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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Harvard University’

UPDATED Harvard Exams Interrupted by Bomb Threat

Monday, December 16th, 2013

SEE UPDATE AT END OF ARTICLE

At 9:02 Monday morning, Dec. 16, Harvard University students were gearing up for exams when students received a university alert that a bomb threat had been received. Students were instructed to immediately evacuate four university buildings: Emerson Hall, Thayer Hall and Sever Hall, as well as the Science Center.

Harvard University Police Department received an email tip that bombs had been placed in those four buildings.  The Harvard Police contacted the Cambridge Police Department and state and local explosives experts were called in.

Exams were cancelled, police and bomb squads arrived on campus, exams in those buildings were cancelled and the famous Harvard Yard was closed down.

By 11:00, three of the buildings had been combed and no explosives were found.  Afternoon exams resumed in the affected buildings other than in the Science Center, which was the last building searched.

Within six hours of the initial email alert, all four buildings had been combed and declared explosives-free.  Cancelled exams were already being rescheduled, and life returned to normal (for exam week) at Harvard.

UPDATE: A Harvard sophomore has admitted that he was responsible for emailing the bomb threats to Harvard University police on Monday morning.  Eldo Kim, 20, confessed to sending the fake bomb threats and has been charged with making a false threat about an explosive device, 18 USC § 1038(a).

Kim attempted to disguise his identity by using various anonymizing internet applications, but his personal email was tracked as having accessed one of those applications.

According to an affidavit signed by an FBI agent, Kim admitted sending the threats, and said that he acted alone. Kim told law enforcement personnel that he engaged in the ruse because he wanted to avoid a final exam given in one of the buildings he identified as possibly having a bomb.

Kim could face a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $25,000.

Larry Summers Withdraws From Consideration to Head Fed

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Was it all the negative articles in which the other front-runner for Federal Reserve Chair, Janet L. Yellen, was compared to Lawrence Summers and Summers was found wanting?  Was it that, plus the snarky articles pointing out that despite what some saw as Yellen’s superior credentials, that Obama was intent on naming Summers to replace Ben Bernanke as the head of the Federal Reserve?  Was it the remaining residue of sexism that plagued Summers when he was the president of Harvard University that finally caught up with the politically correct police guarding the gates in Washington?

According to the letter Summers released following his telephone call to the White House to inform the president of his decision, he wanted the job but recognized the deleterious sideshow that would ensue were the president to name the prickly former secretary of the treasury.

But timing was probably the decisive factor in Summers’ withdrawal.  Had the president not just gone through a bruising clash with the left wing of his party over the potential use of military force in Syria, which followed on the revelations of this administration’s sanctioned government snooping by the National Security Agency, the president might have pushed hard for his choice, and Summers might have been willing to take on whatever criticism would come his way in a confirmation hearing.  But this summer’s one-two NSA-Syria punch sucked out all the air from Summers’ sails.

“I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery,” was what the 58-year old Summers wrote, according to an article posted to the Wall Street Journal website late Sunday afternoon.

The Federal Reserve system, which sets monetary policy for the country, is the central banking system of the United States.  The chairmanship of the Fed will be open after January 31, when the second term of the current occupant, Ben Bernanke, concludes.  Bernanke did not wish to continue for a third term.

Mr. Obama accepted Summers’ withdrawal, although it was widely believed that the former secretary of the treasury and president of Harvard University was the president’s first choice.

Obama described Summers as “a critical member of my team as we faced down the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and it was in no small part because of his expertise, wisdom, and leadership that we wrestled the economy back to growth and made the kind of progress we are seeing today.”

While Summers was the first Jewish president of Harvard University, he would hardly have been the first Jewish chairman of the Federal Reserve.

In fact, while the chairman of the Fed has been a Jew for more than the past 25 years, with Alan Greenspan at the helm from 1987 – 2006, and then Bernanke in the seat from 2006 until his term ends in early 2014, there have been at least three other chairmen who have been Jewish.  However, there has never been a woman chair, and the likely choice now for President Obama is Janet Yellen.

Yellen, 67 years old, is currently the vice-chair of the Fed.  She is also Jewish.

Is it likely the old anti-Semitic canards about Jews running the global financial market will start up again if Yellen is named?  No, because they never stopped. Enter the words “Jew” and “Federal Reserve” in a search engine and be prepared to see lots of hysterical rants from Jew-haters.

Netanyahu Wants Harvard Prof. Helpman as New Head of Bank

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is trying to recruit Harvard Prof. Elkhanan Helpman, who previously moved to Israel form the Soviet Union, to replace Stanley Fischer as head of the Bank of Israel.

Helpman also was the Prime Minister’s first choice to head the Bank seven years ago, but after Helpman’s refusal, Fischer was imported from the United States. For his efforts, Fischer, had to take out Israeli citizenship to qualify for the post, but after seven years, he wants to return to the United States.

Helpman already has told Prime Minister Netanyahu he still is not interested in the job, but Globes reported that the Prime Minister is hoping a personal appeal based on Zionism will convince the professor to change his mind.

Helpman is considered to be on the world’s 25 most respected macro-economists. He also is thought to be a candidate for the Nobel Prize, a goal that could be blocked if the Israeli economy were not to show economic growth if he were in charge of the Bank of Israel.

Bean Town Blessings

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Last week was an intense time to be in the U.S. and certainly in Boston. Fresh from Israel, I was ready to talk about the story of the Jewish State, but it seemed God had other plans for me: to live a story in Boston.

So, Friday morning I was walking from the Young Israel of Brookline to the corner Kosher bakery, called Kupels, where I had breakfast every day while in Boston. I must admit I was a bit unplugged from the steady stream of breaking news tidbits and was walking around innocently, when I noticed that there were unusually few cars on the road and that stores seemed to all be closed.

I asked a young lady who was smoking nervously what was going on. “Didn’t you hear?” she said, and proceeded to fill me on everything that had happened overnight: the murder of a police officer, the shootout, the killing of the first suspect and the subsequent manhunt underway for the younger brother. Two things struck me about her tale, the first was the reality of what was happening around me and the strange providence that brought me from “dangerous” eastern Jerusalem to usually-calm Boston to be a witness to this tumultuous and historic time – and hopefully allow me to offer support as well.

The second thing that struck me was the willingness of random Bostonians to give over the whole tale; a kind, verbal kindness that seemed to come naturally to this city of universities, history and intellect.

I returned to the quaint Victorian motel on Longwood Avenue which I was staying at for the week. I began the process of checking out as originally planned but now I couldn’t leave. The city of Boston was on lockdown-manhunt mode and my speaking event had been cancelled. I had nowhere to go and the police did not want anyone going anywhere anyway. So my fellow guests and I congregated in the public kitchen, gathering in front of the television to watch the saga that was unfolding just outside.

To my right was a gentleman – let’s call him Joe. A tough old American, with a penchant for mildly anti-Semitic jokes. Another man came in from outside, bringing Old Joe a ham sandwich. Joe turned to me and said: “Hey Rabbi, you want some of this sandwich, I’ll bless it for you!” and he proceeded to cross the ham. We all laughed. Then Joe asked the other man where he got the food from. The other man, let’s call him Mike, said: “everything is closed except the Jewish deli” (the Kosher-style one where he got the pork). So Joe says: “they’ll do anything for a buck.” But Mike retorted “Na, only the Jews have guts!” Joe nodded.

No one in Boston gave me dirty looks. Nobody implied I was the source of all evil, somehow nefariously involved in the terrorism that had just struck. My Jewish genes expect to be blamed when things go wrong for the gentiles, but the average American – certainly the Bostonians that I met – looked right past my decidedly ethnic Middle Eastern appearance.

On Friday night, I had finished dinner with wonderful Jewish students at the Chabad of Boston University, when I heard merriment and revelry outside. Armed with this new understanding of this city’s willingness to talk, I ran outside and asked the first person – a happy dogwalker – to give me the lowdown. Of course, he immediately obliged, giving me the good news that police had located and captured the second terrorist. Relief was in the air for a city which had held its breath for a week.

On Shabbat day, I walked from B.U. to the Chabad of Harvard (and MIT) for prayer, great lunch, and to give a talk. That day was the 25th day of Omer (the 49-day count between the second day of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot) and the Sefira (Kabbalistic emanation which corresponds to each day of the count) was Netzach SheB’Netzach. In my talk I explained that Netzach means two things: eternity and victory, and that these represented two kinds of Jewish triumph. Eternity means that we outlast our enemies and that no matter what they do to us and how many of us they kill, we come back. We outlast the horrors inflicted upon us by Romans and the Nazis and everyone in between. But victory is different; victory is not only outlasting the evil, it is actually beating it. Our nation suffered through the long exile, and we outlasted our tormentors. But now, with the advent of the Jewish State, we are tasked with pursuing victory and helping the world be rid of those who hate peace.

Harvard Jewish Students Contemptuous of Mock Eviction Notices

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Jewish undergraduates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts received mock eviction notices last week which had been distributed by a radical anti-Israel group, the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee, in advance of and as a “coming attraction” to Harvard’s Israel Apartheid Week.

The notices read:

Dear Resident(s)

We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in the next three days.

If you do not vacate the premise within this time frame, we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings. We are hereby released of any liability for damage to any persons or effects including gross negligence.  You will receive an invoice for the charges of demolition and waste removal soon.

This may seem like unrealistically harsh treatment, but this is the actual state of affairs in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaa Strip.  Around 25,000, homes have been destroyed by the Israeli military occupation forces since 1967 resulting in the internal displacement of over 160,000 Palestinians.  All of this is against international law yet continues to this day.

Harvard’s Israel Apartheid Week took place this past week, March 3 – 9.  However, other than the mock eviction notices and some tattered sandwich board-type signs protesting the “Illegal Occupation,” some of which looked as if they had been re-cycled from other protests, there were only two scheduled events.

The first event was the propaganda movie about protests against the security fence, “5 Broken Cameras,” which was shown on March 7.  Then, on March 8, one of the oldest voices against Israel, linguist Noam Chomsky, spoke about “Lessons from Apartheid South Africa.”  That’s it.

Harvard students were apparently less blase about the “Israel Apartheid” events than had been the case in the past.

Senior Seven J. Triconowicz shared his negative view of the events with the school paper.

“I feel like [Israeli Apartheid Week] goes against what Harvard stands for as a place for open academic dialogue, open thoughts, and open intellectual activity,” said Tricanowicz. “I find it kind of concerning that an event is going on in a way that promotes polarization and closed-mindedness.”  His statements echo similar sentiments expressed by Oxford University students about an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions motion which was soundly defeated last month.

One of the organizers of the mock eviction notices, senior Yacoub H. Kureh, was reportedly “dismayed” that some of the notices had been ripped up and thrown down on the ground.  Imagine.

Even Jewish student leaders expressed disapproval of what amounts to childish pranks and one-sided information filled with inaccuracies, a welcome change from the past and from the situation at many other campuses.

Junior Sara Kantor ’14, co-chair of Harvard Students for Israel, told the school paper that she believes the Harvard Israeli Apartheid Week is “inherently problematic.”

“We feel bad responding to something that is so outside the spectrum of what we are willing to engage in,” said Kantor. “The issue is that it no longer becomes a question of dialogue—it simply becomes rhetoric and demonizes an entire nation and people.”

Harvard Students Receive Anti-Semitic Invitations for Social Clubs

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Invitations to a fictitious club saying “Jews need not apply” were slipped under the doors of students living in the Harvard University dormitories.

The flyers enclosed in the sealed envelopes discovered early Friday morning invited the students to the inaugural event of a new undergraduate social club, or finals club, called The Pigeon, the Harvard Crimson student newspaper reported. The flyer also said “Seriously, no f***ing Jews. Colors OK.”

There are eight all-male and five all-female Harvard finals clubs, which are not recognized by the university and which have been accused of promoting “an exclusive and dangerous social environment,” according to the Crimson.

The dean of Harvard College, Evelynn Hammonds, wrote in an email statement on Friday that the flyers were “deeply disturbing” to her and others in the Harvard community. Harvard College is one of two schools within the university granting undergraduate degrees.

“They are not a reflection of the values of our community,” Hammonds wrote. “Even if intended as satirical in nature, they are hurtful and offensive to many students, faculty and staff, and do not demonstrate the level of thoughtfulness and respect we expect at Harvard when engaging difficult issues within our community.”

The Crimson also reported that early Friday morning, two Northeastern University students who vandalized a menorah located on the Boston campus were identified on a surveillance video and will face disciplinary action.

One Size Does Not Fit All Differentiated Instruction: Teaching Every Child How He Learns Best

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

In a bustling fifth grade class Moshe is listening to a tape-recorded reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, while Shmuel is writing a poem about a fight between brothers. Next to Moshe and Shmuel, Yerucham is reading an account of a former African-American slave.

After several minutes, the teacher calls the class together and asks the students to answer the question: “What do we know about the problems in the United States during the Civil War?”

Moshe quickly responds, “President Lincoln talks about a great battle between the North and the South. He also mentions something about all men being created equal.”

After hearing Moshe’s answer, Shmuel is silent for a moment and then exclaims. “Well, that makes sense in terms of the poem I was writing. The brothers are in a big fight. But, in my poem, the brothers were fighting because one of them was very messy and one of them was always neat. What were the North and South fighting about?”

Yerucham, excited by how his slave account fits into the puzzle, reveals, “I was just reading about Harriet Jacobs and about how she was a slave. Before the Civil War, the South had slavery, but the North did not believe in slavery. Maybe that is the reason that the Civil War began.”

With those responses, the teacher then begins her lesson on the history of the Civil War, “Alright class, let’s look at this chart of proximate and immediate causes of the Civil War ”

Though Moshe, Shmuel, and Yerucham were all involved in different activities, the end result was a cohesive unit that involved listening, writing and reading about the Civil War. Utilizing different media is a technique often used in a teaching method called differentiated instruction.

What is differentiated instruction?

What Can Be Modified

In their book, Differentiated Instruction in the English Classroom, Barbara King-Shaver and Alyce Hunter explain that teachers can choose to differentiate their curriculum in three areas of modification: content, process and product. Content is what a student is to learn; process is how the student will learn the content; and product is how the student is to display what s/he learned.

Here is what content, process, and product look like in our fifth grade classroom in Brooklyn:

Content

If the curriculum is flexible, the teacher may modify what texts and concepts the students will study. In the case of our fifth grade class on the Civil War, the teacher chose to use Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and a former slave account.

Process

The teacher decided to have Moshe, Shmuel and Yerucham involved in listening, writing and reading activities. She then chose to have them discuss their separate activities with the whole class.

Product

Upon completion of the unit of study on the Civil War, the teacher must determine the parameters for the final product. The teacher may choose to have the students write an essay, create a diorama, write a poem or various other appropriate projects.

How Do You Decide To Modify?

Carol Ann Tomlinson, a pioneer of differentiated instruction and a professor at the University of Virginia, explains that teachers should look at student readiness, interest and learning styles when deciding how to formulate their classrooms and curriculum.

When this is done at the very start of the school year will enable teachers to set up the classroom in a manner appropriate for individual students. Pre-assessment or diagnostic testing is a wonderful tool for understanding what a student knows before the year begins. While some students might be very prepared for the material planned for the year, others might be deficient in precursor skills necessary to become proficient later in the year. A teacher who intends to support success for each learner needs a sense of each students starting point.

Simple back to school pre-assessments could include questions such as, “Do you need quiet when you study? What did you do over the summer? What is your favorite subject in school? Would you rather read a book or listen to a tape? Do you prefer Judaic subjects or secular subjects? How much time do you spend on homework each night?”

As Dr. Susan Demirsky Allan, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Michigan, explained, “Nothing is a magic bullet, but if you start from where the student is, looking at his or her potential, then the likelihood of meeting that student’s academic needs increases enormously.’

Why do we need differentiated instruction?

Speaking to teachers of young children, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) reminds us that it is the responsibility of schools to adjust to children’s developmental needs and levels rather than expecting children to adapt to an educational system. As I strongly advocate, “If he cannot learn the way we teach, we had better teach the way he can learn.”

In their book, Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design, Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe argue that, “Learning happens within students, not to them. Learning is a process of making meaning that happens one student at a time.” For this very reason, differentiated instruction is a successful tool in teaching individual students in their own individual ways.

Multiple Intelligences

In 1983, Howard Gardner, a psychology professor at Harvard University, proposed the theory of multiple intelligences to more accurately define the concept of intelligence. Gardner’s theory argues that traditionally defined intelligence does not sufficiently encompass the wide variety of abilities people display.

In his model, a child who excels at math is not necessarily more intelligent overall than a child who struggles with it. The second child may be stronger in another kind of intelligence, and therefore may best learn the given material through a different approach or may excel in a field outside of mathematics. In his book, Multiple Intelligences, Gardner explains that rather than relying on a uniform curriculum, schools should offer “individual-centered education,” with curriculum tailored to the needs of each child. This “individual-centered education” is another form of differentiated instruction.

How can we incorporate differentiated instruction into our classrooms?

There are several techniques that are easily incorporated into a regular classroom, even one with only two or three hours of English instruction a day.

Jigsaw

The jigsaw activity sets students up in groups reading or listening to different materials. The jigsaw is a learning strategy that divides the material to be studied into sections and makes individuals or groups responsible for learning and then teaching their section to the other students. Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, each piece, each student’s part, is essential for the completion and full understanding of the final product. Here is a sample jigsaw activity from the Civil War:

Gettysburg Address(Blue Group) Poem: My Brothers in Arms(Red Group) Harriet Jacobs’s Slave Account(Green Group) Textbook pages 1-5(Purple Group)
A Moshe Shmuel Yerucham Ari
B Avi David Dani Yaakov
C Josh Michael Ephraim Chezky
D Binyamin Yitzchak Meir Noach
E Aryeh Aaron Naftali Shimon

 

Instructions for activity: Please ignore the letters for now and read down the grid to formulate groups by color. In your group, as you read, you should be asking the following questions:

Blue: What does Lincoln say was the reason for the Civil War?

Red: Why are the brothers fighting?

Green: Where does Jacobs escape to? Why?

Purple: What were the immediate and proximate causes of the Civil War?

Each person in the group should have the same information, possibly a bulleted list of major points. After 15 minutes, you will switch to your numbered groups and you will be teaching your classmates the information you have just learned.

Literature Circles

A literature circle is a classroom equivalent of an adult book club. The aim is to encourage student-choice and a love of reading. Students have a certain amount of time to read a book and they decide as a group how much they will read for each session. During literature circles, students have clearly defined roles: acting as facilitators, making connections, doing simple research and creating relevant illustrations. Many teachers choose to tape-record the student discussions in order to review and supervise the conversations.

A great resource for teachers on this subject is Harvey Daniels’s text Literature Circles. Daniels’s book details strategies, structures, tools and stories that show you how to launch and manage literature circles effectively. It also includes twenty examples from teachers who practice literature circles in their own classrooms.

Classroom Setup

Once teachers have recognized which are the stronger or weaker students, they may arrange the classroom in a way that is conducive to differentiated instruction. When working with partners, if the classroom is set up methodically, the students can work in same-ability and mixed-ability groups.

Tic-Tac-Toe

The tic-tac-toe format can be utilized when students create a final product at the end of the unit of study. It allows students to choose their final assignment in a way that teachers can control. In a tic-tac-toe chart, students need to simply choose “three in a row,” – vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Alternatively, teachers may mandate that students are required to complete their three only vertically or diagonally. Here is an example of a tic-tac-toe chart:

Written Visual Oral
Research report

 

Poster Lesson presentation
News article

 

Graphic organizer Oral presentation
Information brochure

 

PowerPoint Radio interview

 

How can parents ensure that we teach to our children’s multiple intelligences?

As the school year begins, if we know that our children are strong in certain areas and weak in others, we can advocate that schools seek out students’ strengths, coach for success and monitor individual growth against goals. Additionally, parents can encourage teachers to use multiple assessments to evaluate student progress throughout the year. It’s simply important to remind ourselves constantly that if students cannot learn the way we teach, we had better teach the way they can learn.

An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net.

Meeting God At A Garden Party

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

The scene: Harvard University, April 25, 1977. I am standing at a turning point – not one that will be written up in even one academic journal, but one I can almost see while still feeling dizzy from all the turning.

It is the spring of my junior year here, and I’ve just gotten back from one of Harvard’s most exclusive garden parties. Somehow I was invited to the Porcelain Club’s big bash. Maybe it’s because my boyfriend, Christopher, has been doing a lot of “power-seeking” lately, making friends in high places.

I was thrilled to be invited, but also terrified that someone would discover the mistake that had been made. What would they do if they found someone Jewish at the garden party? Throw me out?  Harvard is very liberal now when it comes to clubs, but you can see that deep at the very center of things, it remains as “WASPy” as ever.

Why would anyone suspect me of being different, though, since I was already there? My name isn’t especially Jewish. And I don’t really look Jewish anymore. My nose is nice, my hair is straight, and I’m tan and thin now. All those years of dieting have been worth it. What a culmination; I could be as slim and rich-looking as every other woman there.

When I got to the party, all I kept thinking was, “This is it. I have made it.” I’d thought I had made it to the top before, but, wow, way up here you can really get light-headed. I was at the garden party people don’t even dream of attending. Me, a one-time chubby, frizzy-haired, middle-class Jewish girl from Queens. Me, brushing my bony shoulders past the sons and daughters of the most powerful people in the world. It was such a joy to revel standing there, classically poised in my white sundress. I fit it!

So I figured I’d just stroll on over and talk with some old chums – Caroline Kennedy and her cousin, Robert F Kennedy, Jr. Then I’d kind of glide over by the dainty tea sandwiches and chat for a bit with the Rockefellers and Moynihans. The only problem was that I couldn’t move. I was afraid even to breathe. Could I do it casually? And if I blinked, would this whole scene disappear? It looked straight out of some fantasy or The Great Gatsby. So I just stood there, thinking. How did I get to be here on this hedge-enclosed, perfectly trimmed lawn among these people? Then the answer hit me: by running away.

I started running away years back, whenever my relatives came over. Our cramped apartment would always smell sweaty as soon as they’d arrive. There was loud chattering and cheap cigar smoke. When they’d all get together for the Passover Seder, their deepest discussions (between huge mouthfuls) were about how fluffy the matzah balls were that year.

I slammed the door on all their mediocrity. Their lower-middle-class tentacles were trying to suck me in, too – but I wouldn’t let them. I was different. I was un-Jewish and airy. I was the kind of person who loved to run through meadows and forests and across beaches in the wind – barefoot, hair flowing, and in my beautiful patched jeans. And I was going to get out of their clutches and become something great. Something un-Jewish – rich, beautiful, famous, and skinny.

 

So five years later, there I was at the garden party, unable to imagine any place higher. And all I was doing was standing there, feeling relieved that nobody was noticing me.

Slowly, very slowly, I started moving from one group of people to another. I was dying to hear what the very rich and beautiful said to each other.

After a while, though, it began to dawn on me that everybody there was doing the same thing I was doing. Everyone looked like they were dying to hear words of significance. Everyone’s eyes were darting about, straying far from the people talking to them.

I did, at one point, find a singular group of people talking animatedly. They were discussing a Newsweek article, just as anybody could. Each moment felt frozen and too clich?d to be real. But then, I guess that’s how clich?s come about – by describing the way things actually are. There, atop the peak of fame and fortune, was nothing. The ice cubes clinking in the glasses everyone was holding seemed to have more warmth than the people holding them. Aunt Selma, come and sing the praises of fluffy matzah balls. It would be thrilling compared to this. Everybody at this elite party was bored through and through. And it was exhausting having to look expressionless for so long.

Suddenly I felt that a gigantic cloud had lifted. It was really odd that I felt that way because, actually, more and more storm clouds were suddenly filling up the sunny sky. “There honestly is nothing special about the big shots in the world,” I kept thinking. “I’ve been given the chance to see that they also have nostrils close up – but almost no breath of life inside. And a half hour ago, I would have sold my soul to be one of them.”

So, then, what was left to strive for? If there was nothing up here on this peak, was there nothing at all above it?

It sounds too unreal even to put in a movie, but right then the clouds burst. A terrific thunderstorm came pouring down on all the skimpy white dresses and tanned, bony shoulders. It came down on all the perfectly spread tea sandwiches. The whole shebang instantly became one big, sloshy mess. All the guests frantically ran off the manicured lawn to find shelter, so their naturally-styled hair wouldn’t get ruined. The privileged garden party had just collapsed before my eyes.

I skipped home alone, not bothering to find out where Christopher had run off to. It must have been years since I had gone skipping through the streets. But on this suddenly transformed, rainy afternoon, Cambridge was glistening for me. I skipped all the way back to my dorm, singing out loud, splashing in puddles, and thinking, “There is something more. Something more than being rich or famous or beautiful. Something even more exclusive than Harvard’s Porcelain Club. The next generation’s potentially most powerful had been at the party. And even they couldn’t stop the rain from falling.”

Mrs. Bracha Goetz is the author of eight children’s books, including What Do You See at Home?, What Do You See on Chanukah?, and The Happiness Box. In her newest picture book, The Invisible Book, a child learns about the invisible nature of many things that are real.  And even though the book is “invisible,” you can find it at Jewish bookstores and online at Judaica websites like Eichlers.com. For Bracha Goetz’s delightful presentations, visit www.host-a-jewish-book-author.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/meeting-god-at-a-garden-party/2008/11/12/

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