Tamar Fox is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia with her partner, step-daughter, and foster daughter. Her writing has been published in the Washington Post, the Jerusalem Post, Tablet, Lilith, and many others. Her children's book, No Baths at Camp, was published in 2013 by Kar-Ben and is a PJ Library selection.
I'm a foster parent, and I think it should be harder to adopt a child from foster care. I don't think just anyone should be allowed to adopt children, especially children who have suffered through…the trauma that comes with being separated from their parents. Parenting is hard, and foster parenting is extra hard because you have to throw yourself into loving a child, and helping a child heal, even though they may go back to their parents one day. So yes, I think it should be harder, not easier,… >> Read More
It really felt like my Orthodox high school devoted a full 40 percent of each year to lessons on modesty. Modesty was demonstrated in one and only one way: through clothing. Skirts were modest, pants…were not. Shirts with words on them were not modest (unless they were names of universities--that’s somehow modest and promotional at the same time). Elbows were immodest. Knees were immodest. Necklines could be modest on a flat-chested person, but immodest on a person with large breasts. Each day we began the day with prayers, followed… >> Read More
This year I am leading Rosh Hashanah services for the first time, which means I have been spending a lot of quality time with my machzor (High Holiday prayer book). I've always been someone who feels…really stressed out about the High Holidays even as my belief in God wavers from day to day. The High Holidays feel really intense to me no matter where my faith is. Rosh Hashanah is, literally, Judgement Day, and that freaks me out. One part of the service that I've been working on a lot… >> Read More
I spent all of my day the other day editing articles about what to do if there’s a nuclear attack, or lead in the water supply, and tips for dealing with the spread of Zika.
By early afternoon,…I was feeling despondent and afraid. I went online and I bought one of those pre-packed backpacks with survival supplies to keep in our basement. Later, after a meeting, I felt fear again, a low-grade anxiety thrumming in my chest. Are we doing enough? Are we being delusional? How soon until my daughter’s birth certificate… >> Read More
I used to do yoga five days a week. Back in grad school, my schedule was dictated by a sparse smattering of classes, and I was free to arrange the rest of my days around the yoga classes at Sanctuary…for Yoga. After grad school, I still found ways to do yoga fairly regularly at my gym in New York. And when I moved to Philadelphia, I took weekly private lessons with an amazing teacher who kicked my butt and taught me so much. And then, as the story goes, I had kids. Figuring out… >> Read More
I spent four years at a religious high school dealing with a very strict dress code—and a staff of teachers who made it really clear that enforcing the dress code on girls was the thing they took…most seriously about their jobs. Women's bodies, in this environment, were an inherent distraction, and a huge amount of time and energy was spent discussing our bodies and their clothing ad nauseum. An entire semester was devoted to covering one's hair. Another semester was devoted to why pants were not allowed. It was a weird… >> Read More
A few times a year, my mother would clear off the dining room table and cover it with dozens of blank greeting cards. Then she took out her watercolors and got to work, painting beautiful abstract…designs on each card. Just a few flicks of her brush, two or three colors on each card, but the results were dazzling, deceptively simple designs. When the cards dried she gave them in packs of eight or 10 to our teachers, friends, or anyone celebrating something big or small. I was always disappointed when… >> Read More
When Ivanka Trump introduced her father at the Republican National Convention last week, she said, "American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be…novelties, they should be the norm." Well, she's right about that. But that will take putting some actual policies in place. Here are 10 things that will help make life better for working moms. 1. On site childcare for all companies with over 50 employees or for each office building with more than 50 employees.… >> Read More
In the short video that I saw, you could hear the child’s mother trying to keep the boy calm, trying, I bet, to keep herself calm. “Mommy’s right here. Mommy loves you.”
Almost as soon as…the words were out of her mouth, she was being blamed. We always blame the mother. In this case, the mother of the 4-year-old child who made it into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo was blamed for letting her child get away. She was blamed for saying, “Mommy’s right here,” as if there… >> Read More
So I was searching Etsy for afikomen related objects for work. And I did see some beautiful things, but right up top I saw this puzzling onesie: “First you get the Afikomen. Then you get the power.…Then you get the women.” I think my entire reaction to this can be summed up as: “?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!” Naturally, I posted it to Facebook, where my friends supported me in my confusion, and within 20 minutes someone had posted a clip from “The Simpsons” and someone else had explained it’s a quote from “Scarface” (with money… >> Read More
When it was time for me to go to minyan to say Kaddish for my mother's seventh yahrzeit, I decided to bring my foster daughter, Adira, and my partner, Jesse, too. For most of service, I was…leading and Jesse had Adira in the sling. But when Jesse had an aliyah to the Torah, I sat with Adira on my lap, and she and I looked over the Torah portion together. She also enjoyed trying to grab my tefillin, and sucking on my tallit. It's difficult for us to make it to minyan on weekday mornings,… >> Read More
Yesterday afternoon I met up with my partner at a local bar. My Instagram feed had me craving a Bloody Mary, and Jesse never needs any arm twisting to get to the South Philly Tap Room. That morning…he took our brand new foster daughter, Adira, to the farmer’s market while I made a quick trip to Ikea in search of a changing table and then set up shop in a coffee shop to spend two hours working on my novel. By 3 p.m. we both deserved a drink, and as we sat… >> Read More
Last night I blew off a pretty important meeting to spend a couple of hours with my daughter, Dafna. I fed her dinner (matzah ball soup is the thing she is most passionate about in life), gave her a…bath (by the end of it we were both completely soaked--she is a splash monster), and put her in her jammies. Then I gave her a bottle, read her some stories, and played with her until she was so tired that she conked right out and slept through the night. It was a low-key evening,… >> Read More
My foster daughter is the cutest socialist you will ever meet. I know that there are people in this country who are afraid of socialism, or think that it’s not their responsibility to…take care of anyone else, but Dafna is here to show you why socialism can be awesome. Let’s be real: On the whole, being a kid in the foster system is terrible. You enter the system because of abuse and neglect. Children often get shuffled through many different placements, may or may not get to… >> Read More
One Friday night in early August two strangers showed up at my door and dropped off a baby. It was almost anticlimactic.
My partner and I had gone through the foster care certification…process months before, and had been patiently waiting for a call, but there was no morning sickness, no bloating, no endless doctors’ appointments, and no labor. There was just me, getting a call on my cell phone while I cooked Shabbat dinner. Would I like a 1-month-old baby girl? Yes? See you in a few… >> Read More
Recently, Kveller received the following note from a reader:
I often read Kveller, and was wondering if your website could shed some light on an issue I've been struggling…with. I am an Orthodox woman in my mid-20s, and I have a lot of sexual curiosity. I am a virgin and plan to stay that way until I marry, but at the same time, I would like to explore my sexuality and not feel guilty about it, and am wondering if this is possible… >> Read More
Just before Passover, my partner and I became certified foster parents in Pennsylvania. This means that we could get a call literally on any day, and have a new child in our family by the…end of that day. We are incredibly excited (and more than a little scared), and because we have no idea when our family will be changing, we’ve been mentioning it in conversations so that our friends and community won’t be totally taken aback when one day we show up somewhere as a family of four,… >> Read More
For the past three weeks, I’ve been quietly absorbing the news from Israel. I lit candles for the three missing boys on Shabbat. I was hopeful that they would be found alive, and inspired by…the words of Rachelle Fraenkel. When their bodies were found, I felt a familiar horror and pain at the loss of more lives, which increased as the violence ramped up from the IDF, and from Hamas. These days, it seems like half of my Facebook friends are in Israel, spending hours of every day in… >> Read More
In 1938, my grandfather escaped Austria on the kindertransport. He was sent to England, where he lived with a family who sponsored him. His parents were sent to the Isle of Wight, where they were…prisoners for most of the war. Eventually he made it to the US, where he lived briefly in Ohio before being conscripted into the Army, and sent back to Europe to work as a translator. The Holocaust is very much a part of my family narrative. It’s part of my history, and it’s important to… >> Read More
Last week my partner and I wandered into a new cloth diaper store in our neighborhood. It has lots of cloth diapers, plastic covers, slings, and basically all the things you need if you’re…planning to be a hippie parent. We were there to purchase dryer balls, but my partner started asking the woman who owns the store about various cloth diaper services in the city, and she looked at me. “Are you expecting?” I had a brief moment of not knowing how to answer. At all. My mind… >> Read More
We were at family yoga at the YMCA when Ronia started complaining that her thigh hurt. The yoga teacher, an infinitely patient soul with a hilariously incongruent voice that sounds like she’s…been smoking a pack a day since 1975, had us in a mildly challenging pose, and Ronia, along with two other kids in the class, suddenly piped up that it hurt. The complaint came back three more times during the course of the 45-minute class. Each time we stopped and did a brief examination, her… >> Read More
You can buy a Hanukiyah (we even have some recommendations), but if you're crafty or have kids who love to get their hands dirty with paint, glue, glitter, and markers, try making these…incredibly cheap hanukiyot at home. It's a great way to get ready for the holiday, and ensure that everyone in your family has their own personalized Hanukiyah. What does your hanukiyah need? According to Jewish law you need space for eight candles or oil cups, and they need to be even (i.e. none should be… >> Read More
If there's anything I've learned from being a longtime Kveller reader and contributor, it's that raising kids is HARD. Kids need attention and love all the time, but they also need dinner, a bath,…and a bedtime story, all before 7:45 p.m. or you will pay for it in the morning. Diaper changes and temper tantrums, picking a school, picking up toys, monitoring screen time--it's endless. All of that said, I envy all you moms and dads out there, because being a parent seems (from my no-doubt warped perspective)… >> Read More
Just before bedtime I put on a brave face and begin "The Great Fashion Debate." What will my step-daughter wear the next day? I try to open with a note on the weather or the next day's…activities--long sleeves if it's cold, something fancier if we'll be going to synagogue--and then wait for Ronia's first choice. At 5 years old, Ronia is not as invested in fashion as some of her friends, but she definitely cares, and has a strong affinity for dresses and skirts, pink things, and anything with ruffles. This… >> Read More
All the parenting news you probably didn't have time to read this week.
Potty training hasn't been sufficiently studied by scientists, but it looks like there are two popular and…relatively effective methods: the relatively gradual Brazelton approach, and the 3-day you'll-probably-have-to-get-your-rugs-shampooed-afterwards Foxx/Azrin approach. (Slate) For lots of moms, like the one profiled in this article, leaning in, a la Sheryl Sandberg, is not as high of a priority as learning out--spending time with family, and being able to work from home. (New York Times)… >> Read More