Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Kippur: Time for Reflection

To all of you, my readers, who are Jewish and observe Yom Kippur, I want to take this moment to wish you a meaningful and easy fast.

For this time of year, we are closest to G-d cleansing our souls, reflecting on life, remembering loved ones lost, and the millions of others who have perished in the Holocaust, including Jews and many others, to save us and provide us freedom.

Now try explaining THAT to a preschooler. It's not something that's very easy to do. It was a bit tough trying to explain to Sarah why she wasn't going to school tomorrow,  why mommy and daddy were not going to work, why there was going to be fasting from eating and drinking, and why there would be sadness and possibly tears.

So, I mentioned to her that it is a day to remember loved ones that are in heaven, for us to spend time together taking a walk and engaging in dialogue about how we treat people and how others treat us, and more.

Tomorrow, while solemn, will be a time to embrace our family and friends thanking G-d everyday for their presence in our lives. We will also ask G-d to accept our forgiveness for the wrongdoings we have done including gossiping, yelling, being mean to others, cheating, and being unkind to ourselves.

It it this time that we then commit to a life of good, and not evil, and happiness and good health. We also ask for a sweet and abundant new year. During this holiday, many adults will, for 25 hours from sundown tonight to sundown tomorrow evening, fast from eating food and drinking beverages as a symbol of respect and reminder of what was sacrificed so many years ago including the tragedies of the Holocaust.

At the commencement of Yom Kippur when the sun sets we will enjoy a festive meal and spend time with family and friends and be reminded of the fresh, new journeys that lie ahead, and the goodness that we will create.

Here are some special Yom Kippur Haiku:

This time of the year
We remember loved ones lost
Memories live on
Time for reflection
As we stop eating, drinking
Fasting and mourning
To an easy fast
And time for remembering
Lives of many lost
As we close the book
Let us take time to reflect
Open our hearts
To many lives lost
Your memory lives with us
Through eternity
G-d, please cleanse our souls
Of spite, gossip, bitterness
With hearts wide open
Time for forgiveness
To reflect, remember, change
Begin a new year

Wishing you all an easy fast, a time of reflection, embraces with family and friends, and time for new beginnings.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy New Year -- L'Shanah Tovah

To all of you who celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah -- L' Shanah Tovah.

I wish you and your families a prosperous, happy, and healthy new year filled with renewal and forgiveness.

The start of Rosh Hashanah is my favorite time of the year. It was this time nearly 15 years ago that I found a temple with amazing rabbi's and cantor's in New York City that opened me up to spiritual connection and appreciation for Judaism in a way that I had always hoped for myself. As a result, I was fortunate to open my mind, and my heart, to a new found connection that will forever be with me.

I grew up learning Judaism in the eyes of my parents. While I was taught a great deal, the emotional and spiritual connection did not come for me until I was an adult. However, I have my parents to thank for keeping religion a part of my life and showing me what my family's history and heritage was all about.

Therefore, as a parent, my goal is to lead Sarah on a path filled with knowledge and understanding to help her find her way and an emotional connection to Judaism when the time is right, and when she is mature enough to understand and embrace.

What I most love about this holiday is that it's like a restart button. You look at the past year of life and reflect on what you did, what you said, who you harmed physically or with words, what you did for your community, and the way you treated yourself.

The latter took me a while to understand.

We often hear the phrase that we must love ourselves before we can love others fully. This couldn't be truer. While we may not love everything about ourselves it is this time of year to forgive ourselves for being so hard on ourselves and give ourselves a break.

This is a lesson that regardless of religion should be taught to children so that they can grow into confident adults.

I know all too well that it is easy to hard on oneself. However, in order to admit, then forgive and move past it, you will always be stuck. And, we are human. We may not love everything about ourselves, but we can certainly be nicer to ourselves.

While many look at the World's New Year in January as the time for reflection and new beginnings, as Jewish people that time is now.

From last year's blog post on Mommy's Point of View I said, "It is a significant time dedicated to reflection, thoughts for change, memories of the past personally and historically, and commitment and plans for fresh starts personally, professionally, and in local, national and global communities. It's also a time for family gatherings, special meals and sweet tasting foods, especially apples and honey to celebrate this joyous New Year."

Further, "Jewish people commit to resolutions, but don't call them resolutions. For example, wanting to lose weight, quit smoking or start exercising are important life-altering behavioral changes, but on this holiday our commitments run deeper and involve change that centers on righting the wrongs we have done to others, and to ourselves, and to establish new paths for growth, change and Jewish learning moving forward. It's as if we get to the meaning behind how we feel, the anger we have against ourselves, and the emotional and physical commitment to make a change."

Therefore, it is my job to look in the mirror to be honest with myself, be happy for whom I am and who I have become, and to be the parent I am and wish to be, and to love me. It is also time for change all around. It could be getting more involved in your community, starting a new career path, making a new friend, apologizing to someone for how they have been treated, or asking yourself for forgiveness and starting a new.

As parents we have a great responsibility to help educate our children about religion, traditions, values, and history to help them start on the path to their own spiritual connection.

I look forward to educating Sarah on the traditions I grew up with and have fostered into adulthood, and creating new memories with her to have for years to come.

To all of us who are Jewish and celebrate this New Year, I wish you a sweet and joyous year, prosperity, love, happiness and, most importantly, good health.

Happy New Year. L'Shanah Tovah.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

Today I write with a heavy heart after hugging my husband and daughter just a bit more tightly, thankful for them, yet extremely sad for the thousands of families impacted by the tragedy on the Twin Towers 11 years ago.

While I write this I think that words cannot express how I feel for the tremendous loss our country has endured from the monstrosity on American soil.

Yet, here I am doing what is necessary to keep the history of this tragic day alive and for all of us to remember, and also to be thankful for the lives we do have, the family and friends who are here with us, and more.

I started off my day asking Sarah if she could draw a picture to commemorate today. When she asked for my help, I drew the outline for the towers and let her get to work. Her masterpiece is above. When she showed it to me I smiled. Had I told her exactly how to do it, it would not have been right. I would have likely told her to color the towers gray or black or blue. Instead, I let her do what she does best and create with color. And, when she showed me the final result it was better than I could have ever imagined.

Also, this morning, in the car ride to drop Sarah off at school Daniel asked me if I wanted to tell Sarah about today. I tried to but the words would not come. I didn't want to scare her. So, Daniel did what he does best. He told her the story of the twin towers like he would tell her any other story starting with the words, "Once upon a time."

I sat in the back seat with Sarah staring out the window smiling thinking that he is just such an incredible daddy and amazing man. He found a way to tell a tragic tale in a way that could foster dialogue and engage our child in a discussion on our nation's history.

Daniel also felt he did not want to say too much and scare Sarah, especially since she had never been on a plane before so he omitted how the collapse of the towers actually happened. Interestingly, at the end of the story Sarah asked Daniel if for the next time he tells the story to include more information about the bad guys.

Today is a day that each of us will live differently.

With children especially, who are so impressionable and eager to learn, as parents we can help to educate and comfort them about this historical experience on our nation so they understand why their parents and others may be sad today.

Today is also a day to be incredibly thankful and appreciative for what we do have including the special people in our lives, for there are thousands of families who have experienced great loss.

To help commemorate this day in history we can engage our children in a dialogue about 9/11 either through discussion, arts and crafts, song, and writing.

Therefore, with writing as one of my creative outlets for self-expression, hence this blog I cherish, here are some haiku poems to remember and never forget.

Tragedy struck us
On September 11
Must never forget

Cherish family
And friends who are special to
Thankful for living

Share this history
Keep the memory alive
Time to remember

The World Trade Center
Had a life all of its own
Work, play, fun, and more

Hug our loved ones
Remember, never forget
Be sad, be thankful

Also, here are previous blog posts on Mommy's Point of View commemorating today if you would like to read back in history.



Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day: Thanks, Appreciation, and Reminder

Oops. I just posted a previous Labor Day blog from last year from Mommy's Point of View, and meant to share a new post today.

Sorry about that.

I'm a very tired mommy today recovering from a full weekend of plans with family and friends, yet with a good excuse. This year's Labor Day holiday is much sweeter indeed for us as it was this time last year when Daniel secured a new full-time job opportunity after four years of freelancing after losing his job after Sarah was born due to the volatile economy.

Today is a reminder of how thankful many of us are for the jobs we have that give us the opportunity to have the fun that we do on holidays, weekends, and other times. However, there are also millions of people who are out of work wishing they had jobs in this challenging economy and are instead anxiously trying to find work.

We all know the phrase, "take nothing for granted." We certainly do not.

This economy has indeed taught many of us that we need to be thankful for what we have and to appreciate it. Many times we need to shift our focus to different jobs or career paths to stay afloat or to grow.

So, on this Labor Day, I wish everyone impacted by this economy the strength to find within what matters most, and to embrace career opportunities that come our way and to consider new paths and directions to take care of our families.

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