The 11th Annual Young Child Expo & Conference 2014

The 11th Annual Young Child Expo & Conference 2014 – New York Jewish Parenting Guide


It is our great pleasure to present the 11th Annual Young Child Expo & Conference 2014 – a joint project of Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education and Los Niños Services. Our goal is simple – to provide useful information to professionals and parents in order to help all young children learn, grow and reach their full potential.


Our conference brings over 1000 people together across all kinds of programs, disciplines, and interest areas from speech pathologists to parents, to those working in children’s museums, day care centers, preschools, and those working with children who have autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or other special needs. In one unique event, this conference integrates learning about typically developing children as well as those with special needs, including autism. It runs from April 23-25, 2014 in NYC at the New Yorker Hotel – on 34th street & 8th Avenue.

Register at or call us at 1-212-787-9700 x 333.

How to ruin a perfectly good kid in 10 simple steps

By Becky Rickman

Here is a primer for all parents who want to ruin their perfectly good children. Do these things and watch them become a bain not only to your existence, but also to society at large


 Almost anyone raise a well-adjusted child. But, to truly screw up a child, you must have a cheat sheet. Take a perfectly good kid, practice these 10 behaviors and watch them grow into completely ineffective adults.

1. Speak in superlatives. Always tell them they are the prettiest, the handsomest, the smartest, the most athletic, the most artistic, the most talented. This way when they grow up and discover they are mediocre and have to actually work at something, they can blame you in their very expensive therapy sessions.

2. Let them interrupt. No matter who you may be having a conversation with, no matter how important or time-sensitive, always, always, when your child tugs on your shirt-sleeve and says repeatedly, “Scuse me. Scuse me. Scuse me.” Make certain you stop mid-sentence and admire her for her politeness and give her your full attention. After all, nothing you have going on could possibly be as critical as your child needing to say something.

3. Always take his side of the story. If a teacher discloses in a conference that your child is failing, it must be the teacher’s fault. If the coach tells you that your child will warm the bench, he must have been remiss in his coaching duties. If all evidence points to the fact that your kid stole those CDs, but your child denies it, then all evidence must be circumstantial. Always believe your child and ignore the good intentions of those who proclaim to care about him.

4. Never let them fail or look bad. Finish up that Pinewood Derby car, that science project, that speech, that term paper. After all, it would be harmful to their little psyches to allow them to fail or be embarrassed.

5. Keep him up with the Jones’. Make certain your child has everything his friends do. Get him upgrades as soon as they come out. Keep him the envy of all his peers. Never let him be ashamed that he doesn’t have the latest and greatest.

6. Protect him from all harm and pain. Run interference for him if you see trouble coming his way. Keep him in knee pads, helmets and training wheels. Forbid climbing in trees, on monkey bars and, for heaven’s sake, no high dives at the pool. Use antibiotic everything. Keep the temperature at an even 70 degrees. Never, under any circumstances, let him play in the dirt.


7. Make a life plan now. Figure out what you think she should be when she grows up and stick to that, no matter what. Direct all his energy and free time into being the best at that vocation. If he cries or resists, just keep telling him it is for his own good. After all, you know best.

8. Be critical. Criticize the adults in their lives at the dinner table. Tell them what a lame job their teachers, counselors, coaches and other authority figures are doing. Teach them to be critical about everyone, as well. Just don’t be surprised if the criticism turns out to be about you.

9. Disclosure. Give your kids full disclosure into all the intimate details of your life. Tell them all the stupid and dangerous things you did as a kid. Then tell them about how rocky your marriage is. Ask them for advice. Tell them if you’re worried about losing your job. Share with them your fear of not having enough money. Don’t forget any detail. Have a nice, open relationship.

10. Cover your bases. Tell him what to do and what not to do, but cover your bases for when he disobeys. Tell him not to drink, but when he does, to call you. Tell her not to take drugs, but when she does, to let you know. Tell her to abstain from intimate relations, but give the protection just in case. Mixed messages like that are a great way to keep him guessing about his own choices.

There you have it. A comprehensive list of ways to take a perfectly normal and emotionally healthy child and turn him into a lifetime project.

mh- new york jewish parenting guide

10 Signs of ADHD in Children

CRegal- Health Central


Though many children show some of the following behaviors, a child exhibiting many or all of these signs may have ADHD. Though this does not necessarily mean your child has ADHD, parents who have noticed many of these behaviors should discuss any concerns with their physician. –

1-Inability to sustain attention
Obviously children are not the most attentive people in the world.  However, it is fairly easy to tell if a child has extreme difficulty paying attention to anything – even enjoyable activities – for more than a few minutes.  If this is the case, you may want to talk to your doctor.

 2- Constant distraction


Also, children who are constantly distracted by sights and sounds may be exhibiting symptoms of ADHD.  Yes, children are often distracted by sights and sounds, but parents may want to monitor a child’s behavior if there are other symptoms present.  Children who seem completely unable to sustain attention beyond a sight or sound may need to be tested by a doctor for ADHD

3-Difficulty sustaining eye contact

This symptom is not exclusive to children, as difficulty maintaining eye contact during conversation is also an issue with people who suffer from ADHD through adulthood.  It seems to be a product of the inattention and hyperactivity, leading a person to constantly be in motion rather than sustaining eye contact.
Able to pay attention to high-interest things

4- Able to pay attention to high-interest things

The theory is that sufferers from ADHD can actually devote all of their interest into one activity at a time, so long as they are hyper-focused on the issue. In adolescents, parents may see this with a video game obsession. In children, it can present itself in different ways.  Children with ADHD may also be able to stay on task only in high-energy activities.  This, too, indicates tunnel vision so long as the child is appropriately engaged.
5- Excessively hyperactive / always in motion


One of the key symptoms of ADHD is the H – hyperactivity.  Certainly all kids seem to be hyper from time to time, but there is a breaking point for this behavior.  If a child never acts under control and is always in motion over the course of an entire day, it may be a sign of the symptom.  Children traditionally have waves of energy and rest, but if a child appears never to rest, it may be time to contact the pediatrician
7- Lack of interest in reading or cuddling

Affection is often exhibited by children, though an absence of this activity could be indicative of a social problem or, depending on what the child is opting to do instead, could be a sign of ADHD.  If a child is so wrapped up in an activity that there is disinterest in social activity, you may want to contact your doctor.

8- Difficulty calming down
Yes, most children get excited. Calming children down after he or she is excited is never easy, but there’s behavior that goes beyond the norm. Though there is no definitive length of calm-down time that determines whether he or she has ADHD, it may be wise to monitor your child and discuss the findings with your pediatrician.

9-Highly impulsive
A key symptom of ADHD in other age groups is impulsivity.  ADHD patients often act without thinking, and children are no different.  Though your child may seem to be a risk-taker or may not have a fully developed sense of consequences, there should be some control over impulses.

 10- Accident prone

Children are bound to get injured at some point. However, if your child seems to have more accidents than “normal,” it may be indicative of difficulty with impulse control. If a child does not have a sense of thought-process before an activity – including those that result in accidents – it may be wise to bring this point up with a doctor.

11-Difficulty sleeping
As a child ages, sleep schedules should become more regular. Though not necessarily an adult sleep schedule, children who do not seem to require much sleep at all may be exhibiting symptoms of ADHD.  How much does your child actually sleep at night?  How is his or her energy level affected?  Monitor your child and bring the results to your pediatrician.

mh- New York Jewish Parenting

Israeli Newborn Baby Checklist

by Zev Stub

This is a guide to what to do after having a baby in Israel – get a bigger tax credit, Kupat Cholim card before naming your baby, and much more!

Baby on Board

Mazal tov!  Your little bundle of joy has arrived.  Now that your baby is born, you are asking yourself what you need to do.  ”Is it true I can get a bigger tax credit in my salary?” “How do I get a Kupat Cholim card without giving the baby a name?”  ”Do I really get paid for giving birth?” “How much child allowance should I be receiving anyway?”

Whether it is your first or you are already a veteran parent, there are many things you must do to begin your life with your new addition.  Below is a checklist and explanation of how to go about some of the important tasks you must undertake.

First Steps

#1 Baby boys only: Mohel
If you have a baby boy, your first step is to call a mohel.

#2 Health Fund Registration
One of the most important things to do is to get your child registered with a health fund (קופת חולים /kupat cholim) in case you need to take your child to the doctor after leaving the hospital.

  • What to bring: Parents’ Certificate (תלוש להורים / tlush l’horim), a Ministry of Interior document which you received at the hospital
  • What to request
    1.      Membership card – Assuming you are waiting to name your child until a brit or simchat bat/ Torah reading, you may request that the first name be temporarily filled in as זכר (zachar) or נקבה (ne’kay’va).
    2.      Supplemental health plan – If you have a supplemental health plan (e.g., Maccabi’s Magen Zahav or Meuchedet’s See) that you want extended to your newborn, then make sure that the baby is signed up for that as well.
    3.      Internet access – Request an internet access code for your child to allow you to login to your child’s health fund account online.  In addition, verify that the child’s account will be linked to both parents’ accounts, so that it can be accessed via the parents’ login as well.


#3 Baby boys only: Schedule a Check-Up with Your Pediatrician
If you have a boy, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician for the day before the brit.  It is nice to have the doctor’s okay.

#4 Plan an Event
If you’re planning a celebratory event, make sure you have a location and food arranged.

#5 Add Baby to Private Health Insurance
If you have private health insurance (besides your health fund membership and supplemental health plan through your health fund), then it makes sense to call your insurance agent and add your baby right away so there will be no issue of pre-existing health conditions.

#6 Foreign citizens only: Schedule an Appointment with the Foreign Embassy
If your child is eligible for a foreign citizenship and passport, consider taking care of the paperwork right away, especially if you are planning a trip with your newborn in the near future.  The first step (at least for Americans) is scheduling an appointment at the Embassy or Consulate.  Americans should also request a Social Security Number.

#7 Schedule a Well-Baby Clinic Visit
Your local well-baby clinic (טיפת חלב / tipat chalav) will have lots of things for you to do, from weighing and measuring your baby to starting vaccinations.

top 25_2

#8 Update the Water Company
The number of people in your household affects how your water bill is calculated.  (At least some) local water companies will not backdate your household status change, so you should report it to them at your earliest convenience.

Next Steps

After having taken care of the initial steps, you can move on to less time-sensitive issues.

#9 Update Income Tax Credits
If you and/or your spouse are salaried workers, give a copy of the Parents’ Certificate (תלוש להורים) to your employer(s).  Even fathers receive extra in their bank account post-tax every month (218 NIS as of 2014)!

#10 Register Baby’s Name, Update Parental IDs, Request Birth Certificates
At the Ministry of Interior, you have a number of tasks.

  • When to come: Two to three weeks after the child’s birth.  You can call your local branch of the Ministry of Interior to see if your child’s information has been updated in the system.
  • What to bring: Parents’ Certificate (תלוש הורים), both parents’ ID cards (תעודת זהות / teudat zehut)
  • What to request:
    1.      Register the baby’s name – Assuming that you did not register the baby’s name at the hospital, register it now.  The appropriate form (הודעה על מתן שם פרטי לנולד/ת) can be filled out in advance.
    2.      Update the addendum to parental IDs – Update the addendum (ספח / sefach) to your IDs to reflect your new child.  Though both parents’ IDs must be present, only one parent needs to be.
    3.      Request a birth certificate and an English-Hebrew birth certificate – If you have any need for use of your child’s birth certificate outside of Israel, the dual-language certificate will be invaluable.  Of course, verify that all details are correct.
    4.      Request a passport – If you have plans to travel in the near future, then you can request a passport if you bring appropriate pictures.  Otherwise, you can hang on to your money a little while longer.


#11 Health Fund Membership Card with Baby’s New Name
If you did not have a first name for your baby when you first registered at your health fund, you will need to return to inform them of the baby’s name and request a new card.  At the same time, you can ask for a second card for your spouse.

#12 Apply for Maternity (or Paternity) Leave
If you are eligible, apply for maternity (or paternity) leave.  Details regarding eligibility and how to calculate how much you are owed can be found on the National Insurance Institute’s Maternity Allowance page.

 Follow Up

You have run around and done all that work.  Now, the last thing to do is make sure you are receiving the government benefits to which you are entitled.

#13 Check Your National Insurance Institute Child Allowance
If this is your first child, you should start receiving a monthly child allowance from the National Insurance Institute (ביטוח לאומי / Bituach Leumi); and if your newborn isn’t your first, your monthly child allowance should be increased.  To find out how much you should be receiving, see Calculate your Bituach Leumi child allowance.

#14 Verify Receipt of Your Birth Allowance
Parents who have been working in Israel for six months prior to the birth of a child in a hospital in Israel are entitled to a Birth Grant (מענק לידה / ma’anak leyda).  The grant should be deposited in your bank account within one month of birth.  For details of eligibility and to find out how much you should receive, see the NII’s Birth Grant page.

If there are other things you make sure to do when a baby is born, leave your suggestion in the comments.  Mazal tov!


mh- New York  Jewish Parenting

Jewish Film Quiz

How much do you know about Jewish films, actors, directors, and stories?MJL

Win TWO TICKETS for til DIVORCE DO US PART – The Musical 
Invite your 10 friends to LIKE US on Facebook ( email us their names at and with the quiz answers – Winner will be notified–

Question 1. Which ground-breaking nine-hour documentary brought on a new wave of Holocaust-related films?
 Schindler’s List
 Judgment at Nuremberg
 The Great Dictator


Question 2. Where was the first Jewish film festival held?
 New York
 Los Angeles
 San Francisco


Question 3. Der Dibuk, the infamous Yiddish film, was produced in which country?


Question 4. Borat, the film based upon Sacha Baron Cohen sketches, brings to light….
 Anti-Semitism in the United States
 Cultural stereotyping
 The closed-mindedness of a certain type of American life
 All of the above


Question 5. What is the full name of the Borat film?
 Borat: Welcome to America
 Borat: Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
 Borat: The Search for Pamela Anderson
 Borat: Oh Kazakhstan!


Question 6. Richard Dreyfuss, Anthony Hopkins, and Burt Lancaster all played Isareli leaders in the film…
 Victory at Entebbe
 Schindler’s List
 Silence of the Lambs


Question 7. Which of these films was inspired by the Bible?
 The Decalogue
 Evan Almighty
 The Ten
 B & C
 All of the above


Question 8. What is Mel Brooks’ real name?
 Morton Kelmanson
 Morris Cohen
 Melvin Kaminsky
 Moishe Mayer



Question 9. The first public TV broadcast in Israel was in what year?


Question 10. What is the name of Mel Brooks’ 1968 film, which later became a popular Broadway musical?
 History of the World, Part I
 Robin Hood: Men in Tights
 The Producers
 Blazing Saddles


mh- New York Jewish Parenting

Restaurant Openings and Updates & Food Events and more

Basil owner to open Brooklyn restaurant called “Meat” in Fall 2014 
We’ve kept it under wraps for a while but since construction is about to start, we can announce that a casual yet refined restaurant simply called “Meat” is set to to open after the summer. Owner Daniel Branover, who also owns
Basil Pizza & Wine Bar in Crown Heights has bought the building just 5 blocks away from the dairy restaurant at 115 Kingston Avenue (off Bergen Street) and will be bringing Southern comfort food style with him, including the hottest trend in the kosher market, smoked BBQ fare.
Sarit’s Grill in Brooklyn Changing it’s Name to Brooklyn Steak Co.Sarit's Grill changing its name
We ran a naming contest a few weeks ago for this restaurant on Avenue M and while none of the names submitted were picked, we would like to thank all the suggestions.  The restaurant went with the name Brooklyn Steak Co. and will re-open under that name starting this Sunday. New menu to follow.
New Catering Store Opens in Upper East Side of Manhattan
A new dairy, vegetarian and vegan kosher catering company, called
Olive Tree, has just opened at 2030 Second Avenue (off 104th Street) catering to home and office parties, corporate meetings and events including Bris, Bar & Bat Mitzvah and Weddings. In fact, their inaugural catering event was at the home of Israeli Consul, 
Ido Aharoni. Olive Tree Catering is under the supervision of
Rabbi Aaron D. Mehlman and Chalav Israel. For more information, call 212-410-0200 or email
Grand Re-Opening for Eighteen Restaurant in Manhattan 18 Restaurant
This Upper East Side establishment (busy time for this neighborhood) has undergone a face lift and they are now open.  We haven’t seen the place yet but the owner promises it is nothing like before and so we’ll be there tonight for dinner to check out the place.  Follow us on Facebook, as we will post the new digs online.
Sushi Fussion Opens in Manhattan West
As we were the first to report on Facebook last week, Sushi Fussion, a kosher sushi restaurant with 3 locations already in Queens and Great Neck, opened another Sushi Fussionlocation, this time in Midtown Manhattan on February 4th. The restaurant, located on the 2nd floor at 224 West 35th. St, between 7th and 8th Avenues offers an extensive selection of sushi under the Vaad of Queens. They are open from 10:30am to 8pm Sunday through Thursday, and until 2 hours prior to Shabbat on Fridays; delivery and takeout available.  Their phone number is:
646-476-5246. This opening together with the upcoming Pitopia location near B&H, is sure to bring more kosher traffic to the area, which has been deprived of kosher restaurants lately.
Six Thirteen Restaurant Opens in Former Space of Kosh in Stamford, CT613 Restaurant
Six Thirteen opened 2 weeks ago at 108 Prospect St. in Stamford, CT, the former location of Kosh. Their menu features such entrees as Braised Beef Short Ribs, Herb Grilled Salmon, and Bone-in Ribeye among other dishes under the OU supervision. The restaurant also offers alcoholic beverages bar, which includes draft beer, wines, hard liquor and a selection of cocktails. They’re currently only open for dinner.
Prime logo

YU Cake Wars Decorating Competition Tonight at Yeshiva UniversityYeshiva University Cake Wars Decorating Competition Tonight
Yeshiva University will be hosting its 3rd Annual Cake Wars competition on Sharsheret Pink Day this evening. Forty teams will compete to decorate cakes within 40 minutes and will judged by a panel of expert food judges, including yours truly and Mauro Castanofrom the hit TLC show Cake Boss.  In the past, the event has brought in over 400 students and has been called “one of the best events of the year” and “a co-ed event not to be missed.” After the winner is announced all participants and bystanders will be allowed to cut into the cakes. Cake Wars will be taking place on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus located at 500 West 185th Street New York, NY 10033 in Furst Hall room 501. The event is scheduled to start at 8pm and end at 10:30pm. The event is being organized to help raise money and awareness for the organization Sharsheret, a non-profit organization which helps Jewish women with breast cancer. For more information, visit their website: Tickets are $10pp.
NY Kosher Food & Wine Experience – 188 tickets left!Kosher Food & Wine Experience
There are over two dozen restaurants/caterers participating in this year’s event and this is the ONLY place right now where you can see the exclusive list of who is participating:
Abeles & Heymann / Basil / Carlos & Gabby’s / Chagall Bistro
ETC / Gemstone Catering / Glatt A La Carte / Got Cholent?
Grow & Behold / JEWmaican / Le Marais / Pitopia / Pomegranate / 
Prime Hospitality Group 
Sabra Hummus / Silverleaf Caterers Sushi Tokyo / T fusion Steakhouse / Weiss Brothers Catering
Wolf & Lamb / Wandering Q / Cake & co. a division of Butterflake / Coffee Bean Tea Leaf
Finchi by Auny Rashi Desserts / Guilty Pleasures Chocolatier / Mr. Penguin Ice Cream
Susan Sez “Say it With Cake”
KFWE is the premier kosher food and wine show with events in NY, LA, London and most recently Miami. New this year is the addition of a luxury yacht which will be docked at Pier 60. The Hornblower Hybrid, one of New York’s most modern yachts features two floors and will dazzle with a Dessert Pavilion featuring the largest variety of delectable sweets KFWE has ever offered!
The yacht will remain docked at Pier 60 for duration of the show and guests are welcome to come and go between the two areas as they please throughout the evening. KFWE NY is set for February 24 at 6:30pm at Pier 60 – Chelsea Piers, NYC. Tickets are available online and will not be sold at the door. To buy tickets visit or to find out more information please visit
Jewish Cuisine Through The Ages Event in CT
Jewish Cuisine Through the Ages
The Jewish Women’s Circle, a non profit organization, will be hosting an upscale and educational event on March 23 at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, Connecticut, titled Jewish Cuisine Through the Ages. In a series of rotating culinary demonstrations, world class international chefs with roots in Italy, Morocco, Persia, France, Syria and Brazil will present the unique tastes and flavors of their home countries while guest will enjoy samples of these exquisite dishes. The evening will close with a presentation from the former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier who served five Presidential families for over 25 years. For more information and to view the profiles of the featured chefs, please visit website:


By Great Kosher Restaurant Magazine


Pidyon Ha’ben – Redemption of First Born

by Rabbi shraga Simmons


Pidyon Ha’Ben, the “redemption of the first born son,” takes place when a baby is at least 31 days old, and involves “buying him back from a Kohen.” (see Numbers 18:15)

In actual practice, there are various exemptions which mean that many families do not require a Pidyon Ha’Ben.

The background for this mitzvah is somewhat complex, but here goes:

Originally, God intended for the first-born of each Jewish family to be a Kohen – i.e. that family’s representative to the Holy Temple. (Exodus 13:1-2, Exodus 24:5 with Rashi)

But then came the incident of the Golden Calf. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai and smashed the tablets, he issued everyone an ultimatum: “Make your choice – either God or the idol” (Exodus 32:26). Only the tribe of Levi came to the side of God. At that point, God decreed that each family’s first-born would forfeit their “Kohen” status – and henceforth all the Kohanim would come from the tribe of Levi. (Numbers 3:11-12)

Which brings us to the mitzvah of Pidyon Ha’Ben. Since the first-born child is technically a “Kohen” whose potential cannot be actualized, he has to be replaced (so to speak) by a Kohen from the tribe of Levi. This is accomplished by the father of the baby offering the Kohen a redemptive value of five silver coins for the boy.


A deeper reason we perform this mitzvah is to remind us of the Exodus from Egypt, when God killed the Egyptian first born, yet spared the Jewish first born. Also, since a person loves his first born so much, it is a fitting time to re-acknowledge the fact that everything we own in fact belongs to God. (Numbers 3:13)

Who does Pidyon Ha’Ben?

There are many factors that determine when and if to perform Pidyon Ha’Ben, so you will need to find a rabbi who is well versed in Jewish law to guide you.

In general, Pidyon Ha’Ben only applies to a son who “opened his mother’s womb.” Therefore, all the following conditions must apply:

1) The mother is Jewish, and she has never had a baby before, male or female.

2) The baby was delivered in the normal way, not via C-section.

3) The mother had no abortions or miscarriages prior to this birth.

4) The father of the baby is not a Kohen or a Levi, and the mother’s father is not a Kohen or a Levi.


5) Since the mitzvah applies to any son who “opens his mother’s womb,” a Pidyon Ha’Ben could also be required in the event of a father’s second marriage.

Note that if a child is exempt, there is no difference in his status. Even if a Pidyon HaBen is required but has not been done, the child’s “status” is unaffected – though the father and the child have a continuing obligation to do it.

If the above conditions apply, here is the Pidyon Ha’Ben procedure:

1) Find a Kohen with a very strong tradition in his family that he is indeed a Kohen.

2) Get five silver coins, containing approximately 110 grams of silver. Five U.S. silver dollars are often used, though the specific type of coins depends on where you are in the world. (One should use coins with the silver content of at least 5 of the traditional 90%-silver content US silver dollars. That could be five Israeli Pidyon HaBen coins, or US Silver Eagles which are .9999 pure silver.)


3) The Pidyon Ha’Ben ceremony is held when the baby is 31 days old. If the 31st day is Shabbat, the ceremony is held after Shabbat.

4) The ceremony is held in the context of a festive meal. To show love for the mitzvah, the baby is usually brought in on a silver tray decorated with jewelry.

The Kohen says: Either give your first-born or redeem him.

5) The actual ceremony is as follows: The father attests to the fact that this is indeed his first-born son. The Kohen then asks the father: “Which do you prefer, to give me your first born or to redeem him?” (It is really a rhetorical question, because the Torah requires the father to redeem the son.)

The father then says the following two blessings:

(1) Baruch ata Adonoy, Elo-heinu Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu bi’mitzvo-sav, vi’tzivanu al Pidyon ha’ben.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His mitzvot, and instructed us regarding the redemption of a son.

(2) Baruch ata Adonoy, Elo-heinu Melech ha’olam, Sheh-he-che-yanu vi-kee-yimanu Vi-hee-gee-yanu laz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

The father then gives the coins to the Kohen, who blesses the child, and recites a blessing over a cup of wine. The full text of the ceremony is printed in the siddur.


If your baby does not meet the conditions for having a Pidyon Ha’Ben, don’t be concerned – there is no defect in his status. In fact, only about 1-of-10 families ever meet all the conditions for Pidyon Ha’Ben.

Since the matter is fairly complex, it is recommended to consult with a rabbi or a kohen who is himself knowledgeable about Pidyon HaBen.

If someone was supposed to have a Pidyon Ha’Ben as a child, but never did (i.e. their parents neglected to do so), then the obligation is on the person to take care of it himself. In such a case, one should contact a rabbi ASAP to arrange the ceremony.

Moroccan Theme Bat Mitzvah Party

A Beautiful Bat Mitzvah with Middle Eastern Flair in Boston, MA!by Cygal

Middle Eastern & Moroccan Theme Bat Mitzvah Party

Bat mitzvah girl Lauren shares two of my favorite loves, so I was very excited to get this submission from Nathalya at NM Events and share it with you all!  Lauren and I are both inspired by the Middle Eastern culture, and share a love for the hamsa, as you can see from both of our logos!  And I am completely in awe of her photos and the story from her special day.

Photography by Dan Aguirre Photograpgy.

Moroccan Bat Mitzvah Entrance

Lauren’s bat mitzvah was December 8, 2012, the first night of Hanukkah!  The ceremony was held at the family’s synagogue in the morning with the bat  mitzvah party venue at a different local synagogue later that evening.  From Lauren’s Mom:  “The theme Lauren wanted was “Middle Eastern – Lite,” which meant that there would definitely be the lamps, the rugs, tents and Middle Eastern music but allow Lauren to have the American music she wanted and the type of food she wanted to have with her friends.”

Moroccan Middle Eastern Escort Card Table

The entrance way was lined with large Moroccan lamps.  “It was the intention that the theme be a generic Middle Eastern desert/Bedouin theme inspired from the parsha (Vayeshev) about Jacob, Joseph and his brothers in the desert that my daughter had read in synagogue that morning. However, I met a Moroccan gentleman with a business in my area designed to sell and consign Moroccan goods.  Using his items worked great!”

We totally agree!

Moroccan Lantern Centeprpieces


The principle colors were orange, red and green for the tablecloths.  The family wanted warm, inviting colors for the cool December evening.  The chiavari chairs were gold with an ivory cushion.  The glasses had gold rims.  Some tables had Moroccan lamps as centerpieces surrounded by small Moroccan tea glasses filled with orchids.  Other tables had tall centerpieces with red and orange orchids and willow branches. Then votives in Moroccan tea glasses were lit and surrounded the tall vases.

Moroccan Bat Mitzvah Party Theme Lanterns

The table numbers and seating cards were made to match the bronze/gold colors on the table.  A stamp with a henna-like motif was used to stamp the cards, which were then embossed  to give the stamp a raised effect. Purple up-lighting gave the room a fun yet elegant feel.

Middle Eastern Bat Mitzvah Food

The food was a blend of Middle Eastern inspired food, traditional Chanukah hors d’oevres, and a variety of different cuisines


Since the bat mitzvah fell on the first night of Chanukah, the family lit the candles on the menorah.

Bat Mitzvah Entertainment


Scotty from Northern Lights Entertainment did an amazing job of making every guest feel comfortable and energized.

Middle Eastern Music Bat Mitzvah

They also featured an Israeli/Arabic music segment, bringing nearly everyone to the dance floor to belly dance.

Father Daughter Dance

Bat Mitzvah Father Daughter Dance

Lauren and her dad Alan shared a special moment in their choreographed father-daughter dance.

Hora - Bat Mitzvah

The family enjoys getting lifted on chairs.

After giving speeches and reading poems, her friends gave her a beautiful thoughtful collage that they made.

Bat Mitzvah Cake

Moroccan Bat Mitzvah CakeThe dessert was a 4-tiered vanilla cake with each fondant tier decorated with a Middle-Eastern theme.  The cake was topped with a mosque top and a votive inside.

Bat Mitzvah Favors

Bat Mitzvah Favors Hamsa Pajama Pants

A hamsa logo was specially-created to put on the pajama pants given to Lauren’s friends. The hamsa also carried over to the sign-in board and the logo on the bottom of the photo booth strip guests posed for.

Mitzvah Project

Lauren’s bat mitzvah involved volunteering with the local organization Cradles to Crayons which distributes clothing, hygiene items, books and toys to underprivileged children from birth to age 16.  She and one of her classmates collaborated to hold a winter clothing drive asking for gently worn or new clothing, particularly winter coats.  Coats to Cradles to Crayons paralleled the Joseph’s multi-colored coat in her Torah reading.

Lauren also took the initiative to include her synagogue community in the drive as well as our local dry cleaners whose customers were cleaning out their closets. The project was an overwhelming success.  The entire family spent a Sunday morning at the organization sorting clothing, and helped 355 youngsters in a two-hour period.

Advice from Mom: Feeling a comfort level to discuss and brainstorm with one’s party planner was important to me.  It was also important that she shared my vision for an elegant, warm and inviting evening.


Mazel Tov to Lauren and her family!  Thanks to you and Nathalya from NM-Events for sharing your special and beautiful bat mitzvah day with us.


New York Jewish Parenting Guide- Bar & bat Mitzvah, Chanukah, moroccan decorations, jewish travel, photos, videos, hamsa, event planners, entertainment, invitations

Bat Mitzvah Theme: Morocco, Israel, Middle East, Hamsa

Colors: Orange, Red, Green, Gold, Purple

Vendor Credits:

Party Planner:  Nathalya Mamane, NM Events
Caterer:  Margery Gussak Catering
Entertainment:  Northern Lights Entertainment, Inc.
Moroccan Decorations:  Addi Ouadderrou, Moroccan Caravan
Florist: Teresa Fung, Mimosa
Invitations:  Toby Dondis, Toby Dondis, Ltd.
Reception Space:  Congregation Mishkan Tefila, Chestnut Hill, MA
Photography:  Dan Aguirre, Dan Aguirre Photography
Videography:  Mike Callahan, Black Tie Video – View Lauren’s Highlight Video

Hebrew Charter School Movement Shows Signs of Growth — and Growing Pains

With Schools in N.J., N.Y., Fla., Calif. and More on the Way –

By Andrew Brownstein


Less than a decade old, the nascent Hebrew charter school movement is experiencing growth and growing pains.

The most visible sign of the movement’s expansion is the appointment of Jon Rosenberg — an experienced civil rights attorney and not-for-profit manager — to be the first president and CEO of the Hebrew Charter School Center, a network of six schools that is headquartered in New York City. Lauded for his fundraising expertise, Rosenberg said his goals include opening more schools across the country.

“I want to chart an expansive vision of what this network of charter schools and the Hebrew charter school movement can do,” he told the Forward in a telephone interview.

Rosenberg replaces Aaron Listhaus, former chief academic officer of New York City’s charter school office, as head of the organization. Rosenberg will retain the title of executive director of the center, and he will focus on academic support for its schools.


The transfer of power underscores HCSC’s shifting priorities. While well known as an educator and as the leader of the center’s Hebrew immersion program, Listhaus has little experience raising funds. Rosenberg, by contrast, doesn’t even speak Hebrew. HCSC officials, however, noted that during his tenure as CEO of Repair the World, a national organization supporting Jewish service-learning programs, the organization’s budget nearly doubled, rising to $5.5 million from $3.1 million.

One HCSC official said Rosenberg’s appointment “represents the next phase of the organization.”

“It became clear that the lead professional of the center really needed to be someone with experience growing an organization and needed to have a different skillset,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “Jon is not an educator. He is by experience a lawyer and knows the charter school space very well. He’s really smart. He understands organizational growth, and he has experience raising money.”

That said, Rosenberg is no stranger to the world of education. He said the job “captures a lot of threads that are really important to me.” He worked as a senior civil rights attorney at the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration, and was deputy general counsel of Edison Schools Inc., one of the nation’s leading for-profit charter management companies.

He likes the racial, ethnic and economic diversity of the center’s schools — a makeup that matches what Rosenberg calls “my family narrative.”


“My wife and children are biracial, African American and Ashkenazi,” he said. “Being able to lead an effort where we develop schools that combine education about Israel and the culture and history of its immigrant communities, really stellar proficiency-based education in Hebrew in a diverse public school context, is just a home run.”

Rosenberg’s appointment comes on the heels of another recent announcement that raises the center’s national profile. Sara Berman, chair of HCSC’s board, was named to the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The center was founded in 2009 with the goal of creating 20 charter schools across the country. Two years earlier, the nation’s first Hebrew charter school was founded in Florida under the auspices of a separate organization, the National Ben Gamla Charter School Foundation. Ben Gamla operates four schools, all in Florida, though the foundation has plans to open schools in other states. The Florida schools are hugely popular and use lotteries to deal with the intense demand for places.

“We’ve tapped into a market that hadn’t really been discovered before,” said Sharon Miller, principal of Ben Gamla Hollywood, Fla., the nation’s first Hebrew charter school. “There’s certainly interest among families to have their children learn the Hebrew language in a secular environment, but at the same time explore their heritage and their roots.”

But, as both organizations have found, expansion sometimes brings growing pains. Over the summer of 2013, a Ben Gamla school in Clearwater, Fla., closed abruptly after the national organization withdrew support for it. The school performed well academically and had no apparent financial problems. The closing appears to stem from the view of Ben Gamla’s national leadership that the school’s local board in Clearwater had wrested too much control — a stance that some observers found to be ironic, since charter schools are designed to increase local governance. A writer for the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute called the episode a “study in bad charter school governance.”

“That school has not reopened, and that is a sadness for us,” Miller said. “But unfortunately, there were many things that happened there. It didn’t work. Sometimes that happens.”

The HCSC has not been immune from bad publicity. Last November, the center’s school in Brooklyn received an “F” in New York City’s annual grading of schools.

While calling the grade “concerning,” Rosenberg said it was a “dramatically incorrect overstatement in terms of the school’s overall performance.” He noted that the report card was based on the performance of just one cohort of students on the new assessments for the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

“The school’s overall performance would put it in the top third of elementary schools in the state,” he said. “None of this is to say that that school shouldn’t improve, and it will improve.”

Nonetheless, Rosenberg praised the high quality of the center’s offerings, indicating that his goal would be to move more of its schools from “good to great.”


As we start to perform as an excellent network of schools, then the case for growth becomes much clearer,” he said. “The case for opening more schools will make itself.”

Marya Levenson, director of Brandeis University’s education program, underscored that message. Brandeis, along with Vermont’s Middlebury College, had been working with the HCSC to help support Hebrew proficiency in its schools. But after one phase of the project was completed, a planned second phase was put on pause.

“There aren’t as many schools as they anticipated coming online,” Levenson said. “I think they are moving to add more schools, but to do it in a thoughtful way, where they are able to build good capacity.”

Rosenberg said that during his tenure at Edison, he learned many “hard lessons” about the perils of charter expansion. For example, the politics, rules and regulations surrounding charters vary widely from state to state. The HCSC currently has schools in New York, New Jersey, California and Washington, D.C., and is in discussions to open in other locations.

Expansion would also tax the center’s Hebrew language immersion experts — what Rosenberg calls “boots on the ground” — to train teachers and staff in the field. It is a costly proposition that will draw on his fundraising expertise.

“I’m mindful of the complexity of doing that in a variety of different locations — not daunted by it, but mindful,” he said.

Andrew Brownstein is an education journalist working in the Washington, D.C., area.

Jewish Humor Quiz

How much do you know about Jewish humor? MJL

Win Four Tickets to Gazillion Bubble Show – The Next Generation- 
Invite your 10 friends to LIKE US on Facebook ( email us their names at and with the quiz answers – – Winners will be notified–



Question 1. What was Mel Brooks’s first box office success?
 Robin Hood, Men in Tights
 Blazing Saddles
 History of the World, Part I
 Young Frankenstein
 To Be, or Not to Be

Question 2. What is Chelm?
 An approach to Jewish humor that is particularly cynical
 A mythical village populated, according to Jewish folklore, by fools
 A nickname that was given to particularly funny people in the shtetl
 A short film created by Jerry Seinfeld


Question 3. True or false: Fanny Brice, an early star of the Ziegfield Follies, only performed in Yiddish.


Question 4. Who was the Jewish cast member on All in the Family?
 Archie Bunker
 Stephanie Mills
 Edith Bunker


Question 5. Which of these comedians is NOT Jewish?
 Roseanne Barr
 Jerry Seinfeld
 Bob Newhart
 Jon Stewart


Question 6. “Hanukkah Harry,” “Jewess Jeans,” and “Jew, Not a Jew,” are sketches from what TV show?
 Caesar’s Hour
 Your Show of Shows
 National Lampoon Radio Hour
 Saturday Night Live
 Uncle Andy’s Funhouse


Question 7. What year did Seinfeld premiere?
 None of the above


Question 8. What were the names of the Three Stooges?
 Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
 Moe, Curly, Shemp
 Jerry, Kramer, George
 Groucho, Harpo, Chico
 Peter, Paul, Mary


Question 9. A comedy trend of the ’90s called “sick humor” owes its inspiration to whom?
 Stephen Colbert
 Lenny Bruce
 Mel Brooks
 Mort Stahl
 Jon Stewart


Question 10. Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning film Annie Hall focuses on what subject?
 Dating between Jews and non-Jews
 Civil unrest in America
 Jewish comedy in the shtetls


mh- New York Jewish Parenting