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September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Jews, Gays, Rights Activists Protest Ahmadinejad in Rio

Monday, June 18th, 2012

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s welcome on the sunny Ipanema beach in Rio was less than warm from an eclectic group of Jews, human rights activists, and homosexuals, who arrived Sunday to protest the Iranian president’s attendance at a UN summit on sustainable development.

The protest was organized by a group called the Commission Against Religious Intolerance.

“We want the world to know that religious hatred harms the environment and Ahmadinejad represents hatred. Sustainable development encompasses human rights,” Ivanir dos Santos representative of the commission told the AFP.

“Citizens in Rio have good reason to be appalled by this visit.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embodies the ideology of intimidation and violence fomented by Iran’s militant Islamic Republic,” Alex Traiman, director of the award-winning documentary exposing the Iranian regime’s radical ideology, Iranium, told the Jewish Press.  “For decades, Iran has expanded its influence in South America, through large oil contracts and joint terror operations.  Iranians carried out mass-scale bombings in Argentina in the 90’s while Hizbullah, an Iranian terror proxy, has cells all over the continent.”

Unlike previous demonstrations organized by the commission, no Muslims took part in Sunday’s rally.

“Muslims do not take part in demonstrations against a fellow Muslim, even if they disagree with him,” commission representative dos Santos told the AFP.

Demonstrators waved placards in support of Iranian nationals, but also carried banners stating “Rio does not welcome Mahmoud Ahmadinejad” and chanted “Ahmadinejad out of Brazil” to the beat of drums.

Michel Gherman, head of the Hillel of Rio, told AFP that Ahmadinejad’s visit “is an opportunity to criticize his hateful speech denying the Holocaust as well as the persecution of homosexuals and Bahais”.

The UN summit will include discussions on eradicating poverty and protecting the environment.

The Fiction Of Palestine

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Whatever little remains of the so-called Middle East peace process suffered yet another body blow this month, as two of the largest countries in South America formally recognized an independent Palestinian state.
 
In a statement posted on its website on December 3, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry declared that the country had recognized “Palestine” based on the 1967 borders that existed prior to the Six-Day War.
 
Argentina quickly followed suit, announcing three days later that President Cristina Fernandez had sent a letter to this effect to Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
 
And so, just two months after the Palestinians stormed away from talks with Israel, refusing American pleas to return to the negotiating table, Buenos Aires and Brasilia have now decided to reward Ramallah’s intransigence with full-blown recognition of their national aspirations.
 
Ironically, both Brazil and Argentina seem to think that preempting the outcome of the process somehow brings peace closer. But precisely the opposite is true.
 
By reinforcing the Palestinian belief that the world is with them no matter what they do, this step serves merely to harden their positions and reduce their incentive to engage in dialogue with the Jewish state.
 
After all, if the Palestinians can get everything they want via international pressure, what reason would they possibly have to engage in give-and-take with Israel?
 
So while Brazil and Argentina may profess to be really interested in advancing peace, they have just taken a monumental step backward toward achieving that goal.
 
Needless to say, this development is also a major setback to these countries’ relations with the Jewish people, which weren’t all that great to begin with.
 
Both Brazil and Argentina served as welcoming safe havens for Nazi fugitives and other mass murderers, granting refuge to the likes of Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann for decades after World War II.
 
So it is perhaps not surprising that they would now choose to formally recognize the spurious claims of Israel’s foes.
 
To be fair, Brazil and Argentina are not alone in their folly. Some 104 countries have now recognized an independent Palestinian state, and other South American countries such as Uruguay are soon expected to join this dubious club.
 
But popularity does not trump truth, and that is what makes the decision to recognize “Palestine” so appalling, because it amounts to nothing less than an outright assault on reality.
 
Here is one simple fact that seems to have escaped the Brazilians, Argentinians and all those other nations out there: there is not, nor has there ever been in all of history, an independent state of Palestine.
 
“Palestine” is a fiction. It is a ruse, a con and a subterfuge, perhaps the greatest deception ever perpetrated since scam-artist George C. Parker began “selling” New York landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge to gullible chumps in the late 19th century.
 
Just take a look at the holy books of the world’s three greatest monotheistic religions: there is no mention of “Palestine” or “Palestinians” in the Torah, nor in the Christian New Testament, nor even in the Muslim Koran.
 
They all speak of Israel or Judea, not Palestine or Palestinians.
 
Even the name “Palestine” has nothing to do with Palestinians – it was invented by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to punish the Jews after the Bar-Kochba revolt against his rule. That was over 500 years before Islam was even founded.
 

To put it quite simply: there is no historical basis to the Palestinian claim to this land.

Just because the United Nations and the Arab states assert otherwise does not make it so.
 
So whether they realize it or not, Brazil and Argentina have just became the latest dupes to buy the Middle Eastern equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge.
 
Consciously or not, they have taken the tall tale told by the Arabs at face value, and conferred legitimacy on a claim with no absolutely no basis whatsoever.
 
Now just imagine if the tables were turned and Israel decided to meddle in Argentinian affairs the way they have stuck their noses into ours.
 
Suppose that Jerusalem were to announce that it is formally recognizing the Falkland Islands, which Argentina fought a war over with England back in 1982, as being an integral part of the United Kingdom.
 
The islands, which Argentina refers to as the Malvinas, have been the subject of a dispute between the two countries since the early part of the 19th century.
 
So if Israel were to side with Britain on the status of the Falklands, how do you think Argentina would react? By denouncing the Jewish state, of course.
 
Does this scenario sound silly? Perhaps. But no more so than Buenos Aires’s recognition of a non-existent Palestinian state with imaginary borders.
 
Sure, Israel’s own government has exacerbated the problem by accepting the principle of a “two-state solution,” making it that much easier for nations around the world to take the next step and recognize “Palestine.”
 
But that in no way absolves the international community or lends any credence to its behavior.
 

For no matter how hard they might push to end the conflict by creating a Palestinian state, a peace based on falsehood is not, and never will be, a real peace.

 

 

Michael Freund is founder of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that helps “lost Jews” return to Zion. His Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month.

Remembering Irene

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

I was in Brazil, speaking to the Jewish community of Sao Paulo, when the sad news of the petira of Irene Klass reached me. Many memories, many scenes, many conversations and experiences flashed through my mind. With Irene’s passing, a whole era – a whole way of thinking, of values, of goals, of idealism – disappeared. Irene had a sense of mission and never allowed politics, petty jealousies or territorial considerations to influence her.

Irene was a visionary, a woman who loved Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael with a passion. She was prepared to climb every mountain to overcome every obstacle for what she knew was our G-d-given heritage and she clung to this goal tenaciously and uncompromisingly.

I first met Irene many, many years ago. I was a newlywed, and my husband, HaRav Meshulem Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, and I were spending the summer at the Pioneer Hotel in the Catskills. I was lecturing and was in charge of shiurim for the day camp. We shared a table in the dining room with Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, and his Rebbetzin, Irene. At that time, Reb Sholom was the editor and publisher of The Brooklyn Daily and he and Irene shared with us their vision of creating a paper to be known as The Jewish Press which would not only report the news, but, more significantly, bring the message of Torah into every Jewish home.

Irene suggested I write a column, and then the discussion came up as to the subject on which the column should focus. My husband immediately suggested that I offer practical advice and guidance. “After all,” he said, “who can do that better than you who were nurtured and taught by the great tzaddik, your father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l?”

Next the question arose as to what the column should be called. Without hesitation, I replied, “If I were to undertake this challenge, I think I would call it “The Rebbetzin’s Viewpoint.” In those days, the title “rebbetzin” – being identified through your husband’s profession – meant you had no identity of your own, and the very title “rebbetzin” connoted that you were who you were only by virtue of your husband’s profession.

“I would like to make the title ‘rebbetzin’ popular and respected,” I said, “so that little girls would aim to become rebbetzins just as they hope to become teachers, nurses or professionals.”

Thus began my relationship with Irene, and with every passing day it grew stronger. She never hesitated to pick up the phone to tell me when she found my article to be particularly good. Her integrity was such that she was always happy to give credit to someone else.

Some years later, I had a vision to start Hineni, a ba’al teshuvah movement that would inspire the Jewish people to say, “Here I am O G-d, ready to do Your bidding, ready to serve You and reach out to our brethren.” In those days, assimilation was rampant and Orthodoxy was ridiculed and looked on as atavistic. I knew I would have to do something extraordinary to reach out to our Jewish community, something that would electrify our people and awaken the “pintele Yid” in them.

To call for such a happening in a synagogue would be futile – young people would simply not come. In those days, Israel Bonds held events in Madison Square Garden at which stars of stage and screen would perform. Often, I mused about how amazing it would be if we could fill the Garden to disseminate Torah and mitzvos. So it was that my vision of awakening and inspiring our nation was born.

Many times I shared my hopes with Irene and she always encouraged me. “What a wonderful idea!” she would say. “Go for it. The Jewish Presswill be there to back you and to help you spread the news.”

To be sure, there were many hurdles to overcome. I didn’t as yet have a viable organization. I had no funds. I was a young rebbetzin with very small children. But my holy father and my esteemed, beloved husband kept telling me, “Uverachticha b’chol asher ta’aseh” – “You need only do it, and the blessing will come from G-d.”

And so it was that, Baruch Hashem, we filled the Garden. The night of the program Irene not only sent a reporter to cover the story, she herself came and insisted on writing up the event. Never was there even a twinge of the “politics” or territorialism that unfortunately marks today’s Jewish scene.

With the help of G-d, that night in the Garden was more than we could have ever anticipated. Thousands were inspired to come back, to explore their roots, to embark upon a voyage of Jewish self-discovery, as the arena resounded with “Shema Yisrael.” On that night, I related the awesome story of our people; I spoke of everything we’d experienced from the genesis of our history. Among the many subjects on which I touched was the silence of the Church and its acquiescence to the annihilation of our people throughout history and during the years of the Holocaust.

As a result, a prominent Catholic priest wrote an inflammatory letter of condemnation to The Jewish Press. Irene asked me if I would like to respond and I immediately accepted the challenge. I wrote a lengthy dissertation documenting the history of the Church vis-a-vis our people throughout the long, painful centuries. The Jewish Press placed the article in its centerfold, and the response was spectacular. Thousands upon thousands of requests for copies flooded the paper and Reb Sholom and Irene published more than 100,000 copies to fill the need.

Irene, I would like to tell you – for I know you are reading this column from the heavens above – that just recently I met with the chief rabbi of the IDF and he told me that for many years now, when teaching the history of our people to the troops, he’s referred to this column.

So, Irene, yasher koach for having had the courage to back me in my stand and for placing that story on your front page as well as in the centerfold.

There is much more that I can write about Reb Sholom and Irene. I could write of the thousands of Jews who’ve told me over the years that The Jewish Press was their first connection to their faith – that it was through The Jewish Pressthat they discovered Torah.

So once again, Reb Sholom and Irene, thank you for having made a difference in our Jewish world. You will never be forgotten, and will always remain in our hearts.

Rest easy, dear friend. Be at peace in the knowledge that your work continues through your dedicated children whose lives are devoted to that which you and Reb Sholom began, May your neshamah have an aliyah and find its repose among the righteous of Israel.

The Early Jewish Settlement Of Newport

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

In 1636 Roger Williams, after having been banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for what were considered radical religious views, settled at the tip of Narragansett Bay. He was joined by twelve other settlers at what he named Providence Plantation, due to his belief that God had sustained him and his followers.

This settlement became the colony of Rhode Island, which was unique in that it guaranteed freedom of religious practice to all. It is little wonder that the colony became a haven for Quakers, Baptists, Jews and other minorities who were prosecuted for their religious beliefs.

It seems Jews first settled in Newport in 1658, though some disagree with this date.

The date of the first arrival of the Jews in Newport has been variously given by different writers. Some give it as 1655, while others state it as 1656, 1657, or 1658. There is also a conflict as to the place [from] whence they came, although all seem to agree that the newcomers were originally from Holland.1

During the middle part of the 17th century the Dutch, acting through the Dutch West India Company, sent out several expeditions of Jews to settle in its possessions in South America. The most well known of these settlements was the one established at Recife, Brazil.2 In 1654 when the Portuguese wrested control of Brazil from the Dutch, the Jews who had been living in Brazil left. Some of these Jews found their way to Jamaica, where they settled.3

In 1655 Jamaica was captured by the British, and regular trade between it and Rhode Island was established. Jews who had fled Brazil most likely learned about the religious freedom permitted in this colony and decided to immigrate there.

Newport was a main port on the eastern coast of America during colonial times and hence an attractive place for Jews to settle. Indeed, Max J. Kohler wrote:

We must discard our present day view of Newport as an important fashionable summer resort, and permit our thoughts to carry us back to the period when, for some thirty years preceding our Revolutionary War, Newport was one of the principal cities in the American colonies. In commercial importance it must be put in the same category with Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Charleston, and it was not the most insignificant, even among these, for, as Edward Eggleston has well said, “he was thought a bold prophet who said then that ‘New York might one day equal Newport,’ for, about 1750, New York sent forth fewer ships than Newport, and not half as many as Boston.”4

 

The total number of Jews who initially settled in Newport was very small, probably no more that fifteen Spanish/Portuguese families. However, their numbers increased with the arrival on August 24, 1694 “of a number of Jewish families of wealth and respectability” from one of the West Indian Islands, most probably Curacao.

Jewish Life in Newport

 

The Jews who settled in Newport soon established the institutions necessary for the proper functioning of Jewish life. A minyan was organized shortly after their arrival in 1658, and services were conducted in private homes for the next 100 years. In 1677 land for a cemetery was purchased. This is the oldest known location of a Jewish cemetery in the United States.

With the arrival in Newport of the Lopez, Rivera, Polock, Hart and Hays families, all Jews, the city entered into an era of prosperity.

It was generally conceded that Newport had every advantage. Wealth had centered here, and was attracting capitalists from every part of the world. Between 1750 and 1760 some hundreds of wealthy Israelites, a most distinguished class of merchants, removed here from Spain, Portugal, Jamaica and other places, and entered largely into business.5 One of them, Mr. Aaron Lopez,6 owned a large fleet of vessels (rising thirty at one time) in the foreign trade, and many more in the coasting trade.

The manufacture of sperm oil and candles was introduced into Newport by the Jews, from Lisbon, between 1745 and 1750, and from that time to 1760 there were put in full operation seventeen factories for these articles alone; also twenty-two distilleries, four sugar refineries, five rope-works, and many large furniture factories, shipping immense quantities of furniture to New York, the West Indies, Surinam and many other places. In 1770 mention [was] made of eighteen West India vessels arriving here in one day.

As has just been indicated, the Jewish merchant princes were not merely the capitalists who furnished the wherewithal for this trade, but their enterprise created the trade itself, introduced the new arts and industries involved, and furnished the trade connections through their co-religionists in the different foreign ports with which the relations were formed.7

The Jews of Newport participated in the general life of the city and were viewed most favorably by their non-Jewish neighbors. One gentile writer wrote:

The Jews who settled in Newport were not only noted for their knowledge of mercantile and commercial affairs, but also for their industry, enterprise, and probity. They kept to their callings, took but little part in politics – at least there is no evidence that they gave much attention to the discussion of public questions – and they seem to have avoided both the marine and military service. They were neither good sailors nor good soldiers; nor do they appear to have been very fond of books. Moses Lopez and Jacob Joseph, it is true, were numbered among the founders of the Redwood Library, and in 1758 Jacob Rodriguez Riviera was a stockholder in that institution but this may be taken as one of many evidences of their desire to promote whatever promised to be a public benefit. Their business, with but few exceptions, they made a success, and in all things appertaining to their devotions they were exact.8

The American Revolution Leads to Decline

 

The residents of Newport, Jewish as well as gentile, flourished until the American Revolution. Rhode Island declared its independence from Britain two months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Given its large harbor and strategic location, Newport was a prime target of the British. The port was blockaded by the British fleet and Newport was soon under British control. This occupation was a devastating blow to the economy of the community. Many residents left rather than submit to British rule.

Almost all the prominent Jewish merchants fled the city, and Newport never regained its commercial prominence. By the early 1800s the Jewish community was essentially non-existent. During most of the 19th century almost no Jews resided in Newport, and the Touro Synagogue was used only on rare occasions. The descendents of Newport’s once flourishing Jewish community scattered throughout America. Sadly, many lost their Jewishness through intermarriage and assimilation.

This marked the end of a glorious chapter in America Jewish history. Indeed, in 1858 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote his famous poem “The Jewish Cemetery at Newport” in which he wrote in part

 

Closed are the portals of their Synagogue,

No Psalms of David now the silence break,

No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue

In the grand dialect the Prophets spake.

Gone are the living, but the dead remain,

And not neglected; for a hand unseen,

Scattering its bounty, like a summer rain,

Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green.9

 

[1] “The First Settlement of the Jews in Newport: Some New Matter on the Subject” by Samuel Oppenheim, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961); 1937; 34, AJHS Journal.

2 See “Recife – The First Jewish Community in the New World,” The Jewish Press, June 3, 2005, page 32.

3 See Caribbean Jewish Communities in the 17th and 18th Centuries – Part I, The Jewish Press, October 4, 2006, page 28.

4 “The Jews in Newport by Max J. Kohler,” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961); 1898; 6, AJHS Journal.

5 This number is most probably inflated, unless many of those who came left. Ezra Stiles wrote that he estimated there were about 30 Jewish families in Newport in 1760. (“Ezra Stiles and the Jews”by Reverend W. Willner, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961);1900; 8, AJHS Journal.)

6 For information about Aaron Lopez, see “Aaron Lopez, Colonial American Merchant Prince,” The Jewish Press, October 7, 2005, page 36.

7 Ibid.

8 Reminiscences of Newport by George Champlin Mason, published by Charles E. Hammett, Jr., 1884, page 54. This book may be downloaded at no cost from http://books.google.com

9 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touro_Synagogue_Cemeter for the complete text of this beautiful poem.

 

 

Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu

The Power Of Chesed

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

(This story was originally published in The Jewish Press, “Lesson in Emunah,” entitled “The Power of the Mitzvah,” February 7 and 14, 1992, but additional events warranted an update.)

My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for several years. We’d gone to specialists and come pretty close a few times. The first pregnancy ended prematurely, when our twins were born in the sixth month, and were simply too tiny to make it through the night. I was told I would need surgery and complete bed rest during any subsequent pregnancy to avoid another such incident, G-d forbid. I became pregnant immediately after that, but it was not meant to be … very early, before surgery could be considered, it was all over.

During the next few years, we continued to visit a variety of doctors. Since my husband and I had both been working all these years, we were able to “live the good life,” as they say, but it was truly empty, without children.

It was Thursday, July 3, and everyone in Manhattan was leaving early for the July 4th weekend. My boss allowed me to go, as well, so I walked the two blocks to our restaurant, where my husband was already closing up for the weekend. We had planned to go to the fireworks display that evening.

The lights were out, and my husband and I were ready to leave, when an older gentleman walked in, clearly distressed. He was en route home to Brazil from a business trip to Israel. He had come to Manhattan between flights for some kosher food, and while eating in the park nearby, several teenagers ran off with his suitcase. Everything of value was gone … his siddur, tefillin, ticket/boarding pass, passport, travelers’ checks. He did not know where to turn. He spoke a broken English, but I was able to speak to him in Hebrew.

We called the police, but they never showed up. We walked up and down the street to find a police officer, but could not find one. We tried calling his consulate for a visa to return to Brazil, but they were closed for the weekend. Nothing was going well.

Finally, he decided to head for the airline ticket office to see what he could do. When he failed to get a ride, he set out to walk the few blocks.

My husband locked up the restaurant and we began to head home. We both felt terrible, but what could we do? Then, my husband said he wanted to invite the gentleman home with us for the weekend until he could get back to Brazil, but he didn’t know how I would feel about that. I told him that I was thinking the same thing, and we quickly turned the car around to see if we could catch up with him.

Upon our arrival to the ticket office, we found him pleading with the only employee in the dimly lit office. She said that she could not help him, that she would record the theft, but that he would have to pay for another ticket, and would first need a visa. He continued to call the consulate, leaving numbers after the beep, but none of the calls got a response. The employee advised him to go to the police precinct to officially report the theft in the hopes that someone might return some of his belongings.

I told him that he should not worry, that he should not purchase a new ticket yet, and that we would accompany him to the police station. He was visibly shaken, and asked me if I could direct him to a Chabad house. I told him that if he could not get on his flight, he was more than welcome to our home until things got straightened out.

When we got to the police station, my husband waited in the car. We were starting to feel a special closeness to this elderly gentleman. He was akin to a zeide. We proceeded to report the incident, detailing the items in the carry-on bag which were now lost, while I translated to the officers.

As we were about to leave, the phone rang. It was the consulate. The lady from the consulate had called the ticket office in response to our many phone calls, and the employee advised her to call the police station. We explained the situation, and she told us that she was calling from home, but this constituted an emergency, and it would take her approximately an hour to return to the consulate, but he would need passport photos first. I told her I would try to find a photo store, and made a set time and place to meet her.

When we left the precinct, I told my husband what had happened. I was so happy that the lady had called. There was no question that we were going to follow through. We decided that I would go with this gentleman for passport photos. We found a place nearby, and although I offered to pay, he declined, saying he had some money left in his pocket. Then we waited outside for my husband to return with the car. I was quite nervous, since we were in a seedy neighborhood.

I was so thankful when my husband returned, and we proceeded to the planned meeting place. We arrived early, and he had enough time to call his wife in Brazil to tell her what was happening, in case he missed his flight.

The woman arrived, opened up the consulate and began to prepare the visa documentation. We had to agree that we would pay for the ticket if necessary, since the visa would only be valid for 24 hours. She was a lovely woman, and did what was necessary.

When the paperwork was completed, she called another man from the consulate at home. She asked if he would come in to sign it the visa in order to validate it. He refused, saying we would have to come to his apartment, across town. So off we went. I waited in the car this time, while my husband went upstairs with our “zeide” for the proper signature.

With the visa stamped, our next stop was the airport. We arrived at JFK, found the airline, and waited on line. When we got to the front, we explained the situation, showed the police report, and he was, thank G-d, automatically issued a new boarding pass! No additional money was necessary. I gave him a pocket siddur and our name and address. We wished him luck, gave him a hug, a kiss on the cheek, and sent him on his way. We watched as he went through the security gates, thanking G-d that he had been able to make it in time. We were crying, happy he made it, but almost sad to see him go. He was so grateful to us for helping him, telling us over and over again that he did not think he would have made it without us.

I secretly hoped that I would hear from him. Some days later I received a little package from Brazil. It was my siddur, along with a very cherished letter … a note with a bracha from our very own shaliach. I missed him, but I was grateful to Hashem for allowing my husband and I the opportunity to do such a great mitzvah.

When we told people what had happened, they told us that we were good people and they didn’t think they would have done so much for a stranger. But the funny thing was that we truly didn’t feel as though we had done so much. Things kind of went along, and came together, and G-d helped us every step of the way. There wasn’t much time to think about what we were doing. We just knew that it had to be done and we did what was necessary. It became an adventure, and was much more fulfilling than any fireworks display would have been. We felt good about ourselves, better than we ever had.

Several months went by, and I discovered I was pregnant! Though a difficult pregnancy, I was expected to deliver early in the ninth month. As the ninth month drew to a close, and I found myself overdue, I realized that I would give birth on July 3.

After three days of uneventful labor, I gave birth on July 3, just before midnight (a week overdue)! Everyone at the hospital thought I would want a “July 4th baby,” but in my heart I was hoping for the third. We knew that our special gift was given to us on July 3, in the evening (I went into the hospital at 5:00 p.m., the same time we had caught up with the gentleman at the ticket counter, exactly one year to the day). I wanted to be able to tell our story to others, and show the power of doing mitzvot. We felt that we had been given a chance to perhaps save a Jewish life, and were rewarded with the greatest gift of all … a new, precious life.

We named our daughter Eliana, which means “My G-d answered me,” and we thank G-d every day for answering our prayers, and for helping us see the power of good in doing mitzvot. We were appreciative for the opportunity to see the purpose and meaning in life that most people do not get to see.

May Eliana grow up to be a source of nachas in our lives, and may she be a source of spiritual strength and inspiration to all those who meet her, and hear her story. May we all learn from the power of mitzvot. Amen!

Amazingly, the story does not end there.

Ten years after Eliana was born, a rabbi who wanted to use our story for inspiration in his Yom Kippur drasha approached us. We were asked to recall the details. I can only assume that this reminded Hashem of our story, because shortly after that I was shocked to find out that I was, once again, pregnant! Although it would be close, July 3 the following year would have been more than a week overdue, so I figured that it would not play into this story. The pregnancy was uneventful, and I stayed on bed rest as instructed.

Several days before my due date, I arrived at the doctor’s office for a checkup. During a routine sonogram, he noticed that the amniotic fluid was beginning to diminish and advised me to return the following day. The next day, a different doctor did a sonogram, and confirmed that the amniotic fluid was “in pockets” rather than surrounding the entire baby. Since the due date was a mere several days away, and the baby was definitely over seven pounds, he decided it was best to check into the hospital to be induced for labor. He called the hospital, and relayed that we should be there “at 5:00 p.m.” (note the time). At the hospital they told me that the process of inducing labor could take as much as two days. Throughout the night, labor progressed very slowly, but by early morning, I was taken into the birthing area.

Around 10 a.m. I realized that things had started moving very quickly and the doctor was shocked to find out that the baby was about to be born. At 10:31 a.m., on Friday morning, June 22, David Netanel (which means “Beloved Gift from G-d”) came into this world.

After I arrived home from the hospital, it occurred to me to check a calendar for the Hebrew date for the evening of July 3, 1989 (the date of the incident with the gentleman), and I saw that it was Rosh Chodesh Tammuz (the evening of July 3 was actually Alef Tammuz). Imagine my utter shock when I realized that the evening of June 21 through the next day, June 22, is actually Rosh Chodesh Tammuz (Alef Tammuz). Of our two children, one was born on the English anniversary, and the other on the Hebrew anniversary of that incredible day so many years earlier.

We are grateful to Hashem for giving us these two precious gifts … our “mitzvah children” … and we are in awe that the mitzvah we did so many years ago continues to retain so much power. I guess you never really know how far-reaching a seemingly simple act of chesed can be. Who knows what we could accomplish and how quickly Moshiach would arrive if we could all strive to do chesed, especially when the opportunity just falls into our laps. Had we skipped our opportunity, look what we would have missed!

Orange Chanukah Dreidel Cookies

Friday, December 19th, 2008

The dreidel is one of the best-known games during Chanukah. This four-sided spinning top has four letters: Shin, Hey, Gimmel and Nun. These letters mean “a great miracle happened there.”  Each letter has a fate, Nun means nothing happens, and the next player spins the dreidel, Gimmel takes all the tokens in the pot, Hey takes half the pot and Shin the player must put one token in the pot.

As well as playing the dreidel game with chocolate Chanukah gelt, why not play with these Chanukah cookies! These delicious dreidel shaped cookies are light and simple to make.  You can shape them using a dreidel cutter (I found some on the internet) but you can make them using a paper template and drawing round that. For an authentic look, you can also pipe a selection of Shin, Hey, Gimmel and Nun Hebrew letters using ready made colored icing. Little helpers will love making these!

To grind the Brazil nuts, place in a food processor for 2-3 minutes until completely ground.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes; Cooking Time: 15 minutes; Makes: 60 cookies

Ingredients

Orange Chanukah Dreidel Cookies

Friday, December 19th, 2008

The dreidel is one of the best-known games during Chanukah. This four-sided spinning top has four letters: Shin, Hey, Gimmel and Nun. These letters mean “a great miracle happened there.”  Each letter has a fate, Nun means nothing happens, and the next player spins the dreidel, Gimmel takes all the tokens in the pot, Hey takes half the pot and Shin the player must put one token in the pot.


As well as playing the dreidel game with chocolate Chanukah gelt, why not play with these Chanukah cookies! These delicious dreidel shaped cookies are light and simple to make.  You can shape them using a dreidel cutter (I found some on the internet) but you can make them using a paper template and drawing round that. For an authentic look, you can also pipe a selection of Shin, Hey, Gimmel and Nun Hebrew letters using ready made colored icing. Little helpers will love making these!


To grind the Brazil nuts, place in a food processor for 2-3 minutes until completely ground.


Preparation Time: 20 minutes; Cooking Time: 15 minutes; Makes: 60 cookies


Ingredients
½ cup margarine/unsalted butter
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 cup ground Brazil nuts – ground in a food processor
1 cup all purpose plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
Topping: Colored icing, colored sprinkles


Method
1. In a food processor, cream together butter or margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Stir in the egg, orange zest, and ground Brazil nuts.
3. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add to the creamed mixture.
4. Mix well. Stir in almond extract.
5. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
6. Roll out dough 1 inch thick on a lightly floured board.
7. Cut into dreidel shapes or other desired shapes.
8. Bake on a tray lined with non-stick baking parchment paper for 15 minutes.
9. When cool, pipe a selection of Hebrew letters. Can be frozen or stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/food/orange-chanukah-dreidel-cookies/2008/12/19/

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