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September 2007

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Monday, September 3, 2007
The Answer Maven Column

This is part of our Sep/Oct 2007 issue.


Q: Do you have any suggestions for what I can dress my kids up as for Halloween?

A: Alright, who let this one through? This is American Jewish Life magazine, not American Pagan Life. We're always getting their mail… How about this? I'll pretend you asked me about Purim. So you'd like to know what costumes you should dress your kids up in for Purim? Well, it's not a very timely question, but I'll forgive that.

We'll need to take a short trip back in time to about 1987, when the trend was to dress your child up as a non-specific noun -- hobo, witch, a ghost, a Chassid. However, over the years the Purim costume trend has moved towards proper nouns, i.e. specific people -- President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. This type of outfit has reigned supreme as the costume of choice for young Jewish children across America. If you were my parents though (which thank God, you're not), I'd like you to dress me up as a proper noun -- with some pizzazz. Instead of picking the obvious choices (Harry Potter, Hillary Clinton), go for the less obvious ones (Hermione, and Mitt Romney respectively).

Q: With Yom Kippur almost upon us, do you have any good tips for making the fast go by faster?

A: What do you mean, make it go by faster? Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, how could you want to make it go by faster? I actually wish Yom Kippur were longer, a two or three day fast. That way, I could be extra holy (and skinny) by the end.

But I guess not all of my readers are on the same spiritual level as me (such is life as AJL's Answer Maven -- not everyone can be as perfect as me), so I'll give you some tips from my latest self-help book Make the Most of Your Time in Synagogue and Look Good Too.

Firstly, you can think of all the yummy non-kosher food you can break your fast on, and by extension go to hell for.

In addition, most car games you play on road trips will transfer remarkably well to the synagogue. For example, instead of finding license plates from each of the 50 states, you can count how many people in synagogue are wearing red. Then count how many people are sleeping. Then count how many are bald. See? It's easy and fun for all ages. Then you can go out to the social hall and count how many people are in there. There's lots of interesting things to watch in the social hall (mating tactics of the single and desperate, mothers wrestling with screaming children…). Not that I would know. Considering I come from a large rabbinical family, I have never even seen the inside of the social hall during services. But I do have an active imagination and can guess what it must be like for the spiritually-challenged set.

Q: Happy anniversary, Answer Maven. This time last year, you got married. How was your first year of wedded bliss?

A: Why thank you, Allison W. from Idaho, I appreciate your well-wishes. But I have a little-known, well-kept secret to share with you that may come as a surprise. And I believe this little whopper should be hollered from the rooftops so that all newlyweds can hear and breathe normally as they realize they're not alone.

The first year of what you call wedded bliss? Not exactly a walk in the park. I mean, everyone tells you what it's going to be like to spend the wonderful first year of marriage with your beloved, but nobody tells you what it's going to be like to wake up and find your beloved's hair in the drain and dirty dishes in the sink (ok, my hair in the drain and his dishes in the sink).

Living with someone -- living with all those little quirks that you once thought were cute and now annoy the *&^% out of you -- can be very difficult.

But I do have some good news: It gets better. With a lot of hard work, some good communication, and a little humility, it gets a whole lot better, and it's well worth the trouble. Then you have those mornings you wake up and think, "That's my best friend lying next to me, and together we can do anything" (cue sappy music from St. Elmo's Fire).

Like my grandmother once told me about her 69-year relationship with my grandfather: "Do I think about divorce? Never. Do I think about murder? All the time."

-- Text by Chanie Cohen Kirschner / Illustration by Fred Harper.

This is part of our Sep/Oct 2007 issue.
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