Sunday, February 12, 2017

"Never Again" Means Never Again for Anybody

Some days I get so annoyed with our people – especially when we  kvetch, we groan, we complain.

Today wasn’t one of those days.

Today, I was proud to stand in the sleet and freezing rain, alongside thousands of others at Castle Clinton in Battery Park, the very spot through which many of our parents and grandparents passed on their way to the American dream: a better life for themselves and their families.

As the hail pelted us, we stood in solidarity with immigrants and refugees who seek that same American dream today.

In the cold, we stood to oppose the administration’s efforts to extinguish Lady Liberty’s lamp by slamming shut our country’s golden door. Our people has a long memory and we remember all too well the fate of the passengers aboard the MS St. Louis, turned away from our shores during another dark time in our history.

Soaked to the skin, we listened to words and music from elected officials, community and religious leaders, and recent immigrants – ever cognizant that once upon a time, we were refugees, too.

Today we stood on the shoulders of those who came before us, unwavering in our commitment that “never again” means never again for anybody.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I Know You Were Marching Right Beside Me

Dear The Mums,

Although I don’t know what kind of news coverage there is where you are, I hope you know that Donald Trump is this country’s new president – and that from the perspective of many Americans, he’s wreaking havoc on our democracy.

As the National Organization for Women has reported, immediately following his inauguration, he:
The new president also is having a field day with executive orders, and within 72 hours of taking office, signed executive orders to:
Even as we’re bracing for a Supreme Court nominee and other actions that will attempt to erode women’s rights and civil rights of countless Americans, an unprecedented grassroots movement is gaining momentum. Last Saturday – one day after the president’s inauguration – millions of women (and plenty of men, too) took to the streets in cities across this country and around the world, peacefully marching to demonstrate, again in the words of NOW, “that women’s rights and civil rights will not be rolled back.”

For the first time in many decades, we’re proving that we know what democracy looks like, we’re exercising our right to speak truth to power, and we’re standing up for what is right and just – for women and men, immigrants, people of color, gays, lesbians, transgender people, Muslims, and anyone who calls this country home.

I’m quite sure last week’s march was only the beginning of our work to protect the freedoms and opportunities this country offers us – and that we, unfortunately, can no longer take for granted. Secure in my own beliefs as a feminist, an American, a liberal Jew, and a human being, I am prepared to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty in an effort to make America think again. In the meantime, I was beyond proud to join with hundreds of thousands of other sign-toting New Yorkers in the march up Fifth Avenue – and I know you were there too, marching right beside me.

Miss you…xoxo.
~ Boo!

Monday, January 2, 2017

One More Terrible Thing About 2016

As though the year just ended wasn’t horrible enough – annus horribilis as Queen Elizabeth would say – I was appalled to discover, thanks to, that in the entire 12 months I read a meager five books.

Five books?! High school students do better than that in a single semester.

Appalling, dreadful, upsetting, dismaying, and inexcusable don’t begin to describe my disappointment, but for what it’s worth, here are the volumes that captured my attention in 2016:
  1. Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America by Jonathan Kozol
  2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  3. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
  4. Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons
  5. The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean
Having finished Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking before the new year was even 12 hours old, I guess I’d count this one as well.

Although I’m not generally the resolution-making type, determined, dogged, firm, unwavering, and single-minded barely scratch the surface of my tenacity to do better this year.  

With that in mind, I’m off to my reading chair, Anne of Green Gables in hand.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Heading to a Place We Do Not Know With Trump at the Helm

Dear The Mums,

This weekend was Shabbat Lech L’cha, your favorite parashah, with its connection to the immigrant experience and the perennial promise of America as the golden medina that always was so close to your heart.

After Tuesday’s stunning upset of Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump (yes, you read that correctly), it seems to be a most fitting portion for this week. Indeed, many of us feel as Abraham must have felt: we are going forth from the America we know to a land we truly do not know – at all.

Sadly, this country is not, as so many of us expected it would be, anticipating the historic inauguration of its first female president. Instead, we are on the brink of inaugurating Donald Trump as the leader of the free world, despite his proving again and again throughout the campaign that he and many of his supporters are racists, bigots, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes, Islamaphobes, anti-Semites, and more. (As for his supporters who may not themselves be these horrible things, I cannot wrap my head around how any of them -- particularly women -- could possibly have voted for someone who is so demonstrably all of these things.)

With control of Congress in-hand and a vacancy on the Supreme Court to fill, Trump and his team threaten to unravel many of the hard-won freedoms we hold dear. Equally disturbing, he regularly incites many followers to spew hatred and violence against fellow Americans, especially those who look unlike them, believe differently than they do, or who see the world through a different prism.

This is a divisive, difficult, and frightening time in our country and it is up to each of us to remain vigilant in our efforts to identify and stand up against civil and social injustices on behalf of anyone who is threatened, endangered, unsafe, or wronged. (In an effort to get ahead of the curve, many of us are donating (or increasing our support) to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and organizations that provide services to refugees and immigrants, including HIAS, which has roots aiding many of our own people, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, as they made their way from pogroms and persecution to freedom under the watchful eye of Lady Liberty.)

Friday night at services, “God Bless America,” which really is a prayer, was the closing hymn. As I sang loudly and clearly, with chills of patriotism running down my spine and giving me goosebumps, I don’t think I’ve truly ever wanted anything quite as badly as I want that blessing.
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above

From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home

From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home
God bless America, my home sweet home
Miss you…xoxo.
~ Boo!

P.S. Have you run into Marcus yet? You may also see Edie Miller "around town." She'd be fun to have in your Torah study group, too. God knows she'll tell it like it is!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Persnickety About Paper

Last week, I received two paper samples to review. (Thanks, Exaclair!) The first is an 80 gram sheet of classic grid paper from a Rhodia Reverse Book, the second is 80 gram paper from a new Rhodia dot grid book.

As expected, the paper quality is without question and all the writing implements I tested -- fountain, ballpoint, and gel pens, as well as a mechanical pencil -- wrote smoothly, without bleeding, feathering or skipping.

My preference, however, is for the classic grid, which I find easier to use to ensure writing in straight lines. I do, however, appreciate the near invisibility of the dot grid paper. So, I can't help but ask if Exaclair would consider creating a classic grid that's less prominent in color and "boldness" than its current classic grid paper.

What say ye, Exaclair?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Sampling of Sukkot

Which is your favorite sukkah? Why?

Which sukkah looks most welcoming? Why? 

Did you spend time in a sukkah this year?

Hope it was a chag sameach!

Temple Shaaray Tefila, New York, NY
Israel's smallest sukkah
Beit Frummie, Lehigh Valley, PA
URJ, New York, NY
Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple, New Brunswick, NJ