Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | August 11, 2018

Letters from Camp: Jetski and Other Drama

I’M BACK (again)! So I fell off a jetski… I took a turn too tight with the speed at max(70ish kmph) and I got thrown off with my clothes and watch on. My watch is fine, thanks for your concern. A craaazy thing happened. Some boys from bunk 37 got kicked out after raiding canteen without anyone else knowing(they broke in). The best part? they got a box of candy for every bunk in our camp and gift wrapped it, writing “happy holidays” on it. It was quite the enjoyable surprise. After canteen we went up the big hill(dori can tell you what that is) then a bunch on non-teen camp kids came up after. They got yelled at until one of the counselors told them to go back down the hill telling them teen camp isn’t a shortcut. It was pretty entertaining. Scuba diving sucked, the guy there is extremely rude. My friend was borrowing a friend’s ipad with wifi and he accidentally dropped it and the screen cracked all over, rendering it completely useless. I finished the woodshop project for you guys and almost finished another. If you know a young child who likes crappy wood projects, let me know cause I have a gift for them. We had chinese food but no fortune cookies ):
Love ya! Bye!
P.S. I’ve been trying to find the battlebots fight cards on these computers but there’s a firewall. 

jetski action

Zack jetskiing on a different day when he didn’t fall off.

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | August 3, 2018

Camp Canada Highlights

“Hi mom, dad, dori(and my entire extended family, judging by the fact that they all said they liked it). I’m back from canada! Everybody brought their phones since you were supposed to bring them just for canada, but not me. Ima go over the highlights. Talking with my friends on the bus was a lot of fun. I ate a lot of ice cream and gelato. Quebec was very nice. Montreal was very nice. One person in my bunk(a camper) was asked at the border, not if he had firearms, but “How many firearms do you have with you?” La Ronde [Debbie note: Six Flags] was great. One guy fainted on two coasters at the corkscrews. I went on every ride i wanted to except for one of them, but I heard it wasn’t that great. Anyway, today was “super day” it was kind of like a competition between bunks(we did not win), but I did get to eat donuts off of a string, so there’s that. Love you guys lots and can’t wait to see you again!

Back to Debbie. Based on camp pictures posted on the website, the campers also did some volunteer work unloading boxes from a truck, took a boat cruise and had a dance party on the boat (and took a lot of selfies with those phones they were apparently allowed to bring only to Canada – maybe I’ll read the instructions next time), and visited the Olympic stadium. This is my favorite picture from the camp trip.


Not Zack

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | July 27, 2018

Letters from Camp: The Boy is Growing Up


not an official camp photo, but one taken as he left for camp (thanks for the photo, Jonathan)

Zack is in a new division of camp this year – “teen camp” – and that means that that when perusing camp photos each night (and morning…and midday) it’s hard to tell who the counselors are and who the campers are, because the males all have tons of body hair, muscles and height. And the females…well you can guess.

Aside from a bunk photo and one on the first day when it appears Zack is getting ready to have a lice check (though on second thought, it might just be kids schmoozing while one girl plays with another girls hair as she sits on a stool – nah, probably lice check) there haven’t been any Zack photo sightings.

Zack is famous in our house for writing very short emails, if he writes them at all. Or he sends them to Doug Kaplan at gmail, instead of Debbie Kaplan at hotmail. Doug is my BFF every summer.

So I was shocked today to get a long email, that was not only impeccably typed, but full of information and LONG. Some highlights:

“I wrote an entry every day and now I’m typing it up to email it, now that I’ve realized my writings are completely illegible…

I came to camp today(obviously). Almost none of my friends from last year are here…The food was as expected(bad).

Hello again! I just came back from playing cards against humanity with my bunk (I did not win). Lunch was quesadillas and one person in my bunk who had 12 of them got terrible diarrhea. Half of fishing got rained out, but we did find a snake. In woodshop, I’m working for something for your bathroom. Light’s out is at midnight, so I don’t get a ton of sleep…

Day 3
One laundry bag(that didn’t have my stuff in it thankfully) was not brought in tonight so they won’t have all their clean clothes for canada [Debbie note – this is a five day teen camp trip where they drive to Canada and back, though I don’t know why they’re doing laundry after three days]. In animal center, we took out the chinchilla and it was very fluffy. While looking for a worm in fishing, I stepped on a snake and it scared the bejesus out of me. some guy cam in to talk about the art vs artist debate and the BDS-Movement. He came in with a clear opinion to push.

Extra thing! I will describe/write out some of the stuff written on walls/beds in my bunk.
-A llama with a penis as big as it’s neck next to a house as big as the llama.
-“Dave loves dick”
-the word mom about a line with the word wow reflected below it.
-“a dick in the bush is worth two in the pussy”
-“100% gimel”

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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