I think this is an important message for all of us and our community:
‘Mommy, I Want A Day Off’

The director of an alternative Hebrew School asks how much programming is too much, for kids.

Tue, 02/10/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

Our children are exhausted and confused. How can they know what is truly important when they spend six mandated hours in school studying up to seven subjects followed by play rehearsal on Monday, soccer on Tuesday, OT sessions on Wednesday, Hebrew school on Thursday, piano on Friday, and soccer practice on both Saturday and Sunday mornings followed by a Sunday afternoon game? It tires me just to list this packed schedule, one that dictates the lives of many 8- to 13-year-olds.

A 1967 classic romantic comedy called “If It’s Tuesday It Must Be Belgium” relates an unrelenting 18-day Euro-trip where tourists visit a new city every other day. The itinerary doesn’t allow time for the unique nature of each city to make a lasting impression, nor to spark one’s interest to learn more about its peoples and cultures. Rather, the tired traveler drifts from city to city with waning enthusiasm as they board the bus each morning. Why are we crafting similar itineraries for our children?

No one would be shocked to hear 9-year-old Sara say, “If it’s Wednesday, it must be gymnastics.” I don’t want to suggest that our children don’t get any enjoyment from their after-school activities. Of course they do. These activities allow them to make friends, use their physical energies in expansive ways, and be and think in new environments. I’m all for that.

But how much is too much? And how do we prioritize? (click above to read more. It’s an  important message from Rabbi Lori Forman-Jacobi.


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MARCH 15, 2015

A Collective Confession for Parents on Yom Kippur

By  at 5:08 pm

yom kippur stamp

On Yom Kippur, we stand in our respective congregations and recite the Vidui, a confession of a litany of sins for which we claim collective responsibility. We do this as a group, I remember being told as a child, so that no one has to confess, “I murdered,” alone, and also so that we realize our collective responsibility as a community for one another’s actions.

At Kveller, we have created a congregation and family of parents, readers, writers, communicators, and Jews. We share our stories with one another. We kindle friendships virtually and actually between one another.

Our paths to parenting are very different, as are our outlooks on how to best parent our children. And yet this is a community of respect–all too rare a thing in the Internet era–in which we share our opinions openly and thoughtfully, and throw ideas rather than insults at one another.

And that is why I wrote this interpretation of the Vidui from a parent’s point of view. I used the original text and put a “parent-child” spin on each of the original “crimes” confessed. I hope that you find it a meaningful jumping-off point to contemplate your own personal choices, parenting, and year. G’mar chatima tova–may we all be sealed in the Book of Life for a good, sweet, healthy, and happy new year.

Ashamnu – We have trespassed onto our children’s privacy and independence by hovering.

Bagadnu – We have done improper things, and have convinced ourselves that our actions were in our childrens’ best interests.

Gazalnu – We have robbed our children by not giving them our full attention when we are with them.

Dibarnu dofi – We have spoken slanderously of others, and have done it in front of our children.

He’evinu – We have caused our children to sin by not showing them the right way to act.

V’hirshanu – We have caused others to do evil by encouraging our child’s bad behavior.

Zadnu – We have scorned the honor of our own parents.

Hamasnu – We have touched our children in anger.

Tafalnu sheker – We have venerated and associated ourselves with people who are poor role models for our children.

Yaatznu ra – We have given our children bad advice.

Kizavnu – We have lied, whether for a good reason or not.

Latsnu – We have scoffed at Jewish traditions and have ignored who we really are.

Maradnu – We have rebelled by going against our Jewish heritage and failing to explore ways to make it mean more to us.

Niatsnu – We have used profane language in front of our children.

Sararnu – We have yelled at our children for being disobedient, but have been disobedient ourselves.

Avinu – We have intentionally done things wrong, knowing that they’re wrong and not caring about the consequences for our children.

Pashanu – We have denied Judaism in our homes.

Tzararnu – We have stirred the pot of gossip against our fellow parents and have encouraged bad feelings between parents.

Kishinu oref – We have been stubborn with our children when we should have been


Rashanu – We have acted as though the rules of our homes do not apply to us.

Shichatnu—We have let ourselves be angry, and become angry more easily than we become calm.

Tiavnu – We have worshipped idols of materialism and superficiality and have taught our children to venerate them as well.

Ta’inu – We have gone astray and have been an unworthy example for our children.

Teetanu – We have gone astray deliberately, because of having chosen to do so, and cannot see the parallel between our children’s behavior and our own.

Sarnu – We have deliberately turned away from respecting authority, yet we expect our children to respect us.


WELCOME TO BUNKCONNECT! Introductory Rates for Jewish Summer Camp

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The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) is proud to introduce BunkConnect, an affordability initiative built on the success of FJC’s One Happy Camper program.  BunkConnect is a referral program that makes finding the perfect camp easy by offering special introductory rates at participating camps for eligible families.

Through BunkConnect, first-time campers of all Jewish backgrounds (including Jewish day school students) can choose from a variety of high quality summer experiences. The program is specifically designed for families for whom Jewish camp might not be financially feasible – including families with moderate incomes.

FJC, our funders, and partner BunkConnect camps believe that every child should have the opportunity to experience the magic of Jewish camp.  After all, spending summers at Jewish camp is how kids discover who they really are, build connections to the Jewish future, and create memories they’ll hold onto for their entire lives.  And, perhaps more importantly to the campers themselves, it’s just plain fun!

Over 35 camps across the Northeast, New England and Mid-Atlantic regions are participating in BunkConnect 2014, representing all the major Jewish movements and denominations, Zionist, JCC, independent and specialty camps. In this pilot year, BunkConnect is open to families living in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the Washington DC area.

BunkConnect is a program of the Foundation for Jewish Camp and The Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy, made possible by generous funding from:

The AVI CHAI Foundation
The Leader Family Foundation
The Michael and Andrea Leven Family Foundation
The Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund

Learn more about eligibility and get started today.

BunkConnect is a program of Foundation for Jewish Camp
with The Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy
made possible by generous funding from:
The AVI CHAI Foundation
The Leader Family Foundation
The Michael and Andrea Leven Family Foundation
The Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund
©2014 Foundation for Jewish Camp
Planning your Purim Mishloach Manot?*
This year, to celebrate Purim 5774, create Mishloach Manot with Meaning: send your family and friends gift baskets that contain Israeli products that have been targeted by the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction Israel) movement.

Called #BUYCOTT ISRAEL, this grassroots campaign is educating and activating those who are unaware of BDS and its dangerous economic repercussions; supporting Israeli companies that are increasingly coming under attack; and inspiring all of us to work together to defeat Israel’s enemies around the world. And isn’t that what the story of Purim is really all about?

The best part is that #Buycott Israel Mishloach Manot can be anything you

want it to be. Maybe #Buycott Israel means you add a simple letter that

explains what BDS is and why it’s so important that we fight against it (see

below). Or maybe you add a bunch of Jaffa oranges to an existing basket.

Depending on your budget, you can create a Mishloach Manot with products

from Israeli companies that are perhaps the most high-profile BDS targets:

SodaStream; Ahava; and Moroccan Oil.

Below you will find direct links to these products and to websites and news articles that explain our purpose and offer tips on how you can combat BDS.  We’d love to hear from you about the creative ways you are planning to make these #Buycott Israel Mishloach Manot. (We’re going with a bright blue recyclable bag emblazoned with the #Buycott Israel logo in white.) Please help us by joining in and, even more importantly, spreading the word!


The BDS movement is a coordinated international campaign by individuals and

organizations to prevent people from buying Israeli products or doing business

with Israel. BDS also encourages companies and organizations to stop investing

in Israeli firms and asks countries to curtail cultural exchanges, trade and

cooperation with Israel.The main intention of BDS is to demonize and isolate Israel

and challenge its right to exist as a Jewish state.

On this holiday of Purim, which celebrates the triumph of the Jewish people over an enemy who sought to destroy us, we must show the world we stand with Israel.

News Article: “West Bank Boycott: A Political Act or Prejudice?”

* Thank you Meredith Berkman for telling me about this. You always send out the most meaningful mishloach manot!
I received one of Kveller’s emails and was so excited to see UWS events. You can go to their site and sign up for emails too!  Kveller is my homepage since I find they always have great parenting tips, recipes and relevant content for Jewish families – especially NYC Jews!
Published on The Jewish Week (
Home > Day Schools Seen Reaping Savings In Efficiency Project

Day Schools Seen Reaping Savings In Efficiency Project

Cost-cutting, added revenue opens new possibilities; not all schools making bottom-line goal.

Wed, 01/22/2014
Amy Sara Clark
Staff Writer
By cutting operating expenses, New Jersey’s Kellman Brown Academy was able to put an extra $60,000 a year back into the classroom and increase its 6th grade enrollment from 10 to 22 students in one year.

Baltimore’s Bnos Yisroel changed the way its volunteers approached fundraising, and increased annual donations by $170,000 in one year.

And after Cleveland’s Fuchs Mizrachi adopted the tagline “It’s more than a school” as part of a new branding strategy, it increased enrollment by 54 students in two years, a jump of 13 percent.

These schools have changed their approach to everything from board/staff relations to website design through a program created three years ago by Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership.

Funded by the Avi Chai Foundation and local federations and foundations, YU’s Benchmarking and Financial Reengineering Project is working with 29 day schools across the country to improve their bottom line by helping them overhaul the business side of their institutions.

As schools across the country fight to keep tuition affordable for families still struggling from the 2008 recession, the Benchmarking Program is a closely watched experiment in the day school community because of its unique approach.

While there are many programs offering grants to help schools lower tuition, YU is taking more of a “teach a man to fish” approach, working closely with the schools in such areas as cost-cutting, fundraising and student recruitment.

“We’re trying to assure that day schools could be financially sustainable,” said program creator Harry Bloom, the School Partnership’s former director of planning and performance improvement at YU. He is currently strategy manager for financial sustainability at the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education.

The early results are encouraging: two-thirds of participating schools are on track to meet the programs’ goal of improving their bottom lines by 10 percent. So far the schools have increased their revenues by a total of $8.5 million over the first two years and cut costs by roughly $2 million more, according to YU.

But so far, the program is not a panacea; 11 of the schools are not on track to meet those goals, and four of them have shown no improvement at all.

The results are not surprising, observers say, because while all private schools are struggling, day schools face a particularly rough road.

“Jewish day schools have a much more complicated problem then your average school because they have two curriculums — Jewish and secular — and they have to have faculty for both,” said Sarah Daignault, a professor at Columbia University Teachers College who specializes in private school financial sustainability. She is also the founder of the National Business Officer Association, an organization of independent school business managers that focuses on promoting efficiency and best practices.

Daignault points out that day schools also have to contend with less demand — while many private schools have fierce competition for admission, most day schools struggle to fill their classrooms, forcing them to keep tuition low to remain competitive, she said.

“The rest of their problem is that they have a significant commitment to financial aid. Many Orthodox families have three, four, five or six children, so of course [those families] are going to need financial aid,” she added. “They’ve got more faculty than they can support and less money coming in, so what you end up with is this horrendous problem.”

The problem only got worse following the 2008 recession, said Bloom. “There was sort of widespread panic going on among day schools: How are we going to remain solvent?”

In 2010, Bloom and his colleagues set up a pilot program in Bergen County and the next year expanded the program to Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, N.J. In May seven Los Angeles schools joined the program.

Each school took on the goal of improving its finances by 10 percent over three years through a combination of cutting costs and increasing revenue. A goal low enough to be achievable, but high enough to make a concrete impact, said Bloom.

The partnership then collected detailed financial and enrollment data from each school, and then shared it with all the schools so each of could see how it stacked up in such areas as student/faculty ratios, teacher salaries, debt and annual fundraising.

Next a team of consultants guided the participants through the creation and implementation of a three-year strategic plan. A long-term plan was key, said James Moché, YU’s interim director of planning performing and improvement, who created the Benchmarking program with Bloom.

“Many organizations do their budgeting from year to year, and you can’t achieve the kind of systematic change that’s necessary for schools to meet the affordability crisis in one year,” he said.

‘The beauty of the program was that it wasn’t just an assessment and then move on and good luck to you,” said Rabbi Chaim Amster, Bnos Yisroel’s director of development.

“There’s a continuing effort through the program to assure that the plan was actualized.”

Each school figured out where it had the most room for improvement. Some schools focused on cutting expenses, some on student recruitment and retention and others on increasing donations.

Skokie’s Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School hired an additional staff member to work on development, but also put a lot of time into training its lay leadership.

“The board members are really taking the lead, really taking ownership on all these important issues,” said Rabbi Menachem Linzer, principal of the K-8 co-ed school. “We’ve always had committees, but now we have a lay-led fundraising committee, which we’ve never had, and a marketing and communications committee.”

The school has rolled out a Facebook page, the principal tweets daily, and a website redesign is in the works.

Hillel Torah has also shifted its fundraising focus from its annual gala to the recruitment of individual donors.

“When it comes to fundraising, peer-to-peer has proven most effective. … Donors are approaching other donors,” said Rabbi Linzer.

They’ve seen results: donations for the first half of the year have jumped more than $100,000, he said.

In Baltimore, Rabbi Amster’s school also moved its fundraising efforts to donor recruitment, increasing the number of volunteer fundraisers fivefold — and its annual donations increased by 73 percent in one year.

“Events take a great deal of time and they cost a lot and they take the focus away from building relationships,” he said.

At Cleveland’s Fuchs Mizrachi School, a branding coach helped identify the school’s unique selling points and create the tagline “It’s more than a school.”

Realizing that Fuchs Mizrachi’s location — in the heart of a vibrant, welcoming, and affordable community — is a major selling point, they began recruiting young professionals just leaving grad school, branding the entire city as a less expensive alternative to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Teaneck, N.J., or the heavily Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie.

Apparently it’s working: in one year, the school’s enrollmentjumped from 408 to 462 in two years.

Other schools have focused on cutting expenses.

At Kellman Brown Academy, a Solomon Schechter school in the Cherry Hill-area of South New Jersey, Head of School Moshe Schwartz saw the biggest opportunity for financial stability in cutting expenses, such as switching the staff’s retirement accounts to a plan with lower fees. As a result, the school’s operating expenses dropped from 12 percent of the budget to under 10 percent, leading to a savings of $60,000.

For Rabbi Schwartz, the program not only helped him cut costs, it also helped him convince school leadership that the changes he wanted to make were necessary.

“It’s helped me to conceptualize to the school community and specifically to our board that we need to run the school as a professionally managed business,” he said.

With the savings, he was able to add three part-time teachers and a full-time nurse. He beefed up the school’s afterschool program, bought more computer equipment and sent teachers to more professional development seminars.

In two years the K-8 school gained about 17 students — not counting the preschool, which now has a waiting list. But more importantly, the Solomon Schechter school is keeping more students through the upper grades — a particular challenge for non-Orthodox day schools.

“They get you thinking a certain way and you run with it and your school can see tangible benefits in curriculum and the overall program — and that leads you to want to do more of this,” he said.

But not all schools have made such progress.

Of the 36 schools that initially enrolled in the program, 29 actively participated, while seven dropped out in the first few months due to “major transitions in leadership,” either in staff or board members, said Moché.

Of the 29 remaining schools, 18 are “on track” toward making the 10 percent goal, he said.

Most of the lagging schools are still working on getting both sides of the school leadership — the staff and the board — sufficiently involved.

“In some schools you might have very strong professionals, in some schools you have a very strong board, but you need both to be successful in this program,” he said.

The program, with its expensive coaching by business consultants, is not necessarily a widespread solution.

Benchmarking’s budget for the first three years is $3.2 million, said Daniel Perla, who works on day school finance at the Avi Chai Foundation. That’s nearly $90,000 per school.

But Perla said he and his colleagues are working on streamlining the program to its most effective components, which would substantially bring down costs.

“I think what we found was that what the schools valued the most in the program was the consultants,” he said. “To get schools to act, they usually need goading and coaching,” he said. The extensive — and expensive — financial evaluation could go.

Despite its limitations, Daignault, the Columbia professor, said the program has real potential.

She calls the 62 percent success rate “a good number,” and its dual emphasis on ambitious-but-achievable goals and long-term coaching effective.

A 10 percent goal, she said, “sounds somewhat reasonable. That being said, it would be hard for any school to improve their performance by 10 percent, so it would require them to figure out new ways of doing things.”

The frequent progress check-ins are also key, she said.

“We’re really going to push these schools to think about this because they’ll have this outside force pushing them, holding their feet to the fire,” she added. “That sounds to me like it may have some real possibility to bring about change.”

The all-girls Bnos Yisroel increased annual donations by 70 percent after changing its approach. Photo courtesy Benos Yisroel
Copyright 2010 The Jewish Week

JEWISH NATIONAL FUND - Your Voice in Israel DONATE | PLANT TREES | TRAVEL TO ISRAELbirthright-banner.jpgThe Taglit-Birthright Israel program has expanded eligibility for its free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26. Teenagers who went on an educational trip to Israel during high school were previously not eligible for Birthright trips, but can now participate!Explore Israel on a Taglit-Birthright Israel: Shorashim-JNF Israel Adventure Trip. Put your name on our JNF Friends and Family list and we’ll send you more information as registration begins. Email us at Shorashim and JNF you experience the awesome adventure of Israel from the inside, through the eyes and hearts of Israeli peers. Travel for 10 days with Israeli friends and staff who share the beauty, excitement and complexities of their country with you.

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I saw this editorial in the Jewish Week and wanted to share it with you as Mother’s Day nears. Our friends recently shared their family’s tradition of reciting this (even their 4 year old has it memorized) at our class Shabbat a couple of weeks ago. It was truly a sight to see and hear.  It feels like the sort of article you want to “leave around the house” for your partner to read… Let me know how that goes!

On Mother’s Day, Our Women Of Valor

Gary Rosenblatt

Gary Rosenblatt
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Gary Rosenblatt
 Editor And Publisher

Rare is the Jewish woman who is not praised as an Ayshet Chayil, a woman of valor, though too often it comes at her funeral, when she is not around to hear the rabbi intone from the Book of Proverbs.

“A woman of valor, who can find? Her worth is far beyond rubies…”

Perhaps the words have become a cliché, their meaning lost from hearing them so often. But the specificity of the attributes described in this 22-verse text still intrigue us, portraying a confident, independent woman to some, and to critics an all-too familiar image of wife in a supporting role.

For the living, the words of Ayshet Chayil, the woman praised as a devoted wife and mother, wise, kind, charitable and business-savvy, traditionally are sung by husbands to their wives just before Kiddush on Friday nights. Some commentaries posit that the woman in the text, said to be written by King Solomon, is a symbol of Shabbat itself, or of the soul, or the Divine Presence. But the plain meaning suggests that the man of the house is thanking his wife for all she does throughout the week for him, their family and household.

In keeping with the mood and spirit of Shabbat, a time to let go of weekday worries and reflect on the values that mean the most, the husband gives voice to his appreciation of his wife (at least once aloud during the week) and the key role she plays.

That moment evokes sweet images for me, remembering the contented smile my mother had at the Shabbat table she’d prepared, carrying over to the warm glow in our own home, and to seeing my daughter and daughters-in-law continuing the tradition.

Mother’s Day seems a fitting time to blend the secular calendar custom of honoring women dear to us on a Sunday in May with the Jewish tradition of blessing these women each Shabbat by acknowledging the talents they personify.

Beyond sending a generic greeting card message, though, or even reciting the verses from the closing chapter of Proverbs, how meaningful it would be if we sons and husbands composed our own, personal tributes to the women we love in our own hand (such a rarity these days) and told them just why they are so special.

And while saying it with flowers is a lovely gesture, finding new ways to honor these women by lightening their loads — from driving an additional carpool to improving our own cooking skills — would probably be even more appreciated.

Curiously, the ancient words of Ayshet Chayil do not describe the quintessential Jewish woman as laboring to prepare the Sabbath meal. While we remember our bubbes for the delicious foods they made, there are no images of cooking, baking or cleaning in Proverbs. Instead we have the consummate woman who seems remarkably contemporary: wise, loyal, God-fearing, strong, overseeing her business, providing for the poor as well as for her family, and inspiring loved ones to thank her publicly.

“Her children rise and call her happy; her husband also praises her: Many women have excelled, but you surpass them all.”

The image we conjure up from the words of Proverbs is a woman who stands tall but is filled with grace.

“Clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come,” says the text.

And yet I know that many women, whether they express it or not, are deeply ambivalent about the imagery of Ayshet Chayil, which, however well intentioned, they say, promotes the ideal woman as helpmate to her husband, the jewel in his crown.

In truth, gender plays a significant role throughout the 31 chapters of Proverbs. They are written from father to son, with an emphasis on keeping the commandments and acquiring wisdom, which is described in the feminine.

“Say to Wisdom, ‘you are my sister,’ and call Understanding a kinswoman. She will guard you from a forbidden woman, from an alien woman whose talk is smooth.”

That passage is an example of how King Solomon writes passionately of the power of women for good or evil — the source of insight or the dangerous seductress.

“A capable wife is a crown for her husband,” he observes in Chapter 12, “but an incompetent one is like rot in his bones.”

The choice a man makes determines his fate and his family’s future. All the more reason to rejoice when one has chosen wisely.

Today the ancient words of Ayshet Chayil are appreciated more for their emotional resonance than for the actual attributes described. Few 21st-century women “seek wool and flax” to work with their hands, “grasp the spindle” with their palms, make and sell garments and “supply merchants with sashes.”

But women are still seeking to balance work and home, professional responsibilities and family, being a loving partner and a compassionate role model to the next generation. Reading Ayshet Chayil now reminds us that those tensions have been with women for centuries, and even in the age of gender equality, the emotional burden within the family remains heaviest on them.

“Give her the reward she has earned,” Ayshet Chayil concludes, “let her deeds bring her praise in the gates.”

So on Mother’s Day, or Shabbat — or any other day — sing to her with a full heart and pray that she feels in her soul the sincerity of your sentiment.


This essay, and nine others, appears in “More Precious Than Pearls,” a book available at

I learned that my friend and a man I respect very much, Mark Perlman, conceived of a book that inspired this article by Gary Rosenblatt.  It is a book that we can all have since he’s giving it away to us for FREE:

How to Talk about the Holocaust

What do you say when your young child asks?

By Rabbi Sarah Reines

It can be difficult, both emotionally and conceptually, to talk to your children about the Holocaust.

Only a couple of miles from my daughter’s elementary school, two planes flew into the World Trade Center. Around the city and across the nation, parents were forced to make quick decisions about how to keep sons and daughters safe from the shadow of a chilling new reality. Psychologists and school counselors advised us to keep the televisions off while our children were home and withhold conversing about 9/11 while they were within earshot.

One week later, on Rosh Hashanah, I led families to the East River for the ceremony of tashlich, when we symbolically purge ourselves of sins by throwing crumbs into running waters. I asked people to suggest communal misdeeds. A kindergartener hurled a piece of bread into the waves and called out in a serious but matter-of-fact tone, “No flying planes into buildings!” This young boy gave voice to what everyone was thinking and no one dared say, exemplifying a child’s wisdom and innocence.

We cannot hide children from the harsh realities of life. They live with dangers beyond our control, but with consistency, concern and nourishing love we can help them feel safe and secure, even in an unpredictable world. I suggest this as an underlying principle to guide us in helping our children face some of life’s darkest truths, including the Holocaust. Here are some other suggestions about how to manage this issue:

Have faith in children’s resiliency

Most educators agree that the Holocaust should not be formally taught until middle school. However, many children are introduced to it at young ages through societal reference, like a mention of Hitler, or personal circumstance, such as tattooed numbers on an elderly neighbor’s arm. This exposure is not dangerous or damaging. Shrouding difficult topics in secrecy may engender fear, while gently addressing them often helps maintain a sense of perspective. Little ones quickly learn to recognize good and evil. However, they focus most on their immediate and personal reality.

Start slowly

As with most challenging subjects, it is best to respond to children’s inquiries with brevity. Follow your children’s lead. They will direct you as to how much information they are prepared to receive.

Respond and reassure

Children’s linguistic limitations may prevent them from clearly articulating their thoughts. For example, if they ask, “Why did the Holocaust happen?” they probably are not curious about history, but could be wondering “Can the Holocaust happen here?” A short, honest and comforting answer could be, “The Holocaust happened a long time ago where people were allowed to be mean to other people. That was different from where we live, because we have rules and people, like police officers and judges, who protect us and keep us safe.”

talking to children about holocaust

Teach tolerance

Holocaust education is not academic; it has practical implications. Part of teaching about the Holocaust is raising children to respect other people and to expect that other people respect them. Little ones soak up what we say and do; commenting on people who we consider different conveys a dangerous message, while acceptance models behavior that helps foster understanding.

Create an environment of remembrance

As our children learn about the Holocaust, we can help cultivate in them a sense of empowerment and responsibility through acts such as lighting a yartzeit (memorial) candle on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), deciding as a family to donate to a charity for aging survivors or sharing stories about “righteous gentiles” who helped protect Jews from danger.

Employ age-appropriate aids

There are a plethora of books and films that address the Holocaust for children. The Sound of Music portrays a heroic response to the threat of Nazism in a way that is very appropriate for young children. Nine Spoons is a Hanukkah picture book that tells of faith and fortitude.

Make an effort to engage with survivors

Our children are members of the last generation that will have the privilege of knowing Holocaust survivors. Keep this in mind as your child grows old enough to participate in the sacred act of hearing living voices which will soon exist as echoes in history.

Follow your parental instincts

Each child is unique in temperament, sensitivity, and maturity. No one knows your child better than you do. Do not hesitate to reach out to others for advice, but remember that you are the ultimate guide regarding how and when you choose to share difficult information.

Our children did not inherit a world free from danger or fear. But we can use the lessons of the past to help them create a world that is safer, kinder, and more loving. Jewish tradition considers this to be every person’s obligation and urges us to fulfill thismitzvah (sacred task). Our sages remind us that when we teach our children we teach more than just those children–we teach our children, our children’s children and so on until the last generation. By tenderly educating our daughters and sons, we help ensure the well-being of all our descendents.

Rabbi Sarah ReinesSarah Reines is a rabbi and mother living in New York City. She served as a rabbi of Central Synagogue for more than a decade and is currently the co-president of the Women’s Rabbinic Network.


Egg Free Challah #1

2 Tablespons dry yeast
1 cup sugar
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup oil
2 cups water (room temperature)
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
12 cups flour (2kg)

Sprinkle a bit of sugar over the yeast.  Add warm water.  Mix and let bubble.  Add rest of the sugar, oil, cold water and salt, mixing as you go along.  Add 1/2 the flour and mix until smooth dough.  Add remaining flour and knead well.

Egg Free Challah #2

5 PKTS OF YEAST 2 ¼ teaspoons













KNEAD IT 10 min

Take oil and pour it over dough up and

Cover the bowl and let it rise for an hour.


This child survived the Holocaust.

Jadwiga Schwlikowska

so did she

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has collected photos taken of children who survived the Holocaust but who they have not collected much information about since.  Please encourage your families to look at these photos to share information if they REMEMBER ME? as their program is called or as a way to start thinking about how we will teach our children about what happened during the Holocaust.  Whether you are Jewish or not, this subject is relevant today and important to remember.

Children. They are the most vulnerable victims of war and genocide. Between 1933 and 1945, millions of children were displaced as a result of persecution by the Nazis and their collaborators. After World War II, relief agencies photographed some of the children who survived to help find their families. Now, more than 65 years later, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is working to discover what became of these young survivors. Will you help us find them?

We hope to gather as much information as possible so that we can preserve the record of their experiences for future generations.

In order to do this, we need your help. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in one of the photos, please contact the Museum’s Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center at or via phone at 202-488-0416.

Even if you don’t recognize anyone, please share these powerful photographs with your family and friends. Doing so will increase the chances of identifying these children and help raise awareness about the experiences of the most vulnerable victims of war and genocide.


The persecution of Jews and others by the Nazis and their collaborators left millions of children displaced, orphaned, or otherwise separated from their families.

Agencies providing assistance to displaced persons after the war included the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the International Relief Organization (IRO), both operating under the auspices of the United Nations. Jewish organizations also participated, including the American Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) and the World Jewish Congress (WJC).

These agencies helped displaced persons obtain housing, food, and medical care and establish new lives. In addition, they worked to reunite families separated during the war.

The photographs on this Web site were taken by relief workers during the immediate postwar period. Approximately 1,000 of them were taken at various locations and collected by the WJC.

The second set consists of more than 100 photos that were taken at Kloster Indersdorf, a children’s center established by UNRRA in Bavaria. In these photos, the children held placards with their names in the hopes that family members would be able to identify their missing loved ones.

* The content above is shared to broaden the reach of the Holocaust Museums’ website.  I copied the text from their site. There is much more to learn on the site to I encourage you to visit is a website that I helped to fund through my volunteer work with UJA (United Jewish Appeal of New York) and the Beginning Jewish Families Task Force. Families who are Jewish and families who know Jews will find it fascinating and relevant! This just launched this weekend.  You can sign up for their emails here.  In looking at the content tonight, I was impressed with the diversity and relevancy.  An edited baby name finder, they showed how artistic Judaica can be (Mezuzahs, seder plates etc.), decorating a Jewish Nursery; “Just add chotchkies”, a Jewish perspective on breastfeeding:


Jewish tradition views breastfeeding as both a burden and a blessing

and a funny interview:

Five Minutes with Rob Kutner

The writer for The Daily Show discusses the price you pay for a Jewish education and why Stephen Colbert would make a great Jewish dad”

Here’s what their website says: “There is no one way to parent Jewishly, and we are not about to change that. Whether you grew up observing Shabbat every Friday night, or had your first taste of matzo ball soup when you married into a Jewish family, the ways you can incorporate Judaism and Jewish culture into your parenting style are diverse. Kveller is here to give you ideas for your children’s early years–ideas for first-time parents, interfaith parents, queer parents, adoptive parents, and everything in between–with the hopes that you can find information and inspiration that is right for your family.

Kveller also wants you to know that you’re not alone. There are parents all over the country raising Jewish kids who confront similar questions and quandaries. Kveller is here to connect you to each other through our discussion forums, blog, and local event listings.

Our local event listings are being piloted in New York City, but we hope to expand to other cities and neighborhoods soon.”


In case you have not heard about PJ Library at the JCC this past year and now via B’nai Jeshurun, please learn about this groundbreaking and generous program to bring Jewish books into our homes:

sign up now:

Available in Manhattan in addition to the JCC and BJ:
Temple Israel- UES
Central Synagogue- Coming soon
Shaaray Tefila- UES Coming soon
92nd Street Y- Coming Soon
JCP- Downtown

From BJ: “We are delighted to bring the love for Jewish learning into your home, by sending your family books and music from the PJ Library!  The PJ Library is an award-winning Jewish children’s books and music program sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation that sends free,quality books noted for their beautiful illustrations and compelling stories and music monthly, to your home.  The PJ Library books inspire meaningful conversations about topics such as caring for the needy, Jewish views on the environment, holiday practices, questions about God, and more.  BJ is proud to be partnering with PJ Library to bring this wonderful opportunity to our families.

Families can sign up on the PJ Library website (see below for info from this page) to receive one book or CD per month.  Choose New York as the state, and then click Manhattan – Upper West Side – B’nai Jeshurun (BJ) as your community.”

*** Manhattan – Upper West Side – B’nai Jeshurun (BJ)

About Our Community

B’nai Jeshurun is a passionate Jewish community that inspires spiritual searching, lifts the soul, challenges the mind, and requires social responsibility and action. We strive to experience and express God’s presence as we study, pray, and serve together. We are unified yet diverse and explore the living tension between tradition and progress. We carry out deeds of loving-kindness, foster a meaningful relationship with Israel, and participate in serious dialogue and collaboration with Jewish people and people of other faiths to heal the world. We welcome you to study, pray, and serve with us.

Local PJ Partner

The PJ Library is provided by B’nai Jeshurun with the support of the Steinhardt Foundation, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and an anonymous donation to B’nai Jeshurun.

Sign Up

The PJ Library is free for families in the BJ community who have children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years.

→Sign Up!


B’nai Jeshurun

B’nai Jeshurun Youth and Family Department

Kveller, A Jewish Twist on Parenting

JCC in Manhattan

92nd Street Y


Contact Information

Kristen Kersey
Administrative Assistant, Youth and Family Education
212-787-7600 x260
2109 Broadway Suite 203, New York, NY 10023

***JCC in Manhattan (Upper West Side only)

About Our Community

The mission of The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan is to build an inclusive Jewish community that celebrates the strength of diversity. We are a home for individuals and families of all backgrounds to grow and to learn, and to care about and deepen their connections to one another. Rooted in Jewish values, our cultural, social, educational, and recreational programs offer multiple pathways into the richness of community life for members of all ages. Through our partnerships and programs, we seek to fulfill our responsibility to the people of Israel and Jews throughout the world, and to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and our city.

Local PJ Partner

The PJ Library is provided by support of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, an anonymous donation to the JCC in Manhattan, and Congregation Rodeph Sholom.

Sign Up

The PJ Library is free for families living in the Upper West Side of New York City with children between the ages of 6 months to 8 years.

→Sign Up!


Contact Information

To learn more about PJ Library on the Upper West Side please contact
Patty Diaz
The JCC in Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10023

The program is also expanding in Israel. Read on:

Israel’s government adopts PJ LIbrary

By Jacob Berkman · October 7, 2010

The government of Israel and a North American foundation are partnering on a literacy program for Israeli pre-schoolers.

Israel’s government will invest $500,000 to bring to Israel the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s PJ Library, which in the U.S. gives to more than 100,000 Jewish children free books with Jewish content.

The program has existed in Israel on a small scale, but the government’s boost will help the give free books each month to some 40,000 underserved children.

Sifriyat Pijama, as it is known in Hebrew, will distribute books through Israel’s schools. The books will go to children whose families have reduced or restricted financial means.

“It is exciting for us to see that the Israeli Ministry of Education finds the Sifriyat Pijama program worthy of such a large investment,” says Joanna S. Ballantine, executive director of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

Here is the press release:

Israel Launches Major Literacy Drive for Preschoolers

Based on North America’s The PJ Library, Israeli Literacy Program for Underserved Children Expands Fifteen Fold

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The Israeli Ministry of Education is investing $500,000 in a program, adapted from the United States, that will provide 44,000 underserved Israeli children, ages three to five, with free books every month during the school year.

The program is based on The PJ Library®, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation that provides free books and CDs with Jewish content to children throughout the United States and Canada.  The foundation has adapted the program for Israeli children, using appropriate books in Hebrew. Together, the two programs will now serve more than 100,000 children and their families across North America and Israel.

The Israeli version of the program, known as “Sifriyat Pijama (Pajama Library in Hebrew), began distributing books to 3,000 Israeli children through preschools last year. In the 2010-2011 academic year, the Israeli Ministry will invest heavily in books for the program with matching funding coming from the Massachusetts-based Harold Grinspoon Foundation and other donors.

As a result, Sifriyat Pijama is set to grow nearly 15 fold. There are approximately 160,000 to 180,000 Hebrew-speaking Israeli children in state schools. The program’s expansion will enable about 25 percent of this target audience to receive the books, according to Galina Vromen, Sifriyat Pijama director.

“Sifriyat Pijama is aligned with the Israeli government’s priorities of promoting early education literacy and teaching Jewish values that transcend religion,” Vromen says. “The books teach children about giving to others, the importance of seeking peace and showing gratitude. These are universal values.” In addition to giving the books to children, Sifriyat Pijama provides guides to parents that explain Judaism’s take on these values and offers activities and discussion topics for parents and teachers.

Another reason for the Israeli Ministry of Education’s investment in the books is its focus on programs that highlight 100 years since Hebrew was revitalized from a previously biblical language to a modern living language. “Sifriyat Pijama fit perfectly into the mix,” Vromen says.

The PJ Library was founded in 2005 in the model of Imagination Library, a program developed by Dolly Parton to increase literacy among financially disadvantaged youth. In North America, The PJ Library partners with Federations and Jewish Community Centers to primarily provide books to the homes of Jewish children without consideration of financial need. The idea of The PJ Library is to engage children and their families in the Jewish culture and traditions by providing books and CDs as gifts sent directly to their homes.

Sifriyat Pijama is different in that the books are being distributed through the schools and will go to children whose families have reduced or restricted financial means. The program in Israel combines the goals of The PJ Library and The Imagination Library.

“It is exciting for us to see that the Israeli Ministry of Education finds the Sifriyat Pijama program worthy of such a large investment,” says Joanna S. Ballantine, executive director of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

About The PJ Library®

The PJ Library is an award-winning Jewish family engagement program designed to strengthen the identities of  Jewish families and their relationship to Jewish community. The PJ Library, which started in 2005 by providing books to 200 families, today offers free, high-quality Jewish books and music each month to more than 65,000 children between the ages of six months and eight years in more than 130 communities in the United States and Canada.  The program was created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which funds institutions and programs that directly transmit Jewish learning to children, adults, and families. The PJ Library impacts families beyond the books they receive at home by building a community of practitioners, connecting families to their local Jewish communities, and enriching local Jewish programming. The PJ Library partners with philanthropists and Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Centers, and other Jewish non-profit organizations to bring The PJ Library books and music to children. The PJ Library pays 60 percent of the cost of sending one package each month to PJ Library participants, while the partnering organizations pay 40 percent, just $40 USD a year ($50 USD in Canada). For more information about The PJ Library, visit



4 Responses to Jewish

  1. Angie says:


    I’m Angie and I am currently a graduate student at Hunter College’s School of Education. I graduated from Cornell University in 2010 with a BS in Human Development.

    I am a B’nei Mitzvah and Hebrew tutor with 8+ years of experience. I lived in Israel for 7 years and I am looking for opportunities to work with students one-on-one or in small groups teaching Hebrew or preparing them for their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. I am fluent in both Hebrew and Russian.

    Please email if you’re interested!

  2. sarah D. says:

    Tying in so many themes on this wonderful page, here is a link to a Holocaust documentary, made by an UWS dad called “More Precious Than Pearls”. His father still works on 47th st. in the pearl business.

  3. Lisa says:

    I’m the market manager for the 79th Street Greenmarket at Columbus Avenue, and I’d love to share some news for a post about our kosher selections at the market. Would you email me back, and I’ll share the information with you?

    Thanks so much,

  4. StevenRof says:

    emotionless milieu!

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