Friday, December 31, 2010

Techelet's take on Parshat Vaera

See here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

DovBear re "Jewish Superstars"

Here's an interesting post suggesting that Jewish leadership may have been taken over by just a few well-known people.

My favorite comments:

Garnel Ironheart
I've suspected for some time that the tremendous success of your blog is what's relegated mine to backwater status. Now I know for sure.

Yesterday, 12:15:41 PM


A) I'm not a superstar; nor am I that successful

B) The problem isn't that the marketplace is dominated; the problem is its already occupied; all the popular blogs started before FaceBook. Getting off the ground after 2007 was nearly impossible.

Yesterday, 1:03:41 PM


Garnel Ironheart
> I'm not a superstar; nor am I that successful

Pardon me while I spray my coffee out through my nose and laugh uproariously at that comment...

Okay, I'm done. Sorry about the mess.

Yesterday, 1:46:59 PM


On the other hand, I started blogging before Facebook, in 2004, and I'm not a superstar, either. Garnel, welcome me to the "backwater." :)

Parsha catch-up: Vayechi and Sh’mot

Parshat Vayechi

My husband and I both noticed that, throughout the book of B’reishit/Genesis, the lion’s share of the attention is paid to the sons (yes, sons) of Léah and Rachel, with short shrift given to the sons of the concubines and the only daughter. This holds true for Yaakov’s deathbed blessings, as well. The “minor players” get mostly one-liners, and Dinah, the only daughter, gets not even a mention.

[ ¶ ]

Parshat Sh’mot

My husband was puzzled. If, as some theorize, Y’tziat Mitzrayim/the Exodus from Egypt took place at the time of the massive eruption on Thera/Santorini, then Moshe Rabbeinu/Moses our Teacher couldn’t have picked up the idea of a sole god from Akhenaten, since the Exodus would have taken place prior to his reign. So where did he get it from? “Why are you looking at Akhenaten when Moshe spent at least enough time with a Midianite priest (Reuel, Yithro/Jethro?) to father a child?,” I asked. Unfortunately, my husband was not able to unearth much information about Midianite religion. But he did point out that Moshe’s time as a shepherd would prove mighty handy when he had to lead the people in the escape from Egypt and help them survive in the wilderness for forty years.

[ ¶ ]

See also my husband’s and my previous Sh’mot notes—click here, and follow the links.

Update, Fri., Dec. 31, 2011: I recommend Techelet's Sh'mot post.

"Dashing through the snow"--or not :(, #2

Revised version of poem first posted here. (To the tune of "Jingle Bells.")

[ ¶ ]

Dashing—not!—through snow

Fast one cannot go

Bundled without grace

Snow piles in my face

Managed not to flip

In the slush’s grip

Where did all buses go while I did slide and slip?


"Ding-dong" bells, subway smells

"Watch the closing doors!"

Subway station’s slick with slush

I wish they'd clean the floors

Mayor we curse--it's the worst

clean-up ever seen

New York City goes berserk

'cause snow-plows are unseen :(

[ ¶ ]

What a mess!

[ ¶ ]

And worse. :( A death in the family is bad enough, but a possibly-preventable death is even sadder.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rashanim (or 2/3 thereof--drummer missing)

Here's a sample of two-thirds of Rashonim--they never did figure out where their drummer was, but we thought they were pretty good anyway. Recorded at the Tzadik/East Village Jewish Music Festival, held at the Sixth Street Synagogue on Saturday night, Dec. 25, 2010.

Hmm, I never had this problem before--the video's too wide. Does anyone know how to shrink this so it doesn't hide part of my sidebar?

Wed., Dec. 29, 2010 update: Try this link to the video instead. I don't appreciate "video-ate-my-blog" formatting.

Many thanks to the Family Physicist for the previous post and this one, and all future Shira's Shots and video posts--he's become quite a hot shot, photographically speaking, and, being the family camera maven/expert, volunteered to serve as technical adviser to his dear old parents when we went shopping for a new camera.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Sheleg al iri (snow on my city)

Air conditioner gets air conditioned :)
Monday, December 27, 2010

Bike on snow bank
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Buried cars (not to mention buried street--where's a snowplow when you need one?)
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shira's Shots

That's what one of the Israeli folk dance session leaders used as the subject of her e-mail announcing the cancellation of last night's session due to snow. If I ever figure out how to transfer my photos from my new camera to my computer, I'll publish a snow shot or two. (Update, Tues., Dec. 28, 2010--see photos above.)

In the meantime, here are the lyrics, here's a choral performance, and here's a video of one of the two dances choreographed to Naomi Shemer's "Sheleg al Iri" by two different choreographers. Not only does the dance appear to be one that I once knew and had forgotten, but the choral performance sounds familiar from my days as a synagogue-choir alto--I think we sang the same arrangement, but at a faster tempo.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Metal n'tilat yadayim cup becomes medical alert


I was awake in a flash.

It's a good thing that I'm usually a fairly light sleeper.

"Is everything okay?," I called to my husband.

"I'm not feeling so well."

I zipped out of bed and over to the bathroom, where the n'tilat yadayim cup had fallen on the floor--and found my husband also fallen on the floor.

"Are you okay?"

No response.

"Are you okay?"

Again, no response.

The good news was that he appeared to be breathing.

Taking no chances, I went straight to the phone and called 911, the Emergency number.

Fortunately, my husband regained consciousness in the middle of my phone call, and was able to get up, finish what he'd gone into the bathroom to do, and get dressed before being wheeled out to the elevator in high style by the Emergency Medical Technicians. Unfortunately, none of my yummy Shabbos dinner was still in him, by that time. :(

What ensued was a romantic ride for two in the ambulance. The Emergency Room staff plugged an intravenous feed into my husband, pumping him full of anti-nausea medication and two bags of "meal replacement" fluids, then made sure that he could walk without passing out again before kicking him out for being too healthy. :) Since he needed to drink, eat, and sleep, and was in no condition to take a bus and subway , I called a cab, Shabbat notwithstanding, and took him home. He still hasn't recovered completely, but we both hope that he'll feel well enough to teach his class tomorrow.

I'm just glad it wasn't worse. Baruch somech noflim v'rofeh cholim--Blessed is the One who supports the fallen and heals the sick.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Needed: Droid for Dummies, iTunes for Idiots

Our son called the day before Thanksgiving, recommending that I buy the iPod that I'd been threatening to get (to spare my back the weight of my CD carrying case and player) while it was on sale on Black Friday. So I bought the larger-capacity Nano. Big--or small--mistake: The higher-capacity Nano stores 14.88 GB, and it turns out that I have 10.8 already on my computer, much to my surprise, meaning that I have only 4.1 GB left for new music! It's also so small that I'm actually afraid I'll lose it, not to mention that, if I accidentally drop it on the subway floor, it's as good as gone, since it'll get stomped on and crushed before I can even see where I dropped it. So now the Family Grad Student thinks I should return the iPod and replace my new cell phone with a Droid, which has a higher music-storage capacity. Problem: I have only until the 20th to return the cell phone, and I know nothing whatsoever about these fancy new phones. At the moment, it appears that I'll have to make a big decision based on little information, and/or that I have roughly until this coming Sunday to do whatever research I can do. Advice would be appreciated.

Pondering my dilemma, I decided to see whether I could figure out how on earth my Nano configured itself, since it appears that (1) a lot of music that was originally carefully organized in subfolders (by band or musician, then by CD) in the Music folder on my computer has been dumped mysteriously at the bottom of the iTunes screen on my computer, and (2) now, any music that I rip to the computer goes straight to iTunes and is nowhere to be found in my Music folder. So I started playing all the untitled music on the bottom of my iTunes screen on my computer, just to see what was there. What I got, as I started clicking through the multiple Track Ones, Track Twos, etc., was a mix of various Moshe Skier Band, Shlock Rock, and Yosef Karduner songs, plus a singer whom I can't identify singing a rather droll song about the "joys" of being a middle-aged woman. (She says she can't remember anything anymore, but she assumes she must be a musician, since she's standing onstage playing a guitar. :) ) Funny, I didn't ask for iTunes to "shuffle." I really must go through that tutorial again and try to figure out how to organize my music the way I want it organized.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Peer pressure

Toward the end of Blu Greenberg's How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household, Ms. Greenberg mentions that one is not permitted to bath or wash on a sunrise-to-sunset fast day, such as Asarah b'Tevet (10th of Tevet), which will take place this coming Friday. My reaction? Forget it--I'm not going to stink up the subway and the office by not taking a shower on a workday. I'll compromise and just not shampoo my hair, which is what I did when I was sitting shiva. Being dirty is bad enough, but being smelly is totally unacceptable, and I won't put up with it on any days other than Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur. (I wash a bit with cold water and liquid hand soap on Shabbat/Sabbath.)

When I mentioned this decision to my husband, his response was, "Are you sure you want to become Orthodox? There are so many things you're not willing to do."

True. Been there, blogged that--see my Limits to how observant we're willing to become.

But my husband wasn't content to stop there--he remarked further that he'd observed a noticeable increase in my observance starting around 2005.

Funny thing about that. I started blogging in August 2004, and was finally hired full-time (after several years of temping) in the fall of 2005 by the Orthodox-sponsored organization for which I work.

I'm surrounded by Orthodox people at the office and online.

One of the things I'm really going to have to figure out is just how much of this change in my observance would have happened anyway and how much I can "blame" on you. :)

In all seriousness, I can't become an Orthodox Jew just to please other people. It's absolutely essential for me to determine whether this is what I really want, before making such a major decision.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas invades our local synagogue :(

As you can see from the date-stamp on my previous post, I got up so late this morning that I still had my bad foot on ice when I was supposed to be leaving for Shacharit (Morning Service) at shul. This turned out to have been particularly bad timing--I was smack-dab in the middle of the first paragraph of the Sh'ma when the folks who rent the synagogue sanctuary on Sunday morning started singing Christmas carols.

For better and/or worse, what's left of our chapel is now sometimes used as a classroom and is, therefore, furnished with school desk-chairs. So I put my siddur down on the desk in front of me and davvened/prayed the entire Amidah prayer with my fingers in my ears. I told our Sunday morning davvening crew that I'll be davvening Shacharit at home on Sundays until after Christmas.

Pun warning :)

Sitzfleisch is a Yiddish term meaning roughly "the ability to sit reasonably still for a reasonable amount of time."

Zits* face, on the other hand, is what I now get from eating peanuts.

Just what I need--yet another food that I can no longer eat. Oh, well.

*Zit = acne pimple.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Women's Section

Thanks to Larry Lennhoff for pointing out this good post that I'd missed. Here's a taste:

"One of the classic design challenges for Orthodox synagogues is the matter of the Women’s Section – how to create a space which welcomes and encourages davening, while excluding some of the key components of the shul’s real estate (shulchan, aron) and dealing with the reality that the great majority of Orthodox attendees are men."

I recommend this post, and commend the writer for his thoughtfulness.

Tefillin vs. fashion

"Nothing fits me!," I complained to an old friend. "Everything's baggy across the shoulders and a little too tight across the bust. What am I supposed to wear?"

"Wear knits," she said. "They stretch."

True, knits might fit me better, contracting where I don't need room and stretching where I do. But knit sleeves don't stretch quite enough to be shoved up above my elbow and stay there for the half-hour or so that it takes me to say Shacharit (Morning Service), and even if they do stay up, they'll get all stretched out on the right arm, where I lay tefillin.

I'm not sure I've ever mentioned to this particular girlfriend the fact that I lay tefillin every weekday morning. The topic has simply not come up. But, knowing this particular girlfriend, that may be just as well. She'd probably roll her eyes and conclude that I've become hopelessly religious.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Parshat Vayigash

See here for chapter and verse, and a summary.

Sarah favors her own son, Yitzchak (Isaac) over Hagar's son, Yishmael (Ishmael). Rivka (Rebecca) and Yitzchak play favorites between their sons, with Rivka favoring Yaakov (Jacob), and Yitzchak favoring Esav (Esau). Yaakov favors Yosef (Joseph). Yosef showers his full brother, Binyamin (Benjamin) with more goodies than his half-brothers. Yaakov favors Yosef's younger son, Efraim (Ephraim) over Yosef's older son Menasheh (Mennases). These people never learn. They seem to be oblivious to the generations of envy, and, often, emnity, inpired by all this favoritism.

Parsha catch-up: Vayeshev and Miketz

  • The sale of Yosef/Joseph
Yosef was an egocentric brat. His parents are responsible for not having taught him that being a braggart is obnoxious and creates hostility.
[ ¶ ]
Personally, I think that both Reuven and Yehudah (Judah) were trying to save Yosef’s life. In the absence of Reuven, who may have gone to um, answer a call of nature, Yehudah may have cooked up the idea of selling Yosef in order to prevent his brothers from abandoning Yosef to die in the well and/or killing him outright.
[ ¶ ]
I still can't believe that the other brothers never told Reuven that Yosef was still alive.
[ ¶ ]
Read the story of the sale of Yosef here.
[ ¶ ]
  • Tamar outsmarts Yehudah to claim her due
Tamar was a smart strategist with nerves of steel—the stunt she pulled could have gotten her killed. But she got what she was entitled to. Read Tamar's tale here.
[ ¶ ]
See also my old post Onan's sin: Marital sexual abuse.
[ ¶ ]
Yosef was one smart cookie. He also created what may have been one of the earliest recorded feudal societies. No wonder the later Egyptians hated him—he’d made them all Pharoah’s surfs.  [Tuesday, December 25, 2012 updated:  At least Garnel's spelling correction, in the comments to this post, is amusing.  "Hee, hee. Yosef turned Egypt into a surfer culture. Dude! The waves on the Nile are gnarly!

(It's spelled sErf)"]

[ ¶ ]
There’s also the rather interesting question of whether Yosef was too ticked at his father Yaakov (Jacob) to think of, ya know, letting the poor old man know that he was still alive.
[ ¶ ]

Israeli gov’t letting donors fulfill its responsibilities?

See this guest post by Jeff Goldberg on DovBear’s blog protesting that the Israeli national (and/or local) government(s) should grow up and provide firefighting equipment out of government funds. He wants to know why foreign charity donors are being asked to buy fire trucks. I think he makes a good case. Maybe I’ll stick to helping fund the replacement of those burned trees.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

"Party pooper," part two

Start with part one.

My family was not really very big on physical affection. So I suffered a couple of bouts of culture shock as an adult.

The first took place during my French-major days, when I spent a year studying in France. There, I was quite taken aback to discover that the "bisou," a kiss on both cheeks, was actually a formal greeting, replaceable only by a handshake, but only when a handshake wasn't considered a bit unfriendly. You couldn't just enter a room and say "Hi, everybody!," you had to either give a bisou/kiss everyone on both cheeks, or you had to shake the hand of every person in the room. The same was true upon departure.

The second culture shock occurred, and continues to occur, here in New York City. Even after over 35 years in NYC, I've never gotten comfortable with having guys other than my husband give me a hug and a kiss as a friendly greeting and/or expect me to give them one. (That's one of the reasons why I prefer to do partner/couple dances with my husband only.) I don't much care for the casual kiss--I think that kisses should be reserved for spouse or family. I particularly dislike seeing this kind of huggy-poo and kissy-face on the bimah--it seems rather inappropriate in a house of worship.

An advantage of becoming Orthodox would be that the circumstances in which I'd be expected to hug and kiss or be hugged and kissed by any guy other than my husband would be greatly reduced. I'd prefer it that way. As one of the characters from the first season of Babylon 5 once said, putting it better than I ever could, "Don't touch me unless you mean it."

I hate to be a "party pooper,*" but . . .

Last night, I went to a Chanukah party at Ansche Chesed because Alicia Svigals and her band were accompanying Steve Weintraub, of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, who was teaching and/or leading "easy-to-follow Yiddish dances." Believe it or not, I was there mostly to hear Alicia Svigals and her band, because I don't really enjoy "freilach dancing."

[ ¶ ]

Some of my readers may be scratching their heads, at this point. “But you’re a dancer!”

[ ¶ ]

That’s just the point—freilachs are for non-dancers. After five minutes of holding hands and walking around in a circle, with the occasional kick, and maybe a grapevine/”Mayim” step or two, I’m bored out of my mind.

[ ¶ ]

I confess, though, to being a bit puzzled by the impression I got that the partner dances that Steve Weintraub taught and led were traditional Ashkenazi dances. Here’s some background (copied from this website):

[ ¶ ]

“According to Vizonsky, the sher is a Jewish adaptation of the quadrille dances being done in the English and French courts of the 18th century. Dvora Lapson states that the dance was originally a tailor's guild dance with the figures meant to represent a pair of shears and threading the needle. In the movie "Dancing into Marriage" it is stated that the dance might also refer to the cutting of the bride's hair with the shears on the evening before the wedding as was customary.

[ ¶ ]

Beregovski states that the sher originally was a woman's dance since men and women did not usually dance together (see further discussion below). . .”

[ ¶ ]

After giving instructions for the dance, the writer presents us with this description of an alternative version:

[ ¶ ]

“This formation was used to avoid handholding between men and women who were not married, assuming all 4 couples were married couples. Instead of having men exchange places as described above, this version of the dance had a man exchanging places with a woman; the turn was then done with 2 men dancing together and 2 women dancing together. The man and woman would then return to their own partner. Discussions on the Jewish Music List (September 13 & 14, 1999) indicate that even this formation would not have been acceptable to traditional rabbis and is probably a modern development (over the last 100 years) due to a more liberalized society. However, the article by Zvi Friedhaber listed on the resource page suggests there were people who broke the rules all along. At the present time separate dancing is still the rule at orthodox celebrations”

[ ¶ ]

It would appear, then, that shmirat n’giah (the practice of refraining from any physical contact with persons of the opposite gender other than one’s spouse and close relatives) was not necessarily universally observed in the Olde Country.

[ ¶ ]

Personally, I think that shmirat n'giah has its advantages.

[ ¶ ]

[ ¶ ]

*Party pooper

Monday, December 06, 2010

Potato pancakes can be a pain in the . . . toe

Years ago, my father stopped eating nightshade vegetables because they aggravated his gout. Fast forward some three decades or so, and this daughter of his found herself having pain in the big toe. Since I'd been on a bit of a potato-chip (potato-crisp) bing, I decided to switch from potato chips to corn (maize) tortilla chips--and the pain disappeared almost completely within days.

Remind me never to eat three potato latkes at one Chanukah kiddush again. My toe hurt so badly on Saturday night that I was glad that I don't go more than six blocks beyond our apartment without a cane. Apparently, I can eat one latke without a problem, but once I start piling them up, the pain piles on, too.

Yesterday, I behaved myself at the annual Chanukah party thrown by some old friends, and had only one latke. My toe is just fine--fine enough that I'm going to excuse myself now, because I have an Israeli folk dance session to get to.

"That's not very impressive"

That's what an old friend of ours said to me at the annual Chanukah party given by some other old friends when I told her that, as of this past Friday morning, I now weigh 123.5 pounds (56.02 kilos). (Don't ask what I weighed this morning, the day after the Chanukah party!)

So I patiently explained that I'd weighed about 132 pounds (59.87 kilos) as recently as last spring, and had lost about eight pounds simply by laying off the junk food at the office and eating only protein and low-carb vegetables while there.

I must say that I wasn't too happy with my old friend's judgmental comment. But I must also admit that, while I weigh close to what I weighed at our now-27-year-old son's Bar Mitzvah celebration, I'm also two inches shorter than I was then. (Yes, I'm being treated for osteoporosis.) This is rather discouraging. I've lost eight pounds in considerably less than a year. How much more weight do I have to lose at my current height for my weight to be "impressive?"

Sunday, December 05, 2010

A comedy of errors,round 2,with a nice literal twist

We both forgot to take our tefillin to synagogue with us this morning!

My husband came back home for his, but I, still home at the time because I just couldn't wake up after that wonderful Shalshelet concert last night (and a just-about-literally midnight snack at My Most Favorite Food), didn't want to go back after I finally got to shul. So I went upstairs and borrowed a set of unclaimed tefillin left in our "minyannaire" storage unit. I was touched to find the name of a very active and much-loved late congregant written inside the tefillin bag. Of course, laying right-handed tefillin left-handed is always an interesting challenge--as is often the case when one wraps tefillin on the arm other that the one for which the tefillin were tied, the hand-wrap part just didn't form the letter Shin as it's supposed to. And I ended up having to trade my husband for his shel rosh/head tefillah because the one I was using slipped right past my head like a necklace. But it was nice to put W.B.'s tefillin back to work.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Cool Chanukah video by YU's Maccabeats

Courtesy of, see and hear it here.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Mitzafon tipatach haraah . . .

Yirmiyahu/Jeremiah, chapter 1, verse 14.

That was my visceral reaction when I read Jameel's post about the fire(s) raging in northern Israel.

"A massive forest fire broke out near Haifa in Israel today and NASA took a image of it with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Agua satellite. The photo was taken at 12:10pm local time.

You can see a red line on the outside of the fire drawn by NASA. Strong winds fueled the fire.

40 People died thus far of the fire and the fire is now totally out of control (time of writing). The worst hit part is Carmel Mountain
region, the IDF allocated all its resources to fight the fire.

[ ¶ ]

11:21 PM Updates: Over 12,000 people evacuated from their homes. Prison Services deny that 4 prisoners escaped. Foregin Minister Avigdor Leiberman announces that 12 countries are now sending firefighting planes and equipment...and that the Pentagon is checking if they have available equipment to send from the area."

[ ¶ ]

1:47 AM Jameel signing off for the night. Blogging will resume

in the early AM. Foreign fire fighting planes to arrive starting at 2 AM.

Unconfirmed reports of 66 casualties.

Hoping for a better tomorrow.


[ ¶ ]

Amen--hoping right along with you.

[ ¶ ]

Update from a JNF e-mail blast: If you'd like to donate to their Forest Fire Emergency Campaign, click here.

[ ¶ ]

Friday, December 3, 2010--Jameel continued to update yesterday's post with today's news:

[ ¶ ]

"2:45 PM Fire fighting team come to help from... Jordan! 20 fire trucks arrive, and Jordanian FM announces that 1000 Jordanian firemen are available and on stand-by for Israel

[ ¶ ]

3:04 PM Police officially announce they suspect arson after bag, wig, and bicycle found near center of one fire.

[ ¶ ]

4:02 PM 2 arsonists caught trying to start a new fire. Police interrogating them to discover connection to earlier fires."

[ ¶ ]


"Arsonist using Molotov cocktails to light fire. about 4 hours ago via Echofon"

[ ¶ ]


Rigid thinking can have deadly consequences

So now, the Rabbinical Council of America, allegedly a Modern Orthodox group, has decided to back off of its former stand on brain death for transplants.

[ ¶ ]

Why did they dismiss neurosurgeon Noam Stadlan's study on that subject, which anyone can read in the September 2010 issue of Meorot?

[ ¶ ]

See also the comments on the same subject here.

A comedy of errors

I set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier than I usually set it to ring on a Thursday--then promptly forgot why. At our usual 6:30 AM hour for departure to my former "kaddish minyan," I suddenly remembered that services were starting 15 minutes earlier because we include the Hallel psalms in Shacharit (Morning Service) on Chanukah. I was not only embarrassed, but also upset, because my husband really prefers to get to a weekday morning minyan on time. So, having already davvened/prayed the Birkot HaShachar/Morning Blessings, I handed him my mini-Koren-Sacks Siddur/prayer book so that he could catch up during the subway ride, and davvened a standing-on-one-foot P'sukei D'Zimrah by memory. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I now know Hall'lu et HaShem min ha-shamayim (Psalm 148) by heart, or at least I think I do--I couldn't check the siddur to see whether I'd missed anything.

We rushed into the minyan room quite late, just as they were beginning Az Yashir. Needless to say, I didn't quite get my tefillin on in time for Bar'chu. But that's when the weirdness began. This was the first time that I'd ever laid tefillin more quickly than my husband. And at least twice during the course of the service, he had to rewind the shel yad/hand tefillah. This, I'd never seen before. After the service, I commented on it. My husband's reply: "Are you sure you were wearing your tefillin?" Holy Moses, that's why my shel rosh/head tefillah felt so loose! And no wonder I was able to wrap the hand so quickly--the retzuah/strap on my husband's shel yad/hand tefillah is much shorter than the retzuah on mine!* Apparently, we were in such a hurry to "gear up" for Shacharit that, reaching into our tote bag, we each grabbed the first set of tefillin that we saw!

*I really need to get my tefillin to a sofer/scribe who won't have a heart attack about working on tefillin owned by a woman--the retzuah loop on my shel rosh is getting loose again, and my retzuot are way too long. If anyone knows a sofer, or someone else who'd know how, and be willing, to help, preferably in Manhattan, please let me know. Rav todot--many thanks!
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