A Mother Goose Mitzva


On the patio behind my house in Lakewood, a terra cotta urn about three feet high and two feet in diameter and filled with dirt, was waiting for me to plant something in it. Shortly after Pesach, however, a Canadian goose took up residency in my urn. I called her my tenant.

People in my development hate the geese; they make a huge mess. Everyone was urging me to get rid of my goose. But I wondered if she would ever lay eggs, affording the opportunity of performing the mitzva of shilu’ach haken. I was willing to give her time.

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Taking the Plunge

swimming lessons

“Frankly, I’ve had it with swimming lessons,” an acquaintance of mine recently confessed. As a swim instructor, my interest was piqued by the frustration inherent in her proclamation. I requested that she elaborate, which she was happy to do.

“Last summer, I enrolled my children in swimming lessons, paid a hefty sum of money, and got myself into a carpool that wreaked havoc with my family’s schedule at the most inconvenient time of day. I’m not really sure my children made much progress; even if they had, it wouldn’t have justified the financial outlay, the elevated stress level, and the drain on my energy. The summer leaves me feeling frazzled enough without extra pressure! Maybe I’m a terrible mother, but I’m just not doing swimming lessons again this year,” she concluded with a sigh.

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Spring Planting Guide, Part 4 Setting out Your Plants & Seeds

vegetable gardening

May is here and slowly but surely the weather is turning warmer. Spring flowers are everywhere and trees have put out their buds and are showing their new spring coat of leaves. The grass has begun to grow once again (oh no, time to mow), and the wild spring onions have shot up, competing with the other unplanned growth as to who’s tallest. And when the ants appear on your kitchen windowsill, it’s a sure sign that all living things have come awake to take advantage of the warm and welcoming growing season. Deep within the gardener’s soul, the latent spark that has lain dormant during the cold winter months is also awakening. It’s time to get out into the garden and set out our plants and seeds.

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Ideas for Chol Hamoed Trips


This article was published in 2009, so before you leave the house check to make sure the information about the place you are going is the same.

Everyone agrees that one of the best things about Yom Tov is spending time with your family, including grandparents, cousins, and married children. Although most mothers would agree that if everyone else is happy, they will be happy too, it can be hard to think of activities that will please everyone, from toddlers to seniors – and especially teens!

One safe bet is a park. Being outside on a (hopefully) balmy April day is enjoyment enough for the adults. And for the children, many of the parks I reviewed feature special attractions. So look over this list of destinations. They may not be earthshakingly exciting, but when the sun is shining and you have good company, almost any activity is fun.*

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What Freedom Were We Given on Passover?

seder table

Rabbi Moshe Travitsky is the founder of the Bensalem Jewish Outreach Center outside Philadelphia and the Rosh Kollel of the Bensalem Community Kollel. For more information please visit: www.BensalemOutreach.org

Passover is the holiday of freedom. In the prayers of the holiday we call Passover zman chairusainu (the time of our freedom). In the maariv (evening) service that we say every night, we mention that Hashem took us out of Egypt at this time lchairus olam – for eternal freedom. This coming Monday night we will gather with family and friends, as we mark the most celebrated Jewish occasion of the year – the seder.  Yet, as thinking people, we have to ask ourselves, what does this message of freedom mean to me?  Certainly there are people in this world who are slaves, who are denied physical freedom – but there were Jews who celebrated a seder in the most challenging of circumstances – when they certainly had no freedom. What of those heroes and heroines who recited the Haggadah in the Nazi concentration camps? Were they celebrating freedom there?

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Dress Up Your Pesach Meals with Homemade Salad Dressings

salad dressing

I know you have a zillion things to do before Yom Tov, so how dare I write an article suggesting you make your own salad dressings?!

You’ll be happy to learn that making salad dressings is, in fact, a pretty quick and simple task. It doesn’t have to be daunting at all. Most can be made with just oil, vinegar, and dried spices, shaken vigorously in a glass or plastic bottle or container.

A blogger, who calls herself the Skinny Chef, writes that preparing delicious homemade salad dressings is one of the easiest tasks that beginning cooks can quickly master. Besides, think about the control you can have over the quality of your ingredients. (You knew this was coming, given my perspective as a holistic nutritionist.) As you may have noticed, many readymade Pesach products – such as mayonnaise, salad dressing, and sauces – contain cottonseed oil. This cheap oil is used to replace the kitnyios-based oil usually used during the year. But if you make your own, you can use extra virgin olive or walnut oil, as well as other quality ingredients, like apple cider vinegar (preferably organic, although that may be hard to find on Pesach), dried herbs, and even fresh vegetables or fruits. Your homemade pesachdik dressings will have no preservatives, no artificial ingredients, no added sugar, and no cottonseed oil.

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Pesach Memories

Pesach is a central theme of Judaism all around the world and the most beloved of Jewish holidays for Jewish families across the spectrum. As I spoke to relatives, friends, and members of the community from all over the world, I was amazed to hear how the same Yom Tov was celebrated in ways that were at once so different and so very much the same. Of course, some of the memories are all the more poignant because the places where the memories took place no longer exist as Jewish communities.

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Whats New in Healthcare from Different Sources 7

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And You Think YOU Have A Lot to Do Before Pesach?


 As I sit in my terrarium-like cubicle at Star-K Kosher Certification, trying to think how to best describe working here before Pesach, I can’t help but think of a beehive. Although the first Seder is just three weeks from tonight, and a lot of you are just now seriously cracking down on preparing for the “P-word” (with the exception of one fellow who came to sell us his chometz on February 18, because he was heading for Israel and staying through Pesach!), here at work, we have been preparing for Pesach 5774/2014 since a week after Pesach 5773/2013. And we will continue to help our Kashrus Hotline callers, emailers, and texters to the last minute possible, even past candle lighting (but before shkia, sunset) on the first Seder night.

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Labeling Others – and Ourselves!


I stumbled on the idea for this article while talking to a shadchan about a young man. The first question the shadchan asked me was, “Is he modern?” I was taken aback, because although I had described this young man in some detail, I had never thought to give him a label. Was he modern? Did modern mean a certain hashkafa and approach to Judaism? Or did it mean lackadaisical observance? I really did not know how to answer the shadchan, which is what brought me to explore the whole topic.

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