Monday, November 26, 2012

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Mommy

My parents put the breaks on my teenage plans to join the IDF long before my college admission letters arrived; and on the whole, I think it was probably a wise move on their part.

But there have been many times throughout the years when I wish I had put up more of a fight. Being a parent myself, I realize why they didn’t want to send their ludicrously American teenage daughter to Gaza (“There are no malls in the army,” was how my dad ended the discussion).

Still, there is no doubt I would have learned skills in the Israeli Army that my journalism professors never imparted: How to face an unpredictable and relentless adversary. How to coax a hostile into compliance. How to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles while sleep- and food-deprived.

How, basically, to function like a normal human being in the presence of a toddler.

When a friend whose son is around Ozzy’s age recently confided that she hadn’t showered that day, I realized that I hadn’t either. Nor the day before. If she hadn’t made the remark, it’s possible I would have gone a week before remembering that that funny stall in my bathroom was meant for more than hosing “accidents” out of tiny pants.

A few weeks of basic training, and I’m sure I would handle my second go at motherhood calmly, wisely and hygienically. Instead, I’m being undone.

After weeks of struggle, Ozzy finally slept through the night – a feat I celebrated by blinking angrily at the ceiling, having being jolted awake out of habit. That wouldn’t happen in Gadna.

And then there’s my ability to speak. Were I able to retrieve enough language from my depleted noodle to actually form sentences, I wouldn’t know how to relate them.

Last year, when Ozzy was new and quiet, I counted on school pickup as the social highlight of my day. We moms crowded the hall, sharing news and gossip as we waited for our then-first-graders to emerge from class.

These days when I talk, I sound like I’m shouting radio commands in the middle of a battlefield. “Hotel! India! That’s a nice sweater. Do you copy?”

“Mayrav, I have to tell you this funny story,” Alisa said, approaching me in the hall.

“Hi. Yeah. Hang on,” I said, darting after Ozzy who had managed to dash inside an elevator and push the alarm button. “Ozzy, come here. We’re going to see Alisa. No, don’t stick your fingers there, Ozzy, that’s an electrical socket. Come here. Alisa wants to tell us something. Baby, we’re not climbing the stairs. Ozzy, get off the stairs. I can’t believe how quickly you just climbed that flight of stairs! Ozzy! Come back here. Ozzy!”

That was September. I still haven’t heard the story.

One day, my kids might want to enlist in the IDF. I don’t know how I’ll feel about them going, but I still think about it for myself.

If for nothing else than the peace and quiet.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Jewish Woman's View Straight Marriage, Gay Marriage and Blood Oranges

Are gay weddings destroying the institution of marriage?

Let’s hope so.

A few months ago the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly voted to approve two ceremonies for same-sex marriage that removes sexist language from the wedding liturgy, allows both parties to pursue divorce and lays out egalitarian rights and customs to both spouses.

Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight. This is a column about heterosexual women in the context of marriage, not about whether gay marriage is right or wrong.

I understand that many readers may be opposed to allowing two adults to consecrate their love and declare themselves a family before their community and before God. Everyone has a right to be against whatever they want. I, for instance, am against blood oranges. Blood oranges creep me out. If there were a statewide proposition to ban blood oranges, I’d totally vote for that ban. Blood oranges are an abomination. Wait. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Women.

So, for something like 5 millennia (give or take), women have been treated as property. Even today, in the Conservative and Orthodox movements, men “acquire” their brides in the kiddushin, that part of the wedding where the man puts the ring on the woman’s finger and says, “You are consecrated to me according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”

What the Conservative rabbis did in creating a new liturgy for gay marriage is do away with the kiddushin. Instead of one party acquiring the other, both parties declare that they are acquiring the partnership itself. It’s a lovely image, and one that really, really should be offered to straight couples. Particularly straight couples that do not consider brides to be property, chattel or slaves.

Unfortunately, the ruling on the new liturgy includes an urging for straight couples to avoid using the ceremonies for themselves. The rabbis concede that it might be tempting to ditch centuries of sexist language, unequal footing and unfair divorce practices that leave women chained to jerks who refuse to grant them a divorce, or get.

But, they beg us women to respect the ancient traditions. Respect. Respect… the word rings a bell, but I can’t quite place it. Oh, yeah! Respect is that thing where people treat each other as equals and in no way try to dominate or control the other, right?

Yes, I agree! The ancient rituals of marriage could use a healthy dose of respect. Great idea. So today I raise my champagne flute in a toast to the new ruling on gay wedding liturgy and the hope that it can bring about real and lasting change for women’s rights in heterosexual marriage, too.

As for blood oranges, they can rot for all I care. If God wanted oranges to bleed, he wouldn’t have hit the Eastern Seaboard with all those storms.