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December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘journey’

Looking Up

Friday, September 28th, 2012

In the hustle and bustle of New York City, it’s nearly impossible to stop and slow down – even for a second. The gulps of coffee, swish of a lipstick, and the tying of your shoelaces need to be accomplished in a matter of minutes. The clock is ticking. Everyone is perpetually on the go, not appreciating the present because the future is waiting impatiently. Though I am a New Yorker through and through, I’ve never stopped to ponder this hasty way of living.

A planned trip to an unexpected destination gave me an opportunity to experience another route to living. I’ve inadvertently popped the insular bubble that has enveloped me during my 22 years of existence and stepped into another perspective. A cruise to Alaska shed light on a world that may be worth investing time in. Alaska has a beauty that doesn’t shout for attention; it speaks for itself with its quiet and calm aura. The majestic mountains and turquoise waters are serene and contagiously tranquil. I automatically felt a wave of peacefulness, a rare feeling in New York City. It was as if my senses had been longing for this, gulping a glass of what Alaska had to offer me.

I imagined myself waking up to an Alaskan view, drinking my ritual coffee, and enjoying the sights. I envisioned a day where rushing wasn’t part of the schedule. In Alaska, life is calm, as if the environment commanded it to be. While the typical Alaskan individual works to make a living, there seems to be an ease that is indigenous to them. A New Yorker needs to be fast-paced in order to stay in the game called life. It would be nice to slow down once in a while. While a destination is the sole reason for a journey, why don’t we appreciate the road taken? Can’t we enjoy life for just a moment? We might miss out if we don’t look up and face the world.

After returning to my home turf, it’s hard to conjure up the same tranquility I experienced in Alaska. However, maybe I can take some of what I experienced and give back to my hometown. We should all try and enjoy the nature and beauty around us. G-d has given us a precious gift that we all need to appreciate. People have their eyes open, yet aren’t really looking. We need to stop and realize where we’re going. Is this the path we want to go? Are we haphazardly making our way to a place we’re not happy in? If we pause for just a moment, we may reroute ourselves to a place that may be greener on the other side and the journey is just as fulfilling as the destination.

Melissa Papir

A Mother’s Prayer

Friday, September 7th, 2012

You brightened my life when you entered my world
My child, my treasure, my glittering pearl.
I held you and rocked you, safe in my arms
Dreaming I’d keep you safe from all harm.

I watched you and tended your needs day and night
Never letting you out of my sight,
You grew and you played, alive and carefree
Embracing each miracle your eyes did see.

Laughing and loving, you crawled, stood, and walked
Stringing words into sentences, you learned how to talk,
My child forever, our bond is so close
Yet somehow that chest of memoirs has been closed.

Now autumn leaves of crimson and gold
Whisper a story as yet untold,
It is time for you to leave my cocoon
To learn to sing a different tune.

I see your eyes shining, mirroring high hopes
Your first day of school, of climbing new slopes,
Crisply dressed, you wait near the door
I feel a prayer flutter- what lies in store?
Will the teacher be gentle, nurturing and kind?
Will s\he listen when something weighs on your mind?
Will the teacher help you create and expand?
Or will s\he be harsh and insist on demands?

Will your spirit be prodded to grow and climb higher?
Will your heart swell and feel inspired?
And the children, your peers, will they be warm and inviting?
Will they use manners sadistic and biting?
Will your smile grow wide in a circle of friends?
Or will your heart shatter, its fabric rent?

A flower needs sunlight and warmth to grow
Not winter winds to cast it down low,
And you, my child, how will you act?
Will you always speak with kindness and tact?
Do you know that with each day’s gift comes a test
And Hashem wants to see that you do your best?

Will you remember the lessons I taught you at home?
The lessons I taught you as you have grown?
Will you respect a teacher if you disagree?
Obey if your heart calls out differently?
Will you lend a hand to someone in need?
No matter the person’s background or creed?
When someone insults you, makes you feel down
Will you judge them with favor and not rebound?
Will you have the strength to leave the crowd
If they want to do something that’s not allowed?
If you do poorly on one of your tests
Will you try again with courage and zest?

As you stand, my child, and wait near my door
My heart is aflutter, what lies in store?
I wish you a year filled with success
A year where your every effort is blessed
I wish you moments and days filled with light
Brimming with joy and sunshine so bright.

May your mind learn Torah and follow its ways
May your lips whisper prayers as you walk through your days
May your hands reach out to others in need
Helping them with warm words or by deed
May you know your talents so you can achieve
Spread your wings and fly – believe!

As part of my heart cries, “Please don’t go”
The other rejoices to see you grow
Remember I’m here for you as I was then
To listen, to soothe again and again
I will wait for you when you get home
I am your mother- you are never alone.

May Hashem be your guide as you journey forward
Wide-eyed with wonder, sailing new waters.
My heart throbs in prayer with words unspoken
Hoping that you’ll be molded, not broken.
My lips graze your cheek on this, your first day
I watch you leave and continue to pray.
I will wait near the door, my precious child
Feeling some tears, yet also a smile,
Hoping and dreaming as you live and learn
May Hashem bless you, for that my heart yearns.

R. Stein

A Journey of a Thousand Steps

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/a-journey-of-thousand-steps.html

I sometimes surprise myself with the titles I come up with – this is one of those. I read an article today. My emotions went up and down as I read it, ending with the thought that the man in the story was about to embark on a journey of a thousand steps and that somewhere along that journey, his grandparents would smile.

Szegedi Csanad is a Hungarian politician. He is about 30 years old. He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament as part of the Jobbik party. One of Csanad’s fellow members posted an article that said, “Given our current situation, anti-Semitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews.” Jobbik calls itself a “radical nationalism” party – more easily identified as fascists or perhaps neo-Nazis.

And quietly,  Csanad got the shock of a lifetime when he found out, about 7 months ago, that his grandparents were Orthodox Jews but chose to hide their religion. It is understandable – to some extent. They were Holocaust survivors – his grandmother was in Auschwitz…as was my husband’s grandmother. My  husband’s parents survived; though they returned to their tiny villages in Hungary as orphans. Their parents, uncles and aunts, even some of their brothers and sisters had been murdered. All they and their remaining siblings wanted was to leave Europe and get as far away as possible. They tried for Australia, Palestine, the United States – anything that would get them out.

The first visas they got for the whole group were to the US and so they went. They stayed observant Jews and raised their children that way. It was a matter of faith and yes, there was pride in it as well. Csanad’s grandparents chose a different path. I can’t judge them; I can only wonder how they would feel (if they are still alive) or how they might have felt to know that their grandson had become one with the ideology that almost cost them their lives.

And then, Csanad found out – a basic truth. His grandmother and grandfather were Jews. Judaism is passed down in the womb – from mother to child. Csanad’s grandmother gave birth to a Jewish child – a girl. That girl was Jewish, is Jewish. She is a software engineer in Hungary, and her son, Szegedi is Jewish.

Csanad has resigned from Jobbik, though he has requested to keep his position in the European Parliament. And, he has chosen to meet with an Orthodox rabbi, to begin what I believe will be a journey of a thousand steps. I have to believe that somewhere in this world or in the next, his grandparents are watching. Generations of Jews behind them. Perhaps they are not smiling, but I have to believe the weight of the world has been taken off their shoulders and their hearts.

A Soldier's Mother

July 19, 2012 – An Open Letter To Anyone Who Cares

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

A couple of years ago The Jewish Press published a letter I wrote about how people treat “kids/teens off the derech.” I wrote about my daughter who had totally left religion and how I felt people could make a difference in these children’s lives; they either inspire them or turn them off. The response to my letter was overwhelming. People contacted me wanting to help and others wrote about their children in similar situations.

I want to follow up and let you know that Hashem has been good to my family. Today, my daughter is extremely frum, married to a guy who also had his “journey” and they are leading a pure Torah life. On her journey home, she worked with girls going through their own struggles and was able to inspire them because she had been one of them – and this gave them hope.

So yes, Baruch Hashem my daughter has changed, but unfortunately not everything has. Why are there still so many people who look down on these kids if they are not dressed the same way they are? Is it really better to be dressed in a tzniut fashion but to speak loshon hara about others and be mean? Does having your legs and arms covered really make you a better Jew and a better person? Does it give you the green light to judge someone and act like you are above him or her? This is not what real tzniut and a true Torah life is about.

If you want to help bring these kids back to yiddishkeit and inspire them to love our way of life, then you need to act towards them with love and compassion and be a good role model. Being judgmental and snobby isn’t going to do it; it will just turn them off more.

People need to wake up because everyday there are more kids turning away – and so many of them are acting in self-destructive ways. My daughter’s journey was seven years long – and things are worse today in our community than when it began. We need ahavat chinam for these kids too in order to bring Moshiach.

Beth
changeofftoon@gmail.com

Jewish Press Staff

Don’t Confuse Torah with Buddhism, My Friends

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

This blog should be a permanent post on the homepage of The Jewish Press, and people should read it every day to remind themselves who they really are as Jews and what real Judaism is all about.

Don’t try to brush it off by saying, “What does Fishman know – a former screenwriter from Hollywood?”

Get ready to hear the Torah explained by the greatest Torah teacher of them all – Moshe Rabeinu, as we begin his review of the Torah in the Book of Devarim.

As we approach Tisha B’Av, it is indeed a fitting time to take a new/old look at the Torah and at its eternal truths, which are as true for our time as they were in the times of Moshe Rabeinu. That’s one of the basic principles of the Torah – it doesn’t change.

Sometimes people ask me. “Why do you waste your time trying to teach Diaspora Jews, over and over again, that the Torah is meant to be kept in the Land of Israel, rather than in Brooklyn, Boca, or Beverly Hills?”

The answer is because I love them. When you love somebody, you want the best for them. Even if you saw a total stranger about to fall off a cliff, you’d scream out to warn him – all the more so regarding someone you love.

Now, there are those who say, “What do you mean ‘fall off a cliff?’ Jewish life is great here in Brooklyn and Boca!”

It may seem great to them now, but at the end of their wonderful 120 years in Brooklyn and Boca, when they get to the gates of the real Gan Eden, they are going to be surprised to learn that they have to return back to Earth and live life all over again until they finish their tikun. It won’t help them if they’ve learned the whole Talmud ten times over. They’ll have to go back for another reincarnation. Why? Because they, we, the whole Nation of Israel, were thrown into exile because we transgressed the Torah when we lived in the Holy Land long ago. So our rectification, atonement, and tikun is to return to the Land of Israel and keep the Torah, there, in the Land of Israel, the way it was meant to be kept. Souls are reincarnated over and over again until they get things straight. The lucky ones, that is. For those who aren’t giving the chance, when the Resurrection of the Dead comes around, their bodies will have to roll all the painful way through underground tunnels from their Diaspora graveyards to the Holy Land, because, as the Zohar explains, the Resurrection of the Dead only takes place in Israel.

As we mentioned in a previous blog, our Sages inform us that the roots for the Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem were planted long before the Destruction itself, on the night the Spies in the Wilderness returned from their ill-fated mission and convinced the Jewish People not to journey on to live in the Promised Land. That night was the 9th of Av. Their rejection of the Land of Israel was the rotten foundation which brought about our later National Destruction as an independent Nation in our own Land.

Afterwards, stripped of our own Jewish Land and Israeli Nationhood, we became minorities in foreign lands. Up until the Destruction, the religion of the Jewish People was the Torah, a combination of Divine laws and commandments that covered our individuals lives and the life of the Jewish Nation, laws concerning the king, the Sanhedrin, the army of Israel, the Beit HaMikdash, national sacrifices, and the agricultural laws unique to The Holy Land. But when we were cast out of our Land, the Torah lost its earthy component, and our physical Nationhood ceased. Instead of being the Divine Constitution of our Nation, the Torah was reduced to moral teachings and a handful of individual commandments, like the bones of a large salmon at the end of the Shabbos morning Kiddush. That’s when “Judaism” started. Stripped of our own Land, and Israelite monarchy, our own Jewish Nationhood was lost. Exiled in other peoples’ countries, we were left with the few ritual precepts that we could still perform, like putting on tefillin, keeping kosher, learning Torah, and observing the Sabbath. Instead of being our National Constitution, the Torah was truncated into being just a religion without its many fundamental National, Political, and Geopgraphic obligations and demands.

Tzvi Fishman

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Five: A Husband For Ruchel

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The next morning, Hevedke was waiting out on the road when Tevye and his Zionist entourage took up their journey. The two men stared at one another in silence.

“He has more guts than I thought,” Tevye brooded, giving the reins of the wagon a whip.

Hava was hoping that her father would give Hevedke a chance to prove his sincerity, but there was no sign of conciliation in her father’s angry expression. Hava herself was confused. Her heart was torn between a man she still loved, and the realization that the bond between them could never be sanctified as long as he belonged to the tormentors of her people. It wasn’t enough that Hevedke was ashamed of the evil decrees of the Czar. Unless he tore up all ties to his religion and his past, he would always remain one of them. Even if he were to fast a hundred days to prove his love for Hava, that would not be enough. Hava knew that he loved her. He had to prove he loved God by taking on the yoke of her people. Though Hava felt compassion and pity for Hevedke, she didn’t plead with her father to accept him into the fold. If she had listened to her parents in the first place, the whole painful situation would never have occurred. Now she wanted to make amends for the breach she had rent in the family. She wanted to be faithful to her father. She wanted to show her mother in Heaven that she was sorry for the pain she had caused. So sitting beside her father as their wagon drove down the road, Hava fought off her desire to gaze at the man she had lived with only a short time before. She stared forward at the future as if Hevedke did not exist, as if they had never crossed paths, trusting that one way or the other, God would restore peace to her torn, aching heart.

That evening they reached the Jewish shtetl of Branosk. The ultra-religious community was smaller than the Jewish community of Anatevka, but the sights, sounds, and smells were the same. The same wooden porches, tiled roofs, and shutters. The same sagging, weathered barns which stood erect by a miracle. The same aroma of horses, chickens, and soups. The same beards and black skullcaps on the men, and kerchiefs and shawls on the women. Even the fiery red sunset had been stolen from Anatevka and pasted over the Branosk forest.

The villagers rushed out of their houses when they heard that pioneers on the way to the Promised Land had arrived in the shtetl. Children and teenagers crowded around Tevye’s wagon. They all wore the caps and long curling peyes sidelocks which distinguished the Branosk community. Apparently, they had seen other Zionists, but the sight of Tevye, a bearded, God fearing Jew among them, was a novelty to be sure. Ben Zion jumped up on a porch and tried to deliver a spirited harangue, inviting the townspeople to throw off the yoke of the Russians and join them in rebuilding the ancient Jewish homeland, but he only drew heckles and a rotten tomato. Tevye and his daughters attracted a far larger crowd.

Where was he going, they wanted to know? To Eretz Yisrael, he answered, the Land of Israel. With the heretics, they asked? Tevye said that by accident they were traveling together, for safety along the way. But, Tevye assured them, his family was headed for a settlement more religious than the city of Vilna – in God’s Chosen Land. What could be better than that? For hadn’t they heard? The great Baron Rothschild, may he live several lifetimes, was building “frum,” God fearing communities throughout the Holy Land. Everyone who came got a villa and acres of orchards bursting with olives, pomegranates, fig trees, and dates.

People bombarded Tevye with questions. He answered with authority, as if he truly knew, as if he were the Baron’s agent, auctioning off parcels of land. When a question came his way for which he did not have an answer, he responded with a verse or two of Torah. One thing was clear – the expulsion which had hit Anatevka was sure to reach Branosk. Surely they had heard that the Czar’s Cossacks had been thundering throughout Russia, slaughtering thousands of Jews. Now was the time to flee for their lives. Now was the time to stop praying for God to take them to Zion, and let their feet do the talking instead.

Tzvi Fishman

Today’s Exodus

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

If you believe, as I do, that nothing is a coincidence, then today’s events will come as no surprise. On November 9th, 1938, the Germans launched a wave of anti-Semitic attacks against its Jews. It was not the first and certainly not the last, but it represented that critical moment when Hitler’s plan could no longer be denied.

Jewish businesses were attacked and set on fire; books were burned and worst of all, of course, was the murder of at least 91 Jews. And just nine years later, on November 9th, 1947, the Hagannah, the predecessors of today’s Israeli army, bought a ship called the President Warfield.

The President Warfield was refitted and renamed and given a purpose. The new name was the SS Exodus and the purpose was to carry 4,515 Jews, mostly survivors of the Holocaust to the land of Israel. Israel at that time was called Palestine and the British, hoping to maintain some sort of balance between a promise they made in 1917 and another promise they made later; a compromise between giving the land to the Jews and giving it to the Arabs.

Their response was the White Paper, a document and a practice that involved blocking entry to Jews. Perhaps the Hagannah knew that war was inevitable; that the Arabs would not accept a Jewish presence in Palestine. Perhaps they knew. But without question, what was clear in those days was that the Jews needed a home, the only home they had ever known – the land of Israel.

The SS Exodus set sail on July 11, 1947 – almost 65 years ago to the day. From the start, they knew they were on a collision course with the British army and new it was a battle that they could not win. The trip was to have taken 2 weeks. Several babies were born during the short voyage. One woman…Paula…and isn’t that another coincidence (Paula Abramowitz) died in childbirth, her infant son died a few weeks later in Haifa. Three people – a crew member and two passengers, were killed by the British when they fired on the ship.

The British refused to allow the passengers entry to Palestine; ultimately forcing the ship to France. The passengers refused to disembark in France, demanding they be taken back to Palestine. The British decided, in an irony that still stabs me in the heart, that the only place to take the Jewish passengers – was to Germany. Even a British diplomat was smart enough to realize the idiocy of this decision as he wrote to his superiors:

You will realize that an announcement of decision to send immigrants back to Germany will produce violent hostile outburst in the press. The pros and cons of keeping the Exodus immigrants in camps … there is one point that should be kept in mind. Our opponents in France, and I dare say in other countries, have made great play with the fact that these immigrants were being kept behind barbed wire, in concentration camps and guarded by Germans.

If we decide it is convenient not to keep them in camps any longer, I suggest that we should make some play that we are releasing them from all restraint of this kind in accordance with their wishes and that they were only put in such accommodation for the preliminary necessities of screening and maintenance.

The legacy of the Exodus, captured by Leon Uris in his book, changed many lives – including my own. The stand taken aboard the Exodus was a response to a world that didn’t even realize a question had been asked; it was a demand, to a world that had forgotten Jews had a right to demand.

Decades after the ship was sent back to Germany, I read the story and it changed my life. It sent me on a journey to learn about Israel, about the Holocaust, about my people’s history, and ultimately, about myself and my place in this world. It was the first time I learned that such a people existed – beaten and humiliated, starved and persecuted – these people crossed a continent and let nothing stop them to come and help build the land of their forefathers. These survivors came here to make their stand, to tell the world that there was simply no other place for a Jew, here, in Israel. Suddenly, I was not just a Jew, but I was a member of a people more brave, more resilient, more determined, more honorable than any other. The meaning of being a Jew changed when I was able to understand that our legacy comes as much from what we lost in the Holocaust as from what we built of ourselves after it.

Paula R. Stern

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/todays-exodus/2012/07/12/

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