Archive for the ‘jewishness’ Category


Image by miheco via Flickr

I should, um, do stuff to get ready for the chaggim other than stock the fridge, right? Yeah. Last year I felt pretty much the same way, but tried to have strong intentions of staying spiritual through the holidays and all the way through our wedding (the second of Cheshvan, the week after Simcha Torah). It worked! minus a few minor blips that I blogged about.

Anyway, I’ve been reading up on being a Jewish wife because I’m realizing how little I know. A friend of mine is frum (shomer negia, shomer shabbos, and modest), and I have a general idea of what this means to me but we’ve been talking about what it means to her and I’ve been seeking out other people’s opinions as well. I”m just curious. Side note: tomorrow, I’m going to the local university Chabad to help cook for Rosh Hashana and maybe to pick Leah’s (the rebitzen’s) brain if the opportunity arises.

This was set off by my going to my first Rosh Chodesh women’s group last month (and being disappointed that there isn’t one this month). The topic was quite racy, “Becoming One Flesh: Physically, Emotionally, Spiritually — A How To Guide.” Yeah, it was a loaded evening! There was a lady torah scholar from Denver and a sex therapist dueling for our beliefs at times. The lady torah scholar (I can’t recall her name) was very Kabalistic and the sex therapist quite liberal. Shechina and kosher sex vs. kink and fantasy are encouraged kind of sparring. It was interesting, to say the least. The big takeaway: sex is not a ladder to climb to orgasm (kissing, caressing, petting, sex, orgasm) but a cheesecake sampler platter of verbs to take nibbles of as needed (kissing, spanking, hugging, licking, petting, massaging, etc.) as desired. Both women agreed though that sex doesn’t always have to be a part of intimacy (unless you’re strictly following the halacha of using the mikvah in marriage).

I hope next month’s Rosh Chodesh group is as interesting! I’m really glad I went (even if I was the only child-less woman my age there). It was nice to see some of the ladies from synagogue not herding kids around and being themselves; blurting stuff out and giggling when I’m used to seeing them in matron-mode at kiddish.

Time to get back to chores so that I can have the house ready for Rosh Hashana. Having the house in order helps my spirit be in order!

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Hazon food confab shifts into high gear in Davis | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California.

Above is a link to a really great article about the Hazon Food Conference. I at many of the mentioned sessions (no, it is not possible to eat too much kale unless you eat more than 3 servings a day, every day) and the ginger beer making mime session was HILARIOUS!

I was invited to a followup Shabbat camp-out, but I just got the email about 30 minutes ago when I got home from my epic day of going to the new IKEA and an interview (great fit personality-wise, but I don’t think that I’m qualified enough for it. Bummer.

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Oh my goodness, people. I’ve been published! Seriously! And 42 people have commented so far. The warm fuzzies are seriously flowing over at A Practical Wedding.

Please read my Wedding Graduate post over at A Practical Wedding:


Oh and I hope my dad doesn’t mind, but he had the sweetest comment so I’m going to repost it, along with the photo he’s talking about.

Deena – I like the way this reads.  Also very impressed by the rave reviews that follow.  You should download this or otherwise make sure tht you capture it for inclusion in your wedding files, as stuff on the web has a way of disappearing eventually.

The only suggestion I have for improving it at this late date would be to include a photo of you and Ben at the pool table at the after-party.

Sounds like you might be responsible for a mini-boom in twirly dresses!

Happy birthday.  Love, Dad










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The photo above is AWESOME, Louis, Grandpa Bob, and Ben all lined up with their familial noses and other similarities (you can really see it in color, but there’s a lot of business going on in the background in color here).

My family says the birkat ha’mazon (prayer after meals AKA benching) exactly once per year: at the Passover Seder. I’m not sure how often Ben’s family benches at home, but they’ve never done it when I’m around other than at a seder as well. I’m not sure why, but I felt very strongly that we should have our wedding be as traditionally Jewish as we felt comfortable with, including benching at our wedding. We ordered new copies of the new USY (United Synagogue Youth, the Conservative movement’s youth outreach and activities program) bencher and put home-made bookplates in them with our “logo” from the Boulder Parks & Rec department.

Was using an ampersand in Hebrew weird? Yes, but it does look awesome! Also, I’m sorry if I use too many fonts, I like to make different things different fonts… it’s a weakness.

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blessing the meal

Woohoo! We got a “celebration” size challah from a local kosher bakery. It was a 4 pounder :) My gramma, mother, and MIL said the blessing over the challah. There is a wash station behind them for anyone who cared to ritually wash their hands before the meal.

Can I just take a moment to gush about these lovely ladies? This is the best I’ve seen them dressed all in one place! My gramma is wearing my recital dress from 2002, my mom is wearing a purple sheath dress with a cool, artst tunic, and Sheila is wearing the awesome red dress we found at TJ Maxx last Passover in Mass.

I’m especially proud that my mom and aunt got my gramma to wear that dress because it’s so much younger looking than her typical gramma-wear. I think she looks great! There’s no reason that you should dress like an old lady if you can rock a size 8! And yes, if she knows there’s a camera aimed at her, she will look awkward at best in the resulting photo.

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Bedekin, um I’m not sure what the official translation is except perhaps maybe “veiling.” As in when the bride’s veil is pulled down over her face by the groom. The historical reasoning for this is so that the groom knows who is behind the veil and isn’t tricked into marrying the wrong girl.

BEDEKIN, from our wedding program:

This tradition of veiling the bride is derived from the biblical story of Jacob’s wedding. Jacob did not see his bride before the wedding ceremony, and was tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel.

The bedeken is a private ceremony at which the groom is escorted to the bride before her veiling. As the groom lowers the veil over the bride’s face, he is formally acknowledging his choice of bride.

As you can see, our bedekin wasn’t private, but that’s OK. It meant that our families were able to witness it, stay warm and dry, and add their blessings as well.

Hehe, my mom hugs just like my youngest brother, like a big lump. I’m not sure I’d noticed that before.

I’m not sure if my grandmother reads this blog, but I’ll say here: I’m disappointed that she was late because she missed the reason I have a wad of kleenex in my hand: my uncle Charles (my late grandfather’s youngest brother) gave us a blessing and said that he wished my grampa was able to be there. Thankfully, that’s the only time I cried all day. Maybe it’s better that my gramma wasn’t there, she’s not a very public person with her emotions.

Neither of my aunts were their either, that was kinda disappointing too, but none of them are into public emotions or really Jewish stuff either. Oh well. They can look at these pictures and wonder “why was I outside, freezing my tush off for a good seat and missing this whole thing?”

Honestly, I’m not sure what’s going on here. I was too high on adrenaline. There was something about taking Rabbi Marc’s tallit with intention and that meaning that I want to take Ben as a husband. Or something like that. I’m not sure.

Then, it was time for our male witnesses to sign our ketubah! Ari, Ben’s friend on the left, Ben peering over their shoulders, Rabbi Marc in the middle, and my oldest friend, Michael on the right. I’ve know Michael since we were THREE at Temple Rodef Shalom preschool in McLean, VA. He didn’t have a beard then :) Oh, and I’m obviosuly the marshmallow in the background. I wanted to see too!

I think that photo was taken when Rabbi Marc was explaining that the last letter of the ketubah was intentionally left 1/2 written so that the contract would be written, right there in front of us all, on the wedding day. I thought that was pretty neat.

The reason we wanted male, Jewish witnesses is that we wanted to make sure that our ketubah would be kosher and accepted in Israel. It’s a traditional text with a flowery English translation that we’re both fond of. [We even got it framed over the weekend and should be able to pick it up in 2 weeks!]

KETUBAH: from our wedding program:

Before the ceremony, two witnesses under the supervision of the Rabbi will sign the ketubah, the Jewish wedding contract. The ketubah is a legal document, written in Aramaic that specifies the bride’s rights and the groom’s obligations to the bride. Traditionally, there is no need for the bride to sign the ketubah because according to Jewish law the ketubah is her property.

Ben and I signed our names on the bottom, in English (mine looks like a 12 year old, I was kinda spacey), but there’s no religious obligation to do so. It was my contract and Ben let two witnesses sign it as a way of saying that he accepted it. That’s how a Jewish court (Bet Din) would see it anyway. If Ben had objected, the rabbi wouldn’t have let 2 guys sign it as his representatives.

We had 2 girlfriends (Becca, who introduced us at Hillel, and Andrea, who was my first friend at Interlochen) sign our Colorado license. The third document we had, which was actually signed first, was an pre-nuptial agreement of sorts; it said that if I should ever ask for a divorce from Ben (in a religious court) that he would be required to give it to me. Otherwise, a Jewish divorce can only be initiated by the husband. We had two family friends who are both young and divorced, although one is remarried and the other just recently engaged, sign it for us (Mark the Russian, and Ethan).

That was it, we were 1/3 married (rings and yihud were to come shortly). Then, there was lots of singing and I think someone tried dancing but no one else went along with it. Once all the guests had gone out to the ceremony site my mom and Ben’s dad helped Ben into his kittle (the one my mom spent Wednesday->Friday making).

To be continued…..


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practice makes better

Rabbi, which side do we stand on? AKA how we THOUGHT the weather was going to stay all weekend :-/

Rabbi Marc said that we were the first couple who insisted that we have a rehearsal/walk-though of the actual wedding day. Our parents really wanted it and we like to be prepared. I’m glad we did because it cemented the details we wanted to customize in the ceremony and let all of our vendors (the lead trumpet player for the brass quintet, photographers, and wedding coordinator) know what’s going on and in what order in a more physical way than just reading the program.

Speaking of programs, I have about 30 copies left over if anyone would like one. OR: download program

The only time really I went “bridezilla” all weekend was at the rehearsal, Friday morning, when I snapped and told everyone to shut-up; that they could chit-chat later and that this was our time and that they were wasting it on each other. Later that night, at dinner, Rabbi Marc thanked me. He, Ben and I had been standing there, waiting for everyone to quiet down and they just kept taking! He was being too nice, but in the end he was right to let me boil over because he would have come off as mean where as I just came off as stressed out. I snapped at my mom after the rehearsal too, but that was because I needed to not focus on the wedding for a bit and eat lunch. She needed her own time too! She’d been at my house until 11:30 the night before, making Ben’s kittle.

Thankfully, my mom understood and when we returned to my house, after lunch, she helped me clean for an hour before getting back to work on Ben’s kittle (which, btw, turned out beautifully). I was useless most of the day, helping Sheila (my new mother in law) put together the programs and stuffing more welcome bags. So useless, that everyone was able to get their tasks done without me. I ran away from craft-central (AKA our apartment) to drop off the florists check, and get my legs waxed in the afternoon and hang out with my gramma, aunt Judi, and good friend Becca at the hotel before picking up Ben again and going to kabbalat shabbat services and then dinner at the synagogue with all guests in town already and some select local friends.

I am kinda sad that there are no photos from Friday night and Saturday, but that’s the only downfall from taking a true Shabbat (at least until our pizza party at Hillel, which we also have no good photos of). It was amazing to be able to say that if it wasn’t done by 6 PM on Friday night, it wasn’t going to happen. My mom even finished Ben’s kittle by then! She just had to then go back to the hotel and change into non-crafting clothes. Dinner was super yummy, kosher Moroccan food, and it was so nice to unwind and catch up with everyone who came!

The auf-ruf Saturday was amazing, I didn’t cry! I totally expected to cry when I looked around and saw everyone smiling, clapping, and singing for us, but all I could do was grin and snuggle Ben!

side note: we only caught 2 pieces of candy on our make-shift chuppah, does that mean we can only have 2 kids? I want 3 if the first 2 are the same gender…..

The kiddish luncheon was tasty too, and everyone hung out so long, it was wonderful! Then, most of the “young people” went to Hillel where Katie and Peter, AKA The Bears, had heated up the oven and set up a mini keg of home-brewed 90 Shilling proxy for us. Huzzah! We sat around chatting, getting on a good buzz and eating pizza (while playing with our new camera, there are a few pictures of just my nose, and of buttons on the couch, and other fun “zoomed in” features of the Hillel house).

Shall I keep going?

Saturday evening, I don’t have any photos, but once Andrea and I packed up everything I needed from my apartment, we checked into the bridal suite at the hotel (we had a sleep-over so I wouldn’t be alone and/or need to move in the morning), changed, and went to join my family at Sherpa’s (our favorite restaurant) for dinner. Yum! Then it was hot tub time with some of my favorite ladies (definitely not photos of this).

Ben had dinner with his family in the evening at Antica Roma (where he proposed to me), and then they all met up for gelato at Two Spoons (the same place we took a bunch of our engagement photos).

After we each had a shower, followed by me texting Ben a whole lot, Andrea and I finally got to sleep in the giant, squishy bed until Sunday morning!

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After waiting ALL DAY for the UPS guy on Tuesday, my great-grandfather’s torah arrived yesterday. The guys at the Jewish Bookstore of Greater Washington packed it in what appears to be a small cardboard coffin (well, one inside another, all padded with bubble wrap, what appears to be an entire role of packing tape, and a garbage bag worth of foam peanuts). Thankfully it arrived safe and sound, in its loaner cover that fits it better than its holiday clothes. We took it to simcha torah services and it was danced with for all 7 hakafot. It was fun, but I kept watching after it like a baby until people caught me watching and only friends danced with it. I’ve never held a torah for so long (I danced 2 rounds with it) and my back/shoulder is sore.

Rabbi Marc was amazed, he’d thought I was bringing a small torah, like a not full sized one. Nope, this one is tall and skinny, and hassidic. Other than the tiny travel size torah that we use for kid’s services, it’s normal hight, just a lot skinnier than the German/Ashkanazi torahs that we’re all used to seeing.

Now my decision is if I go to services or not tomorrow. Shabbat is our time off from wedding stuff, and if we go people are going to ask lots of questions about the wedding, and I don’t like talking about it with people who aren’t invited. It is uncomfortable/awkward for me. Then again, I want to see people seeing the visiting torah after services….. But I also want to have a total day off and go hang out in Estes Park (where Ben and I had our second real date) and meet up with Becca. Ack, decisions, I’ve got mushy bridal brain.

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almost none of craft projects that I have assigned myself have been done, or even started. Unfortunately, this means that I kept waking up last night cataloging what’s left. Aaaah, it’s starting to happen, my brain is turning into wedding mush!

Hopefully my veil and earrings will arrive in the mail before my dress fitting on Friday morning, and all my prep for Kol Nidre dinner will be done on before on Thursday. Thankfully, I found a recipe that says it’s best if left for 24-48 hours in the fridge before cooking, PERFECT!

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Things are starting to happen quickly, like dominoes falling. Today we heard from about many people we’d been waiting to hear from if they were coming or not. We also got our ketubah in the mail! It’s beautiful and our names are typo free, woohoo! Kippot have been shipped, welcome bag goodies procured, and crafting dates lined up with a girlfriend.

Tomorrow is Erev Rosh Hashanah, the night when Rosh Hashanah starts. Starting tomorrow night it will be 5771, the year in which Ben and I will be married. Wow. That’s a heavy thought. I know that from this blog it looks like I’m obsessed with wedding planning, and that it’s all I do; I’m not and its not. Wedding planning is my escape from the sad reality of my employment situation. As a bride with a wedding expense account (thanks mom and dad!) I’m a normal, functioning bride, not an under-employed college grad who is addicted to mediocre TV and might qualify for public assistance if not for all the cobbled together part-time jobs I hold.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far, I just want to say thank you, and I hope that you’ll forgive me for any bad stuff I may have said or done this past year. Its the time of year for forgiveness. May we all have a happy, healthy, and sweet year together. L’shanah tovah, happy new year!

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