When it’s Time to Give Back

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We were on vacation for the last ten or so days, visiting my parents, doing what I consider to be an American tradition:  The cross-country road trip.  It was very refreshing.  So much so that even though my re-emergence into normal life included a Motzei Shabbos clean-up involving one area rug, a blanket, a pillowcase, a pair of little shoes and three rooms’ hardwood floors from two different potty-training accidents (yes, both kinds of accidents), I’m still smiling.

It was that good of a trip.

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Before Our Feelings Fade

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The first thing I did was cry when I heard the heart wrenching news that the three kidnapped boys in Israel were not just kidnapped, but murdered.  Almost the next thing I did was get off of Facebook.  I just couldn’t.  I didn’t want to comment, I didn’t want to read comments or links to articles.  I just wanted to ignore it, to not feel the pain.  But how can I not feel the pain when practically the whole Jewish people are weeping?  It’s not possible.

We all have different reactions to tragedy.  Some of us get angry and cry for revenge.  Some of us are unable to stop crying.  Some wonder how to tell our children.  We may be feeling different things, but we are all feeling together.

Together is something that seems to crop up a lot during times of crisis.  And as a people, we are good at banding together when we need to.  It seems like that it’s a common refrain at sad, tense times: That we are united, and what a shame it is that it always takes a crisis to unite us.

Honestly, I’m tired of hearing it.  I’m tired of hearing platitudes about how we should keep the unity going, but not plans on how to do it.  Words are good, words can be very powerful, but what good are words when we are once again swept away in the flow of mundane life, with all its petty grievances, annoying neighbors, impossible relatives, and so on?

I remember the clarity I felt after my sister-in-law’s death.  I really saw with such certainty the direction that I wanted to go, how I wanted to act and who I wanted to be.  But the clarity fades.  Inspiration fades.  That’s what it does.  We have to latch onto it with actions while we’re feeling it.

So while we are still at the peak of our pain over these boys, while we are having all the feelings, why not commit to one act that will be a merit for the boys, and a merit for peace.

For Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, commit to:

  • learning the laws of the power of speech
  • being kind to someone who is difficult to be around or to tolerate
  • letting go of a petty grievance
  • not talking on your phone while in the checkout line
  • making small talk with the cashier in the grocery store
  • being more patient with your children or family
  • giving someone the benefit of the doubt
  • looking at someone who annoys you as a person and not just someone who annoys you
  • lighting Shabbos candles, even just once
  • signing up for a Partner in Torah
  • smiling and greeting everyone you see

I commit to listening to at least one Torah class or lecture a week (which I totally have not been doing)

May all who mourn be comforted, and may the memory of these precious boys be a blessing.  

Why I Almost Quit Performing

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Tonight I’ll be on stage.  Along with two other accomplished musicians, I’ll be performing classical and klezmer pieces.  G-d willing, it’s going to be fabulous.  But it almost wouldn’t have happened for me.  I almost gave up solo performing entirely.   Continue reading

Technical difficulties

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It’s very tempting to let autocorrect do its thing. I’m typing this on my phone, as my computer has been very out of commission since Tuesday.

There’s been a call to apple support, the purchase of an external hard drive (a very overdue purchase, honestly. You should all go out and get one of those right now if you haven’t already) and there will be backing up of data and reinstallation of software in the near future. G-d willing, that will solve the problem.

Until them, I’ve been tortured by making the most of my no-laptop life. And after all this time, I thought I’d give you a little update on what was going on. Because, you know, I’m sure you were all wondering.

But typing on my phone is very tedious, and I’m tempted to not go back and correct the many mistakes that happen when typing only with one’s thumbs. It’s only the type-A in me that’s making this post intelligible.

I’m hoping to post soon about all the brilliant insights and deep metaphors I’m having through this experience. Until then, enjoy the start of your summer and, if you want a challenge, meditate on what I really meant by this:

The knotting to dear is dealers le.

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The Mountain Family – A Review

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If you’ve been wondering what to read this Shavuos, perhaps you should try the Mountain Family.  The subtitle is “An Appalachian Family of Twelve – and their fascinating journey to Judaism.”  Yes, that’s right.  A family of twelve.  That’s ten kids, and they all converted to Judaism.

Can you imagine?  To say that’s not typical, is, well, you know.  Obvious.

Why read this book over Shavuos?   Continue reading

Give Yourself the Credit You’re Due

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I got this Facebook message a while back:

“Now that I have three [kids] I have no idea how you look put together, write blog posts, practice music, buy groceries, eat, sleep, drink, etc. Any tips?”

What a nice message to receive!  My ego got a sorely needed boost.  What’s that, you say?  Well, most of the time, when I think of my life, I see a list of things that still need to be done, or that I could do better.  These are the types of things I will notice and dwell on: Continue reading

Potty Training Haiku

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I didn’t intend for this post to be for Mother’s Day, but now that it worked out this way it seems so entirely appropriate.

We’ve been in the midst of some sort of potty training for what seems like forever.  Really, it’s been two or three years.  Two or three years in the trenches of incentives, little potties, endless articles on strategies, on different philosophies (boot camp style versus letting them tell you when they’re ready) and on the odors that come with the process.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, as I’ve been sniffing around my house and noticing that it’s everywhere.  So I decided to write some haiku in honor of all that we go through in this particular stage of parenting.

Happy Mother’s Day, and best of luck to all of us who are in these trenches together! Continue reading