faith, Greg & Morgan, Married Life

february date: “incitement”

I surprised Gregory on February 5 with tickets to this year’s Charlotte Jewish Film Festival (which would have been no good without a babysitter, so that was part of the package too). There were plenty of comedy options in the CJFF lineup but I chose Incitement, a “rigorous psychological thriller” about the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1995. It sounded fascinating!

So going in, I thought for sure the prime minister was assassinated by an Arab. This might sound racist but what other people love to kill Jews? Obviously Israeli history isn’t one of my strong points because the assassin was an Orthodox Jew named Yigal Amir. We were shocked! Apparently Prime Minister Rabin’s participation in the Oslo Accords led some of the religious Jews to view him as a rodef, a pursuer of the Jewish people who should be stopped. Yigal Amir was sentenced to life in prison and he’s actually still there today.

The film was shown at Temple Israel, not the coziest movie venue since no food or drink is permitted in the sanctuary out of respect, but a very appropriate place to be immersed into the life and mind of a religious Jew. It’s a somber story and one that gave us a lot to think about! Definitely recommend the film if you have the chance to see it.


Bartos family, faith, Thoughts

the value of nontraditionalism

We recently went to a traditional holiday party which was missing all the traditions. I started thinking about the significance of keeping an open mind where our faith is concerned. The essence (doctrine, if you will) of what we believe is non-negotiable, but the practice of it is open to interpretation.

For this particular holiday, Purim, it’s traditional to read the megillah (the book of Esther), using noisemakers to drown out the name of Haman and cheer the name of Mordechai; to feast and celebrate with great merriment, i.e. wine & hamentaschen; and to give mishloach manot, gifts of food specified in Esther 9.19-22. Continue reading “the value of nontraditionalism”

Bartos family, faith, Planning, Thoughts

an attempt at tzom kal

This Sunday ends the “three sad weeks” between tzom Tammuz and tisha b’Av. Have to say I’m ready to get back to normal life! This particular area of Judaism spans a wide range, both in Jewish and Messianic practice, ranging from no observance to a list of limitations that grow increasingly strict as the ninth of Av approaches. Personally I think it’s kind of a choose-your-own-adventure. For us, we’ve developed a structure for our family that limits our enjoyment (shopping, partying, traveling, swimming, and movies, for example) during this time in order to join with Israel in mourning over Zion and praying for the swift return of Messiah.

Continue reading “an attempt at tzom kal”

faith, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family

valentine’s day / tu b’av 5772

focused on our baby

My sisters and I have been doing a “31 Days of Prayer” project, praying for our husbands with a different focus each day, and today is the halfway point. Coincidentally, it’s also Tu b’Av, the Jewish Valentine’s Day… so I have to take a minute and rave about my husband. What this project has shown me so far is how incredibly blessed I am to have Greg in my life! As I look at the focus for each day, I find myself praising G-d because I recognize these qualities in Greg. We’ve prayed about spiritual disciplines, leadership skills, loving righteousness/hating evil, faithfulness in marriage, a pure heart, character qualities for success, wisdom in finances, integrity, a teachable spirit, self-control, uplifting words, and choice of friends. I am thrilled that Greg’s love for G-d is demonstrated continually! He sees his morning prayer time as the most important part of his day. He constantly studies/memorizes the Scripture. He has a compassionate heart and gives money or time wherever he finds a need. He works tirelessly to support us. He leads our family with wisdom + decisiveness. He is quick to provide my every need, whatever it may be. He is truly a devoted husband. I love you, Greg! You are so good to me, far more than I deserve. Happy Tu b’Av!

Week at a glance:

  • observed the 9th of Av with appropriate mourning, prayer, & reading Eichah {the book of Lamentations}… no fasting for the berry & I this year
    “Restore us to Yourself, Adonai, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old…” Lamentations 5.21a
  • talked to Miss Madison Hackett for HOURS!
  • made it home safely from our trip {very impressed with Sophia who did so well in the car, even on an 11-hour drive}
  • skipped date night this week, since we drove home all day Monday, and had Peter over for a social visit instead of his usual berrysitting responsibilities
  • unpacked from the aforementioned trip, no small matter now that there are three of us! and replenished our pantry/fridge
  • met Julianna for conversation {house shopping!} + wild blueberry tea right before she left town
  • spent an evening with my parents sipping port {Greg} and catching up with them
  • heard an interesting new Bible theory {two arks, not one, in the wilderness – one holding the tablets, manna, & Aaron’s rod; the other carrying Joseph’s bones}
  • took care of five returns that had been waiting around here and got $100 back {you’d be surprised how many people hear me say “I have a return to make” as I hold Sophia’s car seat and respond with a joke about how “you can’t return those here…”}
  • got an antioxidant boost {beets + carrot juice!} at Earth Fare with Christine and Mary
  • saw Greg’s mom when she stopped by Thursday afternoon, bringing us freshly ground coffee
  • reorganized the bathroom closet/cabinet {seriously, one of the highlights of my week… why? 1) was able to throw a bunch of stuff away, 2) both places needed a good cleaning, and 3) it’s a thousand times more neat + easy to use now!}
  • finished reading The Sabbath out loud to Sophia… our first book together {besides Hug Hug}
  • yet to come: erev Shabbat at The Residence with a fun group of Texas friends, a quiet day together, and the start of our 4-week discussion series on liturgical prayer!


PS: added a picture to last week’s post… that one was done on my phone as we drove to Kentucky.

faith, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family, Thoughts

thanksgiving 2011

Hope everyone had a fantastic time of Thanksgiving this week! Greg & I drove up to Bristol VA to spend a few days with my grandparents + extended family {Dave & Tina Stelzl}. It was so good to see everyone! Raspberry made her presence obvious, as usual.

We took some time on Friday afternoon to reflect on the ways G-d has blessed us, both major and minor things, and recognize His goodness to us. You know, I am very thankful for Raspberry. I love her SO much, already! But my biggest blessing is, without a doubt, Gregory Aaron Bartos.

Greg and I recently read “The Committed Marriage” by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, an easy read which I highly recommend, and Rebbetzin Jungreis goes through five essential qualities for living a purposeful and meaningful life {the basis of a committed marriage}. The very first quality is having a good eye, meaning a benevolent and caring attitude, always seeing the good rather than the bad in others. She says:

There are two ways of looking at every situation. You can see light or darkness, blessing or curse. You can see the world with a good eye or a bad eye. Depending on which eye you choose, you can become either considerate or bitter, patient or angry, giving or niggardly, content or miserable, warm or cantankerous, loving or critical – it’s all contingent upon how you train your eye. And that is the legacy you leave behind. That is your eulogy.

At one time or another, we all experience events that are beyond our comprehension, events that may leave us feeling hopeless, cynical, and bitter. On such occasions, our good eye can infuse us with faith and fortify us with the knowledge that there must be a reason for what is happening, even if, for the moment, that reason eludes us. Most often, however, we allow these traumas to strip us of our faith and fill our hearts with anger and bitterness. But if we look at our predicament with a good eye, see our difficulties as challenges, as opportunities for growth, we will find something positive on which to focus. This holds true not only in time of crisis, but also in the normal ups and downs of life.

I am incredibly blessed, far beyond what I deserve, with a husband who has a good eye. Greg finds the good in everything, not only making me feel loved and treasured, but also setting an example for me of a positive outlook on life which consistently glorifies G-d. When it comes to our marriage, he sees his weaknesses + my strengths, as the sages describe:

Man was given two eyes, so that with one, he should see his own faults, and with the other, he should see the virtues of others.
-the Baal Shem Tov

Greg, you always inspire me. I love you sweetheart!


faith, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family

yom kippur 5772

Raspberry & I are observing Yom Kippur tonight and tomorrow. We will not be fasting, but we’ll spend the day with Greg in prayer, focusing on repentance and G-d’s mercy.

It’s been a tough week… Raspberry lost a great-grandmother Monday morning, without ever having the chance to meet her. As a family we have been participating in mourning my grandmother’s loss during this week of sitting shiva. So the year begins on a sorrowful note, but we thank G-d for the blessing of life – both the 78 years Helena Squicciarini spent on this earth and the new life growing inside me.


faith, Thoughts

talmudic ethics: abortion

Last night’s ethical discussion centered around abortion, with some pretty tough questions. For example:

Ann, who suffered from bone marrow cancer, needed a transplant and found only one matching donor: her pregnant sister Leah. In order to perform the procedure without endangering Leah’s life, an abortion was needed. Whose life takes precedence?

Hard enough already. But then we personalized the example…

Julianna, who suffered from bone marrow cancer, needed a transplant and found only one matching donor: her pregnant sister Morgan. In order to perform the procedure without endangering Morgan’s life, an abortion was needed. Whose life takes precedence?

All I could think was how awful it would be to face a decision like that – to watch a sister die and know you could have saved her, or give up a precious baby… May we be preserved from such a heartbreaking situation.


faith, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Personal, Squicciarini family, Thoughts

nineteenth week of married life

Mums insisted on making a birthday dinner for me last Wednesday, and somehow the plan expanded into a whole afternoon of poolside fun as well, complete with lemon thyme cucumber flavored water. Once Greg arrived, we had white sangria with baked feta cheese followed by grilled grouper with a butter rum sauce, mango quinoa, and veggie kabobs! I am so very grateful to my family for their overwhelming generosity – they worked hard to give me a perfect day, excellent dinner, and terrific presents – all in all pretty much my favorite birthday. I feel absolutely showered with love and affection.

Now that we are up to almost 20 weeks of marriage, I think it is time to stop counting in weeks. However, I’ll probably continue occasional updates until it’s time to take this blog in a different direction. Note the foreshadowing here.

I’ve neglected to mention the last 2 monthly honeymoons… an accidental oversight. At the beginning of June, my husband participated in Greg Upham’s class on taharat hamishpachah, and came home telling me that we would be moving to the Orthodox method of calculation {anywhere from 11-14 days, depending on the cycle}. “But seven days was already hard for us,” I responded in horror. My suggestion, which seemed like a reasonable compromise, was that we would stick with our predetermined 7-day system for now and gradually move to a more strict halachah over the remainder of the year. I am quite proud of Greg that he did not give in to my “logical arguments” {whining} and stuck to what he thought was right for us.

That month was pretty tough, as you can imagine. Basically the entire time was an ongoing discussion about our practice and how it would work. At first it seemed way out of balance, a tradition gone overboard {at the strictest level, taharat hamishpachah can mean not touching your spouse ‘at all’ for 2 weeks out of every month – half your married life}. After so many hours of going back and forth about it, I thank G-d for bringing us to a peaceful conclusion by the end of it. We chose to use the Orthodox time frame, yet differentiate between clean and unclean days in regard to our interaction with each other. The “honeymoon” is even more of a big deal now because we wait longer for it!

I did notice again that it is tempting to resent the cycle itself {and therefore the One Who created it}. After the monthly honeymoon, the feeling of being “one” is overwhelming – emotional closeness, not just physical intimacy {this euphoria is probably what most would term being in love, though that would be a misunderstanding: love is constant, not turned on and off like a light switch, and not communicated only through physical touch}. As the month goes on, there’s almost a dread that the days are coming to an end… soon we’ll be separate again. When that time does come, it’s like being ripped apart. I have to remind myself that G-d Himself designed the rhythm of marriage. And if the goal is to build a dynamic, devoted, unshakeable marriage, it’s working! Greg & I love each other more every day, confident that we were meant to be together.

It occurs to me that the intensity of these emotions surrounding family purity is perhaps similar to what we should feel for Shabbat: longing for it to start and sorrowful as it draws to a close, as I do for the time of “togetherness” in my marriage.


faith, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Thoughts

fourteenth week of married life

On a typical summer Friday afternoon, Greg is at his office finishing out the work week and I am at our home, preparing food & making sure the house is neat. He gets home around 6pm {sometimes with a bright bouquet of flowers for me} and we spend the next hour or so on personal projects: he takes care of any outstanding work for his social media clients while I look at a portion commentary like the Rabbi’s Son or write a quick torahgirl post. By 7.30pm we’re wrapping things up, I’m getting dinner on the table, and we’re sitting down for kiddush. I light the candles, Greg sings the Eshet Chayil [Proverbs 31], we remember creation, the exodus from Egypt, & the World to Come, and we bless G-d for the wine & bread. Shabbat dinner by ourselves always means hours of conversation. Occasionally we’ll have a lively discussion, perhaps a “hot-button” issue where we debate both sides, usually SOMEHOW related to raising children – one of our favorite topics. After dinner we’ll usually read a chapter from one of our current books-in-progress, concluding with more conversation as we catch up from the week and savor the peacefulness of time alone.

I like to think about our future children on Friday nights, wondering what they will be like and praying for them. This is an excerpt from my siddur:

Master of the world: grant us the privilege that our children be illuminated with the Word of G-d, and be healthy in body and in mind, possess good character traits, and be occupied in the Word of G-d for its own sake. Grant them a long and good life, and may they be filled with the Word of G-d, wisdom, and fear of Heaven. May they be beloved above and desired below. Rescue them from the evil eye, the evil inclination, and from all manner of punishments, and may they have healthy senses for Your service. In Your abundant mercy, make us worthy {my husband and I} that You fill the number of our days with many good and pleasant days and years, with love and peace. May we be privileged to raise each of our sons and each of our daughters for the Word of G-d, the bridal canopy, and good deeds.

Prepare for each of our sons the girl who is his mate, and for each of our daughters the boy who is her mate, and may they not be pushed away for others, Heaven forbid! Bless our handiwork to give them generous dowries and gifts, and may we be able to fulfill what we have obligated ourselves to give, and to marry them off in their youth to their mates with ease, satisfaction, and happiness. May good fruit emerge from them – righteous children who earn merit and give merit to all Israel.

May Your Holy Name not be desecrated through our efforts, nor through those of our offspring, Heaven forbid. Fulfill all our heartfelt requests for the good with health, success, and all good things, and may the glory of Your great Name and the glory of the Word of G-d be exalted through our efforts, and through the efforts of our offspring and of our offspring’s offspring. Amen, may it thus be Your Will.

May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.

The first few lessons in our “Messiah Unveiled” study have been about the Word of G-d. What is the Word of G-d? Is it the Bible, or something more? Can the Word be heard? Seen? Wasn’t the Word in the beginning, with G-d? Something to think about…


PS: Greg arrived tonight with a mint plant for me, which he explained would be more useful than flowers because we can use it for cooking. And garnishes. And the occasional mint-flavored beverage. Shabbat shalom everyone!