Yvette Alt Miller, Ph.D. has worked as a Professor of International Relations, a trade analyst for the US Government, and in public affairs. She lives with her family in Chicago, and has lectured internationally on Jewish topics. Her book Angels at the table: a Practical Guide to Celebrating Shabbat has been praised as "life-changing", a modern classic, and used in classes and discussion groups around the world.
They're timed to happen a week or two before Christmas. They usually feature treats like gingerbread or eggnog; decorations usually include wreaths, tinsel, maybe an illuminated tree. And while your…office or your neighbors may call it a "holiday party," I'm here to tell you something: These are Christmas parties. So can we please drop the pretense that these parties are non-specific "seasonal celebrations?" Over the years, I’ve attended my share of office holiday celebrations, neighborly get-togethers, and school “seasonal concerts." Some have been fantastic; … >> Read More
When suburban Chicago mom Kelly Masterson looked over her eighth-grade son’s homework recently, she was, in her words, “flabbergasted” to see an assignment labeled “Hitler cartoon.”…Complying with his teacher’s instructions, her son Michael had turned in a comic strip describing Hitler’s rise to power, replete with swastikas and Nazi imagery. “I asked him, ‘Did you ask the teacher if you could use these images?’” she wrote in a Facebook post that quickly created controversy. “He said yes…” Still, she was… >> Read More
On Hanukkah, it’s customary to eat foods fried in oil because it recalls one of the main miracles of the holiday: When Maccabees cleaned out and rededicated the Jerusalem Temple, they found oil…enough to light to menorah for one day that miraculously burned for eight days. You’re probably familiar with potato pancakes, or , and jelly doughnuts, or sufganiyot. (The Nosher has easy-to-follow videos on making both of these Hanukkah classics.) But these are hardly the only holiday delicacies you should know about. Eating cheese on Hanukkah… >> Read More
Growing up, Hanukkah was all about the miracle of oil enough for one day lasting for eight days. It was about frying latkes and spinning the dreidel and exchanging presents. The main players in the…Hanukkah story all seemed to be male: Judah Maccabee, his father, Mattityahu, and the wicked king Antiochus. As an adult, I found I’d only been taught part of the story. When I started following Orthodox Jewish traditions, Hanukkah was magically transformed for me from a cute kids’ holiday to a celebration that resonates deeply with… >> Read More
It’s not how I would have imagined feeling when I heard the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were finally engaged. I’m not a committed royal-watcher and have only a vague sense of who’s…who in the House of Windsor. So why did I tear up when I heard they would finally be tying the knot (next spring)? And for the record, I wasn’t just a little weepy; I was full-on verklempt. Excitedly, I called my 14-year-old daughter into the kitchen where I was scanning the headlines, and together… >> Read More
The best date my husband I had in ages was an evening at the theatre. Actually, what made that date so fun wasn’t the play itself, which was nice enough, but what came after: about to miss our…last train, we made a mad dash (me in high heels) across eight city blocks, jumping on board with seconds spare. We giggled all the way home—and still high five about it today. Turns out, my husband and I stumbled on a truth in dating: it’s the out-of-the-box experiences that draw us closer. These days, when… >> Read More
When I was growing up, “Shabbat” meant Shabbat dinner. We didn’t do it every week, but I loved it when we did: I reveled in the exotic beauty of it all: the golden braided challah, the scent of…my mother’s chicken soup. I enjoyed the novelty of eating in the dining room for a change, and relished the magical moment when my mother would light the battered silver candlesticks her grandmother had brought over from Poland. Years later, I recalled the beauty of those Friday nights when I learned the famous Midrash that… >> Read More
This article is part of the Here. Now. essay series, which seeks to de-stigmatize mental health treatment, and improve accessibility to treatment and support for teens and parents in metropolitan…New York. When I was pregnant with my first child, I dashed across the street one day to the cafeteria where I used to get my caffeine fix, poured myself a coffee, added cream and sugar—and then raced back to my office without paying. Later on, when I sheepishly returned to the cafeteria to belatedly… >> Read More
“They hike all over the Galilee, they explore the whole north of Israel, the kids are so nice…”
I was listening to my good friend Chani and, as usual, envying her lifestyle. Since making…aliyah a few years ago, Chani’s regaled me with tales of her family’s life in Israel that make my life in the US seem stale in comparison: While I was trudging to Costco, she was nipping down to the Dead Sea for a swim, or hiking with her kids through 3,000-year-old ruins. Now, she was… >> Read More
Thanksgiving is a classic American holiday, but it’s also quintessentially Jewish—nothing is more Jewish than taking time out to feel gratitude and say “thank you” for all our blessings. Here…are five ways to tap into Jewish wisdom to enhance your Thanksgiving. 1. Bless your children. At Jewish festivals, it’s common for parents to bless their children; try incorporating this at your Thanksgiving table. Blessings can either follow a traditional Jewish format, or reflect your own thoughts. Singing after a meal is another Jewish custom… >> Read More
How did a feminist, public-school-supporting, progressive woman with a Ph.D. wind up sending her son to a private Jewish high school that’s separated most of the day by gender—and love…it? Like most American Jews, I grew up in the heyday of public education: I was told there was nothing I couldn’t do; I was encouraged to enter traditionally “male” fields like science and computing; I was showered with the era’s “Free to Be You and Me” egalitarian spirit. Of course, it wasn’t always so… >> Read More
The average age of childbearing in the United States is 26. For Jews, it’s a few years higher. Some of us Jewish moms, however, had our children significantly later than that. Here are 10 things…that only “older” Jewish moms will recognize. 1. There’s an even chance your child sports an old-fashioned Jewish name like Ada, Jack, Abe, or Lily. Being older means there’s less chance all of our grandparents are alive (never mind great-grandparents), making it much more likely you chose a name that sounds like it came out… >> Read More
This Father’s Day, I won’t have far to travel to visit my father: For the past several weeks, I—along with my husband and kids—have been living with him and my mother.
Even though he’s…not in the best health, when my dad heard that we were moving and needed a place to stay, he immediately volunteered. “It will work,” he said when I pointed out that there wasn’t much space for so many people; “It will be OK,” was his answer whenever I pointed out how loud, how noisy,… >> Read More
“My excessive act forced my son to have a painful time…I deeply apologize to people at his school, people in the rescue operation, and everybody for causing them trouble…”
When Takayuki…Tanooka appeared on Japanese television on Friday, June 3, 2016, he spoke in a voice laden with emotion, seemingly near tears. Six days earlier, he inadvertently became one of the most reviled men in Japan—and around the world. Fed up with his 7-year-old son Yamoto’s bad behavior on a car trip on the northern island of… >> Read More
I’d grown up hearing the story of Passover each year at our family’s seders. “We were slaves in the Land of Egypt,” my father would intone, my brother and I nodding at the familiar…words. If I ever thought about it (which wasn’t very likely), I pictured the scene that illustrated our worn, wine-stained haggadahs. Workers toiled in a field, a far away Egyptian overseer standing guard; the scene looked pastoral and peaceful. I didn’t doubt our ancestors were once enslaved in ancient Egypt, but it all seemed so remote.… >> Read More
My husband would never call me stupid. Never say I’m horrible. Would never question my competence, predict I’d fail, or wish me ill. Or would he?
And worse, would I ever say those things to…him? If you’d asked me those questions a few months ago, I would have answered with an emphatic no! My husband and I support each other, I’d have said; we treat each other well, with consideration and respect. I’d have said that I’ve seen some couples over the years who related to each other with… >> Read More
Drill and Kill.
That’s what rote memorization is often called in educational circles today. The general thinking is that mindlessly learning facts quashes kids’ natural curiosity and teaches…them that finding the right answer is more important than understanding why it’s correct. All over the country, there’s a huge backlash against “teaching to the test”—expecting kids to learn the “right” answer without understanding why—and an effort in schools to make learning fun and meaningful instead. My own kids’ school is no exception. I… >> Read More
When my husband I moved to Chicago’s North Shore from Washington, D.C. a dozen years ago, there were a few things we didn’t bother to pack and take with us.
One of them was an old cooler. Too…big for picnics, I used it for one purpose only: to pack kosher meat, cheese, and other products into when I made my monthly trips to the kosher grocery store, at least a 45-minute drive away in Maryland. The hot DC summers were brutal, and I needed all the ice I could cram into the… >> Read More
Like many new parents, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan let the world know about the birth of their daughter Max in a familiar way: on Facebook, in a joyous…post. Unlike most new parents, however, the Chan-Zuckerberg duo was able to make another startling announcement at the same time: In order to help make the world a better place for their daughter—and for all children—they plan to give away 99% of their Facebook shares—a value of about $45 billion—in their lifetimes. READ: Facebook Founder Mark… >> Read More
We'd just come back to Jerusalem after a few days away—battling the Thursday afternoon traffic that accompanies the start of the Israeli weekend—and were sitting with cousins chatting in the late…afternoon sunshine. Suddenly, the Jerusalem calm was shattered by an enormous boom. We all froze and looked at each other. "Don't worry, Mommy," my daughter reassured me. "Our cousins told me it's not a terror attack if you don't hear screaming afterwards." It seems that on her first visit to Israel, my daughter's already learned… >> Read More
I saw it in his eyes. A subtle closing down, a loss of interest. His mouth twisted into a subtle sneer as he said, “Oh, then you’re really valuable, the backbone of… everything!”
People…around me nodded and smirked. I was attending a local community meeting and was completely focused on the evening’s agenda. When the discussion leader suddenly proposed we go around and say our names and what we did—turning to me first—I quickly blurted out the only descriptor I could think of: “I’m a housewife.” As the… >> Read More
When our first child was born, most of the time I had no idea what I was doing. But one decision I made felt instinctively right: giving up TV. Although I’d grown up with copious amounts of TV, I…didn’t think it was a healthy use of time, and I didn’t want it to be a part of my new baby’s life. I ran my plan by my husband, who reluctantly agreed to back my TV-free experiment. I’m hardly a fanatic. We do still own a television, and have even watched special events on… >> Read More
“He was so cruel!”
This was uttered--in a tearful, anguished voice--by a cousin my family was visiting when I was 19 years old, in what was possibly the most embarrassing moment of my…life. I’d just transferred colleges at the beginning of my sophomore year, and had met Orthodox Jews for the first time. From my first encounter with this new group at Hillel dinner, I was intrigued: drawn to their passion; their eagerness to discuss weighty questions; their joy in their religious observance. I’d grown up “Conservative,”… >> Read More