Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Held Over One More Day

For all those following Joey's story, he was held over today and will be taping only tomorrow. It was very nice for him to discover that he was with another frum contestant all day! They will both be taping only tomorrow.
Keep sending those good thoughts his way!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Got a Flu Shot Yesterday

I never realized before how often I tend to absent-mindedly open elevator doors with my shoulder and upper arm {ouch......}.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why Can't Queens College's School Color be Navy?

Or perhaps a nice hunter green?
Joey is working on his TV Debut outfit.
Now while the *official rules* state "business casual" as the required attire, leave it to my son to get permission to wear his school sweatshirt and his *signature* navy and orange boats (ahem) sneakers , because they "make a good story"........
Ok, I thought, I'm already used to him wearing those clown shoes, and how long will his feet be on camera anyway? Little did I know that the official school color for Queens College is BRIGHT RED.... my son is going on national television dressed like a giant TOMATO!!!!
Yep, that's my boy.......
(He did inform me that he'll be wearing a jacket and dress shirt if he gets held over for a second day more reason to hope he wins big.....)

UPDATE: Looks like Hashem loves Joey's Mom a bit also.... He just got an email from the producers of the show telling him that he may not wear the sweatshirt (logos, yada, yada...). OK everybody - EXHALE AND SMILE :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Memories of Chazzan Frankel

Today was the levayo for Chazzan Frankel.

As is our custom, since no tachanun is said today, there was no hesped (eulogy) given at his funeral. I thought I'd just share a few "personal" remembrances and thougths here:

  • Chazzan Frankel attended my parents-in-laws' wedding. He sang "Shir Hamaalos", as only he could, at Avram and my wedding. Every since Erica was a little girl, he would say to her, "Hurry up. I'm getting older and I want to sing Shir Hamaalos at your wedding". When Erica got engaged, he was one of the first people she called. He not only sang at HER wedding, but he also sang at Michael's wedding eight months later.

  • Chazzan Frankel never forgot a friend's birthday. This was probably the first year in my husband's adult memory that Chazzan Frankel did NOT take him out to lunch on his birthday.

  • Chanzzan Frankel had a TERRIFIC sense of humor!

And now for my thoughts/frustrations.....

Jen had a lot of questions last night, and the hardest ones for me to deal with were the ones that stemmed from what I feel is an overly extreme way of teaching certain ideals to our children in the yeshiva system, ESPECIALLY around yomim noro'im time....

She was beside herself that had she said more tehillim, he would still be alive. She felt a terrible personal responsibility for his death.

She also has been somehow taught by her teachers that only those COMPLETELY FREE OF SIN attain the best of Olam Habah and the "beinonim" hover somewhere else that has obviously not been painted too attractively by her teachers... a bitter pill to swallow for a little girl old enough to realize that none of us are perfect. I did my best to explain to her that Hashem is merciful and he creates us as imperfect creatures and he is far LESS judgemental than Acheinu Bnei Yisroel.

{Stepping off my soapbox now}

An interesting lesson to be learned from a story Chazzan Frankel told about his life:

Chazzan Frankel never ate at a public kiddush on Shabbos morning. Why? Because of something somebody said to him when he was about three years old. Something that tore at him for the next EIGHTY SIX years.

Chazzan Frankel lost his father when he was two years old. His mother, left with very limited means, opened a boarding house so that her family could stay afloat. CF went with his brother when he was about 3 or 4 to a kiddush on Shabbos morning and somebody looked down on him and said, "I know why you need to eat here... you don't get fed at home". CF never ate another thing at a kiddush. Regardless of that man's motiviation, it behooves us to realize that even the smallest of comments have the ability to stay with a person for the rest of his life.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Heavens Cried Today....

Torrents and buckets of heavenly tears rained down today, mingling with the tears of friends and neighbors as the soul of our dear Chazzan Robert (Bob) R. Frankel, returned to its Maker.
Chazzan Frankel was beloved by many - young AND old. He died just short of his 90th birthday and left behind a legacy of davening before the omud in our shul for OVER SIXTY YEARS, most recently on this past Shabbos Shuva.
My men came home from shul devastated and still crying. Jen came to me, tears welling up in her eyes, and asked me, "Is Daddy going to be OK?". I explained to her that Hashem gave us the capacity to FEEL and tears for a reason and only if her Daddy weren't crying, should she be worried if he was OK...

Boruch Dayan HaEmes....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thanks for the Good Wishes Juggling Frogs!

Juggling frogs just added a post entitled The Making of a Millionaire, about our Joey.
She has a writing style that is so enjoyable - tying up all loose ends as she formulates every post.
It might be interesting to note that we are very lucky to live in a society, even though we are in golus, that is understanding to the requirements of an Orthodox Jew.
Joey was speaking to his producer yesterday, prepping her among other things, to the fact that he is unable to have any physical contact with Meredith Vierra, the hostess of the show, and the producer told him that she herself is Jewish and has a cousin who is orthodox, so she understands him completely. She even had the sensitivity to offer him if he would be more comfortable, to switch to a male producer. He told her that this was unnecessary, but it was very thoughtful of her nonetheless.

Avram Wants to Read My Blog...

Here's an ironic thought. A public blog is a very personal thing.
My family knows about my blog but they seldom read it (probably because they feel they have to listen to me enough AS IT IS... why would they willingly seek out more discourse?!?!?)
I kind of prefer it this way. I can speak my mind - even about them :)
Avram has expressed interest in reading my blog. It makes me nervous because I really want him to like it. What if he thinks it's stupid and inane? (Joey actually came to me recently and told me he read my post about what I've learned from him and he was flattered... that made me happy).
We worry the most about what the people we love think.
So I told him to read it but to *be gentle*......

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cold Bodies - Warm Hearts

We spent the Shabbos at fellow blogger Foxtrot Charlie Glove's house.
Though the temperature may have dipped to levels that might be considered chilly for meals in the sukkah, we hardly noticed because the warmth in the household was so overwhelming.
The nicest thing I can say about Foxtrot's family is that her house feels "like home".
It was so nice to be the guest for once. No Julie McCoy for me this weekend - I got to ride the Love Boat!
I did learn one valuable lesson from Mother Fox, though. I too, am guily of "overapologizing" to my guests (the kitchen's a mess, this and that isn't quite right).... I'm seeing the other view as a guest that they don't even notice a quarter of the stuff we hostesses apologize for until we point it out to them!!! So let's all stop apologizing. Our houses are HOMES and that's just the way it should be.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An Apple a Day....

Look back at my old meal plans from previous years and for some "strange" reason, you'll see a preponderance of apple dishes appearing on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah.
Why is that, you ask?
Must be because we always seem to go APPLE PICKING on chol hamoed.
Well, today was no exception and 3/4 of a bushel later (that's three pecks folks!) I'm dragging out the recipe cards for cranberry apple crisp (warm and toasty for the sukkah!), apple pie, apple fritters, apple tart, apple sauce.....
{sigh....} I'm beginning to wish we'd gone blueberry picking.......

Friday, October 17, 2008

About as frequently as most people check their mezuzos....

.... I put down my spatula and we go away for Shabbos.
It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I really look forward to it.
(and considering that we live in an area that does not have an eruv and our sukkah is 1 1/2 blocks from our home - it's the perfect weekend!)
So am I spending the afternoon luxuriating in a tub of bubbles?
Not quite.
I'm using this time to brace myself and prepare for the "last days invasion". Michael and Chana will be back. Erica, Moshe and baby K will be returning from Toronto. Binyomin (a.k.a. Joseph 2.0) will be moving in as well. Lots 'n lots of food.... (sing in Dorie's "Finding Nemo" voice, "Just keep cooking, just keep cooking....").
Oh, and let's not forget the Simchas Torah party for 250 people. Those of you who have not located your melon ballers, you have until Monday to find them and show up and 90 Bennet to help out.

Lessons I'm Learning From My Son

We all know that children learn from their parents.
It's humbling to know that parents also learn from their children.
Joey has taught me to reach for the "unattainable" - to say "I think I can" and then see out and do whatever it takes to do just that.
When Joey was back in High School, Snapple was running a promotion whereby you collect their caps and you redeem them for prizes.... baseball caps, t-shirts and the like. Not my Joey. He noticed that for 3,000 caps you could win a ping pong table. Joey set out to do just that - not for himself, mind you - but for the boys' high school (mesivta) building (did I mention that my Joey is also very community minded? I like to think that is something that *he* learned from his parents {wink}). Now bear in mind, that our immediate family, except his grandmother, does not drink Snapple. We all told him it couldn't be done. Joey was not easily deterred. He was sure that if he explained to people that he wanted to do this wonderful thing for his school, people would participate and forfeit their own gratification to donate to the "greater good". And do you know what? HE DID! He actually collected over 3,000 bottle caps (how he got them shipped to the company for redemption is a whole other post.....) and installed a ping pong table in the mesivta building.
Joey has always said he was going to be on a national trivia game show (Jeopardy!, Who Wants to be a Millionaire....). And he set out to do just that, in a very constructive manner. He studied, he applied himself and he took charge and now he's getting to do that too.
Joey's winnings will iy"H go to law school, something I was never quite sure he was all that serious about. I'm learning though........ ;) When Joey sets his mind to something - WATCH OUT!
I like to think Joey succeeds because he believes in himself. I hope he never stops. He's an inspiration.

Monday, October 13, 2008

He's Gotta Go Late to Kansas City......

Gotta Love Joey.....
He just came out of his room with a long face on and says to me, "I'm gonna have to go late to Kansas City". Hmmmm, disappointing.... Joey's got a newspaper editor's convention in Kansas City at the end of this month that he's been very much looking forward to.
"How come?", I ask, in my most solicitous motherly voice.
"Umm, because I'M GONNA BE ON MILLIONAIRE that day!!!!!!!!".
Woooo Hoooooooo.
He deserves this - after two "calls" for yom tov dates - Hashem didn't let him down and he got and unprecedented third "call" to begin living his dream.
Stay tuned.......
Depending on how much money he wins, he's either gonna send his parents to Chicago or Israel.
The rest of the winnings after maaser will go to law school.

For those of you new to the story you can catch up on the entire saga here, here and here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Home Stretch....

I can't keep my eyes open anymore.
I MUST sleep tonight or I will miss out on half the fun of my *favorite* yom tov!
The meats are done. The soup is done. The kugels and quiches are cooling and a colorful array of produce in season is washed and just waiting to be sliced, diced and arranged into eye pleasing salads.
The guests are all lined up (and a few are still knocking at the door ;) ).
Since we city dwellers travel a short distance to our Sukkah , everything needs to be packed up and carted over in advance. Extra shnapps cups for drop-ins (Oh please do drop in! We love it!!), tons of cakes and the like for all the guys going to the various minyanim and bringing along friends for a healthy gooey and delicious breakfast kiddush, drinks of all shapes and sizes to drown a small country, challah boards, wine glasses (thanks Jenine for replacing our corkscrew!!!), gravy boats (yes, Avram is polishing it now....), bentchers and much much more. This year we get to drag down baby gear as well {three grins for Kayla!}. The only thing I want to shlep on yom tov is the hot food itself and then it's all hands on deck.
You know you guys with the sukkah right off the kitchen? In some ways I think you're missing out on some of the FUN... No "camping experience". No bragging rights for "burn your tongue" soup a full half hour after you've arrived at the sukkah. No singing in rounds (and sometimes dancing) with all the other people at the neighboring tables in the public sukkah. {no tittering at the 5 foot doggie that Gabriel sleeps with}. Sometimes doing things the hard way is really wonderful.
Chag Sameach to everybody.
And if you know where to find us, stop on by... (Thursday there'll be *surprise* birthday cake around 7:30pm)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Anybody have some steel wool - my pots are CRUSTED!!!

I didn't plan on posting today, but you know I'm a sucker for a "guest/entertaining" reference...
Anybody who hasn't checked out Treppenwitz's reprisal post dealing with Yom Kippur, is highly recommended to do so.
I'll be thinking about it a LOT tomorrow.
Gmar Tov again everybody.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sometimes I Kick Myself...

I used to be the kind of person who was obsessive about reading manuals before installing new appliances/electronics. Neurotically so. I even read the electrical warnings.
Well, as old age mellowed me or hubris set in, I have become markedly more lax in this regard. I'm still not sure how to properly use all the features of my new washer and air conditioner (yes, it was an expensive summer).
Today I was installing some new phones. Now I've installed many new phones in my day. How different could this little puny (read cheap) phone be? Well, I hooked it up and though it worked for calls and call waiting (oh one day I must write a diatribe post about my feelings regarding THAT lovely feature....), the caller ID didn't function. Did I do the SENSIBLE thing and consult the manual? NO! Not I! I can figure this out all by myself. So I wasted 10 minutes fiddling with the various settings, then another 15 minutes on the phone with tech support, arguing with her that my phone line did indeed have enough voltage to supply caller ID to all my phones and not just all but this new one, and telling her that I had no intention of unplugging all my other devices that were working perfectly well, just to try to get this one errant phone to behave. Only while listening to this overly polite yet completely ridiculous tech person, did I, in my boredom begin flipping through the manual. It is then that I realized, this little phone needs BATTERIES for the caller ID function to work. Now, my first instinct was to be annoyed that the tech person wasn't smart enough to tell me that from the get go, but then I remembered that I wasn't smart enough to look at the manual. Kind of humbling actually {sheepish grin}.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gmar Chasima Tova

May all of us have our decrees sealed for a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous new year that allows us to use all our bountiful blessings for good things.

On a lighter note: I thought I'd share my two favorite yom kippur quotes with you, both from the same year. It was the year I gave birth to Joey. Firstly, my ob/gyn comes in and thanks me for getting him out of his Rabbi's boring sermon (no he isn't Orthodox...) and following the birth he chuckled at me and bantered that NOW I had to fast. I informed him that in fact, I did not, having just given birth. He asked tongue in cheek, "Oh, does that dispensation carry over to the delivering physician as well?".

But a naive young intern's comments to me that day were even more amusing. As I was walking the halls to get things 'moving' a bit more quickly, we passed a worried looking intern who stopped me and said, "Pardon me, but isn't today your Holy Day?". When I responded in the affirmative, he continued, "But how can you give birth on your Holy Day???!?!?", to which I laughingly responded, "You're the doctor! Do you know how to stop it?" :)

I will say, it made for the most unusual kavannah during a neilah prayer I've ever experienced... One is usually solemn and pleading. All I could think of was - thank you thank you thank you thank you.

Here's wishing us all a year of only thank you thank you thank yous.................

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sometimes it takes a newcomer....

Everybody is welcome at our table. You don't have to daven in our shul - you don't have to agree with our hashkafah - (though a bit of guest etiquette is always appreciated). But unless you out and out disrespect us or otherwise set a supremely bad example for our children, you are always welcome in our home.

As a hostess though, I am often feeling my "inner Julie" (OK, if you are under "ahem" years of age you won't get the Julie McCoy, cruise director extraordinaire, reference... just wiki or google "Love Boat" and suffice it to say she was responsible for everybody's good time) and when the conversations get a bit controversial, I'm not very good at defending my position to some of our guests as strongly as I would like to.

You see, the shul we are proud members of strives to keep its traditions and minhagim alive by adhering to customs, practices and nusach that have survived many generations. It does set us apart from many of the other shuls around, that sort of "evolve" with the preferences of their members and don't adhere to any one set of minhagim. This Yom Tov, on second night, we had two lovely young guests at our table. One is a new member of our proud congregation and the other is a staunch supporter of one of the other neighborhood shuls. This second woman was saying how our shul was so closed minded because we try to adhere to these minhagim of old and she did not at all accept the concepts of newcomers to the shul following "minhag hamokom" or the concept that is brought down of "Al tifrosh min hatzibbur" (don't set yourself apart from the group). She kept insisting that heterogeneous was the way to be accepting, and that kindly and gently offering a newcomer the opportunity to "fit in" to our homogenous group (for instance by offering a tallis which is the minhag of all men in shul single or married...) is a manifestation of our "intolerance of differences" as she sees it. (Now in truth, you must know, that our shul's welcoming committee only offers visitors the opportunity to fit in... nothing is forced down anybody's throat, though a certain dress code is required for an aliyah, there is none for davening alone)

Well, our new member proudly said, "It doesn't sound like YOU are being very accepting! You want everybody to be like YOU (i.e. heterogeneous) and YOU are the one who is being closed-minded by not allowing us to be homogeneous in our own shul!". I thought about that and it was a "hmmmmm" moment for me. She was right! Why did it bother this other woman that we were not "heterogeneous just like her"? Doesn't that exhibit a form of homogeneity (in their heterogeneity) and isn't that EXACTLY what she was accusing us of?

Breaking News - Joey Update

The nice gentleman on Millionaire offered Joey a spot on..... drumroll.... you guessed it..... Shemini Atzeres......
Poor guy can't catch a break.
The nice gentleman said he would scrounge around for a "kosher" taping date, but it doesn't look hopeful people.......

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Joey's Kiddush Hashem - the sequel

OK, you're not gonna believe this....
After yom tov was over, Joey turns on his cellphone to find a voicemail from the Millionaire people. We might have another taping spot for you... call us back by 5pm tomorrow or forfeit your chance. Voicemail left when folks? You guessed it .... FIRST day yom tov.... sheesh.... poor guy....... he can't seem to catch a break.
He's gonna plead his case tomorrow morning but we're not hopeful.