web analytics
December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘play’

Talking to Myself

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Ever since I started this question-and-answer column, people have been coming over and asking me questions.

Baruch Hashem, right?

Unfortunately, most of these questions have been about my column. That’s helpful. I can’t just spend every single column writing about my column. But this time, in honor of my first anniversary writing for The Jewish Press, I decided to see how many of them I can get in to one article:

Where did you grow up? And where do you live now?

I haven’t actually grown up yet, but I spent most of my childhood in my parents’ backyard. They live in Monsey, which is nice, because there are actually nice backyards where you can do things like torture insects and dig holes to China.

These days I live in New Jersey, because I wanted the feel of living in a punch line. Particularly, I live in Passaic, which is closer to New York City than most of New York State is. Not that I work in the city. I work mostly in my house with my kids hanging off my arm, because these days you can’t just let your kids play in the backyard unsupervised. What if the Chinese invade through a hole in the ground?

What do you do for a living?

You mean besides write for the Jewish Press? Actually, newspapers don’t really pay enough to live on, unless you don’t have kids and you don’t really need to eat or live anywhere. The Jewish Press is more of a side hobby that pays just enough to keep me from leaving. Other side hobbies that I have that pay just enough to keep me from leaving include writing for Hamodia, Aish.com, The 5 Towns Jewish Times, The Lakewood Shopper, The Queens Jewish Link, The Brooklyn Weekly, and various other magazines, writing a comic strip for The 20s and 30s, putting out books, teaching Language Arts to a bunch of high school kids who don’t really want to learn Language Arts as much as they want to go to recess, and writing and sprucing up speeches, web copy, scripts, and various other things for people who need it. Oh, and stand-up comedy. At the end of the day, I don’t really have time for a job.

How did you get started in writing?

I think I got started in Pre-1A. (For non-New Yorkers, this is the year between kindergarten and first grade. We need the extra year over here, for social reasons.) The teacher sat us down and made us write an “A”, and then a “B”, and so on. And the rest was history. And math and science. And recess.

Also, I used to make up stories with my action figures back then. As I got older, the stories got more sophisticated, and the reason I was still playing with action figures got flimsier and flimsier. Luckily, I’m the oldest of a truckload of kids, so my official reason was “babysitting.”

But eventually, I started actually writing things down, and got into the lucrative field of being rejected by newspapers using self-addressed stamped envelopes that I paid for. And the rest is davening.

What types of readers do you hope to reach?

Anyone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. If the little things offend you, then this column is probably going to make your head explode.

Do you have any plans to write a book, or if you already have, to write another one?

At the moment, I have three books with Israel Book Shop Publications, and have a fourth coming out in May. My first book, Don’t Yell “Challah” in a Crowded Matzah Bakery! is about the stresses of putting together Pesach. My other two books, A Clever Title Goes Here and This Side Up, are mainly collections of articles that I’ve written — short spurts on random topics that are great for people who have Attention Deficit Dis-Let’s go ride our bikes.

This Side Up is also the first book ever to have been purposely printed upside down. That we know of.

Do you want to continue to integrate writing into your life in the future? How?

Like I said, it’s already pretty integrated. My entire life at this point, 24/6, is either writing, teaching people how to write, or thinking of things to write. Actually, if you include that third thing, it’s 24/7. I always get my funniest ideas on Friday nights, and then I have to try to remember them until after Shabbos. The worst is when I get them on the first night of a 3-day Yom Tov.

Mordechai Schmutter

50 Reasons to Make Aliyah

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

A few readers have written me lately, saying that my blogs are too hard-hitting, and that I would have better results with honey than with smashing people over the head with a sledgehammer.

I am not totally convinced.

Many people have barricaded themselves in Diaspora ghetto communities who walls are as thick as bomb shelters when it comes to the mitzvah of living inIsrael, and a sledgehammer is needed to chip their defenses. But for a change, I’m willing to give honey a try, so I’ll try to post a few blogs that are dripping with love and see what reactions I get. Let’s start out with listing 50 reasons for making aliyah. Oh – there’s one that I forgot – Obama may be re-elected tonight. Gevalt!

50 Reasons to Make Aliyah:

1. To get closer to G-d.

2. To fulfill the Torah commandment to live in the Land of Israel.

3. To perform the mitzvot in the place they were meant to be performed, and not in a place where we do them as reminders, so that we will still remember how to perform them when we return to the Land.

4. To live in the Land of our Forefathers.

5. To live in the Land of Prophecy.

6. To live in the Land that Hashem promised to the Jews.

7. To break free from being a despised stranger in gentile countries.

8. To escape gentile cultures and the spiritual pollution of the Diaspora, which clouds and distorts pure Jewish thinking and prayer.

9. To play a part in the ingathering of the exiles.

10. To play a part in Israel’s Redemption.

11. To play a part in the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

12. To actualize our daily prayers to return to Israel and thus be true to the words that we say.

13. To make the wish, “Next year in Jerusalem” a reality.

13.  To have a government of Jews.

14. To have a Jewish army.

15. To live in a country according to the Jewish calendar.

16. To live in a country where the official language is Hebrew.

16. So your children won’t intermarry.

17. So your grandchildren won’t intermarry.

18. So your great grandchildren won’t intermarry.

19. To forget about Xmas.

20. To erase the Chillul Hashem of living in a foreign land, where the gentiles mock G-d, saying that He doesn’t have the power to keep His People in Israel.

21. To live amongst Jews.

22. To live in the place here prayer ascends to Heaven.

23. To live in the place of the Shechinah, the Land that Hashem watches over from the beginning of the year to the end.

24. To live in the Land where Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov lived and are buried.

25. To live in the Land where every place I walk earns me a higher place in the World to Come.

26. So my children will grow up to be proud Jews.

27. So my children will grow up without dual identities and schizophrenic complexes.

28. Because Israeli women are the real thing, not trying to be like shiksas, and Israeli men aren’t teenagers who never grow up.

29. Because Israeli mothers still cook meals for the family.

30. Because there is more Torah in Israel than anywhere else in the world.

31. Because there are more Torah Gedolim in Israel than anywhere else in the world.

32. Because there are more frum communities in Israel than anywhere else in the world.

33. Because there are more yeshivot, heders, Talmud Torahs, religious colleges and religious schools for girls in Israel than anywhere else in the world.

34. Because the Kohanim bless the congregation each day.

35. Because of the extra mitzvot you can only do in the Land.

36. To become a bigger Jew, ready to live for the Clal, to become a building of our Nation in our Land, even if it means sacrifice, rather than living a small private life motivated by my own personal interests and pleasures.

37. To live in a place where my taxes support yeshivot, Tzahal, Jewish charity organizations, terror victims, Jewish hospitals, the city of Jerusalem, the ingathering of the exiles….

38. To be near Jerusalem.

39. To be near the Kotel.

40. To be in the place where the Jewish holidays are natural to the climate of the Land.

41. Because of the beautiful biblical scenery.

42. Because the food is great with the most delicious kosher pastries and cakes in the world.

43. Because you can get bagels in Israel too.

44. Because radio broadcasts begin in the morning with “Shema Yisrael.”

45. Because of the modern apartments and fantastic villas and the most beautiful men and women in the world.

46. Because of the thriving economy.

47. Because Israel’s an international leader in high-tech.

48. Because of the excellent medical care.

49. Because of the respect for the elderly.

50. Because that’s where I truly belong and where G-d wants me to be.

Is there something I missed? Please send them in with your comments!

Tzvi Fishman

Reality Threat

Monday, November 5th, 2012

The following is a partial list of things I always knew I would never be good at:

1) Math 2) Creative writing 3) Jewish outreach 4) Playing with children

How did I come up with this list? Simple. Math was never my favorite subject in school and I always had to work hard to earn decent grades on math tests; creative writing may have been up my alley in elementary and high school, but over the past few years I have concluded that my thinking turned way too focused for anything imaginative to be born from it; Jewish outreach is not for a person like me who grew up in a sheltered environment and who gags over all or most exposure to secular society; and playing with children, well, I’m way too intellectual to know what to do with such purely emotional beings.

I would’ve left it at that, but over the past six months my reality began to shake. It didn’t quite topple over, but I’m trying to steady it before it does.

You see, recently, I sat in on a chemistry class. As many of you know, chemistry involves math and for me math involves anxiety. But somehow, as I sat in on the class I didn’t feel anxious and I actually enjoyed the material. It was very strange. Did something suddenly turn on in my brain that made me know and like the math? Was I really good at it? And why wasn’t I feeling uptight and nervous? I tried to draw out the anxiety I always felt when in my classes of old, but then I thought better of it and decided to just let it be.

But I walked out of there in a daze.

Creative writing. Okay, I used to be good at it, but not anymore. I haven’t written a creative piece in ages – except that a few months back something possessed me to try my hand at writing a creative story, and lo and behold, it turned out pretty good. I thought I would try to earn a few bucks for it so I sent it off to a magazine for possible publication. Okay, I’ll admit that they accepted it. I wrote a few more stories since then and a few more got published, but it’s hard to imagine myself as a writer.

I mean, I’m a writer of sorts, but certainly not the creative type.

And Jewish outreach? I don’t know what to make of this, but during the summer I got a job at a kiruv school where I tutored a bunch of students. I think they learned well and they kind of liked me too, but, really, I only helped them a bit with textual stuff and tried to answer a few of their questions as best as I was able. I keep in touch with them on a fairly regular basis, but I still don’t think I’m the kiruv type. As I said, I’m too sheltered to really be comfortable with such different walks of life.

Playing with children is also something I don’t do. I would do it if I knew what to do, but I don’t know how kids think and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to communicate with them. So, I was very surprised when a shy type of kid decided that she liked me and wanted to play with me. I mean, all I did was smile at her! I decided to try out this new experience before going back to the same old me who doesn’t know what to do with kids. I asked the little girl what she wanted to play and suggested that she get a book and that I would read it to her. She did. It was nice, but it was weird. It was hard to believe that it was me playing with this pipsqueak.

So, here I am stuck with a whole bunch of confusing scenarios that threaten to topple my identity. But I’m not the kind of person who really topples so easily and I will not allow some random aberrations to create an exception. So, to reconfirm: I am not good at math, I am not a creative writer, I will not make a good outreach professional, and I don’t know what in heaven’s name to do with children. There. Now I recognize myself. That feels a whole lot better.

S. Goldfarb

Writer’s Profile: An Interview With Erica Lyons

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Erica, where did you grow up and where do you live now?

I grew up in Edison, New Jersey and lived in the same house until I left for college. My parent had moved in several years before I was born. I had the same rabbi for my baby naming, my bat mitzvah and my wedding (this was a first for him). My husband and I even brought our daughter back to my old ­synagogue for her naming.

After law school graduation, I got married and my husband and I moved to New York City where I assumed I would live for many years. Who would ever have predicted that shortly after we would move to Hong Kong? We have lived here since 2002.

What do you do for a living?

After a brief stint as a lawyer for a large insurance company, I began to write. In addition to founding and running Asian Jewish Life- a journal of spirit, society and culture, I freelance as a writer (including a column for The Magazine) and edit for a number of publications, usually writing about Jewish Asia but also about culture, identity, travel, history and parenting. I am currently working on my first novel (fiction, middle grade-young adult). I also do consulting work and serve a regional consultant for the JDC.

How did you get started in writing?

I left my law job when we moved to Hong Kong for my husband’s work in 2002. My intention was to return in two years. Since we were moving with a 7 week old and a 19 month old, we decided that it didn’t make sense for me to work while we were there. It would take a long time for me to settle the children and find a place to live. Two years rolled into three and when we started to discuss staying long term, I was eager to work again. I told my husband I would contact my company in New York and ask them to find me a position in their Hong Kong office.

My husband’s response: “You are a NY qualified attorney from a top law school who has a great reputation within the company. If you make that call, you will likely be working by the end of the week. If your greatest passion in life is to be lawyer for a large insurance company, go for it. If not, you have a window of opportunity to figure out what you are most passionate about.”

I had always wanted to be a writer. I had studied English Literature and Judaic Studies in SUNY Albany’s Honors Program. My thesis was a creative piece. I would frustratingly search the New York Times and announce, “Oh surprise. No job adverts for Jewish poets today,” close the paper and put it down. Now I had the chance to do what I always wanted.

What types of readers do you hope to reach?

I hope that Asian Jewish Life will reach the broadest set of readers possible. The Jewish communities of the Far East (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, India, Korea, Nepal, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand) are unbelievably diverse in terms of background, nationality, denomination, Jewish learning, etc. We try to provide something for everyone. Additionally, our online readers tend to live outside the Far East (the majority are in the US and Israel but with growing readership in Australia, the UK and France), this also requires us to broaden the scope of the magazine.

What about your column in The Magazine?

For The Jewish Press, I tend to write memoir-type pieces that offer a glimpse of Jewish life in the region and what it is like to raise a Jewish family off the major arteries and in a third culture. My pieces are usually personal and weave in stories about my children, with quotes from them as well. Memoir, like biography and autobiography, has always appealed to me. I thrive on personal narratives. Everyone has a story to share.

Since I was a child, I was a natural storyteller, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I had a writer friend tell me to start putting down on paper (or computer) any story I find myself repeating three times. This was invaluable advice.

Karen Greenberg

Love And Fear…Of Food

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Some of us climb a scale each day in terror and dread. Some of us alight a scale, with our hearts thumping and throats tightening. We may know how to jump off and on, or gyrate this way or that to create a different number. And we will stare at that all important number – which could very well dictate our mood for the rest of the day. We believe the final number to be the true judge of our worth – of how well we are doing. And we are sorry that the scale could not be fooled.

I try not to think back to those obsessive weighing-in days. Yes, I am not as slender as I was back then. Yes, I still have days where I feel very large, and need to remind myself that I am much more than a dress size. One day I discovered other ways to monitor size, and my scale lost its power over me. No longer was my self-worth tied to random blinking numbers. I bravely abandoned the scale that was my companion most of my youth and put it away. I learned about a whole world that did not revolve around food plans and rigid choices. I learned that food could be my friend, and I could enjoy it based on my tastes and likes. I learned that my body actually knows when food is necessary, and that I could trust my hunger. I realized that G-d wants us to eat and enjoy, instead of feeling tortured when faced with tasty food.

Eating is a constant, and we ought to notice what it is we consume. What am I choosing to eat at this moment? Do I eat with abandon, or with awareness? Am I even enjoying the food? Am I making my blessings properly, before and after a meal or snack, expressing to G-d how grateful I am for these choices?

I think of a friend, a mentor from my days in New York. She was a truly special woman who not only raised a large family, but had also begun to have grandchildren. Then she succumbed to an awful illness and quickly was gone. The first thought I had then upon hearing the news was “but she never got to be as thin as she wanted.” Yet, G-d took her. Her time was up.

What if we spend our all our waking moments mourning over an extra morsel of cake? What if we regret our food decisions each time we make them? What if we don’t see what we’ve become?

All of us are expert calorie counters. We know all the labels, and can recite the calories fat and carbs of each item. Our generation is truly more educated than any other about food, and the consequences of eating poorly. Even young children have jumped on the food bandwagon, and can rattle off the fat contents and calories. We have the knowledge to make better choices.

It is good to be aware, to be sure we are not eating recreationally, to fill time, but rather that we are reaching for food based on our internal hunger signals. I wonder, though, do we focus equally on our spiritual progress?

The High Holidays are just a few weeks behind us. We have been judged by the one true Judge – and we made promises and resolutions. The real world, the real judgement of our worth, lies entirely in our behaviors and choices. Good intentions are nice, but only valuable if we make them concrete with action. G-d does not care about the number on the scales; He does not care how much we weigh. However, He does care about how we treat our mothers and fathers. He will measure the nuances of our speech around our coworkers and how we act when we are behind the steering wheel.

Am I spending all my waking moments mourning over something I ate that was high in calorie? Am I noticing how I look or who I have become? Do I appreciate the gift of what I do have? Do I truly revel in the present, appreciating life? Do I count my blessings or my calorie consumption?

Penina Scheiner

New York Jewish Doctor Co-Recipient of Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Robert J. Lefkowitz, a Jewish physician and path-breaking biochemist from New York, has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with Brian K. Kobilka, a researcher at California’s Stanford University.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012 went to the scientists for “groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family … of receptors: G-protein–coupled receptors,” an Oct. 10 posting on the website of the Nobel Prize stated. Understanding how these receptors function helped further explain how cells could sense their environment, according to the text.

Lefkowitz – who works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute of Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina — and Kobilka worked together to isolate and analyze a gene which led them to discover that “the receptor was similar to one in the eye that captures light. They realized that there is a whole family of receptors that look alike and function in the same manner,” the Nobel Prize website said.

Lefkowitz, 61, and Kobilka, 57, will share a $1.2 million grant from the Nobel Prize Committee.

On Oct. 9. The Nobel Prize Committee in Stockholm announced that Serge Haroche, a French-Jewish physicist, had won the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with David Wineland from the United States. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 went to Dan Shechtman of Israel’s Technion.

In 2008, Lefkowitz received the US National Medal of Science. The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles reported at the time that he was one of three American-Jewish recipients that year of the nation’s highest honor in science and technology.

In an interview with Emily Harris which appeared this summer on the website of Duke University, Lefkowitz is quoted as saying: “I was clearly destined to be a physician, I dreamed about it from the third grade on. Wouldn’t trade that part of my experience in for anything. I LOVED medical school.” He also said: “I do regret that my dad died thinking I would be a practicing cardiologist, never dreaming what the future held for me.”

Lefkowitz’s father, who died at the age of 63, “never got to see any of this play out,” Lefkowitz said.

JTA

Which Are You?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

I watched them tear a building down;
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a mighty heave and a lusty yell,
They swung a boom and a side wall fell.

I said to the foreman, “Are these men skilled
As the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said, “No indeed!
Just a common laborer is all I need.
And I can wreck in a day or two
What it took the builder a year to do.”

And I thought to myself as I went my way,
“Just which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by the rule and square,
Or am I a wrecker as I walk the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?”

When I read this anonymously written poem, I immediately thought about self-confidence. Do you work brick by brick to build your own self-confidence and those of everyone around you or do you use a wrecking ball to knock it all down? Granted, it is a lot quicker to wreck things than it is to build them well.

But, self-confidence is essential to a healthy, happy life. Self-confidence is needed in order to create meaningful friendships, apply for competitive jobs, and parent our children with assurance and ease. Perhaps the most important reason we need to believe in ourselves is that if we do not, we will teach our children that it is okay to put themselves down as well. This can ultimately lead to a rejection of self.

First, let’s discuss how to build your own self-confidence.

Focus on the positive. Obviously, no one is perfect, but every one of us has positive qualities that we can build on. Even if overall you are not happy with who you are – you can definitely come up with qualities that you appreciate about yourself. Perhaps you are a wonderful organizer, a great listener or an excellent cook. Make a list of the things you like about yourself and schedule activities that bring out those qualities during your day.

Some examples:

If you are a wonderful organizer: Volunteer to run a fundraiser for your shul or school.

If you are a great listener: Visit the elderly and listen to their stories about the past.

If you are an excellent cook: Cook meals for the new mothers in your neighborhood or for the less fortunate.

Engaging in activities that you feel competent in (and that are additionally helpful to others) will help build your self-confidence.

Treat yourself. Every now and then, remind yourself that you are worth it. Depending on what you can afford (both time and money), give yourself something you love: a massage, an hour of babysitting to read your book quietly, a fast walk outside to clear your mind, or an extra two hours of sleep. Treating yourself will signal to your inner “wrecking ball” that you believe you have value.

Once you begin to work on your own self-confidence, it might be time to focus on your children as well. Do they say things like, “I am so stupid” or “I can’t do anything right”? If so, they could use some help figuring out how to build themselves up.

Child psychologists and educators often suggest the following steps:

Avoid labels. Instead of saying, “You are so smart.” Say, “When you figured out how to read that sign without any help, I was so impressed with how much you have learned.” Or, instead of “You are a kind and sweet girl” say, “Remember the time when your sister Faigy was crying and you went over and sang her a song to make her feel better? That was so nice of you.”

Engage in their strengths. Just as you should do for yourself, talk to your child about the things she feels she does well and then help her do those activities regularly. For instance, if your daughter is artistic, sign her up for an art class after school or on Sundays. If your budget does not allow for afterschool activities, consider investing in some art supplies that will be hers alone so that she can feel special.

Rifka Schonfeld

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/which-are-you/2012/10/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: