Are you kidding me?
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Are you kidding me?

Religion is a touchy subject. I imagine that if you were to ask 10 Jews the same question, you probably would get 10 different responses. The same thing can happen when you ask a rabbi a question. Something simple like, “Can I use my warming drawer on shabbes?” That seems simple enough. But alas, no, it is not. Three different rabbis hold three different ways. And that is OK. I always know that if I ask my rabbi a question, I will follow his answer and not look for a better answer — but that is just me.

I thought I was raised Orthodox — modern Orthodox more specifically. I keep shabbes, I eat kosher, I celebrate all of the holidays. Growing up, there were plenty of modern Orthodox men who did not wear yarmulkas all the time. There were even folks who would eat in nonkosher restaurants, limiting their consumption to tuna fish or baked goods. Again, there were plenty of people who didn’t do this, didn’t agree with it, didn’t think you were really kosher if you did it — we are an interesting people — but still fundamentally people. 

We judge, we question, we judge some more. I am sure that there are folks who practice other religions who feel the same way. As I said in the beginning — religion is a touchy subject. Just like Jews look askew at Jews who aren’t like them, I am sure there are Catholics like that, or Episcopalians like that… It is called human nature.

In any event, there has been quite the metamorphosis going on in my cozy little family. I have written about my “oreos” before. Sons #1 and 2 wear only black and white. It makes shopping really really simple. In getting ready for the Passover holiday, we received an email from the program where we are going,  telling us to bring white clothes because there will be a “white night.” Husband #1 and I looked at each other and could not stop laughing. Who knew my boys were so fashion forward? They already have their white clothes ready to go. But it got me thinking about when they were all little. I loved dressing them alike. Dorky, of course but, oh, so adorable. Of course son #3 got the raw end of the deal, because he ended up wearing the same outfit for like six years, until he outgrew all of them. Poor kid.

Anyway, when they were little, I loved getting them dressed up. The first year we went away, we were young and inexperienced parents at a hotel for Passover and I didn’t realize how much grape juice doesn’t actually make it into your child’s mouth. Those cute little outfits were stained beyond recognition. The following year, I thought I would outsmart the stains and I brought spray-n-wash to put on the stains so they would come out in the laundry. Unfortunately, I put all of those clothes in a bag without air flow, and all of their cute little outfits got moldy. Live and learn, kids, live and learn.

And now, here we are, all excited that our boys have white shirts for white night because they can wear white shirts without getting them dirty. I am really so proud. Back to the oreos. You all know how much I love my boys. I really and truly do. But every time they decide to incorporate something new into our “Orthodoxy” I scratch my head and wonder what planet I really live on.

It started a few weeks ago when son #1 was on the hunt for grandma flippy, which was the beloved flip phone that I used before my family upgraded me to the 21st century and got me an iPhone. I had no idea why, when I came home after a long day, there was a pile of outdated dumb phones on the kitchen counter. Well kids, I will tell you why. Son #1 and Son #2 decided that they were giving up their smart phones for the Hebrew month of Nissan. Yes, the whole month. No, I don’t know why. Yes, it is hard to get in touch with them. No, they don’t seem phased by it. Yes, we are wondering how we survived so long without smart phones. No, we no longer can text them in our family whatsapp group. Yes, Son #3 still used his smart phone and no, I don’t think he will be using his smartphone next Nissan.

But it is all good. I am so looking forward to being with my monkeys for this upcoming holiday — with their phones, without their phones, white shirts, colored shirts — it doesn’t really matter. Hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday with whomever you choose to celebrate.

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck misses the Concord Hotel every single Passover, but is grateful she met her friend Deva there in 1985.

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