Monday, January 18, 2016

We Are Bound, And We Are Bound

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.)[1] is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
"Ronald Reagan Martin Luther King Day signing"
by White House Photographic Office - Flickr Commons.
King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
-Source: Wikipedia

This year I was especially thrilled to see a musical tribute to the late Dr. King created by two well-known a capella groups - The Maccabeats and Naturally 7.

America desperately needs to re-calibrate its commitment to the safety and well-being of African American communities around the country.  Black lives matter.  It's not just a hashtag.  I am so grateful to the Maccabeats for showing the world that Jews care about our black neighbors.  If you are inspired as well, make sure to take the next step and *do* something to contribute to the racial harmony and welfare within your own community.

Please enjoy the video by clicking below.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rebbetzin Tap on Rosh Hashana

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I Live With My Mommy

New Jewish Picture Book Addresses Life With a Single Mother

April 28, 2014 

The interview appears below with permission of its author, Rebecca Klempner.

Today, I’d like to share with you this interview with Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein, the author of the upcoming picture book I Live With My Mommy. This new, groundbreaking picture book for the first time focuses on growing up in a single-parent, Orthodox Jewish home. I learned about the book through its illustrator, the gifted Dena Ackerman, and upon my request, she hooked me up with Tzvia for a bit of Q & A via email.

RK: What led you to write about children living with a single mother?

TEK: Over 30 years ago I got divorced. At that time it was — or at least seemed to be — very rare [in the Orthodox community]. Walking my (approximately) 4-year-old daughter home from gan (nursery school) with her friend, I overheard her explaining to her friend: “No, my abba (daddy) didn’t die. They got ‘vorced.”

As I couldn’t find any books for children on being [at home with a parent who was] divorced, I wrote my own to read to her.

RK: So, do you feel the audience is primarily single-parent families, or do you feel this book will appeal to other children, whose playmates and classmates may include children living with only their mother?

TEK: I assume single-parents will primarily buy the book, though I hope that their friends and neighbors will also do so as it is really important for them to understand, and thus be able to relate to, the feelings, insecurities, and the daily reality of both the parent and the children living in a single-parent home. I don’t know if the book will particularly “appeal” to two-parent families, but I think it’s important that they read it — both for the parents themselves and for their children.

RK: Did you have to overcome any obstacles when submitting this book to a publisher? For example, were there sensitive issues you had to navigate? Did you get rejection letters before landing with Menucha Publishers?

TEK: Every few years I would try sending it to various frum (Orthodox) publishers. No one would touch it (just as no one would publish I Thought It Would Be Different, written together with Miriam Adahan and showing the different types of abusive relationships and how to deal with each).

About 25 years ago I was visiting my father, z”l, in the USA and showed it to a famous non-frum publishing house. The editor said it was very powerful and that I should add a little boy, which would make sales easier, but that it wasn’t appropriate for their house. So it stayed in the filing cabinet for a few more years. B”H I recently sent it to Menucha [Publishers], and they accepted it!! They did ask for an additional “Jewish” situation, which I immediately sent them, and the pictures they added at the end changed the ending to make it happier (I had the little girl sitting on a big rock with a dolly drooping from her hand, with the little boy standing nearby).

RK: Have you received any feedback from single moms or the children living with them?

TEK: No feedback as it hasn’t been published yet.

RK: …but it sounds like you did test it out on your own before sending out the original version for submission. If that’s the case, how did they react?

TEK: I only have one child. She heard the story and that was it. B”H, I invested a lot in making her feel secure and okay with the divorce — to the point of having her call her father every erev Shabbos — so I don’t think it was ever really a “thing” if you know what I mean. I think that because I was raised with so much love and acceptance, I was able to pass some of it on to her, BE”H. I was an only child, raised by my father as my mother died when I was 5 1/2.

RK: What surprised you most about the process of publishing a picture book?

TEK: How much the pictures can alter the text of a story.

RK: Have you seen Dena’s illustrations yet? (I saw a little preview of a couple pages, and they’re gorgeous.) 

TEK: I saw an example before she was chosen, and the pictures before it went into final production, B”H.

RK: Do you have a favorite image?

TEK: My favorites are the pictures of the children making Shabbos in the gan.

RK: Do you have any other writing projects in the works?

TEK: Yes, I’m working on two. An historical novel showing the beginnings of the Holocaust, and that it can happen again, and a collection of articles I wrote for The London Jewish Tribune and the Israeli-European Yated Neeman.
Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein is a prolific editor and writer. Her work includes: To Dwell In The Palace, Readings on EretzYisroel, [ed.], Feldheim Publishers (1991); On Bus Drivers, Dreidels and Orange Juice, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem (2000); and On Cab Drivers, Shopkeepers, and Strangers, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem (2002).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

2014 Torah Home Education Conference

The 5th Annual Torah Home Education Conference will take place, G-d willing, on Sunday, May 25, 2014.  This year's location is the Moriah School of Englewood, NJ - next to Teaneck and just 10 minutes from NYC!

The conference opens with check-in at 8:15 a.m. with complimentary morning refreshments and concludes at 6:00 PM.   

A kosher catered lunch will be served. The cost is $15 per meal and can be purchased along with your registration.

Vendors will be on hand to display and sell the materials they've created to enhance your Torah homeschooling experience. It will be possible to visit these vendors from the lunch period through the end of the day. 

Our confirmed speakers are Avivah Werner, Nechama Cox, Leah Fine, Dena Schweitzer, Chai Gross, and many, many others.  We will have sessions on:

  • Hebrew for the Homeschooling Parent
  • High School/College/Yeshiva/Seminary preparation
  • Home with a Pre-schooler?
  • Homeschooling your Child with Special Needs
  • Schedules and your Homeschool
  • Teen Panel
  • The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:  What Happens When It Doesn't Go as Planned!?
  • Talks by homeschooling fathers and communal rabbis.

Tentative Schedule:

8:15   Registration
9:00   Opening remarks--Yael Aldrich
9:15   Keynote speaker--Nechama Cox
10:05 Session one--Aviva Werner "Maintaining Energy in Family Life"
           Session two--Rabbi Yehudah Prero "How to Teach Hebrew Reading/Chumash/Gemara"
10:55 Session one--Yael Resnick  "Raise your FLAG:  How to Help Kids Reach their Potential with Focused Learning and Achievement Goals"
           Session two--Marie Beth Rosenthal "Finding Your Homeschooling Kodesh Style"
11:45 Session one--Chai Gross "The Work-Box System: Cornerstone of a Self-Propelled School Day"
           Session two-- Gaby Neuberger "Technology and Your Homeschool"
12:35 Lunch
1:45  Teenage panel--Toyam and Hadassah Cox, Sarah Fischbein
2:35  Panel one--Goldy Landau, Debbie Cohen, Leah Samuels "Homeschooling a Child with Special needs"
          Panel two--Rabbi Ovadiah "A Rabbinical Look at Homeschooling"
3:25  Session one--A Homeschooling Husbands' Perspective
          Session two--Leah Fine "Interdisciplinary Child-Led Learning"
4:15  Session one--Dena Schweitzer "How to Prepare for High School/College/Seminary"  
          Session two--Ilana Masri and Carmiya Weinreb "Through Their Eyes: Homeschooling the Preschool Years"
         Session three--Yehudis Eagle "Middle Schoolers"
5:05  Panel--Marie Beth Rosenthal, Evelyn Krieger, Yehudis Eagle "The Experts: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly"
5:40  Closing Remarks-- Yael Aldrich

Speaker Bios:
Chai Gross, CLC, lives in Jacksonville, FL with her husband and four children.  Chai homeschools her three boys (ages 8,7,and 6) and her three year old daughter attends preschool at Torah Academy of Jacksonville.  Chai grew up in Israel, attended Bruriah High School in Elizabeth, NJ, and graduated from Stern College for Women with a degree in fine arts.  She is a certified life coach and a founding member of MCAA, a support group for mothers of children with ADD/ADHD.

Ilana Masri received her B.A. in Psychology from Boston University and her masters in Speech-Language Pathology from CUNY Brooklyn College.  She currently works as a part time speech therapist  while home educating her three children in Brooklyn, NY.  Homeschooling her preschoolers has provided her family the opportunity to slow down, appreciate their times together, and strengthen their family bond.

Carmiya Weinraub is the current leader for the Tot Shabbat program at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (HIR) for children age six months  to three years.  She has been leading this weekly program since August 2009.  She has co-led a weekly toddler and caregiver program for ages 15 to 36 months.  She also developed a weekly tefillah program for homeschooling families.  She holds a Master of Arts in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Master of Social Work from Columbia University.  She is unschooling her four kids (6, 4, 2, and 3 months).  To listen to clips from her Tot Shabbat album, please visit  (all proceeds benefit the youth Department of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale).

Avivah Werner is an inspiration to Jewish homeschoolers, having created J-LIFT, Baltimore's online Jewish home education support network as well as the Torah Home Education conference.  A wife and mother of ten children (ka"h) ages 1-20, many of whom are currently homeschooling, Avivah lived in Baltimore for many years and recently made aliyah.  Her blog,, is a resource for both general parenting as well as homeschooling advice.  It displays Avivah's keen insight into the needs of each of her children as an individual as well as the needs of her family as a whole.  In her talk, Creating an Abundant Life, Avivah will address the factors that drain the energy and passion from a family and how revitalization can be achieved.   

More Bios soon...

Topics and Panels:

The Work-Box System: Cornerstone of the Self-Propelled School Day (Chai Gross)
When people hear that I homeschool, they often wonder how I do it all.  How do I teach multiple ages, juggle multiple curricula, and still have time for the rest of life?  What about when one child has special needs?  Come join me as we discuss full day scheduling and the Work-Box System, techniques designed to capitalize on the homeschool environment and maximize the degree to which our children can engage in self-propelled learning.  Full day scheduling unlocks us from the limitations of traditional school-day thinking.  The Work-Box System provides a healthy balance between self-guided learning and pre-conceived structure in a format that allows parents the space to attend to the rest of life.  Children can thrive with the Work-Box System even if self-guided learning does not come naturally to them.

Through their Eyes:  Homeschooling the Preschool Years (Ilana Masri and Carmiya Weinraub)
The preschool years are full of wonder and discovery.  This workshop will explore ways to foster a love of learning in our children through play, art, music, literature, field trips, Torah and much more.  Discover creative ways to incorporate learning in everyday activities and a variety of approaches  you can implement in your home.

Check back soon for more...

Special thanks to:  Gaby N., Debbie C., Rea B., Sophie T., Ilana M., Rochelle K., Sara R., Yehudis E., Dalia S., Tsippy S., Ilana G., Devoiry, Karen Z., Noa B., Dena S., Rachel L., Channa Leah S., Arielle S., Kim Z., Rivkah H., and everyone else who has helped with the conference so far!

We have arranged childcare for children of parents attending the conference onsite.  Lunch, snacks, cuddles and a whole day of fun will be provided at the reasonable rates below.
First/One Child (ka"h):  $55
Second Child (ka"h):  $35 
Third (or more ka"h) Children:  $20 EACH CHILD
So, if you have four children coming to the conference, you'd pay $55+$35+$20+$20=$130 for childcare for your children.

Deadline for childcare registration is Sunday, May 4, 2014.
Childcare fees are non-refundable.

Childcare is for children up to age 11.  If you have children ages 12-15 that you plan to bring to the conference, please let us know and if there is sufficient interest, we may be able to arrange a trip for this age group.  Children who are 16 and older are welcome to register and attend the conference for free again this year. 

Please check back for location and more information!  Email for more information.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chodesh Tov

In Parshas Bo, the Jewish People receive their first mitzvah from Hashem: to declare Rosh Chodesh each month and to establish a calendar based on the cycle of the moon.  

What a wonderful opportunity to explore our closest planetary neighbor from both Jewish and scientific angles.  Please enjoy the printable downloads and video I have posted below.

CLICK HERE to download a Phases of the Moon poster set.

CLICK HERE to download a blank Moon Observation Sheet.

CLICK HERE for a delicious astronomy lesson using cream cookie moons.

Visit Jewish.TV for more Jewish videos.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Melody of Love - "Pieces" CD Giveaway!

A couple of months ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to take my daughter Sheliya to New York to celebrate her bat mitzvah.  She had decided to forgo a party or Kiddush in shul in favor of a mother-daughter trip.  We stayed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with dear family friends.  On the morning of her birthday, we had the zechus (merit) to travel to the Ohel (resting place) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, obm.  She wrote a pan (pidyon nefesh) outlining her goals and hopes as a newly minted bat mitzvah girl.  The pan also includes personal requests for blessings.  I was so proud and happy standing by her side in such a holy place, admiring my daughter who had grown from a baby into a lovely young lady in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

Aside from the obvious appeal of a trip to New York – kosher restaurants, Jewish shops, sight-seeing – the trip was especially meaningful for another reason.  It was a chance for us to spend some time with Lubavitch women whom I greatly admire and see as role models for both myself and my daughter.  Little did I know that we would quickly (on the very day of our arrival) meet an immensely talented female song-writer, singer, and teacher named Sara Hecht.  It wasn’t too long before we were privileged to enter her world of music and inspiration.

Our hostess is a close friend of Sara’s and was one of a lucky few to have an advance-copy of Sara’s CD, “Pieces.”  The music was soaring through the apartment when we arrived from the airport.  My daughter’s immediate reaction was one of joy and curiosity.  “Who is this great singer?” she asked.  Well we were about to find out in person.  After a quick phone call made by our hostess, we were on our way to Sara’s apartment just a few blocks away.  She welcomed us inside and we sat around a small table to hear about the work and dedication that was finally bearing fruit with the production and release of her debut CD.  

It had been a six-year journey bringing the songs to life and getting them into professional production.  Sara had the privilege to work with professional musicians, arrangers, and producers from around the globe.  She detailed to us how each of the tracks was recorded and laid down in various studios and how the cover was designed to inspire and uplift.  Perhaps the most impressive part was hearing about her dedication to halacha every step of the way and her frequent consulting with others on matters of hashkafa related to her music.

I could see from the expression on my daughter’s face that she was living out a dream - sitting across from a bubbly and talented Jewish singer sharing her artistic life with us.  Sara offered to take some pictures with Sheliya and sent her off with an autographed CD.  And the fun continued several days later when we were invited back to the release party!

So why, you might be asking, is this appearing on a homeschooling blog?  What does this have to do with Judaism and education?  Well… absolutely everything.

Jewish wisdom tells us that, “words from the heart enter the heart.”  Children are innately attuned to sincerity.  There is no better way to communicate and implant the love of Torah and practice of mitzvot than from a pleasant and admired source.  This heartfelt, impromptu meeting with Sara provided exposure to a multitude of ideas that I value as a parent: inspiration, determination, financial responsibility, creativity, halachic adherence, business acumen and more.  The very fact that Sara had immediately opened her home and heart to total strangers – that she understood the soul of a young girl on the cusp of adulthood – showed my daughter how sincerity and generosity can unexpectedly brighten another person’s day.

From an artistic perspective, the songs on this CD are perfect for girls and women who appreciate musical diversity and lyrical creativity.  Guitars and pianos soar behind Sara’s voice as she praises Hashem for His daily divine assistance; extols the bravery and mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice)of Chana and her seven sons; and recalls a special bus driver in Israel who shared his wisdom along the way.

So what could be a more perfect way to share my love for this woman and her talent than to do a giveaway of her debut CD?  Here are the rules:
  1. Open to U.S. residents only.
  2. Please go to Sara’s Facebook page and give it a like -
  3. Then come back here to my website and leave a comment on this post that you have visited and liked Sara’s page.
  4. Your like on her page and comment on this post will be your entry into the giveaway.
  5. The giveaway will last from December 12, 2013 through midnight of December 19, 2013.
  6. The winner will be selected and posted on Friday, December 20, 2013.
  7. The winner will receive a copy of Sara’s CD in the mail.

PS - if you want to buy the album, look for it in your local Judaica stores, online at, or download via iTunes.  You can also sample track previews at the artist’s website

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thank You JN1.TV

I am so honored and humbled to share this video with all of you.  Thank you to the fabulous interviewing team for bringing our story of Jewish homeschooling to life!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thank You Intermountain Jewish News

A few years back, when Nachshon and Shoshana Zohari made their first tentative steps to educate their children by themselves, they weren’t entirely sure how to go about it.

They had researched the practice known as “homeschooling,” but there were still a number of unanswered questions.  After all, both parents had themselves been educated in standard classrooms in everyday schools.

“We didn’t have any other model,” says Shoshana, a stay-at-home mom who considers being her kids’ primary teacher a fulltime career.

“We had to de-school ourselves to some degree.  We wondered, what is homeschooling going to look like?”

At first, when they began instructing their oldest son, Avraham, they opted for a method that more or less simulated an ordinary school routine.

“We even had a phase where I’d stand in the kitchen, he’d put on his little backpack by the front door and he’d say ‘Bye Mommy.’

“You don’t know what to do.  You want it to be official.  You don’t want your kids to feel like they’re missing anything.

“A lot of people start out that way and then loosen up.  You move into a much more organic mode.”

That is certainly evident in the Zohari home today, a Southeast Denver condo whose living room is dominated by a large, classroom-style flat table, surrounded by shelves adorned with textbooks and a colorful array of school supplies.

Shoshana spreads her arms wide and smiles.

“We live in a small house,” she says. “This table is school.”

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Webinar In July

We are pleased to announce that our wonderful webinar series will begin soon!  The first one will take place on Sunday July 21, starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time - moderated by Shoshana Zohari.

"Creating Our Summer Scrapbook"
Summer has arrived and we are all headed in different directions with plans of all sorts.  For this webinar we are asking all participants to come prepared to speak a bit.  Tell us, in 5 minutes, what this season holds in store for your family and the valuable lessons to be drawn from those experiences.  We are so looking forward to sharing the virtual pages of this 'colorful, communal scrapbook.’

Monday, June 3, 2013

Homeschooling Conference in Baltimore Attracts Participants from Toronto to Tokyo (Photo Essay)

By Pensak
Posted on 05/28/13

Baltimore, MD - May 27 - Approximately 125 participants from cities across the United States and Canada, including: Baltimore, Brooklyn, Chicago, Fairfax, VA, New Haven, CT, Rochester, Savannah, Toronto, and as far away as Tokyo, attended the fifth annual Torah Home Education Conference, yesterday. The all-day conference, held at the Center for Jewish Education (CJE), is unique in being the only homeschooling conference geared for Jewish home educating families.

An impressive line-up of expert speakers, workshops, and panel discussions discussed a variety of topics relevant to today’s homeschooling families, including: Educating for Eternity: Clarifying our Vision and Passing it on to our Children;  Getting Started;  Skills-Based Homeschooling in Torah Sheba'al Peh - Principles and Practice; Learning as a Way of Life--Life as a Way of Learning; For the Record: Creative Ways to Keep Track; Hash It Out - A Moderated Shmooze; Homeschooling in Maryland: Laws and Other Guidance; Limudei Kodesh through a Classical Education Lens; Ways to Prevent Mother Meltdown; A Father’s Perspecitve; Unschooling Kodesh--An Oxymoron?; Teaching to Our Children: A Look at Individualized Education; and a Homeschooling Parents’ Panel: Let’s Learn!