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Toasting the New Year is Good for the Heart

Last year I made a New Year’s resolution to never make a New Year’s resolution again. Once again, I can’t keep any promises to myself. This year I’ve started another new tradition. In my annual holiday letter that I mail to family and friends, many whom already know everything about my year’s worth of reminiscence, I declare a catchy new slogan to live by for the year ahead. In 2008, for example, my motto was “Celebrate in 2008,” and that certainly came true with Jack’s bar mitzvah, the biggest celebration for my family last year. In 2009, I couldn’t make up my mind: “Wine and Dine in 2009” or “Feelin’ Fine in 2009.” Both are worthwhile objectives, don’t you think? Continue reading

Surviving Holidays Requires Twist on Tradition

I’ve gotten smarter over the years, especially when it comes to preparing for Hanukkah, the seasonal celebration that reminds us of the wondrous miracles that occurred long ago. It’s a miracle all right that I get everything done, from buying presents and baking cookies to planning parties and decorating my home. Hanukkah, the Hebrew word for “dedication,” was never meant to emphasize such extravagant gift giving, but I can’t help myself. Even though the true meaning of Hanukkah is seen in the light of the menorah, which reminds us to never take for granted our religious freedom, I overindulge anyway. Continue reading

Organic Co-Op Promotes Healthy Eating, Environment

Many moms can relate to my predicament. I go to the grocery store at least three times a week and still have nothing to show for dinner except maybe canned tuna and boxed macaroni and cheese. Even if I run into the supermarket for just peanut butter, I end up loading my cart all over again and spend more money than my electric bill.

In these hard economic times, my food budget needs to go on a diet. Not only that, I want my family to eat more nutritiously and appreciate what they put in their mouths. On the heels of Sukkot, in which we harvest from the earth and give thanks for our abundance, I want my kitchen table to “go green” now more than ever. Continue reading

Jewish Food Pantry Feeds Body & Souls

The first thing my kids do when they get home from school or summer camp is head to the kitchen for a snack. Before I have a chance to ask them, “How was your day?”, they tear into a granola bar, devour a bowl of cereal, and polish off the leftover chicken parmesan before they finally come up for air and ask me, “What’s for dinner”?

My kids are lucky. They always have something to eat and drink. It?s easy to take for granted that our refrigerator and pantry are full with healthy food. An important lesson to teach our children is that many kids are not as fortunate. A lot of them are hungry because of various economic hardships that make it difficult for their parents to afford food in their bellies, let alone fuel in their gas tanks.

Continue reading

Shavuot Kicks Off Summer with Taste of Milk and Honey

Now that summer is here and school is out doesn’t mean that the Jewish holidays are on vacation. Think again. One of the most significant events in Jewish history–the giving of the Torah at Sinai–occurs seven weeks after Passover (June 9 and 10 this year) and celebrates the cutting of the harvest of wheat and first fruits in Israel. The joyous holiday known as Shavuot, which means “weeks” in Hebrew, doesn’t get the widespread recognition of Hanukkah or share any distinctive symbols, such as matza and a sukkah, like the other two pilgrimage holidays of Passover and Sukkot. However, without Shavuot, our journey to the Promised Land is incomplete, like the ultimate cliffhanger.
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Homemade Strudel Sweetens Every Simcha

For those of you who watched my camping webisode on www.inthemotherhood.com, I just want to make one thing clear: I DO NOT have a tattoo anywhere on my body, unlike the portrayal of Leah Remini’s character. Actually, I have a freckle on my—never mind. Hollywood will do anything for a laugh.

Okay, back to reality and the bar mitzvah. As the big day approaches, my dining room table disappears underneath a hodgepodge of paper goods, yarmulkes, party favors, platters, snacks, reply cards, place cards, and so many Judaic items that I’m ready to open up my own gift shop. Continue reading

Tu B’Shevat Celebrates Fruitful New Year

Following the jam-packed, festive December holidays, the dreary months of January and February are a let down for some people. I don’t understand those sourpusses. I actually look forward to packing away the dreidels, menorahs, snowman decorations, and lighted garlands that collect dust on my fireplace mantle for a month straight.

Besides, there’s no such thing as down time for Jews. We have something to celebrate all year round. Continue reading

Apple Picking Ripens Awareness to “Leave the Gleanings”

An annual fall outing to the apple orchard is a fun way for families to kick off the New Year. The tart, juicy apples are as crisp as the autumn air, and with each bite I taste the new season. Whenever I go apple picking I feel like a kid again. I also seem to lose my table manners. Where else can I gnaw on a piece of fruit and nonchalantly drop the rotten core at my feet? Likewise, I abandon all sense of safety when I ride the bumpy tractor-pulled wagon and fling a half-eaten apple across the gravel road. Continue reading

Fasting Makes Jews Hungry for More

One of my favorite parts about being Jewish, aside from the rich traditions and ancient wisdom that are passed down to us, is our “it’s-all-about-the-food” attitude. This expression is especially true on holidays, lifecycle events, and pretty much any given meal.

So on the one day of the year when Jews are asked to fast, Yom Kippur, I’m almost relieved to have a chance to cleanse my palette and my soul before I reach for another slice of honey cake again. Continue reading

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This steamy summer has been a time for growth, in more ways than one. While Jack and Sari continue to grow like weeds so does my vegetable garden. Continue reading