Saturday, April 24, 2010
If you have any trouble with accessing the new site, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I won't be posting anymore on this blog. You wouldn't BELIEVE the tsuris I've had with this blogspot. I've gone to a dot.com because I'm playing with the big boys now.
Subtitle: The chametz is back; where are my powers of reasoning?
David Saferstein is my first cousin. Gary Greenwald is my daughter-in-law’s father. They aren’t related in any way (that I know of). You could have knocked me over mit a feder when I saw pictures of the 2010 Saferstein seder. I thought, “What is Gary, in New York, doing at MY cousins’ seder in Kansas City???” I’ve never noticed the resemblance before, so I think it’s mostly due to the angle, but still, it was crazy-making; I was confused, I was upset, I was fermisht. David is on the right; Gary is on the left, holding Jackie, my granddaughter. SHE’s related to David!! His grandson Max and Jackie are third cousins. Nu, take a look, see what you think:
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
There are 60 pages of a deposition to proofread; the lawyer needs it by noon tomorrow . . . and the court reporter just can’t get herself to sit down and transcribe it so she can scan it and e-mail it to me. Procrastinators should go hang their heads in shame – and, I suppose, so should people (me) who malign them. When my English teacher assigned a term paper, mit footnotes, due in a month, I had it on her desk before a week went by. Both of my kids were meisters of the art of procrastination. I think they liked seeing me turn red and watching me schrei at the ceiling, WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS???
And did all that tumel help? No. I very much like the men they’ve become in spite of procrastinating and in spite of me.
The subject line on an e-mail to me reads: Second-Attemption:YourCredit-Card_pre-approval_Inside…
Saturday, April 17, 2010
A genealogy program called (appropriately) Geni has e-mailed me about an update to my family tree; this tree contains my relatives’ relatives and an explanation of how we’re related. I’ll just make up a name, but the rest is verbatim: “David Cohen, your second cousin once removed’s husband, has joined your tree.” If they extend it far enough, I’m bound to find a relative’s relative who’s MY relative’s relative. (See my post about Jewish geography, February 21.)
Also see http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2564/whats-wrong-with-cousins-marrying I’m not worried about cousins; I just wonder what the chances are of having married my half-brother, who was never told he was adopted.
Friday, April 16, 2010
That will never work," says my cousin David. “The words have to be printed on the outside of the shirt.” I wrote back to him: “It's important to infuse the words with body cells. Otherwise it won't work. Abracadabra.” He wrote back: “Do the words have to be printed mirror image so they read correctly on the body, or do they have to be read from the cells’ point of view?” I wrote: “We can 'write' the words using a cookie press like Grandma's; then we eat the letters, getting both a sugar high and an enlivening jolt of wisdom and magic and Kaballah-style introspection. Or not. Our days were not meant to be filled with mystery and intrigue, spells and incantations. What kind of meshuggeneh comes up with the idea of words on a sweatshirt?" The library will let me check out (free; it’s a LIBRARY) a copy of Stupid Magic for Dummies. I can read it, have a good laugh, and use my $79 (plus S&H) to buy something REAL.
My talented webmaster, Reino, sent this comment (email@example.com): Truly unbelievable. I don’t really know which is worse, the fact that they’re trying to market an item in this way or that some people might actually buy into it. Nevertheless, I might try writing some inspirational messages on the soles of my shoes. Heck, I might even make an experiment of it and try mirrored words, regular words, and then of course I’ll need to come up with a way of fitting some cookies into my shoes. Wait… I’m supposed to eat the cookies, right?
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Paul Volcker is Jewish. So is Tim Geithner. So is Jared Bernstein, Biden's chief economic advisor. Bernanke. Friedman. Greenspan. Gotta wonder why there is such an affinity between Jews and the study of economics. THEN we gotta wonder why Jews are drawn to science, entertainment, medicine, and business. Hmmm. I think we should leave Bernie Madoff out of this equation.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
1. Make lasagna.
2. Put a box in your car. They never get stale (they're ALREADY stale) and they actually taste good when you're stuck in traffic and it doesn't look like you're going to be home for dinner anytime in the next two hours. This is great for hypoglycemics.
3. Hide a bunch around the house as afikomin. When one of your children happens onto one, make a s'more out of it (see my post below) for that child with a reminder about our ancestors having been slaves in Egypt. One DOES tend to forget, so why wait until Pesach next year?
There! Problem solved.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Pesadiggeh s'mores! From the Herald Gazette (Camden, Maine): " Last Saturday evening, a group of birthday celebrants gathered for an annual spring bonfire and barbecue. Jewish partygoers, who were still celebrating the eight-day festival of Passover, discovered a new taste sensation, the matzs'mores. As one might guess, it takes the familiar chocolate and fire-roasted marshmallow, and sandwiches them between two pieces of matzoh."
Mollie's reaction: It sounds better than graham crackers now that I've learned on the Net about the fermisht inventor: "Graham crackers were originally marketed as Dr. Graham's Honey Biskets and were conceived of as a health food as part of the Graham Diet, a regimen to suppress what he considered unhealthy carnal urges, the source of many maladies according to Graham. Reverend Graham would often lecture about the adverse effects of masturbation, or "self-abuse" as he called it. One of his many theories was that one could curb one's sexual appetite by eating bland foods. Another man who held this belief was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of the corn flakes cereal."
I prefer oatmeal. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Thursday, April 08, 2010
“Say, Harry, are you busy right now?”
“No, Nate; what do you need?”
“Well, Adele is going into labor, and I was wondering . . .”
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Monday, April 05, 2010
Tell me what you think!
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Saturday, April 03, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
It looks as if at least one member of our family was on a ship that was diverted to Latin America or South America. (Cuba was the farbissener destination of the ill-fated ship St. Louis.) Facebook shows Ezequiel Saferstein and Santiago Saferstein. Their parents gave them names suitable to whatever country was kind enough to take them in . . . but the names sure sound, ummm, strange? Oh well. Santiago and Ezequiel probably think the names David, Lynne, Ruth, Rita, and Michael Saferstein sound exotic.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
It's probably not heart-healthy, but one matzo ball per year surely can't be a threat (I hope). I'll bet two zuzim on it.
Cathy and Rick: You outdid yourselves. Your seder was wonderful, and you're gantzeh menschen!!
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Last year's seder: a black tablecloth and plain white plates with green and yellow napkins. My Inner Aesthete has to brag and say it looked stunning, and since Pesach is all about symbols, it was the image of springtime superimposed on the end of winter. Wine got spilled, salt water got dripped, and bits of charosis got trailed all across everything, so we had a wonderful time! Friends, family, messes — it was a mechiah!!
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Gee, no thanks; I'm really full.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Shambles. It's what I'm finally no longer in.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
(To which the teacher probably said to herself, "Gevalt")
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I really don't want to insult anybody, but . . . here's a Pesach rule I find unreasonable: After Passover, when you buy bread, don't buy it immediately because it might have been baked during Passover. Nu, why should this make a difference? Anyone? Anyone? When things are carried along to the point of being silly, it makes us question ALL the rules.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I haven't seen this for what, 30 years? It will be old stuff to some of you, and new to the rest of you. Leo Rosten, in "The Joys of Yiddish," illustrates the importance of inflection. Here the questioner is asking whether he/she should attend a concert being given by a niece. The meaning of the same sentence changes completely, depending on where the speaker places the emphasis:
I should buy two tickets for her concert? - meaning:, "After what she did to me?"
I should buy two tickets for her concert? - meaning: "What, you're giving me a lesson in ethics?"
I should buy two tickets for her concert? - meaning: I wouldn't go even if she were giving out free passes!
I should buy two tickets for her concert? - meaning: I'm having enough trouble deciding whether it's worth one.
I should buy two tickets for her concert? - She should be giving out free passes, or the hall will be empty.
I should buy two tickets for her concert? - Did she buy tickets to our daughter's recital?
I should buy two tickets for her concert? - You mean, they call what she does a "concert"?
Rosten writes that there are other linguistic devices in English, derived from Yiddish syntax, which subtly "convey nuances of affection, compassion, displeasure, emphasis, disbelief, skepticism, ridicule, sarcasm, and scorn."
Mordant syntax: "Smart, he isn't."
Sarcasm through innocuous diction: "He only tried to shoot himself."
Scorn through reversed word order: "Already you're discouraged?"
Contempt through affirmation: "My partner, he wants to be."
Derisive dismissal disguised an innocent interrogation: "I should pay him for such devoted service?"
Fearful curses sanctioned by nominal cancellation: "May all your teeth fall out except one, so that you can have a toothache, God forbid."
Note from Mollie: It's easier if you ever lived with an immigrant grandparent. We did, but only for a few months, and he wasn't very talkative. Or, put more appropriately: "Talkative, he wasn't."
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
(a) Princeton remained all-white, with the approval of its Southern president, Woodrow Wilson, who once advised a black prospective student that it would be “altogether inadvisable for a colored man to enter” Princeton. [Internet]
(b) “Theodore Roosevelt was one of many Progressives captivated by this notion: He opposed voting rights for African-American men, which were guaranteed by the 15th amendment, on the grounds that the black race was still in its adolescence.” [Internet again] He may have been a talented hunter, but anthropologically he is SO wrong.
(c) Pre-Obama: Linda, the owner of the first court-reporter agency I came to work for, gave me my first deposition to proofread. She told me it might be a bit difficult because the deponent was black and “you know how ‘they’ talk.” What!!! How could she say this to me? My husband could have been black. I could have several adopted Ethiopian children like my cousin Steve. What gets INTO people??? Linda is gornisht helfen because no one ever really gives up on prejudices once they've acquired them. And don't try to change my mind on this, ha ha.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Grandma spoke Yiddish; to her a fork was a goppel, a spoon was a leffel, and a knife was a messer. I thought of her while looking for a new set of silverware (in English). What we have is old and worn, and almost every piece has at one time or another been in the garbage disposal. It gives new meaning to the word shonda. I went to Crate & Barrel's Web page and found what I wanted. But some stuff I found on the Net is . . . I don't even have a word for it in Yiddish OR English; "absurd" comes close. The most expensive (take a look; I didn't buy it) was $1,020 for ONE four-piece place setting. The blurb said it was inspired by caveman utensils. All that money, and it doesn't even have a salad fork? A shayna dank in pupik!!
I'm a committed minimalist, but primitive (EXPENSIVE primitive) I can do without.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Here's something from the Reform Judaism Magazine, Spring 2010, page 45: "The State of Israel does not recognize the legitimacy of marriages performed by non-Orthodox rabbis."
WHAT??? WHAT did they say? Come on. Take a look at this punim. Take a look at my family tree on both sides. I'm Jewish. I'll never NOT be Jewish. It should count that I'm married to a Jewish man who has the same kind of punim and family tree. We were married by a conservative rabbi; we had a chuppah; we signed a ketubah; Jay smashed the glass on the first try; we had the shiva broches. What could possibly be added by exchanging our conservative rabbi for an orthodox one?
Good thing we have no urge to make aliyah. I wouldn't feel welcome in Israel. It's the Jewish state! I'm Jewish! (I already said that, but apparently I have to assert it again to make it stick.) This is going to be one very long diaspora. Yes, I realize that the Israeli law applies only to couples married in Israel, but I'm outraged at this pettiness, which leads to a certain amount of cynicism about tradition and laws and pronouncements. Why do I feel as if I'm an outsider? Thoughts? You are SO welcome to post them here.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Health insurance for me alone is so expensive that we had to raise the deductible to $5,000 just to manage the monthly premiums. Why is it so high? Because I've had a lot of surgery and I look like a bad risk. But the kinds of surgery I've had should LOWER the premiums. The hysterectomy in 1975 means I'll never have uterine trouble; the C-section I had with Noah . . . well, I'm too old to be pregnant with the risk of another C-section, and besides, my having had a hysterectomy means no OB services will be required. I had a herniated belly button removed; I don't think I'm growing any new ones that will also have to be excised. I had knee surgery from a ski accident, but I've stopped skiing. Okay, the company's lack of logic in assessing risk is bad enough, right? Here's more. I'm eligible for Medicare on June 1. I began feeling a little congested toward the end of May, and I finally had to "take to my bed" (as our mothers used to say) for four days with what I know from past experience is bronchitis. I was determined to get over it by myself, but I couldn't hold out. I had to cave on MAY 28 and call my PCP, who tried to diagnose it over the phone for me but said he really needed to see me because it sounded more like pneumonia. He was right. I now have antibiotics and an inhaler. He'll submit the bill to my insurance, which won't pay it because I haven't met my deductible. I'm sure it's unethical for him to post-date my visit, and I didn't even want to ASK. I'm afraid he would have said, "Of COURSE not, and never darken my doorstep again." Do I really want to antagonize my doctor? How do you say "no" in Latin with bad handwriting?
Friday, March 05, 2010
Sweet! Download Buzz
Nah, go to my Inbox
This HAS to have been written by a Jewish person. Who else would say "nah"?? I love it — there's something about how casually and benignly dismissive it sounds. Izzy says to Morris, "Is your wife's arthritis getting any better?" Morris says, "Nah, she just likes to kvetch."
Here's the disconnect: Mary Tyler Moore says "no." Rhoda Morgenstern says "nah."
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The names have been changed to protect my innocent friends. My boychiks were 7 and 10; Mike and Linda, who had invited us for seder, had four kids —all younger and antsier than mine. WE (our generation) made it through seders; these kids were raised on Sesame Street with 30-second attention spans and no hesitation about expressing their hunger/state of boredom/dislike of one another. We went through every word of the Maxwell House Coffee haggadah (good to the very last drop of Manischewitz), read slowly and carefully by Linda’s Orthodox father. (Everyone knows I’ve written my own [very short] haggadah, in language directed toward children; I was not asked to bring it). When it was FINALLY over, Linda and I, punchy with relief, started to get up to serve the food (the parsley and the matzo and bitter herbs didn’t count), but her father said, “Wait, I’m not happy with this; I think we should do it again in Hebrew.” Linda said, “Oh, Daddy, no.” Jay said, “Mr. Goldberg, the kids are getting pretty cranky, and none of them is old enough to know Hebrew.” But Mr. G. was determined, so we . . . did . . . it . . . again. I love ceremony; I love tradition; but sometimes enough is enough already. When we were invited to their next seder, we told them we'd already been invited elsewhere but were VERY sorry. What we were very sorry about was having been there in the first place. Our kids hated it.
This is the kind of seder Bernie Madoff should be forced to sit through as part of his sentence. Hmmm, what DOES the prison system do with its Jewish inmates? Answer: If they had been upstanding mensch-type celebration-deserving Jews in the first place, they wouldn't BE in prison. Is federal funding used for the chrain?
Bernie should have said DAYENU after his first $10 million.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
This story goes from St. Joseph to Chicago to DC and back to Denver. I was talking with my cousin Roberta (from St. Joseph) and her husband Mort (from Chicago), who met when they both lived in Denver and now live in D.C. Their daughter Rachel, who now lives here in Denver, wants to get into community theater. Mort asked if I have any connections. I told him that at that very moment Jay was playing golf with a friend, a Denver lawyer who’s an actor heavily involved in local theater, and that I'd ask him if Rachel could call him. This rang a bell with Mort. He said, “Hmmmm. Wait a minute. What’s your friend’s name?” I said, “Roger Simon.” He said, “You won’t believe this. but I know of a lawyer/actor named Roger Simon because my brother in Chicago is married to a woman whose sister Donna was once married to Roger Simon’s brother.”
I called Roger later and told him about this ferblundget connection. Roger, by training and talent, wasn't speechless, but I was astounded at how the game of Jewish Geography really does work. But wait — there's more!
A week later, Jay called me from the golf course. Roger and he had been rehashing the coincidence, and Roger mentioned off-handedly that Donna (my cousin's husband's sister-in-law’s sister) was the daughter of a Denver doctor named Eli Nelson. Wait till you hear THIS: Eli Nelson was the doctor who delivered Jay.
I'm waiting to hear that (a) Eli Nelson's wife's brother married my Grandma Borofsky's half sister or (b) that the chef at the restaurant we were going to that night is Roger’s sister’s grandson. Anything can (and does) happen.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Two words!! That's all it took to tell me that he's my co-religionist. So I e-mailed him:
Bill, the remark made by your mother ("enough already") leads me to believe she was the daughter of a Jewish immigrant from one or another of the downtrodden Balkan countries. You know me as Mollie Newman. My last name isn’t a particularly Jewish-sounding surname, but my husband is Jewish, and my maiden name is Saferstein, so I'M Jewish too.
Five minutes later I got an e-mail back:
Mollie, you and I may be distantly related. Both my parents came as teenagers to this country from Bialystok in 1920. My father’s family name at the time was Saperstein. He had a younger brother named Albert, who managed to get the education my father craved but could not have because he had to support his family. Albert embarked on a career in medical research at a time when it was difficult to be Jewish and also have any type of career in medicine. He felt he could move upward more easily if he chose a different name, so he picked Sabin. He then asked everyone else in his family to do the same so that anyone checking on his family background might not discover any disparities. He went on, of course, to do research in polio and he was the creator of the Sabin polio vaccine. I’ve often suspected that William Safire was also a Saperstein or a Saferstein way back when. In any event, the name means sapphire or sapphire stone, which means that we are all sparkling gems. = Bill
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
(It's tough to be a Jew) - Yiddish folk saying
Okay, it’s a valid Yiddish folk saying, but the word “Yid” has become an insult. It shouldn’t be; it only means Jew — from the word “jüde" (pronounced “yood”). It’s perfectly neutral, and therefore proper, in Germany (of all places) to say, for instance, “ein jüdisch deutsch"; all it means is “a person who’s Jewish-German"). The letters J and Y are interchangeable in some languages; a name like Sonja is pronounced Sonya, and I’m old enough to remember a newspaper headline about Jugoslavia.
Not to digress, BUT: You can see Sonja Henie on YouTube if you don’t mind grainy film. She does lots of pirouettes, skates backwards, runs on her tiptoes halfway across the rink, and has a single-rotation jump which she performs twice in her routine, and for that she gets the 1934 gold medal.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Of course, it's still kasha.