Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Buzz

This inexplicable irritability,

like the buzzing of the hornets’ nest,

has me searching random cabinets and surfing random sites

in the hope of finding the source of

those loud whispers that can’t be shushed.

Contorting to reach,

Struggling to define,

the itch that can’t be scratched.

The thirst that can’t be quenched.

And regrets that can’t be unearned.

Yesterday that can’t be relived.

And a tomorrow that won’t be different.

I don’t want this going on.

I don’t want this to ever stop.

I want it to feel different.

I want it to be different.

But the same. I want this life to surprise me.

But remain.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Parents' Mistake

The explanation you won’t listen to.
In place of the apology I won’t give.
And because I had to have my say.

- - -

It’s been said that children follow in the footsteps that their parents thought they’d long covered up.

I’ve watched some kids embrace that mentality with abandon:
‘Let our parents preach to us about what not to do,
and let us anyway live it up – as we know they did too.
(And by the time our kids grow we’ll tell them what not to
– and yet sure enough they will do what they wish to do.)’

Talk about repeating your parents’ mistakes!

Where’s the parenting? Isn’t life about learning our lessons, and passing those worthwhile insights onto our youth? Don’t we wish for a better life for our children?

Certainly we can live life with no thought of tomorrow, and then switch sides when we see the folly of our ways. Or when we decide that we do wish for more for our kids. But in truth what message are we sending?

There is always the alternative. Having a life infused with love, and just the right amount of fun and spirituality. A life that you can reasonably expect your kids to emulate. Because really, what is it with all the preaching, and what is the value of our life’s experience – if we can’t pass it on to our children and teach by example.

And then there is the added bliss of being able to compliment our kids, take pride in the success and share in their fun as we watch them live life to the fullest.

- - -

And just an observation. You and I – we live the same lives.
I just live it openly and in spite of the community’s say, I believe that what I do is right. And I teach that to my kids too. ‘It’s not how others judge – but what you know to be right.’

You’re living the same life. You just hide it from your kids, from your family, from the community – because you believe somehow that you’re being a rebel.

Which is fine, except that such behavior practically encourages rebellion in your kids. Or at least sets them up for it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


I’ve heard the question asked before
But the answer I still don’t know,
What is it? What have we done?
Why do they hate us so?

I’ve read the question many times
I’ve heard it asked a few.
I also always knew the answer
Of ‘Simple, you’re a Jew.’

And yet today, nothing satisfies
As chills run up my spine,
Because some bitch stole the secure –
if careless attitude of mine.

“They hate us” seemed so far away,
it didn’t mean me.
It was always across the ocean,
And in another century.

Not here, not now. Not at a Starbucks
At such neutral territory,
It just seems the wrong setting
For such a disconcerting story

Lunch started pleasantly enough
Which was why it took me a moment to understand,
What it was that froze my blood
As I saw that woman’s hand.

She angled it so that we could see
The insignia tattooed on her arm.
Sitting at the next table
She enjoyed my noticeable alarm,

I had never realized the power
Of two simple letters intertwined
The S and S – the Swastika
Arrogance and loathing combined.

She smirked in our direction,
And hissed quite loudly, ‘Extermination!’
We grabbed our bags, got out of there
And headed for the nearest station

But I still walked passed her, with head held high,
As if I didn’t give a damn,
I am proud of being a Jew!
I am oh so proud of who I am.

But that chill in my spine, followed me home
And it still asks – it still wants to know
What is it? What have we done??
Why do they hate us so?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pin Drop

Great atmosphere
Great ambiance,
In the crowded hall,

Lights flash
music blares
From speakers on the wall.

With awareness
of the task at hand
The focus is on the ball.

While the pins
in defiance,
Stand so proud and tall,

Run. Swing.
Now drop & roll.

little guys,
How easily they fall.

Didn’t miss.
I never do.
And now I’ve got ‘em all.

Tried and true
Proven too
It’s just so easy to enthrall.

It's about bowling. Right?

Yeah, sure. As you wish.

Friday, August 10, 2007


The stupidity.
The futility.
The meaningless emptiness
of killing time.

Happens all the time.

Time: too precious a commodity
to watch it crawl.
To watch it fall.
Like raindrops.
So many. So fast.
So dreary. So blank.

A wall of grey.

Exhausting. Encompassing.
Stifling. Suffocating.

And yet -
Time flies.
Leaving in its wake
Blinding dust.
And the smell of burnt rubber.
The stench of failure.

The stupid, futile, empty sound
Of the ticking clock.

I hear it all the time.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

An Ode to Darkness

I thank you for the stars
that you've illuminated,
Even though I know it isn't
something you've created.

I'll grant you that I wasn't
as aware before
I never saw it quite like this,
Millions twinkling - maybe more.

Some would say, you've brought magic
or perhaps some other form of light,
But that's not it - as we well know:
You've simply brought the night.

Now in the darkness that envelopes me,
I've become more aware,
of all the wonder in my life
and of the good that is so near.

So I still thank you for the stars
that you’ve helped illuminate,
though caused by the pain of the night
- You’ve taught me to appreciate.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Need To Write

It's late - and though I shouldn't
I dare,
to write as if
I just don't care.
Bells will ring
clocks will chime
The alarm will call
"You're out of time"
And yet I write
with desperation
the words their own
The words I compile
not really my style.
and yet I still smile
This'll carry me for a while...

Monday, July 23, 2007

My fingers gently reach out
to feel your warmth,
I inhale deeply,
savoring your scent.
You are just what I need.

It's been a rough long day,
and there are so few who can be relied upon,
but I knew that you would be here.
Waiting. Ready.
Just for me.

I dreamed of the moment
When I'd lift you up,
and cradle you gently.

And as my lips will touch you
ever so softly,
I'll know I'm home.

Ahhh. Sweet java.
You’re what dreams are made of.

Down Came the Rain

I trusted implicitly
I waited until my heart broke,
I then shouted at the vast emptiness
- and knew the rain would come.

Searching but not seeing,
Wanting but not having,
Questioning while knowing,
- that it's time for the rain.

From empty and clear
to dark and gray,
from anticipation to trepidation
- here comes the rain.

I looked out the window,
and hoped against hope.
Yet sure enough
- down came the rain.

A Different Direction

I like poetry. I always have. I find that the ability to express emotions is most easily done in poetic verse.

The rhythm encompasses.
Sometimes stifles,
sometimes reassures,
and at times enraptures,
- but it always captures.

One's mind, one's heart, one's soul.

So now dear reader, I hereby present my latest attempts.
Let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Realizations and Romance

I’ve recently had this realization. Nothing earth-shattering – realizations seldom are. It’s more of recognizing a dormant yet vital truth, and suddenly appreciating its relevancy. When these insights suddenly come into focus, like a distant twinkle of light growing steadier, I like to coax it into being. I find that giving it my full attention gives me the opportunity to discover its full brilliance. My approach has always been putting pen to paper. Usually the activity of writing gives me the opportunity to further appreciate my subject matter, and to identify more closely with how I feel about it.

That is probably where diaries came from. Not just for cataloging one’s days, but for the chance to further analyze occurrences, then better describe reactions, and perhaps to even grow from the realizations. It’s quite likely that blogging is just diary entries gone public. Perhaps the loneliness of writing to paper just seemed too pathetic. Or just a waste of time. Perhaps the idea that strangers who might understand, if not relate, would read the rambling thoughts, and one can feel less alone.

Yet my blog has never been a diary. It has always been my opinions or general thoughts. That which I would share – loudly – with anyone who would care to listen. I have no intentions of turning my blog into a diary. Mostly, because I don’t do diaries. I believe my thoughts to be safe enough, cool enough, and yes – smart enough, to not need to hide it. But the following entry does take a turn into the personal. You might think too personal, but in a major way it does relate to my life as a woman, in this community. And that *is* what this blog is about. Isn’t it?

Anyway, so on with the post: (Get ready for the tone change)

I’ve always wondered at the magic of falling in love. Imagined what it would be like to meet that handsome, usually brilliant, always charming guy who with just a look will send my heart aflutter. I imagined the heated debates, the witty banter, the innuendo filled teasing.

I often dreamt of Prince Charming, and I don’t believe that these thoughts were of the forbidden variety. From Snow White to Cinderella, on some level we were always permitted to dream. It was just that the reality that we ultimately had to face wasn’t nearly as romantic.

Like any girl, I’ve dreamt of romance in the typical and most unlikely scenarios. Starry nights, candle light, music, flowers… and all that would follow. All of which, while potentially incredible under most circumstances, immediately lose a great portion of its magic when the mystery is gone. When the partner is a given. When the ‘where is this going?’ has already been answered.

I’ve often wondered about how different life would have been if I would have been given the opportunity to search for my ‘soul-mate’ on my own. The debate over the benefits of casual dating and the fun that that would afford, is irrelevant. While I don’t doubt the experience were to be fun – I can clearly see the potential for danger. No, I am just talking about being courted, romanced by a potential suitor. A guy who is interested, and does his best to be of interest. I am talking about feeling my heartbeat quicken at the mention of his name. I am talking about wishing he would look my way. I am talking about falling in love.

While a big proponent of arranged marriages, and an expert on the statistics of the success of this lifestyle – I still often regret that missed opportunity. With an arranged marriage I was given this great, handsome and intelligent guy – with the responsibility to love. Hey, love is a verb. I’ve said that all my life. We choose whom we want to love – and I most certainly love my darling husband. I love him to death. I might even say that I often am ‘in’ love with him. But I was having a problem. I wondered. I wondered whether under different circumstances this was the guy that I would have fallen for.

Now I know that Hollywood’s version of romance isn’t all that accurate. After the main characters have finally beaten all odds and fallen in love, in real life – real life would hit them. I know that what most teenagers assume to be their true ‘soulmates’ ultimately are just a passing boat in sea of bigger and better ships. Yes, I know that many that ‘fall in love’ and then get married – find that the bliss they were certain was theirs permanently, has gone from whence it came. And yet the questions remained.

Part of a poem I once wrote:
Yet these doubts can't be dismissed
'What if true soulmates exist?'
This nagging thought just will persist
To bug and irk and still insist:
‘If it weren't mine, why is it missed?'

And the realization was benign. Not huge at all. Yet it rocked my world at its core. If true soulmates do exist – if there is a man out there whom the cosmos have aligned as my perfect mate – the man that can challenge me, and understand me, and accept me, and more than anything make me get to know myself better and grow as a person… If there is a man out there whom I was meant to love, and who’s love I can count on to last a lifetime – in good times and bad, in sickness and in health - - if Hashem in His infinite wisdom did indeed assign someone like that for me, then the obviousness is blinding. My besherte. The man who’s name was announced in the heavens forty days prior to my birth. The man whom I was to fall in love with. The man whom I married.

Obviously we skipped the ‘dating’ part. I skipped being courted, he skipped having that selection. I skipped the flirting, he skipped the seducing. We skipped the conversations where we would have realized that this was indeed the person we wanted as our life’s partners. We skipped the talk where we discussed our dreams for our futures – and then checked to see how they relate to each others. We skipped the part where he asked me to be his wife.

But we can still have our many creative ‘dates’. We still can have our picnics, our moonlit walks along the flowing country river, and the stroll alongside the Manhattan skyline. And we can have all that for the low low price – of no heartache or drama. Some would consider that a good thing.

So while we can’t have the ‘before’ – we were certainly given the ultimate gift of the ‘happily ever after’. Always and forever. With all my love.

This post has been censored, heavily, by friends and family - and the love of my life. I’d have to say that I feel that it has lost most of its initial charm, but 'its essence remained intact'. Or so they tell me. Oh well...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hello Again.

This summer I was reading the comments on some of the other Heimish blogs, and I questioned my sanity in wanting to post anything new. Apparently, regardless of what the blogger set forth to be discussed, the topic inevitably went right back to the dead argument. The narrow-mindedness surrounding us and the community’s lack of ‘acceptance’ of dissidents. Neither side will grant the other right, which is precisely why I find the repetition of this argument so infantile.

As a blogger myself, I often just wish to share general observations that would quite naturally be set in the ‘SatWillSidic’ lifestyle. Not because the lifestyle created the scenario, but rather, being that the scene took place in my life, with my life being situated here, quite naturally there are overtones of said lifestyle. I don’t want though, that the only thing taken out of what I write, to be a repeat of the old. We know that some of you find this community to be narrow-minded, stuffy and archaic, while some of us actually find this place to be warm, innocent and yes – on some level: pure. I ask not that you agree with my assessment, especially since my assessment isn’t the topic of the day. I simply wish to blog about my day. A day that gave me food for thought, and the thoughts – the itch to write. A day that naturally is filled with activities that reflect my lifestyle and beliefs.

I’ve given up trying to explain my beliefs. What I do find so hard to fathom is that those that are so angry with a world that they claim is devoid of ‘acceptance’, can’t find it in their hearts to be accepting of those that still hold beliefs that doesn’t coincide with theirs. At least let the promoters of ‘acceptance’ be accepting first. Only then can they fight for acceptance themselves. After all, shouldn’t the believers of the ‘Live and let live’ mentality, be the first to ‘let live’?

That said – can we talk about something else for a change?

I’ve written a lot over the past few months, and while some stuff has been published elsewhere, I have been holding on to some articles, not having found the right audience. I don’t write for the audience, I write because it’s in me. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. And while I don’t care for being judged for my perceptions, I know that it’s a risk that comes with this job.

I need to write. So I guess it’s a risk that I’ll have to take.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Know Where You Are Going - So That You Can Get There.

It’s been a while since I last posted, many reasons – none of which would necessarily be considered valid. Not that these excuses require validity, or even that my lack of posting requires excuses.

But basically, being an active mother – my thoughts hit me at the oddest times. While doing dishes, laundry, mopping floors – none of which are really conducive to having the thought fleshed out and written down. Last night while clearing my kitchen I found myself reviewing a conversation I had had earlier in the day.

I hadn’t made myself clear enough then – and felt I needed to try again. While I share it with them, feel free to listen in.

So this post was dedicated to M&M. Here goes…

Many of us feel that our role in life, our position in society, or our identity we were assigned at birth – was unfairly imposed upon us. We want to change it. To be something else. Something better. Something more.

Life is a beautiful journey, and perhaps it is indeed unfair if our final destination is planned for us. For that matter, to simply hop aboard a random train, for the sole purpose of getting away, with no inkling as to what the direction may be – is not only foolhardy, it is dangerous.

My proposal will meet you half way. I have no objection for the mature adult to examine his options, look at his life seriously, and decide where and what he wants to do with it. As a matter of fact, I greatly encourage that. But I do recommend that he first reach a conclusion – and subsequently be who he wants to be.

Get to know yourself. Know your weaknesses, your strengths. Your secret desires, your greatest fears. Climb that hill. Conquer that mountain. So long as you don’t go drifting aimlessly about.

The danger of deciding while already en route – is that suddenly one may wake up and realize that they don’t recognize themselves. They have drifted quite far from who they were – and it is quite likely that they are still unhappy.

My recent observation was followed with intense debate. Mostly the argument seemed to be that I wasn’t quite right in asserting that one can be whoever they want to be. The detracting argument was that in our society one needs to get to whoever they believe themselves to be – slowly. So as not to ripple the waters too badly with a rash and sudden change.

Granted. There is legitimacy to that POV. But that was not my concern. To simply state that this isn’t who I want to be, and therefore I’m stepping away from this – towards something that is more my style, is not really defining or even knowing what that style may be. Rather, I suggest KNOWING who you want to be: An admirable likeable person. Most importantly, admired and liked by yourself. So long as you KNOW who you want to be, hop aboard any train – be it local or express. It’ll get you there.

Deciding in advance where one wants to be, will not preempt growth, but it will inhibit recession. Growth of character can only be achieved while knowing who we are. It’s the not-knowing and the drifting downstream, that weakens our identity. That is when our proud sense of self, is replaced with obnoxious egotism. We think we know who we are, when in fact we aren’t even thinking.

We’re simply riding along, with no thought or care. Getting stuck in the muck is inevitable, and by the time we decide to look out the window to determine our next course of action, we may find that we are hopelessly lost.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Williamsburg, Satmar and Me

Apparently so many of you are of the opinion that they know precisely what it is that makes Williamsburg tick. The only problem with your assumptions is that they are so very wrong. Simply stated: Williamsburg is not one entity with a set of rules - - but rather it is a group of people with a somewhat similar ideology and lifestyle. Those that choose to live here have the option of living their lives in a manner that will fit anywhere on the spectrum. The two ends of said spectrum are radically different, just like any other Jewish community, be it Lakewood, Bnei Brak or even Tosh. All these communities have preliminary ‘rules’ – but they are not necessarily binding.

There has been a remark by one commenter that he saw registration forms for the local yeshivas, and if anyone were to be found with the internet then the children would subsequently be expelled. Every yeshiva from Torah V’daas to Torah Temima has registration forms where they clearly state that children from homes that have a TV will not be accepted – yet any survey will reveal that this rule is not necessarily abided by. And no one would accuse a Flatbush resident with TV of being ‘not typical’. These guidelines are just in place to portray the ideology the leaders want for their ‘community'. As a rule, leaders tend to be more to the ‘right’ than the rest of the members.

In addition, we all choose to belong to a group and to leaders that best fit the lifestyle we want. Some prefer leaders that are more liberal than themselves – so this way they can allow themselves to lighten up, and no longer worry about the conscience that has been holding them back. While at the same time, many prefer aligning with leaders that are somewhat more old school and follow more strictly the letter of the law – this way they know that regardless of where temptations in life may lead them, they will always come back – and always belong.

And now for a historical perspective on Williamsburg and her residents:
Williamsburg was initially formed by a chasidish group mostly originating from Hungarian and Romanian communities. Being that the initial towns no longer existed, and most of the members unfortunately perished, this new group consisted of handfuls of different Jews from different towns. Yet the common denominator amongst them all was that they were of similar principles. Be it their focus on tznius, on Torah-learning, or simply their desire to once again live a Yiddish speaking – chaseedish life. They all lost and left a life behind, but still had the hopes and dreams of recreating something that can – if not replace, then at least restore – their heimish home.

The members of this ‘conglomerate’ were from many different walks of chasidish life. Even amongst the rabbonim, as frum as they all were – there were those that were more liberal, while some were more moderate, while others still were die-hard traditionalists. So while the rabbonim placed in position of authority were perhaps more extreme in their beliefs, most of these rabbonim were understanding of the fact that their followers might not be exactly of the same mind – even though they held their rebbes in highest esteem.

Satmar Rebbe Zatz”l especially – as much as he was known for his very outspoken and uncompromising approach towards anything and everything that he deemed unhalachic, when it came to an issue that was simply regarding ‘frumkeit’ his position was entirely different.

Examples that come to mind:
• While CRC / Hisachdus was banning TV with an official ‘issur’, lots of rabbonim were also advocating to include in the ban radio and newspapers. But the Rebbe would not go for it.
• While the Kasho Rav Zatz”l was loudly objecting to girl working in an office environment, the Rebbe was not only not against it, but he even encouraged it – as long as the parents had confirm the acceptability of the place.
• As much as the Rebbe himself was a big Gaon and Talmud chochom and encouraged and valued Torah-learning, unlike other kehillos that rushed into opening kollelim for their freshly-married yungerleit, he actually recommended that they go out in the world and earn a living.

Being that he was a responsible, compassionate and true leader – he understood that by going to the extreme he will alienated a large number of this newly established community. Therefore he gave them the opportunity to live their lives and be accepted as who they truly were, as long as the basic criteria was met. It was on these standards that Williamsburg in general and Satmar in particular were developed.

So while the lifestyle Begreatfull describes, does unfortunately exist – it is by far not the typical. As for me? My family would be considered ‘average Williamsburg’ – and amongst my family I am just ‘one-of-them’, and in no way do I stand out. Nor do I ever intend to.

After five generations, our community has evolved quite a bit, and yet an entire spectrum of very different families still comfortably co-exists. Even though they greatly vary in their ideas and subsequent lifestyles, they nonetheless share their core common beliefs.

As a radiant rainbow ought to be - - each color drastically different, yet blending together so artistically.

P.S. While I know that I have quite adequately covered this issue, I don’t doubt that there will be differences of opinion. Hey, it’s comment that give blogs their color.

Friday, February 10, 2006

How Much Is Too Much?

I’m back!

Vacation has come and gone, as has that dreaded deadline. The scary thing is the task didn’t get done. There is a beautiful thing about self-imposed deadlines – you get to readjust it as often as you like and there is no boss there to judge and complain. Actually, that is also the down-side of independence. Not only do I have to come face to face every single day - with the failure that I have become. But I don’t even have whom to blame! I can’t bitch about the task being too difficult, since I was the one who decided that it was possible in the first place!

Kinda like those who’ve shunned responsibility and the yoke of religious obligation. I feel bad for those that find that life still sucks, yet they don’t have a G-d to complain to or obligations to whine about. I don’t care what anyone says about it – but while a hefty lump of freedom certainly sweetens life, an overdose is overkill.

But that was totally not the topic that I was going to blog about! But I guess it sorta relates to my trip too. Ever been to Vegas? The initial attraction to Las Vegas is the many conventions occurring at any given time. Consequently, some of the world’s greatest performers tend to congregate there. They have their own maxim there: “Welcome to Las Vegas, where too much is never enough…” Trust me dear readers – one week in Vegas, is way more insane living than one should ever be subjected to.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a fabulous time. The strip is awesome! Especially at night! It was amazing walking around the shopping mall at The Caesar’s, The Venetian, The Aladdin and too many more places to mention. The casinos are fun for a bit, and the free attractions some hotels provide are enough to keep you busy for a few evenings in a row. The Bellagio’s water shows range from sweetly romantic melodies to ear-shattering, tap-to-the-beat, and smile-inducing rock. The Mirage volcano was pretty OK, but the effects were too obviously faked to impress. The Sirens of T.I. was a stupid performance if ever there was one. Six years ago they had the Pirate show – and I thought that was stupid. I guess I’ve learnt that just like extravagance and beauty can always be outdone – unfortunately, so can stupidity.

Six years ago many things were different. As a matter of fact, there seemed to have been intentions at that point to ‘clean up’ Sin City. There were some children’s park built, and many hotels focused on children’s attractions. And from the Jewish perspective: while six years ago there was no kosher restaurant to eat out in, at this point there are five kosher eateries, many minyanim, a kosher mikva – and a vibrant, growing Jewish community. All of that is thanks to Rabbi Shia Harlig from Chabad, whom I was privileged to personally meet, who made it his life mission to bring yiddishkeit to Las Vegas, which makes it easier for the Heimish traveler to feel more at home.

But in spite of the success with the burgeoning Jewish life there, their other attempts at reinventing this City into a family friendly place failed dramatically. As an emcee / comedian was saying ‘Bringing children to Vegas, is like taking a Hooker to Disneyland’. Sin City is back – and I don’t know if that is such a good thing…

Or rather, as they would readily admit: It’s too much of a good thing.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Traveling in Time

Preparing for a trip can be exciting. Suddenly shopping is warranted and spending money is excused. Not that I enjoy throwing my dollars away, but the idea that I have given myself a budget which I am going to spend anyway, somehow makes me feel less guilty.

There is one part of traveling that freaks me out though, and that is the actual traveling. To be more precise: it’s the airplane.

I have this unmitigated fear of being in the air that the mere thought of it literally causes shortness of breath. It isn’t like I have never flown before, my last count has had me on around a dozen flights or so, yet no past experience nor reassurances about statistics and advances in mechanical science could possibly relieve me. The relief I feel when landing has made me reexamine my suicidal tendencies.

But the plane ride here was pleasant, and the trip looks like it will be a success.

Wish us luck… I still need to get home!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

So How Is Your Day Going?

So today is officially the most depressing day of the year.
Hey, it wasn’t me who decided so. Apparently Cliff Arnall, psychologist / scientist (and I might add- / mathematician) has come to the indisputable conclusion that today sucks.

Odd really, since my stroll out this morning was surprisingly beautiful – especially for this time of year! A brilliant sun and white puff clouds with the temperature hovering in the very comfortable high forties.

Had they labeled yesterday ‘Stinkiest Day of the Year’, I would have gone along with it. Because aside from the weather being a downer, I had to put up with tantrums, junk-food binging, and laziness resulting in a movie marathon – when I should have been working. Come to think of it, I actually do think that the weather was to blame for all of the above!

Or maybe Cliff Arnall actually did know what he was talking about.

Well, I guess we ought to consider ourselves lucky. As someone has pointed out - if the world didn't suck - we'd all fall off.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Breaking My Promise

I once again realized that I am my own worst enemy.

Since my promise to post about ‘Heimish women fulfilling their potential’, I haven’t posted anything. The fact that I have so little spare time wouldn’t have affected my blogging if I could just write about my random thoughts of the day. But if I am obligated to blog about a topic that would require writing an actual article - I would need to get into it and verify facts… so of course I find myself procrastinating - - and ultimately staying offline.

My day job – which happens not to pay much, requires writing so many well researched articles that I will avoid writing anything obligatory at all costs. I’ve got a project that needs completing, and the self-imposed deadline, is understandably continuously being postponed… Perhaps when this project is completed – hopefully by the end of the month – I will devote my time and give y’all what I promised. Until then – I’ll take the liberty to blog whenever I get the itch to share a thought.

And wouldn’t you guess - at the moment I’m blank.

Hey, I’m entitled. I’ve already attended three weddings this week, and we’re only on Monday! Monroe, B.P. and Williamsburg. If I wasn’t so exhausted, I would find material right here…

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I know I promised that I will be writing about Chasidish women finding fulfillment in their role in life, and I am planning to do that. – but not now.

I find that I need to feel passionate about a piece before pen will meet paper, (or in this case – fingers will meet keyboard). At the moment the sun is shining, my son is babbling and I am in too a playful mood to care to explain or examine what precisely is causing this overall feeling of contentment.

Life’s good ב"ה.

At the moment my husband and I are planning our vacation… any suggestions?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Parted at Parties

I know I haven’t updated in a while. I had every intention to… but with it being Chanuka and all the parties that entails… I didn’t really get around to it.

Chanuka is party time is family time…

My family, like every family consists of all sorts of people. The nice, the annoying; the bright and the dull; the smart as well as the – let’s just say not-so-smart. And although I so often wish I didn’t – I love them all.

Every year it’s the same – yet different. Of course, no one is going to object if the food resembles the one from a year prior – as a matter of fact, it’s practically expected for the food to be ‘traditional’! But everyone tends to expect a new ‘program’. These ‘programs’ usually consist of games or some other forms of entertainment that will keep the kids and adults occupied.

The kids are usually easily pleased with a small ‘grab-bag’ game of sorts. It is inevitable that one of the children will end up crying – claiming that they gave more than they got. Welcome to the REAL WORLD... And then, depending on the party and the crowd, we were sometimes able to keep the kids quiet for another hour or so – with a ‘kosher’ movie. For some that meant Sesame Street or Winnie the Pooh, others it was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and for others yet it could only be Uncle Moishe or the Torah Tots – at this particular party there were still others that felt that anything that involved looking at a computer screen should be off the list of possibilities. So be it. We came up with other ideas.

For the adults though, things weren’t so simple either. Of course we wanted an activity that was fun as well as funny – but I wasn’t counting on someone being concerned about keeping the interaction between the sexes to a minimal. Apparently there are some who feel that sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law are halachicly ‘fremdt’, and as such they aren’t really permitted to freely converse with each other. Obviously I wasn’t raised with that perspective and to the chagrin of those of a different persuasion - I rarely abide by it either. While I would never go out of my way to make anyone feel uncomfortable – I find that indeed, most don't have any objections. At least there is usually no obvious display of discomfort.

This Chanuka though, these ‘beliefs’ that are harbored by some, came into play. Only because I initially couldn’t come up with an activity that will have all entertained without requiring ‘interaction’. I was given the go-ahead on planning a game that will involve everyone laughing at the same jokes, apparently that was still permissible, but once there was a risk of the possibility of the conversation reaching across the table, then we should perhaps look into the idea of separate rooms. To be fair, this was the idea of only one sister-in-law, and an opinion that I felt that she was perhaps permitted to hold, only because that was how things are done by her parents. Nonetheless I found it surprising. If sisters or brothers –in-law aren’t ‘immediate’ family – then who was left?

I’ve come to realize that things have changed. And not in the way that I thought. I used to worry that we are losing sight of so many important traditions – but at the rate we’re going – what with us picking up so many new ones, we can all rest assured that Ultra-Orthodoxy ‘vet derleben Mashiach’en’.

We ended up having a grand time in spite of these new found halachos. Or maybe it was ‘because of’ them? Whom am I kidding? There was neither less teasing nor any lessening in cross-gender banter… We made fun of each other as much as we always did. Isn’t that what these events are about?

Actually – that and kvitlech. Which was fun – and I won! Not enough to make me feel badly for the ones who lost, but enough to make me feel good about my playing skills. As for those that did lose, I loved their good-natured, easy going attitude of ‘Hey it’s ok, it all stays in the family…’. Another important tradition observed.

In a family where we don’t openly express our love for one another, as talking about ‘love’ in any denomination is considered taboo, the love is palpable. From the sons who are precisely what their parents always dreamed for them to be – to the son who dances to his own tune... From the daughter who can switch places with her mother – and no one would notice the difference, to the one who attempts to assert her individuality every day, lest someone might (once again) compare her to her sister… We’re family, we’re one. And for better or for worse we’ll love each other - - ‘til death do us part.

As the clock will unabashedly reveal – this party was a late one. Which probably accounts for my tiredness, and subsequent lack of inhibitions, and my willingness to share these half-formulated thoughts. But isn’t that what blogging is all about? It isn’t? Oh well… for now – this will have to do.

Monday, December 19, 2005

UPS and the realization they delivered.

Esti is a dear friend of mine. She’s intelligent, talented and loyal to a fault. My conversations with her inevitably tend to turn into arguments. Not because we don’t respect each others opinions, but probably because we do.

Unlike me, she is technically ‘supporting’ her husband while he ‘learns’. While I admire a serious learner as much as the next guy, I don’t believe that any husband has the right to do it at his wife’s expense. Apparently my opinion wasn’t called for, and she successfully manages to earn what little bit she needs, being that she is so easily satisfied with the barest minimum. At the same time too, she is raising a family that is קע"ה growing at a remarkable rate. She is an amazingly calm mother, and her kids are some of the most adorable and lovable impish little rascals you’ll ever meet. But it has come to a point where I am literally begging her to go on birth control. Ironically, she is not theoretically against it – she just truly wants to have that large family – like the one she grew up in. I'm afraid that she will get there.

Working at home requires her to have a PC of course, yet amazingly she makes do without the internet. She’s dead set against it – and truthfully, knowing the ’net as well as I do – I can’t find it in my heart to encourage her to get it. But I read to her from my blog, and occasionally from others. They make for good kindle for some heated debates. She tends to have the quirkiest observations about life – and it is fun to hear her angle on things.

The other day we were once again discussing something, that seemed mighty important at the time, but it couldn’t have been that noteworthy – as I can’t seem to recall what it was about. Regardless of what it was, she suddenly commented with something that appears to be quite trivial – but it made me think. I sorta like it when that happens.

With the type of work she does, she tends to have deliveries coming and going from her home regularly. The other day she read an article about the majority her packages’ most frequent carrier – UPS. It mentioned that apparently their logo had a makeover some time ago, and most of the UPS trucks have had the newer version printed on their sides. But not all of them. The two versions are similar – and if one is unaware of the change, it is quite easy to miss. Esti tells me that she has these deliveries on a regular basis and never bothered looking at the little gold logo on the side of the truck, let alone noticing if there was anything new about it. But now that it was brought to her attention, it has become quite impossible for her not to notice each truck that goes by – and immediately take note of which logo it has emblazoned on its side.

There are things in life that we have accepted as the norm. Be it in matters of community issues, traditions, or of course – faith. They just pass us by, we take it for granted that it belongs to be done the way that it’s done - we don’t even notice. And then someone shines a flashlight in that direction.

First there is the discomfort of the glaring light. And then comes the uneasiness with the new world that was exposed.

There are many that believe they have come up with answers, just because it satisfies them on an intellectual level. All the while it leaves them feeling emotionally cast asea, and spiritually stripped bare. But they find it easier to go through life, believing that they understand.

The beauty of our world is in a large sense, the mystery behind it. There is no way we CAN understand it all, although there are many ways we can attempt to. Faith works for me. Simplistic faith. Faith isn't 'knowing' - but rather 'believing'. Where's the fun in certainty? Where is the adventure?

If ignorance is bliss – who is to say that ignorance is all that bad? I say – let’s embrace it. Let’s celebrate it. That innocent and simplistic straightforward faith that gives us contentment in our day to day lives - - while never diminishing the awe.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Original Sin

As most of you are aware of by now, after a two year hiatus the original Hasidic Rebel is back.

Having been a major detractor of his work for some time, I find myself wondering why it is that his return doesn’t irk me. Is it because he seems to have returned less bent on rebellion? Or might it be due to the fact that he threw some kind words my way? –after all, it is said that bribery blinds. But perhaps it is nostalgia – the way retrospective viewing somehow makes it all appear sweeter.

I spent a good part of these past few days rereading all of the old posts – especially the comments. Those of you who read his blog religiously on that summer of ’03 probably recall my valiant efforts to defend our lifestyle. Chalk it up to nostalgia once more, but I am audacious enough to believe I was good back then.

Here’s wishing that my future ideas are as well formulated and as successfully related. Having stumbled upon writers’ block in spite of the many ideas I’ve got brewing, I couldn’t be hoping more sincerely.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Education vs. Education

All these repetitious comments about how the community is ‘robbing’ us of an education – is, quite frankly, getting on my nerves. These ‘commenters’ make it appear as if EVERYONE in this community is lacking an education, and subsequently goes around illiterate, and with no intelligent thoughts in their heads. Would it be fair to say that of the Chinese? That if they aren't sufficiently well-versed in our culture and in our language, then they are 'uneducated'?

Our children learn a tremendous amount and are certainly taught a LOT! And while it is indeed true that a secular education could benefit many of them as well - MANY are coping amazingly well without it!

I am not condoning the fact that the focus on a secular education is so minimal - I am simply saying that the claim that "Clearly, there are consequences for the preferences of having a 4th grade education." can just as often be wrong - as it can be right.

I do strongly believe that children deserve to have a – if basic, then at least well-rounded – secular education. I believe they ought to be taught a better English, with the grammar, spelling and writing abilities this subject requires. I believe they deserve to know math – at least enough for them to know how to do their own calculation as to how much interest will accumulate on their mortgages, savings accounts and outstanding credit card bills. I believe they deserve to know the basics of science. Basic history of around the world – as well as that of our own country. And yes, it is indeed about time our boys know a bit more about geography. If only the locations of the country they are discussing, and knowing which capital associates with which state. We girls are taught all this – and way more. Our mothers were too. So therefore we all have the ability and duty to educate our children with all that we deem necessary. To suggest that our schools lessen the amount of religious study in favor of secular studies is unrealistic. As it has been said – every community has its priorities. Raising moral and God-fearing Chasidim is ours.

Yet to claim that our community is depriving us of an education, thus preventing us from having success financially is the laziest excuse of no doubt, the laziest of guys.
While it would of course depend on what you consider 'education', for a moment let’s agree that education would be amassing knowledge in the context that might be beneficial to the individual later on in life. In light of what this community values, and the culture in which it rears its young – you would have to agree that the residents in these parts, are for the most part, well learnt.

In addition to the admittedly culturally biased and mostly religious education, I think it would be important to once again note that our community also has many wonderful advanced-learning programs for those that are so inclined. And if I may say so – These programs are far more beneficial to the recipient – than say… Footsteps?

I truly feel sorry for all of you that find that your education - or lack thereof, has hindered you in your adult life. All I can do is recommend once again that you do better for your kids.

And once and for all - quit the complaining.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Handbook

My cousin is engaged! Yeah, Mazel Tov! She’s excited. The boy is said to be a good hearted boy – on top of being handsome and a learner. I believe that once again – it was up to the parents to get it right, and focus primarily on the character of each of them, as well as the personalities of the two involved – even more than focusing on the ‘status’ of the match. But that’s a topic for another time.

I’ve got some observations to share. It might not compleletly jive with all I’ve said so far – but that shouldn’t negate it all. It’s just another facet of this wonderful gem called Williamsburg.

So there were flowers sent for the Vort. See - Nowadays flowers aren't spontaneous & heartfelt 'expressions' - as in "Say it with Flowers", flowers are obligatory because there is a rule book somewhere that requires that it be sent. So automatically there is a problem. Do you send an additional bouquet the next day? Isn't a Wednesday humongous super-expensive bouquet enough? Doesn't it already express any sentiment that was meant to have been conveyed? Not according to The Handbook. The Handbook has a straightforward segment on "Shabbos Kallah" and if you look lower down it clearly spells out the need for "18 Roses". I don't think the halacha allows for any leniency. At least not in the 1990 edition of The Guidebook. So of course, one needs to consult those that have the updated version.

When a child is born into a Williamsburg family (I think that BP, Monsey and Monroe are part of this clique - but I am not certain), they are handed The Guidebook. In it there are lists of proper code of dress, expressions for every occasion, gifts with coordinating event and timing attached. There are rules for what to wear to to what occasion. What to say in response to a gift. What to give in response to a gift. Precise rules as to when the "Mazel Tov" comes with a kiss, or just a hand-shake, or (if ever required/permitted) a hug. There are also rules about what gifts a kalla gets, and what a choson gets. When to give it, and when not to. When to call. How soon to hang up. What to say, what not to say. What to think. How to think. What to think when others think. What to say that you think about what others thought - or said they thought.

The Guidebook is an amazing tool if you want to blend in.

So Baruch Hashem I was blessed with a mother who burnt that book as soon as we were born. She taught as that there was right and there was wrong - and what the 'public' has deemed as proper protocol has little to do with how we truly ought to behave. It is indeed thanks to her that all of you are so lucky as to have had the opportunity to be introduced to someone as dazzling as me. :) I had always assumed that my aunts had followed my brilliant mom’s example.

But apparently my darling cousin got ahold of that handbook. The 2005-2006 version. And she says that one of the newer rules clearly states that if one faction of the ‘shidduch’ goes according to ‘The Rules’ the other side needs to comply too. Personally, I am of the opinion that she co-authored it. Be that as it may, the entire engagement is now going to have to go according to The Rules.

Wish us luck.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

It's MY Blog - isn't it?

I often wish that I could blog the way blogs were intended to be done. But the irony is, that my dear readers are far more judgmental of what I say and how I say it – than anyone in my community could be.

So whenever I decide to post, I need to proofread, critique my own style, and analyze my own thoughts. To think that I used to believe that I can’t inspire myself!

Now on to why I am telling you all this:
Being that we have hit the winter season, I have come down with the flu. Not as surprising – as it is annoying. Mostly for the fact that I don’t have the patience for formulating a point of view decent enough to withstand the onslaught that everything I throw out there is subjected to.

So dear readers, for the time being – (being that I am stuck in bed, and am lucky enough to have this marvelous contraption that so amazingly connects me with the outside world, without the need to so much as get out of bed) – will you be kind enough to let me blog without incessant attack? From one cyber-spacer to another?

So here it goes, I’m having a bad day. I was sick on my birthday – which I personally believe to me completely unfair. The fact that my birthday insists on occurring, year after year, right at the onset of this awful season called Winter – is audaciously unfair. I’ve missed Chanuka parties due to the flu. But that’s a fact of life. It’s the Festival of Lights – as much as it is the Season of Motrin. I’ve made peace with that fact. Sorta.

But to be stuck in bed on my BIRTHDAY?!? Not an easy pill to swallow. Especially since my throat is killing me. One of the worst puns out there. I know. But in light of the way I am feeling – I’m gonna let it pass.

Now dear readers – be nice. Very gently tell me how much I suck.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Satmar Ladies' Event

As a Satmar Williamsburg graduate, I attended the Satmar Bikkur Cholim party along with most of my classmates. It was on odd sensation - looking around the table and wondering how many of my friends also reside in two worlds. Cyberspace and Williamsburg. Two ends of the spectrum. I wondered how many of them might have chanced upon this blog. I also realized that I didn't really feel inclined to share with any of them anything regarding my online adventures. Not surprising - since very many of these women haven't ever heard of the term 'blog' or what blogging entails. And while some of these women do have a computer at home, many of them don't - and would probably consider it morally reprehensible. They might even be right. I didn't feel that it was necessary to say something that might offend.

Yet in spite of the fact that the majority of these women were 'missing out' on all the wonders of the World Wide Web, there was a lot laughter going around. I was once again surrounded by an intelligent group of girls who enjoyed discussing topics to death. We were surprised to realize that it was just yesterday that we looked the future in the eye, daring it to come and get us. Yet it came, it conquered, and we're better for it.

Throughout our conversations, I was looking for the disillusioned, unhappy faces that are said to be so dominant in our awfully ghettoed community. I wondered where those that have been disenchanted by our 'restrictive rules' were sitting. And then I realized that had they been upset with the 'system' they probably never would have shown up at this party. So apparently I was right all along. The rebellion that is so active online is practically non-existent within the community. There was an auditorium filled with over 2,000 beautiful, talented, intelligent women - who were living the lives they wanted to, and occupying themselves with what they wanted to do.

I have a classmate that has 5 sons. FIVE! She is 26 years old and she has 5 kids! I was about to get mad. Seriously mad. No woman should be subjected to that kind of life! When it suddenly dawned on me... She wanted it. Every woman at the table was discussing the pros and cons and above all the 'Why did she?'. Yes, every woman at the table was aware that they have a choice in the matter. But the woman in question - who is said to be one of the most relaxed mothers there is - actually commented that she would have no problem having five more sons. Foolish? maybe. Forced into anything? not at all. Many of my friends are relating that their husbands are the ones suggesting that they've done their duty (at least for the time being) in 'being fruitful' - but THEY are the ones who want another baby to hold... to cuddle. There are some who love motherhood - not because they were raised to admire it, but because it truly gives them satisfaction. Just like there are those who do not have the patience for it.

After worrying for so long that the public needs to be educated about the 'choices' available, I've come to realize that very many are content because they've already chosen exactly how they want to live their lives. If we truly care about these women's contentment - perhaps we just ought to leave them be.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Parental Pollution Prevention

I have noticed on some public forums that the intent of my blog has been misinterpreted. Some actually believe that this blog condones and on some level admires the ‘revolution’ occurring in our midst. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While I often bemoan the sad state of affairs in our community, I nonetheless opened this blog to defend those that dare attack it - even though their attack is mostly done with criticism that is very similar to my own. There are some who might call this hypocrisy. Yet I respectfully disagree, and I'll hereby tell you why.

When I talk about how bad things have become in Williamsburg and the surrounding area, I am mostly talking in terms of ‘authorities’ having lost sight of what truly matters. More than anything I want this enclave, this insular little community to survive. I want it for myself, and I want it for my kids. I want to have a place that I can call home and not fear the influences American culture will have on them.

We keep on being criticized for keeping our kids from experiencing this glorious American culture. But what if we as parents don’t find that lifestyle so glorious? Isn’t it our right as parents, scratch that – it is not our ‘right’ but rather our ‘duty’ as parent, to ensure that our children have the best life possible? That they are not exposed to anything that might be deemed harmful to their ‘health’? Surely no one would criticize us if we were to put up walls around our little enclave to limit the ‘smog’ from entering these young underdeveloped lungs, yet we receive endless condemnation for depriving our kids from what we deem ‘spiritual smog’.

Before you assume that I am hereby condemning all forms of cultural enlightenment as spiritual smog, I want to clearly spell out that I am a big proponent of offering advanced education as well as honesty in childrearing. I just don’t believe that one needs to overexpose to the unnecessary in order to ensure a healthy well-rounded upbringing.

With that said, there are many issues that I believe that we as a community can – and should – change. Most of these issues have little to do with Chasidus, and even less to do with Yiddishkeit – and as such should never be mistaken for a part of our religion.

Therefore, rejection of the SatWillSidic way of life need not be a rejection of Yiddishkeit as a whole.

The issues that come to mind are those that involve shidduchim, education, entertainment, etc. Issues that are mostly dependant upon parents. Parents can ensure that their children have all they need for an exciting, funfilled and KOSHER youth. We need to once again have the Yiddish life be one that is filled with light, life, and love. If we learn to give our kids happy lives within the frameworks of what is permissable we are ensuring that less will venture 'out there' in search for something that might be more 'exciting'.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

And the aftershocks are still ongoing.

As for those of you who wanted the link to the interview with Hella Winston & Zev Brenner:

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Talkline with Zev Brenner

There was a major difference between the book reading at Brooklyn Public Library and interview on Zev Brenner's show last night.

At the book reading Hella was being peppered with questions by people who were seriously fascinated by Chasidim, and sort of took great pleasure in finding that there was a negative side to focus on. On Zev Brenner on the other hand, most callers called to voice outrage at Hella's or "Esty's" perspective.

A couple of points that stood out:

There was this guy from Staten Island who found it upsetting that Hella portrayed her rebels as heroes - which Hella denied. While her subjects were portrayed pretty realistically, faults and all – they after all were still the ‘heroes of the story’. And additionally, throughout the book we find Hella silently cheering them on and applauding their 'achievements'. So in that sense they are indeed idolized. I don't believe that this was in any way an encouragement for others to leave - it was simply disturbing since it glorified those that engaged in the precise behavior we hope and pray that our kids won't attempt.

Another very relevant point was made by a David from Brooklyn, as well as some others. Hella portrayed the 'rebels' as highly intellectual people who entertained serious doubts. Yet while the author no doubt selected to interview those that she felt can give a more honest and well-rounded view of the situation, she actually - consciously or subconsciously - chose those that will portray the 'enlightened and intellectually seeking' persona. Her characters though fail to deliver because, as it came out, they all have issues that are far deeper than any the community could have caused or prevented.

Insanity and immorality hits all walks of life. In all degrees from mild (OCD, and other psychological issues) to severe (Infidelity). From Yossi to P. None of these are guys were pushed away by the community's constraints. Perhaps there are others out there that Hella could have interviewed - and their issues might have been solely friction and the inability to live within community standards. Such people might exist. But the fact remains that those the Hella ultimately depicted were people with issues far deeper than what we were led to believe.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mirror Mirror on the Wall...

There was a comment on the last post about morals being universal, and not being dependant upon social mores. That statement would have been correct if 'universally' we all held ourselves accountable to a higher authority. In that case, it wouldn’t be up to how man ‘felt’ about a particular situation – there would have been instructions to dictate the appropriate course of action.

Once it is up to man to decide what is moral and what is not, then morality is what the current generation deems it to be. It is always easy to look back in judgment and declare what wasn’t moral in the past. Being that we live in a different era and we value different things, it is easy for us to view things differently. It would nonetheless be foolish and highly presumptuous of us to cast aspersions on the past.

All we can do is look at the here and now, and see so obviously how far we’ve fallen.

Today’s society, that some so want to defend as a wonderfully colorful world – while indeed exciting, it has lost sight of the basic fundamentals of life.

It is difficult to reason with modern man’s thinking – and his ability to rationalize behavior. But while the rationalization works, the life it dictates doesn’t. We’ve taken Descartes’ "Cogito ergo sum” and turned it into the new gospel. It has become the daily mantra of so many who want to believe that they are the creators of original thought. Yet all the while they are bound to believing that they can’t rely on reason they don’t understand – not taking into account that just maybe certain concepts go beyond reason. Regardless of how well one can justify the wrong - it doesn’t become right.

So while we all are certain to understand and know why we do what we do, we fail to take note of the side effects that are disastrous!

At one point the term ‘premarital sex’ encompassed a behavior deemed ‘immoral’ yet it slowly became more prevalent and acceptable. Under the guise of that name, adults that were dating and knew that it would eventually lead to marriage decided that they could wait no longer and consummated the relationship a short time prior to the actual joiner, the wedding. It went from those relationships that would lead to marriage, to those that possibly could lead… Once that idea became the norm, and sex was no longer relegated to the marriage institution, premarital sex turned into something that can only be called ‘casual sex’ or ‘recreational sex’. It no longer was even reserved for an exclusive relationship. As a matter of fact, an interactive relationship wasn’t necessarily required prior to, or even after. Sadder than anything is the fact that today’s youth do not see what is so wrong with this change in direction.

The fact remains though, that young adults remain unmarried for a lot longer, if not indefinitely. Single women raise children on their own. And traditional family life, once the cornerstone of a society, is deemed old-fashioned and a thing of the past.

Take this other example: Of course it makes sense that if people are unhappy in marriage they are entitled to divorce. Without going into detail of what constitutes an ‘unhappy’ marriage – let us just look around at the prevalence of single parent families. There is no doubt that many of the divorces were legitimately called for, just as there is no doubt that too many were hastily made decisions. As soo many statistics have proven, children raised in a one-parent home suffer through grade school and ultimately suffer in adult life in general – and in their future relationships in particular. No amount of reasoning for the parents decisions will change the basic fact that today’s youth has more children raised in a single home environment, thus ensuring that the future generation will be one of emotionally thwarted adults attempting to form relationships to resemble that elusive traditional family life – which they know not how to emulate.

This is not based on, as Hella Winston described it, our erroneous assumptions that the secular world is engaged in sex 24/7. And while it is so simple to justify the ‘freedom’ of people doing as they pleased – we need to remember that even when reason can defend, it does little to make our reflection look better in the proverbial mirror.

There are so many other directions to go with this topic - to point out the prevalent immorality. Although I might do that at a later date – I believe I’ve made my point.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Like It or Leave It

I am continuously being called by friends and family to ‘fess up and finally admit that this community is controlling our lives. But I won’t. (Me? Give up? Never! Me stubborn?? Not at all…:) While it is true that there are some who have very strong opinions and tend to be vocal about it, I don’t for a moment agree that they intimidate the rest of us. That might be their intentions, and there might indeed be those that are intimidated. But that is not the general rule.

Those that read whatever they want to read, or wear what they wanna wear etc. truly have no need to fear being reprimanded or dismissed(?!?) from this community. If anyone has heard of a story of someone being told to move out of Williamsburg, be so kind and let us know.

The one’s that do leave are the ones who don’t want the Chasidic kind of life for themselves at all! Whether their family welcomes them back into their homes varies on an individual basis, and it wouldn’t be fair to generalize.

What I am trying to say, is what I have said so many times before. Contentment is up to us. We have the options of living our lives comfortably and the opportunity to raise our children as we see fit - to be happy, healthy, intelligent and moral adults. If for whatever reason you behave in a way that is offensive to the ‘frummer’ part of the community – which is most certainly the more dominant part, don’t expect them to embrace or admire what you have done. You can ask not to be condemned – but you can’t expect to be condoned. You can even ask to accepted, but you can’t expect to be understood.

The majority of those that live in Williamsburg chose to live here because it is a tight-knit community that shares their ideals. In light of that, it would be immensely foolish as well as childish for someone to complain that the community still insists on admiring and preferring that which it always did.

Read something into it.

Why is it that all those claiming to be intellectually thwarted keep going back to the community’s frowning upon TV and movies? Is that even where intelligence comes from? To the best of my knowledge it has been scientifically proven that children (and mice) learn very little from watching intellectual activities, as compared to those that get hands on involvement.

Sitting in from of a screen has a greater potential of turning one into a couch potato than an intellectual. True knowledge is in the books – as it has been for ages. So why are so many complaining about society’s low regard for TV and movies? Being cultured and well educated has little or nothing to do with TV or general movies. A bit of reading takes you a lot further.

Child Protective Services

I wanted to comment on something in chapter 2, Wigged Out.
Now while there are many issues that I am still going to address from the previous chapter, I felt that the following topic should finally be set straight.

The secular society is bemoaning the fact that preteens are being sexualized at too a young age, and subsequently are missing out on their youth, due to the promiscuity of most TV shows and even youth oriented music and fashion. Yet at the same time our attempts to shield our young from precisely that fate is being frowned upon as narrow-minded and fanatic.

Ms. Winston thought it odd that Dini’s father would read newspapers and magazines that he felt his children weren’t ready for. Yet dear Ms. Winston – the thinking goes a bit differently than what you suggested. It is not an issue of internalizing the Hasidic way of life per se, but of not exposing children to that which they aren’t yet fit to see. Think movie ratings. We feel that kids as old as 17 should stick to hearing and reading news with a PG rating. Once 18, a PG13 might not hurt. As far as R or NC17 – probably won’t be necessary ever, yet if they feel like it as adults, that is their prerogative. Even in the secular society they have altered ratings tremendously from what they had been a mere twenty years ago. New York and Hollywood are becoming more liberal by the day, and not that the world is eager to embrace it – but they are left with little choice. Living so close to the greatest City in the world, we are left with less. Why blame us for protecting our children from that which they don’t need to see? Is the censorship sometimes overdone? Absolutely. But in all honesty do you believe that 8 year olds should be discussing sex? Should 13 year olds be plagued by an oral STD which might follow them for the rest of their lives? Are we desperate for teen pregnancies? Withdrawing from what many will agree is an oversexed world is not hypocrisy – it is called Smart Parenting.

While I wasn’t raised immune to the outside world, and my parents did have more open discussions with us regarding a variety of topics, I still don’t believe that our children should be watching TV. What do you want your teenager to watch? Will and Grace? Desperate Housewives? Sex and the City?? Or regarding newspapers and magazines: is it truly important that your preteen know about serial rapists? Or even what rape means?

Innocence is precious, and childhood so short. Why rush it?

I believe that children should know that the newspapers and magazines and movies and everything else exist, especially if they exist in your home. It would even be wise to give them clippings from the papers that you happen to read, or let them watch the occasional news broadcast – (if it’s boring enough it might disinterest them for a while. lol. ) That is the way I was raised, and the way I plan to raise my kids. There are no guarantees in this world, and I am not telling you that this is a fool proof plan. But we all gotta do what we gotta do, what we truly believe to be the right thing – and leave the rest up to our loving God.

He’ll help us – He always does.

Btw: Please don’t misinterpret my words. I did not suggest bringing a TV (or the internet) into your home, or placing a screen into the kids' rooms. That would be tantamount to giving your child a street version introduction to sex. What I am proposing is discussing with your child as openly and as honestly – as much as you think is age appropriate. Honesty will take you further than any pretense can ever protect.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hidden Agenda

In her introduction Ms. Winston describes her conversation with Surie and Chanie. Two women who tell their tales of secrecy and pretense. What they failed to mention was that there are indeed many within the community that readily admit to doing and having what they deem to be socially unacceptable. And they do so without any fear of ‘retribution’. Many of us read a variety newspapers, magazines and best sellers, listen to radio, and have the internet. (although because of the temptation – most of us know to install some form of protection. Lest one finds the term ‘temptation’ amusing, I would like to point out that in spite of how alluring and universally rampant pornography may be, I doubt anyone would disagree with the statement that ‘porn cheapens sex.’ With intimacy between husband and wife being such a pivotal and sacred aspect of our family lives – we wish to take every measure to maintain its sanctity. The temptations go beyond explicit porn to chats, and the inevitable surfing that would lead to sites that could make one doubt one’s inherent belief. Not because one’s marriage or convictions are faulty, but because one’s fidelity and faith are delicate entities, and as such need not be put in positions of temptation. More on that some other time.)

In spite of many of us regularly utilizing these articles that are not particularly sanctioned by the community, few amongst us feel the need to ‘hide’ it. Being that within this enclave there are many diverse opinions, and some indeed share our own. To hide it would be to pretend to others that we aren’t who we truly are, thereby we are being unfair to our children, their perspective spouses, and ultimately to ourselves. Living a double life is not only difficult but ultimately detrimental.

Every society has people of different calibers. What increases their regard in the community is usually whatever that particular community admires. That being the case, those who wish to be seen as more respected members of society, and wish to have their children do ‘power matches’ - either live up to the expected ideals, or might hide behind a façade so that others don’t see their true colors. This (in particular) isn’t an issue of our society’s pressures to conform, rather it is that of some people’s individual desire to either maintain their ‘elite’ positions, or their attempts to alter the perceptions of themselves within the community by becoming one of the ‘holier’ ones.

Therefore, there are indeed those who do find the need to cover up window shades, and put their blockbuster or library bags, or even newspapers into nondescript black bags. These are usually those who’s family are of the aforementioned higher caliber and subsequently don’t want to upset / offend their family (more on this some other time), or they just don’t want others to know they have deviated for protocol because they wish to maintain the status they have inherited within the community (and the marriage proposals the said status ensures) – not because the community can’t accept their behavior.

The entire concept of shidduchim is a complicated one. Difficult to explain, while at the same time it isn’t an easy one to condone or condemn. I do plan to discuss it in detail at some later time, but as for how it applies to the topic at hand – I wanted to point out that when I mention marriage proposals, especially the ‘power matches’ I am simply referring to pedigree (and in some cases financial standing). The process is complex, and would certainly seem foreign, odd even, to an outsider.

We ask not that you agree, or even accept – we simply wish to imply that you can’t possibly understand – so we suggest that you therefore don’t judge.

I guess they do get involved...

Surprising news!!!
I received a call from a Hisachdus recording now!! I found the timing highly ironic, so instead of hanging up on the call like I usually would – I stayed on to listen.

They are encouraging us to vote for Mike Bloomberg. lol.

Let us pretend to be outraged for their audacity to get so far involved in our lives as to endorse a candidate they feel will serve the community better.