WINTER 2012 T H E
R A Y I M
M A G A Z I N E
SPARKS M AGA Z I N E
A project by Rayim, Inc. Rabbi Jacob Freund, Founder & CEO
Sarah Kraus Executive Director
Editorial Board Editorial Director
Israel Kraus Editor-in-Chief
M. Deutsch Project Manager
Credits Ruchel Einhorn Bina Schwartz Malky Lipschitz Sheindy Weiner Breindy Wertzberger Perry Freund Tzippy Loeb Rivky Fruchter Graphic Design & Layout
Design and Print 845.782.3382 Sparks Magazine. Published by Rayim, Inc. A non-profit agency providing services for people with disabilities in the State of New York. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part, in any form without the prior written permission from publisher is strictly prohibited. Sparks and Rayim assume no responsibility for the contents of the articles and opinions expressed in the articles.
Rayim, Inc. 149 Elm St.| Monroe NY 10950 Phone: 845-782-7700 | Fax: 845-782-7800 Web: www.rayim.org | Email: email@example.com
Sparks Magazine is pleased to announce the creation of a new column, Shared Sparks, where we will be featuring letters submitted to the editor. We look forward to initiate a dialogue among our readers, related to the articles presented in our publication, or any topic pertaining to our readership. Our editorial board will address relevant questions and concerns in the next issue. Please submit your insight, comment or recommendation to firstname.lastname@example.org or 149 Elm Street Monroe, NY 10950
By: Israel Fried
The Feldenkrais Method
By: Shoshana Bernstein
See You at The Top By: Chavi Nussbaum
Sparks in Perspective Golden Windows
By: Draizy Lemberger
A Time to Cry
By: Adina Jacobs
By: Dini Landau
By: Adina Jacobs
Pillars of Strength
By: Dini Landau
Heart To Heart...
By: Draizy Lemberger
Sparks of Life Candid Kids
Rayim's Bulletin Board By: Jacob Friedman
אודה ה' מאוד בפי ובתוך רבים אהללנו These are the words that come to mind as we are about to release the second edition of Sparks. The initiative of publishing a Sparks Magazine came to fruition not too long ago, and Baruch Hashem we are getting ready to launch our second edition.
Our objective in publishing a Sparks magazine has been clear from its inception; to provide chizuk, support and strength to the individuals, care takers and especially parents of children in the special needs population. As we at Rayim reflect on the first issue, we can say with confidence that we have achieved our goals above and beyond all expectations. The tremendous feedback we have received from all over the world has been amazing and moving. We have come to believe that if our only project at Rayim would have been the Sparks magazine, our mission would have been already been worthwhile. Considering that this is only one of our many undertakings and services, we can proudly say that we have added yet another jewel to Rayim’s magnificent crown.
As we move into our second issue, we would like to acknowledge all of you who have taken the time to forward to us your feedback on our first edition. Feedback is what tells us what you enjoyed and where we can improve, and it’s that feedback that will make this second edition another successful one. We would therefore again encourage you, our dear readers, to help us continue our work by giving us your positive feedback and constructive criticism. Rayim stands for the best in every aspect, and the Sparks magazine will iy”h not be any different. Your advice and suggestions will help guide us in that direction. In the name of all who will enjoy and benefit from this amazing project, we would like to express our deepest thanks to all the devoted staff members at Rayim. They are a true example of heartfelt ahavas yisroel; the Rayim team in motion. We look forward to hearing from you.
SPARKS | 5
By: Israel Fried
6 | SPARKS
n the surface, Chanukah represents a time
unwavering faith and resolve even in the midst
teachers, etc. However, on a deeper lever, the actual
the difficulties involved, the spark of hope can be
for happy gatherings, quality time and
fun and gifts shared with family, friends,
essence of Chanukah is that of acknowledging the
nissim of Chanukah, namely the burning of the oil for eight days, instead of just one night.
However, when we peruse the nusach of Bimei
Mattisyahu, a totally different picture emerges. Not a
word is mentioned about the candles, the Menorah or miracle with the oil. The tefillah rather emphasizes
the strengths of a small group of believers conquering an impossibly powerful army.
The oft- repeated
of crisis and chaos. It is the same call of duty the
Chashmonaim were inspired by, that regardless of
reignited and spread light and warmth again. That was what brought about Nes Chanukah. Consequently,
the miracle of the candle burning for additional 7 days, was a direct response from Hashem to the strength
and faith of the Chashmonaim; a message that where there’s determination there’s redemption, and where there is resolve there is salvation.
Rav Yisroel Salanter visited a shoemaker one
night with a pair of shoes that needed to be repaired
phrases tell of an undersized ill-equipped group of
immediately. Pointing to the flickering candle, the
actual significance we celebrate on Chanukah?
the shoemaker’s hovel, inspiration overcame him,
Jews overcoming an army of massive proportions, of righteous fighting against sinners, etc. So what is the
Two thousand years ago, in an era when the light of
Hashem’s Chosen People was almost extinguished, a
spiritual darkness pervaded Klal Yisroel. Gusty winds and powerful storms of assimilation threatened to
destroy the existence of Yiddishkeit. Observing mitzvos
and practicing emunah and faith were followed by the harshest of punishments. Yet, in the midst of it all, a small group of Chashmonaim emerged, announcing their unwavering commitment and faith in Hashem
and His Torah. In the face of adversity and threats, they took the courage to openly demonstrate their steadfast
loyalty to Hashem by declaring the Pasuk of "Mi Chamoicha Ba’eilim Hashem". This powerful message conveyed unity, faith and courage.
The pasuk re-
ignited the spark of their determination and ultimately
gave the Chashmonaim the strength to declare war and conquer a much mightier and bigger army.
As we navigate life, we often experience darkness
and uncertainty, which may cause us to fall and
stumble. We strive to stay strong, connected and focused on our goal as Bnei Yisroel, yet sometimes we
lose direction. Lighting candles in the darkness of
the night ignites that spark, which would otherwise, chas v’shalom, flicker and die.
It symbolizes our
shoemaker said, "As long as the candle is burning, I
can still mend the shoes.” When Rav Yisroel exited and he whispered repeatedly, "As long as the candle is burning, I can still mend the shoes." As was his style to learn a lesson from every scenario, he repeated this
to his talmidim. “As long as our neshomo's connection to Hashem is still burning, we have the opportunity to reach and accomplish the most of our potential.
While the Chanukah candles flicker, we must
capture the strength they symbolize and renew
our kochos to overcome life’s inevitable hardships. Chanukah signifies never giving up, no matter how
formidable the challenge. We would do well to learn from the Chashmonaim, that when they recognized the impending threat, they immediately linked with a force greater than them, a force of emunah, a force of divine strength which ultimately, led them to unexpected victories.
reached far beyond
their limits and were
rewarded with one of
the greatest miracles
of Jewish history, Nes Chanukah.
SPARKS | 7
Feldenkrais M By: Shoshana Bernstein
8 | SPARKS
s Method W
hen I began the research necessary for an article on the Feldenkrais Method, I had no idea that I was embarking on an intriguing journey of discovery
into the inner workings of our minds and bodies. The passion and
expertise of the Feldenkrais practitioners I connected with were clearly evident, and I thank Rob Cohen and Paul Doron for their contributions.
What is the Feldenkrais Therapy? "I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality. They are not just parts somehow related to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think… the muscles themselves are part and parcel of our higher functions."
Moshe Pinchas Feldenkrais (May 6, 1904 – July 1, 1984) was
an Israeli physicist and the founder of the Feldenkrais Method.
He believed that optimal health is founded on good function and that his method of body/mind exploration improved functioning
and health by making individuals more aware of themseles on a sensory level.
SPARKS | 9
The therapy developed by Moshe Feldenkrais is
muscles. The normal state of a healthy muscle when
experiences a learning process which takes place
the child to move his head in response to stimuli. The
promoted as a learning method. The child undergoing treatment --referred to by Feldenkrais as the pupil--
on the kinaesthetic level (relating to sense and movement). This helps the child perceive where his or her kinaesthetic problem-solving is faulty. At the same time the child discovers and acquires a more efficient movement vocabulary capable of serving the child’s individual needs.
What is the premise behind the Feldenkrais Method? Imagine a baby who has slight spasticity in the neck
resting in a state of slight contraction is referred to as the tonus. If the tonus is faulty, the muscles don’t allow child will then never discover a way to turn himself
onto his stomach. As a result, his back muscles which he will later need for crawling will not develop properly.
If the baby never learns how to crawl, he will in turn be unable to sit, stand and walk.
The pioneering aspect of the Feldenkrais approach
is based on a very specific theory.
Feldenkrais the spastic baby is as capable of learning as
the healthy infant is, especially in the areas where the infant needs to correctly adapt to gravity and normal development. The newborn, (and to a certain extent
Moshe Feldenkrais - A Timeline Of Achievement • Moshe Feldenkrais was born in the Ukrainian town of Slavuta on May 6, 1904. • In 1918, he emigrated to Palestine where he began his studies of self-defense, including jiu jitsu. • During the 1930s, he lived in France and earned his Doctor of Science in engineering at the Sorbonne where the famous female scientist, Marie Curie, was one of his teachers. • In 1936 he earned a black belt in judo, and gained his 2nd degree black belt in 1938. • Feldenkrais fled to Britain in 1940 where he was a science officer in the Admiralty and taught self-defense techniques to his fellow servicemen, • After slipping on a submarine deck and re-aggravating an old soccer knee injury, he explored and developed self-rehabilitation and awareness techniques through selfobservation. These techniques later evolved into the Feldenkrais method. • In 1951 he returned to Israel. Three years later he began to teach his method full-time. • He trained the first group of 13 teachers in the method from 1969–1971 in Tel Aviv. • Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and into the 1980s he presented the Feldenkrais method throughout Europe and in North America. • He died on July 1, 1984 at the age of 80. • More than 2,000 practitioners of his method teach throughout the world today. 10 | SPARKS
the adult as well), owes this to the fact that millions
of brain cells are always available to take over the role
How does it work? In his foreword to the book, Embodied Wisdom:
of those destroyed by cerebral palsy. It therefore is
The Collected Articles of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais,
and less problematic the progress will be.
Feldenkrais would work with a middle-aged man who
logical that the sooner this kind of learning process is initiated in a spastic child’s development, the faster
Consider the following: In broad daylight one is
unable to see the stars. Near an airplane’s running
engine one will not hear anything else. Likewise,
when we are absorbed in our own thoughts or problems, we will often be unaware that somebody is trying to talk to us. This is what happens when a
child’s nervous system is challenged and thrown into
chaos, as occurs when it confronts spastic muscles. The nervous system is then unable to properly
perceive and register the impact of the gravitational
field and to adapt its movements in a way that is most beneficial. Think of it as a man who is in danger of falling from the 20th floor. His mind is paralyzed by panic and fear, and cannot process or send a command that he whistle a happy tune.
David Zemach-Bersin of The Feldenkrais Institute described the following: As part of his seminar,
had severe spastic cerebral palsy on a daily basis. “Feldenkrais gently moved him in mysterious ways, but clearly with great care, dexterity, intelligence, and deliberateness. Feldenkrais explained that he
was using gentle, functionally oriented movement to help Edward’s nervous system learn to change the
messages it was sending to his musculature. After a few weeks, Edward’s improvement was nothing short of miraculous. His speech became easy to understand,
his arms rested by his sides, and his walking was much more comfortable and efficient. In short, his entire way of organizing himself had changed.”
The Feldenkrais Method one-on-one sessions
are known as Functional Integration lessons. The
practitioner first assesses the child’s habits of Winter/2012
SPARKS | 11
movement, and then uses his or her hands to guide the
movements of the pupil who may be sitting, lying or standing (fully clothed).
This sensory stimulation serves two functions.
Firstly, it imparts to the pupil the ability to sense his own
body’s movement potential, thereby providing crucial self-awareness required for any functional development.
Secondly, it supports different body parts in such a way
that the pupil can enjoy a break in the constant struggle with gravity. By correct support at the right moment the practitioner imparts an important experience,
guiding the child’s nervous system to more controlled and differentiated movements. Thus the child’s brain discovers hitherto unknown movement possibilities. For more information:
REAL MOTHERS, REAL
Embodied Transformations 845-687-4838 email@example.com
Paul Doron firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.eliguy.net/functionalintegration-the-essence.php
Marcy Lindheimer, Director The Feldenkrais Learning Center 212-362-8597 www.feldenkraislearningcenter.com
Nancy Neiditz, LPT Ezras Choilim Health Center 845-782-3242 www.Nancypt4kids.com
Shoshana Bernstein is a freelance writer and staff writer at Binah Magazine. Her expertise includes research and analysis covering a wide range of relevant issues as well as fundraising, communications and marketing. She can be reached at Shoshanabernstein@gmail.com
12 | SPARKS
Faige Schwartz* Five and a half year old son born with very low muscle tone, specifically in the trunk area, due to ascites in utero. Faige began early intervention with standard therapy when her baby was about six weeks old.
tremendous hashgacha pratis, she encountered several people who mentioned a therapy she had never heard of – the Feldenkrais Method.
What made you decide to try Feldenkrais therapy? I kept hearing about this fabulous therapy; how gentle and yet effective it is. When the fifth person suggested I try it, I figured, “Okay, there must be something to this.” The timing of my decision was very bashert, as someone had brought in a Feldenkrais specialist from Germany, named Paul Doron, and I made an appointment to see him. Can you describe the first session? When Paul arrived in my home, he immediately began doing different movements with my baby’s arms and legs, all while the baby was still asleep! My first thoughts were, “This is very weird.” Then the baby woke up and I was pleasantly surprised that he did not even start crying. When the session was over Paul announced, “My trip to the United States has been worthwhile! I really think I can help your baby.” I have to admit that at this point I felt very uneasy and skeptical. I remember lighting candles that week and begging Hashem to show me if this is a therapy I should pursue. What happened to convince you? Well, my appointment was on Friday, and by Shabbos morning, I started noticing that my baby was lifting his head higher than ever before. By the afternoon he had rolled over four times. Twenty-four hours ago he had been unable to roll from his back to his front and suddenly, right before my eyes, he was rolling back and forth without any difficulty! The results were so
amazing; I was actually more frantic than excited. I kept thinking, “What has he done to my son?”
Did you continue the therapy? Oh yes! We spent several sessions with Paul, and despite the physical therapist’s adamant insistence to the contrary, we decided to drop standard therapy and concentrate solely on Feldenkrais. When I brought him back to daycare after a few weeks, they could not believe the difference. They asked me, “What did you do? This baby won’t stop moving!” What do you now say to other mothers who are interested in knowing more? I tell them that Feldenkrais is a series of slow and steady steps that prepare the body through movement to naturally learn the next step of physical development. Feldenkrais is not a magic pill—you will not always see drastic or immediate improvement. It is a very refined therapy and at first the improvements may be subtle and barely noticeable. But, over time these minor changes accumulate and become an integral part of their child’s overall improvement and development. Therefore, it is important for you to be open with your practitioner and discuss the changes he or she notices.
Paul returned to Germany and Faige continued
Feldenkrais therapy—first with Marcy Lindheimer, Director of the Feldenkrais Learning Center in Manhattan and with Anat Banie, Senior Trainer, and then with Nancy
SPARKS | 13
Neiditz and Rob Cohen. Faige was instrumental in the events that led to Nancy joining the Ezras Choilim Health Center where she practices Feldenkrais and Anat Baniel Method™ therapy as a licensed pediatric physical therapist (who is also conversant in Yiddish!) thus allowing for insurance coverage. Faige’s son is now five and a half years old and no longer needs the therapy. He walks with swift and easy movements and she credits Feldenkrais with enriching her son’s life and making him aware of his body.
Bashi Sommers* Three-year-old daughter born with Cerebral Palsy When Bashi’s twin daughters were born, she had no idea that there was anything wrong. Both smiled, cooed and started rolling over right on schedule. It wasn’t until one twin was crawling and the other only squirming on the floor that the possibility of developmental delays arose. Twice she was evaluated; twice deemed fine, though one therapist did ask if the baby’s hand was always fisted. Bashi answered in the affirmative, having no inkling that it was an indication of a serious issue. The baby was started on a regimen of physical therapy. However, instead of progress Bashi watched her daughter’s little body becoming tighter and tighter. It wasn’t until several months later-- when her mother’s intuition demanded answers-- that she brought her daughter to an orthopedist. “Your daughter has cerebral palsy”, he promptly announced. “What’s that?!” Bashi responded.
14 | SPARKS
How did your journey ead you to Feldenkrais therapy? I was stunned when the orthopedist diagnosed her with this disease that, quite frankly, I couldn’t pronounce and had never even heard of. He assured me that her case was mild and that she should continue therapy. However as time progressed, her body became so tight she had to wear braces in order to walk; it was awkward and difficult and the first time I saw her, I started to cry. I was devastated. I reached out to Mrs. Landau at Refuah Helpline and she guided me in the direction of Dr. Robert P. Jordan, a highly skilled orthopedist, and to Feldenkrais practitioner Rob Cohen. Mrs. Landau cautioned me in regards to the Feldenkrais therapy, saying, “At first it won’t look like anything, but it really works.” I spoke to several mothers who had used him and everyone was very positive, encouraging and supportive. My husband and I both agreed that money could not play a role in this decision and Hashem would provide. So I called Rob Cohen and scheduled an appointment.
What was your reaction to the therapy? I saw a happy, smiling girl who was comfortable and satisfied throughout her therapy. That itself was enough for me. And when I picked her up from the table at the end of that first session, I could not believe that it was my child!!! For the very first time, her body was loose and she actually curled her legs around me. I knew I had made the right choice. What has happened in the years since that first session? I remember that after that first session, she was tight again and I called Rob Cohen in a panic. He assured me, “This is Feldenkrais. There are ups and downs as we are changing her brain, and adjustments will continue to be necessary.” One of the biggest steps for me happened after she had
percutaneous surgery and the surgeon
had her fitted for a hip brace. She cried the entire night. When I consulted with Rob
Cohen he informed me “I do not see any hip disorder at all.”
I used the brace for one more week,
and then stuffed it in the back of the closet. Understandably, the doctors were furious and I decided to go for a third opinion with a well-known orthopedist.
took one look at my child, turned to me and
asked: “Are you sure this child has CP?! It’s impossible -- look at her movement!” He
was so surprised. I thought that maybe
I had gotten the whole thing wrong! After a year of Feldenkrais therapy she
was a different child to the extent that a
renowned orthopedist was amazed that she even had CP. It was such a wonderful
testament that the derech we had chosen was correct.
What is your message to other mothers who are reading this? Early intervention is great for a child who is slightly delayed, but I would not recommend it for a child with a specific issue. I now alternate between Rob Cohen and Zahava Wilson both Feldenkrais practitioners who are certain that she will one day walk with no assistance at all and that she will live a regular, healthy life. Every dollar, every cent and every minute is worth it --Feldenkrais has given her a new lease on life. *Names have been changed to protect identity. However, should anyone wish to contact Bashi or Faige for further information or guidance they can do so by reaching out to the Rayim office.
In speaking with Mrs. Faige Schwartz, I was intrigued to discover that Paul Doron has cerebral palsy and was treated by Moshe Feldenkrais himself. Faige directed me to his website, where I had the opportunity to watch several fascinating video clips. I reached out to Paul who was kind enough to answer my questions and provide additional material for this article.
What led you to become a Feldenkrais practitioner? As a previously severely handicapped young person, I was able to liberate myself from my own handicap through ten years experience with the teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais. You could say I became a Feldenkrais practitioner due to my own personal experience, which led to my conviction that use of the Feldenkrais method achieved positive results!
What would you say to parents of handicapped children regarding the value of exploring the Feldenkrais Method of treatment? I personally know no other more effective way of coping with any handicap in children or adults than having the Feldenkrais Method applied by a competent and responsible Feldenkrais practitioner. What do you think it will take to have Feldenkrais recognized in the medical world? Is this something you hope will happen for the sake of those who wish to pursue Feldenkrais yet are limited by budgetary constraints? It depends on how the teaching and the practice of the Feldenkrais Method will develop in the future. For the moment I am not too optimistic, though I hope I am wrong. My experience has proven that in most cases daily application of the Feldenkrais method (ideally immediately after birth, or at least in the first months of life), can net fantastic results. During my twenty-six years of practice of the Feldenkrais method I have often witnessed the complete relief of a handicap in a few days to a few months, depending on the age of the baby and on the severity of the handicap. If a practitioner is truly sincere and motivated only by intentions to help others, he or she should not be charging more then $150 for a sixty minutes session. And while treatment can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars it can save the child’s quality of life as well as huge sums of money which might otherwise need to be spent later in life in the pursuit of often futile treatments.
SPARKS | 15
| By: Chavi Nussbaum |
’m not the type to follow current events.
I mean, between my house, my spouse, my job and
Dovi, I can barely keep current with my own events.
Right now, I am waiting in an endless line at the bakery.
You know, there’s a time for everything in life, and in my life
right now, it’s time to buy bakery challah. Although frankly, for the amount of time I’m spending on this line, I may as well bake my own.
They probably put newspapers and magazines at the
checkout counters just to keep you occupied, I giggle to
myself. The picture on the front of Our Community Daily is
particularly eye-catching – a soaring mountain, a blazing
peak against a bold sky, and the caption: T7Expedition Attempts to Reach Summit of Mt. Maco. I skim the article as I wait.
An expedition of seven climbers, dubbed T7, is attempting to climb Mt. Maco, known as one of the world’s most challenging, though not tallest peaks, in record time.
These people, I think, obviously don’t have any problems
at home, if they have to manufacture such challenges for themselves. I surely cannot relate to them.
Unless, they do have challenges at home, and they’re
Now, that’s a sentiment I can definitely empathize with. ***
I love taking Dovi grocery shopping. There’s so much for
him to see there, color and variety, people and things, even
machines like the forklifts and the produce scales. But the main reason I love taking him there is because he loves it. He sits quietly in the wagon, clutching a treat and drinking it all in, and just for the moment – I look like everyone else.
I meet Malky in the produce aisle. “What a beautiful
little boy!” she exclaims as I beam proudly. Cooing to Dovi, she says, “And what’s your name?”
Dovi draws back and doesn’t respond.
Malky laughs. “A shy one,” she comments gaily. “He
doesn’t look a thing like you, does he?”
16 | SPARKS
SPARKS | 17
“Nope, not at all,” I agree. I glance at Malky’s little
girl. “How old is she? She doesn’t look like you, either.” “She’s four. And yours is…?”
“Dovi’s about the same age,” I reply. Suddenly
I remember the pacifier he is sucking. “Well, a bit younger,” I amend.
“He’s beautiful. Look at those eyes,” she says
with a wave, turning to go. “You should have a lot of nachas. Come, sheifelah…”
Furtively I glance back at them. How different
do we look, really?
As I turn toward the meat display, I look at
Dovi’s neat haircut. When he still had long hair, I
got away with more. I can never decide if Dovi’s
Interviewer: Thanks for taking the time for this interview, Mike. Michael Kovinkas: Thank you, Jon. Well its sure cold up here, Jon… My coffee is hot. It burns my raw throat going
Interviewer: Yeah, it must be getting colder and colder the higher up you get? MK: It is… it is... Each day I think it can’t possibly get colder, but it does. Interviewer: And what’s morale like for the team, Mike? Is the cold getting them down?
looks are a blessing or a curse.
I glide down the health food aisle. On the one
hand, of course I want him to look normal.
On the other hand, since he looks normal, I don’t
get the natural accommodations people make for such children. Remember the pasta.
Then of course, on the other hand not everyone
reacts appropriately, and in those cases, it’s an advantage that Dovi looks normal.
O.K. Right turn toward housewares. On the
other hand, it often allows me to slip into my fantasy that he is normal.
Back up, grab a mop and move on. I call it
fantasy. Others call it denial.
Do I need eggs or not? I am running out of
“hands”, so I decide I’m glad he looks normal, and
I hope one day he will be normal. That’s not denial, is it?
There’s a dairy café at the front of the store, and
I buy a large, hot coffee on my way out and a black-
and-white for Dovi. We sit at a little booth and savor our treats quietly. Someone’s left their newspaper on the table, and I glance at the front page idly. The big story again is about that expedition trying to
reach the top of Mount Maco; the paper seems to have reprinted an interview with the climbers.
Dovi is being unusually quiet and content. I pull the paper closer to me and begin to read.
18 | SPARKS
MK: Well, not the cold so much… Seems like every day brings another challenge… But we’ve got the equipment we need… We’re getting there, we’re almost there, and we’re going to get there soon. Interviewer: So you feel prepared? MK: (pauses) We’ve got what we need, and we’re going to get there soon. Interviewer: Tell me, Mike, I’m sure some of the team members are doing better than others.
Anyone there think about giving up, turning back? MK: You know Jon, that’s a great question. And when you’re in a challenge like this one, sometimes you say to yourself, “Forget it. This is crazy. I’m freezing, I’m injured. Maybe I truly am just not cut out for this kind of stuff.” And you start thinking, maybe you just have to face your limitations and say to yourself “Listen, I’m only human, and this is as far as I go.” But then you look up at the mountain, you look up at the peak proud against the sky, and you say, “No way. I am going there. And you know, I can get there – if I really do want to. So we just keep on going.”
I'm glad he looks normal... That's not denial, is it?
Interviewer: I see. Well, thanks Mike, good luck to you and the team. We will stay in touch with you in the coming days and we will be with you as you continue your quest to get “there”. MK: Thanks, Jon. See you at the top. I push away the paper. The coffee cup warms my fingers, and
the hot liquid slides down, melting the lump in my throat. We
need to get home soon. After we unload the packages, the OT is coming. That’s always exhausting… and then we’ll need to begin the Suppertime Struggle and the Bedtime Battle. But that’s how it is. You just keep on going.
Dovi wakes up really early in the morning – at an hour that
most people still consider night, to be precise. He refuses to eat breakfast and sprays the cereal and milk all over the kitchen. I do mean all over. I’m pretty sure he didn’t miss any spots.
Life with Dovi is so unpredictable, but I can always count on it
being difficult, I think grimly.
He refuses to get dressed. He’s really strong, and it eventually
takes both Yosef and me to hold him down and force him into
his clothes. Dovi is screaming and thrashing, and my teeth are clenched, and I have to use all my body weight to keep him still. Sometimes, I can’t believe this is my life.
I have to carry him to the car for playgroup and then carry
him inside. I feel terrible about the sense of relief I experience when I leave him there.
They take good care of him there, of course. Maybe they take
better care of him than I do. He never has tantrums like that at school.
SPARKS | 19
When I leave the classroom, I give him a hug. He
just stands there, still and poker faced. In his better
times, he’ll smile a little or even hold onto me, but today – nothing.
“I love you,” I tell him, wondering how he could
believe me after the battle we’ve just endured. Not even a flicker in his eyes.
That’s the worst part: I love him so much, and he
doesn’t know it. I love him so much, and I have no way of telling him.
I can’t do this anymore.
I am so stressed, that I am shaking when I get to
work. But no one gives me a second glance; everyone is talking about the T7 expedition on Mount Maco.
What did we talk about before these people got
I stare at my screen, but all I see is a mountain
peak blazing white against the cold sky, and a team of determined people, like tiny ants, struggling, inching towards it.
I lie awake for a long time that night.
It’s not often, that I lie awake in bed. I’m usually
so exhausted, that I fall asleep immediately.
Every time I close my eyes, I am assailed with
images: Dovi in the grocery store, Dovi thrashing
on the kitchen floor, Dovi with the occupational therapist, saying goodbye to Dovi at playgroup. What am I fighting so hard for?
it into their heads to climb some unconquerable mountain?
“My husband was following the news all
evening,” announces Beatrice loudly at my elbow,
waving wildly with pink fingernails. “He thought
they’d for sure reach the summit last night. And then that avalanche! I bet he’s not getting any work
done today. He’s just sitting and waiting to see what happens!”
You’re not getting too much work done today
either, I note sardonically to myself.
“When I saw the pictures of that avalanche I
thought they’d give up for sure,” Sandy gushes.
“But their spokesman said this morning that they’d
announce their decision by the end of the day, and they were almost certain to continue. I don’t know how they can keep going!”
Come to my house, Sandy, and I’ll show you an
More images: a blazing peak and little ant-men.
When do you say, “Listen, I have to face his
avalanche and how one can keep on going, I think.
limitations; this is as far as we go?”
on the goal,” pontificates Nellie, miming quotation
the top of the mountain, roaring down at the tiny
aside your other interests and do your work,” she
one to hear me scream.
Now, I wasn’t getting any work done, either.
“You just have to set aside your fears and focus
marks with her fingers.
Our manager, Lisa, walks in. “You just have to set
retorts, and everyone turns back to their screens.
20 | SPARKS
You can get there – if you want to.
Inside my eyelids, an avalanche snowballs from
figures of the climbers.
In my nightmare, I can’t move, and there is no ***
In spite of myself, I am addicted.
I mean, like I said, I never follow current events. I never know
what’s going on in the news. But something about this story just resonates so strongly with me, that I find myself dialing the local
news hotline on my way to work each day. And then again on my way home and on my way to the dry cleaners…You get the idea. The team is slowly recouping from the avalanche. They are making progress again.
...And you know, I can get there if I really want to...
They are hindered again by a snowstorm and by subsequent
They are moving, inch by inch.
Not only am I suddenly so interested, but suddenly the
outcome really matters. I want them to make it to the top, every
single one of them, to prove it wasn’t impossible.
The image of the soaring peak is branded behind my eyelids,
and I think of the expedition constantly, throughout each day. ***
On Monday afternoon, my sister Raizy holds an upsheren for
her little boy. Yosef has to work, so I go without him.
Something I’ve noticed about mothers of small children,
and particularly myself; whatever we’re officially doing, we’re actually taking care of our kids.
You may say you’re at a simcha, but really, you’re spending the
entire time watching your kids. You may say you’re going out for
ice cream, but really you’re spending the entire time managing
your kids. You may say you’re going grocery shopping, but really you’re spending the entire time supervising your kids.
Baruch Hashem. That’s they way it’s supposed to be.
Maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself, but I feel that this is
even truer for me. I can never simply socialize, mingle or enjoy. I can’t relax my active vigilance on Dovi for even a moment. I
don’t have the luxury of settling him down with some other kids
or some toys for a bit of distraction. Certainly, I can do none of these in unfamiliar, crowded places.
Often, I feel isolated, and I rarely go out, since babysitters
are not an option. The only ones who could care for Dovi are my mother and my younger sister Suri, and they have lives and schedules too. In this case, they will both be at the upsheren. Either I take Dovi, or I don’t go. I don’t know which is harder.
SPARKS | 21
So much that happens in my life is affected by
my having to accommodate Dovi, and right now I don’t want to give another inch, if it’s not absolutely necessary.
I try to prepare him in advance of these events, of
course. Sometimes, I think it helps. But sometimes,
This is how it is. This is what it is all about. This
is me, and this is my Dovi, and this is my life.
Yes, it takes an inordinate amount of planning
and foresight and energy… just to sit in the corner.
When you’re in a challenge like this one, sometimes
it backfires, and he falls apart before we’re even on
you say to yourself, forget it. This is crazy. Maybe I
Raizy is my older sister, and we’ve always been close,
human, and this is as far as I go.” But then you look up
great. Then, I strategize a real plan for Dovi.
you know, I can get there – if I really want to.
truly am just not cut out for this. Maybe you just
and so many relatives that I rarely get to see will be
at the mountain, you look up at the peak proud against
Today, I am determined to enjoy the upsheren.
have to face your limitations and say, “Listen, I’m only
there. I dress carefully, and it feels great to look
the sky, and you say, “No way. I am going there. And
I use all my tricks as soon as I get to Raizy. I hold
Dovi on my hip (so heavy!), since this way he feels secure. He is eyelevel with the crowd, and he doesn’t
feel overpowered by towering, faceless, chattering
adults. I immediately settle myself with Dovi on my lap, into a quiet corner, where we are safe from the crush and the noise.
My mother and sisters wander over to my little
corner, and we shmooze and kibbitz for a bit. For five minutes I leave Dovi with Suri, while I try to talk
to everyone I haven’t seen in such a long while. It works. Sort of.
It’s a bit of a tease.
I take him out of the room, when the barber uses
By Wednesday, the tide has turned for the T7
expedition. I listen carefully to the news report, as I drive home with Dovi.
“‘The T7 expedition is approaching the peak of Mt. Maco and is expected to reach the summit by Sunday,’ a spokesman for the group announced in a press conference this morning. “Speaking from the mountain, with fierce winds gusting around them, the T7 climbers shared tidbits of their feelings, as they prepare for the final leg of their journey. “‘Our adrenalin is pumping,’ said Jeremy Esposito. ‘This is the last stretch of the marathon.’
the haircutting machine, since I know the noise
“‘We are determined,’ asserted Cathy Remington.
let him. People notice, but no one comments.
As we drive home, I ask myself: So, was it a
“Though the team feels confident about their success, only time will tell if this expedition will eventually reach the summit. Experience has shown them time and again, that they have to always expect the unexpected.”
But did I enjoy?
I stand with Dovi on one hip, facing my front
terrifies Dovi. Dovi then slips out of my grip and
begins to run round in circles with his arms wide. I We leave soon after.
Well, I succeeded in keeping Dovi mostly calm.
I got to shmooze with my mother and sisters, and
that was fun. I didn’t really get to talk to any cousins or aunts though.
I am not bitter today.
Today, I am thoughtful.
22 | SPARKS
“Michael Kovinkas was succinct: ‘See you at the top.’
door. The white, soaring peak superimposes itself on my consciousness.
This is my life. This is my mountain.
I put one foot forward and take a deep breath.
See you at the top!
Featuring: - Golden Windows - A Time to Cry - Reflection
SPARKS in PERSPECTIVE Inspiration and Chizuk derived from mundane life situations, may at times be your guiding light. Reach out for them. Winter/2012
SPARKS | 23
Sparks in Perspective
24 | SPARKS
By: Draizy Lemberger
he stood there staring at the house with
something amazing! Across the valley, set on top of a
comparison was striking. The magnificence of the
would be dreamlike to live in that house and be
the golden windows, constantly glimpsing
back at her own dilapidated little house. The
house, set on the hill across her own, was in stark
contrast to her shabby abode. She yearned for the
splendor and beauty she imagined she would find behind the golden windows.
As the little girl grew up, this scene constantly
replayed itself in her mind. She would occupy herself in the small yard close to her home, where she had a
perfect view of her dream house, and she could allow her imagination to wander. The house with the
golden windows. It seemed so unreal, so inaccessible. Was it really possible to live in that house and be able
to glance through Golden Windows? She adored her own little place, her parents and her family. But, she longed to live in the golden home. And so, she would
fantasize all day about how beautiful, how incredible
it would be if one day the house with the golden windows would belong to her.
One beautiful day, in an attempt to actualize
her dreams, the little girl set out on her bike slowly
pedaling further and further away from her cozy home. The sun was shining, as she made her way down the lane and across the valley steadily nearing
the house of her dreams. Her fantasy was soon to be
a reality she could touch with her hands and see upclose.
And then, just like that, she was there.
dismounted from her bike and leaned it against the gatepost, while she stared at the path that led to the house. She gazed at the scene that had occupied so many of her childhood daydreams. She was shocked
and disappointed, as she noticed to her disbelief that the windows were rather plain and dirty. They
reflected nothing but the sad neglect of a deserted house.
With no reason or desire to continue her
investigations, she turned around defeated by
the disenchanting reality. She started out on her
way back home, and suddenly she caught sight of
hill, was a little familiar house, its windows glistening
spectacularly! A house with golden windows. It able to glance through Golden Windows. She stared
intently, hardly believing her eyes, as she realized the truth, finally. The sun’s warm rays were shining
directly onto the windows of her own home. She, too, lived in a house with golden windows. And then she understood…
She had failed to realize that she had been living
in the home of her dreams all these years. And as she tried to sort through her confusion, the truth struck at her forcefully. Her fantasies were reflecting the
reality of her beautiful life. She had yearned for something that was in fact in her possession. Only by actually experiencing the emptiness of her illusions,
was she able to acknowledge and enjoy sunrays that shone upon her.
Every so often, we stumble upon dreams for a better,
more comfortable life. We stand in the shadow of our own little home, unaware of its beauty. We struggle
with our desire to live on the other side of the valley, in the house with the golden windows. We crave a life
that would have been superior to the one with which we were burdened, envisioning easier parnassah, better children, and more exciting life experiences. We pursue our dreams, follow them and invest so much effort and energy to acquire the unattainable.
From time to time, our fantasies lead us to a point
where we get discouraged once we realize they
are only illusions. When we finally believe we’ve conquered it all, and achieved it all, we realize and admit that the beauty and sunlight we craved were always there for us, waiting every day in our own backyard.
Unfortunately, it sometimes requires
painful disappointment for us to acknowledge the truth of our lives. We then turn to gaze at our
little homes filled with sweet blessings and hidden
treasures, for if we let go of our unrealistic dreams, we will undoubtedly discover the Golden Windows in the comfort of our own homes.
SPARKS | 25
Sparks in Perspective
By: Adina Jacobs
26 | SPARKS
indy observed them, while she stood there wrapped in her own distress. They were a
crowd of happy women, dancing in harmony
to the beat of the music. A circle of lively young girls
surrounded the radiant kallah. The atmosphere at the chasuna was exuberant, in stark contrast to her dark emotional state of mind. Mindy had left her house
in low spirits, clearly not interested in attending the
chasuna of her aunt’s youngest child. Yet, she knew she
had no choice, in light of her close relationship with the family. And so, here she was, staring at the excited participants, while remaining careful not to allow herself to be swept away by the
joy of the moment. It would have felt wrong. In fact, never since
the loss of her 7-year-old Chaya’la two years earlier, did she permit
herself to let go of her grief. To her it was as if this would give
her deceased daughter comfort
Mindy, who had observed her before, looked at her
in astonishment. Her demeanor was so sincere, and her personality seemed full of vitality and good cheer. Her
eyes did not tell the story of a mother who has suffered the loss of all her children.
“How? How did you manage to survive? What helped
you hold on to life while you were enduring the most
unspeakable pain imaginable? And most of all, how can
you not cry and still be so happy, when you lost those
who were the most precious and dear to you?” Mindy blurted out the questions; questions whose cries were laced with her own agonizing struggle.
"No one should tell you to stop crying. But use your tears to cry purposefully."
“Oh, my dear child. Cry I did!
But I learned to use my tears to cry for others. Whenever I cry,
I think about those who need refuos and yeshuous and I daven for them with my tears.”
She put her arms around
Mindy and said, “No one should
and connection she could not offer any other way.
or could tell you to stop crying. But use your tears and
After a while, she could bear it
walked away, leaving Mindy with a powerful message
Therefore, attending simchas was to Mindy a dreaded and painful experience.
no longer and left the dancing floor
shattered and devastated. She hurried
out miserably towards the lobby to
gather her belongings and leave. Her face
learn how to cry purposefully! Use your tears to pray for everyone you know who is suffering”. Then she and with a new approach to life to ponder.
There is a time for tears. Tears allow us to release
and express our grief in times of sorrow. The koach of
yiddishe treren is inestimable, especially the koach of
and eyes spoke volumes of the sorrow
the tears of a yiddishe mamme. Chazal tell us that “שערי
where she did not care or mind if others saw
there for us, to listen to our tefillos and to acknowledge
and misery she felt, as hot tears rolled
down her cheeks. She was at that point
her in such an emotional state. Thus, it was no
surprise to her when an old woman tapped her on the shoulder and asked her gently, “What’s bothering you, mein kind? Why are you crying? Maybe I can help you?” Mindy stared at her, clearly uninterested in
unloading her personal pain. In an attempt to shrug
the old lady off, she answered sharply. “You won’t understand me. You never lost a child!”
“Really?” the woman said, her eyes round. “I lost
not one, but six children in the Holocaust!”
”דמעות לא ננעלו, that the gates of tears are never closed.
Hashem, in his infinite kindness and mercy is always our tears. However, when our tears are coming from
a source that also includes concern and feelings for others, when they are infused with purpose and
meaning, not only with our own pain, those tears reach
the highest levels of Ahavas Yisroel. Those are the gems the Ribono shel Olam treasures and waits for.
יהי רצון מלפניך שומע קול בכיות שתשים דמעותינו בנאדך להיות, May it
be Your will that You gather our tears in Your cup and
bring us Moshiach who will forever erase the pain and sorrow.
SPARKS | 27
Sparks in Perspective 28 | SPARKS
By: Dini Landau
he heat in the little hut was intense. Big beads
to be purified and cleansed, before I can create
formed into magnificent silver artifacts. Every day,
until I can achieve the goal of having fashioned a
of sweat rolled down the elderly silversmith’s
forehead, as chunks of metal were slowly
he molded and shaped the rough pieces of silver heating them with very high degrees of heat until
they became pliable and soft. His was a profession that required focused concentration and enormous skill.
Once, while the silversmith was immersed in
something with it. Then, it needs to be hammered and shaped. There are many steps to be followed,
beautiful and functional piece of silver. When I can
at last see my own reflection in the smooth surface of a finished item, I know my work is finally complete.”
Hashem is the master
his work, a group of visitors stopped by. Trying
work of art. As the silversmith held onto a large
ultimate goal is to help
not to interrupt him, they gazed in quiet awe,
watching the transformation from raw material to piece of silver midway into the blazing fire, one
young onlooker asked inquisitively, “Why do you
need to hold onto the piece of silver? Why can’t you just insert it in the fire and leave it there until it’s done and polished?”
The silversmith, trying to stifle a chuckle,
responded patiently. “I can’t just leave it in the fire without holding onto it carefully.
constantly monitoring the specific degree of heat, the silver would melt and lose its entire form.”
His response caused an immediate flurry of
“How long does it take for the silver to melt?” one
person inquired. “How do you know how long to keep it in the fire?” a curious little girl asked.
“ Well, I’ll try to explain the process to you,” the
old man announced. “The unrefined metal needs
world; fortifying his precious metals.
us achieve our portion
"When I can see my own reflection, I know my work is finally complete"
in the World to Come.
And so, to enable us to reach
our potential, He purifies us from
all the dirt and dust that surround our Neshomah. Though the cleansing process may sometimes require intense heat, incessant hammering or
constant remolding, the purpose is not to destroy us, but rather to transform us. The very act of holding us in the blazing fire is Hashem’s sign, that
He cares for us. He monitors us lovingly, as we go
through the process of discovering our capacity for personal growth and development. When we understand that this purification process is for our
benefit, and when an image of Hashem is reflected in us, we know that the aspirations and yearnings of our neshoma have finally been accomplished. Winter/2012
SPARKS | 29
By: Adina Jacobs
To the ordinary passerby, She gave the appearance Of the typical apprehensive mother. Seemingly anticipating, Full of hope and optimism A successful first day of school. She observed intently Peering thru the window The hubbub of rolling school busses. Youngsters in uniform, Backpacks and school supplies, Serious expressions, adorning their faces. A glorious milestone So independently acquired by them, Yet designated unreachable To her precious daughter. Her solemn expressions Told the story Of a mother’s shattered hopes. Her daughter’s milestone, she admitted, Will not be accompanied By the scampering of little feet Onto yellow busses. Chayala’s grim prognosis Allowed her no chances To experience that much yearned for scenario.
30 | SPARKS
Instead, She would need to concede to the reality Of having her Chaya’la transported Totally dependent, Without the usual carefree waves and smiles, The typical “bye Mommy!”. That would be missing From the spontaneous daily parting. Yet, the day came. The moment of the future, She envisioned to be full of gloom, Unexpectedly arrived, Crystallized Into a memorable experience of love. She kissed her daughter good bye And then noticed her smile Created by the purity of effort. Her instant commitment was ultimate; To value one by one, her daughters unique accomplishments. For it wasn’t the milestone, to be acknowledged. But rather the effort invested By a hardworking pure individual. And so she reflected Upon the never-ending joy and satisfaction Her precious daughter would bless her with.
SPARKS | 31
32 | SPARKS
Pillars of Strength
By: Dini Landau
Strength & courage, shared by three amazing mothers
The following ongoing column is an interview that provides a forum for a powerful and open discussion among parents, who are currently dealing with children who suffer from genetic and hereditary diseases. Their willingness to share, and their endless fount of wisdom and experience serves as a source of chizuk to all of us. May we all be zoche very soon to complete healing for all yiddishe kinder and to be able to recount these challenges as a thing of the past iy”h.
Tell us a little about the time and the process that led up to your receiving a genetic diagnosis for your child? Rechy S.*: In the days soon after my son was born,
he appeared to have no major or obvious issues other than poor sucking skills. So instead of nursing him, I tried bottle-feeding him. After a while, when he began refusing the bottle, I literally fed him drop by drop. At about 3 months of age, my son got his first pneumonia, which introduced us to a long chain of visits to the ICU. When my son was 6 months old and we returned to the hospital for yet another bout of pneumonia, the doctor ordered testing for the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis. When the results came back negative, the doctor assured us that he had a bad case of reflux, which he would eventually outgrow. Throughout his infancy, I struggled to keep him nourished with different types of food, since he completely refused liquids. After a while, we noticed a sequence in my son’s feeding patterns, where we would experience a 2 week period of successful feedings, followed by 2 weeks of absolute refusal to every food. Upon the birth of my second baby, we finally
began getting the answers to our mind-boggling questions. My second son presented with low muscle tone and was generally floppy. At the tender age of 4 weeks, he was hospitalized for high fever and rapid breathing, a classic case of pneumonia. The doctor ordered extensive testing including a spinal tap and an MRI which both came back negative. As a result, the doctor suggested that we go for genetic testing. The geneticist was not very happy to see our faces again, since this obviously indicated serious recurring symptoms. Being that the genetic results for CF had been negative in my older child, they conducted testing immediately for FD (Familial Dysautonomia). It was a Friday night, when I got the results that my child was affected by this complicated genetic disorder. I immediately figured that my older son, in all likelihood, suffered from the same disorder. He was actually admitted to the hospital the following day, for pneumonia along with chicken pox. His FD symptoms were pretty obvious by then, and basic blood work later confirmed our suspicions.
Kaila O.*: When my oldest son was born, it was
At about age 4 years old, our doctor suggested
instantly noticeable that something was not right. His body had a very floppy composure, and he did not smile or focus properly. After receiving negative results for the EEG and MRI, he was diagnosed with global developmental delay. We enrolled him in early intervention at the age of 5 months and searched for the best therapies available for him. We truly believed that one day we’ll wake up to a regular “normal” baby, since in our naï�ve state of mind he was “just delayed”. Reflecting back, it was actually to our benefit that we held onto our belief, since it kept us going. We remained hopeful and determined.
that we go for genetic testing, just to rule out the
possibilities. We were skeptical of the chances, since we b"h had healthy children after him. When the
results came back negative, we were very relieved
and expected to proceed with life as usual. However,
when my daughter was born, it didn’t take long for me to realize that something about her resembled
my son. She presented with the same jerky eye movements and had severe jaundice after birth. At
that point it didn’t take much to convince us see the
>>> Next page
SPARKS | 33
Pillars of Strength
geneticist immediately. Being that we had an older child with
disabilities, they were certain that it was a recessive genetic
disorder, but were still unable to come up with a specific
diagnosis. In hindsight, I question why the Doctor did not
order an MRI for our daughter; the disorder would have been detected at once.
Shortly thereafter, I discovered I was expecting another
child. I felt as if the world was caving in on me, when the doctor informed me that he detected a Dandy Walker cyst
on the brain, through the sonogram. At that point, I was still absorbing the fact that I had two children with special needs;
I definitely didn’t feel capable of caring for another one.
When I again contacted the geneticist, he suddenly realized that an MRI was never conducted on my Esty. He advised
us to redo an MRI for both kids, which then revealed a clear
indication of Joubert Syndrome. With a confirmed diagnosis for our children, the grim possibility of the same diagnosis for my unborn child was highly likely. Further sonograms confirmed the Molar Tooth indication, a malformation in the
brain. Although we hoped and prayed for a miracle to occur, Surala too, was born with Joubert Syndrome.
Michal Z.*: My husband and I were both 20 years old, when I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Immediately after
birth, it was apparent that something was amiss, when she became cyanotic in the midwife’s arms. They whisked her to the NICU, where she was intubated and remained so for quite
some time. After several weeks of ups and downs, she was discharged as a medically fragile baby, secondary to traumatic
birth and meconium aspiration. We struggled with her health and development for quite some time. Then, doctors felt that
there was more going on and suggested a myriad of tests and procedures, in order to help us arrive at a clear diagnosis.
While the doctors suspected a genetic disorder, we did not get a confirmed diagnosis until Chava was nine years old. At
that point we had a family of six and didn’t know if any other
children were affected, since this disorder doesn’t necessarily manifest itself at birth. When my two year old Shimon was
diagnosed several months later, we immediately tested all
our children and enlisted the assistance of GENErations (a project of Bonei Olam) to guide and assist us in finding the
34 | SPARKS
gene which was affecting our children.
How did your immediate and extended family accept the news about your child’s genetic disorder? Rechy S.: My family was obviously very
shocked and saddened by the news; yet they
stood by my side, and till today they remain very supportive.
Kaila O.: We are truly blessed with a very “special”
also knew that through the letter, I was strengthening
they all gradually came to grips with the situation.
would eventually accept our circumstances with less
and supportive family. Although it was initially very difficult for them to accept such a painful reality,
My mother, who has always modeled emunah and bitachon for us in an exceptional manner, was and is a great source of chizuk to the entire family.
Upon the birth of my third disabled child, I
composed a letter to my family, in an effort to help them cope with the sad news. I knew that in order to
be strong myself, I would need my family’s support. I
myself silmutaneously, since I firmly believed that by seeing us as strong and unbroken, our family difficulty.
Although there were comments and suggestions
from concerned family members, which could’ve easily ended up in resentful feelings, we were b”h able to disregard them. We try to remain positive, since we know that those remarks stem from supportive family members who want our benefit.
Michal Z.: It was a series of events, which led us to
nd wanted to protect her privacy.
there was no sudden illness or shock to our children.
with extended family until we would have further
face the reality that another one of our children, was
affected. Unlike the birth of a child with a disability, It was a slow decline in health, which ultimately led to many medical interventions, frequent hospitalizations,
further testing and the need for intrusive, yet vital shift
nursing in our home. Being that Chava is the oldest in
the clan, neither medical paraphernalia nor medical personnel in the home, was new to them. The one that took it really hard was Chava. She knew what Shimon
was going through. She had difficulty accepting that,
We chose not to share the news that this was a
genetic disorder, or any details about the disorder,
information on the genetic abnormality and available
testing. As of yet, since we still do not have a testable identifiable gene, we have, with the recommendation
of our rav, not shared this information with our family. In general though, we have a really supportive
network of family and friends. They are always
available to assist us both in the home and when needed, in the hospital.
Can you explain how the fact that your child’s diagnosis is hereditary, distinguishes it from other general disorders? Rechy S.: FD (Familial Dysautonomia) is a disorder
of the autonomic nervous system, which affects the
development and survival of certain nerve cells.
Doctors explain that what every human being takes
for granted, is either diminished or incomplete in
>>> Next page
SPARKS | 35
Pillars of Strength
these individuals. Symptoms are very distinct and include the following: A lack of tears, an inability to swallow fluids
commonly caused by misdirecting the fluids to the lungs, incessant reflux, low muscle tone, irregular blood pressure and heart rate, little or no sensation to temperature or pain.
Kaila O.: The disorder is typically diagnosed through an MRI of the brain, by noticing an underdeveloped cerebellum.
That specific brain part actually presents itself as a Molar
Tooth. In some cases, as with one of our children, the frontal part of the brain may also be affected. The malformation of the brain causes impairment in every aspect of development,
such as speech, fine motor, gross motor skills and eye
movements. Some individuals may also present abnormal eye movements, as well as an extra digit on their toe.
We purposely did not educate ourselves on all the
characteristics of Joubert’s Syndrome, since it differs greatly
among the individuals affected. We simply hope and daven to Hashem that our children will remain physically healthy and achieve their highest potential.
Michal Z.: All parents of children with developmental
disabilities or chronic illness go through a series of emotions and stages in the process of acceptance of their child’s
disability. When a child is affected with a hereditary illness, it is exaggerated and exacerbated by the fact that they have to deal with the more complicated ramifications. They struggle
with what this may mean to their immediate family, extended family, future children, shidduchim and future generations as
well as the stigma of genetic illness.
In addition, the guilt that accompanies the diagnosis
of a genetic illness is a burden many parents in these shoes carry unnecessarily. Parents may feel that that their child’s suffering is their ‘fault’, due to their defective gene. I couldn’t
sleep for months after Shimon was diagnosed, feeling guilty
that I had not pursued the genetic testing for Chava. Perhaps if I would have, I would not have had another child that would be subjected to lifelong suffering.
At this point, I know that this is a faulty line of thinking.
Today, I understand that what happened is Hashem’s Will and
not about what I chose or didn’t choose, and nothing in my power
36 | SPARKS
could’ve prevented this. This is the way it was meant to be.
How do you deal with the general ‘stigma’ of genetic disorders? Does it affect you? Rechy S.: Frankly, I never had an issue with any
yet regardless of where they were coming from, or
and believed that if it comes directly from Hashem,
realize that so many of us were affected by the same
stigma. It all depends on the perspective of how one
perceives their own unique Nisayon. I always knew
who loves us unconditionally and knows what’s best for us, then there’s nothing to be embarrassed with. Living with this understanding, enabled me
to overcome any uncomfortable situations that I confronted.
In the course of my many hospital visits, I became
acquainted with mothers of children suffering from
the same or similar disorders. I met different type of women from all across the spectrum of yiddishkeit,
Kaila O.: As a child, there was little influence of peer
their social status in their own circles, they were all dealing with the same challenge. This made me disorders, and though we had our differences we had so much in common. I was also was surprised
to realized how many people were unfortunately affected by genetic disorders. I personally never felt stigmatized or labeled.
(Quite frankly, I never expected people NOT to
stare when they passed my children in the street. I
know in all honesty, that I too would’ve stared at a site like we presented.)
The only incident when I recall experiencing the
pressure in our family dynamics. My mother instilled
“Stigma” was before my third special needs child
about how others would perceive something I would
remarks that would undoubtedly follow. It was a
in us the concept of constantly questioning “Ver Iz
Yener?”. In a scenario when I would be concerned do, she would challenge me by saying “ver is der
yener?” because in reality, to the next-door neighbor I may sometimes be that ‘yener’. Therefore, with this
kind of solid foundation of self-confidence, it was easy for me to deal with the stigma.
was born. I didn’t feel ready to share it with my family, since I wasn’t ready to deal with the pity and stressful game to play after the baby was born, and
it was a great relief for us to know that our families
were slowly learning the truth. It was then that I
realized that a stigma could actually be a heavier burden than the situation itself.
Michal Z.: My first reaction when my Shimon was
much as many families with more noticeable genetic
marry any of my children?”
friends, since the stigma is still prevalent in our
diagnosed was “What will people say? How will people judge my family and me? Who will want to I am lucky and grateful that my children’s illness is
not visible or noticeable to the average person. They appear as typically developing children and have no
obvious disability. This turns out to be a real bracha,
for us. I don’t have to put up with public opinion as
disorders have to. Nevertheless, I do take great pains to hide the details from family and even close community. I have found that we have come a LONG
way. There’s more awareness out there. People are less judgmental and are unfortunately exposed
more frequently to the growing number of affected children in our community.
SPARKS | 37
Pillars of Strength
How do you deal with your anxiety about the future? Rechy S.*: Back then, in the early days after my children’s
diagnosis, I made a very simple calculation to which I stand by strongly. I wasn’t naï�ve or oblivious to my situation, and I clearly understood that later in life the situation will certainly
become more difficult and demanding. I also acknowledged
the fact that although shidduchim will undoubtedly be an issue, (though pre-marital testing thru dor yeshurim can instantly clear all doubts, in regards to hereditary concerns),
I made it my priority not to allow my children’s childhood to become a whirlwind of worry, fear and dread. I had enough on my plate as it was and firmly decided to deal with my
situation on a day- by-day basis. There was no reason, I figured, I should take my precious 20 years of child rearing
and destroy them with worries and fears over the future. I chose to play by the present.
Furthermore, I sometimes see so-called ‘perfect’ families,
who have a difficult time dealing with unexpected challenges. They do not know how to impart important coping skills and
positive attitudes to their children. Then we often witness how history repeats itself and the unhealthy mindset unfortunately gets passed down to the next generation.
I always wonder. Is there a dor yeshurim test to guarantee
us, prior to the marriage of our so-called healthy children, that they will find a life-partner who will have the tools to
accept and deal with life the way Hashem wills it? Are we secure in knowing that they will raise their children in a home
infused with simcha and a positive atmosphere, regardless
of what life will offer? We need loads of siyata dishmaya to find our children zivugim with whom they will remain solid
and strong in their Emunah, just as much as we need siyata dishmaya to find them a physically healthy partner.
Kaila O.: We all believe that Hashem only challenges us with nisayonos we can handle. Why then, do we witness
people falling apart after being confronted with a test
from Above? My theory is that in those cases these people
38 | SPARKS
utilized the strength that Hashem granted them
palpable to us, helps me avoid thoughts of worry.
I could not afford to waste precious kochos on
is a great source of comfort to us. Simultaneously,
to worry and agonize over the future instead of harnessing it for the present. I understood that
agonizing over what tomorrow will bring. My
grandfather, with his pure Bitachon in Hashem,
would always repeat, “A Yid is obligated tzi
farzurgen, but zurgen is a chasuren in Emunah”. In addition, reflecting on previous times when
Hashem’s infinite kindness was so clear and
Michal Z.: It would be dishonest to say that I don’t
I won’t deny that it is difficult, but practicing and
believing that Moshiach can show up at any moment,
we try to enjoy our children in the form Hashem presented them to us and choose to dwell on the gradual growth and achievements.
We have no
doubt that Hashem is the best care-taker for our children, and He will definitely carry them through each difficult stage in their lives.
myself over and over again that HK”BH is Hakol
worry and obsess over the future. I take one day at
Yachol. He can heal my children, find a gene, help my
Hashem is guiding my path, and I have to remind
a time, sometimes one moment at a time. However,
as maaminim b’nei maaminim I need to realize that
children do good shidduchim, help me have healthy children and grandchildren and grant me all that I
What message can you convey to other parents and family members in your position? Rechy S.: In the physical realm, remember to take
care of yourself and don’t neglect your needs. If you
improvement and change.
P.S. Baruch Hashem, I’m part of a network of
will overextend yourself without balancing it with a
women who support those in similar situations,
you want the best for your family, make sure to get
each other in regards to the tests and trials that
little “me” time, it may lead to burnout. Don’t forget
that you have other children to tend to as well. So if plenty of food and sleep, as well as occasional leisure outings to release stress.
We all believe Hashem is a rofei cholim; he creates
cures. What doctors are not aware of today, they might discover tomorrow. So hope for the best and
don’t stop davening; there is always a chance for
and all of us are committed to accepting our
circumstances b’ahava. We constantly support
come our way. We strongly ascribe to the belief that “the situation does not make the attitude, the attitude makes the situation”. Networking can
give you that much needed release for your tension or frustration, without the fear that you might be judged.
SPARKS | 39
Pillars of Strength
Kaila O.: Following the birth of my second child
with special needs, my household duties increased tremendously. Accepting assistance was still below my dignity, and I believed that if Hashem entrusted me with
this unique situation, I should be able to cope with it. I,
therefore, foolishly refused to accept any help and things
rapidly went out of control. I gradually realized that although Hashem gave us this situation, he nevertheless
allows us to alleviate our stress through wonderful shluchim. I came to the conclusion that by having a bikur
cholim volunteer fold the laundry, it enabled me to be a better mother to my children. Being able to bow your head and accept help is a giant leap in the right direction.
Try to create a positive and happy environment in
your home, by noticing the good within the hardship. If
your day is constantly infused with gratitude to Hashem – even for the minor things – your day will truly be easier.
Acknowledge the progress your child makes and share it enthusiastically with your children.
In the early stages, when I would chance upon a family
friend or neighbor, I would experience a stab of pain
while subconsciously comparing my disabled child with her lively, bouncing toddler. Though we are all human
beings with feelings and emotions, I did not like that tiny bit of envy worming its way in to my heart. I took
it at as my objective to transform the perspective I was
viewing things with. Instead of brooding about my own situation, I began thanking Hashem for granting my sister
a healthy child. The fact that Hashem gave her a healthy
child does not diminish nor does it add to my individual circumstances. Living with this mindset has given me peace and tranquility we all need.
Michal Z.: Network. Network. Network. The key is educating yourself, in order to help OTHERS understand
what you are dealing with. For those that have a child with an autosomal recessive disorder, that has an identifiable
gene, education is the key! What used to be “Keep away with a ten foot pole” for shidduchim, is today, with proper education and testing, a child that is no more at risk than your neighbor next door.
40 | SPARKS
For families that have x-linked disorders or
dominant disorders which are much harder to
deal with and require more complicated testing, I can only offer empathetic words of sympathy and
chizuk. I know the pain, I know the hardship, and I know the tears. I also know the strengths we are
given and the siyata dishmaya that accompanies our every step.
To those of us who know the anguish when we
hear bad news, and the anxiety when weâ€™re awaiting
the birth of another child, only we experience the joy, the appreciation and gratefulness, when a healthy child is born. We know the indescribable
elation when a shidduch is finally concluded.
It is only with an understanding and helpful
support system, that we can navigate these waters.
Find a friend thatâ€™s going through a similar situation.
Ask your doctor to help you network with families
with a similar diagnosis; seek support through your ob/gyn or through organizations specifically geared to genetic illnesses.
I can honestly say, our network is a unique group
of families that have weathered a lot more challenges than words can express. However, we have emerged with a deeper understanding, acceptance and appreciation of life.
*Names have been changed to protect identity. However, should anyone like to contact any of our interviewees for further information or guidance, they can do so by reaching out to the Rayim office.
Sparks Magazine Encourages submissions of artwork and comments of your child, for future publications.
SPARKS | 41
By: Draizy Lemberger
42 | SPARKS
Dearest Next Door Neighbor, The day I was born was one of joy intermingled with fear. I was the first girl after a team of boys, and my mother was delighted. She cradled her new little daughter with heaps of love. Yet, the hours and days were shadowed by worries and fear plaguing her mind incessantly. You see, my mom claims I was born with a lack of oxygen that deprived my fragile brain of this most crucial element. The doctor flatly denied my mother’s accusations and told her to enjoy her newborn baby girl. So, she focused on the future, the unknown, and the big question marks without answers. Much to my parents’ surprise, I reached my early milestones at a rather normal pace. However, when my preschool teacher recommended that they have me evaluated, it jolted them out of their complacency. The evaluation confirmed their early suspicions, and in an attempt to give me a chance to thrive, my parents immediately enrolled me in a special education program. As the years passed, the widening gap between my peers and me became increasingly noticeable. Although my physical capabilities appeared fine, my cognitive levels were severely delayed. My inability to communicate properly made it extremely difficult for me to carry conversation. Grasping simple social cues proved elusive and severely diminished my chances of social survival. My siblings considered me “special”, while neighbors down the block would label me ‘slow’ or ‘crazy’. I always resented being called that way and became exceptionally sensitive to being labeled 'mentally retarded'. I knew I was different, but I didn’t understand why others felt they had a right to degrade me in such a cruel manner. True, my siblings loved me, but they were too young to stick up for me when I was the target of taunts and mockery. It was a gradual and painful process, as my parents came to grips with their grim reality. They went above and beyond what was humanly possible to ensure that all my needs were met and to guarantee that I would lead an independent and fulfilling life. Today, when you see me walking down the street composed and neatly dressed, that too is the result of the tremendous effort invested in me by my devoted parents. I will forever be grateful to them.
Dear neighbor. I would like to make you aware of some things that might hurt my feelings, since I believe these are things you might otherwise never know. When you asked me last week which grade I am in, it insulted me terribly. I am 26 years old and have not been attending school for quite a while now. I hold a real desk job where I file documents, shred papers and do other secretarial work. When I am associated with other school aged young girls, it makes me feel looked down and disrespected. Similarly, when I recently met my cousin at a family gathering, I blushed red with humiliation. “Oh, Yaffa! You became sooo big!” She made me feel as ‘big’ as my 7 year old niece, who was there with me. Complimenting a 26 year old woman does not require that much wisdom. Why then was her comment so insensitive? Try to understand that I was trained to communicate in a way that enables me to converse in a pleasant and proper manner. Furthermore, when I participate in a discussion, it is difficult for me to differentiate between what is appropriate for children and what’s right for adults, since I follow the specific method I was taught. Therefore, I sometimes find myself bewildered and befuddled, when I get a chuckle as a response to an innocent question I ask my little niece. For example, when she tells me about her day at school, I would ask her innocently “did they cover social skills too?” Perhaps I might have posed a question that was too difficult for someone her age. Such incidences cause me tremendous discomfort. Additionally, be considerate with me when you teach me something new; I need to learn it on my own pace. If teaching an ordinary person requires time and patience, how much more so could that be said for me. Remember that although it might seem to you that I don’t seem to understand or grasp the concept, it is usually worthwhile to invest in me the time and patience to teach me. I desperately want to feel part of “regular” society! At times when you try to be exceptionally nice and kind to me, it turns out to be just the opposite of what I feel comfortable with. Giving me an overdramatized abundance of attention, especially in the presence of children, makes me feel like I too am a little child. I am truly grateful when you are kind and take the time to schmooze with me, but I would be even more grateful if you would keep it simple. Treating me like your other friends will offer me that much desired feeling that I am like everyone else. And by the way, I can sometimes find myself in a bad mood just as it may happen to you! I am a normal human being with the same range of feelings and emotions as everyone else. So, if you see me behaving awkwardly or out of range, you can just chalk it up to a bad-hair-day. So dearest neighbor, when you pass me on the street next time, take a moment to think. Consider my feelings and emotions before you say ‘Hi’ and try treating me with the sensitivity we all deserve. By notifying you of the things you may not have been aware of, I hope you will understand my need for “equality”. I thank you in advance and I appreciate your understanding from the bottom of my heart.
I t u b t, n re fe if d as w I w e kn I didn’t understand why othersrade felt they had a right to deg me in such a cruel manner.
SPARKS | 43
Kiryas Joel Division Celebrating our own wedding!
Baking our own delicious rugelech
“The Rayim Music Band”
Flying with Rayim at the airport
Savory Summer 'Slice' 44 | SPARKS
Our artwork of the day
Shopping down the aisle in the grocery
Gaining Knowledge at Our visit to the library
We are buying something 'Fishy'...
Joining the firefighter team!
Scooping out sweet memories
Creating our own fish pond
Our future mailmen
SPARKS | 45
Monsey Division Chocolatey licks! Say "Cheese"!
Its all the secret ingredients...
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
Engulfed in color
Sweetness in the air
Itâ€™s a Time for music once again! 46 | SPARKS
Proving our fingerprints
Celebrating the Rayim wedding Yossi, a 6 year old with developmental delay, told his teacher one morning that he needs an apple for breakfast. “I‛m going on an apple diet – like my mommy does”…
...We all scream for ice cream
Esther, a 4 year old girl with CP, got new braces to assist her with walking. When she refused to put on her braces one morning, she pointed to her tights and said “Look! It doesn‛t even match to my tights.”
Yehuda, Y ehu uda a, a 5 ye yea year ar ar old d bo boy boy, y, ref refused fus use ed tto o putt on hiss h pu hearing earing ng a aids ids one on shabbos shab ab bbos bo si since ince nc itt w was as generally gene ne erally y uncomfortable uncomf un fortable e forr him. him hi m. He He found found da good excuse go e xcuse sh xc shortly y after, afte te er, “Mommy “Mo ommy I ca cant put put it it on! Its Its muktzah!” mukt ktz zah! h!”
SPARKS | 47
From Rayim’s Bulletin Board Weekend Retreat of 2011
“A Shabbos with Flying Colors” ual Weekend Retreat The significance, of Rayim’s Fourth Ann foot into the Crowne was noted as soon as the invitees stepped icipants were shown Plaza in Fairfield, New Jersey. The part packages and reading to their respective rooms, where care ased Sparks magazine, material, including Rayim’s newly rele a scrumptious Erev welcomed them. The tables were set with nning of an amazing Shabbos טועמיהarray, which was the begi t bentching (candle lighting) culinary experience awaiting them. Lech bos Kodesh was welcomed in the most was an amazing scene to behold, as Shab heartfelt manner. guests in elevated spirits throughout Notable and prominent speakers kept the by magician David Blatt, and flower the Shabbos. Exciting entertainment, activities that provided the ultimate decorating workshops were among the Meleva Malka. Surrounded by elegance backdrop to the lavish Motzei Shabbos ns and centerpieces, the guests were and beautifully coordinated floral decoratio ronment of the retreat. free to enjoy the serenity and peaceful envi to Rayim’s recent expansion in The significantly larger crowd, thanks staff members involved. Nevertheless, Brooklyn, posed a greater challenge to all ing event in all aspects, guaranteed a Rayim’s mission, to assure an outstand Shabbos that passed with flying colors!
nd County la k c o R f o e by ise referred to hool Respit
erw in Monsey, oth am gr ality. ro p l oo h sc a dream to a re om fr d Rayim’s afterve ol nally ev ids and p Rayim, has fi onses, of the k sp re c ti as the kids as Cam si u e enth tinuously tion in June, th mission is con im ay R Since its incep e th at e th cial situation clearly indicat difficult finan al parent alike, er n ge e th did ed. Although grams, Rayim ro p ew n ve being actualiz ro to app needed rly impossible ide this much v ro p to makes it nea le ab be dren. locate funds to school age chil g n manage to al u yo of ts s spite for paren uchter, assure , Mrs. Ch. R. Fr support and re or at in d or le co ed program exciting schedu Our experienc ectations. The p ex ’s ne yo er ing them m exceeds ev skills by provid or ot m that the progra s os gr and itment, warm children’s fine t of our comm ar p stimulates the s A . es ti rvi provided afte d focused acti ortation are sp with diverse an an tr or do ell as door-tohool-breaks. lunches as w s, and during sc ay lid ho l ga le s, school, Sunday
48 | SPARKS
By: Jacob Friedman
Expansion to Brooklyn As part of our ongoing commitment to providing assistance and support
to individuals and parents of children with developmental disabilities, we
are thrilled to report that our expansion into the NYC area has been executed successfully. Rayim currently offers our Brooklyn consumers a wide variety
of services, including Community Hab, Medicaid Service coordination and Day Habilitation. Rayim has identified a suitable location for an
Brooklyn and hope that we will be able to announce the grand opening of our office very soon.
We continue to strive to provide services in a personal
and helpful manner, and we are grateful that our Brooklyn clients can now, too, enjoy Rayim’s individualized services.
The Cruise Event Experience in Tranquility
Enveloped in a placid environment, Rayim’s Mother’s Event which took place
on the waters of the Hudson River, guaranteed its participants an evening of
joy, inspiration and achdus. The mothers were treated to a 5-hour cruise on the Hudson River, starting with light refreshments and followed by an inspirational
program. Participants were addressed by an eloquent speaker on the topic of
overcoming obstacles with Simchah. It corresponded appropriately with the meaning of the day, חמשה עשר באב.
A lavish dinner was served, while overlooking an awe-inspiring sunset scene,
in the shadow of the NYC skylines. The evening drew to a close with singing and
dancing, on the deck of the cruise liner, accompanied by famous singers. Communication and networking between parents of children with disabilities is always beneficial, but it surely has a special meaning when it is initiated and enjoyed in a relaxing and tranquil atmosphere.
The event was undoubtedly another
addition to Rayim’s popular division of ‘Experience in Tranquility’.
SPARKS | 49
e i d Kid ks r a p S
Tease your brain!... Down
1. Duplicate 2. Carbon 3. Type of cat 4. Imitate
2 3 4
1. To stop 2. To be in debt to 3. A green vegetable 4. Clever
When she closed her account she had a total of $390.00. How much did she invest?
car in Philadelphia starts toward 1. ANYC at 40 miles an hour. Fifteen minutes later a car in NYC starts toward Philadelphia – 90 miles away – at 55 miles an hour. Which car is nearest Philadelphia when they meet? has 3 younger siblings, April, 2. Adam June and July. Which sibling is the oldest? Friedman invested her money 3. Mrs. in stocks. For every $1.50 she
many three-cent stamps are 4. How there in four dozen? sum of a two-digit number is 9. 5. The When the digits are interchanged, the number is decreased by 45. What is the number? 100 students surveyed, 28 had 6. Of neither a dog nor a cat, 18 had
invested, she got back $7.80.
both a dog and a cat, and 32 had a dog but not a cat. How many students had cats?
50 | SPARKS
6. 40 students had cats. (28+32=60 didn’t have cats. 100-60=40 have cats)
5. 72 (72–27=45)
4. Four dozen is four dozen regardless of the value of the stamps.
3. $75.00 (390÷7.8 = shares. 50x 1.50=$75.)
1. When they meet they are the same distance from Philadelphia.
Chanukah Napoleons It was Napoleon Bonaparte’s favorite treat, and since then, it has been many others’ as well. Those thin layers of dough with that heavenly cream in between ranked highest in the French emperor’s list of pastries, and therefore earned its name: napoleon. There are many legends (surrounding) Napoleon and his famous napoleons. Some say it originated at a banquet in Denmark held for Napoleon, where it was served as a dessert with chocolate drizzled on top in the shape of an ‘N’. Others say that one night, Napoleon consumed too many napoleons, which had him in bed with a sick stomach the next day, and led to his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Whatever its' history, there’s one fact no one will deny: napoleons are just YUM!
You will need: • Precut pastry dough squares (as needed) • Custard • Confection sugar • Chocolate syrup (optional) • Cookie sheet • Baking paper • Cookie cutters (dreidel shape lekovod Chanukah, or any other shape you like)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using your cookie
cutter, cut your pastry squares into dreidels or the shape of your choice. Then lay each dreidel on a lined cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. To assemble, smear one dreidel puff with a heaping tablespoon of custard, and place another dreidel on top, creating a sandwich. (For stack of three, put custard on top of the sandwich cover with another dreidel.) Repeat with the rest of the dreidels as needed. Once assembled, sprinkle confection sugar, and your napoleons are done!
Here’s a quick and easy way to create them on your own, plus a cute, original twist.
If snow is made from water and water has no calories, how come snowmen are fat?
You can leave a normally perfect life if you accept the fact that your life will never be perfectly normal
Optional: Drizzle chocolate syrup over it-don’t forget the ‘N’(or any other appropriate alphabet)!
Tip: Present napoleons on small size individual plates. For that special effect, tie a thin ribbon around it into a bow!
A Freilichen Chanukah! Winter/2012
SPARKS | 51
SPARKS M AGA Z I N E
It is cold and dark. The fire is out. Its power to light and warm has been extinguished. There seems to be no hope. But wait! There is one tiny spark among the dying embers that still flickers with life. It has the potential to reignite into huge and glorious flames that will radiate warmth and light. Sparks, the power of rebirth, of bringing to life new hope and joy.