Important thoughts from author Sherri Mandell…….10 ways to help Newtown’s grieving families: from a mother who knows

The Blessing of a Broken Heart (Toby Press) by Sherri Mandell  is the heartbreaking story of Sherri’s life during and after the murder of her son Koby by Palestinian terrorists. The book touched thousands and continues to do so. It was a winner of the National Jewish Book Award in 2004. I had the honor of being the publicist for this book when it was released.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Sherri has shared some thoughts in The Times of Israel on how to be of assistance to the mourning families.  While working with Sherri I quickly learned that she is a wise woman and her ideas are worth reading and sharing.

A few excerpts:

“The grieving families no doubt are receiving a lot of help right now. But eventually that help will go away. The families will be left alone. Stay with them for the long run.”

“I would give anything not to have learned the vital importance of loving words, helpful deeds and the embrace of community. But I hope my experience can provide guidance that will help ease the pain of others.”

“Keep calling. Don’t tell the person that they should call you if they need you. You are responsible for calling them. You are there to support them. Don’t expect anything back from them.”

“Don’t ask them if they need anything. Say, I will be by on Monday to take you to the doctor or to bring you a meal or to help you with the wash.”


No Joke. This looks likes a “must have” book for Chanukah.

No jokes. Inside Chanukah by Aryeh Pinchas Strickoff seems like a “must have” book for Chanukah. (Full disclosure…the publisher is a client but… I go through this book I am enjoying it more & more. We are beyond publicity here folks).

So if you want to say something interesting at the family Chanukah party (office party, whatever). Or just to know more about the holiday  – this book is your answer.

It literally has everything on Chanukah. Did I say everything?  At first I thought it was actually too much info. But I am realizing that what the author told me is true……one can peruse the book for a few minutes and come away with something valuable.

Why do we eat certain foods? There are three pages just on sufganiyot (donuts) and another two pages on latkes.

Why do we give money to kids on Chanukah? A nice explanation the author brings from the Belzer Rebbe is that by giving money to kids, we are making it easier to give money to the poor discreetly – since money is being handed out pretty widely, who knows who is actually poor?

A look at some original Roman or Jewish texts on Chanukah.

Intricate legal and philosophical discussions on which way the menorah ought to be lit.

And…if something doesn’t grab me…I skip it. There is so much else to read.

I saw this book in all the usual Judaica stores & of course you can still get it delivered in time to learn something new about this Chanukah if you order online (plus, Feldheim has a nice 20% off sale on right now).


A Helpful Seminar from the Jewish Book Council

Yesterday I was a guest at the Jewish Writers Seminar: Writing for Adult Readers held by the Jewish Book Council in NYC.

I have attended all sorts of seminars, workshops and publishing universities over the years. This JBC event was one of the useful events.  The panels included agents, editors, authors and publicists.  The information shared was, for the most part, the information I find so many authors need. I wish more authors were able to hear this information before they set out on their publishing journey.

The audience was made up of authors, some published and some not yet published. They asked good questions & the answers were usually spot on. There was very little fluff (OK, there was some….we are dealing with publishing here folks!).

Some helpful info:

– be part of a writing community, connect with other authors from your genre. Don’t be alone.

– Be an expert in the subject you are writing on: start speaking publicly and writing for the media on your topic, and don’t wait until your book is out to do it!


Gaza Conflict Hits US Jewish Publisher

Israeli websites have been getting hit non-stop by cyber warfare as part of the conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Now, it appears, the cyber warfare has come to US shores.  According to a post on Facebook, NY based publisher, Menucha Publishing’s website was attacked yesterday, apparently by anti-Israel cyber warriors. The website was shut down all day.


Doing Social Media in Person at the KOSHER FOOD BLOGGER CONFERENCE

Meeting up with Jamie Geller & Levana Kirschenbaum. Two authors I have enjoyed working with.
Meeting up with Jamie Geller & Levana Kirschenbaum. Two authors I have been privileged to work with.

We are in touch all the time. Email, Facebook, Twitter….whatever. But to meet in person? Who ever heard of….

The Kosher Food Blogger Conference this week in NY was just that. It was social media the way we used to do it – meeting, schmoozing…even trading business cards (very quaint, I know). I am a bit old school….having every statement tweeted is still something I am getting used to (although I was tweeting a mile a minute).

Bottom line: It really was exciting to meet up with Kosher food bloggers and authors who I work with all the time & never see in person. The conference was a great mix of quality speakers who really had useful things to say, new ideas,  plus (of course) food.