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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘LIFE’

JFNA Discovered Jewish Life in Liberated Territories

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

For years the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has said it distributes funds east of the “green line” when it’s asked, and were very upset when settlers complained about being boycotted by their brothers and sisters in America. Now, according to the Forward, JFNA voted to allow its missions to visit the folks on the wrong side of the 1949 armistice line.

This is not a small thing, considering the fact that JFNA raise and distribute more than $3 billion annually for social welfare, social services and educational needs around the globe.

On Wednesday, the JFNA board of trustees voted to overturn their policy barring its missions from visiting Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Mind you, JFNA has always been aware of Arab life in Judea and Samaria, as its affiliate program, Interfaith Partners for Peace, takes faith delegations to Arab towns there, as JFNA president Jerry Silverman wrote in an email to his trustees recently. Now the organization plans to extend its recognition to some Jews as well, as, on Wednesday, JFNA’s board of trustees voted to “authorize the entry of JFNA missions, including federation community missions planned through JFNA, into Israeli-controlled territories beyond the Green Line.”

And it took them only 49 years to get there!

According to the Jewish Journal, Silverman’s email says the JFNA-led missions would only go to Area C communities, which are under IDF control, and stay safely away from Ramallah and Shechem.

JFNA policy regarding Jewish life in biblical Judea and Samaria is limited by the fact that, as an umbrella organization, it must mitigate the views of all its participating local Jewish charities.

Some JFNA senior officials were concerned, apparently, that such limited tours would mean that participants would only hear one side of the story, and grow fond of Jewish settlers at the expense of the local Arabs. And one philanthropist shared with the Jewish Journal her fear that those trips would normalize those pesky Jewish communities, and said she preferred that those missions stay out of those territories altogether. Otherwise, she said, “if seeing is so important, then I think that we have an equal responsibility to go see Palestinians living over the Green Line.”


Life Chronicles

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am not good at expressing myself in general and was never one for writing down my thoughts and feelings.  I am by no means the life of anyone’s party and have become an even greater introvert due to my own sad life experiences.  But I am taking a chance on writing this letter, hoping that even though you advocate for agunot, you will give equal time for the few abused and beleaguered husbands who suffer comparably at the hands of stone-hearted, selfish women.  We may not be statistically relevant to all the women who make up the agunah cartel, but we do exist, with no voice or champion to stand for us.

Fifteen years ago I married what I thought was the girl of my dreams.  She wasn’t a beauty (nor was I), but I saw things in her that perhaps weren’t really there, because I was desperate to get married.  I was nearing the ripe old age of thirty-seven and was seen as a lost cause by almost every shadchan, family member and friend. So, when Sima came along, I cleared my mind of all else and forced myself to focus on finding the traits in her that I could live with.  Sima was almost thirty-five and just as desperate as I was to find someone to marry and beat her ticking biological clock (I found out only later). So, the geek became the prince and vice versa.

It is said that love is blind, well, the two of us chose hysterical blindness over deep insight and, grabbing what we saw as the last straw in our bag of chances, we married.  The wedding was low-key, as most of our friends were married with older children and some of our immediate families had already passed away. We didn’t even have a proper sheva brochos week as both our jobs prohibited our absence during that time.  Our life together started out on an uneven footing.

And it only got worse.  As I said, Sima saw me as her last chance, but her die had been cast before we even met. It seems she had decided that even if I turned out to be a troll with horns and a tail, she was going to marry me. What she saw was even better, a geeky guy who was soft-spoken, attentive, and who could be easily controlled with a smile, an occasional compliment and a rare kiss. Someone that she would drive with an iron fist and nerves of steel to do her bidding, who would tolerate her vile temper, cutting words and never leave.

Someone who would father her children, so she could claim they belonged to her alone and would fabricate all sorts of terrible things that I supposedly did to her and them and sue me in court… and ultimately win.

It has been four years now that I have not seen my three children, not because I didn’t keep my visitations with them but because she always found a way to keep them from me. She has poisoned their minds against me, and now they choose not to come of their own accord – and I will not force them. We maintain a short and hollow connection through the weekly phone calls I make to them.

There it is in a nutshell, Mrs. Bluth.  I know I’m not alone and that there are men suffering from physical and emotional abuse much worse than I, but the heart is an organ that cannot separate pain from pain. We all hurt the same. I am hoping you are fair enough, unbiased enough and caring enough to publish this letter, if for no other reason than to assure others in the same situation that they are not alone.  Life goes on and we need to just put one foot in front the other until Hashem sees fit to put an end to our mortal misery.



Dear Friend,

Thank you first and foremost, for finding the wherewithal to share your story with us.  Misery is an equal opportunity employer, gender-blind, age insensitive and can be found anywhere and everywhere where tears can be shed.  Only a fool will believe that abuse is strictly a “man-thing” and that only women and children suffer it. I know that there are men who suffer just as greatly at the hands of callas, cruel and narcissistic women who rely on crocodile tears and falsehoods to vindicate them.  I am truly sorry for your suffering.

What I hear most is found at the end of your missive.  The loss of contact with your children, if I understood correctly, is the focal point of your pain. However, it does sound as though you’ve given up hope and closed the door on ever having a relationship with them.  Don’t!  Keep calling and telling them that you love them and miss them and that you’ll always be there for them, no matter what.  Send them letters and cards on their birthdays, without posting a return address so as not to alert your ex that they are from you.  Try to “accidentally” bump into them in places that they hang out after school or where they daven, in a public place where you can talk with them face to face without fear of her screaming that you tried to abscond with them.  One day they will be old enough to see more clearly where the truth lies and make their own choices.  One day, you may find your children returning to hear your side of the story and to get to know their father.

One day, Moshiach will appear and make every injustice vanish, every illness disappear and every broken heart joyously whole again.

Rachel Bluth

Life Chronicles

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

This comes in reply to the woman whose sons and son-in-law are attempting to recapture her business after seizing it from her husband (9-16). I submit the following information for her to consider:

If she has signs of dementia, her family can petition the Court to become her legal guardians, gaining control of her assets to be used expressly *for her.*  Even if she has sold her business, they can get control of whatever she has through guardianship.  There is Court oversight as to how guardians spend their ward’s money; it is intended to insure that the money is only spent on the ward and her needs. However, there is a lot of room for misuse and misrepresentation on the part of the guardians.

She says, “My doctor informed me that questions have been raised about my mental health….” What does this mean? Are her sons and son-in-law fabricating this claim as a tactic to get control of the business?  Or, does she really have signs of dementia?  She assumes the allegations are false, but it is possible that they are accurate.  She must find out, and from sources other than her doctor and family.

Her doctor may be unaware of her family’s war against her, or he may be aware but have a personal relationship with those plotting against her. He may be accepting their statements as objective truth.  He cannot, therefore, be relied upon as a source of accurate information.

She should go to a medical source that is in no way connected with her family or her doctor to get tested. She should not give the names of her family members or that of her personal physician to this new source. She needs information that is unbiased and objective to counteract any false statements made against her so they will not influence the findings of the new source. The testing information should include the findings of an independent neuropsychologist or psychiatrist who can do a capacity evaluation including testing for decisional capacity (including evaluation for the ability to manage money and business affairs) and a neurologist. If the results come back negative for dementia, this can be used as evidence to refute the false claims of her attackers.

Should the tests come back indicating signs of the onset of early dementia, there are many variables as to why and how to treat it.  Not all dementia cases are due to the onset of old age and maybe due to problems with blood sugar, kidney function, reaction to medication, swelling on the brain, etc. and a doctor should go down the list of possibilities to rule out each one.

If she has dementia not caused by a treatable condition she should, at this juncture plan for the future.  In this event, she may need the assistance of a guardian going forward who will manage her health care and finances. She should consider designating someone who is, hopefully, trustworthy and has her best interests at heart and protect her from those seeking to take advantage of her vulnerability. She should also consult eldercare attorneys and advocacy groups who can direct her as to the best course of action for herself.  These attorneys differ from the ones she is using for other issues and eldercare law is a specialty onto itself.  She should attend to these issues in the imminent future and not procrastinate, thus giving her tormenters the power to further abuse her.

At her advanced age, it would be wise, under any circumstances, for her to slow down and enjoy life, and should she choose to stay active and busy that should come by choice, not necessity.



Dear Friends,

The author of the above letter asked to have it appear in the column as a response to the woman’s sad predicament.  Because the advice dispensed herein is sound and logical and may (or may not) have been written by someone with a familiarity of the problem, I will honor that request, as I have no other method of imparting this information to the lady.

This is also a chance for me to address the needs of the abused elderly populace who suffer in silence, sitting alone in nursing homes, in their own homes and at the mercy of brutal health care aides or those elderly seemingly still able to live alone but who forget to eat, to bathe or are negligent of their own safety. Or the elderly who suffer abuse and neglect at the hands of the very children they cared for and on whom they are now dependant.  They are seen as cash cows for their monthly stipends, social security checks and benefits. There is a world of mistreatment that has gone unchecked.

No matter who or where you are, if you see a little old man or lady sitting on the porch or in the pizza store, in the company of an attendant who’s eating as the client hungrily watches, if she or he seems afraid (the study of body language is amazing!) of the attendant or caretaker, stop and start a conversation in Yiddish (if you speak it), so as not to alert the caretaker. If you visit an elderly/bedridden relative or family member, always check beneath the blankets to see that he or she is clean and unblemished.  I can’t tell you how many bruises and black and blue marks I found on my father, z”l, inflicted through rough handling by heartless home care aides, and I visited him every day!  Needless to say the aids were terminated on the spot, but if you don’t look, you will never find!

There is protection and advocacy for the disabled, for children, for veterans and for animals.  Shouldn’t we care just as much for our parents and loved ones and for all the elderly who suffer in silence?

Rachel Bluth

Life Chronicles

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

This is a horrible and frightening time of year for me, one which I dread thinking about all year long. I can’t think of how it could get any worse, judging by last year’s fiasco, but if it does, my family, as we once knew it, will be torn apart beyond repair.

We are six sisters and three brothers, all married to date, with thirty-two children between us. Baruch Hashem, our childhood home was very large: ten bedrooms, six bathrooms and ample space for all of us. When were growing up, we were the envy of all our friends.

The reason for the size of our house related to a neighbor of ours, a Holocaust survivor for whom my mother would shop and cook. My mother always said she was cooking for an army anyway, adding food for one more was not a big deal. Well, one snowy day in December, our neighbor, Mrs. Goldstein, passed away.

As we were the closest thing she had to family, my father, who was already saying kaddish for one of his brothers, agreed to say kaddish for her as well. A few weeks after the levaya, my parents received a letter from her attorney informing them that she left all her worldly possessions, including an amazing amount of money and her house, to our family.

As her house was directly next to ours, the first thing my parents did was combine the two houses into one. The second thing they did was tell us that in order for us to each have our own room, we had to promise that we would come home for one Yom Tov every year, no matter who we married, where we lived or how many children we had. We discussed it and decided on Sukkos. We laughed at the prospect of always being stuck together, at least for eight days, once a year.  My parents had us sign a paper agreeing to this, and it was never spoken of again.

Years passed, we all grew up and married and before each chuppah, along with a pair of pearl earrings for her daughters and cufflinks for her sons, my mother gave us a copy of the signed agreement we had made so very long ago.

My parents various machatanim never minded as the couples could be with them on any other Yom Tov, and it became tradition. Each Sukkos we all came home with our families – and looked forward to doing so.

Children started arriving and the huge house began to fill up and get crowded, not to mention the noise level, but still, even with the minor arguments that sprang up between the young cousins, and even some of the adults, it was still manageable. The basement was converted into more bedrooms, as was the double garage, and dormers were added.

But as the family grew, so did the arguments and the fighting.  Biting words, hurtful comments, angry come-backs and sadly, even some physical pay-back, became more and more the norm. My mother’s heart broke, I know, as she witnessed the situation getting worse each year, at seeing us become divided and cruel to one another, not speaking, taking sides and even influencing our children to avoid contact with certain cousins. But she always reminded us that we had made a pact and promised to keep the family together for at least eight days, even if the rest of the year we had no contact.

Our father passed away six years ago and our mother died last year. This year, we will gather in an empty cavern of a house that holds a multitude of memories for all of us, but some of us will be hostile, divided and prepared for war.  This year, there will be no one to rein us in, to remind us that we are one family and the purpose for why we are together. I dread the thought of what will happen when arguments break out and there is no mother there to smooth things over.

But all of us will come. We gave our word.

The question is will we survive it? Can we survive it?

Can you help us?



Dear Friend,

So much beauty and sadness in one letter! How amazing that your parents could have had the foresight to ensure that their family would stay together. How selfless and giving they were, so much so that Hakadosh Boruch Hu enabled them to sustain that beautiful dream of achdus amongst their children and grandchildren for so many years, as a result of their chesed to another person.

There is so much you and your siblings can emulate here in your reactions to each other. Your parents exemplified the middos of achdus, v’ahavta le’rayacha, and ahavas Yisroel. If only all of you could learn from them.

Your parents, may their neshamos have an aliyah, foresaw could happen to their children because it is the story of Klal Yisroel. Just as our Heavenly Father made provisions for His children throughout out our existence, so did your parents, by ensuring that you and your children would always come together, love each other and be one cohesive family. “Hinay ma’tov u’ma’naaim, sheves achim gam yachad,” was their hope and dream and how much pain they must be experiencing at the lack of cohesiveness they see.

Since you were the one to reach out, my thought is that you should become the designated peace maker. Yes, it will be an arduous and frightening undertaking, but to honor the memory of your blessed parents, you need to try. You have nothing to lose and, with Hashem’s help, much to gain.  You stand to bring your fractured family together in the home where peace and love once permeated.

I suggest that you arrange a meeting with those of your family who live near you and conference-call the ones who don’t. Make sure their spouses are part of this meeting. Begin the conversation by reminding everyone of the time your parents made the original suggestion of you each having your own room and the conditions upon which it hinged.

I think this loving memory will serve as an ice-breaker and hopefully, as you continue talking, you can clear the air and reach amicable resolutions to the issues diving you. This will, hopefully, ensure a beautiful Yom Tov spent together.

In case you all don’t know this, those contracts you signed those many years ago as little kids, are really not legally binding. However, it is an emotionally-binding document that should serve as a reminder that walls and doors, miles and distance, years and life, should not impede on the connection and love that unites a family. Your parents wanted you all to remember that life is short, family is everything and love and respect for one another is what Hashem wants from His children.

I want to wish you hatzlocha in this endeavor and to thank you for sharing the situation with us. Please let us know how it works out.

To one and all, a Shanah Tovah U’mesuka, one that is filled with brocha, good health and simcha!

Rachel Bluth

Ordered Back To Life

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Forty minutes is usually the longest time that the Hatzalah medics work on trying to revive someone who has collapsed. If they haven’t succeeded in that time the chances are very slim of ever reviving a patient. But taking it in turns they refused to give up and continued to work on Rav Katz, a young rosh yeshiva who had suddenly collapsed in his home. They continued for a further forty minutes until a weak but identifiable pulse returned.

Meanwhile Rav Katz’s family, including his son who was due to get married in under a month, were davening with all their heart, begging the Almighty to spare their father, as were the bachurim for whom he was not just a rosh yeshiva but a father as well. Many of them were estranged from their own families and Rav Katz provided not just their spiritual support but also the emotional and physical support they all needed

Rav Katz’s wife had already contacted a close friend of her husband, Rav Schwartz, a well-known rav in the United States to tell him of the grave situation and he had immediately gone to the grave of the Ribnitzer Rebbe to ask him to intercede and beg Hashem to save his friend. The Ribnitzer Rebbe, Harav Chaim Zanvil Abramowitz, zt”l, was known in his lifetime as a ba’al mofes and a poel yeshuos – a miracle worker. He died oIsru Chag Simchas Torah 5756/1995 and is buried in the Vizhnitzer cemetery in Monsey.

On his return home Rav Schwartz called Rebbetzin Katz and told her not to worry. B’ezras Hashem, everything would be all right and her husband would yet dance at his son’s chasunah.

Most of the Rav Katz’s ribs had been broken during the desperate attempts to bring him back to life and he was kept under sedation for several days by the doctors in the hospital because of the extreme pain he would have experienced had he been awake. Tests were carried out but no cause had been found for his sudden collapse.
Heart failure was the only inconclusive answer. But what condition he would be in physically and mentally when he was brought out of sedation after being without any sign of life for so long was not clear. His family was warned that even though he was, baruch Hashem, alive, he would probably have suffered brain damage.

When Rav Katz regained consciousness he showed no sign of having suffered any brain damage. He immediately asked to speak to the young avreich who managed the day-to-day running of his yeshiva. He quietly asked him to find a photograph of the Ribnitzer rebbe. The young avreich looked in some sefarim and brought those with photos to his rav. “Yes it was him,” Rav Katz murmured.

He quietly related to the avreich how during the time he was without pulse or heartbeat he had ascended to the Heavens and was met by his deceased relatives. He saw many past gedolei Yisrael who welcomed him to the world of Emes. Eventually he was brought before a rav whom he didn’t recognise.

“What are you doing here?” he asked Rav Katz. “Your time has not yet come. You cannot stay here. You must return; you still have work to do.”

Rav Katz argued that he wanted to stay; it was so beautiful in this world of Emes. But the rav, who identified himself as the Ribnitzer Rav, was not to be swayed. Rav Katz had to return and the next thing he remembered he was waking in a hospital bed.

The rav had no idea at this stage of the behind-the-scenes tefillos that had been offered at the kever of the revered Ribnitzer rebbe but he declared that without a doubt the photos he was shown were definitely of the rav who sent him back down to this world – and to dance, albeit gently, at his son’s chasunah.

Penina Pinchasi

Life Chronicles

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

Two years ago, after six years of dating countless losers and societal misfits, I thought I’d finally found the man I had been looking for.  I was by no stretch of the imagination a career dater with a long list of specifications that had to be met in order for me to consider going out on a second date; quite the opposite, in fact.  I looked for character, personality, stability and a good sense of humor in the man I hoped to marry.  As the years went by without much success, my parents and friends gave up hope that I would ever find the man of my dreams – and so did I. So, when I met “Jake,” I couldn’t believe my good fortune.  He was exactly the kind of person I had been looking and waiting for.

Because I had been turned off by dating at that point, I decided not to bother with make up or getting dressed up for the evening, thinking it would end in the usual disappointment. I came home from work and changed into a denim shirt, comfortable skirt and flats, just wanting this obligatory evening to be over.  Even though Jake sounded nice on the phone and succeeded in making me laugh, I had no hope that anything would come of it and mentally wrote him off.

Jake turned out to be six feet two, and looked like he came off the pages of a fashion magazine.  He came to pick me up in a Lexus and wearing expensive clothes; he took one look at me and burst out laughing. I had to laugh as well at the contrast we made and instead of going back into the city for dinner and theater, we ended up going for pizza and a ride through Central Park, so that I wouldn’t feel out of place.  I was impressed with his consideration, and that he was not put off by my appearance, and he had me laughing almost all evening with his wry wit and fire-cracker humor.  I couldn’t believe I had stumbled upon this man of my dreams just when I was ready to give up hope of ever finding him.

We went out quite a number of times and spoke on the phone two and three times a day, and I knew he would propose. I met his parents and siblings and was shocked to see how different they were from Jake. They were not particularly warm and friendly people and it felt more like a job interview than meeting future in-laws for the first time.  That impression never had a reason to change.  His father is a pessimist who finds fault with almost everything and his mother is a “glass half-empty” kind of person as well.

It seemed that Jake had decided to be the opposite of his parents. My parents loved him almost immediately, and my extended family and friends were beguiled with him as well.  So, when he finally did propose, everyone was in awe of my good fortune.  Jake’s biting humor and penchant for poking fun at everyone and everything kept us all in stitches, right up to the wedding day.

On our wedding day there was a sudden deluge of rain and the downpour ruined our hope for the garden ceremony we had so carefully planned.  We had to have an impromptu chuppah set up indoors instead of the beautiful, ornate and flower bedecked one that was completely ruined.  My soon-to-be-in laws didn’t stop harping about what a bad omen this was and how wet everything had gotten.  I was completely unnerved by the time we walked down the isle and couldn’t wait for Jake to help me get past all the morbidity. That never happened. Instead, Jake actually made light of the whole situation by making fun of me. The humor that I had found so endearing and appealing before, suddenly took a dark turn when I was the butt of his jokes.

Since that night, I have been the butt of many of his jokes. I no longer find his wit amusing; it usually is biting, sarcastic and hurtful, even when he says he’s “only joking.”  He pokes fun at me in front of our friends and, although everyone laughs, I can see the looks passed between them. No matter how many times I point this out to Jake, he fails to see how hurtful this has become and it becomes clearer to me that I made a really bad mistake in marrying him. I have also noticed that he uses jokes and humor like a tool meant to embarrass and inflict emotional pain under the guise of levity.

I have no one to confide in. My parents adore him, and many of our friends have chosen to avoid us so as not to become fodder for his jokes, which have become far more than intolerable.  Even I can’t stand to be around him anymore and find him annoying and repulsive!


 Dear Friend,

“When is a joke not a joke? When that joke is about you!” It’s amazing how humor sours when the joke’s on you and, sadly, it took you some time to see what was always there.  I believe, although, I can only go by your description of him, that Jake is a by-product of a somewhat dysfunctional home, where pessimism was a steady diet on which he fed.  One thought may be that in order for Jake to make friends and be “the light of the party” he adopted a sense of humor he was unfamiliar with and didn’t know how to use correctly.  Another observation may be a bit darker – that Jake enjoys making fun of others as some kind of punishment that he has control over, and that he takes a degree of pleasure in the power that comes with inflicting pain disguised as humor. It also takes the spotlight off his own insecurities.

That being said, none of this justifies his hurting others and it is certainly something that needs to be dealt with.

I would encourage both you and Jake to seek individual and couples counseling to see if your marriage can be helped.  Jake needs to understand the underlying causes that encourage him to be sarcastic and hurtful, and you have to learn how to live and deal with him while he’s undergoing his treatment – should you choose to save the marriage.  This, by no means, is a marriage that should be discarded without giving it a fair chance.  I feel that you must have seen something more in Jake than just his Lexus, fancy clothes and good looks or his humor that made you laugh when you were dating.  Try to tap into that and see if there is more substance to your relationship.

My feeling is that in this day of disposable marriages, starter homes and second spouses, there are unions that deserve a second chance.

Rachel Bluth

UPDATE: Serious Deterioration in Peres’ Condition, Brain Damage Irreversible

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Former President Shimon Peres’ family members on Tuesday told reporters there has been a severe deterioration in his condition. They say the doctors have not been able to wake him up and he has been completely unresponsive. Tests he underwent earlier on Tuesday showed the damage to his brain is irreversible.

According to Peres’s personal physician and son-in-law Prof. Raphy Walden, Peres, 93, is “in very serious condition” and his medical team is afraid of an approaching collapse of his systems since there hasn’t been a significant improvement in his condition.

In recent days Peres has undergone a series of tests that showed his indicators are stable, but he continues to be in serious condition and the family at his bedside is not optimistic about his chances for recovery. Hospital sources have said that despite the fact that his condition has not worsened, “each passing day makes it more difficult to be optimistic.”

On Monday the hospital released a statement saying the former president’s condition remains stable and his indicators have not changed, as his medical team proceeds with applying conservative care in keeping with his neurological and general condition. Last weekend his breathing was reported to have improved a little. The medical team attempted to remove him gradually from the ventilator, and his anesthetic drugs have been reduced. The doctors even reported some attempts on the patient’s part to communicate and to follow instructions such as raising his hands. But on Tuesday his conditioned has worsened.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/doctors-shimon-peres-fighting-for-his-life/2016/09/27/

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