Posts in Susan’s Musings

The No-Musing Musing

January 23rd, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 14 comments

This may be the shortest Susan’s Musings I have yet written. I love writing and I love the links that my writing forge between us. I feel like I know those of you who frequently comment even though we have never met in person, and I am thrilled when some of you come up to me at events where my husband or I are speaking—or even at the airport.

I have often written about homemaking and building a family being a full-time-job. This week has served as a confirmation. On Sunday, I pulled out my recipe files and planned dinners for the week. Tonight will be the first one we are actually eating.

Our children are grown, and we are blessed to live near many of those adults and their own little ones. This week, while I did what I could, I also turned down a few requests for help and, after offering rushed good wishes, I wasn’t able to stay and celebrate with our nine-year-old birthday girl.

(more…)

She Said – He Said: A Tale of Lizzie and Bernie

January 15th, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 34 comments

Little Lizzie and Bernie had a playground spat.

“He said that I couldn’t  be president because I’m a girl.”

“Did not.”

“Did too.”

“Did not,”  and so on and so forth.

I’m sure some advice in the kindergarten teacher manual recommends how to deal with “he said”-“she said” arguments, but here’s a memo to these presumed grown-ups acting like overgrown toddlers.

You both sound ridiculous!

In the long-ago distant past when I was a child (it wasn’t actually that long ago, but the memory of college-educated American seems to be about ten-minutes-long these days) there was a popular riddle.

“A child is rushed into the operating room after being in a car accident.”

“The surgeon enters the operating room and exclaims, ‘I can’t operate. This is my son.’”

The surgeon is not the boy’s father. How can that be?

The incredibly elusive answer was that the surgeon was the child’s mother.

Have you heard that riddle being told lately? Neither have I. The instant response today would be, “Duh – it’s his mother.” (Or maybe, “Duh, it’s his stepmother or his other dad or….”) Female physicians are part and parcel of the landscape rather than an aberration. Someone should tell that to Senators Warren and Sanders.

(more…)

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Work We Go

January 9th, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 35 comments

For thirty years, Sue Shellenbarger has been writing the Work and Family column for the Wall Street Journal and I have always enjoyed reading her words. This past week, she penned a farewell article summing up what she sees as advances for working parents as well as areas where she sees problems looming.

I found the piece depressing. Perhaps the sidebar to the article helps to explain why. It highlighted four questions asked of mothers and fathers in a recent poll. They were asked if:

Being a working parent:

  • Makes it harder to advance in your job or career.
  • Has created a need to reduce your work hours.
  • Has made you feel you couldn’t give 100% at work.
  • Has caused you to turn down a promotion.

In each of these four questions, the percentage of mothers answering in the positive is larger than that of the fathers. This seems to present an underlying problem for Ms.Shellenbarger, revealing that things haven’t advanced as much as she would like over the past thirty years.

I come from a different perspective. I wouldn’t see it as an advance for the answers to be more 50/50. I actually would have liked to see the questions phrased differently.

(more…)

Worry Less About anti-Semitism

January 2nd, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 52 comments

Was the attack in Monsey, NY, on December 29, 2019, an anti-Semitic attack? How about the increasingly frequent attacks on Hasidic Jews, as happened recently in Jersey City or the numerous incidents that are taking place in Borough Park, NY, or the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, or the synagogue attack in Poway, California in April 2019?  The answer is both yes and no.

Yes, these are anti-Semitic attacks because the victims are easily identified as Jews and the words shouted and backgrounds of the attackers reveal that they chose their victims for this very reason. So why do I say that the answer is also no? That is what I intend explaining in this Musing. This is a difficult piece for me to write. There is absolutely no way in which I can treat the topic comprehensively.  Furthermore, there are many ways in which my words could inadvertently hurt. I intend this, ideally, as a starting point for discussion rather than a finished piece. I am writing it because America is in crisis. If the American experiment fails, Jews around the world will be among those who will suffer, but in no way will they be the only casualties. My hope is that my words—and those my husband added while editing—might clarify the struggle.

Anti-Semitism—which I’m defining as singling out Jewish people for hatred— has existed since at least the generation of Jacob and Esau. Jacob received the covenantal blessing and continued the spiritual line of Abraham and Isaac. His brother Esau and Esau’s descendants, especially grandson Amalek, swore enmity to their cousins. One of the reasons that anti-Semitism is such a phenomenon is because the Jewish people are eternal. Other people and nations eventually exit the stage of world history, but the Jews endure. We also spread out around the world as prophesied in Genesis 28:14. This means that Jews constantly maintain their presence as targets of hatred, year after year, decade after decade, century after century and millennia after millennia. Amalek too has a spiritual component, but this destructive identity rests on different people and different nations at different times.

(more…)

Faith and Faithlessness

December 26th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 14 comments

As a fan of all types of puzzles, I enjoy seeing both jigsaw puzzle pieces and words fall into place. The separate become connected and the random suddenly makes sense. I tend to follow the same steps when reading, looking for patterns that tie disparate topics together.

As such, when I recently read two disturbing articles within a few pages of each other in my morning paper, I viewed them as a pair rather than individually. The first relayed a distressing tale of women who, after testing for genes associated with a highly increased cancer risk, chose to have mastectomies and hysterectomies as a preventative measure. Increased data recently revealed that their risk was much lower than they had been told. It was too late to undo the emotional or physical pain they underwent and those whose decisions included having no more children had no way to reverse events.

The second article spoke of the growing estrangement from organized religion among the young. It featured families for whom Christmas always meant attending church and how they are coping when adult children wish to join their parents for the holidays, but not attend services with them.

What is the connection?

(more…)

The Candyland® Congress

December 19th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 22 comments

When trying  to evoke what a tough mother I had been, my children sometimes mention that I often ruthlessly defeated them when we played Candyland®, a game that appeals to the five-and-under crowd. Clearly, only the most heartless mother would fail to manipulate the cards allowing her toddler to jump ahead by drawing Queen Frostine.  A compassionate mom   whose child picked Plummy, a card necessitating going back almost all the way to the beginning, would lovingly say, “There, there, don’t worry. You can pick again.” I was not that mother.

It’s easy to divide  the country into liberals and conservatives, pro-2nd Amendment or gun seizers and larger government advocates vs. those who champion personal responsibility. But maybe the country also divides into those whose mothers (and teachers and coaches) always let them win and those whose mothers and mentors tolerated frustration and tears, teaching their children to withstand the disappointment of sometimes losing.

Too  many Americans  fall into the wrong category.  They believed the rhetoric telling them that Barack Obama’s election was a sea change for positive  transformation  and that those marching leftward would never lose an election again. They celebrated when the Judiciary forced anti-God morality on their fellow citizens. Surrendering the ability to think for themselves and ask questions, they only pay attention to that which (as my husband would say) massages them with warm butter. They cannot have fairly and squarely lost the 2016  election, because they are not supposed to ever lose. The world owes them happiness and respect.

To be honest, I sometimes did use sleight of hand to allow my children to win Candyland®. Often, the game just had to end so life could go on. But, I did not do that too often. Yes, the game helped teach counting and colors. More importantly, it taught sportsmanship and the idea that even after a crushing defeat, you don’t throw the cards across the room and have a tantrum, instead you pick up the pieces and try again.

A minor holiday? NO
A post-Biblical holiday? NO
A war in the past? NO
Get the real story!
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS: TRANSFORM YOUR 24/7 EXISTENCE INTO A 25/8 LIFE


Rabbi Lapin Download
S

A

L

E

Only $5 right now

No Growth Allowed

December 12th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 32 comments

On April 29, 1986, a catastrophic fire erupted in the main downtown Los Angeles Public Library. By the time the fire was under control, tens of  thousands of books had been destroyed, including irreplaceable historical documents. Many firefighters were injured fighting the blaze, and it remains the worst library fire in United States history.

Last week, in December 2019, I saw a video of a respected community leader pontificating foolishly and revealing that he had no idea of the seriousness of the question he was asked.  Watching the clip made me feel embarrassed for him and for the community he represents (of which I am a member).

What does a giant library fire have in common with a dignified leader slipping on a verbal banana peel? 

When the Los Angeles library burned in April 1986, my husband and I had five children under the age of five. The 29th of the month fell out during Passover when family and communal demands rocket sky-high. In addition to leading our flourishing Jewish congregation near the Los Angeles beachfront, my husband was running a business. We were busy.

Along with everything going on in our own lives, the frenzied 24-hour news cycle was not yet in existence. Since we did not watch television in our home, we would not have seen the library fire on the news.  Internet news sites were not to come into existence for nearly another decade, so while personal computers were around, they were not delivering a constant stream of information. Surely, we must have heard about the fire via radio or newspaper? Surely it had to have been a topic of conversation after synagogue services? Neither my husband nor I have any recollection of this inferno.

(more…)

Deadly Doctors and Murderous Aunts

December 4th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 25 comments

One time, two of our young daughters went to some friends’ home for a sleepover. For some inexplicable reason, these girls’ usually responsible parents decided that watching the 1944 black and white movie, Arsenic and Old Lace, was a suitable evening activity. Twenty years later, that supposed comedy, with its murderous elderly aunts, still gives our girls nightmares.

Laughter often springs from a contrast between reality and what we are seeing. Surely, Arsenic and Old Lace could only be seen as a comedy by viewers who did not actually suspect that their sweet, unassuming aunts had scores of bodies hidden in their basements. As young girls, our daughters apparently were not completely clear that the movie didn’t depict reality.

Motivated by a misplaced sense of compassion (not to mention insanity) the two sweet, loving aunts in the movie murder lonely old men who are visiting them. Seeing the film as humorous, even if it is dark humor, presupposes an understanding of the sanctity of life. That is one of the values that Americans used to share and increasingly don’t. 

Without that, Arsenic and Old Lace is no longer a comedy but a nightmare.

(more…)

A Tale of Two Bettys

November 29th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 15 comments

Some people impact the world by appearing on a public stage; others impact the world through the quiet example of how they live. This week, I along with hundreds of others, bid farewell to a diminutive giant of a woman whose everyday behavior inspired those privileged to know her to become better versions of themselves.

Betty Cahn and her husband, Joe grew up knowing that they were Jewish but, especially for Joe as a fifth-generation Reform Jew, largely ignorant of the full scope of what that meant. After Mr. Cahn’s service as an officer in the US Navy during World War II, he and his wife followed a trajectory similar to that of thousands of their peers, including raising their two children. However, at a time when most of their contemporaries began looking forward to retirement, Mr. and Mrs. Cahn were introduced to Torah Judaism. Invited by a friend to a class given by my father-in-law, they attended and loved it. “Coincidentally”, at the same time their grown son developed a newfound interest in his faith. Within a short time, Mr. and Mrs. Cahn stopped by the synagogue on the beach in Venice, California, that my husband founded together with Michael Medved. The Cahns added my husband’s weekly Bible class to their schedule and Mrs. Cahn joined my class for women as well. Within a short time, they were not only our students but our neighbors as they embraced Sabbath observance, keeping kosher and many other features of an authentic Jewish lifestyle.

(more…)

A Child’s Guide to Impeachment

November 20th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 45 comments

While I do try to keep up on politics, I have not followed any of the House impeachment hearings. Obviously, I haven’t written about them either.  At home I have a shelf of classic children’s stories that explains my nonchalance.

The Little Engine That Could tells the story of a train loaded with fruits and vegetables, toys and books that cannot make it up a steep mountain incline. Forced to stop, it pleads with other locomotives passing by for help so that the children on the other side of the mountain will have what they need. Along comes an arrogant train, a down-in-the-mouth train and others who refuse the small train’s supplications. Finally, a small engine comes along and is moved by the plight of the toy clowns and stuffed dolls. Repeating the mantra, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,” the engine’s dedication and devotion to the task at hand allow it, despite its small stature, to pull the  train over the mountain.

As praiseworthy as the train might be, and as much as I may have read the story countless  times in the hopes of teaching the importance of persistence to my children, people can be dedicated and devoted to wrong causes as well. Since election night 2016, many Democrats have remained single-minded in their resolution to get rid of  President Trump by means other than electoral. The facts, the truth, precedents  and reality have little to do with their constant impeachment mantra, “We think we can, we think we can, we think we can.”

(more…)

X