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WHISK: FOUR PARTIES + TONS OF RECIPE IDEAS FOR YOUR MILCHIG CHANUKAH CELEBRATIONS

NOVEMBER 20, 2013 / 17 KISLEV 5774 ISSUE 144

IAL E DITI

SP

CHANUKAH

a conversation with

MINDY POLLAK First Chasidic Borough Councillor in

CANADA

S L E E K . C R I S P. F O R M A L . N A T U R A L . S W E E T .

ISSUE 144 NOVEMBER 20, 2013 17 KISLEV 5774

Celebrate Chanukah

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11/14/13 10:53 PM

>>> REBBETZIN TWERSKI BREAKING OUT OF NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR >>> TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES MY DAUGHTER IS BURDENED WITH HER FRIEND’S SECRET >>> CLEAN BILL I COULD HEAR MY EYES BLINK AND MY HEART BEAT >>> MATCHMAKER TOO MANY GIRLS ON THE BOY’S LIST >>> OUR DAYS THE DREADED PHONE CALL >>> MY RACE TOWARDS SHABBOS

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CONTENTS

17 Kislev 5774 November 20, 2013

Features 22  Truth or Consequences

My daughter was carrying the burden of someone else’s secret. By Peri Berger

26  The Clean Bill

Hanging in the balance: No one ever told me that I wasn’t supposed to hear the beating of my heart. As told to Racheli Sofer

35  Parenting

Ten things you should never say to your child By Chaya Silber

38  Q & A with Mindy Pollak By Machla Abramovitz

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S L E E K . C R I S P. F O R M A L . N A T U R A L . S W E E T .

Departments 6

ISSUE 144 NOVEMBER 20, 2013 17 KISLEV 5774

Editorial By Rechy Frankfurter

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Celebrate Chanukah

Letters

Inside Whisk

12 The Rebbetzin Speaks By Rebbetzin Feige Twerski

A MEGA 36-Page Chanukah Special Edition

14 Golden Nuggets By Basha Majerczyk

18 Bytes

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By Miriam Glick

46  2 Girls on a Diet Challenge

16 FORMAL

By Basya Fruchter and Devoiry Fine

Table setting by Victoria Dwek

48 Shidduch Q & A

22 CRISP

By Malka Sussman

50  The Narrow Bridge

By Peri Berger

Table setting by Shavy Weiss

By Dina Neuman

54  Our Days

22

The rhythm of our lives |

AMI•LIVING

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Table setting by Leah Schapira Recipes by Zehava Krohn

26 NATURAL

52  Daddy’s Girl

4

By Victoria Dwek

4 SLEEK Table setting and recipes by Renee Muller

By Liora Stein

11/14/13 10:53 PM

2 Hello Cooks

in Whisk

20 Debt Diary

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28 SWEET Quintessential Chanukah treats Recipes by Miriam Pascal


Big Flavor Big flavor.

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b Availa r sherbet am o

Cre in Ice

! NIceECW m a e r s

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Dear Readers, There’s an old song whose lyrics occasionally get stuck in my brain: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometime.” Editor in Chief Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter

This refrain usually pops into my head when something happens that I’d rather hadn’t. While we know that rain is inevitable, it helps us appreciate the sunshine. But we hope and pray that the rain comes down in a refreshing shower rather than in torrents.

Editorial

Senior Editor Rechy Frankfurter Managing Editors Victoria Dwek Yossi Krausz

Just tonight my husband and I experienced a sprinkle. After a long day at the office and several late night engagements, we were both exhausted and looking forward to finally getting home and resting. However, as soon as my husband tried to open the door we realized that something was wrong. The door was jammed. For those of you living in warmer climes, the weather in New York has recently turned quite wintry. We stood there in the cold and dark, looking longingly through the windows and wishing we could be inside, warming ourselves. So what does a Yiddishe couple locked out of their house do? Why, call Chaverim, of course. Within a very short time they arrived and let us in. What a relief! It made us feel so grateful for having a roof over our heads. Sometimes takes an experience like that to appreciate Hashem’s chesed and think about those unfortunates who are homeless and sleeping on the streets, r”l.

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

Art

Art Directors Alex Katalkin David Kniazuk

The chesed in our community is so ubiquitous that we occasionally take it for granted. We at Ami recently had an opportunity to view our community’s chesed from an outside perspective.

Food

Food Editors Victoria Dwek Leah Schapira

One of our employees here at the magazine is a non-Jew ironically named David. One day he seemed quite upset about something, and when we asked him what was wrong he told us he had a problem and was in a quandary as to how to solve it. After a little brainstorming session, my husband got in touch with someone who could help him out. When David asked us why that person would be willing to come to the assistance of a stranger, my husband explained the concept of chesed, and how we all wanted to help him resolve his dilemma.

Advertising

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

A couple of days later David announced that he too had done a chesed. Standing in line to pay for the lunch he had just ordered, he noticed an elderly woman right behind him. “I gave the cashier $20 and told him that I was paying for the lady behind me. I did it because I wanted to do a chesed for you guys, just as you did for me.”

Advertising Coordinator Malky Friedman Markowitz Distribution 917-202-3973 646-247-0262

Ami Magazine

Witnessing what a novel and refreshing concept our community’s style of chesed was for someone who wasn’t brought up here, I was able to see it objectively and appreciate it even more.

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

What a beautiful rose garden!

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

rechy@amimagazine.org

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17 KISLEV 5774


www.designixonline.com

LETUS ямБll in THE

REST


LETTERS

I’ve Been There

Advice for the wife of an Internet addict In reference to “Our Days,” Issue 136

Dear Editor: I’m responding to the AmiLiving article, “Toxic Secrets,” in the “Our Days” section.This is opening up wounds for me. I hope to never have to go through this again. Here are some tips based on my experience. If your husband/wife is too quiet, inquire: “What is going on?” This should be done in a quiet, private time so your partner might open up. Don’t ignore it. It may get worse. It is a mitzvah to say, “Have a good day.” Make sure your spouse gets out the door with all that he or she needs to take along. Saying “Good morning/Good Shabbos” and responding are so essential. It makes one feel that he or she is in the thoughts of the other person. It is always appropriate to compliment food, even if it’s just to your wife. Maybe if the husband would be more involved in serving and interacting with the guest(s), Shani would not have to balance the baby on her hip while serving. Guests are a great distraction to your everyday problems. I read that therapists are 85 percent successful. That is great! Just make sure that the therapist is not going through a divorce himself or herself, or else he/she may not be able to focus well enough on your healing. Ask any psychologist and he will tell you that trauma comes in predictable patterns: shock, anger, and action. Shock can put you in a position of going through life without much emotion. You do what you have to do only on a mechanical level. This is not the time to make any important decisions. It may even be dangerous to operate machinery if you are really shaken up. All technology—texting, computers, and even a cell phone—need to be monitored. I still review all the calls on the printout, years later.

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Blaming oneself is the wrong thing to do. You can never be good enough for someone who has an addiction. This is your spouse’s problem that needs to be addressed. Shani now puts on lipstick when she is in the house in the presence of her husband. You had an editorial in the June 19, 2013, issue of AmiLiving (Issue #124): Someone wanted to take his wife on vacation. She said it was not the right time since their daughter was due soon. Another friend jokingly remarked that all too soon she would be an empty nester and the one to develop the most important relationship with is your spouse. So true! In that same issue you had a wonderful article, “What’s the Best Marriage Advice You Ever Received?” It would be nice to gather “Men Share the Best Marriage Advice They Ever Received.” Once you are aware of an addiction, the trust in marriage is over. This does not mean, though, that you are through with your marriage. This just means that your spouse is aware that you will be checking up on him or her at any time you are suspicious. The book, I’m So Confused, Am I Being Abused? Guidance for the Orthodox Jewish Spouse and Those Who Want to Help, by Lisa Twerski, helps one deal with abuse. Pledges from an addictive spouse are usually not enough. The abuser needs to be aware of a threat that you are serious about. This is a very dangerous situation for you. It can come with a lot of consequences. Give a lot of thought to the threat you convey. When Shimshon was asked “Are you, um, looking at that stuff again?” He answered “Nah!” It is important not to ask and get a denial. Rather, gather the evidence and approach with it so that it does not fester for “ten years.” Name withheld


LETTERS

encore

It Doesn’t Do a Body Good

Public Service Announcement

Perfect…for a calf ?

This popular sweater is shaatnez! Dear Editor: I have asked around about which media outlet I should forward this important piece of information to, and I was directed to Ami. Now, the reason for my letter: It has been brought to my attention that the composite material of the gray stripe in the sweater pictured here is flax and wool: in other words, shaatnez. The store that sold this sweater is a well-heeled establishment called Ann Taylor, and I feel that there must be many women who are innocently wearing this product without being aware of this indiscretion. Please print this letter, with the picture, so that the public at large could recognize it in their wardrobes and not continue to be aver. Thanks for a great read. Pessy Goldstein

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

You might be crying over this news about milk: According to a new study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Pediatrics, humans have no nutritional requirement for milk. And it may be doing us more harm than good because of all the sugar even plain nonfat milk contains. Dr. David Ludwig, the Harvard professor and pediatrician behind the study, said that drinking milk in general is not even as good for our bones as was once assumed. Dr. Ludwig explains that bone fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk, compared to those that do. He promotes seeking other sources of calcium, such as leafy greens. As described in Issue 24’s “The Clean Bill,” his study isn’t the first to debate the benefits of dairy. Proponents of the anti-dairy movement say, “Milk is nature’s perfect food…if you’re a calf.”

Tania Rosen Responds Clarifying her stance on carbs In reference to “Letters,” Issue 141

Dear Rachel: Please allow me to explain what I meant when I said that no-carb diets only work short-term. I meant that if, after following such a plan for some time, the person goes back to regular eating of carbohydrates without monitoring slow reintroduction, the body may not handle this well, as its ability to process carbohydrates was compromised over that extreme no-carb time period. When people stick to a diet such as Grey Sheet, as you mentioned, for many years or even forever, there is no need to reteach the body how to handle the carbohydrates they cut out. If I were to rephrase, I would say that if you can do this for life, do it. If not, as with anything, moderation is always best and you should stick to what you can handle long-term. I hope this clarifies what I meant. Best of luck to you on your weight-loss journey. Tania

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THE

REBBETZIN LEAVING YOUR COMFORT ZONE

SPEAKS

BREAKING OUT OF NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR PATTERNS IS ALSO MESIRAS NEFESH By Rebbetzin Feige Twerski

O

ur eight-year-old grandson, Shea’leh, yichyeh, is reading a book on the Holocaust. The young lad is a thinker by nature, and exposure to that inferno and the unspeakable horrors visited upon our people has had a huge impact on him. We recently had Shabbos dinner with our children, Shea’leh’s parents. Shea’leh, whose anxieties were provoked by his reading, was very concerned about who was going to walk us home so that we got there safely. Young as he is, he has also been struck by the sheer heroism of the death camp prisoners, and the ability of the human spirit to soar and triumph under the most horrific of circumstances. The accounts of mesiras nefesh and transcendence—of holding onto faith in Hashem and not betraying one’s humanity—are legion. On the one hand, they generate great pride in the caliber of the Jewish soul. On the other, they cause us to feel humble and wonder: If, Heaven forbid, we were ever tested in a similar way, would we rise to the challenge? Would we be able to muster the requisite emunah, bitachon and self-sacrifice to battle so evil and formidable an enemy? An anecdote is told of a Rebbe who asked his chasidim the following question: If they were walking down the street on

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Shabbos and saw a large sum of money on the ground, would they stoop to pick it up? One chasid insisted righteously that he would never desecrate the Shabbos. A second admitted with great sadness that given his state of poverty, he would likely fall victim to temptation. A third chasid came up with the answer the Rebbe was looking for. He said that he knew what the ideal response should be and what he should do, yet he was also aware that theoretical predictions were useless and irrelevant. It is only when a person finds himself thrust into a given situation that his response will emerge, and one must hope and pray that he would prevail over evil. We all have a tendency to underestimate ourselves. When we hear stories of those who preceded us, we convince ourselves that we could never measure up to their extraordinary achievements. However, the truth is that a definition of mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice, is in order. We assume that surrendering one’s life for Hashem constitutes the ultimate sacrifice. Arguably, however, the sefarim point out that living for Hashem in a transcendent way is a far greater accomplishment. Dying for Hashem takes but a moment; living an existence of mesiras nefesh is the path of a lifetime. Mesiras nefesh thus involves coming up against our perceived limitations and pushing out the walls of those boundaries. It means leaving our comfort zones and being willing to explore uncharted territory in personal growth. Our Sages teach that the true greatness of Rachel Imeinu in transferring the codes to her sister Leah was not in her momentary flash of mesiras nefesh. Rather, 17 KISLEV 5774

it was the fact that in so doing she was willing to live the rest of her life, every single day, deprived of her intended husband, all for the sake of preventing her sister from being shamed and humiliated. Rachel did not know that her wicked father Lavan would allow Yaakov to work another seven years to earn her hand in marriage. Mesiras nefesh is thus the willingness to live day to day, moment to moment, with an awareness that every choice and decision we make is an opportunity for self-transcendence. Consider Liba, who was in an abusive marriage. After exhausting every possible avenue, she realized she had no choice but to leave the marriage. She was advised by her rav, her parents and her to’ein (personal advocate) to go to the beis din and apprise them of all the battering to which she had been subjected during the toxic relationship. Liba refused. She insisted that despite her years of pain and suffering, she would not publicly malign this person who was obviously emotionally crippled. Predictably, her get was many years in coming, but she made the decision to take what she considered to be the high road. She transcended her own needs out of concern for another. The postscript to the story is that when she remarried, her former to’ein, well versed in her history, approached her new fatherin-law at the wedding to tell him that impressed as he might be with the woman his son was marrying, he had not even scratched the surface of her grandeur. Dahlia was widowed, r”l, and left alone with a dozen children to raise. She was devastated and inconsolable. Nevertheless, she mobilized all her strength to create a happy environment and a nurturing home


for her children. Moreover, her acts of chesed, availing her many talents and gifts to whomever might benefit from them, was nothing short of remarkable. Henya’s husband and family reeled from her negativity and dark moods. The shadows she cast over every situation were oppressive. She justified her attitude by claiming that her assessments were “realistic.” When a life-threatening situation with a family member arose, Henya made a dramatic paradigm shift. After much laborious work and introspection, her gloomy and pessimistic stance gave way to a more upbeat disposition. To the delight of all she encountered, she began to exude a positive energy. She broke out of the habitual behavior that had imprisoned her for so long, transcending what she had insisted was just “her way” of thinking. Mesiras nefesh was invoked, and the greatest beneficiary of all was Henya herself. On a lighter note, my husband, shlita, claims great mesiras nefesh in that he has deferred to my preference for keeping the house at a cool temperature (“frigid,” according to him) for the last 50-plus years of our married life. Since he has registered that complaint, I have attempted to stretch my tolerance for heat by hiking up the thermostat a few degrees. Someone aptly observed that great things in life are achieved not by extraordinary people, but by ordinary people who do extraordinary things. That, in a nutshell, is the definition of mesiras nefesh.  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.


GOLDEN NUGGETS // By Basha Majerczyk

THE LOTTERY TICKET

A

chasid once came to the Berditchever very distraught. A well-to-do man, he had lost all of his money through a series of bad business deals and was in debt over his head. What should he do? No one knew of his misfortune as yet, but it was sure to leak out at any moment. The Berditchever advised him to buy a lottery ticket. “With all due respect,” the chasid replied, “I have no doubt that the tzaddik’s promise of salvation will come about, but who knows how long it might take? It can take years until the holder of a winning ticket is paid, and in the meantime I have creditors banging down my door, not to mention a daughter I have to marry off.” “Have no fear,” the Berditchever reassured him. “Hashem will provide you with money even before you win the lottery.” The chasid went out and bought a lottery ticket. On the way home, he stopped at a certain inn to spend the night. A short while later, a high-ranking government minister who was also traveling in the area stopped at the same inn. That night the minister had a dream, that one of his fellow guests at the inn was a Jew who was holding a winning lottery ticket and that he should try to convince him to switch tickets: The one he himself had bought was worthless, whereas the Jew’s would surely win. The minister bolted awake, but realizing it was only a dream, he went back to sleep. Immediately, the dream was repeated. This time, he climbed out of bed and ordered his assistant to make inquiries if there was indeed such a person at the inn, and if so, to bring him to his room. The Jew was duly located and brought before him. “Do you have a lottery ticket in your

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“I’ll take yours and you’ll take mine, and I’ll throw in a few gold coins to sweeten the deal.” possession?” the minister asked. “Yes,” the Jew replied. “Well, so do I,” the minister said. “Let’s make an exchange. I’ll take yours and you’ll take mine, and I’ll throw in a few gold coins to sweeten the deal.” The Jew refused, adding that he wouldn’t agree to the switch even if he gave him a large sum of money. The minister kept increasing the amount he was willing to pay until he offered him the exorbitant sum of a thousand gold coins, but still the Jew said no. At that the minister lost his temper and ordered his assistant to seize the lottery ticket by force. When the deed was done the minister said, “Look, I’m not trying to rob you; I’m only interested in making an exchange. I will pay you the thousand

17 KISLEV 5774

gold coins I offered you before and give you my own lottery ticket.” The Jew had no choice but to accept the “offer.” He returned home and married off his daughter. A short while later, the lottery ticket the minister had given him was declared the winner of a small fortune. The chasid went back to the Berditchever to tell him the story. “I could see that your mazal had fallen,” the Berditchever explained, “so I had to cause the minister to have that dream. I knew that it was his ticket that would win, and not yours. The extra thousand gold coins were only because you told me you had to make a wedding.” The chasid returned home, and eventually became even wealthier than before. n


As told to Dini Perlmutter

Didi

Chapter Three

T

he first few months after Didi was diagnosed were intense. We davened hard, we made sure we did everything right, and that we explore all options. When the doctor first broke the news to us, I said to her, “Look, I have many questions, some of them I’m not even aware of, but there are two things I trust in. I trust in G-d and I trust in you.” And even when there were times when the fear would make me quiver and the unknown made us immobile we tried to live by that dictum. Didi’s diagnosis was a hard punch. You lie beaten to the ground, the world brimming above your disillusioned eyes; you see faces and the sky, the powerful and weak, the child and adult -all at the same height. But when you lift yourself up, you see things differently. You begin to see who’s really in control. You see how it’s Hashem who decides on every breath we take. It’s hard, but He makes it bearable. And what also made things bearable was the flexibility of the human heart. It fascinates me how when we find any similarity to another, our hearts form an

We’re in it

Diagnosis of the Heart

immediate bond; be it that we both deal with cancer, be it that we share a familial connection or be it that we are both Yidden. I had 40 messages on my voicemail and an overflowing inbox right when Didi was diagnosed. People called to let us know they are here if we need them or even if we don’t. A few months into treatment, my brother- in-law, Tuvye from New York, called me. From his “hello” I could hear he was excited about something. “Listen Menachem; I met this guy, Yoli Brill from RCCS, he’s amazing. You have to give him a call.” Tuvye told me. “What is this about?” “It’s about Didi. I’ll send you his number.” “Why would I call just someone I’ve never met?” “Trust me. Give him a call.” I got Mr. Brill’s number, I procrastinated a bit though. Why share my private life with someone who’s almost 3,000 miles away? Then the curious part of me surfaced and I figured nothing too bad can come from sharing a struggle with a fellow Jew. I dialed his number and introduced myself. “We’re here for you.” Mr. Brill’s voice

came through the line. What? He must be strange. “What do you mean?” “Tell me what you need. Maybe a second opinion, an advocate, liaison, mental health professional?” I was dumbfounded. I had never heard of people like him. I opened my heart and shared with him how we were paying skyrocketing premiums for Didi. Because of her allergies to some medications, only very expensive insurance covered her medication. “How much is it out of your pocket?” “Huh?” “How much is it out of your pocket? RCCS will pay it for you.” Didi’s face came looming in my mind, her bald head and pale skin. Then her face receded and broke out in a featuretransforming smile. Mi k’amcha Yisroel. They’re literally there for you. Which part of her journey is Didi onto today? 877-332-2808 On Tuesday November 26 Hear an update from Didi’s father! Exclusive on the RCCS auction hotline

Few days left! Get your tickets now! 1.877.332.2808 • www.RCCSauction.org


BYTES

// Morsels of Wisdom, Wit and Popular Advice By Miriam Glick

Rolling with the Punches The secret to handling criticism gracefully

Being criticized by your spouse or boss? Criticism can be painful but it can also be helpful.

Pause: Take a moment before

Listen: Listen and honestly decide

Respond with a smile, and say thank you.

whether the criticism is constructive or just plain hurtful. Although it may be painful to hear the truth, listen and learn instead of being defensive.

you respond. Never lash back in anger.

Respond: Keep your cool no matter what. Be Objective: Take yourself out of the situation and try to view it from an outside perspective. Don’t let your personal feelings get involved. Analyze: Take apart the criticisms. Sort truth from fiction, and learn from your mistakes.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

CAN CERTAIN FOODS MAKE YOU DEPRESSED?

Before reaching for a plate of pasta, think again. It just might cause depression. Harvard researchers say there is a connection between eating refined grains and depression. The study researched 43,000 women over 12 years. One-third of women who ate refined grains, like pasta, chips and crackers, were susceptible to depression. The cause? Researchers believe the inflammation caused by the food leads to depression. Hmm…maybe it causes only women to be depressed because of the weight gain. Just some food for thought.

A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION

HOW THE DEVICE CREATED TO CONNECT HAS CAUSED DISCONNECT

People who use cell phones on the street are considered rude and impolite. That we know. But how about people who use cell phones in general? People who are constantly using their mobile devices are more inclined to become selfish self-centered people. In a recent study, researchers looked at two groups of people: the cell phone users and the non-cell phone users. The results were astounding. The cell phone users acted in a more selfish manner. They were less likely to volunteer. They also put in less effort on a problem-solving task, although they knew that completing it would cause money to be donated to charity. “The cell phone directly evokes feelings of connectivity to others, thereby fulfilling the basic human need to belong,” the study’s authors write in a working paper titled “The Effect of Mobile Phone Use on Prosocial Behavior.” Moral? Hang up the phone!!

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PUTTER

JOG YOUR MEMORY

AROUND

the

HOUSE

THE SAYING MAY BE MORE LITERAL THAN YOU THINK

Recent research points to the importance of maintaining lower blood sugar to combat dementia. Earlier this year, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that higher glucose may be a risk factor for dementia. A second study recently published in the journal Neurology suggests that even modest increases in blood sugar among middle-aged adults can have a negative effect on memory. The researchers explained that high blood sugar can damage memory by affecting blood vessels, leading to decreased blood and nutrient flow to brain cells, impairing the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory. What should we do to keep our blood sugar down? The study authors have the usual advice that isn’t getting old: Exercise, and eat fiber, veggies, fruit, fish and whole grains.

SOS TEXTING A SHIFT IN THE MESSAGING TREND

We know texting can kill but now it can also saves lives. When someone has a heart attack, every minute counts. And with so many people experienced in CPR, it could just take seconds for someone to arrive at the scene. The problem is that the people are unaware that there is a patient nearby waiting for help. Therefore Sweden has implemented a new system to get help for a cardiac-arrest patient. The program, called SMSlifesaver, is designed to alert nearby rescuers, via text, that help is needed. People who are trained in CPR sign up to the program. “Lots of people in Sweden, as well as in America I guess, are educated and really skilled in CPR, but the problem is that lots of people don’t get to use their skills, and we are trying to figure out a way to contact them… Using a text message, or SMS, seems like a fairly easy idea,” says David Fredman, project manager for SMSlifesavers. When a 911 call comes in, the victim is located geographically. Then, through a GPS tracking system, all people in that vicinity who have signed up to the program receive an alert. “We are using GSM technology,” said Fredman. “This is not based on smartphones, so you can use it on any platform, as long as you have a phone... We don’t need your fancy phones, we need your fancy skills.” 17 KISLEV 5774

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COKE

ABILITIES It’s not just your favorite soda

Next time you’re enjoying an ice-cold glass of Coca Cola, have in mind what else it can do. RUST BUSTER Item full of rust? Soak in some coke overnight, and then scrub it down in the morning. GUNK BUSTER Window full of gunk? Wash with some coke, then wipe away with some water. SKUNK BUSTER Sprayed by a skunk? Take a coke shower, and then rinse with water. ENCRUSTED POT BUSTER Pot full of burned black? Pour coke in and cook on low flame, then wash pot as usual. STAIN BUSTER Clothes full of grease stains? Add coke to the wash together with your regular detergent. BUG BUSTER Bugs in your garden? Place coke in a dish near the problem, and watch the bugs disappear.

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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: The Steins review their monthly spending, which was lower, but not low enough. Liora’s friend Perel offers to barter babysitting to help defray the costs of working more hours in exchange for graphics for her homebased business.

Part 14: Muddling Along Stacks of ungraded papers are piling up next to my computer. I must finish marking them so I can hand them back tomorrow. Yet my mind floats elsewhere. I get up to make a coffee. As I scrounge around looking for the sugar, the babysitting dilemma is distracting me. The person I hired hasn’t bonded with my son. I keep hoping they’ll warm up to each other. My cleaning lady talks on her phone too much, causing mismatched socks, unmopped hallways, and unwashed uniforms. Every morning the kids rush down the stairs searching for what to wear to school. Frustrated, I take a swig of coffee and get back to work. Tonight Tzvi is up with me, fiddling with his photography equipment. With his job search in the dumps since his slew of fruitless interviews, Tzvi’s decided to try freelancing at something he enjoys, to supplement his day job, like I’m doing with graphic design. I put on music to inspire me to work faster. “Is the music bothering you?” I ask Tzvi. “A little,” Tzvi says, as he unpacks his new photo paper. He’s finding a way to connect his camera to our color printer. I lower the volume, stand up, and sit down again. I

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need to focus. Just as I settle into writing comments, Tzvi’s tripod crashes in the living room. Nights when Tzvi would race upstairs to sleep, I missed his company. Now that he’s awake and working on his own projects, I miss the stillness of alone time in the middle of the night. “I checked our balance today,” I tell Tzvi. He’s aiming the camera at the leftover Shabbos flowers, like he’s capturing a still life. “It was much lower than before.” “We paid the mortgage,” Tzvi explains. “That was the bumper last month.” I slump in my chair, put down my pen and check the online account again. There are rows of transactions detailing the routine of our family life: MetroCard, lattes, groceries, tuition, mortgage and utilities. Where was the wiggle room? There must be ways to do better. “I spoke to the financial consultant,” Tzvi continues, resting the camera on the table and walking towards the computer. “It was so depressing. He told me we have to build up an emergency account that could last us six months before he’d even discuss planning for our future.” “Ouch. But I guess it’s reasonable?” I ask. I can see the worry on Tzvi’s face. His beard is turning whiter


WEEKLY SPENDI NG

with each passing month of financial uncertainty. “It’s the typical advice. Have an emergency fund, put away for retirement, pay down the highest interest rate cards first. Blah, blah, blah.” Tzvi says. “I just don’t understand how it applies to a frum family. How could we ever be that ahead?” I grab a handful of chocolate chips as I listen to him complain, nodding my head as I chomp away. “It’s gonna work out somehow,” I reassure him, as I reach for more chocolate. “I need a better job,” Tzvi says under his breath. “I don’t see another way out of this.” I feel guilty that my efforts aren’t enough to provide Tzvi a sense of financial security. The modest income from my two jobs kept us afloat over the past month or so. Tzvi hides his unhappiness behind his camera lens, clicking away at household objects, turning his camera at an angle to capture the right light or an artful shape. “Maybe I should take Perel up on her barter offer.”

We have to build up an emergency account that could last us six months. I let the words slip out too quickly, forgetting Tzvi’s dark mood. This wasn’t the time for a logical discussion. Hoping he didn’t hear, I start to turn back to my pile of papers. Tzvi shakes his head no. “The kids will never go for it,” he tells me, still looking at the floor. “Maybe Yitzy, but the girls? Never.” “Maybe they’ll just have to adjust,” I answer back. I know he’s right that they’d fuss, but I’m wondering how other people have handled such a change. If Perel took the kids a few days after school while I finished teaching, it would reduce our babysitting costs by half. “And you would be giving her unlimited graphics help in exchange?” Tzvi asks. His voice sounds tired. “Yeah, so? It’s only fair.” I feel the heat rising in my cheeks. My heart’s beating faster as I prepare my defenses. “You’ll be even less available with the extra work,” Tzvi says. I feel accused.

(sprea dsheet appear s mont hly) MORTGA GE..... ...... ...... GROCER .... $2 IES.... 800 ...... ...... RESTAU ..... $ RANTS.. 590 ...... ...... TZVI’S ..... $ 168 PHOTOG RAPHY S T U FF.... DRY CL . $130 EANING ...... ...... BABYSI ..... $ TTING/ 115 HOUSE CLEANE R.... $ 360

“What does that mean?” I hold my head in my hands, rubbing my temples. I don’t want to fight. “You think I can’t set limits with her?” “And this is why Rabbi Arush warns against sharing money troubles with your wife,” Tzvi says, changing the topic. Anger swells in my throat. “I don’t want to take advantage,” I respond, raising my voice. I want to be able to resolve this in therapy, with someone who can guide us smoothly over the bumps. Our therapist would know whether it’s better for the kids to go home to a babysitter they don’t enjoy, or to wait at a friend’s house and get home later. She would be able to shake Tzvi out of his job funk, worse from the recent rejection letter he got from a job he applied to online. My palms are sweaty as I reach for my phone to text the therapist who’d navigated us toward shalom and clear thinking, ready to ignore our budget constraints. More than anything, I want Tzvi to be happy. I want us to be happy, even more than having more money. “We’re not going to therapy, Liora,” Tzvi scolds, reading my mind. He’s facing me, camera slung around his neck. I’m suddenly worried he’ll take a picture of me in my shiny tichel slouching over schoolwork. My jaw tightens as the tension escalates. I close my eyes to reset my perspective, searching my memory for some wisdom I’ve culled from the work we’ve already done. With my eyes still closed, I hear Mrs. D’s calm voice instructing me, “You are not married to yourself.” What had seemed an insignificant, obvious comment now made sense as I pulled my thoughts into focus: Tzvi is allowed to have his own reaction to our crisis, his own fears that I can’t allay, and his own triggers. n



To be continued... 17 KISLEV 5774

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TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

IN STRICTEST CONFIDENCE


My daughter’s friend had a secret that was now hers as well As told to Peri Berger

T

he first time my daughter Shira brought Rivky home I didn’t give it any thought. Shira was always bringing friends over, and I never objected because I preferred seeing who she was with and what she was doing to having her go to other people’s homes. So to me, Rivky was just another in a long line of Shira’s study partners and acquaintances. But when Rivky started coming over every day after school I started to get concerned. Up until recently, there had always been extracurricular activities or study groups to attend; now it seemed like all Shira did was host Rivky. I decided it was time to get involved. One day I stationed myself in the kitchen and had a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies waiting for them. I knew they were irresistible, and made sure to take a batch out of the oven right before they arrived so the smell would lure them in. Sure enough, Shira and Rivky made a beeline for the kitchen. As they sat down and dived in, I observed Rivky up close. She looked like any other Bais Yaakov girl until I looked into her eyes at an unguarded moment. I’d never seen such sad eyes on such a young person, and I had to stop myself from reaching out and giving her a hug. Once again my Shira had found a stray puppy to bring home. After a few months of daily visits, I started to get the feeling that something was bothering Rivky. I made it my business to spend time with both girls, and sure enough it came out that Rivky’s parents had filed for divorce. They had sat all the children down and told them that their father would be moving out, but that they would still be able to see him. This turned out to be untrue. Rivky’s father was having issues with his religious observance; her mother didn’t want to expose the kids to his new lifestyle, so she had prevented him from seeing them. Rivky was miserable and torn. I knew she’d been confiding in my daughter, but the girls were only in the seventh grade, and I could see that Shira was having a hard time carrying the burden

alone. In an attempt to alleviate its weight I started chatting with Rivky too, and got more than my share of an earful. According to Rivky, her father was terribly upset over not being able to see his children and had filed for sole custody. Rivky didn’t know all the big words; all she could do was to repeat what she’d heard, but I was able to put two and two together. Neither party was willing to give in, and Rivky and her siblings were smack in the middle of a nasty game of tug-of-war. I was very careful not to take anyone’s side because I didn’t want to influence Rivky in any way, nor did I wish to incur her mother’s wrath. Rivky’s mother Fraidy was a tough customer. We’d spoken on the phone a number of times, mostly conversations about when she was coming to pick Rivky up or asking if she could eat dinner with us or sleep over. I could tell that she was under tremendous pressure and I tried to be accommodating, even though I sometimes thought that Rivky was getting the short end of the stick when it came to maternal attention. She had a short fuse, and the last thing I wanted was for Rivky to come home and say, “Shira’s mother said…,” which would only make her think I had some kind of influence over her daughter. The day the divorce was finalized and her mother was awarded custody, Rivky sat at my kitchen table and cried her eyes out. It was heartbreaking. I fed her cookies and milk and just sat there with her. That night I hugged Shira so hard she begged me to stop, but I think she understood how grateful I was that our family was intact. About three months later I started noticing that Shira looked uncomfortable whenever Rivky was around. She was still coming over every afternoon, and it had reached a point where I was about to put a stop to it. One night I walked into Shira’s bedroom to have a little talk before she went to sleep and was surprised to find her crying. “What’s the matter, sweetheart?” I asked, sitting down on the edge of her bed. “Nothing,” she sniffled. I smiled and said nothing, waiting for her to begin talking. This usually worked, but she remained silent. “Come on, honey. You can tell me.” 17 KISLEV 5774

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TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

It took a couple of weeks to convince her that it was the right thing to do.

She looked down at her hands. Suddenly, I had a hunch. “Does this have anything do with Rivky?” That’s when the dam burst. It turned out that Rivky’s father had waited for her after school one day despite a restraining order, and he reestablished contact. The school was supposed to call the police if he was spotted on the premises, but he had apparently slipped in undetected. In any case, he was now meeting with her on a regular basis. Rivky had sworn Shira to secrecy and warned her against telling anyone, including me. My first reaction was pure rage. How dare she burden my daughter with such a huge problem? Enough was enough already. My compassion for Rivky and her situation flew out the window in the face of my own child’s misery. Seeing my expression, Rivky started to cry harder. “Mommy, please don’t tell anyone I told you! Rivky will be furious! I promised I wouldn’t say anything, and if she finds out that I broke my promise she’ll never speak to me again!” Personally, I didn’t think that would be such a bad thing, but I kept my opinion to myself. “Shira, do you understand how serious this is?” Shira only shrugged, and I realized that nothing more was going to be accomplished that night. I kissed her and tucked her in, then made my way downstairs to figure out what to do. First and foremost I was angry with myself. I should never have let their friendship become so exclusive and confining. I berated myself for not being more proactive and encouraging other friends and activities. Now I was stuck with this dilemma and had no idea how to resolve it. After three days of little sleep, I sat down with my husband and told him the whole story. He understood why I had been reluctant to spill the secret that Rivky had entrusted to Shira, and that Shira had confided in me. He had always complimented me on how respectful I was of my children’s privacy, and how careful I was about earning their trust. I could almost see the wheels turning in his head. Finally he said, “Look, I can ask a rav what to do. But I think the first step would be for Shira to convince Rivky to tell her mother what she’s up to. This way we’re not directly involved,

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and Shira won’t feel like she betrayed her friend.” This sounded reasonable to me, but not to Shira. By then she was so emotionally distraught that it took a couple of weeks to convince her that it was the right thing to do. Then it was another few weeks until Rivky was persuaded to tell her mother, but she finally mustered up her courage and did so. According to Rivky, her mother had an absolute fit, but she eventually realized she was powerless to stop her from seeing her father without losing her completely. She was a good mother in a bad situation, and knew when it was time to loosen the reins. Fraidy called me not long after the big reveal and asked me point blank if I had had anything to do with it. I debated telling her the truth, but decided I didn’t want to make the same mistake as Shira and become enmeshed in another person’s problems. I simply said that Rivky was a good girl who wanted to do the right thing, and she accepted that. As we were about to hang up, Fraidy, in an uncharacteristically humble tone of voice said, “Thank you.” I hadn’t expected that, and was surprisingly moved. I’d tried very hard to do the right thing, and it was nice to receive some acknowledgement.

***

A year later, Rivky and Shira had developed a healthier relationship that included other friends. Fraidy phoned from time to time to chat, and at one point she mentioned that she’d rescinded the restraining order and had sat down with her exhusband to write up a contract. No movies, no Internet, and no secular music were a few of the stipulations, and so far he was keeping up his end of the bargain. She’d also insisted he wear a yarmulke and tzitzis when he was around the children. “I’m so afraid for them, you know,” she explained. “They’re so vulnerable.” I smiled wryly as she said that. If she only knew what I’d gone through to protect my own daughter from hers.  *Names changed to protect privacy 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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THE CLEAN BILL // Real People on the Quest for Health


AS TOLD TO RACHELI SOFER

HANGIN G IN THE BALANCE I’D SUFFERED FROM A “DIZZYING” PROFUSION OF SYMPTOMS MY ENTIRE LIFE. IT TOOK 30 YEARS UNTIL SOMEONE TIED THEM ALL TOGETHER. 17 KISLEV 5774

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

That’s how it was from the moment I was born. I was always OPEN MY EYES TO THE START conscious of the rhythmic sound of my heart and the flittering noise made by my eyelids; indeed, many of the sounds my body were amplified. No one ever told me that it wasn’t normal OF A NEW DAY AND—THUMP— made to hear my heart beating or my eyes blinking. And it never to me to ask any questions. SWING MY LEGS OVER THE occurred Even as a young girl I had constant headaches, although I didn’t recognize them as such until I got older. But I wasn’t of a complainer and didn’t really know what I was SIDE OF MY BED. THUMP. I much experiencing. My balance was also somewhat off, even though the art of walking at an appropriate age as a toddler. was never able to look up at the sky, and merry-go-rounds MAKE MY WAY TOWARD MY IIweremastered totally out of the question; they made me too dizzy. I took gymnastics later on in life, but I never mastered the balance BEDROOM DOOR—THUMP— beam. In shul, I always had to lean on a table. Taking three steps back at the end of the Shemoneh Esrei sounds easy, but I couldn’t even that simple feat without holding on to something for PAUSING FOR JUST A BRIEF dosupport. I often got nauseous on even the shortest car trips. I was unable to lift heavy objects; that would also make me lose INSTANT—THUMP—TO TAKE IN my balance. And things didn’t improve as I got older. As a teenager, you would never have seen me jumping out of bed on a Sunday morning and running off to the mall with THE BRIGHT MORNING SUNSHINE my friends; the idea was unthinkable. Each time I attempted a shopping trip I’d come home feeling sick for days; the mall FILTERING THROUGH MY WINDOW. was too loud, there were too many people and I felt oddly disoriented. My parents simply assumed I wasn’t a shopper. While each symptom was strange, it never occurred to me BUT I DARE NOT LIFT MY HEAD TO that they might be connected. I wasn’t the type to run to doctors. In fact, I was positively doctor-phobic, as is my father. And so I soldiered on into adulthood, popping Advil as if it was candy. TAKE IN THE SPLENDOR OF THE The ibuprofen cleared my headaches, so I reasoned there wasn’t else a doctor could do other than prescribe a different MORNING SKY—THUMP. I KNOW THAT much medication. As a teenager, I lived with a constant symphony of what I chalked up as minor annoyances, perpetually surrounded by bodily noises I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to hear. WOULD—THUMP—THROW ME OFF But then one day everything changed. I was 30 years old and on vacation in Florida with a close friend in February 2009, BALANCE. when I was hit on the right side of my head with a full plastic water bottle, the victim of a random attack by a crazy person on

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DON’T MISS OUR

the street. I wasn’t badly hurt and I laughed off the incident, but four weeks later I was suddenly felled by a powerful wave of dizziness. It was Purim, and I was supposed to make my way to Queens for a family seudah—“supposed” being the operative word here—but I was suddenly so dizzy and my head was pounding so hard that it was impossible to leave the house. From then on, I knew that something was desperately wrong. I could no longer ignore the symptoms; these were no “minor annoyances” anymore, and I couldn’t function normally. I couldn’t make any sudden motions with my head, and my balance was much worse than it had ever been. I would lose my balance from the siren of a fire truck and suddenly collapse. After two months of suffering, I finally consulted a doctor. He referred me to a neurologist. It was the first time in my life that I had actively sought help for my symptoms. The neurologist ordered a battery of tests that required me to move my head a certain way and focus on particular objects. I performed so poorly that the technician looked alarmed. “I can see you’re not feeling well!” she said. It was the understatement of the century, but coming from her it really scared me. I worried what she knew that I didn’t. The neurologist also sent me for an MRI, which to my great relief showed nothing. When all the tests were declared inconclusive, the neurologist prescribed Antivert (meclizine), a drug that is commonly used to treat nausea, dizziness and motion sickness, and sent me on what he hoped would be my merry way. Unfortunately, though, I had a horrible reaction to the medication. While the dizziness subsided, I couldn’t move my limbs. The doctor switched the medication, but as soon as I stopped taking it the dizziness came back with a vengeance. That made me realize I wasn’t tackling the problem head-on: This was just masking the symptoms with medication. The next step of my journey led me to an ear, nose and throat specialist, who briefly examined me and said I had come to the wrong address. “Daniella,” he said, “an ENT

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

A

neighbor called me at one point to invite me over. When I politely declined she responded, “You can walk, can’t you? There’s nothing wrong with your feet.”

can’t help you. You should see a neurologist.” I had already been down that road unsuccessfully. Frustrated and still feeling ill, I didn’t know where to turn. My primary care doctor referred me to an otologist, a doctor whose area of expertise is the structure and function of the ear and the vestibular system that controls balance. The otologist didn’t waste any time. After conducting various tests he concluded that I was suffering from BPPV, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, a disorder arising in the inner ear. Its symptoms are repeated episodes of a spinning sensation caused by changes in the position of the head. The doctor told me to schedule another appointment and come prepared in a button-down shirt. After he performed a certain head maneuver called the Dix Hallpike maneuver, tilting my head in all directions to reposition the inner ear crystals he said were causing all my symptoms, I would have to wear a neck brace for 48 hours to avoid moving my head. I would also have to sleep on a recliner, at a 90-degree angle. Desperate for relief, I made the appointment and suffered through his ministrations. For the next two months I went to him once a week and sometimes twice weekly. After each visit I would be in terrible agony. My mother had to drive me to each appointment; there was no way I could get behind the steering wheel. I couldn’t even stand up straight. After eight weeks the otologist admitted that “we’re probably dealing with something more central, in the brain.” Terrified and in tears, I called Shuky Berman at Refuah Resources, who recommended that I see a

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different otologist at NYU. I tried to get an appointment, but nothing was available for three whole weeks. I would have to wait. Then one morning I woke up feeling sicker than I had ever felt in my life. Up till then I had somehow been able to hold down a full-time job as an educational therapist, shlepping myself to and from work despite the dizziness and intense pressure in my head, although some days were better than others. On that particular morning, however, I was completely bedridden. I called the doctor at NYU and begged for an emergency appointment. The receptionist told me I could come in at any time between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. G-d only knows how I got to his office without incident; I knew I shouldn’t be driving, but neither my parents nor my siblings were home and I was desperate. Even though I had volunteered for Bikur Cholim before my condition was so bad, it never even occurred to me to call for help. In truth, I tried to keep my sense of independence as much as possible. I also hated when people offered unsolicited advice. “Why don’t you try something holistic?” some would say, as if it had never occurred to me before. One time a friend called me to invite me over. When I politely declined she responded, “You can walk, can’t you? There’s nothing wrong with your feet.” I really couldn’t attend simchos, but many people found it hard to understand and felt slighted by my absence. By then I was starting to isolate myself. It was easier to stay home than have to explain myself constantly. After performing some tests, the new otologist concurred with


H

the previous one: “It’s not your ear; it’s something to do with your brain.” I immediately burst into tears. The doctor went on to say that I needed a CAT scan of the temporal bone. That’s when I really began to panic. I called back the original otologist—there was no way I was going back to that doctor at NYU!—and through my sobs told him what the second one had said. He gave me a prescription for a CAT scan to be done at a local radiology center. I Googled the name of the condition that was scribbled on the prescription to be ruled out—and what I discovered horrified me when I recognized the symptoms as my own. Sure enough, the test results came back positive. I was suffering from superior canal dehiscence syndrome. At long last I had a name for my condition. The doctor explained that the human ear has three inner canals that are responsible for hearing and balance. In people with superior canal dehiscence syndrome, the superior canal is either missing a bony covering (“dehiscence” means opening) or it’s too thin. In the head of a sufferer, sound enters through the inner ear and goes straight to the brain. That explained why what other people heard at normal sound levels sounded like a bomb going off in my head. Research indicates that sufferers of this rare defect are born with this abnormality, at least to a certain degree. While the inner ear canal develops its full thickness as a person ages, in approximately one percent of the population it is abnormally thin. Disruption of this covering (as may occur with trauma or, over time, due to the pressure of the overlying temporal lobe of the brain) leads to the onset or worsening of symptoms. Getting knocked on the head with the water bottle several months earlier must have caused the covering to break off. But as the doctor explained, a person can suffer even without it breaking off. Indeed, I had been experiencing symptoms my entire life. While I was immensely relieved to finally have a name for my condition, I was also terrified. Just to make sure, I went back to the otologist at NYU, who said that he still wasn’t 100% sure this was the cause of all my symptoms. He wanted to run a few more

e explained all the risks involved in opening my skull to permanently relieve me of my symptoms. tests in order to prove it conclusively. I was sent down to the audiology department and was given the first appointment available—in three months! I tried dozens of other places in the Metropolitan area, but no one was able to give me an appointment sooner. I called Shuky Berman’s office. “I can’t wait so long!” I cried. Refuah Resources advised me to call NYU back, and luckily they found a slot two weeks later. The test provided more information, but not enough as far as the otologist was concerned. He felt that I should start vestibular therapy at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation at NYU. Vestibular therapy helps people with balancing issues, utilizing various exercises to compensate for inner ear deficits. The otologist felt that it was worth a shot, and Rusk was the very best. The trip to Rusk from home required several train rides, a connection via bus and a long walk. By the time I got there I couldn’t hold my head up straight and one of my eyes was closed. “If you can’t cooperate,” the technicians told me, “you’ll have to come back.” Well, I wasn’t about to do that, so I pushed myself as hard as I could and somehow made it through the evaluation. The day before I was supposed to begin therapy I got a phone call informing me that I wasn’t a candidate. At that point, the otologist at NYU recommended that I travel to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to see his colleague, Dr. John Carey, the foremost expert on superior canal dehiscence syndrome. By then I had been suffering from the worst of my symptoms for two years. I felt as if I was deteriorating daily. I had no social life, and even strangers could see that something was wrong

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

with me. I couldn’t do very much, and on many days I was bedridden. No one understood what I was going through. “Why don’t you just put on your makeup and go out?” a friend suggested. Another asked, “When do you think you’ll finally be ready to approach life?” They really couldn’t imagine what I was experiencing. While I tried my best to hold down my job as an educational therapist, which required traveling from case to case, I slowly but surely had to cut down on my caseload. Most days, I would somehow manage to get to work and back, only to jump into bed as soon as I got home. I deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t cross the street alone; by the time I turned my head to check for oncoming traffic, I’d need to look the other way again but couldn’t manage to do so quickly enough. I was truly suffering, but the receptionist at Johns Hopkins couldn’t give me an appointment for another four months. There was no way I could hold out for so long. I begged the otologist at NYU to get involved and he was able to get me an appointment sooner. Now I would only have to wait three months instead of five to see Dr. Carey. I arrived at Johns Hopkins for a full day of testing. The next day, I met with Dr. Carey, who confirmed what I already knew. What I didn’t know, however, was how this disorder was treated: with a craniotomy! Much to my horror, he explained all the risks involved in opening my skull to permanently relieve me of my symptoms. Dr. Carey also wanted me to go on a “migraine diet”: I would have to avoid coffee, peanut butter, marinated foods, preservatives, aspartame, cheese and yogurt, and restrict my intake of eggs. The surgery couldn’t be performed if I was suffering from chronic daily migraines, and the diet would hopefully minimize them. Some sufferers find that the diet alone can help them avoid surgery altogether. I was also put on nortriptyline, an antidepressant that is also used to treat migraines. Unfortunately, it turned out that I had a full-blown case; I would have to have the surgery. There was no way around it. I was dreading the procedure that loomed in the near future. The operation was scheduled for two months later. In November 2011, my mother and I drove down to Baltimore on a Sunday night. I had to be ready for Monday morning, when I was expected to show up at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. Dr. Carey came upstairs in to pre-op and reiterated all of the risks, which included fun things like death, loss of hearing, facial palsy, blood clotting, hemorrhaging and brain clots. I was in tears but tried to remain brave. And they didn’t even let my mother into the pre-op

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Who’s in Your Colon?

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

BACTERIA AND CANCER CONNECTION A new study, reported in the microbiology journal mBio, may point to a new approach for preventing colon cancer. People with colon cancer have been shown to have different bacteria in their gut from people without cancer. The question has been whether the cancer causes the change in bacteria, or the change in bacteria is a factor in the development of the cancer. The research team took gut bacteria from mice with colon cancer and transplanted them into regular mice. They found that those mice developed twice as many colon cancers as a control group. When given an antibiotic along with the bacteria, mice developed smaller cancers. The team believes that it has proved that bacteria are a factor in colon cancer, and that suggests that in people with pro-cancer gut microbes, changes to their gut population could save them from developing cancer.

DIFFERENT DNA

Genes are stranger than we thought Two startling discoveries by Professor Scott Williams, of the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, may change how we think about genetics—and how we deal with DNA. One is that one person can have more than one genotype in his body, due to mutations. Williams found that genetic mutations can cause whole sections of a person’s body to have different DNA sequences from the rest of his body. Previously this had only been observed in cases in which a person absorbed DNA from a second person, such as a mother from a child or one fraternal twin from another. What this means for genetic identification is still unknown. A second is that mutations aren’t as random as previously thought. Williams found that multiple people had identical mutations, and had those mutations only in specific organs. If mutations would be truly random, they would not be expected to occur identically, and they would be expected to appear anywhere. It appears that there is an underlying mechanism—still undiscovered—by which the body permits certain mutations to occur. This discovery, at the very least, may change how researchers study the mutations that cause cancer.


Y

ears ago, patients with these symptoms were consigned to the psych ward.

area! I could have passed out from fear. The operation began at 7:30 a.m. and took almost five hours. During the procedure, the doctor lifted away my brain to get to the inner ear and plug the canal so it would no longer be functioning; then he closed my head back up. I didn’t regain consciousness until the next morning—at which point my mother made a horrible discovery. The surgery had been performed on the right side of my head; my mother observed that in order for me to close my right eye I had to hold it shut. While we had been warned that there was a miniscule possibility that I could get facial palsy from the procedure, a CAT scan confirmed that I was indeed one of the unlucky few. My mouth was crooked, my speech was incoherent and it was hard for me to eat. I was still in major pain when I was discharged from the hospital three days later, and had no ability to care for myself, but I’d been forewarned that I’d feel worse before I felt better. The next Monday I returned to Baltimore to have the staples in my head removed. Recuperation was a very slow process. My face didn’t really recover fully for a whole year, but every week I saw improvement. The next year was spent in vestibular therapy, training my body to regain the balance that was entirely lost after the surgery. I had to learn how to bend and pick up objects and how to walk through crowds without banging into people and just learning what most of us take for granted. I also went for speech therapy. Today, I’m totally a completely new person. Not a day goes by when I don’t stop to think of what I have to be grateful for. No one would ever know that I had suffered from this dreadful condition. I can drive, swim, bike and remain in shape. Every day I’m grateful for this new lease on life. I beam from ear to ear when I accomplish a list of errands. Now I even go to the mall. I run. I walk for miles! Most doctors aren’t familiar with this syndrome. It wasn’t discovered until 14 years ago, when Dr. Carey was training at Johns Hopkins as a fellow. Years ago, patients who complained that their bodily functions were audible at high decibel levels were consigned to the psych ward. I’m part of an online support group, and as a community we’re happy that word is finally getting out about the syndrome. A lot of people who are diagnosed with vertigo might really be suffering from superior canal dehiscence syndrome, because you don’t have to have all of the symptoms. A sufferer can experience only the exaggerated auditory aspects, or only the dizziness. Unfortunately, I had the whole nine yards. Not everyone needs surgery, depending on the severity, but as my experience has shown, obtaining the right diagnosis is often an ongoing process, since many doctors aren’t aware of this somewhat rare condition. That’s why I’ve reached out to Ami with the intention of spreading my story. I hope it will lead others who are struggling with balance in the right direction. n Daniella can be contacted through Ami. 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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10 PARENTING

THINGS NEVER TO SAY TO YOUR KIDS

BY CHAYA SILBER 17 KISLEV 5774

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PARENTING

We’ve all experienced “one of those days,” when everything the kids say or do gets on our nerves, and when we feel like we’ll plotz if they test our limits one more time. And if we do explode like a geyser, we usually wallow in guilt for days afterward. Ah, Jewish mothers and guilt. Now relax. Take a deep breath. It’s okay. Blew your top? Had an “oops” moment? Don’t obsess over it. You’re normal. You’re human. And you’ll try better next time. The best opportunity to strengthen our relationships with the most precious people in our lives is when things are calm, supper has been served and homework’s done. Our interactions with our children are like a bank account: In order to sustain good credit, you’ve got to make more deposits than withdrawals. And make sure to be on speaking terms with the Bank Manager, Who is always ready to listen to our prayers. Here are ten statements that your child should never hear, no matter how stressed out you are: 36

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LEAVE ME ALONE!

Kids can be needy, whiny and clingy, especially during the “witching” hour before bedtime. No matter how busy you are, though, your child should never feel like an afterthought. If you need some quiet time, just say, “Mommy needs a few minutes of peace, and then I can read you a story.”

2

YOU DIDN’T TRY HARD ENOUGH.

Did you ever try learning Chinese or walking on a tightrope, or balancing a basket of bananas on your head? It’s hard enough to persevere without being told “You didn’t try hard enough.” Instead, give lots of positive reinforcement, and cut your kid some slack.

STOP STUFFING YOUR FACE!

3

Is your kid always hungry? Does he sneak snacks all afternoon? Don’t stand guard like a hawk and pounce on every indiscretion, be proactive: Remove all high-fat, high-sugar foods from your home, and exhibit selfcontrol with the choices you make. If your kids see you reaching for the potato chips, how can you expect them to crave healthful foods?

4

DON’T WORRY. IT’LL BE OKAY.

And what if it won’t? If your child has a legitimate fear or phobia, just glossing over it won’t accomplish anything. Listen to your child’s concerns—really listen—and offer sympathy and assistance. Just don’t promise a bed of roses, or you might lose your child’s trust.

I DON’T LIKE IT WHEN YOU’RE FRIENDS WITH ______.

5

This is the most foolproof way to ensure that the friendship will flourish. Instead of a frontal attack, try talking to your daughter and hearing what it is that attracts her to this friendship. Then give concrete examples of why staying tight with her buddy might not be in her best interests. For very young children, you can try to manipulate the situation by arranging for other play dates, or changing their environment. Once your children hit first grade, though, most of their friendship choices are out of your hands. You may not like it, but that’s life. Of course, you can always daven.

17 KISLEV 5774


WHY CAN’T YOU BE MORE LIKE YOUR SISTER?

6

Another version of this stupid statement would be, “If you’d try harder, you could do as well as your sister.” This is a foolproof way to destroy your child’s sense of self, and make her despise her sibling.

7

YOU’RE A GENIUS! WOW!

Exuberant, overly flowery, and unwarranted praise for trivial milestones (like polishing shoes or completing haphazard homework) will make your kid feel like a fool—or it will make him or her take you for one. Instead, be specific and honest in your praise. “I loved the way you called Bubby and gave her a compliment,” or “You used beautiful penmanship when writing that letter.”

8

YOU NEVER...

Avoid “always” or “never” statements. As Jenn Berman, PhD, author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids, explains, “At the heart of ‘you always’ or ‘you never’ statements are labels that can stick for life.”

9

WAIT TILL TOTTY GETS HOME!

Aside from making Totty seem like an ogre, it diminishes your own power, sort of like your kid’s teacher using the principal to gain control over her classroom. It seldom works, and you come out looking like a wimp.

10

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?

Your struggles with your child should never become personal. It’s not about your kid wanting to hurt you. Deep down, they’re eager—desperate even— for your love and approval. Give it to them unconditionally, and watch them blossom.


Mindy Q & A with

newly elected Outremont borough councillor


Pollak By Machla Abramovitz

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When 24-year-old Mindy Pollak was elected on November 3rd to borough council, many chasidim in the Montreal borough of Outremont heaved a collective sigh of relief. The Vizhnitzer aesthetician was the first chasidic woman ever to hold such a post. For many, desperate times called for desperate measures. Mindy’s opponent was Pierre Lacerte, a Francophone journalist whose blog was filled with anti-chasidic incitement. Her decisive victory had been far from assured. Running as an independent, Lacerte, together with Outremont borough councillor Celine Forget, who was re-elected by only 11 votes, ran a well-oiled campaign. Both had been targeting the chasidic community since 2001, stirring up the French-speaking media and pressuring City Hall to enact what many chasidim maintain are seven discriminatory laws aimed at curtailing their community’s growth, which had reached a whopping 25% of the population. These included changing zoning laws to prevent the establishment of new shuls and schools, as well rescinding the legal status of existing ones. The end result was an environment fraught with tension and mistrust. Mindy, a graduate of the Belzer Bnos Jerusalem Girls School, who volunteers for Chai Lifeline and posts her own cooking blog called EssEat, seemed an unlikely candidate to take on the challenge. Her political and activist consciousness were awakened two years ago when she joined forces with neighbor Leila Marshy, who is of Egyptian and


Everyone

LOVES

Palestinian descent, to counter the efforts of those who had successfully prevented the expansion of the Bobover shul on Hutchison Street by ten feet into the courtyard. (Leila, although not Jewish, couldn’t stomach the intolerance it represented.) This led to the establishment of Friends of Hutchison, a grassroots organization whose purpose was to bring about a rapprochement between chasidim and their Francophone neighbors. Speaking a fluent French, Mindy reached out to the city’s non-chasidic residents by publicly addressing commonly-held concerns and misconceptions about the chasidic community. Articulate, poised and self-assured, she caught the attention of the Project Montreal party, which approached her to run for borough council under its banner. Her potential entry into the race was not initially embraced by many in the chasidic community. Citing tznius concerns as well as her youth and inexperience, many askanim and community leaders were hesitant to back her. It wasn’t until a week before the election that her candidacy was tacitly endorsed as a means of preventing the election of an avowed anti-chasidic agitator to the post, and the campaign began in earnest. In this exclusive interview, Mindy candidly discusses her motivations for running, the challenges she encountered during her campaign and her hopes for improving the lives of her community and constituency.

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Q&A WITH MINDY POLLAK

Were you surprised that you won?

Defeat was never an option; I couldn’t entertain the thought. Losing to Lacerte would have been disastrous. Throughout the campaign I could see the yad Hashem. I had never dreamed of doing such a thing before. But the fact that I knew the issues and had connected with the right people, combined with the positive media response I was getting, all indicated to me that I was on the right path. Submitting my candidacy was not a decision I took lightly. I spoke to many people and made sure my family was on board. I couldn’t have done it without them. What convinced me was realizing what a great opportunity it would be for the community to have an actual voice on the council. I felt that if I had a chance to make a positive difference, how could I not do it?

How did the frum community react to your win?

Even while the votes were being tallied I was getting texts from my friends saying they were davening for me. The next morning the phone didn’t stop ringing. Long-lost relatives and people I hadn’t heard from in years called to congratulate me. People sent us chocolates for Shabbos. Everyone is so excited.

Why did you feel you were the best candidate for the community? How did you answer critics from the community who said you were too inexperienced?

This election was a very specific situation. The chasidic community needed someone who could speak French fluently and who would appeal to the greater population as someone they could trust. As for inexperience, I live in the area and have been actively involved in reaching out to non-Jews for two years. I also sat on a special committee [Comité consultatif sur les relations intercommunautaires] which was set up to address concerns

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about chasidim. That’s where I learned the ins and outs of how the council works. We explored each problem in depth and it gave me a good grasp of the issues. Without that kind of education, I doubt I would have agreed to run. What I also learned was that people who seem to be closeminded about chasidim can have their minds opened up just by explaining things to them. That happened time and time again on the committee as well as elsewhere. For example, I recently took Etienne Coutu, who was running for Outremont borough mayor under Project Montreal, to the hachnasas sefer Torah at Vizhnitz a few weeks ago. He was amazed to find the festivities so well-behaved. “You hear so much about the noise. Is this what all the fuss is about?” he asked me.

As a Vizhnitzer chasidic woman, did you discuss your candidacy with your Rebbe?

Of course. I spoke to the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Harav Mendel Hager, when he was here three weeks ago. He told me that he hoped I would be able to help Yidden.

At the open house sessions of Friends of Hutchison you spoke before hundreds of people. During the campaign, you often spoke on the radio. Were you always comfortable speaking in public, or was it a new experience? Before my association with Friends of Hutchison I never had an opportunity to speak publicly, but my mother will tell you I’ve always expressed myself well! As for radio appearances, after my first interview the questions were always the same. Project Montreal was also very helpful in connecting me with people in charge of communications. I received a lot of quiet support, and of course leaned on Leila and my mom. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous. But when you have a message you feel passionately about, you’re motivated to get it across.


What was that message, and how was it received?

The message is that we have to communicate in order to resolve issues. The highest point in the campaign was when non-chasidim told me they were happy I was running. Most people were encouraging and interested in what I had to say. Nobody had ever offered them a chance to have a dialogue with the chasidic community, often about little, irritating things that stand in the way of good relations, like neighbors not putting out their trash on time. If we don’t talk, these things fester and there’s no way of resolving them. It doesn’t have to be us versus them. If we can begin to bridge the gap and talk to each other it’s a very good thing, and people responded to that. I also encountered a lot of non-chasidim who wanted to help my campaign. Some told me they’d always had a good relationship with their chasidic neighbors. Then there were those who stand up against discrimination in general and are very sensitive to injustice. One woman told me that when Lacerte knocked on her door stumping for votes, she threw him out after vocally expressing her disgust with what he stood for. Some people just liked the idea of reconciling our two communities. If we focus on common goals—children’s safety, schools, public transportation and the high cost of housing— we have more in common than we think.

Did you encounter any media bias?

There were a lot of misconceptions about our community I had to clear up. But 98 percent of the journalists I met were nice, open and curious people who were eager to learn about us. I was really pleasantly surprised, because the perception played out in the French media was that we don’t get along at all. In general, I feel the media responded very well to the

message that the chasidic community wants to work together with its neighbors to resolve issues.

Was is ever an issue that you didn’t shake hands with men?

Not really. I did get a little flak for it like it’s the 21st century now and it’s discriminatory not to shake a man’s hand. But talking to people doesn’t require shaking their hands.

Was it difficult at first for you and Leila to trust each other, you being Jewish and she being of Palestinian descent? Is it an issue?

At first I was cautious, because you can’t be sure of anyone’s motives. But I could tell when she spoke about the injustice she was seeing and the people who were campaigning against us that she was sincere. She stood up for the Jewish community when no one else was willing to do so. And her actions and continued efforts prove her trustworthiness. We once had a conversation about the Middle East, but we immediately saw that we disagreed so we made a decision not to discuss it again. We have a common cause that brought us together and that’s what we focus on. Leila has become a family friend, and it is entirely to her credit that I find myself where I am today.

There were many in the chasidic community who strongly opposed your candidacy. How did you cope with that rejection? Have you always had a thick skin? I essentially ran a positive campaign and tried to keep

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Q&A WITH MINDY POLLAK

calm and focused. I guess I do have a thick skin. I might have been born that way, but it definitely got thicker during my campaign. I’d like to think it isn’t too thick, because that might prevent me from getting in touch with the issues that matter to people. I generally cope with negative reactions by evaluating what people are saying and deciding for myself whether their objections are valid or not.

How do you respond to those in the frum community who maintain that Jews shouldn’t feel too comfortable or make waves?

I don’t think anyone in Outremont feels too comfortable. We’re faced with bylaws that attack our very way of life. We are watched at every moment. My political run was not an expression of feeling too comfortable, but the opposite. If you’re making waves for a positive reason, I don’t think that’s a bad idea. I’m trying to change things for my family and friends and for the Outremont community in general. Things are getting worse in Quebec. The Parti Québécois government is now trying to pass a Charter of Quebec Values that seeks to eliminate any outward expression of religiosity from the civil service. That would include not only those working in the public sector but those receiving help from it as well. There are also other changes in the works that could affect our shechitah, kosher food in schools and other issues touching upon religious expression, all in the name of secularist neutrality. We can’t just let them take those rights away from us.

Do you believe you represent the voice of younger chasidim? Definitely. A lot of my friends feel exactly the same way, that rather than just accept the status quo we should try to bring about change.

As borough councillor, what do you think you can realistically accomplish

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with the same mayor [Marie CinqMars], Forget still in power, and Lacerte still influencing matters from the wings?

Now that I’m an elected official with the support and expertise of Project Montreal behind me, I’m hoping I’ll be able to influence the makeup of the council and we’ll be able to work together. The other members now have an opportunity to bring about positive change in the relations between our two communities. We’ll see if they’ll want to do that. I intend to continue what I’ve been doing but on a grander scale, just getting people to talk to each other and engage in dialogue. I’m not abandoning Friends of Hutchison. We have projects, long-term plans.

How do you think this new position will impact your personal life? Do you see yourself as an ambassador for Yiddishkeit?

I’m a public figure now. I’m much more aware of how people perceive us and what needs to be done to fix that. I’ve broadened my perspective. It’s been such an education talking to people. At first you’re apprehensive that they’re not going to like us, but there are so many who genuinely want to work with us. We have to tap into that. If we have the public on our side, then we have political power. Am I an ambassador for Yiddishkeit? Perhaps, by default. It’s not a role I consciously tried to assume. Simply by running and getting elected, I’ve already lowered the anti-Semitic rhetoric. I’ve also heard from many non-affiliated Jews who are thrilled by my victory.

What can the chasidic community learn from this?

That we can do things differently. That our community deserves the opportunity to bring about positive change, and that achdus is very important. n


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Basya

GIRL HAS OUR “ ON A DIET” ACTED Tell us how at P M I S E I R E S whisk@amimagazine.org ? E F I L R Letters will be YOU published.

wrong, my dentist is a wonderful person. He moves quickly, so I never have to sit in that chair for too long. He also has a really nice staff, whom he must have handpicked for their social skills; I always end up having interesting conversations and learning new things at the dentist's office. My problem with dental visits is that my mouth is very sensitive; I always leave with sores and cuts, and the sensation of scrapping nails across a chalkboard. Everything seemed to be going along smoothly. I haven’t had a cavity in a long time. I must be the exception to the rule that eating sugary stuff gives you cavities. Because now that I have been on this diet and have greatly reduced my sugar intake, I was surprised to learn that I in fact have a cavity! “How ish dat poshible?” I asked, my mouth filed with cotton balls and fluoride paste. “Do you floss daily?” the hygienist asked, quizzically. I nodded my head, “Erewy day!” I answered. “Well, then I don’t know what to tell you. Have you been drinking a lot of juice?” I thought for a moment. I haven’t been drinking a lot of juice, but I have been enjoying fruit and vegetable juices on occasion. The dentist read my facial expression, “Fruit and vegetable juice has sugar too. I’m not telling you to stop drinking them, but remember to brush your teeth after,” he said. I nodded. I scheduled an appointment for a filling and left the office feeling defeated. My teeth were fine before my diet; now I have a cavity due to more healthful drinking. I often mull over the list of foods I am allowed to eat, and everyone seems to be limiting it further.

EVEN LESS TO EAT Unlike last week, this week was quite uneventful. The highlight of my week would be my visit to the dentist's office. I hope I am not offending any dentists or dentists’ wives out there, but I do not enjoy visiting the dentist. Don’t get me

Basya’s Menu

SUNDAY: Breakfast: coffee, apple. Snack: red pepper. Lunch: salad. Snack: carrot juice. Dinner: vegetable lasagna, salad. Dessert: dried fruit. MONDAY: Breakfast: coffee, banana. Snack: whole wheat toast with jam. Lunch: tuna wrap. Snack: cucumber sticks. Dinner: grilled tofu, brown rice, grilled zucchini. Dessert: fruit salad. TUESDAY: Breakfast: coffee, oatmeal. Snack: banana. Lunch: salad. Snack: egg whites. Dinner: grilled salmon, salad, cauliflower. Dessert: almonds. WEDNESDAY: Breakfast: coffee, apple. Snack: granola bar. Lunch: whole wheat bagel with tuna. Snack: sliced cucumber, carrot, and celery. Dinner: baked chicken, salad, brown rice, grilled broccoli. Dessert: grapes. THURSDAY: Breakfast: coffee, apple. Snack: oatmeal. Lunch: turkey sandwich. Snack: pineapple. Dinner: minestrone soup, grilled bell peppers, scrambled eggs. FRIDAY: Breakfast: coffee, apple, oatmeal. Lunch: whole wheat bagel with tuna. Snack: vegetable juice. Dinner: whole wheat challah, guacamole, hummus, cabbage salad, gefilte fish, chicken soup, London broil, squash, fruit salad. SHABBOS: coffee, whole wheat challah, gefilte fish, cabbage salad, chicken, cholent, squash, London broil, fruit salad. Snack: rice cakes with peanut butter. Shalosh Seudos: challah with egg salad. Motzaei Shabbos: whole-wheat pizza with vegetables (1 slice).

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2

Gir on a

T he

D

Chal le

Basya

STARTING WEIGHT

200

CURRENT WEIGHT

166.5

GOAL WEIGHT

150

POUNDS LOST THIS WEEK

0

TOTAL POUNDS LOST SO FAR

33.5

When I went to get a facial, my facialist told me I shouldn’t eat cheese, spicy food, or nuts because, according to her, my skin breaks out when I eat these specific foods. My nutritionist tells me to stay away from processed white sugar and too many carbs, along with too many fats. My doctor tells me not to eat too much soy or tofu because it can alter hormones or something. And now my dentist tells me I shouldn’t drink too much juice, including vegetable juice. So the list gets shorter and shorter. I am really grateful to Whisk for providing new and interesting healthful recipes. Variety is important when dieting. Thanks, Whisk! Best, Basya


2

rls D

iet

THE CONTEST

Basya and Devoiry each want to lose 50 pounds. The first one to reach her goal wins a trip to Florida or $500. Follow them weekly as they share their diet journeys with us.

WEEK THIRTY-SEVEN

enge

Devoiry

STARTING WEIGHT

203

CURRENT WEIGHT

152.5

GOAL WEIGHT

153

POUNDS LOST THIS WEEK

1

TOTAL POUNDS LOST SO FAR

50.5

I DID IT! Pinch me! I am dreaming! I don’t believe this! I reached my first goal! Thank you, Hashem! Of course, thank you, dear readers of Whisk, Shloimy, Ma, and members of my fellowship who have been there to support me through this herculean undertaking! It is mind boggling how many people I have to thank for getting me started. The saying “Harbei shluchim la'makom” rings loud in my brain. Hashem allowed me to meet Victoria, and in turn I figured out the program I would use; He implemented the beginning of the new me. I am telling you, my story could make a believer out of an atheist! I will always be an addict and as such, I will hopefully never leave this program. One day at a time, I will continue to work

Devoiry

on the emotional and spiritual aspects of my recovery. Can I promise you that I will never cheat again? I am not a navi; I have no idea. I can tell you that I certainly hope I will not. This week my father had a serious surgery. I put my boys on the bus to school, packed breakfast and lunch, went to the hospital to sit with my mother, and say Tehillim. I know for certainty that Tehillim was the only thing I could do to help the situation. While we were sitting in the hospital waiting room, my mom and aunt got up many times to visit the bikur cholim room. The organizations that stock those rooms are incredible. Chesed 24/7 and Satmar Bikur Cholim, I salute you and your many nashim tzidkaniyos (righteous women). When I first walked into the room with my mom, craving after craving, like waves in an angry ocean, began to wash over me. I wanted those cakes. I wanted those rugelach. I wanted three of each! I wanted to eat, and stuff my throat until it would hurt physically. I wouldn’t! Each time I entered, I got my black coffee, my tea, or my seltzer, and then I walked out. Around me people were eating. I stayed strong. I walked in there many times that day; after all, it was something to do when I just needed a break from sitting in one place. It was like walking home, into my mother’s kitchen. It didn’t matter if I just finished eating, I automatically would go straight to her pantry to find my comfort food. Later a friend asked me which of the program’s tools I used to stay strong. Did I call a friend? Daven? Read program literature? Meditate? The answer was no! I used a simple tool that has become second nature to me, baruch Hashem. I DON’T EAT, NO MATTER WHAT! It simply was not an option. Baruch Hashem, my father’s surgery was a success.

I brought along my “abstinent food” that day for breakfast and lunch, not dreaming that I would still be in the hospital come supper time. But I just could not leave. I called Shloimy in a panic. He told me to stay there, and not worry about the kids. He would be home as soon as possible to man the fort. I should do what a good daughter needs to do; I only have one father. I thank Hashem for wonderful friends. My boys went to go play at a neighbor until my niece could pick them up and take them home. A fellow Grey Sheeter was prepared to drive in from Williamsburg to Manhattan to bring me supper. The saying, “We keep life in one hand, our food in the other, and we don’t clap,” rings very true for me today. I know I will always be an addict. The night before the surgery, I attended the wedding of the child of one of my classmates. I went, and received my requisite compliments. I felt good about myself. I walked over with my friends to the Viennese table. In lieu of finishing off most of the table myself, I decided to bring home a nice confection for each of my boys. I looked around. I spied my favorite chocolates. I could feel myself drooling. I took a plate, and without thinking emptied the entire bowl of the chocolates to bring them home for Shloimy. I am a food addict. If I can’t eat, someone else should. Only after I brought it home, did I realize what I had done. I will never be cured, but for today I will be grateful. I have this wonderful program that helps me live life to its fullest. The other day Shloimy said to me, “It is so nice to have my Devoiry back!” He pulled out the computer and proceeded to show me pictures of us when we first got married. So nice indeed!

DEVOIRY REACHES HER GOAL!

17 KISLEV 5774

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SHIDDUCHIM

Have a shidduch question?

Write to us at matchmaker@amimagazine.org

dearmatchmaker: I’m not a shadchan, but I’ve recently been inspired to try to do my part and redt shidduchim. I suggested a fantastic girl for a boy I know. I thought it was a great idea, but the boy’s mother seems to have a stack of resumes and just added the one I emailed her to the growing pile. What can I do to make this girl stand out from the crowd? When mothers of boys say that they have a whole collection of resumes, they really do! It’s important to remember that the resume is only one aspect of redting a shidduch successfully. I always spend time discussing a shidduch at length with a mother before sending her the resume. Shadchanim often send resumes without spending time to personally advocate for the shidduch. Redting a shidduch requires a lot of passion and emotion, and dialogue really helps. The girl has to be described in much more detail than a resume can provide. This is where your input comes in and is so important in making a good impression. In your situation, the key is to really get to know the girl and figure out what will make her uniquely appealing to the other side. Speak to her parents and get a feel for what makes her tick. Even better, speak to her yourself. Then present the shidduch to the boy’s side in a way that will excite them. Whatever is enticing—to that particular mother—is what will stand out. For example, if she’s specifically looking for an intelligent girl, she’ll notice if she was at the top of her class or sounds particularly bright. In addition, it’s important to make sure that the resume you send to a parent looks good. I always advise parents not to fill it with generic platitudes that don’t really say much. And it has to look professional;

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the information should be in the correct chronological order. A sloppy resume makes a negative first impression, and those are the ones that aren’t glanced at again. I’ve often told parents, “Don’t use this resume. I’m sending you a sample; just follow the template.” I know someone with a son in shidduchim who got a phone call about a girl. The person redting the shidduch went into a lot of detail about all of her sterling qualities. Everything sounded great until she heard that the shadchan intended to redt this girl for her younger son—who wasn’t yet in shidduchim. Months later, at a wedding, the boy’s mother happened to be seated at the same table as the girl’s mother. The shadchan’s words had left such an impression on her that she easily made the connection. The mothers decided between themselves that their children should meet—and they got engaged! While the mothers were the ones who put the wheels of the shidduch into motion, it was truly to the credit of the shadchan, whose words made such an impression on the boy’s mother that she remembered the girl’s name months later!

Malka Sussman is a Toronto-based shadchan with 18 years of experience making shidduchim.


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. 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 Koenig 718.258.8475 / 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. Devorah Meyer 718.213.0761 / M, T, W 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 (Brooklyn) mottineuhaus@yahoo.com Contact for appointments as well as for special shadchanus arrangements Mrs. Gabriella Nirenberg 917.344.9839 / gabrielladavidson5@gmail.com Mrs. Adina Reich adinareich@gmail.com Résumé 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 Simchas Olam rivkalittman@yahoo.com Mrs. Blimmie Stamm 732.363.1554 Mrs. Malka Sussman 416.787.5147

Israel

Mrs. Yehudis Abir 02.586.3310 / evening hours / judyabir@gmail.com Mrs. Shulamit Goldberger 02.561.1019 V’hareinu B’vinunei (Yiddish-speaking organization) Shidduch for zivug sheini 011.972.54.849.9440

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

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

Shoshana Goldman 718.983.9187 Temima Gross 410.358.7017 / temiragross@gmail.com

Public Announcements 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

Resource for previously married men and women. Also, singles willing to marry previously married men and women ages 20-40, please 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. Shidduch meetings in Kensington. For details, call Mrs. Edie Jaffe at 718.853.8691. Looking for single girls/women and single men of all ages, with controlled medical issues (i.e., on meds). Many special compatible men available! Confidential! Please call Mrs. R. Schwartz: 718.419.7855. Shidduchim Workshops in Brooklyn, Lakewood, or your

On-the-ball single girls are needed to volunteer time navigating/matching resumes. Please call 347.482.8429. Looking for computer-savvy girls/women for assessment and categorization of shidduch resumes. Email: ifoundashidduch@gmail.com New! Exciting service now available! Well-known shadchan Mr. Motti Neuhaus will be meeting groups of singles throughout the US. For details, contact mottineuhaus@yahoo.com. Shadchan Gabbai, an organization where people send in lists of their shul members who have children of marriageable age: 718-569-6634

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). 17 KISLEV 5774

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CHAPTER SEVENTY-ONE LAST WEEK: SHULI TURNS DOWN SHRAGA’S PROPOSAL.

Moving On

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n retrospect it’s hard to believe, but I actually screamed when Shuli walked out. And it wasn’t just a yelp; it was more like a roar. I felt as if I’d been stabbed. I could see that Rabbi Apelbaum was also shocked. He was sitting there with a frozen look on his face, trying hard not to look surprised. “What just happened?” I cried. Now the tears were rolling down my face, and I started sobbing. “I offered her our life back together. What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t she want me?” Rabbi Apelbaum cleared his throat and I could tell he was uncomfortable. “Well,” he said, “if you had stuck to the script, my advice would have been useful. But since you said something

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completely different, there was no time to advise you properly. It all happened so fast.” He shook his head and rubbed his beard ruefully. “So where do I go from here? What’s going to happen with the kids?” “Listen, Reb Shraga, these situations are never simple. They’re never cut and dried. If you stay close to your children and offer them unconditional love and the discipline they need, I honestly believe they’ll be all right.” Rabbi Apelbaum’s face was serious as he continued. “I think the mistake you made was in thinking that you could control a person like your ex-wife, or anyone else who’s caught in the web of self-destructive behavior.” “What do you mean, control?” |

17 KISLEV 5774

“People with self-destructive personalities would rather lose everything they have than let themselves be controlled. Shraga,” he continued gently, “you just have to accept that there are some people in the world who are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face. The most important thing you can do now is to forgive yourself and move on. Build a life for yourself and a home that is healthy and nurturing, not only for your sake, but for your children’s.” I walked out of the rav’s office in a daze, then went home and sat on my couch for two days. When I emerged from my paralysis I called Raizy. We went out a few more times and then we made a l’chayim. We were married three


months later, and moved into a brand new apartment that had no history for either of us. Rav Apelbaum came and put up the mezuzos, and we had a beautiful chanukas habayis celebration. I can honestly say that I have never been happier. My days of take-out food are over. There’s a hot meal waiting for me when I come home from work every night, not just on days when my wife is in the mood. Raizy smiles and encourages me, and does everything she can to make my life easier, better and more fulfilled. Living with a person whose priority is my well-being instead of her own is an entirely new experience. And of course, she brings out the best in me. When someone treats you like that, you naturally want

“I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER.” to reciprocate. And then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Raizy was expecting and we had a baby. I feel like my life has started all over again. I’m so grateful to have been given a second chance to get it all right. The baby has red hair, just like my other kids, and everyone gets along well. Raizy is not only a wonderful mother but a wonderful, sensitive stepmother too. At long last, I have a real family. I’ve consigned my years with Shuli

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to a special corner of my mind. I refuse to vilify her or regret our life together. As I’ve said to Shuli, a person is always connected to his eishes ne’urim, the wife of his youth, as she was ordained for him from Heaven. But your second zivug is the one you merited to have— and that’s Raizy. The funny thing is that since she was never married before, I’m actually her true zivug. Isn’t that gevaldik?  

To be continued...


BY DINA NEUMAN

Chapter Thirty-Three

T

ova was getting pretty tired of being lectured. There had been an “I told you so” look on her lawyer’s face and she cut him off before he could say anything, mumbling goodbye and fleeing the cool, dark interior of the courthouse. She walked out of the giant double doors and stopped short, suddenly blinded by the blazing sunlight. How was it still day? Never mind that; how was it still the same day? Tova felt about ten years older since the court case had begun. So much was different, now. Shmuel almost barreled into her. “Sorry,” he said. There was a slightly toolong pause, just until it became awkward. Tova sighed. And so much was the same. “I’m sorry,” she finally said. “I stopped short.” “True. Bright out here,” he said. “Yeah,” Tova said. She tried to squint up at him, but the sunlight made her eyes tear. She used her hand to shade her eyes. “I just wanted to say, about what you said…” she stopped to gather her thoughts. What did she want to say about what he said? She wasn’t even sure how she felt about it. “What, about what I said in court?” “Of course about what you said in court!” Tova snapped, and then sighed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.” “You never do,” Shmuel said lightly. There was another pause, and Tova tried to think of what to fill it with. But so much had just happened, so much still had to sink in, and the moment passed, to join all of the other untapped moments. Shmuel turned to go. “I have

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the other car. I’ll go to yeshivah and salvage what’s left of my day.” And then he was gone. And Tova thought, I deserved that. She knew that she should follow up with the beis din: Make an appointment. But she didn’t really want to, because she would have to explain what it was all about, and she didn’t want to explain what it was all about. She didn’t want to think about it, to think about what the judge had said, at least not now. Now she just wanted to go somewhere that she was appreciated and needed—somewhere where she wouldn’t have to answer hard questions. And she knew just the place. Or so she thought. “I am so sorry!” Elana said as soon as Tova walked through the doors of The Coffee Pot. “What? For what?” Tova said. “For what? For being a total—well—I ruined it all, didn’t I?” Elana’s hands were clasped together. “In court? Me and my dumb anti-authority hang-up! I’m sorry, it’s almost completely involuntary! I’m like Pavlov’s dog. Someone glares down at me and says, ‘do this,’ and I automatically want to do the opposite. I’d bet that even if they put something good in front of me, like fresh doughnuts, and something bad, like rancid goose fat, and then they tell me “Eat the doughnuts and don’t touch the rancid goose fat,” I would probably go for the goose fat. The rancid was redundant, right? Goose fat is gross no matter what.” Elana stopped for a breath. “You were fine. Everything is fine,” Tova said absently. Elana’s mouth fell open. “You mean… 17 KISLEV 5774

you won?” She grabbed Tova around the waist and steered her into the kitchen. The second the door swung shut behind them she turned to Tova, excitement making her eyes blaze. “So?” “So nothing,” Tova said. “It’s a good thing you left, El. The judge’s speech at the end would have had you tearing strips of skin off your arms to keep from launching yourself at him.” “So that’s not good,” Elana said slowly. “No, it’s not good. He would have sent you to jail.” “Not that. The verdict. Who won?” “No one,” Tova said, because it was true. Elana looked like she was going to ask another question. Tova didn’t give her a chance. “Doesn’t that cream sauce need to be stirred before it burns?” “Oh, no!” Elana launched herself at the sauce pan and Tova smoothly exited. She made her way to her office. She had a lot of work piled up and she went through it all steadily, her mind cool and focused, before she realized that she should have gone to nurse Avraham Yitzchak first. And then she looked over her bookkeeping and realized that she had made a massive error and she would have to start all over. Only the thought of the customers sitting and enjoying their meals stopped her from howling in frustration. She got abruptly to her feet when her cell phone rang. It was Lakey. “I called the beis din,” she said without preamble when Tova picked up. “Next week Wednesday at eleven, they said.” “Next Wednesday at 11?” Tova repeated.


RECAP: THE JUDGE REBUKES LAKEY AND TOVA FOR TRYING TO TEAR APART THE LITTLE FAMILY THAT THEY HAVE LEFT. IT IS HIS OPINION THAT THE WILL WAS SIMPLY A LIST OF MR. REICH’S ASSETS, AND THAT HE TRUSTED THE GIRLS TO DIVIDE THEM UP FAIRLY; THE HARD-OF-HEARING LAWYER HAD WRITTEN “DAUGHTER” INSTEAD OF “DAUGHTERS.” THE JUDGE TELLS THE GIRLS TO GO TO A BEIS DIN AND HAVE THEM ARBITRATE.

“No good for you?” “Fine, just…you called the beis din?” “Well, yes. I’m capable,” Lakey said defensively. “I never said that you weren’t capable.” Tova backed down, but she was befuddled. Since when did Lakey start taking initiative for anything? It had never even occurred to her that Lakey would call.

“It…made me feel kind of exposed,” Tova said. She toyed with a ramen noodle. “Like you were saying all this private, personal stuff about me in front of everyone.” The smile disappeared. “Well, what did you think was going to happen? You dragged your private life into a courtroom.” “No, no, no, no.” Tova took a deep

“The verdict: Who won?” “No one,” Tova said, because it was true. “Then what? Did you call already?” “I didn’t, it happens to be. But you’ve never—whatever. Okay. Eleven is fine. Wednesday is fine.” She hung up the phone before Lakey could, and then felt the sting of shame that one feels when one’s action is petty. She got home at the same time as Shmuel that evening, and felt strangely shy. They both ate sesame beef and broccoli over ramen noodles in the silence that they had become accustomed to, until Tova broke it. “I wanted to say that what you said…all that stuff about Daddy… well, thank you for trying to get the judge on my side.” Shmuel nodded. He looked across the table at Tova, and gave a small, tentative smile. “It’s all true, you know. It all just hit me.”

breath. “No, that’s not what I—I mean—” She looked up into Shmuel’s face, but he wasn’t meeting her gaze as he chewed slowly and methodically, his face expressionless. “I was just—I guess I was just sharing,” she added. “I’m sorry.” The chasm remained. Tova didn’t know what else to say, and Shmuel didn’t seem interested in helping her. He scooped up Avraham Yitzchak and played with him while Tova cleaned up, and he went to bed while Tova made a quick phone call to check on an order of napkins. When she went to their room fifteen minutes later, his face was to the wall. Tova never really needed people. People needed Tova, not the other way around. So the feeling that she was having was new, and untimely, since she really didn’t have anyone to call. Elana? No, she’ll just 17 KISLEV 5774

continue to ask questions that Tova really didn’t want to answer. Should she try to engage Shmuel? He wasn’t even pretending to be asleep, but it was clear that he was uninterested even in eye contact. Who could she talk to? Who could she just talk and talk to, without being judged, just able to completely be herself? Other girls had parents, Tova suddenly thought with a wave of grief that was so sudden and shocking that it made her gasp out loud. She walked back into the kitchen, made herself a cup of tea, sat down, and looked through her list of contacts on her cell phone. Business suppliers. Employees. Relatives to call once a year. And someone else: Someone to whom she would not have to explain the details of the trial—because she had been there. The phone rang once, twice, three times, before Lakey picked up. “Hello, Tova?” “Yeah. Um, just confirming. I didn’t have a chance to write it down. So I’m just confirming. Wednesday at 11?” “Yes. Next Wednesday.” “Oh. Not this Wednesday?” “No.” “Oh. Good thing that I called you then.” “Yeah.” “Thanks.” “Okay, no problem.” “So I’ll see you then.” “See you then.” Tova hung up the phone gently, and then held the cup of tea against her lips for a long, long time without taking a single sip. n  |

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days Changing the (Shabbos) Clock Grasping for a “timely” plan when Shabbos comes early By Naama Klein

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n a recent Motzaei Shabbos we turned back the clock, effectively ending Daylight Savings Time. Although we we got an extra hour of sleep, candle lighting time is earlier and earlier, making me question whether the tradeoff is worth it. The first week after the time change, in particular, was the worst. The magnet on my fridge told me that Shabbos would come in an hour and seven minutes earlier than the previous week. I turned to my husband with a look of despair. “There’s no way…” I began. “Maybe we should just skip Shabbos this week,” he said, winking at me. He knew, just as I knew, that every Friday from then until spring would be a desperate race to the finish line, with me at the tail end. In the summer months, as candle lighting gets later and later, I can kid myself into thinking I’m a real balabuste, getting everything together with time to spare. As a glance at the clock tells me that I have more than an hour until it’s Shabbos, I can strut through the house like a proud peacock before heading upstairs for a leisurely shower. But in the winter months, I go from balabuste to bala-bust. My lack of time-management and homemaking skills come to the fore, glaring for all to see like cheap neon lighting in a seedy neighborhood.

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Despite my husband’s feeble attempt at humor, my mind has already shot into overdrive, feverishly calculating ways to save time and make it to Shabbos in one piece. The first thing I need to cut from my hectic Fridays is laundry, though that’s about as likely as baking challah in my refrigerator. My three yeshivah boys return home every Erev Shabbos carrying their respective weights in dirty laundry, all of which needs to be clean and pressed by Sunday morning. Needless to say, the washing machine is whirring about ten seconds after they say hello and ask if there’s anything to eat. While we’re on the subject, could somebody please tell me which rocket scientist decided that Israeli washing machines and dryers should be situated in the main family bathroom? How is any mother expected to coordinate washing and drying mountains of clothes with half a dozen children taking their Erev Shabbos showers in the same room? But back to my resolution. If I skip the Erev Shabbos laundry fiasco, I might be able to steal some extra time. And anyway, Shabbos ends early so I can catch up before the boys go back on Sunday morning. Beautiful. One thing down. But there’s still not enough time to get everything done… What else can I cut out of my Erev Shabbos routine? 10 KISLEV 5774

Company! That’s a no-brainer. When I have guests for Shabbos, it adds more to my to-do list while cutting painfully into my prep time. Most of my sleepover guests arrive hours before Shabbos begins, and I always feel pressured to have everything ready before they come—what if, chas v’shalom, my herculean attempts to “beat the clock” fail miserably? The last thing I need is having a bunch of witnesses looking on. Okay—so no company for Shabbos. But what if people invite themselves? It’s not uncommon in this house. Do I disconnect my phone? Meticulously screen my calls? Somehow that seems like carrying my campaign a bit too far. Perhaps, if someone asks, I should just say no. But that dreaded word is almost as painful to utter as “I can’t.” If I could strike it completely from my vocabulary, I would. Fine, so I won’t invite anyone, but if someone calls… I pat myself on the back for my logical decision-making, and at the same time, start looking for loopholes. Maybe we can have company for just one meal… What about housecleaning? I can try to do as much as possible on Wednesday or Thursday, and leave the quick tidyingup for Friday. But every time I’ve tried that in the past, most of the cleaning up I managed to do during the week needed to be redone on Friday. Meanwhile,


DESPITE MY HUSBAND’S FEEBLE ATTEMPT AT HUMOR, MY MIND HAS ALREADY SHOT INTO OVERDRIVE, FEVERISHLY CALCULATING WAYS TO SAVE TIME AND MAKE IT TO SHABBOS IN ONE PIECE. I would barely let my kids leave their rooms, lest they track who-knows-what through the apartment. That leaves cooking. It’s not the actual food prep that trips me up, but the planning ahead that reduces me to amoebacapacity. Between work and the kids, I still haven’t figured out how to squeeze in shopping and cooking ahead of time. And on the rare occasion that I get to the store before Thursday night—bring in the marching band!—I always forget something essential that sends me running back to the store at the last minute on Erev Shabbos. So here’s the new plan for winter: shop Wednesday. Cook Thursday. Make double or triple whatever I can and freeze to save time the following week. We’ll see if I can actually pull that one off. Even if I can’t cook ahead of time, challah-baking needs to start happening on Thursday night instead of Friday morning, that is, assuming that my Southern-

California-based challah group sends me names to daven for in time. One week, the email didn’t come in until after Shabbos had already started here; thankfully, I had some spare challah in the freezer. I may have to bite the bullet and switch to a challah group that is, like me, headquartered in the Holy Land, or at least in my time zone. (Any challah groups in Syria or Lebanon looking for a new member?) The truth is, though, that these hectic Fridays have less to do with the lack of planning, and more to do with the fact that I need it all to be perfect—spotless house, gourmet meals, and a chaos-free candle-lighting. But does it have to be? What if there is a basket or two of laundry that isn’t folded before the sun goes down on Friday? What if the bills were just put into a drawer instead of being filed away in alphabetical order? What if the meals were delicious, but simple? Who said that Shabbos had to be a fivestar event every single week?

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My mother always laid a beautiful table and entertained dozens of guests each week. She made it look effortless, though at least once every Friday, I would find her in the kitchen, her arms braced against the counter, chin tucked into chest, looking as if the weight of the world was on her shoulders. “Are you all right, Mommy?” I asked her once. “Just a little tired, Zies,” she replied. “Lots to do before Shabbos, but it will all get done.” “What if it doesn’t?” She smiled at me and touched my cheek softly. “Whatever is important gets done. The rest can wait.” She was right, of course. So this week, I will plan, and I will stick to that plan as best as I can. I will decide what’s essential and leave the rest for another time. Shabbos is always perfect, without my needing to make it so. Now, to teach my boys how to iron… 

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days The 200-Pound Phone The pressure of making an unwanted call As told to Rea Bochner

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omething strange has happened to my phone: Overnight, it gained about 200 pounds. Now, it’s impossible to pick up the receiver. It’s horrible timing, really, because today was the day I was going to call my brother-in-law to be menachem avel. It’s not that I don’t like my brotherin-law. Actually, that’s a lie. I really don’t like him. From the first time I met him, I couldn’t understand what my sister saw in him. He’s shallow, narrow-minded, pushy, and opinionated—the type of person who has never had children but freely dispenses parenting advice; who makes sweeping pronouncements about Ritalin right in front of your cousin whose son has ADD; who will humiliate your nephew, who has just given his bar mitzvah drush, by bringing down a perush that contradicts everything your nephew has just said; whose opinion is indisputable fact; who, under no circumstances, could ever be wrong...about anything. In the beginning, I tried my best to be cordial. I smiled at his obnoxious jokes and stayed quiet while my sister gushed on and on about him. Whenever he (inevitably) said something that would offend, I bit my tongue and vented to my

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husband after they went home. After all, I wasn’t married to him; he was my sister’s problem, not mine. Then the day came when I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. They had come for Shabbos dinner and everything was going fine. Well, as fine as possible with Captain Broken Filter at the table. I ignored his comments about how my husband’s minyan started and ended too late, how my new business probably wouldn’t make any money, and how I should switch to formula if I wanted our baby to be a talmid chacham. I kept my composure when he told my sister to go back upstairs to their apartment and change because her top made her look “boxy.” But I couldn’t say anything when he looked right at me and said, “You know, I was your mother’s favorite son-inlaw; I make the most money.” At that moment, seeing my husband’s face flush crimson while my brotherin-law patted his mouth smugly with a napkin, the dam I’d stopped up for years burst open. “Are you kidding me?!?” I roared across the table. “My mother couldn’t stand you! None of us can stand you! It’s a miracle I’ve been able to stand you for this long without stabbing you in the leg with a 17 KISLEV 5774

fork!” Then he gave me this pitying look, like I was a toddler in the middle of a tantrum. “I suspected you were jealous,” he said, “but I didn’t realize it was this bad. You’re obviously not mature enough to accept your peckel.” I was so astounded by how off he was— the chutzpah he had to say these things, let alone at my Shabbos table—that I could barely speak. But I managed to squeak out five words: “Get...out...of...my...house!” “Raizy,” my sister began. I shook my head. “Get out of my house, now.” So they left. I haven’t spoken to him since. That was two months ago, and thinking about it even now makes my blood boil. So when I learned the other day that my brother-in-law had flown to Eretz Yisrael for his father’s levayah, all I could feel was resentment, not only at the prospect of having to speak to him again, but that I was going to have to call him. I put the call on my to-do list, underneath every possible chore I could think of. I couldn’t call now; I had to pick up the dry cleaning and drive carpool...I’ll do it later, after I get the baby to sleep... Oops, the day got away from me; it’s


I PRAY WITH EACH RING...THE SECOND...THE THIRD…THAT HE WON’T PICK UP. BUT HE DOES. too late to call Eretz Yisrael now. I kept putting it off and putting it off until today, when I realized that my brother-inlaw is getting up from shivah tomorrow. But I cannot, for the life of me, pick up that phone. I don’t have to call him. It’s not halachah. Then I think of my sister’s face, the disappointment and hurt she will feel when he tells her he never heard from me. It’s already been strained between us since “the episode”; I don’t want to make things any worse than they are. So I call. Every button I push feels like I’m trying to lift a car. I hear the unmistakable ring of a foreign phone, and pray with each buzz...the second...the third…that he won’t pick up. But he does. I take a deep breath. “Hi, Chaim. It’s Raizy.” “Raizy... Thank you so much for calling.” His voice sounds weary, and sad. “How are you doing?” “Honestly,” he says, “It’s been hard. We weren’t expecting this. He was perfectly fine...”

It’s the way he says “fine,” with a catch in his throat, that shifts something in me. I can hear his sorrow through the phone. Suddenly, the image of him at my Shabbos table dissolves; now I see a man in mourning, a son grieving for his father. And I feel for him. I’m not sure why, but I say to him, “Tell me about your father.” And he does. For 20 minutes, my brother-in-law talks about the man who raised him, who always took care of everyone, whom the community relied on as the one they could turn to for chizzuk, for tzedakah, for a little time, who was so many things for so many people that maybe his son had to work a little harder to get some attention. By the time we say goodbye, my view of my brother-inlaw has changed. I can’t say I like him any more than I did before, but maybe I understand him a little better now. “I appreciate your call, Raizy. It was really nice to speak to you.” “Yes, Chaim. It was nice.” I hang up the phone, which feels as light as a feather. 

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days

Watch Out

No good deed goes unpunished By Chaya Steiner

D

id you know that giving someone a gift makes you responsible for the performance of that gift? Forever. You didn’t know? Well, I didn’t either, until recently. For example, if you buy your husband an iPod, it’s your job to download the songs. It’s also your job to periodically clean out the junk music and refill it with new stuff. It’s a lifelong responsibility, really, but you purchased the iPod so it’s only fitting that you should take care of it. And guess who gets to contact Apple when the iPod malfunctions? Taking responsibility for an item you’ve bought can be time consuming and expensive. It can also cause run-ins with the law and the in-laws, traffic accidents and heart disease. I say this from bitter experience. I recently bought my sister-in-law a Swatch watch as a birthday gift, for no reason whatsoever. I mean, she never buys me a birthday present, but I’m a very generous person. A Swatch watch is a reputable product, made in the Kingdom of Watches, Switzerland, and comes with a two-year warranty. So, after wasting an entire afternoon on a trip to Manhattan, deliberating over the different watches in the sales department, and finally settling on a bright red leather band, I came home happy and looking forward to presenting my sister-in-law with her gift. End of story, or so I thought. Last week I visited my mother-in-law

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and found out that the cheerful Swatch with the red leather band had been consistently losing time. Of course, this aroused my natural sympathies, which I expressed with all the proper clucks and nods, only to find out that I should have saved those very sympathies for myself. My sweet little sister-in-law wanted nothing short of a refund or a new watch, as promised by the warranty, and I was responsible for taking care of it. It’s logical, really. When I buy a toaster and it doesn’t work, I take it back to the place I got it from. Well, I was the place she had gotten her watch. Reluctantly, more to keep the family peace than anything else, I agreed to take it back to the store. But I wasn’t going to let my husband off scot-free; she’s his sister, not mine. So I harnessed him to his car seat and had him drive me back into Manhattan. At this point I should mention that my husband is a relatively new driver, just out of the six-month probation period, in fact. Many thanks to the nice salespeople in the Swatch store, who actually give their customers great service. A quick check confirmed that the watch was defective and I was entitled to a new one, which I was given without incident. It was only on the way home that disaster struck. Driving on New York City’s congested streets is a challenge even for an experienced driver; how much more so for a novice. When we got to Sixth Avenue and 14th Street, we found 17 KISLEV 5774

ourselves lumbering behind a huge truck that severely obstructed our view. When my husband blindly followed it into the intersection, the traffic light was already a bright cheery red—just like the watchband. Uh, oh. We kept going, which was the only option we had, and immediately heard the ominous sound of a siren behind us. A quick glance in the rearview mirror revealed nothing, however, and we almost sighed with relief when we realized the sound was emanating from a yellow taxicab with a light attached to its dashboard. Those sneaky traffic cops! They had been sitting inside an old yellow cab on one of the busiest corners in the city, waiting to pounce on offenders! No doubt the insides had been renovated for their comfort. Well, the cops pulled us over to the corner and were surprisingly uninterested in the fact that I had just completed a mission aimed at preserving the family peace. They proceeded to take their time, leisurely writing down my husband’s information and issuing him a ticket. To make a long story short, he got a $270 fine and points on his license, all for my sister-in-law’s birthday gift that I had given her on a warm and fuzzy impulse. So here’s my word to the wise: Whenever you need to buy a gift, make sure it’s something you can’t return or fix and needs no maintenance whatsoever. And if possible, make it something you can enjoy together with the recipient— like cake.  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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Issue 144  

Ami Living

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