Monthly Archives: June 2014

Gemarakup Super Sleuth

Here’s your Jewish Encyclopedia Brown.  These mini mysteries might leave you stumped, but Gemarakup solves them using lessons he learned in yeshiva.  Boys appreciate the genius, as most of them have learned the same stories in their own class.

“It’s very good!  He figures it out from stories he learned in Gemara,” says our Junior reviewer.  “Like the one where his uncle owns a jewelry store…and there’s a holdup, and…” okay, let your little gemara kups read it themselves.

There are four volumes in the Gemarakup series, available at, and at 5.99 each, they are extremely reasonable for Jewish books!

Here’s a link directly to Volume I:

[Gemarakup Super Sleuth, Miriam Stark Zakon, Artscroll]

5 Trips for Boys on the Way to the Country

We have a family tradition of sorts of stopping off on the way to the country for a rare family trip.  It’s often our only chance, as the rest of the summer the boys have a full schedule, and there’s no time to take them anywhere.

Here are some of our most successful trips.

1. Sterling Hill Mine, Ogdensburg, NJ

This mine of semi-precious stones is no longer active, but the tours and museum are fascinating.  You get to go down the tunnel into the mine shaft, and the guide gives a true-to-life description of the mining experience during the mine’s heyday.  Be on time for the one tour a day at 1:00 pm, and take along a sweater – it gets chilly down there!

2.  Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow, NY

This is an 18th-century estate, and it’s considerably well-preserved.  The tour of the manor house includes many interesting gadgets and household items that were typical of those times but surprising to a 21st-century child, such as the washing cup and matching chamber pot!  The working mill, the barn where they can winnow wheat or card wool, are all part of the experience.

Our first impression of the place was that we would be done in fifteen minutes…after two hours, my boys still had questions for the guides, and were still asking to go back to the barn ‘one more time.’

3. Wild West City, Stanhope, NJ

Like with everything in the Wild West, attend this attraction at your own risk!  I cannot vouch for the suitability of the shows; most were fascinating, but some had (what else?) shooting.  The shows are not on screen, but rather take place live in the center of Main Street.  You can work out your day to visit the Mountain Man, the school house, or other stores and sites of interest during the shows you prefer to miss.  But don’t miss the carriage ride into the woods…and better watch out for bandits!

This place ranked five-stars for my boys, but girls might not appreciate the atmosphere!

4. Space Farms Zoo and Museum

Don’t let the name throw you off.  Although the zoo is located on the original farm of the Space Family, these are not your typical barnyard specimens!  Gear up to meet numerous varieties of lions, tigers and bears, in addition to some tamer species.  If you’ve ever been to animal feedings in other zoos, you know about standing around for a twenty minute lecture before watching the penguin eat three fish.  At Space Farms, if you are there at feeding hour, you can chase after the golf cart and watch the zookeeper toss enormous steaks to salivating carnivores, one after another.  All action, no speeches.

There is also a substantial museum whose collection includes scores of antique cars, motorcycles and farm equipment, plus old toys and much more.

5. Park Ruach Hachayim, Monroe, NY

This summer, if it works out, we’d like to visit the park in Monroe, NY that we’ve heard so much about.   It’s called Ruach Hachayim, and it’s operated by the kehillah in Kiryas Yoel, with separate play areas for girls and boys.  It’s just over a year old, and from what we’ve heard, it is massive and has amazing climbing equipment.  The park is not open all the time, so it’s important to call first for information.


The Youngest Partisan

After A. Romi Cohn spoke at my son’s Yeshiva, my boys asked to buy his book, The Youngest Partisan; their eager expressions made it clear that they intended to read it.

Not only did my older boys read it cover to cover, but even my eleven- and thirteen-year-old boys, who rarely attempt full-length, adult books, were riveted, and read the entire book through until the end.

What they said, “I kept waiting to get up to the part where he becomes a partisan, but the whole book is very interesting.”

And, “He keeps having to run from place to place, and he hides who he is in order to help other Jews.”

In short, A. Romi Cohn’s tremendous courage as a teenager, when he was just a few years older than they are, is fascinating to today’s boys.

[The Youngest Partisan, A. Romi Cohn, Mesorah Publications]


Adventures of a Lifetime Series

Give your boys a dose of high adventure with the Adventures of a Lifetime series.  These books combine intrigue, memorable characters and the charm of Eretz Yisroel, with a touch of history for good measure.  The actions starts up early, and it keeps taking exciting twists and turns throughout the plot, keeping boys hooked.

So far we’ve read Destination Unknown and The Churva Plot, and we look forward to reading the latest adventure, Strangers in Yerushalayim.

[Adventures of a Lifetime Series, Zev Spektor, Judaica Press]

The series is available to purchase at Judaica Press

Two Secret Ingredients for Becoming a Kind Mother-in-law

by Miriam Hendeles

Okay, time for a little boasting: It’s no secret that I have a loving and healthy relationship with my daughters-in-law. I enjoy and respect my sons’ wives, and although each one is very different from the other, I feel very blessed to have them in my life.

So when the subject of mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law (MIL’s and DIL’s)  comes up amongst friends, people want to know how I do it. How do I refrain from criticizing, meddling, and otherwise experiencing negativity between myself and my sons’ wives?

My answer usually has more to do with how I raised my sons, than how I interact at the present moment with them and their wives. I think becoming a good mother-in-law has to start from when the kids are small.

Good Mothering = Good Mother-in-lawing:

I recall talking to a child development specialist when my kids were small about something that was going on with one of my children. I remember thinking  aloud and saying, “Oh, I sure hope I will be a good mother-in-law some day.”

To which this child expert responded “If you’re a good mother, then you’re a good mother-in-law.”

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