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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘LIFE’

After “Schindler’s List”: The Challenging Life Of Oskar Schindler

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

The publication of Thomas Keneally’s book Schindler’s Ark (1982) and the release of the Steven Spielberg Oscar-winning film “Schindler’s List” (1993), made the basic story of Oskar Schindler widely known.

German industrialist, Nazi Party member, war profiteer, alcoholic, and shameless womanizer, Schindler (1908-1974) was both a cynical, greedy exploiter of slave workers and an authentic Holocaust hero best known for risking his life and spending his entire fortune during World War II to save over 1,200 Jews by employing them at his Krakow enamelware factory and protecting them by bribing German officials.

When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, the opportunistic businessman joined the Nazi Party. He gained ownership of an idle Jewish-owned enameled-goods factory close to the Jewish ghetto, Deutsch Emailwaren Fabrik, and, with the help of Itzhak Stern, his Jewish accountant, he obtained some 1,000 Jewish slave laborers.

Though initially motivated by money, Schindler was appalled by the Nazi murder of many of his Jewish workers and he thereafter used all his skills to protect his Schindlerjuden (“Schindler Jews”). He used the special status of his factory (“business essential to the war effort”) to arrange with Amon Göth, commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp, for 700 Jews to be transferred to an adjacent factory compound where he protected them.

In 1962 Schindler was declared one of the “righteous among the nations,” an honor awarded by Israel to non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust at great personal risk, and he was the only (former) member of the Nazi Party ever invited to plant a tree at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

Less well known than Schindler’s wartime heroics is his life after the war, which is actually a tragic tale of recurrent failure. He became the subject of substantial physical and verbal abuse because of the assistance he had provided to Jews during the war; in fact, after he was honored by Israel, Schindler’s German business partner terminated the partnership because “now it is clear that you are a friend of Jews and I will not work together with you any longer.”

His unambiguous condemnation and denunciation of German war criminals only served to exacerbate the enmity many Germans felt toward him. He was attacked with taunts of “You dirty Jew. They forgot to gas you” (Schindler, of course, was not Jewish), and workmen shouted “Too bad you didn’t burn with the Jews.”

In particular, Schindler received countless threats from former Nazis, including one from an attorney who, after unambiguously identifying himself as “an old Nazi,” noted Schindler’s visit to Israel and his support for Jews during the war and warned: “Because of your behavior, I have an eye on you, Herr Schindler.”

In one incident, one of his factory workers attacked him with an iron rod and, though he pressed charges, the post-Holocaust German authorities failed to take any action. When he punched out a factory worker who accused him of being a “Jew kisser,” he was hauled into court, charged with violence, and received a lecture from the judge on proper social behavior.

* * * * *

By the end of the war, Schindler had spent his vast fortune on bribes and black-market purchases of supplies for his workers and was virtually broke. Facing monumental financial difficulties and feeling understandably vulnerable in postwar Germany, he applied for an entry permit to the United States, but was turned down because he had served as a member of the Nazi Party. In 1949 he and his wife, Emilie, fled to Argentina where he settled down as a farmer. But when he went bankrupt in 1957, he abandoned Emilie (whom he would never see again).

Shown here is a card from a May 20, 1994 WIZO Gala Schindler Night in West Palm Beach, Florida, to honor Emilie Schindler. The card is signed by Emilie, Tom Keneally (author of Schindler’s Ark), and Jack Feigenbaum and Rena Schoenthal Fagen, surviving “Schindler Jews.” The event was the first time in 50 years that Emilie got to meet some of the people she and her husband had saved. She passed away on October 5, 2001 at age 93.

* * * * *

Schindler returned to Germany, where every subsequent business he tried, including a cement factory, also failed.front-page-110416-postcard

He was repeatedly saved from destitution only through funds provided by some of his “Schindlerjuden,” who had never forgotten him, and later thanks to a small pension he received from the West German government and stipends from Jewish organizations. He had serious health issues, including cardiovascular problems, and ultimately died of liver failure.

Exhibited here are excerpts from what is a truly remarkable and historic correspondence, one of only a handful of Schindler letters in existence. (It was typed on onionskin and therefore does not reproduce well here; I encourage readers interested in seeing all three pages of the letter to contact me and I will be happy to forward the entire scan.).

In the January 2, 1964 letter from Frankfurt am Main to Alfred Hermann, he discusses his difficult life after the war (translation from the German):

 

As you learned from German television, Channel 2, Mr. Wilfert intends to visit you in NY…. He wants to make a feature about you and some of our friends for television and produce material for your article in New York Herald Tribune…. It seems to be of no consequence that I am present. On December 30, 1963 at an exhibition at Frankfurt’s Paulskirche honoring the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, I had a short conversation with Mr. Wilfert (the exhibition coincides with the trial against Auschwitz guards in the City Hall next door)…. In your first article, and unfortunately I don’t read English, it supposedly says that I was stoned on the streets of Frankfurt. This is untrue and must be based on a translation error…. However, it is true that I was attacked with an iron rod in my factory by one of my workers. This happened in a suburb of Frankfurt in front of 10 witnesses, and I fell down the stairs into concrete blocks on the floor. The emphasis was not on the injuries I sustained but on the words that were spoken: “You dirty Jew. They forgot to gas you.” Half an hour later, I pressed charges with the Hanau police in front of witnesses, but nobody followed up on my complaint…. The police did nothing, and even my lawyer, Dr. Alexander Besser, advised me to let it go. At this time, I had been receiving medical treatments…due to my cardiovascular problems, and I didn’t want to deal with this issue…. I was boycotted and we experienced an unusually cold winter…. This was a new enterprise, we had no reserve assets and finally we received an eviction notice.

I have to reject the notion that these events could turn me into a martyr or that they were caused by political intrigue against me…. On the other hand, I cannot bear the notion that things beyond my control are being trivialized. And Mr. Wilfert was wrong when he stated that “You dirty Jew. They forgot to gas you” is a common saying in Frankfurt.

But I have to complain about a company I used to do business with. Witnesses were unavailable to Mr. Wilfert since they were sick or had been fired, but their attorney revealed himself as an “old Nazi” in front of witnesses. He commented on my visit to Israel and on my support for Jews during the war by saying: “Because of your behavior, I have an eye on you, Herr Schindler. I am an old Nazi.”… I informed my lawyer, and my co-owner, Herr von Wangenheim, about this incident. The result was that our business with them sunk to 10%.

Saul Jay Singer

Life Chronicles

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am sitting and weeping as I write to you. I am utterly broken and ashamed.  This has been the absolute worst Yom Tov ever and I just want to lie down and never wake up again.  I’m not going to take my own life, I’m too much of a coward for that, however, I am standing very close to the edge.

I was born twenty-eight years ago, the middle child amongst seven girls. I was a chubby baby who never lost her baby fat while my sisters all grew into lovely, svelte young women who had no trouble making friends, getting jobs or finding husbands.  My parents doted on the other girls, made them fun birthday parties when they were young, but not for me. I guess it was because I had no friends to invite.  My mother had no problem shopping for my sisters in all the popular stores and buying them pretty outfits while I, at the age of twelve, had to shop in the women’s department to find clothes that would fit.  At that time I weighed well over one hundred pounds.  As we grew up, my older sisters tried to avoid having me around when their friends came over and I felt too ashamed to be seen, so I spent a great deal of time hiding in my room, or the basement, where I could lose myself in books and forget my miserable existence.  When they got married I was so mortified by my gargantuan girth, which was exacerbated by the gown I was forced to wear, that I refused to walk down the isle and spent almost the whole affair holed up in the bridal dressing room so as to avoid taking pictures.

So, now you have a small idea of what my life is like.

My parents tried to make me feel good, as did other family members.  To this day everyone tells me what a beautiful face I have, with peaches and cream skin and gorgeous blond hair. That’s where it ends. From the neck down I’m a hideous mountain of gelatinous fat and those comments only serve to make me feel worse, sending me running to the pantry to grab the hidden bag of sweets and chips that help me get over the feelings of worthlessness.  It is the vicious cycle of my life.

And then this Yom Tov my parents decided to go to a hotel and insisted I go with them. I know they wanted to do it for me, in the hopes that I would find a young man who would see what they saw in me without actually being blind.  So, we went to this hotel where most of the guests were either young family groups or elderly.  As luck would have it, we shared our table in the dining room with a family who had four young children who couldn’t stop staring at me.  But then, everyone in the hotel stared at me, along with the wait staff who snickered and made bets on who would serve us.  A few elderly ladies made hurtful comments, thinking I couldn’t hear them. However, what did we me in was when the oldest of the four children sitting with us asked me when I was going to explode!  I ran up to my room and didn’t come out until check-out time, ignoring my parents’ please to join them for meals and activities.

I am so miserable in this body, I hate myself, but I can’t stop gorging, as it seems to be the only thing that gives me comfort. I know I’m my own worst enemy but I’m a prisoner trapped within myself.  I long to feel pretty, accepted, normal.  I wish I knew what it feels like to have friends, to laugh and not to stand out as the oddity in a crowd.  I wish I could find someone who would see me for the person I am and not for the gross aberration my appearance represents.  I wish I could find a way to make my wish come true.  I don’t want pity, just assistance if you can.

 

 

Dear Friend,

Pity parties are the saddest affairs and serve only to keep you stuck in the place you are trapped in, so there will be pity here! What I will offer you is logical and constructive advice on how to begin the journey of finding and releasing the tormented, trapped and thinner you that longs to be set free.

Like a drug addict who relies on synthetic potions to numb the task of daily living, you have become addicted to food as a means of insulating yourself against reality.  What is most important, and what you seem to be overlooking, is the reason you turned to food for the comfort, love and self acceptance that should have naturally evolved and been instilled in you as you grew from infancy.  Without more information about your family dynamics and relationships, I can only assume that something went wrong somewhere in your early youth that caused you to doubt yourself or convinced you that you weren’t good enough, worthy enough or that you were somehow different from your  siblings.  As a young child, you could not process the initial hurt, the seed that started the spiral, so you latched on to the one thing that was readily available and gave you comfort, validation and helped you get through the day.  You need to see a therapist who specializes in eating disorders to help you get to the core issue of what got you to this stage and assist you in finding the strength and the will to start changing the hurtful and debilitating habit that rules your life and bolsters your misery.

As you become stronger and realize why you abuse food and self-destruct whenever you or others make you feel bad about yourself, you will find it easier to change your eating habits.  As you begin to trust how you feel about your self-worth, you will learn to eat to live, not live to eat.  Your diet will become healthier and with the inclusion of moderate exercise you should see wonderful results in a short time.

Rachel Bluth

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.”

JNi.Media

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/ordered-back-to-life/2016/10/06/

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