Sep 29 2014
I used to have the right idea for Yom Kippur. I liked the notion of an entire month to clean up my messes from the past year, and I worked hard to deliver carefully worded apologies. The promise of a clean slate appealed to my resolution-making personality. And I appreciated the fact that the obligation to make life improvements deeper than, say, eating better, differentiated the Jewish New Year from the secular one. I was a High Holiday superfan.
This year, however, I’ve found it difficult to focus solely on my faults, my wrongdoings, and my petty behavior. Enough about me, I’ve found myself thinking. Let’s talk about you.
I realize it’s not in the “High Holiday spirit” to preoccupy myself with the ways I’ve been wronged, but I can’t stop thinking about the few relationships in my life that could use some healing. One friend, in particular, I’ve drifted apart from due to so many layers of back and forth “offenses” through the years that I’m not even sure how the tension started or why. I’m willing to do my part, but I refuse to take all the responsibility. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 23 2014
My children and I will be spending the High Holidays apart this year. This is nothing new. When my now ex-husband left our home in Albany five years ago and moved back in with his parents on Long Island, part of our agreement was that our son and daughter would spend most of the Jewish holidays with him and his family. They were 2.5 and 5 years old at the time.
During the first year of our marriage separation, I travelled to Long Island with my children for Passover. I was not ready to let go. It was all so new, this idea of not being with my chubby-cheeked babes every moment of the day. I stayed with a friend-of-a-friend who opened up her house to me, aware of my tenuous grip on sanity as I prepared to leave my kids for a full day with their dad and grandparents for the very first time. I was scared.
Of course the visit went just fine, and subsequent holidays and alternating weekends carried on without me. My children are now 7.5 and 10 years old. They love the car rides down to Long Island, visits to museums, and–most importantly–time with their dad and grandparents. They are truly lucky to be loved by so many caring people. For this, I am blessed. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 22 2014
My husband and I grew up very differently–I in an Orthodox household that celebrated every single Jewish holiday, and he in a Reform one that acknowledged Passover, saw Rosh Hashanah as a good excuse to make brisket, and suffered through Yom Kippur.
When I began dragging my husband to family gatherings for holidays he’d previously never even heard of, he was a good sport about it–and he still is, when those holidays fall on the weekends. But for the past number of years, the holiday calendar has been particularly cruel to those of us bound by limited time off and jobs that don’t close for Jewish observances. And this year is no exception.
Now I’m not particularly upset about spending my vacation days on the holidays this year, especially since we don’t have any major travel plans. But try convincing someone who grew up the way my husband did that it’s worthwhile using up all your vacation time to celebrate every single holiday our religion boasts. Read the rest of this entry →
One of the overarching themes of the High Holidays is atonement. In synagogue on Yom Kippur, we say the Vidui prayer, a confessional, in which we pound our chests and fess up to a host of sins that we, collectively, have committed throughout the year (i.e. I have lied, I have cheated, I have robbed).
This year we’d like to tweak the Vidui a little bit. Taking inspiration from one of our most popular High Holiday posts in which Jordana Horn adapted the Vidui for parents, this year Kveller will compile our own inventory of modern day sins and confessions. This is where you come in! Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 18 2014
I will never forget the first time my parents took me to Kol Nidrei services, and the congregation stood, as the night fell, to put on their tallitot (prayer shawls). After the blessing, those who were standing like a forest of people all around me picked up their tallit and draped them over their shoulders. The movement of hundreds of people in silence all together was stunning. That silence was incredibly beautiful–and the wind that I felt from the lifting of the fabric felt to me, a small girl, like the wings of angels beating.
Eileen Price’s recent post on Kveller, “I Won’t Force My Kids to Attend High Holiday Services,” prompted me to respond. In my opinion, it is incredibly, incredibly important to bring children to services for the High Holidays. There are so many reasons, but to my mind, it all boils down to two simple ones:
1. No matter how Jewishly observant a person is the rest of the year, this is a time when all Jews come together as a community. Read the rest of this entry →
May 22 2014
I broke a mug today. My favorite one. It was half-filled with miso soup when it shattered. Jagged cuts of blue porcelain and tiny tofu clouds hurled across my floor like a child’s version of The Big Bang.
I’ve always marveled at how containers can enhance the enjoyment of the contents. This cup, with its elegant patterns and exaggerated curves had elevated my nightly green tea into a royal refreshment.
Now this magic goblet lay in pieces on the floor, bleeding its fishy contents onto the thin carpet. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 11 2014
This post is part of our Torah MOMentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Ahare Mot. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
This week’s portion is roughly halfway through the Torah. Here’s what I’ve noticed after writing about parenting for half a year: it’s hard to find the middle ground.
To acknowledge the miraculousness without sentimentalizing, without glossing over the day-to-day reality.
And to acknowledge the profound daily challenges without complaining, without dwelling in negativity.
Middle ground has been in short supply around here lately, and not just because I’m pregnant with #2 and on my own hormonal roller coaster. Like one of those tantalizingly unpredictable loves of my early 20s, Sylvie, about to turn 2, vacillates between extremes:
1. Unbearable cuteness. Example: “Thank you mama, for brush my teeth!”
2. Frustrating randomness. Example: “Orange juice please! Orange juice please! Orange juice please!” Then, when I bring her some: “No, I want apple juice!”; weeps in utter despair. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 17 2013
During Yom Kippur, like many of you, I sat and stood for hours in synagogue, the change in posture serving as punctuation for my thoughts. As the sun crossed the sky, I thought about the person I had been for the past year, and was upset by all the ways in which I’d come up woefully short.
Over the course of Yom Kippur, the machzor guides us through feelings of awe and wonder, humility and agency, grief and hope. In contrast to God’s strength and power, we are, in the words of the Unetaneh Tokef, “a broken shard, grass that withers, a fading flower, a passing shade, a dissipating cloud, a blowing wind, flying dust, and a dream that vanishes.” Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 13 2013
Like many other parents of toddlers, I spend a lot of time teaching my 3-year-old daughter to apologize. She is taught to apologize when she doesn’t listen, or when she doesn’t cooperate, or when she is screaming for no reason, or when she wakes her little sister. I’ve put her in time out and made her apologize for spitting, for hitting, for pushing her sister, for refusing to share, for refusing to brush her teeth, for refusing to use the potty, and for refusing to take a bath.
My wife and I spend a lot of time discussing the things our eldest daughter does wrong and we try to make sure she understands how she has erred and explain to her how to behave properly the next time a similar conflict arises. “Use your words,” we often tell her. “Share your toys,” “be cooperative,” and “be gentle” are other common pieces of advice she receives. And we hope that this process has an impact.
So, what I am saying is that, for a toddler, every day is Yom Kippur. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 12 2013
On Yom Kippur, we stand in our respective congregations and recite the Vidui, a confession of a litany of sins for which we claim collective responsibility. We do this as a group, I remember being told as a child, so that no one has to confess, “I murdered,” alone, and also so that we realize our collective responsibility as a community for one another’s actions.
At Kveller, we have created a congregation and family of parents, readers, writers, communicators, and Jews. We share our stories with one another. We kindle friendships virtually and actually between one another.
Our paths to parenting are very different, as are our outlooks on how to best parent our children. And yet this is a community of respect–all too rare a thing in the Internet era–in which we share our opinions openly and thoughtfully, and throw ideas rather than insults at one another. Read the rest of this entry →