Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween...Jewish or not?

I am not a big fan of Halloween. Perhaps stemming from my first grade experience when the principal scared me half to death with his costume, I struggle each year with the way Halloween has become so "big" these days. Lights, costumes, candy, decorations, months of build-up...

Many Jews justify Halloween as "just like Purim." In fact, it's just about the opposite.

On Halloween, we send our children out to beg for candy.
On Purim, we send our children out with gifts of candy and other food.

On Halloween, our costumes glorify death and evil.
On Purim, our costumes glorify the struggles and triumphs of our people.

With that said, I know that even my own children will dress in costumes and engage in the practice of trick-or-treating...so....

Filing this under "if you can't beat-em, join-em"....here are some ways to add Jewish values into your Halloween:
- carry a UNICEF box or other tzedakah collection instead of or in addition to collecting candy.
- donate your uneaten candy to Children's Memorial Hospital or other groups.
- collect your Halloween costumes after the holiday to send to children in Israel or the Former Soviet Union for their Purim celebrations.
- talk to your kids about the origins of Halloween, what it means and where it came from.
- discuss with your family the merits of "begging" for candy and how that works in our society. What does it mean to be a "beggar" and how can we help those who are truly in need?

Read more here:
Should Jewish children trick-or-treat? This was a question posed to bloggers on Mixed Multitudes, the blog for MyJewishLearning.com.

Here is an interesting article about Halloween and Jewish law.

Making Peace with Halloween (a cute idea for telling the Midrash of David and the spider!)

Can you give but not get?

What do you think about Halloween?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Helping Fire Victims

The Union for Reform Judaism has set up a relief fund for those who have been injured or lost their homes in the Southern California fires. Click here to make a donation.

In addition, they are collecting gift cards for those who are trying to rebuild. A gift card gives a strong measure of dignity to the recipient, allowing him or her to choose what to buy while still receiving a donation. In addition, it's simpler than shipping large quantities of goods across the country. Click on this link to see the list of companies that are in the Southern California area and from which they are collecting gift cards. In addition, the address to send your cards to is listed on this site.

In addition, the Chicago Jewish United Fund has established a relief fund. Click here to make a donation through that organization.

We all stand together.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Honors for Ed Alpert

I am so excited to be going to Cincinnati for the installation of Ed Alpert, Am Shalom's executive director, as the new president of NATA, the National Association of Temple Administrators.

Coming up Wednesday -- my review of our trip! Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Moment of Silence? or Prayer?

What's up with a return of the "prayer in schools" debate? I thought this was over, that we had certainly determined that prayer was not allowed in public education. So...this week the Illinois legistature overrode the governor's veto of a measure that mandates a moment of silence in public schools. My own son is in the public schools, and while the measure will not take effect until it is signed into law, I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about it.

On the one hand, I can't imagine what a "moment of silence" will look like in a kindergarten classroom. They're never quiet!

But on the other, it does seem just one small step away from school prayer.

What do you think?

In related news, a teenager in Texas has been banned from his school because of violation of the dress code. His religion, Rastafarianism, tells him to keep his hair long and dreadlocked, which violates the school's rules. So he's been segregated from the other students until he complies.

The school says his religion "doesn't count." Are they allowed to do that? What if they decided that Judaism "didn't count"?

Definitely check out this book: The Baptizing of America by Rabbi James Rudin. An interesting read that will probably scare you crazy. He spoke a few years ago at Am Shalom, and let me tell you, it makes you wonder....

So...I ask again...what do you think? Prayer in schools? Haircuts for all? Can't wait to read your comments...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Paper vs. Plastic...the Essential Question?

I usually grocery shop at Sunset (a local chain), although at least once a month I hit Jewel or Dominick's. At Sunset, not only do they bag your groceries for you, they even take them out of the cart -- serious luxury for this girl! The other thing they ask you at Sunset is...."paper or plastic?" I must admit, I always thought that paper was the better choice...until I read these statistics:

plastic bags consume 40% less energy to produce than paper pags, and
plastic bags generate 80% less solid waste than paper bags.
as waste, paper bags produce 70 times more air pollutants than plastic bags, and
as waste, paper bags produce 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.
Plastic takes up to 1,000 years to decompose!

(stats from the Clean Green Bag)

The final answer...neither is really good. In fact, both are pretty darn bad.

So today, at Dominick's, I picked up four of their re-usable tote bags, and the nice lady loaded my groceries into them. My thoughts:

- What would have probably filled at least 10 plastic bags all fit into 4 reusable totes and one plastic bag.
- They were pretty heavy but totally held up.
- The handles made them easy to carry.
- For only 99 cents a piece, they were a great deal!

Are they sturdy enough to hold up? Listen to this little facty: "A sturdy, reusable bag needs only be used 11 times to have a lower environmental impact than using 11 disposable plastic bags." (The Sierra Club) I think my bags will make it.

I'm so excited for them!
(My only other question: Will Sunset care if I bring in Dominick's bags? Maybe that will convince them to get their own!!!)

Here are some links to sites where you can get reusable bags or learn more about them...

A bag roundup from this week's Chicago Tribune
Skeeda re-usable bags

Here's my question for you: Would you use these bags? What would get you to do so?
AND...what do you do with newspapers for recycling? That's the only thing I use the paper bags for. I can use the bags that come with the newspapers for diapers...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Can't Wait for Simchat Torah!

Don't forget to join us at 7pm tomorrow night at 840 Vernon Ave for our Simchat Torah celebration...music, dancing, a celebration of our love of the Torah!

Plus...consecration of our new students and kindergarteners into our Religious School. My own little boy will be consecrated -- he's so excited! (and...so am I!)

Hope to see you there!!!