Articles by Ask Helen


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…


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…


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…


Ask Helen: This election is important

How can a Jew possibly consider voting for a bombastic, anti-Semitic bigot? Any candidate who demonizes people by religion or ethnicity should feel scarily familiar. I’m terrified that someone I’ve shared meals and conversation with could say so casually, “They’re both the same, and I like that he’s not a politico.” I’m not a blind…

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