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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Dear Rachel,

With the start of the school year, various publications have featured articles on how to make sure our children are off to a good beginning and get the most out of their school environment. Concerns range from how to promote effective communication between students and teacher in order to maximize a child’s learning potential, to minimizing tension and hassles.

Yet I’ve noticed that one subject is not talked about, and it happens to be something that can affect our children for the duration of their childhood and beyond. For the record, I speak both as a young mother of small children and as one who’s been in their shoes. I’ve also heard from others on this vital issue that gets no “airtime.”

The topic, I admit, is of a personal nature and may be too delicate for discussion in an open forum, at least for some. As a longtime reader of Chronicles, I am quite confident that you, Rachel, will agree with my contention – that the state of a child’s physical hygiene can impact his or her overall health for years to come.

To be perfectly candid, my concern centers on the development of good toilet habits. Almost any parent will testify to the frustrations of potty training their little ones. Part of the painstaking process involves emphasizing the urgency of heeding nature’s call, as well as impressing upon the little rascals the importance of cleanliness.

Then comes the start of school, or preschool, such as nursery, kindergarten and what have you, and all our training with regard to hygiene goes the way of the water in the commode. When my almost three-year old started nursery, I was impressed with the list of items parents were asked to send along: a box of tissues, a box of wipes, a spare pair of undies and a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Fast forward to summer and day camp for my four year-old. No list. Hey, no problem. The camp fee was exorbitant enough to have them cover the necessary provisions. How naïve of me! While I had taught my son to wipe himself with each visit to the bathroom, I soon began to notice that he stopped bothering. His excuse: “There is no tissue in camp…I just shake it and pull up my pants.”

When I asked him how he cleans himself when he really needs to “go,” he shrugged off my concern with, “I don’t ‘go’ in camp.” That same summer my cousin who lives in a different borough confided that her eight year-old twin boys complained about their day camp’s lack of toilet paper, tissues and paper towels.

I once took the initiative and broached the subject with my nieces and nephews some years older than my own kids. They shyly divulged that “nature” had to wait till they got home. One niece confessed to holding in her bladder the entire day for she could never see herself using the “yucky” toilets in school.

Rachel, I understand that schools exist to focus on the brain, but don’t the intelligent adults running our schools know that the mind cannot function normally while it is preoccupied with a sense of physical discomfort?

In my humble opinion, being too embarrassed to confront this issue is simply no excuse.

Health is Priority Number One

Dear Health,

It is hard to believe that “embarrassment” is the culprit in today’s culture where just about anything and everything is out in the open. While children may be more prone to be embarrassed, in all likelihood they as well as the grownups find themselves much too preoccupied with other things to pay any attention to what they must see as a nuisance more than anything else.

You, on the other hand, have it right – this problem can end up creating headaches down the line. Just a couple of for instances: Girls who continuously delay relieving their bladder can end up with a tilted uterus. All children who push “the urge” aside are at risk of acquiring a lifelong constipation habit.

Another of life’s very unpleasant physical experiences comes in the form of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which is often the fallout of a compacted bowel – frequently the result of negligence in heeding nature’s call.

Rachel

Staying Warm, On the Cheap

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Ah, fall.

The magnificent display of changing colors as the trees stage their annual pageant, the indescribable pleasure of leaves crunching beneath your feet, the delightful crispness in the air after endless weeks of heat and humidity; it is hard not to enjoy the magic of autumn.

Bummer that fall has to turns into winter.

Not that the winter doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, but with the advent of winter comes (at least in my little corner of the world) snow, ice, bone chilling cold and by extension, high heating bills.

I can’t halt the precipitation and I have no way of keeping the temperature above freezing, but if there is one thing I can do, it is help you put your heating bills on a diet.

Let me begin by saying that while I am all for saving money, I am not advocating that you keep your thermostat at sixty degrees, nor am I suggesting that you dress your family in hats and gloves inside the house in order to save money. And while there is no doubt that new windows or a new heating system will pay for themselves over time, they are both major expenditures that many of us are just not prepared to make at this point in time. But there are definitely inexpensive ways to trim heating bills as the thermostat starts to dip lower and lower.

Start with your windows. It goes without saying that you should keep them closed. If you have storm windows, keep them shut as well. Check for drafts and use caulking and/or weather stripping or even old towels or t-shirts as needed to keep cold air at bay. Consider hanging heavier weight curtains during the winter, leaving them open during the day to allow the sun to heat your home for free, and closing them at night to provide an extra layer of insulation against the frigid air. For the seriously frugal, consider spending a few dollars on an inexpensive sealing kit that, with the help of plastic film, double sided tape and a blow dryer, virtually shrink wraps your windows and creates an extra layer of insulation.

The same advice goes for doors. Install a door sweep at the bottom to block any cold air that might be seeping in through the cracks and install weather stripping as needed. Contemplate getting (or even making) one of those long fabric snakes to block any drafts that may be coming in at the bottom of your door. Don’t have one? Take a towel, roll it up and place it right in front of the door. It will work just as well.

Invest in a programmable thermostat. Yes, you do have to buy one and if you aren’t handy you will have to pay someone to install it, but it is one of those gadgets that pays for itself. Keep your house running several degrees colder during the day when no one is home and at night when everyone is tucked into bed, while ensuring that it is toasty warm when you wake up and when everyone comes home at the end of the day.

Remember your good friend from the summer, Mr. Ceiling Fan? While running in normal mode (counter-clockwise), it moves air around the room, providing a cooling effect. Switch it to reverse and it will take all the warm air that is gathering at the top of your room (remember eighth grade science class when you learned that heat rises?) and push the delightfully warm air back down to the lower part of the room, where the humans are.

Do yourself a favor and invest in down blankets for every member of the family. A natural insulator, they are comfortable in the summer, yet seriously warm in the winter. If you have never tried flannel sheets, the added delicious warmth they provide makes them worth considering. Cover bare floors with rugs and your toes will thank you when you hop out of bed in the morning as well. And once we are talking insulation, check with a contractor and see how much it costs to insulate your attic, which will also be money well spent.

While this might seem obvious, move furniture away from your heating sources, be they vents, registers or radiators. Do you want the back of the couch to be warm and toasty or your kids? For those of you with forced hot air heating, change the furnace filter on a monthly basis, which will both save on energy costs as well as minimize dust in your home. Decide if you want to go with replacement filters, which are extremely inexpensive, or washable filters which, while more costly, can last for several years with proper care. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when the fireplace isn’t in use to prevent heat loss through the chimney.

Sandy Eller

Germany Initiating Pro-Circumcision Legislation

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

A spokesman for German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said his office is working on an outline for new legislation that will permit circumcision of minor males after a controversial court decision in the summer that criminalized the rite.

The new law will allow circumcision with some provisos, including that it be carried out with the “most effective pain relief possible,” the spokesman said, according to AFP. Parents must also receive a full explanation about the procedure, which may not be carried out in cases where the child is ill or suffers from hemophilia.

The outline also states that, as a rule, circumcisions are to be conducted by doctors but can also be done on babies younger than six months by someone chosen for their religious credentials. That person must be as skilled at circumcision as a doctor, according to the new bill.

“Circumcision remains permitted in Germany,” the spokesman said, referring to the outlines for the new law.

Chairman of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora, MK Danny Danon, sent a message to German ambassador to Israel Andreas Michaelis, saying: “Germany’s commitment to the Jewish people and the State of Israel has been tested – and I’m glad that Germany passed successfully.”

Ayşe Demir, deputy director of the Turkish community in Germany, also welcomed the new bill. “If circumcision is banned, the practice will go underground and prompt circumcision tourism,” she said in a statement. “We approve of the proposal,” she added.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, said that the draft met many of the expectations of the Jewish community, Deutsche Welle reported. “For this the justice ministry deserves respect,” he said.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine said the ministry had sought submissions of reactions from interest groups by Oct. 1, ahead of a parliamentary debate.

Jacob Edelist

Postcard from Israel – Hatzav

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Drimia Maritima, or the Sea Squill, is known in Hebrew as Hatzav (from the word Hatzeva; quarrying, hewing or tunnelling) probably due to the ability of its long roots to penetrate cracks in rocks, and even widen them, in order to reach water or damp ground.

In Israel, this tall, impressive plant – which flowers right at the end of the summer when all the rest of the vegetation is dry and yellowed – brings with it the message of cooler autumn weather, the start of a new school year and the approaching holidays of Rosh HaShana (new year), Yom Kippur and Succot.

From late August until October the Hatzav can be seen all over the country; from the Negev Desert in the south to the Golan Heights in the north, by roadsides and even in places where summer brush fires have scorched all other vegetation.

The Hatzav is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud as a plant used to mark the borders of agricultural plots and in modern-day Israel, its status as a symbol of the changing seasons has also earned it a place in Israeli popular music, including Naomi Shemer’s Cmo Hatzav and Tislam’s “Hatzavim Porhim“, sung here by its composer Izhar Ashdot.

Visit Cifwatch.com.

Hadar Sela

Easy Weeknight Dinners

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

With loads of camp laundry to wash and fold, and school prep on our minds, we are all busy with one thing or another. No one needs the added stress of planning tomorrow night’s dinner! Look below for several quick and tasty dishes to serve the family.

Chicken & Rice Bake

It’s still August and the heat of summer is hitting us full blast! I’m hot and sweaty and the last thing I want to do is turn the oven on or have to stand in front of the stove for a long time. This recipe is quick and easy at it’s best. It’s a one-pot dish that makes for a flavorful dinner with an easy cleanup. I like ginger, however, if you don’t simply keep it out and replace it with your favorite spices.

Ingredients:
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped spinach (I use frozen)
1 cup of rice, raw not yet cooked
2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
4 pieces of chicken breast, cut into small pieces
Salt, pepper, garlic, and ginger to taste

Directions:

Saute onions with olive oil in a large pot until golden.

Season with salt, pepper, garlic and ginger.

Add the chicken pieces and cook until no longer pink.

Add rice, broth and spinach to the pot.

Cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

This dinner is tasty and fun for the entire fam! The grown ups will enjoy the rich flavor in the soup while the children will adore the mini grilled cheese sandwiches floating on top.

Ingredients:
1 container of cherry tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 can of diced fire roasted tomatoes (14.5oz)
3 cups of vegetable broth

Directions:

Place cherry tomatoes in a baking pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Coat well.

Place in oven on 400° for 30-35 minutes until beginning to brown.

Once the tomatoes are roasted, saute onions and garlic with remaining olive oil. Once golden, add the broiled tomatoes and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes and mix well. Allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender and serve with grilled cheese croutons. (Grilled cheese sandwiches cut into mini squares)

Creamy Spinach Mushroom Linguine

I was craving Fettuccine Alfredo the other night and decided to experiment in the kitchen. I wanted to eat pasta that was rich and creamy, yet lighter on calories than the original dish which is loaded with fat. I skipped the heavy cream and butter and swapped them with low fat cream cheese and olive oil. I added the mushrooms and spinach for extra nutrition and flavor.

Ingredients:

1 box of whole grain linguine
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
Mushrooms, sliced
Spinach, fresh or frozen
1 8oz. container low fat cream cheese
1 cup of 2% milk
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions and garlic in some olive oil. Once golden, add the mushrooms. Cook until tender and add the spinach. Season with salt and pepper.

Allow to cook and then add the cream cheese.

Once melted add the milk and parmesan. Combine well.

Add the pasta and stir over low heat until heated through.

Top each serving with additional parmesan.

Nina Safar

It’s My Opinion: Hurricane Season

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

The Labor Day weekend and the resumption of school are signals that mark the end of summer in many parts of the United States. Families have one last barbecue. Women put away their white shoes. Everyone anticipates the bright colors of falling leaves and cooler weather.

Florida has its own demarcation. It’s called the hurricane season, which comes at this time every year. The population invariably stresses out while watching a series of alphabetically named storms that either miss, brush by or hit our area. The feeling is one of helpless anticipation.

The news channels always have a field day with warnings and veiled prognostications of doom. Scenes of previous disasters are flashed across television screens. Reporters, donning full rain gear give on-scene bulletins, often before the first drops fall.

People are told to purchase water, canned food and emergency supplies. Stock is quickly depleted as shoppers mob local stores. Tempers are frayed.

As I write this column, a tropical storm, predicted to become a hurricane, is barreling toward South Florida. The idea that we have no control over where and if it will hit is sobering. We want to believe that modern technology has helped us to be masters of our fate. The assumption, obviously, is mistaken.

The hurricane season and all its uncertainties are actually of some merit. It serves as a wake-up call and a reality check of life.

Rosh Hashanah rapidly approaches. It is intended as a time of introspection and examination. Hopefully, the lessons of hurricane season will be helpful as we understand we are not the ultimate arbitrators of life.

Shelley Benveniste

A Different Kind Of Camp: An Interview with Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future seems to expand with each passing year.

Founded in 2005, the Center – among other activities – now educates hundreds of ordained rabbis through its Rabbinic Training Placement and Continuing Education program; sends 1,000 students every year to help communities around the world through its Experiential Education and Service Learning program; makes 60,000 shiurim of YU rabbis and others available online through YUTorah.org; helps YU students and alumni find their Intended through YUConnects.org; and sets up kollelim around the country through its Community Initiatives program.

This summer, the Center ran day camps in five Israeli development towns: Dimona, Arad, Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi, and Beersheba. Staffed by 60 YU students, the camps serviced over 350 Israeli children.

The Jewish Press recently spoke with Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the Center’s dean, about the summer camps.

The Jewish Press: What was the logic behind Yeshiva University students from America organizing summer camps in Israel?

Rabbi Brander: One of the things that attracted the campers to our programs – each one was sold out and there were waiting lists – was the fact that you had American students coming over to Israel. It was cool that they were American.

Some of these kids have lived very challenging lives; they come from poor homes, foster homes, one-parent homes, etc. I’ll give you an example. We took the campers from Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi to the airport to welcome in a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight; most of them had never been to an airport before.

Is the poverty really that bad in these cities?

There’s a significant divide between the wealth in the center of Israel and the south of Israel. The south is a very, very poor area. In a place like Dimona, two out of every three children are beneath the poverty line, which is significantly lower than the American poverty line.

One day, one of the kids from Dimona took a donkey to travel to camp. That’s what we’re talking about.

What’s the purpose of these camps?

They’re English-immersive summer camps. So, for example, we’ll take mishnayos and translate them into English.

Our other thing is that we want to build the campers’ self-esteem because they have very poor self-esteem. They’ve been told by everybody that they can’t accomplish – that for the rest of their lives they’re going to live in this cycle of poverty. But then, all of a sudden, they see – through arts and crafts, martial arts, dance, etc. – that they actually have skills and talents.

Are all the campers in the “poor self-esteem” or “troubled homes” categories?

They all come from challenging situations – some of the cities more than others. The population in Arad is nowhere near as financially challenged as the populations in the other camps. I would not put Arad and Dimona in the same category as Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi and Beersheba.

In the latter cities, we only worked with kids who were basically on the cusp of failing out of school, who are classified by their schools as being in the “Nachshon group.” In Dimona and Arad, though, we had a mixture of all different kinds of kids.

Were these campers mostly Sephardim? Ashkenazim? Russian? Ethiopian?

It’s a klal Yisrael program. You have everyone. Development towns such as the ones we were in have a lot more Ethiopians and Russians than maybe other towns, but it’s a mixture….

You’ll also have kids who wear kippot along with kids who don’t. But I have to tell you – it’s such an unbelievable thing to see – even the kids who don’t wear kippot are very traditionally inclined. For example, they’ll say a berachah before they eat or they’ll put on tefillin in the morning. It’s an interesting perspective, which I don’t think we see as much in America.

What ages are the campers and what are the hours of these camps?

Ages 12 through 16 or 17. They start at eight in the morning and go to very late in the afternoon. But our students live in the towns, so the relationship doesn’t end at the end of the day. They hang out with our students on Shabbos or they’ll join us for Seudat Shlishit. It’s a fully immersive experience.

Elliot Resnick

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/a-different-kind-of-camp-an-interview-with-yeshiva-universitys-rabbi-kenneth-brander/2012/08/29/

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