Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The worst

The STINK of laundry, forgotten in the washer too long (over 24 hours) and gone to mildew.  Not in itself too bad, and if I had caught it, that would have been the end of the story. 

I wasn’t the one to catch it, though, and it was all helpfully tossed in the dryer.  Now it is not just STINK, but cooked STINK. 

Sigh… to rewash in the morning.

Now I am finished the laundry (whatever didn’t rot in the machine, that is), but afraid to walk around the house putting everything away because of the scritch, scritch chewing noises from the kitchen.

Now I am tired, and everything aches.  It will not feel much better in the morning.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One more shlep back to shleppington, aka Yom Tov Menu

At long last…

Yup, one more go-round, at a time when I feel less like eating than ever before.  I am dying for more of that nice, fresh cantaloupe my Aunt Dorothy brought last week.  (hint:  Sara, if you’re coming on Thursday, maybe try to score us a nice melon from the market!)

Sukkos (Last Days) Meal Plan 5771/2010









M, Sara – dairy

(no meat, no dairy)

  • Roasted garlic potato bread
  • Pea soup
  • Main?  Pareve mushroom crepes???
  • Green Beans Salad


Just us – dairy


  • Challah
  • Honey/mustard salmon
  • Pickled salmon from
  • Homemade pza bourekas
  • Salad(s)??? Pasta salad?

Out@ C family!!!


Mommy. Abigail (&Mommy?), S - meat

  • Roasted garlic potato bread
  • Jar fish
  • Squash carrot soup w/kneids
  • Shake n’ Bake chicken
  • Corn fritters

SIMCHAS TORAH K– dairy (late meal)

No nightshades

  • Challah
  • Pea soup again w/kneids
  • Baked mac n’cheese
  • Gr brs / broc & cherry toms stirfry

Just us – meat?

  • Challah
  • Jar fish
  • Mballs
  • Mashpo
  • Corn
  • Apple Kugel


  • Mandelbroit
  • S’mores tart
  • DAIRY or PAREVE?  These were going to be dairy, but then I remembered the cheesecake… Caramel Graham Cracker Crunch (aka Marcy Goldman’s Matzah Crunch with Graham Crackers)
  • Honey Cake (already in freezer)
  • Maybe one more…?  Oh!  Pumpkin cheesecake in freezer?

Parsha Poem: Bereishis / Bereishit / בְּרֵאשִׁית

בראשית / Bereishit / Bereishis / Genesis 1:1-6:8

image  Our mother brought us presents,

Back from the presents store.

She said, “Don’t look, don’t touch…

You know what they’re for.”

We knew our birthdays were coming,

We hoped we’d see them then;

But still, we wanted them right NOW,

“Just to see if it’s a pen.”

The presents were stored way up high,

Teetering up on the shelf.

“Don’t touch them or you will get hurt,” she said.

But I did it all by myself.

And look, we did it safely!

Neither of us was in pain.

I pulled down one of the presents,

And climbed on the chair once again.

This time I wasn’t afraid at all,

I knew I wouldn’t fall down.

We knew that our mother was wrong about that

And now she had gone out downtown.

The second present tumbled down,

With a boom and a crash from above.

Wrapped in little hearts paper,

This gift from our mother with love.

“Let’s look at this one first,” you said,

So I climbed down to take a look;

To peek at the very first present,

“Just to see if it’s a book.”

We opened the very first present;

“What is it?” you said to me.

But I didn’t know and I told you so;

I had no clue what it could be.

It had buttons and bells and paper,

It had batteries and an alarm.

We pulled them all out and stacked them,

But we just couldn’t see its charm.

“What a terrible gift!” I said,

And that’s when we heard going past

The footsteps outside in the hallway

Our mother was back home at last!

We rushed to hide the torn paper,

We rushed to cover the gift,

But there was no way to hide it

With our actions, all clumsy and swift.

The door creaked and then she was there,

Our mother so angry and grim;

We both pointed to each other

And said, “it was all done by HIM.”

image“I know you both did it,” she said,

“And I see that you’ve broken the toy.”

“It cannot be fixed,” she told us,

“And it would have brought you much joy.”

She sent us out and scolded us,

As we cried for the present that broke.

“Now you won’t get the other one either,”

She told us, and none of us spoke.

image“Your birthday’s coming,” our mother said,

“But you’re going to have to wait.”

We’d lost our chance at the gifts we had

Now we would not celebrate.

“You’ll have your party soon,” she said,

“And I still have a gift that’s quite nice.

But you’ll have to be good and work for it,

Because you ignored my advice.”

In Bereishis, Hashem gave a gift,

A life in Gan Eden so fine.

Adam and Chava were told not to taste,

But they both said, “that fruit should be MINE.”

So Hashem sent them out,

From Gan Eden, so sad;

He said they must work at a regular life

To accept all the good and the bad.

But He still has a gift waiting for us,

A life that is wondrous and sweet.

All of the things we can dream of,

And all that we want there to eat.

The time when we get it seems very far off

And it feels very hard just to wait.

But Hashem keeps his promises; that’s how we know

That He’ll bring us all to that date.

imageAdam and Chava made a mistake,

So He took their present away;

But like a parent, Hashem really knows

That he’ll give it back – someday.


Big shout-out:  All illustrations by Elisheva!

Parsha Poem: V’Zos Habracha / V’Zot Habracha / וְזֹאת הַבְּרָכָה

דברים / devarim / Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12


Torah tziva lanu Moshe – Moshe taught us, so let’s all draw near.
Morasha kehilas Yaakov – Yaakov’s great-grandchildren dear,
Our mothers were Rebecca, Rachel, Leah and Sarah;
Their actions endure, through every era.

Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov led first,
Through times that were good and times like the worst.
Through oppression and idols, through struggle and sorrow,
They pointed the way to our Jewish tomorrow.

Then Yosef in Mitzrayim, the years of slavery
‘Til Moshe and Aharon and their bravery.
Torah tziva – commanded from above
Lanu Moshe – to us, from Moshe, with love.

Morasha – to inherit, but only if we’ll live it,
Kehillas Yaakov – one family when Hashem chose to give it.
With those lessons, with those words, it was time to say farewell,
Moshe had long been our leader and done his job well.

But now we wept and said goodbye; he went off all alone,
We never saw just where he went; no-one has ever known.
Hashem did it for a reason, for he hoped we would be free,
And not stay there near his grave to praise Moshe eternally.

imageWe had a bigger mission and a purpose in this world,
So Yehoshua stepped up, with his battle-plan unfurled.
He wasn’t as great as Moshe; he took a humble lead,
But Hashem knew Yehoshua was exactly what we’d need.

Torah tziva lanu Moshe – it was only for the Jews
Hashem’s special Torah, the very best kind of news.
Morasha – to inherit, to live and conquer our land,
Kehillas Yaakov – united, together…forever we standimage

New Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival


Yay!  Got a mention in this edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.  Lots of other great links there as well, and it’s hosted at the Holistic Homeschooler, a blog I actually read regularly.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kinda Sukkos-Related Edible “Yummy Dough” Craft

imageInspired by Mommzy’s Lulav and Etrog Cookies Craft, I decided to make mini edible lulav-and-esrog sets using some stuff I happened to have here called “Yummy Dough.”

Ted recently bought a package of 3 boxes of this stuff at Costco.  He says he paid around $12, probably meaning $15 but he doesn’t want me to know.  So about $5 a box.  Ish.  Each of the 3 boxes contains:

  • 4 packets of Yummy Dough mix (blue, red, yellow, green)
  • 20ml syringe
  • dough “cutter” a la playdoh
  • instructions

The ingredients list seemed fairly innocuous – mostly flour and icing sugar.

Step by step:

1)  Pour out one packet of mix into a large bowl.  (hey, it’s white!)

dough 001

2) Add exactly 20ml of water – yay, they provide a cool syringe to make sure you do it right!  See how the colour emerges right away?

 dough 003 

3) Stir until crumbly.  Mixture will feel WAY too dry, but do NOT add more water!

dough 005

4) Gather and knead until it forms a smooth ball.  Yes, it WILL happen!

  dough 007 

5) Repeat for the other three colours.  Because the mixture forms a nice clean ball that absorbs all the powder, I didn’t even need to rinse the bowl in between!  Store in an airtight container, because the dough dries out pretty quickly.

dough 009

Now… the FUN PART!

6) Roll out, knead, and shape into whatever the heck you want.

dough 010So as I said, my initial goal here, naturally, was to make a lulav and esrog set… so I did.  Lovely!

And just as naturally, my kids didn’t agree.

So YM made a hat, Naomi made a blonde princess, a heart with a green arrow through it (one of the demonstration projects shown on the side of the box), and a yellow ant. 

(Ants will be our first Living Learning Science unit, but most of the books are here from the library already.  She gave her ant 2 legs and 2 antennae, but she definitely has the head-thorax-abdomen combo down nicely already!)

dough 011

Eventually, I went secular too:  GZ asked me to make it for him (he has less than zero interest in anything crafty).

 dough 014

The dough was easy to work with and surprisingly non-sticky.  Mostly, it felt like regular PlayDoh, and a quick skim of the product’s website revealed a section addressing “confusion” – ie, where your toddler decides that regular PlayDoh IS edible and starts to actually eat it because of the similarity.  Mostly, I would hope they’d notice quickly enough that it doesn’t taste great.

The Yummy Dough tastes okay, even unbaked.  Not overwhelmingly sweet, but pleasant, not artificial.  There don’t seem to be different flavours associated with each of the different colours – it all mostly tasted the same.


7) Bake 15-20 minutes (more for thicker shapes) at 275°.

8) Cool (they’ll harden a bit as they cool), eat, enjoy!

The dough mix is not only kosher but PAREVE… so we ate them for dessert.  Well, except Naomi Rivka, who hadn’t eaten her supper.   She will have hers for breakfast.

I couldn’t really tell the difference, taste-wise, between unbaked and baked Yummy Dough.  The baked items were crunchier, and I guess there’s a novelty in waving your sculpture around a bit before eating it.  But really, I could see nibbling at it either way, baked or unbaked…

dough 018 dough 020

“It’s a TURTLE!”

Frugality perspective:  So, was it worth $5 a box?  I think so.  And we bought it with a gift card anyway, so it pretty much cost us nothing, not even gas, because Ted was at Costco anyway.  Plus, it’s kosher!  And a novelty!

Homeschool perspective:  This stuff could be a valuable addition to a homeschool curriculum – a fun way to build models and/or reinforce something in a physical way.  You could probably use it for any subject… roll and bake shapes for geometry, build insects, butterflies or whatever for science.  Create yummy alphabet letters, even maps… well, maybe not.  The taste is neutral enough that  most kids and big people will like it, but it’s probably best to “make it a treat” (a la Sarah Silverman) and not use it with every single science unit, alphabet letter, etc.  :-)

Dear Mr. {Jewish prospective City Councillor}


Dear Mr. {Jewish prospective City Councillor}:

I just got a phone call from your campaign letting us know about your sukkah party and how much you have done for the Jewish community during your time as School Board Trustee. 

It's too bad we don't live in your ward (we're south of Eglinton:  Ward 21 St Paul's, where we're voting again for Joe Mihevc)... if only because now I won't be able to inform you that your random solicitation phone call has LOST you our vote.  I never vote for any candidate who disturbs us with automated phone calls, and I hope there are others in your own ward who have a similar policy.

Regardless of the religious connections we may share, it is in extremely poor taste to use the lists of shuls and other organizations within the Jewish community for the benefit of your own personal political campaign.  I welcome certain automated calls when they are of community-wide interest, but in this case, simply find it rude in the extreme.

Please remove us from your list, and I urge you to reconsider your policy of using these community lists for your own benefit.

Sukkos crafts: gourd & apple decorating

Our annual chol hamoed funfest!  I always wonder if something counts a s a “craft” if all you’re doing is going at whatever-it-is with a sharpie.  Like the challah covers two weeks ago.  Sharpie crafts are NOT really crafts.  But they are easy, fast and fun…so there.

(plus, they are great for the SHORT attention span of the busy busy teenage set)

If you try this, do take a few minutes ahead of time and use Liquid Paper / Wite-Out to define the eyes and/or mouth.  It makes a big difference – the marker colours totally “pop” against pure white in a way they don’t right on the gourd itself.

Ted’s – the best, of course:

gourds 002

Elisheva’s glittery pink gourd:

gourds 009

A couple of mine (I get all the ones nobody else wants):

gourds 001  gourds 003 

Naomi’s little pumpkin (foreground):

gourds 004

For a change of pace, I also carved an apple head.  I just have to be patient and wait 2 weeks while it either dries or attracts an infestation of fruit flies.  Given our history here, it will probably be the latter, but I soaked it in a lemon juice and salt mixture, and so far, the flies don’t seem interested.

   gourds 007

Menu Plan Monday #31: 19 Tishrei, 5771 (Sukkos)

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!

Other “weekly memes” I participate in that may or may not interest you:

We are a Jewish family of 6 (2 parents, 4 kids) and all our meals are kosher.

Newcomers, you can read my MPM intro here which tells you all about who we are and what we eat, or just visit my super-duper-list-tastic itemization of Everything We Eat.

Ugh.  Flat tire so we can’t do any chol hamoed outings and I am SO burnt-out from cooking over Yom Tov.

Sunday:  Takeout Chinese in Mommy’s sukkah (rebuilt thanks to Ted!)

Monday:  Chicken on the BBQ

Tuesday:  Chili w/cornbread (vegetarian, no vegan meals this week!)

Wednesday – Thursday – Friday:  Sukkos – see Yom Tov food plan!

Sunday:  YM’s birthday – sloppy joes?

Chol Hamoed Fun Fun Fun!

In which your trusty blogger learns one of those exciting Life Lessons:  How to Change a Spare Tire.

cartire 002

cartire 004

Every moment is a homeschool moment, right???

Ted wanted to call a tow truck.  He said it would “only” be $50.  #1, no WAY is it only $50 to come and tow the car to the dealership out on St Clair.  And #2, we’re going to be paying enough to replace the TWO TIRES that got busted yesterday (coincidence, or sabotage???)… why not take advantage of the FREE spare?

There are so many things around the house that he’s not afraid to tackle that terrify me – like plumbing.  But I’m not afraid of a little car tire…

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Great Alef-Beit / אלף-בית learning site!

image I came across this page/game/site tonight and I am incredibly impressed so far.

And believe me, I am tough to impress.  Most Israeli kids’ sites have some kind of weirdness, but this one is just mostly kind of cute.  It’s tough to find, however, from the main page, and I fear the site may go under at any time… it has an unstable kind of feel.  Like, the buttons at the top of this alef-beit page take you  out to a totally blank home page.

imageStill, what a lot of fun I imagine this set of online alef-beit/reading lessons could be for someone around Naomi’s age… and you earn these neat prizes when you finish a few easy exercises for each letter.

There are apparently corresponding printable worksheets, but I can’t find them on the “Hop” site.  They are available here (scroll down) but only for alef-through yud.  I checked everywhere I could on the Hop site to find out if they are there somewhere, but given my language barriers, I could have missed it.

I emailed the site to try to find out more about these missing worksheets, which would really help complete this fun curriculum.

My email is utterly pathetic, but I’m getting better.  And my typing speed, and ability to find the tricky “sofit” letters, is getting better… if not all that quickly, it is improving.

Here’s my email:

שלום מטורונטו קנדה!  אני אוהבת כל כך הרבה המשחק אלף-בית על אתר שלכם ואני רוצה ללמד עם ילדים שלי לדבר עברית לפני שאנחנו עושים עליה לארץ ישראל ב-2013.  אבל אני לא יכולה למצא את הדפי "דפי  עבודה אותיות להדפסה הופ!" שאני אוהבת הטוב ביותר ללמד כתיבה.  איפה אני יכולה למצא אותם באתר שלכם?
עוד הדפים כמו אלה:

Here’s what Google Translate tells me I wrote:

Hello from Toronto Canada! I love the game so many thousand - a home [mistranslation of ”alef-beit”] on your site and I want to teach my children to speak Hebrew before we make it to Israel in 2013. But I can not find the pages for printing letters and work sheets hop! " I love best to teach writing. Where can I find them on your site?
More pages like these:

So we shall see… and in the meantime, I’m looking forward to trying the site out on Naomi, as a Hebrew counterpoint, kind of, to Starfall’s excellent online curriculum.

Six Word Saturday: 18 Tishrei, 5771 (Sukkos)

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!

Other “weekly memes” I participate in that may or may not interest you:

Aaaaagh! I’m not gonna take it anymore!!!

(yup, that’s 6 words… cuz “aaaaaagh” is a noise – not a word)

I’m sitting here, doing nothing, when there are THREE sinkfuls of dishes waiting to be done. And we only have one sink, so that’s quite an accomplishment.

I’m okay with that – or, as my mother has been saying incessantly since before yom tov, “it’s all good.” (Sounds like she got into somebody’s ganja when she says it… she’s not usually the “mellow” type.)

For the first time EVER, I think, we had three days of Yom Tov, and guests at EVERY SINGLE MEAL. Even the guest who called to cancel on Tuesday (“You’re going to kill me.”) showed up unexpectedly today (“Okay, yes, you’re right – let me kill you NOW.”)

Every single meal was delightful, if I say so myself, and for the first time, I think we hit the perfect balance of meat vs dairy (meat the first night, followed by three dairy meals, followed by two meat meals on Shabbos).

We were slightly out of food by the time today’s meal rolled around, so I was heavily relying on a) a large pot of turkey/chicken cholent and kishke, and b) the fact that nobody is genuinely hungry by the SIXTH yom tov meal in a row.

The only big drag was the DISHES.

Eat, wash… eat, wash… eat, wash… over and over and OVER. I dunno. Many people I know use paper and plastic stuff. Or have a babysitter / nanny / cleaning lady? Or… not invite people for every single meal? But what an opportunity! Our house is so small, we can usually only have people over one at a time, or a couple at a time. TWO couples? What a treat!

(am I the only person in the WORLD who dreams of making aliyah because there’s a chance I may get to live somewhere BIGGER than my current home…???)

We have been so lucky with the weather: we had three beautiful sukkah nights in a row – that never happens here. But at lunch today, our luck ran out. Following two days of wind and a big-kid temper tantrum that involved door-slamming and walls shuddering, the schach beams started falling in earnest (a couple had dropped so far, and I made the girls sleep under the table last night, just in case). When it began to rain on top of that, I made everybody relocate inside.

Happy that I did, since a beam later fell right in the middle of the table.

All in all, much eating and rejoicing, many helpful deeds done by willing children (also many helpful deeds done by kvetching, screaming, crying, children).

But I’m not looking at the dishes until at LEAST tomorrow morning. Right now I am rewarding myself – guiltily, because Ted is still at work – with a few hours of mindless internet time.

Mmm… deep-fried butter, anyone???

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When Christians celebrate “Biblical Feasts”: Take 2

Other posts you may or may not want to read:

imageI have been incredibly naive.  Because I thought there were a FEW of these sites; a few fringey Christians scattered here and there who were selfishly appropriating Jewish symbols, language.

It turns out there are thousands of “Torah Observant Believers in Yeshua,” as they like to call themselves.  And many – perhaps because they don’t fit within mainstream Christian schools – are homeschoolers.

image First reaction?  I feel so sad for their kids.  I won’t post links here, but one site has a video of two little girls who have obvious spent weeks memorizing Psalm 23 (Mizmor l’David).  They look so proud of themselves, but their pronunciations are so non-standard as to be unrecognizable by a Hebrew speaker, and, like all of these folks, they insist on pronouncing any Godly names they come across in somewhat bizarre ways.

(photo shows a menorah found on another blog - made by a child in the earnest belief that Jesus would admire and expect him to observe this holiday)

These kids have no spiritual home – no place within Christianity (which mostly holds that Torah observance was superceded by Jesus’ atonement) or within Judaism (which holds that as believers in Jesus, whatever they call him, they are Christian).

Many of these blogs (a quick Google search will help you find them if you must) have been super-active lately because of the yamim tovim, which, I suspect, is one reason people take on “Hebrew Christianity” to begin with. 

Stripped of its saints’ days and minor feasts, the mainstream Christian calendar is a drab one indeed.  Just as stripped of its majestic Latin mass, its Greek roots, pared down to its Protestant essentials, Christian worship often simply fails to stir the soul.

At the same time, I recently met somebody online who is a struggling Bas Noach – she’s looking for community, looking for homeschool resources, looking for directions.

What’s a ben/bas/bnei Noach?  A person who honours the Seven Noachide Laws.  Google it for more information, but basically, it’s Torah belief and observance – for non-Jews.  There are seven simple laws all non-Jews are supposed to follow, and Noachides are mostly ex-Christians who have become dissatisfied with Christianity and seek something simpler and more true.

And it IS simpler, and more true.  But I feel sorry for their kids, too.  Bnei Noach are probably fewer and farther between than Hebrew Christians.  This woman basically wanted to find books that explain Torah from a Jewish perspective without saying anything outrightly Jewish, because they’re not Jewish. 

imageFrankly, that’s tough to find.  Liberal books and other resources are short on Torah, and the more frum you get, the more you get the feeling from books, CDs etc., that you’re being drawn into an exclusive club.

Jews do believe – unlike many major religions – that you don’t have to be Jewish to get into heaven.  Perversely, we kind of believe it’s EASIER for non-Jews to get into heaven. 

But failing a huge increase in the numbers of Torah-believing bnei Noach, it seems also to be a lonelier route to heaven, as your family quizzes you about why you no longer believe in Jesus at the same time as suspicious Jews wonder what you’re going to do with their Torah teachings.


Hebrew Christians don’t seem all that lonely, to be honest.  Perhaps because there are plenty of them, or perhaps they also participate in Christian churches.  To me, they also seem more than a bit smug.

Perhaps other Christians around them believe they are MORE Christian because of their bizarre Jewish terminology and rituals.  Like speaking in tongues, only it’s the HOLY tongue!

They know Jesus’s Hebrew name!  They garble God’s name in Hebrew instead of English!  They build sukkahs – far out, man – and blow a shofar*, and do apple crafts in September instead of – oh, yeah… even mainstream schools do apple crafts in September.  They must be the super-holy people of God’s holy people, right?

image Do they feel like they’re getting closer to Jesus by speaking his language?  Though how Chanukah comes into it, I’m not sure.  In fact, many of their Jewish customs post-date Jesus by centuries.  Modeled on a Rabbinic Judaism that didn’t exist in his day, much of the modern Jewish prayer service would thoroughly confuse him if he were to come back to life today.

Ha ha ha ha ha.  Not that he’s going to, but they sure do seem confident that their careful mitzvah observance (which he himself may have actually condemned) will help bring him back.

I’m trying to be respectful here, but on a few final points, I must state loudly and clearly, just in case any Christians (yup, you, too, believers in Yeshuah!) happen to be reading this:

  • Learn more about Jews and Judaism; I guarantee you don’t know enough.
  • Yup, even if you were born Jewish.
  • Find out why we don’t believe Jesus is the fulfillment of anything, even if you eventually disagree.
  • Find out how we pronounce God’s names, and why.
  • Learn about the seven “bnei Noach” commandments that you CAN follow and how important they are to humanity.
  • And PLEASE – only use our words, symbols, images in the ways we mean them.  They are OUR “information property” and we don’t take kindly to theft.

* Shofar:  BOY do they love shofars and shofar imagery, because, of course, it’s totally tied up with the “shofar gadol” messianism, even within mainstream Judaism.  Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile… or something.

I welcome your comments and questions.  Moderation is on to block spam, but I will post all legitimate comments, even if I do not agree with your views.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Every year, gettin’ better…

Ted’s sukkah philosophy is to improve it in increments, a little bit each year.  Three years ago, when GZ was born, we had a smallish 8x8 sukkah.  Since then, he’s added another four feet, making it 8x12, plus a special “schach” beam system that makes it a little more kosher, a door on the front, plus, this year, a FRONT WINDOW.

sukkah 017  sukkah 019

Looking back (not great pictures, though).  Our little Sukkah in…

  • 2009
  • 2008
  • okay, nothing older than 2008.  Perhaps on backup CDs somewhere.

Here’s my parents’ sukkah, circa 2008.  Forced jollity. 

weird 241

And you can see why if it was up to me, I’d go with Lubavitch on the issue of decorations…

weird 235 

I just love the look of a bare sukkah!

Garden Visitor, suspicious hole in pepper leaf…

sukkah 004

Crankier: The Scientific Establishment Bites Back


Well, I must be not at my best, because the Science Centre honchos have not collapsed in a puddle of contrition over their upcoming discriminatory Community-except-the-Jewish-Community Day this Saturday.

Here’s what they wrote back, and my reply:

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 1:03 PM

Subject: Re: Fwd: Community Day this Saturday

Hello Jennifer,

My name is {bleep}. My position at the Science Centre is Director of {bleep}.

First allow me to say thank you for taking the time to send us your question regarding our upcoming Community Day, Saturday September 25, 2010.

By way of background, the OSC's  Community Day, is held annually on the Saturday which occurs closest to the "Birthday" of the Science Centre, in recognition of our opening in 1969. We select Saturday as the day for the event because it is most accessible for General Public and their families, as the next day is not a school day. 

Please feel free to contact me directly at the number below should you have any further questions.

Yours Truly,


It was nice of him to ask permission before telling me his position, wasn’t it?  But still, what he didn’t do was Answer the Question, which annoys me to no end. 

The unspoken but not-too-subtle “question” in my first email:  “I'd like to know whether we can arrange a free or reduced-price visit on another day…I really hope it will be possible to make other arrangements.”

His answer:  “We’ve always done it on a Saturday!  Thanks for letting me tell you my position!”

So here’s MY reply to HIS reply:

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 2:59 PM

Subject: Re: Fwd: Community Day this Saturday

Mr. {bleep}:

Thank you for your quick reply. 

I'm not sure what your criterion is for "most accessible," but the fact remains that it is completely inaccessible to our family because of our religion.

It seems to me that choosing a Saturday to hold the event (I've never heard about previous Community Days - perhaps because nobody would have told me, given that we don't do things like this on Saturdays) was more or less arbitrary.  The Science Centre chose to hold the event on a Saturday, perhaps because it works best for many families, but as I said in my previous message, I really hope we can work out alternate arrangements - perhaps a free or reduced-price pass valid on a particular Sunday or weekday - that would not exclude our family based on our religious beliefs.

Thanks again!


Basically, the first letter didn’t work.  I don’t have high hopes for the second one, either.  I feel like I’m losing my superpowers here, but I suspect what it is is that People Simply Care Less.

It makes my mother crazy because just about every time she shops, she receives less-than-optimal customer service.  (“The cashier was eating her lunch!”)  She keeps thinking the gold standard MUST exist somewhere, but sadly, I fear there is no such bastion of good manners and speedy assistance.

Me, I’m not really looking for common courtesy – just for somebody to acknowledge that I’m being treated differently – in a minor way, badly – because of my religious beliefs.  I must try to Make People Care.

At that point, if my superpowers are intact, everybody’s basic Canadianism kicks in and the Wrong is made Right.

This kvetchy blog post has been brought to you, in the spirit of good graces everywhere, by the ancient and noble British custom of capitalizing Random nouns in the middle of Sentences.

UPDATE:  Email reply #2:

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for getting back to me. I think it's wonderful that you could take advantage of  free OSC admission passes which we offer through the Toronto Public Library's "MAP" program, as part of our commitment to Community Access.

I would be  more than happy to let you know about  other Community Access initiatives which may also be helpful.

I notice that you have provided your telephone number for contact purposes. With your permission,  I would be happy to call and hopefully, help with this, if I can.

{rhymes with Shnob}

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cranky Complaints-Lady Takes on: the Scientific Establishment

image One of my favourite attractions in the city and it’s FREE – this Saturday only.  Urgh.  So:  a kvetch, my first in a long time!  

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Monday, September 20, 2010 8:33 PM

Subject: Community Day this Saturday

imageAs a family of 6, we don't get to visit the Science Centre often enough.  With a price tag of $82 per visit, our single low income makes it almost totally inaccessible (we visited a couple of times with free passes through the Toronto Public Library).

I was excited to hear about your upcoming Community Day.  However, I quickly discovered that, as observant Jews, we will not be able to participate, because the event is being held only on a Saturday.

I'd like to know whether we can arrange a free or reduced-price visit on another day.  I'm sure your intention wasn't to exclude an entire segment of the community simply on religious grounds, and I really hope it will be possible to make other arrangements.

Thanks so much!

Yours truly,


A Poem for Sukkos / Sukkot / סוכות

Note:  this online version is written with Ashkenazi pronunciation because that’s how I say it.  You can download either pronunciation as a printable PDF here:  Ashkenaz or Sefard.

I also have a printable Sukkot/Sukkos copywork sheet available here.

image We didn’t have an esrog, no, we didn’t have an esrog,

With Sukkos drawing near

We had the other minim three,

But no esrog had we here.

imageOur esrog was growing, yes, our esrog was growing,

High up in an esrog-tree

We had to wait for it to turn

As yellow as it could be.

image We had a lulav, yes, we had a lulav,

And hadassim, three, two, one,image

With two aravos, waving proud,

But our esrog simply wasn’t done.

Our esrog was special, yes, our esrog was special,

Grown from esrog seeds

Planted years ago when Sukkos went out,

Watered and cared for its needs.

We built a sukkah, yes, we built a sukkah

Topped in branches green and steady,

We decorated it so fine,

But our esrog was still not ready.

We cooked a meal, yes, we cooked a meal,

For yom tov, delicious and hot.

But we all felt glum because we knew

An esrog we still had not.

Our esrog was hanging, yes, our esrog was hanging,

Among branches stiff and spiny

But we had to wait some more until

Our esrog was yellow and shiny.

It was erev Sukkos, yes, erev Sukkos

When we noticed the blazing-bright gleam

Our esrog was ready for us at last,

So we went out as a team.

clip_image004Our esrog was waiting, yes, our esrog was waiting

As we climbed up carefully.

We plucked that esrog growing high

Way up in our esrog-tree.

imageAnd our esrog was perfect, yes, our esrog was perfect

To hold in just one hand

We turned it over and knew for sure:

Best esrog in the land!

We bundled it up, yes, we bundled it up,

Four minim upon the shelves.

Happy and proud and satisfied

We’d done it all ourselves.

imageBut then we remembered, yes, then we remembered,

We hadn’t quite been alone

Without Hashem to care for it, too,

Our esrog would never have grown.

So we gathered our esrog, yes, we gathered our esrog,

And the other three minim, too.

And said shehecheyanu, to admit to Hashem,

“We wouldn’t be here without you.”

Photos from by Avi Kolko from A Trip to the Pardes here.

Illustrations from the Jewish Magazine here.