New Book Addresses Questions About Women in Judaism


Miriam Kosman will be speaking to women in Baltimore on Thursday, October 30th at 8 pm at Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion

There have been few issues that have caused more internal controversy and dissent in the Orthodox world in recent years than questions of gender roles in the Torah community.

Any discussions on this topic tend to become emotionally-charged confrontations between those who attack the Torah way as hopelessly incompatible with modern feminist-influenced thinking, and those who defend tradition at all costs, choosing to ignore the pointed questions raised by their opponents since, in reality, the answers are not always clear.


Read More:New Book Addresses Questions About Women in Judaism

The Great Challah Bake



Read More:The Great Challah Bake

ARAB ROCK-THROWERS GET CREATIVE


rocks

Arab rock-throwers are getting more creative -- in a deadly way.

In the Middle East, rocks are plentiful, free, and sometimes lethal. Since ancient times, they have been a method of execution. So it is no wonder they have been a weapon of choice for Palestinian attackers.

On the evening of June 5, 2001, American citizens Benny and Batsheva Shoham were driving home after paying a condolence call in Ra'anana. Their five month-old son, Yehuda, was asleep in the back, strapped in his car seat. As they passed near an Arab village, Luban a-Sharkiya, rock-throwers attacked. One heavy rock crashed through the front windshield and struck the baby in his head, killing him.


Read More:ARAB ROCK-THROWERS GET CREATIVE

Combating Crime: Underway!


burgaler

Crime has been a stubborn fact of life. Over the past year, in our little area of Baltimore, there have been well over 1,400 police reports, for crimes ranging from armed assaults and robbery to a seemingly unending stream of car and home break-ins.

As a community, we have been trying to address the problem for quite a few years. We have Shomrim and NWCP, aiming to provide response and patrol services. We ask our local politicians to emphasize the importance of a greater police presence.

The problem is stubborn, however. We have failed to make much of a dent, while the criminals become more sophisticated and more brazen. Many burglaries happen while the family is sleeping. Thieves prey on older residents by impersonating officials of one kind or another. It has become clear that, without taking anything away from existing organizations, there are some significant gaps that can be filled to help make our community a safer place.


Read More:Combating Crime: Underway!

What’s Your Name, Please?


greeting

This piece is dedicated to Shaya Gross, a”h, a good friend, who mastered techniques of good interpersonal relations and promoted Jewish brotherhood and unity through them.

This summer, in response to the tragedies and danger to Israel, Baltimore’s Vaad Harabbonim encouraged all of us to meet and greet people cheerfully, as a way to strengthen Jewish unity and brotherhood. There is a simple technique to increase the connection to our fellow Jews when we greet them. The following examples will illustrate.
I first saw “Chaim” in shul. After seeing him a few times and exchanging mutual greetings, I introduced myself and asked him his name. Now, every time I saw him he would smile, and I would say, “Hello, Chaim.” When I was sitting shiva for my father, Chaim came to comfort me. He commented, “I do not know you well, but felt I had to come because you always greet me by name.” Another person I got to know under similar circumstances also told me that he came to my shiva because he appreciated that I greeted him by name.


Read More:What’s Your Name, Please?

Catering to the President


obama

Let’s start by mixing a few metaphors: Ed Hoffman is slowly but surely climbing down from cloud nine. For the last few weeks, life has been an unforgettable roller-coaster ride. After all, it is not every day – or even every decade – that a caterer, particularly a certified kosher caterer, is given the high honor and responsibility of preparing the food for a visit by the President of the United States (POTUS), the foremost political figure in the world.

This is what Ed was asked to do by Howard Tzvi Friedman on the occasion of the historic visit to the Friedman home, smack in the middle of Orthodox Jewish Greenspring, on Friday September 12, 2014 (17 Elul 5774). Although the guests were not necessarily observant, the fact that the hosts are frum – proudly and publicly so – meant that every aspect of the occasion could not help being either a kiddush Hashem or a chilul Hashem; that is what happens when you are prominent and wear a yarmulke. Accordingly, every detail had to be perfect, particularly, of course, the decor and the food, which are the professional responsibility of the caterer. You can imagine the immense pressure Ed and his staff have been under for weeks.


Read More:Catering to the President

Taking Happiness to the Next Level: Twerski Wellness Institute Brings the “Three Principles” to Baltimore


happiness

Over two years ago, I began a quest for happiness. I read, thought, wrote, spoke, and dreamt about happiness. With the support of the Baltimore Happiness Club, which I founded and coordinate, I worked through just about every major idea out there about how to be happy.

Happiness is a cool topic these days, and lots of people have ideas about how to achieve it, from the mystical (Eckhart Tolle) to the psychological (Martin Seligman) to the religious (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin), and just about every stop in between.

Along the way, I’ve used myself as a living laboratory, trying out techniques and doing whatever the various authors recommended to become happier (positive thinking, exercise, meditation, breathing, humor, diet, nature, self-awareness, mantra, complimenting others, you name it). As I discovered new approaches, I tried them out on myself and the long-suffering Happiness Club (is there an irony there?).


Read More:Taking Happiness to the Next Level: Twerski Wellness Institute Brings the “Three Principles” to Baltimore

Senior Spotlight To Tell the Truth (or Not)


senior citizen

I was walking past Mr. K, last week, at an assisted living home, and he told me the news: “Menachem, I’m the president.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yup, the first Jewish president.”

How to respond to a statement like this is a quandary that confronts me regularly in my work. After all, the Torah tells us to stay far away from sheker, lies. Yet we social workers, in the course of helping people in all kinds of settings, are often faced with such ethical dilemmas. In fact, the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners, which licenses and monitors all Maryland social workers, requires every licensed social worker to take ongoing education classes in “Ethics.”


Read More:Senior Spotlight To Tell the Truth (or Not)

Honey and the Holidays: Part Two


honey

As we continue to dip the challa into the honey during the Sukkos and Simchas Torah season, here are some other honey-infused recipes to enjoy during this festive time of year. If you read part one last month, you’ll recall that, by using honey, not only are you enjoying a sweet, rich taste; are also benefiting from antioxidants, minerals, and other health-enhancing compounds. Just remember to not overdo it!


Read More:Honey and the Holidays: Part Two

Holy Days in the Good Old Days


rosh hashana

Someone asked recently how I remember things that occurred so many years ago. A good question! But, as any “senior citizen” can tell you, some folks remember things that happened “in Noah’s time,” so to speak, but are capable of forgetting where they placed the car keys!

The Yamim Nora’im (High Holidays) were practiced traditionally in East Baltimore, as they are practiced today, but they had a different “flavor.” To begin with, observant Yidden could be counted on your fingers. There was no large religious community spirit as there is today in Jewish neighborhoods. The rabbis who lived in East Baltimore in the 40s and 50s included Rabbi Forshlager, Rabbi Vitsick, Rabbi Levin, Rabbi Katznelson, Rabbi Tabori, Rabbi Pliskin, Rabbi Axelrod, and other prominent rabbanim.    


Read More:Holy Days in the Good Old Days