Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Email from a reader!

Your post makes me wonder how accurate the rest of your blog is. The groom is most definitely NOT Chassidic. No beard, and dressed like any other Yeshivish groom (The long black coat is only for the ceremony to cover the white Kittel). And "My cousin met with her husband in public places or in houses under parental supervision about once a week for a few hours for about 6 weeks." is the custom amongst the Yeshivish. Chassidim meet a lot less, and only in the parents house, NEVER in a public place. Also, "and of course she can't use birth control- at least not until she has had two boys and two girls." is similarly inacurate. It is one each. lastly, "and one day he will be buried in it." is a very wide spread myth, widlye prevelant even in orthodox circles. A kittel is supposed to LOOK like burial shrouds, but it isnt ACTUALY used as such. Feel free to post this, but please don't use my email address."

I guess accusing OTDers of lying is all the rage these days!

Let me start with this- I'm not close with my cousins. I used to see them about 3 times a year at family events, and since turning 22 and moving away from my parents (which was 8 years ago), I've seen them even less - the last time I saw them was at this wedding, which was 2 years ago.

Ok so here we go: This guy is not dressed like a chassidic guy. Ok. You may be right. I only know what I was told to me by my family (and remember that 2 years ago I was newly married to my non Jewish husband and I was hardly talking to my family at all - this is a post I wrote about that wedding at the time). What I was told by my family is that my cousin was marrying a chassidic guy. My impression was that he's not part of a specific chassidic group and may be more liberal for chassidim. It's also possible he follows more yeshivish customs but comes from chassidic ancestry of some kind - in my misnagid family, even if he currently followed yeshivish customs but had chassidic ancestors he would still be labeled "chassidic." Also the groom was 18 years old at the time, not all 18 year olds can grow a full beard.

My cousin's family is yeshivish, not chassidic, although two of my female cousins in that family have married people from a (more liberal) chassidic background. So the fact that they met for about 6 weeks in public places meant that my cousins were following the same customs their yeshivish family always follows. I don't know the details of their dates or anything but I do know they supposedly dated for about 6 weeks before getting engaged and got married a few months after that.

The thing about having 2 girls and 2 boys is how I remembered my cousin saying the rule to me, but I went back and checked a post I wrote about the conversation I had with that cousin about that rule and you are right, it was only 1 boy and 1 girl until they are allowed to use birth control. I must have gotten confused since the cousin who told me this had 2 boys and then 2 girls at regular intervals (and I wouldn't be surprised if she's pregnant again), so it seems she's not using birth control of any kind despite already having the 1 boy and 1 girl and kept having kids. I have also heard from many women that even though the 'official' rule is 1 boy and 1 girl, they have a very hard time getting a heter (permission) to use birth control from their rabbi unless they have very dire circumstances such as being on the brink of a mental breakdown, and even then the heter they get tends to be short term. So while you are technically correct about the actual halacha, in real life it plays out differently for many women. But your mileage may vary, and I know different communities have different standards.

As for people being buried in their kittel- that's my family's custom as far as I know? It might be a misconception on my part, but that's what I was always told by my dad...

As for the entirety of your email, you seem to be arguing that my cousins are a lot more liberal than many chassidic people. Which just goes to show my point- how insane these rules are.

Here's another recent email from a reader

"You Can Abandon G-D but He Will Not Abandon You"

That was the whole email. Thanks Mr. anonymous emailer! And to you I say, you can abandon the flying spaghetti monster but he won't abandon you either. Because things that don't exist by definition can't abandon anything.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A jewish wedding

Apparently there were some "Amazing" pictures of a segregated orthodox jewish wedding posted in a newspaper.

Well I can do that too! ;)

Here's some pictures from my first cousins's wedding. My cousins are misnagid/yeshivish orthodox jews, and my cousin married a hassidic jew. The marriage was arranged through a matchmaker- her parents and the parents of her groom talked beforehand and knew that the couple was a "good match" before they ever met. My cousin met with her husband in public places or in houses under parental supervision about once a week for a few hours for about 6 weeks. Then they got engaged and didn't see each other more than once or twice over the next 3 months, at which point they got married.

They both grew up completely segregated from the other gender (Other than close family), under strict rules that dictated they never touch someone of the opposite gender. Then they are expected to go from never touching a man to having sex on their wedding night. After which they can't touch for a week because the woman presumably has bled, which renders her 'impure' and which means she must wait until she has been clean of blood for a week, at which point she will dip naked in a ritual bath in front of another woman in order to have sex again. Unless of course she is so unfortunate so as to get her period during those 7 days, at which point she has to wait until her period is over and then count another 7 days clean until she can touch her husband and sleep in the same bed again. If there's any questions about her "cleanliness" she must wipe herself with a cloth and give it to her husband who will send it to a rabbi to inspect it. Oh and of course she can't use birth control- at least not until she has had two boys and two girls.

There are the rules my family follows.

The bride walks down the aisle with her mother and father (my aunt and uncle) holding her arms and holding candles. The men sit on one side of the aisle and the women sit on the other side

The bride's mother and mother in law (Both wearing wigs to cover their hair) walk her around the groom 7 times under the chuppah, a cloth held by which symbolizes the home that they will build together. Why 7 times? Cause Jews are superstitious, that's why. I'm sure it symbolizes something. I always disliked the circling thing and fought against including it in my wedding when I was engaged to my ex fiance at age 21.

This chuppah is one of two my mom has made using quilting techniques. She has this one which is white and more traditional for my more traditional cousins (who are getting married in these photos) and a more colorful one that has a tree of life and a dove and stuff that she designed for that wedding I never had back in the day.

The groom is wearing a black knee length coat and black hat that his particular hassidic group wears, and under that he is wearing a kittel, a white garment that kind of looks like a bathrobe but made out of a thinner fancy shirt like material. He first wears this garment at his wedding, and later will wear this garment again at certain holidays each year, and one day he will be buried in it.

After the wedding ceremony there is a meal during which there is lots of courses and lots of dancing between courses. The men and women dance separately. This is the women's section. Almost all these women are wearing wigs.

Here is the men, dancing in a circle dance.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


When we moved in we had a hedge of evergreen bushes along one of the fences in our backyard- one bush was already dead when we moved in and a second one died from being choked to death by the millions of morning glories that the prior owner thought would be a good idea to plant. SO meanwhile we have 2 gaping holes in our hedge. Good thing this is the neighbor we like, but our dogs tend to stand in the holes of the hedge and yowl, and the neighbor next to our neighbor has already complained about them a few times (like a jerkface).

So we decided to get some blueberry bushes to fill in the gaps! After doing some internet research I decided on two different varieties of "highbush" blueberries. Highbush blueberries grow to around 6 feet tall, as opposed to the lowbush varieties which only grows well in the north and 2-3 feet tall, and the rabbiteyes which (Unlike the name suggests) get like 12 feet tall. I got two different kinds, because when you have two different kinds they get cross-pollinated and somehow that leads to more blueberries (I think the blueberries know there's competition so they grow more blueberries to win the competition)

So on Monday our two bushes were delivered and I planted them on Tuesday morning. On Tuesday Barkley (or possibly max) dug one up and I had to replant it by moonlight, and so on Wednesday we got some nice little fences to put around them.

Supplies: two blueberry bushes, dirt for acid loving plants like blueberries, and a bucket full of peat moss that soaked in water overnight (if you don't presoak it it just sucks all the moisture out of the soil, which is not good for growing anything)

Two holes, each about a foot and a half deep and two feet wide. After digging out the top layer of dirt, I dug out the deeper layer of clay and moved that to the sinkhole. Then I refilled it with about 1/3rd native dirt, 1/3rd peat moss and 1/3rd acid dirt, and planted the bushes shallowly. I planted them a little further away from the fence, since blueberry bushes can spread up to 5 feet wide, and I don't want to have a bunch of blueberries falling on my neighbor's driveway all the time, that's just rude.

I think this one is the sharp blue

This one is the gulf coast one

After planting the bushes I pruned them by about a third to encourage growth. This year I'll remove all the blossoms so that the plant puts its energy into growing a good root system versus growing blueberries, but I should have a decent amount of blueberries next year! Next year I will probably have to get some sort of netting to keep the birds away from the blueberries, since they love to eat them right when they ripen. These bushes will grow to full height by around 6-7 years, and should continue producing fruit for the next 30 or so years. Once they are full grown, each bush should produce 10-15 pounds of blueberries each season.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Black dirt live again!

It's been drizzling here the past few days, which made today the perfect day to go dig up the hard clay soil, as the water makes it diggable. Yesterday I bought a hoe, peat moss, lime, high acid dirt (for planting blueberries and potatoes), low acid dirt (for covering the asparagus), and compost. Today I dug out the area which will be a long raised bed garden on the south side of my house, and another area out front which will be an asparagus bed.

My ground is clay, so next week I'm going to mix in compost and pre-moistened peat moss (after soaking it in water overnight so it doesn't wick all the moisture out of the soil) to improve the drainage, as otherwise the clay will hold too much water and be too dense and drown my seeds when I plant them in a few months. This morning I started loosening up the top layer of soil with a hoe and mixed in lime (to lower the acidity) and the leaf compost that's been sitting around all winter in a corner of the garden.

My seed collection for this year! Not pictured but also will be growing/planting: asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, onions, garlic, potatoes, rosemary, oregano and possibly lemons (if my tree decides to bloom this year)

Also next weekend I have plans to plant 2 blueberry bushes in the backyard that will eventually grow to be around 6 feet tall. And I'll be starting bell pepper and eggplant seeds indoors. And a few weeks later the lettuce and peas and onions will be going in the ground and i'll be starting basil seeds, and a few weeks after THAT will be carrots, and after that the frost season will be over and it'll totally be on!

Now I'm making about 2 gallons of chicken soup for our "stay home, be antisocial and watch the superbowl while eating tortellini soup" fest tonight (and lots of extra to freeze).