Mishpacha Inbox

At Mishpacha, we hope to inform, inspire, educate, and entertain. But it’s not a one-way street. One of the liveliest sections in the magazine is the Inbox, where readers weigh in, sharing their own insights, advice, questions, and experiences.
Here, readers share their reactions to Mishpacha articles and reader feedback.
What do you think? Join the conversation. 
Mishpacha Readers |
August 4, 2020
LAST UPDATED 3 years ago

Comments (138)

  1. Avatar

    I very much appreciated Rabbi Ginzberg’s account of Rav Aaron Soloveichik ztz”l. Growing up in Chicago, I had the good fortune to know Rav Aaron and his family. What Rabbi Ginzberg captures is Rav Aaron’s immense gevurah, both physical and spiritual.
    As he would walk across the beis medrash of Yeshivas Brisk of Chicago, pushing his walker slowly, Rav Aaron would literally scream in pain with every step — screams that could be heard across the building. Yet when I once tried to move a chair out of his way to clear the path, he sharply admonished me, pointing out that he would not be able to regain his abilities if people made things easier for him.
    The essay he wrote from his hospital bed after his stroke, about how the lack of sensation of his body made him appreciate the essence of his neshamah, remains one of the most amazing and inspiring things I have read. The ability to push one’s self through sheer koach and ratzon is something that Rav Aaron’s whole mishpachah exemplifies, and has stayed with me as a lesson to this day.

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    I wasn’t surprised that most of the responses to the Double Take story focused on the young woman who needs to find a flattering gown under challenging circumstances. That is a real challenge and she deserves more understanding and consideration.
    At the same time, I felt that the married siblings and sisters-in-law face a very real challenge too, and it’s something that we as a community have yet to discuss. The financial cost of a sibling’s wedding is a huge issue, yet everyone remains silent about it. How much longer can this last?
    Every time a sibling of mine gets engaged, I am simultaneously thrilled and terrified. I’m thrilled because it’s a true simchah, something we’ve all been davening for. I’m terrified because we’re a young couple struggling to pay our mortgage, tuition, monthly expenses, etc. — and “making weddings” was never really part of our budget. Yet whenever one of these simchahs arrive, we are saddled with tremendous expenses.
    It’s not only dressing the family (no, my parents are not in a position to cover the costs of the gown rentals or hairstyling, but at the same time, of course all the nieces and nephews have to be dressed just right). It’s also making up the time we take off from work. It’s also planning, cooking, hosting, and paying for a “siblings’ sheva brachos.” It’s also traveling in for the aufruf and/or sheva brachos, which means travel expenses and missing more work.
    Every time I attend one of these events, or every time we start planning another family sheva brachos, I wonder if any of the other women are also secretly dreading it, and I wonder how many other couples are trying desperately to shave items off their monthly budget so they can show up, look right, and still stay in the black.
    We are so happy to be part of a large family and so grateful that we have simchahs to celebrate. But under the surface, the cracks are getting bigger and the pressure is building. A wedding has become something we almost dread… and it’s not like we’re even the ones marrying off a child!
    Something has to change.

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    Mishpacha did a great job covering the terrible injustice to Jonathan Pollard, but an important aspect of the story was left out of your article.
    Five and a half years ago, Pollard’s attorneys did a press release upon hearing that Pollard would be let out of prison. In that press release, there was only one Jewish organization they specifically thanked for their efforts on his behalf: the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI).
    When the Justice Department submitted two affidavits by Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger that said that Pollard did terrible damage — leading to his life sentence — NCYI led a campaign to obtain letters from major American officials who knew the classified information of what Pollard had done and felt his life sentence was unjust and favored his release. Hashem clearly assisted us, as the results of these efforts were breathtaking.
    One such person to write a letter was President Reagan’s National Security Adviser Bud McFarlane, who called Pollard’s life sentence a “great injustice” and said it was due to Casper Weinberger’s “unbalanced views” on Israel. NCYI obtained letters from others who were in major positions when Pollard was arrested, like former head of Senate Intelligence David Durenberger, former head of House Intelligence Lee Hamilton, former Secretary of State George Schultz, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Larry Korb who wrote that Weinberger had a “visceral dislike” of Israel. Even former Reagan FBI Director William Webster (later CIA Director) implied he favored Pollard’s release as well.
    Others who knew the classified information about Pollard and came out for his release were the former head of Senate Intelligence Dennis DeConcini, former CIA Director James Woolsey, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum (he spoke out without being contacted by NCYI), and former Assistant Attorney General Phil Heymann who called Weinberger’s affidavit to the Judge against Pollard “treacherous.” NCYI worked with David Nyer and with Law Professor Kenneth Lawson on these efforts.
    NCYI raised Pollard’s case face to face on two occasions a year apart with President Obama. Obama first told NCYI that Pollard’s release was “under consideration.” The next year Obama was asked as to why Pollard was still not released and he failed to respond. However, seven months later, Attorney General Lynch made the decision to grant Pollard parole.
    Further, NCYI was the only Jewish organization that publicly raised the Pollard matter at the Conference of Presidents meetings in Israel with US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro for four years in a row until Pollard was released.
    The efforts of NCYI were pursuant to the religious obligation of pidyon shevuyim, the redeeming a captive. It is great that Jonathan Pollard is finally free.

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    My heart goes out to the young lady in teal. As usual it’s not about the gown, although that’s important as well. It’s about a general concept of being totally tactless and not understanding of the chubby one’s challenges.
    These are the sort of sisters-in-law who make a Motzaei Shabbos Melaveh Malkah with gooey cheesy selections and cheesecake and sneer at their sister-in-law for eating. These are the types of women who do a multitude of tactless things. Picking a gown color that is completely unflattering to their chubby sister-in-law is the last straw. How dare they? This gown choice should never have been made without including her. And people need to be a whole lot more sensitive to the non-Barbie gang.

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    Thank you for offering a variety of perspectives during your election coverage. It seems that the week after the election gave your columnists the opportunity to reflect upon President Trump, warts and all. I appreciated Yonoson Rosenblum’s analysis of Trump’s loss when he wrote, “Character… is destiny. Trump almost seems to have craved the adulation of his base more than being president.” And a few pages later Yisroel Besser wrote, “But here, Trump became the rebbe, the subject of breathless adulation of worship. This wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t Jewish.”
    For many in our community, we’ve always “sensed that something was off,” as Besser only now reflects in the pages of this magazine. Even if we ended up voting for him. We’ve been concerned for a long time, maybe most notably when we watched a video of frum boys at a camp singing a propaganda-like song about President Trump. It reached a crescendo when we witnessed children in peyos at rallies holding Trump flags like Torah flags, and young men in tzitzis standing on top of cars waving Trump banners in AP photographs.
    The breathless adulation and worship doesn’t look good on us. It embarrassed many of us. Considering Trump “our protector,” “but now we go back to Plan A” sounds like something out of Nach. We’ve been down that road before.
    Why did we think that we were so right, and make ourselves so visibly passionate about it? Now where does that leave us? Perhaps something about us was off.

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    Thank you for printing Simcha Eichenstein’s opinion piece on shopping locally.
    As a senior citizen, I do not go out much to shop. But on a recent trip, I noticed a wonderful placard: “Jeff Bezos doesn’t live in Boro Park. Shop locally.” So true!
    I have also seen how many stores have gone out of business. So sad!
    So let’s help our neighbors by shopping in our neighborhood when possible.

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    I’d like to start by thank you for sharing Alexandra Fleksher with the wider Jewish world — her writing is fabulous and her points are always well-thought out and insightful. I get so happy when I see her on the list of contributors for the week!
    As usual, I loved her opinion piece about spiritual resilience. I do feel, though, that she left out a crucial point that needs to be made. When Mrs. Fleksher speaks of two ways of reacting to crisis, she refers to surviving and thriving. She did not mention the third option: sinking.
    For many, when confronted with overwhelming life circumstances, including the challenges brought by COVID, it is just too much and they start to sink. The Herculean effort it can take some people to transition from sinking to surviving is often much greater than what it takes others to thrive. Much research on reaction to trauma points to many outside factors that contribute to one’s resilience (such as support systems, mental illness, repeated exposure to traumas, etc.). Most of these factors are truly out of one’s control.
    While we all do have a point of choice, that specific position on the continuum from sinking to thriving is very different for all people. I would like to point out and celebrate those who are sinking in an abyss of pain and overwhelm, yet make an effort that takes every ounce of strength just to survive. The depressed teen who got through another day without self-harm. The mother with OCD who was able to get her kids out on time today and not get stuck in a ritual loop. And yes, also the husband/caretaker of a chronically ill woman who lashed out at her because he was just so overwhelmed, but then chose to apologize.
    I worry that if we don’t acknowledge and celebrate these realities, the many in our community who experience life in this way will read articles like this and despair and say: My struggle is meaningless and does not count.

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    I was very happy to read that after an 18-year old battle, Ari Zivotofsky’s son’s passport gives his place of birth as Jerusalem, Israel, instead of Jerusalem with no country.
    This reminded me of a similar fight I had in 1970 regarding the registration of my eldest daughter’s British birth certificate. At the time my family was among the Mitnachalei Hevron living in the Military Compound in Hebron. Since I have British citizenship, my daughter was automatically British. I went to the British Consulate in West Jerusalem (on Mount Zion) with the various documents and was given a form to complete. I wrote my place of residence as “Hebron, Israel.” The clerk there immediately crossed out the word Israel and said one must write “Hebron, Jordan.” Britain had recognized the area of Yehudah and Shomron as a part of Jordan.
    I strongly objected to this. He then telephoned someone — I don’t know who — and said that he had a person who strongly objected to having “Hebron, Jordan” on his daughter’s birth certificate. They then agreed to write just Hebron.
    Needless to add that the hospital of her birth, Shaare Zedek, was just written on her British birth certificate as “Jerusalem” without the addition of Israel.

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    Thank you for your beautiful and inspiring piece, “Please Don’t Call Us Heroes” by Rachel Ginsberg. I had the honor and joy of working with Shaul Niyazov during his years at the Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys (DRS). Diagnosed in the ninth grade, Shaul was inspired and cheered on by his devoted classmates. Truly, however, his many friends noted that it was Shaul who cheered them on during his illness. His return to school in his sophomore year was celebratory and remembered with delight by all of us.
    Your portrayal of Shaul was lovely; what stands out to me was his absolute determination to get back to “normal problems.” When I suggested to Shaul that he should take extra time on his exams, his response was classic Shaul: “Why would I do that? I don’t need it and it wouldn’t be fair to the boys who don’t receive extra time.”
    I hope it is okay to declare that Shaul will always be a hero to me. May Hashem bless him, Pinchas Reicher, Sienna Kalt, and all of Klal Yisrael with good health always.
    Robin Schick

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    I wanted to write in about how pleased I was in reading last week’s magazine. I have been increasingly feeling despair about the amount of divisiveness and outright sinaas chinam in Klal Yisrael right now. People seem so sure that their perspective, their doctor, their article, their candidate is the only right way to look at the world. It is causing relationships in families, friends, schools, and shul to experience rifts.
    Your “Open Mic” piece about respecting a frum person who votes Democrat was exactly what we needed to in order to open our minds to the people behind the differing views. The brilliantly done Kichels comic put into words and drawing exactly the zealousness of each side and was one of my favorite ones to date.
    I know the stakes are high and that the issues on the table are affecting people’s health, safety, parnassah, and daily living, but we need to all admit that none of us can possess a 100% surefire way of knowing exactly what is right or wrong. In the meantime we are destroying the very thing that makes us special and unique — our ability to come together as a unified community.
    Thank you, Mishpacha, for using your influence to encourage understanding. I hope that as time goes on we realize that the only thing we can know for sure is that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is the only Truth, and He certainly wants us to be treating our fellow Jews with respect.

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    I found Mrs. Fleksher’s article about resilience to be thoughtful and beautiful, and found myself thinking back to those hard months last spring, wondering which category I fell into.
    I wonder if other readers felt like I did — we weren’t necessarily choosing to be spiritual, but it was the only way to feel anchored in a crazy unsettling world. My rule at home for my kids was that they needed to get dressed, daven, and learn something each day. Otherwise, I worried we’d fall into the world of no structure, the days blurring into each other, what’s the point of even getting up? I regularly listened to my rav’s phone shiur during those hard weeks because I needed guidance and reassurance. Was this a spiritual decision or a practical decision?
    “Parents were juggling… Zoom schooling, but the house still needed to be cleaned for Pesach… is it in fact that very commitment to Yiddishkeit that gets us through the day?” Mrs. Fleksher asks. For me, it was definitely Yiddishkeit that got me through the day. It gave my days purpose and structure. But it didn’t feel as deliberate and spiritual as Rabbi Rosenblatt. Does this make me spiritually resilient? Perhaps it does, and I’ll give myself a retroactive pat on the back.
    Thank you for a thoughtful and inspiring magazine.

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    For a number of years I had always thought that the songs on the early JEP albums were all original compositions. When I entered beis medrash and began eating Shalosh Seudos in yeshivah, the weekly shmuess from the Rosh Yeshivah was always preceded by spirited singing of slow moving Dveykus style songs. At first I was surprised that they were singing JEP songs albeit with the wrong words. It took a little investigating to come to the conclusion that many of those songs had already been classic tunes with fitting words from Tanach and that I was the uninformed one! Nonetheless, the “JEP Generation” gives life to the classics by still singing them as recorded on the JEP albums.
    One song (“Dear Nikolai”) that Dovid Nachman Golding states was a Heshy Walfish composition as an alma mater for Camp Kol Ree Nah, was in fact originally recorded in 1970 on Heshy’s second The Messengers (remember them?) album, entitled “Let My People Go.” The original words were lma’an yirbu yemaichem.
    The opening tune for the second JEP album — “Times of Joy” also was recorded on an album entitled Clei Zemer — the orchestra of Judge Noach Dear a”h. Aside from “Ki Lecha Tov Lehodos,” the Abie Rotenberg song that became the tune for “Times of Joy,” there are three other hidden Abie Rotenberg songs (sung by Abie and Rabbi Label Sharfman prior to their Dveykus collaborations) that, if rereleased now, would become instant classics.

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    I just finished reading Ding’s column “They Stay with You Forever” about the JEP albums and was flooded with memories from an era that is unfortunately long gone.
    It was a time of innocence, when color war and color war songs were the height of our existence. While we were in summer camp for two months, we learned more about Yiddishkeit and what it means to be a true Torah Jew than in our ten months of yeshivah education.
    I am reminded of a chance meeting I had with Rav Moshe Wolfson shlita many years ago at the Kotel. I asked the Rav if he now lives in Yerushalayim. He answered me by saying that he moved to Yerushalayim many years ago, but unfortunately he still works in chutz la’aretz ten months of the year.
    The same can be said about us, as we lived our lives from summer to summer, when those two months were the pinnacle of our Jewish education.
    Not only do those amazing JEP songs stay with us forever, but so too do those wonderful Torah values that were instilled in us during those summer months, shaping our very lives and transforming us into young men who began to understand the importance of the klal, the “we” and not the individual, the “I.”
    Thank you so much for bringing back those great summer memories. One day very soon “we will all be together.”

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    I almost fell off my chair while reading this week’s segment of StanDING! Ovation, in which Dovid Nachman Golding reviews the history of the JEP recordings, back in the seventies.
    Some 46 years ago, I was an 11-year-old public school student in Northeast Philadelphia, and I would listen to the words of JEP 3 over and over again: “Oh, Dovid, I’ve sent you this letter, expressing my pain and despair…. You’ve cleared all my doubts, you’ve answered my dreams, now I know what a Jew really means.”
    Everything in that song spoke directly to me!
    And then, toward the end of Ding’s article, I read about a boy winning a summer’s stay at Camp Torah Vodaath. That boy was me!
    Over the past four decades, after learning at some of Klal Yisrael’s most prestigious yeshivos, I was zoche to open the Jewish Learning Center in Manalapan, NJ, a kiruv center that has majorly impacted several nearby communities. My married children were involved in opening a Bais Yaakov nearby, and the fruits of JEP’s labors continue on and on….
    Today, I head an organization called Yesodei Hadas, in which we reach out to Bais Yaakov and yeshivah students and lecture in emunah and hashkafah issues, a much-needed effort in this day and age.
    Perhaps the biggest lesson to learn from all this is that JEP reached out to just one little kid — me — and I have been able to spiritually enhance the lives of over 22,000 students!
    With hakaras hatov to my former JEP leaders, and my subsequent mentors and rebbeim,

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    So I know the Kichels about the men completely not listening to the women was just a joke, but it’s given me the opportunity to share something that bothers me quite often with the larger frum community because I am very curious what others would think of this.
    I’m 22 (and dating) but my biggest fear about marriage is this idea that women should take care of everything and men are somehow incompetent and must be babied and built up but can’t act like adults, can’t even pay attention to their wives, and women should just take it and do everything because “that’s just men.”
    I’ve had many people, mainly women, tell me that I can’t expect help around the house from my future husband and no matter how much I hate to cook, I will have to do it anyway because he can’t help. Not only must I cook, but I have to cook certain foods that nauseate me because he will want it.
    I think I’m the only one who feels this way but I’m not sure I want to get married if it just means having to do double the work and never being allowed to ask for help. I really do not understand why we have and perpetuate the idea that men are incompetent and wives are annoying whiners just for needing help.
    I would love to hear other people’s take on this.

    1. Avatar

      To the young woman who’s scared her future husband will never help out at home, I don’t know who you are getting your information from, but I really don’t think you have to worry about marriage meaning “double the work and never being allowed to ask for help.” If your husband is a halfway-decent man, he will be eager and happy to serve as an equal partner in building a home together.
      I, too, find it strange when men are portrayed as wimps who are incapable of childcare or housework. Because the husband I know (and many other men too) is sometimes better at juggling it all than I am! A real man is strong and capable and will take great care of his wife and family.
      Wishing you hatzlachah on your dating journey, and may you find a man who will make you laugh that you were once “hesitant about marriage.”

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      Dear Dating 22-Year-Old,
      Your letter made me feel frustrated. Who’s been feeding you all this nonsense? I wish I could take you on a long walk and explain some things to you.
      Here’s what I would want to tell you: A bit about my own incredibly helpful husband of over ten years, who spends Friday afternoons in the kitchen cooking for Shabbos, and while he’s a serious learner who isn’t home so much, is always totally available to help with the kids when he is home. About my father, who cleans for Pesach and helps serve the Shabbos meals. About my friend’s husband, who does the shopping and makes his kids eggs for breakfast.
      I know different husbands have different comfort levels vis-a-vis help in the kitchen, with the children, and with jobs they perceive as the woman’s. And I’ll be the first to say that I think it’s so important for woman to retain clarity that when her husband helps at home, he is helping with her responsibilities, the same way a woman who works to bring parnassah is helping her husband with his responsibilities.
      But the specifics of a man’s comfort level with shopping or cooking aside, the point is this: When a woman asks her husband for help, a person with good middos will help! If you are lying on the couch in early pregnancy terribly nauseous and ask your husband to help with supper because you’re not up to it, a husband with good middos isn’t going to say, “Sorry, that’s your responsibility.” He might make grilled cheese for the two of you, he might order pizza, he might ask his mother for help if she lives nearby, but he won’t just dump it on you!
      As for all the woman who are telling you that men are incompetent and don’t listen and don’t help — I’m not going to deny that they are experiencing that if that’s what they told you. But I wonder: Could they possibly have chosen to stick to the role of the martyred, no-one-helps-me-ever wife? Men aren’t good with hints. But did these women ever go over to their husbands on a bad day and say, “I’m having a hard time. Can you please do such and such, just for today, so I can rest?”
      Ask them. Maybe the answers will surprise you.
      Wishing you hatzlachah in finding your zivug hagun soon, and all the joy a healthy Jewish marriage brings.

    3. Avatar

      Thanks for a great magazine. I’d like to respond to the letter writer of “Double the Work” in response to the Kichels, who keeps hearing that men don’t help their wives:
      You’re obviously talking to the wrong people! Marriage is a tremendous brachah, and any ben Torah who is a baal chesed and baal middos will help out at home as much as he can, given his scheduling constraints. Just read the gedolim biographies or go into the houses of those who espouse these values.
      Of course everyone has different jobs that they do, and for practical reasons, many women spend more time on housework/cooking than men, but in a marriage based on Torah values, spouses help each other when they’re overwhelmed.
      I’m not writing from a modern or feminist perspective at all, but just from the perspective of someone whose husband and sons are bnei Torah who help out in the house. If I’m overwhelmed by childcare or household tasks, I just speak up and they lend a hand.
      My older boys can cook Shabbos on their own and often cook one or two dishes to contribute to Shabbos when they’re home, and my husband often helps out with tidying up. We work together so my husband and boys use their time efficiently and make Torah learning their first priority, but there are times where they can fit in helping around the house, and they do.
      On my end, I try to push myself so that they can maximize their time for learning, and on their end, they try to push themselves so that they can help out; we build each other up and don’t keep cheshbonos about who did how much housework.
      The Kichels are appreciated and beloved, and they enable us all to take a lighthearted, happy look inside frum society, but ultimately we each build our own realities and our own chinuch in our own homes.

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      In this past week’s inbox, a letter writer shared her feelings of unease regarding being told that she “can’t expect help around the house” from her future husband. I too am a girl who is currently in the parshah, and I too have heard about this reality many times. I would, however, like to offer a different perspective.
      As maaminim bnei maaminim, we know and believe that the Torah — which includes Torah shebe’al peh — is our guide to life and is the absolute Truth. What does the Mishnah tell us about a wife’s role in the home? “These are the tasks a woman must perform for her husband: She grinds (the flour), she bakes, she washes, she cooks…” The Mishnah also says that if there is someone else (specifically, a maidservant) available to do these tasks, then the wife does not need to do them. However, it is clear from the language of the Mishnah that if there is no maidservant around (or, in today’s terms, if your cleaning lady doesn’t stop by on a daily basis), the responsibility for getting household tasks done lies with the wife.
      So yes, “no matter how much I hate to cook, I will have to do it anyway” — but that is true because it is your job to be the one who does the cooking, not because your husband “can’t help.” As Torah Jews who believe that men and women have different roles — not as indignant, confused feminists who believe that household responsibilities should be split fifty-fifty between husband and wife no matter what — we declare without apology that the ultimate responsibility of keeping the kitchen running belongs to the wife.
      However, as far as I know, most Torah Jews do not believe — and nowhere in the Mishnah does it say — that a wife is “never… allowed to ask for help.” When a married woman tells her single counterpart not to expect help from her future husband, I don’t think the married woman means that she would hesitate to ask her husband to wash a sink of dishes if she was feeling completely worn out one day. It just means that she doesn’t expect her husband to help unless she really needs the help, and that otherwise she accepts full responsibility, day in and day out, for doing the laundry and mopping the floor and baking the brownies. Not because she is a martyr, not because men “can’t act like adults,” not because men “can’t even pay attention to their wives,” but because it is ultimately your job and not your husband’s job to do these tasks.
      In cases where the wife cannot do all of the household tasks on a consistent basis (maybe she gets overwhelmed easily, or she just had a baby, or she is the primary breadwinner and just can’t do it all), of course a wife should ask her husband for help and of course she should expect that her husband will step up to the plate if he can. But otherwise, the wife is the one whose job it is to “take care of everything” that the Mishnah lists. That is our way.
      Another single girl who hates cooking but plans to do it anyway

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    My family very much enjoyed your feature on Welsh Jewry last week.
    Just to add one missing piece to the story: In the late 1930s, a significant number of Yekkehs found their way from Germany to Wales. They made a very meaningful difference to the level of religious observance in the community. They are also the reason why many non-Yekkish Welsh Jews were taught to read Hebrew with a Yekkish accent.

    Local families also made great efforts to welcome these refugees, especially those Kindertransport children who were sent to Wales. Among their number was our own mother/grandmother/great-grandmother, Dr. Hilde Cohen, who now resides in Golders Green. She was taken in initially by Mrs. Katie Cohen of Cardiff, and then eventually by the Sherman family, who were mentioned in the article as major donors to Ponevezh (and other causes). We owe a tremendous hakaras hatov to both families, as well as the whole community, for their acts of chesed.

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    Grace Simmons Fox

    Thank you for your article about South Wales, which brought back many memories, as I was born in Cardiff in 1926. I realize that you could not include all facts but I would like to supplement from my memory storehouse.

    My grandparents, Wolf and Millie Cohen, were staunch members of Cathedral road Shul. Besides Reverend Grey, who officiated at my parents’ wedding, there was also rabbi (rev.) Jerevitch, and my father Reverend (later Rabbi) Marcus Simmons was the rav of Windsor Place shul. About the same time that Rabbi Rogosnitzky came to town, escaping Hitler’s onslaught, there was a Rabbi Unterman who later went to Israel.

    My aunt and uncle, Dolly and Eli Reuben, were very active in the community — religiously and politically. They were responsible for securing sponsors for many European refugees and were ardent Zionists. They were also parents of Harold Rubens, a well-known classical pianist who concertized all over Britain and the US, and of Bernice Rubens, a Booker Prize -winning novelist. Dannie Absie was also a writer with roots in Cardiff.

    The Reubens lived in the Penylan area of Cardiff. Uncle Eli was one of those immigrants from Riga who thought he was in America when he landed in Cardiff and became a peddler or “credit draper” to the mining families of the Rhondda Valley.

    Other notable Cardiffians who were philanthropists and staunch supporters of religious life were M.J Cohen’s family, Abe Hauser, the Dubows, and the Diamonds, to mention only a few.

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    Eleazar Durden

    Thank you for your article about Cardiff, Wales. This brought back many memories. You see, for three years, 1989–1992, I was the rabbi of this small community. Yes, I followed on the footsteps of great people, the likes of Rabbi Rogosnitzky and Rabbi Jeremy Stanton, who served a term as rabbi between Rabbi Rogosnitzky and my term. My family was also fortunate to benefit from the services of Dr. David Jacobs was our family doctor until his retirement in 1991; I believe he is the father of your tour guide, Mr. Adrian Jacobs.

    Rabbi Rogosnitzky’s great accomplishments were legend. In 1958, the Commonwealth Games were held in Cardiff. While the municipality was building a new swimming pool for the event, Rabbi Rogosnitzky succeeded in having a mikveh incorporated on the premises to serve the needs of the Jewish community. The UK is not known for its warm feeling towards Jewish ritual, so this was an amazing feat.

    Sometime during the ‘70’s or ‘80’s, he was able to be a party to a very rare mitzvah: hamachzir gerushoso. The couple who remarried each other told me how excited Rabbi Rogosnitzky was to officiate at their second wedding (he may have done so for their first wedding too.) And then there was Joe the Shammos, who had probably been around since Rabbi Rogosnitzky’s father had been the rav.

    The one area where unfortunately no one was successful — though not for the lack of trying — was establishing a Jewish school. Thus, the demise of the community was already well underway when I arrived for my first job out of kollel. The community did boast a nursery (who could forget “Auntie Pam” who ran the nursery) but that was not enough to maintain, let alone grow, the community.

    During the three years we were living in Cardiff, the community celebrated five births, two of which were my third and fourth children. Easily my most common tasks were all of the funerals, which numbered more than 40 during that same time period. There was a butcher shop there — which everyone called Krotoskys, the name of its owner — that sold not only meat, but all sorts of kosher products. He had to close down as he could not make a living. The well-established frum families by and large left during the early 1990s.

    I do, however, want to end off with something a little more positive. Cardiff was and is a beautiful city. In addition to any shuls which may still be standing, one of its attractions is Cardiff Castle, right in the middle of the city. It is a beautiful edifice. (I officiated at a wedding which was held there.) It is well-worth the visit — just make sure to see the rooftop garden, which has the story of Eliyahu at Har Carmel written around the walls — in Hebrew! The only problem is that the tiles on which the pesukim are written were mounted left to right instead of right to left.

  19. Avatar
    Moshe Bron

    After reading Eytan Kobre’s column last week, I was left with the feeling that he seems perturbed at our support of President Trump. He is equally disturbed by the events that occurred on Chol Hamoed in Boro Park, and their perception in the public eye. He also questions our lack of compliance.

    Here’s a bit of an eye-opener: We’re not uneducated, uninformed, blindly-obedient shtetl Jews anymore.

    For years we’ve been very sensitive to the “what will they say or think” measuring stick, when it came to the publicly written or spoken policies as pertains to our community. Now we ask where it has gotten us.

    Over the past few months it’s become crystal clear that it’s been a mistake all along. We’ve been patiently waiting for someone, anyone, among our elected officials to speak up and yet, silence never had a more sonic repercussion. We, the chassidim and litvish — the clearly visible Jews in New York — were left helpless, and worst of all, without representation from people and organizations we were under the impression would be there for us.

    We looked around and found one politician that shared our concerns, one elected official that had the guts to stand in front of the nation and beg, “Please open our houses of worship; we need prayers and G-d’s help.” One person that’s been pushing to open schools and businesses.

    The only one.

    Trump is definitely not what you would call presidential, but he’s the only president to receive a clear endorsement by prominent rabbanim.

    So yes, we support our president.

    We can’t sit back and worry about what the heterodox will think of us. If certain groups of Jews want to believe what they read about us in The Forward, without coming and seeing for themselves, then I’m beyond being sensitive to their perceptions. We have to do what’s best and healthiest for ourselves and our children.

    We didn’t need a study from highly-educated shrinks to tell us that keeping our children locked in the house and out of yeshivah and Bais Yaakov would have a long-term adverse effect. We knew with every fiber of our being that our precious children must go back to the chumash and gemara and the healthy environment of school.

    As to your bewilderment at our noncompliance, here’s the inside scoop you might’ve not been aware of. After seeing what political football COVID has become, and after taking note of the countless double standards along with all the senseless regulations that have absolutely nothing to do with science or health, we’ve made the conscious decision that perhaps contracting a virus that one might or might not know they have, with the possibility of maybe not feeling well, with the potential of needing medical intervention, which might in a minute lead to hospitalization (which a growing majority of patients survive) might not be considered mesirus nefesh after all. It might be better approached with something that’s been lost over the last few months: common sense. At a minimum, our shuls and mosdos are as essential as flying on a packed airplane or riding a packed subway car.

    I’ve never been prouder to visibly belong to my community. I’m proud that we’re finally seeing our elected officials for the useless chair-warmers that they are. And above all, I’m proud to visibly support the only politician in America that’s as unafraid as we are to do what’s right.

  20. Avatar
    Name Withheld

    I would like to thank Yisroel Besser for writing about Rabbi Bochner and his amazing organization, Bonei Olam. It is so important to make the general public aware of the struggles of couples who are desperately trying to have children of their own. The zechusim that Rabbi and Mrs Bochner have accumulated from all the children born as a result of their organization are unimaginable.

    The focus of many articles that talk about fertility and the focus of many organizations that help couples in fertility is the couples who do not have any children. It is a great and important need. However, there are so many couples who, baruch Hashem, have children but are desperate to have more. Many organizations will not help them financially, because they already have two children. Without financial aid, they are simply unable to pay for the treatment on their own.

    Of the many articles on the topic of fertility that I have read, none even discuss this aspect at all. Many people reading this may say that these couples should be grateful that they have any children and let the focus of fertility organizations remain on helping couples hoping for a first or second child. I would like to tell those people that although this struggle is nowhere near like the struggle of becoming parents for the first time, it is still a very big struggle, worry, and concern.

    Mishpacha writes about so many different important topics, and as a regular reader of this magazine, I would be very happy to see an article or a part of an article about the fertility struggle of small families. This would help people be more sensitive to those with small families, give chizuk to those going through it, and more importantly, it may encourage potential donors to support this cause.

    Thank you, Mishpacha, for discussing this important topic once again.

    Bonei Olam responds:

    Thank you for sharing your concerns. Secondary infertility is such a difficult nisayon and our hearts go out to all couples going through it. So often, the struggle is left unspoken and unfortunately minimized when we are not wearing the pain on our sleeve, but you know and we know that the struggle for the couples living it is so, so real.

    Bonei Olam receives an overwhelming amount of primary infertility calls, but we are constantly thinking of avenues through which we can help with secondary infertility as well. We have just launched a medication fund for secondary infertility treatments, in addition to our general services, which are not limited to primary infertility: consultations and guidance, referrals, access to doctors, expedited appointments, interest-free loans, and counselor support.

    For anyone looking for infertility help, call us at 718-373-2000. We are here to help you.

  21. Avatar
    A Distressed Reader

    I want to thank you for publishing this week’s article on the sad reality of sinas chinam based on politics. I am a 19-year-old girl who has been very hurt by thoughtless comments of a friend of mine.

    Someone in my family made the decision to vote for Biden, and, for some reason, this friend now looks down at me. She doesn’t stop making comments like, “I don’t understand how someone can call himself a Yid and then go and vote for Biden,” or “No normal Jew would vote Democrat.” It pains me to no end. Why do government politics have to become ours as well? Why do I have to feel like I am “not normal” or “goyish” because my family member voted for Biden?

    Thank you, Mishpacha, for raising this very important awareness.

  22. Avatar
    Binyomin Friedman

    Your fine article about Hillel Furstenberg mentioned in passing that he spent four years at the University of Minnesota. What the author did not mention — and could not have known — was the impact that Hillel and Rochel Furstenberg had on the small frum community of Minneapolis in those days.

    Hillel was loved not only as a near-perfect baal korei and outstanding substitute for the rabbi’s blatt shiur, but as a humble man of impeccable middos. It brought great pride to the community that “their” Hillel who proudly wore his yarmulke was respected in the academic world as an outstanding mathematician.

    In those days, parents such as mine — never having had a Torah education — struggled with their identities as frum Jews and their commitment to keep their children in day school. As a child I remember my parents marveling over the Furstenbergs whose secular achievements hadn’t diYour fine article about Hillel Furstenberg mentioned in passing that he spent four years at the University of Minnesota. What the author did not mention — and could not have known — was the impact that Hillel and Rochel Furstenberg had on the small frum community of Minneapolis in those days.

    Hillel was loved not only as a near-perfect baal korei and outstanding substitute for the rabbi’s blatt shiur, but as a humble man of impeccable middos. It brought great pride to the community that “their” Hillel who proudly wore his yarmulke was respected in the academic world as an outstanding mathematician.

    In those days, parents such as mine — never having had a Torah education — struggled with their identities as frum Jews and their commitment to keep their children in day school. As a child I remember my parents marveling over the Furstenbergs whose secular achievements hadn’t dimmed their Torah commitment one iota. The Furstenbergs were a shot of Jewish adrenaline to my parents and others to proudly raise Torah families.

    As I read your article all of this came back to me and I realized that the appointment of Hillel Furstenberg as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota was not an act of randomness but actually part of a great process.mmed their Torah commitment one iota. The Furstenbergs were a shot of Jewish adrenaline to my parents and others to proudly raise Torah families.

    As I read your article all of this came back to me and I realized that the appointment of Hillel Furstenberg as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota was not an act of randomness but actually part of a great process.

  23. Avatar

    I wanted to comment on the recent Friendship Fix, in which a woman who’s well-off worries that her long-standing friendship is coming to an end, since money keeps on coming between her and her struggling friend, with her friend constantly commenting on their financial disparity and complaining that she just doesn’t “get” her challenges.

    As someone on the other side of the coin, I believe I have a right to share my opinion. Finances have always been tight for my husband and I. They got even tighter now, when my husband and I both found ourselves out of a job due to Covid-19. I am frankly a little shocked by the “poor” friend’s behavior.

    Don’t get me wrong, this nisayon is huge for us. I’ve cried myself to sleep and beg Hashem to help us make ends meet. Almost all of my friends appear to be better off financially than us. But it never occurred to me to make them feel guilty about it. They certainly haven’t done anything wrong. It’s not their job to have to dance around me and walk on eggshells. We all have nisyonos. While my nisayon right now is financial, they may be going through a different challenge. Hashem has a master plan for all of us. No need to put our nisyonos on our friends who likely have their own struggles in life. (Of course, when needed, you should be reaching out to organizations and people who may be able to assist you in improving your financial situation.)

  24. Avatar
    Margaret E. Retter

    Rabbi Yeudah Kazsirer is the “911” for all in our frum world. Lest anyone believe that his “wings” extend only to the Lakewood Community, they would certainly be mistaken. It seems that wherever there is a need for help during an emergency or non-emergency, he is there on a moment’s notice solving the problem and /or working on a solution.

    Even before the COVID-19 virus struck our communities, Rabbi Kaszirer has been a “malach” for us all. If a man who has been admitted during an emergency in a hospital in New York, and has left his tallis and tefillin at home, one call to Rabbi Kazsirer’s phone will bring the patient his tallis and tefillin almost immediately. If a person from out of town suddenly needs five rooms for their family members to stay for Shabbos in Manhattan after the petirah of a loved one, only one call to Rabbi Kazsirer’s magic number provides five-star placement for an entire family only one hour before Shabbos with all the needs of Shabbos prepared, e.g. Shabbos lamps, reading material, heimishe cholent and immaculate sleeping arrangements. Further, food is delivered to many bikur cholim houses weekly, and care is given to all those in need.

    Calls to Rabbi Kazsirer with a myriad of questions are answered — even while he is in the air flying back and forth to the Mayo Clinic supplying serums and plasma. His help reaches so many, whether in New Jersey, New York, Florida, or across the globe and whether in an emergency or not, Rabbi Kazsirer’s phone is the number to call.

    May Hakadosh Baruch Hu give Rabbi Kazsirer the strength, patience, and foresight to continue helping ad meah v’esrim.

  25. Avatar
    Mrs. D. Fastag

    I would like to comment on Binyamin Rose’s excellent feature article about Yehiel Kalish. Not only was the article very well done, it also gives us a number of good mussar lessons.

    The Torah tells us to love Hashem with all our hearts, and all our souls and all our resources. Chazal tell us that this means that a Jew must be willing to sacrifice anything and everything he or she has, the things their hearts want most, and even their very lives, for the sake of Hashem. Yehiel Kalish did this when he gave up his seat in the state government because of his loyalty to Torah.

    I also appreciated the article’s points regarding discrimination and our mission as “ohr lagoyim.” As human beings and certainly as Jews, we must desire caring and justice for everyone, and remember that we must make a kiddush Hashem, always.

    I would like to add to Mr. Kalish’s words that taxing the rich to support the poor is “not antithetical to Torah.” He is very right, but not only is it not antithetical to Torah, it is very much in keeping with Torah. Few people know the Torah’s real view on this. The Kli Yakar on Vayikra 19:15 explains the words “Do not do an injustice in a law case” as saying that while it is incumbent on the rich to support the poor, it is forbidden to do this by making a rich person lose a law case when he is actually right. He says that although it is truly a matter of justice to have the rich support the poor, justice should be done in the court case “and at a different time he (the judge or government) should obligate the rich man to support him (the poor man).” So it is truly incumbent upon the rich to support the poor.

    Furthermore, according to Kol HaTor, the Vilna Gaon taught that the Gemara’s words in Sanhedrin 98a that ben Dovid will not come until all the measurements are equal, means that Mashiach ben Dovid will not come until there is economic equality (Kol HaTor P.34), no rich and no poor. He also explained the words of Yeshayahu, read on the Shabbos after Tishah b’Av, “every valley will be raised up and every mountain they will lower,” as meaning that every poor person will be raised and every rich one they will lower, in order to achieve economic equality. According to Kol HaTor, the Vilna Gaon taught that this equality will bring about the Geulah, as it says, “b’tzedakah tikonani” — you will be established through tzedakah, and that making an equal society is the highest form of tzedakah.

    I hope that Mr. Kalish and his family will truly be coming soon to Eretz Yisrael, together with all of Am Yisrael.

  26. Avatar
    Miriam Adahan

    The young woman in the Double Take story “Comfort Zone” is obviously on the spectrum, probably Asperger’s, a term which has since been replaced by various substitutes. She is super-sensitive to noise, feels no need to talk about her feelings with others, must be urged to form social connections but fails to maintain those connections, because she does not understand the effect of her behavior on others and does not show understanding or interest in people’s feelings, or her own, etc. This article screams out “autism,” although the word is not mentioned.

    The mother hopes to hide her daughter’s social deficits and just get her married off. I hope the future groom will not be deceived.

    In my experience, it’s best for two “Aspies” to marry each other. Otherwise, they will feel incredibly frustrated with each other, like a “kilayim” relationship in which a donkey and an ox are tethered to each other, each one tortured by a failure to have similar goals and needs.

    1. Avatar

      I am writing in response to Miriam Adahan’s assessment of the young woman portrayed in the Double Take story “Comfort Zone.”

      I think that with all due respect, Mrs. Adahan may have jumped to a hasty and possibly unjustified diagnosis. When I read the article, I found myself understanding both the grandmother, who would be happy to host her beloved granddaughter, and the granddaughter, who finds all the hustle and bustle in her own home overwhelming and who would love to spend more time with her grandmother.

      All of the supposed deficits are described by the mother, who seems to me to be pushy, relentless, undervaluing any opinion other than her own, and inconsiderate of the feelings of others. Her daughter’s teachers did not agree with her, her husband did not agree with her, but she forged on because she “knew better.”

      Why she thinks that her daughter is not normal for wanting to settle down and start college before jumping into shidduchim is beyond me! Who forces their child to start shidduchim at such a young age?!

      This young girl was made to feel from a very young age that she did not measure up in her mother’s opinion, that she does not have the sparkling personality of her sisters, etc. Perhaps this young woman is just more of an introvert, which is clearly not a disorder, simply a personality type.

      The young woman appears to me to be a mature person, who understands herself and her needs, despite having a mother who invalidates all of her opinions. Diagnosing this young woman as being “obviously on the spectrum” is insulting, and failing to see the whole picture. While Mrs. Adahan is a respected person with often valuable insights, she seems to have missed the mark on this one.

    2. Avatar
      A mom who knows

      I was so relieved to see Miriam Adahan’s letter in last week’s Inbox pointing out that the daughter in the Double Take story likely has Asperger’s — because that’s exactly what I was thinking as I read the story!

      I’m the mother of a similar daughter. Some people might say she is just very introverted, but I know there is a lot more going on. Females with Asperger’s usually present differently than males, and it takes awareness and courage to acknowledge the issue and pursue a diagnosis. My daughter might not have gotten the skills and help she needed if I would have dismissed it as, “oh, she’s just a real introvert.”

      Like it or not, we live in a very social-oriented society. The social cues and relationship skills that so many of us take for granted can be incredibly daunting for someone like my daughter to master. She wanted so badly to succeed in school and in her relationships but couldn’t read body language naturally, didn’t have the knowhow to keep a conversation going or to intuit when it’s over, and didn’t realize when her habits and likes or dislikes might be perceived as “off” to others.

      We’re doing our best to help her and have seen so much progress. But it starts with understanding the nature she was given — which of course also comes with amazing gifts, talents, and abilities. Most of us consider it terrible to label a child. But sometimes — like in my daughter’s case — a label is the key to getting important help. And sometimes — like in this Double Take story — ignoring a child’s unique nature, personality, gifts and yes, deficits, just guarantees a life of frustration.

  27. Avatar
    Name Withheld

    I’m wondering if there are others out there like me.

    I am excited for a Zoom wedding that I plan on attending tonight from the comfort of my home.

    I am excited that I can get dressed up at home, yet not feel awkward in heels wondering if my outfit is appropriate. I usually don’t wear black like everyone else, because I really don’t like the color.

    I am excited that I don’t have to drive anywhere. I don’t have to be nervous if I am late. I can even pop in on Zoom before the chuppah, after the chuppah or during dancing, and I can take a break from the wedding altogether if I need to.

    I am excited that I don’t have to make small talk with people who don’t really know me, or strain to hear the exciting conversation of those who are good at making small talk.

    I am excited that I don’t have to participate in the same boring dance that goes round and round dozens of times.

    I am excited that I don’t have to hold other people’s sweaty hands.

    I am excited that I don’t have to wonder when my chance will come to dance with the kallah, her mother, or her mother-in-law, and then wonder what I will say to the person I dance with. What do people say after “Mazal Tov! I’m so happy for you”?

    I do miss the intense tefillah experience that’s only available during the chuppah. I think that is the most important part.

    Is it odd that I am not excited for the other parts? I know it’s more appropriate to feel sad to miss out on weddings/simchas. I know most people will not understand these feelings, but I wanted to share because I do notice that the nice thing about the “Letters to the Editor” section of your magazine is that there will probably be at least one person who feels the same way I do and will write in. It validates what I feel and what others feel.

    So please accept my appreciation for your wonderful magazine. It feels like family — mishpachah!

  28. Avatar
    R. L.

    Every Pesach and Succos I await the Mega edition of the Mishpacha, as it is really good reading material for a long Yom Tov. But mostly I savor the time I can delve into the Calligraphy section and lose myself in the varied stories. The ending of Chanie Spira’s “Loud and Clear” hit a homerun. I miscarried last year what would have been my first child. Many well-meaning people said the same things Aviva was told in the story, but I too thought the same, and wasn’t fully appeased (are you ever?).

    But when her mom said, “You lost your baby — your baby!” I had tears streaming down my face. That simple statement epitomized all the anguish, fear, and loss of what the future may have held, and all the possibilities this little bundle would have given. I lost my baby, my child.

    Thank you Chanie Spira for writing what many (most?) of us felt and still feel after the loss of a pregnancy.

  29. Avatar
    Lea Pavel

    The debate in “Comfort Zone” is, does Chava want her child to be normal or to be happy?

    True, Devori is different from her other children, but reading her perspective you do not detect any unhappiness except when her mother is pushing her to do things she isn’t ready for. It’s not unreasonable for an 18-year-old to not want to date yet. Chava is catastrophizing that if Devori isn’t dating (or married) at the same time her older daughters were then she’ll . . . what? Be single forever?

    Some parents will try to shove a square peg child into a round hole, but that’s not what their role is. Yes, Chava was responsible in assisting Devori as a child with socializing therapy, but it’s a whole different ball game to believe that getting her married post-haste will “fix” her.

    Devori could be eased into the next stage in life, rather than dragged there kicking and screaming. And it’s a shame that Chava demonizes her mother-in-law’s influence, when to be fair, there is no influence. Bubby is quiet, Devori is quiet, and they enjoy being quiet together.

    It’s very possible Devori will have the same sort of relationship with her future husband, and be happy there as well. When she is ready.

  30. Avatar

    Thank you for recognizing the greatness of Professor Hillel (Harry) Furstenberg in last week’s Mishpacha. He not only is a great talmid chacham and a great mathematician, but also a most modest person.

    Harry was my chavrusa for two or three years in the high school of Yeshiva University (MTA). I remember two interesting stories about him: After suffering through the French regents during which I eked out a 78 after much struggle, I asked Harry how did he get a 100? He said, without even a smile, that he went through the review book over the weekend.

    I remember Harry wanting very much to build an ultimate movement machine, but he did not have the funds to buy the necessary parts. I gladly became his banker for the few dollars but never really got all the dividends from his great work, which he said was never completed successfully.

    I never understood why he wanted me as a chavrusa since I possessed nowhere near his intelligence. However, I know that despite what he said during the interview in Mishpacha he was able to understand Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik’s great shiurim very easily. He was one of three mathematicians in that shiur — the others were Dr. Sternberg, who I believe was in Harvard, and Dr. Lewittis, who is in CUNY.

    May he continue to be a shining light to all of Torah and Eretz Yisrael.

  31. Avatar
    Suri Blau

    As a long-time reader, I’m always impressed by the amount of thought and creativity that goes into your covers, which tell a story of their own. This respect was brought to a new level last week, when an interesting conversation broke out in my house among my children.

    Two weeks ago, my children could not stop commenting about the cover depicting Governor Cuomo, they kept saying he looks so creepy and scary, which was obviously intentional given the context of the story. My boys, who don’t read English and just had the picture to go with, observed that he looks “like a bad man.” This, of course, lead to an explanation of the events described in the article, and the prevailing sentiment in the Jewish community about the governor’s actions.

    A week later, one of my sons came across the new magazine late one evening and asked, “Who is this man? He looks like someone who loves everyone, someone I want to hug and just keep looking at. What does it say here about him? Tell me more!” Looking at the glowing face of Rabbi Shlomo Bochner shining out from your cover, I couldn’t agree more, and was more than happy to tell my son about the amazing things described in the article. After a few moments of staring at the cover, he said thoughtfully, “You know, last week’s and this week’s covers are two opposites, I can’t believe it’s the same magazine!”

    I think this underscores the talent of your design and editorial teams who craft the covers so skillfully, in a way that conveys a message beyond words. Indeed, that is the job of a magazine cover.

    But beyond that, it drove home that despite the fact that you sometimes have the tough job of depicting a negative story on your cover — an unavoidable reality in the magazine business — the Mishpacha that really touches our hearts is the one that portrays the Rabbi Bochners of the world. Often, the former genre is a bigger journalistic accomplishment, and maybe those covers get more buzz. But the value of the latter cannot be underplayed, for they reflect the very essence of what is really precious to the community you serve.

    Keep up the great work!

  32. Avatar
    Chaya Fisch

    Ding’s nostalgic piece about the golden oldies really touched me. Not only did it bring me back in time to when Jewish music forged a new path, but it touched me even more personally because my brother Y’rachmiel Zweig a”h was one of those who helped forge it.
    As a young girl, I often accompanied him to his jam sessions in the basement of Leib and Moshe Konig on 54th Street in Boro Park. There I was truly among the “greats,” including the Lamm brothers.
    Although my brother was incredibly talented, I think that he sometimes felt that he wasn’t worthy of the same accolades that some of the other musicians received. I would just like to thank you for including him with the pioneers of yesteryear and giving him the credit he so duly deserved. I’m sure he would’ve been smiling from ear to ear.

  33. Avatar
    Daniel Jacobson

    I enjoy Yehuda Geberer’s and Dovi Safier’s For the Record column and it is one of the first items I flip to each week. I was particularly interested in Yehuda Geberer’s “The Rabbi, The Ambassador & The Mythical Curse” insert in the “A Plague On Their House?” article, since Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson was my great-uncle. Although I had heard the story of Rabbi Jacobson cursing Joseph Kennedy before, Yehuda’s insert prompted me to do my own research.
    Yehuda dismissed the Rabbi Jacobson story because in 1937 (when the story allegedly took place) Rabbi Jacobson was not fleeing the Nazis, Joseph Kennedy was not yet ambassador to the UK, and Rosh Hashanah did not occur during the voyage. While all this is true of the 1937 trip, as it happened there was another trip.
    On September 11, 1939 — just days after Germany invaded Poland — the S.S. George Washington set sail from Le Havre, France with virtually every available section of the ship converted into sleeping quarters to make room for US citizens fleeing Europe. The ship docked in New York harbor on September 18, the 5th of Tishrei. Rabbi Jacobson was one of the 1,746 passengers escaping the Nazis and was on board during Rosh Hashanah. And so were the Kennedys!
    Joseph’s wife Rose and children Kathleen “Kick,” Eunice, and Robert are listed on the ship manifest and reported in the newspapers as being on the ship. Although Joseph stayed behind in London, might I suggest a slight variation to the story: Perhaps it was Rose who objected to the davening and the curse was directed at her and her progeny.

  34. Avatar
    A Jew in Pain

    Gedalia Guttentag’s honest appraisal of our communal failure to adhere to public health guidelines was a welcome counterbalance to the more pronounced narrative that we are victims of government anti-Semitism. Yes, even if the government’s treatment of the resurgence of COVID in our communities is unfair, we will get nowhere without actually changing our behavior and adhering to guidelines.
    The fact is that as a community, we made serious mistakes. We ignored recognized medical experts and flouted public health guidelines. The frum media discussed COVID as if it were a thing of the past rather than face the reality that it is still very much present.
    When are we going to unequivocally take responsibility for our errors? When are we going to have the maturity and self-confidence to admit that we were wrong? Even if the government’s treatment were more fair, we still would have to admit that our disregard for public health guidelines was a major contributor to the uptick in cases and that a change in attitude and behavior is long overdue.
    The discussion shouldn’t be focused on whether mosdos will remain open or not, or whether the government is being fair or not. It should be on whether we recognize and take responsibility for what we have done.

  35. Avatar

    In D.N. Golding’s review of the 60’s Pirchei albums, Mr. Golding omitted two very important players on two of the albums, Pirchei Sings Eilecha, 1966, and Pirchei Sings Ani Maamin, 1968.
    Board of directors members and codirectors, Ari Verschleiser and Menachim Shimanowitz, both sang in the bass harmony section, and “spent a great amount of time and immensely helped in arranging this record,” as quoted on the back of the Eilecha jacket.
    Ari and I scouted yeshivos to find talent. Among our finds was the soloist, the late Judge Noach Dear a”h.
    Chopped liver, indeed.

  36. Avatar
    D. C.

    This week was only the second time in the history of my many years of reading the Mishpacha that the cover story actually disturbed my menuchas Shabbos. As one who follows the news closely, I have been reading and hearing all about the situation in New York State and having to look at the picture of their governor actually turned my stomach.
    Of course, I understand the necessity, the same way I understood the importance of covering the pandemic with intensity at its onset, despite the distaste and sadness it brought to those of us who read the magazine on Shabbos.
    However, I take offense to the question posed in large letters at the beginning of the article asking whether the rift can ever be repaired. The real question Jews should be asking themselves is: should it?
    It’s going to be two years before the Jews in New York go to the polls to elect a new governor, and I hope with all my heart that no one ever forgets the way the governor spoke to our community and about our community. The way he went on national news and talked about how politically powerful we are and how no one follows the rules. The way he intentionally targeted us to make sure that no one could celebrate our Yom Tov legally even in a safe manner.
    Regardless of your position on wearing masks, whether you think the majority or minority of Jews are following social distancing or are not, and even if you think that maybe it was okay for Cuomo to draw red lines around these frum neighborhoods, as a Jew I hope you never forget the way he targeted your brothers and sisters in a way he targeted no others — only because they are Jewish.
    And I hope you remember, too, that at the end of the day these brothers and sisters are the only ones you can truly rely on to drop everything and help you in sickness and in health, in birth and in death — and vote accordingly.

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    Rabbi Ari Klapper

    I was very excited to read the article on Rabbi Kleinman of L’man Achai, which brought me back almost 20 years.
    I was a bochur at the time, learning in Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim, when a friend asked if I would stay after seder about once a week to learn with a Bukharian boy who was coming with his rebbi and a group of his classmates to the yeshivah. I was surprised to see this very obviously looking chassidish man with a group of boys, many of whom didn’t look very religious. But when I started to learn with them (one on one, and many times switching depending on who came that week), I saw an incredible desire in their eyes, and also heard it when they spoke.
    These were boys who were starting off with almost nothing. Once, I asked Rabbi Kleinman what I should learn with one whom I had never met before. He said to learn with him what the words of Shemoneh Esreh mean. On other occasions he said to just read Chumash and explain it.
    But oh did these boys grow! There is one incident I will never forget. It was Friday night in the dead of winter and the temperatures in Queens were way below freezing. It was an in-Shabbos that week and many of the yeshivah bochurim were taking advantage of the early nightfall to learn after the Shabbos seudah. While I was sitting there learning, a boy whom I had learned with many times from L’man Achai, named Bechor, walked in. I was shocked when I saw him because I knew he didn’t live in the area and I wondered where he was staying for Shabbos. He told me he had walked from his home in Lefrak City — about an hour and a half away — because he wanted to learn and he didn’t have a beis medrash nearby. He didn’t know where he would sleep but, he was driven by the intense desire to learn Torah on Leil Shabbos. (In the end a few of the bochurim in the yeshiva got together to get him a bed and linen for him to sleep in the dorm.)
    This is just one example of the fire for Torah and avodas Hashem that Rabbi Kleinman ignited (and continues to ignite) in these heilige neshamos. I am proud to say that I was zocheh to be mishtatef a little bit in his amazing work. He should be zocheh to many more years of bringing our brothers back tachas kanfei HaShechinah.

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    I was very disappointed by your article about Governor Cuomo’s recent shutdowns in our communities. While I agree that the words he used and the actions he took were extreme, writing a full article about it without taking any responsibility does us no favors.
    Although summer numbers were extremely low, leading to a false sense of security, no official rules or guidelines were changed, and yet our communities decided to open again as if no pandemic was still raging. Many local yeshivos opened with a complete disregard for rules about masks and distancing. Kiddushim, bar mitzvahs, and weddings have been held with large crowds and no masks. Although cases were already rising, when the Yamim Tovim came around, so many shuls and yeshivos opened with no rules in place.
    And the protests are even worse! Your article barely made mention of these protests, but what a complete chillul Hashem. This is not how frum Jews behave. This is not how we respond to crises. I’ve seen videos of people accusing DOH officials and others of acting like Nazis, which is absolutely despicable. Not only does such an accusation cheapen the Holocaust and cheapen anti-Semitism, but it certainly doesn’t help our cause.
    As mentioned in a tiny blurb in your news section, instead of railing against the authorities and complaining of anti-Semitism, we should be turning inward and complying — to protect ourselves, our families, our communities, and our mission to be mekadeish sheim Shamayim.

    1. Avatar
      R. Soffer

      Thank you for covering the chaotic confusion, bungling mismanagement, and overt malice we New Yorkers have been living with over the past few weeks. Somehow, I didn’t expect the reaction I found in this week’s Inbox and it left me deeply troubled.

      Biased local politicians and national media spotlighting only our community’s bad actors is exactly how we got into this situation in the first place. While there may be merit to the concerns about lack of compliance in our community, expressing only one-dimension of the truth is divisive and damaging.

      What about all the schools and shuls who demonstrated exemplary actions in spite of the ever-changing onslaught, and at times, contradictory government regulations, medical research findings, and community needs? What about all the “walk-by” bar-mitzvah boys and “backyard” couples who literally curbed their simchahs for the health of their neighbors?

      Personally, I would like to extend my deep appreciation for my own children’s schools — Torah Academy for Girls in Far Rockaway and Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island. The hours of collaboration and strategizing, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and overwhelming dedication to my children allowed for school to start in September with safety precautions beyond CDC dictates. Contrary to your reader’s response, all the schools in our community took similar measures to open safely.

      The teachers, our true heroes, rose to a challenge their better-compensated public school counterparts refused, and prepared to nurture our children after six months of lockdown with open hearts and minds. They continue their holy work, persevering through a never-ending blitz of health policy changes and switching teaching modalities on a dime between in-person, phone conference, Zoom, and every combination and permutation of the three.

      As Mishpacha has already done, we as a community need to highlight and applaud all these incredible people, instead of brushing them off because their stories are not sensational news.

  39. Avatar

    While reading some recent articles in Mishpacha, I noticed what I would consider to be a common thread: differences between today and years past; an ability to love unconditionally.

    Rabbi Eytan Kobre wrote about the way past generations had the courage and clarity to see and discuss their differences in opinion, and not focus on externals, while retaining their respect, as noted in articles and letters penned in the Jewish Observer. The detailed article about Rabbi Trenk and the cover story about Rabbi Gissinger, both laud their courage and clarity in loving their talmidim, and really everyone, no matter where they were holding, and Rabbi Bensoussan consistently reiterates and portrays this sentiment.

    I beg, I implore the mechanchim — the rebbeim, the menahalim, the roshei yeshivah — of our generation; please don’t pass over these articles, skim through them, shake your heads in wonder and say “that was a different world.” It is true; we are living in a different world. A world where our children are more confused and are weaker, and need more understanding and more love; less discerning and focusing on the small details, until they are strengthened. They need true unconditional love above all else.

    We are losing far too many precious neshamos. And far too many Yiddishe mothers are crying. I am pleading with you to take the words and messages of those who are not with us anymore to heart. You hold an awesome privilege and responsibility. Have the courage to love your talmidim. Even when it isn’t easy. Even when there are differences. Children see and feel the truth, and they respond to true love.

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    Y.M. Goldstein

    Thanks for a brilliant article about the Sadigerer Rebbe ztz”l. As longtime Golders Green residents we had a close connection to the Rebbe, and if I may daresay, we held a special place in his heart. The article truly created a portrait of a great person.

    A couple of points: The Rebbe always considered himself primarily a talmid of Hagaon Rav Dovid Povarsky, rather than Rav Shmuel and Rav Shach. This paragon of Ruzhiner humility was drawn to the Kelmer humility of Rav Dovid, especially to his pedantic way of covering the complete thoroughness of the sugya without focusing on “arum and arum” which defined the other Roshei Yeshivah.

    (In fact, the Rebbe told us in private conversation that he wanted to learn under the Gramad HaLevi shlita in Brisk, and he was even farhered and accepted. He was amused when many years later, a neighbor’s child went to learn there and related to the Rebbe that when he was introduced to the Gramad he remarked, “a grandchild of the Sadigerer Rebbe was accepted into my yeshivah 30 years ago and he didn’t come.” The story, besides displaying the Gramad’s remarkable memory, also showed the impression the young lamdan made on an adam gadol.)

    The rebbe will undoubtedly be remembered by the neighbors for the stories he told the children after the weekly Chevra Tehillim. At the time it seemed normal to us that a future rebbe, a moreh hora’ah and Ponevezher talmid — and a gvir — would devote Shabbos afternoon to relating stories to English schoolcap-wearing children who were not part of his kehillah.

    His impeccable kibbud av va’eim toward his parents-in-law will always be remembered. He split his seemingly expandable time between Stamford Hill and Golders Green, always allowing a couple of children to spend the Seder with his shver, as rebbe even leaving the chassidim for Yamim Tovim so that his wife, a bas yechidah, would be able to take care for her father.

    His clarity of hashkafah was remarkable, and virtually unmatched in the UK. As rebbe, he clearly delineated the difference for Sadigerer chassidim between true ahavas Eretz Yisrael — a bedrock of his father’s life — and Zionism, was actively involved in the Moetzes, and spoke strongly against the draft attempts in Eretz Yisrael without endorsing all the demonstrations.

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    Rachel T.

    As a daughter of a Lakewood COVID survivor, I found myself nodding along with your article on the Lakewood Bikur Cholim. But much to my dismay, two of the most integral people in our Bikur Cholim journey were almost not mentioned in the article at all!

    While everything that you said about others is true, there was absolutely no mention of a tzaddik named Shloimy, a quiet unassuming tzaddik who gave lev v’nefesh during corona for Klal Yisrael. And while your article briefly mentioned Leeba Lederer, you didn’t begin to come close to describing the amazing feats of this selfless woman.

    Both Shloimy and Miss Leeba Lederer were the amazing shluchim that Hashem sent to us to help keep our father alive.

    One day, while I was talking to my father on the phone (me talking, him gasping) he said “I see a Bais Yaakov girl waving to me!” He was ecstatic to see a frum person in the hospital.

    While Shloimy had dozens of much sicker patients than my father on his roster, he kept me up to speed on my father’s condition. He always made sure to listen to my concerns and address them like we were the only family in the world.

    On the second day of Yom Tov, while most people were sitting down to have their meal, plasma treatment became a real possibility at Jersey Shore. Who do you think made the medical and ethical arrangements to get my father on the list? Shloimy and Leeba.

  42. Avatar
    Freda Birnbaum

    I held off on commenting on the recent Double Take, waiting to see what other people thought. Not seeing any responses in the just-arrived issue, I’ve decided to weigh in.

    It is a tough call to balance the needs of an individual against the needs of the whole community. Sometimes it seems like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.

    I recall years ago, how a good friend who was active in an outreach minyan was very hospitable about taking in people like Luzzy. She finally wised up and realized that the outreach rabbi was cherry-picking the interesting newcomers and sending the “Luzzys” to her, when her teenage daughters (very fine and serious young women) said to her, “Please, Ima, stop having these people — they are ruining Shabbos.” And she stopped. Regretfully, but realizing that her children did come first.

    I also remember a long-ago very successful outreach rabbi who wisely took his wife’s condition seriously: One Shabbos a month is wife-and-family Shabbos, no guests.

    No question, both positions here have what to claim. But sometimes we have to watch out that our mitzvos don’t adversely affect other people’s situations. and clearly, the kindness to Luzzy wasn’t effecting any improvement in his condition.

  43. Avatar

    As a Chicagoan, your cover story regarding the Chevron massacre caught my eye. I was thankful to read additional details regarding these kedoshim. As noted in the article, the history of Chevron Yeshiva and Chicago are intertwined. A disproportionate number of Slabodka talmidim became rabbanim in our city, including the former rav of my shul, Rabbi Ephraim Epstein.

    In your article you mention the 300 dunam purchased by Jack Wexler’s father. My friend, Mr. Eric Rothner, owns a letter written by Rav Moshe Mordechai Epstein to the rav of Yerushalayim, Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, where Rav Epstein too expresses his inability to approach Mr. Wexler and asks that Rabbi Sonnefeld write a letter comforting the family and requesting the family donate the orchards to the yeshivah. We can only assume that this request was granted and that it serves as an everlasting aliyas neshamah.

    In addition, no mention of the massacre would be complete without a short mention of the tzaddik Rabbi Dovid Winchester, who was stabbed 13 times and left for dead. With rachamim from Shamayim, Rabbi Winchester recovered and dedicated his life to chesed. Rabbi Winchester was the paradigm tzaddik, a malach of a person, who dedicated himself completely to others, whose paycheck needed to be diverted so that he would not give it entirely to those less fortunate.

    May these kodshim be meilitzim yesharim for all of Klal Yisrael.

  44. Avatar
    Yitzchak Braun

    I enjoyed Eytan Kobre’s column on the respectful dialogue in the Jewish Observer. It’s definitely true that back in those days the yeshivah world was less frightened to provide a print platform to people who didn’t agree with our hashkafos. And it’s probably true that people back then had firmer backbones when it came to frumkeit.

    But there are some other realities to take into account.

    The first is the implications of giving someone a print platform. For better or for worse, it is currently considered problematic to allow people with different hashkafos access to a platform. Readers assume that their frum reading material is a sort of “safe space” where they are guaranteed insulation from views outside the mainstream yeshivah approach. The way these readers see things, if a person or hashkafah appears in a frum publication, the assumption is that they’re kosher. The very act of giving them space is seen as tacit approval for their views.

    The other changed reality is that today, the conversation itself is seen as a problem. We no longer have the moral clarity or confidence in our views to have a dialogue with someone who feels differently. We don’t want to weaken our confidence in our own hashkafos by reading an articulate presentation of a different approach.

    It’s easy to shake our heads and say “what a weak generation this is,” but really, what do you gain from exposing yourself to very articulate, convincing columns urging you to reexamine the Torah hashkafa that you learned from your family, yeshivah, and rebbeim? Isn’t it smarter and safer not to have the conversation at all?

    1. Avatar
      Name Withheld

      I am sure I am not the only reader who felt compelled to reply to the question at the end of the inbox letter, “Keep it Safe.” The letter writer asked: “What do you gain from exposing yourself to very articulate, convincing columns… Isn’t it smarter and safer not to have the conversation?”

      While I do not think the answer is a resounding “No,” it most certainly is not a definite “Yes” either.

      In a world where conflicting views circulate constantly, we cannot fool ourselves into thinking that this will be someone’s first introduction to foreign ideas (unless you are a Yerushlami family living in Meah Shearim who does not buy Mishpacha magazine.) Having open conversations in a frum publication where there can be valid responses, and a filtering process to exclude articles which would be seriously anti-Torah, could be very beneficial.

      What do you gain?

      Rather than challenging our views, discussions with people of different hashkafos can help us define our own views in a more solid way, so that when faced with adversity in the “real world,” we know what to answer. Da ma le’hashiv. The point that “we no longer have the moral clarity or confidence in our views to have dialogue with someone who feels differently” is not something we should readily accept.

      When I was in seminary, we had a powerful and thought-provoking class with a prominent chinuch personality, who showed us how to analyze articles written across the hashkafic spectrum. We read them on our own, discussed them in class, and were taught to rethink our assumptions both of the writer and of our own principles. Never once do I recall that our teacher gave us his own opinion on anything, and yet, because we had firm hashkafos already rooted in us from other classes and experiences, we did not come out confused. We came out more confident in our views, and more knowledgeable of why those views were correct. And no, this was not 30 years ago. Maybe we can give our current students and children a little more credit to have these conversations?

      “Readers assume that their frum reading material is a sort of safe place where they are guaranteed insulation.” This may be their assumption, but it’s not the truth — and we can’t bring up this generation to believe this is the case. Our hashkafos come from classic seforim, rebbeim, and parents, not from journals and magazines. Not from the articles, the ads, nor the letters to the editor.

      Yes, we can play it safe. But having such conversations — ones which help us better understand our views in a society which will constantly challenge them — is at least something to consider.

    2. Avatar
      Shoshi Lewin

      I am writing in response to the letter by Reb Yitzchok Braun related to how the Jewish Observer provided a platform to address people with various hashkafos and respond to them from the Torah view. His letter asked the readers multiple questions, including “what do you gain from exposing yourself to very articulate, convincing columns urging you to reexamine the Torah hashkafah you learned from your family, yeshivah, and rebbeim? Isn’t it smarter and safer not to have the conversation at all?”

      I would like to respond to his powerful questions. I think that having this kind of opportunity to reevaluate your hashkafos builds them up. Seeing and listening to daas Torah respond in an articulate and powerful way to questions that you might not have thought of, or questions that you might have lingering in your kishkes, builds you up. It helps you develop a better understanding of why you think the way you do, why you act the way you do, why you believe the way you do. It gives you the peace of mind to know that you are doing something because you have understanding that there is a G-d who runs the world, and there are people who have such a deep understanding of His Torah that they can answer whatever questions are thrown at them.

      I am not afraid of reexamining; I am afraid of the consequences of people telling Torah Jews that we need to pretend that we need to act on blind faith. That is not the Torah way, as far as I have learned. I am concerned that as a result we would be chas v’shalom alienating our own brethren, rather than normalizing trying to understand things better — because we have answers.

      As an aside, I have noted that even among non-religious Jews, there is a great interest in participating in “Question and Answer Sessions with the Rabbi.” It is a popular topic. We are as a group a deeply thinking people, and this type of forum is often used in kiruv. As there is a current trend towards “kiruv kerovim,” we should appreciate how essential this approach can be.

  45. Avatar

    I read with growing interest the True Account feature on the yeshivah administrator being unjustly fired, then finding redemption through saving his former employer’s life. While it has a “happy ending,” I fear the moral of the story might get lost on your readership.

    The pain and suffering this administrator endured is actually much more common than we’d like to believe. The goings-on inside mosdos, whether yeshivish, Modern Orthodox, or chassidic, are usually hidden from the public eye. This story sheds a small light on a very disturbing topic.

    We all know that in the world at large, people get fired from jobs for the wrong reasons. Jealousy, slander, and innuendos all can contribute to an otherwise successful employee’s termination. Yet it happens in our world too. A few months ago I received a call from a yeshivah bochur who lamented that his rebbi was fired from his position. There might have been cause for his firing. However, a letter got sent to the entire parent body before they even notified the rebbi!

    If we pride ourselves on concepts such as “v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha,” then we would do well to consider that firing a menahel, rebbi, nursing home chaplain, kashrus administrator, or a rosh kollel without an evaluation, due process, and with at least basic respect is likely a violation of that mitzvah. Everyone can make mistakes, true, but with the exception of moral turpitude, everyone deserves the ability to be assessed and given the opportunity to change. If after a number of months, the situation does not improve or deteriorates, that’s a different story. But more times than not, the individual is not even given the opportunity to fail — let alone succeed!

    In over 15 years as a consultant to schools and nonprofit organizations, I have saved countless positions, thus saving the dignity of the menahalim and administrators as well as saving the mosad needless expenses caused by the turnover and leadership changes. My book The Nonprofit Secret: The Six Principles of Successful Board/CEO Partnerships has tools to implement ways of evaluating your leaders with kavod and empathy.

    The unsurprising truth is that most of my clients have been non-Jewish, or non-frum. It is time the olam hayeshivos looks at this issue seriously and transparently and we can then avoid the suffering of our fellow Yidden that hides in plain sight.

  46. Avatar

    I have never written a letter to the editor before, but when I saw the piece about Rav Hershel Schachter and the Israeli taxi driver, I had to write in.

    My husband and I lived in Washington Heights for the first few years of our marriage, where my husband learned in Rav Schachter’s kollel in Yeshiva University. When we first heard this story years ago, we wrote a kvittel to Rav Schachter to ask him to daven for us to be blessed with children. It was Erev Rosh Hashanah. A year and a month and a day later, our bechor was born.

  47. Avatar
    Dr. Raizy Nathan

    As someone with very sweet memories of Camp Yeshiva Staten Island, “The Road through Real Life” resonated. The camp has an attached bungalow colony and I was privileged to spend two lovely summers there when I was a high school girl. Rebbetzin Shelia (as she introduced herself) was quite the role model.

    A slight, however important, correction is in order. You article states that “the Rebbetzin worked hard, she taught, and then she became a school principal in the Shaare Torah girls’ division.”

    If I may. Rebbitzen Shelia spent most of her working years within the NYCDOE public school system as a teacher and principal of P.S. 48 in Staten Island. Rebbetzin Feinstein expected a lot of her staff and they adored her. She was the perfect example of how a frum woman should be mekadeish sheim Shamayim wherever they are. Her work in Shaare Torah was after she retired from the public school position.

  48. Avatar
    Morris Engelson

    In last week’s Double Take we are faced with the problem of a somewhat deranged individual, Luzzy, who imposes himself upon the congregation to the extent that something must be done about it.

    We are all familiar with the problem, though not at this intensity. But the story, in my opinion, is incomplete. We need a sequel. Fortunately, the seeds of a sequel appear in the same issue of Mishpacha in the story about the Klausenberger Rebbe, starting on page 162. The Rebbe miraculously survived the Holocaust while in the deadliest camps, including Auschwitz, but his entire family perished. There are numerous stories about this amazing person; some in multiple versions. Here is one that fits the issue raised in Double Take.

    The Rebbe was present soon after the war where there was a loud commotion, as a young man was shouting and screaming words that Luzzy used: “It’s not true! It’s all a pack of lies.” No one could calm him down, and people were about to eject him from the premises. But the Klausenberger Rebbe got him to stop with the promise that he would listen to anything the young man wanted to say in the privacy of the office.

    Privately the young man explained that he had been a rebellious teenager. He did not accept any rules, and he openly violated all commandments. Then the Holocaust came, and his parents and little brothers and sisters, who faithfully adhered to all they were taught perished while he, the open apikorus, survived. If anyone deserved punishment it was he, but he survived. “So, you see — it’s all a pack of lies,” he said. “There is no Judge and there is no justice.”

    Then the young man started crying. And the Klausenberger Rebbe responded by telling his own story about his rebbetzin and 11 children – pure as malachim – all perished while he survived. The Rebbe was crying, and the young man was crying. And they consoled each other with their tears.

    So, in our story Luzzy disturbs the congregation and behaves inappropriately. Why? Apparently, he’s had a difficult life but we don’t know any details, and nobody bothers to find out. Luzzy can’t sing and he slurs and mispronounces some words. But nevertheless, he has the experience and knowledge to daven from the amud. That does not happen by itself. There is a background and a history — a story — here. Possibly the problem would solve itself if only we knew the story. We need a Klausenberger Rebbe-type person to whom Luzzy would be willing to tell his story.

    Who could that person be? I look forward to the sequel.

  49. Avatar
    Gitel Moses

    I must comment on the piece that went into the magazine about Luzzy and his coming — or not coming — to shul.

    What did it look like, dear friends, when we were all being oleh regel? It was everyone. It was not just the elitists or the ‘haves.’ It was not only the talmidei chachamim and the rabbis. It was everyone. The mothers, the fathers, the kids — including the ones who were interesting, strange, and different. The Briskers and the kids at risk all sharing the same walkways…

    That means the guy with the earring, the guy with the blue hair and the half-shaved head and the tattoos and the jeans standing next to the shtreimel and the kippah serugah — and in one building, too, not in individual shtiblach.

    In my childhood shul, there was a woman who was a Holocaust survivor. She was a very capable and very bright woman who came to shul every week. At a certain point in time she “lost it” and became mentally unwell. Every once in a while she would have an outburst and would force her way into the men’s section — usually when they would open the aron kodesh, and she would either sing something or say something about the government or against Hitler.

    It was extremely difficult and very disruptive. The gabbaim knew to look out for her. She was very determined, but after a few minutes she would allow herself to be escorted out and the davening would resume. This same woman would, on occasion, come to community events and have a similar outburst as well.

    One Erev Yom Kippur the rabbi arrived at shul a few minutes early and noticed a security guard posted at the entrance. Upon inquiring further, the guard told the rabbi that he had been hired by the board to prevent the woman from entering the shul. The rabbi asked him how much he was being paid. When he told him, the rabbi went into the shul and came out with the sum of money that he had been promised and sent him on his way.

    The Kol Nidrei speech that evening was about recognizing and accepting who and what people are, and how we treat everyone — healthy and well — and especially those who are not healthy and well. It is what a community and a shul is all about. Even if and when they are disruptive, even when it is not easy and it is not pleasant.

    That woman had a husband and children, and sometimes we have to learn compassion through someone else’s eyes.

  50. Avatar
    Laura E.

    I was dismayed to read this week’s “Double Take,” in which a gabbai justifies banning a mentally ill man from a congregation, because “chesed can’t come at the expense of our rav’s kavod and the community’s comfort.”

    But when has comfort ever justified avoiding a mitzvah? It didn’t work when Yonah tried to use it to avoid his obligations toward the people of Ninveh, and it won’t work for us. Indeed, if performing chesed were not at times extraordinarily difficult, we would not need to be commanded to perform it.

    Our tradition warns many times what can happen when we act this way. In Gittin (55-56), the Gemara explains that Jerusalem itself was destroyed on account of embarrassing a hostile guest at a feast, Bar Kamtza, who was accidentally invited instead of the host’s friend, Kamtza.

    During the time of year we are asked to perform teshuvah, tzedakah, and chesed, is justification for turning away a Jew in need on the basis of our comfort really the message we want to send?

  51. Avatar
    Eli Neuberger

    Normally I’m not the emotional type, but the gut-wrenching and tragic article by Dovi Safier literally moved me to tears. Much praise for his thorough and well-researched piece that makes history come alive. One can only hope that he keeps producing such high-quality pieces and that Mishpacha keeps running them.

    One can’t help but marvel at the idealism and enthusiasm displayed by these American boys who traveled across the world to learn Torah. On a personal note, in my all-too-infrequent visits to Israel, I make it my business to pay a visit to Rebbetzin Leah Finkel, the widow of Rav Nosson Tzvi, may she live and be well. Once we were discussing the phenomenon of the German and American boys who came to the Mir: Despite their not being up to par with the academic level of their Eastern-European counterparts, they were able to grow rapidly in their learning and took inspiration from their experience by the fistfuls — and, as was the case with my German-born grandfather, were able to transmit that inspiration to their grandchildren.

    I suggested that it’s comparable to the Gemara in Chagigah (13b) describing the difference between the nevuah of Yeshayahu and Yechezkel. The nevuah of Yechezkel is compared to a villager who goes to the big city and sees the king; when he returns to his village he is more than happy to regal the town with every detail of his experience. Yeshayahu, in contrast, is like a city dweller who is much more accustomed to seeing the king.

    One can see from the letters that these boys wrote from Chevron and from my conversations with the foreigners that learned in the Mir, that one is capable of growing exponentially if he is willing to make such commitments.

    May the memory of the martyrs from Chevron continue to inspire all of us.

  52. Avatar
    Judy Green

    What an inspirational story was shared last week about the eight American boys that were killed in the 1929 Hebron massacre.

    I was zocheh to be the great-niece of David (Aaron Dovid) Shainberg H”yd from Memphis, Tennessee. He was a special soul and became a baal teshuvah in his early 20s, learning as much as he could from a rav in Memphis. When the rav felt that David had progressed as far as he could in Memphis, he suggested that he go to learn in either New York or Eretz Yisrael, and my great uncle chose the Holy Land.

    He was so inspired by his short-lived time here that he would send deeply expressive letters about the holiness and beauty of our sacred land on a regular basis to his family. It’s so tragic that he was murdered as he was in the process of becoming a true talmid chacham.

    I became a baalas teshuvah as well, at a young age, and my grandmother would tell me many stories about my Uncle Dave. Although so sad that he was taken at a young age, I was so inspired to know that I had an uncle who died in Eretz Yisrael, al kiddush Hashem. I was not only connected but in awe of him!

    My grandmother told me that the night that Uncle Dave died, her family was away at their grandmother’s home. The neighbors had called the police because a shadow was seen moving through their home, although no one was there. The police came and found nothing. However, the next day, when my grandmother’s family found out that Uncle Dave passed away, they realized it was at that same time that the shadow was seen in their home.

    Because of this deep connection I had with my martyred uncle, I actually named my first son for him, Aharon. (We could not use the name Dovid because that’s my husband’s name.) May Aharon be zocheh to live his life al kiddush Hashem, until 120.

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    Thank you, Rabbi Leuchter, for your incredible insights and practical approaches in bringing Hashem into our lives and helping us rise to greater spiritual stature. Your latest article, “It’s best to start with one mitzvah that speaks to us,” was very timely and hit home in many ways.
    If I may humbly suggest that this project in avodas Hashem would be an excellent opportunity for parents to inspire their children in their spiritual development. This can be done with both components of the project. With the first component learning about the mitzvah, parents can learn directly with their children or have them choose an area they can prepare and share. With the second component, experiencing the mitzvah, parents can invite their children to join them, or they can help their children create their own unique experience doing the mitzvah.
    The outbreak of COVID-19 has provided parents with the opportunity to serve Hashem at home where their children can witness their commitment to avodas Hashem and serve as a role model for many mitzvos that are not usually done at home.

  54. Avatar

    Kudos to Rabbi Eytan Kobre for his amazing article regarding my nephew, Rabbi Yehudah Kaszirer. Rabbi Kaszirer wears many hats, not only as the head of Bikur Cholim, but also with his willingness to handle every aspect of its operation.

    Rabbi Kobre mentions that it’s no surprise, since he grew up in a home where chesed was an everyday occurrence. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It must be noted that Rabbi Kaszirer had the zechus to have grandparents who paved the way. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust: Reb Yitzchok Kaszirer a”h and his wife shetichyah, and Reb Berel Ostreicher and wife a”h were the ones who trailblazed the “beyond your comfort zone” attitude. After the war, they opened their three-room attic apartment to the sick and broken-hearted survivors, feeding them, clothing them, and providing a listening ear. We children gave up our beds and slept on the floor, so that these lost hurting souls could sleep in a bed. Chesed was the main subject we were taught in our house.

    They planted the seeds, which in turn grew with their children. Now baruch Hashem, the next generation continues in their paths.

    Yes, Yehudah, your zeidys and babi are shepping great nachas in Gan Eden; the garden that they started after the war continues to flourish. Aleh v’hatzlach.

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    As I read the list of Heroes of the Year I was disappointed to see an important group missing. Of course each one of these four groups did an unbelievable job day after day during incredibly scary and stressful times. But these heroes mostly handled the physical aspect of the quarantine nisayon. The heroes of the ruchniyus state of Klal Yisrael were undoubtedly the yeshivah bochurim, who continued to shteig daily even when they were plucked out of their batei midrashim.

    The bochurim who shteiged in basements, attics, porches, and sheds. The bochurim who shteiged with younger siblings squabbling in the background. The bochurim who shteiged without in-person chavrusas and rebbeim to hold them up. It would have been easy and understandable to sleep late and batel the day away, but they found inner strength to continue shteiging as if they were actually still in yeshivah.

    These guys deserve credit for shouldering the pillar of limud Torah that holds up Klal Yisrael all the time, but especially during uncertain times. As a bochur myself, of course my rebbeim and parents did an amazing job keeping our lives as consistent as possible, but I do feel that the bochurim need some credit here as well for shtelling tzu as they did.

  56. Avatar
    Rivka Wolitzky

    I have never written to a magazine before, but after reading this story I felt that I must.
    Since I am part of a support system for married alumnae of Neve Yerushalayim, I serve as a surrogate mother, sister, good friend, or a shoulder for these brave women who have chosen Yiddishkeit over the familiar secular environment they grew up in.
    I was very impressed with the way this trauma was handled. I cannot agree more with the narrator. Things experienced during childhood form us into the adults we become, and childhood traumas can remain with us forever, often taking years to process and resolve, if ever.
    Besides the immediate and obvious benefits of his deeds, the lifelong benefit that he gave these boys cannot be described. Instead of waiting for them to sit in his office (and pay) he chose to heal their neshamos from the start.
    My father a”h, a Holocaust survivor, always taught us that if you support a sapling when it begins growing, it grows straight and tall. When it is already a tree it is much more difficult to straighten. Yasher koyach to the author for grabbing the opportunity.

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    Yaakov M.

    I enjoyed Yaakov Amsalem’s piece about his recent trip to Dubai and reading about what he describes as a “blast of warmth from a newly welcoming land.” He did a great job conveying the local color and unique features of the UAE, and this was a fun and enlightening article.
    I do have to wonder, though, about the enthusiasm I’ve been hearing from all quarters of the frum world. To hear the local coffee room hock, it’s as though this is the greatest redemption our people have ever experienced, and everyone’s planning to jump on a plane to Dubai for their next vacation — didn’t you hear, all of the hotels will have kosher options? This is a can’t-miss-it destination!
    Don’t get me wrong; I was glad to read news reports of the peace agreement, and I hope this helps secure Israel’s standing internationally. But why are we all so quick to sing the UAE’s praises? Until a couple of weeks ago, this was a country where anti-Semitism was official government policy. Holocaust denialism is still rampant there.
    Let’s keep history in mind when shaping our worldview. Maybe we can limit our vacations to one of the dozens of countries that never banned Israeli passport holders from entry. And let’s stop treating this as an enthusiastic embrace of a long-lost brother, but what it really is: a small step forward in a peace process that will end only with the coming of Mashiach.

  58. Avatar
    Sarah Spero

    Eytan Kobre’s column about the Jewish Observer really did “say it like it was.” Did someone drop all our old Jewish Observers at his house when we moved from Cleveland to Baltimore?
    I certainly do remember — very vividly — reading some of them and cringing… but read them, I did. And I couldn’t wait for the responses that inevitably followed the next month.
    They, in a pioneering spirit and with much courage, did indeed address issues that others would not acknowledge, and, like Mishpacha itself, did so in fairness and with clarity… except they did it before it was acceptable to do so.
    No one can forget their handling of “Kids at Risk.” It was groundbreaking.
    That’s not to say I always liked or agreed with everything that was printed. But I respected the author’s right to “write,” and I appreciated the platform provided for the responses to be heard.
    Today we choose our reading material by the criteria of “all the news you want to read,” without acknowledging the importance of respecting a different opinion.
    Oh! — the blindness of it all! What are we so afraid of? Will not truth prevail?

  59. Avatar
    Oren Levy

    Thank you for the moving article about my personal experience during the 2002 bombing attack in Meah Shearim. I’m grateful for every opportunity to be mekadesh Shem Shamayim by publicizing the miracles my family and I experienced.

    Hashem has continued to shower us with His kindness. Just a few months ago we were blessed with twin sons and in just a few weeks we are scheduled to bring our daughter, who was born right after the attack, to the chuppah.

    Since this is a time of the year when Jews are looking for extra merit, I wonder if I could mention that we’re still living with the effects of the terror bombing. It left my wife with serious trauma that makes it impossible for her to hold a job; her need for support in turn limits my employment prospects.

    We’re grateful for what we have, but it’s a struggle, especially now when we’re about to marry off our daughter and would like to provide for her the minimal things that parents give their children who are starting off.

    If there are readers who would like to participate in any way, we would be most grateful if they could be in touch with us through Mishpacha.

    May all of Am Yisrael be granted a gemar chasimah tovah.

  60. Avatar
    Dina Lowinger

    Thank you, Perel Levy, for a beautiful and well-written article. You gave us an inside glimpse into the lives of the chevra kaddisha, those whose work unfortunately did not stop at the height of the COVID-19 epidemic.

    Your reminder to all of us to hold on to the lessons of the past few months couldn’t be more timely and appropriate. I wholeheartedly agree that it would be a shame of epic proportions to let all the insight we gained slide back as the tide recedes.

    Perel mentions briefly the role of nishei chayil in their husbands’ chesed shel emes. I would like to explicitly give much deserved recognition to these outstanding women. They held up the forts at home physically and emotionally, picked up the pieces when husbands couldn’t be present at home, and took on more than they thought possible so that their husbands could devote themselves to this avodas hakodesh. And let’s not forget that this was at a time when children were home, there was no outside help, and there was Yom Yov to prepare. They truly are among our unsung heroes!

    At this time of year I sincerely wish all these special families and all Klal Yisrael a gut yahr and a time when their services will no longer be needed.

  61. Avatar

    Thank you for your article about Rav Gissinger. My relationship with Reb Shloimy Gissinger began back in 1980, long before he became an official shul rav and long before he became well known for his kashrus expertise. Although I was just one of the many members of his chaburah and quite a bit younger than he was, Reb Shloimy considered me a friend. As such, I had the privileged of spending much quality time with him and seeing him in action.

    R’ Shloimy never took his psakim lightly. He would review his psak many times over before he gave a negative psak. Many a time he would ask for my opinion, for all it was worth, just in case I could come up with some out-of-the-box argument, in order to be matir. When he did give a negative psak, after all options were exhausted, he was quite upset and disheartened.

    Nevertheless, the experiences that come to mind when I think of him are those that show who Reb Shloimy was as a person and not as a posek.

    R’ Shloimy owned an old jalopy. I do not remember what year or model the car was, but I do remember that every time the car started up, especially in the winter, we were shocked. And every time we made it to New York and back, usually after another one of our expeditions to some obscure, antique seforim dealer, we considered it an outright miracle! Obviously, this car needed much maintenance. Since Reb Shloimy was an expert in all fields of medicine, science, and technology, he was also his own mechanic. The vision of Reb Shloimy working under the hood of his car fixing his carburetor with his white shirt, black suit, hat, and tie on, was one that I can never forget.

    And how can I forget the picture of Reb Shloimy sitting at the desk in his office behind a stack of tens of seforim and hundreds of sheets of papers and notes piled so high that I could barely see his eyes peeking out over the top. When questioned, he would always smile at me with that twinkle in his eyes and assure me that he knew where every single sefer and piece of paper was. And, to prove it, he would pull out a crumpled sheet of paper from the bottom of a pile of seforim, or from somewhere in his seforim shrank, and tell me exactly what it was.

    Mrs. Appel captured the essence of Reb Shloimy, as best as can be expected in a magazine feature. However, in her article, and in many other articles I have read about Reb Shloimy over the past year, I feel that there is one important aspect of Reb Shloimy’s personality that has been missed. And that is his sense of humor.

    Reb Shloimy had a fabulous sense of humor and always had a quick and witty response. In fact, in the toughest circumstances, he was able to see some humor and positivity. In my opinion, it was the combination of the two opposite ends of his personality that made him so successful as a rav and a posek.

    On the one hand he had the serious side, which enabled him to take every person’s issues and concerns so very seriously and which gave him the concentration and focus required to do the extensive research necessary. On the other hand, there was always the humorous side through which he portrayed a sense of calm, confidence, and positivity. It was the humorous side of his personality that made Reb Shloimy so very likable and that allowed him to handle the stress and the pressure of dealing with so many people, with so many heart-wrenching issues, all at the same time.

    In mid-June, I decided to drop in on Reb Shloimy unannounced. I was hearing rumors that he was very sick. I was very concerned and decided to check it out on my own. Rebbetzin Merril agreed to make an exception and allow me to see Reb Shloimy, just for a minute. I was directed to the back porch where Reb Shloimy was learning with a chavrusa. R’ Shloimy was sitting with his hat and suit and tie on, in front of his Gemara. I do not know what it was, but when he looked up to greet me, he seemed to me like a malach. His face was shining bright and he gave me the most welcoming smile and the warmest shalom aleichem. I gave him what turned out to be my last hug and kiss and let him get back to his learning. I was hoping to visit again when he was fully recovered.

    Unfortunately, things did not work out the way I had expected. To my utter shock, Reb Shloimy was gone a few months later. The vision of Reb Shloimy, the malach, will remain with me forever.

  62. Avatar

    While I don’t generally read the Mishpacha Magazine each week, I have to say, that when I do have time to read, I enjoy it and I feel that it is an excellent publication. Like many people, the first feature I turn to, is The Kichels. Unfortunately, the comic from two weeks ago didn’t leave me chuckling; I felt offended and angry. I am referring to the episode where not one character was wearing a mask correctly.
    I have been an acute care nurse in a really lovely community hospital in Valley Stream, Long Island, NY for over twenty years. Most of those years, I have worked, and continue to work in critical care (ICU). My hospital was one of those in the New York metropolitan area that witnessed some of the worst COVID numbers. When I hear statements like, “oh, it’s political”, or “it’s a hoax”, or “they starved my family member”, and “they didn’t let us visit, those rotten nurses/doctors” I think of one thing: We have surveillance cameras on us constantly. Pull all of the hospital’s surveillance cameras and publicize them for the world to see what actually happened in the hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Allow me to give you a glimpse.
    The average 12-hour shift became a 14-hour shift. Nurses didn’t go to the bathroom, nurses didn’t eat, nurses didn’t sit, and nurses often couldn’t find time to have a drink of water. I stopped bringing lunch to work, because I found myself throwing it away, uneaten, at the end of my shift. Nurses literally spent all day keeping people alive; monitoring continuous vital signs (temperatures, blood pressure, pulse and heart rate and rhythms, respirations, and oxygen saturation), and treating them almost as often, treating the sick with multiple lifesaving drips (the average patient had 5-8 life-supporting IV medications that needed to be changed very often), monitoring blood sugars, monitoring ventilator (respirator) support, drawing blood and lab work and then treating abnormal values, and, of course, speaking to families and providing emotional support.
    The ICU that I work in has 16 beds. During the pandemic, there were over 30 patients each day. Nurses who usually cared for two critical patients each day had to care for three or four patients at a time. That lasted for about six-seven weeks. Not to mention the additional 10 or so critical patients who were in the ER each day because the main ICU didn’t have enough beds to hold them.
    Most of the days I was assigned to work in a makeshift ICU. It was like a field hospital. Supplies were scarce. PPE (personal protective equipment) was scarce at times. Our N-95 masks that we were accustomed to throwing away after previously going into a negative pressure room (those used for TB and other airborne diseases), were suddenly a rare commodity. Even if one broke, our manager told us to staple it back together.
    I remember wondering if we were all going to be dead in a few weeks, considering that it seemed that the Malach HaMaves had literally set up shop in my unit. Could you, dear friends and readers, understand that thought? You surely cannot imagine what life was like for the healthcare workers who went to work each day to care for your family members. We put our lives on the line.
    Nurses asked shailos about pikuach nefesh. Were they allowed to pick up extra shifts, when asked, to help out their strained colleagues? I have a colleague who did not see his infant for 51 days. Another colleague, a young, new nurse, moved out of her high risk parents’ home. We worried that we were bringing the disease home to our children, spouses, siblings, and parents. Many nurses wrote wills for the first time.
    Oftentimes, in the past few months, as I walked in my neighborhood with my mask, I wanted to wear a sign that said, “I worked in the ICU (or ER) yesterday. Would you want to inhale my germs?” My mask protects you and your mask protects me. There is nothing comical about this. I work with many talented doctors who live and breathe a website called “up to date.” They read every single published report related to COVID-19. Even they are shocked at the virulence of this disease. And these experts advise to continue wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
    In addition, I feel it is our ethical and moral obligation to be mekadesh sheim Shamayim by doing the very small act of wearing a mask. When I am standing and caring for a patient, I am embarrassed to see and hear news reports about the new COVID cases coming from our communities, from these super-spreader events like chasunos and other such gatherings. How am I to respond to my fellow nurses and doctors when they question me about our communities’ poor COVID habits?
    Why does my family have to endure “mask shaming”? Why have my children had their masks pulled off their faces? Do the rules and laws only apply to me? Come on, Klal Yisrael, we can do this. It’s Elul. Can we just wear our masks and practice social distancing? Can we just do it to protect our healthcare workers who have to wear masks for an entire shift multiple times during the week?
    I believe we can. We can put our personal yegios aside, we can put our discomfort aside, and we can say we love our brothers and sisters in Klal Yisrael, and we are doing it for them. And we can do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
    Wishing everyone a Kesiva Vechasima Tova and a Gut Gebentsht Yahr,

    1. Avatar

      Thank you for publishing the letter from Miriam Rivka Rozen. My words come as a public hakaras hatov to the medical personnel, Hatzolah members, and others on the front lines who fought the deadly and invisible enemy of the coronavirus.
      It is unconscionable that those heroes and heroines who put aside their personal safety have had to hear disparaging remarks implying that hospital workers intentionally neglected their patients or were cruel to keep family members away from the contagion. In our experience with my son’s medical team, we were on the receiving end of a constant effort to update us on our patient. Invariably, it seemed that the doctor or nurse who spoke to us on the phone had been there continuously for extended periods of time. I believe that every effort was made based on the medical information at that time to give the best care under circumstances comparable to a war zone.
      Equally unconscionable is the current dismissal by some members of our community to recommended safety protocols, if for no other reason than it is a serious chillul Hashem to see identifiably religious people publicly ignore precautions to prevent the spread and continuation of this pandemic. Dismissing these directives as “it’s over” or “it isn’t serious now” or “I can’t function with a mask” is irrelevant to the message seen by outsiders as uncaring or ignorant of public suffering. Ignoring or dismissing required health directives is a complete disregard of the sacrifice on the part of Mrs. Rozen and all first responders.

  63. Avatar
    Goldie Grant

    Thank you for a fantastic magazine which is always thoroughly enjoyed.
    The Lifelines story this past week was a truly refreshing story. It was heartwarming to read how the narrator supported his son, and his classmates, too, with working through the tragic situation they faced.
    By holding the levayah proceeding he supported the children with
    a) Acknowledging the loss — talking about what had happened, explaining what a levayah entails.
    b) Processing the pain — letting the children express their narrative of the story, validating the experiences and allowing them the space to cry.
    c) Adjusting to a life without the deceased — forgiving and asking for forgiveness, thus closing the door to their previous friendships and then later instituting actions l’illui nishmas Yitzi.
    Working within the world of grief and bereavement, I have been shocked to encounter so many real life “Avrumis” — adults who have experienced disenfranchised grief leading to unresolved grief. Embedded ideologies around grief often results with unhelpful advice, such as “grieve alone” — in this instance, leaving the children while the parents attended the levayah, or “be strong and move on” — related to “the less said, the better.”
    The narrator performed chesed in its truest form; actions which Yitzi’s classmates will have benefitted from tremendously both then and in their future lives.
    May Klal Yisrael only know of simchahs and may we all be zocheh to a kesivah v’chasimah tovah.

  64. Avatar
    An Anonymous Layman

    I disagree with the anonymous rabbi who suggested that the popularity of going to Uman for Rosh Hashanah means that something is missing from the Rosh Hashanah davening everywhere else.
    People have an innate drive to explore, to seek new experiences. The fact that people enjoy touring other countries does not mean that something is wrong with the country that they came from. People go to Uman to experience something new, particularly the mass pilgrimage aspect of it.
    And on a deeper level, I can’t help but point out that just because something is popular does not mean that it’s right. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with uplifting singing on Rosh Hashanah, and although I happen to love a yeshivah-style Yamim Noraim davening, I understand that that isn’t for everyone. But should we be giving people what they say they want, or what we think they need? If you believe that people in your neighborhood will have a more meaningful Rosh Hashanah if you add some more joyous singing while keeping within the boundaries of what’s appropriate on the Yamim Noraim, great. But why should the goings-on in a Ukrainian village half a world away affect your decision either way?

  65. Avatar
    Shoshana Esrig

    Thank you, Rabbi Bensoussan, for your beautiful words of encouragement to the younger Vaiselberg brother. They are so true and relevant in many difficult situations.
    We can never know whether a particular individual has passed his specific challenge; only Hashem knows his nekudas habechirah and what was expected of him at that moment. It is not something that can be judged objectively. I believe your words are very comforting to a lot of people, especially those who have overwhelming nisyonos that seem just too hard to cope with, or to those who see their loved ones suffering with such.
    I was so happy to see your description of Channa Perel Handler, which is so on the mark. Both in her personal and in her professional life, Channa Perel is wonderfully devoted, deeply caring, and profoundly understanding of people.
    May Hashem bless you, Rabbi Bensoussan, to have continued strength to raise the spirits of our struggling youth.

  66. Avatar
    Freda Birnbaum

    Every so often you publish an article that makes me say, ‘this article is worth the price of the year’s subscription’ (and Mishpacha is not cheap). The story “Silent Mourners” is the most recent one.
    The father in this article had it so right, and had the fortitude to resist the more conventional ideas of what he should be doing. (Of course he could still pay a shiva visit!) Perhaps it indeed was Hashgachah pratis that he didn’t get a ride right away and had enough time to reflect. The lasting results in the boys’ lives are so worthwhile.
    In the early Shacharis davening, it says of several key mitzvos that “a person enjoys the fruits in this world, and the principle remains for him in the world to come.” I have often thought that the principle remains here, too, and in this situation, it will reverberate for a very long time in the lives of these boys.
    With deep appreciation for the example the author of this piece has set,

  67. Avatar
    Mordecai Terebelo

    Thank you for the Double Take story about the cleaning help. If I could tell Minna and Daniella one thing it would be:

    There is a section of Shulchan Aruch called Choshen Mishpat that deals with the halachos of luring workers away from an employer. Ask your rav under what guidelines it is permitted. Do not let your personal feelings dictate what is permitted or forbidden. If you are not allowed, bask in the happiness that you are being moser nefesh to do the Will of Hashem.

    Thank you for your thought provoking articles.

  68. Avatar

    Although this is a subject I seldom discuss publicly, last week’s LifeLines compelled me to put pen to paper. I am in awe of the incredible psychotherapist who recognized the importance of the grief process in children. You see, I too was a “Silent Mourner.”

    When I lost my brother to sudden and unexpected circumstances at the age of 12, the focus was entirely on my parents and their grief. During the shivah week, I was told several times, “be strong for your parents.” To me, the 12-year-old child, that translated as pretending I was absolutely okay, because how could I add more pain to my already-suffering parents. And so strong was I, burying any feeling and emotion deep inside, so that my parents and everyone else sure that I was “fine,” “resilient” and “best left to move on.”

    Yet as the author correctly recognized, grief needs to be processed properly in children too. It doesn’t just go away.

    For me it manifested in several ways. The first was the constant fear of my family members dropping dead. Then, when I became a mother, there was the intense and overwhelming sense of panic each time one of my children came home a bit later than expected. Another trigger came many years later when a friend lost a child in similar circumstances. Then I simply fell apart, and it took me months to recover.

    I am blessed to have a very special mother and husband, who recognized this (albeit a bit late!) and 23 years later, with their encouragement I too “sat shivah” properly for my brother in a therapist’s office.

    Parents, please don’t read your child’s nonchalance as resilience. Know that the grief is there, hidden deep beneath the surface, and when triggered it comes bubbling up throughout their life. It is your responsibility to encourage your child to open up, express their feelings and, go through a proper grieving process with a therapist in just the same way you do.

    And to you “Silent Mourners” out there, don’t let your childhood trauma haunt you. Don’t ever think it’s too late to deal with. Trust me when I say it is liberating to properly grieve your loved one — even if it is 23 years later.

  69. Avatar
    Hannah Lercher

    Shame on you! You are a disgrace to Torah Jewry printing an interview with Jack Rosen. The AJC stands for everything that is anti-Torah and Yiddishkeit. It is well- known that the Israeli government is anti-chareidi and the AJC is no different. Besides, Biden and the Democrats stand for everything that is poison for the world at large and certainly for the Jews. They are pro-abortion, which is an issur gamur of retzichah for all of mankind. The same is true regarding their stands on marriage, it’s gilui arayos. The list goes on. They are dangerous!

    What is even more annoying is that you showed your true colors, not respecting daas Torah. There is not one reputable Torah authority that would allow voting for such filth, crime, corruption, etc….

    In these trying times when we are in desperate need for rachamei Shamayim and we stand on the threshold of a new year, the least we can expect from the Mishpacha is an upgrade in Yiddishkeit.

    1. Avatar
      Miri Feldstein

      The Mishpacha inbox has had many letters recently that berate other Torah Jews because of their political affiliation. Last week’s letter titled “A Disgrace” went too far by implying that Jews who plan to vote Democrat are a poison. Little ‘me’ is no one to say this but I’m going to anyway: we need to stop hating each other because of politics.
      True, the Democrats are pro-choice. The Republican stance may at first glance seem more similar to our views. But in many cases their actual platform is more extreme than the Torah. I don’t think Jews fit with either ideology.
      The letter also describes Democrats as being rife with “filth, crime and corruption.” I could say that Republicans are misogynist, anti-immigrant (and all Jews are immigrants), and corruption is just a synonym for politics.
      No one is being forced to like the Democrats — you can feel however you would like to feel about them — but that goes both ways. I can dislike the Republicans as well. Your views do not need to be everyone’s views and I do not think it is anyone’s place to be tearing down fellow Jews when we don’t belong on either side.

  70. Avatar
    Yaakov Serle

    I would like to commend Mishpacha magazine and Omri Nahmias (A Few Minutes With Mordechai Serle, Mishpacha, Issue 825), Yonoson Rosenblum (Gift Of Life, Mishpacha, Issue 807) and Yochonon Donn (A Few Minutes With Colonel Sean O’Neil, Mishpacha, Issue 823) for their excellent coverage of the Convalescent Plasma Initiative (CPI).
    The articles were inspiring and well-written. Moreover, Mishpacha has taken a leading role in making world Jewry keenly aware of the benefits of plasma and how those who have recuperated can donate their liquid gold and potentially save a life.
    Yonoson’s article covered my son Mordy’s search for the Covid-19 cure during the time his father-in-law had taken ill with the virus. The article noted my daughter-in-law encouraging Mordy to get on the phone with the Mayo Clinic moments after bringing our granddaughter, Baylee, into This World. Mordy and his wife realized they could save countless lives with convalescent plasma and in turn created a monumental kiddush Hashem for the Orthodox Jewish community.
    Omri followed up by interviewing Mordy after the FDA emergency authorization of convalescent plasma was announced by President Trump.
    Thank you to Mishpacha for all your efforts. Now is the time for Klal Yisrael to give their plasma and help save as many lives as we can from this dreadful disease.

  71. Avatar
    A Reader

    Thanks for a great magazine. Regarding the Double Take story about the cleaning ladies, I’d add that it’s extremely arrogant, narrow-minded, and a huge chillul Hashem to act as if we are “entitled” to cleaning help.

    I too, am dependent on and can’t really function without my cleaning help, and fully acknowledge its role in creating a peaceful, happy home, so I fully empathize and understand where the story’s protagonists were coming from.

    But just because we are blessed with demanding and time-consuming jobs and struggle to feed our own families, and are dependent on a modicum of cleanliness for basic functioning, does not “entitle” us to cleaning help.

    Let’s keep in mind that the only reason the whole arrangement works is because the salaries these ladies are getting are very paltry, and nowhere near a livable wage. I certainly can’t afford to pay more. But if someone can, there is no reason a struggling cleaning woman looking to eke out a living should not take it.

    As rachmanim bnei rachmanim, it’s time to look outside our own privileged world —even with all the challenges, we are extremely blessed — and realize that just because we want cleaning help, and need it, does not entitle us to demand or expect that people who work for us should take a lower wage when they can earn more. If your hardworking cleaning lady who is struggling to feed her children has the opportunity to earn more, that is her blessing and your nisayon.

    May we all be blessed with paranassah tovah, and make a kiddush Hashem both amongst ourselves and the outside world, and figure out a way to keep our homes clean and functional.

  72. Avatar
    Name Withheld

    Thank you for your excellent article on Joe Biden. I appreciate that Mishpacha has the boldness and courage to provide detailed coverage to both sides of the election debate in a lucid and dispassionate manner. It is for this reason that my family chooses to subscribe to Mishpacha, and not to the other magazines and newspapers of the frum media.

    I would add that while Jack Rosen points out that Biden has withstood progressive pressure on Israel, it should be clearly noted that he has done this multiple times. During the primaries, he condemned the attempt of progressive elements to condition aid to Israel. He successfully fought the language of progressives on occupation and fought against the inclusion of clauses harmful to Israel in the formulation of the Democratic platform. He sidelined progressives at the Democratic National Convention. This should lay bare the claim that he is merely a “Trojan horse” for the radical elements in the party.

    Furthermore, the inability of the US to secure an arms embargo against Iran at the UN (Sanctions Snapback Stirs Security Council) and Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium post the US withdrawal from JCPOA should give pause to those that hailed the US withdrawal from the Iranian Nuclear Deal and laud Trump’s “America First” unilateralism as a panacea for Israel’s security.

    Thank you again for your courage to present both sides of an issue to your readership. Unfortunately, I request that if you chose to print my letter that you please not print my name as the current cult-like adoration of Donald Trump that is prevalent among so many in our community makes those that espouse views in opposition to MAGA orthodoxy the subject of vitriolic hatred.

  73. Avatar
    Shloime Wertenteil

    My family and R’ Chaim Aryeh Zev Ginzberg go back to elementary school days. Let’s see what we can learn from his harrowing COVID-19 experience and ongoing recovery and from unforeseen ordeals that jut out of life’s landscape.
    Graphite is a soft, black form of carbon used primarily for pencils leads and lubricants. A diamond is a hard form of carbon. Two totally opposite derivatives produced from the same element — carbon! How is that?
    Carbon, when left alone, will remain graphite. However, when carbon is subjected to astronomically high temperatures and pressure, it transforms into one of the most precious and desired commodities on earth, the diamond.
    Adam, formed from the adamah (earth), has the same inherent nature as earth. Bnei Yisroel went through the iron cauldron of Mitzrayim to refine their nature and mold them into the People of Hashem, suited to accept and keep the Torah. This is also true for all the vicissitudes that, perforce, everyone goes through in life. A great rabbi once said he would never “trade in” his sufferings for any recompense. When one goes through a tzarah — trouble — he is yotzer (creating) a new higher tzurah (form).
    Night gives way to morning. Light not only dispels darkness but, as in the formation of the glittering diamond, actually comes from the darkness.

  74. Avatar

    Thank you for such an amazing story. This is not only the story of Yanky but the story of virtually anyone who had grandparents that went through the war.
    My mother had a lot of anger issues when she raised us kids. She did show love by giving, giving, and giving physically — but we had no emotional connection. No kissing or hugging at all.
    I had a very hard time coming to terms with my mother’s behavior, and it left many repercussions, similar to Yanky. Until one day, while talking to a friend who went through the same type of thing, she explained to me why. Our parents had a very hard upbringing with their parents being war survivors and inadvertently letting out their suffering on their children. Many of these severely scarred survivors either gave no love to their kids or were very poor, and that is why our parents behave to us in this way.
    We are still therefore suffering from the war. The hard part is now to bring up our children without repeating the same mistakes.

  75. Avatar

    I enjoyed reading last week’s Double Take, which eloquently made the cases for and against gentrification. However, in the course of contrasting the perspectives of wealthy vacationer Daniella and local resident Minna, the welfare of an important third party was omitted: that of Joanna the cleaning lady.
    In all likelihood, she is worse off economically than either Daniella or Minna (who, at the very least, are able to afford cleaning help) and, along with her cleaning colleagues, would be the most negatively affected were the plan to fix cleaning wages at $15 to be implemented. Perhaps, were Joanna given the space to make her case, it would go something like this:
    “I don’t enjoy switching clients and schedules every summer. Minna’s family is so friendly, and she treats me well; working for her year-round would be great. However, paying for basic necessities like rent, food, and childcare is always a challenge, and on top of that I have a special-needs child. The extra $15 an hour I make during the summer months allows me to catch up on all of our overdue bills, with a little left over to tide us over until the next emergency inevitably arises.
    “I wasn’t actually planning on raising my rate to $20 an hour at the end of the summer, but lately I’ve been getting calls offering that much — from both Jews and non-Jews — and I need the pay raise just to make ends meet from month to month. It’s a free market, and nobody else expects to be paid less than what they’re worth. Why should I?
    “If I could tell Daniella and Minna one thing it would be: I’d love to help both of you keep your houses in order, but I have basic needs too and won’t work for less than I’m worth. Please come to an equitable agreement between yourselves, but not one that leaves me out in the cold.”

  76. Avatar

    I am a year-round resident of the Catskills, responding to the Double Take story about the cleaning help. Let me say off the bat that it is shameful that our community degrades menial labor to the point that not one teenager in our community will clean a house, even for 30 dollars an hour, and even if their family’s survival depends on it.
    I have heard stories of out-of-towners living elsewhere in America who bring back suitcases of frozen kosher meat after every plane ride to visit family, whose mikvaos use “buddy systems” for lack of paid staff, who have to negotiate Shabbos and Yom Tov with bosses who have never heard of those things and whose kids have never tasted kosher pizza.
    We have it good up here in the Catskills. Where else can you live a bucolic, small-town lifestyle with a rock-bottom cost of living while enjoying cathedral-like shuls and palatial mikvaos, paid for by occasional vacationers? I noticed that Minna’s husband works at a day camp when he is not learning. I don’t think that it is the year-round community that is fully supporting the kollel’s overhead or providing for an abundance of camp jobs.
    That said, I feel like Minna has expressed some subliminal feelings too many of us can relate to. The feelings of flailing around, trying to get an authoritative voice to take a stand on an important issue, of being individually responsible for maintaining a frum lifestyle amid the challenges of galus. The costs and pressures of an observant lifestyle, combined with a leadership vacuum, is creating bitter competitiveness and class tensions among us that are too real to ignore for much longer.

  77. Avatar
    Tamar Fischer

    I usually enjoy your Double Take features, because they underscore that there is more than one perspective to most situations. However, I really could not see how anyone would defend the women who were blatantly stealing other people’s cleaning help, just because they were able to pay more. The lame excuse that “in the summer everything costs more” just does not wash.
    Any person who is offering a cleaning lady double the wages her original employer is paying is creating one of two scenarios. One, the original employer is not able to match the new wage, and the cleaner comes to work for the higher bidder. Two, the original employer sees no option but to match the new wage and keeps her cleaner — now facing the possibility of having to permanently pay more. In the first instance the higher bidder has hurt the other family and helped herself. In the second, she has hurt the other and helped no one.
    The callousness depicted in the story reminded me of nothing as much as of the mashal the prophet described to Dovid Hamelech after the cheit with Batsheva. There was once a rich man who had cattle and sheep in great quantity… but when he was in need of some food for a guest, he took the poor man’s one little sheep, the only thing he had, which meant everything to him.

  78. Avatar

    When I read the title of the Lifelines this week, I turned right to that page. In recent months, there was much talk about parental alienation; parents lamenting that they did everything for their children and could not fathom as to why the kids would not talk to them. The LifeLines this week was the other way around, a parent retrospecting.
    My wife’s mother suffers from BPD, and she would meet the description of Reb Benzion perfectly, except for the hitting. Like Yanky, her siblings recently realized what had occurred during their childhood. Like Yanky, it was when an external person pointed it out that they realized that they are treating their children the same they had been treated. They realized why they do not have self-confidence or why they would become anxious during healthy life changes.
    While my wife does talk to her parents, it is emotionally draining, and their interactions are not so frequent. My father-in-law wants his family to be intact like before they figured out what is going on. But rather than listening to his children, sending his wife for help, and protecting the kids still at home, he is in denial.
    He belittles his kids and portrays them as alienators. He enlists all those around him to the “cause” of getting his children to talk to their mother more often. When these people try to help, they cannot understand why a child would not want to talk to her parents for such “trivial” reasons. After talking my face blue to the first two people, trying to explain the situation, I want to tell these well-meaning people one thing: If you cannot understand why a child does not speak to his parents and the child has a therapist and a rav, please step aside. If you are told your help is not needed or not appreciated, it is not because we don’t want help; it is because of others who are not willing to be helped. We might just be leading healthier lives by not talking to them as often.
    As much as it hurts you, it hurts us more. Because, as you said to me countless times, “a child needs his parents.”

    1. Avatar

      Reading through the Inbox in this week’s Mishpacha, I spotted the word “alienation” in a letter from “A son-in-law in pain.” As the director of a group for alienated parents my ears instantly perked up.

      After rereading both your Lifelines story “Crushed Apple” and its response, I was concerned that your readership will now associate alienated children with harsh and aggressive parenting. This is not necessarily the truth. Contrary to what the letter writer implies, alienation is not about the fallout of a parent-child relationship. Rather it is the culmination of a ploy by a third party known as “the Alienator.”

      The goal of the alienator is to impress on the child that his mother or father was unloving and failed to protect him. Sadly, utilizing manipulative tactics which are often deceptive or taken out of context, it is possible to do so.

      Your Lifelines story “Crushed Apple” more closely reflects a term known as “estrangement.” In this phenomenon, children will reject parents that actually hurt them.

      Unfortunately many people tend to confuse these two terms. I thought it significant to clarify this so that grieving parents who are experiencing true alienation can receive the love and support from family and friends that is so crucial to their survival.

      It may interest your readership to know that there is a support group for alienated parents with over 200 members, all from the frum heimishe community. For many of our members, our group is the first place they found true understanding for their plight. We have also developed many projects to bring awareness to our community at large in the hope of reuniting families.

      May all Hashem’s children find healing and be reunited with their loved ones,

  79. Avatar

    I strongly disagree with this past week’s Screenshot, which was critical of those who were happy to see the ads for unnecessary, extravagant luxuries absent from Mishpacha during the early months of COVID-19. Instead, the editor maintains, we should be feeling bad for those who lost parnassah.
    She is correct; we should be nosei b’ol and feel bad any time a fellow Jew lacks what he needs. At the same time, the pandemic should be cause for all of us to ponder what Hashem is trying to tell us.
    Distinguished rabbanim have joined together, calling for people of means to sign that from now on, their weddings will be significantly smaller and simpler than in the past. According to the editor’s thinking, this is wrong; think of the caterer, the florist, and the musicians who will be losing parnassah. How can we do this to them? The answer is, if it is the right thing to do then we have to do it. As far as those who are losing parnassah, let us daven that they find other ways to make ends meet.
    Does anyone really think that now, when so many have lost parnassah, when the world, our country, and our neighborhoods are in such a volatile state, is the time to be purchasing $5,000 watches?
    Hashem is talking to all of us, not only those who live in a higher tax bracket. But to say that loss of income is a reason to maintain the status quo is woefully wrong.

    1. Avatar
      ZC and Dena

      We have been following the conversation regarding Shoshana Friedman’s Screenshot about the missing ads. We were horrified by someone’s comment “As far as those who are losing parnassah, let us daven that they find other ways to make ends meet.” That read like a modern-day “let them eat cake.” The cavalier attitude regarding someone else’s parnassah is astounding.

      Furthermore, we would like to remind your readers about not judging other people’s spending and purchases. An adam gadol once said that we all have two eyes: one to see what we do wrong and the other to see what everyone else does right. Let’s all strive for that ideal and be zocheh to celebrate simchahs in Klal Yisrael.

  80. Avatar
    A beautiful apple

    Last night after getting a glimpse of the LifeLines story, I threw the Mishpacha down on the table and grumbled to my wife, “Not again. Every week all they write about is therapy and emotional issues… why can’t they write about other people’s issues for once… why me?”
    My wife assured me that it was a great story and I should read it slowly. Boy was she right!
    As a chassidish yingerman, and a survivor of childhood trauma who is currently in therapy, I found this story so true. It resonated on a very deep level. I applaud Yanky for opening up to get help and applaud Rochel for nagging him. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him, just like it wasn’t for my wife.
    The reason I am writing this letter is because the denial of emotional trauma often prevents people from getting help, or even realizing that they are acting out their own story and belief that they have ingrained in themselves from their youth.
    I myself did not do anything about it until I had a family with kids and I am thankful and grateful to the Ribbono shel Olam for giving me such a supportive wife and for sending me the right shlichim at the right moment to guide me and to stand by my side while I go through the process.
    It is very painful process and not a quick fix to heal. However, just opening up and accepting help will already make a huge difference in a person’s life. He will feel more alive and feel the vibrancy in life, the entire family life will be different, the kids will be different, the relationship with your friends will be different, and lastly your relationship with Hashem will take a full new meaning. Like Yanky’s crushed apple, you can make your apple shine again!
    I call out to everyone (including my own siblings) to please go and get yourself help. Please do it for your precious children, do it for the future wellbeing of all the doros. Please put a stop to the vicious cycle so it doesn’t repeat.
    There is lots of help out there; the heimishe world is blessed to have an amazing bunch of therapists who deal exclusively with trauma using various methods with great success. There are also some support groups to connect with other people doing the same work.
    I thank Mishpacha for publishing this story and daven that we all raise erlich, emotionally healthy doros!

  81. Avatar

    It was refreshing to see the candid acknowledgement of the inherent conflict between a magazine whose goal is to convey Torah true values, and the luxury advertising that pays the bills, and provides the resources to enable the magazine to publish the content.
    There was one jarring note in the article. In closing, the article chided the readership to “find our backbones and figure out how to process and react to ads that promote items inappropriate for our values or budgets.” The concept of recognizing and repelling a negative influence certainly has merit. But putting the onus on the readership sounds vaguely akin to what one often hears from bewildered non-Jews regarding the laws of modesty: “Why is the onus on the women to dress modestly? Why can’t the men just not look; if they happen to see something inappropriate, they should simply not let it affect them?”
    Of course, as frum Jews we know the answer. A person is influenced by his environment. What he sees, even unwittingly, has an impact, and shapes his mind and his thoughts.
    Rav Shlomo Freifeld ztz”l used to often point out the pervasive influence that advertisers have on our lives. He would talk about how advertisers spend millions of dollars and hire teams of psychologists to figure out how to shape people’s minds and attitudes, and how a frum Jew has to resist this influence with all his might if he is to succeed in life.
    Unfortunately, the relentless influence of marketing and advertising has made deep inroads even into the frum community. We are told what to wear, what to eat, how to furnish out homes, and are even conditioned by sensational videos and campaigns as to what should motivate us to open our wallets for tzedakah causes. The luxury market is simply the most lucrative piece of the pie, and that is why such large proportion of the advertising market is directed at that segment.
    While there is never joy in seeing another Jew lose parnassah, it is appropriate to acknowledge that much of the uber luxury market is at best a distraction, and is likely detrimental to the frum community as a whole, in its goal of raising the next generation of ovdei Hashem. If that market segment would contract, especially with regard to the multitude of frum Jews who, ill able to afford it, are pressured to go into debt by the flood of advertising and resulting peer pressure, that is a good thing for Klal Yisrael as a whole. It will save so many in our community from ruinous debt, allow people to meet their tuition obligations, and diminish the distractions that get in the way of the focus on our true goals in life. The relatively few Jews who will have diminished parnassah will im yirtzeh Hashem have siyata d’Shmaya to find their parnassah in areas that are beneficial, and not detrimental to the klal.
    Is there an answer to the problem facing Jewish publications such as Mishpacha? I am not naïve enough to suggest that Mishpacha curtail its advertising. That is not realistic, and will lead to advertisers seeking other venues to target their audience. I would suggest that Mishapacha consider running a series of articles exploring the fascinating world of the psychology of advertising and how one can recognize and resist its influence. Presenting some insight and Torah hashkafah from our gedolim in this area would be very helpful as well.
    Most of all, it is important to acknowledge that the problem lays primarily with those intentionally promoting luxury standards to a broad audience, and that educating the readership is a bedieved response to an issue for which there is no simple solution.

    1. Avatar

      I would like to respond to E.J.’s letter about Shoshana Friedman’s frank and thought-provoking Screenshot.
      First, E.J. makes an analogy between Mrs. Friedman “putting the onus on the readership” to “recogniz[e] and [repel] a negative influence” and telling men to “just not look” at immodestly dressed women. I take issue with that. We women are told that the halachos of tzniyus are not only for the sake of men, but they exist in order to instill a particular sense of depth and self-worth in ourselves. Each person must take responsibility for his or her own spiritual well-being.
      That said, let’s talk about luxury. Rich people are allowed to have nice things. This is demonstrated by descriptions of the possessions of any number of righteous figures in Tanach, Talmud, and other historical records. The problem is when people of more modest means think they must furnish their homes and clothe themselves and their children at that same level. There is no reason for it. There are many respectable options for furniture and clothing that cost less. Peer pressure has its uses, primarily as the means to encourage greater spiritual development, but the material realm should have no place for it.
      Imagine a world in which no school child would be teased for not having the “right” expensive brand of shoes. Imagine not feeling a need to “update” a perfectly functional kitchen/dining room/living room before hosting a social event. Imagine being able to live according to our means without feeling inferior.
      This is where chinuch in the home comes in. If parents of modest means (I count myself in that group) show thrift and self-control when choosing what items to purchase, the children will get the message. We must educate ourselves and our children to evaluate our needs and our ability to fill them objectively, not by looking at “standards” set by the wealthiest among us. If I truly believe that Hashem runs the world and that He gives each person, each family, what they need when they need it, it ought to be very easy to look at an advertisement that urges me to buy “a mindset” instead of just a piece of furniture and tell myself firmly that it isn’t speaking to me.
      Finally, I applaud E.J.’s suggestion that Mishpacha publish a series of articles about the psychology of advertising, and insights from Torah leaders about resisting its lure. I eagerly await further discussion of this important topic.

    2. Avatar

      Once upon a time there was a town in which the people discovered they were becoming overweight and obese. It was getting worse. People were developing health issues. Finally, doctors were brought to explain the long-term dangers. The community heard about various medical issues, big and small. They took the message to heart and decided that they had to try to do something to promote dieting and lower their communal weight.
      They held a big meeting. Ideas were tossed around. At the end it was decided that as a first step, everyone in the town would make a commitment to eat less pizza. Everyone congratulated themselves on a wonderful idea. Something was finally going to be done about the town weight problem.
      Suddenly, a voice was heard from the back of the room. “Wait! You can’t do that! What about the livelihood of the pizza store owner? Why don’t you think of him?” Silence. Another voice. “You’re right. Forget the whole thing.” A disappointed sigh could be heard. More voices. “What about the communal good? We need this diet!” Pandemonium broke out. “Yes diet!” “No diet!”
      Then a voice from the back from none other than the owner of the pizza shop himself. “I would like to thank those who are concerned for my livelihood. But the truth is that I too need to lose weight. I am willing to join the communal diet and help in its success. First of all, I will take down the signs outside my store promoting my juicy pizza and I will replace them with signs promoting my healthier menus. I will begin to offer more healthier dishes to add to be added to the regular menu. And let me add that I am not really afraid of losing my livelihood, as people will buy my fish and salads and I am quite sure there will always be some people buying regular pizza. Maybe less pizza, but the business will go on. I am committed to my community.” Loud cheers. The day was saved.
      I am sure we all realize that our community needs a diet from our extravagant, materialistic consumption habits and that what we are doing is quite spiritually unhealthy. Our kehillah at large is ready to go on the diet. We need everyone to be on board. The consumers and — yes —the proprietors and advertisers too.

      1. Avatar
        Moshe Licht

        It was troubling to read a letter from Bernie Sanders in last week’s Mishpacha Inbox. I didn’t realize you were in the habit of running Communist manifestos in your magazine.

        I’m referring, of course, to the letter with the whimsical albeit misguided mashal urging everyone to shut down the “pizza stores” because “everyone was gaining weight.”

        Parables are always limited in their ability to capture reality but this one was really ridiculous. Does every single person in our community have a spending problem? Does every single person make weddings they can’t afford? (Does every single person gain weight from pizza and does every single person have an inability to stop at one or two slices?)

        There are plenty of people with limited incomes who are more than happy to use the takanah halls for their simchahs. There are plenty of people who are honest about what they can and can’t spend, and live their lives accordingly. There are also plenty of people with deep pockets who can make luxurious simchahs without being irresponsible.

        Then, of course, there are some people who wish they had more money, or wish to give off the impression they have more money. These people have a problem. They need an education in responsible spending. They don’t need to “shut down every pizza store” and institute a single standard for all.

        The Torah has a concept of a “korban oleh v’yoreid.” This is a korban whose value fluctuates according to the means of the person bringing it. We’re not all meant to live at the same standard or make the same types of simchahs.

        Tell Bernie Sanders to stay out of Mishpacha, and let’s hope those socialist ideals stay out of our community’s consciousness as well.

        1. Avatar

          I was very disturbed by the recent letter accusing us of allowing communist ideals to seep into our community.
          Putting aside completely the specific argument over whether or not our ads are out of control, Judaism certainly incorporates socialist values into its system. Or perhaps, we must express it the other way around: the socialist system has elements that mirror Jewish values — and there is nothing wrong with that.
          Just because socialists would espouse the idea of business owners taking responsibility for the choices of the consumers doesn’t make it an inherently non-Jewish concept, no more than it is inherently non-Jewish to do chesed just because Christianity believes in doing acts of kindness.
          The example of “Korban Oleh V’yored” is one area where we show approval of a financial hierarchy, something that has no place in a socialist system. But in how many other areas of halachah do we show that we take responsibility for one another? Hilchos lashon harah, lifnei iver, and the concept of kol Yisrael areivim zeh lazeh. It is potentially assur for one to sell an item which will cause another to sin (such as a piece of avodah zarah, or an article of clothing which cannot possibly be worn in a tzanuah way).
          The nesiim were praised when they did not try to one-up each other with their contributions to the chanukas habayis. And the mitzvah of v’ahavta l’reiacha is not something you’ll find in a democratic constitution, but in Judaism it encompasses an entire body of law.
          The communist/socialist system does not work for the simple reason that it is not based in Torah and it is led by people of poor middos. Judaism is not entirely socialist, nor is it entirely democratic or entirely monarchical. But the idea of collective responsibility — that we are part of a family who try our best to make decisions that affect each other positively, that we work together and share — will always have its place in our lives as Jews.
          To be clear, I am not saying that the advertisements in question are assur, nor that it is an advertiser’s responsibility to be concerned for anything beyond the halachah when it comes to what he puts on the page. That is a different conversation altogether. I do, however, think that each one of us can take a step back to see how what we do personally, both as advertisers, consumers, neighbors and friends, affects the greater community, even if socialists do it too.

    3. Avatar
      Peretz Mann

      The judgmental reaction in last week’s Inbox to the reduction of advertising, and the wiping out of the kosher hotel business — in fact anything connected with simchahs — is astounding. The food is kosher. The activities are kosher. There is no suggestion of anything being against halachah. Nobody is being forced to attend.
      For people to anonymously and blithely wave off the parnassah of fellow Yidden and just say “I’ll daven for your success” is not the frumkeit I know.
      This is the time of year when we ask the Ribbono shel Olam for mercy. We should be asking the same for others.

    4. Avatar
      Dov Grossberg

      I found the Screenshot weighing the different angles of the post-corona advertising situation (or lack thereof) nuanced and thought-provoking, and was disappointed to see how many readers used it to jump right back on to the age-old arguments about Mishpacha’s role in “promoting materialism.”
      In my opinion, they totally missed the point. Are the pages of Mishpacha the only place you encounter this dichotomy and the challenges it presents? I doubt it. This is a reality playing out in most communities, families and social settings, and isn’t limited to frum Jews. Maybe the scale, or the details, vary from place to place, but the common denominator is that every individual has to learn to live in a society where some people can afford more, and others less, and figure out their approach to this ongoing conundrum. For some, this might mean to forego what they can afford so as not to “take out others’ eyes,” and for others, this might mean to learn to be satisfied without luxuries.
      I don’t understand how anyone can expect Mishpacha to exist in a vacuum outside this reality. To the contrary, perhaps Mishpacha simply reflects these complex paradoxes, and underscores the importance of developing the moral backbone to be comfortable with our socio-economic standing and acknowledge that it does not have to be the only aspect that defines you, or gives the potential to lead a meaningful life.
      When I read Mrs. Friedman’s editorial, I was not left thinking about the people who consume the luxuries; the ones I could not get out of my mind were those business owners and their families. Most of our community’s providers of high-end goods and services are not in the upper-class income bracket; they are people who try to earn an honest living, and there’s no crime in catering to a clientele that has money to spend. As one relative, the owner of a clothing store, said to me (pre-corona), “I can never afford to go to a Pesach program, and don’t even want to. But it’s good they exist, because people who go there need to shop at my store first.”
      And let’s not kid ourselves: the “spenders” will spend regardless; at least their money can go to support another frum family. I don’t begrudge the “spenders” their ability; the ones that I know personally spend far more annually on tzedakah causes than on luxury items. You might disagree with their personal choices, but who’s to judge?
      This doesn’t mean I’m a fan of the sometimes outrageous messaging employed in the advertising; it irks me just like the next person. Maybe some advertisers can reconsider their messages and tone it down a bit. But the ones that really cross the lines are the (perhaps vocal/visual) minority, and I think we can view those really tasteless ads in proportion and acknowledge that this something we have to live with if we want our steady supply of weekly reading material.

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    Someone who knows

    The LifeLines story this week about the abused child who became an abusive father really hit home with me.
    I grew up in an abusive home. Eventually my parents divorced, but it was too little too late. I am now married, but struggling with the scars from my childhood. I’ve been seeing a therapist for a few years and baruch Hashem am really working hard changing things around! My wife grew up in a very difficult home too, and she really supports me.
    What really bothers me is the callous attitude many in our community have toward abuse. I live in Lakewood and learned in BMG for five years. I “get” the yeshivah world. I am part of that world. But it’s so hard for me to relate to the cynicism towards therapy.
    The attitude of “yes, it’s just a few smacks” has to change. The apathy toward victims has to change. The awareness and understanding toward victims has to change. Why is this not a constant issue being talked about? It’s not okay to beat your children and wife.
    You would think that by 2020, things would be different. Sometimes I am shocked how little has changed.
    This has to be a constant discussion. Thanks for being brave and bringing up this painful subject. Please keep the conversation going. We all hear about masks being safek pikuach nefesh. Abuse is pikuach nefesh!

  83. Avatar
    Toby Brecher

    I always enjoy Shoshana Friedman’s “Screenshot” where she shares an intimate view of behind the scenes at Mishpacha. It gives us readers the feeling we are part of the family.
    I am puzzled and taken aback by the question with which she ended her last article. Surely she knows the answer to her very offensive question! We all want parnassah tovah for all of Klal Yisrael. What does that have to do with finding all the luxury advertisements over the top?
    I am also among those who find many ads a bit much. My pet peeve is the expression “taking it to the next level” — which can be found when discussing food, table settings, clothing, vacations, and more. I often wonder: If you were to use that expression when discussing ruchniyus, how well would it go down?
    Neither one of the email correspondents wish ill upon the people who have raised the gashmiyus level in our lives. They merely are pointing out that if as a result of this pandemic, the level will be lowered, it may be one of the benefits derived from the tragedy.
    Wishing all much hatzlachah, especially with their parnassah.

  84. Avatar
    R. Goldenberg

    While most authors recognize the importance of a strong opening (to catch the reader’s attention) and an intriguing storyline (to keep the reader’s attention), some authors don’t realize the importance of a strong ending. The feeling that stays with the reader long after the story is completed.

    Ruti Kepler does.

    In addition to focusing on topics that are rarely covered and giving us a glimpse into the minds of those we otherwise would know nothing about, the story had a very powerful conclusion. To leave a reader with two funerals and still positive is a gift. Thank you for not having the Eliav brothers meet in This World — as it keeps the story realistic — yet including that detail of having them die the same day, which was touching and bittersweet.

    Looking forward to many more stories by this author!

  85. Avatar
    Ahava Ehrenpreis

    Dear Mishpacha mishpachah,

    Thank you for featuring Yoely Friedman’s WellTab initiative, a most amazing organization. The reference to “a special needs patient who spent his last months in the hospital” is, in fact, Mishpacha’s very own Saadya Ehrenpreis a”h. His “appreciative family” is the Ehrenpreis family.

    In April, I received a call from a reader after Mishpacha published my “Dear Saadya” letter detailing Saadya’s dire medical situation and the fact that I could not see him in person. She gave me the number of a group that links families and patients through tablets. When I called, no one asked my religious affiliation or mentioned a cost — instead they offered to immediately come to our home to set it up. A gentleman arrived and within a few minutes connected a tablet to our Internet, and gave me a companion screen to bring to the hospital for the patient.

    I told him the hospital was not letting us go up to Saadya’s room. He took the tablet, asked me the location of the hospital and Saadya’s room number — and less than an hour later, I heard my screen crackle and there before my eyes was Saadya smiling, despite the tubes and wires, with a nurse in full PPE garb patting his arm, with a reassuring smile for me as well.

    For the next four hours we “visited.” Saadya couldn’t speak, due to a tracheostomy, but with great effort, he raised his hand, responding with gestures. His sister “walked him” around our home and up to his room, showing him that everything was the same, awaiting his return. We then took the tablet to our front door, and our neighbors and his friends came to the door to wave to Saadya and assure him that we were all waiting for him.

    I video-called the counselor at his apartment and by holding my phone to the tablet’s screen, Saadya was able to see and “speak” to his apartment-mates. There too, his counselor walked around his apartment to show him that all was just as he had left it. After four hours, he was exhausted and we turned off the screens.

    The next day, Saadya underwent a procedure that would enable him to be discharged to rehab, to begin his recovery and return to us. When it finished, the doctor called me that Saadya was doing well, comfortable, and back in his room. I asked them to turn on the tablet so I could speak to him. While I waited, in the interim few minutes, he suffered a fatal coronary thrombosis from which he could not be resuscitated.

    That tablet “visit” on the previous day was our farewell to Saadya a”h. The chesed of the WellTab staff became true chesed shel emes. Our family will never be able to adequately thank them.

    I must add yet another Hashgacha pratis element. To personally express my hakaras hatov, I found the number of the person who had installed the tablet in my house and then insisted on going to the hospital to make sure that the connection was set up there. After we spoke, he called back and asked, “Do you write for a magazine? I told my wife about your call and she said, ‘I know who that young man is, I’ve been following his story for years and davening for him.’ She wants to say Hamakom Yenachem to you.”
    Yes, this is a Mishpacha story…in every sense of the word.
    Mi Kamcha Yisrael?

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    It is heartening to hear from gedolei Yisroel. They have no press office and need no press secretary, so the opportunity Mishpacha gives us to listen is a gift for which we are grateful.
    After hearing the clear, refreshing words of Maran Rav Shmuel, I felt uplifted and blessed to have such a leader. It’s no wonder that the rosh yeshivah chose Mishpacha, a magazine that clearly has no agenda and no need to twist facts or sneak in under false pretenses, to serve as the podium for his views.

  87. Avatar
    Rivka T.

    I was moved by Yisroel’s Besser incredible interview with Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky and the daas Torah apparent in all of his decisions. There is no hysteria, no “corona-is-here-let’s-all-stay-locked-up-forever,” nor is there the cavalier “I-can-do-what-I-want-if-you-want-to-stay-home-that’s-on-you,” just a measured, thoughtful wisdom born of his daas Torah.
    I was moved, but not surprised. I’d had experience with Rav Shmuel’s guidance before.
    When I was dating, after our fifth date my husband told me that as a teen, he had been involved in many at-risk behaviors. As per the guidance he’d received, he shared a bit more of his background, both what he’d done and how he’d grown.
    I was left reeling — this wasn’t anything I’d expected coming from my very standard background with a very solid Bais Yaakov education. My parents, unsure of what we should do, suggested we ask a sh’eilah of Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky. But I was dubious —I knew that my husband had extensively discussed his shidduchim with Rav Shmuel, and in my mind’s eye, I pictured the scene: A bochur standing in Rav Shmuel’s study, asking Rav Shmuel for success in shidduchim despite his background, and receiving his heartfelt brachah. Then the bochur left, to be replaced by a girl, timidly asking if she should pursue a shidduch with a boy with a weak background. In my imagination (so much for the values imbued by that solid Bais Yaakov education!), Rav Shmuel would smile and say, “Have I got a shidduch for you…”
    But of course, that’s not what happened. I knew that Rav Shmuel had encouraged my husband to date me, but when my father called him to ask for a psak, he wouldn’t give us one. “It’s a very individual matter,” he told us. “I can’t tell you what to do. But if your daughter wants to come down to Philadelphia to talk it through with me, I’m happy to give her as much time as she needs.”
    Years later, I told the story to two good friends as we sat together at a Melaveh Malkah. “That’s funny,” said one, who’d been an older single from Boro Park when she got engaged. “My shidduch would never have gone through without Rav Shmuel.”
    “Mine neither,” said my other friend, an out-of-towner who’d gotten engaged at 18.
    And for a minute, we paused, awed by the gadol who was literally carrying the weight of the frum world’s thorniest issues on his back — yet for whom no problem was too small, no young girl too overwhelmed by shidduchim, to deserve his care and attention.

  88. Avatar
    Jonathan Rosenstock

    I read Barbara Bensoussan’s article about Dr. Howard Weiner with great interest. I would regularly meet this doctor at the weekday Shacharis minyan in the Young Israel of White Plains, back when he was a member of the White Plains Jewish community (while I frequented that minyan as part of my morning commute from Monsey to Stamford). At that time, I found him to be friendly, sincere, warm, and down-to-earth. I was immediately drawn to this exceptional individual.

    Only later did a friend mention that Howard (who did not use any formal titles outside the hospital) was actually a renowned neurosurgeon whose possessed prodigious medical skill. However, when you met Howard, he did not make any attempt to draw any attention to himself or to his plentiful accomplishments.

    Over time, as I had more opportunities to observe Howard, did I realize that he fully represented how a frum Jew should behave in his home, community, and workplace. Considering that I am a “working man,” I regarded Howard as a role model.

    These days, when visiting a seforim store, the shelves are packed with biographies of gedolim from every generation. Perhaps we also need biographies about “regular” people who are able to shine in their frumkeit as well as their chosen profession. This article about Dr. Weiner, which could possibly be the first step toward that goal, was greatly appreciated and quite refreshing.

  89. Avatar
    Duvi Rubin

    As someone who had very little appreciation for in-depth Gemara learning as a young bochur, I cannot agree more with Rabbi Reuven Leuchter’s message. I will forever be indebted to my high-school rebbi and Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Eliezer Breitowitz shlita of Yeshivas Darchei Torah of Toronto, who offered us a daily daf yomi shiur (which continued through bain hazmanim!) and encouraged the study of Chumash.

    While Rabbi Breitowitz himself is a brilliant lamdan and holds lomdus very dear, he understood that no two students are alike and each of them may require a tailored curriculum, as Chazal (Avodah Zara 19a) advise us “A person can only learn that which interests him.” To tell the truth, it wasn’t until my first year in kollel that I finally fell in love with learning Gemara b’iyun, and ten years later that love continues to grow, baruch HaShem.

    Currently, as the rav of a shul who gives a weekly in-depth Chumash shiur in addition to speaking every Shabbos on the parshah, I feel very fortunate for having spent those formative years studying Chumash. Had my rebbi stifled my desire as a youngster to learn Gemara at its surface level (bekius), coupled with the study of Chumash, I have no doubt that I would not be where I am today.

  90. Avatar
    F. H.

    The timing of Rabbi Besser’s article on Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky could not have been better.
    Rav Kamenetsky did less of taking sides between the Republican and Democratic parties, but more of leading our blessed nation in understanding the matzav we face: We do not have a Democratic party, but rather a socialist party that is promoting anarchy, and when a party stands on G-d being a dirty word, it’s frightening.
    It is incumbent on Klal Yisrael to follow the path set by a gadol b’Yisrael who in his lifetime has seen and experienced so much (he should continue to be gezunt and lead us with his Torahdig wisdom to welcome Mashiach). It’s incumbent on each of us to heed the rav’s guidance.
    I was brought up with the advice to always follow the gedolim of the dor. How beautiful it was to have been reminded of this priceless message on Shabbos Nachamu.

  91. Avatar
    A Proud Wife

    As I was reading the article about Rabbi Ginzberg and his experience with COVID 19, I couldn’t help but compare my experience with his. His story is pretty much what happened to me. Chasdei Hashem I survived too. It was definitely ratzon Hashem and the tefillos of Klal Yisrael that saved me.
    But as much as I love sharing my story, the real hero is my husband. I went to the hospital two days before Pesach, leaving a house that was not at all ready for Pesach because I was so sick. My husband got the house and food ready for Pesach, all the while worrying about me. He led the Sedorim with strength because he knew our children needed some “normalcy” on Yom Tov. After Pesach, he made sure the kids were all calling into their schools on the phone. He kept the house running smoothly all the while not knowing how I was doing.
    Once I got intubated, he really was in the dark. All he got was one phone call a day. Baruch Hashem, he had the support of my parents, his parents, and families. The rabbanim, community, friends and strangers rallied behind him and gave him the support he needed.
    So yes, I went through a tremendous trauma and baruch Hashem experienced a neis, but the real shout-out should go to him!

  92. Avatar
    Mrs. Sara Brejt

    Reb Shloimy Hoffman’s superb article about the very-beloved Rabbi Shmuel Berkovicz ztz”l contained so many stories. Because with Rabbi Berkovicz, it was always about the people. And the stories.
    If I may, I’d like to add another story.
    When our son’s bar mitzvah coincided with the Torah Umesorah convention, we had a feeling that Rabbi Berkovicz, our menahel then in Cleveland, wouldn’t be able to attend our simchah and give his usual divrei brachah. But he called on Friday from the convention and left us a beautiful voicemail filled to the brim with his divrei brachah for our son and for us.
    When I played his message for a visiting relative, she was shocked: “Your principal called you to give you personal divrei brachah!?! Your principal knows you personally!?”
    We had been delighted with his message but weren’t exactly surprised. That was Rabbi Berkovicz. Of course he would call. Her surprise taught me how special he was.
    Needless to say, we didn’t erase that message for a long, long time.
    Something else we hadn’t expected was the way he had almost-apologized for not being able to join us. It wasn’t as though he thought he made the wrong choice in attending the convention. It was more like how a close relative is disappointed at the missed opportunity to share a simchah.
    Seventeen years later, I don’t remember the words he used. But I surely remember the warm feeling.
    Yehei zichro Baruch.

  93. Avatar
    Abba Greenberg

    As the author in All I Ask mentions in the postscript, we have definitely been viewing those who are homeless and/or panhandling with a different perspective.
    This story provided an understanding of how the people living on the streets are there for many different reasons. It has managed to take people that are otherwise viewed and judged with scorn, derision, or indifference and succeeded in humanizing them by giving voice to their hurts, wants, and needs; their stories, lives, and dreams.
    I definitely take notice of these people more that I’ve done in the past, offering a smile and kind word in addition to the few shekels. It isn’t rare that I come home and tell my wife, “I saw Lulu today.”
    Indeed, I saw a person and for a moment I saw an entire world.

  94. Avatar
    Name Withheld

    I read this past week’s LifeLines about a young man struggling to deal with his wife’s misdiagnosed mental illness, and my husband and I really empathized with the very real and true experiences of the dedicated and determined husband and his wife, Avigail.
    I had already had three young children when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar. I was very fortunate in that the first psychiatrist I saw correctly diagnosed my illness and immediately used Abilify to return me to a healthy baseline. I have since then been using lithium with overall success and finally switched to the less dangerous drug, Lamictal.
    There have been some scary episodes during the last 14 years, but I’ve weathered them and bounced back due to the love and support of my dear husband. I know for certain that life with me has no guarantees and he has asked me over the years what I would have done had the roles been reversed. I am thankful to Hashem that I was never in his shoes.
    Over the last several years I have been more or less stable, and been successful and satisfied, with a wonderful career yielding a very good salary. Together with my devoted and loving husband, we maintained a warm and relatively stable atmosphere where my kids thrived, achieving both social and academic success.
    The underlying factor in dealing with Bipolar is that if family members (and particularly, spouses) are committed to the individual and can see past the illness to the core of the person, this makes all the difference in achieving and maintaining stability and normalcy in daily life. It is imperative to take the correct dosage of medication and work with one’s doctor to tweak them until they achieve proper efficacy and compatibility for the person.
    I am in constant awe and admiration for my husband and family for their unwavering support, which continues to sustain me as I travel through the vicissitudes of life.

  95. Avatar
    Y. J.

    In his critique of supposed cancel culture on the right, Eytan Kobre misses a few vital distinctions.
    There is a difference between shaming a person publicly, ruining their livelihood and reputation, and not printing a differing viewpoint. There is also a difference between a supposedly objective news outlet printing one-sided opinion pieces under the guise of news, and the City Journal, which is a publication of a Conservative think tank (translation: opinion) not printing a piece that doesn’t align with its editorial views. Would it be a manifestation of cancel culture for Mishpacha to refuse to print an article supporting semichah of women rabbis? Would you even suggest they would be wrong for firing the contributor who wrote the piece?
    There is also a difference between sometimes criticizing the president — as do most Conservative publications — and suggesting that there is a great danger to the country emanating from his office.
    As an aside, the issue of qualified immunity for police is not just about the prosecution of bad cops. If stripped of all immunity, the fear of prosecution would likely make police risk-averse, thereby emboldening criminals. While the scope of immunity required is debatable, it is a fine line that is hard to draw. In addition, in the current political environment which is unfriendly to law enforcement, it is understandable that such a suggestion would be interpreted as anti-cop.

  96. Avatar

    Our entire family loves Mishpacha and Family First. I find that Mishpacha has a very professional and high-quality level of journalism. Your articles are well-done and cover a wide variety of issues. You are putting out a first-class magazine.
    I want to echo what someone wrote last week about your willingness to interview and present the views of politicians whose views are not popular with much of your readership. You ask them questions and let their own words speak for themselves. Last week, in another forum, a frum Jew wrote that those who do not support Donald Trump are JINO — i.e., Jews In Name Only. This is similar to the term RINO — Republican In Name Only — for those who do not agree with Trump. As a community, we need to realize the level of sinas chinam in calling a fellow Jew a JINO just because he doesn’t follow the crowd. Learn to disagree agreeably.

    1. Avatar

      While reading this week’s Inbox letters on Tishah B’Av — the day when we are reflecting upon the harm done by sinaas chinam — I couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of the two anti-Biden letters to a third letter, “How to Disagree.”
      The first letter writer feels “very strongly that one who supports Biden definitely does not care about Jewish needs or Israel.” It is certainly appropriate for her to list the reasons that she feels Trump is the better candidate, but to insult Jews who disagree with her?
      The second writer did not disparage Biden supporters, but I did get the feeling that s/he was not happy that Mishpacha printed a pro-Biden article.
      I was quite disturbed by the tone of these two letters. Is this what we have come to? We don’t want to read, acknowledge, or respect differing points of view? And, additionally, we must belittle those who feel differently?
      Then the third letter writer politely addressed the issue of avoiding sinaas chinam by advising us not to insult those who disagree with us. It was a breath of fresh air in today’s divisive political climate. Thank you to Rabbi Oberstein for your wise words.

  97. Avatar
    Shuey Schwartz

    Thank you for a diverse and professional publication that allows for so many to shine. I thoroughly enjoyed the serial All I Ask with its implicit critique and appreciation woven perfectly into this well-crafted story.
    With so many dynamics at play, it was written in a profound way with nuanced and believable characters that teach us so much about others and about ourselves. The fact that it was a fictional story makes it less threatening for us to learn from and to accept all the tangible lessons that were to be gleaned from throughout the work.

  98. Avatar
    Name Withheld

    I am a longtime reader of Mishpacha and am appreciative of the insightful commentary from the various writers and contributors to your magazine.
    I would like to comment on something that struck me from Eytan Kobre’s article harshly criticizing both liberal and conservative “cancel culture,” although in fairness, he is not the first writer to raise the issue.
    As I read the article, I could not help wondering if, instead of sitting back and taking aim at the various non-Jewish political factions and commentators for their “policies of cancellation,” it does not behoove us to first take a hard look internally at our own society and its own penchant for canceling those with whom we disagree. As the saying goes, “those in glass houses should not be throwing stones.”
    Have we not seen fine talmidei chachamim abruptly “cancelled” for writing books and seforim that contain opinions about which reasonable Torah minds can disagree? How about gedolim that have been the subject of vicious “cancellations” because of unpopular opinions about subjects that, again, very reasonable people can disagree about. (I was personally in Meah Shearim when one of the acknowledged gedolei hador had his car stoned due to an unpopular opinion that he had vis a vis service in the Nachal Chareidi).
    I can continue with dozens of examples from many facets within our community and I am sure your readers can as well. Instead, let’s perhaps take a moment to reflect on how, amid an outside world that is more divided than ever, we can all work together to create a society in our own community in which healthy discussion, questions, and disagreement are encouraged; kindness is employed to those whom we disagree; and instead of ostracizing those that fall under different rubrics, we embrace them.

  99. Avatar
    Name Withheld

    I was greatly disappointed in Omri Nahmias’s piece on Aaron Keyak, Joe Biden’s director of Jewish outreach.
    Keyak said that Joe Biden has more than a 40-year record. However, during the debates Biden walked back some of his positions and even apologized for some of them. There are no guarantees he won’t walk back some more of them. There is a good possibility that he would revive the Iran deal just when the Ayatollahs seem to be on their knees. I don’t remember VP Biden saying anything when Obama threw Israel under the bus at the UN.
    While the safety and prosperity of Israel are of paramount importance, so are the prosperity and safety of the US. Biden has drifted to the left and this is not just a perception; it is a reality. Keyak didn’t touch upon the Democratic position paper — 110 pages of progressive positions worked on jointly by Biden’s team and Bernie Sanders.
    He might not be an anti-Semite, but he seems to have no problem working with them. Being good at shivah calls is not a recommendation for the position of president.
    If anyone wants to see what this country will look like if it will be run by Progressive Democrats, just take a look at all the large Blue cities like NYC, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon just to name a few.

  100. Avatar
    Still Hurting

    Anybody who read the article about the special Hashgachah pratis merited by Rabbi Ginzberg and his devoted family can’t stop giving thanks to the Ribono shel Olam.
    There is one thing that bothered me, which has nothing to do with Rabbi Ginzberg and his family. The article mentioned that on Erev Pesach, the doctors felt that they were losing the battle and wished to disconnect the machines. A good friend of the Ginzbergs called the executive vice president of NYU and on his instructions, the medical staff was told to redouble their efforts, including a personal update every two hours.
    Clearly, someone who has “pull” gets a second chance in our medical systems today.
    Of course we all believe that everything is destined from Above, but what gives the hospital the right to decide they don’t have to fight for every single patient?
    Imagine how this incident came across to those people who lost close family members. Imagine if they had a family member waiting in the emergency room for a bed to be available — when suddenly a patient arrives and the hospital chaplain, who knows the patient well, gets him a bed right away. And that bed ends up meaning the difference between life and death.
    Who gives the hospital staff the right to do this? The families who lost members can never forgive them.

  101. Avatar
    Alison Rosenberg

    Growing up a Jew in America, I automatically registered as a Democrat. When living in America, I used to volunteer to support Democratic candidates. Over the years, unfortunately, the Democratic Party is not the same.
    I guess Mr. Keyak is too young to remember, but in June 1982 Biden threatened to cut off aid to Israel — not the only time. One only has to look at his record during the Obama/Biden administration. Biden pushed for the Iran deal (which would have spelled the demise of Israel), and sponsored and pushed a UN declaration that Israeli settlements are illegal.
    Now, examine his platform. He wants the US to return to the Iran nuclear deal, cut aid to Israel, and give it to Palestinians. He opposes the annexation of land, and advocates a two-state solution.
    The fact that Biden put on a kippah during a shivah visit means it’s politically advantageous. Speaking at a Rosh Hashanah gathering for House members or attending a “Vodka & Latkes Hanukkah party” does not make him sensitive to Jewish needs or concerns.
    It’s a disgrace that two-thirds or three-quarters of Jews vote Democratic. Unfortunately, a large percentage of Jews are unaffiliated and are not supportive of Israel & Jewish needs.
    If Biden chas v’shalom wins, how can Keyak look at his three-year-old daughter in the face? I’ve never written a letter before, but I feel very strongly that one who supports Biden definitely does not care about Jewish needs or Israel. Look what’s happening now in the US. This could be a forerunner of another Kristallnacht, chas v’shalom.

  102. Avatar
    Yossi Oratz

    Kudos to Ruti Kepler for a great job on All I Ask. The story had so much depth and nuance, and it was thoroughly enjoyable.
    Then came the postscript. As she was going through the postmortem (pun intended), Mrs. Kepler expresses her surprise that people reprimanded her for “killing off” Lulu, and she says:
    “I really don’t know why they wanted so badly to see Lulu stay alive — so he should continue freezing in the Yeruahalmi winters, sleeping in the streets, and go around shabby and unwashed… if they really cared for him, they’d be relieved that he didn’t make it out of the trenches alive.”
    Did I miss something? Is Mrs. Kepler saying that if we deem someone’s life not worth it because of the suffering that we think that they are experiencing, we should be happy when it ends? Do you think Lulu wanted it to end?
    And isn’t this a false dichotomy? Instead of wishing for the end for people with difficult circumstances, can’t we just as well wish (pray) for it to change?
    I had a friend who had severe depression and was near suicidal, and I remember thinking that his life was miserable. I couldn’t see how life would improve for him, or why he wasn’t right that his life wasn’t worth living. I met him two years later, and he was radiant, fulfilled, and had a position of leadership. Somehow, what I wasn’t able to figure out, Hashem did.
    Please, let’s be careful before we insinuate that we are the judges of the value of people’s existence and survival. In truth, that is a Western ideal, and why babies are aborted, life support is disconnected, and physician-assisted suicide is becoming acceptable everywhere. It’s against what we believe in; let’s not forget it, even in our fiction.

  103. Avatar
    Mordechai Blau

    I absolutely loved following the serial All I Ask each week in Mishpacha and was saddened when it ended.
    I just wanted to comment on why a “Yanky” would choose to seek a connection outside the confines of his particular chassidus: perhaps it felt right and resonated with him when the avodah wasn’t just real, but was his own. It was acquired and not just inherited.
    Perhaps it is a good thing if people would be able to search for a path that works for them, if they would have the opportunity to explore different routes and not just stay within a certain framework because of its social construct or familiarity. Perhaps they can be able to do so not only without judgment of family and “friends,” but with their encouragement.
    There was once a time when people would look for a rebbe, for a moreh derech. They would search until they felt that they had found their place, where their soul was on fire and the avodah worked for them, whether the emphasis was on Torah, tefillah, emes, self-negation, chesed, or another. Then they could feel fully part of their chosen derech, instead of being just another statistic for the amount of families “belonging” to this mosad, chassidic court, or community.
    May we have the strength to pursue that.

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    I was very appreciative of the narrator in the LifeLines story about a man who didn’t want to sit shivah for his anti-religious sister. When I read about the insensitive questions of shivah visitors while the narrator was mourning her father, I remembered how it was when my mother sat shivah for my grandfather.
    Similar to the narrator’s story, there were circumstances surrounding my grandfather’s death; and similarly to the narrator, we experienced some inappropriate questions in the shivah house. My grandfather was murdered in a random act of street violence. But since my grandparents were not frum and lived outside the community, many shivah visitors knew nothing about them or what had happened. Some assumed (probably based on my grandmother’s age) that this wasn’t sudden. People came in to be menachem avel without a clue of the circumstances. When they heard the story, they were in shock and (understandably) upset — leaving the mourners in a position to comfort them.
    You would imagine when a family opens up to the community in such a time, they expect the people coming to be menachem avel would be a comfort the mourners, not the other way around! In my family’s case, my father ended up becoming a sort of door guard, preempting visitors with a quick explanation about his father-in-law’s death.
    I don’t know how often something similar (lo aleinu) happens to others, but I want to stress the importance of letting the mourners lead their shivah house. Take a cue from the family and see what they need. Be as kind and sensitive as possible, think before you speak, and do some quick research before you stop by a shivah house so you can appreciate the context of this loss for this family.
    Hopefully through following the halachos that Chazal outlined for us regarding this mitzvah, we can avoid uncomfortable questions such as the “was he sick long?” faced by my mother mourning her murdered father.

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      A Lonely Avel

      The letter from S.G. about insensitive questions at a shivah house was extremely informative. However, in her experience at least the visitors attempted to do the mitzvah of nichum aveilim to some extent.
      When I sat shivah less than two years ago, a group of women from the neighborhood came to the shivah house. They sat in the back and talked among themselves for about a half hour. They got up and left without a word to me whatsoever. This painful scene repeated itself every day of my shivah, albeit with a fresh group of women.
      I learned from this experience that while the frum community prides itself on doing chesed, in reality they only do chesed for their inner circle of friends. While S.G.’s complaint is valid, at least her family had many friends to come and be menachem avel.

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        Mrs. R. Atkins

        I was sorry to read the letter titled “Is this Chesed?” in your Inbox page, in which “a lonely avel” described her difficult experience of sitting shivah after the loss of a relative.
        Obviously, a person sitting shivah is in a vulnerable situation, and it sounds like she was hurt by the behavior of some of the visitors, who “sat in the back and talked among themselves.”
        Whilst acknowledging her pain, I would like to reassure her that I am sure there was no ill intent here, and the behavior that understandably upset her was the result merely of thoughtlessness, embarrassment, or lack of awareness of how to behave in such a situation. After all — although not overly endowed in the tact department — these people did take the trouble to come!
        Additionally, the writer may not be aware that halachically, until the avel initiates a conversation, the visitor is not meant to say anything to them. If the visitors “got up and left without saying a word to me,” maybe this conversation was not initiated, and therefore they were not able to respond.
        I feel that to extrapolate from this admittedly challenging experience that people in the frum community “only do chesed for their inner circle of friends” is mistaken. The frum community worldwide is renowned for its exceptional levels of chesed and volunteerism. In my own community in North London we have dozens of chesed organizations and gemachs — and this is typical of such communities all over. Those ladies who lacked the awareness of how to behave at a shivah are likely the very same people cooking for new mothers, visiting the sick, and raising money for charity — often without even knowing the name of the recipients of their chesed!
        May Hashem comfort all the mourners, and may we celebrate only happy occasions together.

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      Thank you for the discussion about shivah etiquette. I graciously hosted a shivah in my house for my non-biological relatives. My kids were anxious that the shivah visitors would “go into their rooms and mess up their stuff” and I promised them that this wouldn’t occur… right??
      It did, and more. Many young women who were related to one person sitting shivah came with their kids and hung out for hours on end, prompting me to think that the shivah was their kids’ entertainment for the day. Throughout the week, it happened countless times that I walked into my kitchen and found a woman feeding her baby there. And a toddler found his way into a kid’s room and played with whatever he saw.
      When I complained at work, coworkers told me that “it is considered normal these days for people to bring their children and babies to a shivah house.”
      What drove me to the edge was the parents of these nursing babies who were doing a beautiful parenting job, but in the wrong place at the wrong time. Can Klal Yisrael establish a new minhag — that it is not appropriate to bring children to a shivah house, no matter how cute they are and how much one particular avel wants to see them?! Doing this may bring nechamah to one avel, while being terribly insensitive to everyone else.

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      Been There

      The letter “Is this Chesed” highlighted a very important topic — sensitivity to aveilim in our community.

      Insensitive behavior during a shivah call is not really an issue of chesed. It’s middos. Sensitivity. Thoughtfulness. It requires not only knowing the halachah, but taking that extra step in understanding the person and going out of your way to meet their needs.

      An aveil is in a truly vulnerable place, and in hindsight, he will need to exercise ayin tovah and dan lekaf zechus for the visitors who meant well but didn’t exactly say or do it right. Yet it still behooves the visitors to try their best.

      I would like to offer one piece of advice to “still hurting” and other aveilim who feel negatively about their experience. After my own shivah, I expressed that “the world is divided into two people: those who have sat shivah, and those who haven’t.” Now that you have sat in that chair, and you know at least on a basic level what an aveil wants, use that knowledge to help others.

      My shivah had many disappointments — thoughtless comments and neglect of the needs of the aveilim. Now, when I hear of a shivah house, even if it’s someone I don’t know, I do my best to make sure they have meals, a minyan, and visitors. I have sent meals to homes I never visited and I’ve sat with mourners I never met before. I am no special person or big baalas chesed, but I made it my mission to do my part in contributing to the beis aveil.

      Anyone can do this, and those who have sat shivah and know the pain can probably do it best. That’s one way to turn your hurt into something meaningful.

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    When I glanced at the Mishpacha this week and saw Bill de Blasio on the cover, I thought it would be yet another warmongering article about the “sadistic, anti-Semitic New York mayor.” Well, who would’ve thought that Mishpacha would be a vehicle for a mussar lesson in dan l’chaf zechus.
    Although I’m not a fan of Bill de Blasio, nor do I think his handling of the coronavirus situation was well executed, I cannot describe the admiration and pride for the magazine and its writer that grew slowly and steadily as I read the article. It did not resort to the vitriol of constant name-calling and insults that I have seen on other news outlets, but was rather a fair and informative inspection of de Blasio’s career.
    At a time when people are clamoring for less bias in reporting, I’m surprised and pleased to find the most fair and balanced news here in the Jewish community. I actually noticed this a couple weeks back when you quoted a liberal professor who, at least in my opinion, seemed to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Not that I agree with her views — quite the contrary — but it was remarkably refreshing to see a different perspective that countered the other contributors to the article, and, frankly, probably the magazine’s own position.

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    Nuchem Samson

    Thank you for the serial All I Ask; our family really enjoyed reading it each week. There were so many subplots and dynamics within this carefully crafted offering. I was particularly taken by “Yanky” and his uncertainties, self-perception, and eventual discovery of his own mashpia.
    There is a place to question certain things. Instead of getting disillusioned, we can search for a place, mashpia, and environment that reflect our values and where our heart and soul connect to. Yanky is misunderstood, but one must do what’s best for them and their growth even when it is seemingly unconventional.
    I also like that in the portrayal, he remained part of the chassidus and maintained an appreciation of it and was in awe of the Rebbe. I also loved the intimate scene in which the Rebbe bentshes him after their frank conversation, and later the Rebbe’s very public acceptance of Yanky’s derech.
    There are many of us who would have loved to be in his prestigious position regardless of the inner turmoil. It takes someone who is self-aware to call himself out and strong enough to eventually do something about it, with Yanky redirecting his energies once he chanced upon something he connected to.

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    It was good to see that I wasn’t the only one who took issue with your article in defense of Mayor de Blasio. Those of us with some degree of objectivity have observed not just Mr. de Blasio’s outrageous tweet and public statements about the entire “Jewish” community (for which he offered a half-baked — “I’m sorry if my words offended anybody” — apology), but also numerous actions, especially of late.
    Mr. de Blasio has decided for some reason (maybe the stress of coronavirus or his miserably failed presidential bid) to pursue his ideology over his previously shrewd political calculations. He has revealed that he truly isn’t our friend and certainly doesn’t give our needs or concerns any special consideration (notwithstanding who he hires as window dressing for our community).
    What is worse is that he is making this once (somewhat) peaceful city
    that has long been a refuge for Jews and so many others, into a place where a law-abiding citizen will not want (or be able) to live in.

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    Thank you for sharing with your readers the neis our family experienced with my father’s recovery. Many of them have davened for him and the article was a true testament to the koach hatefillah.
    There is another story there however, a special zechus that pushed those tefillos straight to the Kisei Hakavod. It’s the story of the power of the purest and unquestioning emunah of our mother, Rebbetzin Avigail Ginzberg. Her strength and fierce faith that everything Hashem does is good is no doubt what carried all of us siblings through this ordeal.
    When my mother would tell me about a doctor’s report, no matter how grim, it followed with: “Remember! This is only a doctor talking, we know and believe there is no limit to what Hashem can do, don’t forget that for a second!”
    The night a name was added to my father and my mother was given a terrible prognosis was a sleepless one for me, filled with paralyzing terror and tears. I was across the world from my family, terrified what the next phone call would bring. In the morning, upon sharing my fears with my mother I finally said, “Ima, please tell me your secret! How do you sound so normal?”
    Her response will be etched in my mind forever. “I couldn’t sleep either, so I asked myself to imagine a world famous COVID specialist calling me, saying he understands the disease 100 percent and knows exactly how to treat Abba. How calm and comforted would I feel? Abba is so clearly in the Hands of the Master Doctor, how could I not sleep well?”
    Well hidden behind our father and family is a giant of a mother and wife whose ironclad bitachon and love for HaKadosh Baruch Hu pulled us through and enabled us to emerge strengthened and inspired.
    Besuros tovos for all of Klal Yisrael.

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    M. A. Hoffman

    Thank you for Yisroel Besser’s article portraying the relationship between NYC mayor Bill de Blasio and the Jewish community.
    I fully agree with the quotes attributed to the mayor’s Orthodox Jewish liaison Mr. Pinny Ringel (a personal friend whose outstanding service and hard work for the Jewish community is worthy of an article by itself) that Mayor de Blasio is a true friend of the Jewish and especially the Orthodox Jewish community.
    For years it was well known to all askanim that Assemblyman de Blasio (before he was mayor) has open doors for any askan that wanted help with any cause. True, the mayor made an unfortunate mistake in the now-infamous tweet and quote, but you don’t judge a person by just one deed. And you surely don’t cease a years-long relationship with a person who — still even after this whole episode — is helpful to the Jewish community.
    The fact alone that the mayor of NYC has a close confidant and aide who wears long black socks and a shtreimel and never hides his identity speaks volumes for itself.

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    H. T.

    I’m an unabashed fan of Mishpacha in general and Yisroel Besser in particular. Anything he writes is automatically is on the top of my reading list whether it be an article, autobiography etc. However, this week’s pandering article on Bill de Blasio was revolting and unbecoming of even a lesser magazine or writer, let alone the best.
    It completely glossed over the fact that de Blasio has managed to repeal 20 years of Giuliani and Bloomberg’s work in a matter of weeks, plunging the city into chaos and lawlessness. Take the fact that small businesss are starving, wondering how to survive, while large stores are allowed open and people can do whatever they want in the streets. That on the night that NYC was burning with looting, the NYPD had cars patrolling Williamsburg, warning people not to go to shul.
    You are so quick to condemn Simcha Felder, Kalman Yeger, and Simcha Eichenstein who actually showed up for the community without even bothering to hear their side of the story. The rebuttal of the article can be as long as the article itself and then some. You reduced everything that has gone wrong to “bad luck.”
    I hope never to have to see anything like this article again.

  111. Avatar

    It was with mixed feelings that we read the last chapter of Ruti Kepler’s phenomenal serial.
    On the one hand we are so sad it’s finished — it was the first thing my husband and I read every week! But what a beautiful ending, the perfect finale to a most wonderful story.
    How does she do it? Writers like Ruti Kepler are definitely few and far between. She has an amazing way of bringing out each character from all kinds of walks of life and making you feel like you know them personally. Even though it was a fiction story, the powerful message made it inspirational reading.
    We will miss reading about Yanky and Bugi and Lulu….
    With grateful thanks for a superb publication week in and week out.

  112. Avatar

    As a longtime chaver of Rav Chaim Aryeh Zev Ginzberg, ever since he moved in to the neighborhood decades ago, I was extremely moved, as was my entire family, by reading the personal account of his miraculous journey from the threshold of death to his miraculous recovery.
    Rav Ginzberg has been a pillar of support for so many in this community and has always been there for the institutions of Torah and chessed that make the Five Towns a paradigm of the three pillars that hold up the world.
    Throughout the years, our entire community lived with the Ginzberg family’s trials and tribulations, their joys and their sorrows. We cried with them in their losses and danced with them in their joys. They have shared their most private grief with so many of us, only to help others take solace and faith in emulating their fortitude. We cannot thank them enough for allowing what would be so private a matter to be recorded for eternity for all to share. Their sharing the story with the world will only serve as a roadmap of emunah and bitachon to any family enduring medical crisis.
    It is not the first time they have afforded the opportunity to glean from their emunah in HaKadosh Boruch Hu and the gedolei Torah of our generation. The powerful hespeidim that Rav Ginzberg gave for his grandson and daughter, may they have a lichtigeh Gan Eden, still reverberate in my heart. More so, their taking those difficulties and transforming their tragedies into the conception of joy for others, takes a vision that transcends a life led for personal meaning and transforms it into a life lived for others.
    There is no doubt that all the tefillos said throughout Sarala’s life, and the chesed and tzedakah realized after her passing stood at the gates of Heaven, forcing them all to ensure that Rav Ginzberg sees many more long and healthy years to continue together with his Rebbetzin to be a force of tzedakah, chesed, and inspiration for many years to come.

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    H. J.

    I was very distressed to read an article full of chanifah toward Bill de Blasio, a leftist who does not share our values. The article reads as an apologia for the askanim who need to justify their support for him.
    He was never our friend, but he was an astute-enough politician to trade some favors for the support that enabled him to be elected mayor of New York City. The person who observed many years ago that we should not support his run for mayor because he was a supporter of the Sandanista thugs was much more perceptive of Bill de Blasio’s character than the professional askanim.
    His current behavior shows that he never graduated from supporting leftist thuggery. Supporting leftist thuggery is not liberal.
    I also disagree that de Blasio is the victim of bad luck or bad timing. He inherited a city that had crime under control and was on reasonable financial footing. Very good luck indeed. De Blasio managed to squander the legacy left for him by Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg, who were far more competent than de Blasio.
    Better silence than chanifah.

  114. Avatar

    Ruti Kepler, how could you? How could you end All I Ask and how could you “kill” both Sandy and Shalom (Lulu)?
    Every Thursday when I get my Mishpacha I allow myself to read one or two articles. It’s like tasting the cholent before Shabbos. All I Ask was one of those. In hindsight, it’s a good thing I didn’t save it for Shabbos, when you’re not allowed to cry.
    I seriously loved this story. The plot, the characters, and their delopment: the Rebbe, the watchmaker, Yanky, and Raizele.