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In News

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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The Week In News

CONTENTS COMMUNITY

Community Happenings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

JEWISH THOUGHT

Living with the Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Torah Musings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 The Weekly Daf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

FEATURE

Portrait of Hope. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

LIFESTYLES

Humor: Spoilers Ahead. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Book Review: 180 Degrees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Emotional Health. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Michael J. Weinstein, Author of the New Book, Ten Times Chai. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

NEWS

Global. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 The Jewish Home is distributed bi-weekly to: ANAHEIM AGOURA HILLS BEVERLY HILLS BURBANK CALABASAS CAMARILLO COSTA MESA ENCINO GLENDALE HUNTINGON BEACH IRVINE LONG BEACH LOS ANGELES -BEVERLY HILLS

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JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Dear Readers, Many articles have been written trying to make sense of the spontaneous and raw outburst of joy following my uncle, Sholom Rubashkin’s, release. Each explains a specific angle: • The power of emunah and tefillah • The collective response to when one Jew is singled out for selective treatment • The power unity brings. While these are all true, I think the outpouring of excitement expressed something more fundamental. Deep inside, each one of us is a child – an uncomplicated, positive, and believing soul. It doesn’t take much to be happy. With time this kernel of purity gets covered in cynicism. Emotional challenges, disappointments, spreadsheets, and deadlines box us in as we morph into human beings honed to deliver services. Suddenly, with a Whatsapp message or phone call, we had an excuse to celebrate. We used his freedom to break free of our own constraints, be they sadness, anger, or jealousy. The neighbor who gets on our nerves or the bad habits of our relative – they are no longer significant. Now was a time for celebration.

And what a celebration it was. Dancing with unfettered joy, locked arm-in-arm with Jews I had never seen before, was an experience unlike any other. Mainly, its challenges or sad events that lift us out of the daily grind and bring us together. We were finally able to do so through joy and celebration. Here was a man who spent eight (!) years in a place meant to turn people into numbers, yet he retained his humanity. If he could do it, then so can we. He ultimately went free, and so will we. We’re told the coming redemption will be a mixture of nature and the supernatural. This may have been a taste of it. A supernatural joy, but experienced in this world. We were the same people, but with ignited souls. When the King of kings finally uses the stroke of His pen to commute our collective sentence in the current exile, nothing fundamentally new will happen. We will be the same Chaim, Esther, Eli, and Sara, but with a soul on fire. There’s nothing more natural, nay supernatural, than that. Wishing you an enjoyable miracle of 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

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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TheHappenings Week In News

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

LINK Kollel Holds Yarchei Kallah With Rabbi Yosef Kushner

The LINK Kollel in Los Angeles hosted a two-day yarchei kallah on December 31st and January 1st, with the well-known posek, Rav Yosef Kushner of Lakewood, New Jersey. The subject of the yarchei kallah was “Engaging in Commerce with Non-Kosher Food (Ma’achalos Asuros).” Over 100 people participated in the program. The program consisted of the avreichim learning b’chavrusa with baal habattim each day in preparation for the shiurim given by Rav Kushner. Rav Kushner, a son-inlaw of the renowned posek and rosh kollel, HaRav Shlomo Miller,

is the author of the ground-breaking work Commerce on Shabbos and is a member of the Bais Horaah in Lakewood, New Jersey. His presentations were heralded by the participants for their clarity and for his engaging style that kept everyone riveted to the edge of their seats. He is in the process of writing a

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sefer on this much-misunderstood subject. While many Torah Jews are aware of the prohibition of getting benefit from the mixture of milk and meat (bassar b’chalav), many are unaware of a separate prohibition in the Shulchan Aruch of doing business with non-kosher food. Rav Kushner provided booklets with extensive sources for the attendees to use to prepare for each day’s shiur. They consisted of a wide range of m’koros – starting from the Mishnah straight through to contemporary poskim – that delineated the nature of the prohibition. In his brilliant shiurim, Rav Kushner then explained the parameters of this prohibition. In particular, he strove to clarify the definition of “doing business.” For example, is giving a gift to the mailman or to a prospective client considered doing business? Is saving money by serving non-kosher food to gentile patients in a nursing home an example of doing business? What about investing in companies that have non-kosher food products as part of their portfolio? What about providing lunch from a non-kosher takeout place for one’s gentile employees in order to maximize their efficiency on the job? Another major variable that Rav Kushner endeavored to clarify was the nature of the Gemara’s leniency of nizdamen. For example, this would refer to a fisherman who sets up his net in an area where mostly kosher fish predominate, yet a few non-kosher fish get caught in its web. Chazal say that one can do

business with the non-kosher fish caught in this manner since it was only incidental to the kosher fish that he was trying to catch. This would apply today to such things as purchasing a trailer-load of closedout or returned items from a supermarket that predominantly contains kosher food. It could also be appli-

cable to investors in hedge funds where a minority of the items in the portfolio might contain non-kosher food. One of the issues that he dealt with was: Does the heter of nizdamen mean that the non-kosher items can only be sold as part of a package with the more numerous kosher items or can they even be sold separately by the Jewish businessman? The audience engaged in a lively give-and-take with Rav Kushner during the shiurim, as well as for a lengthy Q &A period after the shiurim had concluded. Many of them were businessmen who had never realized the full extent of how this prohibition impacted their relationship with their gentile employees or patients and were very grateful to Rav Kushner for the clarity and cogency of his presentation.


JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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Living with the Times The Week In News

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Charge Your Spirit

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

“Velo shomu el Moshe mikotzer ruach umei’avodah kashah” (Shemos 6:9). The Jews in Mitzrayim refused to listen to the comforting words of Moshe. Try to imagine the scene. Moshe Rabbeinu was tending to his flock in the wilderness, when he beheld the extraordinary sight of a bush aflame. He paused to consider what was transpiring, as he wondered how it could be that the fire was burning but the bush wasn’t being consumed. Like his ancestor Avrohom Avinu, who studied the world and concluded that it could not have come into being by itself, as the Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 39:1) relates, Moshe perceived that the Creator was announcing His Presence through the bush. He recognized that what he was seeing was a defining moment in his life. While Moshe was standing at the bush, the Ribbono Shel Olam addressed him, stating that he was selected for a lofty mission, with a mandate to save His people. Exultant, following his long conversation with Hashem and bearing the knowledge that the painful enslavement would soon end, Moshe went to share the good news with his brethren, who had been suffering for as long as any of them could remember. He stood before them and spoke words that they had been waiting to hear: “Higia zeman geulaschem - The time of your redemption has arrived.” Tragically, almost unbelievably, the enslaved heirs of the avos to whom Hashem had previously appeared didn’t listen. “Velo shomu el Moshe mikotzer ruach umei’avodah kashah.” A family consisting of seventy people came to a foreign country due to a hunger in their native land of Eretz Yisroel. They were led at the time by their grandfather, Yaakov, and his twelve sons. Things took a turn for the worse, and as the family grew, they became the subject of increasing hatred. Eventually, they were subjugated as slaves to the king and his people. The slaves knew who they were, where

they had come from, and how they had arrived in that country. They were well aware of the promises Hashem made to their forefathers, Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov. They were certainly encouraged by the fact that Hashem had promised their forebears that while their grandchildren would be tormented by a foreign power, they would then be released. They knew who Moshe Rabbeinu was. They knew his yichus. They knew that he grew up in Paroh’s palace. Incarcerated people are generally des-

tressed person who suffers from shortness of breath. In other words, they didn’t listen to Moshe because of their terrible situation and hard work. The Ramban says that their failure to accept Moshe’s words was not because they didn’t believe in Hashem and Moshe, but because they were in terrible pain kotzer ruach - and feared that Paroh would kill them. Umei’avodah kashah refers to the fact that their supervisors tormented them and didn’t let them pay attention to what was being said. They weren’t given the luxury of a moment’s peace to be able

Wherever a Jew goes, no matter how bleak the landscape ahead, there is always a reason to sing. perate for any glimmer of hope. They trade rumors and stories that give them support and help them think that their freedom is around the corner. As we study this week’s parsha, we wonder why it was that when Moshe appeared and told them that the long-awaited redemption was at hand, and he expressed the four leshonos of geulah, the posuk states that the Jews didn’t listen to him. We wonder how it could be that the suppressed people did not take heed and comfort from Moshe’s message. The posuk says that the reason they didn’t listen to Moshe’s prophecy was “mikotzer ruach umei’avodah kashah.” Rashi explains that the posuk is saying that the enslaved people were like a dis-

to listen. Clear and direct as these explanations are, we still wonder what the people thought about as they dragged their exhausted bodies to their tents each night. Peace of mind or not, didn’t something sink in? Didn’t they wonder about Moshe and what he foretold? When they lay their emaciated bodies down to sleep, didn’t they think that perhaps there was something to Moshe’s prophecy? Why didn’t they give what he said a chance? Maybe, just maybe, there was something to what he had said. Moshe Rabbeinu addressed the Bnei Yisroel with a Divine message of redemption. The four expressions of geulah refer to a physical and spiritual redemption

from the tumah of Mitzrayim. Moshe quoted Hashem saying that he would rescue the Jews and adopt them as his nation. He would take them from the golus of avdus and raise them to the highest levels of kedusha. They couldn’t accept Moshe’s nevuah. Man is blessed with three levels, nefesh, ruach and neshomah. The lowest level is nefesh, which refers to man’s physical attributes. Ruach relates to matters of speech. Neshomah is the highest spiritual level of man. Perhaps we can thus understand the posuk that explains why the Bnei Yisroel were not heartened by Moshe’s prophesy. Their avodah kashah, hard physical labor, caused an inability to listen, as the physicality of nefesh overpowered the spirituality of neshomah, and caused a weakness in the attribute of ruach. Their avodah kashah prevented them from studying Torah and being involved in the spiritual aspects of life. With their spiritual side impoverished, their spiritual ruach was impacted. Their spirit was dead. With no spirit, there is no room for life. When the spirit dies, the body becomes numb. With no spirit, there is neither stirring nor hope. A person who has become enveloped in apathy, depression and despair cannot be reached before having his spirit restored. In order to hear words of tanchumim, and to be able to understand what the novi is telling you and to anticipate freedom, a person has to have ruach. As Rashi says, one who is short of breath cannot accept words of comfort. That shortness is brought about by a deficiency in Torah and avodah (tefillah). This is the explanation of the statement of Chazal that says, “Ein lecha ben chorin ela mi she’oseik baTorah.” The free man is the one who is engrossed in Torah study. One who spends his time learning Torah becomes receptive to freedom, growth and happiness. One who studies Torah is blessed in all his bechinos. To the degree that a person subjugates his nefesh to his neshomah, he is able to gain happiness, pleasure and ruach rechovah. The Mishnah teaches, “Kol halomeid Torah lishmah zocheh ledevorim harbeh - One who learns Torah merits many blessings” (Avos 6). One of the rewards of a lomeid lishmah is “kol ha’olam kulo kedai hu lo.” The literal understanding of the Mishnah is that the entire world was worth being created just for him.


Living withIn theNews Times The Week

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Mitzrayim and redemption, we are enabled to escape our personal prisons and enslavement. Repentance is brought about through acts of charity, fasting and affliction. Ameilus baTorah, intense Torah study, also has the power to cleanse and purify. Shovavim is as good a time as any to add fervor and zeal to our learning. We have to breathe in deeply and fight for each breath, because we are living in an era when ruach is in short supply. We exist in a state of mikotzer ruach. We have to work harder to lift our nefesh, ruach and neshomah to higher and broader levels so that we can breathe easier, safer and longer, meriting the geulas hanefesh and geulas haguf bekarov through Torah. When we learn this week’s parsha and

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read the posuk of “Velo shomu el Moshe mikotzer ruach umei’avodah kashah,” let us ensure that we aren’t guilty of “velo shomu el Moshe.” Moshe’s word is the Torah. It is enduring and binding, and listening to it means keeping our ears tilted to hear the sounds of imminent geulah and open to the besoros tovos that are all around us. Let us not grow so despondent about our situation that we can’t hear and see the good that is prevalent. Let us see the good in all that Hashem does. Let us celebrate the goodness experienced by others and ourselves. Let us look for the good and appreciate it, instead of being cynical and negative. Doing so will cause us to be happier, more productive, and ready for the geulah, may it be bekarov.

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brought about by Hashem, for a higher purpose that we can’t always explain. Torah and mussar keep a person who studies them active, optimistic, energetic and positive. They shape an individual into a mentch, a person who respects others and is worthy of respect himself. The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh (6:9) explains that the reason the Jews in Mitzrayim were not able to listen to Moshe was because they were not bnei Torah. Torah broadens a person’s heart, he says. Had they been bnei Torah, they would have been receptive to Moshe’s message. We, who have been granted the gift of Torah, have no excuse for not being open to hearing the words of the Moshe Rabbeinus of our generation and those who seek to improve our lots and help us prepare ourselves for the geulah. Kotzer ruach is brought about by not learning Torah. Elevating ruach to its highest form by learning Torah doesn’t only add to the power of speech, but enhances every aspect of life. As Dovid Hamelech says, “Toras Hashem temimah meshivas nofesh.” Torah restores the sunken nefesh of the person, as well as his energy and joy. All through the ages, we have been victimized by angry, desperate people. Yet, we have endured. How have we battled back? What is the secret that enables us to remain strong and confident and successful despite having so many enemies and Kalashnikovs aimed at us? Through learning Torah, we lift our spirits. Our neshomah becomes strengthened and overrules the nefesh. As our enemies try to snuff out our ruach, we respond with more chiyus, more energy, and more toil. We cry out in Selichos, “Veruach kodshecha al tikach mimeni - Hashem, please don’t remove Your holy spirit from me.” We can explain that the prayer is also a request that our ruach, spirit, remain holy and blessed, infused with Torah. We seek to merit the brachos of the novi Yeshayahu (59:21), who prophesied, “Ruchi asher alecha udvorai asher samti beficha lo yomushu mipicha umipi zaracha umipi zera zaracha mei’atah ve’ad olam - May that spirit of Hashem that rests upon the lomeid Torah never fade from our mouths, from those of our children, and their children.” We are currently in the teshuvah and growth period known as Shovavim, given its name by the acronym of the parshiyos we lain during this period, from Shemos through Mishpotim. As we read these parshiyos about Klal Yisroel’s descent into

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Darshonim expound on that reward. What type of reward is it for him that the whole world was created for him? To answer that question, they explain the Mishnah to mean that the entire world is “kedai,” worthwhile, to such a person. He enjoys every experience. He lives every moment to its fullest and derives maximum satisfaction from each encounter, because Torah uplifts and expands a person to the point where every moment of life is worth celebrating and taking seriously. Like every posuk in the Torah, this posuk is recorded for posterity to instruct and guide us. The words and their lessons remain relevant for eternity. The tale of the people too washed up to hear the words they had been awaiting for more than two hundred years is relevant to us in our day. Jews live in a state of constant anticipation, always awaiting good news. We all carry a sense of expectancy, viewing the events around us through eyes that look beyond them, our ears listening for the footsteps of the redeemer, whose arrival will signal that our troubles are over. The sun shines brightly, though at times its rays are concealed by clouds. We have to possess the ability to see beyond the clouds to the light and warmth of the sun. Few things are more disturbing than encountering bitter people. Surrounded by opportunity and blessing, they insist on concentrating on the negatives. Such myopic people remain locked in by the inability to see beyond the sadness that envelopes them. They are unable to dream of a better day or of working to achieve lasting accomplishments. They can’t acknowledge greatness in others, nor do they possess the self-confidence to achieve anything themselves. There is so much goodness in our world. There is much to be happy about and proud of, yet too many are consumed by pessimism, concentrating on the bad news and failing to see the entire picture. Why the negativity? Why the constant harping on what is wrong without appreciating the good? The process of learning Torah and avodas hamussar is meant to train us to see the tov. We are to acquire an ayin tovah that allows us to discern the good in what we have and to appreciate the goodness that abounds. In order to be good Jews, we have to be happy with the present and positive about the future. If we aren’t, it is an indication of how much we are lacking in the study of Torah and mussar. We have to know that everything that transpires is

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Torah 2017 inMusings Review The Week In News

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Miracle in a Cab Sarah Pachter

The rumors are true – I gave birth in a cab on the way to the hospital. Ten years have passed, and it is still a favorite topic of conversation at every Shabbat meal I attend, as well as my fifth-grade son’s claim to fame among his friends. I have been blessed to experience the miracle of childbirth four times, but it was my eldest son’s birth, which took place in a cab on the way to the hospital, that truly felt as miraculous as G-d splitting the Red Sea for the Jewish people. It was a cold Shabbat afternoon in January. After waking up from a nap, my husband and I suddenly heard a “popping” sound. It was almost like the cork being pulled from a champagne bottle. Only no one was popping open any champagne just yet – my water had broken!! Since this was my first child, I antici-

pated a long and arduous labor. But after I got up and took a few steps to get dressed for the hospital, I experienced an intense shot of pain. I quickly called my doctor, who told me to get to the hospital immediately, especially as I shouted into the phone in pain as the next contraction hit. Little did I know, I was transitioning to active labor within seconds of our conversation. While all this was taking place, my husband had called the car service company that we had prepaid for in advance, in case I had to go to the hospital on Shabbat. I attempted to get dressed but could barely do so as each contraction left me doubled over in pain (at this point I was fully in active labor). I grabbed the first outfit that I could get my hands on and threw a coat on top. Nothing matched or even

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looked halfway normal, but I couldn’t care less. I began to put my stockings on, but realized midway it was futile. All I could think about was the intense pain I was in. Meanwhile, our car, which we had shoveled the day before, was now snowed in once again. I prayed that the car service we had ordered would arrive quickly. What was normally a two-minute walk from our apartment to the building entrance took me 20 minutes. There I was, in all my glory, crouched over my birthing ball (yes, I brought my birthing ball!) in the center of the apartment complex. From where I was situated, doubled over on the ball, all I could see was my husband’s legs racing to and fro. With the car service nowhere in sight, my husband and I really began to panic, especially because I still had to maneuver myself over to the rotunda where the car service was supposed to pick us up. Thankfully, the custodian of the property helped us. I slowly walked to the rotunda of the property, unsure of our next step. At the exact moment that I arrived at the rotunda, a random car service pulled up and dropped someone else off. We had lived in our building for nine months, and never once had I seen a car service enter the apartment complex. We hopped in and the driver said as clearly as he could in his broken English, “I am not the car service you called!” “Just take us to the hospital!!!” my husband exclaimed. I never saw the driver’s face, but I believe wholeheartedly he was an angel sent from G-d. Sitting in tremendous pain in the backseat with my mother beside me, I remember asking her, “Do you think we will make it to the hospital?” She rubbed my back in a soothing manner and said, “Of course honey, we will definitely make it.” Meanwhile, she mouthed to my husband, “This baby is coming NOW!!” Traffic was heavy that Saturday evening. Yet the driver remained cool as a cucumber. As we got closer, my son started crowning. The baby emerged on 30th and 1st Street – it even states that on my son’s official birth certificate! – exactly one block away from the hospital. If the traffic had been worse or there had been an accident on the bridge, we could have been stuck in that car for hours. And let’s just say, it’s a good thing I couldn’t get my

stockings on back in my apartment! Moments after the baby was born, we pulled into the emergency driveway at NYU. My husband raced out to get a doctor and an entire entourage of about 30 people came out. Just as we pulled up, my own doctor arrived alongside us with perfect timing, ushering us inside to make sure everyone was safe and healthy. My mother gave the cab driver her number and offered to compensate him, but he never called her back – another sign that our mysterious driver was guided by Divine intervention. My entire labor from start to finish lasted just one hour and thirteen minutes from the moment I had my first contraction to the time I was holding my baby in my arms. Upon hearing my story, most people respond with something along the lines of, “Wow, what a horror story!” But although it was traumatic, I never actually viewed it as something horrific. Miraculous? Yes. Horrific? Hardly. After experiencing subsequent births that included infants in the NICU, post-natal transfusions, and near-death experiences, I am even more aware that my first labor was nothing short of a miracle. So much could have potentially gone wrong and didn’t. For that I am eternally grateful. Every detail deserves notice, because each one was a miracle in and of itself. When we hear the words pirsumei nissa, “publicizing the miracle,” we automatically think of Chanukah. However, pirsumei nissa is not just about displaying our Chanukah candles. It’s actually a general mitzvah that extends year-round. If a nes happens to someone, that person has the obligation to share their story with others. The Hebrew word nes means “miracle,” but it also implies a banner or a flag pole. We are meant to create a banner to publicize a miracle when it happens to us. Every time we advertise miracles that take place, we are honoring Hashem’s name and the role He plays in our life. Therefore, any time something miraculous happens, and you share that story (be it an unusual birth, the Maccabees’ victory, or any other life-saving moment), you are fulfilling the mitzvah of pirsumei nissa. It is for that reason that I share this story with you. May we bring the concept of pirsumei nissa into our daily lives, spreading the light of the Chanukah candles long after the holiday has passed.


The Week In News

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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Humor The Week In News

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Humor: Spoilers Ahead Rebecca Klempner

We recently instituted a strict “no spoilers” policy in our home. Since our family doesn’t watch TV or movies – with very, very few exceptions, mostly involving illness or educational material – the focus of our policy is books. No one is allowed to

spill the beans regarding the plot details of any book to anyone else in our home (or in our car) on pain of Mommy shrieking at them like a banshee: “No spoilers! No spoilers!” (A frightening punishment, I know.)

Starting with Harry Potter, and then moving on to Septimus Heap, Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, and The Land of Stories, my children have been tearing through fantasy series one after another. My kids usually read them in order, from

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eldest to youngest, and pass each volume down as they finish them. The trouble is, my eldest developed an infamous habit of spoiling each book for his younger siblings. Deaths, plot twists, and surprise endings were revealed far ahead of time, detracting from the littler ones’ pleasure. Tears were shed; occasionally, fisticuffs were exchanged. At first, my husband didn’t see spoiling as a problem. As a reluctant reader of fiction, he has always been a bit of what author Brandon Sanderson calls “a last pager.” If he can figure out what happened in a novel by skipping to the final chapter, he considers it an efficient use of time, not a disappointment. Besides, my husband argues, the best books aren’t spoiled by spoilers. Don’t we read the Torah (with relish!) year after year even though we already know that Yitzchak is going to survive the akeidah, Yosef’s brothers will find him in Egypt, and the Jewish people will make it through the Red Sea intact? My own hesitation to intervene has more to do with personal guilt. Since I don’t go to the movies, I have no problem with listening to spoilers on the radio or reading about them in reviews. In fact, I relish such moments, which allow me to vicariously enjoy films without any of the guilt I’d feel if I stepped into an actual movie theater. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm, I sometimes forget who I’m talking to. When Rogue One came out, I wrongly assumed my brother had heard about the ending already, and I accidentally spoiled it for him. Oops. I’m no better with books. I failed to realize that my 12-year-old was listening in while I was discussing the ending of Murder on the Orient Express with my 15-year-old until it was too late. And when my 10-year-old told me that her class had reached the story of Devorah and Barak in Navi, I accidentally revealed what happened when Barak insists that Devorah travels with the troops. I thought she already knew! What finally drove me to the “no spoilers” policy was my youngest daughter’s discovery of The Keepers of the Lost Cities. For once, she was the aggressor, talking non-stop about each book as she devoured it. While it’s kinda cute when a tiny tot punches her big brother because he told her all about Dumbledore’s death (see, there I go again!), it’s less cute then he punches her back. Besides, I haven’t yet read The Keeper of the Lost Cities. I don’t want her to spoil it for me.


JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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Can a lender claim that a payment received was for a different debt? Rabbi Shmuel Wise, Maggid Shiur of RealClearDaf.com

We learned about this on 42a. The gemara there relates how a lender demanded a 100 zuz loan back from the borrower. The lender backed up his claim by producing the loan document, but the borrower claimed he had already paid this loan back.

sensible thing to do upon payment is demand that document back to avoid being collected from twice. Now in our case the above argument is of course countered by the fact that we have testimony that the borrower did make

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a payment. And that is precisely what R’ Nachman argues: We are no longer impressed by the lender’s possession of the document because of the strong evidence that the loan was in fact paid. R’ Pappa, though, argues that the lender still wins because he has a different understanding of the aforementioned rationale. In R’ Pappa’s view, the lender’s possession of the loan document is tantamount to full testimony that the borrower still has not paid. For it is well established that the signatures in legal document are the equivalent of witnesses testifying about the existence of the debt in question. Rav Pappa just takes this concept one step further and says that the signatures in the document continue to testify on behalf of the creditor, as long as he continues to be in possession of the document. Consequently, the only way the borrower can win is if he can produce witnesses that testify that he paid back this loan. Otherwise, he has not adequately responded to the lender’s “witnesses” (i.e. the document) who continue to testify that the loan was not paid yet. This is another instance that reminds us to take precaution by ensuring that everything in a transaction be duly recorded and/or to conduct transactions only with people we can fully trust.

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Indeed, as the gemara later clarifies, there were witnesses who saw the borrower make payment to this lender, but the lender claimed that that payment was for some other debt this borrower owed him. The borrower denied the existence of any other debt, insisting that that he had paid the loan in question. What is the law in such a case? The gemara brings a dispute about the halachah in such a case with R’ Nachman asserting that the borrower wins and R’ Pappa arguing in favor of the lender. R’ Nachman’s opinion seems simple to understand. Given that we have testimony that the borrower made a payment in the amount of the loan and that there is no evidence of any other debt for that amount, there appears to be overwhelming evidence in favor of the borrower. So how are to understand the view of R’ Pappa? In order to approach this question, let’s step back and consider a typical case where a lender collects with the loan document in hand. If the borrower tries to claim he already paid (without testimony to that effect), the lender undoubtedly wins the case and collects. This is because any claim from the borrower that he paid is refuted by a simple question: If the borrower already paid, why is the lender still in possession of the document? Surely the

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OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Feature The Week In News

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Hope

Portrait of

By Tammy Mark “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world” -Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a)

J

ennie and Gary Landsman are desperately trying to save the lives of their two little boys. At the very same time they are hoping to save others through their plight. This past summer, the Landsmans received the devastating news that both their one-year-old son Benny and their newborn baby Josh were afflicted with a genetic mutation and diagnosed with Canavan disease. Informed that it was an incurable, degenerative and fatal condition, Jennie and Gary went home to figure out how to make the most of their precious time before the disease overwhelmed their precious babies. Canavan disease is a rare genetic disease that affects the ability of the brain to send and receive messages. Children with Canavan disease are unable to sit, stand, walk or talk. As degeneration progresses, many children will lose the ability to swallow,

develop seizures, and become blind. After arranging all possible therapies and available medications in their best attempts to slow down the disease, the Landsmans discovered one more thing they could do. There was a possibility of gene therapy – a treatment full of promise for a cure that was still stuck in the lab. The miracle they were praying for was actually out there, but it was $1.2 million away. Desperate to try her very best for her children, Jennie set up a GoFundMe campaign and posted it on Facebook. A little over a month later, through tremendous community effort, the Landsmans are coming closer to their goal and to their miracle each day. Their plight is a bit more than personal; the Landsmans also have messages of awareness and of hope that they are intent on spreading through their campaign. The Landsmans’ goal is threefold. Of course, there is the immediate and overwhelming desire to save the lives of their children. They also know that securing the successful treatment for Canavan disease will lead to advance-

ments in some of the more complex and elusive degenerative diseases, and they want to offer hope for those struggling and waiting for their own cures. Lastly, Jennie and Gary want to spread the word about the importance of genetic screening for all future parents. “We really want to spread awareness so it doesn’t happen to other people,” Jennie explains.

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ennie and Gary Landsman were married in March 2015 in a small ceremony at the home of a childhood friend. A second marriage for both, the two were eager to move forward and start their new lives together. Jennie had a young son, Michael, from her previous marriage, and both Jennie and Gary knew they wanted to have a big family. Jennie’s first pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage, but she got pregnant again soon after. A yoga instructor and martial arts teacher, Jennie was fit and active and had a perfectly normal pregnancy. Benny came into the world on June 27, 2016 with a bit of excitement – born

on the way to the hospital in Hatzalah – but was otherwise perfectly typical and healthy. His parents gleefully brought him home from the hospital the next day. Though Benny was very colicky at first, Jennie knew it was quite common and saw no reason to be concerned, especially once that phase had passed. At 2 ½ months Benny turned into a happy and cheerful baby. “One of those easy babies,” says Jennie. “He turned into this chilled, yummy, delicious kid – and he still is.” It wasn’t until Chanukah of 2016 that Jennie and Gary thought of anything different. They were getting ready for a Chanukah party at home and Jennie’s sister was lending a hand and helping with baby Benny. “At some point she said to me, ‘Does he always need this much support?’” Jennie recalls, “It hadn’t even occurred to me. He was just turning 6 months, he was still little, and you don’t expect much at that age. She was noticing he needed more head support than she thought made sense.” Over the next week Jennie started


Feature The Week In News

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

to watch little Benny. She spoke to a friend, an occupational therapist who works with infants, who suggested Jennie get Benny evaluated. Benny was approved for both occupational and physical therapy. Although he couldn’t sit up on his own, his doctor wasn’t nervous; Benny had been meeting all of his milestones up until that point and was still in the range of normal. Jennie was told there wasn’t anything to worry about. Soon after that, however, Benny plateaued – he went from meeting all of his milestones to not sitting up and not rolling over, save for a few times by accident. Any parent intent on watching a child hit expected milestones can identify with the concern of a delay at any stage of development. “With every single day that passed I started to get more and more nervous because my instincts kind of kicked in that something’s not OK. But you also don’t want to believe that things aren’t OK…so you’re not sure,” she says. When Jennie took Benny to the first neurologist, he suggested they wait and see how Benny would do with the physical therapy and to check back in a month. One month later she went to another more knowledgeable neurologist who basically said the same, and that every child develops at their own pace. Benny was making eye contact and was responsive and charming, and exhibited no indication of cognitive delays at that point. The Landsmans followed up repeatedly with the doctors. As the months passed, different issues began to appear. Jennie took him to an ophthalmologist to address what seemed like muscular issues with his eyes. Since his vision was still fine at the time, it was simply

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

explained as an immaturity. It was at that point that the Landsmans went to another neurologist, the head of pediatric neurology at a major hospital, who finally sent them for a complete battery of tests. “The bloodwork was hard,” recalls Jennie. “We had to go back a few times because it was too much blood to take from the baby at once.” Jennie was now pregnant with Josh, but anxiously and dutifully completed Benny’s testing over several visits. The results eventually came back in a urine test; children

scary.” When the doctor called back he explained that results had been trickling in and that they found something. He said, “I can’t see you today but I made you an appointment with a geneticist – can you go today?” Jennie and Gary went in to see the geneticist that same day with Benny and their newborn Josh in tow. “She gave us so much time, was so so sweet,” says Jennie. “I didn’t even comprehend why she was giving us so much time, preparing us in a way…” “She just came in with a sad face,”

"I would pick up my baby and I would just fall apart - how many more times can I pick him up and hug him? How many more times am I going to nurse him? How many times am I going to rock him in this chair?"

with Canavan disease do not break down everything properly in the body which results in an excess of something called NAA in the urine. The phone call from the doctor came on the morning of July 31. “We got some of the test results in – give me a call…” was the message on the answering machine at 7:30 AM. The Landsmans promptly called the office to find out that the doctor that called them was on vacation. “That was when my heart sank,” recalls Jennie. “He’s calling me from vacation – that’s

adds Gary. That was when they first heard of the disease. “She told us that she thinks it’s Canavan disease. We both sat there like, ‘OK, what does that mean?’ We’d never heard of it,” says Jennie. “She goes on to tell us that it’s when the child is missing an enzyme and the brain can’t function normally.” Jennie asked if it was possible to give Benny the missing enzyme, figuring it was a simple resolution, until the doctor explained that it was unfortunately not simple at all.

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It was at this moment that Jennie and Gary were told the words that no parent should ever hear. The doctor told them that there’s no treatment, no cure – there’s nothing they could do. The disease is fatal and children with the illness don’t live past the age of ten. “I can’t even describe the state of being that we were in – we were just completely shocked. It was so shocking because you have this seemingly healthy baby who was delicious and bubbly and yummy and doing everything OK – and then suddenly he’s not OK.” The geneticist then proceeded to tell them that they wanted to do a genetic test to confirm the gene mutation and that they needed to test twoweek-old Josh because there is a 1 in 4 chance of Josh having the disease. “Of course, you know, you just want to disappear when you hear things like that…I was hysterically crying at this point. So was my husband,” shares Jenny. “Then we went home to wait for the results. It was a very painful two weeks.” On August 14, on Gary’s birthday, they received the results that both of their baby boys tested positive for Canavan disease. “You don’t want to go on – your whole world goes dark.” Jennie describes feeling like she was in a hole for a few days. “You wish you weren’t here anymore.” Jennie also had a hard time bonding with Josh. “You’re scared – you’re like I’m supposed to sit here and fall in love with this little person to say goodbye? It didn’t make sense; such an unnatural place to be in. Normally you’re bonding with your baby and here I was being terrified of being heartbroken. I was already heartbroken, but even


Feature TheOCTOBER Week In2015 News 29, | The Jewish Home

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Benny and Josh

more so – it was becoming more and more painful as I got to know him.” Those days following the diagnosis were painful and difficult for Jennie. “I would pick up my baby and I would just fall apart – how many more times can I pick him up and hug him? How many more times am I going to nurse him? How many times am I going to rock him in this chair?” until one day she realized, “I’m going to look back down the line and have good memories from one year with Benny and no good memories of Josh.” She decided she had to make a change. “OK I’m not thinking about tomorrow – I’m going to think about the next hour – I’m just thinking about right now and I’m just going to enjoy this minute right now. And that’s what I did.” It was a constant exercise in gratitude. “Anytime my mind would start to wander, what’s my life going to look like in three years from now? I would push myself back. I would sit there and try to just think about what I have and what I appreciate – it was like a really big test.” “Benny is still a joy,” gushes Jennie. “Benny presents like a five-month-old, but cognitively he’s a little bit further than that. He knows everybody, knows how to play peekaboo, he laughs at things – he’s like this happy guy who just wants to play and have fun. We enjoy them – even if it’s just hanging out with them and playing a game or bath time, you just enjoy the every day. “

J

ennie and Gary made the very conscious decision to fight hard against the prognosis; they

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Michael, Benny and Josh

know that early intervention is critical. Benny has 4-5 therapists per day coming to help keep him where he is, with a daily schedule that includes physical, occupational, feeding and developmental therapies. The medications that the boys are currently on will help slow down the degeneration. They saw a difference pretty quickly with Benny, with improved gross motor functions right away and other very small changes – and every little thing makes a difference. Five-month-old Josh started therapy as well to get him to do as much as possible before the degeneration starts to kick in, and thank G-d he’s much further along than average. “They’re really pushing him to do more and move further faster. We’re hoping that he’ll retain those skills as he gets older.” Most remarkably, the Landsmans also found the well-respected researchers who developed the gene therapy customized to treat Canavan disease and they are desperate to fasttrack funding to bring this gene therapy out of the lab and into the hands of patients. The family now has reason to be both joyous and hopeful; the gene therapy they are hoping for is a real solution and becoming more of a reality with each dollar. Gene therapy works by introducing genetic material into cells to compensate for abnormal genes. If a mutated gene causes a necessary protein to be faulty or missing, gene therapy may be able to introduce a normal copy of the gene to restore the function of the protein. A gene that is inserted directly into a cell usually does not function,

so a carrier is genetically engineered to deliver the gene instead. Viruses are often used as carriers because they can deliver the new gene by infecting the cell, and scientists have found viruses that do not have a function and cause no harm. Since the gene that makes a certain enzyme is mutated and non-functioning in Canavan patients, they can insert the missing gene into this virus. The virus will go and “attack” the body, photocopying itself in the body so that the body can then produce the enzyme. “G-d created everything for a reason – so what’s the point of a virus that doesn’t do anything? Well, scientists can modify it; put the gene in that they’re missing. The virus attacks the body and photocopies the gene into each cell,” marvels Jennie. Gene therapy has proven successful in treating other diseases with missing enzymes. Scientists have cured genetic blindness. This past year they cured two children with another brain disease called ALD, where children are missing a different enzyme. These cures take time and money to develop, and rarer diseases simply do not get as much attention or funding as others. “It’s been done and it’s very doable. They’ve created this gene therapy, this virus, and they’ve tested it – they just need to make it. They have it for Canavan. It’s sitting there – they need to produce it and make it available for humans. It’s been figured out in the animal models and it’s been incredible,” Jennie says. Jennie is very hopeful. “There is

actually some recent funding that went into Canavan and they’re slowly doling it out; it’s not being fast-tracked. What we’re doing is we are raising the money to fast-track directly to bring the treatment to patient use and out of the lab. If we do that, our kids will be able to have the medicine – which is crazy.” “The biggest hope is that it will cure them,” she says. “In past trials, 13 years ago, they stopped the disease from progressing. With the newer ones on the animals, the body was able to repair itself from the damage – so we don’t know. Potentially they can actually be cured and live normal lives. If it doesn’t go to our most hopeful scenario and it just stops the disease, then that’s huge! It will save their lives. They may still be disabled, but it won’t make them worse every year and every day.” Jennie explains, “Because it’s degenerative, every single day there’s more damage to the brain – so every day makes a difference.”

W

hen Jennie posted the GoFundMe information on her Facebook page on Thanksgiving morning, she didn’t do anything further. Close friends and family shared and forwarded the link through social media, email and WhatsApp. Benny and Josh’s cause touched so many people and the response has been overwhelming and very uplifting to the Landsmans. People have reached out from all over – one company making a custom play table for Benny with supports. Their local Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn ordered a special needs shopping cart


Feature The Week In News

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

specifically for her and Benny, which Jennie is insisting should be shared with others who need it. Fundraisers have sprouted big and little – from a neighborhood girl baking cookies to sell door to door, to shul and school tzedakah projects, to the Pa-Kua Martial Arts studio running “Benny and Josh” classes internationally. Acts of kindness, such as families sending meals and local girls doing chessed hours at night to help with bedtime and the boys, help Jennie and Gary tremendously and they appreciate it all. “People are really incredible and beautiful. People that don’t know me hear and they want to help however they can,” Jennie says. The collected funds are going through Rechav Lev, a local charity in their community of Marine Park which officially declared that they are raising money for the cure for Canavan. As of January 2, the campaign has raised $725,595 of the $1.2 million goal – and the funds are already being disbursed to the labs, researchers and doctors. Though not able to have an exact timeline, the Landsmans expect that the cure for Benny and Josh could happen within a year. The treatment is already in the process of production but they must keep it going in order for the miracle to fully come to fruition. Jennie and Gary are very excited to see a cure for their boys, but also for the larger picture of hope for others. Though Canavan affects approximately 1,500 children currently, successful gene therapy will help Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS patients come closer to cures. By studying a disease with a single gene, scientists can apply findings to more complex diseases and have used Canavan research to help apply gene therapy to more complex diseases. Since they affect the brain in a similar way, the hope is they’ll be able to use similar treatments, modified for those diseases. The Landsmans passionately want to promote an even wider awareness for genetic testing. The fact that some illnesses can be predicted and possibly avoided through comprehensive genetic testing is a message that the Landsmans are hoping to impress upon the community. Being a carrier of a genetic disease means that even though one may not show any symp-

toms, it is still possible to pass that disease on to one’s child, r”l. Genetic disease only occurs when both parents are carriers for the same disease, with

your options and what more you can get tested for – just to make those choices. You can choose not to, but you should know what you’re saying yes or

"It was so shocking because you have this seemingly healthy baby who was delicious and bubbly and yummy and doing everything OK - and then suddenly he's not OK."

a 25% chance of having a child affected by the disease. Jennie had been tested before she got pregnant with Michael and thought she was tested for everything relevant – Canavan was on the Ashkenazi panel at that time. She had it done through her doctor’s office. Due to a clerical mistake, a full panel was not ordered. Her results came back negative for all – that Jennie was not a carrier for any of the diseases – but everything wasn’t tested for. Jennie thought she was fine and never thought about it again. Gary never got tested since Jennie was told she wasn’t a carrier. “I was very young and uninformed. There is a short panel with 40 diseases that they test for and the long with 200. You should really know what you’re getting tested for and know

no to,” Jennie says. “When I got my results, I wish I was informed. You just trust the doctor and don’t think twice about it.” There are organizations that focus on genetic testing especially for Jewish families. Dor Yeshorim works on an anonymous basis and tests potential couples for genetic compatibility. Participants do not know their results or what diseases they may be carriers for, as the goal is to prevent any stigma on the individual. Individuals are given numbers to use to call in when asking about compatibility with a potential spouse. Jscreen is a broader testing service that provides results to each individual and is done through a simple saliva sample. Jscreen tests for approximately 200 diseases. Some doctors will even suggest getting test-

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ed before every pregnancy. As genetics is an ever-growing field with much advancement, testing has become more and more accurate over the years. “Maybe something else can be prevented – why risk it If you can be informed? Go to a genetic counselor – go to someone who’s really an expert in the field – that would be my message from my experience,” advises Jennie. “Obviously, this is very rare, but it is so devastating and I would never ever, ever want to see anybody go through that – not the family and not the children.” She hopes that all parents could connect to that feeling of wanting to do anything they can for their kid or their family. “I want people to feel connected to Benny and Josh – they’re both these delicious babies and nobody deserves what they have. It’s a very devastating and scary disease; it’s a downward spiral that these normal kids who are enjoying life will have taken away from them.” As for older brother, Michael, now 7, Jennie says it can be very difficult for him, with sadder days and happy days where he’s just not thinking about it, because he’s a kid. For her and Gary, it’s a roller coaster ride. They are both living day by day and minute by minute, trying to focus on the now and spending time with the boys. “We’re going through it together.” Benny and Josh’s story has touched hearts of family, friends and the extended community, but also reached a broader audience with a recent segment on “Good Morning America.” Though the Landsmans have gotten so far, they worry about the campaign slowing down just as it’s getting closer to the cure. “It’s amazing what the community has done but now we need others to help and keep it going. That’s what’s going to get us to literally save their lives. It’s not like some magic hopefulness, it is really already figured out. It’s there and it’s so close… we just need to get it to them.”

To donate to unlock the cure for Benny and Josh, go to https://www. gofundme.com/savebennyandjosh. For more information about genetic testing visit https://jscreen.org/ or http://doryeshorim.org/.


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The Book WeekReview In News

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

180 Degrees: Amazing Stories that Caused a Turning Point in People’s Lives Abraham Leib Berenstein (Feldheim Publishers 2017, 340 pages) Reviewed by Devorah Talia Gordon

“As long as a person lives, as long as his soul retains a spark that can be ignited, he can start anew.” These are the pithy last lines of 180 Degrees: Amazing Stories that Caused a Turning Point in People’s Lives, by Abraham Leib Berenstein, and they perfectly sum up this book of true stories that will leave you captivated, incredulous, and deeply humbled. Each of the 25 stories in this anthology is unique, yet covers the same theme: adopting a Torah-observant lifestyle after living a life diametrically opposed to yid-

dishkeit (either through increased religiosity or conversion). The stories take place all over the world – South America, Israel, the United States, Poland, and the Ukraine – and their protagonists run the gamut, from a man who scaled glaciers, to a top executive at Microsoft; from an Israeli secret service agent, to an expert in Kung-Fu. Many stories seem too eccentric to be true. Take, for example, the story of the “Israeli Houdini,” Shimmy Illuzini. After growing up in a traditional Moroccan family, he joined

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the army. However, he snuck out of the barracks regularly to practice his tricks. He became a famous magician, in both Israel and the United States, yet felt a nagging sense of emptiness despite his fame and wealth. Not surprisingly, many of the protagonists felt the same; they “had it all,” yet felt unsatisfied and either began searching for something deeper or had it thrust upon them. As an Israeli fighter pilot, who had several brushes with death, says, “Every person receives signals from G-d at a certain point in his life. There are various types of signals – some delicate and some more blatant – but some signals are so strong they give you no rest, and the harder you try to ignore them and get rid of them, the stronger they become.” Famous names share their stories as well, such as Rabbi Uri Zohar, performer Rachel Factor, and writer and teacher, Sara Yocheved Rigler. Their stories, while familiar to many, are nice to hear in their entirety. Other personalities are well-known actors, musicians, performers, and athletes, including “Mr. Mexico,” and the first Jew to ever bear the title of “Super Bowl Champion.” I found his story of interest, given that it is a prototypical “American” dream saga and had a relatable upbringing. Poignantly, even though his father was his biggest fan, recording and watching all his games, before he died he told his son, “I want you to know that I am prouder to see you wearing a kippah on your head than I was to see you with the Green Bay Packers or the Dallas Cowboys helmet.” The most harrowing story is about a Jewish man lost hiking with his travel companion for 35 days. The story of his journey is unbelievable, both in terms of his rescue and his path to Torah Judaism. The stories are told in the first-person, which brings an intimacy to their telling. On the other hand, Berenstein wrote the book based on interviews, and this brings a consistency of voice throughout the work. At times I wanted to “hear” the individu-

al voices better, but compiling each story written by that person would have likely been not only a logistical challenge. Also, given the fact that many protagonists’ first language is not English, it might not have been possible. Several of the stories chronicle the teshuvah of South American Jews, including those from Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina. Having been largely ignorant of the ba’al teshuvah movement there, I found these stories enlightening. There’s a beautiful excerpt in one story about the effect that Rav Avigdor Miller, zt’l, had on Venezuelan Jews, in particular the narrator of “The Microsoft Director.” The author’s own story commences in Argentina. He relates his life, originally as a ski instructor, which culminates in his learning and living in Bnei Brak. In his chapter he quotes Koheles, “‘One who loves silver will not be sated by silver.’ A person’s soul is nourished only by Torah and mitzvos…When I began discovering Torah, I felt as if I had discovered a spring in the middle of the desert.” Berenstein, along with the individuals in these stories, merited to find true nourishment. In truth, we are all sent messages; our daily lives are replete with little and not-so-little opportunities to “start anew.” The bravery of these Jews is an example for all of us.


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JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

Life Pain or Traumatic Pain Rabbi Dov Heller, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Previously, I discussed the importance of listening to one’s feelings. Feelings educate us. They provide us with information that we must access and process if we want to maximize our self-development. They lead us down pathways to self-discovery. I also pointed out that troubling feelings such as sadness, loneliness, shame, and anger contain the greatest potential for teaching us important lessons about ourselves and our lives. At the same time, since people tend to avoid pain, we may consciously or unconsciously avoid, dismiss, or ignore our feelings. When we do so, it is like failing to open an email marked, “Open immediately!”  It takes courage, strength, and integrity to face the truth encoded in our feelings. There are two types of emotional pain:

life pain and traumatic pain. The practical difference between them is that life pain can often be understood and managed through self-reflection, with the help of a friend, or by employing practical wisdom or spirituality. Traumatic pain almost always requires the help of a trained professional and cannot be treated with common sense advice or spirituality. Life pain is conscious and tolerable. I define trauma as unbearable emotional pain. Traumatic pain is so unbearable, it needs to be pushed out of one’s conscious awareness. People who suffer from traumatic pain tend to feel more dead than alive. They survive, but they do not thrive. Let me illustrate the difference. David’s girlfriend forgot his birthday. He feels disappointed. He calls her the next day to tell

her how he feels. She apologizes and asks if there is some way she can make it up to him. He tells her, “Yes. Take me out for ice cream tonight!” There is no serious rupture in their relationship. Life goes on because David’s pain was tolerable, and he was able to process it on his own. Sammy’s girlfriend also forgot his birthday. Sammy feels enraged. When he calls her, he reads her the riot act, telling her how totally insensitive, uncaring, and heartless she is. After slamming down the phone, he falls into a deep empty depression, feeling lost and confused. David and Sammy grew up very differently. David grew up in a home with a mom and dad who were present and attentive to his emotional needs. So, when he experiences disappointments, he has the inner strength and resiliency to handle it without falling apart. Sammy, on the other hand, grew up with a mom who was chronically depressed and unable to take care of his emotional needs for love, attention, and affection. His dad was a workaholic and was essentially absent from Sammy’s life. Sammy’s legacy of emotional deprivation was traumatizing. When Sammy’s girlfriend forgot his birthday, he was re-traumatized. Sitting alone in his apartment, he felt abandoned and alone; the same way he felt with his mother who was not able to take care of his emotional needs. His intense anger was a reaction to a pain he could not access or understand because it had been pushed out of his conscious awareness. Trauma is timeless. Past and present blur into one agonizing, endless now. Sammy’s rage and emptiness were not caused by his girlfriend, but by his experience of emotional trauma he experienced as a child. When Amber did not get hired for her dream job, she was devastated. She called her brother, who she turned to at times like this. He was a good listener, and he didn’t disappoint her now when she really needed him. After an hour, the sting was gone. She gave her brother a big hug. Although still feeling sad, she was able to pull herself together and start a new job search. Brooke also did not get hired for her dream job. Not only was she devastated, she was angry at the CEO of the company. She felt rejected and devalued by him. The familiar voices of doom were screaming in her head, “You see: You’re never going to

make it. You just don’t have what it takes.” Her self-worth plummeted. That night, she went to a bar and hooked up with a guy. The next morning, she experienced shame and self-disgust. She felt fragmented and hopeless. As you can imagine, Amber and Brooke also had very different childhood experiences. Amber grew up in a loving and supportive home. Her relationship with her older brother was a special one. He was someone she could depend on when she was in pain. He provided what I call a “relational home” for her feelings. Her emotional foundation and her selfworth remained strong and solid. Brooke, on the other hand, grew up with a father who constantly compared her to her sister, who was the star of the family. The constant criticism and shame that Brooke experienced were traumatizing. Had her mother had been able to protect her from her father, the outcome might have been different. Unfortunately, her mother was afraid of her husband and offered no protection for her daughter. Brooke was alone with her pain. There was no one there to provide a relational home for her feelings. Trauma flourishes in isolation. When the CEO didn’t hire her, she unconsciously re-experienced the same sense of rejection and worthlessness she experienced when she was being verbally assaulted by her father. The pain felt so unbearable, she was desperate to find a way to escape from it, which she found in the bar. People who struggle with trauma often think they are coping and getting by. But those who know them understand that they are not. Usually, there are fairly clear signs that these people are wrestling with some inner demon. There may be consistent bouts of anger, depression, panic, isolation, oversensitivity, or self-medicating or selfdefeating behaviors. Hiding and pretending is a painful way to live. At the same time, facing the deep, hidden pain of trauma can also be painful. However, in the long run, facing the truth is the only answer and the only way to feel whole and truly alive.  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


JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

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Michael J. Weinstein, Author of the New Book, Ten Times Chai Rebecca Klempner

Two years ago, Michael J. Weinstein began a photographic project which would culminate in his new book, Ten Times Chai: 180 Orthodox Synagogues of New York City. The glossy, “coffee table” volume was just released by Brown Books Publishing Group. For years, Weinstein had been a dedicated volunteer, paying visits to Holocaust survivors through The Mitzvah Man (Michael Cohen) and the program Friendly Visiting For Holocaust Survivors. These activities led him to travel throughout New York City. Weinstein explains, “I would go after work, Thursday nights, and Sunday mornings, and out of curiosity, I started to wander into nearby synagogues before or after the visits. Eventually, I tried to work it out so I could daven minchah, maariv, and shacharit.” Weinstein scheduled these visits around his full-time job as a financial advisor on Long Island. At a certain point, he started taking pictures. “I chose to photograph only the interior of the synagogues, with a focus on the aron kodosh and the sanctuary. Along the way, I heard news reports of suspicious looking characters photographing the

outside of synagogues and realized quickly the increasing threat of terrorists.” From then on, Weinstein began to ask synagogue presidents and rabbis for permission in advance of taking photos. Only three synagogues refused. The synagogues he depicts reflect a diverse cross-section of Orthodox New York, including Modern Orthodox, yeshivish, and chassidishe synagogues; Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Mizrachi communities. He even photographed Kehila Kedosha Janina, the only Greek Romaniote Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. “I was originally planning to do a book on Orthodox synagogues of Brooklyn, with 100 being my number [of synagogues]. It was only later that it became a huge project, going to the other four boroughs of the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Somewhere along the way I discovered my own roots and realized I had family in all five boroughs.” The full-color photos in Ten Times Chai contain no people. “I chose not to photograph people mostly as a matter of their privacy,” Weinstein says, “and also, I did not

want to associate a particular look with the congregants.” Eventually, he took thousands of photos of 180 synagogues. The publisher helped him choose which ones to include. “I was not sure how many photos would go into the book until I arrived at the Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan, a synagogue which has 613 lights on the ceiling in the main sanctuary, the same number of mitzvot in the Torah.” Each entry in the book lists the name of the synagogue, the year it was founded, and the regional background of its founders. “I did not include detailed history primarily because there was too much to cover. Many of the Orthodox synagogues over the past hundred years merged many times or changed names, and because I was not a historian, I felt the job was ‘ten times complicated,’ to say the least.” Asked about which reactions

from readers particularly pleased or surprised him, Weinstein answered, “I really feel good every time someone sees a particular synagogue and tells me how they remember it, how they remember a father or mother or grandparent that davened there. It is amazing that some people can remember where they sat during the high holidays 50 or more years ago. To help bring back nice memories for others turned out to be a blessing.” Readers of Ten Times Chai will certainly develop “favorite” synagogues as they examine its photos. But Weinstein says, “I never attempted to rank any synagogue…I tried to follow a teaching known as Azramra, [based on an elucidation of] ‘I will sing,’ (Psalms 146:2) taught over 200 years ago by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, zt”l… In this teaching, we are to try and find the ‘good points’ in other people, and in ourselves. I also tried to focus on the ‘good points,’ of the synagogues.” Nonetheless, he adds, “I was truly fascinated by the stained glass that went into many of the older synagogues, such as Congregation Orach Chaim on the Upper East Side and Young Israel of the West Side in Manhattan. My favorite is actually a tie between Congregation Ohab Zedek and Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish & Portugese Synagogue, both on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. [Additionally,] I was amazed by the aron kodesh at the Sephardic Lebanese Congregation, as well as the painted walls of every inch of the Bialystoker Synagogue on the Lower East Side.”


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Korean Thawing

This week, North Korea and South Korea sat down for a much-needed conversation. The situation between the two neighbors has been tense recently. A tentative settlement that came out on Tuesday included an agreement from North Korea that it will be sending a delegation to the Olympics, set to be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, on February 9. “The North said that they will send a high-level delegation, including Olympic committee representatives, athletes, a cheering squad, an art performance group,

JANUARY 11, 2018 | The Jewish Home

spectators, Taekwondo demonstrators and press,” Chun Hae-sung, vice minister of unification, told reporters at the Panmunjom truce village on the border between the two Koreas. The talks took place in the “Peace House,” a building on the southern side, which resulted in the unusual sight of a northern delegation stepping over the concrete curb that marks the border. Representatives from the two Koreas sat down at Panmunjom at 10 a.m. Seoul time on Tuesday for their first talks in more than two years. “I hope that the two Koreas can hold talks with a sincere and genuine attitude,” Ri Son Kwon, the North’s chief representative, said at the start of the talks, according to South Korean pool reports from inside the room. “Just as water continues to flow below thick frozen ice, people’s strong desires for these talks and improved inter-Korean relations cannot be stopped or frozen,” he said. In Tokyo, a top aide to Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said that North Korea’s agreement to participate signaled a “change in stance” and that this was welcome. Still, North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs continued to pose serious threats to Japan and the region, and Tokyo would continue to put pressure on Pyongyang to change its ways, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. But talking

– even about sports – means that it’s possible to still negotiate with North Korea and many are hoping these talks will lead to more substantial discussions. “The two sides agreed to make PyeongChang Winter Olympics a turning point in the inter-Korean relations,” Chun said. The south’s delegates said that peace talks, including about denuclearization, were needed, but the North Koreans did not respond at all, he said. South Korea’s government has been eager to see North Korean athletes participating in next month’s Olympics, partly because it has been promoting the event as the “peace games” but also to minimize the chances of Pyongyang doing something provocative to ruin Seoul’s party. The South Korean government even persuaded the United States to postpone annual military exercises, which usually take place from early March, until after the games finish on March 18 to decrease tensions. In a surprising gesture toward the south, Kim used his New Year’s address to wish South Korea success for the games to signal the North’s willingness to send athletes. “With regard to this matter, the authorities of the north and the south may meet together soon,” Kim said. “Since we are compatriots of the same blood as South Koreans, it is natural for us to share their pleasure over the auspicious event and help them.”

More Saudi Royals Facing Charges

Saudi Arabia is continued its sweep combatting corruption. Last week, 11 Saudi princes were arrested after staging a sitin at a palace in Riyadh. The kingdom’s attorney general, Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb, said that the princes were protesting a recent royal order that “halted payments by the state to members of the royal family to cover their electricity and water utility bills.” They had also sought compensation for the 2016 state execution of a cousin who was convicted of murder. The princes were told by authorities that their demands were not in accordance with state law but the group refused to leave, disrupting public peace and order. Consequently, the princes were detained at Al-Hayer prison south of Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital, pending trial. “No one is above the law in Saudi Arabia. Everyone is equal and is treated the


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same as others,” the statement added. These arrests come just two months after the arrest of dozens of prominent royals, businessmen and senior government officials. This nationwide corruption crackdown is being overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was appointed head of a new anti-corruption committee hours before the arrests began November 4. The committee was put into place “due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds” and will

“trace and combat corruption at all levels,” according to the release. Saudi officials estimate that corruption and embezzlement has cost the kingdom at least $100 billion over decades.

Kosher Store in France Burned Three years ago – to the day – of the anniversary of the assault against a Jewish supermarket by a terrorist in France, a

French kosher grocery store was the target of an arson attack on Tuesday. The store in the southern Paris suburb of Creteil caught fire overnight, just days after it was daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti. “The damage is believed to be very severe,” Creteil prosecutor Laure Beccuau said. The Promo & Destock store was one of two neighboring kosher shops in Creteil that were daubed with swastikas last Wednesday. Israel’s ambassador to France Aliza Bin Noun called the fire a “shameful prov-

ocation” on the third anniversary of the January 9, 2015 attack at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. Jihadist gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed three customers and an employee in an attack that triggered deep concern over growing anti-Semitism. That attack came two days after Coulibaly’s close friends Said and Cherif Kouachi gunned down 11 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, kicking off a wave of jihadist attacks in France. In 2015, a record 7,900 French Jews immigrated to Israel, many of them citing increased fears over anti-Semitism. Still, anti-Semitic incidents in France continue to concern the Jewish community. In April 2017, a Jewish woman was murdered, pushed from a third-floor window by a Muslim neighbor, while a Jewish family was beaten, held hostage and robbed in what rights groups said was a hate crime.

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Venezuela is going through a devastating financial crisis and is too cash-strapped to pay for even basic necessities. The South American country has come up with an unusual solution when it comes to paying for medications that are badly needed for its citizens. President Nicolas Maduro has offered to pay big pharmaceutical companies in diamonds, gold, and other precious metals in exchange for pharmaceuticals. In 2017, the Venezuelan currency lost 97% of its value and hyperinflation set in. The oil-rich country has used goods as a form of currency in its mining and petroleum industries but in pharmaceuticals it is not the norm to pay for medications with currency other than money. It is unclear if the large companies will accept such goods in exchange for the $5 billion the country owes them. The government is reportedly also trying to establish an oil-backed crypto currency, which Caracas is developing right now. The lower global oil prices along with two decades of wasteful public spending led to a very unstable Venezuelan economy. Gross domestic product shrunk by more than 16.5% in 2016, and there is very little evidence to suggest that the country fared any better in 2017. According to the International Monetary Fund, inflation in the country will reach 2,000% in 2018. The government has $700 million in outstanding payments, and as a result import goods have declined drastically and there are food and medication shortages. Millions of ghetto inhabitants in the country have developed a commodity exchange instead of using cash as a way of survival. The most difficult medications in Venezuela to find are antibiotics and those used to treat chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.


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