Andrea Simantov Andrea Simantov

The Teaching Bench


It was a Friday night like many others. Candles lit, table set, side dishes plated in my favorite pieces of pottery. The challahs were still warm, proudly sitting beneath an embroidered cloth; my damp-from-the-shower hair was neatly tucked inside a colorful headscarf. The sky rapidly darkened to an inky blue-black from which stars popped out… Read More »

Bicycles Built for Two


Many years ago, browsing the shelves of an obscure, counter-culture bookstore in midtown New York, I purchased a t-shirt that would ultimately morph into a life-mantra. It read, “So Many Books, So Little Time.” I frequented this shop with hopes of meeting long-haired, pretentiously arty men who practiced reasonable standards of bodily hygiene. Being Jewish… Read More »

Bicycles Built for Two


For the past 15 years I’ve owned a small bridal-day beauty business in Jerusalem. My staff and I style the hair and makeup for the kallah and her family. The work is high-pressure because the simcha is rife with expectations. Nevertheless, there is a famous phrase that states, “Find something you love to do and you… Read More »

Getting Grounded


Three of my six children reside in South Africa and it takes fingers and toes to record how frequently I’ve flown between Tel Aviv and Johannesburg. In fact, due to family obligations, I traveled to South Africa three times in the last four months! Considering the “Oy Vey Factor” of international travel, if one can… Read More »

Precious Giving


One of my most respected teachers frequently intoned, “If you can say ‘Yes,’ say ‘Yes.’ But if you cannot say ‘yes,’ you are obligated to say ‘No.’” This lesson has profoundly altered my life. In the years prior to the aforementioned epiphany, I’d been crazed with a desire to be liked, valued and emulated. Frequently… Read More »

Twenty Twenty


For several shabbosim in a row, I’d noticed a beautiful young woman sitting on the right side of the women’s section, balancing an extremely large Artscroll siddur (prayerbook) on her lap and an even larger chumash (Pentateuch). Like most of us, she knew the service almost by heart. The Torah reading and subsequent Haftarah reading… Read More »

Masks and Meaning of Purim


We know that she was raised in the house of Mordechai, a devout and G-d-fearing Jew.  Thus, it stands to reason that the laws of kashrut – keeping kosher – were scrupulously observed.  No mixing of milk products with meat and separate utensils for both, no shell-fish or pork, vegetables checked in a prescribed manner.… Read More »

Punditry. Or Not.


Because I’m Israeli-by-choice, some credit me with an insider’s view of events in this corner of the world.  I have no such credentials.  Still, my opinion was frequently sought during the American pre-election period and after the results were in, I was queried relentlessly about then President-elect Trump’s ambassadorial and ministerial choices. I read three… Read More »

Everything Old is New Again


Traditional Jews celebrate their new year at summer’s end but this year, as we well know, it arrived quite late, in early October. Please, however, don’t ever say this to my-husband-the-rabbi who sneers when I say things like that, retorting, “It isn’t late. It’s exactly on time. The way G-d designed it.” Ignoring him, I’d like… Read More »

The Myrrh is Mine


Although raised in a home that had two sets of dishes but only occasionally displayed Sabbath candles, we were a little hazy in the mitzvah department. One year, my father erected a sukkah in the backyard because he thought it might be fun. It felt Jewish. Because our house was quasi-kosher and I didn’t attend school… Read More »