Friday, April 27, 2007

Optimism and Realism.

Last night, for the first time, I dreamed about my baby. It probably had to do with an email correspondence with Mom In Israel who gave me some information about nursing. I was nursing my baby (a girl, in the dream), and I saw that she was drinking, but she wasn't getting much, so I had to keep feeding her and feeding her. I was surprised, in the dream, to see that it was already milk and not colostrum.

Suddenly, I was filled with love for this baby who I haven't even seen except on an ultrasound (and the ultrasounds become less and less clear as the baby gets bigger - at this point, you see parts of a hand or head, and it's all kinda mushy... When it was only 14 weeks along, you could see the whole face at once.)

Some people who mean very well keep telling me "don't count your chickens before they're hatched" and "don't get so attached" and other things of that nature.

So I was thinking about it. There is, of course, a chance that things can go bad. It's possible that the baby won't survive the birth. It's possible that I'll deliver early, although at this point, the baby weighs over 3 lbs (1.5 kilos) and has an excellent chance of survival with relatively little trouble outside of the womb. - I know of babies born at half that weight who did fine.

It's also possible that while I'm walking to the supermarket, an airplane will fall on my head. Will it help me to worry about it? I think about all the things that can happen, and there are things we can protect against. We can make sure that our brakes are in good condition. We can fasten our seat belt every time we get into the car. We can't, however, do anything to prevent the driver in the next lane from talking on the phone, being stung by a bee, or just falling asleep.

In life, there are no guarantees.

On the other hand, if we sit and worry about what could happen, then we can't enjoy what does happen.

I could worry and be hesitant to connect to this baby now because it might not be born ok. After it's born, I could worry and be hesitant because there's always a risk of crib death. After the baby is past that age, I could worry and not connect because the child might get hit by a car on his/her way to school, because the child might be killed in army service, in a bus bombing, in a car accident... or of meningitis or rheumatic fever from untreated strep...

On the one hand, we should never take a moment for granted, because we have no guarantee of how many more moments we get. On the other hand, if we spend our whole lives protecting ourselves from potential pain, how can we enjoy the moments we have?

So dream, and enjoy this Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom.
t.c. Goodman

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Abigail Rebecca!

This is Abigail Rebecca, my sister's 4th child. This video is of her when she was 21 months old. It's pretty amazing!

Where Do triLcats Come From?

After the post on modesty, I realized that a lot of my readers probably wonder what my background is. Well, okay, probably most of them either assume that I'm a b.t. or they don't care...
If you don't care, you don't have to read the rest of this. If you do, go ahead.

I was always Shomer Shabbat/Kashrut/Chagim and a whole plethora of other things that religious people do. My father was raised religious - his father was a rabbi ordained by JTS. My father is also a JTS-ordained rabbi. My mother was raised in a conservative congregation in Philadelphia, and was sent to Camp Ramah, along with Hebrew School. When she was in high school, she went to Gratz College's high school program. During that time, her commitment to Judaism strengthened. Her parents moved when she was 16, and she asked that her mother keep the new house kosher. From that point onwards, my mother kept kosher.

When she was 20, she married my father. The first Shabbat after their wedding was the first Shabbat that she was a committed Sabbath observer. (she had kept Shabbat before at camp and such).

My father was raised in schools like Ramaz and Yeshiva of Central Queens, and his choice to study at JTS was more based on religious philosophy than on observance level. Those of you who have photo albums from the 1960's will notice that many "Modern Orthodox" women didn't cover their hair back then, and wore pants. In fact, in my parents generation, everyone they knew had mixed dancing at their weddings, including those who were considered Orthodox. Back then, religious schools had school dances.

After he finished his rabbinical degree, my father went to the US Army. At the time, there was a draft, and clergy were expected to serve as chaplains after getting their degrees. My father became career army, which isolated him (and later, us) from the community to a large degree.

Over the next twenty or so years, my family lived in an interesting religious island. We had few Jewish friends growing up, and no Jewish community. From 1966, when my parents got married, until 1980, my parents never lived in a place that had Jewish dayschools. For 6 months in 1980, my parents sent my siblings to school at Hillel, near Deal, NJ.

When we moved from there, my oldest brother was high school aged. We moved to Fort Benning, GA, and my brother boarded with a family in Atlanta, while he attended school at Yeshiva High School of Atlanta. A year later, my sister followed suit.

The next year, my father was sent for Post-Doc studies (don't even ask how he had managed an MA and a doctorate while working full-time in the army...) at Harvard, and my siblings and I went to Maimonides. I was in Kindergarten, and my oldest brother was in 12th grade.

The next year, we moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I remember my family going into a form of mourning when we found out where our next assignment was. My father called the Pentagon and begged for a change of station. Sadly, we were not granted this.

There was no nearby school for my sister (who was going into 11th grade), and my oldest brother moved to Eretz Yisrael to attend Hebrew University. My second brother (9th grade) went to a very small Yeshiva in Dallas, Texas. My sister, my youngest brother (7th grade), and I (1st grade) went to local public schools. My sister, always a bright one, called her previous high school, and asked them to make some changes to her transcript before sending it on to her new school. Because of some careful work, she managed to get the public school to give her credit for all of her Jewish studies courses, so she finished high school in one more year (and she'd started first grade early, so she graduated high school at age 16.)

The next year, my youngest brother skipped 8th grade and joined the second one in Dallas. My sister, who had finished high school, went to college in Israel. (How my parents let their 16-year-old go to Israel back in the days when students didn't have phones in their rooms and there was no email is another story, perhaps for another day.)

At the end of that school year, my parents transferred my brothers from the school in Dallas to the Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis. (There's also a story here, but I'll only say that the school closed a year or two later, and the indications that it should close were already there, so my parents chose to move their sons.)

The next year, we moved to Fort Dix, NJ, and I went to the Kellman Academy in Cherry Hill, NJ. My second brother went early admissions to Yeshiva University rather than change schools yet again. My youngest brother (11th grade) was supposed to go to a Jewish, but not religious, school in Philadelphia. When my parents asked when and where my brother could daven Shacharit and put on tfillin, they were told he could use a broom closet. My parents decided that they would prefer to send him to live in dorms and the week after they dropped the older one off at Yeshiva University, they took the next one to the high school there.

The school I was in was a conservative (Soloman Schechter) school, and I was the most religious child there. As such, I felt very uncomfortable much of the time. For a variety of reasons, the school and I were a poor match. I spent 6th and 7th grade in public school, which was surprisingly a better experience.

Before I started 8th grade, my father retired from the army, and I attended ASHAR in Monsey. That was the first year I found out that some religious women wear only skirts. It was also the first time that I saw women who covered their hair daily and not only in shul. The school only went up to 8th grade.

For high school, I went to The Frisch School. The school is an Orthodox school, but is fully co-ed (except gym class and some sections of the "kedushat hamishpacha" course). Most of my friends, like me, wore pants outside of school (the dress code for school was knee-length skirts & shirts with sleeves) and I certainly felt more tzanua jumping rope and babysitting in pants.

(if you're still wondering where my youngest brother went to college....) When I finished high school, I joined my youngest brother at Bar Ilan University. (Well, he was mostly finished, and was in the army, but he lived near campus.) I was younger than almost anyone, and had a hard time making friends, so peer pressure couldn't get me back into skirts - I never felt comfortable in skirts... By the end of my first year, I was dating a non-religious guy, and I wore pants wherever I could get away with it. Basically, I'd put on a skirt for shul and simchas.

When I was about 25, I realized that if I wanted to date religious men, I might do well to try acting more openly religious, and I wore only skirts for about 6 months. Then I met someone who was religious enough for me and was a very good guy. When we'd been dating for a while, we discussed it and he said that skirts/pants wasn't an issue for him, so I went back to wearing pants. His parents didn't approve of the match (Not because of religious reasons. They felt that we were a poor match culturally.), and we broke it off.

My "rebound guy" was not particularly religiously oriented... so I didn't feel any need to go back to skirts. By the time I'd been with him a few weeks, I was entirely sick of men, so I didn't really care what they thought of me. I didn't date anyone for about 7 months. When I did, I went out with Scott, who wasn't so religious, but realized that I was more religious than he was... so he set me up with his "charedi" friend, Yaakov.

And now we get to the fun part. Of course, for the first date with a religious guy, I put on a skirt. About 2 hours into the date, I asked him how he felt about skirts, and he (forgive the pun) skirted the question and asked me if I thought a girl should be tzanua, which, of course I did. I think pants shouldn't be very tight, and that shoulders should be covered... I never wore short skirts...etc... I mean, jeez, I have standards...

It took a few weeks before I realized what he meant, and by then, it was too late. I was already in love, and I realized it was so crucial to him that I couldn't expect him to change his mind.

You should have heard the fight we had when he told me that I couldn't have bangs out of my head-covering. I cried - a lot.

In the house, I dress "like a normal person," but outside, I basically live up to his standards. Sometimes I find it a real hardship, and I don't find it meaningful, so it's still kind of an issue, but such is life.

And that is where triLcats come from...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Modest Meme

Mom in Israel made up a new Meme for those of us who deal with the issues of tzniut, the Jewish laws & traditions of modesty.

Though I wasn't tagged, I've decided it might make interesting reading for someone (maybe me) if I answered it...
Here goes:

1. For married women, do you dress by the same standards as you did when you got married?

Yes, but I've only been married about a year.

2. Also for married women, do you and your husband conflict about this issue?

Yes. My husband is much more strict about these rules than I would like to be.

3. Have your standards changed from when you were growing up, and why?

Yes and no. My beliefs haven't changed. I'd dress the same as I did when I was growing up, but my husband would have heart failure if I did.

4. Do you often feel uncomfortable when you are in the company of a group keeping higher or lower standards than you?

Yes. I feel like the knee-sock wearers are looking down on me, and like the chilonim all think that I'm one of those crazy charedi women.

5. If you have ever suddenly changed your standard of dress, did people treat you differently or make approving/disapproving remarks?

I got a fair amount of sympathy, but not a lot of approval or disapproval. I guess I have nice friends.

6. How accepting is your community of women who "deviate" from the generally accepted mode of dress?

I live in a mixed community, so it's not really a problem.

7. If you have a daughter, has tzniut become an issue yet?

We don't have one yet, but the standards we want for our daughters has already become an issue in our marriage (sometimes we really buy trouble, don't we?)

8. Any other comments you care to share on the topic.

I want my pants back!!!!!!!! I always dreamed of being pregnant in big overalls. And my elbows! Hello, it's freaking hot out. I want my elbows!


I'm feeling a little bit of writer's block about Yom Haatzmaut this year.

Part of it is because I'm pregnant and there's this little person kicking at my insides distracting me from pretty much everything. Part of it is the weather. We're having what's called a Sharav. A Sharav occurs when a hot wind sweeps across the desert, carrying dust and pollen everywhere. As a result, those of us who have allergies and asthma are suffering pretty badly. As a new asthma sufferer, I haven't quite worked out the regimen for a sharav, so mostly I'm sitting with a mask on my face, inhaling vapors of saline solution because I'm afraid to have more bronchodilators and i can't take breathing the dry, dusty stuff that's passing for air.

Over at the Dry Bones Blog, there are some nice comments on Yom Haatzmaut. He appears not to be pregnant... :)

At SerandEz, Jameel is all ready for the chag.

Hopefully tomorrow, I'll be up for telling you about our barbecue/party in Moshav Tarum.
(if we manage to get there...)


Beautiful Music

My husband doesn't like Israeli music, but I do. For me, being Jewish is so intertwined with being an Israeli that I can't help but love the music. Two days each year, the radio stations play the most beautiful songs all day. The first is Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was last week. The second, which is today, is Yom Hazikaron. Yom Hazikaron is not Memorial Day - at least not in the American sense of the term. Yom Hazikaron is a full-fledged day of mourning.

Today, the radio plays sad songs, songs written to those who are no longer with us, songs written by those who are no longer with us. A few years ago, several Israeli artists began a project called "Soon We will Become a Song." The project takes poems written by soldiers who were killed in battle and sets them to music. The artists then perform them so that their poetry lives on, their song lives on.

In Israel, there is one more time when we hear beautiful music. We hear the beautiful music when there is a terror attack, when someone is killed. Someday, we won't have to hear such beautiful music. Someday, we won't have to hear the beautiful songs written by our best and brightest who are no longer with us.

Yehi Zichram Baruch.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wrapping up the Week

roses from my parentsIt's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone Modiin.

On Sunday, while I was writing my previous post, I guess the subject matter really got to me, because I felt faint and weak, and went to lie down. I put my feet up, but I kept feeling worse, so I called the Women's Clinic. They told me to come in, and the doctor there sent me to the ER at Shaarei Zedek. My mom was in Petach Tikva, picking up some stuff from Shai Bar Ilan's Office for the trip to China. Yaakov and I don't have a car (and I couldn't have driven anyway, the way I felt) so I went through the list of people I know, and after careful consideration of all the possibilities, I hailed a taxi. Yaakov met me at the hospital a little while later.

After about a half hour of poking and prodding, they took blood from me and hooked up an IV and gave me a liter of fluids. They also did an ultrasound so we could see that the baby is nice and healthy, and a baby monitor so we could hear the baby's heartbeat. (The baby was pretty uncooperative, so most of what we heard was my heartbeat.)

Then the sent us to another doctor. Although I hadn't had a fever earlier, at this point I did. He gave me two Acamol (think Tylenol), and told me to go back to the doctor who'd sent me to the hospital (he was at the hospital at this point) and get released.

So... after 6 hours, I was released with 2 acamol and a liter of what basically amounted to water...

That was a fun day.

Monday, I felt great. I mean, perfectly healthy. I had some work to do, so I got it done. I took care of all kinds of stuff I've been meaning to deal with at home. Then I went over to my sister's house. Her son had to give some kind of book report in class the next day, and he had read 8 pages of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Eight! Out of 120. The thing is, he's a slow reader - it's a problem when it's not your native language. I read terribly slowly in Hebrew. So I read him the next 112 pages. It took me two hours, and by the time I finished, I felt like I'd been through a war.

Tuesday, Yaakov and I both woke up feeling miserable. We went to the doctor and he couldn't find anything wrong with me, but Yaakov had an ear infection, so he got ear drops and antibiotics. We came home and slept all day. Wednesday we were too sick to do anything, including take me to the doctor. I went to the doctor on Thursday, and I have bronchitis, so I'm on antibiotics too.
Abigail Rebecca Inbar
Thursday was my birthday. My parents sent me flowers, and my sister gave me a really cool t-shirt that she made herself. She came over with her daughter, Guli (Abigail Rebecca). Guli was supposed to sing "Happy Birthday," but she got a little shy, and I think Poofy scared her a little. He did calm down eventually, and she was able to give him a ball, which he promptly took in his mouth and chewed on. But... back to the t-shirt that my sister made... As you can see, it's a picture of Baby G., complete with umbilical cord! It's a night shirt, because Yaakov thinks that elbows should be heard and not seen or not heard and not seen or something like that... Anyway, it's a nice big comfy shirt and it's seriously cute! She's thinking of offering them for sale on one of those sites where you can make t-shirts and then people buy them and you get a percentage. I think it's a cool idea, although it's odd that the bafetus - travelling in style!by's picture is on my chest when the baby is clearly in the belly (of the beast?). By the way, apparently us Americans are supposed to spell it traveling, but that just looks soooo strange that I prefer the UK way. I'll stick to color and gray, though. And don't even get me started on that silly re/er thing, I mean, come on, it's center. If you spell it centre, it might as well say "sentry..."

Yaakov and I had been planning on going out to dinner, preferably someplace with nice, juicy steaks for me and equally juicy burgers for him... but alas, since between the two of us, we barely managed to do one load of laundry and take the dog out for his walks. we decided that it'd be more prudent to order in. So I had a steak sandwich (which was ok) and he had a burger (which was pretty good) and we both had some wings (which were too spicy), and a whole bunch of people called and wished me a happy birthday, and I rambled incoherently to most of them.
Eliyah Katz is SOOOO cute!
Almost forgot. My neighbor Eliyah (with some help from her mom) made me a really sweet birthday card. On the outside, it says Happy Birthday, and inside there was writing from S., Eliyah's mom, and a picture of the sun that Eliyah drew herself. There was also a lot of writing by Eliyah, but I had a hard time reading it. Often times, I find that it's a little difficult to read a 3-year-old's writing, because it seems that each individual 3-year-old has his or her own writing system. Usually by the time an adult manages to learn to read it, the child has giHappy Birthday Cardven up the writing system and writes using the boring conventions that we all use.

Now it's Friday, and the chicken and rice are cooking. We're both feeling a little better, but still not great. And most importantly, we made it through a kinda rough week... Shabbat Shalom, all.

And hopes for a good week for everyone next week.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Breaking the Silence

On the last of Pesach, the rabbis in several synagogues in Baltimore spoke out about a very serious problem in the religious community - the code of silence that has been protecting sexual predators in the community.

Ezzie talks about the statements released by the Baltimore Vaad here.

This problem is not new. When I was studying writing, one girl who was a member of a very religious community found herself dealing with the silencing of the problem in her writing. She described how parents refused to believe there was a problem, or, if they did believe there was a problem, they refused to report it for fear of hurting their children's chances of getting a good shidduch - a good marriage match.

When a professional I know was teaching new religious therapists, she encountered a story of a known abuser who was living in a certain community. While several children had independently accused him, none of the parents would allow their children to testify against him for fear of the family's reputation. This silence allowed the abuser to go unpunished, and to continue having access to more victims.

There have been numerous stories of rabbis in schools being moved to a different school in order to silence accusations. In the next school, the accusations surfaced again. Then the rabbis were moved on to a new community of unwitting parents and a new supply of victims.

The Baltimore Vaad has taken the very first step in breaking the silence, and I applaud them.

This past Shabbat, at my synagogue, Rabbi Lau (no, not this one, his son, Rabbi David Lau) spoke about the weekly portion, Shemini. The ending of this parsha is very upsetting. The children of Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, future leaders of Am Yisrael (the nation of Israel) bring strange fire to the Mishkan - the tabernacle - and are killed by G-d.

It is said that when Job read about their death, he took it very hard. At first blush, that seems quite odd. Job had already lost all of his own children. Why would he mourn so bitterly for Aaron's two sons?

One midrash claims that Nadav said to Avihu, "When will these two old men die so we can lead the nation?" and Avihu didn't respond.

The midrash says that when Pharoah said that he wanted to kill all the sons of Am Yisrael, there were four people present - Pharoah, Yitro, Balaam, and Job. Balaam spoke for it, and was punished later. Yitro spoke out against it. Job, knowing he could not stop the inevitable, said nothing. When Job realized that Avihu was killed for saying nothing, he realized that all the punishment wrought upon him was for saying nothing.

Similarly, in Megillat Esther, the Scroll of Esther, Mordechai says to Esther "Im hacharesh tacharishi ba'et hazot, revach v'hatzala yaamod layehudim mimakom acher, v'at uvet avich tovedu..." - "If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, while you and your father's house will perish." (Translation courtesy of Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures--The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text)

We *MUST* break the silence and protect our children. How can we be a holy nation if we harbor the unholy among us?

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I looked at all the blogs that I ordinarily read. Guess what? Nobody's posted anything new in a few days! They're all too busy cleaning for Pesach. Fortunately, I had coffee tonight, so I'm raring to go, and my back hurts enough that the bendy work is completely out of the question...

So... it's time to blog! And I have the monopoly. My readers have no other blogs to read!

So I can bore you all with details about how I washed out my microwave even though we have a whole other microwave for Pesach... Or I can warn you that it's not a good idea to pour water into the oven to clean it. I could even tell you about the amount of stuff that I still have to do tomorrow.

But I think I'll relate a nice story instead. Many many years ago (I think 6 or 7), my mother ran her wonderful self-cleaning oven and it self-cleaned. The next day, she wiped it out. Then she left her shiny, clean oven waiting for Pesach cooking. The morning of Erev Pesach, she turned on her oven to start her roast, and... it didn't work. She quickly called the first repairman whose number she could find. Claude (yes, that's his name) amazingly was there within about 30 minutes, isolated the problem quickly, and within another 20 minutes, the oven was working again.

We've had Claude repair other poorly behaved appliances since. He fixed a fuse on my oven a few years back, and declared my dryer dead about 8 months ago (he said he could fix it, but the price of the repair wasn't enough less than the price of a new dryer.) So, when my washer stopped wringing out my clothes - leaving everything sopping wet, I said "0k, I'm going to call Claude." Yaakov, in his best Tim Allen imitation, decided that he was going to fix it. Which meant that he somehow got the entire floor soaked, and then declared that he needed more tools, so he'd have to do it the next day. Well... this is the week before Pesach. I really couldn't do without a washer while he was at work the next day. So I woke up and called Claude. I started to describe the problem...

"Wait, what kind of washer do you have?"
"Spectra, I think"
"Front or top load?"
"Okay, there's a panel on the bottom right. Open it. Turn the round thing. The filter should come off. Is it dirty?"
"Yeah, filthy"
"Okay, empty it out into the trash, put it back in, and have a chag sameach!"

I was in shock. I mean, firstly, who knew that washers have filters?! I knew about dryers, but washers?! Second, that was just REALLY REALLY nice of him. He could have come out and "fixed" the machine and charged for labor, and been completely honest about it and I wouldn't have felt ripped off. So now, I know exactly who to call tomorrow morning about the oven that shorted out the whole house... I don't think there's an electricity filter in the oven...