Meron on Lag B'omer

toldos aaron

Hi everybody, this is Leah Davidson, I was in Israel last year on Lag B'omer, and this year - of course - I will also go to join Lag B'omer in Miron. Do you wonder why I said "of course I will also go this year”? if you're asking this question, I think it’s because you have never been in Israel for Lag B'omer.And if you did go to Israel on Lag B'omer and you still have this question, then the answer is: you probably didn't join the big Hadluka of Toldos Aharon Rabbi, which takes place at the

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Three Cheers for Cherries!


Ever wonder where cherries get their vibrant red color? The secret to these red gems is in pigments known as anthocyanins, a group of compounds whose colors can range from bright red-orange to blue-violet. They are found in many fruits and vegetables and provide a protective mechanism against environmental stresses such as cold temperatures and drought. 

Nutrition researcher Denise Webb writes in Today’s Dietician that, “while the answers to how and why anthocyanins may help prevent disease remain undiscovered or unexplained, the literature is intriguing, and most researchers are calling for more studies to explore the potential health benefits of these naturally occurring compounds.”

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) website adds additional information about the nutritional benefits of cherries with this statement: “Lab studies suggest that the phytochemical anthocyanin, credited with giving cherries their notable red hue, has been recognized for its antioxidant power.” Antioxidants help prevent damage to healthy cells caused by free radicals, an unstable molecule. This destructive process contributes to the development of many diseases. A study published in 2013 in the American Society for Nutrition found that sweet Bing cherries lowered inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) for chronic disease in healthy humans.

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Full Circle: The House that Yacha Built


I often try to imagine what the lives of my great-great grandparents were like in Poland. (Or was it Russia? I guess it depends on what day of the week it was.) I also can’t help but wonder what threads tie those mostly anonymous shtetl forebears to us, living more than a century later. What is the enigma of Jewish continuity, which wends its mysterious way through the generations? My curiosity was partially satisfied recently through a new friend.

A few months ago, I became a volunteer at Levindale. My official “job” is in the gift shop, but I’ve also had a chance to meet many of the elderly residents. Though not all of them have the ability to remember their past and communicate well, many do, and have regaled me with fascinating stories. I had planned to do short profiles on several people I met, but after speaking with resident Rosalie Wolfson, who is well into her 90s, I felt compelled to write about her and her interesting family.

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Close Call: A Miracle

car in accident

Today I was witness to a miracle.

I was driving my car on Knights Hill Road from Bridgton to Lovell in western Maine, thinking about what a good day I’d had. Normally one doesn’t think happy thoughts after spending $250 on car repairs, but our brakes needed replacing and I’d gotten estimates that were $150 higher. I was happy to come back to rural Maine, where I know our mechanic and his family on a first-name basis. I also knew we’d be treated fairly and wouldn’t be overcharged.

Paul is a good, honest man. He is a U.S. military veteran fighting for recognition of his disabilities. He was exposed to very high doses of radiation without adequate protection in the Marshall Islands during military exercises. Many in his unit are dead from cancers related to this exposure, and Paul has already had several cancers. The government is refusing to acknowledge the military’s carelessness, because they don’t want to compensate the affected vets exposed during the testing. We usually discuss his latest lobbying efforts and meetings with senators and other politicos on behalf of his military buddies.

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Medicare Made Easy : Part 4: Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Insurance

health care

In my previous articles, I explained how Medicare Parts A and B pay for seniors’ hospital and medical care. Medicare offers generous coverage, but you must pay for a share of the costs as well. If you develop a condition that requires a lot of treatment, you can potentially be left with bills that total thousands of dollars over the course of the year. As an actuary, I have personally seen policies that have paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single year to cover a senior’s medical expenses. So what can you do to protect yourself from these potentially large costs? That is where Medicare Supplement comes in.

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My First War Games


Because I have lived in Kiryat Arba, Israel, for 32 years, bored Shabbos guests often ask me, “Well then! Living near Hebron you must have seen a lot of violence in your day, isn’t that so?” After recovering from their use of the expression, “in your day,” I realize that they are right in a sense. I have seen violence. Here is the story of when that happened.

In 1988, at age 33, married with one child, I did 95 days in the Israeli military, away from home, learning to be an artillery soldier. Startled to discover that I could actually learn something that didn’t involve conjugating verbs or declining nouns, I chalked it up as a positive experience and moved on. A year later I was called up for a 17-day reserve duty, including all of Succot, to guard in a prison for Arab stone-throwers at Anatot, Jeremiah’s birthplace. Then, half-a-year later, I was called up for my first five days of artillery war games, in the Negev desert base of Shivta, somewhere south of Beersheva.

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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow The Secret World of Trichotillomania


Trichotillomania sounds like a spider that you might meet in an Amazon rainforest. In reality, it is a mental health disorder that is characterized by the compulsive urge to pull out one’s hair. Trichotillomania is Greek for “hair pulling madness.” It is estimated that between one and three percent of the population suffers from this terribly embarrassing disorder at some point during their lives. If we take the conservative estimate of one percent, that would mean that three million people in the United States have this disorder!

Trichotillomania is often misunderstood, so let us examine two anecdotes that can shed light on this disorder.

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Best Friends through Thin and Thick


Upon hanging up the phone, Rochel went into her living room and plopped herself down on a chair.

“What am I going to do?” she wailed.

“What’s the matter?” her unsuspecting but concerned husband asked.

“I just got off the phone with Sima, you know, my best friend from seminary. I haven’t seen her in 20 years, and she happens to be in town. She said she wants to stop by to see me tomorrow.”

“I’m not really understanding,” her husband replied, shaking his head in confusion.

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Ask the Shachan


To the Shadchan:

I am a 26-year-old, nice, normal guy, and I am having an issue with commitment. I think the problem is that I have a number of divorced friends, and that number seems to be growing. My parents are happily married, as are my two married sisters – at least I think they are – but this divorce thing scares me.

What typically happens is that I go out about 10 times, and I really like the girl. But then, as I am getting ready to move to the next step, I start to see the bad traits. These could be a high level of anxiety, temper, putting others down, or just plain selfishness. I don’t see these issues in the beginning.

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Shalom Bayis

kids fighting

Dear Mr. Weisbord,

My married children came for Pesach, and after being together for a week, I got a good look how they are bringing up their children. I saw them screaming at their kids, punishing unfairly, and just “losing their cool.”

Both mother and father work, which they feel is necessary in order to provide for the family. Their long hours most likely contributes to their impatience, as they are always busy, with very little time to just “hang out” with their children and develop a relationship. I don’t know the details of their finances, of course, nor do I want to. But I did notice the expensive new clothes they were wearing and their constant talk about what they’ve bought recently and what they’re going to buy.

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