Tuesday, July 28, 2020

"How the Child Care Crisis Will Distort the Economy for a Generation"

You can read the rest of this article here, but here are some of the main points:

"Stevenson: I’ve been really struck by how much the federal government scrambled to save the airlines — “Oh, wouldn’t it be terrible for our economy if we lost all our airlines?” I guess it wouldn’t be great. But how terrible would it be for our economy if we lost all our child care and our schools? That would be way worse than losing our airlines! That would leave not only the current working generation unable to go back to work in the same way, it would mean that we are not preparing the next generation so that they have skills. I mean, it is so substantially worse than losing your airlines. And yet we gave less money to the entire child care sector than we gave to one single airline, Delta. I don’t mean to pick on Delta, but it seems crazy that we care more about saving Delta Airlines than we do about the entire child care industry.

Child care is one of those issues where we still really think it’s a personal problem: ‘You made the choice to have those little rugrats. You deal with them.’ Compare that with elder care. We recognized it was a social issue. We built a series of nursing homes and institutional care, and we have societal grants to cover some of that through Medicaid. But with child care, we’ve said this isn’t a social issue. And I think the pandemic has revealed that it is a social issue.

. . .

. . . You’re seeing child care centers that can’t stay in business. They can’t figure out how to reopen. They can’t keep their employees on staff. They’re letting people go. I see a world where we’re all vaccinated by next spring, and we’re ready to have every kid back in child care, back in school, back at camp — but now they’re starting from scratch, recruiting workers because all their workers have sort of disappeared or moved on. Some of them have gotten other jobs and are never coming back. Others have decided that they’re retiring early. Others have moved physically — ‘Yeah, maybe I worked with children before, and I’m ready to do that again. But I’ve never worked with this employer.’ So how do they make that match? That’s a slow process."

The lack of child care will take away "choice" from so many parents, mainly women, forcing many mothers back into full-time (or at least part-time daytime) parenting for lack of an alternative. As a consequence, much of what my generation fought for in the Women's Liberation Movement will be lost. 😢 Is "kinde, kuche, kirche" (children, kitchen, church--pardon my rotten German spelling) going to be women's only option all over again? Must anatomy be destiny? And if the continuity of the human species is so important, why do the people who perpetuate humanity get so little respect and have so little to show for it in our old age? Must parenthood make one poor?

Saturday, July 25, 2020

"What Covid-19 Long-Haulers Want You to Know"--one doesn't always recover from COVID-19 :(

One of the scariest things about COVID-19 for me, as a 71-year-old, is not only that I might die from it, but that I might have to *live* with it for the rest of my life. 😢

I've heard rumors and read tales of trouble from former COVID-19 patients, and now I've seen this article.

Here's more evidence:

"In a Facebook post on July 4, Glosser said: “This morning my mother, Ruth Glosser, died of the late effects of COVID-19 like so many thousands of other people; both young and old. She survived the acute infection but was left with lung and neurological damage that destroyed her will to eat and her ability to breathe well enough to sustain arousal and consciousness. Over an 8-week period she gradually slipped away and died peacefully this morning.”

Some people think that COVID-19 is just another mutation of the flu, but I'm not aware of any version of the flu that can cause lung and neurological damage, not to mention heart damage, chronic fatigue, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, and heaven only knows what else. An old friend's son suffered from headaches for several months after having had an allegedly-mild case of COVID-19. At this point, I not sure whether there's such a thing as a mild case. A Facebook friend of mine never had to go to the hospital, but suffered from the aftereffects of COVID-19 for several months.

Friday, July 24, 2020

CDs vs. downloads

A few months ago, I ordered a CD.  When a few weeks went by without any sign of my purchase, I sent an e-mail to the artist.

They told me that they'd been afraid to go to the post office.

Ouch.  How inconsiderate of me not to have thought about that.  :(

So I asked them whether they could send me a link to a download instead.

I got the download link within minutes.  The artist assured me that they would send me the CD later, but I asked them to stay out of the post office because they have a kid to raise.

Imagine my surprise when I found the CD in my mailbox a few days ago.

I confess that I felt both guilty--I certainly hope they didn't go to the post office just for me--and glad.  

Sure, downloads are easy, and you don't need a special player or computer drive.

But downloads are missing a few things.

Like cover art.  This CD is *gorgeous.*

Also missing:  what we older folks call "liner notes."  Where are the lists of back-up/harmony singers?  Who's playing which instrument?  Were any of the songs co-written?

Some of this can sometimes be found on YouTube.  Spotify?  Maybe not, unless I just don't know where to look.  Bandcamp seems to be good at showing both the art and the info (and I can even play an entire album in order--that "shuffle" business drives me nuts).

But what a shame that technology sometimes seems to insist on reinventing the wheel.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Less a book review than a rant: Here All Along, by Sarah Hurwitz

Here's my so-called review of Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life-in Judaism (after Finally Choosing to Look There), by Sarah Hurwitz:  It's a pretty good, and pretty frank, introduction to Judaism, with no apologetics or apologies.  I recommend it to anyone, particularly those with little or no Jewish education and/or background.

I'd like to write more, but that's all I can remember.

It's not that this book isn't good, it's just that I got stuck on one particularly point, and it bugged me so much that I forgot everything else.


When I first learned about this Jewish meditation practice, I was thoroughly offended as a feminist.  Here's this guy who spends all day working and/or studying,and also prays three services every day; then, instead of coming home, he spends yet another hour talking to Gd, while his semi-abandoned wife makes the dinner, helps the older kids with their homework, changes diapers, bathes the toddler . . .  An old friend and I were talking about hitbodedut and remembering what motherhood was like for us when our children were still very young--we couldn't even go to the bathroom without a crying kid banging on the door, much less spend an hour in the woods talking to Gd.

You might think that the fact that women are now practicing hitbodedut would solve the problem, but women's participation solves only half of it.  Even putting aside the logistical challenge of practicing hitbodedut when one has major care-giving responsibilities, such as taking care of tiny tots or aging parents, hitbodedut still upsets me, for a more fundamental reason--the entire point of hitbodedut is to take the pray-er out of the synagogue.

Full disclosure:  I've been a "synagogue regular" every Shabbat (Sabbath) and holiday morning for decades.  The synagogue that I've been attending for most of those decades "downsized" over a decade ago--our current building is so small and we have so little outdoor space that there's literally not enough room to hold a socially-distanced service.  That same shul is now in serious danger of becoming an institutional victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So yes, reading a book written by an author who spent several years trying to catch up on her Jewish education and still won't set foot in a synagogue more than three times a year just plain ticked me off.

There, I said it.  Let the chips fall where they may.

Book review: The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice Their Religion Today

There are many research findings in Dr. The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice Their Religion Today that are worth mentioning, but two stand out in my mind.  One is, if I remember correctly, the possibility that the Conservative Movement, in trying to maintain a "big tent," has issued halachic rulings (rulings on matters of Jewish religious law) that accept so many opposing viewpoints that individual rabbis are left to "pick their p'sak" (choose a ruling), as it were.  The other is that the Reform Movement may not have given sufficient consideration to the implications of accepting non-Jews as full members of synagogues.  How, exactly, is one supposed to deal with a Jewish house of worship of which probably a quarter, if not more, of the members aren't Jewish?  Wertheimer tells the true tale of a person showing up for a Hebrew School committee meeting on the day of the Roman Catholic observance known as Ash Wednesday with an ash cross on their forehead.  No one had the nerve to say anything.  Really, once you've accepted non-Jews as full members, what is there to say?

I was also quite taken by Dr. Wertheimer's finding that many contemporary Jews, like many contemporary Christians, simply don't find Gd in "sacred spaces" and/or sacred texts anymore--to put it in my own terms, it's all about "spirituality," rather than synagogues and/or siddurim (prayer books).  Also, two-earner families are trying to shoehorn Judaism into their busy schedules, rather than arranging their schedules to accommodate Jewish practices.  Heaven help you if your synagogue service is "too long," or if a holiday falls on a workday--many non-Orthodox folks will attend synagogue only when it's convenient, and will nonchalantly observe a holiday on the nearest weekend.  Then there was the rabbi who asked how a generation raised to delete and unfriend can be persuaded to "discover a spiritual practice that actually requires practice."

My parents gifted me and my siblings with enough of a Jewish education to be able to read Hebrew (with vowels) and to know about almost all of the Jewish holidays, not just the High Holidays, and they taught us that synagogue membership and attendance were very important.  Everything else, I learned as an adult, through my own efforts and with the help of many teachers.  My neighborhood is full of Jews who know nothing about either traditional prayer or the weekly Torah readings, and have little interest in learning.  How can any of them be persuaded to set foot in a synagogue  without being "bribed" by, for example, food, or even drink?  (There's a synagogue in Manhattan that offers a cocktail hour before services.)  If people won't come to synagogue either for prayer or for community, and a small synagogue such as ours doesn't have either the facilities or the funds to offer a nursery school, what other "bribe" can we offer?

Thursday, July 16, 2020

*Not* in hot water, so to speak--we can't find a new urn to keep water hot over Shabbat

Thus far, we've bought and returned 2 new urns--one wouldn't keep the water hot enough to make instant coffee or heat up our tea essence, and the other emitted so much steam that all the water evaporated overnight. Suggestions?

Zoom clothing vs. Livestream clothing :)

I'm sitting in front of a screen studying divrei kodesh (sacred texts) when I notice something odd--my light-pink T-shirt doesn't seem to be very visible.  So I start fussing with the top, yanking the sleeves, because, y'know, um, let's just say that there are no sleeves on one's "birth-day suit."  That's the last time I wear a light-pink shirt with neither a collar nor buttons on a Zoom!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Stop that dancing up there! :( And try something else :)

It goes without saying that we can't go Israeli folk dancing one-four times every week in the middle of a pandemic.  :(  And that was our main form of exercise.  :(  We didn't know whether we should even leave the apartment.  But our old friend the Physician Assistant said that getting some "sunshine Vitamin D" was essential to our health, so out we went, all masked up.  At first, we walked along the local highway because it isn't the main shopping street and the sidewalks are relatively uncrowded.  More recently, though, New York City, in cooperation with local volunteers, has closed a 26-block stretch of a local street to vehicular traffic every day from 8 AM to 8 PM--the volunteers move the barriers onto the street every morning and remove them every evening.  When the weather is nice, we've been known to take a stroll as long as 34 blocks round-trip on the pedestrian street.   That's more exercise than I've gotten in years!  And my husband sometimes leaves me at our corner to walk further at his own much-faster pace. Much to his surprise, my husband has actually lost weight within the last month or so!


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A weird dream. Or maybe not

There I was, standing at a cash register looking at my receipt when I realized that I'd done something backwards:  I'd already paid for my groceries, but I didn't actually have them--I'd have to go down the aisles and find my groceries on the shelves.  End of dream.

After I woke up, I realized that that weird dream actually made perfect sense--since our son has adamantly insisted that we do all of our grocery shopping online to try to avoid catching COVID-19, we haven't gone to a supermarket since March.  So we are, in fact, paying for our groceries without actually going through the aisles to find them.


Sunday, July 12, 2020

Privatization, or life on the "pay-for-service" plan, according to my havruta

I've been taking Project Zug's course in Intro to Social Justice with Tanya, who lived in a number of countries before ending up in the Pacific Northwest, and saw firsthand how different economic systems worked.  This is roughly how she described privatization:

"You sign up for fire insurance.  If you have a fire, you call the fire company, and the fire company asks, "What kind of coverage do you have:  Plan A, Plan B, or Plan C?"  In other words, if you have only Plan A, the firefighters will put out the fire in your garage, but they'll let the rest of the house burn down.

That's the way Donald Trump and his supporters want to run this country--they want the entire nation run on a pay-for-service basis.  Either they see no connection between taxes and services, or they just don't care whether or not services are provided to anyone who isn't rich.

Parashat Pinchas: B'not Tz'lofchad--the elephant in the room

Numbers , Chapter 27:


א  וַתִּקְרַבְנָה בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד, בֶּן-חֵפֶר בֶּן-גִּלְעָד בֶּן-מָכִיר בֶּן-מְנַשֶּׁה, לְמִשְׁפְּחֹת, מְנַשֶּׁה בֶן-יוֹסֵף; וְאֵלֶּה, שְׁמוֹת בְּנֹתָיו--מַחְלָה נֹעָה, וְחָגְלָה וּמִלְכָּה וְתִרְצָה. 1 Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph; and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.
ב  וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה, וְלִפְנֵי אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, וְלִפְנֵי הַנְּשִׂיאִם, וְכָל-הָעֵדָה--פֶּתַח אֹהֶל-מוֹעֵד, לֵאמֹר. 2 And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, at the door of the tent of meeting, saying:
ג  אָבִינוּ, מֵת בַּמִּדְבָּר, וְהוּא לֹא-הָיָה בְּתוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַנּוֹעָדִים עַל-יְהוָה, בַּעֲדַת-קֹרַח:  כִּי-בְחֶטְאוֹ מֵת, וּבָנִים לֹא-הָיוּ לוֹ. 3 'Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not among the company of them that gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah, but he died in his own sin; and he had no sons.
ד  לָמָּה יִגָּרַע שֵׁם-אָבִינוּ מִתּוֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ, כִּי אֵין לוֹ בֵּן; תְּנָה-לָּנוּ אֲחֻזָּה, בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵי אָבִינוּ. 4 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he had no son? Give unto us a possession among the brethren of our father.'

They were no fools, these women:  They knew that they couldn't ask for what they really wanted--the right not to be left destitute just because they had neither a father, nor brothers, nor husbands to support them--because, apparently, one simply didn't discuss the welfare of females. With property of their own, they would be in demand as wives.  But the only way they could get that property was to claim that they were simply seeking to preserve the memory of their father.  This wasn't just a matter of respect--it was a matter of survival.

If you want proof, just look at the Book of Ruth.  When Naomi returned to Bethlehem, everyone knew exactly who she was, yet no one offered her any help.  The only reason why she didn't starve to death was that Ruth went out to glean like any other beggar.  The same fate awaited the daughters of Tz'lofchad--any male relative would simply have taken their father's property and ignored them.

Sunday, July 12, 2020 second thought

It's not so much that "one simply didn't discuss the welfare of females."  The problem--the elephant in the room--is the patriarchal system, under which most women without men were simply consigned to poverty.  If B'not Tz'lochad had protested the system itself, insisting that they, too, not just their father, deserved to be shown respect, they might have been expelled from the camp as heretics.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Some lighter reading: "Happy Trails to You" was a great surprise to me

I actually wrote this post several months ago, but I wasn't sure how appropriate it was to publish such light fare in the middle of a pandemic.  But at this point, I could use a break, and maybe you can, too.

Hear here.

Yes, I'd listened to my father's recording of Marian Anderson, a contralto, many times.  But somehow, it didn't register with me until I heard this tenor and alto couple singing together that what I'd always been taught as a child--that women's voices are higher than mens'--simply wasn't always true.  In this song, Dale almost always sings lower than Roy.

It took a good while for me to realize that my own voice was closer to Dale's than to the voices of most other female singers whom I'd heard.

I started improvising harmony when I was about 11 or 12 years old.  Basically, it was--and still is--often the only way that I could/can sing with other people.  I've been known to joke that harmony is one of the things that HaShem created right before Shabbat, :), and that I sing harmony in self-defense.  :)

One of my biggest challenges in leading just about any singing at our synagogue [back in the good old days]--be it tefillah (prayer), z'mirot (Sabbath songs), or Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals)--is singing lead.  Wish me luck finding a key that both I and the other congregants can sing in. (Yep, there she goes, "singing in the subway" again.)  I try to take cues regarding what key to choose from my tenor husband, but we've been looking for a key that's good for both of us for over 42 43 years and we haven't found one yet.  :)

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