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Oct 3 2014

The President of Israel’s Moving Anti-Bullying Message for Yom Kippur

By at 1:36 pm


An 11-year-old boy from Jaffa has caught the attention of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

George Amire went viral in Israel, after he posted a video of himself on Facebook addressing the bullies who made fun of him in elementary school. In the powerful video, Amire holds up signs with the slurs he was called such as “homo,” “girl,” and “faggot,” ending with a sign reading, “Don’t judge me for who I am. Look at me, then… at yourselves… we are exactly the same.”

Inspired by Amire’s courage, Rivlin reached out to the boy and asked him to help with an anti-bullying/anti-racism campaign in time for Yom Kippur. The video is part of a larger campaign launched by Israeli leaders, an effort to combat growing intolerance and violence towards Arabs and African migrants. Read the rest of this entry →

What Kveller Parents Are Sorry For This Year

By at 11:14 am


As a play on the Yom Kippur confessional prayer, the Vidui, we asked you, our readers, to confess one thing you felt sorry about this year (a Kvidui, if you will). And you delivered. This past week, Kveller’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter feeds were flooded with messages of self-reflection, honesty, and even some humor.

The idea of the Vidui is for the Jewish people to band together and collectively atone for each other’s sins. So now that the sins are in, here they are without names–because they belong to all of us. We hope that, by reading these, you can recognize some parts of yourself, and together we can purge ourselves of the impatience, self-doubt, guilt, and many other flaws we experience as parents.

Thank you so much for your honesty. We wish everyone a meaningful Yom Kippur and, if you plan to fast, have an easy one. Read the rest of this entry →

The One Day of the Year When I Always Felt Jewish

By at 9:56 am


Growing up as the only Jewish family in town meant that we missed out on a lot of things. We didn’t go to Hebrew School, we barely acknowledged Shabbat, and we had very little connection to the Jewish community. My Israeli mother did her best to give us a basis in Judaism, but since my dad did not have a Jewish background and there were no other Jews for miles around, being Jewish was more of an abstract concept than a way of life.

But, every year, when the air turned cooler and the leaves turned colors, something would change in our house. My mother would grow quieter, more solemn. Instead of laughing and scolding us in the kitchen, she’d be in her room, poring over prayer books and muttering to herself in Hebrew. Even the air would feel heavier.

On Rosh Hashanah, we’d pick a few apples from the old orchard behind our house. We’d dip them in honey, wish each other a Shana Tova, and go back to our lives. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 2 2014

How to Do Yom Kippur Without Fasting

By at 12:15 pm


I am not going to fast on Yom Kippur.

There, I’ve said it publicly and that means I have to do it.

I want to fast, however I haven’t been allowed to fast since 1998 when I was hospitalized for anorexia nervosa. That year I remember eagerly awaiting Yom Kippur, because I knew I would be able to not eat anything for 24 hours and for once no one would give me a hard time about it. However, a few days before Yom Kippur, my friends helped me realize I had a problem with food, and once I entered treatment my doctors wouldn’t let me follow through on my plans to fast. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 1 2014

This Yom Kippur, I Owe Myself an Apology

By at 3:20 pm


After almost three years at home with my daughters, I returned to my job last fall. It has taken time for me to adjust to the change in rhythm. I’ve made mistakes along the way. But the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur itself hold a promise: No matter how grievous our sins, we can ask forgiveness and start again.

As I think of the people I may have offended or wronged this year, there is one name that keeps popping up. I have ignored her needs. I have harshly criticized her. My expectations of her are impossibly high.

Of course, that woman is me.  Read the rest of this entry →

This Yom Kippur, I’m Becoming a New Kind of Overprotective Parent

By at 11:15 am


Every day that goes by, I wonder fervently if I am doing enough as a mother to protect my children from the world. This is tempered only by the worry that perhaps I am doing too much, and sheltering them in such a way that they will be unprepared as they slowly emerge into a life where Mama cannot provide justice.

Yom Kippur is most commonly translated as the “Day of Atonement.” This modern definition was derived from the Hebrew word, kofer, which refers to a “protective covering.” In the Torah, God said to Noah, “Make an ark out of gopher wood, and you shall coat it from within and from without with kofer—pitch–(a protective coating).” God knew that in order to withstand the harsh flood waters, Noah’s ark would need a protective covering to keep it and its precious inhabitants safe.

While I am protective of both my children, I will admit that my steel resolve turns to mush when it comes to my daughter. Besides being creative, adorable, and incredibly tenacious, she has special needs. Chava was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, on the autism spectrum, at age 6. We are blessed with small classrooms in our local Jewish day school, as well as a myriad of understanding teachers, administrators, and specialists. She receives help from a resource room teacher, occupational therapist, and speech therapist on a daily basis. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 29 2014

Waiting For an Apology That Will Never Come

By at 10:17 am


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

The High Holidays Are Not The Same Without My Kids

By at 9:50 am


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

Celebrating the Holidays While Dad is at Work 

By at 3:37 pm

Celebrating holidays with dad at work

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 →

What Are You Sorry For This Year? Help Us Rewrite a #KvellerVidui

By at 2:37 pm


Dear Kvellers,

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 →


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