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Sep 8 2014

How Queen Elsa Helps My Anxious Daughter Let It Go

By at 2:01 pm

Princess-wand

Just like millions of little girls and boys across this country, my daughter is pretty enthused about the movie “Frozen.” Obsessed, really. She runs through the hallways with her long blue cape (or, more specifically, my formerly-favorite scarf that I got on our honeymoon to Italy) flowing in waves from her shoulders, leaping and singing “for the first time in forever….” She has refused to be called anything but Queen Elsa at dinner on more than one occasion. Every Lego tower built is now “The Frozen Ice Castle.”

But, I think for her, singing, “Let it Go” is more than just about being a girly 4-year-old who is embracing her high-heeled-fancy-shmancy-princess-loving stage. For Noa, “Let It Go” has become an anthem.

At 3 years old, Noa was diagnosed with anxiety. She’d always had a rough time: Breastfeeding was a struggle, complete with emergency weaning at nine months, Noa refusing to let anyone but me hold her for the first full year of her life, nutritional therapy because she wouldn’t eat, and the list goes on. Now it’s clear to us that she has some sensory issues, too. Noa had been a fussy baby, but at 3, her meltdowns seemed completely unmanageable and out of control. We couldn’t predict what would set her off. Once triggered, these meltdowns would last up to and sometimes over an hour. We could be anywhere and she would explode. Like a wild animal fighting for her life, Noa would scream, hit, kick, and slam her knees to the floor. We couldn’t connect with her, couldn’t reach her. She didn’t want to be held. Her eyes wouldn’t focus. She couldn’t speak. We just had to let her rage. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 4 2014

Good News For “Frozen” Fans: A Sequel!

By at 2:58 pm

Frozen

Just when you thought the “Frozen” frenzy was dying down, Disney has announced that it will release a “Frozen” sequel short film, bringing Elsa, Olaf, and Anna back to the big screen.

In the film, appropriately called “Frozen Fever,” Elsa and Olaf set out to throw Anna the best birthday ever, but Elsa’s icy powers threaten to derail their plans.

If you don’t want to wait until spring to get your “Frozen” fix, ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” also plans to do a “Frozen”-themed episode this season, bringing the characters of the beloved Disney movie to live action form. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2014

Ricki Lake’s New Documentary Shows a Whole Lot of Boobs

By at 1:30 pm

Rikki-Lakes

Since becoming a mom, Ricki Lake has been cranking out feminist-y documentaries about birth and family planning like it’s nobody’s business.

In 2008, she partnered with director Abby Epstein to make a documentary about homebirth and midwivery called “The Business of Being Born,” followed up by a well-received book about birthing options titled “Your Best Birth.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 14 2014

Three Lauren Bacall Scenes That Prove She Was Not Your Average Jewish Mom

By at 10:04 am

lauren-b

Lauren Bacall, who died this past Tuesday at the age of 89, was a model, an actress, a movie star… and a Jewish mother.

Born Betty Joan Perske in the Bronx to a Romanian mother and a father whose parents emigrated from Poland, she had three children herself, Stephen and Leslie with Humphrey Bogart, and Sam with Jason Robards. Her stage name, Bacall, was actually her mother’s maiden name. (She is also a cousin of Shimon Peres on the Perske side.)

In her autobiography, Bacall recalled being fired from an early modeling job because she was Jewish. It was the reason she didn’t tell the reportedly anti-Semitic director Howard Hawks about it, and why she allowed the studio’s PR department to claim that their new star was a descendant of some of America’s oldest families. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 13 2014

The Best Parenting Advice From Robin Williams Movies

By at 10:52 am

Robin-Williams

Many of us who grew up watching Robin Williams in so many dazzling roles are left reeling at his death at age 63 and the tragic circumstances surrounding it. It’s odd to think that a man who brought so much joy to so many people was quietly struggling with such severe depression, and a sobering reminder that mental illness can touch anyone, no matter how seemingly blessed and glittering the externals might appear.

Like other children, I watched “Aladdin” with rapt attention when it came out in 1992, and became an instant Robin Williams fan at age 6–though I only put a face to the Genie the following year when Williams starred in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Since then, I’ve followed his career, along with a few million other people, and the canon of work Williams left behind is vast and the stuff of cultural legends. A few of the movies in which he starred have taken on an added meaning for me since I became a parent, and in re-watching some clips in the wake of Williams’ death, I found two parenting tidbits from his movies to be particularly powerful.

First up, in what is generally considered a lighthearted comedy, “Mrs. Doubtfire” actually contains one of the most moving monologues I’ve ever seen Robin Williams deliver in character and certainly one of the most touching discourses about parenting from any movie I can easily recall (and I watch a lot of movies). Towards the end of the film, the judge presiding over the custody case between Williams’ character, Daniel Hillard, and his ex-wife Miranda (played by Sally Field), asks whether Daniel has any closing remarks to make to stake a claim for partial custody of his children. In response, and with reference to his cross-dressing antics, Daniel says this: Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 5 2014

I Was Embarrassed of My Jewish Looks–Until I Saw “Dirty Dancing”

By at 3:58 pm

Dirty-dancing

I watched “Dirty Dancing” with my daughter the other night. It was the first time she had seen it and probably my 10th.

I was super excited for our girls’ night–we bought candy, made some popcorn and changed into our pajamas–but I also felt some pressure. What if she hates the movie and thinks it’s corny and old-fashioned? Maybe next time, then, she’d ask a friend over to watch a movie instead of me. Maybe next time she’d choose to watch “Gossip Girl” on Netflix by herself. I know she loves our time together as much as I do, but I feel the fragility of these moments–of an almost 14-year-old–of a blossoming young woman who will soon begin her own journey of self-discovery apart from me.

“Dirty Dancing” was a movie that had a profound impact on me back in 1987. I was 19 then, just a year or two older than Baby (played by Jennifer Grey). It was the first time I had seen a movie that featured a Jewish girl as the romantic lead. I thought Baby was just like me because she had a Jewish nose and frizzy, curly hair. In reality she looked nothing like me. We were alike, however, in the absence of certain physical attributes. Neither of us had long golden blond hair, small button noses, big blue eyes, or full pouty lips. In fact, girls like me and Baby were typically the best friend of the pretty girl who dates the good-looking popular guy. Jewish girls like us didn’t get the cute guys. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 28 2014

SEE: Israeli Actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

By at 1:07 pm

Director Zack Snyder revealed the first photo of Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman via Twitter on Saturday. Gadot is most recognized for her role as “Giselle” in the last three “Fast & Furious” movies. Before becoming an actress and model, Gal was a sports trainer for the IDF.

In other words, she’s pretty badass.

But even more powerful than the image of Gadot as Wonder Woman is this Facebook post of the actress and her daughter lighting Shabbat candles accompanied by a prayer for the IDF and the people of Israel. Just breathtaking.

 

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Jul 24 2014

Talking with Zach Braff, Kate Hudson & Mandy Patinkin of “Wish I Was Here”

By at 1:39 pm

Wish-I-Was-Here

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:

Zach Braff:

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 15 2014

Win a Free “Wish I Was Here” Movie Poster Autographed by Zach Braff

By at 2:17 pm

Zach-braff

If we didn’t know any better, we might have thought Zach Braff’s latest film “Wish I Was Here” was created for the sole purpose of being talked about on Kveller. Topics explored in the movie range from what to do when you can no longer afford to send your kids to Jewish Day School, raising young children while also dealing with the heartache of aging parents, and grappling with different levels of observance and personal beliefs within the same family.

Plus, there’s a dog named Kugel.

In anticipation of the movie’s release on July 18, we’re very excited to host an exclusive giveaway for Kveller readers. We’ll be giving away an official movie poster autographed by director and star Zach Braff to three lucky winners.

To enter the giveaway, fill out the form below. We’ll choose three random entrees on Tuesday, July 22. And whether or not you come away a winner, we highly recommend checking out “Wish I Was Here” in a theater near you and letting us know what you think. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Jul 7 2014

Kveller Exclusive: An Interview with Olaf from “Frozen”

By at 2:08 pm

Josh Gad is Olaf from Frozen

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 FrozenI 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 →

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