The Israel-born actress Natalie (Hershlag) Portman, who is engaged to French dancer Benjamin Millepied, apparently just gave birth to a boy.
Since Portman has said in previous interviews that she planned to raise her children as Jews, I’m assuming this one belongs to the Tribe. Who knows? Maybe she’ll even decide to invite over that Monster Mohel featured recently in the disturbingly anti-Semitic “Foreskin Man” comic circulated by California’s anti-circumcision “intactivists.”
Then there is Anthony Weiner. Among other tidbits to emerge from the past week and a half’s round-the-clock Weinergate is that the congressman’s Muslim wife, Huma Abedin, is in the early stages of pregnancy. And presumably he is the father, unless in some dramatic twist of the whole aggrieved/betrayed wife scenario, he is not.
In my liberal and uber-secular extended family, there was only one figure who cared whether my sisters and I went to Hillel or dated/married Jews: Harold (Hans) Wiener, my father’s father.
Born to a large, secular German family whose members mostly managed to emigrate well before the Holocaust (he arrived in New York in 1922), Grandpa Harold, a wholesaler of men’s undergarments, never lost his German accent. He nonetheless settled comfortably into the mainstream American Jewish life of his generation: membership in a Conservative synagogue and a B’nai Brith chapter, donations to Israel Bonds and UJA, loyalty to the Democratic party and eventually retirement in Century Village, a predominantly Jewish community in West Palm Beach, Fla.
When, just months after announcing my engagement to lapsed Catholic Joe, I got my first job in Jewish journalism, at the Detroit Jewish News, I thought Grandpa Harold would be excited, that perhaps it would compensate for his disappointment about the upcoming intermarriage.
One of the great things about our high-tech world is that — by e-mailing files back and forth, scheduling everything on Google Calendar and relying almost solely on my cell phone — I can, fairly seamlessly, work from home three days a week.
Alas however, one thing Google cannot yet remedy for me is my tendency to leave reporter’s notebooks in the wrong places, to lose them altogether and to forget which bag and which notebook I was using when.
Which is why today, as I am at the Jewish Week’s Times Square headquarters (doesn’t that make us sound all impressive?) and am supposed to be blogging about last week’s Jewish Outreach Institute "Judaism 2030" conference, my notebook from said conference is at this moment lying on the floor of my home office. (A rather grandiose description of the tiny third bedroom in our apartment, where my IKEA desk, laptop and cheap all-in-one printer/scanner/copier compete for space with an exercise bike and stacks of yet-to-be sorted laundry.)
It’s been a busy and fairly Jew-y week and a half, both with family and work, and there’s a lot to write about once I have time to collect my thoughts.
I have not forgotten my promise to write about last week’s Judaism 2030 conference, and I also want to write about my daughters’ last day (for the academic year, not for their whole lives) of Hebrew school.
However, the topic for today is Family Camp at Eden Village. Which my daughters and I attended this weekend. And really liked.
A few weeks ago I attended a relatively small invitation-only gathering at the Upper West Side’s Congregation B’nai Jeshurun to discuss “Jewish identity, who is a Jew, membership in the Jewish community and outreach, in Israel and the Diaspora.”
As you might imagine, that was a lot to pack into a four-hour meeting. (And next month, we’ll reconvene to resolve the Israel-Arab conflict, or at least the Israel-Palestine conflict, ha ha.)
Since the conversation was off the record, not to mention a bit all over the place, I didn’t blog about it at the time. However, one thing that really struck me: how several high-profile participants, including one who has been quite outspoken about recognizing patrilineal descent, preceded their comments with “I’m not a big proponent of outreach, but…”
A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, Jewish or not, who are raising Jewish kids!
And so as not to seem parochial, I will also add a belated Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, regardless of what religion they are raising their children in, with the exception of monstrous child abusers like this family profiled in today’s New York Times.
I am having one of those months when I feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up, especially when it comes to blogging.
For the past two weeks I have been meaning to blog about Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was on Monday. And now, I realize Mother’s Day is upon us. And Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day, aka the Nakba for those who prefer the Palestinian narrative of things.) Not to mention, my children are feverishly planning their birthday parties for this summer. (No Israel themes this year; Sophie, who will turn 5, wants an ice-skating party, and Ellie, who will turn 8, wants a book/creative writing theme.)
Our Passover (which coincided with the kids’ spring vacation) passed pleasantly — three lovely seders to which I contributed cooking, but didn’t have to host; lots of time with family; various excursions and lots of culinary experimentation with quinoa. No major news developments on the home front.