How to Maximize your Credit Card Rewards


Once upon a time, Frank McNamara finished a business lunch in a New York City restaurant, when he discovered he had forgotten his wallet. This was 1949, you see, when people used paper money. They were paid in cash, and spent cash at groceries, clothing and furniture stores, and, of course, restaurants. (How old-fashioned!) If one could not pay for the meal, according to lore, the restaurant would force him to wash dishes to pay the tab. In the slapstick version, the waiters would mercilessly pummel the poor deadbeat.

Frank was very embarrassed but managed to work things out. He then went home and dreamed up a system where people could pay for their meal with a signature and settle their account at the end of the month. Thus was born Diners Club, the first credit card. No one at the time could have imagined that this simple fix would morph into a vast money industry. Credit cards have profoundly changed our personal financial lives, not to mention the global economy.


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Ask the Shachan


To the Shadchan,
I have brother-in-law who is a popular and outgoing person. Unfortunately, he is also a loudmouth, saying whatever happens to cross his mind without thinking. As you can tell, I am not fond of him. Lately, I’ve become aware that people doing shidduch research are calling him about me, even though he is not on my list of references. I am having trouble getting dates, and I have reason to believe that my brother-in-law is saying not nice things about me. I have asked my sister what he says, but she does not want to be in the middle.

I’m not necessarily accusing him of maliciousness. But he is not a refined person, and I can just imagine how he talks. Anyone who deals with shidduchim knows that when you give information, you need to emphasize the positive and present any negatives in a positive light. My brother-in-law just blurts things out.


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Journey to Beitar : The Aliyah of Sara Lea Baruchov


“Family meeting,” father and mother announce one fine day. The kids amble in and take their places at the dining room table. The news is revealed, and jaws drop. Hearts start to flutter, and the shock is apparent. How would you feel if you were a sixteen-year-old Bais Yaakov teenager and are suddenly told about your family’s impending departure to a new faraway country?

Sara Lea Baruchov, nee Sondhelm, now a busy wife and mother, takes a trip down memory lane and excitedly shares her story with me in her home in Beitar. Sara Lea had just finished eleventh grade, when her family made aliyah in 1993. I ask her why her parents decided to pick up and move to Israel at that point in time.


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5Ks Raise Thousands to Help Jewish Caring Network Families


I couldn’t help but think, after taking a peek into the large white VIP tent close to the Men’s 5K finish line in Druid Hill Park, that it typified the way the Jewish Caring Network (JCN) does things. No detail was spared – everything from pancakes to pizza was elegantly set up, waiting for the men-only run/walk participants that Sunday, May 29. It more closely resembled a beautifully catered simcha rather than a 5K repast.

In the tent, before the race, I had the pleasure of meeting Marlene Daniel, who came to cheer on her husband Jack, one of the 210 participants. In her role as a JCN volunteer, Marlene would drive a young, ill mother wherever she wanted to go, whether it was to a shiur, shopping, or exercising.


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Shidduchim: Stories, Sechel and Strategy


Navigating the shidduch parsha can be akin to traversing a vast forest in the dead of night with no torch in hand. As a result, decisions are made, often inadvertently, that may be counterproductive or even harmful. It is my hope to shed light on a few areas of concern that have presented themselves recently. B’ezras Hashem, these ideas, based on many conversations with those involved in shidduchim for decades, will help guide those of us who are trying to navigate the shidduch parsha as well as increase dating opportunities for our singles.


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Safety: It’s Up to You


How many of you think twice before taking a walk because you are afraid of being confronted by a stranger? Especially if you are a female? How many of you feel vulnerable, especially when you are alone, because of your advanced age and/or because of a physical limitation?

Last month, I attended an introductory self-defense class for women in my neighborhood taught by black belt instructor and president of Comprehensive Survival Arts Martial Arts and Wellness School, Jen Lake. Beyond being a terrific neighborhood bonding experience, the class was downright fun, and Jen empowered us to make smart choices.

Jen, who is an instructor at the JCC and in our community for over 25 years, is passionate about teaching self-defense and making it doable for everyone. I would like to share just some of the many invaluable safety tips and self-defense techniques I learned from her.


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Two Revolutions


Some say that if you remember the Sixties you weren’t there.

The Sixties was a time of revolution – and drugs. Although I was part of this era, I am grateful that the Ribono Shel Olam (G-d) helped me get through it without frying my brain. (Although I somehow avoided doing drugs, I did once go into a movie theater full of students and noticed a rather pronounced sweet musty odor. So I can truthfully say that, although I never smoked marijuana, I did inhale.)

The Sixties was also a time of idealism. Young people were opposed to the Vietnam War. They bundled this with opposition to racism, and expected to produce a new world, the “Age of Aquarius,” which would bring peace, love, a hatred of money and property, and equal distribution of all worldly goods. The streets were filled with protests, demonstrations, and sometimes alternative forms of expression (“riots”). It was, of course, entirely coincidental that the unrest began about the time that Congress did away with draft deferments for college students and ended when the draft was repealed.


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A Loss to our Community


We hear of tragedies every day, unfortunately. Usually, we barely pause. We sigh, say baruch Dayan Ha’emes, and go on with our lives. But sometimes the tragedies hit close to home, because we know the people well. That happened to me recently when two special women were niftaros around Pesach time. Both women’s names were on many tehilim lists, one as Rochel bas Chana Leah, Rochel Globerman, my neighbor and friend on Clover Road for the last 30 years – and one as Rochel bas Rima, my friend Rochel Canterman, who lived in Heather Ridge.

Although Mrs. Globerman and Mrs. Canterman did not know each other, in my mind they are linked, because I knew both of them well and davened for both of them. And both left this world around the same time. I thought it might be meaningful to write a little about these two special women, to give their friends an opportunity to talk about the loss that our community suffered and to elaborate on their uniqueness.


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Rabbi Shmuel Dovid HaLevi Siegel, z”l


On May 27, 2016, our father (Totty), Rabbi Shmuel Dovid HaLevi Siegel, was niftar as a result of complications caused by advancing Alzheimer’s disease, a condition with which he struggled during the final years of his life.

Even in the throes of his significant challenges, Totty maintained the essential elements of his personhood: his gentleness and humility; his courtesy and courtliness; his yiras Shamayim and bitachon (fear of and faith in G-d); and his deep connection to his Torah learning. Even when his awareness of current times was obscured by his illness, Totty could still recite psukim (verses) from anywhere in Tanach, put on his tefilin unaided, and participate in a minyan.


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Making the Grade – In Music and in Life


Daniel Heifetz, the father of Baltimore’s internationally renowned singer and voice teacher, Elena Tal, is not your average violinist. Famous in five continents for his extraordinary virtuosity, he has won national and international violin competitions; performed on stages around the world, including the Lincoln Center; and served as a professor of violin at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, among other fine institutions. Yet he is as humble and unassuming as they come.

I was honored to be invited by Mrs. Tal to attend the after-school duet performance by her and her father, to which she recently treated her Bais Yaakov seniors.


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