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The Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Kaspare Cohn Hospital, Angelino Heights, 1902

THE GENERATION OF JEWS WHO LEFT EGYPT GAINED THEIR FREEDOM. JEWISH PHYSICIANS IN OUR GENERATION DID THE SAME. Cedars-Sinai dates back to a tiny house in Angelino Heights more than 100 years ago, where it cared for the sick and needy in our Jewish community. It grew because of the community’s need—and because Jewish physicians weren’t allowed to practice at most of the city’s other hospitals. This same prejudice resulted in the creation of Jewish medical centers across the country. With messages of equality, compassion and excellence, a limited number still exist today. The fight for Jewish physicians to practice medicine freely has been won. Now, we devote ourselves to the fight against disease and the challenges of keeping our communities healthy. This Passover, Cedars-Sinai wishes you a happy, healthy and meaningful celebration of what it means to be free.



The Week In News



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

JEWISH THOUGHT Shabbos Hagadol - Do You Have a Father?. . . . . . 20 The Most Difficult Part of the Seder. . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 The Chosen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 In the Merit of the Righteous Women of the Exodus, the Israelites were Redeemed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Dating Favorably. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

FEATURE Yetzias Mitzrayim 2.0. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

LIFESTYLES Book Review - A Malach in Our Midst. . . . . . . . . . . 34 Dr. T.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Memoirs Of A Forgotten Rabbi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Notable Quotes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Ask the Attorney. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46


Global. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38




APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Dear Readers, L’shana haba’a b’yerushalayim - next year in Jerusalem! Every year Jews in every corner of the world announce this wish at the end of the seder. In fact, we’ve been doing so for the past two thousand years. Picture a yid in Spain in the time of the Inquisition, a yid in the time of the pogroms, or a yid in one of the ghettos saying these words and fervently praying and hoping that maybe, just maybe, next year in Jerusalem. Where does this faith come from? Truth is, it’s the same now. In a general sense we have been successful both materially and spiritually. Things are pretty good. In fact, in a few weeks we will celebrate the miracles of the Six Day War, the liberation of the Western Wall, and we can even hop on a plane to see Jerusalem for real! So why do we feel this isn’t the real deal and still say these words yearning for the Messianic times? Why aren’t we satisfied with the great developments taking place all around us, as if we’re not complete while in golus? The answer lies with the soul. The Jewish soul will not rest and is not at peace till its G-dly spirit is tangible and can be seen. It’s this uneasiness which keeps us ultimately dissatisfied with the status quo. In our minds we might find this or that reason, but at the core we’re unsettled because we’re not at peace with our current reality. True freedom is when the soul can be its natural self. Recognizing this saves us the time looking for temporary fixes to cover this emptiness. It also empowers us with the energy needed to infuse our physical lives with G-dliness through learning Torah, doing mitzvos and many acts of goodness and kindness. This week Friday, Yud Aleph Nissan, is the 115th anniversary of the birth of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the outspoken Jewish leader on the need for the geulah shleimah, the ultimate redemption. He was a catalyst for the previous century’s worldwide baal teshuvah movement, viewing it as the fulfillment of Maimonides’ halachic ruling that the yidden would do teshuvah right before the geulah and implored each and every Jew to view their very next deed as the one tipping the scales for good. May we be the ones who finally experience the dream of our parents and grandparents going all the way back to the beginning of time; (by) next year, we should all be in Jerusalem! Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos Hagadol and Chag Hapesach kasher v’sameach,


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

TheHappenings Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

International Chidon Mitzvos Hosts Over a Thousand Girls and Boys in NY Bracha Miriam Turner The Chidon Mitzvos is an international competition in which children are responsible for knowing the details of the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. On two separate weekends in the latter half of March, boys and girls flew into New York to be tested and to subsequently compete against one another in a grand finale. Fourth to eighth graders each focus on different segments of the Sefer Hamitzvos. Hence, a child who participates in the program for five consecutive years will have learned all the mitzvos of the Torah, even ones not applicable today. Qualified participants who score an average of 70% on three tests qualified to fly into New York for a shabbaton, and the top students in each class represented their school in a competition “game show” against one another. The competition was established 25 years ago to fulfill the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s request from his followers to learn Rambam every day. The Rambam is the only compilation which includes the entire Torah; therefore, a person who studies it daily over the course of one to three years has acquired great breadth of Torah knowledge. The goal of the Chidon is to instill the foundation for the daily study of the Rambam, thereby enhancing their future learning. During the course of the shabbaton, the students participated in a trip to the Rebbe’s Ohel, they got an opportunity to recite tehillim in the Rebbe’s private study at his home, and they were treated with other attractions in New York such as boating and ice skating. “The Shabbat meal was remarkable,” explained Rabbi

Sholom Heidingsfeld, who coordinated the program for Cheder Menachem. “The energy in the room with over 500 kids and their counselors singing and dancing together

Taking the final test

Contestants who received at least 85% being awarded a medal

On one of the trips

Yechezkel Binstock of LA receiving a bronze medal

Winners of the game show

was full of chayus (energy).” The participants of the grand finale of the contest were separated into teams who compete against each other to answer extremely difficult questions at the hit of a buzzer – questions such as “name all the mitzvos in the book you learned which have to do with hair,” “name all the mitzvos in your book which are connected to the beis hamikdash.” The children demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the mitzvos, which many adults are not necessarily aware of. Participants were all individuals who worked for it, studying for hours and hours for six months. The contest has stimulated less motivated students to willingly open a book, and in the meanwhile they acquired new learning habits for life. What was the highlight of the shabbaton? A student from Cheder Menachem answered with glee, “winning the trophy!” Most of the boys and girls from Los Angeles received a plaque, achieving over seventy percent in the finale. Students who excelled beyond this were awarded medals and trophies. The children demonstrated an eagerness for learning and the overall success of alternatives to classroom learning. Ms. Dalfin, who organized the program for the girls’ school, remarked, “You could tell that it was information that they really thought about and that they knew they were going to apply.” The contest encouraged children to think creatively and as a team, and it is certainly something that will stick with them as they grow in their knowledge and the application of it.

List of students from Los Angeles who scored an average of at least 70% on 3 tests Bais Chaya Mushka: Grade 4 Mushka Zaetz - School Representative Nechama Schochet - School Representative Bina Meyers - Contestant Chaya Gordon - Contestant Chaya Haratz - Contestant Chaya Mushka B. Teleshevsky - Contestant Cherna Schmukler - Contestant Menucha Rachel Begun - Contestant Miriam Lazaroff - Contestant Shira Hecht - Contestant Zelda Rochel Schapiro - Contestant Grade 5 Chana Pinson - School Representative Shaina Fischer - School Representative Chaya M. Habibian - Contestant Shaina Chava Levitansky - Contestant Shira Benzaquen - Contestant Simcha Cunin - Contestant Grade 6 Mushka Brook - School Representative Grade 7 Chaya Mushka gurary - School Representative Mushka Newman - School Representative Chana Begun - Contestant Ella Morris - Contestant Malka Bracha Heidingsfeld - Contestant Shaina Mina Wolowik - Contestant Shterna Hecht - Contestant Cheder Menachem: Grade 4 Menachem Mendel Kirschenbaum - School Representative Zalman Leib Belinow - School Representative Chaim Mordechai Aizik Kramer Contestant Getzel Rubashkin- Contestant Meir Yehuda Leibowitz - Contestant Yosef Massoud Wagshul - Contestant Grade 5 Yechezkel Binstok - Contestant Yossi Heidingsfeld - School Representative Aaron Yakov Makhlin - Contestant Avraham Pesach Bart - Contestant Michoel Teitelbaum - Contestant Moshe Aharon Shusterman - Contestant Shneur Zalman Newman - Contestant Yitzchok Wolowik – Contestant Grade 6 Tzvi Shusterman - School Representative Yosef Peretz Cunin- School Representative Avrahom Mordechai Levin - Contestant Levi Y. Cohen - Contestant Menachem Mendel Fischer - Contestant Menachem Mendel Rubashkin – Contestant Grade 7 Shneur Wagner - School Representative Sholom DovBer Cohen School Representative Grade 8 Chaim Hillel korf - School Representative Yechezkel Pinson - School Representative Tzemach Begun - Contestant Tzemach Cohen - Contestant



TheHappenings Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Chesed Fund Breaks 4 Million Dollars Raised in One Year After launching just over a year ago, The Chesed Fund has just passed the milestone of four million dollars raised for charity. The platform’s founder, Avi Kehat, says he never expected the platform to grow so quickly. “I’m just a coder, holding down a full-time job. I devote whatever time I can find each day to programming the site, but this level of success really

caught me by surprise.” The Chesed Fund was created to help charitable causes raise funds from the public without charging the fees commonly associated with these types of platforms. If the average crowdfunding platform charges 5% of the funds raised, then the Chesed Fund has, in effect, saved the causes that used the platform a collective $200,000 in fees.

One of the The Chesed Fund’s biggest clients is Kupat Ha’ir, which uses the platform to raise millions of dollars for chessed cases in Eretz Yisrael. Avi Kohen, who oversees the organization’s marketing, explained the platform’s unique appeal. “When you are raising as much funds as we are, even a small percentage point adds up to a significant amount. We are now able to use those additional funds to



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further assist the families in need.” If The Chesed Fund collects no fees, how does it sustain itself? With the help of donations, explains Kehat. “It’s heartwarming to think that so many people have contributed to The Chesed Fund’s continued success. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, because it effectively saves thousands of dollars to all the other campaigns that run on the platform.” Although The Chesed Fund does not charge any fees for running a campaign, it does offer some premium features. One, “Verified Campaigns,” involves a staff member reaching out to community leaders to make sure the contributions are going to a legitimate cause. “Many people use The Chesed Fund to contribute to causes halfway around the world, because they are touched by the story,” explains Donni Lurman, who runs the account verification program for The Chesed Fund. “At the same time, they want to know that their money is going to a good cause. We use multiple methods to research the validity of a campaign before giving it ‘verified’ status.” According to Lurman, methods include phoning local rabbis, asking for haskamos and supporting medical documents, and more. Several campaigns have been rejected after research conducted into the details of the cause. Despite its overwhelming success, Avi Kehat believes that this is only the beginning. “My vision is to create a centralized platform where everyone can go to give tzedakah. It would be a place that aggregates all the causes under one roof and allows people to easily contribute to the causes that are closest to their hearts.” Based on its current track record, this dream could very soon become a reality.

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



The Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

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APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

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TheHappenings Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Celebrate Israel Festival 2017: “Jerusalem: 50 Years of Reunification” On May 7th at the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, more than 15,000 people are expected to gather at the Celebrate Israel Festival, this year’s theme being “Jerusa-



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lem: 50 Years of Reunification.” There will be a packed lineup of musicians, unique cultural attractions, and creative interactive activities, organized by the Los Angeles chapter of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), the preeminent Israeli-American organization nationwide. The biggest yearly Jewish event in North America, marking the State of Israel’s 69th Independence, will kick off at 10 a.m. with a “Celebrate Israel Walk” with StandWithUS, to show support for Israel. One of the highlights will be the Tiger Squadron formation flyover at 2:15 p.m. kicking off the official ceremony with local dignitaries. Various attractions centered on the theme of Jerusalem will be featured this year, including a virtual exploration of famous landmarks such as the Machane Yehuda shuk, Jerusalem’s famous open market; the Kotel; and the City of David, complete with a 28-foot tall replica of the Tower of David. The tower will house a photo exhibit of Jerusalem, with photos from the 1800s juxtaposed with a current day image of the same. Also in the City of David section will be a jewelry-making project based on the coin that was just found in the City of David. Other arts and crafts will include mosaic pottery, copper work, and making mezuzos. “We will have a Mega Challah Bake, led by Luna Kaduri, a fantastic local Torah teacher. We will also have a Kotel tunnel experience, where you can ‘travel’ to the Old City and put a note in our ‘Kotel’ – those notes will be brought to Israel and taken to the Kotel by the head rabbi,” said Adee Drory of the IAC. “We also have a professional guide from the tunnels who is coming to the festival, an expert in the history of Israel.” Guests will also be able to visit Jerusalem’s famous “Biblical Zoo,” where there will be pony and camel rides, and a giant petting zoo. Celebrate Israel will offer a world market featuring local artists selling their wares, including jewelry, Judaica, paintings and gifts. Throughout the day, participants will be able to dine on a glatt-kosher menu of Israeli cuisine. Tickets are available online now for $10 or $15 after April 21, and $20 at the door. For more information visit: www.

TheHappenings Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Rabbi Ami Cohen Visits L.A. Schools for Hands-On Kashrus Demo Devora Sambrowsky

If the TSA had stopped Rabbi Ami Cohen on his way to Los Angeles last week, they would have been shocked by the contents of his suitcase. Rabbi Cohen specializes in bringing the halachos of kashrus to life with his exciting array of taxidermies, animal skulls, hooves, horns, and skins. Many of L.A.’s schools were lucky to see his legendary presentations, among them Yeshiva Gedola, MBY, the Cheder, Bais Tzivia, Toras Emes, Ohr Eliyahu, Maimonides, and YULA. Rabbi Cohen explained the difference

“Well,” said Rabbi Cohen, “I meant a giraffe.” Students also learned the signs of a kosher fish and kosher bird, and discussed the concept of mesorah. The students thoroughly enjoyed Rabbi Cohen’s dynamic personality, funny stories, and unique props, and attained a greater understanding of simanei kashrus.

‫בס "ד‬





between a chaya (wild animal) and beheima (domesticated animal). “Think of it this way,” said Rabbi Cohen, “A chaya is a New Yorker and a beheima is a Californian.” After clarifying that the signs are the same in both chayos and beheimos, Rabbi Cohen proceeded to demonstrate, using visual aids, what the simanim are. The first sign of a kosher animal is fully split hooves. Rabbi Cohen showed the students cow feet, goat feet, deer feet, and elk feet, pointing out the complete split found in the hooves. He also exhibited feet of non-kosher animals, such as horse hooves. Suspense built up as the students beheld a stuffed skunk, mink, and finally a bearskin. Rabbi Cohen then moved on to the second sign of a kosher animal, ma’ale geirah, or chewing its cud. The students learned that it is possible to determine if an animal chews its cud simply by examining its mouth. If an animal is missing its incisors (front teeth), it is a sure indication that the animal is kosher. The students viewed the skulls of a cow, camel, alpaca, llama, and zebra, checking for incisors in each one. Rabbi Cohen then pulled out various horns, explaining that all kosher animals have two horns, except for one animal that possesses one. “Does anyone know which kosher animal has only one horn?” he asked. “A unicorn!” answered one student.

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TheHappenings Week In News


APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Kollel Chatzos Opens New Boro Park Location Communicated Mazel tov! With joy and celebration, klal yisrael welcomes the newest Kollel Chatzos in the “ir v’eim b’Yisroel,” Boro Park. Situated in the beautiful Ne’imos HaChaim Bais Medrash, comprised of an elite group of hand-picked talmidei chachamim, the Kollel is impressive indeed. The fifth in the Kollel Chatzos network, the Kollel is a reflection of the high caliber of Chatzos Kollelim, worldwide. In honor of the Kollel inauguration, we present an exclusive interview with kollel yungeleit. What inspired you to enroll in this unique “middle-of-the-night kollel?” Reb Meir: For years, I have been thinking that I wish I could find a way to learn at night. During the day, I’m so preoccupied with my responsibilities that I can’t be entirely focused on my learning. In fact, at times, I even wished I had the financial means to pay a chavrusa to keep me company learning throughout the night! So when I heard the Kollel was opening a Boro Park branch, my personal dream was realized. Reb Menachem: After learning the sefer Chok l’Yisrael every day for several years, I have been inspired time and again by the rousing words of the Zohar, describing the greatness of chatzos learning. So I undertook to do what I could; I woke up at three a.m. for my mini-nightlong learning session. I had never thought I could actually be zoche to learn all night – in the company of a chabura of Torah giants, too. But now, thanks to Kollel Chatzos, indeed, zachisi, I have merited to do so… Reb Yaakov: Look – throughout the day, I am a maggid shiur and moreh hora’ah, who paskens shailos. Although I really am osek in harbatzas haTorah, I feel like I don’t have time for my personal Torah learning. I joined the Kollel primarily because I wanted my own learning time; the fact that this learning is happening in the auspicious chatzos hours is a special bonus to me. How did Kollel Chatzos impact you? Reb Meir: My entire family feels like Kollel Chatzos gives us a special status. Reb Menachem: I am living the Chazal,

“Ain simchah k’simchas haTorah.” It’s a true joy! Practically speaking, I try to be available at home more to compensate for the long night hours that my wife is on her own. For example, I started helping my wife send the children to cheder and school. While this schedule was taxing for us all at the beginning, the fact that I am shteiging gives me wife the strength to keep on encouraging me. Reb Yaakov: Since my obligations as maggid shiur and posek have always over-crammed my schedule, I cannot say that Kollel Chatzos has had a great impact on my household’s rhythm… They’re used to having me out of the house! What was your family’s reaction to the fact that you’re joining Kollel Chatzos? Reb Meir: Well, I don’t really run around, broadcasting the news to the olam. People look at it as a little bit…irregular? Interesting? But that’s because they don’t know what Kollel Chatzos means, how it transforms your learning, how it elevates your life… If they would come down and see the Kollel in action, maybe they would understand. Reb Menachem: I never formally told anyone about it. I feel like it’s too heilig… as if speaking about it is a breach of tzniyus… Reb Yaakov: My friends and family give me a lot of credit and chizzuk. Recently, my family had a get-together out of Boro Park, and my father-in-law told me I shouldn’t join [them]… “Better learn at night.” What’s it like to learn all night? Reb Meir: Like m’ein olam haba. You sit and learn for hours on end… There’s no schmoozing, not because there’s a “no schmoozing takana,” but because you’re too involved in the sugya to get sidetracked by small talk. I’ve swwxc been here for several months, and I’ve yet to see the Transportation, Messenger and Delivery Company olam get involved 24 Hour Service Including Erev Shabbos & Motzei Shabbos in a discussion. What I have seen is PUNCTUAL the true meaning of COURTEOUS “ki heim chayeinu RELIABLE HAIMISHE v’orech chayeinu,” how Torah gives life and is life. TCP27136 323-842-3666 Reb MenINFO@HAIMISHEEXPRESS.COM achem: I’m sorry. WWW.HAIMISHEEXPRESS.COM But I cannot possi-

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bly answer your question. I just don’t have the words… It’s a derhoibenkeit that you have to experience to understand… Reb Yaakov: I’ve already learned that “fartugs learning” (early morning learning) has its particular geshmak. I never dreamed that I would experience the “fartugs geshmak” for six consecutive hours! “Matzasi es she’ahava nafshi.” Every moment is pure pleasure. Can you describe the chabura? Reb Meir: It’s a chashuve, esteemed group of exceptional talmidei chachamim, including five distinguished morei hora’ah and several respected marbitzei Torah. The fact that I am surrounded by greatness gives me the strength to continue…

Reb Menachem: Hodu l’Hashem that we possess such an illustrious group of talmidei chachamim. In nigleh, in nistar, their profundity and passion is mora’dig. I’ll give you an example. This past week, we were “handeling” whether we should break for bein hazemanim. And each kollel yungerman individually chose to continue – because Kollel is pleasure and joy and everything good synonymous with vacation. Reb Yaakov: It’s a joy to learn with such an esteemed chabura. The siyata Dishmaya that accompanies Kollel Chatzos in all undertakings is apparent here as well, for a hand-picked group of such exceptional individuals is a rarity. How does it feel to daven on behalf of petitioners every night? Reb Meir: It’s an awe-inspiring responsibility. Many times, I even take these bakashos home with me and continue to daven for these yidden throughout the day. Reb Menachim: I feel like a shaliach tzibur for Klal Yisroel, as if the gates of Heaven have been opened wide for a few hours – and it is up to me to bring back to my brethren yeshuos. Sometimes, it’s hard to hear about the poignant tzaros – and these touch me to feel the tza’ar haShechina, as well. Reb Yaakov: Besides for knowing that I’m davening at an auspicious time, the fact that people have paid money to enable us to learn gives us the strength and right to daven on their behalf. What message would you like to share with Kollel supporters? Reb Meir: Fortunate is your cheilek to share in this heilige chatzos halayla Torah. And don’t just listen to our reports; join us one night and experience the Kollel joy. Reb Menachem: Ashrei chelkechem. I don’t have the words to thank you because this Torah learning that has delighted my life. And as the Zevulun of our partnership, I am certain that you too are reaping the bountiful rewards. Reb Yaakov: May Hashem bentch you. If only you’d appreciate the tremendous value of your investment; of the value of Torah at chatzos, Torah learned with true mesirus nefesh, and Torah learned with joy. Thank you for sharing your time and insights with us. May Hashem continue to give you the strength to learn Torah and provide a nachas ruach to Hashem and yeshuos for klal yisrael.

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News



The Week In News

Legendary make any meal

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

TheHappenings Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Kamatech Sparks an Israeli-Haredi Start-up Revolution in USA Steve Walz Kamatech Accelerator start-up CEO’s pose with, CISCO Executive Chairman, John T. Chambers (center 1st row-4th from left), Zika Abzuk, Cisco Israel’s, Development Manager (right of John Chambers) and Moshe Friedman, CEO of Kamatech (next to Zika), at Kamatech Accelerator Day in San Francisco last week

A neophyte Haredi start-up accelerator in Bnei Brak, Israel, has started to make waves on both sides of the ocean. The Kamatech Accelerator’s CEOs are already attracting interest from Fortune 500 companies. Could the next Mobileye or PayPal actually emerge from the almost-unheard-of Haredi Israeli hi-tech world? Hundreds of potential investors in New York and San Francisco – as well as some of the biggest names in the hi-tech world and the American Jewish community – flocked to Kamatech’s two Demo Days on the East and West Coasts last week. They received exclusive demonstrations from eight nascent start-ups who are part of the Kamatech Accelerator program in Bnei Brak. Kamatech – which is spearheaded by Bnei Brak businessman cum start-up entrepreneur, Moshe Friedman – empowers Haredi entrepreneurs to connect to the hitech and startup ecosystem. Kamatech offers them apprenticeships in leading startup companies and provides supervision by senior experts. When Kamatech (www. started in 2013, there were only five Haredi startups. Today, there over 600, employing thousands of Haredi hi-tech specialists in their different fields of expertise. “We are extremely proud and excited about our start-ups because these talented young people represent the future of the Haredi community and Israel’s renowned start-up nation innovation on a global scale,” boasted Friedman. Adam Neumann, the Israeli-born CEO of the multi-billion-dollar WeWork shared workspace empire, lionized the Kamatech initiative. “To take the great brains of youngsters learning in yeshiva and teaching them how to convert their passion and energy for the hi-tech world is a great cause that I want to be a part of,” he said. During the course of the evening, each start-up CEO was given three minutes to showcase his/her start-up concept to investors. The concepts ranged the gamut of technological innovation including: the creation of an AI (Artificial Intelligence) language, Brillianetor, which enables machines to “speak” with each other; a platform for smart urban life management dubbed Doorbill; a ground-breaking musical program called Muzy that allowed the late Shimon Peres to play Beethoven’s 9th symphony within minutes; and a cutting-edge app called Emerj that will entitle corporations to stem the tide of employees from moving to other companies by engaging them in a more personal manner. According to Friedman, several of the aforementioned start-ups are already at-

tracting considerable attention from Fortune 500 companies who on the verge of signing major contracts with them in the coming weeks.

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Shalhevet’s The Boiling Point takes the Gold Crown Deborah L. Gordon Shalhevet High School’s celebrated newspaper, The Boiling Point, won its fifth consecutive Gold Crown award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CPSA) on March 17th, at the organization’s 93rd annual convention at Columbia University. The Gold Crown is the CSPA’s highest award for excellence in journalism, design, layout, and digital media. “We’ve won dozens of awards over the years in many categories, such as work by individuals, from the three largest national high school journalism organizations, including CPSA, the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), and the Quill and Scroll International Honor Society. The Gold Crown award is for a year’s worth of work. We win it in the ‘Hybrid’ news category, since we publish both online and in print,” said Joelle Keene, The Boiling Point’s dedicated faculty advisor for the past thirteen years. This year, 1100 publications entered the competition for Crown awards. “We were one of 11 high schools in the U.S. to win in the hybrid category this year.” Keene remarked, “Hybrid news is the way of the future; hopefully print will still stick around, and the website is cutting

edge, with all the same values of a newspaper plus all the creativity and imagination that goes into it – videos and polls and slideshows, live updates and so on – and accessible on cellphones around the clock and wherever you are.” Also accompanying the students to the CPSA conference was faculty member Rabbi David Stein, who heads the Talmud department, trains teachers, and has developed a new Talmud curriculum, called the Lahav Project. He works with schools all over the country, and in Israel and Australia, who are implementing the Lahav curriculum. “On the trip, highlights for me were davening with the group at local shuls and hanging out with them on Friday night to chat about journalism, Judaism, and everything in between. We [the Shalhevet staff] all work with student groups, we create a Shabbat experience for them. This trip was a great opportunity for the editorial staff, as a team, to think about what they do as journalists, and how to navigate their leadership role.” Just how to navigate their leadership role has been a big part of what Joelle Keene has been teaching Shalhevet stu-

dents for years; the hardworking students on the BP staff learn to produce every aspect of the newspaper, including layout, graphic design, writing, and photography. Students also choose the print date, interact with the printer, and run the website mostly themselves. “I have made a point of not knowing how to do things on the website so they have to do most of it,” said Keene, adding “what I hope I do do is teach them to think like journalists, write like journalists, and care like journalists – care that it’s right, care that it’s objective, care that it’s comprehensive and balanced and fair, and sometimes important and courageous, too.” The editorial staff meets regularly to discuss articles, and since it is a co-curricular, and not a graded class, the students are by definition self-motivated and highly driven. When asked why the paper wins so many awards, Keene explained, “The Boiling Point doesn’t cover just what’s at school; we cover Israel, Israel-related events, the Jewish world. And we do it


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deeply and consistently and in a lively way that’s fun to read.” For example, the paper covered the 2014 Gaza War with a fourpage pull-out section, two pages of which were dedicated to the halachos of war. “When there’s news we try to connect it with Jews or with local teens.” Shalhevet used to go to the NSPA conference (one of the big three), but stopped going due to its taking place partially on Shabbos. “So in 2013 I started the JSPA (Jewish Scholastic Press Association) which sponsors a three-day conference, with a full shabbaton.” As we were going to press, Mrs. Keene received an email informing her that Shalhevet is a finalist for the NSPA Online Pacemaker award, often called the Pulitzer Prize of scholastic journalism. “This is our second time being a Pacemaker Finalist for our website – like receiving a Silver Crown at CSPA.” The Boiling Point will know next week if they’ve won the prestigious award for the first time.

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From the Fire

Shabbos Hagadol Do You Have a Father? By Rav Moshe Weinberger Adapted for publication by Binyomin Wolf


any of our minhagim at the seder are specifically designed (Rambam, Chometz U’Matza 7:3) “K’dei she’yiru ha’banim v’yish’alu, so that the children should see and ask questions.” The whole purpose of the seder is to reconnect the generations so that the children learn to look at their parents and grandparents as guides to teach them their path in life. The message is clear: “You have a father! You come from somewhere deep and ancient! Turn your heart to your father and carry on his path!” In the modern world, there is no father. He has been killed. In the classic Greek myth of Oedipus Rex, the main character killed his father, the king, so that he could become king. That is the attitude today. One Jewish professor wrote that there are two types of relationships between fathers and sons: “Ani oh ata” or “Ani v’ata,” “Me or you” or “Me and you.” The modern Western world celebrates the individual at the expense of the collective. Therefore, parents attempt to calculate how they can most effectively limit their children’s freedom, while the children plan

and scheme how they can free themselves of their parents and their old, outmoded ways. The Jewish way is that the father should be viewed as the source, the go-to person for the children to learn a way of life. Fathers also attempt to provide a framework in which their children should live, but not for the purpose of enslaving them or ham-

that Rav Kook spoke so often about, “L’hiyot ne’eman l’ha’atzmiut ha’penimut, to believe in one’s own inner essence,” to believe in the Divine spark within them and the great destiny that awaits them. Without a father, without any transmission of the truth of a path in life, there can be no true sense of identity and therefore no freedom.

He leaped to his feet like a lion. He usually had velvety blue eyes, but suddenly his eyes became piercing, searching, and investigating. pering their freedom. Rather, the goal is to bring them into an elevated way of life, to sign them up for the great mission for which our people were appointed. The goal is to liberate them to be who they truly are and fulfill the potential of who they can become. The father’s goal is to implant within his children the faith

That is why the Hagaddah presents cutting one’s self off from tradition, from the Jewish people, as the ultimate heresy, when it says about the wicked son, “Hotzi es atzmo min ha’klal...kafar b’ikar, He removed himself from the community [and thereby] denies a fundamental principle of faith.”

The twentieth yahrtzeit of Rav Yoshe Ber Soliveichik is coming up on the fourth day of Pesach. I was moved to the core by a story from his childhood in Khaslavich which was included in a book, Vision and Leadership. I will quote a few paragraphs which affected me deeply: By sheer association, I recall an experience of my early youth. I was then about seven- or eight-yearsold. I attended cheder in Khaslavich, a small town on the border of White Russia and Russia proper. My father was the rabbi of the town. My teacher was a “Chabadnik,” a follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe[, the Rebbe Rashab]... He taught me how to experience Judaism and not just practice it. The episode that I am about to relate took place on a murky winter day in January. I still remember the day; it was cloudy and overcast. It was after the Chanukah festival, and the Torah portion of the week was Vayigash (Gen. 44:18-47:27). With the end of Chanukah, the little serenity which this festival brought into the monotonous and listless lives of these poor Jews passed...

The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

Holiday The Week Series In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

As far as the boys from the cheder were concerned, a long and desolate winter lay ahead. It was a period in which we had to get up while it was still dark and then return home with lanterns in our hands because nightfall was so early. On that particular day, all the boys were in a depressed mood-listless, lazy and sad. We recited – or I would rather say chanted mechanically – the first sentences of Parshat Vayigash in a dull monotone. We read mechanically: “Then Judah approached him [Joseph] and said: . . . My lord asked his servants saying: ‘Have you a father or brother?’ And we said to my lord: ‘We have an old father, an av zeken, and a young child of his old age, a yeled zekunim’” (44:19-20). Then something strange happened. The melamed, the teacher, who was half asleep while the boy was droning on the words in Yiddish and in Hebrew, suddenly jumped to his feet with a strange, enigmatic gleam in his eyes. He leaped to his feet like a lion. He usually had velvety blue eyes, but suddenly his eyes became piercing, searching, and investigating. He motioned to the reader to stop and turned to me, “Podrabin!” – assistant to the rabbi, as he called me whenever he was excited – “What kind of question did Joseph ask his brothers? ‘Do you have a father?’ Of course they have a father; everybody has a father! The only person who had no father was the first man of creation, Adam. But whoever is born into this world has a father. What kind of question was it?” I tried to answer. “Joseph,” I finally said, “meant to find out whether the father was still alive.” “In such a case,” the melamed thundered back at me, “he should have phrased the question differently: Is your father still alive?” (cf. Gen. 43:24). To argue with the melamed was useless. As he began to speak, he no longer addressed himself to the boys. The impression he gave was that he was


speaking to some mysterious visitor, a guest who had come into the cheder, into that cold room... “Joseph,” the melamed continued with fervor, “was anxious to know whether they felt themselves committed to their roots, to their origins. Are you, Joseph asked the brothers, rooted in your father? Do you look upon him the way the branches or blossoms look upon the roots of the tree? Do you look upon your father as the foundation of your existence? Do you see him as provider and sustainer of your existence? Or are you a band of rootless shepherds who forget their makor, their origin, and wander from place to place, from pasture to pasture?” Suddenly, he stopped addressing himself to the strange visitor and he began to talk to us. Raising his voice, he asked: “Are you modest and humble? Do you admit that the old father represents an old tradition? Do you believe that the father is capable of telling you something new, something exciting, something challenging, something you did not know before? Or are you insolent, arrogant, and vain, denying your dependence upon your father and your makor? “Do you have a father?!” exclaimed the melamed, pointing at my study-mate Yitzik, who was considered the town’s prodigy. The melamed turned to him and said: “What do you say? Who knows more, you or your father the blacksmith who can hardly read Hebrew? Are you proud, Yitzik, of your father?” he asked. Do you feel humble in his presence? Do you have a father?” ... The answer the sons of Jacob gave to Joseph must hold true even today. We are still committed to our “old father,” to a great mysterious past and to eternal ideals. Only this can account for our mourning for a Temple consumed by fire nearly two thousand years ago; only this can account for our deep attachment to the Land of Israel. We are committed not only to a great past, but to a glorious future, to the “young child.” The child

is our ambassador of the future. We behold a great vision of tomorrow, and we know that in order to realize it we must know how to bring up and educate the child. We are both past-minded and future-oriented. There is an ancient Jewish custom that the first word the child says when asking the four questions is “Tatteh lebin, Dear father.” One time, a child left out the phrase “Dear father,” when asking the four questions in front of Rav Yissochar Dov of Belz. The Belzer Rebbe corrected him, “You left out the most important part of the four questions!” We want Hashem to answer all of our questions and teach us the Torah. But we must first recognize that we have a precious Father above! The Seder concludes with with Chad Gadya, with “the little lamb that fa-

ther bought for two zuzim.” Hashem invested the two zuzim of the Torah in us and thereby brought us into a way of life to make us His legs in this world, to give Him a dwelling place in this lower world. May we merit to celebrate Pesach together next year in Yerushalayim with the coming of Moshiach and the return of parents’ hearts to their children and the children’s hearts to their parents.

Rav Moshe Weinberger, shlita, is the founding Morah d’Asrah of Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY, and has served as Mashpia in Yeshiva University since 2013.



Holiday The Week Series In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Most Difficult Part of the Seder Chaim Isenberg

Not long ago, I asked a group of people who lead sedarim, “What is the most difficult part of the seder?” Initially, I received answers like, “Staying up,” or “Singing Chad Gadya.” Upon further reflection, however, they identified a more serious challenge: engaging their audience – which likely includes both adults and children – with the Haggadah. How do we deal with the competing interest levels when we have guests of varying ages and abilities? Competing Self Interests We prepare material. We get all dressed up. We bring out all our finest silver. And then someone lets all the air out of the balloon. It’s may be the skeptic, the rebel, and the impatient family member. Someone has a complaint. “You’re going too slow!” “When are we going to eat?” “Who cares about all this stuff; just get it over with!” And then there are ourselves. Maybe we don’t care about the seder, or maybe we care too much and desire to indulge in cerebral gymnastics at the peril of our guests. The Haggadah itself addresses this archetype as the rasha, often translated as

the “Wicked Son.” Why wicked? Because he asks his question in the second person, and thus excludes himself from the seder and even Passover itself. He asks, “What purpose is all this work to you?” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks quotes the Talmud Yerushalmi that interprets the rasha’s question as, “What is all this effort (torach) that you undertake each year?” Thus, he demonstrates a disdain of all the hard labor associated with Passover. He further quotes the Ritva, who explains that the rasha is asking, “Why delay the meal with so much talking, so many questions, answers, and explanations”? The antidote suggested by the Haggadah is to “blunt the teeth” of the rasha. That seems harsh. I wonder if it was such a rare event in the days of Mishnah, when the original Haggadah began to be codified. Maybe this question was more theoretical back then. Moreover, some commentators seem to imply that the term rasha described heretics who had left the religion and were likely not even at the table. However, the simple reading of the Haggadah implies that this is one of four types of children whom a parent may en-

counter at their table. Examining Other Commentators The Chida (Chaim Yosef David Azulai) writes that he once met a man without a beard and asked him why he had shaved. The man replied, “Just as I was born without a beard, I continue to live without one.” “Now,” said the Chida, “I understand what is meant by blunt his teeth (in reference to the wicked son). Just as he was born without teeth, thus he should remain without teeth (Otsar HaSipurim 8:14).” Maybe he should have changed his name to the bedicha (Hebrew for jokester)! It seems the Chida displays no tolerance for the rasha. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes a long essay about the rebellious child and generation in which he lived (at the height of the Reform movement). One can sum up his perspective in the following quote from his essay: The key to unlocking the hearts of this estranged generation rests in the Hands of God. Only experience can bring them back, the experience of emptiness, futility, and frustration, the disillusionment with the frivolous things to which they had turned. This experience will ultimately fill their hearts with longing for the lost happiness which the ancient truth had given them and it will lead them to [return to their roots]. One will have to wait for that time to arrive. While Rabbi Hirsch goes on to say that one should not be completely silent, his general modus operandi is to just wait. Barely engage the rasha – your words will have less effect than the ups and downs of life itself. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov has a completely different view of the rasha. In fact, his view of all the “sons” is that each reflects an aspect of the self. He refers to the Wise, Wicked, Simple, and “The One Unable to Ask” as the “Wise Self,” “Wicked Self,” “Simple Self,” and the “Sleeping Self.” He encourages everyone to look at themselves – before being critical of others. Rebbe Nachman’s rasha is one who mocks and brazenly brings his mockery into the open. Unlike Rav Hirsch, Rebbe Nachman offers a solution. He recommends that the rasha must be brought in contact with the tzaddik – the tzaddik being one whose soul is deeply connected to G-d and who can see deep into the rasha’s soul to find the good within him. The tzaddik will find the good in the rasha and show him that even he is truly worthy in G-d’s eyes. Finally, we hear from the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, who offers the following advice to the dealing with the Wicked Son to whom the Haggadah recommends

harsh rebuke. The Lubavichter Rebbe writes, “our approach to the Wicked Son should not be a harsh one, which is likely to alienate him altogether. Rather, with affection and love we should explain, “If he had been there, he would not have been redeemed from the Egyptian exile. However, from our current and final exile he WILL be saved along with the rest of the Jewish people. For at Mount Sinai, G-d has forged an intrinsic, unbreakable connection with every Jew, regardless of his ethical and spiritual standing. Is Hard Work Truly Bad? Rabbi Sacks writes that in Judaism, we usually celebrate the “kula” – the easy. Our view, it seems, is that if we make something easier, more people will want to do it. As such, by making observance easier on Jews, more Jews will remain or become religious. Rabbi Sacks then conducted the following experiment (and I recommend you try this, too): He polled his audience to identify the most difficult festival to observe. The majority identified Passover as being the most burdensome (many also identified Yom Kippur). Then he pointed out that most surveys have identified that the most observed holidays by Jews are Passover and Yom Kippur. His point was that hard work added value to a holiday in the eyes of celebrants. This is completely counter to what we have come to believe. The Take Away Clearly there are many ways to deal with difficult people, children, or other family members. However, increasing positive effort and engagement seem to lead to success. It is incumbent on the seder leader to prepare in advance, to find new material and creative ways with which to engage everyone, regardless of their spiritual station. But the leader should also leave “work” for the others – fun opportunities for the family and guests to exert themselves. May your Passover efforts be fruitful and blessed with great success. References Jonathan Sacks, “What Does This Avodah Mean to You”, 2014 The Kol Menachem Haggadah, The Gutnick Library of Jewish Classics, First Edition 2008 The Breselov Haggadah, Breslov Research Institute, 1989 Haggadah of the Chassidic Masters, Mesorah Publications, 1990 The Hirsch Haggadah, Feldheim Publishers, 1993

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

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Living with In theNews Times The Week

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

Vehi she’omda la’avoseinu velonu. I say these words every year at the Seder, as you do, and as all those who came before us did. There are more than 3,300 years separating us from the most glorious night the world has ever known, the night illuminated as day, when a new nation was born. Not long after we left Mitzrayim, Amaleik pounced and sought to destroy us. We withstood that attack and the many attacks that have followed it. Since that time, the parade has never stopped. Shelo echod bilvod. One after another, they’ve come with clubs and sticks, with dogs and guns, with trains and poison gasses wire, and often with wide smiles and sweet words. They have never stopped trying. From the hidden rooms in Spain and broken-down huts in Eastern Europe, –our grandfathers intoned the eternal words. V’Hakadosh Boruch Hu matzileinu miyodom. It is a story that takes a million shapes, told in any number of accents against so many various backdrops. Here is one, I recently heard from a Holocaust survivor. Rabbi Nissen Mangel recalled being a child in the relatively unknown Melk work camp in Austria. The cursed Nazis would awake their captives at 4 a.m., and by 5 a.m. the poor Jews were back at their backbreaking work, digging in iron ore and coal mines. If an inmate slacked off in any way, he was punished with instant death. The camp was surrounded by an electrified fence, and, Rabbi Mangel recalled, each day the inmates would return from work to see another dozen victims hanging from the fence, killed for minor infractions. A real infraction was punished by being hanged by the feet. “We never knew what day it was,” said Rabbi Mangel. “We inhabited a dimension where getting through the day was the only real thought, not much more. One day, as we dragged ourselves back to camp, someone called out, ‘Tonight is Pesach.’ There were 1,200 tired, hungry, exhausted peo-

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Chosen ple in the barracks, jammed together like sardines, but everyone jumped up on their cots to celebrate. Derech cheirus. Everyone offered the words they remembered from home, half-sentences and phrases, a jumble of Mah Nishtana and other familiar phrases. The voices rose and fell for several hours. Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim. “All of a sudden, an SS man came into the barracks and beheld the unnatural sight of people in such depraved conditions singing and happy. He barked at us to go to sleep and then he left. As soon as he stepped out, everyone jumped up again for another half hour. Then he came back with

were no children. Everyone was forced to change into the infamous striped clothing given out by the Nazis. Everyone removed their clothes and threw them into a pile, then moved to the area where they put on their camp uniforms. But there was no uniform for little Nissen. The SS guard sent him back to where the pile of clothing was and told him to find the clothes he came in and put them on. When he found his clothing, he noticed that those of his father were right next to his in the pile, so he searched the pockets. In one pocket was a can of sardines, worth their weight in gold in that awful place.

People of truth cannot be broken. People of spirit cannot be deterred.

his gun and warned that if we didn’t go to sleep, he would start shooting. “Jewish life was meaningless to them, and he said that it would be a badge of honor for him to kill us. Though we knew that he meant it, all the inmates sat up on their beds and continued celebrating Pesach. “The third time the SS came was at 1:25. He was so overcome by our tenacity and spirit, that he left us alone. We celebrated all night until it was time to go to work. “This was a barracks comprised of all types of Jews, religious and non-religious, from all sorts of backgrounds, yet everyone joined in the celebration. Not one person complained that we were putting our lives in jeopardy.” Rabbi Mangel concluded the story: “There was more oppression there than in Egypt, yet there we were, celebrating the festival of freedom.” Rabbi Mangel recounted that when he arrived in Auschwitz in 1944, there

In the other was a pair of tefillin. He put the treasures in his pockets and returned to where everyone was standing. When they were led into their barracks, he gave his father what he found. Word spread that his father had tefillin, and hundreds of people took turns putting on the tefillin every night until his father was transferred to a different camp, never to be heard from again. Where do people get the strength to line up under the penalty of death after a grueling day’s work to put on tefillin? Where do emaciated people barely hanging on to life get the strength to sit up on their beds and sing about freedom under the penalty of death? One of the more fundamental differentiations between Yahadus and other religions is that the actions that formed our belief took place in front of hundreds of thousands of people and have been passed down from parent to child ever since. Yahadus is not based on one person’s fanta-

sies or fanciful tales. Kabbolas HaTorah took place in front of the entire nation. Yetzias Mitzrayim was witnessed by every Jew. The miraculous deliverance from enslavement to freedom took place in front of every Jewish person and affected each one. It is not something someone invented or plagiarized. It is fact. It is obvious that the world did not come into being by itself, giving forth the animal kingdom and all the plants, which then figured out how to grow into different shapes and sizes, displaying myriad colors, giving forth fruit and offspring, and behaving differently, with varying appetites and needs. Any thinking person must conclude that there is no way the intricate world could have formed itself. There had to have been a Creator. Moshe Rabbeinu transcribed from the Creator the book in which He describes why the world was created and how we are to conduct ourselves in His world. The Ramban writes in his peirush haTorah at the end of Parshas Bo that the belief in Hashgocha Protis, that everything that happens is from Hashem, is primary to being a Torah Jew. It is obvious that the Creator has not lost interest in our world. A cursory study of Jewish history indicates that Hashem has been guiding and watching over us since our formation. Looking back and contemplating our own personal lives indicates the same thing. It could not have been random. Look at the recent history of the Jewish people and the many miracles we have experienced, and you will have to admit that there is a Hand above guiding us. Think about how we have survived since Har Sinai, which brought “sinah la’olam.” It is impossible for a small despised group such as ours to have endured thousands of years of concerted efforts by the strongest nations – and many religions – of the world to wipe us out. All of this has been given over from parents to children throughout the centuries. Every Jewish child raised al pi derech haTorah grows up with the stories and facts that have been transmitted from one generation to the next since time immemorial. That is our secret. That is our strength. People of truth cannot be broken. People of spirit cannot be deterred. Eternal people cannot be shaken by temporal powers. A nation focused on a time and place so much bigger than this little world can’t be thrown off course by its allure. The Torah provides us with four dif-

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ferent responses for fathers to utilize to explain to their children matters pertaining to Yetzias Mitzrayim and ikkrei emunah. There is an answer for every type of child and a way to get through to them. Proper chinuch and child-rearing skills are vital to producing a wholesome generation of Torah Jews. Communication is key. Communication skills are important for us to properly perform our duties as parents and Jews. This is why the Seder is a major production, ensuring that it relates to every member of the family, from the most engaged scholars to the youngest children. Questions are asked and answered on every level, as families relive the redemption until it becomes personal. We feel as if we have been freed. We think about our lives and the things that enslave us and realize that Hashem redeems us as well if we call out to Him and show ourselves to be interested in His leadership. The Vilna Gaon explains the reason we discuss at the Seder how Lovon treated Yaakov, stating, “Tzei ulemad mah bikeish Lovon ha’Arami la’asos leYaakov Avinu.” Go learn from what Lovon tried doing to Yaakov, the Haggadah tells us, and despite Lovon’s attempts, Yaakov became a strong and plentiful great nation. We know that “maaseh avos siman labonim,” what happened to our forefathers is a hint of what will happen to the children. Thus, we say that just as Yaakov had to flee into exile, where he was forced to work hard for Lovon, who tried to rob everything from him, only to eventually flee with his wives, children and possessions, he was preparing the geulah for his grandchildren, who would have the same experience in Mitzrayim. The travails of Yaakov have followed us through the generations, and just as he was saved and went on to achieve great success, so too, the Jewish people, though driven into exile and tormented, ultimately survived to rise once again. A Jew in any situation remembers that and is comforted as he awaits his freedom. Wherever he may be, every year he recites at the Seder the same words his parents, grandparents and all of the Jewish people have been reciting for as long as there has been a Seder. In the barracks of Auschwitz, in the Soviet gulag, in the frozen tundra of Siberia, during the Spanish Inquisition and during the Roman occupation, these same words were said. The first Jews to enter Eretz Yisroel, and those driven out, the Ga’onim and Rishonim in Babylonia, France and Germany, the Rambam,

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the Ramban, the Rosh, the fathers of our people, the Acharonim across western and eastern Europe, as well as those in Egypt, Morocco and Syria, no matter what was going on, celebrated Pesach the same way, reciting, “Arami oveid ovi.” Hence the potency of that passage: Vehi she’omda la’avoseinu. In every generation, we face attempts at our destruction, from which Hashem saves us. Vehi she’omda la’avoseinu. These words are as relevant today as they were when they were recited throughout the millennia around the world. A Jew going through difficult times in Auschwitz, or Otisville, or anywhere else is strengthened and joyful when the Seder arrives, bringing back so many personal memories and the collective memory of Jews throughout the ages. Every word takes on mystical significance. Every matzah is a special treat. Not only are the daled kosos treasured, but the maror is, too. The words of the Haggadah jump off the page and kindle the soul, just as they have been doing for thousands of years. They remind us who we are, what we are all about, and who watches over us, orchestrating life. There’s another resounding message in the story we retell. If He, the Source of all life, felt it important to change the order of creation, turning water to blood and repeating similar feats again and again, in order to pluck one nation out from amidst another, to lift us up as we sunk deeper into the quicksand of impurity, then it means that we are a people worthy of being chosen. The message of the Seder isn’t just who He is, but who we are. Each evening, following the recitation of Krias Shema during Maariv, we say, “Emes ve’emunah,” stating that we firmly and truthfully acknowledge that “ki Hu Hashem Elokeinu,” Hashem is our G-d. Rav Moshe Shapiro would point out that following those words, we add “va’anachnu Yisroel amo.” We acknowledge that we are His chosen people. He leads and protects us, and we are worthy of His love.

We see it again and again. Opening the daily mail is not a glorious process. The pile includes some bills, perhaps a simcha invitation, a few letters from mosdos, the usual. One day, a small box was in the pile, and it was quite heavy. I opened it and shook out a letter, along with some jewelry, sent by a woman in a faraway small town. A bracelet, a necklace, a ring and a pocket watch came along with the letter, which contained a precise accounting of exactly what each piece weighed and its worth. The handwritten letter humbly asked that we sell the items and use the money for the Klal Yisroel Fund to help another Jew. The collection of ornaments sat on my desk, and I couldn’t bring myself to move them. Each item no doubt had a story: The gift of a devoted husband or loving parents? A token of friendship or appreciation? Yet a woman parted with them and all they represented in order to help a good Jew who is imprisoned. I thought of the passion of the people at the time the Eigel who gave up their jewelry to fashion the infamous golden calf, the source of many of our problems until this day. A Jewish woman living in a small town demonstrated that our people have sinned, but we have come a long way and remain devoted to each other and good causes. She showed that wherever we find ourselves and whatever our position in life is, we know that we live for a higher purpose and have a higher calling. We rise above pettiness and selfishness, for we are chosen. Vehi she’omda. We know that we are singled out for hatred and attack, and we know that Hashem ultimately protects us. The knowledge that we are chosen for protection holds us together and reminds us to be strong and carry ourselves differently, as we are the nation of “rachmonim, baishonim and gomlei chassodim” (Yevamos 78, et al). Rav Chaim Volozhiner asked the Vil-

na Gaon to whom Moshiach would come. With the steady decrease in quality of avodah and the dimming of neshamos with each passing year, he wondered if Moshiach could come to a pathetic generation. The Gaon replied that the question was already asked and answered by the Medrash. Rav Chaim’s brilliant brother, Rav Zalmele, was part of the conversation. The master of Chazal quickly reviewed all the Medrashim in his vast memory and told the Gaon that he could not find that Medrash. The Gaon responded that it is found in Tanna Devei Eliyohu. Rav Zalmele deliberated for a while and told the Gaon that he was not able to find it. The Gaon responded that it is on the very first page of Tanna Devei Eliyohu. It is there that many attributes of Hakadosh Boruch Hu are described. Listed among them is that Hashem is referred to as a “somei’ach bechelko, happy with His lot.” “What type of praise is that?” the Gaon asked. “He owns everything and is Master of the Universe. What does it mean that He is content with His lot?” “When it says that Hakadosh Boruch Hu rejoices with His ‘cheilek,’” explained the Gaon, “it means that he is satisfied with His nation, and derives the very same pleasure and delight from the avodah of simple people as He did from their ancestors, men of great learning and saintliness.” Said the Gaon, “He will bring Moshiach to a generation that serves Him on their level, facing their challenges, doing their best, rejoicing in their hard work just as He did with the avos hakdoshim, the Dor Deiah, the avodas kohanim, and the Gaonim and Rishonim.” Hopefully, that is us and our generation. We endeavor to be a nation of people who find ways to tap into the middos bequeathed to us by our holy ancestors and show who we are, in our own humble way. Hashem’s cheilek. We are the same nation that went out of Mitzrayim. The world has changed so many times in so many ways, yet we are still here. “Shebechol dor vador omdim aleinu” is still fact. “Ki lo merubchem choshak Hashem bachem, ki atem hame’at,” Hashem’s statement that He chose us not because we are the largest but because we are incredibly small, is still true. May we eat the Korban Pesach, as families spanning centuries join together in celebration, singing shirah al geulaseinu ve’al pedus nafsheinu.



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In the Merit of the Righteous Women of the Exodus, the Israelites were Redeemed Dr. Leila Bronner PhD

The story of the exodus from Egypt portrays many women as playing crucial roles in saving their people from extinction. The portion of Shemot in particular describes five women given courage by G-d to confront the Pharaoh and save Moses. They prepared the great leader to free the Jewish people from slavery, and thus they generated our freedom. The rabbinic retelling of the Exodus embellishes the stories of these women. The Gemara tells us that it was “b’zechut nashim tzidkaniyot” – through the merit of the righteous women – that Israel came to be redeemed from Egypt (Sotah 11b). The sages offer various examples and elaborations of the bravery and redemptive actions credited to the women of the days of Exodus from Egypt (yetziat mitzrayim). This amoraic source located the women’s merit in their fulfilling their function as women – feeding and nurturing – to ensure the continuity of life. The midwives are the first mentioned

in the Torah getting credit for securing the continuity of the Israelites by refusing to obey Pharaoh’s command to put to death the male children of the Hebrews. In the Torah it is not clear whether Shifrah and Puah (Shemot 1:15), the midwives, were Hebrew or Egyptian. The midrashic sources give two opinions. According to one midrash, the midwives were Hebrew women, and it even identifies them; Shifrah was Yocheved, and Puah was Miriam. Trying to discover the meaning of their names, the amoraim relate those names to their behavior in caring for the children. Another source claims they were Egyptians. In any case, they defied Pharaoh’s command to kill every male child. Not only that, they went further and supplied the babies with water and food. When Pharaoh demanded to know how they had dared to defy his edict, the midwives asserted that the Hebrew women had no need for their services, saying that Hebrew women were vigorous and sturdy, unlike

pampered Egyptian women, and they would give birth before the midwives arrived (Shemot 1:19). This behavior on the part of the midwives shows great courage. The bravery of the women of that age included an Egyptian woman, the daughter of Pharaoh. Midrash, in explicating Scripture (Shemot 2:5), records that in rescuing Moses from the bulrushes she dared to challenge her father, the king and ruler, who had absolute power over her, in order to save a male Hebrew child. Pharaoh’s daughter is traditionally identified with the Bityah mentioned in Divrei HaYamim (Part I, 4:18. The midrash comments that her name indicates she was a daughter of G-d (bat-Yah): “The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Bityah the daughter of Pharaoh, ‘Moses was not your son, yet you called him your son; you, too, though you are not My daughter, yet I will call My daughter.’” Other instances of women of the Exodus period playing redemptive roles include Yocheved, the mother of Moses,

who hid her newborn child from Pharaoh (Shemot 2:3), and Miriam, his sister, who watched from afar and waited until the daughter of Pharaoh rescued him from the river (Shemot 2:4). Tziporah, the wife of Moses, also performed a redemptive act by circumcising their son and thereby preventing her husband’s death (Shemot 4:2427). Moses was surrounded by these six women and owed his very life to them. No other biblical age records the names and deeds of so many masterful and righteous women, all of whom provide ample material to discuss during the seder and upon which to reflect during the year, when teaching Sefer Shemot. With their actions, the women displayed not only conventional female fortitude but also unprecedented courage on par with (or even exceeding) that shown by men challenging the tyrant Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt.

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‫להוושע‬ after Vasikin prayers

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ur history in Egypt starts with the story in Shemos, the one that we recount year after year following our tradition of passing the story from father to son, from parent to child. The story takes on larger meaning, and “Mitzrayim” functions in the Jewish mind as a metaphor at times for all exiles, for the yetzer hara, for personal pain. In truth, Egypt has a history with our people that spans millennia past krias Yam Suf and our escape from the Egyptian oppression. Manuscripts in the Cairo Geniza, the geniza in the Ben Ezra shul in Old Cairo, date the community back at least 2,000 years. After leaving Spain in 1492, Sephardi Jews (in this case, literally from Spain) came to Egypt. They lived there in prosperity for years; their numbers swelled 400 years later when the Suez Canal opened in 1869 bringing Jews from all over the Ottoman Empire, Italy, and Greece. The community was divided between Karaites and Rabbanites; both groups did not marry each other. Late in the 1800s, Ashkenazi Jews started coming to Cairo’s Darb al-Barabira quarter to escape European pogroms. But in the 1950s all this shifted. The Egyptians, experiencing a wave

of isolationist nationalism, expelled its Jewish population and took Jewish-owned property. As recently as 1948, up to 80,000 Jews lived in Egypt. Today, 57,500 Egyptian Jews live in Israel and only six Egyptian Jews actually live in Egypt, all of them women over the age of 65. What follows is a brief history, and, in their own words, a picture of a vivid and robust life led on the banks of the Nile after 3327.

From Israel to Egypt During the time of Ptolemy, Ptolemy took 120,000 Jewish captives to Egypt. There, the Jews settled and lived in peace; Ptolemy even freed them from slavery when they arrived there, opening the Jews to an era in Egypt of relative peace and wealth. The community even dedicated a shul to him. Once they were in Egypt, they were present for the establishment of Alexandria under Alexander the Great, becoming a large portion of the local population. Alexandrian Jews lived in two out of five districts in the city to ensure that they could follow Jewish customs; the Jews were politically independent. The community, however, was destroyed during the Kitos War, or Jewish re-

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volt, in 115 BCE. When the Emperor Heraclius I drove the Jewish population out of Jerusalem, Egyptians and local Coptic groups took this as permission to hurt local Jews. Together, they massacred Jewish residents throughout Egypt. So when the Arabs invaded Egypt in the middle 600s, the Jews welcomed them and supported them. In fact, the Treaty of Alexandria (641) stipulated that Jewish residents should be allowed to stay in Alexandria and be treated fairly. The new Arab leader reported that there were 40,000 Jews in that city alone.

The Middle Ages: When Egypt Thrived During the Middle Ages, Egyptian Jewry thrived: the Jews founded yeshivas; Jews rose to high positions of the government. But as is the classic story in Jewish history, tolerance is dependent on local governance. During the 24-year reign of caliph al-Hakim, for example, Jews had to wear bells and carry in public the wooden image of a calf. This followed the Pact of Umar, a pact between Muslims and Christians about the rights and restrictions of non-Muslims that became incorporated into the Muslim canon. One street, al-Jawdarriyah, was desig-

nated as Jew street, and, when the caliph learned that Jews had privately mocked him, he burned the Jewish quarter down. By the 12th century, though, a Jew led the Department of Agriculture, and there was a Jewish master of finances. Jews were personal doctors to the caliph. Reports from famous talmidei chachamim of the time, such as Yehuda Halevi, give us an understanding of the local Jewish communities. Cairo had 2,000 Jews, Alexandria had 3,000, and another close to 1,500 Jews collectively lived in other small communities. The apex of this leadership and esteem is with the Rambam, who came to Alexandria in 1166. He was a renowned doctor to Saladin. The Rambam was a Jewish leader and prolific writer of seforim; his Mishneh Torah and Moreh Nevuchim and sheilos and teshuvos are still very much alive in batei medrash all over the world.

Under the Ottoman Empire This cycle of peace and persecution continued through the Ottomans’ rise to power in 1517. Jews had high government positions – Abraham de Castro, for example, headed the Egyptian mint – and their spiritual and Torah life flourished.

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The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria

Bezeleel Ashkenazi wrote “Shittah Mekubbezet,” and was rebbe to the future Arizal, who was visiting a rich uncle in Egypt. Chaim Vital Aaron ibn Chaim wrote his perush on the Gemara; Menashe ben Yisrael records that a Jew was always at the side of the Egyptian viceroy in the position of “zaraf bashi” or treasurer. By 1840, the Damascus Affair involved the arrest of 13 respected members of the Jewish community of Damascus who were accused of killing a monk for the sake of their Pesach matzos. The Jews were attacked, imprisoned, and tortured by the Ottoman government. The locals attacked the shul and burned sifrei Torah. The violence drew international attention, and negotiations for the prisoners’ release took place in Alexandria for 24 days in August. The nine prisoners who were still alive were released and an edict went out to stop the spread of blood libels and hatred in the Ottoman Empire. With the raised awareness of the Jews in Egypt, famous Jews including Moses Montefiore visited Egypt and founded, with Rabbi Moses Joseph Algazi, schools in Cairo. They noted that “a great spirit of tolerance sustains the majority of our fellow Jews in Egypt, and it would be difficult to find a more liberal population or one more respectful of all religious beliefs.” Unfortunately, in 1844, 1881, and 1902, Egyptian Jews for the first time faced the pain of blood libels.

The Last Hundred Years, the Last of the Jews By 1898, 25,200 Jews lived in Egypt. By 1919, though, under Brit-

The Jewish Quarter in Alexandria, circia 1898

ish rule and under King Fuad I, most Jews did not have Egyptian nationality. They had either been denied it or did not apply for it. However, they still played key roles in the economy,

The Senator and Chief Rabbi of Cairo, Rav Haim Nahum Effendi, with Egyptian officials at King Fouad’s funeral, Cairo 1934

Muslim families; this was relatively common for Jewish families including the Aghion, Goar, Mosseri, Nahman, Pinto, and Tilche families. Others were actors, musicians, and

. He was taken with other Jewish boys and men to the precinct, where the captain “started his introduction with a reddening slap across our faces.” They were then beaten and eventually branded with a triangle with a number on it.

and their population soared to nearly 80,000, as Egypt accepted Jewish refugees running from European persecution. The community, of course, had its own traditions. On the night of Rosh Chodesh NIssan, for example, they had a special seder in the local shuls, called the Seder El-Tawhid. The seder involved learning, including reading the parsha about the korban Pesach, and Tehillim 136 to honor the Torah and the status of those who learn it. Following that, the chazan sang Seder Hayichud (translation: El-Tawhid) in Arabic, as well as a special tefillah in Arabic asking Hashem to have mercy on His children. Egyptian Jews at the time were well-known and powerful. The Qattawi family, for example, had business relationships with all the major


athletes, who competed for Egypt on a global level, including the Olympics. The Cicurel family originated from Turkey. They owned and ran Cairo’s leading department store, a store they built from a fabric shop in Cairo’s El Mousky district to the department store Au Petit Bazaar to the even larger department store Les Grand Magasins Cicurel. This department store was considered Egypt’s finest. The family founded Banque Misr, a bank owned by Egyptian and Jewish owners who wanted to end foreign countries’ power over the local banking industry. Other Jews, however, limited their business relationships to other Jewish families. The Jews were proudly Egyptian. Rene Qattawi eventually led the Cai-

ro Sephardi community and created in 1935 the Association of Egyptian Jewish Youth. The group’s slogan, “Egypt is our homeland, Arabic is our language,” demonstrated the tight ties the Egyptian Jews felt with their native country. They opposed Zionism and even argued in 1943 against Palestine as a destination for all of Europe’s Jewish refugees. Other Jews functioned as Zionists and Egyptian nationalists, writing poems to “My Homeland Egypt,” while defending the right to a Jewish state. Some were so patriotic that they joined the Egyptian nationalist movement advocating the overthrow of the British mandate in Egypt. Yaqub Sanu even edited nationalist publications, one of the first magazines written in Egyptian Arabic. Henri Curiel founded the Egyptian Movement for National Liberation in 1943, the seed of the Egyptian Communist party. Because they had never truly been granted Egyptian citizenship, Jews prospered even more in the late 1930s, due to an interesting government tax loophole and ruling. The government at that point exempted foreign nationals from taxation. European Jews started using Egyptian banks for transferring money from central Europe, and Jews trading within Egypt had extra advantages, especially since they were not considered full Egyptian citizens. However, with the rise of the clashes between Arabs and Jews in Palestine during the late 1930s, as well as the rise of Nazi Germany, tensions between Egyptian Jews and their Egyptian Arab neighbors increased. Militant nationalist groups came to power and became antag-


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Members of the Sasson family, Cairo, 1939

A group bat mitzvah in Alexandria

onistic toward Jews. The Muslim Brotherhood spread its own version of fake news: Jews were killing Arab women and children, Jews were destroying holy places in Israel. Nazis funded the Muslim Brotherhood and funded its printing presses to disseminate anti-Semitic propaganda.


hile World War II raged, pogroms began in Egypt. In 1945, the Jewish quarter in Cairo was severely damaged, and, with the advent of the State of Israel, nationalism and anti-Semitism in Egypt increased. The government required that 75 percent of salaried employees and 90 percent of all workers be Egyptian. As most Jews had been denied citizenship as a rule, Jews were laid off, even in Jewish-owned companies. They had been warned. The Egyptian prime minister had told the British ambassador that “all Jews were potential Zionists...all Zionists were Communists,” and the head of the Egyptian delegation to the General Assembly said that “the lives of a million Jews in Muslim countries would be jeopardized by the establishment of a Jewish state.” They took this not-so-veiled threat one step further, stating that, should a Jewish State be established, or “the UN decide to amputate a part of Palestine” to do so, “Jewish blood will necessarily be shed.” Violence increased following 1948, beyond economic sanctions and oppression. There were bombings in Jewish areas, and riots, and the Cicurel department store was firebombed and eventually nationalized by the Egyptian government. This led 14,000 Jews to immi-

grate to Israel; by 1950, 40 percent of the Egyptian Jewish population had left. But until 1952, and the overthrow of King Farouk, Cairo was still known as “Paris on the Nile.” A step inside a cafe, according to Lucetta Lagnedo, who wrote a memoir about her family’s life in pre-1952 Egypt and their forced emigration to Brooklyn, brought not only the aroma of coffee

the Jews and took pains to make statements like “these defendants happen to be Jews who reside in Egypt,” the aftermath was brutal. By 1956, when Israel, Britain, and France invaded Egypt to regain control of the Suez Canal, the Egyptian government issued a new proclamation. Now, “all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state” and were to be expelled. Half of the community –

“I still remember my last day in Egypt. I still remember looking out the back car window. And I thought, ‘I wonder if I’m ever going to see this place again. I wonder what’s ahead of me. What’s going to be.’”

and pastries, but the sounds of four or five different languages. The upper echelons of Egyptian society included Muslims and Jews who lived together in a relatively tolerant community. With the rise of President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1952, Egypt was to be only for the Egyptians. And Jews were not considered Egyptian. Furthering the situation, Israeli espionage agents, utilizing contacts within the Egyptian Jewish community, tried to secretly overthrow President Nasser to stop negotiations between him and Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett. Though the Egyptian government did not blame

25,000 Jews – upped and left for Israel, Europe, the United States, and South America. They were forced to declare that they were leaving voluntarily and had to agree to government seizure of all their assets. A thousand Jews were thrown into prison. No longer were Jews a resource to the country and economy. They were now enemies of the state, sleeper agents infiltrating the county and ready to undermine its very existence. Those from the most prominent families – the Qattawis, for example – lost their social clout and for the most part left the country, despite their earlier anti-Zionist declarations.


his was devastating to the Egyptian Jewish community. Cairo had been a city that “was particularly alive, very cosmopolitan,” a place that was “very extraordinary,” says Lagnedo. But following the Jews’ mass emigration, hundreds of shuls were emptied. Cemeteries were desecrated. The schools were bereft of students. The charmed life was over. Leon Lagnedo, Lucette’s father, had been fabulously wealthy. He wore custom suits, went out each night, and did business with Arabs and Jews. By 1963, he was forced to leave. He and his family took 26 suitcases with them and were only allowed 200 dollars. And they were told: don’t come back. “My father went from a successful businessman to a stateless refugee,” she says. In America, he was too old to find a job, according to local social workers, who encouraged him to go on welfare. People didn’t like the fact that he would say “G-d is great” when faced with hardship; it was too religious-sounding and discomfiting for their taste. He started spending nine or ten hours a day in the local Sephardi shul in Bensonhurst and sold neckties out of a box on the subway and Brooklyn street corners. He, a descendant of rabbis in Aleppo, was stateless and poor. Still, some Jews remained in Egypt, though not for long. They faced further dangers and persecutions, especially after the Six Day War in 1967. The day the war broke out, all Egyptian men between ages 17 and 60 were expelled from the country or imprisoned and tortured for three years.

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The Jewish Home | OCTOBER 29, 2015

A page from the Cairo Geniza

Israel Bonan had been a student in his final month of college when the Six Day War broke out. His siblings were already in the United States. He just needed to get his diploma; then he and he parents would leave. The day the war broke out, he was at college. Classes were cancelled, and Israel could see the “glee” in his classmates’ eyes as they anticipated being able to work in Tel Aviv post-graduation. Israel walked home, and around 10pm policemen knocked at his door, looking for him. He was taken with other Jewish boys and men to the precinct, where the captain “started his introduction with a reddening slap across our faces.” They were then beaten and eventually branded with a triangle with a number on it. After some time, Bonan shared a cell with a Christian, whose name had been confused with a Jewish name, and a Muslim newspaper reporter, who reported too much of the truth. Because they were not officially Egyptian, despite deep roots in the country, some Jews spent years in prison hoping to get a nationality based on their heritage. Some finally needed to procure Spanish passports, because of a “nationality” that dated back to 1492. Mrs. Simone Wadiche left Egypt in 1967 when she was ten-years-old. Her father’s import-export business had been thriving, and each week found him on a plane to Europe to meet with different contacts. Because Jews were not citizens, despite being born in the country, her father, knowing the political situation, acquired through underground channels an Italian passport. When the Six Day War began, her father was taken to jail and eventually de-

19 31

Egyptian Jews in Alexandria, pre-1967. The choir of Rabbi Moshe Cohen at the Samuel Menashe synagogue

ported to Italy. Her mother, in the meantime, contacted the Italian consulate, where a representative told her that they had a boat leaving in three days to Italy. The family, sans their jailed father, could leave on the boat; afterwards there were no guarantees. Mother, grandmother, and children packed what they could and left, leaving behind a fully-furnished home, money, and the bulk of their jewelry and valuables. Egyptian Jews were wealthy and spoke many languages. Conversationally, they spoke French, like the elite of the Arab world. They were fluent in Italian, German, and English. Because of this, Simone’s parents, when the family reunited in Italy, spoke to the children in English to prepare them for a future in the United States. From Italy, the family went to France and then to the United States. After a brief time in Georgia, Rabbi Halfon Savdia of Ahaba VeAhva, a shul catering to Egyptian Jews in Brooklyn, wrote to her father and convinced him to come to Brooklyn for the sake of his children’s Jewish future. This was the right decision; his children eventually went to Yeshiva of Brooklyn where they were welcomed by the Sephardic community, and Rabbi Mandel, zt”l, personally looked out for their welfare. Today, Simone’s husband, who came to New York from Egypt as a small child, is a rebbe at Yeshivat Sha’arei Torah, and her brothers are rebbeim in different yeshivot as well. Though she speaks matter-of-factly and openly about her experience, she is equally open about how difficult the transition was. While Egyptian Jews follow Syri-

an traditions, traditions shared by most of the Sephardic community in New York, the transition still was “very traumatic,” she says. “I still remember my last day in Egypt. I still remember looking out the back car window. And I thought, ‘I wonder if I’m ever going to see this place again. I wonder what’s ahead of me. What’s going to be.’” During these years, the majority of Jews left the country, including the last Egyptian chief rabbi, Rabbi Haim Moussa Douek. The last Jewish wedding took place in 1984.


y 2007, fewer than 200 Jews lived in Egypt. Less than 40 were still there in 2014. Today, only six women remain, though those numbers may be skewed as marriage restrictions may have motivated some to convert to other religions. Still, despite the almost total absence of Jews in Egypt, anti-Israel feelings are strong in the country and rumors abound that Jews are subverting and weakening the state. The Rambam’s shul still stands, newly renovated in 2010, though it is barely used. Burials take place in the 9th-century cemetery. The head of the community and youngest of the remaining six women, Magda Shehata Haroun, age 63, is the daughter of a famous Egyptian-Jewish lawyer. Her father refused to leave Egypt because he was anti-Zionist, and he suffered for it; Magda refuses to go as well. Her father so loved Egypt that, when her sister was four-years-old and suffering from leukemia, he would not take the child out of the country for medical treatment because the Egyptian government said they would not

let him return. Magda now worries about how to give the last members of the community proper funerals (for her father’s funeral, she invited in a French rabbi). She has given money to the Support Egypt Fund and hopes that the golden years of Cairo as the Paris of Africa will return. She knows the remaining Jews live in fear of people learning that they are Jews “because of the image of Jew being promoted as traitors and spies.” Despite her dedication, Magda has had trouble procuring an ID card. Though she now has it, most people who see it are shocked and assume that the religious designation – Jewish – is a typo. Yet the small community, however eccentric, however fearful, however female, still gathers for Rosh Hashanah in the Shaar Hashamayim shul in downtown Cairo for tefillos led by American volunteers who lead the service in Arabic, English, and Hebrew. They eat apples and honey, as well as pomegranate seeds and dates together. Magda is 63; the other five Egyptian Jewish women are over age 80. Three live in Alexandria. Despite the rumors of their incendiary underground actions, the last of the Jews will not be expelled, the government asserts, perhaps because, after investigation, the Egyptian government has decided that septuagenarian females are not true threats. And so Egypt remains, nearly devoid of Jews, haunted by its past, stirring with unrest and anger, while the Jews who once lived there and their children thrive on all continents, waiting for the last of the exiles to end. Hopefully on this Pesach.


Torah Musings The Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Dating Favorably Sarah Pachter

I recently met with a student of mine for coffee to discuss a guy she has been dating. Before we began, she pulled out her notebook and pen, ready to take notes. She was organized, well put together, and highly intelligent. It was refreshing to see a young lady putting so much work into her relationship when most of the world just assumes casual dating will lead to the perfect marriage on its own with no work required. This young woman was taking this vital decision seriously, and wanted to make sure she would marry the right one. When I asked her how her most recent date went, she opened up her notebook and proceeded to read off the issues she had with her date. “You know, Sarah, I don’t know if I’m being crazy here, but he ran a light that was

turning yellow. I wonder if this indicates disrespect for rules?” I continued to listen as she went on to describe another issue she had. “We went for a walk and he tripped. I think it was from nerves. Do you think he has anxiety?” I gently suggested that it’s possible he just lost his balance, and that perhaps running the yellow light was the responsible choice given the flow of traffic. I explained to her that she was viewing her date as if he were under a microscope. And in this case, I was acting as the “scientist,” interpreting what the microscope was showing us. Many of us feel we have a good sense of people. We think to ourselves, If I scrutinize every aspect of this date, I’ll get right down to the core of this guy (or girl). If I keep one eye (or both eyes) open, then I’ll

really see their true colors, and be able to determine if this person is right for me. Unfortunately, our dates can usually notice when they are being treated as a specimen under a microscope, and although we mean no harm – and judge only in an effort to see the true colors of the person – it ends up backfiring. This lovely young lady was probably experiencing this with the young man she was dating. In my years of teaching, I have found that this type of experience happens so often that it would be nearly impossible for me to track down every student who has shared this experience with me. I understand why these “daters” tend to focus deeply on superficial matters. After hearing one too many dating horror stories, it is natural to be terrified that people will not be who we think they are. Many people ask me the question, “How can I see through the other person’s mask to see the person underneath?” Well, think about what makes us clam up. Suppose you walk into a room and everyone is staring at you with a look of disapproval. Suddenly you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin. Was it something I said? Is it my clothing? What is wrong with me? Your mind starts running a mile a minute with self-doubting thoughts. In such a scenario, anyone would become hypersensitive and put up a protective front. If your date feels they are under a microscope, they will create an even stronger barrier, leaving us without any real clarity as to who that person really is. The Torah offers another solution. “Dan et kol ha’adam lekaf zechut,” (Pirkei Avot 1:6). People generally think that this sentence means, “Judge every person favorably.” What a beautiful idea! We win because we increase our own positive frame of mind, and the other person wins because no one likes to feel judged. When we judge others favorably, we don’t give off a “judgmental vibe,” and in turn, the other person feels more open and willing to be real with us. However, the phrase means more than that. The sentence writes dan kol ha’adam, meaning “judge the whole person with favor.” We cannot focus too closely on the details, taking one statement that the other person makes and determine that they are not right for us. He or she is a whole,

dynamic person. They have feelings, a history, and a future. We must be willing to take time to really get to know the entire person before deciding his or her worth. If you judge favorably, you will actually see the whole person, who will then feel comfortable enough to reveal their true self. At that point we can begin to see enough of the person to truly determine whether they are right for us. We think that when we do Hashem’s mitzvot, we are doing an act of chessed. But really, the chessed is also for us, because it affects who we choose as a marriage partner, a friend, or anyone else entering our lives. We gain the most from this small act of kindness. It is important to remember that judging favorably does not equal excusing inappropriate behavior. We cannot rationalize genuinely bad behavior, or lie to ourselves about what we see in another. We must endeavor to be reasonable, clear-headed, and honest in how we see them. Perfecting this carefully-balanced approach requires practice, and by nature, requires a certain amount of judgment. After all, we are judging to see if this person is right for us. But there is a difference between judging the relationship, and judging the person. Doing so leaves the other person still feeling whole and worthy, despite the relationship not working out. We owe it to ourselves, and to our date, to do so carefully. Finding a life partner is one of the most complex, challenging, and exhilarating experiences we will go through in this world, and we cannot do it alone. Just as G-d gives us tools to help us uncover the mask of the person we are dating, He has also gifted us with the tool of prayer. We can always turn toward Him to ask for clarity in making the proper decision about our date. My blessing and hope for every person navigating the challenging dating world, is that Hashem should give you the clarity to see what you need to see. He should open your eyes, help you to shed your own mask, and ultimately allow you to see the true essence of the other person. If we take the time to shed our own masks, and use these valuable tools to help the other person be the most genuine version of him or herself while dating, then we are well on our way to setting ourselves up for a long and successful marriage.

The Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

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Bonus Book Review Feature The Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

A Malach in Our Midst: The Legacy of a Treasured Rebbi, Harav Mosheh Twersky, Hy”d by Rabbi Yehoshua Berman Reviewed by Deborah L. Gordon

Nissan is an auspicious time of year; the Jewish people were redeemed from Mitzrayim and became Hashem’s holy nation. It is therefore fitting to pay tribute to one of the brightest of our nation, Rav Mosheh Twersky, Hy”d, who was murdered in the Har Nof Massacre in November 2015. In his preface to his biography of his beloved rebbi, Rabbi Yehoshua Berman explains one reason why we read (and write) biographies of gedolim; since klal yisrael is a one unified body, the great ones among us demonstrate the most magnificent parts of us. We read about them and “gaze upon the finest, most spiritually developed aspect of Klal Yisrael...It’s an uplifting experience that is borne of the joy and pleasure that one derives from perceiving oneself – within the context of being an inextricable part of the Klal – at one’s best.” Of course when reading the biography

of a gadol, we are saddened by the loss of such an individual, however even more painful is the way in which Rav Twersky’s life came to such an abrupt end. On the 25th of Cheshvan, 5775 (2015), as they davened shacharis, Rav Twersky, Rav Kalman Levine, R’ Avraham Goldberg, R’ Aryeh Kupinsky, and Rabbi Chaim Yechiel Rothman were murdered by gun- and hatchet-wielding Arab terrorists in the Kehillas Bnei Torah shul of Har Nof, Jerusalem. Although his life ended in a horrific way, making a kiddush Hashem, even in death, was “the natural culmination… A totally straight, smooth continuum between a life of kiddush Hashem and a death of kiddush Hashem,” said Rav Mayer Twersky, Rav Mosheh Twersky’s brother. What does a life of kiddush Hashem look like? From every page of the book Berman was able to transmit not only the actions of such a person, but the feelings,


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intentions, and multiple layers of wisdom that were part and parcel of Rav Twersky. This well-researched tribute to Rav Twersky is jam-packed with first-hand accounts, photos, and divrei Torah, and demonstrates a life of serving Hashem with the intellect and exactitude to halachah on the one hand, and the passion for avodas Hashem on the other. Being a descendent of the Brisker Rav on his mother’s side, and the dynasty of Chernobyl Chassidus on his father’s side, Rav Twersky synthesized these two, contrasting approaches to Torah. Rav Twersky, however, always free of airs, felt his lineage was a “mandate to live up to.” One of his favorite expressions was, “What you want, you get.” Already from a young age, Mosheh Twersky wanted the deep connection and unity to Hashem of his great ancestors. As a child and young adult in Boston, Mosheh Twersky was his grandfather Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s main disciple, with whom he spent many, many hours learning. Although well-advanced and ambitious for his age, Mosheh was a “normal” child, playing ball with friends, well-liked, and humble, always humble. The heart of the biography is found in the chapters, “Torah Study,” “Insatiable Talmid,” and “Nurturing the Next Generation.” These sections impart a full expression of who Rav Twersky was – a student and a teacher, mostly from the perspective of chevrusas and students, but also include his own beautiful divrei Torah. Reb Akiva Bergman, a closed talmid, remembers, “I will never forget one Purim – at the height of the festivities – how Rav Twersky literally screamed: “We need to learn Torah until it is absorbed into our blood!” Rav Twersky learned constantly, in fact the book highlights how every moment

was accounted for – and when he came home before doing anything else, even eating, he’d sit down and learn. In this day and age of segulos, Rav Twersky held that learning was the “greatest segulah.” Although Rav Twersky had mastery in every area of Torah study, the development of his talmidim was no less important to him. “He didn’t teach Gemara, he taught talmidim.” He was always at yeshiva – even if it meant walking through a blizzard to get to Toras Moshe, where he was a beloved rebbi. He created an atmosphere which encouraged questions, desiring that his students achieve a full understanding of the sugya. And Rav Twersky also extended an open invitation for students to come to his home for the Friday night Shabbos seudah, a privilege that the bachurim were thrilled to have. Some of the most touching vignettes about Rav Twersky highlighted his interactions with others – especially his precious talmidim. Rav Twersky’s devotion is encapsulated by the statement “he was like a father to them;” even concerned with what they were eating, for example, yet also their “gateway to ruchnius…Rebbi’s daily shiur was an hour of pure delight… Each moment of Rebbi’s time was like a diamond too precious to quantify (p.133).” Even though Rav Twersky was always serious, many testify to the fact that he radiated simchah, and was had a positive and forward-moving outlook. He kept many chumros (stringencies) in halachah, ate little, and was extremely private about his avodos Hashem, yet he didn’t impose any of his stringencies on his family. The biography of a man as great as Rav Twersky would be incomplete without the inclusion of his wife, Rebbetzin Bashy Twersky. Daughter of the gadol Rav Abba Berman, an alter Mirer, Rebbetzin Twersky was the Rav’s full partner, and she writes about their differing personalities, her admiration for him, the intense, spiritual quality he infused into the home, and his role as a devoted father. After reading this biography, one walks away with many emotions, but what can be most felt is awe that we had such greatness in our generation, and the feeling of one wanting to be more, to do more, to take a little spark of the great light that was Rav Mosheh Twersky and incorporate it into one’s self.

Parenting The Week In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Proactive Parenting: The Tall Tale Sara Teichman, Psy D

Dear Dr. T., I would like to hear your opinion on how to deal with my five year old son who is an expert in adding details to stories that never actually occurred (or entirely making them up from scratch). The only way I find out it’s not a true story is by repeating it to him and telling him I’m going to call so-and-so to verify. When he admits that what he told me wasn’t exactly how it happened, he takes off a few details but doesn’t admit to making it up. Is it wrong at this age to act this way? And if so, how should it be dealt with? Sima Dear Sima, I have been asked about children “lying” many times, because, I imagine, this is an issue that is quite troublesome for many a parent. The tall tale, the unknown items that the child claims were “given” to him, the exaggerated story of heroics and mishap – are these lies or signs of immaturity? We as a people greatly value the quality of emes, and the thought that a child is less than truthful is unsettling for us. Because we take the responsibility of chinuch very seriously, we may feel compelled to deal stringently with the offender, perhaps forgetting that he is only a small child. Let me begin by saying that your child’s imagination and tall tales are perfectly normal for his age. Because children develop gradually, in stages, by age five they still have a strong imagination. For example, it is typical for the young child to create fantastical tales of other children’s misdeeds and the ensuing havoc they wreak in his school. Because it is not until the age of eight or nine that children begin to distinguish between fantasy and reality, the young child is unaware that he is confabulating and actually believes his stories. So, at age five, your son is developmentally right where he should be, and you can look forward to his growing ability to distinguish between fantasy and truth/reality as he matures. In the meantime, it would be helpful for you to be mindful of the fact that telling the truth is something that children learn over the years, not something they know from birth.

The knowledge that your son’s behavior is appropriate and typical for his age should inform your reaction – your thinking and behavior. Your son is acting like the five year old he is. No worries here, just the young child conflating fact and fiction. Yet as we all know, chinuch is a longterm process. Here are some appropriate yet pleasant ways we can start teaching our children about the value of emes. • Begin by teaching the difference between truth and fiction, e.g. “That was a great story!” or “You make up the best stories!” We are acknowledging the difference between fact and fiction here, but it is in a totally factual, nonjudgmental way. • Show our child that we understand that some of his “lies” are wishes. When he says that Savta is taking him to Disneyland, we can say, “I bet you wish Savta could take you to Disneyland.”

• Do not allow the thought that your child is bad, a liar, etc. to even cross our mind! Not only is that assessment untrue, but it may become a self-fulfilling prophesy, i.e. if we think it will happen, it will. Negative predictions are harmful to our child.

need to model the desired behavior. The segulah for emes is emes. So, tell the truth! Whether it’s our word or our promise, convenient or not, let’s be a model of truthfulness for our children and be zocheh to see the nachas of their following in our footsteps.

• Don’t label (or allow anyone else – spouse, grandparent, teacher – to label) the child “a liar,” because labels tend to encourage the kind of behavior that we don’t want.

The Book Nook: The Positive Discipline Parenting tools book contains 49 most effective methods to stop power struggles, build communication, and raise capable kids. The authors – Jane Nelson, Mary Tamborski, and Brad Ainge – show how encouragement, not force or control, is the basic tool in the parents’ arsenal.

• Do not get into a battle about telling the truth. That battle quickly becomes a power struggle and teaches our child everything about power and control, but nothing about telling the truth. Perhaps the most important point of all in teaching middos tovos is that parents

Sara Teichman, Psy D. is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles and Clinical Director of ETTA, L.A.’s largest Jewish agency for adults with special needs. To submit a question or comment, email

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• Teach (a bit older) child why it is important to tell the truth, e.g. “When people tell us the truth, we know we can trust them.”

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• Notice when our child tells the truth and let him know that you are pleased. We might say, “I am so glad that you told me that you spilled some water so we can clean it up now before someone slips.”


In addition to the positive reactions described above, I also want to caution you against negative, punitive reactions that are counter-productive.

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Jewish The WeekHistory In News By Rabbi Pini Dunner Rav of Young Israel North Beverly Hills

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Jewish History

Memoirs Of A Forgotten Rabbi The Troubled Life Of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Ferber

Part V Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Ferber (1883-1966) was a Lithuanian-born Torah scholar who spent most of his adult life as the spiritual leader of a small community in the West End of London. He remained there for over 50 years, struggling to maintain his dignity and his principles in a setting that was completely indifferent to the things he found important. His relationship with the lay-leadership of his community, as well as with his fellow employees, was fraught with difficulty and tension, as they were all people devoid of any sensitivity to Jewish ritual law and they tended to run the synagogue as a moneymaking operation, without taking Jewish law or the rabbi into consideration. In 1938, Rabbi Ferber began writing his memoirs, recording his life story, including the history of his hometown, Slabodka, and details of his family origins and how he had ended up as an immigrant rabbi in England. The memoirs disappeared after his death, and resurfaced at auction a few years ago, eventually ending up in the hands of Rabbi Pini Dunner, who at that time lived in London. After introducing us to the fascinating story of the memoirs and how they ended up in his possession, Rabbi Dunner now reveals Rabbi Ferber’s own narrative, and presents the memoirs, translated and published here for the very first time since they were written. This is the second excerpt, and resumes the story of Slabodka. The translation presented here is not a word-for-word rendition of the original Hebrew, although Rabbi Dunner has stuck to it as closely as possible, with the exception of when the Rabbinic Hebrew makes an exact translation difficult, or where ambiguities need to be corrected. The material has also been abridged where necessary, excluding extraneous details that disrupt the narrative.


After the passing of Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor, opposition erupted in Slabodka against the new administration of

the yeshiva. The yeshiva had originally been established according to the principles of the “Mussar” (Jewish ethics) movement, but critics claimed the new administration did not know what they were doing, and were not fulfilling the yeshiva’s core mission. The main teacher at the yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Rabinowitz, had just been appointed as the rabbi of Gorzhd, which meant that the principle figure of authority had left, resulting in the controversial changes in the way the yeshiva was run. Students at the yeshiva openly rebelled against the new administration, and Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Rabinowitz also joined the chorus of opposition. Another significant rabbi opposed to the new administration was the chief rabbi of Ritova, Rabbi Avraham Aaron Burstein, the celebrated “illui” of Kamenitz, later chief rabbi of Tavrig, who was a teacher at the yeshiva before Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Rabinowitz arrived. Leading the opposition to the new administration was Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan’s son, the new rabbi of Kovno, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Rabinowitz, together with the rabbi of Slabodka, Rabbi Moshe Danishevsky. There were others as well – Rabbi Tzvi Yaakov Oppenheim of Kelm; Rabbi Meir Feimer of Slutzk; Rabbi Lipa Sharshevski of Nyesviz; Rabbi Chaim Segal, chief rabbi of Ratzk and later Yanove, who was born in Slabodka; Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Mayofis of Volkovisk – and others too. The controversy escalated until eventually the yeshiva split into two separate camps. The Mussar faction was forced to leave the building where the yeshiva had been accommodated for years, and this group moved to the “Zovchei Tzedek” study hall. Meanwhile, the group that remained formed a new yeshiva called “Knesset Beit Yitzchak” named in honor of the late Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan, under the leadership of his son, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Rabinowitz. After the departure of Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Rabinowitz, the new administration that headed the group which eventually split off engaged two rabbis to teach the students, the great scholars Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein and Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, who were brothers-in-law. Meanwhile, “Knesset Beit Yitzchak” engaged Rabbi Moshe Danishevsky to teach the boys who remained in the yeshiva building, but it became apparent that notwithstanding his qualities as an expert in Jewish law, he was not a particularly good teacher, as he lacked the necessary pedagogic skills. After about half a year “Knesset Beit Yitzchak” hired Rabbi Chaim Rabinowitz, the rabbi of Meishad who later taught in Telz yeshiva -a brilliant scholar and an excellent teacher.

He remained in Slabodka yeshiva for many years until taking up the position in Telz with Rabbi Yosef Leib Bloch. In 1900 I left Slabodka and went to Shavel, and from that point on I lost touch with the details of what was going on with the yeshiva there.

My studies in Slabodka

Growing up, I lived at home with my parents, and they took care of all my needs, as a result of which I was not bound by the study schedule at the yeshiva in Slabodka.

Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein headed the breakaway Knesset Yisrael yeshiva in Slabodka when students and former faculty members of the established yeshiva, Knesset Beit Yitzchak, decided that the new administration was taking the yeshiva in the wrong direction

I did not attend prayers at the yeshiva, nor did I attend the Mussar study sessions that took place there daily, although I very much enjoyed hearing the ethical discourses delivered at the yeshiva by the great rabbis Rabbi Yitzchak Blazer and Rabbi Naftali Amsterdam. I would always go to hear them speak, and they both had a profound influence on me. To this day their inspiration feeds into the sermons I give on High Holidays, inspiring the community to connect with G-d. Despite not being officially registered at the yeshiva, I studied the same Talmudic tractate that they were studying, and I regularly attended the Talmud lectures there. I was even privileged to hear lectures delivered by Rabbi Eliezer Gordon, the rabbi of Telz and head of Telz yeshiva, as whenever he passed through Kovno on his travels he would visit Slabodka yeshiva and teach. His lectures were spellbinding, delivered with incredible passion. I also heard lectures from Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Rabinowitz, and from

Rabbi Moshe Danishevsky. In the main, however, I studied at “Reb Abba Chatzkel’s” study house, which was where my father regularly prayed. He was heavily involved in its upkeep. Originally the study house had been a wooden building, until they built a new brick structure, and my father told me that he personally hauled the bricks for its construction. Despite this personal involvement, he chose to sit in the most inconspicuous location of the sanctuary for prayers, in the northwestern corner. My Talmud study partner a boy called Tanchum, who was from Kraknova, and I studied Shulchan Aruch with the rabbi of “Reb Abba Chatzkel’s” study house, Rabbi Zelig Halevi Tarshish, brother-in-law of Rabbi Yosef Yoizel Horowitz, the “Elder” of Novardok. I received my rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Mordechai Latzkover, one of the rabbis in Kovno, and Rabbi Binyamin Meisel, rabbi of Paneman – and they testified

Rabbi Yitzchak Blazer, one of the Mussar movements most celebrated teachers, regularly spoke at the original Slabodka yeshiva, and Rabbi Ferber eagerly attended his talks despite the fact that he was not officially enrolled at the yeshiva

that I was so familiar with the relevant material that I knew it almost totally by heart.

My studies in Shavel

As my father got older, he became weaker and his it became hard for him to earn a living. As a result of this, and after I was released from conscription into the Russian Army, I travelled to Shavel in 1900, where I studied for a year before I got married. I studied together with a group of advanced Talmud scholars, supported by a man called Yaakov Stein, who worked tirelessly to sustain us in our studies. It was in Shavel that I began to speak publicly for the first time. Initially I was tremendously apprehensive of speaking to an audience, but eventually I got used to it, and soon I became known as an accomplished orator.

My Parents

I was born to my parents in 1883. My mother was already 50 years old when I was born, and she already had grandchildren. I

Jewish The WeekHistory In News

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

was their youngest child, and their favorite. My oldest brother, Rabbi Eliezer Lipman Ferber, a very special person and a profound scholar, was chief rabbi of Koznitza at the time of my mother’s pregnancy. One day, he arrived to visit my parents and found her – a woman with grandchildren - pregnant and weak, laid up in in her bed, and when she saw him she was quite embarrassed by it all. My brother told her not to worry, and remarked that perhaps she would have cause to be even more proud of this child than of all her previous children. As I grew up I witnessed my parents decline in health, and I experienced what it meant to go without. My parents ate less so that their children could eat. They also regularly hosted Torah scholars and yeshiva students to eat at our home on Shabbats and weekdays, and numerous famous rabbis began their rabbinic careers around my parents’ table. Although my father was not himself a learned man, he loved Torah with all his heart, and had a profound respect for all Torah scholars. He often told me about the

Yitzchak Elchanan taking walks on that bridge, accompanied by one or two people, his eyes closed and his mouth uttering words of Torah – it was truly a wonder to behold.) Rabbi Eliasberg began his career as the rabbi of Zezmir, and later replaced Rabbi Yaakov Benditman as chief rabbi of Bauska. I heard from elderly people who knew him in their youth that Rabbi Eliasberg had incredible powers of concentration, and immersed himself in the study of Torah day and night. He was one of the first to be active in the Chovevei Zion organization, working to create communities in the Holy Land and to support those who went to live in them. He died in 1889, and I still vividly remember the shock caused by his passing. Every community held public eulogies, and in Kovno he was eulogized by Rabbi Noach Rabinowitz, a fantastic orator and moving eulogizer, and Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan remained in attendance for the entire eulogy, which was highly unusual, as he was extremely weak. One of my father’s brothers, the eldest of his siblings, was called Pesach Ferber. I remember him well, although when I knew him he was already an old man. He had one son – Dovid Meir – who was a lawyer, I believe, and he moved to the United States. When my Uncle Pesach died, he was buried in Slabodka cemetery, and I remember attending his funeral. My father also had another brother called Abraham Ferber, who moved to America, and a sister called Miriam Dina, and another sister whose name I have forgotten – I think her name was Rona – and they all moved to America.

My Mother and her Family

Rabbi Mordechai Eliasberg spent his formative adult years at the home of his father-in-law Markil Kadishsohn, Rabbi Ferber’s great-uncle, in Kovno. He was very active in the pre-Zionist movement, Chovevei Zion, raising money for the early Land of Israel settlements and settlers

speeches and sermons he had heard from the famous rabbinic leader, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter. The wealthy philanthropist, Markil Kadishzon of Kovno, was his uncle, and when Sir Moses Montefiore and his wife passed through Kovno in 1846, they stayed at his home. Sir Moses later said that they had not experienced such a wonderful hosted stay throughout their many travels over the years as they had at the home of Markil Kadishzon.

Rabbi Mordechai Eliasberg

Markil Kadishzon’s son-in-law was the celebrated rabbinic scholar, Rabbi Mordechai Eliasberg, chief rabbi of Zezmir and later Bauska. Kadishzon personally took care of his son-in-law’s needs for many years, and while under his father-in-law’s patronage, Rabbi Eliasberg took advantage of his proximity to Rabbi Eliyahu Rogoler, then rabbi of Slabodka, and they studied together on a regular basis, as only a bridge over the Villia River separated Kovno from Slabodka. (I vividly remember Rabbi

I remember seeing my parent’s betrothal contract from the year 1852, recording my father’s engagement to my mother, Chana Devora, daughter of Rabbi Dovid Dushkes. I never knew my grandparents – neither my father’s parents, nor my mother’s – although I did know two of my mother’s brothers when I was very young. Her brother Yaakov was a very distinguished and G-d fearing man, a fruit wholesaler by trade. He lived near the synagogue, and always made time for Torah study, and I remember hearing from my mother that in his youth he had studied at the yeshiva of the celebrated scholar Rabbi Mordechai Meltzer of Vilna. I recall that when he died he was eulogized in the courtyard outside the synagogue in Slabodka. My mother’s other brother, Isaac, was also a fruit wholesaler. Like Yaakov, he also lived close to the synagogue. Isaac had one son – Yehuda – who moved to America. Besides for these two brothers, my mother also had a sister, although I do not remember her name. My mother was constantly reading Torah books, and she was always able to share wise statements from the sages of the Talmud and later great rabbis. She constantly worked to inspire us to be fine, upstanding, Torah-true Jews, and she hired scholars and yeshiva rabbis to teach us, and sacrificed so much to ensure that we had only the best teachers. She also sacrificed everything she and my father had to look after poor people and Torah scholars, and she always showed them great respect.

I particularly remember the respect she showed the beadle of the old synagogue, the righteous R. Chaim Yaakov. She told me that he once walked for miles to repay a debt of just a single penny, so that he wouldn’t be guilty of the sin of stealing. She also showed great respect to Rabbi Mordechai, who taught at the yeshiva in Rubno – who used to eat at our house when he studied at Slabodka yeshiva, besides for the many others who I heard ate at our house during their time at the yeshiva, whose names I can no longer remember. I once heard from the illustrious scholar, Rabbi Ahron Yosef Bakst, chief rabbi of Suwalk, then Lomza, and finally Shavel, that he was a regular guest at our home as a young man during his time in Slabodka. My father hosted a prayer group at our home, and the rabbi who gave sermons and ethical discourses to those who attended ate with us every Shabbat. My mother regularly visited Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan to seek his counsel and blessings, and he showed her great respect. In fact she was in the habit of seeking the blessings of any great rabbi she came across. She told us that she knew the great rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, chief rabbi of Brisk and author of “Beit Halevi”, when he was a single, young man. She said that even as a young boy he was already a very spiritual and holy person, and an exceptional Torah scholar. She believed that this was inherited from his mother, a special and righteous woman who was the granddaughter of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin. Rabbi Yosef Dov’s father, Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, was the local government appointed rabbi, and he came from the family of the wealthy tycoon, Aba Soloveitchik of Kovno. She remembered that Rabbi Yosef Dov studied in his youth at Slabodka yeshiva.

My Brother Rabbi Eliezer Lipman

My oldest brother, Rabbi Eliezer Lipman Ferber, was an exceptional scholar and a gifted speaker – really a wonderful man in every respect. He died at the age of just 39 years old, while my parents were still alive, in the town of Koznitza in the province of Grodno, in the year 1891. My mother raised him in very difficult circumstances, but already when she was pregnant she was determined that he would be a great Torah scholar. She told me that while she was pregnant with him, during long winter Friday nights, she would sit in the women’s section at the “Reb Abba Chatzkel’s” study house, just listening to the sound of the men studying Torah, so that the fetus would get used to the sound of Torah even while still inside the womb. In addition, she herself studied Torah books with great diligence and concentration during her pregnancy. She told me that all my brother wanted to do from the youngest age was to study Torah. On one occasion he couldn’t find his shoes because they had been given in for repair, so he put on his younger brother’s shoes -- which were far too small -- so that he could walk to the synagogue to study. When he got back home he couldn’t get the shoes off because the fit was so tight, and they needed to be cut of his feet in

strips. No one could work out how he had even got them on! But such was his desire to study Torah that he had put on these illfitting shoes just so that he could walk with them to the synagogue, and remarkably he didn’t feel any pain or discomfort while he was wearing them. My brother sat for seven years studying in the “Kirzner” study house, which was a wooden structure, near the meat market and the Butcher’s synagogue, which still exist today, although the “Kirzner” study house burnt down in the great fire of 1892 and was never rebuilt. My brother slept every night in the synagogue, so that he could learn from the early morning until the late night, and he only returned home once a week for Shabbat. One Shabbat he fell asleep too close to the fireplace that was lit up to warm the house for Shabbat, and he was so tired from barely sleeping all week that he didn’t wake up when the fire began to burn his bare feet. The burns made him very sick, and my mother worked for weeks to get him better. I was also told that the norm at that time was for community officials to grab young boys from the local Jewish youth and hand them over against their will for conscription into the Imperial Russian Army, as it was the community’s responsibility to hand over a mandated number of conscripts each year. The rich members of the community were able to avoid the draft for their children by bribing community officials not to take their boys. Poor people, on the other hand, had it very difficult, and one night, in the middle of the night, a community official came to grab my brother from the synagogue to hand him over to the military draft. But when the guy came into the synagogue – I believe his name was Shmerl – he was so struck by my brother’s enthusiastic studies that he stood there frozen, unable to lay a hand on him. My brother became the literal embodiment of the verse in Tehillim (97:10) “he guards the lives of his faithful ones, and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” My brother’s fame grew and grew, and he became renowned as a brilliant scholar, knowledgeable in the entire Talmud and halachic literature, and also for his devoutness and piety. He became so well-known that he came to the attention of Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov, the local rabbi, who summoned him in for a meeting. After interviewing and testing my brother, he was so impressed that a young man like him could be so knowledgeable in Talmud and halachic literature – he was literally stunned by my brother’s incredible genius – that he granted him rabbinic ordination on the spot. Similarly, Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan of Kovno granted him rabbinic ordination, and showered him with praise. NEXT TIME: MY BROTHER MARRIES INTO A DISTINGUISHED FAMILY, AND THE STORY OF HIS LIFE UNTIL HIS UNTIMELY DEATH



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APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

Russian Train Explosion Kills 14

A train in St. Petersburg was blown up by a suicide bomber on Monday. The blast killed 14 people and injured 49 more. The

attack took place on a train that had left the Sennaya Ploshchad metro station. The doors of the train car were blown out by the explosion, and post-attack videos show the entire station filled with smoke. Another device was discovered hidden in a fire extinguisher a few hours later at another metro station in St. Petersburg. The discovery led to a wave of fear across the city as investigators raced to find the terrorists responsible for the carnage. President Vladimir Putin had been visiting the city that day as part of his reelection campaign. It is Russia’s second biggest city


and Putin’s hometown. The president was quick to visit the scene of the explosion and lay flowers at a makeshift shrine to the victims. On Tuesday, Russian officials revealed that Akbardzhon Dzhalilov, a Russian from the mainly Muslim Kyrgyzstan, was the terrorist responsible for the attack. It seems he was Muslim, but relatives say that he wasn’t radicalized. Officials said his DNA was also found on the bag holding the second – undetonated – bomb in the other train station. He carried the bomb onto the train in his knapsack. Both bombs contained shrapnel; the second bomb had 2.2 pounds of explosives in it. According to security experts, Russia’s involvement and military intervention in Syria has made it a potential target for attacks by ISIS and other radical Islamic groups. The attack is being treated by Russian authorities as an act of terrorism. Experts say it is likely the Kremlin will argue that the attack – if motivated by radical Islam – highlights the importance of their backing of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Others will likely counter that it is proof that Putin was wrong for intervening in Syria. Russia has been attacked by extremists before. ISIS claimed responsibility for bringing down a plane carrying 224 Russian tourists home from a Red Sea resort two years ago.

Chemical Attack in Syria

On Tuesday, at least 72 Syrian civilians were killed in the town of Khan Sheikhun by a suspected chemical attack. Dozens more suffered from respiratory problems and symptoms, including vomiting, foaming at the mouth, and fainting. At least 11 children’s lives were lost in the attack. Hours after the initial attack – in which planes dropped plumes of toxic gas – air strikes also hit a hospital in the town where doctors were treating victims, bringing down rubble on top of medics as they worked. Syria’s opposition blamed President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, saying the attack cast doubt on the future of peace talks. A senior Syrian security source denied claims of regime involvement as a “false accusation,” telling AFP that opposition forces were trying to “achieve

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in the media what they could not achieve on the ground.” If confirmed, it would be one of the worst chemical attacks since the start of Syria’s civil war six years ago. Nations around the world swiftly condemned the attack; France’s President Francois Hollande denounced it and called it a “massacre.” “We heard strikes this morning... We ran inside the houses and saw whole families just dead in their beds. Children, women, old people dead in the streets,” resident Abu Mustafa said. Khan Sheikhun is in Syria’s Idlib province, which is largely controlled by an alliance of rebels including former al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front. The province is regularly targeted in strikes by the regime, as well as by Russian warplanes, and has also been hit by the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, usually targeting jihadists. Syria’s government officially joined the Chemical Weapons Convention and turned over its chemical arsenal in 2013, as part of a deal to avert U.S. military action. That agreement came after hundreds of people – up to 1,429, according to a U.S. intelligence report – were killed in chemical weapons strikes allegedly carried out by Syrian troops east and southwest of Damascus. Despite that, there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

The Last Jew in Pakistan?



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Fishel Benkhald, a native of Pakistan, regards himself as a Jew, although he was raised as a Muslim. Born to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, Benkhald – who was once known as Faisel – was registered as a Muslim but has changed his religion with the permission of Pakistan’s interior ministry. It is rather unusual for the Paki-

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stani government to allow “conversion” requests. “The applicant may be allowed to practice [the] religion of [his] choosing and preference,” decided the ministry after Benkhald urged the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to allow him to identify as a Jew in his national identity documents. Despite his conversion, the latest U.S. State Department Report on International Religious Freedom notes that it is Pakistan’s policy “not to allow citizens, regardless of religious affiliation, to travel to Israel.”

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

“I studied Islam in childhood. But I never practiced it as a religion,” Benkhald confessed. Previously, he would have been deemed a traitor had he identified himself as a Jew without the consent of the ministry. The media has dubbed Benkhald the “last Jew in Pakistan.” However, many claim that there is a small Jewish community that has survived persecution in the predominantly Muslim country by maintaining a low profile. According to an anonymous Pakistani official familiar with the data, there are 745 “registered Jew families.”

Benkhald’s hometown of Karachi was once home to the largest concentration of Jews in Pakistan — nearly 2,500 at the beginning of the twentieth century, reports the Jewish Virtual Library. According to that organization’s data, there are about 200 Jews remaining in Pakistan. “Some Jewish families do remain, but they prefer to pass themselves off as Parsis [followers of the ancient Zoroastrian religion] due to the intolerance for Jews in Muslim Pakistan,” notes the Jewish Virtual Library. The U.S. State Department also notes that religious minorities, particularly Christians and Jews, face discrimination

and persecution in Pakistan. “According to reports from the Jinnah Institute and other monitoring organizations, some public school textbooks continued to include derogatory statements about minority religious groups, including Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Christians. The monitoring groups said the teaching of religious intolerance remained widespread,” reported the State Department in 2015. Pakistan does not recognize the State of Israel and often joins Arab-initiated moves against the Jewish country in the United Nations as a show of Muslim solidarity.



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Colombian Town Buried in Avalanche




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Mocoa, Colombia, is a small town on a riverbank. Late Friday night the town faced unthinkable destruction when heavy rains sent floodwaters, mud, and debris rushing over homes in the small Southern city. By daybreak on Saturday the roads were coated in thick sand, mud, and tree parts. Residents scrambled to dig through the debris to find their possessions and locate their loved ones. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday that at least 273 people were killed in the natural disaster, and unfortunately they expect the death toll to change “every moment.” Authorities revealed that about 200 people were unaccounted for and another 200 people, including many children, were injured. Hundreds are displaced and now homeless. President Santos declared the city a disaster zone. After the avalanche, the Air Force transported 19 patients to a city farther north and said 20 more would be evacuated soon. Medicine and surgical supplies were being sent to the city as the area’s regional hospital struggled to cope with the magnitude of the crisis. As of Monday, partial electricity was restored to the area. 20 tons of aid arrived for survivors as rescue workers combed through debris in search of life. Residents struggled to obtain clean water, creating a potentially fatal hazard for those who survived the tragedy. Santos says that he believes that climate change is responsible for the avalanche. He said that the accumulated rainfall in one night was almost half the amount Mocoa usually gets in the entire

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month of March. He urged local and national authorities to focus their efforts on preventing similar disasters. Before the disaster 40,000 people called Mocoa their home.

Malaysia and North Korea Strike a Deal

Malaysia and North Korea completed a bitter exchange that has been pending for several weeks. Last week Malaysia returned the body of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. About a month ago Kim Jong Nam was murdered at Kuala Lumpur’s airport in what is believed to have been an assassination orchestrated by

North Korea. After what Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak described as “very sensitive” negotiations, the nine Malaysians that were being held in Pyongyang since Nam’s murder were returned home as part of the deal. In exchange, North Korea won custody of the body and the release of at least two suspects who had been holed up in its embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysians — three embassy workers and six family members including four children — were flown home in a government jet and greeted by Foreign Minister Anifah Aman at the airport. Anifah said their safe return reflected “diplomacy at its best” but declined to provide further details on the deal with North Korea. Kim Jong Nam was poisoned by a deadly chemical on February 13. Malaysia hasn’t directly accused North Korea of being responsible for the murder but there have been suggestions from politicians and media around the world. The chemical used, VX nerve agent, which is banned and unavailable in most parts of the world, is believed to be available in North Korea. North Korea has denied the accusation and has dismissed it as politically motivated. In fact, North Korea has not even acknowledged the victim is Kim Jong Nam, referring to him instead as Kim Chol, the

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name on the passport he had on him when he was killed. However, they then demanded custody of the body, claiming that the victim was a citizen of North Korea

Ecuador’s New President

Ferrari Plot Foiled Desperate times call for desperate measures. An Italian drug gang was cashstrapped so they devised a bizarre plot to uncover the body of legendary automaker Enzo Ferrari and hold it for ransom. It seems like crooks have become more creative, as of late. Just before this unusual scam was carried out, Italian police interceded. Last week, in an enormous raid involving hundreds of officers, 34 people were arrested in northern Italy. Police closed in on the criminals at the site of Ferrari and his father Modena’s graves just as they were about to launch the plan that had been brewing for the last year and half.



Ferrari died almost three decades ago in 1988 at the age of 90 and was buried in central Italy in a town called Modena. His tomb has a model Ferrari resting on top. Modena is where Ferrari founded the luxury car company in 1939 as Auto Avio Costruzioni. Col. Saverio Ceglie, head of the carabinieri, or military police, in the province of Nuoro, said the gang is part of Anonima Sequestri, known as the kidnapping specialists of organized crime operations on the Italian island of Sardinia. “The gang had prepared everything in detail,” Ceglie noted. Individual members were identified as being in charge of drawing up the plans, stealing the body itself, and delivering the ransom demand to the Ferrari family, he said. Ceglie added that authorities kept the Ferraris informed about the plot throughout the investigation, which he said had been “in the works for years but never succeeded because of our extensive efforts.” Authorities said there are another 11 individuals under investigation who were not apprehended at the scene. The officers also seized a large amount of cocaine and weapons from the gang.

Citizens of Ecuador sat at the edge of their seats late Sunday as the presidential election was neck-to-neck. The two candidates running for office were polling within 3 percentage points with over 96% of the votes counted. In the end, leftist candidate Lenin Moreno of the ruling Alianza PAIS (Country Alliance) party won a narrow lead over conservative opponent Guillermo Lasso. Around 8:30 p.m. local time Moreno declared himself the winner and celebrated his victory. A nongovernmental organization that had been monitoring the result, though, said that it was an actual tie. Ecuadorean state media maintained that Moreno – the former vice president – was the successor to outgoing President Rafael Correa. His opponent Lesso is demanding a recount which can take several weeks. “Delegates from our political alliance will challenge the results,” Lasso asserted. “We will not allow a distortion of the popular will.” Lasso urged his supporters to take to the streets to peacefully protest the result. “Let’s act in a peaceful but firm manner,” Lasso’s tweet read. “We must go to the streets and say ‘don’t steal my vote’ because we want a change in Ecuador.” Moreno, who is confined to a wheelchair, challenged the allegation that there was fraud. “We have completely accurate data,” he said. “We have won the elections.” He tweeted a photo of his victory speech with the message: “Long live Ecuador! Welcome fighters of peace and of life.” “Official results from the National Electoral Council, a difference of more than two percentage points. Lenin [Moren] is our president,” President Correa exulted. “The moral fraud committed by the right will not go unpunished.” Moreno has promised to work “for those who voted for me and for those who did not.”

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Quotes The Week In News


APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

Notable Quotes “Say What?!”

President Trump will meet with the president of China next week to discuss Trump’s claims about China’s unfair trade practices. Which means we’re about two weeks away from having to call these [fortune cookies] “freedom cookies.” - Seth Myers

Sometimes, it’s OK to throw rocks at girls – New billboard slogan of North Carolina’s Spicer Greene Jewelers advertising their diamonds

Amazon Prime has made it possible to have beer and wine delivered to your home by Alexa. All you have to do is say the phrase, “Alexa, Daddy’s sad.” – Conan O’Brien

Every time some bomb goes off, before it goes off, somebody yells “Allahu Akbar!’” I never hear anybody go, "Merry X-mas! This one’s for the flying nun!" Please tell me this is photoshopped. Please? – Tweet by Chelsea Clinton, accompanied by this image of the cover of the 2017 Lincoln Day Dinner program for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County

Nope, sorry. Everybody knows they didn’t have photoshop back then. - One of the hundreds of response tweets

No, this is the exact hat Lincoln was wearing when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation ppl forget that - Ibid.

No, Lincoln actually wore that hat in 1865; it was found at Ford’s Theater. –Ben Shapiro’s tweet in response

– HBO’s Bill Maher

A 12-year-old girl in North Carolina correctly chose the final four in her bracket; it was amazing. Yeah, yeah, but great — just one more thing that I’m worse at than a 12-year-old girl. – James Corden

We should boycott North Korea. We should sanction Iran. We should divest from Syria, not Israel. – U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at an anti-BDS conference


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You are being run by an idiot. - From a statement addressing Americans by ISIS spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajer, who seemingly caught Trump Derangement Syndrome from the alt-left media

China is the only one that can control Kim Jung Un, this crazy fat kid that’s running North Korea. - Senator John McCain on MSNBC

John McCain…made a provocation tantamount to declaration of war against the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], the DPRK will take steps to counter it. They will have to bitterly experience the disastrous consequences to be entailed by their reckless tongue-lashing and then any regret for it will come too late. - Official response by North Korea to Sen. McCain’s comments

What, did they want me to call him a crazy skinny kid?

Hillary, stay in the woods. Okay. You had your shot. You [messed] it up. You’re Bill Buckner. We had the World Series, and you let the grounder go through your legs. – HBO’s Bill Maher responding to Hillary Clinton’s assertion that she is “ready to come out of the woods” and get involved in politics again

- Sen. McCain’s tweet in response to the threat


How the PEYD Team Traveled This Winter Vacation Family of Five to Los Angeles/Disneyland In our series documenting how the PEYD Team traveled this winter break using airline miles and credit card points to offset the cost of the airfare and hotels, we share our insider tricks, methods and best practices to help minimize any out of pocket expenses when planning one’s next vacation. In this series, we will focus on how Eli and his family took a vacation to sunny Los Angeles, which is always a great winter destination. With deluxe locations such as Disneyland typically part of the itinerary, it can also get quite pricy, as there aren’t many discounts available for the Disneyland entrance fee. Therefore the need to find cheap airfare and hotel options becomes even more necessary than with other destinations or vacation options. Points Accrual Eli was able to make this trip happen without breaking the bank by racking up miles on his Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit card, opening new airline and hotel credit cards for him and his wife based on his everyday spending, with the

intention of using these valuable miles and points towards his flights, hotel, and overall travel. One of the greatest ways to maximize reward potential using SPG points is by utilizing point transfers. Certain SPG transfers of 20,000 points or more give you an extra 5000 points when converted to airline miles, and luckily, Virgin America is within that bonus tier. Airline Choice Virgin America has direct flights to L.A. and is an airline partner with SPG as mentioned above. After researching flight options with numerous airlines, it became clear that Virgin America would offer the

cheapest possible tickets for California during his preferred travel dates. With this in mind, he opened two new Virgin America Credit Cards, in order to receive their 15,000 point bonuses after spending the minimum requirement. The 20,000 SPG points Eli had accrued plus the transfer bonus of 5000 including the two 15,000 bonus miles he had earned with the Virgin America spending bonuses left Eli with 55,000 Virgin America miles to be used for his flights. Eli then booked his trip for 56,000 airline miles (he had 1000 in his account already). As it grew nearer to his trip, Eli checked the airfare rates for his flights and noticed that the mileage cost had gotten significantly lower than it had when he originally booked. Virgin America allows customers to cancel flights free of charge so within a matter of minutes, Eli had cancelled and rebooked his tickets for a lesser amount of miles, saving himself 10,000 points in the process! Hotel Stay It was imperative for Eli and his wife

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Traffic Collision Statistics Across the Country and in Los Angeles Michael Rubinstein Esq.

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Traffic deaths across the country increased in 2016. That’s bad news for American drivers. According to a report issued by the National Safety Council, 40,200 people died on American roads in 2016. This is the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 people were killed in one year. 2016 was the second year in a row that the trend increased from the prior year. In 2015, over 35,000 people were killed across the United States in vehicle crashes.

epidemic. Many agree. Insurers are facing more claims as a result of the increase in distracted drivers causing injuries and property damage in auto collisions across the country. The increase in claims is leading to decreased auto insurance profits, leading to higher monthly premiums. Speeding is another factor responsible for the increase in automobile collisions. This leads to another seriously concerning statistic.

What is responsible for this alarming increase? Researchers believe that despite all the safety improvements and bells and whistles that are becoming standard in newer automobiles, the sad reality is that drivers are more distracted now than they ever have been in the past. Cell phone use continues to be a major factor causing distracted driving. Mobile apps like Facebook, Google Maps, and now Snapchat are responsible for collisions caused by distracted driving. Other causes of traffic injuries and deaths are unbelted drivers and passengers, and driving while impaired. While self-driving cars could eventually eliminate or drastically reduce these statistics, as it stands now, we are a long way off from this goal. In March, Uber suspended its self-driving car program after a test vehicle crashed in Arizona. It could be a while before this technology permeates the mainstream. Smartphone usage also has other consequences. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, smartphones are directly responsible for rising auto insurance premiums. State Farm CEO Michael LaRocco describes smartphone usage as an

Los Angeles Ranked Highest in U.S. for Speeding Deaths The National Safety Council ranked Los Angeles number one for speed-related fatalities from 2010 through 2015. A high number of those killed were bicyclists and pedestrians. The City has undertaken an ambitious goal to eliminate traffic fatalities of all types by 2025. We can all agree that this is not a statistic Los Angeles should be known for. Let’s hope the City succeeds in this goal. More information is available at: e n t / u p l o a d s / 2 0 1 5 / 0 8 / Vi s i o n Z e ro-LosAngeles.pdf Please slow down! You might save a life! Wishing all a chag kasher v’sameach and safe travels! Michael Rubinstein is a Los Angeles based personal injury and accident attorney. He may be reached by visiting www., or by calling 213-2936075.

APRIL 6, 2017 | The Jewish Home

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