It was 1 a.m. when my daughter Shani and her friend Tehilla took a wrong turn and found themselves traveling along a dark, isolated stretch of road outside Jerusalem. A few moments later, they noticed a young bearded man dressed in a suit and black hat flagging them down. Tehilla was surprised when Shani abruptly stopped the car. Tehilla tried to dissuade Shani from giving the young man a ride, given the late hour.
Normally, I enjoy air travel. But the night before a recent flight to Los Cabos, Mexico, I developed an excruciating earache. I tried nursing it with organic eardrops, but by the time we arrived at the airport, the pain had only intensified.
This past Yom Kippur, my father, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, surprised our family by recounting a wartime Kol Nidre observance that stirred his soul.
My treasured parents loved Yiddishkeit. Their belief in Hashem was unwavering. My darling Daddy used to tell me that if I was ever afraid, I should recite the Shema. Whenever I was troubled, my precious Mommy would reassure me, "Gott vet helfen!" (God will help!).
While studying the anatomy of the heart in Machon Biotechnology in Israel, I had some thoughts: The four holiest cities in Israel - Jerusalem (fire/aish),Tzfat (wind/ruach), Chevron (earth/adamah), and Tverya (water/mayim) - seem to correspond to the four chambers of the heart.
I was writing in my home office, and the back door was open, letting the breeze waft in. It was quiet, except for a loud squawking squirrel outside. In fact, he was so loud that it sounded as if he was in the next room. I stopped typing and unsteadily dragged myself to the dining room door, terrified to open it.
For the past 10 years, I have been privileged to be part of a women's Tehillim group in Jerusalem. Every Shabbat, we meet and divide Sefer Tehillim (the Book of Psalms). We pray for the safety of our soldiers, for Eretz Yisrael, and for those injured in terrorist attacks. We also bring our individual lists of people in need of Divine assistance. We pray for women waiting to become mothers, for singles waiting to meet their spouses, for sick people waiting for good health, and for soldiers waiting to come home.
My husband and I were honored to attend a Hachnassas Sefer Torah celebration this summer at our upstate summer home in Elm Shade Estates. We have had a summer home for many years. We were always privileged to have a special, devoted friend take care of all the things that needed attention there - from ensuring that the grass was cut to keeping the shul spotless for Shabbos.
During the 1920s, a polio epidemic swept across the United Sates. My uncle, then a baby, was one of its victims. As a child, I heard the story of his recovery many times from my mother, his sister. At the time she was about 10 years old, and witnessed the miracle firsthand.
As I was sitting at the computer writing about my dream baby, I suddenly wondered, "Where is she? She is too quiet." So I turned around to see what she was doing. I had left her sitting behind me with toys to keep her busy, and she had been playing nicely. As she was no longer there I went to look for her, and found her happily sitting on the bathroom floor, surrounded by a pile of ripped tissues. Okay, back to my story. Now you might wonder who "they" are. It's those folks who come up to me and say that my baby's feet are cold without socks; her head is baking in the sun without a hat; she's too hot with that blanket over her. Oh, the joys of living in Israel, where we are all family.
When my neighbor asked me if I was missing any jewelry, I immediately thought of the gift my husband gave me 25 years ago at our wedding. In the yichud room, he presented me with a beautiful three-tone gold bracelet with diamond chips. I treasured that gift until I lost it.
I recently received an envelope from Belgium, with legal documents informing me that I was found eligible to receive Holocaust compensation. I saw this as a symbolic rectification of a bitter injustice that seemed to represent the very essence of my life. As I flipped through the pages, my mind wandered back to my childhood.
I was about 11 years old and crying on the front steps of the Bluzhever Rebbe's house. It was the late 40s, and the Rebbe had recently arrived. He miraculously survived the Nazi inferno, but lost his wife and children.
Every bar mitzvah is special, but some are more special than others. Thirteen years ago, our son was born with a rare and life-threatening condition. The first few years were touch and go. Each milestone in his life carried extra significance.
These days, even people with a bad sense of direction can travel with ease. Since the invention of the GPS, people have confidence that they will find their way.
It was the first Sunday in April when my son called with the following query: "Abba," he asked. "What's the name of the '80s music group that rediscovered one of Bob Dylan's greatest hits?" I immediately answered him. As it turned out, my son was in a car at the time with a classmate's father and the father's friend.
I live in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Just up the road from my house is Kever Shmuel Hanavi (the Prophet Samuel's tomb). This landmark is situated in a very strategic spot. It is 885 meters above sea level, affording a panoramic vista of Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. For hundreds of years, it was in Jewish hands.
I joined the Jewish Press Emunah family four years ago when I wrote about my fall down a flight of stairs while holding my granddaughter. Baruch Hashem, my 16-month-old granddaughter came out without a scratch, but I became paralyzed and needed six months of rehab. Hashem saw fit to save me, and to help me recuperate.
She walked into my husband's office, accompanied by her father. They were clearly from Israel's lower socioeconomic class. The father was a large, frightening man who reeked of alcohol, and his daughter was a recent ba'alat teshuvah.
I was visiting a shul I formerly attended during my previous marriage. My former husband worked on Shabbos, and did what he could to pull my children away from Yiddishkeit.
We were making good time on Erev Pesach. The back of our car was packed with coolers filled with homemade foods for the Seder - savory Moroccan gefilte fish balls, sweet and sour turkey balls, and trays of delicious baked goods. My husband's white kittel lay atop our suitcases, together with the afikomen toys for our grandchildren. Everything felt just right. Then we heard the sound.
It was Erev Pesach, three hours before Yom Tov. I was at the checkout counter at the local supermarket. The gentleman in front of me was trying to pay his $48 bill. I noticed that he gave the clerk a credit card that was declined. He offered a second credit card, with the same result. The saleswoman then asked the young man how he planned to pay, to which he sheepishly replied, "May I write a check?"
I recently returned from a visit to Eretz Yisrael, where I go yearly for my father's yahrzeit. As always, my husband, and my sister and her family accompanied me. On the way to the cemetery, we were fortunate to hail a taxi driver who spoke fluent English. He had made aliyah many years before from East Flatbush, where my husband and I lived.
The land of Israel's holiness features four cities that are singled out as exceptionally holy, and which are imbued with special qualities. I have had the good fortune to visit all four - Hebron, Jerusalem, Tiberias and Safed - if only for a short time. Each of these cities is associated with a particular kind of holiness, corresponding to the four basic elements: Jerusalem - fire; Hebron - earth; Tiberias - water; and, my favorite, Safed - air.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. Even the seemingly smallest of occurrences has a purpose. I recently had a doctor's appointment in Yerushalayim. Once finished, I decided to do some shopping in a nearby grocery store. This spur-of-the- moment decision led to an encounter with someone from my past, who was to teach me invaluable lessons in life.