Female JBlogger interview: Sephardi Lady

Since Jewish Blogmeister indicated here (check the comments) that he won’t be interviewing any female Jbloggers, I decided to take up the gauntlet (only I don’t promise to stay on my side of the mechitza!). I started with Sephardi Lady of Orthonomics, who discusses her hobbies, the tuition crisis, abuse in our communities, borekas, and how she came to write about economics and Orthodox Jewish life. Enjoy!

Sephardi Lady, for a young woman you seem to have a lot of financial know-how topped with a greater than average measure of common sense. Your blog is on countless blogrolls and is linked to constantly, and gets comments from well-known names in our community. What life experience do you bring to a discussion of economics and the Orthodox community?

Thank you so much for the compliments. If anyone deserves credit for my “common sense” it would have to be my parents. They taught me the values that I hope to adequately portray in my blog, as well as adequately pass down to my own children: conducting one’s affairs with honesty and integrity, putting what is right before your own desires, being happy with what you have and not looking to compare with the outside world, living within your means and saving for the future, living modestly, and looking at the bigger picture. Baruch Hashem, these values fit very well within a Torah worldview.
Sometimes I wonder what qualifications that I have to run my own blog, lol. Afterall, there are those with more years, more wisdom, more connections, and far more experience and insights into the issues I write about. Fortunately, many of these people have become valued commentors (on or off record), which is where the true success of a blog lies. A blog without comments would be like food without spice.
In all honesty, I do believe I have the right qualifications and life experiences to run my blog. My background is in accounting/auditing and business administration. The area where I shined professionally was my ability to isolate the issues and communicate them clearly. From viewing different discussions in various blogs and hearing “Shabbos Table” talk, I knew there was a “demand” for a forum on frum financial issues, and as a free market American capatalist, I decided to “supply” that forum.

While nearly all of my work experience has taken place outside of the community, I have an interest in household finance and small business that has opened my eyes and ears to issues faced in our own communities. I’ve been on a shul financial committee, so I’m aware of some of the institutional challenges out there. I’ve also helped many young people and young couples with their budgeting, taxes, and more. So between running our own household finances like a well oiled machine, and knowing a little bit about other people’s financial situations, I think that I’m sufficiently close to “the front line.”

How did you think of that clever name, “Orthonomics”?
When I finally decided to put my hat in the ring, so to speak, the name just came to me. Too bad other ideas are not so forthcoming.

What have you learned since the birth of your children?

What haven’t I learned? I think the most amazing thing about being a parent is just how deep of an emotional connection you have to your own flesh and blood. I think this took me by surprise. I really had no idea how strong that bond is, and it bring a whole new dimension to certain parts of the Torah. Another thing that I have noted is just how trying being a parent can be. There were certain bad middot that I fought with and thought that I had essentially buried, until my kids pushed the wrong buttons and I realized those middot haven’t actually been buried. Chazal tells us that it takes a lifetime to change a middah. The sages were not kidding!

How do you fit blogging and commenting on other blogs around the demands of small children?

With a new baby in the house, I’m finding it harder to fit blogging in. Plus, we’ve recently been going a lot of places: the library, the park, and the regular errands. But, I enjoy writing about issues I care about. And, when a thought comes to mind, I will type it up and find time to complete the thoughts when I’m having some “down time.” Commentings is a lot easier than blogging. I can type with one hand and tend to do so while holding the baby and serving breakfast or lunch. There aren’t too many other mothers at home. And, I guess blogging is my view into the adult world.

What other hobbies do you have, assuming you have the time?

I really enjoy cooking. It fits well into my life as a homemaker. And, my husband appreciates this hobby too. My other hobbies are a lot harder to maintain. I love athletic activity, but due to tough deliveries, I am unable to return to the level of athleticism that I would love to return to. So, while I work out, I don’t think I will be setting any records any time soon. My other hobby is playing classical piano. Here too, I have a hard time playing with the level of perfection I expect from myself. Somehow, it is difficult to play when a toddler joins in and turns the pages.

Are both you and your husband from a Sephardic tradition?

Hashem must have had us matched before birth. When I left home for the first time I found myself among Jewish peers, many of whom were Sephardi. The rationalism of the Rambam and differences in outlook regarding halacha and communal policy appealed to me; the traditions fascinated me; the decorum in the Beit Knesset impressed me; and the food, well, what can I say, a boreka beats a gefilte fish hands down. When my then shidduch date revealed to me that he was Sephardi, scared I might harbor some negative sterotypes, and I responded enthusiastically, the deal was sealed. Together, we are committed to continuing and preserving Sephardi minhag and halacha. And, I’m even looking forward to having grandchildren named after me, in my lifetime, iy”h.

You were the one who wrote the letter to Rabbi Horowitz that got an interesting discussion going about the extent of abuse in the Orthodox community. Where would you like to see the discussion go from here?

I am an action oriented person. So, ultimately, I’d like to see some action taken. And, I think that eventually action will be taken. But, G-d willing it will be taken up voluntarily, rather than forced upon the community in an embarrassing way that weakens faith in the community and its leaders.

In your opinion, what is the biggest factor in the tuition crisis? What do you think can be done to help resolve it, if possible?

I hate to be a pessimist, but I’m not sure that anything can be done to resolve the “tuition crisis” at this point without an extreme reorientation of priorities, lead by strong leaders, to the detriment of other causes. The day school/yeshiva movement is not that old, nor that organized. Private schooling for the masses is a very expensive proposal and requires a great deal of investment. I’m not sure the community has had the time to make the necessary investment. But, worse yet, I’m not sure that the community has the interest. Unfortunately, it seems that nearly every other cause is more attractive, while schooling is left to the “consumer” to fund. .

Day schools and yeshivot are vital to health of the Torah community. While there are some alternatives out there for individuals (e.g. homeschooling), I don’t think there are any good alternatives for the masses. I’m afraid that we are already playing defense, but hope to see some offensive action taken.

What do you most enjoy about blogging, and what have you learned from your experience in the Jblogosphere?

J-blogs have opened up a whole new world for me. On top of the tremendous amont of Torah out there, it has been great to discover that there are other people out there who share some of your own interests and concerns. Too often the blogosphere is brutal. But, it is a tremendous forum, and I think it can be utilized for positive purposes. G-d willing, I will contribute positively.
Thank you for the interview.

Thank you for your thoughtful responses. And take it from me–stay away from those borekas ;).

Interview with Maggid of Bergenfield

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Comments

  1. SephardiLady says:

    And take it from me–stay away from those borekas ;).

    A very good idea. My boy is always begging for borekas. I’m not kidding, he will eat anything inside of one. Even eggplant.

  2. RaggedyMom says:

    Great interview, both the questions and answers! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only stay-at-home-mom out there (though it feels like it sometimes!)

  3. What RaggedyMom said… until the stay-at-home-mom part. 🙂

    I’m looking forward to more interviews…!

  4. Jewish Blogmeister says:

    I would like to make it very clear you misstated what I said. You asked me if I would and I jokingly said I would ask my wife…just setting the record straight.

    Thanks

  5. mother in israel says:

    SL–Looking forward to eggplant borekas when we finally meet.
    RM and Ezzie–Thanks!
    JM–Thanks for clarifying, and I hope you don’t mind at any rate. There’s certainly room for two interviewers in the Jblogosphere (but not three–just kidding!).

  6. SephardiLady says:

    G-d willing we will make a trip to Israel and we can meet. 🙂

  7. Jack's Shack says:

    Very nice.

  8. great interview. very interesting questions….

  9. Mother of Israel says:

    For a second I even confused our comments! Great interview, you are now on my “favorites” list!

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