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May 20 2014

Are Jews Too Concerned With Seeking Out Other Jews?

By at 11:47 am


Sometimes I worry that I talk about Judaism too much. As much as I use the words Jew, Jewish, or Judaism, I’m saying them in my head even more. It’s become a tic of sorts, a knee-jerk reaction to the random information that comes at me all day long. What’s more, I have this habit of looking for fellow Jews in situations where a person’s religion or heritage is irrelevant. I worry that it’s gone too far.

A friend tells me her sister met a great guy. Is he Jewish? I think, but don’t ask. My book club (where I’m always aware of being one of two Jews) will discuss a novel that takes place in New Zealand in the 1950s, and I wonder if there were any Jews in New Zealand at that point in history. My son gets placed on a soccer team in our suburb of few Jews and I automatically scan the list looking for a possible Goldberg or Cohen.

I did not grow up this way. To tell you the truth, I knew few non-Jews in the very Jewish North Shore Chicago suburb where I spent my childhood. Sure, my parents and grandparents did the typical ethnic pride maneuver of taking personal credit when a Jewish person won an Oscar or a Nobel Prize. They felt the requisite shame, too, when a Jew made the news for doing anything illegal. But on account of being surrounded by Jews most of the time, I don’t remember my family or anyone else actively looking for others like them. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 31 2014

News Roundup: Does Porn Hurt Children?

By at 8:28 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.


– A recent UK study found that three in every 100 primary school children, some as young as 6, have viewed hardcore pornographic images on the internet. There is still some debate as to how traumatizing and what the long-term effect of this exposure is. (The Times Magazine)

Boston Magazine has a fascinating (and terrifying) look at the juvenile and cliquey social lives of suburban American moms, which can quickly spiral into a social nightmare reminiscent of high school for those who fail to keep up. (Boston Magazine)

– The majority of American women aren’t “leaning in” or “opting out.” Rather, most women–ranging socioeconomically from poor to upper middle class–are barely hanging on.  (Al Jazeera)

– Putin’s elementary school teacher, who now resides in a Tel Aviv apartment purchased by her former student, has found herself in the spotlight now that Putin has decided to annex Crimea. The gentle and studious school boy she describes sounds nothing like the Vladimir Putin of today. (JTA)

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Dec 20 2013

Friday Night: We Survived Our First Year in the Suburbs

By at 12:28 pm

kids swinging in the suburbs

About a week ago, a friend posted on her Facebook page: “Happy Houseiversary!”

She and her family had been living in their new home for a year (a home that happens to be across the road from my home. Hi, Lori!)

I saw Lori’s post, checked the calendar, and immediately felt shame. Just a week before Lori’s houseiversary, we had a houseiversary, too. It’s just that I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t mention it to my husband, and he didn’t mention it to me. I didn’t post it on Facebook, or give it much thought, at all. In fact, when people ask us how long we’ve been living in our new home, in our new town, we usually mumble, “Uh, a year? About a year? Maybe a little less than a year?” (For the record: one year, three weeks, and five days.)

I’ve blogged on Kveller a bunch about my ambivalence about the suburbs. First I wondered if I was old enough to own a house and then I wondered if the suburbs would make my kids boring. There was a post where I asked, “Will we find people like us?” and one where I tried to instruct readers on how to “close on a house and not freak out.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 21 2013

Since Living in the Suburbs, I Need to Take More Risks

By at 9:28 am

subway entrance new yorkWhen your hottest social engagement is taking your toddler and baby to Tasti D-Lite and then proceeding to read four different Curious George books at bedtime, you may have fallen into a bit of a rut. I know I have.

First, a disclaimer: I love my kids, Tasti D-Lite, and Curious George (and in that exact order), and I am more than happy to spend any free time I have in things that involve all of those elements. And my dismay at falling into a rut feels a bit disingenuous when my husband constantly implores me to institute some sort of official date night, or when he supports my much-coveted “me time” by doing more than his share. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 28 2013

My Exodus from Brooklyn

By at 9:52 am

long island pierAt the beginning of October, just a month after my husband and I closed on our house in the suburbs, I made a promise right here on the blog that I’d let you know how it all looked a few months in. Back in that blog post, I wrote about how nervous I felt at the closing despite my energetic spearheading of this move-to-the-‘burbs project. I tried to stay upbeat, and wrote that the closing is really an “opening-up” and I recalled how the sellers got us excited by listing all of the wonderful things our new town has to offer.

I also explained that we were moving our young family to the suburbs because we wanted “more trees, more space, less noise, a basement!”

Update #1: We have all of those things now, and they are nice to have.  Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 11 2012

How to Close on a House & Not Freak Out

By at 11:37 am

sign for a sold houseOne month ago, we closed on our new house. Its official now, we’re homeowners, we’re leaving the city, we’re moving to the suburbs. We’re not planning on buying a minivan and the kids are way too young to play soccer but I’m aware that in many, many ways, we’ve opened ourselves up to a host of conventions.

That’s okay. We’ve willingly chosen to become (even more?) conventional. It’s too hard to stay hip and relevant when there’s no space to turn around in your kitchen and the dog crowds you out of the hallway. We need more space. Picket fences, here we come. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 29 2012

Will the Suburbs Make My Kids Boring?

By at 12:56 pm

suburban house and duskMy parents (like many, many Jewish parents before them) are partial to telling me that things happen for a reason (or more accurately, that just about everything is bashert). So it was no surprise that following the heartache of finding a house we liked, signing what we thought was a binding contract and then discovering that the sellers hadn’t actually signed and instead went with another deal, my parents comforted me by saying that this house wasn’t meant to be, and that our bashert house was just waiting for us to find it. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 4 2012

Am I Really Old Enough to Own a House?

By at 10:21 am

suburban houseSo…we did it. After blogging here on my hesitations about the ‘burbs, after swearing up and down that this wouldn’t be us and flapping our gums at anyone who would listen–after pooh-poohing the pool club memberships and the landscapers and the minivans, we took the plunge and made an offer on a house a mere 20 minutes from where I grew up. Gah!

We twitched our way from accepted offer to signing a contract and wrote a check bigger than any check we’ve ever written. And perhaps most remarkable, we felt ourselves begin to get excited. We started fantasizing over peanut butter and jelly about the elaborate dinner parties we would cook in our big fancy kitchen and host on our new deck. We envisioned Avi and Maya and Pretzel (the dog) scampering around in the big old yard out back. We filled our days with what-ifs, both good and bad. We started planning for our move. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 21 2011

From Urban to Suburban

By at 3:04 pm

boca raton beach

Boca is beautiful, but what's the catch?

Last week, Lili Kalish Gersch shared with us the trials and tribulations of living in a cramped urban apartment with a young kid. Here, we get the flip side from Boca Raton’s newest resident.

Our motivation in moving from Manhattan to the suburbs in South Florida was to save money. We loved most things about our urban lifestyle–the convenience of most errands being only a block away, the ability to order any meal we wanted any time of day, the fact that just walking around the block with our dogs was filled with sights, sounds, and probable run-ins with friends. New York is absolutely a Jewish city but in the way that a cabbie from Haiti will call another driver a putz and the Greek diners serve matzo brei in the spring.

We chose Boca Raton not only because it was close to my parents but since it was relatively affluent, we thought that we might be able to find some of the things we loved about city life like great restaurants, stellar schools, and lots of activities for families.

In New York, being a homebody usually meant you were into things like good restaurants, movies with friends, or a yoga devotee. Here it literally means you don’t go out at night. As a mom of two toddlers, I wasn’t even close to living a socialite lifestyle but like most people I knew, I would get together with friends at least a couple of nights a week.

What I miss most is those “only in New York” moments that can’t be replaced in another region.  Call me unsophisticated but I loved the times I saw Mick Jagger in a restaurant,  a woman walking with a parrot on her shoulder, or Gossip Girl filming in Central Park.  Here in Florida, I’ve lost that feeling of possibility, the sensation that any minute something exciting could happen.

Although the move has afforded us a far nicer lifestyle then we could have had in Manhattan, I can’t help feeling that living here is temporary. It doesn’t quite feel like “real life.” Sometimes it seems like I’ve moved to a Jewtopia where everyone is rich, impossibly fit, and their last name ends in -man, -berg  or the name of a precious metal.  Everyone I speak to, from new friends to neighbors, asks what we’re doing for the holidays. I haven’t experienced this type of Jewish immersion since summer camp.

Of course it’s cool to be able to go swimming every day, and my kids and I love seeing all the strange new wildlife down here. We went from pigeons to pelicans and from rats to reptiles. But most evenings when the sky turns into a screen-saver perfect sunset, I still feel this is all fleeting.

In my mind I’m picking out fall clothing and making plans to meet my Mom friends in the park for a playdate. I like to pretend time has frozen there without me. I really had an amazing and supportive network of friends–most of whom I met after becoming a mom so we bonded in that way only parents in similar stages can, over sleepless nights, toddler meltdowns, and Moms’ Night Out. And although I’ve met a ton of great new moms, the relationships all still have that new car smell. Intellectually I know it takes a while to adjust to a new place and for friendships to grow into a comfort zone. But for now my heart still belongs to NYC.


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