Monday, June 27, 2016

4 Things I’m Determined To Do This Summer With Or Without My Kids

Maurie Backman for Kveller

If there’s one thing I love about living out in suburbia, it’s that summertime offers a host of family-friendly activities that are easily accessible from my very own driveway. And so every summer, I compile a list (usually just in my head) of things I want to do before Labor Day rolls around (because as we all know, no matter how old we are, summer just seems to fly by).

But here’s the problem: While these activities always seem like fun in theory, they tend to be less so in practice. And a big reason has to do with the kids—well, my kids. And not so much my toddler, as my twin infant daughters, who are a handful (though my toddler can be quite demanding in his own right).

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Monday, June 20, 2016

13 Weeknight Dinners You Can Prep in 30 Minutes or Less

By Shannon Sarna for Kveller

Dinner on weeknights can just be the worst, right?

Some people spend their Sundays prepping meals for the week, and while that might work on some weekends (for some people), other people want to enjoy their time away from the hectic-ness of the week.

But you can still throw together a family-friendly dinner with just a little menu planning and less than 30 minutes of prep time, even on the busiest nights. And I’m not talking about opening a box of pasta and dousing it in butter and parmesan, although sometimes that’s fine, too.

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For more great Jewish cooking ideas, check out our    page.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sheryl Sandberg Admits She Got It Wrong with ‘Lean In’

Joanna Valente for Kveller

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg recently announced that she got some parts of her popular book, “Lean In,” wrong. Namely, she didn’t realize just how hard single parenting is until her husband died a year ago.

In light of Mother’s Day, Sandberg wrote a post on Facebook where she admitted that single moms get a raw deal–and much of their lives are determined by forces out of their control. Many work multiple jobs and don’t have access to paid leave. She wrote:

“I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Does God care about how you parent?

By Jeffrey Salkin for Martini Judaism

For my parents, it was Dr. Benjamin Spock.

For us, it was T. Berry Brazelton and Penelope Leach.

And for this generation, it might be Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg.

It’s not that Rabbi Ruttenberg is an expert on child-rearing. Not quite. You’re not going to be consulting her new book — Nurture The Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting — for advice on, say, dealing with colic.

(And, in fact, there are several great books on Jewish parenting — including by my colleagues, Paul Kipnes and Michelle November  — as well as the books by Wendy Mogel, which are totally informed and influenced by a Jewish read on the world).

No; here is what Danya does — and it is unique.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

I send my kids to sleep-away camp to give them a competitive advantage in life

By Laura Clydesdale for The Washington Post

“Do you even like your children?” the woman I had just met asked me.

The audacity of the question took my breath away. I had been chatting with her, explaining that my kids go to sleep-away camp for two months every year.

I quickly realized two things at once: She was obnoxious, and she actually didn’t care if I missed my kids during the summer. She was talking about something else.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

All the Respect

Papa Plony is obsessed with beating the Baloney family in the annual relay race. But when Yasmin flakes out on practice, and a new team member shows up with an unexpected physical difference - he panics. SHABOOM! Sparks Gabi and Rafel come to the rescue with incredible upsie-downie magic, including an upside-down rainbow ramp, a giant stuffie and a lesson in showing kavod, or respect. Tune in and find out who wins the race. Kol hakavod!

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Sending My Daughter to Jewish Preschool Reconnected Me with My Roots

Rebecca Givens Rolland for Kveller

My daughter Sophie will be 3 this November. My husband Philippe and I have decided to let her start half-day preschool (she’s begged). Still, we’re late starting to look at options. I can’t settle on anything, and as a doctoral student in education, I fear my knowledge of the research—my vise-grip on “how things should be”— has gotten in the way.

Ironically, in the world of parenting and education, it seems as though you can really know too much, or at least can be too critical. Then, I see an ad for a Jewish preschool not far from our home.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

What to Do When Your Daughter Says, “Mama, I Can’t Stand You”

Sarah Tuttle-Singer for Kveller

And this is how it was this afternoon—my daughter and I pink and tired, our edges sharp, match-match, but misaligned.

And it’s hot today—the sun heavy and unyielding, like our moods, my daughter and I, stuck on repeat, a broken record, while my son watched from his perch in the kitchen, cartoon eyes wide.

And then, she blew the hair out of her face, and scowled, “Mama, I can’t stand you.”

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Monday, May 2, 2016

My Husband Worked from Home for a Day & This Is What Happened

Maurie Backman for Kveller

My husband rarely works from home, and for good reason—because he manages both people and equipment, he’s usually needed at the office. But when I had a doctor’s appointment last week and no one else available to babysit, I decided to ask my husband to work from home rather than drag my 3.5-year-old and twin infants out with me. The plan was to have him do his job out of our home office all day, but take a 90-minute break when I’d be out of the house. Though it ultimately worked just fine, it was an eye-opening experience for both of us.

My poor, unsuspecting husband learned—basically on the fly—that he’d need to follow certain ground rules to coexist peacefully with me and the kids and still get any work done. Namely:

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Are Today’s Parents Getting a Raw Deal?

Rhonda Stephens for The Huffington Post   

Summer 1974. I’m 9 years old. By 7:30 a.m., I’m up and out of the house, or if it’s Saturday I’m up and doing exactly what my father, Big Jerry, has told me to do. Might be raking, mowing, digging holes or washing cars.

Summer 2016. I’m tiptoeing out of the house, on my way to work, in an effort not to wake my children who will undoubtedly sleep until 11 a.m. They may complete a couple of the chores I’ve left in a list on the kitchen counter for them, or they may eat stale Cheez-Its that were left in their rooms three days ago, in order to avoid the kitchen at all costs and “not see” the list.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Don't Censor What Scares You

By Alana Newhouse for Tablet Magazine   

When I was growing up, my parents and I would spend the second Passover Seder every year at the home of close friends. It was an intense ritual: thirty to forty people, somehow always seeming to range in age from birth to near-death, with many from differing backgrounds and with varying degrees of Jewish knowledge and experience, each offering to the collective his or her own particular investment: fluency in Hebrew and Aramaic, mastery of various commentaries on the Hagaddah, insight into current events, comic relief. Crumb1

My parents had become dedicated, beloved members of their modern Orthodox community, but neither had been raised in an observant home, and so neither had much to offer the group by way of formal religious knowledge. Until, that is, the year that my father stumbled upon “the karpas thing.”

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For more Passover news, check out our    page.

Passover is just about here, check out our Passover Holiday Spotlight Kit

Monday, April 11, 2016

A ‘Little Einsteins,’ For Little Mensches

By Amy Sara Clark for The Jewish Week   

New cartoon on Jewish values focuses on the ‘why' of Judaism rather than the ‘how.’

When Sarah Lefton began developing a video series for Jewish children, her first thought was to focus on Jewish ritual.

“When it first started, we thought it would be a series about demystifying the Shabbat experience — 50, one-minute videos about what happens on Shabbat,” said Lefton, founder and director of the nonprofit G-dcast, which makes videos and apps for those looking to learn more about Judaism.

But after talking to dozens of parents, it became clear that the families she was trying to reach, those with a “lower knowledge” base, were more interested in how to raise mensches than how to say the motzi. 

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Sending My Daughter to Jewish Summer Camp Sparked My Own Jewish Identity

Julie MacDonald for Kveller

I grew up Christian in a small Maine town. I spent my summers reading a stack of library books and hanging out in the backyard with my sister and neighborhood friends. In fact, I didn’t realize sleepaway camp was a “thing” until I went away to college and my Jewish classmates got teary-eyed discussing their camp experiences.

It baffled me. This is how people spent their summers? They left their families to hang out with people they saw for a few weeks every year while doing crazy stuff, like archery? Didn’t their parents love them?

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Don’t Fall for Those Viral Adoption Posts on Facebook

Leora Elman for Kveller

It seems like such a nice thing. A post on Facebook about a baby looking for adoptive parents. There is usually something unique about this baby’s circumstance—maybe a special medical condition, a specific race or religion, or a certain location.

You have a friend who is struggling with infertility (odds are that you know quite a few—infertility affects 1 in 6 couples trying to conceive). Maybe they even fit the special requirements of this post. So you click that “share” button or tag their name. Probably a long shot, but what’s the harm?

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Homemade Mishloach Manot Baskets for Purim

This week we bring you an article right from our Purim Holiday Spotlight Kit

Purim is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start making Purim baskets – otherwise known as Mishloach Manot! Instead of rushing out to the local craft store for pre-made baskets, why not create homemade baskets with your kids?

These simple woven paper baskets are fun to make and give. They’re made from construction paper, and they’re super easy to put together!

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For more Purim news, check out our    page.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Why I’m Teaching My Son to Swim in the Dead of Winter

Rabbi Ilana Garber  for Kveller

I love the water. I’ve always felt most at peace near an ocean—whether at the lake at camp or swimming pool—just about anywhere work too. I’m not a great swimmer though, much to my chagrin, even though I swam daily during my first pregnancy, and dreamed of it daily during my second (my kids are just 18 months apart). Now I’m trying to get to the pool at least once a week for a few laps, while also taking a water aerobics class as part of my post-cancer recovery fitness plan.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

4 Defining Moments of Parenting

By Sara Debbie Gutfreund for The Jewish Voice

Treasuring the gift of our children.
Parenting is comprised of ordinary and extraordinary moments of connection and growth as I try my best to love, help and treasure my children. There are so many defining moments of parenting; moments that can uplift us and transform us if we hold onto them. Here are four precious moments that changed me.

1. The moment I decided to listen.

A teacher called and informed me that my daughter had come late to class and she didn't explain why. When my daughter came home that day, I wanted to cross-examine her. Why? Where were you? What's wrong with you?

I took one look at my daughter and I knew she needed me to listen, not talk. That’s how I found out that she was late for class because she was comforting a sobbing friend, and she didn't tell the teacher in order to protect her friend's privacy. In that moment, I listened and truly heard my child's voice.

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Ask the Expert: What to do on Shabbat?

How do I occupy myself on this day of rest?

By MJL Staff

Question: I’ve heard all about the things that are prohibited on Shabbat, from writing a letter to watching TV. So what can you do on Saturdays?

–Shelby, Poplar Bluff

Answer: I know how you feel, Shelby. When people speak about traditional Shabbat observance, they often end up focusing on all the things that are restricted, without spending much time talking about what people who observe Shabbat in this manner really love about it.

First, however, I should say that today, people observe Shabbat in all sorts of different ways, and activities that more traditional communities consider forbidden on Shabbat are not necessarily frowned upon by liberal streams of Judaism.

But since you seem most interested in how Shabbat is experienced according to classical Jewish law, I’ll focus on that.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

The Amazing Thing My 8-Year-Old Taught Me About Getting Older

Lisa A. Bloom for Kveller

My birthday and my eldest daughter’s birthday are 23 days apart. As a result, I am reminded of my birthday sooner than I would like, since she eagerly plans ahead for her own birthday at least two months in advance.

As my birthday comes first, she and my other daughter “cryptically” asked me what my favorite breakfast in bed would be, and if I had to choose a “fun” place to eat dinner, where would it be? They were planning my birthday too, whether I liked it or not.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

What Traveling with My Child with Disabilities Has Taught Me

Rabbi Ilana Garber for Kveller

More ferocious than the Tiger Mama. Hovering closer than every Helicopter Parent. More stereotypical than anyone’s Jewish mother.

A vacation. No, a family trip. Add to that: a family trip with a child with special needs. As we tried to escape the cold of New England to visit Miami, we found ourselves facing a different set of frigid conditions: long lines, cranky children, delayed flights, and my favorite, unfriendly stares from people who think we are bad parents. If only they knew, or took the time to ask. Or, preferably, if only they would just look the other way.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

15 Chore Ideas for 4-Year-Olds

from Money Saving Mom
Yesterday, I posted about 10 Chore Ideas for Toddlers. Today, I’m going to share some chore ideas for 4-year-olds.

Why 4-year-olds? Well, because I happen to have a 4-year-old right now. :) However, don’t feel like these chores are only appropriate for 4-year-olds. They’d probably work great for children of other ages, too.

3 Important Things to Remember

1. Children Need to Know What You Expect of Them
If you don’t show your children how to do a job well, you can’t expect them to know how to do it right. Before asking them to do a chore on their own, work alongside them a few times showing them specifically how to do it.

2. Don’t Expect Them To Do It Well–Especially At First
It often takes a lot of repetitive teaching, gentle correcting, and practice before a child can do a job well. Don’t expect perfection–especially when they are young. What matters is that they are putting forth effort and trying their best.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Mark Zuckerberg: Best Jewish Dad?

Joanna Valente for Kveller

Mark Zuckerberg is becoming one of those parents–you know the ones–who share A LOT of photos on Facebook of their kids. Personally, I like witnessing the changes and developments my friends’ kids make, but it definitely is ironic considering Zuckerberg is the founder of social media as we know it.

Recently, he shared a photo on Facebook of his daughter Max’s first swim lesson. Besides the photo being absolutely adorable–her serene expression as she gazes up into her father’s eyes–it’s also incredibly Jewish. In the Talmud (Kiddushin 29a), there is a list of things that parents are responsible for doing for their child after birth, with swimming being one of them. So in many ways, he’s just being a good Jewish dad.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Symposium // Is There a “Jewish” Way to Parent?

From Moment Magazine

with: Bradley Artson // Shalom Auslander // Alex Barnett // Sara Diament  // Sarah Feinberg
Stephen Krausz  // Ron Lieber // Susan Katz Miller // Naomi Schaefer Riley // Gary Rudoren
Debbie Wasserman Schultz // Lenore Skenazy // Susan Silverman // Abraham Twerski
Ayelet Waldman // Ruth K. Westheimer // Elianna Yolkut

Jewish parenting has never been simple: The original dysfunctional families are found in the Hebrew Bible. But today parenting is more nuanced and complicated than ever. Moment speaks with a range of Jewish parents and experts to explore what role, if any, Judaism plays in 21st-century parenting.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Even More ideas for Tu B’shevat. Three, to be precise.

Tu biShvat begins January 25

By Homeshuling,  A Jewish Parenting Blog

Recognizing that it can be hard to find meaningful ways to celebrate trees in the middle (or, depending on the Groundhog’s prediction, almost-the-end of) winter. Last year I posted 15 Other Things to Do for Tu B’shevat. I don’t have 15 more, but I do have a few, just in time for the holiday, which starts on Tuesday night.

Do you remember learning “Ha-shkeydiah Poracahat” in Hebrew school? It’s sort of the Tu B’shevat anthem. The song celebrates the almond trees, which are the first trees to bloom in Israel are typically covered in pink blossoms this time of year. (By the way, did you learn to sing it with the terribly unfortunate English translation – “Tu B’shevat is here, the Jewish Arbor Day”?)

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Bubbe vs. Bubbe

My boyfriend’s proper English grandmother was nothing like the fast-walking, loud-talking grandmother I’d grown up with—or was she?

By Judy Batalion for Tablet Magazine   
“Would you like to meet my grandmother?” Jon asked above the loud chatter of the North London gastro-pub.

I put down my forkful of fish and chips tartare and stared at him with excitement. “Your grandmother?”

I’d been seeing Jon for two months, but I hadn’t even met his parents yet.

“My grandmother’s 93,” Jon said.

“Wow,” I exclaimed, breathless, as if he’d just revealed a secret fortune or robust abs. He had a living grandmother. This turned me on.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Jewish Adoption in America

By Barbara T. Blank  for   

Ancient laws and modernity are brought together with the embrace of adoption in the Jewish community.

Since ancient times, Judaism has valued and encouraged adoption. But most biblical and rabbinic references to the practice relate specifically to orphans, a paradigmatically vulnerable class of individuals for which the Bible mandates we protect and care.

The most famous example in the Bible, of course, is that of the orphaned Queen Esther, who was raised by her cousin Mordecai. The Talmud, however, illuminates–and approves of–more obscure cases as well.

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