Friday, September 17, 2010

Err Like a Human

In preparation for Yom Kippur, we search our souls and see where we have sinned against G-d and against other people. Then we apologize for these sins, and resolve to do better in the future. You have to own up and then do something about it.

On these last few days before the big ol' Day of Atonement, we try to seek forgiveness from our friends and family that we have wronged. I thought about this a lot this year, but did not actually get a chance to do it. I thought it would be a copout to go online, say, to Facebook, and post a general "please forgive me" shoutout. That would certainly not cover it, and would be too easy. (This ain't supposed to be easy.)

But, as I said, I didn't get to it, at least not yet. Then yesterday morning I got a mailing-list e-mail from writer Naomi Ragen, whom I greatly admire. Ragen wrote:


A day before Yom Kippur is a day of deep soul-searching. I have searched my soul, and would like to publicly ask forgiveness for mistakes I have made, and actions I regret:

1) I ask forgiveness from all my readers for not having the time to answer all their many comments to me. If you wrote me, and I didn't answer, please forgive me. In the year to come, I will try harder, although I ask forgiveness in advance if I don't get back to you. But please know I read every, single e-mail sent to me.

2) I regret harsh answers and columns that were written in a moment of anger and frustration. I will try harder to be more tolerant.

3) I regret mistaken information I forwarded. I will research more diligently before posting.

4) I regret the 2003 article I wrote in which I said very harsh things about Richard Joel, who had just been appointed president of Yeshiva University. It was a time when the Intifada was very strong in Israel and certain branches of Hillel on college campuses were courting the anti-Israel "peace" junkies. YU was reportedly going to hold a dialogue with such a group. I saw red (always a sign I shouldn't be writing a column.) and since Richard Joel had just come on board, mistakenly targeted him. In 2007, YU established the Center for Israel Studies. Richard Joel said the following:
"The Land of Israel and the State of Israel are central to the future vision of the Jewish people and have always been central to the reality of Yeshiva University."
My deepest regrets, President Joel, and a public apology for ever thinking otherwise.

I thought that what Ragen did there was pretty classy, and then I thought, hey! I got me a public forum right here.

My biggest sin, I think, is not anticipating others' needs and trying to help them out. For example, I have a friend whose husband has been in the hospital off and on all year. I sent her notes wishing them both well, and I told her that I would be happy to help in any way that I could. However, I failed to actually do anything. When we say we are willing to help, we always mean it, but the person needing the help should not have to ask. I'm sorry for not getting in there and figuring out how I might be able to make things better.

I'm also sorry for not trying harder to make things better for my mother. She has some physical issues due to horrible arthritis and to a neurological condition that affects her balance. This is my mother, my oldest friend (she knew me before I was born) and someone who has done innumerable things to help me out and to get me through life, and I don't know how to help her.

I apologize for not keeping in touch with my friends the way I should. I think they understand, fortunately. (Call me! We'll get together and do something even if it's just coffee and conversation!)

Now I have to ask for forgiveness for a wrong against my 4-year-old son, Pumpkin. He has already forgiven me for this. I mean, he likes me a whole lot, no matter how many desserts I deprive him of. In fact, he gave me the Biggest Hug in the Whole World recently, which was a multi-part hug that took several days to complete. And I make really yummy chocolate milk, so why should he have a reason to be angry with me? Well, I'll tell you.

I took Pumpkin to a "Holiday Boutique" sponsored by our congregation's Sisterhood, back in November. I'd wanted to stop by there and look at what they were selling. They were also going to have tables where kids could do Chanukah-themed crafts, and Pumpkin's a big craft person so I knew he'd like that.

After a while of doing crafts I got impatient with Pumpkin. We didn't have much more time, because we needed to be at a party later, so I expressed annoyance over not having had a chance to look around. I don't remember my words, but they were needlessly accusatory. I started to feel bad immediately. The lady running the crafts offered to watch him while I checked out the wares. It turned out there was nothing I wanted to get. The gift I was thinking about getting was Not Important. But Pumpkin making crafts was Important, and always will be.

As I was winding up my browsing, Pumpkin came running up to me, saying "look what I made for you!" (see, he had already forgiven me). It was a snowflake stuck with some dreidels, some stars of David, and a couple of other things. I had raised my voice to him, and he still made this, with me in mind. I felt worse, and worse still as the day progressed, even though he wasn't upset with me at all. I keep the snowflake on my bulletin board at work, so I can look at it all the time and remember what really is Important. I'm sorry, Pumpkin, and I will try never to do anything like this again.

G'mar chatima tova (may you be sealed in the book of life), and an easy fast. G-d willing there will be a next year to try to improve our repentance skills. May this be a year of Important Things, like Really Big Hugs. And ice cream with chocolate sauce. Why not?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

... And A Bunch of Other Stuff

You may have wondered why I posted the seemingly random video of The Band. I was actually trying to achieve a bit of musical balance, after having put up the celldweller thing. Unfortunately, having celldweller, The Band, and the link to The Connells video in the comments in such close proximity caused a dangerous digital reaction. If you look closely, the edges of the blog are a bit charred. I promised the people at Blogger that I would be more careful in the future, but I had my fingers crossed. You know I'm prone to risky behavior.

And speaking of music.

Composers of music for children who grew up in the 60s or 70s are struggling with how to deal with the recharacterization of Pluto as a "dwarf planet" instead of the last of nine planets in our solar system. On Barenaked Ladies' extraordinary kids' album Snack Time, there is a song called "7 8 9," with this: "Seven ate nine! Once upon a time in our solar system/We couldn't make do without 9/But Pluto's not a planet now, so eight'll do fine."

The Nields' superlative Rock All Day/Rock All Night contains "Percy on Pluto," in which they explain: “Pluto’s not a planet anymore, you see it came up short/It’s really pretty tiny and its orbit’s way off course/You can’t really call it a planet anymore, but you can call it Planet Dwarf. ... It doesn’t really matter what you call it it’s the same/A rose is still a rose, after all, by any other name/And those of us who are little, we matter equally/In fact that’s why they passed the laws of mass and density.”

My favorite treatment of the Pluto Issue is on Here Comes Science by the incomparable They Might Be Giants. They run through the eight planets but also mention other bodies that often go unmentioned. This way, they can talk about Pluto and not have to go on about how it was once considered a planet but now it's not, yadda yadda, who cares, and just to make sure they've covered everything, they tack on "and a bunch of other stuff." Brilliant.

(I highly recommend all three albums, by the way. Unlike many kids' albums, these are chock full of genius and get better the more they are played.)

Okay, so, remember Passover? Right, you don't want to. Too bad. So I hosted a seder, and my family came, saw, and was suitably impressed. We used a haggadah that my mother found, which was supposed to help you do a shorter but more complete seder. We were test-driving it, and we only had one copy, so I read from it while others tried to follow along in another Haggadah. (I know, one isn't supposed to do it this way, but stay with me.)

As Mom had warned me, the language was a bit advanced for the young ones, so I sort of modified it as I went along. My mother-in-law exclaimed "wow! I've never heard this before!" which meant that, even though she had hosted and attended many a seder, she had never heard the story told quite this way. I believe I made it ... entertaining while simultaneously educational! The only grumble was from my oldest nephew, but he's 15 and that's sort of his job.

(Oh, and the food was good. When I have lots of money I will buy this seder plate. And kiddush cups for the kids. And a havdallah set. And a bunch of other stuff.)

The big people were also impressed with my children's chanting of the Four Questions in Hebrew (and Einstein's reading of them in English), which we had practiced at night before going to bed. Pumpkin is especially eager to learn things like this and then show everyone. When he hits religious school he will be far ahead. Meanwhile, Einstein's religious school report card was outstanding, and received a "Woo hoo!" comment from the director. Apparently, some genius absorption has been detected.

And speaking of holidays.

There was an event for little ones on Shavuot, but I did not take them, because I realized that it was really intended for the preschoolers from our shul's "Early Childhood Center," or ECC, who would not have school that day. I've been to ECC-sponsored things and found them to be cliquish; i.e., I felt loserlike because my child wasn't in the ECC. (It's also hard sometimes for a Mom with a job outside of the home, such as myself, to relate to those without, and since ECC is not a full-day program, many of those mothers are in that category. Wow, that sentence tried really hard to be "correct," didn't it? This is a complicated issue. We won't get into this now.) The bottom line is that my kids didn't really celebrate Shavuot. Also, as I had predicted, there were very few people at services. No one thinks Shavuot is important enough to take their kids out of school (my mother even told me not to, which is interesting, because during our public school years that's exactly what my parents did...).

A lady read my mind, suggesting after the service that we start talking up Shavuot early on, and planning for it so it is in everyone's mind. This is the celebration of G-d giving us the Torah. What could be more important? So next year...

And speaking of synagogue attendance.

I have to give our shul points for deciding to allow people to officially pay their membership dues and religious school tuition on a monthly basis. It used to be that you had to call up and speak to the administrators and discuss the fact that you could not afford to shell out all that cash at once. I've received mailings about just going ahead and paying monthly installments without making any special arrangements. I think more people will join if they don't have to grovel.

I could do an entire post on how expensive it is to raise Jewish children, but I don't much want to. This part depresses me. When I was the age my children are now I was going to camp at the Jewish Community Center, but I can't afford to send my kids there. (It is even more expensive now than it normally would be, because, as I understand it, someone Madoff with much of the JCC's endowment.) There is a Chabad camp that operates nearby, so I may be able to swing a session there next summer. But I'll go cross-eyed if I try to focus on the funds required for a decent bar mitzvah, a high school Israel program, not to mention TWO kids in religious school next year. Then I'll start bumping into walls, which might cause me to break my house, or a fingernail. Can't have that.

In order to continue the attempt to establish, and eventually cement, my family's religious involvement, without getting depressed or anxious or having to iron my hands or whack my head I have to maintain a level of contentment with an unknowable future....

Okay, stop the presses. The end part of this blog post has been conveniently written for me by my son. I was bringing Einstein to camp on the morning of Tisha B'Av (The Ninth of Av, the 11th month in the Jewish calendar). On the car ride over, I reminded him about the Wall in Jerusalem, and explained that on this day far back in history, enemies of the Jews destroyed our Temple, and all that is left is that wall. (I wanted to keep it simple for him, but Tisha B'Av actually commemorates several tragedies that occurred--probably not so coincidentally--on this day.) This launched into a discussion of Jewish beliefs and holidays.

Among other questions, he asked why his cousins "switched to Christian" and whether they could switch back (he seemed to be thinking: why would anyone want to do that?). He asked me when it was going to be Passover so we could read from "the Play-Doh book" (referring to a children's haggadah we use that has claymation-type illustrations). We spoke a bit about the seder and what he liked about it (helping to set the table was one thing). I told him that Rosh Hashanah was coming up next, and he got very excited because he remembered the apples-dipped-in-honey tradition, probably his favorite holiday food thing. He said he liked Shabbat. He asked which holiday is the one where you look for three stars? That's actually havdallah, the end of Shabbat, I explained. (We haven't started doing havdallah, though I really want to. For some reason, we didn't do this growing up, but it's a nice ritual involving a cool-looking candle and b'samim--aromatic spices such as cloves. I think it is time to take Einstein to the Jewish Stuff Store and get us a havdallah set.) He said he likes being Jewish.

I'm supposed to say something here about how this one little boy has provided me a huge boatload of hope that is, by itself, a great force to secure us against future attempts at the destruction of our people. If any of you Very Smart and Talented Writers have the words to express that, have at it in the comments. Instead I'll just say that if I sometimes feel like Pluto, he is my dwarf planet Eris, and even way out here, we've got apples and honey, and a bunch of other stuff.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Seven Years and Counting

Craig C. DeWolfe, MD, MEd
Children's National Medical Center
Sheikh Zayed Campus for Advanced Children's Medicine
111 Michigan Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20010

May 7, 2010

Dear Dr. DeWolfe,

My name is 12tequilas. We met on May 7, 2003, and ever since then, I've been wanting to express my gratitude for what you did for me and my family. You may not remember us from 7 years ago, so let me give you some background.

My son Einstein was born on February 22, 2003, full term and healthy. Everything was fine until around his seventh week of life, when he got some sort of gastrointestinal malady that has never been definitively diagnosed. My little one was having severe diarrhea, and because of some misleading advice from the late-night nurse hotline, by the time we got him to the emergency room, he was in hypovolemic shock [that's a dangerous level of dehydration]. He was stabilized in the ER by the superb pediatric emergency medical team at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, who had to administer fluids through intraosseous infusion [an IV line goes into a vein, an IO line infuses fluids directly into a bone. Yep.]

Einstein was not nearly out of the woods. He had some organ damage and his itty bitty guts were a mess. He was admitted, connected to various monitors, and tested; everything from lumbar puncture to brain scans. He needed red blood cells and platelets. He couldn't eat because it all went right through him. After a week it was decided that he should be transferred to Children's National Medical Center in D.C.

At Children's, Einstein was visited by medical staff from various departments. The Infectious Disease folks tested him for rotovirus three times. Genetics experts compared all of our ears. And, of course, there was the Gastroenterology "team," headed up by a mad scientist who shall remain nameless but whose initials are "Ali Bader." I don't want to crack on your colleagues, Dr. DeWolfe, but it is important to this story to note my perception that Bader and his team treated Einstein like a case study and seemed to want him to have some sort of heinous disorder. "Cystic fibrosis" was everyone's favorite pick, and it was sometimes talked about as if he was already diagnosed with it, even though he was too little then to undergo the definitive CF test. This bothered me, not only because people DIE from cystic fibrosis, but also because he had only one symptom--diarrhea. He exhibited NO OTHER indicators for CF whatsoever.

The doctors figured out that Einstein needed to be taken off all food by mouth. He'd had total gut rest at Shady Grove, but it hadn't been for long enough. After he was on TPN [that's Total Parenteral Nutrition, which is complete sustenance, rather than just fluids, through an IV] for a solid period, he was gradually put back on formula, and things improved as far as weight gain. When all this began, he'd gone all the way back to his birth weight.

Lots of other stuff happened during our stay and I have many stories, but I will fast forward to the morning of May 7. The GI team visited me early that morning; I believe I requested their presence because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. The woman who acted as the team's spokesperson (I never knew who she was really supposed to be), rattled off a list of tests they wanted to perform, or to repeat. When they left, I called my husband at work and said, tearfully, "we are never going home."

A bit later you walked into our room. It was the first day of your rotation as attending on our floor? wing? area? (Not sure. It didn't matter. You were our doctor.) You entered, introduced yourself, and looked over at your tiny patient, whose face lit up. He broke into an ear-to-ear grin and his eyes sparkled. It was as if he knew that you were his guardian angel. You smiled back, of course, because how could you not. Then you did a quick exam.

I don't remember whether it was you who gave me the news, or if it was an intern or resident that you sent, but after checking out Einstein and his chart, you determined that Einstein should be discharged immediately. He was not sick, you said. He was no longer hooked up to anything. He was being fed by mouth; it was super-special formula (which, judging from its price, must have been made of edible gold), but we could leave with a prescription. We could follow up with Dr. Bader at the outpatient clinic. There was no reason for Einstein to be in the hospital anymore.

Over the weeks that followed, our pediatrician eventually let us go back to nursing, and recommended another pediatric gastroenterologist, the esteemed Dr. Lynn Duffy. Einstein was six months old by the time we could get in to see her, but it was worth the wait. She told us we could start him on baby cereal, waved a magic wand, and Einstein was a normal healthy baby again.

I have been wanting to send you our gratitude formally, and it seemed appropriate to finally do so on this, the seventh anniversary of May seventh.

In short, Dr. DeWolfe, you rock.

With love and respect,

12tequilas, husband, Einstein, and Pumpkin

encl.: photo of happy, healthy, gap-toothed and mohawked 7-year-old Einstein, and maybe some cookies or something, what do you think?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Drunkard's Dream If I Ever Did See One

Periods of scattered relevance are expected within the week.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I have a lot to tell you. I must report on how Passover went (mostly great), I must rant about negative people, and I must celebrate with you the seventh anniversary of a very important event, involving doctors, nurses, and mad scientists.

To tide you over, newly discovered music that sort of defies description (comment below if you'd like to try). We have so many decisions to make, and along the way we've done it wrong. This song addresses this situation in a cathartically angry manner.

(If you hate this song--and some of you will--it's a near guarantee you'll love the one I include in the next post. Let's see if I'm right. Isn't this fun?)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pesach, Part I

I have a plan to host my own seder. (Be nice to me and maybe you'll be invited.) I want to have it under my roof, so that it can be done my way. Specifically, I want to go through the whole Haggadah, even if we skip parts, but make sure that all the important elements are there, such as the singing parts (not just "Dayeinu," which is the only one my in-laws know, and they only know the "Dayeinu" part), and some of the after-dinner part that people tend to skip. This calls for creativity, strategic advance planning, and holding fast against complaints. Certain members of my family would love to dispense with all that religious stuff and just skip ahead to the meal.

If you've never attended a seder, I'll tell you it can be very long, but it doesn't have to be boring. I will adjust for length and minimize the "boring" parts. I want it to be meaningful, educational, and fun, especially for the kids.

I think that starting a seder very early so that it doesn't end very late is fine. This will help the kids, and my mother, who turns into a pumpkin at around 8:00 p.m.

I think participation is key. I plan to map out a program and give everyone roles ahead of time.

It's okay to have snacks during the before-the-meal part of the seder if you get hungry. My old college roomie's family always had "egg break," wherein when someone calls out "egg break!" and you stop the seder for a bit and pass out hard-boiled eggs. Eggs are a seder staple anyway; they are a symbol of life and fertility and other good stuff.

I plan to hand out hot towels during "urchatz," (which is where you wash your hands but don't say a blessing, because you do that later), because hot towels are a luxury! that we can have because we are free! and not slaves! What do you think?

I like the idea of having funny symbols for the plagues (such as a stuffed cow for cattle plague, or Band-Aids (R) for boils), not that plagues are funny, but it works like mnemonics and helps the kids remember.

I think I'll drink four glasses of wine. I will have earned them. Maybe I should pick up a bottle that's just mine. What do you think?

Issues like kashering and cooking for Passover will have to wait for a later post. I just wanted to get this out fast. Yes, people, I'm posting without reading it over 12 times. Do you believe me? Okay, yeah, I went back and edited, just a little. And then read it on my phone and fixed the typos I saw. What?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

World's Worst Mother Lets Her Sons Pick Up Chicks In A Bar

Einstein and Pumpkin sat on stools at the corner of the bar at the Hard Times Cafe and Cue (Pumpkin needed a bit of assistance getting up there). They were looking around for one of the cute bartenders to serve them drinks. Just kidding! They were playing the video game they have there on the barcorner, one of those with a touchscreen, where you pick from a selection of games that cost different amounts and play until your credits run out.

I sat at a table just beyond, watching their faces, which glowed in the light of the game.

I looked away for a moment and as I looked back, a young lady was handing the boys something. I walked over to see what was going on. "I hope it's okay," she said. "We were watching them play and they were just so cute!" She had given them an extra dollar. I thanked her, and she and her friend walked off. I looked to see which of the many games the boys had been playing.

It was Beer Pong.

When it is time for my children to leave home, they will already know how to cook their own food, do their own laundry, and play their own drinking games. Ready for the world!


Two Friday nights ago was supposed to be Parents' Night Out at the kids' care center. PNO is the greatest invention ever. You bring the kids as you usually do, but then you just don't pick 'em up...until 9:30 p.m. Ten bucks per child, they feed 'em, they entertain 'em, the kids look forward to it, and it is the cheapest babysitting you are ever going to find.

But yes, I did say Friday night. Erev Shabbat. I admit that when there is an opportunity for a relatively inexpensive date with the hubs I say let's do it.

Last week, though, we were blessed with an insane amount of snow. There was some sledding, some sliding, some snowballs, some snow sculptures, even this impressive column of ice joining the roof edge to the deck rail (which further increased girthwise after this photo was taken), but that snow messed up pretty much everything, and it is still doing so. The roads are clear, but making turns when giant snow mounds obscure the oncoming traffic? Very dangerous. In any event, day care was closed for two days--I don't think they have closed once since we started taking the kids there five years ago--and Parents' Night Out was postponed.

Meanwhile, something neat happened. I have a siddur (prayer book) that was given to me as a bat mitzvah gift. It's one of those siddurs you may have seen, published in Israel, small and portable but with an ornate gilded metal cover. My son Einstein (now 7!) picked that book up that Friday and started asking me questions about it. He seemed fascinated and genuinely interested in the answers. He said, "maybe I can read from this tonight when we do the challah and candles and all that stuff."

Because of Parents' Night Out, I had not thought we would be doing "all that stuff," but after Einstein said what he said, I headed Trader Joe's.

I love Trader Joe's. The produce is beautiful, they sell all sorts of interesting stuff you really want to try, it's healthy, organic, colorful. But the thing I love most about Trader Joe's is they carry many kosher products, some of which are hard to find anywhere else. For example, you can buy grape juice boxes that are kosher. It is harder to make grape juice kosher than other kinds of juice, so there are brands of juice boxes that have a hekhsher (that's the symbol showing it to be kosher; includes the U in a circle, the K in a star, and a host of others) on all varieties except those containing grape juice. Trader Joe's has kosher grape.

Best of all, Trader Joe's actually carries varieties of kosher meat, for which I'd have to travel much farther. I should note here that there are those who would not consider meat Trader Joe's sells as kosher, even if it is packaged by a kosher manufacturer/distributor and clearly labeled. This is because Trader Joe's is open on the Sabbath, and so can't really be trusted (topic for another post? oh yes). I am willing to overlook this, given how much kosher stuff TJ's puts on their shelves, the balloons they give my kids, and ... their challah. Oh, the challah. It is SO GOOD. I bought a challah, and some kosher chicken, and that evening, while chanting the kiddush, my elder boy looked over my shoulder and sang with me.

No, he wasn't really reading the words. He couldn't read that tiny English print, let alone the Hebrew, which he's only barely started learning. But he sort of pretended. He wants to learn this, folks. It's clicking; we are starting to identify with the Jew-related things...this is important to Mommy, this is something special that sets me apart, I want to learn more about this, etc.

I know it's possible to teach kids about their faith and get them to want to participate, without having them tell their friends years later, "yeah, I'm Jewish, but my parents forced it down my throat!" I heard kids say these words about their upbringing (Jewish and not), so this worries me. I think everyone rebels; the key is to make sure the connection is there, somewhere, so that the rebellion ends up as nothing but a temporary exception, an experiment that ultimately fails, and then the child is finally sure where he belongs.


P.S. Here and there I'll be highlighting songs from Playlist 40. This is a song list I created for the occasion of my 40th birthday. Most of the songs have a connection to some event or period of time in my life. Many genres and eras are represented; something for everyone! I'm sure you'll find the stories are absolutely fascinating.

This is Tom Tom Club, founded by Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads. This song brings back memories of riding the bus to school, since it crossed over into the scope of my bus driver's favorite station, which never would have played Talking Heads in a million years. It also reminds me of the time I went to see Tom Tom Club and Tina W. came out onto the balcony to watch the opener. I react like a starstruck groupie to famous people, especially musician-types, so it was with jelly knees that I approached her to get an autograph.

There's no real story behind this one, but I chose it because sometimes someone puts you in the mood to shout out lyrics like "your conversation never sticks/'cause no truth in you exists/yeah, you bite before you lick/I love ya 'cause you're such a ______" A few of the Playlist 40 songs are the type you sing emphatically at someone, even if the someone isn't there to hear it. "It's moments like these I revel in."

I love The Seekers, in part because that guy playing the double bass wore the exact same glasses as my father. I've never seen this video before today but I LOVE Judith's dress. Oh, and it's a great song.

Friday, January 29, 2010


And now for a Xmas leftover:

Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny
Then a ha'penny will do
And if you haven't got a ha'penny
Then god bless you!

What I'd like to know is: Back then, did they use Cutco or Ginsu scissors to cut all those pennies in ha'?


An interesting issue came up during the "holiday season," when a coworker was Queen of Decorating for her group's seasonal party. She had put together a lovely Xmas tree, but was warned that some party attendees might be offended. The Queen turned to her trusty Jewish advisors, yours truly and mutual friend Hank Azaria, and asked what we thought of this predicament. Hank and I were in agreement that the tree would be fine.

The fact is, these parties are called something besides "Christmas" parties to be inclusive, and that's very nice. But Christmas parties are really what they are. That's fine; as non-Xmas-celebrators we're happy to celebrate with you. It would be virtually impossible to accommodate everyone's religious affiliation when planning such an event, and it's better not to try. Some Jews will hope that you will have some sort of Chanukah decorations as well, and could be offended if you don't, but since this is not a Chanukah party I see no reason to do this, and don't really find it appropriate. Keep it simple. In the same vein, I am not offended if you wish me a Merry Christmas. People get all embarrassed and apologize when they "slip" and wish a Jew a Merry Christmas. Why? We appreciate the good wishes. It's fine. I may not speak for all Jews when I say this, and if you feel differently, please comment below.


And now, on to the real nitty gritty.

I should be posting here more often, because I've succeeded in attracting a number of beautiful and intelligent readers (you!) who will abandon me if there's never anything new here. Not purposely, of course, it's just how things are out here.

It is mostly lack of time that's keeping me away, but there's something else. I have been wanting to dress up this blog with a new purpose.

I was brought up observant; a Conservative Jew. My father was our congregation's cantor. We kept kosher. When I was attending public school, my parents took me out of school on holidays. We went to synagogue on those holidays, and on many of the Sabbaths. I transferred to Jewish private school along with my sisters. I am fairly fluent in Hebrew. I spent a semester in Israel. I went to Jewish summer camps. I had truly memorable Shabbat (Sabbath) experiences at camp, in Israel, at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and at a Yeshiva University-sponsored program.

I didn't think this would ever change. At High Holidays, we would look around at all the "once-a-year" Jews and feel proud that we weren't like that. Nevertheless, quite a bit of this life slipped away from me slowly as I moved away from home, started making my own decisions, changing my priorities.

Love for my faith was always there. Whenever I was neglecting a mitzvah, or eating something forbidden, I was aware of it. But now, in trying to reenergize this part of my life, trying to make sure that my children love Judaism the way I do, and care about it, I've run into a number of obstacles; time, money, attitudes, and other impediments.

I have been looking for a way to share all this here, and to chronicle my efforts. I've seen many times how supportive the people inside the computer (now inside the phone too!) can be. But this issue is so emotionally charged for me, and I'm afraid of being judged. I don't care if you criticize my really hot showers or my questionable parenting. But about this, I care. I'm also worried about inadvertently offending someone else.

On the other hand, if I tell you about this, you'll hold me accountable. On Five Full Plates there are five bloggers each committing to losing 10 pounds in the first 10 weeks of 2010. If one or more of them don't, we'll all know about it. They will be that much more motivated because their readers are keeping watch.

This subject isn't really all that funny at first glance, but then, with inspiration, or good drugs, I might be able to work around that. I'll definitely go off on entertaining tangents.

I've already said too much. I need to go lie down, or eat chocolate, or something. Talk amongst yourselves while I'm gone.