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Margie Bogdanow, LICSW


top of a red alarm clock against a blue background

Six years ago, the blueberries were still green in New Hampshire when I was awaiting the birth of my first grandchild. I remember wondering which would pop first: the blueberries or my daughter-in-law. In Judaism, upon hearing of a pregnant woman, a traditional response is b’sha’ah tovah – May your baby be born at a good hour, at the right time. She was, and she is now almost six years old, with spaces between her front teeth.

Fast forward to mid-2020. The blueberries are green again, and I am awaiting the birth of my fifth grandchild, whose due date is the same day as my first...

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Seder table with more than a dozen place settings

The past few days, Facebook has started showing me a variety of Passover memories. At the same time, here in the present, my inbox is flooded with new, innovative ways to celebrate Passover in the time of a pandemic, and friends are reaching out to ask if I have resources to share.

In preparation for my own Passover celebration, I’ve been scrounging around to try to find a few pounds of flat-cut brisket to make Gramma Margie’s Famous Brisket… for two. It’s a change, given that, in years past, I’ve made upwards of 25 pounds of brisket, along with gallons of chicken soup and matzah...

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Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, z'l, speaking and the 2017 URJ Biennial convention

Three short (or maybe long) weeks ago I celebrated from the balcony at Congregation Emanu-El in New York City as my 56-year-old sister received a master’s degree in education from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). It had been a long journey for her, begun 25 years ago in New York, interrupted for a long stretch by geography, and completed back in NYC. The excitement, happiness, and sense of accomplishment in the sanctuary was palpable, as it is at most graduations.

Not a single one of us sitting in that sanctuary could have imagined that less than 48...

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As a young girl, I was very compliant. If I was told to do something, I generally did it; if I was told not to do something, I usually didn’t. Of course, there were exceptions – ah, the motorcycle ride – but I think of myself as a rule follower. On occasion, I may take on a leadership role to change the rules, but I generally don’t like to break them.

I was somewhat surprised, therefore, to find myself bent over, my head in the ark of an old synagogue in Kolin, Czech Republic. Around me, a tour guide and others were yelling at me in a variety of languages, including German:

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“A person has three names: one that he is called by his father and mother; one that people know him by, and one that he acquires for himself” (Midrash, Kohelet Rabba)

Words matter. Names are important. What we call ourselves and what others call us often impacts the way we view ourselves and the way we are seen in this world. With that as a belief, what a great privilege it was to recently be involved in a naming ceremony for my granddaughter. At this stage, the words “my” and “granddaughter” don’t yet naturally fall off my lips together. I am new at this.

Her name was...

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