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NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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The Week In News

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Dear Readers, So much unknown. Will President Trump successfully challenge the election in the court system? Who will control the Senate? How many more seats will Republicans gain in the House? Will the lockdowns continue? Will the vaccine be mandatory? Will rioting subside or increase? While not having the answers to these questions can make one feel helpless, perhaps for us it is a great opportunity to internalize that there is a creator of this world Who controls everything that happens in it. There is no reason to feel anxious. There is zero reason to worry. We need to suspend our calculations and surrender to His control. In addition to being a great idea on an emotional level it is also the truth. If our Zaides and Bubbes lived, and when necessary gave up their lives for this truth, then we can certainly rise above the current defeatist atmosphere and focus more on our Davening, our learning Torah and take advantage of opportunities for good deeds. We are now in Chodesh Kislev and the Nes Chanukah is just around the corner. A minority can persevere over the majority and light wins over darkness. May we experience this very soon in the literal sense with the coming of Moshiach. When the occupation of all nations will be the pursuit of G-dly knowledge. Ub’karov Mamosh. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,

Shalom

T H E P R E M I E R J E W I S H N E W S PA P E R H I G H L I G H T I N G L A’ S O R T H O D OX C O M M U N I T Y The Jewish Home is an independent bi-weekly newspaper. Opinions expressed by writers are not neces­sarily the opinions of the publisher or editor. The Jewish Home is not responsible for typographical errors, or for the kashrus of any product or business advertised within. The Jewish Home contains words of Torah. Please treat accordingly. FOR HOME DELIVERY, OR TO HAVE THE LATEST ISSUE EMAILED TO YOU FREE OF CHARGE, SEND A MESSAGE TO EDITOR@JEWISHHOMELA.COM


The Week In News

NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Y E S H IVA U N IV E R S IT Y N I N E T Y-S IX TH A N N UA L

Hanukkah Dinner Sunday, December 6, 2020 Program 5 – 6 p.m. Address to the Yeshiva University Community by Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman Choose from the following virtual YU Conversations

Jewish Values in Professional Sports

STAN KASTEN

President and CEO, Los Angeles Dodgers

MARC LASRY

Co-owner of NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks

MARK WILF

Owner/President, Minnesota Vikings

Moderator: SHIRA YOSHOR

Employment Law and Business Law Lawyer, Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Risks vs. Rewards of Bringing Cutting-Edge Science and Technology to Market

JOE JACOBSON

Head of Molecular Machines Group, MIT Media Lab

ANNE NEUBERGER

Director, Cybersecurity at NSA

A New Era of Opportunity

AMBASSADOR DANNY DANON Israel’s Former Ambassador to the U.N.; Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science, Yeshiva University

RABBI ARYEH LEBOWITZ

Moderator: NOAM WASSERMAN Dean, Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University

Medical Ethics during a Global Pandemic

U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN Rennert Chair in Public Policy and Public Service, Yeshiva University

DR. TIA POWELL

Director, Montefiore-Einstein Center for Bioethics and of the Einstein-Cardozo Master of Science in Bioethics Program

DR. EDWARD REICHMAN

Professor in the Division of Education and Bioethics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Supreme Friendship in a Polarized Age: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia

Halacha during a Global Pandemic

Director, Joseph B. Soloveitchik Semikhah Program, RIETS, Yeshiva University

JEREMY WERTHEIMER

CEO, Biological Engineering Ventures

RAV HERSHEL SCHACHTER Rosh Yeshiva, RIETS, Yeshiva University

CHRISTOPHER SCALIA

Director of Academic Programs at the American Enterprise Institute, son of Justice Anthony Scalia

RABBI MEIR SOLOVEICHIK Director, the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University

REGISTER AT YU.EDU/HANUKKAHDINNER2020 FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT HANUKK AHDINNER@YU.EDU OR 646.592.4513

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The Week In News Living with the Times

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Jokers

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

This week’s parsha introduces us to a new phenomenon: hypocritical tricksters and cynical jokers. The posuk (Toldos 25:19) tells us, “These are the children of Yitzchok, the son of Avrohom; Avrohom gave birth to Yitzchok.” Rashi (ibid.) points out the repetition, explaining that the leitzonim of the generation alleged that Yitzchok was the son of Avimelech and not Avrohom. Hashem thus made Yitzchok appear exactly like Avrohom, so that people could look at him and see that he was indeed the son of Avrohom. As with all leitzonim, the facts of the story are not important. What is important to them is that they establish their narrative and stick to it, no matter what the truth is. Yitzchok was born two years after Sarah was taken hostage by Avimelech. Obviously, their story had no validity, yet Hash-

em still felt the need to have Yitzchok look like his father. We translate leitzonim to mean jokers, but in fact, as we see in our day, leitzonim present themselves as serious people. They fashion a narrative and repeat it unabashedly, fictitious as it may be. Vacuous people buy into it and believe it, despite evidence to the contrary. People are superficial and too lazy to think and examine what the real story is, so Hashem provided a bona fide proof to demonstrate the fallacy of the leitzonim, so that people would not be led astray and deny the lineage of Am Yisroel. Leitzonim are people with agendas who play with people’s minds, mocking the truth and advancing their schemes by creating an alternative reality. This is done in matters of religion by people who pres-

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ent themselves as religious or Orthodox and act in ways discordant with halacha and tradition. They present themselves as thoughtful progressives and broadminded scholars, concerned about health, people’s feelings and the transmission of Torah to future generations and those far removed, while they mock the ones who follow the path of Avrohom and Yitzchok as close-minded myopic fools blinded by a fidelity to insular, ignorant rabbis who are unconcerned about the wellbeing of others and uninterested in outreach, knowledge or scientific truths. Later in the parsha, we are introduced to Eisov and his shenanigans. The posuk states (Toldos 25:27), “Vayehi Eisov ish yodei’a tzayid – And Eisov knew how to trap.” Apparently, the Torah is informing us that Eisov was a hunter who excelled at trapping animals. However, Rashi tells us that the Torah is also letting us know that Eisov was a charlatan who tricked people with his mouth and words. Eisov tricked his father, Yitzchok, into thinking that he was a righteous person by presenting halachic questions to him. He reasoned that by presenting himself as a tzaddik, his father would love him more than Yaakov, who did nothing other than learn and do mitzvos all day. While we know from studying Torah and Chazal that Eisov was a fraud, it is likely that he not only asked Yitzchok his shaylos, but also, from outward appearances, presented himself as a tzaddik and worthy heir to Avrohom and Yitzchok. It was only through Divine intervention and actions by his mother Rivkah that Eisov didn’t emerge as the spiritual successor to Yitzchok. In life, we encounter all types of people. There are those such as Yaakov who keep to themselves and dedicate their lives to studying, teaching and fulfilling the precepts of Torah while maintaining a strict fidelity to the truth. Then there are those like Eisov, who are corrupt to the core and project a religious exterior. We have to be able to discern the difference between the two and attach ourselves and do business only with people who are scrupulously honest and G-d-fearing. We have to also examine ourselves and ensure that our motivations are pure and our actions holy. The struggle between Yaakov and Eisov endures and will continue until the end of days. One lived the life of the bais medrash and the other lived the life of the street. Yaakov was a tzaddik tomim, while Eisov was the opposite. Yaakov spoke with respect, humility

and empathy, as did his father, Yitzchok, and grandfather, Avrohom. Eisov had no use for anything holy and glibly sold his bechorah to Yaakov for the symbolic price of a bowl of lentil soup. The parsha tells us that while it appears that Yitzchok appreciated Eisov, the difference in speech and manner between his two sons was obvious to him. When Yaakov came forth to receive the brachos of “Veyiten lecha,” Yitzchok was confused, for although Yaakov was wearing the coat of Eisov, he sounded like Yaakov. “Hakol kol Yaakov.” Eisov later cried to his father, begging for a brocha, as he plotted his brother’s murder. The words meant nothing. Yitzchok discerned something in Yaakov’s voice, a sincerity and heart that marked him as different. Words are everything to a Jew. Our manner of speech defines us. How we speak, the words we choose, and our tone of voice all matter. We are to be refined, disciplined and respectful. We respect people whose words are soft and thoughtful, not brash and irreverent. We respect and promote men and women of truth, whose fidelity to honesty and halacha grounds them. It is him and people like him who embody the ideals of Am Yisroel. We are in the exile of Eisov and must make sure that we do not adopt his perfidious and disrespectful nature. In this week’s haftorah, the novi Malachi (1:2-6) repeats to the Jewish people Hashem’s words: “I love Yaakov and Eisov I hate…” As for the kohanim, the posuk states, “Amar Hashem Tzevakos lochem hakohanim bozei shemi.” They failed to demonstrate proper respect to Hashem and the Mikdosh. Underpinning the reprimand, and perhaps the connection to the parsha, is the fact that the kohanim earned their role and mission as a result of Yaakov’s purchase of the bechorah. The bechorim did not act properly, and the kohanim were chosen to replace them as attendants to Hashem. The original sale of the bechorah was rooted in the fundamental difference between the brothers. Yaakov was a man of respect, while Eisov epitomized ridicule and scorn. As the posuk says of Eisov, “Vayivez Eisov.” His personality was one of derision. Thus, if the kohanim had fallen to the level where they became “bozei Hashem,” embodying Eisov’s characteristic of the middah of bizayon, they were demonstrating that they were no longer worthy of in-


The Week In News Living with the Times

NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

heriting the gift bequeathed by Yaakov to serve Hashem in the Bais Hamikdosh. As bnei Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov, we are identified by three traits. We are rachmonim, baishonim and gomlei chassodim, people of mercy, bashfulness and kindness. We are invested with sensitivity and compassion, and the words we use, our tone of voice, and our approach have the ability to awaken those traits. We recently lost Rav Dovid Feinstein, a brilliant Torah giant who cloaked his greatness in simplicity. The many thousands around the world who mourn his passing saw in him a personification of the positive attributes we aim for, with humility, devotion to Torah study, halacha and relating to other people with kindness and compassion and decency. We should emulate the example he set for us. We live in a time when political parties recently spent billions of dollars to put forth their narratives and impact an election. When the recent election was over, one side was declared the winner. They shut down all discussion by the other side and successfully set about implanting their narrative everywhere, as if it represented the truth and the will of the people. With mock righteousness that would make Eisov proud, their vision took hold and whoever disagrees with them is treated as an out-of-

touch lunatic. Eisov doesn’t see past the surface. He sees a red soup and refers to it by its color, saying to Yaakov, “Haliteini na min ha’adom ha’adom hazeh... Al kein kara es shemo Edom” (Bereishis 25:30). Eisov and his offspring are referred to as “Edom,” because he referred to the lentil soup as “edom.” He exposed his superficiality. All he cared about was its color. Its identifying trait was one that had little to do with its flavor and consistency. Eisov doesn’t care about the truth other than to project himself as truthful and upstanding. He seeks to take advantage of people’s honesty and sincerity, seeing it as naiveté and gullibility. Edom, as a people, also fails to perceive beyond what it can touch and feel. Hence the fascination in our world with looks, color and presentation. There is no depth that’s meaningful to them beyond the surface image. We have to work harder to rid ourselves of that pernicious influence so that we can be worthy heirs to the glorious heritage passed down to us from our forefathers. We have to seek out what is real and proper and bypass what is shallow, superficial and impure. The test becomes greater by the day, as does the temptation to be affected by the glossy lures and come-ons.

The Chofetz Chaim kept pictures in his home that he would look at from time to time. One of them was a picture of a tall man in a threadbare caftan known as Reb Shimon Kaftan because of his tattered cloak. The man was neither a talmid chochom nor a rov. After losing his wife and children in a plague, he arrived in Vilna. Every day, he did just enough work to sustain himself and would spend the rest of the day going around town with a pushkah, softly asking people to put in their coins, which Reb Shimon used to feed hungry families and support yeshivah bochurim and Torah scholars. As he walked about, he hummed a little tune: “Someone who gives a penny here receives Olam Haba there.” It was a simple tune, but the Chofetz Chaim would tell the story of Shimon and sing his song. The gaon and tzaddik of Radin perceived the latent holiness in a little Yiddishe niggun, because the simple words and authentic Yiddishe emotions caused Jews to open their hearts. It was the timeless kol Yaakov and the Chofetz Chaim would sing it as if it were a sacred piyut. The niggun and its words were sacred and holy because it was pure and simple and touched the neshamos of pure, holy Jews. As children of Avrohom, Yitzchok and

Yaakov, we are all shluchim to continue their holy work. We are to care about each other, and speak with love and soft words people can understand and accept. We speak neither with a forked tongue nor with animosity, hate or sanctimonious judgmentalism. We are not hypocritical, flippant or glib. We are and remain positive and hopeful, treating all people properly, as our forefathers did. The tug of war between Yaakov and Eisov is eternal and continues to this day. The Chazon Ish told Rav Chaim Kanievsky in the early days of the state of Israel that, “There is a long rope, Ben Gurion holds one end and tries to pull all of Am Yisroel to his side. I hold on to the other end and try to pull all of Am Yisroel to my end. Sometimes he’s stronger, sometimes I am.” There is an ongoing battle until the arrival of Moshiach between good and evil, between those who are righteous and those who pretend to be. We must always be on the side of truth and goodness, avoiding lies and charlatans. We earned the brachos of Veyiten Lecha because we spoke plainly, softly and with respect. To act this way is our birthright and what identifies us and brings us blessings and favor in the eyes of Hashem.

Emotional Health

10 Qualities of an Emotionally Mature Person Rabbi Dov Heller, LMFT An emotionally mature person has ten characteristics. It’s worth taking a look at each of them in order to understand and see where we can improve. Refining these qualities will enhance our personal and professional relationships, as well as improve our menuchas hanefesh. 1. They acknowledge and take full ownership of uncomfortable feelings. Throughout our lives we experience a range of uncomfortable and sometimes unwanted feelings. We always have a choice. We can acknowledge and take ownership of them or try to ignore and get rid of them. Unfortunately, the latter option only leads to more emotional pain and to more complicated psychological problems such as depression. As physical pain indicates something is wrong with the body, emotional pain indicates that something is wrong with the soul. 2. They are curious about the meaning of their feelings rather than being afraid of them. Feelings are information and have unique personalized meanings. They are our teachers. The path to self-discovery and greater self-knowledge lies in unlocking the lessons embedded in our feelings and being able to listen to the messages they have to teach us. 3. They can tolerate the discomfort

of intense emotional states. Some feeling states like anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt, shame, anxiety, and emptiness can be difficult and unbearable. Affect tolerance is the ability to bear this type of discomfort. People who cannot tolerate intense emotion look for ways to numb themselves to get rid of the pain. This may bring some immediate relief but often results in long term suffering. 4. They process their feelings in order to learn and grow from them. There are three steps to processing our feelings: i. Acknowledge and name the feeling. We cannot explore a feeling until we properly name it. ii. Understand the unique personal meaning of this feeling in its present and historical context. iii. Use this information to make decisions that will elevate one’s self, others, and the world. 5. They know their vulnerabilities and triggers. Many people tend to have specific areas that make them vulnerable to hyper-reactivity and to being out of control. When we become flooded with emotions we cannot think clearly and make good decisions. Being aware of one’s triggers is one of the most important aspects of

self-knowledge. 6. They assertively express their needs. Taking care of our emotional needs is a crucial aspect of good self-care. People who are passive or are people-pleasers suffer. Because they often believe their needs don’t matter, they emotionally starve while they hope others will somehow figure out what they need without them needing to ask. 7. They accept themselves and are patient with themselves. Self-acceptance is the foundation of good self-esteem. People who don’t accept themselves tend to beat themselves up which is accompanied with shame. Shame is the emotional experience underlying low self-esteem. When we identify something we don’t like about ourselves, we have three options: feel shame and judge ourselves as defective, accept our weaknesses as part of being a limited and imperfect human being, or make changes to improve ourselves. 8. They do not isolate when struggling. Emotionally mature people reach out for help when they feel stuck or overwhelmed by life’s challenges. They are not ashamed to ask for help and receive help. They accept their limitations and

don’t suffer alone with their problems. 9. They are not afraid to be open and vulnerable. Being emotionally open and vulnerable is the way we connect deeply with other people. Being vulnerable means taking a risk to reveal personal and sensitive aspects about ourselves. Letting others “see” us is an essential way to bond deeply. 10. They value, honor, respect, and listen to the feelings of others. Emotionally mature people are attuned to other people’s feelings. They listen because they understand that one of the greatest acts of kindness is listening to someone else’s pain. When we value someone’s feelings, we are at the same time valuing their personhood. When we dismiss their feelings, we dismiss them. Emotional attunement empowers and strengthens. Non-attunement disempowers and weakens. Rabbi Dov Heller is in private practice offering psychotherapy and personal mentoring for individuals and couples. He can be contacted at Dov@ClarityTalk.com. You may also visit his website at www.ClarityTalk.com

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Sarah's The WeekCorner In News

NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Keep Calm and Face Yourself Sarah Pachter

Rav Yoel Gold shares an incredible story in a recent video entitled “Face Your Bears.”1 Effie Eitam, a commander in the Israeli army for thirty years, had been through several wars, escaped frightening explosions, and led missions that most would experience only through a television screen. But no war, bomb, or gunshot could prepare him for the terror he was about to face. Years after serving in the army, he had the privilege of embarking on a unique fishing trip in the wilderness of Alaska. Arriving at this location required flying in three separate airplanes to reach the camp, which was on the outskirts of civilization. When he was on the final aircraft approaching the campsite, the pilot announced, “There is only one dangerous animal here, the grizzly bear. If you come across a grizzly bear don’t run, don’t scream, and don’t crouch down. Stay still and calmly say, ‘Hey, bear! I am fishing here and I intend to stay.’” Effie, and the other passengers, laughed at the absurdity of the advice. Effie rolled his eyes and joked, “I’m sorry, but since when do bears understand English? What do you mean talk to the bear?” The pilot responded, “Trust me, it has worked every other time, and it can work for you, too.” The passengers did not anticipate an encounter with a bear and quieted down for the remainder of the flight. Almost immediately upon landing, Effie set out to fish. He was surrounded by miles of breathtaking splendor and felt both alone and at one with nature. He brought nothing to the river except a clear mind, fishing supplies, and a tuna sandwich. He was enjoying the serenity when

1 https://www.aish.com/v/insp/Face-Your-Bears.html

suddenly he heard a rustling noise nearby in the brush. He looked ahead and saw an enormous grizzly bear approaching. His body felt weak, and his first instinct was to scream or run away. Thankfully, he instead paused in his chair. He contemplated running but knew that the grizzly bear was capable of reaching speeds upwards of 35 miles per hour. If he ran, the bear was going to catch him, and he would die. Additionally, the bear could out-climb him as well. Screaming for help was useless; his voice would be swallowed up by the vast nature surrounding him. He was out of options, but then he recalled what the pilot advised. Reluctantly, he stood, faced the bear, and firmly said, “Hey, bear. I intend to stay here and fish.” This seemed to incite the bear further, as he rose on his hind legs, doubling in size while emitting a huge growl. The bear appeared like it was about to attack, and Effie was sure this would be the last moment of his life. Nevertheless, he kept calm, stared straight ahead, and said, “Hey bear, this is my place. I intend to fish here.” The bear remained standing, but after a few moments, it dropped down, swam downstream, and began catching fish in his jaw. Days later, when the excursion ended and Effie returned to the airplane, he bombarded the pilot with questions. “I encountered a bear and your technique worked! Does the bear actually understand? What is the secret to this tactic?” The pilot responded, “It’s simple, really. Under normal circumstances, the bear does not view a human as food. In the hierarchy of the animal kingdom, the human is highest, and the bear naturally respects that. It is only when the human acts like food, by crawling, screaming, or running will the bear respond and attack. But when you face the bear, and he hears a human voice, he honors the hierarchy of the animal kingdom.”

He continued, “When we act like humans, the bear eventually backs down.” As I watched this video and thought back on this line, I was struck by some powerful, applicable lessons to take away for our daily lives. Our job is to act with tzelem Elokim. We are mammals with godliness infused within us, which sets us apart from the animal kingdom. Sometimes, we forget we are bestowed with this gift and succumb to our lower selves, which can have far-reaching consequences. Here are three everyday examples of remaining calmly human in the face of some common “bears.” Parenting How many times a day do our children “attack” us with whining, tantrums, and endless negotiations? They test limits, just like the bear was gauging whether Effie was prey or person. Children sometimes throw tantrums or stand tall to assert themselves. Alternatively, they may lose control or instigate a fight until we lose control, too. When this happens, we must remember the tzelem Elokim inside. Just because your toddler or teenager is having a tantrum, it doesn’t mean we have to reciprocate. Speaking in a calm voice can help them eventually back down from their anger. Children need us to set limits and stick to them in order to feel safe and secure in the social and familial hierarchy. Next time your child approaches you like a bear, visualize yourself calmly stating your intention like Effie did, and stick to it. Most of the time, they will respect it (regardless of whether or not they transmit this outwardly). Difficult People The concept of remaining human certainly lends itself to interpersonal relationships. We all have challenging personalities in our lives. They might be negative coworkers, or even friends or family members. These personalities will sometimes approach you and try to “attack” or stir up a reaction.

If we debase ourselves to bad behavior, then the outcome usually leads to more negativity. Ultimately, it gives our “attacker” more fuel, which can further intensify a feud. We don’t have to engage with anyone at this level. We can instead recall Effie, who calmly stated his intention yet did not veer from his own humanity. You don’t have to run in fear, scream, or act in barbaric ways. We are humans, gifted with tzelem Elokim inside us. Recall this concept when dealing with any difficult person, and you can maintain your dignity. Ultimately, we have to face ourselves in the mirror and feel proud. By staying calm yet firm, we can achieve that. Difficult people will attack. If we can maintain serenity and visualize ourselves staying true to who we are, whatever the outcome, we will have succeeded. As a Nation Rabbi Dovid Revah shared a fascinating concept during his Parshat Shemot drashah. He explained that the lashon, language, of Mount Sinai is sina, hatred.2 What does Har Sinai have to do with hatred, when Hashem gifted us the Torah, His greatest expression of love? We are the chosen people, meant to receive this gift of Torah on Sinai. Therefore, as Jews, we must serve as a beacon of light amongst the nations by acting with utmost morality and kindness. Just like the bear gauging its prey, when we act as Jews we are treated as such. But when we stoop to low levels of dishonesty or apathy, surrounding nations will prowl with venomous hatred. If we do not remember who we are and the integrity we must have, inevitably they will remind us. Enemies of the Jewish people emerge when we are not doing our job correctly. When we act in a lowly manner they will fight us, but when we stand tall and calmly represent Hashem, then we have won the war, no matter the result. The Jewish nation has always and will always survive. Any civilization who attempts to destroy us will eventually retreat, just like the bear in the woods. As a parent, friend, or Jew, we must remember to act with tzelem Elokim at all times. Standing tall, strong, and with self-respect in the face of difficult family, people, or nations has worked before, and can work again. Just keep calm and face yourself.

2

Maseches Shabbos 89a


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Review TheBook Week In News

NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Find Your Right Direction: The Israel Gap Year Guide by Phyllis Folb (Redwood Publishing 2020, 285 pp.) Reviewed by Devorah Talia Gordon Excitement and sound advice exude from Find Your Right Direction: The Israel Gap Year Guide, written by college counselor and AIGYA founder, Phyllis Folb. Folb developed a passion for the Jewish teen’s gap year in Israel—the year following high school before beginning college—after seeing a couple of disturbing scenarios. In her profession, she saw too many teens either experience burnout by the time they reached college or arrive still unclear about their goals. After witnessing the wonderful experience each of her daughters had during their “gap year” in Israel, Folb realized this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was pivotal. She had to get the word out. “I consid-

ered the experience an investment in her soul. My daughter did not defer her education but began a path of continued learning, self-exploration, and spiritual growth that brought her happiness and direction that has helped her navigate her life.” In 2013, Folb founded the American Israel Gap Year Association (AIGYA), taking on the task to make sure Jewish teens not only have the gap year experience, but flourish during it. She was bursting with information about the programs and has taken her wealth of information and done a tremendous service for students, families, and counselors by creating this treasure trove of a guide. Folb first provides the reader with

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background about why a Jewish student would benefit from a gap year in Israel, including learning about oneself, gaining life experience and, of course, solidifying one’s Jewish identity. Folb writes, “Israel is the only place where Judaism can be fully expressed rather than as a minority religion existing at the margins of another country’s majority religion. Israel is a place where Judaism can be lived.” Rather than being didactic, Folb presents Judaism and the choices one makes in his or her observance as just that—choices to be made. Those choices can be greatly impacted by spending a year away from home, at this time of personal growth and exploration. Another huge benefit of the gap year, writes Folb, is connecting to the Land of Israel, and experiencing Israel firsthand, as opposed to relying on the media reports. In an age where anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are escalating on college campuses, this experience is an important preparation for Jewish students. Folb also outlines the many areas that a student could explore in Israel, given the vast array of industries Israel excels in, from high-tech, to agriculture, to fashion and medicine. The book also discusses options beyond, or in addition to, learning in a classroom setting, such as interning, experiential learning (kibbutz, animal care, agriculture), traveling the country, and volunteering in a wide array of programs. While Folb recommends a full-year experience in a structured program, she also discusses shorter programs, or perhaps doing two programs back to back. The guide also provides multiple pages of worksheets, including a gap year quiz with questions students can ask themselves to help them pick the best program for them and detailed questions to ask gap year program representatives. Throughout the book are insightful quotes from former “gappers” about their experiences.

The bulk of the book is the program guide, where Folb describes more than sixty programs, including co-ed, women’s, and men’s programs, from secular to Orthodox. Each listing has contact information, descriptions/philosophy of program, cost, accommodations, and highlights. The guide is well-organized, jampacked with information, and covers a wide breadth of types of programs available to gappers. When asked about how the Israel gap year programs are responding to COVID-19, Folb said that Israel is one of only four countries that opened for longterm gap year students. “By in large, all of the programs are going above and beyond the call of duty, in spite of the challenges.” Folb said programs are doing as much as they can to make it work, including providing larger living spaces, additional buses, and the like. “The programs are taking the guidelines seriously and doing whatever they can to keep their students comfortable and engaged in productive activities.” Of course, Folb recommends every student and family have a “heart-to-heart” talk with the individual program(s) they are considering, to see what they will be doing to provide a safe environment for their students. “Israelis are tackling it. They care so deeply about the gap year; they know it’s so important for Jewish identity and connection to Israel.” Phyllis Folb is committed to make the gap year not a “goof” year but a “bridge to cross over” to new experiences, a year filled with self-awareness and discovery. A wise first step is for the interested teen to ask herself questions about what inspires her, what she is drawn to—in life, work, and about being Jewish—using this resource for direction and practical advice.


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NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Fulfilling Dreams They Never Dreamed The Story of Kalman and Malki Samuels’ Journey BY SUSAN SCHWAMM

This is a story about a man and his journey through life. It’s a story about his wife and her determination to give to others. It’s a story about a sweet boy facing and overcoming immense challenges. It’s a story about hundreds of children with disabilities whose lives are brightened each day. It’s a story of hope. A story of pain and perseverance. A story of challenges and courage. A story about dreams dreamed and dreams fulfilled. The beautiful Shalva building

K

“We came into this as a family. We are leaving as a family.”

alman and Malki Samuels, living in Israel, were the proud parents of two children in October 1977. Malki was expecting their third child when she took their youngest, Yossi, for a vaccination at the baby clinic. Yossi was just shy of his first birthday when he received the DPT shot. What should have been a routine doctor’s visit abruptly changed the family’s course forever. It was mere hours after Yossi received the shot that Malki noticed that something was wrong with her infant. His eyes appeared glassy; he didn’t look well. Malki’s concern prompted her to call the doctor, who waved away her worries and then suggested they give Yossi medication to clear his nasal passages.

A mother’s intuition is not to be ignored. Kalman and Malki knew that their infant was experiencing something abnormal. Aside from his glassy eyes and stuffed nose, Yossi’s movements became jerky. It wasn’t until a few days later that an astute physician made the connection between Yossi’s behavior and the shot he received. “Did this child recently receive a DPT vaccination?” she asked. It took many more doctors’ visits and persistent advocating by Kalman and Malki for them to finally get a diagnosis. The vaccination that Yossi had received was faulty. After six months of administering that vaccine in Israel, the government halted the serum. But the damage was done.

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A few children who had received the vaccination were irreparably damaged and put into a vegetative state. Others had died. Yossi, unfortunately, became blind. His optic nerve became bleached. He would never fully see again. Eventually, Kalman and Malki noticed other abnormalities with their son. Yossi became deaf. He developed encephalitis of the brain and suffered from convulsions. His gait was uncertain, and he was constantly moving and breaking things. Despite his challenges, though, Yossi instinctively knew how to connect with others. He made many friends and developed a sense of humor. And he was also the impetus for his parents to reach out and create a magnificent program for those who face similar challenges.

K

alman’s story begins way before Yossi’s birth. Kenny Alfred Samuels was born in Vancouver to a traditional family. He loved sports and attended Hebrew school in the afternoons after public school. His family would attend synagogue services on Saturday but would park the car a few blocks away out of respect. A trip to Israel during university sidetracked Kenny’s trajectory. During the weeks he spent there – and he went to the Holy Land only because of his mother’s urging – Kenny visited the Kotel. He had never heard of the Temple or the Western Wall, despite years of Hebrew school. Spending Shabbos in Bnei Brak made him cancel his next leg of his journey to France. Spending time in Kfar Chabad tickled something inside of him, and he took the next year off from university to explore that feeling of thirst. “The burden of trying to figure this out intellectually and spiritually was extremely

heavy,” Kalman recalls of his searching at that time. “But I felt that I had to do it for the pinpoint of light I see in the future, that maybe my future generations will be able to enjoy this.” Kalman’s journey led him to luminaries like the Gerrer Rebbe, Reb Noach Weinberg, Rabbi Chaim Brovender, and Rabbi Yitzchok Shlomo Ungar. After intense learning and months of introspection, a world-traveling college kid had become a chassidic-looking, Yiddish-speaking baal teshuva. When Kalman and Malki married, they began their new life together in Israel. Yossi’s diagnosis threw the young family into a tailspin. Desperate for answers, information, and the right services for Yossi, the family eventually moved to New York. During this time, the Samuelses endeavored to force the Israeli government to admit that the vaccination that was administered was faulty. This was, of course, before email and the internet, and the government was extremely reluctant – even obstructive – to admit any wrongdoing. (It took nine years of legal wrangling for the government to finally admit to what went wrong.) After a few years of living in New York, the family moved back to Israel, settling in Har Nof. Finding a school for Yossi was a challenge. He was both blind and deaf and extremely bright. Eventually, a special class was created for Yossi in a school for deaf children. At that point, Yossi was not able to communicate but a special education teacher – who was deaf herself – poured herself into the task of teaching Yossi sign language by signing letters into the palm of his hand and tapping vowels into his wrist. The teacher spent hours tapping into Yossi’s palm until Yossi finally understood what she was doing. The joy

NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

she and the family and Yossi himself experienced at that breakthrough moment was unparalleled. “I remember when she ran out to tell us that he finally understood. It was an unbelievable experience. I remember when he had 10 words and 40 words,” Kalman recalls, “when he had 100 words. It was huge milestones.” Once Yossi mastered signing, he was ready for the next challenge. Another teacher taught Yossi how to speak Hebrew. Initially, she needed to put her fingers into his mouth to teach him how to move his mouth and tongue. He would use his hands to feel her face and neck to feel the vibrations of the sound. It took two painstaking years, but eventually Yossi emerged victorious – he could speak! “He speaks a thousand languages,” Malki would say. And indeed, he did. This young boy instinctively knew how to communicate with all the people met, connecting with them and joking with them. Yossi became famous, meeting Chaim Herzog, the president of Israel. In the media, they referred to Yossi as the “Helen Keller of Israel.” Although Yossi was making strides, Malki wasn’t content with basking in her nachas. Years before, in New York, Malki had made a “deal” with G-d: If You help my Yossi, I will dedicate my life to helping other mothers of children with disabilities. Now, she said, it was “payback time.” Malki’s vision was borne of compassion and concern for fellow mothers. She would “break down and cry” when she saw the disabled children in her neighborhood or their mothers struggling with them. She also understood – from experience – that a family with a child with challenges has specific needs

A fun day at Shalva

Kalman and Yossi at the White House with then-President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in December 2006

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OCTOBER 29, 2015 Jewish Home NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The| The Jewish Home

Aquatherapy and fun for mother and child

that weren’t being addressed at the time. First and foremost, caring for a special needs child is a full-time job. But many families have other children at home, and they need to divide their attention amongst all the children whom they love. As such, Malki envisioned a center that would provide after-school programs and therapy for challenged individuals. This way, parents can focus on their typical children during that time, and the special needs child would be enjoying his or her time at a program designed specifically for him or her. Additionally, this center would give the family time to lead a more “normal” life. Taking care of a challenged child is all-encompassing. During the time that the challenged child would be at the center, his or her family would be able to spend time doing things that other families do – going to the movies together, eating out at a restaurant, even taking leisurely walks at night. When Kalman heard of Malki’s dream, he understood that there was a need to get a program like this off the ground. But, he told her, it would be impossible for him to raise the funds while working full-time and caring for his family. Malki, though, was adamant. This project was something that needed to happen.

O

A proud chef with his freshly baked goods

n Sunday, June 10, 1990, Shalva opened its doors for the first time. It was housed in an apartment in Har Nof and provided an after-school program for six children. It was a labor of love. Malki would pick up the children from their homes, care for them, and feed them dinner before dropping them back off at their homes. Life, of course, was hectic for the Samuels family. But

Malki told Kalman to keep his eye on the ball. She gave him a photo of a herd of horses galloping – pointing out that he’s the lead horse and the other horses, the Shalva children, are the ones racing behind him. “You must understand that whenever you speak to someone about Shalva, you are not alone,” she said. “The Shalva children are always there with you.” Kalman kept that image in mind when he fundraised for the organization. The Samuels children would spend their afternoons at Shalva helping with the children. Nechama, their oldest daughter, would read to a paralyzed girl while embracing her. Their son, Avi, would sing and play his guitar for the children. Neighborhood children would drop in to volunteer. Shalva was a happy place – a fun place for children and volunteers alike. But Malki wasn’t content with what she was offering. When summer came, Malki envisioned a sleepaway camp for the children, and so they set off to a kibbutz for a week, to enjoy the outdoors and to give their families an added respite. As word spread about the magic of Shalva, school buses would drop the children off after school. And the programs kept expanding. Malki started an overnight program for the children in which different groups of children would stay overnight one night a week. This way, the children would gain social skills and their families would have respite for two days and one night. Word of Shalva and the work they were doing spread. Eventually, Shalva needed to move into a larger space. In Shalva-Beit Nachshon – named after Nachshon Wachsman, Hy”d, whose brother, Raphael, went to Shalva – Malki worked to

ensure that the center remained a “home” and not an institution for the children. Bright colors and warmth enveloped the children each day. There was laughter and games, therapy and fun. But something was bothering Malki. The center wasn’t being used in the mornings, and she suggested that they invite mothers who recently gave birth to children with cognitive disabilities to meet other mothers and receive five different therapies for their babies in the mornings. Loneliness for those who give birth to children with challenges is the most devastating feeling, Malki maintained. She envisioned a program for mothers to see that they’re not alone and to connect with others in their same situation. They’re also taught via therapy how to best help their children. One mother with a son with challenges wrote that the Me and My Mommy program helped her to love her new baby. “I was completely shattered when my son was born. He was my first child, and it was so unexpected. I couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t even look at him…. “I remember the moment when everything changed. I was with him in the hydrotherapy pool for the first time, and I suddenly had a rush of feeling toward the baby I was coddling in the water. I understood: you are my son and I love you.”

S

ince 2017, Shalva has been located in its newest location with a full-size gymnasium, two pools, and a three-story atrium. A thousand children are taken care of each day at the 220,000-square-foot center. Light fills the hallways, and murals and mosaics dot the walls of its 12 floors. Café Shalva is open to the public; young people with disabil-

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Feature The Week In News

ities help to run the restaurant. Shalva children and young adults prepare Shalva Teas, a gift box of special teas sold throughout the country. At the grand opening of the new center, the Shalva Band entertained the entourage. There are programs at Shalva around the clock, starting with the Me and My Mommy in the mornings. Shalva, says Kalman, “is all about the family.” It’s a family comprised of people from all walks of life – from the ultra-Orthodox to the secular. One woman flew in from Eilat each week for her Me and My Mommy session last year. When asked why she spent the past few months flying back and forth, she told Kalman, “You don’t understand. This is not a burden to me. This is my oxygen.” Children ages one to three attend a six-day a week early childhood program. Once they graduate from there, they’re ready for Shalva’s four-to-six-year-old preschool. The preschool program has parallel classes for children who do not have disabilities, a model of inclusion for the children that is “working wonders.” Kalman quips that Shalva is one of the biggest supporters of Torah because many of Shalva’s students come from religious families. “Many of them are people sitting and learning, whether it be in this yeshiva or

that yeshiva or in the Kollel,” Kalman says. “They’re rabbanim, dayanim. And many of them have said, ‘We’re only able to do what we do because of the fact that our child is cared for until 6:30 at night. Otherwise, I would never be able to sit and learn.’” It’s not just the parents that are tended to by Shalva. The center has programs for children whose siblings are disabled. For many families, when a child is born with disabilities, the mother is no longer able to give her full attention to the other children. One teenager in a session told the therapist, “We used to be family of six. When Mommy gave birth to a baby with disabilities, we become a family of one. All of a sudden, no one else counted.” The pain and the loneliness, the questions and the shame – all these thoughts swirling around youngsters’ heads are addressed. The programs at Shalva no longer end at age 21. Now, Shalva offers group apartments for those with disabilities who are older. There is vocational training, too, for those who want to learn a trade.

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erhaps the most famous of Shalva’s programs is the Shalva Band. Comprised of Shalva members and two singers who are blind, the Shalva Band made headlines during the Eurovision, when they refused to play on Shabbos despite their popularity. Asked about how they had the strength to walk away from the fame and fortune that could have come from winning at Eurovision, Anael, one of the singers, said, “Look, we saw bright lights. It could have been confusing,” asserting, “We did not allow ourselves to get confused.”

NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

Another band member noted, “We came into this as a family. We are leaving as a family.” Before coronavirus, the band played professionally a few times a week. When they performed on Rising Star, Israel’s version of America’s Got Talent, they received a resounding 91 on the show’s thermometer. Yair, one of the band members, spontaneously walked off the stage to give a hug to the judges. The crowd and the judges broke down emotionally at the beauty and purity of their music. The night before their performance, Kalman sat down with the Shalva members at the Shalva Café. “Whatever happens tomorrow,” he told them, “you’ve already won. You’re on a national stage – people with disabilities on a national stage. Whether you actually win tomorrow night or you don’t, it’s irrelevant. You’ve already won.”

Kalman with his son, Yossi

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arlier this year, Kalman’s book, Dreams Never Dreamed, was published. In it, he pens his journey and thoughts and brings the reader along with him on his voyage through life. Living in Vancouver, eating cheeseburgers and playing sports, little Kenny would never have dreamed that he would be bringing up a vibrant, religious family in the Holy Land. He and Malki would never have dreamed that their young son would be forced to endure and persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. And little could they have known that Malki’s vision of providing succor and solace to those with disabilities would evolve into a small, vibrant city in the center of Jerusalem where thousands of children grow, laugh, and play each day.

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“I suddenly had a rush of feeling toward the baby I was coddling in the water. I understood: you are my son and I love you.”


NOVEMBER 19, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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DECEMBER 17-20, 2020 ONE COMMUNITY • ONE TORAH

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