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.
When people hear the term "lashon hara", they automatically associate it with gossip. Speaking about someone behind their back to others, usually in a manner that is denigrating and unflattering, often describing alleged activities or doings that put the subject of the discussion in a rather negative light. This is the ultimate interpretation of lashon hara.
Purim is just a few days away, and Jews young and old are gearing up to celebrate this most festive of holidays, during which all will eat, drink and nosh merrily and in great relief over our come-up-from-behind triumph against a vicious Jew hater whose goal was to annihilate the Jewish people, but who instead had the tables turned against him in a dramatic and unforeseen manner. Sadly, bullying is alive and well in the 21st century afflicting all societies and the individuals that comprise them. For those who think that our heimishe communities have been spared the scourge of bullying - it's time to get their head out of the cholent.
If certain elements of the charedi community have issues with the way women dress, let them figure out a way to alleviate their obvious spiritual and mental distress in a way that does not encroach on other people’s rights. It's their problem - they need to resolve it, instead of demanding that a huge segment of society change their lives and the way they do things just to accommodate them.
A friend of mine recently came back from visiting her son and his family in Israel. As a bunch of her friends joined her for coffee and an update – several of them also have children who made aliyah - she shared with us her frustration at not being able to communicate with her school-age grandchildren.
Every Friday evening, in Jewish homes across the world, the question is asked, "Eishet chayil mi yimtzah – The woman of valor, where can she be found?"
Charedi rabbinical leaders in Israel, and I imagine globally, are greatly perturbed, even horrified by the “chumrah” some Orthodox Israeli women have taken upon themselves – that of covering their bodies up in a manner similar to traditional Muslim women, who wear head to toe, shroud-like black burkas.