Saturday, December 6, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The frum school system has come a long way in the past decade as far as providing services for children in need. These include - reading help, math help, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and on and on. Our school, like many others, is affiliated with yeled v'yalda and we have a whole slew of therapists and proffessionals who work full time at my school.
Over the years I have come to know, associate with, and become friendly with the therapists who frequent my classroom, and I generally carry a pretty good relationship with them. One of them "Mrs. A.", a speech therapist, has an especially outgoing and lively personality.
Well here's where the problem began.
Mrs. A. walked into my classroom in Elul and saw that the students were learning about tekias shofar. She quietly walked over to me and asked me if she could just observe the child instead of pulling her out because she did not want the child to miss an important lesson. I agreed. Well, Mrs. A. did not just stand quietly, observe the student and write some notes, Mrs. A. stood near the child's desk and 'helped' her follow along. This lasted a full 15 minutes.
Mrs. A. came to school on Friday - teachers don't like to send students out on such short days, so she usually uses Fridays for paperwork. My Friday schedule usually looks something like this:
11:50-12:00: Pack up
For some reason that day I had decided to switch my parsha and chumash lessons and so I was teaching parsha at 10:15 when Mrs. A. walked in. She told me that since she had missed a day of work that week she was making up the session by observing "Ahuva" in class. She stood in the back of the classroom as the class came up with some titles summerizing the parsha. I wrote our brainstorms on the board and asked the students to copy them down on their parsha sheets. It happened to be that I needed to stand somewhere for no more than 60 seconds while they were writing and I partially blocked the view of the board from some students. I was aware of this and I apoligized to my students, told them I would move in less than a minute and then they would be able to see. Within 10 seconds of this announcement Mrs. A. was at my desk asking me if I could move over so that the kids could see. I moved as soon as I was able when I did she said to - "Morah, the students really couldn't see the board!"
I then continued my parsha lesson during which she interrupted me twice to give her own examples of what I was teaching. After that I gave the students a few quiet minutes during which they would illustrate points from the parsha we had learned. During this "quiet time" Mrs. A. circled my classroom while commenting and talking to the kids she passed about what they drew. Suddenly 25 kids ALL wanted Mrs. A. to come see their paper and she was hopping around the classroom. Needless to say, there was NO quiet time involved over here.
One of my last classes before Sukkos. I had such a creative lesson planned about the 4 minim. Right as I was starting my lesson Mrs. A. walked in. This time it was to ask me about a schedule change. She tried to ask me her question while I was teaching and I told I couldn't talk right then. Well, she decided to stay - again with the reason that she was observing "Ahuva" and "Racheli."
She interrupted me countless times to 're-explain' what I was saying because "some of the students didn't catch on the first time." She stood near the board and wrote down what she thought would make things clearer for the students. She was showing them motions to help them remember what they were learning - while I was teaching!!
I dismissed the class to recess 10 minutes early.
I've better 4 minim lessons in my teaching career. Way better.
6 weeks passed without an incident (2 of them were Sukkos vacation).
Today she came into my classroom again. She wanted to ask me about a schedule change that she had asked me about at least 5 times this year - I did not approve, it was not a good time for that particular child to miss class. Then she stayed. She stood near "Shani." Shani is not a student she works with. Shani has an extremely difficult time following multi step directions. Shani's visual comprehension is also not good and worksheets are very hard for her. Shani also has poor handwriting. She does not have a speech problem - she never leaves class to see Mrs. A. I know all this about Shani - I know her weaknesses and strengths.
Mrs. A. stood near Shani's desk while we did a chumash worksheet. She helped Shani the whole way through. The entire class had their eyes turned toward Mrs. A. wondering what she was doing and wishing she would come help them.
Then Mrs. A. came over to me - in the middle of the chumash lesson - to ask me if I knew that Shani had some issues. I was not willing to discuss it with her so she went to my desk, rummaged around to until she found a paper to write on - and wrote me a whole note about Shani.
How many red flags have you seen in these stories?
They are all true, they all happened this school year with one Mrs. A.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I, along with the rest of my community, as well as the Jewish community at large, spent almost three emotionally charged and emotionally stressful days giving extra tzedaka, saying tehillim around the clock, baking challah and keeping our eyes and ears glued to screens and to phones waiting for some sort of information upon which we could gather hope.
It was not meant to be.
Did I know Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg? No I did not know them personally, but I knew them. I knew them as well as any other young Lubavitch woman who shares the same goal, the same dream, the same mission as I do and as Rivky Holtzberg did. He was a child of the neighborhood I live in. His parents live down the block from me. His niece was my student a few years ago. Another niece learns in the classroom next door to mine this year.
Rosh Chodesh Kislev is a special day on the Chabad calendar. It is usually a day of great joy, of festivity, of celebration. Now, this day of joy is marred by horrific tragedy. As I sang the "Rosh Chodesh Kislev Niggun," a joyful niggun attributed to that significant day on our "chassidishe calendar," with my class on Friday, I heard mourning instead of joy, I saw tragedy instead of celebration.
This is not how it is supposed to be.
Many have already written essays. Many have expressed their thoughts. As for me - there is nothing for me to say. This is sad time in my community. A sad time indeed.
Check this out if you're interested in more.
You can listen to the nigun I mentioned here.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Friday, 2000 local time (0930 ET) -- The bodies of five hostages have been found in the Chabad House, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official said Friday. Spokesman Haim Hoshen told an Israel news station the bodies had been found. Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, the city's envoy for the community, and his wife were among the dead in Chabad House, said Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for Chabad-Lubavitch International in the United States. Earlier, Commissioner of Mumbai Police Hasan Gafoor said the standoff at the Chabad House was in its "final stages." Hours earlier, two dozen soldiers landed on the rooftop of the five-story building. Throngs of onlookers crowded into terraces of nearby buildings and heard sounds of gunfire and at least 10 explosions coming from inside. The Nariman House is the Mumbai headquarters of the Chabad, a Hasidic Jewish movement. Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, the city's envoy for the Chabad community, and his wife were believed to be among those inside. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Sandra Samuel, a cook for the center who had barricaded herself in a room in the house, said she grabbed a toddler whom she identified as Holtzberg's son and fled the building with another person. "I took the child. I just grabbed the baby and ran out," Samuel told Haaretz.
In this time of tragedy may we find the strength and emunah to continue doing all we can to bring an aliya to these neshamos kedoshos.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
May Hashem grant us a yeshua!!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
ETA - I chose one what do you think??
Thursday, November 13, 2008
** You can read Deborah Shaya's comment to my sheitel post here
I have no idea if you are a reader of my blog or if you are simply using internet search engines to spam every blog you can find with your unwanted and unsolicited advice. I will not argue with you about what is right or wrong, I will simply state the following:
I am Lubavitch and proud to be so. I know that there are (sadly) people out there who may view me and my path of Judaism in the negative, I am truly sorry to hear that.
Being the observant Jew that I am, I follow the piskei dinim of Rabbonim, as Jews have been doing for centuries. I do not invent my own versions of halacha, and I do not do things because I like it better that way. As far as covering hair, Lubavitch (and many many many others) paskens according to the Tzemach Tzedek who writes:
"Privately, in the presence of her husband, a woman is permitted to expose 'side hairs' (the hair growing in front of her upper ear) which extend beyond her kerchief. While other men are present, however, there is no heter to do so....
Fore hair protruding beyond the kerchief is halachically identical with erva - nakedness just as (or even more severe than) the exposure of the leg...
Exposure of the hair outside the kerchief is pritzuz - licentiousness...
To expose the least bit of hair is absolutely prohibited... any who thinks this is permitted has obviously forgotten the gemara that even school boys know..."
This is a direct (translated) quote from the tshuva of the Tzemach Tzedek on Even Hoezer and Yoreh De'ah, as well as his commentary on Shas (G' Brachos)
This is my halachic source for covering my all my hair all the time - I will not argue that point any further.
As far as your rant against sheitels. I am aware that rabbonim have instituted bans against sheitels - I am not only educated with one (narrow) way of thinking, nor is my knowledge limited to what those around me do. However, there are plenty of sources that refute your point by saying that once the hair is removed from the body it no longer has the status of the person it belonged to, meaning - hair that has been removed cannot carry the tuma of the person it grew on.
If you have never learned these sources go educate yourself before making outlandish, unintelligent comments on people's blogs.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
I think that the biggest shock of my entire kallah class was listening to my kallah teacher, a very very frum - and looks the part - lady speak. She had a very practical, straightforward way of presenting things. She didn't beat around the bush, she didn't smile and say "you're chosson will know" and yet every single one of her classes were given within the very strict boundaries of tznius, never once crossing the line.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Aidel asked about my sheitel so here goes:
A good friend once put it wisely. Wearing a sheitel has its stages.
Stage 1: Not so bad
Stage 2: I got used it
Stage 3: Hey that's me in the mirror
Stage 4: Hey that's me in the mirror and I don't look so bad
Stage 5: Hey that's me in the mirror and I look good
Stage 6: Hey that's me in the mirror and I like how I look
Stage 7: My sheitel is so comfortable I hardly feel it.
I think I'm up to somewhere between stage 4 and stage 5
Sidepoint - you're probably getting loads of advice from everyone and everywhere, so you're welcome to ignore this if you really want (especially since you did not ask for advice!!!). My personal experience has been that for some reason I always took advice from my small circle of blog friends slightly more seriously - I'm not sure why - aomething to do with everyone being anonymous.
1. Sheitel Companies - boy do people have an opinion on this one!
Long sheitels get knotty. I have two shevys - they both tangle very badly, my sister in law has Noas and they tangle, my friend has a David - it tangles. One friend has a Shuly and it never tangled but the hair started falling out after about 5 months.
Don't let anyone convice you that one Sheitel company is better than another. They're all the same, they're all overpriced and the main thing is that when you put the sheitel on , you want to look good.
2. Testing it out.
Before your sheitel macher cuts the wig, ask her to wash it and let it air dry. A good sheitel should air dry nicely, if it gets frizzy thats exactly how you will look after the rain.
If you are nervous about cutting you sheitel ask your sheitel macher to cut just a bit and then take it home and wear it around the house, you'll look in the mirror enough times to decide what you want to do with it. You don't have to chop your sheitels before you wedding, you can have the front and sides cut and then decide what you want to do with it after you've really been wearing for long periods of time.
Wear it wear it wear it. Once you take your sheitel home practice putting it on, taking it off, putting it on a sheitel head, etc. If you're brave you can practice making a pony, half pony, wearing a headband, using clips, boppy pins, claws etc. The more you get used to it now the easier it will when it's for real.
3. Wash and Sets Cost $$$$$!
Ask your sheitel macher or someone you know who knows how to care for sheitels to give you a crash course in how to wash and set a sheitel. Invest in a good blow dryer (if you don't already have one) - I would say visio or elchim save yourself a lot of money.
Very Important: Make sure your sheitel macher will back your sheitel. Most sheitels come with a one year warranty - don't let anyone convince you that your sheitel is fine if you ch''v feel that it is not!
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The wireless card on my laptop started going a little querky about two weeks before my wedding. Lucky for me I happened to have been living in a NY basement with three other women (not girls, girls where uniforms and do spelling homework, women work for a living, pay taxes, but their own food and pay rent - at least those women who get ejected from their homes and shippen off to the dating Mecca lest they stay right were they are and make all prospects saddle their horses to court them- they have to pay rent... not to get sidetracked or anything) anyway, I live with three other women and three other computers - no we weren't nice enough to share - hence three other methods of connnecting to the internet.
Sometime during the week of and the week after my wedding, the card stopped working completely. Sigh. Between living out of boxes and suitcases in a rented basement for 6 weeks while we waited for our lovely Brooklyn apartment to be ready, and then repacking, moving, upacking again, and finally setting up the new apartment, oh and by the way working full time, who had time and patience to sit on the phone with some customer service rep in india trying yo convince him that the computer is still under warranty and that they should really fix it for me!
Anyway, I finally did it, got the the box and sent it in thinking it would be two weeks before I got it back. Luckily it wasn't two weeks but the computer came back the day before we left town for pesach.
So, to make a long story short or a short story long, I'm back. And I have soooooooooooo much to say I'm not even sure I can organize it enough to write it down... Don't give up on me though!
Monday, February 18, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Oh what a topic of conversation this can be!
"What kind of sheitel is it? Who did you buy it from? Who cut it for you? Oh her? Is she good? I mean I know a lot of people go to her, but I've heard things... It's a Shevy? You should know that Shevys knot up, I'm just warning you, take care of it before it gets really bad... Do you mind me asking how much you paid? $$$$??? Are you serious? It's crazy! Sheitels just cost so much! What color is this? A 4? A 6? Just keep in mind that at the end of the summer it's going to be much lighter, you're gonna have to re-dye it. How many inches? 16? 14? 18? Are you planning on wearing it up or down? Personally I think that all sheitels look the same, you know side bangs, bottle curls... Are you planning on wearing it like you wear your hair? You know in six months you're not going to really care if your sheitel looks like your hair, you're just going to want it to look nice. Is it comfortable? You'll get used to it, it's like putting on glasses for the first time. Just get ready to start finding bald spots where the clips are, they really pull out your hair. This isn't your only sheitel is it?"
And then when they finally stop their thirty minute monologue to take a breath, I interject with "I really don't remember asking your opinion..."
Ok, ok, I'm not THAT rude but I do really feel like saying that sometimes.
The one thing (if only one) I've learned during this whole sheitel buying, beginning of sheitel wearing, realizing that I'm actually going to be wearing a sheitel, and just plain old sheitel business is this:
No matter how much money I spend, no matter which sheitel macher I go to, no matter how natural my sheitel looks, no matter what, when I look into the mirror I see a sheitel. Period. To everyone else it looks beautiful/natural/amazing/etc and to me? I see a wig. Sigh. This will be tough. I guess I'll get used to it, but it will be tough.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Since this is such a difficult part of teaching for me, I tend to be very very careful never to put myself (as a teacher) in this situation; sometimes, however, it cannot be avoided...
The number one most dangerous place a teacher can put herself in is... a power struggle.
I don't mean to shout out my qualities as a teacher, but I will state that I run a very well run classroom, I never ever have a problem (anymore) with classroom control, and my students are trained in, from the first day of school, to follow classroom rules, to accept the teacher as authority, and to follow certain classroom routines. They know good and well what I expect of them.
Just to give an example - I teach a low elementary grade, little girls. At this point in the year, I am able to leave my classroom for a few minutes and when I return my students will 99% of the time be doing what I left them doing. Rarely, if ever, will I come back to a class that is jumping off the walls.
These are things that help eliminate a possible power struggle before it even begins to arise.
BUT. Today was different.
Upon returning to the classroom after our morning recess, Leah* and Malky* both came to my desk and showed me a note that was scrawled on in a child's messy handwriting.
It read: "Leah is a maniac."
Malky, in her everlasting loyalty to her friend, solemnly told me
"Chanie did it."
Chanie vehemently denied the action saying
"I would never do such a thing!"
In fact, not only did Chanie deny writing the note, but so did every other one of my 26 students. They denied it so strongly that it seems to me that the note blew in from the window.
Picture this- twenty-six pairs of eyes staring at Morah. One of which is terribly hurt because she now knows that someone in the classroom hates her. I have no idea who wrote the note. They are all waiting to see what I am going to do.
On the one hand, I should leave the situation right now. If I probe further and am not successful in finding the culprit, I have entered a power struggle and lost. The absolute worst situation I can put myself in.
On the other hand, If I back out now, I will have one very upset student who will most probably hold a grudge against the accused (Chanie) whether or not Chanie actually wrote the letter. Knowing my class and knowing Leah in particular, I know that this grudge will not remain a grudge, it will turn into a fight at best and a full fledged classroom war at worst.
Neither situation is ideal, and neither situation is one that I would like to deal with in school. Both situations will involve me spending a good few hours on the phone with numerous parents, breaking up fights, etc. Sigh. It gives me headache to think about it.
What would you do?
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
"Oh. You're engaged. You MUST be on a different planet."
Can I ask - is it illegal for a young woman who just got engaged to actually stay on planet earth? Because it seems like people are urging me to go for psychiactric testing, or maybe to the machanic, looks the engine on this spaceship that's supposed to take me to some far out lala land is malfunctioning.
Happy? You better believe I'm happy. Excited? Nervous? Terrified? Thrilled? Yeah yeah - all the "kallah" emotions (as if the Kallah owns them - no one else has a right y'know) - I am feeling, I just happen to be feeling on planet Earth, I'm trying to figure out why everyone thinks that this is just so off...
On another note- I keep thinking about you bloggy friends and about how nice it would be if we weren't anonymous and you guys would be able to dance at my wedding... (and no I would NEVER allow anyone to try to introduce you to ANY shadchan of any form at my wedding, I mean can't a girl have some fun for once? gee...)
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Anyway I finally started getting used to the fact that I actually got engaged that the story of agreeing or diagreeing to go out with, ok let's call him Charlie, seems kind of old but a promise is a promise so I'll continue.
I basically agreed to go out with two thoughts in mind - either it will work or it won't. The first time we went out he followed all the rules and I followed all the rules (and by the way we met half of Brooklyn - 8 other nervous dating couples in the hotel lobby my dear intended chose - I almost asked him to take me home right then and there). I came home and said "he was normal enough to go out with again, after that I can't promise." Well, during date number 2 I learned that I know my way around this town way better than he does, but I did credit him with choosing a better location - another hotel lobby, sigh.
The topic of conversation accidentally turned serious in the middle of the second date, so serious in fact that when I got home I decided that he probably doesn't ever want to see me again. Wrong I was. So we went out again. And again. During all those agains I decided that this was someone that would make a wonderful husband and even though it scared me to death I informed him that I was ready to get engaged. We were in the car driving through the Midtown Tunnel and he almost drove into those dividing poles. It was actually kind of funny.