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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I just snuck out on my lunch break to get a haircut.
Here's a haiku I wrote that sums it up.

Another lame haircut
What part of "like a rockstar"
didn't you understand?

Really, it's like I SAY "Rockstar!" and they HEAR "Soccer Mom!"

Maybe I shouldn't care since I cover my hair anyway, but I still do.
There is no reason I shouldn't look chic in the privacy of my own home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Note: I had originally written this out with links to all the blogs and comments and my computer ate it. Perhaps that was a sign that this piece is in poor taste. Not withstanding, here is the lazy woman’s version of my original post since I don't have the time or patience to do it all again.

By pulling together information from various blogs I have come up with the ultimate shidduch, a perfect match! The bad news is that should these two humans marry and mate they may unleash upon us most narrow minded offspring known to the Jewish world.

Coming soon to only Simchas: Heshy and Lisa!


From Rachak's blog we learn that Heshy is divorced and single.
From DovBear's blog we learn that he is a mysogist but that it is not the turn off one might think (for some women anyway.) He loves Torah but not Jews who are unlike himself.
We also learn from his comments on DB that Heshy feels that the suffering any person (or six million people for that matter) undergoes is of his own making.
From his own site we learn that he prepares a full traditional Shabbos meal free of charge for any and all who will sit and listen to his religious diatribes while they eat.
From the photo on Jewschool it appears that Ol' Heshy enjoys a bit of the kugel himself now and then.


Based on her comments on Dovbear and the Godol Hador's follow up I see Lisa as follows:
Lisa is a woman who believe in the spirituality of kugel, so much so that she uses it as a proof for God's very existence. She is a traditionalist and not fond of change bristling at the idea of serving sushi over the traditional gefilte fish for example. She also feels that people who do not follow God's will (to her understanding) will not reap his promised rewards. This is the kinder, gentler flip-side to Heshy's fire and brimstone notion of justice.

While Lisa's martial status is unknown to me at this time I think it is only a matter of time before she gives up whatever she's got going on for this Daf Yomi lovin' kugel eatin' man of action.

Let's get these two together and see what happens.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


I've had a headache for the past two days- not coincidentally this is exactly how long my husband has been away on business. I've got some good blogging planned but lack the brain power to get my ideas into writing. Things might be a little light for a while until the homestead returns to normal.

Last night at about 10PM my doorbell rang. I'm not accustomed to having unexpected visitors at the hour so I didn't open the door. Through the door a man with a thick Russian accent told me that he is a mover and I should let him in. I told him I did not hire a mover and what kind of moving takes place at 10PM?!
He insisted mine was the correct address and that he was here with my stuff from California.
No way I said, you have the wrong place. He told me the name of the customer and I told him that it was not me. FINALLY he went away.

Funny, when my husband is home only pretty girls pitching Sierra Club, or DNC memberships seem to come to the door.

Monday, June 20, 2005

On Losing the Baby Race

Come, let us sit in a circle of non-judgment so that I may reveal my deep dark secret to you, my j-blogging brethren...

I am a married, Orthodox, Jewish woman and I have only two children.
Or as my husband likes to say, we are "losing the baby race."

This situation can be interpreted in a few ways depending on your point of view:

My Bais Yaackov buddies:
Since my old high school friends know me from my frummy days (and in fact I am still quite committed to Torah) they assume there must be something terribly wrong with my reproductive health. I'm sure if I could find some record of the ladies tehillim list in Matesdorf or Bayit V'gan I'd find my name on more than one. When we talk about our children they tell me to have faith or try to encourage me by regaling me with tales of miraculous and unexpected childbearing.

Toby Katz:
According to recent excerpts from her great body of work (and by work I mean the alienation of Jews unlike herself) a Jewish woman's sole purpose is to bear and raise Jewish children. That understood I must either be a bad Jew, a bad woman or maybe both! Maybe I'm not even a Jew OR a woman, that would certainly be an interesting turn of events!

My Relatives:
You know Shifra, sweetheart, I wasn't going to say anything, you know we don't like to mix in... But your Uncle Max and I were talking to your Bubby, and you know, we were wondering if you were planning to have more children. I mean of course it's your business but you know that we were hoping you'd name a son after Max's brother Hymie. You are such a good mother, it just seemed like a natural thing you'd want more children, so nu?

Ultra Orthodox Jews:
Just two kids? A shandeh. Not that we are surprised, we didn't really think you were frum anyway.
Your college education and lack of pantyhose were a dead giveaway.
Better that you should just mess up the two you've got with your modernishe ways and leave the next generation to our ill mannered and undereducated little darlings.

Modern Orthodox Jews:
Yeshiva tuition is the best birth control - hahaha!
You guys aren't getting divorced or anything are you?
OK, just kidding hahahaha!

The Rest of the World:
The rest of the world sees me with my two beautiful daughters. They know I enjoy being a mother and that's that. Once in a while I hear "Do you plan to have more?" or "Would you like to have a boy?" But do you hear the language? Do I PLAN to have more would I LIKE to have a boy. There is no judgment, and there is also a realization that this is MY BUSINESS.

You Can't Go Home Again (ok you can, but prepare to be dissapointed)

I've just returned from the small mid-western town where I grew up.
I had not been "back home" in well over a year, which I accomplished by convincing my parents to come out to the East Coast to see us for the holidays instead of shlepping my family out west.
It was great to see my family, especially my nephews- the older one is almost 3 and just adorable and the new baby was very sweet as well. Other that that, however, I think I somehow managed to romanticize a place where I never actually enjoyed living.

True, the city itself is very nice- bright blue skys, big yards, semi-affordable housing, and lots of fun places to take the kids. The only drawback is the Jewish community which seems to have changed only for the worse.

When I grew in this small Orthodox community it was a broad mix of Orthodox Jews all davening together in one shul. When I got older the more right-wing jews split off first into a haskama minyan in the basement of the shul itself then ultimately in to a new and much nicer building taking the majority of the kehila (and the money) with them them. They hired a Rabbi who continued this push to the right by slowly making his own personal customs and stringencies the burden of his flock to the point where you can barely tell the the difference between this small town shul and one in Lakewood or Brooklyn.
Apparently his will is so strong that men who wear tefillin on chol hamoad are forced to sit at the the back of the bus, (I mean shul) on those days when their opinions differ from the Rabbi. That's just one example but I could list loads of others.

The other (original) shul has it's problems as well. The board of directed voted to oust the Rabbi but the congregation took up a seperate vote and chose to keep the Rabbi and oust the board of directors instead! The former board is now forming their own minyan. Lord have mercy.

In addition, the same brainless Telser's daughter I went to school and had nothing to say to as a kid, are now married to Telsers who work in their daddy's businesses. These women have it pretty good, and have never worked a day in their lives. They have big families and hang out at the pool club all day (fully dressed of course, with their custom sheitels on their heads) while teenaged lifeguards look after their children. I had a three minute conversation with a couple of them and then pretended to hear one of my own children calling so I could escape before I was ready to shoot myself in the head.

I used to say I'd move back there if I could but I don't think I'll be saying that anymore.
For a thinking person it would be a very lonely life.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mazal Tov!

My brother and his wife had a baby boy last week and I will be heading out to the mid-west for the bris this afternoon.

I'll be back next week with some new and hopefully clever material.
See you then!


Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Real Meaning of Shavous

Please visit our friend Shanna's weblog and help me convince her that Shavous without cheesecake is just not what God intended.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Since it's almost Shavous, I will share my recipe for what I consider to be the best cheesecake ever. This is definitely a purists' cheesecake; there are no raspberries, chocolate or nuts in it. Any extra additions would only take away from its excellent flavor and texture. If you must, add some canned cherry pie filling to the top of each slice, that's pretty good too. It's a big cheesecake and will serve a crowd.
I'm not much for bragging but this really is fabulous. Try it, I dare you, you'll throw your old recipe away and never look back.

Hardware: Springform Pan, electric beaters, rubber spatula, 2 mixing bowls (one large)

First, The Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
3 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

Directions: Mix all ingredients together and press into bottom of springform pan. If there is enough you can bring some of the mixture up the sides of the pan a bit as well.

And now, The Cheesecake
3 packages of cream cheese (not the kind in the tub, not whipped, not flavored and not low fat. This is a once a year thing, do it right.)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 pint sour cream (yes full fat, trust me)
1/3 cup flour
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice

Allow cream cheese to soften on the counter for an hour or so.
Preheat the over to 300 degrees.
Whip up the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside.
Mix all the other ingredients together well.
Carefully fold in the egg whites and pour into the springform pan over the crust.
Bake at 300 degrees in the middle of the oven for 1 1/4 hours or until the top is browned and cracking a bit (try not to open the oven during baking if at all possible).
VERY IMPORTANT: Turn off the oven and leave cake inside to rest for at least another hour after baking.

Store in refridgerate when cool.

Cheats: If you don't have a springform pan and don't want to bother with the crust you can buy three ready make graham cracker crusts and pour in the cheesecake mixture and bake. Your baking time will be a bit shorter but be sure to leave it in the oven for the full hour after baking.

Because you can never have enough Star Wars Parodies

Here's a cute little video which answers the question:
What would Star Wars have been like if it took place in a supermarket?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Hot or Not - Some semantics and a continuation

In order to properly continue this discussion some vocabulary needs to be nailed down.
Here's what we've learned from the last post:

1) Generally speaking snoods and baggy denim jumpers are not so hot.
2) Married women should bring a robe or pajamas along when they travel.

More to the point:
3) There is a difference between being beautiful and being hot. There is no doubt that a Jewish woman (married or not) can be beautiful, but hotness is a more complicated question.

So what does it mean to be hot? It means something different than beautiful. A child can be beautiful but cannot be "hot" I also believe that an elderly person cannot be considered "hot" although they may be beautiful. To me this means that being hot means being attractive in a more or less sexual way (depending on your interpretation.)

From an anthropological point of view it makes a lot of sense that women should have that certain unquantifiable thing that attracts men- this is what keeps the human race alive after all. However, once a Jewish woman has attracted her mate should her (potential) sexuality no longer be available for general consumption?

Many say that this is why married Orthodox women begin to cover their hair after marriage, adding another layer to her modesty to cover more of her sexuality which is now only available to her husband.

So let me add to one of my original questions:
Does the knowledge that a woman is married (with or without the hair covering) affect her hotness or air of sexuality?

What say you?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Jewish Women- Hot or Not? - An Introduction

There has been some debate going around the Jewish Blogesphere about whether Jewish Women, specifically MARRIED Jewish women, can be hot.

While I hesitated to take this topic on because I was (and still am) concerned about where it might lead I realized there are some issues surrounding this question that bear thought and discussion.
Here are some of the issues I considered:

What is the stereotype of the Married Jewish Woman (MJW) and how accurate is this stereotype?
What is the definition of “Hot” in this context?
Does a woman’s martial status affect the way she is viewed by men?
Is it possible to be both hot and modest simultaneously?

That’s just a start. Post your questions/issues on this topic below (phrased respectfully of course) and we’ll start digging into this topic right away!

Conceptual Credit: AMSHINOVER

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Salute to Israel Parade

Oh blogging, how I've missed you.

On Friday my brain was jelly-like with fatigue. With Heshy and Toby Katz blaming the death of six million Jews on their personal sins over on DovBear's blog I couldn't really think about much else.

Today however, my brain is refreshed I can blog about the Salute to Israel Parade because I was there as a chaperone with my daughter's school.

To my surprise, I had a very nice time. The kids were excited and well behaved and only a few of the parents got on my nerves. Apparently, if you give some of these parents a little power they go berserk. I believe in treating children with respect but apparently this is not a widely held belief among many parents. They prefer to yell rudely at children who have not yet received any instruction about what they should be doing or where they should be going. Perhaps these parents were telepathic as kids, but this particular bunch of children seemed to lack that ability.
But I digress...

My group was fairly early on in the parade so the crowd was smaller than I expected. It was a really mixed group too! I saw a a troupe of Jewish Cub Scouts, a Chinese family taking photos, a police officer with a kippa srugah, frum single girls dressed to the nines (in case they run into any old ex-boyfriends or any new perspective ones), Jewish teenaged boys eating non-kosher hotdogs from a hotdog cart, loads of adorable Jewish babies and their even more adoring grandparents.

As we passed the pro-Palestinian protest area complete with the Netura Karta club house, my daughter asked me why those Palestinians were "dressed up" as Chassidim. When I responded that they actually were Chassidim she looked very puzzled. I explained it all later when I could hear myself think.

A good time was had by all, except possibly the two kids who puked on the way back to the busses. It was a pleasure to see so many people out there supporting Israel, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you went to the parade yesterday please share your experiences!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Men who hate women and the women who love them

I lifted this question from the comments section of DovBear's post on Heshy from Brooklyn where out-of-towner asked for my opinion on loving a misogynist.

If Heshy is in fact married, the reason I know his wife is probably ecstatically happy is that he sounds like a positive, sincere, great guy. And the more he writes, the more that is confirmed. The novelist, Milan Kundera, writes that a woman can only be truly happy with a misygonist because if he loves her, it is in spite of the fact that she is a woman, not because she is a woman. She will know that he isn't susceptable to playing around on her and she will feel most secure with him. I have always thought that was an interesting observation on his part. What do you think about that?

Before I could answer this question I wanted to make sure I knew the exact definition of the misogynist. It turns out it was simpler than I thought, a misogynist is nothing more than a man who hates women.

The whole concept of loving someone what you hate seems very paradoxical to me. How can someone who hates women truly love one "in spite" her womanhood?

This could be interpreted in a few ways, and here's a spoiler: none of them are good.

But first, what sort of a beaten down woman wants to be loved by a man who finds her half of the species worthy of his disdain? Will she enjoy seeing her mother, sister, friends and daughters mistreated or is his love for her so fulfilling and selfish that she cares not how the rest of the women in her life will be affected. If so, she's halfway to being a misogynist herself!

The very fact that he loves her despite her very essence is insane. While I agree that love and hate are very close I'm don't think it's possible to love a person while hating who they are. That means either a) the man is crazy or b) it is a very narrowly focused love- I love you, just not who you are. That doesn't sound like true love to me.

Alternatively, perhaps he doesn't love "her" at all. Maybe he loves her the way a person loves a good steak. He loves how she serves him and worships him. He loves how he feels when he is with her but it is only a self serving kind of love.

Lastly, a man who is able to overcome his revulsion of women to be with the one he "loves" may not really be a true misogynist after all. If is love for this woman is true, perhaps he may have conquered his hate leaving him open to love all kinds of women.

So, to answer your question OOT I think that any woman who wants to be loved by a misogynist is selling herself short. She will not be loved and she will nor will she be safe from a broken heart.

Self Fulfilling Prophecies

Well, I've done it again! I anticipated the worst and was handed it on a silver platter.
After only two days of working efficiently and not blogging much or goofing off I was handed a new large project in addition to my normal workload.

In addition, this whole shul project has me quite disturbed. We had a meeting with shul members to get input into this new project which turned into a two hour complain-a-thon.
Apparently nothing our shul does is any good and every other shul is vastly superior according to the do-nothings that attended this meeting. I tried very hard not to be offended after all my years of work for the shul was ripped to shreds by a couple of ungrateful yentas, but it was hard to take.

I've also become the new best friend (apparently) of the board member who resigned when I was assigned to head his department's project. He calls me nightly to give me advice and pump me for information. It's hard to take.

Lastly, my in-laws are coming for shabbos and that always gets me pretty wound- the less said about THAT situation the better.

OK I'm done complaining and now it's your turn.
Send your gripes, questions, comments, or observations along to shifraq@gmail.com and we can talk about your problems instead of mine!