Portion


B’midbar: The Mother’s Day Present

By Ilana Grinblat

Last week, my husband kept asking me, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?” “Nothing,” I replied, which was the truth. Thankfully, I have everything I need, and there was no gift I wanted which came to mind.Read More


B’har/B’hukkotai: In an Unjust World

By Ilana Grinblat

The phone rang, and I could hear the tears in my friend’s voice. She explained that she had complications during pregnancy and was hospitalized for an extended period. Her twins were delivered prematurely and would need to stay in the NICU indefinitely. She worried about her babies’ development both short and long-term. “Why are other people having healthy babies but not me?” she asked. “I’ve lost my faith in God.”Read More


Emor: A Lunchbox Lesson

By Ilana Grinblat

Each weekday morning, my day begins the same way. I roll out of bed and make the kids’ lunches. I pack a sandwich in a Tupperware box and then gather the fruit, granola bar, and cheese-stick, and shove them all in the lunchbox. Some mornings, the items fit in the lunchbox with ease. Other mornings (if I’m too sleepy and not paying attention), I have to take everything out and rearrange the items. As I do this mundane task each morning, I am reminded of something one of my teachers taught me in rabbinical school.Read More


Aharei Mot/Kedoshim: Finding Our Place on the Map

By Ilana Grinblat

My six-year old son, Jeremy loves maps. He enjoys playing with Google Earth and finding our home and the homes of his friends and family. The other day, I was reading the weekly Torah portion and left my bible on the table. Jeremy picked it up and discovered that it contains maps. “Where do we live on this map?” He asked.Read More


Tazria Metzora: Just Another Boring Day

By Ilana Grinblat

Each day, when I pick up my son up from school, I ask him: “How was your day?” His answer is always the same: “Boring.” When I then ask him what he did, he tells me about activities he enjoyed, who he played with on the jungle-gym, and the new things he learned. Whenever I see him at school, he’s running around, happy as can be, and doesn’t want to leave at the end of the day. Still, his initial response is always that it’s boring.Read More


Shemini: The Ferris Wheel of Life

By Ilana Grinblat

The other day, my son Jeremy discovered an unopened birthday present in his closet. It was a Kinex Ferris wheel building set. We took out all parts, and I was instantly overwhelmed. The game had 25 pages of assembly instructions! Despite my reservations, we started putting it together. The process was inordinately complicated. Although the box said it was for ages seven and up, I wondered why I, being three decades older than that, was having such difficulty figuring it out. Maybe I needed a Ph.D. in engineering.Read More


Hol Ha-moed Pesach: Zooming In and Out

By Ilana Grinblat

My six-year-old son Jeremy recently became obsessed with Google Earth, a computer program which shows a satellite picture of the world. When you type an address, the program zooms in and displays an aerial photo of exactly where the building is located. Jeremy loves inputting the addresses of family and friends and watching the program go to each place.Read More


Tzav: Getting Messy

By Ilana Grinblat

Recently, when I was finishing up the dishes after dinner, my son Jeremy came to me and said, “Mom, we have a surprise for you.” I followed him to his room wondering what the surprise was. Had the kids drawn me a picture or built a tall LEGO tower? He opened the door to his room to show me that my two-year old daughter had taken all the clothes from her bureau and spread them across the floor. Oy Vey!Read More


Vayikra: We Plan, God Laughs

By Ilana Grinblat

This week felt like a comedy of errors. My son came down with a cold, which he was kind enough to share with me. On Saturday morning, I woke up with laryngitis. I was invited to speak as a guest rabbi — but giving a sermon is a little tricky if you can’t speak! Having laryngitis any other week would be no problem, but the one week I needed to speak, I couldn’t.Read More


Vayakhel-Pekudei: Encore

By Ilana Grinblat

Sunday was my daughter Hannah’s third birthday party (which came just three weeks after my son Jeremy’s sixth birthday party). My husband and I threw the same kind of party for my daughter as for my son. I baked a cake — shaped like Dora the Explorer this time rather than The Cat in the Hat. We had Hannah’s class over for a party in the back yard, just as we did for my son — with a Moon Bounce and entertainment.Read More





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  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
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