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Thanksgiving food collection in Woodmere Page 2 Cheating for our children Page 4 “I survived the Occupy protesters” Page 5 Carlebach impact on Jewish music Page 10



VOL 10, NO 44 ■ NOVEMBER 18, 2011 / 21 CHESHVAN, 5772


Woodmere shul hosts Shoah researcher priest By Malka Eisenberg Close to two million Jews were shot and thrown into mass unmarked graves in Eastern Europe by the Einsatzgruppen, Nazi mobile killing units, in less than three years during the Second World War. Few survived to tell the tale. A French Catholic priest, in a story worthy of a forensic detective thriller, is returning to the killing fields in a successful bid to find, record and memorialize the sites, restoring names and faces to the countless dead. Last Shabbat, Father Patrick Desbois spoke at Young Israel of Woodmere about his work. “Humanity begins with burying the dead,” said Desbois. One of his cases, in Aug. 2006, Desbois and his team exhumed graves in the Ukraine; the Jewish community had been in existence in that area for 500 years. The pit held 1,700 skeletons. Ballistics experts found hundreds of German cartridges; the skulls had either one bullet hole in the head or no bullet holes in the head indicating that they were buried alive and suffocated. He noted that the digs stopped at the first layer of skeletons “due to Jewish religious constraints.” The mass grave is now marked by a large black Star of David on a white background— the only memorial in the Ukraine. Desbois pointed out that the interviews that he and his staff conducts with the elderly locals are probably the first and last time they are telling what they witnessed. A rabbi is on his Continued on page 3

Photo by Sergey Kadinsky

Rabbi Yeshaya Siff of Young israel of Manhattan celebrates the 100th year of the Young Israel movement alongside Dr. Joseph Frager, Dr. Paul Brody and Drora Brody. The trio were honored for their pro-Israel advocacy at the dinner.

Young Israel marks centennial: An American Orthodoxy By Sergey Kadinsky A reunion of history took place on Sunday, with a long roster of honorees that highlighted the century-old history of the Young Israel movement. Current leaders feasted alongside children and grandchildren of past Young Israel presidents, speaking on the movement’s role in preserving Orthodox Judaism in America and secur-

ing its connection with Israel. The dinner, held at Terrace on the Park in Queens, attracted a capacity crowd that stated with speeches and concluded with dancing, as Young Israel dispatched its 201st sefer Torah donation to the Israel Defense Forces. Rabbi Yeshaya Siff of Young Israel of Manhattan handed the Torah to “Orthodoxy once meant many things,” said Rabbi Meir Bilitzky, senior rabbi of

Young Israel of New Hyde Park, speaking of a time when shuls without mechitzas called themselves Orthodox. “Young Israel set a line that defined Orthodoxy.” A century ago, a typical Orthodox synagogue offered little attraction for the younger generation of immigrants, who were more likely to assimilate or follow the nascent Reform and Conservative

Shabbat Candlelighting: 4:17 p.m. Shabbat ends 5:18 p.m. 72 minute zman 5:47 p.m. Torah Reading Parshat Chayei Sara Thanksgiving is on Nov. 24

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Early Thanksgiving food collection by Woodmere shul By Ann E. Friedman “It’s Thanksgiving every week,” said Rabbi Hershel Billet of the Young Israel of Woodmere as he described how every Thursday night, congregants gather for the Tomchai Shabbos program to pack food and deliver it to needy families who would not otherwise have the necessary items for a Shabbos dinner. Averim Stavsky, a Woodmere resident, said the Tomchai Shabbos program, which provides food to the needy for the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays, is a fairly charity across the world. “Most large Jewish communities have this program,” he said. Over 22 years ago, according to Stavsky, Moshe and Jeanette Lamm of Far Rockaway spearheaded the Tomchai Shabbos Yad Yeshaya program that now services almost 200 families. From the onset, Stavsky and a large number of volunteers from the Young Israel of Woodmere, provided food packages and a team of drivers for the Far Rockaway program that now currently operates out of the Torah Academy for Girls, also in Far Rockaway. With the economic downturn, the Young Israel of Woodmere received more requests for people who needed this program in the Five Towns so they decided to operate out of their own synagogue while still sharing information and resources with Yad Yeshaya. Currently, the Hershel Senders Young Israel of Woodmere Tomchai Shabbos program, provides 35 families in the Five Towns, Lynbrook, Valley Stream, Oceanside and Hewlett with Shabbos meal items which include a chicken, fruits, vegetables, fish, soup, challah bread, cake and wine or grape juice. Food is either donated by kosher caterers and bakeries, purchased or picked up from food pantries each week. “I’m happy that in America there is a day designated to giving thanks,” Rabbi Billet said. “But in the Jewish religion it’s important to appreciate what you have and say ‘thank you’ to God everyday.” Stavsky originally got involved with the Tomchai Shabbos program because of the responsibility he feels towards his community. “We are all busy with work and other obligations, while writing a check is important to charities, I know that the hands on efforts every Thursday for me and all the volunteers is incredibly rewarding,” he said. Jeanette Lamm said everyone should to celebrate Shabbos with the necessities and it’s a terrible tragedy when that doesn’t happen. “There are some people in our community who don’t have food for a Shabbos meal and that’s a pity,” she said. “Everybody should have a Shabbos meal with everything it entails.” To make a donation to the Tomchai Shabbos program, send checks to Jeanette Lamm, 634 Oak Drive, Far Rockaway, NY 11691.


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November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR



Continued from page 1 streams of observance. In response, Young Israel offered aliyas to all members, regardless of donation amount, had younger men lead the services, and delivered sermons in English rather than Yiddish. At the same time, synagogue officers were required to live an Orthodox lifestyle, and all shuls had mechitzas separating men from women. “Conventional wisdom at the time dictated that shuls with mechitzas would vanish in the face of modern Judaism,” said National President Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, ESQ.. “Nevertheless, we now have 140 branches in the United States.” As testament to its ability to retain members, Hillcrest resident Mel Wadler spoke of his bar mitzvah, wedding, and shul president position within Young Israel. “That’s how generations go. You can be a good citizen and a Torah-true Jew.” Sitting next to Woodmere resident D. Bernard Hoenig, Wadler spoke of how their Young Israel upbringing led them to become advocates for Israel, establishing American Friends of Ateret Cohanim. Hoenig’s father Moses served as a president of National Council of Young Israel. “If not for Young Israel, we wouldn’t have Orthodoxy as it is today,” Hoenig said. Another pair of Young Israel activists, Dr. Joseph Frager of Jamaica Estates and Dr. Paul Brody of Great Neck, were given the Defender of Jerusalem award for their work over the past year in bringing American media personalities to Israel, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, commentator Glenn Beck, and actor Jon Voight. Alongside mainstream destinations such as Yad Vashem and the Kotel, they also toured Ateret Cohamin projects in eastern Jerusalem and near-

Photo by Sergey Kadinsky

West Hempstead sisters Chana and Leah Goldenberg were awarded the Youth Services Award at the centennial dinner. by settlement communities, and addressed the Knesset. Dr. Frager is the long-time organizer And Dr. Brody and his wife Drora, also a recipient of the Defender of Jerusalem award, serve as chairpersons of the Annual Israel Day Concert in Manhattan’s Central Park, which is under the auspices of the National Council of Young Israel. Dubbed by the organizers as the “concert with a message,” it attracts over 20,000 spectators and supporters. This year, they secured Republican presidential contender Herman Cain, who spoke on strengthening Washington’s relationship with Israel.

“The main theme is to keep Jerusalem united, never to be divided again,” Brody said. Raised in the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Brody’s bar mitzvah and wedding were both officiated by Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, who has stood behind the pulpit for 61 years and was one of the rabbinic leaders honored at the dinner. Brody added that his wife also comes from an activist background of helping fellow Jews. “Her mother’s parents lived in Yemen, where they literally saved Jewish children from conversion to Islam, and dressed men as women, smuggling them into Palestine in the pre-Magic Carpet years.”

Frager grew up in Philadelphia, where his father served as synagogue president. He credits the presence of media personalities in Israel with changing the discussion on “landfor-peace” and strengthening the Republican Party’s support for Israel. “Mike Huckabee was probably the most prominent visitor to these places, providing a new way of looking at the Yesha enterprise as trailblazers and pioneers of the nation.” Other examples of Young Israel’s strong connection with Israel is that synagogue assets belong to the national organization, so that if a synagogue closes, they are redistributed to communities in Israel. If a Young Israel synagogue attempts to leave Orthodoxy, the building and its assets would remain as the property of Young Israel. Mostofsky defended the National Council against liberal critics. “They want to water down Torah-true Judaism,” he said. Mostofsky, a fourth generation Young Israel member, added that the movement was not “sliding to the right” as some suggest, but consistent in its values, having promoted taharas hamishpacha, day schools, and shatnes testing, among other items, since its inception. A similar example of Young Israel policies can be found in West Hempstead, where Rabbi Meyer Fendel founded the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. With the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch as the school’s guiding document, it was able to avoid initial attempts at a Conservative takeover of the school. Rabbi Schonfeld added that while Young Israel members have an American appearance, they adhere to the same basic guidelines as more visibly Orthodox congregations. “There’s no such thing as Modern Orthodox. There’s Orthodox and non-Orthodox.”

HANC program teaches Torah to disabled youths By Brigitte Fixler Sunday mornings at the HANC West Hempstead campus are busy with Torah learning, but the students are not the typical yeshiva audience. Each of the children has a developmental disability. So while their siblings are at home spending the weekend, these students receive an experience resembling a typical classroom. “We want to involve [each] child in the experience of being in a yeshiva just like their siblings,” said Annalee Ickowics, director of the Gottesman Learning Center. Comprised of the Berkson Family Special Education Program, the Baruch and Sarah Heller Chavrusa Program, and the Pearl Greene Sunday Morning Smile Program, the classes meet every week for two hours, teaching parsha, davening and other Jewish subjects to children from Long Island and Queens who cannot attend a regular yeshiva due to their special needs. Rabbi Dr. Moshe Gottesman, namesake of the center, said that it fits with HANC’s motto of “chanoch l’naar al pi darcho” (Teach a child according to his way). The program serves children across the autism spectrum, as well as those with Down’s syndrome and other developmental disabilities. “About 19 years ago, a group of mothers came to me when I was dean of HANC,” said Rabbi Gottesman. “They said that their children are in public school and don’t have a feeling

of yiddishkeit, other than what they get at home- can we start a program for them?” Despite a lack of funds at the beginningmothers initially had to collect and redeem soda bottles in order to pay for a teacher- the program got off the ground, and has since touched the lives of countless students, parents and volunteers. “Annalee taught my son for his bar mitzvah. He said his haftarah in front of the whole shul, and did an amazing job,” said Drew Rosenfeld, whose son Tzvi, has participated in the Gottesman Learning Center for 8 years. “Our shul never saw anything like it. Rabbi Gottesman said that small classes with one-on-one attention are the program’s hallmark. By focusing on each child’s unique strengths, the team of teachers and volunteers has helped all of the children to develop their own abilities. “She knows all of her brachot,” said West Hempstead resident Barry Schneps of his daughter, Fraida, who has been attending the program for the past 9 years. “They make the most unbelievable projects every week. It’s incredible to watch. Rabbi Gottesman gets a lot of zechus for what he has done.” Beyond the classroom, some graduates continue to impress with personal and profesisonal accomplishments. “[There is one] child who used to go to this program who is now married and has a degree in accounting,” said Rabbi Gottesman. “We were all invited to the wedding.”

Photo by Brigitte Fixler

The Berkson Family Special Educaiton Program at HANC meets every Sunday, teaching Torah topics to families with developmentally disabled children. This past week, in honor of Parshat Vayera, the children built tents like Avraham and baked challah like Sarah. Avraham was known for his love of hachnasat orchim, of inviting in guests, and the children learned all about this important mitzvah. “We try to relate parsha to real life, make things more concrete, and bring it close to them,” said Ickowics. Through the fun and safe environment provided by the Gottesman Learning Center, the children were able to soak up in just two

hours what their peers spent days learning about in school. “The day flies,” remarked Yonatan-Moshiach Besanelov, a teenage boy who attends the program. Ickowics nodded, adding that the satisfaction gained in the classes is a fitting start to their week. “Children come here with a smile on their face, and leave with a smile that’s even bigger,” she said. To find out more information about the Gottesman Learning Center, contact Mrs. Annalee Ickowics at 516-486-0918

THE JEWISH STAR November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772

Young Israel celebrates its first century

November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR


Editorial Cheating for our children


hen the SAT test cheating scandal arose at Great neck North High School, many of our readers wondered aloud whether the specter of dishonesty was present within the student body of our local day schools. After all, it is no secret that day schools are facing the same challenges as public schools when it comes to confronting bullying, at-risk behavior, abusive behavior by staff and students and — it was revealed last week — standardized test cheating. According to Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, her investigation has spread to five local schools, three of them private, with 31 students accused of hiring impersonators to ace the college entrance exams. Could it be the fiercely competitive nature of the exams, or is it there a deeper problem? Recently an Orthodox student at Touro College was caught texting during a lecture. When his teacher asked why the young man was throwing away his tuition money, the student glibly replied, “That’s fine. My father is paying the tuition, not me.” With the semester ending in five weeks, it is difficult to imagine how this student will pass his final exam. Maybe he believes that the BS”D af-

fixed to the top of all of his homework assignments will see him through. Considering the $1,500 to $2,000 price that Sam Eshaghoff allegedly charged the cheaters for taking their exams, there is a strong likelihood that the parents were paying the bill. As parents, we want our children to succeed in their lives. But do we want it so badly that we would aid and abet in their cheating? And once they do reach their next step, will we bail them out again? Every small example provides a valuable lesson. When a child turns 14, would we lie to the amusement park operator that the child is 13, simply to benefit from a lower admission fee? That child will not be 13 forever. The same goes for tax fraud. Once the parent is caught, the child will become the class pariah, and from there, it is a quick slide into at-risk behavior.

Would we lie to the amusement park operator that the child is 13, simply to benefit from a lower admission fee?


s our columnist Rabbi Avi Billet writes, “We can steamroll as many of the obstacles facing our children as we like. But we have to remember that the more we steamroll, the more the ground they then walk upon cannot be used for growth until it is retilled and replanted.” Do we feel entitled to pass the gate by virtue of trickery, or because we have earned the honor?


The Bergsons of today


ore than a half century ago, a Jew from Palestine landed on these shores, warning of the holocaust and finding his efforts rebuffed by mainstream Jewish organizations. Hillel Kook, known by the pseudonym Peter Bergson, was not deterred by the official snub. Raising public awareness through full-page newspaper ads, Kook defied the mainstream press, bringing the mass murders to public attention. In his efforts, Kook brought in Harry Truman, Herbert Hoover, Will Rogers, Jr., Harold Ickes and other mainstream figures, in the effort to rescue the European Jews. In our generation, we have witnessed the false optimism of the Oslo Accords, which provided the Palestinian Authority with political legitimacy, although it was led by Yasser Arafat and bolstered by an armed security force. “Don’t give them guns,” was the cry of opponents, drowned out by mainstream Jewish organizations, the Israeli leadership, and the U.S. government. A determined few stood up, using their financial resources to mount an uphill public awareness campaign. Within our local community, the Bergsonites of today are Dr. Joseph Frager, and the Great Neck couple Dr. Paul and Drora Brody. What began as an effort to fund a pro-Israel concert in Central Park, and develop the Ateret Cohanim properties in eastern Jerusalem, has turned into a sophisticated political operation.


Independent and original reporting from the Orthodox communities of Long Island and New York City All opinions expressed are solely those of The Jewish Star’s editorial staff or contributing writers Assistant Editor Account Executives Contributors

Editorial Designer Photo Editor

Sergey Kadinsky Helene Parsons Rabbi Avi Billet Jeff Dunetz Malka Eisenberg Rabbi Binny Freedman Brigitte Fixler Alan Jay Gerber Rabbi Noam Himelstein Yisroel Juskowitz Zechariah Mehler Aviva Rizel Ariel Rosenbloom Alyson Goodman Christina Daly

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Under the leadership of this doctor duo, mainstream political figures from both parties have spoken at the concert and visited the Jewish residents of eastern Jerusalem. Over the past year, they met with presidential hopefuls Herman Cain and Rick Perry, pressing the flesh, and sharing their concerns for Israel. Their annual Concert in the Park is the modern echo of Ben Hecht, whose 1943 pageant, We Will Never Die, attracted top Hollywood talent and an audience of 100,000. Through the efforts of Ateret Cohanim, Fox News’s Mike Huckabee, actor Jon Voight and commentator Glenn Beck visited eastern Jerusalem, which will undoubtedly leave an impact on public opinion.


his past week, the national Council of Young Israel honored Frager and the Brodys for their work in defending Jerusalem. Like their honorees, Young Israel is also known for its struggle against the flow. In 1912, it faced hostility from Reformists, who argued that Orthodoxy was doomed in America. It also faced hostility from the Orthodox mainstream of its time, arguing that the English sermons, reliance on young leaders, and support for Zionism were a betrayal of traditional values. Success takes time to accomplish. There is still plenty of work to do, but the Orthodox decline has been reversed. We hope that it is not too late to reverse the gains of the Palestinians.

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I Survived The Occupiers outside with Shabbos candles and kiddush. The other preparation for our visitors was to purchase a box of Milk Bones for the recently elected canine leader of Occupy Denver, a 3-year-old border collie named Shelby. Neither idea was to be implemented. At 2 p.m. there was a loud commotion outside the ballroom that housed our meeting. It was the Occupiers shouting, “We are the 99 percent!” It was the first and largest confrontation of three that would occur during the next 24 hours. Many of the bloggers, myself included, went out into the lobby to face them. Let’s face it, a key reason for the success of the Occupiers across the country is they are treated with undue respect by local politicians and the press, taking them seriously despite the fact thy have no coherent idea of what they are protesting. They are like unchallenged bullies who aren’t big on indoor plumbing. On the other hand, bloggers make a habit of taking on bullies, in the form of national news media, powerful politicians, or even world leaders. We also make habit of winning. As in most cases when bullies are confronted, the Occupiers didn’t have a chance. The protesters suddenly found themselves surrounded by a few dozen eager conservatives with cameras. Instead of allowing the Occupiers to provoke us into violence we met them with ridicule. The protesters were shocked; no one had ever mocked them before. We began to chant “Where’s the Dog?” referring to Shelby, and kept changing the

Photo by Jeff Dunetz

Occupy Denver protesters faced off against conservative bloggers at last week’s BlogCon in Denver. A humorous exchange ensued between the two sides. chant to things such as “Breitbart, “ “Pay your bills,” and “Spaghetti,” the Occupy Denver folks were stunned, one of their leaders even started laughing for a moment before he started accusing us of receiving money from the Koch Brothers (to pronounce their names correctly, we started waving cans of Coke at them, explaining that this was the only Koch involved in our convention. After fifteen minutes of the humorous exchange, the occupiers disengaged from the lobby. Amazingly if the Occupiers had really wanted to get into our discussion hall they would have scouted the hotel. Then they might have realized if they had tried to get in through the parking garage, they would have gotten in to the hotel on the second floor and could slip in without being seen. But it was too late, after the first break in the hotel planted people to guard every portal in

the building. A larger group showed up at 5 p.m. and an even larger one on Saturday afternoon, but thanks to the excellent work of the Denver Police Department and Crowne Plaza’s security team the protesters did not return. The Freedom Works sponsored BlogCon was supposed to be an opportunity to learn the latest tools available to conservative bloggers. I also had the opportunity to finally understand what the Occupy movement was really about---bullies, propped up by the mainstream media and Democratic Party politicians. Unfortunately for them, my group did not fall for their provocation. We confronted them with truth. Jeff Dunetz is the Editor/Publisher of the political blog “The Lid” ( Jeff lives on Long Island.

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landed in Denver this past Thursday thinking I was simply attending BlogCon, a conference of the top conservative bloggers in the country sponsored by Freedom Works, which is affiliated with the Tea Party movement. But the weekend turned out to be much more than POLITICO that because twice on TO GO Friday and once more on Saturday, the Occupy Denver crowd tried to break into our conference. The first hint that something might be brewing was Wednesday night when somebody forwarded me some tweets from the Occupy Denver participants that they planned to protest the meeting Jeff Dunetz on Friday after 4 p.m. At the time, Freedom Works was generating its own petition condemning anti-Semitism within the Occupy movement. By the time we gathered for our first session on Friday the call to protest had gone viral, we were expecting a sizable crowd, and Denver Police and hotel security were on alert. Some of the Jewish bloggers present had decided, that depending when they showed up, we would greet the Occupiers

THE JEWISH STAR November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772


November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR


Parshat Chayei Sara

Hebrew only please!

Shidduch Resumes

A Jewish newspaper should have a Hebrew column. So here it is. We will try to maintain a level of vocabulary so that it will be easy enough for students to read and interesting enough for those more fluent to enjoy.


’ve heard it said a number of times that were Yitzchak and Rivkah alive today, there is no way they’d get married. One can only imagine the report Avraham, “the gadol hador,” would receive from his servant, the shadchan (matchmaker), after he interviewed Rivkah for the first time. “Family: Unrepentant idolators (father tried to kill me during our meeting), incorrigible brother; Girl: Very confident, thinks for herself, knows what she wants, a little on the young side.” For Yitzchak, it might read something like this: “Family: Rabbi Avi Billet Mother dead, Father very old. Very G-dfearing. Boy: 40 years old, still lives at home (possibly lives in the Negev), not very talkative, no realworld experience except for the time his father almost offered him as a sacrifice.” Rivkah resembled the very confident women I sometimes read about, who are so intimidating in their self-awareness that they never marry. Some women like this were married before they became what they are – following the advice of my grandmother who believes people should get married younger, before they become too smart for themselves. To be fair, I know of a few successful, professional, “frum” women who were unable to find spouses (not that they didn’t try), who opted to have a child through IVF in their mid to late 30s. This decision comes about after a thought process that includes, “I am not going to give up my chance of having a baby, just because I was unable to find a husband.” I will not pass judgment on either type. All kinds of permutations play into the lives people live and the choices they make (and this applies to men too – except they don’t have the opportunity to give birth). But I think Rivkah’s choice to go with Avraham’s servant was a coda to a wonderful first impression she gave him. And, in a sense, the timing was perfect for her to go to marry Yitzchak, because as confident and self-aware as she was, she was young enough to recognize that marriage was something she wanted, and that the opportunity she had before her may have been a once-in-a-lifetime chance to leave her surroundings and join what would undoubtedly become a great nation. In 24:49, the servant said if she wouldn’t come, he would look elsewhere. In Rivkah’s case, the situation played out poetically. Avraham’s servant felt that after her father and brother said “This is from G-d” (24:50) it was a done deal. All he needed to do was go. And so he was a bit surprised at the hesitation on the part of her family when he begged permission to leave with Rivkah. Her brother and mother replied, ‘[At least] let the girl remain with us for another year or ten [months]. Then she can go.’ (24:55) He persisted that he must be on his way. They replied “Let’s call the girl and ask her

personally.” They summoned Rivkah and said to her, ‘Do you want to go with this man?’ ‘I will go,’ she replied. (24:57-58) The implications of these comments are compelling. The Alshikh claims they only agreed to let her go because they assumed they would be rewarded handsomely. As soon as they were merely given “migdanot” (mere gifts, or fruits), they tried their delay tactics. They didn’t say “You can take her.” They said “She’ll go” (24:51) – implying “When she’s ready, but not with you.” They tried to demean him by asking Rivkah “Will you go with this man” as if he’s a man undeserving of respect. The Ta”Z adds that they were asking in a pejorative manner “Do you really want to go with this guy?” to suggest a wonder over how she might even entertain the notion. Had they been asking her opinion, they would have added the words “Im lo” (or not) as if presenting both sides of the question. Her answering “I will go” implies that she was going of her own accord, even if they did not want her to go – as Rashi suggsted. Rashbam says they tried to suggest to her to wait a while in case a different man may come along to capture her attention. Radak posits they were even trying to be on the up-and-up when they offered to ask her in front of the servant, “…Lest you think we convinced her to stay without allowing her to share her own feelings,” because they thought she wouldn’t go. Rivkah proved that one’s actions and feelings and personal accomplishments are more important than any question of pedigree and “yichus.” Every couple has the right to choose how they want to live their Jewish lives, and personal journeys can play as much of a role in determining what that will look like as does their upbringing. Rivkah’s qualities and personality were a good counter to the more passive Yitzchak, and served her son Yaakov well for his own dealings with Eisav and Lavan. If my grandmother is right about young people, then I am glad Rivkah met Yitzchak at the young age she did, because had she waited… who knows if Yitzchak would have been good enough for her?

Rav Shlomo Carlebach: Chesed and Nigunim

By Rabbi Noam Himelstein

This week’s story is on Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the prolific songwriter, whose yahrtzeit was on Nov. 13. The column contains three short stories about Rav Carlebach dealing with his kindness and songwriting talent. Rabbi Himelstein teaches at Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem. He may be reached at

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Catholic priest and shoah expert speaks at shul Continued from page 1 staff to recite kaddish and perform other required rites. Desbois described the chain of events leading to his discoveries. It was known, he said, that the Germans arrived in the morning and when they left in the evening all the Jews in that area were dead. The reports filed said, in effect, “we were in the city, found a lot of resistance, came to the ghetto and had to kill civilians” with no mention that the Jews, men, women, children, were wiped out. Desbois’s secular Catholic family has an activist tradition with his grandfather surviving a Nazi prison camp. His grandmother on the other side hid resistance fighters. When he went to pay respects at the site of his grandfather’s camp in 2002, he asked where the town’s 15,000 Jews were buried. The mayor brushed him off, but a number of visits later and a new mayor led him to the forest and a gathering of elderly villagers who were witnesses to the murders. They were forced to prevent the Jews from escaping, to cover the pits of corpses, feed the Germans and bring a gramophone for the Germans to listen to music while conducting the murders. Desbois founded Yachad-In Unum, meaning together in Hebrew and Latin, in 2006 to collect information on these mass gravesites. He researches killing sites in the Ukraine at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and provides them with the information he gleans from his interviews with witnesses and research on the ground. He currently has information on 800 of these 2,000 pits, with video testimonies, photographs and artifacts from the gravesites. In his talk Saturday night, Desbois recalled accounts of witnesses, that the Germans would drink all night, encircle the Jewish area so that they could not leave and announce, “you are being deported to Palestine.” They would be lined up in rows of five in the town square, the elderly and children and dead in carts, and marched to a pit that had been dug by the townsfolk. Their coats, suits and boots were collected, they were lined up five or ten in a group along the edge of the pit and shot “one bullet, one Jew,” and flung into the pit. Desbois recounted a letter that was written by a German soldier describing how the Germans would play with the children like balloons, throwing them up in the air and trying to shoot them. The Jews’ belongings were collected, their homes were emptied and collected and auctioned off in the school. Jewish girls were kept as sex slaves and later killed. In Rustov they killed 27,000 Jews in two days. When Desbois asked how this was possible witnesses said that they “worked” day and night turning tractors with headlights to focus on the pits. Desbois explained that their main goal is to retrieve information. The witnesses were generally poor people who speak to him as a priest. He shows no emotion when listening; any emotion would cause them to stop talking. His goal is to locate and record those victims. “Genocide is not a tsunami,” he said, “it’s a personal crime. I’m looking for victims and want to reintegrate them into humanity. They were killed and buried like dogs. If we leave, it as if Hitler and people like Ahmedinajad won.

Photo by Isabel Slepoy

Although some expressed concern about a priest speaking at an Orthodox shul, Father Patrick Desbois’ lecture on his work in finding the graves of holocaust victims attracted a capacity crowd. Following his presentation, he lingered to answer quesitons and sign his book Holocaust by Bullets. Even 60 years later we don’t forget. We are coming back.” “Special people choose to do something,” Rabbi Herschel Billet said. “He dedicated his life to doing something that’s a credit to humanity. We have to appreciate a man who cares about humanity and the Jewish people. He is one of the chasidai umos haolam.” Father Desbois was invited to speak about his work, said Rabbi Billet, “ to educate people and parenthetically to show some appreciation for what he is doing.” The response appeared to be positive in spite of some rumblings in the community about a priest speaking in shul. “I can’t read Rabbi Billet’s mind but I think he did it on Shabbos to guarantee a critical mass of people,” said Rita Carp, a member of the Young Israel of Woodmere who attended the presentation. “It’s a kiddush Hashem. One time I was paying a shiva call with my father who is a Holocaust survivor.” Her father consoled the mourner as fortunate, because her parents have a grave, which Carp’s murdered grandparents were not given. “It’s very meaningful to have a kever to say kaddish. My father has no place to go and say kaddish.” Young Israel of Woodmere member Hilda

‘We have to appreciate a man who cares about humanity and the Jewish people. He is one of the chasidai umos haolam.’

Photo by Isabel Slepoy

Father Patrick Desbois presents a map of a district in Ukraine where his YahadIm Unum organization uncovered Nazi massacre sites with assistance from elderly Ukrainian witnesses. Heller also attended the lecture, defending its scheduling on Shabbat. “Ordinarily people are apathetic. It’s important, uncovering massacres in Europe; people in their respective communities allowed this to go on,”

Heller said. “He certainly is a righteous gentile. You’re always going to get controversy; but he went out of his way to do something out of the box for the Jews. He should be lauded and applauded.”


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November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR



The evolving face of Jewish music O

ver five decades ago, one man emerged to awaken the Jewish world from its post-holocaust depression and re-ignite the soul through the fire of his singing. These songs would later become the virtual sound track of the Jewish people, forever changing the genre we know as Jewish music. The new sound was different than the largely cantorial and klezmer melodies of prewar Europe, and would now appeal to the masses, melodies that can be sung by anyone, anytime. The melodies contained elements of the American folk scene, but were also distinctly soul melodies, simple yet profound, and bursting with Jewish life. Much as Yankee stadium was called “House IN MY VIEW that Ruth Built,” Jewish music has been dubbed “the Genre that Shlomo built.” As the world commemorates the 17th yahrtzeit of the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, much of his incredible musical legacy continues to inspire, reaching a global Jewish audience. On a personal level, Shlomo’s music continues to Yisroel Juskowitz teach me and his message resonates deep. Some of Jewish music today remains true to Shlomo’s legacy, while in many respects the genre has shifted dramatically. We live in a whirlwind of different sounds that we are bombarded by constantly, whether from the radio, television, internet, or cars waiting at the red light with their windows rolled down. These sounds range from pop, to reggae, to techno, to hard rock, and classic rock. Now more than ever, Jewish music seems to be sounding more and more like contemporary popular secular music. Some musicians made their careers from spoofing secular chart-topping hits. Their words remain Jewish, while the melo-

dies and general “sound” carry the flavor of pop music. Some embrace this “new sound” in Jewish music, while others bemoan it as cheapening what Jewish music was meant to be. Regardless of how one feels toward this phenomenon, the “new sound” has become increasingly popular in the teenage world, which often are seeking something Jewish, but enjoy the sound of the secular world as well. Just as Jewish music has changed, so have the buying habits of Jews buying Jewish music. In a difficult economy, most people think of purchasing music as a luxury, and not a necessity. In an increasingly digital age, compact disks have gone the way of the LP, a storage device heading towards extinction. Our age is all about digital downloads, buying songs straight from websites like iTunes, or Mostly Music for the Jewish set, directly to their smart phones. Often the songs are emailed to friends and copied. While many of the practices may be forbidden according to Jewish law, unfortunately they are quite widespread. Sadly enough these trends have hurt the business of Jewish music considerably. It has become virtually impossible to actually make a profit from CD sales alone, when one factors into the equation the enormous costs of music production, everything from studio time, paying other musicians to play on the album, as well as mixing and mastering. This new trend has resulted in Jewish musicians relying mostly on performances at concerts and simchas to earn a living through Jewish music. The CD is almost seen as a “business card” a very expensive business card at that, to attract a larger audience to one’s music, so the group or individual may be hired to play at a concert or simcha. However, even this has proved to be difficult, since there are many freelance musicians willing to play for less money than those who have put out albums, making for fierce competition. Many people involved in Jewish music today have different jobs altogether to help support themselves and their families.

The emergence of YouTube has also changed advertising for Jewish music. While traditional advertising was largely print ads, and then later online ads, now YouTube seems to be the most effective advertising platform. While uploading a YouTube itself may be free, making a high quality video with potential to go viral certainly is not. However, many groups are willing to accept the expenses of video production for the chance to achievep popularity through a viral video. Groups such as the Maccabeats and 8th Day have certainly shown us the effectiveness of YouTube marketing. Facebook has also changed the world of Jewish music. Many musicians and bands have jumped onto the world’s most popular website as a way to freely advertise music and shows. There is always a race to “friend” as many people as possible so more people

could learn about upcoming shows and new CD releases. In addition, trying to get as many people to “like” one’s fan page on Facebook is another way of free advertising, as it allows the band or musician and their picture appear as a link on the profile of each person who “likes” the fan page. These are just some of the way that Jewish music has shifted. My hope and prayer is that in all of the Jewish music we listen to, there will always be a spark inside each song that speaks to our souls. Songs that not only entertain, but inspire as well. Yisroel Juskowitz’s recently released debut album “The Narrow Bridge,” distributed by Sameach Music, has drawn widespread critical acclaim from magazines, radio shows, and listeners. Since then, he has begun performing in a variety of Jewish settings primarily in the New York area.

Struggle for civility in the food industry A

t this year’s Kosherfest, I couldn’t help but notice that the behavior of many of the attendees was slightly akin to that of your average kleptomaniac. There was the press, distributors, food industry workers or and members of the public that come for THE KOSHER some unknown reason CRITIC it certainly seemed that this year more than others the groupthink was dead set on stealing products (not just giveaways and samples mind you) from the booths that where there to showcase their wares. I saw men walking down the tightly packed aisles totting canvas bags packed with food. Zechariah Mehler Display booths that had wrapped packages torn open, pillaged by some overzealous Kosherfest goer who felt that he or she needed to stock up for a long winter on gum, jam, or

soy sauce. What was truly shocking is that this Black Friday experience was on the first hour of the first day of Kosherfest. Needless to say this behavior is unacceptable. If these were children, they would be reprimanded without hesitation. Wine bottles intended for sampling were missing from the shelves, likely to be opened at a Shabbat table. I would like to juxtapose this scene with one that happened this past week at Off the Grill in Cedarhurst. My friend was there for his mother’s birthday with his father, sister, and brother. Their table of five all ordered steaks. Of the five steaks ordered all but one came out looking delicious and well prepared. The “chef’s special” steak came out below par, in the family’s view. It was an overly thin and leathery cut with a superfluous bone sticking out of it. My friend was not happy about ordering what he judged as a $35 piece of shoe leather on a plate. A polite complaint was issued and a replacement was provided. The manager then appeared. “What would you like me to do with this?” he asked. “You ordered it you should have to pay for it.” The formalities

turned into hostility and the entire restaurant was now witnessing their dinner with a show. Neither side backed down. This is how a steakhouse lost what would have been good customers over $8 worth of meat (I am calculating restaurant cost) Steak slice aside, my friend and his party otherwise really enjoyed their meal. I can’t even imagine the fallout from the scene that was created. Considering these two stories I propose the following. As a food writer speaking for the consumer, I am pleading with everyone in my situation to act like human beings when dealing with the food industry. Be polite to waiters because it’s not their fault your order is late or cooked wrong. They are simply the messengers. Don’t think that just because companies come to trade shows, it is acceptable to pilfer their stands and treat the trade show like a helpless English village facing a Viking raid. For the love of all that is holy, conduct yourself like adults. Exercise your proper middot. Children are watching. Now to you, the food industry people. I can’t speak for you but I ask that you be more considerate of the consumer. Treat your cus-

tomers well. Grin and bear the ones that are pompous abusive jerks because even if they are the scum of humanity they still help to keep your business alive. Don’t yell at patrons in restaurants. If they order something that comes out not to their liking and send it back, go to their table and apologize. Then give them free French fries or desert. I know that seems excessive but I know what your price points are like. Spending five dollars on cake or fries could insure that your $250 party will return in the future. If we all remember that the food industry and the consumers are in a mutually beneficial relationship then maybe, just maybe, the kosher food industry will end up in a better place. Until then I will bring large red stickers to the next Kosherfest that read “Thief.” If I see you walking around with two bags stuffed with products, you should be expecting a red one on your back. Zechariah Mehler is a widely published food writer and expert in social marketing. Follow him on Twitter @thekoshercritic


Jewish History without myth: The Heschel - Wein legacy history of our people is an ever present factor that serves to give the book’s content a literary flavor and scenic backdrop that serves both to inform and to further reinforce the meaning and importance that historical events play in the development of our law, practice, belief and the theology of our faith. Further, these historical factors serve to enhance the importance that our life cycle events have come to represent to us in the ritual and liturgy that we observe every day of our lives. As to myth and legend, Rabbi Wein devotes a full final chapter to the fantasies and falsifications that misrepresent our religious heritage and national history. Of particular note is the misconception that Eastern European Jewry was spiritually enriched amid the difficult living conditions. To this Rabbi Wein is most firm in his words. “Part of the fantasy is that in Eastern Europe Torah study was rampant, the Torah scholar was honored and treasured by the community and that almost everyone was observant of Jewish law and halachic ritual.” Rabbi Wein points out that the contrary was reality. “By the 1930s, 70 percent of all Jewish children in Poland no longer attended Jewish schools of any kind. Urbanization took a tremendous toll on traditional Jewish lifestyles.” If this situation and other related hardships enumerated by Rabbi Wein sound familiar, you are correct. Just check the history of American Jewry from the 1880s on, and you will note the exact situation here. Rabbi Wein’s writings serve as a needed corrective to the corrosive and grossly mis-

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leading writings that perfume events and lives. However, please note the following. There was just one factual error by Rabbi Wein that I wish to point out, one that hopefully he will address himself to in a future edition of this otherwise valued work. In the context of the spiritual status of East European Jewry, the author admonishes Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, in his work “The Earth Is The Lord’s” for contributing to the fantasies noted above. In my re-reading off Rabbi Heschel’s words, s, especially in the last and d concluding chapter, “The he Untold Story”, I come to an opposite impression. Dr. Heschel clearly, and tearfully describes the inner and outer decay of Jewry in that last century. Both the spiritual and economic as well as the growing rot of the influence of secular forces are noted in heartfelt detail. In fact, Heschel’s writing contained therein could serve as an apt introduction to Rabbi Wein’s last chapter. Both writings serve as an accurate description to that last sad chapter of our people in Europe just prior to the Holocaust. Some 60 years ago Dr. Heschel wrote, “In the elementary textbooks of Hebrew in use a

quarter of a century ago, there was a story of a schoolboy who would be in great distress every morning, having forgotten where he put away his clothes before he went to and books b bed. One O evening he arrived at an answer to his problem. He an wrote on a slip of paper: ‘The suit is on the chair, the hat is in the closet, the books on t the desk, the shoes under the chair, cha and I am in bed.’ “Next morning he began to collect his things together. er They were all in their places. When he came to p the t last item on the list, he went to look for himself in w the bed – but his search was in vain.” Heschel, and in turn all of us can observe thus: “A world has vanished. All that rem remains is a sanctuary hidden in the realm of spirit. We of this generation are still holding the key. Unless we remember, unless we unlock it, the holiness of ages will remain a secret of G-d. We of this generation are still holding the key – the key to the sanctuary which is also the shelter of our own deserted souls. If we mislay the key, we shall elude ourselves.” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote and spoke to the historic legacy of his times. Rabbi Berel Wein, as evidenced by this exquisite work, is serving that same purpose and sacred cause for our times.

Combine study with travel. Earn your annual CLE credits against the backdrop of Jerusalem in January. This 12-credit New York CLE Mixed Mini Bundle will be held on 4 mornings in Jerusalem, Israel, from Tuesday, January 3 through Friday, January 6, 2012. There will be a variety of presentations by Touro Law faculty on a number of subjects. Speakers and topics include: Dean Lawrence Raful on the Adoption by New York of the Model Rules (4 ethics credits); Professor Leif Rubinstein on Nuts and Bolts of Consumer Bankruptcy: The Basics of Chapters 7 and 13 (4 credits); Professor Harold Abramson on the Essentials of Mediation Advocacy (4 credits); Professor Samuel Levine, Director of the Jewish Law Institute, on Topics in Jewish Law and American Law: Comparisons and Contrasts (4 credits); and Professor Eileen Kaufman on Civil Liberties in an Age of Terrorism (4 credits).

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The accurate portrayal of history can be a daunting task. This is especially so when the subject is faith based and dependent upon sacred literature as the source of events and personalities which are central to a faith’s historical core. In a recently published anthology, “Patterns in Jewish History,” by Maggid Books, veteran writer, commentator and historian Rabbi Dr. Berel Wein has written a series of 14 essays dealing in depth with some crucial aspects of Jewish history, absent the myth and legend so ever present in much of the haredi-oriented histories and biographies we find all around us these days. Many of the essays in this work deal directly with Jewish concepts of Torah study, assimilation, messianism, mysticism, bigotry and persecution. Other issues dealt Alan Jay Gerber with are economics, wealth, and poverty, and health and medicine. Rabbi Wein takes each issue and concept and gives each an analysis on the topic’s relevance in Jewish law and belief. Morality is given a high value in measuring the worth and value to anything treated in this work. Rabbi Wein in no way shies away from controversy when evaluating those issues that go to the very heart of our life’s experiences. Throughout this work the narrative of the

THE JEWISH STAR November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772

The Kosher Bookworm

Nov. 18-19



Scholar in residence GREAT NECK SYNAGOGUE , located at 26 Old Mill Road, is hosting Malcolm Hoenlein as its scholar in residence. Hoenlein is the Exec. Vice Chairman of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The Friday night dinner will be an “insider’s briefing” by Hoenlein, with a special children’s menu at the meal. The kenote address will follow the Musaf service, and a policy discussion will be held during seudat shlishit. For reservations and information, contact 516-487-6100.

Nov. 19 Israeli Film Festival CONGREGATION BETH SHOLOM, located at 390 Broadway in Lawrence, is holding an Israeli film festival at 8 p.m. The films presented are “The Orthodox Way,” a comedy about Orthodox dating; “Willingly,” about Orthodox divorce; and “Shabbos Mother,” about a divided family meeting for Shabbat. The cost is $20 per person if paid by Nov. 11, and $25 at the door. For more information, contact Michael Novick at 516-569-3600 ext. 22

Ongoing Bat Mitzvah classes DRISHA INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH EDUCATION is offering a Bat Mitzvah program at Congregation Beth Sholom, located at 390 Broadway in Lawrence. Titled “Our Mothers, Ourselves,” this five-week class for mothers and daughters ages 11-13 will explore different personalities of women in the Tanakh from both pshat and drash perspectives. The class will also discuss the significance of becoming a Bat Mitzvah and how it relates to these prominent women. The classes will take place on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. starting on Nov. 13. For more information, contact

Submit your shul or organization’s events or shiurim to Deadline is Wednesday of the week prior to publication. Central Asia/Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University. From 1982 to 1988 Krakowski was the Special Assistant to the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. The event begins at 8 p.m. and costs $72 per couple. Fore more information, contact 718-327-7600.

Nov. 20 Showbiz to Shabbos CONGREGATION MACHANE CHODOSH, located at 67-29 108 Street in Forest Hills, is hosting former NBC News producer Molly Resnick as its Eishes Chayil Luncheon speaker. Resnick will speak of her professional achievements in speaking to figures in politics and entertainment, and transformation to a life of Torah observance. The event begins at noon. For more information, contact 718-793-5656.

Foreign policy speaker YESHIVA OF FAR ROCKAWAY is hosting Dr. Elie Krakowski as its fundraiser speaker at the home of Meryl & Sam Futersak, at 28 Auerbach Lane in Lawrence. Krakowski is a senor fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and the


Nov. 24 Women’s shiur series CONGREGATION KNESETH ISRAEL, located at 728

Empire Avenue in Far Rockaway, is holding a Thanksgiving morning of shiurim for women, under the auspices of Machon Basya Rochel Seminary. The first lecture, at 9:30 a.m. is by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, on the topic “Inner workings of the human psyche.” At 10:30, Yael Kaismen will speak on the factors that motivate our choices. The 11:30 lecture is by Rebbetzin Aviva Feiner on “The beauty of ourselves inside and out.” The cost is $8 per shiur or $20 for all three combined. For sponsorships and information, contact 718-355-8700.

Thursday night learning KEHILLAS BAIS YEHUDAH TZVI, located at 391 Oakland Avenue in Cedarhurst has a Thursday night learning program with video lectures by noted lecturers Rabbi Eli Mansour at 9 p.m. and Rabbi Yissocher Frand at 10:30 p.m. Hot chulent will be served, concluding with maariv services at 11:15 p.m. For more information, call 516-374-9293.

YU at YIW kollel YOUNG ISRAEL OF WOODMERE, located at 859 Peninsula Boulevard in Woodmere is hosting a Thanksgiving Kollel Yom Rishon presentation. At 9:30 a.m. Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger will speak on “giving thanks during challenging times.” Rabbi Neuburger is the Rosh Yeshiva of the rabbinic seminary at Yeshiva University. At 10:30, Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff, a Judaic Studies instructor at YU’s Stern College, will speak on the topic “Health and healing in Jewish thought.” The free public event is open to men and women. For sponsorships and information, contact 516-972-

Traditions Lunch & Learn YOUNG ISRAEL OF WOODMERE holds weekly Lunch & Learn lectures at Traditions Restaurant, located at 302 Central Avenue in Lawrence. Rabbi Shalom Axelrod delivers the weekly lectures. The cost per person for the meal is $12. For reservations, contact Alan Stern at 516-295-1672.

Photos by Penny Frondelli, left; and Sergey Kadinsky, above

Kristallnacht was observed on Nov. 9 by Young Israel of Hewlett, where survivor and author Naomi Blumenthal Lazan spoke; and Congregation Machane Chodosh in Forest Hills, where six survivors lit memorial candles for each of the million Jews murdered. Survivor Eva Lux Braun spoke on her experiences. The service was concluded with a kaddish and k’El Molei Rachamim recited by chazzan Daniel Najman. The day commemorates the 1938 Nazi pogrom in Germany.


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Reply to readers on “Fashionable and Frum” Dear Readers, I’ve been writing this column for about 80 weeks now. I will sometimes have people comment to me in person, via email or phone about how they felt after reading one of my articles. I have never had a reaction that even comes close to the myriad comments I have received from “Fashionable and Frum.” The most neutral of comments came mostly from men. They expressed how the writer of the question claims to be tznius, but is not because she dresses to attract. They were wondering why I didn’t address it in my response. I told them that in my first draft, I kinda bashed her for thinking that covering her elbows, knees and neckline with fabric that’s tighter than her epidermis is being considered within the spirit of the law. Then, when I proof-read it, I realized that so many women hate tznius because it is impossible for a person to learn to be inward-focused when the foci of the outward is constantly being shoved down their throats. So instead, if you read the finished article, you will find one sentence about how the writer should evaluate which force is stronger—the drive to covering up, or to standing out? And while on this topic, for women struggling with tznius, I suggest working on just one piece at a time, because you still want to feel like yourself. And that’s only if you feel motivated to work on it. I also suggest uping the ante in the kodesh k’dushim. Not that it’ll solve everything, but it should help realign the

priorities for you. (If I weren’t a therapist, I would never think that I need the following disclaimer, but unfortunately, I’m not one of the blissfully ignorant, so here is my disclaimer: The kodesh k’dushim advice is for marrieds only. My apologizes in case I just burst your bubble.) The more intense reactions came from cats. I mean from women. These comments were mostly negative in nature, often using terms referring to the writer which I’d rather not repeat. Ladies, why do you care? Seriously. You make me ashamed to be part of your gender. Get secure. What do you care if someone is investing time, money and effort into looking inappropriate? How does that influence you? Why does that even strike a chord? I could understand if you tell me that you can’t stop looking at her and are upset that you are getting an aveira for gazing at her, but you are not! Can we maybe separate you from her? Can we stop measuring ourselves against others? Can we turn our emotional energy inward and see where we need to improve? And now, for the drumroll: The most outlandish reaction I received from “Fashionable and Frum”, the reaction that I still feel horrible about. Some of you may try to console me and tell me that I don’t need to feel guilty, but Rashi says that if you are an agent for something bad happening to someone else, it reflects poorly on you. (He said it regarding the halacha of putting a fence around a high porch or rooftop, Devarim 22:8.)

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So here’s what happened. A woman reached out to me to let me know that someone put a copy of “Frum and Fashionable” on her door, either thinking that she was the writer (she was not), or trying to tell her to tone down. The woman said that she dresses “fashionably” and is in shape. She has her own style of dressing and encounters many jealous people. I know I cannot take responsibility for such juvenile communication, but it really bothers me that I put so much effort into telling my readers to communicate openly, honestly, directly and respectfully, yet this is what a reader used my words to do! I implore whomever you are to apologize and I will even enable you to save face. Reach out to me and admit that it was you. Realize that you caused a person unnecessary pain.

I will pass on your regret while protecting your identity. And the best comments were the silence. The comments of those who see a women like the writer and think, “Oh.” -Aviva

Aviva Rizel is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Lawrence. She can be reached at 347-292-8482 or AvivaRizel.MFT@

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THE JEWISH STAR November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772

Ask Aviva

Opinion From the heart of Jerusalem: From the darkest of places His eyes haunt me; looking out as they do from a picture taken over seventy years ago. Just one drop of one story from amongst a sea of pain. His name was Martin Shtiebel, and his picture is one of many that hang on display in the museum at Dachau, the Nazi regime’s ďŹ rst and longest standing concentration FROM THE HEART camp. In 1933, the year OF JERUSALEM Hitler rose to power, he was a 34 year old working for one of the many political organizations in Nuremberg trying to bring more freedom and equality to a postWorld War One Germany, rife with poverty and suffering. Being a spokesperson for a political group that was at odds with Nazism, he, like many Rabbi Binny innocent German Jews Freedman of his day, did not see the writing on the wall. He was arrested in 1933 and sent to Dachau, where he was publicly humiliated and brutalized immediately upon entering the camp. He was one of those rare few who attempted to ďŹ ght the Nazi machine, even from within the camps. Upon arrival, Jews were herded and run into a long barracks where they were stripped of every last piece of clothing and every belonging they owned, after which, amidst a hail of kicks and blows they were run through the camp and out into the open roll call area, where, old and young alike, they were made to run and roll, up and down for hours upon hours, even forced to drink from puddles of swill on the ground, until the weak and the old eventually collapsed. Shtiebel was caught attempting to smuggle out secret notes on what was really going on in the camp, and in November 1933 was thrown into an isolation cell. Recall that in 1933, the Nazis still had to present a veneer of respectability and legitimacy. In fact, the chief prosecutor for the Dachau area ďŹ led charges against a number of camp ofďŹ cers for murders that were misrepresented as suicides, and this as late as 1935. By then, he was removed from his post. Subjected to daily torture, Shtiebel refused to sign papers attesting to his own ‘guilt’ until eventually he was found ‘hanged’ in his cell in April 1934. With all the different images that assault the senses in that terrible place, for some reason, his picture stayed in my head. Looking at the hooks near the ceiling where they hung prisoners by their arms that were tied behind their backs, I wondered what was going through Martin Shtiebel’s mind amidst all that pain. And most of all, I couldn’t help but wonder, opposite the torture cells of the Gestapo, how a Jewish bureaucrat, all alone in such a

terribly lonely place, managed to stand up to the might of the Nazi regime for six long months. By 1940, the Jews in the camps had a sense of what was coming. After years of Nazi oppression in the ghettos and the work camps, they knew their enemy. But in 1933, prisoners taken to Dachau could not possibly have imagined the horrors that awaited them. How does a person who wakes up in a democratic world of rights and laws, ďŹ nd himself by mid-day in the darkest version of hell we cannot even begin to imagine and still stay sane? How long did it take Martin Shtiebel before he ďŹ nally realized no one will be hearing his case and ďŹ ghting for his rights? What kept him going those six long months, when one signature would have at least ended the horrible torture? Could there have been some light, some dream that kept Martin Shtiebel going? Is it possible to bring light even into the darkest of places? This week’s parsha, Chayei Sarah, ďŹ nds Avraham in what should have been one of the darkest points of his life. An old man, he has just lived through what seems to have been the greatest challenge of his life: the binding of Isaac, only to ďŹ nd his beloved wife Sarah, his life partner, dead. And yet the verse tells us, “And Avraham was old, well on in years, and Hashem blessed Avraham with everything.â€? (Bereishit 24:1) How can the Torah tell us Avraham is so blessed, when he has literally just buried his wife? Especially when the Torah makes it abundantly clear that this was a terribly painful loss for Avraham who “mourns her and cries for her.â€? If you’ve just lost everything, you should likely feel as though you have nothing, yet speciďŹ cally at this juncture the Torah tells us that Avraham has been blessed with everything! Perhaps we need to understand what a blessing is really all about. Most people think that when I make a blessing I am thanking G-d, but that is not actually correct. “’Bracha’ (the Hebrew word for blessing) does not mean thank you. We have a word ‘Todah’ which means thank you, and we use it often both when we pray as well as after we eat ( “Nodeh lecha’ we thank You‌.â€?). So obviously ‘bracha’ (blessing) has to mean something different. In fact the word bracha means to increase; hence when we are told that has blessed Avraham with everything what it means is Hashem has increased Avraham’s wealth or future, in this case through his son Yitzchak. And this makes a lot of sense. After all, what is it I am trying to do when I say a blessing? I am trying to increase Hashem’s presence in my life. I can choose just to eat a piece of bread, or I can choose to use that bread as a vehicle for deepening my relationship with G-d. Most people don’t think twice when they bite into a soft piece of fresh bread,

Could there have been some light, some dream that kept Martin Shtiebel going? Is it possible to bring light even into the darkest of places?

other than to relish its taste. But it takes a lot of work to make bread: You have to plough and then sow a ďŹ eld, then reap the crops, and thresh and winnow and sift the grains and eventually crush the wheat into kernels and produce and then knead the dough until ďŹ nally baking it into bread. And all this is completely dependant on rain and sunshine‌. And by seeing myself as a partner with G-d in producing this bread I increase Hashem’s presence in my life and thus in the world. As such, our verse which describes Hashem’s blessing of Avraham with everything, is as much about how Avraham chooses to see the world Hashem gives us, as it is about what Hashem actually bestows upon Avraham. He can choose to wallow in the loss of Sarah, or revel in the joy of Yitzchak. Ultimately the only real choice we have in this world is how we choose to look at the world. And Avraham is blessed “bakolâ€?, with “everythingâ€?, only because he chooses to focus on seeing Hashem in his life, as opposed to focusing on where Hashem is hidden from his life. As we exited the museum, I noticed across the wide-open area where the shouts and screams of roll call used to ďŹ ll the Dachau air, personnel in Israeli army uniforms. I rubbed my eyes to be sure I

wasn’t imagining the image, but as we got closer, sure enough we encountered a small group of Israeli army ofďŹ cers who were in Germany on a military liaison mission with their counterparts in the German army. When they realized that their trip itinerary did not include a visit to Dachau, even though they were to visit the industrial zone nearby, they insisted on being taken to see the camp. It was a cold day in Germany but these young ofďŹ cers were touring the camp without coats on so that people passing them by would see their Israeli army uniforms. In the barracks their guide was explaining that the prisoners were forced to sleep at night without their clothes in the bitter cold nights of the German winter. And I couldn’t help but be in awe of the powerful ďŹ re of spirit that must have burned in Martin Shtiebel’s heart to be able to withstand all that he endured in those dark days. It is indeed possible to bring light even into the darkest of places, if we so choose. Rav Binny Freedman, Rosh Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem’s Old City is a Company Commander in the IDF reserves, and lives in Efrat with his wife Doreet and their four children. His weekly Internet ‘Parsha Bytes’ can be found at



$ B S Z ) PG G N B O JO




November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR


15 THE JEWISH STAR November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772



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November 18, 2011 • 21 CHESHVAN, 5772 THE JEWISH STAR



November 18, 2011 The Jewish Star  

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November 18, 2011 The Jewish Star