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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘afternoon’

Wakeup Call (Midot 1:9)

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

At about 4 a.m. on cold and damp autumn mornings in London, Dad would try to wake us in time for Selichot, the pre-Jewish New Year dawn prayers. As we heard Dad’s footsteps mounting the stairs, my brother and I would hide under our covers and mutter our displeasure at being disturbed.

Eventually, after a few more tries and realizing that the futile attempt to get us out of bed was only making him late, Dad would turn at the front door of the house, deposit the prayer books on the sofa and announce in a voice, loud enough to wake us up again, “Seliches on the couch!”  Then the front door would bang and Dad would disappear into the cold, wet night. We would surreptitiously emerge from under our covers. All clear. Peace at last!

Dad never criticized us for our sloth. But years later, reading about how the kohanim sprang into action in the wee hours of the morning to conduct the preparations for the daily Temple service known as the korban tamid and how they raced each other to the front of the line to be the first to report to duty, I realized I’d better clean up my act before Mashiach came.

In fact, the kohanim were so eager to be on time that they slept the night before on the marble surfaces of one of the chambers of the Temple known as bet hamoked, the House of Fire situated on the north side of the azarah, the Temple courtyard. The bet hamoked was built into the wall of the Temple so that half of it protruded into the azarah and half into the har habayit, the Temple Mount, situated outside the Temple.

The bet hamoked was permanently warmed by an open fire, which served the dual purpose of keeping the kohanim warm and providing a backup source of fire for the altar. It had an interior door leading into the azarah at its southern end and an exterior door leading outside to the har habayit at its northern end.

A staircase in the bet hamoked led down to a subterranean tunnel, which ran under the Temple to a mikveh situated outside of the Temple where the kohanim could immerse themselves at night in preparation for the morning service.

Long before dawn broke, there was a knock on the outside door of the bet hamoked. The kohen hame’muneh, the boss responsible for supervising the preparations for the korban, had arrived. The kohanim were prepared for his arrival. They had already changed out of their bedclothes and donned their priestly garments. They were eager to participate in the korban tamid activities.

The korban tamid was offered up every morning and every afternoon, including Shabbat. The korbanot tamid served as the bookends for all the other korbanot that were brought during the day. No other offering could be brought before the korban tamid of the morning or after the korban tamid of the afternoon.

Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. The writer can be contacted at rafegrunfeld@gmail.com.

Literacy Illuminated (Part II)

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Like most first grade classrooms, the one I was observing had students with multiple reading levels. Accordingly, the head teacher had divided the students into different groups so that they could practice skills that were relevant to all members of the small group. First, I sat in the “high level” group. The students, even though they were only in first grade, were beginning to read Richard and Florence Atwater’s whimsical novel Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Shmuel, a freckled redhead, began to read aloud to his classmates as they looked on in their own copies of the book,

“It was an afternoon in late September. In the pleasant little city of Stillwater, Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home from work. He was carrying his buckets, his ladders, and his boards so that he had a rather hard time moving along. He was spattered here and there with paint and calcimine, and there were bits of wallpaper clinging to his hair and whiskers, for he was a rather untidy man.”

Shmuel read the piece flawlessly, even pronouncing “calcimine” with ease. However, his voice was monotonous, he barely paused at the periods, and his intonations reflected no understanding of the text he was reading. His groupmates followed along silently, but they too seemed unaffected by the humorous portrayal of the messy Mr. Popper. What was going on with these “high level readers?” They seem to have mastered reading the words off of the page, but have little appreciation or understanding of the literature they are reading.

In my last article, I explored the merits of phonics and sight-reading in fostering reading skills. Regardless of the method used, the goal of both phonics and sight-reading is to allow readers to progress to the next level. After they have learned how to decode words, children can move on to comprehension and fluency. Shmuel and his groupmates seem to be adept at decoding the words on the page, but have little or no understanding of the text they are reading. Are these truly high level readers?

Reading Without Comprehension – An Exercise in Frustration

Many children who learn to read the words before they understand the meaning behind them will lack comprehension even as they mature as readers. Scholastic Press, an expert teaching source, explains that comprehension is not simply in the text, but rather that “reading is a ‘transaction’ in which the reader brings purposes and life experiences to bear to converse with the text. This meeting of the reader and the text results in the meaning that is comprehension. Comprehension always attends to what is coded or written in the text, but it also depends upon the reader’s background experiences, purposes, feelings, and needs of the moment. That’s why we can read the same book or story twice and it will have very different meanings for us.” Therefore, students need to actively engage in comprehension strategies in order to understand and ultimately enjoy what they read.

Research has shown that very early readers who have little or no comprehension of what they are reading derive trivial pleasure from reading. As they develop, if comprehension does not improve, these “advanced” readers will grow to dislike reading, as it is simply a repetition of hollow and meaningless words.

What are some strategies that aid comprehension?

Making connections: Children can make connections with the text by using their own background information. Creating these connections helps the student understand where this book falls in the knowledge that they have already mastered. There are three main types of connections that children can make:

Text to self: connections between the text and the reader’s personal experience.

Text to text: connections between the text and another text the reader has read.

Text to world: connections made between the text and something that occurs in the world.

Questioning: Questions help students clarify and deepen their understanding of the text they are reading. There are many different types of questions: vocabulary words, predictions (what will happen next), compare and contrast, and cause and effect.

Visualizing: Visualizing occurs when readers create mental pictures of the text they are reading. Visualization helps students engage in the text in a personal and memorable manner. As they continue to read, the pictures continue to change with the changing personality traits of the different characters.

Remember, expert readers automatically employ these reading strategies without even realizing it. Once students are taught to use these strategies, they will become second nature.

Fluency: When Speed Matters

Once students begin to master the skill of comprehension, fluency becomes the next key indicator of a child’s reading ability. Fluency is the ability to read aloud expressively and with understanding. When fluent readers read aloud, the text flows in a regular and clear manner, rather than sounding choppy and halting. Without fluency, the world of imagination, humor, and drama contained in the finest books is no more than a tangle of words.

Remembering Bobby Thomson

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Those of us who were around then will never forget that afternoon 59 years ago.

 

It was after school and I was watching the end of the final game of the Dodgers/Giants playoffs with three of my young yeshiva elementary school classmates at my house. Brooklyn broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth inning by scoring three runs, causing my friends to give up on the Giants and trot out to the playground.

 

I decided to stick with the Giants. After all, they’d been some thirteen and a half games behind the Dodgers on August 12. A 16-game winning streak propelled the Giants to win 39 of their last 47 games and tie Brooklyn after the last regular season game, forcing a three-game playoff.

 

It came down to the final inning of the final game and I was still fascinated by the big, boxy black-and-white television with the small screen capturing the proceedings from the horseshoe-shaped Polo Grounds across the Harlem River from Yankee Stadium.

 

The Giants opened their last inning with two singles before Monte Irvin popped out. Whitey Lockman doubled to score a run, which sent a runner to third and pitcher Don Newcombe to the showers. With the score 4-2 and runners on second and third, Dodgers manager Charlie Dressen brought in pitcher Ralph Branca to face Bobby Thomson.

 

Thomson battered the third pitch he saw that late afternoon, sending Brooklyn into mourning. It became the most historic, most meaningful home run ever hit. It won the pennant for the Giants and ended the season for the Dodgers.

 

Ernie Harwell, a broadcaster for the Giants at the time, voiced the events for NBC on national television while Russ Hodges’s famous local radio call survived the years because a fan decided to tape Thomson’s at-bat on his big reel-to-reel tape recorder.

 

 

Irwin Cohen took this photo of Bobby Thomson as they chatted

on the eve of the 1983 All Star game at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

 

 

The home run turned Thomson into an iconic hero and branded Ralph Branca. No two players would ever handle their roles in history better. Their linkage became the basis of a great friendship.

 

When Thomson died at 86 recently, Branca used words like, “kind,” “gentle,” “thoughtful” and “humble” to describe Thomson’s makeup. I met Thomson a couple of times on the baseball beat and was always impressed with his demeanor. He had time for everybody, was engaging, well dressed, and always had a smile.

 

   Besides the famous playoff home run, Thomson hit 32 round-trippers in 1951, posted 101 RBI and batted .293, so he was a lot more than a one-time hero. He hit 264 homers over a 15-year big-league career that included stays with the Milwaukee Braves, Cubs, Red Sox, Orioles and another stint with the Giants. His teammates included Hall of Famers Mel Ott, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Ernie Banks, Ted Williams and Brooks Robinson.

 

*     *     *

 

A great addition to my baseball DVD collection is “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story.”

 

The 91-minute presentation narrated by Academy Award winning actor Dustin Hoffman, features numerous interviews with former Jewish players – including Sandy Koufax, who rarely dies this sort of thing.

 

 Also included are interviews with people no longer with us such as Hank Greenberg. The interviews and recollections include excellent newsreel footage. I consider myself a historian and own over a hundred hours of old newsreel and other footage on DVD’s but this included some I had never seen before.

 

Also great is the showing of each of Shawn Green’s four home runs in one game, fantastic interviews of Al Rosen, who like Koufax ended his career much too early. Marv Rotblatt, one of my favorite Jewish players of the Bobby Thomson era, talks about being the smallest pitcher in the big leagues and pitching to Ted Williams.

 

The one tiny error was when narrator Hoffman said the Dodgers left Brooklyn after the 1958 season (t was a year earlier). If I were directing, I would have changed the nightclub-type female singer doing her rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the showing of the ending credits and would have substituted Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly doing their Vaudeville song and dance routine from the 1949 movie “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

 

“Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story,” is distributed by 7th Art Releasing; its publicity is being handled by PR maven Marty Appel.

 

 

 

The author of seven books, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years before embarking on a front office career earning a World Series ring. Cohen, who is president of the Detroit area’s Agudah shul, may be reached in his dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.

Snacking Right – A Tough Nut To Crack

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

             Post-Pesach many of us begin making promises to ourselves in the hopes of looking and/or feeling better.  Some of the most popular wishes people share with me include: Being stricter about eating habits, losing weight, going for a checkup/special exam, and here’s a big one, exercising! 

 

            So when clients ask me, “What should I do to lose weight/get rid of these thighs, stomach, backside/and feel good about myself and how I look?” one answer I give is, “GO NUTS”!  Yes, literally! Proper snacking especially with such a nutrient-rich, heart healthy, incredibly satisfying, fun to eat, and not to mention delicious treat such as nuts, may be just the solution to your problem. 

 

Now, it goes without saying that every individual is unique and has specific nutritional needs and hereditary predispositions, however the overruling perception that nuts are “bad” or are “soooo fattening” may not entirely be the case!  While nuts are indeed a calorie-dense food, the good news is that studies have shown that people who consume nuts within moderation aren’t any fatter than people who avoid nuts. That’s because nuts are satiating, meaning they stick to you and help you feel “fed.”  For example, a small closed-fisted handful of nuts (around 150 calories) for an afternoon snack often ends up being lower in calories than the 100-calorie pack of cookies that leads to another and yet another 100-calorie pack, because you are still hungry.  Snacks like crackers, pretzels and rice cakes fail to keep you satiated because they lack the right amounts of protein, fat and fiber – which nuts have.

 

I discovered a fascinating study of adolescent students who took part in the “Family Lifestyle and Over-weight Prevention Program” in Houston.  The teens were given a nut based snack after school to improve the quality of their diet: Nuts and peanut butter along with vegetables and fruits (such as apple slices or baby carrots with peanut butter, or trail mix with peanuts and dried fruit).  These snacks replaced the popular chips, cookies and snack cakes.  The results:  these kids lost weight on the nut regimen and kept it off for longer than 6 months!  Equally as important they LIKED the snacks.  There’s no denying that a plain apple seems boring and may be unpopular because in and of itself it’s not substantial enough to satisfy afternoon hunger and cravings alone – but add the peanut butter and that apple becomes a yummy treat!

 

So, when the afternoon munchies strike, I invite you to “go nuts” and enjoy a handful of them.  You may well discover you are less hungry for a longer period of time. While a few rice cakes may fill you for half an hour, the nuts may last 2.5 hours!

 

So why are so many people so afraid to eat nuts?  A client once told me that she is afraid to keep a jar of cashews in the house because, “I’d end up eating them all and gaining weight!”  So if you are afraid that the “handful” will turn into a “jarful,” portion it out in advance.  And remember, the best way to take the power away from a so-called “trouble food” is to eat it more often, or sincerely KNOW that you can, even every day!

 

Now, some of you may be thinking, that’s not exactly how it works with me.  That’s because when you over eat nuts (or any food for that matter) you think, “I just blew my (overly strict) diet by eating some almonds, so I might as well eat the whole jar to get rid of them, and then I can get back on my diet.”  Or, you are at a social occasion and end up eating too many peanuts because you are starving or drinking and you may say to yourself, “This is my last chance to eat peanuts before I go back on my diet.  I’d better eat them now because I’m never touching them ever again!”  The best way to handle these diet-sabotaging thoughts is to change the way you perceive nuts and thereby your relationship with them as a food.  Don’t deny, modify. While this may sound scary to overeaters, the reality is that after eating nuts for a few days you will find that you can cut back on them when you want to, without penalty!

 

So now that I may have convinced you to break out the nuts as snacks, you may be wondering, “Which nuts are best to eat?”  That is kind of like asking, “What is the best fruit to have?” The reality is, aside from satiety, each type of nut offers its own special health benefits  – and tastes good!  Almonds have a little more fiber than cashews and per ounce you can have 28 vs. 23 cashews for about the same calories (170 calories). Walnuts have a little more polyunsaturated fat than hazelnuts and contain omega-3-fatty acids (great for your heart, brain, hair, eyes ). Peanuts have a little more vitamin E than walnuts, and pistachios are the lowest calorie variety with a serving size of about 30 nuts having just 150 calories.   But no one nut is distinctly superior to another one.  My advice: Mix them up!  Choose a variety for the best nutritive, flavor, and health protective attributes!

 

So go ahead, for both health and weight management advantages, add a spoonful of slivered almonds to your morning oatmeal, afternoon salad or in your green beans at dinner!  Don’t panic about the calories/fat.  Remember, nuts are filled with nutrients that can easily be processed out of refined foods.  Some vitamins and minerals include: magnesium, niacin vitamin E, copper, manganese, phytochemicals and even resveratrol (like in red wine!).  Not surprisingly, people who consume nuts or peanut butter 5 or more times a week reduce their risk of heart disease or diabetes by more than 20%!

 

So kick up your heels and don’t be afraid to GO NUTS!

 

 

Rachael E. Schindler, Ph.D., MA, MS, CAI, CPT.  Over 18 years experience in exercise physiology, Pilates, nutritional counseling and teaching, as well as multiple degrees in forensic and developmental psychology, come together to offer you the best of both body and mind.  Specializing in food and behavioral “issues” for both children and adults, you get the right combination of diet, exercise and support all in one stop!  Insurance is accepted.  I can be reached at Teichbergr@aol.com, or (917)690-5097.

Chronicles of Crises In Our Communities – 7/31/09

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Dear Rachel,

A while ago I had the misfortune of suffering the loss of a family member. Ever since, I’ve been meaning to air my frustration over the Shivah experience. While I do believe that for the most part people mean well, the burden of their ignorance falls on the bereft.

Define it as you will, death is a tragedy. But when it is a young (or relatively young) person, whom we see as leaving his or her best years behind, the heartbreak is compounded. It is perhaps for this reason that our house of mourning was packed beyond capacity every night. Allow me to add that I do have tremendous hakaras ha’tov (appreciation) for all those who took the time to fulfill the mitzvah of paying a Shivah call.

If I may “borrow” some space in your widely-read column, I would like to offer readers some pointers that might help others avoid the discomfort that members of my family (females mostly) endured during a trying period of time:

1. Do try to visit by day, if you can, since nights are generally more hectic and can become overwhelming.

2. Do share any feel-good personal experience or interaction you’ve had with the deceased (but please try not to giggle or laugh loudly in the process).

3. Do express your sympathy (after all, it’s what you’ve come to do), but check your tears at the door before entering.

4. Do allow the mourner to speak of the deceased at his/her discretion and pace, but do not feel free to ask 20 questions out of your insatiable morbid curiosity.

5. Do ask for directions to the restroom facility, if needed, but this is not the time to take a sightseeing tour of the premises.

6. Do stay on (beyond the 20 minutes or so) if you are a close friend or relative, but if the place is filling up to standing room only, graciously give up your seat and return the next day, if you are so inclined.

7. Do not visit daily (unless you are a very close friend or relative and are there to lend a helping hand in some capacity). One visit is all that is required.

8. Do make your visit brief, especially if you are a mere acquaintance and have nothing much to say. (It is totally inappropriate to sit endlessly in front of the mourners and gawk as though they are on display at a freak show.)

9. Do visit during evening hours if it is more convenient for you (as it is for many), but do not arrive at a late hour. (The day is long and tedious enough for the mourners who also need to get some sleep.)

10. Do not linger if the mourners are being served their meals. Convey your condolences and exit graciously (unless specifically entreated by mourner to stay).

11. Do call (in lieu of a personal visit, if you live too far away). This is perfectly acceptable and appropriate – however, endless reminiscences and chitchat are not. The mourner may have in-house visitors waiting to get his or her attention. Make it short and sweet and call to chat at some other time.

12. Some people seem oblivious of the fact that a house of mourning is as hallowed as a house of worship. It is therefore unbefitting to dress in an untznius’dik fashion (immodestly). Out of respect for the family and the departed soul, females should be vigilant about keeping elbows and knees covered, and a married woman should cover her hair.

Thank you, Rachel, for letting me sound off. May we merit hearing only good news.

A weary mourner…

Dear Weary,

Thank you for your insightful suggestions in how to conduct oneself with dignity in a delicate situation. Like you say, most people have their hearts in the right place, but many are unfortunately intimidated by the nature of the circumstance and are awkwardly ill at ease.

It helps for the visitor to try to understand the bereaved and for the bereaved to try to recognize the discomfort of the visitor who never knows what to expect. Personalities vary, making it difficult to predict the effect a tragedy will have on a mourner.

In addition to your excellent recommendations: Many families in mourning post notices of “non-visiting hours” on their doors (generally during the long summer days) which allow them some respite time – usually a two-to-three-hour afternoon break.

HaMakom Yenachem eschem… May G-d comfort you among the other mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim. In layman’s terms, you are not alone in your grief. Taking the literal interpretation for HaMakom – the place: HaMakom Yenachem… the “place” should comfort you… the place where your departed loved one now resides – namely Gan Eden.

“Nachamu, Nachamu Ami… Be comforted, be comforted, My people…” [Yeshayahu 40:1-26]

May we know of no more sorrow and merit to witness the fulfillment of the prophet’s reassurance – that our suffering will end soon.

Please send your personal stories, thoughts and opinions to rachel@jewishpress.com

Tefillin And Teacher

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

The time was 6:03 a.m., and I was already late for shul. My father had passed away in October of 2008, and I was saying Kaddish for him. Morning prayers began at 6 o’clock. I had to be there within four minutes or miss the rabbinic Kaddish. To worsen matters, I hadn’t taken my 3 a.m. Parkinson’s medications on time, and I had begun to feel a rise in what I call my “trembling index.”

I anticipated that my illness was going to make laying tefillin problematic. I hurried off to minyan, arriving in time to join the others in declaring: “Y’hei sh’mei rabba m’vorach le’olam ulolmei olmaya” – May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.”

The minyan was more crowded than usual. Two new fellows had shown up to my right. Our table, which ordinarily held three people, was now holding five. I felt cramped.

“This is not going to work,” I thought, as I tried unsuccessfully to don my tallis. Needing more room, I opened the side door to the main sanctuary. I found this private refuge helpful on mornings like this.

With enough light from the hallway, I managed to don my tallis and tefillin after ten minutes, while listening to the shliach tzibur recite the Yishtabach prayer. I checked my rosh (tefillin of the head) quickly and reentered the beis medrash in time for the Borchu prayer. When I came to the words “and you will bind them as a sign upon your arm and they will be tefillin between your eyes” my thoughts turned back to an incident that had happened 15 years earlier.

The first chapter of Pirkei Avos enjoins us to find a teacher. As it happened, it was Mr. Irwin Parker who first accepted me as his student after I had wandered into the minyan where he served as a gabbai.

An apothecary in training in pre-war Poland, Mr. Parker later survived the Mathausen concentration camp. His wife and four children were among the kedoshim (holy martyrs). Reb Isser, as I learned to respectfully address him, stooped forward as a result of the beating the Nazis inflicted on him in Mathausen. They had repeatedly broken his nose, which remained permanently misshapen. Other beatings had damaged his eyesight, causing his left eye to drift.

When I met him, Reb Isser was in his late 70′s. He bore the moral authority of one whose quiet tenacity in overcoming permanent injuries proved indisputably, that the new pharaoh had arisen but failed to destroy us.

I never asked Reb Isser why he had taken me under his wing. Perhaps he saw in me a fledgling fallen from the nest or the shadow of someone he had lost in his previous life. But to me, Reb Isser was a man I had always wanted to know … a person small in stature, yet a spiritual giant. A Jew who had been to hell and back.

As a boy, I had been taught to rise before the hoary head. Learning from such a man would be an experience I’d relish.

One afternoon, Reb Isser took out a small blue velvet bag from inside the portable bima. “Roll up your sleeve,” he nodded toward my left arm. “Slip your arm through this loop and slide it up to your bicep.”

“Like this?” I wondered, so nervous my legs were shaking.

“No, no. You see this knot? It has to be on the inside, facing the heart.”

“Okay, I got it.” We tightened the slip knot to my bicep and wound the black leather strap seven times around my forearm.

“Nu?” he waited. “Mach a brocho” (make a blessing)!

“Al mitzvas tefillin?” I asked reluctantly. “Wait, lehaniach tefillin! Right?”

“Yes. Now put on the rosh. Remember? Bein einecha. Between your eyes.”

“Okay, got it. How’s this?” hopeful that I had gotten it right.

“Ach, a Yiddishe man!” he kvelled. I felt like a kid.

I invited Reb Isser to my house one afternoon for tea and to show him a photograph of my grandpa Harry Austin to whom he bore a striking resemblance. He was nearly speechless when he saw his own likeness in the person of my grandpa. He then placed a sugar cube between his teeth and sipped his tea. Nothing less than a sweet fragment of an old world, it reminded me of what I had seen by grandfather do as a boy.

I watched him intently, this righteous man who often likened the tefillin shel yad to a telephone handset, and the shel rosh to a receiver. “Our prayers,” he said, extending his metaphor, “are long-distance calls. If you dial His number often, you get unlimited minutes for less money.”

Steam from his cup momentarily clouded the sparkle of his blue eyes.

“Like a Divine telephone plan, right?”

“You’re learning, Reb Avrum. Baruch Hashem!”

“More tea, Reb Isser?” He nodded. Happily, there were plenty of sugar cubes.

Now, as I stood in shul years later saying Kaddish for my father, I realized how, in “straightening the bent,” the One Above had enabled Reb Isser to teach me a critically important part of Torah.

I resolved that just as Reb Isser had overcome his afflictions which had bent him over, the inconvenience of Parkinson’s would not cause me to forsake the mitzvah of tefillin.

This was Reb Issser’s legacy to me.

Lost And Found – A True Story

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Gone. The money was gone. I bit my lips and felt my eyes fill with tears. This was hard earned money that I received from a client whom I had worked for all month. It wasn’t physical work, but I had worked hard mentally and emotionally for many hours- but the money was gone and I needed it for so many things.

“Yossi, the exterminator was here this afternoon,” I told my husband. “He told me I should take the children outside so we wouldn’t breathe in the chemicals. He must have taken the money.”

“He’s a religious man,” my husband countered immediately. “It is forbidden to suspect him.”"Ok, I take it back. He should be blessed,” I muttered. “But I wish I knew where that money was.”

“Maybe you put it in your pocket?” my helpful husband suggested.

I checked again. No money.

“Maybe you changed clothes?”

“You don’t remember that I’ve been wearing this outfit all day?” No, of course he didn’t remember since he never noticed in the first place. Again I searched the house, again, my pockets, again, my pocketbook. I went through every place I thought the money could be. Hashem, I NEED that money. Tears started spilling down my cheeks.

Wait, let’s change gears, I told myself. This happened at a time when the news often reported suicide bombings on buses. Think what could have happened. If it was decreed that we suffer, at least it’s through money and not through -  I don’t want to even think of it. I’m healthy, my husband and children are healthy!

Gratitude actually started seeping into my heart. Thank you, Hashem, for all the good you constantly shower on us! A family, a home, the privilege of living here in Eretz Yisrael! Hashem, you know our financial situation. If You could somehow get that money back to us? And now that I mention it, two years ago, my gold bracelet disappeared, too. If I had it, I could sell it and maybe get some money that way but thank you for not decreeing something worse on us. I trust You, Hashem, You can do anything, and I accept Your decree with love!I felt full of joy, and suddenly my mind cleared and I remembered that although I had been wearing this outfit when the client paid me I had been wearing my coat over it!

I hurried over to the hook in our front closet, stuck my hand into the pocket and felt my fingers close over crisp bills. Baruch Hashem!

That evening, my husband’s cousin was making a bar mitzva for her son. It was before Chanukah and, believe me, I had what to do at home. Well, I guessed I could drop in for a few minutes, say mazel tov, and disappear. I arrived at the hall, and saw that it was almost empty. As I said, this was at the time of the Pigu’im and many people preferred not to go out. There were a grand total of four women sitting at the ladies’ tables. So much for a cameo in-and-out appearance. I sat down, and because I was still under the influence of what had happened earlier, I told the women about the Hashgacha Pratis I had experienced with the lost-and-found money.

My husband’s cousin listened, wide-eyed. When I finished, she said, “That reminds me. I have a gold bracelet that someone left at my Binyomin’s bar mitzva five years ago. I asked everyone I thought could have lost it, if it was theirs. I feel so bad every time I look at it and think of the poor soul who lost it.”

I started laughing. “I also lost a bracelet, but it was only two years ago.”

“Well, Binyomin is now 18, so I know his bar mitzva was five years ago. Also,” she examined my wrist, “the bracelet was much bigger than your size.”

“It was big on me,” I agreed. “That’s why it fell off.”

The next day, my husband’s cousin called me up, and held the bracelet in her hand as I described it. On Chanukah she came by with my bracelet (the five years that had gone by had telescoped in my mind to two years – everyone makes mistakes), but the real gift was the new knowledge of the power of prayer, of Hashem’s love and how He concerns Himself with each individual, and of the importance of joy.

Happy Chanukah To All!

Two Evenings In Yerushalayim

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

It was late afternoon on Yom Yerushalayim. We were enjoying a clear, cool, beautiful Yerushalayim day as we walked into Ir Dovid, the historic City of David. We passed the newest excavations and walked down the stone steps leading to the ruins and the older excavations of the City of David. We sat in the amphitheater near the base of the hill.

Had it been totally quiet, we would have been able to hear the sound of the Gichon spring flowing into the Shiloach Pool.

Ten white-robed men stood on a stone ledge about two stories above the amphitheater, carrying shofarot, each one a different shape than another. Suddenly,

they proceeded to blow their shofarot, the sound echoing through the Kidron valley. The moon and stars cast their glow, as the award ceremony for the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism began.

Prize for Zionism, you ask. Wasn’t Zionism dead? Not to some. Not to these three awardees! Not to the Moskowitz family who awarded these prizes in “recognition of the people who put Zionism into action in today’s Israeli societydoing what it takes to ensure a strong, secure Jewish homeland.”

The Moskowitz family exemplifies the spirit of giving and the faith that there

will always be Jews inspired by love for Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael.

Brigadier General Ran Ronen-Pecker was honored “for his model of courage, sacrifice, and leadership.” He established Project Zahala where former army officers and commanders instill the values of Zionism to youth at-risk.

Moshe Moskowitz was honored for his 60 years of involvement in the settlement movement, in education, and in social work. He played a strategic role in the “establishment of communities and educational institutions all over Israel and especially in Gush Etzion.” In fact, we, as residents of Efrat, consider him and Rabbi Riskin as the fathers of Efrat.

Rabbi Dovid Fendel was honored as the head of the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot. A Hesder Yeshiva combines Torah studies with army service. I can proudly state that Rabbi Dovid Fendel is our nephew, and that we were in Ir David that night to pay tribute to him, his lovely wife and his family. It seemed like a dream sitting in a spot where Dovid HaMelech walked, honoring our modern day Dovid with the “Lion of Zion” award.

We were there to pay tribute to the work he does for his yeshiva, for the besieged city of Sderot, and for “instilling the values of social responsibility and obligation to the nation and the land of Israel, in the hundreds of students” in the Yeshiva he founded. We recognized the “Yeshiva’s role as a source of strength for all the residents of Sderot in this city’s most difficult hour.” He is the “role model of Zionist leadership.”

Our second special evening in Yerushalayim took place in the spacious Beit Midrash of Yeshivat HaKotel in the Old City.Four second-grade classes of Orot Etzion (the elementary school in Efrat that our grandson attends) were getting ready for their Siyum on Sefer Vayikra. The electricity of their excitement filled the air as they dashed haphazardly around the room. But if you watched their progress, you saw that each boy knew exactly what his role was. Creative costumes portrayed themes in Vayikra. The boys shouted their joy and enthusiasm upon completing their third Chumash through plays, songs, and dances. I watched them reenacting the parade of the Bikurim and Korbanot. The boys’ faces were aglow, as they imagined that they were marching into Yerushalayim bringing baskets of first produce and animals. They carried stuffed animals, baskets of plastic fruit, and grain. As they marched and sang and lifted their offerings above their heads, I was transported to the time of the Beit HaMikdash and the ceremony of the Bikurim. I felt the joy that our ancestors must have felt when they witnessed the ceremony.

The climax of the Siyum occurred when the boys and men were invited to daven Minchah on the roof of the yeshiva. The view of the Kotel and Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount) was awe-inspiring. Their afternoon prayers were suffused with special meaning.

After Minchah, we went on a tour of the Jewish part of the Old City. All the classes met at the Kotel Plaza where they spontaneously broke out in song and dance. Usually, I am an onlooker at others’ semachot. This time, it was I who was an active participant as others took pictures of the joyous singing and dancing.

These children are taught to love the Torah, the Mitzvot, the Land of Israel and the people of Israel. They are the future Zionists. They will grow up to be Jews whose hearts are filled with the love of Eretz Yisrael, Am Yisrael, and Torat Yisrael. Through them and their emunah, Zionism (especially religious Zionism) will flourish.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/two-evenings-in-yerushalayim/2008/07/30/

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