Posts Tagged ‘ Religion ’

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Be Blessed

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Like many Jewish families, we usher in Shabbat, the Sabbath, by lighting candles, saying the blessings over the wine and challah bread, and blessing our children. Or at least we try to. Our older one has tried various forms of resistance over the past few months and seems to see her weekly blessing as some sort of, well, curse–or, at least, a babyish practice that she should have grown out of.

The blessing itself takes all of 10 seconds. My wife and I place our hands on each child’s head one at a time and recite in Hebrew the traditional blessing for girls: “May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah”–the Jewish matriarchs–followed by three short verses from the Bible. (Numbers 6:24-26, in case you were curious.) To me, it is a beautiful and moving custom, one that is deeply meaningful and makes me feel a special connection to my children every week.

Adira, who’s 5, begs to differ. A few months ago, she started running away from us when it came time for her blessing. We’d follow her into her playroom or elsewhere in the house, hands reaching out to bless her as quickly as we could, often on the move while we did so. We didn’t want to push her too hard and turn what’s usually a beautiful moment into a weekly power struggle. (Lord knows we have enough of those already.) We later started insisting she be at the dinner table for these few moments, but as a concession in the lengthy negotiations that followed, agreed to bless her without touching our hands to her head.

I can live with that.

Recently, however, she’s been asking when she will be old enough not to be blessed, throwing out suggested ages when she feels this weekly torture should surely be past her. I proudly and emphatically tell her that at no point in her life will I stop blessing her. I usually launch into an explanation of the blessing and why it’s so meaningful, but by then she’s running off to play, after a quick pause to help us bless her younger sister.

We recently did agree that if she becomes taller than me–and it’s a toss-up at this point whether my very-short daughter will catch up to my very-short self–I will agree to let her forgo this bit of tradition, if she still wants to at that point. I’m betting that by then she’ll have come around and enjoy her weekly moment, or will have forgotten this agreement altogether. If not, somehow I think I will renege on this promise and find a way to keep offering her her blessing.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

MRI Brain Changes Seen in Early Infants with Autism
Autism may be detectable in infants as young as 6 months old, according to a study released Friday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggesting the condition has a stronger genetic and biological root.

One in 10 U.S. Kids Have Alcoholic Parent: Study
More than one in 10 U.S. children live with an alcoholic parent and are at increased risk of developing a host of health problems of their own, according to a new government study released on Thursday.

Abuse Cases Put Los Angeles Schools Under Fire
The spate of accusations has put an intense spotlight on the way the Los Angeles Unified School District monitors its employees and responds to reports of abuse.

School Votes Not to Appeal Prayer Banner Case
A Rhode Island public school committee on Thursday voted not to appeal a federal court decision ordering the removal of a prayer banner displayed in a high school.

Strict Rules about Drinking May Prevent Alcohol Disorders in Teens
A study from the Netherlands found that a laid back attitude from parents can lead to drinking issues in their teens, whereas strict parental rules about drinking can curb adolescent impulses to drink.

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Parents Daily News Roundup

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Goody Blog Daily News Roundup

A Touch During Recess, and Reaction Is Swift
The incident of the 6-year-old boy suspended from elementary school for a case of “sexual assault” is not isolated, experts say.

Student Faces Town’s Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer
A girl’s successful lawsuit to have a prayer removed from her high school has roiled the heavily Roman Catholic city of Cranston, where residents are appealing the decision.

Utah Teens Arrested in Alleged School Bomb Plot
A Utah high school student bragged to police that he was smarter than the Columbine killers and was plotting with an older student to set off a bomb during a school assembly and escape in a stolen plane, court documents say.

Healthier School Lunches Draw Controversy
Has the federal government turned into a helicopter parent, constantly hovering, protecting us from everything that might be bad? That’s what critics are saying, as new federal standards for school lunches go into effect.

Depression Could Be Linked to Your Mother, Says Study
Research funded by Hope has for the first time been able to use brain imaging to link the lack of maternal attachment to depression, a disorder that strikes more than 1 in 20 Americans over the age of 12.

‘Toddlers’ Mom Sues Media for Sexualizing Daughter
Barrett claims that after a video of her little girl singing LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It” at a night spot surfaced, several media outlets tried to turn the non-sexual performance into something inappropriate, and she’s suing mad.

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Christmas vs. Hanukkah, Round 1

Monday, October 25th, 2010

HanukkahThanks to the PBS show Caillou, my daughter, who is almost 4, knows all about Christmas–about Santa, Christmas trees, presents, and caroling.  Thanks to my wife and me and some quick counter programming on our part, Adira also knows all about Hanukkah, about the candles and presents and foods. She also knows that we don’t celebrate Christmas but her babysitter does, and that Santa is pretend, for everyone and not just us.

And so it begins. Thanks a lot, Caillou. I was entirely unprepared for a DVD from the library called “Winter Wonders” featuring an otherwise bland, bald kid (whose name is not Charlie Brown) to bring Christmas into our home. In  October, no less. But that’s parenting. We don’t get to choose the timing.

I am not squeamish about differences and diversity.  I’m the observant Jew who studied religious pluralism at a divinity school, and who’s written about everything from Hare Krishnas to Mormons to evangelicals.  The last thing I want is to bring my daughter up in a world where she thinks everyone behaves and believes as we do, or looks down on those who don’t. Well… maybe that’s the second-to-last thing I want–the very last being bringing her up in a world where she doesn’t understand, appreciate, and love our own tradition and heritage, and in which she is jealous or angry that we don’t do as others do. (more…)

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Spankin’ New Headlines

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

News Image NEW The strange forces behind your baby name decisions. Wired

Is it legal for parents to turn to religion rather than medicine for their sick kids? Mother Jones

Taking folic acid for a year before pregnancy can greatly reduce your risk of premature delivery, finds a new study. Los Angeles Times

Chicago takes a stance on BPA, becoming the first city to ban the questionable plastic in baby bottles. Chicago Tribune

Four in ten babies are born to single moms, finds new research from the National Center for Health Statistics. Washington Post

Original photo via

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Epiphany: The End of the Christmas Season

Monday, January 7th, 2008


O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

-"We Three Kings of Orient Are"

Some think that Christmas ends once the ball drops in Times Square, but the season of Christmas as celebrated by most of the Church ended yesterday, at the feast of the Epiphany. The holiday commemorates the Magi visiting the Holy Family, bringing forth gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (The Wii, regrettably, didn’t make the final cut in their gift selections. Not that you’d want to play video games in a stable anyway.)

The unofficial penitential season of "Removing Everything Christmasesque From The House" follows shortly after Epiphany. Unless, of course, you want to keep it up year-round.

Although the season of Christmastide has ended among Western Christians, many Orthodox Christians are celebrating Christmas today. (And if you are, Happy Christmas!) The reason? Some Orthodox jurisdictions maintain the feast days of the Church according to the Julian Calendar, which is approximately 10 days behind the "new" Gregorian Calendar. Others follow what’s called the Revised-Julian Calendar, which I’ll allow Wikipedia to explain.

So, even if you’re not an Orthodox Christian and you’re looking for an excuse to keep your Christmas stuff up longer, there you go. It’ll be my excuse.

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Spankin’ New Headlines

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

News_image_newThe teenage birthrate has ticked upward for the first time since 1991. CNN

And the childhood cancer rate has gone down by 20% since 1990. Yahoo!

The Christmas/Haunkkah battle in interfaith marriages. New York Times

When amusement parks aren’t amusing—but deadly. Washington Post

Scary fact: Most parents are only preparing to pay for ¼ of their children’s college tuitions.

Original photo via

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Happy Saint Nicholas’ Day!

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

"O blessed St Nik’las we hail you today
The patron of many, you show us
the way
To be good and generous, to help those in need
To be kind to
others in both word and deed"

Yes Virginia, there is a Saint Nicholas, and today is his feast day. Nicholas, was born during the third century, made a bishop in the Church while still a young man, and revered by both the Eastern and Western Church for the example of his generous and godly life. He died this day in 343.

St. Nick is widely revered as a patron of children, and the stories of his life testify for his love for children and all those who are in need. And he provides a needed example to stand athwart the mindless crazy shopping mess Christmastide has become. I wish he’d go and smack the person who decided Christmas starts in October, much like he did to Arius during the Council of Nicaea.

The Saint Nicholas Centre is an exhaustive and ecumenical resource for All Things St. Nick. And, of course, there’s always Wikipedia, Deo Gratias.

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Tags: , | Categories: Holidays