Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said that the most difficult to observe of all the 613 commandments is “Honor your father and mother.”
It’s gotta be tough to be a struggling actor. You gotta go from audition to audition, trying to act professional while the casting director throw tasks at you that sometimes look like they are just messing with you–seeing if you will crack under the pressure.
So what would you do if you were an actor auditioning for a role as a parent, and you were asked to act more Jewish? Would you even know what to do? In fact, what does that even mean–act more Jewish? What if you weren’t even Jewish? Would you have the slightest idea of what to do?
Our friends at Kveller.com took these theoreticals and brought it to life, staging a casting call, bringing in real actors…and putting them in uncomfortable situations.
Check out the hilarious results:
The Jewish New Media Innovation Fund, a pilot program of the Jim Joseph, Righteous Persons, and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family foundations, announced today the winners of their first grants — and we’re ecstatic to congratulate Kveller.com, one of nine recipients!
Here’s what they said:
Kveller.com is the first and only Jewish parenting website aimed at parents from across the Jewish religious spectrum, with special attention paid to interfaith families and the less-affiliated. From its popular Jewish Baby Name Bank to its prolific bloggers, Kveller has content reflecting all types of Jewish families: observant, interfaith, queer, divorced and more. It also connects parents to local organizations and events, including piloting online communities with calendars of events and lists of resources, as well as local Facebook groups.
For full details, and the other winners (including my favorite animated Torah series ever), here’s EJewishPhilanthropy’s full post on the subject:
We’re all kvelling here at Kveller and MyJewishLearning over the newest addition to the family.
Our managing editor, Meredith Lewis, gave birth to a beautiful (and I’m not just saying that, the kid is darn handsome) boy last week.
We haven’t heard the birth story yet, only that it’s all too fresh for her to even think about submitting it to our birth story contest. Which, by the way, you should all think about entering, for a chance to win some great prizes from JDub Records–and to share your story with an audience of great Jewish parents and friends who will coo and awe over your story and your amazing luckiness (and then ask if they can borrow your great new CDs).
Congrats, Meredith! We’ll miss you here for the next few months.
There are a lot of things I would do before giving my parents control over my dating life. For instance, I think I would happily gouge my own eye out with a fork, feed my finger into a pencil sharpener, or, I don’t know, listen to the complete works of Yani and Kenny G while doing my taxes and having a raging case of diarrhea. And I don’t just say this because my mom is dead and my dad makes lists of pros and cons about the women he’s into and leaves them around the house for me to find. I also say this because there are some important factors I consider when dating someone that I might not want to talk about with my parents.
She’s taken meddling motherhood to a whole new level.
Geri Brin is so anxious to marry off her 31-year-old son, Colby (pictured), she’s launched a Web site where she and other parents can find perfect matches for their single kids.
“I’ve been fixing my son up for about five years,” said Geri, an Internet entrepreneur who works with Colby on the Upper East Side.
“I even set him up with the saleswoman at the upholsterer I used to re-cover my sofa. I figured I might as well cast a wide net to increase his odds of finding the right woman since he’s not hitting the jackpot on his own.”
Colby is not at all surprised by his mother’s latest project.
“One thing about my mom,” Colby joked, “she has perseverance. I can picture her on her death bed . . . choking out the words, ‘Colby, did you call that girl?’ before fading into darkness.”
Colby seems very cute, and has a sense of humor about this, which I certainly appreciate, but sweet Lord does this set off those pesky boundary issues sirens. And just wait, it gets better:
Colby isn’t the least bit embarrassed about being fixed up by his mom.
“Look, I’m a Jewish guy who grew up in New York,” he said.
“Obviously, I’m a momma’s boy. Who are you kidding?”
Wow. So who’s excited about dating Jewish boys in New York now?
My thing is this: if you go out with a guy on this site, you have to assume that he’s going to go right home afterwards and dish to his mom. And you know what I don’t want to be thinking while making out with my man? I wonder how he’ll describe this to his mom. BLECH. (Also: Colby works with his mom? Would she have to come on the date, too? Does she have to approve of your outfit before you’re allowed out with her son? So many awkward questions.)
Related anecdote: One time, my grandmother was at a luncheon, and she started talking to another woman who had a grandson. Eventually they exchanged grandchildren’s contact information, and the next day my older sister got an email from a stranger entitled Grandma Knows Best. The guy turned out to be kind of lame. Are you shocked? Yeah, I thought not.
There’s a new kosher restaurant right near our office. It’s called Tiberias. The food looks yummy and the decor looks great and, rarest of all for a kosher restaurant (or, as I’m given to understand through reading way too many Anthony Bourdain books, rare for the restaurant business in general), the owners are actually perched by the door, welcoming people, and happy for you to be there. Oh, and hey — they’re giving out free coffee.
And yet, I’m not there.
Let me start from the beginning: Last night, I made the Best Sandwich Ever. (I know because I Twittered about it and everyone else on Twitter agreed.) And, over the course of arguing with one daughter about the social propriety of wearing a bathing suit to school and changing the other daughter’s diapers, I kinda forgot to put it in my backpack.
So here I am, at work, starving, and the day is close to half over. I weigh my choices with all the usual overanalysis — can it be vegan, or do I need protein? how cheap is cheap enough? when’s the last time i ate pizza? — and decide to hit the local kosher Dunkin’ Donuts for a bagel.
And, on the way, I stumble into Tiberias.
At first I don’t even know what’s going on. All I see is two grinning guys out front, kissing hands and shaking babies and looking like they just won the lottery. One of them stops me — the owner, it turns out. Today’s the first day of business. He’s super excited to be there. There is, he mentions several times, free iced coffee.
But the reason I stopped drinking iced coffee is the same reason my brain is working overtime: because I have an anxiety disorder, and I think too much, and caffeine only exacerbates it.
I’m peeking in the counters, and there are actually vegetables (another kosher restaurant rarity) and they look beautiful — the eggplant sliced thick and juicy; corn as yellow as a field of radioactive flowers; perfectly grilled zucchini and red peppers. The menu in my hand lists the prices, and there’s nothing less than $6.95. Except for soup, but I’m talking real stomach-filling food. The real meal meals are closer to $15.
I do the lunchtime math in my head. Packing my own sandwich costs $2 or so. Buying pizza, which is filling but not healthy, is $5 or $6. For another dollar or two, I could eat here, except that that’s 20% of a meal, which is to say, I could eat out 5 times at a junky restaurant for every 4 times that I eat at this place. Or I could just pack lunch, save all that money, and spend it on my kids instead. Or save it for our trip to Australia. Or that subscription to McSweeneys that I really want.
But, really, is all this worth arguing about (or doing math over)? Kosher food, as Tamar says, is expensive. Kosher food in Midtown is expensive squared. We pay for convenience, and that convenience is multiplied when you’re Jewish — you’re not merely paying for the food to be made for you, you’re paying for someone else to pick out your vegetables and look for the kosher markings on the hummus carton and the bagels you would otherwise be checking out yourself. Elie Kaunfer wrote a couple months ago that most Jews don’t know how to make their own matzah, and that’s true, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg — there is no Jewish working class. There are upper-class people who can pay $20 for lunch, and there’s this scraping-the-barrel class that packs our own lunch…or forgets to.
I do the Walk of Shame. I shuffle my feet the three storefronts down, to the donut store. I order a bagel.
The woman beside me turns around and checks out my yarmulke so deliberately that she’s either making sure I’m Jewish or sizing me up for her niece. “You know,” she remarks casually, “there’s a new kosher restaurant that just opened up down the street. They’re serving free iced coffee and it looks really good.”
My face goes from zero to blushing. “I know,” I manage to stammer. “I’m going to check it out when…when I’m eating lunch for real.”
“I’m sorry,” she gasps, seeing that she’s offended me, but not knowing why. Meanwhile, I gaze at the intrepid worker who’s currently toasting my bagel, enabling me to make it to 5:00 today…and wondering whether I shouldn’t be toasting my own bagels instead.
One week when I was living in Dublin I went to a party in a professor’s apartment on a Friday night. It was a potluck, so I made challah and brought it. The (non-Jewish) professor saw the challah and said, “Oh hey, I found a knife in the kitchen [he was subletting another professor's apartment] that I think might have Hebrew on it.” So he brings out this bread knife and it says Likhvod Shabbat [To Honor Shabbat] on it in Hebrew. And even though I might have been the only Jew there, we all said hamotzi together, and I sliced the challah with the knife.
That’s my favorite challah-themed anecdote. Another favorite is how my family made our own patchwork challah cover. Using scraps of fabric left over from Purim costumes, old t-shirts, and an heirloom blanket that had some unfortunate holes due to moths, my mom sewed together a mini-patchwork quilt. In the middle she painted the word Shabbat with fabric paint and voila–a challah cover with family history. In fact, that challah cover became so popular that we demanded she make another one so we’d be able to share them when we grew up and wanted to take them with us. We made those covers in 1994 and I still use mine all the time.