Sisterhood Blog

Paying Tribute to Mom — With Kale

By Laura Harari

  • Print
  • Share Share

The author and her mother // Courtesy of Laura Harari

This Mother’s Day, I’m getting creative with my flower arrangement. I’m filling it with kale. Not only does it top the list of the trendiest vegetables of 2014, it is also a tribute to my mother: a slim, tall, Jewish Sofia Vergara, who was way ahead of her time. She was a passionate advocate for kale in the 90’s, long before it was used as both an appetizer and a centerpiece at this year’s Oscars Governors Ball. Back then, my mom made a convincing case for the green leafy power vegetable, in all its antioxidant, iron, and high-fiber glory.

As her fluffy-haired, Brooklyn-accented, Jewish daughter, she had me involuntarily trained as a miniature health snob. Before I was old enough to read, my mom had me memorize the three evil ingredients to avoid at all costs: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), hydrogenated oil and the devil incarnate, sugar. And that was all aside from having to look for the OU on packaged goods as we ate a strictly kosher diet. I recited my mother’s crazy health-food mantras like a well-trained organic-eating parrot. When my nursery teacher offered me a can of Coca Cola, I asked: “Did you know Coke can take the paint off of a car?”

I soon got tired of being the obedient nutritious daughter. I’d dream about the day I’d be old enough to live on my own and be free of the shadow of sugar-guilt that followed me around. I pictured my future self skipping through my local supermarket, the sound system blasting Aaron Carter’s “I Want Candy” while I threw heaps of chocolate, cookies and cereal into my shiny red cart. I’d finally understand what it feels like to be free. Maybe I’d even become the sixth Spice Girl. They’d call me Candy.

In high school, I rebelled. I found excuses to stay in school, away from the watchful eye of my health-obsessed mother. Late nights at volleyball practice involved shameful pig-outs at the vending machine, leaving me dizzy after overdosing on Sour Patch Kids. I began having nightly cravings for a cold glass of undiluted Tropicana orange juice, which may sound healthy to you but 22 grams of sugar per serving gave me a rush. I became a full-blown sugar-addict.

I had put on 10 pounds, I was moodier than ever and my face was covered in acne. When I’d picture how great life would be if I didn’t have to worry about my skin, instead of an image of an airbrushed supermodel coming to mind, I’d picture my mom. Joy Harari: the beautiful, youthful mother of five who watched both of her parents die in their sixties of cancer brought upon by a lifetime of poor health choices. She dedicated her life to ensuring her family ate well. I realized she was a walking example of what a healthy woman looked like.

It took too many constipation episodes that coincided with the bagel I ate for lunch that day, patterns of dandruff that correlated with a sugar relapse period and going through tubes of MAC cover-up during dairy bouts for me to see the connection between the food I ate and how I felt. Now that I finally live on my own, my supermarket list is identical to my mother’s: probiotic-filled fermented sauerkraut, organic produce, grass-fed organic kosher beef and free-range eggs.

I finally appreciate the love that was behind my mom’s notorious sugar glares and kale-infused dinners. It was a love so much more powerful than the brief placating satisfaction of a sugary lollipop that so many parents resorted to.

Though it may not be the most exciting Mother’s Day gift she’s ever gotten, I know my mother will appreciate the deep, heartfelt significance behind her kale arrangement. Knowing her, she’ll probably take it apart, massage it with extra virgin organic olive oil and feed it to her grandchildren. After all, a mother’s work is never done.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: mothers day, kale, health

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.