Tuesday, October 28, 2014


In my private life last week I was at the height of thankfulness and joy. My daughter had given birth to a healthy, baby boy. New life is always a cause for celebration but this one was even more so. The baby’s older brother had spent the first eight weeks of his life in the neo-natal intensive care unit. Now, almost eight years and a number of operations later, he is, blessedly, a happy second-grader. Still, it was a relief to know that his brother would be able to go home from the hospital and have a normal start at life.

As a Jew living in Israel, though, I was overcome with sadness learning about the murder of little Chaya Zisel Braun, Hy”d, the same week.
To my knowledge, I do not know her family, but I know very well the spot where she was murdered. I cannot count the number of times I have stood at that same light rail station waiting for the train. I can only attempt to imagine the horror and grief the baby’s parents are having.

Monday, October 20, 2014

From Shakespeare to Rabbi Akiva

It was eighteen minutes past seven one sunny Monday morning when my ten-year-old son charged into the kitchen, his favorite pair of jeans in hand.

“Can you wash these for me quick?”

The bus for his long-awaited school trip was scheduled to leave in exactly twenty-seven minutes. 
Obviously the child had no understanding of the laundering process.

“We have a microwave oven, but they haven’t invented a microwave washing machine yet,” I answered calmly. “Go pick out another pair of pants.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Praise to G-d because He is good, His kindness exists forever (Reprinted from two years ago)

Yehudit Spatz z'l

One of my favorite set of prayers is Hallel which is recited on Rosh Chodesh and on holidays. My favorite time to recite Hallel is on Sukkot, my favorite holiday. Seeing the green lulav held next to the yellow etrog, smelling their special fragrances, feeling the excitement as the blessing is recited over them, and singing the songs of Hallel while they are held all combine to give me the feeling of intense joy. 

It is joy that we are commanded to feel throughout the week of Sukkot. (See Deuteronomy Chapter 16, verse15)  Sometimes, though, it is a challenge to feel that joy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Kindness of HaShem

He died on Shabbat almost three years ago. He was the kind of man whose compassion, good humor, and commitment to Torah made him an integral part of the community. Although we weren’t close, we considered him one of our friends and hurried home that Saturday night in order to attend his funeral.   

Those who loved and admired him gathered outside the yeshiva. It was cold, dark, and somewhat eerie. Most of the eulogies were what was to be expected, praising the man and sharing touching stories about him. His youngest son’s words, though, left me totally dumbfounded.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To My Mitzvah Observant Sisters Living Outside the Land of Israel

Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat Shuva are behind us. We’ve made contact with those sick relatives we were worried about, put our homes back together, restocked our kitchens, maybe caught up with our back pile at work, and have begun thinking about Yom Kippur preparations. After that, if all’s well, it’s on to planning for Sukkot.

You’ll be having a review of everything we did before the three-day Rosh Hashanah marathon. There are menus to plan for three days, food to order or cook, and laundry to finish so there’ll be enough children’s clothes to last through Saturday night. You’ll be concerned if there’ll be enough fruit and treats to snack on. You’ll wonder if you prepared an adequate amount of toilet paper. Did you buy sufficient Kleenex, baby wipes, and diapers? Is there really plenty of food?  What’s your boss going to say about yet another two days off now and again the following week?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shana Tova

On Rosh Hashanah eve of 1971 I was a homesick college co-ed spending my first holiday away from home. Calling my parents was pure torture, for me as I struggled not to cry, and for them as they heard the misery in my voice. Hanging up from them I lighted my candles all by myself in my dorm room.
Then I sat down to my makeshift Yom Tov meal at my desk. Afterwards, I made my lonely way across campus to the holiday service organized by Hillel, The Jewish Student Union.

A student rabbi had been brought in for the occasion. I really don’t recall what kind of job he did. What I do remember, and always will, was the student helping him out. That student was tall, with sixty-style long hair, and wearing a black shirt. He later became my husband.       

Forty-three years later I don’t eat alone on the holidays. In preparation for this three-day Rosh Hashanah I have filled my freezer full of cooked meat, chicken, casseroles, and cakes. As full as it is, there is still more to cook.  If all’s well, my table will be crowded with family, and friends and neighbors who have become like family.

I have learned that on Rosh Hashanah we keep our personal petitions at a minimum. More important is to proclaim HaShem King and to pray for the Jewish nation as a whole. My prayer, this year, is that there should be no more lonely people.  Rather we should all reach out and care about one another becoming united and able to bring the Moshiach. 

May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Was Robbed!

It probably happens to everyone sooner or later. Some are robbed at gunpoint. Others have their homes broken into. Still others lose their life savings to conmen. I should consider myself fortunate. All I lost was my wallet. And some of my trust in my fellowmen.

On the morning of the robbery I had left the Kotel and went to a place where I thought I could trust everyone. Stupidly, naively, carelessly, I left my backpack with the wallet inside unattended for a short period of time. For me it was a short period, but for a robber it was long enough to execute a theft.