Where have I been?

As usual, I have lots of good excuses for going missing on this blog. I completed my manuscript for NaNoWriMo, then immediately started work on some short stories…and THEN I started working on *another* novel, which I am hoping will hit the 50,000 word mark (G-d willing!) by the end of this week.

Many of my FB friends, family, and colleagues know I’ve been slowly shifting my writing away from venues which don’t include images of women or older girls. That means I’ve had to find new publications to publish my short stories, which used to appear primarily in Binah and Hamodia. Recently, I had a second piece appear on Hevria, and now I’m privileged to be the first fiction writer featured in the new women’s magazine, The Layers Project Magazine. My story featured there is entitled, “Taking the Plunge.”

One of the perks about this switch of venue is that I get to talk about all sorts of topics not usually covered in Haredi magazines. Even though a lot of my writing is for children, the two stories I link to above are for readers 16 years old and up.

While the piece on Hevria is free, to read the second story, you have to pay a subscription. The Layers Project Magazine would like to be able to pay its writers and staff, and so just like the print mags charge a fee for you to buy them, they are asking for a subscription. For a month, it’s $5.99 for unlimited access, and you get three free articles without subscribing. However, if you consider it’s a replacement for four issues of Binah or Mishpacha‘s Family First, or the like, it’s a cheaper option.

Visiting “Life in the Married Lane” today for Part 2 of the Orthodox Women Talk Roundtable

Last week, the Orthodox Women Talk Roundtable debuted at Keshet Starr’s blog, and this week Rivki Silver is hosting. On this week’s roundtable (you can find it here) we discuss preparing for and celebrating Shabbos when there are kiddos running around the home. I read lots of great insights from the bloggers included. Can’t wait to find out what the next question is! Anyone who wants to contribute a question — about life as an Orthodox woman, Jewish motherhood, or the like — can send it to Rivki through the “Contact Me” link on her blog.

New wacky Passover poetry

I’m not going to have much time to post in length before Pesach hits next week, but I’m going to try to share something small every day to make up for it.

So here’s your tiny morsel of Passover-related kookiness for today:

(throat-clearing)

You cleansed the windows of mud

And you scrubbed all the toys in your tub

But you still won’t be through

When Pesach is due

If you don’t clean chometz off the rug.

 

Free writing tip…don’t be afraid to write bad poetry. And if you’d like to share your own corny/hammy/couldn’t-hechsher-if-it-tried Pesach poetry, just add it in the comments.

Pesach is just a couple weeks away! Here’s a post from three years ago, with wacky Pesach songs I created for our seder. I’ve long wanted to add another couple songs, perhaps for the story of the rabbis in Bnei Brak, but not sure I’ll get to it this year.

Do you have other songs or traditions that liven up your family’s seder? Please share them in the comments below!

Rebecca Klempner

The central mitzvah of the Passover seder is “L’higgadeta L’vincha”—to relate the story of our redemption to children.This means the section of the haggadah called “Maggid” is the most essential portion of it.However, most of the exciting songs and actions of the seder come before or after “Maggid”. Some children, even some adults, don’t really enjoy this part of the seder for that reason.

I know Pesach is long past, but it’s never too early to get ready for next year…

Here is a supplement to the haggadah to be used during “Maggid”.Here are the best songs that I wrote this year to help tell the story of our first Pesach. My original lyrics are sung to familiar children’s songs for ease of use, and I tried to be true to the original text.Please enjoy and tizku l’mitzvos!

To the tune of “Oh, Susanna”

Oh…

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Review of My Very Own Mitzvah Hands–new from Bracha Goetz & just in time for Chanukah!

My Very Own Mitzvah Hands cover

The Latest from Bracha Goetz!

My friends know that I love to support writers and illustrators local to me in L.A., but this time I’m turning to a writer from my hometown (hint, I’m forever an Orioles fan).

Bracha Goetz is a well-known Jewish writer and the creator of the popular “What Do You See” series of boardbooks from Judaica Press. She’s now teamed up with them for a new series, of which the first book just came out.

My Very Own Mitzvah Hands follows two young children as they employ their hands in a variety of activities. This book is similar to the secular Hands Are Not for Hitting, but differs in two significant ways: 1) the emphasis is exclusively on the positive, 2) the actions are directly connected to using our hands to connect to the Almighty through His mitzvos.

Bracha Goetz’s text rhymes nicely, and uses simple, clear language which is appropriate to the youngest readers. Attractively and colorfully illustrated by Malka Wolf, children will find the pictures engaging, and they’ll particularly appreciate the final spread, which recaps all the actions discussed earlier in the book.

I very much liked the underlying message to children–just because your hands are little, doesn’t mean they can’t bring good into our world. This message is empowering, but it isn’t overpowering in its presentation.  My Very Own Mitzvah Hands lends itself also very well to two common parenting experiences:

1) If your child is using their hands for trouble (like creating murals on your wall with permanent marker or smacking the baby), you can use the rhymes in this book to redirect them or to remind them of better things to do with their hands.

2) Sometimes, children complain about being bored. Using this book as a springboard, parents can invite their children to brainstorm things they can do with their hands to alleviate that boredom.

Whether you’re still doing your Chanukah shopping or looking for books at other times of the year, I’d recommend this book. My Very Own Mitzvah Hands refers to several of elements of Jewish practice only engaged in on a daily basis by traditional and religious families, so I would describe the target audience as children 1-5 years from those backgrounds.