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Jan 15 2013

What I Learned from My 2012 Bucket List

By at 11:42 am

We’re now well into January and I’m just getting around to my reflections on last year. While I’m always excited to welcome the new, last year was so profound I wanted to soak it all in for a bit.

If you’ve been following along this past year I made a list of 25 things I’d like to do in 2012. I found out I was pregnant with my second child four days before that post ran on Kveller. I wasn’t sure if I was being overly ambitious with my list given I was dry heaving into the trash can every time I tried to feed my toddler, but I’m so happy I stuck with it. I’m so happy I worked on me last year.

The things on that list that I pushed myself to do, I can honestly say made me a happier, more fulfilled, and better person. Our family motto is “living an intentional life” and I felt like even by doing something as simple as growing out my hair–I was living intentionally. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 11 2012

The Fifth Night Project: Teaching Giving During Hanukkah

By at 11:15 am

box of toy donations for charityLet’s face it; in order to help Jewish children from feeling left out of the Christmas season, Hanukkah has lost much of it’s traditional meaning and has become a holiday based around eight nights of presents. Customarily, Hanukkah is celebrated with candles, dreidels, and latkes; the eight crazy nights of toys and books was only added to compete with Christmas. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 12 2012

News Roundup: Pregnancy Sick Leave, Elmo Allegations

By at 4:05 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

kevin clash elmo

– Pregnant women should get two months of sick leave–that is, before they have their baby–says a new Norwegian study. This is awesome, but unless you live in Norway, you probably can’t expect two months of sick leave :( (Science Blog)

– Want to read some of the best parenting tweets about the election? We like the one about mommy stealing daddy’s margarita. (Huffington Post)

– Kaytlynn Welsch, 12, and her younger sister, Heather Welsch, 10, regularly run–and win–13 mile trail races. Are their parents pushing them too hard? (New York Times)

– A study showed that kids only act generously when they think people can see. I guess kids are pretty savvy operators. (Washington Post)

– And in horribly sad news that we hope turns out not to be true: Kevin Clash, who voices Elmo on Sesame Street, is on leave from his job after allegations (which he claims are false) that he had an inappropriate relationship with an underage boy. (CNN)

Nov 6 2012

How to Donate Without Opening Your Wallet

By at 9:44 am

Donate clothes your children have outgrown or just don't wear

As part of our month-long series dedicated to Women, Work & Money, Alina Adams shares her strategy for donating time and skills instead of money.

When I wrote my earlier piece about how to save money by (primarily) not caring about what other people had, I stressed that it applied to those in your higher and comparable financial strata. Caring about people who have less than we do is a completely different issue.

However, when it comes to tzedekah, I have chosen to teach my children that there are ways to contribute other than monetarily. Not only because, as a teacher and a writer living in New York City with three kids in private school we don’t have a lot to spare, but also because I truly believe that giving means more when you actively do something to heal the world, rather than merely pay someone else to take care of what you perceive to be a problem. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 31 2012

Lessons From Hurricane Sandy

By at 4:34 pm

Damage from Hurricane Sandy

My daughters are old enough to understand what a storm is, and that it’s loud and scary, even when we’re inside the house.

As we spent all day Monday inside, passing the time with markers, stickers, books, and a screening of Cinderella, my 4-year-old was a little more fragile than usual. She fell into tears and fussiness quickly and often, and I know it was because of the gusting wind outside. I just kept reminding her that we were safe and dry inside, and it seemed to help a bit. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 22 2011

Mayim Bialik on Why It’s Important to Give

By at 3:10 pm

Mayim's recent PSA for Na'Amat.

As a public Jewish person, I am asked to speak for a lot of Jewish causes. I feel truly blessed to be able to put the word out there about organizations that do so much to change the world.

Even in my non-celebrity days, though, when I was “just” a graduate student who used to be TV’s Blossom, I was involved in a variety of charity organizations, and believe strongly in advocating for young people to put their money (even if it’s only the money they would spend on one night out drinking) and their passion behind a cause. I even co-founded a young person’s branch of the Jewish Free Loan of Los Angeles to show young people that they, too, can be philanthropists by helping add money to the pot of interest-free loans given out to people of all faiths.

Now that I am a mother, I feel even more strongly about organizations I am affiliated with, such as Na’Amat. You might associate the organization with our grandmothers’ generation. It’s 85 years old (so we’re not entirely wrong in our association) and it started as the Working Women’s Council in Palestine. Golda Meir was a founding supporter and Na’Amat is the Hebrew acronym for “Movement of Working Women and Volunteers.”

I just finished filming a PSA for Na’Amat and am happy to promote the great work they do along with its sister affiliate Na’Amat Israel. As an organization they work to help Jewish women work around halachic obstacles regarding marriage, divorce, and widowhood. They provide a 24 hour hotline for women experiencing domestic violence and provide women’s rights centers, free legal and health services, and do advocacy work to help end domestic violence. They provide affordable and safe childcare to tens of thousands of children. And they gives scholarships to women in need (180 were given out last year alone!) and stand by the principle that women deserve and merit equal opportunities to achieve and succeed free of discrimination in the educational and workplace arenas alike.

For me, becoming a parent made me feel connected to other parents in a new and powerful way. The thought of not having money or healthcare or the right to not be discriminated against feels much more significant now that I am a parent, and to imagine that this goes on all over the world every day can be overwhelming. Giving voice to organizations like Na’Amat helps contribute to making small changes for other parents and future generations.

And they need our support. It’s that simple.

Finally, as a person comfortably living in a wealthy country, I often marvel at how much we — I include myself in this — take for granted. A bad year financially for many of us looks like luxury to millions of people all over the world. Budgeting for a new water filter in our kitchens (and dechlorination filters for our bathtubs!) is profoundly disturbing when there are families with no clean water to give a sick child. We can give a little. We can give $5. We can also give $10. And we can give $1. The notion is that philanthropy is financial, yes, but it is also spiritual. It’s not about assuaging guilt; it’s a connection to others through time and space.

Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh” means that all Jews–and all people–are responsible for one another. No exceptions. No modifiers. Stand up for something with your money this Hanukkah, be it a big or small donation. Because there is no measure for how great that contribution is: for your soul, for the recipient of what your donation leads to, and for the truly priceless gift of being a part of this great nation of Jews. Let us be a light among the nations any way we can during this Festival of Lights. Chag Hanukkah Sameach.


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