Name: Lauren Muskovitz Ranalli
Profession: Children's book author, Director- Adolescent Health Initiative
How did you come to do what you do? I wear two hats as an author and public health professional (and a mom to two high-spirited children). I have always had an interest in children's literature and hoped to one day publish my own books. I decided to make the leap when I couldn't find Chanukah books that really resonated with my family traditions or cultural experiences. Many of the books I did find featured established characters such as Elmo, Curious George, or Clifford. Other books really focused on the history of Chanukah and the Macabees. My intention with "The Great Latke Cook Off" was to show a typical family enjoying the holidays and each other. I have learned so much about the world of self-publishing and am excited to continue producing books that families of all backgrounds can enjoy.
My career in public health has always focused on meeting the needs of underserved and high-risk populations. As the director of the Adolescent Health Initiative, I work with a fantastic team to provide training and capacity-building assistance to health professionals around the country to better meet the needs of their adolescent and young adult patients.
What is your favorite Jewish holiday or tradition? I think there is something so wonderful and grounding about Shabbat. We don't always celebrate, but when we do, it is a lovely way to pause from weekly distractions and celebrate time together as a family.
What is your favorite food that you associate with Judaism? least favorite? Obviously I have a love affair with latkes! And I'm on "team apple sauce", not sour cream. I also love kugel, matzo ball soup, and I do enjoy gefilte fish. My husband and children do not! My parents grew up eating chopped liver and that is something I have not incorporated into our holiday meals.
What is your earliest memory of being Jewish? I have very early memories of going to my great aunt's house in Detroit to break the Yom Kippur fast. I remember her dining room table being piled with bagels, lox, cucumbers, tomatoes, kugel, and other treats that we couldn't wait to devour.
How do you incorporate Judaism into your daily life? As an interfaith family (I am Jewish and my husband is Catholic), I am often looking for ways to incorporate Jewish traditions into our routine. To me the practice of tzedakah is something that I really want my children to understand. Not just charitable giving, but the connection to kindness and justice.
What are you excited about in the coming months? I'm doing a mini book tour so I am very excited to connect with other Jewish families in Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, and Toronto. Additionally, I have three more children's books in the works and I am excited that "Snow Day at the Zoo" will be released in 2019. I'm also going to become an aunt again and can't wait to meet my new niece or nephew!
You Can find Lauren's book "The Great Latke Cookoff" at www.laurenranalli.com, and if you'd like to meet Lauren check out the EVENTS section on her site.
The book is also available at Nicola's Books and Book Bound in Michigan.