Annette Gendler is the author of Jumping Over Shadows, the true story of a German-Jewish love that overcame the burdens of the past. Her writing and photography have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Tablet Magazine, Bella Grace and Artful Blogging. She served as the 2014–2015 writer-in-residence at the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Illinois. Born in New Jersey, she grew up in Munich, Germany, and lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. Visit her at www.annettegendler.com.
Purim is coming up — this year it begins on the evening of March 20 — and I’ve been busy planning what to put in my mishloach manot, the small gifts of food Jews exchange on Purim.
I…wasn’t always into this custom, but let’s just say I’ve really come around. When I first converted to Judaism, I had never heard of mishloach manot. They weren’t a thing in the Munich Jewish community where my husband grew up, nor did anyone exchange them at the Hillel we attended during graduate school in the… >> Read More
Every year I have to face it: Since we don’t eat any chametz for the eight days of Passover, excursions with the kids over Passover break are a challenge. The usual purveyors of sustenance along…the way are off limits. There’s no lunching at the Corner Bakery while visiting the Field Museum, no picking up snacks at concession stands. Even stopping at Starbucks becomes an exercise in resisting the temptations of the pastry vitrine. Instead, over Passover, a successful outing means taking our own food along, but it also means… >> Read More
I always dreaded the arrival of Purim because that meant I had to come up with Purim costumes. Or rather, my kids came up with what they wanted to be, and I had to make it happen. All of three of…them attended Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School, where the Purim carnival is a big deal, as was attending the community carnival at the JCC. While my daughter’s fanciest costume as a mermaid required me to relinquish a shimmery turquoise fabric I had bought years ago in Paris to make a cocktail dress for myself (that wasn’t… >> Read More
Peace can be found at the beach, even for the mother of three. I discovered this living on Chicago’s lakefront. 57th Street Beach is only a five-minute walk from our house and no matter how old my…kids are, or how much I dreaded the heat, peace would descend upon me once I settled on that beach towel. Preschoolers can busy themselves for hours (or so it seems) shoveling sand into plastic dump trucks or ferrying water buckets from the shore, and even a nudgy 10-year-old will happily dig in the sand,… >> Read More
Visiting the Garfield Conservatory in Chicago is my favorite way of celebrating Tu Bishvat, the New Year of the Trees, which falls on January 25 this year. Celebrating the first blooming of the trees…in Israel always seems out of place to me here in the depths of the Chicago winter. That’s why I’m happy that the kindergarteners at Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School, my children’s school, take a field trip to the Garfield Conservatory every year around Tu Bishhvat. The warmth of the greenhouses is such a welcome relief,… >> Read More