Monday, January 31, 2011

The Benefit of a Date

(I'm posting this from my iPhone, so I'm going to have to post the link the old fashioned way. If anyone knows of an app that will let me do a hyperlink on here, I'm all ears, er, eyes.)

Bad4 posted a long and very good post about the benefits of shidduchim. (You can read it here: However, she missed one very important and simple benefit.

I used to think it was only my family that had moments like these. Two of the married siblings were there for shabbos, along with their very cute but very messy brood. Toys are strewn about all of the main lingo areas of the house. The yeshivah bochurim were home for an off shabbos, and left a trail of hats, laundry and other miscellaneous paraphernalia in their wake. A mess like that is rather unmotivating, and so it idles.

And that's where shidduchim are useful. A friend of the family, who has a number of children in shidduchim once looked at her (to put it kindly) untidy house and proclaimed: "what this house needs is a date." Yep. A date. A deadline to buckle down and clean up the mess.

And that, my friends, is the number one benefit to shidduchim.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top Ten Ways To Entertain The Morah

The Morahs always claim to have an educational reason for asking, but between you, me, and the world wide web, it's for entertainment purposes only.

I spent a couple of summers as a daycamp counselor for toddlers, and my favorite thing to do was ask the kids what they want to be when they grow up. Sometimes in the end of summer pamphlet they sent out, I'd write the responses down to share a laugh with the mothers. The problem is that most kids say boring things like a mommy or a morah.

I once had a kid who said she wanted to be a marriage counselor, but it's less funny when you put it in context; her mother was exactly that.

I hope for my niece's morah's sale that she asks my niece what she wants to be when she grows up. See, my niece will do anything for nosh. And lucky for me, the last time I was at her house I brought lots of it along with me.

It took quite a few twizzlers, but by the end of shabbos, when asked what she wants to be when she grows up, my niece answered confidently: "a politician." She even learned to say "I have a dream!"

I figured it would be good for a laugh when morah asks. Then I figured that we could think of a bunch of ways to make Morah laugh. So here are Top Ten answers to...

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

10) A politician
9) a Marine Biologist
8) Uncle Moishy
7) A Shadchan
6) Justin Bieber
5) A Taxidermist
4) A Chasidishe Rebbe
3) The Biggest Loser
2) A Guinea Pig
1) A Tax Payer

Some rejected ideas included: Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Drill Sergeant, Dog Walker, Psychotherapist, IRS Agent, Plumber, Lady Gaga, Used Car Salesman, NYC Taxi Driver, Polymer Scientist, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Michelle Obama, Mortician, Fisherman, Gas Station Attendant, Pope, Barbie, A JAP, a Neurosurgeon, a bunny rabbit, a dump truck and a calculator, among others.

Have you ever heard any really funny responses to this question? Bonus points for anyone who videos a kid saying any of these! (I'd post the video of my niece saying her career ambition, but I do want to be allowed to visit again...)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Strange Customs

So many of our practices and customs have become a regular part of our life. We get used to them to the point where we don't realize how odd they can look to an outsider.

That's how it was for me, anyhow. Then Kelly (*not her real name) moved into my area at work. Everyone else in the area are frum yidden, so needless to say, Kelly finds our discussions both confusing and amusing.

Take, for example, the birth of Esther's grandson, and her preparations for the upcoming bris. Leaving aside the entertaining conversation we had with Kelly about the custom of bris milah, Kelly found something else confusing.

"Your daughter had a baby?" she inquired. Esther nodded.
"So," Kelly continued, "why didn't you bring in some booze and say that word- what's that word that the guys always say when someone has a baby?"
"Lechaim?" I offered.
"Yeah, why don't you bring in booze and say lehayim?"

Esther didn't have much of an explanation, and so the matter was put to rest until the next day,

The timing was kind of ironic, when you think about it. You see, the very next morning, one of the guys who works near me had a family member's yartzeit. He commemorated it, as usual, by bringing a bottle of scotch and a big box of rugalach.

Kelly saw the treats and exclaimed excitedly "Oh, someone had a baby and they are making a lehayim!"

One of the men that had stopped by for some refreshments offered her an explanation. "Actually, nobody had a baby. Somebody died." thinking he was being sarcastic, Kelly started to laugh. She stopped though when nobody else laughed.

I took pity on her and explained. "He isn't joking. Somebody actually did die." her confusion at that point was complete. "You mean they're drinking booze to celebrate that someone DIED?"

I nodded. She wanted an explanation, but suddenly everyone got busy with work. Some things are better left unexplained.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Every Breath That I Take

I know, I know. It's an old story. We never seem to appreciate the good things we have until they're gone.

This comes up in many ways. A person who's value isn't appreciated until they go on vacation, a store we don't realize we like so much until they've closed down, a product we expected to find in the store until it lost its hechsher. The list goes on. And on.

But one place where this phenomenon sticks out more than any other is in the area of breathing and the common cold. About 95% of my mornings start out the same way; I wake up, contemplate calling in sick to work, decide that being tired doesn't qualify as sick, get out of bed... I won't bore you with the details of my morning, but I assure you that nowhere in my morning routine is there a time slot for "think about my breathing."

And then it happens. I catch a cold. A common cold, as they call it. And then I wake up, wondering why I can't breathe. My mad dash for a tissue is accompanied by runny eyes and a runnier nose. And, being the non-morning person that I am, it takes me a couple of minutes to process the difference. I can't breathe. Not like I usually do.

And each time I get a cold, this goes on for a couple of days. I cant breathe. This is weird. Wow, I normally breathe without thinking about it? And then, inevitably, there is the morning where I wake up with a clear nose, clear eyes, and I don't need to put my face up to the light to make myself sneeze. "One second," I think to myself. "Something is different."

And then it hits me. For a change, I am thinking about how easy it is for me to breathe. And I like it this way. I think I should do it more often. It's kind of nice, thinking about what I have, instead of what is missing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top Ten Times You Shouldn't Pick Up Your Phone

In an interesting reversal of roles, I helped Bad4 in the compilation of a Top Ten list. It wasboth  interesting and frustrating to see my ideas nixed, and I bet she has a better idea of how tough it can be to come up with a good top ten list.

Anyhow, check it out here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What You Didn't Think About

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote a letter to a yid. That letter was a joyous one. I was proud to write it, proud to have wittnessed it, proud to consider that man my "brother."

Today I have a completely different letter to write. I don't want to write it. I don't want to call attention to the wrongful act I saw commited last night. But, once again, I bore witness to the "other side" of an action that was commited by a fellow yid. Only this time I am not proud to call him that. This time I am writing to publicise what he did, only in the hopes that perhaps one other yid will think before they do something like this.

Dear Yid,

I know it was a cold and snowy night. I was armed with warm boots, warm coat and warm gloves, and still the treck from my parking spot to the entrance of the rest area on the Garden State Parkway was frigid and miserable. I understand wanting to park closer to the door. But I would have never actually entertained thoughts of doing it.

And yet, there I was, approaching the door, and I saw the sight I wished I hadn't. But even if I had walked in two or three minutes later, it would have effected me. You see, when you parked next to the door, rather than in a legal spot, you weren't just risking a ticket. You were angering the lady who works there, who witnessed you pulling up. You were in a haste to get out of the cold, so you missed her reaction, but I didn't.

"Must be handicapped," she declared.

I looked at your hastily retreating back, and then at her rolling eyes, and I could practically feel the scorn. Her eyes then turned to me, and the blame reflected in them was obvious. Her eyes were talking. They were screaming at me, "you Jews. Why don't you follow the rules." It was at that moment that I wished you didn't have a big black yarmulka perched on your head, that you didn't have a pair of tzitzis dangling behind you, that you didn't look so Jewish. But you did, and so do I, and so the blame for this incident fell on not only your shoulders, but on mine, and every other (religious) Jew in the world.
It's a tough job, being an embassidor to the Jewish nation, to our G-d, but every time you don that yarmulka or dress like a religious Jew, you take that responsibility onto your shoulders. And tonight, as you parked illegally, without thinking about how others would react, about who would see you, you took that responsibility and threw it away. For what? For a few seconds of warmth?

I walked past that woman, feeling her eyes on me as I went. When I came out, she still stood there, at the door. And your car still sat there, illegally, at the curb. And her eyes still spoke volumes.

Her glare followed me to my car. The entire time that I walked through the cold snowy ground, the very same walk you saw fit to avoid, I thought about the ramifications of your actions. It might seem petty, but to her it wasn't. She witnessed hundreds of cars pull up, park in an ordinary spot, and walk through the snow to the rest area's entrance. And then you pulled up, but you had to be different.

I'm sure you didn't realize that you're a representative to an entire nation. I'm sure you never expected your action to be noticed, much less cared about. If you had, I like to think you would have done something different. And that's why I write this letter. Perhaps you will never read it, but somebody will. Somebody who will think two or three times before committing an act that will make other look down upon our nation. And maybe, just maybe, this very same woman will one day receive the chance to see the good side of a yid's behavior.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Top Ten Auto-Corrects

Last week's post discussed my exciting new phone. This week's is dedicated to an aggravating feature for all iPhone users, but particularly for those who speak "yeshivish."

Stam was nice enough to let me help her with the first entries onGevalt! Auto Correct, a spinoff of a non-Jewish site with a name not fit for a G-rated blog.

In honor of Tuesday, there are ten posts up there to get you started. Keep checking back, submit your own GAC stories, and spread the word. There isn't a frum iPhone owner who won't acknowledge the necessity of this site.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Do I Have a Dreaded Disease?

I don't generally read Family First's Advice Line column, both because I despise advice columns and because I find they mostly don't apply to my stage of life.

This week's topic jumped out at me, and I'm slightly surprised that nobody seems to have been commenting on it.

The question comes from a worried mother who says that her daughter is (nebach) 22 years old and insists she isn't ready yet for marriage. Her question, in a lot more words, was basically "what can I do to make her ready."

To the magazine's credit, the first two responses were fairly intelligent. The first responder wrote that not all young adults feel ready to get married at the time that peer pressure expects it of them, but there MAY be a bigger issue behind it. The second responder was great. He called the mother out on her question, questioning her motives in asking. As much as a yiddishe mama wants to see eineklach, she can't rush her kid into it.

The third responder, however, really bugged me. I wonder if anyone else found her response disturbing. In her answer, she equated the daughter's unreadiness to get married to appendicitis. "Would you wait to get your child medical care because they insisted they're 'not ready yet?'" she asks.

Untreated appendicitis can be fatal. Is she saying the same thing about wanting to wait before getting married? Perhaps my life is over because I'm not married yet.

Don't get me wrong. I do want to get married. But I'm not desperate. I like my life now. I enjoy my job, my independence. If I would meet someone that would be worth giving it all away for- sure, I'd give it up. But I'm not pining for a man in my life now.

Am I ill according to societal norms? Am I the only one who thinks it is absurd to expect all people to be ready for marriage at the same time?