"I think it’s terribly unhealthy for them to get a message that they should be deprived or seen as misfits because their father is learning"
They Didn’t Choose This [Inbox / Issue 902]
I enjoyed the vivid mashal painted by the “Mashgiach in Yerushalayim” who wrote to the Inbox last week, explaining that kollel couples make a choice to live with less gashmiyus as an investment that will yield greater returns down the line. As someone who is fortunate enough to belong to the kollel demographic, this was a good reminder why I shouldn’t feel deprived even though my wardrobe, sheitel, shoes, home, etc., are not the latest look, to put it mildly.
But I fail to see how this mashal applies to the Double Take story about a mother shopping for her teens. My children did not make the decision to forgo gashmiyus for their father’s learning. One day they’ll make their choice, but right now they have the same social desires and need to fit in that every child their age experiences.
I don’t think that my teenage daughters have to wear last season’s clothing because of a choice I made. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that they show up to school events with the “wrong” coat, backpack, or shoes. I think it’s terribly unhealthy for them to get a message that they should be deprived or seen as misfits because their father is learning.
Yes, I am an adult who has made a conscious decision to live on a lower standard, but they are not adults yet, nor have they made any choices here.
Maybe I’m missing something?
Warmed My Heart [Story for the Ages / Issue 902]
It warmed my heart to read the story behind the wonderful double cassette of The Purim Story. I purchased it for my children probably over 20 years ago and since then I have updated it for the double CD set. Every Chodesh Adar, the children listened again and again and knew the story by heart.
One year, they decided to make their own Purim play using the narration on the CD. They practiced and practiced and with my old video player I recorded it until it came out perfect. Oh, the laughs we had every year when we watched it, reminiscing the characters the children played.
Thank you again to Rabbi Greenwald and Rabbi Kirsch for such wholesome, Yiddishe fun.
Mrs. S. Friedman, Brooklyn
Still Playing [Story for the Ages / Issue 902]
It was with great excitement that I read the article about everyone’s favorite Purim album, The Purim Story. The day that I spent in the studio is one of my favorite days of my life, and I recall it with very fond memories over 32 years later.
Reb Yossi Kirsch and Rabbi Greenwald managed to create a masterpiece that I still listen to with my children. My daughter went to seminary a few years ago with Rabbi Greenwald’s daughter and the two of them were so proud and excited as the album played on repeat in the dormitory hallways all day long.
Mentioned in the article was the non-Jewish studio engineer Steve Yates, who has also been the bass guitarist in our family band for 45 years. He has spent many Purim mesibos playing music with us in Telshe Yeshivah Chicago, but the comment he made to us the year when this album came out sticks in my head. He looked at us and excitedly told us, “Now I understand why you celebrate!”
Thank you for spotlighting an amazing album and such amazing people.
Family Ties [Nest of Golden Eggs / Issue 902]
Your feature concerning the late Rabbi Mordechai Sufrin (a.k.a. Reb Modche) and his sons brought back some fantastic memories. The connection between us and the Sufrin family has been, and still is, a source of immense pleasure.
In 1984 we “made aliyah” to Crown Heights and I got to know our neighbor, Chavie (Sufrin) Spalter. She in turn introduced us to Rebbetzin Chani (Sufrin) Bukiet and her husband (now shluchim in Florida) and my husband and I had the zechus of being kvatter for their son.
Then, over 30 years ago, Eli, Shmully, and Yissie (Yisroel) became our annual Tishrei guests at our home in Crown Heights for a few years. As teenagers, they were loud and excitable, and they injected an incredible amount of energy into the Yamim Noraim. We looked forward every year to their visit. Their singing was incredible and we didn’t stop laughing from the minute they arrived until the moment they left.
Fast-forward, and Rabbi Mendel Sufrin in Leeds is today a significant support for our family. Until she moved from Leeds to London to be near my sister, my late mother, who passed away this past Rosh Chodesh Sivan, was a stalwart member of his Monday morning shiur. She considered Rabbi Sufrin a true chassidishe mensch and a friend, and held him in the highest regard, as do we. Rabbi Sufrin always showed incredible warmth, kindness, and respect to my mother and at her levayah and hakamas matzeivah, he spoke very movingly, which afforded us great comfort.
We were able to be at Rabbi Sufrin’s levayah in Jerusalem — his passing was a huge loss not only to UK Jewry but to everyone whose lives were touched by him. The Sufrins are known for their strong chassidishe and Yiddishe values; Rebbetzin Freyda and her late husband raised a wonderful family. We personally can attest to that.
I hope the “boys” enjoyed their Tishrei visits with us as much as we did and remember those years with fondness. Reading this article gave my husband and me the opportunity to reminisce over our Shabbos table.
Thank you for featuring the Sufrins and helping us take a wonderful trip down Memory Lane.
Hindy Lewis, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel
Reductive and Offensive [New School of Thought / Issue 901]
I was genuinely disturbed to see the headline question, “These days it can feel like all kids have ADHD” in the magazine feature “New School of Thought.” Mishpacha would never consider printing the phrase “these days, it feels like all kids are autistic.” But ADHD and autism are both examples of neurodiversity.
The notion that “everyone is a little ADHD” is reductive and offensive — it denies a genuine disability and implies that sufferers of ADHD could be like everyone else if they tried harder.
Difficulty focusing is just one of a long list of ADHD symptoms that includes disorganization, time blindness, executive dysfunction, poor working memory, and yes, hyperactivity and distractibility.
Having ADHD makes life a constant struggle. It often contributes to mental illness because of the constant sense of failure and the sheer exhaustion that comes with living a normal day. Perhaps the headline could have been framed as “These days, it feels like kids can’t focus,” or something similar. Not as catchy, true, but also not as hurtful.
Sure, modern society’s structure highlights the prevalence of ADHD, and I’m certain that excessive screen time is not helpful in developing focus, but ADHD has been around forever. (According to CHADD, a website for ADHD, Hippocrates mentioned it in the 4th century BCE).
Could we please start taking ADHD seriously, as a genuine disability and not an example of yeridas hadoros? I’m so tired of the thinking that ADHD is a moral failing...
I’d love to sign my name, but with society the way it is, I can’t do that to my extended family.
A reader with ADHD
The Right Thing to Do [The Angel of Curaçao / Issue 901]
On behalf of Boys Town Jerusalem’s 950 students, I thank Mishpacha for the feature article on Jan Zwartendijk, “The Angel of Curaçao.”
As you noted, we had the distinct privilege of enabling our school to honor and make others aware of this noble shlucha d’Rachmana and of the role Zwartendijk played in saving so many lives, including the choshuve rabbanim, roshei yeshivah, and talmidim who would go on to plant seeds of Torah in America.
I’m proud to share that honoring Jan Zwartendijk’s heroic deeds over two decades ago inspired Boys Town Jerusalem to inaugurate an extraordinary program in his name to preserve his memory and honor others who did the right thing because it was the right thing to do.
Our special thanks to Libi Astaire for her extensive research on Jan Zwartendijk and her excellent skills in presenting this must-know chapter of Jewish and Holocaust history.
Ronald Gray, Lakewood, NJ
Only in Jerusalem [The Angel of Curacao / Issue 901]
Thank you for sharing the extraordinary story of Jan Zwartendijk. Your very well-written article sheds light on this little-known hero who risked his life to save thousands of Yehudim.
I first learned about him several years ago on a trip to Israel where I visited the Boys Town Jerusalem campus and saw the impressive Zwartendijk Memorial Garden. One of the students there told me for the first time about Jan Zwartendijk’s bravery. Only in Jerusalem: A boy whose grandparents had fled Morocco to Palestine introduced me to the story of a righteous Dutch gentile who had saved Polish Jews during the Holocaust.
Thank you for your part in honoring Jan Zwartendijk.
No Trace of Luxury [Limited Edition / Double Take — Issue 900]
When it comes to shopping and materialism, we would do well to remember the words of Sara Schenirer 100 years ago (collected writings 1955, “The Fifteenth of Av,” translated from the Yiddish).
“This last observance [Jewish girls gathering for shidduchim on Tu B’Av in the olden times] is especially relevant to Jewish daughters and we should take note of what it teaches us in our generation... Jewish girls would gather for their special Yom Tov not only in simple white, but in borrowed dresses. No trace of luxury sparkles in their dress. There is none of the foolish pride that the rich feel toward the poor, which causes the latter to constantly try to imitate the pursuits and enjoyments of the wealthy. Everyone must wear borrowed clothing to demonstrate that nothing that we possess is ours, rather it is sent by Hashem. We need only to be shown what to do with this gift. Such Yamim Tovim were a true sign of the level of ruchniyus and morals of Jewish daughter of that time.”
Frau Schenirer’s message is certainly relevant to us today. We have come so far in so many areas of Yiddishkeit in the last 100 years, but our focus on clothing and other externals could use some recalibrating to put them in the proper perspective.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 903)
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