Ellie Grossman is a mom of two teenagers and an apricot toy poodle. She considers herself a stay-at-home mom who never stays home, and her readers call her the “Jewish Erma Bombeck”—an ultimate compliment for a writer.
This weekend I was sick—I can’t think of the last time I was sick!—but I was run down and my husband gave me the ultimate gift: he let me shut down with tea, matzoh ball soup, and a book. I chose Ellie’s Mishegas of Motherhood. When I finished—in one weekend!—I reached out to Ellie right away. As a fellow writer and someone in touch with both the concepts of mishegas and motherhood I had to know why she wrote this book.
Ellie said, “For about five years, I wrote a weekly parenting humor column for a local newspaper. I assembled my favorite stories into a Jewish parenting humor book.” And this is exactly what this book is—bite-size pieces of light and humor like “Answering The Big Question: Is There A God?”; “Planning A Dream Bar Mitzvah Can Be A Nightmare”; “Teen Brain Baffles Parents”; and “Jewish Girls Don’t Camp.” Fun fact about that last one—it inspired a webisode on the online sitcom, “In The Motherhood” starring Leah Remini which was seen by 20 million viewers!
I read Ellie’s book between naps and soup and kids checking in on me and I can honestly say that I found myself appreciating the mirror-type lens look at the Jewish motherhood I embody. I had to know what Ellie’s favorite part in the book is, so I asked.
She said, “I like the series of stories I wrote about the process of planning my son’s bar mitzvah, which everyone can relate to.” I loved that series as well because it was a glimpse of what my parents must have felt planning mine, and what a next-stage could look like for our family. It was fun to see Jewish parenting life stages in print.
I loved all of the “me, too” moments the book inspired in me as a Jewish mom. And I really love what Ellie had to say when I asked her what she hopes readers will get out of it.
Ellie said, “My goal was to be entertaining of course, but to also educate and inspire readers about how ancient wisdom of the Jewish sages provides valuable insight into modern parenting. No matter what our religion or faith, we all want the same thing–to raise kids who are happy, empathetic, self sufficient, hard working, contributing members of society, and who discover their unique gifts to fulfill their purpose in life. Mishegas of Motherhood skims the surface of how our Jewish religion provides a blueprint to parenting that is thousands of years old, including an entire manual full of rituals, traditions, customs, values, and a rich history that helps us build strong families and gives us a sense of identity and community.” This is exactly what I felt while reading it. I so agree with Ellie that we’re more alike than we’re different. And yet, it’s nice to see our parenting reflected back to us via a Jewish lens.
I asked Ellie my favorite question of all, which is what’s your favorite Jewish mother trait that you totally own and why. I think she and I share this answer! She said, “I find that the easiest way for a Jewish mom to love her kids is through feeding them their favorite meal or dessert. I’m always asking my kids if they’re hungry. Food is very symbolic in the Jewish religion and is the focus of every holiday, at least in my home.” Mine too, Ellie!
For the sake of community and the tradition of Jewish moms everywhere, what’s your favorite Jewish mom trait that you love to own?