Good News and Bad News and A Request for Help

First, the good news. Baruch Hashem, my son got married this past Sunday, Lag B’Omer. The wedding was wonderful and we are all very happy for the young couple and looking forward to Shabbat Sheva Brachot with the bride’s family in Zfat.

Now, the bad news. Because of a long and complicated story with the Israeli army (which I may post about at some point but I cannot do it now) my son was arrested by the military police the Thursday before his wedding and taken to spend the night in prison. After a long and tense wait on Friday he was given a hearing and granted three days off in order to get married. He appeared before a judge again on Tuesday and was given another few days off. He was required to appear again before a judge yesterday, where he was told that he could finish his Sheva Brachot week but needs to go back to military prison next Monday morning. He will have a hearing again this coming Tuesday to decide how much time he will need to spend in prison before being released to start his army service.

As I have mentioned before in my blog my son decided to become a Chabadnik during his high school years. The Chabad community is doing its part to help him, as is the Dati Leumi community in my yishuv. People with connections are helping behind the scenes.

Now I would like to call upon the most important community I know of – the righteous women of Israel. I would appreciate prayers for my son to receive the shortest possible stay in prison so that he can join his young wife. I am sure every woman can imagine how difficult it would be to start married life with a long separation from your husband, especially one so completely unexpected.

Thank you and G-d willing we will hear only good news!

Post script: Just to be clear, my son has been spending his time since high school either learning in yeshiva (both in Israel and in Brooklyn (770) or doing what is called  “shlichut” (community service). He has spent time in India organizing meals and religious services for Rosh Hashana, which also included walking in the pouring rain for half an hour in order to blow the shofar for a pregnant woman who could not make it to the Chabad house. He has traveled to other interesting (and dangerous) places in order to be the shaliach tzibur (conduct the prayers) for Yom Kippur where there was noone else to do so.  Back in Israel he spent a year working as a volunteer in a religious high school for boys with special needs.

His uniform is black (hat and suit) versus green, but he has been spending his time contributing to Klal Yisrael just the same.

A Must Read for Women

This article in Salon magazine by Lauren Shields is a must read for all women. She decided to give up the “fashion rat-race” and spent nine months dressing modestly – and learned quite a lot along the way.

I am now working in an environment with many young secular Israelis, mostly women. I am amazed at what is acceptable, even in a semi-professional environment. Bra straps are everywhere (I know I am old, but I was taught that you shouldn’t let your slip show. Letting your bra strap show was unthinkable). I am also a bit appalled at how many people, especially young women, have tatoos. Granted, Orthodox Judaism forbids tatooing oneself, and perhaps that adds to my feelings of discomfort when I see them. On the other hand, I remember a time when tatoos were for guys who wanted to look tough.

In any case, clothing and makeup are only noticed on the first or second encounter with someone. After that their personality and behavior are what you remember about people, and then what is covered or not covered makes no difference.

Dedicated with Love to All Mothers of Boys

I absolutely loved this video. It sums up what it is like raising boys – just multiply by the number of young men under your care and enjoy!

I Couldn’t Agree More

I couldn’t agree more with Leah Aharoni in this opinion piece. What do you think?

Sisterhood Support

Now that Purim is behind us, Jewish women all over the world start what for some is a very stressful month – the time before Pesach (Passover). Some have known for a while where they will be for seder and some are just deciding now. Some have started to clean already and others are refusing to even think about it.

What we all have in common though, is the almost Pavlovian reaction to seeing another Jewish woman during this month – the inevitable question “what have you done so far for Pesach?”.

I’ve thought a lot about this situation, and I have come to the conclusion that what we are looking for when asking this question is not information (who really cares how your neighbor or friend does the cleaning?) but emotional support. What we really want to hear is that someone else is farther behind than where we think we ought to be at the given moment – so that we can feel less guilty about procrastinating, and less stressed out about the whole thing. After all, if Mrs. X has so much more to do than I do then surely I will be able to manage in the end. In addition, we also want to show off a bit, giving ourselves a pat on the back for whatever work we have done so far, and giving us further incentive to do more so we can brag again.

The main problem with the above scenario is that we don’t always hear what we want to hear. If your neighbor has done way more than you have then instead of the emotional support you are looking for you get a tremendous source of stress.

In addition, the conversation can take an insidious turn if we start to talk about what the other members of our family are doing to help. We all know women who are married to angels from heaven who not only know how to clean like professionals, but are willing to do this cleaning after long days of work, and do the cleaning EXACTLY as we would. Others have daughters – and sometimes sons, who are tremendously helpful and just live to ask “what more can I do to help, mom?” Most of us, of course, are married to wonderful but regular men who don’t exactly fit into this category, and have children who don’t think cleaning for Pesach is a top priority. Comparing our families is not only deadly for shalom bayit (peace in the home) but it almost always just adds to our anxiety and stress and feelings of jealousy.

What we should really be doing during this month is giving each other support. Asking “how are you doing” and responding that “yeah, this time of year is tough” and reminding each other that we somehow all get through it is what we really should be doing. I for one am going to give it a try this year. Who is with me?

The “Unsung” Heroines

Rafi at LifeinIsrael has an interesting post about a young religious woman who has competed in the singing competition The Voice here in Israel. For those of you who don’t know, women singing in front of men is prohibited by halacha (Jewish law) as it is seen as immodest and provocative. (For those who doubt that this is so – just look at this beautiful girl and listen to her sing. I can’t think of anything more provocative than that – even if she is dressed modestly).  A woman is allowed to perform for other women.

What concerns a lot of people is that her decision to go against halacha in this case is very public, and other religious girls will see this and perhaps follow her example.

What bothers me is the fact that there are literally thousands of girls who may be as talented as she is, but choose to follow the halacha and either channel their talents in other ways (performing for women only, for example) or who focus on other things in their lives. These girls do not have a public “heroine” who represents them, and perhaps they think that they are alone.

We need to let these girls know that it is praiseworthy to follow the law and keep to values that have sustained the Jewish people for thousands of years. They need to hear that they are heroines for resisting the temptation of temporary fame.  They need to be recognized for being modest – in the truest sense of the term. Real modesty is not measured only by skirt or sleeve length, it is measured in a more holistic way – by the choices a woman makes and her behavior.

I for one salute all of the “unsung heroines” out there. Kol haKavod!

On a Lighter Note…Introducing Yaldah Magazine

I received an email from the founder of Yaldah magazine, who thought I would be interested in helping promote this magazine written by and for Jewish girls. Leah Caras started the magazine when she was 14, and it has grown and prospered.

The magazine is now holding a Bat Mitzvah Essay Contest. Girls aged 8-15 are eligible. If you know a girl who would be interested have her check out the contest at this link.

The magazine looks great, and is a wonderful example of how girls can be creative and accomplished, without denying their own femininity and inherent modesty.

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