Cape for Kali :)

Dear readers,

Please take a look at a delightful new children’s book published by my adopted sister, Rabbi Galina Trefil. In short, this book teaches kids that it’s ok to be different and that in fact, being different is beautiful!  I will be reviewing it later this month!

Link to Cape for Kali

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Thank you for sticking with me!

Just a quicky Hi to you guys! I am so honored that so many of you are still sticking with me even though I’ve been on a bit of a radio silence for a while.I want you to know that I am doing better and although I miss my mom every moment, I am learning to move forward. I am starting to read again at my usual pace and have actually a book in mind that was given to me during my mourning that I would love to comment on here. Alice Hoffman does wonderful nonfiction, you guys!

Anyway, I will be back soon, hopefully after this weekend’s birthday celebration. That would be my own, and I think I might be ready to celebrate myself even though I feel rather wistful at the same time.

Love,

Eugenia

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For my Rita

One month ago, my mommy had gotten diagnosed with diffused large b cell lymphoma. Two weeks ago, she began her first chemo cycle. Thirty eight hours ago my beloved mommy passed away. She handled chemo like a trouper, didn’t complain or ask for anything. For several days after chemo ended, she felt fine. Then the fatigue set in and things unraveled from there. On Tuesday she ended up in the ER and eventually ICU as everything got worse. On Friday, early in the morning despite putting up an insanely hard fight given how sick she became, my mother went back to her first family: her mother, father and older sister.

You may ask me how I can write right now. With a great amount of difficulty but full clarity of mind. I am the younger of two, and the daughter and I don’t think I grasped even the millimeter of how much I love my mother until now, how close I was with her. This blog is important to me and I feel like I’ve bonded with you all to the point where I can share my real life with you. My mom is (and I think I am going to be saying is for a long time) a very private, old fashioned person, I don’t think she understood what a blog really was and I seem to recall her pretty much rolling her eyes at me when I told her about it. But she cared about what made me happy and having this outlet makes me happy. She had the same attitude towards Facebook.

She instilled the love of reading and books in me which led me to this blog in the first place. As many kids, I didn’t share myself fully with mom and though I know she was often hurt by it, she understood. She raised me to be loyal and independent, stubborn and private like she was. I wasn’t always the easiest daughter but I know she always knew how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. On her last day, I started reading to her from a book she shared with me as a child, a book we both read as kids. And I know she was happy to hear me read to her, maybe she thought it was cheesy but I know she heard me and it comforts me that we could share this even when she was asleep.

I love you мама. 10351399_10100315302867559_3244375718699888115_n

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Life changes

It’s been a rather quiet last few months for me on this blog, no? There were some things happening in my life that I didn’t want to publicize online both because I was asked not to and because I didn’t think it needed to be out there yet. I promise you I’ve been reading. Probably not as much on the blog topics but definitely enough to prepare my mind for what was happening. While my own life was changing, the outside world’s view of the Jewish people has been getting harsher and now I find myself with the idea that it’s even more important to showcase the beauty and variety of Jewish books. We as a people have so much to offer in stories, learning and experiences. And we are proud to do so. And myself right along with that especially now.

So what is this thing I keep referring to that has kept me away from the blog for the last months? Well……here is my reason. At the end of November, my husband and I had our first baby: an adorable little dude, Raphael. I was pretty preoccupied with the pregnancy for most of the year and then once the baby actually came, the postpartum has proved very physically challenging for myself in many ways, never mind the actual child taking care of bit. If you want to see a photo of my little guy, message me and I’ll share. I was about to post a photo of him online but decided that was probably not the smartest idea right now.

My reading freedom has been certainly very hampered but I will be hopefully able to get into some kind of routine again before too long as having a little one definitely offers me a new chance to read to him. There are many lovely children’s books out there that we had been gifted and many lovely Jewish children’s books I can’t wait to read to my little boy. My blogging will continue to be somewhat sporadic until Raphi gets older but I am not going anywhere just yet.

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Why ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Is a Hit in Japan – Tablet Magazine

http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/252671/a-fiddler-in-tokyo?utm_source=fb&utm_medium=post&utm_term=fiddler+on+the+roof&utm_content=jan2018

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The Best Jewish Children’s Books of 2017 – Tablet Magazine

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/250994/best-jewish-childrens-books-2017?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=983330082b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_12_08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-983330082b-207659821

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The Diaries of Italian Resistance Fighter Emanuele Artom – Tablet Magazine

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/248734/diary-of-the-italian-resistance?utm_source=tabletmagazinelist&utm_campaign=54420e3adb-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_12_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c308bf8edb-54420e3adb-207659821

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Trevor Noah and the Jews

Off topic but strangely not, I am currently reading Trevor Noah’s memoir about growing up in South Africa as a mixed child during the end of apartheid (see below).

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I’ve read quite a number of celebrity memoirs in my life, even a few Jewish ones though surprisingly not as many as you would think which is rather ironic considering Jews can talk about themselves plenty. At any rate, I most definitely did not expect to run into the Jewish question in this particular story given that a. Noah is not Jewish, b. he is from South Africa, c. he is African, and d. he is a television host (though shoot, I guess that’s more of a likelihood territory especially since he used to work for John Stewart).

Anyway, and this probably should have been the tip-off, I was reading a chapter called “Go, Hitler.” Now, to make it clear, this is not what it sounds like. Noah had a friend in SA who was in fact named Hitler because his parents and others in SA were under the impression that the name literally stood for “tough guy.” Noah had already gone on extensively about the absurd and deliberate lack of education for both the African and the colored community from the white dominant force. So the people’s lack of knowledge who Hitler was and what he did and subsequent usage of his name, did not offend me as much as it made me uncomfortable.

Fine, whatever, I move on and read. Then however, Noah says the following “I often meet people in the West who insist that the Holocaust was the worst atrocity in human history, without question. Yes, it was horrific. But I often wonder, with African atrocities like the Congo, how horrific were they? The thing Africans don’t have that Jewish people do have is documentation…..But when you read through the history of atrocities against Africans, there are no numbers, only guesses. It’s harder to be horrified by a guess.”

My first gut feeling was to be completely freaking disgusted. How dare he say something like this? Those numbers were fucking estimates to begin with and I highly doubt my great grandfather, great uncle, great aunt and families who got shot and buried in the forests of Ukraine were ever meticulously documented before their murder. My second feeling after I slept on it was to attempt to approach Noah’s statement from his point of view. And yes, I will say this, a lot of what he says is valid. Yes, there are no numbers of victims of apartheid, of white colonialization, of intertribal warfare and sales into slavery, all they have is estimates and not even good ones. He is entirely justified in looking at the history of his continent in that way.

However. And this is a gigantic however. The Holocaust was just the latest atrocity in the two thousand year old history of atrocities against the Jews most of which were most definitely not documented with meticulous records. There are the post WWII pogroms in Eastern Europe, there are pogroms in Kishinev in 1905-06, there are pogroms in 1880s all over Russian Empire that spurred on massive American Jewish immigration. There are Cossack pogroms in 1648 in Ukraine, there are blood libels and resulting massacres in medieval France, Germany, Poland, etc. Then of course one can’t forget the Crusader massacres throughout the centuries. And so on and on and on into the depths of Jewish history post-exile.

There are no records of how many were killed. What there is the deep, bloody wounded memory going back more generations than any of us can count. And it’s most unkind to forget about the suffering of those people in favor of their distant descendants. But really ultimately, this should not be about who suffered more. It shouldn’t be about saying that this particular set of murders was worse than another. Genocide is genocide is genocide regardless of which group was targeted. It’s the keeping score rhetoric, the my suffering is worse than yours, and to a degree a slight flavor of well Jews are white so….their suffering isn’t quite the same anyway, that made reading that part of Noah’s book unbearable. Can’t we just agree that my people have suffered greatly and his people have suffered and both sides still continue to suffer? Why should it always come down to my pain is worse?

I would like to think that Noah wasn’t going down the casual anti-Semitism route, after all his mother eventually converted to Judaism herself. I want to think that he is doing his very best to understand the history of himself in context of his own people’s experiences. I would prefer that he keeps comparisons such above to a naught because there is no need for them. People have suffered greatly, their suffering was ignored. The end.

 

 

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Jacob Glatstein and the Magic Mountain of Yiddish – Tablet Magazine

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Oh why not. My Jewish cat!

Ever have a strong desire to post something but no motivation to put in actual effort? Well that’s me right now so I give you cat photos instead.

We love our cat daughter Sonia though her naughtiness can get somewhat frustrating. She’s so darn cute though so we forgive too much 🙂

Here’s Sonia in our front window doing her “Where are you going mommy?”

And of course, cuddle up to dad thoughtful look.

The ” I want to play Destiny 2, daddy!” Look

Post grocery store trip ” I must play and hide in all the bags” mania.

We love our little gorgeous nut if it’s not obvious.

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Free Vanished World 2018 calendar.

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FBI: Jews Subject to 54% of Religiously Motivated Hate Crimes in 2016, Despite Being Just 2% of U.S. Population – Tablet Magazine

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Photographing Eastern Europe’s Fading Jewish Architecture – Tablet Magazine

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