Duly Noted

As a kid, even a teenager, I would often find little semi-legible notes folded into my crumpled brown paper bags at school. The lunch itself was another story, apples wrapped in tin foil (don’t ask), peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat smooshed bread in tin foil, and sliced celery (or some other utterly untradeable snack) in tin foil. But a note with a smiley face, a good luck wish for a test, or a “have a great day” greeting always added a personal touch to the aluminum clad fare. One classmate was so enamored by both the notes and the foil that he took to writing a mini responsa with my mother via brown paper lunch bags.

The notes, it seems, are something of a family tradition. My grandparents were prolific note writers to their children, grandchildren, one another and even the store owners, mailmen and dog sitters of the neighborhood. These short notes were one of the ways they made their appreciation and love known to those around them. Recently while cleaning out my basement, I unearthed a batch of such pencil scrawled sentiments including this one written shortly after I announced my engagement:

“Let’s be fair about it. You are the exception. As a general proposition, Gramps believes in the theorem he has preached for many years. Only parents and grandparents should be allowed to select the spouse for the child. Your choice, we concede, is a good one. It does happen, but rarely, that the child selects exactly the right partner… does that invalidate the theorem? Maybe not! Our selection for you would have been exactly the same if you had asked. We are mightily proud of both of you and we love you very much.”

And this note written from my grandfather to my grandmother and sent via paper airplane from one desk to another (they sat at desks facing one another for more than 4 decades at their co-owned PR firm):

“Management: It is harassment for you to serve only the skim milk to go with coffee. It is also un-American. .. If God had intended that we drink skim milk with coffee she would have built the cow’s udder with different spigots” – Yes, he wrote “she.”

Shortly after my grandfather passed away several years ago, the family discovered numerous marriage proposals, all written in his swirly script – all to my grandmother. One dated 1995, when they had been married for X years reads as follows:

“Would you honor me by accepting this proposal of marriage? Just think… we could have a couple of children, four grandchildren, and then some great grandchildren. All we have to do is love each other and take care of our health and we can live to be 120.”

My husband and I have some history of note writing as well. When work/sleep schedules don’t coincide or most notably when we have taken turns feeding babies in the middle of the night we have communicated not via SMS or text but good old handwritten notes. Our oldest was an infant when the world turned upside down on September 11th, 2001. Interspersed between burp and poop chronicles were words of reassurance, news updates and sleep-deprived sentiments I will always cherish.

Before going away on a business trip, I often leave the kids a silly poem on the mirror above the bathroom sink. Not long ago I stuck such a note in my little guy’s lunch bag on a random day. No business trip, no particular reason. I don’t even remember what it said but the smile on his face when he told me he found it prompted several repeat performances on my part.

And then one day there it was. I went to brush my teeth before bed and staring me in the mirror was not my reflection but a yellow sticky note:

“I love you Momey” with a lopsided smiley face.
The note and rest of the reflection went blurry as tears welled.

The seven year old was fast asleep by the time I found it – so I had to impatiently reserve my gratitude for the next morning. What I saw on his face elated me. His joy at having surprised me exceeded my joy at having been surprised by him.

In the weeks that followed, I found notes and drawings on my desk, tucked into my drawers, I wishes on my pillow and “You are the best parents” letters in the kitchen. Life is so very, very hectic that sometimes I fear entire weeks pass without proper expressions of love or appreciation within our brood. Sure if you look carefully, you can read love between the lines of “make your bed”, “brush your teeth”, “please finish your homework” and “put away your toys.” But a few unexpected words on a sticky note and suddenly I’m seeing dirty socks and scattered Legos through rose colored glasses I quite enjoy.

Tomorrow morning the family will attend the seven year old’s school play. Well past midnight I find myself creeping down the stairs to stick a note of celebration in his school folder.

Sure, I should be sleeping. But my 1st graders recent series of sleuth scrawls on sticky notes reminded me just how great it feels to note and be noted.

This is an original post for JerseyMomsBlog by ItsMeMommy, a New Jersey mom

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The Jets- a Family Affair

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What Forgiveness Looks Like

The Jewish Star

Issue of September 17, 2010/ 9 Tishrei 5771

http://www.thejewishstar.com/stories/In-my-view-What-forgivenesslookslike,2010?content_source=&category_id=&search_filter=welfeld&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=&sub_type=&town_id=

By the time I was 16 he had given me life, stolen my identity and moved to an island in the West Indies. Yet there he was, reaching for apples in the orchard and passing them to my children. Several hours later, my three-year-old, who does not recall ever having seen this man before, asks me why I call him “Dad.” I have to turn away and take a deep breath before returning to the mixing bowl she and I are using to make apple pie. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin explains in a videocast on JInsider.com that Jewish texts offer three attitudes towards forgiveness. In most cases, forgiveness is obligatory, in some it is optional and in rare cases, it is forbidden. The fact that forgiveness can be forbidden appears to be unique to Judaism. Rabbi Telushkin says that forgiveness is obligatory in the vast majority of instances, especially in cases when forgiveness is requested and the harm inflicted is reparable. He explains that forgiveness is forbidden in cases where irrevocable harm has been caused to others, citing Timothy McVeigh, the unremorseful Oklahoma City bomber as well as the terrorists of 9/11, as individuals we should not forgive. But what is optional forgiveness? I am struck by the power this seems to place in the hands of the victim. As Rabbi Telushkin explains, granting forgiveness is optional on two grounds. The first is when the inflictor does not apologize or ask to be forgiven. (This underscores our responsibility as adults to properly inform those who have wronged us, since one cannot request forgiveness without knowing they caused harm.) The second is when the damage caused is irrevocable, such as in the case of a slandered name. Lashon Hara, we know all too well from history, daily life and even US Weekly, can cause damage impossible to repair. According to Rabbi Aryeh Gotlieb, Rabbi Emeritus of the Jewish Community Center in Paramus, known in our home as Saba Saba — he is the father of my stepfather — it is the victim that determines the permanence of the damage. Again, the power is placed in the hands of the victim. It seems almost an unfair burden to place on someone who is suffering.

Yet, experts agree, holding a grudge does more harm than good in the vast majority of instances. In Hilkhot Teshuva 2:10, Rambam writes that even if one has been maltreated severely, he should not bear a grudge. “This is the way of the seed of Israel and their proper hearts,” Rambam explains.

Even Dr. Drew, a modern-day, pop culture version of Freud, tweeted the following in August of last year: “Forgiveness is when u think of those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well — one of the first experiences of a genuine recovery.”

We filled three huge bags with apples at the orchard. My father is staying for dinner. I am not exactly enjoying this. It’s like wearing clothing two sizes too small. But the children are comfortable and laughing. My father is smiling; using the few Hebrew words he knows because that is what he does around us. I am confused about how to explain this relation, conflicted about the smile I freeze on my face, worried I am taxing my husband who has been helping keep the house super neat because he understands that when this tidal wave rolls in, clean living room floors help.

“Because he’s my Daddy,” I reply to my three-year-old. She giggles like it’s the silliest thing I could have said. I anticipate questions about the grandfathers she knows and loves.

“No,” she says emphatically and points to my husband who is everything I could have wished for in a father for my children. “That’s Daddy!”

“Sure is,” I say. And we go back to blending the apples, flour and brown sugar.

My thoughts wander. I try to remember whether my father has ever requested forgiveness. I certainly do not feel irrevocably damaged; in fact, at the moment, I feel quite grateful. The timing of this visit isn’t lost on me: Rosh Hashanah is literally around the corner. I am not a big believer in coincidence.

Earlier in the day at the orchard, my father took a bite of one of the apples as we walked between rows of trees. “Sour,” he said. “Sour and ripe?” I asked, trying to remember which breeds the farmer had said would not ripen for weeks. “Sour and sweet,” he replied.

I repeated it out loud as a question: “Sour and sweet?” I tried to imagine the taste without taking a bite of his apple.

My father caught up to the kids who had run ahead to another tree. I pulled out the camera to capture the moment.

Optional forgiveness, I thought. Maybe that was what it looks like.

Wishing The Jewish Star writers, readers and their families a Gmar Chatima Tova.

Ilya Welfeld stops to cherish the chaos, writing for The Jewish Star about balancing work, life and faith. Email her at ilyawelfeld@gmail.com.

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A Good Sport for All Seasons

Published by The Jewish Star

http://www.thejewishstar.com/stories/A-good-sport-for-all-seasons,2150?page=1&content_source=

I looked forward to the championship game for weeks. I was an athlete growing up and I still enjoy physical activity, but much to my husband’s dismay, I have never appreciated the role of spectator in sport.

Admittedly, I would really like to like to watch. I imagine it would be great to share a pastime so enjoyable for my husband and now my boys, but even after a bar mitzvah’s worth of years in marriage, I’ve yet to come around.

So defensively, I wax philosophical, trying to explain my lack of interest, my inability to find a good sport to enjoy watching. How can you root for what is essentially a uniform and rotating people in a stadium?  I “get” watching a game in the last quarter, the bottom of a ninth inning, but to my own frustration, find it near impossible to care from start to finish or season to season.

But to every rule there is an exception. And as it turns out, I am an avid, devoted and entirely attentive hockey fan. My adrenaline races like I am on the court myself.  Heart pounding, I find myself reaching for water to quench parched lips, feel myself sinking to the bleachers in disappointment at a missed opportunity and I cheer too loudly, hooting and roaring with every goal in my team’s favor.

My passion is not for Rangers or Devils, but rather for a locally sponsored field hockey team. Set in the dank, smelly gym of an all-boys yeshiva high school, this is hockey played with an orange ball, not a puck, smacked around by little boys wearing tzitzit under their dress-length jerseys. This junior league floor hockey is played in three periods by the fourth and fifth graders in town.

This year, my fourth grader played a respectable defense all season and the family eagerly anticipated the championship game. Though not a rough and tumble type of boy, our eldest is a natural athlete and we wondered whether hockey would suit him at the start of the season. He quickly became a valuable member of the defensive line.

For the championship, his team would play the undefeated contenders. We knew there would be breathless moments, sweaty helmets, the newly beloved kosher Gatorade and a trophy at the end of the day. But would there be cheer or disappointment?

His siblings and two sets of grandparents joined us for the game. I adore that my son has this enthusiastic crowd of fans cheering for him. And despite our cheers, we found ourselves down 5 to 1 as the final buzzer rang in the overcrowded gym. I worried how my son and his team would take such a loss after having been on a winning team all season. The first place trophies gleamed in their boxes on the sidelines, towering over the second place trophies.

The game had been rough. Players growled and stomped their feet in disappointment. One of the more talented players struggled to keep his temper in check. He banged his stick and gnashed his teeth and shed tears of exhaustion and exertion as the game ended.  Some parents gathered to complain about a bad call while grandparents high in the bleachers whispered about a reported thirteen-year-old on the winning team.

Both teams were called to the floor for trophies. Our son walked away with one of the 2010 second-place champion trophies as did every member of his team. If he was disappointed not to have received an MVP or notable player trophy, he did not let on.

Back at home, he showered off the sweat and the game, and sat down to watch the Jets play. As the announcers droned on, I zoned out of the game and in on my guy, at ease, relaxing, hockey behind him.

He had not uttered a single complaint. No bitter regret. He did not shed one tear. He had played well. It was his personal best game and he knew it. He was proud and smiled gently when my husband praised him. Our nine-year-old was proud to have played on a championship team and was now happy to be home with his family, watching another team play another game far off in TV land.

I marveled that he had managed such a passion during the game yet left it on the field. Before getting into bed, he carefully set his trophy atop his dresser and opened a book to read.

Earlier in the week we had asked if he wanted to play next season and he nodded. I eagerly await those games, a new team, a new oversized jersey, new competition and the confidence that I see comes from playing and practicing, from rescuing a ball from behind a net and belonging to a team.

True to his nature on and off the court, my little hockey player speaks softly and carries a big stick — wielding the power that comes with reserve, control and a gentle and kind nature.

And I am psyched to have discovered a good sport that my husband and I can enjoy watching together, season after season.

Ilya Welfeld, stops to cherish the chaos, writing about balancing work, life and religion for The Jewish Star. Email her at ilyawelfeld@gmail.com.

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Swimming Lessons

Red hair sucks!” 

That’s what one little boy said to another in camp this summer.   

“Everyone thinks so. Doesn’t red hair suck?” he asked the bystanders (by-swimmers to be exact – they were in the pool). The other little boys nodded in hesitant agreement.

That’s the story my six-year-old (“Six” for the purpose of this post) told me when I asked the lame yet obligatory “How was camp?” at the end of the day.  He repeated the story almost as a question.  Six was equal measures stunned, stung and surprised.  He was, of course, the redhead in question.

Six has always held his red-head high.  And why shouldn’t he? Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all of the other entirely objective adults in his life have celebrated the beauty of his bright locks.  As a toddler, Six was quick to correct people who noted his hair was red, because it is, in fact, quite orange with highlights that always fascinate me.  Under the sun, it soaks in light, reflects the colors around it. Inevitably as I walk behind him it makes me smile and I have this sensation that I can only compare to wanting to dive in, swim or nestle inside. It’s probably the feeling that makes grandparents say “I could eat you up.”

And perhaps it was this play of light that drew the boy’s attention to Six’s hair that day.  It seems a counselor intervened quickly and cut the conversation short, but I was troubled not only by the language used and the fact that someone had hurt my son’s feelings but because it was yet another affirmation for him that not everyone sees the world the way his parents do. 

Dorkily, the first thing that came out of my mouth was “What? Doesn’t he know that the King David was a redhead?”   

Six gave me a face that said ‘what does that have to do with the price of tea in china?’

Husband, out of character but true to male stereotype stepped in with “Doesn’t he know your Daddy has red hair and is 6 foot 2 inches and if…”

I glared at Husband, smiled at Six, and gathered some Mommy composure.

“How did it make you feel when he said that?” I asked.

“Not good,” said Six.

Ugh, my stomach knotted, so sad looking at his crestfallen face.  

As I tucked him into the cocoon of his lower bunk bed that night, I reassured him we would speak with the camp director. Repeated my fall back excuse for other children’s poor behavior (He must still be learning what is polite and impolite. I am sorry he hurt your feelings) and even did an internal happy dance that somehow in the bustle of the every day I had managed to get an answer to the ever asked, rarely responded to “How was your day?”

But what bandaid would repair the blow to my little’ guy’s ego?  I knew it would probably not be the only time one of my children would be called out for looking, acting, speaking, or playing differently. 

By sunrise, Six was basically over it.  But in the car ride to camp we talked about differences and just how difficult it can be to stand up for someone who is being made fun of, and how wonderful to be proud of those things that make us individuals.  We explored the incredible ways those in our immediate family differ and I tried to sooth my sympathy by using  the experience as a lesson in empathy.  The rear view mirror revealed eyes saying, “We get it Mom, we get it.”

I know this all sounds very Little House on the Prairie or 7th Heaven (WB show before it was attacked by Vampires) but I can’t help being annoyingly Aesop-like in looking for lessons.  My kids know this.  More than once this summer the oldest said to me “Mom, this isn’t school you know, it’s called vacation.”

Fast forward to the last week of summer when we were in a pool while on vacation down South.  A father was playing Marco Polo with his children in the same part of the pool.  One child, probably 9 or 10 years old, had facial characteristics that were unusual, features a bit off center, movements slightly uncommon.  I noticed. I thought perhaps my children did not.  They didn’t seem to be paying much attention to anything around them.  So I was a little surprised when we left the pool and Six looked up at me and said quietly “That boy’s eyes look weird.” 

“Not weird, just different. That is part of what makes him unique- kinda like your orange hair right?”  I thanked him for waiting until we were away from the child and was truly proud of him for not making this boy feel at all uncomfortable like he had been made for feel just weeks earlier. 

No time for further discussion. Six was barely paying attention to me at that point anyway, running to catch up with his brother. It was vacation after all.

I settled into a more vacation-like thought myself.  Looking back at the family still in the pool, I knew with certainty that that father of the boy with the different eyes was getting as much joy out of seeing his face dripping with Marco Polo water as I was from watching my little red-head run ahead… his hair a bit lighter from the sun, his skin a bit thicker from the lessons of the summer.

This is an original post by Itsmemommy for JerseyMomsBlog. 

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Swimming Lessons

Read Swimming Lessons and great posts from other NJ writers here at Jerseymomsblog.com Posted on September 14, 2010 

   “Red hair sucks!” 

That’s what one little boy said to another in camp this summer.   

“Everyone thinks so. Doesn’t red hair suck?” he asked the bystanders (by-swimmers to be exact – they were in the pool). The other little boys nodded in hesitant agreement.

That’s the story my six-year-old (“Six” for the purpose of this post) told me when I asked the lame yet obligatory “How was camp?” at the end of the day.  He repeated the story almost as a question.  Six was equal measures stunned, stung and surprised.  He was, of course, the redhead in question.

Six has always held his red-head high.  And why shouldn’t he? Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all of the other entirely objective adults in his life have celebrated the beauty of his bright locks.  As a toddler, Six was quick to correct people who noted his hair was red, because it is, in fact, quite orange with highlights that always fascinate me.  Under the sun, it soaks in light, reflects the colors around it. Inevitably as I walk behind him it makes me smile and I have this sensation that I can only compare to wanting to dive in, swim or nestle inside. It’s probably the feeling that makes grandparents say “I could eat you up.”

And perhaps it was this play of light that drew the boy’s attention to Six’s hair that day.  It seems a counselor intervened quickly and cut the conversation short, but I was troubled not only by the language used and the fact that someone had hurt my son’s feelings but because it was yet another affirmation for him that not everyone sees the world the way his parents do. 

Dorkily, the first thing that came out of my mouth was “What? Doesn’t he know that the King David was a redhead?”   

Six gave me a face that said ‘what does that have to do with the price of tea in china?’

Husband, out of character but true to male stereotype stepped in with “Doesn’t he know your Daddy has red hair and is 6 foot 2 inches and if…”

I glared at Husband, smiled at Six, and gathered some Mommy composure.

“How did it make you feel when he said that?” I asked.

“Not good,” said Six.

Ugh, my stomach knotted, so sad looking at his crestfallen face.  

As I tucked him into the cocoon of his lower bunk bed that night, I reassured him we would speak with the camp director. Repeated my fall back excuse for other children’s poor behavior (He must still be learning what is polite and impolite. I am sorry he hurt your feelings) and even did an internal happy dance that somehow in the bustle of the every day I had managed to get an answer to the ever asked, rarely responded to “How was your day?”

But what bandaid would repair the blow to my little’ guy’s ego?  I knew it would probably not be the only time one of my children would be called out for looking, acting, speaking, or playing differently. 

By sunrise, Six was basically over it.  But in the car ride to camp we talked about differences and just how difficult it can be to stand up for someone who is being made fun of, and how wonderful to be proud of those things that make us individuals.  We explored the incredible ways those in our immediate family differ and I tried to sooth my sympathy by using  the experience as a lesson in empathy.  The rear view mirror revealed eyes saying, “We get it Mom, we get it.”

I know this all sounds very Little House on the Prairie or 7th Heaven (WB show before it was attacked by Vampires) but I can’t help being annoyingly Aesop-like in looking for lessons.  My kids know this.  More than once this summer the oldest said to me “Mom, this isn’t school you know, it’s called vacation.”

Fast forward to the last week of summer when we were in a pool while on vacation down South.  A father was playing Marco Polo with his children in the same part of the pool.  One child, probably 9 or 10 years old, had facial characteristics that were unusual, features a bit off center, movements slightly uncommon.  I noticed. I thought perhaps my children did not.  They didn’t seem to be paying much attention to anything around them.  So I was a little surprised when we left the pool and Six looked up at me and said quietly “That boy’s eyes look weird.” 

“Not weird, just different. That is part of what makes him unique- kinda like your orange hair right?”  I thanked him for waiting until we were away from the child and was truly proud of him for not making this boy feel at all uncomfortable like he had been made for feel just weeks earlier. 

No time for further discussion. Six was barely paying attention to me at that point anyway, running to catch up with his brother. It was vacation after all.

I settled into a more vacation-like thought myself.  Looking back at the family still in the pool, I knew with certainty that that father of the boy with the different eyes was getting as much joy out of seeing his face dripping with Marco Polo water as I was from watching my little red-head run ahead… his hair a bit lighter from the sun, his skin a bit thicker from the lessons of the summer.

This is an original post by Itsmemommy for JerseyMomsBlog. 

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What if G-d laughs when we get to heaven

The Jewish Star
Issue of August 20, 2010/ 10 Elul 5770

I am fasting. It is Tisha b’Av. And I believe this was a mistake. Not the fact that I am fasting today, specifically, but the fact that so many of us do, so many times each year. A misinterpretation perhaps, more than a mistake. An exaggeration. From the bottom of my heart, I harbor doubt that we Jews were supposed to fast this often, for this long. I think, perhaps, some well-meaning people of religious power took the gift of Yom Kippur and decided more is more, or less is more depending on how you look at it.

Scold me, stone me, scowl at me but this is my truth.

So why am I fasting?

I have fasted every Tisha B’Av since I was 11 (minus one where I stuffed a huge piece of babka in my mouth while on a teen trip to Israel, forgive me.) I have fasted more than two decades worth of Yom Kippurs, Taanit Esthers and Shiva Asar b’Tammuzes. But habit makes not the monk.

I have friends who find this incomprehensible. How could I, someone ready to argue a reason for everything, subject myself to bodily negligence without believing it is what G-d intended for me to do? It seems to me that I fast because of a Rashi and a ride.

I have a horrible memory and recall surprisingly little of what I learned throughout school (a fact that brings great pain with the arrival of each tuition bill.) Yet, a Rashi in Devarim 17:11 made its home somewhere in my cerebral cortex in the early 80s. The text indicates that one “should not deviate (lo tasur) to the right or to the left” from that which he is instructed by the Sanhedrim to do. Rashi cites the Sifrei who states that we must follow them even if it appears that what they tell us is right is really left and left is really right. (Of course, there are various interpretations and disagreements on this point.)

Even as a schoolgirl surrounded by the smell of pencil shavings, it struck me as accurate that while the Torah was given to us all, its interpretation is best left to the few. We are encouraged to question and to draw inspiration, but the conclusions that heed action must come from a learned, able and willing minority if we are to have order in society. And I like order. I felt that this principle must hold true even when we do not understand a rule; even … wait for it… when the rabbis are wrong.

Wrong rabbis!? Forgive me again please, but they were human, were they not?
So what if this is all nonsense? What if these “fences,” as we often refer to rabbinical prohibitions, were best left open? What if there is no reason not to top my chicken sandwich with melted cheese and wash it all down with a chocolate milkshake? Am I a hypocrite or just a culinarily deprived fool? What if G-d laughs when we arrive in heaven, each balancing bags of Ase and Lo Tase mitzvot garnered by following a bunch of rabbis to the left and then to the right until we were spinning in circles? Should order reign over reason? Tradition trump responsibility?

This brings me to the ride I mentioned. My stepfather, a teacher and dedicated chauffer for his children (and now grandchildren), shared more than traffic reports and a love of “Imus in the Morning” as he drove me to and from school every day. He imparted thoughts on life, liberty and the sorry state of writing skills among high school students. On one such ride he noted that, with regard to religious practices, he believed that if actions he took as a religious Jew caused no harm to others, and further, improved or enhanced the lives of those around him… it was all good.

So how much is gained or lost in daily life by following the directions of other human beings? I find the rabbinical laws, be they arbitrary or G-d-sent, do not negatively impact my life and for the most part are designed to positively affect the lives of those around me. In fact, I find great comfort in knowing that when faced with a proverbial crossroad, I can make a decision guided by the wisdom of others.

So the same way that I brake for a stop sign even on an empty street or wait in line for the ladies room when the men’s room is empty… I often do not really care whether every rabbinical decree is “right.”

But fasting, I do care. I hate it. I challenge the notion. It does not bring me to a higher spiritual level, nor help me ponder the pain of my ancestors. I do not feel it makes me a better person. It makes me nervous, tired, dizzy, angry and … it forces me to ponder in frustration.

Fasting conjures my doubts. It compels me to contemplate my commitment. To wonder why I follow this “rule” I am so unsure of and by association, the thousands of others provided by the same sources. And ultimately, to surrender, each time I fast, to the fact that in total, I do respect the interpretations of our Rabbeim. I appreciate the rules and restrictions and the freedom they paradoxically avail. I realize that I am a person of faith, not blind faith, but thoughtful faith. Hungry still for the something that religion provides.

And hungry for that apple on the table before me. There is more to say, but the fast is ending, and I can now think of nothing more than that apple on the table, the pizza that will follow and the ice cream that is calling me back to the distractions of every day.

Ilya Welfeld stops to cherish the chaos, writing about balancing work, life and faith for The Jewish Star. Share your thoughts with her at ilyawelfeld@gmail.com.

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