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Great Big Challah Bake Unites Women Worldwide



In a world that is more and more divided, The Great Big Challah Bake is bringing us together, one challah at a time. Another alarming reality is that many Jews are drifting away from their heritage, and nothing brings us back to our roots and unites us like this aromatic braided bread made lovingly by hand from the most basic ingredients, mainly flour, water, yeast, egg, sugar, salt. Every single week, in preparation for the Sabbath, this ordinary or mundane act of making bread is elevated and becomes holy and even magical,  as hundreds of women in the same room (and thousands across the globe) come together for the same mission. Last year, more than 500 women and girls, representing the entire spectrum of the St. Louis Jewish community and all levels of observance, bonded together to share their love of making challah. This year’s third annual event, October 26 at the JCC in Creve Coeur, will be bigger and better than ever. Continue reading

Empowering Girls To Be Their True Selves


When it come to empowering girls to be their authentic selves and to boldly pursue their dreams, nobody does it better than Girls In The Know (GITK). Founded in 2009, GITK has already reached more than 2,500 middle school age girls and their parents (or caregivers) and given them the strategic tools they need to navigate through the challenging adolescent years. It’s not easy growing up in today’s world, and young girls have more pressure than ever to conform to unrealistic standards. Again, that’s when GITK comes into play. Continue reading

Sukkot: What We Learn When Our Walls Come Down

When Yom Kippur ends, another Jewish holiday begins. Sukkot! This week-long pilgrimage festival (October 5-13, 2017) commemorates the time when Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years after escaping from slavery in Egypt. The Jewish people built temporary tent-like structures to sleep, eat, and dwell in, and it’s a mitzvah for us to build a sukkah and to immerse ourselves in nature and God’s presence. At this time in our world, when everyday seems to bring another natural or manmade tragedy, from the hurricanes to mass shootings, we are reminded of how vulnerable we really are. The safety of four concrete walls can’t protect us from harm. Also, when we isolate ourselves in our shelters, we can’t connect with each other. So, Sukkot is a time for our walls to come down, for us to be in touch with not only nature and with God, but also with each other. During Sukkot, we are reminded that God’s presence is bigger than all of us. Sukkot, yet another opportunity to make the ordinary–like an outdoor hut–holy again. Continue reading

Four Ways to Forgive, A Yom Kippur Lesson

Forgiveness. It’s the theme of Yom Kippur, and not an easy concept to swallow—kind of like that pickled herring served at break the fast.

Yom Kippur is a time for atonement between us and God. It is the most solemn (and yet positive) time in the Jewish calendar. During the High Holidays, or the 10 Days of Awe, we not only ask God for forgiveness, but also that of our fellow human beings…and ourselves. We can pretty much count on God forgiving us for our mistakes, wrongdoings, and lashon hara (talking negatively about people behind their back) because the Almighty has unconditional love for us, like a parent would of his child. Making mistakes is an inevitable part of human nature and an opportunity for self growth. Asking (and accepting) forgiveness, whether the hurt was caused intentionally or not, is a physical, tangible way to heal the soul and clean the slate for the coming New Year. And it’s not meant to be easy. For Jews, this is the time when the real homework begins. Continue reading

Three Gifts I Learned at Rosh Hashanah

Aish HaTorah St. Louis welcomes Slovie!

Rosh Hashanah, translated in Hebrew as “head of the year,” is a time to let go. As a new Empty Nester, letting go seems to be the theme of everything these days. We let go of our mistakes from the previous year, let go of shame we may be feeling, let go of sorrow for hurting someone, and, of course, ask for their forgiveness.

The Jewish New Year is also a celebrated time for new beginnings…a new school year, a new relationship with others, a new commitment to better ourselves, and a reawakening of Judaism and the Almighty.

Acclaimed author speaker Slovie Jungreis Wolff

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The Birth Of An Empty Nester

 

I’ve been preparing to become an Empty Nester since I became a mom. I just didn’t realize it at the time. Now that my son Jack is 22, and is subleasing an apartment in town, and my daughter Sari, 18, is getting ready to leave for college out of state in TWO days, I will join the ranks of Empty Nesters and start a new chapter in my life.

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Parenting in a New Political World

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

The Great Big Challah Bake Comes to St. Louis

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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!

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Language of Happiness Speaks To Women, Businesses And Gets Results

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Lori Lander and Tammi Johnson, Founders of Language of Happiness

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.

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Q&A With NYT Bestselling Author Jennifer Weiner, My New BFF

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Jennifer & I at Book Expo America, NY, 2013

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