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The Week In News

APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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Dear Readers, First of all, wishes for a refuah sheleimah to all those who need it. May Hashem ease the pain of all those suffering with the coming of Mashiach now. What a two weeks it has been. Everyone is at home here, and there’s no definite end in sight. Bunkering up with a group of human beings with nowhere to go offers a heavy dose of humility. Truthfully, I thought it would be worse. In a non-wished-for way, it forced me to see the personality of each individual, each one with their tastes, habits, good character traits and not such great ones. I better understand their disappointments, anxieties, and dreams. Other people are alone, with fewer distractions. It must be extremely difficult to say the least. This has really forced us all to recognize the individuality of each and every one of us, beginning with ourselves. Who are we? What do we believe? What do we hope for? Adding in ahavas Yisrael is probably the best spiritual antidote we can do right now. Practice being more tolerant of our family members’ idiosyncrasies. Learn with a child we don’t always have patience for. Play a board game. Give a random hug and say, “You’re special.” Phone a person who is alone to schmooze or just check-in. If we were put in this situation, then we should maximize it to strengthen human bonds. Each of us bettering ourselves, polishing the family unit, giving a helping hand to those we can help—these acts will surely add much light and tip the scales of judgment to the side of righteousness, bringing redemption and healing to each of us as well as the world at large. “In Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nissan we will be redeemed again.” (RH 11a) Wishing you a happy, healthy, and—as much as possible—joyous Zeman Cheirusenu,

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


APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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The Week In News Press Release

APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

COVID-19: An Important Message from United Refuah HealthShare As the world deals with the outbreak of the coronavirus (R”L) United Refuah HealthShare, the first and only Jewish healthcare sharing or-

ganization, is working tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of their members, Klal Yisrael, and the world as a whole.

Our team is constantly monitoring guidelines put out by the CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World

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Health Organization.) Here are the current recommendations: Know the symptoms. Symptoms of coronavirus include but are not limited to: ● Coughing/respiratory problems ● Fever ● Shortness of breath ● Body aches ● Runny nose/congestion ● Sore throat. It’s important to note that people with decreased immunity, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or women who are pregnant may experience more severe symptoms and are at a higher risk of Coronavirus complications. If you feel something, say something. If you are exhibiting any of the symptoms of the virus (see above), we recommend utilizing tools such as TeleMedicine, as it is the safer option, preferable to visiting a doctor’s office or urgent care facility in person. For our members, we encourage taking advantage of TeleRefuah, our 24/hour TeleMedicine platform. As always, services are fully shareable without any PreShare or CoShare responsibility. If instructed to proceed with testing, there are many free testing resources available nationwide for uninsured individuals. Prevention: Although there are no current vaccines available, there are steps you can take to keep yourself and your family safe. ● Handwashing: You do not need antibacterial soap to prevent transmission! Take your time and spend 20 seconds washing your hands. ● Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Although this can be difficult, it has been proven highly effective in reducing the spread of viruses. ● Of course, government recommendations as it applies to social distancing should not be ignored. It is the only way to stop the spread of disease. Let us take a deep breath and remember that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is constantly supervising us. Let’s use this time to be grateful and thankful to Hashem at every moment. If you haven’t yet adopted this practice, reciting blessings over food aloud is a sure way to say thanks to Hashem. Modeh Ani, the first prayer of the day, is a daily reminder that we are in good hands, safe and secure and it’s just 12 words. Concentrate: Modeh ani: I, the creation, fully acknowledge lefanecha: You the Planner, the Provider, the Perfection Melech chai vekayam: are actively present, leading us in real-time… ...rabba emunasecha: Your faith in me, and my faith in You, will together pull us through! May we only hear simchos and besuros tovos in the coming days. United Refuah HealthShare is not an insurance company and does not offer insurance. It is a thriving community of like-minded people who share medical expenses with one another, all based on Torah-true principles and values, with thousands of active members across the U.S. Learn more at UnitedRefuahHS.org.


The Week In News

APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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Torah Musings The Week In News

APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Fix Your Focus Sarah Pachter

Not too long ago, my husband and I were privileged to celebrate our eldest son’s bar mitzvah. We were going through the pictures from the photographer afterwards and stopped on one shot of the women dancing. At first, it all looked like a blur—as most dancing pictures do!— and then I noticed something in the background that seemed to spoil the photo. Clearly, that photo wasn’t a “keeper.” To my surprise, my husband loved the photo. He had zoomed in on the moment taking place in the middle of the chaos: my mother-in-law embracing me in a warm, loving hug. If you focused on that central piece, with all the affection of a perfect moment captured so beautifully, it became easy to forget the surrounding imperfections. So often with parenting (and in life!), it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-

day chaos and road bumps. Raising children is not for the faint of heart. There are countless moments of frustration, endless demands for snacks and toys. At the end of the day, we are meant to keep our cool and actually enjoy these precious years! It seems overwhelming, but by adjusting our lens and zooming in or out of the picture, we can capture the real essence of what it means to be a parent and focus on the moments that really matter. Passing the Test Ugh, homework! I’ve had that reaction, and I’ve seen it in other parents, too. We sit down to help our children with homework (read: homeschool). We begin each session determined to stay calm; yet shortly after starting, our patience ebbs until we—and our children—feel frustrated, at best, and explosive, at worst. Our child may become irritated from a lack of understanding. They snap, and we reciprocate. We vacillate between wondering if the teachers are doing their jobs and worrying that our child will never be able to complete a homework assignment independently. On one occasion when helping my son

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study, my decibel levels rose higher than I’m proud of, and I had an insight: Who is testing who? I stopped my overreaction immediately and pondered the root of my homework-related distress. We think the ikar is our child’s upcoming test, but we are also being tested. Hashem is testing our patience, relationship, and middot. Are we testing our child? Yes. Is Hashem testing His child? Certainly. We worry about whether our children will pass their classes, but are we passing the test of raising them? Ultimately, the only test that matters is the one we actually have control over—our own. “Hi, Honey! Look Here!” Every year at graduation, hoards of family members come to support students as they move towards the next stage of life. Whether completing kindergarten or graduate school, the excitement is palpable. Parents often have their phones out, prepared to record and take photos. At my child’s kindergarten graduation, the five-year-olds proudly marched onto the stage in cap and gown. The parent body immediately stood, trying to get a glimpse of their children walking onstage. As soon as they spotted their child, they began to wave frantically while recording and snapping pictures as though a celebrity had just walked through the door of the amphitheater. You could hear the parent body shouting: “Look here, honey!” “Chani! Chani!” “We’re over here! Hi!” Although this scene is a beautiful illustration of the love and pride that we all express towards our children, it got me thinking. Are we that animated and loving when our family walks through the door of our home on a “normal” day? Are we as excited to experience them in daily life? At graduation, we practically trample one another to catch a photo of our child, but in our homes just hours later, with unobstructed access to them, our enthusiasm dwindles. If we can be more present with our children in minor moments, we will experience a deeper joy during major milestones, such as graduation day. Children need our constant love and attention, not just from a distance or on special occasions, but in the daily grind as well. Bring joy and love into the everyday. Don’t Fight the Call Sitting in the back of the bleachers, I was watching my son’s middle school basketball game. I had a panoramic scope of the court, and the players appeared even smaller from up high. Mid-game, the referee called a foul that sent one of the players into a rage. He argued over the call and flared his arms wildly. The referee retaliated by threatening a technical foul. From the upper level

of the bleachers, it was almost comical to see such a tiny person react with so much intensity over something so trivial. Yet, for a middle schooler, a perceived bad call can create major frustration. Moreover, the call could change the trajectory of a game, creating even more anger for the player. Life can be compared to playing basketball. When certain events or circumstances play out, in the moment we can feel a wide range of intense emotions, but if we could zoom out to the spectator’s perspective, it would shed light on the triviality of some situations. The best approach for a basketball player and life player is to move forward from a bad call, rather than fight it. Yitzi Hurwitz, a young rabbi and father of six who is suffering from ALS, stresses the importance of not fighting Hashem’s plan for us. With his limited physical capacity (he is only able to move one eye), he wrote a speech that was shared in his name by his son at Chabad’s annual convention, an event boasting 5800 people. One thing I have learned from my experience is that there is hardly a person who doesn’t have struggles...In my case, it’s open and impossible to hide, so I am on display. But that doesn’t mean that your struggles are any less. You need to know that whatever you are dealing with, it’s directly from Hashem. You don’t have to fight it, rather, you should find a way for your struggle to take you to the next level…use your difficulty to lift you and your family to heights previously unimaginable, and even more, to use your difficulties as a platform to lift others up. Accept the bad calls in life and keep playing your best, despite the circumstances. If Yitzi Hurwitz can maintain this perspective, then surely we can as well. Shift your focus to a spectator’s perspective to move forward in a positive direction. Learn to Block Out Bedtime Battles Commonly referred to as “witching hour,” the few hours between dinner and bedtime can be a challenge for parents everywhere. The kids are cranky and tired after a long day, and it’s easy for parents to get annoyed at the request of “one more book” or “five more minutes of TV”. One afternoon the other day was particularly grueling. My son was having a rough time with homework (see above), my daughter was unhappy with the dinner options, and it felt like bedtime would never end. I was ready to rush through yet another reading of The Berenstein Bears when my toddler reached out to touch my cheek. “I love you, Mommy. Can I have a hug?” Those sweet words and her affectionate gesture amidst a difficult afternoon seemed to melt my frustrations away. Rather than focus on the momentary, peripheral annoyances and negative thoughts, zoom in on the moments that matter and choose those to be the focus.


The Week In News

APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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Book Review The Week In News

APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Finding Ourselves in the Crowd: What 18 Out-of-the-Box Jews Can Teach Us About Individuality in Orthodoxy by Gila Manolson

(distributed by Feldheim Publishers 2020)

Reviewed by Rebecca Klempner Gila Manolson, author of best-selling books The Magic Touch and Outside/Inside, has a new book out: Finding Ourselves in the Crowd: What 18 Outof-the-Box Jews Can Teach Us About Individuality in Orthodoxy. Like the other two, it’s sure to be a conversation starter. With approbations from Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz and Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, Manolson explores the paths taken by Jews whose professions, life choices, or causes raised eyebrows in the community, yet who stayed firmly on the path of what we call “Torah Judaism.” As Rabbi Breitowitz points out, it’s virtually impossible for any reader to agree with every person profiled here. (I winced a couple of times, just as I cheered on many of the other people in the book.) Nonetheless, their life stories tell us a lot about how to identify our tafkid, our unique role in life, and how to negotiate barriers in the observant world. Some of these have more

to do with culture and custom than Torah law, but learning to work around them is necessary for anyone who wants to stay in the community. The individuals profiled include some relatively famous trailblazers like Rabbi Natan Slifkin (“The Zoo Rabbi”) and Ann Koffsky (an author/illustrator who advocates for women’s images in Jewish media) as well as less famous ones. The latter includes the subjects of the two chapters which moved me the most: Dr. Rachel Levmore, the author of Spare Your Eyes Tears and the creator of the Israeli version of the halachic prenuptial agreement, describing her path to Talmud study and advocacy for agunos; and “Dr. Devorah Horowitz,” a Chassidishe psychologist who specializes in abuse-related trauma. In a line drawn from the words of the Piaseczner Rebbe, Manolson urges readers, “Are you a unique individual or just part of the human race? Differentiate. Re-

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veal what makes you special. Become a person who chooses, and serve Hashem.” To accomplish this, Manolson and her subjects urge Jews not only to delve into their more unusual drives and talents, but to get guidance from teachers and rebbeim who know us well to ensure we don’t truly leave the path of Torah. The message of Finding Ourselves in the Crowd could not be more timely. Dr. Miriam Leah Gamliel, an arts activist in the Orthodox world, recently published an article in Editage (Feb. 18, 2020) based on her dissertation research. In it, she writes that many of the artists she interviewed as part of her project who were born Orthodox left the Orthodox world when they were told their creativity had no place in the community. Finding ways to include “out-of-thebox” thinkers in our Orthodox communities doesn’t just give us music we like to listen to and museums we like to visit.

It feeds the souls of our fellow Jews and keeps our community whole. Manolson’s book can therefore not only serve as a guide for the “creative types” among us, but a reminder of what we can lose if we don’t make space for them.


The Week In News

APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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Feature 29, | The Jewish Home TheOCTOBER Week In2015 News

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APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

WHEN THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

SELF-QUARANTINED FOR THE SEDER By Rabbi Pini Dunner

O

ne of the issues that has been coming up again and again in the past week during phone calls I have been having with my community, and with others from further afield, is the fact that people will be on their own for the Seder this year, or their Seder will be drastically reduced in numbers, with children or parents elsewhere, all isolated in the midst of the current coronavirus social-distancing self-quarantine situation which is so important to prevent the spread of the disease. Some people will literally be by themselves, solitary, with no one to do the Seder with at all. “How can we do Seder by ourselves?” they ask me. “Doesn’t the Pesach Seder need to be done with family and guests?” I have thought about this a lot, and would like to address everyone’s concerns by sharing an extraordinary conversation with you that I had about eighteen months ago.

I

just happened to be in New York at the time, and a friend of mine messaged me that his daughter had

become engaged. I texted him back that I was around and would be able to attend the engagement party, and that night I drove to Monsey to celebrate the simcha. While I was at the party, I bumped into a friend of mine, Rabbi YY Jacobson, a well-known inspirational speaker on the East Coast. I knew that Rabbi Jacobson grew up on Montgomery Street in Crown Heights, in the heart of the Chabad community, just a few blocks away from the home of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe. There is an aspect of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe’s life that I feel is often overlooked, and we got to talking about it. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was incredibly down-to-earth, and, together with his late wife Rebbetzen Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe led a very simple life. Indeed, as hard as it may be to believe, their life together was very private. Rabbi Jacobson often tells stories about the Rebbe when he speaks to audiences, so I asked him if he ever focuses on this particular aspect of the Rebbe’s greatness. Namely that the Lubavitcher Rebbe had no airs and graces at all, nor was he interested in

the pomp and ceremony that is often the hallmark of other Hasidic leaders and “courts.” “For example,” I asked Rabbi Jacobson, “do you ever tell audiences that in their sixty years of marriage, the Rebbe and his wife ate every Shabbos meal together on their own? No guests, no attendants, no public spectacle… just a married couple eating together – bringing the food in, eating, clearing the table, doing the washing up. A man who had literally tens of thousands of people at his beck-and-call! What a powerful lesson!” Rabbi Jacobson paused for a moment, and then he smiled. “I’ve got one better for you,” he said. “A few weeks ago, I led a workshop for single mothers, and at the end of the session, I took questions from the women and encouraged them to ask any question that was on their mind. One of the ladies put her hand up, and this is what she asked me… it’s a crazy story.” “A few months ago,” she said, “it was Pesach. The thing is, my ex-husband and I went through a very difficult breakup. After years in court over our kids, we finally settled on a shared

custody arrangement, which means that we alternate Jewish holidays. This past Pesach it was my turn – my children were coming to me for Seder, and I was so excited. I changed over my home for Pesach and prepared everything beautifully; it was going to be just me and the kids.” “I was so happy about them being with me that I told everyone: my family, my friends, my neighbors. Then, one hour before yom tov, I got a phone call from my ex – for some reason, the kids were not going to be coming. I almost fainted from shock and heartache. I was also so ashamed. I guess I could have called my parents, or I could have called my neighbors – and gone to them for the Seder. But how could I actually do that? I had told everyone my kids were coming! Truth is, I did not have the energy to even be with anyone. I felt completely and totally numb – dry and lifeless.” “So I did the Seder by myself. On my own. It was the worst and most bitter Seder I have ever had. I just sat there crying the whole way through. Weeping. It wasn’t Pesach. It was Tisha B’Av. I did not have to eat marror.


The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

Feature The Week In News

APRIL 2, 2020 | The Jewish Home

I – my entire life! – was marror. Yes, I went through the Haggadah and ate the matzah but the entire Seder took me 25 minutes.” “Rabbi Jacobson, did I do the right thing? Did I fulfil my Seder obligation? Was it even called a Seder? Because it did not feel like a proper Pesach.” Rabbi Jacobson told me – and believe me, as a public speaker, I know exactly what he means – sometimes your most inspirational moments in a speech are not prepared. They are a gift from G-d. You can prepare for hours. And then inspiration drops into your lap. Right then and there, Rabbi YY Jacobson had such a moment. “Lady,” he said, “in 1988 the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s wife died, and he was left on his own, as they sadly had no children. She passed away in February, and two months later was Pesach. Every year, the Rebbe and his Rebbetzen had Seder together, but this year he was on his own, totally by himself. Who would the Rebbe conduct the Passover Seder with?” “I recall that a young boy, Ari Halberstam -- who was later tragically gunned down on Brooklyn Bridge, in 1994 –approached the Rebbe after Maariv on the first night of Pesach and, on behalf of his mother, invited the Rebbe to his home for Seder. Ari’s family lived at 706 Eastern Parkway, just one block away from 770. The Rebbe smiled at Ari, and shook his head. He thanked him profusely, but told Ari he would be having the Seder in his private office in 770.” “I was a yeshiva student at the time,” continued Rabbi Jacobson, “so I am a firsthand witness to this story. In fact, the Rebbe’s longstanding assistant Rabbi Leibel Groner offered to stay with the Rebbe, but the Rebbe sent him home to have Seder with his wife and children.” “And so, the great Lubavitcher Rebbe – the man who inspired countless people around the world for their Seders, who personally undertook to provide a meaningful Pesach Seder for Israeli Army personnel who were on duty on the first night of Pesach via his shluchim in Eretz Yisrael – had the Seder on his own. Not one other person was present. As the Talmud says: if you are on your own, you ask yourself the ‘Ma Nishtana’ questions, and then you answer them to yourself.”

“A few of us yeshiva boys did not go home that night; we waited outside in the street – and after a couple of hours, the Rebbe opened the door to welcome Eliyahu Hanavi and recite Shefoch Chamascha. He walked outside holding a candle and

O

ver the past couple of weeks, as the coronavirus crisis has unfolded across the world, and the reality of our isolated situations has become ever more evident – this incredible and very moving story about the Lubavitcher Rebbe has been

“He walked outside holding a candle and his Haggadah, said the prayer, gave us a wave, and then went back inside to finish the Seder — by himself.”

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diminished, and anxiety will be hovering in the air. And all of us will be thinking to ourselves: is this really a proper Seder? I think Rabbi Jacobson’s story about the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1988 answers that question, and it eases any doubts we may have about our impending “depleted” experience. After all, “if it was good enough for the Lubavitcher Rebbe to have the Seder on his own, trust me, your Seder is going to be just perfect!”

Rabbi Pini Dunner is the senior rabbi of Beverly Hills Synagogue in California. With many thanks to Rabbi YY Jacobson, who was kind enough to check through a draft of this article to ensure accuracy; wishing a refuah sheleima to Rabbi Leibel

his Haggadah, said the prayer, gave us a wave, and then went back inside to finish the Seder – by himself.” “My dear lady,” said Rabbi Jacobson, “if it was good enough for the Lubavitcher Rebbe to have the Seder on his own, trust me, your Seder was perfect!” “He could have had his Seder with 100 people, 1,000 people, or 10,000 people. He personally arranged for all the army Seders in Israel to be sponsored. He was responsible for hundreds of thousands of people celebrating Pesach on Seder night, from Kathmandu to Alaska, from San Francisco to New Zealand. But at the end of the day, he went and did the Seder on his own. He didn’t need anyone else to be close to G-d. He didn’t need adulation. He didn’t need validation. He sat alone and relived the Exodus from Egypt.” “I was only 15 at the time,” concluded Rabbi Jacobson, “but despite my youth, I felt sad that the Rebbe had nobody to be with for the Seder. Why did he not invite even one person to be with him? But today, after hearing your story, I may have discovered the answer—and it is just a personal feeling. As a true Jewish leader, the Rebbe wished to empower all those souls who would ever need to do their Seder alone. He wanted them to know that their solitary Passover Seder was powerful, meaningful, and real. Jewish history and the Divine presence would dwell at their Seder just as it does at a Seder that has many people there.”

at the forefront of my mind. This year, so many people – probably more people than at any other time in Jewish history – will be having the Seder on their own or without their families. All of our Seders will be

Groner, and also to Ari Halberstam’s sister who needs a refuah from the coronavirus – may Ari’s concern for the Rebbe that Pesach in 1988 be a zechus for her speedy recovery (Chanie Apfelbaum aka Busy In Brooklyn).

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IN HISTORY AND IN HEALTH, WE CELEBRATE FREEDOM. What began as a quest for freedom in Egypt continues in our mission to triumph over illness. Today, over 1,100 researchers at Cedars-Sinai work tirelessly on new cures, while our dedicated doctors, nurses and staff members provide healing The statue of Moses located on Cedars-Sinai’s main campus.

and comfort to all who enter through our doors. Just as we

triumphed over slavery thousands of years ago, our work will not cease until we have made disease part of history as well. Cedars-Sinai would like to wish you a happy, healthy Passover.

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Profile for Jewish Home LA

Jewish Home LA - 4-2-20  

Jewish Home LA - 4-2-20

Jewish Home LA - 4-2-20  

Jewish Home LA - 4-2-20