Portion


Re'eh: The Downtime Day

By Ilana Grinblat

This past weekend was packed with activities — Friday night dinner at a friend’s home, my father’s birthday celebration festivities both at synagogue and at his home on Saturday, and a barbeque with friends on Sunday. By the time Monday morning came around, my kids and I were pooped. I decided that rather than telling my children what we would do on Monday, I would instead follow their lead for a change. If they asked to go somewhere, we would go, and if not, we would stay home. I put in a load of laundry and waited to see what would happen.Read More


Va-Et'hanan: Cooking Torah

By Ilana Grinblat

Recently, I saw one of my favorite movies — Julie and Julia. In the film, which is based on a true story, a woman named Julie decides to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook and blog about it. She sets a deadline of one year to cook and blog her way through the 538 recipes in the cookbook. Then she invites her friends over for a dinner party to celebrate the completion of her project.Read More


Devarim: Confronting Mortality

By Ilana Grinblat

Last week, I attended the funeral of a member of my former congregation. The funeral fell on a weekend, and we were out with the kids for the day. In the afternoon, my husband Tal and the kids dropped me off at the cemetery, went to the mall for ice cream, and then picked me back up. I explained to my kids where I was going, and they were fine with that plan. I didn’t think they thought much of it.Read More


Mattot-Masei: List To Remember

By Ilana Grinblat

On Sunday night, my family went to the July 4th celebration at the Hollywood Bowl. The concert was by the LA Philharmonic, accompanied by Vince Gil, and concluded with fireworks. The music was fantastic; the fireworks were spectacular. The evening included an awe-inspiring tribute to members of the five branches of the armed forces. Those in the audience who had served in the military were asked to stand when their branch’s anthem was played, and everyone clapped in thanks for their service to the country. To me, though, the most meaningful part of the evening had nothing to do with the concert itself.Read More


Pinchas: The Gender Question

By Ilana Grinblat

“Do big girls have bikes without training wheels?” my daughter Hannah asked me, as she rode her tricycle. Hannah knew that her brother’s bike didn’t have training wheels, but she wasn’t sure why. Hannah is three, and her brother Jeremy is six. She knows that she can’t do some of the activities he can, but she’s often unsure whether to attribute these differences to age or gender. So, she’s asking a lot of questions lately about boys and girls.Read More


Balak: Looking Into Our Own Tents

By Ilana Grinblat

Last weekend, I was at a gathering mostly of families with small children. When a young couple (who’ve only been married a couple years) came, one of the dads pointed to a child and joked: “Who said you could come to the party without one of these?!” The next day I was at a different party with the same couple and heard an acquaintance ask them: ‘So are you thinking of having kids soon?’ The couple desperately wants children but for a series of very good reasons, they’ve decided to wait one more year before trying. Until then, they have to deal with such questions on a regular basis.Read More


Hukkat: Recharging Our Batteries

By Ilana Grinblat

“I’m fine,” I lied to my friend on the phone, but the truth is I’m burned out. I was seriously ill a few weeks ago. Thankfully my symptoms are gone now, but I have yet to recover the spring in my steps. My three-year-old daughter (who recently transitioned from a crib to a bed) woke me up at 3:30 am each night for the past few nights – which doesn’t help. I’m nearing the end of one leg of a professional project I’ve been working on for a long time, and I feel like a marathon runner who collapses five feet shy of the finish line. I turn to this week’s Torah portion looking for guidance – for anything to uplift my spirit.Read More


The Korah Within

By Ilana Grinblat

Last Friday, my son’s class put on a show to celebrate their completion of kindergarten. The kids sang songs recalling all they had learned in school this year — complete with choreography and props. The evening was just wonderful! My husband and I and both sets of grandparents watched eagerly, kvelling with pride at Jeremy’s enthusiasm. Afterwards of course, we all told Jeremy how proud we were of him and what a great job he had done. One of the relatives told Jeremy, “I think you did the best in your class.”Read More


In Sickness and in Health

By Ilana Grinblat

For the past 10 days, I’ve been sick. After two trips to urgent care, one to the ER, two visits with the regular doctor and even a brain scan, they think I have Viral Meningitis (but aren’t yet sure). Whatever the name of this illness, it’s not fun. With daily fevers and excruciating headaches, I’ve been completely incapacitated. My folks and in-laws are taking turns watching the kids when my husband’s at work because I’m out of commission.Read More


Naso: The 614th Commandment

By Ilana Grinblat

My friend Orley took my daughter Hannah to the park. Hannah showed her the two ways to climb up to the slide — one which only has a few steps and one that has monkey-bars. Hannah explained that she goes up the few steps and isn’t big enough to climb the monkey-bars. “I’m just a little bit big.” She said, “I’m three. I don’t want to get bigger. I like being three.” Orley was impressed by Hannah’s peacefulness with the stage that she is in.Read More





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