A few weeks ago, while I was in Yerushalayim, we had the privilege of premiering our new film, "Hineni's Triumph of the Spirit." The Jerusalem Plaza, where the film was screened, had lines that snaked up the stairs and through the lobby. Over 1,000 people had gathered; unfortunately we couldn't accommodate everyone. People were standing and sitting on the floor, but you could have heard a pin drop as the story unfolded. The film depicts my family's experiences during the war years - Hungary, prior to the Nazi occupation, the ghettos.... and our deportation to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
In preparation for the Yamim Noraim, last week I focused on Mitzvos bein Adam L'Chavero - interpersonal relationships that are often overlooked, such as the escalation of chutzpah, that has become emblematic of our society.
There's a popular adage that tells us not to sweat the small stuff. I always thought that it meant we should not make an issue out of insignificant incidents that impinge on our kavod. When we are victims, we should categorize all this as "small stuff" and the best way to deal with it is to forgive, forget and move on.
With every passing day our world becomes more menacing. Events are unfolding so rapidly that we can't absorb them. The news is mostly ominous, be it local or international, situations are occurring that could not possibly have been anticipated.
Three years ago, I fell down a flight of stairs while holding my 16-month-old granddaughter. While she, Baruch Hashem, did not have a scratch, I unfortunately became totally paralyzed. After three weeks of physical therapy in the hospital and six months of outpatient therapy, I was able to recover about 75 percent of my mobility. I had some residual damage, but I learned to live a normal life - driving, working and doing whatever was necessary. I never complained because I was thankful that Hashem had saved my granddaughter and me.
Our Sages teach, "There is no comparison between hearing and seeing." To be in Eretz Yisrael is not only to pray at the holy sites or go touring, but to be in Eretz Yisrael also demands that we express solidarity with our beleaguered brethren, and demonstrate our support so that they may know that we are with them.
I have just returned from Eretz Yisrael. Hineni tours are life-transforming experiences - those who are secular become Torah committed, and those who are already observant reach a new plateau in their emunah and love of Hashem. The change commences from the moment we set foot in the Holy Land.
Friday was a hectic day. The night before, I had been rushed to the emergency room after feeling unwell. I was released early in the morning, and was given a copy of my EKG. I brought the EKG results to my cardiologist first thing in the morning.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I come from a solid, yeshivish family. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are all "Torahdik" people. Most of my friends have similar backgrounds, and when the time came for me to go to seminary in Yerushalayim, I was most fortunate to be accepted with my friends at a great school. I had an amazing year in learning and in inspirational experiences. An entire new world opened up and I loved every minute of being in Yerushalayim. Now that I am back in New York, I truly miss Eretz Yisrael and feel sad not to be there. It was probably one of the happiest years of my life.
I had no way of seeing it coming - a "quick" traffic light and I was caught in the middle of a sea of cars. The second I started to run I was horrified to see the car closest to me race in my direction. I felt doomed. The few seconds it took me to run past the car were filled with the terrible thought, "This is it. That car is going to hit me."
Special Note: In last week's column I wrote about the seemingly inexplicable events that are unfolding throughout the world. How do we understand the demonization of Israel, the new escalation of anti-Semitism, and the preponderance of Islamic terrorists throughout the world?
The tickets were purchased and the car service was confirmed for the following morning. Our valises were packed and stood sentry at the front door. We tried to catch a few hours of sleep before our early morning departure.
Tzippy wandered around the Jerusalem mall, where she had planned to meet her daughter. She was not really in the mood for this excursion, but her daughter had insisted on it.
As I write these words I am on my way to Toronto for a commemoration of the martyrs of Mumbai. Rabbi Moshe Steiner, the local Chabad Rabbi who organized the program, informed me that Rabbi Holtzberg, the father of Gaby and father-in-law of Rivkah Holtzberg, martyrs of Mumbai, would also be there for the occasion.
I feel privileged to share with you the story of the creation of our new film, "Triumph of the Spirit." For the longest time I have felt that there is a terrible void in Holocaust films and memorials. The epic story of the mesiras nefesh, the boundless sacrifice, that our people made in clinging to Torah and mitzvos - the devotion with which they served Hashem during one of the darkest moments in the annals of mankind has yet to be told.
Twice a year my apparel company has an exhibition at The Sands Expo Convention Center, drawing buyers from around the world. During the week of the exhibit, we daven at the Venetian Hotel every morning at 6:30.
What do a shoe, handkerchief, and pen have in common? For English buffs, they all contain an "e." Let's try in Hebrew: What do na'al, sudar, andeit have in common? They all begin in alphabetical order: Nun, Samach, and Ayin. OK, but better.... in Choshen Mishpat, these are the classic items for "Kinyan Chalipin." Let's try in Hebrew: What do na'al, sudar, andeit have in common? They all begin in alphabetical order: Nun, Samach, and Ayin. OK, but better.... in Choshen Mishpat, these are the classic items for "Kinyan Chalipin."
Special Note: Several weeks ago, I published a letter from a young father, Akiva Shapiro. Many years ago, Akiva discovered the world of Torah through Hineni. He not only became part of our organization, but a leader and an activist. I was also privileged to introduce him to his aishes chayil- his soul mate, and today, he and his lovely wife are the proud parents of a beautiful family.
He sat in his prison cell sulking. I'll call him Steven. Time was playing tricks on him. It seemed like only yesterday, but at the same time like a lifetime ago, that he was married to a wonderful woman and had children who were the joy of his life. He had a high-powered job on Wall Street and luxuries that the average person couldn't imagine.
The beautiful Yom Tov of Shavuos has passed, but our Yamim Tovim never fade. We are charged to carry them with us throughout the year. While this holds true for all our Yamim Tovim, it is especially valid for Shavuos. This is the one day for which our Torah does not designate a specific time or date. Shavuos is "Z'man Matan Toraseinu," the season of receiving our Torah, and that is an eternal happening, which every one of us must re-experience and relive every moment of our lives. "Not with our forefathers alone did Hashem seal the Covenant, but with us, we who are here, all of us alive today (Deuteronomy 5).
In last week's column I responded to the mother/grandmother who wrote about the escalation of chutzpah on the part of the young vis-à-vis their parents. In my answer I suggested that we have adopted some 21st century attitudes that not only countenance this obstreperous behavior but actually endorse it. I also mentioned that while we may take certain consolation in knowing that our sages predicted what we are experiencing today, nevertheless, it does not mean that we of the Torah community should countenance it. Chutzpah toward parents/grandparents, teachers and elders in any shape or form is unacceptable.
Around a year ago my wife and I were having a Shabbos meal at the home of our friends, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Gershon and Chana Rachel Schusterman of Los Angeles. The rebbetzin was telling us about how our Jewish names are Divinely inspired.
I have always felt that Hashem's Will was my will. I always accepted everything, telling myself that everything was for the best. I trusted that it was Hashem's Will. It was and still is. I always accepted everything, telling myself that everything was for the best. I trusted that it was Hashem's Will.
In my last two columns I published a letter from a mother/grandmother who felt very saddened and discouraged at the shameless chutzpah that marks today's parent-child relationship. In the first segment of her letter, she cited the disrespectful conduct of children, and in the second, she gave examples of the deplorable behavior of young adults - even married couples.
In last week's column I published the first part of a letter written by one of our readers who related that this past year, circumstances had compelled her and her family to go away for Yom Tov, but she was terribly embarrassed by the behavior of many of the people in her group.