Good Mourning?

TishaBAv230x150-ENI’m a little confused. Yesterday was Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av and a day of fasting and mourning for Jews to commemorate the laundry list of tragedies that have happened on this exact day through history. Here’s an overview, stolen from one of my own posts:

“The Mishnah discusses the Five Great Calamities that happened in Jerusalem on the same day years apart, including the destruction of both temples and the Bar Kochba’s failed revolt against the Romans.

And the pattern continues:
The Jews were kicked out of England on the ninth of Av in the year 1290 CE, Spain kicked us out on the same day in 1492, Germany declared war on Russia in 1914, the Nazis began deporting Jews out of the Warsaw ghetto in 1942.

Sometimes there’s a time zone gaffe, but bad things still happen when it’s Tisha B’Av somewhere: The AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires took place on the 10th of Av in 1994.”

And there’s more: On the day after Tisha B’Av in 2005, Israel began its unilateral disengagement of the Gaza Strip settlements and the forced expulsion of the residents of Gush Katif, and the next year, the IDF fought Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon the three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av.

It’s not a fun holiday at all. Observant Jews fast, and though I grew up Reform, there were always somber, educational activities at Jewish summer camp that fed my fundamental identity that I was part of a tribe that had survived much.

So here’s why I’m famisht: Why was this day completely ignored at my kids’ Jewish summer camp at the JEA? As far as I know, there was no mention of Tisha B’av yesterday, only sugar highs from donuts and the excitement of having a sleepover in the auditorium that evening. Sure, there are plenty of non-Jewish children at this camp and no one wants to freak them out with tales of Temple burnings and ghetto murders, but really? Not even a little white-washed program squeezed in between hip-hip dance and free swim?

We want summertime to be so free and easy, full of afternoons by the pool and sticky popsicle lips. But as Jews, the more we ignore the difficult and ugly parts of our history, the more likely those parts will come back to bite us on the ass.

I don’t blame the camp, but the main reason I sent my kids there is because I figure they’ll get at least a smidgen of Jewish education by osmosis. Yes, as a Jewish parent it’s ultimately my responsibility to teach my children their heritage, but I can’t possibly shoulder the burden of history entirely.

Maybe next year El Yenta Man and I will do a puppet show by the pool and serve popsicles.

Sucky Entertainment

Twilight_cast-thumb-550x347-13786Am I the only one who finds pale, strung-out looking actors and actresses sucking each other’s blood a poor excuse for a movie/t.v. show plot? Twilight, True Blood – enough already!

Not only is it totally nauseating that young people are going around these days trying to emulate codependent blood junkies, it’s just so unimaginative – can I get a werewolf or something? Maybe some fairies? I’d watch a cyclops if it meant I didn’t have to look at Robert Pattinson’s unibrow ever again.

But even the kvetchiest Yenta’s gotta relish‘s take on the trend:

Top Ten Signs Your Jewish Bubbie & Zaydie might be Vampires

10. All 3 meals a day consist of a bright red liquid: Borscht.

9. Heavy yiddish accent, could it be Transylvanian?

8. Skin color is pale white. Heavy red lipstick/blush isn’t helping.

7. In your mind, they’ve been alive forever.

6. Kvetch when exposed to the sun.

5. A wooden cane is their worst nightmare.

4. Always serving chopped liver, taugh you to suck out marrow

3. Seem to sleep heavily all day

2. Picked out their coffin already (parents always saying they have one foot in grave)

1. Teeth come out at night

Ach – Headlines, Headaches

organ12As if the Jews haven’t had it bad enough with that f*cker Madoff stealing everyone’s tzedakeh funds, now we got Orthodox rabbis in New Jersey peddling human kidneys.

And I here I thought organs were only allowed in Reform synagogues. (Heheheheh, a little Yenta humor for ya.)

In better news, our tribe may trump the bad press of last week by gaining a heiress. But whomever’s writing the headlines at E!Online oughta get a kick in the tush for this one:

“Ivanka Trump’s Winning Marriage Formula: Lose Your Shiksa Goddessness, Gain a Fiancée”

This you call a formula? Ridiculous. Ivanka went through the kosher-ist of kosher conversions and such cheap references to her former shiskahood are straight-up tacky. Plus, she’s still pretty damn goddess-y. Bet her Shabbos kugel kicks ass.

Tznuit and the Shorty-Short Solution

short-shorts1I know I’ve expressed the sentiments of an alterkocker before, but I think you might be with me here:

Yesterday evening my daughter came out of her room in a pair of orange shorty shorts, ready to go out to dinner.

El Yenta Man looked at me. “Really? She’s going to Hirano’s dressed like a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader?”

I shrugged. I wasn’t pleased, but I know better than to start in with a 5 year-old about her fashion choices. I figure if we begin WWIII over slutty clothes now, she’ll be the 12 year-old who leaves the house wearing a button-down and jeans but has stuffed a plaid micromini and a Sharpie for blackeyeliner in her backpack to change into at the mall. (Not that I know ANYTHING about that.)

But El Yenta Man is senstive to his little girl growing up, especially if she’s going to grow up into looking like someone we don’t want our son dating, so he enforces some rules to keep her dressed her age: No cutesy high heels, no bottoms with writing on the tuchus, and absolutely no teeny shorts.

Though I don’t let my blood pressure get all spiky over them, I think these rules are reasonable, and let me state here that the orange short-shorts that she came out flouncing out in didn’t start out teeny – it’s just what happens when children grow. My plan was to let her wear the shorts to dinner (Hirano’s a nice place, but trust me, you could wear your pajamas there and the waitress would just bring your edamame with no comment) and then snatch them out of the laundry for the hand-me-down pile.

But EYT wouldn’t let it go. “Look, honey, we’re not leaving until you change your shorts.”

Foot stamping. “WHY??? I think I LOOK CUTE, DADDY!”

Daddy: “You’d be even cuter if you were dressed like you’re not ready for a pole dancing lesson.”

Mommy: “Um, what Daddy means is those shorts just aren’t appropriate.”

Daughter Diva: “They are. They ARE. THEY ARE THEY ARE THEY ARE!!!!”

Mommy: “Well, look, I’m pulling up my skirt to where those shorts come down on you. Does that look nice?”

Daughter Diva (looking closely): “No. Because your legs are squishy.”

Mommy (eyes rolling): “Thanks so much. But my point is that is just shows too much, right?”

Daughter Diva crossed her arms and glowered like a pit bull asked to give up its steak. My husband is fairly laid-back guy, but once he issues an edict, it does not get repealed, and seeing that this was one of those family stand-offs that usually end badly, I wandered into the kitchen wondering if I could throw together a meal from cereal and chicken broth.

“Just a minute,” he said, and went into the bedroom. Now, you may remember that EYT has some extremely creative ways of dealing with conflict, but nothing tops what came next:

He comes sauntering out of the bedroom wearing one of my tank tops, shoulder muscles bulging. “OK, I’m ready to go!”

Daughter Diva’s scowl melted into big giggles; I actually found it so hilarious I started braying like a donkey.

“What?!” he growled, flexing. “What’s wrong with this? I think I look nice!”

“INAPPROPRIATE,” said my son, who’s nine and was wearing a perfectly normal shorts and shirt and was not amused by any of this.

“Really? Why?” asked EYT, pointing at Daughter Diva. “It fits me fine. What’s the problem?”

Daughter Diva guffawed. “It shows too much.”

“Riiiight,” said her daddy. “Do you want me to wear this to Hirano’s?”

“NOOOOO!” she squealed.

“Great, then please go change.”

And without another word, she went into her room, put a jean skirt over the short shorts and came out and curtseyed. “Finally, I’m starving!” sighed my son.

We gathered at the front door, where I thanked my husband for handling this so well. “But you look like you belong at strip club in the Castro. Please go put your real shirt back on.”

This all has got me thinking about modesty in our girls. Observant Jewish women follow the parameters of “tznuit,” covering the arms, legs and in many cases, hair. Though I grew up in the hot Arizona sun rocking half-shirts and showing my bellybutton, I’m coming to understand the blessing of covering up one’s physical parts in order to project a deeper, inner beauty. Not that I’ll be giving up my Victoria’s Secret bikini anytime soon, but lately I find myself avoiding things my closet that show cleavage and (and the squishy parts.)

And maybe I am just a premature alterkocker, but it makes me so uncomfortable when I see teenage girls and even younger showing so much skin. “What are their mothers THINKING?” I ask myself. Obviously, it’s pretty damn difficult to tell your daughter how to dress when all of her friends are spending their allowances at Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister. I suspect my daughter was trying to emulate some of her teenage camp counselors, who are otherwise sweet and polite and responsible, but probably aren’t aware they’re influencing their charges into style choices that get hootchier with every passing season.

She’s probably going to be really pissed when she finds out the Shorty-Shorts Rule will apply until leaves for college.

More Dr. Skip and Bro da Doc

dadMy dad, Dr. Skip, has been been doing a far better job of updating his blog than I have.

Of course, if I had huge kidney tumors and witch violence to write about, I might be more garrulous.

Please, read his latest updates here – it gets a little gory, but they’re really saving lives in Tanzania.

A friend wrote to ask if they’re on a “mission,” wondering if my father and brother went to Tanzania as part of one of the many organizations in Africa that promise medical care and food relief to indigenous people – as long as they convert to a particular religious belief. My friend was concerned because good people donate tons of money to these groups that basically practice spiritual blackmail – give up your savage tribal ways and we’ll give your baby some clean water!

While this is not funny at all, the thought of my obnoxiously agnostic brother preaching some fusion of Jewish evangelism to a group of African schoolchildren made me spray sweet tea out of my nose with giggles. He thinks I’m practically a fundamentalist because I teach Sunday School!

Oh hee-ELL no, I told my pal. Dr. Skip and Bro da Doc are really there to help whomever shows up at the door, and they couldn’t care less what their patients believe as long as they’ve got something surgically fascinating for them to diagnose and possibly cut out.

I actually think it’s a organization out of United Arab Emirates who funded the trip – which just goes to show you this is a religion-free deal. Which oxymoronically, may be the key to tikkun olam.

New Discoveries…

septLoves JessicaSAVI’m totally loving this hamsa necklace by Israeli artist Seeka. Protection + sweet style = much lovelier than chicken swinging…Not that I’m superstitious, but I’ll take all the help I can get these days.

They’re carried locally (and affordably!) by Chroma Gallery on Barnard Street, and it’s always an awesome surprise to see Judaica for sale in downtown Savannah amongst the kitsch and candy.

And here’s a shout-out to my homegirl Steph for turning me on to another new favorite thing: The Red Box is a network of vending machines for DVDs – cheap, easy and always open! Hollywood Video and their “deals” can kiss my tuchus!

We rented “Defiance” outside Walgreen’s last night – the Bielski Brothers’ tale of Nazi resistance in the Belarussian forest haunted my dreams last night. Made me wonder if EYM and I should shore up our survival skills so we could move all the JEA Yentas out to the swamps of Wassaw Island if there ever came a reason…

T-Shirt of the Week: Practice, Practice, Practice

kvetchteamOy, it’s so humid I could spread the lack of breeze on a bagel … the barometric pressure is making my hip feel like it’s doing the mambo to techno … the grass in my neighbor’s yard is so high the dog got lost in it this morning … I thing the buffalo wings I ate for lunch scalded the lining off my intestines … I want to go to the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince but I’m afraid some goth kid will thrown popcorn at me if I fall asleep ….

Ahem. Yes, it’s ALWAYS kvetch season ’round here, and I’m the team captain.

Get your uniform here.


Don’t Worry, He Plays Plenty of Golf, Too

medbox_MEDSo my dad, Dr. Skip Feinstein, is back in Sumbawanga again, which may sound like a Tijuana strip joint but is actually a city in western Tanzania that deeply appreciates medical professionals who would rather spend their retirements volunteering their surgical services in Africa than hanging out drinking crap beer in bordertown strip joints.

Dr. Skip (as he likes to be called on his medical sojourns around the world, mostly because it’s fun and easy to pronounce but sometimes because it renders invisible our ethnic surname, which comes in useful in say, Pakistan) has been to Tanzania two times before. The first time, he was shocked at how little the doctors there had to work with – he sent us emails describing how he had to perform surgery under one naked light bulb – IF the power the was on. The second trip he stuffed his bags with supplies to better equip the hospital and sweet-talked the authorities into letting him bring it in, which helped tremendously when trying to remove goiters the size of sweet potatoes.

But it wasn’t until this third trip that Dr. Skip chose to release the ultimate power of his surgical arsenal, a secret weapon that can crush poverty, governmental corruption and goiters under its Adidas sneakers, a muscled column of expertise so sanitized and brilliant that even staph cowers in his path.

Yes, people. Dr. Skip brought the ass-kicking sidekick of all sidekicks to Sumbawanga this time:

My Brother The Doctor.

(Seriously, if Chuck Norris needed surgery, my brother could fix his sh*t up without leaving a scar – and then kick Chuck Norris’ old ass back to Sean Hannity’s gimp room.)

I know they’re going to do so much good there, and I’m sure Dad’s photography site will be full of amazing shots. I’m not even mad that Dad didn’t ask me to go to Africa, because I hate blood and guts and goiters and frankly, the kind of African music I’m into is from the West and Tanzania is in the East, so like, whatever. Maybe when he gets back he’ll take me and the kids to Epcot or something.

In the meantime, read Dad’s blog about Africa – you can catch up on trip #2 as well!

*oh yes, and you can buy “Med School in a Box” at PopJudaica – but I don’t think it’ll entitle you to practice anywhere, not even East Africa. Or Tijuana.

Bruno Movie Opens This Friday and You Are Not Ready

Oy gevalt, if you thought Sascha Baron Cohen’s especially disturbing brand of comedy was offensive coming from his bumbling chauvinist character Borat (remember “Throw the Jew Down the Well”?), you’d better steer clear of Bruno.

However, if the exposition of the ignorant, rascist and homophobic underbelly of world culture cracks your sh*t up, get your Fandango on!

Here’s SBC as Bruno, modeling frum fashion and confusing terrorists with a Middle Eastern snack:

Many of us Jews forgave SBC for his anti-Semitic “jokes” in Borat because he used his Jewishness to reveal others’ latent hatred (personally, I came away from watching it with a need for a glass of Immodium and an urgent need to spend some quality time on the Anti-Defamation League web site.)

He’s using similar tactics to shine a diamond spotlight on homophobia, but since he’s engaged to a lady (his marriage to supercute Confessions of A Shopaholic star Isla Fischer has been postponed because she’s hasn’t converted yet), I’ve been wondering how the gay community is reacting to the stereotype Bruno perpetuates? Apparently, not so swimmingly.

Keeping Abreast of Trends…

cleavage-caddy-mainA few questions:

If an observant woman were to tuck her lip balm or say, an extra snack or even her baby’s binkie in a boobie purse on a Saturday, does that violate the law of shomer Shabbos?

Would it be kosher if she stayed within the eruv, but the lace was showing?

If I were to make a yarmulke version of this with a bunch of little pockets on the outside and call it the “Kepa Karrier,” would you buy one?

Would any of the Yenta’s rabbinically-inclined readers (if there ever were any) care to weigh in?