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Archive for June, 2018

I’ve been following Cybele Grandjean on Instagram , and she posted this amazing local bike tour in our hood that follows some jazz greats!  It’s fun to see how much musical history Queens has, and if you want to see our Louis Armstrong post: see it here!

We have heard rumors that Dizzy use to jam in our basement (previous owner of our house promises to dig out some old mail directed to Gillespie at our address), and our neighbors still have old phone numbers of Benny Goodman’s band scratched on to their garage wall.  It’s the reason why we jokingly refer to our back yards as  ‘Jazz Alley’.

Hope this has inspired you to get out and explore!

 

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Ok I’m skewing the truth a bit here with this blog title because … this site really ISN’T the home of Harriet Tubman.  But it was a place of historic significance and damn!  Harriet Tubman is so fascinating!  Did you know she not only escaped slavery but then returned to help many other slaves get to freedom?  I think most of us know that but… did you know she ALSO fought in the civil war, and married a man 20+ years her junior?  While I was away for a work retreat, our team took a little field trip to this gorgeous architectural homage to Harriet Tubman.  Even the grounds are peaceful and introspective, and the modern exhibits indoors are a fully immersive experience where the songs/prayers/sounds of slavery and civil war surround you as you walk through the visitor center.  If you get to the Chesapeake Maryland area, you should check it out:

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It’s been an ideal time of year to see historic houses, and we stumbled on this one just as we were driving to one of Ezra’s band gigs.  Who knew this little historic gem would be nestled amidst the factories of an industrial neighborhood between Queens and Brooklyn (Ridgewood) ?

Vander Ende–Onderdonk House is a historic house at 1820 Flushing Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens It is the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City.  The original house on the site was built in 1661 by Hendrick Barents Smidt, from land that was granted to him by Peter Stuyvesant.  Another part of the structure, expanding from the original house, was built in 1709 by Paulus Vander Ende.

Clearly it’s got us thinking about adding a ‘dutch door’ to our house!

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We finally made it out to the newly renovated ‘Theodore Roosevelt House’ or Sagamore Hill .  It was a perfect day for running around the natural surroundings quickly, and getting a tour inside. The man received so many interesting gifts from kings and leaders and diplomats all around the world, that this summer home is more like an interesting art museum than anything else!

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I wrote this ‘Home Shuling’ piece for my synagogue’s newsletter, and thought it would be fun to share here.  Enjoy!  Hope it’s useful:

I’m still in the dark about why the summer is so quiet during Jewish life. That great big expansive gap between Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah is made up of 3 whole Jewish months where nothing occurs… Tammuz, Av and Elul are as sleepy and quiet as summer should be. On top of that, it becomes too hot to think about baking challah together or roasting a chicken for Shabbat. How does a reformed Jewish mamma keep the Jewish life alive in her home when all the Sunday school is done, holidays seem stashed away until Sept, and summer starts?

For starters there’s Jewish sleep-away camp to consider as a way to keep the momentum going with Jewish learning. As an Israeli friend of mine said: this seems to be the hallmark experience for most Jewish kids growing up in the north-eastern states of America. But being from an Italian-American family – I was always a little baffled about sending kids away for the summer. My brothers and I spent lazy, steamy summers laying around, getting bored. Or perhaps we sometimes tended my dad’s garden in the yard, went to city pools, rode bikes around alla ‘Stranger Things’ – until we got old enough to hold down summer jobs to pay for college.

My kids love laying around bored, and hate sleeping in any kind of ‘different smelling bed’ than the ones in their bedrooms. So for the moment, the “Jewish learning through summer” is all on me. And it got me thinking of a few ideas for summertime activities that will keep the Jewish learning alive in our home until high holidays:

1.) Have the kids keep a summer journal of ‘mitzvahs’
If even sparing a mosquito a swat, or doing something as big as helping out at a food pantry – ask your child to write down how they FEEL about doing these things. Even gratitude is a mitzvah .. in that you stop for a moment and thank G_d for something positive.

2.) Swim Swim Swim!
And don’t forget to remind your children before swim lesson that this is in the Talmud (Kiddushin 29a) ! Yup, there is a list of things that parents are obligated to do for their child after birth, and swimming appears on this list (but somehow feeding, shelter, and care do not. Go figure.)

3.) Watch some lazy-summer-day Jewish-kid programming: On rainy days I find Shalom Sesame to be a lifesaver. I know my kids have far outgrown the muppets – but there is something so incredibly reminiscent and comforting about hearing Hebrew and learning Judaism from these familiar lovable characters. It’s worth taking a peek even if your kids are no longer toddlers. Because the show is produced in Israel, it’s steeped in cultural tid-bits that make you feel like you’re visiting another country or watching a foreign film. Give Jewish Grover a try:

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Ezra making me more holy with every pool trip ; )

 

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