Monday, March 22, 2010


I am feeling excited! It is the excitement of being a part of history; not in a devastatingly sad way, as was September 11th, or the assassination of JFK, but in a more profound way, as was the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the creation of the State of Israel, the election of our first black President. Today I am a witness to history.

This past Sunday, the health care bill was passed. For decades, Democratic politicians, like Edward Kennedy, have fought tirelessly so that all Americans could have equal access to health care- and now it is a reality.

While I do not claim to know or understand all the details about the new health care bill, nor do I know whether this is the best way to provide universal coverage, I do know that I deeply believe that health care, like education, is a right not a priviledge. I firmly believe that every single person should have the same right to live a healthy life whether they be rich or poor.

Like education, those that can afford it, and choose to spend their money, can opt for private school. So with health care, everyone deserves a basic plan and those that want better should be allowed to pay for it.

Do I personally want to pay for this? I don't know. Do I want to get less quality for my own health care because of this? I don't know. But, morally, there is no doubt in my mind that if I have to sacrifice for everyone to be able to get care then so be it. Just as with public education, my taxes pay for it whether or not my children attend.

My son Austin just finished a history paper on the march from Selma to Montgomery that stopped disenfranchisement practices so that African Americans could vote freely. Hindsight is 20/20 but even still, its hard to imagine that at that time, not so long ago in 1965, any one person, let alone many people, objected to African Americans attaining these rights; but they did!

I think one day when we look back on this moment we will ask, "How could anyone be against health care for each and every individual. How could we be the only industrialized nation not to have universal health care and think that its ok?"

We will be saying to our children in history class, "Well some people thought it was too expensive for our country, or some people thought it should have been executed differently. But I think we will laugh at the thought that anyone could not think it was the right thing to do.

Kind of like when we ask why did it take so long for the United States to enter WWII and stop Hitler. Of course, there were many good arguments at the time, but today all those arguments seem to pale in comparison to the urgency of saving lives.

I don't see this as a political post. As I wrote, I don't know if this is the best bill, or the best way to provide health care to everyone, but in my view, it is the moral and ethical thing to do, and since I am writing this blog so that one day my son's will know who I am, I need to write about this.

So today, for my 50th birthday, I can say that I am glad that I am alive at such a momentous time, when a most significant part of our history is being made. Salute!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Passover Seder

Tomorrow night I am hosting a mock Seder. It is a mock Seder because it will not actually take place on Passover. This year my family will be away for our favorite holiday, which we customarily celebrate at my brother John's home, and which is usually so lovingly prepared by his wife, my sister-in-law, Tami.

But this year is different. In addition to the fact that we will miss my brother's Seder, I am making this mock Seder because it has been three years since my son John has celebrated Passover, and it will be four more years until he will celebrate it again (presently he is at boarding school and he is heading off to college in September). So, I don't want to miss the opportunity to create meaningful memories for him or my other two boys, especially as they relate to our family and their heritage.

Passover is a very significant holiday because it commemorates the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt and recounts their long wandering in the desert on their way to becoming a nation.

At our Seder, like at so many Seders around the globe, we focus not only on the liberation of our ancestors, whose freedom from slavery allows us to exist as Jews today, but also on the importance of freedom for all peoples around the world.

Retelling the Exodus story reminds us that we are obliged to help others in need of freedom. It is this message that I want my boys to hear and integrate in their lives. It is their responsibility to help make this world a better place, and it is my responsibility to make sure they know that.

It is our family tradition that before we sit around the dinner table to read the haggadah, drink our four cups of wine, and break the middle Matzah, we always come together in my brother's living room, learning something about Judaism, Passover, Freedom...

And this year, in my own home, things won't be any different. We have invited my brothers and their families, my mom, and family friends to share in our special celebration. And while the preparation of serving sixteen stresses me out, I know I will have the most enjoyable evening.

The preparation began early this week. Finding the recipes, shopping for ingredients, setting the table. All to be done by Thursday so that I could cook on Friday. I am pretty well set. Brisket and charoset are done. Chopped Liver and gefilte fish are ready.(I know it sounds disgusting). Tomorrow I will bake the macaroons, finish setting the table and prepare our Passover learning/discussion.

I look forward to a wonderful evening celebrating traditions with family and friends while hopefully instilling in my sons the passion to be righteous individuals and the importance of preserving their Jewish heritage through holiday rituals.

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Passover each has its own rituals and traditions. It is the rhythm of the calendar, the rhythm of family life...and the cycle continues. So glad its my 50th year and I am able to celebrate this occassion with my family. Next year in Jerusalem!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Boys Ain't Go'in Nowhere

I am outraged. Really, I mean who thought up this stuff?

"Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh." Genesis 2:24

Not a word about the daughter leaving her mother and father, just the man. Tell me, where is the equality in this?

Obviously, the author wasn't a mother of all boys and definitely not a Jewish mother of all boys.

Somehow I think the entire Christian faith may have come about in a way something like this...
Mary thinks to herself, "hmmm, I have this one son, no way am I letting him leave me to "cling" to his wife, so let's forget this Old Testament stuff and start our own thing. We can keep the Ten Commandments, but let's definitely leave out this crap about leaving the mother(and father)."

The author of this text definitely underestimated the intense nature of a mother's love. Let me tell you a story...

When my oldest son, John Connor, was born, he was jaundice. After a few days in the hospital together, he under the lamps and me recuperating from a c-section, the nurses informed me that I would have to go home and LEAVE my son in their care for a few more days.


Quickly, without thinking, and I really mean without thinking, I asked my husband to go to the cafeteria and get me a cup of tea. Immediately after I finished drinking, I complained of not feeling well and called in the nurse. Needless to say, my temperature was 103, and they were heading down the hall to call my doctor at home so he could come in and evaluate me.

Now, you have to appreciate that at that moment, I was temporarily insane, willing to do almost anything to stay in the hospital with my son. But, even in this wild state, I somehow knew it was wrong to bother my doctor late on this saturday night, and deep down, I also knew that the gig was up; I could fool them once but not twice. The nurses where on to me. So, I told my husband what I had done, and speechless from embarrassment, I made him apologize to the nurses and tell them of my imbecilic plan.

Back to the words at hand. "Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh". Genesis 2:24

Did this world renowned author really believe we mothers of boys wouldn't think of a way around this directive? Obviously, this author never heard of Jewish guilt.

Well, maybe I don't have the technique mastered, but, try as I may, for me the Jewish guilt thing doesn't work so well. Somehow my sons always call me out for laying a guilt trip on them and argue their way out of anything I'm trying to guilt them into doing.

So, the way I figure it, If I want to keep my sons around, I have only one other option, be a really, really awesome mother-in-law.

That means, keep my mouth shut, be a great cook, own a super terrific vacation home, and/or have a lot of money.

I guess I'll have to learn how to cook.

PS. Just as I finished writing this post, my son John calls to tell me that he won't be coming straight home on Monday evening . It doesn't matter that we haven't seen him for a long while since he is away at boarding school and flew to Denver this weekend for his official lacrosse visit and will only be home four short days before he leaves again to lacrosse training in Florida. No, he cannot come straight home from the airport because he is going to visit his girlfriend in NYC and have dinner with her family. The irony of it all!!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Bar Method

If I don't blog about this, I may stop doing it, so I have to get it out there into the blogosphere to keep me going. 

This is actually a very sad commentary on my personality. I am so other oriented, that I will do something for others before I do it for myself... or, I just hate exercising with such a passion that I will use any excuse not to. 

OK, so here goes. The Bar Method is the new fad in exercise, at least here in Bernardsville, and I am hooked- at least for now. 

I joined for one month about a week ago and I have gone almost every day since. If I dare say so myself, I feel healthier and look better. I think they should pay me for this blog, don't you?

Anyway, just thought I'd let you all know that if you see me strutting around town, looking and feeling like I'm 26, you'll know why. And if you see me and I don't look any younger than I was when you last saw me, you have my permission to tell me off and send me back to exercise class!

Reality Check

My mind is like an amusement park.

Those are the choice words of a friend's friend who I met yesterday at a birthday lunch in NYC.
As often as I've tried to describe the chaos in my mind, I've never been able to do justice to its reality. These words were an aha moment. When I heard them I immediately thought, " now, that is exactly what it is like up in there"- as I imagined the ferris wheel spinning, the merry-go-round turning, the noise blaring and the lights blinking. I was happy to have met someone who shared my mind's experience and who also understood how important it was for a busy mind to take a day off- to escape reality. Today was just such a day.

The birthday lunch for my dear friend Beth was at the University Club in Manhattan. I had never been there and since I was the only one coming from outside the city, had to find parking, etc. I arrived early and the birthday gifts began.

First, It is a gorgeous building. As I entered into the grand hallway, I checked my coat and proceeded to warm myself by the enormous, roaring, marble fireplace. Such an elegant room, such a simple pleasure, and I felt so blessed just standing there.

After warming up, I wandered into the vast reading room with its oriental rugs, floor to ceiling windows, high back chairs and library tables topped with interesting reading material.

I chose the Illuminator,( a magazine published by the University Club for its members), and found a window seat in which to relax and wait. I opened the magazine to a wonderfully descriptive article about the club's library. So, bold as I am, I found my way to the fourth floor, where just as the author had promised, I entered the architecturally stunning yet incredibly inviting and cozy library.

Mahogany book shelves lined the room, frescos were painted on the gilded ceilings and stately university crests adorned the highest parts of the walls. Most importantly, as described in the Illuminator Journal, next to each light drenched window (yes, even on this cloudy day, natural light poured in to this otherwise dark space), there was a red leather reading chair with a reading lamp by its side.

Although it felt like I was alone, in fact, I was not. Two men, in different corners of the room, sat comfortably engrossed in there reading and I thought to myself, "What a luxurious way to spend what might otherwise be a dreary and hectic Wednesday afternoon." I too ensconced myself in a red leather chair and for a few spectacular moments, I read, relaxed, soaked in the rich and intellectual atmosphere, and appreciating the gifts being bestowed upon me.

At noon I met Beth and her five friends on the seventh floor for lunch in a most magnificent dining room setting. A few hours, and many great conversations later, I was heading back to suburban reality. Don't take this the wrong way, I love Bernardsville, my life and my friends, but every now and again, it is really nice to live someone else's life - and yesterday I did.

Originally, John and I had these "grand plans" to meet after my lunch and his work, so that we could enjoy dinner in NYC and stay overnight. But as is often the case with bubbles, they pop. Fictitious living only lasts so long before real life gets in the way, and in this particular case, we were needed at our regular parenting jobs back home.

But, back at the ranch, as if John read my mind, and understood that I didn't want the fairy tale to end, he, my prince in shining armor, said to Reid, "Your mother looks so beautiful, do you mind if I take her out to dinner?", and while it was not the glamour of 5th Avenue, we enjoyed a lovely dinner together, catching up on our busy lives, and appreciating our own reality.