Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Peach Dresses on a Beach in Hawaii

When you put eight 18-year-old girls from different places (geographically, emotionally, religiously) in the same apartment in a foreign country 6,000 miles away from home, where they are going to live and grow and change and think and debate, strange things happen.

At 4 a.m. even stranger things happen.

At 4 a.m. one night in seminary we sat in our dira planning a friend's wedding. The friend was not even engaged then, not even dating then, but just for fun we planned her wedding. (I'm guessing guys in yeshiva don't do this.)

Her wedding color was going to be peach, and since it's too hard to find shoes that match peach dresses, the wedding was going to be on a beach. In Hawaii. We planned the menu too and probably a whole bunch of other details that escape my memory right now.

But she was going to have a peach wedding on a beach in Hawaii just as soon as she found her Prince Charming.

Well, she found her Prince Charming, and last night they got engaged. She's probably not going to have peach dresses at her wedding, and I'm pretty sure the big day is not going to be in Hawaii, but she's happy, and it will be beautiful, and that's all that matters.

Mazel tov!

Happy Birthday to Me

Twenty-one years old and never been kissed by... well, anyone.

(I'm a good Michlala girl, what did you expect?)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Law Professors, Donkeys, and an Excellent Headline

Best headline I've seen in a while: "If the Law Is an Ass, the Law Professor Is a Donkey"

The article ain't that great and doesn't say that much that you probably don't already know, but some anonymous little headline writer somewhere deserves a prize for this headline.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Bubbe Meise in the Times - Literally

This is an article by Ben Stein about what he wished someone had taught him before college, specifically about investing.

I'm not crazy about the article and not all of it rings true for me (I have been blessed with excellent roommates), but i loved all the gratuitous Columbia mentions - of Hamilton Hall and Contemporary Cvilizations.

And it also marks the first time I've ever seen the phrase "bubbe meises" in the Times.

Hate Mail for Maureen Dowd From a Liberal

I don't like Dubya.

I'm a Democrat who values intelligence and I just don't like him (though I do love making fun of him), but even I think I'd be ready to condone Dubya declaring war on Maureen Dowd if she prints one more column about the president's vacation, his biking, his iTunes, his pretzel incident... Enough already!

Those of us who don't like Bush, don't like him, those who do, do. We all know he may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but he also won two U.S. presidential elections.

Virtually every college student in this great country has a summer vacation and an iPod and I don't see Dowd deriding that great mass of people which is the future of America (or so they keep telling us at Columbia).

So, yes, you can make a stab at the ridiculously long vacation, you can even make fun of his country music heavy iTunes playlist, but then take a deep breath and say something substantive. Or get off the opinion pages of that veritable newspaper you work for.

(And everyone take note, this is probably the first and perhaps the last time I will almost support a Republican for anything on this blog or in life.)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Happy Birthday Rufus!

Today is my brother Rufus' birthday. Yes, I have a sibling with a dog's name. Well, kinda...

Rufus' real name is Rafael. My parents like the name Rafael, hence they bestowed it on their son. My father, though, does not like the nicknameRafi. He just doesn't like it.

So, when some of my other siblings started calling Rafael Rafi, my father was not happy. And he told them, "Rafi isn't his name. If you call him Rafi, you might as well call him ... Rufus."

So we do.

Happy birthday Rufus!

I Buy My Clothing at Semicolon

The Gap family has a new store "aimed at that unwieldy and indefinable category known as grown-ups."

They have four lines in the store - vocabulary, analogy (so, I'm thinking that's pretty cool they gave all their lines literary names, that's awesome! I hafta go there just for that even though I am not an unwieldy and indefinable grown up who can never find clothing in the mall - tznius clothing, now that's a different story - but, and here comes the disappointment...) Gap Edition, and Prize.

I mean how disappointing and uncreative is the line "Gap Edition?" Well, gee, I couldn't have come up with that myself. I want metaphor, thesaurus, punctuation, comma, semicolon!! Couldn't they have been a lil more creative and come up with something fun, original, and literary?

I'm telling you, I wanna be able to say, "I buy my clothing at Semicolon."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Tznius Public Service Announcement

Super exciting news for frum girls everywhere:

The Gap has excellent high-necked tank tops at two for $20 (and if you try on a pair of jeans, you get a free iTunes song), and Old Navy has excellent long sleeved crew necks which are also high enough to cover all requirements at two for $18 or $20, depending on the shirt. What more could a girl want?

(I know I have a bunch of comments to answer on this blog and I will get to them, but it's been a busy day - of shopping.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Seminary Should Be About God, not Gemara

I had a long talk with my sister about seminaries recently. Now, I don't think she should go to Michlala (where I went) but I also don't think she should just go anywhere.

She, like me, is very focused on the academic and I think that's great, but I don't think that learning gemara or tanach or mishna is what you go to Israel to learn.

You go to Israel to figure out where you stand religiously, to figure out how you want to live the rest of your life, to find role models and people to talk to. I'm not saying the actual class time isn't important, I'm just saying that it's not really what you take with you from that year.

I used to think that Israel wasn't about growing, that only wussies "grew" and that I was gonna stay exactly the same after 10 months in the Holy Land being inspired by some of the most amazing people I ever met, but I was wrong.

And now my sister feels the same way I felt then and I just don't want to see her choose a school for herself that won't allow her to grow the way I was privileged to.

I've seen so many people come back from seminary cynical and even hateful toward religion, and I don't want that to be my sister. I want my sister to be able so see the beauty in Judaism, not just the beauty in a page of gemara.

Now, you'll say, well, really you can change and grow wherever you are if you so desire, and that's true, however I think your seminary choice can make a huge difference, and I don't want to see my sister come home with an intimate knowledge of Aramaic but no intimate knowledge of God.

Monday, August 22, 2005

In God - not Darwin - We Trust

There's a whole series in THE newspaper on evolution and religion and intelligent design etc. Specifically, this article covers the issue of whether the theory of intelligent design can be considered scientific.

It's a good article and a relevant series, but I don't think the two have to collide. I don't think intelligent design has to be taught in public schools and I don't think we have to scientifically explain what our Torah tells us happened. I'm not saying Torah and science can't work together, I'm merely saying that they don't have to fit together.

The point is that faith requires, well, a leap of faith. It's not supposed to be so blindingly clear that it's emet that you have no choice but to believe. That is not what our world is all about and that is not where our challenges lie.

The point of faith, the test of faith, is whether we can believe even in the face of science that says otherwise solely because we put our faith in Hashem over Darwin.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hatred on Both Sides of the [Anti-Terror Security] Fence

In this beautifully written piece (sorry, I'm an editor, the fact that it's well-written gets me excited) by Elie Wiesel, the author makes a point that not too many people have been willing to make and that the international media has certainly not made a big deal about.

He makes note of the fact that the Palestinians are rejoicing as the rest of the world watches the tragic scenes of people leaving their homes. And that is not the way it should be. "I know only that in my opinion, what is missing from the chapter now closing is a collective gesture that ought to be made, but that hasn't been made, by the Palestinians."

Would that we were all as optimistic about the chances for peace as Wiesel himself is. "Gaza, after all, is but one chapter in a book that must ultimately be about peace."

I don't think the Palestinians have an obligation to weep along with us, but as long as there is hate on both sides of the [anti-terror security] fence, there cannot be any sort of solution.

Mouth Watering, but a Little Disturbing

Those of you who know me (or who read this blog frequently enough) know I like coffee. A lot.

In fact, I've been addicted to the stuff for three years or so, on and off, and with the upcoming start of the school year, coffee is on my "must-buy" list. And I can talk about coffee as passionately as the next person. (FYI, Starbucks is cheaper in DC than in NYC, which was super-exciting!)

However, this is a little bit much even for me. People, it's a drink, not a hobby, a career, or even a blog topic!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Music for the Jewish Heretic

"The history of Jewish assimilation in America produced a wide variety of musical hybrids across ethnic and racial lines, bridging the religious and the secular."

This article talks about a recording studio that basically caters to the assimilated Jew, the self-proclaimed heretic. "It is heretics who most interest the founders of Reboot Stereophonic. That and interlopers, cultural brokers."

I mean, I guess that's what sells, so why shouldn't they try to cultivate those tastes? Except there is something deeply disturbing about a music company that is actually seeking the music of those who have given up their religion or those who are questioning it.

Hey, I'm certainly not the hugest fan of Jewish music (which I think I once referred to as sweaty-guy-Mashich-music or something like that) and I certainly understand why a regular recording studio wouldn't want to sell that, but why as a society do Americans feel the need to celebrate the anti-religious?

Why are Americans as a group so much more interested in the heretic than the pious?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Passion and the Workforce

I've been interning at a local newspaper - yes, this is my second internship in one summer, let's just say someone really wants to get into law school - and it's interesting to see how a local weekly functions in comparison with my college daily.

There are many, many differences, but mostly, the college students I work with are more passionate about journalism, more exacting about ethics (which is not to say the weekly is unethical), and more meticulous about copy.

Which is strange I think because the people who work on my college daily are not necessarily people who have chosen journalism as a career path, they are people who are exploring journalism as an extra-curricular activity. But then again, because it's not a job, because they don't get paid, because they are responsible only to themselves, maybe it's easier to love and easier to be dedicated to.

For college students working on a school paper, journalism is an obsession, a desire, not a career. We should all be so lucky to always have jobs that we love and are committed to, that we enjoy and view as productive.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Impossible Is Nothing

"Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

I stole this image from Michael. At first I thought it was really funny and then I became kinda annoyed at it - annoyed because there is this prevailing attitude that we can't change anything and that really annoys me because we can't change anything unless we try and no one will try if they believe they cannot succeed.

What do you think drives change? Committed people, that is what drives change, so get up and do something. Don't just sit there lamenting the fact that nothing will ever change, because if you do, nothing will ever change.

"Do you hear the people sing?
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Why I Did Not Go to the Rally Today

I was in THE City today and my mom called me to tell me that there was going to be an anti-Disengagement rally in front of the U.N.

Now besides for the fact that I had other things to do and at that moment was on a bus (part of NY's excellent public transportation system) headed away from where the protest was going to be held, I really don't think it's the place of American Jewry to protest Israel's actions to either the American government or to the United Nations.

I am anti-Disengagement, but when it comes down to it, Israel has it hard enough without being sanctioned any more by the U.N. and without losing support from its closest ally. The bottomline is, Israel is a democracy and the Isreali government made a choice I don't like, but if I want a say in Isreal's actions, I should go move to Israel and become a citizen.

And until then, I will wear my orange bracelet (next to a blue "Support Israel" one) and quietly protest an action which I think is terrible (and no matter what side of the fence you're on, you have to admit that those pictures of Disengagment are terrible and that moving Jews out of their homes is terrible). But that's it.

I refuse to proclaim loudly to the world that I think Israel is wrong. Because even though I think Isreal is doing something wrong, I love Israel with all my heart and soul, and I think she can use all the support she can muster.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Welcome to Jewville

Where your dentist has sefarim in his waiting room and your dental hygienist is your neighbor.

Disengagment = the Death of Zionism

I saw an article (guess where) recently about how the Disengagment is proof of Zionism's failure, because the vast majority of worldwide Jewry did not up and move to Israel and fill the land and build up the settlements, and therefore the settlememnts can be evacuated.

"Ideologically, we are disappointed. A pure Zionist must be disappointed because Zionism meant the Jews of the world would take their baggage and move to Israel. Most did not."

AndI do firmly believe that very many of the people who are gung ho on working for Israel and going to rallies and donating milllions of dollars, do it at least partially out of guilt becuase they know they should be in Israel but are not there. Now this is not to say that I don't think that they should be lauded for what they do, many of these people do great work, but that does not change the fact that they are fighting for a land they choose not to live in.

That said, I am still very much in America right now. And I'm not exactly sure I agree with the article's proposition that the Disengagment plan indicates the failure of the settlements which indicates the failure of Zionism, but I think there is some truth to the claim.

There is something wrong with Zionism if people the world over are willing to call themselves Zionists but not move to Israel. I'm not saying there are never any good excuses, but I doubt that every Jew in the Diaspora who calls himself a Zionist has a valid excuse not to be in Zion. And maybe that is the utter failure of Zionism.

Watching and Weeping

"On all those, on all those
Please watch over for me, my good G-d
On the honey and on the sting
On the bitter and the sweet.
Don't uproot what was planted,
Don't forget the hope
Bring me back, and I will return
To the good land"

I don't have anything intelligent to say about the Disengagement right now, just that it's a sad sight no matter who you support and no matter what your personal opinions on Disengagement are. The pictures and the images and the articles about Jews being forced to leave their homes are sad and depressing and poignant.

May Hashem have mercy on us all and return us to Eretz Yisrael and bring Mashiach soon. Amen.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Finding the Festivity in the Fast

"What's the point in all this screaming?
No one's listening anyway"

I read a really interesting interpretation at the bottom of Eichah in the Artscroll Stone Chumash tonight when I was waiting for my shul to figure out which lights to turn out before reading the megillah.

It said that there are elements of festivity and joy in Tisha B'av because the day shows that God is not indifferent to the Jewish people. Hashem may be angry at us, he may have punished us and exiled us and put us as a people through untold suffering, but all that is proof that He cares.

The parent who does not love his child does not take the time to discipline him, the person who does not value friendship does not get angry at her friend. You scream because you want someone to listen and it is incredibly infuriating and hurtful when no one pays attention to your calls for help.

God's involvement with us, even His punishment of us, while painful, shows that He is intimately involved with us, that He cares about us and wants us to do the correct thing. And that is the joy in Tisha B'av; it is a comforting joy, an acknowledgement that Hashem is truly there and that He is watching over us, waiting for us to succeed. Someone is listening.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Life Isn't Supposed to Be a Crystal Stair

"Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on"

Somebody not frum recently asked me a question that went something like, "how do you wear long sleeves in the summer? I mean, isn't it hard?"

And the answer is yes, it is hard, but I don't know why we expect everything in life to be so easy. When it's hot out and you're sweating and everyone around you is wearing about a quarter of the clothing you're wearing, it's not so fun, but so what? Since when does everything have to be easy to be any good? Since when does something have to be warm and fuzzy to be spirtually uplifting? And since when does God only give us easy things to do?

Life isn't supposed to be a crystal stair and it's the challenge, the hard work we put in, the tacks and the splinters in the floor that make life meaningful in the end.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Strange City Built of Stone and Water

On my last day in DC I went to the FDR memorial (by far my favorite) and the Jefferson memorial (which I don't think I'd ever been to before), and it occured to me that DC is a very strange city. The entire city is filled with stone and water monuments to so many people, and it's kinda taken for granted that that's just what you do when you want to honor someone - you build a big stone statue with some waterfalls to commemorate them.

But why do we do that? Why is that taken for granted? Why is that the best way to honor people? Besides for the great waste that is involved in these things, I really just think it's an odd way to memorialize people's great contributions to our society.

I'm a Big Girl Now

"You're such a little girl to be carrying such a big bag."

That's what a lady said to me while waiting for the bus after I was so proud that I managed to pack in just a duffel (a very big duffel) and a knapsack. But I'm a big girl, really.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

NY vs. DC: The Final Battle

In honor of my last full day in DC before going back to NY, a comparison of the two cities:

NY is dirty.
DC is clean.

NY is diverse.
DC is full of the same type of poeple doing the same type of thing in the same dark suits.

NY has a public transportation system that goes everywhere.
DC has a clean public transportation system that doesn't go too far.

NY lets you eat on the subway.
DC can arrest you for eating on the metro.

NY is hot and humid in the summer.
DC is like a swamp in the summer.

NY museums charge entrance fees.
DC museuems are free.

NY has excellent art and science museums.
DC has excellent history museums.

NY has lots of kosher food, lots of shuls, and lots of Jews.
DC has very, very limited kosher food, one shul, and not so many Jews.

NY has Times Square, Broadway, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Empire State Building.
DC has the White House, Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, and the Supreme Court.

NY has Columbia.
DC does not.

And so, I am on my way back to NY and Columbia (in three weeks) and all that is both good and bad about that wonderful city I call home.

Let the Birthday Countdown Begin!

It is officially 21 days till my 21st birthday. Happy almost-birthday to me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo

I don't have a room in my house. Somebody I told this to recently was dismayed, after all I technically live at home, don't I? Well, kinda. I'm pretty sure that I haven't been home for much more than about three weeks straight since last summer. I live in my dorm during the school year, I live in DC for the summer. I'm in a really strange position where my family is concerned; I am not a child anymore and I don't really live at home, but I am not an adult yet and home is still my parent's house. I am not completely independent yet, but at the same time I am not completely dependent anymore, and I don't like being dependent.

Funny thing is that this whole phase of life is a somewhat recent phenomenon. Historically, people moved from their parent's home to their own home when they got married, and that was it. One day they were completely dependent on their parents and the next day they had a wedding ring and independence. But now we have this very strange middle ground.

I do sort of like being independent and completely without commitments of any kind, and in that sense, I like where I'm at, but sometimes it's kinda confusing to figure out where that is. Sometimes I feel like I'm smack in the middle of a transition, and that's a pretty rough place to be.

Monday, August 08, 2005

I've Found a Solution to the Homelessness Crisis

I love DC, really I do. And I especially love the Supreme Court, which I visited today, however, I tell ya, if Americans got off their high horse and cared just a lil less about how our capital looked and a lil more about the people starving on the street, we might all be better off for it. I'm telling you, the new solution to our homelessness crisis is to sell off all the marble in DC. If we did that, we could feed all the homeless in America for years. And they say you need to be an expert with a Ph.D. to try to solve economic problems like world hunger...

I Believe You Don't Know What You've Got Until You Say Goodbye

"Someday, when we both reminisce we'll both say, 'There wasn't too much we missed,' and through the tears we'll smile when we recall we had it all for just a moment."

I just said goodbye to some friends who I was so lucky to be able to spend time with this summer,but, as the summer comes to an end, who I have to leave. I have to go, I cannot stay on as an intern in DC forever, I will have to go back to school, to real life or some semblance thereof (though many would argue that college is hardly real life). And I will talk to them on the phone and learn with them and laugh with them, and they will still be there when I need them, and I will still be there for them, but they will be far away from me in miles and that makes me very, very sad.

I love NY and I love Columbia, but there is something so sad about leaving people who you care so much about, about being so close to them and then so far away, about having to say goodbye to friends. I will miss them more than they could ever know. I miss them already.

"Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends."

Friday, August 05, 2005

It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To

Did you ever wonder what would happen if after you were totally packed and exhausted and ready to go with way more luggage than you planned on having, you went to zip your bag - your favorite bag, your bag that had the bulk of your clothing in it - and the zipper broke?

Well, suffice it to say I figured out the answer. You cry, and then you cry some more, and then you dump everything out and start all over agian and shlep tons of stuff in tons of bags, but you survive.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Why Did the Kosher Chicken Cross the Road?

So I could eat it! (See question four.) Yet another interview. This one comes from an anonymous commenter and asks me about everything form the Supreme Court to the Gaza Disengagement. (And all in five questions!)

1. Is your long term goal to be in Israel and have a family or to be in America as a Supreme Court Justice?
Good question. You know when you're lying in bed at night almost asleep and you have this fantasy world where things are so cool but so unrealistic? In that world, I want to be a Supreme Court justice, because with my interest in law, I think it would be a really cool thing to do. However, it is unrealistic on many, many counts, and it's not a goal I plan on working toward because it's not a goal that I will ever realize. But in real life - the life you confront after you get up out of your bed in the morning - in real life, I want to have a family and live in Israel and be a successful professional, only second to being a successful mother.

2. Being cynical doesn't have to connote being negative--it can mean being skeptical. And you should be skeptical of Bernard Goldberg! What do you really feel cynical about your life and the world around you?
Being skeptical is very different than being cynical. (And though being skeptical can be a good thing, I do believe you can be skeptical to a fault.) But when I said I'm cynical, I did not mean skeptical; I meant that I often focus on the bad in a situation as opposed to on the good in a situation and that makes me upset, and that is not a good thing. I think I tend to feel cynical when I'm in a situation that I don't deem ideal to begin with, but then I make it out to be even worse than it is by only focusing on the negative, and that is detrimental to my happiness and my positive outlook and is therefore bad.

3. How do you feel about the Gaza disengagement?
I am anti-Disengagement. I don't think that moving settlers out of the land the government told them to move to is fair. I think it's a horrible and traumatic thing. I think it's fairly ridiculous to give back land that we won in a defensive war.

But even more than all that, I don't think it's going to accomplish anything. We have no promise of peace from the Palestinians and it's pure folly to assume that if we do something nice, they will reciprocate - they never have before even when we had actual agreements, why should they now?

Not to mention the fact that just shoving land at them isn't going to help the Palestinians. The Palestinians are a poor and oppressed people who have been taken advantage of by their leadership time and time again. They deserve our sympathy, but giving them the land without the resources to make something out of it, without an economic system that can allow for development is asking for them to fail.

The fact that these lands are security threats makes the most sense to me as a reason to disengage, however, the entire Israel is one gigantic security threat and we shouldn't just start giving back land because it's hard to keep safe, or we'll have nothing left - I mean, have you seen a map of the countries that surround Israel?

But I also believe that as Americans we should support the Israeli government in what they do so that Israel can survive and function and prosper, even if we don't agree with them.

4. Someone says to you: "Hey eat this chicken or we'll kill another chicken!" (it's kosher)...what do you do?
I eat the chicken, duh. I'm a starving college student; I eat any kosher free food that is offered to me. (And chicken is especially appealing being that I just spent an entire summer living on wacky mac and PB&J.)

5. What is the worst you ever felt and why?
I think the worst emotion I ever have is helplessness. I am a fairly independent person who likes planning and taking care of things in advance and when something is completely out of my hands, I can't stand it. I hate seeing people I love hurt and I hate it even more because oftentimes I can't make it better, I can't fix it. I hate it when something goes wrong because I couldn't foresee it and it messes things up. I like knowing that I can fix something, that if I work hard and put in the time, it'll come out ok, but knowing that sometimes that's not the case, that no matter how much work you put in sometimes it's not gonna work out ok, that's the worst feeling ever.

Too lazy to put in the rules, you can find them below.

Lesson Learned at the White House: Buy Flat Shoes

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was going on a White House tour. She was very excited about the tour but nervous about the White House flip flop fiasco and decided that flip flops might not be the appropriate foot attire. So, as a result, said girl decided that it would be better to wear shoes on her White House tour.

But this particular girl didn't have any flats with her for the summer, and anyway all her shoes were packed except for her four-inch-pointy-heeled-stilettos and her black flip flops. So, with no other choice, that girl decided she should just wear her heels for the tour.

Except that she had to walk to the White House from her dorm and couldn't take anything with her on her tour except for her ID which meant that she couldn't do the walk-in-flip-flops-heels-in-the-bag maneuver and had to actually walk in her heels - a good 20 minute walk each way. But she was convinced that she was a strong independent woman, and she could make it.

Big mistake.

By the time she got to the White House, she was hot and tired and sweaty - and her feet were in severe pain. Then she went on a fabulous tour of the White House, but by the time it was over, she was having trouble walking in the shoes.

So, egged on by her friend, she decided that it would be better to walk home barefoot, which would have been an excellent idea except for the fact that it is very hot in Washington, DC, and the streets and sidewalk absorb the heat and are thus also very, very hot. But she decided that the heat was the lesser of two evils, and so walked home barefoot, which means that she now has burns on top of the blisters on her feet. Ouch.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

On Intense Yearning, Changes, and Single Friends

Just as I was ready to take a break from this interviewing process, STX sent me her long-awaited interview with perhaps the toughest questions I've been asked thus far. So, apparently, my interview hiatus is officially ended (or just beginning all over again).

1. What do you think you could do now that would make you into the best mother later?
I have thought about this - don't ask me why - and I think there are two things to do: one, observe families who you think do a good job raising their children, and two, figure out what you want to teach your children. Knowing who you are and what you want to imbue to your children and seeing how other people raise their children are the best things I can do in preparation for motherhood. These two things, I hope, will enable me to have methods and a clear goal when I have the privilege of raising my own children.

2. Describe a situation that you've been in where you had a tough choice to make and are proud of what you chose.
When my family was in extenuating circumstances (long, long story that reads like A Series of Unfortunate Events, but all is okay now) a year and a half ago, I gave up an excellent internship to help out at home. It was not a choice that was at all rewarding for me and the whole it left on my resume is not pretty, but it was, in fact, the right thing to do.

3. Your outlook (or hashkafa, if you'd rather) has changed in a lot of ways over the course of your life. What's one way that it's changed that you haven't blogged about yet?
It took me a really long time to think of something that I wanted to blog about but hadn't blogged about yet. I'm not sure if I've ever blogged anything like this before, but I don't think I have, and if I can't remember, then I don't know why you would.

My hashkafa has changed a lot - especially in Michlala - but my actions have not changed drastically, and I think it can all be categorized as one huge shift in outlook. I grew up frum, so Judaism to me was just a way of life; it was what I did. It was what had to fit around the rest of my life, like it or not. Now, though, Judaism has become the prism through which I view the rest of the world, through which my life has to fit. It wasn't a change in action, it was a change in belief, a change in hashkafa, that totally changed how I practice Judaism and what it means to me, and how I live my life.

It's funny how a little change in perspective can so drastically change everything. All of a sudden, Judaism became the center of my life, instead of the fence surrounding my life. Judaism became beautiful, instead of restricting. And who I am changed as a result.

4. If you could work on yourself and thereby change one thing about yourself, what would it be? (Notice the difference between this and 'if you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?' Very subtle, but very important.)
I would love to change my pessimism/cynicism. Sometimes I am very optimistic, but sometimes I tend to focus on the negative, and that is really detrimental to how I view the world and what I do. I think sometimes cynicism can be a good trait and I do not think that it would do me any good to be a happy, go-lucky type of person always, but I think often I am too cynical. And I think I would be a better person if that weren't the case, and I focused on the good more often.

5. What single thing makes you happiest?
My friends (some of whom are single :).

6. Avraham was chessed, Yitzchok was din, Yaakov was emes. What do you think is the middah that YOU have the greatest potential to bring out in the world?
The desire for knowledge and truth. I'm not sure that qualifies as a middah, and I can't think of a Hebrew word for it, but that is the one thing I feel strongest about. I have an intense desire to learn and find truth. So, maybe my middah would be yearning. If that makes any sense...

Now the rules again:
1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me please."
2)I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as above)
3)You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5) When others comment asking to be interviewed you will ask them five questions.

I Planned, and God Is Laughing Now

"There was a time when ...
... the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong"

You know how it feels when everything is going right in your life and all is good and the world is beautiful and happy and exciting? And you know how it feels when that all comes crashing down because of something that had nothing to do with you and you were stupid enough to think you could make it work but you can't and now all your plans are shot?

Ok, so that was a little melodramatic, but it's really frustrating when you have it all planned out and then an unrelated problem (well, actually, she is related to me) comes and messes it up. Really, really frustrating.

But then again, I am a very organized person - the kind of person who planned her shabboses months in advance when she was in Israel - and maybe I sometimes need a reminder that "man plans and God laughs." Well, I consider myself reminded.


Eli7: So, I think I really need a rabbi to ask questions to, etc.
Person I Respect: Any chance you can get married soon and get one that way?
Eli7: Ummm...

Ok, that conversation took place a year and a half ago, and I still don't have a rabbi (I'm also not married, but that's a seperate discussion...). Last night, I had a minor halachic problem which would have been far easier to solve if I had a rabbi. And that's just one minor recent occurence that has made it clear to me that I really do need to have someone I go to to pasken halacha.

Though a co-worker did let me know that there exists a Rent a Rabbi service. But somehow, I'm not exactly sure that that's what I'm looking for...

Monday, August 01, 2005

I'll Let the Men Conquer the World, Thank You

"Why don't women run the world?
Maybe it's because they don't want to."

In a few of my interviews below, I was asked a similar question: will I give up on my lofty career goals and be a stay-at-home mom when I have kids? And the truth is, it's not such a strange question in a world where it's becoming increasingly clear that you cannot have it all.

Can you have a fulfilling career and kids? Absolutely. Can you have a very high-profile running- the-world type job and actually spend enough time with your kids? No, you can't. You cannot be on a partner track at a law firm working 100 hour weeks and expect your kids to understand why you're never home. And they should never have to understand.

I believe that a mother can only go so far in her chosen career before she has to choose between her job and her kids. Am I wrong? Maybe. I hope so, but I truly don't think so. Most of the powerful women you can think of are single and certainly don't have children. (Think Condoleeza Rice, arguably the most powerful woman in the world.) And it is a choice - perhaps not a conscious choice, but a choice all the same.

I do have lofty career goals, and I do not foresee myself ever staying home with my children. But as a frum Jew, family is important to me. Really important to me. And it is far more important to me to have children and raise them properly - by spending time with them and imbuing them with valuable values - than it is for me to rise to the top of the legal world. It is unfortunate that I cannot do both. But I truly believe you cannot do both.

And quite frankly, I don't want my career to define me. I want to do something valuable, I want to get a good education and then get a job that leaves me fulfilled both financially and emotionally. But the bottom line is that I want to define myself by my family, not by what I do between the hours of 9 and 5 each day. Because the family is what I think is important and if that means I can't conquer the world, well then, I really don't want to conquer the world, do I?

So, you ask, why do I have to be the one to sacrifice my career goals for my children and why not my husband-to-be? Well, doesn't it make sense for the woman who carried the baby for nine months, who underwent morning sickness and weight gain and labor to feel more emotionally attached to her baby? To want to stay home with that baby or give more time and effort to that baby?

Even more than that, I view it as a privilege not a curse to be given that opportunity. How many men are given the option of taking it easy at work, of not being as competitive or high profile, of working part time or not at all so that they can spend time with their children? And in the end, isn't it far more preferable to have spent the time with your children than to have spent the time in your drab cubicle at midnight. Wouldn't you rather put your baby to sleep than stare at a computer screen?

And yes, sometimes I sigh to think that I won't ever try to make partner in a law firm, I won't ever be president. And maybe I am a feminist's nightmare because I will have the education and the ability to rise, and I may very well choose not to rise as high as I could for the sake of my family.

At the end of the day, I'll leave conquering the world up to the men, not because I have to, but because I want to.

Barnard, Columbia, Stern, and Me

Stupid Ignorant Person: I'm leaving, bye everyone. You go to Stern, I'm sure I'll see you around.
Me: Umm, I don't go to Stern.
SIP: Oops, where do you go to school?
Me: Columbia.
SIP: Oh, you go to Barnard?
Me: No, I go to Columbia.
SIP: Isn't it the same thing?
Me: NO!

Ok, people, at the risk of upsetting all the frum girls that go to Barnard and Stern (which is a considerable number of people to upset with one post), I am going to rant for just one second.

I go to Columbia. Yes, I am a good frum Michlala girl. Yes, I wear long sleeves and long skirts even in the summer. Yes, I believe in the supremacy of the Torah and the utter desolation of Western values. No, that does not mean I go to Stern.

Stern is a great place. Some of my best friends and closest relatives went to Stern. I know highly intelligent people who go to Stern. I visit Stern often, and I think it's a great place. But it is not, I repeat, not where I go to school. Do you have to go to Stern if you're a good frum girl? If I wear skirts and keep shabbos does that automatically mean I go to Stern? Is that the only bastion of flocking frum girls in skirts in the entire world?

And, no, I do not go to Barnard. Barnard is not the same thing as Columbia. Barnard is an excellent institution of higher education. I know many highly intelligent people who go to Barnard as well, (though I'm generally still partial to razing the entire campus and putting our football stadium there). But Barnard is not Columbia. I did not work my butt off in high school to go to school across the street from the Ivy League institution with the 10% acceptance rate, thank you very much. I have earned the right to be just a little bit snobby about this.

So, a word of advice: next time a frum girl tells you she goes to Columbia, do not ask her if she means Barnard, it might not go over so well.