What’s next for my girls in Judaism?

The following is a note I jotted down and posted for opinions on Facebook. I plan to follow up with further thoughts after a discussion was started and I had time to think deeper. 

need to talk this out somewhere.

sometimes I hear friends say how nervous or worried they are about raising girls because it comes with so much *teaching* and complications – because there’s so much work to do for girls to keep up with society’s expectations or breaking the expectations. ok I dunno if friends say it, but I say it.

and for me a lot of that comes out in ‘establishment judaism’ – expectations built in either on purpose or as a byproduct of the way establishment defines jewish tradition and standards. now that I have two daughters in the ‘system’ – which is pretty much society itself – I’m reliving all these feelings of being put down, jewishly-speaking, while growing up in the ‘system’. wearing skirts five days a week while boys wear pants limits you – it limits how you are portrayed and it limits your definition of yourself. it tells you what you are and what you are not. being expected to bring the challah ingredients or the snack for ima shel shabbat on Friday while boys are expected to bring grapejuice – limits. handing out the tzitzit to the boys, as the toranit, limits. it limits and it sends a very strong message – my place is here to give and give and give. give the boys what they need to be chazan and lead. and then take a step back and follow.

there was a week back there when my four year old wanted to wear tzitzit every day. who could blame her? I remember standing to the side on simchat torah watching the boys and men dance and make a show and be the center of the universe. me, and my mom, and my friends’ moms.

I’m raising two girls and every other day something pops up to remind me that things don’t change easily. or at all. and I moved across the world to a jewish country embedded with traditional jewish establishment. and I live in a *mixed* community, but when applicable, the judaism standards are set for the mainstream and everyone expects it.

it’s unfortunate that I don’t want to send my girls to the same school my son is in. he’s having a great time – it’s beautiful. I’m so happy for him. but I know it won’t be the same for them. the expectations will be different. the dress will be different. the language will be different. the way they are spoken to will be different. and so it goes, on and on.

and that’s what put me down in jewish day school. that’s what I think failed me. and I went to a relatively progressive one! and I’m still working on my self, more than three decades in the making, and I don’t even know where to start with my daughters. ‘just being myself and showing them’ is not the answer – I’m jaded and traumatized and damaged.

and the sad thing is, at 4.5 and 1.5, my daughters are already on that path.

It takes people to conflict.

In a total understatement, there’s been a lot going on in Israel lately. People say it’s the start of the third intifada (again), while other people call for the third intifada.

Stabbings, shootings, stonings, molotov cocktails. Lynch mobs.

And the beat plays on: the same media headlines, the same talkbacks, the same Facebook statuses. The same quotes from the same politicians. The same calls to action from the same leaders. The same nonaction after the same calls to action from the same leaders.

This, after coming off a week of ranting and raving that everything in America stays the same, that gun rage carries on, that no one cares. Obama’s post-Oregon shooting speech could be translated into Hebrew.

In dealing with frustration and anger that we find ourselves yet again in the midst of the ‘beginning of the third intifada, question mark’, I wonder aloud at this thought: why do people – people on the Jewish/Israeli side of the spectrum – continue to refer to the Palestinian and Israeli-Arab men and women and teenagers (if we call our 18 year old victims teens, then so are some of these) who commit acts of knife-wielding terror, animals?

What’s animalistic about making a conscious decision to make a fatal political statement about your life place/politics/anger/zeal? Animals don’t make those kinds of choices – people do. That’s what makes us people. The committers of these acts are people. Men and women. People who live a different reality to you, to us, to whoever. That doesn’t make them animals. It makes them people, in a very true way.

People shot point blank at mother and father driving with their children in the backseat. People stab other people in the middle of busy roads and outside office buildings. People throw stones – when did you last see an animal throwing stones?

People find guns and shoot them at other people who are not living the same reality as they are. People of all stripes – some of them share our reality and some don’t.

And so we are people too, even if we think other people don’t agree. We are people who make choices about how to handle and interpret and act on our reality. Everyone involved in this conflict is a person.

It takes people to choose to conflict. It takes people to choose to not conflict.

The State of Jerusalem Pride 2015: lovers love, haters hate

‘Why do we have parades?’ My 6yo kept puzzling over that one.

‘We have parades to say something.’

He wanted to know what we’re saying now.

‘We’re saying that love is good, everyone can love whoever they want.’

‘Why are there rainbows?’

‘Because there are so many kinds of love.’

The kids will probably remember it most as ‘ugh, mom walking us all over Jerusalem while we were already tired.’ But I believe a good education can be subtle, and take place over the course of an entire childhood.

And the reason to be there, more than anything else, was to be there.

Because teenagers need to see other people like them.

Because people need to know they are not alone.

Because families have a right to be, despite shape and size and sex.

Because a violent hater can be released from prison and a decade later repeat his crime six times over.

One day it will click.

Also, rainbows.

State of the Workspace 2015: working from home vs working from an office

I’m at a point where I can say I’ve gone both ways, and, a year into my ‘new’ job, I can sum up my thoughts on working from home versus working from an office.

In no particular order, except that the first item on the list is OBVIOUSLY most important, here is my…

State of the Workspace 2015:

Clothes: Actually… It’s not as hard as I thought to fake it with clothes that feel like pajamas but play the part. Perhaps even harder than the ever elusive ‘work-life balance’ is this – the ‘feel good-look half decent’ balance. And about ten months in, I figured out concealer.

Audio enrichment: Podcasts while running in the morning – check. Podcasts while commuting in the morning – check. This category gets a tie.

Fitness: Now I spend the time I was running, driving. But I also spend the time I was sitting at a kitchen table eating, racing around the office to find people. The fact is, I really missing running. I miss feeling fit. I felt more fit during my third pregnancy while working from home than I do now.

Food: In this category, I lose either way. Why is food during work hours such a hassle?

Networks: Obviously working in an office with lots of different people connected to other different people is better for making connections, getting fresh air, and practicing my native skills of empathy and tolerance. Well, some of the time.

Coworkers: From home, I worked for a ’boutique’ marketing agency, learned a lot about the business, worked on very different projects, experienced client relationships and sharpened a lot of skills. I was working with a tiny team of people I’ve worked with for years before – we knew each other very well. And Skyped daily. But I always knew – introvert that I am – that I missed having a team in my vicinity. Knocking on other people’s doors (or barging in as the case may be), striking up conversations over coffee. Part of that is the fortune of working with great people. Part of that is – introvert that I am – I do require human interaction in doses. Like vitamin D.

Parenting: You know what – in a weird way, working in an office wins. You’d think that being home all day means when you pick up the kids you have way more energy to spend with them. But I find it to be the opposite. I was a drag as a WAHM. I was done by 4pm. Now, I’m still on at 4pm. And 6pm. I’m tired, of course. And I have way less time for the random stuff I used to do for the kids. But the quality of the time and my mood is way better. And I can be amusing and silly way easier with the energy floodgates opened.

Boundaries: I didn’t have as much opportunity to push boundaries. I had some – working with clients taught me a lot, both business-wise and skills. It did push me. But being around dozens of people and solving tactical problems while solving people problems while keeping my shit together at a constant rate is a whole other skill set. Which, it turns out, I already had from the pre-WAHM days. I had just forgotten.

Happiness: When I took my current job a year ago, I knew all hell was breaking loose. The hours. The commute. The energy. The sacrifices. How would I manage it all? But as absolutely insane as it was to be thrown in the deep end right from the gate – I was growing happier. And then I realized – working from home wasn’t working for me. There are a lot of benefits, and a lot of things I miss.

And then, this past winter, those days it was pouring outside, and I’d think, ‘who the hell would choose to go outside for any reason today?’ but I’d still push myself to get dressed and get in my car and wish for the WAHM lifestyle… well, those days did always come to an end.

I’m simply… happier now than I was then.

Seriously, I think it’s the vitamin D.

So, State of the Workspace 2015: I’m sure I’ll work from home again. I’m sure I’ll work in different offices, too.

But after three years at home, I’m happy to be doing something different.

5 metaphors that describe my working motherhood right now

Just for fun, because I just finished working and it’s after 10pm, here are five metaphoric-idiomic examples I can think of off the top of my head that describe my experience right now as a fairly career-driven, family-driven, career driven, family driven, career and family driven working mom.

  1. I’m on a roller coaster that in theory could stop, but I can’t reach the lever, and the fact is, I kind of don’t want to reach for the lever, because I’m a sado-masochist curious about where this will stop.
  2. The chicken comes first. Also, the egg. Both come first. And you rule the roost. Both roosts. You rule all the roosts even when you’re pooped.
  3. Most of the time, it’s about keeping your head above water. Sometimes you just have to hold your breath and jump in, feet first. Sometimes it’s not you jumping in, but your kid, at his swim lesson, while you’re scrambling to organize a press release.
  4. The ball is in my court. Constantly. But my hands are tied. And now my wrists are tired. And also my face. My face is tired.
  5. There is no such thing – for anyone, ever – as sleeping like a baby.

And with that, Slack is buzzing and some kid is stirring and cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…

WANTED: someone to talk to

ThankfulIs anybody out there?

Two 30-something partners and parents of three and full time marketing professionals seeking someone similar who has figured it all out. Realizing that no one has truly figured it all out, also seeking someone who has at least crossed to the other side of hectic and has less regrets than one would assume.

These individuals cannot currently provide help in the form of locally-residing parents or trust funds or native fluent Hebrew or any spare time.

But they can provide:

  • a generally optimistic take on it all
  • a healthy dose of not taking life too seriously
  • a joint sense of humor that takes the edge off

If you have any information as to where the secret to making this work might be located, or anyone who has survived not making it work but making it work enough, please be in touch.

No better Israel education than the one from your sabra kids

Things I love about Independence Day season in Israel:

  • Every year – without fail – I manage to learn something new from my kids.
  • This morning, all dressed up for the gan celebration, on the way to the car, my gan-aged kids broke out into song together.
  • I asked them to teach it to me.
  • By the time we got to gan, we were all three singing it together.
  • The song – Eretz Yisrael Sheli Yaffa v’Gam Porachat – was stuck in my head by the time I pulled away from gan.

 ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת 
מילים ולחן: דתיה בן דור

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני בניתי בית בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני נטעתי עץ בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני סללתי כביש בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ
ויש לנו כביש בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני בניתי גשר בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ
ויש לנו כביש
ויש לנו גשר בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני חיברתי שיר בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ
ויש לנו כביש
ויש לנו גשר
ויש לנו שיר על ארץ ישראל