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Parents: 5 Tips For A Better New Year

With the start of a new secular year, many parents of children with autism may be thinking about their New Year resolutions. Here are some tips to make 2015 an amazing year:

1. Organization: Many parents of children with autism feel overwhelmed due to having to maintain a large amount of paperwork.

Dr. Frances Victory

Most Diverse Congress? It's Relative

The 114th Congress that convened this week is being called the most diverse in history.  That is a bit misleading. Relative to prior sessions, yes, but far from reflecting the nation as a whole.

I am reminded of the dog food company that advertised its product as "half horse meat and half rabbit meat."  When sued for false advertising it came out that the company's definition of half and half meant one horse to one rabbit.

How Sarah Palin Killed My New Year's Buzz

My 2015 was off to a great start. I’d made some time the week before to reflect on my goals for the new year and managed to take some action steps to making them happen. My sister-in-law graciously offered to babysit our kids on New Years Eve and my husband and I enjoyed one of the best dinners out we’ve had in some time. On New Years Day, we took our children out to experience the Mummers Parade, a loud, overstimulating Philadelphia tradition that my son, who has autism, not only managed but really enjoyed.

But then the buzz kill came.

The author's son walking his dog. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

'Dumbest Congressman' Running For Speaker

The man who has been called "America's dumbest congressman" and "a singularly useless and unaccomplished nutjob" just announced he is running against John Boehner for Speaker of the House this week.

For those of you who might be missing the antics of Michele Bachmann in the new Congress that convenes this week, your problem has been solved by Rep Louis Gohmert. 

Honoring The Literary Legacy Of Food Historian Gil Marks

“Walking encyclopedia” may have been the idiom that appeared most often in tributes to culinary historian Gil Marks, who died in Jerusalem on December 5, 2014, after a courageous three-year battle with (nonsmoker’s) lung cancer. A memorial gathering of family and friends will be held in Jerusalem on January 5 and will be streamed.

Gil Marks. Photo by Elli Schorr

A Camp, A Bar Mitzvah And A Family's Respite

They say that it takes a village to raise a child.  I say that it takes a village… and a synagogue or three, an edah (Amitzim) and a family camp (Ohr Lanu) at Machaneh Ramah and a loving, supportive family.

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, my son, Jacob Gruen, became a Bar Mitzvah at age 13 at Adat Ari El in Valley Village, CA.  He led the Sh’ma, received his talit and blessed it, carried the torah, had an aliyah and read the torah, marched with a lulav and an etrog and said the Kiddush. He also sang a number of songs, including a solo of Adamah B'Shamayim (which he first learned at Camp Ramah) with his Kolot Tikvah choir led by Cantor Michael Stein of Temple Aliyah.  To many, this would not seem extraordinary.  However, Jacob has autism, which manifests in him as moderate speech and social deficits and academic delays.

Road To White House Goes Thru Israel

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is in Israel this week, and you know what that means:  he's thinking of running for president. 

He's billing the trip as an "economic development" mission and hosting an Invest in Indiana breakfast and meeting with the American ambassador for a briefing on the Israeli economy.  The Indiana Economic Development Foundation is footing most of the bill but, as with so many governors before him, it's more than a search for investors. It is a required campaign stop on the road to the White House. 

Bibi's American Advisors

Benjamin Netanyahu's political rivals are hoping his American campaign advisor will do as well for him as he did for his last high profile candidate, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia).  House majority leader Cantor, the highest ranking Jew in Congressional history, was on track to be Speaker before going down to spectacular defeat in June at the hands of a long shot Tea Party challenger.

Israel Miffed, Won't Back Cuba Move

The Netanyahu government, miffed that it was kept out of the loop, has rejected the Obama administration's request made to it and governments around the world to express support for the new U.S. Cuba policy.  Canada and the Vatican were the intermediaries and there are no indications any other country was involved.

Bibi's Alumni Running Against Him

The 2015 Israeli election is looking like a Netanyahu alumni reunion except that these former alums are all running against the prime minister in hope of denying him a fourth term.

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