It seems like yesterday that we were shuddering in shul on Yom Kippur, pleading with Hashem to forgive our sins, wrongdoings and transgressions. Especially those that involved unethical and mean-spirited treatment of friends, relatives and strangers alike.
Lydia Maria (nee Francis) Child (February 11, 1802-Oct. 20, 1880) was educated at home, at a local "dame school" and at a nearby women's seminary. After her mother died when she was twelve, she went to live with an older sister in Maine for some years. She is little known today, but in her time she was a famous anti-slavery activist. She was also a novelist, editor, journalist and scholar. She is best remembered for her poem "Over the River and Through the Woods," which recalls her Thanksgiving visits as a child to her grandfather's home.
"And Avraham expired and died at a good age, mature and content and he was gathered to his people." (English translation of verse 8, chapter 25, Parshat Chayai Sarah in the Book of Genesis.)
With 400,000 copies of her popular cookbooks already sold, kosher cookbook queen Susie Fishbein has become a household name. Her full-color glossy photographs and never-ending supply of innovative, upscale, and tantalizing recipes that just happen to be kosher single-handedly changed the face of kosher cookbooks forever. But it is her newly released seventh cookbook, Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-Somethings, that may be her bestselling cookbook yet.
Having been raised in a home where Yiddish was spoken as often as English, I can say with some confidence that I understand mamaloshen quite well. But I have to admit that the first time a friend, "Chaya" in a tentative, hushed voice, stated that a mutual acquaintance had "yene machlah," I was confused. I knew that she unfortunately had cancer, so why was "Chaya" saying in Yiddish, THAT illness? Why the reluctance to use the actual medical term for the disease. Why not just say it - like when someone has a stroke or a heart attack.
The week-long holiday period that includes Sukkot, Chol Hamoed, Shmini Atzeret andSimchat Torah is almost over, as are all the attendant festivities, celebrations, family gatherings and trips, and of course, all that over-eating and indulging in food and drink. Most of us will happily (or maybe not so happily) go back to being absorbed by our day-to-day routines; for the great majority, life will return to "normal."
There were Jews living during the nineteenth century who made substantial contributions to Yiddishkeit but who, unfortunately, are almost completely forgotten today. Their lives are at most a footnote in standard books dealing with American Jewish history. One such man was Dr. Simeon Abrahams, a pillar of the New York Jewish community during his relatively short life.
In a recent column I suggested that a crucial component of being in a successful relationship - whether a friendship, a marriage or in the office - was the ability and willingness to validate - if not necessarily accept - another person's "take" on a particular situation.
The scenario repeats itself over and over. You read a job listing and with each qualification they desire you become increasingly more excited - this one is in the bag. So you send off your resume and wait with hopeful anticipation that quickly morphs into self-doubting anxiety when that response fails to come. At times it may feel like your resume just sinks to the bottom of a never-ending pile, regardless of how perfect you are for the position. In actuality, however, your resume might not have even made it through the computerized screening process employers utilize, never reaching human eyes. And if it has, it may be one wrong word that landed yours in the recycle bin.
As much as we may scratch our heads in disbelief, the fact is summer is ending, (and with it hopefully, the heat). For Jews everywhere, this means that we are approaching the days in the Jewish calendar during which we take time out from the familiar flow of our daily lives to think about the things we would rather not think about, like illness, misfortune and death.
From 1654, when the first Jews arrived in North America, until 1840, when the first Orthodox ordained rabbi, Rav Abraham Rice, settled in Baltimore, American Jewry was led by chazzanim and baalei batim (private individuals) who had better than average Torah educations. These men did their best to fill the void in rabbinical leadership that characterized American Jewish life until the last few decades of the nineteenth century.
Police last week arrested a suspect in the shooting death of Yoseph Robinson, a Jamaican-born former hip-hop artist who became an Orthodox Jew (front-page story, Aug. 27).
It goes without saying that the process of getting set up on marriage-oriented dates, going out several times and eventually making the decision that "this is the one" is emotionally and even physically taxing. However, as hard as getting to the chuppah may be - being happily and successfully married is even more difficult and challenging. Two diverse individuals with distinctive mindsets, shaped by their unique experiences from the minute they were born, must suddenly mesh their way of looking at things and their way of reacting to them.
Jacob da Silva Solis was born into London's Sephardic community on August 4, 1780. He referred to himself as Jacob S. Silva. Arriving in America on October 25, 1803, Jacob almost immediately affiliated with New York's Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue (Shearith Israel). On April 24, 1811, he married Charity Hays, daughter of a Westchester County farmer. They had seven children, the eldest born in 1813 and the youngest in 1827.
The somber Three Weeks period of semi-mourning that we observed recently has been quickly replaced with the whirlwind post Tisha b'av "wedding season." With an avalanche of invitations spilling out of mailboxes, and myriad calls made regarding time and place of sheva brachot, it seems like everyone you know is joyfully making a simcha.
Way back in the "good old days" in Jerusalem, before the Jews were exiled, singles looked forward to the 15th day of Av, known as Tu B'Av. On this day, unmarried girls and boys had the opportunity to pair off and become couples. The girls, all dressed in white and in a way that none could tell who came from wealth or poverty, would dance in front of the young men, who would then choose the one who caught his eye and marry her.
The ominous Nine Days, that culminate in the somber day of mournful remembrance called Tisha B'av, will soon begin. Most people in our community have, since childhood, been warned and exhorted to be extra careful and cautious during this period of time. We are taught that these particular days have a history of being especially tragic for Klal Yisrael, with many great misfortunes having taken place over the centuries during this time of year. To that end, for example, despite the oppressive summer heat, we are not allowed to go swimming, since the potential for injury or even death is increased. Traveling is also greatly discouraged, as is any activity that has an element of risk.
In 1749 the Jews of Charleston, South Carolina established their first synagogue, Kahal Kodesh Beis Elokim (KKBE). Last month we examined the events that led some members of KKBE to establish The Reformed Society of Israelites.
In my previous column I noted how the great sage Hillel, when asked to teach the entire Torah in the time it took for a man to stand on one leg, stated without hesitation that people should not do to others what they wouldn't want done to them - and that the rest was commentary on that point.
Back in the day when I was growing up, members of the Jewish community were categorized into three groups - Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. Those who kept kosher and were shomer Shabbat were considered Orthodox. Period. How men or women dressed, their choice of head covering - or not - was irrelevant. In fact, going to public school didn't disqualify you from being viewed as Orthodox. The fact that you brought your own lunch, while everyone else lined up at the cafeteria for burgers and French fries confirmed your religious status.
Last month we traced the establishment and development of the Jewish Community in Charleston, South Carolina, and its first synagogue, Kahal Kodesh (Holy Congregation) Beth Elokim (KKBE). From its inception in 1749 the synagogue was Orthodox and followed the Sephardic ritual. (This was the case with all of the synagogues founded during colonial times.)
While some people have the extreme mazel of knowing within an hour of their date that the person sitting across from them is the "right one," the vast majority of those on shidduch (blind) dates aren't so lucky. I would guess most first dates are parve - with the consensus being, "I had a nice time, but not amazing."
Dear Readers, As a change of pace, I wrote a short story with the hope that it might provide some insight as to how young children can assess ordinary situations in a way that may be surprising to grownups.