How Pinterest Killed Purim

Cute Purim Craft Ideas from Cook Kosher

Cute Purim Craft Ideas from Cook Kosher

Pinterest has killed Purim. Or, at the very least, it has killed the Purim of my youth.  Today, Purim has become a holiday of coordinating family costumes and themed Mishloach Manot. The Seuda requires a color scheme, funky centerpieces, and labeled place cards using templates found on Etsy. And don’t get me started on the price tag.

For weeks, my Facebook feed has been cluttered with costume requests, food item suggestions to work within a certain theme, and links to Pinterest and the various kosher and Jewish blogs where one can find everything from how to make rainbow hamantaschen to how to make dinosaur feet out of tissue boxes.

And I’m just as guilty as everyone else for buying into this new Purim. For spending weeks trying to come up with a themed mishloach manot, and a coordinating family costume that worked within our mishloach manot theme.

But it makes me yearn for the Purim of my past.

My parents never dressed up for Purim. Weeks before the holiday, we took a trip down to the Lower East Side to visit my Zaydie at his paper goods store where my Dad would stock up on brown handled paper bags. We each got to pick 5 friends to give Mishloach Manot to, since there was no way my Dad was going to drive all over Queens delivering Mishloach Manot to my entire class. We were handed crayons and told we could decorate the bags and so, the Sunday before Purim, we sat at the dining room table and colored away. As for Mishloach Manot itself, we gave the same thing every single year. My Mom baked chocolate cakes in mini loaf tins weeks in advance, filling up the freezer in the basement with stacked baked goods. While my Dad’s job was to pick up the mini bottles of Kedem grape juice and the giant box of pineapples.

Yup, you read that right. An entire pineapple.

In America, it’s probably not such a big deal but pineapple in Israel is extremely expensive. It would cost me a small fortune to actually replicate this Mishloach Manot here. And besides, my Dad knew someone in the pineapple business, so he got a nice discount.

That was it. No big exciting theme. No rainbow colored hamantaschen. Truth be told, I’ve never actually even made hamantaschen. My Mom didn’t make them, she baked chocolate cakes instead.

As for the costume, we’re talking about the days before Amazon and the Internet. When the only children’s toy store in our Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood was called Gaffney’s and they carried three types of costumes: Queen Esther, Mordechai and King Achashverosh. The Queen Esther was a dress and an actual mask. Oh, and you could also buy a couple of animal masks and I think a ninja, but that was it. No Barbie or Spiderman. No Disney or Marvel. Nothing. If you wanted a creative costume, you had to make it yourself.

Which is how I ended up riding down Main Street in the local Purim parade (what, your town didn’t have a Purim parade? Ours was awesome!), dressed as a “hobo”. Complete with black handlebar mustache drawn onto my face using an actual magic marker, a blue pea coat, scratchy wool blue hat and my Mom tied one of her shmatas to a stick she plucked from the tree in our front garden. It would be a happy memory if I hadn’t won a writing contest about my beautiful Purim costume, which I had described as the most glorious, elegant, colorful, Strawberry Shortcake Princess at the ball gown. The judge for the contest gave my outfit the stink eye as I hauled myself onto the back of the horse drawn carriage and asked what happened to my beautiful Strawberry Shortcake Princess gown. I’m pretty sure I told her what my Mom told me: “Aint nobody got time for that!”

I blame the hobo instead of strawberry shortcake ball gown incident on the reason why I bought costumes for my kids three weeks ago. How I made sure to get to the Red Pirate at the Hadar Mall and buy the Elsa from Frozen costume for my eldest before it sold out. Actually, because of my Hebrew language skills, I mixed up the words for “costume” and “maxi pad” and ended up asking the shopkeeper for Minnie Mouse’s maxi pad in a size 3T.

Do you see the lengths I will go to for my children and Purim?

And my husband is already despising the joyous holiday. It’s partly because I’m making him crazy to find freezer space so I can bake the cupcakes in advance, and mostly because I told him he has to go as Batman again this year. I warned him 6 years ago after we got married that I would only spend more than $100 on a Batman costume if he promised to be Batman every year. And, for the past 6 years, he has dutifully donned the costume and hasn’t complained once. All of a sudden, this year, he wants to switch things up and go as Captain Picard from Star Trek. Well, he should have thought about that before I bought the Plus Sized Batgirl costume two months ago.

Are you getting the clear picture here of how crazy Purim is making me?

And you know I’m already thinking about the family Instagram photo! I mean, why else would I have spent a nice chunk of change on the baby’s Spiderman costume? These are childhood memories that will last a lifetime!

Instead, I decided it’s time to get off of Pinterest.  I can calm down about  my mustache themed mishloach manot complete with finger mustache tattoos and how I don’t really have a rhyme or reason for the mini liquor bottle. That I won’t be able to send my daughter with a costume on Native American day at gan (seriously? I’ve got Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, I do not have Pocahontas. Is it so much to ask for her gannenet to work with me??). And that our gluten free hamataschen won’t be rainbow colored.

Maybe instead of Etsy designed labels, I’ll just hand out the mustache handled white boxes, give my kids some crayons, put on festive music, and let them color to their hearts content.

Now that could make for some really nice family/holiday memories.

Has Purim gotten a little out of hand for you and your family? Do you find yourself battling with the perfectionist in you over the tiniest detail on your Mishloach Manot? Do you think Pinterest killed Purim? Let me know in the comment section?





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What’s your Mommy style?


I have a confession: I’m a closet Mishpacha reader. For those unfamiliar with Mishpacha magazine, it’s a Jewish magazine for the family (mishpacha literally means family). Each week, a shrink wrapped package arrives at our door (thanks to my DH who finally just got me a subscription) and inside is a magazine for the Dad, a magazine for Mom, and one for the kids. My DD’s like to “read” their magazine and look through the photos while my DH refuses to touch the magazine for Dad with a 10 foot pole. And me, well, I like to read the Mommy magazine for the recipes, some creative ideas about holiday preparation and decorating, and often times to read just how out of touch with reality some of these people are. Recently, Mishpacha went through a design change that I personally think it a huge mistake, but I haven’t cancelled my subscription.

Last week, a reader wrote a question that was responded to by three different people. Truth be told, I don’t really remember who exactly these three people were but they tend to be Rabbis, Shadchans, female educators from seminaries, and psychologists, who are all frum. The question was from a young woman currently Shidduch dating who is ashamed of her Mother’s appearance. She said that her Mom dressed slopped, didn’t put on make up and had an awful sheitel (wig). She feared that the reason she wasn’t getting set up on as many Shidduch dates was because of her Mother’s slovenly and sloppy appearance. When she approached her Mother with these feelings, her Mom apparently told her she was being ridiculous and refused to dress better, wear makeup and get a more expensive and “nicer” sheitel.  She was aggravated and frustrated with her Mother and needed help getting through to her, so she could understand just how hurtful her appearance was to her chances of getting a wonderful Shidduch.

I’m not living in that world, but this question did resonate with me. I won’t say that I dress sloppy, but I certainly don’t wear my Ann Taylor suits, a string of pearls, and my Russel&Bromley suede boots to do gan pickup. In fact, I would say that my style hasn’t really altered much since my teens. In seminary, I got into a fight with my Madricha because she told me that it was time to grow up and dress nicer. She wore a new Hermes silk scarf wrapped around her neck practically every day, and according to her, I looked like something the Gap threw up on. At 17, my style was sporty and comfortable.

And, truth be told, I will always choose comfort over fashion. I have never worn stilletos nor have any desire to. I prefer chunky platforms, and went through a Spice Girl platform stage that would have rivaled Ginger spice. When I entered the work force, I realized quickly how I needed to up my style. Working in PR, appearance is everything, and no one wants to hire a publicist to manage their brand and be their face and representative if they look sloppy.

So, I hired a personal shopper and went to Saks and started learning how to dress for my figure. I was a Salon Z patron for years and years, and lost many a paycheck on Marina Rinaldi apparel. I stopped wearing color and stuck to a wardrobe of blacks, browns and grays. I selected clothing with horizontal stripes, plunging necklines to accentuate the positive (drawing people eyes upwards towards the face and away from any “bulge”) and heeled boots and shoes since the taller I looked, the slimmer I appeared. And this was just work clothes. I had different styles based on where I was hanging out at night. At a concert at Bowery Ballroom, I went in my “Hipster gear.” Shooting pool at Prohibition? Jeans, a rock n roll t-shirt, boots and a smokey eye. Margaritas at Citrus with a Producer in the summer? A cute floral dress, curly hair, big hoop earrings, fun green eye shadow, and wedges.

In my single 20′s, I had a facial once a month at Aveda salon and spa on the Upper West Side, sported a fabulous cut and color that I maintained every two months, took care of ladyscaping, and would go for weekly manicures and pedicures. My makeup style was sparse but effective: moisturizer with SPF, some undereye concealer, eyeliner and mascara, and a nude lip for work and something a little darker and more daring for after hours.

I might have been overweight,  but no one could ever say I was sloppy.

Which brings us to today, and my new Mommy style. 11 weeks postpartum and I’m still wearing maternity clothes. I’ve only lost 11 kilos, and I gained almost 20 so I’m no where near fitting into my clothing. Once again, I’ve embraced sporty and comfortable gear. I wear New Balance sneakers, cargo pants, and long sleeve shirts to do gan pickup. I still struggle with head covering, which you all already know about. Everything I own is covered in spit up, everything. My son is like a pigeon, he takes aim and misses the Aden + Anais muslins that I have thrown over my shoulder to catch his spit up. I have no time to do any “ladyscaping”, my nails are a ragged mess, my hair is in desperate need of a cut, color and a blow out, and if I remember to brush my teeth in the morning it’s an accomplishment.

I look at other Mommy’s in awe. Like my friend Rachel, whose hair is always brushed and tidy, and her manicure never seems to have a chip. Granted, she doesn’t have a newborn at home, but still. My husband’s cousin had a baby 4 weeks after I did and she showed up to his bris with a manicure & pedicure and a killer blow out. At my son’s bris? My swollen feet were shoved into too tight shoes since I refused to wear slippers, my eyeliner shmeared under my eye and no one bothered to tell me so that in all of the photos, it looks like I have a black eye, and there was spit up on my white sweater.

And when DH and I do go out, and I manage to put on a nice outfit, shoes, my wig and some makeup, I get such a reaction from my DD’s that I’m ashamed. Last Saturday night was our first date night in 11 weeks, and my eldest couldn’t stop telling me how pretty I looked. She wouldn’t stop sniffing me because I was wearing perfume for the first time in months and she loved the smell.

I know it’s a long way away from when my kids are dating, but I don’t want them to be ashamed of their Mom for the way I look. And, I also want to be true to who I am and be me. Right now, who me is as a Mommy is yet to be determined. Lately, I think my sense of style is closest to Modern Family’s Clare Dunfy. She’s comfortable casual during the day, and simple and classy at night.

One day, I hope to rock a LBD with a nice pair of heels (kitten) for a night out. I aspire to leave my house without spit up on my clothing (I swear, I get dressed in clean clothing and just when I’m about to walk out the door he lets it loose). In the meantime, maybe I’ll take a page out of my Grandma Rose’s book. She told my Mom that a lady never leaves the home without lipstick.

It’s a start.

What’s your Mommy style?


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Are you my baby?

imagesIn Central, I had a wonderful Biology teacher named Mrs. Fried. She was enthusiastic and animated, encouraging and fair. Truth be told, science was never my strongest subject, and I’m pretty sure I got a 75 on my biology regent. Ninth grade was the last time I took a biology class, and that was almost 2 decades ago! So, when our baby was born a couple of days ago, I surprised myself by remembering something important I learned regarding blood type.

I should back up and explain that I’m very into blood. Not in a freaky, vampire sort of way, but in a medical way. You see, I have a condition called APLA, which causes blood clots primarily during pregnancy. In order for me to carry a healthy baby to term, I take a regiment of daily shots of a blood thinner called Clexane, and a dose of aspirin.  After the baby is born, I continue the injections of Clexane for six weeks, and then I have a couple of other restrictions but otherwise thank g-d, I live a normal life.

It’s not fun injecting myself in the stomach. I’ve had four pregnancies and I have three children, so there was actually a point in time where I was doing a daily injection for more than an entire year. I end up with a belt of bruises and have to be very careful about cutting myself since it takes a really, really long time to stop the bleeding.  My biggest fear is that my children will inherit my genetic condition and will g-d forbid have problems with fertility.

So, it’s a complete miracle that I was able to carry three children to term. And, when our baby was born a couple of days ago, I was surprised to hear that he was jaundice because of something called ABO incompatibility.  When I asked the nurses to explain what that meant, they told me that our baby was blood type A+.

And that’s when something I had learned in Mrs. Fried’s class came to mind. I told the nurses that it was impossible our baby was blood type A+ since I am blood type O+ and my husband is B+. They agreed that if I was O+ and my husband was B+, there is no way that our baby could be A+. It didn’t change the fact that he was jaundice and needed phototherapy, but I did insist that they retest his blood type.

A couple of hours later, they returned with the results: A+

So, there are three things to think about in this very moment:

a) One of us had the wrong blood type. Now, we knew that my blood type was O+ since both my parents are O+ and I was retested during one of the million pre-natal blood tests that I’ve done. We knew that the baby’s blood type was A+ since we retested him. Perhaps, someone made a mistake when they did the blood type test for my husband years ago?

b) I cheated on my husband and this was not his baby. This option was laughable but apparently, more than one person had this thought when we told them the story. To my husband’s credit, he is a tremendous mensch, and he didn’t question my fidelity. But, I saw a couple of awkward smiles from nurses and doctors when we asked how our baby could be A+ when we were both O+ and B+.

c) This wasn’t our baby. This was the most terrifying of all options.  I started looking at him differently. Where I used to think some of his features resembled his siblings, I started questioning myself and wondering if I was just telling myself that he looked like my other children when in reality, he didn’t resemble any of us. I started getting even more suspicious when a nurse returned him to me after taking him to an exam room to do a blood test, and she told me that his wrist bracelet had fallen off but that his ankle bracelet was still on so I didn’t have to worry. I started wondering if perhaps he had been switched with another baby during the two hours I was in recovery post c-section.

Since I knew that b was not an option, we decided to tackle the first option and got in touch with my husband’s doctor. We explained the story and she immediately issued a blood type test order for my husband. But, right when we thought he could go take the test, they discovered that the baby had a heart murmur and we were immediately sent down for an EKG. Between the jaundice and EKG, we forgot about the blood type and just concentrated on getting the baby home and making sure he was healthy.

I thought about his blood type again days later, while standing next to the bima at his bris. And, as the Mohel started singing and calling each person up to perform his task during the ceremony, I said a little prayer that I was not just about to allow the Mohel to cut someone else’s baby.

The next morning, my husband left the house early and went straight for his blood test. I spent the next 2 days (I don’t know WHY it took 2 days to get the results!) in a stressed state. We imagined all of these worst case scenarios, which included that his blood type came back B+ and that we would have to then ask for a paternity test. I held myself back from fully bonding with my baby, afraid that he wasn’t really ours and that I would have to give him up. That was probably the hardest to do, since I was falling in love with him each and every time I sat down to nurse him, when I stroked his hair, as he slept scrunched up on my chest with his tiny fingers curled around the straps of my tank top.

And just as I started to wonder where my baby was, if this was not my child, my husband got an SMS from our health insurance provider.

His blood type: A+

I cannot explain the relief I felt in that moment. We both felt such relief that this was, in fact, our child. That no one would come and take him from us. That we could finally put everything behind us and truly focus on bonding with our baby.

And that’s exactly what we did.





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What’s in your medicine cabinet?


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about clutter. And, more specifically, how I really want to just declutter and simplify my life. I look around at our apartment and it’s clean, but cluttered. Stacks of papers, children’s drawings, letters, and medical papers have taken over the dining room and kitchen. The kids toys are in bags and baskets on a living room chair and underneath the TV. Neat piles of children’s books are stacked high on what used to be our coffee table, and don’t even get me started on laundry. The guest bed in our Mamad is my laundry bed, where piles of clean and folded laundry never seem to make it back into drawers.  I’ve got boxes full of paper goods underneath tables and in our dining room and, truth be told, I don’t even know what I’ve got in those boxes. I have no idea if I just keep on buying more and more napkins, or if I have enough plastic forks to last us a year!

This morning, though, I decided that I’ve had enough. I want one of those homes where there’s a place for everything, and everything is in its place.

But, the problem is that I’m a serious pack rat. I’m attached to my stuff and, every time I sit down to actually get rid of what’s probably not necessary anymore, I just can’t do it. DH is, unfortunately, the same way.

Know what happens when one pack rat marries another? Yup, you guessed it. You’ve got loads of stuff and lots of clutter.

This morning, I decided it was time for a change. And, armed with two giant black garbage bags, I decided to tackle the medicine cabinets in my bathroom. I was literally astounded by what I found in there and am very happy that our guests always use the other bathroom when they come over. I couldn’t even IMAGINE what they would think had someone opened up those cabinets.

You see, I’m a product loving girl. I am a beauty and health product marketing manager’s DREAM! I love products. I love trying new products, and I love stockpiling the products that I use.

Case in point, anything from Kiehl’s stayed. I should actually be a brand manager for Kiehl’s, that’s how much I love their products. But, what I discovered while cleaning this morning, is that I own FOUR tubs of their creamy eye treatment with avocado. That will last me more than a year. I also discovered a giant bag of Kiehl’s product samples that I collected at Saks more than two years ago!

Remember how I said that I’m a beauty/health product marketing manager’s dream? Well, the four boxes of never used Almay eye makeup eraser sticks (how clever of a product is this!!) can attest to that. I’m pretty sure I read about them in a magazine and then went to and ordered a ton of boxes to try. Sad thing is that I really do want to try them, but I’ve worn makeup twice in the past six months! And, what did I use as my eye make up remover? Not the Almay sticks, since I didn’t even remember they existed!

Those bottles of Mama Mio anti-cellulite, stretch mark prevention creams that didn’t work when I was pregnant with my eldest? Tossed!

That giant container of Kama Sutra honey dust that I have NO idea where I got it and think it was probably some sort of bachelorette present that I never even opened, and let’s be honest but I would never use it anyway? Trashed!

Boxes and boxes of Tampons that I have no idea when I bought, and haven’t used? After reading that nightmare story of the woman who found mold on her Tampons? Chucked!

Folks, what if you find contraception that doesn’t have an expiration date but you know you bought it more than six years ago? Throw it away! Unless, of course, you want to get pregnant.

If your hair care products have elements that have separated out of the actual product and now resembles curdled milk? Time to get rid of it!

Why do I need SIX containers of silk dental floss by OralB? Don’t know, but I’m pretty sure I won’t need new floss until at least November.

I’m hoping Johnson & Johnson baby powder doesn’t go bad, since I found 3 unopened containers! Same for J&J body cream. THREE bottles, still shrink wrapped!

The colorful, flannel hot water bottle still in its bag was a nice little surprise. Lord knows why I needed FOUR boxes of disposable underwear, although I’m pretty sure it was some wild time that I must have missed out of!

And, if a bus load of seminary girls, all with synced cycles, suddenly broke down in front of my apartment and for some reason they ALL forgot to pack feminine hygiene products? Well, let’s just say that I’ve got them covered.

I felt so much better looking around the bathroom. I admired the marble counter, which I could suddenly see! I enjoyed looking at empty cabinets that, knowing me, will be full with other products by the end of the month. And, I was content knowing that I’ve got enough bars of soap to last me until after Rosh Hashanah!

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to tackle our book problem! Perhaps I’ll even find the coffee table!

Are you spending time this summer cleaning or just organizing? Share in the comment section!



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Summertime challenges with hair covering


I’ve been covering my hair for almost 6 years.  Truth be told, it was a bit of a struggle getting started since my husband wasn’t really on board with the whole concept of covering hair after marriage. So, I didn’t push it and after our wedding, I didn’t cover my hair. About 6 months after our wedding, my husband told me that he was okay with me covering my hair. I remember being so excited when he got on board with it!

The next day, I went into town to a hat store that sold different types of head coverings. And, I was like a kid in a candy store. I tried on hats and berets, half scarfs and full scarfs, fedoras and even some snoods. Since it was February and quite chilly, I decided I liked the whole beret look. I liked the way it felt on my head, and how it looked on top of my straight fall.

I convinced myself that covering my hair was going to be super easy, and for about 4 months it really was. Until I encountered my first Israeli summer covering my hair. The beret and fall combination was just way too hot for the 90+F heat. I started searching around for a hair covering I could wear that didn’t require a wig underneath. And, I settled upon the colorful bandanas that I could wear with my hair up in a ponytail or wrapped tightly into a bun.

But, after 6 years of the summer bandana being my staple, I’m finally ready to admit that it just doesn’t work for me. Somehow, on my head, it makes me look like I’m either ready to go out and milk a cow, or that I’m about to perform as one of Tevye’s daughters in Fiddler on the Roof.

If I’m really being honest with myself. I don’t just dislike the way I look wearing a bandana, I miss my hair. I miss walking around with a nice blow out, running my fingers through my straight hair with the sun beating down on it. And, if you know me at all, you’d realize how shocking this is. I have spent YEARS fighting with my hair. I was born blessed with curly, frizzy, light brown hair. I’ve spent majority of my life fighting my hair in its natural state. I’ve cut it short and grown it long, I’ve had bangs and layers. I’ve highlighted, straight out dyed it, and chemically straightened. I’ve been blonde, blonde with brown highlights, brown with blonde highlights, brown with red highlights,  Goth black, and last year – on a whim – I went black with purple streaks. That little experiment was just an absolute disaster.

In high school and college I would fantasize of the day when I would be married and I could wear a really, really nice straight wig and be done with worrying about my kinky, frizzy, curly hair. And, I am lucky that I own a really, really nice wig. But, living in Israel, my nice wig is worn only during special occassions like conferences, work meetings and weddings.

I remember laughing when we learned the Halachot (laws) of hair covering after marriage. My hair, I exclaimed, was not a body part that was particularly attractive to men. Especially not in its natural state.

I have never had a man come up to me at a bar to tell me that he had to buy me a drink because my hair was so gorgeous.

I’ve never had a man tell me that he wishes he could spend hours just running his fingers through my hair.

I’ve never had a man turn away from me because my hair was just too darn beautiful to look at.

But, even though I didn’t think that my hair was particularly beautiful, these days, I absolutely love and miss it.

So yesterday, when I was so frustrated with my bandanas that I just threw them on the floor, one by one, I stopped and considered walking outside sans covering. Of course, I totally chickened out.

Instead, I grabbed a pink baseball cap my in-laws bought for me while they were on an Alaskan cruise. It was 95 degrees yesterday and, when I walked the couple of blocks to gan to pick up DD2, I was sweating. By the time we got home, my hair was drenched and my face was bright red from the heat. Baseball caps just won’t do in the Israeli summer heat.

So, I’m at a crossroads. Do I continue wearing my coolest (in terms of weather, not style) option of the bandanas and just not care that I look like I’m about to go to work on a dairy farm, or do I search for something new?

Truth be told, it’s starting to be really difficult to keep my hair covered when I just don’t like what looks back at me in the mirror.

Most days, I feel like I want to just rip off my bandana and let my Jewfro hang out.



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The One that Broke My Heart

They say you never really forget your first love. I don’t think it’s the love part you don’t really forget, I think it’s the heartbreak that you remember. That pain never really fully goes away, and it sometimes resurfaces at inconvenient moments in your life. And, no matter how happy, satisfied, or content you might be in the here and now, you might still feel diminutive pain. It could be negligible, but it’s still there.

On Friday, DH and I were paying a shiva call in the neighborhood. The avel (bereaved), ever the hostess even in her time of mourning, introduced us to the rest of the visitors and the name of one of the guys seemed so familiar. While walking out of the shiva house, I asked him what year he graduated from my brother school, and we realized that we were the same grade. It immediately clicked how I knew him, and so I played a quick game of Jewish geography with him. I asked him if he knew Motti (not his real name) and, when this guy said that they were friends, it all fell into place. I told him that Motti was my “ex-boyfriend” and then I asked about his wife and kids. I told him to send my regards, and revealed my maiden name. We parted ways with a hearty “Good Shabbos” and DH and I walked back to our car, where I promptly began to wish the conversation never happened.

I laid awake from 3:15 a.m. – 4:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, thinking about the encounter. Thinking about Motti, and how he completely shattered me. How he spent years playing with my head, giving me false hope for a future, when he knew that he was never going to marry me.

I met Motti when I was 16 years old and we were both junior counselors at Camp Mesorah. His sister was my camper and, coincidentally, my brother was his camper. We immediately had plenty to talk about. Over time, I became attached to him – in that 16 year old way. We would spend more time together, going on regular evening walks up and down the road. It took a while for me to  become attracted to him. But, after a while, that all changed. It wasn’t long before I had fallen for him, and I fell pretty hard. I loved his quick wit, his sardonic smile, his intellect. We were really close that summer, and when the summer ended, I was devastated. I didn’t know how I could sleep at night without seeing him.

We kept in touch Senior year of High School mainly through late night phone calls. It was pricey since he lived in another State and my Dad wasn’t willing to upgrade to a better long-distance plan. That changed, over the years. The summer before seminary, we finally got together. We went out on two “dates” that were really special, and then he left for Yeshiva and I went to Michlalah. After Succot that year, I called him at Yeshiva and gave him the ultimatum the Rabbi’s had advised us to give to our “boyfriends.” I told him that I would only continue talking to him during the year, if he promised we would get engaged when we got back to the States. He couldn’t/wouldn’t promise, and so we said our goodbyes. But, after a couple of months, I missed his voice. I missed talking to him, I missed the things we talked about. And so, I caved, and I called him at Yeshiva. We decided that we would only talk if we had a phone Chevrutah, and he was willing to give me a 3:00 a.m. slot once a week. We decided to learn The Book of Job together, and each week I set my alarm to wake me up for our early morning learning session.

It didn’t really last too long. We were both tired and, truth be told, I didn’t really want to spend that time on the phone with him learning Torah. We ended our Chevrutah about as quickly as it began, got into a fight, and I walked away. Until Michlalah ended, and I got back to the States, and heard he was having surgery. About a week before his birthday. I caved, and called him to wish him a happy birthday and to see how he was feeling.

It was just so amazing talking to him. I didn’t realize how much I missed him, how much I missed our chats. And thus began a four year phone relationship with a guy I was hoping would one day be my husband.

Four years. It’s a really long time to talk to one person, practically every single night, for hours on end. But, that’s exactly what we did. We talked. And talked. And talked. In my head, he was my boyfriend. We just never got together. We never met in public. We never went out on a date.

My Mother would beg me to walk away. She would spend hours pleading with me, saying that this was not a relationship. That he was not my boyfriend. She said it’s not dating unless a guy was spending money on me. I brushed her off, telling her that she was old-fashioned and we were more modern. I refused to let her words penetrate. I didn’t want her to be right, I wanted to continue to live in this warped fantasy of mine where the man on the other end of the phone line cared about me as much as I cared about him. My friend Shulamit would tell me that I was delusional, she would point out that she saw Motti frequently at the Stern dorm, going out on Shidduch dates. I ignored her, and said that he was just testing the waters. I convinced myself that he was dating other people but that it would be okay, he would realize just how right I was for him, and we would plan our future together. But, I was really hurt when Shulamit told me he was dating, and so I started dating, too.

And that’s when his roommate started talking to me on the phone. It started innocently enough, we would chat a bit when Motti wasn’t in his dorm room. Pretty soon, though, I would call to talk to him as much as I would call to talk to Motti. And suddenly, I started wondering if he was interested in dating me. After months of spending hours on the phone with both Motti and his roommate, I broke down. I demanded to know if the roommate was talking to me because he wanted to date me. He admitted he didn’t, he just really liked “the practice” of talking to a girl. He was naturally a bit shy, and talking to me was helping him come out of his shell. And it was helping him while he was dating.

I decided to walk away, from both of them. I wasn’t attached to the roommate, and I was angry at Motti for letting him talk to me. So, I stopped calling. I hit the gym harder, lost weight, straightened my hair, went out with guys who I wasn’t interested in, and waited for Motti to come back.

I read “The Rules” and promised myself that I would use them if Motti ever called again. And, sure enough, the phone rang one night and it was Motti. And, after 15 minutes, I sighed and said that I had to go. I was vague as to why I was going and, after a couple of nights of following the rules laid out in the book, I felt it working. I heard his frustration when I hung up after 15 minutes, and I felt a thrill. I thought that this was going to take us to the next level. We were finally going to just go out and get engaged. And, as with most of the people I know who followed “The Rules,” I gave it up and went back to my old, needy, ways. Because, as many of us have learned, if you need “The Rules” to get a man, then he isn’t really the right man for you.

We got into another fight about not dating, and once again, I stopped talking to him. It was just another one of our breaks, I thought, and he would come back to me sooner or later. But, I guess I wasn’t really that surprised when I got a phone call at work from a friend, with the news that Motti got engaged. We had decided on a phone chat break 2 months earlier. And, in those 2 months, he managed to get engaged.

I was just shocked. I looked up at the photos in my cubicle, at the picture of us taken on the last night of camp. I wondered how on earth he could be engaged to someone else, if I had our picture hanging up in my cubicle. I slowly took the picture down and hid it in my desk drawer.

And then, I walked. I left the office, crossed the street to Lite Delights, and ordered a burrito. It was my first non-kosher meal, and it was just the beginning.

For years, I thought that I left religion as some sort of post-adolescence parental rebellion. This Friday night, I realized that I left religion because of Motti. Because of his roommate. Because I let two YU guys, “top of their classes,” treat me like shit. Play with my head and my heart. Use me for whatever it was that talking to me did for them.

And, I realized, that as long as I kept living in this sheltered world of Orthodox Judaism, I was never going to grow up. So, I walked away from religion. And, I grew up. I dated non-religious and non-Jewish men who treated me badly, and those who treated me like gold. I also dated Orthodox Jewish guys who played with my head and my emotions, and I dated religious guys who were the male versions of my naive self. I toyed with them as Motti toyed with me and, while I am not proud of my behavior and how I treated them, I managed to justify it at the time.

Over the years, I developed a sense of self worth. I discovered self confidence. And, just when I finally realized that I mattered, I met DH. And, I thank G-d every single day that I didn’t end up with the slew of men who mistreated me, and that I managed to find the man who truly loves me.

If I could take back Friday’s meeting with Motti’s friend, I would. I can just imagine him talking to Motti, and Motti laughing his head off. Laughing that I called him my “ex-boyfriend.” He must think I’m pathetic. Truth be told, I felt pathetic. If anything, the years have taught me that our phone relationship was not a relationship.

But, the memories of those years still stings. I have so many unanswered questions, and I wish for closure that I will never, ever, get. I wish I knew why he did it. Why he spent hours upon hours just talking to me. Leading me on, perpetuating this delusion of a relationship that I clung to. What on earth did he get out of those hours on the phone? I was in love, but what was he doing if he wasn’t interested? What was the point?

I tell myself that I had to go through the Motti experience to appreciate the gem that is my DH. I tell myself that the Motti experience was part of life, a painful part that I had to endure in order to learn about myself, to discover my sense of self worth.

In a couple of days, any residual thoughts of Motti will fade from my mind. I will go back to living my life, in the here and now, without those painful memories. But I will never forget the thorns on the road.



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My Michlalah Reunion


18 years ago, I was a seminary student at Michlalah’s Machal program for overseas students. 18. Years. Ago.

That year was, as with many seminary and yeshiva students, an absolutely pivotal year for me. It was my first time living on my own, away from my parents, and I absolutely loved that freedom. It was my first extended stay in Israel, and I fell in love with this Country. It was a year of many firsts for me, and I did not want to leave. So much so, that I threatened my parents that I would join the IDF  if they didn’t let me stay. Not really the path most Michlalah girls go down but, I was desperate to hold onto that experience. I was desperate to stay in Israel, and I was willing to enlist to do so.

I didn’t end up staying Shanah Bet (nor did I join the IDF), and as the years went by, I became more and more distant from my seminary year, and from my classmates. The invention of Facebook bridged that gap and, suddenly, I was reunited with Michlalah girls from my year! Its been amazing reconnecting with so many of my seminary friends, and suddenly a new connection back to my seminary days was reestablished. Truth be told, I am still close with the Rabbi from Michlalah that I developed a kesher (connection) with during my year. But, aside from a few close friends from childhood, I let a lot of those relationships fizzle. Most of my friends got married in their young to mid 20′s, and as a single gal on the UWS, I didn’t really relate to their life. So, it was easy to just let go.

Fast forward to our Michlalah reunion, which was really 20 women from around Israel – and abroad – coming together at a classmate’s home in Ramat Beit Shemesh. We kept it intimate: husbands weren’t invited, not were Michlalah staff or Shana Bet girls. It was just classmates from our year gathering together to catch up. Unfortunately, some people were overlooked but – for the most part – many of those invited were able to attend.

In a word, it was overwhelming. We milled around and flitted from person to person, trying in a couple of minutes time to catch up on 18 years a part. Some women brought actual photos, others traded cell phones to scroll through pictures. The mood was so festive, and people who weren’t necessarily part of the same chevra in Michlalah, interacted with genuine happiness to see each other again.

I was caught up in a conversation with a former friend, someone I haven’t seen or spoken to since the day we left school 18 years ago, and she asked me the usual questions: residence, husband, children, etc. (Interestingly enough, very few people asked me what I actually do for a living.)

When I told her that I got married 5 1/2 years ago and that my girls are both toddlers, she seemed surprised. I told her that I spent my 20′s living and working in Manhattan, and I really enjoyed it. And, I also told her that I was not ready to get married until I was 27.

That seemed shocking to her. And, she asked a question that I hadn’t really had to discuss with someone in a very long time.

She asked me if I ever thought I wouldn’t get married.

Now, that’s a really, really personal question and not really something I expected to discuss during my Michlalah reunion. It opened up a floodgate of memories, of bad dates, broken hearts, abusive and difficult relationships, etc. It brought me back to those years when I honestly wondered if Hashem made a match for me, or if my destiny was to be single forever. If I was ever going to be a Mother, and have children of my own. Of the years I sat alone in my apartment on Friday night, with the glow of my two little candles to keep me company and no one to make Kiddush. There was no one there to hold my hand and comfort me when I had an emergency MRI, there was no one there to celebrate with me when – at 26 years old – I became a Vice President of Corporate Communications and was making more money than I ever thought possible. There was no one there to comfort me when my beloved Grandfathers passed away, and the chair next to me at my parent’s dining room table was empty for far too many Pesach seders,  birthday parties, Rosh Hashanah dinners, and Fourth of July BBQ’s.

And so, as I always seem to do when I am asked a question I’m not really comfortable with, I honestly answered. I told her that, of course I thought I would never get married, but that I had a plan.

“A plan?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said. “If I was 35 and still single, I was going to have a baby on my own.”

Can we say stunned silence?????

I continued and told her that, in Israel, there are many single mother’s by choice and that it is amazing.

She nodded her head, as if she understood. But, I didn’t really think she truly got it.

And then, I excused myself from the conversation and sought out another friend. I took a moment to survey the room and realized that, many of the women are planning bar and bat mitzvah’s for their children. Some of them got married one to two years after seminary, and have never lived on their own. Many of them went from their parents home to their married homes. Some of these women got engaged on their third and fourth dates, while at least one got engaged to the first guy she ever dated. Some don’t know what it’s like to attend a client meeting, go on a business trip, or even read an email.

And that is really wonderful.

But, I didn’t have that experience. I was single until I was 30 years old, and I had more than one serious relationship. I moved out of my parents house when I was twenty and had (and still have) serious career ambitions. I was not ready, when I was in my early twenties, for marriage. I was not ready, when I was 25, to take care of children. I didn’t know who I was in my 20′s, and it took me an entire decade to really find myself, before I was ready for a serious relationship, marriage, and children.

And, that is okay.

It is okay that, during the past 18 years, my journey was different than many of these women. I am proud of the path I’ve forged for myself. I think my single 20′s has made me a better wife and a better Mother. I think, had I gotten married at 24, I would not still be married today.

And I’m counting my blessings that I finally found my one and only, and that we have been given these amazing, wonderful children to care for.

Our journeys, though vastly different, makes us who we are as individuals.

And I cannot wait to see where this path will take me during the next (P”G) 18 years.


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Why I don’t just want to Google it


What happened to asking other people for their advice or opinions? When have we become a “just Google it” culture? And, for that matter, why has that happened?

It drives me insane when I ask a question online, usually via Twitter or Facebook, and someone responds with: “just Google it.”

Do you think I’m not aware that Google exists? Do you think that I’m too lazy to use Google?

Well, let me set the record straight. I am well aware of the existence of Google and no, I am not too lazy to use it.

For example:

1) When I ask online for recipe ideas, I don’t want to Google it. I want to hear from ACTUAL people who have an opinion about a recipe. Tell me that you’ve either a) made the recipe and b) liked the way in turned out, so that I have something to go off of. Sure, I could read all of the comments below the recipe, but I don’t want to hear what a stranger has to say. I want to hear from you, my friend/acquaintance /relative who either knows me/my family/my palate and would think that the recipe would suit us.

2) When I ask online about something relevant to my industry (i.e. public relations, media relations and social media), please don’t tell me to Google it. I’m asking because, I would love to know what YOU are telling your clients. If I ask about a study regarding social media  driving sales, I am asking what YOU are using when you report to your clients. When you sit down with your client and you need to justify your fee, or when you are pulling together a reporting document, or if your client is complaining that they are sinking in $X amount of dollars into social media but they only sold 5 items after one month of working together, how are you responding? And, if I’m asking today about a recent study, that means I’ve already seen the study done in September 2012 and I’d LOVE to know if you have a study that’s more recent. And yes, I went to Mashable before I asked the question on Twitter.

3) When I ask you a question about a child related product, such as a car-seat, stroller, toy, etc., please don’t tell me to Google it. I want to hear from you, Mommy’s and Daddy’s, who have actual experience with said product. I want YOU to tell me that you’ve either used the product, liked the product, would not recommend the product because your child fell out of the product, etc. For those who don’t know me past acquaintance phase, know that I used to work with a line of children’s furniture. I am very familiar with the JPMA and consumer reports. I’ve already checked out both of those places before I posited the question to you.

And please, let’s do both of us a favor. If your response is “just Google it”, please just don’t respond at all. I’d much rather feel ignored than patronized.


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Marketers Have It In for Moms

Sometimes I think that marketers have it in for Moms. I came to this conclusion this morning, as I was opening up a new box of Pampers diapers, only to discover a sample ‘gift” of the Gilette Venus Embrace razor.

“Hmm,” I thought. “This is an odd product to be in my toddler’s diaper box.”

Sure enough, I started to ruminate on its placement. And, it quickly became clear, the message the marketers are trying to send to me. The Mom. The one who is too busy putting diapers on her baby’s bum to shave.

And it opened up a whole universe of useless products that marketers can go ahead and put in a box of toddler pampers. I still haven’t lost 25+ kilo since I had my baby a year and a half ago, why not also stick in a Slim-fast bar? Know what else I haven’t had time to do? I also haven’t had time to tweeze my eyebrows or take care of my mustache. Why not send me a free box of Bliss at-home waxing kit? That will just sit, unopened, in my cupboard collecting dust, because who the hell has time to wax their own mustache when there’s a toddler in the house? Clearly, my hygiene is in question, so why not throw in a couple of boxes of Oral-B floss? I keep meaning to buy a box, but always forget when I’m rushing, last minute, to the drug store to replenish the wipes supply that we depleted during the baby’s last bout of the stomach flu.

Hey marketers, want to really be helpful to this Mom? This is the first time, in 5 years, that I am neither pregnant nor breastfeeding. How about sending me a new bottle of Nyquil to help me get rid of the lingering cold that I caught from my toddler?

I’m not actually angry that there was a razor in with the diapers. But, it was just thrown in there, stark, all judging me and everything. And, truth be told, I think they really could have made it humorous. Why not wrap the razor with a funny note that says something about how they understand I really DO want to shave my legs, but they know that I probably am so scattered with making lunches, doing laundry, waking up a million times in the middle of the night to retrieve lost pacifiers, and give sippy cups of water, and I’m juggling my day job along with running the household, that I just haven’t even considered replacing the now blunted razor sitting in my shower, so here’s one last thing I don’t have to remember to put on my to-do list? Now that type of note, I could totally appreciate. That would make me feel like the marketers understand that I don’t want to be a hairy beast, I just don’t always remember that I am one.

Or, the folks at Pampers can just do me a favor and stop judging me, and just send me a sample of some diaper cream instead.

(PS. The razor works great!)


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Guest Blogger: American Diabetes Month

Carolyn at FullonFit blog approach me to write a guest post this November, in honor of American Diabetes Month. It’s a topic that’s so important, especially with the rise in obesity amongst children in the United States. I’m so thankful that she contributed to my blog with such an important post!

Type II Diabetes & Children: What You Need to Know

It’s November – which usually is attributed to changing seasons,
preparing for Thanksgiving, raking (lots of) leaves, and the start to (for me anyways) highly-anticipated shopping for the holidays. However, November is also American Diabetes Month, and as Type II Diabetes has become much more prevalent in children, it’s important that you inform yourself about this disease and how you can prevent your child from developing it. People normally think of diabetes as being a disease that only affects adults, however, the fastest growing group affected by Type 2 Diabetes is actually children. It’s important to take this issue seriously, as diabetes is directly correlated with heart disease. Proper diabetes care will reduce a child’s risk of developing heart disease later in their

What the Research Says : Risk Factors
The spike in Type II Diabetes cases mirrors an increase in obesity
among children. Since being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for developing diabetes, this makes perfect sense. It also shines a spotlight on the need for greater physical fitness in our young people.

It has been known for a while that unhealthy diets can lead to
developing diabetes. A study published in Diabetes Care found that
drinking just two sugared beverages daily raises your risk of developing diabetes by 25 percent. These same people also had a 20 percent greater chance of having metabolic syndrome — something that people develop prior to developing diabetes.

Another risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes is a lack of physical activity. That is why it is so important to be sure that your child gets regular exercise or physical activity several times a day! This exercise does not have to be drudgery either. In fact, you will want to make sure it is fun for them so they stay with the program. Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your child in preventing diabetes.

You are only limited by your own imagination in coming up with ways for your child to get some physical activity. Just playing with their friends outdoors is often enough – jump roping, playing hop scotch, playing tag or hide-and-seek — provided they work up a good sweat. The important thing is to make it fun for them so they will stay interested. What you are doing is making health a lifelong habit for them.

Yoga is an alternate form of exercise that is growing in popularity. It
can help your child maintain a healthy weight, increase flexibility, and improve joint health. The various yoga poses encourages joint fluid to circulate in the joints and prevent arthritis from slowly developing.

You can perform the yoga at home with your child or have them take
classes. If you live in a reasonably-sized city, chances are good that yoga classes are being offered in your area. You may want to attend their first session to reassure them. Be sure that you first discuss your goals for your child with their instructor.

Many children are resistant to starting an exercise program at first. You might encourage them by rewarding them for meeting goals, such as weight loss. Or another great way to motivate them is by participating with them and making it a fun activity that the both of you can share together!

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and
overall well being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has known to bust
some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog!

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