Archive for the ‘jewishness’ Category

“This is not to say that camp is a panacea for socially isolated people with disabilities. ” Nope, but for me it was a panacea for someone who didn’t know they were socially isolated (until they weren’t) who has no major disabilities.

Matan's Musings

“Holy sh**, that’s Matan” – Unknown shmirah (on-duty counselor) late July 1994.

These were the words I heard during the execution phase of a critical step in trying to sneak me across camp, from boys’ camp to girls’ camp on the last night of the first session of Eisner Camp in 1994.

Sneaking across camp, or raiding, was a time-honored tradition, especially on the last night.  I like to think that it was a little more innocent when I was a child than it is now, with the stories that I hear of rampant teenage sexuality, but there is no question that hormones were a motivating factor.

Despite being as motivated as any other 12-year-old boy, there were some significant complexities in the idea that I would participate.  The first was that sneaking across camp involved, well, sneaking, and I was in a large and very loud power wheelchair. …

View original post 1,764 more words

Read Full Post »

BKS building the sukkah

Ben and I built our first ever sukkah this year. It is HUGE (8×12′), big enough to fit our 6′ table and four comfy chairs around it. It is awesome. We mail ordered the 6×8′ s’chach from The Sukkah Project and built the frame from 2x4s (and two 1x2s) from Home Depot and some metal framing braces.

best sukkah ever

Here’s a photo of our sukkah all lit up and set for a nice dinner. Lovely! The back wall (up against the parking garage) looked bland, so I picked up a plastic shower curtain from the BB&B clearance section to hang up there and it really helps it look less blocky and more festive.

A friend from Interlochen, JMV, came down from New York for the first day of sukkot and I had to remind my new bosses that I wasn’t kidding when I said that there were 3 major Jewish holidays in 3 weeks (really 4 in 4 weeks, but I usually only fully observe two of them, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). Ben worked his spousal magic and had a wonderful dinner waiting for us when we got home (picking up cupcakes at the train station, en route home) for Erev Sukkot (the night before the first day). We had a great time and ate too much together. JMV and I spent the first day of Sukkot living in the sukkah (i.e. vegging out, the weather was lovely!).

That’s the latest from here. I’ll try and catch up on my photos from Boulder and then tell you all about my new J-O-B soon!


Read Full Post »

WBF was my roommate my first year at boarding school. We both started living with weird/crazy roommates and worked with 12 other girls to coordinate an unprecedented 9 room, 12 girl switch-a-roo. We were the only ones where neither roommate ended up in the room they started out in. We bonded over Pink, Garbage, No Doubt, and other late-90s girl rock.

We got along like sisters, arguing about stupid stuff and doing little things to taunt each other sometimes. It was kinda awesome. We chose different roommates for our second year at school and then went off to different places for college (me to CCPA and her to USC). I visited LA for one spring break, and later Austin when WBF was in law school at UT and I was finishing up school in Boulder. She planned my bachelorette party (pole dance lessons, followed by pizza and cocktails, and tickets to a cabaret show), it was awesome but poor WBF was really sick and I think she actually skipped the cabaret show. Oh well.

We were all hale and hearty for her wedding this weekend!

And then my camera ran out of batteries and the photographer seemed disinclined to take any photos that didn’t have both halves of the couple in them. I’m vain and hopefully I’ll get to see how my outfit came out in photos! I think the dress I wore was out of the closet for it’s last time, it was almost too big/baggy but I ate enough tacos in 2 days to remedy that…. Back on track now that I’m not longer in tequila and taco land, just in time for the A-RTS festival in my neighborhood and Cinco de Mayo this coming weekend!

Read Full Post »

Around the high holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and for some people Sukkot too), I found out that the office I had been working at over the summer was closing. DOH! Laid off again!

I bummed around the house for a bit, getting REALLY into my yoga practice but still generally bored and baking too much. Then, about a month ago, the executive director at my synagogue contacted me and asked if I would work there until I moved and they hired a real office administrator. I said yes and I’ve been busy since then.

Between working 30 hours/week, going to yoga twice a week, and trying to get to at least one WeightWatchers meet per week I’ve kept myself busy. I wish I could say I’ve been skiing, but the weather has been unusually warm and I don’t have plans to go up until next week. Plus, I’ve been trying to make a big deal of shabbat so that Ben gets a real break in his week. About a week ago he successfully defended his thesis! Not that anyone ever doubted him, but it was nice to see a little note from his advisor and his approval of 72 credit hours of ‘A’ for his thesis work.

Now, we’re trying to get the house ready for Ben’s birthday party next week and then we’ll start packing. We’ve already been slowly purging things, a few paper bags full at a time, and dropping them at the Goodwill truck that parks behind the grocery store. After Ben’s party we’ll start unloading our storage closet and really packing.

For now, other than Ben’s thesis defense (all my photos came out HORRIBLY), the only fun photos I have to share are from Shabbat Hodu, our made-up name for the shabbat following Thanksgiving.

Happy thanksgiving, everyone! I could list a million things I’m thankful for, but I’m going to be lazy and just give everyone a virtual hug >______☺_______<

Read Full Post »

Like many Jewish people who are originally from the East Coast, I make a yearly pilgrimage home to the DC area for the first night seder every year. I’ve missed it only twice in my life, once my freshman year of college when I though going to my friend Steve’s parents’ house would be an acceptable alternative (it wasn’t), missing the one and only time my mom’s cousin Nancy hosted in CT; and once when Passover was so late in the year as to be only 2 weeks before final exams and I stayed in Colorado to volunteer at the Hillel seder to make it what I needed while having time to study, missing the only time seder was held at my grandparents’ retirement McMansion in Solomon, Maryland.

reform passover table setting

This year, as we’ve done since I graduated from college, Ben and I split Passover between our families. This is an awesome way to do it for many reasons, Shabbat with my parents is spiritually very unsatisfying (it may as well be Sunday, no one there cares), seeing our families at least once a year in their native habitats reminds us how much we’ve become citizens of the People’s Republic of Boulder, and most of all we don’t have to kasher our kitchen if we won’t be home to use it!

The first night of Passover this year was on a Friday night, meaning that there were TWO shabbat dinners during Passover this year. This was awesome for us because we were able to spend the first night with my family, the second night at a Kehilat Shalom’s second night community seder, and then travel up to the Boston area for a few days to sight see and spend Shabbat with Ben’s family.

If you’re counting that means that we flew out to DC the Wednesday before Passover started, and up to Boston a week later, flying back to Colorado on Sunday, after the end of Passover. We were gone for 10 days. My limit for family. I usually have a 5 day tolerance for family, but we were able to extend it to 7 days by staying in the basement and letting gramma stay in my room. It is MUCH quieter in the basement.

Why were we in DC for so long, you might ask. Because Ben gave his first talk in anticipation of looking for a PostDoc position this coming December! He spoke at NIST Gaithersburg, the main location of which the Boulder labs are just a branch. He had an awesome backwards commute fro McLean, up 495 and out 270 to super-suburban Maryland. I’m not sure if could be happy living out there, but I’m sure we could find somewhere to bunker down for 2-4 if he ends up working there. Other programs he’s interested in are at NIST Boulder, Yale, Harvard, and MIT. My husband is no slouch!

Read Full Post »

Since mid January I’ve been working part-time, as a contract legal assistant in Golden. It’s great. I really enjoy estate planning, it’s helpful! Seriously, law mostly feels like civilized arguing, but estate planning is helpful to the people who seek it out. OK, I’ll stop kvelling.

What else is going on….. Our betta fish, Mr. Rocky Balbetta, has been adopted out after eating my oldest cherry shrimp, one of the younger shrimps is now pregnant (although it’s her first clutch and she drops an egg or two every time she shifts her gestational sack to poo). We also added two spiky dwarf snails to the aquarium, who ate all the algae off the windows in 3 days! Now we have to add algae tablets to the tank once a week to keep them well fed.

Two weeks ago was Ben’s lab ski retreat. I did the meal planning and took the two first-years who organized the trip to Costco. They seemed to think it was going to be a bachannal, it wasn’t. Some of the older students (Ben’s age and post-docs) brought their Magic The Gathering cards, and someone else brought National Parks Monopoly. It was what we all needed, two days of great skiing and evenings of eating too much and hanging out in the hot tub.

Last week, Ben and I went to a preconception class at the Boulder Community Hospital. It made us realize that 1) BCH is awesome and it would be a great place to birth a baby, 2) we’re not financially or really even emotionally ready to have a baby, and 3) I need to loose 10-15% of my body weight to have as healthy a pregnancy as I can. That might take a while. The good news is that I can indulge my selfish emotions and spending habits by continuing to ski, buying new skis, and exercising on them in the meantime. So the only thing that’s changed since the Affordable Healthcare Act has upgraded my insurance to include dental and maternity care is that I’m going to the dentist next week and I’m experimenting with starting pre-natal vitamins and trying to find one that doesn’t block me up (apparently high doses of good-for-you-stuff makes me have sad tummy). Please, don’t ask about anything until Ben graduates (December at the earliest).

This past weekend I fell in love with a pair of demo skis. I’ve been using Becca’s old skis, but they’re not right for me, so I rented a pair of regular old intermediate skis and HATED them. Seriously, I don’t know how to ski on those, it was like skiing on 2x4s, so I went back to the rental shop and told them as much, after chit-chatting with the technician he asked what I usually ski on (busted old hand-me-down 156 Nordica Dobermann skis with some seriously heavy racer bindings). He gave me last year’s Volkl Kenja skis, 149, and ultralight Marker bindings, and I fell in love with them. They’re some of the lightest skis in the all-mountain category, and they felt GREAT, but I’m not sold yet. So, Thursday, Lisa and I are going up for a Women’s demo day, up at Loveland, to try out my dream skis and some cheaper ones too. Becca and her dad, Ed, have sourced my dream skis for $425, un-mounted, and I’ve heard rumors of financial assistance when it comes to bindings…. That’s still a lot of money compared to the free ones I was on, but those no longer suit me.

Also this past weekend was  a big fundraiser dinner for Aish Kodesh, the local modern orthodox congregation. I got a free ticket by being one of the board members for the local Jewish CSA (Tuv Ha’aretz), since we donated a large share with a fruit share to their congregation (the original idea was that it could be used for kiddishes but they decided to auction it off, whatever), so they gave us a ticket to the gala as a thank you. It ended up being one of the highest valued ticket items, and one of the most bid on too. Ben was able to go as a representative of our Young Adult Minyan for only $36, and we entered the iPod Touch raffle and big on a pair of earrings (and won!), so we didn’t feel like complete free-loaders. It was fun and we actually knew a lot of people there.

Finally, this week my boss in Golden is out of town (thus the Thursday ski trip), so I’m working about an hour a day from home for her. It’s nice to have a mini vacation! I get to blog, catch up with my TiVo, give the aquarium a through cleaning, and I’m going to experiment with making granola tomorrow and elaborate challah braids later this week.

So there you go, great voyeurs of the internets, you should all be caught up on the past month’s major goings on now.

Read Full Post »

So far, I’ve had a great day, which is odd because so many bizzaro things have happened.

First, this morning there was a crazy car accident where someone drove straight at a T exit off the highway, into the garages for our building! Thankfully no one was injured (only 2 sports cars that were towed before this photo was taken) and the nutso who ran their car through a brick wall was caught and taken to jail after a short foot chase by the officer that hangs out 24/7 at the gas station across the street. That was odd (the accident and the foot chase, the cop is because there of easy access to major roads and a bus station). Yes, what you see in the garage to the right is a small car with a box on top of it, that box in the rafters on a shelf and got knocked onto the car.

Also, I live in the land of the Subaru station wagon, can you tell?


Then, I went into work at the same place I’ve been all week, only to find out that the server crashed last night! Not just crashed, died. Thankfully the hard drives appear to be OK and no work appears to have been lost. They sent me home (let me bill 1 hour) and I’m waiting for a call and an email with a VPN password. Other bummer, I must have accidentally paid with TWO bus tickets this morning because I had to pay cash to get home. Bummer, that’s $4.50 down the toilet.

So, I came home and got Ben’s tallit, picked him up from work, and we got to go to the Sukkot torah service at Bonai! Woohoo! We got there as they were putting the torah away, but we still got to dance around and shake our lulav (branches) and etrog (awesome smelling citrus fruit that you NEVER eat during the holiday of Sukkot), and sit to make kiddish (bless the wine and have a sip) and have snacks in the sukkah (a temporary shelter or booth that has a roof made of branches or other organic materials that the stars can be seen though at night), made plans for dinners next week in the sukkah with friends, and then I went to the grocery store. So observant of me, right? We needed milk, eggs and veggie broth. Everything I’d gone for at the store was on sale, woohoo!

Below, is a gallery of Bonai Shalom’s super-awesome sukkah, that Ben helped build and I helped to decorate and “supervise” the building of (I made sure everyone knew where the coffee was and kept the kids from eating all the brownies at once).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

G’mar Chatima Tova

It is a beautiful fall day here in Boulder and I wanted to wish that you are all sealed in the book of life for another year and that you have an easy fast tomorrow. If you are completely lost and have no idea what I’m talking I’ve done my best blogging yet: cutting and pasting from another website. Woohoo! Anyway, I ask for forgiveness for any transgressions of mine and forgive you all for yours. G’mar Chatima Tova, may you be sealed in the book of life.

From Hillel’s Yom Kippur Fact Sheet:

Yom Kippur Fact Sheet

Yom Kippur is a holiday that raises many questions. Numerous rituals, prayers, and themes are unique to this holiest day of the Jewish year. This fact sheet will provide an introduction to the practices of Yom Kippur.

  • Yom Kippur is one of the most widely observed holidays on the Jewish calendar.
  • Yom Kippur marks the highest synagogue attendance rate of any other day in the year.
  • To afflict ourselves for our sins, the Talmud requires that we practice “self denial.”  Thus, we abstain from eating, drinking, bathing, sexual relations, using bath oils and lotions, etc., and wearing leather shoes.
  • It is traditional to wear white on Yom Kippur as a sign of purity.
  • Yom Kippur, the 10th of Tishrei, is the day that Moses came down from Sinai with the second set of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, to replace the original set that he broke upon witnessing the children of Israel worshipping the Golden Calf.
  • On Yom Kippur, it’s traditional not to wear gold or other jewelry so as not to remind God of the sin of the Golden Calf.
  • Yom Kippur is the only day where a tallit, the four cornered prayer shawl with fringes that symbolize the 613 commandments, is worn in the evening.
  • Kol Nidrei (meaning “our vows”), the service on the eve of Yom Kippur, is a communal supplication asking God to view all vows made under duress as null and void.
  • In Biblical and Rabbinic times, Temple rituals and sacrifices were the focus of the holiday. Among the highlights of the day was the scapegoat ceremony during which lots would be placed on two goats. One goat would be offered as a sacrifice in the Temple, in the Holy of Holies; and the second would be thrown into the wilderness. Once the Temples were destroyed, prayer and return, i.e. repentance, are the focus while the Temple ritual is recounted as part of the Yom Kippur liturgy.
  • Today, in addition to the traditional three prayer services (morning, afternoon, and evening), Yom Kippur includes a special Musaf (additional) service, Yizkor (memorial service), the Avodah service (a symbolic reenactment of the ancient priestly ritual for Yom Kippur), Viddui (the communal confession of sin), and Neiliah (the concluding service).
  • During the afternoon service, we read the story of Jonah and the whale.
  • During the Viddui, the communal confession of sin, it is customary to beat one’s chest.
  • The Neiliah service marks the end of Yom Kippur and concludes with the blowing of the shofar, a sign of redemption.
  • It is said, “On Rosh Hashana, it is written.  On Yom Kippur, it is sealed.” Thus, the traditional Yom Kippur salutation is “G’mar Tov” (finish well) or “G’mar Chatima Tova” (may you be sealed in the book of life).

Read Full Post »

Happy New Year!!!!

I’ve spent the past 3 days totally unplugged from my laptop, and it was AWESOME. Two days of Rosh Hashana praying, eating, and hanging out, and a bonus day of Shabbat (AKA 3rd day Rosh Hashana to some of my friends) today. We did take a tiny break from from doing nothing this afternoon and went for a drive in the mountains. It’s cool, we’re Conservative and it’s OK to drive on Shabbat. I especially think it’s OK if that’s what you do to feel more relaxed, spiritual, etc. Whatever, we wanted to go leaf peeping (Boulder to Estes Park, Estes Park to Nederland via Peak to Peak Scenic Biway), so we did. It was AWESOME!

Other cool things going on: I learned that it’s OK to cook on a chag (holiday), which is awesome because I DO cook on holidays and on Shabbat (I’m not a chef, so I don’t consider it to be working).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Confession, Chaviva, the Kveching Editor, inspired me to write this post.

I grew up Reform and married a Conservative husband in a very welcoming and accepting of all things Conservative community. I have friends who are frum and friends that bike to shul (and friends who do both!). It’s a great mix of what I think the Conservative movement is all about: allowing being more Jewish to be more accessible!

Bikes and cars on shabbat? If that’s what it takes to get you to shul! Cooking on a holiday or on shabbat? If that helps you feel more spiritually connected to Judaism, cook away!

Growing up Reform for me was great (my family is old German Reform and very tradition oriented), but there are so many practices that we didn’t adhere to that I never even knew about! Part of what draws me to the Conservative movement is the attachment to halacha and the chance to know what you’re choosing to observe or not. In retrospect I felt side-swiped by the Reform movement in that I didn’t know what I wasn’t choosing to observe, so I couldn’t choose to observe things that I didn’t know about and I wasn’t curious enough as a kid to seek them out.

Boarding school and summer camp at Interlochen, Tuesday through Saturday, didn’t make being observant any easier. Not that I tried, other than not eating meat, but that was more a personal choice than a nod to kashrut. There were staff members who would take those of us who wanted to go to services for holidays, and I was part of the leadership for lay-led Kabbalat Shabbat services at camp, but services were very Reform (with a smattering of Conservative practices). After all, who else would let their kid go to a program that had classes on and concerts throughout shabbat?

When I was in college in Chicago, I was lucky enough to find a GREAT Renewal congregation only 6 blocks from my dorm (they’ve since moved from Printers Row in the south Loop to Rogers Park where the new Jewish communities are forming). It was amazing. My first time there was for my favorite holiday of Simcha Torah, but it was Reb Allan’s last service with the community. Lay-led services were the name of the game for my first year there, and I went almost every week. I’d found my home! Then there was a new rabbi my second year and she just didn’t sit right with me. I faded out, along with many of my spiritual buddies there.

Then, I moved to Boulder, ah Boulder. Hillel was AMAZING when I first moved here (it was also before the collegiate Chabad house moved into town). There were secular and observant/frum staff members and wonderful community. Then Rabbi Adam came and I met Ben and all was good in my spiritual world. Adam attended Bonai Shalom (where Ben is an active congregant) and everything fit together so well. Then I graduated and Adam got his dream job at the Berkeley Hillel, and now Hillel is a void of spirituality IMHO. The director is a secular Jew who probably wouldn’t know Rosh Hashana from Rosh Chodesh if it weren’t his job and he didn’t know Hebrew. The last time we went to Hillel was for Kol Nidre last year because Ben was helping to lead services (at their request). He wasn’t asked to do anything for services there this year, so we’re not going at all. If and when my brother, Dan, comes through town, he’ll go to services at Hillel. It’s much easier for him to blend in there and our Reform background makes him more comfortable there than at the more traditional services that I’ve become accustomed to.

How does covering my head fit into all of this? I was never one to wear a kippah/yarmulke/whatever, but when I was in Israel for the first time, in 1998, I felt the need to wear one. As if “why should only men be asked to cover their heads in the synagogue and not in the Holy Land? Why only in Jerusalem? Why only men!?” Until a young soldier told me that I’m being disrespectful and that I should take it off before I get heckled, as I walked with my family through the old city to the Kotel. That really stuck with me and other than being a teenager and wanting to lash out a bit I couldn’t figure out why I wanted to wear one.

Now, however, I cover my head for services because I’m a married woman and it’s a nod to the mitzvah of covering your head and a way for me to make Shabbat more special. I wear nice skirts and tops and a hat to services. That doesn’t mean I don’t wear shorts and a tank top to go hiking, or jeans and teeshirts around town, but I always dress with skirts at least down to the ends of my finger tips and usually past my knees and shoulders covered for Shabbat and chaggim in the synagogue and when going to a more observant friend’s house. It just feels more Shabbat-y to me, and that means “special” or “fancy” in Deena-speak. Just like Shabbat dinners are a slightly more involved affair than Annie’s Mac and Cheese with tuna, mustard, and frozen peas (or anything other than ingredients or plain pasta out of a box for that matter).

I dress with some modesty because I find it to be a way of showing my respect for others in the community and because it makes me feel connected. Yes, I wore a strappy sun dress with a clearly visible sports bra to the Boulder Jewish Festival, but I was not there to pray but to eat falafel and listen to the Macabeats! I also wore jeans to Jew Fest at the university, where all the Jewish organizations on campus got together and hosting a pre-concert meet-and-greet with food before a concert that I didn’t see (too crowded and too many undergrads!). I’m not sure some of those people had ever seen me in jeans or with my head uncovered, I got some funny looks, but that’s me. Following what I want when I feel that it works best for me. I give major props to my frum-y friends who cover their heads and wear skirts everyday, but it doesn’t do anything for me. Yes, I wear a lot of skirts but it’s because they’re comfy and not because I’m dressing modestly (though I do look accidentally frum quite often).

Any questions? Comments? Props? Snide remarks?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »