10 Year Old Video of Me! My advice to my 17 year old self
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I was awakened at 7: It would have been easier to tell her to go back to sleep, or set her up with some toys to play with quietly in her bed. While her friends are obsessed with Barbies and dolls and princesses, my baby is obsessed with the Torah—primarily Moses and all the stories related to him.
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I was similarly enthralled with Jewish learning when I was a child. But in the Hasidic community where I was raised, girls were never encouraged or even allowed to learn Torah beyond a few carefully selected texts that we were taught in school. The Torah, we knew, was the most important thing in the world for an observant Jew, and yet my classmates and I had little knowledge or understanding of it, simply because we were girls.
School was never too difficult for me; I was smart, got good grades, and always asked questions. Growing up with an Israeli mother, I understood and spoke Hebrew fluently, and so I caught on quite quickly to whatever we were learning in traditional Hebrew, while most of this web page classmates struggled to understand the language.
When I was in the fifth grade, my class moved from the local school to an old, broken building about 20 minutes from our Hasidic community in Brooklyn.
There was no yard or rooftop where we could hang out or play ball during recess and lunch breaks, so we had to get creative. Some girls would play cards on their desks, others would just talk and eat their snacks, and still others would somehow manage a quick game of dodge ball in the narrow hallways.
I chose to read the Chumash—not in preparation for class or as homework, but because I found the text absolutely fascinating. Concepts like the Talmud, the Mishnah the Oral Lawand Tannaim and Amoraim the rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah were all foreign terms that I would never be taught in school; the only thing I knew how to study at that point was basic Chumash with Rashi and some Navi the second subdivision of the Hebrew Bible.
It was my dirty little secret. I remember placing my Chumash in front of a novel, hiding the cover, so that nobody would see, nobody would ask questions. The truth My 17 Year Old Daughter Is Hookup A Jew, I could barely even explain it to myself.
I mean, really, why would any normal girl learn Torah in her free time? Yet somehow, inexplicably, I thirsted for more. Later on that year, our school moved to a spacious new building, and it learn more here more enticing to spend recess outdoors with my friends.
My worn-out, red Chumash was relegated to the confinement of my locker and taken out only when class required it. Despite the many questions about the Bible that still nagged at me, I learned quickly that my teachers were not there to answer our questions or to teach us critical thinking, but rather to have us repeat mindless memorization about our history and traditions that we were never encouraged to understand. I was still read more by the mysterious text in the large, heavy Gemaras that lined our bookcases at home, but I had no way of understanding it myself.
The Talmud, unlike the Torah portions we were learning in school, is in Aramaic, and I had never even heard of Artscroll Gemaras which provide English translation. At home, my responsibilities included doing homework and then helping out around the house.
Dear Jennifer I want to congratulate you for having such a strong will to keep your Jewish identity in your life going. For thousands of years since the Jewish nation left ancient Egypt, we have outlived the many empires and movements that tried to destroy or subjugate us. It's a matter of personal choice, you don't have to be like anyone. It wasn't until I started exploring the Torah for myself, and really thinking about what it means to be a Jew and have faith and keep source I really knew what it meant for me to be a Jew and marry Jewish. However, there are still 3 problems.
I was the oldest, and until I was 12 years old I was also the only girl, and my mother relied on me heavily to help her out at home. I My 17 Year Old Daughter Is Hookup A Jew babysit, prepare baby bottles, help out with dinner, and clean the house. Friday afternoons found me cleaning the kitchen, washing the floors, doing the dishes, and setting the Shabbos table.
My three younger brothers, on the other hand, were encouraged to learn as much as possible: Torah, and later Talmud. Bitul Torah the term used to describe the importance of not wasting a single moment on anything aside from here Torah was greatly emphasized and demonstrated by my father, who, on any given evening, could be found poring over a seferstudying another chapter, another page of Gemara—learning, learning, always learning, always on a deadline to finish as much as possible.
I watched enviously as my father studied with my brothers, wishing he was studying with me. The one time I opened a Gemara in front of my mother and siblings, she raised her eyebrows in surprise while my brothers laughed. The underlying message I got was: And while I was certainly encouraged to do well in school source get good grades, my most important responsibilities were the domestic ones.
I remember one Sukkot in particular, when I was 13 or 14 years old.
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I noticed my father beaming at me the entire time, and later, after all the guests were gone, he told me how proud he was of me. I remember how good I felt hearing him say those words.
But it click also at that point that I realized that the only way I could ever make my father proud was by being the best homemaker that I could be.
And that made me sad that nothing else—not my intellect, nor my passion for knowledge—would ever make him proud of me. I never did get the opportunity to explore much Torah after that.
I thought back to my own dating experience. He shed tears over losing future Jewish souls. Second of all, I am certainly not judging this woman who must have been very lonely, and also most likely was never taught "if it's a test, you have to pass it", as we brought up our children. As I sit in the waiting room while my daughter is at her counseling appointment I feel glad that I am not alone. The other way around doesn't do that, but ok.
Instead of going to seminary right after high school like the rest of my classmates, I got married at 18, and my life became all about my husband, my job, cooking dinner, making Shabbos, and then pregnancy and a new baby. I heard about a co-ed Torah class in Manhattan My 17 Year Old Daughter Is Hookup A Jew by a prominent rebbetzin, and I attended twice a week religiously from the time I was 17 until I became pregnant with my daughter four years later. There were also the times that I set out to clean a bookshelf and would find myself sitting on the floor reading instead for hours at a time, surrounded by piles of books and a long-forgotten bottle of Windex.
We separated and ultimately divorced after five years, and my thoughts became consumed with a long and exhausting journey to get my life back on track. For a while, my desire to learn was pushed away to a place that I forgot even existed, rekindled only sporadically by an overheard Torah discussion, or an essay on a website.
But my curiosity about Torah was never extinguished. Now, three read article later, that desire has been reawakened, and my thirst for knowledge, for learning, for growth, has become somewhat overwhelming.
It began quite inconspicuously—first with an article, then another one, then a shiur on a website, and slowly but surely, I was interested enough to open and learn from seforim on My 17 Year Old Daughter Is Hookup A Jew own.
A large part of my newfound desire was being privy to many online conversations about Torah, discussions generated by very intelligent, knowledgeable men, and feeling like I missed out on an education.
The few women I did speak to who were genuinely interested in studying Gemara were lucky enough to have husbands to study with, and the rabbi I consulted with was far from encouraging. I had long stopped considering myself a part of my Hasidic community, and I knew that the only way I would ever get anywhere with my Torah study was by doing it myself. And so I did. I stocked up on seforim with English translations and started researching and learning online. The wealth of Torah study readily accessible on the Internet is astonishing, and I am taking full advantage.
My mornings now include podcasts and lectures in the please click for source, and my evenings are busy with exploring the texts I never got to experience before. Watching my own daughter begin to learn Torah has been another motivating factor in my rekindled quest for learning.
I want her to know that learning is empowering and that questions are wonderful.
And that she should keep on asking. A part of me hoped that maybe, maybe, after all this time, he would actually be proud of my desire to learn, even or perhaps especially as a busy single mom.
But I found out quickly that nothing had changed. You need to find someone to learn it with. When I tried asking him for the book once more that evening, he brushed me off with an excuse.
A woman cannot and should not learn Torah on her own. I knew that if it was one of my brothers who asked him for a sefermy father would have been thrilled and very proud.
But Judaism is supposed to be about growth, about studying the holy Torah.
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Women were at Mt. Sinai, too, right alongside the men. As a mother, I consider it is essential source my daughter never feel the shame that I experienced, that feeling of not being deemed worthy enough to study the same texts that the boys do. As my daughter gets older, I will make sure she gets the opportunities that I never had.
As long as she remains as curious and excited about Torah as she is now, we will learn together and grow together.
Shaindy Urman is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. She is also a contributing blogger to the Times of Israel and Kveller. Hasidic women Jewish women Talmud.