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Johns Hopkins UniversityArts and Sciences Magazine

Getting Real

Life is short. You need to try and make up and forgive people if you can," advises Lisa Wexler '81, whose recent book, Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love(Dutton Adult) hit bookstores this year.

Described as matzoh ball soup for the soul, the book was co-authored with Wexler's mother, Gloria Kamen, and her sister, Jill Zarin, one of the cast members of the Real Housewives of New York City ( Wexler herself has appeared on the reality TV show a few times). Secrets of a Jewish Mother shares personal stories, life lessons, and strong opinions from these mothers and wives on health, education, careers, parenting, and more.

"My mother's incredibly tactless," says Wexler of her mother's advice-giving style. "But this is the book people want, the book people need," she emphasizes. "This is not a preachy book."

The advice is making a big impression on readers, according to Wexler. "It's really beautiful when people write and they tell you, 'You don't need to be Jewish to love the book,'" she says. "We have gotten letters from people who are reconsidering estrangement, changing their lives…. We draw on what we know, but a lot of the book is universal."

Writing is a new passion for Wexler, who has practiced law for 25 years and now is a full-time radio show host in Fairfield County, Conn. Earlier this year, she won a Gracie Award for an interview she did with Gloria Steinem.

Wexler started at Johns Hopkins when she was just 17, after her junior year of high school. "My mother talked them into letting me in early," she says.

"I sat on the bed—my mother was always sitting on the bed—and she called Jerry Schnydman, who was then in admissions, and she said, 'I am telling you that if you don't interview my daughter you are missing out.'"

At Hopkins, she says, she met some of the most important people in her life: her husband, William Wexler '81; her best friend, Sandy White Braem '81; and her greatest mentor, Dr. J. Woodford Howard. "He was known as the toughest professor on campus," she remembers, "but I credit him with everything I know about constitutional law.
I adored him."