Hey OOTOB readers,

First, you may have noticed that my writing style has changed somewhat. See, as of August I’ve been writing a column for the Cleveland Jewish News, our local paper. The pieces have to be 500 words and as I write, I have a certain audience in mind. Then I publish here. Also, I write every few weeks for our congregation’s newsletter. In the past seven years that I’ve been blogging (started in July, 2011) my tone and content have shifted and fluctuated, but I never thought this was the place for “Jewish inspiration” per se. But now I’ve decided to publish those pieces here too. So pretty much you get a mosaic of my writing.

Another thing: I have made it to the top 15 Jewish Mom Blogs by Feedspot (which is interesting because I’m not sure what qualifies it for a mom blog other than the fact that I’m a mom). But it’s a pretty exciting honor and you can check that stuff out here. The fancy medal is coming to my homepage soon.

Finally, here’s my most recent CJN piece about school ending and new beginnings and why I always crave change and newness and what we can do about that. The changing of the seasons always makes me nostalgic somehow.

It’s finally June, and that means one of two things: either school has finally ended, or it’s almost over.

Every year I get so excited when school draws to a close. No more early mornings! No more homework! No more signing planners, creating projects, finding notebooks, signing permissions slips, pretending I didn’t see my kid’s school on the caller ID… but I digress. And then I get equally excited when school starts up again in the fall. New planners! New projects! New notebooks! Fresh and timely permission slips! Eagerly answering calls from school… kidding.

It seems there is always a need for a sense of freshness and newness. In the drudgery, we need a fresh shot at vacation. After a prolonged vacation, we need a fresh shot at routine and schedule. As humans we always crave something new and interesting.

This is one of the the reasons I love living in Cleveland: I love having four distinct seasons. Now, I certainly like some better than others – ahem, winter – and some seem to overstay their welcome – ahem, winter, again – but as a rule, just as I’m getting bored of one season, things begin to change and a new wind blows with a new season.

I have certainly, like every Clevelander, asked myself every winter, “wait, why do I live here?” This is then followed by a detailed fantasy of moving to California. But when I think about it a little harder I realize that the changing of the seasons is part of what I love most about living in northeast Ohio.

I think there is a message here for maintaining freshness about our lives in other areas too. The Shema prayer comes to mind, where the verse asks us to keep its lessons that are being taught “today” on our hearts and minds. But the lessons aren’t taught “today” – they were taught at Sinai, thousands of years ago. We are taught, then, that one should try to keep its lessons fresh and novel – as though they are a new spring blooming; the first cookout of the summer; the first changing of the leaves; the first snowfall. Just as though they were indeed being taught today for the first time.

The novelty of school ending; the novelty of school starting. The passing of the seasons; the cycle of the holidays. The birthdays of each family member; the graduations and weddings. Each is an opportunity to be overcome by a sense of freshness and newness. Each, an opportunity to recommit to living joyously. As funny as us human beings are, and as much as each year we are amazed anew at each recurring change, we can harness that sense for our good. Enjoy it. Use it for reflection.


And delete the school’s number from your caller ID. Just for awhile.