And the $100 Winner Is…The Motherhood Costume!

And the $100 Winner Is…The Motherhood Costume!

Thanks so much to all of you JewishMOMs who sent in submissions for the Costume Contest. In the end, the 1st place, $100 winner is Nachlaot’s own Rebbetzin Leah Hartman!

Leah’s wonderfully original costume is a play on the Hebrew word for motherhood: Imahut (אמהות), which also means: an Island of the Essence (אי מהות).

The essence of what, you ask? Read Leah’s moving explanation of her costume below (warning, JewishMOM, tissue alert!)…

Motherhood=An Island of the Essence (אמהות=אי מהות)  Leah is dressed up as an island with water plants wrapped around her headscarf and a skirt decorated with pictures of fish and the ocean. Way to go, Leah!

Motherhood=An Island of the Essence (אמהות=אי מהות)
Leah is dressed up as an island with water plants wrapped around her headscarf and a skirt decorated with pictures of fish and the ocean. Way to go, Leah!

Leah's back reads  אי מהות. Literally, Island of the Essence

Leah’s back reads
אי מהות.
Literally, Island of the Essence


I’m a mother of 7 beautiful kids ranging from 3 months to 12 years old.

I love them and I love being their ima. It’s incredibly intense, and it is as hard as it is wonderful. I am whole about my decision to remain home now, working only very part-time for over 12 years in order to keep each of them home full-time until they are at least 2, and about the sacrifice that demands of all of us.

And yet… I am, again, working through the tears and the pain of the feeling “What am I doing? What do I have that I can share with the world? Who am I? And also, yes, what am I?”

We spiritual folks tend to eschew the “What do you do?” Yet I am plagued by it. And of course “I’m a stay-at-home-mom” is not an answer that elicits the response, “Wow- that is so interesting. Tell me more.”

I am told all the time by women friends, “You are so amazing! I don’t know how do it!” They tell me that what I am doing is the most important thing in the world. And deep down I know it. It is why I choose to do it.

So why, when that question is asked, or really when I ask it of myself, do I not feel as good about the answer “I’m home full-time with my kids” as I do about the answer “I run a home-based gourmet ice cream company”? Why, when people tell me, referring to my work with my family, “You’re so amazing” do I not take that in as fully as the simple compliment that it is, but have no trouble eating it up (yes, pun intended) when folks tell me, “Wow, your ice cream is so delicious”?

Here I am, writing this at 6:25 in the morning. Isn’t that impressive? And why, I am asking myself, is it not impressive that I nursed my baby throughout the night? That as I write these words, I am holding my baby who was crying. Oh right- it is amazing—’cause I’m writing. But what about when I’m just holding my baby? Why is that in and of itself not amazing to me?

So this Purim I dressed up as an island.

What does that have to do with anything?

essence= מהות

motherhood= אמהות

lack of essence= אי-מהות

אי מהות= an island of essence

I was crying about all this (for the 1000th time perhaps) to my wonderfully patient and loving husband, and he pointed out that the word mahut, essence, is in the word imahut, motherhood. And I began to laugh, and cry, as I told him, “Yeah, i-mahut, lacking essence.” No, he said. “Ee mahut, an island of essence.”

I’m not even sure what this means, yet, but I love it. And this Purim, I tried to find out. I prayed to embody my essence, perhaps as if I was on an island, alone, me and G-d ( …and maybe my family could come to)- with no one to mirror myself to.

Or to know, to really, really know, that my essence isn’t dependent on anything external, only what is deeply inside of me.


  1. Leah…those are holy your Island. Would love to visit sometime if invited..thanks for sharing…..your husband gets brownie points also for all his encouragement…

  2. Beautiful… I love getting inspired by people with way more experience than me:)

  3. You are beautiful Leah.

  4. Great costume. Amazing winner.

  5. loved the costume, and meaning. you should have much nachat always.

  6. I am so moved by this. Thank you so much. I feel encouraged to press on.

  7. So beautiful! thank you thank you thank you for sharing this with us! so encouraging and supportive. LOVE IT!!!!

  8. Thank you for this beautiful and moving jewishmom! I expérience the same doubts as a sahm, every day people ask me when i go back to work since my youngest is allmost two as if they were bothered by my daily home routine… Or they think i am rich enough not to work which is i swear, so untrue!! An eternal question and a beautiful reaction which i will remember as a motto: i mahut!!

  9. Wow Leah this was just amazing!!!! Thank u for speaking from your heart to my heart and the heart of so many mothers out there especially mostly full time stay a home moms…..I can’t begin to express how much your words speak to me?!!! So thank u!!!

    Hope to see u floating on your motherhood island soon 🙂

  10. Very inspirational!! I always put myself down and tell people I stay home because I don’t have a degree so it’s not worth it to work. But really I believe in staying at home with my kids. I just always feel judged in. I keep them home usually until first grade. Why is it looked down upon??

  11. May your motherhood bring you the tranquility you deserve! like a south pacific island of endless sunshine, beautiful skies, and rejuvenating oceans… what an inspirational article and costume!

  12. I’m glad Leah Hartman won the contest. She’s got clarity and strength, and she deserved to win.

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