Rosh HaShana asks us to reflect back on our year. Most days I need to remind myself to brush my teeth so introspection falls somewhere below pairing up the 173 (note the odd number) socks sitting in their very own laundry basket in my laundry room. But as a good Jew, one with a strong sense of Jewish guilt, I decided to give a moment or two to look back on the year and reflect. Here’s what I’ve broken our year down to…
As Shavuot heads our way, I’ve been thinking about Moshe in the desert. It took him 40 years to travel an estimated 1400 miles to bring the Jews out of Egypt and lead them to the land of Israel. And while I’ve spent my fair share of time in Jewish Day School and understand the reverence we are supposed to have for our Jewish heroes and leaders, I truly believe I could have taught Moshe a thing or two about traveling with family.
Afikomen is sort of the loot bag at the end of a Very Long party. Having lasted through the Seder, it seems to be the least we can do to offer up a gift in exchange for that mischievous piece of disappearing matza, the Afikomen. But it’s the gift, itself, that stumps me every year.
I am a juggler by nature. I multi-task all the time. I juggle the roles of wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, friend with varying degrees of success. I always feel busy. There is always a load of laundry that I could be doing, some dishes I could be washing, a dinner I could think about cooking. There is always a phone call I haven’t returned, a deadline I’d love to meet, a book I’d like to read.
My eight year old went to sleep away camp for two weeks this summer. He was crazy young and I felt moderately insane as I watched him board the bus, but even in that moment, I knew it would be the best decision for him. And it was. But here’s the thing. He didn’t tell me one thing about it. Not one letter, post card, quick note. I heard nothing. For two weeks (14 days which is roughly 336 hours) I had to rely on the camp’s website to fill me in.
Michael Levine, the director of Streits: Matzo and the American Dream, was always drawn to the idea of a project that had something to do with the Lower East Side. His father’s family had moved to Rivington Street in 1910 when they came from Russia, and Michael felt connected to the neighborhood.
So often this season is about consumption. It is mind-boggling to me the millions (billions!) of dollars that toy stores and popular toy brands must bring in each holiday season. I was so pleased to read this article about Lego who managed to find a discontinued set of Lego for a young boy who had saved up for 2 years to be able to afford the $100 set.
May your year be full of crayons. And finger paints. And soccer played on Sunday afternoons on slightly damp fields.
As a parent, I’m always searching for teachable moments. An elderly person who needs to cross the street? No worries. I have just the ten year-old to help you out. Charity to be given? Great. It leads me into a great discussion with my eight year-old. Olympics? Yup. I can spin that too.
Some years ago, a young visitor brought us a gift. It was an empty notebook. His mother had sent it as a thank you for hosting her son for Shabbat. We’ve gotten our fair share of wine and flowers so I thought why not a notebook – that’s a bit different.