Ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr is a CLAL Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, a contributing author of The New Normal: Blogging Disability, and the editor of the newsletter of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Her writing appears regularly on various sites and she is a frequent guest on Huffington Post Live. Rebecca is a contributor toThe Sacred Encounter: Jewish Perspectives on Sexuality (CCAR Press, April 2014), and is the co-editor of a forthcoming title on the impact of forty years of women in the rabbinate. Writing at her blog, This Messy Life (www.rebeccaeinsteinschorr.com), Rebecca finds meaning in the sacred and not-yet-sacred intersections of daily life. Engage with her on Twitter @rebeccaschorr.
[This piece is co-written by Rebecca Einstein Schorr and Ben Schorr]
There is nothing like watching television with my kids. Over the years, I’ve learned a great deal about them: their likes and…dislikes, their values, and their beliefs. Letting them react to what we see and engaging them in conversation never fails to shed light into their internal workings. This was no more evident than when watching the new Netflix Original Series, “Atypical,” with our son, Ben. Ben, who is 17, was diagnosed with high-functioning autism when… >> Read More
When my 13-year-old daughter got home from school last Tuesday, I drew her close to me and apologized.
“I’m so sorry. I’m sorry the grown-ups have let you down. We tried; we really…did.” She pulled away from me, saying, “What the hell!?! Everyone is always saying that my generation is the future. What kind of future are we going to have if we’re uneducated? The adults, who are supposed to take care of us, just picked someone who is completely unqualified for the position.” And that, ladies… >> Read More
Sleep evaded me last night. The news of the death of Shimon Peres, z”l, weighed heavily on my mind. The melancholy has stayed with me all day as I read the myriad tributes from those…who knew him best as well as global leaders who have been touched by his diplomatic efforts these past many decades. With mournful Israeli music in the background, I struggle to find the words to explain my sadness. I did not know Shimon personally. I am not Israeli. And I don’t typically grieve for well-known… >> Read More
A mom on vacation in Delaware was recently arrested for leaving her 9-year-old and 8-year-old alone for less than an hour while she went to pick up dinner.
As it turns out, while…there is an age recommendation of 12 years old in the state of Delaware, it is not law. In fact, only a handful of states have a legal minimum for the age of a child left home alone. Many other states have guidelines, but even then, parents are encouraged to make decisions based on the… >> Read More
As we've discussed many, MANY times, I don't usually miss you when you are at camp. You are in your happiest place, and that makes me so happy. And I have the chance to chill and…recharge, and that makes YOU so happy. Last night was different. I missed you so much. Not because I needed you to be with me. But because I know how meaningful it would have been for you to witness the exact moment when, for the first time in our nation's history, a major political party… >> Read More
The Jewish tradition teaches that while weeping may abide in the night, joy will come in the morning. Yet for three consecutive mornings, our country has awakened to sorrow. And anger. And…fear. Fatal shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas have brought racial tensions back into the news cycle in an all-consuming way. My own emotions threaten to overwhelm me. Their normal bickering grates on my frayed nerves. “There’s so much hatred and violence in our broken world right now that you can’t get along with your… >> Read More
I have never paid much attention to the infant circumcision debate. As an observant Jew, there is no debate for me. Since Biblical times, our boys have been circumcised on the eighth day of life.…When our sons were born, it was a given that each one would be brought into the Covenant just as their father, uncles, grandfathers, and so on, had been. Each bris (or brit milah) was a profound experience for me as a mother and for our family. As a rabbi, however, I am often asked about this seemingly archaic… >> Read More
There is no question that music can play an important role in our lives. Like when a certain song comes up on the radio (or on your playlist), and immediately you can feel the wind on your face and…smell the salty air as you are transported to the summer before 11th grade. It is no less important in the lives of our children. As soon as I became a mom, I realized that everything could be put to a melody. We made up little ditties about our kids’ names, about the way they… >> Read More
The baby has arrived. It’s a boy! Which, assuming the little guy is healthy, means you have exactly one week to plan your son’s bris. You’ve already been in touch with the mohel, you’ve…informed your friends and family, and all that’s left, besides figuring out how to use the sitz bottle on your nether regions, is the food. Yes, it’s true. You can’t have a Jewish gathering without food. All joking aside, this idea actually comes down to us from the rabbis in the Talmud. After one has… >> Read More
Packing your child for overnight camp can seem like a daunting task. And, to be honest, it does take some preparation in order to avoid pre-departure meltdowns. Yours—not your camper’s. So here…are some thoughts to make the entire experience just a little easier. First, a few tips: 1. Read the suggested list from your camp. Seems obvious, but a lot of folks skip this step. If you trust the camp to care for your kid, trust that they know, from experience, how many pairs of socks… >> Read More
When my son, Ben, was a kid, a few times a year, he would get these funny twitches. It was kind of cute, actually. Like a bunny, twitching its nose. Sometimes it would be accompanied by some…throat-clearing. Or even some eye-blinking. And it was always accompanied by cold symptoms. The pediatrician would prescribe a 10-day course of antibiotics, which would clear up both whatever infection he had as well as these weird movements. Over time, however, it would happen more frequently. Instead of just one or two times a year, it… >> Read More
One of the positive compliments I often hear from non-Jews is how much emphasis we place on family and tradition. I love hearing that because I believe that these two things have contributed to our…sustainability against seemingly overwhelming odds. Yet, it is a dismaying fact that Jewish organizations and agencies have lagged behind the already-dismal numbers of workplaces that provide even a minimal amount of leave when a new child enters a family. The United States is the only industrialized nation without mandated paid parental leave. Currently, only 12%… >> Read More
The commandment to circumcise one’s son on the eighth day of life falls to the father. Fortunately, the rabbis of the Talmud understood that it is a rare man who can remove the foreskin of his…infant son’s penis. That is where the mohel (ritual circumcisor) enters. A mohel is one who is trained in both the ritual and surgical aspects of a circumcision. Unlike physicians, mohels in the United States are not regulated. So anyone with the ability and knowledge to perform a circumcision is permitted to do so. Among… >> Read More
I kept the secret for nearly two years.
Because I didn’t want to give my daughter a complex. Or in any way influence how she sees herself.
For nearly two years, I averted my gaze. I did my…very best to focus on her eyes without casting my glance down. So that I didn’t stare at her mustache. Yes, my sweet, dark-haired beauty had developed seemingly overnight an unmistakable ‘stache. It happened one day. I looked over at my 10-year-old and saw what I hoped was a shadow, or the light playing a… >> Read More
Rebecca Einstein Schorr became a reluctant stay-at-home-mom when her son Ben (14), who is on the autism spectrum and has Tourette's Syndrome, and his two adorable sidekicks, Lilly (11) and Jacob (7),…needed more from her. This is a day in her life. >> Read More
Sitting at my rising 6th grader’s middle school orientation, I was reminded, once again, that rearing our kids in a secular society can be a tricky proposition.
There it was, up on the…PowerPoint slide: “Meet the Teacher Night: Wednesday, September 24th, 2014, at 7:00pm.” September 24th…September 24th. Sounded familiar. A frantic check on my iPhone confirmed it; September 24th is the first night of Rosh Hashanah this year. >> Read More
For the past week and a half, my phone has been emitting siren sounds thanks to an app called Red Alert [also called Color Red in Hebrew]. While it is meant to alert Israelis to the very…real danger of incoming missiles, many in the diaspora, like me, have downloaded the app as a way to obsess stay informed. And I have chosen to keep on the audio. Now, I know that having my phone bleep isn’t the same when my life does not depend on my ability to locate and get… >> Read More
My daughter decided to learn how to ride a bike on Sunday.
Strange wording. Not “my daughter learned to ride a bike” but “my daughter decided to learn how to ride a bike.”…Because that is precisely what Lilly does; she makes a decision and then does it. And when she brought me outside to see her newest accomplishment, I said, “Remember what we do when we do something for the first time?” >> Read More
And now the Kveller Rabbi weighs in on what is most likely the most contentious issue on the calendar: Can you do both? Can one family celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah?
It is not a neutral issue.… People on both sides feel passionately. The question with which most families struggle, though, is not an interfaith one. It is an inter-cultural one. Or, as I have heard in some circles, an interfaithless one--because theological belief is not what is getting Kveller readers hot under the collar. >> Read More
Parenting has been compared to many things. I like to compare it to playing darts while wearing a blindfold. Because so often, it really does feel as though it’s just a stab in the…dark. Except when it works. Some theory you have or some tactic you use works. And then, for one moment, you feel like a freakin’ parenting expert. Which is exactly how I felt when I overheard the following conversation between my kids Lilly, age 10, and Jacob, age 6. >> Read More
The High Holy Days are difficult for everyone. The services are long. The liturgy relies heavily on theological notions that are often in conflict with our modern day beliefs. There is a lot of…Hebrew. Unfamiliar melodies. For most of us, however, we are able to overcome our discomfort and even, for some of us, use it at a spiritual tool. For kids like my son Ben, who is on the autism spectrum, these are just a few of the obstacles. Bright lights. Loud sound system. Uncomfortable seats. And… >> Read More
I am pleased to report that Lilly, our 10-year-old, is enjoying her time at overnight camp at this very moment. In fact... she looked ever-so-happy in a picture posted on their site yesterday... in a…bikini ...the kind that I don't allow her to wear. That’s right; I’m one of “those” mothers. My daughter can pick out whatever she wants at the store but knows that I have veto power. Like the president. Only without any provisions to override. Except she has now figured out a way to get around… >> Read More
“You are not allowed to shave until you are 16.”
“Because once you start, you’ll never be able to stop.”
“And never--no matter what--never shave above your knee.”
I know, from…the unscientific surveying of my contemporaries, that I was not alone in receiving such cautionary wisdom about shaving. But it makes me wonder where our mothers obtained this advice. Was it from their mothers? From their own experiences? From some outdated, antiquated, musty teen etiquette handbook? >> Read More
This post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.
God and sex have a lot in common.
Yes, you read that…correctly. God and sex have a lot in common. They are both topics that aren’t to be mentioned in polite company. They are both topics that make us uncomfortable to talk about with our kids. And they are both topics that are not one-time lectures, but ongoing conversations. That’s right; there is no such thing… >> Read More
I’ve never had a theological problem with Valentine’s Day. It was never a big deal in my family and my husband and I never really made a big deal about it in our relationship (though on…Valentine's Day 2004 he did give me TiVo. Best present ever!). And since our kids all attended JCC preschools where it was not acknowledged, we didn’t even have to deal with it until our oldest started kindergarten at a public school. And that is what got me thinking: is Valentine’s Day an appropriate celebration for… >> Read More