Israel with Kids / Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem

A museum based on Biblical history and archaeology may not sound like the best place for a kid, but this one takes an unexpectedly exciting and engaging approach.  THIS STORY IS BY Judy Maltz                                      New York Jewish Parenting

Bible Lands Museum 

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, where the stories of the Bible come alive for all ages. Photo by Michal Fattal

Some parents are lucky enough to have kids who enjoy spending a day off from school delving into Biblical history and archeology.

Unfortunately, we’re not one of them.

So it took a bit of arm-twisting and promises of “lots of cool stuff to do”  (based, I confess, on little more than a quick website search) to convince the kids to head out to Jerusalem for a trip to the Bible Lands Museum.

Overshadowed both literally and figuratively by the much larger and grander Israel Museum just across the road, the Bible Lands Museum is a relatively new addition to the capital’s cultural landscape, established about 20 years ago by the late Eli Borowski, a collector of ancient Near Eastern art. The permanent exhibit at the museum is made up almost exclusively of his own private collection.

Bible Lands likes to bill itself  “the only museum in the world dedicated to the history of the Bible and the ancient Near East.”  It may very well be, but that’s not going to convince most 21st century kids – especially those already pretty Bible-weary from school – to line up at its door.


Admittedly, our expectations were rather low… until we met Shamshi, that is.

Shamshi, just to clarify, is not a real person, but rather a comic-book character from ancient times featured in a special animated booklet called “The Tales of Shamshi,” (available both in Hebrew and in English at a small extra cost) that targets young visitors to the museum.

The booklet takes children on a self-guided tour of the museum’s galleries, pointing out artifacts of special interest along the way, as it retells, in kid-friendly language, some of the best-known Biblical tales. To keep them on their toes, Shamshi requires the children to answer questions in the booklet, forcing them (just in case it wasn’t part of their original plan) to take a closer look at some of the artifacts and peruse the accompanying texts.

The self-guided tour starts with Abraham’s journey to Canaan (demonstrated with the help of old maps) and ends with the period of King Solomon, covering along the way the stories of the descent of Jacob and his sons to Egypt, the years of slavery and eventual exodus from Egypt (quite appropriate for this time of year) and the reign of King Solomon. Even young children are likely to have some level of familiarity with these stories, making it that much easier to engage them. As they move among the different galleries with the help of Shamshi, they’ll also pick up some fun facts about ancient tower building practices, the evolution of writing and mummification.

August Heb5

It’s basic enough so that children 9 and older can do the tour on their own. Depending on their reading level, younger ones may need the help of adults but will enjoy it as well, especially if it’s turned into a competition of sorts. It took our group two hours to complete the entire booklet, the pace picking up as our charges began to figure out where to look for what.

The exhibit on mummification was definitely the highlight of our tour, the collection of canopic jars deserving special mention. In these clay jars, the ancient Egyptians would store their inner stomachs, liver, lungs and intestines for use again in the afterlife.  Just trust kids to gravitate toward the gross and the gory.

So if you happen to be on lookout for something child-friendly to do in Jerusalem – educational, but not overwhelmingly so – the Bible Lands Museum is definitely a good option. Besides its special holiday break activities, the museum also offers other children-friendly activities throughout the year, among them group treasure hunts, which allow young visitors to masquerade as Biblical characters.

A display of ancient Far East artifacts, Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem 

A display of ancient Far East artifacts, Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem Michal Fattal
 For those seeking to inject some meaning into Jewish rite of passage

For those seeking to inject some meaning into Jewish rite of passage ceremonies, bar and bat mitzvah celebrants are offered an opportunity here to pose as docents. As part of the program, they undergo special training so that they can guide their families and friends on the big day through exhibits with special relevance to their lives or their particular Torah portion.

Basic Information:

Address: 25 Avraham Granot St., Jerusalem

Tel: 02-5611066


Hours: Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9:30-17:30 / Wednesdays: 9:30-21:30 / Fridays and Saturdays: 10:00-14:00

Admission: NIS 40 for adults and NIS 20 for children (on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays,  children get free admission)    

Mh – New York Jewish


mh- New York Jewish Parenting guide.


New Book on Jewish Athletes Something Kids Can Root For

Looking for the neatest holiday gift for your sports-loving young one? How about the perfect Bar Mitzvah present that surely will delight? by Yossi Glodstein   New York Jewish  Parenting Guide


A spectacular new book has recently hit the bookshelves. To say author Andrew Gershman’s book, “Modern Day Maccabees” is the first of its kind, would be doing an injustice to the author and his stellar compilation of Jewish athletes in an accessible, easy-to-read format for kids and adults alike.

“Most of the Jewish athletes’ books out on the market are either geared strictly for adults, or they are very childish cartoon caricatures,” noted Gershman.

How many times have you tried procuring a readable sports book for your child, or even for yourself, and found the task to be quite tall? If I asked the same question in reference to a Jewish athletes’ sports book, would your predicament become more glaring?

Inspired by his youngest son to write what would become “Modern Day Maccabees,” Gershman not only succeeded in putting out a ground-breaking children’s sports book but a manuscript for adults to likewise enjoy.

“The format for the book is geared towards kids,” admitted Gershman. “It’s a pick-up and put-down type, with an easy readable flow to it. However, the book itself is really uncapped; geared for ages eight and up.

The content of “Modern Day Maccabees” is uniquely geared towards all age groups, not just the young sports fan.

Aside from crossword puzzles, there are also factoids and succinct biographies for each selected athlete, some you may not have been previously aware of. Furthermore, some Jewish athletes featured in the book may surprise you as, well, being Jewish.

Ever the intrepid reporter, Gershman’s only ‘bottom line’ was that all the noted ball players and athletes were to be halachically Jewish. “I wanted all kids to be able to identify who is Jewish on the playing field,” explained Gershman. “A guy like Cincinnati’s [Bengals] Taylor Mays is one such person you wouldn’t think of at first being Jewish. I got a call from someone who took his son to a Bengals game because his son only wanted to see Mays play.”

When an author sets out to write a book, there’s usually a goal in mind before pen is put to paper. Herein was no different. The goal was to instill Jewish pride into those reading his book.

“We hear a lot in the general media about the good and bad of athletes off the field,” said Gershman, “and rarely is a Jewish athlete mentioned in this context. In the ‘Mitzvah Moments’ section for each player, I describe some of the positive off-field work in which the athlete is currently engaged. I wanted to highlight for the readers what happens off the field for these Jewish athletes in a positive setting.”

Living in Israel for a couple of years certainly had its affect on Gershman.

“My time in Israel, and working at Israel Sports Radio certainly had its affect on which athletes I would feature in this book,” confided Gershman. “Through my work in Israeli radio I was able to meet and interview many players and athletes. Thus, as opposed to only having American players listed in the book, I also included some Israeli athletes and other Jewish internationals.”

However, that’s not to say there weren’t any trials and tribulations along the way. The laborious effort that went into publishing this first-of-its-kind book felt, at times, tantamount to splitting the Red Sea.

“There were a lot of obstacles and challenges I faced along the way,” allowed Gershman. “These ranged from identifying who would be in the book, to raising enough capital for making this dream become a reality, and everything else in between.”

The book itself is quite a delightful and enjoyable read. It touches on the players as people, as well as giving life lessons to all ages through player quotes, notes, and letters.

Fear your child’s inquiry no more. “Modern Day Maccabees” is now near you in a store!

You can get hold of a copy of “Modern Day Maccabees” through and in soft cover, and the book is also available online for your Kindle.

Mh- New York Jewish  Parenting

Five Reasons a Good Marriage is Essential for Parenting

Working on your marriage may be the most important thing you’ll do to ensure your children’s emotional health.

by Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin



  You’re passionate about raising your children in the best possible way. You’ve attended parenting classes, read books, and have been conscientious about being a good mom or dad. There’s one key ingredient that you might have forgotten, and that’s the relationship with the one who helped make you a parent in the first place: your spouse. Working on your marriage may be the most important thing you’ll ever do to ensure the emotional health of your children.

Here’s how:

1. Structure and stability: Children need structure and stability. They have special antennas to pick up tension. When they sense you aren’t getting along, they won’t tell you directly, but they’ll be sure to act out. Your children need to feel taken care of and protected. If your relationship is chaotic, you’ll create a home environment of chaos. A stable marriage provides a comfortable framework, where your kids can focus on being kids and not be distracted by the anxiety that something is wrong at home. Children actually think they are to blame for your upset. They won’t realize that your bad mood is because you aren’t getting along with your spouse.

2. Parenting on the same page: Parents need to show a united front. If you don’t get along with your spouse, it will be quite a challenge to work together as parents. When you have diverging views on raising your kids, the children get stuck in the middle and wind up taking sides. In most relationships, one parent assumes the role of disciplinarian while the other is more laissez-faire. If both parents work together, they can parent in a balanced way. If they can’t, they risk making one parent the bad guy and undermining the parent-child relationship. While even the most connected couples may have a difference of opinions on child-rearing, they’re able to work through their differences and parent effectively. Learn how to work together so you can be on the same page for your kids.


3. Modeling healthy relationships: History repeats itself, and this is certainly true when it comes to relationships. I have seen many young couples experiencing the same relationship breakdown they saw in their homes. More important than any book or speech is how we model to our children. The relationship your children witness in your home will be the factor that impacts most in how they’ll conduct themselves in their own relationships. Most parents wish they could leave their child an inheritance. Even if you have no money to leave, you can give them the gift of seeing a loving, stable marriage. If you are suffering in your marriage, you surely won’t want your kids to experience what you’re going through. Work on your relationship so you can spare them the grief and provide a model they can look forward to.

4. Accepting your child: The best way to practice being a good parent is to learn how to be a good spouse. When you employ relationship skills with your spouse, you’ll have a much easier time applying them to your children. One of the greatest challenges in any relationship is fully accepting the other. As you learn to exercise your compassion muscle by listening to your spouse without judgment and making space for him/her, you’ll find it easier to do so with your kids. When you accept your children by validating their feelings without reacting, you help build their self-esteem. Even when you disagree, you can assure them that their feelings make sense. Working on your marriage gives you invaluable experiencing. By the time your children grow old enough to articulate themselves, you’ll be prepared to be there for them in a caring and empathic way.

5. You won’t lash out at the kids: Children can be quite a handful at times. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and have no help, your real anger may be with your spouse, but the immediate victims will be the kids. Being more irritable in general, you’re likely to yell at them when they get too hard to handle. They’ll bear the brunt of issues that you could have worked out with your spouse. When you’re feeling good about your spouse and have an open line of communication, your stress threshold will be lower, and you are less likely to lash out at innocent bystanders.

You owe it to your children to make your marriage great. A vibrant marriage will help provide structure and stability for your kids, enable you to parent them on the same page, model healthy relationships, learn relationship skills that will help you accept your children, and make sure your frustration doesn’t come to hurt your kids. Take action today for your marriage, for kid’s sake!


mh- New York Jewish Parenting

How to Care for Your Newly Circumcised Baby

Tips and healthy practices


If you’ve decided to have your baby boy circumcised, there are a few simple steps you can follow at home to make sure your son is left happy and healthy, post-procedure. Whether the circumcision is done by a mohel or doctor, it is still considered a minor surgery, and properly caring for the newly-circumcised penis can greatly reduce the risk of any complications.

Keep in mind, however, that there is some debate over the best way to care for your freshly snipped son. Every mohel has a method, and when you throw doctors, and for heaven’s sake, grandparents into the mix, the guidelines and advice will almost always vary. Whoever performs the circumcision should provide you with a guide on proper follow-up care. This is the best place to start, and should any questions come up along the way, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor ormohel. And fret not, newly frazzled parents–the baby typically only takes a week to 10 days to heal.

To Gauze or Not to Gauze

There is a divide in circumcision wisdom about whether or not to cover a baby’s newly-circumcised penis with any kind of bandage or dressing. It seems that either way you choose, the baby will heal just fine, but you can always ask for your doctor’s opinion. If given the green light to gauze, dab just a drop of petroleum jelly (too much can attract bacteria) onto the tip of the penis and gently wrap in gauze or a bandage. Change this dressing whenever you change the diaper until the baby is fully healed. If you choose not to use a dressing, it is still recommended to dab a little petroleum jelly onto the tip of the penis every time you change the baby’s diaper for the first day or so, to avoid any uncomfortable skin irritation. For the first couple of days, you can also loosely put the diaper on your baby to limit pressure on the wound.

Keeping Clean

The most important part of caring for your newly circumcised baby is to make sure the wound and penis are kept as clean as possible. Every time you change his diaper, thoroughly wipe away any stool or urine clinging to the penis. If there is stool in the diaper, it is recommended to gently wash the whole area with warm water and an unscented soap that has no harsh ingredients. (If there is just urine, simply change the diaper and gauze if you are using it). Thoroughness and gentleness are the winning pair; avoid any overenthusiastic rubbing and scrubbing.

What’s Normal, and What’s Not

There are many common symptoms that your baby may experience after being circumcised. Most of them are completely normal and should go away within the standard healing time. Some can be signs of something more serious, and if found, you should contact a doctor immediately. Keep a close watch on your baby during the days after circumcision to make sure he is healing properly.

Normal symptoms:

-Tip of the penis is red, bruised, or slightly swollen during first few days
-Small amounts of blood in diaper (drops should be quarter-sized or smaller)
-Yellow oozing or scabbing (this means it’s healing!)

Contact your doctor immediately if any of the following occur:

-Persistent bleeding from wound or drops of blood larger than a quarter found in diaper
-Crusty fluid-filled sores
-Trouble urinating (ask your doctor or mohel how many wet diapers a day to expect)
-Redness and swelling that worsens after three days and remains after seven days

Home Free

After the seven to 10 day healing process, your baby is just that–healed. His penis will no longer require any extra special attention, but of course you should continue to thoroughly clean all areas of his body with gentle care.

 mh- New York jewish Parenting .com


Israeli mom invents comic book for kids with cancer

Shira Frimer created Dr. JJ Barak, a superhero starring in her Nistar graphic adventure novel. Many would say she’s a superhero herself.  By Sharon Kanon


Shira Frimer is on a fast track this year. Spurred by the goal to give away free copies of her graphic novel for kids with cancer during Children’s Cancer Awareness Month in September, she worked night and day to make it happen.

Frimer, a 37-year-old art therapist living in Israel since 1995, poured 10 years into the publication of Nistar (“Hidden”), her debut graphic adventure novel for kids with cancer. The book is illustrated by Josef Rubinstein of Marvel and DC comic book fame.

The unusual book draws on Frimer’s own experience with cancer, her knowledge of Jewish and kabalistic sources and her love of comic books.

“Children affected by cancer are forced to contend with a noxious villain. They need relief from the emotional distress that comes with illness,” Frimer tells ISRAEL21c in an interview in her Rehovot clinic.

“I try to empower them, to encourage them to visualize themselves as heroes, to emphasize the part of their lives they can control. The one thing cancer can’t touch is their imagination, the freedom to create.”

On September 15, KidsComicCon hosted a festive launch of Nistar at the Ronald McDonald House in New York City, a “home away from home” for families coping with cancer.

Beth Stefanacci, executive director of New Jersey-based Go4theGoal, a nonprofit that supports parents and children with cancer, contacted Frimer “after receiving a Google alert in the early winter. “There was something calling me to reach out to Shira.”

The Google Alert was triggered by Frimer’s “from the heart” campaign on crowd-funding platform Indiegogo to raise funds to cover the cost of completing illustrations and for an initial 5,000 copies of Nistar.

“Indiegogo was fantastic. It helped me connect with the world,” says Frimer. The initial goal was $15,000; but the campaign resulted in $25,000.

“I am blown-away by your story and your desire to turn your own challenge into a book that will have a positive impact,” said one contributor. Contributions came in from Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Kenya, Canada, and the US.

Born of personal tragedy

The story Frimer tells in Nistar pulls scenes from her own life. Only a couple of months after she and her childhood sweetheart, Yaakov, became engaged, Yaakov was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a pediatric bone cancer.

Undaunted, the 19-year-olds decided to go on with wedding plans. Two years later, Shira gave birth to twins. During treatment at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Yaakov managed to finish a year of law school. He also reached out to the children in the ward. Gifted with natural charm, he became their “big brother,” using humor to diminish their fears.

When her young husband died at the age of 24, Frimer found two ways to escape from her grief. “I studied Jewish philosophy and learned some of the legends and ideas of mysticism. I also became an avid reader of comic books and high-level graphic novels.”

She completed a master’s degree in expressive arts therapies at an Israeli branch of Lesley University in Massachusetts.

“I was most influenced by Art Spiegelman. If he could use the comic book medium to depict the Holocaust, than I could address childhood cancer in the same way,” she says. Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize for Maus in 1992.

In the 116-page fantasy suspense story, Yaakov’s charismatic personality is reflected in the story’s hero, Dr. JJ Barak, once a cancer patient himself.

Shira Frimer, second from right, at the launch of Nistar at Ronald McDonald House in New York.

Shira Frimer, second from right, at the launch of Nistar at Ronald McDonald House in New York.

Driven by a desire to find the cure for cancer in a lost stone that disappeared into a dark world, he challenges the villain who rules there, and returns to the light.

Nistar gives a child who is battling cancer a chance for relief from the emotional distress that comes with illness. These kids deserve a superhero as a role model, who can validate their struggle, lend them hope and resilience, empathy and kindness,” says Frimer. “The message is to stand up to the disease, to say ‘I am still me, and I am here.’”

Michael Uslan, executive producer of the “Batman” movie franchise, wrote in his introduction to the book that for anyone experiencing childhood cancer, “it’s clear that what is NOT needed is a depressing story of illness and treatment. What IS needed is an uplifting adventure that can inspire the fight to come, rally the on-going noble battle, and point the way to the light at the end of the tunnel. And that’s where Nistar shines.”

In a recent podcast, Paul Castiglia, an “Archie” comics creator and book writer, said: “JJ is now one of my favorite superheroes, and Shira Frimer is also.”

A film in the future?

Frimer hopes there will be more requests and contributions to enable a second printing to reach more children with cancer. With 12,000 new cases of pediatric cancer in the US alone each year, the need is great. Translation into other languages is also on her “dream” agenda.

“A sequel is also spinning in my head,” she says. “My twins, now 16, read the book and posed a lot of questions. A film is also a possibility,” she says with a wistful smile.

Using her professional skills, she is also in gear to launch a website,

“My goal is to create a community of creative superheroes for children battling disease and life’s challenges — a place where they can share their stories and creative ideas with others, a place to learn, and for parents to get tips on how to use creative expression to help children, and siblings cope.”

Frimer is energized by her newfound fans. “There were so many setbacks along the way. It is all about persevering. That’s the message I give to kids: ‘Hope if you dare.’ It is part of the hidden power of Nistar.”

Go4theGoal arranged a book tour to hospitals on the US East Coast in September, and will distribute several thousand copies of Nistar. HP/Indigo Israel has offered promotion and marketing guidance and is also doing a pro-bono printing for contributors in Israel.

Top 10 Israeli apps for kids

Using your mobile device to keep children entertained and learning new skills is easier than ever, thanks to kid-friendly Israeli app developers. By Abigail Klein Leichman

What do you get when you combine Israel’s talents in high-tech with its child-centered society? Terrific mobile applications for children. We chose just 10 to feature, but you can find tons more if you poke around the app marketplace.

1. TinyTap

Selected by Marshable as a top-five “digital distraction” for kids and their parents, TinyTap is a free, intuitive game-creation platform for iPad and iPhone. Parents, teachers and children can design their own educational games or choose one from the TinyTap Social Market. On January 8 of this year, TinyTap was one of three apps to receive the $1 million Verizon Powerful Answers award.

2. My PlayHome

This dollhouse for the iPad generation was cited in The New York Times’ ” Apps to Keep Children Happy” list two years ago. Kids can open the closets, turn on the TV and shower, fry an egg, pour drinks, blow bubbles and other fun stuff. The advantages of a virtual dollhouse: It can go anywhere and there are no pieces to lose or get broken. Plus, the house can be expanded and accessorized. Recommended for ages 1-7.

3. scoolWork

The Israeli startup Skills & Knowledge created this app to help students write essays better and faster. It’s an organizational aid to format an assignment, check grammar and spelling, add a bibliography and even search the Internet more effectively. Teachers have given sCoolWork a thumbs-up.

4. Touchoo

Introducing the Touchoo Creator from touchoo on Vimeo.


Books for little fingers – Touchoo.

Subtitled “Books for Little Fingers,” Touchoo offers interactive children’s book-apps on all kinds of devices. You can buy one ready-made or use Touchoo Creator to create and publish your own, complete with animation, point-and-click interface and sound interaction. Your book is published instantly on the App Store, Google Play, Amazon and Nook (there is a fee, but all proceeds are your own). Each app-book is available in many formats on a Web-based platform for easy collaboration.

5. Ellie’s Wings

With this coloring app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, children ages 2-7 can do symmetrical drawings on the wings of an animated butterfly, bee, dragon, peacock or unicorn. The creatures laugh, get excited or faint in reaction to the choice and pattern of colors or animated decoration placed on the wing. They’ll even hand your child a towel if the virtual paint spills from the color palette, which doubles as a musical xylophone‏‏‏‏. There is optional animation, such as flowers that open and close, lights that blink, hearts that beat. Save drawings by clicking the camera icon.

6.Ellie’s Fun House

Preschoolers can play this highly interactive game as a “brother” or a “sister.” There are activities and tasks to perform in each of six rooms, as well as in the garden: taking a bath, tidying the bedroom, making pancakes with mom, picking flowers, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, etc., all accompanied by sounds and graphics. The “day” ends by going to sleep with a satisfying snore.

7.Trucks and Things That Go

One of several iPhone-iPad apps made by Kids 1st Shape Puzzles, this virtual jigsaw puzzle is a natural for tots fascinated by trucks, diggers, tractors, trains, boats, ambulances and planes — 70 vehicles in all. Players who place the pieces correctly get rewarded by hearing the sound made by the vehicle, and they also hear its name pronounced in Hebrew or English.

8. My Body

Why learn just one language when you can learn three all at once? The My Body app for iPhone and iPad teaches children the words for body parts in English, Spanish and Hebrew. The application is divided into three categories: Front, back and head.


HowDo hopes to answer kids questions.

Curious kids have a million questions. This iPhone-iPad app aims to answer them with the aid of 150 detailed photos and sound effects covering 54 topics. How are butterflies formed? How do rainbows appear in the sky? How do they make ice cream? How is a chair manufactured? How does a letter dropped in the mailbox reach its destination? How do you ride a bike? There are free and paid versions of the app available.

10.Santa Rescue Saga: Doctor X Christmas Adventure 

The most downloaded free Christmas iOS app in 2013, this game lets kids heal Santa’s cold, rescue him from a chimney or a block of ice and other sticky situations so that he can get to children’s homes on Christmas Eve. TabTale, the Israeli startup behind this iOS and Android app as well as hundreds of others, was ranked among the top 10 app publishers by ranking site

New York jewish

5 Simple Ways to Get Your Kids to Listen

 by Adina Soclof                                   New York Jewish Parenting


There are so many things that we need our children to do in order for our house and our schedule to run smoothly. We have a vision of what must get done, how it should be done, and when it should all happen.

But kids have a totally different take on how their day should flow. It’s as if they live in an alternate reality. Who needs to brush your teeth? What’s wrong with staying in pajamas all day?

Here are five simple ways to help you stop struggling with your kids and get your kids listen to you:

1. Understand why kids have a hard time listening to you.

Besides the fact that parents and children have different goals and aspirations for their day (productivity vs. free play all day long), kids have a hard time listening and following directions because kids, like all human beings, possess a strong need for independence.

Being independent makes us feel that we have some control over our decisions and our fate. We are empowered by knowing that we can think for ourselves, take care of ourselves, and rely on ourselves to survive in this world. Children are often torn between wanting their parents to take care of them and needing to feel independent. They are confused. When their parents ask them to do something and they need to comply, they are also battling their inner voice which might be telling them: “You don’t need to listen to anyone. You are your own boss, you can do your own thing!”

Once we understand why it is so hard for kids to listen, we can approach our interactions with compassion, tact and understanding.

We will hopefully be less angry when our kids don’t listen. We can then focus our energies on in a more positive direction.

2. Create a home routine and schedule.

The next step is setting you and your child up for success. The easiest way to do that is to make sure that your home environment is conducive to cooperation. Routines and child friendly conditions can go a long way in helping your child listen.

The real key to preparing a routine is to involve your child and include his input. This feeds into his need to be independent and make his own decisions. Then you can plan a schedule that works for everyone.

“What would be the best time for you to do your homework?”

“Our doctor appointment is at 2pm. When do you want to stop playing with your toys and get ready to go?”

The same goes for a child-friendly home environment. Find out why your child is not hanging up his coat and what would be the best place to put some hooks (at his eye level) so that it is easy for him to comply. Shoes can be put in the same place everyday. Ditto for their clothing. Help them organize it in a way that makes it accessible to them, so that they are not always searching for their pants or shirt.


3. Use neutral language.

It can be frustrating to get our kids to cooperate. We often resort to accusations and blaming to get our kids to listen. This often sets a negative tone, and usually brings on defensive behavior that leads to power struggles:

Why do you always leave your shoes in the middle of the hall? Why do you always make a big deal about everything? Just pick out a shirt already!

Instead use language that is neutral and non-confrontational:

Shoes belong in the closet. Let’s both take a few minutes to calm down before we finish this conversation. Time is short. A shirt needs to be decided on now.

Using neutral, non-confrontational language helps parents feel in control and keep kids feeling encouraged and aids them in listening.

4. Give Choices.

Giving choices helps give your child the autonomy they crave within a safe framework.

There are more benefits to giving children choices. It teaches kids how to make decisions. It also builds their self-esteem as they learn to develop problem-solving skills. This makes them feel more powerful and in control of their lives. They become better listeners and more cooperative. Not only that, choices also allow parents to maintain their position of authority. Children need to comply with their parents’ requests, but they get to choose the method. It is a win/win situation.

For example:

  • Do you want to drink milk in your blue or red cup?
  • Do you want to eat dinner now or in five minutes?
  • Do you want to clean up your dolls or your blocks first?
  • Do you want to hop or jump into your car seat?

And with older kids:

  • I need help with dinner. Do you want to make the salad or set the table?
  • The bus comes in a half hour. Do you want me to come in and wake you up again or would you like to set your alarm for a few more minutes?
  • When are you planning on doing your homework, before or after dinner?


5. Help Kids Problem Solve Their Way To Listening.

One of the best ways to help kids listen is to involve them in discussions on how to solve the problems of family life.

Anytime there is a problem at home we can say, “Let’s take a minute to figure out a solution.” We can then ask some questions to promote problem-solving skills in our kids:

“What can we do to make sure that everyone is chipping in to help clear off the table?”

“I bought a box of cookies, what can we do to make sure that they are shared evenly in the house?”

“When Sara and Eli both have friends over there are problems over who gets to play in the basement. Does anyone have any ideas on how we can work this out?”

Teaching your children to think about solutions will give you a partner who will be more likely to listen as you solve life’s little and big problems together.

Helping kids to listen and cooperate is a big job. Understanding your child’s need for independence, setting up routines, using neutral language, giving choices and focusing on solutions, can make it that much easier.

mh-  New York Jewish Parenting


By Anna Gustafson- New York Jewish Parenting


For Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, the path to holding a workshop at Glendale’s Forest Park Jewish Center this week about integrating martial arts into health care and education for children with disabilities and illnesses has been a circuitous one – to say the least.

Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, left, and Victor Bernal show off some of the martial arts moves Moskowitz uses as therapy for children battling cancer and other illnesses or disabilities. Moskowitz held a workshop on martial arts therapy at the Forest Park Jewish Center in Glendale on Tuesday. Anna Gustafson/The Forum Newsgroup

Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, left, and Victor Bernal show off some of the martial arts moves Moskowitz uses as therapy for children battling cancer and other illnesses or disabilities. Moskowitz held a workshop on martial arts therapy at the Forest Park Jewish Center in Glendale on Tuesday. Anna Gustafson/The Forum Newsgroup

Growing up in a rough neighborhood in the South Bronx in the 1970s – when he was often targeted for wearing a yarmulke and was the victim of four armed robberies by the time he was 14, Moskowitz, who now lives in Kew Gardens, went on to become a New York City police officer, private investigator, teacher – including at Far Rockaway High School – principal, and social worker. The policeman-turned-rabbi, who began studying karate as a child for self defense, has gone on to found a nonprofit, Martial Arts Therapy, which combines several forms of martial arts to provide children battling cancer and other serious illnesses and disabilities with free lessons in pain management, physical rehabilitation skills and deep relaxation techniques.

And, on Tuesday afternoon, he stood in front of a group of martial arts teachers, physical and occupational therapists, and special education teachers gathered at the workshop in Glendale and provided an overview of how he hopes educators and health workers can include martial arts in their work. Additionally, he said he will be holding additional informational sessions, as well as his therapy programs for children, at the Forest Park Jewish Center until his group can raise enough money to open their own facility in Queens.

“Most people don’t know what the martial arts are – they think it’s a punch and a kick but martial arts is a health system,” said Moskowitz, who has taught martial arts to the police, self-defense to women and hostage situation tactics to Israeli anti-terrorist units. “Martial arts is about living a healthy life, about nutrition, about exercise – it’s how to use force for healing purposes.”

For Moskowitz, he has seen how martial arts has helped to heal – or, if not heal, at least help – children who have, for example, cerebral palsy, sickle cell anemia, blindness, deafness, autism, asthma and heart conditions.

“They push themselves because they want to,” said Moskowitz, who himself has a daughter with special needs. “They push themselves more than they ever thought they could do. It’s all about empowerment.”

A number of those attending Tuesday’s tutorial were fans of Moskowitz – including DomenicaCalifano, whose young nephew had worked with Moskowitz while he was battling a brain tumor. While the little boy died, his aunt said the martial arts therapy made him feel as though life was more in his control – and that it could even be fun from time to time.

“The martial arts, what a difference it made,” Califano said.

AviAvramcheyiv, who leads the New York Self Defense Academy on Kissena Boulevard in Kew Gardens Hills, volunteers as an instructor for Moskowitz and said he hopes to help the rabbi build support for an increased use of martial arts in places like schools and children’s hospitals.

“We work with kids in wheelchairs, kids who are very sick, and we want them to know they can do things with whatever they have,” said Avramcheyiv, who was a member of the Israeli karate federation and of the Israeli national team in the late 1990s.

Ultimately, Moskowitz said he wants to continue providing free therapy for children in his own center manned by volunteers like Avramcheyiv.

“I’m convinced we can help a lot of children,” Moskowitz said.

But, until them, Forest Park Jewish Center President Sheldon Bogen said the group is more than welcome to operate out of his facility – and Moskowitz plans on holding Sunday programs for children with a variety of illnesses.

For more information about the free therapy, individuals can contact Moskowitz at (917) 916-4681 or email


mh- New York Jewish Parenting