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Volume XIII No. 1 Hesvan 5774 October 2013

DAVID STOROBIN

Ready to Fight to Uphold Our Community’s Values and Principles as He Sets Sights on City Council This is a Test… This is only a Test Rabbi Eli J Mansour Up Close with Victoria Dwek: When Hobby and Career Meet FOSSIL FRAUD Debunking the Concept of Evolution and Prehistoric Men

Special Travel Features


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Features

This is a Test… This is Only a Test

Avraham Avinu passed all his tests with flying colors…and so can we. Rabbi Eli J. Mansour

The Living Lamppost

The science behind why trees change colors in the fall, and the brilliant design that makes this possible. Tuvia Cohen

Up Close with Victoria Dwek: When Hobby and Career Meet

With her third cookbook soon to hit the shelves, we spoke to Victoria Dwek to learn how she turned her childhood passion into a successful career. Kelly Jemal Massry

David Storobin – Committed to Uphold our Community’s Values and Principles as He Sets Sights on City Council

Community activist, advocate, immigrant, and self-made lawyer, David Storobin understands local issues and values, and is looking to bring his knowledge and experience to City Council. Dave Gordon

Halachipedia – When Halachah Meets WIKI

Meet the young, ambitious Sephardic scholar who is making the in-depth study of practical halachah accessible to Jews of all backgrounds and levels of knowledge. A.D. Cohen

Shaare Torah Brings Fun and Excitement to Summer Learning

Yeshivat Shaare Torah's new and innovative Keriah 'n Action program enabled students to keep up their scholastic progress without compromising the fun and excitement of summer.

A Heart-to-Heart interview with Mayoral Candidate Jack Hidary

As November’s crucial Mayoral election approaches, we sat down with candidate Jack Hidary and asked some hard-hitting questions. A.D. Cohen

Fossil Fraud

Hominid fossils on display in museums nationwide – supposed proof of evolution – are exposed for what they really are…a hoax!

Understanding Life’s Settings

We often take far too much credit for that which was given to us, and too much blame for what wasn’t. Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Hesvan 5774 October 2013 Volume XIII Number 1

(718) 645-4460

Departments

12 46 48

Letters

50 52

Top 10 Rabbi Daniel Levy

54

Education

Sportsman Of The Month From The Files of The Bet Din Cease and Desist, Rabbi Max Sutton

Dollars and Sense Rabbi Max Anteby

You just don't understand Rivka Schonfeld

57 Travel Features

58 Places To Go, Places To See Mid-winter vacation ideas

60 Traveling Light

The guidelines for a good vacation are also great tools for the good life

62 Family Travel Tips

Top Tips to ensure your family vacation is fun and memorable

64 Shaatra Does It – Travel Frances Haddad

68 70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 88 90 92 94 96

Exploring the Wild World of Animals Ask Sito Sage Advice Professor Noe Ital Mabrouk The Chic Kitchen To Your Health Dental

Take the Test. Could you benefit from Cavity prevention? Dr. Jacques Doueck

Community Chest Incredible Stats & Facts The Lighter Side Riddles Life in the Big City Classifieds

Community Magazine is published monthly by Bnei Aram Soba, 1616 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11223. Periodicals postage paid at Brooklyn, NY, USPS Number 0021-802 (ISSN 1552-809X). Copyright 2013 Bnei Aram Soba. Subscriptions $18 or $3 when included in membership dues. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Community Magazine, 1616 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11223. Advertising and sponsorship proceeds are used exclusively for charitable purposes. Advertisements do not necessarily carry the endorsement of the Publisher. Readers should verify kashrut status independently. Ads for Internet and related services are intended for those who have a heter for use of such services. Printed in Canada.

THIS PUBLICATION CONTAINS MESSAGES OF TORAH AND HALACHOT. PLEASE HANDLE IT APPROPRIATELY.

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Volume XIII No. 1 Hesvan 5774 October 2013

DAVID STOROBIN

Ready to Fight to Uphold Our Community’s Values and Principles as He Sets Sights on City Council This is a Test… This is only a Test Rabbi Eli J Mansour Up Close with Victoria Dwek: When Hobby and Career Meet FOSSIL FRAUD Debunking the Concept of Evolution and Prehistoric Men

Special Travel Features

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LETTERS I applaud Sam Sutton and the SCF (Sephardic Community Federation) for their efforts and commitment to our community by successfully stopping the gambling casino from coming to Coney Island. Imagine what a disaster we would have had on our hands with a casino right in our own backyard. While the developers and some politicians thought this was a great idea – this is simply not the case. Proponents think that a casino is a good way to stimulate the economy by bringing money into the hands of local businesses. But history has proven that this is not true. We must not be fooled into thinking that any form of gambling is a positive action for either an individual or a community. The pain, suffering and ultimate destruction of people, families, and communities are always the outcome of the dangerous and progressive disease of gambling addiction. It was extremely brave of the SCF to not only speak out, but more importantly, take action and stop a gambling casino from being built on Coney Island. Thank you.

Robin C. It is bad enough that government officials are telling us how to live our lives (the latest attempt being the banning of large sodas in eateries). The last thing we need is one of our community organizations dictating to us how to live, as well. We are responsible adults and are capable of making our own decisions. If politicians and the SCF are so concerned that people are unable to 12

COMMUNITY MAGAZINE

make rational decisions, why do they allow bars and night clubs to remain in business? They should be concerned that people may drink excessively which can lead to people driving while intoxicated which can lead to killing innocent pedestrians. Not to mention that by allowing people to drink they are enabling people to become alcoholics. You know what – while we are at it, maybe we should close down all liquor stores! Of course, I’m not being serious about closing or banning liquor stores and bars – obviously this is an absurd statement to make. It is not a logical way of thinking – but neither is the decision to stop a casino from opening because we don’t think people are responsible enough. Why don’t we just allow adults to make their own decisions?!

Mark S. CHIC KITCHEN I’m a big fan (as well as the rest of my family) of the monthly recipes that appear in the “Chic Kitchen” feature of your magazine. I collect and save all the recipes. I do not have the time (I’m a working woman) to bother with complicated recipes, but I do enjoy serving my family and guests tasty meals with an enticing appearance. The recipes in “Chic Kitchen” are simple, the ingredients are easy to find, and the display is beautiful – what more can a cook ask for? My family is so appreciative of the new and tasty menu that I have been able to whip up. Thank you!

Bridgette T.

COMMUNITY

MARVELS OF CREATION

Volume XII No. 12

NO CASINO WILL BE BUILT ON CONEY ISLAND!

5774

Tishrei 5774 September 2013

High Holiday

Reflections

Thank you for the impressive article titled ‘Marvels of Creation’ [in the September 2013 issue]. The Rambam teaches that we are commanded to love and fear Hashem. I always thought this was an odd commandment – after all, how can a person be commanded to love Hashem? However, if a person truly observes the world that we live in and contemplates the awesome wonders of creation (as shown in the article), it is pretty difficult not to be in total awe of Hashem’s Greatness. By being aware of the magnificent marvels of creation – one cannot help but totally adore Hashem and admire all of His wonders.

"Who is Going to be Me?" Rabbi Eli J Mansour

The Alarm has Sounded! Wake up! Rabbi Dovid Sapirman

The Moment Before Creation Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Abe T

Meet JACK D. HIDARY He is Driven, he is passionate, and he is running for Mayor of NYC!

CORRECTION

In last issue’s Mabrouk! section, many of the Baby Girl announcements were incorrectly placed in the Engagements column. We apologize for the error and for any inconvenience that it may have caused.

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THIS IS A TEST... THIS IS ONLY A TEST The time has come. A young, hard-working husband and father has finally earned enough money for a down payment, and so he and his wife begin the home-hunting process. After seeing one, two, three, and a few more homes, their hearts are finally sold on a house. After some intensive negotiations and back-and-forth through their broker, the parties agree upon a price, and the lawyers begin drawing up the papers. RABBI ELI MANSOUR

A

day later, he gets a phone call. The deal is in jeopardy. The seller received another offer, and is reneging. After a few frantic phone calls and another round of tense negotiations, the ball gets rolling again and an agreement is reached. A few days later, the man receives word from the broker that the seller is again having doubts. He goes at it again, with some more tense meetings and a good deal of wrangling. Finally, after weeks of nerve-racking negotiation, the contract is signed. A couple of months later, the man and his family are comfortably settled in their new home. When he finally gets a chance to sit in his reclining chair and enjoy the beautiful, spacious living room, this fellow, if he’s like most of us, probably feels both relieved and frustrated. He is relieved that it’s over, but frustrated that he had to endure the weeks of tension and uncertainty. Our new homeowner might be comforted to know that the first recorded real estate transaction in Jewish history did not go very smoothly, either. When Avraham Avinu searched for a small piece of land to bury his wife, Sara, the native Hittim gave him a hard

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time. Although they spoke congenially and with deference, and Efron initially indicated he would allow Avraham to bury Sara in the Machpelah Cave in his property for free, Efron ultimately charged an exorbitant sum for the property. He was both greedy and a slick businessman, and this is whom Avraham had to deal with. Avraham had even more reason to be flustered. Gd had already promised that all of Canaan would be his and his offspring’s, forever. By divine right, Avraham owned not just the Machpela Cave, but the entire area. And yet when he needed a burial plot for his wife, he needed to struggle and ultimately pay an astronomical price. But Avraham did not complain. To the contrary, he felt grateful. The Torah tells that upon hearing the Hittim give his consent, Avraham bowed, and the sages explained that he bowed to express gratitude to Gd. His wife had just died, and he was forced to haggle with the natives over a burial plot in a land that was promised to him, but instead of complaining, he said thank you. He understood that Gd owes us nothing, and that everything we receive in life, regardless of how little it is in comparison to what we want, and regardless of what it took to obtain it, requires us to express gratitude.


Which is the Greater Test? The Mishnah in Avot makes mention of ten tests which Avraham passed, and the rabbis present different opinions as to what these ten tests were. According to the RENTAL ESCAPES Rambam, Avraham’s tenth and final test was akedat Yitzhak, when he complied with Gd’s unfathomable command to offer his beloved son, Yitzhak, as a sacrifice (until at the last moment Gd told him to withhold the sword, as this was just a test). However, Rabbenu Yonah maintains the Avraham’s tests still weren’t finished after the story of akedat Yitzhak. When he returned home after the akedah, the tenth and final test awaited him – the test of having to purchase a piece of land to bury his wife, a difficult process which Avraham endured without any complaint. But while we can easily understand why this episode would be considered a test, something doesn’t seem quite right. Presumably, Avraham’s ten tests unfolded as a progression, each more difficult than the previous one. We might compare this to schooling, where a student passes exams in one grade and then graduates to the next, where the demands and material are more difficult. After passing the tests in one stage, one moves onto the next, where the tests become a bit more difficult. It stands to reason that this was true in Avraham’s case, as well. After passing one test, he then moved onto a more difficult one. 1-800-208-5097 This is why the Rambam’s view +1-514-360-2529 strikes us as more intuitive. What could RentalEscapes.com/kosher possibly be a more difficult test than St. Martin • St. Barths • Jamaica • Turks & Caicos • Anguilla • Bahamas • Mexico akedat Yitzhak? This command tested Virgin Islands • Barbados • Florida • Colorado • California • Italy • France • Spain • Greece • Israel Avraham on virtually every level – emotionally, rationally and theologically. It required him to suspend one of the most basic and ingrained human emotions – a parent’s love for a child – as well as his outstanding quality of could this test possibly be more difficult than the command of the compassion and kindness. It meant subjecting himself to the ridicule akedah? We certainly admire and are awed by Avraham’s faith in and scorn of everyone who had heard him teach about morality and not questioning Gd, but can the high price of the Machpelah Cave sensitivity. He had to go against his most cherished beliefs about possibly compare to the price of sacrificing his son? How could the what Gd wants of people, and had to trust in Gd’s promise that a purchase of a burial site, difficult as it was, pose a more difficult great nation would emerge from Yitzhak, even as Yitzhak would now challenge than the command of the akedah? be killed. It certainly appears that this was the test of tests, which Fireworks and Streetlamps completed the process of Avraham’s trials. One answer is that the most significant tests in life are the ones that Rabbenu Yonah, however, disagreed. In his view, there was another, more difficult, test that Avraham had to pass after returning we cannot prepare for. When a person has a job interview scheduled, from akedah – haggling with the Hittim. And we must ask, how he prepares ahead of time, ensuring that he comes across as polished

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HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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and impressive as possible. But if he happens to meet his prospective boss while shopping, without knowing who he is, he will not come across as impressive. The same is true about the tests in life. If somebody has surgery scheduled for the following week, and was told that the recovery will be slow and painful, the process will certainly pose a difficult test, but at least he can mentally prepare himself for it. He can use the time to tell himself to be strong, to consult with people who have gone through the process, and to receive encouragement from friends and family. By the time he goes in for this major test of life, he is well prepared to handle it.

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When Avraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, he immediately understood that this was a test. He knew this was a major event that would have ramifications for countless generations. He knew the cameras were on him, soto-speak, that this was a singular event that demanded mustering all his strength and drawing from his deep wellsprings of faith. There was no question that this was a time for him to shine. But then there are the “little” tests in life, the ones we don’t expect, cannot anticipate, and do not necessarily recognize as tests. A man rushes out of the house to get to work for an important meeting, and he sees he has a flat tire. A woman is looking forward to an enjoyable lunch with some friends, but gets a call from the school nurse that her son is sick and being sent home. A child is playing ball in the house and breaks an expensive lamp. And so on and so forth. Everyone can think of many little bumps in the road that they encounter almost on a daily basis. Seldom, if ever, is life perfectly smooth. There are so many small mishaps that test our patience and our middot. So, which is the greater test – a major operation and eight-week recovery, or a flat tire? On the one hand, the operation is clearly more difficult and has a far more significant effect on one’s life, but on the other hand, the flat tire does not immediately strike us as a test. The everyday bumps on the road challenge us specifically because they are normal, everyday occurrences. We cannot mentally prepare ourselves for the flat tire or the babysitter’s last minute cancellation. We have to remain calm and accept the situation without having a chance to think things over. So yes, in a sense, this is a greater challenge than the operation. According to Rabbenu Yonah, this was true of Avraham Avinu, as well. Akedat Yitzhak was clearly a dramatic and historic event that he knew required him to rise to the occasion. But when he had trouble buying a plot of land, this was a “normal” hurdle to overcome. And thus in one sense, it was even more impressive that Avraham did not fall apart or even flinch, and accepted everything calmly and with unwavering faith in Gd. We might compare Avraham’s final two tests to fireworks and a streetlamp. Which is more impressive? On the one hand, of course, fireworks are far more dramatic, lighting the sky in a dazzling array


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is fully operational and the spectators will be treated to a breathtaking display. The streetlamp, however, is lit each and every night, and is bound to burn out at some point. Because it is so normal and ordinary, the people in charge are less likely to ensure its ongoing functioning. Akedat Yitzhak was like the “fireworks,” a dazzling, once-in-history display of awesome faith and personal strength. The purchase of the Machpelah Cave, meanwhile, was the “streetlamp,” an ordinary bump in the road. And as we can all personally attest, these common bumps can easily cause us to “burn out” and lose our cool. The fireworks almost always work. When we are faced with a significant test, Heaven forbid, we recognize the need to gather our strength and rise to the occasion. But the streetlamps, the everyday challenges of life, can so easily rattle us. And this is why we were given the Torah which tells of our righteous patriarchs and matriarchs from whom we can learn and gain inspiration, helping us to overcome both the big and small tests that life sends us.

Smiling on a Bad Day There is another aspect of Avraham’s final test which conveys a powerful lesson that can and must be applied every LUXURY day of our lives. S D BRAN Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (1910DESIGNER 1995) was once walking in the hallway UP in a Jerusalem hospital when he saw a student of his. He greeted the student 904 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 11230 with his characteristic warmth, and asked Tel.: 718-513-3708 Store hours: Sunday 11-6 • Monday to Friday 10-7 •Saturday close why he was in the hospital. The student jubilantly informed the rabbi that his wife had just given birth. Rav Shlomo Zalman’s face lit up, and he wished the of colors, as opposed to the “boring” streetlamp that produces just young man an emphatic “mazal tov” and hugged him. a small yellow light. On the other hand, fireworks light up the sky This would not have been a noteworthy incident if not for the fact for just a few brief moments, and to begin with are only displayed that Rav Shlomo Zalman was in the hospital because he had just been on the Fourth of July. The simple streetlamp, by contrast, remains lit notified that his wife passed away. throughout the night, every night, and plays a crucial role in making The rabbi was asked why he expressed such joy and enthusiasm the street navigable and safe. just after learning about the loss of his beloved wife. He explained, And which of these two forms of illumination is more likely “It’s not his problem that I’m in pain.” to malfunction – the fireworks display over the Hudson River on One of the remarkable characteristics of the tzadikim is the July 4th, or the streetlamp in front of our home? Preparations for control they exert over their emotions. They experience the same the fireworks display get underway many weeks in advance of strong feelings as the rest of us, but they do not allow those feelings July 4th, and every precaution is taken to ensure that the system to control them. Instead, they control their emotions. Rav Shlomo

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Zalman understood his responsibility to share in his student’s joy, and he did not let his personal state of bereavement get in the way of this responsibility. He held his feelings in check so he could fulfill his obligations to his student. Many people buckle under pressure and compromise their ideals. During tense, difficult situations, they feel justified breaking the rules. So often we hear people excuse rudeness and even the use of obscenities on the grounds of “I’ve had a bad day.” Too many businessmen allow themselves some “ethical leeway” when the going gets rough or when the stakes are high. But this is not how it should be. Our values must govern our

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conduct under all circumstances, even when things are difficult. “I’m having a bad day” is no excuse for being discourteous, dishonest or insensitive, or for neglecting Torah law. As soon as Avraham returned home from the akedah, he found that his wife had died. It is difficult to imagine the feelings that raged in Avraham’s heart at those moments, especially coming so soon after the drama and emotion he had just experienced atop Mount Moriah. And now, faced with the responsibility to bury his beloved wife, he is forced to deal with the shadowy and avaricious natives. The situation was difficult and harrowing, and even absurd (recall that the land was, technically, his), and yet he spoke to the Hittim with the utmost respect, and with complete calm and composure. Moreover, the Ramban comments that the law of the city forbade selling burial plots to those who weren’t residents. In order to purchase the sacred site of Machpelah which he desired, Avraham had to purchase the entire field around the cave, as this was the only legal way to acquire the gravesite. How would we have handled the situation? Many of us, I suspect, would have just bought the gravesite and hope to not get caught, or maybe pull some strings with the local authorities, pay off somebody, or bring in lawyers to find a legal loophole. But Avraham, even in his time of great distress, did things the right way. He did not play any games or look for shortcuts. He made a point of meticulously following all the rules, down the last letter, without any compromises whatsoever. What a powerful model this is for us to follow! We must never compromise our ideals, ethics, values or civility because we’ve having a “bad day,” because we’re under pressure or struggling with a difficult situation. The people around us should not suffer because we had a flat tire or because our stocks went down. We can and should find the inner strength to smile and radiate warmth and love even on a “bad day.” We hope and pray never to be tested. Invariably, however, life will present us with our share of challenges. And when it does, we have a righteous ancestor to whom to look for inspiration. None of us will ever be tested as Avraham Avinu was, and his ability to pass his tests should give us the strength and encouragement we need to pass ours.


TLamppost he Living

TUVIA COHEN

Come, we are going to visit a small Jewish village in rural Russia. Hop into the time machine, and back we travel to the last century.

W

arily, you step out of the machine and look around. The short winter day draws to a close, and the early dusk envelops the brown street with its huddled low-built wooden houses. Nighttime falls, and the whole village descends into darkness. Here and there a pool of light from an oil lamp spills into the street, but otherwise, there is not a glimmer. Gingerly you walk, not knowing where you are going, your feet slipping and unsure in the grooved path. As night deepens, the blackness intensifies, and you wonder how the inhabitants manage to get about. The answer is that they don’t. The blackness of the night imprisons everyone in their homes. Not a gas lamp, not a glimmer or a spark to break the barrier of blackness. Suddenly you feel a great wave of yearning – a longing to be back in a society which is illuminated and bright, where electricity brightens your night and guarantees your freedom of movement. It’s time to come back to today, to the age of brightness. What could be more modern than streetlamps? If you can remember the lamplighter who went around with his ladder to “windup” the gas lamps, tell nobody your age! Today, no one winds up, no one sets a time switch, and no one pours in the oil. At dusk and dawn, millions of street lights turn themselves on and off with no human intervention at all. Do you know how it works? With a pecu! “Pecu” is the acronym for a photo electric control unit, which operates a switch in the electrical supply to the lights. There, up above, on the street lamp, lies a photocell. The photocell contains a compound (cadmium sulphide or silicon) which is sensitive to light. As dawn rises, light falling on the photocell causes electrons to flow from one atom to the other, conducting electricity to the 22

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switch and turning it off. At the other end of the day, as darkness falls, the electrons in the compound become immobile, the current stops, and the lights are turned on. Brilliant! No matter how early darkness falls, the lights will faithfully switch on, thanks to the advanced technology of our modern times. As far as street lighting is concerned, the “good old days” were not so good. Shh! I hear someone laughing. Shh! I hear it again. Who is it? A leaf! Why are you laughing, what are you saying? I don’t believe it! The leaf is saying that its technology is so complex that it makes our most modern street lamps appear primitive in comparison. Could you explain?

The Trees’ Bedtime The autumn season is often called “fall,” and the reason is obvious. When the days become shorter and the temperature begins to drop, millions of trees shed their leaves. The falling of the leaves of the deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in autumn, forming new ones in spring) gives the season its distinctive name. It is a spectacular process. The leaves of these trees turn a brilliant red and gold, providing a festival of color which has become a major tourist attraction in many parts of America. Beautiful it certainly is. But what makes the leaves fall from the tree? How is it that the twigs do not descend with the leaves? And why don’t evergreen trees see the need to drop their leaves like other trees do? And then we come to the most enigmatic question of all. How do the trees know when it is time to dispense with their leaves? What is the timing device, the pecu, that triggers the mechanism and starts the process? Prepare to hear some answers that will amaze you.


First the “why,” and then the “how.” The enormous surface area of leaves on a deciduous tree converts sunshine into energy. They also draw water from the roots (by a brilliant process called osmosis). A great deal of water evaporates into the atmosphere from the leaves, which is fine as long as the supply of water in the soil is plentiful. In winter, however, the ground freezes, and the roots cannot take up water from the soil. A plant whose roots are in frozen soil is as short of water as a plant in a dry desert. The last thing that the tree needs is a drain of water through evaporation via the leaves, with no replenishment through the roots. Dropping the leaves in autumn enables the tree to survive the winter. And thus as winter sets in, the tree becomes dormant; it simply goes to sleep. Good night, tree! How, though, does the leaf actually fall off? At a given signal (more about that soon), special cells begin to grow across the leafstalk at the point where it is attached to the twig. This creates an area of weakness across the base of the leafstalk from the outside inwards. The natural “glue” by which the packing cells are normally stuck together dissolves. The biochemical processes that normally take place within the leaf stop, and the chlorophyll that gives the leaf its distinctive green color breaks down and disappears (scientists are not sure what happens to the chlorophyll once it starts to decay), leaving the other pigments of yellow and orange which were there all the time. Eventually, only the veins are running through, and the leaf loosens. But before it falls off, something incredible happens. The leaf contains many desirable minerals. Before dropping to the ground, the leaf transfers those minerals into the tree, where they are stored for the new generation of leaves, due to arrive in the spring. At the same time, the tree contains many undesirable toxins which it does not require or want. These toxins are shunted to the leaves prior to their downfall, giving the tree the perfect process of elimination! So much wisdom in a “simple” leaf! Will the departure of the leaf leave an open abrasion on the twig? Not at all.As the leaf loosens, a layer of cork develops under the area of weakness, effectively sealing the injury. The demonstrations of intelligence stagger the imagination!

The Primitive Streetlamp But how does the tree know when to begin all these many complex processes? Who whispers into its bark that autumn is approaching? Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on trying to answer this question, so far without complete success. It is simply too complex! There are, however, certain things that we do know. Every leaf – whether on a plant or on a tree – contains a chemical called phytochrome. This chemical is sensitive to light, and is crucial in

activating the numerous processes that occur within the plant. Every species makes a slightly different use of the chemical messages that it receives from its phytocrome. The experts suspect that the phytocrome in the leaves of the tree, being the photosensitive cells of the tree, react to the lessening of light as the days shorten, and it is their chemical message that triggers the mechanism that results in the dropping of the leaves. Indeed, it has been discovered that trees that stand next to lampposts retain their leaves for longer periods than trees of the same species which stand away from the extra source of light. So there you have it. We walk along the street and consider our lampposts the last word in sophisticated technology. There they stand proudly, the result of decades of research and scientific development. They even have photosensitive cells. Well may the humble tree laugh. It has been endowed with these sophisticated skills since its creation, and much more! To quote the words of one expert botanist, “Placed next to a tree, the streetlamp appears primitive, almost naive, by comparison!” But there’s more. As autumn approaches, our humble tree produces a special gaseous hormone called ethylene, which, in its complex chemical way, breaks down starches and produces sugars (apple growers use this chemical to encourage the tree to ripen its apples), encourages leaf-drop, and enhances the cork layer which forms at the base of the leaf. And you thought leaves falling in autumn happened by itself – just pretty colors! (Who told the tree that cork is beneficial for healing wounds, and how do you produce cork from soil, sunshine and rain?) How do the evergreens manage? They have small, thick-skinned leaves, whose relatively small surface area prevents significant loss of moisture, and which are designed with a waxy upper surface that locks the moisture in. Furthermore, the pressure with which the pine tree draws up its water by the process of osmosis (called the osmotic pressure) is higher than that of an oak tree. This has the effect of lowering the freezing point, so that when the oak tree is already forming ice crystals in its sap (which are obviously harmful, thus necessitating the elimination of the leaves to prevent osmosis), the pine, at the same temperature, because of the increased pressure, does not form any ice crystals. Therefore, pine leaves, you can stay on! Who gave the pine all this knowledge – knowledge so advanced and complex that not even the human brain can fathom it all, but knowledge so vital that without it the tree could not have survived until now? Here they are, in their millions, living testimony to the wisdom of their Designer and Creator. Tuvia Cohen is a humorist, scientist, and an accomplished author. HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

23


Up Close with Victoria Dwek:

When

Hobby and Career MEET

KELLY JEMAL MASSRY

With her third cookbook soon to hit the shelves, we spoke to Victoria Dwek to learn how she turned her childhood passion into a successful career.

“I

always tell people that you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do. Just be in the game and one opportunity will follow another. I did plan to be a writer, but I didn’t plan to be writing cookbooks.” So says journalist-turned-cookbook author Victoria Dwek, who first began her career at this very magazine. While completing her graduate studies at Sarah Lawrence College (where she went on to receive an MFA in Creative Writing) and her seminary course load in Judaic studies, Victoria freelanced for Community. It was the first of many fortuitous accidents.

From Community to Ami

“I never considered journalism,” says Victoria, who’s now written for several publications. ”Right after Community first launched, a friend gave them something I had written, and Jack Cohen [the magazine’s founding editor] gave me my first assignment.” If her tone sounds brisk and matter-of-fact, it’s because that’s Victoria’s manner. She is a doer, a micro manager, ever-ambitious, and always thinking ahead. A freelancing position would never do permanently, and yet it had sparked something inside her. This was going to be her field. After graduate school, Victoria landed her first full-time journalistic position. As the editor of The Angel News, she wrote, edited and solicited articles on a range of subjects. She later scaled back her work to start her own marketing company and a family. “Purple Brand” coincided with the birth of her first child, and involved content marketing for various businesses and organizations, work which occupied her from 2006 to 2010. She loved the creativity inherent in making brochures and advertising copy – but with time, even that venture got laid to rest. Through a maze of coincidences, another opportunity presented itself. 24

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Rechy Frankfurter, her future employer, was working for HaModia, when one of its writers interviewed her father-in-law. “My daughter-in-law is a writer,” Rabbi Dwek said. “Make sure she reads it.” Read it she did, and then went on to dispute edits. Rechy was so impressed with her acumen and tenacity that, years later, while working for Mishpacha magazine, she called Victoria to try to convince her to write again. After having launched her own marketing company, she wasn’t sure she wanted to return to journalism. She agreed to try, and it was among the best decisions she ever made. In fact, it would transform her career and make way for everything that came after. A few months into her tenure at Mishpacha, Rechy launched Ami Magazine and recruited Victoria to be managing editor. The position became an absolute dream when she asked her to specifically man the food pages – the section that became Whisk Magazine. Of course she said yes! What could be better than combining her hobby and career – her twin passions for food and writing?

A Job and a Hobby

Victoria is self-taught in the kitchen. “I never cooked before I got married,” she says. “Unlike other brides, I didn’t ask my mother for any recipes.” She decided early in her marriage that she didn’t want to simply replicate the dishes she grew up eating, and she also decided that she was going to make learning to cook a personal mission. “I needed to prove to myself that I could cook and entertain just as well as people who weren’t working. I wasn’t going to be less of a homemaker because I worked.” Victoria took to the enterprise with her characteristic diligence and innovation. She scoured cookbooks, trying out new dishes during the week and saving the best for company. As she experimented, her repertoire grew – along with her confidence. “With every recipe you


The Road from Cook the SeaSonS: You Can do a lot with beetS

The Foods oF Mourning: FroM Cabbage and noodles To rakoTT kruMpli and Mejedra

Issue 111 march 13, 2013 2 nIssan 5773

Renee Muller Serves the

issue 127 july 10, 2013 3 av 5773

Best of Tradition

Paula Shoyer’s Chocolate Mousse Roll Cake

Chef MIke GershkovICh on the seCrets of suMMer Corn

Issue 130 july 31, 2013 24 av 5773

Renee is Ready for

Unexpected Guests

November 2002 Victoria’s career path into the field of journalism began as a writer for Community. Eight years later she would become the Managing Editor of Whisk.

2004

After graduate school, Victoria further developed and enhanced her journalistic skills as the Managing Editor of The Angel News, the business and finance publication of the Sephardic Angel Fund. Under her leadership, the publication gained a sterling reputation for delivering quality journalism in an aesthetic package.

try there’s a new technique or flavor combination that becomes part of your culinary education,” she shares. Because she is a perpetual student, combing her resources in whatever form they come in, Victoria found her job and her hobby inevitably blending. “Once I became editor at Whisk I was interviewing tons of people, and learning something from each one,” she remarks. “I got to hang out in commercial kitchens and pick the brains of a lot of professional chefs. From writing about food, I learned about food.” Indeed, as a contributing writer for Whisk – she writes the weekly feature column in addition to managing the recipe columnists – she’s had some remarkable adventures on assignment. “Recently, I ate gluten-free for a couple of weeks just so I could write about the experience,” she begins. “I visited Kitchen Arts and Letters on the Upper East Side and went into their basement to explore old, out-of-print cookbooks from the last century. I’ve been behind the scenes at a wedding, watching how caterers prepare [for guests]. I’ve been in each one of Pomegranate’s kitchens to see how every product they sell is prepared.” She continues, “I’ve gone to the Union Square Farmer’s Market with Chef Jeffrey Nathan to learn culinary secrets about every fruit and veggie. I organized and covered a ‘Holiday Wars’ competition between Prime Grill chefs. I visited the Tofutti Lab to see how COMMUNITY MAGAZINE

Summer Salads

August 2010

When Victoria became the Managing Editor at Whisk, a popular kosher food magazine published weekly by Ami Magazine, she was able to combine her passions for good food and creative writing.

the non-dairy products are created. This month, I’m going to the kitchen of a Southern Jew to learn the kosher versions of Southern cooking. Her family has lived in Memphis for generations and as wealthy landowners, they used to trade recipes with the slaves. The slaves didn’t soak their chicken in buttermilk before frying; they couldn’t afford it. The Jews adopted their secrets for getting crispy fried chicken without using any dairy.”

“Made Easy” Victoria relishes her work as a food columnist and magazine editor. As a writer, she is more than just a scribe of experience – she forms deep relationships in the process. It’s no surprise, then, that she met her cookbook co-author, Leah Schapira, on the job. The founder of CookKosher.com, Leah is also one of the recipe columnists for Whisk, and the two foodies spent hours on the phone together brainstorming ideas for the magazine. It helped that Victoria edited Leah’s first cookbook, Fresh and Easy Kosher Cooking. One a Sephardic Jew of Syrian descent, the other an Ashkenazic Jew of the Hungarian Chassidic tradition, they struck a rapport, in spite of their differences. “The Hungarian ladies are very shaatra too,” Victoria acknowledges. “We have very different backgrounds, but the culture clash is what makes our writing interesting.”

“I needed to prove to myself that I could cook and entertain just as well as people who weren’t working. I wasn’t going to be less of a homemaker because I worked.”

26

Zehava’s Easy


Hobby to Career February 2013

Victoria's first cookbook, Passover Made Easy, co-authored by Leah Schapira and published by Artscroll, debuted in February 2013 and was a huge success.

August 2013

October 2013

Victoria’s next two cookbooks in the "Made Easy" series were just released and are expected to be big hits as well. Starters and Sides Made Easy was released right before the Holidays and Kids Cooking Made Easy will be available in stores this month – just in time for Hanukah!

Leah and Victoria use Google Docs to communicate – “You want to write a book with someone? Use Google Docs!” she advises – and designed a smooth, efficient system by which they work. They develop the recipes together, talking them through, trying them out and then coming together again to discuss. Once the recipes are ready to go to print, Victoria will do most of the writing and editing, leaving Leah to take care of logistics: scheduling the food photographer, dealing with the publicist, and working with the graphic designer. The two shop for photo props and prepare the food for the photo shoots together. Though she is an undeniable asset to their two-person team, Victoria will tell you that the “Made Easy” cookbooks were Leah’s brainchild. “She was always upset that people couldn’t afford her first cookbook,” she explains. “She wanted to make cookbooks that were accessible to everyone. Last year, she told me that ArtScroll wanted a Pesach cookbook and we would be writing it. If it was successful it would be the first in the series.” Successful it was. Passover Made Easy, published last February, was followed this August by Starters and Sides Made Easy. Forthcoming are Kids Cooking Made Easy, which will be out in October in time for Hanukah, and Dairy Made Easy, which conveniently hits stores before Shavuot. All the “Made Easy” cookbooks follow the same format: 60 kosher recipes comprised of readily available ingredients and explained in easy-to-follow steps. Each recipe is accompanied by full-color photos and helpful sidebars – plating and serving suggestions, an in-depth spice guide, even “ahead” tips to keep the reader organized. The recipes are triple-tested, cooked by

Victoria and Leah over and over again – “it’s only natural, if we love them,” Victoria says. Most are original creations, with the only prevailing requirement being simplicity. “Good food doesn’t need a ton of ingredients,” Victoria claims. “That doesn’t make it gourmet. What does Made Easy mean? Something you can freeze or prepare in advance so you don’t have to worry about it that day. If you’re entertaining, you should not be stressed. But Made Easy also can mean a side dish you can prepare fresh in just five minutes. If it has to be fresh, you want it to be fast.” For Victoria, cooking is a stress reliever. “It’s very therapeutic to begin chopping onions after a long day at the computer,” she quips. “I love to entertain. My favorite thing in the world to do is make a menu.” Pairing foods together, bringing it all to life, having people around her table to eat and enjoy…that’s what makes Victoria happiest. But even then when the table is set and the food is out, even when the recipes are written, edited and set to print – she looks to improve. “Today my company has to work harder than they used to,” she jokes. “They used to be able to just come and eat. Now they have to come, eat and give constructive criticism. Guinea pigs have responsibilities!” Along with Leah Schapira, Victoria has brought her commitment to good food and good writing to community stores. The Made Easy cookbook series can be purchased, with a list price of $15.00, at Mekor Judaica, Eichler’s, Kitchen Caboodles, and wherever Jewish books are sold. We at Community will continue to follow Victoria’s career and salute whatever she does next. HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

27


DAVE GORDON

DAVID STOROBIN Committed to Uphold our Community’s Values and Principles as He Sets Sights on City Council Anyone who’s been peeking at candidate lawn signs over the past 20 months, or has heard the buzz about a highly contested 2012 New York State Senate race, is familiar with the name David Storobin. Now he’s returned as a Republican candidate for City Council, with the clearly-stated goal of representing our community’s needs.

A

s some might recall, a tight election was held last year for the 27th District State Senate seat, and after several recounts, Storobin, a 34-year-old attorney, was announced the victor over city councilman Lew Fidler. During the campaign, issues that Storobin vowed to protect resonated highly within our community. Unlike his then-opponent, Storobin campaigned against same-gender marriage, promoted fair funding for schools, sought economic relief for troubled businesses, and promised to tear down the red tape that discourages businesses from operating in the free market. Upon winning the election, Storobin became the only Jewish Republican elected in New York City. His purview included the neighborhoods of Borough Park, Midwood, Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, Kensington, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach. During his brief tenure as Senator, Storobin voted on hundreds of bills, and sponsored 42 others to improve education and health care, help small businesses, and reduce crime. He boasts that he is just one of a few officials to have never supported a tax increase. His term came to an end with the realignment of the electoral districts at the close of 2012. In November, he made an unsuccessful run against former Democratic Councilman Simcha Felder in the newly-created district – the so-called “Super Jewish” district – and lost his Senate seat. Undeterred, he was determined to reenter the political ring, and heeded the grassroots call for him run for the 48th District of the New York City Council. He formally tossed his 28

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hat into the ring this past March, announcing his candidacy for the Nov. 5 election. Storobin will be vying for the council seat representing Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Gravesend and Midwood – the very areas where he won the most resounding support in his Senate race. The topmost issues he endeavors to pursue are: faster processing of Hurricane Sandy benefits; holding the government accountable; steering FEMA money toward small businesses; improving education; fighting crime; reigning in labor unions; securing fair funding for parochial schools; and fighting political corruption.

Needs of Kids Over the Needs of Politicians As State Senator, Storobin sponsored a bill to consider a child’s background when choosing “special education” schools. The bill was knocked down by the liberal vote – swayed, he says, by the labor unions. “The decisions being made are not always for the best interest of the child, but instead the wants of the unions,” he says. “The policies are not functioning in a way that best serves our children.” Storobin speaks passionately about his desire to ensure that parents – not politicians – decide what’s best for children. Walking his talk, Storobin sponsored the repeal of the Blaine Amendment, which forbids using tax dollars for schools with religious affiliation. “The government regulates private schools more and more, and that’s got to stop,” he says, adding that in many meetings with Rosh Yeshivas and students, he discovered that some yeshivot are on the verge of


bankruptcy due to government regulations. Certain regulations have proven too costly for schools. “The government needs to add funding to our schools. It’s only fair that every child should get a subsidy for education, regardless of where they go. Everyone should reap the benefits of the taxes we pay. And if the government wants to add regulations, they should be solely responsible for helping pay for it.”

Government Accountability

“Did you know that under the Democrats, crime and the murder rate increased? We would have had the same situation as Detroit a long time ago if Giuliani hadn’t been elected. We have to be smart about getting tough on crime. We cannot go back to days when 2,500 people a year would get killed.”

Support for Israel in City Council Storobin explains that Israel, too, is a “very important issue” for the community, and New York as a whole. “Not only because I’m Jewish but because my father lives there, I have cousins there, my aunt lives there and Israel is constantly under threat.” In fact, he recently wrote an online article outlining the Jewish people’s religious and historical rights to the Land of Israel. And Storobin firmly believes that City Council, even while focused on local, municipal affairs, can provide much-needed leadership by showing public support for the Jewish State. “All those BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) groups that want to hurt Israel, I say that we cannot do business with them in New York. A college who boycotts Israel should not be allowed to function in New York. Or at least not with official parts of New York. Those colleges should receive no funding from the city of New York, and their nonprofit status should be reconsidered.”

Clearly frustrated with top heavy bureaucracy, Storobin has committed to keep a keen eye on elected officials to make sure their feet are held to the fire any time there are ethical breaches or when the goods aren’t delivered. “I definitely want to fight corruption and fraud. There are a lot of people elected over and over, and they know they will continue to be elected over and over. And sadly, nobody works when they realize they can never be fired. Corruption has become a normal part of political life, and that’s something I’m outraged by. Elected officials need to know that if they don’t do a good job, they’ll be Victory party in March 2012 kicked out of office.” Our local politicians, says Storobin, haven’t been keeping their antennae up, or meeting the needs of residents. In particularly, he charges that City Hall has been indifferent to our neighborhood. “When we faced a snowstorm three years ago, our neighborhood was the last to be cleaned up, and only after it became a national scandal covered by all the major media. When Hurricane Sandy The “Penniless Immigrant” hit us, we still had 7-foot tall piles of sand on our streets months Alongside his profound awareness of his Jewish roots and deep after the hurricane. Every time we need help, our neighborhood is attachment to Israel, he hasn’t forgotten his own American story forgotten.” – one of perseverance, determination and pulling up bootstraps. Leading by example, Storobin provided free legal assistance to He arrived in the United States with his single mother 20 many customers whose insurance companies refused to honor their years ago from Russia, where she had been a professor in medical school. Due to language claims. In certain instances, he difficulties as an immigrant, paid for their needs out of his she was forced to eke out a own pocket, and fought to ensure Issues that he vowed to protect resonated highly living cleaning homes until she electricity was restored in their within our community… Storobin campaigned could eventually land a job as a buildings. against same-gender marriage, promoted fair social worker. Storobin has also called funding for schools, sought economic relief for “It is a story of millions out the local governments for troubled businesses… who came to the United States reckless spending. He was a vocal … leaving everything behind opponent of the city’s spending with nothing but a dream and $3 million of emergency federal aid money on what he calls “new age bathrooms” in four locations, the hope that their personal sacrifice will lead to a better life for including Coney Island and Brighton Beach, rather than using their children,” Storobin says. “So many people helped my mother and me when we arrived those funds to aid Brooklyn’s homes and businesses decimated by in the United States – people who did not know us, people who Hurricane Sandy. Storobin is quick to add that doing a good job means not only sacrificed their time and money knowing that I will never be able avoiding irresponsible spending, but also achieving definite and to pay them back... But what I can do is help those who need help now.” tangible successes – including keeping crime rates down. 30

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Despite graduating Rutgers University School of Law terribly overburdened with loans, Storobin was able to start his own law firm in 2005, at age 25, specializing in family law. It was a long, hard road, as he describes, scrimping and saving until eventually he was able to have two offices with full-time associates and paralegals working for him. “The difference between me and everyone else on the ballot, is my experience as businessman and job creator. I know how to balance the books so I’m in the black and not in the red. I know what it takes to go from nothing, to a successful business operating for nine years now. In this economy in particular, there’s nothing more important than job creation. My opponents know nothing about what that’s like.” Part of his vision is to eliminate government control and regulation to make it easier for businesses to operate, and thrive. “There’s too much bureaucracy, overregulation, over taxation. None of that is going to help our economy become excellent. We only lose out when nuisance laws are in the way to cause headaches to the small business owner, and ridiculous fines that create a cash grab by the city.” When he’s not running for office, running a legal office or advancing a cause, Storobin finds himself active in numerous groups and organizations. He sits on the Board of Directors of the American Jewish Committee (New York Chapter) and on the Board of Governors of the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission, and served as an observer on the Board of Directors of the Shorefront Y. Additionally, he has taught English as a second language to the elderly and mentored students who aspired to become lawyers. A year-and-a-half ago, Storobin spoke to an audience of 1,300 business and community leaders at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum. In what was a moment of profound pride, he recalled that it was America that gave a “penniless immigrant” the opportunity to take the podium after the Foreign Minister of Germany and the President of Panama. As the first immigrant from the former Soviet Union to serve as a New York State Senator, Storobin expressed his gratitude for all that the Jewish community, and the United States, had done for him, and for millions of other immigrants, and for making him a proud American.

Storobin has received countless endorsements from the religious community, including “dozens of rabbis” whose support will be formally announced in mid-October. He has also received support from fellow politicians such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and State Senator Marty Golden.

David Storobin and State Senator Marty Golden

“This is My Way of Giving Back” Storobin is no stranger to the media, having been interviewed by both Bloomberg News and Fox News radio, and lauded for his legal expertise by Investor’s Business Daily and the Examiner. He was profiled in the New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, and Russian-American TV. His articles have appeared in the Jewish Press, and he has been interviewed on The Jewish Channel, on Zev Brenner’s show and in the Jewish Star. Storobin has already received countless endorsements from the religious community, including “dozens of rabbis” whose support will be formally announced in mid-October. He has also received support from fellow politicians such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and State Senator Marty Golden. What is most surprising to many, however, is the wide support he’s been receiving from local Democrats, who, according to Storobin, “would rather have a Republican on board than a far-left liberal.” And so, David Storobin – advocate, candidate, immigrant and activist – is shooting for another opportunity to serve his city, to fight for his values, and help others. “I’m really grateful to be in a position where I can help the country that opened its doors and welcomed me,” he says. “This is my way of giving back, to make a difference in my community.”

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and David Storobin

David Storobin and Rabbi Katzin HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

31


HALACHIPEDIA Where HALACHA meets One young Sephardic scholar is making the in-depth study of practical halachah accessible to Jews of all backgrounds and levels of knowledge.

“The most comprehensive resource of Orthodox halachah online, free and accessible to all.” This is the ambitious goal set by Ike Sultan, a community member hailing from West Orange, NJ, who four years ago founded Halachipedia.com, a vast on-line resource of information regarding halachah and Jewish custom. Featuring over 350 information-packed wiki articles and boasting over 1.6 million (!!) hits, Halachipedia is gradually becoming one of the household names in cutting-edge internet Torah resources.

From Dream to Reality Ike, a graduate of Frisch High School who studied for two years at Yeshivat Shaalvim in Israel, now studies in Yeshiva University where he will soon begin learning for semichah (rabbinical ordination). The proud mastermind and manager of Halachipedia, Ike shared his memories of how the idea was conceived, as well as the initial hesitations that had to be overcome. The process began during his years in Yeshivat Shaalvim, when he began summarizing halachic rulings and uploading them to the internet. These rulings covered a wide range of topics, from Jewish holidays to the laws of tefillin and kiddush to the berachah recited upon seeing a rainbow. He also began recruiting friends to join this effort. Ike would eventually brainstorm with his older brothers about creating something bigger. “We saw how Wikipedia became so popular very quickly,” he recalls, “and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could do the same with Halachah? You would be able to just search one website to find any opinion about any Halacha, in English.’” He knew this would be “amazing,” but as a practical matter, the prospect of organizing and translating information about every halachah seemed to be just a pipedream. With the odds seemingly stacked against him, Ike nevertheless remained resolute and decided to follow through with the novel idea. His older brothers, all alumni of Yeshiva University, focused on the programming aspects, while Ike researched and prepared the halachic content. Following the Wikipedia model, Ike conceived of the idea to allow Halachipedia users to become contributors, but only after confirming 32

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A.D. COHEN

prospective contributors’ credentials by ascertaining the accuracy and quality of their first submission. This system resulted in a significantly increased flow of information to the website. Later, Ike rounded up more friends to submit, edit and expand the site, including his younger brother, Darren, who presently manages Halachipedia’s publicity.

“An Incredible Experience” Halachipedia has received the support of several prominent rabbinic figures at Yeshiva University, including Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Mordechai Willig, and Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth, Chair in Talmud and Contemporary Halacha at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). As part of the project, Ike composes and posts weekly one-page summaries of halachic rulings of the RIETS Roshei Yeshiva. “Being able to ask Rabbi Willig or [RIETS Rosh Yeshiva] Rabbi [Hershel] Schachter questions all the time is an incredible experience for me!” the young scholar enthuses. Ike sees this ambitious undertaking as fulfilling the religious obligation to enable fellow Jews to learn Torah. He focused his attention specifically on the area of practical halachah, which he says he finds “extremely interesting, exciting, complex, and infused with deep spiritual meaning.” The spiritual significance and import of this project presents not only an exciting opportunity, but also a great challenge and responsibility. The sheer magnitude of this undertaking requires the participation of large numbers of Jews, and the Sultan brothers thus decided to utilize the open code wiki platform. But while this enables and encourages qualified students and scholars of Torah to share their knowledge, it also raises the specter of erroneous information being presented as accurate halachah. In order to avoid such errors, Ike and his brothers work laboriously to monitor all contributions to ensure their accuracy and the qualifications of their authors. Ike cautions that Halachipedia, which is not under the supervision of a rabbi, is certainly not intended as a substitute for personal rabbinic consultation. “We definitely still want people to go and talk to their rabbis and ask questions,” he says, “because every halachic question is nuanced and very possibly differs from the standard case mentioned on our site.” He urges users to treat the website just as they would a printed halachic work. “Halachipedia functions like any other work of halachah out there - it just offers information, except that it is constantly growing and improving.”


“Classic Halachah Greats” Ike composed the original series of Halachipedia articles while he learned through Torat Hamoadim and Halachah Berurah, voluminous works by Hacham David Yosef, shelita, which present the halachic rulings of his venerated father, HaGaon Hacham Ovadia Yosef, shelita.“I’m Sephardic… and certainly that’s the reason I originally was learning from those sefarim,” he says. As he studied the material, Ike carefully annotated the sources with the precise volume, chapter, and page number to enable Halachipedia users to research the commentary from its source. His plan was never to solely translate, but to assimilate the material, and select the more practical halachot and write the significant opinions on the topic along with their reasoning. As Ike’s level of scholarship advanced, he began to use a wider array of works. Presently, each halachah presented on the site is derived from what Ike calls the “classic halachah greats” such as the Tur, Bet Yosef, Shulhan Aruch, Mishna Berurah, and the contemporary masterpiece Yalkut Yosef. Each halachah is accompanied by the relevant background information underlying the practical conclusion. And the conclusion, Ike says, is “usually not my own improvisation, but rather it is the halachic writing of the Mishnah Berurah’s ruling for Ashkenazim, Yalkut Yosef’s for Sephardim, and other equivalent sefarim for both groups.” The material is frequently revisited and updated when pertinent sources which may have been initially overlooked are then discovered. Ike proudly reports that he has received submissions from several published authors. “I was surprised at the overwhelming amount of positive responses, and many offered to email me published articles to be posted on Halachipedia,” he says.

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A Glorious Future Halachipedia is still growing, and plans are underway to gradually develop the site on a much grander scale. Ike hopes to include “everything raised in the Shulhan Aruch - halachic opinions on absolutely any topic, a tremendous amount of content organized in a very user-friendly way.” To that end, he hopes to peruse libraries, online databases, and the internet to cull additional contemporary sources so the material will be more comprehensive. “There’s an advantage to having everything in one place,” he explains. “Many contemporary books of halacha only deal with the Ashkenazic halacha or the general halacha for Sephardim, but our site is open to expressing the minhag for each and every community. Additionally, since we’re not limited in space, if I had the time I would write out the entire development of halacha - from

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the Gemara, through the Rishonim (leading Rabbis during the 11th to 15th centuries) to the Achronim (leading Rabbis from the 15th century onwards).” “I like the responsibility and I also like the fact that it’s learning and contributing to the learning of others,” he professes. It is not my job to finish rather I’m here to make an effort, which, Gd-willing will make a positive impact on the future of the Jewish community.” A word of caution taken from Halachapedia.com: Although Halachipedia makes a great effort to ensure that the halachic information presented is authentic and valid, due to the nature of the wiki interface when using this information for practical purposes please ensure to consult a reliable halachic work or competent Orthodox Rabbi. Mrs. A.D. Cohen is a freelance writer with weekly columns in national publications. She can be reached at realmacbargains@gmail.com HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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Shaare Torah Brings Fun and Excitement to Summer Learning This past summer, students of Yeshivat Shaare Torah were treated to a special incentive program which allowed them to hone their reading schools while earning exciting prizes, so they could keep up their scholastic progress without compromising the fun and excitement of summer.

T

he innovative Keriah ‘n Action project, run by Keriah Coordinator Mrs. S. Waldman, involved a series of special videos and messages sent to the students by email on a weekly basis. At the beginning of the summer, every child received an attractive Summer Homework booklet and a brochure with over 50 prizes to choose from. Every child received an email each week with a video of a rabbi explaining the rule that was reviewed that week. The boys practiced each week’s assignment three days – any three days during that week, thereby learning the law while also building their fluency skills. There was also a mystery number included each week, challenging the boys to figure out how many words in the text contained that week’s rule. Parents signed each assignment and recorded how many tickets were earned each week. A message was sent to Keriah ‘n Action after each assignment was completed, either by calling or texting the Keriah ‘n Action hotline, or emailing keriahnaction@gmail.com. The organizers then responded with the amount of tickets earned that week. The teachers also contacted parents of boys who were not completing their assignments, or who did them incorrectly, to help them get back on track. 34

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Every child was able to pick from over 50 exciting prizes based on the number of tickets he earned from Keriah ‘n Action over the summer. Prizes included a pen calculator for 250 tickets, a light up Frisbee for 500 tickets, a leather wallet for 750 tickets, and a remote controlled car for 1000 tickets. Every child who completed all the Keriah ‘n Action assignments was included in the Grand Prize Raffle for a chance to win one of the grand prizes, including a basketball set, a guitar and an above ground pool. All second and third graders were treated to a grand trip to Kids ‘n Action on Tuesday, October 1st as a reward for participating in the Keriah ‘n Action Summer Homework Program. Thanks to the fantastic cooperation of the students and their parents, the program was a resounding success. Eighty percent of the boys who participated in Keriah ‘n Action received 750 or more tickets toward their choice of prizes. More than half of the second and third grade students were part of the Grand Prize Raffle for completing all their assignments, reading every assignment on three different days for all nine weeks of the summer. Thanks to modern technology, a devoted staff, a touch of ingenuity, and the outstanding students and parents of Shaare Torah, the boys were able to keep up their reading over the summer in a fun and exciting way, giving them a running start to the 2013-4 academic year!


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A HEART-TO-HEART WITH MAYORAL CANDIDATE

JACK HIDARY A.D. COHEN

ONE THOUGHT CROSSED MY MIND FOLLOWING MY DELIGHTFUL INTERVIEW WITH JACK HIDARY: PURE ENERGY. JACK EXUDES UNBRIDLED ENERGY, VIGOR AND DETERMINATION. HIS EVERY WORD IS LACED WITH MEANING AND HIS EXUBERANCE IS SIMPLY CONTAGIOUS.WITH AN EYE ON THE COVETED POSITION OF NYC MAYOR, JACK AND HIS DEDICATED TEAM HAVE MADE SIGNIFICANT INROADS IN THE POLITICAL ARENA. NOVEMBER’S VOTE LOOMS LARGE, AND THE HOPE OF THIS AMBITIOUS AND PASSIONATE MAN IS TO HELP A CITY, AND, ULTIMATELY, THE COMMUNITY HE LOVES. As a successful entrepreneur, what led you to step into the political arena? Growing up in our esteemed community, I learned the values not only of hard work and entrepreneurship, but also of “giving back” and community service. My many role models include my parents, grandparents and others around me who have dedicated their lives to furthering education as well as other notable community services. Upon building my businesses, I became involved in helping people obtain jobs, start small businesses and promote the tenets of effective education. Now I have an opportunity to lead NYC as mayor and bring this wealth of experience to all of New York. I feel humbled to represent and receive tremendous support from our illustrious community which embodies strong values of family, kindness and charity. I will carry these core principles forward as mayor, affirming that New York continues to be the greatest city in our country. It seems a bit of a risk to run freestanding from the popular partisan groups. Why run as an independent? I believe New York wants independent leadership for their mayor. They want a mayor for all New Yorkers, and not just for a “handful.” Running as an independent signifies that I am independent of special interests and can serve all of New York.

What plans are you proposing that speak specifically to the community? Firstly, I am the only candidate addressing the issue of the high cost of tuition at our yeshivot. I have a strategy to address the tuition predicament with programs in the city and advocating for change in Albany. The burden on our families is enormous and we must demand to reduce this encumbrance along with delivering a world class education. Second, the chief job of a mayor is to keep his constituents safe. I will dedicate myself to continuing to reduce crime in NYC and ensure optimal safety for our community and our children. Furthermore, many community members own retail stores and restaurants, and regrettably, for the past few years a system was instituted to fine such businesses.Many ill-advised people have suggested that we raise taxes on these businesses, but I feel we are already overtaxed. New York is the highest taxed city in the country. As mayor, I would be keen on working with businesses and supporting their growth with nary a tax. We want to attract capital and jobs for NYC, Therefore, I urge community members to join us in our effort to grow NYC’s economy, not depress it, so that we may carry a fiscally sound legacy to the next generation.

AUTHORIZED & PAID FOR BY JACK FOR MAYOR 36

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Please share with us some of your political leanings, specifically those you feel strongly about. In addition to keeping crime low, we must grow small businesses. In NYC, more than half the job growth derives from small businesses. This is literally the backbone of our city’s economy, and possibly that of the community, as many community members birth small business and invest in them. Moreover, we must invest as a city in community centers. Our own community center, The Sephardic Center, is a shining example of a community success story. We need to expand these successful prototype centers out to all the communities in all five boroughs. I want everyone to have the prospects that our community has been blessed with. Overall, we need to support community centers, after school programs, healthcare education and any other programs in which the city can help schools. In addition, education reform must be realized. We should move our current schooling approach, that of routine memorization and testing, to one fixed on blended learning, team-based work and problem-solving – the kinds of skills that condition success. What gives you an edge over the other mayoral candidates? I am the only candidate with an entrepreneurial background who has created and built successful companies. Coupled with this strong foundation are 15 years of non-profit public service where I have benefitted the city and the nation. The other mayoral candidates are “machine politicians.��� Bill de Blasio is a relic of the Dinkins administration, a throwback to an era in New York that we would rather leave behind. Joe Lhota fares no better; he, too, is a remnant of a period of retrogression and does not have the entrepreneurial experience which is key to growing our city. Machine politics denotes increased deficit – because the politicians have already promised commitments to their special interests – and higher taxes. Important to note is that we are almost at that fiscal cap. There’s only $200 million left of additional taxes which can be raised. We’re almost at that cliff, and that means these politicians will have to reduce services to the city. They will have to cut cops, teachers, firemen, hospitals, basically the entire city’s services. This form of narcissi politics doesn’t work and definitely doesn’t bode well for the residents of our great city. I believe we have a blunt choice played out in front of us. I have the entrepreneurial experience, ideas, focus and programs that will grow New York into a city we can be proud of. How are you preparing for the November 5th mayoral election? With an all-encompassing and widespread media launch. We will be going live with TV ads and other advertising as well as engaging in communities across NYC. Additionally, I will be participating in mayoral forums and debates as well as communicating with the press. Have you covered ground in the competition? We’ve made great strides in the campaign. We have visited dozens of communities and have a very high name ID across the board. We have ballooning name recognition in the Latino community and other minority communities. We have culled tremendous support from the small business and high tech AA.

We are growing a core base of support and are seeing tremendous response. Are you aware of any campaign obstacles in the race so far? Our biggest challenge in this campaign is not the other candidates. It is that we need the voting public to become aware of the imminent fiscal blow and the services that will be cut. If people grasp this, we win. That’s the centrality of our campaign and we need to enlighten this predicament to all NYC residents. Machine party politics will not only cause us to regress, but will bring us to that fiscal cliff and have us jump. With my experience, foresight and strategic planning I can move New York forward. If elected, what would be the first thing to take care of in office? It is difficult to single out just one thing. My first advancement would be that of education. All our communities must have the best education possible. Concerning all my hopes of advancement, I will bring forward a top team of talent from across the country and NYC, as I have done as CEO of my successful companies, to ensure that we hit the ground running and address the needs of our community. Naturally, as a community member, I understand the needs of the community and will translate this into specific programs that will help move our community forward. What message would you like to give community members to have them ‘Run with Jack’ to the polls? This is a critical election for our highly regarded community. The mayoral field is clear-cut and we have a definitive choice between machine politicians who will have us backslide, and myself. I urge all community members to vote, and those who wish to volunteer with our campaign should please contact us at jackformayor.com. This is a wonderful opportunity and experience for people of any age to engage in furthering our illustrious city. It behooves me to highlight that my campaign employs quite a number of community members. When I win as mayor, I intend to recruit from our community individuals who can help me lead the city to an era of progression and positive reform.

AUTHORIZED & PAID FOR BY JACK FOR MAYOR 38

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FOSSIL

FRAUD

DEBUNKING THE CONCEPT OF EVOLUTION AND PREHISTORIC MEN Hominid fossils on display in museums nationwide – exposed for what they really are – a hoax!

A

nyone who deals with the subject of science and religion will, sooner or later, be confronted with the question of fossils, those ancient relics of prehistoric plants, animals, and men. The common assumption is, of course, that the scientific evidence regarding fossils is basically reliable and need not be seriously questioned by the layman. In other words, one’s job is to deal with these facts, not to cast doubt on their veracity. Most people naturally assume that the fossil evidence and its interpretation (the science of paleontology) have been presented by serious scientists who were objective in their pursuit of knowledge and applied accepted standards of scientific vigor. In this article, we shall see that nothing could be further than the truth! In fact, the record will show that evolutionary biologists have a dismal record when it comes to interpreting fossils. Blunder after blunder has been made in the course of this “scientific work.” Astonishingly, these absurd interpretations of fossils were not published by third-rate workers, but by world-famous scientists! Indeed, it is precisely because of the unquestioned authority of these scientists that it often takes decades to correct their errors. It has become clear in recent years that the reason for this shoddy work is that the evolutionists in question were often motivated by subjective considerations, such as national pride, professional jealousy, and preconceived notions. The following examples of gross errors in fossil interpretation are no longer subjects of controversy. They are admitted by all – with acute embarrassment. 40

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NEANDERTHAL MAN: THE BRUTE THAT WASN’T A BRUTE

The word “Neanderthal” (literally, “Neander Valley”) derives from the place near Düsseldorf, Germany, where the first fossil skull was discovered in 1850. Such fossils have since been discovered throughout Europe, the Middle East, and even farther afield, with hundreds of nearly complete skeletons now available for study. Questions of interest include: What did the Neanderthals look like? How would one characterize them? In a recent discussion of these questions, New Scientist, a British journal, points out that “those who rail at the conduct of football hooligans or rowdy parliamentarians often describe the objects of their ire as ‘behaving no better than Neanderthals,’ thus conveying an image of uncouth and uncivilized conduct. ‘Neanderthal’ has become a convenient term of abuse to describe all that is brutish and boorish.” These assertions are amply confirmed by Roget’s Thesaurus, whose list of synonyms for the adjective “Neanderthal” includes such terms as “savage,” “brutal,” “bestial,” “animal,” and “troglodytic.” The popular image of the Neanderthal is that of a coarse-featured, stooped walking, long-armed brute, whom no one would want to meet in a dark alley. It is now recognized that this description of Neanderthal Man is completely and utterly false! The Neanderthal Man was identical to normal men. His brain was as large (if not larger) as that of the average man today and he would attract no attention on the streets of the city. At the London meeting


The “Piltdown Man” Hoax:

In 1912, Charles Dawson, an amateur archaeologist, claimed to have found bones of a primitive hominid (a “missing link”) in a quarry near Piltdown Common in Sussex, England. “Piltdown Man” was constructed from parts of a modern-looking skull and an apelike lower jaw. He was claimed to be 500,000 years old, and was declared “absolute proof” of evolution in museums, academia, and countless newspapers and scientific journals. Some 40 years later, in 1953, Piltdown was discovered to be a forgery, consisting of the lower jawbone of an orangutan that had been deliberately combined with the skull of a fully developed modern human.The fragments had been chemically stained to give the appearance of age, and the teeth had been filed down!

of the Congress of Zoology (reported in Time Magazine 7/28/58), it was revealed that this standard museum-exhibit of a stooped, ape-like man (“the knees bent forward as a result of the curvature of the thigh bones,” as the theorists theorized) was nothing other than a moderntype man stooped by age and arthritis. Magazines carried full-length portraits of mythical men, based on nothing more than fragments plus a great deal of fantasy. Scientists now understand that Neanderthal Man looked remarkably similar to Modern Man. How did this complete misrepresentation of Neanderthal Man come about? Why did all the leading scientists misunderstand the facts for so long? In relating the strange history of Neanderthal research, New Scientist asks: “What did the Neanderthals do to acquire their reputation for brutality and stupidity?” Professor Erik Trinkaus (one of the leading authorities on Neanderthal Man) answers that,“Neanderthals have hardly ever been interpreted objectively. They have suffered a range of scientific abuse which can only be understood in its historical context.” The “villain” of our story is the world-renowned scientist, Professor Marcellin Boule. In the early decades of the century, Boule was director of the Institute for Human Paleontology of the famous Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in France and editor of the major journal L’Anthropologie. No one had more impressive scientific credentials in the field of prehistoric man than Marcellin Boule. He made Neanderthal Man his special field of expertise, and, after long and detailed study, Boule published his definitive monograph on the Neanderthals in the 1911-1913 issues of Annales de Paleontologie. As Trinkaus points out, “the monograph was immediately a classic, a study of such thoroughness and merit that it established the paleontology of humans– paleoanthropology, it would be called–as a scientific discipline.” Unfortunately, Boule’s “classic monograph” was wrong in every respect. In his book on hominid paleontology, appropriately entitled The Myths of Human Evolution, Professor Niles Eldredge explains that “every feature Boule stressed in his analysis had no basis in fact… To Boule, the premier French paleontologist of his day, we

owe the shambling brutish image of the Neanderthals immortalized in a thousand comic strips.” Trinkaus emphasizes the same point: What is remarkable is that Boule’s monograph is astonishingly wrong in many of its conclusions… Boule reconstructed the vertebral column of Neanderthals as much straighter [than it was], giving rise to a stooping posture and slouching gait, a forwardly thrust head and perpetually bent knees. The drawing in his monograph imprinted itself on the mind of every anthropologist. It was the perfect troglodyte: the brute, the savage. How could a famous scientist such as Professor Marcellin Boule come to make such gross errors? The explanation lies in the extreme subjectivity with which Boule approached his study of Neanderthal Man. The complete story is quite long, but the following paragraphs summarize the main points of this almost unbelievable episode. Boule had a hated foreign rival, a well-known Swiss paleontologist named Otto Hauser, “much despised by the French for his boorish personality and his habit of finding prize fossils on French territory… Boule was to remain Hauser’s archenemy for life.” Moreover, Boule was intensely jealous of two French colleagues, Gabriel de Mortillet and Leonce Manouvrier, who were both professors at a rival institution, the Ecole d’Anthropologie. Therefore, for Boule, “embarrassing de Mortillet was always a welcome outcome to a study.” Boule began his research with definite preconceived notions of what the Neanderthals looked like. “He was inclined to believe that Neanderthals had nothing to do with human ancestry, and his anatomical analysis succeeded in expelling these brutish forms from the human family tree.” The combination of national pride, professional jealousy, and preconceived notions led Boule to make an incredible series of errors. As Trinkaus explains, “Boule did not deliberately and knowingly slant his results; it was only that he saw, readily, that which was agreeable, and was oblivious to elements that suggested uncomfortable implications.”

It is precisely because of the unquestioned authority of these scientists that it often takes decades to correct their errors.

HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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FRAUD

The “Nebraska Man”Hoax:

A single tooth, discovered in Nebraska in 1922, produced an entire evolutionary link between man and monkey, until another identical tooth was found which was protruding from the jawbone of a wild pig. In the interim, the Illustrated London Times ran pictures of artist Amedee Forestier’s depiction of “Nebraska Man” and his wife – an illustration of two people produced on the basis of a single tooth! Even if Forestier’s drawing was “merely the expression of an artist’s brilliant imaginative genius,” as conveyed by Smith (Illustrated London News, 1922), it is often these imaginative reconstructions that “sell” the public on the validity of evolution.

The results were inevitable. Worst of all was the effect of Boule’s grossly erroneous work on his colleagues, for as Eldredge notes, “Boule’s authority was so close to absolute that his conclusions strongly affected paleontological thinking for several decades.” Trinkaus adds that “his incorrect conclusions were to have a more lasting effect on the image of Neanderthals than any previous work.” Yet, even today, the misconception of the Neanderthal Man is still being taught in schools. Even more peculiar is that this falsified information is currently on display in museums nationwide, and is being misrepresented as “factual” even though it has been proven to be fraudulent!

parts of the bone where the skull attaches to the jaw to hide the fact, otherwise obvious, that the (human) skull did not fit the (ape) jaw. Finally, he filed down the ape’s teeth a bit to make them look more human, and in various ways contrived to make the bones look ancient, as befits a prehistoric fossil. What is important here is not the fact that a fraud was perpetrated; every profession has its cheats. What is central to our discussion is the assessment of this fraudulent fossil by the leading members of the scientific community. One would think that as soon as this jaw of an ape reached the hands of professional anatomists, the game would be up. How could any skilled anatomist fail to immediately recognize that the Piltdown jaw was identical in every respect to that of a modern orangutan, and that the Piltdown skull was identical in every respect to that of a contemporary man, without any indication of those features that characterize “prehistoric man”? Surely, Dawson’s fraud would be exposed by leading scientists within a matter of minutes. But that is not what happened at all. Instead, this fraud remained undetected for 40 years! Piltdown Man created a sensation in the British paleontological community; it was England’s earliest prehistoric man, and was universally accepted as genuine. From 1912 until 1953, every scientific reference book and encyclopedia informed its readers of the great importance of Piltdown Man in establishing the evolutionary history of Modern Man. We were told that, unlike Neanderthal Man, who was nothing but a “savage brute” unrelated to Modern Man (as Professor Boule had so firmly established in his famous monograph!), Piltdown Man (the “Dawn Man”) was our earliest direct ancestor, as was clearly proven by the very modern appearance of his skull.

Britain’s leading anatomist claimed to see distinctly human anatomical features in the jaw of a modern orangutan…. when in fact, none of these anatomical features really existed!

PILTDOWN MAN: THE APE THAT “BECAME” A MAN

Professor Stephen Gould of Harvard University, a renowned evolutionary biologist, characterizes Piltdown Man as “the most famous and spectacular fraud of 20th-century science.” The story began in 1912, when an amateur fossil collector named Charles Dawson announced that he had found, in a Piltdown gravel pit on the Sussex coast of England, parts of the fossil head of a prehistoric man that soon came to be known as Piltdown Man. Before his sudden death in 1916, Dawson “discovered” a few more pieces of Piltdown Man’s skull and jaw. This fossil was accepted as genuine by the entire scientific community, and was given the scientific name Eoanthropus dawsoni (“Dawson’s dawn man”) in honor of its discoverer. It was later found that Piltdown Man was an outright fraud. What Dawson had done was combine a contemporary human skull with the jaw of a contemporary ape (an orangutan), both of which he stained to match the color of the Putdown gravel pit. Dawson broke off the


The “Java Man” Hoax:

Initially discovered by Dutchman Eugene Dubois in 1891, all that was found of this claimed originator of humans were a skullcap, three teeth and a femur. The femur was found 50 feet away from the original skullcap a full year later. For almost 30 years, Dubois downplayed two undoubtedly human skulls found very close to his “missing link.” Then, in 1926, the headlines of a new “Java Man” burst upon the world. Later, however, it was revealed to be an elephants’ knee! The irresponsibility which made possible such an error was quietly passed over; the debacle was not printed in big splashes over the front pages of the newspapers as was the first announcement. This is the pattern of all such impostures: the retraction is never publicized as widely as the fraud, and the public remains misled.

The sorry “trio of heroes” in the Piltdown farce were Sir Grafton Elliot Smith, Sir Arthur Keith, and Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, variously characterized as “the great names of the British school of paleontology of the 1920s and 1930s” and “the three leading lights of British anthropology and paleontology.” Each man was a recognized world authority; the first two were the foremost British anatomists of their day, and the third was an expert on hominid paleontology. Each man had been knighted by his monarch as a sign of the esteem accorded him by the scientific community. And each man was convinced that the Piltdown fossils were genuine! “The great trio of British paleontologists found themselves in agreement… The combined influence of Smith Woodward, Keith and Elliot Smith ensured that the Piltdown Man became the standard by which other hominid fossils were measured.” How could such leading authorities have made such gross blunders? Preconceived notions have a way of ensuring that one sees what one wants to see. It was quite obvious to anyone who

The British school of paleontology insisted that the brain (skull) of Modern Man should have evolved relatively rapidly, whereas the jaw should have evolved more slowly. Thus, according to the British school, it was expected that our prehistoric ancestors would at some early stage have had a relatively modern humanlike skull while still sporting a relatively primitive ape-like jaw. When Piltdown Man displayed precisely these characteristics, he was welcomed with open arms by the British paleontologists. “Proof positive at last that man’s large brain had characterized his line from the earliest times.” And when one adds the happy fact that the Dawn Man was discovered in England, the joy of the British scientists knew no bounds. But there still remained one problem. If the British experts were right, then the basically human skull should have displayed some clearly ape-like features, and the basically ape-like jaw, some clearly human features. After all, Piltdown Man was supposed to be a fossil in transition – on the way to becoming a completely Modern Man. And these expected, but completely nonexistent, features were exactly what each of the three leading British scientists claimed to have seen in the Piltdown fossils! The “Orce Man” Hoax: This is confirmed by the comments of Sir Grafton Elliot Smith: Found in the southern Spanish town of Orce in 1982, this discovery was hailed as the The Piltdown skull, when properly oldest fossilized human remains ever found reconstructed, is found to possess strongly in Europe. One year later, officials admitted simian [ape-like] peculiarities. In respect to the skull fragment was not human but these features, it harmonizes completely with probably came from a four-month-old donkey. the jaw, the simian features of which have been Scientists had said the skull belonged to a 17-year-old man who lived 900,000 to 1.6 exaggerated by most writers… The outstanding million years ago, and even had very detail interest of the Piltdown skull is the confirmation drawings done to represent what he would it affords of the view that in the evolution of have looked like. man, the brain led the way. In other words, Britain’s leading examined the Piltdown fossils that the skull (which, we recall, anatomist claimed to see distinctly human anatomical features in belonged to a Modern Man) appeared much more human-like and the jaw of a modern orangutan, and distinctly ape-like anatomical much less ape-like than the jaw (which was, in fact, the jaw of an features in the skull of a contemporary human being, when ape). To explain this anomaly, scientists invoked the principle of in fact, none of these anatomical features really existed. One “mosaic evolution” which asserts that different parts of the body should never underestimate the power of wishful thinking when may evolve at different rates. However, the question of which hominid fossils are being examined by scientists with strongly part of the body evolved first remained a matter of sharp debate. held preconceived ideas.


HESPEROPITHECUS: THE MAN WHO WAS A PIG

The final fossil we discuss bears the scientific designation Hesperopithecus (“western anthropoid”) to emphasize that this was the first anthropoid fossil ever discovered in the Western Hemisphere (near Snake Creek in the state of Nebraska). Of all the blunders committed by 20th-century evolutionary biologists in their various “scientific studies” of hominid fossils, none can compare with Hesperopithecus, also known as Nebraska Man. Our story takes place in America in the 1920s, a decade marked by an ongoing battle between creationists and scientists. The creationists succeeded in passing laws in several states, including Tennessee, making it a criminal offense to teach Darwin’s theory of evolution in the public schools. The opposition persuaded a high-school teacher in Tennessee named John Scopes to openly teach Darwin’s theory in order to challenge the law. The resulting Scopes trial became a national sensation, pitting the foremost trial lawyer of the day, Clarence Darrow, against one of America’s leading creationists, William Jennings Bryan (who was nearly elected President of the United States in 1896!). It is necessary to understand this background and the mood of the country to properly appreciate the story of Hesperopithecus and its impact on scientific thinking. The “hero” of the Hesperopithecus fiasco was Henry Fairfield Osborn, a leading evolutionary biologist. Once again, we encounter a scientist motivated by intense personal rivalry and preconceived notions, which paved the way for yet another scientific disaster. Osborn was universally recognized as “a great paleontologist” and served as the director of the world-famous American Museum of Natural History in New York. His feelings for Bryan were described as “pure venom and contempt.”Osburn hated Bryan with a passion, setting the stage for a vicious confrontation. The Osburn-Bryan confrontation began in February 1922, when the New York Times published an article by Bryan attacking Darwin’s theory of evolution, soon followed by a reply from Osburn which

Lucy fraud:

This fossil, discovered in Africa in 1974, was widely esteemed by evolutionists and was the subject of some of the most intensive speculation. Recently however, it has been revealed that Lucy had an anatomy ideally suited to climbing trees and was no different from other apes we are familiar with. The French scientific journal Science et Vie covered the story in 1999 under the headline “Adieu, Lucy.” One study, conducted in 2000, discovered a locking system in Lucy’s forearms enabling it to walk using the knuckles,in the same way as modern-day chimps. In the face of all these findings, many evolutionist experts declared that Lucy could not have been a forerunner of man. Yet, despite being exposed as a fake, it is still on display in museums!

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Fraudulent Proofs:

Ernst Haeckel publicized a series of drawings of various embryos, in which he gave the human embryo a conspicuous tail, to prove that man and animals have common characteristics. Afterward, he was forced to admit that he had intentionally falsified his drawings in order to make his point more convincing. He invented imaginary links in evolution and gave them impressive names in order to overawe the public. Unfortunately,even though he admitted that his sketches were fake, they continue to be reproduced in textbooks.

defended the scientific principles of evolution and argued the concept of evolution was, in fact, completely compatible with the Bible. To ridicule Bryan’s rejection of fossil evidence, Osborn cited a biblical passage: “Speak to the earth and it shall teach you” (Iyov 12:8). Osborn was referring, of course, to the fossil evidence. In the month following this sharp exchange of articles in the New York Times, a geologist sent Osburn a fossil tooth that he had discovered. Osburn quickly created a sensation by claiming that it was the first anthropoid fossil ever found in America. This claim was to lead to Osborn’s downfall. Professor Gould describes what happened: Osborn’s enthusiasm warmed as he studied the tooth and considered its implications. An American anthropoid would certainly be a coup for Osborn’s argument that the earth spoke to Bryan in the language of evolution… Therefore, Osborn proclaimed the momentous first discovery of a direct human ancestor in America. Osborn named the fossil Hesperopithecus and presented it to the scientific world in a paper published in the April 1922 issue of the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Osborn exulted in the uncannily happy coincidences of time and place. This fossil was discovered at the very time that Bryan was denying fossil evidence, but the crowning irony was that Hesperopithecus was found in Nebraska, Bryan’s home state! No fossil could have had greater potential to embarrass Bryan; no fossil could have bettered Hesperopithecus for rhetorical impact. Needless to say, the precious irony of the situation was not lost on Osborn, who inserted the following gloat of triumph into his aforementioned article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: It has been suggested humorously that the fossil should be named “Bryanopithecus” after the most distinguished primate that the State of Nebraska has ever produced. It is certainly singular that I had advised William Jennings Bryan to consult a certain passage


Propaganda of the Museums:

A visit to any museum of natural history is a trip through a propaganda mill. Everything is tremendously biased. It is a museum dedicated to the religion of Evolution. The unsuspecting visitor views the exhibits and believes these bones are of proven age and is persuaded that these hideous ape-men were found exactly as exhibited. The visitor is unaware that the fossils are dressed up to create the illusion that scientists knew exactly how these creatures looked when they were alive. The above falsified images are still displayed today in the American Museum of Natural History!

in the Book of Job, “Speak to the earth and it shall teach you” and it is a remarkable coincidence that the first earth to speak on this subject is the sandy earth of Snake Creek in western Nebraska. For several years after the discovery of Hesperopithecus in 1922, Osborn missed no opportunity to use this fossil to heap public abuse on Bryan. On the eve of the Scopes trial in 1925, Osburn published a book devoted primarily to ridiculing Bryan, and chose a biting parody of Job as his title: The Earth Speaks to Bryan. In addition to using Hesperopithecus to attack Bryan, Osborn publicized the prize fossil in his American Museum of Natural History, commissioning “a graphic reconstruction of a Hesperopithecus couple in a forest surrounded by other members of the Snake Creek fauna, prepared by the well-known scientific artist Amadee Forestier.” This reconstruction was a marvelous example of the lifelike threedimensional exhibits for which this museum is justly famous. Looking at a photograph of the well-known Hesperopithecus exhibit, one cannot help but be amazed by the many details of the physical appearance and cultural behavior of this prehistoric man and woman that Osborn and “the well-known scientific artist” claimed to have deduced from one single tooth! Five years later, Osborn’s world collapsed. Additional fossil evidence discovered in the Snake Creek beds in Nebraska showed conclusively that the Hesperopithecus fossil was, in fact, the tooth of a pig! Osborn’s long-standing claim that Hesperopithecus was an anthropoid was officially retracted in the December 16, 1927 issue of Science. As a sorry comment on Osborn’s integrity, it should be noted that his name does not appear in the retraction article. He left to a colleague the embarrassing task of admitting publicly that their famous Hesperopithecus “prehistoric man” was really nothing but a pig. As Gould explains: “Osborn simply shut up and never mentioned Hesperopithecus again in his numerous succeeding articles on human ancestry.” Once again, we must ask, how could such a farce have happened? Why were America’s leading hominid paleontologists so ready to accept the absurd idea that a single tooth – so worn that it could not even be properly identified as belonging to a pig – was sufficient to

establish a new class of prehistoric men? Among the results of this scientific fiasco was the fact that during five years, a million visitors to the American Museum of National History in New York were enthralled by the brilliantly executed reconstruction of the Hesperopithecus prehistoric man and woman living in the Nebraskan forest. Few of these visitors would ever read the scientific literature which revealed the truth about “the man who was really a pig.”

CONCLUSIONS

In our account of 20th-century hominid paleontology, we have encountered several fraudulent “discoveries” of hominid fossils – the gentle man who was described as a savage brute (Neanderthal Man), the modern orangutan who was mistaken for our prehistoric ancestor (Piltdown Man), and the pig who was misrepresented as a man (Hesperopithecus). All three almost unbelievable mistakes were made by the most prominent names in hominid paleontology: in France (Marcellin Boule), in England (Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, Sir Grafton Elliot Smith, Sir Arthur Keith), and in the United States (Henry Fairfield Osborn). Moreover, two of these gross misrepresentations were universally accepted by the scientific community for nearly half a century! The misinterpretations of fossils carry an important message for the believing person pertaining to the general question of contradictions between Torah and science. One must not lose sight of the fact that scientific research is carried out by human beings, who are subject to the same shortcomings of prejudice, professional jealousy and national pride that afflict us all. The history of science shows that subjective behavior has plagued some of the most famous scientists throughout their careers. Therefore, current perceived “contradictions” between Torah and science may well melt away as new scientific understanding emerges. In fact, this has already happened in many scientific disciplines, including geology, cosmology and molecular biology, where the discoveries of the last few decades have led to a rapidly growing convergence between Torah and science. Adapted from ‘The Jewish World of Wonders’.

One must not lose sight of the fact that scientific research is carried out by human beings, who are subject to the same shortcomings of prejudice, professional jealousy and national pride that afflict us all.

HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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THE B.A.C., LLP

Sportsman of the Month

This month’s B.A.C., LLP Sportsman of the Month is…

Zack Ashkenazie The playoff chances for the Black Zack had a knack for coming through Mambas looked bleak, at best. Staring in the biggest situations. at elimination, the Black Mambas A leader by example, Zack’s quiet, needed to win four out of the last five positive influence on his teammates sets games in order to earn a playoff berth him aside from the rest of the younger in the M&S Night Softball League. generation. We are very excited to Judging from their performance after name Zack as this month’s Sportsman the first seven games of the season, of the Month. Congratulations Zack! when they sported an underwhelming Honorable mention goes to Allie 2-5 record, the odds of them making Marshall. Allie was the Most Valuable it into the playoffs did not look too Player of the 2013 M&S Night Softball promising. League. Winning this year’s award But then came along 19-year-old is impressive enough, but even more superstar Zack Ashkenazie. Zack’s remarkable is the fact that this is Allie’s torrid hitting and dazzling play in the third consecutive year bringing home field led his team to an incredible surge MVP honors. Allie is far and away to propel the Black Mambas into the the best player in the league, both playoffs. statistically and as a teammate. Over the final four games, Zack Allie is a former minor league hit a scorching12 for 18 at the plate, baseball player who played for the including three doubles, one triple, and Mountain Dale Lions, a minor league one homerun, for an incredible 1.111 affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The M&S slugging pct. In the field, his versatility Night Softball committee wanted to and defensive prowess was a huge spread the wealth and give a different asset for the Black Mambas, giving player a chance to win this honor, them the luxury of playing him but Allie’s stellar play made in multiple positions in the it impossible to even think field. Zack’s speed, sure about presenting the MVP hands, and cannon-like award to another player. arm proved to be an The back of Allie’s invaluable weapon, as baseball card this season his gold-glove defense speaks for itself. He led saved numerous runs the league in batting over the course of the average (.581), on base season. Down the stretch, pct. (.711), slugging pct. Allie Marshall 46

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(1.129), doubles and walks. He was also among the leaders in homeruns, runs scored, and RBIs. The committee really had no choice but to award Allie with yet another MVP trophy. Amazing! Stay tuned next year, as Allie tries to make it four in a row. If you, or your league, would like to nominate a candidate who displays skill, sportsmanship, and community values that warrants recognition, simply send in the athlete’s name along with a photo and a brief summary, including statistics and accomplishments, to Sports@CommunityM.com. Athletes involved in any of our community’s sports leagues, events, tournaments, or other organized play are eligible. Please note that this honor is not necessarily awarded to the highest scorer or to the top rated player, but rather to the best all-around sportsman. A true sportsman is not interested in winning at all costs, but rather plays the game while demonstrating good values, teamwork, courteousness, selfdiscipline, and respect for all players.


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Bet Din CEASE AND DESIST

Rabbi Max Sutton,

Rosh Bet Din Aram Soba, Jerusalem, Israel

The Case

An affluent Jewish congregation in the Tri-State area entered into a contractual agreement with Harold to construct a community center in the heart of their neighborhood. The edifice was to include a synagogue, social hall, mikveh, and sports arena, and Harold hired out subcontractors for each of the different features of the project. The mikveh complex was subcontracted to Maurice, who was entrusted with the project based on his impressive résumé. But after the mikveh was completed, a bitter monetary dispute raged between Harold and Maurice with regard to the total cost of the project. The two appeared in Bet Din to resolve the complicated matter, in which Maurice claimed he was owed a substantial amount of money and thus requested a “cease and desist” order, preventing use of the mikveh by the public until he was paid in full. He pointed out that the mikveh was built using his raw material and his workers, and until he received the full payment, it should be forbidden to use. Maurice further noted that forbidding the use of the mikveh could also be beneficial to Harold in giving him leverage to recoup some of the additional expenses he had incurred from the congregation which hired him. Additionally, he claimed that since the local neighborhood maintained an operating mikveh in the area, preventing use of the new mikveh would not prevent people from observing this important mitzvah. Harold responded that while it is likely that he owed Maurice a minimal amount, he was by no means willing to make any further payments until their dispute was resolved. In addition, Harold felt it would be preposterous to punish the congregation until he makes whatever payment is required, given the small amount entailed. How should the Bet Din rule? Does Maurice have a valid claim? Should the Bet Din prevent the opening of the mikveh until the matter is resolved?

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photo by: Abraham Amzalak

FROM THE FILES OF THE

Torah Law According to the ruling of the Shulhan Aruch, a craftsman who receives raw material for labor is not viewed as the rightful owner of the developed product. Although the craftsman developed and enhanced the raw material submitted to him, nevertheless, he is not deemed the product’s legal owner. If, however, a craftsman supplies the raw material for a product that he subsequently develops, he is considered the product’s owner. Since his time and money was invested, he is the legal owner and is entitled to dictate and control the status of the product. (There is one opinion that a craftsman maintains the status of an employee even if he supplies the raw material, but the consensus among the halachic authorities is to rule as aforementioned.) This ruling applies in instances in which the craftsman or contractor performed services for his client without first receiving monetary compensation. If, however, the client prepaid for the work performed, the money extended is viewed as payment for the cost of the raw material, thereby making the client the official titleholder of the project. As the property owner, all major considerations with regard to usage, occupancy and the like are to be regulated by his order. This applies even if the prepaid sum covers only the cost of the raw materials and not the cost of labor. Since Endnotes:

Shulhan Aruch Hoshen Mishpat 306:1, Ibid Shach;

the client paid for the material, the contractor is viewed as an employee who is simply owed wages for his services. According to the Shulhan Aruch, shareholders in a property cannot prohibit entry onto the premises from one another. Since they had invested together, each have the legal right of entry, and until proven otherwise, each may equally share and benefit from the property. Likewise, if one partner has the property deed in his name, along with a certificate of occupancy enabling him legal entry, the other investing partner may not prohibit entry, even if the other partner has a valid claim. As titleholder, one maintains legal possession of the property and is thus entitled to occupy it until the claims against him are validated by a Bet Din. By Torah law, in instances in which a dispute occurs with regard to public property, a Bet Din must be very deliberate and cautious before preventing the public from occupying the grounds. Although the legal position of the public is by no means favored over that of a private individual, nevertheless, a Bet Din will refrain from issuing a cease and desist order against a public building unless clear evidence is submitted to validate the claim. Without hearing the case, and without a formal lien on the property, a Bet Din is likely to reject a cease and desist order.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger, Hoshen Mishpat 339; Ketzot Hahoshen 339:3; Netivot Hamishpat 333:15;

Hazon Ish, Baba Kama 23:35; Shulhan Aruch Yoreh Deah 226:1; Kuntras Hasefekot 1:6; Rama, Hoshen Mishpat 4:1.

Verdict: PROCEED AND PERMIT The Bet Din rejected Maurice’s request for a cease and desist order to prevent public use of the mikveh until his dispute with Harold is resolved. Although Maurice used his raw materials and workers to construct the edifice, upon inquiry, he acknowledged that he received numerous payments which clearly covered the costs of the raw material. Hence, as discussed, Maurice maintains the status of an employee, and is not entitled to dictate the conditions of occupancy of the property. Furthermore, even if a substantial sum of money is due to him, he is at best only a partner in the property, and by Torah law he cannot prohibit the other partners from entering. In addition, the leaders of the congregation submitted the deed and the certificate of occupancy allowing them entry onto the premises. With the members of the congregation in full legal possession of the mikveh, Maurice’s request for a cease and desist was easily discarded, and the Bet Din instructed his attorneys to proceed with the monetary claim for possible collection. As mentioned, a Bet Din will generally be very hesitant to prevent entry into a community building.


YOU

BE BE THE THE

JUDGE! THREE iPHONE 5’S

Eli went out for lunch with his friend David in a local café in Israel. The two were discussing Eli’s upcoming vacation in Los Angeles, and David asked Eli to purchase for him the new iPhone 5 while he is in the States. Eli agreed, and David handed to Eli the full sum, in cash, for the purchase. Upon Eli’s arrival to the Apple store, and after inspecting the new gadget, he decided to purchase three phones: one for David, one for his own personal use, and one which he intended to sell in Israel for a profit. Eli carefully wrapped the three phones in bubble wrap and packed them in his suitcase. Upon his arrival in Israel, Eli opened his suitcase and discovered that his bag was tampered with. He inspected the contents of the bag and immediately detected that the bubble wrap was ripped and one of the phones were missing. Eli filed a complaint with the airport authorities, and while they were willing to conduct an investigation, they added that it was possible the phone had been stolen by a passenger as the suitcase was revolved around the carousel. Eli decided that it was David’s phone which had been stolen, and contacted David to inform him of the unfortunate turn of events. David responded that Eli had no right to determine that his was the phone which was stolen, since all three models were exactly the same. He suggested that they split the loss between the two of them, or that Eli should suffer two-thirds of the loss as two of the three phones were his.

HOW SHOULD THE BET DIN RULE – IN FAVOR OF ELI OR DAVID?

YOUandBE THE JUDGE send your response to YouJudge@CommunityM.com

Verdicts – and the accompanying rationale – will be reviewed by the Rosh Bet Din. The first three correct submissions received before the deadline will

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HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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The Top 10 Questions & Answers on custom and laws of

Forbidden Activities Before Shaharit RABBI DANIEL D. LEVY

1

WHY ARE MOST ACTIVITIES FORBIDDEN BEFORE ONE PRAYS SHAHARIT IN THE MORNING?

The Gemara (Berachot 14a) states that one should not engage in any activities before praying the Amidah in the morning, because one should first give honor to his Creator before tending to his personal needs. The Rama (in Shulhan Aruch Orah Haim 89:3) cites those who allow tending to one’s personal needs after reciting birkot hashahar (the morning blessings, from modeh ani until the end of birkat kohanim), but it is preferable to follow the stringent view in this regard.

2

MAY ONE LEARN TORAH BEFORE PRAYING SHAHARIT?

After dawn, one is allowed to learn before Shaharit only if he does so regularly and is in a synagogue or other place where there is no concern that he will miss the final time for Shaharit. One is also allowed to learn together with a group, since the merit of public Torah learning is so significant that it may precede prayer, as long as he ensures not to miss the final times for Shema and the Amida (Shulhan Aruch 89:6). Hacham David Yosef (Halachah Berurah Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, volume 1, footnote 34) adds that if one appoints somebody else, who is not learning, to remind him to pray before the final time for Shaharit, then he may learn alone before praying, even if he does not do so regularly.

3

MAY ONE SHOWER IN THE MORNING BEFORE SHAHARIT?

4

IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO EXERCISE BEFORE SHAHARIT?

If showering upon arising in the morning is part of one’s daily routine, and doing so helps him feel awake and refreshed, then he may shower before Shaharit, even before sunrise. He should have in mind that he is doing so to have a clean body and be refreshed in preparation for approaching Hashem, the King. One may likewise immerse in a mikveh before Shaharit.

One may exercise before a half-hour prior to dawn, though he should first recite birkot hashahar. After dawn, one should not exercise before Shaharit, though some halachic authorities allow doing so if one has no other time to exercise and this will enhance his prayer by raising his energy level and clearing his mind.

5

IS ONE PERMITTED TO GREET HIS FRIEND WHOM HE MEETS IN THE SYNAGOGUE PARKING LOT BEFORE SHAHARIT ?

Once the time for Shaharit has arrived, one should ensure to “greet” Hashem by praying before greeting other people. Therefore, before praying the Amidah of Shaharit, one may not go to greet his friend (even by just gesturing) at his home or at his place in the synagogue (unless this is somebody who might cause him harm if he does not greet him). However, if one encounters a person unexpectedly, such as on his way to the synagogue, in the parking lot or in the hallway, then he may extend a greeting for the sake of common courtesy (Shulhan Aruch 89:2). Even in such a case, though, one should avoid full-fledged conversation.

6

WHEN ONE IS PERMITTED TO EXTEND A GREETING BEFORE SHAHARIT, ARE THERE ARE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON THE WORDS THAT MAY BE SAID?

Even when extending a greeting is allowed before Shaharit, one should not use the word “shalom” in his greeting, as this is one of the Names of Hashem. Common greetings such as “hello” and “good morning” are permitted. One who has prayed may go over to someone else who hasn’t yet prayed and extend a greeting, even though the other person will be inclined to respond, as long as they avoid full-fledged conversation.

7

UNDER WHICH CIRCUMSTANCES MAY ONE WORK BEFORE PRAYING SHAHARIT?

A) Before dawn, one may work or engage in other activities, such as reading the newspaper, reading emails, shaving, and so on. According to one opinion (Eliyahu Rabbah), even before dawn one should not get too involved in work, and one should refrain from work altogether a half-hour before dawn. The Mishnah Berurah allows working before Shaharit once he has recited birkot hashahar, as long as he is careful to pray before the final time for Shaharit. One should not rely on this Mishnah Berurah except in extenuating circumstances. B) One may engage in activities involving a mitzvah, such as purchasing food on Friday morning for Shabbat, before Shaharit, as long as he is careful to pray before the final time for Shaharit.

Dedicated in loving memory of Hacham Nissim ben Mazal a.h 50

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FREE

8

WHAT IS ONE ALLOWED TO EAT OR DRINK BEFORE SHAHARIT?

As a general rule, it is forbidden to even take a small taste of food after dawn until one prays Shaharit, as it is considered arrogant to eat before speaking to Hashem (Shulhan Aruch 89:5). If one began to eat a half-hour before dawn, he should stop eating at dawn. The Zohar maintains that one should not eat after waking up even before dawn until he prays. However, if a person is ill or feels weak, and eating a small amount will enhance his ability to pray, he may do so, but he should preferably recite birkot hashahar before eating. If one needs to take medicine which requires him to first eat a substantial amount of food, he should first recite birkot hashahar and Shema and then eat (Biur Tefillah). Children may eat before Shaharit, but from the age of 12 a child should begin training not to eat before praying (Halachah Berurah , p. 549, note 24). Women who recite birkot hashahar may eat and drink even an entire meal before praying the rest of Shaharit.

9

MAY ONE DRINK COFFEE OR TEA BEFORE SHAHARIT?

One may drink water before Shaharit, but other beverages, such as beer and milk, are forbidden. It is permissible to drink tea and coffee before Shaharit. The Mishnah Berurah rules that one may not drink tea or coffee to which sugar was added, but most contemporary halachic authorities, including HaGaon Hacham Ovadia Yosef, shelita, maintain that sugar is allowed since this has become the common way of drinking tea and coffee. One should not add milk to his coffee before Shaharit unless he feels weak (Halachah Berurah). If one drinks tea or coffee before Shaharit, he should do so with the intention of drinking so he could have energy to properly pray and serve Hashem. It is improper for people congregate in a coffee room and get involved in conversation before Shaharit.

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MAY ONE TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE OR TIDY UP THE BEDS BEFORE PRAYING?

Small tasks that do not require much work, such as taking out the garbage or making the beds, may be performed before Shaharit in the morning. Stirctly speaking, it is also permissible to quickly glance at a newspaper or check one’s emails, but detailed reading or tending to numerous emails would be forbidden starting a half-hour before dawn. Even before performing small tasks, it is preferable to first recite birkot hashahar, as praying to Hashem must be one’s highest priority upon awaking in the morning.

& Jamileh bat Mazal Cohena.h.

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DOLLAR AND SENSE Climbing the Mountain of Credit Card Debt Credit cards can be a very useful and convenient tool, when used correctly. The trouble is that many people misuse their credit cards by charging more than they can afford each month. Credit card companies actually rely on people misusing their cards; the interest charged on outstanding balances represents the primary way in which credit card companies generate revenue. There are many advantages to using credit cards. You never run of out money. You can use your credit card to pay for purchases by telephone or online, and they can be used anywhere in the world. Many also offer the possibility of earning rewards, in the form of airline miles, cash-back offers or other perks. So much for the advantages of using credit cards. Now let’s address the drawbacks. Drawback number one is that they make it deceptively easy to spend money, whether you have the money or you don’t. The act of swiping a credit card is not nearly as painful as taking actual money out of your wallet, and for some, it’s actually painfully enjoyable. The other major drawback of credit cards is that they are a form of debt, and credit card debt is one of the worst forms of debt, for two reasons: it usually carries very high interest rates, and there is no repayment deadline. As long as you keep making minimum payments, credit card companies are quite happy to keep tacking interest onto your balance and let your debt swell to ever-greater proportions. In addition, credit card companies are legally allowed to monitor your credit report, and should you make a late payment on a loan, a different credit card, or a utility bill, your interest rates can be increased dramatically, even if you have never missed a payment on that particular card! Because credit card debt is so dangerous, our advice is that the only people who should use credit cards are those who (a) can rein in their spending despite the convenience of plastic, and (b) consistently pay their balance in full every month. But what if you have already fallen into credit card debt? Here are some suggestions for scaling the mountain:

$60,000, another $5,000 won’t make any difference.”) Cut your losses now, and don’t allow yourself to charge even one additional item.

Stop using your credit cards

Get professional debt counseling assistance

If you’re already behind on your monthly payments, don’t aggravate the situation by accumulating more credit card debt. Although this may seem obvious, it is actually the opposite of how people generally work. People who owe money generally have the tendency to lose a major psychological deterrent to borrowing, and they let their debt slowly inflate. (“What’s the difference if I owe $600 or $900?” “If I already owe 52

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Take out a loan to pay off your credit card debt Almost any type of loan is preferable to credit card debt because interest rates are generally much lower and there is a specific repayment timeframe. Work out repayment terms that reflect your ability to repay, which will help you discipline yourself to put aside a fixed sum every month for debt repayment.

Do a balance transfer to another card While you might pay a fee, transferring your outstanding balance to a card with a lower interest rate will decrease the amount you carry from month to month.

Find a card with a low interest rate Some credit cards offer relatively low interest rates. Shopping around for a better rate than the one you currently have can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month. Look out, however, for introductory offers that end after several months or exclusions that limit the low rate to new purchases.

Never, ever miss a minimum payment Missing minimum payments is a big no-no, and can severely damage your credit rating. Since credit card companies are among those monitoring and contributing to customers’ credit reports, a late or missed payment on one charge account could cause your rates and fees to increase on a completely separate account – even your car insurance premiums.

Pay off credit card balances from smallest to largest The smallest debts are the easiest to pay off, and clearing them out of the way helps you make the fastest progress towards getting your finances in order.

Make micro-payments In addition to the minimum payments, send in whatever small amounts you can to gradually pay off your balance. Climbing the mountain of credit card debt can be a very tough task to tackle alone. We recommend you contact us at info@mesilainternational.org. Mesila is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families and businesses in Israel, the US, Canada, and England achieve financial stability and independence. For further information please contact us at info@mesilainternational.org.


insights into education

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YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND

RIFKA SCHONFELD eorge Bernard Shaw wrote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” In other words, the worst miscommunication is when you think you have accurately conveyed something to another person, when in reality, he or she completely missed your point. Communication is a lot more than the words we say and how we say them. Research has shown that language is also interpreted by the listener, who “decodes” the words based on his or her experiences. This is especially true when dealing with people who suffer from certain disorders or learning disabilities, such as Down Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, and ADHD.

Down Syndrome

Dr. Sue Buckley describes the language difficulties experienced by Down Syndrome children: Despite a wide range of individual differences, most children are late in saying their first words, their vocabulary grows more slowly than in ordinary children and although they use the same range of two- word phrases as all children, they have difficulty in mastering the many rules for talking in grammatically correct sentences. In addition to their delayed language development, Down Syndrome children are also generally less mature than other children their age. As a result, they will have trouble understanding their peers when they discuss age-appropriate topics to which they are not yet able to relate. Communication is thus impaired both by the child’s limited vocabulary and improper grammar, and his limited understanding of the social world around him. Down Syndrome Education International suggests several ways to increase Down Syndrome children’s understanding of language:

Early Conversation: All children learn from conversation with their parents, even when they are unable to respond. As children grow, adults should try to appropriately expand two and three-word utterances into full sentences, to encourage conversational comfort and fluidity.

Sign language can help reduce the negative effects of production delay and keep up the rate of vocabulary acquisition. Because children with Down Syndrome have oral delays in language, sign language can help them learn words that their mouths might not be able to say.

Asperger’s Syndrome

Hans Asperger noticed he had many patients with deficient social and communicative skills even though they had normal language production and cognitive abilities. The disorder he identified, and which is now known by his name, is characterized by difficulty producing and interpreting facial expressions, body language, and gestures. Patients with Asperger’s usually want to fit in and interact with others, but don’t know how. They may be socially awkward, not pick up on social cues, or show a lack of empathy. Children with Asperger’s are visual learners and thinkers, and thus visuals can be helpful in improving comprehension. Examples include:

Checklists: Creating visual checklists with the “to do list” can help children with Asperger’s understand their responsibilities and goals. Hand signals: Incorporate hand signals into daily communication. For instance, if you want your child to say he needs to go to the bathroom, but he has trouble saying those words, create a hand signal that explains his need.

Lists of rules: Children with Asperger’s can benefit from a written list of rules posted on the wall, as opposed to just hearing them presented verbally.

ADHD

ADHD is a common disorder that affects 8-10 percent of school age children. Dr. Richard Kingsley explains, “Kids with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive, and have trouble focusing. They may understand what’s expected but have trouble following through because they can’t sit still, pay attention, or attend to details.” ADHD children often struggle to find the right words and put them together in a linear and efficient manner, which can lead to reluctance to explore their ability to vocalize, learn new sounds, or listen to the language spoken. This, in turn, leads to delays in language acquisition, and a vicious cycle of a refusal to communicate and aggravation resulting from the inability to articulate feelings. ADHD children who misinterpret language lack not the raw skills, but rather practice. Several techniques can help ADHD children develop language and communication:

Initial communication: If a child refuses to speak, come up with alternate forms of communication to use at the beginning (signing, pictures, writing).

Repetition: In order to avoid miscommunication, have children repeat the language in their own words. Social skills training: Role-playing potential interactions can help ADHD children understand and read social situations, such as making introductions and casual conversations with friends.

Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld, founder and director of the SOS program, is an educator and educational consultant with specialization as a keriah and reading coach. Serving the Jewish community for close to 30 years, she has experience providing evaluations, G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness.

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TRAVEL FEATURES Place To Go, Place To See Mid-winter vacation ideas

Traveling Light The guidelines for a good vacation are also great tools for the good life…

Family Travel Tips Essential Travel Tips to help make your next family vacation fun and memorable!

Shaatra Does It – Travel Frances Haddad

HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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Places To Go,

Places To See FRANCES HADDAD

“W

hew!” exclaimed Miri from New Jersey, as she mopped her brow with her right palm and surveyed her finally gleaming kitchen. “The last pot has been scrubbed, and every speck is swept off the tiled floor,” she sighed. “I can’t believe the holidays are over.” She dropped into the closest chair and turned to her husband, Shimmy. “They were amazingly uplifting!” “Yes, they really were incredible,” Shimmy said with a nostalgic smile. “Thank you for all the hard work you put in to making them so memorable.” He paused for a moment before adding, “After all that cooking and cleaning, you could sure use a break!” Miri dried her hands on the pink-and-white checkered kitchen towel. “You know, Shimmy, mid-winter vacation is coming up. The break from school would be an excellent opportunity to take the kids away for a few days and unwind. True, traveling somewhere on a plane may be unreasonable, but we are lucky enough to live within driving distance to some pretty great get-away spots!” “Miri, what a great idea,” Shimmy enthused. “We can spend quality family time, all while saving on airfare. That’s what I call having your cake and eating it too!” Like Miri, you may also be hoping for a well-needed respite from the recent holiday whirlwind. And like Shimmy, you may be striving to keep travel bills to a minimum. Fortunately for those seeking a delightful family get-away at the fraction of the cost of a cross-country or international retreat, there are several terrific getaway spots just a car ride away from NY and NJ. These destinations offer sight-seeing and child-friendly activities to boot, all while allowing for rejuvenation and family bonding-time.

Home of the White House: Washington, D.C. For American history buffs, Washington D.C. has obvious appeal. But it also offers lots of exciting attractions even for those who fall asleep at the mention of the Revolutionary War. “After my graduation trip to Washington, D.C., I must admit that I remembered it as quite educational, and frankly, a bit boring,” says Sally L., a community mom from Brooklyn. “But a couple of years 58

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Niagara Falls

ago, my husband and I spent a few days there, and I can’t even tell you what a blast it was!” Sally shares that she especially enjoyed the International Spy Museum, which provides insight into the daily life of professional spies. The Newseum, a breathtaking display of centuries of news showcased in a vast 250,000 square-foot building, and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which has a special display of each of the 44 U.S. Presidents, also topped Sally’s list. “If given the chance, I would go back in a heartbeat!” Sally shares. The nation’s capital is home to hundreds of museums that are both educational and entertaining. The Smithsonian Institute, the world’s largest museum complex, has 19 museums under its wing, including the Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum encases one of the most tragic eras of Jewish history, and visiting will add an extraordinary depth to your knowledge of the Holocaust. Of course, the Washington Monument and The Lincoln Memorial are must-see pieces of American history. And although the White House no longer accepts tour groups due to security concerns, you can peer through the black-iron front gate to get a glimpse of the President’s home (and snap some pictures!). Its hundreds of reasonably-priced hotels and handful of kosher restaurants make Washington D.C., the country’s capital, the perfect place for a two or three-day retreat.

The Smallest State in the Union: Rhode Island Rhode Island is the smallest of our country’s 50 states, yet it is home to America’s oldest synagogue. Visit the magnificent Touro Synagogue in Newport, and revel in the rich history of an influential early Sephardic community that settled in the U.S. during colonial times. Also in Newport are exquisite mansions that were once the summer homes of America’s wealthiest elite during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, they belong to The Preservation Society of Newport County, and are open for tours. Visit the mammoth homes that once belonged to the Astors, Vanderbilts, and other legendary, mega rich families.


The White House in Washington, D.C.

Skiing on Shawnee Mountain

After you are done in Newport, take a 45-minute drive to Providence and visit The Roger Williams Park and Zoo. The 430acre park features a gorgeous carousel and a train ride, and the worldrenowned zoo is open all year round, showcasing over 100 species of Hashem’s marvelous animal creations. Next, visit the Providence Children’s Museum, where your younger children will have a ball as they discover both educational and interactive exhibits. Before heading out to Rhode Island, keep in mind that access to kosher food is limited, so it’s best to stay safe and bring your own. Either you can freeze your own meals, or you can buy some ready-made items to keep things simple. While there are several hotels in Rhode Island, lodging can be brought to the next level at The Ocean House, a Rhode Island-based resort that has been ranked one of the top 10 in the U.S and named a 2013 Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Award Winner.

A Sight to Behold: Niagara Falls Have some really good car games and want to put them to good use? Well, the journey to Niagara Falls will give you plenty of time! True, the nearly seven-hour drive is not recommended for those prone to carsickness. But for those who can handle the drive, the humbling view of the magnificent falls that will greet you will make the 100 renditions of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” all worth it in the end. If you are traveling to Niagara before October 24, you’re in luck! The Maid of The Mist boat ride, one of the most famous tourist attractions in North America, will still be open. The Maid brings you close to the base of the Falls, so you can feel the mist of the waters. Not to worry – as you ride upon the 600-passenger boat, the souvenir raincoat that you receive will keep you dry so you can take in the breathtaking sight without getting drenched. Cave of the Winds is another amazing attraction, that takes you through a rock-encased cave complete with stalactites and stalagmites, and onto a small bridge adjacent to the bottom of the Falls, for an up-close and personal view of this most amazing wonder. As you stand beside the roaring, glittering waters, be mindful of Hashem’s glorious creations and His very evident role in our daily lives. Kosher food is hard to come by in Niagara, so to avoid the headache of driving miles to a restaurant on an empty stomach, pack your own food. And make sure to do your homework before your trip. There are several hotels in the area, and it’s worth your

The Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence

time to find the best quality for the best price. Remember to stay within the constraints of your budget! Oh, and please don’t forget: if you plan on going into Canada to get an even better view of the Falls, be sure to bring your passport and those of your family members!

Brrrrr: Shawnee Mountain, PA Calling all Eskimos! If you love snow, ice, and the feeling of a nearly frost-bitten nose, then this trip’s for you! Shawnee Mountain in the Poconos, Pennsylvania offers skiing, snow-tubing and heaps of fun in mounds of snow. So bundle up in your puffiest coat, get on the ski lift and ride down the slopes. Beginners, start on easier trails. Ski experts – advance to Black Diamond! Warm up at night in your rented villa just a couple of miles from Shawnee Mountain by sitting next to the heated fireplace. Bask in the warmth while you can, because before you know it, morning will beckon and you’ll be bracing the chilled air and enjoying another day of snow-filled fun!

The Staycation If you don’t feel like traveling at all, and the thought of packing and planning makes you dizzy, then the “Staycation” is your best bet. Yes, you can have a vacation from the rigorous routine of dayto-day life all from the comfort of your own home. Find out about aquariums, museums and amusement parks in your own city. Let your kids sleep late. Go out for lunch. Tour your hometown through new eyes. And the best part is, you get to sleep in your own bed and you don’t have to pack a thing! With the right mindset, and, most importantly, a positive attitude, you can enjoy and fun-filled, invigorating vacation without the hassles and costs of traveling.

Take it All In Whether your travels lead you to a place close to home or very far away, remember that you will be back to routine faster than you can say “Vacation!” So do yourself a favor, and stop to smell the roses. Vacation is meant for rest and relaxation, so utilize the time spent away from the bustle of everyday life for just that. If you need to sleep in a little late or just sit down and speak to your spouse or play with your kids, now is the time! Vacation days have a way of going by all too fast, so make sure to take in every moment before it’s too late! HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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t h g i L g n i l e v a

DIANE FABER VEITZER

The guidelines for a good vacation are also great tools for the good life… For a recent weeklong trip to Europe, I carried a single brown distressed-leather flight bag. With two sweaters, three turtlenecks, earmuffs and a scarf, I had everything I needed for a wonderful European vacation. Some years before, I had traveled abroad for four months, with just that same brown bag. Somehow, even on the much longer trip, I still had everything I needed. When I breezed through customs with my satchel last week, the customs inspector marveled, “How do you travel with so little baggage?” I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot, and one thing I know for sure: carrying a large suitcase is not life-affirming – not in the north of Thailand, not in West Africa, not in the American South. I don’t want to spend any of my travel time hoisting and shlepping. I want to be able to get up and go, and to change courses – quickly. Everything I possibly can, I leave behind. It’s all about the goal. When I’m on vacation, I’ve usually spent a lot of money and committed precious time to getting somewhere new. I want to be present every possible moment. I want to be spiritually uncluttered; I want my attention out, toward the architecture around me, or the artwork, or the undisturbed natural beauty. I want to meet people; I want time to think. And to do those things, I need to feel unburdened and must spend as little time as possible in my hotel room trying on outfits, styling my hair, even looking in the mirror – at myself. To achieve my goal, I accept that I won’t have a dozen choices of which color shirt to wear. I don’t need different makeup to go with the dozen outfits I’m not carrying with me. I don’t need the hair styling equipment for six hairstyles that go with the outfits. I know all I really need is a minimum wardrobe, a simple hairstyle, and a great attitude. Interestingly, these guidelines for a good vacation are also great tools for the good life back at home. The less “baggage” I carry around with me, the easier it is to see the world around me – to see

where I can be helpful, where I am needed. The more time I spend wallowing in choices of what to wear and what to eat, the less time I have to find the unique and new experience of the day before me. A story is told of a group of travelers who visited the Hafetz Haim, the great sage of the early 20th century. They were shocked to find his lodgings quite spare. “Rabbi,” they asked, “where is your furniture?” “Well, where is yours?” the sage replied. “We don’t have any furniture,” they responded, “because we are just passing through.” He smiled and said, “And so am I.” While it is unlikely that any of us will choose to live without furniture, the lesson can still be learned. This life is not about acquiring things. Some things are necessary for living – some food, some clothes, some shelter – but at some point there is enough, and then there is more than enough, weighing us down. We purchase things, and we clutter our homes with them, because we think they will enhance our lives, but as we clean and maintain them, and discuss them and repair them, these things can drain our lives and prevent us from getting on to the business of living. Same with the focus on oneself. It is wonderful to look healthy and attractive, but at some point creating the façade takes over living the life. It is easy to control how much I travel with – it’s just whatever fits in the distressed-leather satchel. It is much harder to draw boundaries around what I own, control, and collect when I’m not traveling. It is more difficult to say no to the trivial in favor of the transcendent, or even to know what the transcendent is, when I’m not in a world-class art museum, in the Grand Canyon or at the Western Wall. But the same general rules apply once you get home. Pick a few good outfits, the most important activities, and a great attitude – and leave the rest behind. And I keep the brown satchel in the closet, as a reminder of how little it really takes to be happy.

The less “baggage” I carry around with me, the easier it is to see the world around me…

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FAMILY TRAVEL

TIPS Stressed about planning your upcoming family vacation? Here are some essential travel tips to help make your next family vacation fun, enjoyable, and memorable.

H

ave a family meeting: Sit down with the kids before your vacation and let them know where you’re going and what to expect on your trip. Talk to them about what they may experience while traveling (security check-ins, long lines, delays, annoying passengers, turbulence, etc.) so they will be well prepared and not become anxious or nervous if things don’t go exactly as planned. This meeting will also offer an opportunity to talk about any restrictions and rules you might have for your trip (such as internet access, curfews, monetary budgets, etc.). Get everyone involved: Let every member of the family select one thing that they’d like to do on the vacation. This will allow everyone to feel more involved and will get the vacation off to a fun and exciting start. If you have a limited budget, you should explain that at the outset and set a dollar figure for how much things can cost. Let the kids do some research to find things they’d like to do, and encourage them to search for bargains and discount coupons. Be organized: Make a list of items that your family will need to bring on your trip. These include travel documents, proper ID, first aid kit, medication, and telephone numbers of your doctors and medical insurance company. Be sure to check the passport and visa requirements several months in advance. Prepare to have fun: Travel plans are often made far in advance of the trip, but out of sight doesn’t have to mean out of mind. Pick up some travel brochures and a guidebook and share them with your kids. Look for books that are set in your vacation destination and read them together. The internet contains a variety of websites with photos of your destination and information on activities. Pray for the best but be prepared for the worst: Take a few additional items in your carry-on luggage along with medication and travel documents, such as a change of clothing in case your luggage gets lost. Bring plenty of travel games, snacks, tissues, and drinks. Think ahead and plan for occurrences such as flight delays or cancellations, sickness, or bad weather. It may be a good idea to purchase travel insurance to protect your vacation investment. 62

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Pack a positive attitude: Attitude is extremely important when going on a family vacation. If unforeseen events happen, stay calm, flexible, and upbeat. Relax and go with the flow. Your children will learn important life lessons from watching how you handle these unexpected “tests.” Plus, you’ll have a much better time on your trip. Scheduling is key: If your child has a nap schedule, take that into consideration when making your travel plans. If you’re traveling by plane, make sure to leave extra time for unexpected delays. If you’re traveling by car, travel early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid traffic congestion and let the kids nap. The trip will be so much more enjoyable for the entire family. Set a comfortable pace: Keep in mind that each family member will have different likes and preferences. Things to keep in mind are their sleeping schedules (what time they wake up and what time they go to sleep), eating habits, activities of interests, and energy levels. Respect your differences and be willing to bend the rules a bit if necessary. Allowing your teen to sleep in the morning for an extra hour might make all the difference in having a great time on your family vacation. Allow for private time: Family vacations do not always mean that you have to spend every single minute together. Everyone needs a little break sometimes, especially responsible teens and young adults. It may be a good idea to plan accordingly and include some “alone periods” in your trip. Leave the expectations at home: Family vacations are one of most anticipated events of the year, but rarely does everything goes exactly as planned. There are bound to be unexpected bumps along the way. If you follow these travel tips and have the right attitude, you and your family should have an enjoyable vacation together – with or without the bumps. If something does come up that was not part of the plan, don’t dwell on it – just go with it. Sometimes those vacations where things don’t go as planned make the best vacation memories of all.


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Shaatra

Does It

FRANCES HADDAD

SHAATRA: Travel

Fear of flying is a real phenomenon. Some who avoid planes are terrified of heights. Others abhor the insecure sense that comes with hovering thousands of feet above ground. But traveling with children can produce an entirely new bout of flying anxiety. Why the panic? Well, some moms fear the hours of open-ended time that are involved when flying to a far-off destination. Others hope their children don’t whine for an entire 12-hour flight. Still others may worry that their children will be those noisy kids who cause lots of eyebrow-raising. But luckily, there are proven ways to ease children into the “quiet and seated” mode that flying entails. So, if you are flying with children, bear these tips in mind, and avoid the stressors that may necessitate a vacation from your vacation!

To Each His (or Her) Own There is one particular scenario to avoid at all costs. Picture this: It is two hours into the flight. Things seem pretty peaceful, until everyone begins to act up all at once. Your baby starts to shriek and you realize he needs a diaper change. Your three-yearold starts nagging, “Mommy! I want my coloring book!” Your 10-year-old asks ever so politely for his Gameboy. And suddenly, you get that foreboding knot in your stomach. Yes, you have done it again. Four hours before take-off, you stuffed everything you and your entire clan would need into one medium-sized carry-on luggage. Now the diapers are beneath the textbooks that your high school daughter brought along. The coloring book is sandwiched between eight different sweaters. And as you realize that you have no

O READERS I W

TIPS

n every flight, I bring a dry erase board and play games like Hangman and Tic-Tac-Toe with my kids. They love it! Paper and crayons are great for the little ones.

Mimi A.

f my kids are noisy on a flight, I apologize to the people sitting behind me. I find that my awareness is appreciated.

Lisa T.

hen my kids get antsy, I take one or two at a time for a walk down the aisle. This seems to calm them down!

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Sara

idea where on earth the Gameboy is, you hope it isn’t broken. Plus, there is no space for you to start rummaging through the 40-pound wheelie that’s tightly stowed away in the overhead. Rewind: Instead of squeezing it all in one place, give each child a small back-pack and tell them to bring the items they may need while in flight. And as you scurry through the airport and survey your children running alongside you with their personal back packs, you can breathe a sigh of relief as you recognize that, with Gd’s help, there will be no frantic in-flight rummaging.

Talk it Out “Mommy! I don’t know what to bring!” This is a great time to step in, since children can get overwhelmed when creating the “should-bring” and “should-not-bring” piles. Sit with the younger ones and create a list detailing what they can use on the plane, and what they should leave at home. Help your older children write up a list, as well. On the “bring” lists, include games, toys and books that will keep both younger and older kids occupied. Remind your children that a vacation is pretty brief, and so there is no need to pack six teddy bears or an entire headband collection. Help them weed out what they don’t need.

If You Give a Kid a Cookie… Make sure your children have what to snack on. True, many airlines provide kosher cookies, but it is still best to take precaution when it comes to food. Who knows? Your children may get a case of the munchies during times when snacks are not offered. Or the airline may only offer fig-flavored cupcakes, which your kids may politely (or not so politely…) decline. Kids (and adults!) get cranky when they are hungry. So prepare an easy, mess-free lunch, such as yummy cream-cheese sandwiches, and some choice snacks, for the whole family.

Oh Baby! For those traveling with the tiniest of copassengers, it is important to get on board with a fully stocked diaper bag. Bring the essentials: pampers, baby wipes, bottles, a blanket and a few extra changes of clothes. Baby Tylenol is a good idea, too, in case of teething or sneezing emergencies. Be sure to bring all that the baby may need while in flight!

They are Children, After All Children love to run, jump and play, and getting them to sit is a challenge. Understand that flying is difficult for them, and focus on their positive behavior. And as the plane touches down on the ground of your vacation spot, take note of the fact that the flight you anticipated for so long has just become a thing of the past!

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RABBI BEN TZION SHAFIER

There was a novel written a number of years ago that opens with a young, professional football player who is preparing for the upcoming Super Bowl game. He is riding his bike on a country road to get into shape for the big game, and he enters a long, curving tunnel. Unbeknownst to him, a car is speeding into the tunnel from the opposite direction, heading directly for him.

T

he angel of death on duty that day is new to the job. He sees the crash coming and decides, “Why wait? Why make him go through the gore and the mess?” So instead of actually waiting for the inevitable crash, he takes the football player out of his body at the very last moment before the accident, and brings him up to heaven. However, the angel of death made a mistake. Any normal person driving his bike through that tunnel would have crashed and been killed. But this man was an athlete with highly keen instincts; he would have veered off at the last minute and not been hit. He should be alive. But it’s too late. His body is buried; he is up in heaven. What do they do now? The heavenly court meets and decides they have no choice but to send him back. To do that, they have to find someone whose time is 66

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up and put the football player back into that body. The closest they can come up with is a rich tycoon living in an exclusive mansion. So this athlete finds himself in the flabby body of a wealthy snob with an entire staff of butlers and maids. The cute part of the story is how he plans to get his sagging, pampered, new body into shape for the Super Bowl only weeks away. He gets the prim and proper servants to run football drills with him on the front lawn of the stately mansion as he practices his passes. While this is a charming story, it illustrates a significant concept: that football player found himself occupying a body. He opened his eyes and found himself in a life. This precise experience happened to every one of us. Hashem took us and hand-selected a life to be the ideal setting in which to grow. We were put into this body and told, “Go live your life!”


Our role is to birth order, with a precise family dynamic. That might include a domineering older play our part - rich or brother or a whiny younger sister. It might poor, handsome or ugly, mean being born with a silver spoon in mouth or into the grip of poverty. successful or not. We aren’t your Introverted or extroverted, bold, ortimid, judged by the part we play, robust or weak, tall or short, handsome or With specific talents and abilities, and but how we play it. The annot.exact level of intelligence, each person is placed into the ideal setting for him. Our role is irrelevant.

WE DON’T GET TO CHOOSE We often take far too much credit for that which was given to us, and too much blame for what wasn’t. No one woke up one morning and said, “Hashem, I think you should create me with a 180 IQ... No, make that an 80 IQ.” “Hashem, I think I should be 6’2”,strapping and strong. No, on second thought, I would rather be 5’4”, puny and weak.” Our life settings have been chosen for us, and we have no input in the process: smart or dumb, attractive or ordinary, talented or not. These are the backdrops against which we live our lives, the scenery and landscape that surround us. But they don’t define us. Just as our external conditions are set, so, too, is much of our inner makeup. Our temperament has been hard-wired into us at birth. Studies show that whether a child is bold or timid, extroverted or shy, can be determined at 22 months of age. It is simply the nature the child is born with. Granted, a person can and must work on himself. He can learn to overcome weaknesses and change the level of some of his personality traits. But each individual was given a certain predisposition and tendencies at birth. These are part of the stage settings of his life. He was born into a role, and this is the backdrop against which he plays. And that is the point – no one gets to choose. Each individual is born into an exact generation, into a given family, in a specific

lives fit us like a hand in a glove, with each situation custom-designed by our Creator for that individual. When a person understands this, life is fair. If not, then it makes no sense at all. How do you explain why some people have it so easy and yet others have it so hard? Why are some people born talented and others not? Why are some people born crippled, or deaf or blind? Why is there autism in the world? What about polio? If our condition in this world really mattered, there would be no answer to these questions. If this world were the reason for Creation, then none of these situations would be fair. But that is the point: none of them matter; they are simply different life settings. We are but actors on the stage. Our role is to play our part – rich or poor, handsome or ugly, successful or not. We aren’t judged by the part we play, but how we play it. The role is irrelevant. The props don’t define us. The only thing that matters is what we do with the time allotted to us on this planet.

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The Weasel The weasel is a small-sized, meat-eating mammal that lives in various habitats, including grasslands, sand dunes, forests, farmlands, and even small cities. The weasel is the most widespread carnivore in the Western Hemisphere, and is also found in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

A

weasel has a small, flat, triangular head with short, rounded ears, and long whiskers. It has brown fur on the upper part of its body and white to yellowish fur on its undersides. In cold regions, its fur turns white in the winter. A weasel can weigh between three to seven ounces, and, depending on the species, can be as short as five inches or as long as 24 inches (including its tail). Weasels communicate with each other through various methods. One way is by their odor. Weasels produce musk, which is a thick, oily, yellowish fluid with a very distinct scent. The weasel uses its musk to mark the borders of its territory. Should another weasel enter its territory, the odor sends a message to the intruder that it is trespassing and should keep out — or else! Weasels also use body language and vocal sounds to communicate with each other. There are numerous species of the weasel. The three most common weasels are the long-tailed weasel, the shorttailed weasel, and the least weasel which is also referred to as the common weasel. The least weasel is the smallest of all weasels, but it is the most wide-spread. Unlike the other weasels, the least weasel does not have a black tip on the end of its tail. The long-tailed weasel is the largest of the three species, due to its tail which comprises over 40 percent of its body length. 68

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Long-tailed weasels in the southwestern of U.S. have a white mask. The short-tailed weasel, which is also called an ermine, is smaller than the long-tailed weasel, but larger than the least weasel. Like other weasels, short-tailed weasels have a brown coat in the summer and a white coat in the winter (in cold regions). They measure between seven and 13 inches in length.

What’s For Supper?

Weasels prefer to eat only the animals that they kill on their own, as opposed to scavengers that eat any meat they can find. Weasels are very active, and therefore need to eat at least onethird of their body weight every day in order to have sufficient energy to survive. The weasel’s diet consists of a large assortment of animals, including mice, frogs, chipmunks, squirrels, gophers, and lemmings. Weasels will even eat larger animals such as rabbits and ducks, and occasionally they’ll eat smaller creatures such as insects and worms. Weasels also like eggs and will invade the nests of their prey to get to them. Weasels are able to eat large eggs by biting a hole in one or both ends of the egg and sucking out the contents, leaving the shell behind.


Unique Traits The weasel is the smallest carnivorous mammal in the world, but despite its tiny size, it is an extremely vicious and ruthless hunter. It is a solitary animal that spends most of its life preying on small animals both by day and by night. One of the weasel’s unique hunting techniques is entering the burrows of its prey — something that most predators are unable to do. Its long, slender body is perfectly suited for following its prey into their tunnels and homes. The weasel has a small and narrow head, short legs, and a flexible spine which enables it to get into small and narrow openings. Once the weasel smells its prey, it will not let up until it tracks it down, often following the trail of its prey right into its burrow or den. Like all professional hunters, the weasel is equipped with an array of lethal weapons. It has sharp, pointed canine teeth, which are used for biting and tearing flesh, and can kill an animal more than double its size. The weasel’s arsenal also includes 10 toes that are tipped with small, non-retractable claws. The weasel is a strong and ferocious fighter, and can move extremely fast. It is fearless and has been known to attack animals much larger and stronger than itself, such as bears and porcupines. If a weasel feels threatened, it will even attack humans. The weasel can also be a stealthy hunter, sneaking up on its prey without making a sound before launching its attack. It sometimes uses camouflage to spring up on its prey. During the summer months, the weasel is light brown so it can blend in with the fields of its surroundings. During the winter months, the weasel’s coat turns white so it can hide in the snow. Only the tip of its tail remains black throughout the year. This black tip helps the weasel escape from birds of prey. A bird will spot the black tip of the tail and mistake it for the weasel’s head. The bird will then dive toward the weasel’s “head” to attack, unknowingly focusing its attack on the nonvulnerable tail. After the bird misses its real target, the weasel runs away from the bird, unharmed.

Did You Know? •

Weasels are very quick and are noted for their lightningspeed movements. •

Weasels often stand on their hind legs to search for food and look out for predators. •

The weasel uses its long whiskers as a guide while traveling in the dark. •

Often, weasels do not need to make their own nest, as they use the nest, tunnel, or burrow of one of the animals they have eaten. •

The weasel will sometimes catch its prey by dancing! The “Weasel War Dance” is a play dance put on by weasels to confuse their prey. The weasel bounces all about, flipping over and hopping sideways. Once its prey becomes mesmerized, the weasel attacks.

The following are excerpts from Exploring the Wild World of Animals by Efraim Harari, published by Israel Bookshop Publications. VOLUME 2 DUE OUT IN NOVEMER!

Following the wild success of Exploring the Wild World of Animals, the first book in his “Jewish World of Wonders series,” author Efraim Harari is back with a second volume, one which explores the beautiful and mysterious world of fish and other aquatic creatures. In Exploring the Wet & Wild Underwater World, readers are taken on a spectacular journey through the oceans, seas, and rivers of the world, to learn the wonders and design of 35 beautiful and unique marine animals.

Q : To a re-tail store. A

: Where did the long-tailed weasel go when he cut his tail?

HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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Sito

Ask

Si•to (sĭtō) Grandmother[Arabic]

Dear Sito, My wife feels it is very important for both parents to go to school functions, like fundraisers, PTA, orientation and the like, and I agree, and have therefore been attending them for the past few years. Recently, however, I have noticed that the dress code and standards of tzeniut [modesty] are not upheld at these events. Our daughters are taught (rightfully so) that skirts must extend past the knees while sitting, and shirts should be loose fitting and not form showing, and b"H we try to follow these standards in our family. But when PTA time comes around, I feel uncomfortable. In the same school building that teaches these standards during the day, on PTA night it seems acceptable for parents to show up in the clothing that we are encouraging our kids NOT to wear. I’ve tried to explain to my wife that it’s better for me not to attend, but she responded that our children's education is important, and the men shouldn’t be looking anyway. My question is twofold. 1) Is it better for the men to stay at home and make these (or at least PTA) a ladies only function? 2) How can school administrations look the other way? Shouldn’t they at least mention tzeniut standards on the PTA flyers that the kids bring home?

Concerned Dad 70

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Dear Concerned Dad, Addressing your first question first, your concerns and dilemma are indeed valid, and if you feel uncomfortable attending functions where proper standards of tzeniut are not upheld, it is reasonable for you to prefer not to attend. At the same time, however, as you acknowledge, it is important for both parents to be actively involved in their children’s schooling. One solution might be to compensate for your absence from PTA meetings by becoming more active in other aspects of your children’s schooling. Explain to your wife that you are both on the same page in terms of recognizing the importance of your involvement, but that you prefer pursuing other avenues of participation rather than attend functions which make you uncomfortable. You can speak with your daughters’ teachers on the phone, do homework with them, help them prepare for tests, do behind-the-scenes volunteer work for the school, and so on. The main thing is that you find meaningful areas of involvement in place of attending events which you find inappropriate. As for your second question, of why the school administration is “looking the other way,” there are several important points that must be kept in mind. For one thing, the school cannot take responsibility for the choices the parent body makes in their own dress code. Their job is to teach your daughters the Jewish way of life, which of course includes a proper mode of dress, and to that it end it must uphold an appropriate dress code for the students in school. While you and I may agree – as the administration presumably does – that it is respectful for parents to follow the school’s dress code, especially at school functions, some parents may not be sensitive to this. And as the school is responsible for educating the students, and not the parents, it cannot

enforce the school dress code upon the parents. Additionally, we must remember that our job as committed Jews is to constantly be growing in Torah observance, but each of us will, invariably, approach this job from a different direction and at a different pace. Perhaps the mother whose skirt is not quite covering her knee is working on reducing lashon hara (negative speech about other people). Maybe the mother wearing a form-showing dress is concentrating on increasing her hesed and sensitivity to other people. And while to you it may seem innocuous to add a brief request on the flyer asking mothers to follow the school’s dress code at PTA meetings, the school may have chosen not to do so in order to avoid off-putting condescension. Healthy cooperation between the parents and the school is a vital ingredient of educational success, which is of course the school’s goal, and thus it is hard to blame the administration for choosing not to make an issue of the mothers’ attire at meetings, even if the administrators themselves do not approve of the way some of them dress. It may be worthwhile for you to respectfully raise this issue with the administration to hear their perspective on the matter. In short, it is not for us to judge the person or the administration, both of whom make their decisions based on a wide of factors and considerations of which we are not fully aware. As our sages famously taught, “Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place.” Rarely, if ever, are we truly in our fellow’s “place,” fully aware of the many different factors affecting the choices he or she makes, and so it is best to reserve judgment and show respect for the admirable qualities of our peers, even if we disapprove of some aspects of their conduct.

Best of luck,

Sito


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Sa g e a E D C I V A D V I CE Dear Rabbi, I want to go somewhere different this year for our vacation. I’m tired of going to the same places all the time, and I’d very much like to further detach myself from my regular routine amongst an unfamiliar crowd. The problem is that my husband is worried he won’t be able to find a minyan while on vacation. I know we can take food and anything we might need, but I want to make my husband happy. How important is it to pray with a minyan? Should we go somewhere more conventional?

Travel Weary 72

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Dear Travel Weary, When dealing with vacations, there are no fixed rules. Everyone is different, and the type of rest and recuperation that one chooses should be tailored to fit his or her individual needs. The all-too-familiar phenomenon of “needing a vacation after returning from vacation” is partially a result of a mismatched choice of retreat, or, in more simple terms, not getting the necessary rest and recuperation. Some people enjoy congregating in the conventional vacation spots, while others need the novelty of a new environment and new faces. And thus I certainly understand your position when you say, “I want to go somewhere different this year on our vacation,” and your husband likely recognizes and sympathizes with your preference. On the other hand, your husband’s concern about the availability of a minyan is unquestionably a valid one. Our sages afford great importance to praying with a minyan (see Rambam, Hilchot Tefilah 8:1), and one should not put himself in a position where he has no access to a minyan except under extenuating circumstances (see Piskei Teshuvot, vol. 1, 90:22). Additionally, leaving religious concerns aside, a vacation has a far greater chance of success for everyone when the concerns and needs of all travelers are taken into consideration. The truth is, however, that in your situation there is really no need for any compromise either way. I know others who have had the same dilemma and helped themselves quite well. We live in a country where there are synagogues scattered everywhere, and you’d be surprised how many remote cities and even small towns across the U.S. have a synagogue with a daily minyan. Whether you’re looking for a mountain, coastal, or countryside vacation spot, chances are you can find a

suitable location within driving distance of a synagogue. You’ll probably find a limited selection of kosher food available, as well, and perhaps even a kosher restaurant or take out place. Of course, some flexibility will be necessary, as the synagogue might follow a different tradition, and you might need to bring along some supplementary provisions, but as long as the synagogue is Orthodox and the food is kosher, the setting could make for an ideal vacation suitable for both your and your husband’s needs. It should be emphasized that the accessibility of a minyan and kosher food are not the only religious concerns that need to be considered when choosing a vacation spot. Especially during the summer months, or even all year round in certain tropical locations, the conventional mode of dress could be very inappropriate, and this, too, is something that should be considered when planning your getaway. My suggestion, then, is to do some research in advance so you can find a suitable place in reasonable proximity to a minyan, and learn about available provisions. A GPS can get you through the local streets without having to stop for directions, and a Jewish travel guide could put you in touch with countless synagogues and kosher shops. With modern technology, you can enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation without having to compromise religious standards and with little, if any, inconvenience. May Hashem lead you and your husband to a most beneficial vacation environment, where you both can relax and prepare yourselves for a new start ahead. With warm wishes and Torah blessings,

Rabbi Yechiel Elbaz


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Professor Noe Ital has the answers to ALL your questions... Ever won de r how bird s fly? What exactly is the funny bone? Why is can dy ba d for yo ur teeth? Why is the sky blue? Ho w does a fax machin e work? Why is the mo on so metim es o ut durin g the day? Well, y o u no longe r nee d to ask Jeeve s or text Ch a Cha. We are excit e d to anno un ce that Professor N oe Ital has jo ine d o ur staff an d he is avail able to answer ALL o f yo ur questio ns. If you have a question for the professor, send it to: 1616 Ocean Parkway Brooklyn, NY 11223 ATT: Professor Noe Ital Ask@CommunityM.com 718-645-4460

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QUESTION OF THE MONTH:

This month’s question was submitted by Alex from Brooklyn, NY

Dear Professor,

How many eyes do spiders have? 74

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Why does our hand or foot suddenly “fall asleep”?

When we feel a tingling feeling in our hand or foot, we say that our hand or foot “has fallen asleep.” That usually happens after we have crossed our legs for a while or after we have placed a heavy burden on our arm. We can understand why this happens by comparing the crossed leg or the burden-laden arm to a curved pipe. Water running through a curved pipe cannot flow freely, and can only drip through slowly. Similarly, the blood in our crossed leg or burden-laden arm flows more slowly than normal. Since it cannot flow at its normal speed, it is unable to carry out its various important functions. One of those functions is to gather all the waste products that have accumulated in the body. If this waste material is not removed from the body, it disrupts the nerves, which carry messages from our foot or hand to our brain, and, as a result, our brain does not know exactly what is going on with our hand or foot. When we shake our foot or stop the pressure that was slowing down the blood circulation in our hand, the brain receives a larger number of messages than usual from our hand or foot. These messages cause the feeling of “pins and needles” that we experience.

How does ice make things cold?

If your finger touches a piece of ice, your finger will feel cold. At the that moment, it might seem to you that the cold is coming out of the – e opposit the just is it truth, in but nger, fi ice and entering your ice! the to rred transfe being is nger fi our of out coming is heat that The proof that this is what is happening is the fact that the heat coming out of your finger melted a small quantity of ice and your ice finger is wet. When you place a cube of ice in a glass of juice, the the in heat the of some will absorb juice and will slowly melt. The piece of ice gradually shrinks while the juice gradually becomes colder. If you want to slow down the rate at which a chunk of ice will melt, just cover it with a blanket. That idea might sound a little silly, but it really works. When the chunk of ice is totally exposed to the air, hot air hits it from every possible direction. The ice absorbs the hot air and starts to melt. However, if we cover the ice with a blanket, the blanket will keep out the hot air and the ice will melt much more slowly.

When was the first electric refrigerator invented? Over 2,000 years ago, the Chinese were already chopping ice from glaciers and frozen lakes and storing it for use during the summer months. And 1,500 years ago, the Egyptians and the Indians created ice by leaving water in a clay jar outside their domiciles on cold nights. Some 300 years ago, British servants would collect ice during the winter, wrap it in rags and keep it in special places until summer. A refrigerator that runs on electricity, and not on ice provided by external sources, was only invented 102 years ago (in 1911) by General Electric. The first refrigerator was immense, and was activated by a motor the size of an entire room! It took years of refining until the refrigerator became a common appliance, found in every household.

Why do the birds that sit on electric wires not get electrocuted? Electric cables are extremely dangerous because they generally carry a very powerful electric current that can carbonize anything that comes in contact with it. That is why you must never touch an electric cable that has been torn by a storm and which is lying on the ground. Nevertheless, we often see birds sitting on electric cables without suffering any harm. How do they manage not to get hurt? An electric current can move from a high-tension wire to the ground or to another high-tension wire by means of a conductor – a substance that enables electric current to pass through it. If a bird simultaneously touches an electric cable and a tree, for example, it will certainly be electrocuted because, in that case, the bird‛s body becomes a conductor linking the electric cable to the tree and, from there, to the ground. Similarly, if a bird simultaneously touches two electric wires, it will be electrocuted. However, generally speaking, a bird touches only one electric wire at a time. Thus, its body does not serve as a conductor and the bird is not harmed.

ANSWER:

Dear Alex, Most spiders have eight eyes, but only two of them, the central ones, are capable of creating images of the spider’s surroundings. The side (lateral) eyes are simpler and cannot transmit a clear image, but they can detect movement around them and can spot prey passing by in the area. HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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Mabrouk!

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Small Classes with Personal Attention Distinguished Faculty and Academically Challenging Environment Comprehensive Judaic Studies Curriculum Rigorous Honors Programs Integrated Honors Tracks to a Graduate degree in Health Sciences, Medicine & Pharmacy Career-Focused Internships Acceptances to First Choice Graduate Schools Generous Financial Aid Including Academic Scholarships for Qualified Students Modern, Attractive Facilities and Residences

OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13, 10:30 AM - 1:00 PM 227 W. 60TH STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10023 Contact: Sarah Klugmann, Director of Recruitment Phone: 212-520-4263 Email: lcw.info@touro.edu A Division of Touro College

Touro College is an Equal Opportunity Institution HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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TH CHIC KITCHEN Who says

easy can't be fabulous?

ESTHER DEUTSCH

Esther Deutsch, author of CHIC Made Simple shares her philosophy: If your food looks irresistible - it tastes as such. Her recipes are designed to look – and taste – like gourmet cuisine. Yet the recipes are so easy, they take just minutes.

Lemon Thyme Delmonico Roast

THIS IS my favorite and breeziest way to prepare a Delmonico roast. Contrary to popular belief, Delmonico is not a specific cut of meat; it simply means “the best cut available.” It originated in the mid-1800s at the Delmonico Restaurant in Manhattan, where the house cut was dubbed “Delmonico.” The exact cut of Delmonico steak is unknown, but since Delmonico means the best, when you request a Delmonico roast from your butcher, you’re likely to get a prime cut. A good cut of meat doesn’t require frills. This recipe is proof of that – it preserves the intrinsic flavor of the roast, complementing it with a light, flavorful spice rub. When the meat is seared, it may appear that the roast is burning; it’s not. Searing the roast gives it a crispy crust to lock in all the juices, while keeping it tender inside.

Ingredients: Directions: 3 lb. Delmonico roast 4 tsp. kosher salt 2 tsp. dried thyme 1½ tsp. fresh black pepper 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 lemon or lime, zested Oil

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1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Rinse the meat and pat dry. In a small bowl, combine the salt, thyme, black pepper, garlic, and lemon or lime zest. 2. Coat the roast with the oil. Spread the rub over the top, bottom, and sides. In a skillet, sear the meat over high heat for 10 minutes per side.

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3. Transfer the roast to a baking pan. Scrape all the drippings from the skillet onto the top of the roast and bake, uncovered, 45 - 60 minutes for medium-rare. Let the meat stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice the meat against the grain and serve warm. Serves 6


Pareve Cheese Mousse with White Viennese Crunch EVER SINCE I tasted white Viennese crunch, I knew I HAD to find the perfect dessert to pair it with, one that wasn’t too rich that it would be overpowering together with the crunch. Then I tasted Judy S.’s delicate cheese mousse, and a match was made. The recipe found its way into my permanent repertoire, and I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a perfect pairing. Tip: To chop the Viennese crunch, place it in a double plastic bag and chop with a meat tenderizer.

Ingredients:

8 oz. (1 cup) non-dairy whip topping 2 containers (8 oz. each) Tofutti cream cheese ½ cup sugar 1 Tbsp. vanilla sugar 4 eggs 1 Tbsp. lemon juice 2 store-bought 9-inch chocolate pie crusts 14 pieces white Viennese crunch, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the whip topping until peaks form. Beat in the Tofutti cream cheese on medium speed. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla sugar, then the eggs, one at a time, and finally the lemon juice, continuing to beat on medium speed until combined. 2. Pour the mixture into the pie crusts and bake until set, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then, top with the chopped Viennese crunch. Cool completely. Refrigerate overnight before serving. Serves 16. Featured recipes are excerpts from CHIC Made Simple by Esther Deutsch. CHIC Made Simple is published by Feldheim and is available online and Judaica stores everywhere.

HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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To •

• Health

HEALTH TAX PENALTY COMING IN 2014 FOR THOSE WITHOUT INSURANCE

PREVENTING ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE WITH EXERCISE

Don’t forget, 2014 marks the year when a health tax penalty will be assessed for individuals who fail to purchase health insurance under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements. Under ACA, every U.S. resident who is above the poverty line or eligible for Medicaid, will have to purchase a health insurance plan. The health tax penalty for not purchasing health insurance, whenever an individual’s income allows them to, will start as low as $95 per individual or one percent of annual income, enacted as the individual mandate. The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate as a tax, and therefore the IRS is responsible for collecting it. By the year 2016, the health tax penalty for not purchasing health insurance hits $695 a year or 2.5 percent of annual income, whichever number is higher. Beyond that time frame, the IRS will collect monies based on cost-of-living adjustments. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that by 2016, approximately six million people ( two percent of the U.S. population) will be subject to health tax penalties related to the ACA individual mandate. Penalties will only be applied to those who can afford getting insurance but opt not to. Those who cannot afford the health insurance, won’t be penalized. More than 30 million elderly Americans will be uninsured at that time but likely not subject to the health tax penalty because of low income or other hardships. Failure to pay the individual mandate penalty will not result in instant jail time, though the IRS can place liens against possessions and initiate court proceedings if the monies go unpaid.

New research out of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health shows that exercise may improve cognitive function in those at risk for Alzheimer’s by improving the efficiency of brain activity associated with memory. Memory loss leading to Alzheimer’s disease is one of the greatest fears among older Americans. While some memory loss is normal and to be expected as we age, a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, signals more substantial memory loss and a greater risk for Alzheimer’s, for which there currently is no cure. The study, led by Dr. J. Carson Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, provides new hope for those diagnosed with MCI. It is the first to show that exercise intervention with older adults with mild cognitive impairment (average age 78) improves not only memory recall, but also brain function, as measured by functional neuroimaging (via fMRI). The findings are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. “We found that after 12 weeks of being on a moderate exercise program,” Dr. Smith explains, “study participants improved their neural efficiency – basically they were using fewer neural resources to perform the same memory task. No study has shown that a drug can do what we showed is possible with exercise.”

PACIFIER SAFETY

Pacifiers may do a great job of soothing cranky little ones, but parents should take steps to make sure their toddlers are safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these safety guidelines for pacifiers: • Never offer the nipple of a bottle (even if connected to the ring) as a pacifier, as it may pose a choking hazard. • Choose a pacifier that is molded together and does not have pieces that may split apart. • The shield on the pacifier should be at least 1.5 inches in diameter so the baby cannot put the entire pacifier in the mouth. The shield also should have ventilation holes. • Never tie a pacifier to your child or the crib. Inspect a pacifier regularly and discard it immediately if it is discolored or torn. 80

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BREASTFEEDING MAY INCREASE INTELLIGENCE LATER IN LIFE Breastfeeding a child for a longer period may result in better receptive language at three years of age and verbal and nonverbal intelligence at seven years of age, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics, a JAMA Network publication. Evidence supports the relationship between breastfeeding and health benefits in infancy, but the extent to which breastfeeding leads to better cognitive development is less certain, according to the study background. Mandy B. Belfort, M.D., M.P.H., of Boston Children’s Hospital, and her colleagues examined the relationships of breastfeeding duration and exclusivity with child cognition at ages three and seven years. “Longer breastfeeding duration was associated with higher Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test score at three years of age and with higher intelligence on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test at seven years of age,” according to the study results. “In summary,” the authors conclude, “our results support a causal relationship of breastfeeding in infancy with receptive language at age three and with verbal and nonverbal IQ at school age. These findings support national and international recommendations to promote exclusive breastfeeding through age six months and continuation of breastfeeding through at least one year of age.”


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Take the Test:

Could You Benefit From Cavity Prevention? DR. JACQUES DOUECK

What is the level of your risk for cavities? Low Caries Risk

If you have had no restorations (fillings or crowns) placed during the past three years due to caries (decay or cavities), and have no common factors that increase the risk of caries (see below), then only basic prevention is necessary.

Moderate Caries Risk If you have had one or two restorations placed during the past three years due to caries, and have at least one common factor that increases the risk of caries, then take more preventive steps.

High Caries Risk If you have had three or four restorations placed during the past three years due to caries, and have at least two common factors that increase the risk of caries, then maximize your preventive steps.

Common factors that increase the risk of caries (decay or cavities) • Poor oral hygiene • Frequent consumption of food, drinks or other items containing sugar • Numerous restorations (fillings) • Sporadic dental care • Little or no exposure to fluoride • Xerostomia (dry mouth) • Exposed root surfaces • Orthodontic appliances (braces) • Significant quantities of decay causing bacteria 82

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Some Important Facts About Cavity risk Not everyone is at the same risk for cavities. Patients with loads of plaque often have no cavities! That’s because there are other risk factors, and because not all bacteria is the same. There are good bacteria, called ProBiotic, which we actually want in the mouth. The higher your risk, the more protective methods we need to include in your plan. The good news is that we can reverse and rebuild damaged teeth, and prevent undamaged teeth from getting ruined by the “bad” bacteria. It’s not only kids that get cavities. And when adults are at risk for cavities, the damage is more expensive and more difficult to reverse. After decades of treating families in the community, it became obvious to me that simply admonishing my cavityprone patients to brush and floss better and cut out sugar, did not solve the problem. Something was missing. We needed to change the focus. By identifying the highrisk patients, we can determine why they are more prone to cavities and help them focus on solutions. Sometimes it involves fighting the high acid in their mouth, and sometimes it is the frequency and type of foods they are eating. Dentistry is uncomfortable and expensive enough – when patients are prone to cavities, it makes their situation especially frustrating for both the dentist and the patient. Redoing dentistry because of recurring decay is something that can be avoided if we work together to identify the risk and assess what can be done.


Community

Chest

Inaugural Tribute Luncheon Scheduled To Honor the Contributions of Sephardic Jewry to America

The Sephardic Legacy Series, a leader and innovator in preserving, teaching and promoting Sephardic heritage in North America, together with The Friedlander Group, has announced the “Sephardic event of the year,” a luncheon bringing together a delegation of Sephardic leaders and key members of the US Congress. The event, which is scheduled to take place on November 20, 2013 at the Capitol building in Washington, DC, will honor the historical role Sephardic Jewry has played in North America over the last few centuries. The Inaugural Tribute Luncheon Honoring the Contributions of Sephardic Jewry to America will be the first of its kind to be held in Washington, DC and will bring together North American leaders of the business, educational, cultural, and political arenas to commemorate and celebrate the unique and rich contribution Sephardic Jewry has made to American society. The tribute luncheon will coincide with the launching of the book, The Sephardi Journey – Sephardic Contributions Throughout History written by Yehuda Azoulay, founder of Sephardic Legacy Series, and Co-Founder Professor Sarah Taieb-Carlen. The goal of the event is to bring leaders together to honor and preserve a brilliant history, and to educate all Jews – Sepharadim and Ashkanazim alike – about the culture and traditions of a world that once was. “There is still so much for us to preserve and educate,” says Yehuda Azoulay.“For instance, many people don’t know that the first Jewish Immigrants to this country were Sephardi. We chose the actual date of November 20 because it is the yom azkarah [memorial day] of Emma Lazarus, a Sephardic Jewess who is the author of the famous poem, ‘The New Colossus,’ five stanzas of which are engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty.” Professor Devin Naar, professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, will serve as MC for the event. In attendance will also be Mr. Ezra Friedlander of the Friedlander Group, along with several distinguished honorees: Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, Rabbi of the Edmund J. Safra Congregation, NY; Mr. Daniel J. Harari, founder of Sephardic Academy of Manhattan; Ido Aharoni, The Israel’s Consul General in New York City; and Jacob Abecasis, CEO of White Gold Financial and Founder of SCOT (Sephardic Community of Toronto), among others, who will be cited by the Congressmen for their contribution to the United States. If you would like to attend the event, please contact event planner Suzannah Raff and sr@raffbusiness.com, or Yehuda Azoulay at 416.669.9679 or info@sephardiclegacy.com. For more information, log onto www.sephardiclegacy.com.

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The SAFE Foundation Celebrates its 11th year Anniversary On August 20th, the SAFE Foundation held its 11th Anniversary Dinner in the beautiful home of Sarah and Eddie Gindi. The classic Tudor style home was beautifully decorated with bright floral tablecloths and lovely pots of wildflowers. Hundreds of guests enjoyed the late summer evening while socializing around the pool. Guests were treated to white gloved service and a deliciously catered dinner. Vice President of the SAFE Foundation, Eddie Hapoalim representative Gabi Gindi welcomed all to his Bank Hamani and Eli Gindi. Photo by B. Cohen home, saying, “We are blessed in this community to have so many that support our organization. Over 3000 patients have been seen in the last 11 years, people whose lives would have been lost without SAFE’s help. I am lucky to be in a position where I can see and appreciate what we do a daily basis.” The SAFE Foundation granted its second Annual Sonny I. Gindi A”H Merit Award in honor of the late Mayor of Deal, Harry I. Franco, A”H. The Franco family expressed their deep appreciation for this honor given to their father: “Thank you SAFE Foundation for this beautiful award. We are grateful for the honor you have given our family.” The Mayor was a firm believer in educating the youth and in encouraging parents to be active in their children’s lives.Throughout his years as mayor, he worked together with the SAFE Foundation to ensure the safety of the community. One of the focal points of the evening was a moving video highlighting the outstanding work of the dedicated Project SAFE teachers and the vital life skills they impart to approximately 2500 community students on a weekly basis. Project SAFE is aimed to foster happiness, strength of character, and prevention. The video emphasized what goes on behind the scenes at SAFE Foundation, and how an addiction can affect finances, the patient’s health and safety of the individual and his or her family. Ike Dweck, Executive Director of The SAFE Foundation, remarked, “It is about saving everyone. If you don’t attack the disease, it will overtake you.” The SAFE Foundation expresses its gratitude to The Bank Hapoalim for sponsoring the evening, and to all the generous donors who help keep the SAFE Foundation in the position to help those in our community who are in need. The night was a tremendous success due to the hard work and efforts of Norma Cohen, and of course, the hosts of the evening, Sarah and Eddie Gindi. If you or someone you know needs help, please call our confidential, toll-free hotline, 24/7 at 1-866-569-SAFE (7233).


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Community

Chest

Luxury Kosher Villa Rentals Now Available by Rental Escapes Rental Escapes now offers kosher food services to clients traveling and staying in their luxury villas all over the world. Rental Escapes is proud to be an established leader in the luxury villa industry providing full concierge service to travelers seeking out a truly unforgettable experience. Now, kosher travelers with refined tastes will no longer have to compromise when visiting the world’s top travel destinations. Rental Escapes provides its clientele with a variety of kosher services including the stocking of kosher provisions, the kashering of the kitchens, and private gourmet chefs to cook all meals throughout the client’s stay. With its dedicated and well-informed villa specialists, Rental Escapes offers the simplest and quickest path to a truly unique travel experience. Choose from thousands of villas in the Bahamas, Barbados, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, St Martin, the US and British Virgin Islands, Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, and Greece. Of course, Rental Escapes also provides a wide array of vacation rental selection within the United States. Through its parent company, Travel Rental Network, Rental Escapes has over 22,000 properties worldwide under direct contract and are the leading wholesaler of vacation villas, specifically for the travel agent market. Villa specialists at Rental Escapes will help arrange every detail of the trip and ensure that clients are matched to their ideal villa and private chef who will design delectable kosher menus to the clients’ exact specifications. They will also provide information regarding local synagogues, and arrange car rentals, yacht charters, tours and activities. For more information, call 1-800-208-5097 (toll-free) or 1-514-360-2529, or visit www.rentalescapes.com/kosher.

Dirshu Chizuk L’Lomdei Torah to be Held on November 8-10 The Dirshu organization will be holding its Second Annual Shabbat Chizuk L’Lomdei Torah next month, on Shabbat Vayetze, November 8-10. The inspirational weekend will bring together Dirshu participants from across the United States and Canada to the Double Tree Hotel and Convention Center in Somerset, NJ, to celebrate the accomplishments of the thousands of participants in Dirshu’s acclaimed Torah study programs. The guests will be graced by the presence of numerous Torah sages from the United States and across the world representing the entire cross-section of Torah Jewry, including Rabbi Reuven Feinstein shelita, Rabbi Yitzchok Sorotzkin, shelita, as well as a prominent Sephardic Rabbi. The sages will address the participants throughout the Shabbat, 86

COMMUNITY MAGAZINE

imparting hizuk (inspiration) and enhancing their appreciation of their accomplishments in Torah learning. The enthusiastic participation of so many leading sages spanning the spectrum of the Torah world reflects the diversity of Dirshu’s participants and broad support it has received from our generation’s leaders. This diversity exemplifies the sense of ahdut (unity) which has been a defining characteristic of Dirshu since its inception, as Jews from many different backgrounds and locations are joined together by their shared dedication to grow in Torah through Dirshu’s incentive programs. The organizers are confident that this year’s event will be as successful as last year’s Dirshu Shabbat held at the DoubleTree hotel in Tarrytown, NY, whose participants raved about the profound feeling of solidarity that they felt with other Dirshu members throughout the weekend. It did not matter how they looked or from where they came, because learning with Dirshu becomes such an integral part of the participants’ lives that they immediately bond with their fellow participants, regardless of their differences. One of the goals of the Shabbat is to provide encouragement and express profound gratitude to the quiet, unsung heroes of Dirshu – the devoted wives of the participants, who discreetly help facilitate their husbands’ learning. Special programming has been planned for the women, that promises to be both enjoyable and inspiring. Dirshu Shabbat Chizuk L’lomdei Torah will bring together under one roof some of the generation’s leading sages, and hundreds of devoted scholars coming to celebrate their achievements. It promises to be an uplifting and unforgettable experience that should not be missed. For more information or to sign up, contact Dirshu at 888-5-Dirshu. Chaim Gold


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Largest Flag ever flown

The largest flag ever flown was a U.S. flag measuring 255 X 505 feet – large enough to cover an entire football field.

Longest Bicycle Journey

Walter Stolle rode more than 400,000 miles on his bicycle through 139 countries. Starting in 1959, his journey took him 18 years!

Most Menacing Mushroom

The Death Cap mushroom may look harmless, but less than one ounce can kill a person in just a few hours.

INCREDIBLE Greatest Leaper

Snow Leopards, which can be found in central Asia, are the world’s greatest leapers, capable of hurdling over 50 feet! They use their great leaping abilities to jump over ravines and pounce on their prey, such as sheep and deer.

Heaviest Cultivated Fruit

The heaviest cultivated fruit is the pumpkin. It can reach an astonishing 1,300 pounds – the same weight as eight adult men. 88

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Fastest Swimming Mammal

The fastest swimming mammal is the killer whale, commonly referred to as the orca, which reaches speeds of 40 mph.

Fastest Helicopter

The Eurocopter X3 holds the record as the world’s fastest helicopter, reaching a speed of 302 mph. This revolutionary new “hybrid tilt-rotor” aircraft uses three rotary blades – one main one on top of the aircraft, and two pointing forward attached to stubby wings.

Longest Lizard

The Papua Monitor, which lives on the island of New Guinea, can grow up to 15 feet long, making it the longest lizard in the world.

STATS FACTS

&

Largest Gold Nugget

The largest gold nugget ever found weighed 158 pounds. It was discovered in Moliagul, Australia, during the 1869 gold rush, and named the “Welcome Stranger.”

Most Expensive Pen

The Aurora Diamante is the most expensive writing instrument in the world. It features over 30 carats of diamonds and is available in solid platinum or white gold. The pen has an 18-carat solid gold nib and a two-tone, rhodium-treated solid platinum barrel with a diamond cabochon crown that features 2,000 De Beers diamonds. The cost – almost $1.5 million!!

First Israeli Stamp

The first stamp of the State of Israel was issued on May 16, 1948. Printed on the stamp was a picture of an old coin from the period of the Second Bet Hamikdash. HESVAN 5774 OCTOBER 2013

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THE

SIDE

SPEED BUMP Abie gets pulled over going 110 MPH on a side street. Sitting in court, he watches as people go up to get their sentence. One after the other, the judge pounds them with three-month or six-month suspensions. Finally it comes Abie`s turn. Realizing that he is in trouble, he steps up to the front of the room and right away tells the judge, “Judge, I have nothing to say. I was wrong.” The judge is impressed that Abie feels sorry and replies, “Abie, you may go with a 30day suspension.” As Abie is turning to leave, he asks the judge for a favor. “But how am I going to get home?” he asks. “Can you please hold off the suspension until I drive home?” “And how long will it take you to get home?” retorts the judge. Without blinking an eye, Abie replies, “Your honor, if I drive 110 MPH, I can get there in 10 minutes.” Jack Sasson, Danny Moses, & Zatar TRAFFIC Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour? Tutu Mulu

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ONE SHOE A tourist was driving down a country road in Kentucky when he saw a little boy walking down the road with only one shoe on. He stopped and said, “What’s the matter, son? Did you lose a shoe?” The boy says, “Nope! Just found one.” Sammy Lalehfar

MECHANICALLY MINDED I feel inadequate when talking with a mechanic, so when my vehicle started making a strange noise, I sought help from a friend. A car nut, he told me how to explain the difficulty when I took it in for repair. At the shop, I proudly recited, “The timing is off, and there are premature detonations, which may damage the valves.” As I smugly glanced over the mechanic’s shoulder, I saw him write on his clipboard: “Lady says it makes a funny noise.” Frieda Mizrahi SAFE TRAVELS If flying is so safe, then why do they call the airport, the “terminal”? Jack V. Grazi

FOREIGN EXCHANGE Donald MacDonald from Scotland went to study at an American university and was living in the dormitory with all the other students there. After he had been there a month, his mother came to visit him. “And how do you find the American students, Donald?” she asked. “Mother,” he replied, “they’re such terrible, noisy people. The one on that side keeps banging his head on the wall and won’t stop. The one on the other side screams and screams all night.” “Oh Donald! How do you manage to put up with these awful noisy neighbors?” “Mother, I do nothing. I just ignore them. I just stay here quietly, playing my bagpipes.” Y.D. TAKING THE REDEYE I stumbled onto the redeye flight and, as tired as I was, had to smile when the captain announced, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to flight 1492 to, believe it or not, Columbus.” Steve Sutton

ASKING DIRECTIONS A driver pulled up beside a rundown farmhouse. He got out and knocked at the door. A very old woman answered the door, and he asked her for directions to Des Moines. “Don’t know,” the woman said. He got back in his car and pulled away. Then he heard voices. He looked in his rearview mirror and saw the woman and an equally old man waving for him to come back. So he made a U- turn and drove up to them. “This is my husband,” the old woman said. “He doesn’t know how to get to Des Moines either.” Linda Dayan BAD NEWS A cute little powerboat was sadly overshadowed by the sleek sailing craft that had moored next to them. It was named Bad News, and they asked the Captain how he came up with that name. “I love to race my sailboat,” he said. “And everyone knows bad news travels fast.” R. E


Untitled-1 1

9/3/2013 2:49:23 PM

Fall Fall For For It!!! It!!!

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ANIMAL INSTINCTS A man did not like his wife’s cat and decided to drop off the cat 20 blocks from his home. As he was getting home, the cat was walking up the driveway. The next day he decided to drive the cat 40 blocks away. He put the beast out and headed home. Driving back up his driveway, there was the cat! He kept taking the cat further and further and the cat would always beat him home. At last he decided to drive a few miles away, turn right, then left, past the bridge, then right again and another right until he reached what he thought was a safe distance from his home, and left the cat there. Hours later, the man calls home to his wife. “Jen, is the cat there?” “Yes,” the wife answers, “why do you ask?” Frustrated, the man answered, “Put that critter on the phone. I’m lost and need directions!” Yitzy D.

CAMPING 101 Joe took his friend Steven, a brilliant scientist, on a camping trip. After a good meal, they lay down for the night, and went to sleep. Some hours later, Joe woke up and nudged his faithful friend. “Steven, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.” Steven replied, “I see millions and millions of stars.” “What does that tell you?” Joe asked. Steven pondered for a minute. “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of stars, beyond our comprehension. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that Hashem is all-powerful. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?” Joe was silent for a minute, then spoke. “Steven, it tells me somebody has stolen our tent!” Abe Cohen

NIAGARA FALLS A guide was showing Niagara Falls to a man from Texas, and said, “I’ll bet you don’t have anything like this in Texas.” “Nope,” the Texan said, “but in Texas we have plumbers who can fix it.” Michael Levy .

FERRY Steve lived in Staten Island, NY and worked in Manhattan. He had to take the ferry home every night. One evening, he got down to the ferry and found there was a wait for the next boat, so he sat down to wait. When he got back to the ferry slip, the ferryboat was just eight feet from the dock. Afraid of missing this one and being late for dinner, Steve took a running leap and landed right on the deck of the boat. “How did you like that jump, buddy?” said a proud Steve to a deck hand. “It was great,” said the sailor. “But why didn’t you wait? We were just pulling in!” Dorna Delrahimnia

SECURITY CHECK Shortly after the FAA announced the ban on fluids, my friend was stopped by airport security because they found a bottle of water in one of his carry-on bags. “Sorry,” the officer said, tossing the bottle into a bin of confiscated items, “but water is now considered a liquid.” S. Schweky

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COMMUNITY MAGAZINE

Riddle: Airplane SUBMITTED BY: Sarah D.

There is only one airport on a fictional planet, and that is on the North Pole. There are only three airplanes and lots of fuel at the airport. Full tank of an airplane lasts exactly to fly to the South Pole, however the airplanes can transfer their fuel among one another. Your mission is to fly around the globe with at least one airplane (above the South Pole) and in the end all airplanes must be OK back at the airport.

Last Month’s Riddle: Building Blocks

Joshua has 5 blocks which are lettered A, B, C, D, and E. He has to put these blocks in a specific order while making sure to stick with the following rules: • A can’t be next to B, B can’t be next to A • B can’t be next to C, C can’t be next to B • C can’t be next to D, D can’t be next to C • D can’t be next to E, E can’t be next to D • A can’t be next to E, E can’t be next to A • A can’t be first, or last • E can’t be first, or last.

Solution:

D, A, C, E, B or B, E, C, A, D Solved by: Ezra Antebi, Sol Wahba, Lauren Srour, Victor Grazi, Charles Aini, M. Baum, Joe Chehebar, Judy Rishty, Yosef Amram, Yaffit Cohen, Esther Cohen, Naomi Cohen, Jaquline Cohen, Yossi S, Leeba Tova Moradi, Isaac Esses, Shauly K., Chaim Fensterheim, Daniela Blum, Jacob & Esther Schwartz, Blima Kiel and Gail Hafif.

Junior Riddle: Lily Pads SUBMITTED BY: Isaac S.

There was a pond. The pond was empty except for its water. On the first day there was one lily pad. On the second day there were two lily pads. On the 3rd day there were four lily pads. On the fourth day there were eight lily pads. Every day the lily pads doubled. It took 60 days to fill the pond with lily pads. How many days did it take to half fill the pond with lily pads?

Last Month’s Riddle: Flowers

How many flowers do I have if all of them are roses except two, all of them are tulips except two, and all of them are daisies except two?

Solution: There are two solutions: Three flowers: rose, tulip, daisy. Two flowers: carnation, geranium. Solved by: Sol Wahba, Lauren Srour, Chani A., M. Baum, Joe Chehebar, Albert Beda, Esther Cohen, Naomi Cohen, Jaquline Cohen, Yosef Aaron Blum, Chaim Fensterheim, Gail Hafif, Isaac Esses, Blima Kiel and Yossi S.


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Life

in the

Big City New Yorkers Have the Longest Commute Times in the U.S. A new report by The Partnership for New York City found that New Yorkers spend an average of 48 minutes getting to work, 13 minutes more than the national average, the New York Daily News reported. The study found that more than half of commuters in Brooklyn and Queens drive to work because of a lack of public transportation options. The number of people who both live and work in Brooklyn has increased by 24 percent over the last 10 years, the report said. The report also found approximately 1.5 million people commute to Manhattan each day and about 364,000 people who work in Manhattan live in other states. The nonprofit partnership urged New York to improve public transportation options. The group’s report said the city should continue work on the Second Ave. subway and improve bus service between Brooklyn and Queens.

New Bill Aims To Charge Customers For Plastic Bags Looking to protect the environment and raise revenue, City Council members recently proposed legislation to compel grocery and retail stores to charge customers 10 cents per bag in order to reduce the use of paper and plastic bags.Unlike a previous 6-cent bag tax proposed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2008, the recent legislation would allow retailers to retain the surcharge. Restaurants would be exempt from the measure, while street vendors would not. City Councilmember Brad Lander said, “The nice thing about this charge is you can avoid it entirely if you bring your reusable bags.”

Advocates said the average New Yorker uses 300-600 plastic bags per year, for a total of 5.2 billion bags, and the city spends $10 million annually to ship those used bags to out-of-state landfills. Similar efforts in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. have led to reductions of between 60 and 95 percent in bag waste.

Greenfield Launches “Friends of 18th Avenue Park” Campaign Councilman David G. Greenfield has launched a new neighborhood organization called the “Friends of 18th Avenue Park” to help protect the 18th Avenue Park, also known as Gravesend Park. Members of the “Friends of 18th Avenue Park” alliance would meet bimonthly to discuss ways to continue improving the park, which is located on 18th Avenue at 56th Street. The alliance’s goals include preventing illegal activities and afterhours use, and has taken responsibility for locking the gate each night, in the hopes of deterring vandalism and suspicious behavior at the park. The group also serves as a sounding board for the community to provide Councilman Greenfield with input, suggestions and any issues that arise. Gravesend Park has undergone a major transformation in the past several years, including new playgrounds and basketball and racquetball courts, funded by millions of dollars secured by Councilman Greenfield. Greenfield has obtained nearly $15 million in city funding over the past three years to improve and renovate parks and to create new playgrounds throughout Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst, including $3.68 million in the recently-passed 2014 city budget. “Neighborhood parks are a vital aspect of any great community,” Councilman Greenfield said, “and by working together we can make Gravesend Park one of the finest in New York City. I will continue to fight for the funding and renovations needed to keep our parks clean, safe and welcoming for families and children.” For more information, or to join the “Friends of 18th Avenue Park,” contact Councilman Greenfield at (718) 853-2704 or dgreenfield@council.nyc.gov.

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