Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ice cream sure is yummy- but CHOCOLATE? you melt my heart!

The world can neatly be divided into two groups. Ice cream lovers and chocolate lovers. There are the rare few who love both. Sure plenty of people LIKE both ice cream and chocolate, but few people have a true passion for both. I am a chocolate person. In recent weeks I've been made aware of the joys of ice cream. Particularly Ben and Jerry's cookie dough ice cream. JOY! I relish my ice cream time, a few special moments in a busy day to cherish raw cookie goodness. However- the day my husband surprised me with a box of four mini Godiva chocolates- I was captivated, elevated, enraptured- I entered a different state of consciousness. Now- of course this is just personal opinion. I love all kinds of chocolate. But I am of the general opinion that chocolate is objectively better than ice cream. Chocolate is an age old, sophisticated food- first enjoyed as a beverage by  ancient Mayan royalty. Ice cream is something that comes to you in a waffle cone from a tuneless singing truck.  Chocolate artisans are celebrated the world over, Swiss and Belgian chocolate varieties are prized. Ice cream is cherished and celebrated by children. Children are our future and are wonderful- and I don't mean to put them down. But- try THIS on for size- there is chocolate flavored ice cream because chocolate is a worthy flavor. I have yet to discover ice cream flavored chocolate. 'Nuff said!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When tznius defeats its own purpose?

I’m sure all of you who have attended Bais Yaakov- (or even a seminary in Israel) or functioned for any length of time as a woman in frum society- know about tznius- loosely defined as modesty. Tznius’s purpose is to play down the exteriors of a woman- her body and clothes- so that her true worth can be appreciated. It allows women to be more than a glittery fa├žade, more than arm candy, more than a trophy wife. It allows a woman to remain attractive- beautiful even- and yet also appreciated for her skills, her mind, her heart, and her personality. Tznius’s value is in its spirit- in understanding you are worthy of respect and so you demand it by your mode of dress, speech and behavior. Tznius is a beautiful concept and a beautiful tradition we frum women uphold.
 Whether the average (ok- slightly above average in height!) frum woman keeps these concepts in mind as she tries (in vain) to find a skirt to cover the knees on her 5”11 frame is debatable. Most men don’t contemplate the meaning of tzitzis- as they get dressed. And the half-awake male dozing under his yarmulke is certainly not contemplating G-d’s awesome, constant presence above him. Women are the same- we don’t often think about tznius- it’s just how things are. Like all women, we want to feel attractive, and like all women we love clothes and presenting ourselves well. We often forget just how different our appearances are from our gentile counterparts.
 Surfin’ the Shidduch Scene’s recent encounter at a work social event shook up my perceptions about tznius. Surfin the Shidduch Scene was the sole modest female in attendance at a ritzy work event. She was the only salmon in a sea of tropical fish. In a visually dazzling crowd of exposed shoulders and low necklines, of bright hued magentas, fire engine reds and itsy bitsy black cocktail dresses- she stood alone at the bar in her frum evening attire. (imagine if you will an adorable knee length black dress, long sleeved-maybe chiffon? Cute? Yes- eye catching? NO.). Lo and behold- a male party attendant was drawn to and fascinated by her. He said all of the other females present bored him. She was different and that peaked his interest.
-BOING- That- dear readers is the sound of all of my preconceived notions about tznius bouncing back and hitting me in the head.  By dressing in her traditional, modest way Surfin’ the Shidduch Scene drew (arguably negative) attention to herself! There is a certain allure to a woman who is unavailable- the forbidden fruit. People always want what they can’t have. So, in this case (and I’m sure in many other cases) is tznius defeating its own purpose? In a hyper-sexualized, over exposed world is the idea of a covered woman more appealing? MORE alluring? What does this mean for tznius? Perhaps standing out does not go against tznius but supports its greatest tenet. Yes, you may stand out- but you stand out because people wonder who the woman behind the long sleeved attire is- not because your tznius dress makes you inherently more physically desirable. Tznius causes people to be curious about the woman herself. What kind of woman arrives at a formal affair with shoulders, cleavage and legs hidden? What kind of fish swims against the current? Well- a boring old salmon of course! J

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Going Senile?

The other day I took one of my students (an adorable little African American boy with HUGE eyes) out of class for a session. I see around 15-20 kids a day and I don't always remember what I do with each of them- so I asked "Malachai- did we do the caterpillar activity yet?" He laughed and said "We did that last week!" then he continued "But it's ok you forgot! I know why you did! Grownups always forget everything- but kids remember everything!" I laughed- and it was funny how he said it so matter of factly-but thinking about it later I got a little bit scared. I do indeed remember having an incredible memory- whose turn it was in a game, which girl always won davening awards (just because she had a loud voice!) and what we'd learned the previous day. It's true that children have phenomenal memories- I specifically remember a third grade teacher who took it upon herself to teach us various random facts, all the trei-asar, all the shoftim etc. etc. because she said our minds were sharp and our memories were good and we'd be glad to have these facts at our fingertips as adults. (and I am) But are adults THAT impaired in terms of memory compared to children? Could it be that we are more distracted, have more on our plates- more responsibilities, and more worries- that eat at our concentration and prevent us from forming memories in the first place? Am I senile at 24?