Monthly Archives: January 2012

Jewish Burial Plots

Letter from a reader in Florida:

We went to one of the local Jewish cemeteries yesterday to look at purchasing some plots.  (We have two of them locally. This is the nicer one and has been sold out for years — a buying opportunity has come up so we figured, why not go look.)  Since my Judaism is questioned so often, I asked if I needed to give them proof of my conversion. The funeral director explained that I would have if this had been back in the 1940’s, but that now it’s not an issue. He went on to explain that they would even bury gentile spouses!  And we are not just talking about an interfaith section – just generally!  WHAT?!  Really?  Is this a strange thing that they do in Florida?  Do you think they do it in New York?  Other places?  Isn’t there some sort of prohibition against this?  I feel like a Jewish burial snob but I wonder what others would think.

Please weigh in in the comments!


Modesty in Teaching?

In many yeshivas, the boys call each other by their last names, to the point that sometimes they don’t even know their friends’ first names. There’s been many a time that I have answered the phone and been asked if the kid on the other end can talk to “ExLastName” – “which one? there are four?” -“The one in my class” 🙂

But that’s a boy thing, apparently. I recently heard the following. In a local boys’ school, for the higher grades, one of the secular studies teachers happens to be female. She has told the parents of the boys that she will NOT call their sons by the first names because it would be a breach of tzniut, modesty. Calling them by their last names only apparently adds a few degrees of separation – especially with 7th and 8th graders. Even when speaking with the parents she uses the last name for the boy.

When I go to a parent teacher evening, or speak to a teacher on the phone, if they referred to my kid by his last name only I would be offended. I cannot control what happens in the classroom, but when you are talking to ME about MY kid you had better know his given name.

Is this ridiculous? Or understandable? Your thoughts please.


Awesome Presentation

Prince ChatterBox has recently been working diligently on a school project. Each child was given an animal to research. They had to put together a report and build a diorama of its habitat.

Yesterday we went to the 4th grade classroom so that all the students could present their verbal reports to the class and parents.

Teacher did a smart thing – she had the boys write out their oral presentation on index cards, and stuck them to the back of the diorama – that way the kids didn’t need to hold the speech in their (shaky) hands and it could appear that they were talking to the audience.

The kids were nervous, so many of them kept their hands in their pockets, but they did well. I love that at the age of 9 my son is learning how to speak in front of other people, and present his ideas.

As he got up to speak he tripped, and his lego diorama of the dolphin’s habitat broke. A friend went up in his stead, ChatterBox got down on the floor, put the habitat back together, waited his turn and looking extremely unruffled gave his presentation.

So proud of him! Afterward he told me he was so glad it was over, but he was thrilled that he got through it.

Pet Peeve

This drives me nuts. Public restrooms. If you are using the bathroom at a clinic, doctor’s office, government office, whatever – close the door after you have left the room! Seriously – why do people leave it open so that the smells leak out into the waiting area? How hard is it to close a door?

Wednesday’s Wacky Signs


Stop the world for a sec – I need to breathe! Wow, life is frenetically busy! Working many hours these days, and trying to fit in family at the same time, which leaves no time for anything else. I have been wanting a haircut for about a month, needing to take the car for a wash for 5 months, I haven’t window shopped at the mall in FOREVER (but that’s totally a good thing)!!

I think I need a personal assistant or a clone. I certainly am shocked that I am doing all of this without a caffeine buzz…I miss coffee, but I am well able to function without it. I am drinking more water and juices to keep myself hydrated – and working out at the gym when I have time boosts me better than caffeine ever did.

At least I have the luxury of working at home – laundry can get done while I work – I don’t know how parents manage the whole work out of the house thing. Seems impossible to me – so hats off to those of you who do manage to juggle everything.

Those of you who work at home – what’s your biggest distraction? What’s the downside, in your opinion, of working out of the house? The biggest advantage?

Wednesday’s Wacky Signs


I was just at the pharmacy to pick something up for my son. Loooong line in front of me, and the pharmacy has a very small counter area. Six people can fit, barely.

Guy ahead of the guy ahead of me is asked for his birth date. He tells the pharmacist that he’ll write it down. Said that people can use this information to steal his identity. Fair point, I hear it, but I wouldn’t necessarily have thought that way.

Guy ahead of me was picking up antibiotics for his wife. Now I try not to listen in because well, it isn’t my business. But when people talk in loud voices in a confined space, you cannot help but hear. Fellow (a religious guy) was told that his wife needs to use a secondary method of birth control while taking the antibiotics. Guy says “my wife isn’t taking any birth control, thank you very much” and the pharmacist says “our records state that she is on the Pill”. Dude is getting very embarrassed and asks to pay so he can leave, and told the pharmacist off for his lack of discretion.

I was appalled. Obviously this guy didn’t want it advertised that his wife is on the Pill – rightly so. He did, however, need to be informed that antibiotics can render the Pill temporarily ineffective. There should have been a way for this to be transmitted without causing any embarrassment to the customer.

I am surprised the guy didn’t make a scene. He seemed so upset…

Double Trouble

When I was expecting my kids I was always nervous that I would have twins. I am a twin myself, and I know what a handful we were to raise. I have to say  though, that I have the most awesome bond with my twin brother that transcends everything, so Mum – all the double-crying and the double-bottles and the double-nappies were all worth it.

We spent some time this weekend with friends of ours who have the most adorable twins. I love babies – and they have two delicious ones! I totally played the Auntie card to the full. There is nothing like holding a quiet contented baby who looks up at you and smiles. I wanted to take them home but had to leave them with their parents. Sigh.

It left me thinking. When I was 21 and pregnant for the first time, just having one baby scared the living daylights out of me. If I would have had twins, I would probably still be in shock. Now, at my advanced age, the idea of twins isn’t scary at all. 16 years of motherhood has perhaps taught me what to panic over and what to take in my stride. I could totally deal with twins, no sweat!  Of course, at this point in my life this particular life lesson is useless – but it really made me think that perhaps more mature mothers have learned so much more about life, and maybe are not so stressed about motherhood as their barely out of their teens counterparts.

What do you think? Do you think maternal age has anything to do with maturity or ability to cope?

From Brothers to Friends

I am not sure when it started to happen, but lately there is more of a camaraderie between the older boys. Used to be that everything had to be fought over. He got a bigger piece than me, he sat in the front last time, don’t look at me like that, Ima he’s looking at me!! and on and on.

These days the older ones actually talk to each other, they listen to the other’s opinion and weigh it, not dismiss it outright. Instead of bursting with telling me what happened at school, they ask where Brother X is so that they can share with him, leaving me out in the cold.

On reflection, being out in the cold is not that bad! I am glad they are building brotherly relationships, learning that their siblings are not necessarily annoying and a bane to their own existence. I am thrilled that I no longer have to show the UN how to broker peace between two rival fighting factions. There are the occasional skirmishes now and then, but there’s usually an easy resolution.

Someone told me this peaceful friendship will only last until they are interested in the same girl – they are all so different, I highly doubt that will happen. Anyway, that is so far off. Girls are still yucky to the majority of my boys. I think. I hope.

I hope they will all be close with one another. I am so blessed with the brothers that I have – I hope my boys will continue to feel the same about their brothers.