In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 21, 2006 / 27 Menachem-Av, 5766

Our little house grew into a mansion

By Tom Purcell

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Boy, houses are getting huge these days. I offer a solution.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average new home grew to 2,434 square feet in 2005 from 1,660 square feet in 1973. Megahouses of 3,000 square feet and well beyond — "McMansions" — represent a quarter of all new home construction.

That got me to thinking about the modest house I grew up in.

As it went, in 1964, we'd been living in an 850-square-foot ranch, one built with GI Bill money after World War II. I was 2 then, the youngest of three, and my mother was pregnant with my sister Lisa. We were in dire need of a bigger house.

One day as the Big Guy drove home from work, he noticed a house was being built in a new housing plan. He stopped the car and paid a visit to the builder.

The house hadn't been sold yet, he learned. The builder was eager to sell, and the Big Guy, relying on the same "I'm-broke-as-hell-buddy" techniques he used to buy cars cheaply, negotiated several extras as part of the deal.

There must have been a rule in the early 1960s that every house built in the suburbs should have a brick facade on the bottom and white aluminum siding on the top, and our box-shaped house was no exception. It had four bedrooms, one full bathroom and one half-bathroom.

And it was all of 1,500 square feet.

My parents began improving the place right away. The Big Guy planted grass, trees and shrubs, while my mother painted and wallpapered. They built a family room in the basement. They added a concrete porch with roof out back, a porch that never wanted for a cool breeze.

By 1974, we had six children and the house was bursting at the seams. The Big Guy sold some stock and added on a fifth bedroom and full bath on the first floor — creating a 1,700-square-foot house.

We did a lot of living there. For 34 years the front door was never locked, and friends and relatives came and went at all hours. We had a million birthday parties and family gatherings there. Every emotion under the sun — love, anger, joy, sadness — took place there.

I remember how many a night I'd get home to see my mother and the Big Guy enjoying a bowl of ice cream in their bedroom while watching Johnny Carson. Or how Jingles, our dog, rushed out from under the shrubs to greet me. Or how we enjoyed so many meals on the back porch — grilled chicken, homegrown tomatoes and sun tea.

The modest size of the house forced us to live together — there was simply no way to avoid each other. We had to learn how to share — certainly how to negotiate — and how to get along, all valuable skills to have in life.

And never once did we feel our home was small.

I don't understand how so many families do it now. They have fewer kids and much bigger houses — houses that are sometimes so large their inhabitants don't often come across each other.

Maybe that's the difference. When we were kids, our parents made their decisions based solely on what was best for us — our education, our values, our future. They didn't measure themselves so much by the things they had but by how well their children turned out.

But today too many folks are caught up in the material trap — the need to build giant homes to impress. Sure, there's always been a need to "keep up with the Joneses" but, man, if today's houses are any measure, it's all we're thinking about.

The little house I grew up in may have been modest by material measures, but it was a mansion by the measures that really count. I can't think of a bigger place to grow up in.

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© 2006, Tom Purcell