Sunday, October 20, 2019

Why I don't live in Canada but I still voted there


In the leadup to Canada's federal elections tomorrow*, there's been lots of talk about whether expatriate Canadians should have the right to vote. 

* (yeah, I know, super-awesome that they did it again on a Jewish holiday!)

Last time around, we didn't.  They changed the law to say you could only vote if you'd been gone less than 5 years and intended to return.  We were under 5 years, but couldn't honestly say we planned to return to live in Canada.  So our rights were taken away.

But this year, in response to a legal challenge from a pair of Canadians abroad, the Supreme Court reinstated our rights.  The 5-year condition, they said, made no sense and hadn't been instituted in response to any particular problem, real or perceived. 

Still -- lots of Canadians, including some of my beloved family members, don't think we should be voting.  They're not alone.  I don't have statistics, so I can't say most, but I know many people back there feel that we shouldn't get to vote unless we sleep on Canadian soil a certain number of days each year.  And a few days ago, CBC ran an op-ed by Mark Reynolds, an expat who claims, "I don't live in Canada anymore. I shouldn't have the right to vote in its elections."

As I'll explain below, the Supreme Court disagreed, and I disagreed.  Here are a few reasons why.

1) Being Canadian didn't stop the minute we moved to Israel. 

If anything, we became more Canadian once we were here.  All of a sudden, instead of being "the Jews" in our neighbourhood in Toronto, we were "the Americans" in our neighbourhood in Israel -- and, after we explained to everybody, sometimes more than once, that it's not the same thing, "the Canadians."

It sometimes takes weirdly a long time

Friday, October 04, 2019

Mmm... Crispy! Why air-drying towels rocks


Fabric softener commercials have convinced most of us that the best, maybe even only good way for towels to be is... fluffy.  Just pop them in the dryer with the right product and presto, they're baby soft in minutes.

But why?  Why is fluffy the only or better way?

After years of air-drying laundry, I'm going to be brave enough to step up here in this public forum and say it:  three cheers for crispy towels!

A crispy towel is STRONG.  Sturdy.  Tactile.  Japanese people apparently love the idea of scrubbing off yinky dead skin.  A crispy towel can do that for you.  It can practically

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dear Diversity: Are Jews allowed?

Dear Diversity:

I’m mad at you and I’m mad at me.

I’m mad at you because you’ve slammed the door in my face. On my face: my white, white face. Because Europe was so kind to my people, right? You say privilege like it means something. But believe me, the only gift Europe ever gave us was our lovely pale skin. But for you, diversity, that seems to be enough, because that’s all you see when you look at me.

But wait, there’s more, because somehow, you’ve decided that not only are me and my people

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

The roundness of a zero at the end -- a big birthday looms


I’ve been thinking about zeroes quite a bit lately… mostly because my upcoming birthday has one at the end of it. 

If you think about it, it’s strange, how much fuss we make over birthdays that end in 0.  So arbitrary.  Hashem made us with 10 fingers so we figure the world revolves around that number somehow. 

If my 11-fingered kid ran the world

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Someone she can look up to: Proud, strong, smart, gorgeous religious women we're not afraid to show our daughters

Not long after we moved to Israel, I found Naomi Rivka, who was 8 at the time, playing with her Barbies.  The Barbies were all dressed up, as usual, but there was something new: one the head of one, Naomi Rivka had wound a delicate assemblage of toilet paper and lace, towering high and graceful over the doll's pretty, slender face.

Here in Israel, we were suddenly surrounded by beautiful, graceful, slender young married Sephardi women, for whom a tichel, piled as high as possible, is the de rigeur headware -- and that was exactly how Naomi Rivka wanted her Barbie to look.

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And because 8-year-old girls are reasonably transparent, chances were good that that was how she herself wanted to look someday.  Tall, slim, high cheekbones, okay... those may be genetic factors.  But gloriously crowned in a high, swirling tichel... that's something you learn from your environment.  That's something little girls pick up from looking around and role playing years, and even decades, before they're in a position to dress

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Very Wild Things: a Shavuos Dvar Torah for 5779 / 2019


Just in time for Shavuos, I want to tell you a very serious, very important story about the Jewish people and yetzias Mitzrayim and our history and Matan Torah. I had a little help with some of the writing.

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind

and another

his mother called him “WILD THING!”

and Max said “I’LL EAT YOU UP!”

so he was sent to bed without eating anything.

image11Now, I guess I should mention that the help with the writing came from the author Maurice Sendak, a giant of a writer in the children’s literature world. But this is not unrelated, because as a Jewish child, growing up in the U.S. in the shadow of the Shoah, there were some very real monsters in Maurice Sendak’s world… and some very Jewish ideas.

Like this idea of the WILD THING. In Yiddish, we’d say “vilde chaya.” A wild animal. Max is being wild – but more importantly, he’s being immature, just as Yosef was, we’re told, before he was taken off and sold to Mitzrayim. Okay, Yosef didn’t wear a wolf suit – but you know who did? His father Yaakov. Okay, maybe not a wolf suit. But it does sound more than a little Jewish, if you think about it, putting on this hairy suit, acting more wild than you actually are.

And look what happened to Yosef – I mean, Max:

That very night in Max’s room a forest grew

and grew-

and grew until his ceiling hung with vines

and the walls became the world all around

and an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max

and he sailed off through night and day

and in and out of weeks

and almost over a year

to where the wild things are.

Now, the Torah says it was a passing caravan