Making Challah Teaches Lessons about Life


Challah and how it is made has always had a mystique to me. Raised in a non-observant Jewish household, I never saw anyone make the golden, braided bread. As an adult, I bought it often, figuring baking a loaf of challah was beyond my reach. This year, as a secular New Year’s resolution, I made a vow I had avoided for years: I would learn how to make challah.

The New Year is just a few months old, and I have made challah, not once, but twice. Making challah, I now … Continue reading

Night Without Ritual Has Shabbat Feel

>No candles were lit. No kiddush was chanted. No challah was on a table. And yet last Friday night still felt a lot like Shabbat.

My family met a friend and her 4-year-old daughter for a picnic in downtown Lexington and heard a free children’s music concert. Maybe Shabbat can be about more than ritual. It was a night about simply being together. Continue reading

Learning to Pray is Lifelong Challenge


Some people seem so comfortable at praying. They shut their eyes and recite words praising God and fold into their own private space. I am still learning how to pray.

I celebrated my adult bat mitzvah four years ago and led others in the traditional prayers of a Shabbat morning service. I did not stumble over the Hebrew, and yet my adrenalin rush stemmed not so much from the words of the prayer. It came from the people around me. It came from the sense of community.

Passover Part 2: Seder Becomes Playtime


Simon squirmed in his high chair as the Seder began. Then, he grabbed forks and spoons and clanged them together. Chagrined, I looked over at him. The woman next to me whispered not to worry. “You shall tell your children,” she reminded me. The Hagaddah, after all, urges us to tell the story of Jews’ freedom from slavery to our children.

But I sat there wondering what constitutes “telling” our children if they refuse to listen.

No gifts: We tried a Hanukkah idea at a birthday party


If you check out today’s Globe magazine, you will see my article about the no-gifts policy we tried at our son’s second birthday party this year. There’s a story behind the story. Urging our guests not to bring gifts to Simon’s birthday party was an extension of something we tried at Hanukkah. We gave our son a dreidel each night, and nothing else. My husband and I gave each other nothing.

Our plan in the years to come is to continue to make Hanukkah a gift-less holiday. This is a … Continue reading