On the eve of the highly anticipated inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, I’m glued to the televised pomp and circumstances like I was a couple weeks ago for the Golden Globes. Only this event isn’t entertainment, it’s real life. These two worlds of fantasy and reality have collided and a billionaire businessman/realty television star with no political experience is about to become our commander in chief. No matter what the outcome of this ugly, contested election, half of the voting population was predicted to be up in arms and protest the results.
I have struggled to write this post-election blog because I didn’t quite know how to express my feelings. I’m glad I waited to process my thoughts. In the days leading up to and after the election, I refused to get caught up in the spew of hatred, negativity, and filth in social media. I’m no angel, but words like “misogynist” and “xenophobic” were posted so many times on Facebook that I’m afraid spelling bees and ACTS will sink to a new level with this kind of commonplace vocabulary. This country is great because we have a platform to speak our minds and share our views, but the constant bombardment of anger, bigotry, and ignorance is out of control from both sides. Instead, I choose to focus on my family and encourage open conversations about our different opinions. I’m trying to be a better listener. Continue reading
On November 10, St. Louis women will join tens of thousands worldwide as part of the annual global Great Big Challah Bake. That’s a lot of Flour Power! Women and girls, moms and daughters, from all over the St. Louis area will join others worldwide as they share in the age old tradition of making challah.
Shabbat Can Do That!
Finding your happy place just got easier, thanks to two St. Louis working moms Tammi Johnson and Lori Lander, who know a thing or two about taking care of other people’s needs before their own. After all, they’re moms! So after decades of experience in the IT corporate world and leadership training (Johnson) and a career dedicated to women’s wellness and community service (Lander), these two powerhouses recently joined creative forces to create Language of Happiness, which offers a variety of workshops to women who are looking to make the most of the next stage in their life.
In Jennifer Weiner’s new memoir, Hungry Heart, this NY Times bestselling author is, well, an open book. And when Weiner has something to say, people listen (her social media posts are a viral sensation). This outspoken novelist, feminist, humorist, columnist, live tweeter, political activist, and Jewish mom holds nothing back in her new memoir, her first foray into nonfiction, and is sure to satisfy, even surprise her readers.
Her books have spent more than five years on the NY Times bestseller list with over 11 million copies in print in 36 countries. In addition to a collection of short stories, she has written 14 novels, including In Her Shoes, which was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine, and continues to rank as a favorite chick flick. (Her Nanna plays an extra in the movie!)
Although her widely acclaimed books fall into the chick lit category, her adoring fans know her stories are so much more, and even literary critics can’t deny that Weiner’s real-life characters and fairy tale endings resonate with the largest population of book-buyers. On October 19, 7:30 pm., Weiner will pack the house as she divulges her raw, personal life in her newly released Hungry Heart, at the 38th annual STL Jewish Book Festival. Both hilarious and heartbreaking, her memoir will make you laugh out loud—such as the chapter about her mom Fran coming out as a lesbian during the Passover Seder (why is this night different from all other nights?!)—and other pages will provoke the ugly cry—such as when she describes the agony of suffering a miscarriage in her bathroom. In other words, Weiner is as real as it gets, and that’s what makes her so appealing.
Weiner, whose named is pronounced Whyner (as in kvetchy) and not Weener (like the hot dog), is a smart, funny, Jewish writer whose voice is akin to the women she grew up reading—Erica Jong, Nora Ephron, and Frank Lebowitz. These literary mentors inspired the Princeton grad to always remain true to herself, not only as an author, but as a wife, daughter, sister, friend, and mom to Phoebe, 8, and Lucy, 13.
On the heels of her whirlwind book tour of her first children’s novel, Littlest Bigfoot, also for sale at the event, we recently got together and chatted over green tea lattes. Not really, we exchanged emails, and here’s what she had to say: Continue reading
Being grateful is a central theme of Judaism, especially on Rosh Hashanah when we take inventory of all the blessings in our lives. We turn to God and offer thanks for our abundance, even during the darkest times.
In one of the most recognized and quoted texts in Jewish thought, Pirke Avot (written around the year 200 CE), we learn “Who is rich? Those who rejoice in their own portion.”
On this Rosh Hashanah, don’t just show up. Be ready!
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is unlike the celebration of the secular New Year because the resolutions we make are not only to ourselves but to God. Whereas a typical New Year’s resolution on the first of January might be to go the gym and lose a few pounds, the Jewish New Year is a time to really work up a sweat and ask God as our personal trainer to help make us stronger and a better person in the year ahead.
The Jewish Women’s Society Challah Making Club!
Thirty women get together once a month for lots of love, laughter, and learning (and wisecracks about yeast—sorry I couldn’t resist). The long tables are filled with big bowls, measuring cups, spoons and we all have our own spot to combine, mix, and braid the ingredients into eight mini loaves (or fewer depending on the size and shape) of challah.
Some women are balaboostas, effortlessly rolling and stretching the dough in the palms of their hands into the perfect shape of a snake, while others like me still struggle to pinch and tuck the ends. It doesn’t matter; it’s not a competition. We are all there for each other and to have a good time. Sure, I admit I envy the intricate eight-braided challahs and round cinnamon bun designs that line the foil pans ready to take home and show off to their families. I’m still proud of myself for trying, and it all tastes heavenly when it comes out of the oven gold brown, crunchy on the outside, sweet and chewy inside. Honestly, the best part of the night is being a part of this sisterhood and doing an ancient mitzvah while I wear my blue “Keep Calm and Bake Challah” apron. Continue reading
When it comes to parenting, there is no manual. Back in the day, my mom kept Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care paperback in her nightstand, next to the S&H Green Stamps and the TV remote. I never noticed any dog-eared corners on the faded brown pages so doubt if she ever referred to this “timeless bestseller.” Turns out she probably could have used some expert advice on how to redirect her high-spirited daughter because her idea of discipline was chasing me down the hallway with a flyswatter.
It’s almost Labor Day, and I’ve procrastinated to write this back-to-school blog. Maybe because my youngest is a high school senior and in 300-something days I will be an empty nester. (Yes, I obsess about it). For the last 12 years, I have taken my daughter’s first day of school photo in the front yard, with her holding our toy poodle Luci, next to the Chinese maple tree, which has grown from her shoulders to as tall as the two-story gutter.
Last year, I knew it would be my last Mother’s Day with my mom. She had been going down hill for a couple years with a myriad of diseases and ailments…cancer, kidney failure, depression, back pain, a couple episodes of gout, you name it, she was dealing with it. And at the age of 91, she was done fighting. We talked openly about the end of her life, and she told us how grateful she was to have lived a full, happy life until she lost her independence and health. We didn’t want her to suffer anymore, physically or mentally, and she worried everyday that she was a burden to me. It was cathartic for me to write her eulogy a few days before she died. I wrote a lot about my mom over the years, and many of the stories appear in my book Mishegas of Motherhood. Where do you think I got the mishegas from? This piece was the most recent one I wrote about my mom, when her lymphoma came back on my 50th bday. I guess you could say I was prepared to lose my mom, my best friend. And then again, I wasn’t.