ISSUE 136 11 Tishrei 5774/2013
r e h hig
Museum of Marvels
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Ask The Rabbi
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Published by Ami Magazine Editor-in-Chief: Esty Weiss News Editor: Avrohom Yaakov Tarkieltaub Production Manager: Dina Hagar Photo Editor: Eli Koenig Executive Coordinator: Zack Blumenfeld Illustrator: T. Aramada Design: Rachel Adler Layout: Shana Baila Kohn Write to us at Ami Magazine, 1575 50th St., 3rd Floor, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11219 Call us at: 718-534-8800 Fax: 718-484-7731 Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ISSUE 136 11 Tishrei 5774/2013 xe edition
kmate in four
4 White’s turn, chec 8
nge delu chess challe
to see the stars
12 things you may not know about sukkahs
interview the esrog grower
kmate in four
meet the milsteins
let it slide
shadows at golden acres
photo pullout the lulav
3 White’s turn, chec
kmate in three
museum of marvels
2 White’s turn, chec
fun stuﬀ 8
mate in two mov
1 White’s turn, check
48 ask the rabbi
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Do you know which decorations the Sanzer Rav (Rav Chaim Halberstam, 1793-1876) had in his sukkah that made it so beautiful? If you're thinking it was the brightly colored birds swaying in the breeze, richly decorated ushpizin posters tacked on the walls, or plump fruit hanging from the schach, you're way oﬀ the mark. The Sanzer Rebbe's walls did have such ornaments—but those weren't what made his sukkah so special. No, it wasn't a special Sanzer tradition to encrust the sukkah walls with silver and gold. The walls were heavily decorated—but its most special ornaments couldn't be seen. You see, ordinarily, the Sanzer Rav could not go to sleep at night if a single gulden remained in his possession to be given to tzedakkah. But Erev Yom Tov was his busiest time. One Erev Sukkos the Rav had to borrow thousands of gulden to distribute to the poor. That night as he entered his sukkah he declared that his sukkah was so beautiful—because it was adorned with the mitzvah of tzedakkah! It was the charity he'd given that was the most special adornment of all. (Interestingly, the Sanzer Rav even hired two poor people to work full-time actually making decorations for him—as a respectable method of "making money.") May we all be zocheh to sit in a beautiful sukkah this year—and more importantly, may we be zocheh to recognize true beauty when we see it. Chag Sameach!
Waiting to hear from you,
Dear Aim!, Wednesday is the favorite day of my week because that’s when we get the “aim”azing Aim!. I like experimenting with your terriﬁc ideas. This cake is just one of the many great ideas I got from Aim!. I made it for my sister’s sixth birthday (by the way, it has six layers) and it came out stunning! Thanks a trillion, Chayala Bleier, Age 12 Wow—that cake is even more gorgeous than the one we showed. You’re one talented baker, Chayala! Keep sending us photos of your Aim! creations! —Esty
Dear “Most Excellent Magazine in the Entire Universe,” (Apologies in advance for being blunt) I am shocked that you would even consider taking away "Hoﬀman’s Hotel." It is one of those things that has been around since the beginning and no one can really ﬁnd anything wrong with it (I mean I certainly haven’t). It is a column that is perfect for light reading and has really creative stories. I feel Aim! wouldn’t be the same without it. On a happier note, what can I say? Aim! continues to be the best children’s—make that all ages—magazine in the entire world (at least that’s what I think and I’m sure all the other Aim! fans would agree with me). It has really interesting serials. "Disappeared" is getting really intense, it is awesome. I really like "Meet the
Milsteins," it’s great. I think it is funny that they all have diﬀerent personalities that we all can relate to. I love short stories and "Real Tweens Real Life." I wish there could be more than 2 each week. Dina Neuman is a great creative writer but I don’t really like Simcha Pearlman. I think he is a little too full of himself but other than that he seems like a good character to base your stories on. Also in "Mexican Ransom" the little girl tells her friends that she has a secret and they ask her to tell. What happened after that, did she tell or not? Could you do 12 things about wolves and alligators? Thanx, From Nachi E. P.S. If you recognized my name it is because I have written before. P.P.S. Simcha Pearlman isn’t
a real person is he? Anyhow, thanx a ton for the best magazine ;) Goodbye, Hoﬀman’s, goodbye… It is my sad duty to inform you all that "Hoﬀman’s Hotel" is ending. Sniﬀ. You made your voices heard—approximately half of you really wanted Hoﬀman’s to stay, while the other half were ready to bid it goodbye. We hope the new column will delight ALL of you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Nachi, Daniel Hagar says it is implied that Esther did spill the beans, though whether or not that’s how the bad guys found out where the Berkmans were remains a secret… Dina Neuman’s lips are sealed as to whether or not Simcha exists—possibly to keep that presumptuous young man from getting an even bigger swelled head. Keep in touch! —Esty
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s w ne ator
Nutritious lunches are supposed to teach kids to make the right choices.
By Chaim Boruch Tauber
FREE LUNCH IS
NEVER FREE (AND HARDLY LUNCH, EITHER)
Kids are consuming fewer calories from vegetables, according to government data. (Photo: Hans Pennink, AP)
he United States has been really busy ﬁghting its War on Terror and its War on Poverty and its War on Drugs and plenty more of late. It seems that the only war they’ve never really launched is a War on War. But with all these talks (and sometimes even acts) of war (including the contradictorily themed “bombing for peace” concept), one of the biggest wars is being fought right now and we’re hardly noticing. At least I’m hardly noticing it as I munch on my cheesy bagel. You might very well be.
as a matter
• Already 1% of schools previously on the government lunch program have opted out and another 3% are strongly considering the move. • The National School Lunch Program is an $11-billion industry dedicated to keeping children healthy and preventing them from going hungry.
You see, this war is against obesity and the weapons are your lunch trays. Seems like the wars on terror, poverty and drugs are going soooo well that the government has all this extra time on their hands…and whole wheat pizzas in their freezers. These days, instead of asking, “Is our children learning?” (George W. Bush actually said that), the question becomes, “Is our children eating?” As reported before in Aim!, in an attempt to make school kids a bit healthier (and/or more miserable), the government started instituting healthier lunch programs in schools all across America. The National School Lunch Program provides cash reimbursements to schools for each meal served: about $2.50 to $3 for free and
reduced-priced meals and about 30 cents for full-price meals. (You probably pay for lunch as part of your tuition, or if you’re eligible you get it free from the program, but other students pay each day for their tray.) Some of the worst-hit schools claimed losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars as kids turned their noses up at the healthier fare. Some kids would bring junk food from home; others would buy junk. Still others would go hungry. And how do you think they behaved in class after all three scenarios? (Ask my students.) With the school season barely underway, more and more schools across the country (not interested in ﬁghting with their students all over again) are opting out of the program. This is not an option for schools with many children receiving free meals. Dr. Janey Thornton, deputy undersecretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, said she is still optimistic about the program. “Many of these children have never seen or tasted some of the fruits and vegetables that are being served, and it takes a while to adapt and learn,” she said. Something tells me someone else will be doing some adapting and learning—and it isn’t the kids.
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tween news jewish news THE ROUHANI RUSE Yay! I got a new Rosh Hashanah card! From…uh…someone in Iran…?! Some guy who calls himself Hassan Rouhani, whoever on earth that is, right? Anyway, he says that he’d like to wish me a Happy Rosh Hasha— wait a second, isn’t Rouhani the newly appointed ruler of Iran?! I wasn’t the only one surprised by the shanah tovah message from
Rouhani. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel said he was “not impressed” by the greetings from Iran, and that the Iranian regime “will be judged only by its actions and not by greetings.” He was wise not to get excited: In the end, the Iranian government issued a statement clarifying that the message had not been sent out by the Iranian leader, but by an imposter.
LOOKIE! THE CAR’S COOKI(E)NG!
Now hold that thought for a moment and imagine the “mouth” is a giant building and the “cookie” is
Sandpoint, Idaho’s very own Ethan Schlussler serves as an excellent example of why people who refuse to grow up can be such fun. I mean, we all have an occasional inspiration of immaturity; for example, I express my intermittent immaturity through dry humor (yeah, I got a little carried away with that chocolate chip cookie analogy in the “Bizarre News,” but that’s only because my mouth was so dry from eating all those chocolate chip cooki—oh no, I just did it again!). But there’s me and then there’s Ethan, who went ahead and built himself a man-powered elevator for his (30-foot-high!—9-meter) tree house at almost no cost!
bizarre news Ever bit into a warm chocolate chip cookie that just melted in your mouth? They’re awesome! No disrespect to anyone who’s like some kind of vegetarian against chocolate chip cookies, but those things rock. Aside from those people (and perhaps there’s a group out there dedicated to the eradication of cookies of the chocolate chip variety—almost nothing surprises me nowadays), everyone else can relate to the unique feel of a chocolate chip cookie in the mouth.
PEDAL TO THE METAL AND FOOT TO THE WOOD
a car. But the cookie is outside the car—okay, unlike cookies, this analogy is not perfect. There’s a uniquely designed building in London’s ﬁnancial district where you do not want to park your car. The odd shape of the building is reﬂecting the sun’s beams in a way that’s melting cars parked nearby! Local shopkeepers have even complained about carpets catching ﬁre and smoldering front doors. The curved glass walls of this 37-story structure is doing to cars what a magnifying glass does to tissue paper. And you thought alternate side parking was bad!
How did he do it? By simply hooking up the chains of a bike to a double pulley system of sorts; every time he churns the pedals the bike moves upward. Going down has more to do with a dose of caution and some gravity. See? It’s a piece of cake! Or a chocolate chip coo—sigh, I really need help, don’t I…?
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ion direct a
Cast Thy Bread BY ELI KATZ
Scene 1 (At the seashore.)
to die! What a tragedy! What a disaster! What a heartbreak!
FEIVEL What a great day for a picnic. Where’s the basket, Zelig?
BAR KAPPARA I’d better stick around and see if there are any survivors I can help.
ZELIG (Opening the picnic basket and rummaging through it.) Coleslaw, cheese, cake, grapes—where is it?—oh, here we go. The bread. (He picks up the bread and is poised to throw it into the water when Feivel grabs his hand.)
ARRIAN The mighty ship is going doooooown! Watch it sink below the waves! And it’s gooooooone. What a spectacle that was! Okay. Show’s over. I must rush now to tell everyone that I saw the wreck with my own two eyes.
FEIVEL What are you doing with the bread?!
BAR KAPPARA Perhaps there are survivors who need food and shelter.
ZELIG I’m throwing it into the water.
ARRIAN Nah. Besides, if anyone survived the shipwreck they can survive anything. Gotta run. (He leaves.)
FEIVEL Huh?! ZELIG Don’t worry, it’ll come back to us one day. I heard it in Koheles on Sukkos: "Cast your bread upon the water for you shall ﬁnd it after many days.” FEIVEL Do it this way and the only ones who shall ﬁnd bread are a bunch of ﬁsh. Let me tell you a story.
Scene 2 (At the seashore in Caesarea.) ARRIAN Gasp! Look! There’s a ship sinking at sea! All the people are going
BAR KAPPARA Look! There’s someone! He’s trying to keep his head above the waves. He must be someone special to survive when hundreds didn’t. (Waving his hands to the struggling man.) Over here! Over here! (Agrippa swims to the shore and collapses on the ground.) AGRIPPA
BAR KAPPARA You made it! Baruch Hashem! Who are you? What do you do? AGRIPPA My name is Agrippa. I’ve made this journey by ship to buy fat
from cattle for my idols. BAR KAPPARA (Stunned.) Wh-what? Okay. (Recovers.) Come to my home; I’ll give you fresh clothing, food and money so you can get home safely.
Scene 3 (Years later. Bar Kappara is standing in the Roman minister’s oﬃce.) BAR KAPPARA Hopefully, this minister will accept the large bribe we Yidden collected and stop with his ridiculous laws that are making life so diﬃcult for us. (The minister enters. It is Agrippa, but Bar Kappara does not recognize him.) AGRIPPA Hello, hello. BAR KAPPARA I’ve come on a mission to request mercy for the Yidden. I bring a gift from them. AGRIPPA Gift? Let’s see. (Counts the money.) A nice stash of cash, I see. Tell me, do you recognize me? BAR KAPPARA man minister.
You are the great Ro-
AGRIPPA Duh. That you could tell from my nameplate. Do you know who I am?
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a parzszhle pu
“Your sukkah is gorgeous!” Perry gushed as she looked around. “It’s like a little Jewish museum. I can’t believe your family did this on your own.” “You bet we did,” Faigy said with a laugh. “We had a blast decorating the walls.” “Wow wow wow! Your family sure is something.” Faigy smiled. “I think so too! We were all in charge of one wall, except me and Chevy—we shared a wall.”
AGRIPPA If I were swimming in the sea would you recognize me? BAR KAPPARA
AGRIPPA If I were standing in your house? If I had a soaking wet blouse? If I were buying fat from cattle? If I walked with a strange waddle? If I held onto a plank? If you gave me money like a bank? BAR KAPPARA Oh! Yes, of course! You are Agrippa— AGRIPPA Last I checked. I have a gift for you. Take this money for your personal use and tell your friends their troubles are over. It’s Mr. Nice Guy from me from now on.
Scene 4 (Back to scene 1.) FEIVEL When you throw bread upon the water you expect never to see it again—just like when you give charity. But reward does await you one day. Now let’s eat our sandwiches. ⊙
BASED ON TALES FROM OUR GEDOLIM
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Perry went closer to the wall. “I totally did not realize the entire design is made out of tiny words! It’s stunning.” She pointed to the leopard. “Why does it keep repeating 'Reb Yehudah ben Teima Omer Hevei Oz Kanamer'? Couldn't he have left out the 'R' Yehudah says' part and just drawn the leopard from the 'Hevei Oz Kanamer' part?" “Nope,” Perry replied. "And if he would've, R' Yehudah wouldn't be murmuring it right now." “Huh?!” Faigy said. “I'm totally confused."
Can you explain?
a h c a l ha nge e chall
“We are oﬀ to see the lions, the tigers, and the cats,” Mimi and Riki sang loudly as they skipped to the car. “The elephants, and the roosters and the little rats.” “Would you hurry up and sing your songs later?” Pinchus called out from the car window. “The zoo is closing soon.” “Now we just have to wait for Shuey and we're ready to roll,” announced Mr. Greenﬁeld cheerfully as the two girls sat down. “He was in charge of bringing the portable sukkah along.” “What’s taking so long?” Pinchus asked impatiently as he looked out the car window. “We are nev-
er going to make it in—oh, great, here he is.” Shuey came huﬃng and puﬃng to the car carrying two boards and a sheet of schach. “Big problem,” he said as he got into the car. “I only found two boards.” “Well, we can always use an animal,” said Mr. Greenﬁeld with a twinkle in his eye. “Or worse case scenario, we’ll share a sukkah with the Browns; they are also coming. Now quickly hop into the car—we have one impatient boy in the backseat.”
What did Mr. Greenﬁeld mean when he said they could use an animal?
Answer: One may use a big animal for a wall for the sukkah by tying it to the wall so that it should not run away or move. (Mishnah Berurah 630:52)
“You got it! Not that it’s too hard to ﬁgure out; you know we love quilling. Look at this one: My genius of
a brother, Nachman, did it. “
Answer: One should repeat the words of a talmid chacham in the name of he who said them—and then it is as if his lips are murmuring those words from his kever. ( Rashi 5:11)
“I’ll tell you exactly which one you did,” Perry said as she pointed to a wall. “This one!”
7 9/11/13 8:56 AM
et targt e
ingredients PREPARED BATTER FOR A ROUND 8-INCH (20CM) VANILLA SPONGE CAKE PASTE FOOD COLORING: red, yellow, blue, green, orange
WHITE FONDANT (SUGARPASTE): 2 POUNDS 12 OUNCES (1.25KG) 3 OUNCES (100G) WHITE FROSTING ROYAL ICING: DIVIDED INTO BOWLS AND COLORED RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, PURPLE
equipment 6 SMALL BOWLS 5 MEDIUM-SIZED BOWLS ROUND CAKE PAN GREASED AND LINED 6 TEASPOONS BASIC EQUIPMENT
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1 2 3 4 5
To make the cake, divide the batter equally between the ďŹ ve medium-sized bowls and color each one using the paste food colorings. Spoon the ďŹ rst color into the center of the pan, being careful not to spread it out, then carefully spoon the second color onto the center of the ďŹ rst color (again, not spreading the batter manually). Repeat with remaining colored batters. Rather magically, the colors spread in concentric circles to the edge of the pan. Transfer to the oven and bake as per the recipe instructions. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Crumb coat the cake (put a thin layer of frosting on it so that the crumbs stay in place) and set aside. Roll out the white fondant. To do this, dust your work surface with confectioners' sugar and roll to a circle large enough to cover the cake. Lift it up and over the cake, trimming the extra parts with a knife. (Optional: the cake shown had a white ribbon wrapped around the bottom.) Place each of the colored royal icings into a small bowl and thin down each colored icing with a little water until you have a soft dropping consistency. Be careful to add water drop by drop as a little water goes a long way. Using a clean teaspoon for each color, dribble the icings all over the cake to create your own individual masterpiece!
Copied with permission from Cake Decorating for Kids.
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7 6 5 4 3 2
2 White’s turn, checkmate in three moves.
3 White’s turn, checkmate in four moves. 4 White’s turn, checkmate in four moves. C
6 5 4 3 2
chess challenge deluxe edition
1 White’s turn, checkmate in two mov
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Like Sudoku? Try Jigsaw Sudoku. You must place 1-9 once each into every bold-lined colored jigsaw region, as well as the rows and columns.
A person is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The ﬁrst is full of raging ﬁres, the second is full of knives going up and down, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?
Last week's: (1) Queen takes pawn on h6, King takes Queen on h6 (2) Rook to h4 Checkmate!
The word CANDY can be spelled using just 2 letters. Can you ﬁgure out how?
1. (1) pawn on d5 to d6 check, Rook on d8 takes pawn on d6 (2) pawn on c7 to c8 promotes to a Knight Checkmate!
Try this one on your friend: If there are forty cups on the table and one cup breaks, how many tea cups are left?
2. (1) Rook on f5 to e5 check, Queen takes Rook (if pawn takes Rook then Queen to e7 mate and if King to d8 then Queen to c7 mate) (2) Bishop takes Bishop on c6 check, King to d8 (3) Queen to d7 Checkmate!
A father has 7 children and half of them are boys. How is this possible?
3. (1) Queen on g4 to g7 check, King to e8 (2) Queen on g7 takes Bishop on e7 check, King takes Queen on e7 (3) Rook on g3 to g7 check, King to e8 (4) Knight on e4 to f6 Checkmate!
1) ALL the children are boys, so 1/2 half are boys and so are the other half. 2) 3! We started with 4 tea cups (forty cups) and one broke. 3) C and Y 4) The third. Lions that haven’t eaten in three years are dead.
4. (1) Rook on h1 takes pawn on h6 check, King takes pawn (2) Queen on c7 to c6 check, Queen on f7 to f6 (if King moves to h5 then Queen to h1 mate and if King moves to h7 then the following moves would apply with blacks Queen defending on h5) (3) Queen on c6 to h1 check, Queen to h4 (4) Queen on h1 takes Queen on h4 Checkmate!
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Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink: The largest aquarium in the world, in Atlanta, Georgia, is home to more than 120,000 animals that live in 8.5 million gallons of water. Billionaire Bernard Marcus was so inspired by aquariums after visiting 56 of them in 13 countries , that he donated $250 million to build this gargantuan one.
Abraham Lincoln look-alikes gather yearly for an annual Lincoln impersonation contest. Hopefuls grow beards for months, vying for the prestigious title of "most authenticlooking Lincoln." What would Honest Abe have said to all this impersonation?
Oﬀering claustrophobia for hundreds of years: The smallest hotel in the world is just six feet wide and has a maximum capacity of just two people. The Eh’haeusl, in Amberg, Germany has been around since 1728.
ANY ROOM AVAILABILITY? You bet! Between 1936 and 1939, 9,000 laborers employed by the Nazi government built a 10,000 room (!) hotel in the coastal town of Prora. The hotel was to be used as a resort for German soldiers, but that never happened once the war broke out. Today the part of the hotel that doesn’t lie in ruins is inhabited by local homeless.
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THIS SCHOOL IS SO PLANE.
In the city Rustavi, in the Republic of Georgia, there’s a kindergarten that’s been built out of an old airplane! It’s enough to make anyone ﬂy to school.
Copy catter: The mimic octopus can turn its body to take the shape of many sea creatures. Depending on who is chasing it, the mimic octopus can shape-shift into a sea snake, lionﬁsh, crab and even a ﬁsh!
You’ll be stoned—er, stunned. There is a building dating back to at least the eighth century in Katskhi, in the Republic of Georgia, that rests on top of a 130-foot rock. To this day no one knows for sure how people managed to get up that rock to build it in the ﬁrst place—though today you can ascend on a rickety ladder!
WHAT DID 0 SAY TO 8? Nice belt!
Welcome! Marvels abound here-not the least of which is moi.
LET THERE BE LIGHT!
Jalapeno peppers are for the faint-hearted. The hottest pepper in the world is the Naga Viper pepper. Just how hot is it? Its ranks about 1,350,000 heat units on the Scoville ratings chart. The jalapeño pepper, by comparison, gets only about 5,000 heat units.
For centuries, the residents of Vaganella, Italy accepted the fact that they just weren’t meant to see the light of day. That’s because their town had been built in the shadow of a steep mountain, which completely obstructed the sun’s view a few months out of every year. In 2006 a giant set of mirrors was installed on top of the mountain, ﬂooding the hamlet with sunlight!
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By eli katz and daniael hager
How long have you been working
on your Noy Sukkah this year? A day? A week? Two weeks? You can’t top this—Rabbi Mendel Krinsky of Crown Heights works on his noy sukkah all summer! He feeds them, waters them, and cares for them with devotion. Before you rush oﬀ to water those paper chains, you should know his noy sukkah are alive—they’re the beautiful plants he grows in his garden—and then uses to beautify his sukkah! Whether it’s plastic fruit or elegant damask draping, many Yidden all around the world decorate their sukkahs in order to make the mitzvah of living in a sukkah even more special. “Zeh Keili
ve’anveihu” (Shemos 15:2) is explained by the Gemara (Maseches Shabbos 133b) to mean: adorn yourself before Hashem by beautifying His commandments… make a magniﬁcent shofar, esrog and…sukkah. So as you push those thumbtacks in, bear in mind that you’re following a thousands-of-years–old tradition (minus the thumbtacks): They may not have had those ubiquitous paper chains (paper wasn’t invented yet), but back in Talmudic times, people were already hanging nuts, fruits, oil and ﬂour in their sukkahs.
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Do you have one of those green plastic sukkahs? Hey, green’s a really classic color for a sukkah. A ﬁfteenth-century Italian machzor gives us a glimpse of the green sukkahs of old. One of the oldest pictures of a sukkah around, this famous structure was a wooden frame covered with green leaves.
Welcome dome. The Spanish didn’t only love domed roofs (as you may have learned in your global history class), they loved domed sukkahs too! French engraver Bernard Picart (1673-1733) created this famous engraving of Portuguese Sephardim in their sukkah. Not only was the roof domed, a large central decoration hung from the center—a decoration mentioned by R’ Yaakov Molin in his sefer Minhagei Maharil—all the way back in the fourteenth century!
When Mr. Naftali Deller commissioned an artist to hand-paint his sukkah panels in the nineteenth century, he couldn’t have possibly imagined where his sukka’le would end up. The main wall was painted to depict Yerushalayim, another showed scenes from different Yomim Tovim, and one wall was painted to show the Deller's home town of Fishach. You can even see the local baron, who was kind to the local Yidden, hunting in his town! (Naftali’s wife is also shown standing at the front door of her home.) During the 1930s, the endangered sukkah was smuggled out of Germany to safety. Today it can be found in the Israel Museum.
Holland Miniature Model This cutie, which depicts a house with a roof that can be removed to create a sukkah, dates back to the mid 1800s. (Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam)
Denmark Sukkah The ornament oﬀering: Rabbi Friediger was chief Rabbi in Denmark and these decorations had been in the family all the way from the late eighteenth century. When the Etlinger family sheltered his wife during World War II, the decorations were given to them in gratitude. Today they can be seen in the Israel Museum.
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Fine feathers make ﬁne birds—and ﬁne decorations! If you have birds hanging in your sukkah, you’re following a really, really old tradition. Back in the ﬁfteenth century, sources already described eggshells stuck with feathers to resemble birds hanging in the sukkah. Chasidei Ropshitz took it one step further—they had an eagle surrounded by little birds in their sukkah.
Citron centerpiece: Who was the ﬁrst to hang an esrog? While we can't answer that we do know the Rema already mentions the practice. Stick besamim all along the sides and you have a classic decoration that smells as sweet as it looks.
Oil Oy Chanukah, Oy Chanukah… We have our eyes on the next Yom Tov already! Some hang the oil in the sukkah that they intend to use for the menorah.
Stars Talk about seeing stars: You don’t only see stars through the schach, you see ’em right on the walls. It’s unclear how the foil star practice started, but the tradition’s only been getting stronger with do-it-yourself kits making it easier than ever for you to make your own celestial décor.
Peroches We don’t know if the gabbai of your shul will agree with your resurrecting this minhag, but an ancient Sephardic practice involved taking the paroches from the shul and hanging it up as part of the décor.
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91 Quick, what’s the gematria of sukkah? Oh, you knew it immediately because you saw it right there in the title? Well, others know it oﬀhand for a better reason—the number plays a prominent role in their sukkah. There is a Dzikover minhag to hang 91 apples in the sukkah. Others hang 91 candles—something I doubt the ﬁre marshal would approve of—which is possibly why the Satmar Rebbe hung 91 light bulbs .
Shivaas Haminim What better way to make a praiseworthy sukkah than with the seven praised fruits of Eretz Yisrael? Karliner chasidim only hang these seven fruits on their ceilings—while the Briskers keep their ceilings bare.
Bare Beauty Chabad chasidim have a minhag not to hang noy sukkah at all.
An 18th century sukkah decoration.
Building a Sukkah, depicted in a 1470 Italian Machzor.
A century-old sukkah decoration showing a family in Amsterdam eating in a sukkah.
A Bukhara sukkah with traditional rugs on walls.
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Get the Picture?
Wouldn’t it be exciting if archaeologists dug up an entire treasure chest of coins with Shlomo Hamelech’s face on them? We’d actually be able to see how the great king looked—just like we can see how Antiochus and Titus looked from coins bearing their image. The coins would be worth millions! Billions! Ga—hey, where are you going with that shovel?! Stop right there. No, such a ﬁnding wouldn’t be exciting at all. If anyone were to dig up such coins, they’d be worth zilch. The reason is obvious—they’d be the most obvious fakes around. You see, no coins bearing the likeness of Shlomo Hamelech were ever minted to begin with—for good reason. The second commandment Hashem gave us at Har Sinai was “Lo saseh lecha pesel kol temuna”—Do not make yourself a graven image of any likeness… This prohibition includes pictures of people—even if it’s only for beautiﬁcation purposes. Hmm. Is it time to throw out all those family albums and pull those gedolim posters oﬀ your sukkah wall? The answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think, but we rely on the Shulchan Aruch, who says ﬂ at pictures are not problematic—it’s only images that are 3D that are prohibited (Yoreh Deah 141). Also, photos that do not show the entire body are certainly not questionable. (If you would’ve gone sukkahhopping to the sukkahs of gedolim like the Steipler Gaon or Rav Elyashiv, you would’ve seen that the gedolim pictures hung there only showed the tzaddikim to their waists.) (As an aside, some gedolim such as the Chazon Ish did not want their pictures taken, but it was for kabbalistic, not halachic reasons.) Go ahead, beautify your sukkah walls with images of our leaders. But before you do, read the inside scoop behind many of those famous portraits .
Rav Tzvi Hirsch Ashkenazi 1656-1718
Rema MiPano Rav Menachem Azariah de Fano 1548-1621 “Beard” with me a minute as we travel back in time to Italy in the eighteenth century, to an era of clean chins but not such clean record-keeping. A sefer comes out in Italy making a startling claim: Shaving is completely acceptable, even according to Kabbalah. The proof? The Rema MiPano, the famous kabbalist who had lived less than a century before had no beard! “Hair, hair,” said some people as they went ahead and shaved their beards. Rav Yosef Ergas, a renowned kabbalist, attacked this claim. He said he’d actually seen a portrait of the Rema MiPano in Mantua (Montova, in Lashon Kodesh) and he deﬁnitely did not shave. Debate about the truth of both claims continued for well over a century—until the portrait in question was discovered in the Mantua Library in Italy. The hair-raising truth? The sefer’s claim was false.
Picture this: The Chacham Tzvi is visiting a community in England. They’re enraptured by the great gadol and wish he could stay— or at least an image of him could be made so they could keep his face in front of them forever, but nothing doing. The great tzaddik won’t sit for a painter because of the problems with creating a human image. The people won’t take no for an answer though— and they hire a painter to create the portrait in secret! The painter works fast—but is still so stunningly accurate, it makes his son, Rav Yaakov Emden, “recoil backwards as if he was alive” when he’s shown the picture years later. “The only thing missing was the breath of life,” he writes in Sefer Sheilos Yaavetz (1:170). Many copies of the painting were made, bringing in a small fortune.
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Shaagas Aryeh Rav Aryeh Leib Ben Asher Gunsberg 1695-1785 Turn to page 134 of Nathan Netter’s Twenty Centuries of History of Jewish Community (Metz and its great past), published in France in 1938, and you’ll get quite a shock. There’s a picture there of the great Shaagas Aryeh—after his petirah! Rabbi Netter heard of this image’s existence from a man named R’ Yitzchak Herzog, whose sister Esther owned the unique oil painting. Their father, R’ Yoel Leib Herzog, had been a rabbi in Paris. When he met Louis Bloch, a sixth-generation descendant of the Shaagas Aryeh, he asked him if any likenesses of his ancestor existed—and he was shocked when the answer turned out to be yes. He reproduced the painting and the rest is history. The Shaagas Aryeh was already 70 when appointed Rabbi of Metz. The townspeople were delighted with their new rav—until they saw him. R’ Aryeh Leib realized his age bothered them and so he asked them how long they wanted him to be rav for. They answered 20 years—and so it was!
Rav Yisrael ben R’ Eliezer 1698-1760 What in the world is the Baal Shem doing with a compass in his hand? Why, the answer is obvious! The Baal Shem was involved in freemasonry (a group that used a compass as their symbol) and alchemy (early chemistry). You heard the Baal Shem delivered children to and from school? Well, you’re wrong—at least about the Baal Shem in this picture! Turns out there were two diﬀerent Baal Shems—and
An Even Later portrait
Vilna Gaon Rav Eliyahu Kremer
1720–1797 What’s the diﬀerence between this picture and the dozen or so others of the Vilna Gaon? Simple. This one was actually made during the tzaddik’s lifetime. The others were all created later, based on this image. Apparently, the artists weren’t satisﬁed with simply painting what they saw on the ﬁrst pic—each picture thereafter was made more elaborate than the one before. Fancy rabbinic garb was added and ﬁnally teﬁllin were added to the Gaon’s head. Diﬀerent versions of the Gaon are also widespread.
Baal Shem Tov this photo is not of the one you’re thinking of! The Baal Shem of London, a.k.a. Rabbi Dr. Chaim Samuel Jacob Falk, or Doctor Falckon, lived about the same time as the Baal Shem Tov of Mezhbizh. This painting was ﬁrst published in an 1886 article on great Jewish families in Britain by Lucien Wolf. To a secular biographer writing about the Baal Shem Tov shortly thereafter, one Baal Shem was as good as another, so he used this picture in his book, causing the picture to be widely passed along as a depiction of the founder of chasidus— and this confusion continues until today.
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Rav Meir Leibush Wisser 1809-1879
Malbim Baal Hatanya Rav Shneur Zalman of Liady 1745–1812 Thank you, Prince Tishkowitz! In the late nineteenth century, a Jewish artist was rummaging around in the late prince’s art collection when he came across this gem. Who could this saintly looking man be? The evidence that it was the Baal Hatanya proved strong. His name (Zalman Baruchovitz), town (Liozhna), and year (1798), appeared on the portrait—and that’s the precise year the Baal Hatanya was jailed, leading to speculation that it was painted for a court hearing. If that wasn’t enough, there were older people around who remembered the Baal Hatanya’s son, Rav Chaim Avraham, who was known to be the spitting image of his holy Totty—and of the photo in question. Experts pointed out the startling fact that the picture showed the Baal Hatanya with a prominent scar on his nose— and the fact that such a scar existed has been retold in Chabad history. Just a couple of years ago, in 2009, another image of R’ Shneur Zalman surfaced. It was brought to a Chabad yeshivah in St. Petersburg, and it was claimed that the picture had been passed down in a family for generations. It also showed the scar—and the resemblance to picture 1 was uncanny.
LOL. A group of Maskilim came up with a devilish plan to humiliate the Malbim. They sent him a lovely “mishloach manos”—a picture of a pig in a frame! The Malbim immediately sent them back a picture of himself with a note: “Thanks for giving me the honor of sending me a picture of your face. I’ll return the favor with a picture of me.” I’d love to have seen the faces of those Maskilim when they got that!
Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan 1838–1933 Is it, or isn’t it? This picture may be a good reminder to you to watch your tongue, but is it really a picture of the Chafetz Chaim? Well, depends who you ask. His daughter, Rebbetzin Zacks (born in the tzaddik’s later years), said, "The man in the picture looks like a good ehrlicher Yid, but it's not my father!" Many of the Chafetz Chaim’s talmidim also deny that this was their Rebbe. Others, however, claimed the picture was authentic, but taken in the gadol’s “younger” years. Several authenticated pictures do exist, including the one below. ⊙
Siting with his son Reb Leib in front of his house.
A close up.
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By Shaul Mozesson
Who needs to be ridiculously rich? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to send my kids on some crazy rides this Chol Ha’moed, where, like kids of all ages, they will diligently regurgitate the Yom Tov food their mother worked so hard to prepare. It would also be nice to have money to purchase ingredients for all that marvelous food too (so long as the food doesn’t attract too many bees). But somehow the word “loaded” brings to mind a cluster of miserable people peering out of peculiarly large windows of even larger mansions, constantly worried that no one else in the area should have larger windows or mansions. (Or maybe that’s what I tell myself as I peer out of my basement abode.) Mansion and basement dwellers, all of us will be leaving our homes to live in huts this Sukkos. Check out these colossal cottages that’ll make your year-long dwelling seem like a hut.
a home atop your own private mountain? Eeeew… That’s like, soooo old-fashioned. How about building a private mountain on top of a home? A Chinese billionaire commissioned just that, making good use of something called “Elevators” (or “lifts,” in the Queen’s language) and after a while he had his mountain-home sagging down heavily on the rest of a random apartment building (mountain goats not included…)! Turns out he never exactly did ask residents their opinion. Or Gravity. Or the Chinese Government. LOL: A few weeks ago China forced the bored billionaire to tear down the ridiculous structure. Heh, I guess what goes up, must, after all, come down….
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Location: Beijing, China
21 9/11/13 9:01 AM
for a nice mounWhy settle taintop apartment
Location: Manhattan, NY
The Apartment, the Building and Nothing But
LOL levy this Sukkos. Or you can simply cheat and build a porch oﬀ the I bet it would be tons of fun sending the dishes down a ﬁve-story long
Hyde and go Seek Your Loan Agent You name it and the developers of Hyde Park have got it. You want a ﬁve-bedroom apartment? Sure. It’s going to run you about $106 million (£68,000,000) and unless Aim! gives me a raise it’s going to take me at least 106 million years to get there. But that’s not all, of course. Too expensive? The modest can try their single-bedroom ﬂ at for a mere $36 million (£20 million). Too cheap? You can
building when you can simply own the entire building itself? If you’re interested in this ﬁvestory single family apartment building, you’d better act now because rates have never been this low! All this can be yours for just $150,000! Per month, of course (the original asking price was $210k per month). Woolworth Mansion might be worth a second thought if you happen to have $90 million lying around—the purchase price. Even if you don’t have the $90 million, I doubt that would be much of a problem. I’m sure you can haggle them down to $88 million (and, ahem, I have a few suggestions for what you can do with the $2 mil you save, ahem).
Location: Hyde Park, London
always opt for their most expensive suite—actually you can’t opt for that because it’s priced at $222.8 million (£140 million, as if that makes a diﬀerence) and anyway, it’s already been sold to some Ukrainian guy.
two slippers rest throughout the day (unless you’re really neat, because then you can set the slippers side-by-side and ﬁt them both into the same square foot; and no, I do not want to know how much those slippers cost!).
Think about it for a second. At about $10,000 per square foot, you’d be paying 20 grand for the area on which your
LOL these ﬁne folks any bridges? Oh,
Has anyone thought of selling
you have? And they said “yes”? Cool!!!
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Location: Brasov, Romania
Viva La Leopolda
has been parked in the middle of Europe since the 13th century. This means it’s seen enough wars during its tenure that nothing really impresses it. Many of the world’s biggest (and baddest) took control of it throughout history. It was conquered by the Ottomans, the Nazis, the Mongols, and everyone in between. In the end it played host to the communists and it’s been relatively bored since the fall of communism. It’s believed have once been the home of Vlad the Impaler (names are usually earned, you know) and was the inspiration to Bram Stoker’s work of ﬁction, Count Dracula. But then along came some city boy (who happened to have inherited the piece of stone from his mother) and decided to sell it. For a meager $135 million it could be anyone’s to keep. Just $135 million for a piece of history like that? But then prospects arrived and began the bargaining process. “It’s not worth nearly as much,” said one. “Not even a quarter the price,” said another. “For $78 million, maybe,” opined a third. And all these conversations were taking place right in the humiliated castle. Hey you guys, the walls have ears, you know. Anyway, the fortress that has seen so much of history has since been reduced to the status of “local museum.” If only Bran Castle’s friends could see it now…
Location: French Riviera, France 19 bedrooms? Check! Twenty-seven towering stories? Check! Fifty full-time gardeners?! CHECK!!! Hmmm… what can a home such as this one be missing…? Oh, I know, a price tag of 750 million dollars! I think that anyone who wants that home badly enough that they’re ready to shell out $750 million can totally keep it. One ritzy French realtor explained that for “these people” you have to quote a ridiculously high price otherwise they’d never consider your oﬀer (and at this point I’d like to remind this realtor of my really expensive shed that’s most likely still on the market).
LOL lionaire, paid by check. Had he tried I hope the current owner, a Russian bil-
paying for it in rubles it would’ve probably buried France.
While the castle con17 bedrooms you won’t ﬁnd me sleeping in that broken-down, creepy castle any time soon. And anyway, it’s not like I can aﬀord it either.
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Broken O Will Break Your Bank Account
much would you pay to live in rural Montana? Better yet, how much would you pay to not have to live in rural Montana? Though, anyone with the kind of money to pay for the humongous ranch’s 120,000 acres probably has enough left over to aﬀord a nice apartment in any city across America. Owning the Broken O Ranch (no clue who thought of the name and no one bothered consulting me) will set you back some $132.5 million but will instantly make you the 89th biggest landowner in the US. The very obvious downside? It’s in the middle of Nowhere, Montana. Though, with so much empty land, how does one decide where exactly to build his sukkah? Then there’s the question of Chol Ha’moed. By
Location: Augusta, Montana
the time you reach the nearest Six Flags in California or Illinois, Chol Ha’moed will be long over; but never worry, there’s plenty of space for you to build your very own theme park on the grounds (just check with the local cattle ﬁrst if they’re okay with that). If you’re afraid the theme park won’t be complete by next Chol Ha’moed you can try any variation of boating down the 20-mile (32-km.) lake that rushes through the property. You can also go hunting, ﬁshing or some children’s personal favorite: do all of them on the same day and still complain about how bored you are.
LOL ing distance (or even driving
While this estate is not walk-
distance) from any shul, its premises are big enough to house its very own Jewish town (or three).
Location: Berkshire, England Location: Mumbai, India Oh, poor people… Poor them, am I right? It’s one thing to feel bad for the poor; it’s quite another to live together with them. Right in their neighborhood. And watch them on a regular basis. Out of a billion- dollar home! At least the staﬀ of 600 hired to maintain the joint aren’t poor. In the end the owner decided that he doesn’t enjoy peering at the poor that much and his billion-buck piece of work (parking lots, hanging gardens, helipads, and all) remains mostly vacant (not including the paid staﬀ ).
LOL bai Mansion towers The $1 billion Mum-
some 27 stories high, but not an inch more! Because one ﬂoor extra would’ve been a tad egotistical, you know what I mean?
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The Home that has More than Everything Yes,dollars
you’re right, for $218 million (£140 million) you’d expect your home to come equipped with absolutely everything of everything. And this mansion totally does. The estate comes with a 300-year-old history, its own river, and two golf courses. But that’s hardly all.
Seems like the manor is so popular, the owners are not the only ones living in it. According to age-old rumors this ancient mansion is inhabited by ghosts as well. Though, I can’t exactly prove that one way or another as none of the ghosts returned my calls asking them for information. Also, none of those ghosts had
phones in the ﬁrst place (on account that they probably don’t exist). So on whose answering machines have I been leaving all those messages?
LOL in old houses. If I ever became a I can’t ﬁgure out what ghosts see
ghost I’d look for a more modern place to “live” in.
rkshire, kshire, England
The House that can Swallow up All Others
Ever wondered what it would be like to swim in an outdoor, heated pool, in the middle of winter, when it’s 10 ºF (-12°C) outside? Lucky for you you’ll never know, because the Hala Ranch in Aspen, Colorado (with its heated pool and all), was last listed at $135 million. Yeah, there’s a funny story behind that too. The seller was asking for $135 million and the buyer oﬀered $49 mil. And they compromised, of course, sealing the deal at $49 million! The house boasts 15 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms and the grounds contain its very own stable (I’d be curious to see how the horses react to the winter), car wash (I’d love to see how horses react to the car wash) and ski trail (I’d be interested to see how the horses take to the chairlift) among other things (that I’m sure the horses would look hilarious trying out).
Location: Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
LOL lion some have mistakenly listed this 90-acre
While at its original asking price of $135 mil-
Go ahead, ask, “Where is that?!” This grand palace is located in the capital of Brunei, which is not far from Malaysia (wherever that is, right?). The opulent palace has been previously mentioned in Aim! in reference to the world’s biggest palace and a second time in reference to home of the world’s most expensive car collection. Now, if you think the city of Bandar Seri Begawan is a mouthful, that’s nothing compared to its grand palace: the biggest single-family home in the history of everything. This extravagant estate named Istana Nurul Iman can house every other rich palace listed here...in a corner…of one of its car garages.
ranch as the most expensive piece of real estate in the US—ha! Silly them—they’ve obviously forgotten about my backyard shed which I’ve put on the market for $87 billion (that’s “billion” with a “b”) but so far no one’s bought it yet.
Location: Aspen, Colorado
Just one example? The biggest of the 1,788 rooms can comfortably host over 5,000 people. Another example? The car collections in the garages are worth a combined $7 billion. The rest I leave entirely to your (and his) imagination.
LOL done. But in this case I’m done. I have nothing left to neiLaughter it’s all said and done…much more is said than
ther say nor do.
Going for a Spin in Aspen 25
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AS TOLD TO CHAYA SILBER
THE PERFECT SHOW
t all started on Erev Sukkos, as Gedalya and I were building our ﬂimsy little hut. In our old house last year, the sukkah had been located on our spacious, private porch. The nearest Jewish neighbor was old Mr. Krohn, who lived three houses away. We were able to sing, squabble, and get on each other’s nerves as much as we wanted. Not that we were the squabbling type of family. That started the day we moved, when everything ﬁnally fell apart.
The downward spiral began months before, with the ﬁrst blow our family received, when Totty got a pink slip. His company had downsized, which meant he was now redundant. These are just “buzzwords” that really meant no job, no money, a huge bill at the grocery, and no new shoes or summer clothes. Forget about summer camp, which I’d been looking forward to all year. Next came lots of meetings, late-night discussions when our parents thought we were asleep. Honestly, they frightened me. Who wants to move when you’ve lived on the same beautiful block since you were a baby, where every crack and blade of grass is like an old friend? Anyhow, nobody asked for my opinion. And there wasn’t much of a choice. Without a job, we couldn’t possibly pay the mortgage on our ﬁve-bedroom house in the nicest part of town. Totty spent most of the summer job hunting, and ﬁnally found part-time work as a salesman, for about half the salary he’d been earning. This meant we had to downsize before the bank threw us out. It was a miracle we’d found this ﬁxerupper, Mommy gushed, during a for-
mal family meeting where all the cards were laid on the table. It was in a busier section of town, with lots of old, crumbling homes wedged together on tiny properties. The way Mommy was going on and on about how cheap the house was, and how much money we’d save, you’d think we won the lottery. Our house was sold almost as soon as we put it on the market. And only a week before Rosh Hashanah, the moving truck came to pick up our stuﬀ and move it into the “dump” we bought on the other side of town. “Nothing will really change,” Mommy tried to assure us, as we walked around with long faces. “You’re still staying in the same schools, same friends, same everything.” Whom was she kidding? Nothing stayed the same. Try moving from a ﬁve-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a stunning, private backyard into a hovel with three bedrooms (plus one broom-closet room oﬀ the main ﬂoor), one and a half bathrooms (with a house of four girls), and almost no privacy, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. It’s a shame we had to move right before Yom Tov, when everyone is mostly home, getting on each other’s nerves. Mommy tried to cook up a storm, but the kitchen was so tiny and cluttered, she could only do one thing at a time. There was no room for Ricky and Suri to help her. In any case, they were so cranky, all they did was snap at each other. I think Mommy was almost relieved when they spent most of the day sulking in their room. It was a huge improvement over the explosions we’d been treated to the week before. The Yom Tov meals were not much better. Our huge dining room table, which had accommodated seven kids plus
two adults, didn’t ﬁt into the tiny dining room. We sold it and bought a secondhand table, meant for a young couple just starting out in life. When it became clear that only three-quarters of us could be seated at once, we ate the meals in two shifts. If I had to describe that Rosh Hashanah, it would be with one word: balagan. By the time Yom Kippur arrived, none of us were on speaking terms. Which was really ironic, considering what Yom Kippur was all about. Thankfully, most of us spent the day in shul. The ﬁghting continued right after havdalah. "Be positive," Totty said, when he came home after a half day of work and pored over the bills, trying to see which he could pay and which he could delay. "Be positive," Mommy said, when she made chicken cutlets instead of roast for Sukkos. "Be positive," they both said, when we tried to set up our mini-sukkah on the porch, wedged in between two of our neighbors. “Mommy, there’s no way we can eat our meals in the sukkah,” Gedalya announced, after two hours of trying to set up the secondhand sukkah we’d just bought. Our old one was, you guessed it, too big for our tiny porch, and so we had to give it away. “Why not?” Mommy asked sharply, wiping her hands on her apron. She’d spent hours in the tiny kitchen, try-
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ing to make decent meals without spending too much money, and all she heard was whining and complaints. I’d be going stir-crazy if I was her. Actually, I was going stir-crazy, just being me. I desperately needed some breathing space, a corner to call my own. “There’s no room to breathe,” he said. “Besides, we can’t even sneeze in the sukkah, because our lovely neighbors can hear every word.” Mommy came out to the sukkah, and the girls soon joined her. As we stood in the mini-hut, we could hear the Klein kids arguing about the decora-
the whole Sukkos to spend together. What will the neighbors think of us?” “Nothing. We won’t ﬁght in the sukkah,” I suddenly announced. “Huh?” Gila asked. “Why do the neighbors have to hear everything? I can pretend to like you guys just for the meals.”
“These people will be giving info about us when it comes to shidduchim,” Gila said. “We have to put our best foot forward.” “Good thing they won’t ask me info,” Suri said nastily. “’Cause then you’d be in real trouble.”
We didn’t discuss our intentions to behave civilly again until we actually sat in the sukkah, and then we didn’t need to. For we could clearly hear Mr. Klein’s baritone, and Mrs. Klein yelling at her kids to behave. The Bergers had guests who didn’t stop talking. We had no intentions of airing our dirty laundry in front of all these people.
“So I think we’ll serve the veal at the ﬁrst meal, and the roast duck during the daytime,” Mrs. Berger was saying. My mouth watered. Mommy seemed pained, and looked away. The contrast was just too stark. “Mommy, Chaim pinched meeeee...” One of the Klein kids, probably Izzy or Itzy or something like that, was screaming at the top of his lungs. His brother, who did the pinching, began to shout that it wasn’t his fault. I winced; did we really sound like that when we were ﬁghting? “So we’re not the only ones who have issues,” Ricky said primly, once we were safely indoors. “Yeah, right,” Suri mumbled. “But nobody has a sister as annoying as you.” “Girls.” Mommy looked close to tears. “Please, can you give it a rest? It’s only a day after Yom Kippur, and we’ve got
DID WE REALLY SOUND LIKE THAT WHEN WE WERE FIGHTING?
My siblings nodded in agreement.
And on that “cheerful” note, the ﬁghting continued.
tions, and the Bergers busy planning their menu.
REALLIFE real tweens
I looked at the faces of my family members, who’d been getting on each other’s nerves for weeks now, and marveled. We were all sitting around the rickety table in our tiny sukkah, calmly dipping our challah into hummus. “Pass the soda, please,” Ricky, the most annoying sister in the world, said in clipped, measured tones. “Coming right over,” I replied a bit abruptly, making sure my tone remained even. Mommy raised her eyebrows, then forced a smile. Totty ﬁnished his ﬁsh portion, and then began singing “Vesamachta Bechagecha,” his eyes pleading for us to join. I hesitated for only a second, and then enthusiastically chimed in. Gedalya, who’d claimed just that morning he was running away and never coming back, went soprano, while Totty and I stayed with the alto. “Nice job, Shimmy,” Totty said to me
when we were done. I modestly waved the compliment away. In any case, this was all just for show. “One for the money, two for the show,” Gila warbled, as if reading my thoughts. Mommy shot her a warning look. The song died on her lips. And so, by default, the sukkah became a stage. We were all in a play, acting on our best behavior, passing the salt and singing on key, saying divrei Torah like the perfect family. After the meals we loudly thanked Mommy for the delicious food, though the chicken cutlets tasted like rubber and I salivated for the Berger’s roast beef. The ﬁrst days of Sukkos passed. We were all relieved to move back into our crowded dining room for Shemini Atzeres, where we could act normal again. And we did—arguing and squabbling for a bit. But the heart and soul had gone out of our ﬁghting. It wasn’t nearly as pleasant as sitting quietly and acting civil, even if there were no nosy neighbors a few feet away. “Pass the hummus,” Ricky said on Simchas Torah, as we squeezed around the too-small table and tried to make it work. “Of course,” I said, like a robot, and then I winked at Ricky. She winked back. “No one’s listening,” said Gedalya. “I am,” I said. “Me too,” said Ricky. "Life's so much more pleasant this way." There were nods around the table. Then for the ﬁrst time in months, my family smiled broadly at each other.⊙
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(See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 651:11)
A lulav’s rings add a lot more than their price would suggest—they commonly go for a mere quarter! Most use 2 or 3, others use as many as 18. However many you use, never place them on the top tefach of the shidra—a common error people are not aware that they are making.
or 15.1 inches/38.4 cm. [Chazon Ish].
4 tefachim = 12.6 inches/32 cm. [R’ Chaim Noah]
You’ve got at least 4 tefachim? Kosher!
Make no bones about it: The backbone is most important to a lulav! The length of a lulav is determined by its shidra (backbone/spine), the central portion from which the leaves branch oﬀ. Take out that measuring tape; you should start measuring from the bottom where the ﬁrst two leaves branch oﬀ all the way to where the topmost leaves branch oﬀ.
We sure are fond of this frond. Yes, the lulav is an unopened frond, a fancy term for a large leaf divided into many sections. But not just any frond will do; a lulav is only kosher if it’s from a palm tree—and believe it or not, there are an estimated 2,500–3,500 different species. But you’re not drowning in choices—the frond you choose must be similar to the date palm (kapos tamarim).
Shidra ² 4 tefachim
If this is split, you should split: Ideally, the teyomes should be closed completely—even a slight split is not mehudar. Most importantly, it should not resemble a himnak, a Y-shaped utensil, which is pasul.
Here’s what to look for:
What’s keeping those men mesmerized as they scrutinize those lulavim? They’re checking out the twins! Each leaf of a lulav looks like two connected parts but is actually one, folded in two (known as teyomes, twins). You’ll notice it’s the middle (topmost) teyomes that concerns them.
Identical twins = thumbs up! Make sure one “twin” isn’t shorter than the other.
A cut won’t cut it—make sure the teyomes hasn’t
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Green market goods—from the black market: In the ﬁrst half of the twentieth century, the Deri lulav was one of the lulavim smuggled out of Iraq to Israel. In recent years, it’s become the most popular type because this durable frond meets all the requirements for beauty and halachah.
The Deri Lulav
Hold it right there: kesheklech/keshelch—lulav holders woven from palm leaves—fulﬁll the job of binding the lulav, hadasim and aravos together for beauty. (Kosheklach have been popular among Ashkenazim for the past few centuries, though many still use ordinary lulav leaves.) But however you arrange yours—the most popular method is three hadasim on the right, rising slightly above the two aravos on the left—be careful to ensure that there’s at least a tefach (3.2 inches/8 cm. or 3.8 inches/9.7 cm.) of bare “shidra” of the lulav left on top.
(See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 651:11)
Do you shake like a leaf while doing this great mitzvah? How about shaking the actual leaf? Sephardim perform the nanuim (waving of the lulav) by simply moving the frond back and forth. Ashkenazim will also gently shake the lulav at the same time— which is why many will not buy a lulav coated with a reddish-brown substance on its top. Called kora, it seals the frond, making it impossible for the sections to shake. Some Sephardim, on the other hand, actually prefer kora.
Hooked on hooks. Some purposely buy a lulav with a “kneppel” (button). That means the top bends downwards to create a hook-like shape. Most won’t look at a hook.
Note: The topic is too broad to cover completely. Consult your Rav for a complete halachic guide to Lulavim.
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ion t a n i t des ue
Esrog Grower By Shiffy Friedman
When you hold an esrog in your hand, and you take a deep breath to inhale its sweet fragrance, do you stop to think of the journey this piece of fruit endured until it reached the conﬁnes of your cozy sukkah?
is the founder and owner of Esrogei Gross, the popular Israel-based company that sells hundreds of thousands of esrogim every year. Despite the busyness of the season, Mr. Gross was kind enough to meet with me at his place for a guided tour of his beautiful esrog farm and warehouse so I can share with you the secrets of his ﬁeld.
When I enter Shmuel’s warehouse several weeks before Sukkos, I’m amazed at the sight that greets my eyes. Hundreds of boxes sporting Esrogei Gross logos are lined up neatly against the walls, taped and ready to be shipped.
“So early?” I ask in wonder. After all, we’re a full moon cycle away from Yom Tov. Shmuel’s eyes twinkle. I can see that esrogim are his passion. “These are coming with me to New York at the end of the week, where the vendors will start selling them very soon. I’ll never forget the very ﬁrst time I ventured across the globe with my wares.” He laughs, “I arrived with 200 pieces in a little suitcase. Only with the help and support of a kind uncle did I manage to sell them all.” Two hundred is a nice number, though, when I discover the magnitude of work invested in each one.
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Mr. Gross in his Esrogim Orchard.
the esrogim? The esrog process is much longer and more complicated than people perceive it to be. The trees that we plant this year will only be available for our use after three years’ time due to the mitzvah of orla. Then, we redeem the tree for use by separating what’s known as neta revai, the fourth seedling. Only after taking ma’aser, a tithe of the harvest, can we actually start using the esrogim for business.
Wow! That’s quite a long time!
How did you get into the business of esrog production? My father was a Holocaust survivor, a very pious Jew. After the war, he settled with his wife in a town called Hadera in northern Israel. The standard in those days was for people to plant trees in their backyard so they could enjoy the fruit and hopefully earn some much-needed money too, selling the produce. While most people planted pear and apple trees, my father decided to experiment with a fruit that’s an object of a mitzvah: the esrog. When the three little trees in his backyard bore fruit, he excitedly traveled to Jerusalem to deliver them to my brother’s rosh yeshivah in Yeshivas Chevron, and some other staﬀ members there. My father’s heart swelled with happiness from the marvelous feedback. These esrogim were literally the fruits of his labor! Thus, he started to plant some more trees in his backyard and he sold the fruits to neighbors and friends.
Were you involved? Even as a child, I took pleasure in farming, in experimenting with some seeds and water and watching my work reap fresh produce.
In 1987, as my father aged and his backyard was bursting from too many trees, my brother Yudah and I decided to buy a small plot of land nearby and expand the business. We sold the esrogim locally, and with the proﬁts we continued to branch out. Because they were honored that we were exporting Israeli goods to other countries, the Ministry of Agriculture contributed signiﬁcantly to our funds.
How’s the business today? Unfortunately, my only brother, Yudah, was tragically killed in a car accident only several years after we oﬃcially launched the business. Today, I work a lot with my oldest son, Yudah, who’s named after my brother. We own several esrog farms near Hadera and we sell our esrogim internationally. About ﬁve weeks before Sukkos, we ship over 100,000 esrogim by cargo plane to America, where they’re each stamped upon entry, as importing agriculture is generally prohibited. I wait to receive them and apportion them from my warehouse in Flatbush amongst the many esrog vendors there. We also sell our esrogim all over Europe and Israel.
During all this time, we nurture the trees by providing the perfect balance of sunlight, water, insecticides and fertilizer. Our sprinklers are used daily, their water drawn from one of our six wells around the ﬁelds. Mass production doesn’t work in this ﬁeld; every esrog must be treated individually. The workers have to tie every single esrog to its branch—if it comes in contact with thorns it can get ruined. About two to three months before cutting time, the workers sit and watch the esrogim, even during nighttime. We tend to each esrog with special care to ensure optimal results.
An Esrog tied to a branch.
When do you start planting
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a water pump connected to a well.
to measure its size: less than two is too small, three is perfect. Once the esrogim are classiﬁed in grades, they’re ready for the experts. Starting from the ﬁrst week of Elul, bodkim (examiners who are familiar with the halachos of esrogim) from America and Israel come to join our team. They sit over each esrog, conﬁrming its high level of kashrus by a special ﬂuorescent light and magnifying glass. This place looks like a bais midrash during that time!
Does every esrog that’s picked from the tree undergo this process? When does harvest time ﬁnally arrive?
You ask a good question. People don’t believe me when I tell them how many cartfuls of esrogim go to waste. Any esrog that’s not in per-
During the Three Weeks, the hottest time of year, we ﬁnally get to check out the results of several years’ toil. The workers start sifting through the hundreds of trees in search of ripe crop. While some trees give beautiful green fruit (they turn yellow later), others give none. Some trees produce too late, some too early. Because we can never foretell how our eﬀorts will pay oﬀ, we maintain huge ﬁelds so the supply is abundant.
fect shape lands in the dump truck, whether it’s too small, too large, too misshapen, etc. Even from the ones that are plucked from the trees, for every esrog that
Special Service Mr. Gross makes sure to cater to the needs of all his clients, especially those who have very speciﬁc needs. “Did you know that every chassidus prefers its esrog to be a speciﬁc shape?” he asks me. I shake my head, no. “We pack special boxes for Bobov, Belz and Skver,” he says proudly. For the chassidim of Skver, Esrogei Gross is especially distinctive: their Rebbe’s esrog is handpicked from their farm. “Every year, during Elul, emissaries from the Skver court spend several days at our company, poring over hundreds of esrogim, ﬁrst for their Rebbe, then for their benefactors, and also for the other chassidim. It’s a unique honor for me.”
What happens to an esrog once it’s cut? Because it needs to be handled with much care, every esrog is placed into a tray with special esrogshaped indentations. From the ﬁeld, the workers bring the crops into a designated washing area, where each piece is delicately scrubbed and cleaned.
checking the esrogim.
Next comes the fun part: grading. At our company, we set up a ranking system to determine the value of each esrog. The workers were taught to distinguish between three diﬀerent shapes and sizes, classifying the piles of esrogim accordingly. As part of the process, they place two ﬁngers on the widest part of the esrog
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we do sell, there’s at least one that doesn’t reach the market.
The chemical lab.
Who does the work in the ﬁelds, especially in the heat of the summer? Of course, I’m very involved in every step of the process. We have a large team of Thai workers who live here in caravans that we maintain all year just so they can be present at harvest time. Because they’re coming from a humid climate, the extreme humidity here doesn’t bother them at all. In wintertime, they work for my friend who sells ﬂowers, and in the summer they’re here full time. My grandchildren love to come too—but not to work! I especially have a barn of animals so when they visit they have live company.
How do you ensure that the prized esrogim remain fresh until their use several weeks later? In our warehouse laboratory, we ex-
boxes are shipped out to esrogim sellers .
Not Just a
After we ﬁnish a tour of the ﬁelds, Shmuel takes us into his warehouse. I spot a sign on the door oﬀ the main room, its header proclaiming, “Kollel…” A kollel in an esrog warehouse? periment with various chemicals in order to create the ideal blend for long-lasting, beautiful results. Once the concoction is ready, the workers dip each one individually, and then the esrogim are ready for refrigeration to prolong their freshness.
Are some years better than others in regards to the crops?
“Yeah, you’re seeing right,” Shmuel laughs when he notes my confusion. “There’s a real kollel in that room. Budding talmidei chachamim come every day from nearby Hadera to learn here.” I ask Shmuel how this interesting phenomenon came to be.
Every year is the best yet! The climate in Israel is quite predictable so I can’t say that one year was signiﬁcantly better or worse. Baruch Hashem, we don’t have the destructive storms that American farmers often complain about.
“One day, I was driving in the village right outside my ﬁeld when I spotted a frum young man sitting under a tree— a very unusual sight. I stopped my tractor and asked him what brought him here. He told me he had recently undergone open-heart surgery and was required to walk several miles every day. After his long walk from Hadera, he took a break to learn in the village.
However, the commercial highway that’s being constructed now over one of the ﬁelds is deﬁnitely wreaking destruction there. The constant pollution and heavy construction dust are ruining the trees, and I’m bothered by that.
“So I asked him, ‘Why do you come to this barren village? Come sit in my place.’ He came, and he liked the atmosphere very much. Eventually, he brought a group of friends and the kollel has been ﬂourishing since then. I’m sure that the success we see here is due to the merit of supporting and hosting this special kollel.”
You say your crops are beautiful every year. Does that mean you have the most exquisite esrog every Sukkos? (Laughs.) You know what they say— a shoemaker wears torn shoes. But, I put my soul into my work so every esrog that I sell is really mine.
It’s a pleasure to see how you enjoy the toil
that gives thousands the opportunity to perform this special mitzvah! What can be better than that? It’s not easy, especially due to the time-bound pressure it engenders, but deﬁnitely worthwhile. Next time you look at an esrog, you’ll know that it’s not just another piece in a pile. It’s special, an investment of several years especially for you! ⊙
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IfBubbies you ask my little brother Ari how many he has, he’ll say three. Which is sort of true—
there’s Bubby Mendlowitz in Miami, Bubby Reinman in Vienna, and then there’s Poor Tanta Maidy. (When I was a kid I thought Poor Tanta Maidy was her real name because that’s how the grown-ups always referred to her.) Poor Tanta Maidy’s only son was nogoodnik Hershel who’d moved far away from his mother to LA, leaving his mama no choice but to adopt us, her great-nieces and nephews, as honorary grandkids. Which was fine with me hadn’t been able to spare me during such when it came to getting a deluxe set of Ruma busy season, but there was no mikub every year for Chanukah (the gift choice. Tanta Maidy had been feelnever changes, we have eight of them ing poorly; her arthritis was acting last I counted,) but was not fine at up. She couldn’t do simple chores like washing dishes and taking out all when it meant I had to go the garbage. to her for Sukkos.
By Chaya Silber
t a s w o ad
Go Sh l
c r A e s n e d
(Poor) Tanta Maidy had moved to a retirement community last year after Uncle Pinchy was niftar. She seemed to enjoy it, and described afternoons playing Bingo with her friends, drinking tea, and exchanging pictures of cute “grandkids.” Fun, fun, fun. But soon her enthusiastic descriptions petered out, replaced by constant complaining. Every bone in her body seemed to be giving her trouble.
“Suri should be the one to go,” I complained as soon as I heard the news that I had to go to her for Sukkos. “She and Tanta Maidy would get along very well. They both love to kvetch.” “Mommy, Gitty’s being annoying. When is she gonna grow up?” Suri sang her well-rehearsed song. Mommy sighed. “Gitty and Suri, please stop squabbling. I don’t have time for this now. Gitty, I need help with the ironing. Suri, you do the dishes.” “She always gets the easier job,” I grumbled. “Wanna change?” asked Suri. I took one look at the sink and changed my mind. Suri laughed.
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“Really. Suri gets along much better with Tanta Maidy. Let her go,” I wheedled as I headed for the ironing board. Mommy sighed again. “Sorry, Gitty, but that won’t work. You’re going and that’s ﬁnal. You might enjoy yourself, it’s a beautiful place.”
reply. “Maybe if she really likes it she can stay all year.” I ran out of my room and gave him a decent pinch. Naturally, Moish yelled like a hyena. He always does that, the sneak. He makes disgusting comments and then acts outraged when he gets what he deserves.
Tanta Maidy’s retirement community was aptly named Golden Acres. It was “Act your age, not your shoe size,” Suri a high-class, upscale place, meant for said. “When are you planning to grow up?” seniors ages 65 and up. Children were welcome only on weekends, and no “Eventually,” I said. “I’ve got plenty of children below 12 were allowed overtime, which is more than I could say night. about you.” Suri’s “on the market” and “I’m so jealous of you, Gitty,” my BFF, has been dating for some time. Chassi, sighed. “Going away for Sukkos. Mommy said nothing, just gave me one Tons of peace and quiet. It sounds like of those looks. Toby had run oﬀ ; I’d take a dream.” care of her another time. “Make it a nightmare. Tanta Maidy is my Come to think of it, I was glad to be gogreat-aunt and I love her, but she can ing away for a bit. The atmosphere at be, er, I don’t want to talk lashon hara... home, the non-stop squabbling, crylet’s just say it won’t be a walk in the ing and noise had been getting on my park.” nerves. It seemed like all we could do was ﬁght. By contrast, Tanta Maidy’s “But you can still have a good time. You said they have a heated pool, with sep- house was like a museum, with no signs of life. In fact, the entire retirearate men’s and women’s hours, and hiking trails, squash courts, a lake...” ment center was breathtaking, with quaint cottages dotting the manicured Chassi sounded like she was reading grounds. from a brochure. “I wish I could change places with you.” *** Yeah, right. “Gitty!” Tanta Maidy opened her arms for a hug. I was struck by how tired she I wasn’t a very happy camper as I packed looked. She’d deﬁnitely aged since the my suitcase on erev Sukkos, trying not to crease my new clothes. My siblings, last time I saw her. “How was your ride? though, were thrilled. They certainly You’re probably hungry. Let me get you something to eat.” made no secret of their feelings. “Imagine. Eight whole days without Gitty’s biting sarcasm,” Toby crowed to Moish. “Can’t wait.” “It’s more like ten days, if you count Erev Yom Tov and the day after,” I heard him
That, at least, hadn’t changed. Tanta Maidy still loved feeding people. Not that I needed much convincing to nosh; I’d gained ten pounds and grown two inches in the past year.
“You want to eat in public, in a cold sukkah in the middle of the street, when we can be cozy at home?"
But other things sure had changed. Tanta Maidy couldn’t clean the apartment herself, and had a cleaner come in twice a week. The groceries were delivered, she explained, because it was too complicated for her to go to the supermarket. And then there were the subtle changes. Tanta Maidy had always been interested in new experiences and loved to meet new people. Now she seemed to be hibernating in her apartment, with the shades down, afraid of her shadow. And where was the sukkah? “The sukkah? Why would I need a sukkah?” Tanta Maidy looked at me quizzically. “There are no men here with us.” “Still, it feels so...it doesn’t really feel like Yom Tov without a sukkah,” I said. “Can’t we eat in the communal sukkah? You know, the one they built for the entire community?” Tanta Maidy opened her eyes wide, horriﬁed at the suggestion. “You want to eat in public, in a cold sukkah in the middle of the street, when we can be cozy at home? Besides, who’ll schlep the food?” “B-b-but—”
She ﬁrmly shook her head. “If you insist, we’ll eat the ﬁrst kezayis of challah in the sukkah, even though Uncle Yiddy says I don’t have to. And then let’s enjoy a very nice meal right here, in the dining room.” Sukkos night was pretty disappointing. First we headed to the communal sukkah, which was crowded with families. I noticed, with dismay, that Tanta Maidy barely spoke to anyone, except for an occasional half-hearted “Gut Yontiﬀ.” I’d been expecting to be introduced to all
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the new friends she spoke about, but no one seemed interested.
at home, while I have seven siblings), we had lots in common. Our love of the outdoors. Sense of fashion style. Wry observations on life. Frustration with school. Yada yada yada.
you indoors. Can you help me roll the dough? My poor back is aching.”
It was with a heavy heart that we “Tanta Maidy, baking isn’t meant for strolled home to eat the rest of the someone with arthritis,” I said, clenchmeal. Tanta Maidy had baked a deliing my ﬁsts in frustration. I’d been gocious roast, with sweetened yams and “Gitty, come inside. Quickly.” I heard ing out of my box from boredom. Why my Tanta Maidy call as we passed her shallots, and we enjoyed homemade was she taking away my only friend? place. apple strudel for dessert. We made small talk, Tanta Maidy asking about And who needs a homemade kokosh Her voice was fretful. It was the voice my siblings and school stuﬀ. After the dough in 2013? The bakeries are, like, she used when she wasn’t feeling meal I helped clear the table, and we loaded with delicious cakes. There well, when her arthritis ﬂ ared up. went to bed. was an upscale one, called Petit Fours, “Coming, Tanta Maidy!” I called, sighnear Tanta Maidy’s retirement comThe ﬁrst days of Yom Tov stretched ing heavily. Chayale, my newfound munity as well. “Why don’t you buy endlessly before me, long afternoons friend, mock-groaned in dismay. cake?” with virtually nothing to do. Tanta Maidy stayed home from shul the ﬁrst “See ya later,” Chayale said, as she “As if I would serve store-bought turned to go back to her grandparents’ morning, which I found strange. She cakes!” She shook her head in disgust place, a ﬁve-minute walk. claimed she had a headache. at the mere thought. By the second day of Chol Hamoed “Right. Later.” I walked into the sunny “What’s so bad about bakery cakes?” I granite kitchen, where Tanta Maidy I was going stir-crazy. When Tanta dared ask. was hunched at the counter, rolling Maidy went to nap after lunch I told her I was going for a walk. I mean- out a kokosh dough. It was the second “What’s so bad? What’s so bad?” She turned to me with anger. “Does your dered around the perimeter of Gold- day of Chol Hamoed, and she hadn’t mother ever buy bakery cake?” left the house yet, except to take out en Acres, until I ﬁnally met a girl my the garbage. Unbelievable. own age. I could have cried with joy. Um, yes. But now I wasn’t going to tell her that. Anyway, I had more imChayale was short and petite, a dark- “Where were you? I was looking for portant things to discuss. “Why can’t I you all over.” Tanta Maidy sounded haired powerhouse wearing a pretty hang out with Chayale Schmidt?” annoyed. silver sweater. She was sitting idly in the front of an upscale cottage, ap- “Outside, with Chayale. She’s a kid my “Could you bring me the sugparently much larger than the one ar?” age.” Tanta Maidy owned. “What’s her last name?” Her eyes nar- “Tanta Maidy…” I “Hi, my name is Gitty,” I said, suddenly tried my luck rowed suspiciously. eager and shy. “Are you new here?” again ten min“Schmidt. You know, the Schmidts utes later as we “Uh-huh. I’m visiting my grandparents from the other side of your comcarefully ﬁlled for Sukkos. My parents are in Eretz munity? The ones with the beautiful the dainty triYisrael, staying with my married sister house?” angles with a and her kids. There was no room on mixture of bakthe plane so they shipped me here.” Tanta Maidy’s face darkened. “I thought so,” she muttered. “Gitty, lis- ing chocolate She giggled, and I wondered what the ten carefully. Don’t you dare talk to and pudding, truth was. her again.” her special Within a few minutes we were ram“secret” recipe. bling around Golden Acres and talk- “Why not?” I was shocked at her anger. “Yes?” Tanta ing like old friends. Aside from our “What’s wrong with Chayale?” Maidy was disfamily situations (she was the young- “I don’t want to discuss it,” Tanta tracted by a est of four siblings, and the only one Maidy said. “Just stay away. I want stubborn piece
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“I thought you were so happy in Golden Acres. But you aren’t talking to a soul.” of dough. “What do you have against the Schmidts?”
Like the landscaping, and the pool hours, and when they should open the game room. Things like that. But Sandra wanted the job, and she’s friends with Erica, the manager’s wife, so of course she got her way.”
The eﬀect was immediate. Tanta Maidy sat up straight and gasped as she felt a shooting pain. “Oy, my back,” “What did the manager tell you?” I was she cried. “Get me an Advil, please.” very curious by now. “Sure. But please, tell me what’s wrong. “He just said sorry, the job was taken. Chayale is the only other kid my age But of course I ﬁgured it out, and in Golden Acres. How will I survive when I met Sandra at the pool, just without talking to a soul?” before Rosh Hashana, I told her she Tanta Maidy was silent for a few mo- had some nerve to do this to me, bements, as she swallowed two Advils fore the heilige teg. We had a little arwith water, washed her trembling gument, and I said I don’t want to talk hands, and hobbled over to the re- to her again. And she said she feels cliner. I sat next to her, patting her the same way, so now we don’t talk. hand, waiting for her to calm down. And of course, all her friends are takFinally, she spoke. ing her side.” Tanta Maidy was bitter and defeated. “The nerve of Sandra Schmidt. She dares go behind my back, all sneaky, and tells the manager not to give me the job.” “Which job? I didn’t know you have a job.”
“Tanta Maidy, that is so childish.” “Sandra is like a small child,” Tanta Maidy responded. “Petty and full of anger. And of course, everyone listens to her because she has the keys to the pool and the game room and the exercise room. If she's not talking to me, no one dares to come close. Not even to ask how my back is treating me.”
Tanta Maidy waved me away. “Not a real job. Just “So that’s why you haven’t been going like, an out,” I realized. “I thought you were so honor. You happy in Golden Acres. But you aren’t know? They talking to a soul.” wanted me “No one wants anything to do with me,” to become Tanta Maidy whispered, wiping away a the Representear. “Except for Gladys Hershkowitz, tative of the but she’s away for Sukkos. I think I’m Community, the going for a nap now.” one who comes As Tanta Maidy rested, I paced her to the meetings and helps make the deci- apartment, feeling sorry and desperate all at once. I didn’t want to spend sions.” the rest of Yom Tov as a virtual pris“What kind of decisions, oner, unable to talk to Chayale. BeTanta Maidy?” Now this sides, the whole situation was totally was intriguing. pathetic. The politics and squabbling “Diﬀerent things.
was ridiculous. Why couldn’t everyone just grow up? That sounded awfully familiar. Suri yelled 'Grow up' at me at least once a day. But they were grown-up! With a start, I suddenly realized that my behavior at home—and at school—wasn’t that diﬀerent than the people here. Toby made a snide comment and I responded with a biting retort. Moish raided my supplies drawer and I pinched him. My friend Chassi made arrangements to study with someone else, and I gave her the silent treatment for two days. In the back of my mind, I’d always thought that I was just a kid. I had plenty of time to become a diﬀerent person. I deﬁnitely wouldn’t be picking ﬁghts with my sibs 20 years from now. Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure. The bitter truth dawned on me, clear as the glorious sunshine outside, solid as the wall Tanta Maidy had erected between herself and the neighbors. If I wouldn’t make the eﬀort to work on my character now, when I was 15, what could I hope for at 70? I certainly didn’t want to be involved in schoolyard spats, or Golden Acres politics, at that golden age. I checked on Tanta Maidy, who was still sleeping soundly. So I tiptoed outside and ran down the block. Despite Tanta Maidy’s warnings, I needed to talk to Chayale. I knew she’d see things my way. Together, we’d think of a plan to restore peace between the two women we loved. And once that was done…well, in just a couple of days I’d have the chance to make some more things right. ⊙
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I just said it was none of our faults! Then again, if I roll up my sleeve I could prove the impetus for the idea came from Etty. Yes, I know it’s against the school’s dress code. You’ll just have to take me on my word that I have a nice arrangement of yellowing black-and-blue marks on my arm, courtesy of Etty’s tendency to pinch when she gets overexcited.
Oh please, impetus shmimpetus, you wanted this just as much as I did.
Can you blame me? We were going to achieve fame and fortune.
Look at the bright side: We ended up with the fame part. That’s one out of two.
Call me materialistic, but I’d rather have had the fortune. And not to get too technical, we ended up with infamy, not fame.
E. Tyrnauer & P. Katz Portion to ��ed�k��
Filmed in Monsey
Approved by esteemed mechanchos
By Esther Braver
I guess when it really comes down to assessing culpability, you could blame Etty for the whole mess. Though it’s none of our faults, really.
G� ��ea� . Bl��� �� . A� i� i� wa��’� ��� ��� i�ea�.
Etty Same diﬀerence. Tammy Okay, okay. We’re getting to the point. The idea struck us this past Chol Ha'moed. We were sitting in a darkened auditorium, along with like a thousand other bored people clutching goody bags, watching a ﬁlm called “Paris Dreams.” It was directed by S. Weinstein and ﬁlmed in Paris and Eretz Yisrael. Half the story supposedly took place in Paris, but that half mysteriously was only ﬁlmed from the inside of an apartment, which could’ve been located in Timbuktu or Brooklyn.
Etty The only part we knew for sure was Paris was some stills of the Eiﬀel Tower during the opening credits. Tammy
Anyway, as I was watching, I suddenly recalled— right in the middle of Act 2—that the ad for the aforementioned ﬁlm said, “Approved by mechanchos.” But it struck me then that for some reason these mechanchos chose to remain anonymous. Tremendous humility? Maybe. But then in Act 3, precisely in middle of a scene involving a lot of crying, it hit me: I’d bet those mechanchos were 18-year-old sem grads with second-grade teaching positions!
And that’s exactly what Tammy turned and told me.
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It was in middle of some scene in Paris (there was a picture of the Eiﬀel Tower tacked on the apartment wall, which was how we knew). Hey! Come to think of it, the impetus actually came from you!
Could you stop assigning blame? None of us are to blame—remember? So Etty pinches my arm and is like, “No way!” The auditorium was dark but we looked at each other and we just knew we were thinking the same thing. I mean, it was so obvious! We could totally make a ﬁlm ourselves! Hey, we even knew a mechaneches to give the ﬁlm the green light, Etty’s older sister. She can be bribed with chocolate to do most anything.
Etty She attends half-day sem in the morning and teaches third-grade parshah in the afternoon, which makes her a mechaneches in anyone’s books. Tammy
And as Etty knew from a summer of heavy borrowing, I totally have an amazing digital camera. The plan was so simple: We’d write a script, shoot a ﬁlm and then cart home a huge load of cash. We personally had paid 20 dollars each to watch “Paris Dreams,” and there were like, thousands of people in the audience. The ﬁlm was being shown every night of Chol Ha'moed in tons of places. Do the math. That’s like a bajillion greenbacks.
Etty And it’s not like we were full of pure greed.
Just like “Paris Dreams,” we would donate a “portion to tzedakah.” (One percent? Twenty? Half of a
half? S. Weinstein, you are a woman of mysteries.)
Etty Sukkos was not the right time for a business proposal, so we put the idea aside till the end of Yom Tov. We planned the script during bookkeeping class. Mrs. Demner, loves assigning us into pairs to add and subtract columns of accounts payable and receivable. Tammy She says it is vital knowledge—which it may very well be—for most. Since Etty and I did not intend to be bookkeepers, considering the fact that we were about to come into a large amount of money, we ditched the numbers and planned the script instead. Come to think of it, if we were assigning blame here, Etty’s name is coming up again. I have the notes scribbled on the back of the bookkeeping worksheet right here as evidence. That’s Etty’s not-very-legible handwriting. storical story. It ha s to be a hi shows are. All the good slide T�� H�loc�us�? sach 20 09, Bloody Hopes, Pe y an d Eret z Filmed in German W. Friedby Yisrael. Directed ted meno by man . Approved chan chos .
? T�� In��i�i�i�� ion s, Sukkos Fiery Expectat Spain an d 2010, Filmed in rected by Y. Eret z Yisrael. Di oved by esHaimowitz . Appr hos. teemed mechanc
Sh�bs�� T��� ?
Shat tered H opes, Sukkos 2 0 08, Film ed in Pola nd an d Eret z Yi srael. Directe d by H. Lindne r. Approved by distin guished mechanchos. H��, I �us� �e����e� ��� "P��i� D�e�m �" �e�h���ho� ha� n� a��ec��� e�! T��� ���� �u s� “�e�h���ho�,” �� es����e� �� ��e� . Y�� ����� ���� �h��l�’�� �� ��� u� � �i �c��n�? ��L. Focus. What’ s left? C�usa�e�?
So the Crusades it would be.
As you’ve just proven, the Crusades was actually your idea.
Who’s blaming anybody? The Crusades was a great choice. The story practically wrote itself.
Etty It was about a girl who somehow gets separated from her twin sister during the Crusades. Each one would think the other one had died until they met up with each other and sang an emotional song together. It was going to be perfect. Tammy
We’re telling you this conﬁdentially. The story is still our intellectual property; we might still use it for something. Anyway, we planned it all out in one bookkeep-
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ing lesson. Mostly. We didn’t have the patience to start writing a gazillionpage script; we were too eager to get to the fun part: the ﬁlming. We were going to ﬁgure out the tiny details as we went along. Since we intended to star in the ﬁlm too, that would be easy enough. So we went straight to ﬁlming Scene 1. The ﬁlming was going to take place in Etty's house, on a Sunday, coincidentally the same day each week her family visits her grandmother one state over.
Etty We’d start outside, the Crusader would burst through the door holding a dagger. He’d go to the basement. I have this old sewing machine there, that’s like attached to this base and looks ancient. I was going to sit there, sewing a dress, when the Crusader would walk in. We prepared a huge pot of fake blood. The Crusader would take his dagger, hit me, and blood would come spurting out. I’d fall to the ﬂoor and he’d think I was dead. Only I wouldn’t be. I’d simply be wounded. Tammy
Before you think this was some amateur, not historically accurate project, please be aware that the house was built in 2011, but we only intended to show the actual door. It’s wooden. The Europeans had wooden doors, according to primary sources. It was perfect.
Etty At least it would’ve been perfect, if not for Mrs. O’Leary from across the street. She’s been quoted as saying, “I was always crazy over the sweet dear.” But rest assured she’s never liked me. Not since I was two and hugged her garden gnome so hard it broke. Tammy
Etty and I had everything planned to a T, but we didn’t plan on Mrs. O’Leary.
Etty No one could plan for her. Tammy Lest you think we were nuts for doing this alone, you should know we were considering involving other girls in the ﬁlm. I mean, we’re both very talented but we did know we couldn’t play every single part.
But Tammy wanted us to have
some footage to show our friends before we invited them to take part. She was afraid otherwise they’d die laughing at the idea.
It has happened before. The laughing at our ideas. So Scene 1. I was wearing this black cape kind of thingy, I was wearing a mask, and I was holding this giant dagger that we picked up from the costume store and kept the tags on. They said if we returned it in 24 hours in impeccable condition we could get half our money back.
Etty FTR, we lost the money. Tammy So Etty was kind of
following behind, ﬁlming me and it was going very well. Then I suddenly see Racheli Davis. And even though we’re doing something awesome and one day we’re going to be rich and famous and all that, I could totally see how a casual observer could think we were a bit “oﬀ,” videoing each other in costume. So fear that Racheli was going to see us spurred me to pull Etty inside. Etty was protesting a bit because she said I said originally we needed to have several takes of every scene. But she was not the one wearing a Crusader costume, so her opinion was overruled.
You were actually wearing a mask, so if anyone should’ve had a say it was me.
Whatever. So down we went to the basement, where we commenced ﬁlming the dagger-stabbing part.
We put the camera on top of the bookshelves and Tammy had a little too much fun poking me with that giant plastic menace. It was purely professional and very realistic—I had pouches of blood in my shirt that burst with each poke.
But then an argument erupted about whether or not there was too much blood. Like, could somebody lose that much blood and still live? It was crucial that the answer be yes, but we were both unsure. I’m a stickler for accuracy and all that—hey, I laid out the money for the Crusader
costume—which I did not get back, but even I began to think this was over the top. Hey, we needed a mechaneches giving her approval, not a science teacher. It was ﬁne. But Etty started to argue and say no ﬁlm directed by E. Tyrnauer was going to be inaccurate. Passions were running high when I slipped and fell on my face. One of the ingredients of the fake blood was syrup. Since there was no point in further ﬁlming I gave in, peeled oﬀ the costume, and we both went upstairs to look through the many books Etty’s brother Chaim has. The guy is a genius and collects science books.
Etty A mad genius. His room is a wreck. We had to like, dig our way through piles of smelly socks in our search for a book with something to say about blood loss. Tammy
We ﬁnally found something about blood, but it had like, three million pages of insanely high vocabulary and we were just about ready to despair. We were sitting on the ﬂoor surrounded by tomes. When suddenly it happened.
Etty The most frightening episode of my life. Tammy
Agreed. The most frightening episode of my life too. Bar none. We were both suddenly grabbed from the back and lifted up in the air! I think my heart stopped for a second and then I started screaming like a banshee.
Etty And I looked up into the eyes of some huge scary guy and I promptly fainted. Tammy
I’m kicking and screaming, and Etty’s eyes are lolling and the guy is carry us right out of the house. We were being kidnapped! The kidnappers were saying something to us but I couldn’t hear a thing over my own screams.
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"I had pouches of blood in my shirt that burst with each poke. It was frighteningly realistic" Etty When I came to, we were exiting my front door. I remember wondering if this was the last I’d ever see of my home. Tammy
Then I see the block is full of people. I’m shouting for people to help me but the assemblage erupts in cheers!
The situation was so strange I was not sure at that point if I was actually conscious.
That’s when it hits me. The guys carrying me are in uniform.
The crowd was cheering, but some people were gasping in horror. Som rushed towards us but the police was shouting: “Stand back. The scene is not yet secured.”
That’s when the realization dawns. The police thought they’d rescued us from some kind of peril! I looked down at my redstained top and I realize the crowd’s been gasping because they think I’m covered in blood. Meanwhile, Etty’s eyes are still rolling in her head.
I guess I fainted again, because the next thing I know I’m in an ambulance. Tammy’s saying, “This is one big mistake,” as two policewomen sit down beside us and medics surround us. The ﬁrst thing everyone realizes in all this hullaballoo is that the red substance we’re smeared with is not actually blood.
That’s when it ﬁnally starts dawning on the brave SWAT team that they haven’t just performed a bold rescue.
So basically here’s what happened. As mentioned previously, it was all Mrs. O’Leary. She must be blessed with an insane imagination. She called the police, shouting hysterically that a masked intruder had pulled at least one hostage into the house. She also said the intruder was shouting, “You Jews are all going to die,” which was totally not true.
The truth is that I did shout, “Death to the Jews,” as I burst into the door. It was a brilliant improvisation. But that was before I was dragging Etty in; she was still ﬁlming at that point.
Etty Instead of writing her oﬀ as the neighborhood nuisance, a SWAT team was summoned to rescue the hostages. They surrounded the house, and using special binoculars, found what seemed to be a large pool of blood on the basement ﬂoor. Tammy
I told you it was a realistic fake-blood recipe! In the meantime, the media arrived. It was a slow news day; apparently a crew had been over in the local park ﬁlming a story about geese overpopulation on the lake when they heard of the hostage situation. Mrs. O’Leary got her ten minutes of fame describing to every reporter in town what she’d seen happen to the poor sweet dear who was probably dead by now.
Etty It must’ve been a huge disappointment when I turned out to be alive. Tammy
So, anyway, the team ended up ﬁnding the two of us alone in an upstairs room which was in shambles and “rescued us.” The brave souls still planned to take out the bad guy.
They found his clothes in a pile of fake blood at the exact minute they were duly informed he never actually existed.
Etty The medics kind of threw us out of the ambulance after that. They were so disappointed. Tammy
I almost felt bad for them that there was no intruder.
Etty There actually were intruders. The policemen. I nearly died when they “rescued” me. Tammy
I guess they were itching for an arrest, because then they almost arrested us for wasting police time. Even though it was totally not our fault!
Etty That’s when we started crying hysterically. They still took us to the police station though. They had to interview us for their oﬃcial reports. Tammy
They put us into two separate rooms and grilled us for hours. Our stories must’ve matched up properly ’cause they ended up letting us go.
Etty So that’s why we couldn’t study for our math test last night, Mrs. Reichman. We told you it’s a long story. Tammy
We got back from the police station too late to review geometry. Hey, the period’s almost over! Sorry we wasted this much class time, but you did ask. ⊙
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DOVY WAS TOO TIRED
TO SEE THE STARS
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BY DINA NEUMAN
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"HE KNEW THAT THINGS BEING COMPLICATED WAS WHY HE WAS SITTING ALONE, STARING UP AT SUKKAH WALLS THAT SEEMED TO TOUCH THE SKY, WITH A POCKETFUL OF USELESS NAILS." 44 Issue 136.indd 44
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Epˆ˙˘ ˛ e 136 ˜° ˛ ˝ ˙˙° ˆ˙˝˝ ˇ˙˘ n
G˘ ˘ ˛ bye, H˘ ffmans
Testing. Testing. Can’t this mike be made louder? (Screeching sounds.) Perfect. Where’s my script? Here we go. After 135 episodes, it’s time to bid goodbye to our friends at Hoﬀman’s Hotel. They may make some guest appearances here and there, but they will no longer be showing up every week. Here to bid you goodbye are Dina, Eli, Shimmy and all their lovable friends. That’s it? That’s the whole script? No words on the interviewer? Let me append: Here to do the interviewing is the one and only me, the lovable and multi-talented Aim! mascot— Okay, okay. I’m getting on with it. So. (Throat-clearing sound.) What’s your favorite part about living in a hotel, Dina? Dina: Should I answer into the mike? Neh, that won’t be necessary. Mike stays right here with me. Dina: Okay. Probably the fact that
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I have a bunch of friends living here with me. Like, it must be real boring to live in a house with just your family. Lany: But you used to live like that. Dina: That was a really long time ago. I forgot what it was like. It must be really hard to have to get vaccines by yourself, swim by yourself— Leah’le: Most people don’t have pools in their basements. Dina: Go in the elevator by yourself— Chany: My, my Dina. You’ve really forgotten what regular people live like. Dina: That’s what I just said. Who would I play dolls with without you guys? Leah’le: Dina! We all promised to keep that a secret! Dina: Oops. I guess ﬁghting with yourself is tough too.
M°, my Din˝. Y˘ u’ve reall° fo go ten wh˝ egul˝ people live like. now about my many accomplishments, though I am available post-interview to sign autographs. So, Shimmy, what’s it like to live in the hotel? Shimmy! Give me back my mike! Here we go. Dina: Shimmy! Be a good boy. So what’s it like to live in a hotel? Shimmy: What hotel? Dina: He’s asking how you like living in the hotel. Shimmy: Shimmy lives in house. So what’s it like to live in your house?
Kalmy: Kalmy wants mike! Dina: Everyone will have a turn. Now speak nicely to the reporter. Shimmy: Shimmy like Shimmy house. Gimme mike. Sorry, kid, the mike is for authorized personnel only. Namely me. Hey, give me back that mike! Dina: You’re no match for Shimmy. Here we go. Gotta keep my grip on this. Any goodbye message for all your fans? Eli: Goodbye. Dina: That’s it?! I hate goodbyes. I don’t want to say goodbye. Shimmy! (Pounding sounds.) Shimmy! Give me back that mike! Shimmmmmmmy!!! The End
Shimmy: Shimmy wants mike.
Young ladies, I think we’ve gone oﬀ track here. So, boys, what’s your take on living in a hotel? Eli: It’s fun. Dina: That’s all you have to say? Eli: It’s very nice. What’s it like to be a mascot? What was it like to meet the president? Did you meet any other important people? Avi: You met the president?! Chaim: Super-cool! I’m here on oﬃcial business, boys. Unfortunately my boss won’t allow me to talk right
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Yael is hired by Naomi Hillman to search for her daughter, Malky, the third girl to disappear from her school. Yael goes undercover in the school and decides Mrs. Brodie, the principal is a suspect. She breaks into her house and ﬁnds an encrypted computer ﬁle.
in the wrong job, Yael concluded. I should have never, never in a million years, thought that I, a 19, almost 20-year-old girl living on her own, with no parental or family support, with no real training except life experience, and not that much of that could become a private detective handling a job as big as the Disappearances. She sat down, feeling at a lower ebb than she had ever felt in her life. She picked up the red journal that Gitty had written. I’ve taken possession of this very private document and can’t get any clues from it. She read the next section. I went to Mrs. Brodie’s house after school because I wanted to plead my case about the detentions. I didn’t see why I should be punished so harshly when all I was doing was eavesdropping. She wasn’t expecting me but I was determined to see her even if it meant braving that awful dog of hers. I was lucky. The dog was out; I saw her husband take him out for a walk or something. Mrs. Brodie was home, alone. I could see her through the window slats in an upstairs bedroom; she seemed to be on a computer. When I rang the bell she heard it because I saw her react, but she didn’t answer. I decided to be very chutzpahdik and I pressed the bell for a long time. I know it was rude but I was determined to get her to answer. Or a reaction. Well, I got a reaction all right. Not one I was expecting though. She came to what must have been a door answering system and she shouted into it: “GO AWAY! GO AWAY
WHOEVER YOU ARE!!!” She hadn’t looked out of the window, and I don’t know if her door answering machine had a video or was just audio, so I don’t know if she could see it was a pupil or just anyone, a meshulach maybe? But I do know something, and it shocked me beyond anything, even Frummet’s disappearance. Mrs. Brodie was crying. She was crying hard, sobbing into the phone handset. Then she hung it up.” Yael was as shocked by this revelation as Gitty must have been. Somehow she had a vision of Mrs. Brodie as a sort of “hard-hearted Hannah” type. Certainly her personal experiences of her had only served to conﬁrm this opinion. The woman seemed to be harsh and emotionless. To hear she had been sobbing like that was deeply shocking. She read on quickly.
What had happened to Gitty after this last entry? Yael wondered. She clutched the book as if it held its secrets within itself and would let go if she squeezed it tightly enough. Mrs. Brodie crying pathetically. Wow. That was a turnup for the books. Everything was a turnup for the books. That was the problem with this case. Yael was ﬂoundering in a sea of doubt and uncertainty, and had only the ﬂimsiest of sticks of wood to grab a hold of. She had to give up. She had to call Mrs. Hillman and admit defeat, give her back all of the money; maybe minus expenses for the past few days, but she couldn’t justify taking the fee for doing next to nothing. Just as she was steeling herself to pick up her phone and call Naomi Hillman, it rang.
I stood there for a while not knowing what to do. She seemed so pathetic, crying like that. I felt I wanted to comfort her, even though I basically hated her. But then I thought: Hey, I’ll just mind my own business.
“Wow, what a coincidence!” Yael said as she snatched it up, “I was just about to call you and…”
But I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. And wondering if maybe I should have pushed to be allowed in, so I could ask her what was wrong.
“Oh. Sorry,” Yael said, blushing, “I thought you were someone else. To whom am I speaking?”
“You were just about to call me?” came a stranger’s voice. The accent was strange too; not British. American.
That was the last entry in the journal.
“This is Leora Sommers. Is that Yael Reed?”
Yael looked again and again to see if Gitty had started writing again later in the journal, but she hadn’t. The rest of the pages were completely blank.
“Wow,” Yael said in shock and surprise. “Wow. Wow. I didn’t think you were ever going to call me. I thought John Nesbit was going to…”
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CHAPTER 25 You are in way, way over your head, young lady.
“John Nesbit called me, told me about you, and about the case and asked if I was interested. That is, if WE were interested. I and my husband Colin. We work as a team.” “I know you do,” Yael said, trying not to sound starstruck. “Thank you so much for calling me, Mrs. Sommers.” “Oh, you can call me Leora,” the voice said and she sounded really friendly, human and warm, not like the superhero everyone had painted her to be. “Thank you, Leora.” Yael was still so stunned that she was at a loss for words. “Look, Nesbit told me enough about the case for me to know that it is a real humdinger of a case, really weird, really unusual, and also that you are in way, way over your head, young lady.” “I know,” Yael said. Part of her felt she should have been insulted by this patronising attitude, but somehow she wasn’t. It was a little like being taken by the hand by a loving mother, after having fallen out of a tree she was really too small to have climbed, and having everything made better with tender administrations, a Band Aid and an ice cream. She felt all warm and fuzzy and cared for, instead of insulted. “Am I right that this is your ﬁrst real case?” Leora went on. “Um...well...” Yael didn’t want to admit to being that much of a rookie. “Nesbit gave me some work to do previously but this is the ﬁrst client paid-for case, yes.” “Wow, and not a simple lost piece of jewelry or a stray cat for your ﬁrst case,” Leora said.
“Just before you called,” Yael said, deciding that while she lay there bare and exposed she might as well tell everything, “I was about to call my client and tell her I’d given up. That I was totally lost and had no idea where to go from here.” “Oh, you don’t want to do that,” Leora said easily. “From the little that Nesbit has told me, you have achieved quite a bit.” “I have?” Yael said, stunned. “For a rookie, of course,” Leora qualiﬁed her remark. “Of course,” Yael had to agree. “But since I spoke to Nesbit a new development has come to light. One that could shed a very, very diﬀerent light on the case. But I still don’t know how to pick it up and run with it. I’m still as lost as ever.” “Oh, really?” Leora asked. “Sounds fascinating. Why don’t we meet? Do you have everything on a desktop PC or a laptop or what? In other words is it portable or do we have to come to you to look at it?” “Oh,” Yael blushed, “It’s portable. I have a laptop. And an iPad. But I use my iPad mainly to make notes about my cases. My stuﬀ is on my laptop.” “Then meet us at this restaurant we like in Hendon,” Leora suggested, “in about an hour, is that okay? Bring the laptop with you, and we can look at it, and talk things over while we eat.” “Um,” Yael felt really awkward. She didn’t know what this meeting at a restaurant entailed and she was too embarrassed to ask if she would be expected to pay her own way which would prove to be diﬃcult. Leora picked up on it like a ﬂ ash. “Our treat, of course! Now get yourself
ready and meet us at…” she gave her an address on Brent Street, in Hendon. “In one hour from now, okay?” “Wow. Thank you so much!” She was being treated to dinner. That hadn’t happened to her for, like, forever! “Actually,” Leora corrected herself, “Colin is here at my side and has said why make you shlep a whole laptop along? Do you have a ﬂ ash drive that can hold the relevant ﬁles? Then Colin can bring his laptop and we can look at it on his. I presume you aren’t driving, because we are, and it’s really easy for Colin to take his laptop in the car.” “No...I guess I’ll either walk or take a bus. And yes, I have a ﬂ ashdrive. I already have the ﬁles on it, and I’ll bring the diary with me, that’s quite small and light. I can put it in my jacket pocket.” “Then I wouldn’t dream of making you shlep a laptop with you. Sorry we just can’t pick you up, Colin and I are working against the clock at the moment, but we do have to eat and we do want to meet you. Are you okay getting yourself here? Really sorry! I feel such a heel not picking you up, but you live quite far from us and the restaurant is right in the middle between us.” “Oh, that’s okay,” Yael said, “I know you are really busy people and I can perfectly well take a bus. You’re treating me to dinner, that’s enough!” It was only after she put the phone down, excited and full of anticipation, and ran the conversation with Leora over in her head, that Yael realized she had never told her where she lived. How did Leora know she lived far? Well, Yael presumed, this was what being a top detective meant. Never having to tell people minor details like that. She went oﬀ to get ready. To be continued...
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When Mommy and Tatty told me about the new shidduch in the works, I confessed to them how I’m feeling: how since the last time, with Tzvi Landau, my conﬁdence in myself is shattered because I thought it was perfect. And how could I trust my judgment if it was so obviously oﬀ ?
ER 171 PTT HA CH MAN APNEEUR
Y DI NA BC
Malky has managed to alienate all of her siblings once again due to her extreme admiration and emulation of her latest role model, Temima Maaravi.
Dearest Darling Diary, *(In powerful, strong voice) The feelings in my heart are sometimes so large that the only way that my heart will not explode into rather gross, splatter-y pieces of inner organ from attempting to contain the uncontainable** is by expressing them externally with Art. Yes! I must Express Myself to spare my very heart! (cue: cry; clutch heart) (cue: stop crying and stop clutching heart) Um… And so I must embrace my destiny My hair is also an extension of my creativity The other day, when I was walking down the street Okay. I know there’s more to say about exploding hearts and stuﬀ but I just realized that I should let it ﬂow naturally, you know? I’ll use the above paragraph as a sort of launching point and then sort of close my eyes and let the voice of my character speak. Yes. That is totally the right creative move to make at this point. And also, I’m not really sure what else to write. Anyway, on to Our Little Problem . (Meir insists on calling it ALP. Which brings to mind The Alps and not a problem at
50 Issue 136.indd 50
all but rather a glorious and majestic mountain range, so it makes it hard for me to see it as a problem, if you know what I mean, rather than something that I should be painting. And writing about. And acting. Ooooh, for my tryouts I should dress up like the Alps. No, not like the actual mountain, but like the impression that The Alps leaves on you.) (You know?) So Our Little Problem that is not a beautiful mountain range but is rather Malky Milstein and her somewhat urgent need to ﬁnd a new last name. Or rather, our urgent need to ﬁnd a new last name for her. She is making us long for the good old days with Leah Pitterman. Temima Maarav i is a bazillion trillion times worse… Big meeting tonight with Meir. I better work on my Alps costume until then.
They reassured me over and over again. And then on Wednesday, while I peeled cucumbers and carrots with Rebbetzin Temima Maaravi, I asked her how I can ever trust myself again. I was kind of embarrassed to ask her because after all I am sure that she has never experienced a moment of doubt in her life—she always has clarity, I am sure, because she IS clarity! Her mishalim illuminate my life, and I am sure the light cast from that secondhand understanding is as a slender candle to her glowing sun. It’s like—well, like that, like the candle and sun thing. So anyway, I asked her how I can regain my conﬁdence and she answered, of course, with an absolutely stunning mashal and it was about a man and a bat and a deaf rabbit and the nimshal as I humbly understand it is that I need to be prepared for all events and not let it impact on how I feel about myself because I can’t control anyone else; I can only control myself. So in the name of preparing my-
Faigy *This is the passage that I will read for play tryouts! I’ll read it on Sunday when we share diaries, and I’ll get everyone’s opinion on how perfect it is. Like, is it extremely perfect , or is it moderately perfect? Pretty sure it’s extremely perfect , but shall see. **Contain the uncontainable. Pure poetry! My words are stunningly beautiful. I am a Writer now. I can only hope that I do my own words justice when I recite them for play tryouts .
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self, I am also going to go the extra mile and prepare some self-aﬃrmations that I will say to myself every morning in the mirror:
1. I am like Rebbetzin Temima Maaravi’s deaf rabbit. I too must use my other senses to compensate for what I do not have, thus heightening them far beyond the measure of normal rabbits.
No sooner did we start our emergency ALP meeting than there was a knock on the door and we both knew that it was Malky and we both knew that she had The Book of Multiple Horrors in her arms and without discussing it, Faigy dove under her bed and I rolled into her closet. (Like a ninja. It was an awesome move. Smooth.) We didn’t breathe as Malky gently turned the doorknob and peeked in.
2. I am like the bat in her story who uses radar instead of sight.
“Faigy?” she said. “Meir?” she said.
3. I am the man in her story, too, and I know that Hashem will give me the strength to accept things that I cannot change, to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the diﬀerence.
We waited a good ﬁve minutes until we were sure that she was gone before emerging. After that, our meeting was short and to the point. The new shidduch is happening. And soon, according to my sources. (Okay, the source is Mommy’s notebook.) We both have homework to do; we each have to come up with a feasible plan to make the shidduch work. Not subliminal messaging again, because we can’t risk altering her brain chemistry. Again. Because when we erased Leah Pitterman, she was replaced by the much-worse Temima Maaravi. And who knows what horrors we shall unleash next time?
And I must go shopping for new clothing. This Sunday. I know that clothing is not the most important thing, but it is important; Rebbetzin Temima Maaravi even said so when she wrote (Mishalim and Nimshalim, page 56) about the pitcher that was full of delicious lemonade that no one drank because it was plain and then when the lemonade was poured into a nicer pitcher everyone said how refreshing it was.
Subliminal messaging is out. We have one week to come up with an alternative plan. I wrote it out as a poem and will recite it to myself daily in the hopes of subliminally messaging myself to come up with an awesome plan:
I’ve been meaning to show that one to Faigy to illustrate why I think that she should straighten her hair, but it’s the weirdest thing; I have not seen her or Meir around in forever. It’s like the second I pick the book up and head to their rooms to read them a choice mashal, they’ve vanished. Once I even thought I saw Faigy dive under her bed, but like the cat that saw mice in the corner of her eye even when they weren’t there, I’m sure that I was imagining it.
We must ﬁgure out a way To keep Malky at bay We will make smiles out of our frown When we see Malky in a wedding gown!
As if anyone would run from the wisdom and wit of Rebbetzin Temima Maaravi!
Diary! I practiced a line to say when Malky says a story and then says, “Do you understand?” I say, “I understand.” Even though I don’t.
To be continued...
So she doesn’t explain and explain.
Miri 51 Issue 136.indd 51
9/11/13 10:40 AM
A sukka’le so small, not fancy at all? Not exactly. The Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Electric Company built the world’s biggest—and most well-lit—sukkah in Yerushalayim last year. It measured 98 feet (30 meters) long, 52 feet (16 meters) wide and 20 feet (6 meters) high, a total of 5,167 sq. feet (480 sq. meters). They strung 2.5 miles (4 km) of electrical wiring in their massive temporary dwelling, which lit 144,000 miniature light bulbs.
Just how small was the world’s smallest sukkah? The Jacobowitz family’s 1938 sukkah was super- short—that’s for sure! The family, living in dangerous Berlin, Germany, just before the start of the Holocaust, built a sukkah that was hidden from the eyes of the Nazis behind the wall of their balcony, but tall enough to be halachically kosher. It stood just 40 inches (102 cm.) tall. The Jacobowitzes crawled into their short sukkah that year and ate on pillows on the ﬂoor.
No Juden here, just a boring old balcony, Fritz !
This sukkah is “wheely” cool! It just might be the world’s largest moving sukkah—at least according to Rabbi Mordy Hirsch of the Mitzvah Tank oﬃce in New York. He believes that the 6-meter-long (20–foot) sukkah on the back of a trailer truck, which was driven through Manhattan and parked near Kosher Delight on Broadway, might break a world record. Rabbi Hirsch told reporters that he was considering ﬁling a request to the Guinness World Records for “World’s Largest Mobile Sukkah.”
Mitzvah Tanks aren’t the only sukkahs on the move! Head to Venice, where you can ride a boat equipped with a sukkah on board, or make your way to Brooklyn, where one teenage yeshivah student from Crown Heights was seen pedaling a sukkahtopped bicycle on Sukkos in 2009.
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9 THINGS YOU MAY ... T U O B A W O N K T O N
SUKKAHS BY RACHELI SOFE
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You might use a drivethrough to pick up food, but how about a drivethrough to pick up a lulav? One congregation in Miami, Florida, builds the world’s only drive-through sukkah each year. Their “McBet Shira Sukkah,” a tent in the building’s parking lot, allows people to drive into their sukkah—literally—if they are too tired to sukkah-hop.
If you are spending Sukkos in Toronto this year, you can check out another sukkah competition. Sukkaville, a design competition sponsored by a UJA housing agency, will showcase sukkah design competition ﬁnalists in downtown Toronto. Included in the six ﬁnalists are a spiral sukkah and a superunique “reusekah sukkah,” made entirely out of used wooden crates.
Twelve of the world’s most creative sukkahs stood on display in New York City’s Union Square Park for the duration of Yom Tov three years ago. Part of a public art and architecture competition, the designs of 12 ﬁnalists included a sukkah created entirely from signs made by homeless people that was later auctioned oﬀ to raise money for a homeless shelter. Other wacky entries included a sukkah made from a single 2,000-pound (907-kg.) spool of wire, and a see-through sukkah that held up a single log.
Lots of these competitions might showcase cool sukkahs, but if you want to learn about which ones are kosher and which fall short of halachah, you can visit the display at Neot Kedumim, a biblical landscape reserve located halfway between Yerushalayim and Tel Aviv in Israel, where you’ll ﬁnd a life-size sukkah exhibit illustrating the many possible variations. Among others, you can see a life-size sukkah that is too tall, a model of a sukkah that is too short, as well as a sukkah that can ﬁt on top of a camel’s saddle!
Chabad of Colorado Springs, with the help of students from across the country, worked to set up what they claimed was the highest kosher sukkah in the world, on top of Pikes Peak summit, at an altitude of 14,110 feet (4,300 meters) above sea level.
Pop! In 1999, the Pop-Up Sukkah was born. For the ﬁrst time ever, you could go anywhere in the world on Sukkos without worry. Simply take along the Pop-Up Sukkah carrying case, which weighs a mere 7 pounds (3 kg.) and is one inch (2.5 cm.) thick. In the mood of a snack? With several simple steps you could have a 6-foot-tall (1.8-meter) certiﬁed kosher sukkah—complete with schach—right at your disposal!
But their's might not really be the world’s highest. If you are looking to compete in a “highly” anticipated sukkah competition, make your way to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, where Chabad shliach Rabbi Chezki Lifschitz hosts a contest for those interested in building the world’s highest sukkah. Some entries will take their sukkahs to altitudes above 16,400 feet (5,000 meters)!
What kind of sukkah will you have this year? Options abound: there’s vinyl, canvas, wood, plastic panels, or the Wonder Sukkah (as easy to click together as Lego, according to the manufacturers). May we all be zocheh to gather in Sukkos Dovid Hanofales.
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RABBI DEAR ANONYMOUS, You ask a really good question. To remind you, your question was (after you brieﬂy described a speciﬁc situation that is troubling you) whether or not you have to be secretive just because your parents are that way. This reminds me of the old joke about the guy who wanted to pay the rabbi to make him a kohen. The rabbi said, "I can't make you a kohen no matter how much you pay." The guy says, "You don't understand, rabbi. You have to help me. My father was a kohen, his father was a kohen, and his father was a kohen... So it's very important to me to be a kohen."
Of course the joke is that he's already a kohen. So here's the question: Is being a secretive person like being a kohen? Is it something you're born into and you have to carry on from generation to generation no matter what? Or is being a secretive person more like being a Yankees fan? You can be the son of a Yankees fan and decide to be a Red Sox fan, or to not even like baseball at all. Right? So which one is it? The answer is that there are lots of things that our parents teach us that we deﬁnitely do want to hang on to. But that does not mean that we have to be cookie-cutter reproductions of their personalities. In other words, you don't have to be a secretive per-
'd like to conﬁde in my friend about my sister who's giving my parents problems in frumkeit. But my mother thinks everything has to be a secret—not that I asked her if I could talk about this. She'd be shocked I'd even think of it. (She's very secretive about EVERYTHING!) Do I have to be secretive because my parents are?!
son just because your parents are. You are your own person with your own personality and your own values. Being Jewish is all about ﬁguring out how to internalize Hashem's will for us. As long as you have rabbis and teachers to talk with and your intent is truly for the sake of Heaven (ie: you're not just trying to ﬁnd leniencies for yourself) then I think that forming your own opinions and values is a healthy part of growing up. At the same time, however, I will mention that just because you decide to be a certain way does not mean you're allowed to do that at someone else's expense. To be clear, what I mean is that you don't have to be secretive with your own personal information if you don't want to, but you have to be sensitive to the fact that you may be sharing someone else's sensitive information that they don't want shared. It's a really ﬁne line, but I think that you can talk to your friend about your feelings without getting into the details about your sister. You understand the diﬀerence? I want to just mention one more thing, and that is that you have to be really careful about who you share things with. Sometimes people aren't as respectful as they should be with your private information. In fact, the reason for your parents' secrecy may even be because they had some negative experiences in the past like
this. I'm not saying you should be paranoid. I'm just saying that as you get older, you develop a better sense of whom to trust. It's very important to be able to open up and share your feelings. But you need to be careful that you are opening up to the right person. Sometimes someone your age is a good person to conﬁde in, but sometimes not. I'm not saying that all adults are good to conﬁde in either, but I think it may be easier for you to ﬁgure out who's a trustworthy adult than it is to ﬁgure out who's a trustworthy person your own age. Young people can be ﬁckle. That means they seem one way one second and another way the next second. These back-and-forth changes are just part of growing up and ﬁguring out who you are. There's nothing wrong with it. It just might be a big disappointment to you if you pick a close friend to listen to your personal problems and then this person isn't as sensitive as he should be. Anyway, enough of that. To sum up my main point again: You aren't your parents. As long as you are using Torah to guide you and your goal is sincere, you will be alright. With Blessing,
Rabbi Shais Taub, a noted author and counselor, can be contacted through Aim!.
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56: Mexican Ransom
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