| Family First Editor's Letter |

Introducing: Spirit & Sparks

This column was created through you and for you


or years now, the two-page devar Torah that appears immediately after Family Reflections has been an integral part of the package we offer you each week.

We’ve gotten a wide range of responses to those columns. Many people have thanked us for providing the only high-level Torah material they read all week. We’ve been told again and again by teachers and speakers that they’ve shared the ideas they’ve found there with students. Some series, notably Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz’s column on the Thirteen Ikarim of the Rambam and Rebbetzin Shira Smile’s “Song at Sunrise” set on birchos hashachar, are requested again and again.

Then there are readers who sheepishly admit that they don’t read the “holy column.” It’s touching to see that even those women who consistently flip past it are happy it’s in the magazine. “It’s too heavy for me when I’m half asleep on Friday night,” they say. “But I want to be reading the sort of magazine that contains such columns.” They appreciate the column they never read because it represents what they want for themselves; it’s a tangible reminder of their aspirations even if they don’t have the mental bandwidth to delve into it. And that’s commendable. But we want to be nourishing them as well.

On a recent trip to the States, several of us editors met with groups of thoughtful, intelligent readers in two different cities. The women shared what they wanted to see in the magazine, what topics they found relevant, how they’d like us to tweak the current offering.

One of the takeaways of those enlightening sessions was that people were thirsting for easily accessible spirituality. They wanted short pieces that would leave them uplifted about themselves and their Yiddishkeit, ideas they could absorb in moments.

In a follow-up meeting we tried to see how we could slake this thirst. And came up with the idea of a column we only half-jokingly called “health bits for the soul.” This column would run in our “holy slot” but rather than providing an in-depth devar Torah, it would offer a smorgasbord of inspiration: heartwarming stories, thought-provoking quotes, snippets of wisdom.

I knew just the woman to write it. Baila Vorhand, whose “At the Core” series just finished, is able to find spirituality everywhere, and had access to a wide variety of sources. At the same time, she appreciates our readers’ intelligence and knows how to ensure that “succinct” never becomes “fluffy.” I was thrilled when she agreed to take on this new project, and this week, we unveil our Spirit & Sparks column.

A Heavenly Hug

This column was created through you and for you. It’s an answer to today’s frenzied lifestyle — and to the desire every Jewish woman has to grow and become a better, higher version of her current self.

Please share your own stories and thought and quotes to live by. Let us know what moves you, what excites you, what you’d like us to revise.

For those of you who love the longer pieces, who appreciate diving into a topic, fear not. We’ll still be having our regular columns two weeks out of three. We hope the combination of styles and lengths will ensure that all of you are able to gain the inspiration you seek.

Bassi Gruen
Managing Editor, Family First


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