Articles From May 2015

Visiting the Mishpacha

oberstien picture

Many years ago, when I first visited Israel, I did not have any close family there, and the term mishpacha, to me, meant the Jewish people. When I visit today, it still means that, but, in addition, three of our married children made aliyah, and they and quite a number of grandchildren live in Eretz Yisrael. So, now, visiting mishpacha means so much more. That’s why, when Feigi and I heard about an incredibly inexpensive ticket to Israel –$385 roundtrip on Transaero through Moscow – we made a quick decision to go for Purim.

Who would have imagined, one generation ago, that nonstop scheduled flights would be winging between Moscow and Tel Aviv, and that you would be served kosher food under the hashgacha of the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar!

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Entangled in Anxiety’s Web


Are you enabling your child’s anxiety? Read these stories about Baruch and Rachel and their families’ efforts to deal with their anxiety.

Baruch, 10 years old, had recently seen a boy throw up in school. Baruch started to fear that he too might get sick during school hours and throw up. Every day, he attempted to convince his parents to allow him to stay home. His mother Rivka would get him out the door by reassuring him that she was absolutely certain that he would not throw up and that if he got nervous during the day he could call home. Invariably, Boruch would call home a couple of times during the day, because he didn’t feel confident that the food he ate during snack time and lunch would stay in his stomach. Rivka would again reassure him on the phone that she was absolutely certain that he would make it through the day without throwing up.

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The Key to Parnassa

shlissel challah

Year after year, I ask myself why I am doing shlissel challa. This is the custom of inserting a key into the challa dough for the Shabbos after Pesach. It wasn’t always that way.

When I attended Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, there was not much emphasis on segulos (protective rituals). Reb Yonason Eibshutz was mentioned in our Jewish history class only once as a Rav in the 1700s who had a dispute with Rav Yaakov Emden about cameas, amulets. It was explained to us that we do not use cameas nowadays. I got a similar answer about another esoteric subject. When I asked my father, Rabbi Moshe Shuvalsky, as well as Rabbi Steinberg, z”l, our principal, to explain gilgul neshamos (reincarnation), they both told me that it exists, but we do not delve into it, because we are concerned with keeping the Torah in this world.

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Ask the Shadchan


To the Shadchan:

I am recently married and living in New York. Remembering my days as a single, I have started setting up people. I’ve noticed that many men do not want to travel to date. These are mostly working guys, aged 25 to 35, who live in New York and have never been married. I have suggested women who live out of town, and their response was, “I will only date women in New York.” Some men go as far as to tell me that they will only date women who agree to meet them in Manhattan, where they work.

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Donating Bone Marrow Stem Cells – An Opportunity of a Lifetime

bone marrow

I was a kid who dreaded doctor appointments, who would go into the exam room literally shaking, the last kid anyone would have expected to grow up and become a bone marrow or stem cell donor. Whenever I needed blood work or an injection, they would have to enlist extra nurses to hold down my arms, because I couldn’t be trusted not to fight back. My mom used to joke with the doctor that I really made her earn her salary. Worse, Mom used to tease me that if she ever got remarried, she was going to marry a phlebotomist.

Fast forward to 2009. I had just started college, and there was a blood drive on campus. It seemed like all my friends were participating, but I was still terrified of needles and couldn’t see myself volunteering to get stuck with one. Flyers for the blood drive were all over campus, though, and I started to feel guilty. I knew that there was a worldwide shortage of blood and that, because I was young and healthy, I was an ideal donor. I decided it was time to get over this “baby stuff.” As it turned out, that was easier said than done.

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An Apology to my Mother


The news this past year has been daunting – that is as calm a word as I can come up with for what Israel has endured. From the brutal murder of three innocent Israeli teenagers, to the constant barrage of rockets coming at Israelis from all corners, to the land invasion that cost so many young Israeli soldiers their lives, to the new terrorist group with its far-reaching arm that has no moral values whatsoever.

Not only that, but the media reports just seem to keep coming at breakneck speed. Every minute an article is posted about a new anti-Semitic incident somewhere in the world – be it in France, South Africa, or a college campus in America. I am constantly checking my email for updates of unfolding situations.

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An American in Dachau


Seventy years ago, on April 29, 1945, Dachau concentration camp was liberated. My father, may he be well, now 90 years old, was there. The death camp was filled with Jews who had survived the sadistic circumstances under the gun sights of Nazi guards. My father’s presence there was not as an inmate but on the right side of a rifle: a young American soldier whose regiment entered the camp in pursuit of the fleeing Nazis. His war experience was from the unique perspective of a soldier, a liberator, and an American but, most poignantly, as a Jewish boy from Philadelphia.

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Shalom Bayis


Dear Mr. Weisbord,

When my husband and I were dating, we spoke about the future. We both hoped to have an open house with many guest for Shabbos, and in the beginning, we did. Then as children starting arriving, that slowly changed to one meal per Shabbos. We have a beautiful family, but one of our children is very, very hard. He is 10 years old, bright, and very cute (while sleeping), but he doesn’t listen to a word I say – not to me and not to my husband. He is very obnoxious, only cares about himself, and is mean and selfish towards his siblings. I believe Hashem gave us our other children, who are extra-special, because of this child. I do not understand how this son can be so different from everyone else, as they are all brought up under one roof.

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