Reason #294 why “playgroup” just ain’t happening

Yesterday was Shabbos Zachor.  So, the Things and I dropped in at the local synagogue to catch a reading.

Normally, I consider two little kids and a shul to be a really bad combination.  Let’s face it, kids tend to act, um, “charming” when we least wish them to be.  Fortunately, the Young Israel (I won’t say which one) has a little drop-in daycare playroom so that parents can keep their youngsters out of the sanctuary.  They even had a special reading of Zachor for all the little kids and those parents who chose to stay in the playroom with them. 

Just as the service was ending, Thing 2 woke up and wanted to eat.   I have basically given up on trying to convince Thing 2 of the merits of the occasional bottle.  So, I have to take her out to nurse her.  I was gone for about five minutes, and came back to face every parent’s worst nightmare.

As I re-enter the playroom, I see no sign of Thing 1.  So, I go to the woman in charge, and ask, “Excuse me, wher’s my kid?”

“Uh…good question!”  This is about the last thing I want to hear!  A part of me wanted to grab this idiot’s shoulders, shake her until her teeth chattered, and scream “YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE WATCHING HER!”  But, I didn’t.  First of all, I could tell that she was upset about misplacing my daughter.  For another, I have no desire to be charged with assault.

So, after putting out an APB, I set out to search.  Unfortunately, between the crowd leaving the building, and dragging Thing 2 in her carrier (like HELL I’m putting down the one I have left,) I’m a bit hindered.  Meanwhile, Builder tells me that I should have made sure that someone was watching her.  (Um, that’s kind of the point of the playroom, dear.).  Well, it turns out someone was watching her.  The other playroom supervisor watched my kid…watched her wander out!

Finally, after about 5-10 minutes, Builder comes back with Thing 1, happy as a bird and munching on candy.  She’d wandered to the shul’s basement.  I was so relieved to get her back!  On the way home, I told Builder, “If this is the way they run a railroad around here, I don’t even want to hear the word ‘playgroup’ again for a very long time!”

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Published in: on March 8, 2009 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

I am woman, hear me sing

Of all the halachas out there, only one really grates me.  I mean this one REALLY gets under my skin.  It’s not Shabbos, or kashrus, or covering hair (although I’m not sure why I should cover my hair with hair.  But OK, when in Rome.)

It’s kol isha.

I mention this because this week is Parshas Beshallach, aka Shabbos Shirah.  It;s called Shabbos Shirah because there are, between the parshah and the haftarah, three songs.  And, two of them happen to be sung by women!

We all read the story every day of the parting of the sea, and how Moshe Rabbeinu sand a victory song in praise of G-d actions.   But afterwards, Miriam picked up her tambourine and, not to be outdone by her brother, led all the women in song.  Shocking!  After all, women can’t sing in front of men! 

One explanation I heard for this was that the women all stood off to one side so the men wouldn’t hear them, and Miriam’s percussionary prowess drowned out their voices.  Since we know that there were 600,000 men, and most of them were probably married, that would mean there were about a half-million women.  Where were they standing in that open desert, Eretz Canaan?  Also, I don’t care if you have Peter Criss of KISS doing percussion, one tambourine can’t drown out a half-million voices in an open plain.  Another was that the Torah had not yet been given, so there was no prohibition of kol isha yet.  Really?  Then how did Yaakov Avinu know to say Shema when he was reunited with his son (Shema is not taught until Devarim chapter 6)?  What were Shem and Eber teaching at their tent yeshiva?  More importantly, how did Noach know which animals were kosher when he loaded up the ark before the Flood?

However, Miriam is not the only one rocking out in praise of Hashem.  In the haftarah, taken from Sefer Shoftim (Judges), we hear the story of Devorah’s victory against Sisera’s army, mostly made possible by Yael and her “stake” dinner., Afterwards, Devorah and Barak sing a little duet about Hashem’s triumph over evil.  W00t!  However, something tells me that this had to be a public act.  After all, if it made it Tanach, odds are she didn’t perform this little number in the closet.

Now we have two women, both of them righteous, both of them prophets, singing in public.  How then do we justify the halachah of kol isha?

Some say that a woman’s voice is so powerful, it can seduce a man.  After all, look at the myth of the Sirens.  Heck, just look at the old 900 lines.  However, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  From Frank Sinatra to the Jonas Brothers women and girls have gone crazy for a man’s voice.  Personally, I have chosen dating partners based solely on their voices twice in my life.  Neither experience ended particularly well.  (Builder’s voice is pretty average.  But he can still do a pretty fair “Askinu Seudasa.”)

Here’s an idea.  Let’s pass a new law that men can’t sing in front of women.  The only music permitted is instrumental.  That should leave everyone pretty well dissatisfied.

Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm  Comments (1)  

Boro Park WMD’s

Since our country invaded Iraq, we’ve heard a lot of talk about WMD’s.  Which countries have them?  Will they use them against us?  How prevalent are they?  Unfortunately, there are many WMD’s right here in our own backyards, capable of injuring or killing many innocent people.

The weapons in questions?  Carelessly driven vehicles.

One afternoon, I was out with the Queen Mom and Things 1 and 2 in their Graco Duo Glider.  We reached the intersection of 19th Avenue and 50th St., and prepared to cross.  Now, the intersection in question has a stop sign.  So we were totally unprepared for not one, not two, but five cars running that stop sign, one right after the other!  All five were driven by frum Jews.  To make matters worse, there is a school right on that corner.  Those drivers who ran that stop sign were putting every child and teacher in that school at risk.

I wish I could say that this is an isolated incident.  Unfortunately, it is not.  I have lost count of the number of times I have been almost hit by a driver running a stop sign, turning against a light, or drving while on a cell phone.  Most, if not all of them, were frum people!

To all drivers: Yes, I know this city is crowded.  Yes, I know that you’re in a hurry.  But road laws were not put in place to annoy you.  They are there to protect other drvers and pedestrians.  The old couple on Ocean Parkway that you nearly ran over could be your parents.  The mother with her baby carriage could be your sister (when it comes to bad driving, women are just as guilty as men).  The schoolchildren could be your own children.  Bad driving is not only unsafe, it is a major chillul Hashem.  Please remember the following

1. Stop signs are not suggestions.  Same goes for red lights.

2. The pedestrian in front of you is not surroundeed by two tons of steel and padding.  You are.  In case of an accident, the odds are slightly in your favor.  Please give them the right of way.

3. Unless you are in Hatzoloh or Shomrim, there is no excuse to be driving and talking on a cell phone.  Studies have shown the combination can cause more accidents than drinking and alcohol.  If you need to call someone, pull off the road.  If someone is calling you, let it go to voicemail.  (And, if you are in Hatzoloh, the only excuse is getting directions to save someone’s life.  I’d better see a siren on.)

4. I don’t really want to hear excuses about “the obnoxious guy behind you.”  Let him honk.  If he wants to run the stop sign, fine.  It’s his ticket.  Don’t let it be yours.

Yes, New York has a reputation for obnoxious drivers.  But frum Jews should not be among them.  We are not permitted to eat or dress like the goyim around us.  We shouldn’t have to drive like them.

Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 10:48 am  Leave a Comment