My road from twice-a-year Jew to Torah-study groupie took 40 years. With the heady days of the High Holy Days, Sukkot and Simchat Torah still fresh in my mind, it’s worth examining how I got here. During my youth, my family and I attended synagogue only during the High Holy Days. Even then, like most adolescents, no matter the Jewish preschool, Jewish summer camp, bat mitzvah or confirmation, the rabbi’s sermon was my cue to flee the sanctuary with my sister to find the other kids in the parking lot tearing into a purloined challah snatched from the synagogue kitchen.
There is some unwritten statute of limitations on how long one can whine about a crappy childhood, a negligent parent, a few too many chicken pot pies, summers with the grandparents, days spent on Greyhound buses and with dubious caregivers and creepy neighbors. There is just a moment in an adult’s life when the complaining and sad-sacking about how our parents got divorced, or lost custody, or bailed, or otherwise stank up the joint is just kind of pathetic. Let’s face it, that moment had come and gone for me.
I was in seventh grade when my dad took me to see a Turkish movie exploring the lives of five prisoners given a week’s home leave in the aftermath of a coup d’etat.
I'm not feeding the homeless, or doing a beach cleanup, or raising money for Hadassah and ORT and the Israel Defense Forces. I'm here because my youngest son, who is 14 years old and in eighth grade, is playing goalie on a lacrosse team for his school.
The message that no action goes unnoticed or unaccounted for and that communication is essential to a healthy family and society.
"My childhood skidded to a stop on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of my 15th year, with my mother's first mammogram results," writes Hope Edelman in her moving new book, "Motherless Mothers: How Mother Loss Shapes the Parents We Become" (Harper Collins). For Edelman, her mother's illness and subsequent death from cancer two years later in 1981 were the beginning of a journey of loss, self-exploration and eventual emotional redemption that has spanned nearly a quarter-century and spawned three well-received books on the subject.
The pain and anguish of infertility has been passed down from matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel to women today. But while our traditions have given us words to say and ways to act during other lifecycle events -- death, birth, marriage -- there is little guidance for how to help a friend or loved one deal with the loss of a pregnancy or the pain and despair of infertility.
While the Shlepperellas have earned good reviews for their humor, their beginnings weren't so funny. Back in 1991, a freaked-out Schilling-Gould, then the mother of 8-month-old twins, attended a mom's support group after learning she was expecting her third child.