The Original “Take Your Daughter To Work Day.”

April 25, 2013 § 2 Comments

"Castle on the Hill"

“Castle on the Hill”

I’m at The Broad Side again today – this time recalling the real, original “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”.  In my life, anyhow…

Please click over, enjoy and share!  🙂

xoxo,
Aliza

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I’m at The Broad Side Today! (4/19/13)

April 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

In “Isn’t Dove Supposed to be a Sign for Peace?” I add my voice to the conversation and controversy surrounding the Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” ad campaign.

Check it out, and feel free to comment on the site!

xoxo,

Aliza

 

A Jewish Kid in Catholic School? Nothing But Nachas.*

April 18, 2013 § 3 Comments

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My son Nicky loves baseball. He’s really, really good at it.

Despite the looooong list of Jews who made it big in baseball, we were shocked to learn our town was not overflowing with Jewish schools that have viable baseball programs. My husband’s old Catholic school, however, (“The Hall”) has a very well-respected baseball program. So does another Catholic school nearer to us (“The Mount”). Mark Teixeira is a hometown boy who went to The Mount. We forgive his playing for the Yankees.

Nicky wanted to apply to these schools because of their baseball programs. So he took the Catholic School entrance exam, applied to, and toured both schools. He struggled, though, with what to put on the part of the application that asked for his religion.

You see, right after we were married, Dave and I sought out counseling from both a priest and a rabbi, and they both gave us the same advice. They felt that which religion we chose for the kids was much less important than that Dave and I agreed on which religion we chose. Twenty-two years into the marriage, it’s pretty clear that even though we decided back then our kids would be Jewish, we did next to nothing to raise them with religion. I’m sad about that, but we’re still incredibly proud of the people they have become.

So when it came to Nicky’s school application, Dave suggested “Jewish, non-practicing.” That worked. Nicky got into both schools and chose The Mount.

The kink at this point was only in my conscience. I had a hard time reconciling the fact that I’d be sending my son to a school whose governing church preached certain views I found abhorrent–especially regarding homosexuality, the role of women, and legalized abortion. In fact, I had written a blog post that ran in my local Patch, called “An Open Letter to Pro-Lifers.” Hilarity ensued. (Not Really.) So, not only was I uncomfortable supporting this organization financially, I was reluctant to be viewed as a hypocrite in my local community.

To whom could I turn for guidance? Naturally, John Shore–a powerful voice in the Christian Left movement. I enjoy his blog, and am always impressed with the advice he gives to people facing situations ranging from sticky (mine) to downright gut-wrenching. He offered me the following guidance:

“…Personally, I don’t think you should lose a moment’s sleep over the choice you’ve made….My understanding is that…local Catholic-affiliated institutions are…self-sustaining, grassroots entities. They’re not funneling money upwards to the Pope….

“Life is complex. Needing to do what’s best for your son isn’t. As long as he understands the complexities and subtleties involved in the decision to send him to the school, and he’s cool with it all, then…boom. Done.” Leave it to the unfundamentalist Christian to help the non-practicing Jew make sense of sending her son to Catholic school.

While Nicky’s likely the only Jew in his class, he’s not the only non-Catholic. He’s got company when he sits out communion. He’s not feeling any pressure to convert–only to learn. No pressure to actively participate, only to be respectful of his Catholic surroundings. Enthusiastic teachers, many of whom graduated from The Mount themselves, have clear and deep loyalty and appreciation for the school and the kids. There are high expectations and a loving community. There’s the fact that when anyone asks how he likes high school, he answers, “I REALLY like it!” We couldn’t be happier. Baseball tryouts were in February, and he made the 9th grade team.

Here’s a clip from the second game he pitched for the Mount.  (Music, courtesy of Billy Joel at Shea Stadium.)

This post originally appeared on Kveller.com.  I’ve updated to include information since it was published in October.  🙂

*Nachas is Yiddish for the joy children bring to their parents.

Lost In Suburbia – Book Review*

April 15, 2013 § 9 Comments

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Lost in Suburbia – A Momoir contradicts itself right there in the subtitle.  How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs.  Apart from being a mouthful, everyone knows it’s practically impossible to get your cool back in the Jersey suburbs.  Of course, I had to read.  Let me tell you, Tracy not only achieves “cool,”  she attracts “cool.”  She discovers it’s possible to be cool AND live in New Jersey, and she makes it clear that truly, wherever you live, being honest with yourself and having a sense of humor automatically defines you as cool.

Tracy lived in Manhattan, was a TV exec, and based much of her identity on how cool that was.  She remained cool as she met her future husband and married him.  Then she became pregnant, and as most of us know, the downward spiral from coolness happens quickly.  Especially 20 years ago, when, as Tracy accurately surmises, “I think all maternity clothes were made by Garanimals.” Humor like this takes us through her pregnancy, the baby’s birth, and the dreaded bris.  For those Jewish mothers intending to have a bris for their boys, heed her advice in the chapter aptly titled, “Why You Shouldn’t Let your Mohel Take The Red-eye To The Bris.”  (The Mohel, pronounced “moy-el”, is the person who performs the circumcision.) She
explains that a Mohel can either be a doctor with some rabbinic training, or a Rabbi with some doctor training.  She chose the former, since “If the guy was going to make a mistake, I preferred he screw up on the Hebrew rather than the surgery.”  With that, we know she has her priorities straight.

She follows the arc so many of us do, which is to say, her family outgrows their tiny space in the city, needs more room, resigns themselves (after kicking and screaming) to the suburbs, and struggles with identity post-kids.  What she does differently is write about it in such a way that I was snorting with laughter through every chapter, while relating to her experiences, and being caught off-guard by the perfectly-timed moments of poignancy when they happened.  At one point, after having gone back to work post-baby, she came home at lunch time to discover her nanny (and a few other nannies) laughing, eating chinese food and watching tv while  her baby (and a few other babies) were playing happily and contentedly nearby.  She runs to the bedroom and calls her husband to tell him how unhappy she is.  “‘I thought I wanted to go back to work, but I hate my job and I miss our son and the nanny is having a better time than I am,’ I cried.”  I was so moved by this, and I have never had a nanny, nor did I go back to work post-kids.  That’s part of what makes her book so unusual.  You don’t have to even come close to having had the same experience as Tracy in order to feel exactly what she feels in long-distance sympathy and understanding.  It is SO relatable.

Hilarious moments (who hasn’t been stopped by a cop while in her ducky bathrobe, or ignored the Board of Health warning on a restaurant’s door, or interviewed the Chief of Police with a pair of thong underwear stuck to our shirt?) and personalities (everyone has a “Peanut-Free Cheryl” in their lives) make this so much fun to read, as do the moments of epiphany, such as one that comes when she is struggling to find “her people” among the New Moms set.  Thinking she could be friends with anyone else who had kids the same age as hers failed miserably.  She realized “Women who were annoying, narcissistic, shallow, or just plain boring before they had kids were still that way after they had them.”  She conveys how hard isolating motherhood can be, but figures out a way back to find friends, a new career, and her cool.  Though it’s my humble opinion that her cool was evident even when she thought it wasn’t.

On a serious note, one thing I absolutes LOVED in this book is the portrait she painted of her husband and her marriage.  It’s never overtly stated, but from the way she writes about their interactions, they are so clearly best friends and have so much respect and love for each other, it made me wish I lived in New Jersey so we could double-date.  Okay, maybe that’s going too far.  But I at least wished they lived in Baltimore.

*DISCLAIMER:
1.  I received the book I’m reviewing here for free from the publisher.
2.  I won another copy of the book in a Twitter Party.  I’d make it a giveaway here, but I have no idea how to do that legally, and I’m lazy, so I’m just going to give it to my sister.
3.  All opinions are my own, but are heavily influenced by how much coffee I have drunk.
4.  I get no compensation for writing this review, except for the hope that if I ever get my sh*t together enough to write my own book, Tracy might consider writing a back-cover blurb for it, and possibly introduce me to Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess.

You can get your copy of Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir at this Amazon link.

I’m Still Here…and There, and There, and Sometimes Over There…

April 3, 2013 § 2 Comments

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Hello, people!

I realize it might seem I go dormant for a couple of weeks on the blog, but I assure you that’s not the case.  Except for when it is.  But really, at the moment, it’s not the case.

Sometimes I’m published other places, and sometimes I get paid for it, and other times I don’t, and sometimes if I publish something HERE, that makes it so I can’t publish it somewhere else, etc.  Sooooooo, I will do my best to remember to direct you guys to other places who have the wisdom and good taste (or really low standards, take your pick…) to publish what I write.  🙂  The reason I haven’t done so up until now is that I am what is known as a “technomoron.”  I don’t make the connection between the fact that just because I publish on Kveller or Aiming Low, you (the actual blog followers) don’t automatically, magically see that content.

Last week, I read a blog piece on The Times Of Israel that really made me mad about the threat of intermarriage to Judaism.  The concept itself doesn’t bother me, but the terms in which this rabbi described intermarriage and those who partake in it was so offensive I needed to respond.  Here’s the link to what I wrote there, entitled “Rigidity is the Real Threat to Jewish Continuity.”  The piece that prompted the response is linked to at the end of my piece, if you’re inclined to read it.

However, if you only have time to read two pieces, I recommend (of course) mine, and this one: “The Threat of Warrantless Hatred.”  This high school student in Massachusetts responded to the nasty comments on my piece with an op-ed of his own.  While my piece prompted its own fair share of hatred and mean-spirited responses, it also prompted this thoughtful missive from someone who contributes to the great hope I have for today’s youth.  I was very moved by his heart and intellect.

Anywho, that’s all for now – I’ll do my best to keep you all up to date if for whatever reason, I’m showing up There instead of Here.  🙂

xoxo,

Aliza

P.S.  Nicky (my 14-year-old) pitched 4-1/3 solid innings a couple of days ago.  So there.  You can read about why this is so cool in this piece I wrote for Kveller.
P.P.S.  Go Orioles!!!

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