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Family First Inbox: Issue 880

“I think saying that’s ‘what worked for us back then’ is a recipe for disaster”

Finger on the Pulse [To Be Honest / Issue 879]

I strongly disagree with Tamar Feldman’s take on camp reunions.

It’s a tough world out there, and the glitz and glamour just around the corner from our protected homes are strong.

I think saying that’s “what worked for us back then” is a recipe for disaster. It’s not the same world, things have changed, and children need different things now.

Our girls are put under extreme pressure to succeed at everything they do — far more so than when you were a child. They must perform well academically, they must be a size 2, they must daven and do chesed and ideally head G.O., too. And be frum on top of that.

Camp is a place that gives them a chance to relax and unwind and recharge from the pressure.

Camps have their finger on the pulse. They’re seeing firsthand what girls need, as this is the safe place that the girls go to in order to get away from the pressures of their daily routine. They clearly feel that this will help the girls stay committed and on the right path. If we trust them to look after our girls for several weeks at a go, why can’t we trust them here?

Or at least not criticize them in a public forum that our girls are probably reading?

Laya F.


A Man’s View [To Be Honest / Issue 879]

Well, I am a man, and I know that Family First is “The Jewish Woman’s Weekly,” and that on Shabbos I should be curling up on the couch with a Mishnah Berurah, but sometimes, when time is short and the kids are setting the table, I allow myself a glance at your fine product.

Maybe the fact that I am male makes a difference, but I do remember the childish bragging over Converse or PRO-Keds sneakers in the early 70s when I grew up, so I “get” it. But, oh no, not another piece about our kids not feeling nerdy and should or shouldn’t we give in to the fads.

I want to share my gratitude for three things:

I was blessed with intelligent, patient parents who communicated to us that you don’t have to have what Kenny has just because he has it, and somehow, we didn’t feel any less loved. Your kids can feel loved without that love being attached to anything. (See Avos 5:16).

I’m blessed to live in the Land of Israel in a neighborhood where consumerism just doesn’t seem to penetrate.

I’m blessed to be a grandfather and to have a wife who is coincidentally a grandmother, so we can content ourselves with giving stuff to our grandchildren and not worry about whether the gifts are fashionable or not, and leave it to our children to buy what they can for their kids.

Hoping to see y’all in the Holy Land very soon,

A Man from Jerusalem


Air Fryers Are a Scam [Family Table / Issue 879]

I’m absolutely loving all the new columns that you have recently started printing. So original and fun!

In “Like a Local,” Faigy Grossman interviews Mr. Leiby Fisher, and blows the whole air fryer scam sky high.

Six years ago, when we got married, we got an air fryer as a wedding gift. We tried using it to make various recipes, and my very-unimpressed new husband walked away saying, “This is just a convection oven, but with a much smaller cooking space.”

We’ve been voicing this unpopular opinion again and again to everyone we hear debating about whether to buy an air fryer or not.

Thank you, Mr. Fisher, for bringing the truth out in the open!

Air fryers are just convection ovens, guys. Save your dollars (and calories, too) by skipping the air fryer and using the convection setting instead!

Libby L.


Sweet Memories [Musings / Issue 879]

I just read the Musings about Tante Ruchel, whose husband, Reb Berel, was my father’s first cousin.

Never did anyone in the family visit Eretz Yisrael without stopping to visit Berel and Ruchel. When my brother studied in Belz back in the early 70s, he often frequented their home, and was always given a beloved welcome and a hearty meal.

I saw Ruchel the last time in 1998 when my brother married off a son and she came to the wedding.

Thank you for those fond memories of the choshuve couple they were.

Toby Sobel née Weinberger


Scent It with Sumac [Family Table / Issue 879]

After I saw the recipes calling for sumac, I asked my husband to pick some up at the grocery store. While he was waiting on line at the store, the person behind asked him what you can make with sumac, as he has some at home and didn’t know what to do with it. “Buy Mishpacha this week,” my husband told him with a laugh. “There’s an article about it in Family First.”

The Jotkowitzes get credit for getting you a possible new subscriber.

Raizy Jotkowitz


Sensory Issue at Play? [Help! My Baby Won’t Stop Crying / Issue 879]

Thank you for Shoshana Gross’s excellent article outlining the potential causes and possible cures for colic. Any mother who’s had a colicky baby understands how stressful it is, how your baby’s cries wear on you and wear you down, until you feel like sobbing as loudly as your infant.

At a wellness-check, my pediatrician asked me how my baby was doing. When I told him that my baby had colic, he examined him closely, asked me a lot of detailed questions, then told me he firmly believed that most cases of “colic” had a cause that could be identified and then treated.

In my baby’s case, after we ruled out a food sensitivity, he told me to see if there was a sensory issue at play. He advised me to turn up the heat and leave my baby undressed as often as possible. When we did need to dress him, he advised we put him on clothing a size or two too big, with inside-out undershirts. I cringed, but gave it a try… and was shocked to see how effective it was. He was still a fussy baby, but he wasn’t screaming endlessly anymore.

(When this child got bigger, his sensory issues became more apparent, and we ended up doing several rounds of OT, which were baruch Hashem very helpful.)

I’ve had lots of people advise me to cut out milk or broccoli or coffee, but had never heard of sensory issues as the culprit behind a baby’s discomfort. I hope this advice can help another tired mom out there.

An Experienced Mom


Ripple Effect [When Kindness Blossoms / Issue 878]

I was so excited to see my friend Rebbetzin Libby Kakon’s essay in the Tu B’Shevat Kindness section! Proud is not a strong enough word to describe my feelings. Rebbetzin Kakon doesn’t just give milk and cookies. She’s an integral part of the yeshivah she helped her husband start.

My husband grew up with the rosh yeshivah, Rabbi Kakon, and after we married, I was privileged to meet this special couple. However, the word special sometimes conveys a certain boundary and space. The Kakons defy that and open their hearts and home and call you their friend.

It is with this signature style of authenticity that people feel so comfortable in their company, and as a result they have many who indeed are friends. Of course, they had the great courage and strength to sail in uncharted waters and open up a yeshivah for boys with hearing loss from all over the world, before that became a popular thing to do.

You may wonder: How do you communicate (in sign language or read lips) if you’re from a different country?! It’s called the language of ohev es habriyos u’mekarvan laTorah. Take a visit to Yeshivas Nefesh Dovid and the kol Torah is roaring and that message of ohev es habriyos, etc., permeates the air. Ripple effects indeed from Rebbetzin Lubart, whom Rebbetzin Kakon’s essay was about, and the ripple continues to their talmidim and anyone who comes across their way.

Judy Landman


Not a Quality Product [Appliances 101 / Issue 877]

In the article about appliances, you recommended GE ovens. Every oven that I purchased in the last 25 years was a GE. I had no complaints. As a result, when I redid my kitchen a few years ago, I ordered two of them. I started using the ovens before Pesach and it was a disaster.

Nothing was ready on time. I had to keep putting things back into the oven.

I placed a service call to assess the issue. The repairman came, tested the oven, and then scheduled another appointment six weeks later to replace both boards. The serviceman also told me that even though the instructions say that it will take five minutes for the oven to heat up, it really takes 15 minutes. He was very frustrated. He said that the things the company does make no sense. The engineers they were using made bad decisions.

Some examples:

The broiler turns on during the bake cycle to provide more even heat in the oven. As a result, you can’t use the upper shelf for baking, because the items can burn while still being raw on the inside. My sister-in-law has a GE wall oven that she bought around the same time and has the same problem.

In order to change a light bulb in a wall oven, the whole oven had to be removed from the wall.

The bottom drawer feels like aluminum foil. It’s so soft, it can be easily dented.

One of the ovens came damaged, even though the box wasn’t.

The paint on the black burners and griddle top wears off very quickly. It looks terrible.

The board with the buttons is so cheaply done, that now, less than two years later, layers of plastic on the buttons are peeling off.

I realize that appliances are being made with cheaper quality every year, but this product is ridiculous. I would not buy or recommend anyone buy a GE oven.

I will say that I love my Bosch dishwashers. Truly worth the investment!

D. Grossman



(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 880)

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