No Tanks!


seder plate

I was recently scanning the front page of a reputable newspaper when I came across this headline: “Brazilian Officials Searching for Stolen Items Find Two Tanks.” Yes, we’re talking about real tanks – you know, the kind that have steel treads and shoot at people. After clearing my head, my first thought was, “This country could really use a good Pesach cleaning.” I mean, I’ve come across some crazy things, but this was tantamount to saying, “I was cleaning the den for Pesach and I stumbled upon an elephant. Correction: make that two elephants.”

But putting elephants and tanks aside, the article did help me to gain perspective. See, most people grumble and groan about the pre-Pesach shenanigans that are called “preparation.” The cleaning, scrubbing, organizing, and rerouting of kitchen items tends to throw many a household into a cyclone-like environment. The dirt swirls around, furniture gets upended, and food is scarce (despite the cauldron-sized pots filled with food that are boiling away day and night). Many an unsuspecting husband has been seen wandering around in a confused state mumbling, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”


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In an Instant


bus accident

I read the headlines about the bus crash and felt sad for a few minutes. Why were people still getting killed on the roads, I wondered, even without any Palestinian terrorists around? And then I forgot about it. The news came up again – this time about a kallah being on that bus. I let that go, too….

*  *  *

I first met Avraham Yitzchak Sperling when we were in second grade in TA. That was back in 1962, when he was called Isaac. We interacted very little in elementary school. Isaac lived in the Park Heights area, and I lived on Milford Mill Road. Isaac was on the quiet side. He was very bright and seemed bored with what was going on in the classroom, and he seemed absorbed in other things – usually out of range of the view of the teacher. One thing we had in common: Neither of us was good at sports; we were not picked during recess to be part of the baseball teams.


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I Was in Brussels Airport!


brussles airport

Sam Finkel interviewed Marsha Grant in Yerushalayim on Monday, March 28. This is her story.

* * *

My purpose in coming to Israel was to look for an apartment. My husband and I are planning to make aliyah in the summer, and a couple of prospects looked promising. The only way to move forward would be to actually see the apartments. Having never been in Israel over Purim, I decided to book a flight leaving Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. with Brussels Air on Monday, March 21, with a one-and-a-half- hour layover in Brussels, arriving in Israel on Tuesday, March 22 – the day before Taanis Esther. I’d be ready for the fast, enjoy Purim with my grandchildren, and perhaps even close a deal on an apartment.


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Struggles


checkbook

Shlomo Miller was having a bad day. He played with his pen on the desk and pretended to work, trying hard to forget the events of that morning.The phone rang and he glanced at the caller ID. It was his wife.“Hello?”His wife paused. She could tell from his tone that something was up.“What happened?”He sighed. “The same thing that always happens…It was a blood bath this morning, people right and left being ‘escorted off.’ Remember Chuck?”

“Isn’t he the guy who has been there for something like 30 years?”“They didn’t even let him clean out his office!” Shlomo slammed his hand on the table and shook his head.“But you’ll be okay, right?” She tried to sound supportive, but it was hard to mask her own fear.“Yeah, I should be fine. I am pretty sure I won’t make the list.” He didn’t want to mention that he’d spent the day shaking in his boots, wondering if his turn was next. His constant absences for Yom Tov definitely did not put things in his favor; nor did being caught asleep at his desk during the second week of Selichos. It always irked him when people seemed to feel that he had it made, since he had a degree and a job. Even for him, parnassa was no guarantee. With a job like this, you still needed a high dose of bitachon. Any day at work could be your last.


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Shidduchim: It’s Everyone’s Thing Practical Ways to Help Create Dating Opportunities


shidduchim

Since our revitalization this past summer, The Shidduch Center of Baltimore has been diligently working on fulfilling its mission statement: “to create and facilitate dating opportunities for Baltimore singles.” Our goal and hope is that our renewed efforts on behalf of Baltimore’s singles will provide guidance to our community and maximum exposure for its singles. To that end, I would like to share some crucial shidduch-related points that were addressed at our two most recent educational events, allowing these gems to reach a much wider audience.

First, though, I feel it is of the utmost importance that our community fully understand that the topics and issues covered in this article are not specific to our community. We are in no worse a position than any other Jewish community. There isn’t a single community, even in the greater New York/New Jersey area, that does not face almost the same challenges in shidduchim that we do. May Hashem see to it that we are all successful in our endeavors, and that The Shidduch Center of Baltimore accomplish the full spectrum of its goals.


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The Presidential Candidates Stake Out Their Israel Positions : AIPAC Policy Conference 2016


aipac

Attending my second-ever AIPAC conference, I was privy to a different view this time around. In 2014, I attended as a delegate; this time, I asked AIPAC for – and received – a Where What When press credential to cover the annual major event. As it turns out, members of the press were somewhat excluded from the off-the-record breakout sessions of the conference, but it was very interesting to speak to members of the press – many of whom were Israeli and many of whom were also Orthodox Jews. Journalism is no longer strictly “old media” but now includes prominent online bloggers, talk-show hosts, even people broadcasting and/or publishing their own media.

This year’s AIPAC Policy Conference brought together 18,700 Israel supporters from varying and diverse backgrounds. Present among the huge crowd at the Verizon Center (the conference continues to outgrow its venues) were many minorities: members of the Christian community, labor union leaders, and many politicians, both Israeli and American. Additionally, AIPAC made note (often, and to rousing applause) of the 4,000 youth leaders in attendance, many of them campus activists fighting the good fight against the terrible, growing, on-campus evil of anti-Israel and, in many ways, anti-Semitic radicalism. There was obvious special interest at this year’s conference because of the upcoming U.S. presidential elections and the in-person attendance and speeches of four of the remaining five candidates, with the very notable exception of democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders.


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Our City Government


fourteen

As I go about my day in this election season, it seems that many of the people I encounter are much surer than I am about voting: “Of course, I am voting for so-and-so,” my friend Rivka says. “I am tired of what so-and-so did, and I want change!”

I don’t voice my thoughts, but I am thinking, what change do you want? Are you sure that the candidate you vote for can bring about that change? Maybe it’s all talk. Do you really understand the issues? Does it even matter who wins?

Our neighborhood is blanketed by colorful signs encouraging us to vote for candidates who are running in the city, state, or federal elections – and I keep reading in local publications, including this one, how important my vote is. Am I am alone in feeling completely inadequate in understanding whom to vote for or why to vote at all?


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Pesach Selections


cranberries

I am very excited about Pesach – so many fun dishes to be made! With lots of fresh vegetables, fresh fish, and meat available, it’s going to be a cooking extravaganza! Pesach isn’t a scary time, and it certainly doesn’t have to be only potatoes. The farmers’ markets, H Mart (Asian grocery in Catonsville), and Whole Foods all have an appealing variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. These can be used to elevate the very holy time of Passover to a food sensation as well as a spiritually uplift.

Most vegetables are delicious when they are grilled with a little salt and pepper. I have found you can hardly ever go wrong. And what could you top these grilled vegetables with? Onion and roasted garlic jam, I say! A friend of mine took me to Serengeti for the first time. We ordered the smoked pulled brisket with onion jam, and, well, that onion jam was delicious. So I thought, what could be even better? Adding some roasted garlic. Make a lot, and it will last the entire Pesach. Make it pareve, and you can use it with cheese and matza or with chicken, meat, lamb – just about everything. Be warned, you might just start slathering it on everything. It takes a little bit of time to cook it, but it’s worth it!


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Shidduchim: It’s Everyone’s Thing Practical Ways to Help Create Dating Opportunities


shidduchim

I am most appreciative of the very warm reception that I have been given from the community in my new position at The Shidduch Center of Baltimore. We were greatly pleased with the turnout at our educational event for parents last month, and the feedback that followed was nothing short of heartwarming. Based on the response we have received regarding our initiatives, it is clear that our community has the drive and desire to put forth the necessary effort to help our singles find shidduchim, and to be able to do so in a dignified, respectful way.

In the past few months, as word of The Shidduch Center’s renewed efforts has begun to spread through the community, I have received a number of requests from parents and concerned community members asking what can be done for their children and for our Baltimore singles. While I truly wish that I had a magical solution, and a match for every one of our singles, ready in my back pocket, I regretfully do not. Something of great value we can offer, however, are practical ideas and steps that anyone can take to create dating opportunities for the singles of Baltimore – and, of course, the strength and support of The Shidduch Center to take advantage of these opportunities.


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“It’s Around Here Somewhere” : How Tidying Up Can Change Your Life


kondo

“I laughed, I cried, I lost 15 pounds! I cannot recommend this book highly enough!” So said Stephen Colbert in reviewing his own book. Though I haven’t seen Colbert’s book, I suspect that many people feel the same way about Marie Kondo’s slim volume, the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. (Apparently, she didn’t want to clutter up the title with capital letters.)

As winter draws to a close, and Pesach looms ahead, the time is right to examine the remarkable cultural phenomenon triggered by this little book. How did it remain on the New York Times’ bestsellers list for over 66 weeks, take the world by storm, and achieve cult-like status? Has there never been a book written about tidying up before? Have we suddenly discovered that we have too much stuff and it needs to be organized? What happened to warrant the sale of five million copies of this book as well as licenses to print it in 40 languages? Is there something new under the sun?


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