Friday, November 2, 2012

Teach Your Children Well

Thanks, David Crosby, Steven Stills and Graham Nash for that reminder.  My latest and greatest fear?  Child predators.  I can't shake the infamous Diff'rent Strokes molestation episode from my childhood.

Why, then, you might ask would I slap my sweet children all over the Internet with yesterday's post that I might consider posting a video a day of them on Whole Phamily?

Because I'm worried not about the Internet psychos but the folks we already know. We all know by now that kids are often abused from within - the pervy family friend, coach, teacher or uncle.  Or, in this case, the Bicycle Man.

In the past few years, numerous stories have surfaced within the Jewish community, mostly in New York that I have heard, and my thought was:  what are people doing to spread awareness among Philly frum Jews?  By now, we have heard the plights of Chaim Levin, Deborah Feldman (both of whom were distanced from Yiddishkeit and were sexually abused)  and The Agudah's attempts to downplay any mention.   I applaud the work of Rabbi Mark Dratch and Jsafe (Rabbi Dratch was my first teacher of gemara - excellent at that - we learned Baba Mitziah with Cabbage Patch Dolls as the example); indeed there are those who are addressing the issue.  (btw I realize a lot of my info comes from the NYTimes and therefore I have a wacky, warped view of the world especially when it comes to sleazy men who touch innocent children's bodies and covet pictures of them from disgusting, pathetic child porn sites that, baruch hashem, I have never laid eyes on.  Yuck.  Big yucky stuff.  Can't I just get cozy with a bowl of split pea soup and flanken under my flannel sheets?).

Since Philly frum is a traditionally a heavily Agudah-influenced community (I have zero desire for my sons to study at the Talmudical Yeshiva of America, the  "Harvard of yeshivas," as it were.  Considering they are a legacy at the Harvard of Harvards, they have a better chance of getting in the Cambridge, Massachussetts institution anyway), my concerns aren't unfounded.  The Agudah pushes controversial issues like this under the rug, encourages its community to follow the herd and erect higher fences behind which to live as frum.  Now there are more "modern" people here, and you know what happens then:  people have ideas.  Uh-oh, time to get thee to Pier 1 Imports for a larger rug.  (Note:  I know of zero cases and I hope and pray that no kids are getting abused or have gotten abused in the Philadelphia frum world, I'm just saying it is a statistical possibility.  Just sayin'.)

(By the way, I gotta say I love that line that my husband went to the Harvard of Harvards.  I love that I daven for the day my husband will learn at the Yale of yeshivas in Israel, or, chus v'shalom, the Princeton of Yeshivas.  Perhaps the Gush qualifies?  I imagine he will seek out the revered and very learned Rabbi Daniel Sperber, a Talmud chacham in his own right.  Or perhaps Rabbi Weiss-HaLivni.  Or perhaps he will find a chavrusa  in mamaloshen in Meah Shearim, which would really float Stango's boat!   Please god one day we will make it, and it's too bad he'll never get to the Harvard of Yeshivas but they wouldn't want him anyway because his wife is too much of a rabble-rouser.  Anyone reading this drek, anyway?)

Which leads me to a wonderful article which appeared last week by Lenore Skenazy where she recommends her always-level headed approach.  Her central idea is to teach our children to:

Recognize it:  no one can touch you where your bathing suit covers
Resist it:  Scream.  Fight.  Run
Report it (and that we will never be upset if they do)

Leave it to Lenore to put it all in kids have a greater risk of (god forbid) dying in a car crash than being sexually abused.  Reminds me of our pediatrician's similiar thought process that kids have greater risk of dying in a car crash than getting chicken pox (we still gave varicella because PA law requires it).

Easier said than done, and I'm still worried, but I will heed CSN's advice and remind myself that as a parent I am my children's most important teacher.  Instead of writing to rabbis and community leaders to be aware of the issue of child predators and what are you doing in your Orthodox environments to protect the kids, (I wasted a whole morning and afternoon collating, formatting and putting together the 10-page contact list of Philadelphia rabbis and shul executive directors), I will worry about my own daled amot and attempt to teach my own children well.

Glad to "whisper words of wisdom" and just let this issue be  (see below).  And if you don't like "Mother Mary" just substitute in your own mind the words "Mother Miriam".  Since this blog is an Internet whisper anyway.  Though I do think my ideas are full of wisdom.  Consider that, talmudic scholars.  That includes you, Rabbi Kaminetsky (no implications, again, however the organizations with which you align repeatedly seem, at least to my innocent bystander eye, to want to not let the cat out of the bag).

Oh, I forgot to mention:

GOOD SHABBES!    Shabbat shalom.  May it be gevaldik, leibidik, the holiest, the most menuchadik, any -dik (just don't tell that to the child molester) sabbath that you have ever experienced.  May it give you a taste of m'ayn olam haba.  Yeah, right, all that jazz.

Perhaps I can learn from this week's parsha Va'era where Abraham our forefather, Avraham Avinu, had the ultimate commitment to and belief in God, when Hashem said jump, Avraham said, "how high?" and was about to sacrifice his own son just because the holy one above said said.  Maybe I should just have more faith that this will all be ok and my children will be protected and safe and good and even if they don't get into their father's alma mater that is ok, too (trust me, the legacy comment earlier was somewhat's not like we're blue bloods or have a long legacy, and don't they even say now that legacy doesn't really do diddily squat anyway, and yes my oldest is is 4th grade and no I am not a helicopter parent and I disdain all of the homework out there these days and tell my children don't do it all if it's too much).

They could always do what I did, anyway, which is marry in to the ivy league, to which I honestly do believe, what is the BFD?  In all honesty to tell you the truth I prefer what James Altucher believes which is college ain't that great anyway.  Make a buck and be able to pay your bills (those are my words).

I just hope they never get molested.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Whole Phamily Features Her Family!

Original content is always coveted...

till now Whole Phamily has been my original ideas, connections, etc...

maybe that's not working.

How about featuring short videos of my family?  Who the heck is interested in that?  I mean, my children's art teacher *did* recently write how wonderful they all are...

And for those of you who didn't catch the "gum gum" reference...
(note;  poor quality, likely not fer realz on YouTube due to copyright issues...

Rachie, I Got a Feelin' We Ain't in Kansas Anymore

This lovely catalog arrived at my Philadelphia suburb door today.  More than a year out of New York City living, and I have never seen Stanley and Saul Zabar looking so geshmak.

From the cover of the Zabars catalog

With all of the stories today of the post-Sandy hard times people are having getting around via mass transit (what?  you're riding around in a Lincoln Town Car?  Escalade?  fuhgetaboutit), I admit I am glad to live in relative ease on the Main Line.  I told my own sister, Reba, just to stay home and don't even consider her 4 hour commute (yes, one-way) from Brooklyn to the Bronx for her pre-grad school course at Lehman College today.

Still, I miss The Big Apple tremendously, and the arrival of this piece of mail from the iconic New York food store brought a huge smile to my face.  I can almost smell the freshly-sliced Jarlsberg.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Times They Are a Changin'

Just read that Fire Island was devasted.  No storm since 1938 has caused more damage than Sandy.  I can't help but think that this hurricane is a reminder that we are in a period of change.  Call it climate change, call it whatever you want.  The times, they are a changin'.

Here is Stango doing a Whole Phamily cover of that iconic tune when we were apple picking a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

An industrious Gen-Z-er is liveblogging the hurricane here, where I read a post that Dylan's tune Hurricane is the best hurricane song ever.  Except that it is a protest song, nothing to do with the weather.

Still, check it out. And remember how good we've got it when put in perspective.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thank you, John Travolta.

In all seriousness, keep safe and sound as we weather what Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy stated tonight as "the largest threat to human life our state has experienced in anyone's lifetime."  I hope and pray for my family who lives there, as well as for everyone in the vicinity of Hurricane Sandy.

And now it's time for some Greased Lightenin'.