Dear Liberal American Jew,

I realize most of you are still crying over the fact that Trump has won and you even have some legitimate worries about in health, arts, and other issues. But what I don’t understand is how you don’t care about Israel, your country.  Obama was the worst president for Israel since the Israel was established. (And Hillary or even worse Burnie Sanders would have continued along the same path – she was secretary of state – and was horrible not only to Israel but even to America’s own ambassador)

Even if you didn’t notice how he bow down to the Arabs (literally in Egpyt right after he was elected) and figuratively as the rest of his career showed) changing the American dynamics for the first time since Israel became a country. How didn’t you notice how Obama mistreated Netanyahu? Somehow you didn’t pay attention when Obama equated the building of houses equal to suicide killing. Or you couldn’t understand that the plan to put Israel back to the 1967 borders before any discussion began was not the way to negotiate. Then at least you might have noticed the vote in the UN counsel AGAINST ISRAEL right before his term ended and the giving of money to the tune of millions on Obama’s last day as president! His actions should have clued you in how bad Obama was for Israel. That means he was against the Jews – you can’t separate the two.

And Trump in just a few months is making the UN recognize how skewed their voting patterns have been.  Finally, legislation calling Israel apartheid was rejected.  That is huge!!  That America’s secretary of state and ambassador to Israel do not want to consider only a two-state situation but actually might consider a real peace; is huge!  (Even if you think the two-state compromise is the answer – you don’t come to the bargaining table with that already set – it leaves not flexibility.)

If you think vetting immigrants is wrong – why?  Should the country allow terrorists in with no compunction? But how do we know these refugees are terrorist or rapiers – we don’t that is why you need to vet them.  Get it.  It is simple- yet the political correctness has filled liberal minds, so they act against themselves.  Letting in Muslim terrorist is in no way the same as letting in Jews during the Holocaust – (which for the record America didn’t!). Jews were never a threat. They were not known to rape and kill people.  And sorry to inform you if you hadn’t notice almost all terrorists today are Muslim. You want to say there are Muslims who don’t support terrorism – of course, you are right – that is why vetting is so important.  Ask the non- radical Muslim population – they don’t want those people in either.

And liberals knock down Fox News as insignificant and bias.  Excuse me!  What is CNN? What is the New York Times? What is the Washington Post?  Not bias? Give me a break!  If there is a way they can find fault with Israel or Trump (or times no fault is needed), they will blame Israel and Trump for everything. How many articles start with ‘Palestinian killed’ and he was the terrorist!  If you support these media – you are buying into a big lie. They would like nothing better than to support BDS and all the other anti-Israel groups – you as a Jew stand with that? Buy into that?  How can you hate your own people?  Not that it would be unprecedented. There have always been Jews that turn against the Jewish people; history does not look kindly on them.

Don’t you remember the words of Hillel? “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14 Yes, liberal Jews very nobly remember the 2nd line well – if I am only for myself.  But you must first do the beginning line, ‘if I am not for myself – WHO WILL BE FOR ME?’.  And that is where Political correctness and liberal Jews are so wrong.

You must make Israel a priority.  Number 1 priority. Or you will become the Jew in Germany who thought Berlin was there ‘New’ Jerusalem and the Germans were too civilized to hurt a Jew.  We only have one Jerusalem. We are the ones who need to protect Israel. Unlike ever before, we now have a place to call home for when the Nazis, Inquisitionists, the Polish, the Czar, the Romans, Greeks, or whoever the new enemy that will come like all the other nations who have tried to annihilate us.  And don’t think somehow the world is new, better and less anti-Semitic –have you read the news (well beyond the liberal media who could care less about a Jew’s life.)?

Are those other issues not important? Of course, they are important.  And the budget needs to be approved by the Senate and the House which will take much time and you definitely can let your senator’s know how you feel.  But you must put our Jewish life first, as priority one, because honestly if Israel doesn’t have America’s support – who will be to blame? You!!

And although Trump is rough and unskilled as a speaker and leader, he has been already the best friend Israel has had  – certainly in a decade!  And for that alone liberal Jews should stop running him down. Have karas hatov – gratitude.  The more you thank him – the more he may understand your agendas. That is the way of people. And you know why that method might work because Trump isn’t a polished politician; he is more a real person than any president before. Take advantage.

Landing on a Different Planet

By Rachel Frid  (Reprinted from the Jewish Press)

They tell you to pack your bags, but you are not sure what to take along. A Tehillim and a package of tissues are a good place to start. Important medical papers are a must and a compact toothbrush may come in handy.

And then there’s the shopping list, a little unusual. Never mind the weight, you’re traveling to a different planet now.

When a loved one becomes ill, it’s like landing on a new planet, one so different from the one you lived on before.

When we first received the diagnosis, it didn’t really register. ALS is hard to describe and doctors hesitate to paint the whole picture as the disease progresses differently in each patient. We immediately registered at the Neurological Clinic in Hadassah Medical Center where a special unit for ALS had been created. The staff, headed by Dr. Marc Gotkine, were patient and caring.

Attached to this unit was Anat, a wonderful social worker from ISRALS, the Israeli organization dedicated to helping ALS patients and their families. At each session, she gently prepared us for the future, giving us clear guidelines on how to proceed. Its motto is “hope is stronger than fear.”

Still, there was no way to be completely ready and the unexpected became the norm. Daily functions, which we had always taken for granted, now became a challenge. I say we, but I was the bystander, painfully watching as my husband bravely struggled to remain independent. Never complaining, he accepted his lot even though he had done much more research than I had, and knew what was coming. I never heard him question why this happened and when people came to visit, he always had a smile. And thus he remains, until this very day.

R’ Dovid’s greatest love in life was learning and teaching Torah. Throughout this period, almost up until the time when he had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy, he taught in our home – practical Jewish law and insights on the weekly Torah reading to women and the laws of kashrut to a group of young men who were preparing for the Rabbinate. It hurt when he had to stop.

About three years ago, R’ Dovid’s struggle with ALS took a turn for the worse. Almost without warning, his breathing capacity decreased to the point where he needed an emergency tracheotomy. After a month’s stay in Hadassah, we came home to a new reality. Almost completely paralyzed and permanently connected to both breathing and oxygen machines,

R’ Dovid needed 24-hour surveillance and help in all areas of daily functioning.

In the beginning, we continued with one caregiver while my older children and I took the night shift. However, staying awake all night and then going straight to work or school in the morning proved to be debilitating. On the verge of collapse, we hired additional help, not covered by government insurance. In fact, insurance covers less than half of the cost. When we found ourselves sinking into debt, we had no choice but to set up a fundraising campaign. These funds, donated by caring people from around the world, enable us to provide our beloved husband and father with the best of care at home, surrounded by his loving family.

But, sorry, I am drifting. I started off describing life on a new planet. Oh, yes, the shopping list. Not exactly like the one for the supermarket or the one you give your relative who is coming from the United States. This one included a ramp from the street to our apartment, the latest features of electric wheelchairs, nursing tables, oxygen machines, hi-low office chairs, the Yad Sarah catalog alongside websites of technicians who could design all kinds of gadgets, anything to give R’ Dovid more quality of life… and some happiness.

The “to do” and “to learn” lists were just as long. I had to learn the “ins and outs” of a myriad government agencies, the Ministry of Health, the National Insurance Institute, the Immigration Office, etc. I had to learn how to administer medicines, operate machines and give injections and, believe me, the one thing I never wanted to be was a nurse.

Do I sound like a superwoman? Well, I wasn’t and still am not. I do, however, possess a secret weapon sent straight to me from Heaven, because G-d never leaves you alone. The weapon is called people or, in other words, family, friends and even complete strangers. Without them, I would have sunk a long time ago.

My children and children-in-law, led by the sterling example of our oldest, stood solidly by our side from the outset, changing work schedules, leaving their own families for days and nights, dealing with bureaucracy and doing anything else that was required. Our extended families as well have helped in so many ways, even from across the ocean. One distinguished and very busy rosh yeshiva never misses a Friday visit to bring joy to R’ Dovid, even when he has just stepped off the plane. Old friends from all over the world came to our rescue, giving of their time and money just when it seemed that we would have to give up.

The wonderful community we live in comes forth with endless offers of assistance. Accepting help is not easy and very humbling. My neighbors, however, insist that I was doing them a favor – at times they almost convince me!

My close friend brought me rice and potatoes from my neighbors “up the hill” for over a year. When things were a little calmer, I felt it was time to stop. A month or so afterwards, she met me in the store. “Do you know,” she said, “the week I stopped bringing you food, our 20-year-old car finally died. We really need a new car, so can you please let me start bringing you rice and potatoes again?”

As my son’s bar mitzvah approached, I did not know how I was going to handle it. It turned out that I really did not have to. The entire bar mitzvah was designed and executed by loving friends. “No problem, it was so much fun,” they said. (They stayed up half the night to set up the buffet and got up at six in the morning to lay out the Kiddush, done gorgeously in silver and blue.)

And, of course, there is our beloved Bikur Cholim head, who has an antenna hidden somewhere in my house through which she is able to pick up exactly what I need. She never takes no for an answer. One day, I am going to write a cookbook dedicated to her and all the other wonderful women who insist that “my family loves this dish and they are so happy that I am making it for you and them as well.”

Forgive me for not being able to mention everyone. Not only your acts of kindness, but your kind words as well are stored forever in my heart.

And then there are the strangers – and here is where I discovered something that just floored me: most people are intrinsically good! It is just not possible that I just happened to meet all of the nice people in the world, because almost everyone I met was nice.

The workers at the National Insurance Institute guided and encouraged me every step of the way. Taxi drivers took my number to find out helpful information and actually called me back! Total strangers from all over the world opened their hearts and pocketbooks. An untold number of top doctors and professionals did and still do not mind when I pester them, even during their vacations. We have also been blessed with dedicated caregivers, who, even though they are far away from their homes and families, always show patience and truly care.

I will never forget the words of the young Arab nurse who was assigned to our case when R’ Dovid had to be hospitalized. It seemed to me that she had just finished nursing school and this was her first time on the ward. She made some error and I must admit that I was not very nice about it. Later, I apologized, explaining that I was dealing day and night with a life-threatening situation and was a bit stressed out. She could have reacted coldly, but instead she said words that warmed my heart, “I admire your dedication. I believe it is your religious beliefs and your faith in G-d that give you the strength to deal with this.” Those words actually gave me the strength to go on. I wish I had written down her exact words; she said it so beautifully.

In the hospital, there are no politics, no disputes over land, no ideological differences, just good people who want to help. It gives you something to think about. If all the wicked and selfish people would just leave us alone, we could live in peace.

And oh! About that planet. Well, I have to tell you a secret. The truth is it’s not really a different planet at all, it’s our very own. Not the side that the newspapers write about, but the other side, the beautiful one full of beautiful people. And it has been my pleasure to write about the place that I have come to know and love: Planet Earth.

One lesson I have learned over the past few years is the power of kindness. Kindness is a mindset. You don’t have to be rich or powerful, you just have to train yourself to think about others. Sometimes a small deed, one kind word or a smile can save a person. We have included this idea in our web spot.

 

Please pray for the speedy recovery of Dovid Yehoshua ben Leba Malka and all ALS patients.

____________________________________________________________________

If you would like to help the Frid family to continue providing their beloved husband and father with the care he needs, please visit http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/father-of-8-with-als/241499.

 

The Real Miracle of Purim

Confession: I check my Facebook wall on a regular basis.  I’m amazed by the workings of Facebook, totally fixed in algorithm formulas attentively watching my likes and shares and probably even the amount of time I may look at a post. Facebook has figured out what I want to see. (The Big brother predicted so many years ago.)I tend to like to view the political right and Jewish/Israeli posts. So when I opened it today, I was a bit surprised to see what and who Facebook thought I would agree with. No, it was not radical left or anti-Israel statements. It was the Right-leaning political views.  The extreme right.

Whoa!  I certainly don’t want anyone to think I have somehow a connection to these groups that support total freedom of gun purchasing (without vetting), anti- Muslim to the degree they don’t believe in their right to exist, and many other hate stances.   The next time on Facebook they fixed up their mistake.

The left extreme is also anti-Israel (pro-BDS), pro-Palestinian, anti-Trump to the point of thinking of impeaching him (as if that was at all possible) and pro-Obama in spite of his betraying Israel.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, the middle left is not so far from these extreme left stances that maybe I beginning to wonder if I even know what the extreme left is.

The reality is the world is very polarized.  And the Jews are the most polarized since we sit on both sides of the spectrum. Many of us sit on the extreme left maybe a bit less of us (me included) are much closer to the right stance; tradition in Jewish history.

That is what made Purim such a miracle. The Jews were invited to the party of the century given a personal invitation from the King, of Persia and 127 provinces, King Ahasuerus.  The party wasn’t just an evening affair but went on and on for 180 days.  The King promised his constituents that the food would be kosher to their liking (probably brought in magshim from the Shushan neighborhood) and a Jewish steward to pour them their own kosher wine with dishes they would feel comfortable to eat – (stolen from our first Temple).

The debate among the Jews was pronounced.  Should they go or not?  Was it a political liability not to at least show their faces?  A great uproar was heard and only Rav Mordechai from the tribe of Binyamin was adamantly against it.  Why?  Because the party was basically celebrating the falsity of the 70-year prophecy of the return of the 2nd Temple (which Ahasuerus had counted wrong). The others saw that it would cause too much aggravation and insult to the king; best to be avoided.

Mordechai made it even worse and won’t bow down to the 2nd man in charge, Haman.  More material for those who hate(d) us to chew on.

And those who were against antagonizing these anti-Semites were proven correct.  Haman decided to kill all the Jews and has no problem selling to the King, who is quite happy to make any deal with Haman.  He accepts the money for the destruction of the Jews and gives the evil Jew-hater the signet of the ring as proof of his approval.

Yet, that very act is what turns all the Jews around and accept Rav Mordechai as their leader and accept his logic.  And the miracle is that.  Mordechai was accepted by all the Jews, an unheard of event since the times of Moshe.  And like Moshe, Mordechai was able to turn the tables around.

Not by lifting his arms (like Moses) or advising Queen Ester how to approach the King, but by the prayers, fasting, and teshuva of the people. He even tells her “Who knows if you have not been put in the palace for this very purpose? If you are silent now, help will come to the Jews from some other place — and you will perish!” And this is why the Megillah goes out of its way of calling Mordechai ‘ish Yehudi’ the ‘man of the Yehudim, the Jews.  He was not from the tribe of Yehudah.  It is the first time all the Jews are categorized as one group (and not each from its own tribe) and the man from Binyamin (like King Shaul) became the Jewish leader – the ish Yehudi!

It is not the actual act of Esther that saved the Jewish people, but her accepting Mordechai’s as her Rav and acting selflessly.

Yet the Megillah is named after Esther and not Mordechai (though he does get a lot of praise with a slight condemnation on his too much involvement with the Klal and not learning enough).  It was Esther who saved the Jewish people.  And it was a miracle that the Jewish people accepted Mordechai and repented for their improper behavior of going to the party many years ago.

When Jews can be united in accepting Torah and our sages – our salvation will be in hand.

A Purim Memory

“What is your best Purim memory?” I asked my husband, as we were planning our Purim evening.

“I remember one special Purim shpeil in the yeshiva, which was done in the evening. One year the Rosh Yeshiva decided to be part of the action.  It was only after the main events. After the ‘two-tied’ emcee (he had on 2 ties) made all his jokes and sounding like a commercial introduced the events that came; a debate on the official understanding “cursed Mordechai and blessed Haman” with ½ of the guys drunk and the other ½ snoring,  followed by a buchur beauty pageant.

As the last buchur showed his ankles as they strutted across the stage, I remember, suddenly the lights went out. It got really dark.  A candle was lit on the stage, and a sound of wind was heard. A person stepped into the moving shadows of the candle wearing a cape, a pointed beard and a witch’s hat. No one spoke.  And then there was a laugh. I remember thinking it must be the Rosh Yeshiva with his great boisterous laugh he is known for, but there was a tinge of madness in it. It was not clear, not to me anyway.

A smoke rose from what seemed to be a large black pot evoking Macbeth’s witches boiling brew. In an eerie voice the figure proclaimed the beginning of a séance like in the time of Shaul HaMelech of old. Although there was a titter of laughter, the crowd was serious due to the total inconsistency of events.

“Look it is President Kennedy coming to us upside down.  (I told you it was a long time ago.) “Conspiracies, conspiracies, tell us President, who really killed you? He doesn’t want to answer.  But wait he has something to say.”  A hush. “He has come to tell us; just like he appears to us upside down, that is how the next world is.  What seems bad for us here, in the World to Come we will see it only for our good.”

And then the ‘witch’ stepped into a light that was beamed down onto the stage; “and may that be a lesson to you.”

Then the lights went on again.  And the Rosh Yeshiva seemed to become normal again, though still in his witch costume and a bottle of wine in his hand. “And now, I have a deep question to ask, “If two witches watched two watches, which witch would watch which watch? The answer is; for those still in the unknown, ‘the Witches would watch the watch that the witches were washing’.

And he went on with his jokes and tongue twisters; I guess that was why we had a 2-tied MC to whet our appetite. He ended like he usually ends his shiurm, bringing all the twisty paths together in one summation: “And why is that I hear you cry out all this talk about witches.  How was our good Queen Esther described? ‘She had a scaly, green complexion, like a witch who can turn a situation around with a blink of an eye and cup of a good drink?  Lachaim!, and Purim Somaych one and all.

The crowd exploded and rushed up to give the Rosh yeshiva their own blessings.  But he wasn’t finished yet.  The best was still to come.  As each buchur came up, some he gave an extra blessing that they should become a chassan that year.

Do you know, some of us kept track of who he blessed, and that year we did celebrate many chassanahs. Were there more than usual? I don’t know.  But it was those guys he gave the extra blessing to who got married.

Now the Rosh was not known for his drinking. In fact, it was known that he didn’t touch alcohol throughout most of the year beyond Kiddush and his 4 cups of wine on Pesach. So that is why Purim became the time of the year, we buchrim and averchim would seek him out. Even today he only gives out blessings on Purim.”

Why do people become Orthodox?

Why would someone take on restrictions, that effect everything they eat and their daily schedule in life? The answers you have gotten are good and actually are from mostly those who have chosen not to make that path (or have left it.)

I can give the point of view of having don’t exactly like that. But first, the following is a chart created by the Pew report projecting the future:

The chart shows that in spite of Reform and Conservative Jews as the largest groups, we can see by the chart their future is not promising. The more they bend the rules, distance themselves from any dogma, decrees or discipline; the fewer people feel a need to be part of them. If you are not promising any future or making any demands, and essentially have no belief that is different from any other group – why should anyone bother calling themselves a Jew?

Yet, if one is coming from the background where nothing is expected of them, it is a tremendous leap to suddenly ‘inflict’ oneself with rules. Though do we look at athletes, artists, or anyone in a demanding profession that they are acting a bit psychotic because they are making their lives so difficult just to be an Olympic runner, a top dancer, a scientist or doctor? If someone wants something that is meaningful it usually means there is discipline, sacrifices, and rules to follow.

Judaism is no different. If you want to benefit from the beautiful family life of having children that follow your beliefs and live their lives in admiration and wish to continue a 3000-year tradition, one actually has to live that life and recognize all its beauty even in the difficulties.

Believe me keeping kosher and keeping Shabbos very soon is not a burden, but a pleasure. (Besides, there are so many other things to keep learning and accepting.) When you start to see the beauty in the system and the amazing world G-d gave us especially in his rules and demands; it is not difficult, only opportunities.

I think if you would ask a dancer, a doctor, a football player; how could you give up so many hours a day to practice either the sport, the profession? how could they have given up the years that they needed to invest to get where they are? Do you think they would say it was not worth it? Even more so; to live a life that is commanded by G-d and see one’s children and grandchildren live by the same beauty – it is what we call – naches – true pleasure.

Victim of Mental Illness

Leaning to the Write

I heard a police officer knocking on the door upstairs, with his radio buzzing noise and directions 7:30 in the morning. Although I knew I looked like the typical nosey neighbor, I stepped outside my door into the hallway and asked him if I could help.

“Do you know where anyone who lives here is?  When was the last time did you speak with them?”

“Mrs. Gold? Sarah?  She works from home.  I saw her last night. What’s going on?”

“Do you know where the girl is?”

Shaking my head no, I tried to figure who he needed to speak with.  “I have Sara’s phone number.  Do you want me to call?”

“Yes.”

But there wasn’t any answer. “I have her husband’s phone number” and told it to him.  He dialed and got Baruch.  I asked him to let me speak to him.

“Baruch, there are now two policemen outside…

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Victim of Mental Illness

I heard a police officer knocking on the door upstairs, with his radio buzzing noise and directions 7:30 in the morning. Although I knew I looked like the typical nosey neighbor, I stepped outside my door into the hallway and asked him if I could help.

“Do you know where anyone who lives here is?  When was the last time did you speak with them?”

“Mrs. Gold? Sarah?  She works from home.  I saw her last night. What’s going on?”

“Do you know where the girl is?”

Shaking my head no, I tried to figure who he needed to speak with.  “I have Sara’s phone number.  Do you want me to call?”

“Yes.”

But there wasn’t any answer. “I have her husband’s phone number” and told it to him.  He dialed and got Baruch.  I asked him to let me speak to him.

“Baruch, there are now two policemen outside your door looking for Sara and Shirel. I have the key. Do you want me to open the door for them?”

“Yes.”

Having already gotten the keys when I was looking for my phone, I tried to open the lock, but I couldn’t turn the key. Now I felt panic.  “Maybe the key is pushed in on the other side.”

The police officer just pushed at the handle, and the door was opened. I felt relief. Too soon.

I went straight back to Sara’s room calling her. The policemen, I think, stayed in the living room unbeknownst to them standing in front of Shirel’s door.  They reminded me to “Ask her ‘where is the girl’.”

“Sara. Do you know why there would be police looking for you and Shirel?”

“No…” It was a cry, not an answer.

Running into the living room she was greeted by the police (the numbers seemed to be growing.) “Can you open the door?” they asked her.

She did.  I was closer to the kitchen and couldn’t see anything.  But I could hear. Sara didn’t even go in. She just screamed.  I grabbed her as she fell to the floor.

Shirel suffered from border personality, panic attacks, and diabetes besides who knows what else.  Shirel died from mental illness. Shirel suffered from mental anguish, physical pain imagined or otherwise.  The slightest thing would set her off in panic. This wasn’t the first time or second. But worst, it was always on her mind.  She told her mother not so long ago, it isn’t a question of ‘if’ just ‘when’.

Sara sought out all sorts of help. Psychiatry, therapies, she went to ‘healers’, Rebbium, Rebbetzins, doctors.  She read and read whatever she could to understand and to try to find help for Shirel. And out of love for her mother, Shirel went along with some of the ideas, even though she had given up long ago.

Shirel was twenty-eight years old.  When they were younger, she was my daughter’s best friend.  They not only shared the same building, friends, the same schooling until high school, they even shared the same birthday. But more important they shared many deep discussions, secrets, and stories. Shirel lived in my house as much as she lived in her own. I was proud to say she learned to speak comfortably in English because of me. Yet they were not similar at all.

Opposites, in fact. I remember making them a shared birthday cake in the shape of two girls; one with dark hair and one with blond facing each other.  Besides their hair coloring, one was rooted to the ground and one was flying in the air. I think it was part of their attraction to each other. They both were ‘out of the box’ and interested in learning the why’s of everything.  The direction they chose to incorporate their answers, though, was the opposite, like always.

My children’s childhoods are only with Shirel.  She is in almost all of my family pictures.  My mother would not dream of coming to Israel without a gift also for Shirel.  She was part of our family. Until high school.

That was when Shevi and Shirel had less time to spend together since they weren’t in the same school anymore and the relationship suffered. For Shirel that was the time life started to get difficult.

We all have our ideas and explanations, including me, what went wrong. I believe Shirel was born without the capability to filter out what wasn’t necessary to be absorbed. She felt everything.  That was why she was such a good friend to so many people.  She was loved.  She knew how to listen and empathize because she actually felt everything. Any issue that came up to Shirel, was personal, painfully personal, whether it had anything to do with her or not.

She started suffering from major anxiety.  When an earthquake was felt in the Jerusalem area, buildings swayed, but there wasn’t any damage. Shirel had a panic attack and needed medical care. She was one of three in all of Israel who did. She had pain; mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally.  Everything was powerful and she was so delicate. She felt great uncomfortableness in this world.

Shirel was extremely bright (and beautiful) and wanted to go far in her studies. But so many things got in the way.  When she started college, she got hit with diabetes; which caused pain and needed for her to be more concerned for her medical care. She wanted to be a doctor but realized it wasn’t going to happen. Then as if fighting all her earlier demons she was offered the chance to speak to women in labor about donating their baby’s umbilical cord for research with tremendous success.

Proud of her academic ability, she started looking at everything to be redefined and valued. She decided that she was intellectually unhappy with the system that Hashem created in the world and chose to throw it all out.  If Hashem can command the killing of innocent people (like the Amalekites) then she rather not be affiliated with Him. When asked to do any research, speak to knowledgeable people on the subject; her mind was made up. She was not interested.

She once told my daughter, “It is much harder to be secular.  I can’t blame Hashem and pray to Him for help. All my problems, they are always my fault.”

Her illness grew bolder, stronger over the last few years and took away her interest in building herself, relationships (though she always had friends), and life itself.  For the last three years, Shirel was in and out of hospitals, restricted from leaving since she was a danger to herself. She tried different treatments, medication, therapies’, doctors. Sara, her mother, researched and spoke to professionals, as well as sought out spiritual directions.  Sara seriously looked for help, answers and a cure to no avail. But thank G-d she can say she tried. The whole family tried.

Shirel lived with her brother and sister-in-law for a year or two. Her younger brother and his new wife would invite her for Shabbos and make her feel very comfortable. Her sisters in America (one who suffers terribly from chronic Lyme’s disease) would speak with her at length and heard her.  Even her Aunt sent money to Shirel to join a program she was interested in taking in the States. Shirel was supported by her family, fully.

Shirel went along with many of the attempts only out of her love for her mother.  But Shirel was tired and saw no hope. Her illness was bigger than she was. Even her friends knew.  That early morning after one of her closest friend had had a-middle-of-the-night-phone-call with Shirel, she tried calling Shirel back and didn’t get any answer.  After not being able to reach the house either, she called the police.  She knew.

January 30, 2017, 3 Shevat , 5757 Tichiah Shirel Shimona, age 28 took her life in her bedroom of her parent’s house. No, that’s not right. Her sickness took her life and she was a victim of mental illness.

HaMakom yenachem et’chem b’toch shar avay’lay Tzion vee’Yerushalayim.

May the Omnipresent comfort Shirel’s family among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

High Heels

The day finally happened.  My almost seventeen-year-old daughter bought her first pair of high heels.  Both my husband and I tried to discourage her, but I knew it would be eventually a losing battle.

I actually never had real high heels, maybe all of a half inch high, I think I was afraid any taller and I could fall. It can’t be denied there is this feeling once you put on those heels that suddenly a girl feels prettier, taller, more feminine, feel a shift to the way they walk. I would love wearing heels to parties, events and I was sure it made me look like an enchanted woman.

Once I was married and living on the third floor, I realized that I became person-non-grata as my heels would click right through the neighbors ceiling.  It wouldn’t last long, though, I’m too much into ‘comfort over beauty’, and my clip-on earrings and high heals both come off in an hour’s time. But I knew my daughter is not like me, definitely, a believer of ‘it hurts to be beautiful’ type and she is a bit short, even more reason to want the extra height.  We try to tell her the damage she would be doing to her back, her knees, besides her feet, but she didn’t want to hear. She did lean to our desires just a bit; the heels are not the pencil type but built on a bit of platform so the height is evenly spread.

She is beautiful. But what makes her beauty shine? Is it her hair set just right with the few strands left to fall over her face? Is it her nice figure, which she dresses to suggest but not to show?  Is it her makeup that she uses sparingly, but brings out her smile and bright hazel eyes? Or is it the high heels, which now give her a little more height and a swaddle?

Now, I know I am her mother, but let me tell you, which you probably realized already, she is beautiful because she sparkles when she is excited, she smiles when she looks at her friends and loved ones, she laughs when she enjoys life.  She is a beautiful person inside. She doesn’t need the heels.

But women are like that; we use fashion, makeup, jewelry, fancy hairdos and high heels to feel good about ourselves so we can actually show our inner beauty. I hope she will realize sooner than later, that her inner beauty will always be greater in value than anything she will adorn or wear. Even her new high heels.

 

 

 

Love or Hate – the New President

A right winger Israeli’s point of view

I don’t think two presidents have elicited more hate or love then Trump and Obama.  No one has stayed neutral. And probably no two presidents have more difference in approach, background or candor.

Obama a slick, smooth, funny, personal, intellectual who fulfilled the iconic dream of a black president stabbed us (Jews who love Israel – which honestly should be every Jew )  repeatedly on the back from the moment he got in office eight years ago – when he passed Israel on a Middle East tour and only welcomed and encouraged friendship with Arab countries to his last disastrous act of abstaining in the UN vote against Israel.  He tried to befriend countries that have no civil rights for anyone who is not the ‘right’ type of Muslim,  to any women or know the meaning of democracy. But he made it clear, on the other hand, that he was against Israel. He has been a horrible president for Jews. And to see liberal Jews cry, protest (on Shabbos, mind you) who can’t stand to hear the name of our new President is seeing the splitting of an already tiny people.

Believe me, I get it. I understand why people are angry.  For the last eight years that is exactly how we have been feeling.  To give honor and admiration to a man whose whole agenda was to destroy Israel reminds me of the party that Ahasuerus had for the Jews in the story of Purim. Everyone was invited; the king even provided kosher food, kosher wine and special seats for his Jewish constituents – but what was the purpose of the party? To celebrate the destruction (and what he thought was the non-fulfilment of the prophecy of the return) of the Temple. And the Jews were punished for going to the party with complete destruction until they repented.

In Obama’s administration he gave generously to Israel, but partly to compensate the deal he settled with Iran (modern Persia – where the story of Purim took place) (which ultimately gives Israel’s enemy the power to destroy her in 10 years). He went out of his way to antagonize Israel not only the home for any Jew but the only Democracy in the world.  He declared the settlements the evil of the world.  Terrorism can’t hold a knife-point to the wickedness of building Jewish homes.  (Didn’t Bilam say something similar?)

So, of course, we right-wingers are thrilled to have Trump.  Okay, Trump is not such a smooth talker, you know he is the sort that actually says what he means whether anyone wants to hear it or not. He is rough, loudmouth, wary of Muslim refugees or really any refugees. He is a womanizer (but so has almost all other presidents from FDR to Kennedy and especially Clinton). But Trump is a breath of fresh air.  I don’t mean to say I think one shouldn’t guard his speech and speak of other people in such a derogatory way to Muslims, Women, Handicap people, soldiers and everyone else Trump has insulted. But seriously did you notice the pattern – he insults everyone at times.  He doesn’t actually hate anyone particularly.  He acts a bit childish screaming off insults when he feels disrespected.  But he recognizes good advice and has picked a large range of people to guide him.  (They don’t seem to be – so far- parrots like Obama’s advisors – the worst being Clinton.)  He definitely needs to be smoothed down, carefully guided and taught to have a thicker skin.  But Clinton and Obama who talk the right talk, inside are evil, corrupt and Jew-haters and thus much more dangerous.

Trump doesn’t value the entertainment community at all and certainly wouldn’t give them the importance that Obama did. This alone should strikingly speak the whole difference between the two men.  Actors, actresses, singers, rock stars, (seriously, Madonna’s point of view should not be important to anyone) can not be the American spokespeople.  They are only entertainers.  Obama who speaks only superficially; feels close to them. He talks the right talk and thus loves Hollywood. Trump, instead, chose simple people to sing at his inauguration in a national choir.  Enough with the dazzle, onto the love of people.

The left dominant media is still and will continually point out all of Trump’s embarrassing statements – and never point out any good.  But that is a democracy.  And because it is a democracy I hope those who enjoyed Obama for eight years trying to destroy the only democracy in a world of terrorists, will allow right-wingers the right to mention his name without being attacked with venom. Because although Trump does not have the right background, mannerism, and diplomatic way of speaking is proof he is not a politician – just a regular man who loves his country. And knows who his friends are; like Israel.

It isn’t a Women’s Story

I can’t tell you if this story is true or not since I read it in a newspaper. Yet it is a story with many angles, adversity, and arguments.  I’m going to tell you first the story as I read it. And then I will tell you the woman’s moral of the story. What do I mean?  You’ll understand, soon.

Shimon, while driving his car leaving Bnei Brak to Jerusalem, (over an hour’s drive) passed the Coca Cola bus stop as he was leaving the city.  Noticing an older frum yid waiting there, he offered the gentleman a ride after they both established they had a similar destination, every Jew’s destination; Jerusalem.

As they traveled up the hill to Jerusalem, the elderly man asked Shimon if he wouldn’t mind would Shimon drop him off at his real point of destination in Kiryat Moshe which is the first neighborhood as they would enter Jerusalem on their right.  Shimon basically said though kindly, yes he would mind, but offered to let him off right next to the bus stop that was going into the neighborhood. He even went as far to explain that he had a lot of errands to run and really didn’t have time to drive his passenger, which he had just done the incredible hesed of driving him free between the two cities closer to the true point of this man’s desire.

At this point of the story, the whole situation becomes difficult. The older man speaking as an elderly statesman explains to Shimon if he wanted to do the mitzvah the proper way, it was really required on Shimon’s part to fully complete the job by taking him all the way to his final destination, especially since it wasn’t really that far. Otherwise, it would have been better not to have taken him at all in the first place. The elderly ‘statesman’ went on with his mussur, “what a shame it is that you are losing such an opportunity.”

Shimon was shocked and quite taken aback by the man’s ingratitude.  ‘That’s it, I’ll show him’, he thought to himself. Silently, he entered Jerusalem and before the older man could get off, Shimon turned the car around at Lifta’s exit and headed right back to Bnei Brak. Letting the older gentleman off, while both men fuming,  at the coca cola factory in Bnei Brak just where the story had started and then Shimon returned to Jerusalem.

The story, of course, didn’t end there.

Now, Shimon was very busy with many errands to run, so due to the lost two hours of his day, his time went much faster than he had allocated. And it wasn’t just a regular day, that evening his son was hoping to get engaged to a young lady whose parents lived in a Jerusalem neighborhood.  Knowing in advance of the possibility of the happy occasion might concur, Shimon had planned the day to be in Jerusalem so he could be there for the very momentous evening. As I’m sure you could guess, as he entered the kallah’s house who should he see? The elderly man was sitting at the table since he was the grandfather of the kallah.

Needless to say, both parties called off the shidduch.

Now seriously who was right? Who was wrong?  In the newspaper, the story was used to explain good compromising techniques for businesses and their workers and emphasized all the people in this story who got hurt.  Count them, two, four, eight? It adds up.

The problem with this story is that it is a man’s story. Why?

There is no way this could have ever happened between the mother of the chatan and the grandmother of the kallah.  Why? Are women more poised? More compromising? More flexible?  No.  (Well maybe, but that isn’t the point.) How do I know? Can you imagine the scene? Two women are driving from Bnei Brak to Jerusalem, a whole hour and a half and they wouldn’t have discovered they were about to become related?  Not possible! Women are communicators and love to share stories, especially such exciting news.

The idea two men would have sat in the car for over two hours together and never learned this basic information – is how we know that 9/10’s of speech was given to women.

The Nightmare that Changed my Life

I was maybe sixteen when I first had the dream.  I envisioned myself as a forty-year-old, housewife, with a few children who I spent an excessive amount of time car-pooling and planning my day around them. It really was a nightmare.  I don’t know why it scared me so, but in the end of the dream, I was contemplating suicide. It was the car pooling that seemed scarier than the suicide.

The nightmare was recurrent.  Besides of course being a bit scary, I knew there was a message  I was supposed to get. But what?

I realized that it wasn’t very far from my mother’s reality, and she seemed to be very happy with her life revolving around her four children.  So, why did this bother me so much?

I carried the memory of the, let’s call it vision, for years. As I contemplated college and what to study, I thought what is it that I didn’t want to end up with? What was I afraid of? What was wrong with the idea of me being a mother and caring for my family? Did I need to travel more? Did I need to date more? Did I need to try out crazy ideas; jump from the sky from a plane? go off on a trip to India, Vietnam or Cambodia? What exactly was I missing from my life that I was afraid I was going to miss out on?  Maybe I needed to study some crazy notion; basket-weaving? Acupuncture? Past lives hypnosis? I didn’t try too many of those ideas, but I did go to Israel to see the country.

I started dating someone seriously and realized he would be the one I would want to marry, but I was still afraid of the ‘vison’.  Wasn’t I heading in that exact same direction? Was it truly a problem?  I kept trying to figure out what exactly bothered me about the scenario and what was I going to do about it.

I never told him about the fear, but my boyfriend and I did have deep talks.  Where were we going? What was important in life? How do we make decisions? What were our dreams? We actually decided to do something before we just got to that family situation without a thought. We went to a school where the goal wasn’t to get a liberal education or a vocation; it was a place to ask and seek questions about life, about meaning.  Since we are Jewish, we went back to the original source and went to a school that used the Torah (the Bible) for answers with a three-thousand-year history of finding answers; a yeshiva and seminary (for those with no background.)

It was invigorating. Our questions were not unique, but have been asked in every generation with answers that could accommodate in different styles and ages of living. By digging deep into the simple meaning of each question, there were many answers with more depth than we had ever imagined.

We put a hold on our marriage for a year and both studied. This was too important to jump into anything like marriage without feeling we needed to build our home, our marriage in the most responsible way. When we did finally get married we realized that it was really a lifetime endeavor of learning and building. So though yes we have jobs and many children (and now grandchildren) we still try to invest time in continuing with that education.  (Our kids, of course, as these things tend to go are much further learned than us since they had the benefit of their whole lives invested in being religious.)

When I did turn that frightening age of 40 and had a house full of kids, I realized there wasn’t any resentment of filling my day of taking care of them as well as finding outlets (work, classes, and the gym) to fulfill my needs as well. I was only happy the way things had turned out.  In fact, my 40th decade was the best!

Now my husband and I are even older, with grandchildren and still a house full of kids, who are all old enough to be fairly independent.  The memory of the nightmare came back to me the other day.

We had dinner with a much younger mother who was for the first time hearing of this ancient wisdom that is still so prevalent in our lives.  She was discussing her enthusiasm of how beautiful and deep some of the many ideas were that she had started to hear about.  She was regretting that her kids were already planning college and she had never thought of what were her real goals, what kind of lives she really wanted for herself, her husband and her kids. They had been so busy making a lot of money and shelping her kids to all the extracurricular programs they felt they needed so they could also be successful to make a lot of money. She had never thought until she went on a special Jewish mother’s program who starting asking questions. It was the first time she was given an exposure to the idea of living with a purpose.  She was startled and moved by the many deep concepts that were being presented.  Even though she, of course, had heard of so many of the ideas before, in her circles it had been just ridiculed and life just moved on without too much thought.  Life was just reactions to events.

“Can you imagine the concept of recognizing that your whole life can have meaning and goals? Can you imagine the running around bringing up kids doesn’t have to be like an endless motion, a reaction to reaction, but actually have a guided purpose and meaning?” she asked us with such enthusiasm to her recent discovery. And then she looked us. “Woah! You guys are religious.  You must have been doing this all the time; living with a real purpose, a real goal.”

We didn’t really know how to answer, so we just smiled. But I suddenly remembered that nightmare of my young 16-year-old fear.  I was grateful that I had it those many years ago. I didn’t need to wake up at 40 to wonder what I was doing with my life.  We have been living it with pride (and hard work) ever since then.

The Writing on the Wall

Meryl Streep was afraid to mention that Jerusalem is part of Israel. (Not that she is alone – the Democratic Party, with Obama overtures supports this view.) Left wing American Jews admit that Obama has been terrible for Israel, but can’t seem to understand why that should concern them too much. The Women of the Wall who claim that the Kotel is so important to them hasn’t seen any reason to respond to the UNESCO anti-Israel vote that not only denies the Jewish connection to the Kotel but would also make the Kotel out-of-bounds to any Jew (not just the Haredi type that the WOW hate. Their only agenda is to not allow Haredim to daven at the Kotel the way Jews have always prayed.  As far as they are concerned – no one should pray at the wall it should just become a tourist site.). Their attitude is like the false mother of Shlomo’s time – they only want the Haredim to be denied what is important to them. There are anti-Israel people everywhere, on the extreme right and the major left. But what is worst is when it is from our own people like the leftist of American Jews (impartiality leads to anti behavior), B’Tselem, New Israel Fund,  ‘break the silence’ groups, and the many ignorant BDS American Jews on college campuses who are all supported by Israel’s enemies.

Having discussions and differences of opinion is not a problem.  It actually is the normalcy for Jews through history.  If you ever entered a beis medresh, you would get it – Jews like to argue – loudly! But to be anti-Israel which Obama has been for the past eight years, for women of the wall seem to be if they can’t recognize a problem with the UN vote, which BDS, New Israel Fund, B’Tselem and all the other groups whose main objective is to hurt Israel – this is unforgivable.  Not that it is new, during the World WarII Reform head Stephen Wise would not allow the Orthodox rescue groups try to help Jews get out of Europe.  Dr. Solly Meyer head of the Zionist organization in Switzerland prevented the exchange of trucks for 1000’s of Jewish lives. They did not help prevent Jews being slaughtered and thus were part of the problem.  These new groups are of the same ilk and are culpable for the killing of Jewish lives and encouraging terror.

Israel needs to be protected.  It is not another nation like any other.  Israel belongs to every Jew, which means it should be important to every Jew.  If Obama was bad for Israel, then it means Obama was bad for Jews – all Jews.  Leftist American Jews who think all the other issues that are facing the American people are more important are fooling themselves – just like the German Jews in the 1930’s.  IF these Jews don’t support Israel when needed – what will happen if (and most likely when) Jews will need a place to escape from the terrible onslaught that is facing the world today- how do they expect to have Israel waiting for them if they don’t support her! What would have been if there had been Israel when Nazi Germany’s killing machine was at the height of power? Do you think America really cares about its Jews that they will prevent another holocaust? Then how could the president of United States just declare the Kotel, and half of the country where Jews live as illegal?

See the writing on the Wall!

 

 

A Modest Thought

Secular Taxi Driver: You know, I really don’t like when women dress in a provocative way.  It doesn’t present them in a nice way, they may look sexy, but not necessarily attractive or someone I want to hitch up with. Honestly, it makes me think less of them.

Reporter: I wonder what sometimes these women are thinking. Can you imagine a queen start showing off her body for all to see? The more important someone is, the less they actually show off their body.  The more important a person is the more they cover themselves.

Secular Taxi Driver: Yeah! That is just it.  I mean I don’t mind looking, but I sure don’t really want much to do with women who dress to show. Look at the singers Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Beyonce or Madonna! Personally, they look like low-lives. You know that one of  Adel’s attraction is that she thinks better of herself and dresses actually modestly?  Hey, I think men who feel a need to show off their bodies have got a problem.  When I work out I wear a shirt – there is no need to go without one unless it is to show off, which we could all do without.

Hey, I even think men who show off their bodies have got a problem.  When I work out I wear a shirt – there is no need to go without one unless it is to show off, which we could all do without.

Flashback

Newly female Baalei Teshuva said factually, but actually not getting it: So, women are not supposed to sing in front of men (except for their family) because women’s singing affect men.

Baalei Teshuva’s brother, a bit anti-religious: Yeah.

Newly female Baalei Teshuva: What do you mean ‘yeah’?

Baalei Teshuva’s brother: I don’t get your question, of course, women singing affects men.

Newly female Baalei Teshuva: Really?

Modesty.  An infringement on women rights or a path to more respect?

In the Aaron Kodesh the most precious item in the shul is hidden – the Torah Scrolls. They are sealed in a box with a lock, and curtains. Jewelry that is valuable are kept in boxes with a lock and even at times in a safe in a bank. Aren’t our bodies valuable enough to be concealed from any onlooker?  There are times we wear jewelry so all can see, just like we bring out and raise the Torah scroll up so all can look. The difference it is worn so it looks nice, or shown at the proper time, not just hanging around to be exposed at all times and be taken disadvantage of (which is the result of improper dressing).

Quotes of Modesty

  • “My value as a woman is not measured by the size of my waist or the number of men who like me. My worth as a human being is measured on a higher scale: a scale of righteousness and piety. And my purpose in life-despite what fashion magazines say-is something more sublime than just looking good for men.”
    Yasmin Mogahed, Reclaim Your Heart: Personal Insights on Breaking Free from Life’s Shackles
  • Modesty is the conscience of the body. Honore de Balzac
  • Modesty is the color of virtue. Diogenes
  • Good taste is the modesty of the mind; that is why it cannot be either imitated or acquired. Delphine de Girardin
  • “Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of her honor.” ― Noah Webster
  • Beauty without modesty is like words without honesty.  Anil Sinha
  • Real beauty is in modesty and the absence of ego. Senora Roy
  • The best makeup is a smile. The best jewelry is modesty. The best clothing is confidence.

What do you think?

Jewish Food Conversations

“Mom, did you have anything to eat yet?  It is almost 2:00 pm.”

“Coffee, don’t worry about me.  Did you eat?”

“You know me, I don’t ever go hungry. It easily could explain why you wear size 0 and ahem I wear a quite a larger size. “

“No, they just make 0 big, don’t be fooled. “

“Yeah, right.”

“Mom, do you really think you need to watch your weight?”

“You know I don’t really eat too much, and still you don’t see me getting any thinner – do you?  This is really all I should eat.  You, on the other hand, are eating for two and have so much on your plate with the kids.  You are burning so many more calories than I. Did you see the new cookbook that just came out?  I love to get it.”

“Why? Do you really try out the recipes?”

“No, not really, but it gives me ideas.  Listen I don’t really eat too much, but I love food; the colors, the textures, the different way the books present them.  If you ever want to borrow a book please take it, keep it if you like it.  You really make all this food, so you should enjoy it.”

“Mom, I think you must have unbelievable discipline not to eat when there is so much food all around, don’t you get hungry?”

“I love to watch others eat, but what I need it for, so then I can worry about the extra weight that I gained.  It won’t get me any pleasure from eating just seeing others enjoying it.”

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

“Mom, why do you like cookbooks so much?  You don’t seem to use them?”

“Remembering cookbooks is how we survived the war?”

“What do you mean? We were so hungry?  You know how you think when you are sick or out and can’t find anything kosher to eat, well at least I loose a little weight from this adventure, and well that is not how we thought in the camp.  Our hunger so far beyond thinking of losing weight, we were starving – the real starving.”

“So how did the cookbooks fit in? We would dream of food, talk food, remember recipes; the more descendant it was the more we would talk about it.  The creams, the butter, the layers of dough and apples and honey.  Each item we would talk and visualize, all the recipes we had learned from our mothers, that we would help prepare for Shabbos, would become the language that we would talk.  It was almost we could taste that food from before.”

“Didn’t it make you hungrier?”

“Nothing could make us hungrier we were dying of starvation.  But at least we could be satiated by our thoughts.  Do you know I know of some survivors who actually wrote up a cookbook with the recipes that we all talked about? “

“Could you cook from such a book?”

“No, I think the ingredients were so rich, that in today’s palate it would be outrageous, but that is how we survived.  Now we only worry about our waistline and not of that bitterness.”

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

“You like the food? Good have more. “

“No, thank you, Shiviger, I really can’t eat another thing.”

“What you should go home and be hungry, they’ll think I don’t know how to take care of my daughter-in-law.  Maybe you want some cauliflower, it is almost done the cooking, and I put it up a few hours ago.”

“Oh, Shiviger, no thanks.  Listen, Mom, I would really love to have more…”

“So, nu what’s stopping you?”

“You know why I don’t take some home for Sid; he for sure has missed your home cooking.”

“If you want I could teach you. “

“Oh thanks, mom, I am just not a cook.”

“So how is my son going to live?”

“You forget mom, he is a great cook by himself?”

“What you forget he is a dentist, when is he going to have time to cook? Besides what are you doing with all your time?  Once you finish college I hope you are planning to do something with yourself, like start having some grandchildren for me.”

“Mom, I told you, we are not quite ready.”

“And you think it is really up to you?”

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

“What would you like to eat for dinner today?”

“Food.”

“Turkey burgers?”

“No, food.”

“Salad and Fish?”

“No, food.”

“Okay, what is ‘food’? Noodles and Cheese?”

“Forget it. I’ll go buy pizza.”

“That’s food?”

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

Seventy-Five Years Ago from Today

Pearl Harbor.  President Roosevelt called the day infamous and one that will never be forgotten.  Yet, I wonder if there are many who remember it today. In 1941 the world was a terrible place.  Especially for the Jews.  And today 75 years later, I am so afraid we are facing the same issues.  Pearl Harbor was what brought America into the war, which was eventually what was able to allow the Allies to overcome the Nazi regime, thank G-d.

Today we have more infamous days since then; the 6-day war, the assassination of Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Rabin, murders at Columbine School, Kent State, Hurricane Katrina, Waco, and more, but I think most of all 9/11 is the date that shifted recent history. Throughout time, there are days that change the world, usually not for the good.  But Pearl Harbor, as bad as it was for America, really didn’t compare to the damage wrought by dropping the atom bomb on the same Japanese that attacked Pearl Harbor, nor the murders of Hitler or Stalin for that matter. And it was about time America entered the war.  Staying neutral is rarely possible, and ultimately it  is really choosing a side, the wrong one.

It is imperative to learn from the past.  Today we can’t sit back and allow the modern day neo-Nazis, ISIS, just gather strength. I hope the nations today will learn from Pearl Harbor and the country’s mistake.

And on the personal level, it behooves us to recognize what is pulling us down, not allowing us to grow and disengage with the negative and find the system to change.

 

 

The Great Divide

“Sharon it is good to see you!  I’m so glad you came. Boy, do we have a lot to catch up on.  Sit.  Do you want a drink?” Debbie greeted her lost long friend into her home.

“Debbie, thanks a coffee will do.  I’m so glad I got 2 hours to spend with just you.” Sharon felt at home almost immediately.

“Can you believe the elections?” Debbie handed Sharon her cup that she basically prepared just the way she remembered Sharon liked it.  “More than anything I can’t believe that the Democrats are still out and protesting.  If Trump had lost, they would never understand if he complained of the vote.  Yet they are acting like… Sharon?  What is the matter?” Debbie is looking at Sharon.

“Debbie, did I just get you.  You voted for Trump. I don’t understand.  I thought your kind of people were smart and valued women, minorities and ..and .. and the land.  Are you serious?  Why would you have voted for Trump?”

“Why was Clinton a paragon of justice and all that was right?  Besides the fact, she set up a fund where they basically allowed themselves to be bribed for any diplomat who wanted something from the Whitehouse. And Clinton would have been just another Obama.” Debbie felt she scored with that last point.

“What was wrong with Obama? I think he was the most approachable, humorous, caring President this country has seen in a long time. They brought back to America the value of family and taking care of each other.  Setting up the medical care has been the best thing especially for someone like my sister who could not afford her own insurance.  He saved America!” Sharon triumphantly announces practically getting out of her chair to march across the room with a flag.

“Sharon?” Debbie is almost whispering in pain,  “ Obama almost destroyed Israel.  He did everything in his power to cause damage to Israel and bow so low to the Syrians and all the other murderers. Who has allowed ISIs to become as powerful as they have?  He couldn’t make a red line and keep it.  To his enemies, he gave everything and to his only friend he spits in their face time and again.  How could we vote for another Obama? Besides, I could never forgive Clinton and her immobility and irresponsibility for Benghazi!”

“But Debbie, Trump is a bigot.  He mistreats women.  He hates Mexicans.  He makes fun of the handicap. How could you of all people hold him?”

“At least you know what you are getting.  With her, she could be stealing lying and selling everyone out with that deceiving smile on her face.  Besides, Bill misused women much worse than Trump ever did.”

“Right it was Bill. Not Hillary.  Not only she had to be embarrassed by him she also has to be accused of his crimes?” Sharon mumbled.

They are staring at each other from the opposite sides of the couch.

Sharon looks as she might start crying and whispers; “Debbie, I’m so afraid. How could this next administration affect every part of our lives? “

Debbie is confused.  “Why do you say that?”

Whispering Sharon confides, “Daniel just told me he is gay. How is my son who is gay going to live in a Trump world, where everything is black and white?  Did he just become non-grata?”

Debbie takes a deep breath and tries to find the right words, the words that won’t throw any more daggers, show respect but also careful to watch for  the pitfalls are. “Sharon, if the new world becomes a little bit less politically correct, it still won’t mean that there will be attacks.  But how do you feel about it?” Debbie sits down a bit closer to Sharon on the couch.

“We told him, we will support him.  He should feel comfortable in our home with whoever his friends are. He should not have to hide anywhere. If he wants ‘friends’ to sleepover, it is fine with us.”

“Sharon, you didn’t answer my question.  How do you feel now that your 16 year-old-son says he is gay?”

“I just told you.”

“No, you told me how the modern mother is supposed to act in the new politically correct world we have come to.  You didn’t tell me how YOU feel about your son declaring he loves a man.  What if he said he wants to have a relationship with even a girl at 16, wouldn’t you talk to him about being careful, maybe it is too early to get into a serious relationship, why is it different now that he is calling himself gay?”

“No, if he had a girlfriend, I would do the same.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean why?  I should kick my child out.  I should let him have a relationship in a car or some other strange place.  Better he should be home.”

“Does this mean whatever he does, is condoned, as long as he tells you? And you don’t have any feelings other than his protection?  The feelings of a 16-year-old are supposed to be taken so seriously?  I remember in our day, girls would have crushes on girls, because that is what 16-year-old kids do.  They have this hormone flying through their system and anyone of any gender who they admire they don’t really get their feelings.  It is the age one starts understanding emotions.  To let a child label himself one way or another is crazy!  Why jump on the bandwagon.  Let him know that these are just feelings you have now, he shouldn’t lock himself in.”

“Is this all coming from your attention to the Bible?  It says there homosexuality is abominable.  You want me to think that?”

“You are right it does say that.  If the Torah comes to tell us something is forbidden it is because it is something that a person would think could be permissible.  It doesn’t say a person can’t sleep with his child because everyone recognizes the truth.  The very fact that it forbids it, is informing us that have homosexual feelings is a reality, but one is not allowed to act upon it.  You know there are people who have an urge to steal, to lie, to do all sorts of things that are forbidden by the Torah (and general thinking.) But we don’t let these people go around and ‘expressing their needs and desires’ letting them hang out as the wayG-d created them. Nor let them walk around in a parade totally undressed and acting sensational.”

“How can you compare someone who has a beautiful sensitive love for another human being in the same breath with a kleptomaniac or even an infectious parent?!  Just because the Bible says, just proves how outdated the book is and the more reason we don’t need to follow it like you do.”

“Why? In Rome, there weren’t gays? In Greece, there were no homosexuals?  What makes our modern world so different? And he is only 16! How does he know what he is?  Why encourage it?  It seems the more outrageous the request, the more the ‘modern’ parent needs to be ‘with it’ and accepting.  That is the only action the new parent needs to do – accept.  No setting standards, no saying this is not how a Jew acts, no trying to pass down what we know is really right from wrong.  You want your hair green okay.  You want to put tattoos all over your body, okay.  You want to put Frankenstein pins in your nose okay.  And then when this new ugly creature goes for a job interview and gets refused; protests, intolerance, the great need of creativity and expression is being downtrodden – is this the way of the modern world?  Where does it end?” Debbie is now letting it all out.

“That is what is wrong with you people and the Trump haters, they think there is only one way of looking at the world.  Why can’t people walk around with green hair and pretty pictures on their arms? I wouldn’t do it, but who am I to say what is beautiful?  You think you are the end of the definition of what is beautiful and what is acceptable.  Yes, we allow our children to express their different creativity, to go out to the world and find what is meaningful to them and make it part of their expression.  If it means my son is gay, then I must accept him for what he values.”

“Oh, my gosh.  What ridiculous values you have accepted upon yourself. And in twenty years from now, are you going to be happy with his choices? Is he the incredible mature 16-year-old going to be happy with his choices? Is there no set barometer, moral code that anyone of this generation is supposed to follow?  Listen, Sharon, I can’t say everything in my life is rosy and perfect.  I don’t like the way the schools add more authoritative decrees on my daughter; not too long, not too short, no bicycles, and etc, but the choices my kids are choosing from is from a positive place a growing place.”

“Really?  Your daughter can’t sing in front of a group. You can’t relax and just wear pants. You wouldn’t send your kids to a regular college to get a normal education.  You can’t sit with your family at shul. You can’t go comfortably to see a show on Broadway. You can’t even go to an art gallery with your husband because heaven forbid there might be a nude. How is that positive?”

“That is just what I’m saying.  There are things that are difficult; for you and me. (Not that those things that you think are difficult really bother me. Now.) But I can’t imagine having to choose to have a relationship with my kids’ means I have to allow them to basically destroy their bodies, their minds, and their spiritual side and let them do anything they can think of to get a little attention and be different. Do you think your kids are happier? Growing to be a mentsch? Or are they learning that one must strive to be different as possible to move the envelope as far as they can for the sake of change?  I already have children married with grandchildren. Do you think you will ever have that gift the greatest gift one can have?”

“I can’t force my children to be something for my own pleasures.”

“Not, my pleasure. HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s pleasure, as well.”

“Why now you know how G-d thinks?”

“We have His book.”

Democrats’ Disdain at the Dinner Table

Disclaimer: Thank G-d, this phenomenon did not happen in my family.  On the other hand, they already have known how much I have been ‘Leaning to the Right’.

 

Guest Blogg: Dennis Prager #1010 Reasons Left-Wingers Cut Trump Voters From Their Lives
November 30th, 2016
Posted in Op-Eds

Many Hillary Clinton voters have ceased communicating with friends, and even family members, who voted for Donald Trump. It is so common that The New York Times published a front-page article on the subject headlined, “Political Divide Splits Relationships — and Thanksgiving, Too.”

The article begins with three stories:

“Matthew Horn, a software engineer from Boulder, Colo., canceled Christmas plans with his family in Texas. Nancy Sundin, a social worker in Spokane, Wash., has called off Thanksgiving with her mother and brother. Ruth Dorancy, a software designer in Chicago, decided to move her wedding so that her fiancé’s grandmother and aunt, strong Trump supporters from Florida, could not attend.”

The Times acknowledges that this phenomenon is one-sided, saying, “Democrats have dug in their heels, and in some cases are refusing to sit across the table from relatives who voted for President-elect Donald J. Trump.”

A number of people who voted for Trump called my show to tell me that their daughters had informed them that they would no longer allow their parents to see their grandchildren. And one man sent me an email reporting that his brother-in-law’s mother told him that she “no longer had a son.”

All of this raises an obvious question: Why is this phenomenon of cutting off contact with friends and relatives so one-sided? Why don’t we hear about conservatives shunning friends and relatives who supported Hillary Clinton? After all, almost every conservative considered Clinton to be ethically and morally challenged. And most believed that another four years of left-wing rule would complete what Barack Obama promised he would do in 2008 if he were elected president — “fundamentally (transform) the United States of America.”

In other words, conservatives were not one whit less fearful of Clinton and the Democrats than Democrats were of Trump and Republicans.

Yet virtually no conservatives cut off contact with friends, let alone parents, who supported Clinton.

Here are 10 reasons left-wingers cut Trump voters from their lives.

1. Just like our universities shut out conservative ideas and speakers, more and more individuals on the left now shut out conservative friends and relatives as well as conservative ideas.

2. Many, if not most, leftists have been indoctrinated with leftism their entire lives.

This is easily shown.

There are far more conservatives who read articles, listen to and watch broadcasts of the left and have studied under left-wing teachers than there are people on the left who have read, listened to or watched anything of the right or taken classes with conservative instructors.

As a result, those on the left really believe that those on the right are all SIXHIRB: sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist and bigoted. Not to mention misogynistic and transphobic.

3. Most left-wing positions are emotion-based. That’s a major reason people who hold leftist views will sever relations with people they previously cared for or even loved. Their emotions (in this case, irrational fear and hatred) simply overwhelm them.

4. Since Karl Marx, leftists have loved ideas more than people. All Trump voters who have been cut off by children, in-laws and lifelong friends now know how true that is.

5. People on the right think that most people on the left are wrong; people on the left think that most people on the right are evil. Decades of labeling conservative positions as “hateful” and labeling conservative individuals as “sexist,” “intolerant,” “xenophobic,” “homophobic,” “racist” and “bigoted” have had their desired effect.

6. The left associates human decency not so much with personal integrity as with having correct — i.e. progressive — political positions. Therefore, if you don’t hold progressive positions, you lack decency. Ask your left-wing friends if they’d rather their high school son or daughter cheat on tests or support Trump.

7. Most individuals on the left are irreligious, so the commandment “Honor your father and your mother” means nothing to those who have cut off relations with parents because they voted for Trump.

8. Unlike conservatives, politics gives most leftists’ lives meaning. Climate change is a good example. For leftists, fighting carbon emissions means saving human existence on Earth. Now, how often does anyone get a chance to literally save the world? Therefore, to most leftists, if you voted for Trump, you have both negated their reason for living and are literally destroying planet Earth. Why would they have Thanksgiving or Christmas with such a person?

9. The left tends toward the totalitarian. And every totalitarian ideology seeks to weaken the bonds between children and parents. The left seeks to dilute parental authority and replace it with school authority and government authority. So when your children sever their bond with you because you voted for Trump, they are acting like the good totalitarians the left has molded.

10. While there are kind and mean individuals on both sides of the political spectrum, as a result of all of the above, there are more mean people on the left than on the right. What other word than “mean” would anyone use to describe a daughter who banished her parents from their grandchildren’s lives because of their vote?

I wish none of this were true. But there is a way to prove me wrong: Re-friend your friends and relatives who voted for Trump, and tell everyone who has ended relations with family members — especially with parents — to reach out to them and welcome them back into their lives.

Dennis Prager

About the Author: Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.com. His latest book is “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.”

The Electoral College; Questions and Answers

Will this year electoral college go renegade? Can they?

The election is still not over.  On December 19 the EC votes on the president and never in the past have ‘faithless’ electors have made a change in the presidency, but this year has not been like any other year.

What is the Electoral College?

It is a possibility, though remote, that enough electors could change their pledge and pick Clinton as the new president, as many Democrats are probably hoping.  How could that happen?  How is it that Trump did not win the popular vote, but won the Electoral vote? And hold on, the Electoral College hasn’t happened yet, these elections are not over yet!

It is through the Electoral College the American President is actually picked.  After the popular vote is counted, each state awards the electors, who have been selected by the presidential candidate prior to voting, to elect the most popular candidate in that state. All states except Maine and Nebraska are based on the “winner-take-all” since the 1880s. There are 538 electors, based on the 435 Representatives (which are determined by the census collected every 10 years), 100 Senators, plus three electors for the District of Columbia (which received presidential voting rights only since 1961 in the Twenty-third Amendment. The least populated state, Wyoming has 563,626 people living in the whole state in 2010 compared to Washington D.C.’s population at 601,767). The least number of electoral votes any one state can have is three (Wyoming, North Dakota, Vermont and D.C.); based on 1 representative and 2 senators. California has the largest number of electors with 55.

In most elections, the Electoral College has elected the candidate who received the most votes nationwide called the ‘popular vote’, except in five elections, 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and now in 2016.

How did the Electoral College get started? And Why?

The Electoral College has been in law by the Article 2 Constitution ( and ratified  in the 12th amendment combining the president and vice president under one vote) since 1787.  The Electoral College was established in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens. Since the entire process is part of the original U.S. Constitution, in order to change the system would need a Constitutional amendment to pass.

Perhaps the original reason for the Electoral College is due to the slow communication abilities at the beginning of the nation.  Since it would be difficult for the entire people to be made aware of the candidates’ and all their platforms, it was decided to pick electors whose job was to stay inform and choose the president based on the general population’s vote. The electors are chosen by the candidates (and their parties) but each state has their own rules and requirements.

By 1804, most states made ‘the winner-take-all’ the system in picking the electors, except for Maine and Nebraska.

Have there ever been attempts to change the system to only popular vote counting?

Yes, many times. Yet in order to be ratified as a new Constitutional amendment the proposal needs to be agreed by 2/3’s of the majority in both houses of Congress AND then it would need to be ratified by ¾’s of each state.

Are Electors obligated to vote as directed or can they be ‘faithless’? Is it possible on Dec. 19 there can be a new president-elect?

Every state’s electors meet on the Monday following the second Wednesday of December. They cast their votes then, and those votes are sent to the President of the Senate who reads them before both houses of Congress on January 6th.

In theory, the Electoral College could switch candidates if enough electors switched sides. Although the Federal government does not have any laws about the obligation of the Electors voting for their chosen candidate, 27 states do have such laws. There have been ‘faithless’ electors in the past, but they have never changed the vote.

How is it possible for the electoral vote to produce a different result than the nation-wide popular vote? How many times in US history has the popular vote been superseded by the Electoral College? What were the discrepancies?

Since each state awards the candidate a full house of electors even if only 51% of the vote was won by a particular party, it is possible to have a different president-elect than the popular vote.  Indeed, it has happened 5 times in the history of the United States; 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and now 2016.

In 1824, there were many candidates thus no candidate received the 270 votes demanded to win in the Electoral College. Andrew Jackson had won the popular vote (40.3% of the vote). He received 44,804 votes more than anyone else, but he did not have enough in the Electoral College vote due to the splintering of the candidates. It was the first time, the presidential election vote needed to be decided by the House of Representatives. There, John Quincy Adams made sure Henry Clay won instead since he did not support Jackson.

In 1876 Samuel Tilden not only won the popular vote by 264,292 votes but also received 184 electoral votes to Rutherford Hayes’s165 electoral votes.  Yet, neither won enough votes in the Electoral College since 20 votes of the Electoral College from 4 states were unresolved. To date, it remains the election that recorded the smallest electoral vote and popular vote victory in the Electoral College ballot. Hayes received the presidency.

In 1888 the incumbent president, Grover Cleveland a Democrat won by a narrow margin of 100,456 by the popular vote but lost the electoral vote to Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison 233 to Cleveland’s 168.

The year 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote by 543,816 votes for the Democrats Presidential bid, but the Electoral College went to George Bush after a recount was stopped being counted in Florida by a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court.

This year Donald Trump lost the popular vote with 61,201,031to Hillary Clinton’s 62,523,126; a huge difference of 1.3 million votes.  Yet Mr. Trump won by a landslide in the Electoral College with 306 Electoral compared to her 232 votes; a strange abstruse of numbers.

If somehow the Electoral College would change the projection as it stands now, would Mrs. Clinton’s conceding speech jeopardize her becoming president?

No, it would have no influence on the Electoral College results.  Though it would be very unlikely such a scenario happening, based on United States history and the laws of 27 of the states enforce the electors to vote according to who they were chosen for and the rest of the 23 states who do impose fines.

Since the founding of the Electoral College, there have been 157 faithless electors (those who don’t vote according to their commitment). Of these votes, 71were changed because the original candidate died in between elections and the Electoral College. Three of the votes were not cast at all as three electors chose to abstain in protest. The other 82 electoral votes were changed by the elector’s personal discretion.

There are 29 states (plus the District of Columbia) that require rarely enforced punishments for faithfulness voting. In the 1836 election, Virginia’s entire 23-man electoral delegation faithlessly abstained from voting for the Democratic vice presidential nominee Richard M. Johnson, since he had an open long-term interracial relationship with his slave. It was the largest ‘faithless’ vote, but it did not effect the elections. As of the 2004 election, no elector has changed the outcome of an election by voting against his or her party’s designated candidate.

Despite these 157 faithless votes, and a Supreme Court ruling allowing states to empower political parties to require formal pledges from presidential electors (Ray v. Blair, 343 US 214), 21 states still do not require their members of the Electoral College to vote for their party’s designated candidate. Today, of the large in number Republican states that do not have strict laws are  Texas 38, Pennsylvania 20, Georgia 16, Indiana 11, Arizona 11,  Missouri 10 and if they were all to go, renegade, the Trump vote it would be a change of 106!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Electoral College?

Pro:

  1. Prevention of victory based on just the cities. It allows the farmers and smaller populated states to have a voice and be noticed during the campaigns. If it went only by popular vote the candidates would only try to appeal to cities of large populations.  Although this might be more truthful of the full number of voters, but it would not reflect many people who live in sparse spaces, who need help to be recognized for their legitimate needs.
  2. For good or bad, it enforces a two-party system. Although having many parties like in Israel allows many platforms to be heard and addressed, and is truly a more democratic system, but it does not mean it works or is a fair or good system.
  3. By voting state-by-state, if there is a need to recount; it is much easier (like in 2000 in Florida) it only means in the single state recounts would be needed to be carried out. This year it has taken over two weeks to finish counting the first time around the popular vote, even in this modern day. If there was a need for a recount, the time and effort would be enormous.
  4. It allows the check and balance process of the American government work. If need be, if the electoral college doesn’t vote in a president, the next step would entail the House of Representatives to step in, ensuring that the president is bound by the other branches of power, somewhat limited in full power.

Con:

  1. It isn’t a real democracy, and it only promotes a two party system. Again, having only two parties isn’t a real democracy either. Considering that there are 1.5 billion people in America; it is a hard stretch of the imagination that two parties actually represent the entire people’s choices. The Electoral College is just more of the same.
  2. It makes people feel their vote doesn’t really count.
  3. It may produce a president that is not popular, like this year.
  4. The minorities may be given more power than their numbers.

Conclusion

This election actually is not over until the President of the Senate reads the results of the Electoral College to both houses of Congress on January 6th. It really could go anyway.  Stay tuned.

 

 

In G-d We Trust

How do Orthodox Jews cope with pain and personal life difficulties?

 

I actually don’t think Orthodox Jews have a monopoly on the idea of how to cope. I think most people who believe in a G-d that is all encompassing, find the strength to live with difficulties, personal life difficulties and more. I don’t know how non-religious deal with pain – without G-d, it seems senseless and painful.

 

First, of all, G-d never promised an easy life. In fact, it is said someone who goes through life with no problems is unloved by G-d. It is the same of a child who never gets disciplined, given rules or shown boundaries – that is not a loved child. G-d is like a father. The pain is here to guide us, make us grow. Diamonds only become worthwhile through a lot of friction.

 

Second, we don’t look at this life as the end of all life, there is an after-life; which is essentially much longer and is where we will understand all that we needed to go through in this life.

 

Third, G-d knows everything, and we only see glimpses. Just like a person walking into a dress rehearsal at the end of the last scene in the 2nd act; he has no idea what happened in Act 1, all the other scenes in Act 2, nor doesn’t know what will happen in Act 3. How can he judge if what he saw was fair? right? We believe that G-d is only good. Thus if we see something is bad, we have to realize that we just don’t know Act 1 or 3.

 

So how do we deal with bad news? Prayer, which is asking G-d to give us clarity and comfort. Get more involved with Mitzvot (the commandments), Hessed (doing kindness), tzadakah (charity) and examining ourselves and finding where we can improve ourselves.

 

Because it is all about growing and becoming a better person.

Chassidim; Closed?

Image result for chassidim closed or warm?

I volunteered for Aish HaTorah’s tutor session with a Birthright program this past summer. It had allocated three hours over a two week period for the women and men a chance to meet (in separate programs) with real live ultra-orthodox people. As I was leaving the known kiruv Yeshiva’s beautiful new building looking over the Kotel, I met a Chassidish young woman who also had been tutoring. She was a young mother who had taken the days off to get involved in this unique one-on-one opportunity to have input with the next American secular generation.  Sara Rivka Geldzahler fresh from Williamsburg seemed to be the spokeswoman for Chassidim and the religious, invited me out for a coffee and insisted on sharing with me her salad and a few of her friend’s discussion.

Birthright, the program we had been invited to through Aish HaTorah, has been successful in bringing over many Jewish youth. Their goals, however, are not so clear.  Their requirement of who can attend is limited to those who have at least one Jewish parent. Each separate group is defined by their similarities (either from the same college, political and secular views, athletic, artistic, or even homosexual as a few examples). They purposely downplay introducing any particular point of views on the trip. The few groups which are slightly interested in having a bit of religious experience are hosted by Aish HaTorah in one of their many varied programs in kiruv.

Unfortunately, as the Pew reports have substantiated young Jews don’t care about their Judaism. Those under 35 are not just apathetic about Israel, but due to the college scene with BDS and other such programs fighting Israel, many young Jews are anti-Israel.

Being offered a free trip is an opportunity for many of these students to take advantage, Thank G-d, which we would hope, it does seem to have some influence to counter the college experience and introduce some pride in being Jewish.  But, if you read some of their testimonials, there are also those who walk away convinced Israel as an occupier or worse.

In the Pew report, more young Jews would not care about the destruction of Israel. One wonders if they would have been even bothered by the Holocaust at the time. Only 54% profess to be comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state at all. Israel is looked upon as the embarrassing cousins know one wants to acknowledge.

The historic link between American Jewry and Israel might be coming to an end. Perhaps with the new president, that impetus might stop, since unlike the soon-to-be-passing administration, Trump actually likes Israel.

The Pew report also pointed out (which it has consistently shown throughout the years) that in spite of the Reform movement not demanding any actual behavior change (read mitzvot) in their members’ commitments they lose numbers every year.  Young Jews who are offered nothing would rather call themselves ‘atheist’ other than Jewish. The Orthodox, on the other hand, is growing.

At our impromptu brunch, Sara Rivka, a young, outgoing, Chassidic mother, told me how she loves speaking with the women in birthright, to those who have actually made a request to meet someone religious. It was gratifying to meet her. She charmed and gave these secular searching women a new perspective of being Jewish with her openness (perhaps not the first adjective when speaking about Chassidim).

She told us how she would start a tutor session with the women:

“Hi, my name is Sara Rivka.  I’m Chasidic.  I met my husband 3 times when I was 18 before we got engaged and then I didn’t see him until the wedding day, a year later. We have been married three years and have two kids. I’m open for any questions?”

The secular young women eagerly took up her offer and bombarded her with many questions:

“Was it hard not to see your fiancé?”

“Weren’t you worried he was the right one?”

“Didn’t you want to go to college?”

“Don’t you feel put upon and have no choices in your life?”

“Is that a wig and a hat?  Why do you wear so much clothing?”

“Did you love your husband on your wedding day?”

“How could you think you knew him enough in that short time? How could you agree?”

“Do you let your parents make all your decisions?”

And then those totally out-of-the-box questions: “Do you believe in mermaids?”

 

Sara Rivka explained, “I know sometimes when I passed these kids with my husband, their thinking, ‘what a dark difficult world you have.  Look you are covered from head to toe in the heat, married with children so young – life must be miserable.’ I want to tell them dark? Miserable? Hardly! We have a life; we are building a marriage and a new generation.  Our lives are so full and rewarding!” Sara Rivka fervently explains how even when she is only walking down the street she takes her secular sister’s situation seriously. “So, sometimes, that is just what I do.  I go up to them on the street when I see them staring and start a conversation.  Why not? What have I got to loose.”

The students, from the Birthright program, are most likely older in years, but essentially less aware of the realities in building good relationships, are captivated by her. A new world is being offered.  One of the birthright women came from a broken intermarried home, another’s mother recently died along with the last vestige of Judaism in the young girl’s life; no matter how water-down it was. Another student is planning to move in with her Christian boyfriend but wants her children brought up Jewish. The fourth woman tells of the tremendous chesed their temple does by encouraging the rabbi’s daughter to dress transgender and calls her – him. And these are the crème of secular Judaism.  They are the ones who requested a religious encounter. Considering how low secular Jewish knowledge is and the Halacha status of actually being Jewish in America are; I’m very excited by Sara Rivka and the other young women who volunteered as tutors for these women.

Speaking to Sara Rivka and her husband Chaim Ozer on a follow-up phone call, she explained, “No, I’m neither Chabad nor part of their outreach programs, but I do feel that we as Chassidish Jews have so much to offer them.”

“Don’t you think they look at you not only as part of a black-tinted world (from the color of the clothes to the many imposed rules) but also as a closed and unapproachable community?” I asked both of the Geldzahlers.

Chaim Ozer Geldzahler answered, “Yes, I know secular people think we are inaccessible and truthfully, they are not altogether wrong.  In some ways, we are closed.  We make it a priority to be connected to our kehillah, the community, since it is an important aspect of being Chassidish.

Chassidim have many customs that ensure that the kehillah remains impermeable but inter-connected to each other. The special clothing; hats, pants, beckeshes, shtreimels, the length of their peyos as well as participating together in sholosh shudas, tishes, and visiting the Rebbe . All for the purpose (among other reasons) to form a closely united community with strong connections to the Rebbe and most important their attachment to Hashem and

mitzvot.

Chassidim is built on the foundations of Ahavas Hashem, Ahavas HaTorah and Ahavas Yisroel. Chassidim, in general, are extremely welcoming to other communities. However, if a modern orthodox Jew came into a Chassidic shul, he would probably feel like he stuck out, just like a Chassidic Jew would feel if he showed up to a Young Israel in San Diego.

Chassidim lives revolve only around Torah education and their respective communities. This is what makes Chassidim narrow-minded, one could argue. Work is a means to live, but not the central part of one’s life or a person’s definition. A person doesn’t identify himself by what food he eats or the bed he sleeps in, so a carpenter or plumber works only for the purpose to provide food for his family. Secular education’s purpose is to provide a vocation but shunned as a value. Torah is the main focus, that and to crave God.

Also, there tends to be an assumption that Chassidim are anti-Israel. Most Haredi Jews, contrary to popular thinking, are pro-Israel borne out by the last two presidential elections where both times the ultra-orthodox communities were the ones who supported Romney in 2012 and Trump, because of their pro-Israel positions. This, however, was not seen by the secular, who did not value Israel as an important enough position to affect their vote.

That being said it is not like Chassidim don’t have anything to do with anyone else.  The Satmar who are extremely closed, have their own city, unique rules, and approach, yet, are known for their unbelievable chesed and tzedakah. Other groups are also involved in helping; however, it is the Satmar who are the leaders in the tremendous Bikur Cholim program of bringing kosher food to the hospitals for the sick and visitors, providing transportation, arranging housing arrangements, as well as, meals for Shabbos in-house hospitality.

The Satmar have, also, set up programs singling out Russian immigrants, helping them get established. They provide monetary aid for orphans until they get married. When it comes to tending to those in need and giving of tzedakah; Chassidim are not closed, not by any means!”

Chaim Ozer described how he himself had personal experience with the Satmar Rebbe. He was an orphan since he was barely ten.  He remembers how the Satmar Rebbe came to comfort him and his mother and siblings. The Rebbe personally stayed involved with Chaim Ozer’s family over many years.

Sara Rivka continues, “Yet, when parents want to explain to their children the different graduations of Yiddishkeit, children tend to understand concepts in black and white. Many times religious children can not distinguish between secular Jews and non-Jews since there aren’t any major differences they can see. They just see that secular Jews are different from themselves, and don’t know about the beauty of Judaism.  Children of Israel have the additional handicap that most goyim that they know of are Arabs, which instill more fear and condemnation.

So yes, Chassidim are closed and encourage their exclusiveness, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to share.  Our lives are so enriched, building a future, ensuring strong marriages and attachment to Yiddishkeit.

You know what ‘frum’ means right”, she interjects. “First there are the Fanatical Religious on the right. YoU are in the middle and then everyone else is too Modern’. That is how each person views their religiosity, but really all Jews are on a circle.  We each are coming from our own paths and have an equal path to forge. Everyone has their own struggles, and a course to travel to make their own connection to Hashem. Chassidim is a way to make the journey smoother.”

Chaim Ozer Geldzahler, whose pride for his wife’s kiruv activities pours out in his words, is a poet and a writer who comes from a prominent, illustrious family.  Chaim Ozer’s father, the Rosh HaYeshiva, Eliezer Geldzahler, who Chaim Ozer’s grandmother described the Rav as a ‘magical spirit who created an environment where his students engaged in all of their daily activities with fervor’ was killed in a bus accident in Eretz Yisrael at the young age of 45 in 2004, leaving Chaim Ozer and his twelve siblings and his esteemed mother.  Rav Eliezer’s grandfather was Rav Dessler. Chaim Ozer’s mother, Baila, is the granddaughter of the Bobover Rebbi, and the daughter of the famous Milwaukie Rav Michael and Rebbetzin Feige Twerski family.

Chaim Ozer’s grandmother, Rebbetzin Feige a counselor and also a prolific writer, has recently released the book entitled “Rebbetzin Feige Responds”.  She answers questions that most Chassidish Rebbetzins have surely never been asked in her own column at Aish.com.   Chaim Ozer’s family has always been involved with kiruv whether from afar or close and it is very part of his and Sara Rivka’s world.

A vort Rebbetzin Feige once had written in her column:

“Rabbi Dessler wrote; “We see life not as it is but as we are.” We all have lenses through which we perceive the world. If the lenses are transparent, we get a clear view of reality. But if they are clouded over, our view of things become myopic and distorted. The most common clouding agent that obstructs our clear vision is self-interest and ego. We can all attest to the fact that “me-ism” can delude us and cause us to rationalize the most twisted of postures, easily convincing ourselves that skewed convictions are valid and, at times, even exalted. (Our life’s purpose is) to be in touch with the true reality.”

As Sara Rivka said metaphorically, in reality,we all are on the same circle. We all need to make the journey towards the center.  It is a beautiful thing to watch her step beyond her ‘me-ism’ as she steps out of her sheltered Chassidish lifestyle and see her make an impact.

We should all be involved to help educate the uninformed, to help them find their way to the center, and sometimes that means back to the circle in the first place. We should not use our own comfort-level-zones, embarrassment, lack of time or any other excuse we all find not to get involved. And they, the interested secular students, in turn, will help us grow towards our goals as well.