Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Review: Growing Up Amish

Quick poll: how many of you are endlessly fascinated by the Amish?  I used to think it was my Orthodoxy and my simultaneous identification/feeling of "otherness" that drew me to the Amish, but then realized that many of my fellow MOTs, Orthodox and otherwise, feel the same way.

I know how I feel when I read a book or see a documentary about my culture through the eyes of others (find me a documentary about the Orthodox, made by the Orthodox.  Bueller?).  Icky, that's how.  They never really get it right.  So I'm wise enough to be skeptical when I see or read such stuff about other cultures.  I know they're not hitting the nail quite on the head.

A couple of months ago, my husband and I were in Amish country checking out a bed-and-breakfast for a possible retreat weekend with our organization, and in the room was a book called "Growing Up Amish" by Ira Wagler.  I flipped it over and saw that it was a memoir written by a man who tried, multiple times, to remain in the Amish faith and ultimately left.  I wanted to plop right down in the rocking chair and read it, but understood the technical issues inherent in that particular choice, so I made a mental note to READ THAT BOOK.


Why?  I could tell, just from skimming that:

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Guest Post: The View From Ashdod

Ladies and gents of OOTOB, I present to you today a guest post from one Revital Belz, who lives in Israel.  She blogs at ajudaica.com and is sharing her viewpoint of the current conflict in Israel.  I know social media and the blogosphere have been abuzz with information and emotions, and here she is in her own thoughtful and inspiring words.  Revital will be available over the next few days to respond to your thoughts and comments.

Although I left my native United States for Israel almost thirty years ago, I always felt a bit
separate from the "real" sabra Israeli society. The moment I opened my mouth, taxi drivers
would start speaking to me in broken English, proud to have identified me as one of those
crazy Americans who came to make Israel their home. My Brooklyn accent stubbornly
stayed with me, and living in my Orthodox community in Bnei Brak I sometimes felt as if I
was being cocooned, distant as it were from the true Israel.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Not This Year

Well, here we go again.  Tonight and tomorrow are Tisha B'av - the saddest time on the Jewish calendar.

It's always a struggle to "make myself sad" so I can appropriately commemorate this day.  Not this year, though.

It's usually tough to conjure up feelings of wistfulness about our nation's eventual return, unified, to our Land. Not this year, though.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kveller post: How My Holocaust Survivor Grandmother is Helping Me Stay Young Forever

Hey OOTOB readers!  Hope everyone is having a nice summer - albeit tempered by all the frightening news out of Israel.  I've been doing some traveling but I'm back, and I'm on Kveller today, talking about how my Holocaust survivor grandmother is helping me stay young forever.

I was the Peter Pan who was never going to grow up. 
I drank regular Coke well into my 20s, loved roller coasters when everyone else my age turned green thinking about them, went back to camp as a grown up for five years, and preferred surprise birthday parties well past adolescence 
Then, somewhere along the way, I changed. 
I think one reason I didn’t want to change was because, to me, the moment I stopped loving roller coasters, I was old. And by “old” I don’t mean mature, responsible, wise, or even physically less capable. I meant the kind of “old” I promised myself I’d never be: boring, pessimistic, jaded, Debbie Downer.  Read the rest here...
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Weird Pew Stats



I know I'm about a bajillion years late to the Pew party, but sometimes you see stats in a new format and it just grabs you in a different way.  Ya know?  I saw this little chart in the OU (as in Orthodox Union) magazine.  And I was like, huh?  Let's go through the categories one by one.


REMEMBERING HOLOCAUST

I know anecdotally that for many non-Orthodox Jews, identity as kids was all about the Holocaust.  I get that.  But Orthodox kids are far more likely to be children and grandchildren of European Jews than American ones, and therefore more directly affected by the Holocaust.  So I wonder how this question was posed for the study.  Was "remembering the Holocaust" measured only when expressed in societally-organized, institutional ways?  For me, having survivor grandparents means I am cognizant of my transiency in the USA in a way that seeps into daily life, although my Jewish identity and schooling as a child wasn't really about the Holocaust.



LEADING ETHICAL LIFE

Again, I'm not really sure what an "ethical life" is measured by.  Volunteerism outside of the Jewish community?  Not surfing the web at work?  Returning the extra change at Nordstrom?  Creating chessed organizations?  In any event, the Modern Orthodox community leads the way here, at a whopping 90%.  Reform does pretty well as compared to Conservative which is probably due to their emphasis on tikkun olam as a value and as a form of Jewish expression and observance.


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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Blog Roundup: Female Orthodox Clergy, Israel's Special Unit, Oprah on Shabbat, and more

Although the Jewish world is still reeling from the murders of the three Israeli boys, there have been lots of other things cooking on the interwebs.


1. Rabbah Sara Hurwitz

Orthodoxy's first female [fill in word of choice here] came to Cleveland to speak recently, sparking locally a huge wave of controversy that is brewing within the larger Orthodox world. Here's another response to the issue in general.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Was All That Praying a Waste?

My friend Andrea is our guest blogger today. See end for Andrea's bio.

What horrible news we had yesterday, about Eyal, Gilad and Naftali A"H, the boys murdered in Israel 18 days ago. As Jews and non-Jews everywhere reel from the news, I am starting to see the question pop up, on my Facebook feed,  in blog entries and on a bulletin board that I frequent: questioning what the point was to all that praying everyone did.
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