Ask the Shadchan


I have been going out with a young lady, and we are close to getting engaged. She is everything I am looking for, and we talk easily and enjoy each other’s company. Something came up on our last date, however, that is disturbing and makes me question where to go from here.

The girl said, “I think I should tell you that I have debt.” It seems that she borrowed a large amount of money for graduate school. She started school, using the money for both tuition and living expenses, which is allowed by the terms of the loan. Then she dropped out during the first semester and found a job. Her family somehow spent the rest of the loan. Basically, the money is gone. Her family is not able to pay it back, and the loan is on the girl’s name, so she is responsible for it. That means that, if we get married, it will be my responsibility as well.

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Dreams Come True, Journey to Tzfat: The Aliyah of the Jacobs Family


As the bus winds its way north through green valleys and steep mountain roads, the beauty of the Galil, Galilee, unfolds before my eyes. Onward we climb towards mystical Tzfat, the highest city in all of Eretz Yisrael and one of the four “holy cities” of the Land. Alighting at the central bus station, I am struck by the beauty of Tzfat and behold the stunningly lush landscape of its surroundings. Only a short distance away are the soothing blue waters of the Kinneret, visible from my lookout, as well as the camel-hump form of the mountain upon which Meron lies, just across the wadi (valley) from Tzfat. No wonder tourists are enraptured! How pleasant it is to mill about the quiet streets this slow-paced city that has no traffic lights. Many Israelis, including chashuve Torah personalities, vacation in Tzfat, whose climate, because of its altitude, is mild in the summer, albeit cold and snowy in the winter.

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All Aboard


For some reason, optimistic people often stand out among their peers. Sometimes they’re viewed with awe, while other times, people simply find them annoying. Regardless of whether nature or nurture is responsible for their more than pleasant personalities, it is interesting to note that there is a unique group of individuals who excel in the area of optimism. The reason they don’t annoy anyone with their positive outlook is because they often go unnoticed. They are our children. Sadly, between the temper tantrums (theirs, not yours), the messes, and the squabbles, it’s easy to overlook this amazing attribute. But if we watch and listen carefully, we just might learn something.

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Dr. Jonathan Ringo’s Divine Climb to Sinai


Jonathan Ringo was six years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. No treatment was available in his native South Africa at that time. His parents contacted various medical centers around the world, and the one facility willing to chance treatment was the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. At the time of his diagnosis, the prognosis for survival for that type of leukemia was less than five percent. His mother was 26 years old and his father was 27, and people advised them to let their son die comfortably at home. They thought it was cruel of them to take their son out of the country to die. Baruch Hashem, his parents didn’t listen and, instead, brought Jonathan to Boston, where he received an experimental chemotherapy. Presently, Dr. Ringo is one of the longest survivors of pediatric cancer.

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Seminary: Go or No?


To go or not to go? It wasn’t even a question.

 I remember the day our principal came to speak to us about seminary, way at the beginning of the year. I firmly believed I was not going to seminary. I was not wasting a year of my life on seminary, I said. Besides, all the “hock” about seminary really bothered me – I mean, how they said if you don’t go to seminary you can’t be as good a wife, mother, and person. The stupidity of that really irked me, and that was the impression I got about seminary whenever people spoke about it. Like, c’mon, no one is ever prepared before they come to a new stage of life! The beauty of human beings is that we’re adaptable; we learn on the job. You learn how to be a good wife by being a wife. You learn how to be a good mother by being a mother. There’s no “needed preparation” before stages. Hashem gives us what we need. I just hated the thought that seminary was supposed to give me all life’s tools in one year, especially after I had just sat through around 18 years of school. It was because of this “impression” that, somehow, in my mind, seminary became the enemy.

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What’s Bugging You?


It’s a dangerous world out there. That’s why we wear seatbelts, look both ways, store foods properly, stay off the roof, and generally don’t hang out with lions and tigers and bears. One danger we face at this time of the year are the diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks. Who ever heard of West Nile virus, Zika, or Lyme disease a few years ago? Today we worry about them.

The good news is that we can take steps to avoid harm by these and other pests. Yes, dangers exist, but so do precautions. There’s no need to spend our lives in bed, under the covers. Indeed, the first piece of advice I hear in my quest for information is from pediatrician Dr. Rochelle Kushner (who happens to be my daughter-in-law). “Don’t be afraid to go outside,” she says. “Don’t expect the worst, but do take precautions to protect yourself and your family.”

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Dreams Come True : Journey to Rechavia : The Aliyah of the Even-Israel Family


When I think of Rechavia, my mind conjures up an upscale neighborhood in the heart of Yerushalayim with tree-lined streets, green parks, and beautiful, often palatial, buildings surrounded by neat gardens. Although but a few minutes walk to shops, hotels, and restaurants on Keren Kayemet Street, Rechavia is almost purely residential, with a mixture of both secular and religious Israelis as well as chutznikim (immigrants) interspersed throughout the neighborhood. Meni and Liza Even-Israel and their four children are one of the many families living in Rechavia, and Liza graciously agrees to share her story of how they landed there.

Liza Ferszt Even-Israel was born and raised in Los Angeles until age eleven, when her parents decided to move to Israel. Intending to make their move open ended, they did not sell their house or their business immediately. A few years later that they actually made aliyah. Since they had come in 1986, before the first intifada, Liza has happy memories of life in Israel.

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Making the Call: Preparedness and Efficiency: How to Field Shidduch Calls and Conduct Effective Research, Part 3


In the previous segments of this series, we discussed how to choose references for a shidduch resume and reviewed the skills necessary to be an effective and helpful reference. In this final segment of the series, we will consider those making the shidduch call and how one can successfully gather information that is both useful and pertinent.

Whom to Call

To accomplish the task of successful shidduch research, rather than “winging it” or asking standard, run-of-the-mill questions, it is highly beneficial to first put together a prioritized list of questions. When one knows in advance what information is most important to them, what requires in-depth answers, and what can be answered quickly or even left unaddressed if time does not allow, the caller can better create a conversation which will provide significant value and meaningful information.

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Shavuos Recipes

cheese cake

Shavuos is coming! I know, because we’ve been counting the omer day by day – each day meaningful, each day a chance to accomplish good. This counting of the omer reminds me that, every day, I am supposed to improve my character traits. Every day I can accomplish mitzvos and help people, even if it is only sharing a smile, and make someone else’s burden just a little bit less.

One of my favorite things to share is food, and the holidays always bring many opportunities! Shavuos! It is very easy to share cheesecake, it turns out. Cheesecake is an extremely versatile “cake,” but it’s really not a cake; it should be considered a custard. In fact, if you place a water bath in your oven (a pan filled with about an inch of water under the rack where the cheesecake is), this will make the temperature in your oven more even (and humid) and help the cheesecake cook more evenly.

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Jews by Choice


Tzadik Lev and Tikvah Womack were married three times. The first wedding was Christian, the second Conservative Jewish, and most recently, over two years ago, they were once again married as Orthodox Jews.

The Womacks live in Baltimore and daven at Ner Tamid. Tzadik Lev, a lawyer, is an associate at Snider & Associates, LLC, in Baltimore. Tikvah is raising their toddler and also works full-time as a school-based therapist at a Baltimore charter school. The story of the Womacks’ journey to Yiddishkeit is one of idealism and truth-seeking, reflecting that of their spiritual forebear, the biblical Rus.

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