Looks like this is “how to” month here on OOTOB, but this is a follow up from my post about intuitive eating, and I think it’s important to address here because a few people have observed the “frum 10” (also known as the “frum 15”) which is the weight you gain when you become Orthodox and start eating Thanksgiving dinner twice a week plus a bar mitzvah or wedding thrown regularly into the mix.
Welcome back, OOTOB readers. With all the holidays over, the kids are back in school and I’m itching to blog regularly again!
Since so many interesting things have piled up over the past month, I decided to do another blog roundup for my first post back.
HAPPY 21ST ANNIVERSARY TO US
Firstly, happy anniversary to me and my wonderful husband (as one favorite commenter here calls him, Mr. Ruchi. We love that). We married 21 years ago October 18th on an absolutely magnificent fall day. I am supremely grateful for him and actually, he’s the support behind this blog and all the things I love to do. For my anniversary gift, I asked him for another year of being a great husband (together: AWW!). Don’t worry. I’m still angling for a trip to Florida too. I’m not THAT holy.
WHY RELIGIOUS JEWS ARE RACIST?
Next up, I found this really interesting piece about how people with Aspergers view the rest of us (nicknamed NTs, for “neurotypicals”). It really got me thinking about Jews who are racist, and especially why more religious Jews might be more racist. Sometimes racism is a response to discrimination, which is a result of being different – especially obviously different, as religious people are. Sometimes it’s a defense mechanism, to be okay with your different-ness. Tell me what you think.
This is something I’ve long thought about. Why are women in America supposed to just bounce back after birth? The way I grew up, and even more so in more Chassidic families, a woman who gives birth is called a “kimpiturin” (that’s Yiddish) for six weeks, and is supposed to pamper herself and lay low and let others take care of her as much as possible. To be honest, I kind of chafed at this after awhile since I had easy births and was raring to go – but in retrospect, it’s a great invention, and a very necessary one. In the non-Orthodox world I see none of this. Women are out shopping and carpooling and getting dressed up so soon after birth (forget about going back to work). Living in Israel, I saw a much greater respect for the post-partum state than here in America. Why is this an Orthodox (and more Chassidic) thing? I have no idea. But there’s a definite difference.
HOW TO USE YOUR SMARTPHONE ON SHABBOS
This is just one big “oy” and falls into the same conceptual category as kosher bacos, kosher-for-Passover Cheerios, and kosher cheeseburgers (fake cheese, fake meat, or both). It’s a Shabbos app so you can use your smartphone on Shabbos. I’m going to artfully dodge the actual halachic issue, and go with the assumption that it’s technically “kosher” according to Jewish law. I have found, over and over again, that non-Orthodox people are usually more sensitive to “kosher loopholes” than the Orthodox. To be sure, there’s a huge outrage among the Orthodox community about this app, since it’s something new and, well, outrageous, and because the technology piece of Shabbos makes Shabbos observance more contemporary than ever. Everyone who’s anyone is recommending a tech-Shabbat. But I’ve found that in the less-obvious areas, especially food issues, non-Orthodox people are more likely to detect the problematic mindset in finding legal loopholes.
One could argue that those who live bound by halacha deserve and should celebrate the areas that they can find loopholes in – “easy for you to say” sort of thing, to the non-Orthodox. Others feel that Judaism is a relationship, an attitude, and that looking for loopholes in relationships does not a good relationship make. I myself adopt both attitudes, depending on the issue. I’m not a fan of the kosher cheeseburger thing, for example. But that’s for me. For others it’s important to eat what they can find permissibly, and it will make it easier for them to keep kosher properly in the long run.
So that’s all for now, folks. See you in the comment section!
Blog Roundup: Female Orthodox Clergy, Israel’s Special Unit, Oprah on Shabbat, and more
Although the Jewish world is still reeling from the murders of the three Israeli boys, there have been lots of other things cooking on the interwebs.
1. Rabbah Sara Hurwitz
Orthodoxy’s first female [fill in word of choice here] came to Cleveland to speak recently, sparking locally a huge wave of controversy that is brewing within the larger Orthodox world. Here’s another response to the issue in general.
As an aside, I find it interesting that while in English, our language is moving more toward gender-neutrality, Hebrew will never be gender-neutral. Therefore, while in English, the word “rabbi” has been broadened to include women, in Hebrew a new, gender-specific noun must be chosen, and what that noun will be is still under debate.
That said, here’s what I posted on Facebook on the subject (granted, in the middle of a conversation):
…another important question that I believe is underlying this entire discussion. It also will clarify why I don’t have a problem with men running the show in established clergy positions. That is: are you willing to accept the status quo in normative Orthodox Judaism, or are you seeking to push the boundaries to where they have not been before? I am not casting aspersion on the second option, but I will say that if your starting point is that women should have as great a role as possible within clergy then no one should be surprised when that endeavor is met with resistance and push back. I accept the status quo and proceed from there. I don’t feel I ever got mixed messages since we didn’t learn Gemara as a subject as I was never taught that men and women do the same things. Am I stupider or happier? Pathetic for not questioning and pushing the status quo, or more fulfilled internally for it? I guess everyone can make their own judgments. I’ll say this. I feel that I am reaching my potential as a Jewish woman leader doing exactly what I’m doing. I find no boundaries or frustrations. That is my experience, for whatever it’s worth.
2. Israel’s Special Ed Unit
Grab some tissues, because you’ll need them for this. Seriously, is there ANY country like Israel???
3. Your Life In Weeks
Not specifically Jewish, but this was a good piece of mussar – wisdom that helps remind you why you’re here on this earth.
4. Oprah Learns About Sabbath
I found this video interesting from a Shabbat-observant perspective, of course, but a little cheesy from the Oprah perspective. I like Oprah a lot actually, but what does she mean she didn’t “know” Sabbath was on Saturday? Wouldn’t you just say you didn’t know it was “originally” on Saturday, until Christians changed it to Sunday? There was one line in there that I loved – something like, if a door opens for you, and your faith doesn’t fit through that door, don’t walk through that door. In any case, this is a cool guy (who is apparently famous) standing up for his religious values in Hollywood. Thumbs up from me, for sure.
Jew here on the blog, and I thought of my old classmate (that is,
classmate from awhile ago – she’s not old! She’s exactly my age :). Daphne Soclof, who lives right here near me in Cleveland. Daphne was
very gracious about being interviewed, and we met in person for the
you asked if you could interview me in the name of Modern Orthodoxy.
But I feel like I’m a Torah-observant Jew, and that there needs to be
synthesis between the modern world and Torah law. That doesn’t
categorize me as “modern” but as rather, Torah u’mada (Torah synthesized
with science). The balance between the two puts me in the center:
centrist. There are various Hebrew titles, such as “torah u’mada” or
“dati-tziyoni” (Orthodox-Zionist) or “dati-leumi”
(religious/nationalist) that carry different political affiliations as
far as being a Zionist.
Ootob: What is your name?
Ootob: How old are you?
husband is a lawyer by trade but owns a real estate company. I have my
master’s in educational psychology and work at a charter school,
Both of my parents are Holocaust survivors. In order to keep me
sheltered and connected to my heritage, they put me in a Jewish Day
School for my entire education nursery through 12th grade.
They also supported my choice to Study in Israel for a year and continue
on to Yeshiva University’s Stern College for women.
became friends as young children through Bnei Akiva, a dati-Tziyoni
[Orthodox-Zionist] youth organization. We started dating organically at
Camp Stone, an Orthodox-Zionist overnight camp, and we stayed
together ever since. I actually put a note in the kotel when I was 10
wishing for three things: 1, that my grandparents would live forever; 2,
that Mashiach (the Messiah) would come; and 3, that I’d marry Rich. So
I guess he had no choice!
Ootob: Can you describe what your wedding was like?
most fun ever. Hundreds of wild and crazy people! Religious,
spiritual. The most moving part was when we stood under the chuppah and
the entire room sang “im eshkachech yerushalayim” (a song about
remembering that Jerusalem has not yet been rebuilt; traditionally
acknowledged at our moments of greatest joy, such as a wedding). It was
a real mix of communities – because my parents’ friends and family were
not observant, – which made it beautiful.
Ootob: How do you and your husband stay connected while raising a busy large family and with all the community obligations?
all the guests we have over). We’re not the “date night” type but we
do try to sit out on the porch by ourselves and connect.
equal partners in parenting and in our home; the burden of truly
providing economically for our family unfortunately falls on my husband,
although I try to help. The food brought to the Shabbos table is
cooked by me and the Torah brought to the Shabbos table is provided by
him. He drives the kids to school every day and davens (prays) in their
school with them. The appointments, haircuts, etc, are more me.
a parent is my priority and I hope that the education I have helps in
raising my kids as well as personal fulfillment in the workplace.
don’t think there is a particular view. I think you’ll find most women
have a higher education, master’s degrees, PHD’s, etc. Some choose not
to work and some do. I don’t know of any mothers in our (Orthodox Zionist) school who don’t
at least have a bachelor’s degree. Most have gone on for more, though
many choose not to work but instead volunteer their talents in the
an absolute priority for me, as long as it can synthesize with our
Torah values. That’s why I love the day school our kids go to because
the science teacher holds the same religious beliefs that I do and
absolutely teaches science, and is able to field questions in the
religious realm as well. Nothing is omitted or sugar-coated but the
kids are taught to have secular and religious work in conjunction with
look different from the other people at work, but not for the reasons
you might think. My co-workers are either African-American or Orthodox
Jews who are more to the right, so I guess I don’t look exactly like
either group! But we all respect each others’ outfits. And almost all
of us wear head coverings. (Both groups wear a lot of wigs, and I
don’t. I generally wear a scarf or hat.)
I generally wear a hat or a scarf and my hair sticks out. I do own a
wig for special occasions, although I often feel hypocritical wearing
it. I got it because sometimes you just have to blend in. Frankly, the
real pressure came from some specific individuals in the more
right-wing Orthodox community who don’t view my style of head-covering
as legit, so when I attend those types of functions I wear a wig to fit
in. I’m very proud to cover my head as a sign of being married and
never felt uncomfortable doing that in the secular environment.
for the most part it’s not, because I think it bring beauty and
structure to my life. It was a real choice for me. I wasn’t born into
it and therefore I’m passionate about that decision.
laws and guidelines on the beauty of family purity (mikveh) and the way
women are praised and valued as the linchpin of the Jewish home. In other words, being a Jewish wife and mother.
in the shade of gray is challenging because you are constantly choosing
and thinking. It’s never black and white (outside of the 613 laws).
It’s what makes it nice, and it’s what makes it hard.
think it handles it very well, within the guidelines of halacha
(always) but with the ability for women to feel empowered and a part of
the process, sometimes with all-women’s davening on special occasions.
a woman and mother, I always feel valued and important in my role as an
Orthodox Jew, and above all else, I prefer not to have a label, because
I feel that all Jews are part of one large group, and although we all
may practice differently, fundamentally we are all part of the same
religion. Although this interview is about what makes me different, I
want to stress that the things I value about Judaism are the things that
make us all alike. We are one people.
Attachment parenting is not for me. I don’t like people hanging on me or touching me all the time, and I hate being tethered. But who knew it was so controversial?
Bad for the kids… bad for the marriage… bad for the mom… are these accusations true?
After reading about Mayim Bialik’s book and other “out there” attachment parents, I decided to analyze my feelings, and here’s the conclusion I came to. I don’t know if attachment parenting ultimately produces: better or worse kids; kids that are more neurotic or more confident; more exhausted or more serene parents. All I know is that I couldn’t do it.
What impressed me about Mayim is that she didn’t seem to arrive at this parenting approach emotionally, based on her personality. She arrived at it, initially, scientifically.
“Writing her Ph.D. thesis on the role of hormones in obsessive-compulsive
disorder in children with a particular genetic condition, Ms. Bialik
thought deeply about the science of human attachment. At the same time,
friends whose attachment-parenting approach she had once found “kooky
town” (“All they talked about was their kid, and their kid was always on
them,” she said) seemed to be getting impressive results.”
(OK, it helped that she “fell in love” with nursing on demand [aaaagh!!].)
So why am I talking about this?
Pull out the words “attachment parenting” and insert “Orthodox Judaism.”
How many people who feel it’s “not for them” feel the need to dis the system? To prove that it’s flawed? Its proponents backward? Its products worse off for the experience? How rarely have I heard someone admit: “It’s not for me, but I admire it and admire those who are willing to put in the hard work because they consider it a worthwhile system for a better future”?
How much education have the detractors of attachment parenting amassed about what it really means – or is most of the backlash due to ignorance, stereotyping, fear of the unknown and perceived judgment at the hands of adherents?
Recently I posted something about Homecoming on Facebook. One respondent angrily expressed the social mayhem and damage that ensues from these high school dances. A friend of mine later commented (in person – yeah, for reals) that this person was obviously a baal teshuvah – one who adopts Torah observance as an adult – who was unpopular in high school. The assumption was that people arrive at Orthodoxy for emotionally needy reasons.
I reacted by doing something that’s becoming a habit: I lent her a book. This one was by a popular and cool Jewish guy, a consummate jock and highly successful business person, who nevertheless felt that “something was missing” in his life, and intellectually, philosophically, researched and eventually adopted observant Judaism.
If kosher, Shabbat, and other observances are “not for you” that’s cool. I get that. I won’t say I agree, but I, as a detachment parent, get it. But please don’t feel that you then have to dis the system. The system exists – has existed – for thousands of years. Accept it if you wish; accept parts of it if you dare; ignore it if you must. But try to stay philosophical about the issues.
Rabbi, I have a silly question. So this weekend we were away for a friend’s son’s bar mitzvah, and Saturday morning I went out for a jog.
So there I am, in my shorts, and, well, you know, and my route takes me right past the local Orthodox synagogue, just as everyone’s leaving.
And so on the one hand, I want to say “Good Shabbos,” or “Shabbat Shalom,” or whatever, but would that be weird, because obviously I’m like, jogging, and not, well, in shul… And I’m not dressed modestly so would that make people uncomfortable? Or should I just say good morning? I mean, how would that be viewed by the Orthodox?
Saturday joggers and Orthodox shul-goers: what say you?
And since Shabbos/Shabbat is coming, here’s the long-ago promised Shabbos dinner menu
and recipes. For those of you that are
regular readers, you already know I’m not a foodie, so my recipes are somewhat
laissez-faire. That’s my one and only
My Shabbos menu is a merger of tradition and what we love –
that’s what I think Shabbos should be, in general. We maintain the “traditional” feel by sticking to a generally similar menu
structure, and then there are places I experiment and have fun. So here goes.
- Challah with spreads
- Gefilte fish with horseradish and salads (occasionally
salmon too if I’m feeling fancy or we’re having company)
- Chicken soup – usually with matza balls
- Main course is where I have fun. My default-mode is baked chicken of all varieties,
a grain such as couscous or rice, and usually the ever-traditional and favored
potato kugel. However, often we have
meatballs (my husband’s favorite) or chicken cutlets. The salads from the first course round out
- Dessert consists of pastries from the bakery – again, this
is my husband’s favorite no matter what we make at home! My daughters love to bake (where’d they get
that from?) so sometimes it’s homemade treats too, or sorbet, or sometimes my
guests bring dessert.
- I usually make the challah, but sometimes I get lazy and
buy it instead. Also, my family loves “water
challah” – eggless challah from the bakery.
- “Spreads”: my husband loves mayo on his challah, and many of
our guests have learned of this unfortunate trick. We also add chummus to the offerings. On a good week I’ve been known to make
jalapeno dip, olive dip, and… um, that’s all.
- Fish: People seem
flabbergasted that my gefilte fish is not Mrs. Adler’s in jelled broth. But I don’t quite make it from scratch
either, although when I lived in Israel I sure did that. I buy a frozen loaf, unwrap it, spray it with
a bit of olive oil cooking spray, sprinkle the top with lemon pepper, and bake
for like an hour. It’s so good, it
almost doesn’t last till dinner. Someone
keeps coming over to cut off slivers and before you know it, half is gone. Okay, so that someone is usually me.
- Soup: I never called it “matza ball soup” growing up. Firstly, I was raised calling matza balls “kneidlach”
(the Yiddish name) and sometimes we had them; sometimes we didn’t. The main attraction was the chicken soup,
loaded with veggies and completely heavenly (shout out to my amazing mother
here). However I’ve learned that your
average Jew calls it matza ball soup and the main attraction is by far the
actual matza ball. Everything else is “broth”
– a word I never used in my childhood.
less. You can halve this recipe
easily. Throw it all in a mixer or mix
by hand. Allow to rise. There’s a special mitzvah to separate a small
piece with a special blessing and prayer (beyond the scope of this post). Shape, braid, rise again, brush with egg
wash, sprinkle with sesame/poppy and bake for 45 min on 325. Hide from children till Shabbos. The challah, not yourself. Although
that sometimes works too.
- Potato kugel
dump everything in. Process just till
blended. Bake on 350 for forever. Okay, so more like 2 hours. Taste for a while until you’re sure it came
- Jalapeno dip
non-foodie. I buy the frozen garlic
cubes at Trader Joe’s that come from Israel.
Each cube = one clove.
the hardest part). Sautee in oil with
the garlic. Add tomato sauce and salt
and pepper and simmer for anywhere from 20 min to an hour. This keeps in the fridge for weeks, by the way (not that you’ll have any left over).
- Chicken Soup
easy removal – place in large pot
however many you want
- My favorite salad
sugar if not sweet enough or vinegar if too sweet.
like slivered almonds.
favorite Shabbos dishes? Do you go more
traditional or more with your personal favorites?