Let’s Schmooze!

LinkedIn

Like Me, Pretty Please!

Subscribe to the Tribe!

Enter your e-mail address to get Mishegas of Motherhood in your Inbox:

Archives

high holidays

Three Gifts I Learned at Rosh Hashanah

Aish HaTorah St. Louis welcomes Slovie!

Rosh Hashanah, translated in Hebrew as “head of the year,” is a time to let go. As a new Empty Nester, letting go seems to be the theme of everything these days. We let go of our mistakes from the previous year, let go of shame we may be feeling, let go of sorrow for hurting someone, and, of course, ask for their forgiveness.

The Jewish New Year is also a celebrated time for new beginnings…a new school year, a new relationship with others, a new commitment to better ourselves, and a reawakening of Judaism and the Almighty.

Acclaimed author speaker Slovie Jungreis Wolff

Continue reading

On 911, Their Memory Is A Blessing

9-11-memorial07

As I write this story, I watch the memorial service in New York that is videotaped live on my computer and listen to family members read the names of their loved ones who died on September 11, 2001. A flute quietly plays Amazing Grace, while the crackling voices pronunciate the names of each and every name of the nearly 3,000 people who perished 12 years ago in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, in a grassy field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and in the ash-covered streets in Lower Manhattan on that infamous day from hell.

The speakers are children and adults,who stand before the crowd on a hot summer morning, with the rush of the two waterfalls in the background. They share personal stories about their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, friends who went to work on that September 11 morning and never came home.

Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah Sweetens The Deal

apple

The Jewish New Year is off to a sweet start as I pluck another huge yellowish-pink Honeycrisp apple that hangs heavy on a leafy tree branch. I open my mouth wide and bite into the succulent, crunchy fruit and let the juice drip down my chin and make my face sticky. On Rosh Hashanah, apple picking is a great tradition for several reasons. It brings my family together; it symbolizes sweetness for the year ahead; and it’s an opportunity to share the gleanings, or extra crops, with those who are hungry and less fortunate at a local food pantry. Plus, I have an excuse to make a lot of yummy recipes, including apple raisin koogle, applesauce, apple crisp, apple salad, and whatever new treat I can find like honey mustard chicken with apples. (It must have something to do with fasting on Yom Kippur in 10 days).

Continue reading

Passover: “Let My Son Go!”

seder plate

As the eight-day festival of Passover comes to an end, I’m feeling kind of melancholy. Maybe its the matzo. Actually, it’s the last Passover before my son embarks on his Exodus from home to college.

As I reflect over the years of his childhood, I can’t help but wonder if I made the most of building his Jewish identity. Did I do a good job planting seeds of his heritage so that he’ll want to continue to nourish his spiritual self as a young adult, maybe even attend a few functions at the Hillel on campus with his peers? Did I make enough of an impact that he wants to continue the lessons from his ancestors of thousands of years with his own children? After all, that’s what keeps Judaism alive.

To be honest, I would be fooling myself (it’s April Fools Day) if I thought that I indeed succeeded in my job to teach him as best I can about his religion by celebrating every holiday—from Sukkot to Yom Kippur—in its full splendor.

I could have done more.

Sure, we acted out the 10 plagues during the seder, including ping pong balls for hail, red food coloring for blood, sunglasses for blindness, and we asked the four questions in English and Hebrew. But now it seems like everyone at the table wants to rush through the story, and the Haggadah is read halfway through.

I could have done more.

Sure, we lit the candles on Hanukkah, fried potato pancakes, and played dreidel, but it was the overabundance of presents that he probably remembers the most. We also celebrated with a stocking on Christmas morning—gasp!

I could have done more.

One year he helped us build a sukkah in the backyard, hammering the  lattice wall into the wood beams. We hung fruit and waved the lulav, but not every year. Baseball and soccer tournaments got in the way.

I could have done more.

On Shabbat, especially when he was younger, I made dinner, we said the blessings, and ate challah, but most Friday nights we didn’t because we had other plans or I was too tired to cook at the end of the week.

I could have done more.

And even though I would have liked him to experience Jewish summer camp and youth group, it wasn’t his thing, although he enjoyed playing baseball in Maccabi with other Jewish athletes from around the country.

I could have done more.

On the high holidays, he stayed home from school and got dressed in his button down shirt, pants, and uncomfortable loafers, so that we could attend services together as a family. Then high school came around, and it got harder to miss important assignments and tests.

I could have done more.

I missed the times we used to go to a neighborhood lake and throw breadcrumbs in the water on Rosh Hashanah to practice the ritual of tashlich. We set goals for the New Year, but didn’t get to cross them all off our list.

I could have done more.

He went to Jewish preschool, met Jewish friends, attended Sunday school, learned Hebrew, mastered his Torah portion, became a bar mitzvah, and even got confirmed. He loved chanting the Hebrew prayers and was so proud of himself. But like any language, if you don’t use it, eventually you lose it.

I could have done more.

At least he wants to go to Israel one day and experience what his homeland is all about. Maybe he will connect with his culture and make new Jewish friends. Maybe he will learn to like falafel. Maybe not.

Even though I could have done more, I couldn’t be more proud of my son and the young man he is today. As he wraps up his senior year, he is so ready to leave home and tackle his new life in college.

Of course, I could have done more when it comes to his Jewish upbringing. But maybe I did enough.

He knows he always has a place to call home. He knows his family loves him.

And I promised him that next year if he comes home for Spring break, I will make him his favorite dishes. Charoset and chocolate matzo. Talk about Jewish guilt…


choco matzo

 

charoset

Feeding the Soul on Yom Kippur


Continue reading

Purple With A Purpose

I love the color purple (not so much the movie The Color Purple, although I’m a huge fan of Whoopie and Oprah), but I mean the hue as in periwinkle, lavender, magenta, violet, indigo.

Whenever I wear OPI “Purple With a Purpose” on my toes, I feel creative, glam, and fun.

 

Turns out the color purple is symbolic in both Jewish and non-Jewish cultures. The Israelites, for example, used an indigo-colored dye called tekhelet, which comes from the mucus of an ancient small sea snail murex trunculus. This dye, known as Tyrian purple, was used by royalty and the upper-class in dyeing their clothing, sheets, curtains, and such. Maybe I’m attracted to everything purple because I was a king or queen in a past life, who knows.  Purple is also the color of the purification from sin, and God only knows I carry a lot of guilt.
Continue reading

High Holidays Kick Off Fashion Week

The runway shows in New York, London and Milan aren’t the only places to preview fall fashions. It’s much easier to go to high holiday services at your nearest synagogue. There you’ll discover what’s really hot, aside from the eternal flame burning at the ark.

Think about it. Jews are born trendsetters, and our culture remains influential in so many ways. The clothing industry is no exception. For example, Jewish fashionistas have worn scarves since the days of Moses, and just recently this modern versatile wrap is getting rave reviews in exotic animal prints, geometric patterns, gorgeous textures, luscious colors, and tie dies with fringe. Continue reading

Fasting on Yom Kippur Feeds the Soul

Whoever says that wearing white after Labor Day is a fashion faux paux must not be Jewish. During the fall holiday season, white clothing is actually encouraged at Yom Kippur services because it symbolizes purity. Notice the rabbi’s special white robe. Also acceptable on the holiest day of the year are sneakers and rubber flip-flops! Never again will I balk at Sari’s white sandals or force Jack to squeeze into leather loafers that are two sizes too small. Continue reading

Families Seek Forgiveness on Rosh Hashana

While other religions talk about sin and confession, Judaism has its own way of cleansing the soul. It’s called the Days of Awe, a spiritual journey that begins in the Hebrew month of Elul, which directly precedes Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashana is the Hebrew word for “head of the year” and occurs on the first days of Tishri. Rosh Hashana begins the period called teshuvah, Hebrew for “returning to God,” or Ten Days of Repentance. It’s a time for serious introspection, a time to reflect on how we’ve behaved over the past year, and how we can do better in the next one. It’s a time to ask forgiveness for saying or doing something hurtful to a loved one. It’s a joyful yet solemn time to make amends and do whatever it takes to move on and learn by our mistakes. When we make peace with God and another human being, we make peace with ourselves. Sounds like free therapy, only sweeter. Continue reading

Fasting Makes Jews Hungry for More

One of my favorite parts about being Jewish, aside from the rich traditions and ancient wisdom that are passed down to us, is our “it’s-all-about-the-food” attitude. This expression is especially true on holidays, lifecycle events, and pretty much any given meal.

So on the one day of the year when Jews are asked to fast, Yom Kippur, I’m almost relieved to have a chance to cleanse my palette and my soul before I reach for another slice of honey cake again. Continue reading