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Why “A Hanukkah with Mazel” Inspires Hope (A Book Review)


Sometimes we need a little extra touch of  optimism in our lives. Maybe we are feeling sad. Maybe our children seem a bit hopeless about stuff in their lives. We pray, we hope, we sing, we laugh… but nothing seems to be working for us. Words can help. Stories can inspire. That dose of faith or spoonful of hope and promise for our future that everything will turn okay is often found in a good story. No matter if that book is truth or fiction. Never mind if it is short or long; for kids or for adults. Recently, I was asked by Kar-Ben Publishing Company to review some books. Subsequently, they sent me several Hanukkah books. These were: Hanukkah Delight, L’Dor Vador, and Joseph The Dreamer, all of which were delightful and will be reviewed in a future post. In particular,  the picture book story, A Hanukkah with Mazel by Joel Edward Stein, hit the spot and helped me feel optimistic and hopeful. I got that good fuzzy feeling … Continue reading


Should Age Be a Private Matter?


A few  nights ago our family was invited to the100th birthday party of my mother-in-law’s cousin.  To me, the celebration of his becoming 100 indicated that he and all around him were grateful for his blessings of a long life. It was a time to announce his age to those who were there. Something that is often private was the topic of the event. My MIL has lots of friends around that age, including someone from our synagogue  who turned 100 a few months ago and celebrated with a party in synagogue on Shabbat. Oh, and did I  mention my MIL’s best friend, Anne who turned 102? That was a milestone which our family and Anne’s children celebrated at a restaurant. Until about 6 years ago, my mother-in-law’s age was private. No one seemed to know her age and if they did they certainly didn’t discuss it. After that, her age was officially public knowledge and no longer a taboo subject. So I’m wondering: Why wait till you’re 90 or 95 to … Continue reading


How My Mom, Sisters and I Had our Great Experience


My husband and I never travel to exotic places and we’re pretty much okay with it. We have thank G-d a lovely climate here in Southern California where the sun shines pretty much on most days and where we get to complain when it’s 50 degrees how freezing it is. Our idea of a good vacation is a drive to the San Diego Zoo or Laguna Beach.  Even Disneyland is out of the question as the prices have become astronomical (sorry, Disneyland). But all that aside, it has been my dream to go to Israel for like forever. I had been there as a child with my parents, then as a high school graduate with my friends and 22 years later with my husband. I’ve wanted to have what’s called a “chavaya” – a memorable experience in Israel that is imprinted on my mind. I wanted to really feel like I lived there – even for just a few days, not in a hotel or … Continue reading


How the Election Made Me More Tolerant


The other day I was mad at a certain person in my life. Really upset. I was ranting and raving and venting to my husband about it. Then I thought about it and slept on it. The next day I woke up, went about my day and thought about it. I started to realize that the other person has a difficult situation in his/her life and that’s why he/she is acting that way. And I started to understand where they were coming from. I wasn’t mad at that person anymore. Wow. I believe that this election fever and overall stress gives me a chance to practice my skills of switching gears and seeing things from another point of view. This Election has brought out the worst in many of us. People are bickering online and in person, on Facebook and on Twitter. Relationships have suffered as voting has morphed from a basic right and privilege into an unpleasant phenomenon of political arguments, … Continue reading


A Tribute to My Father on his YahrTzeit


What do you say when someone asks you for information that is readily available on the Internet? Google it! That’s code for “Look it up. Figure it out. You can do it….” My siblings and I reminisce that my father would encourage our independence in learning new things, by telling us to  “look it up.” In honor of  the yahrtzeit or anniversary of my father’s passing two years ago, I write this blog post. This one’s for you, Daddy. Shalom Stern, or Shalom ben Shlomo (the son of Solomon) Halevi (a descendant of the Levites) passed away after a diagnosis 14 years earlier of Parkinson’s Disease. My father passed on September 28, 2014 but the Hebrew date falls on today’s Hebrew date which is the day after Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year). Today we lit a candle that lasts for 24 hours and my brothers recited kaddish in my father’s memory. My father was a paradigm of punctuality. Descending from German ancestors, his motto … Continue reading


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