Sunday, January 31, 2010

Recommended Reading

by EHNTJC Parent Amy Claver

A wonderful benefit to having children is making new friends. Most of my close friends today are parents of children with whom my children are friends. I have also had the fortunate opportunity to attend a parenting group led by a professional family counselor through my son’s school enrichment program. In addition to commiserating with others in the same boat, I learned about some great parenting books.

One evening I read aloud from Louise Bates Ames’ series, Your 6 Year Old, to my husband who immediately sprang into action and tried out one of the strategies on our son to get him to brush his teeth and go to bed. It worked like magic. Bruce and I felt like we had struck gold.

There are tons of parenting books out there and I have barely scratched the surface, but these are some of my favorites. In the interest of full disclosure, I can assure you that I have no relationship, financially or otherwise with the authors listed here. My sole motivation in recommending these books is to share the wisdom they contain with as many people as possible in the hopes of minimizing family discord and maximizing the love and appreciation all parents have for their children.

I discovered this book serendipitously while looking for another book. I have since become a huge David Wolpe fan and am building my David Wolpe collection with this book, and Why be Jewish? and Why Faith Matters. Teaching Your Children is a book I love for its wonderful insights and accessible strategies to talk with children about some of the most difficult yet important questions like Where does God come from? and What does God want from us?

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish Great especially if you have school-aged children. Helpful conversational scenarios are included. I’m keeping it handy for the tween years.

Excellent guide that walks you through the major parenting areas like respect for others, the pitfalls of over protecting your child, how to help your child deal with self control, food, chores, etc. Don’t let “Jewish Teachings” in the title throw you if you’re not Jewish. This book is a blessing to parents of any faith.

Your Six Year Old - Loving and Defiant by Louise Bates, Frances L. Ilg, and Betty David

This is one in a series, Your Four Year Old, Your Five Year Old, etc. Each book describes the stages for the age and includes strategies for behavior management and recommendations for gift ideas and books that are appropriate for the age.

This is a beautiful tribute to family and the importance, beauty, and benefits of celebrating Shabbat at home. Recipes (real food, not just challah recipes), instruction on how to braid challah, and a discussion guide on the weekly Torah readings are included.

Bad news: children aren’t born extraordinary. Good news:you can make your children extraordinary. Esquith explains the essential tools children need in their “intellectual backpack” to navigate life in a productive, meaningful way and to help them maximize their potential.

Parenting is tough. Materialism, narcissism, and many more “isms” bombard our children every day. When you signed up to be a parent, you signed up to be their instruction manual. Arm yourself with these tools of the parenting trade and become a guerilla of grace. Enjoy your children.

The Claver family is a member of Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation. Daughter, Sarah, age 4 attends the Gan, and son, William, age 6 is a Gan graduate and attends Hebrew School on Saturdays.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Knead a Reason to Challah?

By Betsy Rotberg and Amy Claver

Save the date and plan to join us for a special parent-child challah making event at Gan Yeladim, the early child development center at Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation (EHNTJC). The event takes place Sunday, February 21 from 1:00 pm. 2:30 p.m.

Share the joys of making Challah with your children and gain a renewed appreciation for the wonderful gift of Challah. The program is geared for children ages 3, 4 and 5 with their parents.

We will mix the ingredients and prepare the dough together. You will take home your dough to bake (or freeze for later.) There will also be an opportunity for adult study with Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg while the chidlren engage in their own supervised activities.

This event is presented by the Gan Yeladim Early Childhood Learning Center at Ezra Habonim The Niles Township Jewish Congregration. The Gan offers part-and full-day early child education for children ages 2-5, in a safe, warm and welcoming Jewish environment.

Gan Yeladim will be open for visitors interested in learning about our preschool and daycare. You will have an opportunity to tour the school and talk with the Gan director about our various options for quality daycare and preschool. You can find out more about Gan Yeladim by visiting

This event is open to the community. All are welcome. The suggested donation is $8 per family (pay at the door). RSVP's are requested by February 12 to Betsy Rotberg at or 847.675.4152.

Ezra-Habonim The Niles Township Congregation is located at 4500 Dempster Street in Skokie, IL.

Photo credit: Whistling in the Dark


By Amy Claver
It is January, but imagine summer—the green grass and trees that are fully dressed. The air is warm outside. Now imagine another thing to put on your to-do list. Back to reality.

The reality is that it is time to think about summer camp. Registration for many summer programs opens in January. As your child’s social secretary, you wouldn’t want little Sofie or Finn to miss out. Thankfully, it is easily done.

Camp Ramah’s day camp in Wheeling is fabulous for school-aged children. Our son William goes to public school. We love sending him to Camp Ramah in the summers for the wonderful Jewish reinforcement and enrichment that the camp offers, in addition to the great swimming, sports, and arts and crafts. With the camp’s pick up and drop off bus service included in registration, it is fun for the whole family. The bus service is door to door in Glenview where we live and centrally located at schools in Skokie, Evanston, and other areas.

Camp Ramah is holding an aptly titled Summer in January program on Sunday, January 31 at Beth El in Highland Park. This event is for alums (we’ll be there) and anyone interested in learning more about Camp Ramah.

For preschoolers, Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation's (EHNTJC)preschool, Gan Yeladim has opened summer registration. Contact Betsy Rotberg at 847/675-4152 or for more information on the program or come by and see the school for yourself. The Gan will hold an open house in conjunction with the Knead a Reason to Challah family challah making event on Sunday, February 21.

Gan Yeladim means Garden of Children. Growing children Jewishly is what the Gan is all about and is an integral component to EHNTJC's role as "Your Jewish Home for Living, Learning, Loving."

January means time to fill out your summer registration forms. And while you’re at it, book Grandma and Grandpa for some grandparent-grandkids bonding time for a few days between the end of the school year and beginning of camp. Sweet dreams.

The Claver family is a member of Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation. Daughter, Sarah, age 4 attends the Gan, and son, William, age 6 is a Gan graduate and attends Hebrew School on Saturdays.
Photo credit: Ramah Day Camp

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hanukkah Party, Parents Hidden Talents, Happy New Year

Hanukkah Party Smashing Success

I never thought of "mom's night on the town" as laughing it up at the EHNT Hanukkah party (I would have pictured a day at the spa, maybe?), but pictures don't lie! It looks like moms Deanna (3rd grader Lucca), Miram (1st graders, twins Dalia and Oren, and Gan-er Stav) and Alanna (7th graders, twins Logan and Lauren, plus college student Elissa-smiling in the lower right-hand corner) were whooping it up and enjoying the magic and humor by Randy!

Thanks to the Men's Club for once again hosting a fantastic and successful Hanukkah party. Members, potential members, kids and grandkids enjoyed the great show, listened to Rabbi Ginsburg sing Hanukkah classics (next year we should join in!), played (sometimes competitive) dreydl, ate kosher hot dogs and latkes and had an all around joyous and bright day.

Secret Talents of the Stars (aka fellow Parents)

Another treat this season was seeing Tami Glassberg (5th grader Robert) play concert violin at the Science and Arts Academy intercultural holiday show in December (they sang in English, Hebrew, French and more!). Okay, it's not an EHNT event, but watching mother and son play violin perfectly in concert with one another was fantastic. And, kvelling is never out of place!

Happy New Year...Again!

Having already celebrated, fasted, contemplated life and vowed to be a better me back in September, I felt like I had a real jump start on the "new year." But milestones like these (a decade ago many if not most of us would not have qualified to join the Parents Club!) always offer a moment to appreciate family, friends, health and all the blessings of life.

We look forward with hope to 2010, knowing that we have the power to be the change we want to see in the world, with every action, every day.

So, Happy New Year...Again!