Tag: Mother’s Day

How a Rabbi Celebrates Mother’s Day

My mom, my dad and our kids
A card to my wife. A call to my mother. Plans for an early dinner with my wife’s family. And then…
As I drive to a downtown temple to watch our former intern Ilana Mills be ordained rabbi, my thoughts turn again to the congregation. I remember…
Mother’s Day is bittersweet when illness and brokenness touch the family.
This one just learned she has breast cancer. 
That one prepares to care for her husband as he begins chemotherapy. 
Each of them faced Mothers Day with might have been complex emotions as the joy of being a parent was tempered by the challenges brought forth by the vicissitudes of life. As they seek balance between brokenness and wholeness, each resides within my heart; their pain is our community’s pain. This is what it means to be part of a community; this is what it means to be a rabbi. 
So before the ordination ceremony and after, I call. 
This one visits her husband at the convalescent home. 
That one mourns the recent death of her life partner. 

Lots of messages are left; sometimes we actually speak in real time. I say that I was thinking of her, that I thought that this Mother’s Day might be bittersweet, and that I wanted her to know that we at Congregation Or Ami were holding her in our hearts. In those times our conversation is thick with appreciation. 
Dinner is with my wife’s side of the family; bagels and lox and a delicious spread. Halfway through I change into a suit to head over to a reception for our Mishpacha Coordinators Sarah Lauing and Lisa Berney, as they prepare to graduate with Master’s degrees in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Rhea Hirsch School of Education. There I present them with words of thanks from our congregation; I make it a point to pull aside their mothers so we can kvell privately about each daughter’s unique gifts and talents.  
More calls on the way; more people to say henaynu (that we are here with them, for them) during these bittersweet times. This one spends Mothers Day still recovering from surgery. 
That one breathes with relief as her child recovers from surgery. 

Rabbi Shy Zeldin once taught on Mother’s Day that a mother is at her root a woman. The Hebrew word for woman is isha – written aleph-shin-hey. The word isha (aleph-shin-hey) combines the word eish (aleph-shin) or fire with Hashem (hey-shin) meaning the Divine Name. Women, and mothers particularly, he said, weave their passion of nurturing into the holiness of everyday life. To this, we add the teaching of the RiPiK, who explains that the last two letters of woman (shin-hey) combine into Sha!, the universal sound meaning “be quiet, listen, in Hebrew, sheket“. A mother is one who quiets herself to hear the yearnings of her children and family.
A Mom is Divine Passion Focused on the Yearnings of Her Family
Today, around the country, families celebrated their unique personification of motherhood, the woman/women who bore (or adopted), nurtured and raised them.
And it becomes the unique responsibility of a rabbi to reach out religiously, to mark the most difficult days with a call. That’s what it means to be part of a community; this is what it means to be a rabbi on Mother’s Day. 

10 Lessons I Learned from My Mom, Linda Kipnes

Happy Mom’s Day! (Those are three of the most inspiring women – My Mom, My Wife, My Sister-in-law.)

Having finished cooking breakfast, giving my wife a heart-felt mushy Mother’s Day card, taking a nap (I woke up so early, I slid out of bed so as not to wake her), and cleaning the kitchen (imperfectly, I’d probably get just an 85%),  I turn from my wife-the mother to my mother-the mom (I sent my mother a Mother’s Day card earlier this week).

Top Ten Lessons I Learned from My Mom

  1. If you can organize and delegate, you often get a big hand in setting the vision and molding the organization.
  2. Motivating others is the key to leadership. 
  3. A strong woman makes a wonderful, reliable partner, wife and mother. Thus I married another strong woman.
  4. Women should be rabbis and presidents and business owners and leaders of all kinds.  Why? Because they are capable. How do I know? Because my mom could be any of those and more.  
  5. My ability to communicate through my writing is one of my strongest gifts. My mom taught me that, and so that makes her the mother of my blogging too!
  6. Good ideas are better when articulated well.  Over the years Mom was one of my best editors. 
  7. A simple way of talking is often more easily understood than a fancy vocabulary.  Mom taught me that when as a teenager, I was fretting that I didn’t know or use enough big words. 
  8. Parenting is an imperfect craft. Kids don’t come with instruction manuals, so sometimes you gotta go with your gut. 
  9. When things get overwhelming, no one offers a loving, non-judgmental ear like a mom.  Even today, I can call her up, just to unload, and by mutual consent, she promises not to carry the worry beyond the call.
  10. Unconditional love feels amazing. I got it from my mom.  I found it from my wife. I try to share it with my family, immediate and extended.

Over the years, my mom taught me important lessons about love, forgiveness, dignity and integrity, hope and sadness, organizing, leadership, group dynamics, family and more.  My mom, Linda Kipnes, is the best mom of all!  She’s also very active: once learning to ride a motorcycle, and above right, riding in the front of Disneyland’s Space Mountain rollercoaster.

Mom, I know you will read this eventually since you subscribe to my blog! So Happy Mother’s Day!

A Prayer for Mothers, on the Eve of Mother’s Day

A Prayer for Mothers
by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Leader: Today we give thanks for mothers.
All: For loving nurturers and strong providers.

Leader: For mothers who birthed us, for mothers who raised us, mothers of birth and of choice.
All: For stepmothers and adoptive mothers and all those who have a mothering role in our communities. We give thanks.

Leader: For mothering energy in all its sources, from women, from men.
All: For the Creator God who is mother to us all—we give thanks.

Leader: Today we give thanks, we give praise—and we remember the dangers of motherhood.
All: Giving thanks is not enough. We must do more to protect mothers here at home and around the world.

Leader: So many die in childbirth. So many more become sick or injured during pregnancy.
All: Give us strength, O God, to do all we can, to protect these most vulnerable women.

Leader: We think not only of mothers we know, mothers in our family, in our community.
All: In this our global family, every woman is my sister. Every woman, even those whose name and face I will never know, is my sister, a fellow child of God.

Leader: For every woman who dies while bringing new life into the world—who dies because she could not access medical care.
All: Am I my sisters’ keeper?

Leader: For every infant life that ends too soon, due to lack of health care. For the pain of that mother’s loss.
All: Am I my sisters’ keeper?

Leader: For every woman who wishes to be a mother but cannot. For every woman who does not have the resources to have a healthy pregnancy and to care for the children she already has.
All: Am I my sisters’ keeper?

Leader: We are our sisters’ keepers. We are the hands of God, the work of the divine in the world.
All: We give thanks to our mothers, by praying and working for the safety of mothers and future mothers throughout the world.

Leader: Creator God, Mother and Father—protect and watch over mothers. Give your strength and protection and love to all who give a mother ‘s love to those in their family or their community.
All: Loving God, keep mothers safe. And give us the strength to work to ensure that all who wish to bring life into the world can do so in safety and joy.

Leader: Am I my sisters’ keeper?
All: I AM my sisters’ keeper!