Monday, July 30, 2012

100 years ago....

      On July 24 for the secular date and 10 of Av for the Jewish date my grandmother would have been 100 years old. Sometimes her secular birthday would fall on Tisha B'Av much to her chagrin.
       My grandmother  had the most infectious laugh. She was so full of life and wisdom. She was an associate travel agent and planned trips for senior citizens when she was a senior citizen herself. People always loved her trips. Grandma had a way of making everyone feel special.  I miss her very much. I am blessed to have had her as a grandmother.
       Grandmothers are so important.  If you have a living grandmother be sure to treasure her. I treasured mine.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

mourning on tisha b'av

     I think that the reason that it can be difficult mourning on Tisha B'Av is that it happened so long ago that we don't even realize what we have lost. There is not one person alive today has  lived in Israel at the time of the bais hamikdash.  We all know what those days might have been like from studying about it but we never actually experienced it. Those of us who have been in Israel during holidays have a pinky of an inkling of what it may have been like, but really we do not really know the glory of what it was like. Its kind of like what people 300 years from now will be thinking about 9/11. They will remember the tragedy but they won't feel the pain. This is why remembering the holocaust has been included on Tisha B'Av. Even though many of us were not born then we know or know of many who unfortunately did go through it. It makes it easier to relate to . In any event, had the bais hamikdash not been destroyed and had we not been in galus the holocaust would not have happened.  Perhaps 9/11 would not have happened either. Who knows?  This is why we mourn.
      Another way of relating to the mourning during Tisha B'Av is to relate it to the feeling one  has when a loved one passed away. One may not have a year of avelus when one's grandparent , aunt or uncle passes away, but one is sad and mourns their loss. Though the loss of the bais hamikdash should feel like the loss of a parent, if we felt it like the loss of any beloved friend or relative we would be in the spirit of the day. I admit that I don't always have the proper feeling during Tisha B'Av , but I did have that ominous feeling when I entered shul  for the reading of eichah. I felt that pang one feels when one walks into a shiva house . Hopefully we won't be observing Tisha B'Av much longer and the geulah will arrive.

Friday, July 27, 2012

the three weeks

     I dread the three weeks every year . This year lots of crazy things have been happening at work. I am so looking forward to the end of Tisha B'Av (which this year's fast is pushed to the tenth of Av) I just can't take it.
      Maybe the record heat wave will finish after Tisha B'Av. Its been oppressively hot since before the three weeks, but still . It would be nice  to have cooler weather.
     Wishing all of you an easy fast and wishing everyone the strength to get through these next few days.
      Have a good shabbos.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

talk among yourselves

     Men think women are at fault for why they are single. Women blame men for why they are single. It is truly irrelevant who is correct. This is a subject that should be limited to discussion among those who are of the same gender. I do not want to hear men discuss why they think women are to blame for the shidduch crisis or how they prefer non-Jewish women because they feel they appreciate them more. I do not care. Men should discuss this issue with their male friends. Women should discuss their grievances about Jewish men only among other women. Playing the man/woman blame game in mixed company will only achieve ill will.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

weight loss mania

     I have been attending weight watchers meetings for over a year and finally its sinking in .  For the past four weeks I have lost weight. What is my secret you ask?  Well I have been cooking a lot lately. Leave it to me to wait until there is a record breaking hot summer to go on a cooking spree.  But seriously folks, preparation is key to weight loss. If you don't have anything on hand that is low calorie you are doomed to fail.
     I have stocked my fridge with seasonal veggies. I happen to like zucchini and eggplant so I go to the farmers market and buy fabulously fresh ones. I also stock up on tomatoes and onions to give them flavor. I spray cut veggies with Pam and flavor them with Italian seasoning and pop them in the oven for about forty five minutes. Its delish. Sometimes I add chickpeas or tuna and a teaspoon of olive oil once they are out of the oven.
      I spend my nights preparing lunch for the next day. Its grueling , especially when all I want to do is sit after a long day at work. It has been paying off. The other thing that has helped is the fact that it is so hot outside that my appetite has decreased.
     I also have found low calorie ice cream and snack bars to keep on hand in case I feel the need to nosh. The key is to keep each portion lo-cal so if you eat more than one you haven't blown your entire diet.
      I don't know how long this manic diet phase will last , but hopefully I will be able stick to it for awhile. At least long enough to lose the weight I want to lose. The truth is I need to make this a lifestyle so the weight will actually stay off.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

true love vs a baby

    Years ago a friend of mine asked me if I would marry someone just to have a baby even if I would not really love the guy. I told her unequivocally  no.  I of course have a different quandary to share. Is it more important to you to marry the right person or is more important to you to have a baby. Obviously the right choice is to choose both. But... if you had to choose , which one would it be?
     I really love children and I have always desired to be a mother.  I also think that the best way to have a child is to be married when one has a child. I could have or adopt a child on my own, but I do not think that this is ideal. I also don't think it is right to marry just anyone to have a baby. Perhaps this will mean that I may never have a child. I guess to me it is more important to marry the right person than to have a child.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A WIdow's New Life

     I just finished reading Mark Madoff's widow Stephanie Madoff Mack's book.  It is very sad. Mark Madoff was the older son of the infamous Bernie Madoff. Mark Madoff   committed suicide . Stephanie Madoff Mack wrote about what it was like to live under the shadow of what happened. Her father in law's sins ruined the lives of everyone around him. Bernie Madoff's children were not involved in his scheme , but they suffered from guilt by being the children of a felon. The grief was just too much for Mark Madoff to bear and tragically he ended his own life.
     I have heard a lot of people who seemed happy that Madoff had to suffer the loss of his son. I understand why they are so mad about the damage that Madoff did that they felt that way. The thing is Mark Madoff was not part of his father's ponzi scheme. Bernie Madoff swindled his own relatives as well as too many other people . A child should not have to suffer for the sins of his father when he has not followed in the father's footsteps. Some evil people are heartless anyway so what would devastate a normal person may not phase them .
     What was good about Mack's book is that it shows how deeply one person's sins can hurt another . Even when someone takes responsiblity for their sins it may not matter when they damage so many others especially loved ones along the way. A lot of people think that dishonesty is okay so long as they don't get caught. This book is here to tell you what happens when someone is caught and what it does to all those caught up in the web.
     Unfortunately I know of others who have committed lesser scale ponzi schemes. The results no less devastating. It is so important to be honest in business. Let Stephanie Madoff Mack's book be that cautionary tale. Her life was destroyed due to her former father in law's sins. Don't let this happen to you or anyone else you love.

Monday, July 16, 2012

subway antics

      The subway acrobats are on the train all afternoon and evening long on the Q train and I am not happy about this.  For all of you who aren't familiar with them there is a group of teenage or early twenties  young men who crank up their boom boxes and dance on the the subway as well as hang from the ceiling and poles . I find it extremely disruptive. I usually try to sit on the ends of the car so I am not in the thick of the movement. Even they themselves proclaim that they will "try" not to injure anyone but once they did.
     The worst is when I am on the train and they get on the train at canal street and I don't realize that the subway acrobats are going to be on the long stop between canal street and dekalb . I am not sure why there hasn't been a crackdown to remove them from the trains. The only saving grace is that unlike the early morning preacher lady who used to stay in one car preaching about Jews and non-Jews in an ascending crescendo these guys are only in each car for one stop so I don't have to switch cars to get away from them.
      All I want when I am riding the train is a little peace and quiet.  I suppose that's too much to ask.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


    Some people turn 20 and they immediately meet their bashert. By the time they are 30 they have four kids , a house  and a great job. Well as you know I am not describing myself. While I would love to have all these things even at this stage of the game, not attaining these ideals has forced me to find happiness in other ideals. It made me realize that even if I never get what everyone is supposed to want I can still be happy. This does not mean I have given up it just means that I am not depressed all of the time because I  single .
     The real test is when  one learns to appreciate life within whatever lot one is given . Its easy to be happy with one's lot when things come easy. I am not suggesting making life harder for one's self to get a bigger reward, just saying  that the bigger the struggle the bigger the payoff.
       When one has trials one is forced to re-examine life in order to appreciate life. It is a bigger test  to have an easy time in life and to really appreciate things even though it was not difficult to receive life's blessings. This of course is the test I would like to have but unfortunately not the one I always have.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

women's prayer groups

    When I was 12 a good friend of mine had her bat mitzvah at a women's  "minyan." Since I myself was twelve at the time I hadn't really put much thought much about women's prayer groups.
     It did seem unusual to hear a woman read from the Torah.  This particular women's prayer group said the brachot upon reading the Torah which I found out later is a no-no even if a woman actually reading from the Torah isn't actually  an issue.
      Since I tend to be on the shy side it never phased me that women aren't included in a minyan or read from the Torah in front of many or anyone else for that matter. I know that other women may think differently, but it never really phased me. I have been to women's prayer groups but the thing that I like about going to shul is that there are men and women . The shuls that I attend do not have a mechitzah at the kiddush. I suppose if all shuls had a mechitzah at the kiddush I might go to a women's prayer group because then what's the difference. I have no problem with a mechitzah for davening but a mechitzah during the kiddush is too much.  I  view shul kiddushes as a social opportunity. Sue me. Its just an opportunity to be social. And if I meet someone in the process even better.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

56 up

     In 1964 a bunch of seven year old British children were interviewed.  Every seven years they were interviewed. One sees their job choices, their marital choices as well as  their hopes and dreams. It almost seems voyeuristic.  It is similar to the time lapse you tube videos  only better. It becomes addictive. Once I watched 7 up I was hooked. I watched each series 7 up until 49 up in quick succession which might not have been the best idea. It was kind of sad to see people grow up so quickly before my eyes. Its bittersweet.
     Now the next installment 56 up has been documented. I have watched it on you tube. The feel of the film is different than the others. At 56 there is a feeling of being comfortable in their own skin even for those who had more tumultuous lives.  It is also less overwhelming to me because I know that I can't watch 63 up for another 7 years.
     Originally the series was supposed to be a study on class in British society . Over time it has become more about seeing what life has unfolded for these individuals. Not everyone born rich lived a charmed life and not everyone  born poor is unhappy. One gets to see the contribution ordinary people give to society. It is inspiring.
     After watching 56 up and the entire up series so far one sees how quickly almost fifty years goes.

56 Up BBC Review Show 2012

49 Up (Trailer)

I could not find the trailer for 56 up, so the trailer for 49 up will have to do.     

Monday, July 9, 2012

never give up

   One of the hardest things in life is staying positive about goals one has that have been difficult to achieve. It is so easy to want to throw in the towel. I wish that I could say that I am positive all of the time, but the reality is that I am not. I  am not Oscar the grouch negative but I am not Pollyanna positive either.
     Staying positive and persevering is about being an adult and trying to remember that things one works hard for are things that one appreciates all the more once one achieves them. It actually can be calming to be hopeful . One may never achieve all of ones hopes and dreams, but a bad attitude can sometimes be a self fulfilling prophesy. One does not have to be cheerful or hopeful all of the time, but at least strive to be more hopeful than negative. Giving up isn't an option unless one has re-evaluated and realized that ones goals should be different.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gilad Shalit

     After the amazing live return of Gilad Shalit to Israel there is something that I think about that I haven't read or heard anywhere. I think about the big responsibility he must feel to make something of himself after being swapped for so many prisoners. Or perhaps I am superimposing feelings I think a person must have after such an experience. It must be amazing for him to just be free but it is also so obvious that the fact he survived five years of captivity and was returned alive is an open miracle. I don't think that he could ignore this and then go on to live a mundane life. This is kind of a story where instead of choosing your own path the path chooses you.
     I know that he has traveled and has told his story, but as for what path for greatness he will choose it is too soon to know. Only time will tell.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Shabbat Shalom

Have a good shabbat everyone! Hope all your meals taste as yummy as this menorah shaped challah  looks.

the cure

  I remember learning in school that Hashem sends the cure before the sickness. Modern science tells us to eat healthfully and busy ourselves with preventive care so we will stay healthy. Kind of cool that this kind of is a proof for the cure being given before the illness or the solution being sent before the problem.
    I always think of this adage when I see people who are off the derech.  Often there are good reasons why these people are off the derech that perhaps could have been prevented if frum society was different. Once someone has flown the coop so to speak it is harder to reclaim him. It is much easier to keep someone frum before they have pushed to their limits and have left the fold. It really behooves us to try to find a way to fix things before they have reached the point of no return. I do not think that this is achieved by having a tighter leash on young people. I think that the problems are deeper than just trying to tighten the blinders. People do not want to admit that things need to be fixed which is such a shame. The more issues get swept under the rug, the bigger the mess becomes. The solutions are out there, we just have to see them. I don't mean just the educators or the rabbis. I mean all of us. It takes a village.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

out of towner

     I have lived in New York for more years than I would like to admit to but I still consider myself an out of towner. Some of my friends find this funny because I have lived in New York longer than I have lived outside of New York. They just don't understand. When someone is Israeli , even if they have lived in the United States longer than they had in Israel we still call them Israeli. When someone came to the United states from Russia as a child and they still  have the accent we call them Russian.                                                                                                                                                When people meet me  especially Brooklynites, they always ask me where I am from even after I have told them that I live in Midwood. My accent betrays me. My outlook on life has been shaped by the place I spent my formative years. Its not that New York hasn't changed me, it has. I am single and child free. My family does not live near me. I have friends, but not roots in New York. To me New York is a place, not a home.
     I do not plan on moving to Israel as a single person, but I might consider it if I married someone who has family in Israel. When I  have been in Israel it did seem like home. I felt homesick for my family when I was there, but I did feel at home there. If I made aliyah I would call myself an Israeli.
     Israel would feel like home in a way New York never has.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

why be jewish?

     When I was a kid I remember learning about a woman who was so modest that when she was about to be tortured that she pinned her skirt to her body so she would not be immodest.  At the time I remember being impressed but I did not think that this was something we should actually do, but that it was cool that she did. I am just waiting for some nut to decide that they want to take on that chumrah. Some nut into s&m of course. The world is so upside down now one does not know what to expect.
     Sometimes when I hear the chumrah of the month or the internet asifa  I feel that some people who call themselves ultra-frum are trying to turn Torah Judaism into the equivalent of some bible belt group that tells everyone not to see a doctor or take medicine but if one of their leaders are ill they would. I suppose other people's zealotry should not bother me, but it does. 
      A few years ago there was a television mini-series about Jews and Judaism. I confess that I did not watch most of it, but the one message that I did hear was that now that for those of us who are living in the United States we have to find a way to be observant because we want to be and  not because we are being forced to be separate . This is an ideology  that I grew up with in the midwest that I think has bypassed brooklyn and much of the tri-state area. So often I her goyim this and goyim that and if you do this its goyish etc. Well in certain neighborhoods I would agree with you. The goyim there don't have such great values. Some other goyim that I have met are very lovely upstanding individuals. When one lives in a neighborhood filled with upstanding goyim its not valid to say that we should be frum to be different than the "awful" goyim. Would it not be best to say that we should be frum because its the right way for us as Jews to be?