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FEBRUARY 20, 2014

the Past

Annual Torah Umesorah

Dinner Sunday, March 9 . The Palace

Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz, zt”l

Rabbi Bernard Goldenberg, zt”l

Dr. Joseph Kamenetsky, zt”l

Paying Tribute to:

Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz

Rabbi Shea Fishman Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz Award

Rabbi Yehuda Neustadt

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Selengut

Eitz Chaim Seed Award


Rabbi Avrohom Fruchthandler

Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

Rabbi Meir Chaim Gutfreund

Yeshiva & Mesivta Sholom Schachna

THE CHEDER Rabbi Yitzchok Perlstein

Rabbi Yaakov Rajchenbach

For Reservations or to place an ad please call

212.227.1000 ext 4522 dinner@torah-umesorah.org


Hersh Potok Memorial School of the Year Award


the Future




FEBRUARY 20, 2014



What’s new in LA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Community Happenings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 LA’s Got Purim Baskets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Labor of Love: A Profile of Perutz Etz Jacob Hebrew Academy . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26


7 Questions with Rabbi Yossi Eilfort . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 A Remarkable Life: Reb Meir Schuster ZT”L ‘The Man of the Wall’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30


Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Farther Than They Are . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 The Secret of Simcha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Using an Eiruv . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 How Yoga helps me to Daven with More Intention. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50


Hillel Q & A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Joy of Parenting - Purim Mask . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33


The Most Precious Thing of All. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18


Centerfold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Quotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Uncle Moishy’s Funpage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33


Health - Misloach Manot Giving the Gift of Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Health - Obamacare: Bailouts and Rate Increases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Restaurant Review Two Dishes at Beverly Hills Thai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Travel - Tokyo, Japan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 JWI Cookbook – A Sampling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53


Old News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Global News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 National News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 That’s Odd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47


Forgotten Heroes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Israel News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

Dear Readers, Well, “what starts with the Jews continues on to the rest of the world.” Who would have believed that the terrorism brought against the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics in ‘72 would become everyone’s concern at the Sochi Olympics in 2014? While there were no armed police in the Olympic village back then, today’s Olympic village has 50,000+ police and soldiers; everything and anything entering the city is thoroughly checked for bombs; all is under constant surveillance and, just in case a plane gets hijacked, they have anti-ballistic missile batteries set up throughout the city! At Munich, the rest of the world thought that the games could go on, as it was just a Jewish problem. Little did they realize that this attitude would allow such situations to escalate and become a worldwide problem. Indeed by far, more Muslims have been killed by suicide bombers than in the rest of the world combined. The nations of the world must at least learn the lessons needed for the future: to stop having a double standard in the way other countries react to acts of provocation and the way the Jewish people react. No country would be expected to entrust the security of its citizens to an individual like Mr. Abbas, who allows the most outrageous anti-Semitic claims to be taught in schools under his jurisdiction and who continuously refers to the recently released prisoners, most of whom are unremorseful murderers, as heroes. (On January 9, one of the Abbas’s recently released “heroes” was interviewed by Ma’an TV in which he describes, in the coolest demeanor, the way in which he killed two Jewish hikers.) His history is not much better. Indeed it was Mr. Abbas who financed the Munich massacre, later on claiming, “I didn’t know what the money was for.” It seems that the “used car salesman” litmus test needs to be administered here. “As an individual, based on his word of honor, would you buy a used car from your peace partner?” If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t be giving away your country. We might want to start using some of the statements made by Ben Gurion when he was faced with similar pressures which affected Israel’s basic security. “The United States is a powerful country; Israel is a small and a weak one. We can be crushed, but we will not commit suicide.” Or as James McDonald, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel at that time, wrote of what Ben Gurion had told him: “… much as Israel desired friendship with the U.S., there were limits beyond which it could not go...” And that “Ben-Gurion warned President Truman and the Department of State, through me, that they would be gravely mistaken if they assumed that the threat, or even the use of U.N. sanctions, would force Israel to yield on issues considered vital to its independence and security... [He] left no doubt that he was determined to resist, at whatever cost, ‘unjust and impossible demands.’ On these he could not compromise.” Perhaps we should learn from the courage being shown by the citizens of many countries, the most recent one being Ukraine, where they put freedom above all else. Willing to literally put their lives on the line for what they believe in. At times one thinks back to what it must have been like being a slave in Egypt and being told by Moshe Rabeinu that it will soon be over. Or what it was like in late 1944, when it was clear that it was a matter of time before the war ended. Likewise, our Jewish leaders have told us that we are in the last stages of our 2,000 year exile, and that we should prepare for our final redemption -- when the world will know neither conflict nor war, with all nations living side by side and in harmony with each other. This is not a “cop-out” from the hard work that needs to be done. It is rather a “call to arms” to do everything we can to make this a reality. Perhaps, as in the past, this belief alone will be enough to make it happen. With blessings for a most enjoyable Shabbos,


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


You know that to do list that never gets done? Hanging up pictures, repairing a screen, fixing a hinge, figuring why an appliance won’t work . . . Ari Schuler can do it! He has experience in plumbing, electrical work, painting, appliance repair, carpentry, baby proofing, earthquake proofing, screen repairs- pretty much anything you can think of. He is available both days and evenings, visit www.schulermaintenance.com and call 424-244-9862. Parents who work full time and leave their children with a nanny want to ensure that their children are well taken care of, entertained, and played with. Sharon Rief, who was a teacher for ten years, created a website called www.teacherresourcesforparents.com which teaches nannies (and parents too) how to play with children in educational ways in order to enrich kids during play time. She also holds crafts workshops for kids. Her website is a wonderful source for creative and inexpensive activities for little kids. If you suffer from certain diseases, you may be eligible for a clinical trial and receive free medical care, medication, lab tests and sometimes compensation. Dr. Shahram Jacobs is conducting studies on: people with rheumatoid arthritis, people

with type 2 diabetes, women with irritable bowel syndrome, adults with COPD and a history of smoking, and children 2 through 11 with pediatric psoriasis. Please contact Shole Faroki who is the site manager for clinical trials at Dr. Jacobs office at 818-981-1555 extension 205 or email clinicaltrials@sjacobsmd.com for more information. Improve your health by using “green” products. Staci Hammarguist and Leslie Williams provide an exclusive online store tour to guide you through a selection of products for adults and children. They offer safe, non-toxic cleaning and laundry items, bath and body products for kids, sunscreens, anti-aging skin care products, makeup, and much more. Everything they sell has a 100% money back guarantee and can be delivered directly to your home. Please call Staci at 818-398-3700 or Leslie at 818-269-5114 to arrange your personal tour. A new restaurant called The Difference has opened in the former Milk & Honey location. It is fleishig and offers upscale American style food. It is supervised under Rabbi Yehuda Bukspan. The Difference is located at 8837 W. Pico Boulevard, for reservations call 310-858-8850. The widely acclaimed Ta-eem Grill restaurant has remodeled and reopened under a new Hashgacha; it is now certified by the RCC. Ta-eem is well known for its falafel, laffa, kabob and grilled chicken dishes. It is located at 7422 Melrose Avenue. It’s very popular- so call ahead 323-944-0013 and visit www.ta-eemgrillinc.com for more information. For women who love to learn Torah, Bracha Ebriani is arranging a one on one chevrusa (partner learning) program for women 18-40. The learning will take place at LINK at 1453 S. Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles. She needs

Send mishloach manot to your friends & relatives in Israel! Send to IDF Soldiers! SEND MISHLOACH MANOT TO YOUR FRIENDS & RELATIVES IN ISRAEL !

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12 women to commit to learning twice a month for the program to take off. The program is designed for women with intermediate or advanced Hebrew textual skills, but if you’re a little rusty that’s fine too. Please call Bracha at 310-802-9156 or email her at ladieschevruta@gmail. com. For women who love yoga, Molly Basler will be teaching a new yoga class at A Time For Dance at 7269 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. The new YogaTone class will be Mondays 9:00-10:00 AM and Thursdays 7:30-8:30 PM. It will focus on flexibility, burning fat, building strength, relaxing and toning. RSVP by emailing atimefordance@gmail.com or calling 323404-0827. For men who love to daven, and work late, here’s a new Minyan which has brag-

ging rights as the latest Maariv Minyan in Los Angeles: Maariv davening is at 10:30 PM at LINK at 1453 S. Robertson Boulevard. Please commit to coming to the Minyan by emailing rabbibrander@linkla. org. Mogen David shul has a vibrant Ashkenazi Minyan on Shabbos at 9:15 AM and weekday mornings at 6:40 AM. The shul has been in existence for over 70 years, but they are honored to have a new rabbi. Rabbi Daniel Grama, a Valley Torah High School rebbe will be the new Mogen David rabbi along with his rebbetzin, Mrs. Ruthy Gramma and six children. Previously, Rabbi Gramma was the rabbi of the Minyan at YOLA. The shul is located at 9717 W. Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. And that’s what’s new! Thank you for your wonderful response and keep sending in your news!

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

The countdown to Purim has commenced! I’ve already ordered my containers for Mishloach Manos and am trying to convince my children to go with my great costume ideas instead of ordering ninja suits complete with plastic weapons as they requested. In this week’s What’s New you’ll find some businesses to improve your life, a study to improve your health, and shuls and learning programs to improve yourself spiritually. Please email your new business, club, shul, or anything I may have missed to estee@nicktrading. com.

Photo Credits Yosef Ober


FEBRUARY 20, 2014


LINK Kollel In LA Hosts Speakers From Around The World The Los Angeles Intercommunity Kollel (LINK) recently hosted four major speakers: Rabbi Shalom Tendler from LA, Rabbi Chaim Halpern from France, and Rabbis Shmuel Brazil and Yonasan Rosenblum from Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Tendler, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Birchas Yitzchok, was the speaker in LINK’s monthly pre-Maariv guest slot. He gave a masterful presentation of the power of tefilla, especially vis a vis defending ourselves against Yishmael. He explained how the notion of “keshes” (bow) and “chaitz” (arrow) represent tefilla and tachanunim (supplications) throughout several examples from Tanach and how Yshmael is identified with keshes (in contradistinction to Esav, who is symbolized by the cherev-sword). Only when the thrust of our arrows are imbued with complete trust in HaShem can we defeat the missiles of Yshmael. Rav Chaim Halpern has lived an extraordinary life of over 100 years (bli ayin hora - ad meah v’esrim} dedicated to HaShem and his Torah. He shared some of the glory of the pre-war Gedolim that he was privileged to interact with, during his talk at LINK on Thursday night and in a Shabbos morning drasha. Having learned from both Litvishe and Chassdishe Gedolim and then surviving a harrowing 5 years in the tortuous death camps of the Nazis ym’”s, he moved to France where he re-established the famed Novardok Yeshivas in a network of 40 schools and 6,000 talmiddim. He passionately implored his audience to make themselves into a Mishkan in order to separate themselves from the deleterious influences of the ambient secular

milieu and to be able to transmit the purity of the Torah to our children. His warmth and spiritual charisma were exuded with every heartfelt word and gesture. The very next day (Feb. 9), LINK hosted a special musical kumsitz with Rav Shmuel Brazil, Rosh Yeshiva of Zeev HaTorah in Jerusalem and long-time Maggid shiur at Yeshivas Sh’or Yashuv in Far Rockaway. The evening was arranged by Rabbi Elchanan Shoff, LINK’s Associate Rosh Kollel, who worked under Rabbi Brazil until last year at his Yeshiva. Rabbi Brazil’s warmth, both in his Divrei Torah and his heartfelt music, deeply moved the many attendees. Finally, on the Shabbos of Parshas Ki Sisa (Feb. 14-15), LINK hosted wellknown columnist and author Rabbi Yonasan Rosenblum for an enlightening Shabbaton. On Fri. night, he spoke about the

challenges of raising happy children. H stressed the importance of encouraging each child to develop their unique kochos and striving to do their best rather than just getting the best grades. He also addressed the unique challenges of ba’aleit teshuva parents trying to raise frum from birth children. On Shabbos morning, he continued the theme, this time focusing on the unique challenges of teenagers and their tendencies to rebel. He stressed the importance of always showing our love for our children regardless of their external behavior and flirtations with unconventional norms. Before Mincha, he tackled the present situation in Eretz Yisrael including the conflict between the religious and secular communities. He concluded on an optimistic note, saying that it was still healthier to raise Torah families in Israel than in chutz la’aretz. Finally at Shalosh Seudos, he re-

flected on his experiences in writing biographies of Gedolim and leading laymen. He posited the notion that HaShem provided exactly the right leader for the tzibur in every generation, noting that no two Gedolim are the same. He also spoke about uniqueness of lay leaders who rose to the occasion to take on projects and leadership for Klal Yisrael as a result of the unique circumstances of their lives. LINK’s next Shabbaton will be on the Shabbos of March 7-8, featuring Rav Ron Yitzhak Eisenman of Cong. Ahavas Yisrael in Passaic, NJ who is also a well-known columnist and author. LINK, founded by Rabbi Asher Brander, is completing its 12th year of serving the greater LA community with over 50 shiurim weekly as well as many other opportunities to learn b’chavrusa and join in serious davening and spiritual growth.




FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Yeshiva Ketana of Los Angeles is growing and is looking for talented and motivated new team members. There are lead teacher positions available in early childhood and primary grades, as well as teacher’s aide opportunities across all levels. Competitive salaries commensurate with experience. Please email resumes to jobs@ykla.org. ALL INQUIRIES WILL BE TREATED CONFIDENTIALLY.

jobs@ykla.org | 818.766.7610

Emek’s Learning League Completes 9th Season Emek’s motzei Shabbos, father/son Learning League’s 9th season came to a close this past Sunday. This season was very successful with 120 boys and their fathers attending each week. The program combines serious Torah learning with an organized sports league. Each boy enrolled is placed on a basketball team and after attending learning, participates in weekly games against other age level teams. Fathers can learn individually with their son, or choose to attend a father/son class led by an Emek Rebbe. Each class also includes some one on one preparation enhancing the father/son experience. Each evening ends with pizza and raffles. Congratulations to this year’s championship teams: The Bears, P.B. Realty Lightning, and Dr. Roger Lim Tigers. This program is open to the entire Los Angeles community. For more information, contact Rabbi Tropper, mtropper@emek.org

Visit of the Toldos Aharon Rebbe in Los Angeles By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon It was the first ever visit of the Toldos Aharon Rebbe to Los Angeles. The Rebbe stayed the week from Wednesday Feb 5th to Wednesday Feb 12, 2014. The history of this chassidus goes back to the famed Rav Aharon Roth, whose name spread throughout Israel following his emigration before WWII. “Reb Areleh” ,author of the sefer Shomrei Emunim, gathered about him a group of followers desirous of maintaining a committed connection to Hashem with the proper intentions and behavior. Based in Meah Shearim, Jerusalem, his followers retained a unique dress code which included a white yarmulke and yellow bekishe (a specially made outer garment also referred to as a kapoteh/kaftan or frock.). With the passing of Reb Areleh in 1947, his son and his son-in-law both became Rebbes. His son’s group of Hasidic Jews kept the name “Shomerei Emunim.” The other successor, Reb Areleh’s son-inlaw, was Reb Avraham Yitzchak and this group became known as Toldos Aharon . Reb Avraham Yitzchak Kahn, the Toldos Aharon Rebbe, passed away in 1996. The present Toldos Aharon Rebbe , Reb

Dovid, has taken over the leadership and responsibilities of its Torah Institutions. It was on their behalf that he made the trip to Los Angeles, a community known for its support of worthy causes. During his visit in Los Angeles, the Rebbe made sure to see firsthand the various Yeshivos and Day Schools that provide the Jewish education for our children. Upon his arrival, the Rebbe was taken to “The Cheder” the Chassidishe Elementary School in Los Angeles, home to many of the chasiddishe children of our city. It was de rigueur for any Rebbe coming to Los Angeles to make the Cheder his first stop. And now 40 of the younger kinderlach stood in two lines, facing each other, waving their flags and waiting impatiently for the Rebbe’s arrival. Their Rebbies tried to keep them still and in line. It was only with the arrival of the Rebbe and his minions, that the restlessness ended. Rav Simcha Ullman, head of the Cheder, stepped forward to greet and welcome the Toldos Aharon Rebbe. As the Rebbe walked between the lines of children, he greeted them and the Rabbeim at their sides. The talmidim began singing a song of greeting to the Rebbe. The Cheder

Beis Medrash inside was already packed with the older talmidim of the Cheder and they also broke out in song as the Rebbe entered. Following Mincha, the Rebbe spoke to the talmidim and told them how special they were and how important they were for the Jews of Los Angeles. Two of the talmidim made a siyum on the completion of their learning in honor of the Rebbe. The Rebbe made a bracha on wine and handed out cake to the children as they walked by. Each child stopped to recite the mezonos bracha, heard the amen of the Rebbe and proceeded to gobble up their cake. Later that evening a reception was held for the Rebbe in the home of Heshy and Chany Jacobs. The community flocked to the Jacob’s home to see and greet the Toldos Aharon Rebbe. Words of welcome were offered up by the host, Heshy Jacobs, Harav Avrohom Halberstam and Harav Chaim Boruch Rubin. To a full house, the Rebbe spoke to the Jews of Los Angeles, words of encouragement and hope. The community was invited to join the Rebbe over Shabbos and to experience “Shabbos Yerushalayim in LA.” It was to be an uplifting Shabbos

with all davening and meals on Shabbos at the Kollel Yechiel Yehuda the “Chassidishe Kollel” on La Brea. Many in the community took this occasion to daven Mincha & Kabalos Shabbos with the Rebbe, attend the Friday night Tish and daven all of Shabbos in his presence. As the end of Shabbos neared, the packed group at seuda shlishis sat in near darkness, sang and listen again to the penetrating words of the Rebbe. At the conclusion of Shabbos and following Maariv, everyone went outside for Kiddush Levana (new moon) and then returned to the shul for a moving havdalah. Two hours later everyone was invited to the home of Reb Berel “Barry” Weiss, the Rebbe’s host during his stay in Los Angeles, for a sumptuous Melava Malka. After speeches from the Rebbe and some of the prominient guests, the singing ended and following bentching, it was over for the night. A tired but joyous community headed home knowing that the Toldos Aharon Rebbe had left his mark on the Jews of Los Angeles.

Photo credits Arye D. Gordon


FEBRUARY 20, 2014


Havdalah with the Toldos Aharon Rebbe at the Chassidishe Kollel

(L seated) Heshy Jacobs, Host of Reception for Rebbe and (3rd from L) Reb Berel Weiss, Host of Melava Malka in honor of Toldos Aharon Rebbe


the celebrity judge. The judges were treated to eight different chulents, which were ranked based on taste, texture, and creativity. After intense tasting and competition, Rabbi Baalhaness, Noam Posner, and Doni Yellin’s team emerged victorious! Their prize? A chance to debut their winning chulent on the menu at Mexikosher. According to Rabbi Dov Emerson, YULA’s Head of School, “it was great to see all of the faculty and rebbeim involved in the program. Some were team members, some served as judges, while still others helped in the technical coordination of the program. It was so nice to see the degree of investment that our faculty and rebbeim have in our boys, and that there is a genuine happiness in spending time together.” The entire school is excited for the rest of the Adar festivities that will continue to unfold!

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

What better way to celebrate Purim Kattan and enter into Shabbat than with the delicious aroma of chulent wafting throughout the school? In celebration of Purim Kattan, the entire YULA Boys High School was treated to a very exciting and tasty chulent competition! Students signed up to put their chulent-making skills to the test, and eight teams were slated to compete. On Thursday afternoon, the teams gathered their ingredients and put their chulents on to cook overnight. Walking into school on Friday morning, the halls were filled with the scents of Shabbat, as beans, meat, and barley simmered together in large crockpots. The entire student body gathered together for the main event. Famed Chef Katsuji Tanabe, creator of Mexikosher and champion of Food Network’s “Chopped”, made a surprise guest appearance as

Science Night at Emek Hebrew Academy The room was buzzing with excitement as Emek third-fifth graders presented their projects to fellow students and parents. Not only were they showing off their fancy experiments and activities, they also made sure to share a Torah insight related to their projects. There were incredible presentations such as: Simple Machines Used Today and Those Used to Build The Bais Hamikdash, Rocks and Minerals and the Choshen Mishpat, How the Kidneys Work and the

Asher Y’atzar, Eggsperiments and the Laws of Shaluach Haken, Lunar Olympics and Laws Related to New Moon, Magnetism and Avodas Hashem, just to name a few. All of the projects were created in school by groups of students. They had to collaborate on the project, create it from scratch, and learn how to effectively communicate their ideas - all important life skills that we are working to develop here at Emek.

It’s Delish Candy Factory Tour Rabbi Nowosiolski and the 4th grade boys of Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov/ Ohr Eliyhu in Los Angeles thank Rabbi Grawitsky for his magnanimous tour of It’s Delish Candy Factory, where they learned about business ethics, production and halacha. Rabbi Grawitsky explained how the candies are made and the importance of each machine in the process. He elaborated on how halacha guides his business practices and the importance of weighing all candies correctly in order to avoid cheating your customer. This tied into our learning of Yaakov Avinu as a “Man of Truth” when he worked for Lavan, and in his dealings with Esav. The boys were fascinated by the detailed explanations that the rabbi gave concerning the many challenges of Kashrus in the food industry and how he works with Kehilla kosher to ensure that all of his products are of the highest standard. Rabbi Grawitsky demonstrated to the boys the many opportunities of Chesed

available to him as well. When he found out that this year Coke would not be producing kosher for Pesach soda he promptly decided that the It’s Delish company would make many flavors of soda for Pesach to meet the community need. The students were very impressed with the factory and grateful that despite his busy schedule preparing for Pesach, Rabbi Grawitsky was able to provide them this wonderful opportunity. The tour ended on a high note with the boys each receiving a generous sampling of the candy produced at the plant.


Purim Kattan with Chef Katsuji Tanabe!


FEBRUARY 20, 2014


Global Kindness Recognized at Yeshivat Ohr Chanoch’s Third Annual Banquet On Wednesday, February 5, 2014 Nouriel & Yael Cohen and Family, of Los Angeles where honored with the Amud Hachesed Award at Yeshivat Ohr Chanoch’s third Annual Banquet. They merited receiving this award for their dedication and work of their organization Global Kindness. Global Kindness is an organization that anonymously and honorably supports over 350 families, one person at a time. Their goal is to support and extend these services to as many as 1000 needy families in Los Angeles and around the world In the words of Rabbi Yermiyahu Ornstein - “It is hard to estimate the number of lives that were – and continue to be touched by the chesed of the Cohen Family. The Cohen Family has the zechut to be intimately involved in running the Global Kindness organization and is always looking for ways to do chesed and help the community. One cannot visit the Co-

hen’s house on any night and not be inspired by the massive Chesed operation that is run from their very own backyard. The achdut, self-sacrifice, and total giving of the Cohen’s on behalf of the needy in the community are something that we can all learn from. As pillars of chesed and exemplifying what it means to live a life governed by Torah values, their family serves as a role model for the entire community. “ Until today Global Kindness has been running out of the Cohen family’s backyard in addition to their downtown warehouse. Baruch Hashem their organization has grown tremendously and can no longer

be run out of their personal residence. They are looking to open a storefront in the Pico-Robertson area so that they can continue their good work and service our Jewish community. If you would like to contribute to this great Mitzvah you can follow this link to their website. http://myglobalkindness. org/

Remembering Ariel Sharon By Alisa Roberts Monday, February 10th marked the end of the shloshim for Israel’s former Prime Minister Ariel “Arik” Sharon. Young Israel of North Beverly Hills, together with Mitchabrim, hosted a memorial event for Mr. Sharon, and the community turned out in force to honor him. The evening began with a video tribute. A filled auditorium watched as images of Mr. Sharon from his youth, military service, and political and family life played above the stage. Then Rabbi Pini Dunner took the stage, standing between American and Israeli flags, and welcomed everyone in Hebrew and in English. “Ariel Sharon was an extraordinary man,” he said. He spoke of his legacy, his hard work, and his engaging personality. “In short,” said Rabbi Dunner, “he was a true leader of men and a hero of Israel.” The next speaker came from a greater distance. Gilad Sharon, son of the late prime minister, spoke via a live video linkup. Sitting in his kitchen in the Negev, with spices and hanging copper pots visible in the background, he spoke about his memories of his father. “In my opinion, my father was a great father – the best.” He reminisced about the things his father had taught him and the conversations he had had with his grandchildren. He spoke of his father’s difficult and proud moments, of his pride in

the land. When asked for his favorite story, he shared how even in the most demanding moments of being Prime Minister he used to call home to ask how many calves and sheep had been born. “His strength didn’t come from the party or the Knesset – it came from the land.” He closed his remarks by noting how many people had loved his father, across political boundaries. He also thanked the community. “I know of the strong relationship my father had with your community, and I’m grateful.” Raphy Nissel, a close friend of Mr. Sharon, spoke next. He commended his dedication to Israel, calling him the greatest general and statesman since Bar Kochba. “From a young age to his last breath, Ariel Sharon was fighting for Israel.” Chazan Nati Bar-Am then performed a soulful rendition of the song “Bab-al-Wad,” commemorating the terrible battle of the same name that took place during the 1948 the War of Independence in which Mr. Sharon was gravely wounded. The song was followed by “El Maleh Rahamim.” The program included speeches by Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles David Siegel and AIPAC West Coast Director Elliot Brandt, as well as a video tribute from Prime Minister Netanyahu. The Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy Choir also

performed, singing a beautiful and moving version of “Lu Yehi,” a song emblematic of the Yom Kippur War. The evening closed with a prayer for the State of Israel and “Hatikva.” Rabbi Dunner, who is both the senior rabbi of Young Israel of North Beverly Hills and the West Coast director of Mitchabrim, was not only happy with the event – he was extremely moved. “I found it very meaningful that so many people came. Mr. Sharon has been out of circulation for many years; he didn’t pass away in the prime of his career, and so perhaps he is not at the forefront of peoples’ minds. So it was hard to know how many would come, and the fact that hundreds did was amazing.” He was also grateful to have the participation of Mr. Sharon’s family and close friends. “It made it much more personal and real. It was a personal tribute – not just to a leader and a soldier, but to a friend and family man – which is a much more Jewish way to remember someone.” This holistic approach was part of the design of the evening, with speeches, multimedia, and song blending to not only remember one man but to lift the spirits of those remembering him. “People left uplifted. I think we paid proper tribute to a great Jewish leader.”

The mitzva you don’t want to miss…



MOTZEI SHABBOS MARCH 8, 2014 s’’ga, ‘c rst ’z ouhk rut

FEBRUARY 20, 2014



Dovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, Egor, Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev, Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Mao Ahuva, Amit, Areli, Ariel, Avital, Aviv, Ayal, Gad, Gal, Gil, Hadar, Hadassah, Shulamit, Chana, El11 chanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka, Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yael , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, Shira, Miri, Leah, Chaim, Boris, Shefi, Moshe, Nir, Paltiel, Dovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, Egor, Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev, Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, Ahuva, Amit, Areli, Ariel, Avital, Aviv, Ayal, Gad, Gal, Gil, Hadar, Ha dassah, Shulamit, Chana, Elchanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka, Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yael , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, Shira, Miri, Leah, Chaim, Boris, Shefi, Moshe, Nir, Paltiel, Dovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, Egor, Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev, Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, Ahuva, Amit, Areli, Ariel, Avital, Aviv Ayal, Gad, Gal, Gil, Hadar, Hadassah, Shulamit, Chana, Elchanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka, Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yae , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, Shira, Miri, Leah, Chaim, Boris, Shefi, Moshe, Nir, Paltiel, Dovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, Egor, Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, SHLOMO RECHNITZ Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev,YEHUDA Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, HONORARY DINNER CHAIRMAN Ahuva, Amit, Areli, Ariel, Avital, Aviv, Ayal, Gad, Gal, Gil, Hadar, Hadassah, Shulamit, Chana, Elchanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka, Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yael , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, Shira, Miri, Leah, Chaim, Boris, Shefi, Moshe, Nir, Paltiel, Dovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, Egor, Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev, Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, Ahuva, Amit, Areli, Ariel, Avital, Aviv, Ayal, Gad, Gal, Gil, Hadar, Ha dassah, Shulamit, Chana, Elchanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka, Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yael , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, Shira, Miri, Leah, Chaim, Boris, Shefi, Moshe, Nir, Paltiel, Dovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, Egor, Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev, Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, Ahuva, Amit, Areli, Ariel, Avital, Aviv Ayal, Gad, Gal, Gil, Hadar, Hadassah, Shulamit, Chana, Elchanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka,Dedication Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yae Tribute to , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, Shira, Miri, Leah, Chaim, Boris, Shefi, Moshe, Nir, Paltiel, Dovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, BEIT Egor,SHEMESH Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, SHUVU SHUVU KIRUV Darina, Glaina,GIRLS Boaz,HIGH Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa,RABBONIM Lev, Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, SCHOOL Ahuva, Amit, Areli,INAriel, Avital, Gil, Hadar, BUTTERMAN Hadassah, Shulamit, Chana, ElMEMORY OF Aviv, Ayal, Gad, Gal, RABBI YEHUDA chanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, SORAH DEVORAH PAM v’’gDevorah, Riki, Rivka,DIRECTOR Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yael , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, Shira, Miri, Leah, Chaim, Boris, Shefi, Moshe, Nir, Paltiel, Dovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, Egor, Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev, Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, Ahuva, Amit, Areli, Ariel, Avital, Aviv, Ayal, Gad, Gal, Gil, Hadar, Ha dassah, Shulamit, Chana, Elchanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka, Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yael , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, ARI HOCH Anja, Dima, Egor, WOLFSON Shira, Miri,DOVID Leah, Chaim, Boris,NAFTALI Shefi,MILLER Moshe, Nir, Paltiel, Dovid, Avi, Gregory, NOSSON MOTECHIN JOURNAL CO-CHAIRMAN DINNER CHAIRMAN DINNER CO-CHAIRMAN JOURNAL Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla,CO-CHAIRMAN Anya Darya, Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev, Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, Ahuva, Amit, Areli, Ariel, Avital, Aviv Ayal, Gad, Gal, Gil, Hadar, Hadassah, Shulamit, Chana, Elchanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka, Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yae , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, Shira, Miri, Leah, Chaim, Boris, Shefi, Moshe, Nir, Paltiel, Dovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, Egor, Faina, Igor, Inna, Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev, Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, Ahuva, Amit, Areli, Ariel, Avital, Aviv, Ayal, Gad, Gal, Gil, Hadar, Hadassah, Shulamit, Chana, Elchanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka, Aharon, Abba, Carmi, Baruch, Chagai, THE PALACE Alexander, Yonit, Alex Chana, Miriam, Yael , Shira Chaya, Svetlana, Shira, Miri, Leah, Chaim, Boris, 780 MCDONALD AVE, BROOKLYN, NY 8:15Moshe, RECEPTION DINNERDovid, Avi, Gregory, Anja, Dima, Egor, Faina, Igor,VALET Shefi, Nir,9:15 Paltiel, Inna,PARKING Dasha, Dimitry, Fyodor, Alexey, Alla, Anya Darya, Darina, Glaina, Boaz, Chananel, Ilya Irina, Lior, Yoni, Noa, Lev, To make Ahuva, a reservation pleaseAreli, call: shuvu 718-692-3434 Nova, Shai, Ronit, Meir, Maor, Amit, Ariel, Avital, Aviv, Ayal, Gad, Gil, Hadar, Hadassah, Shulamit, Chana, Elchanan, Eldad, Nachman, Rivi, Miriam, Devorah, Riki, Rivka, Aharon, Abba,

We Dare Not Forget

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Chanukah and Purim are somewhat kindred spirits in the Jewish calendar. Both commemorate a victory in a struggle over an oppressive enemy, both are memorialized in Al Hanisim, and in modern times both are celebrations that involve copious amounts of eating. However, it is worthwhile to note where the similarities end.  If you look at the Purim Story, the narrative plays out along the lines of the common Jewish Adage – they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.  In the Purim version of the Al Hanisim prayer we say that the nature of the danger was one of physical destruction – ‫להשמיד להרוג ולאבד‬to kill to destroy to annihilate, and we thank Hashem that he turned the tables, and we were able to survive as a people. However, when it comes to Chanukah, the picture is somewhat more complex.  Whereas on Purim, it was much more about a physical confrontation, Chanukah was a war of ideas, a clash of ideologies that presented two very different ways of looking at the world. The physical and military battle was, more than anything else, a direct result of that war of ideas that made the Jewish people rethink their values.  The Hellenic view was rooted in the here and now, and the pursuit of ephemeral pleasures – “we do now what feels good.”  On the other hand, the traditional Jewish culture had a much more expansive view.  Judaism was all about maintaining tradition, understanding where we come from, and being aware



By Rabbi Adir Posy

of the eternal consequences of our actions. Put slightly differently, Chanukah and Purim give us two different views of the chain of Jewish history. Purim celebrates our day to day existential survival, while Chanukah fills in the picture to remind us not only that we survived but how we did so, and what that requires us to become. The common denominator of these two Chagim (and much of the rest of the Jewish calendar) is the fact that we do not exist today without a keen awareness of where we have been. Purim and Chanukah remind us that our existence as a people, and our values, are part of a long river of history, and Hashem navigates our path. We believe in growing today and tomorrow, because of the strength we have received from a thousand yesterdays.  This is why we spend so much time, effort, and energy obsessing over the minutia of Jewish law, because doing so connects us to the eternal, and because doing Mitzvot connects us to an eternal chain of history. It is interesting that if you look in the Al Hanisim Prayer, you find exactly this notion highlighted.  What is it that we mention in our Chanukah Prayer –  ‫תורתיך‬ ‫ –להשכיחם‬the goal of our enemies was to make us forget. Because forgetting our Torah, our tradition, our shared history, is the surest path to losing our identity and fading into oblivion.   This lesson is true in every single Jewish generation.  The push to forget the past is far too easy and pervasive in almost every society and culture that the Jewish people have encountered. We live in a world that is so quick to say “out with the old, in with the new” a world where the constant news

cycle and short attention span makes it incredibly difficult to have an appreciation of context, or even to remember one issue once the next topic du jour hits the headlines. Yet remember we must, for that is the only way we can continue to survive. If we truly understand Chanukah and Purim, we can’t walk into a shul and not stand up for the person who spent his life building it. You can’t go through a Yom Ha’atzmaut without a Yom Hazikaron. You can’t look into the face of a child in 5774 and not realize what that represents barely half a century after the Shoah. We spend a great deal of time and energy focusing on the youth and the perpetuation of the Jewish future. While this pursuit is perhaps one of the most noble and valuable we can imagine, it cannot come at the expense of other segments of our community. So many conversations need to occur about planning for, caring for and living through what is colloquially referred to as the “golden years.”  As the new millennium rolls on, we have more and more seniors who are a cherished part of our community. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to these giants who have helped to chart our present path.   As a community, our message to all seniors and their families is very simple. You are not forgotten because we do not forget the fabric of who we are as a people – no one big or small, rich or poor, influential or not should be consigned to a world where they are relegated as relics of the past without seeing themselves in the present and future.  We are Jews, and we don’t leave our family behind.  Our very name of Yehudim

comes from the word Hoda’ah - to recognize and be thankful for all the goodness of yesterday that has made today and tomorrow possible. Many families in our community strive to maintain balance as they care for the generations that came before them. Caregivers are challenged to prioritize between safety, autonomy and prudent planning, often with many complex variables at play. Baruch Hashem, we are blessed with a plethora of people, organizations and resources involved in this holy work, and it is our job as a community to make sure those resources are available and the important conversations are occurring. It is in this vein that a partnership of community institutions is sponsoring a day of conversation about the Golden Years on March 9th at Beth Jacob. The idea of this day is to facilitate these important conversations and to showcase resources and programs available to those planning for, living through or caring for those at this stage of life. As we approach Purim and we ponder Al Hanisim, we thank Hashem for our physical survival as well as the fact that we survive as a people with a mission and a sense of holy purpose.  It is our job now to take that remembrance and ensure that those values permeate not only our past, but our present and future as well. Rabbi Adir Posy is Associate Rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation.

We invite you to a Beth Jacob Community Yom Iyun

A half day seminar for anyone who is living, planning for, or caring for family members in this stage of life.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

9:00 am to 12:30 pm at Beth Jacob Make sound decisions for your financial future.

Understand the latest advances in medicine and insurance options.

Bring balance to your life as you care for parents, children and yourself.

And much more

Featuring a lunchtime

Senior Resource Fair Showcasing products & services for seniors and their family members

Free of charge and includes light breakfast and lunch. RSVP is essential. To reserve, please call (310) 278-1911, email rsvp@bethjacob.org, or visit bethjacob.org/goldenyears Businesses interested in participating in our senior resource fair, please call our office, email reception@bethjacob.org, or download an application at bethjacob.org/goldenyears in partnership with

Bring Torah to Life.

Beth Jacob Congregation 9030 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills (310) 278-1911 • www.bethjacob.org




FEBRUARY 20, 2014


Hillel student and Teacher Make Special Delivery to IDF Base in Tze’elim By Daphne Orenshein, Fourth Grade teacher at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy “I can’t describe to you how much this means to us. That these children at your school, Hillel, care for us like this… there are no words.” These were the words of one of the Sayeret Givati officers in my son, Kevin’s battalion. It was all worth it. This project, this adventure, was a fruitful success. Just one week earlier, I was speaking to pe Coach Chumie Begin at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy (“Hillel”) about the extremely frigid weather that Kevin’s group was experiencing while patrolling the northern border of Israel. Coach Chumie suggested that Hillel’s Student Council get involved. That was all it took. Rabbi Zachary Swigard, Coach Chumie and all the student council representatives got busy collecting funds from Hillel’s families to purchase thermal gloves, socks and hats for the IDF soldiers in Sayeret Givati. A financial goal was set. It was surpassed in less than 3 days! Way to go Hillel community! We had planned to visit Israel over winter break with our youngest son, Brian, who had just celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and had never been to Israel. We decided to purchase the military-quality winter gear from Botach Tactical and carry it with us to hand-deliver to the soldiers. The Botach family was eager to assist and, in fact, as parents at Hillel as well, donated the hats. Everything was coming together beautifully. It was enough to make a representative and alumna of Hillel like me simply cry out of elated joy. In fact, Brian was looking forward to this ‘special delivery’ even more than visiting the Kotel! Visiting the base, we were allowed to climb into Kevin’s UAV (armored tank) and then observe as the soldiers were drilled on repairing the tread of another tank. We waited patiently for our chance to give the soldiers the gifts from Hillel’s families. Kevin purchased snacks and soda in advance. He told us

that half of the soldiers were at another base setting it up as it was to be the new Sayeret Givati base. Finally, it was time. As I explained how Hillel is unique in that we are loyal to and highly respectful of the IDF and Israel in general, the soldiers sat, fully focused, not yet touching the snacks. I explained that the students of Hillel barely heard about the plight of the soldiers and winter when they began suggesting how to help and handing over coins from their pockets! The 1st/2nd grades at Hillel took a special interest in this project as they knew that their teacher, Morah Yael Gelfer herself had served in the IDF. Her class alone raised over $300! There were enough funds to consider adding to the gifts. I told Kevin to investigate what other gear or supplies the soldiers could use. After hearing how devoted the Hillel families had been and seeing the actual items before them, not merely the promise of them, the soldiers began whooping and shaking Brian’s hand, hugging him and thanking us, as representatives of Hillel. Of all the events we experienced in Israel, the visit to this base was overwhelmingly the greatest. Seeing Brian shake hands with his ‘heroes’ who protect our Holy Land on an hourly basis, rain or shine, and seeing the soldiers shower us with gratitude in return, it just demonstrated how “Kol Yisrae-l Arevim Ze Lazeh.” Watching the soldiers help each other find the right size hat or gloves or socks was just heart-warming. They nudged and teased each other, laughing and celebrating. I spent the 2-hour drive back with a silly grin on my face, repeating how special that experience was. And the best part was knowing that Hillel can continue to assist our soldiers as the funds were still being brought to Hillel while we were already in Israel. Many, many thanks to the Hillel community. This truly was an adventure full of mitzvoth. Yasher koach!

Making Fridays Meaningful with YULA Kollel On Friday afternoons, as most students eagerly await the final bell to go home for the weekend, a group of dedicated students gather together in the Sephardic Beit Midrash during lunch time for an extra dose of Torah. Two years ago, senior Yonah Hiller had the idea to create a YULA Kollel. What started out as a group of 10 students meeting during lunch has grown to over 35 students every week! The Kollel has gained great momentum among the boys; it is the perfect end to the school week, enjoying pizza and Torah with fellow classmates. According to Hiller, “I wanted a chance for students to get together outside

of the classroom, without any pressure from homework or tests, and just get to learn Torah li’shma. YULA Kollel is a great way for students to hear a short dvar Torah and be able to share it with their own families at their Shabbos tables.” New students are always welcome and encouraged to join! The Kollel meets every Friday at 10:50 AM in the Sephardic Beit Midrash.

Hillel student Brian Orenshein with members of his brothers tank unit and their new winter gear.

Chayalim reading the letters sent to them by the students of Hillel

Hillel student Brian Orenshein and Hillel teacher Daphne Orenshein with members of his brothers tank unit and their new winter gear.



Ponevez Yeshiva’s 48th Annual Los Angeles Dinner By Rabbi Arye D. Gordon On Monday evening February 10th 2014, the 10th of Adar I, 5774, the Ponevez 48th Annual West Coast Dinner was held at the Sofitel Los Angeles Hotel. The community was honored by the presence of the Ponevez Yeshiva Batay Avoth President, Harav Eliezer Kahaneman, shlita. The Rosh Hayeshiva is a grandson of Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman zt”l, the guiding force who brought the yeshiva from Europe to Eretz Yisroel. It is almost 50 years since the Ponevez Yeshiva made its first connection with the West Coast Jewish Community. The relationship continued to grow and strengthen over the years and now the visit of Rav Eliezer Kahaneman shlita is looked forward to with great anticipation. The attachment of the Los Angeles Community with Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman zt”l, known as the “Ponovezher Rov”, started with that first visit to Los Angeles many years ago. A consummate fundraiser, the Rosh Hayeshiva created a bond with the many Jews of this city, religious and non-religious alike. He was loved and respected by all of them and to this day, families and relatives continue their support for Ponevez and its institutions. The evening’s MC was Tzvi Fleischmann who welcomed the guests and introduced all the speakers. This year’s dinner was dedicated to “7 Decades of Torah Learning at Ponevez in Eretz Yisroel and the Incredible Vision of the Ponevezer Rov zt”l”. The dinner was also dedicated in the memory of Rabbi Jacob and Mrs. Rose Levine a”h. Of the Levine’s, Rav Kahaneman said, “They were always staunch supporters of the yeshiva. Rav Levine was the dinner chairman for our first West Coast Event and he said at the time that as long as he was able to, he would fulfill this role.”

Rabbi Kalman Topp, Senior Rabbi of Beth Jacob of Beverly Hills, made the presentation of the Kesser Shem Tov Award to Dr. and Mrs. Robert Levine. In making the presentation Rabbi Topp told the audience that “not only is Dr Levine a prominent ophthalmologist, but he and his wife are committed to the torah and its teachings and they truly represent torah and chesed ”. A Hakoras Hatov Award was presented to Mr. and Mrs. Moshe Sarto by Rabbi Yitzchok Summers of Anshe Emes. Among the many good deeds done by the Sarto’s, it includes the famed Los Angeles Community Email Announcements known as the “Hillygram”. The “Hillygram” provides daily information online of all events and announcements relating to the Los Angeles Community. A Gemillas Chesed Award was presented to Ronit Kashanian (Fallas) and the Kashanian family. A Tzeschem L’Shalom Award was presented to Mr. and Mrs. Gary Dalin and a Special Service Award was presented to Mrs. Nettie Shuken. A video of the Ponovez Yeshiva and its various facilities was shown. The audience got a glimpse of life in the yeshiva past and present. It was an opportunity to see hundreds of yeshiva boys learning in this great citadel of Torah. Throughout the evening music entertainment was presented by Naftali Finkel, chazanut from Yaakov Rosenblatt and a special music interlude from Sam Glaser. Sam is a composer, performer and interpreter of Jewish music. He is referred to as one of the top ten Jewish artists in the United States by Moment Magazine.

Rav Kahaneman congratulates Moshe Sarto, Recipient of HaKoras Hatov Award at Ponevez Dinner

The last of the speakers was Rabbi Jonathan Rosenberg, the Senior Rabbi Shaarey Zedek Congregation, which is the largest Orthodox congregation in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. The guests got to hear from Harav Eliezer Kahaneman, who thanked those who have stood by the yeshiva all these years. “We are still growing,” he said. “Torah is for every Jew. And everyone must study Torah. And we need your help to continue this work and those who cannot study as much as they would like to, know that you can fulfill your obligation by supporting Torah.”

Dr Robert Levine Recipient of Kesser Shem Tov Award speaking at the Dinner

Two Key Hires for ETTA Bring Organization to New Level ETTA is pleased to announce that the organization has hired its first Director of Development, Jane A. Zuckerman, previously Executive Director of Temple Israel Hollywood, Director of Resource Development for Temple Beth Am and Development Director for SOVA Community Food and Resource Program of Jewish Family Service, Los Angeles. ETTA is also excited to announce the hire of Jeffrey Popkin, MSW, LCSW, and special needs professional for over 30 years, as its new Director of Operations. Mr. Popkin brings his extensive experience as Associate Director of Kern Regional Center, one of California’s 21 Regional Centers, which coordinates community-based services for 250,000 citizens who have developmental disabilities. Mr.

Popkin provided services to approximately 7,000 people in Kern, Inyo and Mono Counties. ETTA, which merged with OHEL Children’s and Family Services last year, is the premier resource for residential services for Jewish individuals with disabilities on the West Coast. ETTA currently operates four group homes, one independent living home, Supported and Independent Living Services, vocational training, educational training and workshops, social events, a Day Program, a summer camp program, and volunteer programs. ETTA has now embarked

on an ambitious plan to expand over the next seven years to meet the needs of the Los Angeles Jewish community as part of its “200 by 2020” plan (to house, or support in various housing arrangements, 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020). “I am looking forward to being part of the ETTA team which is meeting the goal of providing additional quality, community-based living arrangements,” states Mr. Popkin. “Over my years of service to the developmentally disabled I have always strived to develop services and supports

that enhance the quality of life.” ETTA is a vital agency to our city – no one else provides the range and type of services they do for our Jewish population,” says Ms. Zuckerman. “I am very excited to be a part of this team and help the organization grow.” ETTA is thrilled to be bringing Mr. Popkin to the LA community, and to bring Ms. Zuckerman on board, enhancing its services to people with special needs and forwarding the vision of ETTA as an inclusive, participatory community of people with and without special needs, succeeding and growing together.

Photo credits Arye D. Gordon


FEBRUARY 20, 2014



An example of Sharona Motkin’s Creative Basket

with a unique house ware item that can be used throughout the year. Mrs. Duchman designs her Shalach Manos around the gift item, which can be an Italian Glass serving dish, a bedazzled serving tray, cute muffin tin, or even a useful Keurig cup holder. The piece is stacked with unique and gourmet goodies. Call 323-620-3618. Sharona Motkin’s creations focus on delicious baked goods. Sharona is a professional pastry chef who will design unique, fresh, individualized baked treats for your Mishloach Manos. She will customize treats to fit with your theme and can creates cookies, cupcakes, and cake

pops around your theme. She then expertly packages the treats to create a one of a kind, delectable dessert. Orders must be in by Monday, March 10th. Pickup or delivery is available. Please order by emailing mychefsharona@gmail.com. Cambridge Farms and Glatt Mart have a large selection of beautiful, classic Mishloach Manos. Each basket is wrapped by an expert gift basket creator and includes many treats. The baskets come in all sizes, with the larger ones containing gourmet Kosher wines and candies and nuts from their in-house selection. Smaller Mishloach Manos for children

Jewish Women’s Initiative Cookbook Wins First Prize in Competition By Alisa Roberts On February 7th, Morris Press Cookbooks announced their annual contest winners – and Try It, You’ll Like It, a cookbook created by the Jewish Women’s Initiative, took first prize. The Jewish Women’s Initiative, or JWI, is a division of Aish Los Angeles. It began in 2010 as an outreach program for Jewish moms who are seeking to explore their own spirituality while bringing Jew-

ish values and meaningful Jewish practice to their families. They partner with the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project to take groups of women on subsidized trips to Israel. The women receive a scholarship for the trip in exchange for a commitment to learn with Aish when they return. Over the past four years, the JWI has taken 120 Jewish moms to Israel. “They get so inspired by the trip and what we’re doing that, when they come home, they really want to help us out financially,” says Rebetzin Chana Heller, Director of the JWI. Several groups have decided to help raise funds in order to send the next wave of moms to Israel, and to support women’s learning in Los Angeles. And that’s where the idea for the cookbook started. “The trip we had in 2012 decided that they wanted to create a cookbook,” explains Rebetzin Heller. “Their goal was to raise enough money to send the next group of women to Israel.” They created their cookbook through Morris Press Cookbooks, which boasts the largest cookbook contest in the nation. There was a cookbook committee, spearheaded by Sheri Levy and Phyllis Shinbane. Over twenty women worked for many months on the book, which included recipes collected from a much larger pool of wom-

en, including mothers and grandmothers of those submitting. They wanted to not only produce a great cookbook that would be a profitable fundraiser, but also to win the competition – and the $5000 cash prize that came along with it. And they did just that, bringing the total profits of the cookbook to about $20,000. These funds will help to subsidize the Israel trips, as well as local learning. The JWI has programming in the city and the San Fernando Valley. They learn regularly with women from at least 15 Reform and Conservative synagogues, creating a vibrant learning community for moms. They have also started an annual Shabbos of unity, where women from all denominations come to learn and celebrate together. “Last year we had women representing 28 different synagogues. Where else do they have the opportunity to interface with women from the larger Jewish communi-

ty? It creates a feeling of unity.” While there is talk about putting together a second cookbook, that is not where the fundraising efforts end. The most recently returned group has designed bracelets which they are selling. Another group put together a silent auction for Aish’s annual gala banquet. “This isn’t something that’s required of them,” says Rebetzin Heller. “They don’t have to raise money for us; they do it because they appreciate the gift of going to Israel so much. It’s a spiritual journey. And they want to give back.” The JWI is now accepting applications for their next trip to Israel. If you are interested in hearing more you should contact Sharon Shenker at (310) 926-2356. To purchase the award-winning cookbook, Try It, You’ll Like It, call Aish Los Angeles 310-278-8672 or e-mail michali@aishla.com. $24.99 + shipping.

Photo Credit: Estee Cohen

Rochel Duchman’s Perfect Setting

contain plenty of nosh and noise makers. It’s very convenient to do your Seudah shopping and Shalach Manos shopping at one stop. Cambridge Farms is located at 12431 Burbank Boulevard in Valley Village and their phone number 818-5066661. Glatt Mart is located at 8708 West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles and their phone number is 310-289-6888. Both Glatt Mart and Cambridge are under the Kosher supervision of the RCC. Esther Bengio uses her supreme creativity and arts-and-crafts skill to create fun, colorful, glittery creations that inspires repeat customers year after year. All Purim baskets are filled with packaged Kosher treats and include a free Purim postcard and handmade décor. To make your order please call 415-787-2424. Delivery is free with $100 order, or $12.00. The new show in town Holy Cow Creamery will be creating exciting, scrumptious, custom Mishloach Manos based on your taste buds or theme. The gifts will include their incredible baked goods and a gift ware item artfully wrapped and laden with treats. They’re well priced at $6 and up and are all Chalav Yisroel and supervised by the RCC. They can also deliver the goodies and will be sure to delight you. Visit their shop at 8946 West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles or call 310777-0168.

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Gone are the days when Mishloach Manos meant a mini grape juice and an orange. In Los Angeles, Purim day is a time to show your creativity and good taste and wow your friends with your tasty and decadent food. If you would rather delegate the task, there are many stores and crafty individuals who would be happy to ease the burden. Please note that unless specified, individuals are not under professional Kosher supervision and it is up to the consumer to ensure the products meet their Kashrus standards. Let’s start with the original Shalach Manos providers: Munchies. Munchies is a huge Kosher candy emporium that expertly puts together gorgeous and professional Mishloach Manos baskets. They can build the gift based on your specific requests and budget, or you can choose from the hundreds of premade baskets filled with chocolate dipped pretzels, candies of all flavors, and specialty chocolates made in house. Munchies Kashrus is supervised by Kehilla. Located at 8859 West Pico Boulevard and call 310-777-0221. Delivery is available and orders can be made from out of town. Rochel Duchman at A Perfect Setting makes her stunning Mishloach Manos with the future in mind. After Purim is over and all the ribbon, cellophane, and fake grass gets put on the curb, you are left


LA’s Got Purim Baskets

The Most Precious Thing of All Rabbi Asher Brander


FEBRUARY 20, 2014


A parsha about construction: First we account for the materials of the Mishkan [35:59] Take [collect] from among yourselves a terumah-offering to Hashem. Every man whose heart impels him to generosity shall bring a terumah-offering to Hashem: gold, silver and copper, And greenish-blue wool, dark red wool, … incense of aromatic spices, and onyx stones, and stones for setting into the ephod and the breastplate. Then we build it! [ibid, 10-19] All those who are wise in heart among you shall come and make all that Hashem has commanded. The mishkon, its tent and its cover,...  The ark and its poles... table and its poles.. The menorah for light... Yet one utensil, the kiyor [laver/basin] appears to come from a wholly different source [38:8] He made the basin out of copper and its base out of copper, from the maros hatzovos [mirrors of the women who had gathered] at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. What are these mirrors? A famous Rashi gives us the background: The daughters of Israel possessed mirrors... Even those they did not withhold from bringing as a contribution for the mishkon. However, Moshe found them repulsive since their purpose was to incite the evil inclination. G-d said to him: Accept [them], for these are dearer to me than everything else because through them the women raised multitudes in Egypt. When their husbands were exhausted from their labor they (the women) would bring them food and drink. They would then take the mirrors and each would look at herself and her husband in the mirror, and entice him with words, saying, “See! I am more beautiful than you,” thereby arousing their husbands’ desire, and they would cohabit with them. They conceived and gave birth

there. As is stated: “Under the apple-tree did I arouse you.” The washbasin was made out of the mirrors for they served to bring about harmony between a man and his wife,... [1]) It is this same episode that the Talmud refers to when it states Bnei Yisrael were redeemed in the merit of the righteous women [2] Yet, while Hashem says these mirrors are most dear to Him, Moshe was initially repulsed by them. What is the machlokes (dispute) between God and Moshe? Certainly, Moshe is articulating a reality. A British paper[3] reports in certain parts of the country, that women admit to looking in the mirror 71 times a day – the national average hovering at about 34 peeks. For men, the number is about 27. Another article reports that  while a, dog, cat  or a horse wouldn’t realize that the image was a reflection of itself, great apes – chimps, gorillas and orangutans are capable of recognizing themselves in the mirror and when presented with the opportunity, they use mirrors to groom themselves, pick food out of their teeth and make faces at themselves for entertainment. [more or less the same reactions as humans] Mirrors, as vehicles of unadulterated vanity, as reflecting a body divorced from its soul, don’t belong in the sanctuary. In that sense, Moshe is correct; [bringing to mind how a colleague would often silence his boastful students’ bench-pressing exploits, by reminding them that “anything that a horse can do better than you is probably not worthy of human adulation”[4]] Yet Hashem considers the mirrors dearer than all. In this notion we may find a blueprint for our engagement with the material world, together with our classic Jewish understanding of yetzer hara (poorly translated as evil inclination)! Consider that in our twice daily recitation of Shema, we say: “And you shall love God bechol levavcha, with “all your hearts” which, since we only have one heart, Chazal understand to refer to our inclinations. God implores us to love Him with both our good (yetzer tov) and evil (yetzer hara) inclinations. How can we serve God with our Yetzer Hara? A famous Talmudic story is critical for our understanding: The scene: After the Temple’s destruction, Chazal pray to God to capture the Yetzer Hara:  They prayed for mercy, and he, (the Yetzer Hara,) was handed over to them. God said to them: “Realize that if you kill him, the world will go down”. They imprisoned him for three days, then searched the entire land of Israel for a fresh egg, but could not

find any, (for all of procreation had ceased -- even among the animals). Thereupon, the Rabbis said: “What shall we do now? Shall we kill him? - The world would go down.” [Yoma 69b] In other words, we do not serve God with our spiritual nature while squelching our physical desires. While that might be easier, more convenient, and at times necessary for one’s spiritual development; the ultimate goal is to consecrate every aspect of our existence to the service of God. To paraphrase the Kotzker Rebbe, we must let God in everywhere; we must strive “To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower”. In short, we must create holy harmony in all of our worlds. Is it not remarkable that the Hebrew word for sin, cheit, can also refer to spiritual immersion – as in the mei chatas waters of the parah adumah? Is it happenstance that the verb form of cheit often refers to an off target arrow? Hardly, for sin is the misuse of one’s innate Godly passion, an arrow that has missed its mark! Moshe, Hashem says, these mirrors were reflective of a great inner spirituality. Over the kiyor, they serve as preparation, and a reminder to the Kohen as he is about to engage in the Temple service, that everything can and must be used in service of Hashem. A final classic Talmudic story: [Menachos 44a] R. Nathan said, Go and learn from the precept of tzitzis. Once a man, who was very scrupulous about the precept of tzitzis, heard of a certain harlot in one of the towns by the sea who accepted four hundred gold [denars] for her hire. He sent,... and appointed a day with her. When the day arrived... her maid came and told her, ‘That man who sent you four hundred gold [denars] is here waiting at the door’; to which she replied ‘Let him come in’.. she prepared for him seven beds, six of silver and one of gold; and between one bed and the other there were steps of silver, but the last were of gold. She then went up to the top bed … He too went up after her...  when all of a sudden the four fringes [of his garment] struck him across the face; … he sat upon the ground and she also sat upon the ground.. “By the Roman Capitol, I will not leave you alone until you tell me what blemish you saw in me”. ‘By the Temple’, he replied, ‘never have I seen a woman as beautiful as you are; but there is one precept... that God has commanded us,... tzitzis, twice it is written ‘I am the Lord your God’ .. I am He who will exact punishment…  I am He who will give reward. Now [the tzitzis] appeared to me as four witnesses [testifying against me]’. She said, ‘I will not leave you until you tell me your name, the name of your town,

the name of your teacher, the name of your school in which you study the Torah’. He wrote all this down and handed it to her. The man summoned incredible power to resist temptation. He overcame his yetzer hara. That yetzer hara propelled him to the Beis Medrash where he learned with unbelievable passion. He channeled his yetzer hara. The woman was deeply moved by this: [5]

Thereupon she arose and divided her estate into three parts; one third for the government, one third to be distributed among the poor, and one third she took with her in her hand; the bed clothes, however, she retained. She then came to the Beth Hamidrash of R. Meir and said to him, ‘Master, give instructions about me that they make me a proselyte’. ‘My daughter’, he replied; ‘perhaps you have set your eyes on one of the disciples?’ She thereupon took out the script and handed it to him. The Talmudic conclusion? Rabbi Meir, deeply moved by the woman’s sincerity: Go’, said he ‘and enjoy your acquisition’. Those very bed-clothes which she had spread for him for an illicit purpose she now spread out for him lawfully. Yetzer Hara, conquered, channeled and sublimated, to Hashem - there is nothing more dear in the world. [1]Rashi concludes with a proof: You can know yourself that these were actual mirrors, for it is stated: “The total copper donation was seventy kikar, etc. and he made from it, the sockets, the copper altar, all the vessels of the altar, etc” and the wash-basin and its base are not mentioned there. Hence you have learned that the copper of the wash-basin was not from the donated copper. [2] Cf. Sotah 11b. And it is this role that ultimately makes them equally obligated in the positive mitzvos of Pesach – although this is a matter of dispute beyond matzah and the four cups [3] Daily Mail, Nov. 5, 2007 [4] Indeed the gemara calls a mirror a women’s garment – thus prohibiting men from adorning in front of it – even as the poskim say that this does not apply today,  it is quite revealing [5] Cf. Rashi Sanhedrin 31b for an amazing story of Nosson d’tzuzita

________________________ Rabbi Asher Brander is the Founder of the LINK Kollel and Shul, located on 1453 S. Robertson Blvd and is a Rebbe at the wonderful Bnos Devorah Girls High School.


Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Farther Than They Are

Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn

not in the Torah, they were able to display their newfound commitment to the Oral Law. Alternatively, based upon our thesis, we can say that the reaffirmation was an expression that the day of Purim is a time when we have to bring G-d out from the Hester, the hidden. It is a day that focuses on seeing the entire picture. This is why they accepted fully the Oral Law on this day, for that is the nature of the Oral Law, taking the commandments in the Torah and revealing their true detailed makeup. It is so critical to begin to see the full picture, for without it everything in life seems so disjointed, far and distant. This is precisely our relationship with G-d. It seems to be hidden. We at times feel like we are so far from G-d. But were we to understand the greater scheme, we would see how close, in fact, we are to G-d. This idea we have been tracing is used by R. Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin (Resi-

Make someone

sei Layla, p.147) to explain the practice on Purim to become inebriated – ‫עד דלא ידע‬ – until the point where we no longer have clarity. For up until now we had thought that we are so far from G-d but when our minds are in this drunk state we begin to realize that it is through this distance we can come close. The perspective of near and far becomes blurred. When we lose our inhibitions we no longer fear the distance. This is the reason for the extreme level of jubilation on Purim, for it is the celebration of a child who was once so distant and now comes close. This generates the most intense joy. Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn is the Rav & Dean of Yeshivat Yavneh in Los Angeles. He is the creator of WINGS; a synagogue consulting group for the Orhodox Union. He is also the author of 3 sefarim. For any comments, thoughts, or observations email the Rabbi at rabbieinhorn@gmail.com

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FEBRUARY 20, 2014

The Purim story is a tale that without being studied with the proper perception one can easily miss the grand profundity buried within. There are stories which we grew up with that on the surface are alive and dynamic but at its core bear neither soul nor depth. There are also stories which we have cast aside due to their dry nature but when looking at them with mature eyes we begin to see a higher lesson. The Megilah is a story that we grew up loving but never truly plumbed its nuance. Together, let us take a step back and thereby take a step closer in. The Torah in Ki Tisa (33:23) records "‫"והסרתי את כפי וראית את אחרי ופני לא יראו‬ – “Then I shall remove My hand and you will see My back, but My face may not be seen.” This is how G-d makes known to Moshe the limit of Moshe’s vision. What exactly is the meaning of this verse? The Talmud (Sanhedrin) compares this world to night. Imagine that you are driving a car at night on the highway in the middle of nowhere. There are no lights on the road and you are wondering why the road curves so much and in such odd ways. You assume that the individual who built this road was utterly incapable. Little do you know, that were it to be day, you would notice the area around the highway is filled with mountains, rivers, and numerous other natural obstacles. Therefore, the architect of this highway was actually quite ingenious. There is good reason for the road to constantly curve. Sometimes in order to understand we must see the entire picture. There is another analogy which gets the same point across but in a subtly different way. Imagine peering into a doorway and noticing two people engaged in an aggressive struggle with knives. On impulse you run into the room and tackle the two individuals to the ground. Suddenly you hear in the near distance “cut, cut.” As it turns out, you just jumped onto a movie set. Many times we are missing an important piece of information when we don’t see the whole picture. The Talmud (Sukkah 5b) indirectly stresses this point. The Talmud speaks of a Bar Yochni a gigantic bird that with one drop of its egg, can wipe out an entire city. What in the world does that mean? What

kind of bird can do such a thing? R. Yisroel Salanter explains that imagine if we had found a newspaper clipping many years after its initial printing and the header on the article reads “drop of ink kills thousands.” We would presume to be reading about some preposterously lethal pen. But the truth is that in context the headline is referring to a treaty that was signed which led to the suffering of a group of people. Sometimes you need to see the greater context in order to understand. R. Salanter says that the same is true of the Bar Yochni. This is also essentially what Purim and Megilas Esther are all about. The miracle is hidden within the text and we are challenged to see the entire picture; to stand from afar and reveal the magnificent tapestry. The Talmud (Chulin 139b) wonders where Esther is alluded to in the Torah? The Talmud turns to Vayelech 31:18  ‫"ואנ־‬ "‫“ – כי הסתר אסתיר פני ביום ההוא‬But I will surely have concealed My face on that day.” Esther’s name is the name that connoted hiddenness. According to Jewish Law there is a specific way in which we read the Megilah scroll. The reader unwraps the entire scroll before beginning because it is essential that we see the whole picture. Likewise, G-d’s name seems to be totally absent from the Megilah because it is our job to lift up the curtain masking the real story. The entire Oral Law (as is contained primarily in our Talmud) is also about revelation. It is there to reveal the message hidden within our Written Law. The Talmud (Shabbos 88a) presents the opinion of Rav Dimi Bar Chama who says that ‫"כפה‬ "‫ – עליהם הר כגגית‬G-d held Mount Sinai over the Jews forcing them to accept the Torah. The Talmud then questions this acceptance as it was against their will. The answer is based upon a verse in our Megilah "‫“ "קימו וקבלו היהודים‬the Jews kept and received” (9:27). Rava comments that this teaches us that the Jews reaffirmed their commitment to the Torah, thereby asserting their voluntary acceptance in the days of Achashveirosh. The Midrash (Tanchuma, Noach) wonders why they needed a reaffirmation if they already declared at Sinai – ‫"נעשה ונ־‬ "‫“ שמע‬we will do and we will hear” – isn’t this the great statement indicating voluntary acceptance? The Midrash posits that they voluntary accepted the Written Law but not the Oral Law. The acceptance of the Oral Law is what was affirmed in the days of Achashveirosh. The Maharal (Ohr Chadash) explains the Midrash by noting that through the new special mitzvos relating to Purim, which are classified as Oral Law, being that they are


FEBRUARY 20, 2014


7 Questions with Rabbi Yossi


By Alisa Roberts 1. You recently won your first Mixed Martial Arts fight. What sparked your initial interest in martial arts and self- defense? It started when I was a kid. I was always very active, but because I grew up on shlichus I was never sent to martial arts or gymnastics classes. So I began to pick up some martial arts and gymnastics on my own. I actually picked up so much that later I was teaching gymnastics to children at a gym in Crown Heights. I really pushed myself to learn different things; I always had that attitude. Then when I was 12, my parents brought in an assistant rabbi, Rabbi Machon Shapiro, who ended up staying with us for the better part of 11 years. He happened to be a Krav Maga instructor. I never had formal lessons in Krav Maga, because for most of that time I was living in yeshiva. But whenever I was home I had access to an instructor. And because he was always working on his technique, he always needed a training partner. So from when I was 13 or 14 years old, I had that very close relationship – he was almost like an older brother to me – with an instructor. And while the lessons weren’t formal, I feel they were better. Since he was working on how to teach his classes, I not only got to learn the techniques, but also how to teach them. That stuck with me. So he was an important influence. I’m also the second-oldest in my family, so I’ve always looked out for my younger siblings. And it’s just my personality. I was the first-aid guy at camp because they knew that if something went wrong I was going to be there, ready and willing to help. I grew into a self-defense and security mindset. Through a friend who was a lifeguard instructor, I became a certified Red Cross Lifeguard, Swimming, First-Aid and CPR instructor. That was also very much connected to these self-defense and security aspects of my life. I was always trying to get new certifications, to grow in new areas, and to challenge myself in new ways, and throughout that time I also had

an interest in self-defense and martial arts. So I would teach other students, or I would review techniques with other students and in the process help teach other people. 2. What led up to the fight? Can you tell us about the training and the fight itself? In January of last year, when I was in Los Angeles in my final year of studying to become a rabbi, I had a high school friend who mentioned that he went to a Mixed Martial Arts gym where the trainer does all forms of martial arts and self-defense. That sounded great to me. I hadn’t been training, and I had been looking for an outlet. I had a very busy schedule but there was a class that fit into my evening breaks, so I was able to attend that class two to four times a week. That was my first introduction to MMA, as opposed to strictly self-defense training. But in my mind the two complemented each other, because you learn new techniques that you can figure out how to apply to self-defense. Also, you’re learning that discipline and respect – that mindset – that reaches across the board and helps anywhere in life. So I ended up attending classes there for about four months before I was ordained as a rabbi. Almost the entire class came to my ordination, which was quite a thing. It was an interesting group; a friend of mine had long blue hair, one of the guys was a big bouncer… But they’re all very nice people, so everyone had a blast. My parents really enjoyed speaking to them. And that was my introduction to Mixed Martial Arts. I was back home in San Diego for Tishrei. The community is in the middle of building a new shul. It was taking a long time, and it had been rough on my parents, so they asked me if I could stay home and assist with the community. Of course I agreed to stay home and help them with whatever they needed. For a few months I didn’t really do anything outside of teaching classes and running the Hebrew school. I was keeping in shape – I enjoy living a healthy lifestyle – but I wanted to pick up with my mar-

tial arts and self-defense training. So I found a nearby gym and I walked in. They said, “Oh, a rabbi. Interesting. That’s not exactly what we expected.” I spoke to the owner of the gym. We got along immediately; our personalities clicked. So I ended up joining the gym. This was about five months ago. I went regularly for three weeks. They have all sorts of classes: boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, Jui-jitsu, wrestling… They also have strength and conditioning classes and cardio classes. So after testing out almost all the different classes, the owner – and this is Thierry Sokoudjou, who is a former UFC professional world-class fighter – came over to me and said, “Listen, it looks like you have some former experience.” I explained to him that my interest was self-defense, and he understood that, but he said, “In order to help you with your self-defense goal, why don’t you try testing yourself in an actual combat situation in an octagon? There are referees and there are judges, and they’re watching out for your safety, but you have that pressure of actually having an opponent who is out to get you.” I told him that it was not for me, that I didn’t really feel comfortable with it. I’m not a violent person at all. I’ve never been in a fight in my life. Self-defense is largely about avoiding fights. He said, “OK. But think about it.” For the next month and a half or so, he kept coming over and saying, “I have a fight this Saturday.” I said, “I can’t do Saturdays. It’s my Sabbath.” I told him I don’t drive; he asked if someone could drive me. I told him I couldn’t be driven anywhere either; he asked if they could get me a hotel room. I explained that I couldn’t go to do the weigh-ins; he asked if they could bring the scales to me. I explained that I couldn’t even step on the scale. By now he’s probably an expert in the laws of Shabbos. But he kept trying to find a way. So after I’d been training there about two and a half months, he came over to me and said, “I found a fight on

a Sunday. I want you to do it. They understand you’re a rabbi, we’re going to pair you up with someone who is also not aggressive. At least give yourself that mental challenge.” I’d been thinking about it for a while, and I realized that if I wanted to be teaching self-defense, I might as well test myself and see how my mind reacts in a high-stress situation. So I said, “OK fine, we’ll do one.” And that’s when the training exploded. I had to drop 11 pounds in a month and a half, and I was already in shape. So that meant cutting from about 13% body fat to 9% body fat. That’s leaner than I’ve been since high school. It was a huge challenge for me, both physically and mentally. They told me, “You know, when you get in the ring, we want you to get fierce and aggressive.” I would always tell them, “I need to be extra careful especially when I get in the ring because I don’t want to hurt the other guy. I want to win; I want to show that I can control myself in this situation and that I can defeat an opponent, but that doesn’t mean I want to hurt the guy.” So they were constantly telling me that I needed to get more aggressive. When the event finally arrived, I was waiting for my nerves to kick in the whole time. But I was able to keep calm. The actual fight was relaxed and very controlled. It worked out, baruch Hashem, that neither of us got hurt. They came over to me afterwards and said, “He’s lucky it was you. Because you had a lot more skill than him, but you weren’t trying to hurt him. If the person had been better than you, he wouldn’t have had the same mercy that you had.” I said, “I appreciate that, but again, for me this wasn’t a fight, it was a challenge. It was a test.” That’s how I felt about it. I won by TKO (technical knockout), which means the referee stopped the fight because one person showed dominance and the other showed a lack of ability to defend themselves properly. I was landing enough strikes for the referee to call the fight. 3. How did you feel after the fight? Actually, afterwards I met up with my opponent and we spoke for a few hours. We went to his gym to do some training because he had asked me to go over some technique with him. I made a friend out of it. I can never see myself being a fighter, for two reasons. First, because I don’t feel there is enough purpose in it. You’re fighting for people’s entertainment. Self-defense is a higher purpose. Teaching martial arts, where you’re teaching discipline and self-respect, that has a purpose. But just fighting is something I could never see myself doing. Second, I don’t feel I could be more aggressive, so I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to get in the ring when I know that I’m not willing to really hurt the other person, and they’re really willing to hurt me. I’m definitely happy I had the experience. I learned a lot about myself and the techniques, about the self-defense application of them. So I’m glad that I did it. But again, I could not see myself doing it regularly or professionally. 4. What does your family think about it? What about the community? My family enjoys the self-defense aspect. I take my siblings to the shooting range with me occasionally. My mother goes pretty often; my father doesn’t enjoy the noise, so he is a bit more hesitant. They are both very supportive of the activity and the healthy lifestyle. They were nervous about me getting into an actual fight in an octagon because I could get hurt. But in general, they’re supportive of my plan. It’s so important to have support, especially from people who care about you. Most people in the community, given that they’ve known me for a long time, were very supportive. They understood that I wasn’t doing this because I was looking for a fight. They understood what it meant to me. Some of the people from my community even came to the event. There are one or two people who have

middle path. You can’t be all physical or all spiritual. You are put in a body for a reason, and you need to take care of that body. So I feel that physical health is extremely important. Also, the discipline and respect involved – if you’re doing it with the right mindset and you’re doing it properly – it’s like a laser. You’re so focused on it. You can’t replace that with anything else. Gymnastics, martial arts, swimming – they’re called disciplines for a reason. You really need to focus to reach any goals. I think for kids these days, there is so much available technology that we’re getting to the point where every kid walks around with an iPod. They’re looking at a screen the entire day, and their thumbs are the only part of their bodies that they’re exercising… It’s not healthy. So I feel that the frum community especially needs this sort of outlet. In Crown Heights there’s a place called Jimmy’s, where I was an instructor for a while. It gives frum kids the opportunity to learn gymnastics, dance, and martial arts in a frum atmosphere. You’re in a comfortable place but you’re still getting the discipline. I think that’s brilliant, and I think the west coast is lacking in that. Even though Los Angeles and San Diego are both in the top five healthiest cities in the Unites States, we are still lacking in opportunity. I’m not saying we should only focus on martial arts or gymnastics. It definitely needs to be paired with religious studies. Personally, my goal is to open up a health center that offers these sorts of physical fitness activities, but at the same time offers life-coaching in order to help people live a frum life in a healthy and happy way. People are happier when they’re

active. I love going to the gym. It’s something that calms me down and relaxes me; I have a great time while I’m there. It doesn’t replace my studying. When I was in yeshiva I never let it get in the way of my learning. I would never skip a class in order to go to the gym. And it’s the same now; I would never skirt my other duties in order to go to the gym. But if you have both together working in harmony, both become a lot better. It all becomes stronger. 7. What’s the message you have taken from this experience? A lot of people feel that being a Jew limits your abilities to do what you want to do, to become who you want to be, to test yourself in certain ways. I just want to say: religion isn’t getting in your way. Obviously, you can’t put religion to the side. But you can use what you have learned and apply it to any other part of your life. You’ll become better at what you’re trying to accomplish, and your religion will become stronger too. I think that’s extremely important for people to understand. Yes, I’m involved in martial arts and self-defense, I shoot competitively, and I’m a swimming instructor. But that doesn’t mean that I skipped all my time in yeshiva. I accomplished all of that during my breaks. And I managed that because I had that discipline from my studying. It works both ways. There’s a discipline you learn from martial arts and there’s a discipline you learn from sitting in yeshiva and studying. They complement each other. My message is: don’t use religion as an excuse. Use what you’ve learned to help reach your goals, and your goals will help you learn more about yourself as a Jew.

Question & Answer Education is at the fore of every parent’s mind. Parents and Educators have many questions, concerns and worries.   If you wish to have your question or issue considered by a team of Educators feel free to email educationqanda@hillelhebrew.org and your topic may be discussed in this column in future weeks.  All names will be held confidential. We are blessed with a large family and beautiful children. However, it is a constant challenge as we address sibling interactions. How do I bring harmony to my family and harness the various creative qualities of my children? What can I tell them? I wish we functioned as a team. Loving Mother seeking harmonious existence Dear Harmonious, The good news is that you have already begun to identify a key quality to turn things around. You understand that to create a harmonious existence among siblings it includes teaching and discussing the beauty of integrating different personalities to create a beautiful family group. You are correct, your family is a team where each sibling plays a unique role to help create a harmonious group. If you take it a step further, each family then becomes a unique member of a larger team called kehilla and community. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, who is visiting our community this week, frames this idea

of unity best when discussing Parashat Vayakhel. Rabbi Lord Sacks asks the following question on this week’s Torah portion: “How do you re-motivate a demoralized people? How do you put the pieces of a broken nation back together again? That was the challenge faced by Moses in this week’s Parasha”. The Jewish nation had just worshipped the Golden Calf and strife with rebellion had just been averted. The nation was demoralized. Rabbi Lord Sacks begins his answer with the following statement “The key word here is vayakhel, “[Moses] gathered.” Kehilla means community. A kehilla or kahal is a group of people assembled for a given purpose. That purpose can be positive or negative, constructive or destructive”. Moshe’s response to this “team” that has gone awry is not to shut them down but rather to channel their energies and desires for the positive. Moshe gives them an opportunity to be part of building something that they can truly be proud of, a home for Hashem the Mishkan. When given this opportunity they rise to the occasion and go above and beyond what was asked of them to the point that Moshe had to ask them to stop donating toward this project.

If we apply this message to our own mini family community we can utilize the same strategy. Find a common goal for the family to accomplish together, something that you will all be passionate about and that cannot be accomplished by any one sibling. It should be a joint venture, pooling the unique talents of each sibling. Examples can include making a unique Shabbat experience or performing a family chesed project, allowing each member of the family a distinct role to play. When the project is completed be sure to celebrate the accomplishments of the family and highlight the role each sibling played. You do not always have to do something as a family. Sometimes encouraging your children to get involved in a community project can have the same effect. Through this you can show another example to your children what it means to use individual talents as part of a larger community and how everyone has something to add despite being different. As Rabbi Lord Sacks articulates: “Team building, even after a disaster like the golden calf, is neither a mystery nor a miracle. It is done by setting the group a task, one that speaks to their

passions and one that no subsection of the group can achieve alone. It must be constructive. Every member of the group must be able to make a unique contribution, and then feel that it has been valued. Each must be able to say, with pride: I helped make this. That is what Moses understood and did. He knew that if you want to build a team, create a team that builds”. This weekend Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy is privileged to Host Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks for a weekend of unity shabbat achdut “empowering children to innovate and build”. We invite you to take part of this weekend at any of the many Shuls participating as one Kehilla as a way of putting this lesson into practice. To continue the dialogue and share other ideas on this topic, email educationqanda@hillelhebrew.org. We want to hear your thoughts. This article was compiled by Rabbi Y. Boruch Sufrin and Rabbi Eli Broner Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy Administration


FEBRUARY 20, 2014

way. I was riding with some friends and someone tried to start a fight and he hit me. Because of my training, I was able to remain calm and the guy walked away. When you’re learning self-defense, they teach you the laws and liability of fighting. If you get in a fight with someone it’s going to be a bigger problem than if you can avoid it, so obviously you avoid the fight at all costs. But you never know what can happen. The Jewish community needs to be a lot more aware, and people should be prepared. Even if I offer a seminar, there’s only so much you can do in a couple of hours. People should read up about it, develop the mindset, be aware of the space around them. These things are extremely important but often overlooked. Especially since the Jewish community is almost always the target. I know recently there was a heightened alert for Jewish communities. There was a government warning saying that that there was a credible threat against Jewish communities and to be aware. And I doubt most people heard about it. For me, that means something. I’d say that 90-95% of Jews living in Jewish communities probably didn’t know about it. And if they did, what are they going to do about it? Lock their doors? There has to be awareness and preparation. I want to be able to offer that to the Jewish community. 6. Have you taken anything from your training, or even your fight, that benefits you in your life as a rabbi and as a Jew? Definitely. Number one, I feel that a lot of people, especially in Jewish communities, tend to neglect their physical health and focus on the spiritual. The spiritual is extremely important, but as the Rambam says, we need to take the


told me, “I understand why you are doing it, but I still don’t think it’s a good thing.” And I understand where they’re coming from, because I hate watching MMA events. They are very brutal. But again, for me that wasn’t the mindset. So while I understand that it doesn’t look nice, it was a valuable experience for someone who plans on teaching self-defense. 5. Can you tell us more about your plans to teach self-defense? Do you have other ideas for how to bring more of this kind of activity to the Jewish community? I think Jewish schools could focus more on physical activities. It’s tough ground, because the schools are already giving the kids so much. They have to do secular studies and religious studies, so it’s difficult to ask them to add more physical activity to an already packed day. That’s why I was thinking an after-school program would be better. I personally I hope to be able to open up a center that offers these things within the next year or so. And not just for kids, but for adults as well. I think we need a frum gym, where there are separate men’s’ and women’s’ classes. I think communities on their own should be working towards getting things like this set up. Many have. I hope to be able to offer one more. As far as security and self-defense goes, I hope to eventually give seminars. I’m doing a lot of training now in order to build the knowledge to give these seminars. Everyone should have some knowledge of self-defense, should know something about security. People don’t realize. We live in a nicer area, but so many things can happen if you don’t have the right mindset. I personally was once hit on the sub-



FEBRUARY 20, 2014

The Secret of Simcha

What did Chazal have in mind when they said, “Mishenichnas Adar marbin besimcha”? Is it simply a piece of good advice? If so, why is the statement recorded in sifrei halacha? It seems to be more than mere advice. It appears to be an obligation to increase our simcha in the current month. What does that entail? Does it mean listening to more music or playing it louder? Does simcha mean joy? Does it translate into happiness? How are we to arrive at it? Can someone command us to be happy and expect us to be able to change our disposition as a rule of law? I had the zechus to spend the past Shabbos in Yerushalayim. The trip was bittersweet, but a visit to Eretz Yisroel is cathartic under any circumstances. Though there are many problems in that land, it remains ours. Every neshomah has a connection to the city where the remnant of the Bais Hamikdosh stands, towards which we daven three times daily. Being able to walk in the land we were driven out of centuries ago is not something to be taken for granted. My wife’s grandmother, Mrs. Miriam Mendlowitz a”h, who lived in Yerushalay-

im for the past fifty years, passed away last Wednesday morning at the age of 104. As a frame of reference of how long she lived, she still remembered what it was like returning home to a desolate shtetel after the First World War. She was a sister-in-law of Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, the man who revolutionized Yiddishkeit in America and whose efforts led to the growth of Torah on these shores. He passed away in 1948, shortly after founding Torah Umesorah. Mrs. Mendlowitz was blessed with arichus yomim, no doubt in the merit of her kibud av v’eim, dikduk bemitzvos and maasim tovim, but her calm, pleasant demeanor certainly added to her longevity. She accepted everyone and everything that came her way with grace and dignity and appreciated the many blessings Hashem granted her. She had simchas hachaim that emanated from her deep emunah and bitachon, and thus merited the blessings reserved for those who are besimcha tomid. It may sound fanciful, but the last thing she did upon this earth was move from her bed into a chair, where she began to sing with a grandchild the popular tune of “Mishenichnas Adar marbin besimcha.” When she was done, she closed her eyes and passed away. A 104-year-old person, feeling their strength ebbing and knowing that they are breathing their final breaths in this world, can celebrate the simcha of Adar if they appreciate the fulfillment granted to those who master the secret of true happiness. Simcha, joy, is achieved by being content and satisfied with what Hashem has granted us. A person who grasps that every day, every breath, every child, and every dollar is a Divine gift, can be perpetually content and positive. A person who lives the life Hashem intended for them can sing “Mishenichnas Adar marbin besimcha” not only at festive occasions, but also while lying on a deathbed.

One time, when Rav Chaim Volozhiner was parting from his great rebbi, the Vilna Gaon, he requested a brochah. The Gaon responded cryptically, blessing him that his life should consist of “temidim kesidrom.” Knowing that his rebbi chose each syllable carefully and that each word he uttered was laden with significance, Rav Chaim understood that there was a hidden message in the two-word blessing he merited receiving. After much contemplation, he realized the meaning of his rebbi’s brochah. The words with which the Rama begins his monumental glosses on the Shulchan Aruch are in the halachos of how a Jew conducts himself upon waking up in the morning. The Rama quotes the posuk in Tehillim (16:8) in which Dovid Hamelech states how the Presence of Hashem was always before him: “Shivisi Hashem lenegdi somid, hu klal gadol baTorah uvemaalos hatzaddikim.” The Rama writes that these words are the mantra by which a Jew should live every day of his life, from when he arises in the morning until he reclines in the evening. The Rama concludes his incisive, enlightening commentary of Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, each line illuminating like a torch of fire, with the halachos of Megillah. The Shulchan Aruch discusses the halachos of the 14th day of Adar Rishon, referred to as Purim Kotton. The Rama closes the discussion of whether there is an obligation of eating a festive meal on that day by quoting the posuk in Mishlei (15:15) which states, “Vetov lev mishteh somid.” The complete posuk reads, “Kol yemei oni ro’im, vetov lev mishteh somid - All the days of a poor man are bad, but he of a cheerful heart will always have a feast.” The first and final comments of the Rama in Orach Chaim both quote pesukim

with the word somid: “Shivisi Hashem lenegdi somid” and “Vetov lev mishteh somid.” Rav Chaim Volozhiner understood that the Gaon’s intention with his two-word message was that he should live a life guided by these two “temidim,” the constant awareness of Hashem’s Presence and the mandate to be besimcha. Joy allows a person to lead a productive life. In fact, simcha is the fuel that allows a person to maximize his potential and to take advantage of opportunities that come his way and build upon them. A happy person is dynamic. The meforshim explain the previously-mentioned posuk of “Vetov lev mishteh somid.” The posuk states that the days of a poor man are bad, but the bearer of a cheerful heart always feasts. Shouldn’t the contrast be between the poor and the rich? The poor person is hungry and sad, while the rich man can always feast; that would appear to be a perfect contradiction. The opposite of a sad and poor man is a satiated rich man. The posuk is teaching us that wealth is not what brings happiness and poverty doesn’t necessarily cause depression. There are plenty of rich, famous, people who have done everything they ever dreamed of doing, yet they are depressed. And there are poor people who are happy. A person’s joy is dependent upon his attitude. A poor person has a rough life, to be sure, but if he is of cheerful disposition, he is able to seize the good moments and bright spots and use them to define his situation. He is able to appreciate the good that he has and look at the bright side of every situation. A person who lives with emunah and bitachon, and practices “Shivisi Hashem lenegdi somid,” knowing that nothing happens by chance and happenstance, can smile in the most trying of circumstances. Rav Shaul Yedidya Elozor Taub of Modzitz lost everything in the Holocaust, arriving in New York mourning his family and chassidus. He settled in Williamsburg and, in short order, had a crowd that


years old and is married with three children. But he put on tefillin today and I am grateful that he does. It’s a zechus to have raised an ehrliche son and I appreciate it.” Rav Avidgor Miller once passed his daughter while walking on Ocean Parkway and exclaimed, “Boruch Hashem that you are married!” “But I’ve been married for over twenty years,” she wondered. “Yes,” replied the mussar master, “and I thank Hashem for each day anew. I never take it for granted.” That attitude typifies the expression of joy that suffused the countenance of the great mashpia, Rabbi Miller. The Gemara in Maseches Sukkah as well as in Eiruvin, when reckoning the proper dimensions of a sukkah, terms an expanded handbreadth a “tefach sochek.” Meforshim explain that this term, meaning “a smiling tefach,” denotes expansion. Just as a joyous person can accomplish on a large scale, so too, when discussing the concept of an expanded tefach, we refer to it as smiling. As we approach Purim, now is a most appropriate time to focus on our brachos. Adar is the time to develop the middah of tov lev, seeing the bright spots and making them last. We are to seize the happy moments and stretch them out, thus fulfilling

the mandate of Chazal. Everyone has sources of anguish and distress. In every life, there is some darkness. But it should be kept in a valise. The joyous moments, occasions and tidings should be spread out in front of us, allowing us to be mishteh somid, constantly joyous. In Yerushalayim, you encounter people who are poorer than poor. They are encumbered by debt and don’t know where their next shekel will come from. The government is determined to increase their pain, as if they aren’t already suffering enough. They live in small apartments, getting by with the bare minimum, yet they are happier than the wealthiest people you know. You see them and they smile, exposing their missing teeth, lost to decay brought on by their inability to afford dental care, yet their faces beam with other-worldly joy. They don’t have many physical possessions, but they know the secret that Shivisi Hashem lenegdi somid leads to mishteh somid. Although their cupboard is bare and a typical daily meal consists of bread, leben, cucumbers and tomatoes, they possess an inner joy that increases during the month of Adar. May we merit attaining that simcha and long, productive lives.

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

to Rav Elozor Menachem Man Shach about the need for a yeshiva in their part of the country. They wanted to open an institution but found the challenges daunting. They encountered hostile bureaucracy, lack of funding, and other problems. Upon hearing their presentation, Rav Shach stood up and exclaimed with great enthusiasm, “We are living in extraordinary times. Even though there is opposition to Torah study, there is incredible siyata diShmaya rolling around in the streets for those willing to go out and do… I advise you to grab some of it and build Torah.” Seeing and seizing opportunities, rather than the impediments, is what enables people to accomplish and live long and happy lives. By focusing on the simple blessings and appreciating what we have, we can be like the poor man the posuk in Mishlei describes and can live in perpetual joy. What we need more than anything is to appreciate and count our blessings. A badchan entered shul one day and announced, “I get a mazel tov. My son put on tefillin today.” People turned to the gray-bearded jester. “You still have such a young son? Mazel tov.” “No,” replied the badchan. “My son isn’t thirteen. In fact, he’s twenty-seven


looked to him for encouragement, chizuk and, of course, beautiful niggunim. Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz would send many of his talmidim from Torah Vodaas to the rebbe’s tishen, which were known to be particularly joyous and rousing. Someone asked the rebbe how he was able to maintain his attitude of simcha after sustaining devastating losses in the war. “I have a valise in my room,” he responded, “and in it I keep all the sad thoughts and memories. Every day, I open it for half an hour and look inside, remembering and mourning. And then? Then I close it tight and go live my life for the rest of the day.” Great people know that an optimistic, upbeat attitude is necessary to build and accomplish and live a full life. Those charged with rebuilding in the face of churban were especially aware that a “tov lev” can achieve extraordinary things. All of us in our lives experience ups and downs, good days and days that don’t go as we would like. To the degree that we maintain the midah of “tov lev,” we rise above it and are able to triumph and succeed. If we permit the situation to overtake us, we are doomed to being sad, cynical and unproductive. A group of talmidei chachomim from an Israeli development town went to speak


FEBRUARY 20, 2014


USING AN EIRUV By Rabbi Aryeh Citron

Carrying on Shabbat is one of the 39 forbidden types of labors. The prohibition against carrying is mentioned in the Torah when it says “‫ּשׁבִיעִי‬ ְ ‫ַאל יֵצֵא אִיׁש ִמּמְק ֹמֹו ּבַּיֹום ַה‬,” which according to the Talmud means, “A man shall not carry from his place on the Seventh day.” This was the reason that the Manna did not fall on Shabbat. In addition, Yirmiyahu, the prophet, said, “So said the L-rd: Beware for your souls, and carry no burden on the Shabbat day, nor bring into the gates of Jerusalem. Neither shall you take a burden out of your houses on the Shabbat day, nor shall you perform any labor, and you shall hallow the Shabbat day as I commanded your forefathers.” When the Jews were in the desert, the Levites would carry the holy artifacts of the Mishkan (tabernacle) from place to place. Since all the labors involved in the Mishkan are forbidden on Shabbat, this is another basis for the prohibition. To transgress the prohibition against carrying on a Biblical level, one would need to (G-d forbid) carry from a Reshut HaRabim (public domain) to a Reshut HaYachid (private domain) or vice versa or to carry four amot (approximately six feet) in the public domain. In order to permit carrying in areas that are normally forbidden, one may construct an eiruv. If built properly, this can transform a public area (reshut harabim) or semi-public area (karmelit) into a private area, rendering it permissible to carry in that area on Shabbat. This article will discuss several of the halachic issues one should know about when deciding whether or not to make use of an eiruv.

borrowed and refers to the construction of the “walls” around an area rendering it a reshut hayachid (private area). After such “walls” are constructed, it is still necessary to make an eiruv chatzeirot in order for carrying to be permitted.

What’s in the Name? The word eiruv means a mixture. Originally, the word eiruv, when used in the context of carrying on Shabbat, referred to an eiruv chatzeirot. This is a legal mechanism by which all the residents of a common area join to become part owners of one meal. The eiruv then allows them to carry from their private areas to the semi-public areas. The members of the area are considered to be “mixed” into one family. Nowadays, the term eiruv has been

The Issues • Defining a Public Domain (Reshut HaRabim) According to the Talmud, the only way to make an eiruv on a Torah-level public domain (reshut harabim) is to surround it with actual walls and install doors on the entrances. These doors must physically be closed at night or at least be able to close. Obviously, it is not practical to build walls and doors around cities or entire neighborhoods. The eiruvin that we make today, which (mostly) consist of posts and wire, only permit carrying in a karmelit (Rab-

binic-level public domain). This means that a modern eiruv can only be considered valid if our streets do not meet the criteria of being a Torah level public domain. We must therefore understand what these criteria are. The definition of a public domain is a subject of dispute. Some define a Torah-level public domain simply as any area used by the public that is at least 16 amot (approximately 24 feet) wide. According to this opinion, one may not make an eiruv in a city unless one builds actual walls. Others say that, in addition to the above, a Torah-level public domain must have 600,000 people who traverse it every day. This domain would be similar to the Jewish camp in the desert where the Levites transported the Mishkan. This, as explained above, is the source for the laws of Shabbat. Based on this opinion, one may make eiruvin in cities. Although the custom is to rely on the second opinion and allow for eiruvin to be constructed in big cities, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav writes that a G-d fearing person will not rely on this opinion. Similarly, the Mishnah Berurah says that a Ba’al Nefesh (master of his soul) will be strict in this regard. • The Sefardic Angle The Mechaber, Rav Yosef Karro, quotes the strict opinion that considers almost every street to be a reshut harabim, as the main opinion (stam) and the lenient opinion (that a reshut harabim must include 600,000 people) as a minority opinion (yesh omrim). Thus, he seems to rule in accordance with the strict opinion. For this reason, Sefardim, who generally follow the Mechaber’s rulings, take a strict approach to the issue of Eiruvin. • Rav Moshe’s Opinion Rav Moshe Feinstein rules that if a particular city has a population of 600,000, the streets in that city are considered to be Torah-level public domains even if this number of people do not enter into any one street on any particular day. According to this opinion, it is impossible to make an eiruv (without actual walls) in any big city with that size of a population or larger. • The Rambam’s Eiruv The Rambam holds that any eiruv

1 Exodus, 16, 29 2 Rav Yonatan in Eiruvin 17b and several versions of the Talmud in Horayot 4a. The Rambam (Hilchot Shgagot, 14, 2) cites this interpretation. See also Targum Yonatan ben Uziel on the verse. 3 17, 21 and 22 4 See Mishnah, Shabbat 96a 5 To transgress on the biblical prohibition against carrying in the public domain one would have to actually carry 5 3/5 of an amah (the diagonal line across a four by four amah square). But by Rabbinic law, it is forbidden to carry more than four amot even it is less than 5 and 3/5ths of an amah (Rambam, Laws of Shabbat 12, 18). 6 In this article, I have converted amot (cubits) to feet based on the ruling of Rav Avraham Chaim Na’eh that one amah is approximately 18 inches. According to the opinion of the Chazon Ish, one amah is

approximately 22 inches. 7 See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 366 8 See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 362, 19 9 Some of the specifications are • The wire must be attached the top of the pole. Wires that are on the side of the poles (like most phone wires) are not considered a tzurat hapetach (Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 362, 20). Some say that if the wires are wrapped around the poles it is also sufficient (Taz, 362, 4). It is best not to rely on this opinion (Shulchan Aruch HaRav , ibid). • The wire must be taut and not sag between the poles (Mishnah Berurah 362, Sha’ar HaTziyun, 56). 10 See Eiruvin 26a regarding the city of Mechuzah and many other places in that tractate. Although the Talmud (ibid 21b) states that King Solomon established eiruvin, this is referring to eiru-

vei chatzerot (see Rashi there), not to the building of a legal partition which is what the term eiruv has now come to mean. Certainly an eiruvei chatzerot cannot be made unless there is a legal partition, but it is possible that in Solomon’s times these partitions were not built for the purpose of carrying on Shabbat but were rather walls built to protect the city. 11 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 364, 4 based on Eiruvin 6a and b 12 See Rambam, Shabbat, 14, 1, Ramban, Shabbat 59a D.H Matnitin and many others cited in note 86 on (the new print of the) Shulchan Aruch HaRav 345. 13 Rashi, Eiruvin 6a D.H. Reshut HaRabim, Tosfot, ibid, D.H, Keitzad and many others cited in ibid. 14 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid, 11 15 ibid, 23

How an Eiruv Is Built Most eiruvin are formed by putting up (wooden) posts at regular intervals around an area and drawing a string from the top of one post to the other until the entire area is “encircled.” Each set of two posts and the string stretching from one to the other is called a tzurat hapetach (doorway) because it has two “doorposts” and a “lintel” (the string). The principle behind this is that since a doorway is considered to be part of a wall, an entire wall may be made of doorways. Existing poles and wires may be used if they meet certain specifications (see footnote). This sort of legal mechanism has been utilized by Jewish communities at least since Talmudic times to permit carrying in certain neighborhoods or even in entire cities. The eiruvin (plural for eiruv) constructed for large cities or neighborhoods involve difficult and complex halachic issues. It is therefore imperative to use only an eiruv that was constructed and is under the supervision of an expert Halachic authority. Due to the various opinions regarding such eiruvin, some communities do not construct (or make use of) city-wide eiruvin.

which is more than fifty percent open (i.e., not actual walls) must be constructed in such a way that there is no more than ten amot (approximately 15 feet) between one lechi (pole) and the next. According to this opinion, if there is a space of more than 15 feet between any two of the poles in the entire eiruv, the eiruv is invalid (if most of the eiruv is constructed of poles and strings). The Alter Rebbe and Mishnah Berurah rule that it is good to be strict and follow this ruling. In most big cities, it is impractical to build an eiruv according to these specifications, i.e., with a pole every fifteen feet. • The Lubavitcher Rebbe When asked about the construction of an eiruv in Melbourne, Australia, the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote that his opinion is well known: That the construction of eiruvin in big cities is a takalah ayumah – a major stumbling-block. It is impossible that there not eventually be a Shabbat when the eiruv will be inval id. Since people will have become accustomed to carrying on Shabbat, all of the announcements that the eiruv is “down” will not help and people will carry on Shabbat, transgressing a Torah prohibition. The Rebbe wrote that an eiruv (in a big city) should only be made without it becoming public knowledge. This would save those that are carrying anyways - from sinning. In practice, one should consult with one’s Rav and follow his guidance. While this article focused on the reasons to permit or forbid the use of eiruvin, in the future, G-d willing, we will address other issues one should know when using an eiruv.

In the Biur Halacha (D.H. Shekol Shishim Ribo), the Chafetz Chaim writes in a stronger tone “yesh lehachmir” – “one should be strict, unless there is an additional reason to be lenient, although one should not protest against those that are lenient.” 16 Mishnah Berurah, ibid 17 See sources quoted in Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat, vol. 5 page 163. 18 Igrot Moshe, O.C. vol. 1 page 238 19 Not all eiruvin are disqualified according to this opinion. The cities included in the Miami Beach Eiruv, for example, have a total population of approximately 106,000. 20 Hilchot Shabbat, 16, 16, based on Rav Yochanan in Eiruvin 11a 21 362, 19 22 Ibid, 59

Copyright by Rabbi Aryeh Citron. To subscribe to his weekly email, contact rabbicitron@yeshivahcollege.org or visit www.yeshivahcollege.org Rabbi Aryeh Citron grew up in Los Angeles and studied in Yeshivos both in L.A. and around the world. He is the son of Rabbi Chaim Zev Citron of Yeshivah Ohr Elchnon Chabad and Ahavas Yisroel Synagogue. He lives in Miami where he teaches Torah to Jews of all ages.




FEBRUARY 20, 2014


Labor of Love: A Profile of Perutz Etz Jacob Hebrew Academy By Alisa Roberts

I’m sitting in the office of Rabbi Shlomo Harrosh, Principal of the Rachela Silbur Perutz Etz Jacob Hebrew Academy. Sitting next to me in a chair much too large for her, feet dangling, is a small girl. She’s explaining a picture she drew to Rabbi Harrosh, pointing out the angels and Moshe. There is no anxiety about being in the principal’s office; on the contrary, she seems to be talking to an old friend. When she asks if she can start another drawing, Rabbi Harrosh gently explains that it’s important she go back to class so she doesn’t miss out on learning. She nods and gets up to leave, taking a copy of her picture to bring to her teacher. “Just amazing, isn’t she?” asks the rabbi. And she is. But I get the feeling he feels that way about all of his students. A quarter century of change Rabbi Reuven Huttler, Founder and Dean of the school, describes how it all began: “One day in the late summer of 1989, as I was coming back from my daily walk in Pan Pacific Park, I was stopped by Rabbi Uri Mayerfeld, who was then attending to the new Jewish emigres from Iran. He said, ‘Do you want to open up a school for 17 Iranian children of all ages – from kindergarten to 8th grade?’ I agreed.” And so, almost overnight, Rachela Silbur Perutz Etz Jacob Hebrew Academy came into being. It was initially housed in Rabbi Huttler’s shul, Congregation Etz Jacob on Beverly Boulevard. “We had absolutely no resources,” remembers Rabbi Huttler, “but here we are, a little over 25 years later, and Rachela Silbur Perutz Etz Jacob Hebrew Academy still flourishes.” When the school began it was intended

for immigrants – first the influx from Iran, and then those from the former Soviet Union. But the demographics shifted long ago. “Today the school is a virtual melting pot of boys and girls whose parents are locals as well as representation of every ethnic segment of the Los Angeles Jewish community,” says Rabbi Huttler. “It’s very mixed. We serve a wide spectrum of the community,” says Rabbi Harrosh. “Our policy is that we don’t reject kids for financial reasons.” This might seem like a simple statement, especially from a Jewish school, but it isn’t. There are more than a few students attending school at Rachela Silbur Perutz Etz Jacob whose families cannot afford to pay tuition – and so they pay no tuition at all. While the rest of the student body pays some tuition or full tuition, the deficit is made up by donations from the community. Bernard Suissa, the president of the school, has devoted extraordinary time and energy into meeting the school’s financial needs. His efforts haven’t stopped at business hours; he even asked that the gifts for his upcoming wedding be donated directly to the school. In addition, a group of local young men are launching a fundraising program to help the school continue to provide Jewish education for every child who seeks it, making sure that no Jewish child is left behind. The program consists of 613 individuals in the city, each donating $26 on a monthly basis, creating a tree of life that will support the school. As appreciated and beautiful as these fundraising efforts are, the plan for the future does not rely entirely on fundraising, but also on bringing in more students. And they certainly have much to

offer them. Whole child education Half the day is focused on Hebrew studies, the other half on English studies, and the core curriculum is the same offered by California public schools. There are teams from the Los Angeles Unified School District and Title I to ensure that every child is on level in Language Arts. There is a concentration on skills, but more than that there is a focus on giving each child what he or she needs. “We have a special niche,” says Rabbi Harrosh. “We look at the whole child.” And that means something different for each student. The kids get a lot of one on one attention; the school prides itself on differentiation and individualization. For example, one of their 1st grade boys was recently moved up to 2nd grade for general studies, while remaining in 1st for Torah studies. This arrangement allows the best of both intellectual and social worlds for that student, and he’s thriving as a result. Another bright girl who was struggling in a larger school is comfortable here, and is now one of the most popular in her class. Perutz Etz Jacob has students who need more support academically, many who are on level and above, and gifted students as well – and they all get the same attention. “Children need love and attention. It solves a lot of problems,” says Rabbi Harrosh, whose open-door policy is illustrated by the children who peek in for a wave and a smile as our interview goes on. “Because we’re small, we can give personalized attention, and bring out the best in kids,” Angie Jalakian, English Principal, explains. “It’s a nurturing en-

vironment.” Whether a student needs a conversation, some one on one time, or a curriculum change, the staff are there to notice and provide. “We adjust ourselves to the kids.” This amount of individualization can be challenging for teachers at times, but they are happy with the results. The staff meet regularly to discuss both the curriculum and the kids. Communication between teachers and administration is very open, and both principals describe the teachers as insightful and dedicated. Rabbi Harrosh, himself a long-time educator who has worked at several other local Jewish schools, sums his thoughts on his teachers up very simply: “I trust them.” His trust appears well-placed; most of the staff has been here for years and is well-loved by the students. In fact, two staff members, including Rabbi Harrosh, have been at the school for 19 years. “I couldn’t leave,” he explains with a smile. “The dream is a school that serves everybody: rich, poor, gifted children, children with difficulties, and everyone in between. In a way that is comfortable, and not stigmatized. Isn’t that what basic Jewish values are?” explains Rabbi Harrosh. They are already moving toward this dream; parents who brought their children to the school to find a better fit for their kids are spreading the word to friends, which is beginning to bring in more students. Culture of tolerance How are they planning on creating this comfortable, accepting environment? Well, they already have it. Their teachers and staff are compassionate and well-



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trained, and the students seem to pick up on those cues, resulting in a happily well-integrated student body. Mrs. Jalakian has one more theory on why it works: “It trickles down from the top. Rabbi Harrosh has a vision and a style that’s all about the human touch. It’s very easy to lose that and start treating students as numbers. He treats every child as an individual and a person.” It is Angie Jalakian’s first year at the school, and she herself has enjoyed the warm environment here. “Being welcomed and accepted is the greatest reward,” she says. Rabbi Harrosh doesn’t see this as anything exceptional. His philosophy focuses on figuring out what issue is causing a child to act out or to struggle and helping the child, rather than simply punishing the behavior. As an example, he tells a story of a student who had an emotional issue which led to motion difficulties. This student couldn’t even walk to class without holding onto the walls. After a year of attention in a comfortable environment, he was walking normally. “Kids need a human touch and a sense of success,” says Rabbi Harrosh. Rabbi Huttler agrees. “One of the most moving characteristics of the school is the visibly warm environment that envelops each student from the moment they cross our doorstep,” he says. “Even years later, when I meet alumni, their appreciation never ceases to amaze me. There is not a week where I don’t bump into young professional men and women who graduated from the Rachela Silbur Perutz Etz Jacob Hebrew Academy, and who recall how their lives changed for the better as a result of our TLC.” Success stories They aren’t the only ones who believe in the school. Former students will be the first to tell you how much the school has benefited them. Rabbi Harrosh shared a letter written to him by three former students, one of whom is learning in Jerusalem while the other two are attending law school. Among many lines of gratitude and happy memories were these words: “Although we may have moved on from Rachela Silbur Perutz Etz Jacob, rest as-

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sured that we carry with us – as we will always do – a piece of your school deep within us…We are truly indebted to you and your school.” These students are just a few of many successful graduates. Rabbi Harrosh is happy to tell me about the studies and professions of his former pupils. He talks about a 6th grade student who came from the public school system, with no Hebrew background, who is now a rabbi and educator in Lakewood. “He said that the way he teaches there is what he saw here,” says Rabbi Harrosh proudly. Another story is of a woman who couldn’t find a school for her three daughters. They came to Perutz Etz Jacob, and they are now all Jewish educators. One of the girls was so eager to express her gratitude that she even retroactively paid the tuition that her mother had been unable to pay. Rabbi Huttler also has a collection of these stories. “Over a year ago, I met a young woman at Cedars Sinai Hospital,” he tells me. “She recognized me, but I did not know who she was. She explained that she was a graduate of Rachela Silbur Perutz Etz Jacob and is now a pharmacist. It happened to be her day off and she was spending it doing chesed, a mitzvah, visiting Jewish patients at the hospital – a value that she said she learned at our Academy. This is what I call real nachas.” Nachas is the word. Rachela Silbur Perutz Etz Jacob Hebrew Academy manages to not only educate students, but to inspire tolerance, empathy, and real appreciation in their graduates. The same letter written by former students closes with these lines: “We understand how hard your jobs can be; but rest assured your hard work does not go to waste, for the system works. We are living examples. You instilled within us a sense of Jewish pride, acceptance of others, and last but certainly not least a great Jewish and secular education that has served us well in everything we do… We are the products of your hard labor, love, and dedication.” Who could say more than that? To learn more about the school, donate, or join in the 613 Campaign, please visit www.perutzetzjacob.com


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FEBRUARY 20, 2014


A Remarkable Life: Reb Meir Schuster ZT”L ‘The Man of the Wall’

Rabbi Meir Schuster of the Heritage Foundation, better kown as ‘The Man of the Wall’ passed away on 17 Adar I 5774 after a long illness. The levaya was held the same day in Jerusalem after which he was buried on Har Hazeisim. For those who are unfamiliar with Rabbi Schuster, below is his remarkable story. His Story It was the early 1980’s and Rabbi Meir Schuster had already become a permanent fixture at the Kosel. Although he had met thousands of young Jews and become the catalyst for their introduction to Judaism, something was still bothering him. Simply put, there was no place “Jewish” for these kids to stay in the Old City. There were youth hostels in the Christian Quarter and in the Muslim Quarter that were regularly filled with Jewish students, but there was no place Jewish for them to find a budgetoriented and sociable place to spend the night. And so, Rabbi Schuster launched his second groundbreaking venture—Heritage House. In 1985, the Heritage House youth hostel in the Jewish Quarter opened its doors for the first time. The men’s and women’s youth hostels are housed in renovated Crusader Period buildings located a short walk from the Kotel. In keeping with his vision, Heritage House not only provided clean, comfortable and free accommodations, but the dedicated and talented staff created a pleasant, low key atmosphere where students could ask questions about Judaism and discuss the meaning of their heritage and identity. To date, over 60,000 young Jews from around the world have been hosted by Heritage House, and today Heritage House annually provides thousands of visitors with a unique place to stay; and, if they choose, to also experience classes in introductory Judaism – as well as special Shabbos and holiday programming – all in the heart of the Jewish world that is the Old City of Jerusalem. Like Reb Meir himself, Heritage House has become a Jerusalem landmark. Indeed, just as it is hard to imagine the Kosel without Reb Meir, it is difficult to imagine the Rova (Jewish Quarter) without Heritage House. It is because of this great man and

the great institution he founded, that literally thousands of Jews have found their way home; home not just to Israel and Jerusalem, but home to the Jewish people, to Jewish destiny, and to the timeless depth of their own Jewish souls. Meir Tzvi Schuster was born on January 22, 1943 to Morris and Mary, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Typical of the Jewish experience at the time, young Meir attended public school. At the age of eleven, his parents enrolled him in Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski’s afternoon Hebrew School. Rabbi Twerski took a personal interest in helping Meir catch up to the other students and the two formed a close bond. After two years, in 1958, Meir went to study at the Yeshiva in Skokie, Illinois – Bais Medrash L’Torah. Two years later, he transferred to the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, Maryland where Rabbi Schuster stood out as someone who was passionately devoted to Torah study, to prayer and to mitzvah observance. Each morning, Reb Meir would wake his fellow students in the dorm, calling out, “Wake up. Wake up. It’s time to serve Hashem!” He was also a talented artist, and together with his friend Chaim Kass, who was a sofer, he created a number of beautiful ketubos. On Shabbos, Reb Meir spent the entire day studying in the bais medrash with a box of dates or figs at his side. With the exception of prayer and Torah discussions, he did not speak—the holy Shabbos was reserved exclusively for spirituality. Rabbi Shlomo Porter, the founder of Etz Chaim in Baltimore, still remembers the intensity with which Reb Meir would recite the Birkas Hamazon after eating. Indeed, anyone who has ever seen Rabbi Schuster daven at the Kotel, or anywhere else, can’t help but see that he is engaged in an intense, personal encounter with his Creator. The Kotel Rabbi Schuster and his Rebitzen, the former Esther Garfinkle of Monticello, New York, were married in 1967, six months after the Six Day War. Three months later, in March 1968, they came to Israel, for a year of Torah study in the Mir Yeshiva. As if to foreshadow the kind of impact the Schusters would eventually have on so many young Jews, they decided to extend their stay—for four decades! The Schusters settled in the Ezras Torah neighborhood of Jerusalem and had four children. Not long after moving to Israel, Rabbi Schuster and his old friend Chaim Kass were at the Kotel where they a saw a young man wearing a backpack who was obviously deeply touched by his encoun-

ter with the Wall. Reb Chaim went over to the young man and asked if he would be interested in learning about Judaism, and the young man responded that he was. Unbeknownst to anyone at the moment, that young man who had been moved to tears at the Kotel, represented the beginning of a revolution. For the next two weeks, Reb Meir and Reb Chaim kept returning to the Kotel to try to interest more people in exploring Judaism. By nature, Rabbi Schuster is particularly quiet and reserved, an introvert not naturally given to conversation, and so Reb Chaim initially did the talking. Within a couple of weeks, however, Rabbi Schuster began to take the lead, and he never, ever looked back. Rabbi Schuster, in his unassuming yet confident way, would walk up to people and begin by engaging them with the simplest of questions; “Are you Jewish?” “Do you know what time it is?” These questions became doorways to conversations that eventually led to other questions; “Have you ever experienced a Shabbos meal?” “Would you like to meet a wise man?” And so Rabbi Schuster would meet people—first dozens, then hundreds and eventually thousands—and he would arrange for them to be hosted for a Shabbos meal, or to take their first taste of Judaism at Aish HaTorah, Ohr Somayach, N’vei Yerushalayim, Dvar Yerushalayim, the Diaspora Yeshiva or wherever he felt was the appropriate place for that particular young man or woman. For forty years, day in and day out—day after day and night after night—Rabbi Meir Schuster was a fixture at the Kotel. In time, Friday night and Shabbos at the Kotel became synonymous with Rabbi Meir Schuster. (He was later joined by Jeff Seidel.) All week long, Rabbi Schuster would meet people, and if he couldn’t interest them in studying, he would urge them to meet him back at the Kotel on Friday night so that he could arrange for them to have a Shabbos dinner at someone’s home. And so, every Friday night at the Kotel, after the prayer services were concluded, Rabbi Schuster would round up a handful of people, or a dozen – sometimes, several dozen – and escort them thru the streets of Jerusalem to families who were awaiting their special guests. As the years passed, it wasn’t uncommon to see Rabbi Schuster, his son Duvi, and a volunteer or two surrounded by twenty, thirty, forty people waiting to experience Shabbos. Indeed, long before the Internet, almost any young person who was traveling to Israel eventually heard through the grapevine that if they wanted a Shabbos meal in Jerusalem, all they had

to do was hang out at the Kotel and Rabbi Schuster would find them. Heritage House & Shorashim Heritage Centers In 1985, Rabbi Schuster founded the Heritage House youth hostel in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. This was in response to his great pain at meeting young people staying in youth hostels in the Christian and Moslem Quarters of the Old City. He was a tireless visionary who raised all the necessary funds and hired a dedicated and talented staff to transform this new dream into a vibrant reality. Over the years, Heritage House has provided tens of thousands of visitors with a unique place to stay, and if they choose, to also experience the introduction to Judaism classes, or Shabbos and holiday programs that are available through the Heritage House. Like Rabbi Schuster himself, Heritage House became a Jerusalem landmark. But then came the Intifada of 2000. The wave of terror attacks almost dried up the number of tourists who were visiting the Kotel. Instead of using this slow period for some much needed rest and relaxation, Rabbi Schuster launched a new, ambitious venture—Shorashim Heritage Centers, for young secular Israelis to learn about their Heritage. The first center was opened in the heart of Jerusalem’s downtown district, with subsequent centers in Herzliya, Haifa, Modiin and Pardes Chana. Rabbi Schuster again shouldered the burden of raising all the funds and assembled a team of dynamic educators who speak the language of Israeli youth. Within ten years after opening the first center, over 50,000 young people had their first taste of Jewish wisdom and spirituality in a warm, open, non-threatening atmosphere. To date, through Shorashim, over 300 couples have met, married and begun to build vibrant Jewish families. ‫יהי זכרו ברוך‬



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By Esther Reitzes

It was quicker and easier to give in. I marched up to the cashier, ugly mask on top of the pile of party ware, all the while mentally berating myself for being as firm and consistent as a marshmallow. I had intended for Shoshie to go to school dressed up as Queen Esther, hoping to reinforce a positive image. She had been giving her teacher a hard time, and had entrenched herself in the role of ‘teacher’s nightmare’. It wasn’t that Morah Zahavi wasn’t experienced; it was just that after some thirty-odd years of teaching first grade, she had no patience for strong minded little girls who didn’t follow the teachers’ manual of recommended strategies. The situation had come to a head on the morning of the class performance. An hour before the performance was to begin, I had received a frantic call from the teacher. “Never in my thirty years of teaching did I have a child refuse to participate in a performance!! I must ask you to come NOW and either persuade Shoshie to cooperate, or sit with her while everyone else gets ready.” I dropped everything, came to school much earlier than I had planned for, and sat through both the dress rehearsal and the final performance with my daughter on my lap. She had been quite content to be part of the audience rather than a performer.

Eventually, the teacher had decided to negotiate a truce of sorts. “As long as she does not disturb the class, I won’t disturb her,” she had declared. This certainly was not the optimal esteem building experience that I had wanted for my child, and now, her insistence on wearing this hideous mask, just served to reinforce my misgivings. Shoshie came to the Purim program in school wearing a lovely pink dress fit for a queen. Her unruly curls were somewhat tamed by the tinsel tiara holding them down. Morah Zahavi, approaching from behind, asked: “and who is this lovely Queen Esther??” Shoshie spun around, her mask set in a frightening grimace. “I’m Zeresh!” Her teacher froze in shock and took a step back. Then she caught herself, smiled and said: “Happy Purim, Zeresh! Come to the mat, we are about to start.” I gave Shoshie a quick hug, and left to take the four year old to his classroom. I thought back to the sessions my husband and I had with a lovely young children’s services coordinator. She was Jewish, and although she was not quite religious , her last name, Tzaddik, suited her caring nature well. When we asked her for advice in dealing with our strong-willed Shoshie, she had answered: “You are religious people. What

would the Torah say about how to deal with such a situation?” My husband and I were floored. We spent the ride home exploring the answer to this question, and we resolved to put more effort into focusing on each child, giving them individual attention and unconditional love. Later, when I returned to Shoshie’s classroom, she was busy eating her Purim party nosh; the ugly mask and the silver tiara lay abandoned on the floor. She smiled when she saw me, generously offering the baby a chocolate wafer. I sighed with relief. I just had a glimpse of the precious little girl behind the mask, a little girl who needed a firm but friendly hand to nurture all of the goodness hidden within. I promised myself never to lose sight of the pure soul beyond the surface- for don’t we all sometimes choose to wear masks that are inconsistent with our essence? Esther Reitzes is the pen name of the CEO of the Reitzes home, managing (kein ayin horo) 13 portfolios, some of which have matured and have spawned their own portfolios, thank G-d. In between investments and watching the small stocks grow, she enjoys writing.

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

“Shoshie, sweetheart, why would you want that ugly mask?” I pleaded. Shoshie looked at me from the corners of her big brown eyes trying to determine how strongly I was opposed to her choice. Her corkscrew curls bounced unhindered as she shook her head impatiently. “I want THIS one,” she repeated in a firm voice that allowed no argument. “But Shoshie, we picked out such a pretty dress and tiara already. You were going to be Queen Esther, remember? Queen Esther would never have looked like this” I said, pointing to the offensive mask. “This would suit a witch, or maybe even Haman’s wife, Zeresh. But you are a mitzvah girl, right?” Shoshie didn’t fall for it. She was a strong minded six year old whose reactions just didn’t follow the parenting books’ recommended strategies. I weighed the choices. The baby was starting to grizzle, he needed to be fed. I had to bring the shopping home and give everyone dinner. There were still many more things I needed to do before the day ended. Shoshie was holding the mask tightly, as if it was a most treasured memento. I did not dare to try pulling it away, as it probably wouldn’t survive a tug-of- war, and I had neither the time nor patience for negotiation.


Purim Mask


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You Gotta be



One fine fall day, the Native Americans asked their chief if the upcoming winter was going to be cold. Not really knowing an answer, the chief replied that the winter was going to be cold with lots of snow and that the members of the tribe were to collect wood to be prepared. Being a good leader, he then went to the nearest phone booth and called the National Weather Service and asked, “Is this winter to be cold?” The man on the phone responded, “This winter is going to be quite cold indeed.” So the chief went back to speed up his people to collect even more wood to be prepared. A week later, the good leader called the National Weather Service again. “Is it going to be a very cold winter?” “Yes,” the man on the other line replied, “it’s going to be a very cold winter.” So the chief went back to his people and ordered them to go and find every scrap of wood they could find. Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again: “Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?” “Absolutely,” the man replied, “the Indians are collecting wood like crazy!”

oes a Q. Where d p ee snowman k his money? bank. A. In a snow


Answer on next page

fivetow centerfold@ nsjewis hhome. com

Question & Answer Session Q. What kin of math d Snowy O do wls like? A.  Owlge bra. 

Q. What kin of math d Snowy O do wls like? A.  Owlge bra. 

Q. How d oe snowma s a n get to work? A.  By icicle

Four friends were competing in the internationally snowboarding competition. As usual, the judges were a little careless and once again, they managed to lose the results. Luckily, a number of spectators were able to remember the following snippets of information: Only one person wore the same number as the position they finished. Gary, who didn’t wear green, beat Barry. Larry beat the person who wore yellow. The person who wore number 3, wore green. The person who wore number 2 finished first whereas Harry came last. The person who finished second wore green, Barry wore yellow and the person wearing red beat the person Comm Let the wearing blue. ission Can you work out who er dec ide S e n finished where, the numd you r stuff to ber and color they wore?

ppened Q. What ha icle when the ic e th landed on head? snowman’s him A. It knocked out cold

Q. What do ear snowmen w s? ad on their he A.  Icecaps

you Q. What do ou get when y rk cross a sha ? man with a snow A.  Frostbite

Q. What do ave snowmen h st? for breakfa es A.  Snowflak

r t of Q: What so owmen cakes do sn like best? A: Ones with thick icing

you Q.  What do n ma call a snow r? me in the sum A.  A puddle

Q. What d snowme o n call their offs pring? A. Chill-dr en.


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wind system and cloud depression thereby creating inflow humidity which results in surface saturation causing whiteout conditions. d. Sustained wind of 35 miles an hour winds and falling snow which causes visibility to be reduced to less than ½ of a mile.

1. On the average, one inch of rain is equivalent to how many inches of snow? a. 10 inches b. 1 inch c. 5 inches d. 1 foot 2. Which state’s license plates have the slogan, “Greatest Snow on Earth”? a. Vermont b. Utah c. Montana d. Colorado 3. What is the record for the most snowfall on the U.S. mainland over a 24-hour period? a. 38 inches b. 54 inches c. 76 inches d. 101 inches 4. What causes a snowstorm to be defined as a blizzard? a. It’s an instinct. When people go to the store and buy ice cream, doughnuts, chips and any junk food they can find because “tomorrow is an off day,” that’s when you know a blizzard is coming. b. When 12 or more inches of snow falls in a 24 hour period. c. Snowfall which is caused by an offshore front combined with a downward air mass (usually coming from Canada or the north) which causes a vortex followed by an arctic blast which causes atmospheric pressure

5. What color snow fell over an area of 580 sq. miles in Siberia on Feb 2, 2007? a. Orange b. Black c. Pink d. Yellow 6. The average yearly snowfall in the New York City area is 17 inches. How many inches of snow have we had so far this winter? a. 23 b. 32 c. 46 d. 55 Answers: 1. A-10 inches of snow melts down to about an inch of liquid rain. 2. B 3. C-On April 14, 1921 in Silver Lake, Colorado, it snowed 76 inches over 24 hours. The storm raged for a total of 32.5 hours straight and ultimately left 95 inches (8 feet) of snow, which is the record for one continuous snowfall. Silver Lake is at 10,220 feet and about 40 miles west of Denver. 4. D 5. A-The 2007 Siberian orange

What the Centerfold Commissioner would look like if he was a snowman… because he’s cool

Answer to riddle: Gary won, wore number 2 and red. Larry came second, wore number 3 and green. Barry came third, wore number 1 and yellow. Harry came last and wore number 4 and blue.

snow was oily to the touch and reported to contain four times the normal level of iron. Although an official cause for this phenomenon was never determined, it is believed that it was caused by a heavy sandstorm in neighboring Kazakhstan. 6. D-(Not counting additional accumulation that was in the forecast as the Centerfold Commissioner penned this…The Centerfold Commish was not going to sit around and wait to measure that snow. He has things to do, you know.) Wisdom Key: 5-6 correct: 880’s weatherman, Craig Allen, better watch out from you! 3-4 correct: You are OK…a bit of brain freeze, but that’s understandable, considering the weather. 0-2 correct: When are you going to realize that these deep conversations you have with your snowman are not going to make you any smarter?

T H E J E W I S H H O M E n M AY 2 4 , 2012



76 88 36



Compiled by Nate Davis

“Say What?” Norway currently leads the medal count with 12, followed by the Netherland and Canada, followed then by white-sylvania and albinostan. The Winter Games are really the only games that to do well, you have to look exactly like the surface you’re competing on. - Jon Stewart

I will remember it all: the cheers, the boos, every win, every loss, all the plane trips, the bus rides, the clubhouses, the walks through the tunnel and every drive to and from the Bronx. I have achieved almost every personal and professional goal I have set. I have gotten the very most out of my life playing baseball, and I have absolutely no regrets. - Derek Jeter in his Facebook announcement that he will retire after the 2014 season

There are rumors that the Russian government placed cameras in the hotel bathrooms in Sochi. Russia said, “Don’t worry, our cameras don’t work either.” - Conan O’Brien

We’ve got a country that the poverty level is wealth in 99 percent of the rest of the world, so we’re talking about woe is me, woe is us, woe is this. The guy that’s making, oh my G-d, he’s making $35,000 a year, why don’t we try that out in India or some countries we can’t even name? China, anyplace, the guy is wealthy. - Bud Konheim, CEO and cofounder of luxury-fashion company Nicole Miller, on CNBC’s Squawk Box

Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching Auschwitz. All Jews are requested to disembark and take a short shower. - The horrible announcement made on a Belgium train by a person who got ahold of the train’s PA system

Bob Costas had to take a break from hosting the Olympics coverage due to an eye infection. In fact, his eyes are so bloodshot, he’s been made an honorary member of the U.S. snowboarding team. - Conan O’Brien

When I think about the array of global climate, of the global threats, think about this: terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—all challenges that know no borders. The reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them. – Secretary of State John Kerry in Indonesia talking about climate change

911 call from Washington County, Oregon:

OPERATOR: 911, Police Fire and Medical. CALLER: Yeah we got a problem here. My wife is struggling in her jacket and can’t get it off. I want 911 here immediately.  OPERATOR: Is she not breathing?  CALLER: She’s alright, she just can’t get her … jacket off.

I move from state to state, and most of the time people don’t recognize me, but they think, “He has no reason to be in this state, in this city.” And by the time they realize it, I’ve already left…I am totally homeless. – George Zimmerman in an interview with Univision

I like it. I don’t mind. And I tell you, five years from now, when everybody’s saying, “Man, I’m sure glad we got healthcare,” there are going to be a whole bunch of people who don’t call it Obamacare anymore because they don’t want me to get the credit. - President Obama, when asked in an interview what he thinks of the term “Obamacare” Well, first of all, I love the dress on her because I think it’s so elegant and so simple. - A CNN reporter discussing the $12,000 dollar dress Michelle Obama wore to a State Dinner last week

[New York City’s Mayor’s office] snow policy is ridiculous. Tell people to stay off the roads. Stay home. But send your kids/teachers/staff in? - Tweet by Today show weatherman Al Roker after Mayor de Blasio kept schools open during last week’s snowstorm

- Jimmy Kimmel I decided to arrange an imaginary plan for the Israeli Shabak [Israel’s General Security Service] so that I would be arrested. After I would spend five years [in prison] I would receive a salary of about 4,000 shekels and this amount would be for three years. That means there would be a total amount of 135,000 shekels and then I would cover my debts. - The reason given by a Palestinian why he had himself arrested for a terrorist plot he claims he never planned on carrying out

I knew this AM [that NY City’s Mayor’s office] would close schools. Talk about a bad prediction. Long range Diblasio forcast: 1 term. - Ibid. I respect Al Roker a lot. I’ve watched him on TV for many, many years. It’s a different thing to run a city than to give the weather on TV. - Mayor de Blasio responding to Al Roker’s tweets at a press conference Hey, thank you for leaving me off your Mount Rushmore. I’m glad you did. Basketball is a team game; it’s not for individual honors. I won back-to-back state championships in high school, back-to-back NCAA championships in college. I won an NBA championship my first year in the league, an NBA championship in my last year, and nine in between. That, Mr. James, is etched in stone. - Bill Russell responding to LeBron James not including him in his “basketball Mt. Rushmore”

The $10 bill, as everyone knows, features President Alexander Hamilton — undeniably one of our greatest presidents and most widely recognized for establishing the country’s financial system. - Sentence from a promotion on Groupon for President’s Day, mistakenly referring to the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury as a president of the United States

Today in New York was the finals of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. This was the 138th Westminster Dog Show, which proves that no matter how boring something is, you can still do it over and over again.

I know, you know, we’ve spent seven years trying to persuade rightwingers, no, he really was born in Hawaii, we have his birth certificate, stop with the crazy conspiracy theories. But, let’s just think, you know, for a thought experiment for a moment: if Obama were born in another country, had no love for this country, and had set out to destroy America, what would he be doing differently?

- Jimmy Kimmel

– Ann Coulter

To the best of my knowledge, no. I’ve taken the unusual step of not only seeing a doctor but a vet, and both have confirmed I’m not a reptile… I’ve never been in a spaceship, never been in outer space, and my tongue’s not overly long either. - New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, responding to an Official Information Act request asking for proof that is not actually a lizard alien from outer space

I want to die with my boots on. That’s half the reason why I go to these places–– Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, getting shot at––I’d rather die; I’ve been looking to get killed in action for years. That’s one of the reasons I’m so bold. Because I don’t [care]. - Geraldo Rivera in an interview with the Blaze

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

It was 15 degrees cooler in Atlanta when they had the Summer Olympics than it is in Sochi where they had the Winter Olympics. It got up to 60 degrees today. It was so warm some of the people staying in the hotels thought the heat started working.

- Conan O’Brien

Such charges would be ridiculous if they weren’t so vile…My family’s experience with anti-Semitism and oppression runs deep. On another visit to the Czech Republic last fall, I visited the town where my grandfather Frederick Kerry was born Fritz Kohn. A few years before emigrating to America, while serving in the military, my grandfather converted from Judaism to Catholicism because of anti-Semitism in the ranks. In memory – and in honor – of the Kohns, I planted a tree in my grandfather’s town….All this is part of my brother John Kerry’s DNA. – Secretary of State John Kerry’s brother, Cameron Kerry, in an op-ed in the Yediot Achronot, responding to charges that John Kerry is an anti-Semite


At a McDonald’s in Michigan, a woman fired a gun at a drivethrough worker for forgetting bacon on her order. In the woman’s defense, the worker did forget her bacon.


But I would say, you know, if you’re getting married – why are you getting married? Why would you get married? Why would anybody get married? In that the person that they love so much, that was irresistible, that they had to get married? I’m not a big one for rushing people into marriage as wonderful and happy as mine was. - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-Cali), discussing marriage in a recent interview

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Passengers on a rush hour train traveling in Belgium were shocked to hear an announcement over the speaker system telling Jews to disembark at Auschwitz and take a shower. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching Auschwitz. All Jews are requested to disembark and take a short shower,” the announcement reportedly stated, according to the British newspaper The Independent. Viviane Teitlebaum, a Jewish Belgian lawmaker, told a Belgian broadcaster that she believes the men took a set of keys from the conductor to access the PA system.  The train that was traveling domestically was nowhere near Auschwitz – the notorious Nazi concentration camp where gas chambers were hidden in shower rooms – which is located in Poland.

UN: Kim Jong Un Should Face Justice

Dozens of members of Turkey’s parliament were involved in a brawl last week after a tense 20-hour debate on a law which boosts governmental control over the appointment of judges. Prime Minister Erdogan’s government proposed the bill as it fights a corruption scandal that implicated colleagues, friends and supporters.

Party members traded insults across the chamber before the fight broke out. Local media reported that Ali Ihsan Kokturk, MP for the main opposition Republican People’s party, was taken to hospital with a broken nose and another member suffered broken fingers. This is the second time a debate on this topic turned physical with Parliamentary members resorting to fists instead of words.

Last Monday, Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Ministry announced that the Jewish and Muslim traditional method of animal slaughter will be banned in the country, following similar measures already in place in Poland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The new law requires that all animals be stunned before being slaughtered, which is contrary to Islamic and Jewish teachings. This means that observant Muslims and Jews living in Denmark will no longer be able to purchase their meat from local butchers, and will have to buy imported halal and kosher meat instead. The ministry argues that halal and kosher slaughter methods are unethical and that religious rights do not come before animal rights. However, Muslims and Jews insist that their slaughter methods cause minimal suffering to the animals. According to Jewish law, stunning an animal before slaughter renders it not kosher. The ban is largely symbolic as there are currently no kosher slaughterhouses in Denmark. Nearly all meat for the small Jewish community is imported. Even so, the country’s 6,000 Jews inundated government offices with protests over the announcement.

European Commissioner for Health, Tonio Borg, condemned the ban, saying that it “contradicts European law.” Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Minister Karen Hækkerup acknowledged that Muslims and Jews were upset by the new measures, but vowed that the ministry would not change its policy. In response to the ban, Rabbi David



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On Monday, U.N. investigators released a report that said that North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un himself should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities to their people. The investigators told Kim in a letter they were advising the United Nations to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to make sure any culprits “including possibly yourself” were held accountable. North Korea “categorically and totally” rejected the accusations set out in the 372page report, saying they were based on material faked by hostile forces backed by the United States, the European Union and Japan. This public rebuke will undoubted-

Turkish Parliament Resorts to All-Out Brawl

Denmark Bans Kosher Slaughter





FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Anti-Jew Announcement Made on Belgium Train during Rush Hour

of the worst crimes. It did not reveal any names, but said that it had compiled a database of suspects from evidence and testimony. Pyongyang has used food as “a means of control over the population” and “deliberate starvation” to punish political and ordinary prisoners, according to the team of 12 investigators. Pervasive state surveillance quashes all dissent. Christians are persecuted and women face blatant discrimination. People are sent to prison camps without hope of release. Additionally, North Korea’s extermination of political prisoners over the past five decades might amount to genocide, the report said.



ly lead Kim to dig in his heels and continue to refuse pleas from other countries to rein in his country’s nuclear programs. The U.N. investigators said they had also told Kim’s main ally China that it might be “aiding and abetting crimes against humanity” by sending migrants and defectors back to North Korea to face torture and execution – a charge that Chinese officials adamantly dismissed. Michael Kirby, chairman of the independent Commission of Inquiry, told Reuters the crimes the team had catalogued were reminiscent of those committed by Nazis during World War Two. “Some of them are strikingly similar,” he pointed out. “Testimony was given ... in relation to the political prison camps of large numbers of people who were malnourished, who were effectively starved to death and then had to be disposed of in pots, burned and then buried ... It was the duty of other prisoners in the camps to dispose of them,” he said. Asked why the report had specifically mentioned Kim, Kirby told journalists: “A great deal of responsibility must lie on such a person. If you are at the center, then you have power to change things.” He continued, “I do expect that the report will galvanize action on the part of the international community.” Asked how many North Koreans are possibly guilty of these major crimes, Kirby replied: “The potential would be running into the hundreds, I would think.” Additionally, the gravity of the crimes were astounding—including murder, torture, abductions, starvations, executions and enslavement. “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” the U.N. investigative report said. The findings came out of a year-long investigation involving public testimony by defectors, including former prison camp guards, at hearings in South Korea, Japan, Britain and the United States. Defectors included Shin Dong-hyuk, who gave harrowing accounts of his life and escape from a prison camp. As a 13-yearold, he informed a prison guard of a plot by his mother and brother to escape and both were executed, according to a book on his life called Escape from Camp 14. Obviously, North Korea’s diplomatic mission in Geneva dismissed the findings. “We will continue to strongly respond to the end to any attempt of regime-change and pressure under the pretext of ‘human rights protection’,” it said. Rights violations listed in the document and forwarded to Pyongyang for comment several weeks ago, “do not exist in our country,” the statement added. The investigative team recommended targeted U.N. sanctions against civil officials and military commanders suspected

Lau, Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, said that kosher slaughter remains the only humane way to prevent animal suffering. “I will speak to the Danish ambassador to Israel and other Danish government officials, and if indeed this serious decision has been made, we will demand that it be reversed,” said Rabbi Lau. The decision to ban kosher slaughter, he added, “seriously hurts the Jewish religion and Jews in Denmark.” In justifying the ban, Denmark’s Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen said that “animal rights come before religious rights. I am in favor of religious slaughter, but it must be done in a way that does not bring pain to the animal. This can be accomplished only by stunning.”

Reporters without Borders: U.S. 46th in Global Press Freedom In its annual report, Reporters without Borders ranked the United States 46th in

global press freedom. The U.S. plummeted 13 slots to 46th overall “amid increased efforts to track down whistle-blowers and the sources of leaks,” the report noted. The U.S. is now ranked in between the likes of countries like Romania and Haiti.

The “press freedom group” was blunt in its explanation. It cited increased efforts to track down whistle-blowers and the sources of leaks, referring to Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden in particular. It also condemned the Justice Department’s surveillance of reporters, and the continued leak battle facing New York Times’ journalist James Risen. “Freedom of information is too often

sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result,” the group said. The report ranked Finland as 1st in press freedom; Israel as 96th; Afghanistan as 128th; Russia as 148th; and China as 175th. Before Americans go into a tizzy over these rankings, they should certainly consider the fact that Reporters without Borders is the same left-wing group that helped organize the Gaza flotilla. It’s no wonder they hate America, too.

spoke about the Jewish cultural heritage and the major influence Jews have had in Spain, including contributions in science, philosophy, culture, and arts. The Conference of Presidents delegation met with several other top officials in Spain as well as leaders of Spain’s Jewish community.

Jewish Leaders Meet King of Spain In a historic visit, 60 American Jewish leaders traveling with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met with King Juan Carlos I of Spain at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid last Thursday. During the meeting, the king

“We have been deeply impressed with the Spanish leadership and other officials during our meetings. They [spoke about] how deeply rooted the Jewish community remains here and how important it is to them,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents,

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Do you know the answer to this question? According to a newly released study by the National Science Foundation, one in four Americans are completely unfamiliar with Nicolaus Copernicus’s 1543 theory that the Earth circles the sun. The survey asked 2,200 people nine factual questions about physical and biological science. The question, “Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth,” was answered incorrectly by 26 percent of respondents.

The study also asked people to state their primary sources of information. The results showed a decline in television and newspapers as a source for information on both current news events and science and technology since 2001 and an increase in the internet. In 2001, 53% of people said television was their primary source for current news events, 30% said newspapers and 7% said the internet. Now, that had changed to 44% for television, 14% for newspapers and a whopping 34% the internet. In case you didn’t know, the Earth circles the sun, which is stationary.

Big Surprise: Americans Don’t Like Putin We definitely didn’t need an official poll to show that most Americans do not like Russian President Vladimir Putin. But according to a recent Gallup poll—just in time for the Winter Olympics—the Russian leader is unloved by 63% of Ameri-

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Hundreds Trapped in Illegal South African Mine

On Sunday, twelve South African illegal miners were rescued after being trapped in an abandoned gold mine near Johannesburg. Unfortunately, an unknown number remained underground because they feared arrest from the authorities. Those who were rescued were examined by medical personnel and then taken to police headquarters. Thankfully, there were no reports of deaths or injuries. As rescue operations ceased as nighttime fell, security personnel were put into place to arrest any miners who were able to escape on their own. Police were alerted to the trapped miners when they heard shouts from the mine. They were told that there may have been over 200 miners deeper in the mine. A crane was used to shift a large concrete slab that was obstructing the shaft belonging to the Chinese-owned bullion producer Gold One, which has prospecting rights to the mine but is not currently working it. Illegal mining of abandoned shafts is common in South Africa, where informal miners excavate ore to sell, often living underground in dangerous and precarious conditions. Fatal accidents are common, and underground battles between rival groups have also been reported.

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cans; 60% of Americans don’t view Russia in a favorable light. There could be many reasons for Americans’ disgust for Putin. Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, its granting asylum to notorious Edward Snowden, and the substandard conditions and threat of terrorism at the Winter Olympics may be to blame. Interestingly, Americans’ “unfavorability” for Putin has increased by ten percent since September and it has much to do with Putin dissing U.S. President Barack Obama in an op-ed in The New York Times. At the time, only 54% of Americans viewed Putin unfavorably. Despite the cold feelings for Vladimir across the pond, even in his own country, Putin’s popularity has been waning. A recent poll taken in 2013 found that his job approval rating in Russia was only 54% – 29% lower than the approval rating he received in 2008. Do svidaniya, Putin, ya know what I’m sayin’?


told JNS.org. Prior to the visit, the Spanish Justice Ministry announced groundbreaking legislation to give millions of Sephardic Jews descending from Jews expelled during the Spanish Inquisition the chance to claim Spanish citizenship. Hoenlein told JNS. org that he feels Spain is taking important steps to rectify troubled history with the Jewish people. “With the recent legislation [allowing Sephardic Jews to claim Spanish citizenship], Spain is confronting its history and not avoiding it, which I think is very positive,” Hoenlein said. 


FEBRUARY 20, 2014


“The illegal miners have dug a tunnel right next to it to access the shaft and it has collapsed behind them,” a spokesman said, adding that heavy rain may have triggered the collapse.

Politicians Say the Darndest Things The prime minister of New Zealand, John Key, has been forced to “confess” to the public that he is not a lizard. In early January, New Zealand writer Shane Warbrooke sent several requests through the Official Information Act, which aims to make official information available to the public. One of these was for Prime Minister John Key to prove that he isn’t “a David Icke-style shape shifting reptilian alien ushering humanity towards enslavement.”

Prime Minister Key responded to the request by publicly stating the following: “To the best of my knowledge, no. I’ve taken the unusual step of not only seeing a doctor but a vet, and both have confirmed I’m not a reptile…I’ve never been in a spaceship, never been in outer space, and my tongue’s not overly long either.” Once you are playing this game, Mr. John Key, answer this: Are you a Johnkey?

Iraqi Cleric to Quit Politics While Violence Rocks the Country

Only two months before national parliamentary elections, Muqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most influential Shiite clerics, has announced that he will quit politics. The party that uses his name holds 40 out of 325 seats in the legislature—the largest single Shiite bloc—and holds six Cabinet seats. Al-Sadr says he will distance himself from the party. According to the cleric, the move was to “preserve the reputation of the al-Sadr [family]... and to put an end to all the wrongdoings that were conducted, or could be conducted, under their title.” It did not explain further. “I announce here that I will not interfere in politics. There is no political entity that represents me anymore nor any position in parliament and government,” his statement read. “Whoever acts against this will be subjected to legal and religious action.” He also ordered all al-Sadr political offices to be closed down. The move did not appear to be expected. Al-Sadr officials could not be reached for contact. Al-Sadr came to prominence in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, whose regime killed his father and grandfather. He established his Mahdi Army militia that fought the Americans and is blamed by many Iraqis for much of the sectarian violence that raged in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. Al-Sadr’s announcement came amidst recent violence in the country. Iraq’s main al-Qaeda breakaway group claimed responsibility for an audacious attack on military barracks that killed 15 troops last week. Eight of the soldiers were beheaded in the Monday attack. Additionally, gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in Kirkuk, killing five police-

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men. In Chikok, a parked car bomb exploded in a commercial area, killing four civilians and wounding 14 others. Iraq is undergoing a surge in violence, its worst since 2008, which has become the Shiite-led government’s most serious challenge. Violence has spiked since last April, when security forces cracked down on a Sunni protest camp north of Baghdad. According to the U.N., 8,868 people were killed in Iraq last year — the country’s highest death toll since a peak of sectarian bloodletting in 2007.

Pakistani Taliban Infiltrates the City of Karachi According to a report by NBC News, the Pakistani Taliban has changed locations from the mountains of the tribal regions of Pakistan to the ghettos of the country’s largest city of Karachi. “The Taliban find easy camouflage in a place like Karachi,” said Major General Rizwan Akhtar of the Sindh Rangers. “The unplanned slums on the fringes of the city and its various ethnic enclaves provide the perfect cover for these guys. They come from the mountains, maybe get a shave, and just disappear.”

NBC News reported that another reason the Taliban has converged on Karachi is because it is a key port of exit for billions of dollars’ worth of military hardware that U.S. and NATO forces will be trucking out of neighboring Afghanistan as the drawdown intensifies. According to figures from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, almost 10,700 citizens were killed from 2010 until last year in various “target killings,” the local term used for those killed deliberately over ethnicity, sect or even affiliation with a rival political or Taliban group. Although 27,000 police officers and 15,000 paramilitary forces are tasked with keeping the city of 20 million people safe, the Taliban is feared by all. Last week, a suicide attack killed 13 police commandos and injured over 50 as they were leaving their base for deployment.

Israel Op-Ed: Kerry No Anti-Semite

Israelis don’t have a favorable opinion of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his recent comments have made them think that he’s more than just not a lover of the Jewish State. In response to recent rumblings, Kerry’s brother wrote an op-ed defending accusations by some Israeli politicians accusing the American diplomat of being anti-Semitic. Cameron Kerry, who converted to Judaism, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth on Sunday that “such charges would be ridiculous if they weren’t so vile.” The pressure that John Kerry has been placing on Israel to soften its stance in the Middle East peace talks was condemned publicly by at least one member of Israel’s Knesset – MK Moti Yogev of the Jewish Home – as possibly containing “anti-Semitic undertones,” and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon reportedly accused him of taking a “messianic” and “naïve” approach to talks. In Cameron Kerry’s op-ed, which appeared in Sunday’s edition of Yediot and was translated into English on the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv’s Facebook page, he detailed his family’s own experience with anti-Semitism. “At Terezin,” he wrote, “I walked along the banks of Ohre River and joined other members of our temple in saying Kaddish at the place where the Nazis poured out the cremated remains of some 22,000 inmates who died at Terezin. These presumably included the remains of my paternal great-uncle Otto Lowe, who died at Terezin in 1942. He, along with his sister Jenni, was transported to Terezin in 1942. Jenni was soon sent to die at Treblinka.” He noted that the grandfather, Frederick Kerry, was born Fritz Kohn in Czechoslovakia and upon emigrating to America and joining the military, changed his name and converted to Catholicism because of anti-Semitism in the army’s ranks. “All this is part of my brother John Kerry’s DNA,” Cameron wrote. Cameron continued, “I recall when he [John Kerry] came home from his first


Recent reports have indicated that fuel stations in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria are refusing to serve PA officials due to a fight over unpaid bills. According to the Bethlehem-based Maan news, the West Bank Union of Gas Station Owners said the PA has not paid its fuel bills for half a year, ratcheting up a debt of $15.7 million.

In response to the lack of payment, the Union’s deputy spokesperson, Nizar alJaabari, said officials had been given an ultimatum of February 15th to pay their bills. Both PA security forces and the Finance Ministry were notified, but Saturday came and went without the bills being paid. Many of these debts have left gas stations unable to purchase new stocks of fuel. This recent piece of news is just the latest chapter in allegations of PA corruption and mismanagement of funds. Interestingly, the PA hardly seems eager to pay its past-due bills. Recently, the organization announced plans to build two new airports—one of which would be located in a part of Judea-Samaria controlled by Israel, known as Area C. The project is expected to cost within the millions. More so, the PA, which relies heavily on foreign donors, has been begging the world to step up financial aid in order to save it from collapsing. At the same time

Israeli Arms Dealers Tried to Send Weapons to Iran

Despite an embargo against Iran, Israeli weapons smugglers tried to send fighter jet parts to Iran, the Greek daily Kathimerini reported on Monday. The probe that found the violation was a joint venture between U.S.’s Homeland Security and Greece’s Financial Crimes Squad. The arms dealers attempted to send the spare parts for F-4 Phantom aircraft via Greece, according to the report. The illegal transaction was carried out in two phases, in December 2012 and April 2013. The spare parts shipment originated in Binyamina, south of Haifa, and was shipped to a Greek company near Athens registered under the name Tassos Karras SA. Greek authorities determined that the firm was a ghost company. Greek authorities confiscated the shipment before it could be sent to Iran, which has a large fleet of F-4 Phantom aircraft. The Greek report did not reveal the identity of the Israeli firm or individuals who shipped the goods.

Sheldon Adelson’s Casino’s Website Hacked by Israel Haters

The website of the casino operation owned by Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson was hacked by unidentified vandals who criticized his support for Israel and posted personal information about employees, including email addresses and Social Security numbers. In an October appearance at Yeshiva University, Adelson told the audience how he would handle the Iran crisis if he were

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Gas Stations Refuse to Service PA Vehicles Due to Unpaid Bills

it has continued to provide huge monthly salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons while blaming Israel for the financial crisis.


visit to Israel with friends from the Boston Jewish community, more than thirty years ago as a young senator: he spoke vividly of flying an Israeli military jet over the country and realizing how it was possible to cross the country in a matter of moments. Today, his determined work on Middle East peace is informed by an abiding sense of the need to secure Israel as a home for the Jewish people.” “It is this deep involvement that has led to the conviction that Israel’s long-term security requires a two-state solution — that, in the face of the inexorable forces of security, demographics, and geography, Israel cannot sustain occupation of the West Bank and remain both democratic and Jewish,” Cameron concluded.


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president: “What I would say is, ‘Listen, you see that desert out there, I want to show you something.’ You pick up your cellphone, even at…roaming charges. You pick up your cellphone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say, ‘OK, let it go.’ So there’s an atomic weapon, goes over ballistic missiles, the middle of the desert, that doesn’t hurt a soul. Maybe a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever, and then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes.’” During the hacking incident, the homepage of the website of the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa., showed a photo of Adelson standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the dialogue saying, “Don’t let your tongue cut your throat. Encouraging the use of weapons of mass destruction, under any condition, is a crime.” It was signed by the Anti-WMD team. The page also showed a map of the world with flames where Sands has casinos in the United States. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned in 2013 that Iran had stepped up its cyber-attacks on Israel. In fact, two weeks ago hackers reportedly succeeded in breaking into a Defense Ministry computer.

and almost instantaneous answer to their query. It’s offered during the games, uses the resources of almost 15,000 translators, and is accessible in over 70 languages. Currently, the app services several major companies—including Coca Cola, Shell, the US Army, IBM, Pfizer, Avon and Xerox—in providing translation services for them. How do you say, “Where’s the gold?” in Russian?

National Funnyman Sid Caesar Dies at 91 Last Wednesday, Sid Caesar, the Jewish comic who was the inspiration for other well-known comedians, died at 91. His claim to fame was his time starring in “Your Show of Shows,” a show that ran from February 1950 to June 1954. Every Saturday night, viewers would tune in to hear 90 minutes of live original sketch comedy. Many say that the show was the forerunner of other, more recent shows on TV.

Israeli App Wins Big at Olympics Despite cries for “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” against Israel at the Winter Sochi Olympics, an Israeli app received a lot of attention at the Winter Games. The real-time translation app has made it to the top five apps for following the 2014 Olympics, according to the Telegraph UK. The app is entitled, “One Hour Translation,” and provides free real-time translation to users during the games.

The app is easy to use. Users simply need to tweet @OHT with an image or phrase and they receive an automatic

Some of Caesar’s most popular bits on the show were built around pompous or outlandish characters – such as Professor von Votsisnehm – in which he spoke in a thick accent or mimicked foreign languages in funny but convincing gibberish. In a 2001 interview with Reuters, Caesar said his ear for languages grew from frequent boyhood visits to his father’s restaurant in a blue-collar neighborhood of Yonkers, New York. “Men used to come in – there was a French table, a German table, a Russian table and an Italian table,” he recalled. “By taking up dishes during lunch hour, I’d pick [languages] up.” The son of Jewish immigrants, Caesar got his start playing saxophone in a dance band and performing comedy on the “Borscht Belt” circuit of the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. After serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, Caesar appeared in a Broadway musical revue called “Tars and


Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is taking his battles against President Obama’s surveillance program to federal court. Paul filed a class action lawsuit against President Obama and other top administration officials last week, with hopes of the case reaching the Supreme Court. The Conservative think tank Freedom Works is an active participant in the suit and the lead counsel is former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who was the first to file a suit against Obamacare. Senator Paul stated that this could be the largest class action lawsuit ever, with the possibility of 300 million people being part of the class, because anyone who has a phone can be a party to the suit.

The plaintiffs allege that the administration is violating the Fourth Amendment by collecting Americans’ phone metadata and are seeking a ruling that would halt the program and purge all previously collected data from government databases. “I’m not against the NSA, I’m not against spying, I’m not against looking at phone records,” Paul insisted. “I just want you to go to a judge, have an individual’s name and [get] a warrant. That’s what the Fourth Amendment says.” The senator also argued that there’s “no evidence” that NSA surveillance of phone data has stopped terrorism, even as the agency’s proponents say it plays an important role in keeping the country safe.

Bud Konheim has a message for all 99 percenters: You’re luckier than you think. Konheim, CEO and co-founder of luxury-fashion company Nicole Miller, said on CNBC’s Squawk Box  last week that America’s “99%” should stop seeing the cup as half empty. “We’ve got a country that the poverty level is wealth in 99 percent of the rest of the world,” he pointed out. “So we’re talking about woe is me, woe is us, woe is this.” He added, “The guy that’s making, oh my G-d, he’s making $35,000 a year, why don’t we try that out in India or some countries we can’t even name? China, anyplace, the guy is wealthy.”

If you are not familiar with the Nicole Miller Company, you must be in the “99%”—it sells $800 sequined dresses and $250 clutches. The CEO’s comments drew the ire of many and went viral over the media. Although Konheim is technically correct—globally, income of $34,000 a year gets you in the top 1 percent—some things, I guess, you just shouldn’t say.

That’s Odd Homeless Hungarian Man Wins Lotto with Last Coins All it took was a few coins for László Andraschek to go from rags to riches. When the homeless man was about to board a train to get to a meeting for recovering alcoholics, he decided to spend the last few coins in his pocket on a lotto ticket. But those few

Andrascheck promised that unlike most lotto winners, who go broke, he will live within his means. “I have become rich but I have not become a different person. I could buy a largescreen TV because I can afford it, but I won’t buy three because I can afford it,” he said. However, he did buy an apartment for each of his three children, paid off the debts of his relatives, and is planning to travel to Italy.

Mazal Tov Times Three—No, Times Four! Having a baby is a time of excitement and exhilaration. But most people don’t get the surprise of their lives when they bring their children into the world. This week, Kimberly Fugate and her husband received extra special news when she delivered her identical triplets. After three infants were delivered via C-section, the new mom, exhausted after an intensive labor and grueling cesarean section delivery of identical triplets, was ready to breathe a sigh of relief, but the Mississippi mother’s doctor had a surprise for her. “They had got the three out and they said, ‘More feet,’” the elated mom said. “‘More feet’ ... that’s all I heard and I said, ‘Nooo!’” Unbelievably, a fourth identical quadruplet was somehow missed by numerous ultrasounds and managed to hide her existence until she popped out behind her three identical sisters. “It’s one surprise after another,” Fugate said.

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Rand vs. Obama: A Lawsuit, Not an Election

Hey 99 Percenters, Count Your Blessings

pennies netted him more than just a few minutes of happiness. He ended up winning $2.7 million dollars. The lucky man kept his winnings private until he made a large donation to a hostel for the homeless this month.


Spars” and a movie musical of the same name, landing a guest spot on Milton Berle’s weekly TV show. Comedian Billy Crystal related that Caesar was “the greatest sketch comedian of all time” and “my first comedy hero and “inspiration.” “All those who want to be funny should study his work,” Crystal added.   


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Speedcuber Solves a Rubik’s in Record Time

The Fugate four, named Kenleigh Rosa, Kristen Sue, Kayleigh Pearl and Kelsey Roxanne after family members, arrived three months earlier than expected, and just a day before their mother’s 42nd birthday. Thankfully, all four are currently doing well in neonatal intensive care after being born nearly 13 weeks premature. The girls will need to remain in observation, but Kimberly says she hopes to have them out by early May, on their original due date. “I haven’t been able to hold them yet,” Fugate said. “It will be very exciting to get to take them home and love them.” These are not the first daughters for the Fugates. They have a 10-year-old daughter, Katelyn, at home. No doubt the proud dad feels really outnumbered right now.

Have you ever tried to do solve a Rubik’s Cube? I have and I am not embarrassed to say that after a few minutes of trying, I gave up. It was just too hard.

But now Kevin Hays is showing off and making me feel really dumb. You see, this 19-year-old can not only solve a Rubik’s Cube—he can do it really fast and with aplomb. The “speedcuber” from Renton, Washington, wowed viewers by completing six increasingly complex cubes in just

6 minutes and 23 seconds, smashing the previous world record by a good 30 seconds. He starts off with a simple 2x2 cube, moves on to the traditional 3x3 cube, and then goes crazy by plowing through a 4x4, 5x5, 6x6, and the impossibly complicated 7x7 cube. All without breaking a sweat. Or a finger. It’s not the first record for the renowned speedcuber. In August, Hays solved a 6x6 cube in record time. He’s been at it since his freshman year in high school, though it’s not just tons of practice that’s turned him into a champ. It’s serious brainpower. “There isn’t really a secret to my success, but the advanced method for solving Rubik’s Cubes does involve knowing a large number of algorithms,” he said at the time. “I know about 120 different algorithms for different potential patterns that can occur during a solve.” That makes me feel really dumb.

tional Geographic‘s reality show Snake Salvation, died last week of a venomous snake bite. He starred on Snake Salvation alongside Tennessee Pastor Andrew Hamblin, both of whom claim serpent handling is their First Amendment religious right. Coots believed that one can handle venomous snakes without concern, so long as G-d doesn’t want the snake to bite you. The pair has come under fire from authorities for hunting and collecting deadly snakes for their church services.

Snake Pastor Dies of Snake Bite

Last year, Coots pled guilty to illegally possessing and transporting three rattlesnakes and two copperheads in Tennessee after the state seized them in a traffic stop as he was driving them from Alabama to Kentucky.

Jamie Coots, one of the stars of Na-




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According to reports, Coots was bitten in Middlesboro, Kentucky, but refused medical attention. He then went home and emergency officials arrived at his house to convince him to get treatment. He refused and one hour later he was found dead. Coots had previously been bitten nine times and lost a finger to a rattlesnake bite. Maybe he should have taken G-d’s hint and chosen a different profession.

Man Risks Life to Save Cherished Possession from Blaze

An unidentified man awoke in the early hours of Friday morning last week to find his home in Olathe, Kansas, engulfed in flames. He quickly ran out of the property and onto the street. But then he realized that a cherished possession was trapped in the home: his Xbox. Undeterred by the huge blaze, the hero (if you are an Xbox freak as well) or moron (if you are a normal person) ran back inside the house to save his gaming device from the growing flames. Olathe fire officials said the man suffered smoke inhalation from running back inside to collect the Xbox. Amazingly, paramedics who attended the scene said he did not sustain any serious injuries. The blaze caused $80,000 worth of damage to the building, according to ABC News 15. An electrical junction box is believed to be the cause of the fire, authorities have said. Talk about answering the Call of Duty!

One Couple’s Key to a Happy Marriage

Joe and Helen Hesketh are pen pals— really steady pen pals. In fact, over the past 40 years, they have written love letters to each other every day. Fortunately, they did not have to spend any money on the U.S. Postal Service. These letter writers, who

have exchanged more than 29,000 letters between them, also happen to be married. In an interview with the Palm Beach Post, the 81-year-old Seattle couple explained how this began. In 1974, their marriage was on the rocks. They went to a weekend marriage retreat where they were given a tip to write each other nice notes. They liked the idea and implemented in. “[The letters] are one page in a notebook and always start with a prayer of some sort,” Joe said. “Then I look to tell Helen something special I noticed about her today and she does the same.” “When we write, he can’t interrupt me,” Helen said. “When it’s written, you can’t erase it. How I’m feeling and everything I’m thinking about, it’s right there.” The couple will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in June. “Marriage is a lifelong process,” Joe said. “We’re still working on it.” Okay, let’s all say it together: “Ohhhh, so sweet.”

“You’ve put me in [a bad place] ... and I won’t manage to survive that long. You are killing me,” he wrote in a letter to prison authorities in November. “If I die, all of Europe’s right-wing extremists will know exactly who it was that tortured me to death. That could have consequences for certain individuals in the short term but also when Norway is once again ruled by a fascist regime in 13 to 40 years from now.” He added, “The hunger strike won’t end until the Minister of Justice … and the head of the KDI (the Norwegian Correctional Services) stop treating me worse than an animal.” I guess that in line with the liberal justice system of Norway, the mass murderer of 77 people has a point.

911, What’s the Emergency?

Mass Murderer on Hunger Strike for Better Video Games

On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik bombed a government building in Oslo, killing eight people. He then killed 69 more people, mostly teenagers, in a mass shooting at a Workers’ Youth League  camp on the island of Utoya. In line with Norway’s tradition of liberal justice, Breivik was sentenced in 2012 to the maximum 21 years in prison, subject to extension in five-year increments. But the mass murderer has a number of serious demands and is willing to go on a hunger strike if the authorities don’t address them. He is demanding a computer to replace his “worthless” typewriter; he wants a new PlayStation 3 to replace his outdated PlayStation 2 console; he wants access to “more adult games” that he himself would select; and, he also requested a sofa to replace the “painful” chair in his cell. “Other inmates have access to adult games while I only have the right to play less interesting kids’ games. One example is ‘Rayman Revolution,’ a game aimed at three-year-olds,” the 35-year-old convicted killer demanded.

An Oregon man had a “serious” emergency so he prudently called 911. The emergency? His wife’s jacket zipper was stuck. According to fire department officials, when the 911 operator picked up the call and asked what the emergency was, the man said: “Yeah, we got a problem here. My wife is struggling in her jacket and can’t get it off. I want 911 here immediately.” “Is she not breathing?” the operator asked. “She’s alright! She just can’t get her … jacket off!” the man raged. The fire department eventually “zipped” over and freed the woman from her jacket. Talk about enabling lunatics.

A Warm Message in the Cold Snow In middle of a cold spell in Chicago, hearts were warmed by a mysterious message which was drawn in the snow that piled on the massive parking deck rooftop of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. The message said in large letters: “HI MOM GOD BLESS U.” The message could be seen from 70 to 80 hospital rooms, across four floors covering the oncology, surgical and intensive

care units. Pictures of the message quickly went viral, although it was unknown who wrote it and who the intended recipient of the message was.

Eventually, the hearty culprits came forward. They were Will Hart, age 14, who was assisted by his dad, Tim. The love note was intended for Sharon Hart who was hospitalized for acute leukemia last week. Will thought of the idea in order to lift his mother’s spirits.

Man Finds a Night’s Rest in an Unlikely Place

James Turner of Portland, Oregon, simply needed a place to sleep last week. He found an unlocked car and fell into a deep slumber in the back seat. But when he awoke in the morning, he was unable to unlock the door and exit the vehicle. In an attempt to summon assistance, Turner wrote “Help” with his finger in the condensation on a window of the car. He also damaged the car in his struggle to get out. Amazingly, Turner didn’t get any assistance until the car owners showed up and heard someone yelling from the backseat of the car. So, why was he unable to get the door open? Well, the vehicle he chose to slumber in was a Southeast Precinct police car; the rear doors of the vehicle cannot be opened from the inside. Turner was unable to get to the front of the police car because of the glass partition. It was only when police showed up in the morning that they heard the commotion coming from the police car lot. They quickly rescued the 30-year-old and gave him better accommodations: a jail cell. If I were the judge I would give him the option of pleading guilty, not-guilty or “simply stupid.”

Avi Heiligman

Spying for Israel During the Six Day War


ntil the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in 1979, Egypt was the major power behind the Arab efforts in the Israeli wars. Providing manpower along with the latest Russian military technology, Egypt had to be kept “at bay” by the Israelis. After the Sinai Campaign in 1956, Israel real-

Sinai Campaign of 1956, Lotz attained the rank of major and commanded an infantry brigade. Soon he was noticed by A’man, the intelligence branch of the Israeli military. Lotz’s cover story before he was sent to Egypt was that he was a former Nazi officer who served in the Afrika Corps and spent years after WWII in Australia breeding horses. Ostensibly, he was returning to the Middle East to establish a riding club. In 1960, Lotz arrived in Cairo and immediately began recruiting high-ranking Egyptian officers and learned many enemy secrets. For five years, the spy uncovered the secret lives of several key people living in Egypt including former German scientists and discovered several missile sites. All of Wolfgang Lotz spied for Israel for five years, this information was pretending to be a former Nazi passed onto the Israeized that having spies and undercover lis. In 1965, Lotz was arrested and was agents would provide vital intelligence sentenced to life imprisonment. He was on their dangerous and sometimes un- released in 1968 after the Six Day War predictable neighbor. Many of these in a prisoner exchange. The information heroes—some were Jewish but several that he sent to Israel was vital for the Iswere Arabs—were handled by differ- raeli Air Force during the opening strike ent agencies in the Israeli intelligence of the war. and only a few are remembered today. Another agent that partied with the These people were the reason, along Egyptian high and mighty was Anwar with yad Hashem, that Israel was able Ephraim. He received word that the to crush the Egyptian Air Force, as well IAF (Israeli Air Force) was preparing as much of the Egyptian military, into to strike on June 5 and took the liberoblivion in the first three hours of the ty to invite the elite Egyptian pilots at 1967 Six Day War. the Inchas Air Base near Alexandria to Possibly the most famous spy in Is- a lavish party with every thrill imagraeli history is Eli Cohen. He penetrated inable. The party started twelve hours the diplomacy in Damascus and gained before the war commenced and these valuable intelligence for the upcoming pilots were in no condition to man their war against the Syrians. If there is such planes that were soon shot to pieces on a person that was to be his counterpart the ground by the intrepid IAF pilots. in Cairo then Wolfgang Lotz fits the Ephraim escaped moments before the description. Lotz’s mother was Jewish, first bombs landed on the base and left and after anti-Jewish laws were passed Egypt undetected. in 1933, they moved to Israel. He There was a major naval base in Aljoined the British Army during WWII exandria that was the target of an Israeas a translator and later became an arms li commando raid the first night of the smuggler for the Haganah. During the war. While the raid itself did not achieve

its intended objective, the commandos could convince the entire Arab world were supplied with surprisingly accu- and Russia that the U.S. and Britain rate information on the Egyptian naval had participated. In a conversation with capabilities in the region. A’man and the King Hussein of Jordan to announce Mossad were responsible for obtaining that American and British planes from this information, and one of their prin- aircraft carriers had bombed Egypt and cipal agents was Baruch Na’ul. It took the other belligerents, his words were years to put the network in place, and overheard. Two veteran radio operaas war became evident, the Egyptians tors picked up the message with antibecame suspicious when a woman who quated equipment leftover from WWII. was famous in the high-societal life in Their superior said, “Make four copies Egypt was found dead. It is believed of the tape. It’s worth millions.” At that she was murdered when she was first, A’man did not want to hand over about to expose Na’ul and the extensive the tapes because they feared that their network therefore placing the entire war methods would be compromised. However, after angry mobs burned down the in jeopardy. The biggest break for Israeli intel- U.S. consulate in Cairo, Defense Minisligence came straight from inside the ter Moshe Dayan ordered the tapes to be Egyptian military. Known to the press released. Immediately, the riots stopped as just “Captain X” and in some cir- and as historian Samuel Katz writes, cles as “Suleiman,” his real identity has “The Arabs had been caught with their been kept secret. The man was a radio hands in the cookie jar.” This incident communications expert and a respected created a rift between Egypt and Jordan. officer and was unhappy with the corruption in Egypt and strongly disliked of President Gamal Nasser. In a major break for the Israelis, an agent overheard him talking about his distaste for Egypt and recruited him for secret operations. Suleiman was convinced to spy for Israel over a bottle of arak and was trained to send special signals when the Egyptian Army The Egyptian air fields were decimated when pilots were too drunk to even take to the skies, was about to mobilize in thanks to Anwar Ephraim’s intelligence the Sinai. Three weeks prior to the outbreak of The spies and agents that penetrated war, his handlers heard from him and they knew that something big was com- Arab countries, in particular the Egyping. From that day until three days into tian military infrastructure, were vital the battle, Suleiman was the eyes and to the swift Israeli victory during the ears of Israeli intelligence. Unfortunate- Six Day War. As with spies throughout ly, intelligence could not tell advancing history, many were captured or killed Israeli units where a particular spy was and few were given the credit that was and IAF aircraft bombed his position. earned by being the valiant heroes beA squad from Sayeret Matkal was sent hind enemy lines. to retrieve his body, and the Israeli spy was buried in Israel. Some of the most valuable intelli- Avi Heiligman is a weekly contributor to gence during the war came from phone The Jewish Home. He welcomes your comand radio intercepts. After the Egyp- ments and suggestions.for future columns tian military was routed, Nasser hoped and can be reached at aviheiligman@ that by twisting the facts of the war he gmail.com.


Forgotten Heroes

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Traditional gesture, movement, and alignment in Jewish prayer: How yoga helps me to daven with more intention By Kim Kinneret Dubowitz, edited by Tracy Seider Kinneret Dubowitz, of kinneretyogatraining.com, is a religious Jewish girl from Toronto who loves yoga, teaches yoga, and trains other Jewish women around the world to teach yoga. Within Jewish prayer (or davening, in Hebrew) there are movement meditations, which – when done with mindfulness and intention – can lead a person to a transformative consciousness, where one learns to stand in the presence of one’s Creator. Through my yoga practice I have learned how to align my body in such a way that when performing these traditional movements during the important Shemonei Esrei prayer (the 18 benedictions), the entrance and exit to this holy time of speaking to our Creator is filled with a deep and moving moment. This deepening has shed light on what is known as the silent prayer. The intention of these movements or gestures are not to serve the self but to serve the Creator of the world. Let’s explore these movements and explain how, through body awareness and healthy alignment, I have gained more out of traditional Jewish prayer. Three steps back; three steps for-

ward Before we begin the Shemonei Esrei prayer we are required to take three steps backwards and then three steps forwards. The backward steps are traditionally understood to be the steps one takes out of the mundane, and the forward steps are those taken into holiness. This gestural walk, which starts Shemonei Esrei, takes us out of real time and space and enters us into G-d’s time and space. I have learned from yoga that there is a way to stand and walk that results in a perfect distribution of weight across the feet. This important alignment allows the spine to extend tall and the lungs to breathe deep. When one completes this walk mindfully and takes the three steps forwards into the equivalent of the mountain pose to begin the prayer (which parallels the recommended movement stance of the Shemonei Esrei – that is, two feet together, standing tall), there is a moment of standing centered, with mind and body ready to meet Hashem. Traditionally, Judaism teaches that when the two feet are together it is as though the two legs become one leg and

that, just like the angels (malachim) who have only one will (to serve G-d), we too stand in this silent prayer with one purpose (to serve G-d). The mountain pose in yoga places the body in the perfect midline or center of gravity. The body has found its place where there is no fight or struggle, and when it aligns there it feels strong, free, and open. Now we are ready to begin a conversation with our Creator. Bowing Another beautiful movement gesture within the Shemonei Esrei which encompasses the silent relationship between the Jew and G-d are those times during the prayer when we combine words with the movements of our joints. Traditional Jewish prayer teaches us to bend our knees as we say the word “Baruch” (Blessed). We then bow forward with a bend of the spine as we say “Ata” (You – meaning G-d). Lastly, we straighten the spine back to standing as we say the word “Hashem” (we are not allowed to write in this context the actual name of G-d used in this prayer). There is a traditional Jewish idea that when we bow and bend the spine we are coming down like a snake; but when we come back up to standing we are like a staff. This is an allusion to the idea that we are rectifying the unhealthy “snaky” part of ourselves or the part of ourselves, like the snake in the Garden of Eden, which makes choices that may not lead us on the best path. I have learned from yoga that the spine has five movements, the most difficult of which is the movement of the spine that extends up (called axial extension). It is difficult because one has to do it consciously, otherwise the spine will naturally round and fall. Just like we need to work on fighting gravity and lengthening our spine, so too we need to work on rectifying our “inner snake.” As we do this gesture, we remind ourselves that we need to turn to G-d and ask for guidance. When we lift the spine in yoga we are informing our bodies; when we lift the spine in the Shemonei Esrei we are informing our souls. The Kedusha Another movement in the Shemonei Esrei is that of Kedusha, where we bounce on the balls of our feet three times as we hear the words “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh” (Holy, Holy, Holy), and complete the verse with “The Lord of Hosts, The entire world is filled with His Glory.” Jewish tradition teaches us that we do this gesture as though we are lifting ourselves towards Heaven, similar to one who raises their eyes heavenward. The

name of our forefather Jacob (Yaakov) is derived from the Hebrew word “heel,” as Jacob was born holding on to the heel of his twin brother, Esav. This connotes one that has a lowly or subservient nature. However, after Yaakov struggles with and triumphs over the angel, he is referred to as Yisrael (Israel), which connotes “head” or “exalted one.” Therefore, in Judaism, we learn that the heel connects us to this world and the head connects us to the world above time and space. In yoga we use the heel to ground our bodies and to find a deeper sense of stability; but when we lift our heels off the ground we challenge our balance. Balancing poses usually elicit two reactions: frustration when we fall; and pride when we don’t fall. Both reactions, however, are manifestations of the ego. The work in yoga is to learn to put aside our ego and cultivate a sense of presence to what is. In Judaism, when we lift our eyes heavenward – or in this case, the heels – our gesture reminds us to turn our life towards G-d and to become present to the fact that all aspects of our life are in the hands of our Creator. Sometimes we stand stable and become attached to how everything is going so well. Then suddenly we fall, and this can make us frustrated because we feel unstable. But when we lift our eyes towards G-d, when we lift our heels towards G-d, we transform our frustration into elevation. We understand that the entire world is filled with G-d’s glory. In yoga we usually try to practice a pose three times: the first time is challenging but the easiest of all; the second time is harder; and by the third time we don’t want to do it again, but we push ourselves to meet the challenge. In Kedusha we learn that for each of the three times we raise our heels we are ascending up to a higher level of soul. We must strive towards this ascension even though sometimes we don’t want these challenges. We must strive towards continuously getting higher. When we come back down, we ultimately land on our heels. Judaism teaches us that we need to bring our holiness back into the world. In Judaism, our ultimate goal is not about leaving the world for a higher consciousness, but about transforming the world within nature to build a better world – “Tikkun Olam” (the fixing of the world). When we have completed the Shemonei Esrei we take three steps back again and re-enter the world ready to face life’s challenges and turn the snakes into staffs – and like the miracle our leader Moses showed us, we create the possible out of the seemingly impossible.


By Roger Marks, LUTCF, Certified Enrolling Agent for Covered California

By Ilana Muhlstein, R.D.

For the second time in a year, the White House announced that it will postpone the enforcement of federal requirements for medium-size employers to provide health insurance to employees. Employers with between 51 and 99 employees, will now have until 2016 to provide health insurance for all their employees. This is two years longer than the original law was written for. This change has not only implications for employers who are glad of change, but for consumers of health insurance plans both in the group market and the individual market. Immediate reactions The change, instantly brought widespread condemnation and ridicule from detractors of the law. Detractors immediately labeled the change a violation of the US Constitution and that it was illegal for the president to rule by “fiat”. It is yet another example of the failure of the law and the inability of the government to take over health care. Supporters of the law merely say it is part of the ‘ongoing’ process of implementation of the law. Supporters maintain that the requirements were viewed as a tax by the U.S. Treasury, therefore it is permitted under law. Rate Increases to Come In real terms for the average consumer, this change begins a spiral that will likely mean higher prices for health insurance for both individuals and groups. Without the additional premium generated by the group requirement, the insurers already are asking for money to bail out projected losses. In early January of 2014, the CEO of Aetna said he would ask for a federal bailout or would

withdraw from the marketplace. Prior to that, in early December, the White House was making plans for insurance company bailouts. Critics claim that the White House knew that they would not meet the projected goals. The “Bailout Provision” is a provision written into the law. Anthem Blue Cross foresees raising rates as much as 25% in the coming year. Forbes reports that Humana will ask for $450 million in bailout money. Other insurers are soon to follow if the bailout to Aetna is granted. New Insureds The primary issue is that those who have never had insurance are not going to get put on the health insurance rolls and it will not pay for the ongoing claims for those who are signing up for coverage. This is one reason why we are seeing a nonstop barrage of ads out of the White House to urge neighbors and families to sign up for care. The White House recently placed an ad in the satire website The Onion, used celebrities to promote enrollement, and even wrote ad copy for the NFL to use on Twitter. Is it good government or desperation? Right now, with the prospect of looming double digit rate increases, it would seem the latter. Roger Marks is an insurance professional and has been specializing in Health Insurance Underwriting for 25 years. He works in Valley Village. To ask Roger a question you may email him at rogermarks@roadrunner.com or call his office at 818-985-PLAN (818-9857526)

As you start planning your “Candy Land”-themed Purim baskets, I want you to consider what this mitzvah of Mishloach Manot is all about. In order to fulfill this mitzvah, one simply has to deliver two food items to at least one person to ensure that they will have enough food for their Purim seudah. Another goal of this mitzvah is to strengthen the bonds among friends, family members, and fellow Jews. When incorporating these two missions of the mitzvah - to provide food for a meal and to show your care and love to a friendit becomes increasingly difficult to justify packing your mishloach manot baskets with excessive amounts of junk food and candy. I am going to show you several reasons why this year for Purim you should choose healthier foods for your mishloach manot baskets. For starters, we eat what we see. Marketers have long been utilizing this concept to place more foods in our eyesight because they know it increases the likelihood we will consume their products. If you bring an abundance of junk food into your shopping cart, car and home, the likelihood of you and your family eating those foods increases exponentially. Consider the consequences of choosing sugar-filled candy for your mishloach manot basket, over more natural alterna-

tives. Refined sugar promotes inflammation and fuels serious problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer. Additionally, sugar is proven to be an addictive substance, stimulating the reward regions of our brain similar to illegal drugs. Rather than enforcing unhealthy, addictive habits for your friends and family, add some beautiful fruit to your basket. Fresh fruit, such as tangerines and grapes, act as a sweet component to any mishloach manot basket and adds colors and aromas that will further enhance your basket presentation. Studies also show that people routinely purchase less nutritional food for other people than they would buy for themselves. Don’t assume that people want to be eating junk food, or want to feed their kids the same. I think most moms would agree that they try to feed their kids as healthily as they can. I strongly recommend including healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds into your basket this year and reconsider the sugary drinks and snacks. This is the only way to truly fulfill the mitzvah, because it not only provides wholesome foods a person can enjoy at a meal, but it also shows your loved ones that you care and value them and their well-being. 2014 Mishloach Manot Theme Ideas “Going Green” Kale, avocado, green apples and edamame all placed in a recyclable shopping tote “Spring harvest” Gather vibrant spring produce like asparagus, beets, carrots, lemons and turnips and place them in a planter’s pot. Include sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds to further the theme. “Runyon Canyon” Include a water bottle, raw almonds and walnuts, a banana, sunglasses and pack it all up in a cute fanny pack “Spa Getaway” Lavender sprigs, soothing CD, eye mask, bath salts, cucumber and lemon- infused water in a mason jar, grapes, flaxseeds, and steel cut oatmeal Ilana Muhlstein, R.D., is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Private Practice in Los Angeles. She also works at UCLA where she meets with patients and leads a weekly seminar on weight loss and health promotion. ilanamuhlstein.com

FEBRUARY 20, 2014

Misloach Manot: Giving the Gift of Health


Obamacare: Bailouts and Rate Increases


FEBRUARY 20, 2014


Beverly Hills Thai While I’m no expert at Thai cuisine, I am well versed in good food. If you would have asked me last week to give a few examples of Thai food I would have failed. However, since I began writing this article I got bombarded with people asking me to review Beverly Hills Thai so, in preparation for my visit I turned to Facebook and asked the wise LA Mommies what they preferred. Pad thai, drunken noodles, chicken satay, and Crying Tiger beef all came up as favorites. The quaint eatery at 9036 Burton Way in Beverly Hills has both booth seating and narrow tables, dim lighting, and a warm atmosphere. We began our meal with Tom Kah and Wonton Soup. Tom Kah is traditional coconut soup with galangal roots, tofu pieces, and lime juice. It has a very unique and strongly citrus flavor mixed in with the savory familiarity of tofu. I learned that this balance is a quintessentially Thai quality; the goal of each dish is to balance 3 or 4 elements of taste: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. I enjoyed the Wonton Soup partially because I’m familiar with this

dish from the ubiquitous Kosher Chinese restaurants and because it’s delicious. It’s like the Wonton Soup you’ve enjoyed elsewhere but the taste is sweeter, milder, and in my opinion better. One of the “2 Dishes” I recommend is the Chicken Satay appetizer. It’s grilled chicken breast on a stick moistly marinated with sweet and lemony flavors. The peanut sauce is fantastic and completes the chicken with each dip, I think they should sell the peanut sauce separately because it can enhance many beef and poultry dishes. I’m a fan of almost anything on a stick, and Chicken Satay is fabulous. Crying Tiger Beef came up from my social media friends over and over and I can see why: it’s small strips of steak told with light veggies and a lime-garlic dressing. Tangy and filling. The second dish I recommend is the Drunken Chicken. This is a very unique dish because the bulk of it is made up of homemade rice noodles. They are thick and meaty and sautéed with silky chicken, peppers, and onions. It meets the Thai goal of a savory-sweet balance and

will leave you satiated. I really enjoyed the uncommon beverages including Thai Limeade, Thai Iced Tea and Thai Coffee. The limeade is very flavorful and its best enjoyed with extra ice and water (thanks for the tip Chavi Shapiro!) and the tea is from special leaves that can only be found in Thailand and is sweetened and mixed with coconut water. A nice change from diet Coke and twice as refreshing. If you still have room for dessert, you will not be disappointed with the Mango Rice. I know what you’re thinking- um, mango and rice? Does that go together? Oh yes, in the most delightful way. It’s difficult to describe the lovely flavor of the rice, but it’s most similar to a homemade rice pudding your grandmother (not my grandmother, she was into Tab soda) may have made. Very sweet with juicy, ripe mango arranged neatly around the sides. Incredible. Honest, slight, and gentle, Thai native Melvin Supann and his gracious wife Omni are unlikely owners of a Kosher restaurant. Melvin candidly explains that Omni’s family has been in the

Thai restaurant business since the 1960s, so they naturally gravitated towards opening their own place. After two and a half years the restaurant was a bust, likely because in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills “every 2 blocks is another Thai restaurant” and Supann’s place did not stand out from the crowd. Melvin and Omni have several Jewish friends who encouraged them to reopen the restaurant as a Kosher place. They proceeded carefully studying Kosher laws and fiddling with recipes to adjust to Kosher restrictions on treif ingredients. Melvin explains that Thai lends itself very well to Kosher because no milk is used, only coconut milk. But, there is a signature ingredient that Supann still has not found in a Kosher version: fish sauce. Authentic fish sauce found in Asian dishes is complicated to make and is made from fermented fish bones. Also, under many Kosher Hashgachas fish and meat are never mixed, so even if they did source Kosher fish sauce, they wouldn’t be able to mix it into beef dishes. However, with trial and error Melvin and Omni found that the flavor could be replicated using certain fruits and salt. With the faux fish sauce under control, and after six months of research, they reopened the restaurant as Beverly Hills Kosher Thai. It has been two years and the Supanns are grateful that the community has been so supportive. They estimate that about 90% of their customers are Jewish and do a lot of take out and deliveries around the neighborhood. They also have many standing erev Shabbos orders for those who want unusual treats for their Friday night guests. For more information or for reservations please call 310-288-4321 or visit www.beverlyhillsthai.com. Estee Cohen is a California native and goes out to eat more than is appropriate. She is a kosher food insider, has a patient husband and 3 little kids.  She is passionate about restaurants, science education, and collects rooster figurines.  




FEBRUARY 20, 2014





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