“Serials and fiction stories have done a great job illustrating the extremes and stereotypes, but please don’t forget that there are many, many people in Israel who are living a regular lifestyle”
Common Vision [Top Priority / Issue 932]
It was a pleasure to read your article about Rabbi Shaya Cohen. There is little doubt that Rabbi Cohen belongs to the vanguard of contemporary “matzdikei harabbim,” and is eminently worthy of our admiration and praise.
Interestingly, he paid us a visit at the headquarters of Torah Umesorah (TU) before Yom Tov, and we enjoyed a lengthy discussion about his Teach and Reach initiative. What was particularly heartwarming was a demonstration of “Harbeh shluchim laMakom — Hashem has many emissaries.” I mean to say that what emerged from our meeting was that Rabbi Cohen and TU share a common vision, namely of elevating the awareness of fundamentals of hashkafah among today’s talmidim and talmidos.
That objective for TU, as embraced by our Vaad Roshei Yeshivah, began to be implemented a number of years ago as a joint endeavor of TU and its partner, Gateways. Indeed, the agenda is playing an increasingly prominent role among the imperatives for today’s Torah educators.
Over the past seven years, TU’s “Ve’emunoscha Baleilos” program has trained several hundred rebbeim and moros in the basics, to enable them to transmit them further to their students. It was my feeling that this would be a worthwhile message to your readers, so that they might know that our organization is heavily involved in the same sacred task as Rabbi Cohen is. While there are slight nuances that are unique to each of us, the sacred objective is shared.
May the efforts of TU, Rabbi Cohen, and others who seek to seize the moment regarding the chizuk and chinuch of our generation, advance the coming of the Geulah speedily in our days.
Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Klein
Director of Publication & Communications, Torah Umesorah
Director of Zechor Yemos Olam
Let’s Sing Along [The Case for Singing during Davening / Issue 931]
I read with great interest Rabbi Moshe Hauer’s article about the need for singing during davening to help with kavanah. I have also always thought that this is very important and was very happy to see Mishpacha print an article addressing this topic.
However, I feel that there is another more basic need for singing during davening. That is, simply to wake people up to the fact that they are in shul talking to Hashem! I once saw a joke related by Rabbi Nosson Scherman in the Yated’s chinuch roundtable regarding this topic of singing in shul: A man in shul finds himself with his tefillin shel yad on his arm and his shel rosh on the table, and he’s not sure if he’s putting on his tefillin and still needs to daven, or he’s taking them off and can go home.
Now, while I agree with Rabbi Hauer that it’s not possible to sing in shul on a random Tuesday, at least on Shabbos, when davening is longer and can get boring, we should try to improve this issue. Many people go through davening without even realizing that it’s happening. They simply aren’t present. Davening becomes habitual and boring, not something that we enjoy, but rather a chore that we do just because we’re supposed to. But then we might not even be aware that we’re there.
There are also many people who don’t have this issue, and when they come to shul they have a feeling of geshmak without any external help. Just the fact that they are talking to Hashem is enough. But many others can’t access such a feeling in today’s world for a variety of reasons, and for them singing can help bring life into our shuls and help them feel a geshmak when davening. This will make going to shul something to look forward to, both for ourselves and for our children.
Why So Extreme? [Vacation Altercation / Double Take – Issue 931]
After reading the Double Take story in the Succos issue, I found myself quite bothered. Not by anything in the story’s conflict, but rather by how the family was portrayed.
Along similar lines, I have been enjoying the new “Growth Curve” serial very much, and have followed many of the magazine’s aliyah pro-and-con discussions.
It seems to me that Americans in Israel are portrayed in one of two ways: either as a kollel couple, with a wife who is working super hard, living a very minimal lifestyle, no new furniture, new clothes, etc.; or as the very wealthy ones, who are supported, sporting all the latest trends and styles.
I am very disturbed by this, and that’s because there is a whole middle class that seems to be missed: us “normal” families.
We’re mostly self-supported, with husbands working and or learning. We are the middle class who are baruch Hashem neither poor nor rich. We are not cramming huge families into two-bedroom apartments, running from sale to sale. At the same time, we are not supported, dressing our kids and ourselves in the latest trends. Perhaps we shop for them on Shein; we go to IKEA now and then. Our home is messy and lively, we are busy working hard to make it to the end of the month — just like many, many families.
I think the serials and fiction stories have done a great job illustrating the extremes and stereotypes, but please don’t forget that there are many, many people in Israel who are living a regular lifestyle.
Chassia Thau, RBS
Not Just a Game [Playing with Matches / Issue 931]
Yasher koach on the excellent and very informative article on shadchanim in the Succos 5783 issue. I felt very privileged to be listening as they whispered their secrets!
Most of all, kudos to Rabbi Meir Levi and his terrific shout-out for “Perfect Matches,” the interactive Jewish dating Game. Baruch Hashem, I was Divinely inspired to create the game in 2012. It took two and a half years from the time I wrote the very first question on a paper napkin in a restaurant until it finally went into production — and now, to my amazement, it’s been updated for its fourth printing. Completely sold out worldwide during Covid and then later caught in supply chain issues, the new stock has finally arrived in the US and is being distributed by CIS in Judaica stores all over the world once again.
But I’d like to take it a step further and extend myself via this letter to facilitate more and more in-person events, such as those conducted by halachically endorsed organizations like the awesome Adopt a Shadchan. If any of Mishpacha’s readers or shadchanim would like to organize similar supervised events (approximately 10-50 singles to a Perfect Matches Marathon/Speed Dating type program) I would be happy to facilitate. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.
And to all the Not-Yet-Marrieds reading this... please know we’re davening for you! Believe me, your Perfect Match is out there looking for you, too.
Joy Glicker Lieber
High School Highlights [The Grand Tour / Issue 931]
Sheila Schwebel is much too modest in relating her trip services. She is a master of planning and organizing.
While I was employed as the principal of HANC High School, Sheila organized our junior and senior trips every spring. Before our three-day trips to Virginia, our bus would stop at Sheila’s house to pick up boxes of food and snacks for the hungry hordes, as well as picking up Sheila. After two or three years, all we did was pick up the food; her organization was so perfect that the trip practically ran itself. The same was true for our junior trips to Boston.
Memories of her trips have been indelibly etched in our alumni’s minds as the highlights of their high school years.
Thank you, Sheila.
Rabbi Schaye Schonbrun
Where Customers Were Family [Behind the Counter / Talking Shop Collection — Issue 931]
Reading about the iconic Bochner’s grocery store in Boro Park brought back many memories of my grandparents, Reb Moshe and Mrs. Nechama (Nacha) Bochner. Only the bricks are witness to the countless acts of chesed and tzedakah performed in that store without fanfare.
Although Reb Moshe was a Holocaust survivor who endured many hardships, he emerged smiling. He was a gentle soul who exuded love and kindness. The kids in the neighborhood all gravitated toward him, as he always had a good word and a good nosh for them. During the cold winter months, he insisted that they wait inside the store for their buses so they could keep warm.
Reb Moishe was a true chassid whose heart and soul were bound to his rebbe. It is said that he was the one to crown Rav Shloime Halberstam zy”a as Bobover Rebbe — by bringing him the first kvittel in Italy, soon after the war. Many a time, Reb Moishe would empty out the entire cash register and hand over its contents to his rebbe.
His emunah was unshakeable. He loved Hashem and his mitzvos and could frequently be heard saying, “nur far Dir alein.” He fasted Beha”b (Monday, Thursday, and Monday after Succos and Pesach) and always had a sefer in his hand.
Anyone who stepped into Bochner’s — regardless of age, capability, or mental capacity — was treated with dignity and respect. Customers became family and received the trademark Bochner’s personalized service. Dispensing loans, cashing checks and providing groceries to those who couldn’t pay were frequent occurrences.
The chesed extended into the Bochners’ own home, which was situated on top of the store. A diverse rotation of relatives lived with the Bochners for extended periods of time, and some stayed in the small apartment for years, even though it meant the Bochner children had to sleep on the couch.
May M. Bochner’s grocery store continue its founders’ legacy of integrity and good deeds coupled with great products and service until the coming of Mashiach.
Emotional Health Before Family Image [Family Matters / Calligraphy Fiction Supplement]
Thank you for a beautiful Calligraphy that really enhanced my Yom Tov.
I would like to comment on the story of the single who was not “allowed” to adopt her niece. The underlying message that I got from the story (aside from the message that singles cannot be treated with the same respect as marrieds) was that image comes before emotional health and practicality.
I would really love to see the frum community start to make changes in its mentality, because there is a pervasive problem of parents not doing the right thing for their children because chas v’shalom it will impact shidduchim or the image of the family.
This goes hand in hand with Allison Josephs’s eye-opening article that kids who go OTD are lacking emotional support from their parents. This mentality is very shortsighted, because if children will suffer from emotional neglect, then it will look even worse for the family.
So parents, please try to take into account your children’s needs before your image. Doing otherwise also implies that Hashem does not have a proper zivug and plan for each person. And please treat singles with the respect they deserve. If the main character had adopted her niece, Hashem would have figured out a way for the main character to find her zivug, and her husband would have been very mature and caring.
Superior Achievement [The Problem with Yael / Calligraphy Fiction Supplement]
The Succos edition of your short stories supplement, Calligraphy, brimmed with material that I found fascinating, enjoyable, and at times heart-breaking. Each writer should be congratulated for work that was crafted expertly and engagingly.
Rachael Lavon’s “The Problem with Yael” is one such achievement. For years, I’ve considered Lavon’s fiction and nonfiction pieces in Mishpacha thought-provoking and solidly written. “The Problem with Yael” succeeds as a story, a cry for help, a searing opinion piece (or two), and ultimately a triumph of love and loyalty.
Lavon’s brave portrayal of Yael, along with her strong opinions of a few of our revered customs, has the power to touch off some honest discussions among frum individuals. And then there is the riveting, surprising culmination of this story, which to me is unforgettable. Excellent work.
People Give to People [Bonus Round / Calligraphy Fiction Supplement]
I generally refrain from peeking into the Calligraphy supplement before the chagim, with the result that it might be weeks, if not months, before I actually read it.
This year, however, I cheated — and I am pleased I did. Each story was a work of art. I am overwhelmed by the high standard of writing, imparting messages to last a lifetime.
I would like to focus, though, on one particular story, and a subsequent discussion with an acquaintance over Simchas Torah.
She read the story about the crowdfunding fundraising campaign and was incredibly upset. She felt that the yeshivah was creating “schnorrers” out of bochurim and that it was distasteful. I, on the other hand, was shocked by her reaction and feel it needs addressing.
As of last year, there were 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, and over 45,000 in Israel. Many of these organizations are for excellent causes, and are in urgent need of financial support.
In today’s world, the average person will not give a donation as a response to a random advertisement in a newspaper or magazine; the fact is that people give to people! When I ask those near and dear to me to support a cause that means a lot to me, I am offering them the zechus to be a part of something bigger than both of us. I’m offering them the zechus to give tzedakah wisely, to help make the world a better place.
Each and every one of us has an obligation to give maaser and to give tzedakah. I for one want to ensure that my giving goes to organizations that come with a recommendation — and by many people giving small donations to these important causes, we are indeed helping our mosdos stay afloat.
How Could You ? [Letters to My Addicted Self / Issue 930]
I was extremely disturbed by the article published in a Jewish heimish magazine that many readers of all ages and types read, namely the article depicting a collection of “letters” between an addict and the addictive force within.
I happen to have a 14-year-old daughter who read it and came and asked me many questions. I was totally shocked that this could be in a frum magazine; it promotes addiction, and not only that, it portrays such a bad message for young kids who are either struggling or solidly on the path.
I think this stuff has to stay out of such magazines, and I’m floored at the daas Torah who allowed this to be published in a Yom Kippur edition. I, an adult who teaches in a girls’ high school, was horrified when I read this article. Now it’s up to you to rectify the damage.
Correction: In “Happening in San Antonio” (Issue 932), it was reported that Rabbi Avrohom Scheinberg, son of longtime community rav Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg a”h, is establishing the city’s first kollel. In fact, San Antonio’s first kollel was established over 20 years ago by Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg. His son, Reb Avrohom, is now creating the city’s second kollel with several core families from Lakewood.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 933)
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