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Jan 23 2013

On Tu Bishvat & Grieving for My Dad

By at 9:36 am

Tu Bishvat begins this Friday. For some, this holiday will only register because a child enrolled in Hebrew school (or Jewish Day School) will come home with a sandwich bag full of dried fruits and nuts or with a story about the Tu Bishvat Seder she participated in at school.

But for most of us, this admittedly minor Jewish holiday will pass without much (any?) fanfare. The concept is great: a New Year for the trees. The winter rains in Israel are on their way out; its time to welcome spring, to honor the earth in all of its life-sustaining glory, to get our fingernails dirty and plant something. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 30 2012

Why This Secular-Raised Jew Loves Sukkot

By at 3:58 pm

sukkah decoration pomegranate Sukkot starts tonight at sundown. For more info on the holiday, click here.

Our sukkah is up, and I am thrilled.

This is our first sukkah as a family, and my first sukkah ever.

I love pretty much all of the Jewish holidays, except maybe Tisha B’av, which has been known to fall on my birthday. (I don’t think you’re supposed to love that one anyway.) But Sukkot might be my favorite, for so many reasons.

Sukkot happens in the fall, and autumn in New England is nothing short of spectacular. The air is fresh and cool, a welcome change from the oppressive heat of summer. Our local farm stand has dozens of varieties of crisp, delicious apples, and the leaves in our neighborhood are varying shades of green, yellow, and red. It’s the perfect time to be outside. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 28 2012

Rosh Hashanah Recipes: Honey-Baked Chicken

By at 2:41 pm

honey-baked chicken with tangy apple for rosh hashanahHello, and welcome to the Rosh Hashanah Countdown 2012 (or should we say 5773?). In order to get you all fully prepared and excited for the High Holidays, we’ll be featuring one tasty Rosh Hashanah recipe on the blog every day, from now until the Big Day (which begins at sundown on September 16th, in case you haven’t been keeping track).

Today’s recipe comes from Zoe Singer, and it’s for honey-baked chicken with tangy apple. Here’s the recipe for honey baked-chicken:

A drizzle of honey creates a nice browned skin on this baked chicken. It makes a lovely autumn meal accompanied by challah, a green vegetable and a salad.

Tip: The tart apples, cooked with shallots and mustard, can also be served with other proteins, such as salmon, turkey, or duck. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 6 2012

Jewish Holiday Alert

By at 2:14 pm

Moses and the 10 CommandmentsIf you’ve ever tried to get a rabbi to marry you during the summer, you’ve probably heard of Tisha B’Av–a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples. (This year it starts the night of July 28th.)

The three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av are simply called “The Three Weeks.” During this period some people abstain from listening to music, getting married, and cutting their hair.

The Three Weeks kicks off this Sunday–the 17th of Tammuz. It’s believed that a lot of bad stuff happened to the Jews on this day. Moses broke the original Ten Commandments after coming upon the Israelites as they worshiped the Golden Calf. The Roman rulers forbade sacrifices to be made in the Second Temple on this date in 69 C.E.. In the following year, the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem were breached. This attack led to the destruction of the Temple three weeks later.

So, in commemoration of all that, it is traditional to fast from sunrise to sunset.

We will not say “Happy 17th of Tammuz” because that sounds wrong.

For more info, check out this piece on Tisha B’Av and more here on the 17th of Tammuz.

Mar 27 2012

How to Choose Your Passover Haggadah

By at 9:57 am

It’s that time of year again. Spring is in the air, families are making their travel plans, and matzah is on sale (seriously, $4 for five boxes at my local A&P!). Passover begins on sundown, April 6th, and besides choosing the best recipe for matzah ball soup, there’s another important decision on your hands: the Haggadah. The Haggadah is a major determinate in how your seder will turn out. Long or short, funny or serious, traditional or modern–there’s a Passover Haggadah for everyone out there, little kids included. Here’s a review of some of our favorite Haggadot, as well as some online materials that just may suit your fancy.

matzah houseOnline Options:

DIY Seder

For the crafty, DIY set, this website is perfect. (I mean, the first image upon visiting their homepage is a matzah house. A matzah house!!) Here you can create your own Haggadah by answering some questions and choosing some custom content like activities and texts. Then you can print out your book or even use it on your iPad and share with others. They’ve got options for interfaith families, kid-friendly seders, and much, much more. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 23 2012

2012 Passover Shopping Guide

By at 12:35 pm

Besides buying those giant value packs of matzah and a nice brisket from the Jewish deli, there are other things you might want to have on hand, especially if you’re hosting a seder. There is a lot–a lot!–out there in the way of seder plates, Passover toys, and more, so while this list is by no means exhaustive, here are a few of our favorite things on the market this year. If you’ve made some great finds this year that we missed, let us know in the comments!

Seder Plates:

Maybe you use the same seder plate that’s been handed down in your family for generations, and if so, that’s great! We love family traditions. But, if you’re looking for a change this Passover, there is quite the selection of seder plates out there to fit all styles and budgets. Jonathan Adler’s “Futura” plate ($150) is made with porcelain and real gold accents and has a very nice, simple loveliness to it.

jonathan adler seder plate

Or, if you’re tired of your seder plate being so… flat, there is the seder plate tower ($354)!seder tower plateIf you want things to get a little more personal this year, the Etsy shop charlotteandmia offers custom-made seder plates ($36) that would make great presents for the kids, allowing you to choose the color and details of the little cartoon person. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 20 2012

Passover is Coming! And I’m Not Excited!

By at 4:37 pm
trapeze artist

The trapeze and the seder: both a balancing act.

I don’t have to look at a calendar. Lodze, the woman who has helped me clean my house for 25 years, and is by now as much friend as “cleaning lady,” already told me the first week in February that she is starting on my kitchen drawers and cabinets. Lodze is a religious Roman Catholic Pole who had family members who died in Auschwitz.

I don’t like Pesach. I dread it. I feel like I should make the shehecheyanu blessing, thanking God for “sustaining us and bringing us to this time” at the end rather than the beginning of the holiday. I’m grateful when it’s over.

What a confession from a FFB (Frum-From-Birth) woman who has made the seders for about 20 years. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 7 2012

My Son’s Mask

By at 12:45 pm
spiderman praying at western wall

My son isn't the only Spiderman fan this Purim.

Purim is upon us and as we dig around in our closets for the perfect costume, the one that my son would love to wear the most is Spiderman, for sure.

While the whole superhero obsession is relatively new in our household, it has struck with a vengeance! Spiderman is the hero de jour and my son can happily be found spinning his web and climbing atop all manner of furniture in our house.

The need to summon superpower strength isn’t something that he does only in the privacy of our own home. Tamir is a pretty confident and social child. When he approaches other kids who aren’t interested in playing with him he cops a “meanie” face and often instructs them to “go to jail.” While he does so many things that I love, this set of activities is among my least favorite. Where is my sweet boy who runs toward me asking for a “hug and kiss Ima” anytime I leave the house? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 29 2012

Pop Quiz: Purim

By at 11:46 am

If you haven’t noticed, Purim is coming! There will be cookies and costumes and graggers and maybe even a little booze, but do you know the reasoning behind this holiday craziness?

See how much you know about the story of Purim and the ways we celebrate it today with our brand spanking new Purim quiz. Challenge your friends, and let us know how you do! And remember, Purim begins on the evening of March 7th, next Wednesday.

Take the Purim quiz now!

Feb 24 2012

Purim’s Coming: What Are You Gonna Wear?

By at 10:23 am

boy in dog costumeDid you know that Purim is already almost upon us? It starts on the evening of Wednesday, March 7, which means you’ve got just under two weeks to prepare. How does one prepare for Purim, you ask?

Besides baking (or buying) hamantaschen and stocking up on liquor (because you are supposed to get drunk), the best way to get you and the kids into the Purim spirit is to prepare some costumes. You could go with a classic like Queen Esther or King Ahasueros, or go with your own thing. It’s Purim, anything goes! Check out these tips from Mayim Bialik on how to make your own Purim costume on the cheap, and then let us know:

What are your costume ideas for this Purim?

If you’ve got pictures from last year or a sneak peak of this year’s costume, send them to and we’ll be sure to share with the Kveller community. Also be on the lookout for our 2nd annual Purim Costume Contest, all the more reason to take this whole costume thing very seriously!


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