Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Letters From The Past

This past Sunday my husband and I undertook a very long overdue project, one we have pushed off doing for a long time.

We emptied out our attic.

It's almost like an IRA account, constant contributions over the years, but penalties if you withdraw anything.  That's kind of how we treated the stuff up there.  We did go into our attic frequently, to take down and return suitcases, The Pesach Stuff, The Succos Stuff, The Chanuka Stuff, The Machzorim.  But for the most part it was storage of things we didn't use but didn't want to discard.

One of the collections gathering dust is a box of papers and things from our pre-marriage status.  And in that box are letters. Cards. Communications. Newspaper clippings.
"A-Ba-Ni-Bi-O-Bo-Hay-Bayv-O-Bo-Ta-Bach wins Eurovision, the sign of stupidity..." (this clipping was in Hebrew and my husband had to translate while gasping for breath at the Israeli humor).

My favorite box: the Nachas box - with reports, awards, report cards (not all such nachas) of my children.  Old class photos.  The Rosh Hashana and Chanuka and Mother's Day cards,   love notes, angry notes, refua shelaima cards, birthday cards, all from my children.

Of course I spent waaaay too much time rereading everything. 

But all this is just to give you an idea of how...old everything in my attic is.  And to lead into my feelings of how fast the years went by,  my yearning for a time long gone.

Letters. Letters. and more Letters.
Between my husband and his cousin in America (he grew up in Israel) who he connected with one summer after a visit.  This was in the 70's, when people didn't call frequently. Thin light blue airmail letters, where you wrote on every available space.
Letters between my husband and his uncle, aunt, brothers, grandmother.
Birthday cards.
All the letters I wrote home from my seminary year in Israel. That my mother saved.
50 or 60 or 70 postcards from my father, who traveled often (still does!) throughout the United States. Photos of wheat fields and combines and tractors and big cities and famous midwestern landmarks.
Birthday wishes from my siblings.
Mazel Tov letters when my husband and I got engaged. Some in Hebrew, some illegible, all lengthy and wordy and shmoozy and some weepy.  (We had hoped to move to Israel.  My sisters' letters, one excited I would be living there during her seminary year four years in the future, one from a younger sister sad she wouldn't see me often).
And eventually, Mazel tov cards and letters for the birth of our children.  From my beloved grandmother, A'H.  A brother in Yeshiva in Israel.  An old friend.  A relatively new sister -in-law.
And beautiful, sometimes sappy, sometimes mushy, definitely loving and young and excited-about-our-future letters and cards from my husband.

To all of you young people from a generation that texts, emails, instagrams, tweets-  it won't be the same for you.  Even if you save every electronic communication.  It won't smell and feel like the past, like a time gone by.  Reading those old emails and texts will not take you back to those memories, won't remind you of where you were, will not be a physical lasting reminder of the beautiful relationships and correspondence you once had with your loved ones.

Go write someone a letter. Now! And ask them to write back to you.
One day you'll cherish it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Am A Specialist

How do you define  Specialist?

Someone who is special?  Someone who specializes at something? Someone who has the experience to say they specialize? Something a person does to the exclusion of everything else?

Is experience linked to giving yourself the title of Specialist?

Or can it mean your education and training focused exclusively on one area of your field, and when you graduate, you are now a Specialist.  Can you call yourself that, if you've only worked for four months?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Focused Conversation

My husband is very succinct and to the point.  So when I repeat a story to him, his eyes usually glaze over after about 90 seconds because it takes me a while to get to the main point.  I'm really working on improving this conversation style, and after hearing a caller this morning on a radio show, I understand how my rambles sometimes sound to him.

"....hey Steve, it's Margie, I've called before, how are you guys?"
"We're good Marg, how are you doing?"
"Great, great! I'm going down the shore next week, not really the shore, nearby, actually past Atlantic City a little bit, I'm spending a week with my friend.  I go every year, over Passover, I'm not Jewish, she is, but we spend time together over her holiday, and I do half the cooking, there's a lot of eating, and I spend the time with her and her husband, I go alone, cuz I'm alone, that's a different story, and anyway, so her husband bought a Tesla, the electric  car you were talking about, and it doesn't even have the spare tire, cuz there's no trunk, I mean it's in the front, cuz there's no motor, and you have to pay separately for the tires! At least that's what I think he said, that it's a base price, and the tires are $400, and then what do you do without a spare, so he's thinking of giving it back or something, cuz he didn't even realize it didn't come with spare, or even a place to store it! So I thought you or your listeners might find that interesting".

Summary: Don't buy a Tesla, It doesn't come with a spare tire.

Of course to fully appreciate this conversation, say it without commas or periods, and use a Bronx accent.

I thought it was funny.

It's Not A Contest...

...To see who is having the most people possible for Yomtov.

This past week, pretty much every person I've met has asked, "so who's coming for yomtov, having a full house? A lot of people?"
I understand asking , "Are you're parents coming?" or the popular expression (yich), "your marrieds".

We've had this discussion before, how the women work very hard with shopping and meal planning and cooking, and it is overwhelming, and those outside the Tribe wouldn't understand cooking 16 meals for 10-20 people.  And yes, our pre-Pesach activity is almost exclusively focused on cooking (and clothing shopping).  But I always have the feeling of it being a one-upping conversation:

"Hey, how's the cooking going? Big crowd?"
"Yeah, the usual, my 5 plus my marrieds and my mom in law and her aid.  No big deal, really. Whatever.  What about you?"
"Well, we have a little break Shabbos Chol Hamoed, just the 9 of us."

But I think this week I will try to meet people with, "So, do you have a nice Pesach or Hagadda Dvar Torah you can share with me?"

Oh, and here's what's happening in our house!!
First days we are 6 people.  We are really looking forward to it.  Will be a very focused Seder, one guest, my single kids, us females can sing everything! Another guest or two for some meals.

Chol Hamoed and the last days, all my children, a few extra guests here and there.

I am looking forward to my meals with guests, and my meals with just my children.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Yeshiva World: Print Entertainment

You gotta love the comments.

DIP3 has categories for the types of comments on the jewish news websites:

The Grammar Nazis:
 "hey #3, maybe use a spell checker"
"you idiot, if you had graduated past 3rd grade you'd know it's YOUR not YOR or YOURE"

REAL TIME EXAMPLE: you mean CAVALRY.  they're not a christian group
You mean ” Cavalry “.they’re not a christian group. - See more at:
You mean ” Cavalry “.they’re not a christian group. - See more at:

The Gemara Quoters:
"I'm sorry, but in Avoda Zara Daf yud amud beis it clearly states, R'Yochanan holds differently, he says Rome was the most powerful.  So clearly the tanoim knew more than you, buster.  And we all know from other examples that Obama is Rome. And Yovon. And Haman. "

"#8, I've seen your comments and you always say you were a top bochur but clearly you must've been  out drinking coffee during the shiur because no gemara supports your opinion.  You sound ignorant"

 The Halacha Sticklers:
" you don't know what you're talking about, the Mechaber clearly states about this issue that devorim sheain bohem ...."

The Hashem Criers:
"Hashem! Hashem! Help your children! Your flock is begging You to answer its tefilos!"

The Meshichists:
"Oy! We need mashiach so soon.....our tears are overflowing...."
"If this tragedy and travesty doesn't bring Moshiach what will, I know he's waiting in the wings"

The Lashon Hara Police:
"I think all of you posters really need to think about how what your saying is mamesh lashon hara and you might even be causing real anguish to the guy's family"

"I'm sorry to say this is real lashon hara your tattes would be so sad for this they survived aushwitz to have their kids waste ther time saying really lashon hara things about a man who supports his family and the hole comunty everyone nows he's a big bal zedada"  (errors intentional)

of course we also have those whose spelling is atrocious and do not heed the admonishment of the Grammar  and Spelling Nazis:

REAL TIME EXAMPLES: there are some ill education people in are community

But DIP3's absolute favorite is someone named Poppa bar poppa, who, according to her, comments on every single thread. Every day. In the Yeshiva World Coffee Room.

Look it up!

Does Hashem Care About Our Resume?

Shidduch resume, that is.

DIP3's resume is "different".
instead of writing  "summer jobs", it says, "how she spent her youth"
instead of writing  "our  mechutanim", it says "our new family"

And the clincher that is causing angst and concern by some well meaning friends...
instead of writing that creative, all tellling, very descriptive word  "references", I wrote  (please prepare yourself for daring, on the edge, risque language)  "the people who know and love her".

to back up:
Some good dear friends, very well meaning, have DIP3's best interests at heart, have told me her shidduch resume is too out of the box.  Too different, unusual, too much  let's make the effort to be different.

So I admit, yes, that's why I wrote it up more creatively.
her personal info (birthday, height, phone #)
how she spent her youth  ( summers)
where she went to school
her family (as it sounds: parents, siblings)
what she's doing now (name of schooling/degree)
our new family
the people who know and love her

So please tell me what you think:
does a resume like this indicate extreme effort to be wierdly different and radically dramatically in your face different to the point where you would automatically look and say "ewww! what wierdo people, SOOOOO not for us, I'm not even going to make one phone call to find out what these people are about"?

Or do you look at it and say, "Oh, cute, a little kitchy, whatever, I know the principal, I'll call her!"?

To me?  It weeds out those families who are not like us.  Who feel threatened or insecure if a list of names is written a little bit differently.
To paraphrase my sister The Eitza Lady,  "I don't think Hashem, who orchestrates all shidduchim, will allow a potential shidduch to pass by because of the way you wrote a list of names.  "

Hashem doesn't have a hidden agenda, and neither do we.  We just want a boy (or a mother) who will look at this resume, squeal with delight and say, "How cute, a little different, the girl must have personality, I love it!"

Which by the way, I think WAS a deciding factor in DIP1 and DIP2's shidduchim.  My sons-in-laws' mothers loved their resume.