Rabbi Avram Mlotek is a co-founder of BaseHillel.org. The Forward recently listed him as one of America’s “Most Inspiring Rabbis” and in 2012, he was recognized by TheJewish Week as one of the "leading innovators in Jewish life today" as part of their "36 Under 36" Section. Mlotek served as a rabbi in training at The Carlebach Shul, The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, The Educational Alliance and Hunter College Hillel. He is happily married to Yael Kornfeld, a social worker, and proud Tati to their four year old Ravi and new born baby Hillel Yosl.
These days it feels like there is a march, vigil, or rally every other day depending on the latest executive action issued. As politically active parents, we struggle with how much of the current…climate we should share with our 4-year-old, Ravi, though we know she soaks up way more than we think. What do rallies and protests accomplish? I often hear that question from my more reluctant or cynical friends. I agree there is value and even a need to transform the energy of a moment into a… >> Read More
We sit down for dinner.
Ravi, my 4-year-old, overhears my phone conversation and learns that my best friend’s grandfather has passed away.
“Tati,” she asks, “will Bubby come back to…life?” Bubby, her great-grandmother, passed away three years ago, at the age of 91. Now, Judaism does believe in an afterlife and in a resuscitation of the dead, but for whatever reason I opt not to have that theological conversation with Ravi at this point. “No,” I offer, “but her memory lives on and Bubby… >> Read More
“Tati,” my 4-year-old daughter said, “I like your shoes.”
“I like your ideas,” I responded.
“No, it has to be about clothes,” Ravi replied.
As Ravi’s mom and I have been…busy battling certain gender norms while succumbing to others (see pink “Frozen” winter boots for more), our country came pretty close to electing our first female president. Ravi had been following the election closely. Well, not exactly, but she is a most astute sponge, soaking up everything and everyone that crosses her path. On Trump: “If… >> Read More
Ravi, our 4-year-old, is not a timid child. When guests make their way into our home, she is usually the first to welcome them, inviting them to play. It should be noted, though, that these guests…are adults. When it comes to other kids, Ravi is suddenly quiet, reserved, and cautious. Last year when I attended parent teacher conferences (yes, my 3-year-old’s school had parent-teacher conferences—no report cards, though), her teachers highlighted this piece. “Ravi can be shy around the other kids, generally,” they said, “but when an adult walks into… >> Read More
Our 4-year-old daughter, Ravi, has fallen in love with princesses. We don’t have a TV at home though Ravi manages to maneuver an iPhone better than her parents. Screen time is a special treat and…it’s usually “Sesame Street,” never a fairy tale story. And yet, she can hum “Let it Go,” proudly and on key, making me wonder as to the scope and reach of the Disney empire. Me? I love the Disney trauma. Bambi’s mother’s death, Belle’s kidnapping, Ariel’s single father, Simba’s dad’s murder, Aladdin’s orphan lifestyle; sure,… >> Read More
Déjà vu. We’ve been here before, sitting in this waiting room, noting the same stale wallpaper. And yet, what happened here had a transformational effect on our lives. We left this room forever…changed, becoming parents for the first time. And now, for a second. Let me back up. It’s Friday and we’re expecting about 20 guests for dinner. Friends have noted that statistically, if you’ve given birth prematurely once before (as we had with Ravi), chances are higher that you’ll give birth early again. Well, not so much this… >> Read More
Bedtime has become brutal these days. Ravi will ask for anything and everything under the sun to keep us in her room just a minute longer. A sip of water, please? A tissue, a hair band, a glass of…milk? Changing itchy pajamas, finding a pair of socks, a quick back rub—whatever it is, she’ll ask for it. Now, we’ve tried to establish some decorum here. For example, we’ve introduced a box of tissues and a sippy cup that now live on Ravi’s nightstand for her to use at her own leisure. And once… >> Read More
“Does Mama look big?” my wife Yael asks.
Now I know there is only one proper reply here, but it’s not me being asked.
We’ve decided to tell our 3-year-old, Ravi, that…we’re expecting, and it’s her turn to take the bait. Our family and friends warned us: Wait until the bump is big enough lest you receive endless “Are we there yet?” questions from our loquacious little one. Ravi nods. “What do some mamas have in their bellies?” Yael prods. READ: 6 Brothers Welcome Home Their First Sister in the Most… >> Read More
Every year around this time, Jewish families visit the graves of their relatives. Tradition. The high holidays are lurking around the corner. The shofar gets sounded in synagogue on a daily basis…during the month of Elul, a time of eager anticipation. Maimonides teaches that the shofar is a type of alarm clock for all of us immersed in a spiritual slumber. Wake up, cries the ancient ram’s horn. Somberness has been my recurring theme these past several months, given the violent climate of our world: The war… >> Read More
Waking up at 5 a.m. has never been my forte. I'm used to going to bed around then. I never even changed a diaper before my daughter was born. And yet, here I am, 12 months later, still marveling.…How is it that such a little person can inspire so much commitment and love? "We're still in the grace period," my wife used to joke when we were dating, meaning bickering and disagreements were rare as we were first getting to know each other. I'm starting to wonder, though, how long does a grace… >> Read More
We sat in the waiting room.
My wife and I came up with a list of what we had to do later that day: respond to emails, clean our apartment, maybe watch an episode of Mad Men.
We had been…sensitive to the kabbalistic notion of the ayin ha-ra, the evil eye, and refrained from excessive preparation of unconfirmed events. Yet, we figured, with a month away and a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan to reorganize, it was time to build a crib. Earlier that day before the unexpected rush to the hospital, my grandparents surprised us with… >> Read More
I've been singing to my wife's stomach lately and oddly enough, this doesn't feel too strange. As Yael enters her third trimester and her beautiful belly bursts, I find myself looking for ways…to stay involved in her growing process. I'm reading books and hearing stories, wondering all the while: does all this really prepare me for the epic change we're about to experience? >> Read More