Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

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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 in my stomach and I just had to read it again and again. Then, I shared it with my grandsons who loved it.

A Hanukkah with Mazel by Joel Edward Stein, (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2016), tells the story of Misha a poor farmer, an artist who has barely enough money for his own food and what happens to him when a cute stray cat  appears in his barn next to the cow. How he uses his kindness and resourcefulness to make a better future for himself. The cat, whom he names “Mazel” symbolizes the hope and gratitude he feels for having found and helped the cat. And then,  after that, as Misha celebrates the holiday of Hanukkah,  things just become better for him.

The illustrations by Elisa Vavouri are realistic without being trite. The language is simple and unpretentious without being too childish. The book has a universal and classic and Jewish feel to it without being cliché.

Hanukkah is  when we gather round with our family and loved ones. It’s a great time for instilling feelings of hope and faith in our children and ourselves. This story mirrors the one of Hanukkah where one little amount of oil lasted for eight days. Misha has no money or much oil but he does have talent. Talent for art. A heart to care for the cat and a brain to figure out what to do. All that combined with someone else who comes into his life, combine to make  a story of small and large miracles.

This book can be purchased online on Amazon or at the Kar-Ben website.

Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate! And may all our days be happy and filled with light.

Disclaimer: I received the listed Hanukkah books in compensation for this review.

 

 

 


On Illness, Recovery and Birth

It’s been a difficult year for our family.  Lots has happened since late December of 2013 and early January. And here we are in November 2014, and we are celebrating the birth of our 5th grandson, thank G-d. Yes, our second son and his wife  had their third son this past Wednesday.

 

After illness comes recovery for some, whether it’s a complete or partial recovery. But throughout that process, I have experienced various emotions, from sadness, frustration and mourning  all the way to happiness and fulfillment.

It’s as if the challenging times gave birth to happy times.

By talking about my past year, I don’t want to minimize what others go through. Nor do I want to over-dramatize what my family and I experienced. Everyone has rough times. No one is free from challenges in this life, whether physical, emotional or both. I continue to pray for all my friends and relatives who are suffering daily with various issues.  When my children were growing up, things were chaotic, crazy and difficult…and fun. And I came out on the others side stronger (I think!).

But this year for some reason was more intense, concentrated into one year.

And this week, after all that, we have a new grandson. That alone gives me the strength to know that bad times are often followed by good times..and so life goes. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Year in Review:

Last January, one of our sons was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease, called transverse myelitis. He was in the hospital for a few weeks and until the diagnosis was clear, we were quite afraid of what he actually had. Thank G-d, he has recovered almost completely from the illness and is now free of most of his symptoms, but it was scary.

I now appreciate, as does our son and his wife, every bodily function from breathing, walking to using the bathroom. When we realize what can go wrong, and actually have those things go wrong, we are all the more relieved and appreciative when those abilities come back. Our son still has intermittent headaches which is a symptom of the original problem but the neurologists all say that that is part of the process. It can take up to a year or more for total healing to happen.

A few months later, in February, our third son got married – which was a wonderful and exciting event.  The day before that, I broke my ankle. You can read all about how I coped with that, as well as lessons that I learned in the process. And now, after three surgeries, a serious bone infection of osteo-myelitis  and lots of physical therapy, not to mention 6 months being laid up in bed, I am so deeply appreciative of every step I can take. Limping. Waddling somewhat…but who cares? I’m walking. Little by little and step by step, I’m regaining my strength. I also am appreciative of all the help I got from friends, relatives and acquaintances.

And then throughout my period of being with my casts, splints and not being allowed to weight bear (i.e. “stand on my feet!”), my father was sick with end-stage Parkinson’s Disease, which he had had for 14 years, and suffered most debility the last year. I could not visit my father who lived in NY, because I was not allowed to travel. I could barely speak on the phone with him, because his voice was very weak.

And as many of you know, my dear father passed away at his home at the end of September. Fortunately, I was already able to walk when my father passed, (with crutches and a walker), and so I “hopped” on a plane together with my dear husband as soon as we got the call, and flew to New York from Los Angeles where we live to be at the funeral the following day. Then, I sat shiva with my mom, aunt and siblings and flew back to LA after that.

One month later, I flew back to New York for the Shloshim  event, which is the memorial our family organized for the 30th day after my father’s death.

It’s been a whirlwind.

But here we are, celebrating little Baby Hendeles’s birth….

Good times a-coming. Which reminds me: I better get to cooking for Shabbat. Everyone is coming for dinner tonight!


Glow in the Dark

My grandson came over for a barbecue last night with his Mommy and Daddy and little brother.  We were standing outside the house, and I noticed his new shoes peeking out from under the bottom of his pants. I said, “Hey, you have new shoes!”  And he answered, ‘Ya, and they light up? See?”

And then he stomped his right foot a few times on the sidewalk, and I saw some little red light flash.  I said, “Wow! That’s so cool! And what happens at night?”

“They glow in the dark!”

Continue reading


Positive Transformation

“What a Wonderful World” – A song recorded by Louis Armstrong (1968), and written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss.

That’s how I feel right now. I feel positive, upbeat, and in a generally good mood about life.

I see trees of green…….. red roses too
I see em bloom….. for me and for you
And I think to myself…. what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue….. clouds of white
Bright blessed days….dark sacred nights
And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world.

The colors of a rainbow…..so pretty ..in the sky
Are also on the faces…..of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands…..sayin.. how do you do
They’re really sayin……I love you. Continue reading


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