Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mordechai,

How do I get my three-year-old to keep his yarmulke on?


Blowing My Top



Dear Blowing,

Thumb tacks.

All kidding aside, three-year-old boys don’t always realize when their yarmulke falls off. They’re not used to wearing it. They’ll be leaving the house and you’ll be like, “Where’s your yarmulke? And your shoes?”

So my advice is to put small trackers on all his yarmulkes – the kind that make a “Bip-bip!’ noise when you push a button on your key fob – so you can find them when he can’t.

It’ll also help you find him in a crowd.

Of course the question is how to make sure he wears it in the first place. What if he doesn’t want to put it on?

  1. Point out to him that all big boys wear yarmulkes. Three-year-olds are generally excited to be big boys, because they don’t yet realize that being big means you expect more of them. Well, this is their first lesson.
  1. Get him a yarmulke that he’s excited about. We suggest Alef-Bais on a train. And the Alef-Bais should be so big relative to the train that each letter has to get its own car. This is why it has to be transported by train. G-d only knows who ordered such a big Alef-Bais. But that’s not your problem.

You should also print his name on it, so that when you find a yarmulke behind furniture, you know which of your kids it belongs to, or if it’s your husband’s. If this furniture is the barcalounger, it could be anyone.

  1. Keep yarmulkes all over the house so that you can, at a moment’s notice, plop one on his head. In fact, practice tossing horseshoes so that you can get good at throwing yarmulkes across the room and having them land on his head without him even realizing.
  1. Figure out a way to keep it from coming off. I have an uncle who’s a handyman, and he uses crazy glue. (That’s what Home Depot recommends too.) Or you can have the kid wear something with a strap under his chin. Have him walk around in a bike helmet for a while.
  1. If he prefers, give him a baseball cap. Eventually he’ll be sick of how high he has to tilt his head to look at adults, and you can offer to get rid of the brim.



Dear Mordechai,

How on earth do I parallel park? I’ve been trying for hours.

Car’s Too Big


Dear Car’s,

I don’t know. It happens to be that I stink at parallel parking. Best I can tell, this is how you do it:

First you back into the spot, reeeeeeeally slowly, until you hit the curb while still jutting out into the street at an insanely sharp angle. Then you go forward and try again, making sure to always turn the steering wheel in a random direction at least three full turns each time you do anything, as if the wheels of the car are spinning around three times when you do that. Keep going back and forth for a while, back and forth, while making absolutely no progress.

If you need the space, you can also bump the car behind you and then the car in front of you and then the car behind you and then the car in front of you, and also, if necessary, the “No Parking” sign. Hitting the bumpers of the people around you is perfectly socially acceptable, unless the guy is in the car, in which case he will immediately come out and start taking your insurance information, because he has all the time in the world, as is evidenced by the fact that he was just sitting in his car for the ten minutes it’s taking you to parallel park because why on EARTH hasn’t he pulled out so you can use his space? It generally takes me two full spaces to parallel park properly. Which is why I don’t live in the city. Do you know how long it takes to find two adjacent empty spots? My best hope is a questionable spot that may or may not be far enough from a hydrant, where I try to hug the car closest to me just in case.

If there’s someone else in the car with you, offer to drop him off before you even start, so he doesn’t have to witness this. But if he says, “No, no, it’s okay,” then after the first few minutes of trying to get into the spot, you can finally allow him to get out and make random arm motions that you can’t see while you ignore him and hit the car behind you, because he’s like, “Go go go,” as if you have ten feet, and then suddenly he yells, “STOP!” after you hit the guy’s bumper.

So what I do is I bump the car behind me and I bump the car in front of me and then I somehow end up eight inches further from the curb than every other car. Or I end up with 2-3 tires sitting on the curb.

“Oh, I drove up onto the sidewalk? Thank goodness. I thought that was the hood of the car behind me.”

I don’t park parallel to anything.


Dear Mordechai,

I’m making a Shabbos sheva brachos or possibly a bar mitzvah and have invited a bunch of guests that I’m putting at neighbors. What should I put in their guest bags?

Very Little Sleep


Dear Very,

Most people put in the following:

-Tea lights, even though many rabbis say that guests should bring their own tea lights. But they can use the ones they brought and then save these for their next simcha.

-A matchbook that says, “What a perfect match!” (This works better for sheva brachos than a bar mitzvah. For a bar mitzvah, you might want to write something like, “What a striking young man!”)

-A sleep mask, in case they forget to turn off their bedroom light or can’t figure out how to cover the Shabbos lamp.

-A Shabbos lamp.

-A free local magazine, to read by the lamp.

-Noshy foods no one’s going to eat because there’s too much food at the meals already. Check to see if the hosts mind people eating in the bedrooms, or if the guests will have to come up to the kitchen to eat their six almonds.

-Directions to the shul, as well as a map and a little note that says, “Memorize this map. Eiruv is down.”

-Grape juice and challah in case they can’t find the shul.

-Babushka™ brand rain bonnets for your guests’ sheitels.

-A little thing the guests will think is white chocolate but is actually soap.


-Tiny shampoos that you took from hotels over the years. Now’s your chance to finally use them.

-A yarmulke, in case their three-year-old loses his. (This is the real reason many simchas have yarmulkes near the door, what with all the dancing.) Or he can wear the sleep mask.


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