Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Am I back to blogging? Where have I been? What have I been up to? A short friendly post about nothing at all, really.

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I’ve been posting more lately, here and at my other blogs.  But the short answer about whether I’m really back is… not officially.

We’re standing right on the cusp of the 2-year anniversary of when I stopped blogging – July of 2015.  That’s when we flew to Canada and life kicked into high gear in so many ways.  (Or, as I usually put it, “all hell broke loose.”)

Essentially, my ongoing attempts to work as a freelancer began taking off the minute we arrived in my mother’s basement in Toronto in July 2015, leading to a flurry of nonstop activity that was good because that, in turn, led to money, but was bad because it took time away from blogging, which I love.

Oh, yeah, and my family.  I may be home a lot, but I’m not with my family as often as I’d like.

And blogging has had to fall by the wayside.  As clearly it has.  I mean, the stats don’t lie.  Here are numbers for each year of each of my blogs:

This blog, Adventures in MamaLand:

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My aliyah blog, Adventures in AliyahLand:

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My kosher food blog, Adventures in BreadLand:

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And finally, my children’s writing blog, Write Kids’ Books:

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So… this year looks like it’s better so far.  I mean, it’s already June and I’ve written 51 blog posts.  Compared to 2016, when I only wrote 39 altogether.

Phew.  Frankly, it all sounds

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Why I teach my kids about modesty (and maybe you should, too)

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What are your standards of modesty when it comes to clothing? Do your kids know what these are?

As a religious Jew, I dress in a certain way. To sum it up briefly: I wear long sleeves, long skirts, and I cover my hair. But don’t assume for a second that it’s been easy, or that it is easy for me on any given day.  It isn’t.

And it hasn’t been easy sharing these ideas with my children – sons and daughters – along the way, either.

The other day, though, a friend shared a post on Facebook by a parent who proudly wrote that she doesn't enforce any modesty standards in her kids. She wrote that "Modesty is too subjective and true modesty is about attitude and our heart."

(The page it was posted on has two owners; I'm going to assume it's the mother, Jessica Martin-Weber, who's writing. Apologies if I’m wrong!)

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I agree with Jessica Martin-Weber’s second claim in part – yes, attitude and intention are important! - but not necessarily with the first.

Where does the idea that modesty is "subjective" come from? Well, as she claims, "The definition of modest dress has and will continue to change through history and across cultures." True enough. But our children don't come from a range of historical time periods, or a range of cultures.

My children live in the here and now, and I believe teaching them standards of modesty is an important part of teaching them about THEMSELVES: not a range of cultures, but their own culture.

First of all, kids have to be aware of what modesty isn't. It's not about shame. It's not about hiding your body because there's something wrong with it, or with bodies in general.

We absolutely have to start from a perspective of positivity and even wonder. Bodies are beautiful because Hashem made them. Every day, we say a bracha over and over praising Hashem for the amazing way our bodies are put together.

That’s where you have to start from. And then you build.

We also have to start with the idea that both girls and boys

Friday, June 02, 2017

Clues to the Infinite: A dvar Torah for the 3rd Yahrzeit of my brother Eli

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It has been three years.  What is there left to speak about for the yahrzeit of a person like my brother Eli?

There is the fact that almost all of us know somebody with a mental illness; that Judaism has always urged compassion, understanding, inclusion, and humane treatment. This is a topic which is most vital to talk about - but I've spoken about all of this before.

And then - there is the idea of turning to something my brother loved. So that we may find common ground not only with one another as fellow-travellers, but with him as well, though he is no longer here, and was a pretty strange character even when he was.

There was nothing my brother loved more than math. I love math, too, but not in the same way. If math is a language - which, of course, it is - then he was a native speaker, while I am very much an outsider who enjoys the music of it tripping off the tongue.

There are so many ways that math intersects with Judaism that actually the topic seems almost purpose-built for a dvar Torah or shiur of some sort – and, in fact, lots of people have written very eloquently about the topic over the years. We are not the first to notice that, in general, many Jews love math kind of the same way my brother loved math. As a subject to belabour over not because we have to, but because we can.

In all our lives, whether we love it or not, math intersects with Judaism at least once a year. When? (not rhetorical q)

At the Pesach seder, we come to an interesting bit in the middle where we stop and “do math.” Ten makkos? Not quite. How about fifty? (Rabbi Yosi ha Glili) How about two hundred? (Rabbi Eliezer) How about two hundred and fifty? (Rabbi Akiva)

Why do we sit and obsess over these numbers?