Review: Talmudic Images

Post by Melissa

Post by Melissa

Anyone who has ever learned the Talmud, be it in daily practice of Daf Yomi or a single shiur, knows that the wisdom of our sages is vast and keeping track of the sages themselves is quite a task. This is where Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz comes to our rescue with Talmudic Images, one of the recently released books in The Steinsaltz Library from MAGGID, a division of Koren Publishers Jerusalem.

Rabbi Steinsaltz brings the knowledge only someone of his vast learning and teaching experience can to this book, as he chronicles the lives of thirteen of the most often cited sages from both the Tannaitic and Ammoraitic generations. He utilizes the Talmud to paint a picture of the lives of our sages, weaving together stories from different masechtot (volumes) and incorporating bits of history along the way. Having access to the bigger picture of their lives allows us to better understand their positions and approaches to the debates in which we see their names bandied about.

In addition to the fact sharing, Rabbi Steinsaltz elucidates on the reasons for each sage’s particular approach to halacha, based on the information he has pieced together about their lives.  These insights are truly eye opening for the reader, and allow for a much deeper comprehension of the nuances of the positions which are upheld by our greatest sages time and again.

After having completed the monumental task of translating and commenting on the entire Talmud, Rabbi Steinsaltz is in a unique space to be able to offer such comprehensive overview, while keeping it concise and interesting. He brings enough material on each sage to allow the reader to get a clear view of who they were and the historical context in which they lived, without being overwhelmed by too many details.

This book is not only an interesting read as a stand alone book, it is an essential reference (not to be confused with Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Talmud Reference Guide) for the casual and regular Talmud learner.

Personally, I am excited to be able to have this book in our collection for a lifetime of review, and intend to purchase Biblical Images – a similar piece about the people in TaNaCh, as well.


*Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this honest review, though I did receive a complimentary copy of the book. 


Review: SuperSlip by Shell Sheli

I was recently contacted by one of my favorite online shops for modest layering pieces, Shell Sheli, to review their new product: the SuperSlip. As a tall woman, I can definitely appreciate the idea of a skirt extender, though I was a bit hesitant to accept the product as I am so tall, I feared it still wouldn’t work for me. After some very nice and informative emails, I agreed to test this new and innovative product for you all.

Here is the basic info:

The top is a smooth polyester slip to lay flat under your skirt without adding bulk.

The bottom 8″ is made from a thicker material to extend the line of your skirt.

It is 26″ long and held in place with a thin elastic band which allows you to comfortable wear it at any point to make it the perfect length.

It comes in A-line and Pencil shapes to meet the needs of your wardrobe.




When my package arrived (quite speedily!), I was eager to get a good feel for these innovative slips. I tried one on under my comfy skirt just to get an idea, and it was love at first sight.

Post by Melissa

I wore the a-line slip under a skirt to work on Thursday, and the pencil slip under a summery dress on Shabbat.  The pencil slip was worn in place of a jersey knit layering skirt, and was a very different feeling.  It stayed in place better while walking, and was also much lighter – such a great alternative for summer! Both days I found myself to be extremely comfortable, not having to mess with my skirt or be self conscious. While I had to wear them down around my hips in order to be long enough, it didn’t bother me at all.  I also pulled it up to wear high for a test to see around the house, and that was also comfortable.  The diversity of these slips is amazing. The only negative I can say is that it did shorten my stride – though that isn’t inherently a bad thing, sometimes its nice to be forced to slow down a bit.

For a limited time, use coupon code “blossom” and save 15% on your order, and if you are fast, you’ll have them in time for Pesach!

Note: I received both slips for free to review, however I did not receive any additional compensation. 

Review: Haggadot (+ M’s love of them in general)

I was recently contacted about reviewing two new Haggadot, and I cannot express my excitement about this in words. Pesach has always been my favorite holiday, while the prep is intense, it only helps to build the excitement.  It totally reshapes an entire week every year around remembering a pinnacle moment in Jewish history. (Plus in a good year, we get five days of checking out from the world)

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to develop an amazing collection of Haggadot.  I grew up with the Maxwell House one, and while it is a classic, I knew there great commentaries I had yet to discover.  So every year, I try to get one new one.  We started our Sephardekenazi family collection with “The Sephardic Passover Haggadah” by Rabbi Marc Angel. Last year I bought myself the Haggadah which Elie Wiesel wrote the commentary for.  I also have “Go Forth and Learn” from Rabbi David Silber on my wish list. It probably would have been this years addition, had I not received these two amazing haggadot for review. While all of this is obviously not related to the review, I had to first share that I may be biased, because I love haggadot and the many interesting ways in which they can be done. I value unique commentaries which expand our understanding of the traditional text. I believe that we can all learn from each other, and that every haggadah gives us a chance to do just that.

The first Haggadah I received for review was “New American Haggadah,” translated by Nathan Englander, edited by Jonathan Safran Foer and containing commentaries by a long list of contemporary Jewish authors. I was giddy when I took it out of the packaging.  It is a hardback book with a bold design that was visually stunning as I just flipped through the pages.

The translation was overwhelmingly traditional, but with some modernization and active language – which I really appreciated, as a traditional yet modern woman. The language is overwhelmingly powerful and absorbing.  From the moment I read “as our people’s ink-stained fingers turn its wine-stained pages” in the intro, I was hooked.

There is a timeline of Jewish history running across the top of the pages, which captures the long history of the retelling of these stories.  To complete this, there are artistic renderings of the Hebrew text in each section designed to be reminiscent of the typesetting of the era reflected in the timeline.

My favorite thing, is the structure of the commentary though.  Each commentary section is written by someone else, but they always follow the same format.  There are four sections: House of Study, Playground, Nation, and Library.  In each commentary, these four categories are utilized to structure the authors reaction to a particular piece of the haggadah.  They also re-orient the pages and you have to physically turn the book 90′ to read them.  While I like the ability to clearly see the commentary outside of the flow of the haggadah, my husband felt it was annoying to have to turn the book. I also was unable to identify which author wrote which commentary, which may be bothersome to others.


The second Haggadah is “Sharing the Journey: The Haggadah for the Contemporary Family” which was recently published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis. I didn’t know much about what to expect from this one, but since I love Haggadot, I was excited to see something out of my normal zone.  From the beginning (lierally, the table of contents) it became apparent that would be just that.

This Haggadah begins with a checklist for preparation and explanations of the various things which go on the table, from wine glasses for each person, to matzah, to Miriam’s cup.  There is gender nuetral language, including discussing the four children instead of the four sons (which given the publisher is to be expected), I was pleased to see that it was done so that it doesn’t interupt the flow of the translations of the magid (story telling) which is so important to the sedar.

It also has interesting pieces of additional learning, “opportunities for discussion,” and songs in the margins and otherwise sprinkled throughout the hagaddah. As a very interactive person, this was really interesting to me.  There is even an appendix with more songs! This really makes it feel family friendly, and even just friendly to those who are looking for more interactive and less traditional sedar experience.

I really enjoyed both of these Haggadot and feel they add uniqueness to my collection.

Note: I received copies of both haggadot for free to review, however I did not receive any additional compensation. 

Review: Wicking Headwrap

I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I have a great love for the scarves and hats produced by The Style Underground, so when Julie (its divine owner who I hope to someday meet in real life) offered to send me the Athena Moisture Wicking Headwrap to review, I couldn’t resist! You see, I wore her last wicking hat (the predecessor to the Yoshi braid hat) extensively, including for a half-marathon, but it was a bit bulky and this upgrade seemed more streamlined. Here is the product description:

High performance yet feminine, the navy moisture wicking fabric of this pre-tied will repel sweat away from your scalp to keep you feeling fresh. Perfect for the gym, outdoor sports and hiking, and hot weather.
Two snap clips, one at the front and one in the back, make this completely slip-proof. Features a seamless edge and perfectly-tailored pleats, which can be positioned in the front or back. Keep your hair in place by wearing this with a stocking cap underneath.

When my package arrived, I was excited to see what the fabric felt like.  It was in fact very airy and reminded me of the shirts given out at races – definitely a good sign.  Julie had also included the stocking cap, however I have to say that I have bought them from her before and do not find that they fit my head well.  I am sure its a great trick though, as I have had more than one person suggest this as a means of controlling my fly-aways.

After the gym, and still in place!

Unfortunately my gym-time has been pretty non-existent for awhile, but when I finally got to go, I was excited to try out this headwrap.  I paired it with my standard gym attire, a long sleeve light weight wicking jacket and wide leg yoga pants (I have safety concerns about wearing a skirt at the gym, so it is the one place I make an exception) and was ready to go.  It took me a  few tries to find the right placement so the clips didn’t pull at my very fine hair, but after just a few moments I felt like I was ready to go.  So I hit the treadmill, free weights, and dance floor – and never once had the need to readjust my headcovering! I was amazed when I walked back into the locker room, took a moment to really look in the mirror, and saw that it looked like it was in just the same place as it was when I walked out an hour earlier.  To top it off, my head wasn’t sweaty and I hadn’t felt overheated even once.  All very important in a gym-friendly headcovering!

Ready for a day out and about

After such a great first run with it, I felt that I should take it to the next step and wear it for a day out and about.  While it is definitely not the temperature outside these days to make one want a light weight head-covering, I know those days all too well and its always good to know what you can count on to make it a bit easier. So one day when I was going to be out and about for awhile, I built my outfit around it (not the first time I’ve done such a thing) and off I went again.  Again, I had to play with the clips to get them right without pulling.  However, this time I did find myself needing to adjust it periodically – the clips and my ponytail weren’t seeming to align well, though keeping the gathers opposite of my natural part seemed to help.

This is the clip. There is another at the nape of my neck.

I’ve worn it a few times since to try to figure out the clip thing, and I think its just a learning curve.  Each time it seems to get a bit better as I figure out what works with my head and hair.  This is not unusual for me and headcoverings though, so its definitely not a deal breaker and it has definitely gotten better with practice.  Even when they pull a bit, they do not give me headaches like some others have which is a big relief.  There is also no elastic in the wrap which helps in the no-headache department.

Overall, I am very excited about this headwrap.  The fabric is great for a hot day and it is casual enough for the gym, but the pleats also make it nice enough for running around town.  In some of the other materials, you could easily dress it up for a night on the town or a business meeting. The clips help it to really stay in place well and it is quick to slip on. In fact, I got word that Julie is looking to launch a pre-tied version of the Royal Turban soon, in “lightweight fabrics fit for springtime and in solid colored charmeuse for eveningwear” and I can’t wait.

I have to conclude by saying that I first connected to the site when Jessica discovered the scarf tying videos.  Since then my ability to look good in any situation has greatly increased due to the combination of classy and high-quality scarves and unique ways of tying them. I have also found both Julie and my fellow-fans to be full of great advice in moments of difficulty or when looking for a creative solution on how to feel pretty and rejuvenated when a cut or color isn’t going to have the same effect it once did.

And in case you’ve somehow missed learning about this great resource until now, I’ll share the description as well.

The Style Underground is a handmade accessories line that offers luxury headscarves and scarf-tying video tutorials. Our goal is to design fashion-forward headscarves that are slip resistant and easy to tie, then teach you how to rock them.The scarves, hats, and pre-tieds are carefully constructed by hand in our studio and in a local Connecticut couture dressmaking atelier. They’re made with fine fabrics, close attention to detail, and professional equipment.Our devoted fans and customers are enthusiastic about covering their hair with style. If you need some advice about wrapping a headscarf, or just need some encouragement, post on our Facebook fan page and you’ll get plenty of responses!
This headwrap was gifted to me for review, however I have still provided my complete honest feedback. The links are not affiliate links and we receive no compensation for any purchases made as a result of this post.