Long time, no write

You might have noticed that I haven’t published anything in about three weeks. There are reasons for that.

Life is complicated. Sometimes that adds spice to my writing. And sometimes it pretty much shoots any attempts at writing at point blank range.

I haven’t posted in a while because of life. There has been more craziness in the Klempner household than usual, and that’s kinda saying a lot. There have been positive sources of craziness (mostly involving Purim), neutral sources of craziness (jury duty and household repairs that involve lots of sawing and banging), bad sources of craziness (small, cute people with fevers and our third battle with lice this school year), and very, very bad sources of craziness.

The number one very, very bad source of craziness is that a week before Purim, my sister and I learned of our father’s death.

The only writing I’ve really done since then has been letters to relatives and writing about my father and so on.

Right now, I’m in a bit of a muddle. I’ll be posting again soon, I hope.

Anyway, usually I close out posts with requests for comments. This time, I ask you do not comment. However, if you have a relative with whom you’ve been out of touch — and the reason is unrelated to actual abuse of any kind — I would very much appreciate it if you made peace with the person. Please do it in memory of Dovid Pesach ben Avraham Avinu. Thanks.

Story out this week in Binyan: “A Vision of the Future”

The saddest day on the Jewish calendar will be next Tuesday.

Tisha B’Av arrives on Monday night and observant Jews around the world will fast until sunset on Tuesday to commemorate the loss of both Temples in Jerusalem. Many other tragic events have befallen the Jewish people at this time of year, throughout history.

Today, we see war in Israel, and an upsurge of anti-Semitism has popped up across the globe.

A story to help your tween or teen through this tough time

Now, more than ever, we need to unify with both our fellow Jews and with human beings everywhere. The message of my latest story, “A Vision of the Future,” in this week’s Binyan Magazine (inside Hamodia) is just that: Continue reading

Passover is over. Time to jump back on the wagon!

I’ve written zero, zippo, nada since my limericks on the day before Passover, and I now have three pieces outstanding to editors, the first of which is due on Friday. YOW!

As a religious Jew, I was unable to write for most of the Pesach holiday, and chose not to during the more lenient, intermediate days (chol hamoed), as well. Hence the pile up on my to-do list. This post will necessarily be brief. I’ve got to peruse the notes I scribbled two weeks ago, when I received the assignment that’s due first, and start writing.

I think the vacation from writing was good for me, though. I spent a lot of creative energy on cooking (including trying a couple new recipes, even inventing an awesome vegan chocolate chip cookie that is 1) totally kosher for Passover, 2) easy, and 3) scrumptious) and also just playing with and enjoying my husband and kids. We played hours and hours of Monopoly Deal & Old Maid, and visited fun places in L.A. like the zoo and a local U-Pick farm. I let my husband and eldest son pick most of our outings–the WWII Aviation Museum was an unexpected delight. Letting them be in charge allowed me to relax and let go.

Now it’s back to creative work, but it seems a little less like work after the vacation.

Just when you think the world is going to heck in a handbasket…

Here are links to two articles with wonderful examples of how people can support one another despite sectarian differences.
A modest-clothing blogger who is a member of the LDS church bonds with the evangelist Christian, Orthodox Jewish, and Muslim women who visit her website.
Two Muslim cabbies from Pakistan buy out a struggling Jewish owned business and vow to keep it kosher.
And yes, I found the articles when wasting time I was supposed to be working on my novel.

Moving photoessay online based on book "Where Children Sleep"

This piece in the New York Times contains selections from an upcoming book about the lives of children worldwide. When I saw these pictures of children and their bedrooms, I was greatly moved. James Mollison’s exquisite photos let you draw your own conclusions without any commentary, and–boy!–I drew quite a few.
For one thing, you can clearly see the variety of ways in which human beings live. Everyone knows that intellectually, but these pictures really send the message home.
The other thing that becomes immediately apparent is the material simplicity in which many of these children live. In some cases, there is obvious poverty and even oppression (the child in Appalachia, the pregnant 14 y o in Rio and the domestic worker in Katmandu). In other cases, material simplicity reflects a completely different way of seeing the world (Tvika in Beitar Ilit, the two Rendille children in Kenya and 8 y o Kraho boy from Brazil).
Here in the U.S., we see images of perfectly appointed bedrooms with matching furniture, bedding, and decor (there are some of those in Mollison’s photos, too) in Pottery Barn and Ikea catalogs and long for them. We see material excess and long for it. But for the vast majority of children on earth, those perfect bedrooms are impossible to obtain. These photos even make you consider–are they worth obtaining, after all? Is the child on Park Avenue happier than the one sleeping on the bare earth in the Sahara?
Something to think about.
Also interesting is that many of these bedrooms contain no visible reading material.

10 Ways to Use Your Words to Spread Love and Peace

This time of year is known on the Jewish calendar as the Nine Days, which culminate in the saddest day of the year, Tisha B’Av. This fast day is the anniversary of many tragic events in Jewish history, the most important three being the evil report given by 10 out of 12 scouts sent into the land of Israel by Moshe; the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians; and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans.

Two out of three of these events are blamed by the rabbis on the use of words to harm others. By improving our speech, avoiding gossip and hurtful language, we can help bring the Moshiach and his reign of peace. If we build people with our words instead of destroying them with our words, we are adding bricks to the Third Temple.
In this digital age, we use words all the time. As a writer, I’m practically obsessed with them. But the more you use words, the more you must be careful with them. It is truly shocking how often we find people online misusing their words. People insult, use profanity, spread xenophobia and hatred with aplomb. People spread hurtful and offensive comments based on hearsay, rumor, or untruths and act like they’re doing a public service.
The amazing thing is that a level-headed comment that respectfully disagrees is more influential, and a kind word or compliment makes people want to hear more of what you have to say. The more you use your words for good, the more blessing G-d gives them. If more people used their words to spread love and peace in the world, the world would be that much of a happier place to be.
Here are some positive ways you can use your words:
1) Apologize in a more meaningful and detailed way than a simple “I’m sorry,” to someone you harmed.
2) Write an affectionate letter to a spouse, parent, child, teacher or friend.
3) Thank someone you haven’t seen in years for something they did to help you a long time ago.
4) Write a positive review of a book or product.
5) Write a recommendation for a person to get work.
6) Write a letter complementing a company on the fine qualities of their product, or…
7) on the excellent service you received from an employee.
8) If you feel you must disagree with someone, make the comment respectful. For example:
“With all due respect, I must disagree with the idea that…”
“I’m not sure that the evidence supports your comment…”
“You make an interesting point. Can you defend it with some evidence?”
“I’m impressed by your…, but think your statement that…requires more thought.”
“While I think that…is a wonderful…, I have to respectfully disagree with their notion that…”
NEVER insult a person, even if you must attack their ideas. (And, frankly, you usually don’t really need to do that, you’re just itching to.)
9) Leave a note in your spouse’s or kid’s lunchbox with a funny joke or mentioning something you look forward doing with them when they return home.
10) Write a (true or not) story or poem that reflects gratitude to G-d or to a person for the blessings they have brought into your life.