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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Jews Who Can’t Speak Hebrew

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Jewish Identity Quiz #2

אמרנו בעבר שכל ילד פורטוריקני בארה”ב יודע לדבר ספרדית בנוסף לאנגלית אף על פי שלא נולד בפורטוריקו. גם כל ילד סיני או קוראני באמריקה יודע לדבר בשפת אבותיו. רק היהודים לא דוברים בשפתם המקורית. אינני יודע למה. כנראה יש סיבה פסיכולוגית עמוקה מאד. אם לאחד ממכם יש את התשובה אשמח לשמוע.

Did you have trouble reading the Hebrew? That’s exactly my point. Some readers say that I’m a crazy fanatic when I say that Diaspora Jews suffer from schizophrenia when it comes to their Jewish identity. For example, even though they are Jewish, many don’t know more than a few simple words in Hebrew. After all, Hebrew is the language of the Jewish People, not English, or German, or Russian, or Yiddish.

Let me ask you, how many Puerto Ricans kids in New York don’t know how to speak Spanish? And look at the Koreans and Chinese in America. All of their kids speak Korean and Chinese as if they were still in Korea and China. And what Moslem kid in America, France, or England doesn’t know how to speak Arabic from the crib? But when it comes to Diaspora Jews, most of their kids hardly know any Hebrew at all. I know this, because we host a lot of Birthright youth at our home in Yerushalayim for Shabbat meals, and almost none of them know Hebrew at all! They are bright, university students, but when it comes to a knowledge of Hebrew, Yiddishkeit, Jewish history, or what’s going on in Israel, they are complete ignoramuses. Totally empty! Isn’t this strange? How can you explain this?

Certainly, Jewish kids aren’t less intelligent than Puerto Ricans and Arabs who have no trouble learning their own languages. Could it be that Diaspora Jews feel so compelled to prove that they are just like their gentile neighbors that they don’t learn Hebrew? Could it be that they are so afraid to have dual identities that they don’t want to learn a strange tongue? Or is it because they have been so long in exile that they don’t see any reason to learn the language of their Forefathers and pass it on to their children for the generations to come?

No wonder assimilation is such a great problem! First you give up wearing Israeli sandals, then you give up eating falafel, then you stop teaching your children Hebrew and tell them that they are Americans like everyone else – and then you’re surprised when Johnny comes home with a Protestant girl for Thanksgiving vacation. It’s as simple as one plus one equals two.

If a child speaks in English, he’ll grow up thinking that he’s English. If he speaks in French, he’ll grow up thinking that he’s French. So why not marry a French girl like everyone else? That’s why Rashi writes that a parent who doesn’t speak in the Holy Tongue to his children is considered as if he is burying them, G-d forbid (Devarim, 11:19). He buries them in a foreign culture which waters down, or cuts them off completely from Torah and their true Jewish roots.

In Israel, thank G-d, all of the children speak Hebrew. Even kids of the Olim, who insist on speaking Diaspora languages at home, learn to speak fluent Hebrew at school. And while there are readers who always cry out that Israelis marry Arabs – the truth is that it isn’t even one percent of the population, compared with the 60%+ assimilation in America and most every other place in the world.

You can get angry at me if you like and continue to keep your heads in the sand. But the writing on the wall is clear. The Diaspora is on the way out. The only future for our children is Israel.

Tzvi Fishman

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Teaching Children Good Nutrition is No Picnic

Dear Rachel,

The column titled Sweets to the Sweet in the Erev Sukkos issue of The Jewish Press garnered much attention in our family over Yom Tov. Our own children’s bubby, who happens to promote healthy eating by not stocking up on candy when her grandchildren visit, could not relate to the problem as described by A Concerned Bubby.

Not to worry; I set my mother-in-law straight in no time. She had no idea that rebbes in our boys’ cheder are in the habit of rewarding their young talmidim with endless nosh. A Siyum, for instance, gets each of the boys a shopping bag full, while great class performance earns the “lucky” student a large size bottle of soda. (The rebbe may have had himself in mind when my seven year old once came home with a 2-liter bottle of diet soda, no less.)

As a mother who makes every effort to feed her family wholesome nutritious food, I am appalled by all of this unhealthy indulgence. On top of that, I also have to deal with my children’s foot-stomping disappointment when I insist on pouring more than half of the soda down the drain.

One of my young sons – fearing that I would confiscate the bulk and deprive him of his well-deserved “treats” – thought he’d be wise to consume the contents of his Siyum bag on his commute home from yeshiva. The tummy-ache he endured for agonizing hours that night was no picnic for either of us.

Don’t even try to suggest that mothers band together to protest the school’s lack of judgment and lackadaisical attitude in this area. I’ve tried, to no avail; most moms simply can’t be bothered. If you’d observe them as I do on my weekly shopping excursion in our local supermarket, you’d understand. I’ve seen women shoppers scooping up the unhealthiest snack bags by the armful, loading their shopping carts to the hilt with this MSG laced garbage. I guess they (the snack bags) work to keep the kids at bay when mommy is tied up with baby or some other of her multiple chores.

Grown-ups should know better

Dear Rachel,

The letter from A Concerned Bubby was pretty horrifying. I can’t believe in this day and age there are camps that allow parents to send chazerai to camp, or that there are parents that would do it. Makes you wonder what other health matters they are lax in when they’re allowing this.

For the past ten years my son has been involved with Camp Nesher, a Modern Orthodox camp in Pennsylvania that is affiliated with the New Jersey Y camps. He was a camper for eight years and has spent the past two summers as a counselor. Camp Nesher has a very strict policy vis-à-vis packages. There is ONE accepted hashgacha for camp packages, a company called SWAK. They send packages of varying price ranges that contain everything BUT food – puzzles, games, pillows, etc.

In fact, Camp Nesher has a strict “no food in bunks” policy, which I commend them for. Not only don’t the kids need to spend their summers eating junk, having food in the bunk is an invitation to all sorts of unwelcome wildlife. If a camper receives a package from a source other than SWAK, they must open it in the camp office. Food items are removed before the camper is allowed to take the package back to their bunk.

I suggest that all parents inquire as to the policies of the camp to which they are considering sending their children. We all try to maintain healthy eating habits during the school year and need to make sure that vacation time doesn’t undo the good habits of the previous ten months.

Good moms make wise choices

Dear Rachel,

As if to validate your reply to A Concerned Bubby, our kitchen table on Simchas Torah became a colorful display of show and tell as my grandchildren unloaded the vast supply of goodies they brought home with them from shul. And to my chagrin but no surprise, the kids hardly touched any real food at the dining room table.

Oh, we did our best to stop them from unwrapping their sugar treats and noshing away, but they had apparently already done enough of that in the preceding hours to kill their appetite for dinner.

Rachel

‘Setting Limits’

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

“Isn’t it ironic that kids whose parents fail to set and enforce limits feel unloved and angry? Although they tend to test and protest, we have learned over and over again that limits are what kids really want. Invariably, when we talk with out-of-control teenagers or adults who were juvenile delinquents and lucky enough to survive, we ask them, ‘If you could go back to when you were a child, what would you change?’ Most of them say something like, ‘I wish my parents had reeled me in when I was a kid. Why didn’t they make me behave?’

“A counselor we know sat down with a teenager we know who led a pretty rough life. She had been promiscuous… and was in trouble with the law. She went on to describe how she had smoked pot and guzzled beer with her dad as a ten-year old. When the counselor asked her what she thought about it, her eyes lit up with rage and she said, ‘I hate him!’ Surprised, the counselor said, ‘You had so much freedom. Why do you hate your father?’ Even more surprised, the teen responded, ‘I hate him ‘cause he let me do anything I wanted. He never made me behave. Look at me now!’

“If you want your children to have internal controls and inner freedom, you must first provide them with external controls. A child who is given boundaries, and choices within those boundaries, is actually freer to be creative, inventive, active, and insightful. How you expose your kids to the life around them – how you encourage them to use their creativity within limits, by using yours – is key to developing their personal identity and freedom. Setting limits does not discourage inventiveness. The world is full of limits within which we must all live. Give your children a gift. Teach them how to be creative within these limits.” (Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood, by Jim Fay & Charles Fay)

“In the beginning of G-d’s creating…G-d saw that the light was good…And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

“…And the earth brought forth vegetation… And G-d saw that it was good… And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

“…Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the heaven… And G-d saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

“…Let the waters teem with living creatures, and fowl that fly… And G-d saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

“…Let the earth bring forth living creatures…And G-d saw that it was good…Let us make man…And G-d saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.”

The Medrash in Bereishis Rabba (9:6) discusses the difference between what the Torah deems “good” (throughout the six days of creation) and what the Torah deems “very good” (after the creation of man). The Medrash offers a few explanations: “Very good” refers to sleep, because when one sleeps a little he is able to toil exceedingly in Torah study. “Good” refers to when things are going well; “very good” refers to affliction. “Good” refers to the Garden of Eden; “very good” refers to purgatory. “Good” refers to the Angel of Life; “very good” refers to the Angel of Death.”

This Medrash is unquestionably enigmatic and perplexing. How can all of the pleasantries of life be referred to as “good” while all of the dreaded facets of life be referred to as “very good”?

The idea that this Medrash is espousing contains the basis for the implosion and unraveling of Western Society that we are privy to. When a society does not know how to set limits and “Just Say No” then it is doomed to disaster and destruction. The mighty empire of Rome, which ruled the ancient world for centuries, eventually succumbed not so much to external forces as it did to internal hedonism. The insatiable drive for narcissistic gratification and indulgence destroyed the fabric of its society until it was no longer able to maintain itself. The surrounding invading forces were simply the final blow to an already decrepit society.

Rabbi Dani Staum

How Schools Prepare Kids to Fail in Business

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Schools waste kids’ time by teaching them the wrong math.

Since half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in savings, it appears that maybe they’re not too good at handling money. The educational system seems to be failing in teaching practical financial skills to students. Kids aren’t learning math and money skills that they can apply to everyday life.

Schools seem to favor theoretical math over basic “practical math.” If useful math and money skills were taught in middle school and high school, students would enter the real world equipped to earn and manage their own money. Instead, the education system focuses on esoteric topics that help make future mathematicians and scientists. But how many children grow up and use calculus on a regular basis, compared to those who must balance a checkbook?

Which helps you more in life: knowing how to solve a quadratic equation or understanding how actuaries calculate your pension payments?

My high school math classes included in-depth study of calculus, trigonometry, geometry, and such. As a 20-year veteran on Wall Street, I will admit that other than helping my kids with their homework, I haven’t used any of those disciplines in handling my clients’ money.

Those in favor of keeping the current math curriculum argue that learning complex mathematics helps develop the skills of critical thinking. I agree. But there are plenty of demanding math techniques that also have practical applications. Why not teach those first?

For example, teach the kids ratios, standard deviation, statistics and probability, sampling and estimation, correlation analysis and regression, technical and fundamental analysis of businesses. Wouldn’t studying these before studying the more obscure number topics also help develop the skills of “critical thinking?”

Math has practical applications

Imagine if children learned math that helped them when they went to work. Since about 100% of high-school graduates will eventually hold a job compared to the 1% or so who will use calculus in their careers, shouldn’t schools teach practical topics? Wouldn’t it be helpful to learn the math and concepts behind market forces of supply and demand, gross national product, interest rates, business cycles, inflation, cash flows, and, of course, investments?

As a financial adviser, I talk with thousands of people about their money and through my online school, I teach the basics of investing. It’s surprising to me when folks have credit card debt, yet cannot calculate the interest that they will owe on it. Or, I’ll talk to them about a price/earnings ratio, which is the first number that people look at when checking out a stock, but the clients don’t get the concept of how a ratio works and I have to explain it.

Shouldn’t the next generation of children enter the workforce knowing how to read their brokerage statements and understand them?

I am a big believer in math. I studied many complex topics in college, and I think others should, too. But first teach kids practical math in school, and then if they decide to study further, only then start with the abstruse topics.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

All’s Well That Ends Well

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

On August 29, 2011, I took my three kids to a New York Mets baseball game and was sitting in the front row. During the last inning, my 12-year-old son Eliezer was hit in the face by a line drive (the clip is on YouTube, “Baseball hits boy, Mets-Marlins”). He was rushed to the hospital and received eight stitches; he was discharged the next day.

A few days later he started throwing up blood and was rushed by Hatzolah to Long Island Jewish Hospital. They told me he had a fracture in his skull and would need a craniotomy that would be scheduled for Tuesday, because of the Labor Day weekend. My father-in-law called all the yeshivot and shuls and, thanks to their tefillot, we were told on Monday morning that the doctor reviewed the CT-scan and was going to hold off on performing surgery.

They discharged Eliezer again and, to our horror, Hatzolah took him back to the hospital that same night. Due to his internal bleeding, he lost half his blood and needed two blood transfusions.

He had surgery on his nose, which stopped the bleeding. He is, Baruch Hashem, back to good health now. I wish to thank Chai Lifeline for their amazing support and help – and all of you for your prayers.

Valerie Shalomoff

Preparation is Key to a Successful Shabbat

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

“It is a Sabbath of Sabbaths for you, and you shall afflict yourselves, It is an eternal statute” (Vayikra 16:31).

This is how our Torah sums up the upcoming experience of Yom Kippur: a Sabbath of all Sabbaths. Rather than use the more colloquially known “Yom HaKippurim,” The Day of Atonementthe Torah reading of Yom Kippur morning uses the above term to summarize the twenty-five hour experience we are about to step into.

This once-a-year “Sabbath of Sabbaths” is not alone; our weekly Shabbat is coined a “Sabbath of Sabbaths” as well (see  Shemot 31:15, 35:2, Vayikra 3:3).  However, there are many distinctions between our weekly Shabbat versus the “once a year Shabbat,” ones that make it highly doubtful that any of us would   naturally state that Yom Kippur is just another Shabbat. After all, the tenth day of Tishrei is devoted to fasting in place of the three obligatory Shabbat meals, praying almost all day in place of far more free time, and abstaining from other prohibitions that are totally permissible on Shabbat. Alas, if G-d decided to coin the same phrase for both, it’s incumbent upon us to try and seek the similarities between these two elevated days in our calendar.  Allow me to extrapolate but one that the former clearly possesses, to which the latter, in my opinion, has not been properly privileged: preparation.

There isn’t a Rabbi or Teacher that preached during the past few weeks, and didn’t state, in some way or another, how vital it is to “prepare” for the Days of Judgment. Teshuva, introspection and other such terms were surely refrains in any sermon or class, imploring us not to “stumble into” Yom Kippur without the proper period of preparation.

And indeed, preparation seems to be exactly what is on the menu at this time of the year. Jews of Sephardic decent began to recite Selichot  prayers forty days before Yom Kippur (Code of Jewish Law, OC 581:1,). Ashkenazic Jewa began Selichot at least fourdays before Rosh Hashana (Rama’s glosses, ibid), allowing at least four days of “inspection” of oneself, as one would inspect a sacrifice for blemishes prior it’s offering (Mishna-Berura, ibid, 6). As we draw closer to Yom Kippur, preparations increase greatly, as articulated beautifully by Rav Solovetchik:

“I remember how difficult it was to go to sleep on Erev Yom Kippur. The shochet (ritual slaughterer) used to come at the break of dawn to provide chickens for the Kaparos ritual, and later the people would give charity…Minchah, vidui, the final meal before the fast (seudah hamafsekes), my grandfather’s preparations all made Erev Yom Kippur a special entity, not only halakhic, but emotional and religious as well.

Erev Yom Kippur constitutes the herald that the Ribono Shel Olam is coming…  (A. Lustiger, Before Hashem, page 60-61).

If all the above preparations are so vital for the “Shabbat” of Yom Kippur, are they not critical also for the weekly “Shabbat?” If both are called “Shabbat of Shabbats,” why should just one require preparation, while we stumble into the other with none?

Indeed, it’s known that “One that was busy preparing on the eve of Shabbat will eat on Shabbat, and one that didn’t prepare will not eat on Shabbat (Tractate Avoda Zara 3a). While this seems like good advice rather than a rabbinical edict (i.e., the prohibition of cooking would prevent one who didn’t pre-prepare food from eating on Shabbat), this is not the only statement that speaks of preparing for the Shabbat. Just as the Code of Jewish Law deals extensively with the Laws of Shabbat, there are endless chapters dealing with the Eve of Shabbat (OC, chapters 249-252, 256 & 270), from what should be done in honor of Shabbat, to what one should refrain from due to the oncoming holiness of the day.

The list goes on and the idea is clear: we are about to enter a twenty-five hour period of time with just family, friends and G-d, without distractions of the email, phone, work and more. If we want to have a profound “Shabbat” experience, it is vital that we prepare for it prior to its commencement.

It is uncanny for any event to turn out successfully without months of preparation,  Thus too, our weekly Shabbat-event, even while refraining from the thirty-nine prohibitions, and making Kiddush, can easily turn into a wasted experience, or G-d forbid, a disastrous one, if not properly prepared for. Thus lamented Rav Solovetchik:

True, there are Jews in America who observe the Sabbath. The label ‘Sabbath observer’ has come to be used as a title of honor in our circles…But, it is not for the Sabbath that my heart aches, it is for the forgotten ‘eve of the Sabbat’ There are Sabbath-observing Jews in America, but there are not ‘eve-of-the-Sabbath’ Jews who go out to greet the Sabbath with beating hearts and pulsating souls… (Pinchas Peli, On Repentance).

And indeed, even if you buy “ready-made” Shabbat food, pay someone to clean your house, and even have someone else bathe your kids, much spiritual and mental preparation is needed for Shabbat to become a true experience; Have you put thought into what will be the topic of discussion at the Shabbat table? Have your kids prepared a Dvar-Torah to share? Which games will you play with your kids over Shabbat? How will you balance your time between your guests and friend, and the time with your husband/wife and kids? Is there inspiring reading material in the house? How will this Shabbat be different from all others?

Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein

Healthy Family-Friendly Meals

Friday, September 7th, 2012

How often does your family ask you: “What’s for dinner?” Here are some great ideas for traditional family favorites simply with a healthy makeover. Instead of being a short-order cook, follow these guidelines to help you prepare nutritious, delicious dinners everyone will enjoy.

Macaroni and cheese: Every kid and adult can appreciate a comforting bowl of macaroni and cheese. To make a healthier version, use whole-wheat macaroni instead of traditional white-flour noodles. Avoid packaged cheese sauces; you can create your own using reduced-fat cheddar cheese, whole-wheat flour, and trans-fat-free margarine (vegetable-oil spread). To add color and fiber to the dish, include chopped veggies, such as broccoli, red bell peppers, and green beans.

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes: With a few substitutions, this homey favorite can be turned into a healthier dish. Choose lean ground beef or ground turkey breast and add fresh and/or dried herbs like parsley, chives, and basil to it. Serve the meatloaf with a mélange of sautéed veggies, like onions, bell peppers, and zucchini, along with a cauliflower mash instead of white mashed potatoes. You can also add whole-wheat bread crumbs to the meat or poultry mixture and serve with mashed sweet potatoes. I like to add wheat germ, rather than bread crumbs, with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal, into the mixture.

Burger and Fries: Give this favorite combo a healthy makeover by using lean ground sirloin, turkey breast, or chicken breast to create the burger. You can pass on the bun and serve the burger with celery or sweet potato fries baked in the oven, adding a dash of paprika or cayenne to boost flavor. I have used this substitute many times and, found my children did not miss the original! If you need the bun, try using a whole-wheat one, whole-wheat pita, or a whole-wheat English muffin.

Cheese Pizza: Hands down, pizza is the all-around family favorite. Instead of heading to your local pizzeria, though, prepare pizza at home using healthier ingredients. Choose a premade whole-wheat-flour crust, a whole-wheat tortilla, or whole-wheat pita instead of a traditional white-flour crust. The local supermarkets stock many Kosher varieties today. Top with no-sugar-added tomato sauce, shredded reduced-fat cheese, freshly cut veggies like red bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms, if desired. My vegetarian customers enjoy using a portobello mushroom cap as the “crust.”

TIP: When buying a larger package of shredded mozzarella, mix into it a tablespoon of cornstarch and store in a container in the freezer. You will have cheese to prepare an instant pizza whenever you want, since the cornstarch (which is tasteless), prevents the cheeses from sticking together! It will stay fresh for three months.

Four high-fiber breakfast kids will like

1. Sprinkle buttered whole-wheat bread with sugar and cinnamon.
2. Top a bowl of oatmeal with a piece of chocolate.
3. Combine their favorite sweetened sugar cereal with bran or other high-fiber cereal or flaxseed meal.
4. Instead of butter, spread a mashed avocado on toast.

Have children help you make a special cookie or snack recipe they can bring to school – it will encourage them to eat better. These snacks will arrive at their destination unbroken, intact, providing you store them in a small airtight, snack cup size container.

Mix and Match Energy Bars

Serves: 18

Ingredients

2 cups cereal, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup roasted unsalted nuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup dried fruit, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup second nut or fruit
1/3 cup brown sugar, sugar, honey, or Agave syrup
1/2 tsp salt 2 egg whites, large
1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract, optional

Instructions

Heat oven to 300°F.
Line 9″ x 9″ baking pan with foil.
Oil and flour the foil. (An 8″ x 8″ pan can be used. Just bake 5 to 10 additional minutes.)
Mix cereal, nuts, fruit, flour, and an extra, if using, in large bowl.
Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Whisk in egg whites and extract, if using. Pour mixture into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Pat into the prepared pan with moist hands or plastic wrap.
Bake until bars are dry to the touch, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on ingredients used. Cool completely.

Need a little inspiration? Try these tempting combos: Granola, cashews, strawberries, poppy seeds. Wheat flakes, pistachios, mangoes, wheat germ. Puffed rice, pistachios, pears, chocolate chips. Rice flakes, hazelnuts, figs, apricots. Wheat flakes, almonds, peaches, raisins. Granola, peanuts, raisins, chocolate chips.

Rochelle Rothman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/back-to-school/healthy-family-friendly-meals/2012/09/07/

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