Thursday, March 31, 2011

Something Crafty: A Journey To Bun

The undercooked bunny

The other day, I felt a sudden need to start some kind of project. Since the colder seasons are rapidly getting away from us (even if the weather is trying to convince us otherwise) it didn't seem practical to start on things likes gloves, hats and scarves. So instead, I thought, why not journey into the unknown? Why not try something new? Why not make a stuffed bunny?

So I did. It took up my free time for about 2 days, and the result is, well, kinda adorable. Right now, I only have one picture of the finished product because my camera battery died, but when it's recharged I'll take a couple more. I was just really eager to share. The picture up top is the bunny before getting it's ears and nose. I think it looks a little like Gir from Invader Zim.

But behold the finished product!

The pattern I used can be found here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Animals and Personification

As many of you are well aware, a horrific tragedy occurred in Israel this past weekend. Five people (a mother, father, and three of their six children), were stabbed to death in their home in an Israeli settlement. For more information, go here.

Since these attacks, I have heard a lot of people expressing outrage. And why shouldn't they? These were outrageous attacks on innocent people.

But one theme that I've noticed in this outrage is the comparison of the murderers to animals. I'm not comfortable with this. Not because I think it's wrong to compare humans to animals or because I feel any goodwill towards these butchers. Rather, because I think that to compare human beings committing horrific acts to animals is to undermine just how terrible the act truly was.

I want you to imagine, just for a moment, that this act was actually committed by an animal. Imagine that the Fogel family was preparing to go to sleep that night when suddenly a mountain lion jumped through their window and killed 5 of them before finding its way back out. I imagine the scene which their 12 year old daughter walked in on would have been much the same. Mud all over the floor, and bloody horrors in the bedroom.

There would have been grief from family, friends, neighbors. People would read about it and say, "Oh, how awful!" But there would be no anger. How can you be angry at a lion simply doing what is in its nature to do? Perhaps it was rabid or starving or merely confused. It certainly had no way of understanding that by killing these people they were murdering someone's children. After all, it's just an animal. It may be hunted down and killed, but no one would be expressing outrage over the acts committed by a lion.

Now let's get back to reality. The perpetrators of this act were not animals. They were human beings. When they broke into that home late on Friday night, they knew what they were doing. They were deliberately going in with the intent to butcher 5 other human beings, whom they neither knew nor cared to know. All they knew was that these people were Jewish Israeli settlers, and that was enough to justify their actions. They entered the home, and stabbed to death the mother, the father, and the two older children, then slit the throat of an infant. I'm sure there were screams. Screams that would turn the stomachs of "weaker" men. But these men went forward with their "glorious" mission. And when they escaped that night, back over the fences which are meant to protect the settlement of Itamar, I'm sure they felt noble and victorious.

This is not the act of an animal.

This is an act so horrific that only humans are capable of committing it.

So why do we tell ourselves these are animals? Why do we take away our own right to rage? I think it's because our minds can't comprehend how someone so human, so much like us, could do these things. We need to denounce it as inhuman, because admitting that they're human is admitting that we have that same capacity for despicable violence in us.

And the fact is we do. The fact is that we'd like to believe that, had we been raised in Nazi Germany, we would have been above the propaganda and intimidation and would have saved lives. We'd like to believe that there was something wrong with the people who followed Hitler. That maybe they were something less than human. But they weren't. They were humans brought up in a society that taught them to hate Jews from a young age and to love their country, so when one charismatic man came along and appealed to both of those deeply ingrained parts of their upbringings, they did what humans do: They believed and they put their passion into it. Animals couldn't do that. But we can.

So please, do remember that these murderers, and their supporters, are as human as you and I. Hold them liable for their actions and know that these men were not born animals, they are manufactured butchers.

*Disclaimer: Don't mistake my support of anger towards these murderers as any kind of license to go around declaring war on every Arab/Muslim/Palestinian in the world. I still strongly believe in the need to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent. These men are guilty, but that doesn't mean we can declare everyone of their race/religion/nationality guilty by association. If we could, we'd all be guilty of money laundering and fraud on behalf of Madoff (and the unfortunate myriad of others who have committed such crimes, and behind whom the Jewish community have inexplicably thrown their support.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Post of Something Different

I started off posting this as a comment over at A Blob of Something Different in response to this post, but then it got so long that I figured I'd just post it on my own blog. It's an old post, but I'm sort of new to the blog, so I hope to be forgiven for my delayed reaction.

I married at 19. I was lucky. I never had to shidduch date because my husband and I were close friends and never dated at all. But had I not been in that position, I wouldn't have felt ready for marriage for a very long time. In fact, in the weeks leading up to my wedding, I felt EXTREMELY unprepared for marriage. Terrified of it, even. I remember calling up my best friend in tears on multiple occasions asking her if I was making a huge mistake. In the months following my marriage, as my husband and I went through the normal adjustments that newlyweds must endure, I questioned my readiness some more. Thank G-d, I DID make the right choice, and clearly I WAS ready for marriage because we've been mature enough to get through the growing pains and ups and downs that wedded bliss inevitably entails (I say "we" but the truth is, I think it's all Yaakov. Ask him about my use of the "reverse royal We" in other contexts, like chores).

All of that being said, I will state the obvious: Pressuring 18-19 year old girls to marry, out of fear that they will become old maids at 21, has resulted in a lot (this being the scientific measure of choice for such precise statements) of failed and unhappy marriages, or broken engagements (if they're lucky). Obviously MANY happy marriages have also come out of this (I would even say that MOST of these girls end up happy). But we should never push aside the concerns of a girl who doesn't feel ready.

On the other hand, we really can't blindly accept it, either. It's important to find out WHY the girl doesn't feel ready. It may be something vague and difficult to put in words, or it may be something specific. In either case, there are a lot of valid reasons why a girl may feel unprepared, but that doesn't mean she should just sit and wait for them to resolve themselves. If she says, "It's really important to me to finish college first" and she's actively working towards that goal, then wonderful. But if she feels that she doesn't know herself well enough and is simply waiting for an epiphany to hit, we have a problem.

I may be biased because I'm a social worker in training, but I think therapy is an extremely useful tool for just about everyone, not just the so-called "damaged goods" among us. That's not to say that everyone should always be in therapy, but I believe that there comes a time in every person's life where they would benefit from a therapy relationship. It's my personal opinion that shadchanim should recommend therapy to young men and women submitting their resumes. Shidduch dating is an emotionally turbulent experience, and it can be helpful to have someone impartial to help you process everything that's going on. Obviously, there are those who have enough support from friends and family that this may be unnecessary, but I think they represent a minority of very lucky people.

And while I don't believe that a girl who feels unready for shidduchim is "sick", I do believe that such a girl may benefit from having someone who can help her work through those feelings. So while it shouldn't be about "convincing" her to be ready, I think it is important to offer her support so that she can resolve whatever concern may be holding her back.

Now I'm fully aware that in the shidduch world, the word "therapy" can become a stigma and, as a result, many in the community have developed a phobia of entering into such a relationship. But that, my friends, is another post.