Awake, awake! Dress up in your vigor, Zion! Dress up in your garments of glory, Jerusalem, City of holiness... (Isaiah 52:1)
While there is no doubt that a bat mitzvah is an opportunity to celebrate a milestone date in a pre-teen girl's life, much of the emphasis is on the bat, the guest of honor herself. While many soon to be twelve year old girls focus on their clothing, hair, invitations, menu and color scheme, it is refreshing to see how many spend an equal amount of time addressing the mitzvah aspect of this event, by integrating a special project, designed to benefit others, into the festivities.
When I started to speak and my words drowned in tears, it was she who comforted me.
It all started when she graduated from high school. Laura Faiwiszevski, born in West Orange, New Jersey like a number of her schoolmates, planned to spend a year of studying in Israel before entering university. Laura chose “Emuna V’Omanut” (Faith and Art), a program for American students set up by the Emunah Women Organization that focuses on a combination of Torah study and art training — a choice of music or visual arts.
Every vicious anti-Semite has a personal agenda. The anti-Israel assertions of Alice Walker, nationally celebrated feminist author and political activist, in her latest book are much too shrill to pass for your household pro-Arab hate speech.
You planted melodies in me, my mother and my father, Melodies, forgotten hymns. Here I listen to my distant lullaby, Chanted from mother to daughter. Here will sparkle in tears and laughter “Lamentations” and Sabbath tunes. It’s within me that your faraway voices teem. My eyes I’ll close and I am with you Above the darkness of the abyss.
This past Lag B'Omer, we were blessed to make our first upsherin, where we celebrate our son’s first hair cut. It’s a wonderful milestone that mimics the three years that we refrain from plucking a tree’s first fruits and symbolizes the entry of the child into the world of Torah learning. It’s a clear sign to everyone; this boy is no longer a baby.
She was a voice on the telephone, a pleasant, friendly voice: “How can I help you?” I had heard this question in the past five weeks more time than I care to remember. As soon as I explained what my quest was the questioner would switch me to another voice on the telephone, then onto another, and another, without any results. This went on daily ever since we moved to a new apartment and wished to have our landline telephone number reinstated, instead of the temporary one arbitrarily assigned by the company.
An enormous crowd of admirers turned up at her recent funeral. From members of government to those in the arts and sciences, all came to pay their last respects to the beloved author. Minister of Culture Limor Livnat expressed her deep sorrow, and called her "the greatest writer for children and youth in the history of Hebrew literature,” elaborating: “Devora Omer gave unusual expression to values of Zionism and made them an important part of our lives."
It's all over. The orchestra is still, the lights are dimmed. Your simcha outfits hang in your closet, silent witnesses to a time you will treasure in your mind and heart forever.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society - from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
As I mentioned in my earlier articles about our family trip to Israel, our night flight went pretty smooth, thanks to my children’s willingness to sleep throughout the flight. I, on the other hand, didn’t sleep a wink and I wasn’t feeling too great by the time we landed. But we were finally in Israel, and just being in the beautifully renovated Ben Gurion airport and hearing all the Hebrew around us was exciting enough.
While all the flowers that grace your Shavuos table will surely be a delight to your eye, these will be a delight for your palette as well. Create them at any level, simple or sophisticated; any way you make them they’re sure to be a sensation.
If you have high school aged kids, chances are that very soon you are going to start seeing the warning signs. The pale, nervous faces. The eyes, ringed by dark circles due to lack of sleep. The irritability, tinged with impending hysteria. That's right, finals are coming and your normally moody, unpredictable and volatile teenager is about to become moodier, more unpredictable and volatile beyond belief.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the famous “Iron Lady,” often said that her greatest accomplishment was not her work in helping to topple the Soviet Union or being the first British woman to hold the post of prime minister, but rather her efforts “to save a Jewish teenager in Austria from the grasp of Hitler’s terror.”
The day after graduating Brandeis University, Sara Yocheved Rigler joined a Vedanta ashram in the woods of eastern Massachusetts. She would never have guessed that the fifteen years she spent there were going to be stepping stones on her path to becoming a world-renowned writer and lecturer on Jewish topics and the initiator behind three programs designed to impact the lives of Jewish women all over the world.
It happens to all of us. I call them “kitchen mishaps” and they can range from the small to large. Sometimes they come in extra small and other times they might be XXL just like our clothes sizes. But as I said, they happen to us all.
“I’m no heroine. I only did what any moral person would do,” Irena Sendler protested with understated modesty. “I simply tried to help the people in need.”
Last month, I discussed our tumuloutous family trip to Israel and the many mistakes and some smart moves we made along the way. Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes and incorporate the lessons we learned in your own family trips.
I know this is supposed to be a consumer column, but let's face it. We have all just spent the last few weeks preparing, cleaning and shopping until our credit cards begged for mercy and our family members have started wondering if Windex is our new signature scent. The last thing anyone wants to be thinking about right now is buying more stuff, making home improvements or otherwise planning ahead.