Before all the announcements about retirement and replacement, when was the last time you watched Letterman?
In my last post, I wrote about explaining the laws of kashrut to our nanny and I ended with this paragraph:
Keeping kosher is something we do; it’s part of our tradition and part of who we are. But it’s not the easiest thing to explain. I mean, it’s easy enough to say, “There are a bunch of passages in the Torah that are all about dietary restrictions and Jews have stuck with those for an awfully long time.” But it takes a good deal more than that to explain why those dietary restrictions are ones that we — in this house in this time and place — still find meaningful and worth following, especially since we don’t read the Torah literally and we don’t take to heart all of the rules-and-regulations passages from right alongside the passages about keeping kosher. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor to try to explain oneself to others … despite, or perhaps because of, the difficulty that often attends making sense of one’s beliefs and actions.
And so a number of people wanted to know why I keep kosher.
In the first place, it’s a return for me to the way I did things when I was growing up. My grandparents kept a kosher home and so did my parents; I went to a private Hebrew day school from kindergarten through eighth grade. So keeping kosher was the standard for me until high school. I didn’t keep kosher in high school, college, or graduate school. Returning to it now that I have a family of my own is a sort of homecoming for me.
But it wasn’t necessarily a choice I would have made for myself. It was my wife’s idea and it was important to her; when we drove out to Nebraska from Virginia back in 2008, she suggested it and, over many hours in the car, we debated and decided to give it a try. It was actually pretty difficult to do when we lived in Lincoln; there was no kosher meat available in the city until Trader Joe’s opened shortly before we moved, so we had to drive to Omaha and stock up on frozen meat. Most of the time, we were de facto vegetarians. Despite the challenges, I have to say that it was a great feeling to know that my grandparents could eat anything in our house, using the proper dishes and silverware, when they came to visit. My grandfather never would have said anything, but I’m sure it was a concern when he visited me during my grad school stint in North Carolina.
Having moved to Omaha, it’s much easier. The Jewish community is larger here and there are many more kosher items available in the grocery stores. Buying kosher meat, separating dairy from meat, choosing to have a whole bunch of sets of dishes, or asking questions about ingredients when you’re at a restaurant are all things that could be a hassle but, at this point in my life, they bring a sense of intentionality to a meal. Rather than just choosing anything from the fridge and putting it on a plate, each meal represents an opportunity to pause and consider what’s important to me.
Finally, and very much related to the last point, keeping kosher has become something that’s a part of our identity because we’ve joined a vibrant Jewish community here in Omaha and we’re raising our kids in that community. Keeping kosher is something we do to explain Judaism to our kids; it’s a connection with the history and tradition of the Jewish people. And it’s part of consciously creating a particular identity as Jews in a place where Jews are a very, very small minority. My sense is that this will pay dividends as the kids get older, as their Judaism always will have been a clearly defined part of who they are just as it was for me.
We hired a nanny a little over a month ago, both because we wanted our daughter to have some one-on-one care before she becomes a middle child and because we don’t see a lot of benefit in putting an infant in full-time daycare.
The whole thing is working out really, really well. The woman we hired is fantastic; she takes our daughter to the park or to the library and, when she’s taking care of both kids (our son goes to daycare three mornings a week to hang out with his friends), she takes them to a museum or to the zoo. The kids took to her immediately and all the behavior issues that crop up whenever there’s a big change were quick to dissipate. They’re napping much better at home than they ever did at daycare and, as a result, we get to spend more time (and more quality time) with them after work.
Interestingly, the biggest challenge to having an entirely new person spending a great many hours in our house is trying to explain the notion of keeping kosher. The simplest part is showing her the different sets of dishes and silverware, and explaining which is used for which type of food. Then there’s a basic list of commonly-eaten kosher and non-kosher animals. From there, it gets trickier: “Also, don’t mix milk and meat. And, for some reason, chicken counts as meat but fish does not.” And then, “We have to read all the packaging of everything before we buy it because, for example, a lot of the cheese you might find in a grocery store is made with animal products and is, thus, not kosher.”
But all of that is ultimately just a memorization game. The hard part, as expected, is explaining why. Keeping kosher is something we do; it’s part of our tradition and part of who we are. But it’s not the easiest thing to explain. I mean, it’s easy enough to say, “There are a bunch of passages in the Torah that are all about dietary restrictions and Jews have stuck with those for an awfully long time.” But it takes a good deal more than that to explain why those dietary restrictions are ones that we — in this house in this time and place — still find meaningful and worth following, especially since we don’t read the Torah literally and we don’t take to heart all of the rules-and-regulations passages from right alongside the passages about keeping kosher. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor to try to explain oneself to others … despite, or perhaps because of, the difficulty that often attends making sense of one’s beliefs and actions.
Hands down, the best part about the season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones is that we didn’t have to catch up with the Theon or Bran storylines.
The worst part about the season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones is that we’re definitely going to spend some quality time with Theon and Bran in the second episode.
Seriously, I thought Season 3 was an amazing ten hours of television … except for the seemingly unending torture of Theon Greyjoy and the northerly meandering of Bran, Hodor, and the Reed siblings. If those characters fell off the map of Westeros, I wouldn’t be sad. [And, no, I haven’t finished reading the books; no spoilers in the comments here, if you please.]
Breaking News: No News To Report On This Story In Days.
It’s impressive the way that CNN went all in on this story, just dropped everything and decided that they were going to be the missing airplane network.
But at what point does CNN give up on this and report news again? Ever?
In Kigali, at Monday’s commemoration ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, Ban Ki-moon said that:
“Our first duty must always be to protect people — to protect human beings in need and distress… We are sure to face other grave challenges to our common values. And we must meet them. We must not be left to utter the words “never again”, again and again”.
Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster has become a symbol for far right extremists after he was used to help recruit children, according to German police.
In the latest incident Neo Nazi Steffen Lange, 31, dressed as the popular children’s TV character, walked into a school in Senftenberg, in the German state of Brandenburg, and together with another Neo-Nazi handed out pamphlets to children.
The Monster and his accomplice were arrested after a teacher complained to police about the contents of the leaflets.
The whole notion of attempting to hand out neo-Nazi pamphlets to kids young enough to care about Cookie Monster utterly baffles me.
It’s disturbing and weird. But it’s also misguided.
My son, who is almost four, would be very excited if Cookie Monster turned up at his school. But he cannot read, so he would likely dismiss the racist pamphlet completely. Or, he would ask me to read it and I would tell him it was just junk that needed to be thrown away. And then he would forget all about the pamphlet we never read and he would talk all about how Cookie Monster came to school. And I would say to him, “Yes, Cookie Monster is very nice and he likes everyone in the world.” Kids who are old enough to figure out the pamphlet likely don’t care much about Cookie Monster. And it’s not as if parents whose little kids bring home neo-Nazi pamphlets are suddenly going to say to themselves, “You know, I wasn’t sympathetic to the neo-Nazis before … but this Cookie Monster makes some pretty compelling arguments.”
So I guess what I’m saying is that neo-Nazis aren’t very smart. Also, water is wet.
(Source: Daily Mail)
Clever map by VinePair of the “Wines of Westeros” just in time for tonight.
A few mornings a week, I wake up to a comment on my blog that’s so outlandishly stupid or offensive that I think to myself, “This is obviously spam or trolling.” So I delete it.
Amazingly, nine times out of ten, the commenter publishes an identical comment almost immediately after I’ve deleted the original comment. This lets me know that it’s not spam, that somewhere out there is a veritable army of trolls with no appreciation for decency or the English language, and that these trolls are so accustomed to having their comments blocked that they copy their comments so they can just paste them back in after they’ve been deleted. I’ve learned that they’ll continue to do this until they’re banned from commenting because, apparently, this is what they do with their time.
The internet is an wondrous place.
Just sayin’ …
Last month, when Glenn Ford was released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit, the state of Louisiana “gave him a $20 debit card for his troubles.” That, plus the four cents he had left in his prison account, was all he had.
How do you build up the material accumulations of a lifetime overnight? How do you do it with no money? Where do you even begin?
Ford’s friend John Thompson had a clever idea: Do what millions of Americans do when they are hoping that other people will buy them a whole bunch of stuff. Build an Amazon registry.
The Amazon Wish List is here.
Read the whole piece here.