Nishei - Special Edition - Spring 2020

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Jewish Women’s Magazine Spring 2020 | 5780


Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



Refuah Shlema – This edition is dedicated to the loved ones who need prayers and healing: Edol Leib Ben Chissie Tzirel Shifra for yeshuos and refuah shelaima Ayalet Chana Bas Shoshana Rivka Yaakov Ben Yenta Leah for refuah shelaima Reuven Ben Malka Esther for yeshuos



Naftali Elimelect Ben Tzvi Halevi Yaakov Ben Volf Adam Ben Chaya Leah Yisroel Ben Idis Roiza Bas Leah

Ariella Chana Bas Malka Esther

Gimpel Mordechai Daniel Ben Sarah Ita

Dalia Tzippora Bas Malka Esther

Cherna Chaya Bas Ita Channa

Dovid Tzvi Bas Malka Esther

Shaindy Bas Basya

Chaya Leah Bas Sadie

Shmuel Ben Chaya

Simcha Sharon Bas Sarah

R’Yoseph Yitzchak ha Cohen Ben Sara

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

FROM THE EDITOR Dear Women, If you have a copy of this magazine in your hands or you’re reading it online, it means there is something within it that you are meant to see. We are living in unprecedented times, and every bit of goodness makes a difference. Whoever you are, wherever this moment finds you, please know that you are loved and that you are here for a reason. With a master’s in journalism and 20 or so years as a professional writer, it has been part of my life’s journey to openly share -- online and in print -- my struggles and successes as a wife, mother and Jewish woman. Nishei began in Atlanta in 2015 as a labor of love. I was at home with four young children, and it helped connect me with other women while spreading some light. The feedback was wonderful, and I’m so proud


of the seven editions we created together there and now in Florida. While I truly love writing and get cranky when I go too long without doing it, it’s also my passion to help and encourage others to share their thoughts and feelings. Being vulnerable is what makes us human and helps us connect with others. Many of the women featured here are part of an online group called Nishei Ora: Women of Light. We help support and inspire each other throughout our daily lives. I hope the words and images within these pages bring some peace and inspiration to your busy life – especially now. Together, we are changing the world. I’m so grateful to share in this monumental journey with you. Please reach out with your comments, questions, or just to connect.

Special Edition

With love and appreciation,

Mindy Rubenstein

Spring 2020 | 5780

Why Don’t You Spell Out G-d’s Name? We do not write G‑d’s name in a place where it may be discarded or erased. Treating G‑d’s name with reverence is a way to show respect. While “G‑d” is an English term used to represent His holy name, it’s a reminder that we try to use words to describe something indescribable, something infinite and beyond intellect. Likewise, the word Hashem is a Hebrew word meaning “the name.” We reserve the actual Hebrew names for when we are praying. Intellect is not where we begin and end. We have a soul that is beyond intellect, and our soul automatically and instinctively detects G‑d. Jewish faith is about getting in touch with the soul that knows G‑d already, without needing any proof. How do you get in touch with your soul? Ask G‑d. He’ll tell you.

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



OUR MISSION AND VISION Our mission is to encourage Jewish women to express themselves through writing, art, and music, as well as to unite, educate, and inspire communities. Together, we are lighting up the world. A publication created by a group of Jewish women sharing our successes, struggles, and the sparks of beauty we see and experience – so we can grow and spread light within our families, communities and the world, with G-d’s help. ▼ ▼ ▼


Become a Lamplighter Lamplighter Levels – to help pay printing and distribution costs: Level 1 ................................... $1,800 Level 2 ...................................... $720 Level 3 ...................................... $360 Level 4 ...................................... $180 Level 5 ........................................ $72 Level 6 ........................................ $36

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Nishei Magazine is available online and in print. Contact us to receive a copy of the printed magazine, to submit art and writing, or to be added to our online women’s support group. • Phone: 404-542-5800 • Website - 4


Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020


CONTENTS Torah Corner....................................................................8 Shari Goranson Leah Finkelstein

Letters to G-d ..................................................................7 Mindy Rubenstein Suzie Becker Alitza Joy Adler Malka Gross

Blooms are My Passion................................................7 Vicki Goldstein Seznick

Shehecheyanu – Threefold Gratitude.................10

Mind-Body Awareness.....................................19 Miriam Racquel Feldman

The Army and G-d ............................................20 Shani Weinmann

Cleaning is My Therapy...................................21 Carin Smilk

This is the Year......................................................22 Shaindy Perl

Nishei Ora – Women of Light..........................23

Jeri Gertz

Gardening with G-d...................................................11 Leah Finkelstein

Painting Personality.....................................................11 Carlie Rosenthal

Q&A ..................................................................................12 Blimy Konig Rena Schochet

Kosher Cooking ...........................................................13 Easy Challah - Miriam Hodakov Bubby’s Oatmeal Cookies - Tova Younger Apple-Oatmeal Cobbler - Nancy Cohen Eggplant Quinoa Rolls - Nancy Cohen Make it Easy / Brownie Pops - Devorah Feigenbaum

All Worth It – Living in the Holiest City..................16 Chani Elefant

Musical Calling in Action.........................................17

COVER ARTWORK BY JUDITH FOX-GOLDSTEIN MEET YAEL – (front cover) Yael’s mo’olelo (story) was an incredibly soulful experience for me coming at a time when connections illuminate larger than any other emotion. I felt my heritage coming alive during this creation. Searching deep into my soul, touching childhood memories of joy, song, sadness, the comfort of family and my grandmother’s infamous matzoh ball soup with her special, secret ingredient...Bourbon! The transference of customs from one generation to another bind us together and during this time of crisis, this feeling of belonging is quite precious. RACHEL – (back cover) During this time of

great loss of life -- connections, warm hugs, smiles that light up the world and our sense of normalcy -- all gone, I felt compelled to create a piece that spoke of LIFE, GROWTH, and continuance. From the flowers on Rachel’s face to the calla lilies adorning her clothes, Rachel -- named after my mother of blessed memory -- is not without hope. “This too shall pass” was one of my mother’s favorite sayings. Gam Zeh Yaavor.

Ita Rabinowitz

Keeping things in Perspective................................18 Aviva Chertock

Keeping the Peace, Growing from Failure........18 Bonnie Melamed

Sharing the Love..........................................................18 Alitza Joy Adler

Graphic Design and Layout Key 3 Creative – Sandy Weber

Hebrew Text

Community Connections – Sruly Perl


Daniel Rubenstein Ariella Rubenstein Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



Torah Corner

Unlike the other furnishings of the Mishkan, the dimensions of the Ark were all incomplete measurements. Inasmuch as the Ark housed the Torah, this alludes to the idea that the Torah must “break” us: It must be learned in such a way that it breaks our ingrained habits and negative personality traits.

Exodus 36:20-37:16

Breaking in order to Build: Insights & Honesty

From the book Daily Wisdom,

insights from the Torah portion.

By Shari Goranson The part that strikes me is the Torah “breaking” us ... our habits and traits. With all that is going on now ... Remembering that Hashem is in control of everything, we should take this opportunity to give up our “stuff,” all those things, all the running we think we have to do. Let’s break our own personal “mitzrayim” and just be, remember why we live each day, realign our lives. This all will pass and we will be better for it if we do. I think the biggest thing I am working on right now is not to judge. I always try to judge favorably, but to be honest, sometimes before I get to the point of realizing to do that, a not so positive thought may cross my mind. We are in unprecedented territory now. Working in healthcare, I see things from all angles among healthcare workers, to patients/families ... again remembering that we are human and Hashem is in control, and to really try and incorporate that into my thought and action. As a community, a Jewish nation, we 6


Shari’s daughter in New York recently welcomed a baby girl, Chaya Baila. Mazel Tov!

must bring light to the situation. Let’s think of that as we light our Shabbos candles.

By Leah Finkelstein I am working on “menuchat hanefesh,” rest of mind (sometimes mistranslated as “peace of mind”). It is the ability to try to do one’s prep work for calmness and prepare oneself that there will be stress, there will be tension, and to take action to reduce this, thereby reducing (my) quick reaction. Not easy, for sure. It’s a work in progress. I’ve been trying to tell myself, “It’s ok. I trust you, Hashem. You got this.” Something that worked for me in not judging was when much hit the fan years ago and I had to let go of “telling” others what to do.

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

It was actually a fear of thinking if I don’t “guide and direct” everything then it will all fall apart. Once I let go and took care of my own stuff and not “direct” I found that I was relieved. In addition (and here’s the kicker), I started to see that everyone has their own tests they need to work on and if I’m constantly trying to tell/guide/ direct then I’M the direct cause of them not figuring out what THEY need to do to complete their tests/ mission. I had to realize that it’s important that they work on themselves and that means they will have failures and successes. Once I saw that, I realized that they were created in G-d’s non-corporeal image so how could I judge them? G-d set up a special mission for him/her and I must look compassionately at them and make myself available to help, but don’t interfere to the point of enabling ... THIS is when I stopped judging others.

Dear G-d: A Collection of Personal Letters

Dear G-d I feel far from you. I don’t want to pray. My heart seems hardened; I’m not sure what to say. Just days ago, in awe, I cried out to You! The Next World was in my heart and in my view. And now, I’m trapped here in my own thoughts Not sure what to do. Where is my soul? Where are You? Please come back. The world needs You. And I need You, too.

Abstract 1

By Mindy Rubenstein, pictured with her mom, Laura Tanenbaum in front of rising Challah dough.

I step outside. It is warm and bright. Birds above call to each other Then take flight, Gliding on a breeze, so loving, so slight. As I look up Stunning blue carries wisps of white. Leaves, green, gently sway. I have yet another day. Here on the earth I set my feet, With breath in my lungs, A heart that still beats. This world and it’s beauty My eyes can now see. Dear G-d, I’ve found You. But first, You found me.

Bird of Paradise

Blooms Are My Passion Born into the floral industry in Minnesota, I’ve been surrounded by nature’s glory my entire life. Early on, my parents expanded their business to Hawaii, and this was when blooms took on exquisite tropical splendor for me. Abstract 1 is my very first acrylic

Pink Peonies

By Vicki Goldstein Seznick

painting and is representative of the exquisite preciseness of nature. The Bird of Paradise, using chalk pastels, is one of my favorite Hawaiian flowers. I remember my father’s words: “For one to enjoy their full beauty, and to be able to ‘see’ the bird, you must gently

split the pod at the top of the stem ‘open,’ and very carefully take out each part of the flower, until you create the full beauty of the Bird of Paradise flower, for all to enjoy.” Pink Peonies, a flourishing burst of passionate pink, touches my aesthetic temperament.

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



Dear G-d,

And I acknowledge that sometimes children can be so I’m still here. I haven’t left. I feel a difficult and hurtful melange of emotions, all of which only that a parent needs a scratch the surface… and then I retreat so I time out. A mindful don’t go too deep. moment, where I love The curious thing is that I could go too By Suzie Becker my child so fiercely deep in either direction; I could fall down and constantly think a few rabbit holes. of my child and their needs… But I need some time to collect myself before my If I unpack the despair, will I ever find the emotions get out of hand. light again? If I delve into this surreal experience that is providing unexpected quality moments, different from vacation or school breaks, will I want to venture out from the light I have created? These days, I try harder to tuck the smaller aggravations and challenges away for the time being, and by the time I come back for them- they somehow seem less. Or they have disappeared.

Perhaps this is what we are experiencing. They are also the reason that You have made me resilient and forgiving. My darling children will speak of their contrition and atonement, and mostly their appreciation and love, loud enough for me to hear from the next room.

G-d, I know you didn’t leave me or us.

I always come around.

I know this because you gave me them.

So, I still continue to start my day praying “Modah Ani” and end it with the “Shema” together with those miracles You gave me in Your grace and mercy, in hopes that you will be reminded of what being together with Your children feels like.

And they are just like all of us. For each emotion they evoke, there is an equal and opposite one. With joy there is sorrow. With achievement there is frustration. With love there is disappointment. They are my children as we are Your children.


This is also when they can take stock of their own actions and how we got here.


Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

I am waiting for You to come back to this room and hug us again. With infinite love and gratitude, Suzie

Dear G-d, You are the most wonderful King, Father, Creator, Ruler. Thank you for bringing me to this community. I am so thankful to have made the connections with so many beautiful personalities. Each one has added flavor to my life in ways they probably have no idea of. I see them all as more than flesh and By Alitza Adler voice. Being able to connect with them on a spiritual level is a gift beyond compare and finding each jewel and learning of their individual value is a real true joy! Thank you for providing an earthly family with sisterhood better than I imagined. There are more that I would like to “discover” but all in good time. I pray for each one to be strengthened in every way they need and desire. I hope that we all may come out on the other side of this isolation with a greater appreciation for one another without judgments or reservation. Help us all to see the beauty that sparks in each soul and to ignite one another to greater depths bringing us closer to you, building that greatness of life that comes from Torah. You have put this spark in all of us. Now we seek to come together to become one giant flame. A flame that illuminates the gate for Moshiach to come now! Your servant, Alitza ▼ ▼ ▼

Dear G-d I see your awesomeness every day as I help care for the sick, the frail. Now they are even more alone: without visitors and family at their side. Give me your compassion, your patience and your strength so that I may care for them as You would. Help ease the fears of all of us during this difficult time. Fill us with Your faith, Your hope, Your joy. Keep us, our families, our loved ones, and those around us safe under Your loving wings. Please end this plague and all sickness soon, that we may be together with you with the coming of the righteous Moshiach. Amen.

By Malka Gross, pictured here with her mother, Yetta, of blessed memory.

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



Shehecheyanu – Threefold Gratitude

By Jeri Gertz


The Shehecheyanu is a three-part prayer of thankfulness. Like many Hebrew prayers, it is written in first person plural. Has there ever been a more pronounced time to see circumstances of life in terms of “we” rather than “I?” As we self quarantine, I try to keep a semblance of routine. And to remain thankful, even for this occasion. There are many powerful agents that help anchor me in gratitude and routine. I am sheltering in place with my beloved Hawaiian husband, and Pili, our wonder dog. Pili’s full name is Pilialoha, which means “ loving companion” in Hawaiian. With the knowledge that so many families are separated, I have a heightened appreciation for each morning that we rise together to face whatever challenges the day may bring. The day begins with a walk up our quiet Hilo street – Pili leads the way up the road to visit our neighborhood park, to gaze at the Wailuku River, and listen to the morning bird concert; mynahs and cardinals and laughing thrushes serenade us from the coconut palms and Ohi’a trees. I remember the first time I stood at the lookout by the waterfall. To my left was a clear view of Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world. Directly in front of me, I watched the Wailuku River flow down across centuries-old volcanic rock formations. And as I turned to the right, the Pacific Ocean was sparkling beneath a just-risen sun. Those three inspiring visuals -10


mountain, river, and sea -- gave rise to an urge to say Shehecheyanu, and a morning ritual was born. “Shehecheyanu, v’kiyamanu, v’higiyanu laz’man ha zeh.” “Thank you for our lives, for keeping them flowing ( literally!), and for bringing us to this present moment.” Every morning that I am able, for the last 30 years, I have greeted life with this mixture of Hawaiian/ Jewish gratitude. A moment of true “shaloha” – the swirl of shalom and aloha. A delicious mixture of greeting, love, peace. When fear and angst threaten to crowd out all other emotions during these dark pandemic days, I chant Shehecheyanu to spark gratitude.

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

And you know what? It works. I feel the embers of hope glow brighter as I say, “Amayn.” Jeri Gertz has been lucky to call Hilo (Hawaii) her home for over 40 years. She lives with the man and the dog she loves best and is grateful to be surrounded by incomparably wonderful family and friends. Her twin passions of advocacy and performing have combined her professional work as a victim counselor/community educator with writing, acting, singing, and directing many island productions. Jeri is the director of Harmony On Tap, a women’s chorus that performs benefit concerts for local charities and social service agencies.

Gardening with G-d By Leah Finkelstein The goal of gardening is self sufficiency: I want to grow what we eat, to be able to feed my family straight from our garden. It’s great to grow veggies from the seeds of the veggies you have! There are so many I love to grow. I can narrow it down to two: Green beans and okra! Firstly, all of my family members love green beans. Secondly, okra is not their favorite vegetable, but they love it now because of the way it’s prepared and because it’s from their garden. A common gardening mistake is soil mixtures and textures.

Whether growing veggies and fruit or flowers, one has to know the proper soil. Too much sand yields poor soil drainage and prevents a plant from firmly rooting and growing upright. Hard soil? Newly rooting plants can’t emerge from the soil successfully and can’t survive. The right soil mix is vital to a successful outcome. It brings worms and necessary beneficial bacterias to the soil. I love speaking to Hashem while I garden. I find the nature of plants and the varieties that Hashem lovingly placed on the earth to be fascinating.

Each plant has it’s unique DNA that gives it an emerging flower and subsequent fruit. Hashem could have made everything taste bland. Instead, He gave us flavor and texture and color!

In a private audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a woman described how difficult it was for her to overcome her moodiness, specifically her anger. The Rebbe followed up with a letter in which he wrote: In answer to your question regarding anger, contemplate the verse from Psalms, ‘I have set the L‑rd before me at all times.’ These words are found also in the introduction to the Shulchan Aruch, which directs the behavior of a Jew in his day-to-day life. ... When one envisions that at every moment he is in the presence of G‑d, how is it even possible to be overtaken by moodiness and anger?”

Painting Personality

By Carlie Rosenthal, age 18

Plain skin color doesn’t show personality, but multiple colors show mood and individuality of the girls,” says Carlie Rosenthal about her art. A senior in high school, she and her father began painting together when she was just four years old. Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



QA and

Question: I notice a change in mood and creativity based on lunar and menstral cycles. I’m trying to figure out how to better plan for and embrace this rather than being reactive. How do we care for ourselves, especially when we feel like our own “worst enemy”?

Question: It has not been the easiest morning. I was raised in a tense environment and sometimes this seemingly natural instinct comes out, despite all my attempts to stay positive and upbeat. And then it feels awful, even if I thought I was justified in my reasons for getting upset.

Answer: By Blimy Konig Firstly:

Secondly: don’t waste a minute beating yourself up. That’s the satan. We are all only human and this is how we get better. Thirdly: Something to consider is that we get angry when a boundary has been breached. For me, it also serves to show me where I am not owning my right to that boundary in the first place. If I recognize that and acknowledge that I’m allowed this boundary then I can defend it with more peacefulness and confidence next time.

Email your questions to



Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

Answer: By Rebbetzin Rena Schochet This is such a fantastic question. Rabbi Shimon Schwab explains this feeling in his Sefer Ma’ayan Beit HaShoayva. The last pasuk in Chapter 1 of Bereishit alludes to your question, of how we can keep Hashem in our thoughts especially in the moment when you feel wronged or you feel you have messed up. Rav Schwab explains that when the world was created, the element that preceded everything was tshuva. Tshuva means pressing the reset button, adapting to a preferred thought process or behavior that would change the course of one’s actions. Is it easy? No, but it is mindful, and it gives one the opportunity to crawl out of the doldrums into a mindset that gives one satisfaction. Falling into the doldrums is the objective of the yetzer hara, the unsuitable behavior that causes a series of broken ideas to come to the surface. Being aware and mindful brings its own satisfaction, and slowly changing a thought process or behavior creates satisfaction. It turns the “mess” from its messiness into a positive, more comfortable sense of satisfaction. Each small step brings its own feeling of triumph to the fore and allows one to chart progress and feel more positive. The “mess-up” might not belong to the individual, but the individual “clean-up” brings a sense of peace and comfort. Instead of being hard on oneself, make a conscious effort to move forward differently. Allow for slip-ups because we are, after all, human, mothers, and fallible.


Favorite Recipes Easy Challah 2 ½ Tbsp. yeast 4 cups warm water 1 ½ cups sugar 1 Tbsp. salt 1 cup oil 3 eggs 5 pounds flour

By Miriam Hodakov


1 egg yolk, beaten 1 tsp. water Poppy seeds

Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl. Add half the sugar and let stand 2 minutes, until yeast foams. Add salt, oil, and eggs and mix well. Gradually add flour, 2 cups at a time, mixing after each addition. Use floured hands and knead for 7 minutes, turning dough over often. Let rise in a greased bowl until doubled in size, approximately 1-2 hours. Punch down dough halfway through rising. Separate challah with a bless-

ing. Divide dough, shape as desired, and place in greased pans or on a baking sheet. Let rise again until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush with glaze and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for 30-45 minutes.

Bubby’s Oatmeal Cookies 1¼ cup flour 1 tsp baking powder ¾ cup brown sugar 3 eggs

By Tova Younger

9 Tbsp oil ¼ cup apple juice 1 tsp vanilla 4 cups oats, any type

Combine flour, baking powder and sugar well; add liquids and mix. Lastly add the oats and mix well. Preheat oven. Form into flattish balls, they will not spread out. Bake at 350o for 15 minutes; makes 35 cookies. A healthy favorite! Thank you, Bubby!

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



Make it Easy With Devorah Feigenbaum

Devora Feigenbaum teaches at Torah Academy of Jacksonville. An avid baker and cook who hosts dozens of Shabbat guests each week (in “normal” times), she is married to Rabbi Avi Feigenbaum, education director with Etz Chaim. They have five daughters and a baby boy K”H.

Where are you from originally? Originally from Johannesburg, my family left South Africa for Cincinnati in 2001, and I did my last year of high school in Denver, then went to seminary in Israel for a year. I went back to Denver for five years, then to New York for Touro College. After I got married, we went to Israel – my husband taught there. Then we moved to Kansas for two years. We came to Jacksonville in 2013.

How did you learn how to cook and bake? Are you self taught? Yes, I’ve been cooking since I was very young. As one of 11 and the oldest girl, I like to joke with

Brownie Pops

my girls that I was making supper since I was nine years old. In Kansas I took courses in baking and decorating. I prefer baking and making fancy stuff when I’m not getting paid for it, though. It’s not so much pressure.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I take recipes from cookbooks and make them easier, or use what I have at home. I always say look for shortcuts. Boxed soup, for example, just add veggies. Take an idea and make it simple. One recipe calls for making brownie and whipped topping, so use a mix and buy the soy whipped topping.

I’m a big substitute person. You don’t need to stick to exactly what the recipe says. Don’t be afraid to make food and freeze. Cook it three-quarters of the way, freeze it, then cook it the rest of the way when you defrost it. I made a roast on a random Sunday and divided it up into tins to put in the freezer. You have to wrap it well right away. I label everything. Before Yom Tov I’ll start freezing stuff a few weeks before. When cooking for Shabbos I double up. Rice freezes well. So does orzo and couscous. Just add water to it before reheating.

By Devora Feigenbaum

Start with a family-size box of brownie mix or feel free to substitute your homemade brownies in the recipe. Prepare the brownies as directed on the box but under bake by 3-5 minutes. Once baked, cut off any rough edges (save for another time)and roll the fudgy brownies in to balls or use a cookie scoop. Put a lollipop stick in the middle and pop them in the freezer to firm up for about 1 hour. Melt your chocolate either using a double boiler or the microwave. I like to use a bag of parave chocolate chips, but you can use a bag of candy melts or dairy chocolate chips as well. Add about a tablespoon of oil to make the chocolate more fluid and easier for dipping. Dip a pop in to the melted chocolate. Use a spoon or fork to completely cover the pop. Place the pop standing up inside a styrofoam block or upside down on a prepared baking tray. Scatter sprinkles



Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

or other decorations on the top of the pop while the chocolate is still wet. Repeat with remaining pops. (I like to take a few out of the freezer at a time, so they don’t melt). If the chocolate starts to get thick as it cools down, just microwave for 15 seconds. Put the baking tray into the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Apple-Oatmeal Cobbler

By Nancy Cohen RDN LDN Feeding the Body, Feeding the Soul

5 medium apples (I like Pink Lady or Granny Smith, organic preferred)

2 tablespoons of margarine or butter

Great as a dessert or a snack!

I cup old fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)

1/4 cup Sugar (preferably nonbleached, but can be coconut, date, maple)

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Serving size ¾ cup Serves 12

1/2 cup raisins dried

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the apples and slice into pieces or cut into cubes. I do not peel mine, but your family may like that better.

Coat with another 2 tablespoons of oats.

Mix the apples, oats, sugar, butter, raisins and cinnamon and place into a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Serve in a bowl with or without low-fat ice cream.

Eggplant Quinoa Rolls 2 large eggplants 4 teaspoons olive oil 1 cup quinoa (may substitute couscous) ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves ½ teaspoon salt

Bake for one hour.

By Nancy Cohen RDN LDN Feeding the Body, Feeding the Soul

¾ cup crumbled feta cheese (you may also substitute cottage cheese or ricotta) 1 cup tomato sauce 3 tbsp fresh or dried mint ¼ teaspoon ground black or white pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil two baking sheets or coat them with nonstick spray. Trim off both ends of the eggplant and cut into very thin slices. Place eggplant slices on the cookie sheetcovering lightly with cooking spray or brushing lightly with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes on each side, then take out to cool. They should be soft and easy to roll. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa with 1 ½ cups water stirring in the thyme, salt and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Remove from heat after it has come to a boil and let it absorb the water. Give it about 20 minutes to

sit and expand. With a fork stir in the feta, 2 tbsp of mint and pepper. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, place some of the quinoa mix in the center of each eggplant slice. Roll up the eggplant firmly. Place seam-side down on the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Cover with tomato sauce and bake for an extra five minutes, sprinkling with the remaining 2 tbsp of feta cheese and 1 tbsp of mint. Serve warm with a salad.

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



I Am Alive


By Mindy Rubenstein Yesterday my good friend in New York told me about all the people she knows who have passed away just in the past week. She said it’s surreal and unsettling, but she’s trying to keep a sense of normalcy in her home, especially for her children. She told me about visiting her sister in law, who not only had been sick but had just lost a close family member, so she was now in mourning. But she hadn’t even processed the emotional loss, she said, because she was feeling so bad physically. The woman was barely even recognizable, my friend shared with me. I could tell it really affected her. And as I pictured this young woman in my head, I thought of my own difficulty breathing the past few days, the discomfort in my chest, the low-grade fever and feeling of fatigue I’ve tried to ignore. At the end of a long day, I took a bath and tried to relax, to breathe. I have during my lifetime -- I’m in my 40s now -- gone through intense emotional ups and downs. I can’t say for sure if mine are any worse than others may experience. But they feel worse to me. I do take a low dose of medication, have talked to therapists, and pray often. I take walks daily. And I try to put my passion into my family and my creative work. But over the weekend a deep sadness and irritability fell over me. I was vicious with my husband and myself, and looking back now it was like something had taken over my mind, had moved in and decided to sabotage my plans for spiritual awakening and inspiring others. I stopped writing, stopped praying, stopped loving. It hurt deeply to feel so lonely, so far from myself, from others, from G-d. This week I read an article in Forbes that my cousin, a therapist, shared that said this time is especially hard for anyone who already struggled with mental health. This new situation has made me think more of my mortality and to appreciate life, but reading the stories of health 16


Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

care professionals and hearing about all the death and suffering is taking a toll on even the strongest among us. So as I lay in my warm bath, thinking of death and having to focus on my own breathing that I no longer take for granted, I suddenly felt sublimely peaceful. I felt filled with light and love, like my lifeforce could easily slip away into the next world. All this pain and fear and suffering could be gone. And then I thought of a story I read recently of a young Jewish man who was being wheeled to the gas chambers with other seemingly lifeless bodies. At the last moment, he managed to get out in Yiddish just three words: I am alive. Again, he said it louder, I AM ALIVE. He was set aside, survived the Holocaust and went on to have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I, too, am alive. And as long as I’m still here, whether it’s another day, a decade or more, there’s still work to be done. It isn’t easy. And sometimes it hurts. In Europe, the Nazis and their collaborators sealed the synagogues to punish, dehumanize and ultimately exterminate the Jews. Here in America, our government has asked us to close our shuls to SAVE us from harm. America tries to protect its Jewish citizens; the Nazis singled us out for destruction. Yes, this pandemic is terrible and it’s dangerous and, in too many cases, lethal. But we will get through this. With G-d’s help, this too shall pass, and we will be more sincere in our commitment to prayer and Torah. There are people dying alone in hospitals, and my friend and I said how utterly sad this is. One man wept as he said the Shema prayer to his dying mother through the speakerphone of a reluctant and overworked doctor. As he listened to the man saying goodbye to his mother, “Time slowed down and I felt restored to myself,” the doctor shared through a social media post. “It woke up some emotion in me that I had long forgotten about.” These words really struck me and I’ve read them over and over again. As I put my hand to my chest and feel the rise and fall, feel my heart continue to beat, I think of the life-force keeping me here, even if I don’t acknowledge it. We are never alone. As long as we are still here and can feel this heartbeat -- G-d, Love, Life, whatever you choose to call it, remains within us. Let’s take a moment to appreciate each precious breath -- in and out -- that’s being given to us. I am alive. And so are you. May Hashem heal all our people, speedily and in our days.

Musical Calling in Action By Ita Rabinwoitz

Ita plays the piano, guitar and saxophone. Founder of and the musical composer and arranger with the Los Angeles Jewish Women’s Chorale, she shared these thoughts on how she finds time to utilize her G-d given talent and passion. I played for years, and then I got married and had children. We lived in an apartment and it was very difficult to find time and place to play. By the time everyone went to sleep it was too late to be making noise. I think it was after my sixth child was born, and she was very cholic and had reflux, so I was up late with her. We had just moved into a new house and we finally had the piano in the room of the house that I could play and not wake anybody. I think it was very therapeutic for me… I would pass by the piano at night on my way upstairs, and I would sit down to play one song

I feel like every person has some kind of mission and certain specific talents that Hashem gave to that person and we are meant to do something with it. We are not meant to just do nothing with it. It could be within your own home. It doesn’t have to be big.

and would find myself there for an hour. At some point I said I need to do something more with this and not just play myself at two in the morning. Although I loved it -- it was a very connecting experience -- I felt like there was something that I was meant to do with it. And it took a long time before I actually put it into action. I did finally by starting a website called playjewishmusic. com, where I write sheet music for popular jewish songs and post them for others to use for free. And I started a piano course,

which started in the beginning with just five individual students. I taught them in person and online what I had learned to be able to play jewish music, like chords and theory. Eventually I got hooked up with a Jewish women’s choir in Los Angeles, called the Los Angleles Jewish Ladies Chorale (LAJLC). I write up the harmonies and arrange all the music. And I feel like I finally had an opportunity to give of this. I feel like every person has some kind of mission and certain specific talents that Hashem gave to that person, and we are meant to do something with it. It could be within your own home. It doesn’t have to be big. It’s been a very fulfilling experience for me and a transition from someone who was at home with my kids for many years. From a distance and even without maintaining a regular schedule, or having much time by myself, I was still able to do something fulfilling and connecting. LAJLC was founded in 2017 by two busy mothers who have a strong passion for Jewish music and singing. Since then, they have grown into a dedicated group of talented Jewish women who thoroughly enjoy the art and camaraderie of singing to uplift audiences with meaningful Jewish music. Learn more at You can also visit to download free sheet music.

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



Keeping things in perspective By Aviva Chertock


Casual convo with my mom this mo

toilet paper.” Me: “Maybe we should buy more in Russia. But actually, one time, Mom: “There was no toilet paper R when she was 25 years old!! we got some. Note: mom left the USS r. Or when you’re in the woods, Mom: We just used notebook pape you just use a leaf. toilet paper..... Me: ...........that’s 25 years with no

m Failure

o fr g in w ro G , e c a Pe e th g in p e e K

ure that the I usually stand my ground IF it will ens ows what By Bonnie Melamed other person does the right thing (kn ch a lesson. tea to the right thing is) going forward You’ve got to “pick your battles.” use it as a If we fail (or think we fail) then we ek by Rav Dof i growing opportunity. In Kol Dod a Man of of Soloveitchik, he discusses the ideas man of fate Fate versus a Man of Destiny. The to change. accepts life as it is and does nothing what life has The man of destiny, however, takes ing good. to offer him and turns it into someth grows from He accepts success and failure and both. t of Let’s all continue to make the bes e hav and t righ men) of Destiny Rather than push that you are coronavirus and be Men (and Wo in r the mo as my re together! possible upheaval, “chew gum,“ we can learn more and grow mo so peace. law used to say and just keep the

Sharing the Love

By Alitza Joy Adler

in the dirt. I like to get my therapy by playing e been on hav I Working on my flower beds, pots. design book a lot of walks. Pulled out an interior creativity to and allowed my imagination and re in the asu ple at dream for a while. I took gre thing Any . news of a friend’s new grandbaby to everyday life that brings some normalcy back may be weird and capitalizing on the simchas. I work I saw a for this: this morning on the way to eks on the we police car for the first time in two wave and give freeway. I had this compulsion to



Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

him the “love” sign (I didn’t) but I hope they know they are appreciated. They are on the front lines too. I hope that I am not overcome with too much together again emotion when we can get back roll with it. I am on Shabbos but if I do please just that can’t help sure we will all have happy tears themselves. Looking forward to the day...


Mind-Body Awareness


By Miriam Racquel Feldman

These are stressful times, and shalom bayit, peace at home, may be especially challenging. As a woman, you may be so busy in your thoughts and actions that you forget to breathe deeply, while also constricting certain muscles in your body. Being present brings a sense of safety to your body, your mind, and your heart. This takes you out of feeling like you are living in a state of constant fight/flight and enhances your intuition -- so you can be wise and kind to yourself and others. Your body will be healthier too! Here are a few tips for mind-body awareness and for getting in touch with your senses.

Quick Meditation: • Close your eyes and notice what you are hearing. Throw your hearing out in all directions as far as it can go. Just listen. • Breathe and feel your breath being inhaled and exhaled. • Sense what your clothes feel like on your body. Also, sense the way your body feels in the chair you are sitting on. Feel your feet on the ground. If you’re outside, notice the sun on your face, the breeze passing you by. • Notice what you taste in your mouth. • Open your eyes slowly and take in what you see with a wide, relaxed vision.

Sticker Breathing: • To get into the present moment, put a few stickers throughout

telling you. How you may be interpreting things can stem from childhood wounding, trauma, past resentments, and misunderstandings. There is a vast range of things that can be happening in your mind-body system at once. But the first step is awareness that your body is speaking to you.

Bring a Tzaddik or Angel in to Help: your home. A few times a day (you decide on a number— 3-5 would be terrific) take a pause when you come across the sticker, and breathe a deep inhale and release. • You can also bring your arms over your head, curl your fingers onto the top of your crown (it makes a heart shape) and get that expansion in your chest. Relax any parts of you that are holding tight. Pay particular awareness to your stomach and back area where you may tend to hold tension.

Mind-Body Awareness: • Notice what your body is telling you when you are interacting with your husband. Does your stomach clench, your breath constrict, your jaw clench? These are actual emotional responses being conveyed to you through your physical sensations. You can put your hand on those places which allows the energy to flow instead of getting stuck. • Getting professional guidance is helpful to understand what your mind and body are

When there is something important to speak to your spouse about or if there is a conflict, try to bring a tzaddik or an angel into your imagination. Your imagination is a powerful tool. Imagine that there is a spiritual figure that is higher than this physical world—seeing and understanding everything, uplifting the situation that you are in at the moment. Your energy will shift (you will feel safer), and that will help bring wise words for you to speak. Your spouse will also feel safer—energy is tangible. Even when we are scared or angry (and sometimes we need to be, to set boundaries), dialogue can remain respectful. Bringing a tzaddik or an angel into your imagination can create a more peaceful solution. Miriam Racquel Feldman is a somatic healer, clarity coach and relationship expert, helping to empower women to trust themselves through the wisdom of their bodies and intuition. An avid gardener, she lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and children. Her website is

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



The Army and G-d


By Shani Weinmann

Growing up in a religious home to baal teshuva parents was certainly its own adventure in terms of finding a path for myself in relation to G-d. Despite all the religious schooling and even seminary, I felt I was still missing an important link in my Judaism. It was not until I arrived in the Israeli army that I began to realize what that was. The IDF itself is a place that abides by religious law, but most of the people in it are not. So I received many questions about Torah and G-d, even though most of the time, they could actually quote more pesukim than me. To my surprise, those questions made me dig deeper. What does it really mean to have a belief in G-d? Why did I insist on keeping this way of life? But my biggest question was: Who was G-d to me? How did I view Him/Her and what is our relationship dynamic? Through much searching and many questions from friends, I developed a better understanding of G-d as a father. As young kids, we may be taught to view G-d as a father figure, in order to help us understand the simplistic balance of love and judgement. Not everyone has to use the same model I did; it’s enough to relate to a role model or figure in life that inspires all the personal qualities the Torah wants us to possess. I related to this theory in terms of the handson, caring, and attentive personality of my own father -- which has only enhanced my love of the greatest Father out there: the One who made everything. My own father never says no and never punishes unless he sees fit for my own good and the good of my future. Similarly, G-d only punishes



-- or so it seems -- if it is for the good of the people and for the greater plan. My father is one of the most loving individuals I know, with a readiness to help and a deep desire to get to know each guest who walks through his door. Much the same, G-d wants to know us, and prayer was developed just so we wouldn’t forget to talk to Him about ourselves. G-d knows everything (much as I believe my father knows everything); however He still wants to hear our opinions and desires. I love G-d immensely and also fear disappointing Him, just as I want my father to be constantly proud of me. Once I understood my relationship dynamic with G-d, I had to add details. How do I pray and what is it to praise? What is my view on the commandments of the Torah, and, more importantly, on the details that may be hard to comprehend? Just as one can’t build a machine without the instructions, warnings, and the parts themselves, the world can’t function without the manual. It comes with warnings of the previous trials gone wrong, success stories, and accounts of obstacles one may face in her life -- the way our forefathers (and mothers) faced challenges in order to help us get

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

through ours. There’s a psychological tendency in humans called “similarity identification,” which causes people to bond with those who have gone through similar experiences. Humans love to give advice, share and discuss situations. G-d knew this, of course, so He gave us a book with a summary of His world, His people, and how to navigate it all, even if we don’t understand all of its laws. The ability to believe in G-d lies in the big picture -- as in, if I see value in around 80 percent of the information, then surely the remaining 20 percent is dependable as well. If I’m led 80 percent in the right direction by someone, then the one time I do not comprehend them is when I have to rely on the prior trust we have developed. G-d is the One I have the most trust in. He created a whole functioning universe with infinite scientific details, surprises, and secrets that have still yet to be discovered. I just need to trust Him the most in the times that make the least sense. Without the intense experience of the army and the people there, I may never have found my happy place in Judaism and discovered who I am today. Look for G-d in the most random of places and use it as a learning tool for yourself and others. Shani Weinmann was born in Atlanta, GA and grew up in the Jewish community of Toco Hills before coming to Midreshet Harova and then joining the IDF. She served in the Artillery Force as a Combat Medic. She went back to Harova as a Madricha and is now studying Dance at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Cleaning is My Therapy


By Carin M. Smilk “OK, we ready?” I looked back at my troops, armed with different cleaning materials. I thought I heard a groan, but I could have imagined it. After all, most people don’t get my enthusiasm for the endeavor, least of all children. Dustpan, broom, cloths, spray … check, check, check, check. Son, son, son, son. Yes, the suitably themed four sons are helping their mother clean before Pesach. In fact, it’s really pre-cleaning because once they’re done, a day or so later, I’ll go over everything again—just to be sure. So here’s the big reveal: I love to clean. Don’t just like it, love it. It comes with such instant gratification; like laundry and dishes, you do the work and see the results. That’s not true with all things in life. It’s not necessarily true with work, friends, family, relationships. Cleaning has results that are immediate, if not lasting. I don’t expect my sons to enjoy the process, but they should know how to do it and become reasonably good at it. If there is one thing the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has shown, it’s that cleanliness counts. And that you can’t necessarily have workers, others do things for you. You can’t just invite people into your home; in fact, you may never have a cleaning person again. Now, I never did, but plenty of people do. And I feel a bit sorry for them. They don’t know what they’re missing. When you vacuum up crumbs and dust, going over baseboards with the suction attachment, you can simply sense the air becoming fresher, the room more friendly to its inhabitants.

And while I clean, I think. I remember. I daydream and very often write (in my head). I recall family members—those I’ve lost along the way. I think of my grandmother (my father’s mother), who loved to cook and clean. I think of my grandfather (my mother’s father), who the minute you finished the food on your plate, off it went into the dishwasher. If you stayed overnight on the pullout bed, as soon as you rose he would fold it up, straightening the cushions and folding the blankets. Huh. I guess it’s in my genes. What else do I do while I’m making the rounds of each room? Sometimes, I hum. I pray. Little prayers, psalms and, prior to Passover, the tunes to the songs we’ll soon sing. Holiday cleaning is like no other; there is a sense of excitement in the air. Granted, this year is not exactly the same. Indoors for nearly a month now, there is so much more to do at home: more clothes

to launder, dishes to wash, heaps of school materials and books to organize, handing the piles off to each child so they can stack it somewhere else. This year, it’s not the little family get-together for a dose of quality time before Pesach. This year, there’s been solid family time— maybe even a bit too much of it—as well as the detritus that goes along with it. Even so, cleaning is my therapy. It touches a place in my soul. It connects me to me; it connects me to the Above. It can be a lofty undertaking, after all. I wish that were so for my kids. Right after our mopping and scrubbing, wiping and polishing, what was the first thing they did? Have a snack, of course. A flakey, crusty, toasty little snack. Carin M. Smilk is a Jewish journalist living outside Philadelphia with her husband and four sons. Currently the managing editor of, she worked five years as a full-time editor in the news department of

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020



This is the year It is one week before Pesach today.


Two days ago, I slipped while going down wet stairs and twisted my ankle. Badly. I spent the next day sitting in one place, as I did not have the upper body strength necessary to carry myself around the house on crutches. Whatever I wanted to do, or whatever I wanted to get, just wasn’t worth the effort. In past years, this would have been a BIG DEAL. I would be stressing about preparing for Pesach, about attempting my annual pre-Pesach cooking marathon. I imagine my mother or one of my sisters would be calling to check up on me, perhaps offering to send over some of their Pesach foods to ease the burden. But this year is not like any other year. This is the year that my family and I have been spending weeks in our home in Monsey, sometimes annoying each other, and sometimes sitting together and enjoying a game of Scrabble or Monopoly Ultimate Banking (way cooler than Monopoly of our days). This is the year when Pesach preparations involve some cleaning but no shopping for new Pesach clothes. And this is the year of sad news and too many losses. Losses that include my sister’s grandfather; my sister-in-law’s father; my brother’s boss, the owner of the well-known S. Bertram Foods; my friend’s first cousin’s husband, a father of six. On WhatsApp statuses we keep seeing appeals for prayers. 22


Prayers for a well-known Monsey philanthropist from another kosher food company; for two middleaged brothers, both fathers and grandfathers of large families; and most recently, for my daughter’s friend from camp, a twenty-year old young woman, whose first baby was delivered one week early via C-section, as the mother is in critical condition, fighting a complicated case of the virus and pneumonia. My sister-in-law is sitting shiva alone at home for her father, as she and her siblings continue practicing social distancing. Various family members are fighting symptoms of a milder case of the virus, while they are also juggling Pesach preps and childcare. A sprained ankle and temporary immobility, even just a week before Pesach, are suddenly not that serious or terrible. In a time when the world feels like it is trembling, and anyone who isn’t standing firmly on the ground seems to be falling right

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

By Shaindy Perl off its surface, perspectives have changed. Life has become more precious than ever. Loved ones are cherished and appreciated. And our collective sense of humor in the face of all the madness, the continuous supply of Torah inspiration, and incredible acts of kindness — like that of a group of volunteers who run errands for those sick and quarantined — have taken center stage, giving us all strength and hope. These are the things that stand out as we try coping with a world that feels dramatically different from our world of just a few weeks ago. Perhaps my family’s Pesach menu this year will be less elaborate than years of the past. I don’t know, and frankly, I haven’t spent any time worrying about that. In times like these, we take one day at a time and make the best of the opportunities that we have. We feel compassion for those who are in pain, and more grateful for things we may have forgotten to thank Hashem for in the past. We take nothing for granted and no longer live with the illusion of control. We are humbled by our vulnerability, grateful for the gifts Hashem has bestowed upon us, and hopeful for a world that is restored to normalcy, one filled with good health and happiness, but one in which we haven’t forgotten the lessons we learned. Shaindy Perl lives in Monsey, New York. A published author of nearly a dozen books, she is also a certified coach and workshop leader. She is passionate about personal growth and loves to visit places of natural beauty. Her favorite dessert is one that requires minimal prep. She is a mom of six K”H.

anything that contains chocolate. She is the mother of two young children who keep her very busy.

two sons, including one who is studying at a yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael. She works for a financial services firm.

Nancy Cohen was born in Teaneck, NJ,

Shaindy Perl lives in Monsey, New York. A

Leah Finkelstein, born in Missouri, lives

Rebbetzin Ita Rabinowitz, born in New

Judith Fox-Goldstein was born in New

Rebbetzin Miriam Reichman, born in Flatbush, New York, lives in Lakewood, New Jersey with her husband and children.

and lives in St Augustine, FL. She is a licensed dietician and nutritionist. Her favorite dessert is apple cobbler, or anything with apples. She has fond memories of baking with her Grandma Jennie from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

We are a group of supportive women sharing our successes, struggles, and the sparks of beauty we see/read/experience -- so we can grow and spread light within our families, communities and the world, with G-d’s help. To be added to our online group or for more information, email

Alitza (Joy) Adler, born in Ohio, lives with her family in Jacksonville, FL. She works for a clinic serving patients with eating disorders. Her passions include healthy eating, gardening, essential oils, and plant-based whole nutrition with Arbonne. Her favorite dessert is dairy-free salted caramel ice cream and peach pie. She has two children and loves spending as much time as possible being active outdoors. Devorah Aronowitz, born in South Africa, lives in Richmond, VA. She works as an elementary teacher at a Jewish Day School. Hobbies, favorite dessert... She has five children. Dari Ben-Naim was born in New York City

and lives in Jacksonville, FL. She is very passionate about cooking, so much so that she makes her own pasta, and is now learning how to make cannolis...any food that is a challenge. She is hoping to become a professional Chefette one day and get her degree from The Kosher Culinary Institute located in The Big Apple. Her favorite desserts are chocolate mousse and creme brulee (why pick only one!) She is the mother to two amazing teenage boys Noam, age 16 and Yosef age 14, who are attending high school in Duval County.

Suzie Becker was born in NYC and lives in

Jacksonville, FL. She has worked in business administration, education, and for nonprofit organizations. She includes nostalgia, Daf Yomi for women, reading about diets, and humor among her hobbies, as well as coping mechanisms. She has two young children who both amuse and frustrate her... just like her mother wished upon her.

Gitty Cohen was born in Manchester (UK), raised in Eretz Yisrael, went to college in Gateshead, and lives in Jacksonville, FL. She is currently studying for her master’s in education through the Open University of Israel, has been teaching for six years, and is the youth/ camp director at Etz Chaim Synagogue. She is passionate about finding the hidden spark in each individual and believes that if someone struggles in a certain area, she is meant to excel in another way. Her favorite dessert is

in Jacksonville, FL. She is an avid gardener and musician -- the viola is her instrument of choice. She is passionate about gardening and taking care of her children. She’s not into sweets, but says roast beef? Now THAT’S a dessert!!! She is the mom of four. York, spent 30 years on the big island of Hawaii, and now lives in St. Johns, Florida. A professional writer and artist, she is passionate about sharing the stories of the strong women she creates through her paintings. Her work can be found in galleries and other locations throughout Northeast Florida.

Malka Gross, born in Chicago, lives in Jack-

sonville, FL. She works as a physical therapist in a hospital. She is passionate about helping others, her family, and yiddishkeit. Her favorite dessert: anything chocolate. She is a mom of a grown daughter who works as the vice president of marketing for Harper Collins.

Sarah Bayla Gross lives in Atlanta, GA and teaches at Torah Day School of Atlanta. She has previously lived in Eretz Yisrael and hopes to return soon IY”H. She is passionate about caring for her children and learning Torah.

Shari Goranson, born in Chicago, lives in Jacksonville, FL. She works as a case manager in a rehab hospital with pediatrics and brain injury patients. She is passionate about her family, including her four children and multiple grandchildren. Her favorite dessert is coconut cream pie or anything with chocolate and peanut butter. Sarah Herman, born in Texas, lives in Jacksonville, FL. Currently a stay-at-home mom who loves to cook, swim, bike leisurely, read, and dabbles in interior design. She is passionate about helping others in and out of the community. She prefers savory foods over dessert, but won’t turn down a proper Southern pecan pie (gluten free, of course). BH, she is the mama to two beautiful, strong, and bright young ladies, and says they are the best gifts Hashem ever brought to her. “Everything I do is to make their world a more positive and healthy place where they can live out their dreams without boundaries.” Blimy Konig, born in New York, lives in Jacksonville, FL. Work, hobbies, passions, favorite dessert? She has four children.

Bonnie Melamed, born in New York, lives in Jacksonville, FL. She and her husband have

published author of nearly a dozen books, she is also a certified coach and workshop leader. She is passionate about personal growth and loves to visit places of natural beauty. Her favorite dessert is one that requires minimal prep. She is a mom of six K”H. York, lives in Jacksonville, FL. An accomplished musician and computer programmer, she serves as principal of Jacksonville Torah High School. She is the devoted mother to 11 children K”H.

Mindy Rubenstein, born in the Tampa Bay area, lives in Jacksonville, FL. A professional writer and amateur artist, she is passionate about helping other women express themselves creatively and spiritually. She serves as editor of Nishei magazine ( and was homeschooling three of her four children before it was mandatory. She has recently taken up bike riding. Her favorite dessert is tiramisu. Vicki Goldstein Seznick, a long-time Seattle resident, real estate broker, avid traveler, skier, sailor, and devotee of the arts, has been moved by blooms and blossoms all her life. She loves painting abstract, realistic and creative expressionistic versions of nature she encounters during her trips abroad, and during springtime when nature’s glory shines in Seattle. Rebbetzin Dini Sharfstein, born and raised

in Denver, Colorado, lives in St. Johns, FL. She serves as co-director of Chabad of St. Johns County and founded the GROW program, a Jewish after-school enrichment program in the public schools. She’s passionate about sharing the joy and love of Jewish life. She loves to sing and dance. Her favorite dessert is anything with peanut butter. She’s the mom to five amazing girls K”H.

Rebbetzin Rena Schochet, born in Balti-

more, lives in Jacksonville, FL. A professional speaker, writer, and coach, she is also leader of the local CORE group, which empowers women to connect and grow. She is passionate about learning Torah and teaching what she learns to others, helping and listening and connecting with others. She is very proud of her three sons and her grandchildren. Almost half of her grandchildren have finished high school plus, and she is now waiting for them to find their basherts.

Carin M. Smilk is a Jewish journalist living outside Philadelphia with her husband and four sons. Currently the managing editor of, she worked five years as a full-time editor in the news department of Chabad. org.

Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020





Nishei – Jewish Women’s Magazine, Spring 2020

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