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Off the Record: 800th Issue

Up close and personal with some famous Jr. personalities

Week after week, Mishpacha magazine arrives at homes and stores around the world. Everyone excitedly rips off the plastic and immediately the weekly arguments begin (hopefully friendly!) about who gets to read Jr. first. This week we’re getting up close and personal with some famous Jr. personalities to learn more about them


Devorah Grant: Weekly Wisdom

City: Golders Green, London

Favorite nosh: Blue sour sticks

First Jr. article: Weekly Wisdom for parshas Vayetzei last year… I was amazed how Rachelli David (Weekly Wisdom’s amazing illustrator) brought my writing to life in such a cute way. Look and see how each detail is added in!

Memorable experience as a Jr. writer: It’s always fun for my family, friends, and students (shout-out to all my favorite pupils at Bais Yaakov!) when they see their names in the column. Once I had to confiscate an issue of Jr. from a student who was reading in class... I’m sure you can guess which page she was reading, though!

Something you learned from writing for Jr.: Any topic can be interesting when written the right way!

Yehuda Bromberg: Storytime

City: Baltimore, Maryland

Favorite nosh: Ice cream

First Jr. article: When I was 18, I interviewed Ed Bernstein z”l for Mishpacha. Later, I wrote a story serial for Jr. called “Under Lock and Key,” about two adventure-seeking cousins racing around the globe with their Zeidy, chasing a treasure hidden during World War II. Jr. editor Libby Tescher then asked me to record a story for the hotline, and my wife encouraged me to continue making audio stories. All that led to Y.B. Production, a company that produces top-quality children’s audio stories (the third and newest one coming out soon).

Funniest feedback: The greatest storyteller I know is my father, Rabbi A. Bromberg, who is a rebbi in St. Louis, Missouri. (I get my best stories from him.) Every so often, one of his students will tell him, “Rebbi, your son in Baltimore wrote this story differently in Jr. than how you told it!”

What you learned from writing for Jr.: Among other things, utilizing one’s kochos for the good of Klal Yisrael is very fulfilling.

Leeba Leichtman: Newsflash

City: Baltimore, Maryland

Favorite nosh: Sour sticks

First thing you wrote for Jr.: An interview with Mr. Ronnie Rosenbleuth, a city council representative in Baltimore, MD. I remember feeling pretty nervous about doing an interview!

Favorite Jr. writer experience: When my son’s morah asked me to come speak to his kindergarten class about being a writer. It was lots of fun, and the boys had great questions. My son also really enjoyed having his mommy visit his class!

Something I’ve learned from writing for Jr.: Trimming down my writing. I love words, so I’m always over the word count!

Sivi Sekula: Newsflash

City: Jerusalem

Favorite nosh: It’s a tie between sour sticks and spicy popcorn

First Jr. article: It was a feature about airplanes that went missing. The editor, Libby Tescher, wanted it to be really dramatic. Each segment ended up reading like a story, which was a lot of fun to write.

Memorable feedback: I recently called a relative of mine and her young daughter answered the phone. I told her my name and asked if her mother was available. She wasn’t. A few minutes later, my relative called me back and the first thing she said was that her daughter had been so excited to talk to me. Apparently, she enjoys reading my articles in Jr.!

Something you learned from writing for Jr.: As a kid, I imagined myself writing for adults. Writing for Jr. has shown me that writing for kids is totally awesome, too!

Rachel Atkins: Jolly Solly, You Can Read — Dov & Dina series

City: London

Favorite nosh: Huffle-puffles! Just kidding. It’s: 1) chocolate, 2) chocolate, and 3) more chocolate!

First Jr. article: Jolly Solly and the Red Balloon. My editor was Tzirel Strassman (who has now stepped in for Libby following her simchah). I used to be Tzirel’s English teacher in high school and mark her essays, so it was very funny to have the tables turned, with my former student editing my work!

Something you learned writing for Jr.: Stories can have an impact, even if they are fictional. Also, looking on the bright side makes life so much happier. In one of the stories, Jolly Solly missed the bus. Instead of complaining, he grinned and announced, “Why, I’m early for the next one!” As the words of Jolly Solly’s favorite song goes: Mitzvah gedolah lihiyos b’simchah!

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 800)

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