I have a friend who e-mails me daily. The e-mails go on for pages and pages, filling me in on the most intimate and the most mundane details of his daily life. It’s not as easy as just changing my phone number. What do I do?
— Inbox overload
Return to sender? Change your e-mail address? Tell your friend that your computer crashed? Tell him that you love hearing from him but that his daily missives are too detailed and too frequent? Tell him that you joined “E-mail Anonymous” because you were spending too much time online and that your e-mail privileges have been suspended for a year? Suggest he get a day job? Suggest he train to be a court stenographer? Suggest getting together for coffee once a month and tell him to save the updates for then? I have offered more than enough viable solutions: I trust you will choose the right one.
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I got married six months ago and will be spending my first High Holy Days as a married woman. I come from a Reform background, but I have agreed to attend the Orthodox temple with my new husband and his parents. Do you have any advice about how to get through this?
—Antsy about Days of Awe
My first words of advice would be to lose the word “temple” from your vocabulary. Substitute instead the words “synagogue” or “shul.” Second, see if your synagogue offers a beginners’ course or can suggest a good book for you to read that describes the structure of the service and the meaning of the prayers. Even people who have attended Orthodox services all of their lives prepare for the holidays with study and prayer.
Some of the key differences will be the separate seating, the length of the service, the yarmulkes and the absence of any microphone or organ. The other major adjustments will be that you will not recognize the melodies and that the majority of the service will be in Hebrew — a real obstacle if you don’t understand the language. Many synagogues offer a crash course in Hebrew before the holidays. Also, there is no rule that says you can’t sit quietly and read a spiritual holiday book. Even the most religious can be spotted “off-text” during services. The spirit of the day — reflection and contemplation — is as important as the written word. One last thing: Don’t wear pants.
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My husband works at home. When I need help with the children, he explains he’s working; when it’s time to sit down for a family dinner, he’s on a conference call. Our family life is suffering because of my husband’s and my joint decision to save money on office rent.
— Do savings cost too much?
No matter how much money you are saving, it’s not worth the price of compromising your family. Offices have office hours, and it is time that your husband begins keeping them. Agree on what time your husband will be home for dinner with the family, and that is when he turns off his computer and locks his office door. Let his machine pick up all calls that come in after-hours. If your husband cannot live by this virtual separation between his private and professional lives, insist on a physical separation: office space outside your home.
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