“One of the great challenges that young women face when entering the workforce is lack of experience”
I Thought I Knew [The Torchbearer / Special Tribute Edition]
I lived through the era when Reb Aharon, Reb Moshe, and Reb Yaakov were the undisputed gedolei hador, when all yeshivahleit and balabatim hung onto their every word and would listen to their every direction. You did not have to mention their last names; everyone knew to whom you were referring.
I thought that I slightly understood and somewhat knew what it meant to be a manhig Yisrael who sees the world through a pure Torah lens. I have many friends and mechutanim who learned for many years in Lakewood, and I spent a Simchas Torah with Reb Aharon in Lakewood. But then I read last week’s Mishpacha supplement and realized that I didn’t even have a microscopic idea of what kind of a gadol and a manhig Reb Aharon was.
In the 87 pages of Mishpacha’s supplement, you were able to fill in many of the cracks and give us a small insight into Reb Aharon’s life and his myriad Torah accomplishments.
I am writing to express a big thank you to all involved in producing such a masterpiece. I would also like to urge all who have not yet read the supplement to do so.
I will try to use the supplement as required reading in our seminary. Thank you so very much.
Rabbi Shneur Aisenstark, Montreal
A Different Understanding [The Torchbearer / Special Tribute Edition]
The only word I can think of, after seeing the Special Tribute Edition to Rav Aharon Kotler ztz”l, is “unbelievable.”
How can a weekly magazine publish such an important masterpiece that is worth a lot more than the price of an annual subscription? Your writers and editors left nothing out; anyone who reads this will have a different understanding of his gadlus in every facet of his life.
I was but five-and-a-half years old when the “rabbi with the white beard” spent two weeks in the pink bedroom in our West Side apartment, recuperating from a fall out of a car. There were two talmidim rotating around the clock to tend to his needs; Rav Yechiel Perr was one of them.
It was many years later that I learned that my father and my father-in-law, Reb Yossel Friedenson, were present, together, at Rav Aharon’s petirah.
PS Attached is a copy of the invitation that my grandmother sent to her friends in 1936, to establish the Ladies Auxiliary of Kletzk.
Rabbi Yosef C. Golding
You Brought My Childhood to Life [The Torchbearer / Special Tribute Edition]
Thank you for the Chanukah supplement on Rav Aharon Kotler ztz”l.
Growing up, I was not only privileged to live during the era when learning lishmah was introduced to America, but I merited being part of that phenomenon.
Following his years as an American/Canadian bochur learning in the Mir, my father’s dream was to marry and spend the first years of his marriage in Kelm. With the approval of his American kallah, my parents, Rabbi Shmuel and Chava (Gordon) Schecter, arrived in Kelm in 1938 right after their wedding. I was born there a half a year before the outbreak of World War II.
As American/Canadian citizens, we were able to escape Lithuania shortly before the onslaught of the Nazis (a story in itself). After his return to America, my father was one of the founding members of the White Plains Kollel in the early ’40s, the first kollel in America. I remember living in White Plains, although as a three-year-old, I couldn’t understand what we were doing there.
This week, I was delighted to see in Mishpacha a copy of a thank you letter that my father signed as “Secretary” of the kollel. He no doubt composed the letter as well, as that was one of his future talents.
When it was time for my shidduch, I was redt a Lakewood boy by the mashgiach, Reb Nosson Wachtfogel. It was the late ’50s, and all 80 bochurim in the yeshivah, as well as all of the 20 yungeleit, were invited to our wedding. Many of the names in the magazine supplement were our contemporaries. Seeing them as the marbitzei Torah of our day is indeed a privilege.
Thanking you again for the comprehensive supplement; I would be delighted to hear from my friends from those years.
Laya Zryl, the “Savta Mi’Kelm”
(a title bestowed upon me by my husband when our first grandchild was born)
A True Founder [Time to Build / Issue 941]
In your article about Rabbi Dovid Hofstedter, you write about an “Orthodox man,” Meyer Lebovic — my grandfather — who conceived the idea to start Ner Yisrael of Toronto, and then unfortunately had to resign as president due to his heart condition.
However, as I’m sure anyone from Toronto who read this article knows, he wasn’t just an “Orthodox man” with one idea that he had to transfer to others. My grandfather greatly valued his close relationship with Mr. Hofstedter — two incredibly special men who helped build Toronto into the Torah community it is today.
In addition to spearheading Ner Yisrael, my grandfather also built the city’s first mikveh that was dedicated solely for women’s use. He was also very close with the Taicher Rav, and together they raised the standard of kashrus in Toronto.
Although he was unable to stay on as president of Ner Yisrael, he was still very involved in the decision making and the day-to-day running of the yeshivah (including often waking up the boys for Shacharis each morning!).
In addition to his community involvement, my grandfather was known to be a true talmid chacham (he was a ben-bayis at Rav Chatzkel Abramsky and the Shatzer Rebbe as a bochur) and spent all of his free time learning, especially daf yomi. In fact, when Rabbi Meir Shapiro’s kever was moved from Lublin to Har Hamenuchos in Yerushalayim, he ended up right next to my grandfather’s kever, and many people remarked how befitting it was that my grandfather’s kever is now next to the founder of daf yomi, something that he spent all of his days immersed in.
Thank you for devoting attention to the history of Toronto’s Torah community and to its wonderful founders.
Shoshana (Lebovic) Kops
In Defense of Golders Green [Payback Time / True Account – Issue 941]
Within what was a rather unrefined and grisly tale about some stolen money, which included a grievous crime on a moving train in Ukraine, there was a huge motzi laaz on the kehillah of Golders Green.
The writer admits that he wasn’t prepared for the task of collecting door- to-door in an “alien city,” and his account reflects that. His prickliness at being vetted by the Vaad Ha’tzedakah in order to obtain a certificate is naive. This process exists everywhere, and the reasons for it are self-explanatory.
In any case, the “true account” was absolutely wrong in its description of Golders Green and how visitors are treated there, and a whole town is painted with one disdainful brush.
Someone unfamiliar with Golders Green reading this account could mistake the kehillah for the Biblical city of Sedom, where visitors are humiliated and tzedakah isn’t given. This is absolute motzi shem ra.
Besides for the motzi shem ra, where is the hakoras hatov for the £4,000 he collected in two weeks? Instead, “wealthy Londoners” are further deplored for having Purim parties as if they are degenerates.
As for the way the writer was allegedly treated, this is difficult to believe. Aside for the askanus and the multitude of chesed organizations and gemachim in Golders Green for every type of need possible or imaginable, meshulachim from abroad are particularly well looked after. They are provided with breakfast every morning and supper from Reich’s catering, and are provided with all the Shabbos meals.
So this account was a gross misrepresentation of a choshuve town with numerous kollelim and rabbanim of the highest pedigree, and where meshulachim are afforded the respect they deserve and are able to collect the funds they need. Otherwise they wouldn’t keep coming.
As for the writer’s description of the houses in Golders Green, they aren’t towering mansions with fountains and butlers. I have lived in Golders Green for most of my 33 years, and, in actual fact, there are hundreds of tiered houses, some small, some terraced, and some large. And many people live in apartments. I am not aware of any fountains or any family that has a butler.
Of course, there are some large houses, but you will find large houses in Lakewood, Manchester, and Yerushalayim. And in those large houses with frum Yidden, I have no doubt that meshulachim are treated well, and tzedakah is given generously.
Chaim Kornbluth, London
A Dose of Reality [Open Mic / Issue 941]
I read with interest Rabbi Moshe Bender’s proposal for a better pay system for shadchanim. I applaud him for coming up with an approach that deals with a core weakness in our current shidduch system, recognizing that shadchanus productivity rises when it is a paid position with responsibilities, support, and accountability.
I would add that the system would be further improved if shadchanim could focus on core tasks of identifying and “redting” shidduchim. We should go back to the old system where the boy calls the girl to work out logistics for the dates.
We have all seen the tremendous waste of time and effort with multiple back and forth calls facilitating this process through the shadchan, the two mothers, etc. Working out a real-life issue gives both sides a real-life view of their potential partner. Are they flexible, accommodating, sensitive to the needs of others?
The dating experience is currently so artificial; it could benefit from a dose of reality this would provide.
Behind Every Résumé [Open Mic / Issue 941]
Although I agree with Rabbi Moshe Bender’s overall concept that shadchanim should be compensated for their time, I feel compelled to share my personal experience attending an event organized by one of the shidduch organizations.
I am a 25-year-old girl and have been in shidduchim for several years. Baruch Hashem, I come from a wonderful and established family and have a great job. When I was entering the parshah at age 21, I traveled from my home in New York to Lakewood one evening to meet over 15 shadchanim at an arranged event. I was very excited to spend the evening networking with shadchanim. I remember spending lots of time and energy preparing for the evening and tweaking my résumé and the picture that they requested.
I then recall driving home later that night, excited to have met so many shadchanim, who I thought would surely suggest ideas to me. Lo and behold, weeks turned into months, and the phone in my house did not ring even once from any of the shadchanim I met.
I remember feeling so hurt that no one ever reached out to my parents to even touch base that they still remembered me. Just as a side point, I paid a $100 fee to attend the event.
This is not an isolated incident; I know that many of my single friends have had degrading experiences during and after their meeting with large groups of shadchanim working for an organization. Speaking from both my experience and the experiences of so many girls in shidduchim, I know that there is so much room for improvement in dignifying the experiences for girls that attend these shidduch events.
These events have so much potential, but the experience many girls have is far less than bakavodig, because no one suggests ideas for them after they attend a meet-the-shadchan event.
I wish I had a concrete solution for this and don’t even know if my letter will help.
I think that the individual shadchanim and these organizations in general should make a greater effort to view every girl as a daughter of Hashem, and be sensitive and treat them with privacy and respect. I’m sure it is easy to become desensitized when you are working with résumés, pictures, and online profiles, but just remember that behind every résumé is a bas Yisrael who deserves to be treated with dignity.
Invest in Shadchanim [Open Mic / Issue 941]
Rabbi Moshe Bender’s suggested approach is a much-needed change to the traditional approach to shidduchim and should be strongly supported. His focus on finding practical solutions to shadchanim’s monetary needs is an incredibly important step in addressing the shidduch crisis.
The shidduch crisis is a long-standing issue and has been the subject of countless initiatives. Unfortunately, the shadchanim who are on the frontlines in finding matches for singles have often been overlooked and under-compensated for their hard work and efforts. Rabbi Bender has taken the lead in addressing this issue.
Over the years, there have been many community initiatives. Some examples are websites, databases, kinnos, and events featuring speakers. Although these efforts are admirable and crucial, they rely heavily on shadchanim, who work in the trenches, and receive little financial compensation for their tremendous work. As a result, the shadchanim often become burned out and lack the motivation to continue, especially if it means sacrificing time with their families or their livelihood.
Rather than just donating money to another speaker or event, resources should go toward supporting Rabbi Bender’s approach and meeting the practical needs of the shadchanim. Volunteers are great, but shadchanim need to be financially compensated for the time and effort they invest in their work. With Hashem’s help, this effort will bring us closer to solving a key challenge of the shidduch crisis.
Y. Z., Toronto
Scheiner’s for Girls? [Pillars and Tents / Issue 941]
Reading Shmuel Botnick’s article about Scheiner’s, I was amazed and inspired by the little hub of support that the shul empire provides. Struggling teens (pov: all teens struggle, each in their own way) have a safe place to hang out in when they need some time to chill, or when they’re hoping that someone’s going to recognize and acknowledge their troubles. Even just a hi or a smile to show that they’re being noticed can make a difference.
I’m a 20-year-old girl, and as I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but contemplate on how much a shul like Scheiner’s would’ve made a difference in my younger (struggling) years had such a “club” existed for girls. The social outlet and support that a setting like that provides can play a helpful and important role in a teen’s development into adulthood. If only girls had minyan to go to!
Emotionally Nourished [EndNote / Issue 941]
Thank you so much for your Chanukah edition, and a special thanks for the EndNote project by Rikki Goldstein.
As someone who struggles with her mental health on a daily basis, I often find it hard to relate to many articles and features. Although I love reading, I somehow just cannot digest pieces that are nostalgic, or they seem petty to me.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading the EndNote project. Almost every single song and description related to me and cut into my inner core. I practically devoured them and felt emotionally nourished. I felt like, hey, others get it, too, and so understand me. And, I felt seen, heard, and validated.
So, thank you again for providing me with my emotional nourishment — literally. I really mean it!
Looking forward to more content like that.
Eight Nights of Compliments [Voice in the Crowd / Issue 940]
I would like the thank Reb Yisroel Besser for his insightful and inspiring article on giving genuine compliments. The article gave me food for thought and inspired me to make a family Chanukah activity of compliment-giving for the eight days of Chanukah.
The activity went like this: Each family member (from ages three and up) had an envelope with their name on it. Each night everyone wrote a compliment to one family member, so that every night, everyone received a compliment note. The notes were read privately, but those who wanted to share did so.
I also put up a sign with pointers for giving genuine compliments (avoid the generic types like “you’re amazing!”) as well as ideas for openings for compliments (“I admire you for” or “It was really kind/ thoughtful/nice of you to...”).
This activity engendered a lot of positivity and good cheer. It was heartwarming for me hear (and receive) the beautiful compliments given.
Thank you Yisroel Besser.
Bridging the Employment Gap [A Few Minutes with Eitan Regev / Issue 939]
I am writing in response to your interview with Eitan Regev on chareidi employment. As CEO of Temech, an organization that helps women from Israel’s chareidi community advance in the workplace, the subject of chareidi employment is dear to my heart.
For more than 15 years, Temech has been working to broaden opportunities and raise salaries for women in the chareidi community while giving them the ability to retain frum values. Temech offers employment and preemployment advancement workshops, operates networking groups in 19 cities throughout Israel, hosts the Temech conference for women in business, and is the home of an all-women’s hub and creative workspace in Jerusalem.
Dr. Regev says, “The impact of the first job you land after your training has a dramatic impact on the rest of your career.” I want to reinforce the importance of this statement. One of the great challenges that young women face when entering the workforce is lack of experience.
Seventy-eight percent of chareidi women in Israel work. And they work hard. A young woman who does not get a job right out of school will often take a low-wage, dead-end job with little growth potential. Temech’s TechUp program is a three-month internship created to provide experience and fill the soft skill gaps that then allows a young woman to get her first job as a programmer.
The women build WinDo, a B2B kosher online collaboration space built by the community for the community. Through the program, we also build relationships with potential employers. And the results speak for themselves.
Women who were on the verge of giving up on positions as programmers and taking minimum wage jobs are now entering hi-tech and succeeding. Companies that bring in interns want to hire them. These are eidel young women of the kind found only in Eretz Yisrael, who manage to succeed thanks to the support of Temech’s incredible partners.
We are guided by daas Torah and work with the Israeli government. Temech has the most visionary board and donors who believe in the work we are doing and push us to be more creative with employment solutions that work in Eretz Yisrael.
I would be happy to host visitors at Temech’s Jerusalem Hub to show them firsthand the work that we are doing, and am always open to exploring collaborations that help expand opportunities for women to grow their parnassah and maintain their values.
With much appreciation for your publication,
Note: Emmy Leah Zitter’s feature “Triumph for the Ages,” about the famous Mansbach menorah, mentions a young Jewish man murdered in a police station in Kiel in April 1933. Yehuda Mansbach’s grandfather, Rabbi Posner, risked his life to make sure the unnamed man got a proper Jewish burial. Now this man is no longer unnamed.
When Yehuda Mansbach visited Germany last week, in addition to lighting the menorah in the presence of the German president, he spent time searching through an archive in Kiel. There he found the man’s name and his picture. The early victim of Nazi hatred in Kiel was, apparently, a lawyer by the name of Friedrich Shum.
Hashem yikom damo.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 943)
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