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Inbox: Issue 989

“Ezrat Achim is currently actively assisting and supporting 500 families and has helped hundreds more since the start of the war"

Still Subject to Taxes [Money Talks / Issue 988]

I am writing in regards to an article in last week’s issue of Mishpacha about the pros and cons of permanent life insurance. While I found the article well written and informative, it contained a serious error in regards to the taxation of life insurance proceeds.

The article made the claim that life insurance avoids estate taxes. This is not the case. While life insurance avoids income taxes, if the decedent had any incidence of ownership in the policy or if the policy was payable to the decedent’s estate, the life insurance proceeds are included in the decedent’s estate and are subject to estate taxes.

Life insurance proceeds are not included in the decedent’s estate when not owned by the decedent, such as when owned by an irrevocable trust. However, any other assets owned by an irrevocable trust would not be subject to estate taxes either.

Life insurance plays an important role in estate planning, but it does not avoid estate taxes.



Far More [Operation Home Front / Issue 987]

Last week’s cover story on the effort to help displaced families mentioned that the Ezrat Achim organization is currently helping 15 families from the South of Israel. Regrettably, this information is vastly inaccurate. Our organization is currently actively assisting and supporting 500 families and has helped hundreds more with various forms of aid and assistance since the start of the war.

Ezrat Achim’s assistance extends far beyond basic necessities. We provide freshly cooked meals every day, including Shabbos meals, for those who do not have kitchen facilities in their temporary housing. Thanks to generous donors, we have given out over $100,000 in pre-loaded store cards for supermarkets and discount clothing stores, as well as thousands of toys and games, clothing (including winter coats and shoes), dry goods, toiletries, knapsacks, and school supplies.

Our volunteers have been providing our “guests” with everything they can think of, from rides to laundry service, manicures, and even exercise classes. We are arranging for families to receive therapy with Hebrew-speaking therapists, as well as providing sessions in our Snoezelen room to enable families to relax and recover from their traumatizing experiences.

Additionally, we orchestrate simchahs and events, ensuring moments of joy and togetherness for these families. Our calendar is packed with free activities for the families ranging from spa morning for mothers, carnivals for kids, trips to the Kosel, hafrashas challah, kumzitzes, dedicated events for teenage girls, and much more.

The families we assist continually express profound gratitude, often remarking that they never dreamed of receiving such support from the Beit Shemesh community. Ezrat Achim’s volunteers are truly a remarkable group of men and women. They have been working tirelessly since the very beginning of the war to help people from the south (and now the north as well) find accommodations in safer areas such as Beit Shemesh, even covering rental expenses for families when free housing became unavailable. I cannot emphasize enough the magnitude of our volunteers’ dedication and the impact they’ve made.

Our assistance isn’t limited to the families; we extend our support to soldiers and their families, as well. We are in close contact with commanders and soldiers and send specific items according to the exact requests of each unit, whether it’s smaller items like thermal underwear or bandages for blistered feet, larger items like generators and tents, or pairs of tefillin and tzitzis. We have also been coordinating massive barbecue and chizuk events on military bases across Israel on an almost daily basis.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been privileged to host numerous volunteers from America, all of whom have been deeply impressed by the extent of kindness and support displayed by our organization.

We’ve been particularly touched by the collaboration with the Raintree community of Lakewood, spearheaded by Yona Krainess and Yehudah Miller. In the early weeks of the war, they reached out to Ezrat Achim and asked to sponsor a meaningful event at the Shura army base to show their appreciation for the dedicated individuals of the forensics unit.

That incredible night, which included performances by Lipa and Ishay Ribo, marked the beginning of a special relationship that culminated in a remarkable visit this week by a group of men from Lakewood, who have “embedded” with us this week and have been busy nonstop doing unbelievable acts of chesed, all across Israel.

Este Bina Weider

Volunteer Coordinator, Ezrat Achim


Incredible Devotion [Building Worlds / Issue 986]

The article written by Rabbi Eytan Kobre about Rav Simcha Wasserman and his Rebbetzin was a masterpiece — especially the input from our very dear family friend and mentor, Reb Boruch Levine shlita.

Reb Boruch was an active and integral part of the teshuvah movement in the ’80s in Yerushalayim. Many Shabbosim found him placing hundreds of Yidden thirsting to connect with their pintele Yid.

By the time he finished placing everyone, which included walking people to their hosts and checking that everyone made it there, it was so late. Many times he himself didn’t get a chance to make Kiddush till close to 1 a.m.

It’s safe to say that as sechar for the incredible mesirus nefesh that Reb Boruch displayed, he was zocheh to enjoy a close relationship with many gedolim of that time, including Rav Simcha and Rav Shmuel Rozovsky z”l and many others.

What was not mentioned in the article was that Reb Boruch Levine was so close to the Wassermans that he actually sat shivah for Rebbetzin Wasserman after she was nifterah, because he knew that she didn’t have any living relatives.

We are sure that l’achar meah v’esrim Reb Boruch will enjoy the ultimate sechar reserved for those who devote their lives to being mekadesh Sheim Shamayim.

Reva Bess and family

Lakewood, NJ


It’s About Family [We Won’t Stop Singing / Issue 986]

Reading the article by Yaakov Shwekey, in which he recounts that he has “been singing for about 25 years,” reminds me of when my son (who got married 24 years ago), said to me two weeks before his wedding, “I have a friend who will one day be a superstar. Can he sing at the wedding?” and so it was arranged. I met Yaakov a few years later, and he referred back to that occasion.

Yaakov also wrote about learning in the kollel in Deal, New Jersey. My husband and I made aliyah more than 13 years ago. On a Friday afternoon a week before our lift was being picked up to be brought to Israel, I went shopping with a friend for an area rug. It was 2 p.m. when we entered a carpet store on Route 17 in New Jersey; we didn’t know whether the store’s owners were Israeli or Arabs until someone said to us, “Don’t you ladies have to get home to bentsh licht? We have to return in time for Shabbos to Deal, New Jersey.”

I answered, “I’ll be back on Monday, bli neder, because I’m moving to Israel and want to buy an area rug for my living room.”

When I entered the store on Monday, that man told me, “You’re a person who keeps her word. I want to be part of your mitzvah of aliyah, so choose any carpet, and I’ll include the matting, both for $300.”

To Mishpacha magazine and Yaakov, thank you for the article and, if you want to see that area rug, come visit us.

Tirtza Jotkowitz

Jerusalem, Israel


Beyond the Music [We Won’t Stop Singing / Issue 986]

You have my complete admiration for an inspiring and intriguing magazine replete with powerful and introspective content. Your challenging coverage of this very painful time is beyond awesome.

In regard to the uplifting article of Yaakov Shwekey, who warmed hearts all over — in addition to many famous singers in Israel who are doing all they can to lift spirits on army bases and hospitals — I’d like to tell you of special musical events for women you likely haven’t heard about.

These events were organized to strengthen mothers and families of hostages, missing people, and soldiers. They were attended by so many who up till now had never had experienced anything like this: women who outwardly seem far from anything religious, yet arrive repeatedly with so much motivation and yearning.

I have been privileged to sing at some of these events, and the atmosphere, charged with sincere emunah and bitachon, kabbalos and brachos, Tehillim, hafrashas challah, and kabbalas ol malchus Shamayim is a tremendous chizuk for us all. The feeling of reaching out to Hashem is tangible and extremely emotional.

May the achdus stay with us always, long after this war is won. Amen.

Naomi Knobel



No Chance to Learn [A Class of His Own / Double Take — Issue 985]

I’m a high school student, and I was baruch Hashem blessed with a lot of brains. I was so happy to see this issue being addressed in Mishpacha — it bothers me that no one even realizes there’s a problem!

I’m not trying to complain. Thank You, Hashem, that I have such problems! But being in the school system like this is very, very hard. Going to school feels pointless — what am I going for? When I come home, I feel like I just wasted my day.

I am always bored in class, so I do Sudoku puzzles and color straight through. When I’m tired during class, I go to sleep, because why not? It’ll take me five minutes to catch up anyway, and it’s not like I’m actually learning!

But the most annoying part is that my teachers give me a hard time in class. It’s not that I’m disinterested. I’m bored! And none of them realize that I’m not trying to rebel or be chutzpahdig, so they get me into a lot of trouble.

I even approached the dean of our school about it, and was told that this is the school system, and there’s nothing to do. I don’t want to skip a grade. I have my friends, and I don’t want to start over. So, I sit through class again and again, finishing Sudokus by the dozen, sleeping, and getting straight As on my report card.

I just wish the school system was changed to give everyone a chance to learn.


A Frustrated, Smart Student


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 989)

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