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Jun 12 2014

How An Email I Sent About Pizza Started a Religious Firestorm

By at 2:09 pm

email-firestorm

As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. The other day, I forwarded an email to a local community listserv from a local pizza restaurant offering to donate 20 percent of proceeds to a well-known Jewish charity. And with that, I had ignited a religious firestorm.

The listserv was started by an Orthodox woman in our town and, though I assume initially it was comprised of mostly Orthodox women, word has spread and it has grown to nearly 200 women who span the range of religiosity. I was added to the list about two years ago. For me and for many others, it is our go-to place for community recommendations like babysitters or doctors. All three painters who provided an estimate to paint my house were recommended by women on the listserv. When I was cleaning out my playroom, with a quick email to this group, I found an eager taker for many of the toys my children had outgrown. When a friend from California posted on Facebook that she was looking for a bike to borrow or buy cheaply for use during an upcoming New York visit, I was able to hook her up through this list. People post about anything from asking for a last minute ride to the train station to finding out which streets have been plowed in a snowstorm, from promoting a local Torah class to offering sheitel (wig) cleaning services. Though I have never met many women on the listserv, including its founder, I love that they are out there and that we are all willing to help each other out.

Which is why I was so surprised at the reaction to my email. Within minutes of posting, one woman responded to me directly to point out that this restaurant was not kosher, stating that she didn’t think anyone on the listserv would go there. A few minutes later two more women sent replies to the entire group questioning why I’d send an offer for a non-kosher restaurant. Feeling like I had totally done something “illegal” by the unspoken listserv rules, and not wanting to engage in a religious debate, I quickly sent an email to the entire group: “I am sorry if my email offended anyone. My apologies.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 18 2013

What My 4-Year-Old Knows About Tolerance (Already!)

By at 12:46 pm

penguins at zoo“Today we played with multicultural dolls in honor of Martin King Jr. Day,” read the daily report from our daycare. Our son was about 7 months at the time. I have to admit I was slightly amused by the image of our baby drooling on toys of varying shades of color. While I am quite confident he missed the tolerance lesson, I truly appreciate the efforts of our caregivers.

I know our 4-year-old twins, on the other hand, are getting the message clearly and I am constantly learning from them. “Criss-cross applesauce” is what our children say as they sit down on the floor, legs folded beneath them. I received blank stares the ONE time I used the phrase “Indian style.” I must confess it never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with the old phrase we used regularly growing up, until the applesauce rhyme gave me cause to consider, like so many of the other words and phrases they glean from daycare.

The other day I had the rare opportunity to spend one-on-one time with our oldest who was home from daycare due to a mild fever. We talked without interruptions and he dictated the day’s agenda. We read books, did an art project, and shared a special breakfast. In that treasured time together, just the two of us, he did not have to compete for my attention and he could take his time expressing his thoughts. By late morning he was feeling better and we were both eager to get out of the house. At his request we headed to the zoo.  Read the rest of this entry →

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