NEW RELEASE! Stargazing

November 14, 2017

One of my English teachers in high school would say that she could only give an A plus to an essay that either made her laugh or cry. I would definitely give the highest grade to Stargazing, a book that will have readers crying yet smiling at the same time. And I’m pretty sure Mrs. Polster would agree with me about this book, too!

Rochel Grunewald is a rising star in the writing field, and in Stargazing, her debuting novel, her talent and skills are quite apparent. Stargazing takes us into the lives of a “blended family”—or, at least, a family with members who are valiantly trying to blend themselves…and others who are trying just as hard to undo all that effort.

While Michal does her best to rise above her pain and make things work, Tali and Nina, her new step-sisters, seem determined to make her, and the rest of the family, miserable, destroying any chance of them ever becoming a real family. And throughout it all, we follow the thoughts and feelings of little Laylie, Michal’s younger sister, who can’t understand why her family can’t just be happy together.

Things come to a head when Tali makes a radical decision that sends everyone reeling in shock. That’s when Laylie decides that it’s up to her to do something about this…

Follow the intricate family and social dynamics in this compelling novel. This is a book whose story and message with linger with you long after you’ve finished reading it!

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NEW RELEASE! Shadchanus in Halachah

November 2, 2017

My mother has the biggest heart of anyone I know. Sending meals to neighbors who are feeling under the weather, making sheva brachos for anyone she might remotely know, visiting homebound elderly people—these are all part of her normal daily routine.

And then there are her shidduchim, of course.

Having been blessed with a knack for making shidduchim, my mother decided that she would like to specialize in the area of the “underdogs”—those singles who often have a harder time finding their bashert, whether because they are ba’alei teshuvah and not “well-connected,” or because they’ve been previously married, or have a medical condition, or any other kind of potential impediment. And baruch Hashembli ayin hara, she has seen much success in her matchmaking endeavors. In marrying these singles off, that is. Not in making financial gains from it.

Time and again, my siblings and I have watched my mother invest hours upon hours into a shidduch—which, with Hashem’s help, sometimes culminates in a happy engagement…and then get a $7.99 bottle of wine as remuneration.

Not that my mother complains about that—not at all! For her, the greatest gift she could receive is the knowledge that two lonely souls have found their mate and are embarking on building their own bayis ne’eman together.

But it does make me wonder: why don’t people know that there is a real inyan  to pay a shadchan for his or her work? It’s not simply a nicety—it’s actual halachah! Yet there are so many out there who are truly clueless about this.

Thankfully, there is now a sefer out on the market that can help remedy this disturbing phenomenon. Shadchanus in Halachahby noted author Rabbi Shlomie Dickman and shadchan Rabbi Tzadok Katz, clearly explains the exact parameters of the halachos of paying a shadchan for his or her work. It addresses all the common questions and scenarios: How much money should be given? When must shadchanus be paid—when the shidduch is finalized or at the wedding? When there are multiple shadchanim involved in a shidduch, how is the shadchanus divided?

In addition to outlining the halachos and minhagim of giving shadchanus, this book also presents a series of fifteen fascinating, real-life she’eilos and teshuvos on the topic. An important work to read, Shadchanus in Halachah will educate and entertain as it makes an enigmatic topic in halachah clear to all.

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