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Abercrombie and Self Esteem

By Tzipporah La Fianza

When I first read about what Michael Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, had to say regarding their target market, I had nothing more than an eye roll to offer. I’ve never shopped, nor do I ever intend to shop at A&B, so it didn’t seem worth wasting time forming an opinion on it.

But then I got to wondering if perhaps, I should be a little more upset by it. Though I personally wouldn’t want to walk into a store targeted towards teens, especially one with the high price tags and blatant sexual images that Abercrombie and Fitch displays, the idea of this 68 year old man targeting teenage girls in such a negative way did not sit well with me.

I’m a curvy–that’s how we’re qualifying females over size 10 these days, in case you didn’t know–32 yr old woman myself, and no doubt A&F cares very little about what I think of their marketing practices. But I was once a young, impressionable, self-conscious, teenager dying to fit in like so many others are now. I remember clearly how it feels to have your clothing, your car, your weight, your nose, and your hair, all judged harshly by your peers. Only to then look into your worst critic’s eyes in the mirror every morning. Sizing yourself up, comparing your thighs to the model in the magazine, comparing your shoes to those of your friend’s; the worries of fitting in with just the right crowd all the while pretending you don’t really care at all. Working to get that “I just rolled out of bed looking this incredibly good” look without letting on that it took you nearly 40 minutes of teasing, blow drying and sixteen different hair products to look that casual. Oh, and school work too, because you are in school to receive an education after all, right?

Teenagers live in an emotionally exhausting head-space and even with juggling my very busy adult life with four kids to care for, I still don’t think I have anything on them. Honestly, I don’t miss it at all.

Though I feel that many companies’ marketing to be distasteful at best, I’m quick to remind myself that I am free not to support them with my hard earned money. At the end of the day, a company is going to do whatever is quickest to push its product. This isn’t the first nor the last company that will play off of the insecurities of their consumers in order to make sales. In fact, I researched a few more fashion stores generally targeted at teenagers and I found much of the same. This portion of the popular teen store 5.7.9.’s “about us” statement makes it abundantly clear that they know exactly who they are marketing to:

“…featuring sizes 00-9. The target age group is the 13 to 22 year old. She lives in the suburbs, comes from a middle & upper income background & uses malls and a social meeting places as well as a place to shop…”

Michael Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch

How can I find any particular fault with A&F that I don’t find with other stores targeting the same demographic? Maybe it was a bit of a faux pas for Michael to publicly state that “good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”  But under the surface, is there really any difference in what other stores that target teens and young adults do? I’m not so sure.

Time has taught me that self-esteem is not only an important asset to developing your own sense of identity in school, but it is the way you feel about yourself during those formative years that tends to stick with you like glue, becoming hardened in the cement of growing older, and eventually becoming nearly impossible to change once we hit out early thirties. Our self-esteem and that of our children, is something truly worth fighting for because when all is said and done, all of those high school relationships and BFFs will be behind us and all that we will really have left from the four year experience, is a diploma and a seed planted in us about our worth in this world. It’s clear that in this day and age, if you don’t fight hard to be the master of your own sense of self-worth, you’re going to have it stripped away or handed to you on a silver platter by any number of sources.

I know that I will never be able to walk into a Target and fit my size 14 body into one of their maxi dresses or skinny jeans. I accept that when I need a new shirt or skirt, I will have to head over to the “petite” (that’s a nice word for short) section of JC Penney to scavenge through the various racks of pre-shrunk cotton shirts and rayon blouses for something that doesn’t make me feel 82. I can even deal with the fact that my body shape isn’t within the framework of the American ideal. Honestly, it’s no skin off my back, I’ve never prided myself in my astounding fashion sense nor have I ever wanted to, as I like being my own person. But that’s not to say that I don’t recognize the effect this sort of marketing does have on teenage girls.

As far as I am concerned, Abercrombie and Fitch’s marketing might as well follow a you into high school and stand in line right next to that mean girl who pretends not to see you and shoves you with her shoulder in the hallway, or the group of girls who crack into sudden hysterics as you as you walk by their lunch table, causing you to both check the bottoms of your shoes for toilet paper and your nose for rogue boogers while you walk away blushing. If there is one thing teenagers do not need from their elders, is the encouragement to divide up into groups to bully and outcast.

Do I think that Abercrombie and Fitch should retract their statements or be shamed into coming out with a secondary clothing line for us of larger stature or of dorkier social status? Not at all. I still stand by my conviction that it is within their right to market as they see fit. Instead, I turn my attention to you, the consumers and the parents of the consumers, and implore you not to buy into this ideal of the perfect American body type. Instead of stressing over wardrobes so much, consider investing in who you are as a person. As cliché as the saying is, it’s quite true that beauty is only skin deep. Mothers, remember to tell your daughter how beautiful they really are because every teenage girl really needs to hear that, no matter how much she might deny it. Fathers, make sure your little girls know that they are treasured and respected, because someone who truly values themselves will always value others. Girls, demand for yourself respect from society, from your peers and always question companies who are willing to eagerly take your money and in exchange, hand you a token of your perceived net worth as a human being.

And for goodness sakes, never let a 68 year old CEO of a clothing store define who you are in this world.

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An Old Poem, in Honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah)

Authors note: this poem was written when I was 16 years old. Therefore, please do not mind the amateur vocabulary or grammar. When I was younger, I wanted to submit this to Yad Vashem but never got around to it. I never thought I would have my own blog to publish it on. Well, here it is. In loving memory to all those who passed away, including family. Please say a Psalm or do a good deed in their honor. Hashem Yinkom Damam.

Holocaust remembrance at the JCC of Clifton NJ.

trudging through ghetto street
hollow stomach, heavy feet
words telling, ‘you have to move’
searching for a scrap of food

I can’t go home empty handed
a child of eight had already abandoned
the innocent childhood, way of life
weighed with adult burdens and strife

a blood boiling, burning sensation
the posted words bolded: Liquidation
shoving us into those cattle cars
like a criminal behind jail bars

pulling us off one-by-one
I try to scram, but my body’s numb
mother said they are Jew-haters
but some of them, were Jewish traitors

it felt like unlimited amount of time
standing like dummies in a long line
those who couldn’t bear, would simply fall
as they went through our daily roll call

after that blow, came yet another
shocking separation from baby brother
I saw few teardrops in his eye
never a chance for final goodbye

huddling like herded horses in a barn
as though it were but thread and yarn
they chopped away our strands of hair
oppressive shame hovered in the air

robbing us of something so sacred
stripping our bodies, stark naked
soap provided made of human flesh
can such a shower make one feel fresh?

numbered prison clothes for our bare backs
ordering us out, toward the train tracks
day and night my bones would warily toil
for more blood to shed on German soil

napping on wood planks with 20 neighbors
was the break for us, poor tortured laborers
lucky if you got but a stale piece of bread
those were our ‘meals’, that’s what was fed

hunted as a youngster, I frequently did hide
other girls my age–ended life with suicide
some had no strength to put up their defenses
and ended their lives, on barbed wire fences

those alive then, developed a temporary maim
of forgetting in the moment, what’s normal? what sane?
some days—were no feelings, awfully strange
yet on others, every fiber was bursting with rage

unknown to us, was decreed a cruel resolution
as we struggled for a path, out of brutal confusion
filthy hands would naturally mask the eyes on our face
desperately avoiding truth, shielding vulnerable disgrace

withering slowly with each passing season
we were fewer and fewer…for we were the reason
that the world was drowning in its pollution
thus was Hitler’s, “Final Solution”

mercilessly murdering, is his claim to fame
for his deepest desire was to proclaim: Judenrein
a nation made of souls so determined to survive
showed him the answer would not be genocide

Dr. Mangele’s wavering finger, pointed to the right or left
the infamous man was granted, to choose on life or death
I miraculously endured the unspeakable possible dangers
of being sentenced to expire in those evil gas-chambers

surmounting trauma, in each survivors brains
witnessing wind fighting with furious–fiery flames
the thickening clouds, of the blackest black smoke
inhaling and exhaling, but trying not to choke

denied of any hope left, shattered anticipation
they continued their process of mass extermination
a complete population, group raped and mutilated
the whole Jewish people enslaved, to be annihilated

to the almighty lord, some turned to with tears
praying hard that g-d, not establish their fears
mothers cried for lost babies in their wombs
other hearts were broken over the myriads of tombs

after those few elongate, but bloody murderous years
it seemed that heaven opened its previously deafened ears
by word of ear, out there…new lives have begun…?
rumors began spreading of promising…freedom?!

overwhelming flow of emotions express jubilation
we tasted our first breath of liberty and salvation
it was true, true at last! The moment has arrived!
the allied forces tore down, ‘Big Germany’s’ Pride

no SS guards over you, stationed to control
there wasn’t any swastika positioned to patrol
away went uniforms, polished and pressed in starch
gone was a way of death that formed into a march

we could now eulogize all those that perished
new lives were to begin and children to be cherished
we were really free, the pleasure could burst
we lived beyond disease, starvation and thirst

maltreatment was a wicked technique that was used
our bodies had to heal for they were physically abused
each and every one of us weighed as light as a feather
in those moments we learned, time serves as a mender

as my mouth watered, the stomach butterflies sang
a country full of citizens, with a throbbing hunger pang
unfortunately at the sight of food, some people splurged
nevertheless, healthiness had gradually surged

regrettably, so many were left with scars bodily painted
hundreds of thousands were psychologically tainted
shrunken hearts were broken, and our spirit was tattered
from young to old, we looked exhausted and haggard

constant looming shadows gaze back at my stares
all alone in the dark with unending nightmares
survival is a skill, we had to work on each day
striving to do the best, in our own unique way

dealing with everything, from mental health to nutrition
made the battle to healing, an excruciating mission
withdrawn from feelings, that were forcefully suppressed
would make any normal being, miserably depressed

yet Life from that day was about reaping fresh seeds
and awakening those dormant, childhood memories
sometimes I can’t trust that I was of the few that escaped
and for all those that died we have a day to commemorate

all the recollections of tragic days in the bitter winter’s cold
and the soldiers scornful laugh when our heads were shaved bold
each and every corpse, so impossible to “just get over”
remembering remains evaporate from the chimneys crematoria

how can anyone describe, an immeasurably deep hurt?
or the stench of incalculable persons, bodies being burnt?
the terminology of this world, cannot express infinite pain
or portray engulfing sadness as my brethren’s ashes…fell as rain

Memorial Hand in The Garden of Meditation: “The Sculpture of Love and Anguish” at the Miami Holocaust Memorial

Photos by Rivka Bauman Photography

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Dear Pesach,

By Becky Brownstein

I’m a humor writer. I like to view regular everyday life situations in a humorous way. Then I take that situation and turn it into a story in my head. When I find the time, I take that situation and write it out as best as I can. I guess you can say that’s my way of coping. Hey, everyone has a right to their own coping mechanism. Mine is just a little less serious at times. That is until I turn the page in the calendar and see, staring right back at me, those 8 different colored calendar squares, signifying the impending doom, I mean holiday of Pesach.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t be so negative. It’s a beautiful holiday shared with family and friends and it is so nice once it gets here. But that’s the problem. The problem is the time until it gets here. There is so much anxiety and pressure associated with Pesach, that as soon as I start seeing the first signs of the kosher for Pesach Matzoh Meal on the shelf of my local grocery store, I start to have a mini panic attack. But of course my way of coping with that is to say “Nah, they’re just really early. No one is going to be buying that stuff now.” Which brings me to my next way of coping with life situations – denial.

Denial is great! I get through the day without a worry, until I realize denial is a terrible, horrible thing and stay up really late folding all the laundry I pretended I didn’t care about all day. Pesach is kind of the same. I can push it off only so long until I buckle down and say, “Okay Pesach, you got me. I feel that we have a strained relationship. On the one hand, we get along so well when you finally get here, and I can celebrate you and be happy with you. On the other hand, the preparation for your arrival causes me a lot of stress and aggravation. I’ll be honest with you and tell you that some people go through extreme anxiety and full blown panic attacks when they realize how soon you will be visiting them. Some people don’t even want you to visit them in their own homes and pack themselves up and go to family or friends. So take it easy, Pesach. I won’t deny you anymore, but you have to take it easy on me. Thanks!” And then I get on started cleaning.

*Small Tangent* I am terrible at math. Like, embarrassing-ly terrible (but I am really good at making up my own words). Surprisingly, it was in my 11th grade math class that I learned one of the best life lessons ever. My teacher said that her mother taught her that when times get tough, to just chip away at it. I remember thinking, “huh, that’s kind of genius”. Now as a mother who is in charge of the overall upkeep of this joint, I still hear that advice and have even taught it to my kids. My motto has become, “start in one area and work your way around.” *Tangent Over*

I have been making Pesach for many years now. Ten, to be kind of exact (can I have my medal now please?). I guess I became kind of a pro at list making, job delegating and when to start cleaning, that I have been able to keep the major panic attacks at bay. No, I am not just tooting my own horn. And no, it’s not because my husband is a psychologist (like how I threw that in there, honey?). I have actually started to view Pesach more in a, chip-away-at-it, kind of way and I am able to stay semi-stress free.

My first symptom of Pesach related stress had always been that overwhelming feeling of how many things I actually had to do. My second most stressful thought was, how am I able to do all those Pesach related jobs and also somehow take care of my children? I mean, they actually expect dinner, clean clothes and a semi sane and loving Mommy (so demanding!).  I won’t even get into varicose vein issues, back pain and overall exhaustion. And those years I was pregnant or breast feeding….. (breathe Becky, breeeeathe). I’m sure you get what I’m talking about. So, how do I manage you ask? I make lists. Yeah, Yeah, I know. Everyone makes lists. But seriously folks, THEY WORK!


All that jumbled mess in my head that had to somehow come into fruition made me insane. When I would write it all out on a paper and actually see what it was I had to do, it kind of gave me a sense of being okay and under control. Now, I tape up papers on the walls or write with a dry erase marker on the fridge, of all the things that I have to do and then make checks when they are finished. Checks totally sucked when I was in school. It meant that I made a mistake. Now, checks give me this amazing rush and feeling of accomplishment. I can make a check, breath in through my nose and out through my mouth and move on. IT’S AMAZING FOLKS! AMAZING!

*Small Tangent* My husband and I have an agreement when it comes to before-yom-tov gifts. I go out and do something nice for myself and then I later tell him it was from him. Win Win! *Tangent over*

Another trick I learned through the years, was to set a goal. Yeah, the seder would be a good one, but I needed my kitchen done before the seder or there wouldn’t be a Shulchan Aruch. This year, I started a new trend. I write on the calendar which day I would like to have a mani pedi and work my way backwards. So I get a before Yom Tov gift (since I hardly treat myself, I mean get treated, to a mani pedi, it’s something I look forward to) and I also have a deadline for myself. There are some years where I would miss my fake deadline (just picking any day of the week to get finished wasn’t really too threatening to me, aka Mr. Denial again. Hence the reasoning behind the mani pedi). So I had to crunch and lose my cool a little bit, which is okay. It’s okay to get overwhelmed, it’s just how overwhelmed you get that becomes kind of an issue.

So, no, there aren’t many funny things about getting ready for Pesach. There are hardly any funny things about shopping for Pesach. There aren’t that many things funny about lining an entire kitchen (unless someone unfamiliar with Pesach Minhagim walks in and sees your kitchen spaceship. Because that’s really funny). We all get through it somehow. Some of us even really enjoy it. Make the best of it and don’t forget to chip away at it! You will get there!!

I hope you all have a very happy Pesach that is filled with love and happiness and not full of the opposites of those.

Photo credit: Entelo

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“The Road Less Traveled” – A Baal Teshuva and a Ger’s Love Story

By: Jillian/Yosefa Gross

I was born and raised in a Philadelphia, PA suburb, where you were either Jewish, Catholic or plain gentile. I was one of three children who went to public school Mondays through Fridays, Hebrew School on Sunday mornings, as well as on Monday and Wednesday nights at our local “Conservadox/Traditional” synagogue, and I loved it. This was where I learned about my Jewish history, how to daven, and how to live as a Jew. Being that my Hebrew teacher taught everyone in the school, we all learned to pray the same, and we all thought everyone around the world prayed as our synagogue did. It was not until years later when I visited a Shiva home, that I learned the difference between Ashkenazi and Sephardic praying, as I was taught Sephardic and that is how the families in our synagogue had prayed.

As I grew older, there was a fire in my soul to learn more and to be something more, especially when I attended my first and only NCSY Shabbaton. Something about the lifestyle and shutting the world out for 25 whole hours a week, put me at peace and gave me a new happiness that I could not put my finger on. We prayed, ate, sang, danced, learned, and I floated home in a bubble of bliss. This bubble did not last very long, as it burst when I walked through the door of my parents’ home wearing a long skirt and a long sleeve shirt. My parents told me that they did not approve of an observant lifestyle in any way. No help. No support. I cried, begged, and pleaded, for I felt that the fire in my soul refused to dwindle and turn to embers. I wept for my mother’s childhood, as I remember her telling me how she herself was raised in an Orthodox home. At the immature age of twelve, I felt as though she had betrayed her faith. Life went back to normal for the next six years…well as normal as any Jewish teenager in a public Philadelphia High School. After all I was also the artsy type, not very popular if you catch my drift.

When I was eighteen, I graduated high school and I decided that I would go to college all the way in Nashville, TN. It was me starting my life over and getting the chance to be popular in a state where nobody knew me or my helicopter parents. Two weeks into the semester, I met my soul mate. He was 5”11 in height, with a high and tight Marine Corps haircut. He was shy, and alone, just like me. We were introduced by a mutual friend and we became best friends. I instantly fell in love. The year ended and we parted ways to be back at home for summer holidays. He told me that absence makes the heart grow fonder and that he thought of nobody but me all summer. He then asked me to be his girlfriend. My heart leaped and I immediately told him yes! Two months later, on October 15, 1999, he asked me to marry him. He said to me that he had dreamt of me since he was nine years old, but his heart had forgotten that dream until I came along. On October 15, 2005, I became his wife. We got married under a Chuppah, with an interfaith wedding Rabbi officiating. To fully grasp our dynamic and special relationship, I need to backtrack a little bit.

During the six years that we were engaged, we fought through many challenges including but not limited to; him being raised in the Lutheran Church (and trying to “save my soul” LOL), being in the Marine Corps and deployed (my father made him promise to wait until he was done before marrying me for personal family reasons), alcoholism (now he is over 10 years sober), physical abuse (he was abusive for the first year that we dated; however, we went to therapy and Thank G-d he has not been violent in over 9 years), self-mutilation due to depression (he has not cut himself in 5 years), his family not liking me originally because I was not a Christian, and some other “minor” issues. But on our wedding day, I stood under the Chuppah with my Marine in full uniform, I took my vows seriously, and drank from the Kiddush cup of my maternal grandmother – which was passed to my mother and that I will pass on to my children for theirs in the future, G-d willing. I carried my mother’s white leather bound Torah and married the man of my dreams. Eighteen months later my company transferred me to Nashville, TN, back to where we met. Ironical? I think not! And thus, we began our spiritual journey.


I found a Conservative synagogue that would welcome me for being married to a non-Jew even though I am a Bat Kohen and started attending there. At this time, I had no what Chabad was, or even that there was a Chabad House that started in Nashville a year into my college education, years before. My husband joined a church and we were happy… at least we thought. We had been back in Nashville for three years when my husband starting attending a “Bible Study” with some male church friends and he kept coming home with questions that he could not find sufficient answers to. By this time we were occasionally attending Chabad events, as I had found them through some type of online search. When we attended a Friday night service and dinner, a change occurred in my husband. As to how and why, you would have to ask him. My husband was working nights at this point and went to work that Friday night. He came home Saturday morning and he did not go directly to sleep. Instead, he went back to the synagogue for services, came home and read his Bible cover to cover, and only then did he take a nap because he had to. He returned to work that night, came home Sunday morning and DID NOT go to church. Instead he said to me that he no longer believed in the religion of his childhood and family, and that he knew in the bottom of his soul that Judaism was right for him. He asked me if I would help him find a Rabbi that would convert him.

My parents had their Orthodox Rabbi, who was a pulpit in their Conservative congregation, call my husband. They spoke for a very long time and the next time we visited my family, they met and agreed to perform the conversion. Due to distance, however, it was advised that it would be easier to find someone in Nashville. This was easier said than done. My husband asked the Rabbi of the Orthodox synagogue of Nashville, if he would perform his conversion and the Rabbi accepted, based on what he had already learned on his own. At this point, my husband had taught himself Hebrew and he was able daven in Hebrew, as well as effectively being able to follow the Torah portion in his stone Chumash. He also knew many of the laws of Kashrut; however, we would have to move to a very expensive part of town to become Shomer Shabbat and we could not afford that. He then went to the Chabad Rabbi and asked for a referral to a Rabbi that would do it, as after attending Chabad Nashville for over two years, the Rabbi was very familiar with us and loved us. My husband was told to have a private meeting with the Rabbi the very next day, and so he went. As my husband reminisced, he described it to me – how walking through the door was like walking on air, and after talking to the Rabbi for about an hour, he said that not only would he refer him to a Beit Din, but that he would also vouch for my husband the whole way!  He said that a Jewish soul is a Jewish soul no matter what it is born into and it sounded like he was just born into the wrong body this lifetime. Later he we would learn through a class, that it may not have been the wrong body, but a soul with more T’Shuava completed in this lifetime.

During this transition, the fire in my belly burned again and I made the decision that this time, because I was now a married adult, I would not let anything stand in my way to becoming the “Orthodox Jew” that I felt I was born to be. Feeling this strong passion for a destiny that I thought was mine, did not make the process any easier. The first issue that we battled through was when we were becoming Shomer Shabbat. Being that we were not officially considered Shomer Shabbat, as we have not yet moved to a home with walking distance from the Shul, we would stay with different friends of ours so that we could attend Shul. When we stayed at home, we would try to keep Shabbat to the best of our ability. It was during this challenge that I learned two valuable lessons in my life. The first was how to ask friends for the favor of letting us stay with them on Shabbat, which at first, I felt awkward doing so. The second was how to stand up for my marriage. It had not occurred to me that in Orthodox Judaism, my Ketubah was not Halachically recognized because my husband was not Jewish at the time we married. It brought on some hurt feelings when it was brought to my attention, thus for sleeping arrangements, we were placed separate in some homes. However, in the long run, it made our marriage and our friendship with each other stronger. While it also challenged some of those other friendships, it made them stronger in ways as well.

Now we live in our townhome .2 miles from our synagogue and have a little (ok tiny, but who cares?) kosher kitchen and we are happy! The only thing that would make it more perfect is if my family was more supportive.

My parents and siblings were happy and proud with the original announcement that my husband, whom they adore, was converting to Judaism. However, when I announced that it would be an Orthodox conversion and that I was becoming more observant as well, the happiness ended and the disappointment poured in. My mother again said that she did not support it because she was raised in Orthodox Judaism and she did not like it, as she felt that “it is a very narrow minded and secluded way to live”. My father felt that many of the commandments that the Orthodox practices today are not only no longer necessary, but also financially strapping. Thus, he said that it is shunned by society and resulting in the seclusion of Judaism in the secular world, and forces Jews to live in their Shtetl. When I announced to my parents that I would no longer be answering my cell phone to them on Shabbat, as they were the only call I took and I did drive, shop or even leave my home when I was home with them on Shabbat, they were disappointed and asked how would they get in touch with me if there was an emergency? I explained to them that even if there was an emergency on Shabbat (1,000 miles away), I would not be able to do anything anyway until I got there. The disappointment lasted for a little while but I am happy to relay that as I write now, things have gotten significantly better. My mother and I have an agreement that if I leave the cell phone plugged in and on, she will not call and she has kept her word.  She even helped me when it was time to replace my kitchen items by reminding me that I had to get rid of all my glass that had been heated at any time, including all my Tupperware, etc. I think that while they may not agree, like or even support our choice, they have definitely gotten to a place of respect and that is enough for me so far. While this may be the case, it is still hard because no matter the age, we all want to make our parents happy.

It was not any easier with my husband’s parents, as they show that they do not truly understand what it means to convert. I believe that his father knows and understands, as he is very worldly and has made some comments in the past that show some level of understanding, but I think his mother may honestly be in some sort of denial (not like the river in Egypt LOL). When he told her that he was converting to Judaism, she told him to make sure that with everything he learns, he should still “read his Bible.” Over some years, things have gotten a little easier with them, and they now understand some things about keeping Kosher. We are now embracing the challenge of how to address the fact they cannot bring food that they made at their house into our home. Wish us luck and give us Blessings!

An inspiring, divine providence tale: a friend of my husband’s from college, whom we have not seen in over seven years, had found us on Facebook about a year ago and has been following our journey. She is the mother of somebody that we went to college with and she is Native American. Well, over the past few months, she has studied and has become very familiar with laws of Kashrut. Last week, she privately messaged me with an amazing offer, and a true blessing. Around two years ago, she bought her new house and she was going to renovate the kitchen. She purchased some countertop appliances and never ended up using two of them, and they were sitting in her garage untouched and unopened. She saw my Facebook posts and she offered me a new toaster oven, a new roaster, and other goodies for my new kitchen. As she was unable to get them to me, I was welcome to them free of charge if I would just come get them and stay for a visit. I immediately jumped at this amazing opportunity. Hashem really has his way of providing for my mitzvah! We went over  to her one Sunday evening, for a four hour visit. It was wonderful. She believes in and supports what we are doing. She was full of nothing but love for us, just as we remembered her! She even joked with my husband and told him that moving onward, she would happily eat all of his pork chops and shell fish. When I came home and opened the toaster oven to remove the insides to be Toiveled, I was amazed! This thing was huge!! It can bake two 12 inch pizzas or roast meat on a rotation, like a rotisserie. Well, being that we now keep Kosher, it has become my new dairy oven.


Well, this is our journey thus far! I would be honored to share more with you – my wonderful, balaboostas women!

Photo by Rivka Bauman Photography and Other

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A Moment of Silence

Exactly one week has passed since the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre. As the world continues to mourn the loss of 26 innocent souls, we hope and we pray for comfort and clarity during this painful time. This poem is in loving memory of Noah Pozner, the youngest and the only Jewish victim. It is also in dedication of the other 25 lives that were lost. Noah, please beseech our father in heaven to free the world of evil and darkness. “May G-d comfort your family, together with all mourners of Zion and Jerusalem”. Thanks to the Galenas, your Taco dream is becoming a reality.

In their final moments
Inhaling their last breath
They did not hear silence
Facing the angel of death

They heard sounds of gunfire
Piercing the once innocent air
The gut-wrenching cries of children
Mourning a world they thought was fair

When the bullets stopped flying
Wailing sirens took its place
Sheer terror and utter havoc
On every survivor’s face

TVs and radios cackle
More opinions and banter
Asking the one big question
Though there will never be an answer

Shots, sirens, cries, no silence
The world yammers on and on
How? Why? Who? Still no silence
People are hurting, children are gone

Little smiles lost forever, be silent
Grieving parents’ arms left open and bare
Brave teachers now angels, keep silent
Our world needs a moment to hear….

Please join in on this “Random Acts of Kindness” campaign to bring more goodness and love into this world. Let us remember: Charlotte Bacon – Daniel Barden – Rachel Davino – Olivia Engel – Josephine Gay – Ana M. Marquez-Greene – Dylan Hockley – Dawn Hochsprung – Madeleine F. Hsu – Catherine V. Hubbard – Chase Kowalski – Jesse Lewis – James Mattioli – Grace McDonnell – Anne Marie Murphy – Emilie Parker – Jack Pinto – Noah Pozner – Caroline Previdi – Jessica Rekos – Avielle Richman – Lauren Rousseau – Mary Sherlach – Victoria Soto – Benjamin Wheeler – Allison N. Wyatt 

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Unforgotten Soldier

This poem is being published as a tribute to all of the Israeli soldiers that are fighting for Israel. As Israel takes a stand and retaliates against Hamas and the terror that they unleash on a daily basis to the citizens of Israel, we pray for our Jewish Chayalim to be protected and for the safety of the Holy Land during these trying times. If you live anywhere in or near the danger zone, we are sending thoughts and prayers your way. Three causalities are three too many.  Hashem Yikom Damam. To all those who are reading this, if a chapter of Psalms can be said or simply a good deed done, that would mean a whole lot. Please share and be safe.

Written by: Lieba Bard-Wigdor

From the city of Tel Aviv
He walks to the door
Gradually turns around
And kneels on the floor

Aba, please don’t leave me
We need you right here
The child sounds so desperate
His voice is filled with fear

Our Jewish brothers need me
My son, please understand
This is what I must do
To protect our holy land

Wherever Elokim takes me
My son, I want you to know
You will be with me always
But now I really must go

He watches his father leave
As a tear rolls down his cheek
He waves the soldier goodbye
For he can no longer speak

Many years pass on by
Since that very last day
His father’s final departure
And forever taken away

He looks into the mirror
He sees his father’s face
It brings back memories
Of a familiar time and place

From the city of Tel Aviv
He walks to the door
Gradually turns around
And kneels on the floor

Aba, please don’t leave me
Your father did the same
I do not want to lose you
To be another forgotten name

My son, Saba is remembered
Although we may be apart
He’s been watching over me
As he is always in my heart

Now I will watch over you
As my father did the same
I love you, B’ni Hayakar
I won’t be a forgotten name

Stay strong, my dear son
I will be okay, don’t cry
For this land is ours forever
B’ni, Am Yisrael Chai

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A Day in the Life – A Narrative of Balaboostas

Written By: A Balaboosta Fan

The conversation is hopping as I find myself amongst friends, whose facial reactions say it all. With each of us living our busy lives, it can be hard to find the time to successfully meet up and enjoy a girl’s night out. Yes, our lit up faces do say it all…it’s about time!

After the hugs, the kisses, and the “omg-you-look-amazing” conversation starters, I’m reclining on the couch, enjoying the moment, and surveying my surroundings. I looked forward to tonight, and so I try to push away that sluggish feeling that takes over my body after an exhausting day. Zoning out of  the many conversations that form a symphony of chatter throughout the room, I hear words like, “my husband”, “my son”, “my mother in-law”…”Balaboostas.”

Balaboostas. It’s been a month since I joined the online Jewish community for married (or divorced) women. At first, I thought I should not bother, as life was busy without a new “obsession.” But I kept on hearing that it has such great resources, practical advice for the day to day things, and a strong body of support for those who seek it. I joined and I laugh when I think that this time, the obsession was worthwhile.

Lost in my thoughts, I try to ponder the meaning of a Balaboosta. Growing up, I remember how when something felt unfair to me in my parents household, they would softly chide that one day, I would run my own home and decide what goes and what does not. That did not stop my legs from trembling as I walked up to the car of my first date. If there was any consolation, he looked just as nervous as I was.

It took a couple of years for me to find “Mr. Right” and it was the beginning of the scariest, yet most wonderful adventure of my life. When he proposed and we announced our engagement, the blessings and wishes for the new couple did not stop raking in. I understood why each of those wishes came with a tip of advice. “Marriage is not easy”, they would say. “It takes time, compromise, and respect for one another to make it through the rough patches.” Although it did not just suddenly dawn on me, I still could not help but feel that constant fluttering in my stomach which reminded me of how excited I was to be in love and to begin a new life with the most amazing guy, but also how much I hoped that I would get it right, and be up to the challenges that face me in the future.

Getting it right meant all the more to me when we brought our first child into the world. After nine months of ups and downs in my moods, crying how fat I am, petrified that I do not have what it takes to be a mom, I try to shove all of my worries down the drain and toughen up for my beautiful and healthy baby daughter. With my husband, family, and friends, I know that they are all there for me and it is okay to ask for help when I need it. As I rock her to sleep, I wonder about her personality, I think about her education, and I hope to raise her well, to be a proud Jewish woman in her own unique way.

I jolt out of my reverie when I hear my name being called. I am being asked what has got me floating off to another world. I smile. I tell her that I am thinking about how it was just yesterday when we graduated high school, and now look at us, as successful moms, wives, businesswomen, all on our different paths, raising families and having it all, well…except the time to do this more often!

“I know, right?!” she shrills back….”It’s a good thing we have Balaboostas, eh?”