A Tip on The Circumcision Ban

Listen up, it’s penis time.

You may have heard by now that the city of San Francisco has put a measure on the ballot for November 2012 to ban male circumcision. If it passes, it would become a misdemeanor to snip the tip of anyone under 18, punishable with a $1000 fine and/or up to a year in jail. The city of Santa Monica has a similar proposal on the table—part of a national initiative called the Male Genital Mutilation Bill—and allows for no religious exemptions.

Yes, for real. Specifically, the San Francisco measure notes that “no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom the operation is to be performed of any belief on the part of that or any other person that the operation is required as a matter of custom or ritual.”

Look, I get the controversy. Not everyone wants to cut their son’s teeny weenie, and not everyone should. I understand if parents with no vested heritage in the act don’t want their sons automatically clipped by a busy pediatrician to whom it’s another line to submit to the insurance company. I get the arguments against the routine of circumcising American boys “just ’cause” and fully support the questioning of the reasoning that’s made it de rigeur. Even the “a boy should look like his daddy” doesn’t truly wash. Sheesh, I birthed my male child in the San Francisco Bay Area, where more than half of boys aren’t circumcised anyway. I’ve always viewed it as a private family matter.

As a pregnant hippie-lookin’ lady, I encountered plenty of people passionate about the “Anti-Circ” movement (also known as “intactivists”). I remember one women in particular adamantly lecturing me about “mutilation” and trauma while she sprinkled wheat germ onto her salad. (This actually happened on a freaky breathwork workshop in Hawaii where El Yenta Man I went to connect more deeply with our unborn child by swimming with dolphins. Just so you know our values are about as far out on the fringe as they come.)

I listened to Wheat Germ Woman patiently, thinking that she must have had something really terrible happen to a penis she loved to be so angry. Between childhood games and HBO, I’d seen enough penises to know they all look a little crazy anyway, circumcised and not (a boy named Josh showed me his little covered wagon behind the Amelia Bedelia bookshelves in kindergarten and feigning nonchalance, I asked him how he could possibly pee that outta thing.) I rubbed my belly as she went on and on and when I finally couldn’t take anymore, I said “Hmm. Thank you for all your information but we’re Jewish. And this the end of this conversation.”

She didn’t speak to us for the rest of the breathwork workshop. Neither did anyone else, mostly because El Yenta Man couldn’t stop laughing in one of the meditations where we were supposed to tone like whales. We ditched the whole weirdo crew three days in, rented a car and drove all around the Big Island, swimming in isolated crater lakes, eating bananas straight from the trees and having the BEST time connecting with our unborn child all by ourselves. I really did appreciate where the anti-circ lady was coming from though, and if I wasn’t Jewish, her points might have stuck. However, in spite of her horrific stories, I had far more examples of healthy, happy circumcised penises. I realized no matter what, my son would be circumcised because he is a Jew, and that’s what we do.

I’ve only been to two bris in my life, both conducted by the same mohel, the person that comes to your house on your baby boy’s eighth day of life with a toolkit and prayerbook to bring this child into the Jewish faith. Mohels have been specifically trained in the surgical techniques and religious ritual, and it would be kinder, gentler world if all of them were like Chanan Feld, of blessed memory.

When Rabbi Feld came in with his black hat and big beard, I felt an instant trust that allowed me to hand over my precious, precious baby to this man. His very Chabadness imbued our tiny apartment with a holy air, and though I was terrified, I felt prepared. My father and father-in-law cradled the boy carefully, and El Yenta Man let the boy suck on a cotton handkerchief soaked in Manischewitz. My mother-and-law and I clung together, eyes squeezed shut. Rabbi Feld intoned the prayers, there was a quick swish, an application of gauze, and my baby boy was in my arms nursing before I knew it. He didn’t even cry. We all exhaled and had a huge nosh and laughed at the dog, who during the short deed had managed to scarf an entire platter of lox. Later my dad, a surgeon for 30 years, expressed his admiration for the rabbi’s steady hand: “That was the cleanest cut I’ve ever seen.”

It was another necessary step in this Jewish life we made and continue to make for ourselves. As joyous an occasion as it is, there is a seriousness to a bris; no one is flip about cutting a tiny baby’s penis, and a good mohel sets a sacred tone that reminds us that this irreversible act forever binds this person into a covenant with God, same as Abraham, Isaac and all the daddies all the way down. While some argue that the circumcision has only been done only for sanitary or other clinical reasons, it is what has always set Jews apart from our neighbors, and outward sign of faith and a definite distinguishing characteristic. Before WWII, it was no foreskin: Jew; forekskin: not a Jew.

It also must be told that the boy’s godparents, who were present at the bris and aren’t Jewish, decided not to circumcise their own son when he was born seven years later. I respect every parent’s choice on this—and believe it should be just that: A choice.

So to push a law that makes every bris (as well as every Muslim khitan) a crime? Good GOLLY, that smacks of blatant religious oppression. I usually leave it to Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman to fight that fight while I blissfully skip through life in a country where everyone’s rights are supposedly guaranteed, but I’ve got to wonder here: Isn’t the MGM Bill just completely unconstitutional?

Bay Area rabbi and mohel Gil Leeds wrote that “the vote will empower a secular majority to impose its will, and ban one of the oldest religious traditions known to humanity. When religious belief and practice become subject to vote by the majority of a city council, government agency or referendum, it endangers all of our rights and freedoms.”

The inactivists compare male circumcisions to the horror of forced female circumcision, which was made illegal in the U.S. in 1996. I see the point, though female genital mutilation (done ritually for centuries in Africa and parts of the Middle East) usually involves a lot more cutting and is done with the express purpose of dampening sexual ardor. A worldwide women’s rights movement has turned the tides; 25 African countries have ratified the Maputo Protocol to end it.

Clearly, there are those who feel that male circumcision is flip side of the coin—though no amount of hideous photos or yelling in someone’s face is going to change their religious convictions. And this country, you’re actually allowed to have your religious convictions—the only catch is, you’ve got to let other people have theirs. Democracy is stupid messy, yo.

Not to be alarmist, but I find the San Francisco ballot measure to be anti-Semitic and downright dangerous. Some have noted that it’s a very strange move for a city so mired in other kinds of freedom—but as a die-hard, bleeding heart liberal, I still know that fanaticism goes both ways.

I hold the same opinion about circumcision as I do about abortion—that it’s personal, not political. If you are opposed, then don’t have one. If you want to prevent others from doing it, put your efforts into education. But using legislation to enforce such deeply complex matters only divides us, and we need all the unifying we can get.

In other words, mind your own family’s penises and I’ll mind mine.

The Jewish Community’s Next Controversy?

As one of the world’s few African-American Jewish rappers, haredi hip-hop maestro Y-Love is used to jumping the boundaries of stereotypes around Jewish ethnicity. It’s the subject of his cranking new video “This Is Unity”—check it:

Love the reminder that Jews come in all colors and observance levels. But when did it become acceptable for the young yids to rock a kaffiyeh?

A Close Encounter Of The Hateful Kind

Boo-YAH! The promised End of the World came and went and we’re all still here, ain’t we? But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t enraptured this weekend:

After dropping off the kinder for their last Shalom School of the year to practice for their tribute to Debbie Friedman, I decided to that I needed a walk to the river to clear my head of it’s “Not By Might” loop. On the way down Bull Street I ran into to the lovely JinHi Souci Rand of Muse Arts Warehouse and her husband, Mark, as well as a whole buncha fun folk from Act Up Savannah preparing for the Savannah arrival of the Westboro Baptist Church douchies at First Baptist Church on Chippewa Square.

Though I plan to get all Meshuggeneh JewMama on the WBC this Friday when they’re scheduled to spew their nonsense at Congregation Mickve Israel, I wasn’t gonna let the fact that I didn’t have a decent sign to wield stop me from joining the fun. I just stood next to cleverest ones, like “I skipped the Rapture for THIS??!” and “Savannah: The City Too Wasted To Hate.” Here’s my favorite, from fabulous local Ford Howell:

The crowd swelled to around 200 as Act Up organizers announced via megaphone the rules: No stepping off the curb. No throwing shit at THEM. No matter what THEY say, no doing anything that could give any reason for a lawsuit, ’cause that’s what THEY want. The police lined up along the square near the church and we all squished in. When murmurs began that THEY were on their way, the crowd—a multiethnic, multi-generational melting pot of rainbow capes, face piercings and smiles—was buzzing and laughing and ready for some major peaceful protest action.

I don’t know what we were expecting, but it was more than two backwater moms and a handful of inbred children.

Granted, Shirley Phelps is about as loud as they come—I had to admire her boundless enthusiasm for screaming her ridiculous rhetoric. But even her weird parody of Lady Gaga (revealing that she and her kinfolk actually listened to Lady Gaga enough times to impose their own lyrics on the music) was drowned out by random snippets of John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance” and shouts of “You’re idiots, go home.”

Mostly, we all stared at them, wondering what kind of mental illness inspired people to make people hand their children signs like this:

Personally, I was glad to be included—it would be so perturbing to be left out of WBC’s blanket hatred of all non-white, non-Christian (as IF Jesus woulda been down with them), non-homophobic (in addition to their #1 Hit sign “God Hates Fags,” another read “God Hates Fag Enablers”—I’m not really sure what that means but sign me up) residents of our very colorful, spiritual, sexual planet.

There was so much love on our side of the square that I had a totally bizarre thought: What if—and this is nuts, y’all—it’s all an act? What it Fred and Shirley Phelps and their (in reality, very small) following know that humans really only unify under oppressive circumstances and so launched the only kind of campaign that could bring all people together? When you witness such an encompassing rejection of so many groups of people, leaving only a handful of rather unintelligent, homely individuals, it becomes patently clear that any kind of racism, religious bias and/or discrimination based on sexuality or gender is completely asinine. So perhaps out of a deep love for humanity and a wish to see all of us operate from a common ground, the WBC has styled themselves the villains of tolerance and sanity. It’s possible, right?

Oh shit, that Kool-Aid must’ve been spiked or something.

The carnival went on for another hour, but I had to bail to listen to my happily-identified Jewish children sing this:

Not by might, not by power, but by spirit shall we all live in peace.

Good one to remember when if the WBC manages to stick around until Friday.

2am Knishes on Broughton? Oh HELLS yeah

Here in Slowvannah party people have a problem: Bars are open as late as you can hang, but there’s nothing to eat north of Victory after 10pm but ick pizza that looks and tastes suspiciously like snot on cardboard.

It’s an entrepreneurial no-brainer, really: Drunk people need food. Make something cheap, easy and utensil-unnecessary and get it to them. Seeing as downtown rents are stupid high, it makes sense that you might mobilize your supply to meet the demand of the hordes of stumblers who have bathed in Pabst Blue Ribbon and Jell-O shots for the last few hours and want to end the evening with a full belly of goodness.

Lots of smart people have figured this out and put a kitchen on wheels. They’re called food trucks. They’re kind of a big deal in other cities, where this economic niche has been met with epicurean creativity in the form of rolling Korean barbecue, fresh tacos, ice cream sandwiches, Mexican-Chinese fusion, paninis and all kinds of other delicious snacks.

In Savannah, food trucks are illegal just sort of impossible to get a license for. Or so I hear. I called the City of Savannah’s Revenue Department to find out if and why but didn’t get very far with the woman on the other end of the phone who said food trucks were perfectly legal as long as one jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops and paid the fees. (Dammit, Jim, I’m a blogger, not an investigative journalist!)

But the Savannah Street Food Coalition has made it its mission to “campaign for safe, affordable, and legal access to street food in Savannah” by “persuading local and state lawmakers to revise current restrictive vending ordinances which hinder the proliferation of street food culture,” so someone must be standing in the way of late-night gastronomical progress. I’m salivating over their Facebook updates and dreaming of Nutella crepes. And empanadas. And tofu hot dogs with chopped relish and a perfect dollop of mayo…

Meanwhile, some Savannah Twitter user has registered @kosherfoodtruck—which could mean latkes and other yiddishe yums. It’s been many years since I could keep my eyeballs open past 11, but I’d find the party in my pajamas if it meant hot knishes scarfed on the sidewalk.

UPDATE: The Savannah Food Coalition so nicely responded with this:

Food trucks aren’t necessarily outlawed – but the restrictions and regulations makes it near impossible to open and run one. Probably not intentional on the city’s part. I imagine the regulations were placed for good intentioned health code. But as we both know – there’s some great, safe food cooked on food tucks daily in other cities…We ran into a lot of contradicting information and dead ends. We were inspired by Atlanta Street Food Coalition to make it easier for all involved, potential small business owners as well as city employees.

Nice. So that it means it could happen sooner than later. Also, I found out the identity of @Kosherfoodtruck and I can tell you that this Savannah son is gonna ALL bizzy on Jewish Southern style cuisine…

The End of the World And Other Good News

Geez, I’ve been so self-absorbed lately that Saturday’s upcoming Apocalypse totally slipped my radar.

Christian evangelist Harold Camping has been warning us for months via billboard and a doozy of a PR campaign that “beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment,” which I guess means I’ll be having a doozy of a garage sale with all the stuff my saved neighbors leave behind.

I’ve had a few decades to prepare since my first dry run as a Jew after the Rapture, but I hafta to say I’ll be super bummed if the world ends now ’cause damn, things are just starting to get good:

On Friday, Yenta Boy slayed the room at the Creative Coast’s awesome TEDx event with some piano and song—his version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” always gets ‘em. And no, I didn’t have to go all tiger mother on him to get him to practice. You can watch it here; his performance begins around 45:00. Please disregard weepy parents in the front row.

While I’m kvelling over the boy, this has been quite a year for Yenta Boy accolades: He won Live Oak Libraries’ county-wide poetry contest with a sonnet dedicated to his mother in the fall and made it to the state Social Studies fair finals with a project he co-created with his quirky friend Luke on—*ahem*—different religious predictions for the Apocalypse. Seriously, it’s like living with the lovechild of Elton John and David Koresh.

Yup, it’ll be a huge bummer if everything falls apart on Saturday since El Yenta Man’s Strong Gym is grooving along with new clients and a growing reputation for kicking tushy and putting broken people back together—already he’s musing that he needs more space. And Little Yenta Girl is apparently some kind of golf prodigy at seven years old, so it would be really great to have another ten years to see if my full-ride scholarship plans for her work out. I got the excellent news yesterday that an article I published in BUST magazine will be included in the new anthology, BUST’s DIY Guide To Life, but that will be rendered irrelevant if the four horsemen descend from the sky since the book doesn’t come out until October.

But hey—at least I get to enjoy THIS for the next few days: Thank you, thank you, thank you Connect Savannah readers for voting me Best Blogger 2011! It is an honor and a pleasure to inform and offend you. Though the fact that a weirdo Jewish mother from California can come out on top two years in a row in this town shows that the end of the world may indeed be nigh, after all.

Eh, I remember Y2K when we were all holed up with our case of tequila and El Yenta’s Man’s fishing gear. When all the computers did not, in fact, grow teeth and eat all the humans, we just woke up cold beside a foggy lake with bad hangovers. So I’m preparing for the best: That all of us will still be here next week, having to navigate life’s dumb challenges—and celebrating our victories.

But I got a sh*tton of margarita fixin’s, just in case.

Justice Better Served Late Than Not At All

Former Ohio mechanic and Nazi camp guard John Demjanjuk has been sentenced to five years in a German prison for his role in the murder of almost 28,000 people in Poland during WWII.

At 91, he was so sick and fragile that he could barely sit up for his own trial. His attorneys maintained that while the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk may have served as a guard, he was a victim of war crimes himself and shouldn’t be held responsible for the mass killings that took place under his watch. He was just low-level stooge, after all.

He’s probably telling the truth about being a grunt. This isn’t the first time Demjanjuk has been brought up on charges: Nazi hunters found him near Cleveland in the 80s and extradited him to Israel to face accusations that he was “Ivan the Terrible,” the notoriously sadistic psychopath who did horrific things like slice off women’s breasts at the Treblinka death camp. He was convicted based on the testimony of five eyewitnesses and sentenced to hanging, but a few years later evidence surfaced that cast doubt that he and Ivan were the same person and Israeli Supreme Court overturned the conviction.

But just because Demjanjuk wasn’t at Treblinka doesn’t mean he’s innocent. In 2001, more charges about his participation in killings at the Sobibór, Majdanek and Flossenbürg camps were brought up and a new trial was ordered, this time by Germany. It’s taken 11 years to get him back out of Ohio, across the ocean and into the courtroom to determine that yes, this old man was once a kid soldier who saved his own life by working as a cog in the Nazi extermination machine. He was there, he followed orders, he did nothing while people were tortured and killed.

Now some people, probably people who aren’t Jewish and didn’t grow up in a Holocaust subculture where you learned that much of your European ancestry was stripped of its wealth and dignity and sent to gas chambers, are saying “Aw, what’s the big deal; he’s almost dead anyway. Leave the old man alone. Forgive and forget already.”

And I say: I believe that forgiveness is the only true way to heal the soul. Yes, the crusty bastard is seriously ill and probably very sorry about the hideous nightmare of Eastern Europe that took place almost 70 years ago. But forgiveness does not mean giving up screwing down responsibility where it belongs. Simon Wiesenthal and the rest of the Nazi hunters have tirelessly scoured the entire globe to bring these criminals into justice’s light and will not stop until they’ve found them all or scared the rest into a life on constant paranoia and diarrhea.

Considering the nature of the crimes, being strung up in the town square by your old man ball sac wouldn’t be viewed as inappropriate in most cultures during the history of the world. Demjanjuk’s pissy five years isn’t such a big freakin’ deal, and he’ll probably die at home before he even rolls into prison. It’s a symbolic show to allow us closure and let God deal with what comes after.

So forgiveness, yes. But we’re sure as f*ck not going to forget.

This story of the Holocaust is almost over, but it will continue to be told in spite of the revisionists, the haters and the liars. Almost everyone who was there—who lived through the most heinous hell-on-earth any of us can imagine—is gone. Every year, there were be less survivors to share their firsthand accounts at our Yom HaShoah commemorations. One day, all the perpetrators will be dead, too.

But you and me will still be here, and our children, and God willing, theirs. And we’ll have to shoulder the task of remembering the truth of what happened, even though the young people will roll their eyes and complain that the world is different now (except that it’s not; anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe like some dystopian sci-fi novel.) We ain’t NEVER FORGETTING that when our grandparents (and in some cases, parents) were kids, a third of the world’s Jewish population was destroyed because of charismatic meglomaniacs and low-level grunts and apathetic neighbors while the rest of the world went about its business, and that it wouldn’t take much for it to happen again—not just to us but to Tutsis or Tamils or Sudanese or any other people. If we forget, even for a single minute, we’re leaving the door open.

Justice cannot arise or prevail without vigilance, and that must be our promise from generation to generation.

No One Puts Hillary In A Corner. Or Makes Her Invisible.

Ah, such historical drama captured in this moment! As our Navy Seals closed in on Osama Bin Laden with Mossad-like stealth, our President, Vice-President and Secretary of State waited with bated breath and white knuckles—wait a minute.

Something’s missing from this photo published in Brooklyn-based Chasidic newspaper Der Tzitung…um, where the f is Hillary? You know, America’s most powerful diplomat? The skilled political influence that keeps China off our backs, Africa in our consciousness and Iran where we can see them? That lady?

Oh, well, you know women. Maybe she needed to go change her tampon during modern America’s most important moment.

Yeah, I’m a little outraged at Der Tzitung‘s FrankenPhotoshopping of the women out of the Situation Room (another Security Team officer, Audrey Tomason, was erased as well.) I understand that ultra-Orthodox Judaism does not allow pictures of women in their newspapers. Neither are women permitted to sing in public, show their hair to anyone but their husbands or touch any man who’s not an immediate family member. This community observes a strict level of modesty (known as tznuit) and has a hard time convincing outsiders that these measures are ways to venerate women, not keep them down. While it’s tempting to draw parallels with the Muslim reasoning for shrouding women in burkas, I do believe the root of tznuit is respect for the Feminine—however misguided, inconvenient and irrational it may seem to the rest of us.

However, as Failed Messiah (the blog that broke this story first, followed by the biggies) points out, “There is no Jewish law mandating the removal of normally clothed women from pictures like this.”

As media crimes against women go, this one ranks pretty high, though it definitely gets lost in the sea of airbrushed boobs and such. Women are Photoshopped every day—a slimmer hip here, a mutant elbow there—one disappearing altogether is hardly the worst thing that ever happened to feminism on a computer.

No, stab in the heart of this is the editors’ assumption of the right to change up a defining, universal moment to conform to their beliefs. As Jews, surely the danger of revising history supercedes such “fauxtography” (thanks, Rabbi Jason Miller, for the term.) I may be a heathen Jew with a bellybutton ring and Victoria’s Secret catalogs all over my house, but I’m pretty sure God does not want us to LIE.

Some have proferred that the editors of Der Tzitung removed Hillary because they’re uncomfortable with women in positions in power, but I think it was just the stupid mistake of some dumbkoff who should have to work in his uncle’s butcher shop in Flatbush for the rest of his career. If you don’t want the readers of your yiddishe borough newspaper to look at a woman, especially ones as incredibly awesome and powerful and sexy as Hillary Clinton, then publish something more benign, like Joe Biden talking with food in his mouth.

Here’s how it really went down, featuring Hillary in her full gasping glory:

The Circus Is Coming, The Circus Is Coming!

Savannah bloggers and Facebookers were all abuzz yesterday over the announcement that our little city will be a stop on the Westboro Baptist Church Tour of Crazy Hate.

Ya know, the “God Hates Fags” people? The group of “Christians” that holds up signs like “God Hates America” at soldiers’ funerals? Declared Islamic prophet Mohammed a whoremonger and President Obama the Anti-Christ? Charming lot, nu?

They’ve got an ambitiously whirlwind schedule planned (notice I’m linking you to Bill Dawers’ post so you don’t have to contaminate yourself by going to their website,) touching on LGBT-friendly high schools and all kinds of churches and of course, our Jewish Educational Alliance and two of Savannah’s three synagogues (poor Agudath Achim. Everyone always seems to overlook the Conservative Movement in this country.)

Personally, I am giddy with excitement. I’m also eager to see how they plan to get from downtown (where I plan to be shaking a tambourine and my behonkus and singing Debbie Friedman songs on the steps of Mickve Israel) across Derenne to BB Jacob in 15 minutes at rush hour. Of all the awesome non-violent counterprotests being planned, I think a most effective one would involve a couple of extra horse carriages full of tourists and a fleet of old ladies in Cadillacs trying to parallel park on Monterey Square.

Some folks are incensed that these a**holes are slithering out of their Midwest mudholes to come to Savannah (“We like to take vacations, don’t you?” one WBC protestor told a journalist recently.) There are good reasons to get angry. The WBC rhetoric is not only offensive and hurtful, but infuriatingly legal. In fact, so legal that it’s suspicious. A Tennessee journalist offers compelling evidence that Head Whacko Fred Phelps actual intention is nothing more than greed:

What he does is try to make you break the law by trying to punch your sensibilities about everything you hold dear, and then sue you and everyone municipality around him to the max.

Phelps and his crew of sick aren’t trying to save anyone’s souls—they’re trying to bait us into violating their right to free speech so they can file a lawsuit. The site God Hates Fred Phelps has a comprehensive timeline on WBC shenanigans if you feel spending your precious time on earth caring.

Yes, I hear the righteous and reasonable among ye lobbying that we should completely ignore these evildoers and that by engaging we simply feed their poisonous fire, but what’s the fun in that? Especially when you can think up fabulously clever anti-WBC signs to share with everyone?

Here’s the deal: Hate can only be fought with love and laughter. Annoying, but true. And if you meet the WBC wackadoodles with anything but that, they will sue the pants right off your ass. So let’s turn this into an opportunity of unity for Savannah—a chance to dance in the streets and shake our freaky heads at these poor, deluded souls who will never know a community of tolerance, diversity and joy.

Honor the Birther in Your Life

Frankly, the most nonsensical part of the whole “birther” debate is the moniker—who gave these idjuts the right to call themselves such? Now that the whole stupid issue has been put to rest (along with Osama Bin Laden, holy moly!), I have decided to reclaim and redefine the term as such:

A “birther” is heretofore only to refer to someone who HAS ACTUALLY GIVEN BIRTH.

You know a few of them. Sometimes they are referred to as “breeders” or “that crazy lady wielding the spatula” but they are best known as “mothers.” And this Sunday they—ahem, WE (seeing as I am sometimes the crazy lady with the spatula)—would like a little acknowledgment and appreciation of not only the whole birthing episode that got you here (which, by the way, wasn’t actually all that pleasant) but the feeding, cleaning, tushy-wiping, working to pay for camp dues and endless other thankless tasks. (Of course, not every mother is a birther—thank you one of my favorite mothers, Hilda Hayes, for the reminder!)

Some mothers preferred to honored by everyone getting all farpitzed and going out to a nice brunch; some of us just want to wake up to a sparkling clean kitchen and duct tape over the childrens’ mouths to prevent bickering. Flowers are nice, but personally I just want to take in a matinee of Fast & The Furious 5 and eat frozen yogurt for dinner.

Since my own mother lives too far away to subject to two hours of Vin Diesel, I’ve gotten her something I know she’ll love. It’s not a tsotchke or a box of chocolates since she’s always trying to get rid of stuff (she made me bring an empty suitcase on our last trip) and doesn’t do sweets. But she’s an amazing and generous lady who loves helping people, so every year I do just that, in her name:

For the price of a dozen roses, Jewish Women’s International Mother’s Day Flower Project sends a beautiful card to your mama and makes a donation to one of 200 battered women’s shelters across the country. The gift raises the spirits of the 30,000 women (and more than 15,000 children) spending Mother’s Day in a shelter—a place no mother wants to be unless what’s at home sucks pretty badly—and helps JWI do their work of educating communities about domestic abuse and empowering women to create safe homes.

Each year JWI features a different artist’s work, and j’adore Sabine Wohlfeiler’s “Orchids” gracing the cover of this year’s card. Check out the sweet video here and click to buy a card—better do it fast if you want it to be on time. (But your mother will understand if it’s a little late, seeing as the intentions are so good and all, right Mom?)