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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Labor Day’

Chronicles of Crises In Our Communities – 9/25/09

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

The Forgotten Ones

Much has been said regarding the “shidduch crisis,” no doubt a very large issue in our community. If I may, I would like to present a most inspiring view of this “crisis” as I got to see it this past Shabbos.

I attended a Shabbaton this past Labor Day weekend that had a mix of singles in their late 20s/30s and approximately half were “mature adults” (in their 40s and 50s). I myself am in my mid-30s and date women in the 20-30s range.

What I saw and internalized was amazing. I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to have met with such beautiful individuals. Having interacted with men and women of all ages (that is how the program was set up), I now realize that I was in the presence of greatness.

We often think of a “holy” person as having a long, flowing white beard. This past Shabbos I witnessed first-hand the triumph of the spirit of so many holy (single) souls. The exposure was so profound that it still brings tears to my eyes. Reflecting upon my experience, I realize the valuable lesson therein for the Y’mei HaDin upon us.

I saw men and women, many past their prime, presenting themselves as best they could, in an effort to find their bashert. They reminded me of the soulful Chassidic stories of the seemingly simple water carrier or maid servant who were considered great and holy in the heavens, and, in fact, were very often the reason the entire populace was judged favorably on the Yom HaDin. The ones keeping us afloat were the very people that we would never have given a second glance.

These “mature singles” were people whose trials and travails were numerous, and yet they were doing their best to counter the past and to move forward.

I was touched by the sincerity of two attractive looking neshamos I struck up a conversation with. (They were clearly not in my age range.) During the course of our conversation, the revelation that they were direct descendants of the Baal HaTanya (the first Lubavitcher Rebbe) surfaced. I, as a direct descendant of the Baal HaTanya’s Master and Teacher, the Maggid of Mezritch, was drawn into a series of stories regarding the great Chassidic masters. I had to laugh to myself – never did I imagine that these people would be familiar with these stories, let alone offer me insights I had never before heard.

I was touched by a Yeshivish-looking fellow who came along a few moments later, it turns out he learned in Lakewood while Reb Shneiur Kotler, zt”l, was still alive. (I had seen him all Shabbos but did not think much of him, especially since we were on different sides of the room – I with the younger singles.) When he decided to chime in on our conversation, I was blown away.

He might not have realized that his white shirt was faded and looking more yellow than white, but his storytelling of gedolim, and in particular Rav Shach, zt”l, coupled with his simplicity and sincerity, was so wholesome that I considered being in his presence a privilege. He smiled the whole time and showed such a simchas ha’chayim (love of life) despite the hardships he is certain to have suffered.

I was touched by a fellow who spoke at Seudah Shlishis who is hard-of- hearing, and yet so audible. His words of Torah came from his soul and pierced ours. As it turns out, he and I went to Mirrer yeshiva, albeit he preceded me by 15 years. His stories of my principal, whom he credited with having left the greatest impression on him, brought back fond memories.

I was touched by the fellow who, divorced twice (having been married for over two decades), had the guts to sit at my table with the younger crowd, without scaring or “traumatizing” any of the ladies – who, in fact, drew others to him as he sang beautiful zemiros.

I was touched earlier in the day, when after Shacharis prayers I overheard some ladies sharing a sentiment – that as singles without family obligations, missing a Shabbos davening in shul would be missing an “opportunity” to grow (this despite the fact that women are clearly not obligated to daven with a minyan).

I was touched and inspired by yet another “mature” adult, one whom I’d not have credited with knowing the basic “aleph beis” – and yet who stated with conviction that the presence of a shiur/class in mishnayos locally was “a big pull and factor” in possibly moving to the area. Many singles at that stage, I thought to myself, have long given up on having a learning seder, and this was a ” big pull and factor ?” Wow!

There were others whom I regret not having had the chance to speak with.

What are we singles all searching and yearning for in our bashert? At the end of the day, we all seek a few moments of peace of mind. Our aim is to contemplate our surroundings and the Creator in all His glory, and to live a life of Torah and mitzvos. Well, I had the honor of spending a few fleeting moments with some of G-d’s holy and glorious children this past Shabbos, and the experience has given me a new set of lenses with which to view the colors of the spectrum.

It is often the small and seemingly insignificant among us in whose merit we keep going, even when we fail to realize it. Many times, it is the small and seemingly insignificant acts and occurrences that have the most meaning. So it is with the silent and the forgotten ones among us. They are the ones who keep their heads above water in turbulent times… the ones who keep smiling and laughing when they have no reason or strength to do so… the ones who manage to keep warm during the cold long years of singlehood. That is holiness; that is greatness.

With a new year upon us, we look for inspiration and for the opportunity to turn a new leaf and receive a second chance. Klal Yisroel is blessed to have these souls in their midst. Yes, we hope that they all find their respective zivugim very soon, but in the meanwhile, the lessons they teach by their perseverance is a valuable lesson for us all.

The spectrum of light in which I now see these “mature singles” is one of holiness and greatness – akin to the greatness of the simple wagon driver or water carrier in all the Chassidic tales that we have been weaned on.

We are blessed and should take stock of the chizuk and strength of these individuals – a lesson for our own lives. Many times the “mature” element of the greater “singles crisis” is forgotten and overlooked. They had their chance, we quietly mumble, and there is nothing we can offer them or glean from them. I respectfully disagree. We have an opportunity to learn from their level of mesiras nefesh and holiness.

I was touched and honored to have been given a glimpse of that strength and greatness, and I hope you will be, too, the next time you meet a “mature” single.

Kesivah V’Chasimah Tovah . . .

Yakov (Jacob) Hirsch Esq.

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We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

Manischewitz Promises A Passover With Tam Tams

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO – They’re baaack. Duly chastened by the Great Tam Tam Crisis of spring ’08, the Manischewitz Company went into overdrive and will have plenty of the crunchy six-sided unleavened crackers available this Passover season.

    ”Absolutely,” declared the company’s former CEO Bruce Bossidy last November.

Bossidy joined the country’s first and still largest matzah-making concern in January 2008 and spent much of the year bringing in new management and getting the new matzah production line up and running at the company’s year-old, $15 million facility in Newark, N.J.

But the clock ran down and early last year, Bossidy was forced to cancel Tam Tams for the first time in 68 years.

The outcry was immediate; Jewish consumers coast to coast mourned the absence of the beloved cracker. Stories ran not only in the Jewish media but The New York Times and New York Daily News, and on NPR. The blogosphere exploded with anger. A black market sprang up, with one Michigan rabbi offering three boxes of the previous year’s crackers on eBay; bidding started at $10.

This April, however, there will be more than enough to go around. All flavors of Passover Tam Tam crackers will be available except for Tiny Tams, which were not made because of complications with the die cut used to create them. Bossidy also promised a sufficient amount of Passover matzah; last year saw shortages of the unleavened holiday bread in the Northeast and along the West Coast during the eight-day holiday.

While Manischewitz makes an array of kosher products, it was founded in 1888 as the country’s first commercial matzah bakery and matzah remains central to its mission.

Like most kosher food manufacturers, Manischewitz’s busiest season is Passover. Fifty percent of its business involves kosher-for-Passover food, particularly matzah, which is an extremely labor-intensive product.

As one of two sacramental foods required at the seder table, along with wine, production is carefully controlled to ensure that water only comes into contact with the flour for less than 18 minutes. Longer than that and, according to rabbinic authorities, leavening begins.

In industrial production, a mashgiach, or kosher supervisor, must watch the flour from the time the wheat is milled until water is introduced to the flour during the mixing process. At that point the dough is given even closer supervision to make sure it is completely baked in less than 18 minutes.

Manischewitz begins making Passover matzah immediately after Labor Day and its manufacture continued until late February. During the five-month season, up to 20 mashgichim work on the product. This year for the first time the factory is using only kosher-for-Passover flour year-round, even for its daily matzah. Although the flour is more expensive to produce, it costs the company much less than shutting down the entire plant for four or five weeks every summer for re-kashering. Now the annual kashering takes about a week.

During the height of the Passover production season, one or two truckloads of flour arrive at the Manischewitz plant every day, about 500,000 pounds a week.

Nearly 76 million sheets of matzah are produced each year, enough to circle the globe if one wanted to waste perfectly good matzah in such a foolhardy way.  (JTA)

Think ‘Good’ And It Will Be Good!

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

(Written at the end of this past summer).


Tomorrow is the day after Labor Day.

We all know what that means.

It’s been looming large on our calendars for the last two months. Advertisements and flyer promotions have been announcing it for the last three weeks. “Back to School Signs” are all over the place, signaling the first day of school.

This day represents the end of long and lazy summer days, the end of time being our own and the beginning of a tight and rigid schedule to last throughout the next ten months.

I know that my children will not sleep much tonight. As early as I send them off to bed to try to get in a good night’s rest for the Big Day tomorrow, I know that they will remain awake, tossing and turning until finally a fitful sleep will mercifully overtake them. Their minds will be racing in nervous anticipation, just as mine did years ago before my own first day of the new school year. Those terrible tight knots in the pit of their stomachs are quite familiar to me.

Sure, excitement is part of their feelings. But mostly, they are feeling worried. Worried about how things will develop.

Will they have nice teachers? Will they be given too much homework? Will the social setting in their group change? Will their friends still be friendly after two months of being apart? Will the material from the new grade be difficult to learn? What extra-curricular activities will they be a part of? What can they do to make this year a better one?

These and a host of other questions will worry my children tonight, as they lie open-eyed in bed, worry robbing them of their much-needed sleep.

So, as my children are lying awake and worrying, I am thinking about worry.

I am thinking that it is very likely the worst possible emotion.

The only emotion even remotely as taxing is hopelessness. But while hopelessness is stressful, I think most of us can deal with it. When we realize that we are powerless to effect a situation, we surrender and submit to the fact that this is how it must be. And we adapt ourselves to our circumstances as best as we are able.

The problem arises however, when we have a gnawing doubt that maybe we can do something to alter the situation. That doubt can ravage us within, as our mind is in a quandary trying to determine our possible options. My children may be wondering and worrying what they can do to make a good impression on their teachers on the first day of school. Just notice, how carefully they select their blouses, socks and even the ribbons for their hair. Or how they choose their pencil cases and notebooks to impress their friends, lest their social status decrease without these efforts.

Worry.

Speak to your family or close friends. Let them unload and reveal their hidden skeletons. Ask them what troubles them most. Invariably, at least half the time it will be worrying over something that might happen.

Most of us can cope with our issues – even extremely difficult ones. But few of us can deal with the worry of the vast unknown. The “what might happen if…” creates turmoil within. And even when we are genuinely facing a difficult tribulation, what sends us over the abyss is often worrying about the challenge getting worse. What if the pain gets more severe? What if the stress becomes more intense?

So, your grandmother may be able to cope with the arthritic pain in her joints now. But she can’t handle the worry of what might happen ten years down the road when the pain intensifies as she ages.

Your cousin might be managing on his rainy day savings now that he has suddenly been laid off from his job, but he worries about what will happen when that runs dry.

Or your friend who is overweight worries about gaining extra pounds and becoming prone to heart disease or diabetics.

And, of course, your children can usually cope with the demands of their teachers and school friends once the school year begins, but now they are overwhelmed with worry about the unknown.

In truth, worry is at least half of the problem. Removing worry from our emotional dictionaries would be curing at least half of our psychological and physical maladies.

Perhaps that is why thinking positively so central to Judaism. Positive thinking creates positivity – first by removing half of the troubling issue – which is our worry, and next by fostering in us a comforting belief of a greater Being, further opening the spiritual channels for recovery.

Thinking positively removes the negative energy and creates a positive one, thereby ensuring positive outcomes. A nurturing belief or reliance on G-d changes you into a healthier individual, who is now ready for the positive influx.

So, the next time you worry about your job, your health, your relationships, your finances, your aging parents or your children’s first day of school, why not stop to reflect: how can I infuse my circumstances with positive energy and positive thinking to create a more positive outcome?

And, as for the chronic worriers, like myself, here’s a new worry: will I ever stop worrying?



Chana Weisberg is the author of four books, the latest, Divine Whispers, soon to be released by Targum/Feldheim. She is the dean of the Institute of Jewish Studies in Toronto and is a scholar in residence for www.askmoses.com. She is also a columnist for www.chabad.org‘s Weekly Magazine. Chana Weisberg lectures regularly on issues relating to women, relationships and mysticism and welcomes your comments or inquiries at: weisberg@sympatico.ca

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/think-good-and-it-will-be-good/2004/11/17/

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