Oct 13 2014
Rabbi Isaac Saposnik via Camp JRF Website
Rabbi Isaac Saposnik is the Executive Director of Camp JRF, a Reconstructionist sleepaway camp in the Pocono Mountains. Recently, Camp JRF initiated a big push toward inclusion with a capital “I.” Now that campers have returned to school and their parents eagerly fill out forms to sign them up for next summer, Rabbi Saposnik had some time to chat with me about camp, diversity in the American Jewish community, and the importance of asking questions.
What makes Camp JRF different from other Jewish sleepaway camps?
The Reconstructionist movement has always been inclusive, so welcoming gay campers and staff, LGBTQ parents, campers from interfaith families, campers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and physical abilities, is obvious for us. But this year, we took a step back to re-examine our practices because there’s a difference between saying we’re inclusive and actually being inclusive. We want our camp community to reflect the tapestry of the modern Jewish community. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 30 2014
Courtesy Food Network
Last week, we wrote about the talented kippah-clad tween who landed a spot on the teen episode of Food Network’s cooking competition, “Chopped.” Eitan Bernath is a 7th grader at Yavneh Academy Paramus and lives with his parents and 9-year-old brother Yoni in Teaneck, New Jersey. Eitan agreed to sit down with me and talk about his experience on the show and share one of his favorite recipes. Be sure to catch the show, which airs TONIGHT on the Food Network at 10 p.m. EST.
1. How did you figure out that you love cooking?
I got more into it when I was 9.5 or 10. I just helped my mom make dinner. There’s one meal we’d always make with beans and cheese and baked tortilla. Over the past year I really got into it. I made homemade hot sauce, cheese, and cinnabons. Most of it I learned on my own from watching YouTube or Food Network or going on my iPad to look it up. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 18 2014
The Binah School is a new, 21st century all-girls Jewish middle and high school in Sharon, Massachusetts that integrates project-based learning with real world problem solving, text-based Judaic studies, and academic excellence. Founded by two Orthodox women and working mothers, Michal Oshman and Rina Hoffman, the Binah School has already won national attention for its commitment to affordability, research-based methods, and its emphasis on global citizenship in Jewish education.
Can you tell Kveller readers what makes the Binah School different from other schools for Orthodox girls?
The Binah School is a warm and nurturing middle and high school setting for Orthodox girls whose curriculum weaves together academic subjects and traditional, text-based Torah study with learning about social justice issues, independent and small group work, use of arts and technology, and project-based learning. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 20 2014
Stefan Teodosic is the executive director of Beber Camp, Perlman Camp, and the Perlman Retreat Center. Stefan started his career in finance, but decided to change paths on September 11, 2001 after witnessing the World Trade Center collapse. Stefan agreed to sit down with us and tell us why his camps are different from all other camps.
1. Before becoming a camp director, you worked for American Express and were blocks away from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Can you talk about how that day ultimately helped you decide to change paths?
Since I was 16, I knew that I wanted to be a camp director, as it was the single most impactful experience I had growing up. Through college, business school, and my career, I couldn’t shake the idea of being in Jewish camping full time. It bubbled to the surface at times–thoughts about going back to school to get another degree, taking vacation time to work with teens at my old camp, and even thinking about quitting–but it was never more than that to be honest. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 24 2014
As we’ve mentioned before, Zach Braff’s new movie “Wish I Was Here” gives us plenty to talk about here at Kveller. I sat down with three of the film’s stars, Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, and Mandy Patinkin, to talk about their Jewish connection to the movie, being a child no matter how old you are, and the hardest part about playing the role of a dying man. “Wish I Was Here” is now playing in select theaters, and will play nationwide starting tomorrow.
On the role Judaism plays in the film:
My brother Adam and I wrote this, and he’s 10 years older than me. When he was a kid, my parents put him in Yeshiva. By the time they got to me, they downshifted to Conservative and kosher. Both of us have grown up to be adults who organized religion does not work for. We love the jokes, we love the humor, we love the culture, we love the fun of the family gathering. But we don’t relate to anyone giving an eff if I have a bacon double cheeseburger, or a bearded man in the sky judging us. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 7 2014
Zach Braff’s new movie “Wish I Was Here“ gives us plenty to talk about here at Kveller–the film covers everything from the (too high) tuition of Jewish day school to dealing with aging parents. But there was one aspect that was impossible to ignore: among its cadre of impressive actors is Josh Gad, perhaps best known for his voiceover work as the snowman Olaf from Frozen. I was lucky enough to sit down with Gad–a Jewish dad himself–and talk about life as a famous snowman.
Are your kids obsessed with Frozen?
My 3-month-old doesn’t know what the word “frozen” is, let alone the movie. But my 3.5-year-old is obsessed, like the rest of the world.
And she knows that you play Olaf?
She knows I’m Olaf. What’s interesting is that I never needed to tell her I was Olaf. I took her to go see “Monster’s University,” the first movie she ever saw, and they played a teaser for “Frozen,” and it featured me as Olaf, laughing. There was no dialogue. She looks up at the screen and she goes, “Daddy?” She was 2.5 at the time, and I literally turned away and was like, “Yeah, it’s me,” as I started crying. I was like, I can’t deal with this. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 30 2014
Thirteen years ago, a friend gave me a book to read saying that I would love it. And I did. A curvy, Jewish girl who had a neurotic dog and is dating a doctor? Check, check, and check. I felt an immediate kinship with Cannie Shapiro and the woman who created her. With each subsequent book by Jennifer Weiner, I, and thousands of other women, fell deeper in love with her heroines and their creator.
I sat down with Jen to discuss her fantastic new book, “All Fall Down,” about a suburban mommy blogger who succumbs to an addiction to prescription meds, her boyfriend (he loves her kids!) and what makes her kvell (same thing as most of us!).
What was the hardest part of writing “All Fall Down”? Read the rest of this entry →
May 20 2014
It took my husband and I seven years of cohabitation to decide to get married, and another year to decide that we wanted to have a baby. In her newest Kindle Single, “Baby Steps,” author and comedienne Mara Altman attempts to make the same life-changing decision. She interviews experts, crashes a prenatal yoga class, inflicts a practice baby doll on herself and her husband, and wears a pregnancy belly as she hilariously and candidly explores the innards of her biological clock. I appreciate her candor and humor and was thrilled that she agreed to be interviewed for Kveller!
Having done this investigation, do you view parenting differently?
When I was in Colombia there was this little turtle that was in a hotel and I just wanted to keep feeding this turtle fruit. Is that my mothering instinct? Because I’m really enjoying watching this turtle follow this strawberry, does that mean I’d be a good mom? Read the rest of this entry →
May 14 2014
Julie, as a new mother, with first born Rosi.
Rabbi Julie Greenberg is a mother of five, the founder of Mountain Meadow, a camp for children with LGBTQ parents, and was one of the first rabbis in the world to do same-sex weddings, to welcome interfaith couples and families, and to work closely with clergy from other faiths in co-officiations. We recently discussed her latest book, “Just Parenting: Building the World One Family at a Time,” about raising her five children by and large as a single parent with the help of sperm donors, adoption, women lovers, former lovers, and a gay male parenting partner.
She is graciously offering Kveller readers a discount on the book: just use the code “KVELL” at checkout here.
How is this book different from all other parenting books? Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 3 2014
Let’s be honest: parenting a toddler can make even the sanest person among us feel homicidal at times. I should know–I’ve got twins.
Tovah Klein, author of “How Toddlers Thrive,” is an associate professor of psychology at Barnard and director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development. She kindly took a moment from a busy book tour to talk me off the ledge talk to me about her new book and why we just need to shift our perspective.
In “How Toddlers Thrive,” you write about our current “overzealous child-rearing culture” and how the media often confuses parents. I am a confused parent. How will your book help me?
There’s a reason for confusing toddler behavior (defined here as ages 2-5): there’s rapid change going on in the brain in these early years–700 synapses per second are being connected! That’s why toddlers are exhausting to be around. They are trying to figure out who they are and what they need is for us to help guide them in a way that gives them a secure emotional base. Its important to take a step back and try and see the world from a toddler perspective. Read the rest of this entry →