Rachel Minkowsky is a wife to an amazing man, mother to two energetic girls, and works as a school counselor in New York City. Writing has been part of her life for as long as she can remember. Parenthood provides ample material. Rachel also loves to cook, read, and spend time with friends and family.
This article is part of our essay series, "Why Be Jewish?," based off of “Why Be Jewish?”—a new book by the late Edgar M. Bronfman.
I am Rachel, named in memory of my great-grandmother Rose.…I look like my grandmother Harriet. My father’s last name was once spelled differently and might have been French. I am the fourth generation in my family to be born in New York. I am Jewish. My ancestry has seeped into every crevice of my life, into the thousands of little moments that made me.… >> Read More
As we narrate the Exodus at our Passover seders, I am reminded of how lucky I am. I celebrate my freedom. My family and I treat ourselves like royalty and recline on soft chairs as we eat. (I relish…these seder requirements.) But as a married mother of two young children and a school counselor in New York City, “relaxing” is not a word I’d use to describe my daily routine. It’s obviously far better than forced servitude, but modern working motherhood is plagued with a specific set of challenges… 1. Sleep Deprivation Somewhere… >> Read More
I am the oldest of four. I have a sister and two brothers. If you’ve known me for more than 10 minutes, you know their names, ages, professions, and I’ve regaled you with at least one funny story.…(Like the time the four of us got stuck in a hotel’s revolving door, and the resort’s staff had to break it to free us.) I loved growing up as part of a gang, even though it was chaotic and loud at times. We fought. We played. Sometimes we even shared. We made epic messes.… >> Read More
“We’re going to Aunt E’s house next Thursday, and we’ll stay in New Jersey for a few days,” I told my daughters. “Won’t that be fun?”
My 5-year-old nodded happily, excited to see…her toddler cousin. But then she suddenly looked confused. “We’ll be at Aunt E’s on Friday? But what about Shabbat?” The 3-year-old looked up from her coloring book, concerned. “What about Shabbat?” she echoed. I paused. What about Shabbat? READ: What a Candle, Spice Box, and Grape Juice Can Really Do for Your Family “I don’t… >> Read More
It’s never quiet in the NICU. The heart and lung and respiration monitor chirp endlessly. The machine that delivers my daughter’s antibiotics beeps. The privacy curtain blocks out light, but not…the conversations happening in the hall: other parents, doctors completing their rounds, receptionists manning the perpetually-ringing phones. I wash my hands and go to my daughter. My baby girl is somehow sleeping peacefully. I brush a finger over her tiny, perfect cheek. She wakes, and blinks, and looks up at me with gray eyes. She… >> Read More
I’ve made good friends throughout my life, but my best friends are the women I met in college. We found each other on the precipice of adulthood and jumped into it holding hands. They taught me how…to argue, cry, listen, apologize, and how to move on. We talked each other through final exams and job interviews and dates gone awry. We celebrated every birthday with dinner and went dancing on countless nights. Time passed, and one by one, we met the men who would become our husbands. We couldn’t wait to… >> Read More
Growing up, we were secular Jews. I briefly attended Hebrew day school, but I didn’t fit in there at all. It made me sad, and sick, and my parents transferred me to the local public elementary. But…as the only Jewish child in my second grade class, I didn’t really fit in there either. At home, my parents tried to solidify our Jewish identities. My sister and brothers and I knew our history, and we loved Jewish food. We observed major holidays. Yet Friday nights were for homework or friends or simply… >> Read More
I used to be fun. I used to go out dancing with my friends, and I’d get home late. I ate ice cream for dinner. I cracked jokes that didn’t open with, “Knock, knock!” And the summer I was 22,…I scored the ultimate fun job: counselor at a travel camp for teenagers. I was one of four counselors and had a group of 40-something campers, aged 12-13. We went fishing and to the beach and saw movies. But mostly, we went to theme parks. We hit Great Adventure, Hershey Park, and Busch Gardens, and… >> Read More
I am tired. My day starts before dawn, and I’m showered and dressed before the sun has a chance to rise. I make lunches and snacks and a vat of strong coffee. I change the 2-year-old’s diaper and…wake up the 4-year-old and convince both my children that yes, it is necessary to wear clothes. Una the Unicorn has gone missing, and the 4-year-old’s lip wobbles dangerously. Neither child wants to eat the waffles they insisted on me making minutes before. My husband and I load two children into the car and buckle… >> Read More
Both my daughters loved music from their earliest days. When I was pregnant, my husband would play his guitar to my belly, and we’d watch our baby dance. As cranky newborns, music would always…soothe them. (Is there a blessing for the person that invented the crib CD player?) It became part of their bedtime routines. Each night, everything from the Beatles to Dave Matthews Band would fill their rooms. It was an exhaustion-fueled meltdown that had me turning to music one afternoon. My firstborn was about 4 months… >> Read More
I live in East Meadow, a town in Nassau County, Long Island. My husband and I found this town somewhat accidentally eight years ago, but we were instantly attracted. Recently, we sold our house and…purchased something larger to accommodate our growing family. We chose to stay in the same area, because we still love it here. The town offers almost everything we wanted…except kindergarten. >> Read More
Dear Home Buyers,
Seven years ago, I was you. My fiancé and I scoured real estate websites and searched for a place to start our lives together. We found this house. We transformed it; we made it…ours. My family’s foundation is here. These walls witnessed my transition from single woman to wife, and eventually to a mother. This house tells our story, and it’s something I’d like you to know. >> Read More
December 25th was supposed to have been a quiet, leisurely day. It certainly started out that way. My daughters woke up late. I made pancakes. We watched episodes of “Sesame Street” and “Mickey…Mouse Clubhouse” while my husband assembled the last of their Hanukkah presents. We cuddled on the couch. My younger sister was nearing her due date, so I checked my phone. >> Read More
My 4-year-old’s socks never match. She’s left the house in one teal sock and one yellow, while wearing an orange striped dress. Some days, she looks like a miniature Punky Brewster, and…at this point, it is fine with me. I am learning to pick my battles. As a baby, my daughter’s nap schedule was ironclad. She still does best with the same, precise daily routine. This includes everything--especially what she eats. If given the opportunity, she’d sustain life solely on pizza, sunbutter sandwiches, and yogurt smoothies.… >> Read More
Growing up, ours was the only house on the block with a menorah glowing in the window. This should have put me onto the fast track to Christmas envy, but it didn’t. I respected Christmas, but was…never jealous of those who celebrated. In fact, watching my neighbors actually gave me a deeper appreciation for the simpler joys of Hanukkah. Here’s why: 1. Early-Bird Shopping. Celebrating Hanukkah means I usually have an earlier gift-buying deadline to meet than my counterparts. I have to get myself in gear way before Christmas shopping madness… >> Read More
After almost three years at home with my daughters, I returned to my job last fall. It has taken time for me to adjust to the change in rhythm. I’ve made mistakes along the way. But the…Days of Awe and Yom Kippur itself hold a promise: No matter how grievous our sins, we can ask forgiveness and start again. As I think of the people I may have offended or wronged this year, there is one name that keeps popping up. I have ignored her needs. I have harshly criticized her.… >> Read More
Last month, my book club unanimously decided to go away for a night. I don’t remember who made the initial suggestion, but the idea sounded amazing to me. In the past few years, there have been…days where my house is a disaster and my girls are crying and just as I’m about to lose it… my cat pukes on the rug. There are times when this Mommy needs a time out. Most of my friends are married and moms, and I knew they felt the same. We needed a break…… >> Read More
I knew I wanted the house.
It needed work, but I could see the potential hidden under the atrocious paint colors and dog hair. But the threat of homebuyer’s remorse struck my husband and I…simultaneously. We looked at each other panicked, suddenly looking for a reason to bail. Standing side-by-side in the yard, we glanced at the row of dying azaleas baking in mid-July sun. “Those bushes need to go,” I murmured. The real estate agent paused and then gestured at the weed-choked rectangle. “It’s probably too sunny for this… >> Read More
I glanced at the invitation, stroking a finger over the shiny silver and blue stripes. The teddy bear applique was sweet. I looked at the date and sighed. If it were almost anyone else in the…world, I would have sent my regrets and a thoughtful gift. Attending this party required a 600-mile round trip with a 3-year-old and a toddler, and would be bookended by close-of-the-school-year madness. The idea alone was exhausting. I massaged the bridge of my nose. I knew we had to go. This baby naming was hosted… >> Read More
I was late. Lateness isn’t a new concept for me--ever since my daughters’ births, my whole life seems to run behind schedule--but that day, it was especially bad.
I was going to be late for…work and I was supposed to represent my school at an important meeting. It was held on the other side of the city, and I knew I’d have to hustle. The weather was not helping. As I merged onto the parkway, the skies opened. Buckets of rain poured down, causing rush hour traffic to stagnate.… >> Read More
My first job was in Brooklyn, in a school building where the students were mostly from the Caribbean. The neighborhood restaurants reflected the community. It was there that I was introduced to…beef patties and Pepper Pot. Strangers on the street were probably surprised to see a petite Jewish woman snacking on rice and peas with a side of fried plantains, but I never cared. I love all kinds of food. It started with my father. He tried to get all of his children to try different… >> Read More
I visit the toddler’s room first. After seven months of day care drop off trial and error, I’ve discovered that this routine works best. The 3-year-old runs ahead. I follow her into the…classroom, hauling two massive tote bags and a squirming 16-month-old. The toddler waves frantically at her lunch bag. My 3-year-old finds a toy to play with while I locate her sister’s breakfast. I hand the toddler off to *Miss Jane, the teacher, and dig out a container of mini pancakes. I relay the morning’s events:… >> Read More
Every spring I remember; every Passover I celebrate.
I have mostly forgotten the Passover that fell right before my wedding. I don’t remember who led those seders. I don’t recall what was…served for dinner. I was too busy thinking of the last minute wedding details (Did we need programs? When would the yarmulkes be ready? How did I go about changing my name?) And then I realized that I’d miss the whole holiday. I ceased thinking about my impending departure from the single world. I sipped… >> Read More
Some nights, it is a literal shit show. Nothing quite matches the moment when I looked down at the shower floor and saw a giant blob of poop. My oblivious toddler looked at me, puzzled, clearly…wondering, “How’d that get there?” Thankfully, most nights, we deal with more metaphorical bath time messes. Like the nights when the 3-year-old commandeers all toys like she’s auditioning for an episode of "Hoarders," and the toddler cries pitifully at the injustice. There was also the memorable evening when the toddler chomped down on my arm. Her… >> Read More
I hate the phrase “Working Mom.” I was home with my daughters for almost three years, and I promise, that was work too. But it is a different kind of challenge than working in a paid profession.…I returned to my job as a guidance counselor this past September, and it’s been an interesting few months. (Read: It’s slightly insane. Moms of many and single mothers, I salute you.) But I confess, I’m doing things that I never thought I would: 1. I make three dinners. My husband is a picky eater.… >> Read More