Jul 9 2014
In those halcyon days when I knew everything about parenting (i.e. before I had children), I worked as a television researcher for figure skating. Because figure skating is a sport where potential Olympic contenders have to start intensive instruction at a relatively young age, a good percentage of the athletes I worked with were forced to move away from home in order to work with a championship coach at an elite training center. Some did it while of high school-age, while others were as young as 12 or even 10. Most ended up either living in dormitories or with local host families.
As a childless parenting expert, I knew exactly what I would have done in their mothers’ places. If I ever had a kid who I sincerely believed would benefit from living away from home, whether in the name of athletics or academics or what have you, then, without a doubt, I would relocate with them. (Which is exactly what 1994 Olympic Champion Tara Lipinski’s mother did, leaving her husband behind in their home in Texas, while she and Tara lived in Delaware and Detroit.)
As of this writing, I do not have a future Olympic champion on my hands. Nor do I have one of those kids who enrolls at Harvard or MIT at age 12. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 26 2014
I get a new phone every few months. I’m just cool like that.
Nope. That was a lie. I’m actually kind of a nerd–and I don’t mean the I-have-a-tech-startup-and-wear-hipster-glasses-to-be-ironic kind of nerd. I’m talking the I-go-birdwatching-every-Sunday kind of nerd.
So why do I constantly update my phone? It’s because my wireless communication device of choice is the cheapest stupid phone I can find, and they break so frequently that I have to replace them as often as I calibrate my binoculars. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 12 2014
As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. The other day, I forwarded an email to a local community listserv from a local pizza restaurant offering to donate 20 percent of proceeds to a well-known Jewish charity. And with that, I had ignited a religious firestorm.
The listserv was started by an Orthodox woman in our town and, though I assume initially it was comprised of mostly Orthodox women, word has spread and it has grown to nearly 200 women who span the range of religiosity. I was added to the list about two years ago. For me and for many others, it is our go-to place for community recommendations like babysitters or doctors. All three painters who provided an estimate to paint my house were recommended by women on the listserv. When I was cleaning out my playroom, with a quick email to this group, I found an eager taker for many of the toys my children had outgrown. When a friend from California posted on Facebook that she was looking for a bike to borrow or buy cheaply for use during an upcoming New York visit, I was able to hook her up through this list. People post about anything from asking for a last minute ride to the train station to finding out which streets have been plowed in a snowstorm, from promoting a local Torah class to offering sheitel (wig) cleaning services. Though I have never met many women on the listserv, including its founder, I love that they are out there and that we are all willing to help each other out.
Which is why I was so surprised at the reaction to my email. Within minutes of posting, one woman responded to me directly to point out that this restaurant was not kosher, stating that she didn’t think anyone on the listserv would go there. A few minutes later two more women sent replies to the entire group questioning why I’d send an offer for a non-kosher restaurant. Feeling like I had totally done something “illegal” by the unspoken listserv rules, and not wanting to engage in a religious debate, I quickly sent an email to the entire group: “I am sorry if my email offended anyone. My apologies.” Read the rest of this entry →
May 12 2014
Becoming a parent comes with many challenges, one of the first ones being choosing the perfect name that will honor tradition, sound unique but not too unique, and help form this child’s identity for the rest of her life.
No biggie, right?
We’re here to make this grueling but important process a bit easier with the launch of our very first app, Kveller Jewish Baby Names. Now you can search through our extensive Jewish baby name bank on the go, from the comfort of your iPhone or iPad.
The app lets you scroll through both English, Hebrew, and Yiddish names, learn the names’ origins, keep track of your favorites, and read through fun name lists. And for those feeling extra brave, the “Name My Baby For Me” button does not disappoint.
The best part? The app is FREE! So head on over to the iTunes store today, download, and enjoy!
DOWNLOAD THE FREE APP HERE.
This app was produced with the generous help of G-dcast. Check out some of their other fun apps for kids here.
Apr 30 2014
I am Iliana’s mom. That is my identity, according to all of her friends.
Am I OK with that? Hell, yeah!
I have heard many times that you lose your identity after having a child, as no one calls you by your given name. You are just “someone’s mom.” But I don’t understand the issue with that. I know who I am and I am not worried that I will lose that knowledge just because a bunch of 4-year-olds call me something else. If anything, it makes me blush. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 31 2014
This is not your Bubbe’s haggadah.
This Passover (April 14), technology is your friend. The Bronfman Haggadah is now available as a truly unique app, allowing users to interact with this book through sound, animation, and video, all on a mobile device. Watch behind the scenes videos, hear the words of the haggadah read aloud, and see the artwork come to life.
Some features of the The Bronfman Haggadah app:
1. Users have the option of hearing the text of the haggadah read aloud with page-synced narration, or to turn off the sound for a do-it-yourself Passover seder. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 20 2014
What do Google Glass, a robot, and Purim have in common with one another?
Normally nothing, but this year, they came together in order to create a vibrant and engaging project that enabled a little girl from White Plains, NY to be a part of the communal celebrations.
Hebrew Institute of White Plains is home to around 300 families with many children. Purim is a time that the community comes together and celebrates. We host a carnival, a children’s megillah reading, a beautiful night time megillah reading where adults and children pack our main sanctuary to the brim all decked out in costumes.
Unfortunately this year, one of the children in our community was unable to attend as she is undergoing treatment for cancer. She is a bubbly, bright, fun and outgoing child, who unfortunately has been unable to join us at Sabbath services, and was unable to join us for Purim celebrations. Her family would like to remain anonymous during this trying time, so for continuity of this article she will be called Amy. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 25 2014
Growing up, my parents liked to take Sunday drives around the scenic parts of Connecticut: to watch changing leaves, visit aging relatives, drive over covered bridges. During one of these outings, I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up, I asked my parents if we were in Texas.
Their shock and horror likely prompted them to make the generous offer, some years later, to send me abroad my junior year of college: a last-ditch effort to provide me with some geographical context. I declined, citing a commitment to my position in student government. Obviously the Brandeis Student Senate would suffer mightily in my absence. I stuck with that story, even in my own mind, for a long time.
All that year, I received postcards from friends in Israel, London, Spain, Australia. They told tales of impromptu weekend trips to Florence, milking cows on a kibbutz in southern Israel, and late-night rendezvouses with strangers encountered in youth hostels. What could possibly make me choose “Robert’s Rules of Order” over these exotic adventures? Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 23 2014
We recently had the total pleasure of Skyping with mom of one, Randi Zuckerberg. If the last name looks familiar, yes–she’s the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the former Director of Market Development and Spokeswoman for Facebook. Now, she’s the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and the author of two new books: Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives and Dot, a picture book for kids about a young girl who’s both tech-savvy and interactive with the actual world around her (imagine that!). We talked to her about the various ways technology influences modern day parenting.
In what ways have you found technology makes parenting easier or harder?
In some ways, I think definitely both. You have so many other ways you can interact with your children; you can expose them to apps that encourage learning and creativity. I think it’s easier for kids to learn art, music, and reading then ever before. But in other ways, sometimes you have to pry the devices out of their cold hands, and I think that can be very difficult to remind children to develop human-to-human personal interaction skills–like reminding them to go outside and use their creativity in other ways as well.
And you have one son, correct?
I do, I have one son. I have actually found that technology has been tremendous in our family for fostering a love of Judaism and Jewish education because there are so many great apps. I actually helped advise on a Rosh Hashanah app, where you blow into the iPhone like a shofar. Apps like that have been so fantastic. On Pandora we use the Hanukkah and Shabbat stations. So I feel tech has helped bring Judaism in our life much more, but on the other hand I have to make sure I’m not using it as a babysitter. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 28 2013
I am a card carrying member of Generation Y. Having grown up on the internet, rocked to tunes on my iPod, and texted all through high school, I am more than amply tech-savvy and embrace all things digital. I never shuddered at the thought of snuggling up in bed with an e-reader, and am perfectly comfortable depositing my checks via my smart phone. Now that I think of it, most of the transactions I make are via the World Wide Web; heck I just did my Menorah shopping online (who knew, right?).
As such, I am an app person. I’ve got an app for everything from breastfeeding to business and beyond. So, when my little guy began grabbing and biting my phone, I downloaded some baby apps for him, too.
I do not delude myself into thinking these apps are educational. They are, however, entertaining. Very entertaining. And God knows, every mom needs an entertaining trick up her sleeve if she is to survive seeing her children into adulthood.
That brings me to this Sunday. Aforementioned little guy was under the weather long enough to warrant a visit to the pediatrician. While I love my doctor, the waiting time in his office is notoriously long and offers very little in the way of distraction. So it was armed with a diaper bag full of goodies that I lugged my cranky babes down to the office. Read the rest of this entry →