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January 16, 2017 / 18 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Hand’

My Zaidy

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

When I think of how to describe my Zaidy to someone who has never met him, I find myself at a loss. I don’t know how to put my grandfather’s presence into words in a way that will sufficiently describe the picture I have of him in my mind. The fact that my most vivid memories are from when I was quite young make the task no easier. He was, simply, “Zaidy.” Regardless of profession, history or future, he just was. His presence was one of the few things I was fortunate enough to take for granted as a little girl, in a way that marks the very sweetness and innocence of childhood – that I was important to the adults around me.

The memories I have of my grandfather are quite jumbled and out of order. He was very much the stereotypical grandfather, tall and thin, who I can easily imagine on the threshold of a country house, side by side with grandma, waiting to greet the grandchildren who are visiting for the weekend.

From the time I knew him; he had white hair and walked with a cane. He was a respectable figure, a successful stockbroker and active community member. Most important to me, however, was the grandfather figure he filled so well.

I have many fond memories of the lessons my grandfather would teach me, among them geography and basic multiplication. Other memories include the songs he would sing to me as I sat on his lap in the den, the coloring books he would buy for my sisters and myself, and the prayers he would say with us as he’d put us to bed when we slept over. I remember many early mornings when I’d wake up to the comforting sound of my grandfather going about his morning routine, which included the hum of his electric shaver and the newscaster’s voice from the radio. I remember the delight I felt when I met my grandfather on the avenue when I was out with my parents, and how important I felt walking home with him, hand in hand, while he taught me the meaning of the postal zip code.

From when I was quite young, my grandfather tried to teach me about the workings of the stock market, perhaps as a response to my asking him about his work. At five years old, I couldn’t quite understand any of it, and when he tried me again at eight years old I didn’t do much better. I have a vague memory of a family trip to the New York Stock Exchange, where my grandfather most likely gave the family a tour, or at least some explanations, which I just as likely didn’t understand.

Tied in with all the intellectual lessons I learned, or was meant to have learned from my grandfather if I could have understood at that age, are several stories, which, when put together, give me a vague sketch of my grandfather’s life.

My grandfather was born in Holland, where his parents had moved with their children for hope of greater financial opportunity than that which was available in their original hometown. When my grandfather was a young boy, the family moved again, from Holland to America, where they lived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. I believe he worked at a local grocery or general store some time during his young adult years, after which he built himself up further with lots of hard work and some luck.

My grandfather had three siblings, all of whom I met, though one died when I was quite young. I am told that my mother brought me to see him when he was sick in the hospital, but I can’t clearly picture the scene. His sister and remaining brother both look somewhat like him, a resemblance I became more aware of after my grandfather died. It was quite a shock for me to notice that; seeing my great-uncle at a wedding ceremony of a cousin, looking like my grandfather – with the addition of a white beard. The closest my grandfather ever came to having a beard was when he was sick in the hospital at the end of his life, but that is not the image that first comes to mind when I think of my Zaidy.

Yocheved Michelson

Yachad Takes Quadriplegic Youth on a Trip of a Lifetime

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

When no one would take Zack Pollak on a trip to Israel, Yachad was there. He, along with 75 other Yachad members and high school students, left last Sunday afternoon for five weeks in Israel on the Yachad summer program Yad B’Yad (YBY – “Hand in hand”).

Special arrangements were made for Zack, who has quadriplegia caused by cerebral palsy. Zack is restricted to mostly a wheelchair or a similar device. As a member of Senior Yachad, the 17-year-old from Passaic, NJ, often participates in Yachad Shabbatonim.

Yachad/The National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), an agency of the Orthodox Union, is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the opportunities of individuals with disabilities, ensuring their participation in the full spectrum of Jewish life. Yachad/NJCD promotes Inclusion for these individuals through various integrated activities.

The Yad B’Yad Israel Experience brings high school students together with Yachad members (adults and teens with special needs) to experience the Jewish homeland, Israel, in a new and unparalleled way. Yachad members experience Israel just as their peers do – touring Jerusalem; visiting an Israeli army base, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea; riding camels; hiking up Masada; volunteering in a soup kitchen and visiting underprivileged children; and participating in special Shabbat programs.

Yachad has already spent close to $10,000 on top of the normal cost to make the trip accessible specifically for Zack, noted Eli Hagler, Assistant Director of Yachad.

Hagler stated, “Because Zack needed a wheelchair accessible program, other trips and programs have not been willing to take the necessary steps. It’s a big undertaking. Zack is a very social teenager, but has often been placed in settings and camps where he socialized with the staff – Yad B’Yad will be so much more than that for him. On YBY, Yachad has arranged for Zack a way to socialize and fully participate with 75 of his peers. Yachad sees the added benefit to both the participant and the rest of the group in making this trip accessible to anyone who wants to attend. Yachad’s tagline, Because Everyone Belongs, could not be more true than in this case. We did what we had to do in order to make Yad B’Yad a trip that anyone and everyone could enjoy.”

To accommodate Zack’s full participation, Yachad ordered a van to hold his wheelchair and other supplies while he traveled on one of two group buses; coordinated only tour routes that were wheelchair accessible; arranged to stay only at hotels and visiting sites that were wheelchair accessible; brought along adaptive equipment such as a special wheelchair designed to help Zack travel on rockier, narrower, and more challenging terrain.

Yachad raised funds for the special chair with Yad Sarah, an Israeli nonprofit that provides a range of services for free or nominal charge to assist the sick, disabled, and elderly. Similarly, this type of wheelchair is what Team Yachad uses in both the Miami and Jerusalem marathons to allow those with a disability to compete in the race.

Last week, Yad B’Yad staff and high school participants received orientations for the program. A special Shabbaton was held in West Orange, NJ, for YBY participants prior to the Sunday afternoon flight.

Rebecca Schrag, Director of Senior Yachad and of Yad B’Yad, said, “Zack has an awesome ‘can do’ attitude, and we are thrilled that he is able to join us this summer. Yachad has really made every attempt to be as accommodating as possible and to make this trip a life changing experience for Zack, as well as all of the other participants.”

Jewish Press Staff

Minister Scorned for Attack on Haredi who Won’t Shake her Hand

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Belgium’s health minister Laurette Onkelinx said she was “profoundly troubled” by the behavior of her Israeli counterpart, Yaakov Litzman, after the Haredi official refused to shake her hand at a conference.

Litzman, Israel’s deputy minister for health, belongs to the Haredi Torah Judaism party and considers it forbidden to touch members of the opposite sex.

Litzman and Onkelinx met Wednesday at the annual World Health Organization (WHO) Assembly in Geneva. Onkelinx belongs to the Francophone Belgian Socialist Party of Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.

“My hands are clean!” read a text that appeared on Onkelinx’s Facebook page . “This is the second time a minister refuses to shake my hand because I am a woman. The first was Iranian. The second one was the Israeli health minister here in Geneva. This kind of fundamentalist attitude, connected to a certain perception of religion and women, profoundly troubles me.”

Belgium’s health minister Laurette Onkelinx.

Belgium’s health minister Laurette Onkelinx.

Laurette Onkelinx is probably the most powerful woman in Belgian politics and is slated to succeed the Parti Socialiste’s chairperson Elio Di Rupo. Onkelinx comes from a political family. Her father, Gaston Onkelinx, has long been mayor of Seraing (near Liège) and member of the House of Representatives. Her older brother, Alain Onkelinx, has been a member of the Regional Parliament of Wallonia since September 2005.

“The minister’s childish reaction demonstrates her ignorance,” said Michael Freilich, editor in chief of Joods Actueel, Belgium’s largest Jewish publication, which reported the story. “Mr. Litzman’s refusal to shake Ms. Onkelinx’s hand had nothing to do with any view on women or impurity. Ultra-Orthodox women are also forbidden from touching members of the opposite sex. It’s the custom. A more seasoned politician would have been aware of this sensibility in advance.”

The website Juif.org wrote: “There are indeed only two possibilities: either this lady is ignorant, or has malicious intent. She may be ignorant, even if it’s sad to imagine this possibility regarding a woman who is rising to political power in a Western and modern country.”

Last October, two days before the Belgian municipal elections, Laurette Onkelinx was hit with a pie at an election event in Schaarbeek.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday re-elected Margaret Chan as its chief for five more years.

JTA content was used in this article.

Jacob Edelist

Understand The Ways Of Hashem

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The truth is sometimes unpopular or uncomfortable. Thus, people who wish to dismiss the Hand of Hashem from history and human affairs may be taken aback by the assertion of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, based on the beginning of this parshah, that the suffering that befalls Israel comes for a Divine purpose. Rabbi Miller finds this purpose explicit in the opening words of Bechukosai, and observes that this “wish” (to dismiss the Hand of Hashem from history) is not a Jewish way of thinking.

“If you shall walk in My statutes” (26:3). The following promises and admonitions are called a “covenant” (bris). At the end of the Tochechah in Devarim it is stated: “These are the words of the Covenant which Hashem commanded Moshe to cut [i.e. to make] with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the Covenant which He cut with them at Horeb” (Devarim 28:69).

The Covenant at Horeb is this Tochechah of the book of Vayikra. The Covenant was made not only for the episodes of the First Destruction and of the Second Destruction. The purpose of Hashem in these portions of the Torah is clear: whenever any calamities have come upon the nation, or upon some part of the nation, the people of Hashem’s Torah must attribute these misfortunes to the disapproval of Hashem: “If you will not hearken to Me, and you shall not fulfill all of these commandments” (26:14).

Certainly if the nations of the world are the messengers of misfortune they are held guilty; but to attribute the calamity to our enemies and to ignore the Ruler of the World as the sole true author of all that transpires is a breach of the Covenant and a contradiction of the Torah. We today are not capable of discerning the sins of our ancestors, but our ancestors themselves declared in the Scriptures and in the Talmud the misdeeds for which these disasters were visited upon them.

The tendency today to omit the Hand of Hashem and to dwell solely on the guilt of the enemies of Israel is a direct contradiction to these two very prominently stated Covenants. To shrug off the very great calamities of our time by saying “We cannot understand the ways of Hashem” is actually a concealed form of the atheistic attitudes that have seeped in from the outside world. “And it shall be, when all these matters shall come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have put before you, and you put this to your heart, among all the nations where Hashem your G-d has driven you” (Devarim 30:1).

“And many evils and troubles will come upon them; and he shall say on that day: ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our G-d is not in our midst?’ ” (ibid. 31:17). “Take this book of the Torah… that it be there a witness against you” (ibid. 31:26). In addition to this purpose of the ensuing parshah as a post- facto testimony, it is certainly intended also as a stimulus to virtue and to Fear of Hashem. “I said: surely you will fear Me; you will take correction” (Zefaniah 3:7). By reading this parshah properly, we can be spared the experiences which are there foretold.

It is noteworthy that all the rewards for compliance with the Torah are solely in this life. The Rambam (Teshuvah 9:1) explains that the promises of happiness in this life are not intended as the ultimate reward but are promises of opportunity to accomplish more good deeds and to gain more merit. Similarly, the retribution of unhappiness which is foretold for transgression of virtue is not the ultimate punishment, which is in the Afterlife; but Hashem foretells the loss of opportunity to accomplish righteous deeds due to various forms of suffering.

Thus it is said: “The reward for a mitzvah is a mitzvah, and the reward for a transgression is [another] transgression” (Avos 4:2), because he who seeks to do mitzvos is rewarded with opportunity to do more; and this is the greatest of rewards, as is said: ” Better one moment of Torah and good deeds in this world more than all the life of the World to Come” (ibid. 4:17).

Rabbi Avigdor Miller

I’m Afraid

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Yes, I’m afraid. When I say these words, most people do not understand, and they attribute my fears to the fact that I am a survivor and live in the shadow of my Holocaust experiences. Still others attribute my fears to “overreaction” and assure themselves there is nothing to worry about.  Fear, they rationalize, is a Jewish neurosis, identified with past generations, when our people lived in the darkness of the ghetto.

But today, things are different. Today we live in the United States, a free, democratic country, in which all people have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  And more – for the very first time in almost two thousand years, we have our own state and because of that, there is nothing to fear.

I wish I could be as confident as they claim to be, but I smell the noxious fumes of pre-Holocaust Europe, and so I write and speak wherever I can.

It is not Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood or Ahmadinejad that I fear. Nor do I fear the United Nations, an institution notorious for its hypocrisy and anti-Israel bias. I do not fear the sophisticated intellectuals who camouflage their hatred of Jews behind politically correct pseudonyms that mislead all too willing ears.

What I do fear is our own people – yes, our own people who have forgotten who we are, who no longer remember that we stood at Sinai, that we heard the voice of G-d, that we belong to a priestly kingdom, a holy nation and that everything that befalls us is choreographed by Hashem and is a reflection of our own deeds, our own hands.

To be sure, there is nothing new about all this. It is a Truth that is a very pillar of our faith and is inscribed for all eternity in the Torah. The warning screams out to us from almost every portion, yet we refuse to heed it. How can it be that we are so blind? How can it be that after thousands of years we still fail to understand?

Our history is constant replay – again and again, tragedies befall us, yet we refuse to comprehend. It could all be so simple if we would be willing to understand. But no matter how unbearable our pain, how agonizing our suffering, we continue to reject it.  Every day, a Bas Kol, a Heavenly Voice, calls us, but we choose to remain deaf. We have shed our priestly garments and no longer recognize ourselves.

Time and again G-d sends His prophets to remind us that our destiny is different from that of all other nations, that our very existence is directly linked to our adherence to G-d’s commandments. Hashem has guaranteed our eternity, for we, the Jewish people, have been chosen to be His witnesses. Tragically, though, we fail to see the glory of our calling, and that is the painful reality of our long, tormented exile. We have seen mighty nation rise – only to fall even as we have endured and triumphed. Still we remain obdurate.

Even as a young child in Bergen-Belsen, I was aware of this Truth. My saintly father, HaRav Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, embedded it in my heart and soul. But I could never have imagined that before I would see the dawn, six million of our people would be consumed in the flames.

Despite it all however, by the grace of G-d not only are we here, we have reinvented ourselves. We have given new life to the great academies of Torah that once shone so brightly throughout the shtetlach of Europe, and we have returned to and rebuilt our ancient land. We have brought new life to the barren wasteland. We have planted gardens and forests, despite the constant barrage of missiles and rockets. Yes, miraculously we did it all and yet we still failed to see G-d’s guiding Hand.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/i%e2%80%99m-afraid/2011/11/09/

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