Why We Don’t Do What We Know Is Good For Us

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Our phone rang immediately after last Shabbos, and when I went to screen the call see who it was, I saw my mother’s cell phone number on the caller i.d.  But when I answered, it was my father on the line, which was unusual (I usually call him, and on their land line).  He told me that, shockingly, my mother was in the hospital (what?!), as she had had a gallstone which ended up in her pancreas and caused pancreatitis (yeah, I hadn’t ever heard of that before, but it’s a thing), and so she had been admitted to the hospital, and they were planning on keeping her until Tuesday.

Tuesday.  That was like, a five day stay.  That sounded serious to me.  And scary.  This is my mother.  Who is obviously supposed to be immortal and immune to all physical ailments.

Thank G-d, everything was okay.  My husband assured me that he’s seen plenty of pancreatitis which resolves very nicely (one of the perks of being married to a doctor, I guess.  They know stuff about things like pancreatitis).  My mother had her gallbladder out yesterday, and she’s recovering nicely, Thank G-d, may she continue to do so.

I was speaking with her yesterday evening, and she mentioned how much better she felt without her gallbladder, and how she realized now that she’d been feeling lousy for a little while, but just hadn’t realized it.  She had just gotten used to it.  And I had a flash of insight: Continue reading

My Kids Love These New Books From Artscroll

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It seems that for most of my life I’ve had my head in a book.  So it pleases me endlessly that my kids love to read.  My daughter, who’s two now, has recently come into her book-loving stage.  She will bring me a book, usually when I’ve finally found a minute to sit and have a cup of coffee or a quick lunch, and announce: “WEAD IT ME! WEAD BOOKY ME!”  When I attempt to tell her, “Sure, right after Mommy finishes her coffee” she will reply “WANT WAPPY (that’s “lap” in two-year-oldese)”.  WANT WAPPY READ IT ME!”  And then she jabs me with a corner of the book and tries to climb onto my lap until I give in, or more accurately, give up on being able to drink my coffee with any shred of enjoyment.

My boys are a little more understanding when I tell them that I will read them a book after I finish up whatever I’m doing.  Thankfully.  And if I start reading to one boy, usually the other one will sidle up and listen to whatever book we’re enjoying.  It’s really nice.

Anyways, a few months ago, I received two books to review from Artscroll:  Look What My Parents Give Me! and Imagine if….  Even though they’re now “old news” in our house, what with having been in the rotation for a few months already, my children will still bring them to me to read, and their eyes still light up at the parts they most enjoy.  They really enjoy them.  We just read them tonight during our bedtime routine.

Here are my general thoughts on the books:

Continue reading

What to Read, Watch or Listen to on Tisha B’Av

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There was a time when I would mark the beginning of the Three Weeks by going to the library and checking out an armful of Holocaust books.  By the time Tisha B’Av came around, I would be appropriately sobered by my reading.  That was back when I was single, and had little demands on my time or organizational skills save for focusing on the Jewish calendar.

One mildly concerning thing I’ve noticed since becoming a mother is that many holidays come up upon with with a degree of surprise.  Well, the spiritual aspects come upon me with surprise.  I’ve gotten fairly efficient at taking care of the physical stuff – making sure I have enough food, planned a menu, have enough clean clothes, and I’ve even gotten to the point where I’ve gotten my sheitel to the macher in time.

However, planning for the spiritual part of a holiday, arguably the most important part, and certainly the only part I focused on back in my single days, always seems to get me.  And then, despite all the work I’ve done for the holiday, I used to end up feeling disconnected or worse, frustrated at myself, or even worse, apathetic about the lack of connection.

Now, having been doing this religious thing for about ten years, it’s not surprising that it takes a little more effort to connect.  Throw in the multitude of mundane yet crucial tasks needed to make a holiday happen and it’s even less surprising.  So I don’t really beat myself up anymore, and I don’t wish things were different, that my life was more like how it was when I was an idealistic seminary girl.

those were the days, kind of

those were the days, kind of

Nah.  My life is good.  I just have to put in a little more effort to stay in touch with the reasons behind the traditions that I keep. Continue reading

Why the Current Conflict in Israel is Old News

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For the past few weeks I haven’t spent much time online.  My Facebook feed has basically turned into, to take a turn of phrase from Pop Chassid, Israelbook.  I cannot go on there without being absolutely bombarded with articles, clips, memes, infographics, etc., about the current sad state of affairs.

Of course, I have the luxury of just not opening my computer.  My friends and fellow Jews in Israel do not have the luxury of avoiding bombardment.  From actual bombs.  That is their life right now (and, in some areas, has been their lives for the past eight years.  Wow, so glad we gave up Gaza for peace!  That land for peace thing really worked out well!).

Israelis may not be so interested in what the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times or any of the various media sources have to say about this latest escalation.  They probably just want it to stop, and for all our soldiers to be able to come home.

But therein lies the rub.  What does it mean, to stop?   Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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