Got Cookbooks?

Its getting to be that time of year again.
You know what I mean. Its not about buying notebooks or seeing warm woolies on store shelves. Im talking about major cooking marathons, filling your freezer with stacks of foil pans while peeling, slicing and dicing till your fingers are ready to fall off. Yup, the yomim tovim are coming, which means its time to dust off those family favorite recipes while searching out new and exciting items to add to your holiday menus. To the rescue come our good friends at Israel Bookshop and Feldheim with a pair of gorgeous new books, chock-full of stunning pictures and tempting recipes that are just waiting to be made.
First up, Kosher Classics by Gitta Bixenspanner. With an author who is a certified nutritionist and hails from Montreal, Kosher Classics starts the year off on the right foot, taking readers through a full years worth of health-conscious recipes. Kosher Classics starts with a Shabbos chapter and then goes through the months one by one beginning in September, with recipes that are matched either to a particular yom tov or season.
Since I am writing this column in August, I found myself starting at the last chapter of the book, which has a fascinating section on preserving those extra fruits and vegetables that seem to multiply with alarming frequency. Stock up on canning jars because you are going to find yourself making Hungarian pickles, pickled cucumbers and compote. Have an overabundance of tomatoes? Dry them in your oven and use them year-round in salads, pizzas, sauces and other dishes. But the most interesting recipe for me was one for cheese, made with milk that has started to go bad. I confess, as of this writing I havent tried this one yet, but next time I have a carton of milk that starts to smell funny I might just be tempted to make my own cheese. There is also a nice section here on cookies that you can make ahead and stash in your freezer, lightened up with trans fat-free margarine. Bixenspanner also includes a recipe for one of my go-to simcha recipes: praline cookies made out of graham crackers that are baked in a syrup of melted margarine and brown sugar and topped with melted chocolate. While Bixenspanner suggests cutting them into strips, I like to decorate mine with pearlized gold sugar and break them into irregular pieces for a really beautiful-looking (and super easy) praline bark.
Looking ahead to September, there is a great selection of intriguing lunches your kids might actually be willing to eat, recipes for some of the more commonly-eaten Rosh Hashanah simanim and a fun-looking chocolate spice cake that is a great way to use up the leftover bottle of Coke that has been sitting in your refrigerator all week. If you want to start cooking ahead for Sukkos, Kosher Classics has a particularly healthy Chol HaMoed menu and I am going to have to run out and buy hazelnuts because Bixenspanners soup with toasted hazelnuts, butternut squash, carrots and zucchini is definitely calling my name.
Be sure to check out Kosher Classics section on crock-pot cooking (November), melava malka recipes (January), shalosh seudos menus (June) and summer barbeque (July). An Israel Bookshop publication, Kosher Classics is full of year-round suggestions, advice and, of course, recipes that may soon become family favorites.
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Kosher Taste, an all-new cookbook by Amy Stopnicki, is my kind of cookbook it contains recipes for food that is yummy, pretty and easy, with an emphasis on easy. There are plenty of cookbooks that stress simplicity but all too often they are just, well, boring. I want recipes that are fun and intriguing, things that you look at and say, Oh my gosh, I have to make that, but have neither the patience, the interest, nor the desire to spend endless hours in the kitchen fussing over a million little details that need to be executed with military precision. Give me a book loaded with recipes that are tempting, yet not too complicated, and I am one happy camper.
Those of you who know me or follow me on Facebook know that I share my kitchen with my teenage daughter, a budding foodie. She read Kosher Taste before I did and, coming into my office, handed it to me saying, You are going to love this one.
Smart girl, that one. She was right. I do.
While Stopnicki compiled and edited the recently-published Gathered Around the Table, Kosher Taste is her first solo cookbook. From the opening pages it is obvious that she, like so many of us, is a busy individual who plans ahead for maximum efficiency. She shares with us healthy meal planning strategies, freezing and defrosting tips for a variety of items, a veggie grilling and roasting guide, three weeks of suggested menu, and a Pesach index.
Leafing through Kosher Taste to see how the recipes were divided, I find some of the usual entries. Soups and Salads. Sides. Mushrooms.
Wait did that say mushrooms? Yet another reason why I love Kosher Taste it has an entire chapter devoted to everyones favorite fungus. In no time at all, my mind raced ahead to the basket of fresh mushrooms in my refrigerator and I started planning my Shabbos menu in my head. (Bad idea, by the way. Always write your menus down because if you dont you will either forget to make something or neglect to serve something. Or both. Trust me.)
Anyway, back to the mushrooms. Should I make mushroom focaccia? Stuffed mushrooms? Balsamic mushroom and spinach salad? I add another item to tomorrows to-do list: go to Costco and buy more mushrooms, because there is no way I am going to be able to pick just one recipe.
Continuing on, there are sections for Fish & Dairy, Mains (with a very impressive 31 recipes) and Trendy Recipes, a fun section that ventures into slightly more exotic territory. Am I brave enough to try carrot and daikon salad or faux shrimp stir-fry? Possibly. The garlic tofu with pistachios looks like a great meat-free supper, one that I look forward to trying on some night when my husband isnt home for supper and it is just us tofu-loving girls at home.
And then, of course, there are the desserts. Tying the Mains section with 31 recipes, this is the chapter that most calls my name. Brownie mousse cake, reverse chocolate chip cookies and kitchen sink chocolate bark are all must-tries (surely you know by now that I adore all things chocolate). Rounding out Kosher Taste is a section called Odds & Ends, featuring chutneys, dressings, salsas and other yummies that are definitely worth a second look.
A Feldheim publication, Kosher Taste has more than 100 all-new recipes and is 300 pages of yum.
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Mushroom Chicken
Serves 6-8
Plan: The sauce for this chicken can be made and stored for later use. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to three months. The chicken can be grilled, if you prefer.

8 chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally
2 tbsp canola oil
Salt and pepper to season chicken
2 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, sliced
16 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and checked, sliced
cup soy sauce
cup white wine
2 tbsp flour
1 cup cold water
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350F.
Coat chicken with oil, salt and pepper.
Bake for 10 minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked through.
To prepare mushroom sauce, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
Saut onions until translucent.
Add mushrooms and saut for another 5 minutes.
Add soy sauce and wine, and let reduce for an additional 5 minutes.
Mix in flour and cold water, adding slowly to mushroom mixture in stages.
Mix continuously until sauce thickens. Pour over chicken.

Serve this for a weekday or Friday night dinner. Always add sauce directly before serving. It can also be served over your favorite steak or salmon.
Quoted with permission from Kosher Taste (distributed by Feldheim) by Amy Stopnicki.
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Elephant Garlic Soup
Dairy or Pareve
Serves 6-8

Elephant garlic falls somewhere between a leek and an onion. While not actually garlic, it gives a light, mild flavor that makes this soup perfect every time. This soup is delicious and creamy and may be made pareve by using soy milk or pareve cream. Freezes well.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
12 cups water
3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
8-10 cloves elephant garlic, peeled
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Green onions, cleaned and checked, chopped (for garnish)
Sour cream (for garnish)


In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add onion and cook until soft.
Add water, potatoes and garlic and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 hour, partially covered.
Blend soup with an immersion blender.
Combine flour and milk in a separate bowl and blend until smooth. Add to soup.
Season and continue cooking, partially covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

This soup is great served with chopped green onions or a dollop of sour cream. I like to serve it as a first course for Shavuos.
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Watermelon Ice Pops
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4-6

What can be better and healthier for everyone than real fruit on a stick? Kids will love the taste of these popsicles and you can dish them out freely knowing the ingredients are wholesome and healthy!

2 cups seedless watermelon chunks
5 tbsp lime juice or to taste
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar or to taste

You will also need
Popsicle molds

Blend all ingredients together until completely smooth. Taste and adjust flavors as needed. Strain through a sieve and pour into popsicle molds; insert handles. Freeze for 5 hours until set, preferably overnight.
To serve, run the molds quickly under warm water for 15 seconds and then gently twist the stick to release. Serve immediately. Teach your children to remember the golden rule: lick, dont chew!
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Savory Chicken and Apple Bake

This dish is delicious and very appropriate for the season. This recipe lends itself either to chicken pieces or chicken breasts. Choose whatever suits your taste.

4 tsp olive or canola oil
2 tart apples, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic (optional)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup apple juice
1 tbsp cider vinegar/lemon juice
1 tbsp cornstarch
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat.
Cook apples, onion and garlic for about 4 minutes until just tender but still a bit crisp. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the skillet. Braise chicken, turning once, for 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Reduce heat to medium-low.
Set 1 tablespoon apple juice aside and pour remaining juice into the skillet along with the cider vinegar or lemon juice. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.
With a slotted spoon, remove chicken to platter. Keep warm.
Combine cornstarch with reserved tablespoon of apple juice. Stir into skillet along with juice and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Return apple mixture to pan and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon apple mixture around cooked chicken
Note: For chicken pieces, follow the same instructions, but cook the chicken for 1 hour total until tender.

Cultures are not disposable garments – or at your disposal

I prefer markets over malls. I like knowing the woman who hand-crafted my bracelet or the man who lovingly constructed that shwarma for me (with extra hummus). Its more personal and satisfying. So its no surprise that I found myself at a little market over the weekend.
It was no different than any other market I had visited before. Its a mish mash of cultures from all over the world, borrowing a little bit from everybody to create the new cool.Whats not to love?
A little bit of Japanese zen, reiki healing and the Chinese yin yang motif, flowing dreamcatchers and colourful feather jewellery from the Native Americans, winding jewellery depicting the Middle Eastern hand of Fatima and the Turkish talisman the evil eye and of course bindis, Ayurvedic healing, intricate henna tattoos and yoga practice all from India.
This could have been an exercise in diversity except for the fact that all of this was being bought and sold by white people. The more I tried to ignore it, the more vexed I became.
I couldnt ignore the way cultural appropriation was breathing in the places that I loved and frequented. I was so angry that white people were allowed to buy and sell elements of other cultures: to profit from cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriation is a tricky thing because its steeped in power dynamics. It involves a dominant group (in this case, white people) exploiting the culture of less privileged and often marginalised groups, ignoring their context: be it traditions, history, or lived experience. Cultural appropriation highlights the power imbalances between those that are represented in the majority and those who have been historically marginalised.
Its inescapable with the Kardashians and Hadids wearing bantu knots and cornrows appropriating blackness or Katy Perry performing at the 2013 American Music Awards in yellowface.

People still dont get what cultural appropriation is Im tired
keyon (@kxyonn) January 22, 2017

Actor Jesse Williams called Hollywood out on its appropriation of blackness in his powerful speech at the BET awards last year.
Were done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil black gold ghettoising and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit, he said.
I wondered if the chatty white lady selling jewellery knew that the bindi in the centre of her forehead is a cultural symbol and mostly a signifier of marital status for Indian women. The bindi is placed in the centre on the forehead the third chakra which is the point of higher consciousness and hidden wisdom. It is not something cool that Vanessa Hudgens wears to Coachella.
I wondered if the guy on the lawn practising yoga knew that shouting, Namaste bitches after doing a handstand is offensive not only because Namaste is a sacred Sanskrit greeting but because he wasnt even trying to pronounce it properly. Also, bitches? Really, bro?
Perhaps the worst thing about cultural appropriation is the way it erases the meaning and cultural significance of an adornment or a practice and then profits from it. The privileged are allowed to borrow and normalise cultural elements of a group while that group is often demonised and excluded because of that very cultural element.

Ive been giffffffffffd lol | Full video here: #CulturalAppropriation
BD HBITS. (@BlvckNostalgia) January 25, 2017

The world is constructed on Eurocentric standards. When white women adorn their bodies with mehndhi thats the actual name for what you call henna, by the way or wear nose rings, they are edgy because theyre going against a Eurocentric norm.
But heres the thing. A culture is not an aesthetic. Its not something with which you can adorn yourself with and then remove to create or support your edgy/alternative/hippie/hipster persona. A culture is not a garment to be discarded. Its not a trend that comes in and out of fashion every season. Its certainly not a business opportunity for you to exploit at will. It is a lived reality, steeped in generational tradition and passed down for centuries. Its easy to play dress up with these identities by which you will never be burdened; to remain blissfully unaware of the origins of the cultural element and the struggles people who belong to that culture have experienced at the hands of Western society to keep it.
And I get it. Sometimes its unintentional. You want to wear something or do something because its exotic and pretty and trendy. Or because you feel like you somehow identify with it. You want to sell a product or the service for similar reasons. But you are not entitled to someones identity.
You feel that if white people wear our cultures, it will normalise them. But see, its not up to you to normalise our cultures, especially when you often misrepresent them by performing its stereotypes. Indian culture is not just cooking with garam masala, wearing a maang tikka, practising yoga and saying Namaslay. It would be better if you learned about or just respected our cultures instead.
Cultural appropriation is problematic for a number of reasons. Taking elements of a culture to sell or support your aesthetic without having the entire cultural experience (marginalisation and all) trivialises historical oppression that people of marginalised identities experienced. It perpetuates racist stereotypes without you having to deal with their consequences.

Cultural appropriation for dummies #blacktolive
Black To Live (@BlackToLive) January 27, 2017

Cultures are oftenmisrepresented in their appropriation. With cultural appropriation, the dominant group gets rewarded for or profits from something its creators never got credit for. Worse, sometimes the dominant group is comfortable appropriating elements of a marginalised identity but still harbours prejudice against that group itself.
I see you wearing a henna tattoo on your body at music festivals when, two days ago, you complained of the pungent aroma of the curry your Indian colleague brought for lunch.
Theres a difference between cultural appreciation or cultural exchange. Context matters; with cultural exchange there is a lack of power dynamics at play and its reciprocal. At the same time, its a free world (for some).Most people are free to express themselves in whichever way they desire. The marginalised do not have the institutional power to force the dominants to stop borrowing their culture. But why would you willingly wear something or sell something when you simply do not have the ability to maintain the sacredness of its tradition?
We have a long way to go in healing the oppression of the past through the present. Weve got to change the norms and standards that dehumanise, erase, and ostracise people of colour. Its important to be mindful and respectful of cultures that are not our own, to consider our contexts and our positionality.
It starts with little things. Call your friends out on their appropriation. Change the theme of your party because Mexican is not a party theme, its an entire cultural entity that is more than nachos, sombreros and tequila. Think twice before selling bikinis made of scraps of an old saree at a market, wearing a bindi to a festival, or posting a picture on Instagram that says Namastay in bed all day.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

5 Mindfulness Exercises to Reconnect with Intimacy

Get ready to get close.
All relationships go through their ups and downs, and sustaining the initial feelings of happiness you experienced as you were first falling in love isnt easy for most of us.
That said, there are certainly strategies you can practice in order to maintain both your own feelings of satisfaction and deepen your intimacy as a couple.
What is intimacy? Its a simple, yet complicated word to define.
In the most plain terms, intimacy means a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group, or a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.
Which is to saying that in order to experience meaningful intimacy in romantic relationships, you need to first gain detailed knowledge and a detailed understanding of both yourself and your significant other.
The 5 Stages of Intimacy (and Why You Need to Know Where You Are)
If common relationship issues such as fights, communication problems or anxiety are keeping you from having the kind of relationships you want, mindfulness exercises are a great way to find inner peace while also improving your emotional connection with your partner.
By doing some inner work and prioritizing self-care, youll better be able to identify whats negatively affecting your relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Set aside some time to try these five mindfulness exercises and experience for yourself how doing so deepens the intimacy and love you share with your partner.
1. Take a Moment to Pause.
This one is easy to say, but not always as easy to do. For example, if your boyfriend asks you question, you often think an immediate answer is required, but would you rather answer quickly or thoughtfully?
It is okay to ask for space, to say Give me a moment to think about that, or Can I get back to you tomorrow with an answer? I want to really put some thought into this.
Intense conversations are often like runaway trains, and many things can happen in the moment in unconscious ways. Slowing down your interaction with your partner will help you identify your triggers and bring more mindfulness and awareness to your responses.
2. Meditate.
Even if you already have a regular meditation practice, it may be time to delve into it on a deeper level. This has a wonderful spillover effect because of the neurological rewiring that can happen.
Research shows that our brains and neural networks can significantly change with meditation. This new neural programming can help calm down your limbic system (which governs our behavioral and emotional responses) and engage more of your own thought process, so you can respond to your partner more consciously.
3. Visualize Your Goals.
What would you like to see in your relationship? By visualizing ideal interactions, you can get deeper in touch with your own heart.
So ask yourself who you want to be in the relationship and how you can bring your best self to each of your interactions with your partner.
This exercise can help you get in touch with your own self and your loving intentions, akin to Michelle Obamas statement, When they go low, we go high.
For a happier relationship, its important to define yourself, rather than being in a reactive mode and allowing someone elses actions to dictate yours. Through visualization, you can creatively rehearse some possible responses youd feel good about.
4. Journal Your Experiences.
How many times have you said, I wish I would have
Journaling can be a productive exercise in reviewing and slowing down a past interaction in your relationship. Writing about what occurred allows you to review the scene, moment by moment, and ask yourself, What was happening for me at that moment?
Explore what it was you feeling and thinking, as well as what was going on in your body. These are all offer clues that can help you identify and release your triggers. And while it can take years for you to gain critical insight, slowing down an experience and journaling about it can help you identify the exact moment you shifted.
The more you journal, the more you increase your awareness. And with practice and review, you are much more likely to be aware in the present moment and stay centered, which can help you stay happy as you navigate hurdles in your relationship.
People in the Strongest Relationships Share These 5 Types of Intimacy
5. Learn to Recognize Transference.
Transference, according to, is the redirection of feelings and desires and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood toward a new object.
Simply put, someone might unconsciously remind you of someone else, and when that happens your negative feelings are triggered. Youre not actually angry at this person, but youre transferring your emotions onto them instead of the actual person who hurt you.
Transference can be subtle and difficult to detect. One hint that someone is experiencing this in relation to yourself is when, no matter what, nothing you do is ever right for the other person. You try to be nice, you try to avoid, you hold healthy boundaries, you get triggered and give as good as you get it all just feels really messy and bad.
It takes a highly evolved person to be able to recognize it in the moment, so be aware that your partner may be acting from a place of hurt, shame, abuse, abandonment, scorn or rejection.
Likewise, to avoid transference toward your partner, try to stay conscious, hold your own center and stay in your heart.
As a supplement to these mindfulness exercises, seek out the guidance of a qualified professional as needed.
These people are trained to offer you the kind of support you need, and to help you slow down, recognize what is going on, identify any transference and avoid feeling like a victim.
Once you learn how to find your own happiness and inner peace, youll have less difficulty navigating problems with with your boyfriend or girlfriend, leading to a healthier and happier future together.
This guest article originally appeared on 5 Psychological Mind Tricks That Deepen Love & Intimacy In Relationships.

Reflecting On the People In Your Life

Right now Im reading the book The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance and Happiness by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher. I came across a line that struck me:

We often are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
I know that others absolutely influence us. But Id never thought about it in terms of the average. What a powerful way to put it. And it certainly makes sense.
If you spend the most time with people who are consumed by calorie-counting and their appearance, youll probably start watching your food and nit-picking your body.
If you spend the most time with people who bash their bodies and themselves, youll probably start looking at yourself with disappointed, angry eyes.
If you spend the most time with people who consider themselves martyrs, youll probably start to feel selfish for practicing any kind of self-care.
If you spend the most time with people who dont respect your privacy, like to gossip and are very judgmental, youll probably feel alone and hesitate to open up to anyone. You may even view humanity with some suspicion and dread.
If you spend the most time with people who have zero boundaries and get upset when you set yours, you might find it hard to have a healthy relationship with both them and yourself.
If you spend the most time with people who have strong boundaries and treat themselves kindly, youll probably be inspired to do the same.
If you spend the most time with people who love to laugh, really listen to their loved ones and practice self-care, youll probably feel more fulfilled and energized yourself.
If you spend the most time with people who love you for the real you, you might be inspired to turn this love inward and start the process of loving yourself.
Its the same with the shows we watch, the books we read, the places we go, the things in our homes. We often are our environments. Thats why I suggest recycling diet books and health publications and creating a home that nourishes you and helps you feel good about yourself.
In The Power of No, James and Claudia suggest reflecting on the five people in your life with whom you spend the most time by considering these questions:

Who are five people you spend time with in your life that influence or inspire you? List these five people in your journal.
Can you trust these people?
Do you listen to them?
Can you be yourself around these people?
Do these people respect your need for boundaries and space?

The authors suggest making time to speak to these individuals, and listen to each other.
Consider, too, how these people influence you. Do you find yourself feeling good about yourself when youre around them? Do you have meaningful conversations? Do you enjoy their company? Do you feel nourished by them or depleted?
Do these people inspire you to take kinder care of yourself? Do they accept you for who you are? How do they seem to feel about their bodies? Do they comment on your body or physical appearance?
Again, the people we surround ourselves with have a big influence on how we see our bodies and ourselves. They can have a big influence on our actions.
Of course, this influence may be as complex as the people. But exploring this relationship unraveling its many layers is important. In fact, it can help you better understand yourself.

Overlooked and Undervalued? How Brokenness is the Prerequisite to Greatness

Title: Overlooked and Undervalued, But Not Forgotten
The Lesson: Everyone has their own specific pain that they have to deal with in their lives and while we may feel like its our job to get over that pain and be more perfect, that may not be the case.In this episode of the School of Greatness podcast, Pastor John Gray talks about what loving yourself has to do with loving others, living with yourself and your flaws, and reconciling with your pain.
Notable Excerpt:Even though hes not here, and he hasnt been here for 17 years, I still yearn for the approval of a father and so, it drives me. I want to do well. I want to do right and now this is the big challenge of my life: living a life feeling like an orphan, and now, the very thing that I need is the thing I am.
The Guest: Gray, who is the author of I Am Number 8, had to spend years coming to terms with the pain he felt over his father leaving his family. As he got older, however, he finally understood how his pain led him down his own path of greatness, humility, compassion, and empathy. Now, he is a pastor, a record producer, musician, and inspirational speaker.
The Host: After spending years of his young life and athletic career struggling with his own emotional wellbeing, a crippling injury left Lewis Howes without an identity and without any work. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, however, Howes recreated himself as a multi-million dollar media producer, motivational speaker, bestselling author, and podcast host. The ex-football player now spends his days chatting with the most inspirational icons of this generation on his School of Greatness podcast.
Podcast: The School of Greatness podcast is available for download on Soundcloud and iTunes. You can also watch footage of the interviews on Howess YouTube channel.
Books: Howes is the author of the New York Times bestselling book The School of Greatness: an in-depth collection of lessons and wisdom that he has gathered from interviewing hundreds of the worlds greatest role models and thinkers. Howess latest book, The Mask of Masculinity, is based on his experience with the dangerous stereotypes and expectations that are placed on men in modern society.
(LISTENto the inspiring talk below) Photo by MiiiSH, CC

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It’s Your Life

Do some of the messages you receive, in letters or on the Internet, make you feel uneasy?Promises are made that no one can guarantee:financial security, marriage, and other blessings that one person cannot bestow on another.
A parent once asked the Chofetz Chaim for a berachah: his children should grow up to be observant men and women.The Chofetz Chaim was taken aback:Do you think this can be accomplished with a blessing?Im devoting myself day and night to trying to raise my children well.Do you think a berachah will meet this challenge?
Life is full of challenges. But we cannot give ourselves over to another person, asking him to run our lives because we are afraid to decide on our own.
Rabbi Shabtai Sabato, the head of Yeshivat Netivot Yisrael in Israel, where his Torah lectures and writings are well known, spoke to his students about this fearfulness. During the summer the community had learned that a man who asserted that he knew Kabbalah had preyed on vulnerable women and destroyed their marriages.
Rav Sabato warned his talmidimagainst being too credulous, too quick to believe in fraudulent claims of esoteric knowledge.Fortunately a student took notes and posted them on the Internet in Hebrew.
Because the student quoted Rav Sabato saying I am speaking to you [the students] but this message must go out to the community, I have translated Rav Sabatos comments and enclosed them in quotation marks; I provide transitions between them.
The Torah forewarns us about the problem that besets us today:our community should not include those who use divinations, soothsayers, enchantersand necromancers (Deuteronomy 18:10,11).Despite this admonition, some of us fall under the spell of people who claim to have unique powers.They tell us they are permitted to do actions we suspect are forbidden; they persuade us to do these actions ourselves.They convince us they can bless or curse us.If we are vulnerable, we silence the inner voice that tells us this person is a fraud. We go along until the deception is revealed, and if we are among the victims, our lives are shattered.
First, Rav Sabato said, We must beware the phenomenon of admorut.The acronym stands for adoneinu moreinu ve-rabbeinu; he is using it to signify regarding a human being as ones master, teacher, and rabbi.He is not berating chassidim who use this term for their leader.He is critiquing the handing over of life-decisions to a person one venerates.He sees that this phenomenon causes a multitude of damages; to follow without questioning is dangerous.
Every person has a mind, understanding, and good intelligence.A person is measured according to his free will, taking his destiny into his own hands.We must use our free will; we cannot ask a rabbi to make our decisions.
The function of a rabbi is not to tell you what to do; the function of a rav is to give you the tools so that you will be independent and decide for yourselves.
Rav Sabato said this is how he functions in the rabbinate and in his yeshiva:I dont tell people what to do.I present both sides of an issue, and expect the inquirer to make his decision.I dont want to take away your instinct for choice.
I will add here two instances of roshei yeshiva who dealt with requests for advice in this way.A student came to Rav Avraham Yaakov Pam, ztl, with a question.On his first date he had met a wonderful young woman; each time they went out together, he became more convinced he wanted to marry her.His only question was whether he was being carried away by the novelty of beginning to date.She had met other young men and had a basis for comparison and contrast but did he know what he was doing?Should he go out with one or two other women, or should he trust his instinct that he wanted to marry this woman?Rav Pam said there were two ways to look at this:one, he should gain a bit of experience to be sure hes not being carried away by his first attempt at dating; two, he should be thankful that he was spared the uncertainty of calling Does she want to see me again? Does she want to proceed with this relationship? and thank Hashem that all went smoothly.
Which approach should I take? the student asked.
That you have to decide, Rav Pam answered.
When students asked Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, ztl, for advice on personal decisions, he recommended listing on a sheet of paper the positive and negative aspects of one alternative, then both aspects of the other alternative.The decision would become evident from the students own words. I saw this work when an extraordinary young woman consulted with my husband and me about her dilemma.She wanted to major in Jewish Studies and go on to a career in Jewish education, while her parents wanted her to have a more secure financial future by majoring in computer science.Because she wished to honor her parents, she did not know what to choose.
My husband recommended Rav Soloveitchiks approach.She called afterward to tell us the result.For Jewish Studies she had written many phrases about how meaningful this would be, the joy of learning, finding fulfillment in teaching, and more.For computer science she could think of one word: boring.She shared the results with her parents, who only wanted to protect her, and is enjoying a brilliant career as a Torah educator.
As Rav Sabato put it, A rav exists to teach Torah in the way of Hashem. He is not here to tell you whom to marry and the like.If you want to consult with him, it should just be a consultation, but you will make the decision according to your own weighing of the matter. When Im asked what to name a child, the first thing I ask is: What name do you want?If parents want to discuss the possibilities Ill point out the problem for example, if a name does not have happy associations in Tanach.But to start with calculations, different names, and such I am not so arrogant as to think that I know.
The people Rav Sabato worries about are those who are in distress because of an unhappy marriage, their parents divorce, or any other situation that makes a person vulnerable.He observes that A person who is in distress makes mistakes, and the biggest mistake is to entrust ones decisions into the hands of others.
Who is ready to take over another persons life?People who say they have ruach hakodesh, that they are filled with a holy spirit and have special knowledge of the Divine these are the people who are ready to take charge.Rav Sabato stated, There is not one person on earth who has ruach hakodesh.
He pointed out that in the summer of 2014, when Jews throughout the world were united in agony over the kidnapping of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, Hyd, there were those who said they knew through ruach hakodesh that the boys were alive and would be found in one place or another.When we had to face the reality that they had been murdered, was there any calling to account for misleading the community?
Rav Sabato also worries about the loose application of another term:any individual who wants to can call himself a mekubal, a mystic who knows Kabbalah. He asked rhetorically, What is a mekubal today? A person who can tell you how many children you have and what their names are thats a mekubal? Kabbalah is not a game.Dont rush to study Kabbalah. There are many dangers here.No one has permission to transgress halacha, Gods commandments, not even mekubalim!
Rav Sabato warned against segulot:omens, predictions, talismans all the nonsense that fills the newspapers; this is one of the causes of people stumbling.We have to beware of people who tell us they can give a blessing if we give them money, or who pour lead into water and say the shapes can predict the future, a scam that goes back to ancient Greece.
If one sees a rav doing something inappropriate, one must ask why. Is there fear of Hashem? The minute a person sees something out of order, he must ask.He cannot start trying to figure it out.He must act with respect and esteem.
One cannot excuse the wrongdoing and let it pass.Awe and love of Hashem together will prevent many downfalls, not only of students but of rabbis as well.This begins with people; if people will be attentive, rabbis will not fall.When things get revealed, ugly acts that were done in secret are stopped. This begins with people.Let us prevent downfalls.
Rav Sabato ended on a positive note:This generation is turning in the direction of love of God, and this is good.We must combine it with fear of God.
A Hebrew expression sums it up:Respect him and suspect him. Treat a person with appropriate honor but dont be overly trusting of him. Protect yourself its your life.

It’s Cuffing Season! Find Someone to Squeeze

It is officially cuffing season and love is in the air. Well, for some.
As the cold and gloomy weather is streaming in, the sunny single days filled with freedom, fun and parties are over. The sadness, loneliness and cold nights are now upon us.
With thetemperature dropping, it is mandatory for your health to have a designated cuddle buddy. Andeveryone wants some sort of affection during those gray rainydays to cuddle up with someone when it is cold outside.
For some, a cuddle buddy is not enough and instead, theymay want something more substantial.
This is the time to use the many benefits of cuffing season. Cuffing season is not just a way for people to use other people for warmth, it is also gateway to ignite possible relationships.
So, get out and go find yourself someone who doesnt just keep you warm at night, but someone who will make a great reliable partner.
There are some challenges for those who want to use cuffing season as a stepping stone for being in a relationship. Mercy Collegespopulation is 27 percent male and 73 percent female. If you are looking for a boyfriend, the choicesare slim. But, if you by chance are looking for a girlfriend, your options are overflowing with hope. Not to be discouraged for those of you who are looking for a boyfriend during this cuffing season, hes out there, even if its not in that 27 percent.
Having a partnerwho attends the same college as you has sparked various opinions in the Mercy College community.
Couples actually do exist at Mercy, asSerigne and Samiyyah are proof.They officially met at Mercy College at the Caribbean Student Association barbecue. PJ and Sammiyah started as friends with occasional flirting. They both knew therewere sparksand that they wanted to take their friendship to the next level.
The twostarted dating Sept. 22, 2015, asSerigne states, I loved her vibe. Wehad a connection that I really didnt feel with no other girl.
Samiyyah responded back, His personality is what attracted me from the start. He is thetype of person where you just want to be his best friend.
No matter what, hes always there for you.
Hope and Toni, another couple on campus havebeen dating since Jan. 31,2016. The twobegan their relationship as being friends first. Having mutual friends, theywould hang out numerous times before officially dating.
It was just the love. Once I finally took the chance, Iasked her out, Toni said, And she said yes.
On Sept. 19, 2015, Michelle and Parker began their loving relationship, as they call it.
These two love birds met at the business honors recruiting program in high school. They crossed each others path through mutual friends.
After the dinner, they exchanged phone numbers ad continued to talk for the remainder of the school year, and the summer before college. Once they started Mercy, they became instant friends.
Two weeks into the school year, they decided to evolve their friendship into a blossoming relationship.
The main question asked to people who are in relationships while being in college is, why? Why give up your freedom as a college student and decide to settle down at your prime?
The main response is normally thatrelationships begin as friendships. Friendship is key. Almostall successful relationships have begun as friendships.
Before settling down, you must get to know them as a friend. Cuffing season gives that opportunity for you to get to know each other. It is important to get to know someone for both of your sakes.
Friendship, you can find common interest, discover their sense of humor, and get a little background on them.
I didnt even view it as being in a romantic relationship in the beginning, sheis the best friend Ive ever had, Parker began to say. The best friend Ive ever had, its just now I get to kiss her whenever I want to.
Whenever I want to give my girlfriend a hi-five.
It is great to have someone who understands the difficultiesof being in school with the never ending homework assignments, projects and exams.
You have a lot of security because you know that at the end of the day, they are always going to be there, Michelle began saying about Parker. If youre having a hard time at school or if classes are stressing you out, they are always there to make you feel better.
AsSerigne chimes in, he adds, We do everything together.
Having someone who you can depend on is a great feeling. But thethought of knowing you have someone who is in your corner and who loves you unconditionally, is a greater feeling.
Like many thingsin life, there are some challenges when it comes to dating someone that goes the same college as you do.
Mercy College definitely has a small community within the campus. Thetotal of full time undergraduate population is about 5, 500 students. If you dorm, you are more than likely going to know majority of everyones faces who also dorm. For couples, this sometimes creates a problem with their relationship.
Everyone knows your business, Samiyyah said with ease.
Unfortunately, people in general who live in close proximity with each other tend to make themselves home in everyones business.
Privacy is an issue when you are dorming. We both have roommates, so it can be a tricky situation if we want alone time, says Michelle.
Balancing a relationship and also being in college can be tricky.
Having different schedules can sometimes strain the relationship. She is a science major and Im in liberal arts major, Hope began to say. I have more free time while she has to study a little bit more in depth.
The main reason one is here at Mercy College is to get an education; getting good grades while keeping your significant other happy can be difficult at times. The stresses of college can sometimes take a toll on relationships.
When one of us is stressed out from a class and the stresses from school, it strains the relationship, says Parker.
Before being cuffed, you may want to listen to some advice of people who are currently in relationships.
Do not make it your mission to find someone tomorrow. It may be hard for people to find a partner at Mercy, but there is only so much cuffing season can do.
Do not go searching, it will eventually come, said Serigne. If you by chance do have a potential cuffing candidate just take your time on getting to know them.
Michelle added, Dont force it, if it is not working out, you shouldnt have to put a ton of effort into it to feel like you are loved.
Honesty is key, so, if youre looking for a cuffing buddy, then make that known.
Maintaining a healthy relationship while being at Mercy includes multiple factors. If you and your cuffing buddy catch feelings and decide to make it official then you have to be prepared for being in a relationship during college.
Dont let your past experience stop you from the future, says Serigne.
Make sure to leave your baggage at the door while getting to know somebody. This is a new person and a new experience so enjoy it with an open mind.
Another tip is to communicate with each other. So many things can get lost in translation. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
To make your relationship last is to communicate no matter how much you may dont want to, says Samiyyah.
Michelles advice is to be understanding that you are both in college, At college, everyone is going to go out, people are going to go to parties, you cannot be really possessive, you cannot be worried about the other person, you have to trust them to take care of themselves.
Another piece of advice is to remember that you are two different people in one relationship.
Be individuals that are in a relationship, dont just be a relationship. Be happy with yourself, be happy with the other person and be happy together, says Parker
Lastly Hope advises, The best thing you can do is be respectful and communicate everything, because it is really easy to have misunderstandings, especially in college because things change, you are growing and changing as a person and that is what college is for, when you are in a relationship with someone it is very important that they know, whats going on in your mind and vice versa.
Having a relationship during college is not impossible. Make the most of your college experience while being at Mercy. Make new friends. If by chance you do find someone during cuffing season, try it out. Who knows? It could last the entire cuffing season, or it can blossom into a long lasting relationship.

University green lights rape talk: Famous vlogger to hold conversation with public Tuesday

From nipple clamps and rabbit vibrators to vagina hacks, like inserting garlic cloves into the vagina to combat yeast infections, Laci Greens vlogs have been watched over 100 million times on YouTube, and now the internet sensation is taking the show on the road.
Through her Sex Plus vlogs, a partnership with Planned Parenthood and as the host of Braless, MTVs first original YouTube channel, Green has amassed a social media following and a devout fandom she lovingly calls Babes.
Green started vlogging in response to what she believes is a nationwide failure of providing comprehensive sex education and to adopt healthy, realistic attitudes about sexuality, her website states.
NowGreen is bringing her Talking Down Rape Culture program to USI at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Carter Hall.
Junior social work major Danesha Shelton and senior psychology major Whitney Anderson said they found one of Greens videos through Upworthys Facebook page a popular social just page, Anderson said.
One day in July we were just looking at her videos and we kind of looked at each other and said, It would be really cool if she would come to our campus, she said.
The videos led them to her official website, and thats where Shelton saw it: a button that read Bring Laci to your school.
The random idea that started as a fun What If? scenario ended with Shelton filling out a contact information box on Greens website.
We werent really expecting anything, Anderson said.
Roughly two weeks later, Shelton got a reply.
Its kind of complicated because she was in the process of changing from a manager to signing with an agency, Anderson said. But one thing led to another and we kind of just ran with it.
Shelton and Anderson asked Tara Frank, assistant dean of students, if she would be their adviser on the project.
Now is the perfect time for Greens visit, the girls said.
When they got the response in early August from Greens team, Shelton said she knew the program was going to take place during the spring semester given the time it would take to work out the details of Greens visit.
We were like, Why not April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month? she said.
Piggy-backing off the annual Walk a Mile event was also a way of bringing more attention to the month, Anderson said.
Its something thats hardly ever talked about, she said. Throughout my four years here and (Sheltons) three years, we hardly ever had the talk of rape culture on campus outside of when it comes up in classes.
Rape culture is a relatively new term, Shelton said.
It encompasses everything that goes on around us, like the cat calling, the girls in videos, the language that we use and the victim blaming, she said. Why not now? USI is a relatively conservative campus, so we wanted to be able to educate our peers on something that is happening all around us.
Because rape culture affects everyone, organizers of Greens visit opened the program to the public.
I dont think this is a topic that can just be pigeonholed to college, Shelton said. Anybody who wants to hear this, needs to hear this, can hear this.
Carter Hallseats 500 people. Organizers have a back up room reserved if the Hall meets capacity.
Even though our campus is kind of reserved and conservative, Ive still been hearing a lot of buzz within different areas and organizations, Shelton said. We just want people to hear this talk. We want people to be educated on this.
Green, Anderson said, is the perfect person to educate the students on campus.
Shes educated, relatable because shes only 25, hip and she educates in a non-threatening way, she said.
She said she believes students on campus want to talk about the issue on a grand scale, its just that they dont know how.
It is a tough conversation to have, let alone get started, she said. (Green) can be that force that gets the conversation started.
Organizers said Greens program will be a conversation, not a lecture.
It can be somebodys helping hand, Shelton said. You can learn how to not be a bystander. Learn how to be proactive in talking down this culture instead of trying to normalize it where sexual assault is inevitable, because its not. Be educated. Help yourself. Inform your friends.
But the program isnt just directed at women.
A lot of guys dont want to be involved in this because they feel like theyre the target, like theyre the ones being blamed for this. Theyre not, Shelton said. We want their involvement just as much because this can affect them just as much.
One in four women and one in eight men will be affected by sexual assault in some shape or form in college alone, Anderson said.
Its not a like a man thing or a woman thing, she said. Its an everybody thing.
The program is sponsored by the Dean of Students Office, Student Government Association, Office of the Provost, Housing and Residence Life, the Counseling Center, the Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center, Student Development, National Residence Hall Honorary and the Albion Fellows Bacon Center.

‘Counting On’ Stars Jinger Duggar And Jeremy Vuolo Prove Once Again They Are #RelationshipGoals

Out of all the couples featured on TLCs Counting On, Jinger Duggar and Jeremy Vuolo are arguably the best and most perfect one of all. When they recently sat down for a segment with TLC, it was easy to see why, because the couple revealed a surprising detail about their sweet, loving relationship.
According to In Touch Weekly, Duggar and Vuolo admitted that after a year-and-a-half of marriage, they have never had a fight. And, when a fan asked if the couple had any words of wisdom to share, the 24-year-old gave some wise advice.
Just counting the other person more important than yourself, Duggar said. Instead of thinking, Oh, what can I get out the relationship. In any relationship, whether its with family, [a] friend, anybody instead of thinking of ourselves, like What can I get, just, How can I encourage this person, or How can I give?’
Vuolo agreed with his wife and said that people often ask him about his and Duggars first fight, or if they ever have fights. But he tells them that after two years of courting and marriage, there are no real blowouts to speak of.

A post shared by J I N G E R V U O L O (@jingervuolo) on Mar 25, 2018 at 9:16pm PDT

Duggar added that they might have a minor disagreement from time to time, but when that happens, they talk about it and think of the other person and what their view is. And, she says Vuolo has been a good example for her when it comes to seeing things from anothers perspective.
Vuolo and Duggar are expecting their first child this July, and the daddy-to-be is already getting some good hands-on training and sharpening his parenting skills by being an uncle to his plethora of nephews and nieces. And thanks to a recent pic he posted on Instagram, he appears to have a close relationship with Jessa Duggars 2-year-old son Spurgeon.
In the photo, Vuolo is sitting on a stool during a casual Saturday morning, and Spurgeon is right next to him in a tiny chair. Vuolos little buddy is all smiles as he poses with his uncle.

Just a casual Saturday morning hanging with my little buddy
A post shared by J E R E M Y V U O L O (@jeremy_vuolo) on Mar 31, 2018 at 8:20am PDT

Fans immediately flooded the comments of the 30-year-olds Instagram and couldnt stop gushing over their sweet relationship and how cute the two looked.
Duggar and Vuolo took a weekend trip from Laredo, Texas, to Tontitown, Arkansas to visit her family, and on the way, they made a quick stop at The Silos in Waco to get a treat at the Magnolia Market, which is owned by Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines.

|| M A G N O L I A B A K I N G CO ||carrot cake cupcake
A post shared by J I N G E R V U O L O (@jingervuolo) on Mar 29, 2018 at 4:30pm PDT

While at the market, Duggar let herself indulge in a pregnancy craving, and enjoyed a carrot cake cupcake from the bakery.
Jinger Duggar and Jeremy Vuolo will return with new episodes of Counting On later this summer.

Bernice Burgos Unveils The Reason Behind Her Naturally Thick And Beautiful Hair – Check It Out For Yourself

Everyone lovesBernice Burgos amazing figure and her gorgeous looks. Even if she does wear all kinds of wigs, she is also proud of her natural hair and shes telling her fans all about her little secret. Check out one of her latest posts on her Instagram account.
Ive been using @hairfinity for a while, and Im loving the difference Im seeing! My natural hair is so much thicker! she captioned her photo in which she can be seen holding a little bottle of the product in her hand.
We must admit that she does have a lovely hair and good enough reasons to brag about it.
Her fans and followers gushed over her looks and the product as well. One of them wrote that Your edges are laying there!!! Tame, sleek, and gorgeous! Hairfinity is the best!
More followers praised her and posted lots of messages just like they usually do.

I’ve been using @hairfinity for a while and I’m loving the difference I’m seeing! My natural hair is so much thicker!
A post shared by (@realberniceburgos) on Feb 24, 2018 at 12:02pm PST

Bernice is known for advertising all kinds of products for hair, face, and body and this is one of her primary sources of income as you probably know,
The Instagram model recently became a grandmother as her daughter Ashely Burgos gave birth to her fort baby.
Tips ex alleged fling is dating his pal, Quavo and this appears to put Tinys worries to rest.
Latest reports state that Bernice starting dating Quavo from Migos and a source who knows more details on the situation has discussed the issue with Hollywood Life saying thatTalking about Bernice hooking up with Quavo has brought T.I. and Tiny closer together as a couple.
The same insider related that Just knowing that Bernice dates Quavo has allowed Tiny to feel more secure with T.I.