Having been raised in a home where Yiddish was spoken as often as English, I can say with some confidence that I understand mamaloshen quite well. But I have to admit that the first time a friend, "Chaya" in a tentative, hushed voice, stated that a mutual acquaintance had "yene machlah," I was confused. I knew that she unfortunately had cancer, so why was "Chaya" saying in Yiddish, THAT illness? Why the reluctance to use the actual medical term for the disease. Why not just say it - like when someone has a stroke or a heart attack.
As my friend Eve (not her real name) and I started filling our plates at a recent buffet dinner, she commented that lucky for her, her mother wasn't with us.
Back in the fall of 2002, nine years after my initial diagnosis of thyroid cancer - the last four of those being told that I was cured - my doctors discovered a tumor in the area where my thyroid used to be. (My malignant thyroid been removed via surgery.)
We still have an inner voice that silently screams, It's just not fair!
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is precisely what almost always happens in situations where a reference knew someone had serious but hidden emotional issues, but did not reveal the information to the person making inquiries.
In my previous column I noted how the great sage Hillel, when asked to teach the entire Torah in the time it took for a man to stand on one leg, stated without hesitation that people should not do to others what they wouldn't want done to them - and that the rest was commentary on that point.
As we recite the Haggadah during the seder, we are introduced to the "Four Sons."
Now and then my Bubby would open up about what she went through in the camps, of what she witnessed... From time to time she would talk about her baby sisters - twins - and how she would sew them identical dresses and braid their hair the same way challenging everyone to guess who was who.
I believe that the up-and-coming generations will not live in the grand single-family homes many of them grew up in.
The Presbyterian Church USA voted to divest from three companies that do business with Israel.
A recent article that appeared on the haredi website, yeshivaworld.com, described how askanim in Israel had approached HaRav Aryeh Yehuda Leib Shteinman, shlita, armed with a kol korei against vacations during bein hazmanim. Their goal was to get his haskamah in their mission to stop bachurim from doing what they felt was an inappropriate and wasteful use of time - hiking, swimming, nature walking, sightseeing, etc. (generally vacationing from their studies).
Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.
This column is being written on my secular birthday, February 14 (my real birthday is 11 Adar), a birthday - not surprisingly - that I share with my twin brother.
I recently became a bubbe again with the birth of a granddaughter, Kayla Elisheva.
Last month, when I was in Jerusalem, I naturally went to the Kotel, a place I always felt was home, since my paternal ancestors were Kohanim.
Lately I have been hearing quiet grumblings from people who admit that they regret not encouraging their sons to get a post-high school education after a year or two of learning.
With Chanukah - the Festival of Lights quickly approaching, Jews the world over are busy planning get-togethers, preparing or buying latkes and donuts, shopping for gifts for children and adults alike and generally looking forward to having fun and a much welcome break from the daily grind of life.
She told me that she was busy and that he could sit in his wet clothes for the rest of the day. It would teach him to be more careful.
I have never used my column to eulogize friends who have passed away, as their loss affected me and an inner circle of people who knew them - but not necessarily the community at large. But that is not the case for Shimie Silver, a"h, for without exaggerating, his circle of friends numbered in the thousands and transcended borders.
With the Three Weeks and its social restrictions as they pertain to simchas behind us, heimishe Yidden everywhere are "dusting off" their party clothes, taking their jewelry out of the safe and getting ready to attend a multitude of weddings - with some people invited out on an almost daily basis.
For quite a few days in late December, Toronto was transformed into a breathtaking – literally and figuratively – frigid winter wonderland, where every twig, leaf, car door, and outdoor wire and cable was totally encased in ice. When the sun shone the landscape was blindingly brilliant as if billions of diamonds had been glued to everything the eye could see.
A letter to the Chronicles in Crisis column in the Magazine section of The Jewish Press a few weeks back (12-24-2010) greatly disturbed me. The writer expressed her opinion that many "older" female singles were not doing what was necessary to maximize their looks. She writes, as an example, that she was at a lecture given by a visiting rebbetzin from Eretz Yisrael and a quick glance at her fellow attendees affirmed her observation that many were "plain Janes" who were not trying to look more attractive - and hence be more marriageable.
"And Avraham expired and died at a good age, mature and content and he was gathered to his people." (English translation of verse 8, chapter 25, Parshat Chayai Sarah in the Book of Genesis.)
Just the other day, I was commiserating with a close friend about how my life had not gone the way I had envisioned way back when - when I was young and my head was filled with sweet visions of what would be.
I read an article recently that described the fascinating phenomenon of mainstream, well-educated, responsible men and women deciding not to have children. According to the article, these people have given the matter a great deal of thought and have come to the conclusion that parenting is not for them.