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Family First Inbox: Issue 878

“While the two words are visually very similar, the word ‘tortuous’ is an entirely different word that means ‘twisted or windy’”

Steam It [Appliance 101 / Issue 877]

I’m a great believer in using machines to do the work of man (or woman), and appliances, big and small, certainly help to streamline life.

In my household, we run two washing machines and two dryers. Though guests might flippantly comment, “Do you run a laundromat here?” or “Fleishig and milchig?” the convenience and time-saving we gain by running two machines is invaluable.

From the time we installed our first duo, 20 years ago, I’ve had to replace both washers. When I replaced machine number one, Town Appliance offered me one with a steam function, but I dismissed it as unnecessary. When we had to replace machine number two, a year later, the only machine available with no wait was the machine with steam, so we bought it.

We regret having passed up the steam on the machine we bought the previous year. We use the machine with the steam function at a three-to-one compared with the other machine. The freshness of the wash is incomparable when using the steam function, and that’s great when washing towels or clothing that has been sitting for a while — think kids coming home from yeshivah or camp, or laundry after Yom Tov.

The washing machine with steam also has a “fan-fresh” feature that is great for putting in the laundry at night and drying it in the morning, or similar scenarios.

If you’re blessed to have lots of clothing, towels, and linens to wash, you would be well-served by opting for the steam feature of the washers. It’s not warranted for every wash you do, but certainly enough to get your money’s worth-plus from it.

Meira Halberg


Mommy, I Have News for You… [Lifetakes / Issue 877]

Dear Mommy Keilson,

I read your piece about how you don’t like to make small talk, even after years of honing the skill, and how your mother-in-law’s “What’s new?” had you run dry — but these days, you’re getting somewhat better at it, especially since your new daughter-in-law calls every Erev Shabbos.

Guess what? I’m terrible at it, too! That’s why I call (conscientiously) every Friday — because we have real conversations about real things, like funny family stories, why we both love writing, and of course, the horrors of bad grammar.

Talk to you next Friday! (I’ll try to avoid asking, “What’s new?”)

Golda Keilson


Stuck on Savings [Financial Peace / Issue 876]

I have a question for the writers of the budgeting column Financial Peace. Can you recommend a savvy financial advisor? For some reason, although every article on budgeting, saving, investing, and the like mention the importance of consulting financial advisors, whenever I ask around for recommendations, no one has reputable names to give me (whereas everyone and their sister will know the name of a therapist, handyman, etc.).

To clarify, I’m probably in the middle-class category. We baruch Hashem have enough money for savings on a monthly basis. However, we could use guidance on investing, and we also need to speak to someone who deals with tens of thousands, and not millions.

Another question I have: Is there an approximate income percentage that one should allot for savings? I’m asking because my husband and I aren’t big spenders, yet I often wonder if with the income we have, maybe it’s time to fargin ourselves more. And maybe it’s time to give more tzedakah as well.

Any insight is appreciated. Thank you.

Worried and Wondering


Rivky Rothenberg and Tsippi Gross of Ashir respond:

We don’t love to give out general percentages for savings because they’re just that — general. So much depends on personal circumstances. But we understand that it’s hard to save money “in the dark” — not knowing if you should be stressed because you’re not saving “enough” or if you can relax and spend more.

Saving for future events (retirement, house, car, bar mitzvah, or wedding) shouldn’t be a “feel” thing. It should be based on your knowledge of how much you’ll need for the future (within your current understanding and knowing this is just hishtadlus, of course). Then you need to do the math to figure out how you’re going to get there. The only way to get a good answer is by doing the numbers — and that’s where a good financial planner or coach can come into play.

As far as tzedakah goes, typically people don’t regret giving to tzedakah, but we always recommend individuals and couples seek guidance from a rav on this specific topic. Find out exactly what your halachic requirement is and what you can give beyond that. We know many people who give generously even before they have the “right amount” saved; it’s just part of their normal spending.

We do have some names of reputable financial advisors and coaches. Please reach out via Mishpacha so we can connect you. As with any service provider, a financial advisor needs to be a good “shidduch,” so it might take several interviews until you settle on an advisor you’re comfortable with and can help you reach your goals.


Try a Drink [A Better You / Issue 876]

In Dr. Jennie Berkovich’s informative article on headaches, it would be easy to overlook her comment, buried three-quarters deep into the article, that “Hydration, often overlooked, also plays a significant role.” I want to reiterate and emphasize that very important point.

When one of my boys complained of daily headaches, I made an appointment with my GP, already dreading the lengthy and costly vision therapy I imagined he would need — or other investigative tests I’d have to take him for — in order to get to the bottom of things.

After asking my son to describe his headaches in full detail and color, my GP turned to me and said, “Most headaches in children are caused by dehydration. Before we do anything else, I want him to start drinking more.”

The very next morning, my son began a new routine of drinking a full mug of herbal tea first thing in the morning to boost his fluid intake… and lo and behold, baruch Hashem the headaches stopped completely.

So please, parents, before starting to try and “unravel the mystery” of your child’s headaches, add another couple glasses of water to his daily diet — that might just do the trick!

Mrs. C. Katz

London, UK


Tortured? [The Rocky Road to the Chuppah / Issue 876]

As a longtime reader and appreciator of this magazine’s usual professional content, I was unpleasantly surprised and more than a bit disturbed to see the sensationalist headline of this past week’s Family First, replete with a comical snake, scorpion, bomb, minefield, and other warning signs, depicting a “tortuous route” to a chuppah.

In the post-Simchas Torah war environment that we’re all a part of, our brothers and sisters in captivity are experiencing actual torture, barbaric brutality, and unspeakable horrors; to equate their torture with the struggles of life’s challenges callously minimizes the national pain and trauma that we are all suffering from the October 7 attack on our people.

Without minimizing these women’s struggles and hardships, the headline of “tortuous route” was at best naive and unprofessional, and (hopefully not) intentionally insensitive. A title of “The Rocky Road to the Chuppah” on the cover of the magazine — as is the actual title of the article inside the magazine  —would have been a far better choice.

Please resist the urge to publish sensationalist journalism and continue to produce quality content as this magazine has done in years past.

A. S.

Baltimore, MD


Our editors respond:

As you correctly noted, the stories shared in the magazine are not torturous, and describing them as such would be inappropriate for a lighthearted article, and insensitive to people going through truly torturous circumstances.

Our cover text read, “Five women retrace their tortuous routes to the chuppah.” However, while the two words are visually very similar, the word “tortuous” is an entirely different word that means “twisted or windy,” and was simply meant to describe the circuitous path these women had to marriage. We regret the confusion.


No Monopolies [Second Guessing / Issue 874]

A letter writer who responded to the recent Second Guessing wrote that she was “absolutely horrified by how Nava treated Leah… after Leah had trained her and acted as a mentor.” After learning the ropes in Leah’s playgroup, Nava opened another playgroup with expanded hours, leaving Leah with a lower registration and feeling that Nava had “stolen” her potential students.

But here’s the thing: Children aren’t a commodity. You don’t have the rights to anyone’s child.

And yet so many of our community playgroups operate as if they do. My neighborhood has the unofficial policy that no one else is allowed to open a day care, and our children (and their mothers) suffer because of it. There are only three playgroups in the neighborhood, all very large, and with hours that aren’t compatible for parents who work full-time. If I want a smaller, more intimate option for my sensory-sensitive child or longer hours so I don’t have to get my older children to do pickup, I have nowhere to turn.

We should be putting the needs of our families first, not the pockets of our community members.

Rivka T.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 878)

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