2013 has been another big year for Kveller, and our community keeps growing. We have had more readers and writers than ever before, and in case we run out, the team has been doing our part to produce the next generation. Jordana welcomed her fifth child (and started writing a column for the Jewish Daily Forward), Tamara announced her third pregnancy, and Associate Editor Molly Tolsky became an aunt again. Kveller Editor Deborah insists she didn’t really do anything this year, but I think adjusting to life with two kids while running a successful and growing Jewish parenting website is a pretty big deal!
Beyond the whole baby thing, Sarah and Tam both had posts go viral, Mayim was nominated for another Emmy and her first SAG award, and Kveller contributor Avital Norman Nathman’s first book, The Good Mother Myth (featuring several Kveller writers), was published. I sold my first book (Learning to Stay, to be published by Parallax Press, Fall 2014), and Adina and I are working with Jewish mama, historian, and sociologist Judith Rosenbaum on an anthology exploring the experience of modern Jewish motherhood, which will also feature a number of Kveller writers.
Of all the pieces I write for Kveller over the course of a year, I think this is my favorite. I spend several hours combing through every single post that we have published, and as I read them, I am just blown away by how thoughtful, funny, eloquent, and honest our writers are. It’s never easy to narrow the list down to 10, but I have done it again this year.
Here are my Top Ten picks, in chronological order:
1. On Days Like These, I Miss My Mom by Sarah Tuttle-Singer. Besides the fact that Sarah’s prose is just gorgeous, I love how honest she is in her writing. It is truly a gift to the rest of us, who often feel as though we are alone in how hard parenting can be. This piece brought me to tears, and I am grateful to Sarah for writing it (although I wish she had never had to).
2. The Secret of Parenting: Do Less by Jordana Horn. As I’m currently writing a parenting book, I’ve been spending way too much time reading other people’s parenting books, and most of them make me want to poke my eyes out. I’m always grateful for reasonable, reality-based parenting advice, and Jordana nailed it with this one.
3. Maintaining Faith Throughout the Harder Times in Life by Mayim Bialik. I am constantly blown away by how thoughtful Mayim is, even in the face of major life challenges. Her words gave me goosebumps, including these: “But God is constantly giving me opportunities to learn from what is placed in front of me, and to not give up the hope that my home can be one of serenity someday. That’s faith.” Faith indeed.
4. Friday Night: My Father’s Unveiling by Adina Kay-Gross. Quite simply, I think this is one of the most beautifully written pieces Kveller has ever published. If you haven’t read it, go do so immediately. But grab a tissue box first.
5. How Meditation Helped Me Decide Whether I Should Have Another Child by Carla Naumburg. I don’t know how great this post was, but it represented a tremendous shift in how I make important decisions, and I wanted to share it with you all.
6. The Latest Parenting Trend: Radical Amazement by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, this post makes me want to be a better parent. I have read it several times since it was first published in July, and it inspires me every time.
7. A New Year and I’m Already Screwing Up by Jenn Meer. This feels like a particularly relevant post as we approach the secular New Year and all of the resolutions that go along with it. And all I can say is, thank you, Jenn. Thank you for writing this.
8. How I Swallowed My Pride and Asked for Help By Tamara Reese. I am so grateful to Tam for pulling back the curtain on an issue that so many of us struggle with on a regular basis. By sharing her story, she has given the rest of us permission to ask for help, and help each other.
9. At What Age Can Kids Be Left Home Alone? by Alina Adams. Now, you might be surprised to see this one on the list, as it was a bit controversial, but I am so glad Alina wrote it. It’s so easy for us to get stuck in shockingly narrow perspectives on what is and isn’t acceptable in parenting (and I’m guilty of it myself), and I think it’s important to remember that there are many, many different ways to raise our children.
10. The Day Two Women at the Dollar Store Changed My Way of Thinking by Sharrona Pearl. Many of us who read Kveller have enough, or even more than enough. This post reminded me that so many in our communities don’t, and it inspired my husband and I to focus much of our charitable giving this year on families that need some help with basics, such as diapers and formula. Thank you, Sharrona, for this important piece. If you are moved as we were, please consider donating to your local JFCS or other charity focused on providing for young families.
And finally, as many of you know, a family in our community lost their 8-year-old son, Superman Sam, to cancer this year. I invite you to honor his memory, and the memory of all children who lost their battles with cancer this year, by donating to 36 Rabbis Shave for the Brave.
May we all have a happy, peaceful, healthy, and joyful new year!