Ah, the lazy, hazy days of summer. Long afternoons sitting in a lounge chair, sipping a tall glass of iced lemonade as you enjoy the latest novel, a gentle breeze caressing your face…is there anything like it? No, there most certainly is not.
This is in no way intended to dampen the enthusiasm of kallahs flush with excitement over their upcoming nuptials, but who hasn’t heard a “lost diamond ring” story or, for that matter, experienced firsthand the traumatic loss of a precious piece of jewelry?
The Jewish population of the United States in 1860 was somewhere between 150,000-200,000. Approximately 3,000 Jews fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War while 7,000 were found on the Union side.
A week- seven days. That’s how long I spent in the dustbin of Jewish History that is Poland. I went there to learn about, and to see first hand, the country that housed the absolute horrors of the Holocaust, but I also went to see the places that had once housed such rich Jewish life. As such the trip focused, in my opinion, on three aspects of Jewish life in Poland: pre-war, the Holocaust years and then post-war.
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.
This is not my story at all. But when I heard it from Avigayil Madmoni, formerly Gin Lin Lug, a Chinese convert, I gained a new view of what Torah means to me. I know for sure, as anyone who has ever met this very charming, sincere, lovable young woman will agree with me, that Avigayil is my sister like any other Jew and that she surely stood at Har Sinai -- together with my ancestors and the souls of their descendants, namely me and all the Jews alive today, and who have ever lived, since the giving of the Torah.
Rivkah Bloch grew up in Telz (Telsiai), a historic township and renowned Torah center in north-west Lithuania. In 1939 the Jews of Telz numbered about 2,800, some 28 percent of the population. Rivkah’s paternal grandfather Reb Yosef Leib Bloch, (1849-1930) zt”l, also known as Maharil Bloch, was a distinguished personality and a prominent scholar and educator. Besides his position as town rabbi, he headed the great Yeshivah of Telz that his father-in-law Rav Eliezer Gordon, zt”l had founded. Its student body numbered around 400 students in 1900.
Whenever I got praised for an achievement, I feel like I should say that half the praise goes to my parents. Although they can get on my nerves, I am really blessed with a mother and father who have molded and shaped me (by any means necessary) to become a successful human being.
It’s tough to catch some glam in an otherwise pretty non-glamorous life. In the 21st century, who isn’t overstressed, overwhelmed and overbooked? The roles...
This past December 5, I became a Savta again. My mother always told me not to count my grandchildren, so I won't. Suffice to say, Baruch Hashem, our little tribe has expanded greatly since our first granddaughter, Aleeza, was born eight years ago. And since they all came on the scene, my husband Lou and I have spent countless hours enjoying them.
Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” – a humorous advice column that is pretty much like any other advice column, except in terms of helpfulness. Like all other advice columns, we try to answer your questions, but if you stump us, we say, “That’s beyond the scope of this article,” and we move on with our lives. That’s a nice way of saying, “We have no idea. There are people you can pay by the hour for this sort of thing.”
"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.
Huge plush teddy bears greet me as soon as I walk through the door. Puzzles line the shelves along with boxes of Lego and dress-up clothes. Every few inches another toy. Another game. Another child’s dream.
From the gmail statuses and e-mail forwards I get, it seems like everyone has some idea of what true friendship is all about.
With spring in full swing and the hazy days of summer beckoning on the horizon, our thoughts turn towards lighter meals that rely more heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables - particularly for those of us who find that despite our best efforts, we really managed to pack on the pounds over Pesach. While your local supermarket may boast an amazing array of produce, and the nearest gourmet store may feature dazzling displays of fresh fruits and vegetables, there is simply nothing that can compare to the taste of home grown. The fact that growing your own produce can save a bundle of money, makes the taste of your home grown bounty that much more delicious.
I watch in wonder as four teenagers grab chairs around a table at a local café. They seem to be friends, or at least fond acquaintances, all joining together for a ten-day Birthright tour of Israel. I watch these boys from a balcony above, and I observe that immediately upon sitting down, three of the four boys at the table proceed to reach for their laptops. The fourth boy didn’t seem to have one with him and attached himself to his friend’s laptop. They immediately logged into their Facebook accounts and spent the remainder of their meal connecting to friends in their respective countries.
Usually Jewish history books deal with those who have made their mark by doing extraordinary things. While such people obviously are important, there are those who may not have enjoyed much fame yet whose efforts and accomplishments were crucial to maintaining Yahadus in their community. Two such men are Henry S. Hartogensis and his son, Benjamin H. Hartogensis, who devoted their lives to the Jewish community of Baltimore.
I do not dress like the average Orthodox man in my Brooklyn neighborhood. It’s not that I’m trying to make a statement by often going hatless and wearing blue and brown suits, it’s just that in becoming religious I have changed so much - there are certain things I don’t want to give up, especially since my religion doesn’t truly ask me to do so.
Jews all over the world celebrate Israel's Independence Day - even those who have no intention of ever coming on aliyah, and many of whom have never even visited Israel. "It's a kind of insurance policy" one overseas friend told me. "By supporting Israel financially and emotionally, I know that its sanctuary is available to me or my children or grandchildren should the need ever arise."
For Israel's Anglo olim (immigrants), the name Givat Shmuel conjures up a marriage scene to rival that of New York's Stern University for Women. Home to hundreds of young English-speakers studying at the adjacent Bar-Ilan University, Givat Shmuel has produced a vibrant, growing community of overseas students – and a reputation for their enthusiastic coupling. Each year, the community watches as many new couples are formed, engagements are announced and weddings are celebrated.
Everyone, at least one time in his or her life, gets knocked down, and most of us have trouble getting back up. Let’s face it – we all get depressed at times. Sometimes we get stuck in a funk and we don’t know how to get out of it, especially if we’re constantly being knocked down. Eventually, we don’t even want to get up anymore. Why should we get back up, just to get knocked down again?
While things might have seemed very strange in this foreign college environment, especially because I was tossed in without any roadmap to help me navigate and understand the kinds of things I was seeing all around me, there was one area I was not worried about: academics. Northeastern Illinois has a rather derogatory nickname, “Northeasy," and it does not have a very good academic reputation. I didn’t think my classes would be very hard at all.
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.
In February, Chessed Yad L’Yad, Kiryat Mattersdorf’s local chesed organization, celebrated forty years of active involvement in the community. Beged Yad L’Yad, the Hand-Me-Down Pass-Me-On clothing gemach, was a natural subsidiary, especially with dozens of Anglo-Saxon families receiving clothing packages from abroad.
Less than two weeks before Pesach and days after the Toulouse tragedy, where a woman lost her husband and two sons in a terrorist attack, my son and I were discussing another horrible tragedy that had befallen a family in Rehovot, a young woman who had lost her husband and five young children in a fire.