Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | May 6, 2018

Tulip time

We went to Amsterdam this summer, and in spite of my vow not to buy tulip bulbs, I bought them anyway. We brought home three bags of bulbs, which I planted in the fall. Imagine my surprise this spring when the blooms appeared – and looked nothing like the bulbs which were supposed to be in the package.


Bag 1: what I expected

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Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | April 26, 2018

How to get your driver’s license in under four hours

I’m going to make myself look bad, so that when you take your child to get their driver’s license, you can do it the right way. That’s why it took us almost four hours for Dori to get her license (spoiler alert).

First a bit about New Jersey. Driving rules here are a different beast than what I grew up with. You can’t get your license until 17, and your permit until 16.

Kids in our town take driver’s ed at school sophomore year. They can take the driver’s test there, and don’t have to set foot at the MVC (Motor Vehicle Commission – though I’m used to calling it DMV) until they get their license. They normally take 6 hours of individual professional driving instruction (we pay for that), and the instructor gives them the eye chart test at their office. They collect the birth certificate and other info, and go to MVC to get the permit for your kid. THAT part is nice. Also, if your kid hasn’t taken their driving test at school, they can take it at the driving instruction office – and from what I hear from several people, the instructors are known for giving hints and making sure they pass the test.


This line will take 45 minutes to get to the front – with an appointment

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Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | March 5, 2018

What is Jen eating today?

For a while, I ran a series of photos on Facebook titled “What Jen is eating today.” That would be Jen the Squirrel (I named the squirrel Jen after one of my writer friends named the squirrel outside her window Debbie – though it had nothing to do with me). My office windows face fences, where squirrels spend a lot of time running back and forth, sometimes with food. Given that I work by myself all day and get distracted easily, I pay attention.

One day I saw the squirrel run by with half a piece of pizza (which I knew was not ours, as we eat all our pizza). Unfortunately I didn’t get the camera in time. But soon after I caught Jen on film munching on spiky balls from our trees (we have 12 full leaf bags full of these in the garage, and more litter the lawn). Then a banana. Lettuce. Some unknown grisly fat thing. Avocado peels.



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Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | April 23, 2017

What a Soferet Does

We recently had the chance to hear about what a soferet does. A soferet is a female Torah scribe. Linda Coppleson visited TBEMC to talk to the community and make some repairs to the synagogue’s Torahs. She’s been a scribe for 15 years


What is a sofer and soferet?

A scribe (sofer is male scribe) writes the Torah, mezzuzah scrolls, megillah scrolls and fixes them as well. Some also write ketubot (marriage contracts). When repairing a ritual Hebrew scroll, she looks for dirt on the parchment and mistakes in the letters, perhaps letters that are faded, scratched or portions of parchment that are torn. Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | March 24, 2017

Touring the Manischewitz factory

While NJ and NY locals have all kinds of stories about touring the matzah factory when they were young, I didn’t get to do that. There is no matzah factory in Arizona. But lucky me – I got to tour it as an adult! The Manischewitz factory in Newark NJ is their global headquarters, and only factory for their 400 products (not the wine – info on that in the first post). We went behind the scenes. See what we saw.


Part 1 – matzah, matzah, matzah – see how matzah gets made and baked, learn the facts. All kinds of matzah – plus Tam Tams (remember the Tam Tam shortage some time back?).

Part 2 – the other 385 (or so) products that Manishewitz makes – under numerous brands. See the Manischewitz factory in action.

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | November 15, 2016

The Piano

I got a little weepy today when the piano movers came to the house. It was pouring down rain, not really a good day for a piano delivery. Yes, they were delivering a new piano we purchased last week. It was a a rather sudden purchase, though one we knew we wanted to make for some time. Our old piano, which got us through our son’s first six¬†years of lessons, was not enough anymore. The keys would stick and there was only so much our tuner could do for this 1935 relic. After pouring money into maintenance and fixes, we learned the tuner had done as much as he could do and we should think about an upgrade.


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Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | October 30, 2016

Cleaning out the Garage

When we lived in California, we actually parked one of our cars (the minivan) in the garage. That’s kind of a miracle, in retrospect. Our garage was also used for storage, as we had no basement or attic, and we had suitcases in there as well as a storage pantry (we learned what we could leave in there that the mice wouldn’t eat). I hate to think what it would be like to move back to that townhouse now, with everything we’ve accumulated.


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Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | July 29, 2016

Bar Mitzvah Greetings

After Zack’s Bar Mitzvah, Dori came up with a checklist of things adults could say to the Bar Mitzvah boy/man.

She writes:

In order to save the bar mitzvah kid’s time, please fill out this sheet and check all that apply:

  • You did a great job!
  • You got so big!
  • Wow! Last time I saw you, you were three and liked to run around naked!
  • Do you remember me?
  • Today I am a fountain pen.
  • You’re a MAN now!
  • Have you seen your mom?
  • Am I allowed to take a balloon?
Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | July 10, 2016

Bar Mitzvah reply cards

I have a lot of friends who are preparing for their children’s b’nai mitzvah. To save them the trouble of coming up with wording on the reply cards, I wanted to share what we did, since it was so successful.

kaplanink reply card updated


Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | June 22, 2016

Lessons from the bar mitzvah

Given how smoothly the planning was going for Zack’s bar mitzvah, I thought I’d have no good post to share after. Ha ha! Stupid me. You’re in luck. I have plenty of lessons from the bar mitzvah, and they’re all below, in no particular order. (When you’re done, visit my lessons from Dori’s bat mitzvah).

-My name is Debbie Kaplan and I order too much food. If we invite you over for dinner in the next year, it’s likely that we’ll be serving you food from the bar mitzvah weekend. But we’ll pretend we made it ourselves.




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