Jun 18 2013
This post is part of Mayim’s month-long series about the Jewish aspects of divorce.
I didn’t grow up knowing anything about the mikveh, the ritual bath religious women enter before their wedding and each month after their menstrual cycle ends. When I learned about it as a teenager, it sounded gross. It sounded like women were treated horribly there, and it sounded like Judaism thought I was dirty and it did not appeal to me at all.
As I increased my Jewish learning at UCLA and specifically through UCLA Hillel, I learned that there were movements of women who were “taking back” mikveh as a transformative and mystical experience. Women who, after divorce or cancer treatment or miscarriage or abortion, were entering the sacred waters to rejuvenate and start again. They were liberating the experience from halachic restrictions and were making a new world of mikveh open to all women. It was beautiful, I thought. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 12 2013
This post is part of Mayim’s month-long series about the Jewish aspects of divorce.
As a woman who is observant-ish and has led an observant lifestyle, divorce presents some very interesting challenges. I don’t know that I am yet ready to present my personal decisions about some of these challenges, but I wanted to share what the challenges are in hopes that other women might find them helpful.
Jewish weddings are held in a religious ceremony that has its own set of laws and rituals. A Jewish wedding is sealed with a ketubah, a marriage contract ensuring protection for the woman in case of mistreatment, neglect, or refusal of rights, such as–not kidding–the right to be sexually satisfied by your husband. Judaism is one of the first religions producing a document (thousands of years ago, mind you) that held the woman’s rights in any esteem, so it’s a very big deal. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 7 2013
The last post I wrote about head-covering after divorce was the first in a four-part series of posts I have written about Jewish aspects of divorce.
My goal with these posts is to be educational without being excessively emotional; I am told that I am an emotional writer and so it’s hard to separate those. As a writer and public person, I don’t share “everything” and I choose very carefully what to share, always trying to think of my motive. Do I share things just because I can? Or can my writing serve a purpose which is not strictly narcissistic!?
I hope that these divorce posts will accomplish two things. First, I hope they educate people about aspects of divorce in the Jewish community they may not have heard about or thought about. I love that we have Jewish and non-Jewish readers on Kveller who like to learn about how other people live religiously. It’s wonderful for us to have this forum to share. And second, I hope to give support to women who may be similarly struggling with some of the more subtle aspects of divorce by talking about the uncomfortable and inevitable decisions that often come with being traditional in a nontraditional situation.
In other news, I am doing great. I am not a sad sack of potatoes, at least not all of the time. My boys are doing great, their dad is doing great. We are okay. The struggles I am sharing are struggles that I hope have universal aspects to them, but I am working through all of it with support of friends and a great therapist and lots of nourishing myself with time for music and art and adjusting.
I appreciate the virtual support I get from everyone who knows me from Kveller and in the media, and I also appreciate the privacy being given to me and my family that is so important in this transitional time.
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Jun 4 2013
My crocheted kippah.
This is the first in a month-long series of posts Mayim will be writing about the Jewish aspects of divorce. Up first: head coverings.
I was raised in a traditional Jewish household attending a Reform synagogue. My mother was raised Orthodox but left traditional Judaism pretty much as soon as she could.
When we lit Shabbat candles, my mother covered her head with a doily and I had a matching one so I could be like her.
My mom’s older sister was very religious, so she and all of her daughters covered their heads all the time in tichels (headscarves), hats, and, for special occasions, fancy wigs. To me, head coverings were for super religious people. I had no problem wearing a small kippah sometimes when making blessings as a child, and one of my cousins in Israel even crocheted me one with my name on it which I treasured and still have and treasure. I saw nothing strange about women wearing kippahs, since in Reform and Conservative circles, it was acceptable. Why not? Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 29 2013
I know that I have so much to be grateful for, and I am. I live in a country of democratic ideals (even though it’s not perfect), I have a roof over my head, money for food and clothing and medicine, I am in fairly good health, I am employed, I have friends and family who love me.
I’ve talked a lot here on Kveller about my religious faith, even in the face of my horrible car accident, and even in the face of doubt and fear. And I think I have realized that it is that sense of faith that helps me get through my moments/hours/days/weeks/months of despair. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 29 2013
Pesach was good! Mid-divorce, I hosted everyone. And it was great.
In addition to my I-still-call-her-my-mother-in-law and Michael, my parents were there and my uncle. My closest and oldest friend and her 7-year-old daughter came and the kids had a blast. Her 7-year-old and my 7-year-old even let my 4-year-old find the afikomen because he was literally having a fit about the possibility of not finding it, starting at about karpas. Thank you, mature 7-year-olds! Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 19 2013
Passover is upon us and I am sort of almost ready. Because of my car accident seven and a half months ago and my tendinitis which I am just finally over, my cleaning and cooking will not be as thorough and rigorous as I like them to be, but I am doing things differently this year and that’s a good thing.
Here are the things I am doing differently:
1. Not obsessing as much as I like to. Traditional Judaism is a beloved religious undertaking for those of us on the Obsessive-Compulsive spectrum, with its myriad boundaries, numerical rituals, and things to do and not do in order to be “right” with God and the world. Even our spring cleaning is regimented, to a certain extent, and I usually take this time of year to go totally nutso bonkers with my cleaning. This year, it will be more by-the-books and I will save the super duper magnifying glass-type of scouring for another time when my hand is better. And that’s ok. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 27 2013
I wonder when parenting/my life will stop feeling like something to survive, but for today I can say with confidence and a smile on my face that we survived Purim.
As I described last week, despite the fact that we are in the middle of a divorce, our sons designed a family-themed Purim costume as they have in years past. The exact character designations changed slightly in the past week and here’s how it shook down: Fred, who is 4 and Miles, who is 7, went as everyone’s favorite French vintage comic book hero Tintin. Mike (my almost ex) went as Captain Haddock, like the fish. I still went as Snowy the Dog. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 19 2013
Purim is next Saturday night/Sunday. I’m getting divorced. Let me tell you what I’ve learned this Purim season: kids don’t give a good gosh darn if you’re getting divorced; they want you to show up for Purim in a family-themed costume.
Two years ago, we were all superheroes. I was Wonder Woman (tznius-style, complete with denim skirt past the knee rather than bathing suit), the elder son was Superman, the younger son was Batman, and the almost-ex was Robin. We were adorable.
Last year, we were cowboys. Also adorable. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 14 2013
Both of my boys were sick this past weekend. Thank God, nothing bad, not the flu, just high fever, runny, lethargic, and fitful all night and most of the day as well. I was alone with the boys, with my tendinitis hand and my low patience, which seems to be the tagline to my life right now: “Mayim Bialik: Actress, Neuroscientist, Low Patience.”
Here are the high points and low points, presented alternately, so as to spread out the bad and sprinkle them with good.
Read the rest of this entry →