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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

Practicing Gratitude on Rosh Hashanah

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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.”

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Rosh Hashanah Soul Searching–Will You Be Ready?

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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.

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Challah Making Club Brings Women Together


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What do you get when you combine 150 pounds of flour, 16 dozen eggs, 128 ounces dry yeast, 25 pounds sugar, 24 ounces canola oil, and 4 pounds of Kosher salt?

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.

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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

Welcome Back To Old School

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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.

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