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Showing posts from February, 2015

The Jewish Defense League – why they don’t speak for me (or you?).

I just got flamed on Facebook – now that’s something that doesn’t happen often. (My life’s pretty boring, I guess.) But when I saw this story in a Facebook group, about the Jewish Defense League setting up shop in Montreal, I mentioned that I found their tactics "disgusting." Oops. (photo credit:  JDL Canada website) Apparently, it was the wrong thing to say. Apparently, for criticizing those who hate the haters, I become hated myself. Moi? I was attacked on all sides by my fellow Jews who offered such threats as: "Wait until one of the savages comes after your kids and delivers their heads on platters to your front door," "[you are] the poor little Jew who skips into the cattle car excited to get to the spacious work camps," and "[you] to Nazi officer: "Sir, which cattle car door should I use?'", "[you] portrait of a Jewish lemming." These comments tell me everything I need to know about the JDL, its suppo

Daddy and the Zhlub: Should baalei teshuvah be ashamed of their families?

I used to resent my parents for not being religious. (Mommy, if you're reading this, keep going - there's a happy ending.) It was a baal teshuvah thing.  One of those not-nice things they don't tell you about in the rosey-coloured-glasses books about being a baal teshuvah.  Do we all (all of us crazy BT’s) resent our parents because they're not frum?  At the time, I thought it was resentment, but now, I think it was more like shame. Are we, as BT’s, ashamed that our parents didn’t give us the advantages of a day school education?  That they didn’t teach us to keep milk and meat dishes separate?  That they sent us to inadequate Hebrew schools that taught us only to resent our Jewish identity and the loss of a sleep-in on Sunday? I’ll admit it:  I was. (If you weren’t, then you’re a better BT than me!) I did my best to make up for lost time, in part by pretending my parents didn’t exist.  And I think I wasn’t the only one.  I think that the frum world encouraged u

Sydney Taylor Award 2015 BLOG TOUR: Goldie Takes a Stand, with Barbara Krasner and Kelsey Garrity-Riley

Welcome to the SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARD 2015 BLOG TOUR , hosted by the Association of Jewish Libraries , in which authors and illustrators of new books share their stories with the world.  The book tour is going on all this week, with tons of great new Jewish kids’ books to discover.  Dig up all the details, including a schedule of events, over here . So what’s this all about Goldie? If you know anything about Golda Meir, you’ll know that she was one tough cookie, even before she became Israel’s fourth Prime Minister, and the first woman (and to date, the only woman) to serve in the role.  But you may not know much more than that. I was surprised when I first heard a recording of her speaking perfect English; I’d assumed that she was either born Israeli (rare in those days) or obscurely European.  I had no idea that, although born in 1898 in Kiev (today, in Ukraine, but then part of the Russian Empire), Meir grew up in the heartland of the U.S., in Milwaukee.  Now, English-speaki

Refuah Sheleimah? What we can daven for when someone is dying.

Many years ago, my coworker’s mother was very, very sick.  She was in a coma.  I asked him his mother’s Hebrew name.  And here’s the thing that stopped me in my tracks. This guy wasn’t religious.  At all.  He knew very little about Judaism and I only knew because it came up in conversation once.  Still, he hesitated.   He said, “She’s really very sick.  I don’t know if it would be a good thing for her to live any longer.”  On some level, even if he didn’t know exactly how, he must have believed that our prayers actually work.  So do I.  But what are we talking about when we talk about prayers “working”?  About Hashem “answering” them?  And what are we asking for, to begin with? In that situation, I explained that we’re not just asking for the person to live longer.  But this is something a lot of people don’t understand – even those of us who are doing the davening ourselves. Sure, we all have that impulse, when we find out someone’s sick, to say something automatic like “refuah

BLOG TOUR / Review: Tucson Jo, by Carol Matas – Wild West, Jewish style.

You know that saying about how history is written by the victors? That usually doesn't include us Jews. You've heard of Wyatt Earp, right?  But probably not of Charles Strauss, the Jewish mayor of Tucson who was among the law-abiding citizens whom Earp and his brothers tried to terrorize in 1882. And you've probably never heard of Strauss's daughter Josephine, "Tucson Jo," either.  That's okay, though.  Because she's a fictional character in a recreated Tucson of 1882 written by Canadian children's writer Carol Matas. I'm proud to introduce you to Tucson Jo , the book (it’s pronounced TOO-son, like the city), as part of the book's blog tour.  The tour is going on all week long at various undisclosed locations around the internet. Although Tucson Jo is fictitious, Matas - who's written 45 books for kids and young adults - has researched her story meticulously and woven Jo's life around actual historical events of the perio