Fifty-Two Frames: Portrait

The one day my son did not wear his beloved black kippa to kindergarten was the one day I needed to take a portrait shot for Fifty-Two Frames.

Divine intervention?

Since living in Israel, never has it been more trendy to debate religious practice, engage or disengage from extremism, ritually cross-dress, or hate people you don’t actually know in real life.

Personally, I think it would be healthiest for us all to stand back and examine the big picture more often. And then turn to the person on our left or right and offer a compliment. And a listening ear.

What does the portrait mean? Is it cynical, is it thoughtful, is it offensive?

Portrait of a misguided Jewish nation.

(Hope I don’t get in Rav Ovadia Yosef’s way any time soon.)

Week 24: Portrait

Don’t judge a man until you’ve thought a mile under his head gear.

Religion and kids and Israel and me.

I can’t really blame the ganenot (my kids’ teachers). It’s not their fault it all looks so terribly confusing. Or actually that it looks so black and white: my kids go to a Chabad gan system, and therefore, it  must have made my son very ‘religious’ minded.

You see, on most days, he wears a black velvet kippah. The days he doesn’t, it’s blue sruga (knitted). Every day, he wears tzitzit. He must have a very heimeshe soul, and we must be doing something ‘right’… right?

Then again, look at his mom. She takes him to gan in leggings and running tops, and picks him up in skinny jeans and red toenail polish. Oh. She must be secular. Good thing she’s sending the kids to Chabad!

Sometimes I get patronizing comments. “You know why he wears tzitzit, right? Because we say the bracha every day.”

You know who gave him the tzitzit before you and he started saying the bracha every day. Right?

You  know why we chose Chabad over the government-religious gan, right?

You know I grew up learning and practicing the halachot, many halachot you may not have dreamed of, halachot only men need to know, sukkah-building rules emblazoned in my brain. You know I’ve gone down the shomer negiah road, I’ve cried at the kotel, I’ve yearned for Mashiach. One day or another.

Maybe I ought to try a black velvet kippah and tzitzit next, eh?

What you don’t know, though, is that he likes to dress up in a pink butterfly costume. And sometimes asks for a coo-coo like his sister. And that I give it to him. In public.

Anyway. The black and white of the black and white here is fascinating to me. I miss Diaspora like that. My charedi brothers-in-law have gone to pick my kids up from gan and my IAF soldier brother has, too. We’re a bundle of odd identity.

If they only knew what I know. Or not. Who cares.

I just don’t care for the patronizing.

But I can’t blame them, I guess. It looks funny on the outside. Consider the shock  of the actual secular parents we pass on the street.

Here are three facts: I’m a very spiritual person. My son loves the color black. And he cherishes the kippah my brother-in-law gave him.