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Aug 15 2012

Olympic Athletes Can Grow Up to Be Normal People, Too

By at 4:10 pm
alina adams brian boitano

Me with Brian Boitano!

Would you want your kid on a Wheeties box, Renee Septimus wondered here on Kveller. She talked about the kind of things that young Olympic athletes must be giving up to acheive their level of success–school, summer camp, birthday parties, etc.

Renee concluded: I’m glad my children lived “average” lives. They turned into well-rounded, self-actualized adults with many interests, good relationships, and satisfying careers.

As someone who spent several years covering Olympic sports for ABC, ESPN, and TNT, as the older sister and official chaperone of a brother who was the 1996 US Novice Ice Dancing Champion and, last but not least, a mom, myself, I have a different perspective on the subject. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 14 2012

Kveller Book Club: The Year of the Gadfly is Up Next–Enter to Win a Free Copy!

By at 2:28 pm

the year of the gadfly jennifer millerThe Kveller Book Club had its first “meeting” last week, where we talked about The Little Bride, chatted with author Anna Solomon over Twitter, and overall had a great time! Thanks to all who joined in, and to all who missed this one but want to get involved next month… here’s your chance!

Our next book club book will be The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller. Here’s what the jacket copy has to say:

Storied, fiercely competitive Mariana Academy was founded with a serious honor code; its reputation has been unsullied for decades. Now a long-dormant secret society, Prisom’s Party, threatens its placid halls with vigilante justice, exposing students and teachers alike for even the most minor infraction.

Iris Dupont, a budding journalist whose only confidant is the chain-smoking specter of Edward R. Murrow, feels sure she can break into the ranks of The Devil’s Advocate, the Party’s underground newspaper, and there uncover the source of its blackmail schemes and vilifying rumors. Some involve the school’s new science teacher, who also seems to be investigating the Party. Others point to an albino student who left school abruptly ten years before, never to return. And everything connects to a rare book called Marvelous Species. But the truth comes with its own dangers, and Iris is torn between her allegiances, her reporter’s instinct, and her own troubled past.

Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 9 2012

Hebrew for Tots

By at 2:47 pm

keshetot congregation beth elohim brooklynLooking for a fun way to add some Israeli flair into your kids’ lives? If you’re in the New York area, head over to Brooklyn and check out Keshetot, an innovative music, story, art, and movement program for infants and toddlers. It’s run by Israeli teachers and conducted exclusively in Hebrew, making it a great way for both you and your little ones to learn a little Hebrew and more about the Israeli culture. The program is for both non-Hebrew and Hebrew-speaking families, and is funded in part by the UJA Federation of New York.

Interested? Check out this video to get an exclusive look at what happens at Keshetot:

Keshetot meets at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The fall semester, which consists of 10 sessions every other Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 12 p.m., begins on September 23rd and runs through January 13, 2013. The price is $300 for families with one child and $350 for families with more than one child.

For registration and more details please contact:, 718-768-3814 ext 245.

Aug 8 2012

Kveller Book Club Discussion: The Little Bride by Anna Solomon

By at 12:02 pm

Kveller book clubIt’s finally here: Kveller book club time! This past month we’ve been reading The Little Bride by Anna Solomon, the story of a 16-year-old Jewish girl from Odessa traveling to America as a mail-order bride. The following is a discussion among the Kveller editors–Molly Tolsky, Adina Kay-Gross, Carla Naumburg, Jordana Horn, and Deborah Kolben–about the book. Read through, and then chime in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

Molly: Put yourself in Minna’s shoes. 16 years old. Mom gone. Dad dead. Housekeeper for a promiscuous drunk. And dealing with, of all things, pogroms. Would you ever consider going the mail-order bride route? And do you think, by the end, she regrets it?

Adina: Considering what a bleak portrait Solomon paints for us here, I’d have to say that UM YES, I think I’d try and do whatever the hell I could to get out of Odessa. But I can’t say that I can put myself in Minna’s shoes because–and I might be showing my cards too early here–I found Minna’s character to be essentially character-less. I really had no idea what she was like by the end of the book. Not what she looked like, not why she loved what she loved, nothing. I can say, though, that the shadowy portrait we get of Rebecca, the younger housekeeper hired on to replace Minna, was more harrowing and more telling of just how depraved that life was than anything we got from Minna’s POV, and I got this in only a few scenes. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 7 2012

Kveller Book Club: Interview with Anna Solomon

By at 12:07 pm

anna solomon the little bride kveller book club

As we gear up for our first Kveller book club discussion, here’s an interview with the author of The Little Bride, Anna Solomon. Be sure to check back here tomorrow around noon to discuss the book with Kveller’s contributing editors and other book clubbers! And then, on Thursday August 9, join us for a Twitter chat with Anna from 12-1 p.m. EST by following along with the hashtag #kvellerlit.

What was the initial inspiration for The Little Bride?

I was Googling myself! How lame is that, right? But there you go–it led me on a great adventure. I discovered an Anna Solomon Freudenthal, and a website called Stories Untold: Jewish Women Pioneers. Just the title fascinated me–I’d had no idea that there were Jewish pioneers in the American West. And when I came across one woman, Rachel Bella Calof, who’d been a mail-order bride to North Dakota, I knew I’d found a story I wanted to tell.

What kind of research did you have to do in order to write the book? Did you travel to South Dakota? Read the rest of this entry →

Food Challenges: My Husband’s a Vegan & My Son’s Hooked on Pouches

By at 10:27 am

fruit juicerThere’s an old saying that you can put three Jews together and get four opinions. Well, that’s the way it is with diets in my family. My husband is a vegan, my son is a vegetarian, and I am an omnivore who is abstaining from meat and poultry for the summer. I am going crazy trying to figure out how to feed everyone.

My husband has never tried to veganize me. He has encouraged me to be more informed about my food choices, but until recently I resisted. I was so overwhelmed with learning a new way to cook for him that I couldn’t stomach any more education. Tempeh? Soy? Seitan? I can make chicken soup so good you can taste it in your soul and roast chicken, briskets, and noodle kugels that practically forced me to start a waiting list for Shabbos dinners at my place. I used to pride myself on being a fabulous Jewish cook. Now it feels like I have to start all over and it is very, very hard at times. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 6 2012

Kveller Book Club: We’re Getting Closer…

By at 4:25 pm

Kveller book clubThe first meeting of Kveller’s new online book club is THIS WEDNESDAY, which means you have two more days to finish up reading The Little Bride by Anna Solomon. And we’re not the only ones excited about it–MyJewishLearning’s awesome daily e-letter Jewniverse (if you’re not signed up, do so here, you won’t regret it) just featured the book, and we’ll be posting an interview with Anna Solomon herself tomorrow right here on the blog. Then, on Wednesday, we’ll post a discussion of the book among Kveller’s contributing editors, and invite all of you to chime in with your thoughts.

But wait, there’s more!

We’ll also be hosting a Twitter chat with Anna (@SolomonAnna) this Thursday afternoon, from noon-1 p.m. EST. Twitter users will be able to follow the #kvellerlit hashtag to keep up with the conversation as well as ask Anna any questions you’d like. So stay tuned for a week of Kveller literary goodness.

Jul 27 2012

Drama at the Swimming Pool

By at 10:23 am

swimming class underwaterI had high hopes for swim class, and it seems they were justified: both girls are taking to the water like… uh… like ducks to water! But I had an unfortunate situation arise at the pool today, and I’d appreciate some opinions (polite ones) on the subject.

Neither girl has had swim lessons before, and they’re just 22 months apart. Still, I thought I’d try having them in two separate classes. Abby, 23 months, was in the Mommy and Me class, and Penny (3.5) was in the Starfish class. Both do roughly the same skills, but in the M&M class, the kids are doing stuff the whole time (since mommy is there to assist), and in the Starfish, they spend a lot of time bobbing around in the water waiting while the teacher holds them up to float, works with them on kicking, yadda yadda. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 23 2012

Nosh Your Kitchen

By at 2:03 pm

nosh letters decalLooking to add a little Jewish pizzazz to your kitchen? The new Jewish craft site Made by Mamaleh gives the step-by-step for making faux industrial letters. No go on, craft, and nosh away!

May 23 2012

My Week as a Dance Mom

By at 10:00 am

giselle ballet american ballet theater“Have a great time being Dance Mom!” my 12-year-old son chirped mischievously as I set off with my 8-year-old on his first day of rehearsal for Giselle with the American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center.

My younger son has been taking dance classes for almost a year now, so when another mom told me about the casting call for background Village Boys in Giselle, we thought we’d give it a shot.

My feeling was it would be a one-of-a-kind, priceless experience. How often, after all, does the average child–or adult, for that matter–get to be on stage at the Met, standing within a few feet of some of the world’s greatest dancers and getting a view even a front-row ticket couldn’t buy? Add to that the chance to work in a professional environment, surrounded by gifted, extremely dedicated and hard-working people, and have the same level of professionalism and hard work expected from you in return, and I figured, yes, that’s worth a week of my life. (And if he failed, well, you know how I feel about failure.) Read the rest of this entry →


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