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I have been begging begging begging my Nachlaot buddy Chaya Houpt for several months now to start a blog. Chaya is a very thoughtful, very smart, and very funny mom of 3 kids ages 3 and under. She’s also a really great writer. Well, my nudging finally paid off and Chaya finally agreed to start a new blog called AllVictories. I read it and was truly blown away. This totally surpassed my expectations. Definitely check it out.

Here’s a recent post from Chaya’s new blog. This brought tears to my eyes…Chaya, please keep writing!!!!

Elevating the Pink by Chaya Houpt

The discussion around Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter caught my attention. See, I have young girls, and there’s a lot of princess talk in my house, too. And most of it is coming from me.

I tell my young daughters to sit like princesses, no feet on the table. Meals are served in “princess portions,” and if they finish that, they can ask for seconds. When they behave in a way that is beneath their station, I tell them, “You are princesses; I expect more of you.”

I encourage my girls to see themselves as princesses, but I’m not talking Disney. Orenstein describes the effect of the princess culture as creating a reality where “how a girl feels about her appearance – particularly whether she is thin enough, pretty enough, and hot enough – has become the single most important determinant of her self-esteem.” That is not my aim. With all the princess chatter, I’m pushing for something a little deeper and more ancient than Grimm.

I am an Orthodox Jew. My concept of a princess comes from Psalms: “Kol kevuda bat melech penima—all the glory of a princess is within.” This is the opposite of the image of a pretty princess all in pink. The true value of a princess, according to the Psalms, is her internal reality, her essential self. Her image, her physical appearance does not define her. It is not here that her value lies. She is not rescued by the prince; she builds her relationships and her family through her greatness and nobility.

According to the mystical tradition, royalty (malchut) is a feminine trait. The Jewish concept of regality implies both grandeur and dignified humility. This is the royalty I desire for my daughters, this is what I am trying to teach them. The glittering tiara, the pink everything—this is not what it means to be a princess. A princess is someone so confident in herself that she can make space for other people. A princess radiates majesty and self-possession that come from within.

My twin girls are three-and-a-half. They love trucks, construction work and dinosaurs. But soon they will enter preschool, and all of that is likely to change. They will be assaulted by the “girlie-girl” ridiculousness that Orenstein critiques. My hope is that I can inoculate them by painting an alternate picture of what a princess is, so that when they hear, “You are such a pretty little princess,” they will recall that they are capable of true greatness. I hope they won’t be blinded by the sparkle. I can’t push back against the pink entirely, but I can try to rechannel it and elevate it.

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This was the first video I ever made a little over three years ago, and I think it’s still my absolute favorite. It’s so cute to see my big-boy Yoel as such a little baby, almost the same age as my little Tsofia Batsion is now- wearing that same fluffy blue coat, falling asleep in the same plastic crib, playing with that same brand of baby wipes.  Ahhhh! Memories…

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SUPERMOM.jpgphoto © 2008 Mike On Maui | more info (via: Wylio)
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This Israeli news report about the Zalmanov family moved me very deeply, even to tears.

I love this report so much because this is the first video I’ve ever seen that provides viewers with a real taste of a bustling Orthodox kidling-filled home.

I so loved watching mother Sima Zalmanov in action, at the epicenter of the 21-member Zalmanov family. In this video, we see Sima Zalmanov dealing with the inevitable personal and financial stresses of raising a large family. We see her attempting to have an adult conversation– and the muddy socks and the falling toddler and the phone call to her husband that interrupt her. We see her in her ongoing struggle to maintain order amongst their 21-plus pairs of shoes and the six daily loads of laundry and the 3 filled-to-the-brim shopping carts. And we ultimately see her hard-earned nachas, and her intense sense of mission equaled only by her intense love for her children.

As a mom who is working like the dickens just to keep her head above water (and the laundry pile, and the diapers, and the playdates, and the “Eema, can you help me!”), I find it absolutely awe-inspiring to see a mother like Sima Zalmanov who manages to keep a smile on her own face and on the faces of her kids and husband even though she is mothering SO MANY more children than me!

Sima Zalmanov is totally my hero! Enjoy!

Click here to watch one of the most beautiful videos I’ve ever seen– the Zalmanov family prepares for Passover. A must-see for every Jewish mom. Enjoy!

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Yesterday I posted something about the Bateses of Tennessee with their 18 children, but I realized that it’s a shame to post only about a Christian family when there are so many JewishMOMs out there blessed with jumbo-sized families.

And then I remembered the legendary Sima Zalmanov of Tsfat and her 19 children. I love this lady. She is such an inspiration.

More than anything else, I love Sima Zalmanov’s clarity about the tough-ness of pregnancy and birth vs. the priceless gift of a new baby. Or, as Sima Zalmanov challenges her interviewer, “Tell me, if someone told you that you would have a difficult month, but that at the end of that hard month you would receive a million dollars, would you agree to it?

I also love when she says, “Whatever the Holy One gives, we are happy. He knows what is best for us.” Simple but infathomably wise advice for all situations in life.

Here is a news report about Sima Zalmanov and her family, with English translation provided below. Enjoy!

An English translation of the video:
Anchorman: Sima Zalmanov is 47 years old, and she already has 19 children and 7 grandchildren.
Are you confused? Eliran Tal is too…

Interviewer in voice over: Anyone who thinks that “full house” is just a term used in poker apparently has never met the Zalmanov family from Tsfat. Father Yosef and mother Sima (who is only 47-years old and is a school principal) have no less than 19 children, and the youngest of the crew was born this past weekend. (CJW: this video is from 2 years ago)

The interviewer asks Sima: My wife is in her eighth month of pregnancy and she complains: “It hurts me! it’s hard for me!” and that’s just a first pregnancy. You’ve been through 19 pregnancies, how did you do it?!”

Sima Zalmanov: Tell me, if someone told you that you would have a difficult month, but that at the end of that hard month you would receive a million dollars, would you agree to it?

Interviewer: But pregnancy is nine months!

Sima Zalmanov: If you had to suffer a bit for 9 months, would you do it for a million dollars?

Interviewer: So you have 19 million dollars?

Sima Zalmanov: At least! More!

Interviewer in voice over: So the question is, how is it possible to raise 19 children and host 7 grandchildren in a 4-room apartment that is not especially spacious. And what do the children do in their
free time in a home without a computer or television? The Zalmanov family proves that this is a difficult mission, but that it’s definitely possible. All you need is 3 refrigerators, a 3-meter long kitchen table, a bit of faith, and, more than anything else, a good memory.
(CJW: If I had been the interviewer, I, of course, would have changed this last sentence to “All you need is…a good memory, and more than anything else, a whole lot of faith.)

Interviewer asks: Do you remember all of your children’s birthdays?

SZ: Of course.

Interviewer: What about Estie?

SZ: Estie’s birthday is on the 16th of Adar

Interviewer: What about Yisrael?

SZ: On the 4th of Adar

SZ (pointing to fridge) We have a rotation system. This chart says who is bringing the younger children to nursery school. And this chart is for the sandwiches for school. So that there won’t be any questions,
each child said what he or she likes and doesn’t like…

Interviewer in voice over: By the way, even though it’s difficult at times, there are definitely plans for the future…

Interviewer asks: Do you have plans for a 20th child?

SZ: Whatever the Holy One gives, we are happy. He knows what is best for us. Whatever He does, we will be overjoyed.

Interviewer: There is room for another one…

SZ (smiling): There’s always room.


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I found this ABC report about a family with 18 children to be VASTLY entertaining.

I’ve been feeling recently that while I’m doing a somewhat OK job at being a good mom to my 6 kids (and I am trying every day to be even more somewhat OK), I am not really cutting it in terms of taking care of the STUFF of the ever-expanding Weisberg family.

The overflowing pajama drawers, the hallway carpeted with laundry, the occasional socks that sprinkle the stairs, the beds, even the bathroom. I just can’t seem to get this clothing-for-8-people thing under control!

My favorite scene in this video is, therefore, watching Mrs. Bates taking on her Mt. Everest sock pile– and winning!

Watching Mrs. Bates handle everything she does with 3 times as many kids as me, and with so much grace and dignity and positivity, made me feel hopeful. If Mrs. Bates can do it, maybe Mrs. Weisberg can too?

Vodpod videos no longer available.


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My 3-year-old, Yoel, been asking some funny questions recently.

“How does a mouse go to the bathroom if he has a tail?”
“Bread comes from flour. Apples come from a tree. But where do people come from?”

And yesterday, Yoel’s stumper of the day was:
“Eema, what color is Hashem?”

I responded to Yoel with the feigned interest of a distracted eema: “Ummm…I Dunno…”
My bat mitzvah girl, Hadas, responded to Yoel with the rational response of a Rambamist: “Hashem isn’t any color!”
My kindergartner, Moriah, responded with the theological clarity of a budding mystic: “Hashem is white!”

And Yoel responded like Yoel.

He ascended to the playroom, and returned after 10 minutes with the answer to his question in hand and the declaration: “Hashem is this color!”

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