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Shunning Those We Love
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An open letter to those who are ostracizing my castmate and friend Yitzi:

There has been a lot of controversy about this show, and much of it is about Yitzi.  He is a "local boy gone bad" in the eyes of many of our viewers.  He is the kid who went to the local Young Israel school, who went to yeshiva, who grew up and married an amazing observant woman, and who has 2 gorgeous Jewish daughters.  Now he is a learned Jew who has made a conscious decision to observe shabbos and kashrut in his home for the sake of his wife, but on his own time he is admittedly not running for Ortho Jew of the Year.  He has his reasons, and I won't argue his points here.  

Since he started appearing on this show, he has endured phone calls from community members accusing him of publicly desecrating G-d's name.  He has been confronted by tearful family members.  He has received hate mail. It hasn't been easy on anyone.  It certainly has not been easy on his wife, who shares the concerns of those who confront Yitzi, but she has been supportive of his participation on the show nonetheless.

Some say that to love and support Yitzi while he "works through his issues" is tantamount to condoning breaking shabbos, kashrut, and all other halacha.  I say that shouting Yitzi down is an act of conditional love on the part of those close to him.  You do what I want you to do, and you are good in my eyes.  You don't do what I want you to do, and you are a disappointment deserving of my scorn.

 I think that the best way to sell Jewish observance is to make it look BETTER than the alternatives, rather than to ostracize those who do not observe.  The answer to someone who doesn't observe is to love them, show them the beauty in observance wherever possible, and invite them to come back if they ever want to, as those doors never close.  Also, when Orthodox community members shun those who do not fit in, they are creating a situation where coming back is cause for humiliation... there should be NO barriers to re-entry.  NONE.

Shouting down Yitzi is unkind.  It's not painting a rosy picture of being Orthodox to me, or anyone else who isn't observant.  And it doesn't work.

Just my 2 cents.  Time to help the kids play bath time with the Barbies.  Yeah, occasionally I play with my kids!  Arg- too late.  I hear a scuffle between the twins brewing in the next room.  


A Trip to the Kiddie Doc
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Today I had to take my twins to their 3-year-old doctor's appointment.  Naturally it started out all fine and good, but quickly descended into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  I thought the kids were having a healthy appointment, but apparently while living In Over Our Heads 24/6 (not on shabbos!) I missed the fact that both of the girls have ear infections, and Lexie has a recurrence of strep throat (which I thought she'd kicked last week).  In addition, Lexie is underweight, not even on the charts.  According to the weight charts, she doesn't exist.

My pediatrician gives a lot of parenting advice, which usually leaves me feeling like a mom enrolled in some kind of program for at-risk crackhead parents.  To make matters worse,  Lexie and Reenie, who are usually adorable cuties, decided to beat the ever-loving crap out of each other in front of the doctor.  Lexie even LICKED HER SHOE in front of the doc.  So I had to endure a "helpful" lecture about setting limits and discipline.  Then the doc suggested that I try feeding Lexie avocado to help her gain weight.  Just the WORD avocado offends me at the doctor's office because I've been through this underweight business with my older kid and on EVERY SINGLE VISIT to the doc I was asked if I've tried avocado.  I was tempted to say, "What?  AVOCADO?  Why I've never though of that before!  How amazing!  Avocado!?  Where do you buy such a perfect food item?"  Instead I said, "OK, thanks."  Our doc is great.... she is SO thorough, smart and caring.  But I just have such a hard time tolerating her parenting tips.  I just want to say, "Thanks for the tip.  Want a free tip yourself?  The cat's been out of the bag on the whole avocado thing for a while now."

We rounded out the appointment with each kid getting a finger stick and splattering blood on their pants, then they got 2 shots per kid for good measure.  I was sweating and holding Lexie down while our new au pair, Ema, held Reenie.  Welcome to America, Ema.  You survived initiation.

A good shabbos to all!

Quote to Live By
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"Be patient with all that is unsolved in your heart.  And try to love the questions themselves... Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything...  Live the questions now."  -  Rainer Maria Rilke


Feedback Fun
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Well, the feedback on our first show is starting to trickle in and I am amused by the flurry of negativity.  On the Jewish Television Network site, my cleavage in the bed scene offended someone (my boobs are extremely threatening!), and I was warned sternly that my declaration that playing Barbies bores me will come back to haunt me when my children are older and Google their mom (which they'll probably be too cool to do!).  My friend Linda has written for the Boston Globe, The Huffington Post, and many other publications... she told me that almost all comments that people post are negative.  Once someone told her that they hope someone would stab her to death while she strolls in the park with her young son.

I am ready, willing, and able to handle the HATERS.  Clearly we're pressing people's buttons, and that means we're doing our job as TV producers.  Who would want to watch a TV show about 5 perfectly frum people blabbering on about what great parents and Jews they are?  Not me.  I'd change the channel in a half second.  People admitting their faults, desires, fears, and judgements is what I'd watch.  And that is what we're going to produce.  

The funny thing is, the first episode is SO tame compared with what is to come.  

What are really frummy people doing watching our irreverent show anyway?  Go play Tsnius Scrabble or something.

Or better yet, keep watching and commenting.  It's something fun to read while I sip my morning coffee and plan our next show.


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... the writer Tony Kushner once said that he's never met anyone who's perfectly happy all the time. The best you can do is happy-ish. ... happy-ish can be pretty good if combined with a sense of dignity, a sense that one is ... for one's self ... because if we're not for ourselves, who will be for us? ... but we are also for others because if we're only for ourselves, what are we? ... and if not now, when? That's dignity to me, that sense that we build our lives and the meaning of our lives based on the relationships, the connections that we have with other people in the here and now.  

Greg Epstein on NPR's Fresh Air (click for full text)

What do you think?


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