Oy Vey

UncertaintyOne of my children is being evaluated for a fairly serious medical condition. It’s not fatal. It is treatable. But it is going to cause some changes in how we do things. All in all, it’s something we can handle. The part that’s been difficult is hanging in there while we go through the diagnostic phase.

I’m a person who is not thrilled with unplanned events – unless they are parties. Those are definitely okay with me. So – having a perfectly healthy child suddenly frequenting Children’s Hospital is not something I’m comfortable with – but then, who is? The good news is that the staff and our doctors have been wonderful. They definitely get it that it’s a stressful situation for all involved, and they work to keep it all low key.
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Torah Exploration – Va-Yetse’

This Torah portion, Va-Yetse’ [Genesis 28.10 – 28.22] is one that I find intriguing. I hope you will, too. Take some time to consider what you would do differently if you knew the Lord was present in a place. Then ask yourself why you don’t do that any way.

10Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran. 11He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it. 13And the Lord was standing beside him and He said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. 14Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. 15Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is present in this place, and I did not know it!”17Shaken, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.” 18Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19He named that site Bethel; but previously the name of the city had been Luz.

20Jacob then made a vow, saying, “If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21and if I return safe to my father’s house—the Lord shall be my God. 22And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, shall be God’s abode; and of all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You.”

SOURCE: JPS Tagged Tanakh

Bat Mitzvah Prep

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s nearly time for my third child to be called to read from the Torah.

For my first son, I was clueless. It didn’t help that we switched temples and so skipped several steps at our current temple that would have made things a great deal more comfortable. I wanted everything to go well, but in a way that is familiar to most of us who were not raised as Jews, it was sort of like dancing to music I couldn’t hear. The most difficult part was that I felt responsible for teaching my son that dance, too. Lots of other issues with my family came up… It was a miserable process from my part – BUT he did great. He was ready on time. He was comfortable during the service. He was a champ.   Continue reading

Interfaith Couple – Interfaith Family?

I blog about Judaism for interfaith families. What that means to me is that, whether or not the person who was not born Jewish has converted, will convert, or never converts, is not the point. The point is that the family itself is an interfaith family because extended family is not all of the Jewish faith. As a result, interfaith issues come up throughout the lifetime of the marriage as different life cycle events occur and/or other changes take place in the lives of the couple, their children, and their extended families. These families have a need for information and a context for some of the Jewish rituals and events they will celebrate.

Interfaith couples are couples in which there is one Jew and one person of another faith. Their need for information and guidance if they choose to make Jewish choices and raise Jewish children is a vital need. They must be able to access that information without having to change who they are or battle institutional insensitivity along the way.   Continue reading

Welcoming Interfaith Families Recap

Napkin 2 03-19-13 5.58.42 PMI attended the Welcoming Interfaith Families program today. Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, it included speakers from a number of organizations involved in various forms of outreach to interfaith couples. There was also a break out session for the discussion of a variety of topics, as well as an opportunity for all those in attendance to ask questions and offer comments. The take away for me was that times are changing – for the better.   Continue reading

Interfaith? Plans for Sunday?

Napkin 2 03-19-13 5.58.53 PM

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is hosting an afternoon dedicated to exploring ways in which the Jewish community can be an inviting place for interfaith couples and families. The event will include a variety of perspectives, news of initiatives at the local and national level, and a play about interfaith couples. Dr. Erica Brown, Scholar-in-Residence at the Federation, will lead a conversation on what the Jewish community can do to welcome interfaith families. Continue reading

Chapter One

Working on the sample chapter for my book on enhancing your Jewish identity. It’s amazing how many times a sentence can be tweaked before it “sings.” But once it does… I guess that’s the moment writers live for – that moment when it just sounds right

I don’t know about you, but for me, once the first section is set, it all falls into place. I know that’s supposedly because my vision is clear then, but it’s more than that. I can have a detailed outline that tells me each thing to cover in sequence, along with a killer topic sentence, but that’s still not the same as when the first section takes on a life of its own. 

Here’s to a great week for us all!


A Day of Jewish Learning

Routes-Logo-w-Tagline-no-sessions-e1360703616897What are you up to this Sunday? The Partnership for Jewish Life & Learning is holding Routes: A Day of Jewish Learning at the American University Campus in Washington, DC. The program runs from 10am to 5pm and features speakers and performers on a number of topics covered during 60 sessions.

Routes is designed to provide a “welcoming, accessible and exciting learning experience for the diverse Jewish population of Greater Washington.” For some this will be an introduction to Judaism. For others it will be a way to renew ties to Judaism or to explore new options. This year the program will include sessions on everything from managing stress and religion in the newsroom to discussions of tzedakah and the history of Jews and chocolate. Check out the schedule.

Food is available for purchase on campus, as well as at nearby restaurants. Kosher lunch boxes can be pre-ordered when you register – or – bring food from home. Yes. You can eat during sessions.

Register in advance and the cost is $18. It’s $25 at the door. High school and undergraduate students can enter FREE with a valid student ID.

Directions and parking info here.

See you there!

Shabbat 04/06/13

Shabbat Candles

Passover is nearly over. The matzoh balls were what they were. My kids are used to it. It’s sort of the family joke. Why? Because I’m a fairly competent cook – except for when I’m not.

Spring break is over for my oldest and winding down for the youngest two. The house will be quiet with them both in school all day again. Still, the routine makes me appreciate the moments of special time we create and fit into the cracks between school, homework, work, and sleep.

For Shabbat this evening we’ll talk about the Book of Job. I’m interested to hear what my kids have to say on the subject. I’m usually amazed at what they bring to the table. If that’s a no-go, we’ll discuss the Torah portion for this week or use the guide from Family Shabbat Torah Talk. Either way we’ll have some quiet family time.

Shabbat Shalom!

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