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OCTOBER 16, 2013 / 12 CHESHVAN 5774 ISSUE 139

IN THE

blink OF AN EYE Abigail Rose Beutler: The First-Ever Newborn to Survive Potter’s Syndrome

ORLY ZIV’S FRESH MEDITERRANEAN DISHES WITH A TWIST!

ISSUE 139 OCTOBER 16, 2013 12 CHESHVAN 5774

It’s Grape Season

Israeli Foods: Are They Jewish or Arab in Origin?

>>> PREACHING TO THE ALMOST-CONVERTED NATURAL FOOD FOODIES TAKE OUR WRITER ON A TOUR >>> BYTES DEALING WITH GROUCHY PEOPLE >>> TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES SHOULD I TELL MY SISTER-IN-LAW WHO IS TELLING HER SECRETS? >>> OUR DAYS BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY >>> MY FATHER IS A TRUE MILLIONAIRE >>> WHISK WAS ISRAELI SALAD FIRST CREATED IN ISRAEL?


CONTENTS

12 Cheshvan 5774 October 16, 2013

Features 16  Truth or Consequences

Was there a spy in my house? By Sarah Massry

20  The Clean Bill

Is there a new cure for the fatal syndrome my baby had? By Victoria Dwek

25  Marriage

Managing Mechutanim. When parents and in-laws don’t get along: one couple’s success story By Racheli Sofer

28  Preaching to the Almost-

Converted

My visit with organic enthusiasts Tania and Eddy Basch

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By Machla Abramovitz

Departments 4

Editorial By Rechy Frankfurter

6

Letters

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The Rebbetzin Speaks

ORLY ZIV’S FRESH MEDITERRANEAN DISHES WITH A TWIST!

By Rebbetzin Feige Twerski

ISSUE 139 OCTOBER 16, 2013 12 CHESHVAN 5774

10 Parshah By Rabbi Y. Y. Rubinstein

11 Golden Nuggets

4

By Basha Majerczyk

in Whisk

12 Bytes

36 The Shidduch Saga By Mimmi Kirsch

Recipes by Orly Ziv

40  The Narrow Bridge

10 Cook the Seasons Grape Season

By Peri Berger

42  Daddy’s Girl

By Shaindy Ausch

By Dina Neuman

44  Our Days

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The rhythm of our lives |

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4 Eating in the Middle East Are Israeli foods inspired by Arab neighbors or Jewish ingenuity? By Victoria Dwek

By Liora Stein

AMI•LIVING

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By Victoria Dwek

14 Debt Diary

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It’s Grape Season

Inside Whisk 2 Hello, Cooks

By Miriam Glick

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14 2 Girls on a Diet

By Basya Fruchter and Devoiry Fine


baby deserves a dinner.

Just Like Yours


Dear Readers, This week’s cover story, “In the Blink of an Eye,” by Victoria Dwek,

is not our typical “Clean Bill” article. We generally try to bring you stories about medical situations that have been resolved. This story is still in the making. We do not as yet know the final outcome.

Editor in Chief Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter

When Victoria sent me her final draft she wrote, “I’m not sure that I like the title. I’m still trying to find a better one.” I, however, told her that I loved it, as it captures what I wish to bring to our readers. In addition to providing vital information with the potential to help people, my purpose in printing the story is that I believe it will infuse hope in all who read it. It truly reminds us that no matter how dire a situation, salvation can come “in the blink of an eye.” That’s not just a saying. It happens in real life.

Editorial

Senior Editor Rechy Frankfurter Managing Editors Victoria Dwek Yossi Krausz Feature Editor Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum

Inasmuch as I found this account of a baby who is the first survivor of a hitherto fatal illness inspiring and compelling, I was awed by Victoria’s telling of it. As she relates, I was initially hesitant to ask her to write the story, as her own firstborn was a victim of this disease, Potter’s Syndrome, and died shortly after birth. But not only did Victoria want to write it in the hope of possibly saving someone else’s child, one can see that she hasn’t a trace of bitterness. She does not begrudge the fact that such medical treatment was unavailable when her own child was born. She feels true unbridled joy for these parents.

Coordinating Editor Toby Worch Copy Editors Basha Majerczyk Dina Schreiber Rabbi Yisroel Benedek

Art

Art Directors Alex Katalkin David Kniazuk

It is unfortunate but true that most of us are willing to participate fully whenever there is a tragedy such as illness or even death, but our participation in simchos is somewhat more lackadaisical. Some people have an easier time commiserating with misfortune than being b’simchah for someone else. A friend of mine once told me that whenever she’s feeling too lazy to go to a simchah, she reminds herself that if it were a funeral, G-d forbid, she would surely run to attend. Especially for those whose participation in a simchah can be a painful reminder of a void in their own lives—an older single attending a wedding or a couple suffering from infertility being present and smiling at a bris—feeling happy for the baal simchah is even more admirable. In that context, I was extremely moved by Victoria’s attitude with regard to accepting what happened to her child and feeling pure joy for the parents whose child lived.

Food

Food Editors Victoria Dwek Leah Schapira

Advertising

Executive Account Manager Zack Blumenfeld Executive Sales Directors Surie Katz Esther Friedman Europe Advertising 44 7891 297 866 Advertising Coordinator Malky Friedman

In truth, having worked with Victoria for a number of years, I shouldn’t be surprised. As most of you can probably tell from getting to know her through her weekly letters in Whisk, she is not only a remarkable and charming person but also full of generosity. It is that generosity that propelled her to share her story.

Markowitz Distribution 917-202-3973 646-247-0262

Ami Magazine

P: 718-534-8800 F: 718-484-7731 info@amimagazine.org

Thank you, Victoria, and thank you for making Whisk such a huge success.

Ami Magazine. Published by Mezoogmag LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form without prior written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The publisher reserves the right to edit all articles for clarity, space, and editorial sensitivities. Ami Magazine assumes no responsibility for the content of advertisements in the publication, nor for the contents of books that are referred to or excerpted herein.

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Rechy Frankfurter

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LETTERS

Not Your Daughter’s Duty

Your Argument Doesn’t Hold Any Water

Let highschoolers be highschoolers In reference to “My Take,” Issue 135

Dear Editor: I was disheartened when I read the article in last week’s AmiLiving, “School Madness,” regarding your statement that your daughter is “married” to her high school. Please understand that though you, baruch Hashem, have a very large family, the responsibility of caring for and raising your children is yours and yours alone. Your daughter did not ask to be born into this situation, and she most certainly did not ask to be a “mother” at the young age of 15. This is your daughter’s time to learn and grow in school (including on Fridays). I have read other articles (perhaps even in previous issues of Ami?) of a new phenomenon among young girls: Girls become burned-out from years of taking care of younger

siblings. By the time they start a young family of their own, they have no koach left, emotional or physical, to raise their own children. You call the house a “hotel” where high school girls get full accommodations: food, drink and a made bed, and the mothers are there to serve them. Aren’t all of those things that every child should have and expect from her parents? If she doesn’t get it in the home, where else will she get it? As a mother, I understand my responsibilities to my children. Hashem blessed me with children, and I will do everything I can to care for them and love them without any expectations of “payment.”

Bottled water has its advantages

In reference to “The Clean Bill,” Issue 136

Dear Editor: I agree with your writer that it is silly to pay for bottled water. But there is a scenario that you did not mention: traveling, especially with children. Whether it’s the daily carpool, the visits to relatives, or the Chol Hamoed trips, people travel. When you or your children need a drink, and you’ve brought drinks from home, the choice has been made. But what should you buy if you run out of drinks, or if you didn’t bring any altogether? There are many stores along the way, but you can’t get water from their tap. The choice becomes soda or bottled water. Which is more healthful? As far as the environment, they’ll both end up the same way, recycled or trashed. Bottled water is roughly the same price as boxed drinks and you also get a reusable container. They’re cheaper and easier to buy than reusable water bottles.

Soshie Gopin Clifton, NJ

You Are His Mother

Reader blames the stress on shopping habits In reference to “My Take,” Issue 135

Dear Editor: Today’s mothers have a much more stressful life than did our mothers. It’s because of the endless time we spend shopping. We spend so much time on shopping for stuff: hair accessories, shoes, outfits, robes, shells, belts, costume jewelry, slippers, crocs, eyeglasses, hats, outerwear and more! I feel that a child needs to be home until the age of 30 months at least. It is very hard for a child to have structure at an early age. Enjoy your little ones. These days go by so fast and they will not come back. Why should your playgroup teacher enjoy your little one when you are his mother?

Bruria Resnick

AMI MAGAZINE 1575 50th St., Brooklyn, NY 11219 Phone: (718) 534-8800 Fax: (718) 484-7731 letters@amimagazine.org

Name withheld

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encore

Behind Every Great Man The ultimate eishes chayil, Mrs. Ellen Adler, a”h

As described at length by her granddaughter in our feature article, “The Doctor’s Wife,” in Issue 100, Mrs. Ellen Adler was not only admired as the wife of the legendary Dr. Solomon Adler, zt”l—she was a legend in her own right. This week, we received the following letter:

Renee MulleR’s WinteR CoMfoRts like Roasted Chestnuts, kettle CoRn and MoRe!

december 26, 2012 13 teves, 5773 Issue 100

The

Doctor’s Wife

Dear Editor: “There was barely a Shabbos without an incident of some sort.” Ellen Adler, widow of Dr. SoloMrs. Ellen Adler, wife of Dr. Shlomo Adler mon Adler, z”tl, passed away last Friday morning here in London. >>> >>> Her maiden name was Nuss>>> >>> baum. Her family was part of the >>> >>> >>> Khal Adath Jeshurun kehillah in Frankfurt am Main. She came to Gateshead in the 1930s and was an early talmidah of Gateshead Seminary and Rav Dessler. Like her machateinista—Lady Amelie Jakobovits, a”h—she was one of the most venerable ladies in Anglo-Orthodoxy. She assisted her husband, Dr. Solomon Adler, day and night, while raising three exemplary sons: Rabbi Avraham Adler [chemist and teacher], Dr. Joseph Adler [MD], and Rabbi Jonathan Adler [rebbe in Gateshead Boys’ School]. Mrs Adler, like her husband and sons, personified the Hirschian Torah im Derech Eretz. Food Currents: the Milk Crisis oF 2012. Why aren’t We drinking it?

Issue 100 December 26, 2012 13 teves, 5773

Renee MulleR’s

Winter Entertaining The art of roasting chestnuts, mastering kettle corn, and other comforting fare

Point A to Point Plate: The jouRney of food, fRoM pRoducTion To shopping caRT

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12/20/12 8:32 PM

tRuth oR ConsequenCes Would my divorced mother feel betrayed if i asked my father to help her? the Clean Bill my dental implants Were killing me PaRenting What’s Wrong With telling our kids “because i said so”? ouR days my headcovering is confusing people. When i said yes, i had no idea What the repercussions Would be the seCond Whisk annual index look up any recipe from the past year! fRoM Point a to Point Plate the travels of kosher food from factory to store shelves food CuRRents the secret to the softest corned beef ever

12/20/12 8:36 PM

Kol Tuv, Joseph Feld In her AmiLiving article, Mrs. Adler’s granddaughter, Nechama H. Adler, described how, as a young newlywed, Mrs. Adler moved to Golders Green, London, where she stood beside her husband, assisting the doctor day and night with incredible mesiras nefesh. The dedication Mrs. Adler displayed knew no bounds, for both her husband’s boundless gemilas chasadim and his Torah learning. His patients, including various gedolim that he treated, always acknowledged Mrs. Adler’s remarkable role in her husband’s practice. “My Oma was no mere doctor’s wife. In fact, she ran the whole show. She was not just Dr. Adler’s right hand; she was both of his hands,” her granddaughter wrote. Mrs. Adler singlehandedly juggled her husband’s extremely busy practice, a job she faithfully held 24/7 for decades, all while hosting an endless stream of guests in what was known as an “open” home, and raising her sons who grew up to become community forces themselves. May her memory be a blessing.


THE

REBBETZIN SPEAKS

POVERTY OR ABUNDANCE YOUR FRAME OF REFERENCE? By Rebbetzin Feige Twerski

D

ebbie is an attractive young woman who, despite her many gifts and talents, maintains a posture and attitude of deprivation.

She views everything that others possess with an envious and jaundiced eye. In her estimation, life has not been kind to her, and she begrudges the good fortune of others as though their success determines her failures. Initially, people gravitate towards her, finding her personality appealing. Over time, however, the negative energy produced by her jealousy and general dissatisfaction with life drives them away. At best, she ends up surrounded by malcontents like herself. My brother-in-law, Rabbi Shlomo Twerski, a”h, whose yahrzeit was on Simchas Torah, offered the following insightful comment. In Parshas Re’eih there are two verses in close proximity that appear to contradict each other. The first states, “There will not be becha—in you—a poor person.” The second verse reads, “There will never cease to be a poor person b’kerev ha’aretz—in the midst of the land.” He reconciled the apparent contradiction by drawing our attention to the key words that distinguish the two verses. In the first verse, a blessing that we will not suffer from poverty, the critical word is becha—in you. The implication is that if a person looks within himself, from the inside out, he will find the richness of his being. His life will be informed by the

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treasures that reside within his person. The specific circumstances of his life, such as whether he possesses much or little, will be incidental and peripheral to his existence. His joy and appreciation of life will come from within. In stark contrast, the second verse uses the words b’kerev ha’aretz—in the midst of the land, pointing to the fact that the impoverished person finds himself in this state of being because his point of reference is outward: society at large. He compares himself and what he has or doesn’t have by external criteria, by what others possess. The perceived good fortune of those around him determines his state of joy and his satisfaction with life or lack thereof. He is in a constant competitive mode with everyone and everything around him. This generates feelings of envy and jealousy. It deprives him of an appreciation of the abundance life can offer if only he would look inward for the treasures that are unique to him. Hence, there is actually no contradiction between the two verses. The first refers to the individual who looks inside of himself for a definition of his life. The second is constantly glancing over his shoulder, checking on the status and context of others around him to determine the value of his existence. Debbie is a perfect example of someone who pursues the misguided approach of thinking that what others have is relevant to us. For starters, this attitude flies in the face of the basic principle of faith that Hashem gives us what we need for the fulfillment of our tachlis— purpose—in life. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, on a day-to-day basis,

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it drains our ability to relish the many blessings with which we are surrounded. This focus on externals can blind us to what exists becha—in our own treasure house. To this end, I have recommended a consciousness-raising exercise that I find helpful. On Friday nights, when we usher in the Shabbos with the lighting of the candles, women traditionally pray for the well-being of their loved ones. In addition to the many requests on our own behalf as well as on behalf of our children and friends, I importune Hashem to not only bless me and mine, but also to help me appreciate the many blessings with which he has already gifted me. I do not wish to fall into the “Debbie” trap, and focus on the darkness, although it exists in all of our lives. I don’t want the brilliance of the sun to elude me. I recognize my G-d-given power to create the energy that will shape the context of the lives of all entrusted to me and those whose lives I touch. And I pray for Hashem’s assistance that I remain mindful not of the b’kerev ha’aretz approach, but of the becha outlook for the coming week.  Rebbetzin Feige Twerski is the mother of 11 children and many grandchildren, whose number she refuses to divulge. Alongside her husband, Rabbi Michel Twerski, she serves as Rebbetzin to her community in Milwaukee, and counsels people all over the globe. The Rebbetzin is a popular lecturer, speaking on a wide variety of topics to audiences in America and overseas. She is the author of Ask Rebbetzin Feige and, more recently, of Rebbetzin Feige Responds.


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PARSHAS VAYEIRA // By Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein

BRACHOS, NOT BUMPS AND BRUISES

A

young lady came to see me with her parents about a year ago. Ten years earlier, her doctor told her she was unable to have children, just like Sarah Imeinu, whose many journeys with her husband begin in earnest in this week’s parshah. People had been suggesting all sorts of matches for her: men with mental illness, men with terminal illness and men with deformities. After all, most people think it’s such a simple thing to put two people together, like Avraham and Sarah. Avraham and Sarah were the perfect shidduch. They were both, after all, as the Talmud explains in Yevamos, unable to have children. Two nebachs! Surely a perfect match! Later, Hashem intervened and Avraham and Sarah went on to have the brachah of a child. I put the young lady I’d met in touch with my daughter-in-law, who is an embryologist in Yerushalayim. It turned out that the medical diagnosis she was originally given was old and out of date. Medical advances mean that, just like Sarah, she too could have children. But even without major health complications, matchmaking is a tricky business and a very serious responsibility. Just as someone in need of a major operation consults the most skilled surgeon, not just anyone can make shidduchim. Once, at an “Ask the Rabbi” session I recently attended, the question came up about the “Shidduch Crisis.” Before I could answer, a lady leapt to her feet. “The problem exists because of all of you!” she declared, pointing at the two hundred or so Jews in the room. “If everyone here would work on introducing people, there would be no shidduch crisis!” So it’s as simple as that? Not according to the Talmud, which tells

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“If someone was ill and fell down beside you, would you not try to help?” the story of a non-Jewish queen who decided that she could be as good a matchmaker as Hashem, Who makes shidduchim all day long. She matched and married all her servants to each other, and in the morning discovered that they all had bumps and bruises. In marriage, it’s not as simple as putting a man and a woman together. The lady did not like my answer. “This is a real crisis!” she argued. “If someone was ill and fell down beside you, would you not try to help?” “No!” I answered. In fact, in such situations, by trying to help you could make matters worse. By moving someone in the wrong way, you might even kill him. You call Hatzolah or 911 so that the people who know what they are doing arrive and help. The same goes for something as important as shidduchim. Everyone is welcome to make suggestions, as long as they consult with an expert to see whether the idea is good or bad. A wise rebbetzin once told me that she went to see a tzaddekes in Yerushalayim

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to discuss the sort of man she was looking for. “I am artistic,” she said, “and I need someone who is also artistic.” The tzaddekes disagreed. “No, you don’t. You need someone who appreciates you and will allow you to be artistic. He doesn’t have to be artistic himself.” Mesilas Yesharim (The Path of the Just) points out that one of the favorite tactics of the Satan is to get us to act without thinking through what the consequences of our actions might be. When we rely on our own human wisdom, we’re bound to get ourselves into trouble. Hashem is the ultimate shadchan, and only a select few people are wise and experienced enough to help bring His matches together. Make sure to find someone qualified to help, and you’ll make shidduchim that end with brachos, not bumps and bruises. n Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein is an author of eight books, and an international speaker and Gateways lecturer. He teaches at Machon Basya Rochel, in Lawrence, NY.


GOLDEN NUGGETS // By Basha Majerczyk

A LITTLE PERSUASION NEVER HURT

T

here was once a Jewish innkeeper who fell seriously behind on his rent. After several months of missed payments the poritz was running out of patience. If the Jew didn’t come up with the money soon, he and his family would be thrown out onto the street. Not knowing what to do, the man went to his Rebbe, Rabbi Tzvi of Dolitin, and asked for a blessing. “Go to Nadvorna,” his Rebbe advised him, “and seek out someone by the name of Reb Bertzi. He will surely help you.” The man traveled to Nadvorna and asked everyone in town where the tzaddik Reb Bertzi lived. “There’s no one here by that name,” he was told. Undeterred, he continued his search; if his Rebbe told him that he existed there was no doubt in his mind that it was true. “You’re wasting your time,” all the villagers insisted. “There’s no tzaddik in Nadvorna named Reb Bertzi. (In fact, before Rabbi Yissachar Ber of Nadvorna was revealed as a miracle worker he was a melamed of small children.) Finally, the name rang a bell in the mind of one local. “Actually,” he said, “there’s a melamed here who goes by that name. Maybe he is the person you’re looking for.” The innkeeper went to Reb Bertzi and poured out his tale of woe. “My family

and I are about to be evicted,” he wept. “My Rebbe, Rabbi Tzvi of Dolitin, told me that you could help.” “Me?” Reb Bertzi said. “How could I possibly help you? You must be making a mistake.” But the man insisted that he had come to the right address. “If my Rebbe sent me to you, it means that you have the power to bring salvation.” “In that case,” Reb Bertzi conceded with a sigh, “I insist that you be my houseguest. Please accept my invitation for the night, and we’ll see what we can do about the poritz in the morning.” To his surprise, the next day Reb Bertzi informed his guest that everything

fate, yet another messenger arrived and pounded on the door. Finally finding him at home, he immediately spirited the poor Jew off to the poritz’s manor. “Where have you been?!” the poritz demanded as he was being led in. “I’ve been looking for you all day!” “Sir,” the innkeeper replied, “it is a Jewish custom that whenever a Jew finds himself in trouble, he goes to a holy man to pray for him. That is why I was out of town.” “And what exactly did this holy man look like?” the poritz wanted to know. The Jew described Reb Bertzi of Nadvorna’s appearance. The poritz paled, unbuttoning his shirt

“You can go home now,” he said. “The poritz is no longer a threat.” had already been taken care of. “You can go home now,” he said. “The poritz is no longer a threat. He won’t do anything to harm you.” The Jew went home happy, grateful that the situation had been resolved. As soon as he arrived, however, he found his wife in a tizzy. The poritz, she told him, had been sending messengers to the house since early dawn, insisting that her husband come to see him at once. The man and his wife were terrified. It was the moment of truth; the poritz had obviously despaired of ever getting paid and was forcing them to leave. As they were standing there bemoaning their

and rolling up his sleeves. The Jew was shocked to see that the poritz’s entire body was black and blue, covered with marks and bruises. “Last night,” the poritz told him, “I was visited by a Jew fitting your description. He warned me to forgive your debt and proceeded to beat me mercilessly. If I didn’t, he threatened, he promised to return tonight to finish me off! “You have my word,” the poritz continued, wiping his brow, “that your debt is forgiven. You don’t owe me a penny! I ask only one thing: Please go back and tell that man what I have done so he’ll leave me alone!” n

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BYTES

// Morsels of Wisdom, Wit and Practical Advice By Chaya Silber

DEALING WITH A GRUMP

Four ways to handle that difficult person One of the worst things to have to tolerate is a whining, complaining person. A study by leadership development training company Fierce, Inc. proves that negativity outweighs gossiping, laziness, and meanness as the worst trait in a person. Here’s why: “Negativity leads to reduced productivity and engagement,” said Halley Bock, CEO and president of Fierce. “Organizations must foster accountability by addressing attitudinal issues as soon as they arise.” Here are some tips on how to handle constant negativity. CONFRONT THE ISSUE: Talk to the offender (or have someone else do the job) ASAP. Don’t assume the problem will go away on its own. Explain how his or her attitude creates a negative atmosphere and is harmful to others. Offer the number of a good

HEAD IN THE CLOUDS?

There’s no need to rush back to Earth You know the type: the kid who loves to daydream. His or her mind is a million miles away. Such a student is every teacher’s bane, often punished for his wandering mind and labeled as a failure. In fact, a 2010 Harvard study linked spacing out with unhappiness, concluding that “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” In a stunning new development, researchers have found that far from being lazy, daydreamers are more likely to engage in meaningful occupations, and to fulfill their deepest desires. According to Scott Barry Kaufman, NYU psychology professor and author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, we need a new definition of intelligence: one that includes our innermost dreams.

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therapist, or cleaning service, or whatever the person lacks. BE NICE: Few things disarm a negative, grumpy person as much as a smile and genuine interest in their lives. Sometimes all this person needs is a listening ear and the knowledge that she is valued. NASTINESS IS CONTAGIOUS: If the negativity doesn’t stop, treat the complainer like you would someone with a contagious disease. Stay as far away as you can. If that is physically impossible, consider the next step. TIME TO LOOK ELSEWHERE: It’s hard to live with constant complaining and whining. Perhaps finding a new job, friend or shopping buddy might be the only solution. After all, you don’t want to spend the most productive hours of your day in a toxic environment.


PUTTER

AROUND

the

HOUSE

“We all have goals and dreams in life—things we want to accomplish out there in the real world,” Kaufman explained. “And while the kinds of skills that are measured on IQ tests are important, there are so many more characteristics that come into play in helping us to reach those dreams and goals.” Our traditional standards of intelligence, says Kaufman, don’t include those who excel in “spontaneous cognition,” or sudden bursts of intelligence. Often, these creative bursts come from daydreaming, from being more in touch with the subconscious mind. “We tend to think of smart people as those who learn really quickly and do well on IQ tests,” Kaufman says. “I felt like so many people were being judged as stupid too quickly, entirely based on these scores… I wanted to look at what happened when we get these students really engaged in something that’s personally meaningful to them.” So if your child tends to daydream instead of buckling down, don’t write him off as a failure yet. You’ll still see lots of nachas someday.

PINOCCHIO’S TEXTS

How to spot a liar, LOL

Once upon a time, when people spoke mainly on the phone, it was simpler to catch someone lying. Their mannerisms, long pauses and voice would give them away. With texting, it’s a lot more challenging to catch the whopper. Yet there are some clues. A Brigham Young University study finds that when people lie while texting, they take longer to respond, do more editing, and write shorter responses than usual. “Digital conversations are a fertile ground for deception because people can easily conceal their identity and their messages often appear credible,” says Tom Meservy, BYU professor of information systems. “Unfortunately, humans are terrible at detecting deception. We’re creating methods to correct that.” According to Meservy, humans can accurately detect lies about 54 percent of the time—which is only a bit more than half the time. It’s even harder to tell when someone is lying through a digital message, because you can’t hear them or see their expression. Meservy and colleagues at several universities created an experimental instrument that tracked possible cues of online lying. More than 100 students had conversations with the computer, which asked them 30 questions each. The participants were told to lie in about half of their responses. The researchers found responses filled with lies took 10 percent longer to create and were edited more than truthful messages. Duh! 1 2 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

GETTING

CLEANER CLOTHES

Tips on using your washer and dryer properly NOT ALL STAINS ARE CREATED EQUAL Treat protein-based stains, such as sweat and food stains, with a cold rinse first, to prevent them from setting. BLEACH IS YOUR BUDDY (WHITE LOADS ONLY) The white cycle on your machine is designed to work with bleach, adding an extra rinse at the end of a wash to get the chlorine smell out. If you don’t use bleach, you’re just wasting water. DON’T IGNORE THE “HE” LOGO Does your washer have the “HE” (high efficiency) logo on it? (Most front-loaders do.) It’s worth buying high efficiency or concentrated detergents, which do the job with about a quarter of the suds. STOP THAT CYCLE! Drying bulky items? Open the dryer halfway through to smooth out your towels and sheets. It takes only a few minutes, and this will shorten the drying time. CLOGGED VENTS? SOS A dryer with clogged vents is like a refrigerator without a gasket. Empty your lint trap after every load, check your dryer vent frequently and replace your hoses every five years.

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true s ’ e l p ou ir One c y of the ver stor to reco ial ggle stru om financ fr ter disas tein

aS r o i L By

Diary

Recap: Liora starts a part-time job. Tzvi suggests cutting the kids’ tutoring, feeling the need to make drastic cuts after Yom Tov drove up their expenses. Instead they agree to put couples’ therapy on hold. Tzvi promises good news soon.

Part 9: Winds of Change

“Can you bring me a tea?” Tzvi asks, lying helpless on the couch. He looks miserable, sweaty hair matted on his forehead and the glassy watery eyes of someone with a bad cold. “Peppermint with honey,” he adds as I walk downstairs. It’s the second time Tzvi’s been sick in two weeks. I feel so alone, like I have no backup. I cannot crumble, because there’s no one to catch me. My mother lives out of town, my in-laws are older. I’ve been up too late again: not just marking quizzes on the Industrial Revolution but also doing graphic design—another way to supplement our income. Working hard feels rewarding; still I’m exhausted. A twinge creeps up my left shoulder when I reach for the mug and tea. The adage “A mother doesn’t have the luxury of getting sick,” is repeating in my head, and I am cranky. The honey drips on the stone counter as I squeeze it into the twelve-ounce Dixie hot cup filled with peppermint tea. I find a plastic lid and shlep the tea to the living room. Trudging back to the kitchen, I make myself a pot of coffee. I’d climbed into bed at 4 a.m. after sending a logo to my newest client. As I wait for the water to boil, the bus honks and the kids are on their way.

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Tzvi calls me over to tell me the good news. He’s glued to his Blackberry, trying to keep up with work emails despite taking a sick day. “It went through,” he tells me. “We’re closing today.” “The mortgage refinancing?” I ask. “Yup,” Tzvi says, smiling. “It’s great news. This month’s mortgage payment is included in the closing.” “A break, finally.” I sit down in the chair next to the couch, sipping my hot coffee. “We need the cash,” Tzvi explains as he takes a tissue. “Yes,” I say, straightening the table from the breakfast rush. “We should pay more than the minimum on the credit cards this month. Make some progress,” Tzvi continues. The mail drops through the slot, startling both of

Hidden beneath a catalog, there’s another treat: my first paycheck from school. It feels like somehow we’re going to make it.


BUDGET SPREADSH EET HOME-RELATED Mortgage Second Mortgage Utilities Cleaning and Babysitting

CURRENT EXPENSES

ACTIONS WE WILL TAKE

$3,OOO Refinance $3OO $675 Turn off lights $72O

EDUCATION Tuition $3,6OO Tutoring $48O FOOD Groceries $1,9OO Restaurants $2OO

Negotiate with school. This is a must.

Water filter & meet with expert. Eliminate this.

OUR PLAN $2,8OO $3OO $6OO

$3OO $675

$12O

$6OO

$72O

$1,OOO

$2,6OO

$24OO

$O

$48O

$18O

$4OO

$1,5OO

$2,OOO

$2OO

$O

$1OO

$7OO $2OO

$7OO $5OO

$O $3OO

$18O $190 $1OO

$18O $189 $1OO

HEALTH Doctor Co-pays $6O Couples’ Therapy $O $6O $48O Remove this until we $48O $O can afford it as nee OTHER ded. Clothing Need to figure out Miscellaneous what’s going on ATM Withdrawals and make a plan to fix it

Maaser

$12O

WHAT WE REALLY SPENT

$4OO $O $75

Need this.

CREDIT CARDS Payments $7OO Finance Charges $5OO Refinance/ home equity CAR AND COMMUTI NG Gas Car Insurance MetroCards

WE CAN SAVE

Ask a Rav.

$O

$18O $189 $1OO

$3O $24O

$1,5OO $45 $2OO

$O $12O $12O TOTAL EXPENSES $13,4O5 NET INCOME $1O,429 $8,5O5 Liora to get job $8,799 $1,5OO $1O,OO5 $9,7O5 (didn’t get paid yet) MONTHLY SHORTFA LL (4,899) (424) $926 Monthly Credit Card Debt Growth - $3,O OO ; Cur ren t Credit Card Debt $1,9OO; Current Sav $53 ,OOO; Monthly Savings ings Remaining - $3,6 OO; 4O1k - $25,OO Reduction O

us. I go to pick it up. It’s nice having Tzvi’s company during the day, I think, before pushing that thought away. I am so grateful he has a job. There’s an envelope from the girls’ school addressed to Tzvi. He opened it to find another reprieve: the tuition board approved the reduction. “Wow, Baruch Hashem,” Tzvi exclaims. “What a relief.” Our tuition bill just went down by $1,200. A miracle. Hidden beneath a Lands’ End catalog, there’s another treat: my first paycheck from school. It feels

like somehow we’re going to make it. I finish up my lesson plan and get dressed for class. I can’t erase the black under my eyes, even with two layers of concealer. “Have a great day, Liora,” Tzvi calls from his perch on the couch. “You look great!” As I slide out the door, my neighbor’s standing on her porch and quietly reminds me to remove last night’s mascara. I smile, and nod, rushing, not sure how to answer. Does my neighbor need to know that I’m juggling two part-time jobs? n  To be continued... 1 2 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

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15


TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

Spy a

in the

House AS TOLD TO SARAH MASSRY

I was slightly intimidated by Blanca. But was my cleaning lady really spying on me?

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I

t really is true—it’s hard to find good household help these days. When my sister-in-law Leah called me one afternoon, I knew she had something specific to discuss; the nature of our relationship is such that she does not generally call for friendly chats. After a few minutes of cordial conversation about the kids, back-to-school shopping and the upcoming upsherin she was planning, she said she had something important to ask me: “Are you still looking for a cleaning lady?” I sure was! My housekeeper had recently left the country and I was getting desperate. I was overjoyed, and thanked Leah for thinking of me. “But I only need someone part-time,” I added, “just a couple of times a week.” “Perfect!” she exclaimed “Then we can share Blanca.” “Who?” “Blanca. I was the one who originally ‘discovered’ her,” she continued. “It’s a long story, but the point is that I want her to stay in the family. I don’t want her to get busy with too many outside jobs and drop me, because she’s truly fantastic—the best cleaning lady I’ve ever had. She’s prompt, thorough, honest and an excellent worker. I’m willing to share her with you because I feel that I can trust you.” “Sounds great!” I said, so grateful to my sister-in-law for coming to my rescue. Leah reiterated her request to keep our arrangement quiet and stated once again that she trusted me. We worked out a schedule and my whole future suddenly looked brighter. I couldn’t wait until the following Monday, when Blanca would be coming to my house for the first time. “Well, I have to hand it to Leah,” I told my husband later that day. The truth is that I’d often felt threatened by her. I knew that most of my anxiety was self-generated, but Superwoman Leah was so über-competent. She was such a consummate balabusta that she gave me a complex. This time, though, she had really come through for me. That Shabbos I hosted a large crowd and didn’t quite get around to cleaning up. Why scrub the kitchen when I was expecting Blanca to swoop in and work her magic? Then on Sunday my kids made a royal mess, but I didn’t care. “Blanca’s coming on Monday,” I kept telling myself with a smile. I slept peacefully that Sunday night, in anticipation of my savior. There was loud pounding on my front door the next morning. As predicted, Blanca had arrived bright and early. I did a double take; Leah had neglected to mention that Blanca was such a flamboyant dresser. Nonetheless, I welcomed her in my home like a long-lost relative, and within minutes I was at the stove frying two sunny-side-up eggs for her breakfast. What won’t we women do to keep our housekeepers happy and content? It turned out that Blanca had a very loud speaking voice. She

was also rather bossy and opinionated. Within her first hour in my home she insisted on rearranging my pantry; the way I had it presently arranged was “no good.” I agreed with Blanca wholeheartedly and helped her reorganize according to the new system. I had wanted her to start with the kitchen (the mess was getting on my nerves), but she insisted that it didn’t make sense until the kids left for school. Hey, just who was the boss around here? Blanca, I quickly realized. But as Leah had told me, she really was an amazingly hard worker, so it didn’t quite matter if she cleaned the kitchen now or later. Next thing I knew, she sent me scurrying off to the market to buy some of her favorite cleaning supplies. But it was all worth it: the whole house was sparkling when she left. In fact, it was probably the cleanest it had ever been. Oh, and Blanca had one other admirable quality: She was an honest person, which is something that is very important to me. Recently, my friend’s skirt mysteriously disappeared. She confided in me that she was almost certain that her cleaning lady was the culprit. “But,” she added, “she’s so good that I’m going to keep her anyway!” Well, mine was good, and she didn’t steal. She was perfect—or so I thought until the next time she came to my house. Blanca was preparing to leave for the day when I discovered another one of her traits: She was a yenta—a full-fledged blabbermouth. “Do you know Reeky?” she asked me. I nodded. I assumed she was referring to Leah’s close friend, Rivky. She was also in on the Blanca arrangement. “She is moving!” announced Blanca triumphantly. “Really?” I asked. This was news to me; Blanca had piqued my curiosity. “They bought a house on a different block,” she said. “She won’t live next door to Leah anymore. She needs a bigger house.” Blanca shook her head and continued. “But the big house will not be good for her. She can’t even keep a smaller one clean. And Leah is very sad; she will miss her friend. She likes Reeky a lot.” Once on the topic of Leah, Blanca smiled at me conspiratorially. “I like working here better than at Leah’s house,” she told me. I smiled smugly; the compliment was rather nice. “Why is that?” I asked, curious. I couldn’t control myself. I had to know. “Her house is so noisy!” she said. “Her kids don’t always listen to her. I get headaches sometimes.” I almost laughed out loud. This was certainly an interesting piece of information! That afternoon, when my sons began squabbling with each other, I wasn’t that concerned. After all, according to Blanca, Leah’s little darlings also made a ruckus from time to time. A couple of days later I noticed six missed calls from 1 2 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

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TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

Blanca. For some reason, the ringer had been turned off on my telephone. “Oh, no!” I exclaimed. “I hope nothing’s the matter!” I immediately called her back but she didn’t answer the phone. “Don’t worry about it,” my husband reassured me. “I’m sure she’ll contact you if it’s important. Besides, today is Friday; it’s not your day. You’ll ask her what she wanted on Monday.” I wasn’t reassured; men don’t understand cleaning ladies, so I kept on trying. The truth is that I was afraid of messing around with Blanca. I had no desire to incur her wrath. She finally returned my phone call later that morning. “Where is Leah?” she demanded. “I have no idea,” I said. It was the truth. My sister-in-law is an exceptionally private person. Even if she had gone somewhere, she certainly wouldn’t have mentioned it to me. “Are you sure she isn’t home?” I asked. “I knocked on the door for 15 minutes!” Blanca bellowed. “It’s too quiet—it doesn’t sound like anyone is inside. But she didn’t tell me she was going away! And she’s not answering her phone!” “Let me try,” I said. I dialed Leah’s number a couple of times but no one picked up. It really was weird. How could everyone have disappeared? Luckily, I only had to wonder over the weekend. On Monday morning, Blanca arrived and gave me a complete rundown. “They went to a fancy hotel,” she informed me. “With a fancy swimming pool.” I smirked. The mystery was solved. “They had a very nice weekend,” Blanca continued. “But I’m upset because she forgot to call me and cancel.” She shook her head. “It’s not nice. She is not responsible. She forgets to call me sometimes. She offered to pay me anyway, but I wouldn’t take the money.” Well, this was news to me. I guess my super-together sister-inlaw wasn’t as together as I thought she was. The next time I met Leah, I mistakenly asked her how her Shabbos was. She eyed me suspiciously and mumbled something to the effect of “really nice.” There are certain things that happen around the kitchen table that one would prefer go no further. I am not a bad person, and I don’t have any real skeletons in the closet, but the state of my

linen closet is not something I’m especially proud of. I certainly wouldn’t want it to be brought to the attention of my sister-inlaw. Over the next couple of months I continued to hear snippets of personal information about Leah. At first I questioned Blanca’s reports, but then I reminded myself of her honesty: there was no way she was making this stuff up. At a certain point, it started to make me uncomfortable. This was getting out of hand. We wanted to keep Blanca in the family, but there was something about the situation that seemed unhealthy. Then it hit me: maybe it was a two-way street. Was Blanca spying on me as well? It is said that the true measure of a person’s character is how he acts towards his own family, and no one was as privy to as much of my family life as Blanca. So while I tried my best to be discreet I wondered: How much of my personal life had she picked up on? And how much of it had been passed along? I became increasingly uncomfortable in Blanca’s presence, and even a little nervous. Was Leah aware (or, G-d forbid, the entire neighborhood) of how much I yelled at my kids? Did she know about the argument I got into with my mother-in-law (not one of my proudest moments)? Or the worst possible scenario: Was it possible that Blanca had overheard me talking about Leah to my husband? I sure hope not. In the meantime, I am still trying to contend with all the personal information about my sister-in-law that was so nonchalantly passed along. Should I open my mouth and tell her about Blanca’s yentish tendencies? When Leah offered to share her cleaning lady with me, she felt that she could trust me. If I say something, she might get angry and accuse me of prying into her personal life. Short of passing along my copy of the sefer Chofetz Chaim to my cleaning lady, I don’t know what to do. Should I ask Blanca to exercise more restraint in her storytelling? Unfortunately, though, I feel that it’s my problem, not hers. Perhaps I should never have listened to her to begin with. n

MY SISTER-INLAW WAS THE CONSUMMATE BALABUSTA. SHE WAS SO ÜBERCOMPETENT THAT SHE GAVE ME A COMPLEX.

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To submit your story for this column or to have your story featured here, please contact us at submissions@amimagazine.org.


THE CLEAN BILL // Real People on the Quest for Health

BY VICTORIA DWEK

IN THE BLINK

OF AN EYE


POTTER’S SYNDROME IS ALWAYS FATAL—AND IT WAS FOR MY CHILD EIGHT YEARS AGO. NOW US CONGRESSWOMAN JAIME HERRERA BEUTLER (R-WA) GIVES BIRTH TO THE FIRST BABY EVER TO SURVIVE THE DIAGNOSIS. DOES THIS MEAN THERE’S A CURE? OCTOBER 2004

I thought it would take only 25 minutes to get there. It always took 25 minutes to get anywhere in Lakewood from Deal; Lakewood wasn’t so big in 2004. I didn’t imagine that Lakewood Medical Imaging could be so far down Route 9, and that there would be so much traffic and so many red lights. When I finally got there—20 minutes late for my first sonogram appointment— the receptionist curtly said that they couldn’t take me. I would have to reschedule. There was a flight of stairs behind the chairs in the waiting room, and I sat down there and cried. I had anticipated this for so long and was so excited and could not wait another moment. I was not going to leave. It’s ironic that I cried then. I had nothing to cry over but a wasted trip…and my own impatience. My husband finally convinced a technician to take me. But my anticipation was all for nothing. I couldn’t see anything in the sonogram. Just a blur.

SEPTEMBER 2013 I received an e-mail.

From: Rechy Frankfurter <rechy@amimagazine.org> Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2013 12:37:46 -0400 To: Victoria D<victoria@amimagazine.org> Subject: You once wrote about the loss of your first child. Do I remember correctly that it was it to Potter’s Syndrome? From: Victoria Dwek <victoria@amimagazine.org> Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2013 12:48:15 -0400 To: Rechy Frankfurter <rechy@amimagazine.org. Subject: Yup, exactly. From: Rechy Frankfurter <rechy@amimagazine.org> Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2013 12:51:38 -0400 To: Victoria D<victoria@amimagazine.org> Subject: Did you see the reports about the congresswoman whose child is the first survivor of Potter’s Disease?

Would you want to write about it, or too painful?

Painful? No, not at all. I never feel sad discussing my first baby. Rather, it makes me remember how blessed I am with the children Hashem gave me so quickly afterwards. And I’m not an emotional, sensitive person. I think that baby made me into a stoic. And though I don’t want to forget about him, “Tinok” doesn’t come up in conversation often. My visual reminder is a small turquoise box, tied with a turquoise ribbon. It sits on my bookcase, wedged among the sefarim. The nurses gave me the box after he passed away. It included the Polaroid photos they had taken, his hat, his gown, the tape measure used to measure his 17 inches and the certificate that notes the time of his April birth and his 4 pounds, 6 ounces. I later added his blurry sonogram photo to the box. I’ve opened the box less than a handful of times in the past eight years. And that’s when I remember that he was really here, a whole other person. I can’t imagine there being another one, 11 months older than my oldest. But that’s the past. I suppose it could be bittersweet for a mother to discover that there’s suddenly a cure for her child’s terminal disease only eight years after his birth. But, no. I don’t feel regret. I wouldn’t want to move time and have that child born now. Rather, I am elated that there is hope for someone else. And that’s why it’s worth telling this story again.

OCTOBER 2004–APRIL 2005

The reason that my sonogram was blurry was because there wasn’t much amniotic fluid left in the womb. An ultrasound creates images by sending sound waves through the amniotic fluid. The more fluid, the clearer the images. My doctor scheduled a follow-up sonogram for me by a high-risk specialist. That’s when my baby’s Potter’s Syndrome diagnosis was confirmed. It’s a rare, random condition that affects about 1 in 30,000 babies. Potter’s Syndrome is like a domino effect disease. First, a baby fails to develop functioning kidneys (which typically happens between 14 and 16 weeks). After about 16 weeks, it’s the kidneys that produce the amniotic fluid, so without kidneys, there’s no fluid. Without fluid, the baby can’t move around properly. More importantly, though, without fluid, the baby’s lungs can’t develop. Lungs normally develop between 16 and 22 weeks. Once born, babies can live without kidneys. They need dialysis 1 2 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

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THE CLEAN BILL // Real People on the Quest for Health

and eventually a transplant. But they can’t live without lungs, and babies with this diagnosis always suffocate and die soon after birth. Some Potter’s babies die in the womb, after being tangled by the umbilical cord, with no place else to go. From 20 weeks to 38 weeks, I didn’t connect my pregnancy to a new life. It was just a physical condition that I had to endure. If someone asked me about my plans for the new baby, or if I was excited, I always felt like I was lying if I responded positively. I always did believe that if Hashem wanted the organs that the sonograms couldn’t find to be there, they would be there. But I also accepted that they weren’t. “Tinok” was born on Shabbat. My husband never saw the baby. He’s a kohen, so he had to leave the hospital when the baby was ready to be born. The neonatal team was there, for the forty-something minutes of his life, working hard to get him to breathe. But how do you get a baby without lungs to breathe? I didn’t hold him until after he had already passed on. It was just a few minutes and then I gave him back.

MAY 2013

On May 1, Jaime Herrera Beutler, the 34-year-old Republican Congresswoman from Washington State, announced to constituents: @HerreraBeutler: My husband and I are thrilled to share special news about our family. The couple was over-the-moon excited to be expecting their first child. On June 3, though, a new announcement came from the couple: Friends, A few weeks ago Daniel and I excitedly announced that we are expecting our first baby later this fall. This post is to let you know about a sharp turn our journey has taken. At a recent, routine ultrasound appointment we received the difficult news that our baby has a serious medical condition called Potter’s Syndrome. Potter’s Syndrome (or Potter’s Sequence) is abnormally low amniotic fluid caused by impaired kidney function, which inhibits normal lung development and is often fatal. We have had a second opinion and the medical diagnosis was consistent with the initial news: there is no medical solution available to us. We are praying for a miracle. We don’t know what the future holds for our family, but we ask for your prayers and appreciate the privacy a family needs in such circumstances. According to the medical information and advice we’ve received, I will be able to continue to balance the responsibilities of an expectant mother with serving as your representative in Congress. — Daniel and Jaime

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Daniel and Jaime’s experience mirrored my own. The initial elation of first-time parents. The anticipation of the first sonogram. The blurry images. “At that point, we went to our ultrasound appointment thinking, ‘Are we going to find out if it’s a boy or a girl?’ And then to be told she’s not going to live...was devastating,” Jaime said. “They gave us no...options. It is the worst moment in your life. [The doctor] was looking at us. He was telling us, ‘Your baby has no options: It’s incompatible with life; it’s terminal.’ At that moment, she was moving in me, as he was telling me she’s not going to live,” she continued. Daniel and Jaime asked if a transplant or dialysis would be possible. The answer was no. If born, the baby would be unable to breathe and live for only a few minutes. The only treatments were either to abort, or to continue the pregnancy, waiting for the baby to die. The Beutlers, though, sought a third opinion, and were referred to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. There, they met Dr. Jessica Bienstock, a professor of maternal-fetal medicine in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Dr. Bienstock, a perinatologist, didn’t have different news for Jaime. But to be able to confirm the diagnosis and see the ultrasound clearly, she needed to insert fluid into the sac. She performed an amnioinfusion, carefully infusing a saline solution into the uterus. The ultrasound then clearly showed the same diagnosis: Jaime’s baby had a textbook case of Potter’s Syndrome. There were no kidneys, and the chest and head were deformed due to lack of amniotic fluid. When Jaime came back one week later for a follow-up appointment, Dr. Bienstock was surprised to see that some of the fluid that she had inserted remained—and that the baby was developing and moving around more normally. Could this be an accidental medical breakthrough? Jaime asked for another infusion. Bienstock didn’t want to get her hopes up. She reminded her that lungs usually develop between 16 and 22 weeks, and if there is no amniotic fluid during that time, the lungs wouldn’t develop and the baby would


die after birth. They were already at the 23-week mark. But since Jaime’s baby responded well to the first amnioinfusion, the doctor agreed to repeat the procedure. Perhaps the lungs might still develop. She performed the second amnioinfusion that day, and Jaime returned for three more infusions over the next few weeks. After each infusion, they could see the baby respond. She moved around more and more, and with new space in the womb, the deformities in her head, chest, and feet corrected themselves. But the ultrasounds could still not determine whether the lungs had developed. And Dr. Bienstock never imagined that these infusions might serve as a cure. The day after the fifth infusion, Jaime was back home in her district when she went into early labor. For four days, doctors tried to prevent the pre-term delivery. When there was no more holding her back, Jaime’s daughter was born prematurely at 28 weeks, weighing 2 pounds and 12 ounces. “When she came out, everybody was quiet. Doctors and nurses were prepared for the worst,” Jaime said, “but immediately after she was born, she drew a breath and cried.” She had lungs! Potter’s babies never cry after birth. Once Jaime’s baby was born, doctors could clearly see that her lungs were very well developed. The amnioinfusions had stopped the domino effect of Potter’s Syndrome. Abigail Rose, as she was named, still needed intense medical care. The Beutlers still needed to find a hospital that was willing to perform dialysis or a transplant on a baby so tiny. Johns

Hopkins could have performed the procedure, but the baby couldn’t be transported across the country. So, when she was 16 hours old, Abigail Rose was transported to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in California, where she began dialysis. She will need a kidney transplant once she is big enough, at about one year of age. Every doctor confirmed that Abigail is the first baby ever with Potter’s Syndrome to be able to breathe on her own and survive the diagnosis. “I don’t know what the future holds for this little girl. We have helped her take the first few steps along a very long road,” Bienstock said. “This case is unprecedented,” she continued, “It would be premature to say bilateral renal agenesis should always be treated using serial amnioinfusion, but this suggests it can be part of the conversation when that is the diagnosis. Hopefully, science will evolve to the point where we will be able to save babies with this defect. But so far, this is just one isolated case whose ultimate outcome is still unknown.” I contacted Dr. Bienstock, sharing my happiness over the success of the treatment. She responded immediately, and told me, “We really need to see if we can make this treatment work for more than one patient before we make further statements.” That means it’s an option. Patients have somewhere to go and a treatment that could give them hope. Dr. Steven Alexander is the pediatric kidney specialist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in California, where Abigail Rose is being treated. He is confident about her prognosis. “The kidney transplant success rate now is so good that we would predict a full adult life for her,” Alexander said. On September 6, when her baby was about 7 weeks old, Jaime said in an interview, “[Abigail Rose] is doing amazing. We’ve gotten to a point in the last couple of days where when we’re holding her, she’s playing. She screams when her diaper is dirty; she is like any other baby. She has a few challenges; but man, she’s determined.” Daniel Beutler added, “Most parents don’t need the advice [to] never give up. There are no guaranteed solutions or magical cures, certainly for BRA (bilateral renal agenesis, the condition that causes Potter’s Syndrome). But don’t be satisfied with just


THE CLEAN BILL // Real People on the Quest for Health

one opinion. There are a lot of intelligent doctors with different experiences and perspectives. Work to find one who will partner with you to find that anything possible will be at least tried.” It’s not so simple, though. Jaime added, “Other parents told us, ‘We tried, we advocated, but couldn’t find a willing physician.’ We found Dr. Bienstock because another parent had slipped us her name. More doctors told us no than yes. We’d like this to be part of the conversation when the diagnosis comes up again, so parents know there is an option.” Critics say that the Congresswoman received special treatment because of her position and a gold-plated Congressional Health Care plan. But it’s not the case. Congress members receive the same health care package as other federal employees. And Jaime says it’s simply because she found a willing doctor. “We were told ‘no’ over and over and over again, as were a lot of these other moms,” she said. Parents with good insurance could still be denied treatment. “It’s more about whether or not the medical community is willing to push established boundaries,” she continued. “This is something any OB-GYN can do. They take saline, just sterile saline water, and they put fluid into the womb.” I don’t begrudge Jaime Herrera Beutler’s access to top-flight medical care. Rather, I think that it’s fortuitous that this happened to a Congresswoman, so that the event could be well-publicized and other mothers could find out about this option. Jaime and her husband frequently credited G-d and their constant prayers when discussing their miracle.

OCTOBER 2004

On the night of that first sonogram appointment, my husband and I had an appointment with Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon, shlita. He told us, “In the old days, when there were no sonograms, people would pray for a healthy baby for nine months, and they didn’t know what happened in the interim. There is room for blessing here. The doctors don’t know everything.” And though that miracle wasn’t meant to happen eight years ago, he was right. A cure can happen in an instant, even when no one expects it. n

To submit your story for this column or to have your story featured here, please contact us at submissions@ amimagazine.org.

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Fixing Grapes Smashes Cancer

medica minutel Latest H and Reseealth News Around tharch from e World

SCIENTISTS FIGURE OUT WINE COMPOUND

The wine compound resveratrol has been one of the most disappointing wonder drugs in recent years. Tests in animals had shown that the compound, found in red grape skins and dark chocolate, warded off cancer and could increase life spans in some test animals, but similar research in humans has not shown similar results. That’s possibly because the compound is rapidly metabolized in the human body and converted into different forms, including a sulfate form. English researchers from the University of Leicester found that using the sulfate form, rather than the unmetabolized form, might actually be a better idea. They found that when they introduced the sulfate form into cells, it was converted back into the original form. They also found that this method of introducing resveratrol into human cells killed cancer cells and did not damage regular cells. The resveratrol sulfate will have to be used in large doses, because even it is metabolized by the body. But scientists at last think that they may have found a way to use the compound not just in mice, but even in humans.

BRAIN BREAKTHROUGH

Pill for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s a possibility Scientists in the United Kingdom have found a method that staves off one form of brain disease in mice. They believe that what they’ve done so far may eventually translate into a major treatment for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In these brain diseases, misshapen proteins accumulate inside brain cells. Eventually the brain reacts to the faulty proteins in a way that ends up killing off brain cells, which leads to most of the symptoms of patients with these conditions. Until now, research has generally concentrated on figuring out ways to eliminate the faulty proteins. But researchers from the Medical Research Council looked at how to stop the brain reaction that occurs due to the proteins. They tested their technique in mice suffering from prion disease, a relatively uncommon illness affecting proteins. When they injected mice with a drug designed to stop the brain’s reaction to the misshapen proteins, those mice did not show the symptoms of prion disease, such as foot-dragging and memory loss. They also lived longer than the mice who did not receive the treatment. The drug used by the researchers did cause serious side effects, including diabetes and weight loss. But the researchers believe that their method will eventually be used safely in humans. One researcher commented to the Guardian, “This finding, I suspect, will be judged by history as a turning point in the search for medicines to control and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”

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MARRIAGE

BY R AC H E L I S O F E R

TH E

I N-LAW WAR

Boy meets girl on shidduch date. Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Boy and girl get engaged. The future mechutanim plan a wedding together. That one wants this band, and this one can’t stand the singer. This one wants a short mitzvah tantz, and that one’s family minhag is to dance until dawn. As the wedding date draws near, battle lines are drawn. By the time they get to the chuppah, it’s all-out war. It’s a sad story, but unfortunately, an all-too-common one. We’ve all heard of the mechutanim who are barely on speaking terms, whose feuds last decades into their children’s marriages. It’s nasty business, and no one suffers from it more than their shared children, the couple. Tension between parents can cause serious friction in a marriage, as the couple tries to maintain their loyalty to both sides. Months and years of dodging bullets can wear on them; eventually, they can turn on each other. Too many marriages have tragically fallen apart because of in-laws who just can’t get along. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When it comes to battling mechutanim, some couples have not only managed to steer clear of the conflict, they’ve also managed to emerge from the battlefield with their marriage stronger than ever. Take Tova and Yossi, for example, who contacted AmiLiving to share their success story with our readers. 1 2 C H E S H VA N

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TOVA: It wasn’t exactly a surprise that our parents weren’t on arguing over the bigger issues, like where Tova and I were the same page, since my husband and I come from extremely planning to settle after I left kollel. And, of course, they different cultures. While I’m from a European background, argued about money. My parents wanted us to have a simpler my in-laws are as American as as apple pie and are much wedding, but my in-laws, who were marrying off their only more yeshivish. My husband is also from a larger family while daughter, wanted to go all out. My parents didn’t agree that my family is small. Despite the obvious differences, though, we should have a fancy wedding—as a matter of principle. our parents seemed to respect each other and it looked as They also couldn’t agree on how much support they wanted though they would get along—in the very beginning, that is. us to have on a monthly basis. My parents expressed a lot of admiration for my father-inlaw, who is a well-know rav in his community. I remember YOSSI: Yes. They argued about how much support we should that my father in particular was very enamored by my fatherget from both sides. My parents thought that we should live in-law’s reputation. modestly, that a kollel couple didn’t need a fully furnished In hindsight, I know that in their initial meeting with my apartment. They felt we could start out simply. My in-laws in-laws, my parents made a very negative first impression. thought that their daughter was a “princess” and wanted her They came across as demanding, but to their credit, my to be pampered—by both her parents and mine. easygoing mother-in-law and father-in-law kept their thoughts to themselves. Although years later they admitted TOVA: Things were slightly uncomfortable at the wedding to my husband Yossi that they between our parents, but they had concerns about what kind of were cordial and civil for the in-laws my parents would be to “I nstead of working first few years afterwards. They my husband, and that they were would speak to each other to unite us as a especially frightened that my before Yomim Tovim, but parents would be overbearing, then approximately three years couple, it felt as they hid their fears from him. into our marriage, our parents Certainly my parents had no stopped speaking to each other though we were reason to suspect that my inaltogether. They wouldn’t even b eing d ivided.“ laws didn’t exactly have a stellar call each other on Erev Rosh first impression of them. Hashanah, as most mechutanim Although at first my parents do. did seem pleased about the shidduch, they quickly retracted their approval once we got engaged. They worried that my YOSSI: What was especially hard for us as a couple was background was too different from Yossi’s, and viewed my that both sides didn’t want to talk to each other, so they used in-laws as closed-minded and much more yeshivish than they Tova and me as go-betweens to negotiate. That definitely put had expected them to be. a strain on our relationship. Instead of working to unite us as a couple, it felt as though we were being divided. YOSSI: While it’s true that my parents came away from their first meeting with my in-laws, before the engagement, TOVA: For a period of about two years our parents didn’t with a very negative impression of them, I think that as speak to each other at all. That really started to affect our far as they were concerned, things didn’t go sour until the marriage. My parents were upset when I went to visit my tena’im. Tova’s parents insisted that everything had to be in in-laws, and vice versa. Although they didn’t say it outright, accordance with their minhagim, and my parents wanted they made us feel as though we had to choose between them. at least a few things done their way. And so they argued. This made me very anxious whenever I was with my in-laws. For example, my father-in-law wouldn’t hear of my mother It took me a while to realize all of this, because I had always walking me down to the chuppah, insisting that in his family wanted to please my parents and was having a hard time only the men walked the chasan down the aisle. It was very breaking away and standing by my husband. important to my mother that she be at my side: It was something she’d dreamed about since I was a baby. But my YOSSI: I remember that things were awkward and strained father-in-law wouldn’t even hear of it. It was his way or the whenever either side of parents came up in conversation. highway. My mother gave in on that argument, but stood her For example, whenever a conversation would come up at the ground when it came to other points of contention. Yom Tov table that involved the other side, inadvertently It didn’t take long for my in-laws and parents to start there would be this uncomfortable, strained silence. It was as

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though I had to pretend, while in my in-laws’ home, that I didn’t have any parents! That was really hard. And we couldn’t exactly control what our young children would say. It was always very uncomfortable when someone asked my parents for shidduch information about Tova’s parents. My parents would respond with, “We aren’t the best people to speak to about this.” And most people were able to read between the lines! TOVA: Things were especially uncomfortable at our son’s bris milah. It was the first time in many years that our parents were in the same room. I specifically remember how uncomfortable my mother looked around my mother-in-law. Because my parents don’t like Yossi’s parents, they’re not happy that I still maintain a close relationship with my in-laws. So my mother really resented my mother-inlaw’s presence at my simchah. She felt as though this woman who was “poisoning” her daughter was intruding. YOSSI: Yes. My mother was uncomfortable too. TOVA: One year into our marriage we started going to a therapist, who was able to teach us to focus on ourselves, and to pinpoint what we each needed to do to work on ourselves, in order to overcome this challenge and build up our marriage. The therapist explained that it wasn’t enough for us to focus on our marriage; we each had to resolve our own issues in order to make our marriage better. She showed me how I was bringing a lot of emotional baggage with me into our relationship and I had to work through it and become a more mature, selfassured person who didn’t need to rely so heavily on my parents’ approval. It was hard work, but that helped me tune out my parents’ disapproval. This was what I ultimately needed to do, but could only

successfully do once I was secure with myself. YOSSI: Tova was working very hard with her therapist. We listened to her advice and tried to focus on us, being especially careful not to blame each other for our parents’ behavior. We were very careful to stay civil with both sets of parents, even when things were difficult. I also started to see a therapist to resolve some of my issues. In hindsight, I will say that this was all very hard work—but it was worth it. I would advise anyone else in my situation to have patience. On the one hand, you should recognize that your wife is a separate entity from her parents, just as you aren’t your parents. Don’t allow what is going on between your parents to affect your relationship. In a perfect world everyone should get along, but you and your wife have to get along. It is important to work on your underlying issues so that you can really be a unified force. TOVA: I would advise another couple going through this challenge to first, move away from both sides. I definitely think that moving to a different community, away from where our two sets of parents live, was good for us. But even more importantly: Get to know and focus on yourselves. I care about my parents, but it took me a long time to learn that I had to change and work on myself to make things work. One positive outcome did result from of all this: I really believe that our marriage is so strong because we worked so hard on ourselves and our relationship. As Tova and Yossi’s story proves, no matter how bloody the battle gets between in-laws, with focus and hard work, no marriage need be a casualty of the in-law war. 

The Marriage and Parenting columns alternate weekly. To contribute, contact us at editorial@amimagazine.org.


By Machla Abramovitz


Tania and Eddy Basch give us an inside look into the world of organic enthusiasts

T

he first thing I notice about Tania Belkin Basch’s kitchen in the Montreal borough of Côte-desNeiges is that it is small and very 1950s. The wooden cabinets are painted white and deep yellow. The counters are old-fashioned laminate. Apparently, very little has been done to update its décor over the decades. Except, that is, for the installation of a top-of-the-line water distillation system similar to the one used by the US Army in Afghanistan, and an industrial juicer that leaves pulp dry as sawdust after squeezing out every last drop of liquid from fruits and vegetables. Aside from enjoying the juice, the Baschs use the pulp as compost in their vegetable garden and orchard located in the Laurentian Mountains, north of Montreal. Nothing is wasted. A wine cooler houses round, professionallooking Camembert and Cheddar cheeses made by Tania’s husband Eddy. Making his own cheese and baking his own bread— multigrain, of course—is not only fun but very economical; homemade cheese costs a quarter of the price of commercial, especially the chalav Yisrael variety. The motivation, however, is more than Yonatan Basch frugality. By growing many of the fruits and vegetables they eat and making food from scratch, Tania and Eddy are able to retain some control over what enters theirs and their children’s bodies—and have gone to what some consider rather extreme measures to do so. For instance, they no longer use disposable cutlery or containers; stainless steel bottles replace conventional plastic water bottles.

Chemical compounds leached through plastic containers, Eddy tells me, are harmful to one’s health as well as to the environment. Eddy and Tania estimate that about 80 percent of the food they consume is organic. These measures, they feel, help them maintain healthy eating habits and attitudes. Watching her sons, 12-year-old David and nine-year-old Yonatan, enthuse over cucumbers, celery and apples, they certainly seem to be doing something right. Tania is 43, but looks years younger. She is slim, of medium height, and has a striking, angular, Slavic-looking face, having been born in Kharkov, Ukraine near the Russian border. She dresses conservatively, but with an artistic flare. I was immediately struck by her passion and discipline when I met her at a Toastmasters public speaking course. I soon learned that Tania is deeply committed to educating the public about the benefits of going organic. However, convincing people to do so, given its added cost, is an uphill battle. “Unfortunately, few people are motivated unless they or someone in their family gets sick,” she says. As a couple, the Baschs have been on the organic bandwagon for 13 years. They are, in fact, two of its staunchest advocates. Nowadays, Tania lectures on the subject and has her own blog. She also recently published The Savvy Organic Shopper’s Guide (available through Amazon.com), filled with practical tips on how to make going organic more affordable. She believes it will especially benefit Orthodox women with large families who are on tight budgets and have little time on their hands. Tania is convinced that 1 2 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

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organic produce offers more nutritional value for the buck than conventional fare, although independent scientific studies indicate that organic produce is only marginally more nutritious. She claims to see and feel the difference in herself and her children. “When I don’t eat organic, I’m not as alert,” she insists. Her enthusiasm is contagious; one cannot help but be drawn in, especially after tasting her delicious cake, baked with organic ingredients and “healthy” sugar. Fooling myself, I didn’t feel guilty about taking a second slice. Yet for Tania and her husband, going organic isn’t only about nutrition. It’s also about the environment, sustainability, personal responsibility and respect for the Earth. These sensibilities, Tania points out, are in keeping with Torah values, and it’s easier to go organic today than ever before because of all the kosher products on the market. She then offers me an opportunity to observe her organic world for myself, from the perspective of a true believer. Given the controversy surrounding this issue, this is an invitation I cannot resist. Over the next few weeks shes takes me to an organic farmers' market, a popular food co-op specializing in organic fare, a commercial organic farm, and finally, the Baschs' own plot of land that they cultivate up in the mountains. It doesn't taking long till I am speaking fluent organic.

or irradiated (to destroy bacteria). “Conventional tomatoes are grown to have a longer shelf life, but at the sacrifice of flavor and taste,” Tania says. “If you compare them to these tomatoes you’ll see the difference. Heirloom tomatoes are quite fragile. The skin is soft and they won’t last as long in the fridge. But the taste is fabulous. You can really detect an explosion of flavors in your soups and salads.” Not everyone, though, can notice the difference. “It’s like developing a taste for French wine,” Eddy tells me. “After drinking good wine something clicks in your brain, and you never want to go back to drinking inexpensive wine again.” Tania is eager for me to visit the Morgan Farms stall. Whenever possible, they purchase whatever they don’t grow themselves from there. Over the years, the Baschs have developed a close relationship with its owners, John Bastien and his family. “They’re always happy to answer our questions about organic farming. We trust that they’re doing it right because we see the results for ourselves,” Tania says. The Baschs have applied many of John Bastien's tips to their own gardening. Equally important is the opportunity to introduce her children to how food is cultivated and produced. “My sons have an understanding of how hard farmers work. They don’t take food for granted.” This connection to the soil comes naturally to Tania. In Kharkov, her grandparents owned a farm and her parents had a country home. Her grandmother raised chickens, and Tania waxes nostalgic about the taste of the eggs that were so fresh and satisfying. Nowadays she buys her eggs at Morgan Farms. “I collect my eggs straight from their chicken coops,” she says. “They remind me of my grandmother’s. They’re incredible.” In contrast, Tania claims, conventional eggs can have a shelf-life of up to five months. Her parents also grew their own fruits and vegetables. Years ago, conventional farming was largely organic. She recalls her parents and grandmother mixing herbs and spraying plants with vinegar and water to keep the insects at bay. “There was a lot of work involved. Whenever it rained, they would have to spray them again.” Because cultivation is so labor-intensive, organic produce is costlier than conventional produce. Garlic cloves, for example,

I’m surprised to find disposable cutlery that looks like plastic but is actually derived from celery and corn.

Back To The Future

My visit to the Outremont organic farmers’ market could not have taken place on a sunnier or more welcoming day. I am greeted by a colorful profusion of produce that is delivered daily, fresh from the farms and attractively displayed in open-air stalls. Nestled among the eggplants, squash, cucumbers and apples, the tomatoes immediately catch my eye. Unlike standard red ones, these are yellow, green with stripes (zebra tomatoes) and brown, all in various shapes and sizes. I also notice the celery, which is a deep green and exudes a strong celery smell. I cannot help comparing it to its pale, non-organic counterpart in my own refrigerator, whose aroma, let’s say, is rather staid. For produce to be deemed organic, it cannot be sprayed with chemical pesticides, be genetically modified (GMO),

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can cost almost five times as much as non-organic ones. But according to Tania, savvy consumers can get away with paying only 15 percent more. To keep costs down, she buys some of her supplies directly from the distributor. She and Eddy buy produce by the case; carrots, apples and beans, for example, can keep for months in their garage. Fruits that are perishable, like bananas, are only bought in bulk if she can split cases with others. And whatever isn’t consumed is frozen to be made into smoothies. As a working mother with limited time, Tania cooks healthy foods that don’t require a lot of effort. “I buy seasonal produce and go for simplicity. Most palates are used to processed food, which means additional sugar. If you’re used to eating sugared almonds or glazed peanuts, you’ll obviously prefer them over uncooked, unsalted, raw peanuts. But if you allow yourself to develop a taste for them, you’ll realize they’re sweet.” How do her children take to all this? “My kids were raised on it, though they do enjoy an occasional Coke or piece of candy. I educate them about the importance of reading food labels and give them articles occasionally to read. In class, the teacher once asked the children what they eat for breakfast. My son answered oatmeal. His classmates wanted to know what flavor. Why does oatmeal have to have a flavor? My children are proud that they eat natural, healthy food. David will sometimes slice a banana and add raspberry syrup if he wants to create a beautiful and healthy snack. Lately he’s been experimenting with drinks, so he’ll brew a cup of green tea, and add a little cherry juice and a few frozen raspberries. He looks for real fruit flavors rather than sugar. We keep coconut sugar and honey in the house, so it’s easy to create a variety of flavors without adding chemical ones.” For Tania, it’s also about setting financial priorities and organizing her week. Since she doesn’t have time to patronize numerous stores, she takes advantage of the local co-op, which caters to like-minded organic enthusiasts.

My Next Stop

The Cooperative de la Maison Verte, which I visited next, is located in the heart of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, one of Montreal’s most culturally diverse boroughs. The co-op is an environmentalist’s dream. The look is starkly functional. The floor’s wooden planks are seriously distressed, while the overhead lighting is dim; most of the illumination streams in from two large picture windows overlooking Sherbrooke Street, a main thoroughfare. Plain wooden shelves carry a variety of household products that are, of course, environmentally friendly, biodegradable and GMO-free. There are delicious-smelling soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents and household cleansers as well nontoxic markers and eco-friendly glues. I’m surprised to find disposable cutlery that looks like plastic but is actually derived from celery and corn, and even disposable, fragrance-free diapers made from unbleached cotton.

To keep costs down and for recycling purposes, customers bring their own bottles or make use of empty ones that the coop provides. Many of these products are sold by weight. Steel shelving holds the standard organic fare: nuts, beans, pasta and processed foods, as well as today’s health-food darlings: Goji berries, chia seeds and wild rice pasta for those on gluten-free diets. Most of these products are locally grown or produced, although some are imported from Europe, India and South America. Many are kosher and are available in bulk. An annual fee of $10 entitles members to certain discounts. Tania comes here once a month to stock up on detergent and other necessities, and brings her own bottles. She finds the prices unbeatable. It’s a relaxing environment. Soft electronic music creates a tranquil mood as patrons seated on barstools sip organic lattes or chat with the interesting and informed salespeople. The customers are of all ages and walks of life, from 20-something professionals to young mothers with newborns to the elderly. What they all share is an intense interest in health and what they call a social and environmental consciousness. Not everybody, though, buys into the organic vision in every regard. Most of the people I spoke with were reasoned advocates. Claudia, a 25-yearold web designer, whispered to me that she eats everything, both organic and non-organic. She shares some of the co-op’s environmental concerns but believes that going organic is only part of the solution. “If you’re buying organic celery from California, you’re paying for the gas to transport it thousands of miles to get here. You have to combine the advantages of going organic with common sense.” Dominique, an engineer in her 30s, agrees. One of her favorite beverages is kombucha, a strong-smelling fermented tea that is filled with “good bacteria.” She and Tania discuss its benefits and Tania offers advice on how to make it yourself. “I’m from Russia,” she tells her. “We had jars of it in the house. I even wash my hair with it.” I sniff the kombucha and nearly gag. It is, apparently, an acquired taste. “I feel more energetic when I drink it,” Dominique says. “A lot of things affect our health, like going to sleep on time and not eating too much. Foods like kombucha are not a cure-all, just an added boost.” Blonde-haired Matteo has been working in the co-op since January. He loves his job because of its noncorporate mentality (everyone is treated equally, regardless of position), but mostly because of its mission. “The goal isn’t to beef up our profits, but to increase social and environmental awareness. Before we place orders we research the producers’ level of responsible production, like whether or not they adhere to organic standards, fair trade, and how they treat animals bred for meat.” The majority of their products come from local farmers and artisans; it’s a way of supporting their community. This is tremendously important, especially now that the 1 2 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

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very nature of organic farming has been radically transformed. In 2010, it constituted a $26.7 billion industry in the US alone, up from $1 billion in 1990. Today, giant corporations View from the Basch's land like Walmart, General Mills and Kellogg’s have jumped on the ecological bandwagon and are buying out some of the smaller, independent farms. Behind pastoral-sounding brands like Healthy Valley and Spectrum Organics, for example, is Hain Celestial, a company that was once affiliated with the ketchup giant Heinz. On the positive side, this results in the price of organic produce going down, especially packaged salads. Critics, though, charge that huge corporations have also lowered standards and are corrupting the industry. More and more processed food is being sold as organic, while other products are being outsourced to China and Brazil. Max, who is responsible for co-op purchases, is wary of these new developments. He is especially disturbed by seed-producing giant Monsanto buying out local independent seed producers and then genetically modifying them for drought and floodresistance. “It’s almost impossible to find non-GMO seeds,” he says. “This isn’t good for the industry.” (Scientists claim that GMOs are not the bogeymen they are being made out to be; that the protein being altered is not harmful to humans or to the environment.) How about the organic seeds sold by the co-op? “Those are locally supplied by farmers who save their own seeds. The more you support independent producers, the lower the cost to the consumer. When a supplier produces a small amount of something, you can be sure of its quality.” Tania couldn’t agree more. As an organic purist she is greatly

disturbed by these changes. “Some producers go into the organic business for the right reasons,” she says. “Then there are others who are doing it just to make money.” For instance, she disparages the adulteration of organic products like peanut butter that she sees in large chain stores. “There is no need to add anything to peanut butter besides peanuts and salt,” she insists. “Knowledgeable organic consumers understand that peanuts and oil remain separate and have to be mixed manually before eating. They don’t expect organic peanut butter to look and spread like the non-organic kind. Today, industries are adding cheap oils, like palm oil, to attract regular customers. You have to read the label for ingredients. If it looks like a regular product, you might as well buy the regular kind and pay less for it. Most organic consumers are well educated and don’t mind going that extra mile.”

In 2010, organic food constituted a $26.7 billion industry in the US alone, up from $1 billion in 1990.

Outsmarting Creepy-Crawlies The Natural Way

Morgan Farms is located in Montcalm, Quebec in the Laurentian Mountains, a two-hour drive north of Montreal. The property, owned by the Bastien family, is vast and pastoral, filled with trees, lakes and winding paths. It is also fenced off to keep out predators and to maintain its organic integrity. Unlike Tania, Eddy's interest in going organic developed slowly, the result of his passion for pursuing physical and spiritual wellness. As an osteopath, the slim, soft-spoken Eddy clearly sees the correlation between what one eats and how one feels. “I tell my patients that if they don’t want to go organic, whether for economic or other reasons, they should at least start by getting


rid of white sugar, flour and salt, and substitute products that aren’t modified, processed or refined.” Unfortunately, few take his advice to heart. “It’s hard. It took us years to integrate changes in our eating habits. It’s like being a baal teshuvah. If you try to do everything at once, you’ll fall down.” Eddy knows that from personal experience. He and Tania have been Orthodox now for 15 years. For a commercial enterprise, Morgan Farms’ vegetable garden is surprisingly small. Instead of chemical pesticides and herbicides, other, more natural means are used to keep pests at bay. Here they use rhubarb leaves soaked in water, as well as manure. Critics point out that natural pesticides are just as toxic as chemical ones and that manure harbors diseasecausing organisms like E. coli. In fact, one of the largest organic peanut processing plants in the US was linked to an outbreak of salmonella in 2012. Eddy counters that there are built-in precautions to organic farming that prevent substances from coming into contact with others, and that manure is only a problem if it isn’t composted properly. “There are risks at all levels of food production. I don’t believe that contamination of organic food is so great that it becomes a systemic problem.” As for the argument that the amount of chemical pesticides in conventional fruits and vegetables is so insignificant as to pose no health risks, Eddy admits that may indeed be the case. “Still, our bodies are being repeatedly assaulted by environmental exposure to plastics and poor air quality. I see it more as a cumulative effect. I’d rather err on the side of caution.” Besides natural pesticides, organic farming also makes use of “companion planting,” which is based on the beneficial combination of certain plants, such as deliberately planting tall ones next to shorter ones to provide shade. This technique is also used for pest control. Onions, for example, repel certain pests

and if planted next to other plants, prevent these pests from infesting them. Tomato plants repel moth larvae that develop into caterpillars that feed on cabbage leaves. Other plants attract insects that naturally feed on pests that destroy other plants; planting zinnias alongside cauliflower will lure ladybugs away from the vegetable. It is both a science and an art. As we walk through the vegetable patches, Eddy points out the different rows of vegetation as well as the occasional wildflowers interspersed among them. “Proper soil maintenance, using compost to create bacterial organisms, reduces diseases in the plants because they balance each other out. When you blanket-spray soil and crops with pesticides you kill everything, including all the insects and worms. Then, if you don’t plow, the earth becomes hard as cement because there aren’t any insects turning over the soil.” Some organic farmers use only companion planting for pest control. When it comes to environmental benefits, even stalwart skeptics acknowledge the superiority of organic farming: less runoff into water systems and fewer pesticides. The flip side, of course, is that most organic fruits and vegetables are more infested with insects than conventional ones. Lettuce is especially problematic; Tania used to spend hours checking over the leaves but gave up and has now stopped buying it. All fruits and vegetables must also be washed properly before eating, she warns. Wandering through the grounds, to David and Yonatan’s delight, we see hens and roosters roaming freely. Later we will visit the cows and other animals that are bred for meat. It’s obvious how comfortable the two boys are around animals. In conventional farms, egg-producing hens are confined to tiny wire cages known as battery cages—only 67 square inches—barely the size of a sheet of paper, with no room to move their wings. Here, the hens fly up and down, laying their brown eggs on straw-

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lined, open wooden shelves that are narrowly partitioned. I learn that the older the hen, the darker the eggs. These hens, at least, seem to be happy campers. Eddy tells me that organic chickens bred for meat are leaner and more muscular than conventional ones, since they are given more space to roam and more time to reach slaughter weight. This is good. Although artificial hormone use in poultry production (but not beef ) is officially banned in the US and Canada, some suspect that certain farms might still be lacing their feed or water with antibiotics to help promote growth. Tampering with hormones changes the chickens’ genetics and leaves their immune systems greatly weakened. To compensate, farmers feed them not only antibiotics but antimicrobials (agents that either kill or inhibit microorganisms.) According to critics, poultry farms are some of the worst offenders. It’s a “chicken and egg” situation: Growth hormones, coupled with cramped living conditions, lead to the necessity of additional antibiotics. The Union of Concerned Scientists claims that in the US alone, a staggering 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics are fed to livestock annually for non-therapeutic purposes—13.5 million of which would be illegal in the EU because of the risk of adversely affecting public health. The result is antibacterial resistance in humans, wherein organisms that make us ill are able to survive the drugs used to combat them. A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation investigative team recently discovered that two-thirds of the store-bought chickens it examined were contaminated with bacteria resistant to at least one form of antibiotic, while others were resistant to seven or even eight types. (The poultry industry counters that this is a fictional nonissue, the use of artificial hormones having been illegal for over 50 years.) Are chickens bred on organic farms immune? Apparently not. Even if organic poultry farmers don’t feed their chickens growth hormones or keep them locked up in cages (although they are penned up until properly feathered) the origin of the eggs from which they are hatched might still be problematic, due to the possibility that their parents and grandparents were exposed

to antibiotics and other antimicrobials on breeder farms. Wentworth North, a sparsely inhabited, seemingly uncultivated paradise of evergreens, stately birch, maple trees and pristine lakes, is a half-hour drive from Morgan Farms. The Baschs’ land is situated at the end of a pebble-filled roadway; Eddy doesn’t see the province paving it any time soon. As a family, they make a point of coming up here frequently, especially in the summer when they go boating and swimming on the lake that borders their property. The boys climb trees. In the winter they go sledding and snow-shoeing. He parks his 4x4 and the children jump out, eager to show me their father’s garden and orchard. Eddy is in his element. “I feel a sense of tranquility, and ease within myself when I’m surrounded by trees,” he says. I identify completely. We would later spend an hour luxuriating on their dock overlooking the lake, the murmurings of the waters refreshingly sweet. Five years ago, when Eddy and Tania purchased this property, it was untouched forest. Today, their dream of a weekend and summer retreat has yet to be fully realized. For now, there is still no house, but Eddy can easily envision where it will stand and how it will look. “Over there, overlooking the lake,” he says, pointing to a large plateau next to some gigantic rocks. Theirs will be no ordinary house. Eddy dreams of using toxin-free materials that will last hundreds of years, not just for his family’s benefit but simply because doing so is possible—and excellence is worth pursuing for its own sake. This dream house will cost almost nothing to heat. “If I do it right, it will generate more power than it uses through solar panels feeding directly into the hydroelectric grid. This will generate electricity for appliances and hot water by day, plus there’ll be a small windmill for after the sun goes down and the wind picks up. This method has already been proven to work. My goal is to be a model for that kind of sustainability for the average citizen.” His garden is small, only 500 square feet, but it is meticulously designed. I notice zucchini, potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers and berries, among other vegetables and herbs. Eddy makes use

The poultry industry counters that the use of artificial hormones has been illegal for over 50 years.

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The Ultimate Homestead


of companion planting and garlic-infused water as a natural pesticide. “My main work takes place in the spring; it took two afternoons of planting. Then I come back once a week to weed. If I have more time next year, I’ll improve the soil. These black bins are for compost, which we spread all over. If I do it properly I can quadruple production even in this small space.” Their intention is not to go commercial, but to eventually supply most of their family’s needs, at least during those months it is feasible to do so. The boys especially love eating salads from vegetables grown by their father. Yonatan hands me a cucumber he pulls from the earth and washes from a container of water they brought along. It is indeed delicious. Tania makes sauerkraut and jam from leftover cabbages and berries. Most of Eddy’s efforts, though, are spent on his orchard. “That’s my baby,” he tells me with pride. To get there we struggle over somewhat rough terrain, grabbing onto protruding vines for support. “One day I’ll have a proper walkway,” he apologizes. On the way I notice some upright logs. “Look, a shiitake mushroom,” David cries out. Eddy and Tania rush over to inspect it. “That’s the first one!” they exclaim, glowing. It took Eddy and three of his friends two full days to inoculate the logs with fungus in order to enable the mushrooms to sprout.

“We drilled holes into the logs, inserted wooden dowels with fungus and banged them in. Then we covered them with hot wax so they wouldn’t dry out,” he explains. “The fungus spreads throughout the wood and the mushrooms emerge. In time, these logs will produce hundreds of these mushrooms, which have health properties.” The orchard is a tribute to perseverance and careful planning. Tall boulders stand as natural protectors over this cultivated oasis. “In October and November, when everything else is dead, this place is still green,” Eddy states proudly. A stuffed owl keeps birds from eating the berries. Eddy has lovingly planted hazelnut and plum trees, blueberries and a special variety of grapes that have been bred to withstand extreme cold, for making red and white wine. There are also cherry and apple trees. At this time of year the apples are so heavy they’re pulling the branches down. Yonatan quickly plucks one of the riper ones. It is a young orchard. In time it will, no doubt, exude a magnificent array of colors and textures—a tribute to the Baschs’ vision, hard work and deep love of the land. As we drive back home, tired yet invigorated, Eddy offers up a small prayer: “Thank you, Hashem, for this land, and may You continue to help see us through to our project’s completion.” n


This is the shidduch saga of a staunch and proud chasidic family. Their four eldest children—a son, 22; a daughter, 21; and two sons, 20 and 19—are not married. Now, that may not be a problem everywhere, but in Mimmi Kirsch’s circle, where boys marry at eighteen and girls do not marry before their brothers, it is a huge challenge.

By Mimmi Kirsch

FOLLOW MIMMI KIRSCH ON HER SEARCH FOR A SHIDDUCH FOR HER SON

shidduch saga All’s Well That Ends Well Life goes on, and since death is a fact of life, one of my many obligations during the week following Yom Tov was to pay a shivah call. Anything related to the subject of death is solemn. So why did I have to suppress a chuckle during my visit? As I entered the home of the aveilim, an old classmate I hadn’t seen since grade school pulled me aside. “Mimmi, I’m not a yenta,” she whispered. “I’m just concerned. How are you feeling?” “Fine,” I answered, perplexed. “Why? Do I look sick?” “Oh, no. To the contrary. I just got this text. You know, we have a class list, and it said to daven for you…” It was hard to suppress my laughter and act appropriately. In short, between being the subject of an intense prayer vigil and the nervewracking wait for an answer from the shadchante, Mrs. Weiss, it was an interesting two weeks.

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Then finally, after exactly two weeks and one day, she called back regarding the “Schwartz” shidduch. The Schwartzes were lovely people, and from what we had heard about their daughter, Henny seemed just what my son wanted. It was a yes; they wanted to go ahead. After years of stops and starts with numerous shidduchim, this one seemed to be going smoothly. We met their daughter, liked her instantly, and a besho was set up for the following evening.

~

Indeed, Henny proved to be a sweet, good-hearted and intelligent girl. She carried herself with grace and had a posture like a lulav. Whatever concerns came up were easily resolved. Forty-eight hours after the shadchan called, Srully was engaged! Yes, the shaarei shamayim are open wide, broad enough to admit the tefillos of all the friends and family who were davening on our behalf. It seems like their collective,

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heartfelt bakashos took the heavens by storm. The mazal tov wishes came pouring in like a tsunami, and the sighs of relief were of epic proportion. In many ways it was a global event. I won’t mar the blissful memory by recounting certain remarks that would have been better left unsaid, for they were thankfully few and outnumbered, faded into oblivion by the glow of our happiness. What followed was an avalanche—a veritable stampede—of shidduch proposals for our other children. Since it was impossible to be levelheaded under such pressure, we put everything off until after Srully and Henny’s wedding, much to the dismay of our folks who kept egging us on. “You have to strike while the iron is hot,” we were warned. “She’ll turn gray by the time you think you’re ready.” “He’ll be less in demand.”


We’re not talking decades here. But we refused to give in and insisted on giving each one of our children space. Experience is the best teacher, and since we’ve had our share of schooling, having endured four years “in the parshah” with four children, we felt secure in our decision. The wedding day arrived—and so did the next child’s, and the next and the next. YES, THEY DID! The Greens, the Blaus, the Roths and the Brauns are now part of our wonderful extended family.

~

It has now been over a decade since those awkward frenzied days, weeks, months and years! Our children all eventually got married, baruch Hashem, and our home is filled with lovely

daughters-in-law, sons-in-law and two handfuls of grandchildren, ka”h. The reason I submitted these personal memories for publication in this column is that the topic is still oh-so-relevant. Please consider it my small, personal contribution. I hope I have sensitized some of you and validated others, while offering encouragement to those “displaced persons” temporarily stationed in “no man’s land.” There is light and hope at the end of the tunnel. Stay focused. Believe. This is not a race. It’s a process, like everything else in life. Remember to count your blessings. More of them will come.   

The End

Mimmi Kirsch is a pseudonym.

dearmatchmaker: My daughter is a very pretty girl but she is not photogenic. Shadchanim keep asking us for pictures but I don’t send them. At the same time, I don’t want it to look like we’re hiding something. I’m also afraid to say that she’s not

photogenic, because in today’s crazy shidduch world it might be considered a negative! Why are shadchanim asking for pictures? What do you suggest we do?

Rebbetzin Elisheva Koenig, a Brooklynbased shadchan with over 30 years’ experience, responds:

lot of boys receive so many suggestions that their mothers are using pictures to rule out some of the resumes. Other times, one side will have had a disappointing experience and therefore want to know what to expect. The bottom line, though, is that everything is bashert. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I am sure that someone will recognize that your daughter is gorgeous even if you think her pictures don’t look great. I suggest that you invest a little money: Have your daughter made up by a professional, get her hair done, and hire a really good photographer to take a picture. I’m sure you’ll change your mind about your daughter not being photogenic! You can also suggest that the shadchan meet your daughter personally.

It is my opinion that in an ideal world, pictures shouldn’t be involved in a shidduch. So much more personality and chein are revealed by speaking to someone; a picture really doesn’t portray what the person is about. I know one boy who didn’t want to meet a girl because of a picture he’d seen of her. Apparently, the picture was outdated. But the shadchan really pushed the shidduch and he agreed to go out on one date—half-heartedly, but the couple really clicked. Nowadays, shadchanim ask for pictures because that’s what the boys’ mothers want. But you’re right about one thing: The shidduch world is crazy, and a

Disgusted Mom


shidduchresources

COMPILED BY ESTHER GARTENHAUS

The sheer volume of e-mails, letters, phone calls and faxes we receive, regarding the shidduch crisis, is eyeopening. This column is our contribution to help address this crisis. A more complete list appears on our website: www.amimagazine.org. This is a joint communal effort, so we need to hear from you! Shadchanim and activists: Contact Esther Gartenhaus at matchmaker@amimagazine.org to list your appropriate services, shidduch meetings and pertinent activities!

General Shidduchim

Mrs. Lisa Elefant 718.256.7525 / LisaElefant@yahoo.com Mrs. Ethel Halpert 718.853.4083 / Motzaei Shabbos Mrs. Rayzel Harrar 718.376.8547 Mrs. Hadassah Hoffner 718.309.5700 Mrs. Chana Rivka Jacobs 718.256.7525 at Binyan Adei Ad The Kesher Connection of Boro Park 718.576.1094 support@kesherconnection.com. Mrs. Pearl Klepfish 718.338.8106 Rebbetzin Elisheva Koenig718.258.8475 / 718.377.2631 / elishevakoenig@gmail.com Mrs. Dina Lapp 917.470.4840 / diny613@gmail.com lchaimshidduch.com Mrs. Tova Liebb 732.367.7252 / tliebb@yahoo.com Mrs. Libby Lieberman Mazal.brocha@gmail.com Mrs. Simchas Olam rivkalittman@yahoo.com Mrs. Devorah Meyer 718.213.0761 / MTW 8–10:30 p.m. Mrs. Shaindy Mitnick 347.322.0001 / afternoons and evenings / shaindymitnick@gmail.com Mrs. Chava Most Fax: 732.377.5484 / sensitiveshidduchim@gmail.com / specializes in shidduchim for individuals with physical, medical, fertility and genetic conditions Rabbi Ahron Mueller 848.299.2598 National Council of Young Israel Shidduch Program Department 212.929.1525, ext. 150 / jsteinig@youngisrael.org Mr. Motti Neuhaus mottineuhaus@yahoo.com Mrs. Esther Notis 732.367.7942 / Please leave message. Mrs. Adina Reich adinareich@gmail.com Resumé Center ifoundashidduch@gmail.com Mrs. Chana Rose chanarose36@verizon.net Mrs. Rochel Rubanowitz 212.543.2723 Mrs. Joy Scher proudbubby1@aol.com Mrs. Sara Schwarcz 718.854.8722 / 917.446.3213 Mrs. Baila Sebrow 516.239.0564 / bsebrow@aol.com Mrs. Chaya Segal 718.854.6315 / evenings / specializes in older singles Mrs. Blimmie Stamm 732.363.1554

FOR COMP THE LETE L IST, GO TO amim agazin e.org

Mental Health/Emotional Issues Shoshana Goldman 718.983.9187 Temima Gross 410.358.7017 / temiragross@gmail.com

Ohel’s Simcha Program / Sarah Kahan 718.686.3262 sarah_kahan@ohelfamily.org fcbrecher@gmail.com

Public Announcements Thanks to those women who have called in to volunteer assistance with shidduch calls! If you are articulate and capable, please call in. More are needed! 347.482.8429 Plenty of shadchanim…yet never enough! Join as a volunteer shadchan. Call Kesher Connection at 718.576.1094. Resource for previously married men and women. Also, singles willing to marry previously married men and women, contact Mrs. B. Stein. belle960@gmail.com Seeking girls for quality, frum, working (non-degreed) chasidishe boys! 845.425.7520 SHADCHANUS SERVICES—HIRE BY THE HOUR. Hire your own private shadchan to network for

you! Shadchanim and interested parties, please contact Ruchie 718.438.2834 for more details. Shidduch meetings in Kensington. For details, call Mrs. Edie Jaffe at 718.853.8691. Looking for single girls/women of all ages, with controlled medical issues (i.e., on meds). Many special compatible young men available! Confidential! Please call Rivky 718.419.7855 Shidduchim Workshops in Brooklyn, Lakewood, or your town! Premarital/Shidduch hadrachah workshops with Mrs. Esther Gartenhaus for post high-school girls/young women! Call to schedule your workshop and for private appointments: 347.482.8429

Israel

Mrs. Yehudis Abir 02.586.3310 / evening hours / judyabir@gmail.com Mrs. Shulamit Goldberger 02.561.1019 V’hareinu B’vinunei (Yiddish-speaking organization) Shidduch for zivug sheini 011-972-54-849-9440

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We welcome your letters, comments and shidduch questions, as well as helpful ideas, advice and tips on...shidduchim! Contact us at matchmaker@amimagazine.org or via phone (718.534.8800) or fax (718.484.7731).


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CHAPTER SIXTY-SIX LAST WEEK: WHEN THE DOORBELL RINGS, DR. REICH EXPECTS TO SEE SHRAGA LEVINE.

Wrong Levine

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recognized him immediately. He looked just like his son. I tried not to show my surprise, ushering him in and offering him a chair. He introduced himself—unnecessarily, of course—and we shook hands. “What can I do for you? Is it Rabbi Levine? Mister?” “Matis is fine,” he said quietly. “Matis, then.” I was uncomfortable calling an older man by his first name, but I wasn’t about to argue. “I’m here about my son,” he said. “Yes?” I quickly realized this was going to be like pulling teeth. The man was obviously not a talker; I could see where Shraga had gotten his reticence. Shraga resembled his father in so many ways it was almost humorous to meet this older version of the younger man. “He’s confused.” “I understand that,” I said. “I don’t know how to advise him— how to speak to him. He talks to my wife a little, but right now he’s shutting

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us out. Between the accident, breaking off his engagement, and now this business with his former wife, the two of us are lost. My wife was planning on coming along, but at the last minute she came down with one of her migraines and begged me to go without her. You’ll excuse me, but I don’t believe in therapists…” “Well,” I interrupted, before we went down that road. “I’m sure that you were mighty happy there were medical professionals available when you needed them, after Shraga had his accident.” “Yes, of course. Don’t get me wrong. G-d forbid, that someone should really need a doctor. You know, my parents were survivors. And after something like that, everything else pales in comparison. I’m sure you understand what I mean.” I didn’t, actually. My parents and grandparents had been born in America, and I actually had little 1 2 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

exposure to the children of survivors. I could see his viewpoint, though. From his perspective, there was very little that could be considered truly catastrophic. “Mr. Levine…” “Matis.” “Reb Matis, I understand that you are very concerned about your son. He is going through a terribly difficult time right now. Granted, he’s not a Holocaust survivor, but he did survive a devastating accident. Everything looks different to him now, and he hasn’t quite grasped the fact that his frame of reference has permanently changed. On the one hand, he wants to hold on to the past. On the other, he wants to embrace the future. The hardest thing for him is to be in the present: to feel the pain and loss, and then attempt to rebuild his life according to ground rules he hasn’t figured out yet. The best thing you can do—the only thing, really—is to give him time to recover, not just physically but mentally


and emotionally. If you expect him to just bounce back he’ll feel pressured, and it will hinder the natural process of recovery.” “But he can’t just sit around doing nothing!” Matis cried. “He has a business to run, children to care for!” “Of course he does,” I replied. “But right now, from what I understand, all that is being taken care of.” “Yes! By his former wife! That is not what we want!” I sat back and regarded this worried father. I knew what he was going to do, and even though I was about to warn him, the outcome seemed inevitable. “Well, first of all, the children will remain with her no matter what. They’ll always share that responsibility.” “All right. But from a distance!” “I can promise you, Reb Matis, that if you force Shraga to decide what he wants right now, before he is truly ready, you will only drive him back to his ex-wife. He hadn’t even had time to recover from the divorce when the accident occurred. They were still fighting it out in court. They were waiting for him there when it happened.” “How can you say that he hadn’t already recovered? He was engaged.” “It takes years to get over a divorce. Even if someone remarries, unless the marriage was exceptionally acrimonious or abusive—which theirs, as far as I understand, was not—he’s always going to be thinking about what went wrong and what he could have done differently.”

“I disagree with you. A man should always put the past behind him and look toward the future. If he gets caught up in the past, he’ll be walking in quicksand his whole life. What kind of person does that?” He crossed his arms across his chest and practically dared me to respond. “Under normal circumstances I would agree with you.” I wouldn’t, actually, but that was my business. As long as Mr. Levine was here, I had to treat him as a patient and not as an adversary. “In this case, though, the accident is a major factor. He nearly lost his leg.” “But he didn’t!” “And thank G-d for that. Tell me, Reb Matis, were you ever in a situation that caused you to rethink your life—to reassess your priorities?” “No. But if I had to deal with that, I know what I would do.” “And what’s that?” I said. “What I told you. A mentch has to keep moving forward—vaiter! I would never have left my family like that. The way I was raised, there was no such thing as divorce. You made it work. You changed yourself. You didn’t just leave your family like dogs on the street.” “Are you angry at Shraga?” I ventured. “I am furious at him. What kind of person does what he did?” “But I thought you supported him at the beis din.” “I did it because I felt I had no choice. Regardless of a person’s circumstances he has to move ahead, as

I told you. Once Shraga was at the beis din, my job was to move him forward rather than backward. But that doesn’t mean that I respect what he did. That doesn’t mean I condone it.” “Does he know how you feel?” I asked, genuinely curious now. There’s no better way to know a patient, I always say, than by meeting his parents. I wish I could meet the parents of all my patients. It would really make my job a lot easier. “No,” he said. “We never talk about stuff like that.” “You mean you’ve never spoken to him about the get?” “What was there to say?” I almost rolled my eyes but held myself back. I understood this type of parenting very well, but I had yet to come up with an antidote. I’m not saying that it’s all bad, but there’s no rule that says a father can’t also be a listening ear. If boys only knew what a wealth of information their fathers could provide, they’d be chewing their ears off all day long. “So what would you like me to do, Reb Matis?” I asked. “I can’t speak to Shraga in your stead, because that’s not what I do. What I can help you with, though, is your own feelings about his situation.” “You can’t talk to Shraga and tell him to get his act together?” “No, sir. I cannot.” “Then I guess I’m done here,” he replied. And with that, he stood up and walked out.   To be continued...


BY DINA NEUMAN

Chapter Twenty-Eight

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ichard Thomas nodded slowly, as if thinking this through. “He wasn’t happy happy. Mr. Reich was not happy happy when his daughter Tova got married. He was, in fact, unhappy.” He smiled again, a very small smile before adding, “Unhappy enough to take Tova out of the will?” “Objection.” Marvin Cohen was instantly on his feet. “The counsel is leading the witness.” “Overruled,” Judge Walkin growled. “This is a cross-examination, counselor. Do you need a refresher course in proper court behavior? Because that can be arranged.” Marvin Cohen sat back down. Thomas stood a minute longer and then nodded. “No further questions.” Elana got up. I’m so sorry, she mouthed to Tova, who could only look back at her miserably. She so badly wanted to get up and run, to leave this vast wooden paneled courtroom filled with uninterested strangers and one irate judge, and vested lawyers and jaded clerks taking down each horrible word that was spoken. Leave it all behind. Pretend it never had happened. Pretend that Daddy was still alive. Pretend that Daddy still loved her. The defense that she had built with her lawyer that had seemed so strong and solid was peeling away in layers, coming apart in the sterile harshness of the courtroom. Would her rock-solid beliefs be revealed as nothing more than a house made of straw? Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in! Tova could almost hear her mother’s voice lowered in drama as she told them the story of the three little pigs

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before bedtime, feel her arms around them both, smell her strawberry shampoo. It was the youngest sibling that had built the strong house of impenetrable materials, right? The oldest of the pigs had foolishly hidden themselves away behind houses of straw and sticks. The youngest had used stone, and his house had withstood the tempest. And now here she was, the overconfident oldest sibling, and the big bad wolf was at her door. And soon the whole structure that she was hiding in would blow away. Had she really built herself a house of straw, a house of wishes and lies? Had she been fooling herself? Had Daddy actually for all intents and purposes written her out of the will? As the next witness went to the stand, Tova replayed the answering machine message over and over in her head. She again heard Daddy saying that he would write her out of his will. And this time she heard the ironic edge to his voice. He was mad, for sure, and upset at Shmuel—Tova made a mental note to ask Shmuel about that day, to find out what he had said that had made Daddy so sure that they would not come—but he was kidding about the will. Right? Daddy had a very deadpan sense of humor. And to make matters worse, he very seldom ended a joke with the requisite “just kidding.” You got it or you didn’t; it was all the same to him. Avi had accused Daddy once of not needing an audience; his humor was really just self-entertainment. Daddy had laughed and then shrugged with feigned shamefacedness.

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So the message was just him being his deadpan self. Right? Right. Because Daddy would not, could not, do this to her. There was another answer to the puzzle of the will, and they would get to the bottom of it one way or another. Just as Tova was prepared to ride the wave of her restored confidence, she stole another glance at Shmuel sitting beside her. And her heart sank. Sure, he had come, just as he had promised that he would. But he refused to meet her gaze and she would have gotten more comfort from a stone statue sitting at her side at this rate. As if sensing her thoughts, Marvin Cohen turned to her and looked at her with a slow and steady gaze. He nodded calmly, and Tova took a deep breath and straightened in her seat. She couldn’t grow faint of heart now. She needed to see this through. She needed— She needed. She, she, she. She thought about what Shmuel had said to her about everything being about her needs; about how selfish she was. She didn’t feel selfish. Weren’t selfish people always pampering themselves, indulging themselves? And Tova couldn’t remember when she hadn’t felt worn out, exhausted and spent like a wrung-out rag hanging to dry at the edge of the sink. So Shmuel didn’t know what he was talking about. And she needed to focus on the courtroom right now. She didn’t have time for all of these doubts right now. An oily slick of fury warmed in the pit of her stomach. How selfish of him, making her falter and doubt herself right when she needed to be strong and confident! She turned away resolutely from the


RECAP: THE TRIAL FOR THE WILL HAD LOOMED SO LARGE FOR BOTH TOVA AND LAKEY, BUT ON THE BIG DAY, THEY BOTH FIND THEMSELVES DISTRACTED BY OTHER CONCERNS: TOVA BY THE WORSENING FRICTION BETWEEN HER AND SHMUEL, AND LAKEY BY HENNY’S MYSTERIOUS ALLERGY. WHILE ELANA GIVES TESTIMONY, LAKEY’S LAWYER IMPLIES THAT MR. REICH HAD REASONS TO WRITE TOVA OUT OF THE WILL.

stone facsimile of Shmuel and faced the witness stand. Lakey’s friend Shoshi was on the stand. The color was high in her cheeks and her hands shook while her eyes sparkled. Tova felt a tinge of annoyance at the girl’s obvious excitement at being part of this drama. Lakey’s stupid friends were gossiping about her all over town, she knew. She had encountered hard stares of

study, because their house was so quiet and mine was so noisy. I have eight sisters and brothers, and a mother and father, and they were just—you know—just the three of them: Lakey, Tova, and her father. So yeah, they were close.” “The witness will refrain from long and pointless monologues and simply answer the question,” the judge rumbled. Shoshi jumped. “Okay. Sorry.”

How selfish of him, making her falter and doubt herself right when she needed to be strong and confident! disapproval in shul and at the supermarket. No one had said anything to her, but it was written all over their faces. What had Lakey been telling them? And what was wrong with her anyway? Why couldn’t she ever keep her mouth shut? “How long have you been friends?” Thomas was asking Shoshi. “Oh, um. Since forever,” Shoshi said. “We, um, we grew up around the corner from each other.” “So you know the family pretty well, then.” “Well—yeah. I mean, we were neighbors.” “Would you say that Lakey and her father were close?” “Yes. Totally. I mean, they were a tiny family. I used to go to Lakey’s house to

“Sorry?” “Sorry? Um, sorry, your honor?” “Are you asking me or telling me?” “Uh, telling you?” There was a murmur of laughter around the courtroom. Shoshi flushed. “Telling you,” she said firmly. “Glad to hear it. Counsel, proceed.” Richard Thomas smiled reassuringly at Shoshi. “And as she got older, did their relationship remain close?” “Yes. Very close. She asked him for everything and anything that she—um.” Shoshi looked up at the judge, fear in her eyes. “Should I stop talking now?” “Now would be a good time,” the judge agreed, irony heavy in his rough voice. “Okay...Your honor!” she added hastily. “And his relationship with Tova?”

Richard Thomas asked. Shoshi shrugged. “Fine, I guess. I mean, I was friends with Lakey more than Tova. She was older than me, and also kind of…” she paused delicately before adding, “kind of standoff-ish.” “Did you notice any tension in their relationship?” “Not tension. I wouldn’t say tension. More like…” Shoshi rolled her eyes upwards as if searching for the right word from a list on the ceiling. Then she nodded. “More like it almost was like she wasn’t a daughter. Like Lakey was the daughter and she was…not exactly the mother, but the one taking care of everything.” “So Lakey was the daughter.” “I mean, Tova was his daughter. You know. But yeah, Lakey was like the real kid in the house. If you know what I mean. Not that she was just like an immature kid, just—” Shoshi slid her eyes at the judge, who was shifting irritably, and quickly closed her mouth. “So,” Richard Thomas walked closer to the witness stand. He was long and lean and with that predatory look on his face, he suddenly brought to Tova’s mind the image of a tiger stalking his prey before going in for the kill. “Would you say, in your opinion, as a lifelong family friend, that if Mr. Reich used the word ‘daughter’ and didn’t mention which one of his daughters he meant by name…would you say that he must have meant Lakey, and not Tova?” “Yes.” Shoshi nodded. “Yes, I would say that if Mr. Reich said the word ‘daughter,’ he wouldn’t mean Tova. He would mean Lakey.” n  To be continued…

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days The Millionaire’s Daughter After a lifetime of doing without, a poor girl receives a priceless inheritance As told to Suri Katz

I

vividly recall, as a little girl of three, clutching my father’s large, warm hand as we entered a Wal-Mart-type store where tricycles were tantalizingly suspended from the ceiling. My hazel green eyes grew wide. “Tatty, can you buy me that bike?” I whispered, pointing longingly at a pink and white three-wheeler sporting Strawberry Shortcake’s smiling face. “Sure, Mamaleh, when I become a millionaire,” he answered, tousling my hair as he made his way to the sale items advertised in the circular we’d gotten in the mail. Over the years, it slowly dawned on me that my father would not become a millionaire anytime soon. Still, I loved him dearly and tried not to pain him with impossible requests. I squelched my wistfulness, determined to be strong in the face of stark reality. I made do with bikes from garage sales and hand-medown clothes from my older sisters. I learned to live with less than my peers. It wasn’t always easy. In truth, it was never easy, yet certain facts of life were

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there to stay: all the wishing in the world would not fill my father’s wallet. As a seminary graduate, I opened a summer camp for girls with a close friend of mine, Devorah. While my friend would carefully deposit her earnings into her savings account, I handed my share over to my father. My parents felt that as long as I was living under their roof I should contribute towards living expenses, while they promised to support me in my early years of marriage. This philosophy might raise some eyebrows, but that was the reality of my situation and the only choice I had, and so I accepted it. One sunny day in July, Devorah and I arranged for our campers to visit a local amusement park. It was a major trip and our campers giggled and chatted with excitement. As part of our partnership, Devorah and I alternated responsibility for the registration money that came in each week. That week, it was Devorah’s turn. For whatever reason, she decided to take the money, nearly $1,000, along with her on the bus. By nature, I am cautious. I never would

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have brought such a large sum of cash on a trip. Money can get lost, stolen or misplaced; it’s just not worth the risk. However, it was Devorah’s turn to be responsible for the funds so I made no comment. Our campers had a blast at the amusement park and after a long and exciting day, we boarded the bus for home. Devorah and I sat together in the front seat and chatted as the bus proceeded on it’s way. Suddenly, Devorah began frantically fishing around in her bag. The color drained from her face. I knew what had happened before she even uttered a word: the registration money was gone. The rest of the ride was awkward. I didn’t know what to say. Was she responsible for reimbursing my share? Not knowing the halachos, I chose to remain silent. So did she. We uncomfortably wished each other a good night as the bus dropped off the last of our exhausted, yet content, campers. But unlike my campers, I was far from content. By the time I entered my house, my mood had mushroomed


from uncertainty into full-blown anger. I was indignant over the injustice of the situation, feeling like a dragon exhaling smoke. I ran straight to my father, who was busy with a pile of bills at the kitchen table. Typical. “Tatty, Devorah brought the registration money on the trip today for no reason and it seems to have been stolen! She is so irresponsible! Why did she bring it? What do I do? Demand that she pays me my half? She didn’t even offer! Should I ask a sheilah? But what is the sheilah!? Obviously, she owes it to me…” I stopped for air and to gulp down a glass of cold water. Due to the financial arrangement I had with my parents, it was my father who was losing out from the stolen funds, not me. Yet he looked straight into my eyes and lovingly told me: “Rivkie, Mamaleh,

OVER THE YEARS, IT DAWNED ON ME THAT MY FATHER WAS NOT BECOMING A MILLIONAIRE ANYTIME SOON. peace between friends is worth more than all of the money in the world. You have been friends with Devorah for years and it really doesn’t matter if she is right or wrong. It would be a pity to destroy a friendship over money. Be moichel, Mamaleh, be moichel. Only brachah can come from that.” He looked at me warmly with his soft brown eyes and then went back to his bills, trying to figure out which ones he could push off paying.

I stood in awe. Here was a man so lacking in a material sense, yet was infinitely wealthy in spirit and values. I saw clearly that the money I’d lost was unimportant when compared to the priceless gifts of love, family and friendship I had in abundance. Decades have passed since then and my father is no longer with us. Now I am privileged to pass on his legacy to my own children, the grandchildren that always made him feel like a real millionaire. 

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days A Visit to West Point

I might have stuck my foot in my mouth, but I learned something very important By Chaya Silber

B

ack in May, we took a family trip one Friday morning to the United States Military Academy at West Point. West Point, a historic army base nestled in the scenic Hudson Valley, was established in 1802. It trains approximately 1,300 new cadets each year, of whom 1,000 graduate. The cadets were marking the milestone of their graduation with one of their famous parades, known as reviews. Since the premises are open to the public (read: free entertainment), we kept the kids home from school and headed north on the Palisades Interstate Parkway. When we left, the skies were cloudy with a hint of rain, but the festivities were still on. After a lengthy detour (we mistakenly followed a winding back road to the West Point Golf Course, five miles away) we finally arrived at the entrance. We went through security, including bombsniffing dogs and guards decked out in intimidating military gear, then parked and boarded the waiting buses for a ride to the upper field. The sprawling city-like complex was swarming with life, with shops, quaint homes and cadets in full uniform on every street. We joined various groups of parents, relatives and friends of the cadets who had come from across the country to take part in this special day. The cadets were attired in their trademark blue and white uniforms, glistening swords at their sides.

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A bugle played and they began to march across the field, their faces reflecting the solemnity of the occasion. “All stand for the national anthem,” a voice announced over the microphone. We placed our right hands over our hearts to the strains of “Oh, say can you see…” In a moving ceremony, the band serenaded the outgoing class of 2013 and welcomed the new recruits, who stood immobile, at attention, in the heat. About halfway through, the graduating class marched to the rear of the field, and the new cadets took center stage along with their new commanders. We marveled at their precise coordination: the way they all seemed to mirror each other’s movements. Standing nearby was the mother of one cadet, a slight, blonde woman from Massachusetts. She made it a point to mention, with barely concealed pride, “They’ve been practicing all week long. In fact, it was so hot earlier in the week that three of them fainted.” “Was the practice session canceled?” “Of course not! These cadets are well trained. A little discomfort doesn’t stop them.” Their uniforms, which included a thick

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woolen jacket, long slacks, hat and gloves, was surely stifling in this weather, yet they wore it with pride. After all, as one of my children observed, “When you’re proud of what you stand for and who you are, your ‘uniform’ doesn’t feel like a burden.” Ouch. The proud Mom told me that this was her last visit to West Point before her son’s deployment to Fort Benning in Georgia, from where he would be shipped straight to his assignment. Was he scared? Anxious about being shipped to the wilds of Afghanistan? “Not at all. He’s been itching to join the military ever since he was a kid.” I wondered if these were “canned” lines or she really meant them. Of course, I couldn’t ask. “Is it hard to be accepted into West Point?” I inquired. Another mother who was standing


nearby spoke up. “I think this year they only accepted what? About seven percent of applicants? You have to have stellar grades and a Congressional sponsorship.” In glowing terms, the first mother described the excellent curriculum, workout program and opportunities to embark on a thrilling career. Aside from military training, the cadets at West Point receive a regular college education, courtesy of Uncle Sam. We were having a pleasant conversation, my kids learning about army life, when I made a stupid, I-should-have-bitten-mytongue mistake. “So, is the education free?” I asked lightly. Instantly, I sensed a change in the atmosphere. Within seconds, it had cooled down several degrees. “Free?” the second woman responded, her voice betraying hurt. “Nothing in life is free. We pay a very heavy price for their ‘free’ education.”

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“We mothers are very sensitive to this type of question,” the first mother explained in an acerbic tone. Her body language screamed that I’d committed a major blunder. I apologized profusely, stressing how much we appreciate the sacrifice of our soldiers and value their contribution to the security of our nation. Unfortunately, though, it was too little, too late. When the parade was over and we headed back to the buses, we observed the now-smiling cadets posing in full uniform with their proud families. And I began to wonder about their future assignments, in hot spots around the globe, where a carefully placed IED (Improvised Explosive Device) can destroy hopes, and shatter dreams and lives in an instant. I pictured these parents sitting tight, waiting for a phone call or text, for the knowledge that their child was alive and safe. I tried to imagine—but couldn’t quite

picture—the agony of hearing that their 20-year-old was in a firefight in Fallujah or engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the Taliban in Helmand Province. No doubt, these parents spent their days and nights praying for their children’s welfare. Yet there’s more than one way to serve. Not all of these soldiers will be putting themselves in harm’s way on the front lines of battle. Some of the most brilliant, talented cadets will be working in army intelligence, translating hidden messages or cracking complicated codes in order to save lives. But regardless of the way they choose to serve, all will be making a great sacrifice. And they all deserve our enduring appreciation and gratitude.  To submit your story for this column or to have your story featured here, please contact us at submissions@amimagazine.org.

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