Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Am I pushing too hard?

Although my wife and I already order a rocking chair for my son for his birthday, I want to get him a present of my own - a pair of inline skates.

I will probably buy him one of those adjustable models that will accomodate his growing feet, and I will go cheap, of course. As I know if he doesn't like it, I will probably have to sell them back on e-Bay (or wait two years for his younger brother to try them :))

As an interesting aside, in addition to buying him protective gear, I will need to buy the exact same gear for myself - simply because I need to set a good example.

Tsunami Perspective and Israel.

As of this morning, most major news outlets are reporting that the death toll from the Tsunami in Souteast Asia is somewhere between 55-70,000 people.

I tried putting this in perspective last night. NFL playoff season is only a couple of weeks away. I can only begin to image myself going to one of those games looking around at the sea of people, and then trying to imagine that every single one of them is dead - it's unbelievable. Instead of a Wave in the stands a massive wave has claimed the lives of AT LEAST a stadium full of people - and that is still climbing.

Among the missing are between 500 and 1500 Israelis (conflicting reports) who were vacationing in the area. The Israeli government as well as other Israeli charities have sent tons of supplies, equipment, and personnel to the beleaguered countries - of course not all are welcome.

While Sri Lanka was more than willing to accept Israel's humanitarian aid and civilian personnel, they refused a contingent of 150 Israeli Military Medical and Recovery Personnel (as reported by Ha'aretz and the Wall Street Journal).

You'd think that a country that has lost tens of thousands of people, millions (if not billions) of dollars, and is lacking in food, supplies, equipment and disaster recovery expertise would put aside politics for a few weeks and let some of the world's best trauma personnel into their country.

I think that this is definitely putting salt into Sri Lanka's wounds.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Changing my mind

As I've made it clear on this blog, we were looking at two schools for my son. I feel that the signs he is currently displaying of having an inquisitive mind, a lack of zitsfleisch and a willingness to let his mind go beyond the normal confines of the standard box that most kids are limited by, lead me to believe that he would be better served in one of the two schools. Of course, while I feel that this school's grade-school approach would be better for him, I also see that the other school has a much better pre-school program. Their program is based on the montessori method - which I will not pretend that I know too much about - kids can pick the stations at which to play in, but are then bound by rules when they get there.

I wondered all weekend if this is a good or a bad thing. In particular, for our son, this is somewhat of a good thing. He still has the freedom to express, experiment and play the way he wants to, yet at the same time, he needs to follow certain guidelines as he does so. I have started to think that this approach is better for him. That at the same time where he has the ability to explore his creativity and self-guide himself, he still needs to find it in the roots of structure.

I guess, I am realizing from my professional world that it is wonderful to be able to think outside of the box, but it needs to be done with the understanding that sometimes whatever thinking we do there needs to be able to get back inside of the box when we are done.

This is tougher than I thought - I don't know which is an easier decision - picking from amongst the lesser of two evils, or deciding between two first-rate schools.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

School Interviews - 1 down, 1 to go

Yesterday, Faigy, Mitch and I went to visit one of the two schools we are considering for next year. This school actually has your child interviewed by the school pyschologist. My guess is that she looks to see if the child is at the cognitive and motor-skill level they'd expect of someome his or her age. Mitch did fine, however it was evident, that he is the kind of child that likes to do his own thing.

She first wanted to see if he could Identify his colors - she gave him a pack of crayons to draw with and asked him to take out the purple one. His response? 'No, I want the green one'. He took the crayons out one by one naming the colors. All told, I think he did okay. She asked us if he needed to be the one running the show, which, we don't think is true - even if his friends (most of whom are just a bit younger than him) follow his lead some of the time. But it was definitely more evident yesterday than ever before that this child is at least partially a chip off the old nonconformist block. I know that this school will definitely accomodate him and help him more than most of the schools I went to. The question is, how is the other school in comparison? And which will we choose?

Well, I guess we'll find out next week when we go visit them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

What's he going to look like?

Mitch is getting his hair cut in 5 weeks. I've gotten so used to the way he looks with his long flowing hair, that as much of a pain as it is to comb, clean, and manage, I am most definitely going to miss it. It's like I will be getting a whole different Mitch after all is said and done.

I am thinking of making one of those big photo books with pictures of him in his long-haired splendor. This way, I can look back fondly at the long-haired days.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Am I sending mixed messages?

Usually on Friday nights in the winter, I take my older son, Mitch, to Shul with me. However, instead of sitting inside the main sanctuary, we usually find ourselves, along with many of his toddler buddies and their dads, in the playroom. There is a running joke amongst us dads that we should have a second service in the playroom, just so that we can join in too.

I wonder if this is sending a mixed message. Sure he knows we go to shul Friday night, and sure he knows that Daddy davens, but in his mind he sees it as a place to play. Granted he isn't 3 yet, so maybe I am a bit ahead of myself.

I feel that it is definitely a good thing that he looks forward to going to shul with daddy on Friday nights. And I guess that it is better for him to want to go to shul and play, then to not want to go to shul at all - i.e. that Shul is significantly kid-friendly for him to want to go.

Last week, I managed to get him in to the main sanctuary for Lecha Dodi. It was being sung to a pretty rousing tune and he danced through the whole thing. I guess I am doing something right after all.

What;s with the domain name?

I'm sure that many of you are wondering why on earth the domain name of this site is ''? Obviously would have been a more obvious, albeit longer choice, but I originally got this domain for a whole other project - which may or may not ever come to fruition.

I am using it for this blog for two main reasons:
- As a young Orthodox Jewish Professional with small kids, it seems that any Shabbat meal conversation involving people at a similar stage in life revolves around the topic of what one friend calls - 'Jewish Birth Control' - i.e. the high cost of a Jewish Education.

- I am a firm believer in the fact that education, especially the religious kind, starts at the home. A brightest child in the best school will not be able to reach his or her fullest potential without positive reinforement in the home. That being said, my thoughts are in effect paying my kids tuition in the sense that they are making their religious education worthwhile, as I am backing up what is preached in school with my actions.

Of course, this domain also fit better than any of the others I own - imagine I put this on

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Somehow, when we weren't looking, time just zipped by, and Mitch is turning 3. When he was born Faigy and I agreed that we would observe the custom of not cutting his hair until he turned three. As you can only imagine, we are constantly trying to explain that our long-haired child, is in fact, a boy.

At three, he will get his first haircut, and will be asked to recite the Aleph-Bet (the Hebrew Alphabet). He will also receive a Yarmulka (which he wears ocassionally now) and his first pair of Tzitzit - ritual fringes. In Yiddish, this ceremony is called an Upsherin.

On the one hand, I am looking forward to it. On the other, I am having a hard time dealing with what my son might look like with a short haircut. I can't believe how grown-up he's become from just a few short months ago.

For kicks, I put up an Upsherin Counter on his website -

Mitch and His Menorah

Today is the second day of Hanukah. Before the holiday started, we debated if we were going to let Mitch, our not-quite-three year old son, light his own Menorah. At first, we decided that we werejust going to let him help me with mine, and on the first night he did just that. But last night, after talking to some friends, we decided to let him light his own. He was ecstatic. Maybe it was his gift of a chanukah book, or the colored candles, or something totally different, but he put on his Yarmulka without the usual fuss, and lit his menorah (with Daddy's help of course).

As I stood their watching the light of the two Menorahs burning in our front window, I couldn't help but think of two things:

1- Our little boy is growing up
2- How amazing it is that a tradition of over millenia has just been handed down to yet another generation.

This morning, he found the box of candles in the Kitchen, and picked out candles for tonight and stuck them in his menorah. He then told me he was ready and wanted to light.

If only I can get him to love religion this much for the next 117 chanukas or so.