28 March 2006

Welcome to My Blog!

I've resisted the temptation to become yet another blogger on the 'Net until now. A little bit of my ego-centric side desires to be heard through all the Internet clutter.

First, let me tell you a little bit about myself so that you will see where I'll be coming from on my rants.

Who is "Cool Yiddishe Mama"?

I am a mother of two darling girls and have been married for 8 years. By the end of the summer, I will be turning 30. By occupation, I am a Jewish educator, the type of Hebrew school teacher you all WISH you had growing up. On the religious spectrum, I refuse to put myself into a category, but based on my observance level and preponderance to wear skirts, dresses, and head-coverings, I am usually classified as Orthodox. Politically, I did not support Bush in the last 2 elections yet have lost faith in the Democratic party getting a viable candidate in 2008. Just like most people I know, I have almost no faith in the economy getting better any time soon and feel that Iraq is our generation's VietNam.

Jewish Views:
Keiruv and Shiddukhim
In the past four years, I have spent most of my personal time within the confines of my local Orthodox community. Keiruv (outreach for converts to Judaism and the newly religious) issues have always interested me. In these two years, though, I have been exposed to the difficult situation of frum yidden (religious Jews) making suitable shiddukhim (marriage matches). Barukh Hashem (Thank G-d) I met my husband before I made the decision to become frum, I often tell people. Otherwise, I might have had a similarly difficult time staying on the derekh (path).

I am making a move for changes to the ways these singles can meet each other. Currently, they are limited to singles' Shabbatonim (weekend retreats) or the hope that a shadkhan (matchmaker) will, in the words of Fiddler on the Roof, "make [me] a perfect match". In the frum world, "conventional" methods of meeting people such as hanging out in bars is seriously frowned upon. Any ideas?

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh ba-Zeh (All Israel is Responsible for One Another)
This statement can be taken on so many levels, ranging from every Jew's obligation to support Jews in Israel, whether he/she recognizes the entity of the State of Israel or not to the simple act of chesed (kindness) that involves helping every yid within your community earn a self-sustaining parnasah (livelihood). This after all is the highest on the RaMBaM's Ladder of Tzedakah.

One of the things that pulled me into traditional observance was the community's need to do g'milut chasadim (acts of kindness) for each other. Sadly, the longer I have been in my community, the more people I see that would sooner de-fraud someone of their last dime than help them have a better life.

Not everyone is like this, but someone I know has been out of work for eight months due to a back injury and the community has turned their collective back on him. Nobody seems to care that he has no family to turn to in his time of crisis (they separated themselves from him because he converted) and that he could be put out onto the street for not being able to pay his rent. One "charitable" organization in the community gave him a "handout" (that they collected by shaming some extended members of his family into donating), but neglected to actually hand over the money until other members of the community intervened and made sure the money got into his hands. This same person has been unable to find a job in the community because a former employer (also frum) decided to spread lashon ha-ra (gossip) about this person, saying that he stole money. In reality, the employer found out that this person had informed the local va'ad (rabbinical council) there were blatant violations of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) in the restaurant. In addition, there were health codes. Ironically, the rabbanim (local rabbis) were not swayed by the informant but rather, the place was shut down due to his shady business practices and the board of health having enough.

The cliche "united we stand, divided we fall" applies here as well. Doomsayers have been telling us that the end of Judaism is approaching. How much faster are we bringing it on when we turn our own backs on those in need in our communities because they do not quite fit our narrow profile of acceptable people? A beloved rabbi of my community, zikhrono tzadik liv'rakhah (may his righteous memory be for a blessing), attended a bar mitzvah ceremony of a boy who could not be called the most "learned" in terms of books, but is truly a mentsch. While speaking at the simchah (celebration), it was clear to most of the people present, yet they dare not say it, that this was to be the rabbi's last Shabbat. One key point that was his voice struggled to make was that this boy still has a yiddishe neshamah (Jewish soul) and it didn't make a difference if he only read the blessings for his aliyah to the Torah or led the entire service along with giving a rather scholarly discourse. The point was, that every Jewish person is special and important to G-d. If only His people could have the same love for each other as He has for all of us.

This principle also applies to my earlier rant about shiddukhim. We should help our single Jewish friends find their beshert (intended person), because, after all, there is someone for everyone.

In future posts, I might share more about the following topics: Judaism, interpersonal relationships, cooking, parenting, child-rearing, maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If there are any topics, you would like me to expond on, don't hesitate to post a comment.
blog readability test

Movie Reviews