Articles From November 2017

“Those Boys of Yours”


It hasn’t been an easy few weeks being frum in Israel.  “Do you know I was stuck in the Central Bus Station for two hours last night and couldn’t get home, after being out of town all day, because of those boys of yours blocking all the roads?”   Those boys of mine?

“I hope your boys weren’t involved – it was a real chilul Hashem.”    No, my boys weren’t involved – they were either learning in kollel or working. But when the headlines get rough, the ultra-Orthodox are all clumped together

It would be convenient to think it was only the teenage hooligans who were involved in the demonstrations that brought towns to a standstill for several hours during peak travel time and caused such terrible anti-chareidi feelings. However, photographs and videos show some of their rebbes and roshei yeshiva as well. For them it was worth being arrested and incarcerated in prison rather than have anything to do with the army, which they feel is determined to destroy all Yiddishkeit in Israel and turn yeshiva bachurim and kolleleit away from a life of Torah.

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Oy Vay, an Unchepenish


Nu,” inquired a neighbor, “what is an “unchepenish?” He didn’t realize that asking me that question a few more times would turn him into an unchepenish! So what’s the explanation? Hare zich tsue (give a listen): An unchepenish means something that clings to you. In Yiddish we often do not translate words or phrases literally, so an unchepenish is an unwanted happening that can occur in an instant, such as an outbreak of hives or a fahrzetsteh (messed up) missionary.

Our holy Torah mentions 10 plagues that were cast upon the Egyptians. If an Egyptian could speak Yiddish (wouldn’t that be interesting!), when the plague of hail began, he would have his exclaimed, “Oy vay, another unchepenish!” The Egyptians had constant unchepenish episodes until they finally released us from slavery.

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Biz Tank : A Different Kind of Shadchan


For over a decade, rabbi-turned-business-and-marketing-guru Joel Klein has been an unofficial “shadchan” – pairing up fledgling business people with investors. In April 2016, he took his talent one step further by creating BizTank, a chareidi take-off on the popular TV program, Shark Tank. Since its inception, more than 50 hopeful vendors/presenters from all over the world – including Israel, Belgium, and throughout the U.S. – have pitched their ideas at the monthly forum.

That pitch – dramatic and nail-bitingly tense – is just the culmination of the consulting and coaching services offered by Joel. Before the hopefuls go before the investors, he and his team have already prepared them – figuring out the numbers, showing them how to evaluate their business, and coaching them on their presentation.

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Ask the Shadchan


To the Shadchan:

Thank you for your very helpful columns about shidduchim. You are the epitome of sechel. Now that our oldest son is starting in shidduchim, we are flabbergasted at all the new “rules.” It seems like a different world today than when we went out. If you step out of the box, everybody looks at you, saying you are not yeshivishe enough, not this-or-that enough, etc.  For example, calling the girl before the first date is now taboo. It doesn’t make sense that the shadchan has to be the one to set it up; we feel if you are old enough and mature enough to get married, you should certainly be able to make a short phone call. We didn’t like it but ended up going along with the crowd.

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Living Life to the End


In the previous part of this article, we discussed some ways to find purpose and peace even, or especially, when one has come face to face with the end of life. In this second part, we will offer a few more suggestions of meaningful activities to pursue. As a conclusion, we will suggest a way to rethink our attitude towards the end of life.

Words that Matter

The “conversation on the deathbed” is perhaps the most clichéd of images when it comes to the end of life. It is, however, important and meaningful, and, as we have seen of other activities, it can be carried out effectively a long time before a person is actually at the end. The fact is that many of us are not good at talking about what is most valuable to us or sharing the feelings we really want to share. There is something about facing the end that gives us both the courage and the impetus to make sure that these things do not go unsaid.

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Money and Marriage


I recently came across a question written by a young lady with a predicament that applies to many young couples. Here is her letter, followed by my advice:

My fiancé and I are in very different places financially. He is coming into the marriage with around $90,000 in loans, and no income as of yet. I’m coming in with a few years of working under my belt, and about $65,000 in savings. He lives fairly comfortably (on loans), I live fairly frugally. (I’m not cheap, but I’m definitely mindful of my spending.)

We both want to combine finances within reason, though not completely – maybe a joint account in addition to separate accounts. We just can’t quite figure out how to do it. The loans will be accruing interest in a few months, and I’d love to just pay off $50,000 to $60,000 of it right off the bat because that will save us a huge amount of interest. I know the interest accrued will be my interest too. But I don’t feel comfortable just giving away $60,000 of my hard-earned savings! (He has not asked me to pay it off, and when I brought up the idea he was not so into it.) I know this will be my husband, and in a few years we won’t know whose money is whose, because it will all be one, but I can’t grasp the concept of giving away all my savings to someone else.

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All about Annie


Another night, another practice.

Laughter trails through the rooms of Bas Melech as costumed girls run about touch-up their outfits. We are getting ready for a routine run-through in preparation for our December production of Annie. Aviva Cohen, our director, calls us together, and we begin.

How did I get here? Let me back up.

After leaving Bais Yaakov, I never thought I would find myself in a “production” involving young women of the community. But thanks to RINA, a new organization founded by Rivka Rubenstein and Rochel Ziman, I got my chance. It all started in the summer, when I saw an ad in the WWW about auditions for the play. I wasn’t sure how I felt about trying out. I was nervous, and I had never actually seen Annie (I know, I know). But I heard the buzz in Baltimore, and eventually several people close to me convinced me to go for it.

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Growing Confident Children


It’s counterintuitive. To help children succeed, we need to let them fail. This is painful, both for us and for our kids. It’s hard to watch a child struggle, especially when part of that struggle involves denigrating self-talk. “I can’t!” “I’m not good at this!” “I’ll never get it!” “This is too hard!” It’s tempting to rush in with offers of help and words of encouragement, to wipe away our children’s frustration while leading them towards successful resolution. Ah, succes

But wait. Wiping away our children’s frustration robs them of the opportunity to learn to manage frustration, and sends the dangerous message that the endpoint is all that matters.

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Visionary Reading: Quality vs. Quantity When Reading YOUR Child


10 Reasons Why Our Clients Would Come Back for More (If They Could)

  1. We “read” your child so that your child will be understood for good.
  2. Your child sees success as never before (with proven child-friendly data charts) and start taking risks with a confidence never seen before at home and in the classroom.
  3. You feel validated, as someone is there for you and your child one step at a time, and one question at a time, who is not afraid to know and continually analyze your child’s learning responses to the very root of her struggles.
  4. You catch your child’s underlying difficulties before the fight if you check our warning signs below.
  5. Your child’s strengths are uncovered so that she raises her hand in the classroom at the right time.

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Innovative Music Program at Darchei Noam Montessori


When Head of School Brocha Margolese decided to create a music program for Darchei Noam Montessori, she wanted it to reflect the integral place that music holds in the lives of Torah Jews, as part of our mesorah as well as of our daily lives. She also wanted to find a partner who understood our community and had a reputation for delivering serious musical training.

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Living Life to the End, Part 3

old sick men

Generations ago, the end of life was a part of life. At a time when people died at home, when several generations of a single family lived together, and when, unfortunately, disease was both more common and more dangerous, being present for the final days and weeks of someone’s life was an experience that most people had been through several times. While it was surely never routine, there would have been a certain rhythm to it, a sense that it was time to put one’s affairs in order, for family to gather around, and for final words to be said. The end of life was a sacred time.

Today, by contrast, our experience with the end of life is usually much different. For one thing, many people pass away in hospitals or other kinds of medical facilities, lending an institutional feel to the final period of time. Our modern medications and treatments have also profoundly changed the experience. Even as they provide the tremendous gift of relieving pain and anxiety, these medications usually leave their beneficiary unable to think clearly or communicate in the days or even weeks before passing away. And, thankfully, death is something many of us simply experience less often.

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Rapping with Rapper Nissim Black

nissim black

My first introduction to Nissim Black was via my then-two-year-old grandson, Asher Zelig Chaim. Little did either of us imagine that I would one day have the privilege of not only meeting but also interviewing the star who sang little Asher’s favorite song, “Hashem Melech.” I caught up with Nissim in Tov Pizza just a day before his recent local appearance for the Unity Havdalah Concert of the Baltimore Shabbat Project.

Nissim’s rise to stardom began way before he found his way to Yiddishkeit. In 2006, when he released his first album, “The Cause and Effect,” he performed under the name D. Black – a shortened version of his birth name, Damian Jamohl Black. The rapper and producer from Seattle, Washington, released his second album, “Ali’yah,” in 2009, after being featured on a fellow rapper’s debut album a year before.

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Dreams Come True


Life is a journey. Each person treads his or her own path, and choices must be made along the way. Will I embark on a quest for meaning? In what direction should I climb? What route should I take? For many, their individual path leads them to marry early and raise families, while others blaze a different trail. Life is not about waiting for events to unfold; rather, one must take action and strive to fulfill one’s dreams regardless of life circumstances. Every age and every stage possesses a treasure.

Why more single women don’t make aliyah was a question I pondered prior to my own move to Eretz Yisrael two years ago. It is easy to continue one’s life in the groove, to adhere to an accustomed routine of work, family, single social circles, and events. Familiarity plays a big role in many people’s lives. And so I procrastinated and continued my life in my beautiful hometown of Baltimore, waiting for the right time to pick up my feet and settle in Eretz Yisrael, the land of my dreams.

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