Judy's MIRTH & MEANING BLOG
Calls to divest from Israel continue to grow louder, mostly by people who wouldn’t know the truth about Israeli society or history if it hit them on the head with a drone. Some performing artists have cancelled gigs in Israel, “academics” have voted to shun Israeli colleagues, and some British stores have stopped carrying the immensely popular and environmentally friendly product SodaStream. Did those calling for this boycott stop to consider that boycotting SodaStream hurts Palestinians and Israeli Arabs most? The factory employs 500 Palestinians, 450 Arab citizens of Israel, but just 350 Jewish Israelis. Wait, that’s not “proportionate!”
I’ve always been skeptical about “love at first sight” stories. Instant attraction is one thing, but I never believed that true love, the real deal, could blossom the instant one person first set eyes on another. But then it happened to me.
Exciting news! My first and still-popular book, Carpool Tunnel Syndrome, is now back in publication, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle download. This nearly fact-free book offers wise and wacky parenting tricks based on my boots-on-the-ground, hamper-overflowing life with four kids, one husband, and assorted hamsters hiding behind the bookcase. As summer begins, moms and dads coping with eternal childhood ailments including “fat hair” and “sibling intolerance” must get copies for themselves and for friends, to help them survive the summer. This essay—one of my readers’ all-time favorites—is adapted from the book.
On any normal day, our incoming mail is predictable and boring: bills, junk advertisements, pre-approved credit card applications with large spending limits, and coupons for remodeling contractors. That’s why I was captivated immediately by the glossy color brochure with a vivid photograph of a bunch of guys in a raft, navigating frothy white water rapids. Their eyes were bugged out and mouths agape in that distinctive combination of terror and joy that men find so thrilling. Below the photo was this teaser, all in giant capital letters:
THIS COULD BE YOU!
Each year on the holiday of Shavuot (Pentacost), I love reading the Book of Ruth. Like so many of the narratives that fill Jewish history, the Book of Ruth is poignant, filled with drama, emotional honesty and risk-taking. I love the fact that on the holiday where Jews commemorate receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai and become a nation defined by a covenant with God, we read the saga about a convert. As my rabbi once said so aptly, it’s not enough for Jews to consider themselves the “Chosen people;” we also need to be the choosing people. Reading the Book of Ruth affirms this idea for me. Each day, I have the opportunity to choose my Jewishness anew in any number of ways: through honest prayer, study, giving charity, looking for an additional mitzvah to do. The most famous convert in history, Ruth, reminds me that I am not defined as much by where I have been as much as where I am going.
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