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Jewish Journal

Sharon Duke Estroff

  • Raising pint-sized ‘People of the Book’

    November 1, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    To harried modern parents, few things sound more luxurious than a quiet weekend away -- no cell phones, no televisions -- with a pile of unread books. To the vast majority of their children, few things sound more torturous. It's not that modern-day kids don't enjoy reading. Most do....
  • It’s the mitzvah, not the bar, that counts

    September 27, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    It's been said that when it comes to raising children, the days go slow and the years go fast. As I find myself in the thick of planning my second son's bar mitzvah, these words ring all too true. But who has time for sentimentalism when you've got to pull off a colossal bar mitzvah...
  • The sweet rewards of Rosh Hashanah rituals

    September 8, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    The change was subtle but undeniable. A slightly deeper shade of brown; carrots cut lengthwise rather than sliced; some scattered sprigs of rosemary. Any other day of the year, such a discrete rift in recipe might have gone unnoticed. But this was not any other day of the year --...
  • To sleep-away camp ... perchance to dream

    February 22, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Going to overnight camp for the first time. It is -- in many circles -- a Jewish rite of passage. Unlike becoming a bar or bat mitzvah, however, the perfect timing for transitioning from day camper to overnight camper is not preordained; on the contrary, it can vary significantly...
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  • Online social scene clicks with younger set

    January 18, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    OK, admit it. You've breathed a guilty sigh of relief that your kids are still too young to have been bitten by the MySpace bug. You've relished the reprieve (if only temporary) from the mounting worries of parents of virtual-social-networking-obsessed middle and high schoolers.

    But...

  • At Party Time: Candy is dandy—charity is sweeter

    January 11, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    I was struggling to secure a tiny satin kippah with a granny-sized bobby pin when it hit me like a ton of Pampers: One day (assuming we both survive the main event at the bris), this 8-day-old baby will be standing on the bar mitzvah bimah wearing a really big satin kippah!...
  • The magic Spend/Save/Tzedakah Plan keeps kids thinking

    October 26, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    "I know what I want for my birthday," my first-grader announced upon returning from school today. "A PSP [PlayStation Portable]."

    "Jake" I replied, intent on giving my son perspective on how much his request would cost. "Do you realize that you could go to the dollar store and buy...

  • When Birthday Party Blowouts Blowup

    September 7, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    The wedding invitation convinced me that modern moms and dads have officially lost their gumballs regarding children's birthday parties. "Master Jacob Estroff" read the ivory parchment envelope; it took a moment to register that the addressee was in fact Jakey, my 5-year-old. The...

  • Helping Kids Cope With Difficult Teachers

    August 17, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    It's a scene straight out of the worst-case scenario parent handbook. Our child -- a normally happy student -- lands the "Teacher From the Black Lagoon." She's evil, he tells us shaking in his Air Jordans. Not to mention out to get him. How can he possibly be expected to learn when...
  • Rite of Passage Bestows Bundle of Intangible Gifts

    August 10, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    When we think of bar and bat mitzvah gifts, many things come to mind: fountain pens, cuff links, picture frames, checks. But the true gifts of this religious rite of passage extend far beyond the envelopes and boxes piled up at the party door. Here are a few of the intangible yet...
  • Throw a Party With a Purpose

    April 13, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    "I'll call your bet and raise you two," the sequin-clad woman said.

    "Go for it," I said, only to see my winnings swept up moments later by a poker-faced dealer.

    "You may have won this round," I told my chip-hauling opponent. "But just wait until after the Motzi!"

    Having one son...

  • The Best Presents: Ritual and Repetition

    December 22, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    During my family's annual Thanksgiving beach road trip this year, my kids showed remarkable stamina for tolerating monotony as they watched the "Rugrats' Chanukah" video 12 times in a row. I was about to inquire how they could manage to consistently laugh like fiends each time they...

  • Give Some Honey to Apples of Your Eye

    September 22, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    The High Holiday Hustle. We know the steps well. It starts with a tireless trek to the mall in search of that stylish synagogue suit. Next comes the culinary juggling act, simultaneously preparing Aunt Sophie's tzimmes, Bubbe's killer kugel and a 22-pound turkey, dressed and trimmed....

  • Pitfalls of Making Playdate Plans

    May 26, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    Brandon was 3 the first time another mother called me to schedule a playdate.

    "A playdate," I giggled. "That's so clever! Did you make that up yourself?" (The dead silence on the other end of the phone clued me in that I had just made a monumental maternal faux pas that could...

  • How to make a seder child’s play

    April 21, 2005 | 8:00 pm

     

    For parents of squirmy kids, a Passover seder can seem longer than the 40 years our ancestors spent wandering through the desert. Fortunately, all it takes is a little forethought and creativity to keep the younger set from getting as jumpy as the frogs in Pharaoh's bed at the big...