| Family First Inbox |

Family First Inbox: Issue 896

“What is important for your readers to know is that play therapy is different from what the article described”

Not Just a Problem in the Art World [Artistic License / Issue 894]

As a person who has very limited knowledge (but much appreciation) for the world of art, your article on art plagiarism was very intriguing and enlightening. The fact that artists steal, or rather “borrow,” other people’s original work came to me as a surprise.

But what does not surprise me, however, is that some otherwise frum and halachah-abiding individuals (read: educators) feel free to “borrow” other people’s original educational materials without a shred of guilt. To make themselves feel justified, they simply “reinvent the wheel” with minor changes such as changing images and the order of some text. It’s now their original.

Your article might be a perfect forum to include this type of plagiarism for all people who “kasher” their stolen goods with 100 excuses as to why it’s okay. It’s not okay. In the art world plagiarism is clear as day because we’re dealing with a visual image that is obvious to the seeing eye. Not so in the world of educational materials where there’s a lot of gray area and murkiness to cover up.

Practically every pasuk in parshas Kedoshim ends with, “Ani Hashem Elokeichem” or “V’yareisa me’Elokeicha, Ani Hashem.” Rashi explains that the reason for this is because Hashem says that these are referring to aveiros that people do behind others’ backs and on the sly, foolishly assuming nobody knows about them. Says Hashem, “But I do! I know! I see everything and take all into account!”

As we approach the Yom Tov of Matan Torah, let’s take this opportunity to “wipe our slates clean” not just in the art world, but also in the world of chinuch where there are unlimited opportunities to err. “Ani Hashem Elokeichem.

Name Withheld


Silent Support [Inbox / Issue 894]

I’d like to comment on the Inbox letter titled, “Isolated and Alone.”

To the writer, thank you so much for raising a true and prevalent issue that our bereaved mothers face. They have a pregnancy with all the dreams and hopes that every mother has. They weave the tapestry of a true relationship between a mother and her unborn child. And then these dreams that were very much a reality shatter. And with that, the hopes and dreams that encompass being a parent die, too. And on top of the grief, the waiting begins. Where they await acknowledgement, wait for someone to recognize the pain they’re facing, and all they receive is silence because their friends, sisters, and family really don’t know what to do or say.

Thank you for mentioning the importance of compassion, of recognizing in a sensitive fashion how you’re aware and thinking of them.

I like to think of support as having a “butterfly effect.” Your soft and gentle gestures of support can be so far-reaching. You, as a sister, can offer support in a silent, refined way, and touch her heart so she knows you truly care.

Experiencing a loss is a nightmare. I’m so sad that you retreated inward. I hope you feel more comfortable now to get the support you need, even a while later.

Thinking of you,

Mrs. Malkie Klaristenfeld

Director, Knafayim/Wings of Hope


Unparalleled [Fallout / Issue 894]

Kudos to Miriam Zakon for her brilliant serial Fallout. Her descriptions and character development were as good as it gets. The quality of Miriam’s serial(s) is unparalleled.

Name Withheld


Almost Fell Out of My Chair [Fallout / Issue 894]

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw THE END at the end of the fabulous serial Fallout. I can’t wait for the book to be published, as I hope it will. Miriam Zakon is one of the most talented authors in the contemporary Jewish literature world.

S. Katz


In Awe of Her [Tempo / Issue 893]

Reading the story about the complex relationship between two women — single mother Rikki and her ex-husband’s wife, Elisheva — as they navigate raising their shared daughter, I’m in awe of the sensitivity displayed by Elisheva to her husband’s ex-wife. She’s a magnificent example of how to deal with this very complex relationship and setting a great example for the daughter they share.

And here’s a word for Rikki: I know just how hard it is to heal from what's been done  to you. I’ve experienced it myself. But you can do it! For your sake and for your daughter's. Furthermore, you can overcome the past even without that subtle hint at the end of the story that his behavior isn’t only peaches and cream. You can have your own beautiful future for yourself.

Wishing all Rikkis and all Elishevas lots of hatzlachah,

A Mother Who Knows


This Isn’t Play Therapy [Not Child’s Play / Issue 893]

When I saw that Family First featured an article on play therapy, I was excited. As a registered play therapist-supervisor in the field for over 15 years, I know that people are often misinformed about play therapy, especially in the frum community. I was happy that a frum magazine finally chose to write and educate the public about the power and healing of play therapy.

Although play therapy is typically practiced with children and your article was about play therapy with adults, I eagerly dug in.

I wanted to point out that what you described wasn’t exactly play therapy because the women were doing it by themselves — half of the equation was missing! There was no one there to witness their process and no therapeutic relationship through which to heal. More importantly, there was no one guiding, holding, or containing their play.

I’m not denying or even questioning whether these women found their playful activities therapeutic, healing, or helpful. I just want to clarify that playing and using toys in a way that feels therapeutic or healing isn’t strictly play therapy.

After reading the article, I was concerned that the reader might walk away with the assumption that buying their child a beautiful doll and dollhouse could take the place of play therapy. This concern was confirmed when a colleague shared that the parent of a child she’s working with asked this very question. My own friends and neighbors reached out for clarification about what play therapy is because their impression of what I did and what the article described didn’t match up.

Play therapy is a rich and nuanced approach to psychotherapy, and it isn’t something I can fully describe in a letter to the editor. But what is important for your readers to know is that play therapy is different from what the article described, and that in the United States, registered play therapists go through a rigorous post-master’s process of training, supervised experience, and consultation to earn the RPT/RPT-S credential.

Yehudis Fromowitz



Are We Preparing Them? [Not Yet Home / Issue 892]

The article “Not Yet Home,” about the challenges newlyweds face adjusting to marriage, brought up some very important points, and maybe we should think a little bit about how we’re preparing our daughters for marriage.

Is it such a good idea for us to run a five-star hotel while they go through high school, party with their friends, and have no idea what the inside of a kitchen looks like or how to sew on a button? The girls who enjoy cooking and baking, know how to sort laundry, and how to clean a house, have so much of an easier time when it’s time to do it all in their own home. And when it is something they naturally do for their family from when they are very young, and they experience the joy of doing something for someone else with their own two hands, the joy of giving, it never becomes something that presents a challenge or breeds resentment. When, right through their teens, they actually enjoy home time, or even (gasp) their own company, instead of constantly flying around with friends, then settling into a cozy nest with their new husband becomes a natural transition, and enjoying each other's company during their shanah rishonah is something they do without feeling FOMO.

An even greater problem presents when girls belong to kehillos that have the young couple living near Mommy. If they have never lifted a finger at home when they were growing up, you’ll find them arriving at Mommy’s house for suppers, not just Shabbos. It’s all just too overwhelming.

Rav Dessler tells us that a stranger is someone you have never helped. The word ahavah stems from the root hav, to give. It’s not that you love someone and therefore you want to give to them. You give and give, and that’s when you begin to love. A kallah doesn’t have real depth of feeling for her chassan; she’s never even given him a cup of coffee. Now, she cooks for him and bakes him treats. Yes, breakfast, lunch, and supper. Yes, they buy and toivel and arrange, and do all the things that are difficult but enable them to begin to feel like a team. And the love begins to grow.

That’s what shanah rishonah is all about.

Are we preparing them for it?



Exploding Seltzer and Other Comments [Not Yet Home / Issue 892]

I wanted to thank Family First for publishing this article. I found it to be very validating and necessary, yet this is the first time newlywed homesickness has been acknowledged. I appreciate how Shiffy Lieberman put it that the adjustments of being newly married are a luxury and therefore many people fail to acknowledge the challenges that come up, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant difficulties that can arise. It’s important that people are aware that it’s normal to miss home and find being married to be a lot more work than they thought.

I told my husband the story Shiffy referenced about the exploding orange juice on her husband because she failed to tighten the cap. The same thing happened to us several times (just with seltzer) in our shanah rishonah and it was so validating to hear that we’re not the only ones!

Thank you,

A Once Homesick Newlywed


High School Is (Not) Forever [Forever High School / Issue 891]

I found myself smiling and nodding as I read the article about high school and its social effects. I’m one of those girls who squelched or didn’t actuate her talents because of perceived inadequacies. When I was in ninth grade, I moved from a very tiny out-of-town class to a large New York high school. When production time came, I tried out for drama. Of course I wasn’t given a part. I didn’t know that unless a girl is a very, very talented actress, they don’t give parts to ninth-graders. Well, needless to say, I never tried out for a drama part again.

However, as an adult, I’ve come to realize that I’m pretty good at dramatization, whether in storytelling or sisterhood Purim skits. I’ve also come to realize that I can sing and actually have some artistic ability, and when I thought all this through, I realized that I never appreciated those talents in myself because I was comparing myself to my classmates and siblings.

I often would think about what a high-school reunion would be like: how I’d like for my classmates to see that I actually made something of myself, that I’m a respected member of my community, and that I’ve raised a wonderful family, baruch Hashem.

However, after reading your article, even 30-plus years post-high school, I wonder — would I really enjoy that or would I revert to my quiet, isolated high-school self?

Name Withheld


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 896)

Oops! We could not locate your form.