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Hanukkah Menorah Symbolizes Prayer Vigil

On the seventh night of Hanukkah, we lit the candles on the menorah to commemorate the miracle of our ancestors, but it was also a prayer vigil for the lives lost in yesterday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown. People of all faiths from all over the world light candles as our hearts ache collectively for the families of the 20 innocent first graders and six adults, who were shot point-blank by a 20-year-old madman dressed in combat gear and armed with semiautomatic weapons. As details of the latest school shooting unfold, parents everywhere try to deal with their own feelings of fear, despair, and confusion as we struggle to find the best way to explain (or not explain) to our own kids what is happening in our world that seems to be falling apart. I felt this same way when I wrote about Virginia Tech and the Israeli war. Things haven’t changed.

With the holiday season upon us, and presents are left for children who are gone forever, it’s impossible to wrap our heads around another senseless tragedy—the second deadliest school shooting behind Virginia Tech in U.S. history. We’re vulnerable everywhere we go—school, mall, movie theatre, workplace, airplane, a political rally.

A nation in shock, we ‘re quick to blame someone, something besides good versus evil. Political discussions abrupt again about how to improve school safety, gun control laws, mental health care, dysfunctional families, violent video games, social media, and on and on.

And yet one thing has always remained the same. God. Whatever your religious or atheistic beliefs, many of us fall to our knees and surrender to something bigger—call it God, Divinity, Buddah, Muhammad, Spirit—otherwise we can’t cope alone. God did not let this happen. People did. And we need each other to heal. We are the problem, and we are the solution.

So many of us turn to our faith when we’re obligated to (the high holidays, Christmas, a wedding, a funeral) or when we hit rock bottom. But the lesson here is to keep God in our hearts, always. And by this I mean not just prayer, but action. For example, notice how communities come together in times of crisis. When disaster strikes, whether it be Hurricane Sandy, 9-11 terrorist attack, or a siege on a quite New England town in Connecticut, we hug each other, we feed each other, we listen, we clean up, we mourn, we give money, we give ourselves.

In the words of Mr. Rogers:  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

And in the words of Rabbi Shaul Praver, of Temple Adath Israel in Newtown, who attended to the family of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, “Death doesn’t really exist — it’s just a transformation because we all come from God and everything in the world is from God.”

He continues, “At the same time we’re in a very dark place, we’re in a very sacred place. Everybody, for the last two days, are brothers and sisters. You can hug strangers in the street.

And, finally, in the words of Kohelet in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to plug up that which is planted;
 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
 A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”







We Are What We Eat

I usually don’t answer chain letters, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this one with my readers. Not sure of the source of this message, but it’s food for thought.

It’s been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh. He made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish…. All before making a human.

God made and provided what we needed before we were born. He intended Mother Nature to be a pharmacy and left us clues as to what foods benefit our bodies, especially when eaten raw and natural.

For example:

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye. And YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don’t have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Avocadoes, eggplant and pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female – they look just like these organs. Today’s research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are more than 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm as well to overcome male sterility.

Sweet potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like the body’s cells. Today’s research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears, which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.

Share this post, and keep the chain going…or at least eat more fruits and vegetables.



When In Doubt, Do As the Jews Do

When the Sunday school teacher asks the second-graders to draw a picture of what God means to them, most of the students grab their colored markers and eagerly get to work. They waste no time making bright rainbows, beautiful flowers, puffy clouds, beaming sunshine, twinkling stars, and an assortment of bearded stick figures. I join other parents in the classroom for this thought-provoking activity, and I witness first hand how the topic of God sparks creativity in grownups and children alike. Everyone seems to enjoy the opportunity to explore God out loud; everyone, that is, except my daughter. Continue reading

Government Makes Amendments; God Makes Commandments

Finally, the cutthroat, mid-term election is over, and us voters are as much survivors as the politicians themselves. In record numbers, we not only survived the glitches of the new, high-tech electronic voting machines, but we sustained all the hateful television commercials, political propaganda junk mail, and annoying phone messages that raided our homes like a war zone. Now I have to assess the collateral damage, which is my children’s shattered illusion that the American government actually looks out for us.

This particularly competitive campaign seemed to separate the community as much as the championship World Series united us. The playing fields are different, but both events are games that go down in history. Continue reading

Answering the Big Question: “Is There A God?”

One of the most significant passages into parenthood is when your child innocently asks you the BIG question—the one Jewish parents plotz over because they fear that if they don’t answer it perfectly, their child will wind up in therapy.

For many of us, the question, “Is there a God?,” raises more anxiety than the birds-and-the-bees conversation. For me, these significant bonding moments usually occur when I least expect it, like while I drive my mini van down I-64 with Jack and Sari in tow and try to search for a Neil Diamond CD and hand sanitizer all at the same time. Continue reading

Honor Thy Father and Mother

Before David Letterman had a “Top 10” list, God made the original “Top 10,” as in Commandments. Coming in at number five—“Honor Thy Father and Mother—” is therefore key to raising self reliant children.
Obviously, God was serious about parental respect. Not until I had children of my own, however, did I truly appreciate this logic. In fact, I swore I’d never say things like “because I said so” when my kids would ask me why they can’t stay up 30 minutes past their bedtime. Sometimes I give such lengthy explanations they even forgot their original question.
For example, I might ramble, “You need to go to bed right now because you had a sleepover the other night, and you were up really late, and you need to be well rested for your spelling test tomorrow, and besides if you don’t get enough sleep you will be sick, and you don’t want to miss your best friend’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s.”
By now, they surely are exhausted, and cover their own head with a pillow to block out the sound of my voice.
The philosophy here is to teach kids early on who is boss and to be consistent until they leave the nest, if only it were that easy.
Many parents in my generation give their kids a say so in anything and everything, maybe because we feel guilty for not spending quality time with our family. Truth is, my children don’t need me as their friend, but they need a role model to look up to, an authority figure who isn’t a wimp when it comes to saying “no.” Judaism says the best place to start is respect, or teaching the virtue of derech eretz (the way of the land) by emphasizing good old-fashioned manners like saying “please” and “thank you” and, of course, wiping the toilet seat.
Then again, parents have to pick their battles, and one of my biggest pet peeves is when Sari calls me by my first name “Ellie.” She only yells out my first name in “emergencies,” such as when she freaks out about a tornado siren, when Luci, our toy poodle, chews another napkin out of the trash, or whenever she can’t find her favorite white sandals with the flower. The last time she hollered “Ellie,” I calmly explained to her that children don’t call their parents by their first names because it doesn’t show respect. I warned her that the next time she calls me “Ellie,” I will ignore her, even if a funnel cloud is overhead. I went on to suggest more appropriate titles, such as mom, mommy, mama, Ima, or even mother dearest. There I go again with the choices—another weakness of mine.
We often teach what we need to learn, and the lesson to honor God starts with respecting ourselves and each other. As always, this takes a lot of time and energy.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.