The rehearsal dinner should be a time of joy, with parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins from both sides of this new family tree gathering for the first time. But often it's the most harrowing time in the run-up to a wedding.
Since our weather is getting warmer and luscious lavender flowers seem to be taking over the city, as well as accessorizing culinary offerings in our favorite restaurants, this classic floral fragrance is a delight at a bridal shower.
When author Marge Piercy was a little girl, her grandmother set a special place at the Passover seder for Blackie, her grandmother's cat.
Consider orchestrating a Bar Mitzvah Treasure Hunt that you can host in your backyard, throughout your house or even in a hall rented for the occasion.
If you were in Jerusalem at the crack of dawn on a Monday or Thursday, you would see dozens of bar mitzvah boys davening by the Western Wall, being taught to lay tefillin for the first time. In Persian families this practice includes a morning prayer service and a breakfast for close family and friends.Since the b'nai mitzvah ceremony is rife with spiritual meaning, a lovely way to start the sacred day is an early morning gathering to greet the sunrise.
Although Irwin S. Field couldn't reserve the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton more than a year in advance, he wanted to make sure that his favorite Israeli chef would be available.
If you meet Grace Quinn sunning herself on the patio of her home at Westwood Horizons Retirement Residence or pushing her bright red walker in Trader Joe's, you wouldn't guess that this nonagenarian is one of the founders of Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center.
With the flurry that surrounds a b'nai mitzvah celebration, we often lose sight that this day -- this passage from childhood to adulthood -- will be one of the most meaningful memories of his or her life.
Since today's weddings are rife with new traditions, why not serve your guests a rehearsal dinner menu infused with Champagne?
For New York chef and restaurateur Jeffrey Nathan, Sukkot is a time to practice what he preaches in his new book, "Jeff Nathan's Family Suppers: More Than 125 Simple Kosher Recipes."
Although today's bar mitzvah parties are often as elaborate as yesterday's weddings, there's a new trend on the horizon -- a, noisy, jubilant oneg Shabbat and lunch directly after the ceremony, and a quiet, intimate dinner at home for a few close friends and family at night.
In our family, Shabbat is always a potluck.
Are you the designated bridal shower giver this season? Don't let the happy occasion of your daughter, your best friend's daughter or even your fourth cousin-once-removed's daughter give you the jitters.
Unlike the bar and bat mitzvah parties of my youth, which were often like pint-sized weddings, where barely a dozen preteen friends and a smattering of cousins ate grown-up food, mingled, and danced awkwardly among a sea of elders
Yom Kippur's break the fast is the most anticipated meal of the year. Of course, it's because we're starving; we've been fantasizing about that first bite for the last 25 hours.
The wedding was beautiful. Everything went off without a hitch. Now it's time for the farewell finale -- the "Goodbye, it's been great to see you, thanks so much for coming" Sunday brunch.
Your mishpacha may have traveled from around the world to attend this wedding, and because it's rare that they're gathered all together for the entire weekend, it's your pleasure to send them off well fed.
Monty Hall spent 27 years making outrageous deals with anxious contestants on his TV game show, "Let's Make a Deal." But the sweetest deal he ever made with his mishpachah was for a plate of pickled herring if they'd join him for Passover seder.
Instead of spending upwards of $30 per person and having the whole family kvetch about "prosaic pasta" and "commonplace chicken," or spending even more money hiring a caterer to tramp through your house and schmutz up your kitchen, how about making our delicious, do-able menu and toast the bride with a heartfelt "mazel tov!" and a glass of Champagne in your garden?
Three years ago, Los Angeles entrepreneur Severyn Ashkenazy gathered in Warsaw, Poland, a small group of American and Polish Jews, all of whom had fled their native land during the Holocaust, and hosted the first Passover seder in that city since 1945.
When Jeffrey Nathan auditioned for his first job cooking for the captain of a Navy destroyer somewhere in the middle of the Pacific and substituted vanilla for Worchester sauce in the meatloaf, little did he know his destiny was a 375-seat upscale kosher restaurant in Manhattan's garment district named Abigael's.
"All Jewish stories have a deeper meaning," reflected Judy Aronson, a graduate of Brandeis University and Harvard Divinity School. "It's the community that makes the latkes, the people that create the celebration. If nobody had contributed anything, all they'd have was an iron nail. Because everybody cooperated, they not only had a feast, they had peace of mind forever more."
This year, 5763, Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat, the weekly observance that Sen. Joseph Lieberman calls "a sanctuary to put the outside world on hold and concentrate on what's really important -- your faith and your family." And although Lieberman, who was the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2000, will experience the same joy he feels every Friday night as he takes off his watch and prepares to get into the Sabbath mood, during Rosh Hashana all activities are heightened -- the prayers are longer, the conversation more intense, the urgency to evaluate the past year and make resolutions for a sweet New Year more palpable.
My mother is 85. But she doesn't look a day over 70. She takes no prescription drugs, no hormones; her memory is razor sharp.
Of all our family traditions, the Passover seder is the one we look forward to the most. We all fight over who will host it, but no matter, everyone pitches in with the cooking, making sure the seder plate is appropriately filled, the multicourse table properly set. My father and brother, Dennis, share responsibilities for hiding the afikomen and rewarding the lucky child who finds it. Although my father leads the service, with Dennis by his side, all generations participate, down to my 6-year-old granddaughter, Tiara.
Because my ancestors were from Eastern Europe, specifically Latvia, Lithuania and Vilna, I am Ashkenazi. Just as I thought all Jews spoke Yiddish, a language I delight in because it's so colorful, I grew up thinking Jewish cooking was my mother's brisket and carrot tzimmes, my Granny Fanny's chopped liver and my Aunt Dorothy's blintzes with sour cream. That's not to mention the dishes my brothers and I used to giggle about because their names were so amusing -- knaidlach, kreplach and knishes.
At sundown on Monday we usher in the happiest day of our calendar, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. For the next 10 days we'll be called upon to reexamine our lives -- to wake up and not only smell the roses, but plant them for other people to enjoy.
This month, just a few weeks after the High Holy Days, Theodore Bikel will begin a national tour of the bittersweet musical, "Fiddler on the Roof," reprising his role as Tevye the milkman. "Everyone is a fiddler on the roof," he'll explain in his 1,600th performance of the part, "trying to scratch out a simple tune without breaking his neck. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!"
When I was a child, too young to understand the difference between the Days of Awe and the Day of Atonement, my only clue that the High Holidays were coming were the religious smells wafting out of our kitchen.
The Chicago-raised Mandy Patinkin is something of a poster boy for the warm, extended Jewish family -- the children and grandsons and granddaughters of Eastern European immigrants who came to this country early in the 20th century to seek their fortunes and raise their families.
Although I've been attending Passover dinners from the time I was knee-high to a scrupulously set seder table, there's something I've never really thought about until recently: how does all this storytelling relate to me?
My Granny was gleeful, giving us the best part of her, as we gathered in her kitchen on the first day of the joyous holiday -- Chanukah -- the "Festival of Lights".
When Ziva Naumann's family gathers for her annual Rosh Hashanah dinner, each of her children and grandchildren expects to be called upon.