On Thursday, March 29, CJP’s Women’s Philanthropy held its annual Pomegranate Society & Friends Event featuring actress Mayim Bialik of the hit shows Blossom and The Big Bang Theory. Hear how this actress, mother and neuroscientist (!) keeps Jewish values at the center of her life amid the challenges of life, work and societal pressures. Whether you’re a mother, a career woman or simply looking for a deeper connection to Judaism, Mayim’s stories will make you laugh and consider your own journey.
CJP had the chance to speak with Mayim and ask a few questions in preparation for this month’s Pomegranate event.
CJP: How have Jewish values shaped your life? How did they impact your decision to choose a holistic method of parenting?
MB: I think it’s safe to say that Jewish values are absolutely the values that have shaped me — from religious sensibility to collective responsibility for all people and creatures of the earth to my love for song and storytelling and my passion to repair the world. I am Jewish like I am 5′ 4″; it’s just me! As for parenting, my faith gives me strength to pursue relationships with my children rather than authority over them, and a big part of raising children who are kind to the earth and respectful of the planet is to raise them with kindness and respect. There is not one “Jewish” way to parent but I know many holistic Jewish families who make both work together!
CJP: As an actress, neuroscientist, and mother of two – do you ever struggle with finding balance in your life and making time for yourself? What advice do you have for other working mothers who are overwhelmed with responsibilities?
MB: I always struggle with finding balance and making time for myself! Some of the best advice I have gotten from women I see living graceful and dignified lives with attached and serene children is: lower your expectations for yourself. This means not expecting that I can work all day and make a fantastic meal and build a castle of Lego with my kids and have time and energy left to seduce my husband with an elaborate belly dance routine. Know when to order in, eat simply, and take the pressure off. I also think finding small ways you can feel de-stressed is important. I make lists from time to time of small inexpensive things I can do after working and trying to be super mom: a bath, a special dark chocolate treat, studying something challenging and exciting with a friend, or making progress on an artistic project (like a patchwork quilt perhaps!) are my favorites.
CJP: You’ve established yourself as a recurring character on “The Big Bang Theory”. What is your favorite part about working on the set?
MB: I’m actually a full regular now, and I love the flexible schedule because I am home most days by late afternoon to be with my boys, but I also love that it’s a very challenging role and job, since Chuck Lorre loves to change lines and speeches in front of our live audience! It’s a job that keeps me on my toes for sure!
CJP: Describe the perfect day, according to you.
MB: I like waking up before the boys do and getting emails for work stuff out of the way. They get up around 6 a.m. though so it’s an early start! I make pancakes once a week and that’s fun. I like hanging around with the kids and organizing toys, cleaning up, and reading and building Legos. The perfect day might include lunch from my favorite vegan place, Real Food Daily (including their chocolate cupcake!) and a nice 30 minute nap. Ordering in dinner sounds good and maybe watching “Fringe” with the hubby with popcorn would end the day. If I could squeeze in studying with my chevrusa and get in bed by 11 that would be the best!
CJP: What advice do you have for parents struggling to raise children with Jewish values, in an increasingly modern and secular society?
MB: Ha! For thousands of years our resilient people have survived much harder and more challenging times. The Torah and the values within it are the guidebook for all of us, no matter our level of observance or concept of faith. The better educated we are as adults, the more we can draw on to nourish our children. I really believe the supporters of the Tree of Life that is the Torah have the key for happiness. I try and live it to the best of my ability!