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May 11 2012

Pop Quiz: All About Moms

By at 9:33 am

How do Israeli’s celebrate Mother’s Day? What’s the deal with single mothers by choice? Just how many working moms are there? In honor of Mother’s Day coming up (this Sunday!), we wanted to see how well you know your Jewish mother stuff.

Our quick Mom Quiz is ready and waiting for you. And if you do well, you can officially call yourself an expert mom.

Take the Mom Quiz today!

May 10 2012

Contest: 6 Word #MamalehDay Story

By at 1:33 pm

#mamalehdayIt’s unavoidable, whether you think it’s the perfect opportunity to express your gratitude, or just another Hallmark holiday. Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and we thought we’d have a little fun by hosting yet *another* contest. This one is for all you Tweeters out there, so get your hashtag fingers ready:

We’re looking for six word stories, all about moms. It could be your favorite Mother’s Day memory, an ode to being a mother, or an ode to your own mother. Whatever it is, we’re asking for it in just six words. Here’s an example (please don’t judge):

Gave me life, and homemade cookies.

To enter the contest, tweet your 6-word story @kveller along with the hashtag #MamalehDay. We’ll choose a favorite by Monday morning, and the winner will receive–drum roll please–a copy of Mayim Bialik’s book, Beyond the Sling!

May 9 2012

My Mother, In the Pictures

By at 3:01 pm

sarah tuttle-singer mother photographsIn honor of Mother’s Day, one of our writers reflects on the lasting memories of her mom.

My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November, 1999. For a while, chemotherapy was her powerful ally, and she won battle after battle against the invader cells. By May, 2002, she was proclaimed “cancer free,” and went traipsing off to Provence with my dad and his cousins for a 10-day adventure, where they enjoyed the flowering countryside, good food, and fine wine.

She returned happy and very, very tired. When the fatigue didn’t lift after a few weeks, she was back at her oncologist’s office, bravely facing the terrible news: The cancer was back. With a vengeance. So, she and her oncologist tried to hit back twice as hard, until she developed a life-threatening toxicity to the only drug that was kicking cancer’s ass. But, instead of giving up, she entered a hard-core clinical trial–one that left her skin blistered and peeling, her nights suffocated by excruciating dreams, and her unusually keen memory foggy and addled. Read the rest of this entry →

May 8 2012

The Grunt Work of Motherhood

By at 10:36 am

broomsIn my speechwriting days, whenever I was on deadline and stuck for inspiration, I’d turn on the radio and look through famous quotations. Given their way with words, the three men I always turned to first were Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Martin Luther King, Jr. I never had a favorite quotation, but in recent months, I’ve found myself frequently mulling this King comment:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 3 2012

Mother’s Day Giveaway: Free Tee!

By at 9:32 am

mamaleh t-shirtWe already told you about the great deal we’ve got going with Rabbi’s Daughters, in which you buy one Mamaleh/Bubeleh necklace, you get one free. We’re also excited to announce a bonus giveaway, in which one lucky winner will get a free Mamaleh t-shirt. Now that’s what we call a great Mamaleh’s Day.

All you have to do to enter is LIKE us on Facebook (if you don’t already, of course) and then drop us a note in the comments below saying hi, or whatever you’d like to say to us. We’ll choose a random winner on Wednesday, May 9th, so enter today!

May 1 2012

Mother’s Day Giveaway: Free Mamaleh & Bubeleh Necklaces

By at 3:00 pm

mamaleh necklaceWhoa there! Did you know that Mother’s Day is coming up, really really soon? It’s Sunday, May 13th, to be exact, and in honor of this sort-of holiday, we’re offering Kveller readers a great deal from one of our favorite websites, Rabbi’s Daughters.

If you are looking for the perfect gift for your wife or your own mother (or yourself!), the Yiddish gift fairy (that’s a thing, right?) has made all your dreams come true with these “Mamaleh” and “Bubeleh” necklaces. They come in either gold or sterling silver, and for the entire month of May, if you buy one, you can get a second one FREE. Or, if you don’t want two awesome necklaces, you can get a FREE Yiddish sayings travel bag with the purchase of a necklace.

To claim your prize, when you’re checking out, be sure to write “Kveller” in the comments section, and then indicate which free gift you would like (if you choose a necklace, be sure to tell them which one you’d like).

Happy Mother’s Day and happy shopping to all you mamalehs out there.

May 6 2011

Give To a Mom Who Really Needs It

By at 1:42 pm

Note: This is the do-gooder complement to our post on stuff to buy for moms.

“Mother’s Day–that’s such a Hallmark holiday,” skeptics have said. Well, listen up and listen good. Every other day is Children’s Day, or Husband’s Day. So you can suck it up for a day.

I kid (kind of). The sad part about Mother’s Day is that people should be appreciating mothers every day–having a designated day for tributes sort of belittles the other days. Let it be known here that my mother is the most amazing woman I know, but more on that another time. There couldn’t be enough tributes to her.

The Mother’s Day Movement was founded by six women who were surprised to learn that $14 billion was spent in the US alone in 2010 on Mother’s Day celebrations including flowers, cards, and meals.  That’s a ton of cash.

“Given the number of women and children suffering globally, and here at home, it is time for everyone to rethink this holiday and donate a portion of Mother’s Day spending to those less fortunate,” the movement’s website reads.

I can get on board with that–note that it said “a portion.”  I don’t need flowers or a card (unless crappily made by my kids–take that, Amy Chua!), but I’m not skipping a meal here. Though I will be honest and say that the idea of my gravity-impaired 6 and 7 year olds serving breakfast in bed has me mentally fast-forwarding to the vision of myself cleaning pulpy orange juice and coffee out of my duvet cover. We can skip that too, kids.

My jokey nature aside, there are mothers around the world who do not have the same chances as we do at a good and healthy life for themselves or providing for their children.  This year, let’s take a moment to honor and pay tribute to them, giving a little tzedakah to make the world a better place for mothers and children.

A few ideas of where to turn to make a difference in mothers’ lives:

1. Google your local chapter of Jewish Family Services, which provides social services to out-of-work mothers, victims of abuse, and others with a wide range of support services.

2. The National Council for Jewish Women works in both the US and Israel on behalf of womens’ rights. In Israel, for example, they are supporters of coalitions that aim to ensure the rights and well-being of Israeli women, children, and families, including the Israel Forum of Foundations, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arabs, and the International Coalition on Agunot Rights (ICAR).

3. Vday.org is a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls, promoting creative events to increase awareness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.

4. The R Baby Foundation is the first and only not-for-profit foundation uniquely focused on saving babies lives through improving pediatric emergency care. R Baby Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that babies, including those in the first month of life suffering from viral infections and other infectious diseases, receive the highest quality of care and service through supporting life-saving pediatric training, education, research, treatment, and equipment.

5. The Fistula Foundation helps women in poor countries to have surgery to fix the damage done to their continence by obstructed labor. The foundation lets donors cover the cost for one woman’s free, safe fistula surgery–either as a one-time donation of $450 or a monthly donation of $37.50.

6. Half The Sky is an amazing book written by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. Their Half The Sky movement lays out an agenda for the world’s women and three major abuses: sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape, and maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute.

Local Strawberries & Cake: Happy (Jewish) Mothers Day

By at 1:22 pm

When I grew up my mother was kind of anti-mother’s day. She thought it was an overly commercialized holiday for buying cloying greeting cards and celebrating an old school non-feminist type of 50′s motherhood which did not reflect her. So we sort of ignored the day and sometimes even mocked it a tiny bit. But I have to say, now that I am a proud Mama, the idea is growing on me.

This year, Mother’s Day falls when Passover is still fresh in our minds. Passover sort of ends with a whimper, at least in my house we do not celebrate the last night. When we do go back to eating bread, it is without fanfare even though it could represent the end of our desert journey and settling into our new home. And Mother’s Day seems all about celebrating the home front, so this year our chametzy (non-Kosher for Passover) Mother’s Day cake could provide a kind of bookend to Passover.

This year, Mother’s Day also comes with the first strawberries and cut flowers on our farm. We will hold a mini-strawberry and flower sale for neighbors, but mostly feast on the first fruits at home. Until our CSA starts next week, we will enjoy an abundance of fresh strawberries and enough flowers to compete with a royal wedding … if we were to go out and cut them.

So, here is my reclaimed, Jewish Mother’s day suggestion! Try to find a local farm for the first local strawberries and flowers. Fill your vases and bowls with fresh flowers and fruit. And then enjoy the fresh strawberries with a very leavened and chametzy cake to celebrate motherhood, liberation, farms, spring and whatever is good in your life this season. Happy Mother’s Day!

Tanya Tolchin is a manager at Israeli Harvest,  a farmer at Jug Bay Market Garden, a writer, an environmentalist, and most importantly a mom.  She has a new blog:  On the Lettuce Edge.

Why Are Moms So Embarrassing?

By at 11:14 am

Did your mom make you cringe like mine did?

Growing up, I never realized how much I needed or appreciated my mom. I always saw her caring, helpful, and protective ways as meddling, overprotective, and overbearing, especially when I was a teenager.  It wasn’t until I had my son that I realized how much we really do need our moms, even when we don’t know it.

Looking back, although my mom always tried to help, her motherly ways were, quite frankly, embarrassing at the time.  What teenager wants their mother in the middle of everything?

Take, for the example, the time I was 16 and invited a few friends over from my B’nai B’rith youth group. When word got out that my parents’ home was the infamous Fast Times At Ridgemont High home and that the pool was the very pool that Phoebe Cates dove into, a few extra people showed up. (Admittedly, it was kind of cool to live there.) I now had over 100 of my closest “friends” come to the party. And no, I was not a popular kid, but having a famous house made it so…for one night. Instead of being angry, my mom invited everyone in (and around, since the house was not that big). She got my father involved and the two of them began clearing out our fridge and making sandwiches for everyone, because, in her words, she didn’t want anyone to leave our home hungry. Can you say embarrassing?

Or then there was my 19th birthday when I stretched the truth a bit and told my parents that my friends were taking me out for dinner and a movie. In reality, my girlfriends and I were going to hang out at the Jewish fraternity house and most likely do nothing (read: watch a bunch of lazy guys play pool or video games. The things we find amusing in college, right?) My parents were clueless as to where I was really going on my birthday – well, at least that’s what I thought until I reached the frat house.

When I walked in, there was a huge birthday cake on the table, complete with paper plates and decorations–the whole nine yards. I was amazed that my “brothers” remembered my birthday. Turns out, the cake was not from my fellow brethren, but from my mother. Yes, my mother! She had the cake delivered so that no one would forget my birthday and I wouldn’t be disappointed. I stood there flushed, matching the color of the little frosting hearts on my cake, as everyone whispered and chuckled while enjoying my cake. I felt as though there was a big “L” stamped on my forehead. Loser! Just how cool did I look now?

My mom has always been there. During the times I did not want her there, and more recently the times that I have. When I gave birth to my son, my mom was there the entire time, right outside my door. Then she stayed overnight with me, my husband and our newborn son, sleeping upright on the chair by my side. She never left the hospital–or my room, for that matter. When my husband went on the road (he’s a professional musician) shortly after my son was born, she stayed with me one night holding my son for the entire night, never putting him down, just handing him over to me when it was time to nurse, simply so that I could get some rest.

Five years later and she continues to meddle, only I understand it a little better now. Her overprotective ways don’t seem so overprotective any more, but rather natural–the way it should be. She has taught me how to be the best mom I can be, and also what to avoid so I don’t embarrass my son. And I know that when I have a cake delivered to his frat house, he will appreciate it…well, not at that moment, but someday.

So, let’s cut our moms some slack. Happy Mother’s Day!

May 5 2011

Mother’s Day Shopping Guide

By at 10:08 am

Spring is here, flowers are blooming, people with allergies are sneezing, and Mother’s Day is almost here! We are a big fan of this holiday (do we really need to explain why?) so we wanted to share some of our gift ideas for mothers and grandmothers. We’re taking a look at all of the wonderful gifts that can help your parents kvell over their grandchildren, and some of them won’t even cost you a dime! Remember, Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 8th.

For Grandma (or Bubbe or Nana or Whatever You Call Her)

This year, we’re going digital. You know that your parents’ favorite activity is gushing over how adorable and brilliant and talented your kids are, so bring your Mom into the modern age with these digital kvell-machines.

1. Digital picture frame. Why show off just one measly photo when you can offer an entire slideshow? Digital frames are easy to use, and you can have a fun time going through all those baby photos with your Mom. Even better, they’re on sale at Best Buy.

2. Kindle or other e-reader. I think a mom of just about any age would appreciate this gift. It can be especially handy for grandparents because of it’s large print feature. Make sure to get one of the covers that comes with a booklight installed for easy reading anywhere. Amazon’s even got some Mother’s Day deals going on to boot.

3. Set up an account. The internet is sort of the ideal bragging space, but depending on how tech-savvy your Mom is, she might need some help getting started. You can set her up with an account on a photosharing site like Flickr or PhotoBucket so she can easily see and share pictures of the grandchildren. Or, if you’re brave, why not introduce her to the lovely world of Facebook? Sure, she might “like” all your posts and write embarrassing things on your wall, but she’ll appreciate seeing the instant baby updates. And if she lives far away and needs more kvelling fodder, a Skype account where she can actually see and hear the baby could be an invaluable gift.

4. Cookbooks. Okay, cookbooks aren’t digital (unless they’re on a Kindle), but your kids will be on the winning end of this gift when Grandma cooks them a delicious meal. The Book of New Israeli Food is a gorgeous coffee-table-size book. Adventures in Bubby Irma’s Kitchen is as delightful as that picture of Bubby Irma. I’ve never read Love and Knishes but it wins for best title. And if you need some more suggestions, check out this list at The Jew and the Carrot.

For You

You may want to start dropping hints to your family about that gaping hole in your jewelry box soon. If you’re too busy being an awesome mom to even think about what you want for Mother’s Day, we did a quick poll on Facebook to hear what presents our readers would like. We got multiple votes for gift certificates to things like a housecleaning service, gardening, or a pedicure. Then of course there’s always jewelry. (Hint to any dads reading: you can never go wrong with jewelry, especially when you let your wife pick it out.) And if you can find time to read a novel, My Hollywood by Mona Simpson is about a mother and her nanny and is a wonderful read.

Of course, you should also prepare for those most amazing of gifts–hand drawn pictures from your kids and greeting cards with scribbled hearts inside and multiple hugs and kisses and just a day for you and your family to be together.

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