Articles by Ask Helen


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Planning a trip is half the fun

A Nosh of Jewish Wisdom: How lovely is the sun after rain and how lovely is laughter after sorrow.   Dear Helen: I’m a single mom with a 14-year-old son. We have a great relationship. I’d like to take him traveling next summer: Europe, Morocco, Thailand and as many cool places as we can explore…

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Loss of spouse strains friendships

Dear Helen: I lost my dear husband of 30 years last summer. We had many friends we would regularly socialize with as couples. I also spent time with the ladies: shopping, lunches, cards. Since my husband has passed away, my couple friends do not call and ask me to join them for dinner or theater…

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Gifts, Grinches and Gratitude

Dear Helen: I’m part of a circle of friends who’ve traded holiday gifts for decades. Eventually we stopped giving them to all the children, too, but it would feel very strange, even socially uncomfortable, to skip Chanukah gifts for the core friends. This summer I gently suggested donating our gift money as tzedakah instead; I…

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Ask Helen: Vacation finances

Dear Helen: I agreed to go on vacation with a friend in another state. The place we chose was a compromise, as she is a doctor and I live on much more modest means. We agreed to go Dutch, though not to worry about splitting every meal down to the penny. I made reservations for…

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ask helen: Find your strength during Passover

Dear Helen: Every year my sister tries to upstage me at Passover. We have a family tradition of alternating first and second nights. When she goes first she puts on such an ostentatious display that my seder feels small and average. She says she cooks everything herself, but I’m convinced she’s used a deli. When…

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