An Empowering Chanukah Interview With the Women of 'Between Carpools'

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Happy Chanukah!

Meet Leah, Renee, Victoria, Shani, and Esti...the women of Between Carpools..the ones who empowered themselves to create a place that empowers all of us to live our Jewish lifestyle to the fullest, with taste, ease, practicality, and style.

               "Between Carpools was born when five women got together for brunch around a table. On the table, there was this cheeseboard and lots of notebooks and freshly sharpened pencils...They wanted a place where Jewish women like themselves could feel at home and find kosher content that’s relevant to their daily lives...Between Carpools is the lifestyle site and app that speaks to the busy Jewish woman...It’s all things that make life easier for the Jewish woman..."
For this Chanukah, the Between Carpools squad and I have teamed up to present you with this rare interview, full of insights, inspiration, and loads more; like cool party and game ideas, plus easy recipes for us last minuters...and lots of wisdom to keep things sane, fun and fabulous, right until the end of Chanukah, and throughout the coming year.

So go grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the conversation, check out the links, get inspired, and get empowered!


Fashionisha: How did you guys meet and when did you decide to pull together your resources and create Between Carpools?

Esti: I think the first time I met Leah was actually when I was taking pictures of her kids! She was working in the food magazine world at the time and we briefly discussed food photography. Years later I worked with Renee and Victoria while photographing food for magazines. And Shaindy and I met while we were both doing some work for Ladida, a local childrens’ boutique. But Leah was really the one who pulled all this together. She’s the glue that holds us together and keeps us moving forward.

Leah: Victoria and I met over the phone when she called to interview me for an article about mixers in January 2010. Renee was our winner in our contest “The next Whisk food star,” then I found out she lives around the corner from me and is related to my husband. Esti, as she said, and Shaindy and I have kids in the same class.

Renee: I knew Leah, Victoria and Esti pretty well through Ami and other projects. Shaindy was introduced to me by Leah and once we got together everything just fell into place. We clicked immediately and realized we had a great team of talent, right here.

Shaindy: I’ve crossed paths with everyone on the team before but when Leah called me to discuss this project - I have to admit it was getting to work with these amazing woman that got me to even consider joining this crazy adventure we call Between Carpools.

F. So amazing and inspiring! What would you say sets Between Carpools apart from other websites? 

Leah: Between Carpools is a place for Jewish women to find life hacks, tips, quick recipes, and inspiration for our busy lives. We’re about sharing our experiences and helping each other learn from each other on how to create a warm atmosphere in the home, use our creative side, and be there for each other in a positive manner. We all get how hectic our lives are, but pretty things, new dinner ideas, and hacks just make the ride so much more enjoyable. Our goal is to always stay authentic and post things we truly love and what we find works.

Renee: I find it very inspiring when I see other women loving the website because it has helped them with life's little challenges like "What do I cook for dinner today" or "How to treat a stubborn diaper rash." This reminds me that Between Carpools is here for every woman, whatever her challenge may be. Like a big sister, but in your pocket, if you will. That is my favorite way of describing Between Carpools.

Shaindy: From the beginning, I was inspired because I saw a vision and a niche that Between Carpools could fill. Recipe sites--there are plenty--same for lifestyle tips. But what I felt was missing was the combination of pretty, practical, and functionary.  If our content was going to be amazing AND visually pleasing it is going to fill a niche in the frum world that no one has yet done.

F. We all know that success takes a lot of time and hard work, and results come from a lot of trial and error, and even mistakes and failure. Can you share with us any specific bumps in the road that felt like a big deal but ended up turning out ok? 

Victoria: I can’t remember any bumps because I don’t view bumps as bumps. It’s just Hashem steering you in another direction. I remember the first day Leah told me that we were going to write the cookbook  Passover Made Easy. I remember thinking, “There’s no way I can do this, I have absolutely no time.” I didn’t tell her what I was thinking, but I was going to tell her that I can’t take on the project. The next day, one of my clients (not in the food world) fired me. I was very involved in food writing at the time and couldn’t give their project the right focus. When that happened, I saw right away, “Now I can write the cookbook!” Imagine if I kept that job? I might have never have written books. Sometimes it’s obvious but sometimes it’s not. You just have to trust.

Renee: Bumps in the road are what make our creative juices flow. When you get stuck with something that's when we come up with the best and most creative ideas. Bumps force you to think out of the box.

Shaindy: As with any startup, there’s always a learning curve. Our team has always shared this amazing "optimistic we can do this” attitude, but at some point after some small hiccups along the way we stepped back and realized we can benefit from outside help to take care of things like site security, site speed, sales, extra content or anything that can free up our time to allow us to focus on what we each do best.

F. I know for me, one of my favorite things about blogging is being able to connect with all the amazing women in our Jewish blogging network. How has creating Between Carpools affected your relationships amongst each other and other bloggers?

Leah: I always say that I would never meet most of the food bloggers if not for what we do. I’ve made some amazing friends and friendships over the years. How likely could I have connected with Jewish woman in different states or countries if not for blogging? The best part for me is having friends that share my passion, who I can message and discuss things like the best way to let a dough rise. My friends in real life would have no idea why I’m so excited about these types of things. It’s just some dough, after all.

F. I totally get that. Being a "Momtrepreneur" is very in vogue now.  Do you find that for us- Jewish women with large families that are a priority-it's more difficult to do it all and find the balance?

Victoria: I don’t think it’s a conflict. To the contrary, being in control of your own schedule is more conducive to being there for your kids. We might not have traditional work hours (these days, for me it’s 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. til whenever), but it works. I personally don’t consider myself a boss or an entrepreneur, but I feel very fortunate to have a career where I can be there for my kids on days they’re off of school, or even if they simply forget their lunch at home. Let’s make one thing clear. Working women are not “less” there for their families. Perhaps overwhelmed women get distracted, but any woman, working or not working, can feel overwhelmed. Hashem gives you more koach when you have more responsibility. You have to learn to use that koach for the right things.

Leah: I think we’re all on the same page. Our family comes first. Once that’s clear every decision is based on that. We may do extreme things, like work at 1 am, but we’re fully there the hours our family needs us. Most of the times that means that we don’t leave the house during the afternoons and evening. We miss out on lots of fun networking events, free restaurant tastings and other cool opportunities. But no regrets. In spite of that we’ve all come extremely far in our talents with sticking to our family first rules.

F. Hmm FOMO! We all have it. There's no way to do every networking thing, but, like you said,  no regrets.  We can still pursue our goals and achieve success without sacrificing what's important.  What are some of your favorite tips for making life flow a little smoother while juggling both a business and home?

Victoria: I have a post on Between Carpools called, “Working Moms Alert: How to Get It All Done and Not Be Overwhelmed.” Leah also wrote a post “10 Things to Say to Yourself When You’re Overwhelmed.” She asked lots of people for their tactics when writing that. Those two posts really empower women and will change your perspective on juggling. Sure, it’s harder to juggle more balls, but imagine the person who doesn’t have balls? Lots of kids and parnasah opportunities are a blessing.

Renee: Lists! Lists! Lists! We have a few downloadable printouts to help you with just that, come erev Shabbos or erev chag.

Shaindy: Working on Between Carpools with some of the most organized gurus out there has kind of helped me to improve in this very area. The behind the scene process of how an idea becomes a post - which requires so much work, from idea to conception to drawing out a calender to writing to editing to shooting it  then posting  - and don’t forget all the meetings - it all sounds so tedious but somehow when your co-workers  have that organizing skill, it all just happens rather smoothly. It actually amazes me.

F. Between Carpools is so necessary. Again, as Jewish women, even if cooking is not your thing (that would be me) we always have Shabbos and guests and the next holiday coming up. Even if we want to keep it simple, we still love having everything look nice and taste good. It’s just the way we are…so what's your favorite quick tip, shortcut or hack when it comes to cooking, gift giving, or even taking care of our families. 

Leah: Our medicine hack was perhaps our most popular hack and these 5 minute doughnuts using bought pizza dough is the best doughnut hack.

F. So perfect for Chanukah.

Renee: Yes. And this is my favorite Shabbos fish dish for when there is literally no time but I still want to impress my guests.

And this Charchuterie Board is exactly what I will pull together anytime I have zero time to prep but want to feed a crowd. In style, I might add.

Shaindy: The Romanian Eggplant Dip featured during Pesach has become my weekly homemade healthy dip . There are so many little hacks like how to style a salad, or a new way to serve your chicken soup - that are small ideas that make a big difference - and I have to say it’s quite convenient having these ideas at your fingertips in such a visual and pretty way.

F. I'm really excited to try the chachuterie board...easy and pretty is so my style! Let's get back to Chanukah. What are your favorite decorating tips or party ideas that we can still implement in the last minute? 

Shaindy: The coloring tablecloth featured last year was a huge hit. There are so many posts that have inspired my decor choices from Between Carpools  - like thistablespread, or this one.  I love the transparency on this platform - I always encourage the team to share where every item was purchased - it really breaks things down for people with no natural styling skill to get a beautiful table.

F. Favorite Chanukah recipe? 

Leah: This year my two new favorites are the Classic Sufganiyot.  I was so excited with Noami’s hack for getting the perfect round sufganiot...

...and these Pastrami Pizzas.

Shaindy: I’m also all about easy and pretty. I just loved this easy donut hack dessert recipe.

F. Favorite gift to get or give?

Shaindy: Last Chanukah my parents got my kids this classroom sized dry erase board. It has by far been the best gift our family has ever recieved. It’s used practically everyday for homework or drawing and is good for kids of all ages.

F. Best advice for making Chanukah as wonderful as it can be.

Leah: For all of us on Between Carpools team, we feel that Chanukah is all about family time, by playing games and creating a fun family atmosphere. We post as many simple and easy hacks and game as we could come up with (and gather from other writers). As long as you keep that focus in mind,  it’s easier to make chanukah a wonderful experience.

This post is great for some last minute party ideas: Host a Chic No Cook (Almost) Chanukah Party

And these are some games we love:

How Renee Muller’s Family Kicks Off Chanukah Festivities

Danielle Renov’s Life Sized Memory Game

5 Party Perfect Games for Your Chanukah Get Together

Victoria: I like to do one “big” thing that they’ll remember forever. Last year, it was this S’Mores bar which was the size of my dining room table.

This year, I made a Life-Sized CandyLand Game Board with real candy. The kids roll dreidels, move along the board, collect candy in certain spots, choose cards, earn tickets...everything that a real board game would have, but much, much better. My kids helped me build it for our Sunday party.

F. So fun! You guys have such great content for Chanuka and all year round. What are some of your dreams for the future of Between Carpools? Are there any next levels we can look forward to?

Leah: As we’re growing so fast, our hope is to keep the site as authentic as when we started. We really post only items we love, hacks that we tested out and know that work, and our dream is to keep on inspiring women from all over the world and simply help them out.

Shaindy: We take ideas and requests from our readers very seriously. One thing that we’re planning is a siddur page where all woman-related prayers would be easily accessible. We also want to improve our food section and incorporate an easy search by Meat, Milk, Gluten Free, Dinner etc.

F. It all sounds so great! Thanks so much for being here, and looking forward to spending way more time browsing Between Carpools. 

Please leave a comment below, and let me know if you enjoyed this post, what you liked or didn't like, and if you'd like to be featured here on!

Ttyl...until next time,



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