Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Verbal snapshots of Israel, part 3


Israelis have done an excellent job of designing traffic patterns in such a manner that pedestrians and vehicles never have green/walk lights at the same time. Crossing the street is safer here. I was very impressed.

In addition, Israeli buses have "stop" buttons on the standees' poles on the aisles. Standees don't have to lean over the seats and practically fall into people's laps to push the "stop" button or pull the "stop" cord. That's really nice.

And the group taxis--moniyot sherut (?)--are a great idea. Unless the passenger has a ton of luggage, why put only one person in a taxi when the taxi can carry four people and enable them to split the tab?

Lifnei iver . . .

On the other hand, the US is way ahead of Israel in one area. The Torah (Bible, "teaching") tells us, "You must not mock the deaf, nor place a stumbling block in front of the blind (Vayikra K'doshim, Leviticus chapter 19, verse 14). Never mind the rabbinic interpretation--this is one of the few commands of the Torah that I accept literally. When my parents first made aliyah ("went up"--moved to Israel) almost 20 years ago, my mother expressed her dismay that a country with so many disabled war veterans made so few accommodations for persons with disabilities. To this day, the quantity of madrégot (stairs) and the dirth of maaliyot (elevators, lifts) make life difficult for the elderly and persons with mobility challenges. Having a ground-floor apartment is no guarantee of accessibility: One must climb both steep ramps and stairs even to get to the ground floor of my parents' apartment building.

At the Israel Museum, which has wonderful exhibits, we were taken aback to see that almost all of the stairs were painted pitch black, creating an unnecessary hazard for people with limited vision like N., who, according to American law, is legally blind. N., who works with the blind, told us that, fortunately, Israel is becoming more conscious of the necessity of providing accommodations for persons with disabilities. I hope that the Israeli government will catch up to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 within a reasonable time.

Shalom, lo l'hitraot?--Goodby, not until we see one another again?

On Monday, I walked out of my parents' apartment blinking away tears. "Your presence must have jogged Dad's memory--I haven't seen him in such good shape in months," said my brother. "Don't bother coming back next year--he won't know you by then." My father can no longer remember much for long. One has to repeat things to him six times in the space of an hour. At one point, he mistook me for N., and, at another, he thought I was one of my brother's daughters. And my mother is as thin as a rail: Every few years, she has a major illness, loses weight, and never regains it. Mom is so frail that she can't manage physically without Dad, and Dad needs Mom to do the thinking. No matter who goes first, the other will be hard-pressed to live alone without help. I'm typing this through tears--I don't know whether I'll ever see either of them again.

Verbal snapshots of Israel, part 2

V'achalta, v'savata--you will eat and be satisfied

Indeed, we did and we were (^), and we were thankful that this good land produces such delicious fruit and vegetables. People eat salads by the kilo here, and the cucumbers are wonderful.

S. said that fruit and veggies may be harder to find this winter because of the demolition of the hothouses for which Gush Katif was well-known.

Baruch. . . malbish arumim--Praised (is the One who) clothes the naked

You name the clothing style, we saw it--Jewish, Muslim, Christian, from sidewalk-sweeper skirts, covered arms, and necklines near the collarbone to bare midriffs, bare arms, low-cut tops, and anything else you can name. There were far more women in pants that went just below the knees than one sees in the US, and far fewer in shorts.

N. explained, in response to my query, that a woman who wears a skirt over pants is probably Arab.

While many married religious Jewish women worldwide cover at least part of their hair for reasons of modesty, in Israel, many girls and unmarried Jewish women also wear hats or scarves because of the heat. But the most unusual combination I saw was the clothing of a woman with her kippah- (yarmulke, skullcap) clad son in a stroller: She was wearing a skirt covering her knees, a scarf--and a sleeveless blouse. N. theorized that she was the less religious spouse in what passes for a "mixed" marriage in Israel.

Bet Yisrael--the House of Israel

Well, I've covered food and clothing, so shelter is next. Concerning those missing maaliyot (elevators, lifts), N. said that, by law, any building over four stories high must have a maalit. As a consequence, because the cost of installing and maintaining a maalit (elevator, lift) is prohitive, most apartment buildings have no more than four floors.

Aside from being walk-ups, many apartment buildings are much smaller than what we're used to in New York. There don't seem to be so many buildings with long halls. Many seem to stagger the apartments, with one or two on each landing.Most apartments have "recreational" and/or "utility" mirpasot. On a "recreational" mirpeset , you can sit and enjoy the view and catch a breeze. One uses a "utility" mirpeset (balcony) to hang the laundry and/or as a storage area. One doesn't need a clothes dryer in Yerushalayim during the dry season/summertime--the laundry air-dries very nicely in the dry, ninety-plus degree Fahrenheit weather. But S. told me that one does need a drier during the rainy season/winter.

One thing I remember reading about in Hadassah Magazine (my mother made me a life member decades ago) a while back is the Israeli method of cleaning floors. You stick a bucket under a sink faucet--and faucets are located much higher above sinks in Israel than in the US for that reason--fill it with water and cleaner, dump some water directly onto the floor (there's a dirth of carpeting in apartments here), wrap a rag around an oversized squeegie called a "goomie" (from "goom," rubber), wash and rinse the floor, take off the rag, and squeegie off the excess water. Where you squeegie it to (if you'll pardon my grammar) is another matter. In some homes, there's a grate-covered open drain pipe. But some apartments are not so well equipped. We actually personally witnessed a man squeegeeing the water out of his apartment and onto the landing and leaving it there to drip down two flights of stairs, creating a safety hazard.

I did not notice any evidence of cleaning staff for the public areas. I don't quite know how the condo owners handle that. I do know that few buildings have management companies--the residents have rotating committees to deal with maintenance issues. Poor N. is currently working with her fellow management-committee members to get a permanent replacement for a broken water pipe. The permanent repair is going to cost the residents of her building a fortune.

See part 3 for the continuation.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Verbal snapshots of Israel

Sorry, folks. I know you were hoping for real photos. But, as you can see, I haven't even figured out how to set up a sidebar yet, much less do anything as high-tech as posting pictures. To be honest, it's a matter of priorities: I'd rather write my own posts and read everyone else's than take several hours to learn HTML. Maybe I'll give it a try when we return from driving our son back to college. In the meantime, I'm posting a few observations, including some new Hebrew words--and one Arabic one--that I picked up on this trip (and a few from before). So, on with the show. Yalah--let's go. (Yep, my nieces and nephew confirmed that that's an Arabic word, just as I thought.)

Update: On my way through the dashboard, I noticed a link for "how to add photos." I'll try that when we return from taking our son back to college.

I also enabled the adding of "word verification" to my comments. Since I recently received my first "comment spam"--some idiot posted an ad in my comments--I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to do one of those "read this word and type it" things--apparently, computerized automatic spam can't follow those instructions, so it's a spam-blocker. I'm sorry to ask you to add an extra step when you post comments, but I have no desire to have my comments used as someone's billboard.

The Hitnatkut

Since, unfortunately, we arrived in the middle of the disengagement from Gush Katif, the first thing I noticed was that everyone was listening to the news. No music, just news. In the monit (taxi) to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). On the bus, where drivers frequently play their radios loudly enough for everyone to hear. In my parents' dirah (apartment), where we watched an English-language TV station.

My Israeli brother, S. (I also have a brother in California), who served as our tour guide for two days and with whom we spent our first Shabbat (Sabbath), told me that he usually uses his drive time to meditate, but he, too, listened to the news that week. He had to turn it off every 15 minutes or so, though--it got him too upset.

My nephew, A. Y., who's entering his second pre-Tzahal (Israel Defense Force) year of combined community service and study, spent a few days this past week playing with some of the Gush Katif kids whose families are currently being housed in hotels.

Bal Tashchit

The second thing I noticed were the solar water heaters. Israelis obey the prohibition against wastefulness because they don't have much choice. N., my ex-sister-in-law, who was our tour guide for two days and with whom we spent our second Shabbat, told us that solar water heaters don't save homeowners money, but that they're required by law because they reduce Israel's oil consumption by 5%.

On a related noted, S. told me that Israelis drive manual-shift vehicles because they use less gas.

Shir HaMaalot--A Song of Ascents

The third thing I noticed were the madrégot. They were pretty hard to miss, since the apartment my parents' friends had lent to us was up several flights of them. So up we climbed, madrégah after madrégah. Sometimes it seemed that everything in Israel is komah l'maalah (a flight up), never komah l'mata (a flight down). Everyone climbs stairs in Israel, for lack of an alternative: We were in Israel for four days before we saw our first maalit.

More about madrégot later.

I also joked with my younger niece, L., that Yerushalayim is the San Francisco of Israel because of all the hills. N. later joked that the hills of Yerushalayim only go up, never down. :)

See part 2 for the continuation.

The Moon (some poems of mine)

We landed this afternoon from Israel and are leaving on Thursday to take the Young Scientist back to college. In the interim, I have photos to upload and a few words to post.

Here are two poems that I published on a message board a few years ago, followed by a related poem that I wrote in Jerusalem two Saturday nights ago.

posted 12-22-1999 09:40 PM

"Moon Over Manhattan"

It's a cloudy night in the city
The sky is dark blue
There's not a star to be seen
But high above
The crescent moon smiles down on me

"Moon Over Pennsauken"

It's years ago
I'm in my thirties
Visiting my parents in the house in which I grew up
In the South Jersey suburbs
They send me out to mail a letter
and I get an unpleasant surprise
The walk to the corner mailbox at night never bothered me
when I was growing up here
But I've lived in the city for years
and I miss my city lights
The moon alone is not enough to light the sky
It's pitch black out here
I'm not used to it anymore
and I'm scared

Saturday, August 20, 2005

"Moon over Jerusalem"

We came now because we had no choice
But what a time to arrive in Israel--
in the middle of the hitnatkut
For two nights, we watched the sad news of the removal of the settlers from Gush Katif
with my parents, on an English-language TV station
But now, it's motz'ei Shabbat, the night after the Sabbath
Saturday night after sundown
We're had a day of quiet to reflect

In my mind's ear, I hear Debbie Friedman singing of
the healing in the water of Miriam's Well
But I don't see a well
What I see is the moon
Shining full, bright, and beautiful
over Yerushalayim
May HaShem, who created the moon that lights our darkest hours,
grant peace and healing in the land of our Fathers and Mothers,
the land of my brother's children


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"See you in September": "Artza Alinu" (more or less--we're just visiting)

We don't expect to have Internet access while we're visiting my parents (not to mention my brother, my nieces and my nephew) in Israel, so I'll just have to tell you about our trip later. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Hitnatkut (a poem)

The end of Tisha B'Av approaches
Torrents of rain pour from the heavens
As if HaShem Himself were weeping
over the destruction of the daughter of his people
and now

Why demonize them?
They were told to move there
Maybe that decision was right
Maybe it was wrong
What difference does that make now?

Human beings are losing their homes
Children, their schools, their playgrounds
People, their shuls
Some, their livelihoods

Even the cemeteries are no longer sacrosanct

A voice is heard in Ramah
Lamentation, and bitter weeping
Rachel weeping for her children
She refuses to be comforted for her children

Because they must return to their borders.
See his Sunday, August 14, 2005 post, "The Power of Prayer, reconciliation and dignity"
See his Thursday, August 11, 2005 post, "Neither a Toy, nor a Game"


Concerning sinat chinam: My husband's D'var Torah on Shabbat Chazon

Perhaps my favorite part of the Chumash is the very beginning of it. However, I never get a chance to comment on it because the Rabbi is always here at that time of the year. So, today, I am going to use the story of Cain and Abel as my takeoff point. After Adam and Eve are thrown out of the Garden of Eden, Eve conceives and gives birth to Cain, then to Abel. Cain becomes a farmer and Abel becomes a shepherd. Those are the two major occupations of earliest society. As such, Cain and Abel represent the two opposing forces of the Jew. The tolerant force and the hostile force. The text tells that Abel brought of his best flocks, but does not say how Cain chose which of his fruits to sacrifice. G-d chose to favor Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s. As a result, Cain became angry and killed Abel. As punishment, Cain was to be a ceaseless wanderer, but to keep him alive, G-d put a mark on him.

Later on, the earliest Hebrews left the Holy Land and became slaves in Egypt, until G-d decided it was time to get them out and bring them back to the Holy Land. The Garden of Eden can be symbolic of the Holy Land. On the way back, we see the same forces among the Israelites as between Cain and Abel. Moses had a deuce of a time dealing with those who kept complaining that they were taken out of Egypt to die in the desert. There were threats against Moses’ authority.

Roughly fifteen hundred years later, during the second temple era, different sects of Judaism had arisen that were opposed to each other. Some were in cahoots with the Romans. Early Christianity arose during that conflict which was to be a menace to Jews during the upcoming exile. The main point was that Jews hated Jews and that led to the destruction of the temple and dispersion. Cain again was killing Able and Cain became a ceaseless wanderer, living in hostile lands outside the Holy Land. Which was worse, idol worship which led to destruction of the first temple or causeless hatred which led to the destruction of the second temple? Evidently, this causeless hatred turned out to be a worse desecration of G-d’s name.

Now, let’s come to the present. The Jews have lived through two thousand years of ceaseless wandering and now by force of history have possession of the Holy Land again. We still are seeing those same two forces today, represented by pluralism and fundamentalism. Particularly in the last twenty years, we see a split in the Jewish community between the religious and non-religious, the Orthodox and non-orthodox, the Haredi and other orthodox groups. They are co-existing today in Israel and America and elsewhere. But for how long? Each criticizes the other’s life styles, styles of davening, clothing, studying, and the list goes on and it gets ugly. When I was in Israel back in 1978, I noticed then a tug of war between the two opposing forces. I thought to myself then that if the Palestinian problem is ever solved, the two opposing forces will destroy the country from within in ways in which the Arabs could never do it. Since then we had an assassination of a Prime Minister over issues related to these opposing forces. I shudder to think of what I may see when I go there next week, during the proposed Gaza pullout with the hope of making peace with the Arabs. This Cain vs Abel conflict is putting the Israel on the brink of a civil war which will destroy it.

Think about that when lamenting for the temple tonight and tomorrow. Ask yourself these questions: Do we deserve a temple today? Should its mode of worship be left in history? Which force is Cain and which is Abel? Should we better be praying for a reconciliation o.f Jewry?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Some semblance of poetry--quality not guaranteed

"Beauty and the Beast"

I ride the beast over the Manhattan bridge
My gaze goes south
to the beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge
and the waters of the East River flowing 'neath it
and the barge in the water
and the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan
(Sadly, the Towers are long gone
and all the people in them
destroyed on a day as lovely as today)

There’s the playground on the Brooklyn bank
its equipment embellished with fake sails
What a delight to the eyes of the children!
The sun shines
Baruch yotzer or

The train descends from the bridge
The last thing I see before re-entering the tunnel
before leaving the light and re-entering the darkness
are the trees
I'll see many more, when we re-emerge into the light
Of the open-air sections of this subway line
When I first moved to New York, I was surprised
"What do you mean, 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'?"
Lots of trees grow in Brooklyn!
I just didn't get it
It wasn't until many years later
that I finally read the book by that name

Hurry, hurry, hurry!
I'm late, and my boss of the day
The "black-hat" one
Anxiously awaits my arrival

Hey, hey, hey
Another glorious Friday
with the Brooklyn crew
And, at 2
Shabbat shalom to all of you

And here's wishing you
an easy fast, too

“A Tree Grows in” . . . the Midwest

The workday is done
I’m across the street, half a block from my office
Wandering around the kosher candy store
Breathing chocolate
I can’t buy any chocolate today
The fast day of Tisha B’Av is only two days away
Gotta get off the caffeine
Still, I can’t get that silly grin off my face
Standing in a candy store
I can’t help thinking of the name of a certain “tree” from the Midwest
about to be transplanted
Looking, looking, looking
I don’t see any
Finally, I head for the cashier
Bags of peanut brittle and unsulphured dried pineapple in hand
And ask the question
That’s been on my mind since I walked in the door
“Do you sell fudge, by any chance?”
Why am I not surprised?
Fudge is a rare commodity.

Welcome to New York!

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me . . .”

There they were
Splashed all over the pages of the
latest TV guide
The Beatles
Young and cute
Just as I remember them from my teenage years
All four of them
All four

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me
when I’m sixty-four?”
How sad
that two of them didn’t even make it that far

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me
when I’m sixty-four?”
Well, I guess so
Since you’re almost there already
Baruch haShem

In fact, I hope I’ll still be feeding you
When you’re ninety-four


Tisha B'Av and the hitnatkut: Concerning (and concerned about) Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred)

This is an excerpt of a comment that I read on someone else's blog that upset me. "I heard of such a women's minyan in _____ when my sister was living there. My question is [1] why would you want to? and [b] don't you have anything better to do? There are plenty of things that are broken and need fixing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I have no problem with the fact that there are many in the Jewish community who are far more traditional than I. But I do have a problem with people lobbing insults at one another because of differences of opinion and/or practice. As I e-mailed her, "If there's one thing that I've learned in my twenty years as an egalitarian member of a traditional Conservative synagogue, it's to try to avoid showing disrespect toward those with whom I disagree. We're all in this together. Talk about "slippery slopes," why let differences in haskafah [viewpoint, approach] lead to lashon hara ["evil speech"]?"

Here we are, about to commemorate the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash (Holy Temple in Jerusalem), which, according to rabbinic tradition, was destroyed because of sinat chinam, baseless hatred. And yet, we indulge in sinat chinam?!

As the Out of Step Jew from Kfar Saba said in his Tuesday, June 21, 2005 post, Not the Worst Thing,, "Maybe its time we toned down the emotions a bit . . ."

We are going to be in Israel shortly after the official start of the hitnatkut (I hope I got the spelling right), the withdrawal from Gaza. I fear for my people, both Am Israel (the Jewish People) and Am Eretz Yisrael (the people of the Land of Israel), if we continue to treat one another with such disrespect. I pray that our differences of opinion—religious, political, and any combination of the aforementioned—not tear us apart.

"There are plenty of things that are broken and need fixing." Sinat chinam is one of them. So let's fix it. Together. Please.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Why we need Modern Orthodoxy (hyperlink provided by Psycho Toddler)

This is a "must-read." Just go.

Why we need Modern Orthodoxy

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Simcha inflation

Is there a correlation between the closing of the Orthodox mind and the opening of the Orthodox wallet?

I had a most enlightening conversation with a member of our staff who describes herself as being of "B'nei Edot haMizrach," which I think translates roughly as "Children of the Communities of the East." I was trying to determine whether the term "simcha dance" might be a term used largely in Ashkenazi Jewish circles, as I had gotten a blank stare from one of our Orthodox Jewish part-timers from the Bukharan community when I'd mentioned to her that I was choreographing a simcha dance. "What's a simcha dance?," said my Bat Edot haMizrach co-worker. "Well, that answers that question." When I explained that a simcha dance was a dance that one did at simchas (weddings, Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration parties, etc.), she explained that her community called these, simply, dances. "We don't go to clubs. What else would they be?"

I got to thinking about that in connection with Mark's/PT's comment to my Sunday, July 31, 2005 post, "The new Qumran community" ( He's of the opinion that some among the Orthodox community think that "Judaism should be "All Torah All the Time" and anything else is evil, including books, tv, internet, games, music...pretty much anything that you might "enjoy" outside of the bais medresh."

If that's the case, what else can one enjoy in life other than the few things that haven't (yet) been declared treif (not kosher, forbidden), namely, food, clothing (the fancier, the better, so that one can show off at shul [synagogue]), shelter (the home that helps one keep up with the Yonatans), ritual objects (why spend the money on, say, tzedakah [charity], when one can own an $800 foot-tall sterling silver Chanukiyah (Chanukah menorah/candelabra) instead?), and, yes, simchas/joyous events (the fancier, the better, to keep up with the Yonatans).

Years ago, my best friend and I used to walk home from shul after Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday night Sabbath Eve) services with the cantor emeritus of my former synagogue. His name was Chazzan Moshe Nathanson. You may not be familiar with his name, but you may be familiar with his music. He took an old Chassidic niggun (wordless song) and wrote lyrics for it: It's now known as Hava Nagila. But the achievement of which he was most proud was the fact that one of his musical compositions had become so well known that people in the kosher-hotel dining rooms in which he ate, occasionally, told him, when he asked, that the tune was "MiSinai," so old as to be thought to have been given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The musical composition of which he was speaking was the music to the first brachah (blessing) of Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals), the one that ends "Hazan et ha-kol." (That's a long introduction to the matter in question, granted, but it was a fun tangent, I hope.) Cantor Nathanson once told us that, when it was time for him to have his Bar Mitzvah celebration, all that happened was that they told him, a week before, that he'd be chanting the haftarah (reading from the Prophets). That was it. No big deal. No party. He didn't have a Bar Mitzvah, he became a Bar Mitzvah, which is as it should be.

Temping as I do for an Orthodox Jewish organization, I've heard some interesting things. People talk about "making" a bris. I always thought that a bris was something that an eight-day-old Jewish boy had. Since when is a bris/brit/ritual circumcision made? Now you have to put out a "spread?" What's wrong with good old bagels and cream cheese (or the Sefardi equivalent thereof)? Who are they trying to impress? I'm sure the poor baby boy doesn't care!

And, a few months ago, the Out of Step Jew from Kfar Saba wrote on his blog ( about the new custom of inviting friends and family to a small shindig after the first time that one's son lays tefillin (puts on phylacteries), about a month before the boy's Bar Mitzvah celebration. As if the Bar Mitzvah celebration doesn't cost enough money these days, now one is expected to invite family and friends to a siyum mitzvah (meal celebration the fulfillment of a commandment) before the boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah?!

On the other hand, it's debatable whether simcha inflation is any worse among the Orthodox than among the non-Orthodox, so maybe my central thesis is completely off-base. I can't remember exactly how much my girlfriend told me she was spending for flowers for her wedding, but I remember that it was a figure large enough to make my jaw drop. She and her husband were married in, and they're now members of, a Conservative shul. I've been to many a lavish Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebration "made" by Conservative and Reform families. And the last bris I attended—fleischig (they served meat), no less—was "made" by a Conservative family.

On the third hand :), there's another legitimate issue involved in the question of what constitutes the appropriate way to celebrate a simcha. Several years ago, a tax was put on luxury boats. Sure, it brought in some revenue. But it also had the unexpected and unintented consequence of putting hundreds of luxury-boat builders out of business almost overnight. Is my attitude one that would deprive a Jewish artist of his/her parnassah (livelihood)? If folks who are fortunate enough to be able to afford to do so don't buy $800 foot-tall sterling silver Chanukiyot, will the lack of customers put a legitimate Jewish artist out of business? If a rabbi declares that having music at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah party is against the "sumptuary laws" (rules that attempt to eliminate the keeping-up-with-the-Yonatan's problem by limiting the amount of money that can be spent for certain things), wouldn't such a ruling deprive all the local Jewish musicians of dozens of gigs every year (in addition to depriving the community ofthe opportunity to hear some good music)?

How does one balance the desire of the community at large to enjoy a good time—especially in right-wing Orthodox circles, in which simchas are among the few "good times" that are still permissible—with the need to take the pressure off of families that aren't so able to afford the expense, as well as with the need to put something aside for tzedakah?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

In honor of my first "blog-o-versary," here are my favorite posts from my first year as a blogger

I had originally intended to post almost exclusively about Judaism, mostly parshat ha-shavuah (weekly-Bible-reading) posts. This has turned out to be an interesting adventure in exploring not only Judaism, but also family (by birth, by marriage, and by motherhood), work, and all manner of unexpected subjects. The following are my favorite posts of my first year as a blogger. Feel free to have a look at whatever interests you that you may have missed. (Yeah, I know this post is way too long. Sorry.)


Thursday, August 05, 2004, Hashirim asher l’Shlomo—An intro to Italian Jewish composer Salamone Rossi:


A Wig and a Prayer” from August 3, 2005; RUNNER UP: “We Have Six,” from July 26, 2005 (but it helps to be a Babylon 5 fan for that one [Mark and C, don’t shoot me. :) ]).


Saturday, May 14, 2005, Laugh of the day: Well, a cup is a cup . . . :):


Tuesday, August 03, 2004, My Life as a Misfit:

Wednesday, August 04, 2004, Va-etchanan: “. . . ein od mil’vado”—On religious intolerance:

Thursday, August 12, 2004, Liturgical unity—pros, cons, and compromises:

Monday, August 16, 2004, Re-eh: Permission to enjoy (later disputed?):

Monday, August 23, 2004, Shoftim: Sparing the fruit trees, and little else, part 2 [re “simcha inflation”]:

Thursday, October 14, 2004, Men in Halachah—Shirking their responsibilities [re “kol isha”]:

Thursday, October 14, 2004, Men in Halachah—Shirking their responsibilities, part 2 [re aliyot for women]:

Saturday, January 01, 2005, “Meteorological Judaism,” or Reward and Punishment: What did *anyone* do to deserve a tsunami?:

Saturday, January 29, 2005, Parshat Yitro: On “outside” influence—if it was good enough for Moshe Rabbenu . . . [re the rabbinic ban on Slifkin’s Torah-and-science books as heresy, etc.]:

Wednesday, January 26, 2005, Morning madness--on davvenning Shacharit:

Sunday, March 06, 2005, Nothing to help us pray: Women and the Sh’ma—davvenning in the abstract [re tallit and tefillin]:

Sunday, March 27, 2005, Poetic license??!—in which the siddur (prayerbook) contradicts Torah she-bichtav (the Written Law):

Sunday, April 03, 2005, Mnemonic devices (memory aids) for Jewish ritual:

Wednesday, April 13, 2005, “The flowers that bloom in the spring (tra la)” have something to do with the King:

Sunday, May 29, 2005, Ivdu et HaShem b'simchah, bo-u l'fanav birnanah--Dancing in HaShem’s light: (doubles as a Jewish-music post)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005, Sefirah: Concerning the "Carlebach Clause"—on respecting another person's hashkafah: (doubles as a Jewish-music post)

Sunday, June 12, 2005, Tikkun Lel Shavuot prep: I’m writing something resembling a d’var Torah on the connection between Tamar, Ruth (& her fearless leader, Naomi),& agunot:

Friday, June 17, 2005, A Little Nusach Music: What I learned at the Tikkun Lel Shavuot: (doubles as a Jewish-music post)

Thursday, June 23, 2005, Rabbinical priorities: High—forbidden fruit (and veggies, and water . . .); low—agunot, unrecognized converts:

Wednesday, June 29, 2005, Friday Night Lights, by Esther Kustanowitz [as a Jewish woman, I look back on my years as a single—and do not look forward to the “rerun” called widowhood]:

Sunday, July 31, 2005, The new Qumran community [re a distressing trend toward asceticism in the Orthodox world]:


Tuesday, August 03, 2004, So glad you could join us: An egalitarian mom & her toddler are cordially invited to stay home:

Tuesday, August 03, 2004, “Little House on the Prairie”:

My ten-part series on raising a child with disabilities, which starts here:

Sunday, February 20, 2005, Park your ego at the door: On raising a child with disabilities:

. . . and ends here:

Sunday, March 20, 2005, On raising a child with disabilities, part 10: In which I say that it could have been worse, and dedicate this series:

(See also Z’s series, “When Something’s Wrong,” on raising a child with autism, at . [Being more technologically adept than I, she has links to her entire series in her sidebar.] We “riffed” off each other in writing these posts.)

Friday, April 29, 2005, Parenting 101:

Monday, May 30, 2005, Star Wars, Schmar Wars—Our son’s the real deal :):

Thursday, July 14, 2005, “Someone Else’s Place” [in which I express concern for the child of a couple of other bloggers]:

Monday, July 18, 2005, V’la-boker rina? A lament for the daughter of one of my dearest friends, whose life lies in ruins:


Sunday, March 20, 2005, Crystal ball—a look at my future: (doubles as a post about my marriage)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005, “Motherless Child”:

Friday, May 06, 2005, Going it alone, part 2 (for part 1, see “Motherless Child”):

Wednesday, July 06, 2005, Long time no see: In which I confess to being a very bad daughter:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005, "We have six." [in which I express second thoughts about my prejudice against large families]:

ON THE PLUS SIDE—FOND MEMORIES OF MY FAMILY (a four-post series, all dated Wednesday, July 27, 2005, written mainly as the second thoughts that I had about my own three-sibling family after I posted "We have six.")

On the plus side—fond memories of my family: Sundays in the Car with Dad:

On the plus side—fond memories of my family: Midnights in the Kitchen with Mom:

On the plus side—fond memories of my family: A few good laughs with my sister and brothers:

On the plus side—fond memories of my family: "Resistance is futile" :)—the Salamone-Punster clan gathers 'round the TV:


Sunday, June 12, 2005, Anniversary Waltz:

Friday, June 17, 2005, Sharing our knowledge—on the advantages of a 100% Jewish (by birth or by choice) marriage:

Sunday, June 19, 2005, On “shidduch” dating: Whatever happened to “getting to know you?”:


Monday, March 21, 2005, Doubletake: On not judging a book by its cover:

Tuesday, May 03, 2005, "Chemical Reaction":


Thursday, October 14, 2004, “Between Jobs”—Temping in a rotten economy:

Thursday, March 31, 2005, Passed Over before Passover:

Sunday, July 24, 2005, Want my job? Come and get it. Here’s the ad for someone to replace me.:


Thursday, May 19, 2005, “A musical education” (in celebration of my 103rd post):

Wednesday, June 29, 2005, “Fascinatin’ Rhythm”:

Sunday, July 03, 2005, CD Reviews in the manner of Hillel (standing on one foot):

Wednesday, July 20, 2005, The "Look, Rav, No Hands" rumba. :) : Fifty-six-year-old woman tries her hand—er, feet—at choreography for the first time:


Sunday, June 26, 2005, The Salamone-Punsters meet the Skier (Psycho Toddler/Mrs. Balabusta) family!!!!!!!!!!!!:


Tuesday, April 12, 2005, A Dearth of Imagination:

Sunday, May 15, 2005, A Jewish blogger speaks: What am I doing here, literally? [which should have been my 100th post, if I'd been thinking about it, at the time]:

Wednesday, June 15, 2005, FIRE! Why an open box of baking soda in an obvious & easy-to-reach place could save your life:

Friday, July 01, 2005, Leave 'em laughing: The funniest family in Olam HaBlog:

Tuesday, July 05, 2005, Son diagnoses mom: "You have a mild case of ADD.":
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