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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Wrapped

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For then I touch the gift, not of the bounty within, but of the Wrapper. I can almost see the formless smile, shining down with fatherly pleasure at the child ripping joyously through the wrapping paper.

Why, Tatty, why?

But even as my mind is wondering, I am reaching, and holding plumpness in my palm, and sliding my nail- no artificial implement- and bursting out the bounty, fresh and lovely-

And in that movement, I feel a caress- A soft, airy blanket, thrown over me, that you can barely see, but you can feel, and know; a coverlet of care, gently spread over me, warming my heart without my mind needing to fully understand.

Smiling inside warmed by the formless smile spreading over me as I twist and pop. Not for the gift, but for the gift of the giftwrap.

I don’t see Tatty’s face, and I don’t even look up, and I don’t even say anything in return.

But I keep on peeling garlic, clove after clove, until there is no more left to peel.

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The sounds and scents of the kitchen are cozy, familiar, but loud in the silence.

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We had just moved to Boro Park, fresh from the DP camps. The community was new and small, but we were settling in nicely. I knew how fortunate I was to have almost my whole family survive; most had so much less. Our family was a draw for many who needed that familiar feeling of home. One Shabbos afternoon I answered the door to find one such friend and a couple I did not recognize.

I didn’t need that much garlic. After all… how much garlic, exactly, could I put into the chicken without overdoing it?

But something made me leave the white, rounded head on the counter after cracking off a few bulbs, rather than putting it back in the fridge. Maybe I’d need more.

I stare, and I stare, trying to connect to those deep, seeing, eyes, to the wisdom and depth within that face. And all I can think, murmurs sliding in a circle through my mind – is, hadras panim… hadras panim… hadras panim…

“…will the kid say, ‘Oh, I’m walking into the strange house, just like Goldilocks?! Maybe the kid will think..”

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It was Moishele, and Itche, and me. We did everything together. We even made our own language, which only we understood. In shul they jokingly called us “the troika,” after the three bishops whose authority extended across Poland.

There is a rustle as boys and girls take papers from under their chairs. Jenia (Yenya) Greenberg now Reich, and her brother Leon (Leibush) Greenberg. I look down at the paper in my hand. It is a white piece of paper; a white piece full of words. A white piece of my heart. “Yenya,” Miss […]

I was a bit surprised to see my sister Rini sitting in the rocking chair at the end of the kitchen, rocking peacefully back and forth. Rini, age eleven, generally prefers more intense activities, such as bike riding, ripsticking, and yelling.

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