Jewish Home LA - 11-30-17

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The Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home




CITICOM! 718.692.0999

~ Rabbi Naphtali Burnstein, Shlita

Rav Young Israel of Beachwood Ohio



‫גדלי‘ בן צבי‘ איטא‬




The Week In News


Community Happenings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

JEWISH THOUGHT Living with the Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Torah Musings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Op-Ed: Torah in the Workplace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Humor: Egg On My Face. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Dear Readers, In this week’s parshah, midrash describes how Yaakov Avinu was punished for hiding his daughter Dinah from Eisav. Why was he punished for protecting her from an older, violent man, with three other wives, to boot? Rashi says, quoting Bereishis Rabbah, that perhaps she would have caused him to repent. Yet we’re also told that Yosef was rewarded for hiding Rochel Imeinu “from the eyes of that wicked one.” So which one is it: Was it a good thing to protect the women or not?

FEATURE Ashley Blaker, a Frum Funnyman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

LIFESTYLES Book Reviews. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Emotional Health.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

As with most questions in the Talmud, the answer is “it depends.” Leah would’ve had a positive effect, whereas Rochel would not. Putting the technicalities aside, there is a very important lesson here. Asking a simple


“but is it right or wrong” won’t always get the correct response. The answer could be “it

Global.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

depends.” For one person it’s a mitzvah, and for another it’s the opposite. The next time we see someone acting in a way that looks wrong when seen through our glasses, give




him the benefit of the doubt; it may just be right on target when seen through his. And the next time we want to do something “because they do it,” we should take a moment to think if it’s still right when we do. Ultimately, the truth of all our deeds will only be revealed once Moshiach has arrived and ushered in the coming redemption. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,


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

TheHappenings Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Simxa Company Conducts Another Successful Shabbaton Yehudis Litvak Freeman, and Mila Raigorodsky. David Weiss, a popular author, speaker, and award-winning screenwriter, served as Master of Ceremonies and spoke about his Jewish journey and his experiences as a Jew in Hollywood. The participants left the shabbaton refreshed and inspired. “I keep coming back because I am learning a lot every time I come,” says Asya Bernwalt, who has been attending the Simxa shabbatons from the very beginning. “It’s a wonderful experience. I am meeting old friends and making new friends.”

Simxa Company, a non-profit organization dedicated to educational outreach to Jews of Russian background, conducted its 17th annual shabbaton over Thanksgiving weekend. As usual, the shabbaton was a smashing success. This year’s audience included not only Russian Jews, but those of American, Persian, and Israeli backgrounds. The Russian lectures were conducted in parallel with the English lectures, so there was always something for everyone. Among Russian lecturers was Rabbi Aryeh Katzin, director of Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE) and principal of Sinai Academy in New York. Rabbi Katzin is a popular speaker who always draws full rooms of attentive listeners. This year, he spoke about the attitude of gratitude and finding the positive even when things seem dark. On Shabbos, he spoke to all the attendees in English, captivating them with stories of his youth in the Soviet Union. Rabbi Katzin also led a trip to the Huntington Library Botanical Gardens, where he taught Torah surrounded by beautiful natural scenery. Other Russian-speaking lecturers included Rabbi Yechezkel and Ora Rapoport, founders and directors of Chabad of Shoreline, Washington; and Rabbi Bentzion Pil, founder of the Schneerson Center and rabbi and spiritual leader of the Russian Jewish community of San Francisco. The English-speaking lecturers included the renown speaker Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, an author and senior editor at, whose topics ranged from meditation to Jewish history, always with a practical message; Rabbi Reuven Wolf, founder and program director of Maayon Yisroel Chassidic Center in Los Angeles, who spoke about our power to make miracles; as well as Rabbi Asher Brander, Rebbetzin Batya Brander, Rabbi Gershon Shusterman, Rebbetzin Chana Rochel Shusterman, Rebbetzin Mattie Pil, Rebbetzin Nomi

“We enjoyed it this year as much as every year,” agrees Elvira Begelfer, another longtime participant. “Every time we come, we learn something new… that I can apply to my family, raising my children, personal growth.” The children’s program, headed by Tzippy Kin, was also very successful. The children enjoyed challah baking, games, and ice skating and bowling trips. All the participants enjoyed gourmet food and live entertainment, with live klezmer music at the melavah malkah by Leo Chelyapov

and concerts for women by Katya Kapelnikova. “It was very inspiring for me to see people so thirsty for learning,” says Esther Davidoff, who heads Simxa Company together with her husband, Moshe. “The lectures were packed! Even parallel lectures (Russian and English) were all full to capacity at the same time. The atmosphere was warm and felt like we were one big family.”



TheHappenings Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Southern California Yeshiva Students Launch a Kosher Comic for Jewish Girls by Jewish Girls Communicated At a time when many Jewish families are worried about their children having a connection to their Jewish identity and heritage, the students of Emek Hebrew Academy Teichman Family Torah Center are leaping to the rescue. Launching in November, just in time for Jewish Book Month, Emek Kosher Comics – Girls Edition is packed with fun stories, strange dreams, and friendship tips. What can you do if you don’t have any friends? What if you hurt someone? Will Tziporah pass her test? And what is a mitzvah, anyway? Emek Kosher Comics is a fun way to learn about one’s Jewish superpowers and the power of mitzvos. The origin of the book was simple. It came to the attention of Emek’s librarian, Rae Shagalov, a publisher in her own right at holysparks. com, and author/artist of The Joyfully Jewish Family Coloring Book, that there were very few Jewish comics available for kids on Amazon. Most of them were on dark Holocaust themes. Jewish kids need lighter comics that are fun! Shagalov saw this as a perfect opportunity to integrate Torah learning and Jewish values with 21st century education, project-based learning. “Students at a Jewish school are very fortunate, but we know that not every Jewish child is

lucky enough to get to learn about their Jewish heritage, Torah, and mitzvos,” says Shagalov. She challenged Emek students in Grades 1st-8th to create a Jewish comic book that ALL Jewish Children would enjoy, even if they didn’t know much about being Jewish or Judaism. Shagalov’s students in her innovative, library-based project-based learning program got to work. They researched and wrote stories, created props and sets, and acted out the stories in vignettes that they photographed. The students used two apps to bring the stories to life, including Toon Camera, which turns ordinary photos into comic-like pictures and Comic Life, which they used to format the comics. For the first edition, Emek raised $7,230 in a 200%-funded crowdfunding campaign to buy ipads and props for the Kosher Comic. The comic will most likely appeal to children ages 4-9. Emek’s students are asking readers to buy their comic on Amazon and to write a review to help them reach #1 bestseller status. The Kindle version is on sale for only $1.99 during November and December, just in time for Chanukah. Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app onto your phone, PC,


or tablet. A softcover version of the comic book is available for under $10, making it a great gift for Chanukah, birthdays, and bar/bat mitzvahs. Emek students are also challenging stu​ dents, both boys and girls, at other Jewish schools around the world to enter their comics, stories, and ideas for the next edition of Emek Kosher Comics. “We want to help Jewish kids find their roots and what it means to be Jew-

ish,” says Hadassah Zucker, author of one of the stories in the the first edition, “It was fun making the comic. Maybe other kids will want to do it, too.” Emek students are superheroes in their own right, as they work to solve world problems. Emek’s new Library Innovation Lab guides students in 1st-8th grade in the strategies of social entrepreneurship. Emek’s innovative Extra Challenge program is based on an 18-word curriculum, “Create something that’s needed for someone who needs it that helps solve a problem or teaches something important.” This formula teaches the students to recognize a problem, research solutions for a specific audience, and create products and services to help solve the problem and fill the gap. Now, they’re learning about marketing as they launch their comic with the goal of attaining #1 bestseller status on Amazon with 50 positive reviews. To order Emek Kosher Comics and leave a review on Amazon, go to For more information about the book, the contest, and Emek’s innovative Extra Challenge program in social entrepreneurship, contact Rae Shagalov at or call 323-447-4937.



The Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Photos: Jonah Light Photography

Chai Lifeline West Coast Legacy Of Hope Gala Honors Community Leaders On October 30th, 2017, the Los Angeles community came together at the Taglyan Cultural Complex to celebrate the work of Chai Lifeline at its annual Legacy of Hope Gala. Six hundred friends and supporters were inspired by honorees Rabbi and Mrs. Baruch Gradon and Basya and Malkiel Gradon (Legacy of Hope Award) and Lara and Cheston Mizel (Builders of Hope Award). Marilyn Sohacheski opened the program with warm words of welcome and gratitude for the outpouring of support for the organization. Master of Ceremonies Reuven Gradon, in describing Chai Lifeline’s support to his family during the illness of his nephew, Eli Gradon, z”l, shared, “Chai Lifeline is the emotional and social oncologist if you will, to the patients and families that are living with sickness and tragedy. Families in their most vulnerable moments know they can turn to Chai Lifeline to help carry some of the weight in their lives. To help navigate the burdens and pain of illness so families have more capacity for hope and love.” Chai Lifeline Young Leaders Lara and Cheston Mizel accepted their award in honor of Lara’s mother Shirley Frysh, on the occasion of her 36th yahrzeit. In a video presentation, Lara shared her mother’s poignant story and how her legacy of emunah continues to guide Lara and her family today. Speaking about her involvement with Chai Lifeline, Lara shared, “I love being a part of Chai Lifeline because it is not a sad place, it’s a happy place and you witness miracles every day. That is the light of Chai Lifeline.” Rabbi Simcha Scholar, executive vice president of Chai Lifeline, introduced the Gradon family and highlighted Rabbi and Mrs. Baruch Gradon’s involvement in Chai Lifeline which began almost eighteen years ago. They helped champion the opening of the West Coast region, not knowing that in the future they would become a Chai Lifeline family. In a video presentation, Rabbi and Mrs. Gradon and Basya and Malkiel Gradon spoke about their experience and the role Chai Lifeline played in their lives. Basya Gradon shared, “There is nothing like being able to pick up the phone and call Chai Lifeline. You know they are there, you know they are ready, you know they will do anything for you. We wouldn’t have gotten through these years without them.” As Legacy of Hope recipients, Marilyn Sohacheski shared that for Basya and Malkiel, “instead of this tragedy breaking them, they allowed it to propel them on their mission for tikkun olam.” To continue the legacy of Eli, z”l, the Gradons announced the launch of Eli’s Chai Wish Fund, where donations are allocated for special wishes to Chai Lifeline children battling illness. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Gala for their generous contributions and for creating such a beautiful and enjoyable event. Special thanks to the event sponsors: Adam Dweck - AD Catering and Events Herzog Wine Cellars Michael Bernstein - The Cask Ramin Abrams, Cello player Lori Kaye - Pro Specialties Group Serena Apfel - Let’s Party Events # # # #


Chinuch with Distinction

Our world-class chinuch at our five-star campus proudly produces Bnei Torah who are ready to embrace today’s challenges and become future leaders of Klal Yisroel. L-R Noah Flom, Randi Grossman, Cheston Mizel, Lara Mizel, Marilyn Sohacheski, Jaime Sohacheski, Rabbi Simcha Scholar


SAVE THE DATE! Exciting Shabbaton


Mrs. Esther Gradon and Rabbi Baruch Gradon, Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Malkiel and Basya Gradon

For prospective students: February 2-4, 2018 Special guest accommodations wing on campus! Join the entire Mesivta & Beis Medrash for a memorable and informative shabbaton!

Reuven Gradon

When a child is born or diagnosed with a serious illness, the entire family feels the pain. Chai Lifeline West Coast, Sohacheski Family Center, provides crucial emotional, social, and financial assistance that enables each family member to weather the crisis and daily challenges of serious pediatric illness. Chai Lifeline West Coast’s network of services include more than two-dozen programs that range from professional case management, insurance advocacy and counseling, to pet therapy, creative arts and other innovative therapeutic services for every member of the family. Every year, dozens of West Coast region children and teens experience a vacation from illness at Chai Lifeline’s magical, highly acclaimed summer camps. From the moment of diagnosis until the point that we are no longer needed by the family, Chai Lifeline enables patients, siblings and parents to fight the pain and isolation of illness, and find joy and hope in everyday life. All services are free of charge and delivered with professionalism, sensitivity, and compassion. For more information about services, to volunteer, or to make a donation to Eli’s Chai Wish Fund, please call (310) 274-6331 or visit

Our Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Dovid Fromowitz, will ‫ בעז”ה‬be visiting




TheHappenings Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Harav Yitzchak Yosef, Inspires the Los Angeles Jewish Community Yehudis Litvak Over the past week, the Los Angeles Jewish community was privileged to host the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, the Rishon Letzion, Harav Yitzchak Yosef, shlita. The Rishon Letzion arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, November 21st, and was welcomed with much honor by many representatives of the local Jewish community. After shacharit and a brief shiur at the Shuvah Israel Torah Center, the Rav visited Tashbar Sephardic Yeshiva Ketana. Packard Street was closed to traffic as the Tashbar staff rolled out the red carpet in the middle of the street to greet the Chief Rabbi. Accompanied by traditional Sephardic melodies, the rabbi was led to a podium, where he was introduced by Rabbi David Zargari, Dean and Founder of Tashbar. Then the Chief Rabbi spoke to the students, reminding them how fortunate they are to continue the tradition of their ancestors. The speech was translated into English by Rabbi Moshe Abady, menahel of Tashbar. After the speech, each of the Tashbar boys had the opportunity to kiss the rabbi’s hand and receive his blessing. Tuesday night, Chacham Yitzchak spoke at the Eretz Cultural Center in Tarzana. The event was organized by all the Sephardic congregations of the Valley. Congressman Brad Sherman greeted the Chief Rabbi and presented him with an American flag that was flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Then the rabbi spoke to hundreds of attendees, showering them with blessings. “Why did Hakadosh Baruch Hu create a round world?” the rabbi asked at the Eretz Cultural Center, as well as in several other locations. He explained that the world exists in the merit of Torah learning. While there are many Jews learning Torah in Israel, even late into the night, eventually they all need to sleep. “When in Israel they go to sleep, in other places people wake up, pray, and learn Torah,” he said, urging the listeners to continue learning and strengthening Torah. Rabbi Yosef quoted the gemara that says

that Torah is the antidote for the yetzer hara. He lamented the rate of assimilation in Jewish communities and praised the rabbis who are hard at work teaching Torah and maintaining Judaism. He blessed the local rabbis with success in their work, and everyone present with success in all their undertakings and with children who “walk in the ways of the Torah.” In the following four days, the Chief Rabbi spoke in several local schools and yeshivot: Hillel Hebrew Academy, Gindi Maimonides Hebrew Academy, Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov-Ohr Eliyahu (YAYOE), Yeshiva Ohr Chanoch, Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon/Chabad, Yeshiva Gedolah, and Toras Emes. In each school, the rabbi emphasized the importance of learning Torah. “Torah is our whole existence,” he said at many of the schools. “Not every boy and girl gets to go to a school like this to learn Torah. Rejoice that you merit to learn Torah!” At Yeshivat Ohr Chanoch, he said that Torah makes a person happy both in this world, as well as the next. He told stories about his father, Harav Ovadia Yosef, ztz”l, whose Torah learning was legendary and whose works are now studied in all Sephardic yeshivot and beyond. He described how his father would sing happily after an especially enjoyable learning session. The rabbi also addressed the girls, encouraging them to learn practical halachah and to marry men who learn Torah. At Bais Yaakov, he told stories about his mother and emphasized the woman’s role in building a Torah home. At each school, Rabbi Yosef blessed the students, as well as the teachers, wishing them success in their holy work. The Chief Rabbi’s visit made an impact on the students, and their teachers. “It was wonderful to hear such a major talmid chacham,” says Rabbi Eliezer Gross, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Gedolah, where the rabbi delivered a shiur on Masechet Yevamot and shared words of mussar, encouraging each and every student to become a ben Torah. The rabbi’s words were a big chizzuk for the students, explains Rabbi Gross. Rabbi Aharon Wilk, Head of School at Gin-

di Maimonides Academy, says the Chief Rabbi’s visit was a “memorable experience” for the students, who observed “tremendous kavod hatorah” and got the message that Torah giants “are the people we need to look up to.” On Wednesday, Rabbi Yosef held a Community Rabbinical Conference at Nessah Synagogue. The event was attended by all local Sephardic community rabbis, as well as some Ashkenazic rabbis. The Chief Rabbi gave chizzuk to the rabbanim, encouraging them to take time out of their busy schedules to pursue their own spiritual growth and learn Torah for themselves. The Chief Rabbi also met with the local Chabad shluchim and discussed conversions. On Wednesday night, over 400 people attended the rabbi’s shiur in hilchot Shabbat at Bait Aaron Outreach Center. On Thursday night, the rabbi gave a different shiur also on hilchot Shabbat at Torah Ohr, attended by hundreds of people, among them many prominent Ashkenazi rabbanim. On Friday morning, Rabbi Yosef was the sandak at the brit milah of Chananel Kohanchi, the son of Sahala and Babak Kohanchi. The Chief Rabbi also met with the former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, who is currently running for Governor of California. The Rabbi and Mr. Villaraigosa spoke about Israel, and the Rishon Letzion gave him a brachah for success in his campaign. The Chief Rabbi spent Shabbat at Kehilat Mogen David, where he prayed with the congregation, participated in communal meals, and delivered divrei Torah and shiurim. The shul was full to the brim, as over six hundred people gathered to pray together with the Chief Rabbi, some of them walking for miles to get there. The Rav “strengthened the whole community,” says Rabbi Yehuda Moses of Kehilat Mogen David. “Everyone feels uplifted.” “The visit made a profound impact on the entire Sephardic community,” adds Rabbi Abady. “We will only recognize the full impact in the future.” Inspired by the visit, Rab-

bi Abady is currently organizing new shiurim by local rabbis in Sephardic halachah. “If we channel the energy from this visit into practical and tangible kabbalot, then we have the power to extend the impact of the visit for a very long time,” Rabbi Abady wrote in a local WhatsApp group. “Dedicating ourselves to learn more, to learn more halachah, to give and/or attend more shiurei Torah, and to be even prouder of our mesorah and our minhagim are some of my personal takeaways from this visit.”

Pictures From The Kerem B'yavneh Dinner

Roshei Yeshiva at the KBY Dinner - Rav Hershel Schachter, the Rosh HaYeshiva of the RIETS seminary of Yeshiva University (2nd from right) met with the two newly appointed Roshei HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, Rav Aharon Friedman (right) and Rav Gavriel Saraf (2nd from left) at the November 8 annual dinner of the American Friends of KBY, which was held at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan. Also pictured (left) is Rabbi Baruch Freedman, the director of the dinner campaign. The dinner presented Rabbi Daniel Z. and Leah Feldman, of Teaneck, NJ, with the Marbitzei Torah Award, and honored the memory of Mr. Eli Klein, z”l, who served as the director of KBY from 1964-2014.

Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman, of Congregation Ohr Saadya of Teaneck, NJ, (2nd from left) and Mrs. Leah Feldman (left) receiving the Marbitzei Torah Award at the November 8 annual dinner of the American Friends of Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh (KBY), which was held at the Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan. The award was presented by Rabbi Mordechai Willig (center) Rosh Yeshiva at the RIETS seminary of Yeshiva University, and accompanied by the two newly appointed Roshei HaYeshiva of KBY in Israel, Rav Aharon Friedman (2nd from right) and Rav Gavriel Saraf (right).

Rav Shalom Rosner (standing), whose English language Torah lectures on the OU website have attracted a large worldwide audience, delivered a shiur for those attending the November 8 annual dinner of the American Friends of Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh (KBY), which was held at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan. Rav Rosner is the newest addition to the faculty of the overseas student program at KBY, and has already established his presence on the KBY campus as a major educational influence.

Photo: Jonah Light Photography


NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



Living with In theNews Times The Week

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Book with the Answers

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

People have many questions and don’t know where to go for answers. In truth, the answers are ever-present in the words of the Torah. So many of our questions are answered in the parshiyos of Bereishis, which we are currently studying. If we study them properly, it can help us navigate our daily lives. When we are at a loss as to which way to proceed, the Torah provides us direction. The Ponovezher Rov, Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, was on his first fundraising trip to the United States. He was riding alone on the New York City subway, going to an evening appointment, when he noticed a group of people who were up to no good. They were eying him as an easy target and drawing closer. He stood no chance against them and began to think of an escape plan. He took out a piece of paper with the address of his destination scrawled on it and showed it to the group. “Which stop do I get off to go here?” he asked them. The ruffians were thrilled to be of help. It would be much easier to hold the man outside on a dark street than in the lighted, occupied subway train. “Get off with us,” they responded. “We are also going there.” The train stopped and the rov let them exit first. He moved as if he was going to follow them off the train, but he was purposely too slow and the doors closed. He was safe. When the rov recounted his tale of salvation, the person he was talking to marveled at his on-the-spot brilliance. “Please,” said the rov, who was known for his genius. “I got the idea from the pesukim in Parshas Vayishlach (33:12-14), which state that when Eisov suggested to Yaakov that they travel together, ‘nisah veneileicha,’ Yaakov responded, ‘No, it’s fine. Yaavor na adoni lifnei avdo.’ “Yaakov told Eisov to go before him with his gang and he would slowly follow. It’s a befeirushe posuk!” The answers to the questions are in the Torah.

In 1933, when Hitler ym”sh became Germany’s chancellor, one of the roshei yeshiva in Radin asked the Chofetz Chaim whether the madman would succeed in his stated mission to wipe the Jewish people off the map. The Chofetz Chaim responded with a posuk from this week’s parsha. He said that no one will ever be able to kill all the Jews, as the posuk (32:9) states, “Im yavo Eisov el hamachaneh ha’achas vehikohu vehaya hamachaneh hanishor lifleitah Were Eisov to succeed in wiping out one camp, there will be another that will survive.”

Chazal explain that “the man” referred to in the posuk was the angel of Eisov. Unable to defeat Yaakov, the malach struck Yaakov and hurt him. The angel left, but not before blessing Yaakov, saying, “Your name will no longer be Yaakov. It will be Yisroel, for you were able to do battle with angels and man and prevailed.” Levado. Our legacy, handed down by Yaakov, is to be alone. Halacha hi beyodua she’Eisov sonei l’Yaakov. It is an irrevocable force built into the natural order that the Jewish people are hated. The nations of the world and the forces of evil will be forever locked in battle with us.

What more will it take for us to recognize that there is nothing Orthodox about Open Orthodoxy? “Nobody was ever able to kill all the Jews, and no one will ever be able to,” said the Chofetz Chaim. The man asking the question was frightened by the response. “And if this murderer will be able to destroy European Jewry, who will remain?” he asked. The Chofetz Chaim responded again with a posuk (Ovadiah 1:17): “Ubehar Tzion tihiyeh pleitah vehaya kodesh - Eretz Yisroel will be a place of refuge.” The answers to the questions are in the Torah. The immortal words of the parsha (32:25), “Vayivoseir Yaakov levado vayei’aveik ish imo,” ring with special urgency in our own times. “Yaakov was left alone and a man came to do battle with him.”

All through the ages, wherever Jews have found themselves, they have been hounded. Through the merit of our forefather Yaakov, as long as we were true to the mission of Yisroel, we were spared. Though battered and bruised, as was Yaakov, we have remained standing long after those who fought Eisov’s battles in each generation disappeared from the scene. In the darkness of golus, men of faith stand out as lonely beacons of light and hope. Remaining loyal to the Torah in a degenerate world is not easy. We are always on the defensive. Sometimes Eisov appears in the guise of a well-meaning brother trying to help us. He tells us to make compromises so that we can advance our causes. He tells us to sacrifice our principles and bend the rules in order to get

ahead. We have to be prepared to do battle with him and his ilk. This means being prepared to be lonely, unpopular and unloved. They speak of love and paint us as creatures of hate. They speak of peace and acceptance, and define us as spiteful non-progressives. Take the example of the promoters of Open Orthodoxy, though they are not the only deviants from Torah and mesorah. People said that no person or shul that calls itself Orthodox could ever do it, but they have done it repeatedly. Recently, two Open Orthodox shuls wished mazel tov to people who underwent unconventional marriage ceremonies. Here is what happened. Congregation B’nai David-Judea of Los Angeles is led by a male Open Orthodox rabbi, Yosef Kanefesky, and a female “rabbanit,” Alissa Thomas-Newborn, the latter of whom was given semicha at Avi Weiss’ Yeshivat Maharat. Kanefsky’s bio gives a sense of his Open Orthodox orientation: “He helped to introduce changes in synagogue ritual and leadership to enhance the role of women, and most recently guided the congregation through hiring its first female clergy member.” Kanefsky wrote two articles in 2011 that argued against the recitation of the morning brachos of shelo asani isha and shelo asani goy, in which he provided what he called a halachic loophole that would enable people to avoid saying these brachos. The fact that these brachos are required by the Shulchan Aruch does not seem to matter to Kanefsky. “Rabbanit” Newborn is basically Kanefsky’s assistant rabbi, who recites Kiddush for the congregation on Shabbosos when Kanefsky is away, among other tasks. B’nai David-Judea’s weekly bulletin for Shabbos Parshas Vayeira, 2017, wished mazel tov upon the birth of a baby to a couple who have an unconventional marriage. Despite the halachic and hashkafic violation involved, B’nai David-Judea celebrates it. Then, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (HIR) wished mazel tov for another such unconventional wedding, as featured in the HIR weekly bulletin of Shabbos Parshas Vayeira, 2017. The regular clergy at HIR, the Open Orthodox congregation founded by Avi Weiss, who is now semi-retired and is currently listed as “rabbi-in-residence,” are two males who were ordained by Weiss

Living withIn theNews Times The Week

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

at his Open Orthodox seminary, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), and by two females who were ordained at his Yeshivat Maharat. HIR has previously been featured in the Yated for many of its outrageous deviations from halacha and tradition. A case in point is its annual Martin Luther King Day concert, where a church choir, garbed in church robes, sings gospel music in the HIR sanctuary in front of the aron kodesh. Some of the songs are solos performed by female church choir members, some of the songs are sung by the church’s pastor, Rev. Roger Hambrick, and some of the songs are led by Avi Weiss with the pastor and the church choir. This desecration has gone on for years, and no one from the Orthodox establishment besides this newspaper has really condemned it. This past summer, HIR’s weekly bulletin for Shabbos Parshas Ki Seitzei, 2017, included an announcement that extended mazel tov wishes to an HIR couple for their son being married in an unconventional union. The posuk refers to it as toieva, an abomination, yet they celebrate it. At the Agudah Convention, the Novominsker Rebbe addressed the scourge of “the new plague called Open Orthodoxy,” which represents the “corruption of Torah ideals, Mesoras avoseinu and downright apikorsus.” He drew attention to the Mazel Tov announcement on the engagement of two men in the synagogue bulletin. He warned that “the soton – and he’s standing next to everybody - comes sometimes with reasonable sympathetic arguments in the name of fairness, equality, enlightenment and being good natured and accepting and before you know it – if you are not on guard with strong Torah ideals you can fall into his trap.” Despite the disgrace, no one else has said a word publicly, other than the new TORA Rabbis organization, which issued a November 16 “Statement on Synagogue Acknowledgment of Forbidden Unions,” which read in part: “We call upon spiritual and lay leaders and members of the public of respective synagogues not to congratulate or celebrate, whether orally or in writing, those celebrating life cycle events in violation of Jewish law, included but not limited to halakhically prohibited marriages… celebrations held in blatant violation of Shabbat or kashrut laws, or any other event that publicly proclaims opposition to Jewish law… “When there are events we cannot condone, it is not out of contempt or disrespect, but rather out of a firm commitment to the Torah, its values and its worldview, which requires us all to submit to the Torah even when doing so is difficult or inexpedient. “We call upon all Jews to reaffirm the

immutable character of the Torah’s value… and proclaim that to celebrate events that publicly flout Torah law is itself a violation. Within the confines of Jewish law, we recommit to making our synagogues and other Orthodox institutions sacred spaces where all can seek the wisdom of the Torah, the guidance of its teachers and the inspiration from the fulfillment of its precepts and the internalization of its values.” More voices are needed to condemn these Open Orthodox shuls. It is not only about female clergy. It is not only about changing brachos and violating the Shulchan Aruch. It is, rather, about a rejection of the values of the Torah and the authority of chachmei haTorah. It is about a rejection of all that Torah Judaism stands for. What more will it take for us to recognize that there is nothing Orthodox about Open Orthodoxy? We sit complacently, thinking that their deviation will never affect “us,” but as many have found out already, if we sit quietly and don’t expose these people for what they are, an Open Orthodox rabbi may be coming soon to a shul near you and bringing this brand of Judaism to your door. Levado. We have to remain separate from them and continue reminding Torah Jews that they represent a growing danger to Judaism. We must not permit them to distort our religion and openly defy Torah and halacha. People celebrate actions the Torah refers to as disgusting are abhorrent. We pray that they reconnect with the veracity of the pesukim of the Torah and reunify with those for whom Shulchan Aruch is the guide. The opening to Parshas Vayishlach tells us about the malochim sent by Yaakov. Rashi teaches that the messengers sent by Yaakov to scout his brother were malochim mamosh, angels. What was it about this mission that could not be carried out by men and required angels? Why did Yaakov immediately assume that there was malice in the heart of his approaching brother? How did he know that Eisov intended to harm him? Perhaps upon hearing that his brother was returning home after having done well, he wanted to greet him and express his love. The Baal Haturim in Parshas Toldos (25:25) states that the numerical equivalent of Eisov is shalom, peace. Perhaps we can understand the gematria as teaching that Eisov oftentimes presents himself as a progressive man of peace. He seeks peace and walks in peace, and all he does is motivated by a desire to spread peace and love. Yaakov feared that if he would send humans to explore his brother’s intentions, they would be fooled by Eisov’s appearance and comforted with the belief that he seeks a peaceful existence with Yaakov.

When he was informed that Eisov was on the way, Yaakov sensed that he was in danger. The Torah doesn’t recount that the malochim warned Yaakov that Eisov was planning to do battle. It only says that he was on his way. But Yaakov understood that if Eisov was coming towards him, it could only mean trouble. The wicked adopt the posture of Eisov, portraying themselves as calm intellectuals. As they promote their agendas, they slam us for deviating from the modern, liberal, progressive outlook. The Bnei Yisroel though, have always opted for the emes of Yaakov, stating the facts as they are and accepting the ramifications. The novi Michah said (7:20), “Titein emes l’Yaakov.” Yaakov Avinu, the fountain of emes, sent malochim to Eisov to gauge his positions. Yaakov yearned for shalom, but his primary concern was that it be within the context of emes. He sent malochim mamosh, who could discern the truth of Eisov’s intentions. Yaakov was sending a message: “If you speak of peace, but under your smile lies a dag-

ger, I will have no choice but to kill or be killed. I will not compromise on the emes. I won’t change and will not adapt the truth to conform to your evil path.” Let us endeavor to inculcate a desire for fidelity to Torah as well as emes and shalom. Let us hope and pray that peace will reign in our camp, and that a united desire for truth leads to harmony. Let us all seek to bring peace among Jews. The Maharal in Ner Mitzvah states that at the time of the neis of Chanukah, the Yevonim sought to transform the Jewish people through Greek intellectualism. The Sefas Emes (435) adds that there is a fine line separating truth and fiction. Knowledgeable individuals are able to bring people over to the cause of sheker by making small, barely perceptible changes. However, Jewish people, through their connection to Hashem, have an inbred ability, through the roots of their souls, to discern the truth. Our study of Torah reinforces our fidelity to the truth. Allowing the pesukim to pave our way will lead to unity, success, nachas and permanent peace.



Torah Musings The Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Overcoming Anger Sarah Pachter

We’ve all been there, and we all experience it differently. Some people feel it in their throat, others, their ears, while many feel it swelling in their chest. Am I talking about the common cold? Nope! I’m talking about anger! When anger wells up, it’s hard to control. It has been known to ruin friendships, marriages, and work relationships. Yet, anger is something every human experiences. In Pirkei Avot (5:10), it states: There are four types of temperaments. One who is easily angered and easily appeased – his virtue cancels his flaw. One whom it is difficult to anger and difficult to appease – his flaw cancels his virtue. One whom it is difficult to anger and is easily appeased, is a chassid. One who is easily angered and is difficult to appease, is wicked. Essentially, there are three components to anger: frequency, duration, and intensity. Notice that Pirkei Avot doesn’t mention a type of person who doesn’t ever succumb to anger. Our rabbis are teaching us that everyone experiences anger on some level. If everyone struggles in this middah, character trait, could there actually be something to gain from anger? Before explaining techniques to conquering our anger, let us first understand some positive

points that could be gleaned from anger. Yes, you read that right: anger is a tool that can be used to our advantage. Anger has been dubbed our “inner teacher,” for it informs us of what we feel is most important, illuminating what we are passionate about. Anger even teaches us how not to succumb to its grips. In the book, Anger: The Inner Teacher, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin writes, “What we become angry about and what we don’t, as well as what we say and do when we feel angry, is an expression of our real priorities.” In order to allow anger to do its job as teacher – rather than destroyer – we have to learn how to assuage the anger and hear its inner message. Imagine you are playing basketball in a swimming pool. Someone tosses you the ball and challenges you to try to keep it under water. You determine the most effective strategy is to sit on the ball for the duration of the game in order to prevent it from popping out from under you. Now, to mix things up a bit, you are passed a second ball to try to keep under the surface at all times. Suddenly, the game is kicked up a notch. Perhaps you sit on one ball and use your hands to keep the second ball from popping up. Next, a third ball is brought into the pool for you to try to keep below surface level. Suddenly, the game is not so easy. You

are using all your might and every part of your body to keep all three balls below water. Before you have a chance to blink, the balls start erupting, popping out of the water and into the air – game over! There is only so long a person can keep everything below the surface. This “everything” includes anger. We mistakenly think that the way to assuage anger is to hold it in. But if we don’t learn how to express our anger in a healthy fashion, it will eventually explode, much like the basketballs in the pool. If we swallow our feelings each time they occur, it becomes more and more challenging to keep them all below surface level. It is important to learn to express our feelings in a healthy way to prevent such build up. Techniques we often tell our children include sharing about their feelings with Mom or Dad, drawing, painting, writing, and exercise to help dispense the negative feelings. These tools can be helpful to adults as well, but sometimes we need new strategies. In this way, we can allow anger to to become the inner teacher it is meant to be. Here is one technique that really works, particularly with decreasing the intensity, duration, and frequency of our anger. The Nostril Flare The other day, my daughter was making faces in the mirror and discovered how to flare her nostrils. I stood there with my three children and laughed while we each tried it out. While enjoying my children’s excitement over a nostril flare, I smiled as I reminisced on my own childhood nostril flare. My parents and siblings alike can certainly recall “the Sarah face.” Whenever angered, I made a signature pout by pursing my lips and lifting up one eyebrow. What made it “the Sarah face” was that I also managed to lift one side of my lip to match the eyebrow. Of course, I completed the angry scowl with an exaggerated nostril flare. Perhaps there is more depth to the nostril flare than we realize. Flaring one’s nostrils is an involuntary position the human face assumes when angered. This facial reaction is one that humans make across cultures, and typically consists of one’s nostrils flared, lips pursed, and chin out. It is made even by children who are congenitally blind, leading scientists to believe it is innate, rather than learned. In fact, the nostril flare goes as far back as the Torah itself. Many times throughout the Torah it speaks of G-d, “flaring His nostrils” in

anger. One example is found in Parshat Balak, verse 22:22: “Vayichar af Hashem.” Certainly, G-d does not have a physical body, nor does He experience human anger, but it serves as a metaphor to help the reader understand the passage in a deeper way. It is possible that in these “nostril flare” statements, Hashem is sharing with us a technique as to how to control our anger. Like techniques of deep breathing when angry, flaring one’s nostrils causes more oxygen to flow to the brain. This is exactly what our body needs in order to calm the nervous system and prevent the fight or flight reflex from kicking in. This technique requires that we merely feel our bodies in order to learn a lesson. Next time you start to feel angry, notice your nostrils opening up, allowing more oxygen into the body. This will help decrease the intensity of the anger we experience. Ten deep breaths can really calm the mind and allow one to engage in a constructive conversation. Taking it a step further, anything which aids in relaxation will help assuage the anger. Lying down for a moment, taking a shower or bath, or a brisk walk outdoors can also help. Once we are calm, we can speak about the problem in a more rational fashion. There is a story of a famous rabbi who had an “anger hat.” Anytime he felt himself succumbing to the the grips of anger, he would not allow himself to act upon it until he put on a specific hat. Usually, by the time he reached his hat and placed it on his head, the anger had passed. Taking a moment to breath, relaxing, or giving yourself mental space can do wonders to prevent an exchange we might later regret. And given how often we communicate via email, text, and on social media, I highly recommend waiting before pressing send in a heated exchange and allowing yourself some time to cool off. Once the message is sent, you cannot reverse it. Taking a little extra time to edit the text, email, or message in a way that is more palatable to the reader can make all the difference. But even still, remembering to just breathe can be challenging for some. If breathing doesn’t work, what other tools might there be for us to use in the heat of the moment? Stay tuned for next week’s installment to learn more...

The Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

If the Unthinkable Happens… Chai Lifeline is There.

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The Week In News @TierraSur805


NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Torah in the Workplace Daniel Gelman

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Gossip, scandal, jealousy, slander, theft, profanity, anti-Semitism, and sausage pizza parties, are just a partial list of the spiritual challenges we are exposed to in any workplace outside the Jewish community. Jews make up less than two percent of the nation’s population. Observant Jews are less than one percent. That means that virtually every one of your fellow Americans is unaware of – or disengaged from – Torah. If you’re a rabbi or you work in Jewish education or philanthropy, you have the opportunity to elevate your daily affairs in a manner consistent with your values. You will face a minimum of obstacles, because most of the people you deal with share your purpose. But some of us work in predominantly non-Jewish atmospheres. Our income depends on our ability to navigate through murky cross-cultural waters, while maintaining a refined spirit. How do we do that, without alienating our coworkers or misrepresenting what we stand for? Reacting a certain way to a delicate situation, or stating a value or position with just the right words, can significantly impact the ethos of a workplace. In addition to avoiding unholy scenarios or sharing our perspective about them, we’re often tasked with explaining Judaism . Navigating Foreignness One coworker of mine was a proud immigrant from India and a practicing Hindu. He delighted in sharing wisdom from his culture and cooking traditional food for his coworkers. He cherished his role as ambassador of his culture. In fact, his self-esteem depended upon his appeal as a paragon of Eastern virtue. Eventually I shared more about my identity with him when a situation demanded it. This changed the dynamic of our relationship. He didn’t know how to process the idea that I had my own culture, with a language, a wisdom tradition, and dietary guidelines. Initially, he wanted to remain the “exotic” one. However, my intense loyalty to him as a friend and professional mentor stimulated an emotional attachment to me. Although he never fully understood my way of life, he did take special note that the most loyal and spiritually-committed friend he made at work was a Jew. He even shared this information with his Indian friends and family. It is not our job to seek approval of our lifestyle. But it is part of our vocation to be a light and to represent God and Torah with refinement and dignity.

One coworker offered some pizza. I thanked him graciously and declined, making reference to kosher food. He laughed and said, “I’ll bless it for you if you want.” A few weeks prior to that, a group of coworkers asked more about my background. When I mentioned kosher food, they said they knew that meant that a rabbi must bless it. It was clear that they didn’t want to hear a lecture on what kosher actually meant. I wanted to say, “So if a rabbi blesses a ham and cheese sandwich, that makes it kosher?” But sarcasm or condescension would not have been appropriate. At least the concept had registered in their thoughts. Perhaps they will research it. Embracing Refined Speech and Moral Virtue Many workplaces are saturated with profanity and vulgar conversations. People eventually notice that I speak differently, and that I keep my distance without acting superior. Sometimes I’ll ask a trusted coworker if they have ever thought about how commonplace such language has become. One young lady even stopped to think about her own speech. Suddenly she was appalled. I do encounter the occasional committed Christian in the workplace. We often bond due to our aversion to vulgarity and our concern with professional ethics. Like the Hindu gentleman, at first they seem annoyed that I have a spiritual tradition that promotes goodness and contradicts their own theology. But inevitably they tell me that they had never met a Jew who could quote scripture or followed commandments. They too shared their encounter with a different type of Jew with their friends, family, and congregation. While it’s great to work amongst our own, there is also great value in representing Jewish life where it otherwise would not exist. Many people know secular Jews from their neighborhood or rabbis as they are depicted in popular culture. But realizing that the average person in the cubicle next to them takes Judaism seriously is a true revelation. Daniel Gelman is a journeyman worker in multiple industries, and a veteran Reporter of News, Feature, and Opinion based in L.A.

Humor The Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home


Humor: Egg On My Face Rebecca Klempner

We Klempners have several family customs, and getting annual flu shots is one of them. At least, it’s a custom for five of us. My 10-year-old has what I like to refer to as a “losing combination,” an egg allergy and asthma. Basically, if she gets the flu, her lungs go on strike. And, here’s the tricky part: if you are allergic to eggs, you are likely allergic to most flu shots, which contain egg proteins due to the way they’re manufactured. In fact, we know my 10-year-old is allergic to flu shots. When she was two years old, her allergist administered 1% of a dose to her. She broke out in angry, red hives all over and started shrieking like a howler monkey. Thus, the rest of the Klempner mishpachah has to stay flu-free in order to keep my 10-year-old out of the hospital. (Hopefully, no infected classmate will sneeze on her.) There is an entirely egg-free vaccine, but the FDA has only approved it for teens and adults. This year’s version of the flu vaccine, however, has one advantage over

previous years’. It has been heated to a high temperature, which breaks down the majority of egg proteins. Our family pediatrician recommended doing an allergen challenge to see if our 10-year-old could handle that tiny, remaining quantity of egg protein.* “Bake her cookies or cake with eggs,” he said. “Feed her some and see what happens. If she can handle a cookie, she’ll be able to get the flu shot this year.” He paused. “Make sure you have Benadryl on hand just in case.” (When I heard this, I mentally added “and waste basket,” as my 10-year-old’s most common allergic reaction to eggs is vomiting.) Our first attempt to feed my daughter egg involved baking cupcakes one motzei Shabbos. She watched from a safe distance as her siblings helped me prepare the recipe. (Touching raw eggs makes her break out in a rash. Alas, we found that out the hard way.) When the cupcakes emerged from the oven, golden and fragrant, she declined to taste one. I handed it to her brother, whispering, “Make lots of ‘mmm-

mmm-mmm’ sounds.” He complied. Our youngest contributed lip-smacking. But my 10-year-old balked. Each of the next three days, I offered her a cupcake, but she refused to eat a single one. By Wednesday, I gave up and ate the last cupcake myself. “Maybe the problem is you made vanilla cupcakes,” my husband pointed out. “She prefers, chocolate, you know?” So, for Shabbos, I baked a tray of brownies. At lunch, her siblings devoured brownies. The guests asked for seconds.

And my 10-year-old ate none. I asked her why she doesn’t want to participate in our little experiment. “What if I have an allergy attack?” “The doctor said it’s perfectly safe! We have Benadryl right here!” “But it’s really uncomfortable.” Having watched her vomit after eating egg-contaminated items ranging from button candies to fish sticks, I felt “uncomfortable” was an understatement. On the other hand, I vomited often while pregnant with her. Maybe she owes me one. But I took my jab in the arm without complaint, as did her siblings. And afterwards, when we went for our post-vaccine ice cream—another family tradition—I even let her have some. *Please note: This is a personal story, and no one should follow the medical advice it contains without consulting their own physicians. Food allergies can be life-threatening.

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Review TheBook Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Dovid and Esty at Masada by Sara-Ester Varnai; illustrated by Miriam Sin Shalom (KDI, 2015, 118 pages)

Bentzi and the Magic Potion by Shifra Gluck (Feldheim, 113 pages)

Shikufitzky Street 4 by Shifra Gluck (Feldheim, 97 pages) Reviewed by Devorah Talia Gordon

Dovid and Esty at Masada “‘It’s a dream. A real dream,’ Esty whispered softly to herself.” Her dream, and her brother Dovid’s, was coming true: The two were making aliyah with their family. We meet the pair as they arrive at the Holy Land and embark on an adventure in this first in the “Kids Discover Israel” series of books for young readers.

Dovid and Esty at Masada is a work of historical fiction, based on true events that took place at Masada, the infamous fortress in the Judean Desert. Dovid and Esty, however, are fictitious characters

who travel back in time to Masada. There, they make new friends, learn the history of Masada, and have various adventures. The book is an exciting read, with adorable illustrations, cute characterization and an upbeat quality. The book includes appendices about archaeology, historical facts, and current pictures of Masada and ancient remains. Although parts of the story of Masada could be scary, the tone of the characters’ voices remains optimistic and hopeful, as do their conversations; for example, “Dovid and Esty peered into the storeroom. It was filled with bows and arrows, spearheads and knives. Dovid spied a collection of javelins in one corner. Esty saw piles of stones laid out according to weight, size and shape. ‘We make many of these ourselves,’ Ari said proudly. ‘Some were left over from Herod’s supplies. And some,’ he added, a mischievous glint in his eye, ‘we stole from the Romans during our night raids.’” Just like Esty, author Sara-Ester Varnai’s dream came true when she and her family made aliyah from Vancouver in 2000. After the thrill of taking a tour guide course in a college in Jerusalem, and seeing almost all of the country and learning about Israel’s history, archelogy, architecture and art, Varnai wanted to share all she’d learned with children who perhaps could never explore Israel. Keep your eyes out for more books in the series, including volume two, Dovid and Esty: In Ir David,

books on Jerusalem, Chevron, Tzefat, Ein Gedi and Akko. Kids will be encouraged to be an active part of this series by participating in the Poetry/Art Contests that will be sponsored prior to the publication of the novels. Winning entries will be published in the books. Bentzi and the Magic Potion Popular children’s author Shifra Gluck is back with two new books in her best-selling series. In the new “Bentzi” series book, Bentzi and the Magic Potion, Batya narrates the story. This charming storyline about Batya, and her pen pal Chemda, focuses on the issue of children finding courage to do things that are difficult. The message is poignant and well done; not over-the-top but presented in a clever way. Batya confronts several of her own fears, and minor characters also deal with theirs. A child reading this book will feel comforted; she is not alone with her worries and anxieties, and can find the courage inside of herself, just like Batya, Bentzi, and their friends. Sweet black and white drawings highlight the story every three or four pages but don’t overwhelm—perfect for a young reader beginning to tackle chapter books. A large font is used as well, so each page is not too full; again, friendly for the emerging reader. Gluck does a fine job in building the plot in each chapter, then ending the chapter with a cliffhanger that entices the reader to turn the page. She also has a knack for getting into the heads of children, writing from their perspective and experiencing their feelings. I appreciated her ability to develop the story at an even pace, one that kept the reader interested but didn’t rush to “perfectly wrapped package” endings. Shikufitzky Street 4 Welcome back to Shikufitzky Street! My kids insist that I sit with them and read these comics, over and over again, so how delighted they were to receive this latest in the series! The brightly colored cartoon illustrations take us through day-to-day life and the yamim tovim, with cute jokes on each

page about what the characters say or think. It’s especially fun when the characters address the reader, as when Lemech and Kehos decide to talk in a secret language – backwards – and the rest of the cartoon is written backwards for the reader to have fun deciphering.

The Shikufitzky kids are joined by neighbors, including Ditza, Nitza, Lemech, Shlomtzion, and others. All are unique individuals – quite a feat to pull off with cartoons. But even though the exchanges are brief, what the characters say and think are enough. This might look simple, but having such a tiny amount of space to create characters is quite difficult. Gluck uses language concisely and still shows us who each character is. At the end of the book is a special section titled, “Gershon the Genius’s Lab for Sensory Experiments.” In these cartoons, Gershon the Genius demonstrates his clever inventions, such as a special gadget that allows people to hear what their possessions are saying. But when Nitza and Ditza’s backpacks say, “We’re such a mess! Full of paper that need sorting, sandwich bags that need throwing away, and all kinds of stuff like that!” the girls lose their enthusiasm for the invention.

The Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home


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OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Feature Feature The Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Ashley Blaker, a Frum u F nnyman The UK’s Biggest Kibbitzer Chats with TJH By Yoni Mercan


comedian gets up on stage wearing a white shirt, black pants, peyos behind the ears, and his tzitzis hanging out. No, this is not the start of a Jewish joke; it’s a description of Ashley Blaker, a stand-up comedian who has performed all over the UK, in Israel and in South Africa. Ashley is now heading to the United States, where audiences are lining up to get their velvet yarmulkes knocked off by his punchlines. He took a few minutes out of his busy schedule practicing jokes in front of the mirror to chat with The Jewish Home.

Ashley, you’ve been in comedy for many years. When did you find out that you are “funny”?

My parents tell me that when I was three-years-old I would perform something I called “Rude News” while we waited for my brother’s school bus to come. This basically involved me sitting on a low chair we have in our front room and saying, in the style of an old-fashioned BBC news reader, things like “The Queen is currently sat on the toilet.” I can’t recall this myself but I think it’s pretty sophisticated for a three-year-old. Some may even say it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever done as well but I think that would be cruel of them.

So you’ve been funny for a while. Tell us about your career as a producer. It was amazing hashgacha pra-

tis. I had no idea of what I wanted to do with my life and then one Thursday evening I went for a drink with a couple of former teachers from high school. One of them said to me, “Why don’t you look in the media supplement of The Guardian newspaper?” I wasn’t a Guardian reader (it was, and still is, a very left-wing, antiZzionist newspaper) but he told me that the supplement was in Monday’s paper so four days later I bought The Guardian for the first time. And there was an advert that read, “Do You Have Funny Bones? The BBC need trainee comedy producers.” I applied on an off-chance and started work there ten weeks later. The advert was only in the paper that one week. In fact, I also bought the paper every Monday in those ten weeks

and didn’t even apply for another job! If that isn’t incredible enough, a week before I was due to start I was walking in London and bumped into someone called Matt Lucas who I had been in high school with but hadn’t seen for three or four years. I told him about my job and how we should do something and the direct result was a series called “Little Britain,” which is commercially the most successful comedy show the BBC has ever produced! It was the first thing I made at the BBC and it was all because I bumped into someone on the right day!

That’s unbelievable! Is there a “school” for comedy that you went to? No, there isn’t but I kind of went

The Week In News Feature

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

to the closest thing to it. I went to a really good high school called Haberdashers’ Aske’s in north London and the school has strangely produced something like 15 people currently involved in comedy either as performers or senior producers. Among them is not only Matt Lucas (Americans may know him best from “Bridesmaids” or “Doctor Who”) but also Sacha Baron Cohen who was four years above me.

Borat! He’s really funny. Where do you find your best material? Most of my comedy just comes from my daily life. Much of it is about my experiences as a baal teshuva, a lot comes from working in TV comedy, and a lot comes just from going to shul. I am blessed by going to a shul that provides enough material to keep me going for another few decades, I think. In fact, I think the Jewish people in general provide a lot of material so there is never any fear of running out of ideas.

You became frum twenty years ago. What made you change paths? There wasn’t any moment of epiphany. When we got married we received a year’s free membership at our local shul and so I thought I should go along and see what it was like. The rabbi was a very smiley man called David Lister and he came off the bimah and was so friendly I decided to go back the following week. The trouble is I am very bad at saying no to people so when he saw me and said, “We struggle with a minyan on Shabbos afternoons. Is there any way you could come back for Mincha?” I felt compelled to say yes. He obviously thought, “I’ve got one here” and then asked me if I was free on Sunday morning as well. By the end of the week I was going every day! Then I realized I better start learning so I would know what I was doing.

Since becoming frum, how has your career path changed? Have you encountered any challenges since then? Yes, lots of challenges but the great thing is that it’s provided me with a huge amount of material. For exam-

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

ple, I speak a lot in my show about the challenges of working in a very touchyfeely industry like the media when you don’t shake hands with members of the opposite gender apart from your spouse. The amazing thing is all these men in Hollywood are now getting in trouble for having been too handsy – and I’ve offended people for refusing to be! It’s also a very social industry and I can’t go out with people for a drink on a Friday night. I’ve invited them all to my shteeble for Kabbalas Shabbos but they’ve always turned me

sidewalk; each mobile is now a cellphone; and nappies are now diapers. I have even had to lose one of my favorite jokes of which the punchline is “on your head be it.” See, you don’t know what that means, do you? That’s why I have had to remove it. But trust me, it was hilarious. But the good news is the subject matter hasn’t had to be translated at all. Because as I’ve discovered over the past few years, Jews are pretty much the same all over the world. In fact, when videos of me performing have

The Jewish people in general provide a lot of material so there is never any fear of running out of ideas.

down for some reason. I’m pretty sure it’s because they all daven nusach Ashkenaz and we daven nusach Sefard.

Yes, it’s certainly because of that. Ashley, you are English but have done stand-up in South Africa, Israel, and now in the United States. Does comedy differ depending on the country the audience is in? Do you have to tailor your act for different countries? Linguistically everything has to be adapted. Readers will be pleased to hear that I have been through the show with a fine toothcomb and every British word or phrase has been replaced. Every pavement is now a

been posted online, many people have commented, “Wow, I thought that was just a Crown Heights thing.” No, it turns out we triple park and leave the car with the hazard lights on everywhere! The Jewish obsession with sushi? Yep, that’s the same in Golders Green and Stamford Hill as it is in Flatbush and the Five Towns. Men all over the world go to work on the subway wearing a baseball hat to hide their kippah despite obliviously being Jewish. Shuls have the same characters everywhere, from the security obsessives to that man who thinks he’s really interesting because he always wears a bowtie Friday night. We even have the same hand gestures through-


out the world for hagba, gelilah and opening and closing the Aron. It doesn’t matter what language they speak, go into any shul and if someone does one of those signs at you, you’ll know exactly what he means.

How do you prepare for a show? This normally involves me rehearsing in front of my wife who doesn’t even smile, let alone laugh. At the end I ask, “What did you think?” She normally replies politely, “Well, you know I’m not a good judge.” After I’ve performed for her no other audience can be as tough.

Who is your favorite Jewish comedian? Me. Next question.

Do you have any advice for aspiring comedians? Well, if they are Jewish I would talk to them about hasagas gevul and that since I am already doing this then it is forbidden for them to infringe on my parnassa. Tough luck, I’m afraid: I got here first, you now need me to either retire or die. Sorry, I didn’t write the halachos!

Your show is called “Strictly Unorthodox.” But aren’t you the only Orthodox comedian in the UK? I liked the name “Strictly Unorthodox” because I think it sums me up quite well. I am strictly orthodox but I am also unorthodox in several ways. I am definitely unorthodox for an orthodox Jew: there aren’t many who do what I do. But then I’m also unorthodox for a comedian because they don’t tend to look like me either and very unorthodox in the TV business walking through the BBC wearing a black hat and with my tzitzis hanging out. My wife and I are also quite unorthodox in many ways and have made unusual decisions like adopting our daughter with Down syndrome when we already had a houseful, including two autistic sons. Maybe we’re just crazy but I think unorthodox is a better adjective.

Ashley, we can’t wait to see your show next week! I’m sure it’ll keep us laughing all through Chanukah.



Emotional The Week InHealth News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

How High Is Your EQ? Rabbi Dov Heller, LMFT

I have long believed that a person’s ability to thrive rather than merely survive is dependent upon one’s ability to process one’s feelings. The only thing that can make life unbearable is unbearable feelings. A person with a high EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is able to tolerate uncomfortable and painful feelings, and can understand and make sense of them in order to make consistently good life decisions. Feelings offer invaluable information. An emotionally mature person becomes more and more curious about his or her feelings and less and less afraid of them. For the last six months, Sammy has been feeling lonely in his marriage of ten years. During this time, a woman in the office noticed that he was not himself and offered to talk to him. Sammy took her up on her offer to talk over some coffee. As he

opened up to her, an emotional connection developed. It wasn’t long before their relationship turned into something more than a friendship.

her the courage to share the truth with her husband which led to marriage counseling. After a year of counseling, their marriage was revitalized and back on track.

Compare this to the following scenario:

The cause of many self-destructive behaviors is our inability to tolerate emotional pain and process it. Disowned, painful feelings that are pushed out of our awareness almost always lead to selfdestructive consequences. To succeed in life, we must learn how to listen to our hearts. This principle is supported by our sages, who teach us in Pirkei Avos that one of the 48 ways to success in life is binat halev, which means to understand one’s heart.

Natasha has been feeling detached and alone in her marriage of ten years. She has tried to convince herself that everything is fine, but the loneliness just won’t go away. Also, in order to avoid acknowledging these feelings – which threaten her marital stability – she has tried to distract herself. One day, a man in the office noticed that she was looking down and asked what was bothering her. She started to open up to him and then realized this was the wrong thing to do. Instead, she chose to talk to a close friend. As she began to face her unbearable loneliness, she began to understand why she felt so alone. She decided to see a professional. This gave

Feelings are our teachers. When we dismiss them, we run the risk of harming our emotional and spiritual well-being. Here are three questions to ask ourselves in order to help us process uncomfortable

feelings: 1. What am I feeling? Name the feeling or feelings and take full ownership of it/them. Remember, the feelings I experience are mine whether I like them or not. 2. Why am I feeling this? Try to make sense of the meaning of the feeling. 3. What is the best thing I can do about this feeling? The more we practice listening to our feelings, the more tolerable they become. And the more we are able to tolerate and make sense of our feelings, the more alive and empowered we feel.

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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The Week In News

The Week In News

A Not-So-Secret U.S. Army Base in Australia Where you’d least expect or where you’re least likely to stumble upon it, there

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

is a U.S. top-secret U.S. military base in the outback of Australia. The base, known as the Joint Defense Facility Pine Gap, controlls satellites that gather information used to pinpoint airstrikes around the world and target nuclear weapons, as revealed in leaked National Security Agency documents. Hundreds of Australians and Americans head to Pine Gap every day to work. Last year, Australian antiwar protesters demonstrated at the facility located in the middle of the desert and were arrested. Six of those arrested were convicted of breaching the site’s security perimeter by Australian courts and face seven years in prison. Recent headlines have thrown the facility

back into the spotlight although the Pentagon would rather it remain in the shadows. The facility was originally revealed in documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the American intelligence contractor turned whistle-blower. Pine Gap is described as playing “a significant role in supporting both intelligence activities and military operations.” Together with the NSA, Pine Gap has been used as a command post for two recent missions. One of them, named M7600, involved at least two spy satellites and was said in a secret 2005 document to provide “continuous coverage of the majority of the Eurasian landmass and Africa.” This initia-

tive was later upgraded as part of a second mission, named M8300, which involved “a four satellite constellation” and covered the former Soviet Union, China, South Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and territories in the Atlantic Ocean.

The satellites are described as being “geosynchronous,” which means they are likely positioned high in orbit at more than 20,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. They are equipped with powerful surveillance technology used to monitor wireless communications on the ground, such as those sent and received by cellphones, radios, and satellite uplinks. They gather “strategic and tactical military, scientific, political, and economic communications signals,” according to the documents, and also keep tabs on missile or weapons tests in targeted countries, sweep up intelligence from foreign military data systems, and provide surveillance support to U.S. forces.


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A young Russian computer hacker has landed in the middle of an extradition battle between the United States and Russia. Yevgeniy Nikulin, 29, was arrested in Prague in October 2016 after an international arrest warrant was issued for him by the United States. Nikulin, who was on vacation with his friend, was indicted on grand jury charges of computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft, among other offenses. He is alleged to have masterminded a massive hacking of multiple social networks including LinkedIn and Dropbox. Nikulin has denied all charges. If he is convicted, he could face up to 50 years in jail and over $2 million in fines. After he was arrested, Russian authorities also sought his extradition back to Russia. Nikulin is alleged to have stolen $3,450 from an online money transfer company in 2009, and Russia wants him returned home to face justice before facing any other foreign charges. Although the Russian charge is almost non-existent in comparison to the LinkedIn hack which may have compromised the credentials of 100 million users, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow has said that it is “actively working with the Czech authorities to prevent the extradition of a Russian citizen to the United States.” Nikulin has spent the past 13 months

The Week In News

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

inside Pankrac prison in Prague. A Czech High Court rejected his lawyer’s argument that he should not be sent to the United States and so the burden of where to send him now falls on the justice minister, Robert Pelikan. Pelikan will now decide whether to send him to the United States or Russia and will likely have to face the wrath of the losing party.

sel was attacked. Relatives of those on board have already begun to mourn the crew members. The submarine would only have enough oxygen to last one week without surfacing. “At this point, the truth is I have no hope that they will come back,” said Maria Villareal, the mother of one crew member.

Missing Crew of Argentinian Sub A submarine went missing from the Argentinian navy more than a week ago. The ARA San Juan and its crew of 44 members have not been heard from since November 15. They were supposed to be at the Mar del Plata naval base, about 250 miles southeast of Buenos Aires, but have not been seen by radar or any other means of detection. Officials have reported that a sound was detected about 30 miles from the submarine’s last known location which is consistent with an underwater explosion, although there is no definitive proof that the submarine had any sort of complication or damage. Enrique Balbi, a spokesman for the Argentine navy, said that the sound was “singular, short, violent and non-nuclear” and “consistent with an explosion.” He also said that there is no evidence the ves-

Many countries, including the United States, Britain, Brazil, and Chile, sent search and rescue help. The search had been held up by winds near 50 MPH and 20-foot waves. According to a navy spokesman, water entered the snorkel of the submarine and caused one of its batteries to short-circuit before the vessel went missing. Additionally, the captain had reported an electrical problem in a battery compartment. He had later communicated by satellite phone that the problem had been contained.


Local ISIS operatives consider Sufis to be heretics and demanded of the local elders that the villagers refrain from holding Sufi rituals on Muhammad’s birthday. ISIS considers Sufis to be heretics and their punishment for those who bear that label is death. Many accounts are now coming out detailing how ISIS had been planning the attack for some time. Militants had warned residents days before the attack that they should not cooperate with local security forces. They also gave out pamphlets sev-

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eral times ordering villagers to abandon Sufism and not to cooperate with security agents. Despite the obvious signs that ISIS is behind the attack, the terror group has not officially claimed the recent attack. Egyptian military and security forces have been battling ISIS in the northern Sinai region at great cost. Thousands have been arrested for being Islamists and critics of the government. ISIS has fought back by bombing multiple churches in Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. ISIS is also believed to be behind the downing of a Russian passenger jet in 2016, which crippled the tourism revenue of Egypt. On orders from President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt observed three days of mourning for the slaughter that unfolded just as an imam was about to deliver his sermon. Shouting Allahu Akbar, or G-d is great, 25 to 30 militants had opened fire and tossed grenades at the estimated 500 people inside the mosque. In a televised address, the Egyptian leader vowed to use “brute force” against the attackers, who fled the mosque as they fired shots at ambulance workers arriving on the scene to help the victims of the attack. “The armed forces and police will forcefully take revenge for our martyred sons and restore security and stability in the short period ahead,” Sissi said. He ordered a mausoleum be built in memory of the victims of the attack. The attack on the Al-Rawdah mosque


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is the first major militant attack on a Muslim congregation in recent years. Over 500 men and boys were in the mosque during the attack. 27 of the dead were children.

Papua Immigration Camp Emptied

The last of the asylum seekers hoping to gain entry to Australia that had come to Papua New Guinea have been relocated. For the past three weeks, asylum seekers have been refusing to leave a closed immigration camp out of fear that they would face violence under alternative accommodations. Police Chief Superintendent Domonique Kakas announced that police and immigration officials were able to remove

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

all 378 men from the Manus Island camp that they were staying in. “Everybody’s gone. Everybody got on the buses, they packed their bags and they moved over,” Kakas announced. Critics of the police say that force was used to make the asylum seekers leave Manus. Videos have been leaked showing officials using wooden sticks in the camp to “motivate” the residents. Water, power, and food supplies have stopped coming into the camp, as it officially closed on October 31. Papua New Guinea houses thousands of asylum seekers who were hoping to gain entry to Australia. The continent-country has a policy of not accepting any refugees by boat as it hopes to deter people from making the dangerous ocean voyage from Indonesia. Australia pays Papua New Guinea and the small nation of Nauru to hold the thousands that are seeking asylum in Australia. Australian authorities have had many problems with the refugees that are seeking to live there. Australian Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton accuse asylum seekers of sabotaging backup generators and water infrastructure at the new accommodations provided by Australia in Lorengau. “What is clear is that there has been an organized attempt to provoke trouble and disrupt the new facilities,” Dutton said.

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Lebanese PM’s Resignation on Hold

The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was “suspended” two weeks after it was announced. Hariri said last week that President Michel Aoun had asked him to “put it on hold ahead of further consultations.” The two men spoke after Hariri returned from Saudi Arabia, where he had announced his resignation to the world on November 4. After resigning in the kingdom, Hariri remained there for two weeks amid swirling rumors and also traveled to Abu Dhabi, Paris, and Cairo. “Today I presented my resignation to his Excellency the president, and he asked

me to temporarily suspend submitting it and to put it on hold ahead of further consultations on the reasons for it,” Mr. Hariri said after his meeting at the Baabda presidential palace. “I expressed my agreement to this request, in the hope that it will form a serious basis for a responsible dialogue.” Hariri then said that Lebanon needs “exceptional effort from everyone” at this time in order to “protect it in confronting dangers and challenges.” He reiterated Lebanon’s state policy of “dissociation regarding wars, external struggles, regional disputes and everything that harms internal stability.” Apparently, he was referencing Hezbollah, which is part of the national unity government he formed last year. Many speculated that the announcement of Hariri’s resignation was made in Saudi Arabia because the Saudi Arabian government pressured him to resign in order to bring about the collapse of the Lebanese government. Saudi Arabia and Iran are at odds with each other and Lebanon is now seen as a key battleground in the dispute. In his resignation address, Hariri accused Iran of sowing “discord, devastation and destruction” in the region. He also said he feared an assassination attempt was being plotted against him.

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NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

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Russia Behind U.S. Attacks in Cuba?

Months ago it was revealed that U.S. diplomats stationed in Cuba were being assaulted by acoustic attacks, hearing loud, high-pitched sounds and subsequently suffering from hearing loss and headaches. Since then, the U.S. has pulled non-essential diplomats from Havana. No definitive source was found to be responsible for the attacks. Now it has been revealed that a USAID officer based in the American embassy in Uzbekistan suffered from at least one acoustic attack similar to those in Cuba. The revelation points fingers that the attacks may be coming from a source in Russia. The first Cuba attacks began in November 2016, and the last report of an attack was in August 2017. Victims of the

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 | The Jewish Home

attacks in Cuba describe hearing a loud, high-pitched sound often described like a hiss of cicadas or crickets in unusual places—often in their homes. Victims of the attacks in Cuba were diagnosed with hearing loss, brain injuries, cognitive issues and other conditions. USAID, a U.S. government agency that provides foreign assistance in more than 100 countries, maintains its Uzbekistan headquarters office at the American embassy in Tashkent. Its work focuses mainly on agriculture and trade. Although USAID is an independent agency, it works closely with the State Department. The Central Asian country was once part of the USSR. It declared independence in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union, Although it maintains strong ties with Russia. The two countries held joint military drills in October, their first together in 12 years. Uzbekistan is also considering re-joining the Russian-led military bloc Collective Security Treaty Organization, from which it withdrew in 2012 under long-time President Islom Karimov who died in 2016. Russia has sought to capitalize on relations with Karimov’s successor, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, at the expense of the U.S. Russia has denied any role in the acoustic attacks.

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