Category Archives: Books

Books I Love – Baby & Toddler Basics

Caring for our children’s health is one of the most challenging parts of motherhood, especially when they’re little and we may not have experience. Dr. Tanya Altmann has recently written a book, Baby and Toddler Basics: Expert Answers to Parents’ Top 150 Questions, that covers the most commonly discussed topics. (As a mom of 3 boys, she also understands what it’s like to be on the “asking” side, too.)

Odds are you will find yourself obsessing over one—or all!–of these distressing issues, usually at 3:00AM on a Saturday night while on vacation (ask me how I know?):

  • Feeding – Is my baby/toddler getting enough nutrients? Is nursing better than bottle-feeding? Why does my baby never seem full?
  • Sleep – My baby/toddler won’t sleep at all, wakes up often or has their days and nights mixed up.
  • Crying – Are they crying constantly, and if so, what’s the cause? Could excessive crying be related to a serious problem?
  • Fevers – Are fevers always dangerous for littles ones? How high is too high? Should a fever always signal a need for a visit to the Pediatrician?
  • Skin Care – Rashes, Jaundice, diaper rash, and more.
  • Stomachache – What causes tummy trouble? Lots of good advice about Food allergies, dehydration, cramps, and vomiting.

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Tanya in person and she is such a doll! It was at an event for Tylenol in Boston, over 3 years ago. She was the featured speaker and everyone who attended really enjoyed it. (We were amazed that she could stand on her feet for hours while heavily pregnant and talk without needing any notes!)

After the talk was over, she took the time to visit with me individually and we discovered our shared love of Israel. (She actually did some medical training there.) She is a wonderful lady and a very compassionate physician that actually listens. I live on the East Coast and she’s based in California, but if we lived closer together, I’d certainly want her as our family’s Pediatrician.

Baby and Toddler Basics:  Expert Answers to Parents’ Top 150 Questions is a great pick for any mom’s book shelf.

Is the Stigma of Addiction Worse for Jews?

Lisa Hillman was living the “perfect” life: She had two beautiful children, a wonderful husband who’d served as mayor, and a successful career in healthcare and journalism. Her son’s long struggle with addiction threatened to destroy it all. In public, everything seemed fine, but in private, the whole family was living in fear and shame. Active in the Jewish community, Lisa was surprised to find a huge lack of services to help those who are suffering. Through her book, Secret No More, and through her amazing advocacy, she is changing that. In the following guest post, she shares some excellent advice.

Recently, my son, Jacob, and I were invited to address a group of South Florida rabbis. Although the setting was private, the mere idea was daunting. Other than another rabbi, heads of state, or leaders of major organizations, who gets to speak to a roomful of rabbis? It was very overwhelming!

Our talk was focused on educating these religious leaders about addiction and how to better prepare them to face this issue in their own congregations. Planning for the event, I had a sudden realization.  

Was my shame, during my son’s active addiction, more pronounced because I was Jewish? Because our community stresses high achievement, the pressure to be prefect can be extreme. There is also a myth that Jews don’t have addictions, that we don’t drink to excess and we certainly don’t abuse drugs. (Or so I thought.)

Don’t Jews excel in nearly every field?  Shouldn’t my son, therefore, shine among his peers?  As I said to the rabbis that day, weren’t we the “Chosen People”?

This quest for perfection can make it very difficult to admit that problems exist. It wasn’t until writing my memoir that the shame, isolation and fear lifted. Sharing my story with others in hopes of encouraging them to seek help – and to give them hope – was the antidote I needed.

That day with the rabbis, I offered them five suggestions:  

Educate yourself

Read all you can about the disease. Start with journalist Sam Quinones’ Dreamland which traces the rise of heroin across America. Befriend someone in recovery and attend AA meetings. Be open to learning.

Talk about it

Use the pulpit, newsletter and other outlets to express understanding and compassion for those with addiction and those affected by it.


Hear what a congregant is saying without his directly saying it. Both the addict and the family members may be scared to ask for help without prompting.

Learn resources

Be ready to refer families for help.  Know the best therapists, treatment centers and online sites.

Offer space

Groups like AA and Al-Anon often lack a place to meet; By lending them a place, it can aid recovery to addicts and their families. Be sure to tell  congregation that you support it.

Most of all, we have to remember that only by talking about addiction and unmasking the stigma can we ever hope to conquer it.

About the Author:

Lisa Hillman is the author of Secret No More, a powerful memoir that details her son’s addiction and how it affected her entire family. In addition to writing, speaking, and educating others about this important topic, she serves as a board member of Pathways and Samaritan House, both programs that serve addicts.

Lisa is the mother of Heidi and Jacob. She and her husband reside in Maryland. Find out more and connect with her through her website.

Jerusalem Stone Giveaway (3 Prizes!)

My favorite author of Jewish-themed books, Susan Sofayov, has created a remarkable follow-up to The Kiddush Ladies with her latest novel, Jerusalem Stone. Inspired by events and travels that took place in her own life, Susan has shaped them into a fictional story that’s remarkably rich, full, and moving.

Anyone who is at a crossroad in their life will identify with protagonist Julie Wasserman. Having lost her job at Lehman Brothers during the collapse, she is dealt an even worse blow when her brother is killed in a head-on collision. Because they are twins, Jack is not just a sibling, he’s her best friend, and life seems very bleak without him.

Consumed by grief, she moves back to their hometown (Pittsburgh) so she can visit Jack’s grave daily. With 6 free weeks before her new job begins, Julie makes a bold choice to visit Thailand because Jack had dreamed of going there.

A chance meeting on Patong Beach throws her for a loop, when an Israeli named Avi introduces himself with the following line: “Do you know that over two hundred and fifty people each year are killed by falling coconuts?” Not looking for a romance, Julie is hesitant, but Avi’s good looks and charm win her over. They spend time getting to know each other and enjoy fun tourist adventures together all over Thailand, becoming so close he takes her back to Israel.

Believing that Jack would want her to keep mourning, she is torn between grief and romance. Can Avi—and a higher power—find a way to show her that true love does exist and that she definitely deserves it?

What I enjoy most about Susan’s books is how relatable the characters are. She creates real-acting people going through real-life stuff; it’s not always pretty and it’s never perfect, but it’s always so moving. Of course, I’m always a sucker for a good love story, too, and Julie and Avi are so right for each other, I found myself hurrying through the pages, praying they’d make it work!

Susan has generously offered multiple copies of Jerusalem Stone, so there will be THREE winners for this giveaway. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“P is for Palestine” Book Encourages Young Children to be Terrorists

Think hate literature is only written for adults? Guess again! A hideous new children’s book called “P is for Palestine” is for sale on Etsy. Not only does it contain vile hate speech, but it actually encourages youngsters to become terrorists!

Take this troubling line as an example: “I is for Intifada, Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!”

Those of us who are familiar with Israeli history are aware that Intifada is also the word used for the two bloody Arab uprisings that occurred in the 1980’s and in the early 2000’s. Many innocent people were wounded and killed needlessly during those times.

Anyone who loves peace would never, ever claim that Intifada is good, especially to an impressionable young mind.

It is so hard, day after day, to see Israel vilified and lied about in the news and in pop culture. The truth is that Arab citizens of Israel have the exact same rights and privileges that Jewish citizens enjoy. They are not hurt, abused, or marginalized by the government, and anyone who says otherwise is not being truthful.

Parents should teach their children that prejudice of any kind is wrong and stress tolerance and friendship with every group as right. We are all a part of the human race and that’s what matters—our similarities, not our differences.

I recognize that the First Amendment exists for a reason and the author can write and distribute this garbage if they wish, however, Etsy doesn’t have to be the vehicle and definitely should not allow listings that promote hate to be featured on their site.

Very troubling, very unnecessary, and very sad!