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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘LIFE’

Life Chronicles

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am not sure this belongs in your column; however, with its “Life Chronicles” heading I am assuming my problem will not be out of place and, perhaps, you may be the one to help me.

Four and a half years ago we adopted a child born of an Israeli Jewish mother and an Ethiopian father (Jewish by conversion) who died in a tragic car crash in Israel.  The adoption process was lengthy, as we needed to ascertain her mother’s Judaism. By the time our daughter came to us she was nine months old. She was sickly and malnourished, but we loved her from the second we laid our eyes on her and devoted our every moment to helping her become whole, healthy and happy.  We named her Ayelet (which means morning star) as she brightened our lives and, Baruch Hashem, under our care she flourished.  After sixteen years of childlessness, she brought joy and life into our empty home and transformed it from a tomb of silence into a bubbling stream of noise and laughter.  Our whole family accepted her into their midst and all our lives became enriched by her presence.

This year, Ayelet began first grade and based on her reception in kindergarten, I was afraid she would encounter social obstacles because of both her skin color and her history.  Although most of the children in her kindergarten didn’t make any issue, I saw the look on one of her teacher’s faces and this only repeated itself on the faces of parents who dropped off their children.  After much explanation, proof of birth and adoption and many lengthy phone conversations with other parents who excluded Ayelet from after school play-dates with their children, much of the prejudice was dealt with and Ayelet had a few children she could play with on Shabbos and after school.

When I went to register her in Bais Yaakov, I knew immediately, that there would be huge obstacles. We met with both Hebrew and English principals, going through the dance of proving of her Jewishness, and convincing them that she would integrate well with the help and cooperation of her teachers and the administration.

After much pleading and begging, and with the intervention of our shul’s rav, she was finally accepted just as the school term began.  I brought her in for orientation and experienced the same incredulous stares from her teachers and classmates.  Sadly, none of the little girls spoke to her that day and when school began, not one of them asked her to join them at recess or spoke to her at lunch.  I called her teachers and explained that she was miserable and lonely and asked if there was some way in which they could help her find others in her class who would strike up a friendship.  One of the teachers very bluntly told me it would probably take some time before the other girls adjusted to her dark skin and physical differences; it’s not something that should be forced or provoked.

I was somewhat shocked at her flippant acceptance of the situation and her reluctance to undertake any initiative to try to find a solution to resolve this situation. Ayelet is such a sweet and loving little girl and her heart hurts each day she has to go to school and learn that because she is different from the other girls, she is not worthy of kindness and friendship.



Dear Friend,

I feel your pain and frustration!  How sad that such a little one needs to learn the harsh truths about the ugliness of prejudice – that acceptance is dependant upon fitting into that rigid, identical mold we set forth. It is exactly this ideology that Hashem abhors!  Where is ahavas Yisroel and ve’ahavta lerayacha kamocha?  I must say I am deeply disappointed in the response you received from the teacher. She missed a marvelous opportunity to create an environment of cohesiveness and friendship amongst her young students.

Having been a teacher in my early years after graduating, I was faced with similar challenges when students didn’t interact well with one another.  With older kids, this is a bit harder, but with the little ones just starting out and relying on adult tutelage and guidance, with the right instruction, beautiful things can happen.  All that is required is a teacher who loves her job, cares deeply for what her little charges, and uses her imagination and innovation to make things great.

Please call this teacher again and ask her to institute a “Special Friends Day,” wherein she pairs two or three students to play and communicate with each other, rotating these groups every day so that all the children have a chance to get to know and be with each other on a more intimate and intense level.  No one needs to wait to be asked to play, no one is left sitting alone during recess and no one will hurt because she is different.  If the teacher displays no prejudice, the children will do the same and everyone will be accepted and equal.

I would also like to tell you how much I admire you for giving this child a loving, supportive and caring family. There are many different ways a woman can have a child, biological birth is only one of them. Being a “true mother” comes with the love, devotion and selflessness she provides for her child.  You, dear friend, are a true mother in every sense of the word.  May Hashem reward you a thousandfold for your compassion and may Ayelet bring you and your husband much joy and Yiddish nachas.

Rachel Bluth

Gift Of Life Marrow Registry Marks 25th Anniversary Saving Lives

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Gift of Life Marrow Registry helps children and adults suffering from leukemia, lymphoma, other cancers and genetic disorders find matching donors for lifesaving blood and marrow transplants.

In 2016, Gift of Life marked its 25th anniversary, and to celebrate, the organization adopted a bold new call to action. Gift of Life was launched in 1991 to save the life of Jay Feinberg, a 23-year-old from New Jersey diagnosed with a cancer called Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. Jay did not have a compatible donor match in his family, so a campaign was launched to find the one person who could save his life.

When Jay was diagnosed with leukemia, the Jewish population was vastly underrepresented in the international marrow donor registries. Due to the tragedy of the Holocaust, many family lines were lost or scattered. Jay was initially told that due to this severe shortage of Jewish donors, his chance of finding a matching Ashkenazi Jewish donor was nearly impossible.

Jay’s family and friends would not accept this and they mounted an immense effort to find the donor they were sure existed somewhere. One volunteer even traveled to Russia to run drives and search for possible matches there. Hundreds of recruitment drives were organized and over 60,000 potential donors joined the registry. Matches were identified for many other patients in need, but none for Jay. In a final, hopeful effort, one last drive was organized by a young man whose close friend was saved by a donor who was tested for Jay. In May 1995, the very last donor tested at that drive turned out to be Jay’s match and he received a successful transplant two months later.

Jay’s search for a donor took four years. Determined to help others in similar circumstances, Jay continued the work begun on his behalf. Today, Gift of Life is an international medical resource, highly regarded for its unique and vital work. A member of the international collaborative, Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide, and an associate registry of the National Marrow Donor Program, Gift of Life ranks fifteenth in size out of seventy-two stem cell registries in fifty-three countries, and is the only registry founded and managed by a transplant recipient.

At present, the organization is searching for a donor for a young Jewish father of three named Adam Krief, who recently was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer. He needs a marrow transplant to survive but does not have a match among the current donors in the registry. Adam is originally from Morocco, so it is possible that his match will be found among people of Sephardic Jewish background, or possibly even Hispanic descent. He is very ill and the situation is dire. He needs a donor match as soon as possible.

Please call Gift of Life Marrow Registry at 561-982-2900 or e-mail knewcombe@giftoflife.org. Saving the life of this young father would certainly be a wonderful way to bring in the Jewish New Year.

Shelley Benveniste

Life Chronicles

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

You can’t imagine how many times I’ve opened The Jewish Press to read your column and found answers to the problem I was experiencing at that moment in the common sense, solid answers you give each weekly letter-writer.  However, over the past two years I have been dealing with a situation that has only gotten worse. As I have not read of a similar situation, I decided to write to you directly.

I am eighty-six years old and the mother of six children.  If someone had asked, I would have said we were a close family; we never had an issue of family discord. Of course, after they married, some of my children moved away and the miles of separation created some distance. In addition, though, two daughters live near me, they don’t always have time to visit, except in the early years of their marriages when they came for Yom Tov and Shabbos.

This was something I understood and I appreciated when they and their large families took the time to visit. My husband, on the other hand felt abandoned, complaining that the kids only remembered to call or visit when they needed money or to spend time in one of our three vacation homes.  He had more of a connection with two of our sons and one son-in-law, as the three of them worked with him in the family business.

As my husband got older and began spending less time at work, they became the dominant figures in the office. We were able to travel and keep busy with our joint interests and charities as well as our hobbies and pastimes, and did not experience the loneliness that some elderly parents complain about. Life just moved under its own steam.

Then, about three and a half years ago, my husband got a call from his attorneys. It seems our three “sons” were planning some sort of hostile takeover of the business that would leave my husband without any decision-making power; he would simply be a figurehead! My husband was shocked to his core, and Rachel, never the same person again.

As the business was the one area I was not involved in, I had no idea that he had made these three opportunists his partners and had given them power over much of the day-to-day business operations. They had decided to push him out and make a power grab for the whole enterprise, one that my husband built up from nothing and made into a thriving business that took care of all their families and more.

Needless to say, a war ensued that cut our family into shreds. My husband and his lawyers began to brainstorm on ways to push the three of them back to seconds-in-command. Amazingly, my husband, even in his great shock, remembered a document he had drawn up many years ago, making me head of the company if I outlived him. The three “men” were not mentioned in the document at all.

We prepared to go to court, but the bitterness and the pain took its toll on my husband’s heart and six weeks before we were to be in court, he passed away. The funeral was a cold and bitter affair; I felt more pain then I could have imagined as I watched the three vultures pretend to grieve.  I forbade our sons from sitting shiva in our home because of what they had put my husband through and five weeks later we went to court.

Baruch Hashem, the judge saw through all the manipulations, lies and conniving schemes and ruled that their behavior was at best unethical and illegal, and at worst, heinous, vicious and inhumane, done with the intent of usurping power and control from its rightful owner, thus causing insufferable harm that may have lead to his passing.  I was now legally and officially COO of our family business and, thankfully, surrounded by trusted employees who had been with us for many years. I am doing a reasonably admirable job at keeping us going.

As you can imagine, my first order of business had been to fire the three of them and as a result, have had no contact with any of them, including the grandchildren.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my doctor informed me that questions have been raised about my mental health.

The three “demons” are hoping to make it seem as if I am suffering from dementia and am unfit or incapable of running the business. Their plan is to claim that as they used to run the firm, they have the experience and ability to be placed in charge.

There is no end in sight to this misery, what with new legal expenses and a new court battle to face. Mrs. Bluth, I just don’t know if I can do it!  Please, can you offer me some hope that this will end well?



Dear Friend,

Every time I think I’ve heard the saddest story, a letter arrives with a new situation that seems so unthinkable, I am at a loss as to how to respond. I have more questions than answers, and see more heartache as long as the business continues to exist.

How do children do this to parents who have sustained them so generously? Where is the kibbud av v’eim? What is the price of a loving father and a devoted mother?  What is the going rate of a human heart, a viable conscience?

I don’t much about your business, but can only recommend that you sell it for top dollar while you still can and have your lawyer set up trusts to protect your investments.

Time has a way of rearranging the predictable with the unpredictable.  Perhaps, when there is no more business and power to fight for, and you are the sole manager of the purse-strings, the dynamics may change. Those who have abused you until know, might want to reconcile and at the very least you might be able to build a relationship with your grandchildren.

Rachel Bluth

Rejuvenate Your Financial Life

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

In this week’s show Aaron discusses how to rejuvenate your finances. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can never be financially secure. Just like nature comes back after a volcano so to you can extricate yourself from financial chaos. For questions email: aaron@lighthousecapital.co.il

Israel News Talk Radio

New Fund Honoring Itzhak Perlman to Help Include Disabled in Jewish Life

Monday, September 12th, 2016

The Genesis Prize Foundation (GPF) and the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) on Monday launched “Breaking Barriers,” a matching grant program in honor of 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate Itzhak Perlman. The initiative aims to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish communal life, echoing Perlman’s lifelong dedication to breaking barriers and creating a society which is inclusive for people of all abilities.

Itzhak Perlman received the $1 million Genesis Prize on June 22, in Jerusalem, for his outstanding achievement as one of the most preeminent classical musicians in the world and for his unceasing dedication to improving the quality of life and opportunities available to people with disabilities. Michael Douglas was the 2015 Genesis Prize Laureate and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the Inaugural Laureate in 2014.

Perlman agreed that his prize money be used to promote inclusion and breaking barriers in both North America and Israel. In Israel, an additional $500,000 will be dispersed through grants from Matan-United Way Israel. In North America, a $1 million fund was created by Roman Abramovich. This combined approach will generate more than $3 million in new donations.

Itzhak Perlman said he was “honored to be part of ‘Breaking Barriers,’ and to have the opportunity to encourage other funders to join this critical initiative so that each person, regardless of his or her abilities, will have the opportunity to maximize their potential and to participate as full members of the community. This is a great opportunity to open more doors and accept all who choose to enter.”

Stan Polovets, Co-founder and Chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation noted that “once again, the Genesis Prize has the honor of celebrating the achievements of an individual who, through his passion and dedication to Jewish values, desires to improve the lives of others.”

Andrés Spokoiny, President & CEO of JFN, said “JFN is thrilled to continue bringing inclusion of people with disabilities to the forefront of the Jewish philanthropic agenda. Jews of all abilities are the community’s constituents. Proactive inclusion of people with disabilities has to be incorporated into the planning and execution of everything we do. This matching grant initiative will move us further in that direction.”

This is the second matching grant collaboration between the Genesis Prize Foundation and Jewish Funders Network, following the 2015 Avenues to Jewish Engagement for Intermarried Couples and their Families, established in honor of the 2015 Genesis Prize Laureate Michael Douglas, which generated $3.3 million in new funds.

Grants in the US or Canada of $25,000 to $75,000 will be matched dollar for dollar. An organization whose primary mission is to serve people with disabilities may receive grants for general operating support. Organizations with a broader mission may receive project support. Priority will be given to organizations that seek to create lasting, systemic change. All information about the matching grants fund, including eligibility criteria, the submission process, and the application itself, is available on the matching grant website.


Life Chronicles

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

We are having a big problem with my next-door neighbor and it is turning ugly.  The person we bought our home from had the same issue, but never told us about it. It seems the bad blood between them has now transferred over onto us.

When we first came to look at the house, the owner took us to meet the neighbor on the other side; everyone seemed friendly and told us great things about the block and the neighborhood.  In fact, many of the children were of the same age as our children and would be going to the same yeshivos, so we were assured that our children would not lack friendship.  We also loved the shul, which was two blocks from the house and very convenient for my elderly father who lives with us. He is able to go to shul on Shabbos and attend shiurim on a daily basis.  So buying this house was pretty much a done deal and we went to contract in record time.

All was tranquil for a few weeks and we integrated into the community and the neighborhood, enjoying our new friends and our new home.  Then, on a warm summer Shabbos, my kids were playing with some friends in our backyard when I heard yelling and screaming.  I ran out to find the neighbor to the right screaming at the kids who had been playing ball.  I approached the gate that separated our yard from hers and asked what the problem was. The woman nearly seared my ears off with her foul language, yelling that the kids’ ball playing had damaged her garden and that “You people think you can do whatever you want” which would become her mantra every time she found something to fault us for – which turned out to be two or three times a week.

Things have drastically escalated since then. Those neighbors also have two dogs they allow to run free in their back yard and two weeks ago one of the dogs almost jumped over the fence into our yard, traumatizing our three-year-old. The kids no longer play in the backyard.

I have spoken to many of my neighbors and asked them how they deal with these people and they say to just ignore them.  That’s when I found out that a great part of the reason the previous owners sold was because these people were anti-Semites who were the last hold-outs on the block even after all their friends had sold their homes to Jews.  They have been a thorn in everyone’s side, blaming the Jewish community for chasing away their kind.  This explanation does little to help me and I am afraid of what will come next.  I’ve already encountered dog feces on my front walk, and garbage strewn across my lawn.  Is there any legal action or other recourse I can take to safeguard my family and home from these people?



Dear Friend,

What an awful predicament!  To have found the house, neighborhood and community that offers you all that you were looking for, and then to move in and find you have horrid neighbors who are determined to make you suffer for moving in and pay a price for their own kind moving out of the neighborhood, must be terribly unnerving.  I would venture to say that reasoning with these people would be a futile and possibly defeatist endeavor.  Certainly, something needs to be done.

What I would do first is to install video cameras around the outside of your home, to record whatever vile retribution those neighbors inflict on you.  Then, I would go to your local police precinct and enlist their help in dealing with these people, as some of what they’ve done constituted trespassing on private property (yours!), vandalism, is another. It would also be wise to consult an attorney and see what your options are, as well as rallying the community to speak out on your behalf… and their own if they have also encountered problems with these people.  The previous owner of your house should also write a letter stating that they are the reason he sold his house – it’s the least he can do for not being up-front with you about these horrible people.

Sadly, anti-Semitism is alive and well and breeding in many neighborhood.  It behooves us to address it in a civil and constructive way so that we can live and thrive in our communities.  Doing nothing only emboldens those that wish us harm and makes it easy for them to continue their harassment.  If history has taught us anything at all, it has taught us this truth.

Rachel Bluth

Life Chronicles

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

What I’m about to share with you has been eating away at me for over five months and I have no one to talk to. I feel so ashamed and violated.  You see, when I got married ten months ago, my husband and I moved to another country so that he could complete his studies in Neurosurgery. We left behind our family and friends and started married life in a remote town on the outskirts of a major city and near the hospital where he was accepted as a resident.  Needless to say, there was very little in the way of company or friendship, outside of the one other Jewish couple, a young rabbi and his wife who ran the Chabad in a neighboring town. There were a few other Jewish doctors and residents in the same hospital as my husband, but none lived in close enough proximity for us to form friendships or develop a social contact.  We were very much isolated but determined to see the two-year program through so that we could return to the United States for my husband to seek employment.  I managed to get a secretarial job in an American company, which helped occupy my time, and I was happy being in an environment where English was spoken.

Five months ago, I began feeling dizzy and nauseous, but didn’t tell my husband because he was under a great deal of stress and I didn’t want to worry him.  One day at work, I passed out and was rushed to the hospital where my husband worked. He was waiting for me in the emergency bay, but could not stay with me too long. I was left alone until a young doctor came in to examine me and take a series of tests.  When all was completed, my husband returned just in time to get the news that we were expecting and that all was well.  I was given the name of the hospital’s chief obstetrician, whom I was told to see in the ensuing weeks. Needless to say, we were overjoyed and excited about the turn of events and my husband was thrilled that the chief of obstetrics and gynecology would personally oversee my case.

On the day of my appointment, my husband could not leave work to be with me, so I set out alone to see Doctor S. As I sat in the waiting room, I overheard a whispered conversation between two other women, patients I assumed, who seemed agitated and nervous.  They spoke in their native tongue, so I didn’t understand what they were saying but it appeared that the younger one was the daughter of the older woman and she was pleading and crying with the mother about something, trying to get her to leave. I tried to look through a magazine to take my mind off the goings on, but when the receptionist/nurse called them in, the mother had to almost drag her daughter out of the chair and into the inner office.  The door closed and I was left with a very strange feeling. Ten minutes later, another nurse came to escort me into an examining room where I answered a litany of questions, had blood drawn and completed other preliminary paperwork before seeing the doctor.  There was another wait and finally, a knock on the door and the doctor entered.

Dr. S. was not at all what I expected.  Gruff and curt to the point of rudeness, he cut me off as I started to ask a question and dismissed the attending nurse from the room.  That’s when I began to worry.  Being young and naive and not knowing what to expect, what came next horrified and repulsed me to the point of catatonia, and I froze with terror as he did things to me that I know were cruel and evil, not to mention the pain and degradation I was subjected to. I don’t remember how I got through it, but after he left the room and the nurse came in, she held me as I wept and tried to stand on rubbery legs.  I threw up in the street and could barely make it to the train station and home.  That night I knew that I had lost the baby.

My husband was devastated when he came home and I told him I had miscarried.  I never told him why. We wept together, he because he so wanted a child and because he saw my suffering, and I, because I was still reeling from the shock and the pain of what I had gone through, unable to come to grips with it.  What made it a thousand times worse is that Dr. S, after hearing from my husband that I had miscarried, told him that we were young and that first babies sometimes don’t make it and told my husband that I was to come in and see him to make sure I don’t need a D&C.  I told my husband I would not go back to him, but would seek out a woman doctor for the exam.  Sadly, life has not been the same. I have trouble being with my husband and I am engulfed in a world of sadness.  I go through the motion of daily living but I am dead on the inside.  I am suffering, my husband is suffering and our marriage is suffering.



Dear Friend,

My heart breaks for you. Young, newly married, in a strange land amongst strangers, with no one to turn to for advice or counsel, no one who could have gone with you, educated you on what to expect and forewarn you that this beast, masquerading as a healer, was an abuser, a brutal violator of women of the worst sort.

I know this does little to give you comfort or lift the heavy black shroud that encases you, however, understand this – there was nothing you could have done in your state of shock, to stop the assault.  Fear and paralysis made you a prisoner and a victim, unable to defend yourself.  As for your aborted pregnancy, there may be a host of reasons why you miscarried, and while its possible most of them point to the brutal exam, it may also be that the fetus was not viable and would have aborted of its own accord.  You said that you have gone to another doctor, a woman, to check you out after you miscarried.  I would like to know what her finding were, as she would have been able to tell if you suffered trauma, abrasions and/or lacerations internally that were suspicious and uncharacteristic with a normal pre-natal exam.

Rachel Bluth

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/life-chronicles/life-chronicles-84/2016/09/05/

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