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Nov 21 2012

Free Stuff Alert: Latkes, Schmatkes!–A Hanukkah CD

By at 11:31 am

latkes, schmatkes lauren mayer giveawayWe know, we know, Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet and we’re already talking Hanukkah. But the holiday falls early this year (first night=December 8th), and we’re here to get you into the Hanukkah mood. What better way than with a little Hanukkah music?

Songwriter/comedian/nice Jewish girl Lauren Mayer tackles the challenges of the season–including what it’s like to be Jewish in a secular Christmas season–through musical humor with her CD Latkes, Schmatkes! Songs range from “Don’t They Know (Not Everyone Does Christmas)” and “A Good Old Down Home Country Chanukah” to “The Jew-In-A-Gentile-World Blues.” You can buy the album on Amazon, iTunes, Picklehead Music, and CDBaby.

If you’d like to rock out with Lauren and your kids, we’re giving away a copy to one lucky winner. To enter, sign up for our newsletter by clicking here. Once you’ve done that, let us know by entering a comment below. If you’re already signed up for our newsletter, just skip to the commenting part. We will choose a winner next Monday, November 26th, so enter today. Good luck!

Sep 19 2012

My 3-Year-Old is Sexy & She Knows It

By at 11:20 am
lmfao band


My husband and I have been disagreeing about the music we let our kids listen to in the car. Bryan’s concerned that kids today know too much too soon. Keeping their song choices “wholesome,” he continues to argue, will help them stay innocent and, well, wholesome a little longer.

At first I said he was being uptight. Furthermore, we have four kids ranging from 10  months to 8 years old. They all have different tastes and interests in music. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 29 2012

I’m In Love With the Jewish Justin Bieber

By at 2:56 pm

edon pichot america's got talent orthodox singerI maxed out on “reality” TV about 12 years ago, when my addiction to the then-new Survivor and its ilk bordered on unseemly. When you’re sneaking out of your law firm job in the evenings to watch “Temptation Island” at someone’s apartment, or cooking elaborate French dishes to serve at your “Joe Millionaire” finale party, (hypothetically speaking, of course) it’s pretty clear that you need help.

But now, I am in love. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 24 2012

12 Items to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

By at 1:36 pm

What to pack in your hospital bag for giving birthThis is the most pregnant I’ve ever been and I’m simultaneously elated and undeniably FULL of baby.

My doctor commented last week that I have a “sizable guy” (which I’ve chosen to ignore) and my husband lovingly pointed out that over the last few days I’ve developed “marshmallow feet.” Mmmm, marshmallows. I might look like a weeble, but I’m so happy to have made it this far–on my feet and still enjoying weekly prenatal yoga classes. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 12 2012

Camping with My Kids & A Whole Bunch of Jam Bands

By at 4:23 pm

mountain jam festivalEarlier this year, I cooked up a plan for my family to camp out at Mountain Jam, a weekend-long music festival. My husband and I love live jam band music–it is one of the experiences which bonded us in our early days together. But family life is busy, and we don’t go to many shows. Our children knew about our passion for music and for outdoorsy fun. So, in June, with all three kids finally potty trained, we headed for Hunter Mountain Ski Resort with the whole family.

I was not sure how we would manage to keep the crew happy while roughing it on the mountain with thousands of hipped-out music lovers. Even the expense was hard to justify; a quick calculation revealed that suspending our housecleaning help could cover the cost. I was prepared to mop and scrub for a few months if my family was willing to join the jam! Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 22 2012

Free Fun Stuff for the Family

By at 2:03 pm

Dear Kveller Readers Outside of New York:

I know. You’re tired of me writing about all of the amazing things that happen in New York City for kids. The thing is, it’s really hard not to tell our New York readers about great programs when they’re happening right here in our backyard. So I’ll make a deal with you–tell me about the awesome programs happening in your neck of the woods, and I’ll write about them too, so you don’t feel left out. Meanwhile, the rest of this is for the New Yorkers. Sorry!

Dear New York Kveller readers,

Ignore that note above–we all know that NYC is the center of the universe for everything, Jewish parenting included. After all, that’s why our Kveller offices are here. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 15 2011

Pop Quiz: Jewish Music for Kids

By at 8:42 am

Do you and your baby have an ear for music? Is the Hava Nagila your jam?

We’ve got a new pop quiz to test just how much you know about Jewish music for babies and toddlers. Taking the quiz is fun and quick, and it just may give you some ideas for rounding out what we’re sure is a very admirable music collection.

Once you’re done, check out our entire list of quizzes here.

Take the QUIZ now!

Nov 3 2011

Ke$ha Made Me Feel Old

By at 12:49 pm

ke$haI like to think I am a hip young mom. I am 35. I love Neko Case and the Avett Brothers. I am not scared of people with tattoos. I enjoy drinking and despise “the system.” I may not know much about technology or pop culture, but again: I like to think I am a hip young mom.

Then last month’s Rolling Stone came.

My husband likes Rolling Stone, but somewhere in the 1990s, it seemed the emphasis shifted to a lot more half-naked women being featured, while the monthly editorials tend to be on either a beautiful girl being murdered or the latest rich white kids who were peddling drugs and hiring prostitutes for their friends. The day my older son asked, at not even 4 years old, “Mama, why is that woman in her underwear on this magazine cover?” was the day I told my husband that I was no longer a fan of Rolling Stone lying around the house. I thumb through it once in a while, usually annoyed by the misogyny that seems to dominate its ads and articles, and occasionally amused by candid photos and lengthy interviews with Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, and other such musicians that 35-year-old people sometimes like.

Back to last month’s issue.

Last month’s issue featured famous musicians listing their favorite music for different scenarios. Ke$ha (I feel so silly using a dollar sign for the “s” in her name, but whatever) was to list her favorite “Party Starters.” Sounds innocent enough, right?

Not so much.

Ke$ha, in one fell swoop, made me feel like an old lame mama. Here’s my top 5 reasons why. And for the record (by which I am not referring to an LP), I have nothing against her personally. I know nothing about her except that “Tik Tok” is sort of addictive.

1) Old people like cursing to be for cursing. Ke$ha uses curse words in more than half of her list. I don’t have a “no cursing” thing (I am, after all, hip and young, or so I thought), but I also disdain cursing when it’s blatantly unnecessary and non-specific. So Ke$ha says, for example, that a certain song makes her ”want to go fucking crazy,” but it’s unclear to me why “fucking” has become synonymous with the word “totally” or “completely” or “really.” Any of those words would not have made me feel old and lame, because some songs make me “want to go really crazy.” Why so much cursing, this old hag wonders.

waynes world2) Old people are elitist. Wayne’s World is her “favorite movie.” Okay, that’s just a knife in my heart.  I am not trying to be a snob, but I clearly am being an old lady when I want to say, “That’s your favorite movie!? Of all the movies in the world that one could love, Wayne’s World is your favorite!? It’s the best movie ever? It is so entertaining, so thrilling, so moving, that it gets the word “favorite” to modify it?!” Oy.

3) Old people like lofty heroes. Iggy Pop is one of her heroes. I don’t even know how to touch this one. I mean, he is innovative for sure. He is outrageous. He has a distinctive sense of style and music. But one of her HEROES!? Again, could I feel any older to be wondering why Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, or–for the love of God–Moses is not her hero?! Old people like heroes to be people like that. Or at least Bono.

4) Old people like to keep private things private. One of the songs she lists because she first heard it “while getting laid in the back of a car.” Now, I have been in the back of cars. I used to be young and sometimes young people do fun things in cars. But I would never in a magazine list a song as my favorite in reference to it first being heard as I was “getting laid in the back of a car.” Old people think those details are best left for private conversations.

the maccabeats

The Maccabeats

5) Old people like knitting. Activities she cites as part of her life, both past and present include: going to strip clubs, destroying hotel rooms while being “hammered,” and her and her friends giving each other “tattoos” on the inside of each other’s lips while drunk, ending in “a disgusting, bloody mess.” Old people don’t much like women going to strip clubs as an activity, destroying hotel rooms, or carving things on the insides of sensitive mucous membranes while drunk (or sober for that matter). We, apparently, like knitting, listening to Jewish a cappella music (preferably the YU Maccabeats), and studying the Talmud. Ahem.

I don’t even know what else to say. I guess I am officially old for those 5 reasons and more. Ke$ha says so. Totally completely really old. Dagnabit.

Nov 1 2011

No Hanukkah Love From the Biebs

By at 1:24 pm
justin bieber with a menorah

This is photoshopped, in case it's not obvious.

Here’s a joke for you: what do a Jewish manager, a Hebrew tattoo, and the Shema have to do with Hanukkah? Apparently nothing, if you ask Justin Bieber, whose debut Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe drops today. And according to his inappropriately blunt manager, his testicles have dropped too, rendering him deeper than ever! Yay?

Justin sings two octaves lower on his new album, but for you pre-pubescent falsetto lovers, he’s also belting it out in his girly voice with Mariah. He’s a favorite amongst tribe members, but overlooking even a driedel mention could be detrimental for his rep in the holy land.

Me? I’ll be adding JB’s holiday mash up to my collection alongside Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers Once Upon A Christmas and NKOTB Funky, Funky Christmas (don’t judge).  When I converted to Judaism, I surrendered three boxes of snowman ornaments, my Jesus cookie cutter (because Jesus cookies are delicious), and our annual tree-cutting – on ONE condition – I was able to keep, AND LISTEN TO, all of my holiday music.  I am totally THAT PERSON who programs my car radio to the Christmas station the day after Thanksgiving and belts out jingle bells with the car windows down in the middle of a snow storm. I’m hardcore, people. You couldn’t pry my precious holiday CD collection out of my steely grip if you promised me chocolate hands and painless childbirth.

I can’t tell you the number of people (including my husband) who have tried to tell me, “There really is some beautiful Hanukkah music out there, you should try it.” Does it include a boy drumming? Perhaps a serene chariot ride through the woods to your bubbe’s house? Does it talk about winter or snowy wonderlands? No. No it does not. And while there are a lot of things about Judaism that are just as special, if not better than Americanized Christian celebrations, winter holiday music ain’t one of them. Admittedly, I do own a few Hanukkah albums, including the Adam Sandler classic and my favorite Hanukkah song is by far, “Ocho Kandelikas” (I dare you to listen to that song without shaking your hips!) but there really isn’t a comparison and probably explains why my husband plays The Maccabeats “Candelight” on repeat for eight nights. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 24 2011

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Chanale

By at 11:02 am

A mom, a rock star, and an Orthodox Jew.

Chanale Fellig is a mom of two, and a Jewish rock star. But a very specific kind of Jewish rock star. Chanale is Orthodox, and follows a law called kol isha, prohibiting men from hearing women sing. We’ll let her tell you more about that in her own words below.

But even though she only plays for 50% of the population, she has a huge following. She’s just come out with her fifth CD and her first music video, called Taking Over My Heart. We’re kind of fascinated by her and we bet you will be, too.

1. What inspired you to get into music?

Growing up with six girls, we spent a lot of time singing and dancing in our kitchen to all kinds of Jewish music. Back in the eighties, practically all the Jewish music was by male soloists or boys choirs. Then Ruti Navon, a superstar from Israel, became a Ba’alat Teshuva (converted to Orthodox Judaism) and began performing for all-female venues. The first time I saw her perform, I was absolutely amazed.  I remember being mesmerized by the glamor, the passion and the confidence she had. And it was all in the realm of modesty! She wore a great big curly wig, sang with enthusiasm and made all these women so excited and happy. All of 10 years old, and I wanted in.

2. Why perform just for women and girls? Can you explain kol isha to our readers and why it’s meaningful to you?

In my opinion, singing for an audience of only women is the greatest experience a female singer can have. Women connect faster, emote deeper, and enjoy more thoroughly when they are in a room filled with only women. As a songwriter I write songs specifically with my female fans in mind so I can perform them completely focused on each and every woman and girl in the room. I don’t consider kol isha a restriction, but rather a privilege. My songs (“Perfect By Design”, “My Business”, “Her Home”) have always been custom-designed for women and I love this niche in Jewish music.

3. How did having kids change your music?

Having children has cracked my heart wide open and I am sure my fans will notice that in my latest album. My kids have taught me that life is precious and that motherhood is an all-encompassing experience that I cannot separate from my music. I sing from my heart, and my heart is filled to the brink with love for my children. So that’s what you’re gonna get from me right now.

4. Clearly you love your kids, but are there any annoying habits they’ve recently acquired that drive you nuts?

In the last few weeks, their new shtick is running out of bed, (holding hands), giggling like maniacs, like two partners in crime. I think they believe I will be less angry if they come out together, a united front, and although I can’t get enough of their cute faces, I honestly would like them to get into bed and STAY THERE!

5. On a purely superficial level, what are the advantages and disadvantages of wearing a sheitel (wig)? Are there no bad hair days?

As a girl my hair was always long and curly and had to be revived every morning or stuffed into a ponytail. My curly wig rests comfortably on a stand, and is not subjected to all the “dirty work” parenting consists of. (Really? Do I have to expand?) Most days, a wig is the answer to my prayers, instantly glamorizing my denim-skirts-and-hoodies look. As the official face of Milano wigs, I am working with them on customizing something super special for on-stage, when I need all the help I can get transforming from Mom to Star. So in my world, sheitels are a lifesaver.

6. Are you your daughters’ favorite singer? Or have they fallen to the way of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber?

My daughters are definitely fans of their mom’s music but I can’t say they haven’t been exposed to a little Taylor Swift on the side.  I AM guilty of telling them she is Jewish, though…


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