Best NYC Museums for Children

he American Museum of Natural History (abbreviated as AMNH) is a natural history museum on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. In Theodore Roosevelt Park, across the street from Central Park, the museum complex comprises 26 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, in addition to a planetarium and a library. The museum collections contain over 34 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time. The museum occupies more than 2 million square feet (190,000 m2). AMNH has a full-time scientific staff of 225, sponsors over 120 special field expeditions each year, and averages about five million visits annually.

Public transit access New York City Bus:
M7, M10, M11, M79
New York City Subway:
​ trains at 81st Street–Museum of Natural History
train at 79th Street

The Jewish Children’s Museum is the largest Jewish-themed children’s museum in the United States. It aims for children of all faiths and backgrounds to gain a positive perspective and awareness of the Jewish heritage, fostering tolerance and understanding. The permanent collection features exhibits designed to be both educational and entertaining to children, often employing interactive multimedia. At the miniature golf course on the roof, for example, each hole represents a stage in Jewish life.

The museum is located in the Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidic community of Crown Heights at 792 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, near 770 Eastern Parkway, the headquarters of the Lubavitch movement. Built by an architect, Steve H. Wilkowski of Milagros PM, the museum opened in 2004. In 2005, the Museum was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg

Public transit access Subway: trains at Kingston Avenue
B17 to Eastern Parkway (stops two blocks east)
B43 to Union Street

National Museum of Mathematics

The National Museum of Mathematics or MoMath is a museum dedicated to mathematics in Manhattan, New York City. It opened on December 15, 2012. It is located at 11 East 26th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, across from Madison Square Park in the NoMad neighborhood. It is the only museum dedicated to mathematics in North America and features over thirty interactive exhibits. The mission of the museum is to “enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics”. The museum is known for a special tricycle with square wheels, which operates smoothly on a catenary surface.

Public transit access New York City Subway: 

  • ​​ trains to 23rd Street or 28th Street
  • ​ trains to 23rd Street or 28th Street
  • ​ trains to 23rd Street

Port Authority Trans-Hudson: HOB-33, JSQ-33 (via HOB), or JSQ-33 to 23rd Street

MTA New York City Bus: M1, M2, M3, M55, M7, M20


Hells Kitchen, Manhattan, NYC

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is an American military and maritime history museum in New York City with a collection of museum ships. It is located at Pier 86 at 46th Street, along the Hudson River, in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan. The museum showcases the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, the cruise missile submarine USS Growler, a Concorde SST, a Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise. On the lower deck, there is also a reproduction of a World War I biplane.

Founded in 1982, the museum closed in 2006 for a 1.5-year renovation of Intrepid and its facilities. Those included new exhibits. The museum reopened to the public on November 8, 2008.

Public transit access        Bus: M12, M42, M50

Subway: “A” train​”C” train​”E” train at 42nd Street–Port Authority Bus Terminal

Museum of the Moving Image

The Museum of the Moving Image is focused on art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media. It collects, preserves, and provides access to moving-image-related artifacts via multimedia exhibitions and educational programming. The exhibits include significant audio/visual components designed to promote an understanding of the history of the industry and an understanding of how it has evolved. Panel discussions about current movies are frequently held at the museum. The museum hosts regular monthly series in its two premium theaters. These ongoing series include “Changing the Picture,” “Fist & Sword,” “New Adventures in Nonfiction,” “Science on Screen,” and “Disreputable Cinema.” Each of these explores and celebrates many aspects of the art and culture of cinema. It is also home to one of the most significant collections of video games and gaming hardware. The museum’s attendance has grown from 60,000 in 2000 to an expected figure of 120,000 in 2011. In 2017, the museum opened “The Jim Henson Exhibition,” a permanent exhibit honoring the life and ingenuity of Jim Henson and his creations. Further, an exhibit entitled, “Envisioning 2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey”, opened in January 2020.[8]

Public transit access New York City Subway:
36th Ave
MTA Bus:
Q66, Q101

New York Jewish Parenting Guide

JScreen Announces the Fourth Annual Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week (JGSAW) February 5th – 11th

A Week of Powerful Events, Timely Information, and Resources to Raise Awareness of the Importance of Genetic Screening

 JScreena national non-profit public health initiative dedicated to preventing genetic diseases, announces the fourth annual Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week (JIGSAW), which takes place from February 5th through 11th.  Initiated in 2020 with organizational partners across the nation, JIGSAW serves to educate the community about the importance of screening for genetic diseases and to raise awareness about testing resources. Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week was officially recognized in the morning orders by the Georgia State Legislature according to the Proclamation Declaring Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week. The goal for JGSAW is to continue to drive awareness about the importance of genetic testing to encourage more people to get screened and to gain the support of donors who make JScreen possible.

Now in its 10th year, JScreen makes genetic testing simple, accessible, and affordable with its easy-to-use at-home saliva kits. JScreen’s reproductive test gives prospective parents a deep understanding of their genetic makeup and the risk of having a child with a genetic disease.  If a couple’s risk is elevated, genetic counselors privately address their results by phone or video teleconference and provide options to help them plan for the health of their future children. JScreen’s cancer genetic test alerts a person to their risk for hereditary cancer. Anyone with positive results can take action for the prevention or early detection of many common cancers. By providing convenient at-home access to cutting-edge genetic testing technology, patient education, and genetic counseling services, JScreen strives to prevent devastating genetic diseases and ensure a healthy future for all.

“Our #1 goal is to ensure generations of healthy children and adults by preventing genetic diseases and hereditary cancer. The more people we educate and test, the closer we are to achieving our goal,” says Karen Arnovitz Grinzaid, Executive Director of JScreen.


Why Genetic Testing Matters:

Eighty percent of babies with genetic diseases are born to parents with no known history of that disease. Through early genetic screening, potential parents can determine the risk of having a child with a genetic disease before pregnancy, giving them options for family planning and helping to ensure the health of their future children.  Approximately 10% of cancers are hereditary, meaning they are related to genetic changes that are passed down in a family. Cancer genetic testing identifies people who are at risk so they can take action to prevent cancer or detect it at an early, treatable stage.

 “While JScreen’s roots are in the Jewish community, everyone can benefit from comprehensive genetic testing and counseling,” said El-Mahdi Holly, State Representative of Georgia HD116. “For the fourth annual Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week, the goal is to ensure that everyone, no matter your race, religion, or background, has access to genetic testing and that all community members have the knowledge to take action, take control, and get screened.”

During JGSAW, JScreen is offering a $72-off coupon code. People can register for testing at and use code JGSAW23 at checkout to receive the discount.

 For more information about JScreen testing and to become a donor, please visit


Proclamation Declaring Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week

Senate Resolution

By: Michael Wilensky


Designating the week of February 3rd as Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week in Georgia and other purposes.

WHEREAS everyone is a carrier for a number of genetic diseases, and there are certain genetic diseases that are more common in certain ethnicities.

WHEREAS, Jewish people are among the ethnic groups at high risk for certain genetic diseases, some of which cause early death or severely debilitating symptoms. Non-Jewish people can also be carriers of these and other genetic diseases.

WHEREAS, genetic screening is recommended for any couple thinking of starting or expanding their family.

WHEREAS, carriers are healthy individuals who unknowingly have a mutation in a disease gene. They do not have symptoms, thus the only way they can know if they are carrier is to get tested or to have an affected child.

WHEREAS, carrier couples have a twenty-five percent risk, with each pregnancy, of having a child affected by the genetic disease they both carry.

WHEREAS, many couples are only offered genetic testing once they are already pregnant and for a limited number of diseases. Educating the community about the importance of comprehensive pre-conception screening is essential to afford couples more options to plan ahead.

WHEREAS, Jewish people are also at higher risk to have mutations in genes (e.g. BRCA) that increase the risk for certain cancers, and knowing those risks can be lifesaving.

WHEREAS, genetic screening is now easily accessible to those in Georgia and nationwide via at-home screening on saliva.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA that the week of February 3rd shall be set aside and officially designated as Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week in Georgia.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Secretary of the Senate is authorized and directed to make appropriate copies of this resolution available for distribution to the public and the press.

New York Jewish Parenting Guide

New TV Chef Hanukkah dishes you can make at home

There are three tasty dishes from Food Network and TLC star Celebrity Chef George Duran: an Herbed Matzo Ball Soup and some Herbed Latkes (my favorite) using Dorot Gardens flash-frozen herbs for fresh flavor; as well as some Easy Chocolate Tahini Rugelach made with Mighty Sesame Co. organic tahini so they’re surprisingly nutritious for a tasty dessert.

Herbed Matzo Ball Soup


For Matzo Balls:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 frozen cubes of Dorot Gardens Parsley
  • 3 frozen cubes Dorot Gardens Basil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Manischewitz matzo meal

For Soup:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups total finely chopped onions, celery, carrot, and parsnips
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Sauté onions in vegetable oil on medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat and add all Dorot Gardens herbs. Allow to thaw and mix with onions. Once onions have cooled, add to a medium bowl.
  3. Mix in eggs and salt and fold in the matzo meal. Cover and refrigerate as the soup is prepared.
  4. In a large saucepan, cook vegetables with vegetable oil until softened. Add chicken broth and as it comes to a simmer, prepare the matzo balls.
  5. To prepare matzo balls, divide herbed matzo into 12 equal parts and shape them into balls with wet hands. Gently add to the simmering broth. Cover the saucepan and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  6. Taste broth and season with salt and pepper before serving.


  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 onion
  • 6 cubes Dorot Gardens Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Apple sauce and sour cream, for serving


  1. Place 2 to 3 large layers of paper towels on a cutting board and begin grating potatoes and onion on top. Pick up the grated potatoes and onion and with the paper towel into a large ball and gently squeeze out the liquid, trying not to rip through the paper towel. Place the grated potatoes and onion in a large bowl. Repeat as needed until all the potatoes and onions are grated and squeezed.
  2. In a small bowl microwave Dorot Gardens Parsley cubes and olive oil for 1 minute. Once cooled, add eggs and beat.
  3. Pour eggs into grated potatoes and use a fork to combine. Season with 1 tsp salt.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet, about ¼ inch deep. Once the oil begins to shimmer (about 325°F-350°F), take a small handful of the potato mixture and flatten it out on the palm of your hand, making sure the pieces are binding.
  5. Place these carefully in the hot oil and fry on each side until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Keep an eye on the oil temperature and adjust heat as needed to prevent latkes from burning or under-cooking.
  6. Season with more salt and pepper as needed and serve with apple sauce and sour cream.

Serves 4-6.

Easy Chocolate Tahini Rugelach


  • 1 roll refrigerated pie crust (like Pillsbury Pie Crusts)
  • 1/2 cup Mighty Sesame Organic Tahini
  • 4 oz. finely chopped milk chocolate, or dark chocolate if you prefer less sweetness
  • Toasted sesame seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Unroll the pie crust on a cutting board and squeeze about 1/2 cup of Mighty Sesame tahini throughout. Sprinkle evenly with chopped chocolate. Cut into 16 even ‘slices’ with a large chef knife.
  3. Roll up each triangle tightly starting at the outer edge toward the center point and sprinkle each with sesame seeds
  4. Place Rugelach on the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until just starting to brown. Note that some chocolate may leak out – this is completely normal.
  5. Allow to cool on a cookie rack and serve.

Makes 16 Rugelach Cookies.

New York  Jewish Parenting Guide

9 Ways to Stay Sane With Kids at Home

There have been tweets, memes, and questions, as well as more than a few cries of despair from parents about being secluded with their children during this pandemic. Quality time and quantity time have at last become equal in the family home; however, many parents not used to having their progeny with them so much are reaching the end of their tether.

Here are nine ways to navigate the path of parenthood under lockdown.

1. Be happy. King David describes the transformation of laughter and joy are the best ways to raise their barren wife into a glad mother of children.1 When Isaac was born to Sarah and Abraham, “Sarah said, G‑d has made laughter for me; whoever hears will laugh for me.’”With the birth of the first Jewish child came laughter. Isaac comes from the root word of “laughter.” Children are a joy. (Yes, they really are!) “The heritage of G‑d is children; the reward is the fruit of the womb.”Laughter and joy are the way we both merit children and show gratitude for them. But most of all, they are the best way to raise them.

2. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Rediscover your inner child and play along. Be flexible. Resisting is not going to help in this particular situation. Get on the floor and do a puzzle, crawl, play hide and seek, and fingerpaint. Sarah died at age 127. “Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years and seven years, the years of Sarah’s life.”4 According to the Midrash, the years of her life are recorded in this manner because she kept the beauty and innocence of her youth even at her advanced age. Just because we’re older doesn’t mean we can’t keep our more innocent youthfulness and draw upon it when necessary. Like now.

3. Keep your perspective. There’s a Chassidic story about a man who went to complain to his rebbe about how crowded his house was. He lived in a small house with his wife and many children, and there was just no room. The Rebbe told him in turns to take in his goat, his cow, his horse, and his chickens. Each time the man returned to his rebbe more distraught until finally, the Rebbe told him to remove all the animals from his lodgings. Afterward, he came back to the rebbe gushing with gratitude as he now had so much more room. If you need extra space, you might want to rearrange your furniture and move some of it up against the wall so there’s more room to navigate and play (and so you don’t start climbing the wall).

4. Set boundaries for “me” time. The Holy Temple had many designated areas and they allowed entrance to specific groups of people: the men, the women, the Levites, the Kohanim, and the High Priest, who was the only one who could enter the Holy of Holies and only on Yom Kippur. Our homes are like our own personal Temples. There should be times and places where only you are allowed to go. Make sure your children are safe, then go into your bathroom and take a long bath. Go take a nap in your bedroom, or call a friend and tell your children that you’re not to be disturbed. You’re allowed some private rejuvenation time. You can only take care of others if you, too, are healthy—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

5. Channel your children’s energy. Believe me, this is harder on kids than it is on you. Kids need to be running, playing, and learning with their peers. Find a way to spend their pent-up energy in a constructive way. Teach them to do something that requires concentration and physical acuity—gardening, sewing, baking, painting. Participate in an exercise class with them in the living room or take daily walks, if you can.

6. Have children help with chores. Before the 20th century, children were apprenticed at a very early age to learn a trade. Give your children age-appropriate tasks to help you. Set up a chart with chores, and let each child fill in their weekly contributions and expectations. Help them to organize and keep their rooms tidy. Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk said, “I do not want followers who are righteous, rather I want followers who are too busy doing good that they won’t have time to do bad.” Keep your kids busy doing something productive, and they won’t have time or energy to drive you crazy.

7. Create a story hour in your homeDownload stories to read to your children with extra points if the story has positive lessons for them. has lots of Chassidic stories. Whatever you’re complaining about, other people are praying for They’re entertaining, hold a child’s interest, and are great teaching tools. Print out a story, sit on the carpet with your children around you, and read to them. You can start with the one about the man who went to his rebbe to complain there was no room in the house. Older children can have this time to relax and read on their own.

8. Be grateful. Remember whatever you’re complaining about, other people are praying for. Your children are healthy and at home. Offer up a prayer of thanksgiving, along with your prayer that G‑d gives you the strength to cope. Whatever is going on, if you a.) have kids and b.) they’re well enough to be home, then c.) you are blessed. Anytime is a good time to pray and be grateful for the blessing of children. Let your children see you praying and set a time on the schedule for family prayer when each child can focus on something that they have to be grateful for.

9. Finally, reorder your priorities and change your expectations. Our No. 1 priority right now ( but really always) is to stay safe and healthy and keep those we love safe and healthy, too. Everything else is gravy, including the gravy. Keep your “To Do” list on the short and basic side, and enjoy this extra time spent with your wonderful children. Before you know it, life will return to its hectic pace, and you’ll actually find yourself missing this special time together. (Yes, seriously!) Getting through the day with everyone intact should be the most you aim for. And you know what, that’s still a pretty big achievement.

By Rosally Saltsman (

Back to school with healthier air thanks to Israeli device

Aura Air purifiers are being installed in thousands of American classrooms and school buses using federal Covid-relief funds.

Aura Air, an Israeli air-purifier, is being installed in thousands of American classrooms and school buses as the academic year begins, underwritten by federal Covid relief funds for school districts across the United States.

The purifiers have already been placed in many schools and universities in New York, Maryland, California, South Carolina, Florida, Washington, Mississippi, and Massachusetts.

Aura Air’s award-winning patented technology filters and disinfects indoor air through a unique four-stage purification process that captures and kills 99.9% of viruses, bacteria, germs, and allergens.

An accompanying app lets parents, educators, and facility managers monitor and control the air quality in classrooms in real-time and get alerts on allergy and virus risks.

Aura Air not only purifies the air but also allows for monitoring and controlling air quality via an app. Screenshot courtesy of Aura Air

In June, former US National Parent Teacher Association (“PTA”) President Leslie Boggs joined Aura Air as an advisory board member

“With Covid-19 cases rising and the Influenza virus spiking across the country, indoor air quality in our schools continues to be a top concern for parents and teachers,” said Boggs.

“Aura Air’s technology is scientifically proven to eliminate 99.99% of Covid and flu particles in 60 minutes or less. The platform enables schools and universities to monitor and purify indoor air quality in real-time across campuses to keep educators and students healthy.”

Founded in 2018, Aura Air is also helping to purify the air in homes, hospitals, businesses, hotels, restaurants, and buses in close to 90 countries. The company is headquartered in Israel with global offices in the United States and India.

Many Israeli school districts, including Tel Aviv, also ordered Aura Air units in time for the first day of school on September 1.

About the Author

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a major daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.

The 2022 Quick Guide to Celebrating Sukkot With Kids

This year Sukkot will begin in the evening on Sunday, October 9, 2022, and end in the evening on Sunday, October 16, 2022.

Sukkot, the fall holiday of thanksgiving, starts five days after Yom Kippur and lasts for a week. The most popular tradition of Sukkot is building, decorating, and spending time (even sleeping!) inside a hut called a sukkah.

On Sukkot, families welcome guests into their sukkah, or visit friends in theirs, enjoy delicious seasonal foods, and feel thankful for what they have.

Want a quick primer on Sukkot traditions and customs? Watch this video from BimBam.

Use the buttons below to learn more and celebrate Sukkot with your kids this year.


For small children and toddlers, Sukkot is offers a fantastic space for imaginative play and for doing small, easy-to-understand mitzvot like welcoming guests, being kind to animals, and celebrating with enthusiasm.

You can also:

Decorate your sukkah together.

  • Use your new PJ Library welcome mobile
  • Hang plastic play fruit from the dollar store (or the real thing)

Imagine what it feels like to sleep outside. Play pretend together – what sounds might you hear? Birds chirping? Wind blowing? Cars driving by if you live in a city? What would you see through the thatch roof on your sukkah?

Build a sukkah in your living room! Make a mini-sukkah from building blocks or play pretend with a pillow fort.

Sing a song like “Hinei Ma Tov.”


Great books for this age group include The Vanishing Gourds: A Sukkot Mystery by Susan Axe-Bronk, Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde, Tikvah Means Hope by Patricia Polacco, and The House on the Roof by David A. Adler.

You can also:

Make your own decorations

  • Paper Lanterns for Your Sukkah via Creative Jewish Mom
  • Glitter Gourds via Jewish Boston
  • Suncatchers

Watch the Shalom Sesame monsters welcome guests into their sukkah!

What are some ways that you might welcome people into your sukkah?

Shake the lulav!

Invite ushpezin. Welcoming guests is a time-honored tradition in Judaism. The Talmud, a book of Jewish law and wisdom, notes that welcoming guests is even more important than studying Torah or worshipping God (Shabbat 127a). The beloved Jewish scholar and philosopher Maimonides insists that it is only in the presence of guests that one can experience the true joys of a holiday. A popular practice is to welcome a different Biblical guest, known by the Aramaic term ushpezin (guests), into the sukkah each night of Sukkot. Take the idea of ushpezin and make a guest list with your children – who will you invite? PJ Library characters? Friends? Celebrities? Far-away relatives?

Be generous. Generosity means giving eagerly to others, and even more than necessary. A common Hebrew expression for generosity is nedivut lev, literally a willing heart. Giving wholeheartedly is what distinguishes nedivut from ordinary giving. How can you be generous to others during Sukkot? Invite friends and neighbors to your sukkah, share delicious treats with them, give tzedakah and maybe find a family service project to do during the holiday as well.


Although kids in this age group are almost teenagers, they’re not too cool (yet) to join in on decorating the sukkah and preparing snacks to share. Let your kids practice the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, welcoming guests, by planning a night in the sukkah. They can pick the menu (pizza and tacos are both solid Sukkot foods), invite friends, and play host for the evening.

PJ Our Way members from Orlando make apple pops together for a Sukkot celebration.

Since kids in this age group already know the customs and traditions associated with Sukkot, focus on books that build on themes of the holiday: gratitude, welcoming guests, and feeling pride and joy in celebrating. Here are some great titles to check out:


Regardless of your age, you can help enhance the celebration, hiddur mitzvah, by decorating, playing music, and enjoying and sharing delicious food. Hiddur mitzvah reminds all Jewish people that holidays should be enjoyed with great enthusiasm. For parents, holidays can often feel stressful or hectic, but by taking a step back and refocusing on the value of hiddur mitzvah, you can find ways to reframe the energy around your holidays. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that we have to do a lot, or more, for each holiday – create a better sukkah, make a bigger meal, buy an expensive, imported, etrog, but that’s not what hiddur mitzvah is about.

Instead, think of hiddur mitzvah as an upgrade to your holiday – maybe you won’t do as many things, but you might do them better. Instead of trying to make twenty homemade Pinterest-worthy decorations for your sukkah, try to do one project as a family that you can reuse every year. Forget the artisanal cheese plate you were trying to craft and serve some imperfectly perfect hummus made by the kids as a sukkah snack. Order pizza, invite friends, relax, and enjoy your holiday together.

Reprinted with permission from “The 2022 Quick Guide to Celebrating Sukkot With Kids,” PJ Library, Beyond the Books, 2022, by the

Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

New York Jewish Parenting Guide

Daughter’s last wish: a hospital spa for patients’ parents

Gil and Karen Devora suffered the heartbreak of losing 14-year-old Ella to rare cancer. Ella’s Spa gives other patients’ parents much-needed TLC.

For many years, Gil Devora volunteered in the children’s oncology unit at Sheba Medical Center in Israel. He was inspired by his mother, who has also been a volunteer at the hospital for the past 42 years.

Devora, a high-tech executive, said he liked to joke around with the children, to make them laugh, to talk about their dreams. He knew every doctor and nurse on the ward.

He never thought, “never in my worst nightmare,” he says, that his daughter, Ella, would be a patient in that very same ward and that she would die at 14 from rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that most often affects children.

To honor his daughter’s memory, Devora and his wife, Karen Delaney-Devora, opened Ella’s Spa in Sheba on May 15, which would have been Ella’s 15th birthday.

The spa offers free treatment for parents of children with cancer. All the people who work in the spa are volunteers.

The family is now raising money to open spas in other hospitals in Israel.

Ella’s dream

Ella, says her father, was sick for two years and nevertheless “thought of other people before she thought of herself.”

A month before Ella died, she donated her guitar and drums to children in the ward.

And she mentioned that she thought it would be a good idea to have a spa for parents of patients.

As Devora explained, “Parents don’t feel comfortable going to get a haircut or have a massage when their children are so sick.”

But “they also need to take care of their own bodies and souls,” and when children see that their parents feel good, he said, they feel better.

That’s why Devora and his wife decided to follow through on Ella’s dream of a spa right in the hospital.

Ella Devora with her mother, Karen Delaney-Devora. Photo courtesy of the Devora family

The project was done in cooperation with Rachashei Lev, a nonprofit organization for children with cancer, which operates on the Sheba campus for children in treatment and their families. The spa was built through donations – even the building contractor and architect volunteered their services.

Ella’s Spa offers massages, facials and manicures as well as a jacuzzi bath and sauna, free of charge to all parents of pediatric cancer patients. Cozy white bathrobes are included.

Like another world

During the two years that Ella was treated at Sheba, her parents made a commitment to “have as much fun as possible” doing things together as a family, including their son, Tomer, now 17.

Ella Devora with her brother, Tomer. Photo courtesy of the Devora family

Two months before Ella died, they started to plan a trip to Seychelles, even though Ella’s doctor warned them against it.

“But we still wanted to take her so she could swim and be on the beach,” Devora said. “I realized it was impossible to save her.”

He also realized that not everyone can take family trips when their child is sick. But Ella’s Spa can be like a mini-vacation because it gives the feeling of being “in another world,” he said.

“When you open the door, you feel like you’re in a spa in a five-star hotel.”

Devora said that he no longer volunteers at the hospital. He doesn’t want to tell parents with children being treated there that he lost his daughter. He wants them to have hope.

“Through Ella’s Spa, she is still touching people, giving them something,” he said.

“She died after being on earth for only 14 years but she still brought a lot of meaning to the world.”

About the Author

Diana Bletter is the author of books including A Remarkable Kindness and The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women, a National Jewish Book Award nominee. A graduate of Cornell University and resident of Israel since 1991, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and many other publications.

New York Jewish Parenting Guide

Tutti-frutti chewing gum to halt kids’ sugar craving

Tiny amounts of an Indian bitter herb block taste receptors for two hours, says Israeli startup.

New chewing gum will halt kids’ craving for sugar, thanks to an ancient bitter herb.

Israeli food-tech startup Sweet Victory says tiny amounts of Gymnema sylvestre block the sugar receptors on their tongues for two hours, reducing the desire for sweet food or drink — and making them taste bland or even sour.

The company launched a mint-flavored version for adults in January and is now developing a tutti-frutti gum for kids, which should hit the market later this year.

Both the child and adult versions contain Gymnema, a naturally bitter-tasting botanical herb that has traditionally been used for over 2,000 years in Indian alternative medicine to stabilize blood-sugar levels. The gum is flavored to mask its bitterness.

Trials in Israel, the United States, and France showed children enjoyed the gum – and couldn’t eat sweets afterward, the company said. The active ingredient blocks sugar receptors on the tongue within two minutes.

“The biggest challenge in developing this gum for kids was to create boldly fruit-flavored chewing gum to overcome the bitterness of the herb Gymnema,” said Shimrit Lev, a nutritional instructor who jointly founded the company in 2020 with psychologist Gitit Lahav.

Lev and Lahav developed the children’s version of the gum, with a lower dose of Gymnema, in collaboration with Swiss flavor and fragrance manufacturer Givaudan.

“They helped us refine the product and develop a very flavorful, yet highly effective product—a sweet treat that can change eating behavior and help parents control their kids’ daily sugar consumption,” said Gitit.

Patients with sugar cravings reported beneficial effects from chewing the gum three times a day in a small study at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan.

“The gum does not change the taste buds permanently; it just occupies the sweet receptors for a specific time. Most people use it during the hours they crave sugar,” said Gitit.

Further clinical research is planned for diabetic patients, with endocrinologists at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

By John Jeffay (isarel21c)


Kit lets ill astronauts self-diagnose while in outer space

No trained personnel or complicated equipment is needed to perform tests identifying viruses and bacteria infecting the space crew.

A unique experiment aboard the International Space Station proved that a diagnostic kit developed in Israel can precisely identify viruses and bacteria infecting crew members during space missions.

Astronaut Eytan Stibbe conducted the experiment as part of the Ramon Foundation and Israel Space Agency’s Rakia mission to the International Space Station in April.

The study was led by Dudu Burstein from the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at Tel Aviv University, and Gur Pines from the Volcani Center Agricultural Research Organization.

The CRISPR-Cas (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) system protects bacteria from viruses. Bacteria use CRISPR-Cas as a sort of molecular “search engine” to locate viral sequences and disable them.

According to Burstein, the results of the experiment proved the possibility of performing precise CRISPR-based diagnosis even in an environment with virtually no gravity.

This method requires minimal equipment and is easy to operate, allowing rapid diagnosis of diseases and pathogens even on longer explorations of the Moon and Mars.

Burstein explained that conditions in space are “extremely problematic, and treatment methods are limited. So it is essential to identify pathogens in a rapid, reliable, and straightforward method. Tests like PCR, which we are now all familiar with, require trained personnel and relatively complex equipment.”

The kit prepared by doctoral student Dan Alon and researcher Karin Mittelman for Stibbe to test in space, he said, allows “the whole process to be conducted in one tiny test tube, so it can suit the astronauts’ needs.”

Such kits, he concluded, “may help future astronauts on their extraterrestrial missions.”

About the Author

Diana Bletter is the author of books including A Remarkable Kindness and The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women, a National Jewish Book Award nominee. A graduate of Cornell University and resident of Israel since 1991, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and many other publications.

A book-filled childhood prevents later cognitive decline

Analysis of the aging survey shows a significant correlation between an early book-oriented environment with improved memory, fluency, and cognition.

Books intrigue and delight children, and now we know they may also help those children preserve cognitive functioning into old age.

Growing up in a book-filled home seems to improve memory in those 65 years old and older as well as preserve against cognitive decline, according to a study by Galit Weinstein of the University of Haifa, Ella Cohn-Schwartz of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Noam Damri of the Israel Gerontological Data Center.

The researchers drew their conclusions from an analysis of results from two waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). In 2011 and 2013, the survey was completed by the same 8,239 individuals aged 65 or over who did not suffer from neurodegenerative disease.

Their analysis concluded that a book-filled childhood home – defined modestly as containing 11 to 25 books — correlated significantly with improved immediate memory, delayed memory, verbal fluency, and less global cognitive decline.

“If we can identify early life factors that affect brain aging and give an advantage to people in late life, then we can preserve cognitive function in older age,” explained Cohn-Schwartz, from BGU’s Department of Public Health.

The team’s findings were published recently in the journal Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.

“This study contributes to our understanding of the importance of our childhood environments for brain health in old age. More studies are needed to determine the long-term effects on the brain of the transition from reading printed books to using digital media,” said Weinstein.

About the Author:

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a major daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.