Well, if you want to find my recipe for Vegetable Soup with Chicken kneidalach, you'll have to go to the fabulous new CookingManager.com site. There are lots of other neat kitchen tips, ideas and recipes there as well.
So, Yom Kippur for me was not as successful shul-wise as Rosh Hashana was, but, on the bright side, fasting is a breeze when you take away nursing and pregnancy conditions (like that story of the man who brings all his animals into the house to get quiet...).
But I did bring the kids into shul for Kol Nidre and Neilah. In both cases, I felt it was inappropriate to bring food into the shul. Normally, I will bring some quiet snacks so they can sit for at least 30 minutes (Bamba bags aren't quiet.) But I felt it wasn't appropriate when people are fasting, especially at the end. Other mothers felt otherwise- there was a gaggle of kids in the back of the shul munching away at an assortment of snacks and they weren't toddlers. I made my 6 and 4 year old suffer through an hour of shul without snacks. I made sure they ate at home beforehand, so I knew they weren't hungry. I'm sure it was just hard for them to see others snacking away with abandon.
Now, I tried to make sure E, 15 month old, was fed too. However, two minutes after he ate his yogurt and banana bread, he started coughing (he has a bit of a lingering chesty cold) and sure enough, threw up everything he just ate! Nothing like cleaning vomit on Yom Kippur! (not to be outdone by cleaning an entire jar of Vaseline that he smeared on the floor and mirror as a morning activity).
So, am I just a meanie? Is it ok to bring kid snacks into shul on Yom Kippur?
I just made this up tonight and I think it could be great for a quick dessert for Shabbat or a boring weekday night (like tonight!)
1 apple, sliced
2-3 blue plums or 1 black plum
2 splashes of dry red wine (preferrably wine that you enjoy drinking; I used a nice Merlot)
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 shakes of cinnamon
Put all the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Give a stir. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir around and make sure the apples are face down in the wine. Cook for another 3-4 minutes till everything is soft.
Serves 1. You can multiply if you're feeling friendly.
Davening on Yamim Noraim with small children is always a challenge, to put it mildly. There are many configurations and arrangements one can make to accomodate both parents. Growing up, my large suburban shul always employed non-Jewish babysitters for small children and they had "Junior Congregation" for older kids, although I just remember wandering around with my friends those long hours till I was old enough to get into davening. But babysitting was a lifesaver for parents, since children sitting quietly or davening were welcomed into the "sanctuary" (American shul terms are so funny), but noisy kids running in and out were not (there were actually ushers standing at the doors to keep order).
Here in Israel, such luxury does not exist. When I lived in Jerusalem, my neighbor and I shared a secular babysitter on the Yamim Noraim, which was nice, but I felt funny about employing a Jewish person on the holiest days of the year. Although we still go back to J-m for Rosh Hashana, I don't live near that neighbor anymore, and that babysitter has moved on anyway.
Another arrangement is tag-team davening. This is where one parent goes to a very early (vatikin) minyan and then takes care of the kids while the second parent goes to daven. I did this on Shabbat this year, although usually it's the husband who does this, and the wife goes late. I went to a five am minyan on Shabbat morning and left in the middle of musaf so my husband could make a 9 am minyan. Although I didn't get the entire davening in, I, at least, got some quiet, alone davening time to myself. And the early morning walk through the streets of Jerusalem was truly heavenly, in every sense of the word. The minyan took place in the Ramban shul in Katamon, where they have just finished a room downstairs, but had to leave half of it unfinished since they found Byzantine-era ruins as they were excavating.
The problem with the tag-team is that it's hard for kids to feel like it's chag- I didn't take them to shul at all later in the morning, since there was no shofar blowing. I took them to the park, they played and then we came home. The park was packed and there were many mothers wandering around with machzorim in their hands, trying to keep an eye out for falling kids and davening at the same time. Now that my girls are 4 and 6, I do want them to get used to being in shul, get a sense of what it's about and slowly learn to sit for longer periods of time. You have to start somewhere!
So the next day, I davened Shacharit at home and took the kids in time for shofar blowing and musaf. I wasn't worried about the girls going in and out, since they are pretty well behaved and after some shushing, my little one learned not to run into shul shouting about what she needed. My 15 month old was going to be the problem. He stayed pretty well in my arms for the silent Amidah and enjoyed clapping and singing along for the first part of chazarat h'shatz. But then he got antsy, so I took him out. He wanted to go into his stroller, so I put him in. I tried wheeling him into shul, since there was room, but he wasn't interested anymore. I rocked him back and forth outside, and just as I was about to give up and go home, he fell asleep. A really really sound sleep. Score! I was able to wheel him in next to me and he slept through the entire musaf and shofar blowing. Aside from some small issues with the girls, I was actually able to daven the whole time, which I was really excited about. And the girls stayed in with me for short periods of time.
This shul is a young families shul, so there were lots of kids, and they had a short children's service and some toys and mini mitkanim. I was very pleased with how it worked out.
Yesterday we had a Yom Kef at work (Fun Day). I think American companies only do these types of things on Memorial Day, July 4 or Labor Day or any spring/summer Sunday. Since none of these holidays exist in Israel and there are no Sundays, per se, any day can be turned into Fun Day! (This one just happened to fall on Sunday, since, actually, our company is tied to schedule of US stock markets).
Last Yom Kef wasn't so kef for us. It involved a "Laughing Yoga" seminar. Now, I happen to love a good yoga class. This wasn't one of them. So many of us were a little wary of what was in store for us, since it was supposed to be a "surprise". Ug. I was dreading paintball. My heart sunk when we turned into our destination and the signed announced that this lovely activity was one of the place's offerings.
Turned out, no paintball. We were divided into teams (girls/boys/mixed) and sent on a kind of treasure hunt that involved completing Survivor-type challenges. You had to collect "diamonds" from each successfully performed challenge and the winner with the most diamonds got to open the "treasure chest" at the end of the 2 hours.
Since additional points were give for ruach, I broke out all my old nonsensical camp cheers ("Save your toilet paper cause we're gonna wipe you out!!!" ??) which put us over the top and clinched us the prize- chilled champagne, served with watermelon; NICE! We kindly shared with the losers.
Then we continued on to Binyamina winery for wine tasting, a tour and dinner. We all got nice and sloshed (a discussion of beet recipes at dinner turned into a giggle-fest) and the food was delish.
The best part of the day- this was my first afternoon off from the kids in a very very long time. Mazal, our trusty rent-a-Savta, picked them all up from gan and the bus stop, took them to the park, did homework, fed them dinner and put them to bed. I came home at 8:30 to a house of sleeping kids! It cost a pretty penny (it was seven hours of babysitting) but it was well worth it.
We were invited to friends for the whole Shabbat. We were supposed to go last week and both families forgot till Thursday night, by which time I had already made plans to send my oldest for a "Shabbat Pinuk" at the grandparents (pinuk= spoiling). So we rescheduled for this week.
Last night, I called my friend to ask what I can bring. (Actually, more to inform her I'm bringing carrot kugel, because that's what E eats reliably and roasted broccoli and cauliflower because they're in my fridge and need to be made). She sounded really preoccupied when I first spoke to her earlier in the evening.
When she called me back later to confim things, she told me the reason she'd been preoccupied was because she had just found out that her neighbor, mother of four, had committed suicide yesterday. Her oldest son, an 8th grader, found her hanging in the bathroom in the afternoon. Her daughter is in my friend's daughter's class. Her youngest just started first grade last week.
I was stunned. I literally had to sit down. I had never met this woman in my life, but news of her death felt like a punch in the stomach. All I could think of was her son, her children. How could she abandon them? My friend said there were never any indications of depression or abuse. No one knew anything.
Such a tragedy. After I caught my breath, I asked if we should still come for Shabbat. My friend assured me that it was still ok to come. I said ok and hung up. Then I called my husband, my mother, my friend. I had this immediate need to call and tell people, I don't know why. Then my mother pointed out that it might not be such a good idea to go and have my oldest, 6, exposed to possible discussion of this tragedy. She was right. A is very sensitive, as are most 6 year olds who are on the cusp of understanding such abstractions as death and love, but can't quite process them as older children and adolescents can.
So I called my friend back and suggested that maybe that it's not such a good idea to come. She said not to worry, she also didn't want her younger son, also around 6, to know and she was sure her daughter was mature enough not to talk about the event in front of him or any of the younger children. I was still hesitant. This poor girl, who is friends with the girl who just lost her mother: Why pressure her to repress her feelings with our presence? But my friend and her husband felt it was ok to come and so did my husband. I was outnumbered.
I hope it works out ok. I'm really not interested in discussing suicide with A. To this day, she still remembers my grandfather's death from a year ago, and she only met him 2-3 times in her life. She's not upset about it, but she still thinks about it and where he is and what happened to him.
Reading the above over, I realize I'm turning this immense tragedy into something that's all about me. I fully realize it has absolutely nothing to do with me. These poor children will suffer tremendously for the rest of their lives for no rational reason except undiagnosed or poorly treated mental illness. I've been thinking of them constantly today and I probably will for a while.
Update: We went and it actually turned out ok. My friend's daughter didn't go to the funeral, which made it much easier. Our kids played together from the minute we walked in erev Shabbat till they collapsed on the couch shortly before Shabbat ended and the topic was never discussed in front of the children. I think it probably helped that my friend and the woman who died weren't very close friends. I'm sure in that situation it would have been much different.
The daughter, N, went to visit her friend in the late afternoon and came home for seuda shlishit crying. My daughters were already asleep by then and her mother, father and I did our best to comfort her. N and her friend are 11. :(
I lost a night of sleep because E didn't like his pack and play sleeping arrangement but I'm glad we all went.