Sunday, December 02, 2018

Hanukkah and the Holocaust: What stories are we telling our Jewish kids?

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If, as Jewish parents, we care so much about sharing Judaism with our kids, why aren’t we doing it through the books we read them???

Only slightly frustrated by a flood of Chanukah books coming at me from all sides, I decided to go to my friendly local online library (in Toronto) and search for various keywords of Jewish life, just to rank which categories were most important to us, as parents and readers, based on how many kids’ books turned up in each category.

So it turns out we’re telling our kids a whole lot – about Hanukkah and the Holocaust. And not much else.

I want to point out up front that this search was never

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Moments of regret: Small, medium, large

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Maybe regret isn't the right word.  But I’ll use it here anyway.
Because here in this dark, dark, cold time of year, I'm finding myself deluged with it -- three moments of regret, large and small.

Regret, small:

Driving in a hurry to pick up a crying baby from daycare.  Rushing and it's clear out, bright sunny sky, middle of the day, but I try to get through a red light and I don't make it.  Or rather, I make it but the car doesn't.

That one instant -- there's the regret.  The wish that I could turn back the clock, like Superman, just 30 seconds.  Not try to make the light.  Wait there patiently, even though the baby has a fever; even though she's crying; even though she probably has some kind of horrible infection.

I am constantly scrambling with that baby.  I missed her jaundice, failed to notice because we were locked up together in a cold winter bedroom that she was turning colour, turning yellow like a bog man, until her grandmother came over and said, "That baby is yellow."  It's been a lifetime of scrambling ever since.

But if only, I think.  If only I could turn off the scrambling for just half a minute and sit still.  She'll wait.

She did wait.  It takes a lot longer to get a tow truck than it does to

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Introducing… the parsha book you never knew you needed: The Rhyming Torah

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You know how we're supposed to be modest and not go shouting our accomplishments from the rooftops?

Well, sometimes, I'm a little too modest.  And then I need a talking-to from my miniature Social Media Coordinator, aka Naomi Rivka, age 13.

Sitting around the Shabbos table, I mentioned that I'd finally finished my book of parsha poems, The Rhyming Torah.  And she asked the obvious question:  “So are you going to let people know?”

As a busy little social media bug, she knows all about the ins and outs making your way to fame and fortune on the busy, busy internet of today.  And as my kid, obviously she wants me to succeed.  But I had to be honest.

“I don’t know…” I said.  “I hadn’t really thought about it.”

“Well, you at least have to tell your blog,” she announced.

So that’s where this post comes in.

I don’t usually do launches for my books, self-published or otherwise, but I probably should.  I’ve had a few just in the past year, and I believe each and every one of them is great.  Not enough people know about them, but it’s almost literally painful for me to toot my own horn, so I generally don’t.

In fairness, I wrote most of the poems while we were in Toronto (most are still available in their early unedited form here), then shelved them here on this site because I didn't think they were worth publishing.  But then a couple of years ago, I started thinking, "Why not...?"

You know how you get that little itch and then eventually

Monday, November 05, 2018

Carless whispers: Leaving the family car, and the Mom on Wheels, behind

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It's been five years since we gave up the family car.
Sometimes I don't think about that huge change, because it came at a time of so many other huge changes in our lives.  But I realized today it was worth stopping for a moment and reflect back on what that's meant and how we are with it.

For about 15 years, I was a Mom on Wheels.  I had the big family car and drove it almost everywhere.  And it was a huge part of my identity even if I didn't like to admit it.

I didn't start out that way... although to be honest, who does?
And incongruously enough, I always thought of myself as more of a public transportation person.  I guess that's cognitive dissonance for you.  I took public transportation everywhere -- except when I drove the car, which much of the time was ALWAYS.

And the shameful truth is, I quickly came to love being behind the wheel.  How could you not?  You're in charge.  You set the schedule -- although traffic sometimes has something to say about it, too.

Having a car beats taking a bus in so many ways when you have kids:

  • Your kid can be hungry / tired / screaming / soaking / naked / vomiting, and you just whomp them into the car and nobody has to know (why, yes, I have experienced all of these!)

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Why I keep 2 days of Rosh Hashanah, even in Israel (a dvar Torah)

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One of the main differences between Rosh Hashanah and other Yamim Tovim is that we keep 2 days, even in eretz Yisrael. And I think many of us realize this is connected to another difference between Rosh Hashanah and other Yamim Tovim, which is the problem with the bracha shehechiyanu on the second day.

On the second day of most chagim, when we lived outside of Israel, we made the bracha shehechiyanu at night on the second day without a problem, because each day is considered a separate Yom Tov.

But on Rosh Hashanah, we’re told to wear a new piece of clothing or have in mind a new kind of fruit when we make the bracha (though you should still do it even if you don’t have something new). The reason for this is that Rosh Hashanah is considered

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A little one, a wallet

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Spotted this lying on the table last night. Recognize it?

Right—it’s a wallet. Specifically, it’s a kid’s wallet, my kid’s. My baby’s wallet, property of my 10-year-old baby boy. Which is hilarious, if you think about it.

When YM was just a newborn, he had some little prescription we needed to fill, and my husband couldn’t stop staring at the piece of paper with his name on it.

“He has his own prescription,” my husband said, in awe and wonder.

Two weeks before, he hadn’t existed, hadn’t even been a “he,” as far as we were concerned. And now he had his own documents, a health card, a doctor, an identity. He was a person.

But of course, for the first little while, it’s just a joke. You joke about his brand-new ID, or the well-meaning friend who made out a baby-gift cheque in the baby’s name, or some letter he gets in the mail from the government.

Later, you laugh about his library card, his swimming lesson registration, , his college savings account, his nursery “school.” Because none of it’s real. Everybody goes along with your little joke: pretending this tiny, squirmy, drooling blob-thing is a person.

People even bought him pants, and I was like, “He’s going to wear pants?”

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We all do this, don’t we?

Your baby gets a gift of money for Baby’s First Chanukah and you’re like