It goes without saying that the late Maurice Sendak (z”l) was in possession of a fabulous mind and a singular talent. His classics Where the Wild Things Are and Chicken Soup with Rice emerged wonderfully into the world just a few years before I did, and have always been a cherished part of my reading life. (Read More)
There is perhaps little sense in dwelling on something that won’t happen again until who knows when. And yet, I find myself mulling over the momentous Thanksgiving/Chanukah mash-up long after we’ve polished off the leftovers. (Read More)
It is a wonder, I think, how just being in certain states of the Union has the power to alter my state of mind.
Without fail, a daytrip to New York snaps me out of my sleepy, suburban New Jersey existence; the throbbing pulse of Manhattan (when I say New York State, I really mean just the city) brings my listless bits back to life. Pennsylvania, where we go exploring when we can, gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling about family and memory, as if we’ve taken the greeting card exit off of I-95. (Read More)
You know the story about the man who goes to the rabbi to kvetch that his house is too small? The wise rabbi suggests that the man take in a parade of animals, one by one, until the man’s house is so noisy and crowded that he cannot hear the thoughts in his own head. To drive home his point, the rabbi then has the man remove the chicken and the duck and the goat in turn, until only the home’s original dwellers remain. Suddenly, the man feels like king of the castle in a house that is spacious and quiet, and to paraphrase Goldilocks, just right. (Read More)
This may seem to be a tale of woe, but it is, in fact, a tale of redemption.
For years, my boys have begged me to have another baby. One wanted triplet brothers, so he asked a neighbor traveling to Israel to put his written request between stones in the kotel. Even after finding out exactly how babies arrive in this world, the others repeated their wish for just one sister, as if the process were akin to placing an order for a burger and fries. (Read More)
I’ve just returned from two weeks abroad, where the natural splendors of a Croatian island and the man-made beauty of Florence and Venice flanked a visit with my in-laws. We were gone just long enough to have been able to put out of our minds everything stress-inducing about our actual lives. (Read More)
Setting expectations for ourselves is akin to walking through a minefield. No matter how gingerly we tread, we inevitably misstep, and when we do, we rarely hit a dud that fizzles without doing harm. Standing there in the debris of our disappointment, we conduct a vain search for the enemy, which more often than not proves to be our own desire to do too much too well and too quickly. (Read More)
Well, Sheryl Sandberg, it seemed as if I was leaning in. So far, in fact, that I fell over.
It was the end of a long Tuesday, the one day a week I work in an office, not from my computer at home. My youngest had graduated from elementary school the night before and I was still reeling from the hasty passage of time. I was so irrationally moved by the experience that I cried when the graduating class sang the High School Musical finale. (Read More)
My road to challah baking was in no way a smooth one. It was paved instead with bumps of denial and sloth and riddled with potholes of obtuseness and indecision. Eventually, however, the blind spots cleared and I began to focus on the destination. (Read More)
We are, to be sure, a people who count. We count our blessings and from the
second night of Pesach, we count the omer until we reach Shavuot. Left to my own devices, I inevitably forget the whole endeavor by day three of the forty-nine-day cycle. My youngest son, however, rarely fails to turn the scroll on his omer-tracker. (Read More)
With the exception of fast days and the occasional Shabbes when, Lord help me, I forget to put up the urn, I always begin my mornings with a cup of coffee. It is a total sensory ritual. The aroma. The taste. The large ceramic cup that warms the span of both of my hands. And let’s not disregard what the punch of caffeine does to my poorly-rested brain. (Read More)
I’ve heard it told that friends should never share cleaning help. But my cleaning lady came blessedly into my life on the recommendation of my friend Susan, whose own mother-in-law Anna made the initial shidduch that brought Susan’s house to order. I am forever grateful to both of them. (Read More)
I’ve been robbed.
Oh, it came as no surprise, though I did not exactly court the trouble myself. My son arrived in this world when he did, six weeks early of his own volition, right on the cusp of Pesach. I returned from the hospital following a C-section and immediately set to kashering my kitchen, a fact I look back upon still today with utter fascination. From whence came the strength, I do not know. (Read More)
About a week ago, our older sons made an astute observation. While walking through the yard, they noticed that the vent covering the attic fan had been pried open. This, we knew, could not be good. On the other hand, we were amazed that two individuals constitutionally incapable of noticing dirt could be so observant. (Read More)
It should come as no surprise that someone as compelled by kaparot as I am would also spend a great deal of time dodging the evil eye. But I’ve often wondered about this avoidance aspect of Judaism that requires SWAT-like tactics to maneuver around the sheydim lurking in every corner. (Read More)
Though we are closer to Pesach than we are to the Days of Awe, the idea of kaparah in all its incarnations has been a hot topic for me the past few weeks. I figured I’d first sort through the thoughts swirling around in my head before putting them in writing, hence the longer than usual gap between postings. (Read More)