The other day I was shopping at a large supermarket and happened to go down the frozen foods aisle, past the endless freezers containing every imaginable flavor, shape and size of ice cream. I rarely buy. Rather I am like a tourist in a museum – gawking at wondrous objects that I know I can’t take home with me.
He stood his ground despite the intense pressure to do what everyone else was doing. His integrity was more important to him than "fitting in."
There is a wise Yiddish saying that translates into this observation: "Yichus (illustrious ancestors) is like potatoes - they are both under the ground."
It truly defies logic when I am told by a relative’s machataynesta that on her block in Brooklyn there are a dozen girls in their mid to late 20’s and even 30’s who are waiting in vain for the phone to ring.
Last month, I had the privilege - and I do mean privilege – of attending an event at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Toronto hosted by the Canadian Friends of Machon Lev, the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), at which an honorary degree was bestowed on John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister.
Throughout the long dark night of our exile, when we found ourselves at the precarious "mercy" of the inhabitants of the lands we were residing in, each and every Jewish community made it their utmost priority to rescue any man, woman or child who had the misfortune to be kidnapped, captured or unjustly thrown in prison. Whether these unfortunate souls were being held by bandits, landlords or greedy officials eager for ransom money, every effort was made to free them.
Chanukah is just about upon us and Jews across the planet are looking forward to family gatherings, delicious food (you can’t feel too guilty eating oily latkes and high carb donuts on the chag – hey, it’s practically a mitzvah to do so); giving and receiving gifts and in general celebrating our survival – our spiritual continuance as God-fearing Jews. (Our physical survival is an event we acknowledge on Purim.)
Dear Readers: The following short story is fictitious, but the situation of Jewish children during the Holocaust being raised by gentile families or in Catholic convents and orphanages is not. While some were re-united with family members who survived the death camps – many were not, and remain lost both physically and religiously. This story is in memory of all the lost children. May they be reunited with their families with the coming of Moshiach.
Some of you are looking at the title of my column and wondering two things - why I am writing about B'nai Brith Canada – arguably Canada’s version of the Anti-Defamation League and why would it be of interest to anyone who does not live in that country - as most of you don't.
Over the past few weeks, I, like many of you, have received wedding invitations, and I truly hope that the young couples-to-be have chosen wisely and will enjoy long and fruitful unions.
I recently read a disturbing news article about a social phenomenon that is tragic beyond words. The article stated that more people were losing their lives by committing suicide than by car crashes. This conclusion was based on a recent study by the American Journal of Public Health based on data compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics from the years 2000-2009. Why are so many people killing themselves, or attempting to, since some try but fail? I can only imagine that they are looking for a way out of lives saturated with abject misery; they feel trapped in a cage of never-ending unhappiness.
Just days ago on Yom Kipper, The Day of Judgment, Jews gathered as one in shuls, shteibels and temples and desperately and profusely promised Hashem that we would reform our ways and improve our behaviors and actions towards Him, our Father and Creator, as well as towards our fellow man, who, being made in His image, is deserving of our respect and compassion, and of being treated as an equal, no matter their social or financial status, age or gender.
Just a few short days ago we were in summer mode, vacationing in the mountains, at the cottage, or on the road visiting family, friends or sightseeing. But with the start of September and school, we become all to aware that the Yamim Noraim - the Days of Awe – are upon us, that sobering period of time when a year's worth of our actions and activities will be evaluated by our Creator. His ultimate assessment and judgement will affect the quality and quantity of the days of our lives.
Dear Readers The grass is always greener on the other side. Or is it? Below is a fictional illustration of this human foible – focusing on the perceived benefits in another person’s life while failing to appreciate your own.
With the Three Weeks and its social restrictions as they pertain to simchas behind us, heimishe Yidden everywhere are "dusting off" their party clothes, taking their jewelry out of the safe and getting ready to attend a multitude of weddings - with some people invited out on an almost daily basis.
Dear Readers: The following short story is fictional. However, many of you will surely nod your heads in agreement as you recognize people you know - perhaps yourself - in the characters I have described. I hope in future articles, to touch on what I believe are the various psychological factors that contribute to the shidduch crisis.
Within the last few days, with weeks of summer still ahead of us, I have read and seen news reports regarding very young children who tragically drowned in backyard swimming pools, despite being in relatively close proximity to parents and other adults.
It was the Thursday before her daughter's wedding and Chana Bendiner had so much to do, so many minute details to attend to. Yet here she was in her attic, blowing the dust off a photo album that had remained buried, but not forgotten, for over 20 years. She stared at the leather-bound cover, gently caressing the embossed gold lettering, unable to open it, yet unable to put it down.
By now just about all of us are in summer mode, and Yom Tov cheesecake and blintzes are out of our minds - though not necessarily off our bodies. Nonetheless, the topic I am addressing is tied to the festival of Shavuot, as I wrote it just after the holiday had ended. (This time warp often occurs when addressing deadlines ahead of time, a necessity when I know that visiting a near minyan of pre-school grandchildren in three cities will make writing a coherent column rather challenging).
I am on a bus as I write this article and the ride will be at least 11 hours. For me, one of the big draws of traveling in a manner most would feel is quite tedious, is that several long distance bus companies offer free WIFI service. This allows me the opportunity to possibly enrich myself financially (by watching the ebb and flow of the stock market); educate myself (by reading various online newspapers, including The Jewish Press); entertain myself (downloading the many humorous, sometimes witty, satirical articles/photos/cartoons available to brighten a person’s day) or write a column, (and for a change not have the pressure of stressfully productive hours before my deadline) – all time consuming activities that should make time pass quickly.
Earlier this month, members of the Toronto Jewish community were given a rare opportunity to be visually transported back in time. The film, filmed in 1922, is called Hungry Hearts, and is based on the short stories of writer Anzia Yezierska, a Jewish woman born in Poland in the 1880s whose family immigrated to New York. Many of her writings are centered on her experiences and those of other immigrants living in the Lower East Side. Like all movies made at that time, it is silent, with dialogue conveyed by cue cards.
"In every generation they try to kill us, and the Holy One, Blessed Be He, rescues us from their hands." Every year, for centuries, Jews the world over say these words at the Seder. I paid particular attention this year as this phrase was sung by the golden-voiced Dudu Fisher, a chazzan and Broadway star, who led sedarim at Kutcher's Hotel in the Catskill Mountains.
A recent article in The Jewish Press (Purim And The Tyranny of Beauty, Family Issues, March 16, 2012) written by writer and author Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum generated, and continues to generate, quite a buzz.
The fact that you are reading this article can only mean that the gut-churning, frantic, multi-tasking marathon known as getting ready for Pesach is behind you;
Every Friday night at the Shabbat table, Jewish men display their hakarat hatov for their particular "woman of valor", by singing an ode to her that describes in great detail her many meritorious attributes and activities.