web analytics
August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Baruch Hashem’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communites

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Dear Rachel,

I need to get this off my chest, so please bear with me. It’s been three long months since my husband and I suffered the traumatic experience of losing our long awaited baby. There was no warning that anything was wrong. Though I’d suffered some early miscarriages before, this pregnancy was normal until the very end.

But it was not to be and our full term first child was called back to Shamayim even before it got to take its first breath.

Luckily for us it happened over a weekend in which Shabbos led to a 2-day Yom Tov. Since no one in our extended families was aware we’d gone to the hospital, we had several hours of privacy that helped us come to grips with the tragedy that had so suddenly befallen us. Not for long though…

The dreaded hour came, when we had no choice but to break the sad news to our parents, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how quickly the word spread. Rachel, I am at a loss of words as to how to begin to tell you of my endless frustration since.

People I hardly knew bombarded us with messages asking how they could help and what they could do. Somehow, the thought that I may not be up to hosting visitors escaped them. Both my husband and I relayed in every way we could that we’d be sure to let them know if and when they were needed.

It didn’t take a day after one such message was conveyed (via next of kin) for a woman I wasn’t particularly close with to come knocking on our door. She was crying. Hysterically.  I had to calm her, to assure her that I was okay and not to take it so hard. In spite of my pain and discomfort, I must have been doing a marvelous job because my uninvited guest was in no rush to leave.

On one evening, a close cousin was over to visit. By the time she was about to leave, I was more than ready to retire for the night. As I walked my guest to the door to let her out, the doorbell rang; there stood a woman I barely knew, with a startled expression on her face. “I was sure you weren’t going to answer the door…” she managed, seeming mortified that I actually had.

I invited her in — did I have a choice? Rachel, believe it or not, she just sat there and said nothing. I was beginning to wonder whether she knew… but of course she did, for she kept looking at me with pity written all over her face. The stress of that unsolicited and unexpected visit killed my night and carried over into the following day.

A word to those who generously offer a generic “If you need anything, just call…” No, I won’t chase you. That would be more than a bit awkward on my part. Unless you are a close friend really ready to help and to make yourself available please don’t bother with empty gestures.

Then there are the women who tell me they know exactly how I’m feeling (no, you don’t!) and even have the remedy handy: “If you go back to work right away, it will help you forget…” At the opposite end, one close relative was so jittery about how to act and what to say that she decided to completely ignore the whole thing and pretend that nothing happened. Let me tell you, that sure felt weird.

Other well-meaning souls who don’t know what to say or how to react have come up with a novel (literally) solution: they put things down on paper — I mean pages of it, filled with G-d knows what. I certainly don’t and neither do I have any intention of reading them to find out. I suppose they need to unburden their heavy hearts. Well, I’m sorry to have to say that their load is too heavy for me to carry at this time.

Please don’t misunderstand me, Rachel… I’m really not a bad person. It’s only that I have no strength for the heavy-handed. A card, a brief call or short e-mail can go a long way in expressing one’s sympathy and good wishes. And yes, thankfully some of my relatives and close friends did have the intelligence and forethought to leave a brief text or message that said simply, “Thinking of you. Tell me when you’re ready to talk… I’m here for you.”

A Himmel Geshrai

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

A himmel geshrai” is a Yiddish phrase that, loosely translated, means “a tragedy of such catastrophic proportions that the heavens themselves cry out.” Sadly, every one of the letters on family breakdowns I’ve featured these past several weeks can be summed up as “a himmel geshrai.”

As Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur approach and we appeal to Hashem for a blessed New Year, we also prepare for the awesome moment when we will all stand before Almighty G-d. Just as we carefully prepare for special occasions, making certain our appearance is “just right,” so we must ready ourselves for the most awesome day in our calendar year – when our destiny is decided.

On that day G-d will search our souls and make decisions affecting the lives of each and every one of us – “who shall live and who shall die; who shall be at ease and who shall suffer; who shall be elevated and who shall be demoted; who shall be enriched and who shall be impoverished; who by fire, who by water, and so on.”

Who would not tremble on such a day? Who would dare stand in front of G-d, the Great Judge, in soiled, putrid garments? Surely no sane man would want to appear repugnant in His sight, and yet that is exactly what so many of us are doing.

There is nothing so repugnant to our Father than to see animosity, jealousy, and hatred fragmenting His children. When a Jewish home becomes an inferno, with no love to unite family members, that household banishes itself from the presence of G-d. It is a catastrophe of himmel geshrai proportions.

The most recent letter I featured exemplified a new low in this abominable state of affairs – a mother engaging attorneys to prosecute her own son, even to the point of placing him behind bars. And all for financial gain.

Pagan men killed their own children to feed the idols they worshipped. Thousands of years have passed and the idols are still very much with us, albeit identified by different names. In place of Ba’al and other such creations, the new idol is the golden calf of money, and it is on this altar that modern man sacrifices his family.

Images of our giants appear in my mind’s eye. I hear the voice of David, king of Israel, when his son Avshalom fomented an uprising against him. It would have been easy and natural for David to command his troops to do away with this despicable, rebellious son, but instead David chose to abdicate his throne and leave Jerusalem. Avshalom, however, was not satisfied. He feared his father might return to the holy city and reclaim his kingdom, so he unrelentingly pursued him and schemed to kill him.

When the news reached David that Avshalom, galloping on his horse in pursuit of his father, had caught his long hair in the branch of a tree and been killed, David cried out in anguish, “Avshalom b’ni, Avshalom b’ni – Avshalom, my son, Avshalom, my son; would that I had died instead of you!”

But David didn’t stop there. He repeated seven times the words “Avshalom b’ni, Avshalom b’ni.” With tears he beseeched G-d to remove his son from the throes of Gehennom and elevate him to the Seventh Heaven – the highest place in the abode above.

David’s example is not an isolated one. Rather, it is symptomatic of Jewish parents who have always been prepared to sacrifice for their children even when deeply wounded or hurt. There is a well-known Yiddish adage that goes, “One mother can care for ten children, but ten children cannot care for one mother.”

Jewish parents have been unwavering in their commitment and love, and in our secular, liberated society are caricatured for their unwavering devotion. When Philip Roth’s notorious novel Portnoy’s Complaint – in which he mockingly satirized the “neurotic” Jewish mother who forever obsesses about her children and hovers over them – was published decades ago, I wrote an article in which I emphasized that we are proud of the so-called neurotic Jewish mother. It was she who gave birth to and nurtured the giants of every generation – prophets and sages, righteous men and holy women, scientists and physicians, mathematicians and musicians, artists and authors.

What Can Prevent Marriage

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

I notice a certain unfortunate trend. People who lose a parent at a young age often stay single for a long time – or, unfortunately, do not marry at all. This was first pointed out to me at a sheva berachos in the fall of 2011. My internal thought was that the person who lost his father when he (the son) was just 28 – which, in my opinion, is an age when one should be able to function on one’s own – was simply looking for an excuse to rationalize why he had not yet gotten married.

I then reflected about a few other people whom I know, all over 30, who are still single – but I still was not convinced. I have another friend who, unfortunately, has no parents and does not expect to get married. All of these situations caused me to start thinking that it was possible that the aforementioned person’s rationalization was not just an excuse.

Very recently a non-Jewish colleague, in his early 50s, was asked by our client if he was married. He responded that he wasn’t, as his father died when he was a young teenager. As this answer came from a non-Jew living in the secular world, I began to think that maybe there is in fact a general correlation between losing a parent at a young age and not getting married – or marrying later in life. Following my colleague’s insight, I had a date with a young lady who lost her father when she was young; she is one of four unmarried children.

My sister, brother, and I lost our father, a”h, when we were in elementary school. Baruch Hashem, my sister is happily married. My brother and I still have not found our basherts. Could it be that since parents may be one’s emotional and financial anchors, orphans have a very hard time getting married? Could it be that since orphans do not have both their parents to rely on, they have a hard time getting married? Could it be that since kol hatchalot kashot (all beginnings are hard), not having both your parents at the early stages of one’s growth makes it much harder for orphans to get married? Or maybe there’s a totally different reason why orphans have a hard time getting married.

Or am I totally off the mark on all this?

Anonymous This answer was written by both Dr. Yael and Dr. Orit:

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. It was courageous of you to discuss this personal and painful issue in writing.

When one loses a parent, one experiences deep pain. When someone goes through a trauma early in life, it can affect him or her in many different ways. Specifically, the early death of a parent influences a child’s development.

Additionally, children experience their grief yet again as they reach every developmental milestone. Thus, it stands to reason that when reaching the milestones of dating and marriage, people go through their grief again. It is important for a person in this situation to seek professional help in order to work through this complicated emotional process.

Research has shown that losing a parent between the ages of five and nine is perhaps the most challenging time for the child, as it is the most vulnerable and difficult developmental stage. Children at that age think practically, and have a hard time understanding abstract thinking. They often feel that the parent’s death is their fault and that if they behave, their parent may return. A child aged five-nine who experiences the trauma of a parent’s death needs to speak with someone who can clarify what the child is thinking and feeling, and who can reframe events to make them more logical. The child also needs someone who can help build his or her self-esteem, namely by praising the child’s accomplishments and by highlighting his or her importance. Even just having someone listen to his or her ideas and helping the child understand what he or she is going through can be extremely beneficial.

Perhaps children are afraid to enter into another loving relationship when they lose someone they love so deeply. This could be because they are subconsciously afraid of losing someone else they would care for so deeply – namely a future spouse. By not committing to a marital partner, they do not risk ever experiencing the extent of pain they endured when losing their parent. While this may sound a little extreme, it can truly take place in a subconscious way.

Family Breakdown (Part Two)

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

The response to my columns regarding family breakdowns has been explosive. It is evident that the unfortunate stories touched some sensitive nerves. It was my intention to continue on the theme of last week’s column in which I offered my thoughts on this crisis, but the latest letters and e-mails I’ve received have put a somewhat different twist on the subject.

What has emerged from these communications is a very sad reality: It is not only contemptuous children who are abusive and denigrate their parents; very often parents are guilty of the same thing, as are members of the extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

From early childhood I was aware of the dilemmas, challenges, and struggles that people contend with. My saintly father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, was not only an eminent sage, he was also a man of great compassion who understood the yearnings and fears in every heart. People sought his guidance, his Torah wisdom. I was privileged to hear his compassionate counsel as well as his loving, disciplinary mussar – words of admonishment always dispensed with love. My work in outreach, imparting guidance and advice to people, has always been very much influenced by the teachings I absorbed from my father.

In more than half a century of active outreach I have heard almost every imaginable sort of difficulty, but the cruelty and hatred that lately has infiltrated our family life is a tragedy seldom before seen in our Jewish community.

I wish to share – though I do so with a heavy heart – excerpts from a letter that recently came to my office. Baruch Hashem, we live in a land of bounty. We have been showered with gifts that past generations could only dream of. But instead of being grateful we have become more greedy, more arrogant, more selfish, more demanding, more self-centered. Instead of inspiring members of our family to “fargin,” to be happy for someone else’s attainments, we have encouraged jealousy, which by its very nature converts itself into meanness of spirit.

This meanness is so widespread that we have come to regard it as the norm. But there are times when the stories are so outrageous that even the blind must see and the deaf must hear.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I am 84 years old. I am a Holocaust survivor, as was my husband, a”h. We both survived Auschwitz, but our families disappeared in the crematoria. We met in a displaced persons camp, and it was there that we were married. I don’t know if people today understand what that meant. We had no possessions. We didn’t have a penny in our pockets. I didn’t even have a wedding gown. But we had a dream of recreating our families and our people, and despite the fact that we didn’t have a home or a means of earning a living, we prayed that Hashem would bless us with children.

After the birth of our first child, we received a visa to the United States. Our hearts filled with hope, we boarded a ship that would take us to New York.

Soon after we arrived, we learned that my husband’s older brother was alive, and we moved mountains to bring him here. We rejoiced in the knowledge that someone else from the family had survived. Both my husband and I, as well as my brother-in-law, went to night school to learn the language. We worked hard and took any job as long as we could earn a livelihood and support our families. My brother-in-law was also married to a survivor. We saw each other regularly. Our children were not only cousins, they became close friends. We spent all the Yom Tovim together. Pesach was an especially meaningful time.

The jobs my husband and brother-in-law had paid very meager salaries. Then one day my husband came home with good news. One of his friends had told him about this wealthy man who was retiring and looking for someone to take over his business. His only son, a physician, was not interested.

My husband told his brother, and they explored the situation. It’s a long story, but bottom line, the two brothers became partners. Slowly but surely our lifestyles improved. We bought a house we could never have afforded in the past, and a few years later we sold the house and moved to an even better neighborhood.

July 19, 2012 – An Open Letter To Anyone Who Cares

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

A couple of years ago The Jewish Press published a letter I wrote about how people treat “kids/teens off the derech.” I wrote about my daughter who had totally left religion and how I felt people could make a difference in these children’s lives; they either inspire them or turn them off. The response to my letter was overwhelming. People contacted me wanting to help and others wrote about their children in similar situations.

I want to follow up and let you know that Hashem has been good to my family. Today, my daughter is extremely frum, married to a guy who also had his “journey” and they are leading a pure Torah life. On her journey home, she worked with girls going through their own struggles and was able to inspire them because she had been one of them – and this gave them hope.

So yes, Baruch Hashem my daughter has changed, but unfortunately not everything has. Why are there still so many people who look down on these kids if they are not dressed the same way they are? Is it really better to be dressed in a tzniut fashion but to speak loshon hara about others and be mean? Does having your legs and arms covered really make you a better Jew and a better person? Does it give you the green light to judge someone and act like you are above him or her? This is not what real tzniut and a true Torah life is about.

If you want to help bring these kids back to yiddishkeit and inspire them to love our way of life, then you need to act towards them with love and compassion and be a good role model. Being judgmental and snobby isn’t going to do it; it will just turn them off more.

People need to wake up because everyday there are more kids turning away – and so many of them are acting in self-destructive ways. My daughter’s journey was seven years long – and things are worse today in our community than when it began. We need ahavat chinam for these kids too in order to bring Moshiach.

Beth
changeofftoon@gmail.com

So Happy Together

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

The day following our oldest daughter’s wedding in Eretz Yisrael was the day we had planned for my husband to return to his job in the U.S. I was staying for another week in Israel with the rest of our children and my dear mother in order to participate in the remaining wedding celebrations.

Baruch Hashem, after shedding some tears, my husband agreed to stay with us for the rest of the week. His new return flight was an hour and a half before the rest of our flights. At least now we would spend the rest of our vacation together, traveling to the airport and going through security and passport control as a family. We were thrilled with my husband’s decision to stay and grateful to Hashem for allowing us the opportunity to share a simcha together.

The days sped by. While in Israel we were supposed to help our daughter complete a scholarship form for seminary. Working on that form got pushed off until the day we were leaving Israel. When we were at the airport, after engaging in a long discussion with his new son-in-law, my husband was finally able to do the form online with our daughter. By the time the two of them had finished, I was in a near panic. The time had passed by much too quickly and the airport’s lines were getting longer and longer. I had never before seen such a flood of people at Ben Gurion Airport.

Though we asked again, El Al would not change my husband’s ticket so he could join us on our flight. We raced together through check-in but had to be separated at the ticketing counter in order for my husband to be able to board his flight on time. I was very disappointed and frightened that he was not going to be with us when we went through passport control. Even though we had gone through great lengths to prevent a mishap from occurring, I still worried that an official would decide to single out one of our children (who held dual citizenship for army service).

I took my seat on the plane with, Baruch Hashem, all of our children near me – and not on their way to serve in the Israeli army! After having a good cry because I was leaving my newly married daughter in Israel, I decided I was due some relaxation. Now that all the months of planning, along with the traveling and busy week, were behind us, I really needed some undisturbed quiet. Instead, I kept thinking about retrieving and transporting all of our luggage, helping my mother make her connecting flight, and finding reliable transportation to our cars without my husband’s assistance. With great siyata d’shemaya we had done well up to this point, so I told myself once again that now was the time to simply relax and enjoy the week’s good memories.

We all rushed off the plane (which had been delayed in take-off), as my mother had to make her connecting flight to Los Angeles. When we were in line at Passport Control, I heard her sweet voice call out, “Jodi, David’s here.” I was delighted; we were going to be reunited. Knowing that my husband was in a rush to go to work, I was eager to find out why he was still at the airport.

After boarding the plane for his 11:30 p.m. flight, he discovered that EL Al had to conduct a security operation because a passenger had checked in luggage but failed to show up for the flight. The passengers had to remain on the plane for an hour and a half while all the luggage was removed from the belly of the plane and put back in again. Our plane took off right after my husband’s plane at 1 a.m. And that’s how we all arrived at the airport in New York at around the same time.

My husband was able to help us with our luggage, with my mom’s flight, and with transportation to our cars. It felt so nice and secure to be able to walk out of the airport together – as a family.

So happy together!

The Wechsler Family: Formerly Of Neve Dekalim; Now Of Nitzan

Friday, July 27th, 2012

The family: My name is Liora and I made aliya from Toronto when I was 16. That was 29 years ago and I came without my family. I lived in Neve Dekalim for 18 years. I met my husband Elimelech during my first year of college. He was studying in Yeshivat Hesder Yamit which was located in Neve Dekalim. When we go t married we decided to stay in Gush Katif until we completed our studies.

Back in 1987 when I arrived in Neve Dekalim there were about 80 families living there. It was like living in a little “Legoland.” All the houses looked the same. There were gardens but the sand was everywhere – outside, inside, in the beds and sometimes even in the food. I also started to fall in love with the place and when we decided to buy a home somewhere in the country, it was obvious to us that we were going to invest in Neve Dekalim.

The community was made up of families from different backgrounds; yet, there was a feeling of belonging. Whenever you had a simcha the neighbors and the members of the community prepared the food for you. If it was a brit mila or kiddush you didn’t cater it, the community automatically got together to make up the menu for you, bake the cakes – and it was something taken for granted.

We were all young families. Most of us lived far from our relatives. I saw the community blossom to about 500 families. Our six children were born there.

Our house – then: It was the first house we bought. It was 115 sq. meters. It was not luxurious but it was a very warm home. What meant more to us than the house was the garden around it.

Our house – now: We moved into our home a week before Pesach. It took us almost a year to build. We, more or less, did the planning ourselves. This is a house of my dreams – it’s not fancy but serves our needs and it’s bigger because our family is bigger. Baruch Hashem we have married children and grandchildren. It was very hard for us to take the first step in planning the house because we always hoped to be able to go back to Gush Katif – and we still hope to. I don’t know if it will be in my lifetime or theirs, but we will definitely go back.

The Wechsler’s current home

It was very important for me not to turn my new home into a shrine in memory of Gush Katif. This new home doesn’t resemble my house in Gush Katif. I have been learning mosaic art for the past 2 years and I made a little work of art in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem and Gush Katif in the entrance of my home. And I have shells from Gush Katif on a plate on the coffee table in my living room. When the GK homes were being destroyed, one of my neighbors took photos of it and he brought me a photo of my home being destroyed with the bulldozer on top of it. I asked my eldest daughter who is very artistic to turn the photo into a work of art. She stuck it to a piece of wood, painted around it as though continuing the picture, and added a verse from Yermiyahu, chapter 31, verse 24.

Day of uprooting from Neve Dekalim: We were expelled physically from our home on Thursday, 13th Av (18 Aug 2005). As a family we decided there would be no violence but that we would let our fellow Jews who expelled us know of our hurt and pain. We begged them to let us stay. There was a lot of crying. My eldest children, then teenagers, were physically expelled from our home. We took the younger ones out of the house and put them on a bus a few minutes before so they wouldn’t witness what would take place. I kept going on and off the bus to make sure everybody was okay. I was especially concerned that the expulsion forces were treating my two eldest daughters properly even though they were female soldiers. I was very proud that my girls kept on talking to the authorities in a very stern, emotional way but with respect. We didn’t pack anything – only a suitcase as though we were going on a holiday for a month.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/feautures-on-jewish-world/the-wechsler-family-formerly-of-neve-dekalim-now-of-nitzan/2012/07/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: