web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Something From Nothing


Lessons-logo

On June 27, 2001, a single mother and her son landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel for a two-week vacation. The plan was that she would go to a seminary and he would go to day camp. Neither of them knew a soul in Israel, nor did they know any Hebrew and next to nothing about Judaism.

Six years later, to the date, nearly 200 people, mostly Israeli and mostly religious, celebrated the boy’s Bar Mitzvah at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. This is a story of spiritual rags to riches, of a good woman who has found the right path, and has learned to apply all her goodness and giving to a Torah life. And while this type of thing is not uncommon in Jerusalem, it is still wonderful to encounter further evidence of G-d’s creating something from nothing.

As the mother and son painstakingly learned the aleph-bet that first summer and said their first words of thanks to the Almighty, we, the people around them, adopted them. When the mother decided not to go back to America, we enveloped them into our hearts and into our lives.

While our children all played together, on Shabbat or during the week, we answered both routine halachic questions as well as metaphysical ones about existence, Midrash and the Land of Israel. The women helped the mother with Kashrut; the men helped the boy in shul. Seminary joined hands with ulpan, camp evolved into yeshiva for the boy – their choice of neighborhood became permanent as the family put down ever-lengthening roots.

As the years passed, we noticed that both mother and son were giving at least as much as they had been receiving. In the beginning the mother and son were invited out every Shabbat. Now she hosts Shabbat meals, lectures, concerts and other gatherings in their home. Everyone in their building knows that their apartment is open to all: Come borrow (books, anything), see (the rabbit, the giant terrace) learn (about lots of things) or lean (on her strong shoulder).

Everyone knows there is enough gas in her car for every possible contingency, whether it’s a ride to a doctor, the store or just to get a breath of fresh air. Once we drove to Ma’aleh Adumim, a lovely garden city on the edge of the Judean desert; she had never been there before. Let’s go! So we went – just like that.

She has helped people in need, having learned how to both give and receive, when she first arrived in Israel and to Judaism. Her regular volunteer work at a soup kitchen, in a poor haredi neighborhood, just barely skims the surface of a life of giving and doing for others. This is a woman who has learned enough Hebrew to help English speakers (who have lived here longer than she has) with many tasks they would otherwise not be able to complete. This is a woman who has driven around Jerusalem picking up and delivering prepared food for sick people. The list is very long.

In a valley behind the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University, the Botanical Gardens include twisting paths between trees and bushes, their Latin and Hebrew names posted on signs beside them. Hints of herbs tickle the senses. At the bottom is a lake with swans and ducks skimming the water around tall bulrushes. A breeze plays on the trees, and the band plays quiet Klezmer music. Couples arrive, wish Mazal Tov, and take a romantic walk around the lake. The children play on monkey bars at the far end, run around the lake and answer their cell phones when their parents can no longer make eye contact with them.

This venue is perfect for a family that loves to go hiking and camping during school vacations. Needless to say, they have almost always taken friends with them, whether up to the Golan Heights, down to Eilat, and everywhere else in Israel.

We daven Minchah just before a blazing sunset, and then the festivities begin. Music and lively dancing follow the speeches. There is confetti in the air.

To all the guests this is much more than a Bar Mitzvah. It is as much a tribute to the boy’s mother and their spiritual victories as it is to her son who has grown right before our eyes into a true Torah Jew. The mother has thanked us all for coming. As she speaks, we whisper around the table that it is we who should be thanking her.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Something From Nothing”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of California, Los Angeles campus.
The Red Herring of the Definition Debate
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

The common translation of the opening words of this week’s parsha, Ki Seitzei, is: “When you go out to war against your enemy.” Actually the text reads “al oyvecha” upon your enemy. The Torah is saying that when Israel goes out to war, they will be over and above their enemy. The reason why Bnei […]

Rabbi Avi Weiss

The love between Gd & Israel is deeper than marriage; beyond the infinite love of parent for child

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since giving the machatzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his income.

Today, few people fast during the Days of Selichot, but the custom is to rise early to recite Selichot.

Each month is associated with a particular tribe. The month of Elul is matched up with Gad. What makes Gad unique?

Sanctions and indictment of the Jew, holding him to a higher standard, is as common and misplaced as ever.

To allow for free will, there are times when Hashem will allow a person the “opportunity to be the messenger.”

“There is a mitzvah to pay the worker on that day,” answered Mr. Lerner.

Be happy. Be grateful. God knows what he is doing. It is all happening for a reason.

We get so busy living our lives, handling our day-to-day little crises that we forget to go that one step deeper and appreciate our lives.

The promise for long life only comes from 2 commandments; What’s the connection between them?

Mighty Amalek deliberately attacked enemy’s weakest members, despicable even by ancient standards

If we parents fail to honor responsibilities then society’s children will pay the price for our sins

Consider how our Heavenly Father feels when He sees His children adopting all other parents but Him

More Articles from Mindy Aber Barad
Lessons-logo

Some 30 years ago a certain well-known rabbi in Manhattan came to Israel and brought much of his congregation with him, to a barren ridge where our forefathers and foremothers traveled to and from Jerusalem and Hebron. The rabbi and his followers left the ravages of assimilation and headed to the unknown. The rabbi swiftly gathered in Jews from all over the world and all over Israel to the cozy town of Efrat.

It takes courage and guts for a well-known person in the Orthodox world to write a memoir, a personal account sharing chapters of her life, which include how she became frum. On May 11 in New York, Leah Kotkes, a beloved writer among her readers, will release her first book, a candid, friendly, page-turner: The Map Seeker: One Woman’s Quest.

It takes courage and guts for a well-known person in the Orthodox world to write a memoir, a personal account sharing chapters of her life, which include how she became frum. On May 11 in New York, Leah Kotkes, a beloved writer among her readers, will release her first book, a candid, friendly, page-turner: The Map Seeker: One Woman’s Quest.

Things I’ve done in Efrat that I would never do in Jerusalem:

On June 27, 2001, a single mother and her son landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel for a two-week vacation. The plan was that she would go to a seminary and he would go to day camp. Neither of them knew a soul in Israel, nor did they know any Hebrew and next to nothing about Judaism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/something-from-nothing/2007/08/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: