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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘dream’

NCFJE’s Toys For Children: Bringing Cheer To Those Who Need It Most

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Huge plush teddy bears greet me as soon as I walk through the door. Puzzles line the shelves along with boxes of Lego and dress-up clothes. Every few inches another toy. Another game. Another child’s dream.

I finger a strand of colorful beads and imagine a little girl, whose hair has fallen out due to medical treatments, putting the necklace over her head with the brightest smile. The Battleship game my friends and I have fond memories of playing with as children – perhaps it will go to a paralyzed boy to play with when his classmates come to visit him at the hospital.

While walking through FAO Schwarz makes anyone’s heart beat a bit faster, walking among the toys carefully selected by director Rabbi Shloma Leib Abramowitz and coordinator Mrs. Baila Hecht of Toys for Hospitalized Children makes one’s heart beat with a powerful purpose. These toys will put smiles on the faces of so many children who presently have few reminders in their lives of what it means to be happy.

For so many youngsters, hospitals and rehabilitation centers all around the country have unfortunately become their reality. It is for these residents that such toys will bring some light and cheer.

Since its founding in 1954 as a project of National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education, Toys for Hospitalized Children has grown tremendously in its services and offerings. This year, during the holiday season extending from November through January, approximately 15,000 toys were distributed in the U.S. In addition to providing children in hospitals with toys, Toys for Hospitalized Children (THC) has expanded to cater to seniors, individuals living in shelters, all aged people with autism and special needs, infants and their destitute families, and others.

* * * * *

It’s holiday season when a group of girls arrives at the pediatric wing of Beth Israel Hospital in New York City. Arms laden with boxes of toys, the girls’ excitement is infectious.

In the main waiting room, Mrs. Hecht goes down the list of names with the girls and begins handing toys to them with personalized instructions. “This teddy bear is for 4-year-old Rachel in the corner room. You can give her this necklace too – the beads are large enough that she won’t hurt herself.

“Here, you will visit Bobby – wear this mask because his room must be germ-free – and give him this remote-operated helicopter. He will like it because his father is a pilot, and since he is bed-bound he can watch it soar around the room.

“And, give these to Stacy, please, in the second room down there on the left. She will love the princess stickers and dress-up gloves because she’s a girlie-girl, and since she has acute asthma this is better for her than the stuffed animals.”

Standing off to the side in the waiting room, sipping from a juice box, is a 10-year-old boy whose brother is sitting in a wheelchair before a television set, an IV bag hanging by his side. The big brother eyes the group with widening eyes – he’s never seen anything happy when visiting his sick brother here before. Suddenly spotting him, one of the students, at Mrs. Hecht’s encouragement, hands the boy a book he might enjoy. A smile quickly spreads across his face and he asks if he could have another that he can read to his brother. Then, armed with the two books, he wheels his wheelchair-bound brother to a quiet corner of the room and flips open one of the books to begin reading aloud.

Time and again Toys for Hospitalized Children brings sparkle and sunshine to the lives of people of all ages. While the allocation of goods is non-denominational, Mrs. Hecht ensures that those who need them the most receive them right away.

(In addition to distributing toys to hospitalized kids, THC makes discrete handouts to needy families. Items are offered to seniors as well. While distributing gifts and jelly doughnuts on Chanukah this year to residents at Belle Harbor Manor, an assisted living facility in New York, a volunteer named Esther says she felt immense joy from seeing the recipients’ happy faces and warm handshakes.)

Children in hospitals all over the country can benefit from these gifts. All toy donations are altruistic in nature, but due to various limitations associated with distributing goods to ill patients in these facilities, new toys are the only kind that can be used.

Hollywood to the Holy Land (Part 2)

Friday, May 4th, 2012

We left off the first part of my story with me bleeding my guts out in Hollywood. Shaken by my friend’s question why I didn’t know anything about Judaism, I rushed to a Jewish bookstore in the Fairfax neighborhood and bought a book about the basics of Judaism. Rosh HaShanah was coming, and I read about the custom of Tashlich. So on Rosh HaShanah day, I walked down to the beach and threw my cortisone pills into the Pacific Ocean. “Please God,” I begged. “Accept these pills as my sins and please heal me without any more medicine.”

During my quest to discover what lay at the bottom of my colitis, I had tried everything. Suddenly I realized that my separation from God was the source of my problems. But without the medicine, I became sicker and sicker. I started bleeding profusely. Within a short time, I lost twenty pounds. Finally, I had to be hospitalized. I was given cortisone intravenously for a week. Just to emphasize how far away I was from Judaism, the book that I brought with me to the hospital was a manual about yoga. Though my first readings of the Bible led me to understand that God wanted Jews to be in Israel, I was hoping to find God on a journey to India.

The minute I got out of the hospital, I stopped taking the cortisone once again. I figured that by relying on the medicine, I would never get down to the root of the problem. Once again, I started to bleed. One evening, I became really scared, thinking that if I kept boycotting the medicine, I would either bleed to death, or I would have to have my colon surgically removed. That night I had a dream. I was in a second-hand clothes shop, looking at old clothes when I spotted a door to another room. Curious, I stepped inside. The inner room was filled with books in Hebrew, four walls of bookshelves stacked with holy Jewish texts, like the study hall of a yeshiva. I didn’t understand Hebrew at that time, but I was filled with a profound sense of peace and calm – what the Hindus call “Nirvana.” I just wanted to stand there and soak in the holiness of the books. But the shop owner appeared and said he wanted to close the store. I begged him to let me stay another five minutes, just to stand there and look at the magical tomes. Grudgingly, he agreed. That’s when I saw another door to yet another inner room. Venturing forward, I stepped inside. The room was empty except for a huge black box in the center of the floor. It was a giant tefillin, looking like some gigantic oversized prop in a Woody Allen movie. Gazing at it, my heart swelled with love. Man, how I wanted that tefillin!

Suddenly, I heard a tremendous thunderous Voice From Above, like a Voice out of Sinai, proclaiming, “THIS IS THE ANSWER! YOU HAVE TO ATTACH YOURSELF TO GOD!”

I woke up, startled. My heart was pounding. The Voice still rang in my ears. It was the clearest, truest, most real experience I had ever had in my life.

Several years later, when I finally made it to a yeshiva, I discovered that my dream was amazingly similar to the dream of the king at the beginning of the book, “The Kuzari.” In the king’s dream, an angel appears and tells him that his desire to get close to God is pleasing, but that his actions are not the right actions. That’s the catalyst that sets him on a quest to find the actions pleasing to God, which turn out to be the commandments of the Torah.

But way back then in Hollywood, I had never heard of “The Kuzari,” and I was still a long way off from making a commitment to Torah.

Nevertheless, I was so shaken up by the dream that when morning came, I went to an Orthodox shul and asked the rabbi to show me how to put on tefillin. He happily agreed and told me to say the Shema Yisrael prayer, which I still remembered from Hebrew School. But even though I would return to the synagogue every morning to put on tefillin, I was still bleeding profusely. Finally, I decided that I had to continue taking the cortisone. That very same morning, my uncle phoned, asking if I could drive him to the hospital. He had to have laser surgery on a cataract, so he needed someone to drive him home after the procedure. Since his wife (my aunt) was a doctor, I asked him if she could write me out a prescription for the cortisone, because I wanted to avoid the tortuous medieval examinations I always had to suffer whenever I went to the gastroenterologist. When I met him later that morning, he handed me the prescription. At the hospital, all during his treatment, I stood outside the operating room and prayed the same mantra over and over, “God, please heal my uncle. God, please heal my uncle, God, please heal my uncle.” For forty-five minutes straight. Fortunately, the treatment was a success. When I returned to my apartment, I headed straight to the bathroom, as was my usual custom. But this time, there was no bleeding! The blood had vanished. Disappeared! No more! I felt like God had reached out a finger, touched my belly, and healed my colitis. I was astounded, dumbstruck by the miracle.

Florida Loves Israel – A Student Conference in Tallahassee

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

It was no coincidence that the Florida Loves Israel conference – a conference of over 100 Florida university students and community members, and the first of its kind – fell in the month of February. Though cold and sometimes dreary, in the United States February comes with a special message from a special man in our history – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For me, his “I have a dream” speech not only speaks to my personal American patriotism, but reminds me of another man who spoke of dreams, another man whose beliefs and struggles speak passionately to my heart – Theodore Herzl. Herzl, in reference to the seeming impossibility of the creation of a Jewish state, once said “Im tirtzu, ein zo agada” – “If you will it, it is no dream.”

Florida State University began developing our dream of the Florida Loves Israel conference back in June after a meeting with the Miami Consulate and the Jewish Federations of Florida, when students realized that in a state the size of Florida, with over 15 major universities, it was a shame not to have the chance to express our love, our passion, and our dedication to the State of Israel. With no budget, no resources, and little guidance, students of Noles for Israel – FSU’s Israel advocacy group – and Hillel at FSU joined forced to fulfill a dream: to create a unified voice in support of Israel from one of her closest friends, the state of Florida.

Eight months and endless hours of planning later students arrived in Tallahassee, Florida ready to learn together, grow together, and remind one another that though they have strong opposition in their own communities, “if you will it, it is no dream.” These students are passionate, fearless, and love their homeland Israel.

Florida Loves Israel gave us the opportunity to openly discuss Israel both politically and culturally. Friday, we walked to Florida’s capitol to advocate for Israel. We asked our representatives to continue supporting Israel because her values are our values. We were met with overwhelming support. Breakout sessions included such topics as “Advanced Advocacy on Campus” by StandWithUS, “Combating Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movements” by the Zionist Organization of America, and community service opportunities in Israel from the Jewish National Fund. Our speakers discussed an array of topics as well. Mr. Yishai Fleisher spoke very passionately about “How to Achieve a Lasting Peace in the Middle East,” and Raanan Gissin, former Senior Adviser to Ariel Sharon, spoke with great insight about Israel’s existing threats. We were given the opportunity to experience some Israeli cultural exports as well. We were blessed with beautiful weather during our retreat to the FSU Reservation- a park with beautiful Florida mangroves, a sparkling lake, and sandy lake-side beaches. In Florida’s beautiful outdoors we learned Krav Maga, got acquainted with some IDF training moves, learned Israeli dancing, and built new, strategic relationships with other Floridians- an opportunity never provided before. The David Project, Hasbara Fellowships, CAMERA and the Jewish Federations of North America also provided fantastic workshops and sessions. For many of these organizations, this was the first time coming together. Regardless of political affiliation, whether left or right, center or unaffiliated, Florida Loves Israel brought together individuals of all kinds in support of one common goal and one common dream – Israel.

On sunday morning I had the opportunity to lead a discussion called “Israel at Heart: My Connection to Israel.” The purpose of this conversation was to provoke a range of diverse thoughts and feelings about Israel through storytelling. I shared thought-provoking pictures of Israel with the group: Jerusalem at dusk, soldiers at the Kotel, Yad Vashem, Israel painted within a human heart, and played Matisyahu’s “Jerusalem If I forget You.” Giving them each time to write their sentiments on paper, I had the opportunity to watch each of their expressions, each of their heartfelt emotions as they transcribed what Israel truly means to them. As the conversation proceeded, we shared intimidate details, intimate memories, and uniquely intimate experiences. One student saw snow for the first time in Jerusalem. Another found G-d at the Kotel. Another, for the first time, felt in her heart what it means to be a Jew and finally grasped what she had always longed for most of her life – to return home to Israel.

These students are inspiring, passionate, and bring both Dr. King and Herzl’s dreams to reality. One may start with little more than a dream, but with hard work, dedication and love anything can be achieved. This is the narrative of FLI, and this is the narrative of Israel.

I want each member of Noles for Israel and Hillel at FSU who worked diligently to know how unbelievably proud of you I am. I have watched each of you work incredibly hard toward a goal that many believed to be unattainable. You have proven them wrong. Your hard work, your dedication, and your unsurpassed passion is truly incredible, and I commend you for it.

A New Party With An Old Platform For An Old-New Land

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Chaim Amsalem, a current member of Knesset and former member of Shas, is in the midst of establishing yet another Israeli political party, called Am Shalem. Though the Israeli polity already maintains a dizzying array of political factions, whose platforms traverse the many social and political cleavages of the nation, Rabbi Amsalem and his followers have built a unique movement around one of the most basic and most grossly overlooked aspects of Israeli society: national unity, civic equality and a moderate religious elite.

A well-established figure in Shas, and the only one of its members to hold rabbinic ordination from the Rabbanut HaReishit, Rabbi Amsalem was expelled from Shas earlier this year, after breaking ranks with the political aides of the party’s indomitable premier, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Rabbi Amsalem’s rupture with Shas followed in the wake of several years of reciprocal discontent, as both Amsalem and Shas’s elite came to the mutual understanding that the party was not representative of the man, while the man was no longer representative of the party. Rabbi Dov Lipman – a leading member in Am Shalem who, should the party gain enough seats to be admitted to the Parliament, would be the first American Member of Knesset to have made aliyah as an adult – explained that the Algerian-born Amsalem initially believed that Shas represented the “crown of Israel’s Sephardic political establishment,” but he eventually grew increasingly discontented with the Party’s emergence as merely “another arm of the other Lithuanian haredi parties who are pushing the haredi community further to the extreme.”

Following his dismissal from Shas for his views against the community’s high levels of unemployment and his vocal opposition to the party’s hard stance against the halachic conversions of unquestionably loyal Jews with patrilineal lineages, Amsalem sought out a party whose platform looked to establish national unity and domestic development. Over the past number of years, Amsalem has written extensively in favor of these types of conversions citing the halachic principles of Zera Yisrael as support for his views. (Zera Yisrael mandates that Jews with ambiguous heritage, many of whom have served in the IDF, should still be included in the broader Jewish community if they seek proper conversion and demonstrate fidelity to the religion and the people.) Yet, while Israel’s roughly seven-and-a-half million people are served by a dozen distinct political parties that hold seats in the Parliament, Amsalem could not find a single party which called for the broad reforms that he deemed critical to Israel’s continued social development. Though other political factions have tried and overwhelmingly failed to curb extremism within the haredi community, Amsalem believes that his years of leadership in the religious community will enable him to succeed where others had not.

MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem (right) receiving the Quality Leadership Award for 2011, with Rabbi Dov Lipman.

Rabbi Dov Lipman explained that many within Israel’s political elite focus their attention towards foreign issues such as national security and the peace process. In the meantime, the nation’s social foundation has decayed from within, with religious and secular Jews being more ideologically divided than ever. According to Amsalem, at the forefront of national discord is the increased radicalization of the haredi establishment that has overwhelmingly shirked its civic responsibilities since the founding of the State. Entire haredi communities dedicate themselves exclusively to religious study, remain unemployed and rely solely on government welfare for subsistence. Furthermore, most within these communities abstain from compulsory national service, a staple of Israel’s social fabric.

Over the years, Rabbi Amsalem has grown increasingly discontented with this long standing status-quo and has resolved that his political future be dedicated to rectifying these dangerous social inequities. Therefore, in its dedication to national unity, the Am Shalem Party will assume a very unique identity within the Israeli polity as a party that will join in coalition with any party that achieves premiership. Am Shalem does not represent a special interest constituency, and unlike other parties it will not look to push forward the agendas of any individual political position, Amsalem has said. Instead, Am Shalem and its leaders will join with any party in government to advocate for legislation that will strengthen national unity and secure Israel’s social foundation for its posterity.

Though Amsalem initiated the development of the party while still occupying the upper echelon of Israel’s political hierarchy, at its foundation Am Shalem is a social movement. It is this identity that Am Shalem’s founding fathers cleave to, as both a practical and ideological impetus for the party’s continued development. Rather than campaigning in the traditional sense, Amsalem and Lipman have publicized their platform on the streets of Beit Shemesh, where national and religious disunity and the lack of a greater collective Israeli identity has littered the headlines of newspapers worldwide. Amsalem maintains that his calls for increasing the employment rates within the haredi population, enforcing compulsory national service, passing legislation that would encourage the establishment of haredi schools that would teach secular studies, and calling for the modernization of the rabbinic gentry are views that are espoused both throughout Israeli society and by most within the haredi community.

To Dream The Impossible Dream

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Ashira Greenberg is a pretty, talented and articulate young lady who, at the tender of age of seventeen, has just published a book.

Many of us dream of writing our own book, myself included, but how few of us actually do it.

I went to a recent book signing by the young author, held in the home of family friends Sima and Abe Ancselovics in Hillcrest, Queens. There sat Ashira surrounded by her loving parents, Robert and Dafna Greenberg, facing an overflow crowd. All of us wanted to hear her story. On the table in front of her was a pile of her book, Don’t Judge By What You See.

Ashira was born with cerebral palsy. For elementary school she attended the Yeshiva of Central Queens where the YESS program is located. YESS – Yeshiva Education for Special Students – works with each special needs child and successfully mainstreams many of them. Ashira was mainstreamed but never forgot all the help she received and became a volunteer, working with YESS children in her school.

Ashira loved writing and she dreamed of someday writing a book. In seventh grade she was going through a particularly hard time. “Here I was in a normal school, but I couldn’t do what the other kids could do,” said Ashira. “ So I started to think of writing.”

She was blessed with a very special teacher that year who encouraged her to write. In fact, when the teacher gave out a class assignment to write about “what makes you unique,” Ashira felt that the teacher had specifically picked that topic with her in mind.

She went home that Friday and sat down in front of her computer to write and all of her frustrations came pouring out in poem form. Every time her parents walked into the room she closed the screen. “ They must have wondered what was going on, so now I can tell them, it was nothing unacceptable, I was just pouring out my heart and I didn’t want them to feel bad.” She brought the poem to school that Monday and showed it to her teacher. The teacher was so impressed that she showed it to all the other teachers in the school. They all agreed that it was incredibly well written.

Summers for Ashira were spent in Camp Simcha Special. That summer she asked her bunkmates and fellow campers to write a few paragraphs dealing with their feelings about their disabilities. She discussed with them her dream of putting these essays into a book that would be published. The campers all eagerly complied. But when she sent the work off to publishing houses, rejection after rejection came her way. The common complaint was that the manuscript was too short and too heavy. “Short, we could fix,” said Ashira. “But heavy? This is our life and yes, it is a heavy load to bear.” So the dream of publishing a book was put on hold.

Ashira and her father

Some years passed and Ashira was now a student at Central, Yeshiva University High School for Girls (my alma mater) and managing okay.

One year at the Salute to Israel Parade in New York City she saw her former seventh grade teacher marching with her elementary school. All her dreams of writing a book came back to her as she saw the teacher who had inspired her to write.

Before Ashira began writing again, she and her parents contacted publishing companies to see if any of them would be interested in publishing a book about children and disabilities specifically geared to children. The Israel Bookshop Publishing Company answered in the affirmative and Ashira began to write.

The end result is a beautiful children’s book written in rhyming sentences. One of my favorite parts of the book is where the girl goes to a party in her friend’s backyard and sees lots of children in wheelchairs or with other noticeable problems. She stares and stares at them, thinking that if their arms or legs don’t work maybe their minds don’t work either. The lessons are gently brought home in rhyme, in a way that doesn’t make the reader feel bad. In fact, it is very much a feel-good book, which in itself is a remarkable thing.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Rachelli Edelstein.

What’s next for Ashira? Right now she is looking forward to graduating high school in June and then…”we’ll see what happens,” was her sweet answer.

It’s clear to see that a loving family – Ashira has two younger sisters – and parents devoted to helping her dreams become reality, will help this young lady continue to soar.

The Four Cups Of Wine

Friday, January 20th, 2012

In this week’s parshah (Shemos 6:6) the pasuk reveals the four leshonos of geulah: v’hotzeisi, v’hitzalti, v’ga’alti, and v’lakachti. Rashi, in his commentary to Pesachim 99b, tells us that the four cups of wine that we are commanded to drink on Pesach at the Seder correspond to the four leshonos of geulah mentioned above.

Many Achronim point out a seeming contradiction between the aforementioned Rashi and Rashi’s commentary on a later Gemara in that perek. In Pesachim 108a the Gemara says in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that women are obligated in the mitzvah of drinking the four cups of wine because of the rule “Af hein ha’yu b’osah ha’nes – they too were involved in the miracle.” On this Gemara, Rashi explains that the four cups of wine represent the three times that the word “kos” (cup) appears in the pasukim that discuss the Sar Hamashkim’s dream, and one more for bentching – totaling four cups of wine. Rashi has mentioned two different things that the mitzvah of the four cups represents.

The Yifei Einayim, the Nemukei Hagrib, and the Cheshek Shlomo explain that the Yerushalmi (Pesachim, perek arvai, Pesachim halacha 1) and the medrash in Bereishis (Vayeishev 68) quote a machlokes as to what the mitzvah of the four cups of wine corresponds to. Rabbi Yochanan says it corresponds to the four leshonos of geulah, and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says it corresponds to the word kos mentioned in the pasukim regarding the dreams of the Sar Hamashkim. (They additionally point out that in the medrash the names are switched, and that it is a mistake.)

Rashi believed both opinions to be true. Since the later Gemara that obligated women in this mitzvah was quoting the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, Rashi wrote according to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s view of what the mitzvah corresponds to – namely, the word kos in the pasuk.

The sefer, Sdei Chemed (volume 7, chametz u’matzah 15:6) quotes a letter written to him by Rabbi Chaim Berlin in which he attempts to answer this question. He quotes a medrash that explains that the four leshonos of geulah correspond to four decrees that Pharaoh decreed upon the Bnei Yisrael.

The first is “Va’yemariru es chayeihem- and they made their lives bitter.” The second: “im bein hu vahamisen oso – if it is a boy you should kill him.” The third: “kol ha’bein ha’yilod ha’yeorah tashlichuhu – every boy that is born must be thrown into the river.” And the fourth: the decree regarding the straw that they had to work. Each one of the four leshonos of geulah was said against one of these decrees. And the Rabbanan instituted the mitzvah of the four cups of wine to correspond the four leshonos of geulah.

All four decrees were applicable to males; however, only two of them applied to females. One could ask why women are obligated in the mitzvah of four cups of wine if they only were affected by two of the decrees that the leshonos of geulah were said for. It is for this reason that when explaining the Gemara that discusses the obligation of women in this mitzvah Rashi switched to a different source for the four cups of wine. The first Gemara was referring to the general obligation in the mitzvah; therefore, Rashi quoted the reason that it corresponds to the four leshonos of geulah. Additionally Rashi could not use the source that he quoted later for the first Gemara because the first Gemara says that we give a poor man wine for this mitzvah from the tomchei (charity). The source that Rashi quoted in the second Gemara said that the fourth cup is for bentching, and we do not give wine from the tomchei for bentching. Therefore Rashi explained in that Gemara that the mitzvah corresponds to the four leshonos of geulah.

In the later Gemara that discusses a woman’s obligation in the mitzvah, Rashi could not use the source of the four leshonos of geulah since it would not apply to women. Thus he wrote another source that does apply to women as well, namely the word kos in the pasukim describing the Sar Hamashkim’s dream.

Rabbi Chaim Berlin wanted to establish a new halacha based on his p’shat. If a woman were to ask for the four cups of wine from charity, we would be obligated to only give her three cups. This is because if we assume that the mitzvah corresponds to the four leshonos of geulah, she should only have two cups since only two decrees affected women. And if we assume that the mitzvah corresponds to the three times that it says the word kos in the pasuk and the fourth is for bentching, we would only give three cups from charity – since charity cannot provide for bentching.

The Five-Star Hotel Called Life

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

After these matters, Hashem appeared to Avram in a dream and said, Do not fear, Avram. I will guard you. Your reward is great.’ ” – Bereishis 16:1

 

When Avraham Avinu was informed that his nephew Lot was captured, he waged war against the combined armies of the four kings. Miraculously, he was victorious and freed Lot.

After these events, Hashem appeared to Avraham and said, “Do not fear; your reward is great.” Rashi explains that Avraham was afraid that since this great miracle had been done for him, he had used up all of his merits and had no reward waiting for him in the World to Come. Hashem allayed those fears by saying, “Everything that I have done for you will not cost you. Do not fear; your reward is great.”

This Rashi is very difficult to understand. How is it possible that a man as great Avraham could have thought he used up all of his reward? After years of serving Hashem, surely the reward waiting for him was phenomenal.

The answer to this is based on viewing life from a different vantage point.

 

Pesach in Arizona

Imagine that your father-in-law invites you to join him for Pesach in Sedona, Arizona. This is the ultimate Pesach extravaganza. No expense is spared; the guests are showered with every imaginable luxury and amenity. A five-star hotel, French chefs, an 18-hole golf course on premises – the best of the best. You graciously accept and are ready to have the time of your life. But as it turns out, by the time Pesach comes around, things at work aren’t going well, and lately you’ve been fighting with your wife. As a result, you’re in the worst mood you’ve ever been in. For the nine days you are there, you barely leave your hotel room.

When the vacation is over, your father-in-law approaches the hotel manager, and says, “My son-in-law hardly ate the entire time he was here. He didn’t come to a single gala kiddush. He didn’t use the golf course. Not once did he step foot in the spa. Normally, I am not the type to complain. But I just can’t see paying the regular rate, so I’ve decided to pay half the bill, and expect you to waive the other half.”

How do you think the hotel representative would respond?

 

Earth: A Five-Star Hotel

This planet we occupy is a five-star hotel. We have every imaginable pleasure and amenity available to us. We enjoy majestic sights and experiences that constantly surround us. From magnificent floral scenes to exotic sea life, from the glory of the night sky to the clear aqua green of the ocean, from a flower in bloom to the plumage of a jungle parrot to the pomp and ceremony of a sunrise, this is a world created in Technicolor.

And more than that, we were given the tools with which to enjoy it. We have legs with which to walk and hands with which to hold. We have ears, a tongue, a nose, and fingers that bring us an astounding array of pleasures from the world around us. We have foods that explode with a burst of different flavors, aromas, textures, and colors. We are surrounded by untold pleasures and riches.

But more than anything, we have been granted the extraordinary privilege called life. We were given this golden opportunity to shape ourselves into what we can be for eternity. Is there any way to measure the value of life? Is it worth a million dollars? Ten million? A hundred billion? Is it even possible to put a value on our existence?

Title: Kosher Elegance

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Title: Kosher Elegance


Author: Efrat Libfroind


Publisher: Feldheim


 


 


   Kosher cookbooks have come a long way to being what women need. Flimsy paperbacks and poorly bound hard covers with yellowed, deteriorating pages that kept falling out have become beautiful, helpful and long-lasting. With Kosher Elegance, author Efrat Libfroind brings classic culinary skills to the table with clear directions and illustrative photos that portray aroma and taste. You’ll want to eat the pictures!

 

   The average Jewish female first tries her hand at cookery as a child. Many young ladies in the making will be able to succeed with adult assistance and the white chocolate and fruit cream dream on page 132. Their mothers will be hooked on rosemary cream cones at page 206. Once they’ve tasted those sweets, it’ll be time for dessert: meals to make everyone’s mouth water.

 

   Chicken basil cranberry rollups make you want to hurry up the holidays. They’re packed with good-for-you nutrition, beautiful to display, and satisfying. Vegetarians can enjoy meals of eggplant rollups with cashew, cheese and nut fillings, fried cannelloni filled with zucchini cream (yes, zucchini cream) and exotic cabbage salad among other appealing entrees.

 

   Beef, fish and poultry dishes abound with flair. Potato-chip chicken, stir-fry, sandwiches and skewered delights fill other colorful pages. The meals will appeal to diners of various ages and preferences. The at-a-glance photos inKosher Elegance will clue you in to that.

 

   It’s not hard to imagine someone opening a four-star restaurant or gaining a reputation as a fine cook based on the entrees in Kosher Elegance. The recipes are in chapters entitled “Sophistication,” “Occasions,” “Brunch,” “Hors D’oeuvres” (now you know how to spell it), “Layers,” “Simplicity,” “Sushi,” “Temptation” (that pretty much describes the whole book), and “Chocolate.” Study them to assess which ingredients and tools you’ll need to have in the kitchen when you prepare them. You might even indulge in what I did by buying pretty dishware for serving up specific selections.

 

   Feldheim bound the book to last a few generations. Be sure to cover it with weighted page protectors made for recipe books. Your sous-chefs de cuisine (kitchen helpers with fancy titles) and descendants will appreciate that.

 

 

   Yocheved Golani is the author of E-book “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge“   (https://booklocker.com/books/3067.html)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-kosher-elegance-2/2011/06/07/

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