Jewish Home LA - 12-14-17

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The Week In News

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with our patients, friends and family. Since 1902, we’ve grown alongside the city of Los Angeles and have proudly served this community. Today, our commitment to you has not changed as we continue to bring compassionate care to you and your family. Happy Chanukah

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DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



The Week In News


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

JEWISH THOUGHT Living with the Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Torah Musings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 The Weekly Daf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

FEATURE The Story of Chanukah Where it Really Happened. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

LIFESTYLES Book Review: Spies & Scholars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Humor: Giving Me the Shivers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Interview with Comedian Marc Weiner. . . . . . . . . . 24 Ask the Attorney. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Forgotten Heroes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

NEWS Global. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 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



DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Dear readers, It’s almost a joke: Whichever yom tov we’re celebrating, it’s “the most important yom tov of all.” Can it be true? I think so. Back in my yeshiva days, there was a teacher who would explain it as follows: Ask someone in the morning what the best meal is, and they’ll say, “A bowl of cereal,” or “A cup of coffee and a danish.” Ask them at lunch, and they’ll answer, “It’s gotta be a fresh tuna sandwich.” Supper? “A nice, grilled steak.” So which is it? It depends on what’s needed at that time. Breakfast has its particular hunger; lunch, a separate one; and supper, it’s very own. It’s the same with our calendar. There is nothing like Shabbos. Rosh Hashanah sets the tone. Sukkos is Hashem’s embrace. And Chanukah with its literal lights of mitzvah is the purpose of it all. Each appears right when we need it, to satisfy the spiritual hunger of that time. Currently, there is nothing the world can use more than the light and warmth of G-dliness. Everything seems so empty, secular, and politicized. Gathering around the menorah and gazing at its eternal message of purity gives us the strength in this spiritual, if not physical, winter. May the candle lights give us the spiritual energy to continue lighting up the night until the dawn of the time, “When the night shall shine like day.” Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos Chanukah,


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

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TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

24th Annual Etta Israel Banquet Honors Supporters Tova Abady

Etta Israel held its 24th annual Etta Gala banquet at the Beverly Hilton on November 29th. The event was organized by chairperson Cathy Gott. Emmy award-winning actor Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) served as host. Whitford told the audience, “Etta is an incredible organization that enables individuals with disabilities to live fully enriched, independent, and active lives.”

He continued, “The thing about Etta is the warmth from everyone from staff to volunteers, to clients and families. The faces you see all around me represent the best part of humanity.” Banquet guests enjoyed included a photo opportunity with L.A. Dodgers star Joc Pederson and his brother Champ; a silent auction of exquisite jewelry and handbags by generous donors; Portia Iverson’s

decorative plates; a Dodger jersey signed by Sandy Koufax; and beautiful note cards, canvas prints, pillows, serving trays, and more designed by Etta residents. Etta clients handed swag bags to each guest. One of many surprises was a performance by singer-songwriter and recording engineer Scott Siegel, who wowed the audience by performing one of the 600 songs he has written. Scott was diagnosed with


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Joc Pederson surrounded by a number of the ETTA Youth Board members


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autism at age 13, but he said that he did not pay much attention to it because it did not have any significant meaning to him. One of the most beloved programs at Etta is their summer camp which takes place thanks to the generosity of Jonathan and Miriam Istrin and Susie and Fred Toczek. They established the Summer@ Etta Scholarship Fund in memory of their parents Ida Toczek, z”l, Barry Saltzman, z”l, and Leslie Istrin, z”l. Jonathan Istrin talked about a key aspiration of Etta clients, which is to get a job. He suggested that people in the crowd and the community follow his example and hire people with disabilities. The Etty Award was presented to members of Etta’s professional staff, Leah Schacter and Josh Taff. Josh Taff said his brother Avi invited him to join him to work at Etta, and after only one day on the job he knew Etta would be his home. Josh has been an outstanding leader there for more than 18 years. He manages the Reisman family group home and said his clients teach him every single day about being joyful. Josh said his co-worker and fellow honoree Leah “leads by example pushing the envelope each and every day to help individuals achieve their potential.” He said that you can learn from Leah that nothing is impossible and when you dream something, it can become reality and suggested that everyone come and observe Leah in action so that their lives will be forever changed. The Moselle and Lazare Hendeles Youth Leadership Award was given to high school students Ellie Zisblatt, Rachel Leibowitz, Alana Bess, Jake Schochet, Josh Gurstein, Gavriel Menlo, Hayden Klein, and Yosee Kreitenberg. These young peo-

TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

ple, guided by Etta staff, donate their time and are given full responsibility to plan year-round events to unite mainstream teens with special needs participants. (Moselle Hendeles, for whom the award is named, unfortunately passed away the following week at the age of 97.) The Community Philanthropy Award was given to the Pujols Family Foundation, created in 2005 for its commitment to children with disabilities and special needs. Albert Pujols is a professional baseball player for the Los Angeles Angels who holds the record for the sixth most season with 40-plus home runs in the MLB. Accepting the award was L.A. Dodger Joc Pederson and his older brother Champ (who has Down Syndrome). Champ is

an assistant in the finance department of the Golden State Warriors and a support employee for Apple in Northern California. He spoke fondly of Albert Pujols and said, “Our organizations working side by side can continue to make an impact in the world around us.” A special message came in the form of a video from the TV show The Big Bang Theory. Mayim Bialik, an actress and neuroscientist, spoke about autism as her character Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler. She said that the Centers for Disease Control report that one child in 68 is on the autism spectrum. However, spending time with Etta, she has seen a community of people coming together that defies all scientific standards. Bradley Whitford thanked Peter

Roth, President of Warner Brothers Television, who arranged the video and was in the audience. The Builders of Tomorrow Award went to the Dan and Lorraine Freeberg Foundation. The Foundation generously recently donated an additional van for Etta clients to travel to programs throughout Los Angeles. Accepting the award were Mr. Dan Freeberg and James Geary. Michael Held, Founder and Director of Etta, said he was proud of all that has been accomplished since Etta was established in 1993 in honor of Mrs. Etta Israel. Held showed a video about what the future holds for Etta. The next step will be construction of “The Village,” supportive independent apartments within the frame-

work of a community. The complex will contain 5-10,000 feet of retail and office space on the ground floor, with three or four floors of residential space on top. The complex will contain a state-of-the-art kitchen, a movie theatre, library, fitness center, garden, and walking areas. Apartment size would vary from 500 to 700 square feet, and each unit would contain its own kitchen or kitchenette, living room, and bedroom. These homes would be places Etta clients could proudly invite family and friends. Community help is needed to make this spectacular vision of a self-sufficient inspirational community for Etta clients a reality.

Friendship Circle Took Children with Special Needs “To Mexico” This Chanukah tire group. The Friendship Circle of Los Angeles was created in 2003 to address the social needs of Jewish children with special challenges. Its mission is to provide these children opportunities to engage with others through social, recreational, and educational experiences. At the heart of all Friendship Circle of Los Angeles brought the Chanukah spirit to the Los Angeles special needs community with a “Chanukah in Mexico” themed celebration on December 10th. Event took place at their location at 1952 South Robertson Boulevard. Chanukah in Mexico marked the beginning of the Chanukah holiday as over 350 participants celebrated together. The children, families, friends, and teen volunteers enjoyed themed crafts, music, entertainment, a Mexican buffet, and a workshop for the parents. “It was an amazing way for the community to come together and celebrate Chanukah and the love they have for the children.” commented Arianna Faramarzi, a Friendship Circle volunteer. Each child that attended was paired with a teen volunteer for the ultimate inclusive experience that brought another

dimension of joy and friendship to the holiday, as well as connecting them with their Jewish roots. “What made the event even more special was different organizations of the Los Angeles Jewish community coming together to share joy and friendship with the children and their families.” said Chanie Lazaroff, Program Coordinator and Community Liaison at Friendship Circle. “The Lev Foundation and generous individual donors purchased gifts for our children who have special needs and their siblings. Teens from a local BBYO chapter and Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s WBTYhelps came to volunteer as a group and gave of themselves to make the event truly a day to remember.” The event culminated with a menorah lighting by Rabbi Michy RavNoy, Executive Director of Friendship Circle, and Chanukah songs with the en-

Friendship Circle programs are teen volunteers from over 60 schools around L.A. that are paired with participating children to provide mentorship and friendship. To find out more about the Friendship Circle and its many programs, please call 310-280-0955 or visit their website at


TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Learning, Living, and Loving Torah: the OU West Coast Convention Yehudis Litvak

The annual Orthodox Union (OU) West Coast Convention took place over the weekend of November 30th through December 3rd. The theme of this year’s convention was Learn, Live, Love Torah. The numerous events offered throughout the convention brought together hundreds of people eager to learn Torah and to be inspired by the dynamic guest speakers. Among the events was a Sunday morning program, Learn LA, which came to Los Angeles for the first time. The convention opened with a keynote dinner and address by Charlie Harary on the subject of Personal Growth, Entrepreneurship, Social Change and Spirituality. The keynote event took place in the recently-completed building of the Young Israel of Century City (YICC) – it was, in fact, the first event hosted by YICC in their new building. Rabbi Elazar Muskin warmly welcomed the attendees. The keynote speaker, Charlie Harary, told a story about his encounter with a Christian community that was eager to hear from a Jew because they believe that Jews are here to bring G-d to the world. “Are our young people brimming with revealing G-d to the world?” Mr. Harary asked. He spoke about the story of Chanukah and the “battle of schema” that took place between the rationally-minded Greeks and the spiritually oriented Jews. Schema, he explained, is our perception of reality, which influences how we see everything in life. While the Greek schema revolved around the physical world, the Jewish schema focuses on the unity of G-d. “Everything we see is a subset of the Divine,” he said. “People aren’t bodies; people are congealed souls.” He emphasized that the message of Chanukah is to never forget our spirituality. “G-d wants us to live in the world and make it better,” he said. “Remember – we are here to reveal G-d.”

On Friday, the convention’s guest speakers visited four local high schools and were very well received by students and faculty. In fact, YULA Girls High School invited its speaker, Mrs. Michal Horowitz of Long Island, New York, to come back for another event. On Friday night, a tisch and oneg Shabbos was hosted by Adas Torah. The tisch drew about 150 men and women from all over the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. The participants enjoyed spirited singing and inspiring Torah thoughts by Rabbis Shay Schachter, Moshe Hauer, and David Fohrman. On Shabbos day, fourteen shuls throughout the Greater Los Angeles hosted the guest speakers as scholars-in-residence. On Motzaei Shabbos, three different events took place at the same time: a trustees reception with Charlie Harary, an event for young professionals with Rabbi Steven Weil, and a community melaveh malkah at the LINK Kollel and Shul. On Sunday morning, the Learn LA event at Beth Jacob offered three sessions of several parallel tracks of lectures by twelve guest speakers. One of the tracks, Current Controversies in Halacha, covered the subjects of halachos of tuition, embarrassment in halachah, and marijuana in halachah. Another track focused on strengthening Torah values, and another provided new insights into the Tanach. Rabbi Herschel Schachter, a prominent posek and Rosh Kollel at Yeshiva University, spoke about tuition. He emphasized the importance of transparency in school administration. While no school is making a profit, he said, “members of the board should be entitled to see how the money is allocated.” Rabbi Schachter then answered numerous questions from the audience regarding the

obligations of parents and grandparents in paying tuition, creating new schools, homeschooling, and special education. When asked whether the high cost of tuition should be a factor in limiting family size, he answered that such a consideration is “not justified.” “I have nine children, and I have never felt guilty about accepting tuition breaks,” said Rabbi Schachter. “One shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask for a tuition break in order to have more children.” Another segment of the Learn LA program was a legal seminar, Trial by Social Media: A Torah and Secular View, led by Lou Shapiro, Esq.; Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Esq.; and Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn. The seminar was attended by about fifty local attorneys. Mr. Shapiro spoke about electronic harassment and cyber stalking in civil law. He told about a positive consequence of social media exposure – the case of an agunah who posted about her predicament on social media. The post went viral and caused much embarrassment to the recalcitrant husband, who relented and gave the woman a get. He also spoke about the limitations of bringing online crimes to court. Rabbi Pruzansky spoke about the current trend of accusations that are posted on social media without due investigation or trial. Whether the accused admit their guilt or deny it, their reputation is ruined. The accused are not given the presumption of innocence or the opportunity to defend themselves. Rabbi Pruzansky discussed several cases, both contemporary and those found in classic shaalos and teshuvos. He concluded with practical guidance, reminding the listeners that even if the legal system is powerless to punish the criminal, “there is a Judge and there is justice.” Rabbi Einhorn spoke about the ubiquitous technology and the need to “use it to elevate people, to raise them up – because Torah is forever.” Another segment of the program was the Rebbetzins’ Conference, lead by Rabbi Shmuel and Dr. Malka Ismach. The primary topic was parenting, with the goal of giving chizzuk to the local rebbetzins and providing them with the opportunity for camaraderie and support. Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, OU West Coast Director, says that this year’s conference generated an unprecedented level of engagement.

Keynote address by Mr. Charlie Harary

Rabbi Dovid Fohrman

Rabbi Hershel Schachter

Altogether, the conference reached thousands of people, with close to 400 people attending the Learn LA program, which Rabbi Kalinsky called “the apex” of the conference. Overall, the conference brought much chizzuk and inspiration to the Los Angeles Jewish community, and the guest speakers were in turn inspired by the enthusiasm of their audience. “The speakers felt that there was a tremendous connection amongst the people,” says Rabbi Kalinsky. “People want to learn, want to be inspired. The topic was meaningful. The speakers were easily accessible, creating a feeling of closeness.”

Partake in These Special Nights of Kiddushah Communicated The nights of Chanukah twinkle with a special glow. On eight otherwise-ordinary winter weeknights, you gather around the candles and sing and dance and infuse your nights with holiness and elevation. You gaze at those little flames, stretched upwards, seeming to implore, reach a little higher. And on these sparkling nights, you’re inspired to do more, to be more. You long to make your every night become something more than the ordinary, to make every night glow like these Chanukah nights. And you think of those upstanding talmidei chachamim of Kollel Chatzos, who merit to imbue every night – not just the Chanukah nights – with aliyah and

Torah and kedushah. And you’re jealous, somewhat, of their ability to connect and to come close and to accomplish big things, night after night. But then you think of the message of Chanukah. That every Yid, in every galus, has the opportunity to join Hashem’s Chosen army and become a responder to the call of “Mi laShem eilai!” And you decide, “I, too, want to have a part of this special zechus. I, too, want to partake in this momentous zechus of all-night limud haTorah.” You can do it. Kollel Chatzos invites Yidden, worldwide, to receive a share in the ohr haTorah of the Chanukah nights and partner with

their limud haTorah. Kollel Chatzos knows that this yom tov of light sometimes highlights the dark difficulties of our realities. It sometimes underscores how desperately Yidden are waiting for yeshuos. And Kollel Chatzos realizes limud haTorah’s tremendous ko’ach to bring forth yeshuos. Especially on Zos Chanukah, when the chasima is about to be finalized and Yidden have one last chance to inscribe themselves for yeshuos and brachos. So, on the night of Zos Chanukah, the talmidei chachamim will daven in eight mekomos of tefillah and pierce shaarei shamayim on behalf of the kollel partners who are waiting for a yeshua. These meko-

mos include the kever of the Chashmonaim in Modiin, Rabi Yonason ben Uziel in Amuka, Rabi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron, and the Arizal in Tzfas. You can join them. While people are usually preoccupied during Chanukah with extra family obligations and gatherings, the Kollel Chatzos talmidei chachamim are awake throughout the Chanukah nights with the same commitment as usual. In fact, these nights are imbued with an extra fervor, in honor of the holy yom tov and the many esteemed partners.

Photo Credit: Lew Groner Photography


DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

A Musical Night for Jewish Women Yehudis Litvak

On Motzaei Shabbos, December 2nd, a Night of Beautiful Music and Niggunim for Women was held at Maayon Yisroel Chassidic Center. The event, in honor of all Kislev birthdays, was organized by Mushka Lightstone, whose birthday is also in Kislev. The special guest, Ada Pasternak – a world-class singer, songwriter, and violinist – performed for about 50 female attendees and invited them to sing along.

“Music is the pen of the soul,” says Mushka Lightstone. She explains that her mother has Alzheimer’s disease and doesn’t remember much, but the part of the brain that is responsible for music is not affected by Alzheimer’s. During her recent visit to her mother, Mushka noticed how much her mother enjoys music and singing, and she was inspired to create more opportunities for frum women to get to-

gether and experience world-class music. Mushka’s goal is to “create an environment where women feel free to sing and express themselves.” The Kislev music night was the first such event, and it was very well received, says Mushka. The guest musician, Ada Pasternak, “spoke straight from the heart.” She performed both classic pieces and her own original songs.

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Ada is a talented young musician, a graduate of the Berklee School of Music, whose parents are both conservatory violinists. She began playing violin at age six. Ada recently moved to Los Angeles in order to collaborate with a local band. At the music night, Ada’s performance was accompanied by a local pianist, Emily Kohn. The two musicians met for the first time right before the event, but they worked well together. Another local musician, Ruthy Abinun, performed two songs on the piano, one of them original. She also spoke about using song and music to get close to Hashem. In addition, a local artist, Hadar Blodgett, showcased her art. Mushka says that Hadar’s art fit perfectly into the theme of the evening because “she fuses concepts in Torah with lyricism, color, and form, depicting the women’s role bringing in Mashiach. Hadar’s art is very feminine, and according to kabbalah, it is the women, malchus, who will rise in the end of days.” In between the music, three women, Rebbetzin Sterna Citron, Chana Shemtov, and Jody Leanse, shared divrei Torah. “It was a marvelous evening, a totally enjoyable and unique event, pleasing to all the senses,” says Mrs. Citron. She explains that everything was very tastefully and artfully decorated, and that Ada was “absolutely amazing on the violin.” Mushka says that the event was very successful and that more musical events are in the planning. She would like to donate part of the proceeds to Alzheimer’s research.

TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home


Photo Credit: Family Photo Point

Grand Menorah Lighting At The Grove On The First Night Of Chanukah. Hosted By Rabbi Zalmy and Rebbetzin Chana Fogelman Of Village Synagogue

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Living with In theNews Times The Week

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

It is difficult to encapsulate the life of an adam gadol in a few words. He was exceedingly weak for the last few months of his life, yet Klal Yisroel davened that he be given strength and the tefillos were answered. Every time he recuperated from illness, legions of people rejoiced. Born 104 years ago in the city of Brisk, a century of Torah and gadlus came to end on Erev Chanukah. Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman was a throwback to a bygone world. He derived no enjoyment from olam hazeh. His life was Torah. His being was Torah. He lived a simple life in a simple apartment. All he did all day was learn Torah, perform mitzvos and help people. What negius can a person like that have? It is no wonder that he had siyata diShmaya. Rav Aharon Leib sought no earthly pleasures for himself. He ate the most meager portions of food and sat on chairs without backs. He was a man who literally spent all his time learning Torah and providing guidance for his followers. During his American trip, he undertook such strenuous travel for someone his age, and people were trying to figure out his agenda. His agenda was to strengthen Torah. His agenda was to support people who are learning Torah. His agenda was to support people who lead a Torah lifestyle. People were unused to such purity of intention. They looked at him like they were observing a malach. Just by beholding him, they got chizuk. Just by hearing him speak, they were inspired. And those who had the privilege to speak to him for a few minutes walked away with even greater chizuk. It was inspiring to be in the company a person and realizing that at his age, he left his home for a two-week trip to strange cities solely to be mechazeik fellow Jews. How uplifting it was to stand before a man who was an exalted eved Hashem. When observed in the midst of the hubbub surrounding him, and considering the fact that he was oblivious to the spotlight,

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Remembering Rav Aharon Leib zt”l it was obvious that he was an exceedingly modest person. He taught us all that it really is possible to sit in your corner and learn Torah all day, and to live a life without luxuries and be content. My grandfather, Rav Leizer Levin zt”l, was a talmid of the Chofetz Chaim zt”l. There is some dispute over what the Chofetz Chaim looked like and if he indeed bore any resemblance to the popular, widely distributed picture of him. I once asked my grandfather what his rebbi looked like - meaning, did he look like the picture? It was many years ago. I was very young, my language skills were poor, and my zaide didn’t understand that I was asking about that picture. It didn’t matter, because his answer taught a great lesson nonetheless. I still remember his grandfatherly words as he gently held my hand, patted my cheek, and said, “Az men hut nit gevust hut ehr oisgezen vi ah poshuter Yid un men hut gornit gekent zen, uber az men hut gevust, hut men gekent zen alles. If you didn’t know who he was, he looked to you like a simple Jew, but if you knew who he was, then you were able to see that every action he did was special.” Those words rang in my ears as I observed Rav Aharon Leib prior to the Shabbos he spent in Monsey. I was allowed into the small guest house where he was staying to ask him some shailos. I walked in behind him, and as he passed the small kitchen, I noticed that he stopped to look at the six small Israeli lachmaniyot (bread rolls) on the kitchen table. He turned to his attendant and asked what they were for. The answer was that they were for “lechem mishnah heint bei nacht.” The aged rosh yeshiva, who had thousands buzzing about him wherever he turned in this country, turned to the attendant and asked, “Uber vos darft men azoi fil? Why do we need so many?” The attendant answered that they were there in case others would join them for the meal. They moved into the next room, where another man approached the rosh yeshiva to ask about something that baffled him.

When Rav Aharon Leib was visiting the Skverer Rebbe, a bowl of fruit was set before him on the rebbe’s table, and as is customary, the rosh yeshiva was asked to make a brocha. He made a ha’eitz and, to the surprise of those observing him, ate only half of a grape. “What’s the reason for this?” they asked him. Rav Aharon Leib answered that a grape is a beryah, and eating a whole grape presents a problem regarding a brocha acharona. So he only ate half of the grape. The conversations were simple and straightforward, not meant to impress anyone. They were beautiful in their simplicity. He was really wondering why they needed so many lachmaniyot. He had a bowlful of mouth-watering fruit set in front of him and all he ate was half a grape. “Az men hut nit gevust hut ehr oisgezen vi ah poshuter Yid un men hut gornit gekent zen, uber az men hut gevust, hut men gekent zen alles.” And I thought to myself: Why did he come? And suddenly, I understood. He came to show us that it is possible to lead a life of pashtus, of prishus, of kedusha, and of shalom. He demonstrates the power of these values to command the respect and allegiance of tens of thousands of Jews. The person for whom thousands had lined the streets to welcome him here was wondering why he needed six lachmaniyot. A person who had no desire to eat more than half a grape had so much to teach us without even saying a word. He traveled to America and other countries for the same reason the Chofetz Chaim wrote that were he able to do so, he would fly any distance in order to save Jewish children. He came because people visited him in his humble apartment in a nondescript building in Bnei Brak with an important message. As they walked in, he was seated on a stool at his old table, poring over piles of seforim in a room that hadn’t been painted since he moved there decades prior. His visitors told him that he could be mechazeik the Jews of America. He came here because he took the

words of the Chofetz Chaim literally. He came because he believed the petitioners who felt that we can all benefit from being in the daled amos of an adam gadol who has as little benefit from this world as is humanly possible. And he came because he cared about us. If the Ribono Shel Olam kept him alive for 91 years and gave him the required strength, he told someone, he felt that he had an obligation to reach out and strengthen the Ribono Shel Olam’s children. He came because just as he constantly prodded others to accomplish more, he pushed himself to do more. The following incident shines a light on the nobility of the leader Klal Yisroel has lost. The Rechovot branch of Lev L’Achim under the leadership of Rav Zvi Schwartz had grown to encompass a plethora of programs. The central location, where shiurim and learning take place at all hours of the day and night, was so crowded that people had to reserve seats in the bais medrash. The Rechovot municipality, in recognition of Rav Schwartz’s devotion to the people of the city, granted him a plot of land for a community center for L’ev L’Achim. Construction of the building’s frame cost close to $500,000, at least half of which was donated by local baalei teshuvah in gratitude to Rav Schwartz. However, the Shinui party, in a joint effort with the Reform movement, filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging Rechovot’s right to allocate the land. The court, despite having no jurisdiction in municipal matters, overturned the decision and halted construction. Furious at the Supreme Court’s interference, the lawyer for the Rechovot municipality came up with a plan to counteract it. The plan was for Rav Schwartz to sue the city for breaking its commitment to him and causing him a financial loss. The city would “lose” the case and then have to reimburse him. Lacking the funds to meet its obligations, the municipality would resort to a legalism whereby land is used to pay a debt when the municipality lacks the funds. Thus, the municipality would turn over to Rav Schwartz the land originally intended for the Lev L’Achim center and construction could go forward. The brilliance of the plan pleased the city officials, who were intent on allowing Lev L’Achim to resume construction. But the plan had a hitch. Rav Schwartz doesn’t just blindly follow the law. He answers to a higher authority. Much to the consternation of the Rechovot City Board, Rav

Aharon Leib ruled against their plan of action for fear that it would result in a chillul Hashem. He said that the Left would showcase the shpiel as an example of religious subterfuge. “Even if it will delay construction, we had best pursue a different route,” Rav Aharon Leib told him. Such was his dedication to the truth and his concern for the repercussions of any action. Rav Schwartz desperately needed a building, but it would have to wait until it could be built properly without any hint of scandal, sheker, or chillul Hashem. When people followed the instructions of someone like Rav Aharon Leib, they were not merely agreeing with his ideas. They were expressing something much deeper. They were acknowledging that his instincts, thought processes, and reactions were rooted in Torah. They knew that his mind was attuned to the Torah’s will, and therefore his vision was refined enough to see beyond what the average person saw. Some yungeleit went to speak to Rav Aharon Leib. A member of their kollel was niftar, lo aleinu, and they wanted to be mekabel something in his memory. They had various ideas, but wanted the rosh yeshiva to suggest an appropriate kabbolah. Rav Aharon Leib listened to their proposals. Then he spoke. “Those are all very nice ideas, but I think you should try something else. You live in a relatively new neighborhood, where people continuously move in and new buildings are constantly rising. I think that everyone in the kehillah should sign a letter being mekabel that no matter what, they will avoid neighborly disputes. “Your upstairs neighbor might be doing construction and it will be very noisy for a few months. Your neighbor down the hall might close in his porch and obstruct your view. Instead of fighting, step back and contemplate the brocha that led to that construction. Think of a growing family that needs more room, or more space for an overworked mother, bringing menuchas hanefesh to another family. That kabbolah will be an eternal source of merit to your friend’s neshomah.” Always thinking about other people, that was Rav Aharon Leib. His lessons should guide us for many years to come. Rav Aharon Leib was once asked to give a mussar talk to a gathering of Bais Yaakov teachers. “Me?” he reacted with surprise. “I should speak to them? I should give them mussar? These are women who are up late at night preparing their classes, then tending to their children early in the morning. When they finally dress and give their children breakfast and get them off to school, they hurry off to teach. Six hours later, after a long morning of teaching, an-

swering, speaking and inspiring Yiddishe techter to Torah and yiras Shomayim, they rush home, where ‘di pitzkalech varten,’ the children eagerly wait for them. If they want to rest, the children don’t permit them to. Yes, they deserve chizuk, but I certainly can’t give them mussar.” Such was his tremendous humility. During the Gaza War, Lev L’Achim waged its own battle. Schools in the line of fire in the country’s southern region were closed, as the rocket-fire was fierce. Several intrepid Ashdod yungeleit traveled to Ashkelon and set up shop in a basement bomb shelter. They dispensed warmth, pizza and Torah. Local teenagers were so bored that they came and were intrigued. When the war ended and normal life resumed, the kids were still interested, so the yungeleit continued coming, creating a small afternoon bais medrash in Ashkelon. Slowly, they had some real talmidim, and finally they finished a masechta with the secular teenagers. On Chanukah, the talmidim, accompanied by their Lev L’Achim rabbeim, went to celebrate the siyum at the home of Rav Aharon Leib. The aged gadol was very moved by the sight of the teenagers in his home, proclaiming, “Hadran aloch,” to the first masechta they had learned. As the siyum ended, one of the boys asked Rav Aharon Leib for a brocha. He

asked that the resistance of his parents to his Torah study weaken. “In fact,” he told the rosh yeshiva, “if they knew where I was now, they would be furious. I told them that I was going to play soccer.” Rav Aharon Leib said to the boy, “You have answered a question of mine. Why, in Al Hanissim, do we thank Hashem for the milchamos? War is a necessary evil, as people get killed and hurt, and lives are destroyed. Why do we thank Hashem for the war, when, in fact, we should just be thanking Him for the nissim and niflaos? “But now, I have a new understanding. It is for milchamos such as yours - the wars waged by those determined teenagers - that we thank Hashem!” He cared for Klal Yisroel and loved Jews and Torah so much that he was joyous at such an occasion and learned a vital lesson from it. Many of the nisyonos that we face in our daily lives challenge us in the way we treat fellow Jews. Do we look down at other people or do we put ourselves in their shoes and respond compassionately? People who have power over others should consider how truly great individuals would respond to the nisyonos that they are facing. To carry forth our example, what would Rav Aharon Leib say if he were running a school and a person with a slightly different background applied for

admittance? The answer to that question is not a mystery. Several menahelim posed the question to him during one of his visits to America. He responded that had Avrohom Avinu come to register in their schools, he would not have been accepted. Despite the promise he radiated, they would have rejected him based on his father’s ineligibility to be a parent in their school. The director of a cheder in Beit Shemesh approached Rav Aharon Leib with a question. A current parent in the cheder remarried and wanted to enroll the children of his new wife in the school. The school rejected the new applicants because the hanhallah feared that they didn’t completely meet the mosad’s criteria. When the father refused to back down from his insistence that the children be accepted, Rav Aharon Leib was approached by the school’s principal for guidance in dealing with this stubborn individual, who refused to accept the school’s decision. Rav Aharon Leib was incredulous. He responded that it is gaavah to insist that you are better than the other person. To reject a child from a cheder for specious reasons is not a sign of greatness, but a sign of gaavah. What a powerful message and what an important lesson. Speaking at a kinnus to mark the completion of shivah for Rav Elazar Abuchatzeira who was killed by an intruder, Rav Aharon Leib remarked that a Jew who is desensitized to bein adam lachaveiro is capable of even bloodshed, Rachama litzlan. The rosh yeshiva traveled to Be’er Sheva to share this message. The second five dibros are bound with the first five, he said. Bein adam lachaveiro is as fundamental as bein adam laMakom. “We are in the last generations before Moshiach’s arrival,” said Rav Aharon Leib, “and we need to be extra careful with the honor of our friends. It’s forbidden to humiliate another person. We have to be careful to protect the kavod of each other… to pay attention to this issue of bein adam lachaveiro so that such incidents shouldn’t reoccur.” May we be zoche to go in his ways, to try to emulate him, to abhor evil and machlokes, and to avoid kavod and ta’avos olam hazeh, as he did. May we merit to learn more, to be marbeh kevod Shomayim, and to do good without ulterior motives. May the memory of Rav Aharon Leib remain with us. May his humble gaze inspire us. May his soft words punctuate our actions. And may his plea for greatness in Torah and emunah inspire us as we prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach tzidkeinu, bimeheirah biyomeinu.


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DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home


Torah Musings The Week In News

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Controlling Anger: When Deep Breathing Just Ain’t Enough Sarah Pachter

Imagine that it’s dinner time. The kids are wailing about the choice of menu, and everyone seems to be tired and out of control. Throw a tantrum or two into the mix, and you get the idea. Your anxiety is rising because you have a deadline for bedtime that evening, since you plan to host a class/ go to out to dinner/head to the theater/enjoy a date night with your spouse. Everyone is popping up and down, finding and playing with toys, even throwing balls around the house. Dinnertime resembles circus practice, and the children are ignoring your kind requests to sit and eat nicely. (This is purely hypothetical of course, for no one reading this article has experienced such madness…) Bedtime seems to drift further and further into an unreachable distance, and you just know you will be late getting out the door. On top of it all, you suspect that the babysitter won’t be able to get them to sleep, and you can see yourself returning home to more chaos. You are snapped back to reality by the screams of the children tattling on one another. “She hit me!” “He looked at me funny!” “She started it…” Suddenly, your eldest child picks up his fork to fling a ketchup-covered piece of steak. Before you can stop him, the juicy piece of meat flies across the table, splattering your cheek and hitting your skirt – let’s make it a white skirt, just for kicks. Of course, it was not aimed at you... Your anger is rising. With your redstained skirt and dirty face, this exhibit of

disrespect is too much for you to handle and you begin a tirade. Nothing can stop you now. You can’t even pause to think about last week’s article reminding you to breathe when experiencing anger (which is Anger-fighting Tool #1). Anger-fighting Tool #2: Imagine Other People Are Watching Suddenly, the doorbell rings. Everyone races to the door as you try to wipe off your face, smooth out your skirt, and clear your throat in order to welcome your guest. Despite all the anger you just felt churning inside, you are somehow able to calmly answer the door. “Hi, how can I help you?” The arrival of a friend, or even a stranger, forces us to pull ourselves together! If we look more deeply as to why this happens, we will find pride at our very core. We wouldn’t dare want a friend/acquaintance/stranger to see us lose control. This very concept is, in fact, an effective technique to controlling one’s wrath. Using our pride to overcome our anger is highly motivational, and can affect change in a real way. Research suggests one of the deep roots of anger is ego. We get upset when others don’t respect us. “How could they have done this to me?” We become frustrated over issues of money, which boil down to power and control – ego yet again. We feel angry because we are insecure, worrying, “What will X think?” Pride and ego are highly combustible, operating like oxygen to a flame.

However, it is possible to use pride to combat pride. If we cannot stop ourselves for a moment to breathe, knowing someone else is present forces us to halt our anger. Our pride keeps us in check, because we don’t want a perfect stranger to watch us lose it and then think less of us. I was once upset about my son ruining my dress while a babysitter was at our house. Why was I so upset about the dress? Because of pride – I couldn’t possibly wear a stained dress in public. Knowing that a non-family member was in our home gave me the strength to control myself. In other words, protecting my pride by not losing my cool in front of the babysitter helped me overcome the anger I felt over the dress. A teacher of mine once shared that she uses a visualization technique to control her anger. She pretends students are in her home! This actually works, and you can do it, too. Imagine someone else is right there watching you. Doing so can help with the duration and intensity of your anger, as well as its expression. If you have cameras in your home, you can watch how you interact with your family in this candid manner. Even if the sound is not recorded, seeing our own body language is eye-opening and has the potential to help us change our ways. Anger-fighting Tool #3: Life Isn’t Fair – thank G-d! Speaking of videos, there is a fabulous movie for children called Inside Out, which depicts the way children develop their inner emotions through cartoons. One of the main characters is named Anger, and

the movie introduces him in the following way: “This is anger. He likes everything to be fair and loses control when things don’t match up.” We like when we are in control. Our minds feel secure when there is order, balance, and fairness around us. My sister has adopted a mantra that she shares with her children when they claim, “It’s not fair!” Her statement usually nips her kids’ complaints in the bud. She answers, “Yes! You’re right, life isn’t fair. I don’t even want to hear it, because trust me, if life were fair, you would be very unhappy. You have it pretty good.” Try it on your kids, and even on yourself, when you start to feel anger because things are imbalanced. There’s hidden depth in this seemingly simple comeback. If we are truly honest, we all know we would choose our own pekele. Take poverty, for example. There are millions of people starving and suffering without basic food, clothing, and shelter. The percentage of people who are privileged enough to have access to newspapers is very small. If we were to partition all the resources of the world equally, we would surely end up with a lot less than what we currently have. The same is true of suffering. We tend to forget that people suffer in severe ways. Humans are tortured, enslaved, mutilated, and killed at all times around the globe. If we were to divide up all the suffering the world experiences evenly, we would run back into our current lives. An anger-reinforcing, egocentric thought might be: “This isn’t fair! Why do they have it better than me?” A great motto to counteract it is, “Life isn’t fair – thank G-d!” Life is not fair, and no one ever claimed it was going to be. This idea becomes clear when we stop to consider the world around us. Not only can our pride be a useful tool but our compassion for others can dispel our anger. By keeping this concept in mind, we can successfully stop anger in its tracks while also feeling grateful for the life we’ve been given.

The Week In News

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Same Time of Yeshu’ah

The Same Descendants Of Aharon Hakohen

The Same Holy Place

The Same Tefilah

The day of Zos Chanukah with its segulah for great miracles to happen today like they did then

The pure-lineaged Kohanim who will personally plead and daven for Vaad Harabbanim’s donors and individually mention name after name with its particular prayer request

At the Kosel Hamaaravi in the tunnels facing the Kodesh Hakodoshim from which the Shechinah never moved and where the miracle of Chanukah took place 2155 years ago

With 130 words, gematria of so prayed the Kohanim Chashmona’im seven times, 2155 years ago, and merited a miracle, as stated in the Magen Avraham citing the Tashbatz What tefilah did the Chashmonaim pray and merit a miracle?

The plea of the Kohanim Gedolei Torah for each and every name individually with its particular prayer request 3,541








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The Week In News Torah

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Weekly Daf

What is done with surplus korbanos at the end of the year? Rabbi Shmuel Wise, Maggid Shiur of

We learned about this in a lengthy discussion that began on 10b. Ulla and Rabbah there quote R’ Yochanan who teaches a novel ruling regarding leftover korban tamid lambs (by “leftover” we mean that these lambs had been consecrated to be offered as tamid offerings during the previous fiscal year which ends on the last day of Adar). The halachah is that we may only purchase communal offerings from the communal fund of the current fiscal year, which means that a lamb from last year is definitely not fit to be offered as is. Now normally when a consecrated animal can no longer be brought as a sacrifice, the animal still retains its special sacrificial sanctity which would proscribe the option of selling the animal on the market. Rather we have to wait until the animal gets some permanent disqualifying blemish which would lower its sanctity from sacrificial sanctity to monetary sanctity at which

point it can be sold. Yet R’ Yochanan teaches that we may take these surplus unblemished tamid lambs and simply redeem them! Rav Chisda expresses astonishment at R’ Yochanan’s ruling: “Where did [the lambs’] sanctity go?” On 11a, Rabbah answers this question with the theory of, “the court made a stipulation,” meaning that the Sages specifically enacted that the sanctity that we confer on an animal by designating it for a communal offering is conditional: if we end up offering it, then great; but if for some reason it can’t be offered (e.g. it ended up being extra), then it loses its sacrificial sanctity and can immediately be redeemed. It is noteworthy that Rabbah does not suggest that the Sages enacted that in the event we don’t need this animal, the animal is simply considered an ordinary non-holy animal. Evidently, the Sages had no desire to completely remove the sacred status this

animal gained by being designated as a sacrifice. Abaye pushes back at Rabbah’s theory based on something Rabbah himself said: If someone consecrated an animal (that is fit to be brought as a sacrifice) and adds, “I only want this animal to have monetary sanctity (that is, the animal should be sold, and its proceeds should be used to purchase a sacrifice),” this proviso has no effect – the animal gains full sacrificial sanctity and is offered. If so, Abaya points out, even if we utilize a legal fiction that it is as if the animal was sanctified with monetary sanctity, the animal should still end up with full sacrificial sanctity, bringing us back full circle to where we started! The Gemara answers this with a fundamental distinction: if a person attempts to donate an animal to the Beis Hamikdash (that is perfectly fit itself to be offered) for the purpose of selling it and using the money to purchase a sacrifice – that doesn’t work; instead the animal itself becomes fully sanctified as a korban. However, if a person donates the animal and earmarks its proceeds for something that the animal itself cannot be used for (e.g. wine libations) then the designation is indeed meaningful, and the animal will only be conferred with monetary sanctity. This is exactly what is happening in our case: The court decree says that if ultimately this animal isn’t needed as a sacrifice, then it’s as if the animal was originally donated to the fund where all other excess funds from last year go – which is used to pay for the gold sheets that plate to kodesh kodashim (obviously not something that an animal can be used for; hence the animal will remain with monetary sanctity only). The Gemara later on 12a establishes that the tanna R’ Shimon does not accept the position that there was a rabbinical stipulation made to address the problem of unneeded communal sacrifices. Instead, R’ Shimon rules that we take these tamid lambs leftover from last year and bring

them as “dessert” on the mizbeach, i.e. after all other required sacrifices have been brought, we bring these lambs as communal voluntary olos. Apparently, voluntary offerings are not subject to the requirement that they be funded from this year’s communal fund. But the question remains: how can we use these lambs for a sacrifice other than the one they were consecrated for? Rashi answers by explaining that this ruling is an outgrowth of R’ Shimon’s opinion in the mishnah regarding the mussaf goats of different holidays (e.g. Rosh Chodesh, Sukkos, etc.). R’ Shimon ruled that if we ended up with a surplus goat of one holiday, we can use it for a different holiday. The Rabban objected to this, pointing out that goats of the different festivals do not atone for the same sins; how then can a goat designated for one holiday be used for another? R’ Shimon though does not share this objection because he argues that since the different goats all atone for the same basic category of sin (i.e. tumah violations), it’s perfectly fine to repurpose a goat for a different holiday. The same view, Rashi explains, applies in our discussion: although these lambs were originally designated to be brought as tamid olos, we can now repurpose them to be brought as voluntary olos. Since they are both of the same basic category of olos, it’s not a problem to use them as this kind of olah instead of that kind of olah. It turns out then that all opinions allow some kind of flexibility when dealing with the problem of unneeded communal offerings, but the specific type of flexibility is a matter of halachic dispute. Rabbi Wise is maggid shiur of Real Clear Daf ( Real Clear Daf is a website and mobile app (for iOS and Android) that offers free audio shiurim and other resources to assist your journey through Shas. You may reach Rabbi Wise via email: or by phone: 855-ASK-RCD-1 (275-7231).

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Book Review

The Week In News

Discover Touro College Los Angeles

Book Review: Spies & Scholars by Yehudis Litvak (published by Jewish Children’s Book Club), 209 pp. Reviewed by Tamara Sambrowsky

than what they learned in middle school and are content with a skeletal frame of the story enjoyed alongside the devouring of donuts, dreidel-playing, and Chanukah parties. In fact, the Chanukah story occurred over many years with battles in the canyons and hills leading from the coastal plains to Yerushalayim. The Hellenists’ strong grip took hold before the rise of Antiochus and the weakened spiritual state of Bnei Yisrael was the harbinger to Antiochus’s power and harsh decrees. While reading about Litvak’s multi-layered characters, I was struck by the parallel between the challenges they faced and many we face today. Intelligent young men were lost to Hellenism because the methods by which they were taught Torah lacked meaning and depth. Poor Jewish farmers were sometimes drawn to the fleeting but decadent material delights that Greek culture provided. Well-meaning parents were unsure how to approach the perils of a new era. Reading a more detailed account of fictitious characters of the time provided insight into their hearts and the battles raging within. The story also underscored the fact that the civil war among Klal Yisrael was perhaps the greatest threat to its physical and spiritual state, more so than the Greeks. Clashing values turned Hellenized Jews against their Torah-abiding brothers, empowering the Greek army and inciting violence and death. The timeless messages delivered a powerful punch. Unity is essential to the survival of Klal Yisrael. Mitzvah observance needs thought, meaning, and joy. One can never understand the battle and challenges another person faces. And when Jews hold steadfast to their values, Hashem the Omnipotent can deliver salvation in the most unimaginable ways.

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Yehudis Litvak’s latest book Spies & Scholars is a great family read for the Chanukah holiday season. Mrs. Litvak presents a fictional story with a colorful array of characters behind the backdrop of the many events that took place in ancient Israel while Bnei Yisrael were under the rule of the tyrannical King Antiochus. This book is a riveting and entertaining read for young history buffs, lovers of fiction, and those who want to enjoy a read that intrigues and inspires. The characters are complex and multi-faceted, and the plot is both captivating and thought-provoking. The story is a sequel to Litvak’s previous book Swords and Scrolls and begins shortly after Mattisyahu’s death. The story references many historical facts, some well-known, some less so. The many interesting characters include a mother hiding her circumcised son, scholars-turned soldiers in Yehudah HaMaccabee’s army, Jewish farmers, Hellenists, female spies, Greek soldiers, recalcitrant children, and worried parents. It is difficult for the reader to discern with conviction who is friend or foe and where the plot will lead. Can Elisha be trusted? Is Nechemia a repentant or renegade? Whose motives are sincere? Why does Shaul act with kindness and then turn abrasive? Will spirited Miriam find a suitable match? Yehudis Litvak, a familiar name among readers of Ami and Binah Magazine, is recognized for her niche in well-researched, historical fiction among readers of Jewish literature. Aside from being an entertaining read, I felt the book’s merits went beyond the characters and intricate plot. Firstly, her story provided clarity in terms of the timeline of events that transpired before the actual Chanukah miracle. Often children (and even adults) do not expand their knowledge of the Chanukah story further


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The Week In News


DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

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Humor: Giving Me the Shivers

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doesn’t dip below 45. He would fit in just fine in Minnesota. I find it highly amusing that what Angelenos consider to be “normal” outdoor temperatures are pretty much what other human beings consider “room temperature.” The funny thing is come wintertime, some family members expect conditions inside our home which would be described as “beach weather” to the rest of the country. When my 8-year-old complains at 6:30 a.m. that she is cold, I advise her to wear her warm pajamas rather than stroll around the house in the short-sleeved nightgown she wore last July. When my husband shivers while learning after putting the kids to bed, I suggest a robe. “There’s one hanging in your closet,” I point out. Instead, they crank up the heat. And I start to shvitz. Occasionally, my husband and I talk about leaving Southern California in order to find more affordable housing. When I explain to him what winter is like in places like Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Cleveland, he oohs and aahs like I’m describing some exotic locale. “At shul, there’s a cloakroom. You stash your coat and any rain gear there.” His eyes bug out. “Really?” “At school, too,” I assure him. “And people go shopping and conduct their business as normal when it rains.” “Now you’ve got to be kidding me.” I don’t think we’re moving to Baltimore anytime soon. Other the other hand, there are plenty of Jews in Boca. And what about Dallas? There are Jews in Dallas! It’s too bad I hate the heat.

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Chanukah is here, and that means the temperature here in L.A. may soon dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit—at least at night. I tease my husband when I see him return from shul in the morning. There he is, tallis case swinging from its strap, wearing a ski cap, a scarf, a sweater, and a jacket. The only reason he doesn’t wear gloves is because he keeps losing them. In the same weather, I walk outside with a shirt and skirt. Maybe I have my puffy vest on, but mostly it’s for the pockets, because as all women know, the designers of women’s clothes have a serious misunderstanding about women’s need for pockets. And my hat? Merely worn for tznius. The difference between my husband and myself is that he has lived his entire life in Southern California, and I have not. He has never woken up to a snow day. He’s never shoveled a driveway. In fact, my husband never saw snow fall from the sky until he was 29 years old. (We were driving through the Sierras on the way back from seeing my grandparents in Vegas. He said, “That’s funny—why can I see the rain?” He couldn’t tell those were flurries flying by the windshield. I laughed so hard I nearly had an asthma attack.) Our children are also native Californians, and three of them share his intolerance to cold. The eldest, however, handles cold relatively well. While he too has always lived in a Mediterranean climate, he must have inherited my father’s great-great-grandfather’s Viking genes. Or maybe some good Litvak genes from my mother’s side. My eldest can walk around in shirtsleeves so long as the temperature


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DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home




The “Stop The Talking In Shul Movement” has attained global acclaim for its legendary activities to spread and enhance Kevod Bais Hakneses. Through its efforts, thousands of individuals in hundreds of shuls around the world have undertaken not to talk during davening and increase their devotion to heartfelt tefillah. Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim have praised the movement’s efforts and the success of its work. Not resting on its laurels, the movement has undertaken a new initiative – shuls that will join across the country – those who pledge to uphold the standards that have become the mission of the movement. The shuls will be named Heichal Tosfos Yom Tov, perpetuating the name and legacy of the Tosfos Yom Tov, zt”l, whose famed mishubeirach and message of No Talking in Shul has become the stuff of legends. The first of these shuls is Khal Ben Avrohom Minsk in Boro Park, under the leadership of its esteemed Rov, HoRav Yisroel Wosner, shlita. The name Heichal Tosfos Yom Tov has been added to its name in recognition of its devotion to proper tefillah. For over a decade, this shul has been exemplary in its lofty levels of tefillah. One of the leaders of the Beis Medrash was asked to explain his feelings of the project. He said “it’s a gevaldike project, with profound repercussions. Our Rov has been following this derech for many years, under the inspiration of his zaide, Rav Wosner, who felt strongly about this issue. In fact, his grandfather once told him that if there is ever talking in his shul, he must close down the shul.” He continued “At the opening Shabbos of the shul some 15 years ago, the Rov gave a drasha explaining the strict no talking policy of the shul, which in effect has become the essence of the shul. The drasha focused on the brocha for those who are ‘bo’im b’sochom l’hispallel’, why do they deserve a special brocha? The answer is that the brocha comes because they attend shul only to daven, not to talk, which is the source of their

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DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

‫בתי כנסיות‬

‫היכל תוספות יום טוב‬ reward.” Finally he explained that his mispallelim “have great comradery among themselves, because the policy is instituted with respect and pleasantness. The Rov doesn’t give a drosho Shabbos morning, to prevent a long and drawn out davening. By following halacha, members of the Kehillah have Boruch Hashem seen many brochos and great success in parnassah, shidduchim, and health, as promised in the Misheberach of the Tosfos Yom Tov.” A leader of the Stop the Talking in Shul movement commented “this shul is the model of what is to come, and the engine that will energize the establishment of such shuls throughout the country. Khal Ben Avrohom Heichal Tosfos Yom Tov shows how regular people can raise themselves to a lofty level of proper davening and decorum in shul. Adding the Tosfos Yom Tov name has helped bring that great Tzaddik’s brochos and spirit into the shul. Our hope is that every shul will emulate their great example and commit to reestablishing their shul in this manner. There are Boruch Hashem many shuls in our neighborhoods that adhere to the strictest levels of no talking in shul - they are models of affinity to halacha and inspiration to others. Our movement seeks to emulate the Rabbonim and Mispalelim of those shuls, by replicating their model throughout the world. Mispalelim in existing shuls may want to add the Heichal Tosfos Yom Tov name, for recognition of the principles and to welcome additional like minded members. Others may wish to initiate the development of new shuls loyal to this important cause. All are advised to ask their Rov and Daas Torah as to how to properly establish this derech. The following are suggested bi-laws for shuls to institute, ones that have proven successful in many existing shuls: 1. Absolutely no talking during the entire davening. 2. Absolutely no talking during laining, including bein gavra L’gavra. 3. Appoint gabo’im who in a pleasant way will help maintain the quiet. 4. The Tosfos Yom Tov mishubeirach should be said every Shabbos. 5. Length of davening should be minimized, to ensure proper decorum. 6. Signs should be posted in shul announcing the No Talking policy. 7. Kiddushim should not be brought into shul until after the entire davening. 8. Implement steady Shiurim on pirush ha-tefillah and kavonos ha-tefillah. FOR ASSISTANCE, GUIDANCE, & AVAILABLE SPEAKERS ON THIS IMPORTANT TOPIC, PLEASE EMAIL STOPTHETALKING@GMAIL.COM It is painful to see that people “play with fire” by talking during davening. There are great yeshuos guaranteed for those who keep quiet; it is the hope of the Stop the Talking in Shul movement that all shuls throughout the country and througout the world are zoche to join this movement and live its message.



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The Week In News Interview

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Interview with Comedian Marc Weiner Tova Abady

TA: Marc, I met you when you performed at the Chabad Gala Dinner in Potomac, Maryland. You did a routine about the categories of people at a shul kiddush, and the whole congregation was rolling on the floor laughing hysterically. Funniest set I’ve seen in a long time. You’re in town for the YULA comedy night. Are you going to do that routine? MW: Thank you. No, I’m not doing that one tonight. I haven’t performed that one in many years. TA: Do you remember the categories? MW: The last two were the Scrapers (that’s at the bottom) and the Weasels. TA: How much of your comedy is based on Jewish humor? MW: I perform 95% now for Jewish audiences. It’s all kosher, clean material. TA: Who are the people that influenced you most to get into comedy? MW: Let’s see – Red Skelton, Steve Martin, Jonathon Winters, Robin Williams. The reason I say Red Skelton – last week I performed at a Chabad dinner and this guy comes up to me and said, “You know who I really loved when I grew up? Red Skelton.” People are always asking me the same question and it is interesting because it really was Red Skelton who influenced me with his facial, physical humor. TA: You worked with Robin Williams. What was that like? MW: Amazing. I worked two weekends with him on the street, and we became very close. He was a street performer. I started as a street performer. I used to juggle a rubber hand, an M & M, and a toilet plunger – you know, random objects – and I figured when his show was really popular – remember “Nanu nanu?” – I figured that if I did that, somehow I would meet him. TA: Did that work? MW: The second time I did it on the street in front of the Metropolitan Museum, he’s in the crowd, comes down, and we started working. It was wonderful, and he asked me if I was going to be there again. I said, “Yeah this is my spot.” He said, “I’ll see you next week.” I told my brothers, they came down, and that week Robin and his wife invited me to come out to California to spend time in his house, be on the show, but I didn’t think it was real at the time. TA: If you could be any Jewish person in history who would you be and why? MW: I would say probably Moses, so I can find out every detail of what happened without the responsibility. I could talk to G-d and ask anything I want. TA: I know you had a terrible trage-

dy in your life. What gives you strength to keep going – if you are able to speak about it. MW: Yes, this is what leads me into my purpose in life. So, when it happened I had no answers I was very angry and depressed and distraught for a long time. While it was happening, I had a very large struggle connecting with G-d. I was losing my son and also losing my career. I got out of show business. I couldn’t be funny when that was going on. I started moving away from observance, working on Shabbos, but I always kept kosher. We lost our son and really went into a tailspin, many, many, many, many years. Then I got divorced, it was at that point it was such a low time, and my heart was so broken, and I really connected to G-d. With a deep, broken heart, I cried out to G-d. I had a lot of anger, and I heard G-d’s voice and looked into my heart and the anger wasn’t there anymore, and G-d said, “Welcome back.” There was a shift. When I woke up, I started davening, wearing a yarmulke, tallis, and tefillin, and keeping Shabbos, and it’s been 15 years now. It was a complete reversal. TA: Did you grow up observant? MW: I grew up with nothing, became a baal teshuvah, got very observant, got married, and then [spent] two years helping my son. Then I was in the hospital, its Shabbos, my son’s having an operation, and I have to get in an elevator. I’m told, “Don’t push the button,” and I couldn’t come to terms with that. TA: Do you think that’s there’s a line to draw in comedy between what’s funny and what might be detrimental in some way? I’m talking about Jewish stereotypes on television. MW: Once you get into the stereotypes, you’re in a very dangerous territory, so I believe some secular humor from secular comedians plays in that area, and it can be dangerous because it’s possible you may reinforce the stereotypes. I try to stay away from that. Even in the world that I’m in, I try to be careful about what may not be comfortable. Like, I talk about the mikvah. My first experience was with Rabbi Buchwald in New York. He said, “Let’s go to the mikvah.” I asked him, “What’s the mikveh?” He said, “It’s a place where you get spiritual cleansing.” We go to the mikveh and suddenly he says, “Now take off your clothes. We’re going to get in a line there.” I’m in a line with fifty other naked guys. I said, “I’m out of here.” We get to the water, and I stepped on a fork, a knife, and a plate. In that joke it might

Preforming at Yula Girls comedy night

have been in an uncomfortable place, but it’s real. It happened. TA: (Laughter) I think it’s funny. Did anyone give you a reaction to that material? MW: One rebbetzin in the Catskills asked me to leave that bit about the mikveh out. Other than that, I stay away from anything that might be uncomfortable. TA: Do you try your jokes out on members of your family? MW: I do, I try it out on them. TA: How does that work out? MW: Sometimes it does very well. Other times it’s like, “Are you trying to be funny?” TA: Where do you go to shul, and are you the comedian there? MW: I go to Agudas Shalom in Stanford, Connecticut, and fortunately there

are a lot of people a hundred times funnier than I am in shul. There’s actually the rabbi, who teaches at a multi- cultural day school. There’s a lawyer [who] was a writer of mine and Tzvi Bernstein (Harold Bernstein) and Bob Abrams. TA: Is there anything else that you want to mention [that] you feel is important? MW: Yes, absolutely. The work I do when I’m not performing comedy. It touches upon what you asked me earlier about how I got through all the upheaval. It’s a process of non-violent communication called NVC. First of all, to communicate with yourself internally in order to calm yourself down, calm your thoughts down so you can get control of your thoughts, speech, and actions, which is a very Jewish concept. This is what Tanya and The Ethics of Our Fathers teaches us, how to live in congruency with your values. It’s what the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught us in order for us to be conduits in this world and make it a place where G-d’s Shechinah can live. TA: Did you pioneer this? MW: No, I discovered it when going through my divorce [to deal with] all the terrible things, anxiety and thoughts and tragedy that I had. I discovered a system psychologist Marshall Rosenberg years ago came up [with] – 40, 50 years ago. This process [is] to take control of thoughts, speech, and actions to have better connections between individuals, but first of all to have a better connection with yourself. It’s all about connecting and acknowledgment. I read Rosenberg’s book and I thought, “Wow! This is what I’ve been looking for.” I started going to trainings, and I became myself a trainer. I created a way of teaching it called the Empathy Labyrinth, which is really teaching people emotional literacy. I’ve walked people of all ages through the process. Really, what it is, if you acknowledge your feelings and acknowledge what your needs and values are, you start calming down, and it helps you connect to your heart. When you get triggered, you forget what you value. You want to react, defend yourself, maybe “teach someone a lesson.” But when you connect to your values – I value kindness, I value respect, I value love, I value connection to Hashem – once you’re connected to your heart, then you can connect to somebody else’s heart. I’ve walked people of all ages though the process. Clients can be taught in person or over the phone. They can find me on my website

The Week In News

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Faces of ICSN – Fear is a waste of time The doctors said she’d die, but after six months in remission, 15-year-old Batel is looking to the future. At her home, with her dog Latte happily wagging her tail by her side, she shares with us her experience and what roles fear, loss and hope have played along the way. “When most kids my age are spending their time thinking about homework, exams, and their social life, I was facing death. Even though I had hope for my own survival, there was death all around me. Many of my friends today have passed on, are still sick, or like me are in remission and rehabilitation. After everything I’ve been through, I don’t take anything for

granted. I don’t complain, I don’t waste my time in fear.” There is a lot that Batel doesn’t remember, as the cancer affected her memory. Her mother, Ayelet, stands by her side. She helps Batel convey her thoughts with an astounding amount of grace and calm. Even though she’s in remission, Batel’s challenges are not over. “It sounds simple but it’s not. Being in rehab is hard work, but I try to remember that all that I’m going through is so that I can keep getting stronger. I’m grateful for that chance, and for the things that help me feel good about myself.” Batel learned that small things could

make a big difference to her outlook on life. During her treatment, she was helped

by ICSN (the Israel Cancer Support Network) which offers practical and emotional support to cancer patients and their families. The financial support from ICSN enabled Ayelet to be by Batel’s side throughout the process. “She’s been a rock for me through all of this,” Batel explains. “The support network made sure she would be by my side every day. They were there for us since day one helping to make a terrible situation more bearable – and still do.” Now she can finally share lighter experiences with her mother. “My mom takes me for a manicure once a month, it makes me feel pampered, and it’s such a normal thing for a mom and daughter to do.”

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American who Defected to N Korea Dies

It’s hard to believe that someone would purposely move to North Korea, but Charles Jenkins was among four U.S. soldiers who did so in the 1960s. Out of the four Jenkins was the only one who was eventually released after forty years of captivity. The others died in North Korea. This week, Jenkins, 77, died on Sado Island in Japan where he was living with his wife Hitomi Soga, also a former prisoner of North Korea, since 2004. Jenkins had led an extraordinary but

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

also difficult life in North Korea, which he would later chronicle in a memoir and several interviews. In 1965, while stationed with the U.S. army in South Korea by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Jenkins decided to abandon his unit and defect to the North, fearing he would be killed in patrols or sent to fight in the Vietnam War. He said he thought that once in North Korea, he could seek asylum with the Russian embassy and eventually return to the U.S. in a prisoner swap. One January night, Jenkins walked across the DMZ and surrendered to North Korean soldiers there. He was only 24-years-old. But Russia did not grant him or the other Americans asylum. Instead, they were held as prisoners by the North Koreans. The men were forced to study the teachings of then-leader Kim Il-sung, do translation work, and teach English. But they also became minor celebrities when they acted in North Korean propaganda films, starring as Western villains. Jenkins said his captors often beat him, and conducted medical procedures on him that were sometimes unnecessary or brutal, including cutting off a U.S. Army tattoo without anesthesia. Jenkins was forced to marry Ms. Soga – who was abducted from Japan – in 1980, and they had two daughters. In 2002, Soga was freed after negotiations by the Japanese government. Jenkins joined her two years later, along with their daughters, where he surrendered to the U.S. Army

almost four decades after he had defected and was given a dishonorable discharge. The family settled in Sado Island, Sogas hometown; Jenkins worked as a greeter in a tourist park. In August, in one of his last media interviews, he told the Los Angeles Times that he was still worried that North Korea would assassinate him or his family. “North Korea wants me dead,” he told the paper.

Poland’s New PM has Jewish Background The new prime minister of Poland has two aunts who were rescued and hidden during the Holocaust by non-Jews. Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will take over the Polish government as it gets ready for upcoming Parliamentary elections in 2019. He is a member of the right-wing Law and Justice party. Morawiecki was a bank chairman in the Santander Group until 2015 when he joined the government as minister for economic development in 2015. He has not hidden his Jewish past from the Polish public. At a ceremony at the Warsaw Zoo that was held to honor the former zoo director and his wife, Jan and Antonina Żabiński, who risked their lives to save hundreds of Jews, Morawiecki spoke about his past. “Always

at such ceremonies I begin reflecting on my family’s own story,” Morawiecki said. “My aunt Irena was a Jew, she survived the war. Until she was 16, she stayed with a Polish family who rescued her” with help from a few dozen other non-Jewish Poles who risked their lives to hide her, he said. His other aunt, Roma, now lives in Israel. Morawiecki said that none of those who helped his aunt during the Holocaust were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel. That title is one given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Morawiecki says that there are only 7,000 such recipients in Poland, while in reality “10 times” that many people are deserving of the honor.

Traveling Holocaust Museum There are some outstanding Holocaust memorials throughout the world. Israel, Washington, and New York are home to some of the more well-known museums documenting the Holocaust. In a move to reach the masses who may not have access to a comprehensive museum on the Holocaust, a traveling exhibit has been organized. The memorial was launched on December 1 in Madrid, Spain, and is a collection of artifacts from Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi death camp where one million Jews were slaughtered.

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The “roving exhibition” will pop-up in 14 cities over the next seven years, mostly in Europe and North America. Operating under the slogan, “Not long ago. Not far away,” the exhibition is a collection of more than 600 artifacts on loan. The exhibit is a project of Poland’s AuschwitzBirkenau State Museum and Spain’s Musealia group, which calls itself “an artistic and documentary research project.” The loans are from those museums, as well as from Israel’s Yad Vashem, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and private collections. “Today, the world is moving in uncertain directions. That is why we need to rely more and more on the strong foundations of our memory,” said Piotr M. A. Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. “Nothing can replace a visit to the authentic site of the biggest crime of the 20th century, but this exhibition, which people in many countries will have the opportunity to see, can become a great warning cry for us all,” Cywiński noted. It is suggested that visitors set aside 90 minutes to travel through the maze of artifacts, many of them accompanied by his-

torical photographs for context. There is a collection of sophisticated models depicting the horror of the Holocaust, including a detailed model of the gas chamber-crematorium complexes. At the entrance, there is the tour’s largest and most impressionable object, a German Model 2 freight car. The cattle car was used to transport millions Jews to their deaths and to the camps. The exhibition will move to the next city in Europe in the middle of June. This intended to be an awareness project, to teach the next generation of the atrocities Jews and other minorities faced during World War II. “Hatred, racism, antisemitism and intolerance are, unfortunately, concepts we still have to face nowadays,” said Luis Ferreiro, exhibition director for Musealia. “Therefore, it is of vital importance to remember the road that led to Auschwitz and the consequences it had.”

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drive. Next on the agenda is opening public cinemas for the first time in three and a half decades. The Ministry of Culture and Information announced on Monday that multiplexes will open in March 2018. They plan is to operate 2,000 screens in more than 300 theaters by 2030. The industry is expected to contribute around $24 billion to the economy and add 30,000 permanent jobs. Public entertainment was banned in 1979 when militants besieged the Grand Mosque in Mecca. These moves are all part of Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to modernize the conservative country and boost the economy. Religious clergy still hold a lot of control over the country. Shopping malls are patrolled by religious police, and gender segregation is strictly enforced across the kingdom. The Culture and Information Ministry said movie theaters will receive permits allowing them to operate within 90 days. It did not indicate what kind of movies the government will allow to be shown, although it is probable that all films will need to conform to Islamic law. “The content of the shows will be subjected to censorship based on the media policy of the kingdom,” the statement said. “The shows will be in line with the values and principles, and will include enriching content that is not contrary to Shariah laws and ethical values of the kingdom.”

owner had no particular act in mind when engaging the phone. The researchers also found that – horrifyingly – the top ten percent of users opened their phone 60-plus times every 24 hours. Despite these numbers, only a third of respondents felt that they are addicted to checking their device. ”Our smart devices have become an essential part of modern life, and checking them regularly is second nature for most users,” says Greg Tatton-Brown, a spokesperson for Casumo. “However, the instances of compulsive

checking are much higher than we would have imagined, showing our phones are as much a habit as they are an aide to our busy lifestyles and an immediate source of entertainment, from wherever we are.” The apps that steal us away from real life the most are Facebook, followed by WhatsApp, Gmail, and Instagram. “Despite the presence of more useful apps, Facebook is the service which wins our time in the end,” Tatton-Brown concludes. “Gmail, Maps and a host of messaging services may help us more to organize our

lives but checking our updates on Facebook remains truly compulsive viewing instead of consciously looking for an entertaining break away from our daily routines.” An odd side note finding of the survey was that seven percent of Brits did not know that “app” was short for “application.” Did you?


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A study out of England has found that about 40 percent of the time smartphone users check their phone it is for no reason at all. Researchers at Casumo, an online casino company, surveyed 2,000 smartphone users across the United Kingdom in order to see how much of “checking our phones” is due to being creatures of habit and how much is related to active cellphone use. The average smartphone user unlocks their phone more than 10,000 times a year, or about 28 times a day. The researchers discovered that about 4,000 of those phone interactions are “compulsive,” meaning the

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Honoring Our Traditions As a member of the Orthodox community, I am pleased to have joined the Mount Sinai family as an Advance Planning Representative.

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Collisions Stemming from Inoperable Traffic Lights Michael Rubinstein, Esq.

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Drivers in Los Angeles often face a familiar scenario: They approach a busy intersection only to discover an inoperable traffic light. What happens if, ch”v, someone is injured in a collision that stems from an inoperable traffic light? The answer could depend on who is responsible for maintaining that particular

traffic light, as discussed in a recent California Court of Appeal case, Lichtman v. Siemens Industries. Joanne Lichtman, a partner at a large Los Angeles law firm, was traveling with her family when their car was broadsided at a busy Glendale intersection that had an inoperable traffic signal. Ms. Lichtman suffered life-changing injuries in the collision and became a quadriplegic. Siemens Industries contracted with the City of Glendale to maintain backup batteries for traffic signals in the city. Siemens employees had removed the backup batteries months before the fateful collision. This oversight was discovered after Ms. Lichtman’s injury. After years of litigation, the California Court of Appeal reversed a lower court holding that dismissed Ms. Lichtman’s case. The Court ruled that since Siemens was a private contractor, it would be up to a jury to decide whether Siemens owed a legal duty of care to motorists like Ms. Lichtman. The Lichtman case is groundbreaking, because previous cases established precedent holding that municipalities who

maintain traffic lights do not owe a duty of care to motorists [White v. Southern California Edison 25 Cal.App.4th 442 (1994)]. In fact, municipalities do not have a duty to install traffic lights at all! The White case is still valid law in California. The recent Lichtman decision shows just how nuanced these cases can be. Liability in inoperable traffic signal cases largely depends on whether the entity that maintains the traffic light is public or private. These cases are highly factual, and an attorney should be consulted to discuss the merits of the case. Texting While Walking: Is it Illegal? Texting while driving has become an international epidemic. Not far behind is another bad habit that is sapping peoples’ attention spans: texting while walking. Is it illegal in California? Not yet. But many states are grappling with how to deal with this vexing problem. In 2016, nearly 6000 pedestrians were killed in the United States, according to a recent New York Times article citing federal data. This was the highest number since 1990. One possible reason: Pedestrians are distracted now more than ever. The City of Honolulu recently passed a law forbidding texting while crossing the street, with fines as high as $35 per violation. Some California cities have been putting up signs that say “No Selfie Zone” and “Heads up! Cross the street! Then Update Facebook.” Pedestrians who are distracted on their cell phones are up to four times more likely to jaywalk, cross on a red light, and not look both ways before crossing. We’ve all seen distracted pedestrians. Many of us are probably guilty of some of the above-listed behaviors. Let’s bring common sense back to crossing the street! Just remember: It can wait! Wishing everyone in our community a joyous and freilichen Chanukah! Michael Rubinstein is a Los Angeles based personal injury and accident attorney. He may be reached by visiting www., or by calling 213-2936075.


The Week In News

DECEMBER 14, 2017 The Jewish Home DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The|Jewish Home

Forgotten Her es

Chanukah on the Frontlines By Avi Heiligman

Celebrating Chanukah 1916 in the army


lmost all Jews know of the miracle of Chanukah. Without going into the details of the Maccabees and their story, there are two parts to the narrative. One was the miracle of winning an im-

possible war, and the other was the miracle of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdash. Even today people who don’t have much of a connection to their roots still light the menorah in commemoration of the miracles.

A symbol of our Torah and mitzvos in front of the Nazi flag, 1932

During times of battle the Jewish soldiers that do wind up on the frontlines still feel this connection and have made sacrifices to light the menorah. Stories of soldiers celebrating Chanukah on the frontlines date back centuries and have helped bring light into dark times. One story that came from the American Revolutionary War (17751783) has been proven to be a tall tale. At least the details are mostly false but it’s possible that there is some truth in the story of General Washington being inspired by Chanukah candles. The basic narrative is that there was a lone Jewish soldier camping with Washington’s army at Valley Forge in the dead of winter. He was a Polish immigrant and brought over a menorah that his father had given him to light every year. After everyone had bunked for the night, he lit the Chanukah candles. Suddenly, General Washington appeared and asked him about the menorah and was impressed with his answer. The next year Washington visited him on the Lower East Side to give him a medal. There are many factual errors with this tale, the first being that Washington camped at Valley Forge in 1778 and not two years earlier, like the story says. Also the medal that

he supposedly received didn’t exist at the time. In general there is no accepted source for this story. Still, there may be truth to the fact that Jewish soldiers lit the menorah at Valley Forge and a commander was inspired by their courage and by the story of the Maccabees. Thousands of Jews served on both sides of the American Civil War. The armies typically camped for the winter and so Chanukah was never right before a major battle. Many of the soldiers went home for the winter and this author couldn’t track down a story of Jewish soldiers lighting the menorah on the frontlines during the Civil War (eating matzah is a separate story). During World War I a famous picture was taken of soldiers holding up a menorah. Their uniforms appear to be a mixture of German and Austro-Hungarian uniforms with both officers and enlisted men in the photograph. Sadly, twenty years later, the country that they fought and willing risked their lives for killed millions of their fellow Jews. Many stories are told of Jews in concentration camps being mesiras nefesh to light the Chanukah menorah. Right under the noses of the Nazis, menorahs were lit so that the mitzvah performed for over 2,000 years would


The Jewish Home | DECEMBER 14, 2017


The Week In News

continue in defiance of our staunchest enemies. In late 1943, the American soldiers and marines were returning from fighting on far away islands in the Pacific and on the mainland of Asia. Dozens of marine veterans just returning from the bloody battle at Tarawa (their landing craft got stuck in the surf and coral and they were sitting ducks for Japanese gunners) were in western Asia, probably at a base in India, for rest and relaxation. Chaplain Rabbi Rudin traveled to be with the men so that they could light the menorah for Chanukah. There was no electricity at night so the candle lighting had to be done in daylight, when everyone could see. He lit the candles, said the brachos and sang Maoz Tzur. It was dark and only the shammash was still lit when a gust of wind blew that one light and lit the other candles. The soldiers had their own little Chanukah miracle in the middle of a brutal war. At another outpost in India a differ-

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home

ent Jewish chaplain began to prepare for Chanukah. Wanting to share more with the servicemen than just lighting the menorah, he tried to obtain some special Chanukah foods. Somehow local tribesmen appeared and gave them eggs. Unexpectedly, a Jewish mess sergeant had arrived and knew how to make latkes and knishes. For the first time in the war the soldiers were able to taste Chanukah cooking. There are many stories about soldiers lighting the menorah on the frontlines. By celebrating the victory over the ancient Greeks, Jewish soldiers found solace and inspiration fighting modern day wars. War isn’t pretty but the Chanukah menorah shows us that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, even in the bitterest of battles. Avi Heiligman is a weekly contributor to The Jewish Home. He welcomes your comments and suggestions for future columns and can be reached at aviheiligman@

A 1944 Chanukah postcard from a soldier to his parents in Brooklyn


The Week In News

DECEMBER 14, 2017 | The Jewish Home


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