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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pesach is the time of redemption and salvation, which can often come from the most unexpected sources. Such is the story of a boxing title fight in Yankee Stadium that launched a young boy from Russia on a journey to discover his Jewish heritage in Israel.
Ever since I’ve started writing “You’re Asking Me?” people have been writing in to ask for advice, like they expect me to have all the answers. Seriously. Don’t these people have any friends? Or anyone else they can ask?
If you are anything like me, Chol Hamoed can be just the teeniest bit stressful. Okay, maybe very, very stressful. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
Although I was very aware that who I was and how I acted would seem out of place to the diverse student population at NEIU, I never really thought about how unusual their cultures would be for me.
Bat Melech, Israel’s most comprehensive network of social service for victims of domestic violence, has reached across the Atlantic for assistance, hoping to create a funding base in America in order to be able to help even more women in crisis.
Horses and buggies? Gas lights on streets? Did my mother grow up in the Dark Ages of History? She told me about living in buildings without elevators, where no apartment had its own bathroom. Years later I decided it was like my college dorm in the 1950's when I had to climb stairs to my room on the 4th floor, and a bathroom with showers was at the end of each floor’s hallway; no big deal.
The family: My name is Ora Ohana. My husband Gadi and I have eight children: Odaiya (30) who is married with four children, lives at the Ein Tzurim caravilla site; Eliyasaf (29) who is married with three children, lives in K'far Tapuah; Elyakim (27) is married with one daughter and lives in Pisagot; Hadass (26) is married with two children and lives at the Ein Tzurim caravilla site; Amitzur (21) has finished the army and learns at the Yeshiva Gevoha in Dimona; Benaya (19) will be enlisting in the army; Tamar (16), is a student at Ulpanat Neve Dekalim and No'am (12) is a student at Talmud Torah Atzmona, Shomriya.
A traditional Purim in Hong Kong requires an obligatory visit to Pottinger Street in the bustling Central District. Also known locally as Stone Step Street, Pottinger Street is more of a steep, irregularly paved pedestrian stone path (with steps too small for Western feet) than a street. My children run ahead up the stone slabs as I carefully balance my size nine feet on the thin, uneven stairs. My five year old stumbles but quickly recovers and catches up to the big kids.
At certain points in each of our lives, we are given challenges – some big, some small. Some people embrace it, welcoming every chance they get to grow and mature, while others are deathly afraid of any sort of change in their blissful, comfortable routine.
I know I’m going to be crucified, but if the appeal I make below helps even one girl in shidduchim, then it will be worth all the fury and outrage that shall inevitably descend upon my soon-to-be beleaguered head.
Tanya Rosen is the owner of Shape Fitness. She recently released a kosher, home-workout DVD for women. Dr. Natalie Zelenko is employed as a radiologist at the Cancer Center at Maimonides Medical Centers. Igor Lempert works as an actuary for New York Life. What they and thousands of others share is a life of Torah Judaism, despite having been raised in secular environments and due to the education and warmth they received at Be’er Hagolah Institutes.
This article has been moved to here: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/purim-and-the-tyranny-of-beauty-a-plea-to-mothers-of-girls-in-shidduchim/2012/03/19/ Sorry for the inconvenience.