Monday, December 17, 2012

"find another solution to the anger pollution"

In the chorus to the song entitled, "Stop, Think, and Control" (words and music by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek) children learn not only to sing the words, but to internalize the message that that we all  get angry, but that there are ways of dealing with those feelings. The words go like this:
 "STOP, THINK, TAKE CONTROL of yourself, 
 You've got to STOP, THINK AND CONTROL. 
Find another solution to the anger pollution.
 Gotta Stop Think and Control"

Very young children know about feelings. They want and need the tools to express those feelings. They need the words, they need the role models.  They know very well that we ALL get angry. They- as well as all of the adults in their midst need to  learn to USE WORDS. But to be really effective, they need to learn this in a society where the adults are also learning to find other  solutions to the ANGER POLLUTION in our culture, and in the world.

It is only too easy to point fingers to "mental illness" and "gun control" very big, 'macro issues' Yes, certainly  more gun laws need to be enacted, and understanding, treatment, and legislation of mental illness need to change.

Words like "EVIL"  are hard to grasp. Using words like "Sick" or "Bad" should be used very cautiously with young children because all kids get sick, and a situation like mass murder is well beyond 'bad.'  Think about how terrible things can happen when people lose control and stop thinking.  Help children talk about what to do when they get angry.  This is a conversation that should be part of our every day conversations not just in response to tragedy. 

How to help change a culture? Culture is the language we use every day. Culture is  the ways we relate to each other. It is the lyrics of our songs. It is what we believe in and how we work and play. It is what we eat and how we share meals together. Our culture is the little things that we do everyday. Those little things become the culture which defines us.

Keep it simple. While we call for changes in the entertainment industry, turn off the TV- the news as well as the 'drama' and the eliminate violent video games. 

While we call for gun control legislation on the national level, on a  personal level, let's think about some non-violent solutions to the 'anger pollution'  we all confront each day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Boomerang of "Nachas"

Nachas- that special feeling of pride and satisfaction you get from others.
Interestingly you can't 'give' it to yourself. "Yidishe Nachas" is that special feeling that mothers and grandmothers would/do feel when the 'kinder' the children, or the 'anechkla' (grandchildren) do something that we value. And that is the point of the story. We show pride in certain actions, words, achievements, accomplishments, and sensitivities in our kids and that's one of the ways they learn what it is that we value.
I would do anything if only I could see again the smile of my own mother a"h. Her smile meant everything to me and I learned all those behaviors, words and kindnesses that I could do that would make her smile.

Nachas 2.o - this is what I call the next stage of nachas. When after years of 'input' -living a life of smiles and encouragement, directions and support it comes back to you. The first level is the direct sense of pride when the next generation is learning and the nachas you get is direct from their actions. The second stage is when they call to tell you what they know will give you nachas!
Case in point: After a recent plane ride with his young sons, my son called me with a "nachas report"
" Mommy,You are gonna love this"- he said knowingly, "When Yosef looked out the window of the plane he saw the incredible sunset, and he said 'Wow, I got to paint that!" as he tore open his backpack of art supplies."
"Yidishe Nachas" not only comes at the Seder. It is based on sharing our passions, our values, our appreciation every day of the year. My kids know how I love the mountains and the sunsets, the birds and the flowers and basically all of the natural world. It is sursprising that I still have full use of my arms from all the times I spent pointing enthusiastically and screaming "Look at the sunset, Look at the mountains"- But my kids learned, and have called me from wherever they are when they see a spectacular sunset.
2.0 nachas- seeing that we can transmit the values we live - by age 6 a child can respond to the natural world, spiritually with Brachot (blessings) and with a desire to engage with the world, and make it a part of himself by translating it into his art!
Trust me - for an artist, and a bubbie like me, this is real nachas!
So, nu?
What brings you nachas?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Don’t be a chicken!

But be sure to come meet ours in March!
Don’t miss out on an inspirational Shabbaton filled with learning, celebration, and groundbreaking Jewish thought.
Join an intergenerational, pluralistic community of Jewish farmers, rabbis, educators, scholars and consumers from across the country. Register now before it is too late!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beit Midrash at Kayam Farm

While the words "Beit Midrash" and 'farm' don't frequently occur in the same sentence, they have become a combination over the past three years at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reistertown, MD.
The first time we attended the Kayam Farm Beit Midrash, I told my husband it would be a glatt -kosher experience, a Shabbos of learning, in a beautiful setting with more than adequate accomodations. Afterall, farming is not camping, and you do need a good night's sleep. I did not tell him in advance what the median age might be.
Let's just say that we helped to make it a truly intergenerational experience. We were so impressed with this younger generation and their enthusiasm not only for sustainable agriculture, but for really wanting to look into classical Jewish texts, and to see what Judaism has to say and teach us about our relationship to the land- the land of Israel, as well as the land we live on. and for many, work on.
This is a serious enterprise of combining Torah with cutting edge- sustainable, organic agricultural concepts. I was so impressed by the commitment to learn, live, eat, and pray in new and in traditional ways. This is an opportunity to see how some people who may never have opened a Jewish text have now found a reason and a way to delve into the learning.
Come see for yourself, spend a Shabbat on the farm- check out what is already growing in the green house, taste the homemade cheese and find a study partner who may be double, or half your age.
Take a Risk.
To be a 'green bubbie' you don't need your own children, you can nourish local sprouts! There is a wonderful crop of new sprouts out there and they are growing up Jewish, and healthy!
Come for Shabbos!
contact me for details on registering

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hands across a Century

A spontaneous act: a 17 month old reaches his little hand onto the lap of a 1oo year old woman and pulls on her fingers to wish her a Good Shabbos. And then, satisfied with the enthusiastic response he goes from person to person, across the women's section, at the end of the Shabbos service at the Assisted Living Center.
I watched with tears in my eyes as these elderly ladies, many dressed beautifully in their Shabbos finery, caught this little tiny hand as they greeted him with smiles, "Good Shabbos, Good Shabbos." While he doesn't speak yet, he certainly communicates, and has internalized the social interactions of eye contact, handshaking, the importance of touching and interpersonal connection. That these gestures were familiar was confirmed by his 4 year old brother, proudly remarking that 'this is the first time he has gone around to wish everybody a Good Shabbos!" Both little boys know that this is what is done at the end of the Shabbos davening; this is how we grow together, and become a community.

In the Men's section, the little toddler walked between the wheel chairs, waiting patiently until each man returned his handshake. Even though he uses just a few fingers, and alternates hands, the littlest member of this 'congregation/community' is a participant, a member of the tribe!
While I stood in the background, I knew I was the acknowledged (relatively young) grandmother- I have not felt this 'young'-- and I mean, really felt 'young' as I did while watching these beautiful elderly ladies in their 80's, 90's and 100's I found myself looking up to them as role models to me- yes I hope I look that good! I hope I have such a sense of style. I hope I can still daven and read or remember the prayers. And yet, when one of the women told me she has 25 great-grand children, I cringed when she told me she hardly sees any of them. I asked her to 'keep an eye on mine.' I hope I will always feel like I see my kids very frequently.

I don't live near my own grand children, although we are within driving distance- while I do see them often, and talk to them almost daily, I am grateful that they can be a source of nachas and joy to the many 'bubbies' and zaydes' they meet where they live.

It's a sort of "reverse green bubbie" phenomenon- reaching out wherever you are. Connecting across the generations is good for all of us at every age. It's life well lived, appreciated for what we have in common. Our humanity. Our capacity to reach out and connect, hands across the generations is a good prescription for a healthy heart.

So whether you are about to embark on a Thanksgiving celebration, and/or you are thinking about your Shabbos table- expand your age span - and love the ones you're with!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Many of us are familiar with the Pray, Eat, Pray, pattern of Jewish practice. Well, in this Harvest Season- which is also the spiritual season of birth and renewal- a New Year brings us many opportunities for reflection, renewal and redemption. Today is Hoshana Rabbah, bringing us to the end of Sukkos, and time to put away our Lulav and Estrog- Let's take action and put into practice our words to connect mind, body and spirit, to live in a way that our life is our thoughts, deeds and actions. We jsut read in Koheles, that there is a time to plant and a time to sow- well if you want a harvest for next Sukkos, get ready to plant now!
It is a time to begin the cycle of a new year- not only in our minds and hearts, but in the very real gardens and grounds that we live on.
So here it is - a call to action: GROW YOUR OWN (Aravos- willows.)
Keep your Aravos in water and they will sprout roots. Plant the rooted willows into the ground, some sun, shade is good.
Become part of the pray, plant and grow cycle yourself.
The 'aravos' willows will grow here in the Northest, and almost anywhere- we live in the Philadelphia area and the Aravos I planted almost 20 years ago are now big bushes, whose branches are shared each year with many friends and neighbors and visiting family. In years past we have backed up several institutions even Penn Hillel! Our Aravos harvest seems to grow as it is used, the more you cut, the more it grows!
Each year my husband (the green zayda) cuts back the growth on Tammuz 17- (which as you may recall, is a Fast day) Once again breaking with the "pray eat pray" syndrome, it proves that even on days when you are fasting and don't eat, well, you can still foster new growth in the garden, as you cut, pray, cut!
If you are reading this after Sukkos, and or you don't have any Aravos this year to root- stop by some time and we will share our Aravos with you. The good thing about Aravos, just like 'bubbies' if they are 'green' they are still alive, ready and willing to grow.