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Welcome Back To Old School


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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Counting Down to College


Next weekend, my son Jack will move into his college dorm as a freshman, and mark the beginning of a new stage in his life and mine, too. As a parent, this is the day I have tried to prepare him to spread his wings and fly out of the nest. Never mind the fact that mama bird is feeling a bit emotional, like the first day I dropped him off at preschool (multiplied by one thousand).

Of course I’m excited for him. He has worked really hard to get good grades, score decent on his ACT, and write an impressive resume and college essay. He deserves this time to explore his freedom, take on new challenges, and meet new people. My biggest concern is that he sleeps into the afternoon or falls out of his loft bed.

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Passover: “Let My Son Go!”

seder plate

As the eight-day festival of Passover comes to an end, I’m feeling kind of melancholy. Maybe its the matzo. Actually, it’s the last Passover before my son embarks on his Exodus from home to college.

As I reflect over the years of his childhood, I can’t help but wonder if I made the most of building his Jewish identity. Did I do a good job planting seeds of his heritage so that he’ll want to continue to nourish his spiritual self as a young adult, maybe even attend a few functions at the Hillel on campus with his peers? Did I make enough of an impact that he wants to continue the lessons from his ancestors of thousands of years with his own children? After all, that’s what keeps Judaism alive.

To be honest, I would be fooling myself (it’s April Fools Day) if I thought that I indeed succeeded in my job to teach him as best I can about his religion by celebrating every holiday—from Sukkot to Yom Kippur—in its full splendor.

I could have done more.

Sure, we acted out the 10 plagues during the seder, including ping pong balls for hail, red food coloring for blood, sunglasses for blindness, and we asked the four questions in English and Hebrew. But now it seems like everyone at the table wants to rush through the story, and the Haggadah is read halfway through.

I could have done more.

Sure, we lit the candles on Hanukkah, fried potato pancakes, and played dreidel, but it was the overabundance of presents that he probably remembers the most. We also celebrated with a stocking on Christmas morning—gasp!

I could have done more.

One year he helped us build a sukkah in the backyard, hammering the  lattice wall into the wood beams. We hung fruit and waved the lulav, but not every year. Baseball and soccer tournaments got in the way.

I could have done more.

On Shabbat, especially when he was younger, I made dinner, we said the blessings, and ate challah, but most Friday nights we didn’t because we had other plans or I was too tired to cook at the end of the week.

I could have done more.

And even though I would have liked him to experience Jewish summer camp and youth group, it wasn’t his thing, although he enjoyed playing baseball in Maccabi with other Jewish athletes from around the country.

I could have done more.

On the high holidays, he stayed home from school and got dressed in his button down shirt, pants, and uncomfortable loafers, so that we could attend services together as a family. Then high school came around, and it got harder to miss important assignments and tests.

I could have done more.

I missed the times we used to go to a neighborhood lake and throw breadcrumbs in the water on Rosh Hashanah to practice the ritual of tashlich. We set goals for the New Year, but didn’t get to cross them all off our list.

I could have done more.

He went to Jewish preschool, met Jewish friends, attended Sunday school, learned Hebrew, mastered his Torah portion, became a bar mitzvah, and even got confirmed. He loved chanting the Hebrew prayers and was so proud of himself. But like any language, if you don’t use it, eventually you lose it.

I could have done more.

At least he wants to go to Israel one day and experience what his homeland is all about. Maybe he will connect with his culture and make new Jewish friends. Maybe he will learn to like falafel. Maybe not.

Even though I could have done more, I couldn’t be more proud of my son and the young man he is today. As he wraps up his senior year, he is so ready to leave home and tackle his new life in college.

Of course, I could have done more when it comes to his Jewish upbringing. But maybe I did enough.

He knows he always has a place to call home. He knows his family loves him.

And I promised him that next year if he comes home for Spring break, I will make him his favorite dishes. Charoset and chocolate matzo. Talk about Jewish guilt…

choco matzo



“Me In A Tree” Brings Families Together Through Technology


Me-in-a-Tree homepage

The secret to a happy family is strong communication, and if you wait until  your kids are teenagers to make that connection, then, I’m sorry to say you have your work cut out for you. Maybe you’ll have better luck with your grandchildren. Kidding! Actually, luck has nothing to do with making lifelong bonds with your children. It takes a lot of work to create a happy family, just like a marriage, and the sooner you start the better.

One of the newest ways to build a strong family foundation is through technology.  (Even toddlers are potty-trained while using their IPads these days). The fact is, we spend so much time on  our computers, we might as well make it worthwhile, quality time together.

That’s the idea behind  “Me In A Tree,” an interactive, family friendly, online program designed to help busy families connect. The tree, for me, is symbolic because a tree has roots like a family. In the Jewish teachings, parents are responsible for planting the seed and growing the tree for the next generation.

So this computer program is easy to use and features lots of colorful, animated characters, apps, tools, and plenty of resources to make parenting easier, even though it’s the hardest job in the world. Families are encouraged to have regular “family huddles” or meeting times, even 30 minutes a week can make a difference.


me in a tree characters


A family that plays together, stays together, and “Me In A Tree” includes a variety of ways to get started, such as organize a calendar, plan fun activities, find places to volunteer in your community, create a motto, assign individual chores, keep a grateful journal, and even write your own blog. All of these strategies encourage important character traits, such as communication, organization, support, responsibility, gratitude, and family union.

So check out the website and take a family assessment to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are, and start climbing the tree together! A video tutorial is provided, so it’s a no brainer. In fact, your kids will navigate their way through the maze much quicker than you!



And as your family grows, you can change your goals and ideas.  Stay up to date on the latest developments and meet other fans on Twitter and Facebook.

Subscribe today for a 2 week free trial, and let me know how your family likes Me In A Tree!

My Journey To Israel

israel sky.com

How do we change in the world?

The question itself makes my head spin. I mean, it’s overwhelming, seemingly impossible to change the world. Right? I can hardly make my kids change their own bedsheets.

And yet I know we have to create change. The greatest threat to the Jewish people is not racism or discrimination or wars against Israel. Our biggest enemy is apathy and ignorance.

Something has to change. In the words of Rabbi Hillel:

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?

And if I am only for myself, then what am I?

And if not now, when?”

So, how do I change the world?

One community at a time.

How do I change the community?

One home at a time.

How do I change the home?

One mom at a time.

Sounds like a simple enough answer to a complicated question, changing the world. And yet this is precisely the game plan of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP), which was established in 2008 with the purpose to empower Jewish women to change the world.

How do they do this?

Through their flagship program, T.A.G. (Transform and Grow) Missions to Israel, JWRP offers thousands of women from around the world a special gift: a highly subsidized nine-day action-packed trip to Israel. To date JWRP has brought close to 2,000 women from 40 cities and seven different countries to their homeland.  In 2012, they brought 1,000 more from around the world. This year, they will change the lives of many more women. And, I’m thrilled to say, I’m one of them.

This summer, I’ll embark on a journey with about a dozen St. Louis moms who share the same vision, and that is to experience self-growth and personal development so that we can reach our potential as Jewish women, wives and mothers. As we walk the crowded streets of Jerusalem, pray at the Western Wall, hike the Masada, float in the Dead Sea, eat the best falafel, bargain for souvenirs in Tel Aviv, learn how to make challah, ride a camel, and watch the sun melt into the Mediterranean, we will transform ourselves and reawaken our passion and commitment that has been the legacy of the Jewish people for the last 4,000 years. The goal is that when we return home, our “other” home, we’ll share our stories and enthusiasm to inspire our communities, our families, and our children to love being Jewish, too.

This is how we change the world. One mom at a time.

I plan to document my experiences here in my blog as I prepare myself emotionally and physically for this adventure, and that includes investing in a good pair of walking shoes and figuring out how to endure the longest plane ride in my life—at least 13 hours—without going bonkers.

Please feel free to share any advice you have on making the most of my first trip to Israel.

For now, I better practice my Hebrew. Shalom!




Survival Tips for WAHMs (Work-at-Home Moms)

stl moms

Even though St. Louis got slammed with snow and ice the other day, I was determined to make my TV appearance on the STLMoms show on KTVI Fox2 News. The show must go on, right? Every time I go to a TV studio, I’m amazed at the fast-paced routine that goes on behind-the-scenes, including the robotic cameras that roll across the floor, the producers who scramble at the last minute to set up props, the anchors who review their notes seconds before they go on air. As for me, I never know which camera to look into, and my mouth is so dry I can barely swallow, but it’s always a fun experience.

This time the lovely Margie Ellisor interviewed me to promote my seminar at the Working Women’s Survival Show, and the topic was “Survival Tips for WAHMs.” (Not sure why this clip has video of the newsroom and men working on their computers, but oh well, that’s show biz).

 Watch my segment HERE!

Basically, I was trying to squeeze in this much info in a 3-minute segment.

As you know, moms are still trying to have it all. We want to be home with the kids and not miss out on their childhood moments, and we want our careers or we need to be a dual income family.

The reality is we can’t have it all—all the time. For many moms, the best way to balance work and family is to work from home. We are called “WAHMs” (not to be confused with the George Michael music group in the 80s). WAHM stands for Work-At-Home-Moms, and for us, it’s “business un-usual.”

In fact, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research, there are 10.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, and a growing number of them are run by SAHMs (stay-at-home moms).

Unlike many baby boomer moms who worked outside the home, millennial moms want more time at home with their children. It’s not like we’re trading our laptop for an ironing board, but we’re finding creative ways to balance work and family.


There are many exciting opportunities out there, take a quick look on the Internet.

  • Virtual Assistants—complete administrative tasks from their home office, including data entry, typing reports, and scheduling appointments.


  • Medical and general transcribers—listen to audio files recorded by medical professionals, law enforcement officials and professors. They use transcription equipment and software to produce a written report of the recordings.


  • Virtual customer service agent– assist customers with technical issues, order processing, billing questions and scheduling service appointments.


  • Freelance writer—write and create articles that are featured on blogs and websites and by online publishers. Experienced editors also needed to review articles and proofread.


  • Telemarketers–call prospective customers and sell services or products. They are provided a script and a list of customers to contact.


  • eBay buyer/seller—good for entrepreneurs at heart.


  • Online Tutor—meet with students in an online classroom and work with them one-on-one to answer their questions in your subject area. No lesson plans, records to keep or tests to grade.


As a freelance writer, author and mom of 2 teenagers, I feel like I have the best of both worlds. If you work from home, keep in mind:

  • be self motivated (don’t let facebook, Twitter, pinterest and social media distract you, unless, of course, its work related).
  • be a multi-tasker (and by that I mean know how to change a diaper and conduct a conference call at the same time, or trim fat off raw chicken while you negotiate a contract)
  • be willing to work odd hours (my creative juices stir at 3 a.m.)
  • and have a sense of humor because your workday is unpredictable or what I like to say, “business un-usual”. (For instance, when my son was a toddler I remember locking myself in the bathroom to conduct a really important interview for a national magazine, and I improved the toilet seat lid as my desk. In hindsight, I should have locked him in the bathroom, right).

Here’s a few more survival tips:

  • Have a schedule. Depending on your job, it helps to have a routine, whether that means answer emails before kids get up for school, stop workday at 3:30 p.m. to pick up kids or start dinner. Best part is flexibility, which comes in handy if kids are sick or have an appointment.
  • Get dressed. Some moms like to wear clothes like they are going into the office, it helps put them in a professional mindset. For me, everyday is casual day, unless I have a meeting outside the home. I would much rather wear pajamas and fuzzy slippers than panty hose and pumps.
  • Designate a comfortable and convenient workspace in your house, whether it’s the spare bedroom, walk-in closet, or corner of the basement. Seriously, does anyone ever use the living room except to set up a Little Tykes playset when the kids are toddlers? This empty area makes a great office!
  • Keep all your essential office supplies handy in your desk drawer, including sticky note
pads, paper clips, chewing gum, and an emery board so you can file your nails if you have writer’s block or want to procrastinate.
  • Don’t let your kids mess with your computer. Their games and videos can give you a virus that’s worse than influenza.
  • Try to exercise during your workday. Burn calories by sprinting to the mailbox to see if you got any paychecks yet, and repeatedly run up and down the staircase for another scoop of chocolate peanut butter gelato.
  • Get fresh air to break up your day. If the weather is nice, walk your dog, who has been a warm, fuzzy ottoman at your feet. If you don’t
have a dog, offer to walk your neighbor’s dog and you’ll never feel guilty about borrowing a box of MINUTE Rice again.
  • Don’t sit too long in a desk chair, unless you’re doing regular kegel exercises and leg lifts with weights
strapped to your ankles.
  • Keep up with the housework. Every time you pass something that looks dusty, wipe the furniture with
the sleeve of your sweatshirt.
  • When the phone rings, don’t answer it, unless it’s a business call, your mother, or the school nurse. If you’re in deep
thought or on a roll, the last thing you need are interruptions from solicitors or your husband wanting to know what’s for dinner tonight.
  • Take advantage of your children’s computer skills. Bribe them to set up your powerpoints.
  • Finally, eat chocolate. It boosts your energy, immune system, and it tastes good.


Hanukkah Menorah Symbolizes Prayer Vigil

On the seventh night of Hanukkah, we lit the candles on the menorah to commemorate the miracle of our ancestors, but it was also a prayer vigil for the lives lost in yesterday’s Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown. People of all faiths from all over the world light candles as our hearts ache collectively for the families of the 20 innocent first graders and six adults, who were shot point-blank by a 20-year-old madman dressed in combat gear and armed with semiautomatic weapons. As details of the latest school shooting unfold, parents everywhere try to deal with their own feelings of fear, despair, and confusion as we struggle to find the best way to explain (or not explain) to our own kids what is happening in our world that seems to be falling apart. I felt this same way when I wrote about Virginia Tech and the Israeli war. Things haven’t changed.

With the holiday season upon us, and presents are left for children who are gone forever, it’s impossible to wrap our heads around another senseless tragedy—the second deadliest school shooting behind Virginia Tech in U.S. history. We’re vulnerable everywhere we go—school, mall, movie theatre, workplace, airplane, a political rally.

A nation in shock, we ‘re quick to blame someone, something besides good versus evil. Political discussions abrupt again about how to improve school safety, gun control laws, mental health care, dysfunctional families, violent video games, social media, and on and on.

And yet one thing has always remained the same. God. Whatever your religious or atheistic beliefs, many of us fall to our knees and surrender to something bigger—call it God, Divinity, Buddah, Muhammad, Spirit—otherwise we can’t cope alone. God did not let this happen. People did. And we need each other to heal. We are the problem, and we are the solution.

So many of us turn to our faith when we’re obligated to (the high holidays, Christmas, a wedding, a funeral) or when we hit rock bottom. But the lesson here is to keep God in our hearts, always. And by this I mean not just prayer, but action. For example, notice how communities come together in times of crisis. When disaster strikes, whether it be Hurricane Sandy, 9-11 terrorist attack, or a siege on a quite New England town in Connecticut, we hug each other, we feed each other, we listen, we clean up, we mourn, we give money, we give ourselves.

In the words of Mr. Rogers:  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

And in the words of Rabbi Shaul Praver, of Temple Adath Israel in Newtown, who attended to the family of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, “Death doesn’t really exist — it’s just a transformation because we all come from God and everything in the world is from God.”

He continues, “At the same time we’re in a very dark place, we’re in a very sacred place. Everybody, for the last two days, are brothers and sisters. You can hug strangers in the street.

And, finally, in the words of Kohelet in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to plug up that which is planted;
 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
 A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”







Hanukkah Gift Guide–It’s A Miracle!

The gift giving season is upon us, and with Hanukkah less than a week away, the pressure to buy presents, bake cookies, fry latkes, plan parties, and decorate the house with twinkling blue lights and dreidels started before I polished off the last slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

Of course, the real miracle of Hanukkah is about the rededication of the temple in ancient Jerusalem following the Maccabean victory over the Syrian army. But the other miracle is to not give into the overindulgence of the holiday season, including spend too much money on material things.

I’m always looking for ways to make the holidays less stressful and more meaningful, and this year I want to try a new tradition that I actually learned from other families who celebrate Christmas.

It’s called “Simple Gift Giving.” I know, sounds like an oxymoron, especially when I’m used to giving a present for each night we light the menorah.

The idea is to have our children narrow down their wish lists to include items from four categories:

  • WANT
  • NEED
  • WEAR
  • READ

Obviously, it’s best to start this routine when our kids are in preschool and still get excited about footsie pajamas and a wooden puzzle. It gets a little trickier when they’re already teenagers and their idea of a toy includes WiFi and practical underwear comes from Victoria Secret instead of a Hanes six-pack.

Each year, families can customize the list to meet their needs, and I’ve already added four more categories to round out the eight days of Hanukkah:

  • EAT
  • PLAY
  • GIVE

For example, CREATE our own menorah; EAT sufganiyot  (jelly donuts); PLAY a favorite game or poker dreidel; and finally, GIVE back to the community, such as collecting canned goods for the food pantry, serving a meal at Ronald McDonald House, or hosting game night at HavenHouse.

How do you keep Hanukkah fun and festive without overindulging your kids?



My Favorite Funny Mom Books

An abbreviated version of this blog is posted on www.SkinnyScoop.com. 

I usually avoid anything that has the word “skinny” in it, but when I had an opportunity with SkinnyScoop.com to list my favorite funny parenting books by Jewish moms, I couldn’t resist.

These books all have to do with the oys and joys of raising children. They are collections of real-life, humorous essays that are quick to read and the perfect companion in carpool line. It doesn’t matter what religion you are because we all want the same thing, and that is for our children to grow up and be happy, independent adults who contribute to the betterment of society and don’t necessarily wind up in therapy and blame their mothers for all their problems.

Let’s put it this way: When it comes to divulging our innermost feelings about motherhood, we’re all open books.

Mishegas of Motherhood. Raising Children To Leave The Nest…As Long As They Come Home For Dinner

Ellie S. Grossman

And since this is my list, it woud be remiss NOT to start with my very own book called Mishegas of Motherhood. Raising Children to Leave the Nest…as Long as They Come Home for Dinner, which combines domestic satire with Jewish wisdom that applies to all modern families. I’ve been called the “Jewish Erma Bombeck,” which is like the ultimate compliment because this late, great humor writer could make anything sound funny, even leftover meatloaf. My momoir is nominated for the Shirley You Jest best humor book award, so I’m not the only one who thinks its’ funny.

The word “mishegas,” by the way, is a Yiddish expression that means “insanity” or “madness,” but is used in a playful way to describe how children drive their parents crazy (and vice versa, of course). Favorite chapters include “Answering The Big Question: Is There A God?”, “Everything I Need To Know I Learned From My Dog,” “Chocolate Makes Everyday Sweeter,” “Planning A Dream Bar Mitzvah Is A Nightmare,” “Teen Brain Baffles Parents,” and the award-winning “Jewish Girls Don’t Camp,” which inspired a webisode on the Internet-based sitcom “In The Motherhood,” starring Leah Remini.

The book also contains east-to-understand explanations of Jewish holidays, rituals, traditions, as well as recipes and anecdotes that are guaranteed to tickle your soul—or your money back!



Brain Dead in the Burbs and Cooking Your Way Back to Sanity

Laura Roodman-Edwards-Ray

When it comes to mishegas, this book is full of it. Brain Dead in the Burbs and Cooking Your Way Back to Sanity will make your crazy life seem sane. Warning: You’ll laugh; You’ll cook. You’ll cry. Laura Roodman-Edwards-Roodman-Edwards-Ray (not a typo, she married and divorced the same jerk not once but twice and is now happily married to love of her life) gives you the dish on not only her dysfunctional relationships but also her insanely delicious recipes that correspond with each chapter. By the time you get to Chapter 6 (“How To Divorce A Friend” with recipe on Grandma Betty’s Health Bar Cake), you’ll be her BFF, not to mention 10 pounds heavier. This irresistible memoir is both hilarious and fattening with mouthwatering recipes that include Helga’s Orgasmic Brownies, Grandma Joanie’s Beefy Meatballs, Aunt Gail’s Famous Brisket, Kimmie’s Creamy Cheese Ball, Sven’s Crabcakes, and that’s just an appetizer. Just like her chocolate martinis, this book is irresistible, and I can’t wait to take a bite out of Laura’s next installment “Still Brain Dead and Cooking.”




Confessions of a Scary Mommy

Jill Smokler

It seems like these days so many stay-at-home moms have nothing better to do with their time than chronicle their parenting sagas online, but “Scary Mommy” blogger Jill Smokler took her ramblings one giant leap further. She published her first compilation of hysterical child-rearing moments in Confessions of A Scary Mommy, which hit the The New York Times bestseller’s list its first week out. She also manages an award-winning website that averages more than two million page views a month and features The Scary Mommy Confessional , which offers a private and totally anonymous forum for moms and dads to spill their juicy secrets, their fears, their triumphs. It’s like therapy, only free.

Her website also offers plenty of Scary Mommy merchandise, including everything from coffee mugs and key chains to iphone cases and bumper stickers. Talk about branding. This nice Jewish girl even sells Christmas tree ornaments.

So what if this Baltimore mom is no balaboosta (a Yiddish term that means the perfect housewife, homemaker, wonderful mother, cook, and gracious hostess, etc). That’s exactly what makes Smokler so successful and her book a must read, even if she uses the F-bomb way too often.

Plus, in her spare time, this curly haired entrepreneur started Scary Mommy Nation, a non-profit entity that helps members of the Scary Mommy Community who are financially struggling, whether its kicking in money for a Thanksgiving feast, birthday presents for their kids, or summer camp.

Who has time to make a homemade meal every night when she’s too busy working on her next project, The Scary Mommy Handbook, which is due out in April 2013.

Besides, I doubt if her kids mind eating pizza for dinner.



Rebel Without A Minivan

Tracy Beckerman

Since when does a dog eating garbage out of the trash can and throwing up on the rug inspire the creative process? Since clever wit Tracy Beckerman wrote Rebel Without a Minivan, a collection of musings from a New York City girl who trades her subway pass for a more practical vehicle and everything else that goes along with a crazy normal life in the woodchuck-infested yards of suburban New Jersey. A former successful TV producer and stand-up comic, Beckerman shares the best of her nationally syndicated humor column, LOST IN SUBURBIA®, which includes funny observations about marriage, motherhood, the mall, McDonalds French fries, mildew, and, of course, a mutt named Riley.

The chapters are short and spikey, just like Beckerman’s signature hairdo (she’s a rebel alright), and in “Who Are These Children, and Why Are They Calling Me Mommy?” she writes about topics that all moms can relate to, including sleep deprivation, bad attitudes, her daughter’s favorite “blankie,” the S-E-X talk, geometry homework, and reality shows.

Her next book is due out Spring 2013. Can’t wait!


Hot Mamalah  

Lisa Alcalay Klug

Let me start by saying that Lisa Alcalay Klug is not a mom, but this author combines funny and Jewish better than any woman in the tribe, so I included her in my list. Besides, her book is called Hot Mamalah, which is a Yiddish word of endearment for all Jewish women, and God only knows us moms can use a little spice in our love lives. This book celebrates our strengths, challenges, and triumphs, from PMS to menopausal.

In her “ABC’s of She,” she dishes up a delicious smorgasbord of everything whole-y and holy feminine for having fun and having chutzpah, with humor essays, adorable illustrations, how-to’s, and more. From cocktails to cupcakes, Purim costumes to bar aliases, Hot Mamalah whets an appetite for getting the most out of life, love, and your closet.

As the follow up to her first pop culture phenomenon Cool Jew, which was a number one Amazon bestseller and National Jewish Book Award finalist, Hot Mamalah gives fans what they’ve come to expect from this award-winning journalist, popular public speaker, and daughter of an Ashkenazi Holocaust survivor.

It’s hard to resist this latest mensch of a book with a cover that states, “You don’t have to be Jewish! But it wouldn’t hurt.”

My favorite quote about the Jewish mother: As long as you keep laughing, you wont get an ulcer. Just a hernia.

Enter the Hot Mamalog giveaway, featuring jewelry, CD, cookware, and a gift certificate.



Best Friends, Occasional Enemies

Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

So here’s another read that doesn’t exactly fit into my Jewish mom book category, but New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline (pronounced Scot-oh-lee-nee) is one of my favorite writers and she grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. And she has dogs. That should count for something. Growing up, she says her friends would get Hanukkah “gelt”, and she thought it was Hanukkah “guilt”, so I liked her already. Not only that, she and her only daughter Francesca Serritella collaborated on a fabulously funny and heartwarming book, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies, which is a must-read for every mother and daughter.

Joined at the hip, the twosome share genes and jeans, if you know what I mean.  They’re number one on each other’s speed dial and they tell each other everything—well, almost everything. They share shoes and clothes—except one very special green jacket, which almost caused a cat fight. Inspired by their weekly column, “Chick Wit” for The Philadelphia Inquirer, this book is one you’ll have to put down—just to stop laughing.

Best known for her legal thrillers, Scottoline is sometimes called the female John Grisham because she is one of those successful big-time litigators turned best-selling novelists. She has 18 fiction and two non-fiction titles in her portfolio, averaging a book a year!

In the Introduction of Best Friends, Occasional Enemies Scottoline, a divorced mom, starts out, “Here’s what I’ve learned in my life:  Motherhood has no expiration date.
This means that even though Daughter Francesca has grown up and moved out of the house, I’m still busy being her mother. 
And, happily, her best friend…”

She writes about her own Mother Mary, who is 86-years-old old, and is still busy being her mother with an inner voice that warns her not to buy dented cans, not to leave her blow dryer near the sink, and not to put too much spaghetti on her fork or she’ll choke.

This book includes their hilarious and often quite touching takes on the joys and occasional frustrations of the mother-daughter bond, including sharing secrets, counting carbs, and aging gracefully, not.

Best of all, you’ll recognize yourself in their stories because we all struggle with the same things, like duvet covers, the preemptive pee, and toenail clippings.

Follow her video documentary on her puppies!

Got any favorite mom books to add to the list?



College Prep Triggers Emotions For Mom

On January 10, 2007, I wrote a newspaper column that described how I freaked out when it was a year away from my son Jack’s bar mitzvah. A series of articles followed that described all the emotions that I experienced during this sacred rite of passage into adulthood.

  • Will he learn his Torah portion?
  • Will he feel closer to God?
  • How do we fit Hebrew school into an already crazy hectic schedule?
  • Who will be invited to his party?
  • Should I splurge on lox at the kiddish luncheon even though he doesn’t eat anything but plain bagels?
  • Will I find outfits for the entire family that coordinate with his necktie?
  • Will I be able to get through my speech in front of a congregation without weeping uncontrollably because my heart is bursting with pride?
  • Will I ever be able to walk again because my new high heels are too tight and my feet are killing me?
  • Will he finish his thank you notes by the time he gets his driver’s license?

That was five years ago, and now I feel that same panic again. Only this time I’m emotional because my first child is applying for colleges and he will be leaving home in, gulp, about seven months.

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