Category Archives: Family

My Non-Jewish Dad’s Bizarre/Heartwarming Obsession With Matzoh

by Ben Faulding


“It is altogether proper that matzah is called the bread of affliction, because it has been afflicted more than any other foodstuff on earth. It is born in a searing-hot oven and then completely ignored for fifty-one weeks of the year while people walk around shamelessly eating leavened bread and crackers. Then, Passover rolls around, and it is smeared with various substances, ground up into balls, and, in the morning, fried up into a counterfeit version of French toast. Everyone eats it and nobody likes it, and there’s always one last box that sits untouched in a cupboard for months afterward, lonely, broken, and utterly unloved.” –Lemony Snicket. Continue reading My Non-Jewish Dad’s Bizarre/Heartwarming Obsession With Matzoh

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An American Passover: The Untold Slave Story of My Ancestors

“Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world.”
“If you teach that nigger how to read the Bible, there will be no keeping him–
It would forever unfit him for the duties of a slave.”
“As to himself, learning would do him no good, but probably, a great deal of harm—making him disconsolate and unhappy.”
“If you learn him now to read, he’ll want to know how to write; and, this accomplished, he’ll be running away with himself.”

–Hugh Auld (Master of Frederick Douglass) Continue reading An American Passover: The Untold Slave Story of My Ancestors

Be The Example

The old saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is one of my favorites.

I sometimes sit in amazement and think about how much power adults have over who their children grow to be. Whether our children decide to learn religiously all day or to become explorers of outer space, we have the ability to inspire greatness in them. Proverbs 1:8 states “Heed, my son, the discipline of your father and do not forsake the guidance of your mother”.  Continue reading Be The Example

The Tradition That Didn’t Carry Over

One thing that I was asked by the beit din when I converted was how my family would react to my decision. I thought it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Maybe a big shock initially with my mother, but I was sure that she’d come around to accept my choice. I knew I’d have no problems with her family, but with my father’s family, I did expect perhaps some surprised reactions. But then again, one of my cousins has Jewish family on her father’s side, and one uncle is married to a Jewish woman. All in all, I figured things would be fine in the end.

I was wrong.

Continue reading The Tradition That Didn’t Carry Over

Letter To A Racist

Usually when someone says “I’m not a racist, but…” they are about to say the most racist thing you’ve ever heard. There is one exception to this rule.

I’m not a racist, but I was raised by one. There was a lot of pain and relief around the death of my father. I hadn’t spoken to him in years when I heard of his passing – but I did write a letter to him, this is part of it:  Continue reading Letter To A Racist

My Favourite Six Degrees

Being biracial, multicultural, and multi-ethnic, my family is spread far and wide. For fourteen years I did not see the Dutch-German side, ascending from my German-Jewish mother, into the previous four generations. We still call each other cousins, despite the fact that we can hardly remember how we are related. That’s not the important part, though. My very lovely cousin said to me in confidence, “The most important thing is how you affect other people.”  Continue reading My Favourite Six Degrees

Building Jewish Families

I teach Sunday school, and we just finished Parshat Vayera, the story of Abraham and Sarah. The Torah is filled with barren women: Sarah, Rachel, Hanna, Michal, the list goes on and on.

There is both solace and frustration in this persistent theme for students of Torah who are, themselves, coping with reproductive health issues. On the one hand, it is helpful to know that this is an ancient struggle, and even our greatest matriarchs were not immune. Yet so often, these women were able to pray their infertility away. Sadly, for many modern Jews, prayer alone won’t solve the problem.  Continue reading Building Jewish Families

A New Year, A New Friend

It was a Rosh Hashanah miracle. My family was settling into our seats before services when my 12-year-old daughter elbowed me.

“Mama! A Black lady!”

It’s not that I’m the only one at my Bakersfield, California, synagogue. There are a couple others in the congregation, but they don’t come often, and when they do, they don’t speak to me. So a new African-American woman was a source of excitement and trepidation. Continue reading A New Year, A New Friend