Category Archives: Think

Antisemitism has no place in the fight for justice

If you are not yet aware, I am Jewish, and like many in my community, I am hurt by the antisemitism that permeates social media.

Antisemitism always hurts, but for me, I am especially disheartened when those sentiments are shared by other minorities. Lately, anti-Jewish rhetoric has been shared by a few prominent Black people, as means to explain the cause of Black oppression.

Namely, a few Black celebrities and leaders, have stated that “White” Jews are trying to destroy America, and take over the world.

Before going deeper, I want to state that this type of language suggesting a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world is absolutely a White Supremacist ideology. They absolutely love when non-Jewish Blacks and White (Or White-Passing) Jews go after one another, because they are the ones who win when we destroy one another. 

I also want to stress that while language or imagery depicting White people in general as oppressive to Blacks is understandable, and yes, many Jews identify as and benefit from Whiteness, singling Jews, another historically oppressed minority, out as the lone cause of Black mistreatment in America is not O.K.

Not too long ago, Jews were excluded from much of “White” society in America. Though not to the horrific extent of Black Americans, Jews were often banned from many places in America. College quotas, for example, were established to limit the number of Jews in attendance, giving rise to “Jewish” colleges, such as Brandeis University. Jews often had to hide their identities to gain access to certain areas, but also for their own safety. The ability to blend in with White Christians remains both a survival technique and a benefit for light-skinned Jews.

My own parents gave me and my siblings more “Anglican” legal names, even though we also have Hebrew names. I was told several times having a more “American” name on a resume would help me fare better on my job search.

Of course things have changed, and light-skinned Jews have in many ways reaped the benefits of White Supremacy. At the same time, White Supremacists actively promote the idea that Jewish people are doing evil things, and subvert the purity of Whiteness.

This idea of a Jewish plan for world domination is so old, it’s tired. Google the “Elders of Zion” to see how this all got started. While you are at it, Google the history of Jewish occupations and how they were banned from many jobs, except for ones related to banking, and see how antisemitic ideas related to Jews and money developed over time.

And, then there’s the issue of Israel and how antisemitism seems to be OK because the Israeli government often does some questionable things.

But, I am not here to get into a debate about Israel.

Because making Jews (Ashkenazi Jews especially), worried about the fragility of Israel is another tool in the White Supremacist arsenal that plays right into fears stemming from the trauma of the Holocaust, which was also perpetrated by White Supremacists. 

They love to point out how “leftist” causes, particularly Black Lives Matter, are anti-Israel and antisemitic, seeding fear and doubt in the minds of White Jews. 

And, yes, there may be some antisemitic people who are also fighting against racism. Just like there are people who are fighting antisemitism, but are still practicing anti-Black racism. 

The sad truth is that social justice often doesn’t work as harmoniously as we would hope. Racism, antisemitism and other prejudice can infiltrate those circles as much as anywhere else.

As Tisha B’Av, a Jewish day of mourning and reflection approaches, I ask all of us, but especially those of us who identify as an “outsider” in some way, to come together to denounce hatred and bigotry. 

United we can achieve great things.

Homeschooling is a privilege many families can’t afford

It is a privilege to be able to homeschool your kids.

Yes, it is also a lot of hard work and sacrifice.But, in the end, if you or another trusted adult is able to devote a significant amount of time on your child’s education, that is a privilege.

A privilege which was thrust into a big bright spot light because of a pandemic that forced our schools to close.

For the first time homeschooling wasn’t a choice, it was a mandate. And as the weeks and months went on, we heard story after story of parents struggling to manage the new normal of working, raising a family and educating their children.

Many parents just asked the bare minimum of work from their kids, others just threw in the towel, believing (hoping) they would get through this until the school year ended.

Well, now summer is here in the United States, and families have to face the reality that “school” will be much different if and when they reopen.

Is there still a place for culturally insensitive classics?

Disney Plus has been a welcomed gift during this time of social distancing, and my family has taken advantage of its extensive library. My kids have discovered some of the older, or “classic” Disney films such as “Pinnochio,” Alice In Wonderland,” and “Peter Pan,” to name a few.

While I adore “Alice In Wonderland,” I never felt the same love for “Pinnochio” or “Peter Pan.” “Pinnochio was always just to creepy for me (yes, creepier than Alice, because Alice is awesome weird, not like weird weird), and Disney’s version of “Peter Pan,” for me never held up to the televised live stage version featuring Mary Martin.

Yet, there I was the other day, sitting with my two boys viewing the animated tale of the boy who never grows up.

For the few of you who aren’t familiar, like all versions of the classic story, Peter Pan creeps up on the home of the Darling family, and persuades children Wendy, Michael and John to fly away with him across the Londo sky to a place called, “Neverland.”

Neverland is a fantastical world filled with all sorts of characters from mischievous mermaids to nasty pirates, and of course the Lost Boys. Among the characters the Darling children encounter in Neverland are the “Indians.” 

Caricatured as indigenous people of the Americas often were at the time (and often still are), the Indians in the Peter Pan story are depicted as unintelligent, cruel and savage. 

My oldest son noticed the “Indians” in the film had red skin, and exaggerated facial features.

He was also quick to point out how the Indian princess Tiger Lily, who is seen as one of the “good” Indians and an object of affection of Peter and the Lost Boys, had lighter skin.

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In that moment, I had some choices to make:

  1. Ignore my son’s comments and keep watching the movie.

  2. Fast forward past those “uncomfortable” parts.

  3. Use this time as an opportunity to teach about the inhumane treatment and depiction of indigenous peoples.

I chose to teach. 
Continue reading

How To Talk To Your White, Jewish Kids About Racism

Social media has seen an uptick in thoughtful and passionate pleas from white Americans to their white friends and family to reflect on their own racial biases, confront racial injustice and stand by black Americans who continue to fight for equitable treatment in the United States.

And, while the authors don’t always explicitly invoke Jesus and his teachings — though many do — from the language and tone, you can understand they are coming at this from the perspective of white Christians, a group which enjoys a high level of privilege in America.

As a Jewish person, I have often felt conflicting emotions while reading some of these writings, especially those claiming “we” (meaning white people) could never understand what it feels like to be oppressed and targeted for who you are. Continue reading

10 mom rules for tweens on social media

By Meredith Bleakley

My 9-year-old just got into a relationship.  I knew it was inevitable but I secretly hoped she would wait a little bit longer to step into this new phase of life.  However, she came to me and pleaded her case that she was grown up enough to get into this relationship so I’m going to allow it.  My gut tells me this relationship is going to be pretty serious and chances are despite how I feel about it – it’s probably going to last her lifetime.  She is officially in a relationship with social media.  *sigh*

It’s very basic and elementary for the moment.  She’s on Instagram and despite not being 13, I have allowed her to have a Pinterest account.  (Why does Pinterest want you to be 13 to have an account? At least Pinterest has value, she made me Christmas projects & she has found plenty of good useful information on that site.  I digress.) Continue reading

New moms share truths about caring for babies in the age of COVID-19

Being a new mom at any time is filled with uncertainties, but bringing a new baby into a world in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic comes with a whole new set of challenges unlike many of us seasoned parents have ever faced.

In a time when they need plenty of in-person support and comfort, these new families are in the difficult position of having to navigate the world of new parenthood with often their only assistance coming in the form of FaceTime or Zoom.

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Even doctor’s appointments, a crucial part to maternal health, are being conducted virtually.

On my Facebook page, I put a call out to new parents, and asked them to share their stories in the hopes that their words would reach other new parents and inspire older ones, like myself.

I was amazed by the response, and how willing these women were to share their fears, their joys and their hopes with the Maybe I’ll Shower Today community.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am pleased to share their incredible stories of #parentingthroughquarantine.

Continue reading

“Will G-d punish me?” Understanding childhood fear in the age of COVID-19

“Will G-d punish me?” My son asked after admitting he had lied to me earlier that day.

The question caught me off guard, because, while my son does have a strong moral compass and feels ashamed when he makes a mistake, never before had he pondered G-d’s involvement in his own life.

I am all for intense philosophical and theological debates on the existence of a higher power, and what, if any, role said power plays in the shaping of human existence.

However, when these questions come from your own child, no amount of scholarly texts or Biblical excerpts will ease their fears.

Before I could approach my son’s question, I needed to take account of our current reality and it’s impact on my children and indeed all children around the world.

We are in the midst of what maybe the most frightening experience thus far for many of our children. Certainly, this is the case for mine.

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And, even if we as adults do our best to keep COVID-19=related news to ourselves, our childre are smart. They can sense our fear and worry. They see us donning masks to run errands. They conduct their studies via video meetings. They wave to their friends from across the street.

They know life is far from normal.

Take ten minutes to peruse online parenting groups, and you fill find countless cries for help, frustrated commenters and moms and dads at their wits end over their kids’ behavior. Continue reading

Donating meals to essential workers and more ways to help right now

News and personal accounts of the devastating impact on the new Coronavirus on the United States has left many of us feeling powerless and overwhelmed.

If you aren’t a health care worker or other essential employee, you may be wondering how you can help.

First, take a moment to be grateful to be at a place where you can think that way. Many people are in pure survival mode and don’t have the financial, mental or emotional means to help others or even themselves. The fact that you are willing and able to think about aiding others is a huge privilege.

So you want to do something, but what? The numbers are overwhelming, you may not always know what to believe, or where the help is truly needed.

I have felt this way myself. I was saddened by the impact of this virus, and was searching for some way to make a difference. 

Luckily, I was able to find answers within myself, through the magic of positive social media and via my own family, including someone who is an expert in philanthropy.

But, even with all this knowledge, where do you start? Continue reading

It’s OK to grieve the loss of the Passover you wanted

When the new Coronavirus virus arrived in full force in my home state of New York, I was worried, but hopeful. I thought if enough people limited social interaction, practiced safe hygiene and sought medical care, if needed, the virus would be controlled enough to allow us to gather for the Passover holiday.

Even as the number of infected persons ticked up, and the seemingly neverending month of March was finally in its last days, I still held out hope. Continue reading

Coronavirus and Passover: Tips for keeping everyone safe and healthy

Passover is one of my favorite times of year because I get to gather with my family to participate in a seder lead by my father. I enjoy the communal spirit in partaking in rituals observed by our ancestors and passing on these traditions to my children.

Given the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States and health organizations advising everyone to take extra precautions to avoid getting sick or passing on germs to others, you may be anxious about how you will spend your Passover.

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Maybe you had a big trip planned to Israel and now have to observe the holiday at home. Maybe you’re living in a containment zone and can no longer host the big seder you planned. Or, maybe, you are just anxious and can’t prepare for the holiday the way you normally would.

Whatever the reason, even during this time, we can still find ways to have a meaningful Passover, while still keeping our families and loved ones safe.

Keep reading for my tips, and feel free to share yours in the comments. Continue reading