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A Glimpse Into Another World (A Guest Post)

globeIt’s almost January 1, 2014 2015. On to a new year.

First, I announce the winner of my giveaway from the commenters on my blog post on the Hanukkah Hoopla. The winner is: Lisa W from Cycling Grandma! I will send her a copy of my book, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! (Israel Bookshop Publications, 2012). 

Here’s Lisa’s blog, if you have a chance to get a look! . (Thanks again, Renee Schuls-Jacobson, for planning the Hanukkah Hoopla!)

Next, I’d like to introduce Revital Belz from Israel, who blogs about being a Mom of five boys (sound familiar?). Revital has been published in the Jewish Journal, and blogs at  Ajudaica.com, where she enjoys creating stylish items for men, including personalized yarumulkas and T-shirts.

Enjoy Revital’s special simchas hachayim (Hebrew for joie de vivre) that comes through in her writing. Please feel free to comment below. Revital and I would love to read your thoughts!

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A GLIMPSE INTO ANOTHER WORLD by Revital Belz

I introduce myself as Revital, a mother who is  blessed with a large family.  revital

There is so much talk about these “wonder ladies” that I want to open a window and give you a peek.  It is a chance to share with you the joys and enormous satisfaction I derive from raising my large family.

I come from a traditional home but became strictly Orthodox in my teenage years.  I married at the age of 22 and today have five children ranging from two to ten with a set of twins in the middle.  In spite of my heavy home commitments, I work in our family Judaica business.  I know that I am a walking advertisement for motherhood so I make sure that I am always put together and  I don’t leave the house without makeup.

“When people ask me what I am doing with my life, I tell them that I am a Judaica artist.  I was granted five packages of raw material – human substance – and given the task of forming them into learned G-d fearing Jews who will make a contribution to their family and the community – beloved in the eyes of man and Heaven, individuals!  Sotheby’s recently sold a small statue for $100,000,000  (one hundred million dollars – in case the zero’s confuse!).  How much would they give for my artistic creation?”

“I don’t understand it when people asked me if I feel burnt-out or deprived.  Do they ask a doctor who sweats for five years to get his degree and another few years as an intern if he is neglecting his personal development”

“Motherhood is the greatest challenge to my personal development.  I was a spoiled indulged child when I got married.  I could just about boil an egg.  Over the years, I have learnt to be giving and compassionate, patient and diplomatic.  I never knew I had these qualities or that they were so important to life.  My husband and children have enriched my life.  Yes, sometimes I would like to read a book, attend a concert, or drink coffee with friends. I do not deny myself these personal pleasures.  I simply say to myself – not now.”

“I often think of my grandmother’s life advice – nothing worthwhile is achieved without hard work.  Sure, raising a large family demands energy and is sometimes draining.  I make mistakes.  I have learnt to pick myself up and continue.  Everything always works out in the end.”

“Before each birth, I wonder how I will divide my love to include an additional child and every time I discover anew that with each child, love multiplies not divides.  Children growing up in a large family have a unique opportunity to share and give and be considerate.  Of course, my kids fight and argue and have tantrums – like kids everywhere.  But, growing up in a large family is giving them the best tools for life.”

“The secret is to make your children your first priority.  I try to constantly be aware of their needs.   This demands thought more than time.

When my oldest had a major test, he found a candy in his school bag with a note wishing him success.

When Dudi was having a rough time in school, he got lots of extra ‘I love you’ hugs. My little one needs to feel good about himself.  I cooked him favorite lunch and told him that he is the greatest kid.   From time to time, we have a ‘king for a day’ project.  On that day, the lucky child will put a crown on his head in the morning and know that it is his day – the day that he is spoiled by everyone.”

“The climax of the week is the beautiful Shabbat when we sit around the table, talking and singing together.  No matter how exhausted my husband and I are, Shabbat is children’s time.  We tell stories, play games and check up on what they have studied during the week.  We relish the Chagim (Jewish festivals).  Each one has its special flavor that is almost tailor-made for children and gives wonderful family experiences.”

“Sometimes, I wonder if I am doing a good job.  My best endorsement came last week from my seven years old (the inspiration for this article).

He has just learned to read and proudly uses his Siddur (prayer book) every day.  With great self-confidence he confided in me, “Imma” he said, “I am praying to G-d that you should bring us another baby.  I would like triplets!”

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Thank you for reading Revital’s post. Please comment below! And check out Revital’s Judaica blog.


For Jewish Mothers-in-law Only?? (not!)

I have always admired Erma Bombeck.  I enjoyed her self-deprecating humorous writing about motherhood in suburbia at a time when most mothers were not admitting to the problems of raising kids. Raising kids was supposed to be noble and exciting and a pleasure for moms. The idea that someone would poke fun at being a mom and even complain, was novel.

I read almost all Bombeck’s books when I was a teenager.

No, that is not me- but it is Erma Bombeck, whose writing I admire...

No, that is not me- but it is Erma Bombeck, whose writing I admire…

Now that I have written a book using a similar style to Erma Bombeck (so I’ve been told), albeit with a Jewish twist (since I’m Jewish!), I have some splainin’ to do about my book.

You see,  since my book, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! has been out on the market for 9 months, I can assess how well it has been doing (great!), regroup slightly (why not?), and dispel just a few misconceptions that may be floating out around there.

Let’s discuss one particular myth that surrounds the book, such as:  Is The Joys and Oys of Being a Mother, Mother-in-law, and Grandmother book only for Jewish mothers, mothers-in-law and grandmothers? Continue reading


Grab a Sale – “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!”

Just a short post to inform all my blog readers that in case you have not purchased my Grandmother book yet for that Grandmother, mother-in-law or friend in your life, here’s your chance to get it really really low-priced. This is a wonderful gift, I am told for Mother’s Day which is coming up soon.

Ready? On Amazon.com (link in the sidebar to the right) you can get  “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!” – The Joys and Oys of Being a Mother, Mother-in-law….or Grandmother  for about ELEVEN bucks (and change)! Yes, that’s correct. The book retails for 19.95 and recently has been reduced to eliminate the remaining books that have not sold yet. We have almost sold out the first printing, so here’s your opportunity.

Continue reading


And the Winner is……for “Pay It Forward”

Several weeks ago, I announced a “contest”- as a “pay it forward” from the generosity that I had received from one of my favorite bloggers, Bottledworder, in which she posted something I wrote about her blog on January 5, 2013. I was particularly honored because I value Bottledworder’s writing, and so when she took my comments seriously and posted them for all her followers to see, I felt validated as a writer. Continue reading


Paying it Forward

I’ve been feeling very fortunate lately for a variety of reasons. Maybe the word is blessed. Not that everything in my life is rosy. There is definitely room for lots of improvement.  What I’m referring to is a certain sense of calm and peace of mind and acceptance that I don’t think I had when I was younger. Continue reading


The Aftershocks of Criticism

It happened yesterday. I thought I could push it off for at least another few months. But alas, the inevitable occurred. Deep down I knew it was bound to happen, but I was in denial and I was enjoying the honeymoon. And when it — the inevitable –happened, it hit me between the eyes. I felt the sting for about a minute. Then the pain , having reached its peak, began to subside. After several minutes of deep breathing, I was fine. Yes, I survived and yes, I am here to tell the story. Continue reading


SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT—–BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Announcing a FREE GIVEAWAY of “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!”

If you live in the U.S., you simply have to ENTER to win.

WHEN: Between November 1, 2012 and November 7, 2012.

Go to www.goodreads.com/giveaway

Navigate to the title of the book (on the upper right hand corner of that page).

Click on the title, and then the page will come up to ENTER TO WIN.

If your name is chosen – after November 7, you will receive a book mailed to your house.

It’s as easy as that.

You may enter 1 time only from your account.

Good luck!!


Klempner’s blog today: (Oy – I’m sooo farKlempt!)**

Nachas from friends

by beccakinla

**  In my original version of this post, I had attributed Rebecca, the wonderful reviewer to being Farklempt, which is German  for being choked up, touched, emotional and basically all flattered. Well actually, I am the one who is farklempt (choked up, touched, emotional and flattered). Why?  because Becca wrote this beautiful review for Judy and me.  I’m so touched. See below why I am  FARKLEMPT, or VERKLEMPT (a la Mike Myers from SNL)

So without further ado….

HERE ARE 2 REVIEWS MY GOOD FRIEND, REBECCA KLEMPNER  WROTE ABOUT JUDY GRUEN’S AND MY NEW BOOKS: READ ON:

A couple months ago, I published about being farginen–taking pleasure in other people’s success. So today, I’m going to share reviews of two of my friends’ new books:

I’ve known Judy Gruen for at least a decade, and she’s as funny in print as she is in person, which is saying a lot. Her articles on Aish.com and in magazines are not only funny, but touch the experiences of women everywhere, which is one of the reasons her writing is so effective. Readers can’t help but identify with Judy.

Judy’s <Till We Eat Again> is a rollicking trip through Judy’s attempt to shed 15 lbs prior to a reunion. We follow her struggle with conflicting and often wacky weigh-loss advice, the apathy of her spouse, and her children’s hatred of health food. Her self-deprecating humor allows us to laugh at our own propensity to cheat when confronted with chocolate or be jealous of the effortlessly and relentlessly thin among our friends. Fortunately, Judy survives her fight slightly thinner, but with her humor completely intact.

Note: this book is not even remotely an attempt to give accurate weight-loss advice. It’s more like a stand-up act. Fellow warriors in the battle of the bulge will, however, appreciate the humor and may even loose a couple ounces laughing (I almost fell off my bed at one part). Also, some very conservative (little “c”) readers might not approve of a few very slightly racy situations. Until We Eat Again can be found on Amazon.com.

I’ve admired Miriam Hendeles’s work ever since she started out in the late magazine, Jewish Life Los Angeles. After she moved on to Binah Magazine, she became a friend, too, so it’s with great excitement that I’m reviewing her first book, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!

Mrs. Hendeles is a native of New York, but has been an active member of our L.A. community since her marriage. A former Bais Yaakov teacher, she currently works as a music therapist. Even more importantly, she and her husband have—bli ayin hara—raised a family of several boys…boys who are steadily growing up, marrying, and starting their own families, providing plentiful material for her magazine columns. Mrs. Hendeles’s new book is a compilation of those columns, along with additional material touching on the life of the contemporary Blackberry-wielding, Skype-viewing, master’s-degree-holding mother-in-law and grandmother.

Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!  is an upbeat book about a topic that is fraught with anxiety: the transformation from daughter-in-law and mother to mother-in-law and grandmother. Mrs. Hendeles’s self-deprecating humor and positive outlook set this book apart. She invites us along in her attempts to be a “Model In-Law” and “Model Grandparent.” Her efforts are usually successful, but occasionally flounder. She takes the missteps in stride, poking fun at her foibles, but also seizing the opportunity for introspection and improvement.

That’s not to say that Mazel Tov! It’s a Baby shies away from tumultuous emotions. We waver right along with her when she knows her “new couple” needs space but her hand keeps reaching for the phone. We see her mixed feelings about giving her adult children independence when her opinion just wants to leap out of her mouth. And we witness her nostalgia for her children’s youth as well as her hopes for their future. This is a book that touches the heartstrings as well as tickles the funny bone.

There is another common thread among the essays in Mazel tov! It’s a Bubby! In Judaism, particularly in the mussar tradition, we see the events and the challenges of life as opportunities for personal growth and character development. When the author writes, “Often, individuals refuse to think out of the box, since that may imply a perceived weakness…When we sense that we are spinning our wheels and getting stuck in the same patterns of thinking, perhaps we should ask ourselves, ‘Is it time for a change?’” she’s planting her book squarely in the mussar tradition. Mrs. Hendeles is urging her fellow in-laws and grandparents on to further self-improvement at a stage in life when some give up.

The opening chapters of Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! depict the typical milestones that follow the marriage of one’s first child. We smile as the entire Hendeles family debates the various merits (and demerits) of “Grandma,” “Oma,” and “Bubby” before the first grandchild is even born. Our heart flutters when the author reflects, “…something inside me longed for the good ol’ days of PTA meetings, play dates, Mommy-n-Me’s, and strolls to the playground.” And we giggle when the author suggests her teenage son lie down next to her grandchild to help the latter tolerate “tummy time” or when a well-planned, first-time sleep-over goes amok.

As the volume progresses, the stories branch out a bit, with increasing hilarity and insightfulness. The author struggles with keeping family traditions of letter-writing and multi-lingual proverb-spouting at the same time as embracing emails and text messages. She juggles the needs of her teenage son living at home with the young grandchild visiting there. I laughed along with Mrs. Hendeles’s list of preferred traits in mechutanim and her “Diary of a Shadchan Wannabe.” Mrs. Hendeles discovers that middle age—with its less rigorous daily demands—offers opportunities to branch out into new hobbies and professions.

Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! would make an excellent gift for the new—or not so new!—mother-in-law or grandmother in your life. However, it isn’t limited to that audience. As a woman whose oldest child is still in elementary school, I found plenty to enjoy in this book.

Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! is due in Jewish bookstores and at http://www.israelbookshoppublications.com on September 5th. (A version of this review appeared previously in CitySpirit Magazine.)


On Knitting Needles and Reading Glasses

 

Please check out the Israel Bookshop Publication’s  blog today – September 24, 2012!

New post on israelbookshop.wordpress.com

MAZEL TOV! IT’S A BUBBY! – New!

by anamericanjew

So…you’ve just become a bubby, eh? What’s that you’re saying—that I should speak louder? Oh, you’re asking for your reading glasses. Sure, no problem, just tell me where they are… Where? Oh, I should have guessed—right next to the knitting needles…

(Pause to allow eye-rolling and ha-ha-very-funny glares…)

All kidding aside, it’s a big milestone that you’ve reached…and definitely cause for some pampering of yourself, to celebrate your new status! So why not pick up our latest book, a first of its kind—Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!—which focuses precisely on your new stage of life, that of becoming a young mother-in-law and bubby!

….. the book is all about the author’s experiences as a mother-in-law and grandmother. It’s written with humor and candor, light enough to enjoy while sitting and relaxing (it’s not easy chasing after two-year-old  grandsons, now, is it?), yet thought-provoking enough to initiate lots of good discussions, especially with fellow m-i-l’s  and bubbies! Perfect as a gift for those fellow m-i-l’s and bubbies, too, by the way!

So, congratulations on your new status…Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!

anamericanjew | September 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Categories: General, New Books | URL: http://wp.me/pHOOb-gd

The Bubby Book-Mania

You see, my Number One fan is my mother. Yes, my mother has been promoting my book as soon as it arrived in the containers from the printer to the publishing house. My mother has been to visit (read: check up on) every Judaica book-store in her Brooklyn neighborhood. Her purpose and modus operandi is to to do one thing: make sure that “Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!” is positioned and propped up on the shelf in the store, for optimum visibility.

My mom is not alone in her agenda. Two weeks ago, one of my sisters walked into a Judaica Store called “Torah Treasures” (plug, plug…) to ask whether the owner was planning on stocking MTIAB. (you think I’m going to type out all the words and exclamation points every time again and again??). Well, he gave her the wrong answer. “Probably.”

To which my sister said…well, actually I don’t know what she said!  But whatever she said may have worked for that store —but here’s another scenario:  the day of release, my niece called me from another section of New York, whilst in a prominent bookstore over there, wondering, “Aunt M, why is your book not in this store? I’m here at 10 am and they don’t have it…”

Well how was I supposed to know? Hey, I’m 3,000 miles away from New York, and she expects me to be following the arrivals of every one of MTIAB in every store?

Does my niece (or anyone for that matter) think that I have spies in each store, tracking which store stocks first, second, third, and which one is the slow poke and waits until the book is practically read by the whole world, to order it?

I walked into a store here in Los Angeles (yes, I’m guilty of store stalking as well) and asked the owner if he has “MTIAB” (I said the words, okay okay —- not the initials), and he had that dazed look on his face.

“Who is the author?”

“Uh…ME!” (BIG smile.)

Problem is the guy didn’t know me. LA is big enough that people don’t all know each other.

Well, to make a long story short, by the time I got out of that store, the guy knew my name, my book, what it’s about, who already has it in town, and why he had better get it in fast before it goes out of print.

So sellers beware – I – or anyone of my minions  or scouts – may be coming out to check up on you whether you have MTIAB on your shelves.

And by the way, sellers: my suggestion to you is to please put those books prominently near the front of the store, at eye level with the average customer when he or she (probably she, I guess) walks in.

Because you don’t want the Bubby’s mommy coming in to reprimand you about your placement of the Bubby’s book. That’s not something you want, if you know what’s good for you.

Good luck – and may you all read lots of good books this year.


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