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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Bar Mitzvah’

Hollywood Star David Arquette Celebrates Bar Mitzvah at the Wall

Monday, June 11th, 2012

American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, fashion designer, and occasional professional wrestler David Arquette is in Israel as a guest of the Tourism Ministry and the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs.

Third generation of the Arquette acting dynasty (grandfather Cliff Arquette, father Lewis Arquette, siblings Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia and Alexis Arquette), David has starred in the “Scream” series, “Wild Bill,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Never Been Kissed” and “Dream with the Fishes.” He was also a one-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

David Arquette’s mother is Jewish, the daughter of a Holocaust refugee from Nazi-occupied Poland, and his father is a convert to Islam.

Arquette, 41, is currently in Israel to film a segment in the popular Travel Channel series “Mile High.” The show, which will be broadcast on cable and satellite channels in the U.S., will showcase Israeli tourism.

Arquette visited Tel Aviv on Sunday with his production, and on Monday he celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. On Tuesday he is going down to the Dead Sea and Judean Desert to film.

Drake: ‘I’m a Proud Young Jewish Boy’ and I Want My Re-Bar Mitzvah

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

First, a disclosure, I had no idea who Drake was, at first, so I looked him up and watched his newest video clip, “HYFR “ which is way too packed with casual expletives to actually post on a nice, G-rated Jewish website – if you go there, please don’t blame us, we warned you.

Except that the concept of the piece about his new clip, which is actually quite clever, despite the amazing string of casual expletives, or expletives uttered casually, the concept was too intriguing not to mention.

According to Digital Spy, Drake has said that he wanted to use his music video for ‘HYFR’ to reconnect with his Jewish heritage.

Aubrey Drake Graham (born October 24, 1986), who records under the mononym Drake, is a Canadian recording artist and actor. He originally became known for playing Jimmy Brooks on the television series “Degrassi: The Next Generation.”

HYFR is short for “Hell Yeah F-ing Right,” and it’s all about how he never got the Bar Mitzvah he always wanted so much. “He was too poor as a child to have a proper Bar Mitzvah, an experience which he always wanted to properly re-enact once he had the money to do so.”

Heeb Magazine interviewed Drake two years ago, and the Bar Mitzvah thing did come up: “Drake was born to an African-American father and a Jewish mother, who divorced when he was five. Raised by his mother in Forest Hill, a heavily Jewish neighborhood of Toronto, he attended a Jewish day school, and was even Bar Mitzvah’d (the song of the night was Backstreet Boys’s “I Want It That Way”). All of which is to say that, whatever else happens, Drake is already the first-ever black Jewish rap star.”

Drake told DS: “When I had a Bar Mitzvah back in the day, my mum really didn’t have that much money. We kinda just did it in the basement of an Italian restaurant, which I guess is kinda like a faux pas. I told myself that if I ever got rich, I’d throw myself a re-Bar Mitzvah. That’s the concept for the video.”

“I have some of my mother’s friends, some of my friends. Stunna Man and Khaled had to come and show their support. I learned my Torah portions; they had to come hear me read it,” he said.

For a remarkable experience of reading the HYFR lyrics with close, line-by-line hyperlinked interpretation for old, white people, we recommend that you absolutely not go here, and if you do decide to go, don’t blame us for the enormous assortment of casual expletives.

Sheldon Cooper’s Girlfriend Speaks at National Museum of American Jewish History about her Bat Mitzvah

Monday, March 26th, 2012

The lovely Mayim Bialik, who used to play Blossom on the 1990s TV sitcom by the same name, then played the young Bette Midler in the movie Beaches, and nowadays has become the heartthrob of millions of geeks as neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory – spoke last Sunday at a National Museum of American Jewish History event marking the 90th anniversary of the Bat Mitzvah.

Apparently, the Bat Mitzvah, a synthetic celebration of some vague notion of adulthood in 12-year-old girls, represents—so says the Philadelphia Inquirer—a new and profound idea, “that girls would be treated the same as boys.” This equality was achieved, it turns out, by matching, gift for gift, haftorah for haftorah, overblown bash for overblown bash (you get where I’m getting) that other totally synthetic celebration of equally vague notions of adulthood, the Bar Mitzvah.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Mayim, who confessed to nursing her own little boy, Fred, through age 3 (“I believe in child-led weaning”). I just think she may not be the best advocate for rituals of adulthood…

The awkward girlfriend of the most popular Asperger syndrome patient Sheldon Cooper, told a house packed with 200 approving Jews at the museum’s Dell Theater that she was the first woman in her family to celebrate a bat mitzvah.

“Nearly 25 years later, the intensity of the religious covenant she undertook that day has only deepened,” reports the Inquirer.

It began on somewhat shallower grounds: in Hebrew, her name means “water,” and so water became the theme of her bat mitzvah: “The color scheme of her party was ocean blue. Live goldfish stared from glass bowls on tables. And for the guests, submarine sandwiches.”

How can you argue with this much adulthood rite stuff?

But, just to be fair, Ms. Bialik makes a pretty terrific grownup: In 2007 she earned a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA, specializing in obsessive-compulsive disorder in adolescents with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes lax muscle tone, cognitive disabilities, and a chronic feeling of hunger that can lead to life-threatening obesity.

And she just published a new book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way.

And, like I said, I absolutely love her. But the Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah thing? Never understood either.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 10/07/11

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Dear Rachel,

The year was 2002. It was July and we were in the midst of a heat wave. I arrived in shul in the most modest, yet Shabbos’dik, outfit I owned (at the time): a black A-lined skirt with black floral sequins along the bottom, topped with a matching black sequined sweetheart, sleeveless top.

Of course the Rebbetzin had taught me the laws of Jewish modesty, and at her suggestion I made sure to wear a long sleeved, high neck shirt underneath, one I had specially purchased for this occasion. My skin-toned long sleeved shell was perfect!

Also, since the skirt only covered my knees and was not a long one, I wore my black, flower-patterned panty hose, making my feet look ridiculous in my high-heeled black peep-toe dress shoes. But these were the laws of modesty I was now trying to follow and I assured myself that since I was all covered up it must be okay. (Looking back, I can’t believe I considered this “modest.” But I’ve come a long way since.)

The Rebbetzin had told me that the feelings of “nerdishness” would fade. She sympathized with the difficulty I had in being a big-chested blond (okay, I’ll admit I was addicted to dying my hair, but that’s really irrelevant since I could be a frum modest blond) who grew up on the beachfront and was now trying to return to my roots.

After the davening was over, I made my way through the crowd (there was a Bar Mitzvah that Shabbos) towards the Rebbetzin. This was our first face-to-face meeting and I happily introduced myself. Though she was polite, she did not seem to return my enthusiasm.

I’m a pretty intuitive person and immediately sensed her uneasiness. Maybe it was the way her eyes flickered in surprise when she saw me, or the way she shifted awkwardly when I hugged her… I’m not sure what exactly gave it away, but one thing was certain: she was extremely uncomfortable. After giving me directions to her home, where I was to come for lunch, she hurriedly excused herself, mumbling something about having to set up.

Maybe she just didn’t feel well, I reasoned. As I made my way out of the sanctuary towards the hall, everyone just stared at me. Did I suddenly grow horns? Was my red 24-hour lipstick starting to fade, I wondered? Instead of proceeding to the hall where the Bar Mitzvah Kiddush was taking place, I went to the bathroom to check myself out: No horns, no lipstick on my nose; even my eyeliner and mascara weren’t smudged.

Just then a beautiful, dark-skinned woman in a navy blue suit and floral blue and navy scarf wrapped around her head appeared out of nowhere. She was adorned with a friendly smile. “Shabbat Shalom!” she greeted me. “Shabbat Shalom,” I smiled back. Her warmth lit up the room.

“Are you new here?” she asked. So I told her about my big decision to take the long walk to shul this Shabbos and my plans to eat at the Rebbetzin’s house and stay there till Shabbos was over.

I guess she sensed how big that was for me and expressed her encouragement and delight over my big decision.

I felt compelled to say something nice and complimented her head wrap (yet secretly wondered why on earth she was wearing that in this heat). I then asked her straight out why she was wearing it. (Still not sure what made me do that.) She explained to me that Jewish women are required according to the Torah to cover their hair when they get married.

Needless to say, I was dumbfounded. She apparently took my shock to be a lack of understanding and briefly explained that since the hair is considered the beauty and crown of a woman (oh, how well I was able to relate to that!), once a women was married it was to be designated solely for her husband.

Wow! How much sense that made! Given my background and the countless “couples” I’d seen breaking up because one of them insisted on flirting, often by flipping her gorgeous hair or acting provocatively in the presence of other girls/guys, the sensitivity the Torah had to marriage made perfect sense to me!

After she left, I was left wondering why on earth the Rebbetzin did not cover her hair. She was so knowledgeable, how could she not know this? I put the thought aside for the time being.

Actually I was in for an even bigger surprise when I arrived at the Rebbetzin’s home. She was outside waiting for me. She smiled warmly and in her kindhearted way explained that my top really was not appropriate. Even though I had a shirt on underneath, it gave the impression that I was bare since it was the same color as my skin.

Okay, that made sense and I felt stupid for not having had the sensitivity to realize this on my own. She understood and was kind enough to lend me one of her daughter’s tops that was appropriate. She was very nice about it. (I guess in shul she reacted to the initial shock of seeing me the way I was dressed.)

At the Shabbos table I did not say much and was still trying to figure out why she did not cover her hair. Perhaps the lady in shul was mistaken about it being a law. Maybe it was just something she did on her own.

Finally Shabbos afternoon I asked the Rebbetzin and she said it was indeed the Law. She explained that she was wearing a wig and that her hair was 100% covered.

My respect for the Rebbetzin did a nosedive. A WIG?! If the point was to save the hair, the crowning glory and beauty of a woman, solely for the eyes (and enticement) of her husband, how was it okay to deceive the rest of the world? (Had I not just received a speech about my deceptive skin-toned shell and about how it made me look uncovered though technically I was, I’d maybe have been more receptive to the “wig” concept.)

Rachel, I am now a totally frum, married woman with a few little ones, baruch Hashem, and I still don’t get it. It makes no sense to me! I don’t buy the fact that a woman feels like her hair is covered when she wears a long, beautiful 100% human hair, custom wig. I tried on a few as a joke when I was engaged. I felt sexy as anything. The wig was way nicer than my own hair.

And any woman who says that tichels fall off and wigs cover more either doesn’t know how to wear a tichel properly or is making a poor excuse. Maybe both. I feel that not only is a wig completely untznius’dik, it is very deceitful. Maybe you can explain it to me.

A tichel-wearing LA girl

 

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Our Lives Have Been Turned Upside Down

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Special Note: Many have asked where I will be speaking this Pesach. I am happy to relate that I will be at the Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta, Canada.

I have just returned from an exhilarating visit to Costa Rica and I can attest that the pintele Yid, the tiny spark that Hashem embedded in our souls is very much alive. In every Yiddish neshamah, that pintele Yid is so powerful that it breaks down all barriers, cultural or linguistic. The language of our Torah overcomes all.

As I prepare this column, once again, I am traveling. This time, B’Ezrat Hashem, on a speaking tour of Europe, culminating with a program in Jerusalem.

A few weeks ago, in the midst of all this heavy scheduling, my column arrived late at The Jewish Press and missed the publication deadline, but I guess that everything is basherte- for as a result, I was inundated with communications from many kind readers, for which I am deeply grateful.

If you recall, in my previous column I invited you to share the challenges you’re experiencing in these difficult times, and how you are overcoming them. I am now pleased to share another letter with you.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I can’t begin to tell you how important your column has been in this most trying period. To one extent or another, everyone has been tested by the financial meltdown…. some of us more than others, and I’m afraid that my family falls into that category. Allow me to give you some background:

My husband is 40 years old, and I am 36. We have three adorable children and always had a good life, which, in retrospect, I realize I never fully appreciated. My husband was a successful investment banker and earned a very good living; I had a full-time housekeeper, a nanny, and a car service at my disposal. I never thought twice about the cost of things – my credit card was always available, and if I liked something, I bought it. In the winter, we vacationed in Florida or skied in Aspen. Life was good, although, as I said earlier, I never really appreciated it. Somehow I thought that was the way it had to be.

Then, a year-and-a-half ago, our world crumbled. The unbelievable occurred… Overnight, my husband’s company collapsed, and literally disappeared. Our stocks became worthless, and suddenly our lives turned upside down. We panicked, and our emotions ran the gamut from anger to depression. I couldn’t sleep, and when I did drop off, I had nightmares and woke up in a sweat a few minutes later. My husband was even more troubled. We sought help from our therapist, but then quickly realized that we could no longer afford the luxury of her services…. so even that solace was denied us.

My husband tried desperately to find a job, but there was nothing available. We were living on our savings, and very quickly, that too vanished. Our nerves were on edge, and we fought continuously. To say the least, our home, which had always been more or less serene, became a tumultuous place. My husband told me that we would have to let the housekeeper and nanny go and use public transportation. I was devastated.

To be candid, I had never done laundry – I didn’t even know how to use the washing machine. Our children were in private schools and we could no longer afford the tuition. We didn’t have religion or faith to sustain us. Neither my husband nor I came from observant homes, and our Jewish connection was, at best, minimal. We went to Temple on the High Holy Days and contributed to U.J.A…. and that was about it. No one ever taught us how to turn to G-d in prayer. My husband was Bar Mitzvah in a Reform Temple, and I received no Jewish education at all.

We soon realized that we had to give up our apartment in Manhattan. No matter how diligently my husband searched for work, there was nothing available. Our lives became a nightmare. Neither my parents nor in-laws could help us since they too were hard hit and lost much of their retirement money.

I just couldn’t adjust, and then, one of my friends, who had been going to your classes, gave me a set of your books. In The Committed Marriage I read the story of Jackie and Michael, and I saw myself. I wept through every page and re-read every chapter. Then I read The Committed Life and that book opened up a beautiful Jewish world to me and I clung to it tenaciously. But your book, Life Is A Test made the biggest difference. Suddenly I saw my trials and tribulations as tests and challenges that I could either win or lose.

I was determined to win – to be stronger than the material possessions that we lost. I made my husband read your book as well, and in my mind, I kept repeating your words: “Instead of battling each other, help and encourage each other; Instead of shouting and screaming, impart kind loving words and protect your children from further pain.” Your story of the couple who lost all their holdings and were determined not to lose its shalom bayis (a new term that I learned from you), impacted on me in a really strong way.

I guess by now you recognize who I am, because, not too long ago, my husband and I came to see you, and you advised him to take any job… and you emphasized “any” just so that there could be bread on the table. You told us to start coming to classes and discover the “life- transforming” teachings of Torah, the language of prayer and the beauty of Shabbos – and we did.

My husband still has not found employment in his field, but he did find some work which he never would have considered had you not encouraged it and shared with us how your revered father and husband, eminent rabbis, did just that when they arrived penniless in America. We try not to miss your classes.

Our difficulties have not abated, but we keep reminding ourselves to be strong for each other and our children. As challenging as it is, we made up our minds to pass this test. To all those who have had similar experiences I can only say, “Don’t give up! Don’t allow your anger or depression to take over your life. Such an option is self-destructive. Try the Torah way, and please forgive me if I sound preachy, but Torah is a powerhouse that imbues us with faith that is stronger than any adversity.

This is not to say we don’t have our dark moments, but faith gives us something to fall back on…to cling to. Of course, we are still novices and taking baby-steps, but just the same, we are on the path and for that, I am eternally grateful to you. Please keep writing and speaking.

In appreciation,

Your Student

A Small Giant… Esther Bluthal

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

She was a very small woman physically, but she was a giant in Mitzvot and chesed.  She was born in the month of January and she would have been 92 in a few days, but she died four months ago.

 

I met Esther Bluthal as a result of her chesed.  She had been swindled out of thousands of dollars by someone claiming to be collecting for charity.  In her despair, she turned to The Jewish Press and the call was given to me.  As she related the events I became very angry that someone could be so vile as to cheat an elderly person out of her money, especially when the money was going to charity.  I told her that I would see what I could do to help, thought I didn’t think too much was possible.  But with the help of a number of individuals and the Almighty, we were able to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

 

After that, Mrs. Bluthal adopted me.  In her eyes I could do no wrong.  She would call me often to check out any charity she was considering donating to and would only give after I had personally checked it out.  It was finally time for us to meet and so it was that on a Friday afternoon in the spring, I went to her Boro Park apartment.  This small powerhouse of a woman had prepared a whole meal for me and as we sat she regaled me with many stories from her life.  Her husband had died a while back and she now lived alone. 

 

She had lost a son to illness shortly after his Bar Mitzvah many years ago, but she only expressed gratitude to the Almighty for all the blessings she had.  She had one surviving son and she was very proud of him and his family. “He’s a teacher,” she said, “and the students all love him.”  

 

It became a pattern for us − I would visit every Friday and she would entertain me with stories.  I told her that her life would make an interesting book.

 

During the week, Esther Bluthal filled her days with charitable works. Every day, she took her shopping cart and a pushka (charity box) and stood outside a supermarket in her neighborhood collecting for Tomche Shabbos.  She stood outside in the heat of summer and the cold and rain of winter.  Whenever the store manager noticed her, he would invite her to stand inside, and so she stood inside collecting for charity.  She was also very talented in crafts and would make all sorts of items and then raffle them off to get more charity for Tomche Shabbos.

 

In those days there was a local rabbi’s family whose daughters would come to see if they could shop for Mrs. Bluthal.  She was so appreciative of this kindness that, when the time came for the marriage of the oldest daughter, Esther Bluthal helped make the wedding.

There seemed to be a constant theme in her life.  It was simply that a person could not just spend money on himself; one had to give charity in the same measure. “G-d is watching us to see what we do with the money He gives us,” she told me, “and I don’t want to disappoint Him.”

 

As Mrs. Bluthal became older and frail, I realized that it was dangerous for her to live alone and she moved into the Scharome Manor, an assisted living residence.  Always very friendly, she soon became the life of the party.  She participated in everything and even had a few marriage proposals.  I would visit her every week and she proudly introduced me to all her friends.  “She’s from The Jewish Press,” she would say to one and all.

 

Every week I would help her go over her bills, but she was more interested in hearing which charities she should contribute to.  And then it was onto more stories from her past.  Don’t forget to put that one into the book, she’d laughingly say.

 

Whenever I returned from my trips to Israel, I could see the relief in her eyes and she would tell me how worried she had been and how much she had missed me.  When people asked her what our relationship was, she would say, “she’s my best friend.”

 

I used to think that I was the one giving to her by my weekly visits and by taking care of her financial matters, but I realize now that it was she who was giving to me.  Maybe that is what is meant by the saying, S’char Mitzvah, Mitzvah the reward for doing a mitzvah is the ability to do another mitzvah.

 

My dear beloved Esther, I am sorry that we didn’t get to write the book, but I tried to capture your essence in this little article.  You wanted to greet the Moshiach. Now you are in the Olam HaEmet.  Please intercede for the Jewish people and ask Hashem to hasten the Geulah now in our time, and from your exalted place in Gan Eden may your memory be for a blessing.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/22/08

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Dear Rachel,

I read your columns all the time and appreciate The Jewish Press and your commitment to addressing issues that many people would rather sweep under the rug.

There is much written about kids who go off the derech, but I have never seen anything on parents being off the derech nor how to deal with it. My husband of over 20 years is off the derech. We recently split up. (Many of our problems were due to his attitude toward Yiddishkeit and his lack of observance.) This was not a sudden decision on his part; it happened over many years, and for a long time he was living a lie. I caught him violating Shabbos, among other things.

I spoke to many rabbonim, who generally refused to get involved, because they felt they had no influence over him. The one rav he would listen to wasn’t very effective.

The issue now is the effect on our children, especially the oldest who is past Bar Mitzvah. They are very embarrassed and angry. For the sake of my children’s privacy, let’s just say that the issues range from the fact that my husband no longer wears a kippah (the kids don’t want to be seen in public with him) to his unwillingness to pay for their education.

My oldest states that he isn’t his father anymore, that he will change his name when he grows up, etc. He is often very chuzpadik to his father. What can this father expect after training this child in the derech of Torah and then deciding to leave Our son is angry and confused. I have made it clear that no matter what he is not to be disrespectful to his father. We do not know for sure that he is not keeping Shabbos, kosher, etc. We do know he is doing other non-kosher things because he tells us.

When I asked someone to learn the laws of kibbud av v’eim with my son, I was told it wasn’t a good idea because the halachah states if a parent knowingly violates Shabbos there is a question what one is obligated to do in terms of respect. I need to know if this is true. I highly doubt it.

We have been separated for a few weeks with no legal proceedings in the works as of yet. He is paying me child support, but if my son continues this behavior he will stop paying. My kids are mortified, angry and understandably upset. They are happy that we are apart but cannot deal with their father being off the Torah derech. What do I do?

By the way, even if he would become observant again, there is no hope for our marriage. I have wanted out for years. We have been to counseling, but there are just too many issues. What I need to know now is how to handle this with the children without being the bad guy and negative about their dad. I know that it isn’t good for me to say negative things about their father, but in this situation how do I avoid it?

My husband is not living in our neighborhood and his living arrangements do not allow him to have the kids for Shabbos or Yom Tov, so that is not an issue.

I do not want this to be a war − too much of our marriage was war and the children have had enough. Thanks for any help.

Hurting for my children

Dear Hurting,

There is no rocky marriage that leaves children unaffected, lending credence to the belief that it is far better to come from a broken home than to live in one. Your children who were caught up in the turbulence of your relationship with their father need constant reassurance that they are not at fault for the friction between their parents.

I had earlier conveyed to you (upon original receipt of your e-mail) that the mitzvah of kibbud av is not optional and is not to be compromised. However, the act of showing respect to a parent is not necessarily reflective of a feeling of love for that parent. Your 13-year old is old enough to be given to understand that regardless of how he may feel about his dad, a Divine commandment is not to be transgressed and he is to behave in a respectful manner at all times.

You, as their mother and role model, are in a position to yield tremendous influence. For instance, by reinforcing a positive outlook and refraining from displaying anger, you can lighten your children’s emotional burden and make it that much easier for them to cope with the less-than-ideal life situation they are mired in.

Their father may be the malefactor, but it is your attitude that can make all the difference in your children’s adjustment and emotional health. Instead of alluding to their father as being “right” or “wrong,” show enthusiasm toward your own high standard of commitment and principles. Expound on the beauty of being observant. Explain to your children that just like there are people who grow frummer with time, some unfortunately go the other way but will hopefully one day find their way back.

Denigrating their father will sow seeds of anger and resentment in your children and will complicate the matter of interaction between them and their father, whereas taking pride and obvious delight in your own chosen way of life and its pleasures, while expressing sadness (in place of anger) at their father’s dissatisfaction and his need to escape, will dissipate your children’s anger and anxiety − which may even give way to sympathy for a neshamah gone astray.

Voice the hope that – by seeing his children thriving and enjoying what he has left behind – their father will be brought back to frumkeit.

May this transition in your life proceed smoothly, and may you go on to reap much nachas from your children and future generations.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-115/2008/08/20/

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