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A while ago, I was slated to teach a high-school class. I was warned that this particular group needed disciplining.

When I shared this information with my youngest daughter, she demonstrated methods employed by her teacher (including “the look”) to keep her class under control. My daughter expressed genuine concern: “Mommy, I can’t believe that you even know how to be strict!”

In an age when too many kids feel that their parents are “out of tune,” it was a sweet compliment. But truthfully, I don’t think I am a lenient parent; I’ve just been gifted with great kids, thank G‑d, who don’t need such hard-handed approaches.

Recently a new book was published by Amy Chua about the qualities of certain groups of people in helping their children succeed. Topping her list was the Jewish people.

In her original book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Chua claims that the demanding Eastern parenting model is better than the permissive Western one, which allows children to become self-indulgent.

Chua has called her children “garbage,” “pathetic” and “lazy,” and in one extreme example forced her unwilling daughter to master a difficult piece on the piano by threatening to take away her dollhouse and hold back her lunches, dinners, and even bathroom breaks.

Chua’s techniques sound extreme, especially to our Western ears, but her goal is to help her children achieve their best. As one commentator wrote, “Is it really more cruel than laissez-faire independence and babysitting-by-TV?”

In The Self-Made Child, this week’s Torah portion teaches us how to help our children actualize their abilities. In Back to the Calm, we learn how to reflect before reacting. And in My Week Without My Phone, we get a sweet reminder about what’s important.

While none of these articles advocate “Tiger Mom”’s severe methods, they provide helpful tools for motivating our children—and ourselves—to succeed.

Because, though the Jews top Chua’s list of successful people, I don’t know many Jewish moms who employ her harsh methods.

Wishing you a successful week!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S.: Those high-school students behaved like angels.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

Extroverts.

They are everywhere around you. They’re the center of attention at any gathering. And they have an endless array of witty comments to entertain their large circle of friends. They make themselves heard. Loudly.

But what about introverts? Just as only the tip of the iceberg peeks out of the ocean while its huge mass remains unseen in the depths below, most of an introvert’s rich inner life remains hidden within. They listen more than they talk, and think before they speak.

But don’t mistake that for a lack of character or creativity. Many of mankind’s greatest innovators and leaders were introverts. Their ideas simmered below the surface until the time came to unleash their revolutionary ideas—in their own quiet but supremely powerful way.

This week marks the yahrtzeit of an incredible woman, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, wife of our Rebbe. So much can be said about the Rebbetzin’s greatness, including her wisdom, her kindness, her self-sacrifice and her tremendous spiritual stature. But what stands out most perhaps was her humble, behind the scenes, quiet dignity. It was a dignity that exuded the most potent power.

In our article Are You An Introvert? we take a look at Susan Cain’s best-selling book, Quiet—The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. What do ancient Jewish teachings say about this increasingly popular trend of valuing the quality of an introvert? And how can this trend lead us to a more rectified world?

So, whether you are an introvert or extrovert, this week we take some thoughtful moments to reflect upon and appreciate a quiet life filled with enormous power and immeasurable contributions.

Wishing you a powerful week!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

Dear Readers,

It’s not often that our children love their school. Even rarer is when our children eagerly embrace the growth that their school teaches.

Impressed with the enthusiasm that my daughter shows toward her school, and seeing how her eyes sparkle when she talks about what she learns, I was looking forward to attend the school’s parent evening. The principal would be addressing us and explaining how she infuses our daughters with a tangible love of G‑d and a true joy in fulfilling His mitzvahs.

“How we nurture,” the principal passionately explained, “becomes our children’s nature.” The words that constantly escape our lips, the attitudes we promote, the songs we hum as we do our chores, our actions and reactions forge our little people into who they become.

This Thursday we celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the beginning of the new year for trees.

The Torah compares man “to a tree of the field.” Just as we cultivate a tree, we provide our children with their nurturance in order to coax out their potential.

But it only works if we are mindful in how we educate—if we take the time to think about what truly matters, and make sure our actions follow through.

This week, Elana Mizrachi asks, “Is it worth it?” Do we consider which of our children’s behaviors are really worth a reaction? Which conduct do we need to stop before it takes root, and which seeds do we want to plant in our children?

This week, too, Yvette Miller rethinks bar and bat mitzvah. She pointedly asks what messages are we giving to our children in how we celebrate these milestones, and provides practical suggestions for meaningful things that we can do.

To cultivate a strong and beautiful tree, it takes energy. It also takes a clear vision and daily “watering sessions” to nurture our goals.

Wishing us all clarity in how we parent our children—as well as how we parent ourselves—so that our daily actions conform to our lofty ideals.

Happy humming.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S. For an amazingly fun and educational activity to do with your children, students or friends, check out Chana Scop’s Tu B’Shevat craft idea.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

Dear Readers,

Have you ever met someone to whom you instinctively felt connected? I don’t mean someone that you grew up with, or with whom you share a long history. I mean an absolute stranger, who may have a completely different background or life’s journey, with whom you really bonded.

A couple summers ago, I met Jennifer Stark.

I was teaching a course on biblical women to a wonderfully inspired group of intelligent women, and I loved every minute of it. From the first class and the many long discussions in the ensuing ones, Jen’s eyes glowed with a sense of depth. She was so refreshingly honest and real. She was also so interested in growth and introspection, with the passion that we often find only in a baalat teshuvah (returnee to Judaism).

At the time, Jen was working on an abstract for her master’s degree. In her words, it would “explore my gradual growth from a secular Jewish woman to an Orthodox Jewish woman, informed by Judaic studies, feminist theory, and auto-ethnographic study to better understand how my experiences influence my present and future.”

When Jen e‑mailed me that she had completed her thesis, I found it fascinating. I wrote her back that I’d like to develop parts of it for the women’s site because I believe that many of our readers, like her, are intelligent women and are searching.

This week, the Torah reading describes the Jewish people’s exodus from their Egyptian bondage and their freedom to transform their lives into new people—and in particular the special faith of the Jewish women.

And so, I thought this would be a perfect week to feature Who Am I? Conflicting Thoughts of a Baalat Teshuvah, my dear friend Jen’s personal journey of her quest for continuous growth.

I hope you enjoy it!

Wishing you a wonderful week, full of liberating growth.

Chana Weisberg, Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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