Orthodox schools and camps? Who gave a thought to the “sexual orientation” of the two somewhat nebbishy guys in our group of friends?

The whole thing was just not on our radar at all. It was totally irrelevant to me and to anyone I knew. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 11 2014

The Surprising Way I Found Comfort in My Daughter’s Hospital Room

By at 3:01 pm

baby-in-hospital

On Friday afternoon, while I was alone with my infant daughter for a moment, there was a knock at the door of our hospital room. A short, pudgy woman–who just begged to be called Bubbe–pushed her reading glasses up on her nose and looked down at her clipboard, “Are you the Rosen-Prinz family?”

“Yes,” I replied quietly as the baby lay asleep in my arms. I had become accustomed to the constant daily interruptions after many days in the pediatric intensive care unit where doctors worked tirelessly to diagnose my baby with what we would come to learn is a very rare illness.

“Would you like a Shabbat kit?” she offered. Read the rest of this entry →

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