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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘CHILDREN’

A Soldier’s Mother: Separating the Sportsmen from the Children

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

The Olympics are, for much of the world, an exciting opportunity to watch what can arguably be called the largest, most diverse and clearly most global competition that takes place just once every four years. For Israelis, the Olympics comes each time with tremendous emotional baggage. I was 12 years old when the Israelis went to Munich. I remember clearly being told that there had been a terror attack and Israelis were being held hostage.

From that moment, the sun stopped shining, the world stopped turning. My complete focus was on Munich…and then, the Olympic committee ordered the games to continue and I was torn between anger deeper than any I had ever felt and utter shock. How…how could they play games while men’s lives were in danger? My 12-year-old mind looked to the adults, begged them to explain how it was possible that the games would continue. Nothing had meaning; the essence of the Olympics – the values, all gone. The Olympics were supposed to be about bringing mankind closer together to share a commonality that crosses borders but once again, Israel was made to stand alone.

It was our team, our world, our Jews isolated, held hostage, and ultimately murdered and mutilated. Even that fact was kept from us for over 20 years. Mutilated. That’s what the Palestinian terrorists under the guidance of Mahmoud Abbas did. But we didn’t know that then. We held on to the desperate hope that somehow this would turn around.

And then word that the Germans had mounted a rescue…some rescue…I would learn later. Three of the hijackers survived and all of the hostages were murdered? You call that a rescue? The Olympics were never the same for me. I barely can watch them. For all of these forty plus years, even a moment of silence was denied to these men who had come ready to join what was supposed to be the ultimate symbol of hope and peace. Each time the games were held, we held our breaths. Just let them come home safely. That’s really all we want each time. A medal is nice, but please God, just let them be safe.

This year, I was happy to see that the Olympic committee had finally agreed to recognize the murdered Israelis and the opening ceremony was set to be a great event. Only the Lebanese children didn’t want to play nicely. They refused to allow the Israeli team to board the bus.

I’m proud of the Israeli team for refusing the Olympic committee’s attempt to divide the group and spread them among the other buses, and I’m baffled at what idiot thought to put the Lebanese and Israeli teams together in the first place. And when the Lebanese blocked the doors of the bus, why didn’t the Olympic committee members order them to get off the bus, load the Israelis on, and hand the Lebanese a map to the Stadium and tell them they should hurry or they would miss the ceremony.

Then, right after the Lebanese children escaped without being disciplines, a Saudi child refused to enter a judo competition because he was set to compete against an Israeli man. And again, the Olympic committee didn’t turn around and tell the Saudis to pack their bags and leave. The Olympics is not meant for spoiled brats. But no, nothing. Silence – as sickening and wrong as the silence that descended back in 1972 when people asked how the games could possibly go on. And now, a Syrian child has refused to enter the competition because he might have to shake the hand of the Israeli boxer. And again, why is the Syrian team told to make their way back to the airport and fly back to their peaceful home where more than 400,000 Syrians have been killed while much of the world does little to really stop the violence.

Once again, the Olympic committee chooses the path of silence and shame, as they did in 1972, as they did for 40 years, and now as they watch in silence as three Arab countries attempt to humiliate Israel. And the irony is that the only ones who should feel humiliated are the so-called athletes of these countries.

Since it is clear that these actions were part of the will of their teams, I am baffled as to why the Olympic committee is not automatically disqualifying these teams entirely from the competition.

The Olympic committee will have to explain why they allow politics to take front stage at the Olympics?

On the bright side, with each refusal, Israelis are becoming less angry and more amused. Ultimately, as I watched Israeli’s champion, Sagi Muki compete in the semi-finals, I saw a man, a sportsman and more, I saw grace, maturity, and respect as he entered the competition, and lost.

The Olympics really isn’t about winning or losing. It isn’t really about the medals. It is about coming together, putting aside the politics of nations and sharing what should be the love of competition, the fun of the sport. It is about the dignity of trying your hardest and showing that there is no shame in not winning because merely to get to the point of competing shows you are a champion.

Shame on the Lebanese, Saudi, and Syrian children who will, perhaps, one day grow up and hopefully recognize how utterly childish they were, there in front of all the world to see. Congratulations to the Israeli team for acting with dignity and self-respect, for making us all proud.

It really isn’t about how many medals you win or you don’t win; it’s how you enter the competition and how you leave it. Sagi, we are all proud of you…you are a champion simply for how you behaved and we in Israel salute you!


Paula Stern

Khaled Abu Toameh: PA Police Break Legs of Arab Children

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Israeli Arab Award winning journalist, lecturer and documentary filmmaker Khaled Abu Toameh on Saturday tweeted that “Palestinian policemen broke arms and legs of children during protest against power cuts in Yamoun, Jenin.”

Abu Toameh is a staunch defender of freedom of speech and has criticized the Palestinian Authority for arresting and harassing Palestinian journalists in the West Bank.

In the Durban Review Conference, Abu Toameh criticized Israeli Arab Knesset members for supporting extremism and calling Israel a “state of apartheid” rather than fighting for the rights of Arab citizens of Israel.

Abu Toameh says he is routinely subject to condemnations, and is often threatened. He notes, however, that more threats are coming from outside the Middle East than from within the Palestinian Authority, and that those who threaten him “roundly acknowledge” that he is telling the truth and don’t question his reporting, but merely want him to “shut up.”



David Israel

300 Bereaved Children Fly Balloons in Colors of French Flag

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Hundreds of children of bereaved families participating in the ‘OneFamily’ organization summer camp in northern Israel, gathered Sunday evening near the border with Syria and Lebanon to show their solidarity with the victims of last weekend’s terror attack in Nice, France.

The children sang songs and flew balloons in the colors of the French flag, noted the director of the camp, “so that everyone will see, even beyond this border, what our true strength is – the power of being ‘together.'” Around 300 children participated from various bereaved families, who lost loved ones from the terror attacks, military operations and wars of the last 15 years.

The event took place at the historic ‘Tel Hai’ site in the Galilee panhandle, not far from the border with Lebanon and the Border with Syria.

Chantal Belzberg, director of ‘OneFamily’ and one of the summer camp’s directors initiated the gesture of solidarity near the border.

“Sadly, in the past few days alone, dozens of new families have joined our ‘togetherness’, who suffered losses or saw a family member hurt in the recent terror attack in Nice, France.

“From here we want to tell them that: We stand by you. We know what you are going through. Your victory and our victory over terror will be done by the growth in spite of the pain. And it comes, among other things, through the ‘Togetherness'”.

The entire event, which was held under the banner of “The Power of Together”, included singing by the children and other artistic performances which took place at the historic site.

Na’ama Frenkel (8), little sister of Naftali Frenkel z’l, (murdered with two friends in 2014) shared her longing for her big brother and her way of coping with the pain.

“When I am sad, I talk to Naftali, I pull over, sit and talk to him. I have a notebook where I write to him and tell him about the things that are happening to me. In one of the days I wrote to him saying: ‘Naftali, I miss you. I hope there is nothing missing for you up there. I’m missing you. I want to get to you in heaven, I want to sit by your side and talk with you… With love, until we meet again…”

“Here with the feeling of ‘Togetherness”, it’s not like in school or anywhere else (…) the counselors are like Mom and Dad and also like friends to me. When I am sad, they come sit next to me and talk with me. They feel sad with me but they don’t cry. That helps me, it makes me stronger.”

Hana Levi Julian

How To Travel With Children

Friday, July 15th, 2016

During the darkest, coldest days of winter, nothing seems to warm one’s heart and mind more than discussions of what vacations we should take. As travel forums and cheap deal sites abound, opportunities are virtually endless. As parents, our first responsibility is to our little ones, of course. Should we take them with us as we jet around the world for less than a bus trip to Grandma?

There are many who would say that a vacation with children is not a vacation, that you will be so busy doing child-friendly activities, you won’t have any time for yourself, the children will be cranky without their normal sleep and eating schedules, that you will be squished into a hotel room and trapped there after 8 pm while being woken up at 6 am…. the list goes on.Baim-071516-Hubby

The reason why I know this list so well is because I used to think that way. Any money spent on vacation with children was wasted because nobody enjoyed the time anyway. However, we recently took our three children (ages 4-8) to California for 48 hours and they managed so well, I was forced to rethink my entire conviction that nobody under 18 needs a vacation.

Here are some benefits children receive from family travel:

Increased quality family time. All too often, parents are rushing through the evening routine so that they can get back to their chores and/or work. On vacation, when work is a distant thought (unless you brought work with you; we will deal with that in a future article), and there aren’t any chores to do, parents can focus on their children without any distractions. This increased family time helps families develop more love and affection that stays around even when vacation is over.

Memory creator. Many studies show that people are happier with good memories then with more stuff. Very often, we are tempted to “buy” off our children with prizes for their charts, good marks in school or birthdays. But saving up that money and spending it on vacation can create fabulous memories that will generate good feelings for a lifetime, especially if you ever print out those pictures.

Get to know each other better. Studies by Disney Time Survey (and they would know) say that a vacation is a great opportunity for parents and children to get to know each other as individuals, thanks to all the great quality time we spend talking with each other. Now your children can find out exactly what you do at work, and you can find out how they are really doing in school.

Widen their perspective. Taking children out of their typical setting and immersing them in a different environment where they can see how others live, work, and play enables them to be able to appreciate different perspectives and realize the world does not, in fact, revolve around them. In addition, viewing other cultures gives children a richer and deeper appreciation for our colorful and diverse world.

If that all sounds lovely and beautiful, but you are unsure how to take your children on vacation and actually enjoy any part of it, try these helpful tips.

  1. Always fly at night. This way, children can sleep at least for part of the flight, a multi-step process.

Pack healthy food for the plane. This is a good way to begin your trip in general, when thoughts of “we are on vacation, let’s party” can derail any healthy eating the family usually does. Eating junk food the entire time will make anyone cranky, and won’t help the children settle down. Eating a healthy dinner on the plane, such as whole wheat bread with avocado, cream cheese or peanut butter, along with plenty of water, fruit, sliced veggies, and some whole-grain pretzels, raisins, or whole-grain crackers later for snack, allows your child to feel full and satiated and makes it easier for him or her to fall asleep.

Baim-071516-AirportTell your children ahead of time how much screen time they are allowed and then enforce it. Don’t give in to “let them watch as long as they are quiet” because they won’t be able to fall asleep while they are watching, even if they insist they can. The screen is two inches from their face; they can barely manage to blink.

Once dinner and screen time is over, the children should change into pajamas if they haven’t already. As much as possible, do their bed time routine of songs, Shema, and a bed time story; although you are on a plane, the children will still respond to the familiar routine.

Either bring blankets from home or get from the flight attendants. Bring sweatshirts for added coziness as the blankets are sure to fall off. A hood on a sweatshirt also blocks out a little of the airplane noise. I like to give my children sleep masks to make it as dark as possible. Then, I sit with them one at a time and insist they keep their eyes closed and not talk. It doesn’t take too long before they are sleeping as if they are tucked into their beds at home.


  1. Once you land, keeping a healthy routine is essential for everybody to have a good time. Avoid falling into the trap of going out to eat three times a day. Prepare ahead with healthy snacks and water bottles to keep everyone satiated and sane. When going out to eat, stick with healthy choices and smart portion sizes. Your body will thank you and your children will feel balanced.


  1. As much as possible, stick to their typical morning and evening routines. This means if your children usually go to bed between 7 and 8, have them do that while you are on vacation as well. If the thought of being stuck in your hotel room at 8 makes you antsy, remember how much better everyone will feel after a good night’s sleep. If you are in a Jewish neighborhood and your husband is catching the local minyan, ask if anyone has teenagers who could babysit so you and your spouse can have some adult time.


  1. Don’t stress the details. Obviously, you and your children will not have the same interests, and possibly neither will you and your spouse. The main thing to remember is that you are out of the house and enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes a leisurely breakfast and stroll around the neighborhood is enough to satisfy everyone while creating life-long memories.
Pnina Baim

The Special Relationship Of Children To God

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

The Talmud in several areas stresses the effects of studying a subject when one is young. At one point it quotes an incident of a sage who forgot a Jewish law and attributed his lapse in memory to the fact that he didn’t study it when he was very young.

Pirkei Avot compares the acquisition of knowledge of a child to writing on a blank piece of paper that has never been erased, while that of an adult to a paper that is full of erasures. The muddled and ambiguity of the adult mind pales to the lucidity and the innocence of the mind of a child. Wordsworth in his famous poem “Intimations of Immortality” alludes to the uniqueness of a child and the unique relationship that they have to their creator. Indeed Jewish tradition speaks of the singular connection that children have with almighty God. Their prayers are accepted more readily because of their innocence and because of their uncanny ability to understand the unlimited powers of the creator. For children time is endless, with no beginning or end. So too our creator has neither beginning nor end; for Almighty God, time is boundless. Children identify uniquely with their creator by the sheer fact that they are closer to their birth time. The further we move from our birth, the more we fill our minds with doubt and question regarding our creator.

At the same time that they are so close to God, a child’s mind is so impressionable. What we teach our children-the impressions that we place upon their minds-become indelible in shaping their future existence and destiny. Often, remarks that are made to children when they are young never leave them and are their source of strength or weakness in the years to come.

I remember vividly as a young third grader sitting in class and being actively involved in the Chumash lesson of my teacher. At one point the text was confusing to me and I raised my hand to ask a question. For me the question that I was about to ask had value and I was always taught by my parents that one must ask questions to gain knowledge. I believed that the answer was essential for me to understand the lesson. However when I asked the question the teacher innocently and without malice or forethought laughed and said that my question was stupid and the answer was obvious. He called it a klutz kasha, an idiot question.

That remark, as innocent as it was, remained with me even until today. When I sit at a shiur I hesitate to ask a question because of that remark that was made to me decades ago. Though there is no logical reasoning behind my fears, that feeling of inadequacy that I received as a young lad remains with me even today.

We all know that sibling relationships reenact themselves when in the presence of parents. Even when we are older and married, we slip back to the times that we were children. The same child, who was looked upon as the smartest, again takes on the same role that he had when he was growing up, regardless of how successful he has become or whether his siblings have surpassed him in their intellectual abilities.

The Talmud in Taanit states that if you see a student who is not successful in his studies it is because his/her teacher did not smile at him/her. Once again stressing the delicate and impressionable minds of our children and the enormous responsibility that educators have in assuring that these imprints are wholesome and positive.

Rabbi Mordechai Weiss

To Sing A New Song… Our Children And Students

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

When I was a principal, I would often walk through the halls of my school during class. When I did, I would glance in the classrooms and, even with the doors closed and in the relative silence of the hallway, I would be able to identify what I considered a “successful” classroom.

It is, of course, easy to identify an “unsuccessful” classroom – when students are not paying attention; when they are disruptive; when the teacher sits behind the desk and shows no enthusiasm for his material or the delivery of it. These are “red flags” that cry out, unsuccessful. But successful? For me, when I saw students engaged in the instruction and, most importantly, when I saw them actively participating then I knew there was successful teaching and learning going on. That is, if I could see evidence of students learning independently then I knew I was witnessing a successful classroom. Without exception, when I saw a classroom with students participating, I saw a teacher with a smile on his face.

That smile told me that my teacher found joy not just in the material he was teaching – after all, in Jewish day schools and yeshivas is not all our material valuable and worthy of our joyous review and teaching? – but, more importantly, the joy of his students’ learning!

Thinking back on that time, I think about the advice a colleague shared with his teachers. He told them, “Make your classroom like your home and treat your students as your guests.” And another, who wisely noted that teaching, is really just another form of “parenting.”

We intuitively understand the close connection between parenting and teaching. After all, we refer to our colleges as our alma maters – our “nurturing mothers.”

Teaching and parenting. Two sides of the same coin. In both, it is essential that we are “successful.” The question is, What does that mean?

When I was in the classroom, I cherished the moments when I reviewed text and ideas with my students but my greatest joy was when they were able to take what I shared with them and discover something new and unique.

I reveled in their independence. It seems odd to say that as a teacher, when for so many the role of teacher is to “pass along” knowledge. But learning is not and should not be passive.   Students are not mere vessels to be filled with information.

There is much a student or child can do simply by “following instruction.” Swimming is not one of them! To swim is to be independent, is to have the judgment and intelligence to read changing variables and tides, to be able manage shallow shoals and dangerous depths. That is what a teacher – and a parent – must prepare a student and child to do.

Not long ago, a mother and father wrote to a rebbi, saying they had waited for the day when their son, who had always been a caring and good student, “would pick up a Gemarah on his own on a Shabbos afternoon.” That day finally arrived just as their son was getting ready to graduate 12th grade.

That school succeeded!  Those parents succeeded!

The child could swim!

* * *

As the child, so too the Children of Israel.

There were two great songs recorded in the Torah, the more famous being Az Yashir. “Then sang Moshe and B’nai Yisrael this shirah…”, praising the splitting of the yam suf and allowing the Children of Israel to be free at last from their bondage in Mitzrayim.   The other, less well known, is tucked away near the end of Chukas, a short song of gratitude for the uninterrupted supply of water (the well!) throughout the forty years sojourn in the desert.  “Then Israel sang this song; ‘Come up, O well, announce it! Well that the princes dug, that the nobles of the people excavated, through a lawgiver, with their staff. A gift from the Wilderness.” The song then traces the path of the well /water that followed the nation, no matter how high the elevation or difficult the terrain. The gift went from the valley to the heights. And from the heights to the valley in the field of Moab, at the top of the peak, overlooking the surface of the wilderness.

The irony of childhood is that it is only after it is over, when we are adults and independent, do we realize that we were in a period of innocence, that we could not have become what we’ve become without the guidance and wisdom of our parents.

So too, as the Children of Israel sang, they finally understood that they could never have made it without God’s constant and consistent be’er –well – supply of water, but make it they did. They are about to enter the Land, and are leaving God a note of thanks, very much like the bride tucking a thank you note for her parents before leaving for the Chupah, or the student for his rebbi before graduation. They are saying “thank you” knowing that they are able to move forward independently because they had been nurtured and loved – and prepared and expected to be independent!

The Promised Land was a long, hard forty years away. The ‘Song of the Well’ was celebrated at the end of that long journey. Throughout that journey, Moshe taught many important lessons, lessons that B’nai Yisrael fortunately absorbed.

When they first escaped Mitzrayim, the people were burdened with a slave mentality; they were like little children who had to be taught everything, even how to say “thank you” for their deliverance.   Thus, az yashir Moshe and B’nai Yisrael. But then, forty years hence, after hardships and joys, after the lessons of Sinai, including more than half of Torah mitzvoth bein adam l’chaveiro, with countless lessons of gratitude and appreciation conveyed everywhere in the Torah it was “graduation” time, it was time to step forward as a proud, independent nation. It was time for Moshe, as a parent and teacher would, to sit back confident and gratified that the children will do the right thing, they will say “thank you” to God.

They had learned to learn on their own.

Was it hard for Moshe to stay silent and not sing with them? Of course. It was hard for him and for them. It is always “easier” for parents to “do for” their children; it is always easier for the teacher to tell the student what he or she needs to know. But how much more joyous, how much more satisfying, how much more meaningful to have brought children and students to the place where they can “do it themselves”?

Moshe, the archetypal parent and teacher, has shown how to raise children and teach students. He is shepping the nachas!

Moshe is not simply hearing a repetition of the song he led B’nei Yisrael in singing. He is hearing a new song. And that is the greatest joy of the parent and the teacher, to hear his or her child or student sing a “new song”, a song that could never have been sung without their love, guidance and faith – faith in the child to one day walk forward as an individual!

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Gazan Children at Play [photos]

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Children in Gaza played with their toy guns for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, on July 7, 2016.

The celebration of Eid usually starts with an early morning prayer, followed by a visit to the tombs of loved ones, and then the children pretend to be Islamic terrorists by lining up their friends against the wall and executing them (pretend of course).

Needless to say, normal children don’t hold toy gun battles like this.

.Gaza children play with their toy guns

Gaza children play with their toy guns

Photo of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/gazan-children-at-play-photos/2016/07/11/

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