To all of my friends who are always telling me that I should have a weekly column, this article is for you. The truth is, I love to write and would love to have a weekly column, but I have to be inspired. I am not one of those prolific writers who sit down at the computer and the words just flow. But once those inspirational juices get started, there is no telling where they will take me.
Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” – the column where people blindside me with questions, and I have to answer them, even though, oftentimes, answering questions only leads to more questions. Especially the way I do it.
The first six sections of my story have focused on my struggles adapting to a strange college environment forced on me against my will. While that story is self-contained, I thought it would be worthwhile to at least partially answer the main question my book will address: What ended up happening to me? This is a fast-forwarded account that describes my watershed moment as a college student.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently suggested that Israelis are in a “coma” and unless “unilateral disengagement” is implemented now from Judea and Samaria, it will be too late for a peace agreement once they awaken.
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?
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.