“Kol hakavod to Mishpacha for shedding light on addiction, and also showing that there is help and recovery”
Shedding Courageous Light [Letters to My Addicted Self / Issue 930]
I had to point out how courageous and brave Bracha Toiv is. It is not an easy task to write about your addiction. You open yourself up to people’s different views and opinions. As someone who recently shared her own experience with addiction in Family First (“A Bitter Pill”), I know firsthand how brave that is.
Bracha tells and shares her addiction experience from a completely different point of view, and I applaud her for it. May the Eibeshter continue to give her strength to continue living with menuchas hanefesh and simchas hachayim in a sober way, physically and emotionally.
I also wanted to convey huge respect to Mishpacha magazine for refusing to be quieted down from this controversial topic. There are many people in our communities who will continue to stick their heads in the ground and refuse to see what could be happening in their own four walls, while berating the magazine for their “improper” content. Kol hakavod to Mishpacha for shedding light on addiction, and also showing that there is help and recovery.
May you continue to be a beacon of light to all those around you.
Still Ringing in His Ears [EndNote / Issue 930]
I enjoyed Ding’s recent piece about Rav Yisrael Taub of Modzhitz. When I lived in Cleveland, I once visited our late rabbi, Rav Grumer ztz”l, who was hospitalized at the time. At the same time he was also visited by Rav Nochum Zev Dessler ztz”l, the legendary head of the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland.
Rav Dessler told of the time he was in Kobe, Japan, in 1940 with Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch ztz”l of Telz. It was Rosh Hashanah, and on the first day, Rav Bloch served as the shaliach tzibbur for Shacharis and the Modzhitzer Rebbe as shaliach tzibbur for Mussaf, and on the second day they switched. I could tell that the memory of that davening was still ringing in his ears.
Yehei zichram baruch.
Aron Epstein, CPA
Ramat Bet Shemesh
Practically Hopeless [Open Mic / Issue 930]
Gedalia Guttentag’s piece about “Shleyma,” the completely assimilated Israeli who knew nothing about Yiddishkeit, resonated with me the other day as I experienced a similarly sad encounter.
I was being treated for a minor medical issue by a physician assistant. She was intelligent and quite knowledgeable. In fact, when I mentioned Yom Kippur, she said she knows of it. She went on to tell me that she is engaged to a Jewish man and they’re planning their destination wedding for November 2023.
“I asked him to tell me about Yom Kippur,” she continued, “but he didn’t know anything about it.”
I asked her if her husband’s family had been in the US for many generations and she answered in the affirmative.
My beloved mother a”h used to use the term “uhnglick” when referring to a situation that was practically hopeless. Let us daven that more Yidden will return to their tradition while the world continues to hope for the end of Yiddishkeit.
For the Common Man Too [A Prince and a Servant / Issue 929]
During our long and meaningful relationship over 50 years in Chicago, he experiences I had with Yaakov Rajchenbach included both business and personal matters. Yaakov wasn’t just a prince among men, but a compassionate force for the residents in his long-term care facilities as well.
As a young businessman, Yaakov was always looking for ways to motivate and inspire those given over to his care in his nursing-home facilities throughout the Chicagoland area. When I spoke to Yaakov over 35 years ago about instituting a new and creative photography program in his homes to both inspire and motivate his residents, he enthusiastically agreed to initiate the program. Over the years of its existence, it provided inspiration to thousands of residents in similar facilities.
Whenever he saw me at a community simchah, he would often joke, “Hey, Reuven, how are our residents doing? Why didn’t I think of that program myself? Keep up the great work!”
His enthusiasm and boundless energy not only touched the frum community in Chicago and around the country but the common folk as well.
So Yaakov Rajchenbach was not just a prince, but also a man of the common people who looked to him for the inspiration and hope that would otherwise have been lost.
Reuven Turk, Jerusalem
Unusual but Effective [Stones that Speak / Issue 929]
Thank you for your magazine and interesting informative articles. We enjoy them very much.
We used to work for an out-of-town chevra kaddisha, and there we learned a very helpful if unusual way to read old matzeivos: with shaving cream!
We actually used the method when we went to Europe to our kivrei avos. My son sprayed the cream on the words and then used a credit card to wipe off the excess. The words were then filled in and I snapped a picture of the inscription. Because it was a very hot day, the cream melted very fast, so we only did one line at a time, but we got to read what a chashuve great-grandfather we had.
Keep up the good work.
Walls that Still Stand [If Walls Could Speak / Issue 928]
I enjoyed reading the article about the Kobersdorf shul. The article mentions the fact that the walls of this shul were not destroyed. I know of another shul where the same happened.
In Homburg in the Saarland, the hometown of my maternal grandfather (not to be confused with the more famous Hamburg in the north), the walls of the shul still stand to this day. My late grandmother took me there in 1992. Since then, the city has turned the shul into a memorial for the Jews who perished during the Nazi persecutions.
The other point is the name of one of the towns of the Sheva Kehillos, namely Deutschkreutz. The article mentions it was better known as Zeilem without explaining why. I’d like to offer an explanation. The word kreutz in German means cross. So Deutschkreutz would translate literally as “German cross.” Zeilem is the word used by German Yiddish-speaking Jews when referring to the cross, from the Hebrew “tzelem” or idol.
Thanks again for a wonderful article.
Gitty Should Express Her Needs [Growth Curve serial]
I’m really enjoying the Growth Curve serial in your magazine. I’m finding the conflicts interesting and relatable.
In fact, as a new kollel wife, I went through the same thing as Gitty — my husband hadn’t been aware of the boundaries needed in shanah rishonah, and instead he kept up his rigorous learning schedule, leaving no window of time for any of my needs or building our relationship.
I disagree with the letter writer who responded that she thinks Gitty’s issue is that she hasn’t “fully internalized what the lifestyle she signed up for entails,” hoping Gitty will learn to find happiness in her own four walls.
What I truly hope for Gitty, which is what I needed to learn as a young kollel wife, is to find happiness in her own skin. I don’t think Gitty or anyone else should expect Gitty to become Rebbetzin Kanievsky overnight. The types of things Gitty wants are not out of the norm, especially for shanah rishonah, and don’t indicate that she doesn’t value her husband’s learning.
Going out for lunch with her husband once a week (especially when she has the financial means to do so), spending more time with her husband in the evening, and going to a very close relative’s chasunah with him are all normal things to want and need in shanah rishonah, even as a kollel wife. I hope Gitty will learn to be confident and express her needs clearly without shame, and I hope her husband will learn to take care of those needs.
I think this is a common problem — schools and seminaries instill ideals into girls, causing shame if they can’t live up to great rebbetzins, and leading them to ignore their very human desires, which often can and do coexist with a kollel lifestyle.
Thank you for writing a serial that addresses this important topic.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 932)
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