Monday, October 09, 2017

Ten new airplane travel gadgets for 2017, because you deserve to fly in comfort!

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Are you a frequent flier?  If you’re like me, you probably said you aren’t.

But don’t you deserve to be comfy anyway???

I’ve never thought of myself as a frequent flier.  Given that I’ve travelled exactly TWICE this year, probably nobody would.  But since moving to Israel, travel has definitely entered the picture in a bigger way than before. 

And really, does it matter how often you’re travelling?  Even travelling once, if it’s a 12-16 hour stretch like our trips back to Canada, is about 12-16 hours too much if you’re uncomfortable… am I right?

Here’s the secret airlines won’t tell you:  you DESERVE to be comfy.

I’m always fascinated by gadgets that have been created to try to make the journey more comfortable.  Here are ten travel accessory gadgets that may inspire you as you go wherever it is you find yourself on the face of this big, amazing globe:

1. The SOARIGAMI – armrest sharing device

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It looks like origami, or like some kind of airmail paper airplane.  But the SOARIGAMI is actually

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Sharing timeless Jewish messages through… silly animal stories???

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Are your kids bored with typical Jewish children’s books??

I know mine were!

That’s actually one of the main reasons I started writing books for Jewish kids.  I was sick of stories that simply repeat the basics:  “It’s Rosh Hashanah, we dip an apple.”  “It’s Sukkos, we sit in the sukkah.”  “It’s Chanukah, we light the menorah.” 

I was bored to death of these, and so were my kids, by the time they were two years old or so.  Plus – kids love to read about animals.  I really believe that animals can give us a lot of insight into ourselves and the things we do.

That’s how I got the idea for my first animal book – Penguin Rosh Hashanah.  I was sitting on a train wondering what to write for Rosh Hashanah, and I suddenly had the random thought, “Penguins.” 

Why penguins? 

Penguins, or any animal, really, are the exact opposite of Rosh Hashanah.  And I love it.  Loved the idea of finding connections and creating a very loose, light story which davka (specifically) didn’t tell kids what Rosh Hashanah was about… at least not directly.

What do penguins have in common with Rosh Hashanah? 

Well, quite a lot, actually.  They dress up, for one thing. They all look alike and travel in large groups, just like we do, dressed in white and hanging out in crowded shuls on Rosh Hashanah.  They literally step on each other’s toes, which I loved.

The whole project made me smile.

Since I wrote Penguin Rosh Hashanah, a few more animal Yom Tov stories have made me smile…

  • Panda Purim – What’s the connection?  Pandas are just silly, and like to hang out,

Sunday, October 01, 2017

What’s up with all the BOOTHS?

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(from the archives, a very basic introductory article about Sukkos that I hope you’ll enjoy and/or pass on to anyone else who might…)

If you live near a Jewish neighbourhood, drive through it one of these days, and you'll see us out in our yards and even parking lots, building what look like wooden storage sheds, decorated on top with tons of leafy branches, or with bamboo mats. What's up? Well, we're getting ready to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (literally, "booths").

Every fall, Jews all over the world gather to observe this feast, which originally lasted seven days, in accordance with to the Biblical verse "You shall dwell in booths seven days" (Leviticus 23:42). In most parts of the world, it's now celebrated for eight days, which is a good thing, because it's a fun holiday, following close on the heels of the more solemn High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur).

This year [2017 – I updated this], it's celebrated from sundown on Wednesday, October 4th until sunset on Thursday, October 12th (Friday, October 13th outside of Israel – meaning it runs straight into Shabbat).

During Sukkot,

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The book cover so evil I have been fuming for a year

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What do you think – am I overthinking this?

Before I tell you what this post is about, let me first say that I believe “over” thinking isn’t always a bad thing.  Given how many people in the world under think things, including certain book publishers, it’s a good thing some of us are thinking more than others…

I also want to admit that this wasn’t going to be a blog post.  There’s just too much at stake, I feel.  Too much emotionally riding on this.  Some of those near and dear to me has already heard my rant about this children’s book cover.  Some have agreed.  Some have just shrugged.

But last night, working on an essay about images of male Jews and masculinity in Judaism, it all just came out on paper and I figured once it’s out, I may as well share it here, too.

The book is called “What was the Holocaust?”.  Amazon says it’s published by Penguin Workshop and isn’t due out until June 2018, but that can’t be right because I first saw this a long time ago now.  I pointed it out to my husband in a bookstore in Toronto in July.  So it definitely already exists.

Here’s the cover:

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What’s your gut reaction to that picture?

Think I’m blowing things out of proportion?  (Um, like the illustrator obviosuly did with their heads?)

Now, before I tell you what I think, I will back up and point out

Monday, September 18, 2017

Crochet, hope, despair, and love – a tangled yarn

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"With colour A, chain 166."

There's so much despair in those words; so much hope.

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In case you’ve never crocheted, I’ll fill you in:  almost every blanket pattern starts the same way – by telling you to make a chain - a long, long, long chain, in this case, 166 stitches long.

(Unless it's the kind of blanket where you make squares and stitch them together, in which case what you have isn't a blanket pattern but a square patterns.)

You can't mess around with this chain, either, because it  will eventually be the width (or length) of your blanket.  So don't make those stitches too tight or you'll have a scrunched-up weeny blanket.  Or too loose, or you'll have a flopsy blanket with no structure.

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I never used to know anything about knitting or crocheting.  It’s possible, like most people I encounter, I assumed they were the same thing. 

Now I know that there are many differences.  If you want to know if a person is knitting or crocheting (at the very least, so you don't sound foolish), look at the number of sticks they're holding.  Two sticks (especially if they're pointy) is knitting.  One stick (especially if it has a hook at the end) is crocheting.

The word crochet comes from the French word for hook.  Okay, actually, it is the French word for hook.  The hook lets you pull the yarn through loops, essentially tying one bazillion little teeny knots.

This blanket I just started uses 7 balls of yarn, and each ball of yarn is 448 metres.  That's over

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Great things come in… twos! Two new books to greet 5778 from the world’s 41,526th best-loved author

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I confess, it’s been a rocky time, writing-wise.  Not that I’m not writing!  Actually, I’m writing more than ever, probably more than most writers do in a lifetime.  The problem is that most of it is your basic blah writing for clients, translating (from Hebrew to English), or essays for school.

(Did I mention I’m a full-time grad student???  More about that later…)

But somehow, despite having ZERO time to write the things I truly wish I was writing, I seem to have managed to finish not one but TWO book projects, and without further ado – I present… two gorgeous new books:

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  • Oma is 100:  "It's been almost a hundred years since Oma was born, but she doesn't want a party..."  When a young girl’s grandmother decides she's too old for  a birthday party, the simple act of crocheting a blanket teaches them both an important lesson about love, family, and belonging.  This isn’t specifically a Jewish book, in that there are no Hebrew words or references to Judaism – the message of honouring and learning from older relatives is one that resonates throughout every religion I know.  I feel very lucky to have found a terrific illustrator for this project, Lisa Larsen; she made it a pleasure to bring this story to life through its images.

Here are some pages from Oma is 100:

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