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ELKY’S WHOLESOME CAJUN BUTTERNUT SQUASH FRIES, MOCK SPAGHETTI & MARINARA + MORE

OCTOBER 30, 2013 / 26 CHESHVAN 5774 ISSUE 141

J U S N T A H A T D E I E R T O M

REA BOCHNER SHARES HER STORY CAJUN BUTTERNUT SQUASH FRIES, MOCK SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH HEARTY MARINARA, & MORE

ISSUE 141 OCTOBER 30, 2013 26 CHESHVAN 5774

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from Elky from Miriam

Lots of Healthful Dishes and Treats Like These Sweet Potato Cupcakes

>>> REBBETZIN TWERSKI BEGINNERS ARE NOT AT THE BOTTOM >>> MY TAKE DON’T ORPHAN YOUR CHILDREN TWICE >>> TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES A NEWLYWED IS AFRAID TO CONFESS SHE LOST THEIR WEDDING MONEY >>> SARAH SHAPIRO HERE AND NOW >>> OUR DAYS MY MOTHER’S LAST GIFT >>> AN OFFER WE COULD NOT REFUSE >>> OVERTIME COOK SWEET POTATO CUPCAKES + HEALTHY APPLE SPICE MUFFINS


CONTENTS

26 Cheshvan 5774 October 30, 2013

Features 10 My Take

A forum for AmiLiving readers By Bayla Gross

20  Truth or Consequences

I didn’t think I could muster up the courage to confess to my new husband about the money. As told to Chaya Gross

22  The Clean Bill

The War Within: A compulsive overeater tells her story. By Rea Bochner

30  Here & Now

Inchworm, Inchworm By Sarah Shapiro

22

Departments 4

Editorial By Rechy Frankfurter

6

Letters

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The Rebbetzin Speaks

CAJUN BUTTERNUT SQUASH FRIES, MOCK SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH HEARTY MARINARA, & MORE

By Rebbetzin Feige Twerski

ISSUE 141 OCTOBER 30, 2013 26 CHESHVAN 5774

12 Parshah By Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein

13 Golden Nuggets

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By Basha Majerczyk

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4 Wholesome Rich Fall Bounty. Winter squash gets a makeover in these warm, comforting dishes. By Elky Friedman

By Liora Stein

36 The Shidduch Saga By Chana Rose

40  The Narrow Bridge

10 Overtime Cook Falling for Baking and Baking for Fall

By Peri Berger

42  Daddy’s Girl

By Miriam Pascal

By Dina Neuman

44  Our Days

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The rhythm of our lives AMI•LIVING

from Miriam

Lots of Healthful Dishes and Treats Like These Sweet Potato Cupcakes

By Victoria Dwek

16 Debt Diary

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from Elky

2 Hello, Cooks

By Chaya Silber

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Inside Whisk

in Whisk

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14 2 Girls on a Diet Challenge

By Basya Fruchter and Devoiry Fine


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Dear Readers, A friend of mine, when looking for a shidduch for her son, said that she wanted to find him a girl who was naturally thin. Now, before condemning her for being shallow, please understand that her reasoning wasn’t based on aesthetics; she wasn’t looking for a perfect, model-like daughter-in-law. Rather, she wanted a naturally thin girl because of her own experience. “Women like me who struggle with their weight are always miserable,” she explained. “When we’re heavy, we’re miserable because we’re heavy. When we’re thin, we’re miserable because we’re hungry. I want my son to have a happy wife.” That is certainly no shallow prayer.

Editor in Chief Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter

Editorial

Senior Editor Rechy Frankfurter Managing Editors Victoria Dwek Yossi Krausz

Unfortunately, even “naturally thin girls” can morph into unhappy ones at some point in their lives. According to statistics, only nine percent of women in North America claim to have never dieted. Sometimes the weight creeps up during the childbearing years, or metabolism changes when a woman hits her 40s or 50s. Only a lucky few are spared having to wage this battle.

Feature Editor Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum Coordinating Editor Toby Worch Copy Editors Basha Majerczyk Dina Schreiber Rabbi Yisroel Benedek

In this week’s “The Clean Bill,” Rea Bochner tells the gripping story of her struggle with food addiction. It is both powerful and moving.

Art

Experts say that addiction to food is the hardest addiction to conquer. To overcome other addictions, such as a drug or alcohol addiction, one must completely abstain. An alcoholic or drug addict must never let down his guard and take that first drink or use drugs even once. The same is true with gambling. Food addicts, by contrast, do not have the option of abstention. A human being cannot go without food. It is an enemy that must be constantly reckoned with, taunting and challenging the addict to give in to excess.

Art Directors Alex Katalkin David Kniazuk

Food

Food Editors Victoria Dwek Leah Schapira

Advertising

Executive Account Manager Zack Blumenfeld

When reading about other addictions such as drugs or gambling, many people feel far removed from the problem and don’t generally fear that it could happen to them. In fact, they may even feel smug or be judgmental. However, when the subject is food addiction, we all feel a certain vulnerability, navigating that fine line between turning to food for comfort and becoming addicted to it. Our own struggles make us sensitive to the sufferer’s pain, as if “there but for the grace of G-d go I.”

Executive Sales Directors Surie Katz Esther Friedman Europe Advertising 44 7891 297 866 Advertising Coordinator Malky Friedman

For Jews, of course, the act of eating is imbued with spirituality. So many of the Torah’s mitzvos are associated with food. We observe the laws of kashrus, make brachos before eating, and are commanded to enjoy festive meals on Shabbos and Yom Tov. We elevate what would otherwise be a mundane, biological necessity to the realm of holiness.

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

Ami Magazine

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

Perhaps our vulnerability, which translates into empathy for others, is another step in elevating ourselves.

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

No-Carb Diets Aren’t Always No-Good A grey sheet dieter writes in

In reference to “My Good Habits,” Issue 137

I love your magazine and I read it cover to cover every week. I’d like to challenge Tanya Rosen, the nutritionist, on page 13 in Whisk, Issue 137. She claimed that no-carb diets might work short-term but they don’t usually work long-term. I am following the Grey Sheet program, and I’ve lost 100 pounds. I have not yet maintained it for long, but there are hundreds or thousands of Grey Sheet members worldwide with miraculous recovery, who have maintained their weight loss for 10, 20, or even 30 years, living a new healthy life full of blessings and miracles. We are ahead of the nutritional and medical professionals. A no-carb diet works if you work it! Some people have an allergy to sugar, and all kinds of grains trigger an addiction reaction with even just one lick, like alcohol for alcoholics. I am a grateful recovered compulsive overeater, following the Grey Sheet solution just for today—one day at a time! Rachel

Strong Enough to Let Go You made the right choice In reference to “Truth or Consequences,” Issue 137

Dear “Just Perfect” Mother: When I was a young teenager, my mother gave birth to a baby: a beautiful girl with Down syndrome. My mother was not aware that there were any problems until a few hours after the birth. My mother, like you, was unable to bring the child home. She did not feel that she would be able to give the child her all, to help her fulfill her potential. She had a hard time bringing herself to love this child. After much discussion and rabbinical guidance, they decided to give her up to foster care. Baruch Hashem, my sister is getting the best care possible, and is flourishing. We visit her from time to time, and we keep in touch with her foster parents. My parents have never regretted their decision. They realized that giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak. Sometimes it means you’re strong enough to let go. Do not feel guilty about what you did. For you and your family it was the right choice at the time. I quote: “He’s G-d’s child, and ours to share.” Much hatzlachah, and may Hashem give you the necessary strength. Anonymous |

AMI•LIVING

ISSUE 137 OCTOBER 2, 2013 28 TISHREI 5774

The Annual Diet Issue

Dear Editor:

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RENEE’S FILLING AND LOW-CAL ENERGY-BOOSTING BREAKFASTS AND LUNCHES

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Feel iated! Sat

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Thank You for the Nutritional Information Reader has a suggestion

In reference to “Whisk,” Issue 137

Dear Editor: On behalf of my family and myself, I want to thank you all for an outstanding publication week after week. We have all benefited from your ability to inform, explain and educate about so many fascinating subjects, and we eagerly wait for the magazine every week. I love browsing through the fantastic recipes and ideas in Whisk, and was so excited last week to find not only great and delicious healthful recipes, but also the nutritional values! Since I must prepare food in keeping with specific dietary values and need to calculate carbohydrates, proteins and fats in every recipe, this was a dream come true! Please, please can you continue doing this? I am sure I am not the only one who will benefit. Thanks again for an amazing magazine! A.M. AMI MAGAZINE 1575 50th St., Brooklyn, NY 11219 Phone: (718) 534-8800 Fax: (718) 484-7731 letters@amimagazine.org


Emunah Equals Shalom Bayis AmiLiving delivers much needed chizzuk In reference to “Our Days,” Issue 134

Dear Editor: After reading the “Our Days” story, “Sometimes It’s Too Late,” I feel that the woman who wrote it gave me a lot of chizzuk for my own difficult marriage! I try to strengthen myself in emunah by reading The Garden of Emunah all the time, where he writes that “Emunah equals shalom bayis,” and I see it is true. But I always dreamed of having a good marriage and an easier time, so it’s hard. The article really did wonders in showing me the pain of divorce, and strengthened me to continue working hard on my own marriage. So I’m ending this letter by writing that I really want to bentch this woman with menuchas hanefesh in the zechus of giving chizzuk to others. B’hatzlachah. Anonymous

Mystery Solved Thanks for clearing it up

In reference to “The Clean Bill,” Issue 138

Dear Editor: Thank you for solving my own personal mystery. During my two pregnancies, the psoriasis on my scalp and face would magically disappear. You wrote in the article that “during pregnancy the body naturally produces a substance called corticosteroids,” and surprise, surprise, the treatment for psoriasis is corticosteroids. Thanks for clearing that up (pun intended)! Debbie Fried

H U G E S H I P M E N T O F N E W A R R I VA L S

encore

Spare the Rod and Lower the Voice Hollering is as harmful as hitting

Parents are often warned about the possible legal repercussions, and more importantly, the long-term negative effects of corporal punishment on their children, as discussed in Issue 74’s feature article “Should You Spank?” But now, a study out of the University of Pittsburgh cautions parents that yelling at teens and tweens—particularly with insults—can be just as harmful as hitting. The study, which looked at 967 middle-school students over a two-year period, found that those whose parents used “harsh verbal discipline” were more likely to be depressed or have behavior problems. To top it all off, the study found that yelling was—surprise—also not effective in getting children to stop their negative behavior. Perhaps most alarming of all, the study found that yelling was damaging even to children in homes that were generally warm and loving. So, what’s a mother to do? Keep on reading the AmiLiving “Parenting” columns for chinuch advice…


THE

REBBETZIN SPEAKS

BEGINNINGS YOU’RE NOT AT THE BOTTOM, YOU’RE AT THE STARTING GATE By Rebbetzin Feige Twerski

S

arah walked into my office clearly distraught. She is an individual who takes life seriously, constantly striving, as she puts it, “to become a better person.”

The source of her distress was that now that the Holy Days have passed, the momentum for growth and burning desire to actualize the resolve of that season was quickly fading away. Life as usual was taking over. She had “miles to go” of the formidable journey that awaited her, and she hadn’t even taken the first step. Sarah’s dilemma is not an unfamiliar one. It is fair to say that at one time or another we have all suffered from this state of paralysis, caused by our perception that the goal is so distant from our present location that it doesn’t even pay to try to move forward. My son, Rav Efraim, shlita, of Chicago, shared a wonderful insight that sheds light on the impediments to growth we all face. He quoted the Zohar’s interpretation of the first word of the Torah, “Bereishis,” as meaning “beis reishis,” literally two beginnings or two heads. Usually, he explained, the work we have to do looms before us like a veritable ladder. We see ourselves as being at the very bottom, not having even ascended to the first rung. This perception is what drains our energy and demoralizes us. If,

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instead of the bottom, we saw ourselves as being at the beginning, our task would become much more doable. This approach would constitute the first of the two beginnings alluded to in the word “bereishis.” On a deeper level, this is the gist of the message Hashem gave Chavah after she allowed the primordial serpent to persuade her to eat of the tree. We are taught that the snake represents the yetzer hara—the evil inclination. It is precisely the voice of this lesser part of ourselves

anticipates that our journey will include moments when we will seriously question our resolve and good intentions. The voice of the snake that resides within us is ready and willing to undermine our every step. It will rear its ugly head time and again, and try to persuade us that we are at the bottom. Our response must be that, on the contrary, it is the “rosh,” the beginning, however modest. The second “rosh” of “bereishis” is when we reach our goal, the top of the ladder, only to realize that there are many more

We need to be clear about the fact that every step along the way is valuable and precious to the Master of the Universe. that tries to convince us that we are at the bottom, and that the climb toward our destination is far too steep for us to navigate. Hashem therefore tells Chavah that “there will be enmity forever between you and the snake.” This is the way the battle will shape up: “Hu yeshufcha rosh.” Man will be successful when he will trample you with “rosh,” viewing the road ahead as a beginning, and you will be victorious when “teshufenu akeiv,” when you will strike him with the pitfall of “eikev,” making him believe that he is at the bottom. The Torah is realistic, and fully

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mountains to climb. We need to be clear about the fact that every step along the way is valuable and precious to the Master of the Universe. On a lighter note, the concept of beginnings once got me out of a tight spot. I enjoy the ends, the crusty part of the challah. My husband, shlita, knowing this preference of mine, sends me these ends along with my “motzi” at the Shabbos table. My conflict was that tradition advises us that eating ends promotes forgetfulness and lapses in memory, which especially at my stage in life is undesirable, bordering on a phobia.


I expressed my frustration to my son, Rabbi Bentzion, shlita, and he saved the day for me. He said, “Mom, instead of looking at them as ends, just see them as beginnings.” It was an eye-opener for me. I must admit that since then I enjoy my challah allotments, my beginnings, more than ever. It is undeniable that the way we frame things makes all the difference. The good news is that since our first session, Sarah has embraced the concept of beginnings and has tried to implement it in her daily life. She reported that on a number of occasions recently she was able to resist sharing negative information with others. This was a departure from her previous habitual behavior and required a great deal of self-control on her part. It was a major victory for her, and although she understands that she might not always be successful, she felt empowered. She had the sense that Hashem was at her side, proud and cheering her on. She had progressed from “bottoming out” to a solid “beginning.” She was on her way!  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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TAKE

TWICE ORPHANED?

When a parent dies, it’s important to maintain the connection with grandparents BY BAYLA GROSS

E

ver since I was a little girl I knew that I had two Mommies: one Mommy who had given birth to me, and another Mommy who had brought me up after my father remarried, just as I was hitting the terrible twos. I don’t remember any earth-shattering revelation or disclosure. I grew up knowing this fact the same way I knew that carriages were for strolling, bottles were for drinking and older stepsisters were for biting. (Blush. More on that another time…perhaps.) There was a little confusion over the facts in the beginning, when I would stare up at my stepmother with my innocent, liquid-brown eyes and solemnly declare, “Mommy, you died.” It took me a while till I fully grasped that Mommy A had indeed died, but Mommy B was right here in the flesh, very much alive, thank G-d! (Think Dr. Seuss: Thing 1 and Thing 2). Growing up, I had a lovely relationship with my maternal and paternal grandparents, as well as the extra set I acquired when my father remarried. I didn’t bat an eyelash that I had three sets of grandparents, while most of the world had only two. In my young mind, the number of grandparents a kid had was something like siblings. Some had two, some three and some nine—no rhyme or reason. My father and stepmother never attempted to cut off contact with my birth mother’s family. On the contrary,

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there was mutual respect and love on all sides. That is not to say that everything was smooth sailing up until adulthood. Like most children, I had my fair share of bumps—perhaps different bumps—due to my situation. I remember when my father informed me that starting from the age of bas mitzvah, I should say Yizkor for my birth mother in shul. I especially dreaded Yom Kippur throughout my teenage years, when the shul was exploding at its seams with old ladies, young ladies and my friends. Boy, did I wish myself invisible when everyone gave me pitying glances (imagined or real) as they swept past me on their way out. After all, they had two living parents, not like poor Bayla. Whenever I attended family simchos on my birth mother’s side, I would invariably meet some of her old friends. “Oh! You’re Fraidy’s, zichronah livrachah, daughter?” Well, yeah. I guess I am. But that doesn’t mean that I automatically feel like your best friend, even if you did trade stickers with my mother in the fifth grade. I also hated with a passion being singled out because I was the “living remembrance” of my birth mother. When I was in tenth grade, my birth mother’s siblings chipped in to fly me in for a first cousin’s bar mitzvah. I went alone—no parents, stepsiblings or half-siblings came along with me. While I appreciated their kind gesture and devotion, I was not yet emotionally

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I DIDN’T BAT AN EYELASH THAT I HAD THREE SETS OF GRANDPARENTS, WHILE MOST OF THE WORLD HAD ONLY TWO.


mature enough to enjoy being there as “Fraidy’s, aleha hashalom, daughter.” Like many teenagers, I wasn’t entirely comfortable in my own skin, and I could have done without being on center stage, whether it was my imagination or not. But on the whole, on a scale of 1 to 100, the discomfort of always knowing that I was “different” was a 5, while the comfort of knowing that my birth mother’s family truly loved and cared for me was a 95. Decades have passed since then. I am now a 30-something-year-old with more kids than can be counted on one hand. Any awkwardness I felt as a teenager has evaporated, like so many teenage issues that tend to resolve themselves with emotional growth and maturity. Here’s the deal, though: I’ve read in various publications and heard from people directly that many fathers who lose their first wife at a young age (or mothers who lose their first husband) and later remarry believe they are doing their children a service by severing contact with the deceased parent’s parents and other members of that family. What a crime! Why shouldn’t children receive love from these grandparents and relatives? The grandparents didn’t die. The aunts and uncles didn’t die. There’s no reason for either side to lose out and be deprived of the relationship. There is enough love and intelligence in a child’s heart to encompass more bubbies and zeidies than the standard four. Having a loving relationship with her birth mother’s parents does not diminish in any way, shape or form the love she has for her step-grandparents. My position is based on the assumption that one is dealing with healthy, emotionally mature people. Obviously, if the grandparents are unstable and are out to turn their grandchild against a stepparent, then that dynamic would not be healthy. But the vast majority of parents grieving for their lost adult child are simply that—grieving parents, who would derive no small measure of comfort from keeping up the connection with their grandchildren. I am grateful to my stepmother for not stepping in the way of my bond with my birth mother’s grandparents. It did not cheapen our mother-daughter bond. On the contrary, it enriched it. Former widows and widowers who are now remarried, I beseech you: For the sake of your innocent children, do not cut them off from their deceased parent’s parents. Doing so is the equivalent of an emotional amputation for life. Take it from someone who has been there. n Bayla is a mother of six children, living in Israel


PARSHAS TOLDOS // By Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein

ABOUT FACE

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azal tov! 100-year-old Avraham and 90-year-old Sarah have just had their first child. Can you believe it? Not everyone did. Rashi explains that the scoffers of the time, the letzanei hador, were skeptical about Yitzchak’s parentage. After all, how could a couple well into their twilight years possibly have a baby? They met the news with cynical smiles. To make sure the joking by the letzanim fell flat, Hashem took decisive action: He changed Yitzchak’s face to look identical to Avraham’s. And, just to make his point, Hashem added four extra words to the Torah as indisputable evidence, which translate to: “Avraham was the father of Yitzchak.” Hashem’s reaction to the letzanim is puzzling, considering his reaction when He wrote in the Torah, “Let us make man in our image.” Said the angels, “This ‘us’ will allow minim (heretics) to claim that there is more than one power in the universe.” Hashem replied simply, “Let them think whatever they will. The next pasuk makes it perfectly clear what happened. It says, in the singular, ‘And Hashem created man.’” For those who are called letzanim, Hashem goes to the nth degree to show them the truth. But for those called minim, Hashem makes no effort whatsoever. David Hamelech began Tehillim with these words: “Happy is the man who does not go according to the advice of resha’im (evil people), and in the path of chata’im (sinners) he does not stand, and among the gatherings of letzim (scoffers) he does not sit.” The Malbim clarifies what the difference is among these three groups: Resha’im have advice to share! These are people who have worked out a philosophy that challenges every aspect

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of our Torah, and want to persuade you to follow them. Chata’im are different. These people are slaves to their own passions but are not interested in your joining them. They are solely focused on their own taavos. The Malbim’s depiction of letzanim is remarkably apt in this day and age. These are the people who are mostly interested in having a good time. They don’t do a lot of harm, nor do they do a lot of good. Mostly, they’re concerned with the latest fashion trends, celebrity gossip and the new exciting toy they can have fun with. They have no interest in growth or selfreflection, and they certainly don’t learn Torah. This describes the majority of simple Jews of our generation. As the adage goes, there are none as deaf as those who will not hear. The minim are going to think what they want to think, so Hashem makes no effort to change their minds. But concerning letzanim—the complacent Jews who don’t do a lot of harm, nor a lot of good, who care only about having fun—for them, Hashem will halt the Earth’s orbit

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to stop them from reaching the wrong conclusions. He changes Yitzchak’s face to mirror his father Avraham’s; he even adds four extra words to the Torah just to make the point. Perhaps the reason that letzanim are so focused on fun, fashion and gossip is that they don’t learn Torah. Because no one reached out to teach them Torah. The Chofetz Chaim writes that anyone who reaches out to help such people deserves a special title: Ro’eih Yisrael, a shepherd leading back lost Jewish lambs. This is something we should all aspire to be. Just as Hakadosh Baruch Hu changed nature to protect the truth by transforming Yitzchak’s face to Avraham’s and adding four extra words to the Torah, so should we be willing to go as far as we can to stop Jews from missing the real emes. 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

THE MIRROR

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he Alter Rebbe, also known as the Baal Hatanya, was once visiting a certain village when a fire broke out. He asked to be brought to the site, where he stood for a few minutes leaning on his cane and observing the scene. Within minutes the blaze was out. Some soldiers who had been working to put out the fire reported the strange occurrence to their commanding officer, who immediately summoned the Alter Rebbe. The first question the officer asked him was, “Are you the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov?” “Not physically, but in the spiritual sense,” he replied. “That is, I am the disciple of his disciple.” “Well, that explains it then,” said the officer, “and I am no longer surprised by your actions. Let me tell you a story that happened to my late father and the Baal Shem Tov. “My father was a high-ranking general,” he began, “who was once stationed in Mezhibuzh. One time, several weeks passed without my father receiving even one letter from his wife. He was terribly worried. Unburdening himself to a friend, the man suggested that he go to the Baal Shem Tov, who lived in the town and was known as a miracle worker. ‘Perhaps he can help you,’ he said. “My father sent word to the Baal Shem Tov asking to see him but the Baal Shem Tov refused. He sent a second messenger, and again the Baal Shem Tov said no. My father then sent the message that if he refused to speak to him, he would issue an order requiring the Jews of Mezhibuzh to quarter the troops; he knew it was almost Passover, and they certainly wouldn’t want soldiers in their homes with their leavened bread and foodstuffs. The Baal Shem Tov relented and agreed to see him. “And so, my father set off for the Baal Shem Tov’s house together with his

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“He walked over to the mirror to fix his hair, and was shocked by what he saw.” assistant. When they walked into the waiting area, the door was open to the next room where the Baal Shem Tov was sitting; they could see him at a table immersed in a book. In anticipation of their meeting, my father walked over to a mirror on the wall to fix his hair and make sure he looked presentable. But when he looked in the mirror, instead of his face he was shocked to see the road leading to his hometown. He immediately called over his assistant, and the two of them watched as the mirror proceeded to reveal the town itself, then my father’s house, and finally, his wife sitting at her desk, writing a letter to her husband. They could even read the

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letter’s contents, which was an apology for not having written sooner and an announcement that she had given birth to a son. Mother and baby were both doing well. “My father was very relieved and thanked the Baal Shem Tov profusely. Sometime later the letter arrived, which was exactly the one they had read in the vision. My father later recorded the incident in his memoirs. “And I,” the officer declared, “am the baby whose birth was referred to in that letter.” He then brought out his father’s memoirs and showed them to the Alter Rebbe. n


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BYTES

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

An Apple a Day 5 Tips from Your Pediatrician 1. Trust Us. If we treat your precious baby’s sniffles with a prescription for R&R (rest and relaxation), that means you can take it easy. We’d rather not destroy your child’s delicate immune system with antibiotics that won’t do a thing.

2. Sometimes a Phone Call Will Do. The phone is a great time-saving tool for busy mothers and their pediatricians. It’s not necessary to rush to the doctor’s office every time your baby sneezes. If your child seems a bit irritable but isn’t running a fever, you can always pick up the phone and ask if you should bring him or her in. Most pediatricians worth their salt will respond to phone messages within a few hours (or have dedicated phone hours in the evening).

3. Checklist, Please. Going for a well visit? Prepare a short list before you come in. This will prevent that sinking feeling when you arrive home and realize you forgot to ask the most important question. Keep in mind that your doctor should be a source of information for toilet training, feeding issues, sleeping through the night, etc. If you feel you can’t discuss anything but your kids’ immunizations and rashes, perhaps it’s time to find another doctor. 4. Be Sweet to the Staff. The devoted staff members answer the phones, squeeze you in for emergency appointments, and try to make sure you don’t sit for hours in the waiting room. It’s worth your while to show your appreciation. Smile at them, send them a box of chocolates for the holidays, and be sure to thank them for all that they do.

5. Mama Knows Best. We know our business; we’ve been taking care of little ones for years. But you’re the mother, and Mama usually knows best. Trust your intuition.

IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU AND ME... PRONOUNS CAN BE REVEALING

Are you an “I” person? Or do you tend to say “we”? Experts have found that use of the word “I” says a lot about the kind of person you are. One might assume that “I” folks are more selfish and narcissistic, but it’s quite the opposite. Research from the University of Texas suggests that frequent “I” users tend to be less sure of themselves than those who use “we”; their focus on self often reflects a sense of inferiority and a need for approval. Pronouns in general are more revealing than you might think, claims James W. Pennebaker, chair of the psychology department at the University of Texas and pioneer in this line of research, who says that they “signal where someone’s internal focus is pointing.” Dr. Pennebaker and his colleagues recently conducted a series of studies on pronoun use and its relationship with self-image, and published their results in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology. They found that those with positive self-images used “I” less frequently. So, how was “our” day? Did “we” have a good time?

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PUTTER

AROUND

BEDTIME BLUES?

the

HOUSE

WHY STICKING TO BEDTIME IS VITAL

A regular bedtime isn’t just a great idea for a household routine. According to a recent study at the University College of London, inconsistent bedtimes that vary greatly can create serious behavioral issues in children. In the study, seven-year-olds who had irregular bedtimes were found to be way more likely to have behavior problems than those who were tucked in each night at about the same time. In addition, the longer a child had been put to bed at different times each night, the worse these behavior problems got. “Irregular bedtimes were linked to behavioral difficulties, and these effects appeared to accumulate through early childhood,” said the study’s lead author, Yvonne Kelly, a professor of life course epidemiology at University College, London (UK). “We also found that the effects appeared to be reversible; children who changed from not having, to having, regular bedtimes showed improvements in behaviors, and vice versa.”

MONTHLY TASKS YOU SHOULDN’T SKIP

SHOWER HEAD T.L.C. Is your shower head sluggish? Does the water trickle? To get rid of mineral deposits, unscrew the showerhead and wipe off loose debris with a sponge. Then, using a large zip-top bag, submerge the head in a solution of white vinegar and water. Soak for a few minutes, rinse, and replace.

GRANDMA, WHAT BIG TEETH YOU HAVE!

WHY GETTING BRACES IS A LIFELONG INVESTMENT

UNCLOG THOSE DRAINS Unclog and deodorize your kitchen sinks (especially the fleishig side), by pouring half a cup of baking soda, followed by half a cup of white vinegar, down the drain. Rinse with hot water. Great for getting rid of grease and gook buildup.

It’s sad but true: Crooked teeth get a bad rap. In a recent study conducted by Kelton Research, over 1,000 subjects were shown pictures of people with straight or crooked teeth. One caveat: They had no idea they were supposed to be focusing on the teeth, or that teeth were even a part of the study. The subjects were asked to choose which of the people in the photos they believed were more likely to be successful, wealthy, or to get a job. Surprise! The subjects felt that those with straight teeth were 45 percent more likely to get a job than those with crooked teeth. Folks with straight teeth were also 58 percent more likely to be successful and wealthy. But, wait: It gets better. Those with straight teeth were 21 percent more likely to be called “happy,” 47 percent more likely to be dubbed “healthy,” and 38 percent more likely to be seen as “smart.” So forget “Early to bed, early to rise.” Just straighten your teeth: You’ll feel happy, healthy, and wise. 2 6 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

“VENTING” OUT THE DRYER Dryer vents are notorious for getting clogged and making your energy bills soar. Make sure to brush lint from the lint trap after every load. And once a month, clean the vent with a vacuum hose attachment. You’ll also want to check that the vent isn’t twisted or bunched up; just a tiny adjustment to it can save you a lot of grief. THE COBWEB SWEEP Take a long-handled duster (or cover a broom with a rag) and sweep the corners of all the ceilings, light fixtures, and the top of the kitchen cabinets. You’ll be surprised at how much dust has built up!

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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: Refinancing the mortgage and negotiating a tuition break means the Steins haven’t had to use their credit cards so far this month. They disagree about how to maximize the cash payout from the new loan, grateful for the small reprieve.

Part 11: Bargain Hunters Before we burn through the skipped mortgage payment, I consult a maven. My friend’s mother agrees to share how she raised a family of eight on a tight budget, without anyone feeling deprived. “Don’t buy what you don’t need,” she tells me, with a comforting smile. As she shows me around her wellstocked and organized cabinet, I believe I can achieve frugal abundance too. “When you’re out of a few items that are expensive on the avenue, buy from Costco or Amazing Savings instead. Don’t stock up all at once.” Mrs. D offers to go through my grocery list to advise me where to find my food and household staples for the best value. Aluminum containers and plastic cups are cheapest at Amazing Savings, Costco’s great for laundry detergent, lettuce, cheese, eggs, coffee beans, sugar and oil. Only purchase meat on sale. She makes it sound so easy. She serves me tea as she listens to my haphazard shopping habits, which frequently leave Tzvi running to the market late Thursday night, a situation that leads to arguments over forgotten items. Grocery shopping’s been a huge point of contention and I’m hoping advice from a third party will bridge the divide between Tzvi’s way (buy a little every day) and mine

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(stock up to save time and money). As I walk home, I wonder what Tzvi will say about her Costco recommendation. A real city kid, the first time he went there (10 years ago) he called me at home: “I’m in a warehouse,” he’d said. “I can’t find anyone to take down the boxes I need.” Tzvi has hated Costco since that very first trip—and he doesn’t think it’s cheaper. “The more paper cups you have, the more you use,” Tzvi complained on his second foray into the warehouse one Sunday afternoon, as we inched down the crowded aisles in search of dish soap and baby wipes. “But you pay less per cup,” I argued. “And I don’t have to run to the store every two days.” Our purchases that day had topped $400; Tzvi was annoyed. “I don’t want to lock up our cash in 20 rolls of paper towels,” he explained after shlepping in cases of tissues, hot cups, nine heads of lettuce, and three jugs of Tide. Growing up in the suburbs, I’d been schooled that shopping at Costco was thrifty and wise—the right of a middle-class family. Tzvi’s opposition to my family’s shopping ritual felt petty, small, cheap and restrictive back then. But now, with our mortgage dominating our expense sheet, spending at Costco looked more


WEEKLY SPENDI NG

like a luxury trip to Saks Fifth Avenue. The house is quiet when I get home. I put up water for coffee. “Do you want to hear what she said?” I ask. Tzvi’s sitting at the table surrounded by sefarim. “Sure,” he answers, barely looking up. “She told me where I should buy stuff for a bargain: Amazing Savings, Costco. Check watsonsale.com.” “When will you be doing this?” says Tzvi. His tone is sarcastic and high-pitched. “I’m not going to Costco on Sundays.” “I’ll go,” I say calmly. “I’ll find time.” “I’ll believe it when I see it, Liora,” Tzvi says, biting his nails. “Shopping’s been my job for the past seven years.” “I can do it, Tzvi.” I scoot back my chair to get up from the table. “I can do my share.” “Either way, now’s not the time to stock up,” Tzvi says, following me to the kitchen, where I’m grinding coffee beans. “It’s not stocking up,” I explain, “Mrs. D told me to find what we usually buy, but for better prices.” “Just because we’ve got money in the bank this

Now, with our mortgage dominating our expense sheet, spending at Costco looked more like a luxury trip to Saks Fifth Avenue. month, doesn’t mean we should spend it,” Tzvi continues. “In a week, we’ll have to pay the mortgage again and I haven’t gotten a raise yet, have I?” He’s shoveling ice cream into his mouth, as I stir milk and sugar into my cup of joe. Though I’m the one hyped on caffeine lately, Tzvi’s all nerves. He eats when he gets nervous, filling his mouth with salty chips or sweet ice cream to deaden his fears. I pour my coffee into a mug Tzvi painted for me at a pottery-painting store when we were dating. There’s a chip in the handle, but it’s still my favorite. “You sound more panicked than ever,” I accuse. “I’m working, remember.” “I was speaking to Moshe this morning at shul,” Tzvi says. “Do you know how much it’s going to cost us to marry off our kids?” My back is turned to him as I look at the logo I’ve created on the screen. I like the purple and green color scheme I created for my latest graphics client, a party

(sprea dsheet appear RESTAU s mont RANTS hly) Thursd ������������������ ay nig family ht piz / z $60 Liora date night a for the for Tz vi and BABYSI T extra TING/CLEANI babysi NG��������� of Lio t $200 ra’s e ting needed xtra h ours w because ATM WI orking T What d HDRAWALS�������������� i recoll d we spend $ ection this o ! n? No 120 THERAP Y Can we ��������������������� more p quit this a $ arenti l ng str ready? Need 180 ategie ed CLOTHI s! N Weathe G��������������������� r certai changed an n swea d need $92 the ki t e ds—at er for scho d a off pro least ol for motion there . was a 30%

planner. “I can’t think that far ahead right now,” I tell him, still focused on my design. “I’m out of teaching skirts, I have to get my sheitel washed, and we still have to eat!” “Needs, needs, needs!” Tzvi shoves his hands in his pockets. “You’re so busy with your computer you’re not even looking at me.” “I’m on deadline, Tzvi,” I explain. I shift my body halfway toward where he is standing. I’m trying to calm down before I respond. My chest tightens. Tzvi backs up. “You’re married to your computer these days,” he says, looking at the tiled floor. “I should quit?” I feel my heart beat faster. Four late nights last week to turn a project in by Friday, tests to grade, and lessons to prepare and Tzvi doesn’t even value what I’m doing. I weathered the kids’ complaints, rationalizing an adjustment period. But I expect more understanding from Tzvi. As I stare at the wall, waiting for Tzvi’s response, the phone rings. I scan my desk for a handset. Not finding one, I dart to the counter where a phone is blinking. “Hello?” I hope my anger at Tzvi didn’t pour through the phone. I aim to sound chipper. “You want us to make a sheva brachos on Friday night?” Yikes. “For 20 people?” Tzvi watches as I nod and listen to the person on the other end of the line. “Let me get back to you tomorrow,” I say, pressing End. “What should we do?” n  To be continued... 2 6 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

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AMI COMMUNICATES

R E B B E T Z IN D E VO R A H Y U DKOW S K Y

Leading Machon f rom I ts G loriousPastI ntoaB rilliant F uture

B

uilding on the strong foundation left to her by her predecessor, Rabbi Yehuda Oelbaum, first menahel emeritus of Machon Bais Yaakov Hilda Birn High School, Rebbetzin Devorah Yudkowsky has accepted her new position as menaheles.

Located at 1683 42nd Street in Brooklyn, New York, Machon Bais Yaakov, founded in 1986, truly succeeded in accomplishing the mission set forth by its founders, the Novominsker Rebbe and Rav Pam. Their vision was to create a Bais Yaakov in Brooklyn that would be warm and holistic, providing students from Torah families with a sterling wellrounded education. Hundreds of Machon graduates would agree that with Rabbi Oelbaum and Rabbi Yanofsky, principal emeritus, at the helm, each student blossomed. Warmly welcomed into the Machon family upon their entrance into the school in ninth grade, each and

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every Machon graduate enters the future having forged a solid connection with her alma mater that is maintained far beyond her high school years. Rebbetzin Yudkowsky brings years of experience with her to the position of menaheles. As a student and then new teacher under the guidance of Rav Manis Mandel, zt”l, Rebbetzin Yudkowsky feels she has really gained an appreciation for chinuch habanos. After working for Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlita, to launch a girls’ high school, Torah Academy of Philadelphia, the young Rebbetzin Yudkowsky taught in both Lakewood and Philadelphia until Rav Nosson Wachtfogel, zt”l, recruited her husband to the kollel of Melbourne, Australia, where he eventually became the menahel. After a few months of teaching at Adas Israel Bais Yaakov of Melbourne, she was asked to lead the school as its principal. Although she was only 26 at the time, she excelled at her position. Rebbetzin Yudkowsky also founded and directed an employment and vocational training institute for the frum community in Australia. As a community leader there she was a liaison with government officials, coordinated outreach programs, gave parenting classes and was a soughtafter public speaker. Upon her return to America, Rebbetzin Yudkowsky took

2 6 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

the position of Executive Coordinator at Torah Umesorah, where she facilitated projects, launched initiatives and trainings, and worked with principals, educators and mental health professionals on matters of chinuch. Armed with her years of chinuch expertise, Rebbetzin Yudkowsky assumed her role as menaheles in August of this year. We asked Rebbetzin Yudkowsky for her thoughts on chinuch habanos, and on her new position as the menaheles of this premier Torah institution. Q: Society has changed so much since Machon was first established. Do you plan to address these changes?

A: There are many factors nowadays that can prevent our students from being connected to Yiddishkeit. There is so much out there that is enticing. We must keep our girls connected and inspired by making their learning relevant, approachable and beautiful. The best method of chinuch is role modeling. We need to be who our girls want to be— who we say we want them to be. Chinuch is a journey, and we shouldn’t police or control. There is beauty in Yiddishkeit, and that has to resonate with today’s girls. Q: Are you planning on


implementing changes in terms of academics?

A: I am proud of the quality of education at Machon, because of the amazing teachers we have on staff. They are excellent role models and give lessons that are on a high standard. Machon caters to the strength of each girl, whether she strives to complete AP courses, or needs the benefits of modified courses. Every girl feels challenged. Machon is proud that our graduates feel that the education they received is a gift with lifelong relevance to each girl’s individual path in life. Our girls have

going on—for example, an assembly or a speaker. It is a refreshing atmosphere and the students and teachers really love our school. At an evening that was arranged for me to speak to the parents, I was genuinely pleased to be welcomed into the Machon family. Our parents are uniquely warm, real, Torahdik people. Every mother wants her daughter to grow and be in a good environment with the good chinuch of Bais Yaakov. Machon is more than a school; it is a family. A mechaneches even comes in for a few periods a week to work on shidduchim for alumni. At Machon, every

the school. I recognized the implications of this opportunity: In my capacity at Torah Umesorah, I was helping other educators help students, but I didn’t have direct involvement. As the principal of Machon, I am positioned to have direct impact at a critical time in a girl’s development. I was intrigued by the idea of joining a great school with a great reputation, and feel up to the task of helping the school to continue to be such an incredible place. Q: Do you have a particular vision vis-à-vis chinuch for girls?

Machon is a family. A mechaneches even comes in for a few periods a week to work on shidduchim for alumni. such pride and love for Machon. We as teachers should not just provide academic information. We have to teach the skills of using information. We simply can’t teach unless we are engaging. I always say, “I teach girls, not subjects.” Our lessons have to resonate, and should not be monotonous. The girls need to feel as though they can master and own what we are teaching them. I’d like to add more methodologies to what is already an outstanding curriculum, which will allow the girls to develop talent and leadership ability. Q: What impressed you most about Machon High School?

A: Machon is a warm and exciting place. Every day there is something

girl is embraced—and it doesn’t end after graduation! The girls know they can come in and speak to any teacher on staff. There is a lot of interaction between the girls in different grades. They’re involved in lots of extracurricular activities together. Q: Is that what made you take the position?

A: The newly-formed board is very involved and invested in the growth of the school. When they approached me with the offer of becoming Machon’s next principal, they told me that they were specifically seeking me out, hoping that I would be the one who could best relate to the girls, provide leadership to the parents and guide the teachers. The board is very involved and invested in the growth of 2 6 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

A: I believe in an individual, warm and positive approach. We must build trust and connect with the girls, giving over our Torah values with an understanding of contemporary concerns, in an atmosphere of acceptance. I’m very involved and available to the girls. I want to be approachable, even though I am an authority figure. I am a visible presence, and the girls know that I care. I want the girls to become proud, frum women. Welcoming Rebbetzin Yudkowsky to Machon, the excitement and anticipation from the alumnae and current students is palpable, as is the enthusiasm of the community, proud to have such a highcaliber institution in its midst. |

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TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

BY C H AYA G RO SS

CHECKMATE A NEW BRIDE COVERS HER TRACKS

"A

nd the total is…” my husband said with a flourish as he pressed the equal sign on the calculator, “five thousand, nine hundred eighty dollars and zero cents. Tada! We are rich!” My husband of all of eight days beamed at me. I smiled back at him, asking shyly, “So what do we do with the wedding money?” “How about a nice honeymoon in some far-off place?” “Sounds like a grand idea to me,” I laughed. “So where should we go?” We launched into a discussion about where we should spend our first vacation as a couple. Everything sounded exciting. “First we had better deposit the money in the

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bank,” my husband said. “We don’t want to forget about it.” “Or spend it on groceries,” I joked. “Definitely not! This is money that we will use for a special occasion, b’ezras Hashem. Can you deposit it in your bank account?” “Of course. By the way, do you have one?” “A bank account?” he said sheepishly. “Nope. I’ve never made a red cent in my life! Just sat and learned. Whatever money I got was a gift and I spent it right away. Maybe we should open a joint account and deposit the money there.” It was way past midnight when we finally called it a night, after deciding that, for now, the money would be deposited in my account.


“I’ll take it with me to work tomorrow,” I informed my husband between yawns. “I’ll deposit it during my lunch break.” My husband gave me a worried look. “You’re sure it’s a good idea for you to take it with you? Everyone in the office is trustworthy?” “Don’t worry,” I reassured him. “Trust your wife. It will be safe and sound.” The next morning, I awoke, blearyeyed, to the sound of pounding rain on the window. I glanced at my watch and

The money! I had completely forgotten about it! I rummaged through my pocketbook: no thick, white envelope. I panicked. I ran out of the store and back to the office to check the pockets of my raincoat. Empty. I dug deeper. Again, empty. I searched all over, around and under my desk. No envelope. I racked my brain, trying to remember what I had done with it. But I kept drawing a blank.

IT WAS WAY PAST MIDNIGHT WHEN WE FINALLY CALLED IT A NIGHT, AFTER DECIDING THAT, FOR NOW, THE MONEY WOULD JUST BE DEPOSITED IN MY ACCOUNT. gasped: I had 20 minutes to get to work! I rushed around, frantically throwing on my clothing. I was just about to leave when I remembered the money; I grabbed it, picked up my umbrella and rain bonnet and ran out the door. The rain was coming down in heavy sheets, and I arrived at work drenched and exhausted. My coworkers welcomed me back excitedly, telling me how cute I looked in my new sheitel and how beautiful my wedding was, until my boss shooed all of us off to our desks. I clicked open my screen, marveling at how long ago it felt since I’d sat here last. My brain was foggy, and I kept spacing out. Lunchtime didn’t come fast enough. I grabbed coffee and a bagel from the local shop across the street, thankful that the rain had stopped. It’s funny how different it felt spending money as a married person. My phone vibrated in my pocketbook. It was a text message from my husband. Hubby: Hi! Hope you r having a gr8 day back at work . Just a friendly reminder 2 please deposit $.

I began hyperventilating. My phone buzzed again. Hubby: Hi, everything all right? Just txt back when u did it please. I texted him back. Wife: Hi, sorry x reply. Bit hectic here. Going right now. Hubby: Make sure they r x overworking u there ;). Thnx a mil. Lemme know when u did it. What next? I had half an hour left to my lunch break. My apartment was ten minutes away. I scoured the streets, tracing my steps. There was no envelope in sight. I burst into tears, crying all the way back to work. In the office, I kept my eyes peeled to the floor in the hope of finding the envelope. By the time I reached my desk, I was a complete wreck. What now? The phone buzzed again. I never thought I wouldn’t be excited to see a text from my husband. Hubby: Did it? That’s when I decided: My husband would never know about this. Wife: Sorry, will deposit right after work. Long line.


TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

I BURST INTO TEARS, CRYING ALL THE WAY BACK TO WORK. BY THE TIME I REACHED MY DESK I WAS A COMPLETE WRECK Hubby: Thanks loads! Wife: X prob. Somehow, I would get money and deposit it in the bank. I just had to think of a plan. I headed outside and called my father. “Is everything okay, zieskeit?” he asked. I broke down, telling him the entire story. “Tatty, can you please lend me the money? I’ll pay you back a little every month. There is no way I can tell my husband I lost it. He will never trust me again in my life!” I heard my father’s sigh on the other end of the line. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.” “Please!” “Marriage is built on trust and openness. You are just starting your life. The way to build a relationship is to be open and honest with your partner. You made a mistake; you’re human. Your husband might be a little upset, but that’s part of life. You’ll have to learn how to handle the ups and downs that life will bring your way together.” I started to sob again. “There is no way I can tell him!” “Look, sheifale, I’ll lend you the money, but I don’t think you are making the right decision. Maybe you will still find the money.” “If I find the money, then I’ll

just give you back yours. Please, Tatty, there is no way I can go home now without depositing the money!” “I still think you are making a mistake, but it’s your choice,” he answered. “I hope you won’t regret this.” I didn’t care. I just needed the money. My father came by the office and dropped off a check. Wife: Did it! Hubby: Gr8!!!!!!!!!! Now we can start planning! I’ll b home in a few min. Wife: C u. I’ll b home a few min after you. Hubby: Looking 4ward! I heaved a sigh of relief as I walked home. I knew I had made the right decision. There was no way I would have been able to face my husband if I’d lost the money. Our marriage was still way too fresh. My phone vibrated again a few minutes later, just as I rounded the corner to my apartment. Hubby: Did u say u deposited the $? Wife: Yes. I felt a sense of doom. Hubby: Then what’s this thick, white envelope in the umbrella stand? n To submit your story for this column or to have your story featured here, please contact us at submissions@amimagazine.org.


Here and Now

z

z Inchworm, Inchworm d BY SAR AH SHAPIRO

“N

o,” said Janet. “You’re wrong. I wish I could believe the way you do. I envy the way Orthodox people believe. I really think I’d be happier. It must be comforting. All I’m saying is that I don’t see the point you’re trying to make right now. I don’t see the connection. It’s a very interesting article. I love it. I always read the Science Section. But I don’t think it proves anything.” The full-page article I’d just shown her, spread out between us on our small table at a Manhattan coffee shop, had appeared in that morning’s New York Times. “Scientists,” it began, “have discovered an altogether new creature….” It is a centipede—which may be the world’s smallest—and is the first new animal species found in Central Park in more than a

century. Museum researchers found the new centipede, along with many other tiny beings, in leaf litter—piles of broken twigs, fungi and decomposing plant and tree leaves mixed with soil. Leaf litter is perhaps the “richest and most complex community in the woods,’’ said Dr. Eleanor Sterling, director of the museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. It is, she said, “predators, scavengers, vegetarians living together in a very complicated system.’’ Leaf litter accumulates very quickly, said Liz Johnson, the director of the museum’s biodiversity program for the New York region. In one year, five tons can pile up in two and a half acres of woods. Invertebrates consume it and keep it from burying the forest, and there they are as numerous as litter. There are, for instance, some 50,000 springtails (an insect) in one square yard of litter, and that is only one of the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of invertebrates found there. “If they rake all the leaves, remove all the fallen twigs and branches, 2 6 C H E S H VA N

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new species—and the regular guys—will not survive,’’ she said. ‘’The whole system will cease to function.’’ Janet read it through again and shook her head. “Nature is so amazing.” “Wait a second, there’s something else I wanted to show you. It’s in here…” I started hurriedly turning the pages. “… somewhere. Something about astronomers who were trying to save the federal funding of the Hubble Telescope so they decided to choose at random one tiny spot they’d never looked at before. They focused the telescope on that one little inch in the night sky and you know what they found?” She smiled. “A centipede.” I laughed, though it was the opposite of what I felt. “Oh, here it is. I wanted to show you the picture.” Janet looked at it as I talked. “Scientists turned up the Hubble to its highest capability. And when they examined that one tiny spot, they found two whole new galaxies. Plus a black hole that they said was in the process of swallowing up another galaxy. And one of the galaxies—get this!—is four times the size of our Milky Way. Size doesn’t matter. The whole universe is….” I couldn’t finish that sentence. Janet was looking at the picture. “No, you’re right,” she said. “It’s amazing. Thank you for showing it to me.” “It says that the stars whorl around like that in a spiral—that’s what I wanted to show you—and that it’s exactly the same, just bigger, as water going down a drain in a bathtub. And there’s something else in here about a new physics book by a mathematician in London that shows how the existence of our earth is dependent on the existence of stars, including all the millions of unknown galaxies millions of light-years away. Life on earth couldn’t exist without them. Have you ever wondered, why all the stars?” “Of course I have. Everyone wonders that at some point in his life. Oh, that reminds me. Wait, there’s something I wanted to show you, too. There’s a really interesting review in the Book Review section—did you read it? Of Charles Simic’s new book of poetry.” Now it was Janet’s turn to search through the Times, explaining as she searched that as a child, Simic had been orphaned in Czechoslovakia during World War II, and as a result of all he had suffered, he eventually wrote a poem calling truth and justice “the famous no-shows.” “OK, here it is. Listen to this. The person doing the review makes this comment: ‘Any sentient adult knows, whether admitting it or not, that life has no explanation: that truth and justice do not reign on earth, and that there is no one governing earthly events.’” Janet looked over at me, fortified. “Remember, this is The New York Times I’m quoting. You can’t just disagree with it. That’s basically my position, too. I’d like to believe as

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much as anyone, but what makes the most sense is that there’s nothing out there, and it’s very hard to accept that, to face it. I think most people who have a certain level of education eventually outgrow the need they felt as children for a Supreme Being. Oh!” Janet was looking at me apologetically, apparently misinterpreting whatever expression was on my face at that moment. “I’m so sorry. I insulted you.” Had she? Did I feel that she had? I couldn’t even tell anymore. I shook my head. “I don’t think I feel insulted. But you know what I think, Janet? I think your heart believes in G-d, too, but you just don’t know that about yourself. It hurts your pride.” “You think so, really? That’s interesting.” She gave a laugh. “So convince me!” She glanced at her watch. “I wish you’d convince me. Come on. Why don’t you just make it your new project? Convince me and Sam.” This was the moment I’d long hoped for: an invisible door would suddenly swing open, as if out of the blue, unbidden, and Janet and Sam would simply walk through into Shabbos. But as on so many other occasions during the course of our long friendship, the door had swung open...and shut. And that was the end of that. So much could be gleaned from that newspaper draped casually around our coffee cups...what was I doing wrong? Later, on the subway, I started as usual to imagine what I should have, could have said.... That there’s no such thing as big or small, that we ourselves—in our every molecule and cell, our every thought, wish and impulse, we with our lowlife failures and our kindest deeds, and our petty smallness, and our noblest intentions, our darkest emotional conflicts, our purest ideals—we in all our foolishness are the central purpose of the universe... that no matter where we are at any given moment, infinity’s at our fingertips, and right before our eyes. Peer into a single atom and you’ll spy our solar system in exquisite miniature, its central nucleus precisely like the sun, and the surrounding planets spinning in the same geometrical balance. Pry open the energy within that tiny nucleus and you access enough explosive radioactive power to destroy worlds, the very power which in the Creator’s Hands gives life to the centipede and the springtail, fungi and broken twigs. Predators, scavengers, vegetarians…each and every inch of Creation inhabited by a rich and most complex community. Frogs and daffodils, viruses and galaxies, clouds and tears, all living together in a very complicated system with oceans and volcanoes, birdsong and lightning… But the only thing that came to mind as I sat there opposite Janet trying to think of something to say was a familiar, nonverbal image of a branch of green leaves. When I as a teenager was still outside the door, clueless, unaware that there was a mansion on the other side, with a place reserved for me at the table...before anyone had thought to say, come on in, sit down at our table a little while!—that recurrent thought-picture of leaves


here and now i

had served silently as a dim but eloquent reassurance of the prevailing inexplicable orderliness of nature. I held on mentally to that bough with its glossy leaves as evidence of something… even as I thought it was like letting myself believe in a fairytale. The possibility that the branch’s orderly symmetry hadn’t come about by chance—such a concept would have been a happy ending too good to be true. To believe in anything whose existence science couldn’t prove, to believe in anything I couldn’t see with my own two eyes...Are you kidding? Nonetheless, of course I accepted on faith what I had learned in grade school, that nature evolved, by random yet systematic processes. It didn’t occur to me to look further. There must have been trees with that type of leaf outside our house in Connecticut. With nothing to support my persistent, inborn instinct that G-d existed aside from the harmonious beauties and unlikely congruities of the natural world, the image in my mind’s eye of those leaves, equidistant and symmetrical, summarized the cosmos. The living branch defied chaos for me, defied bedlam, defied human madness and the black void of empty space that surrounded our tiny, helpless planet. Each glossy identical leaf pointed to the right or the left, and a single vertical leaf on top pointing to the sky. When all else failed, with all the nonsensical, cruel human societies on the verge of nuclear catastrophe, there was always that truth to fall back on: a single curving bough with its two rows of green leaves. But here in this coffee shop thirty years later, I was stymied, and at a loss for words, in spite of all my traveling—by which I mean not traveling to India and Spain but traveling through my life from the kitchen to the supermarket, from one child’s room to another’s, until a grandchild was in my arms. For until a moment arrives, as it did for me—an unearned gift…until many things in a life suddenly converge in a constellation of opportunity, and for myriad unknown reasons, a door swings open and one decides to walk through.... Until that moment, when a pinpoint becomes a window, and a window a door, we’re still living in the dark, in a world flooded with light. No matter how amazed we may be by the perfections and beauties of nature, and no matter how impressed by scientific discoveries described in the Science Section...our default position springs right back up, instantly and naturally, like grass beneath our feet. For we take it on faith that given enough time—a few eons should suffice—the world, and we, implausible as it may sound, just happened to happen, remarkably. Lucky for us! I wanted to say: I wanted to convey to Janet whatever it was that teachers I met in Jerusalem had somehow conveyed to me long ago, when it was I whose heart and mind were engaged in a civil war. Janet, our desire to believe, and the conflict we all feel about it—that universal inner conflict with which human beings have been dealing down through the centuries, whether we refute the desire to

believe or embrace it—is itself an intimation of the Creator’s existence. What would any of us do—how would we live our lives—if we genuinely realized that G-d’s mind is the hearing mind of which our ears are a tiny manifestation, and that it’s the Creator’s love which passes through every mother and father to their children? Shabbos is our weekly celebration of the Creation. There are things we don’t do on Shabbos in recognition of the fact that the world exists without human intervention. This last idea struck me as a safe bet to say to the ecologically aware. Janet replied: “Sweetheart, I’d love to do Shabbos, but to be honest with you, I don’t think I can. The thing is—I know this sounds funny, I realize it’s an ironic thing to say—but I really don’t have time. I’m under such constant pressure. All my responsibilities, you have no idea. Saturday’s the one and only day I can get things done.” “Want to sit right here at the table and talk to G-d? Did you ever hear that line: the more you believe in G-d, the more you believe in yourself?” “Hmm.” She smiled at me fondly. “That’s sweet. You know what that makes me think of? You know that song by Danny Kaye—my mother had a record when I was about four that had it on there, and she used to go around the house singing the one that goes Inchworm, Inchworm, round and round the marigold/ Don’t you see how beautiful, how beautiful you are. At least those are the lyrics my mother knew. Someone once told me that’s not how it goes.” Janet checked her watch again. “Wow, it’s already quarter of.” I always lose her; she was slipping away. What was I doing wrong? Why did I want to convince her, and why wasn’t it working? If I really believed myself that G-d was here, what would I be saying? “Janet, what would you do if an all-powerful, unimaginably wise and just G-d, Who wants the best for you, weren’t a figment of our imagination? If G-d were here with us, really. As alive and as real as...you?” “Well.” She was quiet for a moment. Her gaze drifted out to the busy street, and lingered, then returned. “It would be wonderful. Then I could just sort of…turn to G-d.” That’s when I finally, after all these years, realized that maybe it was Janet who had given me my answer. Please G-d, is that it? Should I...just turn to You? Janet was checking for missed calls on her cell phone. “Did I tell you that Sam’s been home all week with some bug? Poor Sam. And the kids come back at one!” Adjusting the purse strap on her shoulder, she swiftly gathered up the used paper cups and tidied up the table, humming the song cheerfully, then saying goodbye, leaving me at the table alone, and so far from home. n 2 6 C H E S H VA N

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


By Rea Bochner

A compulsive overeater tells her story

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

I knew I didn’t eat like other people.

It wasn’t just that I liked food—who doesn’t?—it was that, once I started, I couldn’t get myself to stop. At five years old, I noticed that I was the only kid at my school taking pizza crusts out of the garbage cans and eating them, or stealing snacks from other kids’ lunch bags. I got the sense that most people didn’t think about food the way I did, or as much as I did. I would constantly wonder when I would be able to eat next and how I could get extra food without anyone finding out. Looking back, I realize it was to quell the fear I felt, being out in the big, scary, confusing world of cruel classmates and distant teachers. From the moment I left my house each morning, all I wanted was to come home, where I was safe, and comfort myself with food. Of course, as an elementary schooler, I lacked the words for these feelings. Instead, I carried them silently with me through my day, as an underlying anxiety simmered beneath the surface. An active child, I got away with my unusual eating habits for several years. I ate my lunch during the midmorning snack break, begged leftovers from my classmates at lunch, and from the moment I got home from school, I would snack with abandon before sitting down to a full dinner with my family. Then, once everyone was asleep, I would creep down the stairs to the kitchen, nimble as a thief, grabbing whatever I could to feast on in

my room until I fell asleep. By the time I was ten, however, my eating had caught up with me. I was officially a fat kid, weighing in at around 150 pounds. So began the decade-long roller coaster of diets, both commercial and of my own design, all of which I failed. Sticking to a food plan was as impossible for me as sprouting wings and flying to Bermuda, because the minute I put certain foods in my mouth (especially, I would learn later, sugar and flour) my “off ” switch disabled and I was unable to stop eating, a phenomenon eerily similar to the alcoholic, after his first shot of whiskey. It was disheartening watching the “normal” people around me, who, after gaining a few extra holiday pounds, reached their goal weight without much thought within a matter of weeks. Still, I tried again and again, desperately hoping that I would discover the magic pill that would “fix” me, or at least enable me to keep eating as I did and still lose weight. I learned quickly that it’s hard to explain this to people who aren’t like me: people who can take a few bites of something and stop when they’re full. One doctor in particular demonstrated just how little the medical field knows about it. During a month-long stay at a well-known diet and fitness center when I was 14, I listened intently to a hotshot doctor with decades of experience and a runner’s body lecture a group of us on “caloric intake versus metabolic output.” Essentially, she said, if you burn more than you eat, you’ll lose weight. I’d figured that out years ago, and I hadn’t even graduated high school. I finally raised my hand. “I hear what you’re saying. But what if there’s a chocolate cake in my kitchen that’s talking

The Cause of Food Addiction? Modern science has yet to determine the cause of compulsive overeating, though former FDA commissioner David Kessler, MD, points the finger at “hyperpalatable foods” overloaded with fat, salt, starch and sugar. Others attribute the disease to genetics. Regardless of the cause, recovery from compulsive overeating isn’t simple. Unlike other addictions, which you can quit cold turkey, every human being needs to eat a number of times every day. However, there are both trained professionals and 12-step programs, such as Overeaters Anonymous and Food Addicts Anonymous, which have helped thousands of people recover from food addiction and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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to me and I can’t not eat it?” The woman looked at me as if I was speaking Swahili. “Well,” she finally answered, “just don’t eat it.” At that moment, the only people I felt were worse off than me were my parents, who had shelled out $10,000 for the country’s leading obesity specialist to tell me that. And so the battle wore on, with me on the losing side. It was degrading to continuously fail, not only not losing weight, but watching the numbers on the scale creep higher and higher. There was the embarrassment of being a teenager who had to shop in women’s clothing stores, digging through the plus-size racks for anything that would fit. Then there was the day when I realized, with horror, that my waist was wider than my father’s—and he was not a small man. The worst part, though, was the feeling I was the only person in the world who couldn’t control herself when it came to food, and the loneliness of being in a body—being a person—I couldn’t stand. I snuck around and lied to everyone I knew, even those closest to me, lest they find out how much I was really eating. The day we moved from the house where I grew up, we pulled my headboard away from the wall and found a wall of wrappers, five feet wide and two feet deep. My mother gaped at me. “How did that get there?” I muttered unconvincingly. One day, when I was 16, a woman came to my high school to talk about how she had recovered from bulimia. Once upon a time, she said, she would eat and eat and eat, then make herself throw up to control her weight. Now, she was healthy and living happily ever

after. Ostensibly, this woman’s speech was designed to scare vulnerable high school girls like me away from the eating disorder epidemic, but it had the opposite effect on me. All I heard was “Eat what you want and not gain weight.” Rotten teeth and bloody stomach notwithstanding, as far as I was concerned, bulimia was a brilliant idea. Within just a few short months, I was a professional bulimic, bingeing and throwing up a dozen times a day. By then, at 250 pounds and rising, I didn’t even care if I didn’t lose weight—I’d resigned myself to being “the fat girl” for the rest of my life—but I would do anything it took to make sure I didn’t hit the dreaded 300 mark. Finally, I felt in control and something like “normal,” all the while convinced I could stop whenever I wanted to. I didn’t realize that I had become caught in the grip of a dangerous cycle that would almost kill me. One night, during a purge, the food got caught deep in my throat and I started choking. I couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t even make a sound. For a few long moments, I was sure I was going to die. Almost as intense as the fear of dying was the horror that I would be discovered, slumped over the toilet and covered with vomit after eating too much Triple Caramel Chunk. Hashem, I thought. Please don’t let me die like this. I promise, I’ll never do it again. Miraculously, the food dislodged. I could breathe again. I slid down to the floor, weak with relief. I kept my promise to G-d for about five minutes before I picked

Brooklyn: 718.422.7905 · Lakewood: 732.664.2024


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

Food Addiction

The idea that a person can be addicted to food has recently gotten more support from science. Experiments in animals and humans show that, for some people, the same reward and pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered by addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin are also activated by food, especially highly palatable foods. Highly palatable foods are foods rich in: • Sugar • Fat • Salt Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. Once people experience pleasure associated with increased dopamine transmission in the brain’s reward pathway from eating certain foods, they quickly feel the need to eat again. The reward signals from highly palatable foods may override other signals of fullness and satisfaction. As a result, people keep eating, even when they’re not hungry. People who show signs of food addiction may also develop a tolerance to food. They eat more and more, only to find that food satisfies them less and less. Scientists believe that food addiction may play an important role in obesity. But normal-weight people may also struggle with food addiction. Their bodies may simply be genetically programmed to better handle the extra calories they take in. Or they may increase their physical activity to compensate for overeating. People who are addicted to food will continue to eat despite negative consequences, such as weight gain or damaged relationships. And like people who are addicted to drugs or gambling, people who are addicted to food will have trouble stopping their behavior, even if they want to or have tried many times to cut back.

SIGNS OF FOOD ADDICTION Researchers at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Science & Policy have developed a questionnaire to identify people with food addictions. Here’s a sample of questions that can help determine if you have a food addiction. Do these actions apply to you? Do you: • End up eating more than planned when you start eating certain foods • Keep eating certain foods even if you’re no longer hungry • Eat to the point of feeling ill • Worry about not eating certain types of foods or worry about cutting down on certain types of foods • When certain foods aren’t available, go out of your way to obtain them The questionnaire also asks about the impact of your relationship with food on your personal life. Do these situations apply to you: • You eat certain foods so often or in such large amounts that you start eating food instead of working, spending time with the family, or doing recreational activities. • You avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available because of fear of overeating. • You have problems functioning effectively at your job or school because of food and eating. The questionnaire asks about withdrawal symptoms. For example, when you cut down on certain foods (excluding caffeinated beverages), do you have symptoms such as: • Anxiety • Agitation • Other physical symptoms The questionnaire also tries to gauge the impact of food decisions on your emotions. Do these situations apply to you? • Eating food causes problems such as depression, anxiety, self-loathing, or guilt. • You need to eat more and more food to reduce negative emotions or increase pleasure. • Eating the same amount of food doesn’t reduce negative emotions or increase pleasure the way it used to. Science is still working to understand and find treatments for food addiction. Some argue that recovery from food addiction may be more complicated than recovery from other kinds of addictions. Alcoholics, for example, can ultimately abstain from drinking alcohol. But people who are addicted to food still need to eat. A nutritionist, psychologist, or doctor who is educated about food addiction may be able to help you break the cycle of compulsive eating. There are also a growing number of programs that help people who are addicted to food. Some, like Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, are based on the 12-step program that has helped many people addicted to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. Others, like Food Addicts Anonymous, use the principles of the 12-step program along with strict diets that require people to abstain from problem ingredients, like sugar, refined flour, and wheat.

WebMD Medical Reference • Sources: Meule, A., Frontiers in Psychiatry, Nov. 3, 2011; Volkow, N., Trends in Cognitive Science, January 2011; Gearhardt, A., Archives of General Psychiatry, August 2011; Rudd Center for Food Science and Policy, Yale University: “Yale Food Addiction Scale”; Rudd Center for Food Science and Policy, Yale University: “Food and Addiction” • Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD, on July 23, 2012 • © 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


the bingeing and purging back up, and I ran with it into my twenties. I lived and traveled all over Europe and worked at some of the world’s most prestigious entertainment companies, but I was present for none of it. All I could do was go from binge to binge, while figuring out how to throw up without anyone finding out. I had somehow managed to surround myself with good friends and something that resembled a normal life, but inside, I was obsessed with food, wracked with fear and suffering from the humiliation of being obese in a world of thin, “normal” people. The war with myself raged on. I would promise myself I would never binge and purge again, only to head to the store for my “fix” ten minutes later. I was surrounded by people all the time, but was painfully lonely because none of them really knew me. I could barely stand to be in my skin, and I was clueless as to why I was so miserable. I didn’t think food was my problem. I figured, if you had my problems, you’d eat, too. More and more, I contemplated suicide. I don’t remember how I first heard about the 12-step program

12 Steps

How Do the Work For

for people with eating disorders, and at first, I didn’t think anything like that could help me. After all, I wasn’t an alcoholic or a drug addict. I hadn’t ever gotten arrested or totaled any cars or lost a job. But then I remembered the countless times I had binged in the car, barely paying attention to the road, and having to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into the car in front of me. Maybe I hadn’t been drunk on alcohol, but the food had certainly disabled my ability to focus on anything else. And what about all the promises to myself that I’d made and broken—the mornings I’d woken up with my resolve firm and my hopes high, only to find myself bingeing by lunchtime? Or the times I’d manage to stay away from sugar for a few days and my hands would shake like someone in withdrawal? It sounded suspiciously like addiction. But eventually, I became desperate enough to try. I was getting dangerously close to the number I swore to myself I’d never hit. I’d failed at every single attempt I’d ever made to lose weight. I was at the end of my rope. This was my last shot.

Food Addiction? The “12 Steps,” which originated in Alcoholics Anonymous, is a process of self-reflection and selfrefinement that enables those suffering from an addiction to see the “causes and conditions” of their illness and change their lives. As adapted for food addictions, the steps are: 1. We admitted we were powerless over food—that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of G-d. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to G-d, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. Were entirely ready to have G-d remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with G-d as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Practicing these 12 steps is most effective with a fellowship of people doing the same, and you can learn more by attending live or phone meetings. To find a meeting near you, visit http://www.oa.org.


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

I walked into my first meeting on a Tuesday in downtown Boston. For the next hour, I sat there, utterly confused. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. No one was trying to weigh me or sell me food. No one was lecturing or giving out ribbons. The people there were just sitting together around a folding table, talking about their lives with such honesty, I was dumbfounded. They freely admitted that they did crazy things with food, just as I did, and that most of the time, they had felt anxious, restless and discontented, just as I had. And all of them called themselves something I’d never heard before: “compulsive overeaters.” Those two words shot through me so forcefully I practically fell out of my chair. Compulsive overeater; that was me. Having a name for this thing I’d been battling for two decades filled me with relief, because it meant that I wasn’t the only one in the world like me. These people got it when I said, “I can’t not eat it.” For the first time in my life, I wasn’t alone. I kept going to those meetings, and eventually, I started following the suggestions I heard. I realized that if I wanted what those people had, I would need to do what they did. They taught me how to eat sensibly, without bingeing or purging. They taught me how to sit with the uncomfortable feelings that made me want to eat compulsively in the first place. And they taught me how to live serenely, with emunah and bitachon in Hashem, so I would not have to live in fear anymore. I didn’t believe in miracles before, but I do now. Because I am one. I have gone from being unable to not eat that chocolate cake in my kitchen to not even noticing it’s there (most days). I am no longer obese; eight years ago I reached my goal weight and have been maintaining it ever since. More importantly, I’m not driven by fear, craving and compulsion anymore; I’ve learned how to live life sanely, peacefully and with a balanced perspective. Once upon a time, I was drowning in loneliness. Today, I am happily married to an amazing man and have three beautiful sons and two “bonus” stepdaughters. My life is full, busy and happy. Some of us wear the disease of compulsive overeating for the world to see, either with obese or emaciated bodies. But some of us hide our secret with unbelievable skill, shielding it from everyone around us, and sometimes even from ourselves. I tell my story to all of them, to let them know that they don’t have to live in pain anymore. There is a way out. 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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Clean Your Brain— With Sleep

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

GOING TO BED IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEAD

Scientists have long wondered why people and animals need to sleep. A new study says that a major health benefit may be a physical cleaning out of the brain. Last year scientists found the glymphatic system, a sort of pump in the brain and spinal cord that flushes fluids into the spaces between nerve cells, where the fluid can eventually be removed to the liver. That flushes away debris, including the proteins implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. By carefully studying sleeping mice, the researchers have now found that this flushing becomes much stronger during sleep than when the animals are awake. This research may show that Alzheimer’s treatments should be scheduled for times when the patients are asleep. And scientists think that boosting the body’s ability to flush away proteins may be a method of combating the onset of Alzheimer’s. Now if only cleaning out my car were as easy as cleaning out my brain…

SAVING LIVES WITH FAT New technique can regrow liver

A new technique may make liposuction not just a cosmetic method for slimming down, but a lifesaving tool for people in desperate medical conditions. Researchers at Stanford University of Medicine have developed a way of turning human body fat cells into liver cells. The method uses adipose stem cells, which can be harvested out of the fat removed in liposuction. The scientists damaged the livers of special mice that can accept human transplants, then placed the new liver cells inside their livers. The cells grew and began filtering wastes, just like regular liver cells. It is technically possible to grow liver cells using pluripotent human stem cells, but that has the potential to cause cancer. The adipose stem cell technique doesn’t. And this new technique is fast and effective; the researchers were able to convert 37 percent of the fat cells in their sample to liver cells in only nine days, vastly faster and more efficient than any other method. The researchers hope to have the method in clinical trials within two or three years. Their breakthrough could mean new hope for patients looking for liver transplants to save their lives.


Shalom Task Force and Machon Basya rochel Seminary present an informative morning about relationships for women and young women of dating age.

SpeakerS:

rebbetzin aviva Feiner What can you do to prepare for marriage?

Mrs. Lisa Twerski L.C.S.W. Dating Smart: What you really need to know

Sunday, November 10, 2013 registration begins at 9:45am Speakers: 10:00am-12:00pm Q&a Session: 12:00pm-12:30pm

Machon Basya rochel Seminary 137 Lawrence ave., Lawrence, NY rSVp to stfconferences@gmail.com Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, administration for Children and Families, Grant #90-Fe-0008


Follow Chana Rose, a Brooklyn-based shadchante with 26 years of experience, as she takes a shidduch from idea to engagement. It isn’t as easy as it looks to get a couple to the chuppah, but for Chana it’s all in a day’s work....

By Chana Rose

new

shidduch saga A “Short” Story

The height of a prospective husband sets a shidduch on the rocks

The wheels in my head started turning almost immediately after Shoshana Klein* left my office. Shoshana was a cute, bubbly girl with sterling middos, according to her friends, and hailing from a great ba’alebatish family. In person, she was poised and eloquent, and in our short, half-hour meeting, I recognized that Shoshana was a real gem. She was looking for a solid learning boy, someone who had the heimishe background and charismatic personality to match hers. Avrumi Steinberg from Brooklyn sprang to mind, and I suspected immediately that I’d struck shidduch gold. A wonderful, good-hearted boy with a similar background to Shoshana’s, Avrumi had also left me with the impression that he was the “life of the party.” His friends described him as a real learner, and a baal middos to boot. Avrumi was planning to

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stay in the yeshivah where he had been thriving for several years. Even better, Avrumi’s 5-foot-3-inch frame would be no problem with the petite Shoshana standing by his side. I called Mrs. Steinberg and, as was done in the pre-shidduch-resume days, gave over every last detail about Shoshana Klein myself. Mrs. Steinberg dutifully took

I was practically counting my shadchanus gelt when I got the shocking phone call.

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notes and promised to do her research. It didn’t take more than a few days for Mrs. Steinberg to get back to me: She had heard glowing reports about Shoshana and the Klein family, and she was happy to give the girl a yes. Easy enough. I picked the phone right back up and called the Kleins to tell them all about the wonderful Avrumi Steinberg who was interested in meeting their daughter. A few days later, I was on the phone again, arranging a first date that was eagerly anticipated by both sides. Avrumi and Shoshana both called back less than a day after their first meeting. The first date had gone very well, and both Avrumi and Shoshana wanted to proceed with a second. This was turning out to be one of the easier shidduchim I’d ever handled. I happily arranged another meeting,


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and two days later the prospective couple met for the second time. Again, both Avrumi and Shoshana reported the very next day that the date was great. The conversation had flowed and they really seemed to click. And their similar backgrounds were, both agreed, an added plus. A drama-free shidduch in the making, I was more than happy to keep it moving. The third and fourth dates were just as terrific, if not better than the first two. It looked to me like the engagement was only a matter of time. I figured that I’d have to arrange maybe one or two more dates before Avrumi and Shoshana would no longer need me as a go-between. It was after Avrumi and Shoshana’s fifth date, when I was practically counting my shadchanus gelt, that I got the shocking phone call. “Mrs. Rose,” Shoshana’s mother said in a somewhat exasperated tone. “We don’t know what to do. Shoshana is suddenly having second thoughts about Avrumi! She keeps telling us over and over again that she thinks he’s wonderful and that they really do have chemistry. Hashkafically, they’re on the same page, and they have very similar personalities. There aren’t any awkward silences on the dates, and he is exactly what we are looking for.” “So what’s the problem?” I asked her. Mrs. Klein sighed deeply. “Shoshana is worried that Avrumi is too short for her.” “What?” I exclaimed. “Shoshana is 4-foot-9! He’s a good half a foot taller than she is!” “Don’t get me wrong, Mrs. Rose. Shoshana doesn’t think she’s tall; she calls everyone in our family ‘vertically challenged.’ But she’s worried about genetics. Shoshana says it makes her crazy to imagine future generations of shorties! It might sound ridiculous, but she suddenly feels very strongly about this. We don’t know what to do!” I was shocked, but kept my wits about me; part of my job as a shadchan is to be reassuring and offer chizzuk wherever it’s needed. “Mrs. Klein,” I said. “I don’t think that you and your daughter should agonize over this. Take the situation to a competent rav, someone you trust. Let your daughter speak to him and explain exactly how she’s feeling. Leave it up to daas Torah to decide for you.” I was blindsided by Mrs. Klein’s phone call, but you can’t imagine how stunned I was by what happened next… n * All names changed to protect privacy 

To be continued…

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shidduchresources

COMPILED BY ESTHER GARTENHAUS

The sheer volume of emails, 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. Sora Cohen 718.755.4836 / aryehsora@aol.com 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

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 |

AMI•LIVING

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 at 718.438.2834 for more details.

Jaffe at 718.853.8691. Looking for single girls/women and young men of all ages, with controlled medical issues (i.e., on meds). Many special compatible young men available! Confidential! Please call Mr. R. Schwartz 718.419.7855. Shidduchim Workshops in Brooklyn, Lakewood or your town! Premarital/shidduch hadrachah workshops with Mrs. Esther Gartenhaus for post highschool girls/young women! Call to schedule your workshop and for private appointments: 347.482.8429. On-the-ball single girls are needed to volunteer time navigating/matching resumes. 347.482.8429 Looking for computer savvy girls/women for assessment and categorization of shidduch resumes. Email ifoundashidduch@gmail.com

Shidduch meetings in Kensington. For details, call Mrs. Edie

Israel

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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-EIGHT LAST WEEK: SHRAGA MEETS RAIZY FOR COFFEE.

Shuli Feels Outmaneuvered

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hen the kids came home from their outing with Shraga, I could tell that something was wrong with Moshe Yonah. After I got the younger ones to bed, I did something I rarely do but should probably do more often: I invited him to sit with me in the kitchen and have a cup of hot chocolate. “With mini-marshmallows?” he asked, unable to believe his good fortune but still compelled to push it. He was his mother’s son, after all. “Of course!” I said. I was reluctant to give up my time on the computer, which I sat down to the moment the kids went to sleep and stayed on for hours. I sometimes did it even when they were awake, but it was during the long, uninterrupted hours of the night that I could really lose myself. The end result was that more than a few times I’d overslept and ended up driving the

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kids to school embarrassingly late, but I figured they were still little and it didn’t make that much of a difference. I’d make a game of it and call it “Mommypool” instead of carpool, and we’d all laugh. After I served Moshe Yonah his drink, he’d blown on it and started carefully picking out the tiny marshmallows. “Moshe Yonah,” I said to him quietly, my voice almost a whisper. I was sitting next to him and was practically speaking into his ear. “Did you have a good time with Tatty today?” I felt him tense up immediately. He gave me a suspicious look, and I knew he was on to me. Maybe the kids were more aware of what was going on than I gave them credit for. If the hot chocolate hadn’t been so tempting I had a feeling he would have pushed it away. Nobody likes to be bribed. I didn’t care though, and pushed on. “Yeah,” he said. “Why?” 2 6 C H E S H VA N 5 7 7 4

“I was just wondering. You looked a little upset when you got home.” “I wasn’t upset!” he shot back. “Everything was fine.” “Okay,” I said. “Are you sure?” “I’m positive.” He started to gulp down his chocolate in great swallows, unable to walk away but also unable to enjoy it. “Can I go now?” he asked, almost slamming down the empty cup. He looked particularly young and vulnerable with his little brown moustache from the chocolate milk. Sometimes you forget how young kids really are. What’s seven years old in the grand scheme of the universe? It wasn’t fair to expect him to behave better than most adults I knew. “Sure, tzaddik. Lailah tov. Don’t forget to say Kri’as Shema.” He looked at me as if I’d insulted him. “I never forget,” he said before wiping his mouth and walking out. I sighed. It wasn’t that long ago that I’d lie down with each child and read


WHILE I WAS OCCUPYING MYSELF COMPOSING HATE-MAIL, MY INBOX DINGED; IT WAS AN E-MAIL FROM THE VERY OBJECT OF MY FURY. a short story or sing a little song, or sometimes we’d just chat before saying Kri’as Shema to a tune I’d made up. Nowadays, I rarely did it. All I could do was count the seconds until I could lose myself in diversion from my crummy life. Sometimes I’d look up and be shocked at how much time had elapsed: three, four, five hours of hopping from site to site. I would breathe a sigh of relief that I had somehow managed to vanquish another few hours, and then drag myself to bed. I knew this wasn’t any way to live, but then I’d do it all over again the next day, going online. During supper, I would even sometimes put the laptop on the table. If the kids started bickering, I was only too happy to use it as an excuse to send them away so I could surf in peace. One morning, a few days after my conversation with Moshe Yonah, I had to go down to the basement with the meter reader. Every family in the building has its own little corner in the storage room, and since I was there

anyway, I decided to go get out the space heater. The first thing I saw was a shiny new bicycle, and I assumed that someone had made a mistake and accidentally parked it in the wrong spot. Further inspection, however, revealed Moshe Yonah’s name and phone number written with a black Sharpie that we did not own. I felt myself filling with rage and, abandoning the meter reader, I ran back upstairs and sat down on the couch, fuming. I proceeded to compose a series of e-mails (none of them actually sent) to my ex-husband, one more vitriolic than the next. I hated when he undercut me. If I had known that Moshe Yonah wanted a bike, I would have gladly gone out and gotten him one. That was the difference between Shraga and me: He was proactive, and I was passive. He wouldn’t wait for Moshe Yonah to tell him he wanted a bike; he’d automatically know that any seven-year-old boy, especially one without a father living at home, would

want and probably even need one. It infuriated me when he was more attuned to the kids than I was. While I was occupying myself composing hate-mail, my inbox dinged; it was an e-mail from the very object of my fury. We had asked a rav about communicating with each other, and he suggested that we either text or e-mail, and only if it was very important. Well, I thought it was important for me to bawl Shraga out for doing an end run around me. If I let him get away with it now, what would he do when the kids were older? I could just see him carting them off to Eretz Yisrael for a vacation. I could never match that. I resolved to put an end to it here and now. I clicked on Shraga’s e-mail, expecting to find more fuel for my fire. But I was brought up short by his message: Please meet me at Rabbi Apelbaum’s house tomorrow at 11:00 AM. We need to talk.  

To be continued...


BY DINA NEUMAN

Chapter Thirty

T

he first time that Lakey had met Shmuel was at Tova’s l’chayim. Slender and fine-featured, he looked nothing like her own broad-shouldered husband, and nothing at all like larger-than-life Daddy. She’d turned to Tova to say something clever to that end about the newest addition to the family. “Tova,” she had called over the noise created by Shmuel’s friends attempting to dance with him in the cramped space near the overflowing dining room table. “Yes?” Tova had answered. Her eyes, Lakey had seen, were soft as she gazed at her chasan, and a pretty pink color was high in her cheeks. Joy seemed to float around her like a cloud of some sort of exotic perfume. And Lakey had realized with a start that her big sister was happy. Her snarky comment dying prematurely on her lips, Lakey had instead grabbed at Tova’s fevered hand. “Mazal tov,” she had said. “I’m so happy for you.” Lakey bit her lip now as Shmuel’s name was called by her lawyer. She remembered her initial reluctance when Thomas had brought up the possibility of calling up her brother-in-law to the stand, and Thomas’ impatient reply: “Do you or don’t you want to win this thing?” “Of course I do!” she had replied. Of course she did. She abruptly broke off eye contact with Tova, straightened her spine, cleared her face, and turned, along with everyone else,

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to look at her brother-in-law. Tova’s initial reaction was astonishment when she heard her husband’s name being called to the witness stand. They’d fought bitterly, the two of them. They were still fighting. Was this a new twist in that horrible game? Was this his way of winning? Was this where the fighting had led them? “No good could ever come from fighting,” Tova remembered her mother saying, her eyes wide in distress when she’d come upon the two girls in tears. Tova and Lakey had been fighting over the new tea set, and now the sugar bowl and two tiny tea cups lay smashed on the glossy wooden floor. “Family should never fight,” she’s said as she carefully picked up the tiny pieces of ruined china from the floor. “If you haven’t got your family, you’ve got no one.” Her eyes lost their focus as she added, almost to herself, “Without those who care about you most, you’re all alone.” “Besides, you’re going to need your sister to cosign on your mortgage,” her father had said, coming up from behind them, and even though Tova had no idea what that meant, the sound of her mother’s laughter cleared the air immediately. What was it about all that had happened—her father’s death, her estrangement from Lakey, her fighting with Shmuel and this court case—that

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seemed to be releasing a flood of longforgotten memories of her mother? Maybe it had something to do with what her mother had said, that without those who care about you most, you’re all alone. And here, with her sister and husband in the same room as her, Tova had never felt so alone in her life.

*** Tova’s shock was nothing compared to the jolt that went through Shmuel’s body when he heard his name being called by Richard Thomas. He rose slowly to his feet and looked around helplessly. Did he have to go up when called by the opposition? What was the protocol here? Shmuel looked toward Judge Walkin, who, as if sensing his question, nodded impatiently. Shmuel swallowed hard and eased away from his seat. Every sound he made during the course of that action seemed to echo in the utter silence of the courtroom. All eyes were on him, including, of course, the eyes of the woman beside him. Tova. He turned to glance at her for the first time since the court had gone to session and opened his arms in a feeble gesture to indicate that he had no idea that they would call upon him, no idea at all. Fight or not, how could she even think that he would do this to her on purpose? The hurt on her face faded in light of that understanding, but it was replaced instantly by a look of trepidation. He knew why, of course. It was for the


RECAP: THE TIDE SEEMS TO BE TURNING IN TOVA’S FAVOR AT THE COURTROOM, WHEN THE NEXT WITNESS IS CALLED. TO TOVA’S SHOCK, THE NEXT WITNESS IS HER HUSBAND, SHMUEL.

same reason that the opposition wanted him on the witness stand to begin with: because there was nothing that he could say that would help Tova’s case. In fact, he could only hurt it. Lakey and her legal team must be counting on that. Shmuel’s temples ached with the promise of a headache as he walked up to the witness stand with all of the

“I am given to understand that your feelings were not mutual,” Richard Thomas said coolly. “Would you say that is an accurate statement?” “Since I was not privy to the thoughts inside of my father-in-law’s head or the feelings in his heart, I cannot answer that question without it being pure speculation.” “But surely this is something that we,

How could she even think that he would do this to her on purpose? enthusiasm of a man being led to the gallows. He affirmed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And then the questions began. “You are Tova’s husband, are you not?” “Yes, I am.” “Your relationship with your father-inlaw was not the best, is that true?” Shmuel tried to stall. “That’s a very vague question, sir.” Richard Thomas smiled. It was not a pleasant smile, and Shmuel felt an instant distaste for the man. “I’ll rephrase as an open question. How would you describe your relationship with your father-inlaw?” “I admired him,” Shmuel answered. He smiled back at Richard Thomas. If he could do nothing other than make this man work twice as hard for the answers that he wanted, he would do that, at least.

as social animals, do all the time? We make cognitive leaps as to whether the person we are interacting with likes us or dislikes us, is dangerous or safe, all based on intuition.” “True. People jump to conclusions all the time. I personally always saw cognitive tricks like that to be the basis of racism,” said Shmuel. He looked Richard Thomas in the eye. Richard Thomas cocked his head to one side, annoyance warring with grudging admiration on his dark-skinned face. He ran a quick, ironic hand through his head of closely-cropped tight black curls. The judge intervened. “As this is not a boxing match or a criminal court, the witness will answer the questions and avoid being clever.” He lowered his eyebrows severely. “Clear?” Shmuel nodded. “As day, your honor.”

Richard Thomas asked, “Did you have a warm relationship with your father-inlaw?” “Define warm,” Shmuel started, but at the warning look in the judge’s eye, he went on. “No. I would not call our relationship warm.” “Would you say that he disliked you?” “He didn’t seem to care for me, yes.” “Did he ever, as you say, care for you?” “Not especially.” “Since he first met you? What was his reaction to Tova’s bringing you home to meet you while dating?” “Well…” Shmuel hesitated, trying to figure out how to explain the shidduch system in thirty seconds or less. He settled for being as accurate as he could. “We were…an arranged date, I guess you could say, and he actually met me before I ever met Tova.” “Interesting,” said Richard Thomas. “Be that as it may, how was your initial meeting?” “It went okay. I mean, I married her, didn’t I?” Richard Thomas inclined his head. “True. So then did the relationship sour after the marriage?” “It…got worse.” “Was there fighting involved?” “No. No, not really. It was more a lack of a relationship than a bad one, if that makes any sense. But I think that would have been the case for any man who wanted to marry Tova.” Thomas seemed genuinely curious now. “Really? Why? Did he dislike her that much?” “No.” Shmuel shook his head. “No. He loved her that much.” n  To be continued…

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days The Candlesticks

True to her efficient nature, my mother wanted to stock up in advance By Rivka Lome

M

y Shabbos licht are not lit in the traditional candelabra, but in individual brass candlesticks. They were a gift from my late mother, a”h, when I started keeping Shabbos. Mom knew the importance of lighting candles. She had been raised in a traditional home with kashrus, Shabbos meals, and even bedikas chametz, but unfortunately none of these was observed by any of the offspring. Mom held on dearly to the Yomim Tovim and family simchos despite the dearth of observance in our home. On seder night, I remember a long table stretching from one end of the room to the other, covered in the finest linens and beautiful gold-rimmed china. My bubbe and zeide sat at the head, perched on regal velvet armchairs. Long-stemmed goblets graced every plate. Laughter flowed and warmth enveloped us; these memories still overwhelm me every Yom Tov. My mother was supportive of my becoming observant as long as I didn’t “go too far.” “Too far” applied to an odd assortment of things, like not using an umbrella on Shabbos and wearing a sheitel after I married. But Mom still happily escorted me to a fancy store in an upscale

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mall and gave me carte blanche to choose a set of candlesticks. I selected a couple of brass ones I thought were aesthetically pleasing. After the birth of our first child, she presented me with a miniature of the larger pair. She had learned of the custom to add a candle for each child, and wanted me to have a matching one. Before the birth of every child, my husband would provide our family with an approximate date, and Mom would arrive in Eretz Yisrael to assist. Oddly, the day she touched down in Tel Aviv was always the day I delivered. Three small candlesticks were added to the first. Now she had come for the impending birth of our fifth child, and she was happily sitting on the floor, pulling one treasure after the other out of her overflowing suitcases. Mom was a natural giver, and she enjoyed presenting each gift to its recipient. When she suddenly exclaimed in dismay, I jumped to attention. It appeared my sister had inadvertently packed in several candlesticks Mom had purchased in advance, when she learned that that particular style was being discontinued. Since my mother didn’t want to shlep them back home, she begged me to hide them. “Just put them in the closet,” she said. She knew we didn’t plan in advance,

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and she did not wish to offend anyone. I agreed, and unwrapped the bundle: There were five of them. “Nine candlesticks total, Mommy. Are you trying to limit me?” I joked. She looked at me askance. My fifth child was born that evening, and she watched with pleasure as I lit an additional candle before Shabbos. We returned to America and Mom was delighted. A year later I delivered my sixth child, and we shared the wonderful news with our parents. We were planning a bris, but much to my surprise Mom said she wasn’t coming. I was hurt to the core. She was so happy that we were finally living on the same continent; how could she not attend? My husband made a private call to her and she reluctantly agreed to fly in the morning of the bris and leave that afternoon. She was distant and detached when she arrived and was clearly not terribly excited. Shabbos came, and we had a candlestick for our new child. Several months later, quite late one night, I was attempting to have a phone conversation with my mother, who was babysitting my sister’s children. As we spoke, I realized something was terribly wrong. Her speech was disjointed, and she was stuttering and stumbling over her words. I contacted my father, who rushed


IT EXPLAINED HER AMBIVALENCE TO MY SON’S BRIS AND HER EMOTIONAL DETACHMENT.

her to the emergency room. Hours later he called to say she had some type of mineral imbalance, and I was able to get a few hours of sleep. A few hours after that, we were awakened by the ringing of the telephone. Mom had a massive brain tumor. Mom’s tumor was malignant and aggressive. She wasn’t given long to live. The tumor was located in the decisionmaking/communication areas of her brain, which explained her ambivalence to my son’s bris and her emotional detachment. After surgery she was able to function relatively well physically, but she had lost all emotional expression. She never cried, while I couldn’t seem to stop. On Tishah B’Av she was admitted to the hospital, and six months later she passed away. It was February when I stood

by the side of her grave, shaking with cold and numb with shock and pain. I was in my third month of pregnancy, and went on to deliver a baby boy. Over the next few years I used all of the candlesticks but one. It remained lonely, in the back of my linen closet, and I glanced at it every once in a while. It sat there for quite some time. Overwhelmed with the brachah of a large family, I couldn’t see myself ever needing that candlestick, and I was growing older. I was almost relieved when, after forgetting to bentch licht one Yom Tov, I thought I would need to light an additional candle every week. But that was only for Shabbos, my rav explained. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, when my youngest was two, a close friend gave birth to a baby girl. I heard the news and felt a brief stab of envy and regret.

How I yearned to have a child to name for my mother! I quickly pushed that thought away, as I had no idea how I would cope with another pregnancy. Weeks later, nauseous and feeling so tired I wanted to bury my head under the pillow and ignore everyone and everything, I watched the line gradually turn pink on the pregnancy test. I vacillated between intense joy and fear, and decided to speak with my rav. “Your mother sent you a present straight from shamayim,” he comforted me. “And I will even let you have a baby girl.” (Our rav had been the mohel for our three youngest children, all boys.) He assured me I would have a healthy baby, which was a concern, as I would be 43 years old by my due date. A friend who had learned in kollel for many years and knew the story commented to us, “You davened on Rosh Hashanah. The gates of Heaven were open and Hashem heard your prayers.” That summer I reached into the back of the cupboard and eased out that last, lonely candlestick. I placed it carefully next to the other matching eight, for a total of nine. On Erev Shabbos, I lit the final candle as our beautiful, beloved Baila, my mother’s gift, lay in her bassinet. 

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days Sight Unseen

It was an offer we couldn’t refuse By Ann Goldberg

W

ould you buy a house without looking at it first? Not very likely, and if you asked any normal person he’d probably agree. So my husband and I ignored the Jerusalem real estate agent’s warning that if we didn’t buy the apartment he had just described in great detail now, while we were sitting in his office, we would probably lose our chance. “There are hundreds of people waiting to buy it if you walk out of here without signing the contract.” Yes, really. But what would you expect him to say if he wanted to make a quick sale? Well, we did walk out, and immediately caught a bus to Ramot, where the house was located. It was a relatively new neighborhood in those days, 30 years ago. When we got there we couldn’t believe our eyes. It was everything the agent had

said—and more. It was what the Israelis call a “cottage” and consisted of two floors plus a small garden that was beyond our wildest dreams. It was also bigger than we had ever imagined being able to afford in Israel. Truth be told, it was even nicer than the house we had sold in England when we made aliyah the year before. The one thing that made us hesitate, however, just for a second, was that it was situated in a totally ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. Although many observant families prefer living in a completely religious environment, where no immodest sights are seen and no nonkosher influences have a chance to infiltrate the home, this would be a first for us. We were both used to being the rare frum Jewish family among many nonreligious and even non-Jewish ones in our hometowns in England. After we married, my husband had been the rav of a community. Kiruv had been an important

Visit and consult with Anna Maria our in house cosmotition. The Boro Park bus stops in front of our store.

part of our daily lives, and we had learned our own methods of minimizing detrimental influences. But compared to all its other positive attributes this was nothing, and we knew we could get used to the change in environment. And of course, there were many advantages to bringing up our children surrounded by like-minded religious families. I looked at my watch. By then it was already too late to return to the real estate office, so we returned home and set the alarm clock for early the following morning. The next day we got to the office just as it opened. We sat down excitedly at the agent’s desk. “We’ll take it,” we said, almost in unison. “I’m sorry, but it’s already sold. I warned you.” We couldn’t believe it. We had called the agent’s bluff and lost.


Dejectedly, we got up and turned to leave. As we reached the door the agent said, “But there is another possibility.” We spun around. “Would you be prepared to live in a mixed neighborhood?” “What do you mean?” “Where not everyone is religious.” “Of course. We’d even prefer it.” “Well, I wasn’t sure,” he said, looking at my husband. “Seeing as how you’re both dressed, you know, you with a hat and your wife with a sheitel. I thought you’d only be interested in a chareidi neighborhood.” By then we were back at his desk, eagerly awaiting more information. “It’s a few minutes away from the one you saw yesterday,” he said, pointing it out on the map, “but aside from that it’s virtually the same—except for one thing.” We waited to hear the drawback. “The house has three floors instead of two, and a basement as well. But don’t worry; it’s not just a storage room. It has a proper staircase leading to it from the inside, and flooring and a window, and it’s connected to the central heating.” I sighed. This was too good to be true. It was bound to be way beyond our price range. “So how much is it?” “Oh, it’s the same price as the first. Some Israelis consider a basement a disadvantage and don’t like them. But they can really be quite useful.” We looked at each other in disbelief. The agent was apologizing because the house was much bigger than the previous one, and cost the same amount of money. We almost laughed aloud. We turned around and saw dozens of people sitting and waiting to speak to the agent. And a quick glance through the window revealed a long line forming outside. My husband and I looked at each other. Who needs to see a house before he buys it? What’s wrong with sight unseen? “We’ll take it.”  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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