Category Archives: Musings

Tznius These Days

“My husband wants to know, maybe you can explain it,” my friend asks. I’m talking to her motziah Shabbos she’s driving home from Shabbos Sheva braches, kids conked out in the back seat, her husband driving and baffled. “My cousin was there, her husband learned a few years in Israel, she went to a top seminary everything and you should have seen how she was dressed. I get the grey lines of tight clothes and long shaitels and knee-skimming skirts, but here she didn’t even try. My husband wants to know what she’s thinking.”

Me the groiyse mind reader, Na, I just have enough opinions and perspectives for five people
“Who said she’s thinking anything,” I started. “These days there such a lack of regard to the authority of halacha maybe she views it as nice but optional.”

Or maybe she’s feeling disenfranchised that her husband’s not learning anymore, so she’s not in the “yeshivish” world anymore.

Or, she’s not in school no one’s telling her what to do, so she’s just acting out like this. Because she’s not an idiot you know, she knows the Halacha, sure, she can recite it and many other lessons that were drilled into her head over the years.

“Na,” my friend counters. “It’s not scandalous for her husband to be in college, it’s ok for her crowd.”

“I dunno,” I muse. “These days no one is tznius and what used to be black is now grey. They always hocked in school about skirt lengths, but have you noticed no one covers their elbows anymore?”

“People in Lakewood still cover their elbows,” She answers.

“Well people on Facebook don’t.” I say, “and these are my ‘friends’.”

“And what about shaitels,” my friend continues.

“What about them?” I ask. I wear short shaitels, not for tznius reasons (although it does work out) but because my bone structure gets lost in long and my face looks fat, so I can discuss it pretty neutrally.

“We came to a consensus on Shabbos that past your bust is prust, past your shoulders to your bust is long and until your shoulders is totally fine.”

I laughed; it’s all so arbitrary.

“My sister n law was hocking about some woman she saw in the pizza store” my friend continued “ ‘her shaitel was till her waist it was disgusting!’ I ripped into her. When you got married, your shaitel was 11 inches, now it’s 16. Her’s was 16 when she got married, add five inches, that’s 21. You started off more yeshivish, but you’re at 16, she started off less so, it’s the same five additional inches, what’s the difference behind the thought? My sister in law was quiet.”

So was I.

“I can’t listen to this sister in law talk about tznius,” my friend started again. “Every day she wears the same long pleated mid-calf skirt. She doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand women when they’re pregnant… When I’m pregnant I struggle with my knees, they’re the only part of me that’s skinny!”

And I’m thinking, does her cousin feel as misunderstood as my friend does by her sister-in-law?

My friend came back to her cousin. “Her skirt wasn’t near her knees with a slit, there’s no grey area, it’s a straight up nisht. What can make a girl just disregard everything she’s been taught.”

And then I remembered. There had been a tznius gathering for educators in my community. “Shaitels shouldn’t be more than 2 inches past the jawbone.” A co-teacher and I exchanged looks and laughed. We both complied with his ruling, but no one else did. I didn’t think much of it until the next day at school when a bunch of teachers were firing off.

“2 inches past, that’s way too short”

“I’m not cutting my shaitel”

“Who is he to make up such random line?”

Then one teacher articulated what everyone felt but couldn’t put words to.

“I’m not a person who doesn’t listen to daas Torah. If I’m told something, I do it. But I’m not cutting my shaitel, so I’m mad that he is turning me into someone who doesn’t listen to Rabbanim; it’s not even Halacha. ”

Four inches were told, hair not past a shirt’s yoke, colorful shoes need not apply. These aren’t Halacha, but it feels like that sometimes, and if we don’t listen long enough, we slowly become people who don’t listen to Rabbanim even when it is Halacha…

I don’t know what my friend’s cousin was thinking. I don’t know why she dresses the way she does, but I walk the streets and she’s not alone. The reason can’t be solitary. What I do know is that tznius is complex. It goes to the root of who we are as women and yidden, and in this modern world that seems to contradict each other even if it shouldn’t. I also, know we’re going about it all wrong. I don’t know right answer and what we should be doing, that many opinions I don’t have, I just know that this isn’t working.

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Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Jewish, Musings, Uncategorized


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Just Passing Through

I want window valances. Not pretty, frilly delicate ones. Bold ones, with sharp lines. Possibly emerald, or in that family.

I also want new paint. My walls are white. Not stark. But the dulling gray white, that just makes you think off crumple generic tissues. I’d paint my dining room a neutral sort of yellow. I’d put mauve in my bedroom. And for my kids room I want one wall electric blue, the others a light shade. And really, I want one wall to be a cork board.

I also want a coffee table.

And light fixtures. I have no light fixtures, just bare bulbs. It’s a little to industrial looking to be hip.

It’s not about the money. Or the shallowness. I’d do it all in a heartbeat, if it was my house, but it’s not. It’s a rental; it would be foolish to invest in this space. I’m just passing through until my dream home (with too many windows) becomes my own. And until that happens, I’m happy to wait with bare windows.

There was this story about the Chofetz Chaim that I never fully appreciated. A visitor came and commented on his sparsely furnished home. The Chofetz Chaim inquired of his guest where his furniture was. The guest looked at him quizzically; I’m just a visitor, passing though. The Chofetz Chaim nodded in agreement. He too was just a visitor, passing though, waiting to go home, for Mashiach and Yerushlayim.

As a child, I was never the one shrieking along to the song “We want Mashiach, we want Mashiach now” not because I didn’t want it, but that I didn’t totally get it(also I’m not a shrieker, too self-conscious for that).  I’m not all there yet either.

But I’m not buying valances or painting, because I’m just passing through, waiting for my real home.


Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Jewish, Musings


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It’s Just A Haircut

The PeklachIt was E’s upsherin on Sunday, and I still can’t stop looking at him. My son is transformed into a new person it seems. Until of course he opens his mouth and as my grandmother said you’d realize he’s “still the same brat”. But such a cute brat. Now that his distractive (and so beautiful) hair is gone, I’m drawn to his eyes. They are soulful. Wide, asking, deep, framed by long lashes, they are the entrance to his soul and world. And I think he’s gotten more mature. Even if I know that that’s all in my head – maybe it’ll turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Cutting his hair was very difficult for me. I was surprised, considering that I hadn’t wanted to leave his hair uncut and do the whole upsherin thing in the first place. But it wasn’t about the hair, it was about the person I knew to be my child. This is a transformative haircut. E doesn’t look like anything I know. I couldn’t even imagine what he’d look like afterward. While they cut his hair, yes, we all laughed that it was a shame for such beautiful hair to be wasted on a boy, but I preoccupied myself with taking pictures the whole time, lest the tears on the edge of my eyes break free of the rim. I did feel like I was losing my child as I knew him. And even though I know it’s the same E, with his finitive language, and inquisitive nature, on Sunday, he was a different person.

There we two moments where it crystallized and I had to turn my face away from the crowd. One, after all the men took their turn snipping off locks of hair, I stood in the back and looked at his hacked hair, and a loud flashing sign in my head read “It’s OVER. This stage is over”.

Naturally there’s a gradually passing from one stage of life to another, a shade of gray, or green, where the red and blue are changing, a mixing of the colors, with the shades starting lighter, fading into on another and gradually being completely transformative in hindsight. It happened in a moment here. It was hard.

And then about a minute into the real haircut, my mother in law (also the barber in this case) had trimmed away enough so you could see the curve and actual shape of the back of E’s head. It was so round and perfect. And I thought, I don’t this part of my son. I don’t know this boy.

Now of course logically, I recognize that he is the same exact person he was the day before, sans hair. He still manipulated his toilet training to get more candy, he still jumps off any surface possible, and still speaks in finite terms of, can’t and need. But he looks so different. So beautiful, yes. But so different than the child I know, that I can’t help but feel I need to get to know him all over again.


Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Jewish, Musings


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if i could

a discussion in class about choices,



second chances,


and if you could do it over

would you?

should you?

could you?


said many students

they’d love

they’d want

they’d die



not sure

don’t think



wishing when it happened,

that it had gone differently.

that I said something else.

that some things didn’t happen at all.


those moments with the pause

of shame

of frustration

of desperation


smiles not meaning happiness

but, sarcasm,

but, grief

but isolation


people ask,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Only the good die young”

“She’s so sweet, but suffers so”


the unsatisfactory answer:

they can handle it

G-d loves them

it’s a test


i don’t know

if i’m a “good” person

if i “handled” it

if i’ve passed


i do know i’m here


just now

this moment


because of what

i’ve done,

didn’t do,

gone though,


all is

for better or worse,

the good with the bad

the joy in the sorrow


i am me,










and i kinda like me.

so no,

so sorry

so, whatever.


i choose

no reset

do over

groundhog day.

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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Musings, Poems


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Paternal Prediction revisited

Old School Graphic Design Tools

Today’s WordPress Prompt reminded me of this post I wrote 5 years ago – it’s as relevant as ever.

I hope I don’t turn out like my father.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my father.

Tonight we were doing an early spring-cleaning, just one closet. Out came the old coats, the worn out shoes, the broken kitchen appliances, and assorted memories.

There was a large leather portfolio that I dump unceremoniously on the side. It was just waiting to be placed in an organized allotted space. My father passed the wreckage that was the cleaning, and spotted the portfolio.

“My old stuff!” he said excitedly. He picked it up, cleared whatever was on the kitchen table with the sweep of his hand, laid down the portfolio and opened it.

Inside was my father’s old work. His work as a graphic artist, years before computers were standard. Where the artist actually had to be one, and not rely on the manipulations and clip art of present day (not minimizing today’s graphics artist, but it’s a completely different field with a different set of skill requirements).
He pulled out papers where he created an accountant’s sheets. He drew ALL the lines. Perfectly. He pulled out posters he created for concerts where all the elements where pasted on top of each other and then printed together. Brochures, where he drew the products, and the simulation of person trying it. He pulled out a yellowed New York Times, where an ad he created had ran. He pulled out several envelopes and letterheads in which logos he created graced. And then he just took out fun things that he drew with an advertisement theme. It wasn’t just, oh I put together the logo or I worked on it; he CREATED it.

“Ta,” I said. “You were amazing. What happened?” He just laughed and said something like,

“I’m so busy just printing now, I don’t have time to patchke on this stuff, besides, this is not how it runs anymore.”

“But, you’re so good!” I protested. He smiled for the compliment but sighed slightly.

“Maybe when I retire I’ll go back to it.” He said optimistically.

I always prided myself on having some artistic skill, I knew I got it from my father, and I’ve seen plenty of his personal work. But seeing today how he utilized his talents for business was successful and loved it, made me feel a bit inadequate in my dabbling in the arts.

But he’s not using it anymore. He loved it. He was great. But real life gets in the way.

I don’t want that to happen to my talents. I want to use them, for them to be me, not for me to tell my children years from now,

“Y’know I had blog when I was younger….”


Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Family, Musings


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My Animal Instinct

Today’s post is brought to by Plinky. I answered today’s question, of which animal I’d choose to be:

If I had to choose which animal to be, I think I’d go with the American Bald Eagle.

They are lookers.

They are strong

They are powerful.

They are respected.

They are talented.

They are smart.

They are also an endangered species, so anyone who messes with them is instantly considered a jerk.


Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Musings, The Sporadic Side


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Depressing Discoveries

I’ll write when I have time, is what I and every aspiring, but lazy writer says. I have ideas, I wrote 5 books – in my head, but pen to paper, never happens.

I’m different, I said. I REALLY don’t have time. No excuses. There is no time. Teaching, prepping, marking papers, cooking, cleaning, diaper changing and plain old mommying (just as I sat down to write this my son came with a Dr. Suess book “Mommy, read a ducky feet!”), make up my entire day, there is no time for jotting down a few epiphanies.

Then my sister got engaged, and is now married (Mazal Tov RL!!!) and I wanted to give her a special gift. Nothing you can buy in the store (Can’t afford that anyway), but something from the heart, practical, and hand- made for her – a cookbook, with a monthly menu, and tips for the kitchen (When you have no time – use the stovetop. No patience – the oven).

I remembered when I first got married how overwhelming the whole kitchen experience was. Forget about the actual cooking, where I had zero to little experience, what I found most frustrating and anxiety provoking was deciding what to make in the first place. Once I knew what I was making, everything was much easier and focused. My sister has about the same cooking experience as me, and I figured she’d probably fall prey to the same mental torture as me, hence the menu.

Of course, since I have no time, this cookbook seemed to be more like a pipedream than an actuality. But I really wanted to do it, just like I really want to write. The wedding got closer and closer, and one morning I woke up and the Shabbos Kallah was a less than week away. And it was the end of the term, insane marking, essays, quizzes, rubrics, averages – big pain, little time.

I really wanted to do it though, so I did. I just did. I sat down, and did it. I even went to Amazing Savings to buy a nice loose-leaf (awesome store!), and then the Dollar Tree for sheet protectors (AS didn’t have). It was done in a night and day. That was it. Probably took about 6 hours total. I don’t know where I found the time. Everything I usually do in that time was accomplished too.

It’s motivating to realize that if I want to do something, it will get done. Very depressing though to realize I maybe don’t want to write as much I think I do.


Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Food, Musings, Slice of Life


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