RECENT RELEASE! A Fragile Thread

April 21, 2015

L723Ever try keeping a big secret for a day? A month? A year? A few decades? It takes a lot of energy to keep up your guard. And it’s plain old hard to pull around all that extra mental weight. As a counselor I’m used to being a keeper of secrets, but it’s much more difficult to keep my own, especially when curious bystanders or doting relatives question why I am doing (or not doing) this, that or the other. Believe me, there are good reasons why I cringe at the scent of freshly-cut grass, avoid buying the last package of anything at the store and rarely send photographs to certain relatives and friends.

The Mendelsons look like a typical, happy family, but beneath the surface, everyone is struggling. Zahava is engaged in a toxic competition with her co-worker and is also suffering from secondary infertility. Teenage Shani is desperate to be unique, Nussy has a secret dream that is calling his entire life direction into question, Chaim has a secret job, and Mr. and Mrs. Mendelson are keeping the most shocking secret of all.

In classic Yael Mermelstein fashion, you are invited on a journey of the heart- to explore and illuminate fragile family relationships. But don’t expect me to spill the beans. Read A Fragile Thread for yourself. Hear the Mendelsons’ secrets, think about your own, and just maybe, consider which things really should have been out in the open in the first place.

Guest Blogger: Sara Miriam Gross

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NEW RELEASE! Modeling Clay

April 1, 2015

L719It’s a complicated world out there. So often, we find ourselves having to make difficult decisions, where there’s a very fine line between what’s right and what’s wrong to do. And sometimes that line is actually pretty thick and clear-cut, but one’s yetzer hara gets in the way, hazing things up for the person, so that everything becomes a muddled mass of confusion anyway… Modeling Clay, our latest novel, touches on all this in a very poignant and powerful way.

Modeling Clay is about the tough choices facing a talented and creative teenager–and the repercussions that follow as a result of the path she opts for. Warning: there’s a whole lot of depth, emotion, and painfully honest soul-searching going on in this book, and the reader should expect the onset of tears while engrossed in this gripping novel. But there’s nothing more satisfying than a character finally coming to the right conclusions about his or her life, and so, dear reader, don’t worry about the book leaving you depressed or anything like that; to the contrary, this is a book that, when read in its entirety, has the capacity to make your heart sing! Yes, it’s that powerful a book!

Beautifully written by Rochel Braverman, an emerging name in the world of star writers, this is the book you’ll want to read whenever you get some downtime this Pesach. (Is “downtime” and “Pesach” an oxymoron? Well, even if it is, for a book like this, you better make sure to carve out some sort of slot of  reading time for yourself! Tell your family it’s for their good–so you’ll be more energized and ready to produce more Pesach-dik brownies for them!)

Click here to purchase online.

NEW RELEASE! Between Teens

March 31, 2015

L718Are you one of those lucky Pesach-makers who actually has a teenage daughter helping you with the work? Okay, okay, so she’s not too keen on the cleaning part–she’d rather do the shopping for you, bake Pesach cakes, help with things like that…but hey, let’s not be picky. Any help is a big help, especially at this time of year, right?

So, this hardworking daughter of yours…she deserves some kind of recognition for what she’s doing, don’t you think? Nothing too pricey–you are making Pesach, after all–but some token of your appreciation for her efforts… (Spoken like a real teen, I know, but listen, I’ve been there, done that, too! Haven’t we all, as teenagers who helped our mothers before Pesach, craved some recognition for that help?)

Well, we’ve got just the thing for her! Between Teens, a book for real teens, about real teens…it’s the perfect gift for any teenage girl. With nearly 40 short stories and experiences of teens, each one inspiring and entertaining, this book has “Winner for Teens” written all over it!

So make your daughter’s day–and Yom Tov. Buy her this great book, and write her a nice note to go with it… Believe me, you’ll be the one reaping the rewards for this when you see how much more she suddenly starts doing for you afterward…

Click here to purchase online.

NEW RELEASE! West of the Nile

March 27, 2015

C397Give your kids a whole lot more than an ordinary book for their Afikoman present this year! Give them an authentic taste of what life was like in Mitzrayim at the time of the Jewish People’s slavery!

West of the Nile is an exciting historical novel for all your adventure-loving teens and tweens. It’ll take them–along with Yitzy, the main character in the book–to Egypt of long ago, on a quest to find a desperately needed medicine that is hidden somewhere in the land, among ruthless Egyptian priests and other powerful–and cruel–officers…

This  is a book that will transform your hyper, need-to-be-doing-something child into a sudden bookworm. Yes, the story is that spellbinding! And the best part is, the book is so wholesome–even educational; your child will be picking up loads of mefarshim on the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim, along with the adventurous story that he’s reading.

Just one little piece of advice, parent to parent: Don’t give the book to your kid when he’s supposed to be taking a nap for the next night’s Seder, or chances are that that nap will never happen…

Click here to purchase online.

NEW RELEASE! Ready to Fly

March 24, 2015

L721Did you ever wonder where a writer gets his or her ideas from? How often do you scratch your head and think, Now how did they come up with that? Authors are accosted by readers at weddings and bar mitzvahs, or in the supermarket, and are interrogated more thoroughly than the CIA about their plots and characters–to the extent that you’d think they were involved in espionage or something!

“Great story, loved your characters… Who is Tante Grizabella based on? Do you have a relative who behaves like that?”

“Are your stories real? If so, can you write one about me?”

“I’d love to write a story, too, but I can’t come up with any ideas. My head’s filled with air.”

Hmm…now there’s a starter already. “My head’s filled with air…” Where does that lead you?

That’s all it takes…five small words…to stimulate a story.

In her compilation of short stories, renowned Hamodia and Binah author Batya Ruddell takes readers on a personal tour behind the stage, to meet the props and learn what inspired and motivated her to write about them. Each story has an anecdote at the end of it, telling what went on behind the scenes.

This concept is unique; it’s never been done before in any anthology. Ready to Fly provides an insight into an author’s mind, how she sees the world from the perspective of her pen that takes everyday events, develops them into words, and puts them down on paper. It is fascinating to see how she gets from one place to the next, how a single thought or observation can suddenly inspire an entire story or send her off in a completely different direction from where she started. The anecdotes will bring you closer to the author, so you’ll almost feel like you know her.

The stories in this anthology have all previously appeared in either Hamodia or Binah magazine, so many of you will be familiar with some of them. In this inspiring volume, you’ll find stories that you once read and wanted to keep, but somehow the magazine got lost or used as wrapping paper for your kids’ lunches. Now, after the Shabbos meal is over and the children are safely tucked in bed, Batya gives you the opportunity to curl up with your favorites. Beware–you may still be on the couch the next morning!

There is something here for everyone, from a disease-ravaged village in Africa, to a lonely raincloud that doesn’t have any water, to an engaging relationship between a frum, female doctor and her young Russian patient, a famous pianist who lost her hand in an accident. Whichever stories you like best, there’s one thing that’s certain: just like the title of the book, you’ll be lifted up high, carried on wings–ready to fly!

Click here to purchase online.


NEW RELEASE! The Time is Now!

March 23, 2015

C400You know the kid who just doesn’t know the definition of the word “rush”; who just doesn’t know how to move fast? He’s the kid who loves to dawdle and krotz around, while you’re, more often than not, gritting your teeth while trying to keep your cool and saying, “Hurry up, you’re going to miss the bus!” and other such sentiments.

What if you could read that child a story about a boy who was just like that, too–but who actually was motivated to learn how to act with zrizus? Wouldn’t you race (speaking of zrizus, you know…)to get your hands on such a book?

Well, be careful as you run, now–because we do have a book just like that! It’s called The Time is Now! and it’s an adorable story about a boy named Ben, who didn’t know the meaning of the word “when”… I won’t give away any other lines, but I will tell you that this book is a real winner, perfect for reading to any child, especially one who could use a good lesson in the middah of zrizus!

So pull out this book and cozy up on the couch with your child…and let the magic of the story work its wonders on the listeners… Hey, your child may make his bus to school, after all–miracles do happen, you know!

Click here to purchase online.

NEW RELEASE! Kitzur Halachos Pesach

March 22, 2015

L713The following true story is NOT for the faint of heart. But, as I said, it is true, and it teaches a really good lesson–one that unfortunately I had to learn the hard way. You, on the other hand, can learn from my mistake, and always ASK before you take matters into your own hands.

It was Erev Pesach. I and two of my siblings, who shall remain unnamed for obvious reasons, were working in the kitchen and schmoozing.

“You know,” I mused aloud, “anything that touches food has to be kashered before Pesach…but what about our retainers? Food touches them all the time; why don’t we have to kasher them?”

[Author’s note: All three of us wore orthodontic retainers, after having worn braces for several years. All three of us.]

“Maybe we do have to kasher them!” said my sister.

“How?” asked my brother.

The three of us, all in our early teens, discussed it, until we came up with the obvious solution: we needed to immerse the retainers in boiling water.

And so, without stopping to ask a sheilah, without even asking our parents, we set up a pot of boiling water and proceeded to kasher those retainers.

Except that when they finally emerged from their scalding bath, they didn’t really look like retainers anymore. The plastic part had become misshapen and deformed, and suffice it to say, they did not fit in our mouths anymore.

Oh, and did I mention that each set of retainers, being custom-made, cost nearly $1,000? And all three of us wore them.

I don’t think I need to tell you how very displeased our parents were with us on that day…

But we had such good intentions! I remember thinking to myself in consternation. We were only trying to do what’s right; to follow the halachah like good Torah Jews. How could we have flopped so badly?

The answer, of course, is that it’s not enough to have good intentions and to want to follow the halachah; you need to ask and find out what the correct halachah is, in each and every case! (In this case, by the way, we were told that it would be enough to simply clean the retainers very well for Pesach, although each person should ask his rav for his own psak.)

And that is why I so strongly endorse investing in a clear and easy-to-understand sefer on hilchos Pesach, such as Kitzur Halachos Pesach, by Rabbi Zev Hofstedter, before attempting to go through this holiday on your own. Like this, you never have to guess about a halachah–everything is clearly explained, so that you know exactly what halachah requires you to do, each step of the way.

As I said, I learned the hard way about the importance of asking sheilos and checking up halachos in a sefer. But you can take the easier route. With the purchase of Kitzur Halachos Pesach, you can be sure that you won’t be making the kind of mistakes I did…

Click here to purchase online.


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