As a longtime Jewish educator, Ariel Stein, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, was passionate about sharing her life as a Jewish mother through her blog and Instagram account, Ariel Loves. Then, the pandemic happened, and as it did for so many, it opened Stein’s eyes to how she could reach moms like her looking to practice their faith in fun and exciting ways to engage their children. So Ariel created another page— Jewish Family Magic—where she can combine her extensive educational background, online creativity, and experience as a Jewish mom. Now, with followers from all over the globe, Ariel’s content includes her unique online guidebooks for Jewish holidays, complete with curated crafts, recipes, and recommendations for bringing the spirit of Judaism into peoples’ homes. We caught up with this West Orange mama of two girls to chat about her transition from education to entrepreneurship, how she hopes her daughters see her live out her faith through her business, and her favorite Maplewood spot to snag a unique kid’s gift.
Ariel Stein, our NJ Mompreneur of the week and founder of Jewish Family Magic
Tell us about Jewish Family Magic. What is it all about, and why did you start it?
Jewish Family Magic is an online platform designed to make Judaism fun and accessible for the whole family. We inspire families with easy crafts, activities, recipes, and resources through our active Instagram community and digital holiday guidebooks. I started Jewish Family Magic by accident. In the spring of 2020, I was at home full-time with two toddlers, and though I had been blogging, I found I had to be more creative about what to do during the pandemic. Without in-person gatherings and events, I began sharing on Instagram how my family was celebrating Jewish holidays and observing Jewish traditions at home. My followers were also looking for ways to engage their kids with Judaism in an exciting way. After a few months of sharing on my personal Instagram account, I launched Jewish Family Magic as a dedicated page where people could find all these ideas and resources in one place. For upcoming holidays, I post digital guidebooks to download, and my most recent one, Passover Family Magic, has recipes, tips, reading recommendations, crafts, and even a Passover playlist so families can make the holiday interactive and more kid-friendly.
How did you initially get started blogging? What were you doing before starting this part of your career?
I have always loved Instagram as a place of inspiration. Around the time my older daughter was born, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, looking for Jewish parenting and lifestyle ideas, and I realized that I was hardly following any Jewish mom accounts on social media. I discovered there were very few Jewish moms on social media sharing that kind of content, and it inspired me to start sharing my own Jewish motherhood journey. It began with posts about my daily life with kids, Shabbat, and Jewish holiday celebrations. Now, six years later, there is a vibrant group of Jewish lifestyle bloggers and social media creators. It has been so nice to have this online space to share each other’s homes and family traditions to get inspiration and a sense of community.
My professional background is in Jewish Education. I developed my passion for Jewish education over 15 years of experience teaching in the classroom, informal education at camps and on college campuses, and staffing youth programs. Before blogging and creating content full-time, I taught Jewish Studies to ninth and tenth graders at a Jewish high school in Massachusetts and served as the Director of Israel Programs at Northeastern University Hillel in Boston, MA.
You share everything from fun Jewish holiday ideas to more serious topics like education and activism combatting antisemitism. What do you hear from your customers and followers about the importance of your content?
I did not originally intend to share about antisemitism on my Instagram or blog, and at first, I tried to keep my account positive and lighthearted. But with the rise in antisemitic incidents in recent years, as someone with a public platform, I felt responsible for speaking out about it. The number of hate crimes against Jews has been increasing, and it’s up to each of us to use our voices to educate ourselves and others, promote equality, and fight injustice. I have received an overwhelming amount of supportive messages thanking me for speaking about these topics. I try my best to foster a sense of community and to be a safe space for other parents who are navigating how to raise Jewish children in the world today. I also try to balance my feed between serious and lighter content so it’s not heavy all the time, but I always try to keep Jewish joy at the forefront.
What have you learned about yourself through becoming an NJ Mompreneur?
I have learned that you can be a present parent and pursue professional goals simultaneously. My role as a mother does not need to be at odds with my personal aspirations—they can be in alignment. I have also learned that you don’t have to put a label on what you are. Labels like “working mom” and “stay-at-home mom” may seem helpful to others, but they do not fully represent the stage of life I’m currently in. I remind myself that my work will change and shift as my children get older and that I can do what feels right for me in this season of my life.
Your girls are a big part of what you do in the motherhood content space. What do you hope they learn through watching you run your business?
I use many Jewish values to guide me in life. One of Judaism’s principal beliefs is that all humans are created “B’tzelem Elohim” – in the image of God, and therefore of inherent dignity and value. Now more than ever, I think about what actions I can take to uphold the value of B’tzelem Elohim and be an example and teacher to my daughters as they watch me run my business.
You recently moved back to New Jersey from Brooklyn, so tell us about some of your favorite local NJ businesses and what you love about them.
It has been so nice to be back in my home state of NJ after living in Brooklyn for six years. I love exploring different towns and supporting small businesses. Some of my favorites currently are The General Store Cooperative in Maplewood for an afternoon snack or curated gifts, The Order in South Orange for coffee, lunch, or pastries, and MOD Studio in Maplewood for unique kids’ clothing and toys.
What words of wisdom do you have for other moms who are aspiring NJ Mompreneurs?
Start today – your future self will thank you! If you have been dreaming about launching your own business. It could be as simple as buying the website domain name to use later or creating a new Instagram account. You don’t have to have it all figured out, but you won’t regret taking one small step at a time.