Author: Maya Bernstein

Maya Bernstein is Director of Education and Leadership Initiatives at UpStart Bay Area, where she blogs on Jewish Social Entrepreneurship. She lives with her husband and three children in Palo Alto, CA, where she’s made a secret deal with the devil in exchange for time to support her piano, swimming, yoga, and poetry habits.

It was one week into my family’s trip to Israel, and we lost our camera. Perhaps it was stolen. Most likely it fell out of the bottom of the stroller, while I was digging for sunscreen, or pretzels, or a hat. Perhaps it was the inevitable sacrifice, to appease the gods who watch over those… Read more »


When my grandmother babysat for us when I was young, we always played “Witch.” This was a glorified version of Hide and Seek, in which the witch hunted for the innocent children with the hope of capturing and cooking them in her cauldron for supper. My grandmother was the witch, of course, since, hands down,… Read more »

Puppy Love

Duncan is a dog who works. Like his colleagues who sniff out drugs and bombs, he has been trained from puppyhood to associate treats, praise, and significant Christmas bonuses with the sweet, over-ripe scent of bed bugs, a scent barely detectable to the human olfactory system.


This is the point when I began to suspect that today’s allergists are closely related to the Rabbis who re-interpreted biblical verses to create modern kashrut. Then we were told that, if we truly loved our daughter, and wanted to really be as safe as possible, we should avoid all foods that say “processed in a plant that also processes tree nuts.”


It is a time of returning. Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, is upon us. We are in the midst of the Hebrew month of Elul, which, in preparation for the Days of Awe, is a period of Teshuva, often translated as repentance, but which literally means to go back, to return. PJ Library sent… Read more »

A Room of One’s Own, In Time

There was a great cartoon in the New Yorker magazine a couple of weeks ago; it pictures a mother driving with her three kids in the back seat. The kids were hollering, fighting, and, one could safely assume, had very sticky fingers. The mother’s eyes were narrow slits in the rear-view mirror. The bumper sticker… Read more »

She’s A Boy

A month ago, a day after our son was born, my husband brought our “big girls,” ages 4 and 2, to visit me and the newborn in the hospital. “You have a baby brother!” I said to them. The big one, already old enough to know that boys have cooties, lamented the fact that it… Read more »


In the leafy bushes immediately outside of our front door, a hummingbird has built a nest. For the past three weeks, during which time my husband has grown a beard in mourning for his mother, and I have swollen into the last month of my third pregnancy, the mother hummingbird has been sitting on her… Read more »


I am back on the train again. Strangely, this morning, it is the window that is foggy, preventing me from seeing clearly the world beyond, rather than the air being full of Bay Area morning fog. Last week, my mother in law passed away unexpectedly. I have just returned from the week of sitting Shiva… Read more »

Say “Cheese”

Virginia Heffernan, in her piece Framing Childhood in this week’s New York Times Magazine, writes, with only a hint of sarcasm, that “we form families in the Internet age so we can produce, distribute, and display digital photos of ourselves.” I am here to admit, that at least from where I’m sitting, she speaks the… Read more »