Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It takes a village...

We were so lucky when our oldest was born. My husband and I were in rabbinical school and we were in a large community of students and friends.

Most of our friends were young-marrieds, singles, and almost no one had kids. We were among the first.

Definitely having a baby is hard. The first one is a total shocker. Life changes. Those first few months, that first year are a killer.

David was born in November. I wrote and handed in my thesis proposal between his birth and January. I handed in my completed rabbinic thesis three months after his first birthday.

We rarely went out at night but we had a great co-op daycare center on campus. Our weekly poker game continued, almost uninterrupted by David's birth, at our house. We put him to bed at 7pm. Poker started at 7:30. Some nights we had as many as 25 people in our house. The baby slept on upstairs, unaware.

Today someone reminded me of all that. She has her first child now, almost one year old. It's been, as it is for all of us, a rough first year. They regularly speak about us, she says, and how we made it "look easy." We should have offered to help you out more, she told me, if only we had realized how hard it really was!

And yes, it was hard. But I have to say, I can't imagine doing it any other way. I'm so glad we "hit the ground running" as my husband likes to say, by having a baby before we were out in the "real world."

We were so lucky. Our child was passed from future rabbi to future rabbi...all the time. These people are my best friends in the world, they are my family. They were the ones who visited me in the hospital as I labored. (Imagine...the hospital was next-door to our school. At lunchtime, I had a full room of friendly visitors as labor progressed....can you believe it!?) I wish we'd all had our kids together. I wish I could have held their babies in their newness. Now they're all out there, having their babies, spread all around the country. I wish I were with each one of them, sharing their experiences as they shared mine.

I love my life. But sometimes I miss my friends and their babies.
Welcome to the world, Hazel Zahara. I wish I was there to kiss your beautiful little head.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday Torah: Making Do....

Sometimes you gotta make poetry with whatever life gives you....
(or whatever you find in the kitchen drawer)

What's your Torah today?
Leave your link...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Skateboarding on the Grass....

Did you know that you can skateboard on grass? And on your belly?

That is, if you're 6 and 2 years old.

This was one of those parenting moments when I couldn't think of a good reason to say no, even though that was my gut reaction. So...I said yes. And then I went for the camera, because they had so much fun.

I feel like those moments come up the most in the summertime, when things are fun and crazy. Today, for example, we were playing with the sand and water table. It's really just a water table this summer, much less emphasis on the sand. The boys started to "spill" on each other...and then it got a little more, and a little more, and then even mama got into the act with the hose! Because I just couldn't think of a good reason to say no. Kids and clothes are washable....

What have you said yes to lately?

See some great pictures here at Mother May I...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Troubleshooting Tomatoes...and other questions

(I apologize in advance for the stream-of-consciousness post. I don't usually post like this but I feel the need for a brain dump. Blogland here I come!)

Have you seen this MyBlogLog? People have it all over, so I went to check it out. Now I have an account. Why do we all need so many accounts!? But I have them. How many do you have? (Ilana-Davita asked how many email addresses we have. How many "services" do you follow? I'm on flickr,, technorati, youtube, facebook, stumbleupon, twitter, and probably a few more that I don't even remember. What do you think is cool online?)

to my Gardening Friends (and anyone who has a good guess):
Why do my tomatoes have this dark spot under the stem on some of them

and this spotting on the leaves?

Am I in trouble here???? And when will they turn red and be edible!? The yellow plum ones are starting to turn yellow and look plummy er, yummy. And my one chili pepper is beautiful but not red yet. Wonder what it would taste like....

FrumeSarah is hosting Haveil Havalim. I'm waiting patiently for it to show up.

Did you know you can re-arrange your blog list in Google Reader? Is this a new thing? Or have I been clueless. I hated how they started out in alphabetical order but somehow got all messed up. Now I have folders. Life is good. What feed reader do you use? How many feeds do you read? I have 229 subscriptions. Luckily they don't all post every day!

I have been hard at work on the PTA newsletter. Hopefully it will be done this week and then I can show you where my creative energies have been going over the last week or so.

We are moved back into our newly renovated synagogue building. I can't quite believe it, I still wander around and I'm so happy to have all my books (which have been in storage) back with me. I missed their cute little bookie faces. Have you ever lived through a renovation? Ugh.

Do you ever go back and read your old blog posts? I was just looking for something to link to in this very random post that I'm reading. I think I need to go back and read some...and then share with you my favorite posts. I'm making a list of posts for the next few weeks. Time to get organized, serious, and into High Holy Day mode. I had better line up the blog plan...Elul, here we come! How do you get ready for the High Holy Days? Anyone else out there thinking about the first of Tishrei already?

There was a whole piece on NPR this morning (on the way to Torah Study) about the liberal blogosphere. Did you know that is a real word? I kinda thought we made it up out here in blogland. Even cooler is the J-Blogosphere, which has its own Wikipedia entry. And of course, a convention, which I can't quite get to in person. Are you going? Wait, don't answer that. I don't want to be jealous of you. Okay, answer. I want to know. Even if I'm going to be jealous.

I hope I've given you lots of interesting questions to answer! Say hi even if you don't have any answers....


five places i've been this week (aside from all the random links above!)

love this cute bag (kippah tip to scribbit)

you can make baked potatoes in your crock-pot!? who knew.

how awesome are these muffins

pencil and paper games

might fix my tomato problem

from my (join my network? it's free. it's fun. who knows what you'll find!)
where have you been!?

Friday, July 25, 2008

One step back, one step forward

in this week's Torah portion...

Last week things looked up.
Daughters got a few land rights.
Joy was premature.

Mo explains vow rules.
Men must hold the vows they make.
Not the same for girls.

The vows of women
can be rendered null and void
if the men say so.

the girl's father or husband
can nullify her.

(There's much more to this week's Torah portion. Much of it is rather troublesome. That is part of the importance of reading ALL of the Torah -- even the parts that we don't agree with, that we don't like. But it's hard to write haiku about it!)

Shabbat Shalom, y'all!

Read other Torah thoughts here.

See more Haiku Friday here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jewels of Elul

I'm afraid to say that I got this email about Jewels of Elul. Why am I afraid? Because it does seem that people regularly like to point out how "soon" the High Holy Days are. As if the date isn't seared into my brain. I'm a rabbi, for goodness sakes! The High Holy Days are like the World Series, the Olympics, the Jeopardy Finals, all rolled into one big spiritual package. Especially for a rabbi.

But with all that said, I do happen to love the holidays. I love the personal preparation, I love the excitement, I love the very idea that we get to start again...

It's a pretty great thing - each day someone posts their thoughts on the Hebrew month of Elul, which leads into the holidays. You can click on the above graphic to sign up for your own emails from the Jewels of Elul.

Hard to believe it's time, isn't it?

And it's not even August yet!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Enjoying the Summer...

We are definitely trying to enjoy the summer around here. Even though I got a little bit excited Sunday morning at the back-to-school ads in the newspaper, it's still summertime and we're definitely embracing it. (Of course, my mom mentioning the upcoming High Holy Days didn't make me feel any better...but let's just keep thinking of summer, shall we?)

So, here are some of the summertime fun pictures I took this week!

See some more wonderful summertime pictures over at Tracy's...


Go check out Haveil Havalim this week.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Daughters Unite!

in this week's Torah portion...

A man without sons
like our man Zelophechad
has a big problem.

Without any sons
who will inherit the land?
Daughters want to know!

Mahlah and Noa,
Hoglah, Milcha, and Tirtza
came before Moses.

"Our dad had no sons,
but we want to inherit!"
So Mo considered.

Moses took their case
and brought their pleas before God.
God made a judgment:

A man without sons
can pass on land to his girls -
the family plot!

A great victory
for feminists everywhere.
Equal rights - begin!

Read more about this week's Torah portion here.

See more Haiku Friday here.

Shabbat Shalom!

P.S. Today is Yom (yom = day) so make sure to check out the Reform Blog today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nothing to Say....Baruch Dayan HaEmet*

I don't know what to say.

My heart hurts today.

Here's what the JTA Telegraph had to say. And Esther too.

Treppenwitz is angry. (Me too)

This headline at Jewlicious says a lot about it.

Even the funny one isn't funny today. FrumeSarah is still hoping.

People are really furious about this. Things like this make me really sick.

And I am too. I just don't know what to think or say or do.

*This is the traditional words that Jews say when hearing of a death.

Growing Things....

Yes, I know I haven't posted lately. And yes, I know that I haven't wrapped up camp.

But life does seem to be moving on quickly, and now that we're home, we're busily catching up and revisiting all the things that we left behind for two weeks! When I left, these cute tomatoes were not even in existence! And now...look at them...

And there were super-tiny pepper buds but now there's this really long pepper!

(Actually, does anyone know -- this is a "Red Chili Pepper" plant -- is it going to turn red on the vine?)

It's pretty amazing that this little garden is growing without much assistance from me. We've been watering it (okay, my mother-in-law and God watered while we were gone) and I staked the plants, but I wouldn't say that I've done much else. Maybe it's time to mulch? But I do think that leaving it alone works for me. Or maybe I'm just lucky!? Who knows....

I'm already planning next year's garden. Maybe we should eat some tomatoes first.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

We're Back from Camp!

We're back from camp but I'm just too worn out to get a real post up here. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow and might get around to sharing some of the great pictures I took...and some of the great stories from camp. It's such a wonderful experience to share with all those kids, I have to decompress a little bit before I can write anything down...Last year I was able to blog during camp. For some reason that didn't happen much this year. So I'll have a wrapup post probably on Tuesday...

For now, go check out this week's Haveil Havalim, which is full of interesting things to read. It will tide you over....

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Man, A Plan, A Donkey?

In this week's Torah portion....

Balak was afraid
He thought the Jews were too strong
he wanted a curse.

He summoned Balaam
a well-known prophet, to curse...
Balaam wasn't sure.

God said "don't curse them"
But after a lot of cash
God told him "go on."

Balaam rode his steed
(it was really a donkey)
an angel stopped him.

Finally Balaam
realized what was going on
and apologized.

But the angel said
"Go on, but say what I tell."
So Balaam went on.

Balaam overlooked
the tents of the Israelites,
he had to bless them.

"How fair are your tents,
O Jacob, your dwelling-spots!"
(It was a great line!)

Moral of the story: Always listen when your donkey speaks to you.

Shabbat Shalom
from OSRUI!

See more Haiku Friday here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Some Updates from Camp

So here we are in good old Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, working and enjoying the life at Jewish summer camp.

While I'm working on being one of the rabbis for the 140 campers in my unit, I'm also shepherding my family through the camp experience as well! Because, of course, we bring up the whole family. My husband is having a great time enjoying the company of the other faculty and the kids are enjoying the outdoor time and the freedom to run around all day long.

So...without further ado, a few of the pictures from our first week at OSRUI...

Sam on Shabbat, looking adorable...
David rockin' out at the all-camp Fourth of July Talent Show
Yael taking out her cute little hairbow on Shabbat...
David enjoying the waterfront activities...

See more Best Shots over at Melody's place...


A few bloggy notes:
Haveil Havalim is up over here.
AND Juggling Frogs is back! I'm so excited.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Why the Red Heifer?

This week's Torah portion is Chukat...

Why the red heifer?
We don't know what it's all for
But the Torah says!

It's a sacrifice
and its ashes make a paste
that helps purify.

Touching a dead guy
(or gal for that same matter)
makes you real impure.

Only a red cow
can fix that impurity,
bring back a pure state.


They got to Kadesh.
That's where Miriam fell dead.
They buried her there.


They had no water
and the people moaned and whined.
Mo and Aaron cried.

God told them to ask
the rock for water, nicely.
But Mo hit the rock.

The water came forth
but Mo was in big trouble
and so was Aaron.

"You did not have faith!"
God was angry with them both.
A punishment came.

"You will not enter
into the Land I promised
to all the People."


Aaron died at Hor
and they mourned him 30 days
Things, they were changing...

(Stay tuned for next week, the Talking Donkey!)
Shabbat Shalom from OSRUI!

See more Haiku Friday here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Why Send Your Kids to Jewish Summer Camp?

After reading this great post on"Jewish Hogwarts" at the Rebbetzin's Husband it got me to thinking...

(To summarize, he compares Jewish summer camp to Hogwarts...Harry Potter discovers, when he attends Hogwarts, that there are others just like him! For many kids, going to Jewish summer camp is that same eye-opening experience.)

While here at OSRUI, I definitely think a lot about the choices that parents make when they decide to send their kids to this camp versus any other summer camp experience. We rabbis spend a lot of time discussing recruitment strategies, how to encourage our parents to send their kids here, and bemoaning the fact that we can't get more kids to join us here at our favorite summer spot.

To me, of course, it's a no-brainer. Summer is the time to connect with Jewish life. With the incredible opportunity to expand our Jewish horizons so accessible, I can't imagine how my kids would NOT go to Jewish summer camp.

It's a chance for them to meet other Jewish kids from all over.
It's a chance for them to see that Judaism is not limited to their home synagogue or even to their home!
It's a chance to learn in a totally informal environment about the joys of living a Jewish life.
It's a chance for them to see amazing Jewish role models in the staff who work so closely with each of our campers.
It's a chance to gain a sense of independence about their Jewish identity, realizing that they can "do Jewish" without the direct impetus of their parents. And that they can control that Jewish activity in some way.

Why NOT send your kids to Jewish camp????

And that's my Tuesday Torah. What's yours?