Bonding Soles, Bonding Souls


When I stepped inside the quaint, old-world shoe repair shop on Seven Mile Lane, close to Reisterstown Road, I was transported back several decades to my childhood in New Haven, Connecticut. The same ragged shoes and boots were piled high on a workbench, waiting to be rejuvenated; an array of shoe polish, creams, and sprays were lined up on a shelf; assorted shoe inserts, shoelaces, and men’s black rubber overshoes were prominently displayed; and key-making machines stood behind the counter. Even the earthy smell of leather was the same. The one difference was that this shoemaker also repairs watches and sells watch batteries!

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The Beautiful Life of Mrs. Esther Tendler, a”h

ner israel

by the Tendler Children

With the passing of Mrs. Esther Tendler, a”h, our family has lost our mother, mentor, and anchor. Our community has lost a role model, whose greatness was exceeded only by her humility and modesty. And all of klal Yisrael has lost a member who loved, respected, and saw potential in every Jew.

We cannot do justice to the nifteres, but we can attempt to glean lessons from a person who was such an inspiration to others, even as she herself remained in learning and growing “mode” all her life – and perhaps precisely because of this.

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Table for Two: A Kallah’s Cookbook

table for two

Full disclosure: I edited this cookbook a year ago for Israel Bookshop Publications. So when the Where What When asked me to review it, I jumped at the chance. This has become my newest go-to cookbook – in fact, I was printing the recipes from my computer long before I got the hard copy of the book! And every single one of them has been a winner: delicious and different but at the same time familiar and straightforward.

Rivka Parizad, a proud Baltimore resident (albeit transplanted from New York), has done a magnificent job with Table for Two, which covers all the basics: breakfast, lunch, and supper; meat, fish, and dairy mains; Shabbos meals and desserts. As she shares in her introduction, early in her married life she found herself serving as a resource to her friends as they transitioned to wifehood and faced the daunting question, “Help! Do I have to make dinner every night? How do I do that?” For young marrieds, who are used to Mommy making the food, being responsible for putting supper on the table every night can be quite an adjustment. As Rivka advised and coached, she gradually realized that a cookbook just for kallas would be an invaluable resource.

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Teaching Our Children to Guard Their Tongues

lashan harah

Every parent is horrified when his or her child says a bad word or speaks lashon hara. But before we run to get the soap, we should realize that children learn from a young age to repeat events, stories, and words they hear, and to report all the happenings in school. As the child gets older, he may not have developed the sensitivity to know when to guard his tongue and when to speak.

Since parents are obligated to teach their children that it’s forbidden to speak lashon hara, this education should begin as soon as the child reaches understanding. How can this be achieved?

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Does Your Plumber Know His Job?


We often take for granted that any professional who charges us money is appropriately trained, whether licensed or not. Perhaps we assume this because the plumbing field has been developing for over 700 years, and the licensing process looks almost the same as it did 200 years ago. But the plumber who walks in your door today may not be effectively trained, or may even do unsafe work. You probably won’t know it, though; most have learned to bluff through their work, and don’t believe they need to learn more.

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A Letter from a Bais Yaakov Student


Dear Freedman family,

Upon hearing of Rabbi Freedman’s passing, I felt a tremendous amount of sadness and pain. For you see, I didn’t just lose a principal, I lost a father.   Rabbi Freedman epitomized what it means to be the ultimate mechanech. A few years after I graduated from high school, I wrote him a letter and published an article (anonymously) in Horizons magazine expressing my hakaras hatov. I realized even then that my life had been changed by his approach to me.  Back then, I thought that what made Rabbi Freedman special was that he cared so much about each girl. In the early 1980s, a girl with my skills and abilities could have been considered a “dummy,” and it was Rabbi Freedman who insisted on educational testing and proper intervention to help me succeed in school, and ultimately in life.

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Banishing the Loneliness with Light: Chanukah Tips from a Single Mom


It was the end of a long day of work and childcare. My two kids, ages four and five, were finally asleep, and I had collapsed on the couch to read for a few minutes before tackling the laundry and the dishes.

Shivering, I pulled my sweater more closely around me; winter had just set in, and the world seemed a dark and dreary place just then.

But duty called. I dragged myself to my feet and headed towards the kitchen, passing my wall calendar on the way to the sink. Was there anything to look forward to over the next few weeks? The Yamim Tovim were over; it was a while till spring. But Chanukah was coming.

Chanukah. I paused. Two years post-divorce, I had passed the initial shock and grief stages of my marriage’s dissolution. But I hadn’t yet found the way to infuse my lonely, meaningless existence with a measure of joie de vivre. All my life, I’d learned about the importance of serving Hashem with joy. Right now, though, I wasn’t doing a very good job of it.

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Presents with Presence


Chanukah is upon us. And what does every child (and adult?) eagerly anticipate after the Maoz Tzur and the latkas and the dreidel – or maybe even before? Presents, of course.

Gift giving and getting is a beloved part of Chanukah. But it is more complicated than it seems. First of all, there are the decisions. Will you be distributing Chanukah gelt or gifts? One gift or one gift per night? Expensive or cheap? Practical “need” or superfluous “want”? Then there are the feelings. Are gifts a source of happiness or anxiety? I polled some of my fellow writers from around the world for their two cents. This is what they had to say:

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I Wanna Be A….


With mazel tovs abounding, the birth of a child is accompanied by a wide-range of emotions and expectations. If the child is a boy, the hopes that he might one day become a talmid chacham begin to form. That this adorable baby boy could one day be a light unto his nation is an aspiration that many parents secretly harbor. It seems that the only person who is not on board with these grandiose plans is the little boy himself. This lack of shared vision generally comes to light around the time when your three-year-old triumphantly announces his professional goal: to become a garbage man.

Once you get over the shock, you realize that it’s probably better, at least for now, if you jump on the bandwagon, (or, in this case, the back of the truck). Let’s face it, for a three-year-old, there is a lot more excitement associated with being a sanitation engineer than with the aforementioned “vision.” Being a garbage man tugs at his little heartstrings and sings to his soul on many levels.

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As Chanuka approaches each year, I think about how I have not made latkes since last Chanuka. (After eight days of them, when my tummy says, “Enough with the fried food,” I remember why.) The old recipe comprised of potatoes, eggs, salt, and pepper fried in oil is my favorite. But it is fun to try something new and different every once in a while. Dressing up the good old standard potato latkes with toppings is an interesting spin (ha!) on an old standby.

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