Dec 18, 2010

Formspring + Me

So I've had a widget in my right sidebar for some time now, and I'm really happy with the interaction it's provided. Thus, I've decided to throw some of the questions and answers here. For more Q&A, visit my Formspring account, and feel free to ask ask ask! Enjoy!

If/when you decide to have kids, how do you think you'll come to deal with the disconnect between your upbringing and theirs? Do you think your hypothetical offspring will be able to fully understand your personal journey and world view if they're FFB? I think, if anything, my personal background growing up without camps or b'nei mitzvahs will allow me to offer a unique and unmatched experience for my children. Growing up non-Jewish and married to someone who went to 15 years of Jewish day school, I think we can approach child-rearing with a mix of the secular and the religious, with the ability to understand that "the outside world" does exist and will impact our children greatly if we live in the U.S. My biggest fear? Jealousy. I do fear being jealous of my children and all of the simchas and life experiences that they will have that I did not. I don't want to become of those "you must do this" kind of mothers, simply because I want to experience vicariously, through my children, what I could not in my own life.

I've been wondering about this for a while. If I see someone asking for money on the street, what should I do? Is it wrong to save for causes that I pick personally, or should I just give to the first person I meet? (Is it wrong to totally ignore them?) This is an excellent question, and a friend and I ran into this a few weeks ago -- with an observant Jew, no less. My policy is always to donate to causes, foundations, and organizations that I trust to dish out the money appropriately (food banks, charitable organizations, etc.). I've tried to give food handouts before, and every person who I tried to give to eventually just asked for money. So I stopped trying with street folks. I give to organizations, and that's my tzedakah. I don't think it's wrong to do this, to save for causes that you pick personally, because I think you probably get a greater feeling of giving out of donating to causes that are important to you. If someone is really making a scene for money, don't ignore them, apologize and just move along.

What about the commandment to guard your health as much as possible? How is it okay to eat greasy chulent, kugel, etc on a regular basis? And how is it permitted to remain overweight (you and me both!)? Well, I can't tell people what to eat, but I know that most of the recipes I make for Shabbat are not greasy and unhealthy -- I make a lot of chicken, vegetables, and good stuff (being gluten free helps with this). I also only make cholent probably once ever two months as a last-resort Saturday food! When I eat out kosher, I try to eat grilled chicken, salads, and rice, etc. But I think people who keep kosher have just as much of a problem eating the "good stuff" as non-Jews do with eating out. It's an everyone problem, not just an Orthodox Jews or people who keep kosher problem


Lily said...

Regarding the first question... Say what you will about Jon & Kate(of the "plus 8" variety), but Kate had a quote I remember from a few years back that still stuck with me. She said "I want our kids to have as many life experiences as possible because I didn't have those sort of opportunities growing up; Jon wants our kids to have as many life experiences as possible because he DID have those opportunities." (Something to that effect -- I'm paraphrasing here!)

I think that you and your husband's varied backgrounds works well in this case. You will be so excited for every single simcha because you didn't have the experience growing up, so you will be so excited your children are doing these amazing things and having these great simchas. You will sort of be experiencing them for the "first time" via your kids. Tuvia will be excited because he experienced these same things and knows what it is like, therefore knows the joy his kids are having.

I've thought about this a lot as well, as I am a baal teshuva and my fiance is FFB, and I believe we have a great balance of backgrounds that will really help us in parenting.

Carie :) said...

Ok, regarding the first point... it's interesting that you brought that up because it's something I thought about quite a bit before my now 18 month old daughter was born, and something I still think about quite often now.

I grew up in a Jewish but very secular with a sprinkling of Reform household. I discovered that there was so much more to Judaism in high school through USY and then even more in college with Orthodox friends and Chabad house. I then settled back a bit as an adult and am now what you might call "Conservadox" if you wanted to put a name to it, but to me I'm just Jewish. My husband was born Jewish, raised as an atheist and then discovered Judaism after college through the Reconstructionist movement and then settled eventually to where I am about. (that really work out!)

Needless to say, our observances have grown and changed over time and I would say are still growing and changing now. Mostly what I want to pass on to my daughter is our love of Judaism, something we both chose, and want her to choose it too. It's amazing how the things I thought were important to imparting that are so different now than what I thought they would be.

Before she was born I worried about the big things. Our Shabbat observance, level of kashrut regarding our secular families, schools, and the outside world. How DO you explain to a child that Halloween isn't that important when there are literally swarms of children outside your door asking for candy?

But now I realize it's the much smaller more personal and day to day acts that feel most important in giving her the gift of Judaism. Her name- Miriam Devorah- named for 2 of our grandmothers, but also for 2 righteous and strong Jewish women as well. Singing Modah Ani with her in the morning and her clapping when we finish; and snuggling up to say her Shema at night before bed. Her plush Shabbat set (complete with candles, a Kiddush cup, 2 challahs and a challah cover) and watching her hold up her soft candlesticks as I light the real ones.
It's those small family oriented gladnesses that I think are truly giving her her love for the things we chose. I want her to grow up knowing it's something we chose and why. I want her to come to love the little and big rituals and know that it's something that we not only want for her but she wants for herself. I think giving her these seemingly small loving moments will help in her wanting to choose Judaism each and every day not only because I want her to, but also because she loves it as well. Am I jealous of this? Yes and no. I do wish I had this as a child, but at the same time it's nice to know that it's something I chose for myself. And I think that giving your children a reason to love what they have instead of forcing it on them will help them choose it for themselves in the long run.

Hope that helps.

le7 said...

The last point about unhealthy food: kosher food doesn't have to be unhealthy! Traditional foods don't have to be unhealthy either! (I know you know this already but it still bothers me). I make chicken soup with whole wheat or sometimes whole spelt matzoh balls. I don't saute my vegetables and it is still delicious. I also make pareve cholent with sweet potatoes, brown rice and beans... you can have the traditional ashkenazi foods and still be healthy...

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