|That's me, Pattie Weiss Levy.
A Modern-Day "Ima"
on a Modern-Day Bimah
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Saturday, December 27, 2014
A Word From the Weiss
No, I assure you, this is not a case of Festivus for the Rest of Us. It’s
just that after eight straight nights of latkes, I was invited to a friend’s house for Christmas Eve dinner, and I was
doing my best to get into the spirit of the holiday. And yes, wearing red and green with a gold Star of David was the best
I could do to get into the spirit of the holiday.
I also am doing my level best to be prepared to move on to yet
another year. But let’s face it – I’m not ready for 2014 to end any more than I’m ready for 2015 to
begin. I mean, how can I be set for New Year’s Eve when I still haven't managed to finish my account of Thanksgiving?
I left off my saga about that all-American celebration on the night of Allegra’s first CD release party. She had
breezed in from Hong Kong along with her witty boyfriend JP to launch her CD in NYC. But after surviving these festivities-slash-ordeal,
I passed out past 2 a.m. on the eve of Thanksgiving, moments after it dawned on me that I still had to cook a turkey and all
the trimmings, then help host another CD release back home.
Everyone knows that the day before Thanksgiving is the second worst travel day of the year (surpassed only by the Sunday
after Thanksgiving). A dire forecast for snow and sleet only enhanced our resolve to get an early start back to Connecticut.
But after the hectic days we had just endured, that just wasn’t gonna happen.
By the time we had emptied our
hotel rooms and made our exit, it was already noon. Since we had been obliged to pick up Allegra and JP almost simultaneously
at two different airports, my husband and I had driven two cars into the city – a fortuitous thing, since we now needed
to transport our son Aidan and his girlfriend Kaitlin home from Harlem too, and there was no way all six of us and
our luggage would fit into a single car.
The fact was that Allegra had schlepped so many gifts and other hazzerei from Hong Kong that we could barely
fit all of her luggage into my car. So after a nice bellhop named Sal had crammed in as much as he possibly could, he assured
us that he'd put the rest into my husband’s car. This seemed like a foolproof plan, since my husband took over my spot
in the loading area out front the second I drove off.
Well, maybe "foolproof" was a bit optimistic. Because
even though we are evidently fools, we managed to flub it.
About an hour after I’d left the city, my husband wrote
to say that, thanks to holiday gridlock, he had just reached Aidan’s place in Harlem, only to realize that one of his
bags was missing. Upon further inspection, he realized that both of his bags and JP’s suitcase were missing too.
It turned out that when he had pulled up to the hotel right after us, Sal had mysteriously disappeared. And after glancing
around the lobby, my husband had taken someone else’s bags erroneously, assuming they were ours.
It took him another hour to return
to the hotel, retrieve the right bags, relinquish the wrong ones, and head for home in even heavier holiday traffic, not to
mention snow and descending darkness. Boy, did I feel guilty!
Our plan had been to take everyone out to dinner that night so that I wouldn’t have to quickly cook and clean
for the crowd on top of starting to make Thanksgiving dinner. But by the time the second car at long last arrived, everyone
was too beat to move.
The best I could do was to subject JP to a terrible first impression of our country and the state by sending
out for horrifically mediocre, lukewarm takeout Chinese food.
The next day, I must say, remains little more than a blur. I woke up having not prepared a single thing, and somehow
managed to bake two pumpkin pies from scratch, then prepare copious hors d’oeuvres, a turkey, homemade stuffing, sweet
potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green beans, and gravy, and get it all on the table by 6 p.m.
Then our good friends Pat and Michael
stopped in to see Allegra and meet JP. After that, everyone was in such a food stupor that I cleaned up almost single-handedly.
The next day, even more friends stopped by to see Allegra and yes, meet JP.
That day was also what they call Black Friday, which I believe has something to do with doors, or busters, or getting
a leg up on the next holiday. (It is not a turkey leg, I think.) Personally, I prefer to take my holidays one at a time. (Remember
the travesty that was Thanksgivukkah last year? Need I say more?!?) But Allegra, excited to be back on capitalist U.S. soil,
prevailed upon me to take Kaitlin and her to the mall.
As it happened, we had another guest for the occasion. Alex, the very sweet son of my friend Lisa, my BFF since childhood,
had joined us from Boston, where he is in grad school. He had a Megabus ticket home for early that evening, and I could not
imagine abandoning him for the rest of the afternoon. So I invited him to come along for the ride.
I had been shopping with these girls before, and I knew in my heart of hearts that the chances of my getting them out
of the mall in time to make Alex’s bus were slim to none. But I told myself it was still within the realm of possibility,
if only along the lines of that scene in the movie Dumb and Dumber, when a beautiful actress tells Jim Carrey’s
character Lloyd Christmas that the chances of her dating him are one in a million, to which he responds elatedly, “So
you're saying there’s a chance!”
And there might have been had it not been for the ensuing Black
The girls’ favorite store, Express, was extremely well stocked for the holiday sale. So they stepped into the
dressing room and did not emerge until each of them had tried on all 5,000 or so garments they had brought in with them, all
of which, unfortunately, fit.
There was no express line at Express, of course,
particularly on Black Friday.
By the time we had checked out and driven many miles at breakneck speed to the Megabus stop, there was a mega disaster
-- no bus in sight. Had it never come? Had it already left? Either way, there was not another one scheduled until Sunday.
I had no choice but to bring poor Alex back home. Then I took everyone out to dinner (since they’d already demolished
the leftover turkey for lunch). Then I drove Alex all the way back to the real bus station in plenty of time to put him on
The next day, it was already time for Allegra to prepare for her show that night. For the New York show, we had expected
dozens of people, but this one, being on a Saturday night and so close to home, would draw at least twice as many.
At least this time she would not be obliged to perform live with musicians she had never even met. For the hometown
show, she had engaged a group of players she knew well. Some she had performed with for years. One, she had known her whole
When she had initially asked her brother if he would like to perform with her, Aidan, who plays the baritone sax, had
staunchly declined. It wasn’t just that he was busy with both grad school and a looming deadline for the book he is
writing. He said that it should be her night and hers alone.
She had continued to plead with him nonetheless.
But it was not until he’d arrived home from the city with his sax case in tow that we knew he had finally succumbed.
The rest of the band arrived mid-afternoon to begin to rehearse in our living room. Seeing all those guys march in,
I knew that I had better rustle up some grub. I also figured that Allegra might invite multitudes back to the house after
the show. So along with all sorts of drinks, snacks and a pizza, I picked up a sheet cake at the market on which I had the
bakery department write the name of her CD.
After all, it was kind of its birthday, wasn’t it?
By the time I’d gotten home, Allegra had
changed into a seriously slinky red dress. It was almost showtime!
Black-Eyed Sally’s in Hartford, CT, tends to be a raucous scene on almost any night. But this was not almost any
night. I had booked a table for 16 just to seat our own family and many of our closest friends. But stories about Allegra
had run that week in all of the local papers, and her dad and I had managed to plaster posters all over town.
So there wasn’t just not
a spare seat in the house. It was truly standing room only.
Gazing out at the crowd after she’d sung her opening number, Allegra joked that it reminded her of her bat mitzvah.
It reminded me a lot of that, too. With so many people I knew there, I felt obliged to circulate from table to table and welcome
every one of them.
This was made all the more exhausting by the fact that I mysteriously had come down with a severe case of food poisoning
the night before and could barely stand up. But that didn’t stop me from making the rounds repeatedly… nor from
kvelling wildly to see both of my kids perform.
It also didn’t prevent me from dragging poor JP around the
room with me. Allegra may have been the star attraction, but everyone wanted to meet him too, and I began to think his initials
stood for Jovial and Patient. He may not have remembered the names of all 100 or so people to whom he was introduced, but
he was relentlessly charming and an awfully good sport.
With luck, Allegra only invited a small crowd back home for cake afterwards. Because the next morning we had to get
up, pack up, and go back to the city again.
I am not going to bore you with every detail of the rest of our
excursion. Suffice it to say that JP is no longer a stranger to NYC. He has seen it all.
And seen it all in too short a time. After being away for almost five months, Allegra wanted to catch up with everyone
she had ever met. And they all wanted to meet JP, who (whether he wanted to meet half of New York or not) was still being
a good sport.
The only quiet and truly tranquil moment I can remember is when the two of them let us join them late
one morning on a scenic stroll through Central Park.
The rest was just a whirlwind of eating, sightseeing and seeing people round the clock, which reached epic proportions
on their last day thanks to a grave miscalculation.
Before Allegra had arrived home, she had mentioned that her good friend Mystral wanted to go on a double date with her
and JP to a Broadway show. But with the two CD release shows and Thanksgiving factored in, the only night that they were available
to go was Allegra’s last night in New York.
The show they wanted to see was Cabaret, starring actress
“Wouldn’t you rather see something a bit more upbeat on your last night home?” I asked. “Something
without Nazis, perhaps?”
Cabaret was the least cheery show
I could think of.
Why, even among shows about Nazis, it was the least cheery
show I could think of.
Never mind that the tickets were also enormously expensive. They went out and bought them anyway. And since it was Allegra’s
last night home, I went online and bought four more tickets on Theatermania so that Aidan, Kaitlin, and my husband and I could
go along too.
It was only after this that it occurred to me that Allegra had made a major gaffe.
She had told me she and JP were
flying out on Wednesday night December 3 at 12:50 a.m. But I suddenly realized that December 3 at 12:50 a.m. was Tuesday
night. They weren’t leaving for Hong Kong the next day. They were leaving right after the show.
In fact, the show ended at 9:30
p.m. and they were supposed to be at JFK 20 minutes later. Never mind that we’d have to get the car and JFK is about
an hour away.
But we already had eight pricey tickets, so somehow we'd have to make it work.
It didn’t help that Allegra
tried to fit a lifetime of activity into that very last day.
She and JP met a friend for breakfast. Then they met a friend for coffee. Then they met another friend for lunch. Then
they went to the holiday market at Columbus Circle. Then we met up with them and went to the Apple Store to try to buy her
a new phone.
Then we went to the Museum of Modern Art and saw the amazing Matisse exhibit.
Then we met up with Aidan, Kaitlin,
and Mystral for our very last supper out together at a lovely Italian restaurant near the theater called Da Tomasso, where
we surprised Allegra and JP by singing happy birthday to them both two weeks in advance.
Then, suddenly, it was showtime
all over again.
I must confess that Allegra was right – Emma Stone really shone in the part of Sally Bowles. And
although her singing may not be anything to write home about, or even to write a blog about, that only enhanced her credibility
in the part of a pathetic, aspiring chanteuse.
Alan Cumming, meanwhile, was no less than astonishing in the Joel Grey role.
And still… it was indeed
about the least cheery show ever, with or without Nazis.
No matter. Suddenly the lights went up, and we were among
the least cheery people ever.
Racing to the car, which was parked in the garage next door, Allegra became
distraught upon discovering that she had left my scarf and hat, which she had borrowed, back in the theater. She became even
more frantic to realize that Aidan and Kaitlin were still inside as well and she hadn’t gotten to say goodbye.
So after we got the car, I pulled
around the corner and let her jump out and bid the kids a hurried farewell. (There was no time to search for the lost items.)
Then she got back into the car and really became hysterical.
Is it any wonder that I began to wail
To top it all off, a torrential rain had begun to fall. I don’t know which was harder to see through, the
veil of tears on my face or the canvas of raindrops on my fogged-up windshield.
All I know is that I was behind
the wheel the whole way there, navigating through heavy precipitation and fog and even heavier holiday traffic all the way
to the airport.
I was terrified that they wouldn’t make their plane.
I also was terrified that they would.
When we reached their terminal, I bounded out of the car to hug them both goodbye. Late as they were, it was hard to
let go. To say that Allegra and I both lost it would be the understatement of the year.
Then, although we had managed to
deposit them two hours in advance, we stayed parked outside until nearly midnight awaiting confirmation that they would get
onto their flight.
To my great relief, as well as grief, they would. And did.
Then I crashed.
No, not the car. In spirit. After
10 days of being on the go nonstop, it was hard to get out of bed.
I was tired. So tired. Thanksgiving and two
bat mitzvahs in a row will do that to you.
But mostly, I was very sad. Getting used to having my daughter back? That had been a breeze. But having her gone in
a flash all over again was somehow even harder than her leaving had been the first time around. Because when she had left
last June, it had been for only three months. That, at least, had been the plan.
Now there was no real plan. And
nearly a month later, there still isn’t.
I don’t know when she will be back here.
I don’t know when I might go back there.
But whenever I feel a twinge of despair, I remember that last
night at JFK and the words that she whispered in my ear.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger said them in The Terminator series, it was a threat.
When my daughter whispered them
to me, it was a promise. A promise that she is sure to keep.
“I’ll be back.”
I don’t know when. I don’t
know how. But I know she will.
And knowing that time will bring her back,
I guess I'm really ready to move on.
To hear Allegra sing her song "I Don't Want to Be in Love" at Black-Eyed Sally's, click on this
YouTube link: http://youtu.be/J_HGtZ0SO7Q
To hear her sing her song "The Duet" there, click here: http://youtu.be/RkjQS65MJe8
Friday, December 19, 2014
A Word From the Weiss
Happy Hanukkah from all of us at NiceJewishMom.com,
including Latke, who has finally learned to chime in during the blessing over the candles each night, but remains a bit baffled
to hear her name bandied about much more than usual at this time of year.
assume you’re as busy as I am and won’t mind if I keep it short and sweet this week. For here in the land of the
Levys, there’s much to do… and much to celebrate.
First of all, I must give
a big shout-out and hearty congratulations to my son Aidan. We all know about the valiant Maccabees and the oil that burned
for eight days and nights. But poor Aidan has been burning the candle at both ends now for eight whole months of days and nights! That’s because he got a book contract last spring, and soon after that he was accepted
to grad school. Which of these golden opportunities would he choose to accept? If you knew Aidan like I know Aidan, then you’d
know the answer.
Both, of course.
He started his Ph. D in English at Columbia in September, but kept plugging away
on the book and turned in a 450-page manuscript this past Tuesday night, just in time to make his deadline and light the Hanukkah
lights. Talk about modern miracles! (Excuse me if I can’t keep my kvelling down to a dull roar. But I’m not just a nice Jewish mom – I’m a very proud one!)
to be outdone, his sister Allegra had yet a third release party for her new CD this past Wednesday night. But to my infinite
frustration, I could only be there in spirit this time, and had to settle for ogling the few photos posted afterwards on Facebook.
This one, after all, was held a bit far away – at a club called Orange Peel in Hong Kong!
As if this weren’t enough cause to celebrate, Allegra turned 25 the very next
day. By odd coincidence (or beshert?), that happened to
be her boyfriend JP’s birthday too.
To my added frustration, the care package
bearing both Chanukah and birthday gifts that I’d mailed them from the States failed to arrive on time. But having limited
faith in the U.S. postal service, and even less in its Chinese cohort, I had a back-up plan.
It was tough enough that I wouldn’t get to see my girl (er, young woman) on
her big day this year. Never mind that we already had given her a special, high-tech birthday gift while she was home for
Thanksgiving, and had even done some birthday pre-gaming by lighting a candle atop a slice of cake in advance. A birthday
like this one was too much of a milestone to let pass without some kind of substantial acknowledgment.
So I sprang for sending her flowers on the actual day, all the way to Hong Kong.
For good measure, and added festivity, I threw in a bottle of champagne. (Well, “sparkling wine,” anyway. I did
not spring for the actual Moet & Chandon.) I’d prefer that my husband not know what this splurge cost, so I’m
not about to tell you either. Suffice it to say that when I realized she might not receive these items if she wasn’t
home when they arrived, I began to bite not just my fingernails, but toenails as well.
without the Hanukkah supplies I’d sent from home, Allegra ventured forth the day that the holiday began in search of
latkes, candles, and a menorah.
She went to Ohel Leah, the synagogue that is the epicenter of Hong Kong Jewish life.
When we’d gone there with her in September to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, an Israeli-sounding man out front had demanded
to see our passports and interrogated us aggressively before finally believing that we were actually there for the right reasons.
Now, without we alter cockers
in tow, poor Allegra was truly given the third degree. (Mysteriously, she noted, this fellow displayed no such suspicion about
JP, who does not exactly look Jewish.) This time, the cross examination was so rigorous that she found herself delineating
the details of her Jewish upbringing – five years attending a Solomon Schechter Day School, followed by a bat mitzvah
and Confirmation class. Then she volunteered to recite any prayer that her interrogator might request in Hebrew.
last she was allowed in, only to discover that the Judaica shop inside was closed.
When she began to inquire about when the store might open again, a young mother retrieving
her children from religious school overheard and began haranguing the little boy she had in tow. The youngster had evidently
just finished fashioning a hand-made menorah in class, and the mother urged him earnestly to retrieve it from his backpack.
She wanted him to give his freshly painted creation to Allegra.
the child, who was all of about 5, was reluctant to comply. “No!’ he retorted flatly.
the mom persisted sweetly, urging him to “do a mitzvah” again and again.
touching as the woman’s magnanimity might be, Allegra was mostly mortified.
would’ve been embarrassed to take a kid’s handmade work!” she later stated on Facebook. Accepting the boy’s
menorah would’ve been like taking candy from a baby.
This awkward exchange
gave her a sudden flash of inspiration, though. After all, if there's one thing Allegra has learned from all her years singing
jazz, it is how to improvise.
With luck, she managed to find Chanukah candles
at a market. She also bought some paper cups. Then she went home, covered eight of the cups with aluminum foil, poked a candle
through the bottom of each, and viola! Instant homemade menorah.
(By the way, I never would’ve asked her to relinquish this handiwork to a stranger.
Even at the not-so-tender age of 25.)
Her work was far from over, though. She
still had to prepare a Hanukkah meal.
The package that was still somewhere in
transit had included a box of latke mix. At home, I never use a mix, and neither does she. We always make latkes from scratch.
(For the recipe posted on my website, see the navigation bar at right.)
I’d sent the mix
because she had extremely limited cooking equipment in Hong Kong. At the very least, I knew she didn’t have a food processor.
When I was young, I was the one in my family who grated the potatoes for latkes each
year. I did this using an old-fashioned metal grater, and I can still feel how sore my knuckles would be by the time I was
done with this medieval instrument of torture. Now that I’m grown up, I use a Cuisinart instead. That may defy tradition,
but it’s fast and painless, and the results? They taste just fine.
But Allegra is not one to stand on ceremony, nor to consider celebrating Hanukkah
without latkes. She bought a cheap metal grater, shredded the heck of a bag of spuds, and managed to fry up an impressive
batch of potato pancakes.
Meanwhile, her nice Jewish friend Matt threw some kosher meat
on the grill.
Needless to say, no one at her holiday dinner seemed to have any complaints.
fact, the only one involved who remained a bit disgruntled may have been me.
with the menorah and Hanukkah candles I’d sent, I also had enclosed some festive birthday candles and small gifts for
both Allegra and JP. Even if the holiday paraphernalia didn’t arrive by Tuesday, there were eight more nights to the
Festival of Lights. But there was only one actual birthday between the two of them, and I wanted them to receive something.
Especially when my daughter was so far away from home.
That’s why I sent
her the flowers. And the “champagne,” which was for them both.
The florist also offered the option to attach a birthday balloon, but I thought the
champagne was far more appropriate at her age. When I turned 25, my father took me out to dinner and gave me a wristwatch,
but also a big stuffed Snoopy doll. I guess he wasn’t quite ready for me to grow up and needed to remind me that I was
still his kid.
At 25, my own daughter is grown up enough to live on the other side of the globe.
And wants us to know it. No balloons. And definitely no dolls. I went for the champagne.
to make sure she was home to receive my delivery, I was obliged to spill the beans. Well, some of ’em, anyway. I had
to admit something was on the way. But I didn’t say what.
And that was probably a good thing, because when the delivery arrived, on the right
day, the “champagne” turned out to be some sort of sparkling elderflower mint wine.
was thrilled – enough so to post a photo of the flowers and bottle on Facebook, along with a message thanking us both
and saying how excited she was.
They did not, however, open the elderberry mint
wine. She’s saving it, she said. For what, she didn’t say.
Three days later, the box that I mailed still had yet to arrive. No matter. Thanks
to the modern miracle of FaceTime, we’re managing to light the candles and sing together each night (although with the
13-hour time difference, it’s actually morning for her).
Fortunately, there are
still a few more nights left to the Festival of Lights. I hope she gets to use the menorah that I sent at least once. Will
there be another Hanukkah miracle? Even in Hong Kong? I may lack faith in the postal service. But I do have faith. We’ll
Friday, December 12, 2014
A Word From the Weiss
If you think that the holidays are a hectic time, then you don’t know the
half of it.
My half of it, that is.
When I learned that my daughter
Allegra had to fly in from Hong Kong sometime last month to officially release her brand new CD – “Lonely City,”
on the SteepleChase Lookout label – I urged her to come in for the week of Thanksgiving. Never once in her life had
she missed out on my famous homemade pumpkin pie, and I wasn’t about to let her start now. What I failed to take into
consideration was that this would involve throwing two CD release parties during that already action (and poultry) packed
week, one each in New York and Connecticut, to which we would invite practically everyone we knew.
OK, in all fairness to her, she was the one who’d do all
the singing at these events – severely jetlagged, no less, thanks to a 13-hour time difference and a 16-hour flight.
All I would need to do was clean the house, lure people to the release parties, circulate among the guests who came, and cook
up a high-calorie storm.
But if you think all that is no big deal, then let me tell you what it felt like
to spend weeks frantically cleaning and redecorating the house, then go to the city for three hectic days and nights, then
race home and prepare the turkey, side dishes, and desserts all in one grueling day… and then turn around and grapple
with another, even bigger show. It was essentially like running a marathon, sandwiched between throwing two bat mitzvahs back
Not exactly the restful and relaxing family reunion that I had initially had in mind.
Perhaps you wonder why in the midst of all that I had to redecorate the house. After all, neither of the release parties
would be held there. The problem was that Allegra was not coming home from Hong Kong all alone. Her eminently likable and
charming boyfriend JP had graciously accepted our invitation to join her. That meant that it was time to bite the bullet and
trade up from the narrow twin bed and little girl bedding still inside her room.
Allegra also had mentioned in passing
that JP’s own parents were avid neatniks. We, needless to say, are not. Although we had done a major purge when I threw
my husband a 70th birthday bash last summer, cleaning the living room for the party had consisted mainly of moving much of
the clutter upstairs. During the visit, JP would venture both upstairs and down, and we didn’t want to embarrass our
daughter – or ourselves.
So I hope it won’t embarrass her too much to mention that her room, in particular, was in no shape to receive
company. On the contrary, she hadn’t done much purging herself since we’d first moved in 15 years ago. Neither,
in all fairness to her, had my son, but girls tend to accumulate more. Much more. I’d implored her repeatedly
to throw things out, but she merely brought more home from college after every year. The result? Her desk, dresser, and drawers
were liberally littered with old homework assignments, clothing, nail polish, makeup, and other decades-old detritus, much
of which had preceded the Clinton Administration.
For her sake, and ours, I felt like the statute of limitations was up and it was time to take action at last. But she
was now living in Hong Kong, so the cleanup and dirty work fell to me. With her permission to throw out anything and everything,
I spent four solid days in her room, which, along with a treasure trove of trash, yielded nearly a dozen bags to donate to
Then I set about procuring not just a new queen-sized mattress and box spring, but new bedding and a headboard to match.
Alas, the latter arrived in a box bearing the three most dreaded words known to man or nice Jewish mom kind: "Some assembly required."
But with persistence, elbow grease,
and an Allen wrench (not to mention the willingness to read instructions, the gene for which is notably lacking in Nice Jewish
Dad), I eventually prevailed.
With Allegra about to turn 25, it was also time for the Snow White poster that read “…And they lived happily
ever after” to be happily relegated to the basement.
In its place, I put a tasteful floral watercolor that matched the still-lavender
I also stashed her 700 or so stuffed animals, ranging from teeny Beanie Babies to a gi-normous teddy bear,
discreetly in the closet.
Then, while I was at it, it was high time to replace all of the cutesy pink curtains,
rugs, and towels in her bathroom … the ones that had been left by our home’s last owner and Allegra had never
even liked. I found a vibrant, deep violet curtain in a style called Gigi at Bed, Bath & Beyond instead and picked up
accessories to match.
Voilà! She and her childhood quarters had graduated from middle school at last.
Sadly, after all this effort, we would have to wait a few more days for the big reveal. Since the New York show was
the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, we would spend our first three nights in the city after picking up Allegra and JP on
Sunday at the airport.
Airports, actually. Due to complications, they were obliged to travel on separate airlines. JP
would arrive at JFK a little past noon, and Allegra would follow shortly after, miles away in Newark. So my husband and I
were obliged to make the 2½ hour trek from Connecticut in two separate cars in order to pick them up almost simultaneously.
It fell to me to fetch JP, so the screaming scene that ensued when I first laid eyes on my daughter again only managed
to deafen anyone standing in a ten-block radius of the lobby of our hotel.
That decibel level was thankfully
muted somewhat when Allegra was exuberantly reunited that evening with her brother Aidan, his girlfriend Kaitlin, and her
longtime BFF Michelle at our favorite French bistro, La Lunchonette, on 18th and Tenth Avenue.
Allegra had decisively chosen to introduce JP to her adopted hometown by taking him not to the reputed best restaurants
in NYC, but the ones she knew best and loved.
But we couldn’t resist throwing in a tacky tourist attraction
or two, like the Tick Tock Diner on Eighth Avenue and 34th Street, where we chowed down on trayf and eggs the
Then, still severely jetlagged, they hit the ground running with shopping at Macy’s, a hike along the trendy Highline,
and a swift tour of the posh shops in Chelsea Market before taking the tram to Roosevelt Island to visit her NYC apartment
and much-missed roommate Jamie.
By then it was already time to race down to the West Village for dinner with our
friend Liz at Po, our favorite Italian ristorante, and that’s when the chaos really kicked in.
In trying to attract people to
attend the release shows, I had sent out about 75 e-vites in three different forms – one for the people who might come
to the New York show, one to those more likely to attend the one in Connecticut, and a third to those who might come to either
one or both.
With major stories about Allegra running in several Connecticut
papers, we knew the hometown show was bound to sell out. Filling the NYC show was
an iffier proposition, however. Or so we thought until that night. The Cornelia Street Café, the trendy venue where
it would be held, happens to be right next door to Po, and on the way in we stopped by and learned that the show was
not only sold out, but had been overbooked.
This, of course, was very good news, but good news with a catch.
Instead of worrying that she would be unable to fill the joint, we now feared that many of her friends and ours would show
up without reservations and be unable to get a seat.
To exacerbate that worry, I received a call from my good friend Suzanne during dinner asking if she and her husband
could attend. Rather than calling the club, I got up in the middle of the meal and ran next door to secure two more seats…
only to get a text upon my return asking if she could bring her son as well. Oy!
Meanwhile, Allegra and JP raced
through dinner because she had to be back at her hotel room by 7:30 to be interviewed live during an hour-long
My husband and I returned to our own room and listened to the entire broadcast in mounting exasperation.
As nice as it was to get the publicity, the show host had clearly not bothered to listen to her CD beforehand and struggled
to come up with questions. Allegra was also losing her voice.
Afterwards, half a dozen of her closest friends showed up to go
out with her. But she was so exhausted already that I prevailed upon her to have a little party in the hotel, for which I
had brought along some wine and cheese just in case. I wanted her to reserve as much energy as possible for showtime the next
I would like to think it was one of those rare cases of Nice Jewish Mom knows best, because as eager as
she was to visit with her friends, she was ready to pass out before long.
The next morning started off well enough. When Allegra called early to say that she and JP were awake, famished,
and bent on eating bagels – the one thing that she missed most about New York – I managed to find a place within
two blocks called Best Bagel and Coffee that indeed boasted what were arguably among the New York City’s finest.
Then, however, it might be fair to say that all hell broke loose.
With the show scheduled for that evening, there
was an awful lot left to be done. Allegra would be performing with five other top-notch musicians, some of whom she had never
even met before. But she had been unable to find a time to rehearse with any of them other than her pianist. They would meet
for the first time right before the show!
Since they would only be performing the 11 tunes on her new album, all
of which she had written herself, she had to provide sheet music for all five instruments involved. She went out to make copies
of the songs and buy folders in which to assemble them in order. Then we spent hours in her hotel room carefully taping the
multiple sheets of each song together and arranging them in clear plastic sleeves inside.
By the time we were done doing this, she was an hour late to her rehearsal with the pianist, which was an hour away
by subway in Brooklyn. This meant that she would not get to take the nap that she desperately needed. It also meant that her
planned two-hour rehearsal, which was already vastly insufficient, would have to be cut in half.
It also meant that she would have
to go directly from the rehearsal to the family dinner we were having at the café before the show. Like many performers,
Allegra can get edgy before big performances -- so much so that I’m inclined to hide under furniture, or at
least give her some space. Realizing that she couldn’t possibly schlep all those folders by herself, though,
along with her gown and other accoutrements, I insisted on going along for the ride.
Minutes after we left, JP texted that she had inadvertently left behind the chicken soup she’d planned to bring
along for energy. “She needs to eat!” he wrote. His initials evidently stand for “Jewish Parent”…
as though one nice Jewish mom weren’t enough.
As we raced to the subway carrying a gazillion bags, I realized
that I was beyond stressed out too. Would we get to Brooklyn in time for them to practice every song? Would we show up
egregiously late to the dinner with my brother and sister-in-law, who were coming in from Long Island on a weeknight to see
her perform? Would friends be furious at us when they arrived at the club and couldn’t get in?
“Epiphany” might be too highfalutin a term to describe what hit me as we waited on the platform for the
IRT. But it suddenly sank in that it was one of those major life events – like holiday celebrations, graduations, bar
and bat mitzvahs, and weddings – that are supposed to be the highlights of your life. But are they really?
I had been looking forward to the
coming evening with bated breath for weeks. But now that it was upon us, the only thing I really looked forward to was having
it be over.
Allegra tried to grab a catnap on the train while resting her head on my shoulder, but a homeless
man walked through giving a loud plea for handouts and put an end to that.
We got lost in Brooklyn and wandered around for blocks before finally finding the building where she was meeting Carmen
Staaf, the amazing pianist who plays on the album and who had flown in from the world-renowned Thelonious Monk Institute in
LA to perform at the show.
But somehow the moment they started to play together, everyone began to relax, including me. This wasn’t about
who came to the show or whether they got seats. It was about the music, and my daughter, and how amazing she is.
Somehow, the girls also managed to get through all 11 tunes more or less by the time I told them it was time to get
dressed or else. Allegra walked into the bathroom looking tired and a little bedraggled in jeans, and 10 minutes later, sporting
rich ruby lacquered lips, a black lace gown, and rhinestone-encrusted heels, she emerged – a star.
Carmen’s talented boyfriend
Julian, a nice Jewish boy and renowned pianist himself, valiantly helped us schlep everything back to Manhattan on the subway.
I could hardly breathe as I counted down all 17 or so stops from Greenpoint to West 4th Street.
But our train pulled in and we stepped into the club for our 7 p.m. dinner on the dot of 7. Aidan, Kaitlin and my relatives
were already in the restaurant upstairs, as were my husband and JP. People began lining up soon after.
I could hardly eat a bite, I was
Then we filed down to the compact, intimate jazz club in the basement. The rest of the musicians had
arrived by now and managed to fit in a hasty rehearsal before the show began.
I kept bounding up out of my seat to greet the many people I knew who showed up, including good friends
from home, good friends from the city, my friend Suzanne with both her husband and son, and a lovely woman named Heike whom
I’d met only once in Allegra’s elevator on Roosevelt Island and become friends with on Facebook. (She not only
came, but brought five friends of her own!)
I caught my breath as the lights dimmed and my daughter launched into “Anxiety,” her opening number.
Then she welcomed the crowd warmly before going into the next song, a sassy samba number called “I Don’t
Want to Be in Love.”
Seeing her sing with confidence, aplomb and perfectly executed scat solos before
what was indeed a completely sold-out crowd, I couldn’t help but kvell.
After taking a short break, she sang the rest of the numbers on the disc, concluding with the title song and another
that is my personal favorite, a gorgeous, haunting ballad called “The Duet” on which her dear friend Aubrey sang
Then she thanked not just the band, but her parents and her brother, along with “anyone who has ever
contributed to my life.” I guess that included me on two counts.
A mom so nice she thanked me twice?
After the applause died down, we lingered so long visiting with friends that the club had to politely ask us to leave.
Then Allegra, JP, and her remaining entourage repaired to a nearby pizza joint, where her appetite and mine abruptly reappeared
at last – big time!
By the time we'd gotten back to our hotel, it was well past 2 a.m. Now I was
so elated that I could hardly sleep. Maybe those big moments are a big part of what we live for, after all… although
I will take sitting around in our pajamas together almost any day.
Fortunately, the coming days would bring a bit
of both. But as I closed my eyes that night at last, it hit me like a sack of potatoes – the sweet ones I’d cook
the next day. I would have to get up the next morning, pack, drive home in heavy traffic, and then start preparing Thanksgiving
dinner. Then two nights later we’d have to do the whole routine all over again, only with more people at a bigger club.
To hear Allegra sing "Lonely City," the title song from her album, at her show at the Cornelia
Street Café, click on this link: http://youtu.be/D0YVmblpUdY
To hear her sing the closing song from her album, "The Duet," click on this link: http://youtu.be/1XigEBgWTU4?list=PLr1srRLVT86aD4Ujjj8ILp8dC9xQn-_fX
Friday, December 5, 2014
A Word From the Weiss
“You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s,”
stated the classic 1961 ad campaign for the popular rye bread. Similarly, you don’t need to keep kosher to love Kosherfest.
You do, however, have to be either a member of the food trade or the press to attend. So before your mouth begins watering
over the ruggelach, potato latkes, frozen desserts, and other goodies that I saw or tasted there last month, bear in mind
that this annual event is not open to the public.
Having previously attended the world’s largest kosher-certified products trade show, held in the Meadowlands Expo
Center, I knew that there were two crucial things I needed to bring along with me: a hearty appetite and an empty bag in which
to accommodate the dizzying variety of samples offered. For the operative word there is “free.”
This year, however, when I returned to scope out exciting new products worthy of my attention and my highest accolade
– the Nice Jewish Mom Spiel of Approval (I tried it! I liked it!) – I discovered that “free” didn’t
just mean free of charge. Nor was it necessarily just free of pork, shellfish, milk mixed with meat, and other ingredients
or properties prohibited by the laws of kashrut.
The latest offerings from the kosher food industry would leave your poor bubbe scratching her sheitel
(Yiddish for wig). For unlike my dearly departed nice Jewish Grandma Sadie, who merely aimed to offer helpings big enough
to keep everyone alive and well (or at least well-padded), today’s kosher cook is evidently bent on finding foods that
are free of gluten, dairy, fat, cholesterol, sugar, chemical additives, and the newest food obsession on the horizon (oy,
Gut in himmel!), genetically modified organisms, otherwise known as GMOs.
“We are the first kosher company to have a non-GMO verification,” declared Mark Weinstein, CEO of Manischewitz,
the company that is the undisputed big kahuna of the kosher product world.
As it happens, two of his three
children happen to have issues with gluten. But that's not why the company offers this as an option, along with its other
varieties of matzo that cater to dietary restrictions, including organic spelt, whole wheat, unsalted, Mediterranean, yolk-free
egg, and gluten-free Garlic & Rosemary matzo-style squares.
There is apparently such a healthy market for such health-conscious kosher items that the brand's gluten-free matzo
sold out last year. “My father-in-law likes the gluten-free matzo better,” Weinstein asserted. “It’s
crisper, he says.” But if crisp is not what you crave, then Manischewitz is also introducing a new gluten-free matzo
ball mix, which was named Kosherfest’s Best New Pasta, Rice, or Grain.
Meanwhile, its Carrot Cake Macaroons had been pronounced winner of the 2014 award for Best New Passover Product.
Is it any wonder that I whipped out a Spiel of Approval and proudly presented it?
Not to be outdone, competitor Streit’s
is also offering a gluten-free matzo ball mix and a gluten-free latke mix. “People are becoming very hyper-sensitive
to healthy food,” explained Aaron Gross, a fourth-generation scion of the famed family-run enterprise.
They are still working out a formula
for gluten-free matzo, which remains a challenge due to the “antiquated” process that they continue to use in
their factory on the Lower East Side. After all, they opened for business in 1916 and still make matzo the old-fashioned way.
But gluten-free is “the big thing in the food world now,” he said, so that is definitely in the works. “We’re
looking into different processes, like quinoa matzo,” Gross said. “We’re trying to appeal to our older core
consumer, but also the younger, more health-conscious consumer.”
Perhaps I fall somewhere between those two categories, for both their traditional and health-conscious products –
from soup nuts to whole wheat Israeli couscous – certainly appeal to me. So I enthusiastically bestowed another Spiel
of Approval. My nice Jewish mom and grandmother, who both swore by Streit’s, surely would have approved.
One thing they might not approve
of, though, or even have begun to understand (let alone pronounce), was a hot new product that instantly caught my eye,
And when I say hot, I do mean HOT. Srirachanaise, from Mikee (a company best known for its Chinese rib
sauce and duck sauce), was being billed as “The Sauce with an Attitude.” Served in small, salmon-colored dollops
atop sushi rolls being freshly prepared by two sushi chefs, it definitely had personality. And zing. And although, as a spicy
mayonnaise made with Sriracha sauce, it did pack some fat, it is devoid of gluten, cholesterol, dairy, MSG, and other chemical
additives. It is both vegan and GMO-free.
“I bet my father I would win best in show, and I did,” said company president Peter S. Kaufman
proudly of his new concoction, which had garnered the 2014 Kosherfest award in the category of Best New Condiments, Sauces,
Dressings and Marinades.
His next goal is to make his sauce so popular that the brand becomes synonymous with
the category, the way that Kleenex has become interchangeable with the word “tissue,” he said.
“I want customers to ask in a restaurant, not ‘Do you have any spicy mayo?’ but, ‘Do you have any
I don’t know whether this mission will ever cut the mustard (or the spicy mayo),
but I’m a card-carrying sushi addict who always requests this tangy condiment on the side. So after listening to Kaufman’s
spiel, I appreciatively gave him one of mine.
Then I raced off to cool my palate with a frozen yogurt bar from
Klein’s. This frozen yogurt wasn’t just yogurt, though. It was frozen Greek yogurt, and it was totally fat-free.
Not that you would ever know that to taste it.
“We worked on it for over a year,” said Ari Klein.
“We wanted it to be fat free, with no artificial colors or flavors.”
The result? Their bars, which were introduced a few weeks ago, come in three
flavors that are all natural and yet unnaturally rich tasting, including blueberry (only 110 calories per bar), strawberry
(120 calories), and mango (140 calories).
I was instantly so enamored of the ultra-creamy blueberry variety that
he handed over a whole bar to me versus the small cut-up samples that everyone else was eating. For this I was so appreciative
that, after devouring it, I forked over a Spiel of Approval.
If you prefer to stick with dairy products that
are not on a stick, have I got a yogurt for you! Norman’s Dairy of Rutherford, NJ, has the distinction of being the
only company yet to introduce a yogurt that is certified as cholov Yisrael (a higher standard of kosher).
CEO Shulim Ostreicher was there to introduce her new yogurt line for the youngin’s, called Greek Kids, which comes
in four flavors – Vanilla 'n’ Chocobits, Strawberry Jubilee, Banana 'n’ Honey, and Creamy Orange Blast.
These come in kid-sized portions that pack only 90 calories each. Sounded good enough to eat at any age.
Being a bit more mature myself,
though, I opted instead to try a more grown-up variety, one of their new Creamy Blends in a flavor called Caramel Caffe Macchiato.
Better than Starbucks, if you ask me, and better for you, too! (Greek yogurt offers twice the protein of regular yogurt, Ostreicher
said.) Other tempting flavors include Summer Strawberry, Blissful Blueberry, Red Raspberry, and Vanilla Lavender.
Norman’s also has a Greek
Light line sweetened with Splenda that has only 100 calories. No wonder the company won for Best New Cheese or Dairy product
in 2012. So, although they didn’t nab any new awards at this year’s fest, I gave them one of mine.
Then I moved on to one of this
year’s winners, in the category of Best New Mix, a novel line of gluten-free flours known as Blends by Orly.
“There are a lot of ‘We happen to be gluten-free’ products floating around,” said founder Orly
Gottesman. “Our focus is on gluten-free only.”
Her gluten-free flours are not cake mixes, but
rather blends of gluten-free grains that you can substitute in your favorite recipes. These come in five international varieties,
including a Paris blend for cakes and cupcakes; a London blend for cookies; a Sydney blend for brownies, muffins, pies, and
crumb toppings; a Tuscany blend for pizza, focaccia, and flatbreads; and a Manhattan blend for bread, brioches, donuts, danishes,
and of course challah and bagels.
Although Orly is now based in Sydney, Australia, the mixes are available in 30 U.S. stores including Zabar’s and
Westside Market in NYC. You can also order online from www.blendsbyorly.com for $8.99 per bag or $39.99 for a variety pack including all five blends.
She came up with the concept in
large part because her husband suffers from celiac disease and cannot eat gluten. Too often, she says, when they go to someone’s
house for dinner, their hosts will have made a fancy dessert for everyone else and say to him, ‘Look, I made these brownies
just for you!’ ” And as thoughtful as it might be that they went to special effort on his behalf, he really would
prefer to eat the real dessert with everyone else.
“My mission is to make people who can’t eat gluten
feel normal,” she proclaimed.
This seemed like such a worthy sentiment that my mission became to make her feel
good, and I immediately presented her with a Nice Jewish Mom Spiel of Approval.
Also free of both gluten and GMOs are Osem’s new Gratify pretzels, which come in four flavors sure to gratify
anyone’s cravings, including white chocolate peppermint, peanut butter milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and dark chocolate
peppermint. Uh, yum!
An employee there said that they were a holiday item, to which I asked, “Holiday? Which
At this, he turned bright red, explaining that he did not want to say the “C” word. But another
member of the Osem team didn’t mince words or seem to mind one bit.
“This is a gluten-free product
for Christmas,” Osem director of marketing Kobi Afek explained. OK, we already have established that there’s a
major market for gluten-free. But wait. There are people looking for kosher products… for Christmas? Which
“Interfaith families, for example,” he explained.
At another booth there were sweets for the sweet-toothed who can tolerate gluten, but not dairy. David
Bader of Bucks County, PA, was there to introduce his new line of NoMoo Cookies, which are all-natural, totally kosher, and
dairy free. His Ginger Slap variety had been pronounced winner in the fest’s category of Best New Breads and Baked Goods.
But there were plenty of other flavors, and I was personally ready to give NoMoo a Spiel of Approval just for their
names alone. (They had me at Almond Oy! Not to mention Big Chipper, Open Sesame, Flyin’ Hawaiian, Oat-rageous, and Sugah
Sugah.) But the taste and texture ultimately clinched it when I bit into a ultra-fudgy Choco-lift (“the cookie that
eats like a brownie”).
These are available online for $19.99 a dozen at nomoocookies.com.
What do you drink to wash down dairy-free cookies? How about dairy-free “milk?”
KLBD Kosher London Beth Din, the UK agency that certifies that products are kosher, was there with some new dairy-
and gluten-free organic drinks from Rude Health. These come in four flavors – coconut, almond,
brown rice, and oat.
KLDB's Retail Food and Drink Manager Sharon Feldman-Vazan (who, being very properly English,
was anything but rude herself) said that she is now off dairy completely and even uses these refreshing and light beverages
(available at Whole Foods, as well as Waitrose and Ocado in the UK) when she makes cappuccinos.
Sounded like something definitely
worth trying – and when I did I found all four to be equally deelish and definitely worthy of my Spiel.
Speaking of worthy, I also felt
compelled to give a big shout-out (and yes, another Spiel of Approval) to two companies that I first encountered at last year’s
One was Matzolah, “The trail mix of the Exodus,” a granola made with Streit’s matzah that is a perfect
breakfast for Passover, but good enough to eat all year round.
Although they had not expanded their line beyond their three classic varieties – Maple Nut, Gluten-Free Cranberry
Orange, and my personal fave, Whole Wheat Maple Nut – they had refined their baking process to make the whole wheat
They were also now offering all three kinds in convenient single-portion
packs. What’s not to like about that?
The other company was The Kosher Cook, makers of a wide variety of kitchen utensils and holiday giftware,
whose company motto is “Keeping Kosher has never been easier.” Among their new offerings for the coming holiday
of Chanukah were platters imprinted “Keep Calm and Eat Latkes” and Star of David-shaped reusable ice cubes (available
at stories including Bed Bath & Beyond or online from www.thekoshercook.com).
To keep calm, cool and collected for Passover, they also had frog-shaped reusable ice cubes, as well as “Keep
Calm and Eat Matzah” platters, and aprons and oven mitts in their new “Mah Nishtana” pattern.
As a major devotee of another Jewish holiday, Purim – due to my many years moonlighting as the writer of my temple’s
Purim spiels – I also was moved to present a Spiel of Approval to a novel new confection called Chocla-Taschen, “A
Sweet Twist on a Classic Treat” from a fellow nice Jewish mom from Denver named Nina Rosenfeld.
“I designed a mold shaped
like a hamantaschen,” she pointed out about her all-natural creations, which come in both caramel-filled milk chocolate
and dark chocolate. These are gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, and yes, also free of GMO’s. The one thing that they
are definitely not free of is flavor. (I tried one. I liked it – a lot!)
To order, write her at email@example.com.
But the grand winner of my ultimate
Spiel of Approval would have to go to a product so healthy and innovative that it managed to snag Best New Product at the
DeeBee’s Organic TeaPops were created by a Canadian fetal toxicologist named Dionne Laslo-Baker who is the
mother of two sons, one of whom is unable to eat refined sugar. Like me, however, he particularly loved tea. According to
a company rep manning their booth, the pops were invented when one day that little boy said, “Mommy, let’s make
The result was kosher desserts so healthy that they are fat-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, and vegan. Sweetened
only with organic fruits, coconut flower blossom nectar, or organic honey, they are also packed with antioxidants but extremely
low in calories (only 20 to 50 per pop).
These icy delights come in five fruity flavors: Berries ‘N’ Cherries, Tropical Mango, Minty Mint, Toasted
Coconut, and Southern Iced Tea. All but the last are made with non-caffeinated rooibos tea. I tried several, and while they
may not have the satisfying creamy goodness of a Haagen-Dazs bar, they are extremely flavorful and refreshing.
Unfortunately, despite all the
things of which they are free, price is not one of them. They’re available in Whole Foods and other stores for about
$6.99 per pack of four... although Laslo-Baker says that they will soon be introducing slightly smaller bars at a significantly
lower price ($3.99 to $4.99 per four-pack).
There were many other new and notable products being offered at the event, from Burning Bush hot sauce to SeeMore’s
S’mores. Yet with about 1,500 different exhibitors and 6,000 attendees present, I couldn’t get to everything or,
try as I might, taste it all.
But I came away with a full stomach, a full bag, and a fuller-than-ever appreciation
for kosher food. Whether it be free or full of gluten, fat, dairy, sugar, or even those pesky GMO’s, it is all Jewish.
And all good.
And whether or not you approve, that’s my Spiel.
|That's me. The redhead on the right. But that is NOT my baby.
No, sir, that's not
my baby. How could any mother smile beatifically while her own child wailed? Never mind that neither of my offspring
ever cried so plaintively, as far as I recall (not while I was there to nurture them through their every perceptible
need... although my son still complains that I often dressed him in garish and girlish color schemes, scarring him FOR LIFE).
Besides, I'm distinctly beyond prime
delivery age ("Kitchen's closed!" as my mother might say), and my kids had departed the diaper stage by the
dawn of the Clinton Administration. Now in
their 20s, both are currently living on their
own, in not-too-distant cities, although each manages to phone me daily. In fact, to be exact, several times a
day, then sometimes text me, too. (That may sound excessive, and emotionally regressive, but I subscribe to
the Jewish mother's creed when it comes to conversing with kinder: Too much is never enough.)
Two demanding decades spent raising two kids who are kind, highly productive and multi-talented, who generally
wear clean underwear (as far as I can tell), and who by all visible signs don't detest me are my main credentials
for daring to dole out advice in the motherhood department.
Presenting myself as an authority on all matters Jewish may be trickier to justify.
Yes, I was raised Jewish and am biologically an unadulterated, undisputable, purebred Yiddisheh
mama. I'm known for making a melt-in-your-mouth brisket, not to mention the world's airiest matzah
balls this side of Brooklyn. My longtime avocation is writing lyrics for Purim shpiels based on popular Broadway productions,
from "South Pers-cific" to "The Zion Queen." Then again, I'm no rabbi or Talmudic scholar. I
can't even sing "Hatikvah" or recite the Birkat Hamazon. Raised resoundingly Reform, I don't keep kosher, can
barely curse in Yiddish, and haven't set foot in Israel since I was a zaftig teen.
Even so, as a longtime writer and ever-active
mother, I think I have something to say about being Jewish and a mom in these manic and maternally challenging
times. I hope something I say means something to you. Welcome to my nice Jewish world!
|LEVYS! MEET THE LEVYS! WE'RE A MODERN JEWISH FAMILY...
In coming weeks, I will continue
posting more personal observations, rants, and even recipes (Jewish and otherwise). So keep reading, come back often,
and please tell all of your friends, Facebook buddies, and everyone else you know that NiceJewishMom.com is THE BOMB!
The family that eats together (and maybe even Tweets together):
That's my son Aidan, me, my daughter Allegra, and Harlan, my husband for more than 26 years, all out for Sunday brunch on a nice summer weekend in New