Monday, April 18, 2016

My Father’s Revenge

We did it! We got our seven children, their spouses and children, my husband and me all in one picture. Okay, it wasn’t a great picture. Some of the grandchildren made faces. Others were half hidden by taller relatives. Still, I was thankful to have a picture of all of us together.

All of us! My eyes keep returning to the refrigerator door where the photo hangs. As I study the dear faces I can’t help thinking of several verses from the Pesach Haggadah.

And it is this that has stood by our fathers and us. For not only one has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation they rise against us to annihilate us. But the Holy One, Blessed be He, rescues us from their hand.

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In 1937, at the age of seventeen, my father fled Nazi Germany. Thanks to a well-to-do uncle in America, and of course, Divine intervention, he and his family were among the privileged who had a country to flee to. My father was blessed with a good life, a loving wife, and one child, me. It couldn’t have been easy for him when I moved halfway around the world to live in the Land of Israel but he tried to be supportive.

In his later years my father crossed the ocean three times to attend the weddings of three of his grandchildren. He spent the last year of his life living with us in Israel. During that year he merited knowing four great-grandchildren. Since his death all of his grandchildren have married. Hashem blessed us with a number of additional grandchildren. Hence the crowded family picture and my father’s revenge on the Nazis.

My father’s story is not unique. Just as it says in the Haggadah in every generation they rise up against us. But they never succeed in totally annihilating us. The picture on my refrigerator bears witness to the truth of that statement.

As Pesach nears my heart is full of many prayers. I pray that this will be the year that when we say Next year in Jeruslaem it will truly happen and all the Jews will come home. I pray that when we open the door for Eliayhu the Prophet he will herald the coming of the Moshiach. More than anything else, I pray that this will be the year that our enemies will give up trying to annihilate us and we will truly have peace.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Virtual Hugs

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Who would have thought I’d need tissues for Grandparents’ Day at my third-grade grandson’s school! Indeed, in the beginning there was nothing to cry about. He greeted us with a hug. We saw his classroom. Then we stood in line to have our picture taken for a magnet. All was nice, not very exciting, but pleasant. And then the children were instructed to escort their grandparents to the basketball court for the program.

Several hundred plastic chairs had been set up for us. My grandson joined his friends and schoolmates on the ground. The principal stood up and with his words I began to realize that I’d made a mistake not packing any Kleenex.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Peacemaker

My composure was shattered along with the bus’s front windshield. The man in front of me cried out when a boulder fractured his arm. More rocks were thrown and as the gunshots started I, along with most of the other passengers, slid out of my seat.
Fifteen minutes or so earlier my ten-year-old son and I gratefully boarded the Shilo bus, glad to be out of the cold, dark evening and on our way home to a warm supper. There were two vacant seats in the second row from the front but my son wasn’t interested in them.
“I want to sit in the back,” he declared.
“Sitting all the way back there makes me nauseous,” I informed him.
“So, you sit here and I’ll sit back there.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

When Adar Enters Joys Increases


So says the mishna. Sometimes, though, it’s a challenge to feel  joy let alone increase it. In light of the many anti-Semitic acts this week I decided it was appropriate to repost this article from three years earlier. May we all have many reasons to feel joyous as we enter the second month of Adar.


Thoughts for the Month of Adar

“It’s so much easier for the religious,” the woman tearfully told me. “They have their faith and that helps them cope.”
My heart went out to her, the mother of a terror victim. Her son had been murdered by a suicide bomber while he was having lunch in a family restaurant. Yes, the religious have their faith and it helps them but no one has a monopoly on faith. It is not inherited nor can it be purchased in a store. It takes work to maintain it.

We learn that when the Hebrew month, Adar, arrives joy increases. Being that I am a basically happy person I always looked forward to the month of Purim. Yet, five years ago, on Rosh Chodesh Adar, there was the horrific massacre in the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva. Eight students were slaughtered in the fortress of Torah study. The whole country was horrified by this attack. I felt as if I had been personally assaulted. One of the students, Yonaton, was my neighbor. I remembered when he was born. I was at his brit. I enjoyed watching him grow up and become a serious Torah scholar at his beloved yeshiva. After such a terrible tragedy how would it be possible to be happy in Adar? Now, every year I struggle with the question from anew.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

At Least 4 Dead in Series of Shootings in Kansas

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So the headline screamed at me when I awoke Friday morning, February 26th. I was in shock. Hesston, where the murders took place, was not really on my radar screen. I’m sure I’d driven past the small town but never really noticed it. I could bet on the fact that my father had customers from there. Perhaps I’d even waited on some of them in my days of helping out at the store.

The wounded, the article reported, had been taken to St. Francis Hospital. The hospital where I’d been born, where my mother, aunt, and uncles worked, where my father had had open heart surgery was certainly part of my reality. How could this have happened in the peaceful state I’d grown up in?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Not a True Story: Inspired By Real Tragedies

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“You should have told me that Avi was getting out for Shabbat,” Rena told her sister reproachfully.

Tova shrugged her shoulders. “It was a last minute release and I’d already made your favorite chicken and black and white cookies.”

“But now I’ll feel like a third-wheel charity case.” Rena smiled wanly.

“Oy!” Tova’s hands flew to her face in compunction. “You’re never a charity case. You’re my twin sister whom I love very much.”

However Tova heard the truth of Rena’s words. She, too, had been looking forward to their girls’ Shabbat but forgot about her twin when Avi called earlier that morning. He’d told her his officer had said things were quiet enough on the Lebanese border for him to have a thirty-six hour pass. Her poor husband hadn’t been out of the army for eighteen days. Tova wondered what he was more excited about: seeing her or having time to take a long as shower as he wanted.

“You know, Rena,” Tova hugged her sister. “Avi will be spending all his free time catching up on his sleep. We’ll still have our heart-to-heart talks.”

Before Rena could reply baby Yossi stirring in his bassinet claimed Tova’s attention. As she picked up her son Tova reflected how she and Avi had always planned for Rena and Natan to be the baby’s godparents at his brit. Only their plans went awry two days after Yossi’s birth. It was Tova’s mother who told her of Natan’s imprisonment.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


“Go take a shower,” I instructed my fourteen-year-old son after hugging and welcoming him home. “Then take the comb and check your hair.”

“No,” he shook his head. “You don’t understand. I was in the new wing of the prison. They opened it special for us. My mattress and blanket were brand new. I tore the plastic off them.”

What a relief! At least we wouldn’t have to worry about lice. I studied my son carefully. He looked exhausted and in need of some tender loving care.