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  • Pokemon, Furbies and Millennnium Barbies

    ENCINO, Calif., Nov. 23 (JTA) — Does Chanukah make us happy? “Watching the candles burn makes me happy,” says my son Gabe, 12. “Especially on the last night.” “I like the story of the Maccabees,” says Danny, 8. “Getting eight presents makes me happy,” says Jeremy, 10, unabashedly. But according to the National Opinion Research…

  • The October dilemma: Should Jews trick or treat?

    ENCINO, Calif., Oct. 20 (JTA) — For me the October dilemma consists of finding Halloween candy to pass out to trick or treaters that I will not eat, no matter how desperate or distraught I become. For my children, the challenge is creating peer- and parent-approved costumes that will also work for Purim. But for…

  • FOCUS ON FAMILY Sukkot celebrates huts along with some hospitality

    ENCINO, Calif., Sept. 16 (JTA) — “You shall live in booths seven days in order that future generations may know I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 23:42-43) It’s not enough commemoration that for eight days of Pesach we eat matzah, which grows…

  • FOCUS ON FAMILY L.A. shooting, nothing new for Jews, compels us to do good and ‘choose life

    LOS ANGELES, Aug. 17 (JTA) — “I bet it’s a hate crime,” my son Jeremy, 10, said matter of factly, hours before Buford O’Neal Furrow’s identity and affiliation with the Aryan Nations supremacist group was reported by the media. He knew only that a gunman had opened fire inside the North Valley Jewish Community Center,…

  • HIGH HOLIDAY FEATURE Forget millennial resolutions: Here come the Jewish Days of Awe

    ENCINO, Calif., July 26 (JTA) — My husband, Larry, has already stocked the pantry with warehouse-sized quantities of peanut butter and protein bars, batteries and bottled water, crackers and Quaker Oats. A world-class worrier, he’s ready for the worst-case Y2K disaster scenario. For me, the millennium causes endless angst over New Year’s resolutions worthy of…

  • HIGH HOLIDAY FEATURE Forget millennial resolutions: Here come the Jewish Days of Awe

    ENCINO, Calif., July 26 (JTA) — My husband, Larry, has already stocked the pantry with warehouse-sized quantities of peanut butter and protein bars, batteries and bottled water, crackers and Quaker Oats. A world-class worrier, he’s ready for the worst-case Y2K disaster scenario. For me, the millennium causes endless angst over New Year’s resolutions worthy of…

  • FOCUS ON FAMILY Albert Einstein, Kafka and I.B. Singer: The argument for Jewish vegetarianism

    ENCINO, Calif., June 28 (JTA) — “If God had wanted us to be vegetarians, he wouldn’t have invented animals,” announces Zack, my 15-year-old carnivorous son. He turns the large steak sizzling on the outdoor barbecue for him and his brothers, Gabe, 12, and Jeremy, 10. My husband’s piece of fish is relegated to a far…

  • FOCUS ON FAMILY In time of violence and turmoil, Shavuot reminds us of vital rules

    ENCINO, Calif, May 10 (JTA) — “Oreos for breakfast,” Danny, my 8-year-old cookie monster, advocates. “No set bed time,” says Gabe, 12, the nocturnal son. “Mountain bike-riding in place of school,” adds Jeremy, 10, the future triathlete. These are my sons’ answers to the question I pose: If all rules were suspended, what would you…

  • FOCUS ON FAMILY Lesson of Warsaw Ghetto uprising: Jews must occasionally fight back

    ENCINO, Calif., April 6 (JTA) — “Hit him back!” my husband, Larry, and I occasionally advise our sons. “Really? Can I?” they answer incredulously. Yes. We do advocate that they fight back — rarely. When neither words nor whining, bribes nor threats, deter a brother, buddy or teammate’s aggressive behavior. When passivity and playing the…

  • FOCUS ON FAMILY Lesson of Warsaw Ghetto uprising: Jews must occasionally fight back

    ENCINO, Calif., April 6 (JTA) — “Hit him back!” my husband, Larry, and I occasionally advise our sons. “Really? Can I?” they answer incredulously. Yes. We do advocate that they fight back — rarely. When neither words nor whining, bribes nor threats, deter a brother, buddy or teammate’s aggressive behavior. When passivity and playing the…