Thousands of young frum men and women in their late teens and early 20s will soon be returning from a year (or two or three) in Israeli yeshivas and seminaries, full of youthful exuberance and idealism. Many who had planned on going to college have changed their minds (often to the dismay of their parents) insisting that secular studies or employment are not for them. They want to be full time learners or the wife of one.
Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine, z"l, passed away on the first day of Pesach, one day before his 65th birthday. He was an erudite scholar who had received semicha from the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Theological Seminary and a PhD in economics from New York University. He was equally at home in the world of Torah and in the secular world, and thus a unique combination of Torah and chochmah, something that is increasingly rare today. Furthermore, this intellectual prowess was clothed in a mantel of extreme humility.
In my last column, I wrote about the head-scratching phenomenon of fine young men and women in their late 20's and early 30's who were as marriageable as their friends and siblings, but were still single. I wrote the article because it seemed that over Pesach, every person I met - whether a local or a visitor - representing the full spectrum of Orthodoxy, wondered if I "knew someone" for a single son or daughter, a niece of nephew or a family friend who was still in the parsha despite the fact they were so eligible and "normal."
Last month's column dealt with the observance of kashrus by Jews in America during the 19th century. Up until about 1870 German Jewish immigrants went to considerable effort to make sure they could eat kosher meat and poultry. Almost every Jewish community of more than 15 families employed a professional shochet. Smaller communities were served by volunteer shochtim. However, with the spread of the Reform movement in the latter half of the century, Jews began to abandon kashrus.
Out of all the Jewish holidays, Pesach is the one that brings far-flung family and friends together. You go to shul, for a walk, shopping or to an amusement park during chol hamoed, and to your delight you bump into friends and acquaintances you haven't seen for ages. You sit down and you shmooze and you catch up with each other's lives and share information about people you both knew from "the old days."
In Hong Kong, there are certainly some inconveniences involved in finding every last product necessary to recreate the Pesach we had in New York. But, we have found it is merely a matter of mastering logistics and advance planning. Sometimes it involves finding shlepers coming in from the States willing to take a few bulky boxes of tasteless Crispy O’s and Streits Brownie Mix in an extra suitcase. This is all part of the Hong Kong festival ritual.
Were you to play a game of word association, Pesach would immediately be connected with "cleaning "and "company" (and possibly, potatoes.) Pesach is the one holiday that magnet-like, pulls families together.
Although most of us are now focused on Pesach and rolling up our sleeves - both physically and mentally - we need to keep close to our hearts a wrenching message that was brought to the fore this particular Purim. For me and many other Jews, Purim was not "business as usual" in terms of having great fun, merrymaking and partying. Our joy was deeply tempered by the haunting images of the murdered Fogel family - a young mother, father, and three of their six children, including a three-month old infant girl - who were ruthlessly slaughtered as they slept, by Palestinian descendants of Amalek.
Originally published in The Jewish Press, January 29, 1960
During the latter part of 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, many European Jews viewed America as a treife medina (a non-kosher land) from the perspective of traditional Jewish religious observance. It was felt that it was virtually impossible to remain observant in America, and many Jews proved this was indeed the case, as they or their children abandoned much of their religious practices once they arrived in this country.
Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and possible 2012 presidential candidate, visited Israel earlier this week.
"Another day another dinar," sighed Esther as she prepared her daily infusion of Turkish coffee before leaving for her job as an assistant editor at her Uncle Mordy's business, Megillah Publishing. As usual, she turned to the classified/singles section of her favorite newspaper, The Persian Press, the largest independent Anglo-Persian weekly in the world - distributed in all 127 provinces. "Sounds interesting," she thought to herself as she glanced at an ad announcing a singles shabbaton taking place in the much buzzed about B'nai Benyamin shul that recently opened (at the cost of a million dinar) in the suburban sand dunes outside of the city. There would be tent hospitality for the guests since there was no hotel in the vicinity.
Sixty-five years is a long time. Indeed, it was not until about 1947 that a person born in that year could expect to live to at least age 65. So when one encounters a couple who have been married for sixty-five years, it is certainly worth noting.
The ghastly discovery of her brutally murdered family will haunt 12-year-old Tamar Fogel for the rest of her life. Returning to her home in the Shomron settlement of Itamar from a friend's house late Friday night, Tamar found her parents and three of her siblings lying dead in pools of blood.
In 1629 George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, applied to King Charles I for a charter to found what was to become the Province of Maryland. Tobacco had proven to be a profitable enterprise in Virginia, and Calvert was hopeful the same would prove true in this new venture. In addition, Calvert, a Catholic, hoped to found a religious haven for his co-religionists who were often persecuted in predominantly Protestant England.
Before leaving on my yearly trip to Israel, I heard the news of the passing of Irene Klass, a"h. Irene Klass was a pillar of strength in emunah, bitachon, and love of mitzvos and the Creator.
A letter to the Chronicles in Crisis column in the Magazine section of The Jewish Press a few weeks back (12-24-2010) greatly disturbed me. The writer expressed her opinion that many "older" female singles were not doing what was necessary to maximize their looks. She writes, as an example, that she was at a lecture given by a visiting rebbetzin from Eretz Yisrael and a quick glance at her fellow attendees affirmed her observation that many were "plain Janes" who were not trying to look more attractive - and hence be more marriageable.
The following article, published March 11, 1960, is the first column Dr. Mandel wrote for the newspaper.
In my previous three columns (1-7, 1-21 & 2-04-2011) I wrote about my experience with thyroid cancer - a disease that I actually had twice, almost nine years apart. I was very lucky that this is a very curable carcinoma, and even more fortunate that I never felt any real discomfort or pain from the two surgeries and radioactive iodine treatments I underwent. Even when I was very hypothyroid - a prerequisite for the radioactive iodine to have the maximum affect on any cancer cells that were not removed by the surgery - I still felt fine.
Back in the fall of 2002, nine years after my initial diagnosis of thyroid cancer - and hearing for four years that I was cured - my doctor found, to his great surprise a lump in the area where my thyroid used to be. The pathology report indicated that I had recurrent metastatic thyroid cancer.
The first ordained rabbi to settle in America, Abraham Rice did not arrive here until 1840. Before then, few men with anything more than a rudimentary Torah knowledge resided in America. One exception was Mordecai Moses Mordecai.
Veteran pro-Israel activist Herbert Zweibon, founder and chairman of Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI, passed away in New York on Jan. 20 at age 84.
It’s true. My Zionism was made in China. I grew up in New Jersey in a town that was nearly one third Jewish. Everyone on my street was Jewish. Half my soccer team was Jewish. In Synagogue, my Cantor infused every message with Zionism, as did his wife and children. To my parents this was pure mishugas.
Back in the fall of 2002, nine years after my initial diagnosis of thyroid cancer - the last four of those being told that I was cured - my doctors discovered a tumor in the area where my thyroid used to be. (My malignant thyroid been removed via surgery.)
The story of Hebrew culture in Massachusetts begins with the very foundation of the Plymouth colony, for the first Hebraists to settle in New England came over in the Mayflower. Governor Bradford, one of the Mayflower Pilgrims, was a man whose ability, character, and comparative culture raised him above his fellow settlers. His knowledge of languages is praised by Cotton Mather in the Magnalia:" he was conversant with Dutch, French, Latin, and Greek, but the Hebrew [tongue] he most of all studied, because he said he would see with his own eyes the ancient oracles of God in their native beauty."