ABC’s of Bar/Bat Mitzvah

A 7-point guide to the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony.

Caterer? Photographer? What is the essence of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah? Here are the seven key points you need to know.

(1) Bar Mitzvah Basics

First, let’s understand what the words “Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah” actually mean. The phrase translates as “son (daughter) of commandment” – i.e. the young person becomes responsible to observe the commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah.

The purpose of the commandments are to keep our lives focused on what’s truly important: family, community, and a relationship with God.

Although we commonly refer to “having” a Bar Mitzvah, technically speaking, this is impossible. The term “Bar Mitzvah” refers to a status, in the same way that being a student or parent is a status.

A Jewish boy automatically becomes Bar Mitzvah when he turns 13 years old, and a girl at age 12. (In general, girls tend to mature earlier than boys.)

On a deeper level, just as their bodies are growing and changing, so too their souls are growing and changing. Kabbalistic tradition says that a person’s spiritual being has several levels of soul. A new level of soul (called neshama) comes into awareness at Bar/Bat Mitzvah time. This is the time when moral awareness and sensitivity fully develops, enabling young people to take responsibility for their actions.

One’s actions after reaching this stage of life are considered more significant for another reason: The Talmud explains that a mitzvah performed because one is commanded, is considered greater than a mitzvah performed voluntarily. This is because a person has a natural aversion to fulfilling an obligation. Overcoming this aversion is a sign of maturity, and this is what the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrates – reaching the stage of obligation.

(2) Synagogue Event

On Shabbat (and various other days), the Torah – a scroll containing the Five Books of Moses – is read publicly. The Torah is divided into 54 portions, following an annual cycle, with one portion read each week in the synagogue.

The weekly portion is further sub-divided into seven sections. At Shabbat morning services, people are called up and honored with saying the special blessings before and after the reading of each section.

The Torah is removed from the holy ark, and then carried to the bima, the raised platform from where the Torah is read. While the Torah is being carried, everyone stands out of respect.

Colloquially speaking, when people say, “I had a Bar Mitzvah,” it means that they had an aliyah to the Torah in synagogue. “Aliyah” means to “go up” to the bima.

The Torah scroll is meticulously written by hand by a God-fearing scribe. A number of rules ensure that the Torah is written with perfect accuracy, thus maintaining the unbroken chain of tradition back to Mount Sinai.

On the Shabbat following his 13th birthday, the young man is called up to the Torah. This calculation follows the Jewish calendar. At the conclusion of his final blessing, some synagogues have the custom to good-naturedly pelt the young man with candies.

At this point it is customary for the father to recite the following blessing:

Following this, the bar mitzvah boy reads a portion from the biblical prophets, called the Haftorah. During a period of persecution 2,000 years ago, Jews were forbidden from reading the Torah, so they instituted a reading from the prophets that corresponds to the theme of that week’s Torah portion. The Haftorah is read with a unique traditional melody.

Following services, the congregation usually joins in a Kiddush, a small lunch that begins with a blessing over wine.

(3) The Reception

One popular feature of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration is a reception. This should ideally be held on the day which the young man/woman becomes 13/12 years old. If necessary, the celebration may be postponed somewhat.

There are different practices regarding what is done at a Bar Mitzvah celebration. It is proper for the young person to relate some Torah thoughts at the celebration – i.e. the famous Bar Mitzvah speech. The speech usually contains ideas from the weekly Torah portion, and emphasizes the young person’s commitment to Jewish values.

And what about that Titanic-themed party with Hollywood-style special effects? It’s important that the festivities should not become so ostentatious that the spiritual significance becomes secondary. The new adult should appreciate that this is a celebration of maturity and responsibility, a message which will carry through for the rest of their life.

(4) The Gift

Now what about the ubiquitous Bar Mitzvah gift? In the old days, the gift of choice was a fountain pen, then a Walkman, and today an iPod.

Those are just fine but there are much more meaningful gifts for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Since this event celebrates the young person becoming obligated in the commandments, the most appropriate gift is, naturally, one that gives a deeper understanding of the Jewish heritage and enables one to better perform the mitzvot! (An iPod, s/he can get anytime.)

With that in mind, my favorite gift idea is a tzedakah (charity) box. Every Jew should have a tzedakah box in his home, so he can drop in change on a regular basis. The money can then be given to support a Jewish school or institution – in your home town or in Israel (every Jews’ “home town”). There are beautiful tzedakah boxes made of wood and silver, and you can see a selection here.

The next obvious gift is a Jewish book. There are many hundreds of titles to choose from, so I’ve narrowed it down to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Top 10. Just click on the title to order:

Stone Chumash (published by ArtScroll), an excellent translation of the Five Books of Moses with running commentary on every page
Book of our Heritage by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov (Feldheim), a beautiful overview of the Jewish holidays
The Bar Mitzvah Treasury, an illustrated collection of customs and inspiring stories (by Rabbi Yonah Weinrib and Rabbi Yaakov Salomon; ArtScroll)
The Thinking Teenagers Guide to Life by Rabbi Akiva Tatz (Targum), gripping essays on forging a path through life
Sand and Stars by Yaffa Ganz (ArtScroll), a two-volume book about Jewish history, written especially for teenagers
Shmooze by Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith, a fun book that provokes thoughtful discussions on essential Jewish issues
The Long Road to Freedom, by Avner Gold, an exciting historical novel filled with intrigue and insight into Jewish life.
Bible for the Clueless But Curious by Rabbi Nachum Braverman (Leviathan), packed with wisdom on relationships, spirituality and more
Candles in my Window by Beth Firestone, a delightful fiction book about a young girl discovering her Judaism
Triumph – Aish.com’s popular book of inspiring true stories of challenge and spiritual growth.

If all else fails, you can always give money. It is a nice idea to give $18 (or some multiple thereof), since the numerical value of 18 in Hebrew is “Chai,” which means “Life.”

(5) Tefillin

Upon reaching age 13, a boy begins the obligation to put on tefillin every day (except Shabbat and holidays).

Tefillin are two square, black leather boxes, which contain parchments of Torah verses. Attached to each box are black leather straps. One of the boxes is worn on the bicep, and the other is worn on the front of the head.

The two boxes represent the two ways that we serve God in this world: thought (the head) and action (the arm). The arm-tefillin contains one parchment in one compartment, whereas the head-tefillin is four parchments, each in its own separate compartment. This is to signify that in service of God, the two powers must work congruently: We use the totality of our mind to gain the full perspective, and then we act with a singular clarity of purpose.

Inside each tefillin box are parchments containing four Torah sections, which speak about God’s unity, the obligation to observe the commandments, and the responsibility to transmit Judaism to our descendants.

If you’re really feeling generous, Tefillin is a wonderful gift for a Bar Mitzvah boy. Owning a pair of Tefillin (and wearing them!) is an important part of Jewish identity. But since they are expensive (about $400), not every Bar Mitzvah boy has a pair. To make sure you get kosher Tefillin, see here or here.

(6) The First Bar Mitzvah

Now here’s a Jewish trivia question: Who was the first person to have a Bar Mitzvah?

We could actually suggest three answers:

1) Abraham – The first person to begin observing some of the mitzvot was “the first Jew,” Abraham. However, he was older than age 13 when he started, so…

2) Isaac was the first person who was “Jewish” upon reaching age 13. The Torah writes, “And Abraham made a great party on the day” (Genesis 21:8), which the Midrash explains was a celebration for Isaac becoming Bar Mitzvah.

3) Mount Sinai – Only when the Torah was given at Mount Sinai did Jews became truly obligated to observe the mitzvot. Therefore, the Sinai experience was actually a mass Bar/Bat Mitzvah of the entire Jewish people.

(7) What’s Next?

Some have the misconception that Jewish practice is confined to the synagogue, or to an occasional holiday celebration at home. The truth is that Torah and mitzvot punctuate every moment of our lives: setting standards for business ethics, proper speech, honoring parents, what we eat, and even how to care for pets!

We refer to these laws as Torat Chaim, literally “instructions for living.” Torah is the ultimate “owner’s manual” for maximizing our pleasure and potential in life.

Torah is a basis for life’s most important questions: How can I live a meaningful life? How can I build successful relationships, deal honestly in business, and fulfill my personal potential? How can I really make a difference in the world?

Torah study emphasizes building a rational basis of belief, to engage one’s mind, stimulate the intellect through questioning and debate, and thereby nourish the soul. It does not endorse a leap of faith, all-or-nothing decisions, or disengagement from the world.

The goal of any Jew is not only to study the Torah, but to become a “living Torah,” who embodies the lofty ideals of “love your neighbor,” “peace on earth,” “justice for all,” “universal education,” “all men are created equal,” “dignity of the individual,” and “the preciousness of life.” These concepts all originate from the Torah, and these have defined the moral makeup of humanity.

In Jewish life, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah does not represent the culmination of one’s Jewish education, but rather a stepping-stone to a more mature and profound relationship with Jewish learning.

This is illustrated by the following idea: If even one letter is missing from a Torah scroll, it is rendered invalid. According to tradition, each Jew corresponds to one letter in the Torah. This teaches that each and every one of us has an integral role to play in the future of the Jewish people.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah means to become educated, and to strengthen one’s Jewish pride through knowledge and understanding. It means to grow Jewishly, one step at a time. It means standing up for Israel and respecting every Jew. It means taking responsibility for the world, using the Torah as our guide, because that is the mission of the Jewish people. And most of all, it means to love being Jewish.

Success in achieving these goals is what we wish for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and the beginning of that journey is what we celebrate on this joyous occasion.

Mazel tov!

 

About the Author: Rabbi Shraga Simmons

Rabbi Shraga Simmons grew up trekking through snow in Buffalo, New York, enjoying summers as a tour guide at Niagara Falls. He holds a degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. He is the co-founder of Aish.com, and founder of the Torah study site, JewishPathways.com. He is also the co-founder of HonestReporting.com, and author of “David & Goliath”, the definitive treatment of media bias against Israel (2012). He lives with his wife and children in the Modi’in region of Israel.

 

What are the health & nutritional benefits of pomegranate?

Six Health Benefits of Pomegranate
Do you feel like your diet is missing something? Have you been trying to lose weight, improve your digestion, or just feel better overall? As someone who struggled with her weight for years before finally finding weight loss methods that work, I want to share with you one of my favorite fruits.

The pomegranate has helped immensely in my weight loss and health improvement journey. There are a wide variety of positives associated with consumption of pomegranate fruit, juice and seeds. I’ve investigated six health benefits of pomegranate below.
1. Pomegranate Aids In Weight Loss & Management
Pomegranate aids in weight loss for many reasons (source). First and perhaps most important – pomegranate seeds are low in calories. One serving (about 3/4 cup) of seeds has only 83 calories, making them the perfect snack for people who are watching their weight.

Pomegranate seeds are also high in fiber, with one serving boasting 4 grams. Fiber is important for everyone, but especially those focused on weight loss because it will help you feel full longer. This means you will be less likely to overeat.

2. Health Benefits For Men
Pomegranate juice can decrease a man’s risk of impotency by helping manage arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is a condition in which blood vessels become blocked, causing many serious health effects including impotence. It is the high level of antioxidants found in pomegranates that helps with arteriosclerosis.

Pomegranates and pomegranate juice can also help treat and prevent prostate cancer. In trials, it has been found that pomegranate juice, because of its high phytochemical content, helps to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent it from metastasizing (source).

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3. Health Benefits for Women
The pomegranate doesn’t discriminate – it just helps men and women in different ways! Pomegranate juice is very good for pregnant women. It contains important vitamins that expectant mothers need, including niacin, folic acid, potassium, calcium, and vitamin C, as well as iron and fiber (source).

Pomegranate juice can also help pregnant women by reducing cramps and sleep difficulty. It also helps the baby by increasing blood flow, decreasing his or her risk for brain damage.

For women, pomegranate juice prevents estrogen-responsive breast cancer cells from growing. The juice has a phytochemical inhibits aromatase, which is used to create estrogen, which in excess increases your risk of having breast cancer.
4. Beauty Benefits For Everyone
Pomegranate benefits your biggest external organ – the skin – as much as it does your internal organs. Pomegranate offers all kinds of benefits for the skin and overall appearance, including the following (source):

Regenerate cells
Pomegranate protects the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and dermis (second layer of the skin) by encouraging skin cell regeneration. This aids in the repair of tissues, promotes healing wounds, and encourages circulation to the skin.

Protect from the sun
Consuming pomegranate gives the skin compounds that help protect against free radicas, which in excess, can cause sun damage, cancer and sunburn. The oil from a pomegranate contains the antioxidant ellagic acid which helps inhibit skin tumors, protecting the body from skin cancer.

Slow aging process
Pomegranates slow down the appearance of aging. They help prevent common signs including hyperpigmentation, age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles. Pomegranate also softens the skin and produces elastin and collagen, creating a more youthful appearance. Your skin will be firmer, smoother, and more youthful.

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Help with all skin types
Pomegranate will help you put your best face forward. If your skin is dry, pomegranates can help, which is why their extract is often added to skin care products. Their molecular structure can penetrate deep into most skin types to add extra moisture.

If your skin is oily or combination, pomegranate can sooth acne breakouts while minimizing the scarring that can occur after a breakout.

5. Prevent All Kinds Of Illnesses
Pomegranates don’t just provide vitamins for pregnant women. Everybody needs vitamins C and K, and pomegranates provide 17 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C and 20 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K (source).

Vitamin C is important for a healthy, functioning immune system, as well as fast wound healing, healthy gums, and the manufacture of collagen and elastin. It also enhances iron absorption. Vitamin K is crucial for strong, healthy bones and proper blood clotting.
6. Decrease Other Bad Things In The Body
For men and women who are trying to lose weight, it is especially important to make sure you are keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in check. Pomegranate lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises HDL (good cholesterol) (source).

Many overweight men and women also suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) which can lead to a variety of problems, including heart disease, heart attacks, aneurysms, and kidney failure (source). Drinking just 1.7 ounces of pomegranate juice per day can lower blood pressure by as much as 5 percent.

Pomegranate can also decrease the risk for osteoarthritis by preventing cartilage deterioration, and it prevents plaque from building up in the arteries, which can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure.

With so many great health benefits of pomegranate, everyone should try to include more in their diet. Some people avoid pomegranates because they are difficult to cut up and serve, but this video shows you how to do it easily:
Get yourself a fresh pomegranate or some pomegranate juice from the grocery store today, and start consuming it regularly. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you start to notice improvements in your weight loss and improved health endeavors!

 

New York Jewish Parenting Guide

Children Have An Especially Hard Time Crossing The Street When On Their Mobile Phones

Pedestrians who talk on the phone put themselves in danger, but the risk is even greater when it comes to children. Now that the summer holiday is over, millions of kids are roaming the streets while talking or texting on their mobile devices.

A study conducted by researchers from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University unequivocally shows how a child pedestrian’s ability to safely cross the road is hindered more during a cell phone conversation than an adult’s.

Crossing the road is not an easy task. According to the study, “it demands pedestrians to integrate cognitive, attentional and motor control abilities.” In order to safely cross the road, “pedestrians must look for approaching traffic, signs, signals, and listen to auditory cues indicating of approaching vehicles.”

Pedestrians are also required to complete several cognitive tasks, such as: estimate the speed and distance of traveling vehicles and assess their arrival. Thus, “visual, auditory or cognitive based distractions, which may draw attention from the crossing task, can cause pedestrians to miss critical information from the environment, and as a consequence, make wrong assessments and be exposed to higher risk of collision,” according to the study.

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Furthermore, US statistics show that 20 percent of the third-graders (aged 8–9) own cell phones, 40 percent of fifth-graders (aged 10–11) do, and 83 percent of middle school students (aged 11–14) carry mobile devices.

“Although many children carry cell phones, the effect that cell phone conversations have on children’s crossing behavior has not been thoroughly examined,” BGU‘s Prof. Tal Oron-Gilad said in a statement.

According to the researcher, one-third of the road traffic fatalities in low- and middle-income countries are among pedestrians. “This high level of involvement is particularly meaningful for child pedestrians as the proportion of child pedestrian fatalities is significantly high relative to adults,” she adds.

The study, which was published recently in Safety Science, was conducted at the BGU Virtual Environment Simulation Laboratory, one of the world’s most sophisticated traffic research facilities, which enables researchers to measure pedestrian reactions to virtual reality scenarios. BGU’s pedestrian dome simulator consists of a 180-degree spherical screen aligned with an accurate three-projector system large enough to immerse a participant within its circumference, according to the university.

The simulator experiment was conducted in a virtual city environment with 14 adults and 38 children who experienced street-crossing scenarios paired with pre-determined cell phone conversations. The subjects were requested to press a response button whenever they felt it was safe to cross, while the researchers tracked their eye movements.

“The results showed that while all age groups’ crossing behaviors were affected by cell phone conversations, children were more susceptible to distraction,” Oron-Gilad says. “When busy with more cognitively demanding conversation types, participants were slower to react to a crossing opportunity, chose smaller crossing gaps and allocated less visual attention to the peripheral regions of the scene.”

 

In addition, the researchers found that the ability to make better crossing decisions improved with age. The most prominent improvement was shown in the “safety gap” – each age group maintained a longer gap than the younger one preceding it.

According to Oron-Gilad, it’s important to take the new findings into account when training young pedestrians for road safety and “increase public awareness with children going back to school.”

By Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels

 

Israeli Researchers Decode Autism Genes

According to the Autism Society, the prevalence of autism in US children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). This makes autism the fastest-growing developmental disability.

In a new study, Israeli researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev say they have taken “a step closer” to understanding the genetic basis of autism, which they hope will lead to earlier diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Dr. Idan Menashe, Mr. Erez Tsur and Prof. Michael Friger studied the sequences of over 650 genes that are associated with autism and discovered characteristics that distinguish them from other genes in the genome. Their research was recently published in Behavior Genetics

A unique signature

Among the distinct characteristics of autism genes is their exceptional genomic length, which is even longer than other brain-expressed genes of closely related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Additionally, the authors found a unique genomic signature in these genes that was shaped by negative selection, an evolutionary process that removes disruptive mutations from genes over generations.  

Menashe and his colleagues also searched for evidence of positive selection in these genes. Such a mechanism could explain the presence of autism in the human population. However, no indications of positive selection acting on autism genes were found. Thus, autism susceptibility mutations are maintained in the human genome probably because they cause the disorder only in combination with other genetic and/or non-genetic factors. 

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Finally, the authors used the unique genomic characteristics of autism genes to identify additional candidate genes for the disorder. They showed that this evolutionary signature is highly efficient in capturing well-established autism genes. These findings broaden our understanding about the genetic mechanisms that are involved in autism, and provide new tools for the discovery of new candidate genes.  

We are a step closer to understanding the genes associated with autism and understanding the biological process that is involved in the disease,” Menashe told The Times of Israel. “This study gives us a tool to help identify additional autism genes, using the genetic signature we have found, and from there hopefully to be able to diagnose autism earlier.”

By Yonatan Sredni, NoCamels

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, 125 East 85th Street, New York, NY

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, 125 East 85th Street, New York, NY

The Consulate General of Turkey in New York and Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun are honored to present a conference on “The Ottoman Turkish Sephardi Jews: Inclusion and Prosperity”

Date: Sunday, April 10, 2016 starting at 9:45 am
Venue: Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, 125 East 85th Street, New York, NY 10028 (between Park and Lexington Avenues)

Brunch with Sephardic delicacies will be offered
Free admission

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Speakers:
– Mr. Ertan Yalçın, Consul General of Turkey

– Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun

– Dr. Mark Meirowitz, Moderator, Asst. Prof. SUNY Maritime College

– Mr. Naim Avigdor Güleryüz, Project Coordinator, Jewish Museum, İstanbul, Turkey
“The Jews of Turkey – From the Quincentennial and Beyond”

-Dr. Ozan Arslan, İzmir University of Economics, İzmir, Turkey
“The Young Turks and the Ottoman Jews at the Beginning of the 20th Century: Converging Interests and Common Threat Perceptions in a Polarized Europe and the Near East”

– Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis, Graduate Center, CUNY
“Sephardic Houses in Ottoman Damascus in the Late 18th and 19th Centuries”

 

Weaning baby triggers this surprising effect

Israeli scientists find an unexpected link between weaning and the ability of pancreatic beta cells to regenerate. Are there implications for diabetes?

By Abigail Klein Leichman

Israeli medical researchers unexpectedly discovered that only when a baby is weaned off mother’s milk does a formerly unknown developmental step in the process of pancreatic beta-cell maturation begin to occur.

In experiments with lab mice, this critical developmental step appeared to be triggered exclusively by the change of diet.

The surprising discovery was made while scientists were attempting to understand why only a small subset of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas of adult organisms can replicate – leading to tissue regeneration – and why the number of replicating cells declines with advancing age.

The study results were published in the March 9 issue of the medical journal Developmental Cell by Prof. Yuval Dor and research associate Miri Stolovich-Rain at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, in collaboration with Prof. Benjamin Glaser from the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Hoping to understand the effects of aging on beta-cell replication, the scientists induced hyperglycemia – a condition of excessive glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream – in suckling mice, expecting that because of their young age their beta cells would exhibit a superb regenerative ability.

Instead, the researchers discovered that the mice actually didn’t begin to develop the cellular machinery that allows for tissue regeneration until after they were weaned from high-fat mother’s milk (or formula) to high-carbohydrate chow.

In addition, insulin secretion in response to high levels of glucose was much lower in the suckling mice than in adult mice.

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When to wean
“The data suggest that regenerative potential is a trait of mature tissues, which has to develop actively, similar to functional maturation, rather than an innate feature of newly born cells,” said Dor, a developmental biologist.

The researchers concluded that the dietary transition from fat-rich milk to carbohydrate-rich food kick-starts the maturation of beta cells so that they can replicate and secrete proper amounts of insulin in response to conditions such as high blood-glucose levels.

The exact molecular signal that sets off these events is still to be determined through further research that could help advance the understanding of diabetes and even how to treat it.

It’s possible, for instance, that the maturation step associated with weaning can be relevant for attempting to direct the differentiation of embryonic stem cells into fully functional beta cells for transplantation to diabetes patients.

 

Next, the Israeli researchers plan to study how premature weaning in mice and in humans may affect the long-term health of beta cells and the chances of developing diabetes .

Dor is careful to stress that the published findings should not make mothers fretful about weaning their babies from breast milk or formula too early or too late.

“We are NOT saying in this paper anything about the long-term effects, good or bad, of premature weaning,” he wrote to ISRAEL21c in an email. “What we found is that weaning triggers beta-cell maturation and that it is a previously unrecognized part of this important process.The long-term impact of interfering with the process by premature or delayed weaning is being studied now.”

The research was funded by grants from the Beta Cell Biology Consortium of the US National Institutes of Health, the JDRF, the European Research Council, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the DON Foundation, BIRAX and the I-CORE Program of the Israel Science Foundation.

Previously, Dor and James Shapiro, a world renowned researcher in islet transplantation for diabetes at the University of Alberta, Canada, identified a key signal that prompts insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas to form new beta cells in mice. This breakthrough may ultimately help researchers find ways to restore or increase beta cell function in people with type 1 diabetes.

EASY KOSHER HOLIDAYS :World Class Luxury Kosher holidays and beyond

Where would you find a breathtaking ocean view, a five star luxury resort hotel in the unique setting of the Costa del Sol, in the beautiful scenery of Marbella, Southern Spain?

The elegant, discreet and luxurious Gran Hotel Elba Estepona & Thalasso SPA is THE perfect place for your next Jewish holiday, for PESACH, SUKOT, Rosh Hashanah, and for your summer vacation.


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Easy Kosher will offer all services, facilities and activities necessary to make your stay enjoyable, relaxing and unforgettable. With over 10 year experience in catering and food service in Spain. Easy Kosher Catering is constantly in the process of product improvement and as a result we have the best experts in kosher culinary  experience.

Our creativity is reflected in the presentation of the product which achieves a clear balance between excellence and quality. Our track record speaks for itself. We have become the best choice when it comes to choosing a good kosher caterer.

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We use only the finest kosher ingredients in our products.
We use strict standards of kashrut (kosher food preparation and Jewish dietary laws).
We are strictly certified by the Chief Rabbi of Spain, Moshe Bendahan

 

EASY KOSHER HOLIDAYS also offers Jewish organized tours in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Our tours provide unique and premium experiences discovering the culture and Jewish heritage in the Iberian Peninsula and its surroundings.

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Our commitment is to offer unforgettable and unique experiences at the hands of experts in Sephardic history. All this in a strictly kosher gourmet framework. A team of professional chefs and supervisors will accompany the group throughout their stay.

Example of an 8 DAYS/ 7 NIGHTS ANDALUSIA                 http://www.kdeluxeholidays.com/en/ruta-andalucia-8-dias-7-noches/

 

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My commitment to quality and excellence is as important as my respect for kosher laws, and my love for my people. See you soon.

Laurent Cohen

 

For more information, please contact:

EASY KOSHER S.L.
c/ Aranzazu, 5
28043 | Madrid
Móvil: +34 607652083
Email: info@easykoshercatering.com

Passover Vacations in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Paris World Club
Experience a unique Passover with family or friends !

 

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Paris World Club offers:
Comfort, Creativity and Culture.
Terrasse à Dubrovnik
Passover 2015 in Dubrovnik, Croatia: stay in a 5* hotel at the foot of the old town of Dubrovnik, with a renowned French chef,  Thierry Caruel.

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Glatt Kosher catering without kitniot under the supervision of Rabbi Itzhak Ben-David.

Embark with us in this unique culinary and cultural getaway!

Contact us :
+33 1 82 28 85 20
+1 64 63 28 47 09
virginie@parisworldclub.com

4 Simple Ways to Create a Happy Home

How to create the environment your kids want to come home to. By Adina Soclof

Everyone wants a happy home and as parents we have the ability and responsibility to create a home where children feel safe and loved. We want to foster a home environment where everyone feels respected and each person’s individuality is celebrated. We want our kids and spouses to want to come home at the end of their long days.

This does not have to be difficult. There are some simple changes that we can implement to help create that feeling of warmth and hominess.

1. Make coming home happy:

The best marriage advice that I got was this: Go to the door to greet your husband when he comes home. Save your complaints, stresses, problems and whining for later (or for never.)

When my kids were little, this was easy advice to follow. My husband would come home from work and our children would all stop what they were doing and come bounding to the door and throw themselves at my husband. The enthusiastic homecoming was enjoyed by all. The kids loved it, my husband loved it and I loved watching the scene unfold before me.

Although my kids are older and not so bouncy, I still try to maintain that sense of fun and happiness when my husband walks through the door. When I see his car pull up, I give a happy yell in the direction of my kids “Daddy’s home!” I stop what I am doing, walk to the door and give him a warm welcome. I try to avoid any heavy topics during that time, no talk of bills, Aunt Ethel’s upcoming visit or an untimely phone call from our children’s teachers.

I try to do this for each of my kids as well. Just a few minutes of time as your child walks in the door can make a world of difference. Many children need your undivided attention at the end of their day. School is like one long day of work for them. A hug, kiss, a snack and a listening ear, are simple and powerful way to let them know that they are valued, and loved.

 

It’s not the time to bring up serious issues or discipline your children. “Did you hand in that paper that was late?” You know you left your dirty laundry in your room, you need to go upstairs right now and take care of that!”

Parents might also try to get their children to talk about their day. Most children usually find their parents seemingly innocuous questions as intrusive:

“How was your day?” “Did you have fun?” “ Was Sara feeling better today?”

Instead it is better to just let them know that you are happy to see them, “I am so glad you are home!” Serious discussions, discipline and questions are best left for another time.

2. Give them transition time:

After greeting our spouses and kids happily we need to give them a bit of time to transition from work/school to home. Everyone needs a bit of time to unwind and switch gears. We want to make it as pleasant as possible.

I have one friend whose husband comes home from work and disappears into their bedroom for 5-10 minutes, (with his wife’s support and permission) just to catch his breath. He is then able to sit down to dinner with his family.

Children also need some time to unwind. Although there are some children who need to review their day in full with their parents, many children just need a bit of quiet. Oftentimes parents encourage their children to do their homework right when they get home and get it out of the way. Sometimes extracurricular activities are planned, last minute errands or chores need to be done. Many children do not have the focus, attention or ability for that type of fast turnaround.

It might be beneficial for children to wait until they have relaxed before they attempt to do their homework. Schedules can be planned with some wiggle room and jobs can wait a bit until there has been some down time.

I advise mothers, if they can, to take a few minutes before all their kids walk in from school to do something just for themselves, to enjoy and savor the last few minutes of quiet before the rush and stresses of the dinner and homework hour.

 

I have another friend who comes home from work after her husband and her children. She stops her car a few blocks from home, sits and listens to some music and eats a healthy snack. This gives her the time and the patience that she needs to greet her family after a long day at work.

3. Make relaxation a value in your home:

Our lives are so rushed and stressful and it is impacting on our health and well-being. Relaxation seems to be a forgotten need or a luxury. However, it should be a priority and it needs to be scheduled into everyone’s day. It is imperative that everyone in the family has some downtime.

It is helpful for parents to identify their child’s means of relaxation and then make sure that they are able to engage in that activity. Some common ways that kids relax are:

  • arts and crafts
  • reading
  • playing an instrument
  • outside play
  • taking care of animals
  • play sports
  • hanging out with friends
  • bouncing on a trampoline
  • nature related activities
  • taking care of their collections: rocks, bugs, stamps

It is the same with your spouse. Find out what they like to do to relax and make sure they are able to do it. Taking walks, crafts, cooking, reading are just a few examples.

4. Laugh:

The medical community has agreed that laughter is the best way to relieve stress and even more serious ailments. It is also the best way to connect with others. Families bond over a good laugh. It is a sure sign of a happy home.

Every healthy family has their share of inside jokes, where just a word or a look could get everyone giggling. Sharing memories of vacations gone awry, asking kids to share the funniest moments of their day, and telling kids the silly things they did as babies are all ways to keep the laughter flowing.

We all know that home is where our heart is. Creating joyful homecomings, giving our loved ones time to transition, developing healthy relaxation habits and laughter can help our hearts reside in a happy place.

Adina Soclof

Adina Soclof, MS. CCC-SLP, is the Director of Parent Outreach for A+ Solutions, facilitating “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” workshops as well as workshops based on “Siblings Without Rivalry.” Adina also runs ParentingSimply.com and is available for speaking engagements. You can reach her and check out her website atwww.parentingsimply.com.

Teaching your children the art of negotiation

By Becky Rickman

We all negotiate. With our employers. With our neighbors. With salespeople. With spouses. So maybe negotiation is something we should be teaching our children to better prepare them for a good life with a little less frustration and a little more moxie.

Children have no shortage of things to negotiate about. Teaching them to negotiate and not argue, pout, or storm off will benefit everyone. That being said, it doesn’t mean everything is negotiable.

Pick and choose your negotiations carefully. One example I found was of a 9 year old who wanted to stay up past bedtime with her 7-year-old brother and watch a Jacques Cousteau special. She made the argument that she was studying aquatic life in school, her brother would eventually take the same class, and they could benefit from this one-time opportunity. She made a valid point and, with the provision—again, negotiation is give and take— agreeing they get up at the normal time even if they were tired, a successful compromise was reached. There are many situations where knowing how to negotiate will really help our kids.

Teachers

Teachers are human and can make mistakes and misjudgments (though I wouldn’t broadcast that to children). If students think they were graded unfairly, being able to articulate that to a teacher and not storm off and gripe to their friends, they will find that most teachers will respond well.

Friends

How much drama do kids have with their friends? Reduce the number of storm clouds by helping them learn to negotiate with their buddies. “I don’t really want to go to the park today, but if you’ll watch this movie with me today, I’ll go with you tomorrow. How is that?” “I will trade you these three Pokemon cards for that one I’m missing.”

 

Parents

What would you give to have a reasonable conversation with a child to avoid a tantrum? Worth the price of compromise on things that aren’t critical. “No, you may not get a tattoo. Period.” “Yes, we can talk about piercing your ears.

Siblings

Being able to negotiate would solve a multitude of problems. “I have practice after school. If you’ll set the table for me, I’ll take out the trash for you later.” “If I could borrow that dress for Saturday, I would give you that t-shirt you like.”

Co-workers and employers

For teens who are working. “I have a game Friday night. Can you cover for me, and I’ll work two shifts for you later?” “I have a date on Saturday. Can my friend babysit for you that night? She comes highly recommended and has covered for me before.”

Along with teaching them to negotiate comes the possibility that all negotiations might not work out the way they planned. This is just as important to learn.

 An overly sensitive new teacher might take offense to the suggestion that she mis-graded their work.

 A friend who has not developed the art of negotiation might storm off and snub them for a while.

 If you’ve had a bad day, negotiation might be the last thing you want to take part in.

 A sibling might be nursing a grudge from the last time they didn’t carry through with their negotiation and not be in the mood to work out this offer.

 Too many negotiations might start to look bad for employers and co-workers. A substitute babysitter might work out better for the family, and that job could be lost.

Lessons like these will teach children to weigh the odds before making an impetuous proposal. They will learn moderation in everything, and that sometimes sacrifice is called for. As a parent, entertain negotiations where you can, and stand firm where you don’t feel good about it. That’s what life is all about. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but in the end — you learn.