There are tons of stereotypes about Jewish women … the overbearing matriarch, the do-it-all maven, the neurotic meshugennah, the your-business-is-my-business yenta.
I had to look inside myself, which was kind of like looking into my high school locker: moldy half-eaten sandwich, a few loose Starburst candies, heaps of notebooks and burrito-stained gym clothes obscuring the few things of value. Sure, there’s a book of Sylvia Plath poems and a valid bus pass, but good luck finding them while avoiding that festering tuna salad from yesteryear.
In my new capacity as the son of an Alzheimer's victim, I have many questions. Some of them are Jewish questions. One kept me up for hours the other night, leading me to my bookshelf at 3 a.m., combing through volumes to see what insights I might glean. What happens to the soul during Alzheimer's?
Why are children deaf to the advice parents offer, and why does it take so many years before we understand the true value of our parent's wisdom?
The biological mystery of unlike offspring from the same parents is the challenge of parenting some children.
Hours before the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah went into effect, Israel Defense Forces tank commander Uri Grossman, the son of acclaimed Israeli novelist David Grossman, was killed by an Hezbollah anti-tank missile. This is an excerpt of the eulogy David Grossman delivered at his son's funeral.
Despite our tradition that sets the 13th year as the start of adulthood, 13 is not the end of childhood or the beginning of adulthood. Instead, it is the start of a new stage -- teenager. Neither an adult nor child, a teenager is like Dr. Doolittle's Push-Me, Pull-You: Sometimes he seems to be pushing toward adulthood, and at other times he is pulling back toward childhood.
Is our culture trying to scam us into having kids?
This is an epic question and I only have 850 words, so let me start close to home, with my grandma.
"Listen to me," she said last week over the phone from Reseda. "You have to have kids. You'll never regret it. It's the best thing you'll ever do. Listen to your grandma."
Catch any celebrity parent on a talk show and you're likely to hear the same sentiment about the singularly life-changing effects of parenthood. When Jude Law, Eminem, Denise Richards and Esther Strasser agree on something, you have to give it consideration.
I was raised on Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx by a woman who could have taken Olympic gold in Jewish mothering. Sonia, Abie-the-tailor's wife, never stopped fearing for my life.
When I read the Torah, I see two things:
A war is brewing. A minority in our midst is being actively persecuted. Society fears and loathes them. The government is using legislation to identify them and the military to hunt, contain and kill them. This is not Nazi Germany. This is America.
On Shavuot, we read special sections from the Torah. One of those is the Ten Commandments. The first five are engraved on the right tablet. The second five on the left. The first five, according to the rabbis, fall into the category of commandments "between humans and God" -- like: Do not make idols or worship other gods. The second five fall into the category of "between human and human." But the commandment "Honor thy father and mother" is on the second tablet. Is this a commandment between humans and God?
A gruesome scandal at two Jewish cemeteries in Florida may have implications at a cemetery near you.
A class-action lawsuit alleges that Menorah Gardens oversold space at its Palm Beach County cemetery and at another cemetery in Broward County.
As a longtime Jewish Community Center (JCC) devotee and one-time Hollywood-Los Feliz director, I find our community's possible loss of any part of the JCC system as tragic and appalling ("Flourish, Not Fail" and "JCCs in Jeopardy," Nov. 30).
For the past three years, in meetings that often go toward midnight, a handful of local parents, educators and community leaders have been coming together to plan Los Angeles' next non-Orthodox Jewish high school.
Now it has come to pass. Late last month, the Core Group, as the parents call themselves, announced the September 2002 opening of the New Community Jewish High School in the West Valley.
The two voices began screaming inside Murray Mednick's head the minute he sat down to write a play some years ago. The characters were arguing viciously about money.
They sounded alarmingly familiar.
For the child whose parent has been diagnosed with cancer, each day becomes fraught with uncertainty -- will Mom or Dad be there today when I get home from school, or back in the hospital? Will Dad be too sick to come to my softball game? Why does Mom have to take that medicine that makes her feel so bad? Isn't medicine supposed to make you feel better? All kinds of questions culminate in that most sinister and heartbreaking of all queries, lurking like a spider in the corner of the child's mind: Is my Mom (or Dad) going to die?
First comes love, then comes marriage. But when baby makes three, an interfaith couple has to face hard decisions about their child's religious upbringing.
Shirley Levine is a woman with many admirers. She was the founding principal of both Abraham Joshua Heschel Day Schools in Northridge and Agoura and has been dedicated to their success for more than 25 years. Just speak with one of the many parents whose children attend one of the Heschel schools and he or she will be quick to list her talents.
Each November, Valley Beth Shalom holds a meeting at which its youth director urges parents to send their teenagers on a summer trip to Israel. In 1999, more than 100 families attended. This past November, there were only eight. The low turnout appears to reflect parental anxiety over safety issues in the Middle East. Lisa Kaplan, who heads The Jewish Federation's Israel Experience Program office, explains that "in times of peace, the students make the decision. In difficult times, the parents make the decision."
We were too late for the early bird special at the Swiss Chalet restaurant in Delray Beach, Fla., but there was a line anyway for the roast chicken that is widely acclaimed as being almost as good as my mother's.
The government of Israel has wisely chosen to cooperate with a U.S.-led international commission that began investigating Israeli-Palestinian violence this week. Led by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, the commission hopes its work will reduce the violence in the region and lead the parties back to the negotiating table.
I have three sisters, two older and one younger. My youngest sister, Debbie, was born when I was 8 years old. In the months leading up to her birth, I remember clearly the anxiety I felt over the possibility that it might turn out to be a boy and I might end up with a brother.
It's a cautionary tale for parents, and one whose message will resonate with children: the new DreamWorks telling of the biblical tale of Joseph in the animated direct-to-video film "Joseph: King of Dreams."In a style similar to that of "The Prince of Egypt," which told the story of Moses, "Joseph: King of Dreams" imagines the childhood of Joseph and illustrates the dangers of favoring one child and the extremes to which sibling rivalry can lead. Animated by their jealousy, Joseph's brothers sell their preferred brother to Egyptian slave traders. It's an act they come to regret.
They say you can never go home again.
Well, you can. Only you might find yourself staying at a Travelodge, driving a rented Ford Contour and staking out your childhood home like some noir private eye just trying to catch a glimpse of the Johnny-come-latelys that are now living in your house.
"I was in all of one spelling bee in my life," confides Myla Goldberg, the author of "Bee Season," who'll read from her stunning debut novel at the Jewish Book Festival this week. The overachiever was in the fourth grade, and she smugly expected to win - until she was asked to spell "tomorrow," her Achilles-heel word. She spelled it "tomarrow."
These are tense days for the Los Angeles parents of Jewish students studying at Israeli universities and yeshivas. Their sons and daughters are among some 4,000 Americans studying in Israel this year in a wide range of programs. Major universities, yeshivas, kibbutzim, the Israel Defense Force are just a few of the institutions that offer American students programs in Israel. According to the Israel Aliyah Center, there are l00 students from Los Angeles currently studying in Israel.
I've been thinking about sex.
Now that I'm over 50, I'm enjoying sex more than I did in my youth. Will the fun last, I wonder?
Four years ago, when Robyn Ritter Simon's eldest son was ready to start kindergarten, she looked at her local public school and found it lacking. It was not that Canfield Elementary School fell short academically. The Simons live in a West Los Angeles neighborhood that is heavily Jewish and her son would have been one of the few white children -- and perhaps the only Jewish child -- in his class.
The midrash says that poverty is the worst of all afflictions. But I think it's something else -- loneliness.
Halloween celebrations and trick-or-treating: just clean fun or forbidden anti-Jewish activities? Like most issues in the Jewish community, it depends on who you ask. And not surprisingly, a Jewish school's stand on Halloween observance may not be shared by the students or their parents.
I remember how amazed I was by the story. Tom and Pauline Nichter and their 11-year-old son, Jason, were on the nightly news, speaking with reporters from the police station.
When my mother discovered that she had left her hearing aid back in her apartment, on the 28th floor of the Northshore Towers in Queens, N.Y., I thought for sure that meant we would miss the bus into Manhattan and, as a result, could forget about seeing "The Lion King."
Until children reach a certain age, parents seethem simply as beloved offspring. Flesh of their flesh. Withbittersweet nostalgia, they remember all, from the Gerber days tograduation day.
But then it happens: the transformation.
Israel has always meant a lot to my parents, butit was my mother who took the Jewish state personally. She waspregnant at the time Israel was being created, in the spring of 1948,and to this day, she still describes the joy -- the triumph! -- ofbringing a new life into a world where the blue-and-white flag couldproudly fly.
My son, Jason,called the other day and jokingly said that I didn't keep myword.
Ethan Gura doesn't remember his sister. Still, he cannot forgether. He can't forget that Rebecca Alexandra Gura died in 1991 after afour and a half year battle with leukemia. She was then six yearsold. He was three.
Child rearing, it turns out, is a relatively short-term project. The truth is that we don't have them for very long. Eighteen years, that's all. Eighteen years, from birth until they move away to Stanford. If your child is 5, you've got 13 years left. If your child is 8, you've got 10 years. If your child is 11,you've got only seven years -- just a few years to put them to bed with a story and a song, to make them breakfast, to stick artwork upon the fridge.
Once, I was a revolutionary. I belonged to the generation of long hair and crazy ideas. We did more than invent rock music and protest an unjust war. We believed that we could create a new society, populated by new people -- people freed of the prejudices and life-choking rigidities of the past. We believed that we could change the world, and bring greening to America.
America did change. But our dream went unfulfilled.
Letters to Deborah Berger.
What's the biggest problem facing today's high school graduate? Separating fantasy from reality. And television is the culprit.