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December 5, 2019

Distributed weekly in the Five Towns, Long Island, Queens & Brooklyn

Always Fresh. Always Gourmet. See page 7

Passover Vacation Section Starts on page 115

Your Favorite Five Towns Family Newspaper

“There is No Typical Day”

Around the


TJH Speaks with Attorney Ben Brafman pg

50 Celebrating Milestones at OHEL’s 50th Annual Gala


You Can Do It! Making Boulders into Pebbles pg

62 Lessons in Gratefulness

52 State Senator Kaminsky Teaches the Next Generation




DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home


Neve Yerushalayim. Dedicated to inspiring the next generation of Jewish women for another 50 years.





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The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

ERETZ YISRAEL Binyanei Haumah December 28, 2019 ‫ תש”פ‬,‫ל‘ כסלו‬

Yad Eliyahu January 9, 2020 ‫ תש”פ‬,‫י”ב טבת‬

ENGLAND Manchester

EventCity January 5, 2020 ‫ תש”פ‬,‫ח׳ טבת‬


Heythrop Park Resort Hotel

January 10-12, 2020

‫ תש”פ‬,‫ט״ו טבת‬-‫י״ג‬


Dome de Paris January 12, 2020


‫ תש”פ‬,‫ט”ו טבת‬


SOUTH AFRICA The Deck January 15, 2020 ‫ תש”פ‬,‫י”ח טבת‬


Eretz Yisrael: 02-560-9000 Europe: 020-8050-2615

Prudential Center, NJPAC and Newark Symphony Hall February 9, 2020 ‫ תש”פ‬,‫י”ד שבט‬

Additional Siyumim to be held in:


W o Pr me ud n’s e S So ntia ecti ld l C on Ou en at t! ter


will ‫ בע"ה‬be held at The Prudential Center, NJPAC and Newark Symphony Hall in Newark, NJ on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. Additional locations worldwide.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

Due to the overwhelming response and with the women’s section at Prudential Center completely sold out

DIRSHU HAS SECURED A THIRD LOCATION IN NORTH AMERICA which is in close proximity to the Prudential Center (a mere 10-minute walk).

Exclusive Men’s Venue

Exclusive Women’s Venue

• A unique live program exclusive to NJPAC

This event at Newark Symphony Hall will feature a truly unique experience and uplifting hisoirirus, created and tailored for the neshei chayil of Torah yidden and their daughters. The program will feature live inspirational women speakers, exclusive musical performances and selected drashos from Gedolim at Prudential Center.

• Several of the Gedolim will attend both venues • Live highlights broadcast from Prudential Center • Live Musical Performance

ELEVATING THE TORAH LANDSCAPE FOREVER. Be part of an experience that will change your life!



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Dear Readers,


sidered standard or customary. Their hearts tell them to follow their dreams – and they do, filling their day with fantasies and whims. This same mini-Picasso daughter of mine consistently tells me that princesses aren’t real but that they are real in Disneyworld because that’s where they live. And who am I to bring her down to reality and shatter her effervescent but fervent beliefs? The winter can bring out the creativity in each of us. With shorter and colder days, we spend much of our time indoors. But we can use our time productively instead of huddling under blankets on the couch. I know someone who wanted to learn how to do embroidery and spent last winter learning the skill, ultimately embroidering a beautiful piece of wall art for her children. Another friend of mine puts her photos into albums during the cold months, when she knows she has nothing else needing her attention. Want to practice your yoga moves or learn how to bake that magnificent cake in your favorite cookbook? The winter is the perfect time to make those dreams a reality. And in a few months, when the tulips begin to peek out from beneath the frost, you too can come out of hibernation – but with a brand-new skill or hobby to showcase and cherish.

ometimes I sit down to a blank page, and it’s just that: blank. I feel as if there’s nothing to fill the white sheet of paper; no words to cover up its starkness. Sure, I have a lot to say – we can talk about the weather, or politics, or PTA – but not everything that there is to say needs to be said. My daughter, I see, doesn’t have that problem. She is beginning to read and write this year but her true love is coloring. I have to hide my notebooks from her so she doesn’t doodle on the pages. She grabs handfuls of blank papers from the printer and sets to work after she comes home from school, filling them with scenes from her vibrant imagination – hearts and princesses and flowers and menorahs. And because she’s learning how to write this year, she has trained herself to write a few words on her own: “Dear Mommy and Abba. I love you.” She writes them over and over again and makes sure to include that missive at least once on every page she draws. I have been receiving copious beautiful love notes over the past few weeks, and my heart hurts every time I need to put a few in the garbage. After all, there are just so many piles of love notes that you can have around the house. When children are young, their creativity is unencumbered. They don’t question their abilities or themselves. They don’t worry about what others may think or what is con-

Weekly Weather |

Wishing you a wonderful week, Shoshana



Shoshana Soroka EDITOR

Nate Davis Editorial Assistant Nechama Wein Copy Editor Berish Edelman Adina Goodman Mati Jacobovits Design & Production Gabe Solomon Distribution & Logistics P.O. BOX 266 Lawrence, NY 11559 Phone | 516-734-0858 Fax | 516-734-0857 Classified Deadline: Monday 5:00PM text 443-929-4003 PAYMENT VIA CREDIT CARD MUST BE SUBMITTED ALONG WITH CLASSIFIED ADS

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Shabbos Zemanim

December 6 – December 12








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The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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Readers’ Poll Community Happenings








Odd-but-True Stories


ISRAEL Israel News


World Builders




We Can by Rav Moshe Weinberger


Parsha in Four by Eytan Kobre


Leadership by Shmuel Reichman


PEOPLE Lessons from the Courthouse Steps: Attorney Ben Brafman Reflects by 92 Tammy Mark Rescues Behind Enemy Lines by Avi Heiligman


HEALTH & FITNESS There is No Such Thing as Anger Pills by Dr. Deb Hirschhorn


Essential Vitamins for Winter Survival by Cindy Weinberger, MS RD CDN


FOOD & LEISURE The Aussie Gourmet: Aussie Meat Pies


LIFESTYLES Mind Your Business

98 Dating Dialogue, Moderated by Jennifer Mann, LCSW 102 Your Money


ney of love of learning, and love of growing. Should we do away with all the special ed schools and organizations  and tutors and p3’s so that more children should feel failure? The only people I know who “fell and failed consistently” in our school systems are people who are bitter, angry, and not so inclined to the whole religious thing.  Imperfection is a part of life. But let’s not be the ones responsible for “failing” our children as they go through the frum school system.  Thank you. A Reader in Far Rockaway, NY  To the Editor: We don’t often think about firefighting and emergency medical services – but when we need them, they are priceless. Our community’s volunteer firefighters and EMTs are vital, and providing them with the resources they need to do their jobs is essential. That’s why I, Ronna (Rochel) Rubenstein, am running for Woodmere Fire Commissioner this Tuesday, December 10. As fire district secretary for the past four years and treasurer for two of them, I have managed the Woodmere Fire District from behind the scenes, preparing and managing budgets, and procuring hundreds of Continued on page 10


Ring a Ding by Rivki D. Rosenwald Esq., 134 CLC, SDS HUMOR Centerfold 76



Now Lech Walesa Wants to Help Hong Kong by Marc A. Thiessen


The Dog That Didn’t Bark in the Persian Gulf by David Ignatius



Dear Editor, In response to last week’s letter to the editor, I would like to take issue with one aspect of the writer’s response. Yes, I do agree that we should allow our children to taste failure. And yes, there are so, so many opportunities for them to do so in their upbringing. Just a sample of them – biking all the way to Seasons Express and then the slurpy machines are not ready, being called up to the Torah and fumbling over the brachot, how about trying to download the latest hit song but the Wi-Fi is just not cooperating? From a serious standpoint, many children today unfortunately have to deal with failed marriages, failed parenting, and the failing health of a family member.  When it comes to schooling, however, it is VITAL for each child to feel successful on his or her own level. Just google Malky Klein if you want a taste of what I am referring to.  As a parent of students, I, or my husband, are in contact with my children’s rebbeim and teachers. We are full of gratitude as we watch in admiration how these incredible teachers understand the specific needs of each of the children, and tailor to their needs, so that they CAN feel successful, and bisiyata dishmaya can grow into fine upstanding Torah Jews. As an educator, I see how positivity and acknowledging success, no matter how minute, is a powerful force in creating a continuous jour-


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The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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thousands of dollars in grants. Inspired by the members who volunteer in the Woodmere Fire Department to keep our community safe, I put myself through EMT school and became an active member of the Department’s EMS division. I make it my business to be in the neighborhood whenever feasible to be able to respond to calls and help neighbors in need. As a mother, wife, and successful businesswoman, I understand the importance of working collaboratively for a safer community and putting our neighborhood’s needs first. That’s why when my pager goes off and a call comes out, I drop everything – be it work, tending to my family, or social events – to help someone in need. And it’s why I am running for Fire Commissioner and respectfully request your vote on Tuesday. This Tuesday, December 10, please bring your family to vote for me as Woodmere Fire Commissioner. Polls are open from 6-9 p.m. at the Firehouse on 20 Irving Place. As Commissioner, I will work tirelessly to keep Woodmere safe – for my family and yours. Ronna (Rochel) Rubenstein Woodmere Dear Editor, I truly appreciated your note this week, as you spoke about being grateful and inculcating that middah in our children and families. Rivki’s Rosenwald’s article, “Thanks Giving. Giving Thanks” was an important read for all – I loved how she detailed exactly how we can become more grateful human beings. Thankfully, we live in a world of abundance. On the other hand, being surrounded by so many luxuries can make us immune to the idea of appreciating what we have. Instead, we are trained to become “consumers” and “users” with an insatiable desire for goods and services. Appreciating the little things – and even the big things in life – is overshadowed by

filling our never-ending cravings. We need to teach our children and ourselves to slow down, look at all the good things in our lives, and appreciate them all. And that, of course, will make us happier people. Sincerely, Chana Tova Moser Dear Editor, Jenna Lewinsky and her sheep was a great read over Shabbat! I could almost see Jenna in the fields, tending to her flock. What a refreshing way of life for someone in 2019 – especially as she sees herself as bridging the past to the present. Mi k’amcha Yisroel! Suri Hartman Dear Editor, I can commiserate with the young woman who is hesitant to send out a photo along with her shidduch resume. Although I dated before shidduch resumes were de rigueur, I can understand why someone would be hesitant before sending a photo of themselves out to the world. After all, a person’s essence cannot be conveyed on a flimsy piece of paper. Additionally, there’s a concern that their photo will be floating around and may possibly give a gentleman an easy excuse to nix perfectly wonderful young woman because they don’t appreciate their “look” immediately after seeing their photo. That being said, although I can understand why this person can be hesitant about providing a photo, the world of shidduchim is very different than what it used to be. And yes, there are many wonderful young men and young women out there. But why limit yourself to a select few who would agree to go out with you despite refusing to provide a photo? A photo would open up a huge selection of dates to choose from – and would definitely help you in getting more dates. One last thing: make sure you provide a good photo! Spending money on a photographer or even a stylist is well-worth it. Best of luck, Keren L.

Please send all correspondence to:

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



The Holy Land as the nexus of Jewish destiny by Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum




Seminal to Jewish thou cept that ght is the the more condist from the Revelation, ant a generation is the more spiritual plat deficient eau. The its generations same is true exiled by of the the Romans when




they dest royed the Second Tem the exiled ple. While gen the destruct eration was the cause of ion, this their exe mplary spir stain is relative to itual charact was the gen er. This dacting the eration responsible Mishnah. for reThe Jews no longer HaMikdash, had the but still rem Bais subjects of the Rom ained in the Land, an Emperor , Titus.


Fig tree in Ein Lavan,

Pomegranate blossom

in Yad Binyamin

The ruins of 1st century the city Gamla in the The synagoguB.C.E. and is one of Golan include a syna the gogue datin e predates face Yerus the destr oldest synagogues g from the halayim as was custo uction of the Second ever found in the world mary follo . wing the destrTemple, and did not uction.


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The ancient Gamla was city of Gamla is locat a fight again Jewish city from the ed in the Golan, in the st the Roma 2nd ns in the Jewi century B.C.E., Gamla National Park. and the first sh Revolt city to against Rome (66-73 C.E.) .

• 47

Seminal to Jewish thou ght is the concept that the more distant a generation is from the Revelation, the more defic ient spiritual plate its au.



This full-color volume offers a richly layered account of the history of Eretz Yisrael from the aftermath of the First Beis HaMikdash to the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Here we will explore the turbulent Second Temple era; the saintly Tannaim and Amoraim; the Moslem, Crusader, and Ottoman conquests; the writing of the Zohar and, later, the Shulchan Aruch. And of course, the various aliyah movements, the courageous Jews who triumphed over unimaginable challenges to build Yerushalayim’s Old Yishuv and develop the rest of the Land. The World That Was: Eretz Yisrael is the riveting story of the unbreakable bond between Hashem, His People, and His beautiful Holy Land.

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n his bestselling series I Have an Amazing Story for You, Rabbi Nachman Seltzer has been sharing with us true stories that bring us to tears and laughter. Even while these stories entertain us, they show us the greatness that lies in every Jew – and help us access the greatness that lies within each of us.

Available at your local Hebrew bookseller or at • 1-800-MESORAH (637-6724)



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

2 Killed in London Bridge Attack

If not for the heroism of passersby, more people could have been killed in a stabbing attack that took place on Friday at London Bridge. Two people were killed in the attack. The terrorist, Usman Khan, 28, was jailed previously for plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange, Britain’s Parliament, and the U.S. Embassy. After serving time in prison for his role in that plot, Khan was released in 2018 and was fitted with an electronic tag to monitor his movements. He was wearing a fake suicide belt when he was fatally shot on Friday. Police feared it was real and that he was trying to detonate it. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, although it cannot be confirmed. One of the two people killed in the attack on London Bridge was Jack Merritt, 28. He was working in the conference center where the attack took place.  Merritt’s father, David, said that his son was “a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog.” Saskia Jones, 23, a former Cambridge student from Stratford-upon-Avon, was also killed in the attack. According to her family, “Saskia was a funny, kind, positive influence at the center of many people’s lives. She had a wonderful sense of mischievous fun and was generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people… “Saskia had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment

program, wishing to specialize in victim support.” Three other people were injured in the attack. On Saturday, investigators confirmed that Khan began his assault inside Fishmongers’ Hall, a historic venue near the north end of London Bridge. There, he was registered to take part in a conference on rehabilitating former prisoners. It was organized by the University of Cambridge. Police believe that after Khan started his attack inside the hall, he proceeded to the bridge looking for more victims. At some point, when Khan got to London Bridge, he was tackled by passersby.  Stevie Hurst, a tour guide, was one of the people who helped restrain the terrorist. “Everyone was just on top of him trying to bundle him to the ground,” he told the BBC. “We saw the knife was still in his hand. I just put a foot in to try to kick him in the head. We were trying to do as much as we could to try and dislodge the knife from his hand so he wouldn’t harm anyone else. The guys that were there are heroes beyond belief.” One person grabbed a five-footlong narwhal tusk from Fishmongers’ Hall to confront the attacker. Another good Samaritan used foam from a fire extinguisher to keep the murderer at bay. London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan praised the “breathtaking heroism of members of the public who literally ran towards danger not knowing what confronted him.”

Iraqi PM to Step Down

Following weeks of protests, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi formally tendered his resignation on Saturday to the government. First announcing the decision on Friday, Mahdi said in a statement that he thought it was best for the country to allow MPs to form a new government. 

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

According to Iraqi media outlets, Mahdi’s decision to step down comes after Shi’ite leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani said that he could no longer stay in his position. Sistani had met with Muqtada Sadr, another senior Shi’ite cleric and the leader of the country’s largest parliamentary coalition, and issued a joint call to topple the government. The statement by the two leaders of Iraq’s Shi’ite community effectively ended any chance Mahdi had of remaining Iraq’s prime minister. The joint call for Mahdi to vacate his position came in response to the deaths of 48 protesters the day before at the hands of a pro-Iran militia Hashd Al-Shaabi in the city of Nasiriya. Mahdi had ordered the Iranian militia to Nasiriya in order to quell the spiraling protests. Yet the troops reacted with unprecedented violence after one of their men was beaten by angry demonstrators in broad daylight and began shooting into the crowd. The deaths of the mostly-peaceful protesters in the Shi’ite stronghold 350 kilometers from Baghdad had shocked the country and alienated Mahdi from his political base. The killings also brought the overall death toll in the massive demonstrations to 400, increasing pressure on Mahdi.  Iraq has been roiled for over a month by massive anti-Iran protests that have paralyzed the oil-rich state. Alleging that their country is effectively controlled by Tehran, protesters have burned Iranian flags, called for the death of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and even burned down the Iranian consulate in Najaf. 

Gas Pipeline Connects Russia and China

The “Power of Siberia” gas pipeline was switched on on Monday, connecting Russia and China and affirming increasingly close economic and political ties between the two

countries. The pipeline runs more than 5,000 miles across the two countries, according to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua, and will deliver 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually by 2024. It will be operated by Russia’s state-owned company Gazprom. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin watched via video link as the pipeline was inaugurated, before exulting in the historic moment. “That step brings the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership in the energy sector to a whole new level,” Putin said in a statement to news agency TASS. TASS said that deliveries had  started flowing through the pipeline as of Monday, although the amount will start small and then ramp up over the years. A 30-year deal was signed by Putin and Xi in 2014, and while a final figure has not been announced, it is believed to be worth more than $400 billion. According to analysts at S&P Global Platts, total sales through the pipeline will represent nearly 10% of China’s entire gas supply by 2022 and will help to solidify Beijing’s energy security. China has been trying to move away from coal and toward alternative forms of power in the past few years, as the country tackles a severe air pollution problem and growing concerns about its carbon emissions. In April, U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil announced a 20-year agreement to supply China with liquified natural gas. Meanwhile, China is expected to overtake the European Union as the world leader in use of solar panels. Ties between Beijing and Moscow have grown increasingly close under Xi’s leadership of China, with Putin saying in June that relations had reached an “unprecedented level.” Under Xi and Putin, trade turnover between the two countries has soared by nearly 30% to a record $107.06 billion in 2018, according to  China’s General Administration of Customs. The two men have even publicly formed a very strong bond, with Putin describing Xi earlier this year as his “best and bosom friend” with whom he had a “deep friendship.” This year marks 70 years since diplomatic ties were established


The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

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The Program for International Student Assessment study of 600,000 students in 79 countries shines a light on the difficulty of improving education, sometimes irrespective of the resources that are dedicated to it. That appears to be particularly problematic for OECD countries that have increased spending on primary and secondary students by more than 15% in the past decade. Gurria added, “It is disappointing that most OECD countries saw virtually no improvement in the performance of their students since PISA was first conducted in 2000.” The report also highlights disparities in educational achievement depending on socio-economic background. In some countries, even where government spending on education is high, the background of a student still plays a significant role in their educational outcomes.


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between Beijing and Moscow, following the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. But relations between the two neighboring countries have often been tense, even when both were run by communist governments. Now, though, both countries have a clear motivation to strengthen economic and political ties in the face of an increasingly chilly diplomatic reception in Washington.

Chinese Students are Smart According to a study by The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of 15-year-old students around the world, Chinese students far outstrip their peers in reading, math, and science ability.

The OECD’s triennial study found that the four Chinese provinces tested – Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang – outperformed in science and mathematics, even if household income is well below members’ average. In reading, the 10% of most disadvantaged Chinese students who were tested had better skills than the OECD average. “The quality of their schools today will feed into the strength of their

Former police superintendent David Duckenfield was found not guilty last week of gross negligence manslaughter in the deaths of 95 Liverpool supporters in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster in the UK. Duckenfield, now 75, was the match commander when a crush at the FA Cup semifinal tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest led to the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans. This was the second time Duckenfield has faced trial over the disaster. A jury was unable to reach a verdict

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earlier in 2019. Duckenfield, who was a chief superintendent with South Yorkshire Police in April 1989, was not charged in the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, who passed away in 1993. Laws at the time prevented prosecution over a death more than 366 days after injuries were sustained. Duckenfield’s solicitor Ian Lewis said in a statement after the verdict on Thursday: “David is, of course, relieved that the jury has found him not guilty, however his thoughts and sympathies remain with the families of those who lost their loved ones.” At a press conference at the Cunard Building in Liverpool, Margaret Aspinall, chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: “I blame a system that’s so morally wrong within this country, that’s a disgrace to this nation. “When 96 people – they say 95, we say 96 – are unlawfully killed and yet not one person is accountable, the question I’d like to ask all of you and people within the system is who put 96 people in their graves, who is accountable?” During the first trial, the jury found Graham Mackrell, former secretary of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, guilty on a separate charge of breaching his safety duty. Mackrell, who was a safety officer for the club’s Hillsborough ground at the time of the disaster, was fined £6,500 (about $8,300). There have been a number of inquiries into the Hillsborough disaster, including the 1990 Taylor Report, the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel Report, and the 2016 Hillsborough Inquest.

Azerbaijan Honors Jewish War Hero In a festive ceremony in Baku on November 15, Azerbaijan unveiled a statue commemorating Jewish war hero Albert Agarunov. The statue shows Agarunov driving a tank and is located on the street in Azerbaijan’s capital that bears his name. The statue’s base is made of concrete to symbolize the Nagorno-Karabakh War in which he fought and was eventually killed in a legendary battle. The ceremony was attended by a slew of dignitaries, including Dep-

uty Defense Minister Lieutenant General Karim Valiyev; Head of the Narimanov District Executive Power Abdin Farzaliyev; Chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations Mubariz Gurbanli; and the head of the local Jewish community.

The event was also attended by notable Jewish figures from around the world who had flown in especially for the ceremony, including Israel’s former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and over five U.S. state senators. “Erection of a monument to national hero Albert Agarunov testifies to how the government and people of Azerbaijan respect their heroes,” noted Jewish MP Yevda Abramov. Agarunov is widely regarded as the country’s biggest war hero and is a household name in Azerbaijan. Born in 1969 to a Jewish family in Baku, Agarunov enlisted in the Soviet Army at age 18, which occupied Azerbaijan until 1991.  After the Azerbaijani-Armenian War began in 1988, Agarunov returned home in order to train his homeland’s nascent armed forces. Appointed a tank commander, he was eventually given responsibility for wresting the mountainous city of Shusha from Armenian control.  Agarunov proved himself to be an outstanding tank commander and once destroyed nine Armenian tanks and two armored personnel carriers during one battle in 1991. Developing an ingenious battlefield technique nicknamed the “Jewish Sandwich,” his style of combat was so lethal that the Armenian military offered a large monetary reward for his death or capture. Agarunov was killed in 1992 during a famous battle in Shusha that made his name synonymous with bravery.  Defending his city from an onslaught of Armenian troops, the officer abandoned his



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

tank in order to recover the bodies of his dead comrades. While carrying the corpses, Agarunov was hit by a sniper’s bullet, killing him instantly at the age of 23. For his heroics, Agarunov was awarded the title of National Hero of Azerbaijan and was buried at Martyrs’ Lane in Baku. 

Mexico’s Prez Feels the Heat

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s new approach to the drug cartels in his country was supposed to bring the violence they perpetuated to a halt. First elected last year in a landslide, the leader, known by his initials “AMLO,” promised to treat the scourge of illegal drug cartels. Forswearing the zero-tolerance policy of his predecessors, AMLO promised that his vision of treating the cartels with “hugs, not bullets” would bring them back into society.  Early signs were encouraging. As part of his policy of refraining from using the military against drug gangs when possible, Obrador built up the new National Guard. The new federal law enforcement agency, which was supposed to be a cross between the military and the famously corrupt police, was launched to a slew of fanfare and bright hopes. Yet in recent months, Mexico has been rocked by a wave of violence unprecedented even for the crime-ridden Central American country. With the brash socialist leader marking his first anniversary in office on December 1, many are asking if his talk of human rights and softened rhetoric vis-a-vis the cartels only invited them to expand their criminal activity.  A key point of controversy is Mexico’s soaring homicide rate. Almost 35,000 people have already been murdered this year in the country, breaking last year’s record of 33,341 killed. A rash of high-profile incidents has also thrust Mexico’s inability to crack down on powerful drug cartels into the spotlight. 


In one prominent case, the Mexican military’s successful arrest of the son of the famed crime boss “El Chapo” Guzman ended what many call a national disgrace. After detaining him in Sinaloa, Mexican troops found themselves surrounded and even kidnapped by thousands of gunmen who swarmed the city. By nightfall, AMLO ordered Guzman released, leading many to wonder if Mexico was becoming a failed and lawless state.  Another issue is the uncertain status of the National Guard. Despite being established solely to fight organized crime, the majority of its troops are former soldiers with no crime-fighting experience. Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to levy tariffs should Mexico fail to stem illegal immigration, a significant number of the National Guard troops are patrolling the border rather than going after drug dealers.  AMLO defends his record by noting that he inherited a dysfunctional country that was already suffering from two decades of cartel warfare. Yet as time goes on, more and more Mexicans are asking if Obrador has what is needed to end the cartel’s impunity that has turned the country into a graveyard.  “We cannot pin the current security dynamics entirely on AMLO because they have been built up over a long period of time,” admitted organized crime expert Eduardo Moncada. “But the government has struggled to find or define its policy.”

Malta PM to Resign

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced on Sunday that he will resign in mid-January, amidst investigations into the death of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Caruana Galizia had been working to expose alleged corruption within the government before her October 2017 murder by a car bomb. Three men were formally charged in


DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

July, all of whom pleaded not guilty during pre-trial proceedings. Caruana Galizia’s family, as well as other protestors, have accused Muscat of trying to shield members of his inner circle from the ongoing investigation. “Every single day of these past two years I have shouldered responsibilities and taken decisions. I made decisions in the best interest for the conclusion of the case, and I am convinced that some decisions were good while others could have been better,” Muscat asserted in his statement. Caruana Galizia’s work had earned her some powerful enemies over the years, and she had been the subject of intimidation, most notably in 2006 when her house was set on fire. “There are crooks everywhere you look now,” she wrote shortly before her death, in what was to became the final entry on her blog Running Commentary. “The situation is desperate.” Caruana Galizia had written extensively about suspected corruption in political and business circles in the European Union nation, an attractive financial haven for many

investors. Among her targets were those in Muscat’s political inner circle, including those in his Cabinet. Caruana Galizia was the subject of lawsuits by some of her subjects, including in government. While many celebrated her as an anticorruption champion, some on the island whose dealings she exposed scorned her work.

Plane’s Malfunction Causes Panic

An inbound jet from Israel caused pandemonium all across London this week after unwittingly causing a hijacking scare. The plane, which used to belong to El Al and is now being leased to a German company, had been in the middle of its flight from Tel Aviv

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to the United States when its radio broke. After pilots were unresponsive, two Royal Air Force fighter jets were dispatched to intercept the jet. In order to reach the unresponsive aircraft in time, the Royal Air Force fighter jets were forced to fly faster than the speed of sound, causing a sonic boom that shook windows throughout London. The boom, irregular for London, sparked speculation on social media, leading the City of London to release a statement reassuring its anxious residents. “We are aware of reports of a loud bang in the North London area,” tweeted the London Police. “There are no reports of an explosion, and police are investigating the incident. There is no cause for public concern.” A Royal Air Force spokesperson told the British media that “two Typhoon fighter jets were fired at about 4:09 pm at a plane which lost communications in the UK’s airspace as part of a rapid response.” The spokesperson added that  “the fighter jets dispatched to him returned to their base immediately after communication with the airplane resumed.” Speaking with the BBC, pilot Steven Giordano described the dramatic moment when two Typhoon fighter jets appeared out of nowhere during his routine flight to the United States. “It took us about 10 minutes to realize that the radio wasn’t working, and then about 10 minutes to resolve that problem,” Giordano recounted. ”I looked left and about had a heart attack when I saw one – so close – strobes on and with blueish ‘glow strips’ along the side of his fuselage,” he added. “We flashed our landing lights to acknowledge and established radio contact on ‘guard’… with the fighters. “They remained with us for about five minutes,” he said.

Arrest in Mormon Mexican Massacre Mexican authorities detained several suspects on Sunday who have been implicated in the November 4 massacre of nine Mormon women and children. The group had been ambushed as

they drove through the state of Sonora. Three women and six children were killed. Eight children survived in the massacre, including one teenage girl, who walked 14 miles to get help while her family members hid in the bushes on the side of the road. All of the victims were members of the LeBaron family, a fundamentalist Mormon group with members living along the Mexican-U.S. border. The sect broke with the Church of Latter Day Saints and moved to Mexico in the 1920s, following the LDS’s official ban of polygamy.

Relatives of the victims participated in a march on Sunday through central Mexico City demanding better security and justice for Mexicans. “We have to work together to find a way to stop the violence,” said Julián LeBarón, a member of the Mormon family. “If we’re not capable of defending life in our country, we will never be a civilized country much less a free country.” The motive behind the attack is still unclear. In a statement, Mexican authorities said that the suspect had suggested that the Jaguars, an offshoot of the Sinaloa cartel headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, were responsible for the ambush. At the time of the attack, the family was traveling through what is believed to be the Jaguars’ territory. This is not the first time that the family had run-ins with the cartels. In 2009, a member of the family, Benjamin LeBaron, was murdered along with his brother-in-law after leading a nationwide effort to pressure a local drug cartel to release his 16-year-old brother Erick, who had been kidnapped and released by the cartel a few months earlier. The family was later the subject of U.S. media coverage when it violated Mexican law by arming itself in self-defense after the attacks. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has struggled during his first year in office to weaken the hold of organized crime. Upon taking office, he vowed to combat crime using “hugs, not bullets” – an initiative to address poverty through social development programs and invest-

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019


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ment. Lopez Obrador defended his approach this week, speaking at Mexico City’s central square during a celebration of his first anniversary in office.

Hong Kong security forces. After the House passed the bill promoting Hong Kong’s quest to free itself from Chinese rule, Beijing had warned that draconian measures would follow.

China Slaps Sanctions on HK & U.S.

Iraqis Torch Iranian Consulate

China announced Monday that it will ban U.S. warships from visiting the mainland in retaliation for the passage of a House bill supporting Hong Kong. Claiming that it serves as a hub for “violent and extremist protesters,” Beijing also said that it would sanction the Human Rights Watch’s Chinese headquarters.   According to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs such as the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, National Democratic Institute, and International Republican Institute were guilty of “bad” behavior during the six months of protests that have flooded Hong Kong.  “In response to the unreasonable behavior of the U.S. side, the Chinese government has decided to suspend reviewing the applications for U.S. warships to go to Hong Kong for (rest and) recuperation as of today,” Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing. China had already denied requests for two U.S. Navy ships to dock in Hong Kong in August, without specifying a reason why. Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law two bills supporting Hong Kong that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. The first bill mandated that the State Department report on the status of Hong Kong’s autonomy every year and allows the U.S. to sanction China for human rights abuses.  The second piece of legislation, meanwhile, bans U.S. companies from selling crowd control gear such as tear and rubber bullets to

Iraqi security officials killed at least 45 protesters after demonstrators stormed and torched the Iranian consulate in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf. The bloodshed came as a new wave of violence swept across predominately Shi’ite southern Iraq, including the capital of Baghdad. Iraqis have been protesting Iran’s influence in their country and have successfully forced Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to resign.  In the southern city of Nassiriya, 29 people died after troops shot into a crowd of demonstrators who had seized a bridge. Another 45 people were wounded.  In Baghdad, meanwhile, forces reportedly belonging to the pro-Iran Hashd-Al-Shaabi militia used live ammunition to disperse a demonstration, killing four. Another 12 people died in Najaf, the Shi’ite holy city where antipathy towards Iran has been particularly fierce. In the oil-rich city of Basra, dozens of protesters were wounded after facing off with security forces.  The stepped-up violence came after angry protesters stormed and burned the Iranian consulate earlier in the day in Najaf. The torching of the building and the narrow escape of the Iranian diplomats stationed inside was seen as a symbolic move against Iranian influence in the battle-scarred country.  At least 400 people have been killed in Iraq since the protests began in October, the majority at the hands of Iranian proxy forces. The escalating violence and high death toll resulted in the resignation of


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Prime Minister Mahdi this week, who many accuse of ordering the killing at the behest of Iran.

A New Jewish Neighborhood in Hebron

Hebron’s Jewish community will likely double in size after Defense Minister Naftali Bennett gave the go-ahead on Sunday to construct a new neighborhood in the ancient city. Following a series of meetings

with security officials, Bennett ordered the IDF’s Civil Administration, which manages zoning issues in Judea and Samaria, to begin planning the new neighborhood. Hebron’s project will be built on the site of the city’s Wholesale Market, a Jewish-owned property that has been the subject of legal battles for years. Owned by Jews for almost two hundred years, the market’s owners were murdered during the 1929 massacre of Hebron’s Jewish community by the local Arabs. Despite the fact that the Jews were driven out, ownership of the market remained in Jewish hands.  After Israel liberated Hebron in 1967, descendants of the original owners began to pressure the Israeli government to build on their property. A group of Palestinians disputed the market’s legal status in court, resulting in decades of legal battles that finally culminated in a final ruling in favor of the Jewish community last year.  Now, the market will be demolished and a series of multi-story apartment buildings will be constructed in its stead along with a new shopping center. The Palestinians living in the market will be per-

mitted to remain; there are no plans to pressure them to leave.   Bennett’s decision is expected to heavily impact the city, as it will enable the 1,000-strong town to double in size. It will also connect the Avraham Avinu neighborhood to the Cave of the Patriarchs, ensuring that the holy site is surrounded by a bloc of Jewish houses.  Hebron’s Jewish community praised Bennett following his announcement, calling it “historic justice for which the Jewish people had been waiting for 90 years.” The community added that it “thanks Defense Minister Naftali Bennett from the bottom of the heart for the decision to return Jewish life to the Jewish property in Hebron.” However, Bennett’s move to construct a new neighborhood in Hebron also caused an avalanche of criticism, with left-wing politicians predicting that the move would spark a wave of Arab violence. “Someone who establishes Jewish neighborhoods in the heart of the capital of Israel’s apartheid, instead of dismantling them, is a messianic who intentionally harms the State of Israel,” fumed dovish Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg. 

Terrorist Gets Life for Killing 2 Soldiers & Baby

Assam Barghouti, a Hamas-affiliated terrorist hailing from Ramallah, was sentenced to life in prison last week for committing a slew of attacks that killed two IDF soldiers and an unborn child. The sentence was handed down by the IDF’s Ofer military court on Thursday after finding Barghouti guilty of three murder charges, 12 counts of attempted murder, obstruction of justice, and membership in a terror group. The terrorist had confessed to the charges during the hearing and boasted about the attacks he committed “to free Palestine from the occupiers.” In December 2018, Barghouti and his brother Salih had emptied two


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magazines at a popular hitchhiking spot in Ofrah before speeding off. Seven people were hurt in the shooting, including seven months pregnant Shira Ish-Ran. Shira, 21, was rushed to the hospital, where doctors rushed to perform an emergency caesarian section. Despite their efforts, the premature child passed away four days later from his injuries. A week later, Barghouti and his brother further terrorized another nearby hitchhiking spot when they opened fire at two soldiers guarding the Givat Assaf junction, in the Binyamin region.  The shooting killed Sergeant Yovel Mor Yosef, 20, and Corporal Yosef Cohen, 19, and seriously injured Sergeant Netanel Felber, who remains in critical condition today. All three soldiers had been serving in the Nahal Haredi-Netzach Yehuda Battalion, an IDF unit that caters to ultra-Orthodox troops. In addition to the soldiers, Bet El-native Shira Sabag was also injured in the attack.  The string of attacks set off a feverish manhunt by Israeli authorities, who were concerned that the murders would escalate into a third intifada. Following four intense weeks of searching, the Israel Police’s YAMAM commando unit arrested Barghouti and fatally wounded Salih in a shootout near Ramallah in January 2019.

Bolivia Renews Ties with Israel

After 11 years of adversarial relations, Bolivia will re-establish diplomatic ties with Israel. The change was first announced last week by Karen Longaric, who is serving as foreign minister in Bolivia’s transitional government. Longaric, who noted that Bolivia would renew ties with the U.S. as well, said that her country decided on the move in order to increase tourism between the two countries.  Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz congratulated the South American nation on the decision, tweeting

that this would “contribute to Israel’s foreign relations and to its international status.” “The Foreign Ministry has been long working directly with the Bolivian administration to promote the renewal of relations and also with the help of the Brazilian president and foreign minister, with whom I have recently spoken on the issue at the United Nations General Assembly in New York,” said Katz. “The departure of President Morales, who was hostile towards Israel, and his replacement by a government friendly to Israel allowed the process to materialize.” Former President Evo Morales of Bolivia had resigned last month amid massive protests over election irregularities. Morales would often condemn the Jewish State in international forums and broke off relations with the Jerusalem following Operation Cast Lead in 2008, which was Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip.  Ever since Morales’ ouster, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has been working via Brazil’s pro-Israel President Jair Bolsonaro to reestablish ties with the South American country. 

A Resting Place for Eli Cohen? The Israeli spy who managed to reach the upper echelons of Syria’s government in the 1960s is still not at rest. Eli Cohen was exposed as a spy in 1965 and was found guilty of espionage by a military tribunal and sentenced to death under martial law. He had been repeatedly interrogated and tortured. Cohen was hanged in Marieh Square in Damascus, Syria, on May 18, 1965. Rabbi Nissim Indibo, the chief rabbi of Syria, met with Eli Cohen the day he died.

But Syria has never returned Cohen’s body to his family in Israel. His wife, Nadia, sent a letter to President Amin al-Hafiz in November 1965 asking his forgiveness for Cohen’s actions and requesting his remains.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Syria has never acquiesced. Now, Khalid al-Hafidh, a Syrian living in New Zealand who claims to be the son of former Syrian President Amin al-Hafiz, says that he knows where Eli Cohen is buried. He is demanding a million dollars to reveal the location of the Israeli hero. He says the Mossad has refused to pay the ransom. “I am the son of the only person on this planet who knows where the remains are buried,” he told Newshub in an interview according to a Ynet report. “I was cooperating with the New Zealand Secret Intelligence Service, in cooperation with the Mossad, in order to help find the remains of the Israeli spy Eli Cohen,” he said. Nadia, Eli’s wife, has said that she turned to Mossad head Yossi Cohen to find out why the Mossad reportedly refused to pay a million dollars to locate her late husband’s remains. “He’s not worth the price they would have to pay?” Nadia asked. “They didn’t want to check it out? “I want him [Yossi Cohen] to clarify what this is about,” Nadia continued. “If it’s true, I lost all my trust. I don’t know if this man is lying or not.”

Gap Between Hebrew- and Arabic-Speaking Students


A report released on Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that the gap between the abilities of Hebrew-speaking students and their Arabic-speaking peers in Israeli schools is the largest between socioeconomic groups in the 79 countries that participated in a periodic assessment.

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The results of the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment, known as PISA, showed a significant gap between Hebrew and Arabic speakers in all three of the educational skills assessed – reading,

mathematics, and sciences – and revealed that the divide was even bigger than found in the last such study in 2015. In each of the three areas tested, Israel’s overall performance was below the OECD average. Education Minister Rafi Peretz said in a statement that he had ordered the establishment of a working group to find ways to improve the situation in the Arab education system. “The results, showing that the gaps increased between students of higher and lower socioeconomic backgrounds, are unacceptable,” he said. The standards found in the Arab community “require us to conduct a thorough check,” Peretz added. In the PISA tests, Hebrew speakers scored 506 points in reading skills, the same as the previous assessment. However, Arabic speakers scored just 362 points, a drop of 29 points. The OECD average is 487 points, with the overall Israeli average at 470 points. In mathematics, Hebrew speakers remained at 490 points but Arabic speakers scored 379, a drop of 12 points. The OECD average is 489, with Israel’s average at 463, down seven points. Finally, in the sciences, Hebrew-speaking Israeli students remained at 491 points, while Arab students dropped 26 points to 375. The OECD average is 489 points, and Israel’s average is 462, down five points since 2015. Overall, PISA showed a gap of 144 points in reading, 111 points in mathematics, and 116 points for sciences between Hebrew and Arabic speakers. Opposition Blue and White party leader MK Benny Gantz said in a statement: “We will not accept a situation in which Israel ranks first when it comes to gaps in educational achievement. Israel should be an educational leader.” The PISA tests assess the abilities of 15-year-olds every three years. The ministry said the working group will examine the Arabic-language syllabus, teaching material and methods, as well as how funding for extra teaching hours in the Arab community has been used. There will be a particular focus on southern Bedouin communities. Overall, among the 79 countries surveyed, Israel was 37 th in reading, 41st in mathematics, and 42nd in sciences.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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China topped the PISA results list with scores of 555 in reading, 591 in mathematics, and 590 in sciences.

Economic Sanctions Slapped on Terrorists

This week, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett signed the first executive order placing economic restrictions on members of terrorist organizations in Israel and around the world, placing a limit on the ability of individuals to use their assets to promote terrorism. A statement released by the Defense Ministry said the “targeted economic sanctions” will be an effective deterrent by placing a limit on the ability of terrorist activists to use their assets to promote and finance terrorist organization in Israel and abroad. It placed sanctions on Mohammad Jamil, a Hamas activist who was deported by Israel to Lebanon in 1992 and who has lived in Britain in recent years. According to the Defense Ministry, Jamil heads the Arab Human Rights Organization in the United Kingdom, a branch of the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization in the United Kingdom. “This is the first of its kind in Israel during the war to finance terrorism, and is the first in a chain of orders for other activists to be signed by the defense minister soon,” the statement read. “The people against whom the orders will be signed will be added to the list in the security system, which is accessible to everyone, so that dozens and later hundreds of members belonging to the terrorist organizations Hezbollah, Hamas, and others are marked across the world.” The ministry added, “At the heart of the move is a clear concept that the State of Israel will act against Islamic terrorism with additional non-military tools, with an emphasis on economic sanctions, in order to bring agencies around the world to avoid contact with terrorists.”

Bennett visited the Hatzor Air Force Base on Tuesday. “The operations against terrorists are not just in the field, but also through the wallet,” said Bennett during the visit. “Today we are embarking on a widescale economic operation against terrorists around the world. Anyone who harms us, we will chase after: whether it’s an ATM that won’t give him money or in the airport where they won’t allow him on a plane or at the entrance to a country that will refuse him entry. We will chase after the terrorists so it won’t be worth it for them to kill Israelis.”

Palestinian Firebomber Killed IDF troops fatally shot a Palestinian rioter near Hebron after he was spotted hurling firebombs at soldiers on patrol. The terrorist was identified as 18-year-old Badawi Masalmeh from the nearby village of Beit Awa. Two other suspects were detained over suspicions that they acted as a lookout for Masalmeh, and they are under investigation.  “The soldiers responded with fire and identified a hit to one of the suspects. Two additional suspects were arrested by soldiers and transferred for interrogation by security forces,” confirmed the IDF in a statement. A large part of the IDF’s activity in Judea and Samaria is concentrated on preventing Arab youths from hurling rocks and firebombs at Israeli motorists. With the region’s central Route 60 highway passing through or alongside large Palestinian villages, Arabs are able to ambush passing cars with relative ease before vanishing from sight in the sprawling cities.  Earlier this month, the military came under fire after soldiers killed 18-year-old Omar Badawi during disturbances in the Palestinian city of El Aroub next to Gush Etzion. In a video clip taken of the incident, Badawi appears to be surrendering to troops with his hands up before being fatally shot.   The footage aroused intense criticism both within Israel and internationally, and the Military Police Investigative Unit opened up an investigation. UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the incident, tweeting that “it is shocking to see

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

the video showing the killing of Bedouin by Israeli security forces in Hebron.”

Israel: World Leader in Drones

enter the private sector and put their military experience to good use in developing drone technology. “In Israel, all the people (in the industry) are ex-army soldiers, officers. The engineers who work on the development of the systems are actually operating the UAVs in the (military) reserves, in actual service. Then they come back to the office with actual and real-time feedback,” said Nadir.

Weekly Gaza Riots to Return Over the past decade, drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have established themselves as the future of modern warfare. With capabilities ranging from surveillance to “suicide drones” that can destroy targets with pinpoint accuracy, they have become game changers on battlefields in Afghanistan and Syria. The widespread use of drones has transformed drone development from a niche field to a lucrative multi-billion-dollar industry. Today, 21 countries manufacture 60 different types of UAVs; the industry is valued at over $12 billion worldwide. In addition, more than 90 countries are currently using military drones to gather intelligence, provide information on targets, and for logistics – up from only 5 in 2007. At the center of drone development is Israel. The first country to ever use drones in warfare, Israel’s frequent battles with its Arab enemies have propelled the Jewish State to constantly finetune such devices.  The urgent need to remain technologically ahead of its foes has put tiny Israel ahead of superpowers such as China and the U.S. in developing and using UAVs. “When an American company develops a mini-UAV and then it is used by the marines in Iraq or Afghanistan, it takes a few years from the development of the system until it is used on the battlefield,” Ronen Nadir noted.   A former IDF officer who oversaw Israel’s military’s drone program, Nadir said that Israel’s mandatory draft means that the country is constantly churning out highly trained engineers and operators. After they demobilize, many of these soldiers

The weekly Friday riots on the Gaza border are set to resume after an unusual three-week hiatus. The Supreme Committee for Return and Blockade Marches announced on Monday that the riots will continue this Friday, telling Palestinians that the 83rd weekly riot will be non-violent “so as not to give Israel an excuse to shoot protesters.” The Committee had halted the march last week for the third week in a row due to what it said were the “dangerous conditions such as Netanyahu’s threat to launch a new war of aggression in Gaza.” The Committee added that it feared that Netanyahu would respond to the violence by loosening the rules of engagement in order to launch a war that would keep him in office.  The unusual restraint demonstrated by Hamas sparked speculation that Israel and the terror group were close to a covert long-term ceasefire. Israel is said to have been in negotiations for over a year with Hamas to end the weekly marches in exchange for a slew of humanitarian gestures, such as expanding the fishing zone and permitting additional goods to enter Gaza.  First beginning in April 2018, the weekly disturbances known as the “March of Return” commonly feature thousands of violent Gazans hurling firebombs and rocks at IDF troops on the border. Last month, an estimated 5,500 Palestinians protested in five locations around the Gaza perimeter fence as part of the 81st March of Return. The riots saw 57 Gazans shot by

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Three-Car Collision Kills Mother of 5 A 49-year-old mother of five was killed in a grisly three-car pileup near the northern village of Kfar Tavor on Sunday. The woman, whose name was not identified by police, was killed after slamming head-on into a truck on Route 767 leading from Kfar Tavor to the Daburiah Junction. Magen Dovid Adom (MDA) crews arriving at the scene attempted to resuscitate her but were forced to pronounce her dead at the scene.  “This is a very serious car accident,” MDA paramedic Mohammed Shibli told the media. “One of the drivers, a 49-year-old woman, was trapped in the driver’s seat unconscious, without a pulse and not breathing. “We rescued her from the vehicle and transferred her to an ambulance while performing reputation efforts but she had sustained multiple injuries, and in the end, we had to pronounce her death.” Police shut down the road in both directions for hours after the accident and have opened an investigation into the deadly pileup. The accident came a day after 34-year-old Tzipi Rimel and her three-week-old daughter Noam Rochel were killed in a shocking collision near Jerusalem. Ephraim, Tzipi’s husband, remains in critical condition, as does their 12-year-old son, Itai. The driver, an 18-year-old Arab from East Jerusalem, was arrested for negligent manslaughter and remains in custody. 

333 Witnesses to Testify Against Bibi

A revised criminal indictment shows that no less than 333 witness-

es are slated to testify against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when his three separate criminal trials begin. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit delivered the indictment to Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein on Monday. The new indictment replaces the original version, which was issued in late November, and includes more details such as the location of the trial and a list of witnesses.  As stipulated in the indictment, Netanyahu will be tried in the Jerusalem District Court. The choice of Jerusalem as the site of his trial is likely good news for the prime minister, as the judges in the Tel Aviv District Court – the other option for the criminal trial – are thought to be considerably more hostile to Netanyahu. The extensive witness list includes some of Israel’s most powerful and wealthiest people, as well as a veritable who’s who of the country’s political scene. Included as witnesses are billionaires such as Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the controlling owners of the country’s most-read Israel Hayom newspaper.  The Adelsons are expected to tell the court that Netanyahu asked them to restrict Israel Hayom’s circulation in order to benefit the competing Yediot Aharonot newspaper. In the probe known as Case 2000, Netanyahu is charged with breach of trust and fraud over suspicions that he offered to limit Israel Hayom’s circulation in exchange for receiving positive press coverage from Yediot Aharonot’s owner Noni Mozes.  Other moguls set to testify are philanthropist Ronald Lauder, Israeli-American film magnate Arnon Milchan, and Australian billionaire James Packer. The aforementioned tycoons are set to appear in court to testify about the lavish gifts such as champagne and cigars that they gave Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.  Known as Case 1000, prosecutors say that the gifts were really bribes in exchange for regulatory benefits for Milchan and Packer.  Other witnesses are a parade of Netanyahu’s former aides, many of whom have since turned state’s witness and will testify against their own boss. These top advisors include U.S. Ambassador Ron Dermer, Perach Lerner, Netanyahu’s lawyer and cousin David Shimron, David Sharan, Nir Hefetz, Shlomo Filber, and Avi Harow. Soon after the list was revealed,

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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

30-year-old Greg Milano created a miniature Tesla Cybertruck with homemade mashed potatos over the Thanksgiving weekend

Netanyahu ridiculed the large number of witnesses and said that his innocence would prevail in the end. “When there’s a real case, you don’t need 333 witnesses, and when there’s no real case, even 333 witnesses won’t help,” Netanyahu tweeted.

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President Donald Trump’s surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan took place under such secrecy that even the first lady was unaware that her husband was flying into a war zone. Last Thursday, Trump surprised troops in Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield by turning up during their traditional Thanksgiving dinner. During his surprise visit, Trump served turkey to soldiers, posed for photos, and huddled with Afghani President Ashraf Ghani.  Behind the visit was an intense effort by the Secret Service and other officials to keep the public unaware that Trump was planning on jetting

into one of the most dangerous countries in the world. As scheduled, Trump began his day with a round of golf at his MarA-Lago club in Florida. After wrapping up his game, the president flew back to Washington, D.C.’s Joint Base Andrews at 7 p.m. for his scheduled trip to the White House.  Yet instead of his motorcade ferrying him to his residence, Trump hopped on an air force jet surreptitiously parked in the same hangar as Air Force One. The president’s famous blue and white plane, meanwhile, remained on the tarmac to serve as a decoy and to suggest that Trump was on the way to the White House as planned.  For the next 12 hours, the commander-in-chief was airborne. In order to maintain secrecy, all cellphones and electronics onboard were confiscated, including the president’s devices. The 12 reporters on board were also not told where they were going and were only clued in after the airplane touched down in Bagram Air Base. In addition, the press was not allowed to file their story, or even get their electronic devices back, until they departed Afghanistan. Only a handful of advisors were allowed to join the president, including Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and Wyoming Senator John Barrasso. Special attention was given to Trump’s Twitter account. During his surprise visit to Iraq last December, the president aroused suspicion for failing to tweet during the nine hours he was airborne. So, in order to avoid arousing suspicion as to why Trump’s Twitter account remained quiet – a rarity for the vocal president – staff members would periodically post ge-

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

neric Thanksgiving tweets every few hours. Meanwhile, almost the entire West Wing remained unaware of the president’s whereabouts. This included First Lady Melania Trump, who was not clued in by the Secret Service due to fears that the president would be in danger if the Taliban or al-Qaeda was aware of his arrival in the war-torn country.  The focus on secrecy was so extraordinary that even many of the Secret Service officers guarding the White House were reportedly kept in the dark.  “It’s a dangerous area, and he wants to support the troops,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham recounted. “He and Mrs. Trump recognize that there’s a lot of people far away from their families during the holidays, and we thought it’d be a nice surprise.”

Evacuation after Texas Plant Explosion Texas officials lifted an evacuation order two days after a chemical

plant exploded last week, allowing area residents to return home. Jefferson Country Judge Jeff Branick agreed to lift the order after determining that the fires at the TPC Group Plant in Port Neches were under control.

“We are in a position to say it’s contained,” Branick said. “We feel comfortable with the efforts that have been made by our firefighters.” The evacuation had forced an estimated 50,000 people to spend Thanksgiving in nearby hotels and public shelters and had been implemented after the TPC Group Plant exploded. The explosions, which occurred on Wednesday, happened at a site used to manufacture chemicals for producing synthetic rubber. The first blast took place at 1 a.m. and sent debris flying for miles away. Residents reported broken glass

while doors were ripped off their hinges. The second explosion occurred 13 hours later and resulted in a massive fire that has yet to be extinguished. Three people were injured in the mishap. While the full extent of the damage has yet to be determined, environmental activists say that air pollution levels in the area have risen considerably ever since the detonations. Local residents have also been warned not to touch any white power due to fears that it could be toxic asbestos from the 1940s. “Smoke is still coming from the source where the explosion happened, there is still toxic fumes in that smoke,” said environmental activist Hilton Kelley. “We know for a fact that there’s benzene in that plume, we know that there’s 1,3-butadeine, and we just discovered that there’s also asbestos in that plume... But just how much is still uncertain at this particular time, and we want to make sure that all our citizens are safe.”

Queens Sewage Flood

Over Thanksgiving weekend, a clogged water line in South Jamaica caused raw sewage to flood tens of homes, leaving many residents homeless. A blockage in the neighborhood’s main sewer conduit near 150th St and Rockaway Blvd. caused the flood. Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Edward Timbers said crews worked overnight to pump water out of the blocked sewer. The affected homes spanned the 15-square block area just north of Kennedy Airport and the Belt Parkway. Dozens of families were left homeless on Saturday night. The local Public School 223 on Sutphin Blvd. was converted into a makeshift shelter. Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said workers on Sunday “set up what’s called a bypass sys-

tem, where we put a large pipe aboveground on the street” near where the sewer main backed up. Because the sewer main is buried about 40 feet deep, the work required special structural supports from a company in Massachusetts to shore up the excavated trench. At least 74 homes had been affected, many of them without heat or water because of the sewage that at some homes reached levels of several feet in their basements.

A U.S. Threat on French Goods

U.S. trade officials proposed a wave of tariffs on French goods on Monday as they released a report revealing that a new French tax on digital services  – affecting large American tech companies such as Facebook and Google – represents a barrier to trade. The list of proposed U.S. tariffs covers dozens of products, including cheeses, beauty products, handbags, and sparkling wines such as champagne. The move risks raising escalating transatlantic trade tensions after the United States already hit $7.5 billion worth of European goods — including French wine, Italian parmesan cheese and Scotch whiskey — in October over subsidies to plane-maker Airbus (EADSF). Roughly $2.4 billion in French products could be subject to the new taxes of up to 100%, the office of the United States Trade Representative said on Monday. The public will have until early January to weigh in on the proposal. The report and proposed tariffs could drive a further wedge between members of the European Union and President Donald Trump, who in July threatened France with “substantial reciprocal action” if it moved forward with its digital services tax. Trump told reporters in London on Tuesday that while he was “not in love” with Facebook and Google, he would defend U.S. businesses. “I’m not going to let people take

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Prison for Perpetrators of Fatal Car Crash


n Tuesday, December 3, Rahmel Watkins and Zakiyyah Steward were sentenced for their roles in the 2018 April car crash that killed Elisheva Kaplan and Yisroel Levin, a”h, on the Nassau Expressway in Lawrence. Elisheva and Yisroel had been engaged to be married when they were killed. Watkins, 36, received an 18year to life prison sentence. He was convicted on four counts of second-degree assault, two counts of negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, and reckless driving in September. Steward, 25, was given a sentence of 3 to 9 years, which was expected. Earlier in the year, on February 27, Steward pleaded guilty to 17 charges ranging from manslaughter second degree, assault second-degree, reckless driving and endangerment, three vehicular traffic laws, vehicular manslaughter second-degree twice and one first-degree count, and aggravated vehicular homicide. Both Watkins and Steward were part of a group racing each other on the Nassau Expressway on the night of the tragedy. Steward was speeding while she was driving and was impaired by marijuana. Watkins was driving around 100 mph before his car swerved into the opposite lane and then crashed into Elisheva and Yisroel’s car, which then burst into flames. The young couple was killed instantly. Before she was sentenced, Steward read a statement and expressed remorse for her actions. “To the Kaplan and Levin families, I’m very sorry for your loss,” she said. “I pray for you more than I pray for myself. I’ll never forgive myself for what I’ve done, but hopefully one day, you will have it in your heart to forgive me.” Nassau County prosecutors Katie Zizza and Christopher Casa presented both cases. The prosecutors requested that Judge Francis Ricigliano sentence Watkins to 25 years to life. “This case is every parent’s nightmare, which is not having their child return

home,” Zizza said. “This defendant’s reckless driving caused two young people to die.” “This trial was never about revenge – it was about mercy,” Elisheva’s father, Rabbi Joel Kaplan, said. “Mercy to ordinary citizens who were obeying the law. “I obviously have a solemn feeling because Yisroel and Elisheva cannot be brought back to life,” he added. “I also have solemn feelings for the two people who caused their deaths because they have to go to jail. But we must never use sympathy to justify people who are a danger to others.” R’ Shaya Levin, Yisroel’s father, said he was disappointed with the sentencing. “We appealed to the judge to give Watkins 25 years to life,” R’ Levin said. “He had the opportunity to do the right thing and give 25. Instead, he gave 18.” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas commended the families for their strength throughout the trial process. “These were two young people who were taken from their families in a horrific way because of the actions of two other people,” Singas said. “I hope the families show the same strength as they continue their lives and know that the memories of their families are always with them.” Out of the tragedy, the families have been propelled to help Klal Yisroel. An initiative to redt shidduchim called 10KBatayYisroel was started with the hope of making more shidduchim. So far, more than 10,000 shidduchim have been redt in the memory of Elisheva and Yisroel.

advantage of American companies,” the president said. “If anyone is going to take advantage of the American companies, it’s going to be us – it’s not going to be France.” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the European Union “would be ready to retaliate strongly” against U.S. sanctions. “It is not what one would expect from an ally; it is not what one would expect from the United States,” Le Maire said. The French measure, which was approved this summer, charges a 3% tax on revenues earned by companies that provide digital services in the country. A number of other countries including Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom are considering passing similar measures, in what U.S. and tech industry officials worry could be a fragmenting of the global corporate tax system.

9 Killed in Plane Crash

The pilot of the plane that crashed and left nine people dead in South Dakota was given permission to fly by the Federal Aviation Administration, despite limited visibility in the air, according to a press release from the National Transportation Safety Administration. The single-engine Pilatus PC-12 was cleared on Saturday to fly from Chamberlain Municipal Airport to Idaho Falls, Idaho. The visibility that day was about half a mile with snow and ice along with overcast skies. When the pilot didn’t activate his flight plan, the FAA issued an alert for a missing plane, the NTSB said. The plane had crashed one mile north of the Chamberlain Airport. Twelve people were on the flight, and three survived. The survivors were taken to Sioux Falls for treatment. Four generations of an Idaho Falls family were killed in the crash while traveling on a hunting trip. Brothers Jim and Kirk Hansen, founders of health and wellness company Kyäni Inc., were on the plane with their father, Jim Hansen Sr.

Also killed in the crash were Jim Hansen Jr.’s son, Jake Hansen, and Jake’s son, Houston. Kirk Hansen’s sons, Stockton and Logan, and his sons-in-law, Kyle Naylor and Tyson Dennert, also died in the crash.

Bloomberg News Setback

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said on Monday it will no longer issue press credentials to reporters working for Bloomberg News, the agency owned by Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg. The news agency said following Bloomberg’s announcement of his presidential bid that it would no longer critically cover the Democratic presidential candidates – including Bloomberg and his rivals – but would go on covering President Trump. Trump’s re-election campaign made the announcement after Bloomberg’s declaration. Credentials enable reporters to more easily access rallies and other campaign events leading up to the November 2020 election. Members of the public must obtain tickets from the campaign and then wait in long lines to enter events. “Since they have declared their bias openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign events,” Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “We will determine whether to engage with individual reporters or answer inquiries from Bloomberg News on a case-bycase basis.” Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and billionaire media mogul who owns the eponymous news organization, announced on November 24 that he would seek the Democratic nomination for president. Separately, he is spending $100 million of his own money on digital ads attacking Trump. In response to the Trump cam-

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

paign announcement, Bloomberg News quoted editor-in-chief John Micklethwait as saying, “The accusation of bias couldn’t be further from the truth. “We have covered Donald Trump fairly and in an unbiased way since he became a candidate in 2015 and will continue to do so despite the restrictions imposed by the Trump campaign.”

Kamala Cuts Out

Kamala Harris is ending her presidential bid and suspending her campaign, she announced on Tuesday. In a statement, the Democratic senator from California explained she did not have enough funding to continue her run for the White House. Calling it “one of the hardest decisions of my life,” and one she had made over the last few days, Harris said her campaign “simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.” “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign,” she said. “And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.” In an illustration of how big money can win votes, according to aides, by the end of this week former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will have spent on advertising alone about twice what Harris had raised for her own bid since the beginning of the year. Initially, when Harris began her campaign in Oakland in January, many thought that she would be the perfect candidate to win the Democratic ticket. The first woman and first black attorney general and U.S. senator in California’s history, she was widely viewed as a candidate poised to excite the multiracial coalition of voters that sent Barack Obama to the White House. But Harris stumbled at times, failing to articulate how she stood on healthcare and then fumbling on her views on federal busing – despite confronting Joe Biden on his stance in the first presidential debate.

Harris is the third Democratic candidate to end their candidacy in 48 hours. Steve Bullock and Joe Sestak both dropped out this week. Now, the Democratic field, though still crowded, has 15 candidates still attempting to reach the Oval Office.

Yoga in Aisle Five

Hoping to entice shoppers with more than just discounts on cereals and marinara sauce, supermarkets are offering consumers ways to cut their calories on their next shopping spree. Hy-Vee said it’s teaming up with high-intensity training gym OrangeTheory to build studios attached to two of its stores. In Morristown, New Jersey, ShopRite opened a store with a fitness studio that offers yoga and Zumba classes for its shoppers with loyalty cards. And Whole Foods’ flagship store in Austin, Texas, partners with barre, spinning and yoga studios in the area for classes on its rooftop plaza. Now shoppers get to do it all at once: hit the gym and cross off all the items on their shopping lists. We hope that they’re buying spmething other than Oreos and chocolate. Think that yoga is the answer to your not-so-trim waistline? Supermarkets are also catering to the diet-conscious consumer by offering juice bars and health clinics to their stores. The Hy-Vee supermarket in West Des Moines, Iowa, is just one-sixth the size of a regular Hy-Vee store but offers a pharmacy, health clinic, and hearing aid and sports nutrition areas. It also has nitro coffee, kombucha and Bevi-infused water on-tap. Who cares if they don’t have the spaghetti you really want, as long as you can chug specialty water.

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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

It’s Existential

If you don’t know what “existential” means, you better look it up. That’s because “existential” is’s word of the year. Apparently, we’ve all been tackling deep issues in 2019. According to the site, the word “inspires us to ask big questions about who we are and what our purpose is in the face of our various challenges – and it reminds us that we can make choices about our lives in how we answer those questions.” There are multiple ways to define the word “existential.” “Entering English in the late 1600s, this ‘existential’ is often used when the fact of someone or something’s being – its very existence – is at stake. An existential threat to a species, for example, puts its continued existence in real, concrete peril,” the site said. Another way to use it is “concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual’s freely made choices,” according to Like for example, that time when Google Calendar was down for three hours and we all had an existential crisis. You can also associate this second definition with “existential questions,” which often seek answers relating to the “nature and purpose of life,” the site said. Think: “To be or not to be,” and “Why bother making my bed anyway?” The word “captures a sense of grappling with the survival – literally and figuratively – of our planet, our loved ones, our ways of life,” said. One of the reasons that the site chose “existential” as its word of the year has to do with the presidential race. Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, once called President Donald Trump an “existential threat to America.” “One thing’s for sure: Biden’s use of ‘existential’ sent searches for the word up over 1,000%,” the site noted. Last year’s word of the year was

“misinformation.” In 2017, the magic word was “complicit.” Can I put in a bid for “butterflies” as the 2020 word of the year?

Chicks for Cellphones

In an effort to combat internet and smartphone addiction, an Indonesian city is giving out pet chicks to 2,000 elementary and middle school students. The local government in Bandung, West Java, announced that students at 12 elementary and middle school students were given the baby chickens in a bid to give the children activities that will keep them off the internet and their smartphones. The average Indonesian internet user spends more than 8.5 hours a day surfing the web. That’s the fifth highest in the world. Mayor Oded Danial said when he proposed the plan in October that raising chicks would also teach the students valuable skills and foster a sense of responsibility. They are required to take care of the baby chickens before and after school. Some children, after hearing of the program, said that they want to breed chickens or that they hope to care for their chicks until they are big enough to cook. But others still said it’s more interesting playing with a smartphone. Danial said prizes would be awarded to the students who raise their chicks into the largest chickens. But, of course, they shouldn’t count their chickens before they hatch.

A Familiar Ring A woman from Oregon who lost her wedding ring during a 1992 ski trip has the heirloom back on her finger after it turned up more than 2,000 miles away in Alabama. When Melissa De La Mare lost her wedding ring skiing at Mount Bachelor in Bend, Oregon, more

than 25 years ago, she had only been married a few months.

The ring was especially precious to Melissa and her husband, Jim Gibson, because it had originally been owned by her mother-in-law. “We lost something that meant something to the family, not from a monetary value point of view,” Gibson said. Last summer, Heather Langley, a jewelry maker in Alabama, heard about a ring that was found at Mount Bachelor by a worker in the early 1990s. Using information from the worker and clues including first names engraved inside the band, Heather was able to track down Melissa. She traveled to Portland to hand over the treasure to the couple. Amazingly, the ring still fits on Melissa’s finger. Bells are ringing.

Fine Inequality

All things are not created equal. Recently, it’s been trending that a number of libraries around the country have been dropping their late fees because they say that the fines associated with late returns deter low-income residents from borrowing books. Public libraries in San Diego, Boston, and Chicago have been addressing what they view as an “inequality” problem. In April, the San Diego Public Library cleared outstanding late fees, which affected more than 130,000 people. Chicago’s libraries implemented a fine-free policy last month and

have seen a 240 percent increase in returns. This month, the Boston Public Library stopped charging late fees to minors. Other libraries around the country have certain days when they forgive fines. For instance, in 2017, San Francisco’s public library recovered almost 700,000 items in six weeks during a forgiveness period. The American Library Association passed a resolution last January calling fines a “form of social inequity” and urging libraries to get rid of them. Apparently, responsibility is only for people with large bank accounts.

Work Like a Dog

This job is for the dogs. A British couple is offering nearly $40,000 a year for a full-time dog-sitter to take care of their two golden retrievers. The job posting on Silver Swan Search seeks a full-time, live-in caretaker for golden retrievers Milo and Oscar at the London home of the canines’ owners. The owners are both business executives who often have to travel internationally for business. Looking to earn gobs of money to take care of two dogs? You’ll also need to do the laundry and ironing; run household errands; prepare simple meals; and “work as a team to ensure everything is done to the highest possible standard.” Dog biscuits anyone? The position, which requires work Monday through Friday and some weekends, pays $38,676$41,254 a year, plus room and board. Oh, and you must have a “passion for dog care.” Woof!

Traffic Trivia Centerfold, page 76

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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the

Community Living the Torah


he students in Rabbi Singer’s 6th grade shiur at Yeshiva of South Shore recently went on a special trip to the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn. Rabbi Shaul Shimon Deutsch, founder of the museum, gave the students a tour of the

museum, engaging the students in a variety of different artifacts. They saw an ancient spear from the time of the Navi. Rabbi Deutsch showed them the world’s tiniest Sefer Torah declared by The Guinness Book of World Records. It’s so small it was

able to fit on the bicep of sixth grade student Yossi Davidovits. Rabbi Deutsch also taught them about kashrus and showed them different animals and simanim that signify that they’re kosher. He also showed the students the controver-

sial sail fish. He showed them how there is a debate about whether or not the fish actually has scales or not. The students were enamored by all the different artifacts that the museum has accumulated and had a great experience there.



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Around the Community

OHEL’s 50th Annual Gala, A Milestone Event

OHEL’s Co-Presidents Jay Kestenbaum and Mel Zachter and CEO David Mandel with elected officials, Councilman Kalman Yager, Assemblyman David Weprin, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, Councilman Chaim Deutsch, and Ira Ganger, OHEL Board Member

Apple Bank President & CEO Steven C. Bush accepting the Kaylie Community Impact Award from Gloria Kaylie and Alicia Kaylie Yacoby


HEL Children’s Home & Family Services held its 50th Annual Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis on Sunday evening, November 24 – commemorating five decades of providing safety and support to over 120,000 vulnerable children, adults, and families while strengthening our communities. Aaron Jungreis, Annette Rubin, and David Brecher were the Honorary Gala Co-Chairs. In 1969, OHEL, like Apollo 11, made history.  Fifty years later, OHEL took another giant leap with an innovative Gala program that communicated the work with individuals and families as never been told before. More than 1,000 guests at this milestone celebration were mesmerized by a multimedia presentation, narrated by Brett Culp, an award-winning documentary filmmaker.  Brett took the audience through OHEL’s multi-faceted breadth and depth of services, “Illustrating the Invisible.” The room came alive with visuals and powerful videos and a live presentation of the “Faces of OHEL.” These faces included adults who were once placed in OHEL’s foster care program who have grown to be successful adults and included a physician.  Also featured were two married couples living in OHEL supported housing and a survivor of domestic violence who lived in an OHEL shelter. All of the individuals representing the faces of OHEL have indeed taken their own personal bold steps and giant leaps with the assistance of OHEL professionals.   Meridian Capital Group was the Gala Guests of Honor.  Ralph Herzka, Chairman and CEO of Meridian, accepted the award, along with members of his leadership team, from Moishe Hellman, OHEL’s Ombudsman and President Emeritus. Meridian dedicated the Meridian Capital Group Volunteer Program at OHEL in 2004, encouraging everyone, from adolescents to the elderly, to be involved in helping others, whether it be one-on-one, providing respite for parents on a holiday trip, with foster children, or with adults with disabilities in day programs.      Honorees included Steven Bush, president and CEO of Apple Bank, receiving the Kaylie Community Impact Award from Gloria Kaylie and Alicia

Meridian Capital Group, Guests of Honor, accepting their award

The Nussbaum family receiving the Nediv Lev Award

Yacoby; Tsippy and Stuart Nussbaum, Judith Goldberg-Ness and Dr. Seth Ness, and David and Susan Mandel.   Mel Zachter and Jay Kestenbaum, OHEL’s co-presidents, commenting on the awe-inspiring evening, said, “Tonight, while OHEL looks back in celebration of 50 years of service to the local community via its array of services, and nationally through Camp Kaylie, as well as its work in trauma, it also looks forward.”  OHEL remains positioned to continue to serve all in need. There is a great focus today on anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, loneliness and isolation, and autism spectrum disorder – all areas of specialty at OHEL.

The energy of the evening was palpable, as the awe-inspiring program celebrated some of the 1,300 employees, volunteers, and leaders of a gold standard organization which elevates and transforms the lives of countless individuals, all under the same tent that is OHEL. The entire program can be viewed at http://www. OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services offers a breadth of services  that  meet the everyday needs of individuals and families. To access more information or services, please call 1-800-603-OHEL, email, or visit

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

On Monday, December 2, State Senator Todd Kaminsky discussed civics with Ms. Sarah Abraham and Ms. Allison Silver’s fourth grade classes at Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island

Midlife Powwow at JWOW!


t’s time, we decided. It’s time to share with our fellow female friends. Broadening the conversations we were holding about midlife beyond just the three of us was our intention. We spoke to our peers and they heard us. They shared with us. They encouraged us, and so JWOW! Jewish Women of Wisdom was launched. Co-founders Miriam Liebermann, MSW, Sara Brejt, JD, and Rebbetzin Faigie Horowitz, MS, have started a national group for the Jewish midlife woman in her fifties and sixties. It’s a time when women often have emptier nests, confront new challenges, and consider new opportunities. Relationships with adult children are changing. Relationships with parents are fraught with caregiving responsibilities. Marriages are confronting retirement realities, and individual needs may change. The appeal of unexplored careers and interests become stronger. Some of us have more time than before. Others are busier than ever; they are the panini in the multi-generational squeeze. The transitions are many. And women want to talk! They prefer to learn from one another. How to communicate to our marrieds. How to cook for two. How

Rebbetzin Faigie Horowitz

to spend available time with fulfillment. How to create meaning from our same old tasks and responsibilities now that we have time to be mindful. Women who have experienced life and grown through its challenges trust one another. They know that they have muscles and have acquired wisdom. Women in the midlife years tend to be authentic. They know who they are. They express themselves with honesty and confidence. They are ready to share their challenges, fears, and solutions. And share they have! In several introductory events in various locations, women have flocked to JWOW! events. At evening get-togethers held in Lakewood, Monsey, Brooklyn, and over a conference line, women have turned out in surprising numbers and communicated. Strengths, vulnerabilities, inspirational new journeys, moves to new locations, and new studies were on the

Sara Brejt

table. Each forum featured presentations by the founders and an interactive activity to prompt discussion of options. In each location, an individual local woman leader shared her own midlife journey in an atmosphere of camaraderie and friendship. JWOW! is coming to the Five Towns community on December 9 at the Ohel Sarah Amen Group in Lawrence. The co-founders will facilitate an interactive discussion on enriching midlife. Editor of two groundbreaking anthologies for frum midlife women, The Best is Yet to Be and To Fill the Sky with Stars (Menucha Publishing), Miriam Liebermann, MSW, of Manhattan’s West Side is a thought leader on these topics. She can be heard each month, together with other panelists including Rebbetzin Faigie Horowitz, on the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s Empty Nest Forum on the Chazak Line. An unadvertised sym-

Miriam Liebermann

posium that draws over three thousand listeners monthly, this has become a Rosh Chodesh treat for women of all ages. Miriam has long been a voice of support to the bereaved through her book co-authored with Dr. Neal Goldberg, Saying Goodbye (Targum Press), and in various periodicals. She has brought awareness of many community issues to the fore in her writing. Although she is currently a Baltimore resident, Sara Brejt, JD, lived in the Far Rockaway community a number of years ago. A career changer herself, she chose to engage with people and retrained as a career counselor and life coach to support people in their personal and professional journeys. With the credentials to administer the two primary diagnostic tools in her field, the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator and Strong Interest Inventory, she skillfully she opens people up to their possibilities. Sara, the

founder of Women’s Learning Connection, an outreach group in Cleveland, is currently an educator at WITS (Women’s Institute of Torah in Baltimore) and a columnist at Nashim Magazine. Rebbetzin Faigie Horowitz of Lawrence, NY, is known to The Jewish Home readers as a panelist in the nationally syndicated Dating Dialogue column. An active rebbetzin of Congregation Agudas Achim in Lawrence, she is known beyond our community for her organizational work, professional accomplishments, and writing. She is a founder of Rachel’s Place, the Brooklyn shelter for runaway and homeless young women, a board member of Makor Disability Services of Brooklyn, and a volunteer for several emergent groups. A non-profit executive at the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, Met Council, Chai Lifeline, and other social service groups, she currently serves as the director of communication at Caring Professionals Home Care. JWOW! is currently developing a newsletter and a communication platform for regular sharing. For more on upcoming events, membership, and formation of a local chapter, contact

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019








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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

On Monday, November 25, MTA’s Sports Management Club enjoyed a private tour of Citi Field, including the ballpark, offices, clubhouse, and operations center. Talmidim met with David Hayob, senior director of Corporate Partnerships for the Mets, and learned about all of the details that go into planning a major sporting event.

Rabbi Openheim and his first grade talmidim at Siach Yitzchok enjoyed a trip to the Staten Island Zoo

A Taste of Home


ver Thanksgiving weekend, DRS Mashgiach Ruchani Rabbi Aryeh Cohen visited our alumni learning in Eretz Yisroel. 95% of DRS graduates spend a year studying in various yeshivot in Israel following their senior year. DRS thanks the Strauss family for opening their home to the Melava Malka reunion led by Rabbi Cohen. In January, DRS Menahel Rabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky, Judaic Studies principal, Rabbi Elly Storch, Director of Israel Guidance, and Rabbi Avi Weber will visit DRS alumni learning in nearly 20 different yeshiva in Israel, to reconnect with them, and continue to strengthen

the rebbe-talmid relationship for which DRS is so famous. Rabbi Kaminetsky, Rabbi Storch, and Rabbi

Weber meet with every single student, documenting each of their experiences in order to better serve

our students when helping them make their decision of where to go to yeshiva in the future.Â

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

MTA Hosts Community-Wide Thanksgiving Learning Program

Rabbi Stone of Siach Yitzchok visited Rabbi Juravel’s seventh grade class and taught them a beautiful niggun and vort on the pasuk “Ivdu es Hashem b’simcha.”


ast week, MTA hosted a community-wide Thanksgiving Learning program in Bergen County, Brooklyn, Monsey, Passaic, Queens, and West Hempstead. More than 200 community members joined MTA talmidim and rebbeim for Shacharis, followed by breakfast and a shiur given by MTA rebbeim. The Bergen County program was hosted at Congregation Beth Abraham with a shiur from Rabbi Evan Genachowski; the Brooklyn program was held at Kehilah Marine Park with a shiur by Rabbi Mordechai Brownstein; the Monsey program

was hosted by Kehillas Bais Yehuda of Wesley Hills with a shiur by Rabbi Tani Cohen; the Passaic program was held at Kehilas Beis Shalom with a shiur by Rabbi Avraham Shulman; the Queens program was held at the Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills with a shiur by Head of School Rabbi Joshua Kahn; and the West Hempstead program was held at Congregation Anshei Shalom with a shiur by Rabbi Elon Soniker. MTA talmidim were excited to share the incredible learning they experience at yeshiva every day with their communities.

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10 Years of Connection


RS’s Class of 2009 celebrated their 10-year reunion at the school’s beautiful building in Woodmere. One of the hallmarks of DRS is its deep commitment to keep in touch with its alumni base. At DRS, one’s relationship with his

school lasts well beyond the four years of high school. DRS holds a 10 year reunion for every grade that passes through its halls. Last Motzei Shabbos, alumni from the school’s ninth graduating class were reacquainted with old friends, rabbeim,

and teachers where they enjoyed a melava malka dinner and were entertained by a “Class of 2009 Trivia Game.” DRS Menahel Rabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky addressed the crowd of former students, urging them to keep in touch, and stressing the fact

that their former rabbeim are always there for them, no matter when. Associate Principal Rabbi Elly Storch also urged the alumni to “please continue to use us for is what we love to do.”

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

YOSS First Grade Siddur Celebration


he first grades at Yeshiva of South Shore celebrated a monumental milestone as they have received their very first siddurim! The boys came dressed in white shirts in honor of the simcha. Rabbi Robinson, menahel of the elementary division, infused the boys with excitement and emphasized how their siddur is their new best friend, a message that Harav Binyamin Kamenetzky, zt”l, imparted to previous first graders. The boys were then photographed individually holding their new siddur together with their rebbi; Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, rosh yeshiva; and Rabbi Robinson. The boys were then treated to a class celebration with pizza and nosh sure to give them warm feelings towards their tefilla journey.

Rambam Recognizes Excellence The Jewish Home wishes Sofia Solomon a very happy first birthday

YCQ Fourth Grade Melave Malka


By Leah Davis


n Motza’ei Shabbat, November 23, 2019, the fourth grade girls at Yeshiva of Central Queens participated in the first ever Melave Malka at Yeshiva of Central Queens. The atmosphere was funfilled and interactive. The program was a Mother-Daughter-Grandmother event. The fourth grade girls made creative art projects with their moms and their grandmothers. Aliza Milchman said, “I loved working on the project with my mom. I did half and she did half.” There was amazing food for the Melave Malka and laughter throughout the night. The night’s guest speaker, Mrs. Amit Yaghoubi, told the girls a moving story of an Israeli soldier on patrol in Israel, captivating the audience throughout her entire speech.

By Dovid Edelkopf

There was silence in the room as Mrs. Yagoubi related the story. “I learned at the Melave Malka that whenever I need something, I just have to look to Hashem,” said Ravital Badalov. The theme of the evening was emunah and how Hashem is always with His people.

ast Friday, Rambam students were called down to a surprise awards assembly before first period. Plaques were given to some of the many contestants who won October’s Contest of The Month: “The Same Letter Writing Challenge.” Honorable mentions included freshman Binyamin Gross, junior Binyamin Werner, senior Dovid Edelkopf, and rebbi, Rabbi Sicklick.  Mrs. Rachel Flam won in the “Parent Entry” category, but ultimately freshman Dovid Tzvi Daskal won the day (and month!) with his entry.  Additionally, sophomore Yaakov Zerykier and junior Yoni Bench received School Service Awards for working hard to create the school’s first “Student Supply Center.” Located on the second floor, it’s a place where students can always access things like staplers, tape, and scissors. Stu-

dents can also borrow pens or pencils should they find themselves without. They hope to expand the program to include two more centers, one each on the first floor and in the basement. Shai Fish was handed his belated “Photo of the Week” plaque going back to his collaboration with Rueben Azose last year. Mr. Goldman also took the opportunity to update the standings for the inter-Rebbe Mishmar contest where rebbeim compete to come up with the most interesting Mishmar names. Each Mishmar’s winner is decided by an anonymous panel of random students. Thus far, Rabbi Haar and Rabbi Knoll are tied for first place with two wins each, with upstart Rabbi Meth hot on their trail with one win. From learning, to service, to creativity; from students, parents, and rebbeim, there is something for everyone at Rambam.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

SKA JUMP Team Attends Conference

SKA Advisory Focuses on Gratitude



he weekly Advisory Program at the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls has been deemed a success by faculty members and students alike! Led by SKA’s Guidance Department, Advisory helps students form a close relationship with their teachers and peers, while providing guidance and support.

The theme of the past few weeks has been gratitude, and the girls in Mrs. Beaty Menchel’s group really applied what they’ve learned by showing hakarat hatov to the security guards on the SKA campus. They collected money for doughnuts and presented them to the guards on Tuesday, November 26. Yashar koach!

KA attendees to this year’s NCSY JUMP (Jewish Unity Mentoring Program) Conference – Rachel Bodek, Kelly Friedman, Kayla Frenkel, Avigail Goldberg, Atara Greenfield, Sarah Leiderman, Hannah Lifschutz, Riki Posner, Ayelet Rosman and Arielle Yarmish – had an exciting few days of training on Sunday, November 10 through Tuesday, November 12, in Connecticut. The NCSY National Leadership Program empowers high school stu-

dents across the country to develop leadership skills and implement programs in their schools and local communities. The girls participated in “hack-a-thon” style sessions where they created a project called “Stop, Drop and Chop” in the hope of helping people understand the meaning behind mitzvot. Thanks go to Rebecca Lipsky for chaperoning and to faculty advisor Rebecca Aryeh for all her help. Good luck to the JUMP Team on their project!

Yeshiva Darchei Torah to Honor Rabbi & Mrs. Shimon Finkelman


eshiva Darchei Torah’s 47 th anniversary dinner will take place on Sunday, January 12 at the Yeshiva. The evening will include five awards, one of which will be the Harbotzas Torah Award, presented to Rabbi Shimon and Mrs. Tova Finkelman. A beloved mechanech at Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Rav Shimon Finkelman embodies the yeshiva’s mandate with his love and geshmak for Torah learning and the care and concern he shows for everyone he encounters. He is a true role model for the talmidim and the entire Yeshiva Darchei Torah family. As children, both of Rav Finkelman’s parents escaped Europe just before World War II. His father, R’ Shmuel Avigdor (Mr. Samuel) Finkelman, a”h, arrived from Poland six months before the war and attended Mesivta Torah Vodaath. His mother, Mrs.

Selma (Hilsenrath) Finkelman, a”h, left Europe with her parents and siblings the day that World War II erupted. Rav Finkelman attended Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodaath before moving on to the beis medrash in Adelphia Yeshiva, where he was a talmid of Harav Nissan Goodman and Harav Meir Hershkowitz, shlita. He spent his kollel years at Lakewood’s Beth Medrash Govoha. He is a talmid of Harav Moshe Wolfson shlita, Mashgiach Ruchani of Mesivta Torah Vodaath, and also received hadrachah from Harav Avraham Pam, zt”l. Rav Finkelman’s devoted life partner, Mrs. Tova Finkelman, hails from Brookline, Massachusetts, where her parents, Mr. Philip Shapiro, a”h, and, ybl”c, Mrs. Marilyn (Freeman) Shapiro, were active members of the Jewish community. Mrs. Finkelman attended school in Brookline

and then went to the Rika Breuer Teachers Seminary in Washington Heights, where she became a talmida for life of the legendary mechanech Harav Yosef Elias, zt”l. Mrs. Finkelman is a mechaneches who has taught at a number of seminaries in Brooklyn and is a proofreader and editor for Hamodia and Jewish book publishers. Rav Finkelman began his career in chinuch in 1982 and has been with Yeshiva Darchei Torah since September 1989. He is also a longtime author for ArtScroll, for whom he has written several biographies; works on shmiras halashon; and Living the Parashah, much of which is based on the weekly shmuessen of Rav Yaakov Bender. Above all, he is a mechanech par excellence who has left a lasting impression upon hundreds of talmidim during his 30 years at Yeshiva Darchei Torah. Students,

their parents, and fellow rebbeim are drawn in by his unique blend of enthusiasm, expertise, devotion and understanding. From his perspective, Rav Finkelman views Darchei Torah as representing the very best in Torah chinuch. “Darchei provides its talmidim with a wholesome chinuch so that they learn to live lives of ahavas Hashem, ahavas haTorah, ahavas Yisrael, and kiddush Hashem,” states Rav Finkelman. The Finkelmans feel a deep sense of gratitude to Rav Bender and to the yeshiva for the zechus of teaching at Darchei and for all that he has done for them. Furthermore, they are gratified that one of their grandsons is now a talmid of the yeshivah. Rav Finkelman, along with his aishes chayil, are treasured members of the Darchei family and are most befitting recipients of the

Harbotzas Torah Award. The other awardees will be: Mr. and Mrs. Shia and Elana Ostreicher, Guests of Honor; Rabbi Joel Beritz, Architect of Jewish Education Award; Mr. and Mrs. Carmi and Katie Gruenbaum, Kesser Shem Tov Award; and Mr. and Mrs. Yitzchok and Shayna Steg, Parents of the Year. For reservations and journal ads, please call 718.868.2300 ext. 301; email dinner@; or visit Darchei. org/dinner.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

Shulamith HS’s Day of Gratitude Hands-On Tefillin


abbi Judowitz’s seventh grade class at Yeshiva of South Shore took a special trip to the noted batim macher, Rabbi Yakov Michael of Flatbush. There, Rabbi Michael showed the students how the batim of the tefillin are made. He starts with raw leather and works the leather until it is formed into boxes. None of his machines are electric so everything is completely handmade. Each student received a special press to make the shin that goes on the outside of the tefillin. They learned how to push out the leather until a neat shin is formed on the outside. Rabbi Michael also showed them how the computer is able to scan and check the parchments in order to detect whether there are any mistakes which would render the tefillin in-

valid. The trip ended with lunch at Pizza Palace in Flatbush. Everyone had great time and gained a great appreciation of the mitzvah of tefillin which they are now experiencing.

IVDU Rosh Chodesh Kislev Activities


n Wednesday, December 27, Shulamith High School held a “Day of Gratitude.” Since it was the week of Thanksgiving, the theme of being thankful is always a given but this year there was a new spin to it. The day was geared to experience gratitude toward the people close to us. Cellphones were collected to ensure total engagement, and after a school-wide achdus lunch, with a buffet dessert baked by faculty, the students were given colored stickers that corresponded to classrooms. There, teachers led sessions that focused on gratitude and strategies to stay mindful. Afterward, movie theater popcorn was given out as they were ushered into the auditorium where the film “LIKE” was shown. LIKE is an IndieFlix Original documentary and series that explores the impact of social media on our lives. The goal of the film is to show that social media is a tool and social platforms are a place to connect, share and care but is that what’s really happening? Cell-

phones bring us closer to people far away, but can separate us from those close to us. After the movie there was a debriefing, and students were divided into different groups to process the subject matter of the movie. On Wednesday night, Shulamith parents from all divisions were invited to watch the movie LIKE in the auditorium (with more popcorn, of course). A panel comprising of Mrs. Rachel Tuchman LMHC; Dr. Evelyn Gross, psychologist and associate principal of Shulamith Middle Division; and Mrs. Ricky Gaerman, Dean of Students for Shulamith High School, answered questions regarding LIKE and social media in general. Topics such as anxiety and depression were covered as well as practical strategies for discussing technology and social media with children. Shulamith High School is grateful to Mrs. Gaerman for arranging this important day and evening as well as to Mrs. Tuchman and Dr. Gross for their invaluable advice.


t IVDU Long Island, Rosh Chodesh Kislev was celebrated in true IVDU spirit that brought all the classrooms together to decorate our hallway and create a beautiful school display. Headed by Morah Frumit and her eager students, activities and crafts were uniquely tailored for the developmental and academic levels of each classroom. One classroom constructed an eight-branched menorah out of paper chains, working so diligently as a group. Another classroom wrote Chanukah acrostics within oil jugs that proudly boast their written and creative expression. Morah Frumit’s students completed the display with

their tissue paper artwork that challenged fine motor abilities and helped decorate glittering candles to top off the colorful menorah. Rosh Chodesh festivities culminated in a school assembly that gave each child a chance to shine. Students shared their most memorable aspects of Chanukah and even spontaneously led their own singing group, singing their favorite Chanukah melodies. The assembly further engendered true IVDU spirit as students proudly admired their collaborative efforts now displayed in the halls and walked away with some edible Chanukah gelt, too.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019








DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

Rav Kolodetsky, Shlita, to Lead Tefillah Event


he Far Rockaway-Five Towns community welcomes HaRav Yitzchok Kolodetsky, shlita, son-in-law of HaRav HaGaon Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, who just arrived from Bnei Brak this Wednesday. He will be staying at the home of Seth and Zahava Farbman in Woodmere during the week, through December 12, and hosted by Zvi and Goldie Bloom in Far Rockaway for a Shabbos of chizuk and connection to chashivus haTorah. For this second time in Far Rockaway, Rav Kolodetsky will be leading a unique tefilla kinus for shidduchim,

based on the famous seder hatefillos compiled by Rav Yaakov Edelstein, zt”l. The tefillah event, which will be hosted by Torah Academy for Girls on Sunday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m. is anticipated to be an evening of chizuk and a catalyst for change in response to the growing shidduch crisis affecting so many in our community. About two years ago, after being asked many times for eitzos and solutions from parents, singles and rabbanim while fundraising in the U.S., Rav Kolodetsky approached Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, for guid-

ance. His answer was simple: “The only eitzah is tefillah!” Since then, Rav Kolodetsky began leading these tefillah and chizuk gatherings in communities across America, including Flatbush, Queens, Monsey, Lakewood, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Toronto.   The results? Baruch Hashem – each community that has had this zechus has seen yeshuos. When the mazel tovs are reported to the rav, he takes no credit, attributing the success to Rav Yaakov Edelstein and, of course, the tefillos of the rabbanim. May it be a big zechus for

HANC High School Leaders of Tomorrow

The fourth grade girls at HALB donated over $100 in much needed art supplies to the children at LIJ. Thank you to Kira Neuberg and her family for delivering the supplies to the excited children


group of 50 HANC High School met this week to participate in one of a series of leadership seminars scheduled throughout the school year. Senators and chairpersons of the various clubs and committees met with Director of Student Life, Rabbi Daniel Mezei, and with Dean of Students, Mr. Avi Smus, to inaugurate this initiative. In this first session, on Tuesday, November 19, student leaders participated in a set of challenges that demonstrated the importance of cooperation and listening skills. Students were enthusiastic about their roles as leaders and look forward to carrying out their mission to the rest of the student body. Students are looking forward to participating in upcoming trips, programs, and presentations throughout the year, from which they will enhance their leadership skills. These skills will help them guide others in extracurricular clubs and in future endeavors. In September, HANC High School hosted a club fair where students had the opportunity to sign up for various clubs. Students signed on for Debate, Torah Bowl, HANC Herald, Dance, Photography, Mock Trial, Chess, Photography, Drama, Chorus, Band, Israel Action, and Robotics – just to name a few. 3-D Printing and a Business Club are the newest clubs added to the Wednesday Club schedule rotation.

everyone in our community, and may our tefillos be answered l’tova!  

This month, Club Hour at HANC High School has returned. Every Wednesday from Sukkos to Pesach, students meet with their faculty advisor and fellow committee members to discuss, practice, and prepare for their upcoming meets and competitions. The clubs are divided between Wednesday, Week A, and Wednesday, Week B, so that students have the ability to get involved in multiple clubs. Clubs also feature guest presenters. Since the start of the year, representatives from the IDF Wounded Soldiers visited with Israel Advocacy, a representative from YACHAD led a Sensitivity Training seminar, and Stand WithUS is visiting next week with HANC’s HPAC Club. In addition to clubs, we offer an optional Beit Midrash session and labs in math, science, writing, and art. Students have enthusiastically embraced club hour and have utilized the time to learn new skills, and socialize with fellow students. Club Hour has proven to be a productive and enriching program.

Paying it Forward at HAFTR Middle School


he much talked about and highly anticipated Pay it Forward Program was reinstituted at HAFTR Middle School this week. This program was developed by Dr. Yali Werzberger, Director of Guidance and PPS, and Ms. Ariana Wolfson, Director of Student Life, with the goal of encouraging HAFTR’s entire school community (students and faculty alike!) to actively seek out opportunities to engage in acts of kindness towards family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers.  Dr. Werzberger and Ms. Wolfson held an interactive and informative assembly where they spoke about the large ripple effects one small act of kindness can have. As the first members of the HAFTR Middle School community to “Pay it Forward,” they spoke about how they took Minnie, Ms. Wolfson’s therapy dog, to an OHEL day-hab center where she performed tricks to the delight of residents and clients, and nominated two

students per grade to continue the chain of kindness by doing a kind act of their own. Each student who is nominated chooses an act of kindness to engage in, and pictures are then posted on the Instagram account HAFTRpaysitforward. Each nominated student will then nominate another student.  By the end of the year, all students will have the opportunity to select their own act of kindness, talk about what they did, and share their pictures with the rest of the school.  Dr. Werzberger explained, “Research has highlighted how doing kind acts for others promotes greater well-being, social connectivity and greater overall happiness. We have found through this program that many students and faculty members engage in so much kindness and chessed on a weekly basis and have seen firsthand how this program can change people’s thinking habits, in that they actively look for what they can do to help others.”

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019



DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

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The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

‫ישיבה דרכי תורה‬ YESHIVA DARCHEI TORAH





‫ט״ו טבת תש״פ‬ AT THE YESHIVA




Recognizing a Lifetime of Jewish Educational Leadership in America








DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

BYAM’s Kabbalas Chumashim


he second grade at Bais Yaakov Ateres Miriam celebrated their kabbalas Chumashim last week. It was an inspiring and uplifting event for them as they heard about the chashivus of a Chumash from our guest speaker, Rabbi Eliezer Ament, first grade rebbi at Yeshiva Darchei Torah. The girls each received their Chumash from Rabbi Neuman and celebrated with special treats to impress upon them the importance of the day. We daven and hope that the eagerness they have for learning Chumash will stay with them for a long time.

Relevant and Fun Math


he fourth graders at Bais Yaakov of Queens are learning more than just essential math skills. They are learning how much fun learning can be! The girls eagerly embarked on the challenge of multiplying two two-digit numbers. They learned to understand the process of multiplication by breaking up each number and adding the partial products to find the final answer. They also learned how to multiply with regrouping. To practice this important skill, the girls engaged in multiple excit-

ing activities. They applied multiplication to real life scenarios as they “planned a party” and calculated the cost of their choices of food and prizes. They spun the spinner and rolled the die to create problems to solve. Additionally, they decorated the schoolyard with jumbo multiplication problems using colorful sidewalk chalk. It was so much fun to “show off” their newfound knowledge and skill with the rest of the school. Lessons always comes alive at Bais Yaakov of Queens. Each day is an adventure of learning and fun!

CAHAL Celebrates Thanksgiving


he Pre1A and first grade CAHAL class at Shulamith had a wonderful time learning about Thanksgiving and the concept of expressing gratitude both to others and to Hashem. The girls were invited to a Thanksgiving feast to be shared with the P-1 and P-2 classes.  The students in the CAHAL class created headbands with the word “todah” and with feathers listing all the different things they are thankful

for. They baked pumpkin muffins, designed costumes and decorations, and learned a song for the feast.  The P-1 class girls baked cookies, and the students in class P-2 cooked soup.  It was wonderful to celebrate together and share this special experience.  CAHAL is so grateful to the staff and administrators at Shulamith for taking the opportunity to include its students in every special event in the school.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019


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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

YOSS L.I.R.R. Rides with the Rules


he Bachurei Chemed-Yedidei Hashem program at Yeshiva of South Shore is well underway. This program aims to accustom the boys to behave with good middos and derech eretz. Every two weeks the yeshiva focuses on a new middah. As these behaviors are put into practice the boys are awarded “B.C. Bucks” which are deposited into each boy’s B.C. bank account and can be used to purchase amazing prizes. Another aspect of this program is our new and exciting L.I.R.R. bus safety program. L.I.R.R., which stands for Look! I am Riding by the Rules, promotes bus safety awareness and encourages proper derech eretz. We have linked the bus ride to and from school together with the Bachurei Chemed Bucks program. The children will be eligible to receive Bachurei Chemed Bus  Bucks, accrued via appropriate bus behavior and following the rules. This program is designed to promote positive and prevent negative behavior, education, and most importantly a unified message to all the talmidim regarding our expectations for their bus behavior. Each boy received a specially designed bus-shaped keychain to put on their knapsacks. These keychains, as well as an L.I.R.R. poster strategically

placed in each classroom, remind the boys of the three important components of bus safety. We have simplified our expectations to three cardinal rules: 1) keeping the bus clean; 2) listening to the bus driver’s instructions; and 3) remaining in their seats. By adhering to these expectations the boys accrue “B.C. Bucks,” while also earning class rewards. Further, carpool drivers may submit names of boys who display appropriate conduct in their respective carpools – to be rewarded Bucks as well. Each bus will be publicly recognized as they accrue Bucks, their bus numbers appearing upon a large banner in the lunchroom. This beautiful poster features bronze, copper, silver and gold levels and enables the boys to track their class’s progress as their “busses” move up each tier until they reach gold. Every four weeks the cycle resets, and the students work their way back up to gold again. This makes the boys’ behavior on the bus a shared class responsibility; as such, each student realizes that their behavior affects their friends not only themselves. As round one has recently finished, we’d like to congratulate the 14 classes who successfully reached the gold level. We are very proud of their exemplary behavior.

You can do it. Rabbi Weinberger, page 80

BBY Begins Study of Shemoneh Esrei


he third graders at Bnos Bais Yaakov recently began their journey into the tefillah of Shemoneh Esrei. As they prepare to take on the daily recital of Shemoneh Esrei, the girls spend many weeks learning each section, gaining a thorough understanding of this fundamental tefillah. Under the direction of Curriculum Coordinator Rebbetzin Baila Altusky, this year, we have incorporated a curriculum developed by Torah Umesorah. This includes a beautiful scrapbook for each girl, which outlines general concepts about Shemoneh Esrei, as well as specific points about each bracha. As they learn each bracha in depth, the girls decorate the corresponding pages using foil paper, 3-D appliques and other materials. They also place matching

stickers in their siddurim. The girls have also learned a song explaining each bracha which you can often hear them singing with gusto. When the girls finish learning the entire tefillah, the program culminates with a magnificent Shemoneh Esrei performance by the girls for their mothers and grandmothers. A tremendous thank you to Rabbi and Mrs. Avromy Fein, grandparents of Dina Neuman; Mrs. Hindy Mazel and Dr. Elaine Zinberg, grandmothers of Leba Zinberg; Dr. Jaimy and Mrs. Rachel Bensimon and Mr. Harry and Mrs. Cynthia Kotowitz; grandparents of Elisheva Kotowitz; and Mr. and Mrs. Moshe Hammer, parents of Ahuva Hammer; for generously sponsoring this uplifting and educational program.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019


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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

Around the Community

The girls in the Ganger Early Childhood Pre-1A classes at TAG enjoyed a special treat for Rosh Chodesh when they were visited by a planetarium that came to school and allowed the students to be whisked off into “space”

Names, Not Numbers at HANC


n Wednesday, November 27, the eighth grade at HANC began a project called Names Not Numbers. In the program, students interview Holocaust survivors and edit the interviews which are, in turn, made into a documentary. The program began with powerful words from Rabbi Hecht, Middle School principal, who spoke about the importance of “forgetting.”  He explained that some things you need to forget in order to move on.  On the other hand, something like the Holocaust can never be forgotten.  The next speaker was Mrs. Tova Rosenberg, the creator of Names, Not Numbers. Mrs. Rosenberg gave an inspirational speech about how important this

project is and how lucky we are to get the chance to participate in this program. Next, we listened to Ms. Lena Salzbank, a reporter with News 12 and an alumna of HANC, who gave us tips on how to talk and interview Holocaust survivors.  We continued the program by watching a documentary of a Holocaust survivor, to get a feel of how our interviews should be conducted.  One of our students, Jack Mann, had the opportunity to role play what an actual interview would be like.  It is so important that we have the opportunity to be involved in this important project to ensure that the Holocaust survivors’ legacies live on and that the Holocaust is never forgotten.

Rambam Senior Israel Night


n November 20, the Rambam twelfth grade descended on HAFTR High School for the Annual Israel Night to help continue the students’ journey toward the Holy Land.  To begin the night, Rosh Mesivta, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, and Rabbi Avi Herschman, Director of Israel Guidance, spoke about the search process and things to be aware of when looking at Israel schools. Rabbi Yotav Eliach, principal of Rambam and noted Zionist scholar and author of the book,  Judaism, Zionism, and the Land of Israel, has been offering his unique insights into the year in Israel since the students arrived at

Rambam. Rabbi Avi Haar, assistant principal of Rambam, was also on hand to help guide the talmidim and their parents. Following the presentations, everyone fanned out across the building to view some of the over 20 schools that were present. The seniors appreciated the sense of clarity Israel Night gave them and look forward to getting their applications done and taking their bechinot over the next weeks and months.  Over 90 percent of Rambam graduates spend a year in Israel following graduation.  Currently, Rabbi Friedman is in Israel visiting the boys and keeping the kesher.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019


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DECEMBER29, 5, 2015 2019 || The The Jewish Jewish Home Home OCTOBER



Traffic Laws to Abide By The following traffic laws are actually still on the books in their respective states: Alabama – It’s illegal to drive while wearing a blindfold. I guess that’s why people in Alabama aren’t such good blindfold drivers. Glendale, California – It’s illegal to jump from motor vehicles moving at the speed of 65 mph. Under 65 MPH, you are free to jump…knock yourself out! Literally! Connecticut – It’s illegal to hunt from a car. That’s right, if you want to go hunting, use your own two legs! Florida – It is illegal to park in the middle of an intersection, on a railroad track, or on a sidewalk. Basically, there’s no parking allowed in all of grandma’s favorite parking spots. Illinois – It’s illegal to drive a car without a steering wheel. They probably don’t allow walking without feet either. Michigan – It’s against the law to sit in the middle of the street and read a newspaper. They must have made this law because they had a lot of meshugenners who read the newspaper in the middle of the street. New Hampshire – It’s against the law to inhale bus fumes with the intent of inducing euphoria. But if you are just doing it for fun, feel free to imbibe! West Virginia – It’s illegal to eat roadkill. I guess McDonalds it is. New Mexico – It’s illegal for cab drivers to reach out and pull potential customers into their taxis. Not sure if this rule applies to Uber as well. Oklahoma – It’s illegal to read a comic book while driving. You are free to read TJH, but not the Centerfold because that may fall under the category of comic books… WATCH OUT! Oregon – Drivers must yield to pedestrians when driving on the sidewalk. New York has obviously not adopted this law. Pennsylvania – When driving on a country road at night, you must stop every mile and set off flares or other warning signals and then allow 10 minutes for livestock to clear the road. I guess that’s why there are so many firework outlets in PA.

Rhode Island – It’s illegal to ride a horse on a highway for the purpose of racing or testing the speed of the horse. They take horsepower literally. South Dakota – You only need to be 14 years old to get a driver’s license. Which means that they have to wait another 10 years after they start hunting until they are allowed to drive. Wisconsin – It’s against the law for a person to ride a bicycle with their hands off the handlebars. Smile, criminal.

You gotta be


Yankel is a passenger in Moishe’s car and Moishe blows right through a red light. “Whoa, what are you doing?” screams Yankel. Moishe replies that his brother taught him how to drive and always goes through red lights. They come to another red light, and again, Moishe shoots right through it, as Yankel holds on for dear life. At the next intersection, to Yankel’s relief, the light is green. When he reaches the intersection, Moishe slams on his breaks, bringing his car to a screeching halt. “Why did you stop at the green light?” queries Yankel. Moishe replies, “I need to be careful – my brother could be coming the other way.”

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019 The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

Traffic Trivia 1. In 2010, there was a traffic jam on a highway near Beijing that stretched for 97 kilometers. For how long did the traffic jam last for most vehicles involved in the jam? a. 8-10 hours b. 12- 18 hours c. 2 days d. 9-12 days 2. According to transportation data firm INRIX Research, which U.S. city has the most traffic congestion? a. Boston, MA b. Los Angeles, CA c. Manhattan, NY

commuter spend stuck in traffic every year? a. 14 hours b. 42 hours c. 92 hours d. 320 hours 4. William Phelps Eno (1858 -1945) was an American businessman responsible for many of the earliest innovations in road safety and traffic control. He created the first stop sign, yield sign, the pedestrian crosswalk, etc. He is known as the “father of traffic safety.” Which one of the following facts is also true about him? a. He worked for Henry Ford and created the first headlights

d. Chicago, IL 3. According to a report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, how much time does the average New York City

b. He ran for president against Calvin Coolidge and his slogan was “he fixed traffic, now let him

fix the country.” c. He never learned how to drive. d. He died in a car accident. 5. In 1911, Edward Hines came up with the idea of putting a line down the middle of the road to separate two-way traffic. How did he come up with the idea? a. His son and some neighborhood kids were biking up and down the street so he painted a line in chalk down the center of the street to separate the kids going in opposite directions. He then realized that they should do this for motor vehicles. b. He was driving down a street behind a horse-drawn milk wagon leaking a line

of milk down the street. He instantly realized that a line down the center of the street would be good for vehicle safety. c. He was a third grade teacher and asked the kids in his class to think about safety tips and a 7-year-old gave him the idea. d. He was in charge of a Congressional Commission tasked with enhancing roadway safety. After spending $48 million, this was one of the commission’s recommendations.


me this?  Wisdom Key 4-5 correct: You know too much about traffic. Are you glued to 880 on the “eights”?

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2-3 correct: You are a middle of the road person. The problem is no cars can get around you and you drive 15MPH. 0-1 correct: You must have spent too much time banging your head against the steering wheel while stuck in traffic.

Answer to Riddle Me This: A screwdriver.

 Answers

What type of driver never commits a traffic infraction?

77 31

5. B 4. C 3. C 2. A 1. D


DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015


Torah Thought

Parshas Vayeitzei By Rabbi Berel Wein


ashi quotes the well-known rabbinic observation that the departure of a righteous person from a society is an indelible loss to the community. Now I do not want to sound like a heretic, God forbid, but for many years I was troubled by this statement. From my personal experience and observation of life, I did not always find this to be realistic

and accurate. I have lived in many communities, and when a great man from that community passed away or left to live in a different area, life in that original community seemed to go on as usual. Everyone certainly missed the presence of that great person but after a few days no one’s life seemed to be truly altered or affected by that

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person’s absence. The bitter truth of life is that out of sight is out of mind. Therefore, I have always struggled to understand the deep meaning of what Rashi quotes. As I have aged – hopefully gracefully – I am beginning to gain a glimmer of understanding into those words and an insight into that sublime message. A certain community had a distinct problem and for various reasons contacted me to hear my opinion as to how it should handle the situation. That community had a great and wise person, whom I knew per-

this great man and even though no one human being is indispensable, so, too, no human being is ever replaceable either. When Yaakov left Be’er Sheva, I imagine that not everyone took notice of his absence. Everyone in Be’er Sheva got up the next morning and went about their usual daily tasks. However, it is obvious that in the twenty-two years of Yaakov’s absence from that community, problems and issues arose that had he been present he would have been consulted on and would have helped solve. It was at these moments that the full real-

We always see things much more clearly in retrospect than we do in the present.

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sonally, living there for half a century. While that person was alive, the community had no need to call upon any outside person for advice or counsel. But now that the person was no longer present and this problem had arisen and threatened to cause irreparable harm to the fabric of the community, they and I agreed that though this wise person would have been able to solve the problem equitably and peacefully, they needed to turn to outside sources for help. At that moment, they felt the absence of

ization of Yaakov’s absence became apparent. As was observed by Rashi, about the absence of a good and wise person, it is at these times that it becomes real and evident to all. Such is the nature of life: that much greatness and goodness is not appreciated until somehow it – in the form of a human being – is no longer present within that society. We always see things much more clearly in retrospect than we do in the present. This is an important lesson that is worthy of our consideration. Shabbat shalom.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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From the Fire

Parshas Vayeitzei We Can By Rav Moshe Weinberger Adapted for publication by Binyomin Wolf


he pasuk (Bereishis 29:2) says that when Yaakov arrived in Charan, “And he saw and behold there was a well in the field and there were three flocks of sheep waiting by it because the flocks drank from that well and there was a great rock on the mouth of the well.” In his conversation with the shepherds, Yaakov asked them

why they were not drawing water to allow their sheep to drink from the well. They responded (Ibid. at 8): “And they said, ‘We can’t [move the stone] until all of the flocks gather and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well.’” Yaakov’s response to this explanation was (Ibid. at 10) “Yaakov approached and rolled the stone from off of the mouth

of the well and gave water to the sheep of Lavan, the brother of his mother.” Imagine how the shepherds must have laughed when they saw this yeshiva bachur, this (Bereishis 25:27) “pure man [studying] in tents” walking up to move this boulder which a whole group of strong, healthy shepherds could not move. The Medrash (Bereishis Raba 70:8), however, says that for Yaakov, moving the stone was so easy that it was as if the boulder was the size of “the tiny hole of a small strainer.” To the shepherds, the rock was a giant boulder, but to Yaakov it was like a little pebble. Can it be that this was some sort of macho contest to see who is stronger and that Yaakov won the contest? This Medrash cries out to be interpreted on a deeper level. Chazal offer many opinions regarding the nature of the well covered by the boulder. Some suggest that it refers to Yerushalayim. Others say it refers to Har Sinai. But we find a deeper interpretation in the seforim hakedoshim which explains that the well represents each person. Everyone possesses a wellspring of abilities, strengths, talents, and gifts which demand expression in the person’s life. We all know talented, intelligent people who fail to succeed in life because there is some boulder preventing them from expressing their inner gifts, their true personality. With all of their physical strength, the shepherds were convinced that they could not move the rock. Their attitude is defined with two words “lo nuchal, we can’t do it.” It’s impossible. Someone who believes that he is incapable of something will indeed find that he

cannot accomplish it. Yaakov, however, believed in the human ability to remove the boulders that imprison their inner strengths. That is why he was successful. Rav Kook taught in the fourth of the Shmona Kavotzim that “a person must always gauge himself and know that he must actualize his own personal truth and straightness, the truth and straightness that he feels in his innermost spirit. He will then be guaranteed to walk on the path of faith.” Hashem planted infinite gifts and talents within each one of us. Our job is to remove the blockages that restrain the expression of that inner greatness. Everyone has a dream that he wants to accomplish something big in life. But his “I can’t do it” sits like an unmovable boulder preventing him from realizing that dream. Yaakov teaches us to recognize that the obstacles preventing our self-actualization are actually like little pebbles, the size of the hole in a strainer. The attitude of “I can’t” turns even a tiny rock into a giant boulder. This attitude of “we can’t do it” does not only apply to individuals. The same thing can apply to an entire community. A feeling of hopelessness, that change is too difficult, can set in and prevent people from believing that they can make a change. Although no one faced greater obstacles than Yaakov Avinu, his whole essence was “I can.” This “simple man [studying] in tents” was forced to become a sheppard and work for fourteen years to marry Rochel. When he was forced to face his brother (Bereishis 32:25), “He was left alone and wres-

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tled with a man until the break of dawn.” That was the ministering angel of Eisav, the representative of the “other side.” Everything was a struggle for Yaakov. And when he thought that he could have some reprieve from his troubles, he lost Yosef and endured twenty-two years of grief without any Divine inspiration or prophecy. In his epic struggle with the heavenly force powering his brother Eisav, he could have easily given up and conceded, “I just can’t.” But instead, it was the ministering angel of Eisav that said, “I “cannot beat him.” The whole essence of the “other side” is that it says, “I can’t.” It tries to convince us that we can’t, but if we believe in ourselves and say, “I can,” then it gives up. Indeed, the angel of the “other side” renames Yaakov “Yisroel,” saying (Id. at 29), “Because you have struggled with angels and with men and you were victorious.” You said, “I can.” This is man’s choice. Will he adopt the attitude of the shepherds who lived

with fear, seeing any obstacle as a giant boulder preventing them from unleashing their potential? Or will he be like Yaakov Avinu, who saw his obstacles as little pebbles that could not stop him from attaining his goals. Rebbe Nachman told of a king who

any servants to help him. Struggling to find a way to move it, he tried to employ every type of contraption to even make the rock budge but he was not successful. When the week was over, the king checked in on his son, who had made no progress. Rebuking the boy for not

Everyone possesses a wellspring of abilities, strengths, talents, and gifts which demand expression in the person’s life.

wished to test his son. He had a large boulder placed in the castle courtyard and instructed his son to remove the boulder from the courtyard within one week. He told him that he could not use

thinking clearly, the king proceeded to take a hammer and chisel and reduced the boulder to a pile of small pebbles, which he then easily removed from the courtyard.

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We can achieve greatness if we believe that we can and refuse to listen to those voices inside and outside that claim “it can’t be done.” But we must understand that it can’t be done all at once. Just like the king’s son realized in Rebbe Nachman’s analogy, the “boulder” preventing us from achieving great things can be removed if we work steadily over time to reduce it to pebbles. May we merit, both individually and as a kehilla, to remove the “great stone on the mouth of the well” that prevents us from expressing our true potential by recognizing that the blockage exists primarily in our imagination. May we soon see the darkness lifted off the foundation stone of creation and the appearance of the third and final Beis Hamikdash with the arrival of Moshiach.

Rav Moshe Weinberger, shlita, is the founding Morah d’Asrah of Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY, and serves as leader of the new mechina Emek HaMelech.

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in 4

Parshas Vayeitzei By Eytan Kobre

Weekly Aggada “And this stone, which I have set up as a monument, shall be G-d’s house; and of everything You give me, I will give a tenth to You” (Bereishis 28:22) How did Yaakov tithe? R’ Yehoshua of Sichnin explained in the name of R’ Levi. A non-Jew once asked R’ Meir, “Don’t you say that Yaakov was a man of truth?” “We do,” replied R’ Meir. The non-Jew shot back, “Didn’t Yaakov pledge to give a tenth of everything in his possession to G-d?”

“He did,” replied R’ Meir. The non-Jew continued, “Well, while Yaakov dedicated the tribe of Levi to G-d’s service, that is but one tribe, whereas there were twelve in total. That’s less than a tenth!” “Actually,” R’ Meir clarified, “since Efraim and Menashe are counted as tribes too, there are fourteen tribes in total.” The non-Jew exclaimed, “Then you’ve made my question even stronger: if Yaakov didn’t dedicate a tenth of twelve tribes, he certainly did not dedicate a tenth of fourteen!” “Well,” countered R’ Meir, “you will agree that there were four Matriarchs,

right?” The non-Jew agreed, and R’ Meir continued. “If you consider that each of the four Matriarchs bore a firstborn, and firstborns are consecrated to G-d, then, in dedicating Levi to G-d’s service, Yaakov did dedicate one tenth of the remaining tribes.” The non-Jew was duly impressed. “You and your people are indeed praiseworthy” (Bereishis Rabba 70:7).

Weekly Mussar And Leah’s eyes were soft; and Rochel was of beautiful form and fair to look upon (Bereishis 29:17) While Rashi cites the well-known teaching that Leah’s eyes were “weak” because she was distraught and crying over the prospect of marrying the wicked Eisav (Bava Basra 123a; Bereishis Rabba 70:16), Onkelus translates this verse to mean that Leah’s eyes were “beautiful.” Oddly, though, Rashi does not cite Onkelus’s unique explanation (which Rashi often does when deviating from Onkelus), even though the two seem squarely at odds with one another. The Chasam Sofer explains that, perhaps, the two explanations are not at all inconsistent. According to both explanations, Leah’s eyes deteriorated because she was distraught and crying over her impending marriage to the wicked Eisav. But perhaps there is no greater beauty than eyes that have deteriorated because they cried such pure and holy tears. Such physical deterioration – in sacrifice to a nobler end – is the very essence of true beauty. Based on this concept, the Chasam Sofer proposes a novel ruling. Generally, one may not use an esrog that has changed and lost its color (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 648:12). But, the Chasam Sofer suggests, if the esrog lost

its color due to the high volume of people handling it – that is, a deterioration of its otherwise outwardly beauty in pursuit of a nobler goal (i.e., excitement over the esrog) – it may be used nonetheless...and it might even be superior to an esrog that kept its color because it was relatively unhandled (Chasam Sofer, Sukkah 36a).

Weekly Anecdote And Yaakov kissed Rachel, and he raised his voice and he wept (Bereishis 29:11) Yaakov cried because – unlike Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, who was laden with gifts when he went to find a wife for Yitzchok – Yaakov came to Rochel emptyhanded. Eisav commanded his son, Elifaz, to find Yaakov and kill him. But Elifaz was torn: on the one hand, he grew up near his grandfather Yitzchok and knew that murder was wrong; on the other hand, he very much wished to obey his father. So Yaakov explained to Elifaz that he could refrain from actual murder while also obeying his father: “Take all my possessions, and a poor person is considered dead” (Rashi, Bereishis 29:11). An elderly man once came to R’ Shmuel Salant (1816-1909; Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim) with a dilemma. “I am elderly and barely manage to subsist on the money I have. My son recently sent me a sizeable sum of money to support me, but I know that he is not observant and does not keep Shabbos. So I don’t know whether I can or should accept this support from my son: on the one hand, I am in dire need of assistance; on the other hand, I do not want to benefit from monies earned through prohibited behavior. I am inclined to return it to my son.” R’ Shmuel thought for a moment.

“Let me tell you a vort, and then you can decide how to proceed.” This is what he told the elderly man. While Yaakov suggested that Elifaz take all his possessions rather than kill him, Yaakov, instead, could simply have told Elifaz the obvious: You cannot obey your father because you cannot commit murder and defy G-d’s will. But hearing of Elifaz’s dilemma and of his desire to obey his father, Yaakov decided that it was worth giving away all his worldly possessions so that Elifaz could fulfill the mitzvah of honoring his father (which he so desperately wanted to fulfill). It was critically important to Yaakov – so important that he was prepared to give away all his earthly belongings – to ensure that Elifaz could continue to make good on at least the good deed of honoring his father. “And you, too,” said R’ Shmuel to the elderly man, “have a chance to give your wayward son the opportunity to do something good in honoring his father. True, he may not otherwise be observant, but don’t prevent him from

performing this one great deed. Use the money – without any concern that it was ill-gotten.”

Weekly Halacha “And this stone, which I have set up as a monument, shall be G-d’s house; and of everything You shall give me, I will give a tenth to You” (Bereishis 28:22) According to some, Yaakov here instituted the concept of ma’aser kesafim, tithing one’s monetary income (Daas Zkeinim m’Baalei HaTosfos, Bereishis 28:22). There is some debate about the nature of the obligation to tithe one’s money: some hold the obligation is biblical (see e.g. Tosfos, Ta’anis 9b), some hold the obligation is rabbinic (see e.g. Taz, Yoreh Dei’ah 331:32), and yet others insist that it is just a (praiseworthy) custom (see e.g. Bach, Yoreh Dei’ah 331; Aruch HaShulchan,

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Yoreh Dei’ah 249:5). A baal teshuva, approximately 70 years old, once put the following question to R’ Moshe Shternbuch (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos, Vol. II, Yoreh Dei’ah 483): because he had only recently become observant, he had not previously given a tenth of his income to charity, and he calculated that the unpaid tithes amounted to nearly $200,000. And while he was prepared to donate all his money now, he only had around $30,000 – a small fraction of what he believed was owed. He was concerned about how he could face the Heavenly Court (when the time came) in such arrears. “Praiseworthy is the people that serves its king in this way,” R’ Moshe Shternbuch’s response began, “and praiseworthy is the king with children like this.” But he then ruled that the man was not obligated to tithe retroactively. Even according to the stricter opinions that tithing money is obligatory, it is no stricter than the tithing of agricultural produce – if the

owner did not tithe and the produce was consumed, there is nothing from which to tithe (unless one intended to defer tithing to a later time). For this reason – and because the promise of “tithe so you will become wealthy” (Taanis 9a; Shabbos 119a) will not apply to retroactive donations, and so as not to discourage people from tithing – we are lenient and do not require tithing on past unmet obligations. As for this individual, ruled R’ Moshe Shternbuch, he should give a tenth of the $30,000 he has and continue to tithe any additional incoming going forward. The Weekly Halacha is not meant for practical purposes and is for discussion purposes only. Please consult your own rav for guidance.

Eytan Kobre is a writer, speaker, and attorney living in Kew Gardens Hills. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail

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Think, Feel, Grow

Follow the Leader What is True Leadership? By Shmuel Reichman


he question of leadership is both fascinating and fundamental to human society. The Torah discusses the three categories of Jewish leadership: The melech (king), the Sanhedrin (courts), and the kohanim (priests). What is the Jewish approach to leadership, and how does it compare to other perspectives on leadership?

Leadership to Serve Yourself The most primitive form of leadership is selfish leadership, rule driven by power and fear. In such a system, the leader represents only himself and his own selfish desires. He demands power, craving it for himself, and leads his people primarily through fear. In such a system, he demands the allegiance of his people and promises food, shelter, and perhaps power and honor in return for loyalty and respect. This was the system of old, where kings, tyrants, and oligarchies ruled large provinces. Wealth, birthright, or rebellion served as the right for leadership, and the purpose of leadership was focused solely on the leader – the goal was to give the leader increased power, respect, and control. This system was inherently corrupt. There was endless bloodshed, as the king killed anyone who stood in his way. There were pointless wars, whereby the king would send his young men to die for no other reason than to expand his territories and increase his own

glory. In essence, the king answered to no one other than himself.

Representing the People In response to such corruption, there became an increased desire to shift the focus of power. As history unfolded, leadership moved towards democracy. In such a system, the power belongs to the people, not the leader. The leader is appointed to best serve the people. If he fails to do so, he will be removed and replaced with someone better suited. This is a far better system than the previous one, as it stabilizes power and creates a society focused on the needs of the people, rather than on an individual king or elite few. Nevertheless, there is still a fundamental problem with pure democracy: a leader becomes nothing more than a puppet of the people. The flaw in this is apparent. Imagine if parents lost their parental license as soon as their child got upset with their decisions. As soon as the parent put their child to bed, they’d be out of a job. When a leader is fully subject to the will of the people, it is impossible to lead. Democratic leaders may appear to be leading, but in essence, they are following. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 97a) states that Moshiach will come at a time when the generation’s face will be like the face of a dog. Rav Elchanan Wasserman, zt”l, explains the depth behind this statement: when you see someone walking

a dog on a leash, from the onlooker’s perspective, it appears as though the dog is leading. He is the one walking ahead of his owner; he appears to be calling the shots. However, this is an illusion. The dog is completely subject to the will of its owner. One small tug and he changes direction. The dog is the follower, placed in an illusory position of leadership. Many democratic systems suffer from this flaw. Leaders are appointed by the people, and therefore are fully subject to the will of the people. They walk ahead, pretending to lead, while, in fact, they are merely puppets. Whatever the people want, they’ll do. They create their policies and campaigns around the people and polls, not based on their internal values. They would change their policy in an instant if it meant more votes. A true leader stands for the truth, for their inner values, regardless of opposition. He or she walks ahead and doesn’t look back. Even if no one follows, they push onward. They never sacrifice their ideals for public approval. A true leader creates a direction for a greater future, a pathway to individual and collective greatness and inspires the people to strive for that ideal. This is the nature of Jewish leadership. Let’s briefly explore this topic.

Connecting to Something Higher A Torah leader does not represent himself or the will of the people – he

represents Hashem. A Torah leader is a delegate of Hashem in this world and will lead the people towards the truth, towards their true destination. Of course, he will care about, and empathize with, every individual, deeply so, but the foundational goal of leadership involves driving people towards a transcendent goal. Traditional kings represented themselves and were therefore no greater than themselves. Democratic leaders are chosen by the will of the people and are therefore usually no better than the people themselves. A true leader is one who is striving towards perfection and leading others on their own individual and collective journeys as well. There are three categories of Jewish leadership mentioned in the Torah, each of which serve their own unique role. While they all serve both a practical and religious role, each category maintains its own unique purpose in enabling the Jewish people to fulfill their purpose and connect to Hashem. The melech serves as an embodiment and manifestation of Hashem in this world, negating his ego and striving to reveal Hashem in this world; the Sanhedrin serves to maintain the Jewish ideals in society, ensuring that the Jewish people live up to their purpose; the Kohanim serve to both help the Jewish people connect to Hashem and help properly manifest Hashem into this world. An ideal society is one where ev-

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eryone is devoted towards achieving their own unique greatness, while simultaneously devoting that individual greatness towards the larger collective greatness of all of Klal Yisrael. A leader’s role is to enable each individual to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and achievement, while also helping them devote their lives to a greater whole, to that which transcends themselves, to Hashem, the Jewish people, and the world as a whole. This perhaps explains a very strange halacha. If a man is found dead outside a city, the elders of the city must break the neck of a calf and proclaim that they did not kill this person (eglah arufah). Why, though, would this even cross our minds? Of course the elders – the leaders of the city – did not murder an innocent Jew?! What, then, is the deeper meaning of this strange halacha? The Gemara elaborates on the procedure of the eglah arufah and explains that the elders of the city must promise that they did not turn the man away without food and an escort. But do the leaders really have to escort every single guest out of their city? On a practical level, this means that, as the elders of the city, they did not refuse this man adequate sustenance and protection. Rav Michael Rosenzweig, however, suggests a deeper understanding, one that carries with it a profound lesson. The elders of the city are the leaders of the city. It is their job to create the atmosphere and standards of the city, to inspire greatness in the people. If done correctly, nobody in the city would ever murder an innocent man. The elders are therefore required to swear that it wasn’t due to a lack in their leadership that this murder occurred and that they had set the proper standards to make this impossible. With this foundation, let us study the key characteristics of a great leader.

Qualities of Leadership Everyone is a leader to some extent. Some will lead their families; others will lead the world. The numbers are irrelevant, and the principles remain the same. The crucial prerequisite of leadership is to first develop yourself. Before you can lead anyone else, you

must lead yourself towards a greater state of existence. This requires a relentless and undying desire to better yourself, to improve every aspect of your life, to generate greater levels of self-awareness, and to maximize your full potential. Fundamental to this process is developing a deep awareness and connection with Hashem. It is therefore no surprise that almost all Jewish leaders in the Torah were first shepherds. Hevel, the Avos, the Shevatim, and Moshe were all shepherds, people who had the time and ability to contemplate the nature of existence and connect with Hashem in the deepest of ways. They had the space, time, and peace of mind to gain deeper levels of self-awareness and weren’t caught up in the unimportant and tedious elements of life. They walked around in nature, admiring

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his clarity and understanding of life before returning to lead the Jewish people. David Hamelech grew up as an outcast before being appointed as king by Shmuel. This is not always necessary, but often, a step back leads to a giant step forward. After one has properly developed his or her own inner self and connection with Hashem, he must then learn to properly expand outwards, devoting his life to that which transcends himself, his people. This requires one to become a giver, a lover of others, one who focuses on the wellbeing of his nation. Avraham was an ish chessed, a man of kindness. Moshe’s first sign of leadership was his empathy, feeling the pain of those outside of himself: he intervened when a Mitzri was beating a Jew, when Dasan and Aviram were fighting, and when Yis-

A true leader stands for the truth, for their inner values, regardless of opposition.

the awe-inspiring world Hashem created. In addition to the obvious elements of empathy and leading a flock, a shepherd’s life is one that enables a spiritually flourishing existence. A leader must also be willing to walk alone on the right path, instead of following the masses. Avraham was the Ish Ivri because he walked on the opposite side of the world. He walked alone, choosing to live a life of truth rather than a life of social acceptance. As the saying goes, “The way you can tell which fish are alive in the river current is by determining which ones are swimming upstream, against the current.” Sometimes one can see clearest when they have the time to distance themselves from their current surroundings, rethink, redirect, and then return with newfound purpose and meaning. Avraham completely removed himself from his culture. Moshe spent many decades alone in the desert and on the run from Pharaoh, building

ro’s daughters were being harassed. A shepherd, as well, generates kindness, generosity, and empathy towards other sentient beings. It’s fascinating to note the unique progression of Moshe’s empathy. First, he stopped a non-Jew from hurting a Jew. Then he stopped a Jew from hurting a Jew. Finally, he prevented a non-Jew from hurting a non-Jew. This reflects an ideal whereby we care about all of humanity, not only people who we are related to, feel close to, or relate to ideologically. A leader is also willing to sacrifice and endure pain for his people. A real leader puts his people before himself. The seventy zekeinim (elders) in the midbar were the taskmasters in Mitzrayim. They were beaten mercilessly by the Mitzrim because they refused to hurt their brethren when the Jews failed to meet their quotas. For enduring such pain and sacrifice, they were awarded with positions of leadership. True leaders do not sacri-


fice their people for their own wellbeing. Israeli generals are known to lead their soldiers into battle, not remain behind in the safety of their army’s protection. Leaders also care as much about the individual as the masses. It’s great to inspire the masses, but if you wouldn’t give just as much of yourself to help an individual, there’s something essential missing from your leadership abilities. When a single sheep ran away from the flock, Moshe ran after it to retrieve it. It’s no surprise that this event led towards Hashem revealing Himself to Moshe at the burning bush. Last, but not least, a true leader never desires power for himself. His goal is solely to fulfil his unique purpose and to help others do the same. He leads by directing his people towards something far greater than himself: he leads them towards Hashem, towards their purpose, towards their destiny. Leaders are not only the face of a nation, the people who stand in front of large crowds and deliver extraordinary and inspiring speeches. Leaders are those who are on a mission, those who empower others, those who are always looking for ways to contribute to Klal Yisrael and the Jewish people as a whole. Leaders are great parents, great teachers, great friends. We are all potential leaders; we are all potential revolutionaries. We can all create change in the world. But to create any external change, we must first learn to change ourselves. Let us all be inspired to become the greatest version of ourselves, with the hopes of becoming people capable of inspiring others to become the greatest version of themselves as well.

Shmuel Reichman is an inspirational speaker, writer, and coach who has lectured internationally at shuls, conferences, and Jewish communities on topics of Jewish thought and Jewish medical ethics. He is the founder and CEO of Self-Mastery Academy (, the transformative online course that is revolutionizing how we engage in self-development. You can find more inspirational lectures, videos, and articles from Shmuel on his website,

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A Cellphone Reunion By Raphael Poch


nited Hatzalah volunteer EMT A lan Malka from Petach Tikvah needed some repairs done on his cellphone. When he walked into the cellphone service center for Hot Mobile near his home, he discovered to his surprise that the service agent sitting behind the desk was none other than the man whose life he saved after a serious motor vehicle accident a few months prior. “I went into the store and I saw that there were some people in front of me in line, so I sat down,” recounted Malka. As soon as the customer in front of me was called, I heard a customer service agent call out: ‘You in the orange jacket. You United Hatzalah, come here angel. What can I help you with?’ “I was a bit surprised by this greeting,” Malka said. “I went over and sat down in front of the service agent and showed him my phone and explained the problem. He ignored me. He began to look through video files on his own phone and was ignoring me. I said, ‘Excuse me,’ I cleared my throat, and nothing seemed to help. He was intently focused on his own phone.

“After a few minutes passed, he picked up his head, looked at me with a big smile on his face, and said: ‘I have to tell you something. Six months ago, I was involved in a very serious accident on Pines Street in Petach Tikvah. I sustained severe injuries to my limbs, a few broken

crashed motorcycle on the street and right next to it an orange ambucycle bearing the familiar crest of the organization which I volunteer with. I looked at the story on his phone and very closely at the image. Then it dawned on me. I asked him, ‘How do you feel now?’ He replied by telling

He thanked me profusely. “You are truly an angel,” he said.

bones, head contusions, and other injuries. As it would happen to be, a volunteer on a United Hatzalah ambucycle was the first responder at the scene. He began treating my injuries while he calmed me down as well. I don’t know what to tell you, but this EMT saved my life.’ “He then showed me his cellphone where I see a photo of a

me about the injuries to his hands, the scars he still has, and the months of rehabilitation he had to undergo to be able to come back to work. He also told me about the pains that will not go away. “I looked at him and in a meaningful tone, I said: ‘You were lying on the sidewalk right next to the entrance to a building. Your father

arrived and was in hysteria. Later on, your mother came and she was crying.’ “‘Yes,’ he told me, his eyes widening with shock and excitement. “‘It is terrific to see you in such good shape after all this time. I was the EMT who treated you,’ I exclaimed. “The man got up from behind his desk, came around to my side of the counter, and gave me the biggest hug I can ever remember. He thanked me profusely. ‘You are truly an angel,’ he said. This story warmed my heart and filled me with a sense of self-worth and gratitude to the organization with which I volunteer that enabled me to save this man. It just goes to show how connected we all are and how miracles really do occur. “When we finished speaking, I wished him continued good health and speedy and complete recovery and we promised to stay in touch. I left him by saying that it was an honor for me to be able to help him in his time of need and that, whenever he can, he should remember to always help others.”

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There is No Typical Day

TJH Speaks with Attorney Ben Brafman By Tammy Mark


enjamin Brafman is the tenacious powerhouse attorney whose name and image are regularly found in the media, well-known for taking on some of the most complex criminal cases and representing some of the most formidable clients. His private persona is one of a family man and philanthropist, with an unwavering commitment to his faith, a deep-seated concern for his community and a profound compassion for others. His four decades of traversing these diverse worlds have given Brafman an exclusive vantage point that has left him with concerns, caveats, and sound advice for future generations. The son of Holocaust survivors, and one of four children, Brafman grew up humbly in Brooklyn and Belle Harbor, Queens. “My parents were very hard-working, good, honest people,” Brafman shares. “My father came to this country, went to the army, and served for three years. My mother was very talented in terms of making dresses and alterations. We lived in Crown Heights next door to Lubavitch headquarters.”

Brafman fondly recalls his early interactions with the revered rabbinical leader, “I saw the Rebbe every day. I don’t know if he remembered me, but I remember him! I was the little kid stopping the punch ball games so the Rebbe could pass without getting hit on the head with a ball.” Brafman explains that he was a “tough” kid growing up, a below-average student and not a particularly good fit for his yeshiva. He began working at the age of 12, running the yeshiva mailroom and, as a good writer from an early age, even writing their fundraising brochures – perhaps an early hint of his future involvement with countless charities across the globe. “I always worked and I always made money because I was a real hustler,” he recalls. “I worked in the mountains as a waiter, I hawked t-shirts outside a concert, I mowed lawns, I cleared snow – everything.” He ventured into stand-up comedy while waiting tables in the Catskills – again honing a skill he could later rely on for charity events. Brafman recalls the arduous hours of his college years. “I worked from 9 in the morning

to 6 o’clock, went to college from 6:30 to 11:30. Then I took the bus and got home at one in the morning…it was lunacy.” Brafman’s academic capabilities didn’t surface until he reached law school, where he transitioned from a mediocre student to an exceptional scholar. “I finally found something I was interested in,” he says, “and I was able to focus on studying.” He graduated with distinction from Ohio Northern University College of Law and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1975. “For the first time in my life I was able to study – I got a scholarship and I had some help from my in-laws. I studied really hard and I liked what I learned.” Brafman landed a plum job at a prominent white-collar law firm and subsequently spent four years as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan D.A.’s office, while earning a Master’s in Criminal Justice from New York University Law School. By 1980 Brafman established Brafman & Associates in Manhattan. Today, Brafman heads a stellar team of lawyers who tackle the most difficult

and public criminal cases. “One of the challenges in my practice is personal service, and many of the clients I attract require my attention. They can work with the team but they want me in the room – and I get that. That’s the good news and the bad news.”


rafman loves what he does and is continuously invigorated by the daily challenges he faces. “There is no typical day,” he notes. “Sometimes I’m on trial and I’m in the same courthouse weeks in a row, but I also have a practice to run and other clients to see. People see me walking into a courthouse on TV, and they see me standing next to a wellknown personality and they think it looks like fun – they don’t realize how much work it involves, how much you need to read and stay current; the law changes every 20 minutes, and there’s always homework, so I can be reading for hours at night. So a typical day is an adventure. That’s what makes my practice interesting.” Brafman explains that speaking well is just a very small percentage of what his work entails. “You can’t

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get by and be successful,” he asserts, “and you certainly can’t get to the top just on personality. You need to have substance behind personality – and substance is very difficult.” He details some of the minutia of his work. “People have been involved in business transactions for years that are questionable, and I have to sort this out. I have to unwrap years of doing things their own way. I have to try and figure out: is this defensible? Is this a business that went astray, but there’s no criminality? So it’s complicated…and it’s also a challenge because my adversary is always the government.” His success and reputation have brought Brafman to lead cases involving complex allegations and large personalities, with a client list that includes politicians, celebrities, mobsters, and moguls. He’s learned how to hold his own even with the most imposing figures. “I’ve never been intimidated by any of the personalities, certainly in the last 20-25 years,” he says. “You could be starstruck for 10 minutes but then you’ve got to get over it. I realize at the end of the day that they’re just people. Sometimes I need to essentially say, ‘Look, your judgement got you into this mess, let’s try and use my judgement to get you out of this mess.’ It’s easy to say that, but it’s very hard to have a huge celebrity suddenly being told what they can and cannot do.” He muses, “You really can’t be intimidated once you’ve been in a maximum-security prison sitting in a locked room with a murderer who is a sociopath, and you’re trying to figure out how to deal with his legal issues – so if that personality doesn’t intimidate you, you’re not going to be intimidated by a musician or successful businessperson.” Brafman shares an insider’s perspective on celebrity success as a whole. “In my career I have found that the really smart major celebrities have not just talent, but there’s something that separates them from the rest of the people in that industry that makes them a superstar. I think in every profession, if you rise to a level where people take note of your work and know who you are, you’ve done something that separates you from the thousands of other people who do the same job

With attorney Alan Dershowitz

and don’t get the recognition.” Success, maintains Brafman, is predicated largely on the basic principle of hard work. “I work really hard. I think you need to have a fair degree of mazal, and I think you need to put in the time. I spent a lot of time perfecting the craft hoping people take notice – but you have to consistently do good work.”

rough period, that they have the potential to be the most successful African-American entrepreneurs in the history of the world if they just stayed out of trouble – and both of them did exactly that. I walked them away from a nightmare and they went on to be more successful than anyone ever anticipated, except me. I saw their extraordinary talent in music, but when

“People see me walking into a courthouse on TV, and they see me standing next to a well-known personality and they think it looks like fun – they don’t realize how much work it involves.” Entertainer and entrepreneur Sean “Puffy” Combs was one of Brafman’s early celebrity cases, and Brafman’s status catapulted following his 1999 acquittal. The relationship was a learning experience for all. “When I came into his life, he was 21 years old, and he and I had some serious conversations. I tried to explain to both him and [fellow entertainer] Jay-Z, who was also going through a

you speak to them, you also realize that this is a person who’s brilliant in his own world and they’ve become very successful.” Brafman often recounts the tale of when he first joined Combs’ case and how the mogul demanded 24/7 access to Brafman, which Brafman explained was impossible. Brafman remained as true to his observance as always when Combs called him hundreds of times

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the following Friday night. Ironically, Combs was thrilled when Brafman did not answer the phone on Shabbos as Combs had just made a bet that Brafman wouldn’t answer his call on the holy day. “At this point in my career, thank G-d, I’ve sort of reached a level that took me a while to get here where people understand about Shabbos and yom tov,” Brafman says. “When I first started out and judges would try to schedule things in September and October, I was always trying to explain that I can’t work next week because it’s Shemini Atzeret – and I can’t explain Shemini Atzeret to myself so how am I going to explain it to them?” he jokes. “Now, what’s interesting, is when I come into court and the judge sees me, they sometimes volunteer and say, ‘What days are not good for you, Mr. Brafman?’ I like that it signifies some level of recognition, but I think you have to be consistent.”


riminal defense attorneys at all levels are likely to face criticism, especially understandable with some of the weighty cases Brafman has taken on, but the scourge of public opinion has waned over time. “It depends on the notoriety of the individual and also the nature of the allegation,” he explains. “When I was [producer] Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer for a year, there were some isolated instances of mild criticism, but there were also some who were infatuated with the fact that someone they knew was in the eye of the storm and going to be in the Super Bowl of cases. So I think most people are sort of intrigued.” Brafman shares the sad realities of his life’s work and how people come to view his role differently when it becomes personal. He notes, “One thing I dealt with my whole life professionally is that criminal defense lawyers do not have a constituency among the general population – until they need them. Most people could be critical of me and the work and say, ‘How can you defend someone like that?’ but then when it’s their son or their wife…they’re calling me at two in the morning and begging me to help them and rationalizing the behavior and suddenly all is well. If I’m able to find a way to save them,

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no one questions me in those cases. Some of my harshest critics over the years end up sometimes as my clients, and when we have these philosophical discussions they realize they were wrong.” Brafman is privy to the ripple of repercussions for those who’ve made such potentially devastating mistakes and, as deftly as he can construct a solid legal defense for his clients, Brafman can easily establish the sympathetic side of the personal suffering that often comes along with the legal issues. He illustrates, “If you get nailed in a massive fraud, it’s you and me after a while. In many cases, everyone cuts you loose; you’re a pariah. I’ve often said that I probably talk more people out of committing suicide than any therapist, any psychiatrist – that is a real, true statement because sometimes it’s an option that suggests a solution to what might otherwise be years in prison. I have to deal with that in a compassionate and also a strong fashion. I have had some really tough conversations with people. I’ve seen families break up in my conference room. I have clients who had a perfect life suddenly have everything ruined in an hour and never have the same life again.” Sitting face-to-face with the person who has the ability to influence their fate, one can imagine how he likely puts his clients at ease. Brafman appreciates the fact that many former clients have kept in touch through the years and have gone on to straighten out their lives and be able to once again enjoy their families and celebrate milestones, many thanking him for saving their lives in more ways than one.


rafman is today less involved with the violent criminal cases of his earlier years; his work of late has been defined by white-collar criminal defense. “Most of the work I do now is dealing with a person’s state of mind: did the person intend to violate the law? If someone unintentionally violated the law, do I have a defense? I also do a lot of damage control. People come to me facing 20 years in jail, and I get them out of the mess with six months, and they’re home in less

At a Shurat Hadin conference

time than that. We also do a lot of trying to save a young person who’s done something wrong or stupid so they should not have to forfeit their life as a result. “There’s a big difference between saying what you did is good and I’m proud of you, as opposed to me saying what you did was not good, but I’m still going to try and help you,” he clarifies. “What I need to do is operate within ethical boundaries at all times,” he says. “I think what helps me a lot as I have developed is that I believe in the criminal justice system in the United States. I have real credibility as an honest lawyer and as someone who fights really hard, but does it within the rules – and there is flexibility within the rules. The world is not black-and-white. The world, I am of the opinion, is often gray. “I have a case that we won maybe 30 years ago where my client was a medical student with a minor drug offense. We got the case dismissed because the search was illegal. People may say, ‘Well, he was guilty.’ Yes, but today he’s a pediatric oncologist who operates on kids who are described as terminally ill. He does cutting-edge surgery on children with malignant brain tumors and he saves a lot of them, so I am really proud of the fact that I saved him!” Brafman adds, “I find that people screw up – a lot of people screw up – some people worse than others. But not everyone who screws up deserves to have their life forfeited.”


hile his workdays are spent advocating for and mentoring troubled clients and navigating their often-scandalous accusations, Brafman’s private time is spent with his family and immersed in advocacy and support of Israel, Torah institutions, and his community. Undoubtedly determined and diligent, Brafman took measures early on to prevent being completely consumed by the demands of such a career path. “I didn’t want to be one of those lawyers who stays in his office until 2 o’clock in the morning, especially when my kids were younger,” he asserts. “I wanted to see them and be part of their life, so I have a work area in my home and I generally am in the house by seven or eight at night, and when I work late it’s in the house. So when my kids were growing up, and they could come down in the middle of the night to get a glass of juice and see me at the table with notebooks and tape recordings strewn all over the table, it was good for a couple of reasons: I was in the house and I was in their life, and I wanted them to see that my success didn’t come easy.” A resident of Lawrence, New York, Brafman appreciates the quiet suburban life he created with his wife, Lynda, a retired librarian, and their now grown children, Jennifer and David. Their Torah-observant lives pay homage to his family’s history and their humble beginnings in the States after the war. Brafman is somewhat of a local

celebrity, as everyone seems to know him personally, whether they do or not. He displays his softer side when off-duty and his deep sense of empathy is evident as he speaks of the causes and communal issues that weigh on his mind. While Brafman has probably emceed hundreds of charity events from Chabad to One Israel Fund to FIDF, he is personally involved with several other communal and international causes, with some that are especially close to his heart. A few of his current endeavors include the Aleph Institute, a Chabad affiliate that helps Jewish people who are incarcerated and their families, and Shurat Hadin, which brings together lawyers from all over the world to fight against terrorism and BDS. “I am very involved in Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), and I do the dinner every year to raise money for cancer research in Israel. My wife is a cancer survivor and we lived through a year of chemotherapy when my kids were young,” he shares. “Kulanu began in my home. It’s now an extraordinary success because of a lot of us who stepped up. My wife and I are very proud that it started in my home, and it’s now turned into one of the best resources this community has for kids with learning issues and other disabilities – they are in a Torah environment where they’re treated well, and they get the best of care and services. “I do as much as I can,” he adds. “I have always believed that if you’ve been blessed with a certain degree of success, you have an obligation to share that success.” Brafman had an exceptional relationship with his late brother, Rabbi Aaron Brafman, zt’’l, principal and menahel of the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway and one of the community’s leading rabbis and educators, who passed away in 2017. “My brother was someone who devoted his entire life to chinuch, who was probably the purest tzaddik I ever really met in my life,” Brafman maintains. “I was always very impressed by his sincerity, he could have been anything – he was brilliant, he did extremely well in college, he got a master’s degree – and yet he decided to devote his life to teaching. The kids who graduated from the yeshiva loved

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him, and they respected him.” The brothers were able to work together in many private ways. “He and I were very close, very different, but very close. He was proud of me too, I think. I was very happy to be a resource for him, for his school and the people who came to him with problems, not necessarily legal problems. So many people in our community, from afar, look like they have a very successful existence – yet as you get involved in their private life, they’re desperate. Every once in a while, these people would come to my brother and pour their hearts out and ask him for help, and he would call me and say ‘What can we do?’ So, I miss him.” Brafman dedicated a sefer Torah in his brother’s memory in the cheder in Israel that he founded with his son, David, now called Toras Aaron. “My son is a lot like my brother – he’s dedicated. It’s very hard having your son and 10 grandchildren in Israel, but I go as often as I can.”


rafman’s unique position has provided him with many insights and cautionary tales for the younger generations and their parents alike. Several years back, Brafman delivered a Shavuot speech in Woodmere where he implored the community to take their public behavior more seriously. “It’s always on my mind,” he discloses. “I think we have a lot of people in the world who just hate Jewish people; anti-Semitism is a fact of life – people who will always hate Jews and sometimes it’s a completely irrational hatred. I also think that we have to do our part and not create more anti-Semitism and it’s very easy to do that because if you are identified as a yeshiva kid, wearing your yarmulke and having your tziztit out, if you do something that’s offensive, it’s not ‘look at that it’s a wild kid’ it’s ‘look at that Jewish wild kid.’” Brafman regularly speaks to students and explains the importance of preventing chillul Hashem in their everyday interactions. “When you run into a pizza store and talk to the guy behind the counter and you’re rude and you don’t say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and you push your way onto line…that may be the only interaction with an orthodox

Ben, with his brother, Rabbi Aaron Brafman, z”l

Jewish person that kid behind the counter will ever have in his or her entire life,” he says. “It will be something they remember and share when they go home and talk about their job – like everybody does.” Brafman experienced this phenomenon on a global level in 2011, recalling, “When I was representing Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was on his way to becoming the president of France, the media exposure was extraordinary. I was in every newspaper in the world with him because it was an international case, and in almost every article in France, for example, that was written about the case I was described as Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s “Jewish” advocate – it struck me that if I were a Protestant or a Catholic it would not say ‘DSK’s “Catholic” advocate.’ “Unfortunately, France has become somewhat of an anti-Semitic country and, interestingly, when I got the case dismissed, I was a hero with the Jews of France celebrating as if I’d won the Super Bowl. Until this day, in Manhattan, at the U.S. Open or at a baseball game, everywhere I go, French Jews recognize me and still thank me.” Brafman’s high-profile cases have

brought him into the public eye on several occasions. “I think there’s something to be said for anonymity,” he says, “and I miss being anonymous in some respects, but it’s also made me more conscious in many ways of the fact that if you are identified as a Jewish person, you can’t be rude or obnoxious and you can’t walk around like you own the place.” Though Brafman seems weary from all he’s seen, he nonetheless conveys the passion and resolve needed to continuously move things forward. “I can think of few failings in the Jewish community and Israel – they do almost everything well except public relations,” he maintains. “Nobody ever publicizes the good stuff we do because the tabloids love it when Jews screw up. Jews do a lot of good stuff but we don’t see stories in The New York Times or the Post about the Bikur Cholim people who show up to so many hospitals with packages of food and the Shabbos delivery.” He asserts, “We have an obligation to publicize the good stuff – and the same thing with Israel. After a hurricane or a flood or tsunami, Israel’s IDF is the first medical unit to show up and start saving people’s lives and

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yet those countries turn around and criticize us at the UN. I think Israel has the best democracy in the world and yet they get criticized for being an apartheid state – which to me, is such intellectual dishonesty, which is why I got involved in Shurat Hadin.” Brafman urges parents to take heed. “Before you send your kids to universities all over the country you need to educate them. Let them read some of the literature that One Israel Fund and Stand With Us puts out so that when they’re confronted with attacks on Israel they don’t just say ‘I love Israel’ but they can debate these issues – because when you debate honestly you win against the dishonest attacks.” He continues, “What’s most disturbing to me now as I get older, when you go to college campuses and you speak to people, even Jewish people, many of them don’t even know about the Shoah. Some don’t believe it ever happened. Schindler’s List was good because it brought front and center the horrors of the concentration camps, but it also was a Hollywood production, so people see it now and think it’s like Game of Thrones.” Another pressing issue that is at the forefront of his mind is the hazard of technology. “Today we have much more serious consequences, because everything today is recorded on videotape and every crime is solved, not by detective work, but because every school and street has surveillance cameras. “I speak publicly about the dangers of texting. When you text something, it’s forever. I have forensic people that I work with who can restore your text or your emails – even if you smash the computer and throw it into the ocean. Yet you have kids today who don’t talk, they text. When you say something nasty or negative or inappropriate, you say it to one person and maybe they quote you…but you can always deny it or apologize or whatever. But if you text, it’s permanent, it’s forever, and you have no idea where that text or email goes…and suddenly a private text has become evidence to be used against you for the rest of your life,” he cautions. “Reading something in black-and-white, you can read it again and again, so if it’s hurtful it’s going to be hurtful again and again.

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“In the last 10 years the heart of almost every criminal case, in terms of the government evidence, has been emails or texts that have been sent by on behalf of my client or associates, and it’s often very difficult to deal with and sometimes impossible. You can text something when you’re 16, and they bring it up your whole life – and suddenly you’re on the defensive and it suggests that you’re not necessarily a good person. “One message to send out, especially to young people: it’s so easy to be nice, and it takes so much more effort to be nasty or mean or offensive. Once you go down the road of nasty, mean, and offensive, it’s very hard to change your personality when you’re 25 or 30; it’s much easier when you’re a younger person. Brafman adds, “I think the responsibility is not just on the schools – I think it’s on the parents, it’s in the homes. It’s what you talk about around the Shabbos table. Are you just sitting there sharing lashon hara or gossip?

Does that mean that your kids are going to go have those conversations at the Shabbos table when they’re adults? Or do you want to talk to them about all of the wonderful things that Israel is doing so that they know about it?”

ment far out of his foreseeable future. He tries hard to find more opportunities these days to unwind from the intensity of his work through golf lessons, reading and working out – at times with a much-appreciated

“I have always believed that if you’ve been blessed with a certain degree of success, you have an obligation to share that success.”


rafman’s challenging work, communal commitments, and family obligations – Lynda’s parents have recently moved in with them – keep the idea of retire-

punching bag. His most precious time, however, is with his family, enjoying time with his daughter and six grandchildren who live nearby and with his son in Israel.

“As I got older, on Sunday I started looking forward to next Shabbos.” He quips, “I’ve often said that if it wasn’t for Shabbos, I think I’d be dead. It gives you a chance to really recharge, and even when I don’t do anything on Shabbos, I go to shul, I talk to my grandchildren... “At the end of the day, it gives you a focus and a balance, and keeping Shabbos honors the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice because they were Jewish.” What are the other secrets to his overarching success? Brafman credits a strong work ethic and relies on it to keep pushing forward on all fronts. “I think you really need to accept the fact that there are no shortcuts. All of the people I know, and all of the famous people I know who are extraordinarily successful, have taken some degree of talent and applied years and years of really hard work to refine the talent. “Simply put, you need to pay your dues.”






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Mind Y

ur Business

Sim Shain: “You Have to Live Your Business” By Yitzchok Saftlas


very Sunday evening since July 2015, Yitzchok Saftlas, CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, hosts 77WABC’s “Mind Your Business” show on America’s leading talk radio station. The show features Fortune 500 CEOs, CMOs, and top business leaders, where they share their business knowledge and strategic insights on how to get ahead in today’s corporate world. Since Q2 2017, the 77WABC “Mind Your Business” show has remained in the coveted Nielsen “Top 10” in New York’s highly competitive AM Talk Radio market. Guests have included John Sculley, former CEO of Apple and Pepsi; Dick Schulze, founder and Chairman Emeritus of Best Buy; Beth Comstock, former Vice Chair of GE; and Captain Sully Sullenberger, among nearly 200 senior-level executives and business celebrities. Every other week, TJH will feature leading questions and takeaways from Yitzchok’s popular radio show.


n a recent 77WABC “Mind Your Business” broadcast, Yitzchok sat down to speak with Sim Shain about the secrets behind his remarkable success and the motivation behind the founding of his unique, life-saving business. Sim is the CEO and founder of ParaFlight E.M.S and Aviation, a full-service medical and corporate charter company. He is a national registered paramedic, who started his EMS career in March 1993. Since 2007, Sim has worked as a 9-1-1 paramedic for the largest provider of Advanced Life Support in New Jersey. In 2012, he earned the Paramedic of the Year Award from the State of New Jersey. YS: So, Sim. Let’s get started. What caused you to go into the medical aviation field? What led you to found this very special and unique business? SS: I actually started my E.M.S. career in 1993. I got my certification as a paramedic in 2007, and I have been practicing as a paramedic with

Hatzalah since then. But what got me into the medical aviation business was my close friend, Shlomo Steve Zakheim, who passed away several years ago. He was both a philanthropist and an entrepreneur. He owned a private jet that he outfitted with a stretcher and oxygen, and he used to send myself and others around the world, flying patients to specialty hospitals, bringing them home for care, or anything else they might need. YS: Can you explain to the audience what your company, ParaFlight E.M.S. and Aviation, does? SS: We offer various different verticals, and each one fills a different medical need. We have what’s called a medical escort component. It’s for a patient who doesn’t require the services of an air ambulance. They don’t need to be lying flat on a stretcher, and they’re able to sit up on a plane for takeoff and landing. They don’t have a huge oxygen demand. It can be an elderly person,

or someone who isn’t in critical condition but needs medical care while being transported. So, we send them on a regular commercial flight with an oxygen concentrator, a nurse, a doctor, and a paramedic. We have an entire team that deals only with medical escorts. We take care of everything, including flight reservations. That way, we can save our clients thousands of dollars. We also have an air ambulance component. We are currently the only licensed air ambulance company based in the New York City area. We also provide organ transplant flights. Another one of our verticals, unrelated to the medical field, is supplying corporate charter flights. YS: What is an air ambulance? SS: An air ambulance is basically an ICU in the sky. We have the ability to provide services for patients who are on ventilators, patients who are in IV drips, patients who can’t stand, sit up, or anything like that. We will send a full ICU team along, which usually consists of a paramedic, a

flight paramedic, and a flight nurse, and sometimes we’ll send a respiratory therapist and a flight physician. Our chief medical officer is Dr. Mark Merlin, who is an absolute legend. He has about twenty-five physicians that work under him that go with us on many, many of our flights. YS: Are you nationwide? Or do you offer your services worldwide? SS: We’re worldwide, based out of the Northeast. We cover flights all over the country and all over the world. YS: I understand that ParaFlight is a medical business, but there’s also a corporate aspect. Can you elaborate on that? SS: Sure. One of the verticals that we provide in addition to the medical verticals is corporate aviation. We don’t do luxury flights to the Super Bowl or anything else like that, but we do whatever we can to our save our clients time. We recog-

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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

nize that there’s only 24 hours in a day, and so much that needs to get done in a single a workday. There are people in the health care industry or in real estate who need to be able to get to three states in one day. And they don’t really have the time to go through the airport and the lines. That’s where we come in. We save people tremendous amounts of time by coordinating their day for them. They tell us where they need to be, and we make sure that they have food and that their limousine service is waiting for them wherever they land. We’ll coordinate their day so that they can leave in the morning, get to multiple locations, and be back by night. YS: It’s like a magic wand! How do you accomplish that? SS: Well, there’s a lot of work involved – a lot of details. We have a lot of flight coordinators that work with us. We have a tremendous team that works really hard. We tell our clients: leave the details to us, and you focus on making money and growing your business. YS: Back to your incredible life-saving work… You’re dealing with saving lives, so you have to be ready for anything. How do you have an entire operation ready to go within a half hour? How does that happen? SS: We’re always planning ahead. We’re always checking weather patterns. We know a week in advance what the weather is going to be. But you’re right— we have to be ready to roll 24 hours a day. As soon as a call comes in, that’s when that mission starts. YS: You just shared a very important point that any person in business could take away. And that is: prepare! Surprises are inevitable. But prepare as much as you can in advance. That’s a very important takeaway. SS: That’s correct. Preparing properly is essential, especially in this business. But you’re right – in every business, you always have to have some sort of backup plan. And

in the business that we’re in, you need more than one backup plan because things can go wrong. Things can change. There are some things that are not in our control, but we still have to do whatever we can to accomplish and achieve our mission. YS: How do you balance the financial aspect of the business with the charity aspect? SS: I think more than 50 percent of our business is charity work. When I started this business with Shlomo Zakheim many years ago, our mission became mission-driven, not profit-driven. Our goal is to always make sure that we get the job done as economically as possible and

How do you manage to scale your business? SS: We scale mainly through word of mouth. Our word of mouth is social media, and there are many different social media platforms that we use. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, things like that. What we share on those platforms are what really impresses people because they get to interact with us and they get to see what we do. YS: What tips could you share on communications in an industry like yours? SS: One thing that we always tell people is that we get it. Our entire company is medically-based. Our

“And that was, and is, our goal: to make a difference and change the world.”

get the patient safely to their destination. Of course, we need money to run our business, but that’s not our goal. YS: Sim, your company is in a very unique industry, as we’ve been discussing throughout the show. What marketing challenges do you face? What can you recommend to someone who’s also in a business that’s so targeted and specialized? SS: Well, the marketing issue that we face is that everything we do is confidential, from the patients’ perspective, from the hospital systems, and from the corporate perspective. So, the only people who could let the world know what we do is our clients, because we can’t share any of our information. Everything that we do is extremely, extremely confidential. YS: I would imagine that you rely heavily on word of mouth.

medical directors, our nurses, our paramedics, even our flight coordinators are all EMTs or physicians. We understand it’s stressful, but let us do the worrying for you. You focus on your loved one. You focus on what you need to take care of. We’ll take care of everything else. Also, I think it’s always important that somebody who runs a business has to be in the trenches. You really have to understand what’s going on to be able to communicate effectively with everyone involved on the operation. I always make sure to go on flights. I’ve gone along on organ flights just so I can see what happens, so I can communicate effectively. I have people who work for me, but I micromanage. I’m on top of everything because I need to know about any issues ahead of time. YS: Since you built a company in a very niche industry, what are your tips for other businessowners who are trying to build and scale their business-

es in a very narrow market? SS: You have to really live your business. You really need to know every aspect involved. You need to know everything and be prepared, so that if someone walks off the job or something changes, you need to be able to step up and fill that position. So, I’ll coordinate flights, I’ll answer phone calls, I’ll be a paramedic, I’ll drive people to and from the airport. I’ll do whatever I need to do to get the job done. YS: How do you stay current and come up with business strategies in this constantly changing environment? SS: We continuously train, and we continuously create partnerships with many different providers and operators all over the country. We’re always in network mode. We’re always in marketing mode wherever we go. We’ll do whatever we can to try to expand our business, to try to look for little things that’ll make a big difference down the road. We spend a tremendous amount of money on software development to make everything seamless. YS: Do you have any final takeaways for our listeners? SS: Yes. The life of aviation is extremely stressful, but it’s extremely rewarding. We have the opportunity to be able to help people in their time of need, to take something that’s so overwhelming for them and make a difference. We’re here to take your loved one to a hospital for critical care. We’re here to take your loved one home. We’re here to help someone get a heart transplant or a lung transplant that will save their life. We really, really make a difference. And that was, and is, our goal: to make a difference and change the world.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019

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Dating Dialogue

What Would You Do If… Moderated by Jennifer Mann, LCSW of The Navidaters

Dear Navidaters,

This is not particularly a dating quandary, but in the ballpark. I am quite disturbed about something that happened to me on a date a little while ago.

Some kid who knows me from the neighborhood and owns a smartphone, saw me on a date and decided to take a video of our date from a few tables away and post it around to different people in his social media bubble. The girl and I were not for each other and ended it after a few dates, but I am still in shock how such a thing can happen. Furthermore, I have been paranoid on all my dates since. Is nothing private anymore? How do we navigate a world where kids are entrusted with phones and think they can do whatever they want? Also, it’s already difficult as it is when a shidduch in question says no to meeting because they found out I said yes to someone who’s not exactly like them. What if someone sees this video and assumes that is what I am ideally looking for? It didn’t work out between us for a reason. It’s just a mess, and I’d love to hear any chizuk you can provide. Thank you, Yoni*

Disclaimer: This column is not intended to diagnose or otherwise conclude resolutions to any questions.

Our intention is not to offer any definitive

conclusions to any particular question, rather offer areas of exploration for the author and reader. Due to the nature of the column receiving only a short snapshot of an issue, without the benefit of an actual discussion, the panel’s role is to offer a range of possibilities. We hope to open up meaningful dialogue and individual exploration.

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER29, 5, 2019 The The Jewish Jewish Home Home || OCTOBER OCTOBER 29, 2015 2015

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The Panel The Rebbetzin Rebbetzin Faigie Horowitz, M.S. oni, I am sorry that you were the victim of thoughtless sharing. It was hurtful to have your privacy invaded for no reason. This is reflective of our times and representative of the irresponsible use of technology. Therefore, I am glad that you brought this up so that we can respond publicly. Responsibility for teaching healthy communication habits lays with the parents. They need to have regular conversations with their children about the choices their phones present them with. Awareness of the inability to remove things from the internet and chat groups that will haunt them short and long term is only one aspect of this. Menschlechkeit, loshon hora, ethical dilemmas, and the value of privacy are part of this. Thus, many schools have adopted ongoing programs that go beyond one required educational evening. Both school programs and parents talk about scenarios and flesh out the whys in the context of choices. A shared photo is also a weapon these days. People are notified and expected to react, in both positive and negative ways. The same is true of written comments, chats, and other social media. It behooves all adults – whether they are parents, professionals, leaders of the community, or regular folks – to practice good digital citizenship and not merely focus on gaining more followers, branding themselves, and participating in an anonymous world that looks like a community. In your case, it’s doubly painful because the sharer had nothing to gain personally by sharing the photo. It was the equivalent of gossip. I would suggest that you approach the parents carefully once you have gotten over your hurt and prepared some remarks. Don’t attack but share directly your personal expe-


rience and feelings if you think the parents will be responsive and understanding. Come from a place of maturity and inform them of something they may not know about. That’s the point. It’s not your place to lecture them. One final point. The fact that you got some no’s in shidduchim because you dated Ms. X is unfortunate. But it reflects on the smallness of the young women who heard this and are holding it against you. All singles date a wide range of people, even within their particular niche of interest. That is the purpose of dating. Fear not: she who said no to you is not thinking enough to warrant your interest. Move forward and onward.

The Mother Sarah Schwartz Schreiber, P.A. id it ever occur to you... Did it ever occur to you why information disseminated at warp speed over the internet is often described as something “going viral.” Maybe because the effects of social media can be as contaminating, harmful, and injurious as the most lethal microorganism. A droplet of fictitious data shared on Facebook or Instagram can destroy businesses, reputations, and relationships. It’s no different from the ominous impact of lashon hara. About a hundred years ago (in the time of the sainted Chofetz Chaim), an analogy was made between the far-flung, unbridled effects of lashon hara and the rupture of a feather pillow over a small village. Once the damage is done – the feathers released and scattered all over town – the deleterious effects are far-reaching and irreversible. What would the chachamim of yesteryear say about the barrage of fake news, gossip and slander disseminated, like infectious sub-


stances, every minute of every day to every corner of the Earth via the worldwide web? What would they call the havoc and heartbreak linked to the eternal buzz and ping of the worldwide web? Seismic lashon hara? A Twitter executive opined that if there was a 30-second delay between the “tweet” and “send” functions of his colossal internet platform, tweets would go down by 50%. In other words, if users paused for half a minute to really think before posting a picture, tweet or video, they would likely refrain from putting it “all out there.” (Attention: Oval Office.) The not-smart kid with the smartphone was pulling a not-so-innocent prank. He walked away smugly, Snapchatting about his clever “gotcha” post. You, in the meantime, are left traumatized and paranoid over the video’s impact on your shidduch prospects. Have no fear! Way before (and during and after) Google, came hashgacha. And bitachon. And bashert. No postings on YouTube, Instagram or WeChat can disrupt Hashem’s Plan to deliver The Right One at the Right Time to you. social media may be mighty but it’s no match for Ein Od Milvado.

The Shadchan Michelle Mond en thousand people, maybe more People talking without speaking People hearing without listening No one dared Disturb the sound of silence ‘Fools,’ said I, ‘You do not know Silence like a cancer grows Hear my words that I might teach you Take my arms that I might reach you.’ But my words like silent rain-


The effects of social media can be as contaminating, harmful, and injurious as the most lethal microorganism.

drops fell And echoed in the wells of silence And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made.” Think this is a recently written poem referring to social media? Actually, and surprisingly, this is an excerpt from a song that debuted in the days when Apple was still a fruit, a fidget was merely an adjective, and a snowflake was still merely precipitation. Before the idea of social media, “The Sound Of Silence” was released in October 1964 as an acoustic ballad recorded by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel (AKA Simon & Garfunkel). How prophetic are these words today. In a world where technology and communication are right at the fingertips of all old enough to hold a cellphone, the world has ironically become a more verbose yet ironically silent, dangerous place. Teenagers and adults alike worship their phones. In the complex web known as “the cloud,” anything and everything is possible: the power to hurt, and the power to heal. However, it is usually within the silence that the strongest danger lies. All over Instagram I see people posting pictures of passersby, with funny taglines, making fun of unassuming

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people. Recently I saw a brand on Instagram, owned and operated by two supposedly solid frum women who have over 10 thousand followers, post an image on their business page of an unassuming woman working diligently at a cafe. The woman was in the background of one of their pictures. They zoomed in, thought it was funny, and posted it to their viral Instagram page, and made a caption contest out of it. What surprised me even more about this was the amount of people who posted with heart and laughing emojis, including brainless insensitive comments about how depressed the lady in the background looked. Nobody, in the hundreds of “likes” and “comments,” expressed disgust about this. Today, this is merely par for the course. Since everything is conveyed by the fingertips and no longer the tongue, and it’s all about the followers and no longer the true friends, people don’t see things as what they are: hurtful to others. Since these things happen so often, people have become immune to their own action’s effects. Cyber-bullying is silent but deadly. Research presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting revealed the number of children admitted to hospitals for attempted suicide doubled between 2008 and 2015. The rise is presumably linked to an increase in cyberbullying. Meanwhile, the National Crime Prevention Council records the increase in victims of cyberbullying as a whopping 43 percent. I am so sorry you were a victim of someone’s thoughtless actions, and your reaction is completely understandable. After all, this was the one time someone took a thoughtless video of you, while you were on a date, no less (which is one of a person’s most vulnerable times). It got back to you this time, but how many times could this have happened before that did not get back to you? It certainly would make me paranoid! To answer your question of whether it will affect your future shidduchim, it absolutely won’t. Hashem is the ultimate Shadchan. Always remember this and do not lose sight of it.

To all of our dear readers reading this, young and old, please remember that actions speak louder than words. Using social media and your phone for mindless pranks can literally break someone’s self-esteem and spirit. Unexpectedly seeing a picture or video of yourself posted or sent somewhere can cause long-lasting paranoia or even depression. It is the most violating feeling that I hope never happens to you. Parents, educators, and teachers, please take this as an opportunity for a conversation starter. Speak with your kids about the harmful effects of thoughtless sharing. Unfortunately, as I have witnessed, it is not only kids who do this. It is adults with business Instagram accounts as well. May we all have the seichel to know what is appropriate to share and hold back from hurting people, even if it will give you more likes or followers.

The Single Rena Friedman oni, I am sorry that this happened to you. I cannot imagine the feeling in the pit of your stomach when you first saw that video and text message. To put yourself out there and be vulnerable by going on a date and then have it recorded and replayed in front of the eyes of others is just disrespectful. Feeling paranoid to go on dates after having had this experience sounds rather justified to me. (For whatever it’s worth, I, too, had a poor social media experience on a date, so you are not alone.) The unfortunate reality of our dating system is that privacy does not exist. Individuals’ resumes with intricate details and personal information are blasted in WhatsApp groups and email chains as if they were the latest Dan’s Deal. The process itself requires extensive research before either party even agrees to go on a date, although I am fairly confident that my father’s job and my sister’s seminary give


absolutely no insight into who I am today. There is a lot of personal information that is dug up and shared for the “sake of shidduchim”, but is it really? In terms of the child (and I use the word child because someone who would do something like that can only be a child) who recorded your date, I hope his parents teach him about boundaries and respecting other people’s privacy. With the great power of a cellphone and social media comes great responsibility. It is fundamental for children and adults to understand that when we are privy to private moments in a person’s life, we must be sensitive to them. To everyone reading this, please think twice (read: three times) before you forward that message or share that “extremely vital” piece of information. You are dealing with a real person whose reputation is on the line. If you hear something being said that is not true or just purely harmful, say something. We have a responsibility to watch out for one another. You mention a fear of people assuming that the girl you went out with is the type of girl you are looking for. I would hope that someone looking into you or suggesting a shidduch to you would realize that clearly that girl was not shayach for you because you are still in shidduchim. Yoni, this is a really hard, complex, and unfair system to be in and you are doing great. Unfortunately, time and resilience are the only not so quick fixes to these types of issues. As hard as this is, try to cut yourself some slack. That was rough, yet you continue to put yourself out there and go on dates even after this happened. That is all anyone, including yourself, can ask of you.

The Zaidy Dr. Jeffery Galler eally? You’re actually “in shock” that kids use their smartphones mischievously?! But you’re clearly


Individuals’ resumes with intricate details and personal information are blasted in WhatsApp groups and email chains as if they were the latest Dan’s Deal.

troubled by this incident and deserve a serious response. First, you ask, with considerable consternation, “Is nothing private anymore?” The answer is a resounding, No! Whether in the shidduch world or in the business world, be cognizant of the fact that everything we ever say or do will always be subject to detection, disclosure, and publicity. Remember, Koheles admonishes, “Sof davar, hakol nishma.” Second, the posted video is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it’s clear that in spite of the fact that you decided that this girl was not for you, you gamely acted like a gentleman and gave her a fair chance. Anyone who is savvy enough to have watched your date on social media is sufficiently knowledgeable to understand that none of us are immune to unwanted, gratuitous publicity. Third, there are positive takeaways from this experience. You have now learned, somewhat painfully, that the acquaintance who surreptitiously filmed and posted your date is not a person to be trusted or befriended. You worry that any potential future shidduchim might not wish to date you because you dated someone who is “not quite like them.” This troubles you. But, think about it more clearly. Yes, potential dates know that you dated some-

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one who is “not quite like them,” but they also clearly know that this

date was not for you and didn’t work out for you.

Pulling It All Together The Navidaters Dating and Relationship Coaches and Therapists



’m g l ad you asked for chizuk because in a situation like yours, where the milk has already been spilled, instead of crying over it, we’re going to focus on growing from it. I’ve begun to notice on my journey here in this world that when people go through difficult or painful experiences, one of two things tend to happen: people can become stuck, angry, bitter, shut down, vengeful, pessimistic, etc., becoming the thing that happened to them. Or, people (with some time or maybe not) become more empathic, more able to connect with others, and/or use the experience in some way for good. The fact that you are looking for chizuk tells me that you are a student of life. What happened to you is a basic violation of your right to privacy. A lot of children are not yet mature enough to be trusted with a phone because they can’t conceive of the long-term consequences of an impulsive, split-second decision to post something they think is funny or will get “likes” (which, unfortunately, has become a huge source of validation for kids and adults alike. It’s a sad, sad reality.) I have seen firsthand the devastating consequences of the things children and teenagers post and how it can ruin lives. I am not sure which social media platform this child used, or if it can be taken down, but I do think you can contact his parents and ask them about what they can do to help. We live in a world with absolutely no privacy. Anyone can be photographed or recorded in their

daily comings and goings and on phone calls and text as well. If we tune into this realit y too much, we are likely to never go outside or have interaction with the world. The sad reality is that, at some point, it is very likely that all of us will be posted or shamed without our permission. This is our world, and you are right to ask about navigating it. Short of never going outside, I’m out of ideas. I think we have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. We can’t stop living our lives and doing the natural things we are supposed to be doing or want to be doing (like being on a nice date) because of the fear we may have about being posted on social media. You have nothing to worry about in terms of what was posted. You were on a date, doing what single people do. Believe me when I tell you that the right woman will not care one iota about this. If anything, what happened to you will stir empathy inside her. I have witnessed firsthand people recover ing from much more catastrophic posts than being on a date. You cannot control what a potential date might think from seeing you with a certain “type” of woman on a date. Shallow people who lack the ability to see past the fact that you were only on one date will be easily removed from your path toward your bashert. Do you really want to be with someone who is that incredibly two-dimen-

As an added bonus, consider this: you are extremely fortunate to avoid dating any young lady who decides not to go out with you

based solely upon this social media incident. You are blessed with a built-in, pre-screening mechanism that enables you to avoid dating shallow, unsuitable women!

sional anyway? I’d like to put a message out there, for whoever is interested in receiving it. I work with a lot of single people. Some are coming in for “dating coaching” and others are in “therapy” and happen to be dating. Most of the time (in my humble experience and seeing lives unfold) people get incredibly worked up and concerned about absolutely nothing. I have seen it, time and again...when the right one comes along, most anxieties and concerns fall by the wayside. People are looking for a reason that they are single. (And yes, sometimes somebody’s got a little something to work on.) But more often than not, a person is single because he/ she simply hasn’t met the right one yet. This video cannot stop you from meeting the right lady. When I was a kid in sleepaway camp, someone literally aired my dirty laundry to the bunk. In the sixth grade, a teacher embarrassed me in front of an entire class of boys while I was merely trying to get my friend’s lunch to him that he had left in my car from our morning carpool. All these years later, I can still remember these things as

if it were yesterday. Shame is very powerful. And people today have the tool of social media at their disposal to shame people. But shame cannot survive telling your story to supportive people. Shame simply can’t survive it. By writing into this column, you are telling your story and receiving incredible support. You are giving a voice to so many, and so many are seeing themselves in you. I hope that this fact can ease your mind a bit and put your concerns to rest. Chin up, hold your head high, and date on! All the best, Jennifer Jennifer Mann, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and dating and relationship coach working with individuals, couples and families in private practice in Hewlett, NY. She is looking forward to teaching a psychology course at Touro College in the fall. To set up a consultation or to ask questions, please call 516.224.7779. Press 2 for Jennifer. Visit for more information. If you would like to submit a dating or relationship question to the panel anonymously, please email You can follow The Navidaters on FB and Instagram for dating and relationship advice.

Hi Readers! Receiving your enthusiastic emails wanting to participate in the Reader’s Respond section has been wonderful! Just a reminder about how Reader Response works. Email thenavidaters@gmail. com with the subject line “Reader Response.” We will then ask you, in the order we receive your email, if you would like to respond to the coming week’s email. If you would like to respond to an already printed Navidaters Panel, please submit your answer to the editor at You can also join us on our FB page @thenavidaters on Sunday evenings to post your response to the week’s column. Interacting with you has been a pleasure! Thank you for all of your feedback. Jennifer

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Dr. Deb

There’s No Such Thing as an Anger Pill

By Deb Hirschhorn, Ph.D.


here’s an expensive and time-consuming process for medications to come to market in the U.S.: animal trials test the drug’s efficacy followed by four stages of clinical trials in humans, both to see if they’re toxic to any part of the body as well as to see if they actually work, and how well. The process of testing and the applications for the FDA take about a decade. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association said the cost for 10 cancer drugs for complete development was $648 million, but a Tufts study said it was closer to $2.7 billion.

Medication However – and this is crazy but true – once the drug is on the market, a doctor can get a “hunch,” a “feeling” about what “might” work, and randomly prescribe the drug for problems that it was never tested for. This is called “off-label” and it

is “kosher,” not at all illegal. That is Problem #1 with medication. In the world of mental health, off-label prescriptions are the practice. But medication problems – and I’m discussing five of them here – are only the first half of the challenge with helping people with anger issues. The second half, below, is about the fraud of diagnosis.

Problem #2 Let us say, for argument’s sake, a doctor decides that the reason for Mr. James’s anger is that he is depressed. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for anger issues. You will see later on that other classes of drugs are prescribed as well. Let’s start with common problems of antidepressants which can be applied to other classes of drugs, too. Getting back to Mr. James, let’s assume that his doctor feels it is clear that he’s depressed and since there

are definitely drugs out there for depression, an off-label prescription shouldn’t be necessary. Antidepressants that he might be given include sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva, Brisdelle), and fluvoxamine (Luvox). In comes problem number two: the only research that is ever done on any drug is on the patented drugs. Those drugs that are off patent will not have research paid for by the pharmaceutical companies, obviously. So the range of choices that a doctor will make a judgment on is limited to patent-protected drugs (from an article by Jeffrey A. Mattes, MD in Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law). Not only that, the APA Monitor reported some unsavory stats on results: “According to a study led by researchers at the Portland Veterans

Affairs Medical Center (New England Journal of Medicine, 2008) [which] examined 74 FDA-registered studies for a dozen antidepressants…most studies with negative results were not published in scientific literature or were published in a way that conveyed a positive outcome. The FDA studies showed that half of the drug trials had positive results, but 94 percent of the trials cited in published literature were positive.” In other words, the researchers simply did not submit for publication the bad results, only the good ones. Okay, let’s say the doctor finds a drug that is not going to break Mr. James’s wallet and he thinks is good (whether that’s true or not). What happens if Mr. James takes the medication and it seems to be helpful – and then wears off?

Problem #3 This is so common that the medi-

The 5, 2015 2019 The Jewish Jewish Home Home || DECEMBER OCTOBER 29,

cal folks have come up with a word for it: tachyphylaxis. So the question is, why? Why did it stop working after a while? By the way, sorry for the language, but the science literature said this phenomenon is also called “antidepressant poop-out” or, more benignly, “tolerance.” Recently, the National Institute of Mental Health Collaborative Depressive Study reported that the rate of antidepressant tachyphylaxis was 25 percent (as reported in the NIMH publication Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, in their March-April issue, 2014). That means one-quarter of all people on antidepressants build up a tolerance for the drug and then it stops working. This same article had an answer as to why this should happen. Mind-blowing. But the explanation is that seventy-five percent of the improvement from the drugs in the first place is due to the placebo effect. The placebo effect means that people expect to get results, so they feel better. The drug itself did not make them better; their bodies reacted to their expectations. This is one of the beautiful gifts that HaKodosh Boruch Hu gave us. We help ourselves to feel better just because we have positive expectations. This point was corroborated in a 2012 cover story in the American Psychological Association Monitor which bluntly said: “‘I would say at least half the folks who are being treated with antidepressants aren’t benefiting from the active pharmacological effects of the drugs themselves but from a placebo effect,’ says Steven Hollon, PhD, a psychology professor at Vanderbilt University who has conducted extensive research on the effectiveness of antidepressants.” The NIH, however, doesn’t think that the placebo effect accounts for all of the backsliding found in antidepressants. They cited Dr. Maurizio Fava, psychiatrist-in-chief and researcher at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, whose name came up several times in the literature, who thought depressed people might develop a recurrent depression that is antidepressant-induced. You hear this? The antidepressants cause the depression.

They speculate that this tolerance is not unlike the tolerance/dependence issues induced by chronic benzodiazepine exposure. (More on benzos below.) Chemically, they explain this as follows: “Tolerance is defined as changes that occur in drug concentration at the target site resulting from absorption, distribution, biotransformation, or elimination of the drug.” An article in Johns Hopkins Medicine put this experience in layman’s terms as they referred to a different drug for different problems: “The brain becomes more and more dependent on these dopamine drugs. The brain does not see ‘ropinirole’ or ‘pramipexole,’ it sees these drugs as just more dopamine in the system. Essentially, over time, the brain, seeing all this extra dopamine, decides it does not need to make as much. So the brain starts turning back its own natural production of dopamine and grows increasingly dependent on these drugs, which mimic dopamine. So the patient essentially develops increasing physical dependence on the drug.” There’s more to the problem, though. Memories are created in the hippocampus. This fascinating part of our brains has receptors all over it for the stress hormone, cortisol. Unfortunately, over time, with prolonged stress, the cortisol corrodes the hippocampus and it can shrink. The good news is that (through non-drug interventions – more on that below) the hippocampus can be “cleaned” of its cortisol and a process of growth and healing called “neurogenesis” can occur. Initially, the job of the antidepressants was to do just that, but the NIH article explains that researchers theorize that bathing the brain in continuous antidepressants eventually prevents this neurogenesis of the hippocampus. In other words, the medication itself blocks this part of the brain’s ability to heal.

Problem #4 It would be enough if that were all. But we still must deal with Problem #4: treatment-resistance. A 2007 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry estimates that

35% of all people who go through two different treatment protocols for depression are treatment-resistant. That means nothing works to begin with for over a third of people.

Antipsychotics, Benzodiazepines, and Mood Stabilizers We’ve covered four disturbing problems with prescription medications and we’ve used antidepressants as an example. There is a fifth problem which looms over all classes of drugs – and that is the severity of their side effects. We will look at three other classes of drugs that are often prescribed for anger issues: antipsychotics, benzodiazepines (which are anxiolytics), and mood stabilizers. Antipsychotics were created to reduce the hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking of people diagnosed with schizophrenia. First generation antipsychotics such as haloperidol (Haldol) are in less use now because their side effects were considered serious – more serious, at least, than the second-generation version – because they were “extrapyramidal.” This means they affected the involuntary motor neurons causing “dyskinesias and dystonic reactions, tardive dyskinesia, Parkinsonism, akinesia, akathisia, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome” (from Nurse Practitioner). Now, the definition of dyskinesia is “involuntary impairment of voluntary movement.” From the list of side effects listed above, we see the word “dystonia.” “Dystonia” means “a movement disorder in which a person’s muscles contract uncontrollably. The contraction causes the affected body part to twist involuntarily, resulting in repetitive movements or abnormal postures.” Also included in the list of these extrapyramidal side effects is: “tremor, slurred speech, akathisia (uncontrollable urge to move), anxiety, distress, paranoia, and bradyphrenia (‘slowness of thought’).” From this it becomes plain that not only involuntary, but voluntary, muscles would go awry with first generation antipsychotics. In addition, dopamine receptor antagonists, as these are called (because they block the ability of dopa-

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mine to latch on to normal receptor sites), cause sedation, and heart complications. “Haloperidol can cause abnormal heart rhythm . . . and even sudden death if injected intravenously.” (NIH) Second generation antipsychotics were developed to reduce side effects; they act differently. They include: aripiprazole (Abilify), clonazepam (Klonopin), quetiapine (SEROquel), Olanzapine (Zyprexa), and risperidone (Risperdal). These newer antipsychotics, also called “atypical” antipsychotics such as those listed above, work by blocking the receptors in the brain for serotonin and dopamine, allowing more serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Second generation antipsychotics have somewhat less severe extrapyramidal side effects. Still, “risperidone (Risperdal) is associated with dizziness, anxiety, sedation, and extrapyramidal side effects. Zyprexa’s side effect is weight gain and metabolic syndrome. The FDA guidelines suggest regular monitoring for diabetes, blood pressure and other cardiac-related measures” (NIH). Klonopin “causes agranulocytosis (lowered white cell count)…and requires monitoring of white blood cells” (NIH). Seroquel’s side effects are “somnolence, orthostatic hypotension, and dizziness.” For Abilify, it’s “agitation, headache, and akathisia-like restlessness (NIH).” This is from the website “Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking quetiapine (Seroquel). Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.” All of the second-generation antipsychotics warn against giving them to the elderly (who were enthusiastically given these in nursing homes until the government put a stop to it) because of high risk of stroke. Bear in mind that drugs with these serious side effects are given to people who for the most part the medication was not created for. Remember, they’re antipsychotics and if your problem was not schizophrenia, then you were given it off label. Another class of drug that people are often prescribed for anger problems are the benzodiazepines, or “ben-

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zos.” Benzodiazepines were meant for insomnia and anxiety and they include alprazolam (Xanax), chloradiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan). They are tranquilizers and can be called hypnotics, sedatives, or anxiolytics. Hypnotics are specifically used to put people to sleep whereas sedatives only differ by the potency; they aren’t supposed to induce sleep but merely calmness. Anxiolytics are meant to reduce anxiety so they can get either title. From Medical News Today on benzodiazepines: “Long-term use is controversial because of the potential for tolerance, dependence, and other adverse effects. It is possible to overdose on benzodiazepines, and mixing them with alcohol or other substances can be fatal.” Nevertheless, benzodiazepines are considered safer than barbiturates, an older class of drugs also used to treat anxiety and insomnia. In spite of this presumed improvement in safety, according to the Harvard Health letter, “They have the potential to be psychologically harmful by causing over-sedation, memory impairment, poor motor coordination and confusion.” Harvard lists the following “symptoms of dependence on sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic drugs: • A craving for the drug, often with unsuccessful attempts to cut down on its use • Physical dependence (development of physical withdrawal symptoms when a person stops taking the depressant)* • A continued need to take the drug despite drug-related psychological, interpersonal or physical problems” *Symptoms of physical dependence are: “anxiety, tremors, nightmares, insomnia, poor appetite, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, blood pressure abnormalities, dangerously high fever and seizures.” “As with alcohol, sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic drugs can cause symptoms during intoxication. These symptoms can include slurred speech, problems with coordination or walking, inattention, and memory difficulties. In extreme cases, the person may lapse into a stupor or coma.” Another side effect of the tranquil-

izing effect of this class of drugs is that they can cause depression. That is why they might be prescribed together with antidepressants. A fourth class of drugs that is used with anger problems is called a “mood stabilizer.” This is for the tricky problem of people’s mood cycling from highs (manic) to lows (depression) and is therefore referred to as bipolar. There are two kinds of mood stabilizers: mineral and anticonvulsant. The “gold standard” is lithium, a naturally occurring mineral. Why it is the gold standard, I don’t know. Under lithium, says, “Lithium toxicity can cause death. Lithium is a medicine with a narrow range of safety and toxicity can occur if you take only slightly more than a recommended dose.” The Physician’s Desk Reference

abolic, nephrogenic, neurologic, and teratogenic (pre-natal).” The journal, World Psychiatry, did a study called “Effects of antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilizers on risk for physical diseases in people with schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder” and found that “psychotropic medications can contribute to the risk of physical morbidity and mortality,” that is, death. They found that “people with severe mental illness (SMI), particularly schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder, have an average mortality rate that is 2-3 times higher than the general population.” At the top of the list of causes was obesity with a three to four-fold increase in weight gain above that of the general population. The list of death-inducing diseases included dys-

Rage doesn’t come from thin air.

lists these “non-toxic” but common side effects of lithium: muscle twitches and tremors, blackout spells, loss of bladder or bowel control, restlessness, confusion, stupor, uncontrollable tongue movements, hallucinations, cardiac arrhythmia (heart irregularity), seizures, thyroid problems, diabetes, slowed intellectual functioning and lethargy, birth defects if given to a pregnant woman, mild shakiness, especially in the hands, thirst, increased or frequent urination, diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness, muscle weakness, and coordination problems. Anticonvulsants were designed to treat epilepsy, a seizure disorder, so any mood stabilizing coming from them is already off label (before we get to anger – for which no drug was ever created). These include valproic acid, also called valproate or divalproex sodium (Depakote, Depakene), lamotrigine (Lamictal), and carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol, Epitol, Equetro). Current Psychiatry Reports lists the “adverse effects” of these drugs: “cognitive, dermatological, endocrine, gastrointestinal, immunological, met-

lipidemia, diabetes, thyroid disorders, hyponatremia (too little sodium in the blood); cardiovascular, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal, hematological, musculoskeletal and renal diseases, as well as the movement and seizure disorders mentioned above. Now we get to the second half of the treatment challenge. We’ve covered five serious issues with medication. Now, we turn to the even stranger world of diagnosis.

Diagnosis In the realm of mental health, there is no such thing as a real “diagnosis.” That is, there is no evidence, no research, or what psychiatrists who object to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual call “biomarkers” to establish a diagnosis. Instead, the DSM-III was created by a task force of 15 white, middle class people from academia sitting around and talking about what labels to make up for people. (See James Davies article How Voting and Consensus Created the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in the Journal An-

thropology & Medicine, Volume 24, 2017, Issue 1). Well, you might say, that was just the DSM-III which came out back in 1980 and is no longer used. Since then, there was DSM-III-R, DSM-IV, and in 2013, DSM-5. But according to Davies, the author cited above, the “DSM-IV Task Force only significantly reformulated 4 of the 292 disorders inherited from DSM-III-R. This meant that most of DSM-III’s categories were imported into DSM-IV without alteration.” Davies spoke to Allen Francis, the chair of the DSM-IV committee, wondering why nothing was changed. Didn’t he realize that there was no neurological or other evidence used in the III? Why build on such a flimsy foundation? Here is Francis’s reply: “‘We knew that everything that came before was arbitrary (Frances corrected himself); we knew that most decisions that came before were arbitrary. I had been involved in DSM III. I understood its limitations probably more than most people did.’” Huh? He knew that III had no evidence; he admits it was “arbitrary” – and builds on that? And 5? Same thing – no neurobiological evidence, no research; instead, committee consensus. And just to make sure that Davies or someone else wouldn’t expose them with the same proof – like committee minutes recording actual discussions that were used for Davies’s investigation – “the APA has embargoed DSM-5’s archive materials until 2024 and has required all DSM-5 participants to sign confidentiality agreements (prohibiting them discussing the manual’s construction).” (italics mine) Whoa. “Embargoed” means the committee does not want you to know this, so all proof has been kept locked up with no possibility of getting at it. But how does all this affect real people?

Case Study The April 8, 2019 issue of the New Yorker magazine ran a story that is unfortunately very, very common. Laura Delano was a confused young lady; she didn’t feel she knew who she was. This is actually a normal response for many adolescents growing

The 5, 2015 2019 The Jewish Jewish Home Home || DECEMBER OCTOBER 29,

up. It doesn’t need drugs to help get them clear on their identity. And she was bright, getting accepted to Harvard, and doing well in spite of her confusion. But when she presented to the counseling office for help, G-d forbid they would talk to her to get a handle on what bothered her. No. Rather they gave her pills. And diagnoses. She thought the pills were meant to calibrate a “chemical imbalance” in her brain. She did not know – and no psychiatrist told her – that they could not do that. I really thought that the psychiatric community had realized the “chemical imbalance” days were over since such a thing has never been found and so many scientists have said so (please see my previous article on that subject in this publication or on my website blog). But just yesterday, in preparing for this article, I went to a number of popular sites, and by golly, there it was. Again. As Pete Seeger would have said, “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” Obviously, the potent antipsychotic cocktail didn’t help because the underlying problem, as Jean Paul Sartre would have said, was existential. Eventually, she attempted suicide. Luckily, it did not work, but when she came to, they did what? Why, they loaded her with more drugs. According to Rachel Aviv, the author of the New Yorker article, “Wayne Goodman, a former chair of the F.D.A.’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee, has called the idea that pills fix chemical imbalances a ‘useful metaphor’ that he would never use with his patients. Ronald Pies, a former editor of Psychiatric Times, has said, ‘My impression is that most psychiatrists who use this expression’ – that the pills fix chemical imbalances – ‘feel uncomfortable and a little embarrassed when they do so. It’s kind of a bumper-sticker phrase that saves time.’” In the blurb to Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, on the subject of these very medications and these very diagnoses, it says, “Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripled over the past two decades? … Do psychiatric medications fix “chemical imbalances” in the brain, or do they, in fact, cre-

ate them? … Then comes the scientific query at the heart of this book: During the past fifty years, when investigators looked at how psychiatric drugs affected long-term outcomes, what did they find? Did they discover that the drugs help people stay well? Function better? Enjoy good physical health? Or did they find that these medications, for some paradoxical reason, increase the likelihood that people will become chronically ill, less able to function well, more prone to physical illness?” Laura Delano finally made a decision. She decided to come off of her medications. She’d been on 19 of them in 14 years. But that was more difficult than going on them. It turns out that most doctors are not familiar with the correct protocol for weaning from them – with side effects playing havoc on the brain. As an example, Aviv relates what happened when she slowly took herself off of Effexor. “When a cashier at the grocery store spoke to her, she was convinced that he was only pretending to be cordial – that what he really wanted to say was ‘You are a repulsive, disgusting, pathetic human.’ She was overstimulated by the colors of the cereal boxes in the store and by the grating sounds of people talking and moving. ‘I felt as if I couldn’t protect myself from all this life lived around me,’ she said.” David Taylor, the director of pharmacy and pathology at the Maudsley Hospital, in London, and the author of more than three hundred peer-reviewed papers, claims that people must be weaned off medications over a period of months not the two- to fourweeks that is common practice. Because the medical profession has not examined withdrawal from meds closely enough, there is a network of lay websites and groups ad-

dressing it, trying to help one another go slowly enough to avoid the intensity of crazy-making side effects. Nevertheless, the side effects are unavoidable. The web forum Surviving Antidepressants coined terms to describe the weird feelings that people would have such as “‘neuro-emotion,’ an exaggerated feeling not grounded in reality” and “‘dystalgia,’ a wash of despair that one’s life has been futile” (from the New Yorker article). The good news is that Laura did wean herself off of all her medications. She also weaned herself off belief in psychiatric diagnoses. She started helping people who were also on the various sites to get off their medications. And she was embracing life with all the normal pain that comes with it – along with its pleasures.

Anger Let’s summarize what we’ve covered so far. There seem to be five problems with medication: 1. Most prescriptions for mental health medications are written off label. 2. Research is only done on patented drugs, and only the good results are submitted for publication. 3. Tachyphylaxis (tolerance) affects about 25% of users; the placebo effect may account for 75% of initial positive results from medication. 4. Treatment-resistance accounts for failure of about one-third of people to get even initial results. 5. The side effects of drugs have been more than annoying; they’ve increased mortality; they’re scary. This problem is complicated by the fact that we don’t really have a scientific system of diagnosing “mental” problems, as discussed above. When it comes to anger – which was given the more scientific-sound-

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ing label “intermittent explosive disorder” – there has been no medication created and tested specifically for it. But what medication, exactly, should doctors choose to use when all of the DSM categories are arbitrary in the first place? This brings us to the sixth problem with medication and diagnosis: “cocktails.” Oh, let’s try this. Or this. How about adding this? Well, if that is not working, let’s take it out and substitute this. None of it tested, none of it working. The June 5 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter addressed this. Reviewing studies on intermittent explosive disorder, it says, “Impulsive aggression in general is associated with low serotonin activity as well as damage to the prefrontal cortex, a center of judgment and self-control.” Therefore, adding SSRIs seems like a good idea. They reviewed a study doing just that, and while the results showed improvement with fluoxetine, “researchers cautioned that even though the effect appeared robust, fewer than half the patients taking fluoxetine achieved a full or partial remission.” In other words, they did better than the placebo group on written tests without actually getting better. Or, as Peter Breggin, M.D., psychiatrist and author of “Talking Back to Prozac” says, “All psychoactive substances, whether alcohol, marijuana, abilify, lithium, or Prozac, impair frontal lobe functioning.” But, he is quick to mention, our frontal lobe is what makes us human. Our frontal lobe function is all about our “caring, thinking, feeling.” True, the drug may provide us relief from pain. But in that process, “It’s an anesthesia of the brain – and hence, the spirit or soul.” Author of 70 scientific articles and 20 books, and available as an expert witness, Breggin calls this “the brain-disabling principle of psychiatric treatment.” The biggest takeaway from his many talks and articles is that psychoactive substances don’t actually do what they’re supposed to. For example, anxiolytics do not take away anxiety. They simply sedate the brain. The antipsychotics, to take another example, block the dopamine pathway to the frontal lobe of the brain. This produces “apathy, indifference,


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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

not caring, not being involved with yourself.” So, if a person had hallucinations, these don’t go away, but the “poor soul doesn’t care so much about them.” They are “a chemical lobotomy…they only work by making you less than you really are.”

A Better Approach for Anger? According to the research of Alexander McFarlane, anyone with traumatic memories has a 497% chance of having depression. Furthermore, people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) have disruption of the frontal circuitry of their brains. Now, what is the likelihood that a person has actually suffered trauma? According to Bessel van der Kolk, the two single largest sources of psychopathology in a very large sample of children were separation of the primary caregiver and being humiliated by the primary caregiver. Vince Feletti, the director of a study of 17,000 surveys filled out by

those with Kaiser Permanente HMO, found that adult drug abuse has a 4,600% correlation with child abuse. Whether we are talking about using drugs or cutting or raging – we can easily trace back the history to some form of child abuse. Rage doesn’t come from thin air. So instead of figuring out what drugs are going to calm and quiet the upset person, one helpful step in the right direction is being a kindly listener. Feletti found in his research that if people filled out the survey indicating childhood abuse and the doctor scheduled a brief 20 minute appointment to get their trauma history, that alone reduced their anger and frustration because the biggest source of frustration for people is not being heard. To back this up, van der Kolk remarks that in New York, the rates of PTSD from September 11 were astonishingly low because there was an outpouring of love from the rest of the country. As he put it, “New York transformed into Davenport, IA.”

On the other hand, Senate hearings in May of 2010 included some foster children who wanted to speak about their histories and the medication they were given. One child said, “We had no voice. We had to scream and act out to be heard.” Another child put it very simply, “Medication cannot compensate for a lack of love.” The best approach to treating anger is giving a person two specific tools: • The strength and clarity to express oneself assertively rather than aggressively. • The ability to self-soothe in healthy ways. The first tool is very difficult. People who have been raging are so used to being unheard that slowing down and speaking as if they will be heard actually takes a mindset adjustment. And, of course, the people that need to actually listen, must actually listen. So it becomes a family issue. The second tool is quite difficult,

too, because, as the research above shows, the cognitive part of their brains have been offline for so long that it will take work and diligence to bring them back online such that their prefrontal cortex will actually communicate with their “fire alarms,” their amygdalas. The amygdala does not have any communication with the cortex in people who have been easily frightened and enraged, ordinarily. But there have been tools to accomplish exactly this, very successfully for at least several decades. Taking care of our bodies and our minds is far harder than popping pills. But the result is good health with no side effects. The next few articles will get into these two avenues out of rage.

Dr. Deb Hirschhorn is a Marriage and Family Therapist. If you want help with your marriage, begin by signing up to watch her Masterclass at https://drdeb. com/myw-masterclass.

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Health & F tness

Essential Vitamins for Winter Survival By Cindy Weinberger MS, RD, CDN


ith the days getting shorter and the bare trees all around us, it is safe to say winter has begun. Winter tends to drag many of us down, sucking up our energy, leaving us with the sniffles, sore throat, seasonal flu and winter blues. On a less depressing note, these winter-associated ailments are generally caused by a lack of vitamins and minerals which, in turn, weakens our immune systems. While nothing can completely stop a cold in its tracks, a healthy immune system can help fight off the germs that cause colds and the flu and even shorten a cold’s duration. Here are some foods that will help boost your immunity and your mood this season and hopefully turn this frightful winter into a delightful one. When we feel a cold coming on, we tend to pop vitamin C in hope of boosting our immune system and fighting off the cold symptoms. During the winter months when colds are common and the germs are everywhere we turn, it is vital to have adequate stores of vitamin C. The problem is that many vitamin C-rich fruits are not in season during the winter. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C include peppers, guavas, green leafy vegetables, kiwi, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papaya. From this list, produce such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butter lettuce, kale, kiwi, papaya, and oranges are in season during the fall and winter months. These fruits and vegetables can be found this time of year in your local grocery store. Eating a diet high in these fruits and vegetables will provide adequate levels of vitamin C in order to support body tissue growth,

healthy blood vessels, strong bones and teeth, combat the common cold and prevent the winter influenza. If one is unable to get adequate levels of vitamin C from their diet, they should ask their primary care physician about taking a regular vitamin C supplement during the winter months. Another essential winter vitamin is vitamin D. Vitamin D is an unusual vitamin in the sense that vitamin D is not only found in foods – most of the vitamin D we get is from sunlight exposure. As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, we seem to be

immune function. Again, we see how a lack of vitamin D weakens our immune system, which welcomes the unwanted winter germs. Vitamin D is found in high concentrations in oily fish, fortified cereals, mushrooms, dairy products, eggs and cod liver oil. Once again, if you’re unable to obtain adequate levels of vitamin D during the winter months, ask your primary care physician about taking vitamin D supplements. Calcium and vitamin D go hand-inhand. Calcium depends on vitamin D for proper absorption. The combina-

A healthy immune system can help fight off the germs that cause colds and the flu.

exposed to less and less sunlight. Not only do we see less sunlight, but even when the sun is shining, we are mostly indoors seeking warmth, and when we do venture outside, we are all bundled up due to the low temperatures. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin from UV radiation produced by sunlight through a process called photolysis. Once vitamin D is converted into its active form (1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D) in the kidneys, it can perform its various functions. These functions include bone formation and resorption, regulating calcium homeostasis, and

tion of calcium and vitamin D helps build strong bones and prevents osteoporosis. Strong bones are extremely important during the winter months when unfortunate slips and falls are very common due to the icy and slippery streets, which can result in broken bones. Adequate stores of calcium and vitamin D can help prevent those threatening bone fractures. Calcium is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach, kale, okra, and fortified foods. Other vitamins that are vital to keep our immune system in tiptop

shape are vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. Vitamin C, E, and selenium are antioxidants that help protect the cells from oxidative damage and, in turn, strengthen the immune system. Sources of these antioxidants include milk, green leafy vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, oranges, meat, fish, and certain cereals. A body that is lacking in iron can become very sluggish in the winter. Iron helps increase energy levels and supplies fresh blood oxygen delivery to the lungs, spleen, bone marrow, muscles, and cells. Iron-rich foods include liver, red meat, beans, broccoli, spinach, soybeans, and eggs. Vitamins and minerals are essential all year round, although these we discussed are even more necessary in the winter months. Be sure to incorporate sources of vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, antioxidants. and iron into your menus this winter. Hopefully these vitamins will rev up your immune system, give you the extra boost of energy to jump out of bed on those dark mornings, and keep you healthy, happy, and active during this long winter.

Cindy Weinberger MS, RD, CDN, is a Master’s level Registered Dietitian and Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist. She graduated CUNY Brooklyn College receiving a Bachelor’s in Science and Master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences. She is currently a dietitian at Boro Park Center and a private nutrition consultant located in Brooklyn and the Five Towns. She can be reached at

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019





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In The K


Aussie Meat Pies Meat • Yields 6 servings By Naomi Nachman

Growing up in Australia, we ate lots of meat pies. They’re basically our street food, served at sports games, parties, and even for dinner. When I knew was writing my cookbook, I had to come up with an American version. After my American children tried it, they declared, “Mum, these are as good as the Aussie pies we have when we visit Bobby and Zaida.” Phew!


Photo credit: Miriam Pascal

2 tablespoons canola oil 1 onion, finely chopped 1 pound chopped meat 2 tablespoons flour 1¼ cups beef stock 2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons fishfree Worcestershire sauce Kosher salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 4 sheets frozen puff pastry 1 egg, lightly beaten

Preparation Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion; sauté until onion is translucent. Add meat, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any clumps. Stir in flour, beef stock, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce until well incorporated. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat; set aside to cool completely. After the meat has cooled, use an immersion blender to make a paste that still has some texture. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a small plate about 8 inches in diameter as a guide, cut six circles from 1 sheet of puff pastry. Use them to line the base and sides of six 1-cup pie tins or ramekins. Fill the pastry with the meat mixture; avoid spilling any on the edges. Using the same plate as a guide, cut 6 circles from the puff pastry. Brush the pastry edges of the pies with water to moisten; top each with a puff pastry circle (it will extend past the edges of the pie). Press the pastry edges together to secure. Trim the excess pastry with a sharp knife; crimp the edges. Cut a small X in the center of each pie; brush the top with beaten egg. Bake the pies until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 35-40 minutes. Serve the pies with ketchup.

Naomi Nachman, the owner of The Aussie Gourmet, caters weekly and Shabbat/ Yom Tov meals for families and individuals within The Five Towns and neighboring communities, with a specialty in Pesach catering. Naomi is a contributing editor to this paper and also produces and hosts her own weekly radio show on the Nachum Segal Network stream called “A Table for Two with Naomi Nachman.” Naomi gives cooking presentations for organizations and private groups throughout the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan area. In addition, Naomi has been a guest host on the QVC TV network and has been featured in cookbooks, magazines as well as other media covering topics related to cuisine preparation and personal chefs. To obtain additional recipes, join The Aussie Gourmet on Facebook or visit Naomi’s blog. Naomi can be reached through her website, or at (516) 295-9669.


The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019





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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Notable Quotes “Say What?!”

We have a tremendous amount of captured fighters, ISIS fighters, over in Syria, and they’re all under lock and key, but many are from France, many are from Germany, the U.K., they’re mostly from Europe. I have not spoken to the president about that. Would you like some nice ISIS fighters? I can give them to you. You can take every one you want. - President Trump to French President Emmanuel Macron, at a joint press conference at the NATO summit this week

Let’s be serious. - Macron’s response

What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO. - French President Emmanuel Macron, in an interview with Economist magazine, criticizing President Trump for removing soldiers from Syria and saying that it eroded NATO

This is why he’s a great politician, because that’s one of the greatest nonanswers I’ve ever heard. - Trump, quipping about Macron’s response

It’s a tough statement. When you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries…. Nobody needs NATO more than France. – President Trump, at the NATO summit, responding to Macron’s comment

This is a crazy story: In New Jersey, someone found a message in a bottle from 1907. Yeah, the note said: “The Jets [stink].” — Conan O’Brien

I’m doing this for my mother – she was taken to Auschwitz and she never came home. - Holocaust survivor Jacques Innedjian, celebrating his bar mitzvah for the first time as a man in his late 80s, last week

Today is Cyber Monday, which is followed tomorrow by Someone-Stole-the-Blender-From-My-Porch Tuesday. — Jimmy Kimmel

I am just a big kid. - Greg Milano, 30, who has a law degree and works in real estate, talking to CNN about his Thanksgiving tradition that he started 20 years ago of making sculptures with his mashed potatoes

We were told, “Oh, it’s gonna be the bigot in the pickup truck; it’s gonna be the Klansmen; it’s gonna be the rural sheriff.” But it turned out that through all of that, ultimately the biggest impediment was the modern-day liberal. - Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who is African-American and conservative, in a new documentary discussing how the left tried to destroy him because they disagreed with his views


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The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

We will continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and foundation) and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries. We cannot treat Mike’s Democratic competitors differently from him. If other credible journalistic institutions publish investigative work on Mike or the other Democratic candidates, we will either publish those articles in full, or summarize them for our readers — and we will not hide them. For the moment, our P&I team will continue to investigate the Trump administration, as the government of the day. If Mike is chosen as the Democratic presidential candidate (and Donald Trump emerges as the Republican one), we will reassess how we do that. - Bloomberg News’ editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, in a statement about how the company founded by 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg will cover his campaign

We don’t know where anybody’s head is at now. - Comedian Jerry Seinfeld discussing why it’s so difficult to write comedy nowadays

Bloomberg News has declared that they won’t investigate their boss or his Democrat competitors, many of whom are current holders of high office, but will continue critical reporting on President Trump. As President Trump’s campaign, we are accustomed to unfair reporting practices, but most news organizations don’t announce their biases so publicly. Since they have declared their bias openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign events.

Is Joe Biden’s slogan really going to be “No Malarkey”? That’s your slogan? “Yes we can!” “Make America great again!” “No Malarkey”? What does that word even mean? It sounds like the dish your vegan cousin serves at Thanksgiving: “It’s not turkey; it’s malarkey!” - Trevor Noah

– Statement in response by Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale

Young people prefer Friendsgiving to Thanksgiving. In other words, they prefer fun drunk to angry drunk. — James Corden

I got a buck! I got a buck! - Florence Teeters, age 104, of Wisconsin, after becoming the oldest person in known Wisconsin history to successfully hunt a deer. This was Florence’s first hunt



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These turkeys will remain calm under any condition, which is good because they’ve been subpoenaed to appear in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday. - President Trump at the White House ceremony “pardoning” two turkeys, sparing them from becoming Thanksgiving meals and joking about House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff’s impeachment hearings

I expected, the moment I heard Biden’s name, I told my colleagues, they’re going to try to kill me, because they’re going to kill the messenger. But…the mafia couldn’t kill me; your colleagues are not going to kill me. - Rudy Giuliani, who became famous for prosecuting the mafia in New York, talking about the media’s character assassination of him, on Fox News

It was our pleasure to save your house. Sorry that we could not save your sheds. P.S. We owe you some milk. - Note left in a house by firefighters in Australia after they saved the house from a wildfire and drank some milk from the fridge after the fire was under control

How is Trump Spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, Golfing and More - Newsweek headline on Thanksgiving, while President Trump was in Afghanistan spending Thanksgiving with U.S. troops


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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Political Crossfire

Now Lech Walesa Wants to Help Hong Kong By Marc A. Thiessen


ech Walesa faced down an “evil empire” and freed his country from the yoke of Communist domination. Now, three decades later, the former Solidarity leader, Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize winner says he is ready to go to Hong Kong and stand with protesters there who are trying win a similar victory for freedom. The circumstances the Hong Kong protesters face today are eerily similar to those Walesa faced in Poland. In Hong Kong, as in Poland, a grass-roots movement has risen up against a communist puppet government. In Hong Kong, as in Poland, they are menaced by a totalitarian empire across their border that threatens to invade and crush them. In Hong Kong, as in Poland, the puppet regime has cracked down on the protesters, firing at marchers in the streets and arresting opposition leaders. And in Hong Kong, as in Poland, few believe the democratic forces can prevail against the massive powers arrayed against them. That should not faze them, Walesa told me in an interview. “When I was involved in my struggle, nobody in the world believed we could win the victory. I consulted the big leaders of the world…and none of them, not even a single one, claimed that we stood the least of chances.” But they did succeed – and Walesa believes the odds of success in Hong Kong are even better than

they were in Poland. Decades ago, Solidarity broke the regime’s monopoly on information by publishing underground newspapers printed with shoe polish that were passed from person to person. Today, he says, modern communications technology means Hong Kong’s opposition “can communicate in real time instantly…to establish their solidarity, solidarity among themselves, but also solidarity with the leaders of the world.”

people – over 71% of eligible voters – turned out for district council elections, the only fully democratic elections in Hong Kong. In a vote considered a referendum on the protest movement, the pro-democracy parties crushed the pro-Beijing parties, showing that the people of Hong Kong support the opposition. Of course, Beijing learned the lessons of Walesa’s success. Chinese leaders saw that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was unwilling

Walesa believes the odds of success in Hong Kong are even better than they were in Poland.

Moreover, in Poland, Walesa says, Communist authorities “would be ridiculing us saying, ‘You are so few. What power do you represent?’” It was only after Pope John Paul II first visited Poland in 1979, and millions came out to greet the Polish pontiff, that they realized the Communists had lied to them. They were not so few, after all; they were millions strong. But in Hong Kong, the people know they are not few. Last month, nearly 3 million

to kill indiscriminately to maintain power. In Tiananmen Square, they demonstrated no such reticence. This is why, Walesa says, it is critical that the United States and the rest of the world’s democracies stand with the people of Hong Kong and use their leverage to deter a Chinese crackdown. “If China realizes that those people protesting there have the support of the whole world, their approach will also differ because they would not want to lose their

friends worldwide.” Walesa also warns Hong Kong leaders to be careful not to push for what he calls the final confrontation before they are ready. “Like in boxing, you know you can give a blow, but then you try to avoid the opponent’s blow,” he says. But he also believes Hong Kong’s victory may come before anyone in the outside world expects it. Walesa recalls how in November 1989 West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl came to Warsaw and met with him. “I am not a diplomat, so I just got straight to the point. ‘The Berlin Wall is about to fall.’ That’s what I tell them. ‘The Soviet Union is about to collapse…. Are you prepared for that?’” He recalls that Kohl responded, “Dear friend, I wish we had problems like that.” “The point,” Walesa says, “is they had to cancel the rest of the official visit to Poland because the Berlin Wall came down that night.” Hong Kong, he says, can see the same success. Asked whether he is ready to travel to Hong Kong, Walesa does not hesitate. “Yes, I would be willing to do that,” he says. “They are fighting for the ideals that are in favor of the good progress of the world.” If Hong Kong’s democracy advocates want his help, the man who helped bring down the Soviet empire is ready to board a plane and stand with them. (c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group


OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019


Political Crossfire

The Dog That Didn’t Bark in the Persian Gulf By David Ignatius


here’s an intriguing anomaly in global politics this season: despite a summer of confrontation in the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are exploring possible dialogue with Tehran and its allies about easing tensions in Yemen and elsewhere. The Gulf countries are more open to talks with Iran and its proxies partly because they’ve lost some of their former confidence in the United States as a reliable military protector. That’s one cost of President Trump’s erratic policy, in which he alternates tweets about bombing Iran with bromides about meeting with Iranian leaders. Confused Gulf countries increasingly are hedging their bets, through diplomacy and greater reliance on Russia and China. The U.S., meanwhile, is pursuing its own sensitive dialogue with Iran, through a Swiss diplomatic channel, about a possible exchange of prisoners. At the top of Iran’s list is Masoud Soleimani, a scientist arrested last year in Chicago for allegedly attempting to export biological materials to Iran. The U.S. has a long list of prisoners for release in any swap. If the Swiss-brokered negotiations succeed, they could be the start of a broader U.S.-Iranian engagement. The new diplomatic activity on Yemen was evident in a visit to Washington this week by Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the foreign minister of Oman, which has traditionally been a key intermediary between America and its allies and Iran.

Alawi told me last Tuesday, following a visit the previous day with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that he was hopeful about a settlement of the war in Yemen because of recent talks between Saudi Arabia and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there. “It’s time now for the parties in Yemen to settle their differences,” Alawi said in the interview. “I hope that next year will be a great year for achieving this.” Alawi told Omani television after meeting Pompeo: “There are consultations; there’s mediation and the desire to solve the conflict.” Progress in Yemen has emerged through Saudi meetings with the

“I’m optimistic,” said one senior Gulf diplomat who follows the Yemen talks carefully. “A year ago, I couldn’t tell you that Saudi Arabia was involved in a peaceful dialogue. I can say that now with confidence.” Tensions seem to be easing on other Gulf fronts, as well. After Iranian attacks on tankers in UAE waters early this past summer, the UAE in late July sent a delegation of its coast guard to Tehran for talks with the naval forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. That meeting produced a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on maritime border security.

Iran is chumming the water with other diplomatic proposals.

Houthi rebels, with strong U.S. encouragement. According to U.S. and Emirati officials, this push for a Yemen settlement has been led by Saudi Prince Khaled bin Salman, the deputy defense minister and brother of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the impulsive leader who launched the ruinous Yemen war in 2015. The latest positive step was the Saudi announcement last Tuesday that they will release 200 Houthi prisoners.

Saudi Arabia is also weighing a string of offers to mediate with Iran – from Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, France, and Japan. So far, this hasn’t led to any formal channel between the two countries. The Saudis want Iran to pledge it will stop exporting its revolution and respect the sovereignty of its neighbors before any talks begin. The Saudi demand came in a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, but Iran hasn’t delivered the desired assurances.

Iran is chumming the water with other diplomatic proposals. President Hassan Rouhani proposed in September what’s known as the “Hormuz initiative,” which would bring together countries on both sides of the Gulf for dialogue, based on standard United Nations principles such as non-interference and non-aggression. Kuwait has backed the proposal, but other Gulf countries have been silent, probably because the effort doesn’t now include the United States. “The trend is toward diplomacy and de-escalation, for sure,” said one senior UAE official. But he cautioned that his country wants a clearer statement from Iran that it will stop meddling in the region. “Saudi and UAE cynicism about Iran hasn’t changed, but their calculus of the U.S. has; they realize that Donald Trump doesn’t have their backs, and they need to fend for themselves,” explains Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The poisons stewing in the Persian Gulf are as dangerous as ever, and the risk of war remains. But it’s more than two months since Iran’s devastating strike on the Abqaiq refinery. The Saudis haven’t retaliated, or even publicly blamed Iran. What’s in the wind instead is a diplomatic process that’s already delivering some progress on Yemen and could expand – but not without a clear signal of what America wants. (c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

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OCTOBER DECEMBER29, 5, 2015 2019 || The The Jewish Jewish Home Home OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Forgotten Her es

Rescuing Those Behind Enemy Lines By Avi Heiligman

A member of Israel’s Unit 669 during a training mission


ecovering downed pilots, stranded or wounded soldiers, and other military personnel needing assistance has become a major priority of the military in the past century. After World War II, the first civilian search and rescue mission was accomplished with the recently invented helicopter. Today, many countries around the world have SAR (Search and Rescue) units that are either run by the military or by other government organizations like the fire department. Countries like the United States, Great Britain, and Israel have specially trained SAR units that over the years have made headlines with daring rescues. The concept of “leave no man behind” has roots in Colonial America and can probably date back to much earlier in history. In addition to prisoner exchanges during the American Civil War, the North made several attempts to rescue captured soldiers from Confederate prisons. Planes brought a whole new element to rescuing servicemen during World War I. Armored cars were sent to pick up downed airmen, but this wasn’t always sufficient. The first Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) from the air took place in 1915 when Commander Richard Bell-Davies of the Royal Naval Air Service rescued his downed wingman in Bulgaria. On April 21, 1917, Australian Captain Richard Williams saw that fellow pilot Lieutenant Adrian Cole had been

shot down behind enemy lines near Be’er Sheva (a lot of fighting took place in and around Israel during the war). Braving intense anti-aircraft fire from the Turkish troops, Williams landed his plane next to Cole and picked him up. Williams received the Distinguished Service Order for his actions in saving Cole from capture. Helicopters brought CSAR to a whole new level towards the end of World War II. The U.S. Army Air Forces had only 30 of the new type of aircraft in April 1944. Lieutenant Carter Harman was flying one of these, a Sikorsky YR-4, when he received word that a rescue plane carrying an American pilot and three wounded British soldiers had been shot down by the Japanese in Burma. The helicopter was so small that it had room for just one man at a time to sit behind in the cabin. It took Harman two days to ferry everyone to safety, and this was done without any weapons protecting the vulnerable chopper. Harman, who later became a noted composer, received the Distinguished Flying Cross for the rescue operation. Many CSAR operations took place during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. One particular mission stands out for being the longest and most costly search during the Cold War. Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton was the navigator on a B-66 when his plane was shot out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile near the

Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam. The other five men in the plane were not able to eject in time but Hambleton landed in North Vietnamese territory. His knowledge of ballistic missiles and missile countermeasures would have made quite the prize if he were to have been captured by the Communists. His rescue was of upmost importance but during the next eleven and a half days, five aircraft were downed, eleven men were killed, and two were captured in failed mission after failed mission to rescue the officer. General Creighton Abrams was forced to call off further air operations. However, the door was still open for a ground rescue. With the help of a South Vietnamese commando, Navy SEAL Thomas Norris completed the harrowing journey by boat to pick up the wounded Hambleton. Norris was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions. It not only takes skilled pilots to get in and out of a dangerous area for a rescue but others are needed on board to jump off of a helicopter to actually pick up those being rescued. To become a Pararescue Jumper (PJ) is a badge of honor, and fewer than 10% who sign up for the course actually complete the rigorous training. PJs are expert divers and parachutists as well as having learned survival skills and advanced field medical training while on their way to being able to perform any type of rescue mission worldwide. In addition to

their military duties, pararescuemen have been on-hand for NASA missions that have had ocean landings. Israel has several units that are equipped with SAR units both in the military and civilian organizations. Unit 669 was created to fill a void after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. During the war, several IAF pilots were shot down behind enemy lines without means to escape. An ad hoc medavac (medical evacuation) unit was created to rescue wounded service members but there was nothing to rescue stranded pilots or members of other branches. Other Special Forces units were tasked with rescuing the downed crewmen but these forces were taking out time from other critical responsibilities. The time that it took for either the medavac or Special Forces units to arrive on scene was too long in some cases, and the medical care that was given was inadequate. This point was brought home when a pilot was forced to eject behind enemy lines. Even though he was wounded, he could still move around. However, he was captured when no IDF unit was sent to the rescue. Unit 669 was formed to avoid these mistakes in the future and within a year had performed their first rescue operation. Unit 669 is very active during peacetime, and when a war breaks out, they are running overtime. Operation Cast Lead in 2009 saw Unit 669 rescue 83 wounded IDF servicemembers. During Operation Protec-

The Jewish Jewish Home Home || DECEMBER OCTOBER 29, The 5, 2015 2019

Lieutenant Carter Harman, standing left, with his co-pilot and the maintainers of his helicopter

tion Edge in 2014, the unit evacuated over 250 soldiers from Gaza with a large number of those being under enemy fire. A regular calendar year will see an average of 80 missions for the unit with new capabilities being

added to their potential operations. The ability to perform rescue missions worldwide is a major asset to any military. The men and women who are called upon to undertake these daring tasks have undergone

33 127

Lt. Thomas Norris, background center, as Lt. Col. Hambleton, on the stretcher, is being taken to an armored carrier to be evacuated to the United States

extensive and rigorous training. Rarely do their stories come to the forefront of news outlets but their dedication to help anyone in need makes them heroes deserving of public appreciation.

Avi Heiligman is a weekly contributor to The Jewish Home. He welcomes your comments and suggestions for future columns and can be reached at



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ASSISTANT TEACHER Immediate opening for an afternoon teacher assistant in a special education lower elementary boys class at a yeshiva in the Five Towns. Please apply to or call for more information at 516-295-3666.


Professional Office Space to Rent: CEDARHURST. CENTRAL AVE.entrance, 2nd floor. 1 to 4 Rooms available: 22x14', 14x12', 13x9' , 12x8'. from $500/month+. Call/text 516-371-3715

DUE TO CANCELLATION 1 UNIT AVAILABLE S Fallsburg, Willow Woods B section Rent/sale, Beautiful, fully furnished duplex, porches, great condition. 3 Bedrooms, 3 Bathrooms, upgraded. Call/Text 917-270-6032.



WOODMERE: BEST BUY Spacious 2BR Apartment, Washer/Dryer In Bldg, Elevator Bldg, Open Floor Plan, 1st Floor, Close To All...$199K Call Carol Braunstein (516) 295-3000

Torah Academy for Girls is seeking qualified individual for a part time secretarial position. Hours 1-5:30 Monday-Thursday and 9:001:30 p.m. on Fridays. Please send resumes to or call 718-471-8444 ext. 214.

Far rockaway

Completely renovated 4 br, 2.5 bath home with new kit and baths, rights to priv beach. Malka (516)967-1967 $699K


Renovated oversized high ranch with 5 brs and 3 baths, new eat-in kitchen, huge den, oversized yard $5000/month


Ren. colonial with 5 brs and 3 baths on 1 level. kosher eik, den, full fin basement, large yard. Chana (516)449-9692 $1.099M

n. woodmere

Beautiful exp 5br 4bth high ranch w/ 3 lvls of living space, many updates throughout. Sarah (347)524-9147 $999K


Beaut renov 3br exp cape w/ kosher EIK, trex deck, nest therm, LED lights, 6 zone CAC. Low taxes, walk all. Price reduced! $669K Chana 516-449-9692


4 br col in heart of Academy sect. Lovely sunroom, bsmnt and fantastic attic. Racheli (917) 902-3661 $749K

n. woodmere

New exclusive! 4br 2.5bth col with EIK and den on quiet culde-sac. Call Moshe (516)455-5364 $4600/month


Palatial 4 story 6br 4.5 bth center hall colonial on sprawling half-acre property. Call Raizie (917)903-1778 $1.725M

ADMINISTRATIVE SECRETARY The White Shul in Far Rockaway is seeking a full time administrative secretary. Responsibilities include secretarial tasks such as data entry, mailings, correspondence, website maintenance, answering phones, and maintaining calendars. Excellent communication, computer skills and the ability to multi task and work collegially are required. Email resume to

SUBSTITUTE TEACHER Seeking a special education, secular studies teacher to cover for maternity leave in January - for a lower elementary girls class at a Bais Yaakov in Far Rockaway. Please Send your resume and apply to or call for more information at 516-295-3666.


DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home





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The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019


Classifieds HELP WANTED Seeking full time OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST for Special Education school located in Brooklyn. Experienced preferred. Competitive salary. Room for growth. ASSISTANT TEACHERS CAHAL is seeking part time or full time Assistant Teachers for Judaic Studies (AM) and/or General Studies (PM) for the 2019-20 school year. Send resume to or Fax 516-295-2899. Call 516-295-3666 for more information. SPECIAL ED DIRECTOR Responsibility: Curriculum Designer Individual curriculum as needed Staff training Innovative, visionary Requirement: Masters Special Ed and Education Administration or SLP Backgroup Email Resume:




JUST KIDS EARLY CHILDHOOD LEARNING CENTER is a private preschool program for young children disabled and non-disabled, 3- 5 years of age. We are a dynamic program looking for individuals who love to learn & grow professionally. Positions available at our Far Rockaway Location: Teacher Aides/Assistants (F/T) Substitute Teachers -Must be Certified Level 3 TA or NYS Certified Special Ed. Teacher (Birth-2) (F/T) Please send resumes to:

YOUNG ISRAEL OF LONG BEACH IS SEEKING A VIBRANT YOUNG COUPLE (REBBE/MORAH TYPES) TO SERVE AS YOUTH DIRECTORS. The candidate(s) would run youth groups on Shabbos and develop youth programming for all ages and seek to engage the young couples in the shul. email

CATAPULT LEARNING Teachers, Title I Boro Park, Williamsburg and Flatbush Schools *College/Yeshiva Degree *Teaching experience required *Strong desire to help children learn *Small group instruction *Excellent organization skills Competitive salary Send resume to: Fax: (212) 480-3691 ~ Email:

REGISTERED NURSE openings to work with adults who have developmental disabilities within residential settings in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Long Island. Current NYS RN, min 2 years hospital exp. OHEL: 855-OHEL JOB Looking to hire sales people to train as NY & NJ Public Adjusters. No experience necessary, flexible hours. Call 973-951-1534

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“NEW FIVE TOWNS RESTAURANT IS LOOKING TO HIRE THE FOLLOWING POSITIONS: Experienced grill man Laffa maker Dishwasher Delivery guy Please email


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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015




That’s a Lot of Gravy By Allan Rolnick, CPA


ack in 1621, a group of hardy Pilgrims sat down for a threeday festival of thanksgiving to celebrate surviving plague, starvation, cold, scurvy, Indian attack, and all the other obstacles that made life in the “new world” so delightful. They feasted on game birds, flint corn, venison, eels, shellfish, and native vegetables including beans, turnips, carrots, onions, and pumpkins. (No butter or flour, though, which meant no pumpkin pie. And aren’t you glad we remember them now for turkey instead of eels?) 242 years later, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first “official” Thanksgiving — a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Since then, it’s become one of America’s favorite holidays, a four-day weekend of friends and family without the holiday season hype. You know who else loves Thanksgiving? Our friends at the IRS, of course. That’s because they get to stuff themselves with taxes on everything connected with our celebration! • Sales taxes on turkey and trim-

mings pile up like calories on your plate. The American Farm Bureau Federation reports that the average 16-pound turkey will cost $21.76 this year. At an average 7.25% combined state and local sales tax, that makes $1.58 in tax for the bird alone. Throw in some potatoes, stuffing, cranberry

even more for the bourbon in Uncle Harry’s old fashioned. • What Thanksgiving would be complete without traveling over the river and through the woods? Here’s where Uncle Sam really cleans up. Gas taxes average 49.5 cents per gallon. If you’re traveling farther, the

The taxes alone could feed a hungry diner any other day of the year.

sauce, Aunt Edna’s special green bean casserole, and the obligatory pumpkin pie, and the taxes alone could feed a hungry diner any other day of the year. • Sales and excise taxes on beer, wine, and liquor are even higher than on food. Taxes make up 33% of the total cost of a bottle of wine, 44% of the total cost of a case of beer, and

taxes on a $376 average plane ticket include a $28.20 federal excise tax, a $3.90 flight segment tax, a $4.50 passenger facility charge, and a $10 “September 11 Security Fee.” (That’s before you pay even more to check your bag, board early to snag space in an overhead bin, or claim an extra three inches of legroom!) The hotel tax on an average $95.61 room runs $13.12.

Oh, and if you’re renting a car, plan on another 13.21% tax there. Now you know why the IRS says “cha-ching” when you sing “to Grandmother’s house we go!” All told, Uncle Sam and his colleagues in state and local tax departments take in $3.6 billion in Thanksgiving taxes. That’s enough to buy 165 million turkeys — enough to feed every man, woman, and child in America, with plenty left over for sandwiches. This Thanksgiving season, you’re probably not setting a place at the table for Uncle Sam. We can’t do much about the tax you’ll pay on your celebration. But we can help you with the tax you’ll pay on the income you earn to pay for it. So don’t be a turkey — call us now for the plan you need, and next year you’ll really have something to give thanks for!

Allan J Rolnick is a CPA who has been in practice for over 30 years in Queens, NY. He welcomes your comments and can be reached at 718-896-8715 or at

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019


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DECEMBER 5, 2019 | The Jewish Home OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Life C ach

Ring a Ding By Rivki D. Rosenwald Esq., MFT, CLC


o, there you are sneaking a little peek. Because, after all, it’s OK for you to do it. It’s just upsetting when everybody else does it. After all, you’ve got friends, kids, business obligations, a husband, a

wife, someone, who might be needing you or reaching out to you. I call it cellphone etiquette. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you – down the drain! Because you need to see who

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portant! We are getting to the point where we would do better to leave a room and text someone rather than stay there and talk, if we really want their undivided attention. Sure, if you are out and about alone and you want to get stuff done, then it’s great to have that phone. It’s like a portable office with no overhead – brilliant! But we have to realize that when a client comes in, they would need your undivided

Tiny droplets turning into a huge tsunami.

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might have contacted you in the last little bit of time. What’ s everyone else’s excuse?! What are you actually proposing? That everyone else just landed here from Mars completely disconnected from anyone on Earth? Only you have obligations and things to do or people to reach? Nah. It’s simply that you believe that your few seconds of distraction is no big deal. It’s just like a sneeze when you’re driving a car (short,

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quick, hardly a blip) and really unavoidable, and come on…it’s actually no big impediment to anyone. But wait – what if everyone on the road started sneezing all at once? It might look like bumper cars out there! Tiny droplets turning into a huge tsunami. We are getting so that we can’t pay attention to one another because we are busy with our stuff. We have become cellphone junkies. We just don’t get it. We are making all the people around us invisible, and everyone not present more im-

attention or the business deal you were working on would fall apart. I’m not saying it’s easy. But it’s time to try a little harder or else we’ll all be sneezing all over, not seeing each other, and making one another feel like we are sitting in quarantine. Sorry, gotta go! My phone’s ringing! Rivki Rosenwald is a certified relationship counselor, and career and life coach. She can be contacted at 917-7052004 or

The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 5, 2019 The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

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Five Towns Jewish Home - 12-5-19  

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Five Towns Jewish Home - 12-5-19  

Five Towns Jewish Home - 12-5-19