Tuesday, July 31, 2012

3 good reasons why Mourner's Kaddish should be *led*

This is what I've explained to a few of the Yeshivat Hadar students:
  1. Many of us who were raised Conservative or Reform are very accustomed to having someone up front (the rabbi, the cantor, a gabbai, the president of the congregation, etc.) lead Kaddish Yatom/the Mourner's Kaddish, and we expect to be "cued," and might not think of, and/or might be uncomfortable with, starting Kaddish Yatom by ourselves.  Been there, done that.
  2. Many people who come to synagogue to say Kaddish cannot read the Hebrew alefbet/alphabet or can't read it quickly, even in transliteration, and rely on others to say Kaddish on their behalf.
  3. Among some in the Orthodox community, women do not say Kaddish at all, and rely on men to say Kaddish on their behalf.  (I'll grant you that this gets a bit complicated in egalitarian minyanim when there's a woman leading, and is a circumstance that egalitarians can't avoid without compromising their principles.)
Bottom line:  Having someone actually lead Kaddish--with the option to lower his/her voice if a minyan participant chimes in nice and loud--as opposed to expecting people to stand up and say Kaddish by themselves, helps maximize the number of worshippers who are able and/or willing to honor their deceased loved ones.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Parshat D'varim: 5772/2012 thoughts (updated)

This post originally published Thursday, July 26, 2012,  1:05 PM

If I think of anything new, I'll update.  In the meantime, here's a rerun.

Conservadox/Woodrow's D'varim post is certainly worth a look.

Mon., July 30, 2012 update:

Parshat D'varim, Haftarat D'varim, and Tisha B'Av combined give us a kind of Jewish History 101.  As Rabbi Jill Jacobs pointed out in her article in the New York Jewish Week (to which I can't find a link, at the moment), Moshe Rabbeinu/Moses Our Teacher was criticizing the Israelites for sins that their parents had committed--it's typical of Jewish tradition, she said, for us to think of Jewish history as having happened to all Jews of all times.  As the text of the Seder shel Pesach/Passover Seder tells us, "In every generation, it's obligatory for every [Jewish] person to see himself/herself as if he/she had left Egypt."

Friday, July 27, 2012

More re "making room" for persons with disabilities

See also these recent posts of mine:
I've been posting a lot about disabilities lately, not only for the obvious reason, but also because a family with an "invisibly-disabled" child recently worshipped at our synagogue.  It was heartbreaking to watch this child (who appeared to be too old to play with toys) sit through a service of over three hours with absolutely nothing to do because s/he is, apparently, unable to read in any language.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Zeh Keli!":The 1st"minyan,"in a manner of,er,singing

We've been studying the siddur/prayer book with Amit Gvaryahu again this summer, as we did last summer.  (See the "Say It Like You Mean It:  Reading Liturgical Texts" course at Mechon Hadar.)  During his discussion of the final b'rachah/blessing (Birkat Geulah?) before Sh'ma in Shacharit/Morning Service, Amit posited that the central part of this b'rachah is not our liberation from slavery in Egypt ("MiMitzraim g'altanu . . . "), but rather, the song that we sang thereafter, "Mi chamocha . . . Who is like You . . .!"  After the shiur/class, I pointed out to him that Shirat Yam Suf/The Song of (Crossing the Reed) Sea was the first time that a group of  Israelites acknowledged HaShem.  Prior to that, there'd been prayers and/or conversations with G-d by individuals such as Avraham Avinu/Abraham our Father and Moshe Rabbeinu/Moses our Teacher, but no prayers or conversations by a group.  Okay, Shirat Yam Suf wasn't exactly a prayer service.  But still, a communal acknowledgement of HaShem was something new under the sun for the Israelites.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A long-overdue link re “Invisible Disability” Kids

After reading the delightful news that Devorah Zlochower will now be on the Talmud faculty of Mechon Hadar, one of our favorite places to attend shiurim (roughly translated, classes in, and/or lectures on, Jewish sacred subjects), I did an Internet search for Ms. Zlochower.  Boy, was I surprised when I was unable to find a link to Invisible Disability” Kids are Being Left Out" on my blog.  I could have sworn that I posted this.  Well, better three years late than never.  I strongly recommend that you read this important article.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Parshat Matot-Masei: 5772/2012 thoughts

Sorry, I have no new thoughts to share, but here are some previous ones:
Fortunately, Woodrow/Conservadox has some interesting new thoughts regarding Masei.

Mon., July 23, 2012 update:  At our synagogue's Seudah Shlishit, we discussed the arei miklat/cities of refuge (for those who kill someone by accident--see Parshat Masei, Numbers 35:6:34), and concluded that these were some interesting combination of the functional equivalent of (a) confiscating an accused person's passport and/or confining him/her to house arrest and/or putting a tracking/monitoring device on a person to ensure that he/she can't travel beyond a certain distance without being noticed and (b) protective custody for the accidental killer.  An ir miklat/city of refuge was, in effect, a giant prison serving to protect the accidental killer from the functional equivalent of a lynching.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The high cost of having (a child with) a disability

Landmark College sounds like a great place for students with learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

But children with disabilities and/or their parents often pay a high price for an education that suits their needs and helps them learn to overcome, or at least work around, their challenges.

$58,840/year for tuition, room, and board?!!! It's a good thing that there's financial aid available.

As I've said many times, having a disability isn't cheap.

See also my post from my series "On raising a child with disabilities" regarding funding for pre-college special education.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2 Jews, 3 opinions, or halachic (in)decisions

I forgot to check my Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, and didn't think to look for one online,  So I looked all over the Internet for rules regarding buying clothing during the Three Weeks/Shalosh HaShavuot, and found this t'shuvah (response to a question of halachah/Jewish religious law) by Rabbi Eli Mansour.  "Halacha allows purchasing new garments during the Three Weeks, but only until Rosh Hodesh Ab."  Based on that t'shuvah, I went up to La Di La, where I've had some luck buying hats before, and purchased my second cotton beret this past Thursday evening, so that I'd have a spare when I wanted to wash the first one.  I got home, put on the new beret, recited Shechecheyanu--and then had second thoughts.  "Well, now that I'm home, maybe I should check my Shulchan Aruch."  !#$%^&*+!!!!!  It's just my luck--my Shulchan Aruch says, "It is the custom not to say the benediction Shechecheyanu (who hath kept us in life) during these days.  Therefore, one should neither purchase nor put on a new garment, as that would necessitate uttering the benediction Shechecheyanu."

Maybe this is just one of those differences of practice between Ashkenazim and Sefardim--Rav Mansour is Sefardi, and I assume, judging by his name, that Rabbi Solomon Ganzfried, author (editor?) of my Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, is Ashkenazi--but come on, give me a break:  If even rabbis can't agree on matters of halachah (law) and/or minhag (custom), how's a poor Am Ha-aretz/Jewishly-illiterate person like me supposed to know what's mutar (permissible) and what's assur (prohibited)?

I've decided to split the difference--I'll continue to buy new clothes through this coming Thursday afternoon, especially if they're on sale and/or unlikely to be available after Tisha B'Av, but I'll stop before sundown this Thursday, which is when Rosh Chodesh Av begins, and I won't wear any new clothes until after Tisha B'Av so as not to say a Shechecheyanu until after Tisha B'Av.

For the record, I find Rabbi Ganzfried's statement confusing--I thought that the whole point of saying a Shechecheyanu over a new garment was to say it upon wearing the garment for the first time.  Since when is buying a garment a cause for reciting a Shechecheyanu--do I have to say a Shechecheyanu at the check-out counter?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Parshat Pinchas, 5772/2012 thoughts

Basics here.

Taking short break from long project, so here's another quick comment or two:

  • Pinchas is rewarded for his violence.  :(  Zealotry, especially murderous zealotry, kinda freaks me out.
Um, never mind--I said all but the above last year.

Sun., July 15, 2012 updates:
  • See comment section for Larry Lennhoff's link to his Pinchas post.
  • Woodrow/Conservadox has a few interesting things to say about this parshah.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Parshat Balak, 5772/2012 thoughts

Slightly belated.  Basics here.

Limited blogging time, so here's the standing-on-one-foot version:  In my opinion, the craziest thing about this parshah is that Bil'am doesn't think it's the least bit strange that his donkey suddenly starts speaking.  My husband would love to know the origin of this story.  Any takers?

Another quick thought:  The story about Baal Peor may be the earliest rant against intermarriage, or at least against socializing with pagans.  (I swiped this idea from some divrei Torah read online or in Jewish papers--I'd give credit if I could remember the author[s].)

Woodrow's take.

See also these earlier Balak-related posts of mine:

Thursday, July 05, 2012

First and last chance, for now

This is the first dance video that I've recorded since my father's death in June 2011--I shot it this past Monday night at the Kraft Center, home of Columbia/Barnard Hillel and Ruth and Uri's Monday-night Israeli folk dance session.  I decided I'd better publish it quickly, before the Three Weeks/Shalosh HaShavuot.  I haven't yet learned this dance, and don't yet know its name, but I hope you'll enjoy it.  There are some darned good dancers on the floor.  Wave to my husband, who's there dancing his feet off--he's ready for his close-up, Mr. DeMille.  :)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A couple of minor discoveries

I just figured out how to make knoshing falafel fun for me again
Apparently, the problem I've been having in recent years with (almost-always deep-fried) falafel  is that I can no longer drown it in tahina because that's just adding fat on top of fat, and my tongue and tummy no longer tolerate so much fat.  I just discovered last night that, when I eat the  falafel with no tachina on it, I like it much better.  I can always save the tachina for chicken kebabs.  My Zionist credentials are restored.  :)

I'm a kosher shrimp :)
I recently bought and wore two new jackets, and was told that both are too long, though they're both petites.  It would appear that no one makes jackets for real shorties.  At the rate at which I'm shrinking (thanks to osteoporosis), by the time I'm eighty, my jackets will be down to my knees.  :(

Grammar gripe . . .

. . . or one of these days, I'm gonna murder my milon.  Why is it that a Hebrew-English milon/dictionary never gives the feminine form of a masculine noun?  If I hadn't spent several years in Ulpan Hebrew classes, I would have no idea that a religious woman is called datit, not datiyah.  And I only learned a few weeks ago that a female soldier is called a chayelet, not a chayalah, as I had thought.  How is one supposed to tell which way to modify a masculine noun?  In all seriousness, is there some secret to this aspect of Hebrew dikduk/grammar that I've never learned?  If so, please enlighten me in the comments.  Thanks for your help.
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