Apr 17 2014
I feel like I can’t even put two sentences together. Passover has me worked. I’m tired of cooking, I’m tired of not being able to eat out (I know, I am spoiled, I know!) My stomach already hurts from matzah. That set in literally 24 hours into the holiday. Okay: I’m done kvetching. I just had to put that out there.
And, oh, here’s my lunch from the set of “The Big Bang Theory” the other day.
Mmmmmm. Matzah. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 14 2014
Well, folks. Passover is upon us. The cooking is done. All that’s left for me to do after work today is assemble the eggplant-tomato casserole at my ex’s and to help him set the table. And to hang on tight as I head into eight days of not eating out, not eating grains, not eating beans or corn or anything with those ingredients, and eight days of feeling a part of a tradition stretching back thousands of years.
Tonight at sundown we begin the celebration of the freedom that should be a human right: to be allowed to eat where and how and when you want, to not be a slave to someone else’s desires or needs, to not forget what it means to be imprisoned simply because you are not enslaved today.
For many Jews, Passover is a beloved holiday. The proscriptions for observance are centered in the home. The Seders involve singing and discussion and this communal meal that echoes ancient order. And as much as many of us complain about matzah making our tummies hurt, there is a familiarity to this holiday of complaining and kvetching about the Bread of Affliction that I cannot distance myself from. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 13 2014
Last year, I was recently divorced when Purim fell. Purim, for those of you not in the know, is a spring holiday commemorating the near destruction and redemption of the Jewish community in Iran some 2000 years ago. For the record, it’s the Book of Esther, God’s name is curiously never mentioned in the entire Megillah that recounts it, and the hero of the story is actually a heroine named Esther. She’s awesome. Anyway.
Last year, amidst the still-clearing rubble of the mess and chaos that is divorce (even one that is managed extremely maturely and lovingly as my ex and I strive to do), my kids assumed that we would do a family costume like we always did. At that time they were 4 and 7. So we did a family costume in the middle of a divorce. We went as the cast of Tintin, with both of my boys as Tintin, my ex as the drunk Captain and me as Snowy the Dog, of course. Here’s me as Snowy in case you missed it last year. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 19 2013
As I’ve written about here before, my ex converted to Judaism before we got married and his mother converted to Judaism after we got married. My ex’s father still celebrates Christmas and our sons have visited him and his wife every Christmas of their lives. This Christmas experience has, for them, not been a religious one, but rather a festive meal not unlike Thanksgiving; a pretty tree decorated with, among other things, Star Trek ornaments, and more gifts than they get for Hanukkah.
It is very clear to my sons that we don’t celebrate Christmas and that we honor their grandparents who do celebrate Christmas by visiting them on December 25th.
I respect Christmas in all of its forms of celebration and I do not begrudge people celebrating Christmas. Here’s why I’m not bummed out that I don’t. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 2 2013
A still from the video of the Maccabeat’s cover of Matisyahu’s “Miracle.”
Since Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving this year–or did Thanksgiving fall on Hanukkah rather!?–I wanted to share eight things I am thankful for so far this Hanukkah. Context: I just got back from the weekend with my ex and our sons at my ex’s mom’s house. All of us together. In one house. For three nights. Cozy wozy, indeed.
1. I am grateful that my ex and I communicate so well, even when it’s hard. We planned the gifts, the travel, the meals; everything together.
2. In my dreams I would do a “No-Gifts” Hanukkah, but in reality, the ex and I made modest choices that suited both of us not perfectly, but reasonably. We chose medium and small gifts our boys truly have been wanting and will hopefully enjoy for a long time.
3. I love celebrating Hanukkah with my ex’s mom who converted to Judaism from Mormonism about six years ago. She is such an inquisitive Jew, and she studies more Torah and Talmud than most Jews from any denomination that I know. She makes a mean latke and even buys vegan sour cream for me to smear on mine. And she doesn’t even complain about how every Jewish food is destined to make us all fat, and her kitchen stove top all greasy. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 14 2013
I’m not always the best daughter. Sometimes I’m impatient, short-tempered, bossy, and annoyed with my mother. I work hard to promptly apologize to my mother when I’ve not behaved nicely but I admit that I don’t always do that perfectly either. I may be able to make up for every prickly thing I’ve ever said or done to my mother with this post, because I would like to talk about how she prepares for holidays such as Thanksgivukkah, which happens in a few weeks.
My mom is a great cook. Her Hungarian mother was also a great cook and I bet my grandmother’s mother was a good cook too, and so on, all the way back. My mother specializes in all kinds of food but her presentation, her attention to detail, and the joy with which she cooks and serves food are also noteworthy.
Since I had my first son eight years ago, my mother has started the mini-tradition of writing up menus before holidays. This serves a dual purpose. She is a Type A list-maker and, thus, making menus satisfies her list making needs. Secondly, she likes me to consult about the menu, make changes as needed, and select which items I will be helping with. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 12 2013
This year, for the last time until about 80,000 years from now, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day. Thanksgivingfully (hahaha), Hanukkah goes on for eight nights but Thanksgiving is only one. This means that for those of us who value the religious, spiritual, and cultural significance of Hanukkah, it won’t be completely engulfed by Thanksgiving. We’ll have seven more nights to sing Maoz Tsur and spin the dreidel.
However, for those of us with children raised in a day and age when Hanukkah has become synonymous with gift-giving, this coincidence becomes a problematic one. Case in point: my 5-year-old seems to think that Thanksgiving is a gift-giving holiday since he has heard that Hanukkah falls on the same day. I keep telling him it’s Hanukkah that he thinks of as a gift-giving holiday, and he looks at me like I’m insane. In his little brain, they are on the same day, and he therefore expects gifts on Thanksgiving. Hence, it’s a gift holiday. Sigh.
Why do I have a problem with my son associating Hanukkah with gift-giving? The first reason is that historically it hasn’t been associated with gifts, both in the greater Jewish population and in my family in particular. When I was growing up, my parents typically gave me new pajamas, a new wall calendar, and some collection of stationery items (pencils, note cards, erasers) as gifts. I always got at least one new dreidel for my dreidel collection. And of course, chocolate Hanukkah gelt. There may have been some years when I received a toy but my immediate association with Hanukkah when it comes to the notion of gift-giving is one of small gifts that were primarily functional and generally elicited eye-rolls and complaining from me because I thought all of that stuff was lame.
Except the Winnie the Pooh PJs I got when I was about 8. Those were awesome. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 13 2013
Yom Kippur begins tonight. I heard something from a friend of mine that he read on a Jewish website that resonated with me and I thought I would share it for Yom Kippur.
Shana Tova is how we say Happy New Year, but the literal translation is “Good Year.” There is a word in Hebrew for happy, of course (there’s not one for “like” though, just “love.” Interesting, right?! The Hebrew grammar nerd in me loves tidbits like that). But we don’t wish each other a Happy New Year, we wish each other a Good one.
What does this mean? Well, for starters, I don’t know God’s thoughts. No one can know God’s thoughts. Einstein famously said, “I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are mere details.” But we can’t know. God is unknowable, and we can only grasp a sliver of the entirety that is the infinite Ein Sof (literally, Without End). Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 9 2013
Playing trumpet on the Arsenio Hall Show!
Rosh Hashanah has come and gone. It’s 5774. This was a hard New Year, since it’s my first one spending it divorced, but as I wrote about before the New Year, I was blessed to spend it with my ex and our boys and my parents and all in all, it went well.
I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions like some of our Kveller writers did this year, but I found one on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 4 2013
The Jewish New Year is upon us. I don’t know about you, but the High Holidays really snuck up on me this year. Perhaps because they came a month earlier than usual (our lunar calendar is due for the solar correction of an extra month next year), or perhaps because this has been such a big year for me full of changes and busyness; I don’t know. They just snuck up on me.
That being said, here are the Top 5 Things On My Mind this Rosh Hashanah. Some are Rosh Hashanah-related, some are not.
1. My first son was born between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and bears the middle name “Rosh” in Hebrew because of that. Every year since I was pregnant with him, I make a plum cobbler with plums from my mother-in-law’s plum tree and freeze it to eat on his birthday. This year, because of the Jewish calendar being so early, his Hebrew birthday falls about five weeks before his secular one. Read the rest of this entry →