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Cool Girls Get Cool Lunches

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I stayed up extra late tonight because I was making a duct tape bow for my daughter’s lunch. Duct tape bows are not in any food group; they are, in fact, as the name suggests, a bow made out of duct tape. The more colorful and intricately patterned tape, the better. But the bow was made with the intention of adorning my...

Religious Development—The Middle Years

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A community rabbi in Teaneck once mentioned to me that when he speaks to bar mitzvah boys before their big day, he asks them, “What do you think is a difficult mitzvah?” Many of the boys answer “fasting,” and indeed many of us can recall the sheer terror at the thought that “this year I’m not going to be able to cheat but am going to have to fast the whole Yom Kippur!” Scary stuff.

But less understandable is that as many as two-thirds of the boys identify kashrut as another “difficult” mitzvah. The answer is pretty surprising to me, in light of the fact that these are kids from Teaneck, where there are close to 20 kosher restaurants, half a dozen kosher grocery and...

Being a Dispassionate Parent

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If you have begun to read this article, you may have already thought that the title above may seem to be odd for a parenting article. What parent would want to not reflect positivity or passion during interactions with their children! Furthermore, isn’t the expression of emotions healthy and vital for the emotional development of our children? The answer is yes; parents should reflect passion and express emotions to/with their children. However, it is also important that parents, at times, become dispassionate, or mitigate emotions, when dealing with their children.

Consider the example of nine-year-old Yosef who is constantly bothering his two younger siblings. Yosef’s parents are...

The Other Chesed: Teaching Our Children Self-Compassion

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Some made Styrofoam tents with four cut-out flaps, others colored class bikur cholim phone lists. The rare few even made cardboard welcome mats. Whatever project young Jewish children made this week, the lesson was the same: Avraham and Sarah did chesed, and so should we. From the time they are young, we teach our kids to show kindness and compassion to other people, but we say little about showing that same compassion toward themselves. Yet, self-compassion is an essential ability that affects our children’s healthy emotional development and psychological well being, and that every parent can help their child to build.

What is Self-Compassion?

Having compassion for yourself is pretty...

Religious Development—The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Years

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My mother used to say that you can do whatever you can in parenting your child until she or he turns 13. After that, you have to just stand back and pray.

After describing the births of the twin boys Yaakov and Esav, the Torah skips over their early childhood years and says, “And the boys grew up and Esav became a skilled trapper, a man of the field; but Yaakov was a wholesome/scholarly person, who remained with the tents” (Bereishit 25:27). On the words “and the boys grew up,” the midrash says: “To what may this be compared? To a myrtle tree and thorn bush that grew one beside the other. When they began to flower, the one produced a pleasant fragrance while the other...

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