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August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
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Thanksgiving

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

When I married my husband, I was surprised to learn that his family didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. His parents were Holocaust survivors, born and raised in Europe, threatened and nearly killed by the Nazis. They immigrated to the United States because anywhere, everywhere was better than Europe and the US was the first place that came through with enough visas for the brothers and sisters on both sides that had survived. Gone were the parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Each had lost siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors.

They were a generation cut off from their roots but not their future and the one thing they knew for sure was that their future would not be spent in Europe. As far as I know, the only other time they went back to Europe was on a personal “heritage” tour in which they went with my sister-in-law and at one place, were met with a woman and a knife because she thought they had come to take her home – the one she had stolen from my father-in-law’s family – away from her.

It was the United States of America that accepted them, welcomed them, and gave them a secure place to raise their children. They accepted many things from their new homeland, but not this holiday of Thanksgiving. For them, as Orthodox Jews, thanksgiving was something you gave every day, not once a year, they explained to me (as others have as well).

In practice, the concept of thanking God is so ingrained in the Jewish religion that it is the first words we speak each morning – Modeh Ani -

מוֹדֶה (מוֹדָה) אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ מֶֽלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּים. שֶׁהֶֽחֱזַֽרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמֽוּנָתֶֽךָ I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

I tried to explain to them that for me Thanksgiving was about family – it was the chance to gather everyone close on a day that was not Shabbat, when Jews are unable to travel, use electricity, and generally stay close to home.

So, each year, most years, we made a Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family. When we moved to Israel, we made a few dinners with American friends, but for the most part, the tradition fell away. It’s been years since I did it. Until Lauren came into our lives and asked about the holiday.

I decided this year to make a turkey and invite my parents and my sister – her children, my children. And then, Israel went…well, as it turns out, not really to war but into Operation Pillar of Defense. Elie was called in and I wasn’t sure what to do. I decided that whatever Lauren wanted, we’d do and so I asked. I think she was surprised that I asked – hadn’t considered canceling. You don’t cancel Thanksgiving, after all – it’s there. And so my husband picked up the turkey, I stuffed it and cooked it. Lauren made pumpkin pie and a delicious soup – and my parents and my sister and one of her kids (and her fiance, who is also named Elie), came.

And though he didn’t make it in time for dinner – but rather time enough to grab leftovers and eat them straight off the plate as a happy Lauren packed him food – Elie came home.

Thanksgiving is a time – one time along with every day and every minute of your life that you should stop and give thanks. Some families go around the table and have everyone say one thing for which they are grateful. That’s not something we have ever done, but perhaps we should.

I am so very grateful, God, that You brought my son home safely. I’m grateful for the rain that pours down on this land at this moment, and even for the thunder and lightning. I am grateful for the land in which I live; that we are able to defend ourselves as we were not able to do when my in-laws lived and nearly died in Europe.

I am so very grateful for the blessings in my life – my husband, my children, my grandson, the three that have married my children to form families of their own. I am grateful to the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who answered the call without hesitation -in staggering numbers and with staggering efficiency. They rushed to answer the call – out of love and dedication.

How To Feel Love

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

I have an issue and it is causing problems in my marriage.

The home I grew up was not a warm one and I never received much love. For that reason, showing love to others is difficult for me – and for my husband. He is a warm and caring person and does not deserve my lack of affection. While I am working hard to change, I was wondering if you could offer some suggestions that might be helpful to both him and me.

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

Research shows that adults who do not receive a lot of love and physical closeness during their early years have a hard time showing love to their future spouses. Oxytocin is a hormone important in the development of children and adults, and is transmitted initially by the young baby being closely held to his mother when being fed. With this knowledge, parents whose children are in the NICU (neonatal ICU) will be encouraged to touch and hold the infants no matter how small they are. In fact, mothers are encouraged to do the “kangaroo,” whereby the mother holds the child skin to skin. Research shows that babies who are fed with bottles that were propped up (i.e., not held) have a harder time showing and giving affection to others as adults.

Children who are not taught to talk about their feelings and are not shown how to be warm and caring often have difficulty showing love to others when they are adults. Thus, if you grew up in a home where talking about one’s feelings and showing warmth were not taught, that may be why it is hard for you to act lovingly toward your husband. Other factors like self-esteem and trauma can also play a part in hindering one’s ability to demonstrate love and affection.

While it is helpful to understand why you have an unloving nature, it is more important to try to make a change – a difficult task for an individual to accomplish. Most people find it easier to initially change their behavior, even if it does not feel natural, as over time this can lead to a more substantial change in feelings and personality.

You can begin with your husband by showing him love. If expressing it verbally is too challenging, perhaps writing him notes will be easier. So this even if it is not something you have ever done and as I said, feels a little strange. If you are going to try saying the word, then practice what you want to say in advance, so that it will be easier for you in the moment. Try using loving speech often, as this will help it become a part of your nature. Metoch shelo lishma, ba lishma – behaving in the right manner, even if not for the sake of Hashem, can become for the sake of Hashem. The same is true with a person’s nature. From behaving lovingly, even if you are not doing it from of a loving feeling, will become a feeling of love. Furthermore, just by giving more to your husband, you will begin to feel closer to him.

It also may be helpful to figure out what your husband’s “love language” is. Individuals are programmed to feel loved in different ways, and often, we may think we are acting in a loving manner, but are not really giving our spouse what he/she needs.

Here are some examples of love languages (based on the work of Dr. Gary Chapman):

Meir and Shani come into my office feeling very frustrated with each other. Everyone thinks that they are a perfect couple. They are financially well off, they are an absolutely stunning looking couple, they have five beautiful children, and two homes. They are viewed as the “perfect couple” and both are active in many chesed projects. However they are miserable.

Shani says that Meir is a workaholic and has no time for her. Meir says that he feels Shani has no appreciation for all of his hard work and the lifestyle he provides for her and their family.

What is missing? When I ask each of them to list the other spouse’s positive qualities Meir lists all the things that Shani – cooking, taking care of their home and the children etc. He says he appreciates all that she does and that he tells her so very often. Shani says that Meir is a hard worker and that she does appreciate his work, but she needs him to spend time with her. Meir wishes Shani would verbalize more appreciation for him.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Light In The Darkness

Dear Rachel,

Over the last few weeks you published letters that were filled with vitriol and criticisms as readers took issue with parents whom they view as being not caring enough of their children’s eating habits, or with adults who spend lavishly on mishloach manos or simchas, and on and on.

I have a different story to put out there, one that demonstrates true ahavas Yisroel and caring. The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy seems to have brought out the best in and among us.

The Five Towns and Far Rockaway were especially hard hit by the storm, and when I urged my children who live there to come out to us in Monsey where they’d enjoy light and warmth, they answered simply, “You won’t be able to fit us all in.”

I soon learned that my son and daughter-in-law ,who were without electricity or hot water since day one of the hurricane, had opened up their home and hearts to a family of nine from the Bayswater area who had even less — for their own home had become inhabitable.

When I questioned how they could possibly accommodate all these extra people, my daughter-in-law answered that some of my grandchildren had given up their bedrooms and joined mom and dad in the master bedroom for the interim.

My curiosity was piqued; without working refrigerators and ovens, how did they manage to feed such a brood? My daughter-in-law could not say enough about the magnificent outreach of their local Chabad that was providing hot meals daily, clothing items and blankets to make life more tolerable in the cold indoors, as well as programs at the Chabad center to keep younger children entertained.

You hit the nail on the head, Rachel, when you said in a recent column, “We are creative and enterprising, compassionate and giving, and family oriented.”

Mi k’Amcha Yisroel!

Dear Rachel,

Many of us have been grossly inconvenienced, to put it mildly, by nature’s latest whoppers, beginning with Hurricane Sandy. In my neighborhood many families opted to leave their darkened homes and move in with relatives who had not lost power or had it quickly restored.

This has left empty houses vulnerable to looting since alarm systems are disabled, and sadly many a homeowner has returned to find their premises broken into. If this is not adding insult to injury, I don’t know what is. But more horrifying yet has to be staying put and realizing in the middle of the night that a burglar has let himself in with the help of the blackout.

I am reminded of an incident a close friend of mine experienced many years ago. Those were the days when many households made do with fans in place of air-conditioners. One summer Friday night my friend was suddenly awakened from her sleep and opened her eyes to the sight of a stranger standing in the doorway of her bedroom.

She froze as her heart raced wildly, while her husband was fast asleep in his own bed. She thought of just closing her eyes and pretending to be asleep but feared that the intruder had already noticed her waking and would approach to do her harm.

Almost as naïve as the man in the White House who believed that if he’d make nice to our enemies they’d become our chums, my friend rationalized that if she’ll speak softly to the lowlife he’d certainly have no reason to want to hurt her. Pulling her covers up to her chin (this being a sweltering August night, she wasn’t very tzniusdik’ly attired), she sat up and asked, “Who are you?” with wide-eyed innocence.

Must have been the last thing he expected, because the intruder turned on his heels and ran. That’s when she first alerted her husband and they both got up to check on things and make sure he was really gone. It turned out that the burglar had entered through a small space over the kitchen counter. By early the next morning a neighbor had found my friend’s emptied pocketbook discarded in her yard; her awakening had apparently interrupted the intruder’s poking around in their bedroom.

On Motzei Shabbos the young couple made out a report at the local precinct house where the officer on duty told my friend that her daring move was unwise and that she was lucky not to get hurt. The best thing to do in such a circumstance, he advised, is to pretend to be asleep. Desperate thugs can be dangerous when confronted.

Evacuating Jewish Homes and Yishai Live With Nachum Segal

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai presents an interview with Gilead Mooseek, a resident of Kiryat Malachi.  Mooseek, who had to evacuate his home in Kiryat Malachi, discusses firsthand what it is like to be forced from your home and also what it is like to work in an environment where many co-workers are Arabs.  At 13:00 Yishai presents an interview that he gave earlier this week to Nachum Segal on his show JM in the AM.  Yisahi talks with Segal about Iron Dome, the call up of IDF reserve soldiers, and whether a peace deal between Israel and Hamas would even work.  Don’t miss this segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Our Friend, Adversity

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

It is painfully difficult to start and end the hectic day seeing my daughter wander, almost lifelessly, from room to room and sibling to sibling with no desire to venture out into the scary world of society. With her bundle of strengths and weaknesses, and despite my countless pep talks, our 27-year-old daughter chooses to spend most of her time in the comfort and safety of our home. That is until recently, when terrible loneliness finally pushed her out the door.

With many children in the family, our daughter could always manage to find a sibling, at one point or another, throughout the day to hang out with indoors. Her minor attempts in childcare employment were sporadic, as hurtful memories of jobs gone sour haunted her. She felt paralyzed and refused to take another risk at entering the workforce.

I decided to seek help from a kind community social worker who gave freely of her time away from her busy schedule to help improve our daughter’s quality of life. Meanwhile, during the summer months, two younger daughters traveled to Los Angeles and a younger son went away to overnight camp – leaving our older daughter painfully lonely.

Over and over again she called me at work and I would urge her to at least volunteer at the Center for Special Children, where she had once worked part-time in the afternoon so she would not have to be alone. Finally, one morning it happened. With the quiet at home too much to bear, my daughter called me to say that she was taking a taxi to the Center. I was overjoyed. The only thing worse for her than the challenge of being around other people was being absolutely alone at home.

The following days were filled with trepidation for all of us. Would she give up or would she forge ahead? Would the memories and fears destroy her desire and courage, or would she be able to take the risk and continue to show up at the Center? Would she be able to function despite the pains in her chest and the fear in her heart? I spoke to the directors at the Center a few times, encouraging them to make sure our daughter knew how much she was valued and liked. I bought her new clothes and coffee drinks to encourage her. She even went out to dinner with my husband and me on our wedding anniversary so we could help build on her success.

Baruch Hashem, a wonderful thing happened! She thought of bringing her keyboard and offered to play and sing for the children. They loved it. She was an instant success. Seeing my daughter smile and hearing her happy voice report the experiences at the Center are more nachas than I could have ever hoped for. It is a new life for us.

Adversity forced our daughter to confront the absurdity of doing almost nothing all day and relying too much on others for her own satisfaction. Hardship can lead to growth and change. Not everything should always be pleasant and easy. If we are to reach our potential we must be prepared to take adversity by the hand and see what is being asked of us. This is also help from Above, sometimes the best help of all.

I daven that my daughter will continue to play her many self-taught songs on the keyboard, which will give her the wonderful satisfaction that she has something worthwhile to contribute. Her joy lifts our family higher. May Hashem continue to guide us and help us achieve what we have been uniquely created to accomplish.

A Generation of Children Growing in the Shadow of Gaza’s Terror Rockets

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Almost half of Sderot’s preteens suffer from signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study that was published this November in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Based on a questionnaire answered by 154 seventh and eighth grade students, it was found that 43.5 percent of the children demonstrated clinical signs of PTSD.

The survey, which was conducted in 2007-2008 during a time period when thousands of rockets had been fired towards Sderot, was directed by a team led by Dr. Rony Berger, a clinical psychologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Dr. Berger is also the community services director of NATAL, the Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War, which released a report in 2011 that 70% of all Sderot children suffer from at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress, and that 50% continue to relive rocket trauma.

Idan Bitton, a 25-year-old student at Sapir college, spoke with Tazpit News Agency this week, relating how life had changed for him when the rockets from Gaza began striking Sderot 10 years ago. “Suddenly, in the middle of class, we would hear a rocket explosion,” he explained. “There was no Code Red [rocket alarm system] then, so we had no idea when the rockets would land in our city.”

Fifteen-year-old Odaya of Sderot after rocket attack on her neighbor's home, Sunday, November 18.

Fifteen-year-old Odaya of Sderot after rocket attack on her neighbor’s home, Sunday, November 18. Photo: Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency.

“I remember as a student in school, hearing an explosion, and then continuing on in class as if nothing happened. This was a mistake,” emphasized Bitton. “In a way, our passive reaction gave legitimacy that those rocket attacks against us were OK, even acceptable.” Bitton says that the rockets attack dramatically affected his friends. “Most of my friends from high school didn’t stay in Sderot or the south– they moved to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It was a kind of ‘flight’ reaction to the rockets,” he explains.

But Biton says that he learned in the army how to respond, and take on the ‘fight’ approach. “In the army when I trained to become an officer, I learned how to respond effectively in an emergency situation, and how to take on bad situations and turn them around.”

“It all begins with your attitude and approach,” he said.

But for Idan’s 12-year-old brother, the fear still remains. “My brother was born into the rockets, he doesn’t know anything else. He associates the color red with the rocket warning system.”

“Last week, when I brought my brother to school, he was trembling,” recalls Idan. “He was simply too scared to leave the car because of the rockets.”

“I feel lucky because I still got to enjoy my childhood until I was a teenager when the rocket strikes began—my brother never had one,” he said.

For 15-year-old Odaya of Sderot, the rocket attacks on her city hit very close to home, literally, this past Sunday, November 18, when Gaza rocket struck Odaya’s neighbor’s home. The soft-spoken teenager told Tazpit News Agency, that the rocket attack was “scary” and had left her in shock.

“I went into our family’s bomb shelter as soon as the Code Red siren went off,” she said. “And then as I was standing there, I heard the shriek of the rocket as it flew over our house, followed by a deafening explosion. I thought the rocket had fallen on our home.”

The rocket, which slammed into the roof of Odaya’s neighbors’ house, sent pieces of shrapnel and glass everywhere, reaching also Odaya’s home. The neighboring family was away at the time of the attack, but for Odaya, the experience was scarring.

Elsewhere in southern Israel, children continue to remain targets of Gaza rocket attacks.

In Ashkelon on Sunday, November 18, a group of Ethiopian children experienced a rocket attack on their apartment building, which left two residents wounded and a gaping hole in the ceiling and floor of two apartments.

“The roof exploded open,” six-year-old Eli triesto explain. “We all heard the rocket boom.” Eli and his teenage cousins, Eden and Stav, have been living in the public bomb shelter of their run-down apartment building for five days, since Wednesday, November 14. Beds, blankets, and canned foods pack their shelter. Their mothers’ faces are lined with worry.

Wedding During War

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Tomorrow, November 22, Miri Colman and Daniel Brooks are getting married.  Miri grew up in an observant family in Monsey, New York, and Daniel grew up in a secular household in Johannesburg, South Africa.  They each made Aliyah several years ago and became engaged this past spring.  They chose their wedding date, at least in part, because it coincided with the Thanksgiving holiday.

Last Wednesday evening, Miri and Daniel were savoring their last few hours together for the week because, as Ashkenazi Jews, they would not see each other during the week preceding their wedding.  Shortly before they were to say good-bye, Daniel’s phone rang.  He answered it, and learned he was being called up for military service.

He was told to call for instructions, which were terse.  Pack a bag, get his equipment, and immediately go to a certain base on a coastal city by midnight.  That meant he had to leave immediately.

Miri told The Jewish Press she began to cry, but Daniel automatically switched over into “soldier mode,” grabbed his bags, and within ten minutes he was gone.

When Daniel spoke with The Jewish Press, he admitted that he was completely surprised when he received his call-up phone message.  He explained, “it was the first day of the operation (Pillar of Defense), and we knew there was tension in the South, but I had no idea we would be called up.”

Daniel had grown to love Israel through his involvement with the Bnei Akiva movement in Johannesburg.  It was because of that experience that after high school he moved by himself to a country where he had no family.

Daniel is part of the Hesder Yeshiva program, one in which young religious men commit to a five year program that combines Torah study and military service.  Daniel is in the last few months of the program, a time in which he and his colleagues are – or at least were – in the study phase of the program.  Daniel studies at the Har Etzion Yeshiva, known to most as simply, “Gush.”

After arriving at the first base at midnight last Wednesday, Brooks and his colleagues completed their preliminary tasks, and the next day were transferred down, further south.

Miri is completing nursing school at Machon Tal.  She came to Israel after high school to study for a year at a seminary.  She went to Midreshet Moriah.  It was then Miri decided to make Aliyah.  She told The Jewish Press that she felt very connected to Israel, that she felt “at home” there, and experienced a great sense of Jewish pride.

Miri and Daniel met through mutual friends.  Their families and friends have had airplane reservations for months, so that they could all be together for the wedding.  And less than a week before that wedding, Daniel and his unit were in the southern part of the country, preparing to enter Gaza if that decision was made by the Israeli government.

But, encouraged by his buddies in his unit, Daniel informed his commanding officer, who then informed his commanding officer, and so on, that he was to be married in less than a week.  Friday morning Daniel learned he could return home.  He then trekked back across the tiny slip of a country, and was back in Gush Etzion in time for his Shabbat Chatan, the Shabbat named for the groom.

Daniel explained how hard it was for him to be back in the Gush, while his buddies, with whom he has studied and trained for years, were down in the south, prepared to enter Gaza if that is the order they receive.  He said, “it’s very hard, I’ve been through so much with them, and now they are there and I am here.”

So how was he able to come to terms with that separation?  It was because of the advice from his friends in his unit.  They told him, “you have to go home because the only reason we fight is so that we can build Jewish families and Jewish homes.  That is what you are going home to do.”

Tomorrow – G-d willing – Miri Coleman and Daniel Brooks will be married in Jerusalem.

 

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/wedding-during-war/2012/11/21/

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