Friday, March 27, 2015

Good News, Better News

I've had a surprisingly uplifting few weeks. Even spending all day shopping and cleaning the apartment for Passover couldn't get me down. You're probably wondering why I turned my house over for Passover so early, right? Okay, let's start at the beginning. 

The Good News: I got an unexpected email last week from someone I'd been speaking with about a job opportunity back in November. The talks back then stalled and I was told they'd be hiring in mid-2015, so I took a job at The Jewish Experience and life plodded on. So the unexpected email came at a time when I needed a bit of a lift up. Finances have been really hard, life has been hard, everything has been impossible, but I've been doing it because I have no choice. In the span of a week, I talked to several people, and on Friday got the official job offer. 

I couldn't, absolutely couldn't, turn it down. 

I'll tell you all more about the job once I actually start it after Passover, but let me just say it's going to be exciting and it's going to give me the flexibility I need as a powerhouse working mother and the career boost I've been waiting for my entire career. 

The job has me trekking out to California on Sunday/Monday to meet the team and get jazzed about the awesome things coming, hence why I turned the house over for Passover today. I won't have Sunday, there's no daycare next Thursday, so ... there we are. Two weeks of matzah! Yay!

The Better News: I woke up to an email from my mother-in-law, which sent me into a tizzy searching my email inbox for ... yes ... a notice from the National Visa Center that they finally got around to looking at our paperwork, everything is in order, and Mr. T has an interview scheduled for May 15 in Jerusalem!

I'm going to pretend it was me sending an email every week for the past month reminding them that they received the revised paperwork on February 24 at 12:34 p.m. and it was signed for by ... you get the idea. I hope my nudging actually worked. Nothing else seemed to work (we were denied an expedite twice). 

So. Yay! Theoretically, from everything I've read, once the interview is complete they let him know on the spot whether he's been approved or denied. If he's approved, the process of getting the physical visa is quick. 

Please, please, please pray for a Shavuot reunion for us. On Shavuot, HaShem gave us the Torah. I pray that this year, for Shavuot, he'll give me my husband back. 

I want to thank everyone for the constant support, the kindness, the love, the understanding. The cheerleaders have gotten me through this madness, and I know you'll continue to get me through. I also want to thank the haters and the trolls for representing everything about myself that I could hate and complain about if I had the energy or time. The haters and trolls are the personal slam book that I've never had to write or open. Thank you for that. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mourning My Bangs

Fewer than two years ago, while debating what my head and hair would look like after I married Mr. T and entered my second marriage, I asked the question: Goodbye Bangs? And now, well, I've finally committed to saying goodbye.

I've written a lot on hair and head covering over the years. It's a central component to living life as a religious Jewish woman (not to mention a host of other religious and trendy lifestyles), so of course it comes up.
Nearly six months ago I purchased my first synthetic wig online. It was a short, dark bob, and it was cute, but not the right style. Then I found a long, flowing synthetic wig on Amazon for a mere $16 and purchased it. Crazy long, I cut some of the length and was in love with the look (always paired with a knit hat because, it being synthetic and cheap, the crown looked weird without the hat). I wore the cheap wig for about a month for Shabbat and various functions before it got ratted and knotty. I washed it according to the best instructions on YouTube but it, well, it died. At $16 a pop, I purchased another one for a few annual events and a Purim trip to the UK, but, well, that died after about two wears. 

So for now, I say goodbye to synthetic wigs. I've love a real wig to wear to special events, weddings, and for the occasional Shabbat where I just want to feel va-va-voom and beautiful, but let's be honest, there's no way I'll be able to afford a wig in this lifetime, and I'm okay with that. Because I love scarves, also known as tichles or mitpachot. I love the variety, the act of wrapping, the beauty of accessorizing with something so simple. 

While in the UK, having forgot my volumizer (that poof I wear on my head under my scarves to make it look like I have masses of beautiful locks underneath), I basically lived for 10 days in knit, winter hats. The upside? I didn't scream "I'm a Jew! Look at me!" The downside? I didn't wear any scarves, I felt frumpy, and I slowly realized that my bangs, the bangs that I've had my entire life (I joke that I came out of the womb with bangs), got frizzy and gross and unmanageable. 

Now, they've been on the outs for a while. While pregnant with Ash my hair got really full and luscious. It was wonderful. Then he was born and I've basically spent the past 15 months watching my hair thin, fall out, and deteriorate. All the treatments, conditioners, and love in the world hasn't helped. 

I'm mourning my hair. But in a way I never thought I would. Covering came easy to me. I've always loved covering my hair. It shows that I'm married, that I'm Jewish, that I'm proud. It's an outward mitzvah that makes me feel like I'm doing something for all of Am Yisrael. I'm going my part in my little corner of the world, the best I can. But I never thought I'd cover all of it, every last strand. It was never part of the plan. 

So here I am. Sans bangs. Turning another corner in hair covering with an open mind and a bit of hesitance. 

I suppose the one major upside is that I don't have to think about that tefach (hand's breath allowed showing) anymore. Also? I can finally do all of those fun styles I never could before with bangs. I'm going to view this as a new beginning rather than a loss. 

Forehead, say hello to the world for the first time in 30 some years. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fun With Jewish Anniversary Gifts

Having just celebrated our second anniversary (together, B"H), over Shabbat at a close rabbi friend's home, we got to talking about anniversaries and the classic tradition of yearly gifts based on tradition.

For example, the first anniversary is traditionally paper and in the modern world evidently it's clocks, while the second anniversary is cotton in tradition and china in the modern gift-giving world (I got the former, not the latter), and I can't wait for year four when I get a desk set! Oh the romance.

In the midst of the discussion, we decided that there's a great need to develop yearly Jewish anniversary gifts. Here are some of my thoughts.

Let's get going with the First Anniversary:

  • Traditional: Classic Cholent
  • Modern: Hamin (which is just Sephardi cholent, but it's got lots of dried fruit and stuff in it)

The 10th Anniversary has to be something really beautiful.

  • Traditional: Kishke
  • Modern: Vegetarian Kishke (come on now, you can't get the real stuff in the U.S.)

I really puzzled over the 25th Anniversary. Here's my thought:

  • Traditional: Lokshen Kugel
  • Modern: Crustless Pashtida (that's a quiche, sort of)

I'm thinking that the 50th Anniversary should be

  • Traditional: Schmaltz Herring 
  • Modern: Mustard Herring (oo la la!)

Come on, let's have fun with this, folks. What do you think? 

Note: Mr. T actually spent nine hours on a hand-made paper cut of Aishes Chayil for me, which, honestly, I have absolutely no words to describe. It has left me utterly speechless. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Haveil Havalim: The Nes Gadol Edition

The timing couldn't have been more inconvenient but at the time I agreed to it, hosting Haveil Havalim was super convenient. Unfortunately, because I'm boarding a plane to see my husband tomorrow in the UK (where he's also heading tomorrow), the only posts in this edition are those that were submitted, which, as you'll notice, are few and from just a few authors. 

Bums me out that more people aren't participating in Haveil Havalim, especially with Purim this week, but I can't be down at all because ... I'm going to see my husband for the Hebrew anniversary of our marriage! Nes Gadol! (A huge miracle.) A stranger has given me a huge gift, and I cannot even begin to understand how or why HaShem sent me this angel, but all I can say is thank you, a million times thank you. 

What is Haveil Havalim, you ask?
Founded by Soccer Dad many years ago, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs — a weekly collection of Jewish and Israeli blog highlights, tidbits, and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and used to be coordinated by Jack and is now coordinated on Facebook. The term "Haveil Havalim," which means “Vanity of Vanities,” is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other "excesses" and realized that it was nothing but "hevel," or in English, "vanity."
If you want to participate or, better yet, host, visit the Facebook group, join, and stay up to date on where to send your weekly entries. If you have a Jewish/Judaism/Israel-related post from the past week that you love and think is worth sharing, feel free to post it in the comments.

From Batya at Me-Ander, a book review of John Lennon and The Jews (interestingly, Doron Kornbluth was jut in Denver speaking on the same topic).

If you're curious what the snow in Israel looked like, Batya's Me-Ander has a great photo story on her blog. 

Shiloh Musings has a very poignant piece about terrorism and making the Palestinian Authority pay for the terrible damage it does to the lives of Israelis. 

Fot a ditty on Purim, head over to It's My Crisis and I'll Cry If I Need To for Happiness Promotes Health (truer words, folks!). 

If you're looking for more resources on Purim, check out these Educational Goodies and More over on Good News from Israel.

Over at Aliyahland you'll find "Beyond required reading: REVIEW of Catch the Jew, by Tuvia Tenenbom." From the author: I wasn’t looking forward to reading this book. But once I started reading, reluctantly, I was immediately sucked into Tenenbom’s world. Here's why you may be, too."

Also from Aliyahland is "Sanctity vs Cynicism: Highlights of GZ’s siddur party in Jerusalem" and the hint: sanctity won. "I was primed to be all snarky and cynical but it turned out that what he had to say to the boys was utterly simple, holy and perfect."

From Mamaland, The Jewish Defense League – why they don’t speak for me (or you?). The author says, "The JDL Canada website brags about how they helped arrest Holocaust denier Nazi Ernst Zundel. They should be proud. But they don’t mention Baruch Goldstein, a JDL member who murdered 29 praying Muslims, or any other JDL-initiated murders and murder attempts over the years."

Also: If you're looking for something to mix up your Purim experience, read up on Greek Esther! It will BLOW YOUR MIND.