Jill Zarin of Bravo's "Real Housewives of NYC" and co-author...

Jill Zarin of Bravo's "Real Housewives of NYC" and co-author of "Secrets of a Jewish Mother." Credit: Claudio Marinesco Photo

Jill Zarin can teach you to be a Jewish mother - and she means that in the best possible way. One of the stars of Bravo TV's "The Real Housewives of New York City" - and a Woodmere native - Zarin has collaborated with her mom, Gloria Kamen, and sister, Lisa Wexler, on "Secrets of a Jewish Mother" (Dutton, $25.95). Zarin recently spoke with us about family, friendship and the fun-house mirror of reality TV.

So Bethenny Frankel, the friend you're on the outs with, just got married. Were you invited?

I was not invited. We'd had this rift starting almost a year ago, and it plays back and forth - I was sad.

When you're on a reality show, is it hard to know what events or feelings in your life are real or fake?

I always think it's real, OK? There's a trip that happens in the Bahamas where a lot of drama goes on. I was very hurt, you'll see it. And then when I speak to Ramona, she says, "Jill, it's a TV show." But I say, "Ramona, you really did this." You don't know where that line is, what's real and what's not.

Your new book offers heartwarming, no-nonsense advice on relationships, friendships, marriage, career and family. What's Jewish about it?

It's cultural, it's just a word. I could say "Italian Mother." But being Jewish, we tend to be a little overbearing and opinionated.

The book urges people to own up to their own shortcomings, apologize, forgive, let go of the unnecessary drama. Can you see the disconnect between the book and show?

This is a TV show that wants to make money. If I'm sitting there on the show reading a book, that's not going to make money. Nobody's going to watch it.

Why do you keep doing it?

The exposure! I wouldn't have had a book, a bedding line coming up this summer, certainly Kodak wouldn't be interested in having me as their brand spokesperson. And my charity, Creaky Joints! I get to be a voice for people who don't have a voice.

In the book, you say that a good friend will kvell, or thrill, with you over your nachas, good fortune. What's the nachas in your life right now?

I'm going to Israel for the first time ever with my daughter, and I'm going to do a book signing there. That's my audience! And just that I wrote a book with my mother and sister and I get to spend time with them promoting it.

Does your mom get tired from all the book promoting?

We're gonna be very careful with her. She's got all kinds of medical issues. Do you remember the scene where she couldn't get into the car?

How old is she?

I can't tell you that. You should never ask an older woman her age.

Jill Zarin, Lisa Wexler and Gloria Kamen will discuss "Secrets of a Jewish Mother" tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington; 631-271-1442, bookrevue.com

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