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The End…and The Beginning

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

How do I find the right words to say goodbye to someone so near and dear to my heart?

Frume Sarah.

My alter ego. My secret identity.
My safety net.
My security blanket.

It is time to come out from behind the mask and write as myself.

I have loved writing as Frume Sarah these past (nearly) eight years. She has helped me find my voice and gain confidence as a writer. But I don’t need her anymore.

I need to be me.

Don’t panic; I’ll still be blogging. And still writing in the style you know and love. Over at my new blog!!

That’s right. You won’t have to miss a single thing. Just head on over to my new digs at

Where else??

It’s That Time Again…

Monday, 4 June 2012

Lists…and lists…and more lists.

With everyone going off to JewCamp at different points this summer, I am in the midst of Operation Grateful Mama. Lists of what to bring. Lists of what not to bring. And, of course, everything has to be labelled.

Several years ago, I discovered Mabel’s Labels. I love the name. Say it with me: may-bulz lay-bulz. Lovely consonance, isn’t it?? And the colours are cheerful and fun. And the labels themselves are extremely durable. Practically perfect in every way. But more than that, it is the best shot I have of making certain that any of my kids’ belongings make it back home with them.

Not all, of course. Short of hot gluing every item to my little darlings, there is nothing that can guarantee a one hundred percent return when it comes to kids, belongings, and camp. In my experience, the only guarantee is that things will get lost. In the first week — if anyone is up for a wager.

Funnily enough, I don’t mind putting the labels on their stuff. It’s like tucking a little bit of home into their belongings.

What are your kids doing this summer? How are you helping them prepare??

Special Delight

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

I hate cleaning.
I especially hate cleaning up the same mess day after day.
And more than that, I hate nagging my kids to clean.

Yet it seems to be part and parcel of parenting.
[This would not be a good time to suggest a reward system, BTW.]

So I tell Poppyseed over and over again that cleaning her room includes picking up and putting away all of the little piddly chazerai that seems to congregate on her floor.
I tell her that whatever doesn’t get picked up and put away is in real and present danger of being tossed.
I do not make idle threats.

I wonder…

Am I the only one who takes special delight in the clickedty-clack sounds made by the Polly Pocket shoes, et al. as they get sucked up by the vacuum?

Memorial Day Revisited

Monday, 28 May 2012

Busy today with family, as I imagine many of you are as well. So please enjoy this archived post. And I’ll see you tomorrow.


    • thankful to all those who continue to serve each day so that we can be free.
    • thanks to all the vets and servicemen and women out there.
    • God bless our men and women in uniform serving our country.
    • God bless the veterans — and America.
  • Some of the Facebook statuses, written in honour of a national holiday. Just based on the above statements, which holiday would you guess?

    Three years after the conclusion of the War Between the States, May 30 was declared “Decoration Day” — a day to decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers. By 1890, all Northern States had declared May 30 a state holiday. May 30 was chosen with deliberate care. It was a day that did not coincide with the anniversary of any battle. The Southern states, where Memorial Day was observed at different dates during the immediate post-Civil War period, came to join the Northern States in a May observance about fifty years later.

    Memorial Day, as it been unofficially called since just after the Second World War, become the official name in 1967 and, under the Uniform Holidays Bill, was moved to the last Monday in May, beginning in May of 1971.

    Flags fly at half-staff until noon in memory of those who gave their lives in defense of the United States.

    The statuses, however, might lead one to believe that today we honoured those who serve our country or have served our country.

    That would be called…Veteran’s Day. We have one of those too.

    It’s on November 11. (Eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…)

    Yes, we our a debt of gratitude each and every day to those who give of themselves each and every day. On this one day, however, it is the fallen who deserve the attention.

    Torah in all Sorts of Places

    Thursday, 24 May 2012

    One of the benefits of having two parents with varied musical tastes is that the Frummettes have been exposed to many different genres and musicians. Their tastes run towards the eclectic and make for some interesting playlists.

    Peach has recently fallen in love with this Sarah McLauchlan piece.

    It’s been on repeat going on to a second week now.

    One of the things that I love about giving the kids latitude with their musical choices is that it allows for some great discussions as well as insight into what is going on inside of their minds and souls. Because I cannot imagine what else would have prompted the following from Peach today.

    If we were innocent, we’d still be in the desert.

    What Torah did YOU teach today???

    Hey Babe, What’s Your Instrument?

    Wednesday, 23 May 2012

    OK, not the coolest pick-up line. But one I heard many-a-time at band camp.

    Only we didn’t call it band camp back then. It was music camp. And my instrument was voice — which never failed to bring on the jokes and innuendos.

    I rather envied them — the bandos. They were a close-knit bunch. With cool jackets. Funny stories. Inside jokes. While we, the vocalists, were more concerned with downing as much hot liquid as possible so as to protect our fragile and susceptible instruments. And that was just during the summer at music camp. Marching Band got the bandos a pass out of P.E. and … matching jackets.

    I loved choir. And I loved being at music camp. But it was an “us” vs. “them” mentality. And they sure looked like they were having a whole lot more fun.

    So how thrilled was I when Poppyseed came home after the “instrumental music assembly” at school.

    Poppyseed: “We get to play whatever instrument we want. I just have to decide.”
    FrumeSarah: “Which one seems interesting to you?”
    Poppyseed: “Well!” I’ve narrowed it down.”
    FS: “Great…”
    PS: “…to five instruments.”

    Five? FIVE? Five instruments?

    So which were the chosen five??

    • clarinet
    • violin
    • flute
    • cello
    • French Horn

    Each one wonderful. With its own reasons to be selected as “The One.”
    And…each one with reasons to be cut from the list.

    We had to help her narrow down her list. But how?? We could have turned her loose in an instrument store and let her wander the aisles until “The One” spoke to her. But that’s just not us. Even the thought of that would have had us in hysterics. No, this called for a more pragmatic approach. Using a very, VERY modified Ben Franklin approach, we were able to eliminate all but one instrument.

    Cello? Amazing sound. However, too big. Would require me to drive Poppyseed to school on instrumental music days.
    Clarinet? Mellow tones. But the least favourite of Poppyseed’s choices.
    French Horn? Cool looking. But large and clumsy for a little thing like our Poppyseed.
    Violin? Classic instrument. Unfortunately, listening to a beginner on the violin will be excruciating. Sounds akin to cats in heat.
    Flute? Too boring? Perhaps. Very portable.

    And that is how Poppyseed selected a flute as her instrument of choice. We’ll see how it goes…

    He’s Five, People.

    Tuesday, 22 May 2012

    Peach was absent yesterday.

    Image: Microsoft Office

    Don’t worry; he’s fine. He just didn’t feel like going to school. So I let him stay home.

    Yep. I just let him stay home.

    With nearly twelve years of parenting experience under my belt, I only hesitated for a split-second. Just enough time for the following to run through my head:

    He really needs to get used to the idea that he needs to go to school every day.

    But guess what? Assuming that he only does a two-year Master’s program, Peach has the next nineteen years to get used to that idea. And then he’ll carry that ethic with him into the work place. On the other hand, as my friend Tevye is fond of saying, Peach only has a few more weeks of preschool. A few more weeks where his time at home may, in fact, be just as educational as the time spent in the classroom.

    Yesterday, Peach demonstrated mastery of the following skills:

    • sustained solitary activity (during my nap)
    • fine-motor coordination (on my iPad)
    • creative play (involving superheroes
    • meal prep (either fruit snacks or a chewy bar — and chocolate milk)

    Time well spent.


    Today, upon arrival at school, Peach announced to his teacher that he took a personal day. Sure, I could have told the teacher that I wasn’t feeling well and that’s why we stayed home yesterday. But I surely don’t want the take-away to be that it’s OK to lie. I want my kids to know the difference between a sick day, a vacation day, and a personal day. And I want them to understand why it’s important to use those terms accurately and honestly.

    She smiled…and told me I’d made a great choice. Affirmation from the pre-school teacher, one’s own OR one’s child’s, holds a lot of weight.

    Selfish Tears

    Monday, 21 May 2012

    iStockPhoto © Serghei Starus

    It was a rite-of-passage that many families experience: sending a child away to camp for the first time.

    But it’s not one that I actually expected. Or, at least, not in the typical fashion. I had always assumed that my kids would attend JewCamp. But I also assumed that I would serve as faculty for part, if not all, of their time up at camp. So the “send-off” would be far less dramatic since the kids would be leaving from faculty housing and walking over to their section of camp.

    It so happens, much to my surprise and consternation, that my decision to step of the pulpit has rendered me ineligible to serve as faculty at our local URJ camp. While I can appreciate the reasoning behind the policy, it came as a complete shock. And utter disappointment. I love camp. And I love that my very grown-up career allowed me to continue to spend time at camp…long past the age that I would otherwise have been able to go to camp. It was something to which I looked forward every year, knowing that I would work hard and return home energized. And knowing that the work I did with campers would have long-reaching impacts. But yesterday was different. I was like any other parent on the camp tour. Seeing the camp as an observer. Never to be a participant. Or a facilitator.

    Though they do not all look identical, there is a certain…taam that all Jewish camps share. A kind of feeling. I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to articulate what it is since we first drove through the gate yesterday. But it was familiar. And welcoming.

    Like the prayer space.

    Every Jewish camp I have visited, attended, staffed, or served has had an outdoor prayer space. It is, I think, part of the silver bullet that makes JewCamp so darn magical. Whether it’s known as the Outdoor Chapel, the Beit T’filah, or the Chapel on the Hill, the space is sacred. It feels inherently sacred. Nestled among trees that have stood for hundreds of years or overlooking a majestic ocean. Even when the physicality among the different spaces is nothing alike, they seem to share some common essence. It will come as no surprise that these prayer spaces have always been my favourite locations at camp. As a camper and as a rabbi.

    And it was in the Chapel in the Woods that I was unable to hold them from escaping. I am sure that the camp staff is accustomed to parents crying. The tears that welled up in my eyes, though, were not for my daughter. They were not because she is growing up so quickly (which she is). Or because a four-week separation seems like a long time to be apart (depending on the day). The tears were for me. They were for me. And they were for my loss.

    Well, That’s An Odd Choice

    Thursday, 17 May 2012

    So what happens when a child, denied a McDonald’s birthday party, grows up? In most cases, said child is resentful, adds it to her therapy list, grows up, and then foists a McDonald’s party onto one of her children.


    In my case, her parents throw her an ordination party at McDonald’s. But not any McDonald’s, mind you. A fancy-shmancy one.

    Courtesy: Microsoft Office

    Yes, such a place does exist. In, where else, the financial district in New York. Waited-service. Jazz piano. All with McDonald’s fine fare. We pre-ordered so that no one was publicly shamed for ordering anything that might inadvertently cause problems. The memory burned into my brain is the platter of fries. Fries and fries and fries. McD’s fries. Yum.

    And that is how, we believe, I became the first (only?) rabbi to hold her ordination party at a McD’s.

    Sinai — Thirteen Years Later

    Wednesday, 16 May 2012

    It was my Sinai moment.
    Thirteen years ago today.

    So much has changed since then.
    Deaths (people, friendships, dreams)
    Births (people, friendships, dreams)

    For everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven
    Isn’t that what Kohelet taught?

    I am in no way where I thought I would be.
    And yet, I know that I am right where I am meant to be.

    Most days, that is.

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