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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘home’

Home Sweet Home?

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Baby-boomers who were fortunate to know their grandparents were likely regaled with stories of life in the shtetl and early 1900s New York. One common denominator between our Old World and New World ancestors was the crowded living conditions, with families often consisting of six or more children sharing a dwelling space of one or maybe two bedrooms. In fact, some kids shared beds with several siblings at a time – and even a bathroom with other large families on the same floor.  Somehow they managed to thrive in these crowded conditions but the dream was to earn enough money to own a home with lots of rooms to accommodate children and guests – often relatives brought over from Europe.  It was not unusual for elderly grandparents to live with a married daughter and her family or her to take in unmarried siblings for extended periods of time.

Many families did eventually achieve this goal, even if it took a generation or two to do so.  So successful were a significant number of individuals that the term “monster home” was created to describe the huge houses that sprung up like weeds, replacing the smaller but decent-sized ranch houses and bungalows that were purchased.  Some were remodeled with additions, but many were demolished and replaced by multi-leveled houses with four bedrooms and an equal number of bathrooms. Some homes were even built with a self-contained Pesach kitchen, swimming pool, den, family room, “granny suites” and guest rooms.

But I believe that the up-and-coming generations will not live in the grand single-family homes many of them grew up in. That’s because housing in cities and towns in the New York area, in Toronto and other urban areas is becoming a luxury, and fewer and fewer middle to upper-middle income families can afford to buy homes in what we would term geographically-desirable frum communities in North America.

In Toronto, for example, blessed with a large and rapidly growing Orthodox community, the average home is well over $1,000,000. Even fixer-upper homes that are falling apart, but that are located in heavily populated frum neighborhoods, sell for that much. The cheapest homes in the not-as-popular Jewish areas are still an out-of-reach $700,000-800,000. I imagine that in Brooklyn, Queens, the Five Towns and Los Angeles the real estate has also skyrocketed to out-of-reach levels even for “comfortable” families.

A generation or two ago, young married couples would rent an apartment for several years and with money saved, and perhaps some financial help from their parents, they would buy a starter house. Gradually as their family grew, and they became more established in their businesses and professions, they moved into a bigger home.

Those days are over.  For those families who may earn an impressive $120,000 a year, home ownership is out of reach even with the current very low borrowing rates.  Even if there is money for a down payment, 10% of  $1,000,000 is still a formidable $100,000. With tuition for two kids running somewhere around $25,000, how can they afford the monthly mortgage payments which are thousands of dollars a month as well? And then there are the high expenditures of being Orthodox: kosher food, sheitels, Yom Tov clothing, shul membership, as well as real estate taxes, car payments and upkeep, income taxes, etc.

Some couples may have wealthy parents, but if they have three or four siblings who also need or will need houses one day for their own growing families – well several million dollars doesn’t go that far anymore.

What I already see happening is that young families are staying in rental apartments and some are buying two or three-bedroom condos or co-ops. They will either have to limit the size of their family to live comfortably in their small living space – or live as their great, great-grandparents did once upon a time, with wall-to-wall humanity if they opt to have large families.

Cheryl Kupfer

Al-Nusra Front Changes Brand Name, Severs Affiliation with Home Office

Friday, July 29th, 2016

The leader of Syrian rebel organization Jabhat a-Nusra, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, on Thursday announced the severing of his group’s ties to Al Qaeda. In his first video broadcast, which was later carried by Al Jazeera, Al-Julani said that his organization will now be named Fatah al-Sham, and will have no outside affiliations. He explained that the move was a measure to enhance unity in the ranks, and thanked Al Qaeda for supporting his move.

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced founder and original CEO Osama bin Laden, gave his blessings to the move in an audio cassette. Jabhat a-Nusra, the largest rebel army in Syria, operated from its inception as an offshoot of Al Qaeda.

Al-Julani told the Al Jazeera audience that the move was “a response to the wishes of the people of al-Sham (Syria), to remove a possible excuse the Russians and the Americans might use in bombing and expelling the Muslims of Syria under the guise of fighting Jabhat a-Nusra, over its loyalty to Al Qaeda.

Abu Mohammad al-Julani is the nom de guerre of this mysterious man, whose real name is only known to the Al Qaeda leadership. The name is a reference to the Golan Heights, which Israel liberated from Syria in the 1967 war. Back in 2013, Syrian state television reported that al-Julani had been killed near Latakia, but a year later he released an audio statement in which he promised to fight the “United States and its allies” and urged his men not to accept help from the West in their battle against ISIS — so the Syrian state-run news agency SANA withdrew its report of his demise.

He is commonly known as “al-Sheikh al-Fateh” — the Conqueror Sheikh. In October 2015, al-Julani called for indiscriminate attacks on Alawite villages in Syria (the Alawite is an offshoot Islamic sect, to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs), saying, “There is no choice but to escalate the battle and to target Alawite towns and villages in Latakia.”

JNi.Media

Dawabsheh Clan Burns another Home in Duma Village

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

It’s what they do: overnight a home belonging to a member of the Dawabsheh clan in the Duma village south of Shechem in Samaria was set on fire. Ma’an reported that two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the house and its second floor caught fire. The house sustained heavy damages but no one was hurt.

There was a feeble attempt on the part of the PA Arabs to blame the “settlers” for the arson (the Ma’an headline ran: “Settlers burn a house in Douma, south of Nablus”), but a preliminary investigation showed it was a villager-on-villager arson, which is how most arson cases in Duma get started. Over the past year and a half there have been at least six arson cases in Duma, because arson is how the local clan, the Dawabshehs, are known to settle their internal accounts.

Speaking of which, the much celebrated Duma arson case is reaching its first anniversary in 11 days, on July 31, and the security apparatus is yet to submit convincing charges to the courts, especially since their version and the descriptions of local Arabs of what took place that night do not match. And while it is true that three members of a Dawabsheh family, including a baby, lost their lives in the fire that night, the prosecution appears reluctant to proceed with the case against Amiram Ben-Uliel and a minor. Ben-Uliel has retracted his confession, saying it had been extracted under torture — which it was, according to Shabak reports, with the blessings of then AG Yehuda Weinstein.

Arab activist Ghassan Douglas, who is in charge of monitoring settlement activities in Judea and Samaria, informed Ma’an it was the settlers who threw those Molotov cocktails Tuesday night—which is par for the course for this PA official. According to Douglas, it had to be the “settlers,” since the owner of the house “felt strange movement around the house”—so that proves it, and also the materials used were highly flammable—must be the Jews, and, most emphatically, as Ma’an put it in simple language: “The Israeli government released 15 settlers out of 17 of the defendants [in the Duma case] to carry out acts of terrorism against citizens in the West Bank.” Case closed…

The IDF initially suggested last night’s fire started due to faulty wiring, but as of Wednesday morning all sides agree it was the Dawabsheh folks settling accounts in their favorite fashion.

David Israel

Welcome Home!

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

223 American Jews made Aliya and arrived in Israel today!

Welcome home.

Photos by: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

New US Olim

New US Olim

New US Olim

Photo of the Day

Tuesday 223 American Olim Made Israel their Home

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

On Tuesday, July 19, a flight with 223 olim from the US and Canada landed in Ben-Gurion International Airport, where a ceremony was held to welcome them to Israel.

KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar said that “the Aliyah to Israel is the foundation on which the Zionist enterprise stands. It is the clearest expression of our love to the land of Israel.”

“The strategic cooperation between KKL-JNF and Nefesh Be’Nefesh assists many diaspora Jews to find their way to Israel, build their home there, integrate in the Israeli society and contribute to the prosperity of Israel,” Atar said, adding, “I am sure that many Olim will encounter KKL-JNF down the road … We are here for you and proud of you.”

The 223 newcomers include Jews from 17 US states and two Canadian provinces, former servicemen from three different US Armed Forces units, families of all sizes, and young professionals.

JNi.Media

A Home For A Diamond

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

How do you offer to help someone save money, when you’re not sure they were even thinking of buying something?

It’s a tricky situation and one I found myself in when my youngest daughter got engaged.

There is a minhag in Israel, not universally accepted but quite common, for the chatan to give the kallah a diamond ring in the cheder yichud after the chuppah.

Sometimes the kallah will know if she’ll be given a ring because she might go with the chatan to choose it before the chatuna, but often it is a surprise and the ring is chosen by the chatan’s mother or sister.

Shortly after my youngest daughter, Bracha, got engaged, my mother was niftar. My three sister and I had always been very close and after the shloshim, we had gone through our mother’s possessions quite amicably choosing items our mother had used and treasured, and things we fondly remembered from our childhood home, to take back with us to our families.

Among her possessions was a brooch made up of a few small diamonds. We weren’t sure what to do with the brooch as none of us would have actually worn it as it was. Its style was a very old fashioned and none of us is the type to wear diamond brooches anyway. There didn’t seem any point in having the diamonds removed and each of us taking one; what would we do with it?

Then I had an idea. I asked my sisters if they would mind if I gave one of the diamonds to Bracha and her chatan. It would save his family buying a diamond and I knew my daughter would be thrilled to have something from her Grandma. They could just choose whatever setting they wanted.

Everyone was very happy with this idea and we decided to offer the other diamonds to our other children.

But later on when I started to think about my idea I suddenly hit a snag. What if our future mechutanim had no intention of buying a ring? I knew that their finances were severely limited and I didn’t even want to give the impression that I assumed they would be buying Bracha something.

But if they were considering it, then I definitely wanted them to know that they wouldn’t have to pay for the diamond. I asked Bracha what she thought I should do. She didn’t want me to mention it unless I was sure that they intended to buy her a ring. She desperately didn’t want them to be embarrassed if they had never even considered it.

Could she ask her chatan? No, he probably wouldn’t have any idea as he was in yeshiva all the time and had very little to do with the wedding plans and discussions.

So I seemed to be stuck. The best I could do was to ask Bracha to tell me if her future mother-in-law asked her to come with her to choose “something” before the wedding.

“What and then I’ll just produce this diamond from out of my hat like a magician waiting for his turn to perform. C’mon Mum I can’t.”

I seemed to be stuck for ideas on how to get round this. The wedding plans progressed and each time we met with the mechutanim I tried to listen out to see if I could hear any hints as to whether they were thinking of getting the ring.

One morning, just two weeks before the wedding, my cell phone rang. It was my mechutenista.

“Oh Penina, how are you. I’m sorry to bother you. I intended to ring Bracha but I must have got your numbers confused.”

Penina Pinchasi

Summer Break Fun

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Asher Schwartz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/daily-cartoon/summer-break-fun/2016/06/21/

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