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Inbox: Issue 953

“Kudos to Mrs. Zelcer for so eloquently encapsulating the struggle that many of us singles face, and striving to fortify us with chizuk and growth through Penimi”


Lived and Breathed Chesed [Outlook / Issue 952]

I would like thank Mishpacha magazine and Yonoson Rosenblum for his tribute to my late wife Debbie Markowitz a”h. It was quite appropriate that it was featured in Mishpacha; Debbie was an avid reader of the magazine, reading it weekly from cover to cover, and she actually saved every issue since its inception.

I would like to make one small correction. Debbie passed away on the 19th of Shevat and not as printed. From the start of the shivah we have received many emails, phone calls, and WhatsApp messages with testimonies from people on how Debbie affected their lives. She lived and breathed chesed, jumping at any opportunity she came across. Many of the letters we received began with, “I didn’t know Debbie personally, but …” and then went on and on about what she had done for them without even meeting them.

I would like to ask that if any readers have an anecdote to relate on how they were affected by her chesed, to please send it to DebbiesChesed@gmail.com. These stories have been, and continue to be, a source of great nechamah for our family.

I can also relate to Yonoson’s piece on “It’s Bashert.” Although I knew of Debbie from Brooklyn College, it was only on a return flight from Israel that we really connected. I offered to drive her home from the airport and then asked her out. We actually only went out on one date and were engaged 3 days later.

It was a zechut to be married to her for 41-plus years!

Gershon Markowitz, Jerusalem


Where AI Falls Short [Inbox / Issue 952]

I’d like to respond to last week’s letter writer who suggests using AI to censor literature for use in frum schools.

On its face, it sounds like a good idea: kashering literature so that it could be made available to our students, sans the inappropriate content. I understand the need for quality literature. The problem is that too often, inappropriate content is not an obvious few lines in a story that can easily be removed.

I am reminded of a powerful high school experience.

We were in English Lit class, and we asked our teacher, Mrs. Malkie Eisenberg, why a certain “classic” was not approved for our book report.

She said something that has stayed with me for three decades and become a guiding principle.

She said that this particular book glorifies the bad guy, making him/her the hero, and that makes it a problem.

Such messages — from the overt to the subtle — cannot be safely removed while leaving useful material for the impressionable reader. Certainly Artificial Intelligence would be incapable of the discernment needed to ensure that our children get the proper messages.

A robot has information, but not daas. Without daas, there can be no discernment.

Thank you, Mrs. Eisenberg, for that powerful message.

Miryam Biala, Jerusalem


The Happy Hafganah [The Moment / Issue 952]

We loved seeing our neighborhood boys depicted in your magazine, wearing Yerushalmi garb and conducting the one hafganah everyone can agree on! Just a correction — the hafganah pictured took place in Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef and featured the “gan” class from the Toras Shalom cheder. The signs they hold have the words of the song “Aderaba.”

A proud reader


We Need Emotional Solutions, Too [The Lonely Wait / Issue 951]

In response to the article last week by Mrs. Faigy Zelcer, all we can say is wow! As girls in the parshah for more years than we ever thought we would be, it is about time that someone acknowledges not only the cliché shidduchim struggles, but the real live people behind them.

It was not so long ago when we stepped off the plane with excitement, ready to be ushered into the seemingly thrilling world of shidduchim and all that it entails. Of course we knew there was a “crisis,” but quite frankly we never thought it would be “us.” We’re typical, well-balanced Bais Yaakov girls with no horns (at least that’s what everyone tells us when they wonder why we’re not married yet) who went through the typical school and seminary system, so why would we think otherwise?

Slowly but surely, our excitement has turned to frustration as we try to navigate the twists and turns of the actual dating process along with the inner turmoil that comes with it. To top it all is the realization that we are “the crisis” that everyone whispers about and thinks there’s just no cure for.

We know that everyone has nisyonos in life, but with shidduchim we feel that it is smack in everyone’s faces, because somehow everyone thinks that if you’re single, there’s a problem and what better way for them to help fix the problem or fix you than to offer their advice.

Klal Yisrael has been amazing with stepping up to the plate and creating organizations for every need out there. Recently there has been an uproar about shidduchim and coming up with ways to enhance the system. While practical solutions are always amazing, emotional solutions are needed as well. Penimi’s Linkup Nook program, started by Mrs. Faigy Zelcer, specifically fills this void. Through the program’s classes and support, girls in this stage have the chance to feel empowered, encouraged, and most of all acknowledged.

Yes, we’re people.

No, we didn’t choose this stage.

And yes, we now have a way to feel supported and fully embrace the unique stage that Hashem put us in with confidence and pride.

Mi k’amcha Yisrael!

Girls “In the Parshah”


Our Constant Struggle [The Lonely Wait / Issue 951]

Kudos to Mrs. Zelcer for so eloquently encapsulating the struggle that many of us singles face, and striving to fortify us with chizuk and growth through Penimi.

For me and many of my friends, who are back from seminary for a couple of years, the reality depicted in Mrs. Zelcer’s letter is all too real. Many of us spend our days in graduate school classrooms or in work environments that are antithetical to our hashkafah and upbringing. We spend our days surrounded by people who don’t speak the same language, those who spend their lives in a completely different reality than we do. It’s a constant struggle and battle for us to fight against the bad and rise above it like the Bais Yaakov girls that we are, using the tools that we have gained throughout our many years of Bais Yaakov education.

As graduates of the Bais Yaakov system, we all hope to support our husbands in their Torah learning, and for many of us, with the guidance of daas Torah, the only way to do that is by getting a degree and going out to work in the world. At some point though, it becomes a real struggle, because that husband that we are davening for and hoping for has not yet come our way, yet we are facing countless nisyonos in our work environments at every single moment. The dream of supporting a husband through his years in learning seems far out of reach.

As a frum, Torahdig, Bais Yaakov girl, I have hopes and dreams of building a home based on Torah and yiras Shamayim. How can I get there, intact in my ruchniyus, despite spending so much time in environments that are less than ideal? How can I not get stuck in the rut of despair and stay strong in an environment that clashes with my beliefs when I don’t have a husband to ground me?

Looking for Clarity


Familiar Cast of Characters [Bottom Dollar / Double Take – Issue 951]

I want to start by thanking the entire Mishpacha team for your concerted effort to bring the financial challenges inherent in living a frum lifestyle to the fore. This issue is consistently rated in surveys as one of the leading challenges facing frum families, and the spotlight that you are shining on this issue is truly a community service.

Last week’s Double Take was a stark, real-life scenario that opens a window onto a cast of characters who are unfortunately becoming more and more familiar within our community.

On an optimistic note, there are organizations such as Living Smarter Jewish (a Division of the OU), The Jewish Entrepreneur (a part of Tribeworks), EPI, and many others, comprised of hundreds of volunteers who are willing to offer their time and expertise to help people of all income brackets get a handle on their finances, create budgets, plan for retirement at any age, invest wisely, start and grow businesses, and find high- paying jobs suited to their skills, all at no cost to the recipient. Any of these organizations can be found online or by reaching out to Mishpacha.

Zevy Wolman


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 953)

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