Miri was a special child. I didn’t know that at first. She had thick, dark hair, round face, and a slow smile. “I’m six,” she said. But then I learned what it felt like when Miri wrapped her arms around you and hugged. Her face upturned, that slow smile spreading across it. Reaching her eyes, that would grow, and grow and grow, liquid ovals of brown above cheeks tinged deep pink.
After my son Moshe got married in Israel several years ago, I decided to keep in more frequent touch with my cousin Ruzah. I would call her on a weekly basis (a good opportunity to practice the Ivrit I learned in day school), speaking to a woman who was of an older, wiser generation - rendering her more like a mother. Ruzah, like all my first cousins was indeed my parents’ age, married with children before I was born. Her experiences mirrored my father’s generation, although she really was from mine. Her mother and my father were siblings and my unknown grandparents were hers.
Beginning around 1840 the Reform movement began asserting itself as a major force in American Judaism. Indeed, with the rising tide of Reform during the nineteenth century it looked as if Orthodox Judaism might disappear. Many synagogues that had been founded by observant Jews and had remained for years true to halacha found their memberships increasingly calling for the institution of reforms and the abandonment of commitment to authentic Judaism.
Yeast dough is considered one of the most basic but complicated of the dough family. Just think of the first cakes you made – I'm almost sure they weren't yeast cakes. But mine were!
I hear a beat, I know the sound I feel a skip, One that I’m used to I see a picture, But this one is new I cry of pain, Because I know this is real.
The girl that can’t cry has a heart so cold buried under frozen tears rhythm; untold.
The 21 days of semi-mourning that is collectively referred to as the Three Weeks, culminating with the fast day of Tisha b’Av - the ultimate day of mourning in the Jewish calendar - begins in a few short days. During this period of time Jews reflect on the myriad of tragedies that have befallen us since the destruction of the Holy Temple and our subsequent exile.
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.
The importance of death customs has been ingrained in me since birth. When I served as a shomeret for my grandmother, I was instructed not to eat, drink or perform a mitzvah in the same room. In the shock of death, it seemed rather inane to be told it would be considered mocking the dead. My grandmother was gone; she couldn’t do those things because she didn’t exist anymore, a fact that still makes me tear up.
I would have to say that one of the most annoying things about having a newspaper advice column, aside from all these people writing to me and asking for advice, is that they frequently don’t tell me WHY they’re asking.
Another tree is down. I’m driving down Lakewood Avenue, figuring that maybe, just maybe, the tree that blocked the middle of North Lake Drive has been removed, and I can go through. After all, they had a whole day. I’m sure things have been taken care of.
It's hard to believe that June is finally here, but one look through the day's mail is enough to convince me that the school year is almost over and summer will be here before I blink. What makes me say that? The plethora of large cream envelopes, addressed in calligraphic letters, bearing stamps with pictures of creamy white roses.
A popular topic of discussion in newspapers, magazines and talk shows revolves around the management of personal finances - or rather the lack of them. In most cases, dealing with overwhelming debt is the topic de jour. Seems many people are drowning in it. Spending more than they have has mired countless consumers into a financial quicksand with maxed out credit cards and collection agencies knocking on the door. Speaking of doors, many face eviction and the loss of their home.
Last month we sketched the life of Manuel Josephson (1729-1796), who immigrated to New York in the 1740s. Manuel was one of the few learned Jews residing in America in the 18th century. His talents were recognized by Congregation Shearith Israel, and he served on the synagogue’s bet din for several years and as its parnas (president) in 1762. He earned his living as a merchant.
The tear is rolling down my cheek. It lands atop my lips. I lick my lips to remove the dryness and the saltiness soaks into my tongue. I take a long deep breath and begin to think. Why? How could she do that to me? We’re best friends. We’ve known each other practically since we were born. How could she go and do such a horrible thing?
Nearly half a million of them fought in Red Army uniforms, under communist slogans but with a personal vengeance that was solely the result of Jewish experience. More than the “Greatest Generation,” they were the living superheroes hidden in plain sight.
With the semi-mourning period of Sefira behind us, and the festival of Shavuot as well (as evidenced by the tightness of our clothing due to over-indulging in irresistible versions of cheesecake that is an integral component of celebrating our receipt of the Torah), our community can look forward to participating in joyous engagement parties and weddings.
Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
You have probably been planning your marriage since you were about three. Let’s fast-forward to a big milestone– your twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. (Don’t worry, you don’t look a day over twenty one!) Now, would you appreciate your husband buying you a dozen roses that some florist recommended?
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.
Welcome back to “You’re Asking Me?” where we attempt to answer questions sent in by people who fortunately have fake names, so they won’t be embarrassed. I don’t know how they got through school, though.
One of the subjects I was taught as a young child in school was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Ivrit during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies - literature, creative writing and Jewish history - we pretty much understood the words we were davening.
The overwhelming majority of Jews who came to America before the Revolutionary War did not have an extensive Jewish education. One exception was Manuel Josephson (1729-1796), who was born and educated in Germany. His extensive knowledge of Judaism qualified him to serve on the beis din of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York.
It was September 25, 2006. Tammy, an oblivious, petite, third grader lay in bed, counting her stationary collection, when she decided she needed a drink. As she descended the staircase, she was surprised to see her mother dressed in this bubby-like gown.
Shortly before Pesach, I received a rather agitated call from a long time reader of The Jewish Press who pleaded with me to write a column regarding what she insisted was the unwarranted high cost of Pesach food – in particular shmurah matzah – and how hard it was for young families to pay what she felt were over-inflated prices in order to keep strictly kosher.