Join Sherre as she is honored as one of JWI’s Women to Watch on Monday, December 7, 2015. For more information, or to find out how you can support JWI, click here.
I’ve officially wrapped up week 3 of the Thresholds book tour, which has allowed me to speak to and personally meet with men and women right in their communities. My next stop is in Phoenix, Arizona on November 11,
2015 at Valley Beit Midrash, then on to Michigan on November 12 at the JCC of Greater Ann-Arbor.
Join me in the conversation, find all my tour dates here.
I have screwed up royally with Halloween in our home.
As a rabbi I am very clear that Halloween is a pagan holiday that was adopted by the Christians. As Jews we are not supposed to celebrate non-Jewish holidays. Yet I am embarrassed to say that all four of my children have loved to dress up, trick or treat and organize their candy at the end of the night.
I can give you all the rationalizations. As a child Halloween was the one of the only holidays that my parents did not argue. Our nanny sews their costumes by hand, (yes by hand!). It is a “national” holiday, not a religious one. Who really wants to take candy away from their babies?
And all of them are true, but they are just excuses. Before I had children I imagined a Jewish home so filled with the spirit and practice of the Jewish holidays that they would not even think about all the other ones. And my husband and I built that Jewish home. We celebrate Shabbat every week. We rent a 14 foot screen to watch movies all night in our sukkah. We light over 40 menorahs to publicize that miracle. We go all out on Purim. And my kids love every minute of it. Even so they still asked about all the other ones. And while none of the others were even on the table, Halloween slowly slipped into our lives.
As a parent I regret this.
Don’t get me wrong this error alone will not put them in therapy for the next 20 years; other mistakes along with this one will do that. But as they are getting older, they too are realizing that we are devaluing the meaning of someone else’s special day. For example, if we say that Christmas is a national holiday, we are sidestepping the true meaning – the birth of Christ. Or if non Jews started celebrating Rosh Hashanah like New Years Eve in Times Square, we would be offended.
To right this wrong I could have easily killed off Halloween. I would have suffered the fall out of being labeled the “worst mother ever.” But eventually we would have all gotten over it. But I decided along with my husband that on this issue we didn’t want to play the “because we said so” card.
Instead, we admitted to them our parental missteps, and it has led to some of the most important conversations to date – about identity, values and errors in judgment. The more we talk about the real issues, the less we talk about costumes and candy. They are making their own conclusions now. And Halloween is slowly slipping out of our lives. I got lucky this time, really lucky. Not only are they opting out, but also they gained some important tools in dealing with some of life’s most challenging questions.
With over 163 million active users, Reddit is a trusted online resource. Read a sample below, and click here to link to this Reddit Ask Me Anything thread.
Question: Hello, thank you for doing this AMA. I’m 30 and looking for a career change. I’m currently a restaurant manager who got promoted from within. Ive been with the company for 10yrs. I love the company I work for, but the hours and the stress of the restaurant business in general is really getting to me. I have no college degree and I feel like I’m stuck in this industry. I feel that anywhere else I go, I’ll have to start at square one. Any advice?
Response: You clearly are a hard worker, dedicated and loyal. Those qualities are desired in every industry. Clearly if you have been working in the food world for 10 years, some of it must bring you joy. Is it being with people? Service? Management? If you identify that specific skill then you can parlay it into a new area. If you get stuck, outline all the things that don’t bring you joy first and it will become clearer as to what does! Good luck.
Question: Why do you think so many people are so unhappy, despite being perceived as successful? How does success relate to fulfillment and happiness? My theory is that success is perceived relative to other people, and happiness stems from within, regardless of external perceptions or circumstance.
Response: Unfortunately society has communicated to us that “success” is being famous, wealthy, powerful, or thin. Except this definition is quite flawed. When we define ourselves by external markers, the quest for success is never-ending and exhausting. Success is that feeling that you matter in this world. And we find success by pursuing meaning and purpose in our lives. When we focus on serving and helping others we find the most meaning in our lives which is contrary to pursuing our own self interests. If you truly want to be happy start by doing something for another person anonymously each day. Don’t tell a soul and discover that you matter not only to your mother but to your community and to the world. Then you will be happy. I promise.
Question: Is there a challenge in your life that you have worked through that made you stronger/a better person? I think a lot of the challenges we face in life can end up making us better in the long run even when it doesn’t seem that way when it’s happening.
Response: Surviving after my mother died of a terrible brain cancer has been one of the most challenging times of my life. That said, overcoming adversity eventually builds resilience and self confidence but it can be ugly along the way.