Monday, February 27, 2012

Bar Mitzvah Update from Nicole

My bat mitzvah is coming along very well! We have been meeting with the celebrant Beth Sandweiss and been picking out different readings for the ceremony. It is really hard to decide which ones to use and which ones not to use.
There will be a total of 18 readings, each one minute or less. The number 18 signifies something auspicious in Judaism the way eight is in Chinese. Half the readings will be from writers who are Jewish. For the Chinese side, there will be four readings from the I Ching which Beth is going to weave into the ceremony as a unifying theme. There are also poems by poets my family admires such as John Giorno, Lucille Clifton and the 4 Noble Truths.

Beth has been really helpful throughout this process, and helps think of the other parts of the ceremony. We made a list of the people who will read at the bat mitzvah. I want the rest of the details to be a surprise for everyone.

Today my Hebrew school teacher gave me the final edits for my graduation paper about Allen Ginsberg and Robert Frank. I am so excited that it is coming along so well. After Hebrew School I went dress shopping for my friend’s bar mitzvah and it was really hard to pick out a dress to wear. If it was this hard to pick out a dress for somebody else’s bar mitzvah, I can only imagine how hard it will be to pick out a dress for my own.

Until next time,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interracial Marriages At Record High

Here are some pretty amazing stats from the Pew Research Center on interracial marriages in the US.

Consider this:
5% of recent marriages were interracial.

One-fifth of all recent weddings in the western part of the US were between people of different races or ethnicities.

8.4 percent of all current U.S. marriages are interracial, up from 3.2 percent in 1980.

Marriages across racial or ethnic lines now make up about 1 in 12 of all existing marriages in the U.S., or about 4.8 million couples.

For more on intercultural relationships, check out the "By Marriage" section of Chinese & Chosen to hear some of the decisions that a recently engaged Chinese and Jewish couple in Astoria, Queens, must make about their wedding plans.

**Note: these figures come from previous censuses as well as the 2008-2010 American Community Survey, which surveys 3 million households annually.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Year of the Water Dragon

January was a really busy month! There was Chinese New Year, and I started my Bat Mitzvah activities. We are also meeting with the celebrant a lot and picking readings for my Bat Mitzvah ceremony.

Every year for Chinese New Year my family and I go to Chinatown for the lion dances. This year we went to dim sum at a restaurant called Ping’s. The whole family was there; Grandma Martha, two of my cousins, Alice and Jane, Uncle Marc, Aunt Mary, and Mom and Dad, plus lots of family friends. After lunch we went outside for the lion dances, and played with silly string, confetti poppers, and noisemakers. Beside from the usual dragons there, this year there were special unicorns because it is the year of the water dragon, which is only every 60 years. It is good luck to see the unicorns, and they were the first ones I saw! We fed all of the dragons (and unicorns) lucky money in red envelopes. (I also got some lucky money!)

Chinese New Year was on January 23. On New Year’s Eve (the 22nd) I had dinner at my grandma’s house, again, with the whole family. We had a really good dinner! We had a Chinese hot pot. All the food was cooked at the table in chicken broth. There were so many different kinds of foods, like dumplings, tofu, bok choy, pork and chicken. After dinner I got to hang out with Alice and Jane.

On Chinese New Years Day, I had dinner with my best friend Eve, the same one that was over for Hanukah. We got Shanghai takeout from Chinatown, and it was also really good!

For my first Bar Mitzvah project I am volunteering at a soup kitchen in Jersey City. (I have to wake up at 5:30 to get there!) I do this with my Hebrew School Class and other volunteers. We get to pour juice, toast bread, make the eggs, and other things as well as serve the hot food. There is usually cereal, coffee, fruit, chicken nuggets, pancakes, oatmeal, and lots more for everyone to eat. It is really fun to do, and also makes me really grateful of all the things I have. I will definitely keep on doing it even after Hebrew School and my Bat Mitzvah are over.

Until next time,

Nicole Chan Ostrowis a contributing writer for Chinese & Chosen. She is preparing for her Chinese and Jewish Bat Mitzvah on October 6, 2012.