Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love

Overview

The Jewish Mother knows what she wants. And what you should want too. In Secrets of a Jewish Mother, you'll learn how to make her methods your very own, and as result you'll give and get of love and happiness in great amounts.

In what could be thought of as the Jewish Mother's Guide to Life, Jill Zarin, the breakout star of Bravo's hit series, The Real Housewives of New York, teams up with her sister, Lisa Wexler, award-winning host of daily radio program The Lisa Wexler Show, ...

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Overview

The Jewish Mother knows what she wants. And what you should want too. In Secrets of a Jewish Mother, you'll learn how to make her methods your very own, and as result you'll give and get of love and happiness in great amounts.

In what could be thought of as the Jewish Mother's Guide to Life, Jill Zarin, the breakout star of Bravo's hit series, The Real Housewives of New York, teams up with her sister, Lisa Wexler, award-winning host of daily radio program The Lisa Wexler Show, and her mother, the estimable Gloria Kamen who made a splash on Jill's series last year. Secrets of a Jewish Mother shows readers that being clear about what you want is the best policy, and standing up for yourself and your family is always the right way to go. Using real life examples, stories from Jill, Lisa and Gloria, this mother/daughter trio reveals their secrets to life, love, and happiness.

Some of their Jewish Mother tips include:

• Dating: "A good man is hard to find, but so is a good woman. Don't settle for less than you deserve."
• Parenting: "Fair is not always equal; equal is not always fair."
• Family: "Bar mitzvahs and weddings: The grudge starts here."
• Money: "Don't wait 'til you're dead to give it away."
• The clichés that matter: "Bring a gift."

And, remember, a lot of love and a little matzoh ball soup never hurt anyone.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The latest of TV's Real Housewives of New York City to enter the publishing arena, Zarin wisely recruits her sister, radio host Wexler, and their mother, online columnist Kamen, to produce an opinionated guide to life from the point of view of three Jewish moms-the kind whose "stereotypical traits" ("domineering, interfering, tactless and loud") have resulted in strong families and successful careers. Insisting that "if a lesson is worth teaching once, it is worth teaching at least two thousand times," the trio use a conversational, collaborative approach to make each themed chapter (including dating, health and beauty, education, career, and, of course, parenting) stick, trading off charismatic group narration with first-person interjections and personal stories that expand upon traditional, time-tested advice: "We come from a long line of long marriages. ...We were taught it is normal to go through bad times in a marriage, even bad year." They also provide "ask yourself" questions to motivate further exploration, and a short chapter on "Superstitions and the Clichés that Matter." Honest, self-aware, and frequently funny, these women deliver a triple-strength dose of universal advice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly
The latest of TV's Real Housewives of New York City to enter the publishing arena, Zarin wisely recruits her sister, radio host Wexler, and their mother, online columnist Kamen, to produce an opinionated guide to life from the point of view of three Jewish moms-the kind whose "stereotypical traits" ("domineering, interfering, tactless and loud") have resulted in strong families and successful careers. Insisting that "if a lesson is worth teaching once, it is worth teaching at least two thousand times," the trio use a conversational, collaborative approach to make each themed chapter (including dating, health and beauty, education, career, and, of course, parenting) stick, trading off charismatic group narration with first-person interjections and personal stories that expand upon traditional, time-tested advice: "We come from a long line of long marriages. ...We were taught it is normal to go through bad times in a marriage, even bad year." They also provide "ask yourself" questions to motivate further exploration, and a short chapter on "Superstitions and the Clichés that Matter." Honest, self-aware, and frequently funny, these women deliver a triple-strength dose of universal advice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly
The latest of TV's Real Housewives of New York City to enter the publishing arena, Zarin wisely recruits her sister, radio host Wexler, and their mother, online columnist Kamen, to produce an opinionated guide to life from the point of view of three Jewish moms-the kind whose "stereotypical traits" ("domineering, interfering, tactless and loud") have resulted in strong families and successful careers. Insisting that "if a lesson is worth teaching once, it is worth teaching at least two thousand times," the trio use a conversational, collaborative approach to make each themed chapter (including dating, health and beauty, education, career, and, of course, parenting) stick, trading off charismatic group narration with first-person interjections and personal stories that expand upon traditional, time-tested advice: "We come from a long line of long marriages. ...We were taught it is normal to go through bad times in a marriage, even bad year." They also provide "ask yourself" questions to motivate further exploration, and a short chapter on "Superstitions and the Clichés that Matter." Honest, self-aware, and frequently funny, these women deliver a triple-strength dose of universal advice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly
The latest of TV's Real Housewives of New York City to enter the publishing arena, Zarin wisely recruits her sister, radio host Wexler, and their mother, online columnist Kamen, to produce an opinionated guide to life from the point of view of three Jewish moms-the kind whose "stereotypical traits" ("domineering, interfering, tactless and loud") have resulted in strong families and successful careers. Insisting that "if a lesson is worth teaching once, it is worth teaching at least two thousand times," the trio use a conversational, collaborative approach to make each themed chapter (including dating, health and beauty, education, career, and, of course, parenting) stick, trading off charismatic group narration with first-person interjections and personal stories that expand upon traditional, time-tested advice: "We come from a long line of long marriages. ...We were taught it is normal to go through bad times in a marriage, even bad year." They also provide "ask yourself" questions to motivate further exploration, and a short chapter on "Superstitions and the Clichés that Matter." Honest, self-aware, and frequently funny, these women deliver a triple-strength dose of universal advice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly
The latest of TV's Real Housewives of New York City to enter the publishing arena, Zarin wisely recruits her sister, radio host Wexler, and their mother, online columnist Kamen, to produce an opinionated guide to life from the point of view of three Jewish moms-the kind whose "stereotypical traits" ("domineering, interfering, tactless and loud") have resulted in strong families and successful careers. Insisting that "if a lesson is worth teaching once, it is worth teaching at least two thousand times," the trio use a conversational, collaborative approach to make each themed chapter (including dating, health and beauty, education, career, and, of course, parenting) stick, trading off charismatic group narration with first-person interjections and personal stories that expand upon traditional, time-tested advice: "We come from a long line of long marriages. ...We were taught it is normal to go through bad times in a marriage, even bad year." They also provide "ask yourself" questions to motivate further exploration, and a short chapter on "Superstitions and the Clichés that Matter." Honest, self-aware, and frequently funny, these women deliver a triple-strength dose of universal advice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Elise Pearlman
...an astonishing cornucopia of heartfelt insights from three savvy, headstrong women who share tried- and-true strategies for dealing with universal issues relating to friendship, dating, marriage, parenting, and family, and you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate it.
Huntington Patch
Momsword.org
All-in-All, I love everything that the three mothers had written. I did learn quite a bit of things from each and every one of them. I liked the fact they each gave their own advice and stories in each chapter. From friendship, dating, beauty, marriage, parenting, money and more, this is a great book and a keeper! Another part I liked was in the chapters there was a section called 'Ask Yourself', because I do find myself answering the questions... So I would like to say Mazel Tov to Jill, Lisa and Gloria. Toda. Thank you for letting me read this wonderfully written book.
MSNBC's Morning Joe
A great book this Mother's Day
SavvyAuntie.com
From friendships to love, marriage and children, the book covers many aspects of life with laugh-out-loud stories and pointed advice the [authors] have learned as Jewish mothers and Jewish daughters.
Daily Beast
No-nonsense advice.
Star
Practical advice. A mother's wisdom: Know how to laugh at yourself apologize when you're wrong and always carry pepper spray!
Shalom Life
Aside from advice on raising kids and stories from Kamen and her daughters, Secrets of a Jewish Mother deals with marriage, friendship, dating, money, and more, and includes practical quizzes and self- assessment action steps.
Hamptons.com
Filled with candid, humorous and loving advice and personal glimpses into their lives, this trio offers up some tips we should all heed and live by?This is a thoroughly enjoyable read and should be passed around to mothers, daughters, sister, nieces, aunts, girlfriends and all ladies who might enjoy reading and discovering that in the end we are all basically the same - with the same hopes and desires - and remember an old adage redefined here: 'Hell hath no fury like a [Jewish] mother scorned!' Bravo! to Kamen, Wexler and Zarin (and I don't mean the TV channel).
UrbanBaby.com
[Jill Zarin's] sharing little pearls of wisdom, along with her mom, Gloria Kamen, and sis, Lisa Wexler, in the book Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love. (Just in time for Mother's Day!) Their prescription for successful parenting (friendships, dating, etc.) has a universal quality to it, so it's not only for Jewish moms.
Sammi's Blog of Life
I felt this book was incredibly smart. It shows the ups and downs of these three women's lives. Like the book title says "Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love." Nothing is sugarcoated and artificial. I really like how each chapter of the book has stories from each person's life. How Jill dealt with divorce, Gloria's struggle with her friendships at certain points in her life, and Lisa's view on money?In conclusion, I really feel this book is a wonderful read. It makes you think differently about life in certain ways that you normally don't.
Star
Practical advice. A mother's wisdom: Know how to laugh at yourself apologize when you're wrong and always carry pepper spray!
Daily Beast
No-nonsense advice.
Elise Pearlman
...an astonishing cornucopia of heartfelt insights from three savvy, headstrong women who share tried- and-true strategies for dealing with universal issues relating to friendship, dating, marriage, parenting, and family, and you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate it.
Huntington Patch
Momsword.org
All-in-All, I love everything that the three mothers had written. I did learn quite a bit of things from each and every one of them. I liked the fact they each gave their own advice and stories in each chapter. From friendship, dating, beauty, marriage, parenting, money and more, this is a great book and a keeper! Another part I liked was in the chapters there was a section called 'Ask Yourself', because I do find myself answering the questions... So I would like to say Mazel Tov to Jill, Lisa and Gloria. Toda. Thank you for letting me read this wonderfully written book.
MSNBC's Morning Joe
A great book this Mother's Day
SavvyAuntie.com
From friendships to love, marriage and children, the book covers many aspects of life with laugh-out-loud stories and pointed advice the [authors] have learned as Jewish mothers and Jewish daughters.
Shalom Life
Aside from advice on raising kids and stories from Kamen and her daughters, Secrets of a Jewish Mother deals with marriage, friendship, dating, money, and more, and includes practical quizzes and self- assessment action steps.
Hamptons.com
Filled with candid, humorous and loving advice and personal glimpses into their lives, this trio offers up some tips we should all heed and live by?This is a thoroughly enjoyable read and should be passed around to mothers, daughters, sister, nieces, aunts, girlfriends and all ladies who might enjoy reading and discovering that in the end we are all basically the same - with the same hopes and desires - and remember an old adage redefined here: 'Hell hath no fury like a [Jewish] mother scorned!' Bravo! to Kamen, Wexler and Zarin (and I don't mean the TV channel).
UrbanBaby.com
[Jill Zarin's] sharing little pearls of wisdom, along with her mom, Gloria Kamen, and sis, Lisa Wexler, in the book Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love. (Just in time for Mother's Day!) Their prescription for successful parenting (friendships, dating, etc.) has a universal quality to it, so it's not only for Jewish moms.
Sammi's Blog of Life
I felt this book was incredibly smart. It shows the ups and downs of these three women's lives. Like the book title says "Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love." Nothing is sugarcoated and artificial. I really like how each chapter of the book has stories from each person's life. How Jill dealt with divorce, Gloria's struggle with her friendships at certain points in her life, and Lisa's view on money?In conclusion, I really feel this book is a wonderful read. It makes you think differently about life in certain ways that you normally don't.
Star
Practical advice. A mother's wisdom: Know how to laugh at yourself apologize when you're wrong and always carry pepper spray!
Daily Beast
No-nonsense advice.
Elise Pearlman
...an astonishing cornucopia of heartfelt insights from three savvy, headstrong women who share tried- and-true strategies for dealing with universal issues relating to friendship, dating, marriage, parenting, and family, and you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate it.
Huntington Patch
Momsword.org
All-in-All, I love everything that the three mothers had written. I did learn quite a bit of things from each and every one of them. I liked the fact they each gave their own advice and stories in each chapter. From friendship, dating, beauty, marriage, parenting, money and more, this is a great book and a keeper! Another part I liked was in the chapters there was a section called 'Ask Yourself', because I do find myself answering the questions... So I would like to say Mazel Tov to Jill, Lisa and Gloria. Toda. Thank you for letting me read this wonderfully written book.
MSNBC's Morning Joe
A great book this Mother's Day
SavvyAuntie.com
From friendships to love, marriage and children, the book covers many aspects of life with laugh-out-loud stories and pointed advice the [authors] have learned as Jewish mothers and Jewish daughters.
Shalom Life
Aside from advice on raising kids and stories from Kamen and her daughters, Secrets of a Jewish Mother deals with marriage, friendship, dating, money, and more, and includes practical quizzes and self- assessment action steps.
Hamptons.com
Filled with candid, humorous and loving advice and personal glimpses into their lives, this trio offers up some tips we should all heed and live by?This is a thoroughly enjoyable read and should be passed around to mothers, daughters, sister, nieces, aunts, girlfriends and all ladies who might enjoy reading and discovering that in the end we are all basically the same - with the same hopes and desires - and remember an old adage redefined here: 'Hell hath no fury like a [Jewish] mother scorned!' Bravo! to Kamen, Wexler and Zarin (and I don't mean the TV channel).
UrbanBaby.com
[Jill Zarin's] sharing little pearls of wisdom, along with her mom, Gloria Kamen, and sis, Lisa Wexler, in the book Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love. (Just in time for Mother's Day!) Their prescription for successful parenting (friendships, dating, etc.) has a universal quality to it, so it's not only for Jewish moms.
Sammi's Blog of Life
I felt this book was incredibly smart. It shows the ups and downs of these three women's lives. Like the book title says "Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love." Nothing is sugarcoated and artificial. I really like how each chapter of the book has stories from each person's life. How Jill dealt with divorce, Gloria's struggle with her friendships at certain points in her life, and Lisa's view on money?In conclusion, I really feel this book is a wonderful read. It makes you think differently about life in certain ways that you normally don't.
Star
Practical advice. A mother's wisdom: Know how to laugh at yourself apologize when you're wrong and always carry pepper spray!
Daily Beast
No-nonsense advice.
Elise Pearlman
...an astonishing cornucopia of heartfelt insights from three savvy, headstrong women who share tried- and-true strategies for dealing with universal issues relating to friendship, dating, marriage, parenting, and family, and you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate it.
Huntington Patch
Momsword.org
All-in-All, I love everything that the three mothers had written. I did learn quite a bit of things from each and every one of them. I liked the fact they each gave their own advice and stories in each chapter. From friendship, dating, beauty, marriage, parenting, money and more, this is a great book and a keeper! Another part I liked was in the chapters there was a section called 'Ask Yourself', because I do find myself answering the questions... So I would like to say Mazel Tov to Jill, Lisa and Gloria. Toda. Thank you for letting me read this wonderfully written book.
MSNBC's Morning Joe
A great book this Mother's Day
SavvyAuntie.com
From friendships to love, marriage and children, the book covers many aspects of life with laugh-out-loud stories and pointed advice the [authors] have learned as Jewish mothers and Jewish daughters.
Shalom Life
Aside from advice on raising kids and stories from Kamen and her daughters, Secrets of a Jewish Mother deals with marriage, friendship, dating, money, and more, and includes practical quizzes and self- assessment action steps.
Hamptons.com
Filled with candid, humorous and loving advice and personal glimpses into their lives, this trio offers up some tips we should all heed and live by?This is a thoroughly enjoyable read and should be passed around to mothers, daughters, sister, nieces, aunts, girlfriends and all ladies who might enjoy reading and discovering that in the end we are all basically the same - with the same hopes and desires - and remember an old adage redefined here: 'Hell hath no fury like a [Jewish] mother scorned!' Bravo! to Kamen, Wexler and Zarin (and I don't mean the TV channel).
UrbanBaby.com
[Jill Zarin's] sharing little pearls of wisdom, along with her mom, Gloria Kamen, and sis, Lisa Wexler, in the book Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love. (Just in time for Mother's Day!) Their prescription for successful parenting (friendships, dating, etc.) has a universal quality to it, so it's not only for Jewish moms.
Sammi's Blog of Life
I felt this book was incredibly smart. It shows the ups and downs of these three women's lives. Like the book title says "Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love." Nothing is sugarcoated and artificial. I really like how each chapter of the book has stories from each person's life. How Jill dealt with divorce, Gloria's struggle with her friendships at certain points in her life, and Lisa's view on money?In conclusion, I really feel this book is a wonderful read. It makes you think differently about life in certain ways that you normally don't.
Star
Practical advice. A mother's wisdom: Know how to laugh at yourself apologize when you're wrong and always carry pepper spray!
Daily Beast
No-nonsense advice.
Elise Pearlman
...an astonishing cornucopia of heartfelt insights from three savvy, headstrong women who share tried- and-true strategies for dealing with universal issues relating to friendship, dating, marriage, parenting, and family, and you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate it.
Huntington Patch
Momsword.org
All-in-All, I love everything that the three mothers had written. I did learn quite a bit of things from each and every one of them. I liked the fact they each gave their own advice and stories in each chapter. From friendship, dating, beauty, marriage, parenting, money and more, this is a great book and a keeper! Another part I liked was in the chapters there was a section called 'Ask Yourself', because I do find myself answering the questions... So I would like to say Mazel Tov to Jill, Lisa and Gloria. Toda. Thank you for letting me read this wonderfully written book.
MSNBC's Morning Joe
A great book this Mother's Day
SavvyAuntie.com
From friendships to love, marriage and children, the book covers many aspects of life with laugh-out-loud stories and pointed advice the [authors] have learned as Jewish mothers and Jewish daughters.
Shalom Life
Aside from advice on raising kids and stories from Kamen and her daughters, Secrets of a Jewish Mother deals with marriage, friendship, dating, money, and more, and includes practical quizzes and self- assessment action steps.
Hamptons.com
Filled with candid, humorous and loving advice and personal glimpses into their lives, this trio offers up some tips we should all heed and live by?This is a thoroughly enjoyable read and should be passed around to mothers, daughters, sister, nieces, aunts, girlfriends and all ladies who might enjoy reading and discovering that in the end we are all basically the same - with the same hopes and desires - and remember an old adage redefined here: 'Hell hath no fury like a [Jewish] mother scorned!' Bravo! to Kamen, Wexler and Zarin (and I don't mean the TV channel).
UrbanBaby.com
[Jill Zarin's] sharing little pearls of wisdom, along with her mom, Gloria Kamen, and sis, Lisa Wexler, in the book Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love. (Just in time for Mother's Day!) Their prescription for successful parenting (friendships, dating, etc.) has a universal quality to it, so it's not only for Jewish moms.
Sammi's Blog of Life
I felt this book was incredibly smart. It shows the ups and downs of these three women's lives. Like the book title says "Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love." Nothing is sugarcoated and artificial. I really like how each chapter of the book has stories from each person's life. How Jill dealt with divorce, Gloria's struggle with her friendships at certain points in her life, and Lisa's view on money?In conclusion, I really feel this book is a wonderful read. It makes you think differently about life in certain ways that you normally don't.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525951797
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/15/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Zarin

JILL ZARIN is one of The Real Housewives of New York City, which attracts more than two million viewers each week.

LISA WEXLER is the award-winning host of the daily radio program The Lisa Wexler Show.
GLORIA KAMEN, mother of Lisa Wexler and Jill Zarin, was the surprise hit of Real Housewives season two. She writes the “Ask Gloria” column on BravoTV.com and lives in Boca Raton, Florida.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

A lot of love and a little matzoh ball soup never hurt anyone.

Ah, the Jewish mother. Has there been a more maligned stereotype in American culture? From Curb Your Enthusiasm and Portnoy’s Complaint to the routines of countless comedians, the Jewish mother has most often been portrayed as a domineering, interfering, tactless and loud manipulator of family relationships. To this we say, “And . . . ?” We maintain that it is precisely those stereotypical traits that form the foundation of healthy, stable and accomplished children, marriages that last over time, and meaningful, loving relationships among siblings. A lot of love and a little matzoh ball soup never hurt anyone.

We, Lisa Wexler and Jill Zarin, are the daughters of one very particular Jewish mother, Gloria Kamen. Our family is incredibly close, which translates into communicating with each other every single day, often more than once. We are often asked the secret to our success at maintaining strong family ties and successful careers in an age in which so many people struggle to get along with their closest relatives. When we thought about this, we realized that we were taught these secrets by our mother, Gloria, who made no secret at all of the fact that if a lesson is worth teaching once, it is worth teaching at least two thousand times. We also had lots of help from our grandmothers, Sylvia and Helen, and our incredible loving aunts, Aunt Cooky, Gloria’s sister, and Aunt Gloria, our father Sol’s sister. Yes, another Gloria. To make it easier on you as you read the “secrets” that follow, Sol’s sister Gloria is referred to in the book by her Yiddish name, Nessie.

You’ll meet our family as you read these pages, so to help you out, here is a quick note on the cast of characters: Our mother, Gloria, has one husband, Sol, and two daughters, Lisa and Jill. Gloria’s parents were our Grandma Syl and Papa Jack. Sol’s parents were our Grandma Helen and Papa Benny. Lisa is married to Bill; they have a son, Jonathan, a daughter, Joanna, and a bichon frise, Sugar. Jill’s first marriage was to Steven, who is the father of her daughter, Allyson. Jill’s second marriage is to Bobby and together they live with Allyson and their Chihuahua, Ginger. Bobby has three children from his first marriage: Jennifer, David and (yes, another) Jonathan. David is married to Jill (yes, another Jill Zarin), and they have two children, Micah and Lily. We Jews keep reusing the same ten names over and over again.

We grew up in a time and place in many ways straight out of The Wonder Years, complete with suburban cul-de-sacs, bicycle races, homemade go-karts and evening games of tag in the street, with flashlights, not streetlights. Our parents got married and stayed married, fifty-two years and counting. Daddy wore a suit and tie to work and came home by seven thirty. We ate a home-cooked dinner every weeknight, except for Wednesdays, which was “Dad’s night out,” when we girls had pizza. On Saturdays, our parents went out, and Mommy got really dressed up. She looked like a movie star. Our childhood was America as it used to be.

Every single Sunday afternoon, Papa Benny and Grandma Helen came over to our house in Long Island from Queens in their Pontiac Catalina. You could set your clock by their arrival; we often did. People didn’t dress sloppily in those days; Papa always had a hat with a feather in it and we never saw Grandma in slacks. Ten minutes after arriving at our house, they emerged with us, Lisa and Jill, and took us for a Carvel ice cream cone and a comic book. Rain or shine, no matter the season, they showed up on Sundays for a visit with their grandchildren. We were their priority, and we felt it. There was nothing more important on the agenda. Sundays were spent with family.

In most ways the town we grew up in was like America everywhere. However, it also had the distinction of being part of a cluster of small communities called “the Five Towns” on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Don’t bother counting them, because you will come up with only four: Woodmere, Cedarhurst, Lawrence and Hewlett. The fifth town, Inwood, never counted for the purposes of the Five Towns stereotype, and nobody ever remembers its name.

So what is the Five Towns stereotype? Jews, fashion and new money. Showy new money. The kind that bought Cadillacs and joined country clubs. First-generation sons of immigrants who were out to prove the American dream. Wives who couldn’t wait to climb up the ladder alongside them. Kids who were trained to be either doctors or lawyers, depending upon whether they were good in math or English. You’ve heard the slang term JAP, short for Jewish American Princess? Invented in the Five Towns, surely. We’ve spent our lives haunted by that stereotype.

Like so many stereotypes, however, there was a little bit of truth and a lot of exaggeration in the reputation of the Five Towns. Our high school was diverse before it became a politically correct term. Our house size? A grand total of fifteen hundred square feet. There were a couple of very wealthy neighborhoods nearby, but we didn’t live in one. Many people we knew were neither rich nor fashionable.

America, circa 2010, is a different place than it was when we grew up. Our family is now geographically fragmented. Our children are not bicycle-riding distance from their cousins, as we were. Mom and Dad now live in Florida—they have traversed what we call the three legs of the Jewish Bermuda Triangle: from Brooklyn, to Long Island, to Boca Raton. As daughters, we currently face the challenges of caring for parents who live a plane ride away. As wives in today’s economy, we need to keep up our earning potential because it is neither fair nor realistic to expect only one member of a couple to provide the lifestyle that we want. As mothers, we parent a generation of kids who watch things on television that we didn’t even know existed until we were out of college. We are busy. We try to “multitask” and do it all, but what we do instead is drop a couple of the balls we are juggling every day. We don’t give our kids dinner every night at five thirty; they are lucky if they get a home-cooked meal twice a week. We look back in awe at our parents’ generation and say, “How did they manage?” Maybe one answer is that years ago people did not believe they could do everything well at the same time. For some reason, we think we can.

This is why, more than ever, we need to keep close to the people in life who matter to us, those whose voices resonate with wisdom as well as judgment. We need to connect with those people, if not over a cup of coffee, then through a telephone call or an e-mail. Most days we speak to our own mother at least once. If we have skipped more than one day, we get the infamously cold “Gloria hello” and begin the conversation with “I’m sorry; I meant to call you.” We do this not only because we love our mother but also to show our own children how important it is to call their mother. We are not fools.

The women in our family, on both Sol’s and Gloria’s sides, are women who believe in the power of women. They believe that a good mother could and should strengthen character and influence a child’s direction in life. But a Jewish mother’s wisdom is not reserved for her children—it is spread around to anyone who will listen. She likes sharing her ideas. To be blunt, she loves telling people what to do. She urges them to listen and she speaks with the voice of true expertise. So many people today are yearning for practical, commonsense wisdom, delivered without apologies, second guesses or excuses—some black and white in a world gone very gray. We always assumed that everyone’s mother knew exactly what to do about every single situation in life just like ours did, but apparently that is not the case. Gloria is that mother. She is that person who will tell you the truth, whether you like it or not. She is that person who will give you the answer you know is right, even when you don’t want to hear it. There is very little gray for Gloria. What she has passed on to us, we now share with you.

Although the majority of our upbringing came from our family, we were accompanied on our childhood journey by a very special person whom we referred to as our “second mother.” Her name was Ethel Hill. Ethel was a black woman from North Carolina who had left her three kids down south with relatives so she could work to support them and send them money, much like today’s immigrants. Ethel worked for us as our housekeeper twice a week and slept with Lisa in her bedroom so she wouldn’t have to shlep to and from Brooklyn as often. We always felt guilty that we had Ethel with us as a mother when her own children did not.

We loved Ethel like family; in fact, she is posed with us in the family photo at Lisa’s Bat Mitzvah. At the age of forty-seven, she suffered a fatal, massive cerebral hemorrhage at the train station. We miss her terribly. Life isn’t fair, something the Jewish mother knows all too well. Much of who we are today we owe to Ethel, so some of the wisdom you’ll find in this book comes from her too.

We need to give a lot of credit to the men in our lives as well. Strong, secure men. Men who would never consider taking hair off in unwanted places, or asking women to do it either. Men who could lift mattresses without working out in a gym. Remember those? Men who considered it a sacred duty to provide for their families; who made sure their mothers and sisters were provided for before they would take on the obligations of a wife and children. Men who believed in sacrifice, who lived what they believed in and who, frankly, didn’t talk about it much. We believe that if you search the background of many successful career women, there was a father cheering them on early in life—cheering, guiding, mentoring and believing. That is our father, Sol, in a nutshell. The original kveller. Also a mensch.

The men in Jewish culture believe that educating their daughters is as important as educating their sons. They love their daughters, they indulge their daughters, but they expect their daughters to have achievements of their own, not to grow up to become a reflection of their husband’s accomplishments. Many of our “secrets of a Jewish mother” come from our fathers, who passed them down to their daughters, who became mothers, who told everyone. Naturally.

For example, Daddy always told us never to do anything we wouldn’t want to read about on the front page of The New York Times. That was when everyone actually read that newspaper, so we knew what he meant. Here was the standard of honor to Daddy: If you were thinking of doing something you would be ashamed for anyone else to know about, then don’t do it! Stay away. Another pearl from Daddy? Never be less than who you are. Don’t feel bad about doing the right thing even if it is not reciprocated, even if it goes into the “no good deed goes unpunished” file. Keep being the best you can be; that is what you are supposed to do in life. You’ll see a lot of Sol in these pages too.

The Jewish mother lives to analyze and worry, the two being inextricably entwined. It’s no coincidence Freud was Jewish; there is no question in our minds that the first psychoanalyst was probably Freud’s mother, but he got all the credit. Moreover, the Jewish mother is actually quite happy worrying; it’s the default setting in her computer. Over what does she worry, incite and instigate? Family relationships. Money, health—yes, these are important too. But what keeps her up at night is the fight with her sister, her mother and her daughter. Once in a while, a fight with a husband can intrude on her mental tranquility, but it would have to be a really big fight. Over time, Jewish mothers build up an immunity to everyday bickering; they stop thinking of it as arguing and view it as a normal means of communication. (You don’t want to miss it when one partner stops hearing—that’s when the fun really begins.)

Do you have to be Jewish to embrace the secrets of a Jewish mother? Of course not. We share much with Italian mamas and African American women, as well as Greek, Russian and Latina ones—in fact, mothers everywhere. Most of the things we discuss in this book are universal truths about the need for respect, the sanctity of family, the importance of love. This book just has a dose of our particular culture added to the lessons. We hope that you will find our traditions interesting if you are not Jewish. And if you are Jewish, we’d be happy to compare notes.

You should know that our family is not particularly religious. Although we celebrate many traditions and Jewish milestones, our level of observance tends toward the Conservative branch of Judaism, which is in between the Reform movement and the Orthodox branch. The Conservative movement tries to reconcile modern thought with traditional worship. It is a very tough road it tries to straddle, but it suits us; it is how we were raised. Moderate, in all things. We are proud to be modern American women with our heads held high who dress as we please. Yet we are also very proud to be Jewish; extremely proud of our heritage, our culture and our faith. We were raised to believe that Judaism is not just a religion; it is a way of life. Even though we do not observe a lot of the religious tenets, we strive to incorporate a lot of Judaism’s values and teachings in our lives.

One thing we do want to stress is that we have made lots of mistakes in life and continue to do so. Perfect we are not, whatever that is. Not even close. One of the subtitles we thought of for this book was Advice by Three Women Who Know They Don’t Know It All. Nevertheless, we try our best. We each have these voices in our head, and they penetrate. They advise us what to make for dinner. They whisper to us to make the phone call or send the card. They command us to attend the funeral. They tell us to persevere, to stick together and not to take life too seriously. They make us laugh and urge us to “pay it forward.” Above all, they remind us to love each other. This is the voice of the Jewish mother.

We have divided this book into chapters that each contain three main parts. The first is context, in which we explain a particular “secret” or life lesson. Then we relate the lesson to our lives by telling a story. We love stories. Telling them allows us to learn and teach at the same time. Afterward, we urge you to ask yourself the questions that we think are the important ones raised by the lesson and illustration. We are hoping that at the end of this book you will have accomplished several things:

  1. You will know more about the Jewish family.
  2. You will know more about our Jewish family, presuming you care.
  3. You will laugh.
  4. You will have taken some nuggets of wisdom to apply in your own life.

We believe the secret to life is to learn how to love each other. Not only is it the secret to life, it is the purpose of life. Our spirituality, such as it is or is not, comes from this essential truth. To the extent we learn the lessons we are meant to learn, we grow as human beings. To learn these lessons, we have to ask ourselves the hard questions and answer them truthfully, even if only to ourselves. Difficult as it is, sometimes we need to change our behavior, if not our character. If we make excuses, continuing to rationalize what we do despite the fact that we bemoan the outcome, we get stuck. We are doomed to keep repeating our mistakes, to keep whining and complaining about the same problems in our lives. Aren’t you bored? Don’t you want different problems to complain about? Change up your behavior, your attitude, your responses. Find the funny in life, and begin with laughing at yourself. See what happens.

Writing this book has been a blessing for our family. We view it as our legacy for our children and their children. Maybe we haven’t repeated these values loudly or often enough; if not, the words are right here, on the page (where we can throw them at you kids, if necessary). As Mommy said, life is short. It goes from Rosh Hashanah to Passover and back again, in the blink of an eye. At the end, people judge their success by the quality of their relationships: who has stood by you, who will take care of you, who loves you, no matter what you have done or what you are going through. These are the people who matter. Love them. Accept them. Forgive them. And get a pet. Although people may disappoint, dogs and cats never will.

Love, Lisa and Jill

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 59 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2010

    Save your money

    Seriously people save your money on this. It is really pretty bad. Encouraging people to marry for money instead of love must be how you become such a jealous and spiteful person. If you want some good quotes to live by you can use google on the internet for free.

    20 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wordly in a Petty Way

    I truly believe that when this book was pitched, it was with the idea that the content would be clever and funny. It really wasn't. This book was banal and trite, and fairly chock full of ridiculous "witticisms" about how you can cheat your husband, outsmart your social colleagues, and generally feel smug and self-satisfied by repeating a pseudo-funny mantra or two to yourself. I want to add that perhaps this snarky tone might have been less grating had Jill Zarin not negatively reinforced every piece of advice in the book with her odd rants and self-indulgent histrionics on the TV show that made it possible for someone like her to have a book in the first place. I know that another reviewer stated that she believes that many other reviewers are reviewing the TV show and not the book: I disagree with that assessment. This is an advice book, ostensibly written by someone whose life is so well-managed that the rest of us should take heed of her wisdom, experience and insight. Because of this, Jill's behavior is directly linked to the value of the book. I have to point out that a lot of people don't buy Tiger Woods' products anymore, either. THE REVIEW? Even without her bad actions, Jill's book is flat and smug, poorly written and carelessly edited -- this was clearly a project aimed at a speedy release to ensure that the Penguin Group cashed in on what surely will only be 15 minutes of reader interest.

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    UGH!

    A co-worker brought this into work and gave it to me, saying she was too nauseated to finish it. I watch the Housewives show and am always head-shakingly amused by the trainwrecks who are the NYC bunch.

    Why do publishers solicit people like this to write such trash? Nothing more than the over-rated, rambling bloviations by people with too much money and time on their hands, this waste of print tells no one anything new, but raises tacky opions and tasteless advice to a new high.

    Don'te waste your time or your money. I wasted one and that was enough.

    14 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2010

    Worthless Trash

    I love all the housewives shows and made the mistake of preordering this book. I was so disappointed!! Advice about marrying for money and taking money from your husband's pants when he is asleep is bizarre, to put it mildly. Was it a joke I didn't get??? Pour drinks on your food so you don't eat it? Huh? Why order in the first place. Certasinly not useful, not written on any form of intelligent level, a complete disgrace. Not even an easy read. I am astounded someone believes this horrible "advice" enough to write it down,and a publisher actually produced and marketed this dribble. It is an insult that they duped the public into preordering and reading this trash.

    14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2010

    No way!

    What kind of heartless women wrote this trash! You don't steal from your husband! You don't marry for money and head to the store! The character of these women is questionable. I was literally in a Barnes and Nobles for a couple hours before a flight and picked it up because I once enjoyed a couple episodes of that show the redhead is on. It just goes to show that I would rather live a happy life of love, than one of money.

    Please don't take the advice of these women!

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    This Book Should Have Been Entitled: "Superficial Advice For The Superficial Among Us"

    Maybe the "Are you a Real Jewish Mother" quiz should have tipped me off: Do you have a child who is a Doctor or a Lawyer? No? Well how about a Dentist or an Accountant? OK, that will do! Now you are on your way to becoming a real Jewish Mother!
    Oy! The worst part is that I think that the authors are actually serious here! It hurt to read this stuff. Offensive to such a degree that I found myself squirming as I read, muttering aloud and rolling my eyes before I had to throw the book down in disgust.
    This book is a collection of banal, superficial, vulgar, petty and useless tripe disguised as "warm & witty" advice. I am shocked that radio personality Lisa Wexler attached her name to this garbage. She is a thoughtful and perceptive radio host. If the horrific content and lack of substance were not enough, the book appears to have been thrown together in time for...Mother's Day sales opportunities perhaps? The book's structure is confusing at best as the 3 so-called authors disagree on the so-called advice that you are supposed to be following here, which makes for a jumble of a read. OK, vileness and lack of substance and structure aside, I found it to also be poorly written (is that like saying the food is bad and the portions are too small?), a complaint that I suppose could be lumped under poor editing. OK, so let's pass a smidgen of blame along to the editorial "geniuses" who not only worked on the text but who originally gave this project a green light (didn't they ask for a draft first?).

    12 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2010

    Author doesn't Follow Her Advise

    Jill Zarin has been reviewing her book and giving it a five star rating, which i find very dishonest. This is not a five star book not even close. Pretty sad the author gives false rating. A person i would not trust nor buy a book from

    11 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2010

    Totally Disappointed

    I got this book as a gift from a die hard NYC housewife fan. I didn't like it. I have issues with this book. One example: marrying a man for his money. I just couldn't finish it. Couldn't. This book is not for me. Period.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2010

    Not for me

    Did not enjoy this book at all!

    10 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2010

    ...And I'm Superficial

    I'm a completely admittedly superficial woman, and yes I date with the intention of marrying for money. BUT WHO THE CRAP WANTS TO READ IT IN A BOOK TITLED SECRETS FROM JEWISH MOTHERS. Read it cause a friend bought it, I'm actually a fan of Jill on RHONYC, but this is the WORST, its not even funny so whoever wrote the first 5 or 6 reviews, well I suspect those were either the author or best friends that obviously dont have the ability to read, this is GARBAGE. I want a refund on a book I didnt buy!!

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Not worth a dollar

    I wish I could have returned this but it was a gift. Poorly written but well-intentioned I suppose. I am not such the women have enough "secrets" to fill more than a page or so.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    I have nothing personal against Jill BUT sorry i didn't care for the book VERY DISAPPOINTING!

    I must say I;m glad i didn't pay for the book, Im jewish & offended by things that are said in this book, (marrying $) etc. No beauty secrets that she gave were any that we didnt already know. Im sorry I just thought this was for media attention. VERY DISAPPOINTED!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2010

    straight to the bargain bin

    I started reading this book because I watch the show and thought it would be fun. This book is full of offensive stereotypes and Zarin should be reported to the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. Its neither useful nor fun and if the author had any ability to reflect (which she clearly doesn't as evidenced in the book) she would be embarrassed. There is NO WAY that the good reviews are real. This book is terrible.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2010

    Just Awful

    Luckily I didn't buy this book, a friend of mine got it from a friend who got it as a gift and passed it on to me. This book might be like the infamous fruitcake and there is only one being passed around. Save your money... Simply awful and insulting.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    An enjoyable quick read with a point of view which is practical, blunt, honest, confessional and sometimes controversial.

    An enjoyable quick read with a point of view which is practical, blunt, honest, confessional and sometimes controversial. Have fun and laugh out loud. You do not have to completely agree with all of the advice in this self-help book but it will definitely enlighten you and expose you to three opinions which may differ from your own and sometimes even with each other. You definitely won't be bored. It is like having a conversation with your friends.

    5 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2010

    I love this book!

    I have already given three of them to my friends as gifts. This book is witty and entertaining. I love it!

    4 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2010

    I really enjoyed this book.

    I've shared my comments about 'Secrets of a Jewish Mother' before and I'll say again, that I really enjoyed the book. I've recommended it to my married and single friends. The personal stories shared by Lisa Wexler, Jill Zarin and their mother, Gloria Kamen, made me laugh and cry. Gloria Kamen is a no-nonsense woman who tells it like it is and speaks with conviction, she is also VERY funny and has a big heart. The book is not a "Jewish mothers are perfect" type of book. They say they've made lots of mistakes in life and will continue to do so, they each share (many) personal stories of this. The women share the errors they have made and how they've grown as a result. The book offers great career-advice; advice on finances, beauty, relationships and how they've maneuvered through difficult family and business situations. They give a lot of credit to the men in their lives, which I thought was nice. It is not a book for Jewish women only; it has something for women of all ages, denominations and races. I think it would make a nice birthday, bridal shower or Mother's Day gift.

    4 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2010

    a real review from a real Jill fan from RI

    i have read Secrets of a Jewish Mother cover to cover. This book is SPOT on with its advice! Jill,Gloria,and Lisa have poured there heart and souls onto the pages of this book. There advice is not only life changing, but really works. Because of this book i landed an engagement ring and focused on the friendships that were worth it, and let go of the ones that werent. It helped me to be the person i want to be. There advice isn't anything but truthful. sometimes the truth hurts, but it helps guide you. i had the pleasure of meeting Jill,Gloria,Lisa,Sol,and Bobby on sunday. i waited until the 300 guests of the SOLD out event left so i could speak with Jill and her family. Gloria and Sol gave me beautiful advice that i will take to the grave. Bobby is the best, Lisa is so kind, and Jill was the most charming, sweetiest woman i could ever have got a chance to know. Jill isn't one bit what some people try to make her out to be. She was sincere with her words, and meant what she said. i can honestly say i consider Jill Zarin a friend for life. to all who bash this book with nasty reviews CLEARLY YOU HAVE NOT READ IT. i would give this book 100 stars if i could. this book is for every mother, sister, and child jewish or otherwise. you dont have to be jewish to get the loving advice these 3 amazing jewish women give in this book. PLEASE BUY AND READ THIS BOOK, I PROMISE YOU WHEN I SAY IT IS AMAZING. On a side note, when i spoke to Jill she was angry about people bashing her,this book, and her family. one person in particular goes by the name Lynn n chicago. i have seen her tweets and blog and they are nasty!! this woman has never met Jill and assumes from watching a show that its ok for her to hate on Jill. if you or anyone you know is following her tweets PLEASE STOP!! this lady needs to get a life. it is a show and they only show a brief snippet of Jill and her life. she really is a sweet sweet girl and i really mean that! i know not everyone will be as fortunate as i was to really get a speak with Jill or her family but i can truly assure you she is not who people try to make her out to be. PLEASE end the hate and give Jill and her loved ones the LOVE THEY DESERVE!!! please buy this book. i promise when i tell you...the secrets are worth it. LOVE YOU JILL x0x_ Jessica

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    ADVICE DISPENSED OPENLY AND WITH HUMOR

    If you're a fan of TV's The Real Housewives of New York City SECRETS OF A JEWISH MOTHER is a must read for you. Authored by Jill Zarin, her sister Lisa Wexler, and their mother, Gloria Kamen, it is a compendium of advice on subjects ranging from friendship to dating to beauty and health to education to career to marriage to parenting (with the wedding always preceding parenthood) to family issues to money, and a great deal in between.

    Whatever the subject under discussion each of the authors offers a relevant personal experience. The chapter on Marriage begins with "If anyone who has been married a long time tells you her marriage is and always has been perfect, she is lying," and is followed by notes from this advice giving trio. Jill shares her first marriage and subsequent divorce with a positive outlook - she would not have had her daughter Allyson without it. She also stresses the importance of great sex but also friendship, love, and trust. Both Lisa and Jill advise against becoming involved with "the man who makes a lot of money while still young enough to really enjoy it. It usually goes to his head, and by that we mean the wrong one." On the other hand, Gloria offers rules to keep a man after you are married - keep up your appearance, make time to go away alone together, share your husband's interests, enjoy the company of happy couples rather than those who tend to argue.

    Now, in all probability little of the advice offered in SECRETS OF A JEWISH MOTHER is new; much of it may be what your mother or grandmother told you. And some of it, for this reader was pointless and over the top. However, the pleasure of the book is in hearing it related with honesty and humor by three engaging authors who are willing to share their successes and failures.

    Also included are color photos and a Yiddish Glossary. Many of us are familiar with schmuck and kvetch, but there are more to come. We only wish a pronunciation guide had been offered.

    Hob anoe (have enjoyment), which you'll find in reading SECRETS OF A JEWISH MOTHER.
    - Gail Cooke

    3 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2010

    Fantastic and easy read! Everyone is sure to learn something!

    A really great book! I couldn't put it down. Organized in a way that gives the reader time to reflect on how they approach their own situations in life. 3 very wise women. I am noticing that there seem to be a lot of reviews that don't really review the book, but review one of the authors behavior on a reality show. Don't be mistaken, the book is Fantastic!!

    3 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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