According to statistics, 1 in 2 pregnancies in America are unplanned. Millions of women, from the youngest teens to ladies in their late 40’s, have to face this difficult situation. For unmarried women, the temptation to end their pregnancy can be incredibly strong, particularly if they’re in school, not financially stable, have an unsupportive partner, and/or lack family approval.
The Jewish community, like every other, deals with it, though it’s not often talked about. There is so much fear, guilt, shame, and judgment that many women are afraid to reach out, and those who want to, may not know where to go. An amazing organization called In Shifra’s Arms is a priceless resource.
They’re a non-partisan social service organization, with members from every stream of Judaism—secular, Orthodox, and everything in-between. They provide free, confidential counseling. For those who are currently pregnant and want to keep their babies, they can offer care packages, financial assistance, and local connections—things these moms need and deserve! For those who want to have—or already had—an abortion, they provide emotional and spiritual care.
I’ve personally known women who went both routes, with various outcomes and various levels of regret. None of them would say it was an easy decision. This topic is so emotional, with no simple answers, and I, like most folks, agonize over it.
While I believe that life begins at conception, viability certainly does not and I do think abortion within the first trimester should be legal. (After that, only in a dire emergency.) The Torah does allow abortion, but it’s never encouraged, just something that is viewed as an unfortunate reality of human existence in this troubled world.
If a lady feels so incredibly desperate that her only choice is an abortion, I would never, ever judge her, nor should anyone else. Usually it’s fear and isolation that caused her to make that choice. What bothers me is the enormous misinformation campaign that goes on; both the pro-life and pro-choice groups do it equally. Anyone who claims that abortion is a good thing is a lunatic or a total liar. Abortion is the loss of life—for the baby always and quite often, it’s an emotional death for the mother. Women who go through the hellish ordeal of abortion need compassion, never condemnation.
The choice to end or continue an unwanted pregnancy may be the most heartbreaking decision any woman could ever make. Nobody should have to do it alone. Talk it out, with a non-judgmental person, and be sure that you’re informed. And if you made a choice long ago that you regret now, there is hope and healing for that, too.
Because this topic is so sensitive, anonymous comments are fine, but I am begging everyone to be understanding and sympathetic. Different opinions are ok, but I will trash stuff that is intentionally cruel.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller—who is a lovely lady I met through Twitter—created The Thin Edge of the Wedge based on firsthand accounts of survivors and saviors who were there and lived to tell the truth. Originally published in the 70’s as a newspaper article, she then turned it into a one-act play.
Her goal is to have the play performed or read simultaneously around the world, by as many people as possible. (Only 4 actors are needed and no scenery is required, so don’t think this is overly complicated.) This would be a wonderful activity for High School, Hebrew School and College students, in addition to temples and community centers. Holocaust education is sorely needed!
Anyone who’s interested, can contact her via her website and she will send you the script.
The 75-year-old Torah originally resided in a Baltimore temple that has since disbanded. One of its former members, Michael Steininger, purchased it with the hope of dedicating it to his late brother, Martin, who served in Afghanistan and died at the age of 38.
Fixing the Torah would require considerable skill that came at a high cost. Help was provided by Beis Yisroel Torah Gemach, which repairs and lends Torahs to Chabad emissaries around the the world. (A “Gemach” is a free loan fund that assists Jews, financially and/or materially.)
Steininger was connected with Rabbi Tenenbaum, who is chaplain of the Maryland Defense Force. He provides spiritual guidance to Jewish military members, police officers, and firefighters.
In what can only be described as an amazing coincidence, Rabbi Tenenbaum requested a Torah at the same time that Steininger inquired about giving one. (Talk about a perfect match.)
The Torah that was inspired by Martin Steininger’s memory, and was entrusted to Rabbi Tenenbaum’s care, was used for the first time on Rosh Hashanah.
Stories like these make me so happy and show how divine intervention actually works. Most miracles, after all, are subtle, and if we don’t pay attention, they’re easily overlooked. Just beautiful!
I often say that I learn more from this blog than anyone else because my readers are so well informed. A very kind lady named Amie sent me an article today that was so shocking, so offensive, I thought it might’ve been parody, of the anti-Semitic variety.
“It brings me a lot of joy to see and experience the ways in which Jewish tradition and Pagan tradition overlap and compliment one another,” she strangely claims, then describes an “apple craft” which involves cutting an apple to reveal a pentacle to “acknowledge that apples are magic, just like you and just like me.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never, ever seen a pentacle inside of an apple, nor have I ever considered an apple to be magical. That is just downright odd!
Things get even weirder, as she describes a so-called “New Moon Ritual” that involves Tarot cards—something which is explicitly forbidden in the Torah, along with fortune tellers, oracles, soothsayers, psychics, etc.
Let’s be clear: If someone is practicing witchcraft, they can not simultaneously practice Judaism.
Judaism, rightfully so, condemns all forms of witchcraft because it is ungodly, unsafe, and sick. If someone chooses those beliefs, I don’t think they should be persecuted or harmed, not at all, but they are mentally disturbed and need our help and compassion.
“Jewitches have a strong sense of Jewish identity but also practice magic, cast spells and tend to identify with “goddess-directed” worship. Their beliefs run the gamut from strict monotheists to those who worship a pantheon of goddesses.
“There are two main schools of Jewitchery. On one end are “Jewish witches,” Jewish women who practice Wicca or another form of neo-pagan religion, combining their identity and spirituality practice with “Jewishness,” if not actual Judaism. On the other end of the continuum are “witchy Jews,” Jewish women who practice a form of normative Judaism and infuse it with a magical perspective gleaned from the pagan world.”
Whatever these ladies call themselves, they are all, 100% of them, not following Jewish law, which only recognizes one God, and rejects all forms of paganism or Goddess worship.
Maybe some folks think I’m overacting and it’s not a big deal, but I beg to differ. The occult has attracted troubled souls for centuries and it hurts those who are the most vulnerable, the most in need of God’s love and God’s word. I am totally against anything that separates people from that. We all need God, not false gods.
I’m willing to accept a wide range of philosophies and lifestyles, but not ones that are directly encouraging people to harm themselves; most definitely, it harms spiritually and a lot of times, it also hurts in a physical way.
For most, witchcraft is only a passing phase, thankfully, but it can do a lot of damage during its height—damage to the individual and damage to society. There is nothing good about witchcraft and anytime we see it, we must condemn it.
With most everyone leading crazy/busy lives, finding time for Bible reading can seem like a luxury. It’s similar to exercise—people buy gym memberships but never visit, and they own Bibles, but rarely open them, yet we know that both are necessary for our physical and mental health.
Where and how to start, especially if you’ve never done it, can seem daunting indeed. After all, it’s a very long book, with a lot of complicated information, that’s hard to analyze and digest.
Sure, you can open the first page and begin with Genesis. There is wrong with that approach, however, it may go no further. (I know multiple people who have attempted Genesis repeatedly but never progressed.)
Personally, I think Proverbs is the best place to start, for two reasons:
1. Proverbs is uniquely suited for women
2. Proverbs has 31 chapters
By reading only 1 chapter per day, which is not a huge burden, you can finish it completely in one month. These chapters are short and shouldn’t require more than 15 minutes daily, even for the slowest readers. Fast readers can do it in 5 minutes.
Why is Proverbs important? This article sums it up so well. Boiled down to its most basic essence, Proverbs teaches us how to live the best life. It offers wisdom, warnings, and describes the ideal woman (sometimes referred to literally as the “Proverbs 31 Woman” because of the corresponding verse.) I truly love Proverbs because it speaks to a woman’s heart on a very deep level.
I know you’re busy; I’m busy too, but there is nothing more important than growing spiritually and getting peace, strength and contentment from the Word of God. Please find the time. It’s so worth it!
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has inspired another dimwit to run for office as a Democratic Socialist. Julia Salazar, who is 27-years-old and wants to be a New York State Senator, seems to be a carbon copy of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, especially when it comes to lying. Her wildest claims involve being Jewish—both in practice and in heritage.
Unfortunately for Ms. Salazar, multiple sources have come forward to set the record straight, catching her in numerous outright lies and distortions about her background, her family, and her faith.
“…in her early 20s, while attending Columbia University, she served as president of Columbia Right to Life, the campus’ leading anti-abortion group; became heavily involved in the right-leaning Christians United for Israel; and appeared on the online show of Glenn Beck, as a participant in a student training program sponsored by CUFI. One acquaintance who knew Salazar during her time as a CUFI activist said that she wasn’t shy about her Christian faith, dropping the occasional ‘praise Jesus’ into casual conversation.”
Within the space of only two years, Salazar had completely changed politically and began presenting herself as a left-wing Jew, an anti-Zionist, and Pro-BDS.
She claims to have had a Reform conversion in 2012, yet no Rabbi will confirm it, no conversion ceremony ever took place, and she has no conversion certificate—all of which is standard for any legit conversion.
With her present affiliation to Judaism proven sketchy at best, she then claimed to be of Sephardic heritage, on her Father’s side. There’s only one problem: her own brother denied it, stating: “Nobody in our immediate family is Jewish.”
So she didn’t grow up Jewish, she didn’t practice Judaism as a young adult, and now, when it’s ever-so-convenient to be Jewish while running in New York State, she’s magically Jewish!
And, if that wasn’t enough, she even lied about being an immigrant, during an interview with a Socialist magazine. “My family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia when I was a baby,” was the claim.
But she was born in Miami…
No matter how you slice it, Julia Salazar is a complete fraud who is unfit to serve for any public office. Even those who would give her a pass on religion have to admit that she outright lied about her place of birth. All of this was done to fake an identity, pandering to the many Jews and Latinos who will vote in the upcoming election.
It demonstrates a complete lack of ethics and integrity, proving that she has no real position on any issue and will say/do/or become anyone or anything to be elected. This is the worst sort of opportunist, out to enrich only herself, at the public expense.
The following guest post was contributed by a lovely Israeli lady who has chosen to make America her home. Moving to another country is never easy. Ravit Dayan shares what challenges she has faced as an immigrant and offers some excellent solutions that can encourage all moms, regardless of where we come from. Her unique perspective is so beneficial.
I’m an Israeli stay-at-home mom living in the US. It was always a dream of mine to come to this country, and I’m so proud that I’ve built my life here. After arriving when I was 24-years-old, it’s been a busy and fulfilling 10 years. I have a loving husband, a beautiful 2-year-old son, and a baby due in September.
I love being a mother more than anything, and I receive so much joy from parenting. But, a question stuck out in my mind: “Do I have to live without a consistent dose of intellectual adult stimulation or challenge, whether from learning or conversation, just because I have prioritized motherhood?”
It can be difficult to make time for that type of fulfillment since being a mother with small children is never ending. It’s a lot of diapers, dishes, and sleepless nights. However, I made the personal decision that I could be a super-mom AND a career woman. I can do both: be the ideal mother and be intellectually engaged.
Since our networks aren’t deep here in the U.S., (it’s often isolating to live outside of the large Israeli networks like Miami, NY or LA) I personally began looking into online options. I decided to research getting another degree. (What a great way to engage with other students, learn new things, and expand my mind, right?)
But the dream didn’t last long. I soon found that getting a university education can be extremely expensive. Besides that, the enrollment process was tedious and time-consuming (and the last thing I have is time). They sure don’t make it easy for moms with dreams to go back to college!
My husband is an entrepreneur who’s grown accustomed through the years to hearing my many ideas. With this challenge in particular, he saw that the issue I was having was also shared by millions of people. He decided to launch a startup that could ease the burden. By providing help to get your first year of college free, parents like me can pursue our dreams while raising our kids. It was exactly what I was looking for.
Being a mom teaches us a lot. One learns how to challenge their child mentally, emotionally, and physically, how to be productive, how to shower in under 1 minute, and to appreciate coffee. It should also teach us that we can do everything we set our minds to, including personal goal setting.
Here are three steps you can take right now to improve your situation :
1. Learn Something New Each Day
Studies show that sticking to the same routine, day in and day out, results in decreased energy, low mood, and passivity. Over time, remaining stuck in a chronic rut can look like a lack of motivation or creativity, and feeling unfulfilled.
To counter the pull, commit to learning something fresh each day. Open the laptop during naptime and pursue that new hobby, new skill, or new career path.
2. Breathe New Life into Your Days
Keep new endeavors and learning ventures on the horizon. Research shows that our happiness spikes when we’re focused on a challenging task. Make time for fun. Try to enjoy whatever free moments you have. Yes, we are busy moms, but life isn’t supposed to be miserable. We all need things that make us happy, no matter how small.
3. Accomplish Something Concrete
When you’re stuck in a rut, the way out seems unfathomable. This perpetuates the rut. So how do you achieve something big when you’re busy battling sleepless nights, endless diapers, and mountains of laundry?
One way out is goal-setting. Even if it’s something small, accomplishing a measurable goal results in a dopamine spike to the brain.
From getting enrolled in school during an episode of Blippi, to taking educational courses during naptime, any milestone checked off is a confidence boost, propelling you to that next step toward achieving your life goals.
So that’s how I found something that works for me. That fits my (impossible) schedule. It feels good knowing that I can accomplish anything as a mommy, and that I’ve found ways to remain stimulated so far from my established networks in Israel. That I’m paving a life for myself beyond my kids. You can take the steps above and do the same!
About the Author:
Ravit Dayan is an Israeli-American and stay-at-home mom. She enjoys writing about her experiences, educating her son, and helping other young moms. In her free time, she runs one of the most popular Baby Shower pages on Instagram and works on the family startup, Online Degree.
Some are calling it “insensitive” or “accidental,” but I think it’s deliberate. Surely, it could’ve been scheduled a few days before or after, to accommodate Judaism’s holiest day. Obviously, it’s difficult to find a date that fits everyone; however, they’re not doing it on Muslim or Christian holidays, only Jewish ones. Very unfair!
The long standing anti-Semitic attitudes and behavior in Europe are downright sickening. Government meetings need to be extra careful to demonstrate cultural awareness and inclusion. No summit should be held during a holiday, no matter how small the minority, so that everyone has equal opportunity to attend and voice their concerns and ideas.
It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since the horrendously repulsive and dangerous farce known as Unite the Right took place in Charlottesville.
Watching it live on TV, first the late night torch march and then the daytime violent protests, hurt my heart so badly, there are no words strong enough to describe it. I was literally stunned to hear furiously angry people scream “Jews will not replace us!” as they stormed a public university, terrorizing students, visitors and citizens alike.
Because most people are not sick and demented, the majority of America and the rest of world, reacted with outrage. It seemed like they couldn’t sink any lower, but worse it got, with the death of Heather Heyer who was struck by a car through no fault of her own.
The death of an innocent woman should make even the most callous person question the legitimacy of their so-called rally and what it stood for, especially the organizer, Jason Kessler. Instead of being contrite, this piece of pond scum had the nerve to attack the victim’s looks and her weight and insult her memory, saying she deserved to die.
Such an act was so cowardly, so evil, and so off-the-wall, it drew criticism from his former friends and associates on the alt-right, leading to non-stop in fighting that has continued to this day.
The Christian Science Monitor did an exhaustive post that details it better than I ever could. Titled “Jason Kessler and the ‘alt-right’ implosion after Charlottesville” it attempts to make sense of a very trouble individual and his equally troubled life. While I agree that most of the sickos who took part in the rally have suffered greatly for it, that does not mean it has softened their position—far from it, some are even more bitter for being exposed and ridiculed.
Whatever sad attempt Kessler is making to have a repeat of Charlottesville, moved to a new venue in Washington, DC, is no less dangerous, no less disruptive, and certainly not a bit less harmful.
This isn’t about free speech. It’s about inciting violence, committing violence, disrupting public areas, terrorizing, intimidating, beating, and possibly even murdering more people! It is evil, it is immoral, and it should not be given a permit.
Kessler is a joke, yes, but there are lunatics on the fringes of society that can be used and manipulated by evil doers. Didn’t we see that last time? Haven’t we witnessed enough bloodshed and suffering and race baiting and hate crimes to last a lifetime?
It’s not illegal to have hateful ideas. It’s not illegal to share those ideas with others. But it is 100% illegal to storm the streets and disrupt decent society, with chants, and threats, and epithets designed to crush the spirits of decent, God-fearing, freedom-loving souls.
Unite the Right was a horrible mistake that never, ever had to happen. We can’t, as a society, pretend that we don’t know on the second go-round. A second rally should never take place and anyone who claims otherwise should be ashamed of themselves.
America is for everybody—men, women, and children of every color, race, religion and creed. Nobody has the right to take our freedom away. We have to protect it, protect ourselves and protect our nation by destroying evil, not through violence but through the courts, using the rule of law. I want to see every hate group bankrupted, disbanded, and de-platformed. Those who break the law, both man and God’s, must be held accountable.