It all started with a void in the contemporary family.
"Our conversations with children are not deep enough," says psychiatrist Cece Feiler. "If you can't talk to your children, they grow up into adults who don't care.
"It forces you to slow down, to reflect and to interact in a meaningful way," Feiler says.
So together with actress Heidi Haddad, she created the Shabbat Box of Questions, whose Star of David-shaped question cards do inspire fun, even soul-searching moments.
Shabbat Box's origin began on a ski trip during which, while enduring slow service at a restaurant, Haddad says her husband, David, started asking their children -- Jackie, 10, Jamie, 8, and Jake, 6 -- questions "to keep the kids from melting down. And it worked."
Haddad and Feiler consulted Wilshire Boulevard Temple's Rabbi Steven Leder before finalizing their gift idea. Ever since, the two have been selling their product at charity events.
One Shabbat, the Haddad family brought out the Shabbat Box, and David Haddad picked up a question that asked what his greatest fear was. He admitted it was public speaking, which surprised Jackie, who shared this phobia. And that's when Jamie admitted her greatest fear: not being the center of attention.Feiler, who has tested Shabbat Box on her children -- Jordan, 10, Matisse, 8, and Shana, 6 -- adds, "We're finding our non-Jewish friends are enjoying them, too." In fact, Haddad and Feiler are already planning sequels, including a Christmas edition.
The questions are not all strictly Jewish. In addition to cards such as "What is a mitzvah?" there are ones such as "If you could stand up and fight for one cause that would make a difference in the world, what would it be?" Shabbat Box is an excuse to strengthen family ties, its creators say.
Feiler says, "If more families were engaged in communication, there wouldn't be more war, more divorces, more children in therapy with me."
For information on The Shabbat Box of Questions, visit www.shluffytime.com.