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ISSUE 48<br />

DECEMBER 7, 2011<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772<br />



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Rav Elyakim Schlesinger of London, whom I had<br />

the great privilege to speak with last week and<br />

glean from his daas Torah, hails from Frankfurt am<br />

Main, Germany. His mother was a daughter of the<br />

famed resident of that German city, Moreinu Yaakov<br />

Rosenheim, one of the founders of the Agudath Israel World<br />

Organization, and one of that Orthodox organization’s foremost<br />

leaders for many years.<br />

When Rav Schlesinger asked me whether my ancestors too<br />

were from Frankfurt, as indicated by my family surname, his<br />

<br />

and I may have to the city Frankfurt that made Rav Schlesinger<br />

seem so instantaneously familiar to me, but rather his connection<br />

to a city that is today the metaphysical center of the Torah<br />

world, Brisk. Rav<br />

Schlesinger not only<br />

has the mannerism<br />

of his great rebbi,<br />

Rav Yitzchok Zev<br />

Halevi Soloveitchik,<br />

the Brisker Rav,<br />

whom he repeatedly<br />

quoted during<br />

our conversation,<br />

but he also has an<br />

uncanny physical<br />

resemblance to him.<br />

The Second<br />

World War had<br />

some strange consequences.<br />

As a<br />

result of the war, I<br />

was thinking, one of<br />

the primary propagators<br />

today of the<br />

Brisker school of thought is none other than a grandson of Rav<br />

Yaakov Rosenheim, a noted Hirschian whose leadership of the<br />

Agudah caused Rav Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk apprehension<br />

about joining that movement. Rav Chaim feared that the Hirshian<br />

derech, of Torah and Derech Eretz <br />

its way into Russia and Poland through the Agudah.<br />

It was Rav Yitzhak Isaac Halevy (Rabinowitz) (1847–1914)<br />

Rosenheim’s partner as co-founder of the Agudath Israel orga-<br />

<br />

Rav Chaim to join, notwithstanding his many misgivings. Consequently,<br />

upon Halevy’s passing in 1914 Rav Chaim withdrew<br />

his involvement in the Agudah movement.<br />

The letter that Halevy wrote to Rosenheim about getting Rav<br />

Chaim involved in the Agudah movement is compelling:<br />

“Herrn Jacob Rosenheim:<br />

<br />

the Rav of Brisk to take part in our endeavor requires great and respected<br />

ministers. Therefore you think that it may be helpful if Marx<br />

<br />

perhaps riches would.<br />

“From this I see but one thing: You know most of the Russian rabbonim.<br />

But not the cream of the crop. The Rav of Brisk has in his<br />

world only Torah. The riches of the wealthy, even of millionaires like<br />

Rothschild, can’t make him budge one inch.<br />

ence,<br />

but that, due to his nature, he fears to issue a ruling. To take this<br />

<br />

he fears that he may<br />

cause damage and<br />

perhaps his opinion<br />

was wrong, etc.<br />

“If this were only<br />

ing<br />

him, everyone<br />

knows in Russia that<br />

we are literally close<br />

to each other like<br />

two brothers…<br />

“The Rebbe of<br />

Lubavitch (the<br />

Rashab) only knows<br />

the Rav of Brisk<br />

from hearsay, for<br />

he never saw him,<br />

therefore his words<br />

regarding my sending<br />

Lipshitz to the<br />

Rav of Brisk are<br />

somewhat inaccurate….”<br />

Halevy’s responsibilities toward Rav Chaim didn’t end with<br />

Rav Chaim’s arrival in Katowice for the Agudah convention in<br />

1912. As soon as he arrived, there was a deep crisis over the<br />

so-called “Hungarian demand” that only Orthodox congregations<br />

that separated from general communities that included the<br />

Reform could join the movement. Halevy had the daunting task<br />

of maintaining the peace between Rav Shlomo Zalman Breuer<br />

of Frankfurt, who was behind the Hungarian demand, and Rav<br />

Chaim of Brisk, who opposed it.<br />

That Rav Yaakov Rosenheim’s grandson, Rav Schlesinger, is a<br />

leading Brisker disciple and protégé, is certainly one of the uncanny<br />

outcomes of an incomprehensible war. <br />

8 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

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Unusual exchange between Rabbi Lau and the former Mayor<br />

In reference to “Q &A with Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau,” Issue 44<br />

Dear Editor,<br />

I am writing to thank you for<br />

your very interesting dialogue with<br />

Rabbi Lau, and also to relate an unusual<br />

anecdote I heard involving<br />

Rabbi Lau and former New York<br />

City Mayor Ed Koch.<br />

It seems that Mayor Koch once<br />

told Rabbi Lau that he too was a<br />

Holocaust survivor. When Rabbi<br />

Lau asked him where he was born, Mayor Koch replied that he was born and bred in<br />

the Bronx, where he spent the duration of the Second World War. When the bemused<br />

Rabbi Lau then asked him how he was a survivor of the Holocaust, Mayor Koch explained:<br />

“When I was in Berlin I visited Hitler’s headquarters. On his desk was a globe that indicated<br />

the number of Jews who lived in each country; on America, it was written that<br />

six million Jews lived there. These were his targets for extermination. Accordingly,”<br />

concluded Mayor Koch, “I, as a <strong>Jewish</strong> citizen of the United States, was also on Hitler’s<br />

hit list. I am therefore, like you, Rabbi Lau, a Holocaust survivor.”<br />

T. Jacobowitz<br />

Q&A<br />


1575 50 th St., Brooklyn, NY 11219 | letters@amimagazine.org<br />

Phone: (718) 534-8800 Fax: (718) 484-7731<br />

Q<br />

Your arrival at Buchenwald at the<br />

age of seven, hidden in a sack carried<br />

by your older brother, Naftali, is one<br />

of the most fascinating Holocaust survival<br />

stories I’ve ever encountered. But why is it<br />

What purpose does it serve? What are we<br />

importan to keep going back in memory<br />

to that dark period in <strong>Jewish</strong> history?<br />

actua ly giving the kedoshim by remembering<br />

them?<br />

A<br />

The kadoshim don’t need to get anything<br />

from us. “Harugei Malchus ein<br />

kol briah yecholah lamod bemichitzasam”<br />

[“Those who were murdered—no one<br />

can stand among them in their place.”]<br />

People such as Rabbi Akiva and the 10<br />

Harugei Malchus, and also a l of the kedoshim<br />

from every generation; they are<br />

found in the highest place in palmalya were. How they kept their emunah, how<br />

shel maalah, more so than a l of the they said Shema Yisrael and ani mamin,<br />

us to continue in their path. And, in truth,<br />

the best revenge is—as I discussed in the<br />

book—the continuation, th eternity. The<br />

immortality of the <strong>Jewish</strong> people is in our<br />




Rabbi Lau viewing a photo of himself af ter<br />

he was liberated from Buchenwald.<br />

RABBI YISROEL MEIR LAU served as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1993<br />

to 2003. He is currently the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Israel and chairman of Yad Vashem. He<br />

authored several seforim on halacha, and a commentary on Pirkei Avos. His best-se ling<br />

Hebrew autobiography was recently translated into English, titled “Out of the Depths.” Last<br />

week, Rav Lau sat with Rabbi Frankfurter, discussing his book and why he found it importan<br />

to publish his life story.<br />

Tanaim and Amoraim; they don’t need us.<br />

They only need to know tha they have a<br />

continuation. They need to know “Shelo<br />

yitosh Hashem amo v’nachalaso lo Yaazov.”<br />

[Hashem won’t forsake His people and<br />

His portion He won’t abandon.] When<br />

people say Yizkor, or Kel malai rachamim<br />

or Kaddish, they aren’t doing anyone a<br />

favor. The favor is for us. By remembering<br />

the kedoshim we fulfi l the injunction,<br />

“Datah mayayin bataa.” [Know where you<br />

came from.] We need to know who our<br />

fathers and mothers were. The memorials<br />

are more for the sake of present and<br />

future generations, so that we should<br />

know our roots, and the foundations on<br />

which Klal Yisroel stands. If we don’t remember<br />

the Holocaust, chas v’shalom, the<br />

younger generation wi l think that we can<br />

start over, with no past. But there is no<br />

future when there is no past. When we<br />

remember the past, not for revenge, and<br />

not as a favor to the korbonos, but rather<br />

for ourselves and for future generations,<br />

we do so to remember what happened to<br />

us.<br />

the memory of them.<br />

They don’t need us; it is we who need<br />

Q<br />

Is remembering, therefore, a matter<br />

of kavod hachayim, respect for the<br />

living, rather than kavod hamaysim, respect<br />

for the dead?<br />

A<br />

Yes. It’s yikra d’chaya, to know where<br />

you came from and who your parents<br />

roots.<br />

Q<br />

Do you think that the people who<br />

lived through tha time period, such<br />

as you and your brother, have something<br />

aside from memories to give to the next<br />

generation? If so, what is the basic message<br />

that your generation, which is now<br />

ge ting older, can relay?<br />

A<br />

First, that you can’t rely on anyone,<br />

only on our Father in Heaven. Not on<br />

people. What didn’t we give to Poland for<br />

over 1,000 years? What didn’t we give Germany,<br />

with our Rothschilds, our Einsteins generations back. In spite of a l the differences,<br />

everyone understood that we are a l<br />

overwhelmed by the “sun.” Emancipation.<br />

Jews. The enemies understood that we are<br />

even until the last minute. This obligates<br />

they initiated an Inquisition, Tach V’tat,<br />

Romans, Kristalnacht—a l so that Jews<br />

continuity. The chain is unbroken. We<br />

would abandon Yiddishkeit. The stronger<br />

remember the fundaments; we know the how to live together al Kiddush Hashem. the wind, though, the tighter the Jews<br />

Chassidim and misnagdim died together held on to their coats. They said “Shema<br />

al Kiddush Hashem. More religious; less<br />

religious; not religious at a l. Even misboolilim<br />

who had <strong>Jewish</strong> blood from six But we have a generation now that is<br />

and Mendolsohns, and so many other<br />

creative people of the world? We gave so<br />

lesson that we are the same people? That to teach the future generations that our<br />

many presents to Germany, and what did<br />

we get in return? Like Yosef in Mitzrayim,<br />

he saved Mitzrayim from hunger, and was<br />

there any protection for his children Me-<br />

which I wish to give over with a parable:<br />

throw them in the river?!“Shelo yadah es<br />

Yosef.” Phaaroh made no exceptions for<br />

The wind tried to blow o f a man’s coat,<br />

but the colder it got, the tighter the man<br />

held onto his coat, and it wouldn’t come<br />

then on, from before yetziyas Mitrayim o f. Then the sun made it hotter, and got<br />

until today, the number one message is:<br />

The emunah is like the coat. A l of the<br />

goyim always wanted us to get rid of our<br />

nashe and Efrayim, so that no one would<br />

Q<br />

A<br />

Is there another important message<br />

for us and our children?”<br />

The second thing to learn is this: We<br />

knew how to die together al Kiddush<br />

Hashem. The time has come for us to learn<br />

the same people. Why don’t we learn the<br />

we are one nation?<br />

There is another important lesson here,<br />

There was once an argument between the<br />

sun and the wind over who wa stronger.<br />

Yosef’s children. Instead of making statues<br />

and stamps of Yosef’s face, they took a l of<br />

his sons and threw them in the river. From<br />

the man to take o f his coat.<br />

don’t rely.<br />

aderet, that we should be like a l the other<br />

nations. They tried to be like the wind—<br />

the decrees of Antiochus, the Greeks, the<br />

Yisroel,” and threw themselves into the fire<br />

like Avraham Avinu.<br />

“We knew how to die together al<br />

Kiddush Hashem. The time has come<br />

for us to learn how to live together al<br />

Kiddush Hashem.”<br />

It is in a l of the universities, and they try<br />

to marry into us with intermarriages, G-d<br />

forbid. In this time, my generation needs<br />

parents didn’t give up their emunah, even<br />

when it was hard. They had mesirus nefesh.<br />

How much more so, for you—the young<br />

generation—there’s no danger today in<br />

wearing tefi lin or wrapping oneself in a<br />

ta lis, no issur against blowing a shofar<br />

on Rosh Hashana, no prohibition against<br />

wearing a yarmulkeh or keeping Shabbos<br />

or kashrus. So if your parents and grandparents<br />

kept a l of these mitzvos, and were<br />

wi ling to sacrifice their lives for it, then<br />

you can keep the mitzvos without sacrific-<br />

24 AMI MAGAZINE // NOVEMBER 9, 2011 // 12 CHESHVAN, 5772 12 CHESHVAN, 5772 // NOVEMBER 9, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 25<br />

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are referred to or excerpted herein.



Defending her fellow Yidden, even after death<br />

In reference to “The Mother of Klal Yisrael,” Issue 17<br />


Kudos for standing up<br />

In reference to Op-ed, Issue 47<br />

Dear Editor,<br />

In reviewing past issues of Ami<br />

Magazine, I happened upon an article<br />

about Sarah Schenirer’s burial<br />

site (March 30, 2011). A while<br />

back I heard a fascinating account<br />

from the late Rabbi Chazkel Besser,<br />

former chairman of the Lauder<br />

Foundation who was responsible<br />

for the repair and upkeep of <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

cemeteries in Eastern Europe, who<br />

learned of this amazing incident directly<br />

from the protagonist:<br />

This gentleman, along with many<br />

of his fellow Jews, has been ordered<br />

by the Nazi soldiers to destroy the<br />

tombstones in the Plashov cemetery<br />

in Krakow. Under threat of death,<br />

they had no choice but to comply.<br />

Shouldering their axes, they began<br />

to knock down the markers one by<br />

one. However, when this man approached<br />

a particular tombstone,<br />

<br />

broke in this hands. He tried with<br />

another axe; this one also broke. The<br />

scene was repeated several times. He<br />

could not make a dent in the stone.<br />

At this point a Nazi soldier who<br />

was standing nearby became enraged<br />

and let out a barrage of curses.<br />

“You ----- Jew!” he shouted at<br />

him. “I’ll show you how to do it!”<br />

The soldier grabbed the axe and<br />

swung it at the tombstone with<br />

all his might. It struck the stone,<br />

<br />

which then ricocheted off the stone,<br />

missing the soldier’s head by a hair.<br />

The soldier, in shock, shuddered<br />

and backed off, stumbling from<br />

fright.<br />

The Jew and his brethren who had<br />

witnessed the scene were incredulous.<br />

With their ragged garments<br />

they did their best to clean off the<br />

tombstone in order to see just who<br />

was buried there. Who was it who<br />

commanded such strength, even in<br />

death? When they could make out<br />

the wording on the tombstone, they<br />

saw it was the grave of Sarah Schenirer,<br />

caring for her beloved fellow<br />

Yidden, unto eternity.<br />

Yehi zichrona livracha.<br />

Miriam Liebermann<br />

Dear Editor,<br />

Thank you for the insightful op-ed piece by Rabbi<br />

Emanuel Feldman. As an activist against same-gen-<br />

Ami, like the<br />

noted newspapers, Yated and Hamodia, took an active<br />

position in addressing this scourge, as directed by<br />

many leading rabbonim.<br />

May Hashem continue to guide you in your endeavors<br />

towards glorifying the name of Heaven.<br />

Yaakov Cohen<br />

Lawrence, NY<br />


Q & A feature with Rabbi Krinsky,<br />

Photo credit, Lubavitch.com<br />

SHEIMOS: A picture of a scrap of the “War Scroll,” which<br />

is a scroll describing beliefs of the Qumran cult, in the<br />

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NEWS<br />


The Lesser and Greater<br />

of Two Evils<br />


Ever since the beginning of popular<br />

uprisings in Egypt 10 months<br />

ago, Israelis have been watching the<br />

nascent democracy movement nervously,<br />

concerned about the direction Israel’s south-<br />

<br />

round of parliamentary elections has con-<br />

<br />

mood to say, “I told you so.”<br />

The liberal, secular parties in Egypt seem to<br />

have garnered very few seats in parliament.<br />

Mohammed ElBaradei, former head of the<br />

<br />

possible Egyptian presidential candidate, said<br />

that the reformists have been “decimated.”<br />

The High Election Commission announced<br />

that the Freedom and Justice<br />

Party, a right-wing religious<br />

party associated with<br />

the Muslim Brotherhood—<br />

an Islamist movement that<br />

had been crushed for years<br />

by former Egyptian president<br />

Hosni Mubarak—won<br />

36 percent of the votes cast.<br />

The Nour Party, represent-<br />

<br />

Islamists, won 24 percent.<br />

There were 9.7 million ballots<br />

cast altogether. There<br />

still are runoff elections this<br />

week for many of the positions<br />

that were already<br />

voted on, as well as two<br />

more rounds of voting in<br />

18 of Egypt’s 27 provinces.<br />

But the Islamist hold seems<br />

assured.<br />

There have been no signs<br />

of voting irregularities, something<br />

that many protestors in<br />

recent uprisings against the military government<br />

were worried would knock the voting<br />

off-kilter.<br />

ElBaradei attributed the popularity of the<br />

religious parties to the conditions in which the<br />

populace lived during the Mubarak dictatorship.<br />

“It should not be a surprise people are<br />

voting with their gut. People lost their sense<br />

of identity with the state. They identify with<br />

religion,” ElBaradei said.<br />

The liberal and secular parties also failed to<br />

form stable coalitions early on; the Islamists<br />

retained name and “brand” recognition from<br />

years of opposing Mubarak.<br />

Whether the two Islamist parties will work<br />

Old Egyptian man places ballot in box<br />

<br />

already made statements suggesting that<br />

they do not want to join the Muslim Brotherhood<br />

in a coalition government, and ElBaradei<br />

believes that the Muslim Brotherhood<br />

would rather join liberal groups for a coalition.<br />

One other question revolves around the<br />

1978 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.<br />

Some members of the Muslim Brotherhood<br />

have stated that they oppose the treaty, but<br />

whether Egyptian politicians would jeopardize<br />

their international standing over the treaty is<br />

unclear. ElBaradei said that he believes that<br />

the Muslim Brotherhood does want to keep<br />

a healthy relationship between Egypt and the<br />

West.<br />

16 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772


Friends in High and<br />

Low Places<br />


If you’re convicted of a crime, you’re on your own.<br />

If you’re black, poor, or you don’t know a member of Congress,<br />

that is.<br />

For rich white folks who are chummy with a member of Congress,<br />

the standard byways of justice may not be necessary to<br />

travel. A new study by the Washington Post and the investigative<br />

journalism group ProPublica analyzed 500 randomly chosen<br />

pardon applications from the term of George W. Bush, out of a<br />

total of 1,918 applications.<br />

The pardon application process is a complicated and<br />

tedious process, and it comes as no surprise that someone<br />

with resources may be more capable of completing it. But the<br />

fact, that those with connections to senators and representatives<br />

are much more likely to receive a pardon, sheds a dis-<br />

<br />

the pardon process. The Justice Department runs extensive<br />

background checks on all those who request a presiden-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Critics claim that by not examining the money trail and<br />

party loyalties, the Justice Department ensures that money and<br />

<br />

member of Congress makes to the pardon commission, which<br />

advises the President on the subject of pardons, can be in return<br />

<br />

kept itself from gaining any suspicion of that.<br />

Minorities received far fewer pardons than whites in the<br />

sample, and not a single one of the 62 African-Americans in the<br />

sample received a pardon.<br />

The Postence<br />

on the pardon process in the case of Dale Critz, Jr., who<br />

had been convicted of auto-loan fraud and other criminal acts.<br />

Critz needed a pardon in order to take over his family’s Georgia<br />

car dealership. He had been convicted of a crime that was<br />

related to the business that he wanted to enter, he had been<br />

involved in multiple crimes, and he had lied during interviews<br />

by the FBI and on his pardon request forms. Despite these<br />

facts, Critz received a pardon after Georgia Representative Jack<br />

Kingston wrote a letter and made two phone calls to the top<br />

<br />

It seems that a successful pardon application may lie somewhere<br />

on the continuum between protekzia and baksheesh.<br />

Experimenting<br />

with Our Lives<br />



It’s possible to be very intelligent but not so smart, apparently.<br />

The New Scientist reports that Dutch researchers have developed a<br />

<br />

of spreading from mammal to mammal easily, yet is still as deadly as the<br />

original virus.<br />

H5N1 kills about 60 percent of those it infects, according to U.S.<br />

Health Department statistics, but it is only known to have infected a little<br />

over 500 people worldwide. The low rate of transmission is because the<br />

virus generally does not pass from person to person.<br />

<br />

somewhere between 20 million and 100 million people. The fact that<br />

<br />

strikes many as irresponsible.<br />

<br />

ated<br />

the mutation, wants to publish his work, detailing for others how<br />

the strain was created.<br />

Dr. Thomas Inglesby, the director and CEO of the Center for Bio-<br />

<br />

just a bad idea for scientists to turn a lethal virus into a lethal and highly<br />

<br />

they did it so others can copy it.”<br />

<br />

eliminated all sources of smallpox except for samples held in the U.S.<br />

<br />

while others claimed that research needs trumped safety concerns.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 17

NEWS<br />


Russian Revolution?<br />


Not long ago, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had little to worry about<br />

<br />

peting<br />

in any way with Putin’s clout. But recent parliamentary elections show that<br />

the ex-KGB man’s hold may be loosening.<br />

Putin’s party, United Russia, had held a supermajority of seats in the Russian<br />

Duma, or parliament, until elections early this week. Exit polling, however, showed<br />

that the latest rounds of voting have skimmed off United Russia’s seats, with the<br />

party only holding 50 percent of the legislature. And even those numbers, political<br />

tion<br />

fraud. Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party, said that his party’s<br />

observers found one ballot box in a Moscow polling station containing 300 ballots<br />

<br />

Communist Party election observers, keeping the real observers away from the polling<br />

site. Early ballot counting seemed to show United Russia doing far better than<br />

exit polling would suggest.<br />

Putin left the position of president four years ago, due to a law against more than<br />

eight consecutive years in the position. He had the constitution amended to create<br />

a position of prime minister; many observers saw the move as a gambit to remain in<br />

power even after leaving the presidency. His successor, Dmitry Medvedev, worked<br />

closely with Putin. Although Medvedev carried out a small number of reforms, he<br />

has been widely seen as Putin’s surrogate in power.<br />

This past September, at the United Russia Congress, Medvedev suggested that<br />

Putin seek the presidency again in 2012; Putin agreed to the idea. (It was awfully<br />

nice of Medvedev to offer.)<br />

The parliamentary elections may show that economic and social conditions<br />

<br />

between rich and poor citizens a growing complaint. The Communist Party seems<br />

<br />

were slated to receive over 20<br />

percent of the vote, according<br />

to exit polling. Several of the<br />

most vocal opposition groups<br />

<br />

candidates.<br />

Whether Putin himself will<br />

suffer in next year’s election<br />

still remains to be seen. Part<br />

of what will determine that<br />

is whether opposition par-<br />

<br />

can appeal to voters against<br />

the heretofore wildly popular<br />

<br />

strongman of the Kremlin.<br />

ELECTIONS 2012<br />

weekly<br />

update<br />


TRAIN<br />


Herman Cain announced on Saturday that<br />

he would be suspending his presidential cam-<br />

<br />

campaign may go on without him.<br />

Candidates are still allowed to raise money<br />

toward their election committees even after<br />

withdrawing from a race, according to election<br />

<br />

have to, simply because their campaign has<br />

incurred debts that need to be paid off.<br />

But sometimes the process of paying off<br />

debt doesn’t go so smoothly, and campaign<br />

committees linger on long after the candidate<br />

is working at some other endeavor. Hillary<br />

Clinton’s campaign committee, for example,<br />

remains active three and a half years after<br />

she suspended her bid for the 2008 Democratic<br />

nomination; her campaign reported<br />

being $274,010 in debt this past September.<br />

Other candidates with committees that live on<br />

<br />

In September, the last time the candidates<br />

were required to report their campaign<br />

<br />

against $675,000 in debt. Those numbers have<br />

certainly changed wildly; Cain became the<br />

frontrunner for a short time after the numbers<br />

were reported, attracting donors.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

to vie for dollars as well, to make certain that<br />

their campaigns don’t have to live on without<br />

them.<br />

18 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772


Iran Against the World<br />


U.K. AND U.S.<br />

Iran has not won<br />

the Most Popular<br />

Country in the<br />

World contest for<br />

some time now.<br />

But developments<br />

over the last two<br />

weeks have seen a<br />

slide from an attitude<br />

of hostility to<br />

actual hostilities.<br />

Last Tuesday,<br />

<br />

hundreds of Iranian<br />

protestors attacked the British embassy in Iran and a second<br />

British diplomatic compound, destroying furnishings and equip-<br />

<br />

only have occurred with the sanction of the Iranian government,<br />

and they claimed that they would seek compensation for the<br />

damages, which look likely to exceed £1 million.<br />

The British expelled the Iranian ambassador from the United<br />

Kingdom in response, and several countries were considering<br />

moving their diplomatic staff from Tehran.<br />

On Sunday, Iran claimed to have shot down a U.S. drone near<br />

manned<br />

aircraft had crashed and was in the hands of the Iranian<br />

<br />

probably suffered mechanical failure and was not shot down.<br />

Iran claimed that the downed drone was the RQ-170 Sentinel,<br />

the so-called “Beast of Kandahar.”<br />

Iran has repeatedly claimed to have shot down U.S. drone aircraft,<br />

although they have repeatedly failed to provide evidence.<br />

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the recent blast at<br />

an Iranian missile development site was a major setback for the<br />

cials,<br />

as well as technology experts, said that photos of the explosion<br />

site show that most of the Iranian facilities were destroyed in<br />

the huge explosion.<br />

There has been speculation that Israel was behind the explo-<br />

<br />

explanation from the Iranians has also been that it was accidental.<br />

Iran continues to face international isolation over its nuclear<br />

program, and its recent actions are not expected to increase its<br />

international standing.

Rabbi Avi Shafran<br />

The Sound of Silence<br />


The latest hope for signs of possible life on other planets<br />

lies in the cargo bay of a spacecraft that blasted off<br />

from Cape Canaveral the morning of Shabbos parshas<br />

Toldos.<br />

The Mars Science Laboratory will deliver a rover,<br />

aptly named Curiosity, to the surface of the Red Planet. Methane<br />

gas, which can be emitted by living organisms, has tentatively<br />

been detected in the Martian atmosphere, and instruments on<br />

<br />

other carbon-based molecules likewise considered to be “building<br />

blocks of life.”<br />

Many scientists assume that life must exist on other planets.<br />

Although science doesn’t usually<br />

embrace beliefs that have not been<br />

supported by observations, the<br />

conviction that there is life elsewhere<br />

in the universe derives from<br />

the creed that chance pervades and<br />

governs the universe—that randomness<br />

lies at the root of reality.<br />

If probability is the loom on which<br />

the universe’s fabric is stretched,<br />

the creed’s canon proclaims, what<br />

reason could there possibly be for<br />

only a single, unremarkable planet<br />

in a single, unremarkable solar<br />

system in a single, unremarkable<br />

galaxy to alone have spawned life?<br />

This abiding scientific faith<br />

assumes something of a miracle: that terrestrial life somehow<br />

arose from inanimate matter here on earth. It reveres a trinity: a<br />

single-celled ancestor, random mutation, and natural selection.<br />

Their interplay, the belief goes, is responsible for the astounding<br />

diversity of life on earth.<br />

And so, during the same eons over which time and chance on<br />

Earth allowed inert elements to slowly morph into iPods and<br />

their owners, countless other worlds should have done no worse.<br />

Indeed, they may have done considerably better.<br />

Creation, we believing Jews know, was in fact an act of Divine<br />

will, not the yield of randomness. Still and all, it isn’t unthinkable<br />

that rudimentary life on other planets exists, like the kind Curiosity<br />

is looking for. After all, G-d created life here on Earth that<br />

remained unseen for most of human history—whether in undersea<br />

volcanic vents or Amazonian jungle canopies. The discovery<br />

of life on other planets would hardly challenge <strong>Jewish</strong> belief.<br />

But intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos? Unlikely, I think.<br />

One thing is certain: all efforts thus far to detect it have come up<br />

empty.<br />

Over the 1960s and 1970s, there was SETI, or the “Search for<br />

Extraterrestrial Intelligence,”; META, the “Megachannel Extraterrestrial<br />

Assay”; and META II. In 1972 and 1973, plaques<br />

depicting the location of Earth in the galaxy and solar system,<br />

and what humans look like, were launched aboard the Pioneer<br />

and Voyager probes. In 1974, the Arecibo message, which<br />

carried coded information about chemistry and terrestrial life,<br />

was beamed into space. And in the 1990s, the “Billion-channel<br />

Extraterrestrial Assay” (BETA) was created, as well as a project<br />

harnessing the computing power<br />

ers<br />

to crunch numbers that might<br />

reveal patterns indicative of intelligent<br />

life beyond our planet. Tens of<br />

billions of hours of processing time<br />

have so far been consumed by the<br />

project.<br />

So far, though, nothing.<br />

The dearth of any sign of intelligent<br />

life beyond our own planet<br />

doesn’t prove anything, of course.<br />

It’s a big universe.<br />

But I’m reminded of what Rabbi<br />

Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev had<br />

to say about a verse in the Torah<br />

(Devarim, 17:3) concerning a false<br />

prophet who will “prostrate himself to… the sun or the moon<br />

or to any host of heaven, which I have not commanded.” Rashi<br />

explains that last phrase as meaning “which I have not commanded<br />

you to worship.”<br />

The Berditchever had a different approach. The reason one<br />

may not bow down to a heavenly body, he explained, is because<br />

G-d has not commanded it in any way. One may, however, bow<br />

down in respect to a human being, because humans are unique,<br />

sublime creatures—beings who have been commanded, who<br />

uniquely possess the free will to accept and execute G-d’s will.<br />

Intelligent extraterrestrials, I suppose, could have received<br />

their own Divine commandments. A planet revolving in the<br />

Alpha Centauri system may have had its own Mt. Sinai revelation,<br />

or some alien equivalent.<br />

One could, I imagine, “hear” such a thing.<br />

Personally, I think the silence out there speaks louder. <br />

20 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

Rabbi Avi Shafran<br />

Synopses of, and excerpts from, interesting items that have recently<br />

appeared here and there—and sometimes way over there—in the media<br />



Would-be murderer goes from<br />

kitchen to jail<br />

In a November 21 report about<br />

the arrest of Jose Pimentel in New<br />

York, on charges that he<br />

attempted to build bombs to kill<br />

city workers and military personnel,<br />

the online magazine Tablet<br />

reprised an article from last year<br />

that it had published about<br />

Inspire, an al-Qaida magazine that<br />

people familiar with Mr. Pimentel<br />

said had influenced him.<br />

That earlier article highlights one<br />

from Inspire, providing a recipe for<br />

a “simple but deadly bomb.”<br />

What “you have to do,” the inspirational<br />

piece insists, “is enter<br />

your kitchen and make an explosive<br />

device.” If, that is, “you are<br />

sincere in your intentions to serve<br />

[Islam].”<br />

They left out “the religion of<br />

peace.”<br />


Straw man finally gets credit<br />

The Atlantic carried a story on<br />

November 22 about the invention<br />

of the “bendy straw”—the nowfamiliar<br />

drinking facilitator that<br />

allows one to sip a beverage from<br />

a position other than directly<br />

above its container.<br />

The article notes the drinking<br />

straw’s apparent origins in ancient<br />

Sumeria, and the first mass-produced<br />

version of a straw in the<br />

1880s. Then it explains how, in<br />

1930s San Francisco, one Joseph<br />

B. Friedman watched his little<br />

daughter, Judith, struggle with her<br />

milkshake, which she was drinking<br />

from a rigid straw.<br />

Friedman “inserted a screw into<br />

the straw toward the top…<br />

wrapped dental floss around the<br />

paper, tracing grooves made by<br />

the inserted screw. Finally, he<br />

removed the screw, leaving an<br />

accordion-like ridge in the middle<br />

of the once-straight straw. Voila!<br />

He had created a straw that could<br />

bend around its grooves to reach<br />

a child’s face over the edge of a<br />

glass.”<br />

Thus was the bendy straw<br />

born, which has been helping children<br />

and the bed-bound ever<br />

since.<br />

Tall cup, meet Yiddishe kup.<br />


AT ALL<br />

The hat doesn’t make the man<br />

Haaretz also carried an interview,<br />

on November 16 with Rabbi<br />

Capers Funnye, the rabbi of Beth<br />

Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian<br />

Hebrew Congregation of Chicago,<br />

cofounder of the Alliance of Black<br />

Jews, and first cousin once<br />

removed of Michelle Obama.<br />

Recalling his first trip to Nigeria,<br />

he told the interviewer that, “The<br />

men had on black hats and they<br />

said ‘We’re Orthodox,’ because<br />

they thought wearing black hats<br />

made them Orthodox Jews.”<br />

Yeah, that’s a problem<br />

elsewhere too.<br />


SOUND?<br />

“No news” is good news<br />

Iran’s Islamic Republic News<br />

Agency (IRNA) reported on<br />

November 28 that the Deputy<br />

Governor of Isfahan denied that<br />

he had acknowledged to the<br />

media a “heavy sound” of an<br />

explosion in Isfahan on November<br />

12. Western media reported that<br />

a large explosion had taken place<br />

at a nuclear site there, and satellite<br />

photos confirmed vast<br />

destruction of a sprawling complex.<br />

The Public Relations Manager<br />

of Isfahan Fire Department,<br />

Mas’oud Anayeb, also rejected<br />

news broadcasts of a noise in<br />

Isfahan. “So far,” he said, “the<br />

Fire Department has received no<br />

news in this respect.”<br />

Just move on, folks. Nothing<br />

to see here. Nothing at all.<br />


German mathematicians do<br />

some computations<br />

On November 25, Haaretz featured<br />

an article about <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

mathematicians in Nazi Germany.<br />

Professor Christian Baer, president<br />

of the German Mathematical<br />

Society, is quoted as admitting<br />

that “for decades after the war we<br />

ignored the issue of the fate of the<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> mathematicians [since] we<br />

were afraid to discover unpleasant<br />

things”—like collaboration with the<br />

Nazis, and the Society’s expulsion<br />

of <strong>Jewish</strong> members even before it<br />

was compulsory.<br />

The article notes that, before<br />

the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933,<br />

one-third of all math professors in<br />

Germany were <strong>Jewish</strong>—although<br />

“Jews constituted less than 1 percent<br />

of the total population.”<br />

“What would have happened,”<br />

wonders Professor Moritz Epple<br />

of Frankfurt University, an expert<br />

on the history of mathematics<br />

“had this mathematical flourishing<br />

continued in a world without anti-<br />

Semitism…?”<br />

Not hard, indeed, to do the<br />

math.<br />


22 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

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design, for yeshivas, schools and other learning institutions.<br />

Please visit our website or call us for more details<br />

regarding an appointment or class scheduling.<br />

The Education Experience firm<br />

Phone: 718.412.1070<br />

Email: Info@experienceedu.com<br />

Visit: www.experienceedu.com

NEWS<br />



Protocols of the<br />

Elders of Agudah<br />


The tone of the report—about<br />

ostensible goings-on at a<br />

“closed-door meeting”—conveyed<br />

something sinister.<br />

“Security people manned<br />

<br />

managed to elude the security forces<br />

“requested anonymity” out of “fear [of]<br />

retribution,” in order to “to protect themselves<br />

and their families.”<br />

But the report concerned not some organized<br />

crime tribunal or governmental star<br />

chamber but rather a meeting of synagogue<br />

rabbis at Agudath Israel of America’s<br />

recent national convention in East Bruns-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

“revelations,” though, this one too had an<br />

antagonistic relationship to truth.<br />

That should have been suspected from<br />

<br />

<br />

etriciousness<br />

and his unbridled animus<br />

charedi community.<br />

tion<br />

enough, then its content itself should<br />

<br />

<br />

scheduled rabbonim meeting—there is one<br />

at every Agudah convention—aimed at<br />

<br />

and the opportunity to engage in discussion<br />

of timely topics pertinent to a rabbi’s<br />

<br />

The blogger asserted that the gathered<br />

clergy had been apprised to act as “gate-<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

of being complicit in the conspiracy, and<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

an effort by Agudath Israel to ensure that<br />

rabbonim-<br />

<br />

prepared to handle accusations of the<br />

same. It consisted of addresses stressing<br />

-<br />

<br />

on victims, and asserting the critical need<br />

to institute means of undermining the<br />

<br />

Yeshiva, a mental health professional, an<br />

menahel<br />

<br />

as director of public affairs for Agu-<br />

<br />

meeting. At no point did anyone suggest<br />

anything other than the procedure<br />

<br />

lengths to inform the public. Earlier this<br />

<br />

Conference in Manhattan and in a subsequent<br />

detailed public statement, responsa<br />

<br />

<br />

decisors permit, indeed demand, that in<br />

“raglayim<br />

la’davar” (roughly, reason to believe) that<br />

<br />

contact the secular authorities—not the<br />

<br />

such things is to help the claimant ascer-<br />

<br />

raglayim la’davar<br />

The only mention at the meeting of the<br />

<br />

<br />

reportedly been told of the halachic decisors’<br />

rulings and had found them entirely<br />

<br />

<br />

is reasonable cause to suspect that a child<br />

<br />

vary from state to state.)<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

others. One of those “activists” railed that<br />

<br />

“blood on their hands”; and asserted that<br />

it’s “time to call in the feds”— the FBI and<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

the Agudah of “violating the civil rights<br />

of children… in Torah observant households.”<br />

Both sought to disseminate the<br />

<br />

The issue of child abuse is serious and<br />

<br />

the charedi community and its institutions.<br />

What some “activists” seem to have<br />

trouble fathoming is that spreading base-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

24 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

op- ed<br />

<br />

You May Already Be a<br />

“Winner”!<br />


We have all seen those sweepstakes<br />

ads that say you may<br />

have won $10,000 or a brand<br />

new car. Realistically, however,<br />

the chances of your winning these are slim to<br />

none. Well, in New York State, we are sitting<br />

on $11 billion in 26 million different accounts,<br />

and some of it may already be yours. And<br />

we’re not kidding!<br />

Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars<br />

in unclaimed funds are turned over to the<br />

<br />

from a wide variety of sources: dormant bank<br />

accounts, un-refunded utility deposits, for-<br />

<br />

cards, life insurance policies that were never<br />

cashed in, or tax refund checks that never<br />

found their way home.<br />

When the rightful owners don’t claim their<br />

money, the law requires companies, after a<br />

certain period of time, to turn the money over<br />

<br />

<br />

efforts to inform the public that we are holding<br />

abandoned or unclaimed property. We’ve<br />

been to dozens of fairs, conferences, town<br />

hall meetings, senior events, and other<br />

venues statewide with our Unclaimed Funds<br />

booth, where people can check to see if<br />

we’re holding any of their unclaimed money.<br />

In addition, we’ve made it even easier to<br />

get your money back through our new online<br />

<br />

New Yorkers claim their funds in six easy<br />

steps, and get their money back in up to 10<br />

business days.<br />



<br />

the operations of all State agencies and<br />

local governments; managing the State’s<br />

$146.9 billion pension fund; overseeing<br />

the New York State and Local Retirement<br />

System; reviewing the State and NYC<br />

budgets; approving State contracts; and<br />

administering the State’s payroll and central<br />

accounting system.<br />

Last year, we reunited $296 million with<br />

their rightful owners. While we occasionally<br />

process claims for thousands of dollars, most<br />

<br />

even a single unclaimed fund account in the<br />

<br />

money might belong to you.<br />

<br />

holding your abandoned property, and to<br />

claim your money, is by following these easy<br />

steps:<br />

Visit my website at www.osc.state.ny.us<br />

and click on “Search for Unclaimed Funds.”<br />

Enter the Last Name and First Name or<br />

Company Name that you want to search for<br />

unclaimed funds. Review the search results<br />

for items that match your search criteria.<br />

After you select the item you wish to claim<br />

from the search results, if the item is eligible<br />

to be claimed online, you will be asked<br />

to answer a few questions. Based upon<br />

your answers, and the information we have<br />

in our system about the item, you may be<br />

given the option to claim it online. Step-bystep<br />

instructions are provided throughout the<br />

process.<br />

If you choose not to claim online, or if the<br />

item is not eligible to be claimed that way,<br />

select the item you wish to claim from the<br />

search results, and then select the “Mail<br />

Form” link. After you enter the required<br />

information, print and sign the form. Have<br />

your signature notarized and attach all the<br />

required documentation. Mail your com-<br />

-<br />

<br />

26 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

op- ed<br />

Street, Albany, NY 12236.<br />

Of course, the best way to hold onto your<br />

money is to never let it be abandoned in the<br />

<br />

Keep your accounts active. More than<br />

half of unclaimed accounts are dormant<br />

savings accounts that have had no activity<br />

for three years. Make a small deposit or<br />

withdrawal every year.<br />

Cash all checks promptly for utility<br />

deposits, dividends, insurance premiums,<br />

wages, and any<br />

We’ve made<br />

it even easier<br />

to get your<br />

money back<br />

through our<br />

new online<br />

claim form.<br />

other refunds<br />

you receive.<br />

Keep accurate<br />

financial<br />

records.<br />

Record all bank<br />

accounts, stock<br />

certificates,<br />

insurance policies,<br />

utility and<br />

rent deposits,<br />

and your safe<br />

deposit number.<br />

<br />

institutions with which you have accounts.<br />

Tell a family member or trusted friend<br />

<br />

records.<br />

Unfortunately, there are scam artists<br />

who will use the cover of unclaimed funds<br />

to steal information from you. And some<br />

<br />

“for a fee.” You don’t need to pay a fee<br />

<br />

<br />

to look for unclaimed funds is to go to<br />

our website. You can also call our toll-free<br />

number at 1-800-221-9311, between 8:00<br />

<br />

<br />

your money. It might be the easiest jackpot<br />

you ever hit.

Q&A<br />



MALCOLM HOENLEIN has served as<br />

executive vice chairman of the Conference<br />

of Presidents of Major <strong>Jewish</strong> Organizations<br />

since 1986. He is the founding<br />

executive director of the Greater New<br />

York Conference on Soviet Jewry and<br />

the <strong>Jewish</strong> Community Relations Council<br />

of New York, and has been associated<br />

with the Council on Foreign Relations, the<br />

America-Israel Chamber of Commerce,<br />

the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, Jerusalem’s<br />

Shaare Zedek Medical Center, The<br />

Fairness Project, and One Family, among<br />

other organizations.<br />

In the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood‘s<br />

victory in the Egyptian election, Ami spoke<br />

with Mr. Hoenlein regarding its implication.<br />

QWhat is your primary function with<br />

the Conference of Presidents of<br />

Major <strong>Jewish</strong> Organizations?<br />

AMy primary function is to bring together<br />

the different elements of the<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> community, to build a consensus<br />

in order to be able to act together in addressing<br />

the national and international<br />

challenges that confront American and<br />

world Jewry. We do not deal with domestic<br />

issues, or halachic issues. We deal with<br />

things ranging from U.S.-Israel relations,<br />

terrorism, the delegitimization of Israel,<br />

Iran’s nuclear program, and the United Nations’<br />

efforts to isolate Israel; to issues like<br />

welfare, global terrorism, and the safety of<br />

28 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772


the world <strong>Jewish</strong> community. The point is<br />

to enhance the security of our generation<br />

as well as future generations, and to mobilize<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> resources in order to enhance<br />

the ability of Jews to affect their destiny.<br />

QIs your organization mostly Democrat<br />

or Republican?<br />

AWe don’t take sides. We work with<br />

everyone. We meet with all the<br />

presidential candidates and don’t endorse<br />

anyone.<br />

QDo you ever take a public position<br />

and criticize an administration for a<br />

policy?<br />

APolicy is different. Of course we criticize<br />

when we disagree.<br />

QHow about the Israeli government?<br />

Do you take positions?<br />

AMostly we communicate privately,<br />

<br />

sometimes we go public.<br />

QDo you think that Iran is the biggest<br />

danger at present to the existence of<br />

Israel?<br />

A <br />

a <strong>Jewish</strong> issue per se. It is an American<br />

issue and a world issue, given their quest<br />

for hegemony, which is then compounded<br />

by their worldwide support of terrorism.<br />

And if you think of the Iranians obtaining<br />

nuclear weapons capacity, the whole<br />

international order could be destabilized.<br />

[The problem] is augmented today because<br />

of the growth and empowerment of<br />

<br />

the Middle East.<br />

Q <br />

a <strong>Jewish</strong> issue, because it threatens<br />

the United States. Is that something that<br />

is widely accepted, or do you still have to<br />

persuade some circles to adopt that point<br />

of view?<br />

AWell, I can tell you that when we<br />

started, 80 percent of Americans said<br />

that Iran was a <strong>Jewish</strong>/Israeli issue. Today,<br />

80 percent say it’s an American issue. I<br />

think more and more members of Congress<br />

have come to see it as a threat to the<br />

interests of the United States, as it is to<br />

Israel and to other countries in the Middle<br />

<br />

in the context of being a threat to Israel.<br />

We told him on numerous occasions that<br />

even though he did it out of concern for<br />

Israel, the fact is that if you narrow it down<br />

to that, you narrow the support, because<br />

then people don’t see it as relevant to them.<br />

They are now seeing the Iranian issue as<br />

relevant to their own security.<br />

QDoes the Obama administration see<br />

it as a global issue?<br />

AYes. President Obama and his administration<br />

talk about it in that context.<br />

Arabs talk about in that context, including<br />

Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Every Arab leader<br />

we meet talks to us about it. In public<br />

statements they talk about the enemy. It’s<br />

not Israel; it’s Iran.<br />

QDo you take some credit for changing<br />

the dialogue?<br />

ANo. I think it’s been an educational<br />

process. People have been exposed to<br />

groups like UANI, United Against Nuclear<br />

Iran, which get the message across.<br />

Q <br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> issue. What do you consider<br />

a <strong>Jewish</strong> issue?<br />

AThe global campaign to delegitimize<br />

Israel and the <strong>Jewish</strong> people is a spe-<br />

<br />

be involved in both, there is a difference.<br />

QIs the global delegitimization of Israel<br />

and the <strong>Jewish</strong> people coming from<br />

Muslim quarters, or is it broader?<br />

AIt’s broader. There is incitement<br />

coming from various extremist ideological<br />

groups that are against Israel and<br />

the United States, but it’s easier to attack<br />

Israel than the U.S. However, a lot of it is<br />

funded by money coming from Muslim<br />

countries, and it’s also rooted in Middle<br />

East propaganda—the lies and distortions<br />

that are spread from there. Today it’s being<br />

done via satellite. They can reach hundreds<br />

of millions of people—billions of people.<br />

There are tens of thousands of anti-Semitic<br />

and anti-Israel websites. Some of them are<br />

crude, but they also hire professionals to<br />

do it in a sophisticated way.<br />

QHow do you counter that?<br />

AWe’ve set up a strategic communication<br />

center here in New York. We<br />

publish a daily alert to educate people<br />

about the issues. We have 60 organizations<br />

and a national interagency task force dealing<br />

with delegitimization. We try to build<br />

on each other’s assets and resources, and<br />

not replicate and duplicate, but try to use<br />

all of our collective efforts. It’s a huge undertaking,<br />

and a priority issue. The consequences<br />

will be felt for many generations<br />

to come.<br />

QDo you think that the delegitimization<br />

of the <strong>Jewish</strong> people is connected to<br />

the delegitimization of Israel?<br />

AIsrael is seen as the corporate entity of<br />

<br />

Lewis said. It’s still not politically acceptable<br />

in many places to say “I hate Jews,”<br />

but you can say “I hate Israel.” Israel has<br />

become the collective Jew of 70 years ago.<br />

You see the same kind of hatred being<br />

propagated, and it’s not about Israeli policies,<br />

or territory, or settlements. It’s not<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 29

Q&A<br />

about ’67, it’s about ‘47. It’s about Israel’s<br />

right to exist, not a particular policy. It’s a<br />

way to attack the right of Jews to exist, to<br />

say that they don’t have the right to defend<br />

themselves, to self-determination, to a<br />

State.<br />

QDo you think the problem is getting<br />

worse?<br />

AYes, especially on the campuses, and<br />

in virtually every sector of society—<br />

entertainment, unions, cultural areas,<br />

churches, academia. We are trying to counter<br />

it everywhere. We conducted a huge<br />

national study of every sector of American<br />

society to try and understand this phenomenon.<br />

And while there is broad support for<br />

Israel, if you dig down you can see all the<br />

doubts and questions. People are ignorant;<br />

they don’t know the facts. They are there-<br />

<br />

people on campuses or in high schools<br />

who don’t know how to answer and fall for<br />

the lies.<br />

Q <br />

that inasmuch as the outside world is<br />

trying to delegitimize the <strong>Jewish</strong> people—<br />

AI what you’re going to ask.<br />

Q <br />

AThe delegitimization of the charedi<br />

community.<br />

Q Absolutely.<br />

AI think it’s a legitimate concern in<br />

some respects. Some of it we bring on<br />

ourselves. Some of it is that the frum community<br />

is an easy target, just as Jews are an<br />

easy target, and within that you have an<br />

easier target. Sometimes it’s things we do or<br />

<br />

generalizations, categorizations, and blanket<br />

charges against religious Jews.<br />

QHow should we deal with that?<br />

AFirst we have to change our behavior<br />

and make sure there’s no cause for<br />

it. Second, we’ve got to hold to account<br />

people who say outrageous things.<br />

QIs that something your organization<br />

would be able to facilitate?<br />

AWe don’t deal with domestic and internal<br />

affairs; that’s not what the Conference<br />

does. We don’t deal with halachic<br />

issues, or anything that cannot be dealt<br />

with by consensus. I see the critical com-<br />

ence,<br />

as achdus. It’s the one precondition<br />

that Hakadosh Baruch Hu set for everything<br />

that’s happened to us. When achdus is lacking<br />

within the frum community, and between<br />

the frum community and non-frum<br />

community, we undermine ourselves. We<br />

waste our energy and efforts, and we shift<br />

the focus from those who seek to do us<br />

harm, to harming each other.<br />

Q <br />

facilitate that common goodwill and<br />

emphasize what unites us rather than what<br />

divides us?<br />

AThat’s what I talk about wherever I go.<br />

QFantastic. You say that you represent<br />

people of different strands of Judaism.<br />

AI don’t say I represent. My job is to<br />

bring together 52 organizations that<br />

represent every aspect of the <strong>Jewish</strong> community.<br />

I never purport to say that I’m a<br />

spokesman for every Jew, or every sector of<br />

the <strong>Jewish</strong> community. I don’t think any-<br />

<br />

try to build achdus among different people.<br />

QAre you frustrated that no matter<br />

what you do, anti-Semitism and the<br />

delegitimization of the <strong>Jewish</strong> people keep<br />

on growing?<br />

AI don’t think that’s accurate. Our efforts<br />

are making an impact. Our<br />

surveys show that two-thirds of the respondents<br />

said that they support Israel.<br />

It’s not something we can take for granted.<br />

At the same time, if we ask whether they<br />

believe some of the lies about Israel that<br />

have been disproven, they also say yes. A<br />

lot of people still believe that America was<br />

responsible for the World Trade Center. I’m<br />

talking about domestically, let alone those<br />

around the world.<br />

QHow important is it to provide people<br />

with accurate information?<br />

AWe have proven that when people are<br />

given credible information in a timely<br />

manner, the results are different, and we<br />

have created vehicles by which to do this.<br />

It is crucial to get ahead of the curve. You<br />

know better than anyone that the news<br />

cycle today is 30 seconds. It used to be 24<br />

hours, then 12, then 8, then 6. Now, if you<br />

don’t catch something in the blink of an<br />

eye it’s gone, and you can’t get it back.<br />

QDo you think that the Internet is feeding<br />

the delegitimization process?<br />

AAbsolutely. It’s a vehicle for the rapid<br />

dissemination of “the big lie.” It took<br />

Hitler months to spread the big lie, but you<br />

can now do it in seconds. And you can’t kill<br />

it; once it’s out there, it’s out there.<br />

QThe map of the Middle East is<br />

changing so dramatically. Are you<br />

concerned about this change, or are you<br />

hopeful that something good will emerge?<br />

AI don’t see any good in the immediate<br />

future. The only organized opposition<br />

hood,<br />

as demonstrated in Morocco, Tuni-<br />

30 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

sia, and Egypt, although maybe<br />

in time secular and other opposition<br />

groups will be cre-<br />

<br />

doesn’t want responsibility, it<br />

wants control. You’ll notice that<br />

they’re not putting up a presidential<br />

candidate in Egypt.<br />

They don’t want the day-to-day<br />

obligations of taking care of the<br />

garbage and being the target<br />

of criticism. So wherever they<br />

win they want to see others in<br />

power, but retain veto power<br />

and control. In Lebanon they<br />

were forced into having to<br />

assume power, but what did<br />

they do? They put a Sunni up<br />

as president. So now everyone<br />

can yell at him! Then they tell<br />

the people that they agree with<br />

them!<br />

QAre you happy with the<br />

way America dealt with<br />

Mubarak?<br />

AI was in Egypt after the<br />

revolution. I spoke to generals<br />

and to regular people. I<br />

saw that America was hurt by<br />

the way we treated Mubarak.<br />

Some felt that we acted too late.<br />

Some felt we reacted improperly,<br />

that you shouldn’t send<br />

a “kid,” as they called him—a<br />

29-year-old deputy spokesman,<br />

to make a statement to<br />

Mubarak to step down, instead<br />

of a more senior person. They<br />

saw that as compounding the<br />

insult, without recognition of<br />

all the decades of friendship.<br />

QWhy does the American<br />

government keep on<br />

making the same mistakes?<br />

ADon’t ask me that! I can’t<br />

even understand what<br />

I do sometimes! I think they<br />

tion<br />

in terms of trying to determine<br />

what to do. I meet with<br />

Arab leaders all the time. I get<br />

from them a sense of disappointment<br />

and alienation from<br />

the U.S., and also from Europe.<br />

They wonder why the West<br />

doesn’t react to what they’re<br />

doing to Christians in Iran,<br />

Iraq, Lebanon, and elsewhere.<br />

People say, “Look, if they don’t<br />

stand up for their own, who<br />

can count on them?”<br />

QDo you fear a global<br />

Muslim movement getting<br />

stronger?<br />

AI believe they have global<br />

aspirations, but I don’t see<br />

them taking over the world. I<br />

do think, though, that people<br />

have to take the growth of the<br />

Muslim population in Europe<br />

more seriously. Efforts have to<br />

be made to counter radicalization<br />

of these populations.<br />

People are afraid to address this<br />

issue because of political correctness.<br />

I’m not saying to persecute<br />

them, to subject them to<br />

religious discrimination, but I<br />

do think there is room for very<br />

legitimate action.<br />

QAs the year 2011 comes<br />

to an end, are you optimistic<br />

or pessimistic about our<br />

future?<br />

A<br />

The optimist says that this<br />

is the best possible world,<br />

and the pessimist agrees. Jews<br />

can’t afford to be optimistic or<br />

pessimistic. We have to see the<br />

world as it is, but we have to be<br />

optimistic about our ability to<br />

change it.


The Missing Grave, Found<br />


Sometimes mesorah, <strong>Jewish</strong> heritage, is made tangible.<br />

The recent discovery of the grave of Rav Yosef<br />

Yitzchak Schneerson, the son of the Tzemach Tzedek<br />

of Lubavitch, has opened a new connection to a cen-<br />

<br />

outside the chassidic movement. It was known that he<br />

was a rebbe in the town of Ovrutch in the Ukraine, but<br />

<br />

has quickly becoming a sought-after place for tefillah.<br />

Rav Yisroel Meir Gabbai, founder of the Agudas Oholei<br />

Tzaddikim Organization, spoke to me from the Ukraine<br />

about this important discovery.<br />

Identifying lost burial places involves various methods.<br />

In this case, the kever<br />

locals who remembered where the Ovrutcher was<br />

buried. Using modern techniques, Rav Gabbai determined<br />

that there indeed was a kever at that spot. Rav<br />

Gabbai also mentioned that, surrounding the kever, are<br />

a bit of the foundations of a building that the communists tried but<br />

failed to erect over the kever.<br />

Rav Yosef Yitzchak impacted Chabad on many levels. He was the<br />

son of the Tzemach Tzedek (the third Lubavitcher Rebbe), the brother<br />

of the Rebbe Maharash (the fourth Rebbe) and the father-in-law of the<br />

<br />

<br />

There is a fascinating story relating how Rav Yosef Yitzchak’s daugh-<br />

<br />

Dovber Schneerson. When the Rebbe was in his grandfather’s—the<br />

Tzemach Tzedek’s—home, the Tzemach Tzedek indicated that he<br />

desired that Sholom Ber become betrothed to his granddaughter<br />

Shterna Sara. Amazingly, The Rebbe Rashab was only four years old<br />

<br />

Yitzchak wondered aloud that “maybe when they grow older they<br />

won’t be a match,” the Tzemach Tzedek dismissed the claim, saying<br />

that the Rashab would grow to be a great tzaddik and a good match<br />

for his daughter. A detailed tenayim (engagement contract) was written<br />

that same year between the two mechutanim (who were brothers),<br />

which indicated what each side would provide for the young couple. It<br />

<br />

<br />

The recently found Kever of Rav Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson of Ovrutch<br />

The Tzemach Tzedek himself contributed toward this fund.<br />

<br />

Tcherkas before settling in Ovruch. He led his chassidus with slightly<br />

different minhagim (customs) than those of Chabad. He was known<br />

as a miracle worker in his own right and attracted a large following.<br />

He often davened<br />

long. In fact, when his father-in-law sent a messenger to call on Rav<br />

Yosef Yitzchak, the messenger informed him that he had to wait sev-<br />

tefillah.<br />

<br />

thought you told me that you daven b’tzibbur [with a minyan].”<br />

Rav Yosef Yitzchak replied that he had a mesorah originating with<br />

the Baal Hatanya that b’tzibbur meant to gather all of the powers of<br />

the souls as well as all of their nitzotzos (divine sparks), and that took<br />

him quite a while.<br />

kever<br />

once the search had begun. “Things take time and we are having a<br />

<br />

kivrei tzaddikim. He<br />

responded, “Yes, there is more to do.”<br />

Thanks to Rav Zalmen Hertzl—author of the sefer, Nesuei Nesiim—<br />

for contributing to this article.<br />

32 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772


Clinton Causes Consternation<br />



Hillary Clinton caused an uproar with recent comments comparing the separate<br />

seating on mehadrin bus lines in Israel to segregation like that perpetrated against<br />

the African-Americans of the 1950s. In a closed forum for Israeli politicians, Clinton<br />

said she is concerned over Israel’s democracy and the rights of women in Israel. She<br />

directly referred to the mehadrin buses, saying that they reminded her of Rosa Parks’<br />

stand against segregation on buses. She said that the refusal of IDF soldiers to hear<br />

women singing in Army-related events was reminiscent of religious fanaticism in<br />

Iran. Clinton’s remarks immediately caused rapid response from MKs; although not<br />

<br />

<br />

“Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. I assume that whatever will be done<br />

here will be within the measure of the law.”<br />

<br />

they seemed to agree with her regarding gender segregation. Finance Minister Yuval<br />

Steinitz said in response, “These voices are totally exaggerated. Israel is a living,<br />

breathing, liberal democracy.” He added, however, “The issue of the exclusion of<br />

women and separation is unacceptable and must be stopped.”<br />

Tzipi Livni was in full agreement with Clinton, saying: “Friends and admirers of<br />

Israel from within and without are worried about processes that Israel is undergo-<br />

<br />

detractors, and who act to preserve Israel’s military advantage in the area.”<br />

Livni, a longtime antagonist of the chareidim, referenced them indirectly by adding<br />

that, “It is time to awaken those still blind to the ugly wave washing over Israel from<br />

inside.”<br />

Blame Government,<br />

Not Business<br />



TAXES.<br />

<br />

a quarter million Israelis slept in tents until early<br />

September to protest rising prices in the food<br />

and housing industries. On August 6, at a rally<br />

entitled “Rally for Justice,” people publicly protested<br />

the increased housing prices, which were<br />

<br />

As protests started gathering momentum,<br />

demonstrators urged the Israeli public to boycott<br />

Tnuva Food Industries, as well as Strauss<br />

Group, Ltd. The severe backlash, at that time<br />

focusing on increased cottage cheese prices,<br />

caused these companies to offer loss-entailing<br />

<br />

The chairman of Israel Discount Bank, Matthew<br />

Bronfman, says that, while the complaints<br />

<br />

group.<br />

“The food-prices protests in Israel have to<br />

<br />

<br />

said in an interview in New York today. “The<br />

imbalances don’t come from our side. It’s the<br />

government.”<br />

Interestingly, the problems that infuriated<br />

Occupy Wall Street protesters seem to be<br />

affecting Israel, as well. The OECD, Organization<br />

for Economic Co-Operation and<br />

Development, released data showing that while<br />

some countries around the world still have a<br />

small rich to poor gap, Israel doesn’t fare as<br />

well. Denmark, Sweden, and Germany have a<br />

<br />

<br />

shows an alarmingly widening gap in Israel of<br />

<br />

ratio? The United States of America. Is Occupy<br />

<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 33


Rabbeinu Na Nach Nachman……<br />

M’Eretz Yisroel???<br />


<br />

people make an annual pilgrimage there. The small city in the<br />

zt”l, and<br />

the masses travel there for Rosh Hashana. The yearly migration,<br />

which has increased by the thousands each year, has become a<br />

highlight of the year for those who make the trip to the far away<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

terred<br />

in Eretz Yisrael? MK Danny Dannon wants to make it a<br />

reality and bring the cherished tzaddik to Har Hamenuchos.<br />

mashpia<br />

<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

ago when there was serious consideration<br />

about moving Rav<br />

<br />

government was planning on<br />

erecting buildings on and sur-<br />

kever.<br />

Even then, strong international<br />

shtadlonus (political pressure)<br />

was carried out, even including<br />

speaking to the President of The<br />

<br />

the construction of the build-<br />

<br />

slov,<br />

conveyed his wishes several times to his beloved talmid Rav<br />

<br />

stemmed from the fact that he would be interred near the resting<br />

place of thousands of children killed during the terrible pogroms<br />

of Tach V’tat (1648-1649).<br />

There are several other factors, both technical and spiritual,<br />

<br />

eternal resting place.<br />

<br />

and while he had expressed the desire to be buried in Eretz Yisroel<br />

as well, the fact that he expressly stated his desire to be interred<br />

halachically<br />

<br />

are buried in extremely close proximity of each other, with no<br />

clear data where everybody is located; that would make it virtually<br />

impossible to open the ground without disturbing the bones<br />

of other dead Jews.<br />

Observes Rav Frank: “If a move wouldn’t receive the blessing<br />

kever of<br />

<br />

<br />

ing<br />

on his kever, the topic has resurfaced due to Danon’s com-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

MK Danon stated that, “Thousands<br />

of Israelis who cannot<br />

make it to Israel would now be<br />

able to visit his kever. It would<br />

bring honor to the <strong>Jewish</strong> people<br />

<br />

Eretz Yisrael.” MK Danon is in<br />

the minority, it seems, possibly<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

favor of it, are not mainstream<br />

<br />

mashpia or rav<br />

<br />

Land.<br />

<br />

pointing to another underlying factor in the decision, at least<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

American dollars.<br />

<br />

moving the Rebbe would be best, they would have their ways of<br />

<br />

<br />

A token of thanks is offered to Rav Frank for his insight and information<br />

for this article.<br />

34 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772


The Color of Money<br />


Famed artist Marc (Moishe) Chagall’s paintings are hard to come by and are rarely offered up<br />

for auction today. Even a so-called “unimportant” painting by the “quintessential <strong>Jewish</strong> artist<br />

<br />

While Chagall is famous for his paintings of stained windows in actual synagogues, these<br />

<br />

in depicting actual shuls. I spoke to Emily Bergland, of Sotheby’s Auction House in New York<br />

<br />

one time a year when Sotheby’s auctions all of its Judaica. We are happily surprised at the<br />

press the Chagall paintings are receiving.”<br />

In fact, the press may drive up prices.<br />

<br />

drawn to his <strong>Jewish</strong> roots. He would ultimately return to Israel several more times in his life.<br />

<br />

highest of all three.<br />

While in Tzfas, Chagall was drawn to the two shuls of the Arizal. He painted two versions of<br />

the Sephardi shul, which now hang in the Israeli Museum. He painted one version of the Ashkenazi<br />

Ari Shul, which is now for sale.<br />

<br />

kloiz (study hall), is the only known portrayal of the interior of this small shul,<br />

which was destroyed by the Nazis, yms”h, during World War II.<br />

The sale is open to international buyers as well and it is unique, as it focuses on the Judaism<br />

rooted in Chagall, who was mostly irreligious. Emily stated that “all three paintings are being<br />

lery<br />

in New York.” A worthy investment, indeed.<br />

Chagall’s painting of the Vilna Gaon’s kloiz (study hall).<br />

The only known depiction of the shul which was destroyed during WWII.


Marseille,<br />

Marseille, the secondbiggest<br />

city in France, is<br />

home to about 75,000<br />

Jews, out of a total population<br />

of 850,000. Today,<br />

the vast majority of the Jews are Sephardic<br />

immigrants from the countries of North<br />

Africa. In general, France has the largest<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> population in all of Europe.<br />

If the <strong>Jewish</strong> community of Marseille<br />

had to be characterized in one word, that<br />

word would be warm. People are generally<br />

polite, kind, and friendly. Although<br />

it is not a wealthy community, it isn’t<br />

poor either. Fortunately, extreme poverty<br />

is rare, because the law sets a minimum<br />

income for each individual.<br />

According to the deputy chief rabbi<br />

of the city, Rabbi Shmuel Hatuel, the<br />

<br />

munity<br />

of Marseille, which enjoys a high<br />

<br />

of categorization into sectors is not comprehensible<br />

to the Jews of Marseille. Everyone<br />

converges together around their<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong>ness, and it is unimportant to them<br />

36 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

France<br />


MIMOUN<br />

<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> life in Marseille, located in the<br />

south of France, is organized around 50<br />

synagogues, seven schools, three kollelim,<br />

a yeshiva ketana, a yeshiva gedola, and two<br />

retirement homes. Most of the institutions<br />

are under Sephardic supervision, with the<br />

exception of the kollelim, two schools, and<br />

the yeshiva ketana, which are under Litvish<br />

supervision.<br />

Kosher products are readily available,<br />

and there are more than 20 kosher restaurants.<br />

About 20 percent of the <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

population is observant (keeping Shabbos<br />

more or less), while two percent would<br />

be characterized as bnei Torah. It has been<br />

estimated that one third of the primary<br />

school-aged <strong>Jewish</strong> children receive their<br />

education in <strong>Jewish</strong> schools. There are also<br />

several Chabad Houses and institutions in<br />

the city.<br />

In France, the Representative Council of<br />

French <strong>Jewish</strong> Institutions (CRIF—Conseil<br />

Representatif des Institutions Juives de<br />

France) is the umbrella organization of all<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> groups. There is also the Consistoire,<br />

which looks after the religious needs<br />

of the community, such as kashrus, cemetery<br />

management, and community repre-<br />

<br />

Approximately 300 people per year<br />

make aliyah to Israel, many of whom are<br />

young kollel couples. Unfortunately, there<br />

is also a high rate of intermarriage, which<br />

is a real challenge for the chief rabbi.<br />

Thank G-d, there is no particular problem<br />

with anti-Semitism. But like any other<br />

place in the world, we do hear of isolated<br />

incidents from time to time.<br />

Curiously, France has very few <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

archaeological sites, although the <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

presence in the country is ancient. Traces<br />

of Judaism date back to the 6th century<br />

If the <strong>Jewish</strong> community of Marseille<br />

had to be characterized in one word, that<br />

word would be warm.<br />

B.C.E., when <strong>Jewish</strong> slaves were brought<br />

in for their business acumen. In Marseille,<br />

there is one small street that evokes its existence<br />

in medieval times: Rue de la Juiverie—Jewry<br />

Street.<br />

In the Middle Ages the <strong>Jewish</strong> popula-<br />

<br />

chachmei Proventzia<br />

among them famous rishonim. Marseille<br />

was one of several cities in southern France<br />

(Bezier, Lunel, Avignon, and Carpentras)<br />

that was visited by prestigious meshulachim<br />

from Israel such as the Chida. In 1257,<br />

the Jews of Marseille were granted equal<br />

rights, although they were prohibited from<br />

working on non-<strong>Jewish</strong> holidays. In the<br />

14th century there were three synagogues,<br />

a guest house, and a mikvah. Another wave<br />

of immigration occurred after the Spanish<br />

Inquisition in 1492.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 37


The French Revolution, in 1789,<br />

granted Jews citizenship, which unfortunately,<br />

led to the mass assimilation of most<br />

French-born Jews. Another element of the<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> population came from Turkey after<br />

the First World War. They are also mostly<br />

assimilated. The community only began<br />

to renew itself with the arrival of very discreetly<br />

repatriated Jews from North Africa,<br />

pushed out of their homes by decolonization.<br />

Other Jews arrived while escaping<br />

Nazi Germany, and still others were displaced<br />

by the British White Paper of 1939.<br />

The oldest functioning synagogue in<br />

Marseille today was built in 1864, which<br />

houses the Consistoire. Up until a few decades<br />

ago there was only one Ashkenazic<br />

synagogue in the city.<br />

The opening of the Suez Canal, in 1869,<br />

greatly facilitated the economic expansion<br />

of the city’s port. From 1830 to 1915,<br />

France had established a huge colonial<br />

empire around the world. Parts of North<br />

America, Indochina, North Africa, West<br />

nized.<br />

The port still plays a large role in<br />

international shipping. Today, Marseille is<br />

a modern city with great cultural diversity,<br />

featuring its own airport, metro system,<br />

and high-speed train.<br />

<br />

Ruimy from Morocco, who was sent to<br />

Marseille by Rabbi Lipmann of the Novardok<br />

yeshiva in Paris, and Rabbi Kohn,<br />

sent after WWII by the Steipler, Rav<br />

Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky. Chassidic Judaism<br />

saw a rebirth in France after the<br />

Lubavitcher Rebbe lived there during<br />

WWII, and today, the country has hundreds<br />

of Chabad institutions.<br />

Behind the belief that France will play<br />

a central role at the time of Moshiach’s<br />

<br />

exiles will leave Tsarfat<br />

which many identify with France. May it<br />

happen immediately! <br />

Cost of Living<br />


Approx. $3 U.S.<br />


$7 U.S.<br />


Gan and primary school — $200 U.S. per<br />

month.<br />

Yeshiva ketana — $450 U.S. per month<br />

High school — $225 U.S. per month<br />


$1,500 U.S. per month<br />

Real Estate<br />

A four-room house rents for $1,200 U.S.<br />

per month, but the state provides housing and<br />

family stipends.<br />

The current price of residential property is<br />

around $600 U.S. per square foot.<br />

Weather<br />

Marseille enjoys a temperate Mediterranean<br />

climate. Both its winters and summers are<br />

mild, and it is sunny throughout the year.<br />

Getting There<br />

BY PLANE:<br />

To New York — 8 hours<br />

To Israel — 4 ½ hours<br />

To Paris —1 hour, 20 minutes<br />

To London— 2 hours<br />

BY TRAIN:<br />

To Paris — 3 hours<br />

To London — with a stop in<br />

Paris, 5 ½ hours<br />

38 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772



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2 You won’t take responsibility—the<br />

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in charge; the worst part is having to be.<br />

3 Your only motivation is money—you’ll<br />

need motivation to go forward before<br />

you get a fat paycheck.<br />

4 You swing<br />

between<br />

extremes—extremes send investors<br />

running, employees cowering, and drive<br />

customers away.<br />

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what needs to be done<br />

when it needs to be done.<br />

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7 You have no support system—without<br />

mentors to call for advice, you<br />

reduce your chances for success.<br />

8 You are addicted to the familiar—<br />

keep pace with market changes so you<br />

don’t get left behind.<br />

9 You never set your own limits—live<br />

by your own rules to get the job done.<br />

10 You don’t keep your word—<br />

there’s no trust without honesty.<br />

40 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

40 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

&<br />

Halacha<br />

Hi-Tech<br />



“People write articles saying that what [we say]<br />

promotes chillul Shabbos,” Dan Marans opined,<br />

as soon as we sat down in the Zomet Institute’s<br />

new presentation center in its headquarters in<br />

Alon Shvut, Israel. “And they’re right, but it isn’t<br />

what we said. It’s what the reporter thought we<br />

said, and it’s often accidently inaccurate.”<br />

Marans, portly and bearded, with an infectious<br />

smile, is the director of Machon Zomet: the<br />

Center for Science and Technology, best known<br />

for the development of devices such as electric<br />

wheelchairs, telephones, elevators, and—<br />

coming soon—computers that can be used on<br />

Shabbos. While it is only a small fraction of what<br />

his organization actually does, Marans, an American<br />

immigrant living in Bet Shemesh, is naturally<br />

wary, given the way that many in the media have<br />

portrayed his institution’s innovations.<br />

The Machon was founded 35 years ago in the<br />

Gush Etzion suburb of Alon Shvut by Rabbi Yis-<br />

<br />

Lev, the Jerusalem College of Technology. Initially<br />

working at the Institute for Science and Halacha in<br />

Jerusalem, a charedi entity, Rozen saw the need for<br />

the establishment of a similar organization in order<br />

to, in Marans’ words, “synthesize modern life and<br />

halacha.”<br />

That mandate, which sees the Machon developing<br />

technology for the use of the Israeli Army and<br />

police, and for medical professionals throughout<br />

the Orthodox world, has led to Zomet being pro-<br />

The New York<br />

Times describing it as “trying to solve the problems<br />

that arise when technology and the Torah collide.”<br />

Marans was understandably nervous. While operating<br />

strictly within the parameters of halacha,<br />

he does encourage innovations that on the surface<br />

appear to be breaking down barriers and could<br />

present issues of marat ayin, “giving the appearance<br />

of wrongdoing.” The Machon’s innovative<br />

technologies are used by many throughout the Orthodox<br />

spectrum in Israel and around the world,<br />

from traditional to chassidic, but as with any halachic<br />

issue, there are differing opinions on the utility<br />

of the halachic positions on which Zomet’s work<br />

rests.<br />

Zomet is a “progressive” institution in the best<br />

sense of the word, Marans explained. While the<br />

use of this term has become associated in people’s<br />

minds with organized movements that have<br />

sought to throw off the constraints of halacha,<br />

cult<br />

questions through the application of halacha.<br />

Zomet is working to synthesize our post-industrial<br />

world with the traditions passed down from<br />

Mount Sinai.<br />

This is reinforced by the physical layout of<br />

Zomet. Walking down a narrow corridor toward<br />

the presentation center—which is used to teach<br />

schoolchildren and tour groups about technol-<br />

ing<br />

with tool chests, bales of wire, and numerous<br />

open sefarim.<br />

Toward the end of the hall, immediately before<br />

the entrance, is a medium-sized laboratory, partitioned<br />

into cubicles, in which engineers in knitted<br />

kippot and long payos sit and tinker with<br />

circuit boards. While I was there, I saw, in an open<br />

space in the middle of the room, an industrialsized<br />

soda machine. A client, most likely a kosher<br />

hotel, had commissioned Marans’ engineers to<br />

<br />

Marans was proud to inform me that Zomet’s<br />

work on devices such as industrial water heaters<br />

and Shabbos elevators (Zomet services some 90<br />

percent of Israel’s automatic lifts) have led to a<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 41





dramatic reduction in chillul Shabbos in hotels frequented<br />

by Israel’s large secular population.<br />

“We deal with all sorts of halachic issues,” said<br />

Marans. “However, we are best known for our work<br />

in technology, as that is the most visible aspect of<br />

what we do. When we consult with various institutions<br />

and government ministries, that is not as<br />

public.”<br />

There are, at any given time, 20-25 full-time employees,<br />

mostly engineers, although the Machon<br />

consults with various gedolei hador from the various<br />

streams of Orthodoxy.<br />

“We have numerous rabbis who work here, either<br />

editing, writing, or dealing with halachic issues,”<br />

Marans told me. While reticent to provide a comprehensive<br />

list of rabbis in consultation with his organization,<br />

Marans was willing to say that they span the<br />

gamut of Torah Judaism.<br />

Marans himself recently received rabbinic ordination<br />

as well, making him and Rabbi Rozen superb<br />

bridges between the rabbinic and technical staffs.<br />

“The Machon is well known for dealing with electricity<br />

on Shabbos and Shabbos elevators. Some<br />

<br />

used by the [Israeli] Army and by hospitals, or Shabbos<br />

telephones, or medical equipment, or electric<br />

scooters, or the metal detectors at the Me’arat<br />

HaMachpelah or the Kotel. All of these things are<br />

ple’s<br />

heads,” Marans said.<br />

Zomet’s Shabbos products are so well known, at<br />

least in Israel, that people’s reaction when hearing<br />

the name is to mention grama (indirect cause), the<br />

halachic principle on which many Zomet products<br />

are based.<br />

Or, as Marans put it, “You say Machon Zomet, and<br />

people go, ‘Ah! The grama guys’.”<br />

However, he is quick to point out, “Most of what<br />

we do isn’t grama, and increasingly we’re doing less<br />

and less because there are solutions that are much<br />

more lechatchila (at the preferred halachic level at the<br />

outset rather than retroactively), such as modulating<br />

existing current.”<br />

“There is a disagreement between the Chazon Ish<br />

and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach [upon whose<br />

opinions the Machon frequently relies] regarding<br />

whether or not the use of electricity on Shabbos is<br />

forbidden because of the melacha of boneh (building).”<br />

According to the Chazon Ish, it is boneh, which<br />

means that electricity is forbidden d’oraisa; according<br />

to Rav Auerbach, electricity is forbidden d’rabbanan.<br />

“If you go according to Rav Auerbach you can<br />

allow people to use Shabbos wheelchairs and scoot-<br />

<br />

heat and light by the application of electricity, as in a<br />

light bulb, someone using a device reliant on grama<br />

would only be indirectly causing a transgression of a<br />

rabbinical prohibition, which is permitted ‘when you<br />

are looking in terms of great need’.”<br />

“The fact that grama is permitted in ‘a situation<br />

of loss’ [as the Rema wrote] has been interpreted in<br />

<br />

<br />

matters related to health and security,” Rabbi Rozen<br />

explained.<br />

“In fact, this has been extended to include anything<br />

related to health, which has been given a<br />

status on an equal footing with ‘a situation of<br />

loss,’ and often even greater importance.”<br />

One such need led to the creation of a power unit<br />

into which you can plug an inhalation machine.<br />

Rather than turning on the machine itself, you press<br />

a button on the external grama unit. The machine,<br />

at regular intervals, checks if the button has been<br />

pressed, and once this is detected it powers on and<br />

provides current to the inhaler.<br />

<br />

children’s inhalations in advance, the grama switch<br />

allows parents to use the machines as necessary.<br />

Many of the technologies that Zomet develops<br />

<br />

doctors and soldiers frequently operate under<br />

conditions that are life threatening.<br />

The legal dictum that “pikuach nefesh docheh Shabbos,”<br />

that the saving of a life overrides the prohibitions<br />

of the Shabbos, is certainly applicable to much<br />

of what they do. While this principle is applicable,<br />

said Marans, it is still preferable “to limit the chillul<br />

Shabbos.”<br />

If there are two ways to do an action, he explained,<br />

one in which you are violating a Biblical<br />

prohibition and one in which you are violating a<br />

42 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

abbinic prohibition, it is preferable to choose the<br />

one that allows you to refrain from violating Torah<br />

law.<br />

Another way in which technology permits those<br />

required to violate the Shabbos to avoid doing so<br />

on a d’oraisa level is the use of the Shabbos pen.<br />

While permanent writing is a melacha (act prohibited<br />

on Shabbos), writing letters that disappear,<br />

written in invisible ink, is not.<br />

One of the more interesting aspects of Zomet’s<br />

work is the way it allows those with pressing needs,<br />

either medical- or security-related, to perform activities<br />

they never thought they would be allowed to<br />

engage in on Shabbos.<br />

Genesis<br />

“More than 20 years ago, the phone rang at my<br />

home in Alon Shevut,” wrote Rabbi Rozen, explaining<br />

the origin of the Shabbos wheelchair. “Upon<br />

answering I heard, ‘This is Shlomo Zalman.’ I immediately<br />

recognized the voice of the most famous halachic<br />

authority in the world, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman<br />

Auerbach, from Jerusalem.<br />

“In the modest way that was so typical of him, the<br />

Rav asked if I could come to his house the next day<br />

to help him with something. I replied, ‘Certainly,’<br />

very happy that I had been given this great honor.”<br />

That visit was to change the lives of hundreds of disabled<br />

Jews around the world.<br />

As Marans and Rozen looked on with expressions<br />

of tolerant amusement, I took one of<br />

the Institute’s electric scooters for a test drive,<br />

almost crashing into desks and bookshelves, ex-<br />

<br />

by those less fortunate than me. Although I had<br />

<br />

good health, I was able to temporarily put myself<br />

in the position of one of Zomet’s “clients” and<br />

gained some appreciation for what these machines<br />

mean for their quality of life.<br />

Rozen continued: “The next afternoon, the Rabbi<br />

asked me to accompany him to a dilapidated house<br />

in his neighborhood in Jerusalem, known as Shaarei<br />

Chesed. He knocked on the door, and it was opened<br />

by a young girl in an electric wheelchair. ‘Can you<br />

use the expertise of the Zomet Institute to make<br />

some sort of arrangement for her to be mobile on<br />

Shabbos?’ he asked.”<br />

As he told me, Shira was a young victim of paralysis,<br />

unable to move or play. The introduction of<br />

a Shabbos wheelchair into her life allowed Shira,<br />

<br />

of oneg Shabbos, having been introduced by the<br />

prophets, can override rabbinic prohibitions under<br />

certain circumstances.)<br />

According to Mrs. Posner, Shira’s mother, “Shabbos<br />

would come, and the fun would go down the<br />

ing<br />

for someone to come and push her.”<br />

However, since being given her scooter, what<br />

Rabbi Rozen terms a “techno-halachic device,” Shira’s<br />

entire life has changed. “Now I have legs,” she said.<br />

“I can do it myself.”<br />

While seeing someone perambulate through a<br />

synagogue or beis midrash on a motorized vehicle on<br />

Shabbos is disconcerting, it is certainly no match for<br />

the sight of a frum soldier typing and using a computer<br />

system on the holiest of days.<br />

Other Inventions<br />

Through the use of a capacitive keyboard, based<br />

<br />

by tablet computers and smart phones, IDF soldiers<br />

can now use computers that are unfortunately<br />

necessary for security reasons on Shabbos without<br />

doing anything beyond modulating an existing current.<br />

A mouse with two grama-buttons completes<br />

the system.<br />

In fact, Marans informed me that Zomet is currently<br />

looking into the creation of smartphones,<br />

along the lines of Apple’s popular iPhone, featuring<br />

capacitive touch screens that can be used by<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 43

security personnel.<br />

Another invention that relies on the modulation<br />

of existing current are the gates and handheld<br />

metal detectors used by guards at the Me’arat<br />

HaMachpelah and the Kotel, two of Israel’s holiest<br />

and most contentious sites.<br />

According to Zomet, the hand-held metal detecting<br />

wand is a device “in which no electric circuit is<br />

turned on or off. A mechanism that causes very lowlevel<br />

vibrations (as in a cell phone) is left on for the<br />

entire Shabbos, and if the device is brought close<br />

to metal, the level of vibration increases. The prohibitions<br />

related to operating electrical devices on<br />

Shabbos (“giving birth” to a new current, lighting a<br />

<br />

is turned on or off, but not if the level of current is<br />

altered.”<br />

Zomet claims that this techno-halachic device<br />

“may be used on Shabbos even according to the<br />

most stringent halachic requirements. It has been<br />

approved by Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi<br />

Yehoshua Neubirt [author of Shemiras Shabbos<br />

K’Hilchaso].”<br />

The gates at Shaarei Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem<br />

and the abovementioned holy sites are guarded by<br />

electronic gates operating on the same principles.<br />

“If a person passes through carrying a large enough<br />

quantity of metal (such as a gun), a buzzer sounds.<br />

People with evil intentions will certainly not be<br />

inhibited by the Shabbos desecration involved<br />

in going through the gate, but what about an observant<br />

Jew? Sometimes a belt buckle or a tallis<br />

ornament is enough to set off the alarm, thereby<br />

desecrating Shabbos.”<br />

In order to avoid this scenario, the Institute utilized<br />

the same principle of the modulation of current. “In<br />

these entrance gates the buzzer has been replaced<br />

by a meter, and a small current exists even when no<br />

metal is present. A person who passes through the<br />

<br />

of current in the device, but does not open or close<br />

an electrical circuit. A sign at the entrance explains<br />

to those passing through that they need not fear desecrating<br />

the Shabbos.”<br />

Returning to grama, Zomet has developed systems<br />

for use in secure locations such as the City of David<br />





in the Shiloah/Silwan neighborhood, the scene of<br />

frequent violent clashes between Arab and <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

residents. Due to concerns over violence, doors in<br />

the gates of the Ir David compound are locked and<br />

barred.<br />

Standing in the exhibition room, Marans demonstrated<br />

a system whereby one can have a locked door<br />

opened remotely by security guards, allowing one to<br />

enter a secure zone on Shabbos.<br />

According to Zomet:<br />

Electronic and magnetic systems are very<br />

common for use in locking doors in public places,<br />

such as entrances to cooperative housing, hospitals,<br />

and secure installations. Anybody who wants<br />

to enter these places must typically enter a number<br />

into a keypad to open the door, or alert a guard<br />

inside the installation by using a bell or an intercom.<br />

Sometimes it is possible to leave the installation<br />

using a one-way handle, but at many sites the<br />

only way to leave also requires operating a buzzer.<br />

In the past, we suggested that the way to operate<br />

such systems on Shabbos was to install a separate<br />

buzzer for Shabbos, operating on the technique of<br />

grama, indirect action. The problem with this solution<br />

is that it has various halachic problems. The<br />

only cases for which electrical devices using grama<br />

may be used on Shabbos are in situations of a large<br />

<br />

danger, or to avoid great suffering. A new technology<br />

that has been developed allows opening doors<br />

electronically without any problems. This is based<br />

mitted<br />

on Shabbos without any limitations.<br />

The change-sensor operates through the use of<br />

a capacitance-sensing device. Touching the cover<br />

<br />

properties and frequency of the sensor, because of<br />

the electronic properties of the human body. There<br />

is no need to open or close an electric circuit. The<br />

halachic approval for this action is based on the<br />

fact that the prohibition against using electricity<br />

on Shabbos involves opening or closing a circuit<br />

(in violation of boneh—construction—or molid—<br />

giving birth to something new). But modifying a<br />

property setting (current, voltage, frequency, or<br />

capacitance) of an existing current is permitted.<br />

The change-sensor applies a voltage to electrical<br />

devices connected to it. When the capacitance of<br />

the sensor changes, the change-sensor increases or<br />

decreases the voltage, depending on how long the<br />

hand maintains contact with the surface.<br />

This technique is suitable for exit doors that are<br />

operated through the use of a magnetic or electronic<br />

lock.<br />

Magnetic lock: A very strong electromagnet<br />

44 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

slowly, until a small push on the door will open it.<br />

No electric circuit is opened or closed. A few seconds<br />

after the hand is removed the current is decreased,<br />

once again reducing the pull of the magnet and locking<br />

the door.<br />

Ringing a bell: Sometimes a locked door is opened<br />

from the inside by a guard who must be alerted by<br />

ringing a bell or talking through an intercom. The<br />

button normally used to ring a bell will be replaced<br />

by a change-sensor. Putting a hand close to the<br />

sensor will cause the current to gradually increase in<br />

a buzzer or LED display, alerting the guard. In this<br />

technique, no electric circuit is opened or closed.<br />

When the hand is removed, the current gradually decreases<br />

and the buzz or the LED light at the guard’s<br />

station returns to its initial very weak state.<br />

keeps the door pressed tight to the doorpost,<br />

exerting a force of hundreds of kilograms. The<br />

button that is normally used to leave the installation<br />

is replaced by a change-sensor. When a hand<br />

comes close to the control box, the current passing<br />

through the electromagnet will be gradually reduced<br />

so that a light push on the door will open it.<br />

In this way, there is no electric circuit that is created<br />

or broken (and the pull of the magnet continues all<br />

the time). A few seconds after the hand is removed<br />

from the control box, the current is increased and<br />

the magnet returns to full strength.<br />

Electronic lock: The electronic locks have a built-<br />

<br />

the door remains locked. Pressing a switch closes a<br />

circuit and sends a current through the magnet, releasing<br />

the tongue of the lock. In this case, the usual<br />

button will be replaced by a change-sensor. Putting<br />

the hand near the control box or touching it causes<br />

the electric current in the electromagnet to increase<br />

Hospitals<br />

Aside from the security sphere, Machon Zomet’s<br />

<br />

Jerusalem’s Shaarei Zedek Medical Center near Bayit<br />

<br />

Marans, Rozen, and their team of frum engineers.<br />

One of the more interesting devices sold by the<br />

institute is the “Shab-et,” a pen used by many Israeli<br />

doctors. While writing is a biblical prohibition,<br />

temporary writing that fades after several days<br />

is only banned rabbinically. By making pens whose<br />

ink gradually disappears over the course of several<br />

days, Zomet has allowed doctors to keep records on<br />

Shabbos that can be transcribed or photocopied after<br />

Havdalah.<br />

Explains Zomet: “The Shab-et is in regular use in<br />

many hospitals, by security forces, and even in the<br />

<br />

if necessary). The use of a Shabbos pen is permitted<br />

only if the action is so essential that it takes precedence<br />

over the rabbinical prohibition of writing using<br />

temporary ink.”<br />

Another innovation introduced by Marans,<br />

Rozen, and team is the food cart grama plug. It is<br />

generally accepted that it is very important for patients<br />

to be served hot food. It is true that not all<br />

patients in a hospital are considered to be in mortal






danger, but a public institution cannot differentiate<br />

between one patient and another. Thus, as a<br />

general rule, all the patients should receive hot<br />

food. But how can this be done on Shabbos?<br />

“The solution is an automatic grama outlet,”<br />

<br />

<br />

standard one, so that it cannot be plugged into<br />

regular sockets. Most of the time the circuit in this<br />

special outlet is not live, both during the week<br />

and on Shabbos. The equipment (hidden in the<br />

wall) has an electrical mechanism that operates<br />

as follows:<br />

A digit is displayed on a wall panel, cycling<br />

through the numbers 0 to 9, with the value chang-<br />

<br />

instant that the number changes from 0 to 1, an internal<br />

electronic test is performed (with a duration<br />

of about 1 millisecond) to check whether something<br />

has been inserted into the plug (by measuring<br />

the resistance on the line). If the test shows that the<br />

outlet is “occupied” (by a plug for a food cart or<br />

for any other electrical device) the current will be<br />

turned on, and the food will be heated. The numbers<br />

on the panel continue to cycle, and the heating<br />

continues. That is, in each cycle the food is warmed<br />

for four and a half minutes and is not warmed for<br />

half a minute (while the 0 is shown on the panel).<br />

The heating cycle continues as long as the wire remains<br />

in the plug.<br />

The worker puts the plug into the socket and<br />

goes on to other tasks. When the number in the<br />

panel changes from 0 to 1, the mechanism “senses”<br />

the plug and connects the electric circuit for the<br />

next four and a half minutes, corresponding to the<br />

changing digits.<br />

A worker who observes Shabbos will be careful to<br />

disconnect the food cart from the socket only when<br />

the digit 0 is shown on the display (when the current<br />

is off). But even if the worker desecrates the<br />

Shabbos, the food is not forbidden to the patient,<br />

since it was heated in a permitted way. The fact that<br />

the current might have been turned off in a prohibited<br />

way does not have any effect on the food.<br />

A buzzer, used for calling nurses to one’s bedside,<br />

also operates on similar principles, Marans told me,<br />

handing me a buzzer to click while he explained the<br />

halachic implications and rationales underpinning<br />

his work.<br />

Commercial Applications<br />

Not everything that Zomet manufactures, however,<br />

is bedi’eved. One lechatchila gadget (Marans<br />

claims that thousands of units are sold annually.)<br />

is the Chagaz, a holiday gas timer sold in stores<br />

throughout Israel. The Chagaz is a “spring-operated<br />

mechanical timer” that is hooked into the<br />

gas line leading to the stove.<br />

<br />

a Yom Tov on which cooking is permitted, the<br />

device, approved both by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and<br />

<br />

a preset time.” Sold for less than 200 shekels, the<br />

Chagaz limits the dangers inherent in leaving<br />

<br />

period.<br />

Zomet also manufactures equipment for use in<br />

agriculture and industry. While milking a cow on<br />

Shabbos is absolutely prohibited, “in principle, it is<br />

permitted to ‘milk’ a substance that is not needed.<br />

<br />

from the stalk in order to keep the grain, milking is<br />

prohibited only if the person needs the substance<br />

that is removed (in this case, the milk). Milking in<br />

such a way that the milk will be discarded is not<br />

prohibited. Since not milking the cow will also<br />

cause it discomfort, this process is permitted if the<br />

milk will not be kept. “<br />

However, in a modern dairy farm it is not possible<br />

to actually throw away the milk. A farmer who<br />

discards 15 percent of all the milk (taking into account<br />

Shabbos and holidays throughout the year)<br />

<br />

great rabbis of the previous generation (Rabbi Isaac<br />

Halevy Herzog and the Chazon Ish) found a way to<br />

keep the milk while, from a halachic point of view,<br />

it is being “discarded.” The principle is that at the<br />

start of the process, the milk is sent to a tank with a<br />

substance that spoils it (such as soap or kerosene).<br />

<br />

<br />

clean tank.<br />

Implementing this solution (in addition to other<br />

halachic limitations that the rabbis insisted on)<br />

leads to various technical problems. For example,<br />

how can we be sure that the farmer will not forget<br />

to return the equipment in the direction of “spoil-<br />

46 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

ing” before starting to milk the next cow? How can we make<br />

sure that nothing will contaminate the pipes that lead to the<br />

“spoiled” milk container and ruin the entire system? Is there a<br />

<br />

farmer will not have to be involved with the inconvenience of<br />

valves, which may stick?<br />

The Zomet Institute uses pneumatic and vacuum systems for<br />

this purpose. Such systems are standard equipment in modern<br />

dairies, and their use makes it possible for all the work in a dairy<br />

to be carried out by Jews on Shabbos without any halachic problems.<br />

There are also a number of problems involving electronics and<br />

electrical systems in the modern dairy farm, and innovative solutions<br />

have also been found for them.<br />

Social Impact<br />

The impact of the Zomet revolution has been felt all over Israel,<br />

<br />

technology. From patients in Shaarei Zedek hospital who buzz<br />

for a nurse, to visitors to the Kotel passing through metal detectors<br />

made by the Machon, Israelis of all stripes have gained from<br />

Zomet’s work.<br />

Marans explained that by creating technologies that provide<br />

<br />

in kosher hotels without feeling that they have to heat the water<br />

themselves, a grave desecration of the Shabbos. The ability for<br />

secular Jews to keep Shabbos without feeling coerced is a big deal<br />

in an increasingly polarized Israeli society. Through the installation<br />

of Shabbos elevators in buildings throughout the country,<br />

Marans has helped prevent mass chillul Shabbos.<br />

Despite the success of the technology, however, the Machon<br />

will never be a cash cow. Due to limited manufacturing capac-<br />

<br />

rather than manufacturing their own. “We are not dealing with<br />

<br />

scale,” he explained.<br />

After thanking my host for a wonderful tour, I was ushered<br />

into Ravble<br />

determination hidden behind his affability, the Rabbi expressed<br />

his satisfaction in helping those in need.<br />

That, Zomet certainly has done.



Mesiras Nefesh for the<br />

Common Man<br />


It is said that each and every Yid<br />

possesses the innate quality of<br />

mesirat nefesh—the willingness to<br />

tion<br />

of Hashem’s Name, rather<br />

than commit idolatry. This always brings<br />

to mind Jews tied to the stake during the<br />

Inquisition, crazed Muslims with<br />

outstretched swords lopping off<br />

heads left and right, and images<br />

of the Nazi Holocaust.<br />

As a spoiled and pampered<br />

American, born and bred in the<br />

lap of relative luxury and raised<br />

on 1960s sitcoms, this has always<br />

been somewhat theoretical.<br />

(Thank G-d, and may it always<br />

remain so.) I personally have<br />

had very little experience with<br />

anyone demanding that I deny<br />

my <strong>Jewish</strong>ness.<br />

However, I was recently<br />

reminded of a true story I heard<br />

years ago, which illustrates that<br />

the pintele Yid exists in every<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> heart, even those that<br />

outwardly seem to be assimilated. It was<br />

related to me by a public school teacher,<br />

who had taught English for many years in<br />

a junior high school in Brooklyn. Decades<br />

of teaching Shakespeare, Dickens, and<br />

Chaucer had created in this man a strong<br />

desire to visit England, the birthplace of<br />

all the literature he had taught. And so,<br />

he and his wife booked a trip to England,<br />

which included various historical places of<br />

interest. It was the culmination of a lifelong<br />

dream.<br />

One stop on their itinerary was a dinner<br />

theater, which featured waiters and waitresses<br />

in Elizabethan garb. The patrons<br />

ate dinner at their tables in the audience,<br />

while watching reenactments of Shakespearean<br />

themes on the stage at the front<br />

of the theater.<br />

There they sat, Mr. and Mrs. American<br />

tourist, enjoying their meal and watching<br />

the festivities. Then, all of a sudden,<br />

it was announced—with much fanfare<br />

and blowing of medieval trumpets—that<br />

“Queen Elizabeth” herself was about to<br />

knight a member of the audience! Onto<br />

the stage marched an actress, dressed up<br />

to look like the Queen of Elizabethan<br />

times. Scanning the audience, who should<br />

her “guards” choose, for the distinct honor<br />

of being knighted, but our friend. Leading<br />

him toward the stage, they danced and<br />

sang and gave honor to this individual,<br />

who was about to undergo the special ceremony<br />

required to become a knight.<br />

Bashfully standing on the stage in front<br />

of hundreds of people, the man was asked<br />

his name (an obviously <strong>Jewish</strong>-sounding<br />

one) by the Queen, so that he<br />

could become “Sir” so-and-so.<br />

Then, yielding her royal sword,<br />

the Queen made a demand as a<br />

prerequisite for being knighted:<br />

“Kneel!” she bellowed at him.<br />

There he was on stage, with<br />

all these people looking at him,<br />

and a little bell went off in his<br />

head. As he told me later, “I<br />

remembered suddenly that a<br />

Jew isn’t supposed to bow down<br />

to anyone except G-d.” He<br />

just stood there in front of the<br />

Queen, not moving. “Kneel!”<br />

she said again in an even louder<br />

voice, thinking that perhaps<br />

he hadn’t heard her. There was<br />

silence in the entire theater as<br />

the bareheaded but obviously <strong>Jewish</strong> man<br />

did not respond. Slowly, he shook his head<br />

no. Having no other choice, the Queen<br />

then knighted him with her sword, while<br />

he stood. “Maybe she thought I had arthritis<br />

or something,” the man told me later,<br />

marveling at his own audacity.<br />

The Alter Rebbe taught that “A Jew neither<br />

desires, nor is capable of being separated<br />

(G-d forbid) from G-dliness.” One<br />

<br />

intrinsic worth. <br />

41 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

y John Loftus<br />

Removing the Syri<br />

from the<br />

Iranian W<br />

42 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

Arab League in session<br />

Will Syria sink, survive,<br />

or launch<br />

a sneak attack on<br />

Israel?<br />

an Brick<br />

all<br />

I<br />

never thought I would see the day when the<br />

Arab League would condemn another Arab<br />

nation. Usually they can only agree on con-<br />

<br />

Hussein received so much as a verbal reprimand<br />

for slaughtering their fellow Arabs. In<br />

November 2011, the unthinkable happened.<br />

The Arab League, by a vote of 19–3, man-<br />

-<br />

<br />

nations that voted against the embargo were Iraq and Lebanon.<br />

A no vote makes sense for those two countries. For many years<br />

Lebanese trade has been intertwined with its dominant neighbor.<br />

The only international telephone landline out of Lebanon runs<br />

<br />

lies<br />

depend upon remittances from relatives in Lebanon, which,<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

into chaos from an embargo. The real problem for the sanctions<br />

<br />

his American detractors, is a thug in clerical dress. Mookie pre-<br />

<br />

political terrorism.<br />

<br />

Iraq by forming an alliance with Iran, the number one killer of<br />

<br />

<br />

terpretation<br />

that would unseat the Ayatollah. The Ayatollah hates<br />

<br />

does Mookie.<br />

Under orders from his bosses in Iran, Mookie says sanc-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

off a throw-away vote on something as meaningless as the Arab<br />

<br />

<br />

took a unanimous vote before the Arab League acted, which<br />

rendered it a toothless body. The Assads whined that imposing<br />

sanctions with a less than unanimous vote of 19-3 was a violation<br />

of democratic principles. You have to laugh at the notion of<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 43

y John Loftus<br />

Bashar Assad, the<br />

current dictator,<br />

has only killed 4,000<br />

of his people so<br />

far after months of<br />

struggle to put down<br />

the revolution. His<br />

father killed 4,000 an<br />

hour in Hama. Never<br />

underestimate the<br />

killing capacity of an<br />

Assad.<br />

the Assad family standing up for anything to do with democracy.<br />

But then, it was also pretty laughable for the Arab League to say<br />

<br />

you could gag a maggot. Nothing but Israel ever disgusted the<br />

<br />

Mongol invasion, and he was never sanctioned this way.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Union and foisted upon Arab populations at gunpoint.<br />

<br />

a communist puppet state. The Assads came to power because<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

against the King and his Hashemite dynasty.<br />

The sneaky old King quickly changed sides and made a deal<br />

with Israel, and the Israeli Defense Forces promptly booted the<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

The King of Jordan and the Israelis still get along pretty well.<br />

In fact, an emergency escape plan was drawn up for the King.<br />

In any future uprising, he and his family would head south to<br />

<br />

ponies. Every once in a while, one of his horses gets lose and<br />

wanders down the beach to the Israeli resort city of Eilat. There<br />

is no barrier. If the King is ever attacked, he and his family will<br />

just follow the horses to the Israeli end of the beach. When the<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

your back.<br />

-<br />

<br />

-<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

gas worked.<br />

<br />

in Hama with Russian-made chemical weapons. The revolt was<br />

suppressed with savage force. The Hama massacre was, Arab historians<br />

say, the single largest event of mass murder in the entire<br />

<br />

the willingness of the Assad family to use any means necessary,<br />

no matter how sickening, to stay in power. Brutality is an Assad<br />

family tradition. It will take more than economic sanctions to get<br />

them out.<br />

Bashar Assad, the current dictator, has only killed 4,000 of his<br />

people so far after months of struggle to put down the revolution.<br />

His father killed 4,000 an hour in Hama. Never underestimate<br />

the killing capacity of an Assad.<br />

Just because the current dictator holds a medical degree<br />

and studied ophthalmology in London does not mean that the<br />

younger Assad is any more merciful than his father. Bashar has<br />

<br />

justice or traditions of humanity. Evidently, the only thing that<br />

<br />

Many uneducated analysts repeat the conventional wisdom that<br />

the Assad family is supported by the Alawite religious minority as<br />

the base of its power. The Alawites are at most nine percent of the<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Assad family. Their base of power comes not from their coreli-<br />

44 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

division, and population area, and all are ready to suppress the<br />

counterrevolution. The Assads worship security as if it were a re-<br />

<br />

vengeance against those who want them gone.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

human rights, cruising Europe in search of a Western sucker to<br />

back his play to become the new dictator.<br />

Bashar Assad was never supposed to be dictator. His older<br />

brother was heir to the post, but he passed away. Bashar was<br />

quickly sheep-dipped into military uniform and taught the rudiments<br />

of counterrevolutionary suppression. His peculiar fascination<br />

with electronic toys has earned him the nickname<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

smart enough to have earned a medical degree on his own. He<br />

may be the most intelligent, the most cunning Assad ever, and<br />

that should give us pause. The Assad family, indeed their entire<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

rich charging a transit fee to the smaller drug lords. Even the<br />

<br />

matic<br />

credentials. He embarrassed the family by dropping his<br />

suitcase, which split open to reveal a very large quantity of very<br />

undiplomatic narcotics. The bemused border guards helped him<br />

sweep up the powder and sent him on his way.<br />

When the Assads are not selling drugs, they are selling guns.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

a massive dossier on him.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Before my Republican friends jump on me for defaming Ronald<br />

<br />

bank account showed that a one million dollar check was in fact<br />

<br />

<br />

istration<br />

has decided that gun runners should not be protected.<br />

<br />

<br />

American prison, awaiting trial. That should be fun.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

several French politicians on their payroll as well. It would be<br />

curious if the French were to oppose economic sanctions against<br />

<br />

to be an interesting year.<br />

<br />

a great deal of credit for keeping the spotlight on the Hariri as-<br />

<br />

billionaire who rebuilt much of war-torn Beirut out of his own<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

lah<br />

terrorists to assassinate Hariri with a truck bomb. A few moments<br />

after the bomb went off, Western intelligence recorded a<br />

<br />

<br />

The Assad clan has a lot of blood on their hands, but the worst<br />

ment<br />

to the press, that if the Assad regime is taken down, they<br />

<br />

<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 45

y John Loftus<br />

<br />

innocent of any attack on the Assads, and has offered to return<br />

<br />

<br />

unprovoked missile attack on Israel no matter who is behind the<br />

movement to overthrow the Assads.<br />

rising<br />

over a little boy who was tortured to death with burning<br />

<br />

the Assads and paid for it with his life. His parents circulated<br />

<br />

those photos that launched the uprising, not Israel.<br />

Apparently, the Assads believe that it is the Americans who are<br />

behind the revolution, and the best way to force the Americans to<br />

quit would be to threaten a mini-genocide of Jews in Israel. There<br />

<br />

funding of the Freedom House campaign from 2005 to 2010 that<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

point the Bush administration even asked Israel if they would<br />

<br />

<br />

Assad family in power. Now, Israel has reversed its position and<br />

<br />

It is too late.<br />

There was a time when it would have been easy to take down<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

army: nineteen to stop laughing, and one to blow them away.<br />

<br />

<br />

the attack was called off. It was one of the worst decisions made<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

develop a capability for nuclear weapons.<br />

<br />

built reactor and plutonium processing factory. But Israel will be<br />

<br />

Iran) have located the rest of their nuclear processing facilities.<br />

Israel simply does not know where to drop the bunker-busting<br />

<br />

The truth is that the<br />

current Syrian revolt<br />

is a spontaneous<br />

uprising over a<br />

little boy who was<br />

tortured to death by<br />

the Assads’ regime.<br />

46 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

population centers of Israel.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

within a three-foot circle hundreds of kilometers<br />

away. They can hit what they aim<br />

for, and kill what they hit. Imagine missile<br />

<br />

<br />

knew to aim his suicide planes towards<br />

the top of the towers. The weight of a few<br />

<br />

structure.<br />

If the Assads order a missile launch<br />

while they are on their way to sanctuary in<br />

<br />

there be for Israel to retaliate against in-<br />

<br />

<br />

has nuclear weapons, but if the enemy<br />

<br />

the country, what point would there be to<br />

<br />

The Israeli nuclear response was<br />

<br />

pened<br />

in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Israel<br />

developed the neutron bomb and tested it<br />

<br />

<br />

invisible radiation. The tanks, crops, and<br />

<br />

<br />

are no longer of any strategic value. The<br />

neutron bomb means there will never be<br />

another tank invasion of Israel.<br />

<br />

<br />

with a massive missile strike. Iron Dome<br />

will look more like a sieve than shield<br />

<br />

<br />

hundred missiles in its arsenal. If it looks<br />

like the Assads will really launch a doomsday<br />

missile strike, Israel may have no<br />

better option than a preemptive strike to

48 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772


GRAVE<br />


Rav Elyakim Schlesinger’s work to save<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> graves involves halacha, politics…<br />

and a great deal of emotion.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 49

“Ich farshtay dos nisht<br />

Harav Elyakim Schlesinger, shlita, of London is<br />

world-renowned for his deep comprehension of the<br />

able<br />

rosh yeshiva, a beloved talmid<br />

sefarim<br />

that examine and dissect the depths of Torah,<br />

<br />

his rebbi<br />

<br />

What Rav Schlesinger was referring to, as he re-<br />

<br />

Rav Shmuel, was the lack of emotion he feels from<br />

the <strong>Jewish</strong> community at large about the subject that,<br />

along with his teaching and learning, he’s made an<br />

integral part of his life’s work: the rescue of <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

<br />

on an urgent matter involving kevarim in Poland, he<br />

spoke with us about the challenges of saving our an-<br />

<br />


The buried dead of much of Europe were separated from their<br />

living descendants in the twentieth century by the mass murder,<br />

transport, and expulsion of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis, which<br />

uprooted communities across the continent and the invisible but<br />

iron curtain that fell over Eastern Europe, as countries came into<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

communism in the late 1980s meant that these <strong>Jewish</strong> sites were<br />

<br />

The communist years were not kind to <strong>Jewish</strong> cemeteries, with<br />

many that had survived the Nazi onslaught succumbing to the<br />

<br />

The subject of saving kevarim is one that Rav Schlesinger has<br />

<br />

ago, in the wake of the collapse of communism, he founded the<br />

Committee (or Vaad) for the Preservation of <strong>Jewish</strong> Cemeteries in<br />

batei chaim across<br />

<br />

Ami’s editor in chief, Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, and I met Rav<br />

Schlesinger during a recent meeting in Kensington, New York,<br />

about kevarimsimcha<br />

<br />

the meeting with him were several askanim from Rav Schlesinger’s<br />

Committee and the New York-based organization Admas Kodesh,<br />

<br />

Rav Schlesinger (back to camera) presides over the meeting regarding<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> cemeteries in Poland<br />

Committee and also a board member of the Foundation for the<br />

<br />

Rav Schlesinger headed the meeting, listening as others spoke,<br />

but interjecting frequently with pointed comments, intermittently<br />

-<br />

<br />

was the resistance his committee was ostensibly encountering, in<br />

preserving <strong>Jewish</strong> cemeteries in Poland, from the very organization<br />

that was established to help this cause: Fundacja Ochrony Dziedzictwa<br />

Zydowskiego (Foundation for the Preservation of <strong>Jewish</strong> Heri-<br />

<br />

<br />

with Rav Schlesinger alone, about his approach to saving kevarim<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

What inspired him to get involved in saving kevarim, he says,<br />

are statements about this subject he had heard from his rebbi, the<br />

<br />

resemblance he has to his renowned rebbi.)<br />

shiva<br />

should go out [of yeshiva] for, was to save kevarim,” Rav<br />

askanus -<br />

50 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

cumstances! The tears that he shed over the desecration of the<br />

<br />

kevarim-<br />

<br />

<br />

It is amazing that an active rosh yeshiva, who heads a kollel in<br />

his Yeshivas HaRama, together with his famed son, Rav Eliezer<br />

Schlesinger, and gives shiurim several times a week, has the time<br />

and ability to manage an effort that spans a continent and in-<br />

<br />

“I come home from yeshiva at two o’clock after mincha<br />

<br />

<br />

There is a vaad of rabbonim for the Committee that pasken on<br />

vaad consists of Rav Schlesinger; Rav<br />

dayan of London;<br />

<br />

son-in-law; and Rav Lev, the dayan <br />

posek shailos is Rav Shmuel Wosner, shlita,<br />

<br />

He does not travel to the kevarim himself anymore; journeying<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

kevarim, as activists and<br />

<br />


The Foundation for the Preservation of <strong>Jewish</strong> Heritage in<br />

Poland, the organization that oversees many of the cemeteries<br />

and other <strong>Jewish</strong> sites in Poland, was set up in 2000 by the Union<br />

of <strong>Jewish</strong> Communities in Poland and the World <strong>Jewish</strong> Restitu-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Foundation is carried out under the auspices of Rav Schlesinger’s<br />

Vaad<br />

Poland ostensibly has very strong legal protections for cemeteries,<br />

with a requirement to immediately report to the Chief<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

the legal property of the state during the years of communism,<br />

and the titles for the properties, as well as records showing them<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

projects, in Szczebrzeszyn (Shebreshin in Yiddish), Myslenice,<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

often are misconceptions that people who are not on the ground<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

She said that she feels that some of the problems that people<br />

Spanish Ambassador Fernando Villalonga visits Satmar Rebbe.<br />

The Rebbe viewing a painting he received from the ambassador.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 51




have with the Foundation have not been conveyed to her, and<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Hertz Frankel, who writes the “The Principal” column for<br />

Ami, told me that he has been working to preserve the bais<br />

hakvaros<br />

of the bais hakvaros was covered by a housing project, part was<br />

covered by a school for developmentally delayed children, and<br />

<br />

<br />

“Each cemetery in Poland takes a struggle to get repaired, to<br />

<br />

I’m talking about cases where the <strong>Jewish</strong> community was ready<br />

<br />

<br />

“I consider Kalisch to be an acid test about the state of preserva-<br />

<br />

60 percent of the town, before the war, was <strong>Jewish</strong>; it was a well-<br />

<br />

“We didn’t ask for the preservation of the part under the hous-<br />

-<br />

<br />

of the experts in the history of this cemetery claimed that the<br />

gedolei Yisrael<br />

<br />

was always a city of gedolei Yisrael<br />

it, kids are dancing on it, playing football, and people are jogging<br />

<br />

Ohel of Rav Chaim of Brisk and the Netziv in Warsaw<br />

lisch<br />

three times with committees; I went to Warsaw<br />

<br />

sentative<br />

of the federal Polish government, as well as<br />

<br />

<br />

Rabbi Frankel sees bureaucratic wrangling and<br />

<br />

<br />

He told us in no uncertain terms that the school is<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

“The Chief Rabbi was involved, the Vaad from<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

was particularly touchy, because Polish public opinion<br />

saw it as the Jews trying to kick out special needs<br />

<br />

<br />

She agreed that anti-Semitism is a factor in many<br />

cases, but she said that there is a cultural divide, as<br />

well; non-<strong>Jewish</strong> cemeteries are not expected to be<br />

<br />

Polish laws, non-<strong>Jewish</strong> gravesites can be moved after<br />

<br />

projects to convince the public of the importance of<br />

<br />

Rabbi Frankel says that Poland must do something about its<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> cemeteries, simply to make up for the destruction that<br />

<br />

ies<br />

and synagogues as a memorial to those thousand years!”<br />


The ease of saving the graves varies from country to country,<br />

dependent on the political and economic situation in each country,<br />

the legal protections that exist for cemeteries, and various his-<br />

<br />

Poland has strong laws, but the cemeteries are often no longer<br />

<br />

In Romania, on the other hand, the original ownership of the<br />

52 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

a lower level of protection for cemeteries, is why <strong>Jewish</strong> cemeter-<br />

<br />

and the well-developed expertise of the Committee is needed to<br />

<br />

Rav Schlesinger gave us a quick rundown on the ability to protect<br />

batei chaim<br />

<br />

<br />

bais hakvaros;<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

“For example, in Metz [located in France], we have worked<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

with a questionable <strong>Jewish</strong> background bought the<br />

<br />

<br />

rasha mirusha<br />

<br />

protesting, he can’t carry on, but the head of police<br />

said that he can’t allow a demonstration against the<br />

<br />

said that he could offer a second place for the project,<br />

<br />

“There is no cemetery with as many gedolei Yisrael as<br />

<br />

There are no gravestones left in Metz; they were all<br />

<br />

<br />

The case in Metz is the only one in which Rav<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

case, about the old Sephardic bais hachaim, which is<br />

gedolai olam<br />

Forty years ago, the Sephardic kehilla sold the cem-<br />

<br />

<br />

There had been 7,700 graves there, and most were al-<br />

<br />

<br />

-<br />

ehrliche rabbonim there,<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

there were kevarim<br />

<br />

make a bridge over the kevarim<br />

<br />

He showed us a map of a bais hakvaros<br />

-<br />

<br />

The owners were willing to take an exchange of another piece of<br />

<br />


<br />

years is that of kivrei achim<br />

“There was a psak from the rabbonim that we didn’t need to<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

revealed, and threats from development have sprung up almost<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 53

To his left is Rabbi Shmidel of Asra Kadisha.<br />

<br />

“There are bones that are exposed at the mass graves all the<br />

<br />

There are sometimes legal differences between mass graves and<br />

<br />

pass to the <strong>Jewish</strong> community, mass graves are to be overseen by<br />

<br />


<br />

to 1,400 known batei chaim<br />

<br />

Romanian batei chaim are under the control of the Committee; it<br />

is a fearsome responsibility, the Rosh Yeshiva<br />

Saving kevarim requires an ability to wade through bureaucracy<br />

-<br />

-<br />

<br />

In some countries, there are <strong>Jewish</strong> organizations that are of-<br />

<br />

there is the Foundation for the Preservation of <strong>Jewish</strong> Heritage in<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> kehillas that are involved with a cemetery; the kehilla may<br />

<br />

There are other international <strong>Jewish</strong> organizations to deal with,<br />

vation<br />

of <strong>Jewish</strong> Heritage in Poland partially comes from the Joint<br />

<br />

frum organization that has contributed greatly to the<br />

upkeep of cemeteries in Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia,<br />

Western Ukraine, and some parts of Poland is Avoyseinu<br />

<br />

Avoyseinu <br />

those buried in a threatened cemetery to make investments in<br />

its restoration and preservation, often working together with<br />

<br />

or other interested parties to step in, Avoyseinu does not get in-<br />

<br />

<br />

The United States is important in cemetery preservation activi-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

it is possible to approach individual members of Congress, who<br />

<br />

The Satmar organization Admas Kodesh serves as a representa-<br />

<br />

<br />

Admas Kodesh, was in the case of the ancient <strong>Jewish</strong> cemetery in<br />

<br />

of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the cemetery was threatened by<br />

Askanim from Admas Kodesh developed a relationship<br />

with the Spanish ambassador to the United States; he even<br />

<br />

Kiryas Joel, and attended a chasuna<br />

54 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772





help was instrumental in the effort to save<br />

<br />

<br />

Admas Kodesh pointed out that Rav<br />

Schlesinger, along with their organization,<br />

understands how to deal with for-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

The Rosh Yeshiva expressed his respect<br />

for the help he has received from his chas-<br />

<br />

“They have a feeling for it,” the Rosh<br />

Yeshiva said about the Satmar yungeleit<br />

believe <strong>Jewish</strong> people hailing from Hun-<br />

<br />

<br />


Rav Schlesinger has a very practical view<br />

on his efforts, which he summed up in a<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Gershon Schlesinger of Admas Kodesh<br />

If it is an issur<br />

To save kevarim, askanim must travel<br />

tion<br />

and other costs can eat into a small<br />

<br />

He told us that the week we met, one<br />

askan alone had traveled to the Ukraine,<br />

Romania, and Spain, the sort of itiner-<br />

<br />

Even when the askanim receive money for<br />

their work, Rav Schlesinger says that their<br />

acts are clearly and obviously done l’shem<br />

shamayim<br />

“Sometimes there are community institutions<br />

that a person doesn’t necessar-<br />

<br />

is obligatory for all of Klal Yisrael<br />

-<br />

<br />

every single Jew! It is your zeides just like<br />

it is my zeides, and it is your rebbeim<br />

“Much of the funding come from<br />

<br />

amount that comes from Kiryas Yoel,<br />

where the Rosh Yeshiva has gotten<br />

<br />

male follower of the Satmar<br />

Rebbe has to contribute at least<br />

kofer nefesh<br />

erev<br />

“The velt has to understand<br />

that, I don’t understand what the<br />

reason for the gezeira is, but that<br />

this is a gezeira [decree], and it is<br />

incumbent on this generation to<br />

<br />

cheshbonos <br />

work for those are yishainai afar<br />

[sleepers in the dust], they will<br />

work for us in shamayim<br />

derstand<br />

that this is a Klal Yis-

Rav Schlesinger<br />

speaks to<br />

Herbert Block<br />

rael<br />

<br />

did you do for me?’ The<br />

zeides will come and say,<br />

<br />

mandel]<br />

writes that when he<br />

was working [to save Jews]<br />

in Hungary, someone told<br />

him that they should work to save the bais hachaim<br />

<br />

Halevai [if only] I would have worked for them [the<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

should we work for the yisheinai afar? Let’s work for the living!’<br />

<br />

S’iz tut eich nisht vei. For ven tut vei, shreit men<br />

<br />

“He also held that it says in sefarim that this is a sakana for Klal<br />

Yisrael<br />

<br />

Rav Schlesinger told us that the Steipler was once approached<br />

<br />

written in earlier years, in which it said that disinterring graves<br />

causes danger to Klal Yisrael-<br />

-<br />

<br />

called them back: “I have a source: the Rav writes it!”<br />


In Vilna, there was supposed to be an international business<br />

center, serving all of Europe, built on the bais hachaim<br />


<br />

mittee<br />

was still able to save<br />


the cemetery from destruc-<br />


<br />

Rav Schlesinger told us an<br />

amazing story that went on<br />

when he was trying to save<br />

the Vilna bais hakvaros<br />

had been trying to meet the president of the European Parliament<br />

<br />

In Posen the very large bais hakvaros had been mostly covered<br />

<br />

<br />

Eventually the Vaad was able to get the entire courtyard converted<br />

back into a bais hakvaros<br />

Using old photos and other sources, the Vaad researched which<br />

kevarim<br />

“In that bais hakvaros<br />

-<br />

<br />

Rav Schlesinger was visiting the bais hakvaros in Posen as the<br />

ceived<br />

notice that the president of the European Parliament was<br />

coming to Posen and had heard that Rav Schlesinger was there as<br />

<br />

<br />

They met, with the president arriving with his full entourage,<br />

and they discussed the Vilna bais hakvaros<br />

very interested in helping, and in fact, his help ended up securing<br />

the preservation of the bais hakvaros <br />

“I asked him, at our meeting, why he was coming to Posen, and<br />

<br />

56 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

Rav Schlesinger found the meeting fortuitous, and he wondered<br />

whether some zechus connected to his work on the bais<br />

hachaim in Posen had helped him gain an advantage in saving the<br />

bais hachaim<br />

When he returned home from the trip, he found the sefer Igros<br />

Sofrim<br />

Sofer, and their descendants, open on a shtender<br />

looked at the page to which the sefer was open, and noticed that<br />

it was the ksav rabbanus that the town of Vilna had sent to Rav<br />

<br />

their rav, but because he was weak he never was able to actually<br />

<br />

<br />

grave, and then he had received the divine assistance, no doubt in<br />

the zechus<br />

<br />

“We see oisois and moifsim<br />

Rav Schlesinger’s work on the kevarim is accompanied by a feeling<br />

of awe at the gedolim<br />

that he entered Rav Chaim Soloveitchik’s ohel in Warsaw, and Rav<br />

<br />

<br />

Rav Schlesinger told us that he was scared to go to the Vilna<br />

kever in Vilna, remembering the fear he felt at Rav Chaim’s<br />

ohel<br />

The Rosh Yeshiva said that those involved with the holy work<br />

<br />

Al minas shelo l’kabel schar—on condition<br />

not to get reward’? It means that we forget the world when we do<br />

<br />

<br />

That thought is what probably keeps this esteemed rosh yeshiva<br />

Schlesinger walked us to the front door, and as he bid us farewell<br />

he said, with a gentle smile: “You should know that I’m no longer<br />

<br />

<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 57

Moshe L. Lax<br />

We discussed in the last few articles how halacha and science point<br />

ness<br />

and simcha.<br />

David Linden, professor of neuroscience at Johns<br />

Hopkins University School of Medicine, explores<br />

in his book, The Compass of Pleasure, how the brain<br />

creates the experience of pleasure, joy, and desire,<br />

as well as the basis of craving, addiction, and satisfaction.<br />

Many people have heard that the neurotransmitter, dopamine,<br />

controls the brain’s “pleasure” signal, but it’s more complicated<br />

than that. What does it really do?<br />

It has a dual role. For example, if you<br />

have a person in a brain scanner who is<br />

hungry, and you show him a picture of<br />

food that he enjoys, you will see dopamine<br />

release in part of the pleasure circuit,<br />

a part called the striatum. If he actually<br />

gets a chance to eat that food or any other<br />

food that he enjoys while in the scanner,<br />

you will also see release of dopamine.<br />

Dopamine actually is what underlies the<br />

feeling of pleasure. We know that if you<br />

ask people to report on how much pleasure they’re getting from<br />

eating or other pleasurable experiences, their response matches<br />

the level of their dopamine response.<br />

The role of dopamine is tied up with both liking and wanting,<br />

and it’s probably even tied up with something more general,<br />

called salience. (Salience is when an object is set apart from its<br />

surroundings.) Part of what dopamine seems to do is to say, Here’s<br />

something going on that is emotionally relevant and likely important<br />

for continued survival or successful procreation, so wake up and pay<br />

attention.<br />

There are some studies in which some dopamine-producing<br />

cells in the brain are activated by both painful and pleasurable<br />

stimulation. How can that be? Both pain and pleasure are salient.<br />

They say, Hey, this is important!<br />

Dovid Hamelech says [Tehillim 145:16]: “You [G-d] open your<br />

hand, and satiate the desire and wants of every living thing.”<br />

The use of the word “satiate “—masbia—in relation to the word<br />

“wants”—ratzon—indicates that the fact of feeling satiated is tied<br />

to wants, a thought in our minds, rather than just to physical<br />

hunger.<br />

Professor Linden speculates that this may account for the fact<br />

The Emotional Mind<br />

What a Pleasure!<br />


that some people take pleasure in pain.<br />

One has to wonder about foods like chili peppers. Many people<br />

enjoy them, though they are a little painful. Why? Linden says<br />

his suspicion is that chili peppers engage the brain systems that<br />

say, Hey, this is important, and that aspect adds to the pleasure of<br />

eating spicy food.<br />

Some researchers also theorize that dopamine is not so much<br />

about actual pleasure but about the expectation or prediction of<br />

pleasure.<br />

Indeed, the most intense excitement among researchers is over<br />

the role of dopamine within the limbic system, a brain region<br />

that helps regulate emotions. Basically, dopamine brightens and<br />

highlights our connections with the world<br />

around us, says David Goldman, Ph.D., a<br />

neuroscientist with the National Institute<br />

of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “It’s<br />

essential for associating something that<br />

happens with the feeling of pleasure.”<br />

What makes pleasure so compelling is<br />

that, through the interconnection of the<br />

pleasure circuit with other brain regions,<br />

we adorn it with memory; with associations<br />

and emotions and social meaning;<br />

and with sights, sounds, and smells.<br />

For that reason, our past experience of a certain taste, sound, or<br />

smell plays a tremendous role in shaping our like or distaste for it.<br />

It’s the past emotion which we experienced, that creates and<br />

ence.<br />

We sometimes hear people say, “I can’t eat this food. It smells<br />

like hospital food,” or, “It tastes like medicine.” What that means<br />

is that the negative emotions associated with hospitals and illness<br />

can impact your taste and smell, creating a negative sensation.<br />

Shlomo Hamelech says in Mishlei (15:30): “The light of the<br />

eyes rejoices the heart; and a good report makes the bones fat.”<br />

These words could possibly indicate the close connection of<br />

visual and aural memories to the pleasure and happiness of any<br />

experience.<br />

For me, this raises an old memory of the principal at my elementary<br />

school telling the parent body how important and<br />

powerful is the smell of fresh challah, baked by a <strong>Jewish</strong> mother<br />

before Shabbos, to the growth of her child. <br />

Moshe L. Lax is co-author of Memory and Self-knowledge in Young<br />

Adults with ADHD.<br />

66 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

Esther Blumenfeld . Tel: 718.387.3896<br />

Fax: 718.599.4654 . Email: ebantique@aol.com<br />

Unique selection at affordable prices

Mum’s the Word<br />


In January of 1973 a young political<br />

philosophy professor at the University<br />

of Toronto named George Will<br />

began to write for National Review<br />

magazine. While he would eventually go<br />

on to win a Pulitzer Prize, and to become<br />

a staple of American intellectual punditry,<br />

he was then having trouble coming<br />

up with new columns week after week.<br />

He approached the magazine’s founder,<br />

legendary writer and father of modern<br />

conservatism, William F. Buckley. “I asked<br />

Bill Buckley what I now know is the question<br />

most frequently asked of a columnist:<br />

‘How do you come up with things to write<br />

about?’ Bill’s answer was: ‘The world<br />

irritates me three times a week, and sometimes<br />

a little more often. I don’t have any<br />

problem coming up with ideas’.”<br />

Several weeks ago, fellow contributor<br />

to Ami, Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky,<br />

bemoaned the difficulty inherent in<br />

coming up with a relatively lengthy<br />

weekly column.<br />

While this is a common concern, and<br />

one that I share, it somehow works itself<br />

out for him, for me, and for others, with<br />

the result that thousands of magazines are<br />

published every week around the globe,<br />

with tens of thousands of writers composing<br />

new and hopefully informative and<br />

interesting content.<br />

Writing a column on the rabbinate<br />

sometimes brings with it a related but<br />

somewhat reverse concern. Rabbis, like<br />

dentiality,<br />

and may even be sued should<br />

they breach that trust, according to New<br />

York State law C.P.L.R. Section 4505—“A<br />

clergyman… shall not be allowed to dis-<br />

<br />

him”. For this reason, the most fascinating<br />

experiences I have been fortunate enough<br />

to have been involved in cannot be disclosed<br />

in these pages. In addition, the<br />

more interesting shailos, political quandaries,<br />

and counseling issues must never be<br />

even alluded to, lest the people involved<br />

become revealed. Soon after I began to<br />

write this weekly column, some friends<br />

approached me to share their concern<br />

that I might easily reveal too much. Some<br />

have even been hesitant to share sensitive<br />

matters with me. Of course, while<br />

an understandable concern, it has been<br />

shown to be unfounded, as I would never<br />

disclose sensitive matters.<br />

In fact, rabbis learn, early on, how to<br />

keep secrets, even if it harms them. Allow<br />

me to give an example: One weekday<br />

morning there was an avel in shul. This<br />

person was from Eretz Yisrael and had<br />

come to Buffalo to bury his father. Because<br />

there was no minyan in his mother’s<br />

house, he was planning on davening with<br />

<br />

So the natural question was, Do we say<br />

tachanun? In other words does a shul take<br />

on the status of a bais avel (shiva-house) in<br />

which tachanun is omitted, or do we view<br />

it as a bais haknesses, that an avel is simply<br />

visiting? What is more, many people did<br />

not even know that this guest was in the<br />

middle of shiva, as he was not acting as the<br />

shliach tzibbur, and the tear in his clothing<br />

went unnoticed.<br />

To be sure, this question is discussed<br />

in the classic sources (e.g. Mishnah Berura<br />

130:20). Generally, a shul will not take on<br />

68 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772


the status of a bais avel and tachanun would<br />

therefore be recited. But this halacha is not<br />

cut and dry, and certain facts can entirely<br />

cumstances<br />

in which a shul would have<br />

a quasi-status of a bais avel, and tachanun<br />

would then not be said.<br />

Because of particular information that<br />

I could not reveal to my balebatim, gabbaim,<br />

and undoubtedly not in these pages,<br />

I decided that tachanun should not be said.<br />

This was based on certain facts, as well as<br />

a precedent set by Reb Shlomo Zalman<br />

Auerbach. (See, for example, Ishei Yisrael,<br />

page 266, footnotes 75-77 for a comparable<br />

ruling).<br />

So when I instructed the gabbai not<br />

to say tachanun he had no choice but to<br />

follow, although he did not even know<br />

that an avel was in shul. One guest came<br />

over to me and asked the reason behind<br />

my ruling. I explained to him that there<br />

was an avel davening with us. “So what?<br />

The Mishnah Berura says....” I tried to stop<br />

him short by quoting the very same Mishnah<br />

Berura, hopeful that informing him of<br />

my knowledge in this area would cultivate<br />

some trust and calm him down. This,<br />

however, did not work, and the man made<br />

a point of putting down his head for tachanun<br />

right in front of me.<br />

Rabbi Yisroel Reisman is quoted as<br />

having once remarked, “A non-Jew will<br />

never know the thrill of not having to say<br />

tachanun on a Monday or a Thursday.”<br />

Apparently, this man never got that memo.<br />

Now, I do not completely fault this individual;<br />

he did not know me, and based on<br />

the information he was given, in his mind<br />

I had made a huge blunder. While it would<br />

have been liberating to simply explain the<br />

facts not known to him, I could not do<br />

that, and I momentarily looked like a fool.<br />

More stressful than the above example<br />

is the fact that I cannot reveal things to<br />

my wife.<br />

There is a married member in my shul<br />

who is, remotely, through Yeshiva University,<br />

working on attaining his semicha. One<br />

part of the Y.U. semicha process is a wonderful<br />

shimush program. So, using me as<br />

his “mentor,” he is allowed to sit in during<br />

meetings and counseling sessions if the relevant<br />

parties consent. (As an aside: What a<br />

wonderful image of achdus (unity) to have<br />

a musmach from Lakewood working with<br />

a candidate musmach from Yeshiva University!)<br />

Some weeks ago he sat in on a passionate<br />

and intense session. It lasted deep<br />

into the night, and when it was time to<br />

go home he asked if he could talk to his<br />

wife about what had transpired. After all,<br />

<br />

that he could attend. I explained that this<br />

too is part of rabbanus and its training; that<br />

however painful it is, one’s wife must not<br />

only be kept out of the loop, but, and this<br />

takes real strength, be convinced that there<br />

is nothing even going on.<br />

Much has been written of late about the<br />

pressures of the rabbinate, but nothing<br />

holds a candle to this. The most natural<br />

thing to be shared between spouses is<br />

work frustrations. Yet, for a rav, this must<br />

not happen.<br />

<br />

many of the events in Sefer Bereishis.<br />

Sarah, so shocked at the suggestion of a<br />

future child, laughed. But didn’t Hashem<br />

already inform Avraham, at the end of Lech<br />

Lecha, about this joyous future event?<br />

Wouldn’t he have already told Sarah?<br />

According to the commentators who<br />

explain that Yitzchak was ignorant of<br />

Eisav’s evil ways, wasn’t Rivkah already<br />

told, through a navi at the beginning of<br />

the parsha, the true nature of her in-utero<br />

sons? Indeed, that is why she made sure<br />

that Yaakov would receive the brachos!<br />

Why, then, did she leave Yitzchak in the<br />

dark?<br />

The Ramban (18:15 and 27:4, respectively)<br />

asks these questions. It is beyond<br />

this column to go into the reasons he offers<br />

(see also Netziv as it relates to Rivkah),<br />

<br />

remarks: How easily Rivkah could have<br />

avoided the need for subterfuge! How<br />

delighted Avraham would have been to be<br />

Rabbi Yisroel Reisman is quoted as having once<br />

remarked, “A non-Jew will never know the thrill of not<br />

having to say tachanun on a Monday or a Thursday.”<br />

the one to reveal to Sarah, as soon as he<br />

heard, that her dream of bearing a child<br />

would soon come true! But for whatever<br />

holy reason they had to keep quiet, and<br />

they left their respective spouses in the<br />

dark.<br />

What a nisayon!<br />

Many years ago, Rebbetzin Pam, z”l, was<br />

sitting at a wedding when some women<br />

asked her how she was managing with<br />

all that was “going on” in Torah Vodaas<br />

during a famously and publicly trying<br />

period. Bewildered, Rebbetzin Pam looked<br />

at them and asked sincerely, “What is<br />

going on in the yeshiva?” The whole world<br />

was talking about it at their kitchen tables,<br />

but Rav Pam—who worked there!—knew<br />

to keep quiet, and his wife may have been<br />

the one person left who was oblivious to<br />

the shameful hearsay.<br />

So, this column shall continue, the best<br />

stories concealed, and proper order preserved.<br />

<br />

Rabbi Moshe Taub has served as the<br />

rabbi of the Young Israel of Greater Buffalo<br />

since September 2003, and also serves as<br />

the rav hamachshir of the Buffalo Vaad<br />

HaKashrut.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 69

LAST WEEK we saw the Satmar Rebbe train his followers in the mitzvah of tzedakah.<br />

THIS WEEK we see how many people boycotted his institutions and causes.<br />

All Alone<br />



One cannot fully appreciate<br />

the Rebbe’s unequaled<br />

chessed and tzedakah without<br />

understanding how<br />

ostracized the Rebbe was.<br />

There has been no leader in the history<br />

of Klal Yisrael who has been as abused,<br />

maligned, and insulted as the Satmar<br />

Rebbe. Every day he was attacked in the<br />

secular press. <strong>Books</strong> were written against<br />

the Rebbe, calling him the worst of names.<br />

Satmar Rebbe on the way to the pier to<br />

board a ship to Israel. On the right is his<br />

nephew, the Beirach Moshe.<br />

The Rebbe also had very few friends in the<br />

frum world. This was a direct result of his<br />

strong opposition to Zionism.<br />

The <strong>Jewish</strong> street was very sympathetic<br />

to Zionism in the ’50s and ’60s, and the<br />

Rebbe’s outspoken opposition to Zionism<br />

didn’t make him very popular. On the<br />

contrary, he was shunned by the <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

community and denounced at every<br />

opportunity. There was, consequently,<br />

no person in <strong>Jewish</strong> history who was so<br />

limited in his ability to raise funds as the<br />

Satmar Rebbe.<br />

No <strong>Jewish</strong> group permitted Satmar to<br />

make an appeal in their shul. You cannot<br />

point to a single synagogue in America in<br />

which Satmar was able to formally raise<br />

funds. I’m not referring to Reform or Conservative<br />

synagogues. In those places the<br />

Rebbe wouldn’t consent to making an<br />

appeal in any event. The Rebbe refused<br />

to take money from a person who was<br />

mechalel Shabbos, or from anyone else who<br />

the Rebbe believed had money that was<br />

tainted. The Rebbe once declined a substantial<br />

donation from a well-to-do individual<br />

solely because he was a benefactor<br />

of Israel, and the Rebbe learned that he<br />

had bought $50,000 in Israeli Bonds.<br />

Once a person offered Reb Lipa Friedman<br />

a considerable sum of money for<br />

Satmar, but on the condition that he be<br />

permitted to put an ad in the name of<br />

Satmar in the Morgen Journal newspaper<br />

thanking him for the donation. When the<br />

Rebbe was told of this arrangement, he<br />

didn’t allow Reb Lipa to accept the money.<br />

The Rebbe, nevertheless, would have<br />

gladly accepted money for his mosdos from<br />

other frum Jews. However, they all boycotted<br />

him. Most kehillos would permit Bobov,<br />

Torah Vodaath, or Chaim Berlin to make<br />

an appeal. But not Satmar. The Rebbe had<br />

no entrée to <strong>Jewish</strong> philanthropists who<br />

were benefactors of other Orthodox yeshi-<br />

70 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772


vas and institutions.<br />

When the Rebbe founded Bais Rochel,<br />

a group of patrons of other yeshivas came<br />

to the Rebbe to plead with him to stop his<br />

negative campaign against Zionism. One of<br />

the people in this group was the renowned<br />

philanthropist and supporter of Lakewood<br />

Yeshiva, Irving Bunim. They begged the<br />

Rebbe to stop going to war with the State<br />

of Israel, for only then would his institu-<br />

<br />

<br />

The Rebbe, of course, would hear none<br />

of that. The Rebbe would often say, in the<br />

name of Rav Yehoshua Rokeach of Belz,<br />

that if there were no evil people in town<br />

from whom to separate, the frum people<br />

would need to import into town a group of<br />

evildoers. Separation from wicked people<br />

is something positive, he held; it is an end<br />

in itself. One must be able to highlight<br />

what is good by contrasting it with what<br />

is bad.<br />

The frum world, which was at that<br />

time quite supportive of Zionism, had no<br />

interest in this campaign of the Rebbe,<br />

and therefore ostracized him. As a result,<br />

everything the Rebbe built had to be<br />

funded from within; he was forced to<br />

ects<br />

solely from his own followers. How<br />

these few Holocaust survivors found the<br />

means to do that is beyond me.<br />

It should be noted that the Rebbe<br />

wasn’t building only in New York. The<br />

same massive infrastructure he built<br />

here, with all of its community facilities<br />

and charity organizations, he also<br />

built in London, Antwerp, Montreal,<br />

and so many other places throughout<br />

the world. Everything had to be built<br />

from the ground up, as nothing was in<br />

existence after the Second World War.<br />

The Rebbe was involved in every detail<br />

<br />

decide whether or not to build a new shul<br />

in some city, and where to build one if he<br />

deemed it necessary. Of course, all these<br />

foreign institutions also had to be based<br />

upon his exacting standards. The Rebbe<br />

undertook the building of Yiddishkeit<br />

through a vast charity network around the<br />

world. Again, this became the burden of<br />

his followers. He trained his chassidim—<br />

both men and women—to give, and he<br />

lived to see the results, which continue to<br />

this day.<br />

If one goes to Williamsburg on any given<br />

<br />

tzedakah functions going on in every home<br />

and shul, organized by the women of the<br />

community. Flyers are distributed by<br />

children inviting women to participate in<br />

these events. Whether for a yeshiva or a<br />

<br />

time and the money to help others.<br />

The Rebbe and Rebbetzin taught people<br />

how to give by setting an example. They<br />

were both pillars of tzedakah. The Rebbe<br />

and Rebbetzin gave charity not through<br />

intermediaries or gabbaim, but insisted on<br />

doing charity themselves. They gave not<br />

only with their hearts but also with great<br />

wisdom and understanding.<br />

Once a person from another city was<br />

<br />

his daughter from her estranged husband.<br />

His son-in-law was demanding $5,000 in<br />

exchange for a get. The father-in-law had<br />

The Rebbe would have gladly accepted money for<br />

his mosdos from other frum Jews. However, they all<br />

boycotted him.<br />

come to New York to collect money, and<br />

had put together a measly few hundred<br />

dollars. Though not a Satmar chassid,<br />

heartbroken and not knowing what to do,<br />

he came to the Rebbe.<br />

The man started pouring his heart out,<br />

telling the Rebbe that his daughter would<br />

not receive a divorce unless her husband<br />

was given a minimum of $5,000.<br />

The Rebbe told him to return the following<br />

day. The next day the Rebbe handed<br />

him an envelope containing $5,000, and<br />

some advice as well: “Listen to me,” the<br />

Rebbe said. “Give your son-in-law only<br />

$2,500, half of his request, and you’ll see<br />

that it will satisfy him.” That is precisely<br />

what happened. He gave him $2,500, and<br />

his daughter got the divorce. So the man<br />

called Rav Yosef Ashkenazi to ask what<br />

he should do with the rest of the money,<br />

whether he needed to return it.<br />

The Rebbe’s response was that he should<br />

use the remaining money to marry off his<br />

daughter. The Rebbe not only gave tzedakah,<br />

but he gave it with such kindheartedness,<br />

and yes, with a tremendous amount<br />

of wisdom. <br />

“The Principal” is a series by Rabbi Hertz Frankel,<br />

who is the English principal of Torah Veyirah<br />

school for boys and Bais Rochel school for girls,<br />

a position he has held since 1959. When not running<br />

the schools, he was acting as “Secretary<br />

of State” for the Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitlebaum,<br />

zt”l.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 71

Was Our Marriage Too<br />

Hopeless to Save?<br />


He was all I had ever hoped<br />

for. His middos were impeccable<br />

and he learned with<br />

great diligence, never missing<br />

a seder and often attending<br />

extra shiurim. My father was thrilled,<br />

and my mother gulped when the shadchan<br />

reassured her that the boy’s father,<br />

who was considerably wealthy, “insists on<br />

buying a house for each of his children.”<br />

<br />

and when I noticed that over four hours<br />

<br />

Although it took a few nerve-wracking<br />

days for the “other side” to get back with<br />

an answer, in the end the answer was yes,<br />

and I could scarcely mask my excitement<br />

when he picked me up for our second<br />

date. Once more, our time together was<br />

<br />

home close to midnight I was certain this<br />

was going to be it. Again it took a while for<br />

the other side to respond, but I was not<br />

overly concerned. After all, we had clicked<br />

<br />

of time before they gave the go-ahead.<br />

We waited anxiously for the shadchan<br />

<br />

it seemed that she had forgotten about<br />

<br />

The shadchan, who was a close friend of<br />

<br />

was perfectly happy and had been ready<br />

to continue the shidduch from the moment<br />

<br />

formidable opponent: his father. As they<br />

fought a battle of wills, the boy decided to<br />

take it up with his rosh yeshiva, who convinced<br />

him to drop the shidduch. It turned<br />

out that his father was unhappy with my<br />

short stature, and was afraid that if we<br />

married, we would have “tiny kids ‘like the<br />

other couple in the family’.”<br />

There followed a string of shidduchim,<br />

all ending in disappointment. Each time<br />

a boy walked through our front door I<br />

<br />

date, and the shidduch was doomed from<br />

the start. In truth, I never stopped hoping<br />

that I would somehow marry him—the<br />

dream boy who was really meant for me.<br />

I prayed that his father would relent. But<br />

when news came that he was engaged, my<br />

hopes were dashed forever. It was time to<br />

move on.<br />

By the time I turned 21, I was at my<br />

wits’ end. I had gone out with a total of<br />

<br />

Would I ever marry? I was aware of the<br />

grim statistics: I belonged to the Litvish<br />

set, in which girls far outnumbered boys,<br />

or so it seemed. The shadchanim scratched<br />

their heads as they tackled lists of girls that<br />

were pages long, while their lists of boys<br />

were woefully short. In high demand, the<br />

72 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 / 11 KISLEV, 5772


eeny, meeny,<br />

miny, mo, and haughtily put forth their<br />

demands.<br />

In any event, when Danny Fisher walked<br />

through the front door, my heart sank. He<br />

was from “out-of-town,” and other than<br />

his middos <br />

(great masmid<br />

His family dynamics were equally sketchy.<br />

His parents owned a small housewares<br />

store in their hometown and were far from<br />

wealthy, while his siblings were all married<br />

and living in Lakewood. That’s all. The<br />

<br />

<br />

that he was the proverbial “neb.” His beard<br />

was rumpled, and his hat sat askew atop<br />

a shock of hair that had not seen a pair<br />

of scissors for quite some time. Tall and<br />

gangly, his posture was that of an old man<br />

with the weight of the world on his shoulders,<br />

yet he was all of 22. He seemed ill at<br />

ease when my father asked him the customary<br />

opening questions, such as which<br />

yeshivas he had attended, and how many<br />

years he had been learning in Lakewood.<br />

I cringed, wishing he’d leave the poor guy<br />

alone. My mother, who stood on the sidelines,<br />

looked at me and our eyes met in<br />

mutual understanding. This was certainly<br />

a no from the word go. Desperate as I was<br />

to tie the knot, I was not going to do it<br />

with this wimp. Forget marriage, I could<br />

hardly imagine spending a few hours with<br />

this guy. This was going to be a long evening.<br />

As I followed Danny out of the house, I<br />

was dismayed to see his car, or more accu-<br />

<br />

his brother for the occasion. The doors<br />

squeaked and the seats were strewn with<br />

<br />

proud creations of his nieces and nephews.<br />

As I prepared to take the passenger<br />

seat, I gingerly wiped away some crumbs.<br />

Danny looked at me questioningly. “Are<br />

you afraid it’s dirty?” he asked with a halfsmile.<br />

I felt myself blushing. Had I acted<br />

rudely? But Danny was unperturbed.<br />

“Don’t worry,” he reassured me. “I spent<br />

hours vacuuming the car. It’s my brother’s<br />

van, and his kids are kind of messy.” Hmm,<br />

I thought, I wonder if it’s genetic....<br />

In all fairness, our evening turned out<br />

<br />

we had a great time. As we walked through<br />

the park’s winding paths, Danny displayed<br />

a wealth and breadth of knowledge that<br />

surprised me. His keen mind observed<br />

everything around him, and he seemed to<br />

<br />

whole lot about any topic I broached. He<br />

asked appropriate questions, and seemed<br />

genuinely interested in all I had to say.<br />

Unlike some of the other boys I had met,<br />

he was not nearly as self-absorbed. He was<br />

attentive, and had a way of making me feel<br />

tary<br />

school teacher was a grand achievement,<br />

and he was genuinely impressed by<br />

how I managed to control the students. He<br />

had once done a short stint as a substitute<br />

teacher, and the boys were “all over the<br />

place.” Somehow, I found myself squaring<br />

my shoulders.<br />

About two hours into our date, I got<br />

a tickling feeling in my throat. It was a<br />

blustery August evening, and coming<br />

on the heels of several rainy days, it triggered<br />

my allergies in a big way. I started to<br />

cough and sputter, and desperately rummaged<br />

around in my little handbag for my<br />

inhaler, which in my haste I had forgotten<br />

to take along. This threatened to be an allout<br />

asthma attack, the kind I hadn’t had<br />

in years. Danny offered me a drink, which<br />

I eagerly gulped down, after which the<br />

attack ended as abruptly as it had started.<br />

I dared not look up; my makeup was running,<br />

my face was all red from coughing,<br />

and I was sure Danny was about to cut<br />

the date short and dump me back home.<br />

He may not have been Prince Charming,<br />

but he was no fool. Why start up with a<br />

<br />

up, there was kindness in his green eyes.<br />

Somehow, he made me feel good about<br />

myself, even during an asthma attack.<br />

It was late August, and I was working<br />

as a head counselor at a girls’ camp from<br />

which Danny would pick me up about<br />

twice a week for our dates. I felt comfortable<br />

in his presence, and if I didn’t look<br />

too closely, he wasn’t bad looking at all.<br />

I did wish he’d have sewn back on the<br />

<br />

the life of me I couldn’t fathom how any<br />

self-respecting man could allow his hat<br />

to collect so much dust. But while there<br />

were many things that bothered me about<br />

Danny, there really wasn’t anything noteworthy<br />

enough to prompt me to issue a<br />

resolute no. My parents acted neutral in<br />

the matter and, when pressed, were loath<br />

to voice their opinions. Each time I spoke<br />

to them after a date they would listen<br />

patiently, and at the end of the conversation,<br />

gently ask if I wanted to go out with<br />

him again. I wished they’d be more assertive,<br />

to relieve me of the burden of this<br />

weighty decision.<br />

I lay awake at night, thinking of Danny’s<br />

lack of social graces, his habit of blowing<br />

loudly into crumpled up tissues, and<br />

<br />

and I’d cringe. For one of our dates Danny<br />

had shown up with a mishloach manos bag<br />

rugelach and a<br />

bottle of Mayim Chaim seltzer, which we<br />

consumed on a park bench. But Danny<br />

seemed oblivious to my misgivings. He<br />

smiled shyly, and I wondered what an outside<br />

observer might think of us—a tall,<br />

stooped man wearing drab clothes, alongside<br />

a short but perfectly groomed girl. If I<br />

was reluctant to be seen with him now, in<br />

the backwoods of Woodridge, how would<br />

I feel about walking with him on the street<br />

in broad daylight when I got home?<br />

After eight dates the inevitable happened.<br />

Danny proposed, and I accepted.<br />

By now I was convinced that Danny was a<br />

<br />

an attentive husband and a loving father to<br />

our future children—lack of fashion sense<br />

notwithstanding. My twenty-second birthday<br />

was fast approaching, and I dreaded<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 73

spinsterhood more than anything else in<br />

the world. If Danny, socially awkward as<br />

he was, was the one to save me from a desolate<br />

future, so be it. And if I failed to be<br />

terribly excited about him at the time of<br />

our engagement, here was hoping that we<br />

would grow closer in time, once we were<br />

bound by marriage and our mutual desire<br />

to build a Torah’dike home.<br />

Yet despite my pious intentions, no<br />

sooner were we engaged than I had serious<br />

doubts. What had I done? Was I really<br />

going to go through with it? The worst<br />

part was that I had no one to blame but<br />

myself. How clever of my parents to have<br />

remained neutral! The vort was a disaster,<br />

and although I smiled through the entire<br />

affair until my cheeks actually hurt, I was<br />

sobbing inside. Each time I glimpsed<br />

Danny on the men’s side, I quickly turned<br />

away. He hadn’t managed to put himself<br />

together, even for his own vort. His parents<br />

and siblings were all in attendance,<br />

and they were thrilled with the shidduch.<br />

Danny was the baby, and I was going to<br />

be their sweet little sister-in-law. “She’s<br />

<br />

make the cutest couple!” Like Danny, they<br />

paid little heed to their appearance. Their<br />

<br />

guess they had their own unique set of priorities.<br />

I cried myself to sleep that night,<br />

as I did on many nights leading up to the<br />

wedding. As I shopped and readied for the<br />

big day, my sense of dread grew.<br />

We were married in early winter. Before<br />

long, the noisy celebration of our wedding<br />

guests was replaced by an eerie silence<br />

that pervaded our perfect little apartment.<br />

I cooked delicious gourmet meals,<br />

and cleaned the house until every corner<br />

gleamed and sparkled. I worked full time,<br />

yet managed to invite numerous guests<br />

for Shabbos. I was the consummate balabusta,<br />

the envy of my friends and neighbors.<br />

How did I manage, they all wanted<br />

to know, to do everything so perfectly? I<br />

must be Superwoman!<br />

I smiled in feigned appreciation, personifying<br />

perfection until I crossed the threshold<br />

of my own apartment and closed the<br />

door. Inside, I was allowed to shed my<br />

veneer, and for an hour or so until Danny<br />

returned from yeshiva I could allow my<br />

pent-up feelings to surface. I dreaded<br />

Danny’s coming home and having to pretend<br />

that I was happy, when in truth, I was<br />

downright miserable. He always complimented<br />

me on my food, but I knew that he<br />

would have preferred a plate of lettuce and<br />

tuna—without the side order of tension.<br />

In a desperate attempt to please me, he’d<br />

payos, and I’d<br />

feel terribly guilty.<br />

G-d knows I tried, or so I thought back<br />

then, when a clean house and a groomed<br />

appearance were all-important. But Danny<br />

knew that my efforts were all a farce, a desperate<br />

and shoddy pretense. It went so far<br />

that, a few months after the chasuna, Danny’s<br />

father called my parents to an urgent<br />

meeting. Something had to be done, he<br />

mechutonim. Danny, his<br />

kind and gentle son who wouldn’t hurt<br />

<br />

candid moment, his normally reserved<br />

<br />

weren’t going well between him and his<br />

wife, and that try as he might, he could<br />

not manage to please her. His father desperately<br />

asked my parents to get involved,<br />

but they refused. Let them sort it out,<br />

<br />

themselves. This, of course, was all done<br />

in clandestine fashion, and we were not<br />

aware of this meeting until much later.<br />

By Pesach, things had gotten so bad<br />

between us that when Danny suggested<br />

we take a trip on Chol Hamoed, I came<br />

<br />

act<br />

with their spouses with the ease that<br />

comes from years of mutual respect<br />

and shared experiences, our relationship<br />

appeared—in stark contrast—more<br />

dismal than ever. I ached for a happy marriage,<br />

yet I was so entrenched in my illconceived<br />

values that placed social graces<br />

and aesthetics above all else, that I could<br />

not extricate myself from them no matter<br />

how hard I tried. I could not forgive myself<br />

for having given my hand in marriage to a<br />

man who espoused all the wrong values—<br />

who threw off his shoes in the middle of<br />

the dining room, and brushed his teeth at<br />

the kitchen sink in front of a houseful of<br />

guests.<br />

As soon as Pesach was over, I embraced<br />

the return to routine for all it was worth.<br />

I breathed a sigh of relief when Danny<br />

went back to yeshiva. It had been so sti-<br />

<br />

at times I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. The<br />

burden of pretending to be the attentive<br />

wife, when in reality I felt like a hollow<br />

shell, was too much to bear. Thus a few<br />

<br />

B., a marriage counselor who was said to<br />

have helped countless young couples with<br />

<br />

Danny.<br />

“You’re sure it’s worth it?” Danny asked<br />

skeptically. He doubted that anyone could<br />

help us. Over the past months we had<br />

gotten into a kind of rut where we each<br />

did our own thing. In the evenings, Danny<br />

would take a walk, while I talked incessantly<br />

to friends and family on the phone.<br />

By now it was quite obvious that I wasn’t<br />

fond of him, and no rabbi in the world<br />

<br />

working in a camp up in the Catskills,<br />

and the trip would involve upwards of<br />

three hours each way. But I persisted, and<br />

so, early the next morning, we ventured<br />

<br />

to reverse an all but hopeless pattern of<br />

mutual discontent.<br />

As soon as we arrived the two men<br />

<br />

to me with a smile. “So, young lady, what<br />

is the problem that brings you here?”<br />

I was thrown by his abruptness and<br />

felt myself blush. I wished he would have<br />

broken the ice with some social niceties,<br />

<br />

small talk and preferred to get to the point.<br />

“We are here to ask you to help us with<br />

our marriage,” I said, enunciating my<br />

words carefully.<br />

<br />

me.<br />

“It seems—although correct me if I’m<br />

wrong—that it is you, young lady, who is<br />

unhappy. This young fellow,” he said, smiling<br />

and nodding toward Danny, “appears<br />

74 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 / 11 KISLEV, 5772

quite happy with the marriage.”<br />

How was he so sure? I wondered. But I<br />

dared not say anything. We had traveled<br />

over three hours and I wasn’t about to ruin<br />

it by sounding off.<br />

“Nu<br />

I clasped my hands together and took a<br />

deep breath. Out of the corner of my eye, I<br />

peered over at Danny. He smiled his usual<br />

shy smile and waited for me to speak.<br />

“Well,” I began, “it seems like we weren’t<br />

really meant for each other.”<br />

<br />

“Because we are so different. There’s<br />

very little that we agree on.”<br />

Without much further prompting, once<br />

Danny left the room, I plunged into a<br />

lengthy soliloquy, pouring out my heart<br />

<br />

tidy house and a groomed appearance,<br />

while Danny always looked so messy and<br />

unkempt. I told him how I lived my life<br />

with precision and on a tight schedule,<br />

while Danny paid little heed to the clock<br />

and was almost never on time. This went<br />

on for almost an hour, and I would have<br />

continued until G-d knows when, were it<br />

<br />

“Young lady,” he said, “don’t you realize<br />

that all his problems are really his maylos<br />

<br />

How so? I wondered.<br />

“Well,” he said, “take, for instance, his<br />

lack of interest in a clean, orderly home.<br />

While it may be exasperating to be constantly<br />

rearranging the bookshelves after<br />

him, and removing his shoes from the<br />

ful<br />

to have a husband who comes home<br />

after a full day of learning or working, and<br />

instead of complaining about the mess,<br />

he walks through two feet of clutter and<br />

greets his wife with a smile! And while you<br />

may think that a four-course meal is necessary,<br />

once you have a houseful of children<br />

<br />

macaroni, your husband will in all likeli-<br />

<br />

fanciest recipes.”<br />

How unfair, I thought, laying the blame<br />

on me. What about Danny and his bad<br />

habits? What about his slumped posture<br />

and unkempt appearance? Wasn’t there<br />

also something he had to do to enhance<br />

our marriage?<br />

<br />

B.’s words ringing in my ears. “Don’t you<br />

realize that all his problems are really his<br />

maylos?” I couldn’t get his words out of my<br />

head.<br />

Over the next few weeks and months, I<br />

found myself undergoing a gradual emotional<br />

shift. It didn’t happen overnight,<br />

<br />

more I thought about it, the more I realized<br />

that the reasons I had married Danny<br />

were still valid. Why had I chosen to focus<br />

on his faults? And who was I, anyway? I<br />

was short, overweight, and had a bad case<br />

of allergies. Worse still, I was intolerant<br />

and rigid.<br />

After rethinking my attitude, I resolved<br />

to change my behavior. It wasn’t easy. But I<br />

found that the less critical I was, the more<br />

my husband was relaxed and happy. And,<br />

much to my surprise, I also discovered<br />

that I wanted him to be happy!<br />

<br />

point in our marriage. It is now over three<br />

years since then, and with a second baby<br />

on the way, we have grown ever closer.<br />

<br />

<br />

have to remind him to get a haircut, or<br />

<br />

button. But I have come to realize how<br />

unimportant these things really are, and<br />

have grown to appreciate Danny for the<br />

wonderful human being he is.<br />

As I look around and see other couples<br />

resorting to divorce as casually as I<br />

once considered it, G-d forbid, I want to<br />

shout, “Stop! Have you explored all your<br />

options?”<br />

Interestingly, the marriage counselor,<br />

with whom we had met only once, later<br />

told Danny that he had never met a couple<br />

who were so unhappy, yet able to turn<br />

their marriage around so drastically. All it<br />

took was a willingness to accept that it was<br />

up to me to change my thinking, rather<br />

than expect to change the man I married<br />

into someone he was not meant to be.<br />

I am very grateful for having done so. <br />

The very best in fine<br />

photography and video<br />

www.mendelmeyers.com<br />

718.232.8466 | 516.568.4284<br />


A Record Prize<br />


Having a “gleam in one’s eye”<br />

is often used to describe a<br />

sparkle—sometimes spiritual,<br />

sometimes ethereal—a<br />

sparkle that can hardly be<br />

<br />

and blood.<br />

Over the years I have seen many gleams,<br />

mostly from children who were about to<br />

be rewarded.<br />

But one gleam from a middle-aged<br />

tycoon taught me that even the<br />

childhood excitement of a spiritual<br />

treasure cannot be<br />

withered by age.<br />

About 28 years ago<br />

I was a member of<br />

the Pittsburgh kollel.<br />

I came in the second<br />

or third shift of yungeleit,<br />

who I believe were part of<br />

the Pittsburgh renaissance,<br />

a period in which its chimneys<br />

in nearby Homestead<br />

stopped belching the residue<br />

of coke factories, and liver and<br />

lung transplants, as well as the emergence<br />

of robotics and technology, became<br />

the avant-garde industries that took center<br />

stage.<br />

The rosh kollel, Rabbi Shaul Kagan,<br />

ob”m, and I had much in common, and he<br />

revered my zaide, Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky,<br />

and treated me accordingly. Rabbi Kagan<br />

had a keen interest in so many worlds and<br />

ideas, and though he was anchored by the<br />

vision of his rebbe, Rav Aharon Kotler, his<br />

curious enthusiasm for the world at large<br />

allowed him to relate to and appreciate the<br />

widest spectrum of the human race that I<br />

had ever seen in my yeshiva mentors.<br />

He imparted in me a fascination and<br />

appreciation for the history and heritage<br />

of that city’s rabbinate, and with his guid-<br />

<br />

a large cache of discarded old sefarim, and<br />

the benevolence of the Ungar and Pfeffer<br />

families, I established a small but respectable<br />

library, the Otzar Chachmei Pittsburgh.<br />

It contained a collection of works<br />

authored by many of the rabbanim who<br />

graced the city of Pittsburgh from the early<br />

1900s until my time in the kollel.<br />

Though he was a traditionalist, Rabbi<br />

Kagan and the newly-recruited rosh kollel,<br />

Rabbi Naftali Beer, had a penchant for new<br />

ideas to bring people into the kollel and<br />

strengthen their bond to Torah learning.<br />

It was the early 1980s, and the Inter-<br />

<br />

imagination. Audiovisual learning (at least<br />

in the kollel communities) was basically<br />

limited to teachers, blackboards, and overhead<br />

projectors. But I knew of a Torah tape<br />

library in Brooklyn that lent out cassettes<br />

free of charge, and I wanted to replicate<br />

the concept some 500 miles west on Interstate<br />

76—in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.<br />

(For those of you under 18 who have<br />

been given an assignment to read a classic<br />

piece of contemporary literature, let<br />

me explain something that may have left<br />

you scratching your heads. In the olden<br />

days, when car windows were cranked<br />

and phones had dials with holes for your<br />

<br />

tape recorder. In it you would place a plastic<br />

cartridge that had two spools of very<br />

thin, brown vinyl tape. The<br />

tape would pass through<br />

something on the recorder<br />

and it would play or record<br />

music. Of course, the tape<br />

could get stuck, and you<br />

would then have to untangle<br />

about 20 yards of it, which<br />

you could never stuff back into<br />

the cartridge. It would also often<br />

rip, creating an exercise in dexterity<br />

as we would try to tape the two<br />

ends together and get it back into the<br />

cartridge without impeding its ability<br />

to spin properly. Without fail, we<br />

would mess things up by inadvertently<br />

twisting the strip before attaching the two<br />

ends. This would result in the sounds<br />

being played backwards, which made for<br />

lots of fun for the younger set, and lots of<br />

frustration for their parents. The tape was<br />

also used for amusement purposes in kollel<br />

homes, where children would occupy<br />

themselves for hours unraveling them to<br />

see how many dining room chairs they<br />

could string together.)<br />

I had approached the rosh kollel and suggested<br />

that a tape library would be a wonderful<br />

addition to our kollel’s community<br />

outreach services, and he was enthusiastic<br />

about the idea, but not about the cost. I<br />

76 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772


had told him that we would need cases<br />

<br />

speed duplicating machine, in order to<br />

make copies of the many ongoing lectures<br />

that the kollel offered through its resident<br />

scholars. I estimated that the start-up cost<br />

for a 200-plus tape library would run close<br />

to $2,000. Pittsburgh was not a wealthy<br />

community, and the burden of fund raising<br />

was beginning to take its toll on Rabbi<br />

Kagan. “It’s a great idea, but you will have<br />

to raise the money for it!”<br />

I asked him if he would allow me to<br />

revisit the usual suspects—the donors<br />

whom I had known from their visits to<br />

the kollel, or from their being thanked by<br />

name, for various philanthropic endeavors.<br />

“All right,” he said, “but don’t tell them<br />

that I sent you!”<br />

There was one name on the radar that<br />

I had seen quite often in the publications<br />

of many <strong>Jewish</strong> organizations—Jason<br />

Shapiro. He was regularly either dedicating<br />

something or being honored at some<br />

lanthropy<br />

ranged from UJA-Federation to<br />

Israel Bonds, to Lubavitch and the kollel.<br />

I found out that he was the president<br />

of a Pittsburgh-based company, National<br />

Record Mart, and though it took a while, I<br />

got an appointment to see him. As a young<br />

kid, I would often accompany my father to<br />

<br />

I remember delivering mishloach manos to<br />

one of the presidents of the Paragon Oil<br />

Company. I didn’t watch my father in<br />

<br />

tchatchke to play with, and if the visit was<br />

to a home, they would plop me in front of<br />

the TV, where I would stare in wonder at<br />

the moving images on the screen.<br />

I was indeed a bit intimidated by the<br />

large boardroom in which he seated me.<br />

He offered me a drink, and sat down at<br />

the head of the table. The room was massive<br />

and elegantly appointed. Besides my<br />

seat, there were about a dozen empty<br />

leather chairs around the massive dark<br />

cherry wood table. There were various<br />

golden records on the wall, representing<br />

the albums that must have sold in the millions,<br />

and there were some record jackets<br />

as well. (Youngsters, this time I will spare<br />

you the explanation of what a record is,<br />

until a later date.) Opposite Mr. Shapiro<br />

was a large curtain-like tapestry that was<br />

hung across the width of the room. I was<br />

not sure if it was covering something, or<br />

was there just for show. But I had no time<br />

<br />

right next to me. “Why do I have the pleasure<br />

of meeting you today?”<br />

It went fairly well. I explained that I had<br />

a project, a tape library that I wanted to<br />

create, and he had the money to help me.<br />

Simple as that. I said I needed $1,800, and<br />

waited for his response.<br />

He asked me a simple question. “There<br />

are many secular Jews in Pittsburgh. There<br />

are many philanthropic Jews as well. Why<br />

did you choose me?”<br />

I was a bit dumfounded. I could not say,<br />

“Because I spotted your name on a poster<br />

somewhere.” What I did say was, “We are<br />

known as ‘the people of the book.’ Most<br />

of our institutions have libraries of books.<br />

Thousands of them. But you are the owner<br />

of National Record Mart. I could not think<br />

of anyone who appreciates the power of<br />

audio over the written word. That is why I<br />

came to you.”<br />

Mr. Shapiro smiled broadly, then got up<br />

and walked to the far side of the room.<br />

Standing in front of a button on the wall<br />

<br />

curtain with a slight nod of his chin. “Tell<br />

me, what do you think is behind that curtain?”<br />

I had absolutely no idea. I looked around<br />

the room and saw assorted record industry<br />

paraphernalia, and made a wild guess.<br />

<br />

Mr. Shapiro looked at me with mock<br />

disdain. He crunched his nose slightly as if<br />

he were one of my rabbeim saying “shtusim”<br />

to an attempt to compare the sacred to the<br />

mundane.<br />

I knew I was off by a long shot, and I<br />

was certain that I would not be getting<br />

my $1,800 either. But then I saw the glint<br />

in his eye, as he smiled and offered me a<br />

<br />

I looked at his expression, at the<br />

delighted anticipation expressed in his<br />

eagerness to reveal the secret behind the<br />

curtain. And I knew the answer. I was,<br />

in fact, so sure that I said it with a smug<br />

<br />

He asked me a simple question. “There are many secular<br />

Jews in Pittsburgh. There are many philanthropic Jews as<br />

well. Why did you choose me?”<br />

“It’s a sefer Torah!”<br />

His eyes widened in a mixture of surprise<br />

and satisfaction as he pressed the<br />

button on the wall. The curtains slowly<br />

drew apart, and I caught a glimpse of the<br />

velvet mantel. “How did you know?”<br />

“Mr. Shapiro,” I replied, “the gleam in<br />

your eyes and the smile on your face transcended<br />

any mundane item. That expression<br />

shouted out to me, ‘I have something<br />

sacred in there!’ I knew it had to be a<br />

Torah.”<br />

Mr. Shapiro then explained that he had<br />

found the Torah buried in rubble behind a<br />

gas station in Buffalo, New York, and that<br />

he’d had it restored. He decided to keep it<br />

in the most prominent place in his business,<br />

to remind him where he came from.<br />

I believe that it always did.<br />

He also wrote out a check for $1,800 to<br />

start the tape library. <br />

Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky is the Rosh<br />

Yeshiva of Yeshiva Toras Chaim at South Shore,<br />

a weekly columnist in Yated Ne’eman, and the<br />

author of the Parsha Parable series. He can<br />

share your story through the “Streets of Life.”<br />

He can reached at streets@amimagazine.org.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // AMI MAGAZINE 77

my<br />

word!<br />


Each week, “My Word!”—penned by the esteemed president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to<br />

English—highlights often-misused or misspelled phrases or words, common grammatical challenges, unusual<br />

expressions, or neologisms. Or it just calls attention to curious or interesting locutions.<br />

So, if you want to learn some new things about English—or are already expert in the language and want to<br />

prove it to yourself—you’ve come to the right place.<br />

Hold the Forte!<br />

You’ve probably heard people say things<br />

like, “Well, I’d really love to help you, but<br />

carrying pianos isn’t really my forte”—pronouncing<br />

the last word, used in the sense<br />

of “talent” or “expertise,” as “fortay,” as if<br />

the “e” carries a French acute accent. That is so gauche<br />

(which is not, the reader presumably knows, pronounced<br />

“gauchay”).<br />

There is in fact no word in English—or in French,<br />

for that matter—that is properly pronounced “fortay.”<br />

In the piano-carrying excuse sentence above, as in all<br />

employment of the word to mean “talent,” the word is<br />

pronounced just as it reads: “fort”—as if the “e” isn’t<br />

there at all.<br />

There is, as it happens, an Italian word, forte, that is<br />

pronounced somewhat differently, with the “e” sounding<br />

not like an accented French “e” but more like “eh”<br />

(as in the sentence: “Eh! You call that gelatinous blob<br />

<br />

but rather to a way of playing (not carrying) a piano. It<br />

is a musical term indicating that a piece of music is to<br />

be played loudly.<br />

Somehow, someone somewhere managed to misconstrue<br />

the Italian word meaning “with force” as a French<br />

word, topped it with an accent mark, mispronounced<br />

it and passed it off as an English word meaning “talent.”<br />

And masses eager to sound sophisticated showed<br />

themselves anything but, and adopted the mistaken<br />

pronunciation.<br />

Oy.<br />

As the ancient Chinese saying goes, let’s “fung on fun<br />

unfung”—or, “start from the beginning.” (Actually, it<br />

might be Yiddish.)<br />

The word, “forte,” is closely related to the word, “fort,”<br />

meaning “a stronghold.” That is because the word “forte”<br />

means “strong” (f.) in French. Thus we have obvious Eng-<br />

<br />

In fact, the word, “forte’s,” original (and still current,<br />

for fencers and executioners) meaning is “the strong<br />

part of a sword blade”—that is to say the half of the<br />

blade’s length closest to the hilt, or handle. (Interestingly,<br />

the rest of the blade until the tip, the weaker half,<br />

is called the “foible,” which also, of course, means a<br />

weakness of character, and is in turn related to “feeble.”)<br />

Which brings us to the “talent” use of the word, the<br />

more common one these days. It’s pretty simple: A<br />

talent is a strength.<br />

Unfortunately, as happens in languages, even mistakes<br />

can become so widespread that they earn a place<br />

in the dictionaries. And so, the “fortay” pronunciation<br />

of the word, “forte” (pronounced “fort!” pronounced<br />

“fort!”) has wiggled its way into common usage and<br />

<br />

you, dear reader!) must do what we can to, so to speak,<br />

hold the fort.<br />

So the next time someone tells you that “vocabulary<br />

isn’t my forte” and pronounces it “fortay,” just smile<br />

sadly and say with resignation, “Obviously.” <br />

78 AMI MAGAZINE // DECEMBER 7, 2011 // 11 KISLEV, 5772

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DECEMBER 7, 2011 11 KISLEV, 5772 ISSUE 48<br />

24<br />


page<br />

plus<br />



expert baker<br />

Will<br />

Justice<br />

Prevail?<br />

A mother’s battle<br />

for custody of her daughter<br />

DECEMBER 7, 2011<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772<br />

Delectable Dairy<br />

Etty’s Chanukah Menu<br />

Includes Irresistable Recipes Like This<br />

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Watch Your Children Delight<br />

at Victoria Dwek’s Chanukah Party<br />

Plus! Easy Ideas for Your Own Party<br />









BYTES // Morsels of Wisdom, Wit, and Practical Advice By Chaya Silber<br />



<br />

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) may be a savvy politician, but<br />

she struggles with the same “weighty” issue many of us do: excess<br />

poundage.<br />

<br />

<br />

was ready to lose weight.<br />

“I’m tired of looking and feeling fat,” McCaskill announced to all<br />

and sundry on May 12. “Maybe talking about it publicly will keep<br />

<br />

The Senator was desperate to lose weight, not for reasons of<br />

<br />

possible Republican challenger.<br />

“The metabolism shuts down on you, and all of a sudden you’re<br />

feeling slow and tired. And I knew I was going to need lots of energy<br />

in the next year, so I decided I needed to put the excuses aside and<br />

get more physical.”<br />

How did McCaskill actually accomplish such a remarkable feat in<br />

a relatively short time?<br />

There’s no magic potion. It involved the “tried and true” rules:<br />

eating less, walking two miles on a treadmill each day, and utilizing<br />

the help of a personal trainer. “Most importantly, I ‘divorced’ myself<br />

from bread and pasta,” Claire declared.<br />

The Senator decided to go public, in order to be held accountable<br />

to her constituency.<br />

“It meant that people were going to be watching to see if, in fact,<br />

I stayed on track,” she said. “If I manage to get healthy and then I go<br />

back to my old ways, it will be a public humiliation.”<br />

Babies “R” Not Us<br />

<br />

It’s not much fun to travel with young<br />

children, especially in midair. Recently,<br />

it’s become a nightmare. Parents are<br />

complaining of airline seating policies that<br />

create “baby ghettoes,” large areas with<br />

tiny tots in the very back of planes, to give<br />

the front passengers some peace.<br />

If that isn’t troubling enough, it gets<br />

worse. In many cases, entire families are<br />

split up, leaving small children frightened,<br />

in the company of complete strangers.<br />

Michael Lyon, one irate passenger,<br />

booked seats together for his family for a<br />

trip from Washington, D.C., to Bangkok<br />

on United Airlines last summer. But<br />

when he checked in, his family was split<br />

up, and his six year-old son was moved to<br />

the back of the plane by himself for the<br />

13-hour trip.<br />

A United gate agent told Lyon<br />

that there were no available seats and<br />

nothing could be done. He protested to<br />

a supervisor, who found two seats next to<br />

each other so he could sit with his son.<br />

“Not only did the United gate staff not<br />

seem to understand the importance of<br />

having him next to us, they were hostile,”<br />

Lyon later told the media.<br />

What gives? It’s the bottom line,<br />

weary parents say. In most cases, paying<br />

adults outnumber children on planes,<br />

and airlines have to balance the needs of<br />

parents with child-free passengers who<br />

want peace and quiet.<br />

Bulkhead rows at the front of coach<br />

cabins, once reserved for infants, are now<br />

saved for passengers with disabilities. As a<br />

result, families often end up separated, or<br />

at the back of the plane.<br />

So if you’re planning to travel with a<br />

small child (good luck to you), make sure<br />

to call the airline in advance, and specify<br />

that you must sit next to your child at all<br />

costs. Even so, be prepared for surprises.<br />

10 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

Nothing to Cry About<br />

<br />

Johnson & Johnson—the prestigious, 125-year-old company that is supposedly the<br />

Rolls Royce of shampoo and baby lotions in the U.S.—has pledged to remove two<br />

harmful chemicals from its baby shampoo and other products.<br />

An international coalition of environmental groups has been pressuring J & J to<br />

remove two potentially cancer-causing chemicals from its products. These products<br />

include the iconic Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo, which costs double the price of<br />

generic brands, and is famously advertised under the slogan,<br />

“No More Tears.”<br />

Recently, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics<br />

realized that the health care giant had<br />

removed the two chemicals—dioxane,<br />

considered a carcinogen, and<br />

quaternium-15, a chemical that releases<br />

the preservative formaldehyde—from<br />

products in several other countries,<br />

including the U.K., Scandinavia, and<br />

South Africa.<br />

American parents, who’d been shelling<br />

out extra dough for the Johnson brand,<br />

cried foul, and the company paid attention.<br />

After all, Johnson & Johnson would rather<br />

pay now than cry later.<br />

Have You Got the<br />

“Kindness Gene”?<br />

<br />

People with a specific genetic trait often appear to be kinder and more caring than<br />

the average Joe. The variation is linked to the body’s oxytocin (a hormone) receptor<br />

gene.<br />

To prove their point, scientists at Oregon State University filmed over 20 sets of<br />

friends. One person was asked to tell the other about a difficult experience in his or her<br />

life. Observers were asked to watch the listener for 20 seconds, with the sound turned<br />

off.<br />

In most cases, the observers were able to tell which of the listeners had the “kindness<br />

gene” and which ones did not, said the article in the Proceedings of the National Academy<br />

of Sciences.<br />

“Our findings suggest even slight genetic variation may have a tangible impact on<br />

people’s behavior, and that these behavioral differences are quickly noticed by others,”<br />

explained lead author Aleksandr Kogan of the University of Toronto.<br />

Nine out of 10 people who were judged by the neutral observers to be “least trusted”<br />

carried the A version of the gene, while six out of 10 deemed “most prosocial” had the<br />

GG genotype, and were judged as more empathetic, trusting, and loving.<br />

But regardless of your genetic makeup, never fear. Kindness and compassion can be<br />

cultivated over a lifetime of selfless giving. Your family would be the best place to start.<br />

ThAN A<br />

A persoNAlized progrAM<br />

of liMUd ToRAh<br />

iN YoUr zechus<br />

I dated for quite a few<br />

years and had reached<br />

the point where I felt that<br />

barring a neis, I would not find<br />

the right one to marry. My sister<br />

saw the Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah<br />

ad in Binah and urged me to<br />

contribute. She actually made the<br />

call for me, and I sponsored the<br />

learning of Gemara Kiddushin.<br />

Less than three<br />

months after<br />

the completion<br />

of the learning<br />

in my zechus,<br />

I became a<br />

kallah! I was<br />

Less than three<br />

months after...<br />

I became a<br />

kallah!<br />

not only zocheh to get engaged<br />

to a true ben Torah, but was also<br />

fortunate to see the tremendous<br />

hashgachah that led to me finding<br />

my zivug. Thank you for the<br />

opportunity to earn such merit;<br />

may we only hear and share<br />

simchos in Klal Yisrael!<br />

SB, Lakewood, NJ<br />

732.364.7029<br />


12 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

To Err is Human<br />

[ ]<br />


I<br />

t was my first day on the job, and by 5 A.M. I had been<br />

tossing and turning for quite a while. I was therefore only<br />

too happy to leave for work at a “normal” hour—ten to seven,<br />

to be exact. It was a frosty November morning, and the sun<br />

had barely made its presence known to those few hardy<br />

individuals who had already braved the outdoors. Despite my<br />

warm down coat and fur-lined boots, I felt myself shiver. My<br />

teeth were chattering as I walked briskly to the address where<br />

I was to begin work. Before climbing the stairs, I took one last<br />

glance at the exterior of the building. It was a nondescript, twostory<br />

corner brick house, set on a Boro Park street, pretty much<br />

like all the others on the block and beyond. Yet once inside, I<br />

knew that all similarities would end.<br />

I fumbled for the keys in my oversized pocketbook, and was<br />

glad to find them on the first try. With slight hesitation but with<br />

complete confidence, I turned the lock and walked inside the<br />

residence where I would be working as nurse. The house was<br />

eerily silent, and I felt like an intruder, an unwelcome stranger. I<br />

wished I was past the “introductory period” so I could enter the<br />

home as part of “them” rather than as an outsider. But I did not<br />

have much time to think, as no sooner had I removed my coat<br />

than my beeper went off. I glanced at the digital readout and<br />

recognized the number of my new supervisor, Joan. As dictated<br />

by protocol, I immediately called her on a nearby landline (this<br />

was the pre-cell phone era), and in her chirpy voice she asked<br />

whether—in addition to my other duties—I’d be so kind as to fill<br />

in for the residence’s AMAP (counselor certified in medication<br />

administration) who had called in sick. I readily agreed, as in<br />

truth, I had little choice in the matter. And even if I did have<br />

the option of refusing, it was really no big deal because I was<br />

working part-time on Beth Israel’s oncology floor, where I<br />

regularly infused lethal IV concoctions into the mangled veins<br />

of very sick patients. Dispensing a few relatively benign tablets<br />

to eight mentally disabled individuals would be a cinch in<br />

comparison.<br />

How wrong I was!<br />

I set to work immediately. The guys would be off to their day<br />

program by eight o’clock, and there was little time to spare. I<br />

quickly went to the nurse’s office, checked the patient roster, and<br />

decided to start with Moe. I had met him during my orientation<br />

and was enamored by his affable demeanor. During our brief<br />

encounter, I had learned that he liked to redeem recyclable soda<br />

bottles, and it being a Thursday, today would be his weekly trip<br />

to Pathmark’s recycling station. I pulled out his sizeable supply<br />

of medications and carefully reviewed the venerable “five rights:”<br />

The right patient, the right medication, the right dose, the right<br />

route, and the right time.<br />

Moe’s treatment regimen included the typical medications<br />

taken at the home: 2 tabs of Tegretol 100 mg; 1 tab Ativan 0.5<br />

mg; Risperdal 2 mg in AM, 3 mg in PM; and several other<br />

potent psychotropics, each intended to address Moe’s severe<br />

agitation and self-injurious behaviors that included beating<br />

his hands against the edge of just about any hard object that<br />

happened to be in front of him. It was little wonder that he<br />

frequently sustained serious trauma, often accompanied by<br />

fractures. What was unusual was that in spite of the medication<br />

regimen that tended to cause significant weight gain in others,<br />

Moe was rail thin. I still remember his weight: 102 pounds on<br />

a good day, which at 5’8” put him at a dismally low BMI (body<br />

mass index). But the meds had not left him unscathed—not by a<br />

long shot. They had done a mean number on Moe, most notably<br />

on his balance, which was way off. In fact, he had had a positive<br />

Rhomberg test, which meant that when he stood straight and<br />

closed his eyes, his body swayed back and forth like an autumn<br />

leaf in the breeze.<br />

Since Moe preferred to take his meds in bed, I gathered my<br />

supplies and climbed the rickety stairs to his upstairs bedroom.<br />

I cleared a spot on his cluttered dresser and carefully set down<br />

the container with the meds, the med sheets, and a cup of water.<br />

I felt more than ready to tackle a task that was a no-brainer for<br />

a pro like me. I was glad to see that Moe was already up, and<br />

introduced myself as his new nurse-turned-AMAP. Moe, in turn,<br />

was delighted to greet his new nurse; he was an old fashioned<br />

gentleman of a bygone era, who bowed and asked “How do you<br />

do?” upon introduction to ladies.<br />

His partiality to the female gender stemmed from a<br />

deep-rooted mistrust of men, dating back to the time when<br />

he was mercilessly teased by the boys in his class. Their<br />

gentler counterparts, by contrast, showed him kindness and<br />

understanding. Moe had been mainstreamed into a regular<br />

public school back in the early 1960s, not because of any<br />

particular educational theory, but because there were no other<br />

options for someone who was fully verbal and literate, yet<br />

lacked basic social skills. In time, he would be diagnosed with<br />

paranoid schizophrenia which, with proper medications and<br />

individualized behavioral programs, was held in check, and his<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | | 13

izarre behaviors partially normalized. Nevertheless, I still found<br />

him rather tense, his gaunt face and flat affect testimony to a<br />

troubled mind.<br />

“Are you ready for your meds?” I asked. It wasn’t about<br />

whether he wanted to take them or not; there was no choice<br />

in the matter. But allowing him to choose the time within a<br />

framework of an hour or so provided him with both dignity<br />

and a measure of control, wonderful tools to help him gain<br />

confidence and independence.<br />

“But, of course,” came Moe’s expansive response, for he did<br />

and said everything expansively. He then added apologetically,<br />

“Do you mind if I wash negel vasser first?”<br />

Moe adhered to his traditions with ferocious tenacity. He went<br />

to shul regularly, and cherished the shofar he’d inherited decades<br />

back, practicing the sounds weeks before Rosh Hashanah. (We<br />

won’t discuss the quality of the sounds that emanated from the<br />

ancient ram’s horn.)<br />

I dutifully performed the “three checks,” comparing the labels<br />

on the medication bottles to the entries on the medication sheets<br />

three times: first, when taking the bottles out of the bin; next,<br />

when handing the medication to the patient; and finally, when<br />

returning the bottles to the container. These checks, although<br />

tedious and time-consuming, are designed to avoid medication<br />

errors.<br />

All went well until I got to Moe’s last medication, Risperdal.<br />

As I reviewed the label on the bottle one last time before setting<br />

it back into the container, I was horrified to realize that I had<br />

made a grave error: I had given Moe his evening dose together<br />

with his morning dose, a total of five pills instead of the usual<br />

two he took upon rising. Moe had been overdosed, and I was<br />

the guilty party. My simple task had suddenly morphed into<br />

a disaster. Here I was, my very first day on the job, and I had<br />

already proved myself to be completely inept. I was a dismal<br />

failure, the proverbial klutz.<br />

What to do?<br />

My thoughts went into overdrive as I reviewed my options.<br />

There was really only one thing for me to do: pretend it never<br />

happened. Luckily it hadn’t involved Moe’s Ativan, a controlled<br />

substance that in light of its addictive properties, must be<br />

counted at each shift. The missing pills would not be noted.<br />

Since the culprit was Risperdal, which, although a potent<br />

antipsychotic with serious sedating effects, was not considered<br />

habit-forming, no one would pick up on my mistake. And so,<br />

with shaking hands and my heart beating wildly, I bid Moe a<br />

good day, gathered up my supplies, and continued to administer<br />

medications to the others who were by now waiting anxiously for<br />

their turn.<br />

The rest of the morning passed in a blur of activity. Before I<br />

knew it, the first of the buses arrived to take the residents to their<br />

respective day programs. As I was watching my new patients<br />

at the door I suddenly noticed Moe. Holding a bag filled with<br />

recyclable bottles, he was about to leave the residence. His bus<br />

came much later than the others, so he would have ample time<br />

to make it to Pathmark and back. His balance was off, but it was<br />

always off. Okay, so maybe it was slightly worse than the last<br />

time I saw him, but no two days are ever alike. I continued to<br />

rationalize until my conscience got the better of me.<br />

What about the cardinal rule of “First, do no harm,” the<br />

holiest of mantras, taught to every student nurse on planet<br />

Earth?<br />

What about “To thine own self be true”?<br />

And lastly, what about Moe? What if he fell and got hurt?<br />

How could I live with the guilt?<br />

I ran into the kitchen and dialed Joan’s number.<br />

“Hello, Joan.”<br />

“Oh, hi, Ratzy!” said she with her usual good cheer. “How was<br />

your first morning?”<br />

Wait until she hears the “good news,” I thought bitterly. I<br />

wondered by how many octaves her voice would fall. Most<br />

certainly to the sub-basement level.<br />

“Uh, Joan,” I croaked, “I need to report a little problem.”<br />

“What is it?” she asked, her voice sounding not overly<br />

concerned, but nowhere near as cheerful.<br />

“I gave Moe his evening dose of Risperdal.”<br />

Pause.<br />

“Well,” she finally managed to say, “it’s probably not a big deal,<br />

as we can give him the morning dose tonight. He’ll have gotten<br />

the daily dose, only in reversed order.”<br />

That would have been a pretty neat idea, if only I hadn’t given<br />

him the morning dose as well.<br />

“Actually,” I said plaintively, “I gave Moe the entire day’s<br />

Risperdal.”<br />

I waited to hear from Joan that I had nothing to worry about,<br />

but it wasn’t that simple. With a positive Rhomberg and bones as<br />

thin as an 80-year-old woman’s, Moe was in danger of losing his<br />

balance entirely, and even a slight fall could lead to serious bone<br />

fractures. Joan called Moe’s doctor, who was reassuring but at the<br />

same time did not want to take any chances. We kept a careful<br />

eye on Moe that day, providing him with a constant companion.<br />

And so went my first day on the job. To call it mortifying is<br />

putting it mildly.<br />

Many years have since passed, but I can honestly say that<br />

I have never grown more from an experience than that<br />

fateful morning, when I first started to work with the special<br />

population. I have since trained more AMAPs than I care to<br />

count, and have overseen untold numbers of direct care workers.<br />

My professional advice always concludes with the same words:<br />

“Above all, to thine own self be true.” No matter how many times<br />

I repeat it, I say it with the same heartfelt conviction I felt on<br />

that unforgettable day, when I managed to overcome my evil<br />

inclination and admit that I had erred, because it was really the<br />

only human thing to do. n<br />

14 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

DECEMBER 7, 2011<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772<br />

Delectable Dairy<br />

Etty’s Chanukah Menu<br />

Includes Irresistable Recipes Like This<br />

Better Than Snickers Bar Dessert<br />

You’re Invited<br />

Watch Your Children Delight<br />

at Victoria Dwek’s Chanukah Party<br />

Plus! Easy Ideas for Your Own Party

- Yves St. Laurent<br />

<br />

up<br />

to 50% off<br />

select merchandise<br />

Sunday to Thursday 11 – 6<br />

718.305.1680<br />

4723 Seventeenth Avenue<br />

(entrance on 48th Street)

Dear Readers,<br />

I am so excited to bring you “Pastry School with Paula Shoyer,” a<br />

monthly column where you won’t only enjoy tantalizing sweet recipes—<br />

you’ll also learn technique and the secrets behind successful pastry.<br />

The other night, at my son’s PTA, my friend Esther Dayon told me that<br />

she is cooking through Paula’s cookbook, The Kosher Baker. She said that<br />

every recipe of Paula’s is foolproof because, when she writes a recipe, she<br />

is descriptive and walks the at-home baker through every step. Baking<br />

is a science—and unclear directions can easily result in a flop. When you<br />

recreate Paula’s recipes in your own home, you won’t only emerge with a<br />

delicious dessert—you’ll emerge a better baker. Enjoy! -Victoria Dwek<br />

Pastry<br />

School<br />

<br />

<br />

Perfect<br />

Learn the technique of frying the crispiest,<br />

grease-free, most delectable doughnut holes<br />

Deep Frying<br />

I know I am not alone in saving my annual indulgence of fried food for Chanukah.<br />

Who am I to break with tradition? The truth is, if cooked correctly, fried food and<br />

desserts do not have to be heavy and greasy. As for all desserts, eating in moderation<br />

is key, which means that your small portion better taste really good, which is why I<br />

created the chocolate-hazelnut dipping sauce for my doughnut holes.<br />

The science behind deep frying is that if the oil is the proper temperature, then<br />

only the outside of the food is actually fried. The frying seals the outside layer and<br />

doesn’t allow the oil to penetrate the inside. If the oil temperature isn’t high enough,<br />

it cannot form the exterior seal and the food absorbs the oil, leaving you with a greasy<br />

taste. If the oil is too hot, then the outside burns before the inside is fully cooked.<br />

If you follow the deep-frying tips below (which apply to sweet and savory foods<br />

alike), you will have perfect doughnut holes that have a nice golden exterior and a<br />

fluffy, bread-like middle. Then go ahead and dip them in the sauce for a candy-bar<br />

experience.<br />

CHOOSE THE CORRECT OIL. The best oils<br />

to use are those that have a high smoke<br />

point, the point at which oil breaks down,<br />

starts to smoke and deteriorates both in<br />

<br />

<br />

can be heated to the high temperatures required<br />

for deep-frying without exceeding<br />

the smoke point. I prefer to use canola oil<br />

because it is low in saturated fat, and does<br />

not lend its own taste to the food you are<br />

frying, as peanut oil does.<br />

You will need<br />

a saucepan that can hold 2 inches of oil.<br />

Your saucepan must also have 2 inches of<br />

space above the oil because, once you add<br />

food to the oil, the oil will bubble up. I use<br />

a medium-sized saucepan.<br />

The<br />

right temperature is the key to successful<br />

frying. You need to buy a simple candy<br />

<br />

supermarkets. The ideal temperature range<br />

is between 360°F- 375°F. Check the temperature<br />

between batches and adjust the<br />

<br />

Like people, fried<br />

<br />

you fry too many pieces at one time, then<br />

they are likely to stick together and the<br />

temperature of the oil will also drop down<br />

too far. For these doughnut holes (and<br />

when frying vegetables), 6 - 8 pieces are<br />

optimum, for larger doughnuts fry no more<br />

than 4 at a time.<br />

For<br />

safety reasons, do not drop doughnuts or<br />

other food into the oil from more than a<br />

half-inch above the oil or it will splatter<br />

and may burn you. Treat them tenderly and<br />

place carefully into the oil.<br />

You need to babysit frying<br />

food as you would a newborn. Do not go<br />

anywhere while deep frying anything. Your<br />

food, and especially these little doughnut<br />

holes, can go from golden to burned in<br />

seconds.<br />

I set up a<br />

cooling rack over a cookie sheet covered<br />

<br />

remove fried food, let excess oil drip into<br />

the saucepan, and then place on the rack.<br />

<br />

best eaten as soon as cool enough to<br />

touch, but these doughnuts are still tasty<br />

many hours later. You can always reheat<br />

them in a 250°F to 300°F oven or the microwave<br />

oven.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | WHISK | 11

Pastry<br />

School<br />

<br />

<br />

Doughnut Holes with Gianduja Dipping Sauce<br />

Gianduja is an Italian chocolate made with hazelnut paste. In this sauce, you toast and grind up the hazelnuts yourself to<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

back into a ball and let rest for 10 minutes.<br />

<br />

<br />


¼ ounce active dry yeast<br />

¾ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided<br />

¾ cup pareve plain soy milk<br />

4 tablespoons pareve margarine<br />

2 large eggs<br />

1 teaspoon salt<br />

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract<br />

<br />

for sprinkling<br />

4 - 5 cups canola or vegetable oil<br />

(amount depends on the size of your<br />

saucepan)<br />

½ cup additional sugar for rolling<br />

doughnuts<br />

<br />

2.<br />

margarine, eggs, salt, vanilla, and 3 cups<br />

<br />

spoon or with a dough hook in a stand mixer.<br />

<br />

3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the<br />

<br />

in, and see if the dough is smooth and not<br />

sticky. If the dough remains sticky, mix in the<br />

<br />

<br />

5.<br />

<br />

<br />

circles and place on the prepared cookie<br />

sheets.<br />

1. To make the doughnuts, in a large bowl,<br />

place the yeast, ¼ cup warm water, and 1<br />

teaspoon of the sugar and stir. Let sit 10<br />

minutes.<br />

4. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise<br />

for 1 hour in a warm place. I use a warming<br />

drawer on a low setting, or you can turn your<br />

oven to its lowest setting, place the bowl in<br />

6.<br />

back in a warm place—a warming drawer<br />

on low or in the oven (turn the oven on its<br />

lowest setting again for 5 minutes, then turn<br />

<br />

12 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

Pastry<br />

School<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

SAUCE<br />

½ cup whole hazelnuts<br />

6 ounces pareve bittersweet chocolate<br />

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar<br />

7. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a medium<br />

saucepan until it reaches 365°F on a candy<br />

thermometer. You may need to adjust the<br />

<br />

<br />

8. Take out a cookie sheet and cover with foil.<br />

<br />

stovetop.<br />

9.<br />

<br />

chopsticks to turn the doughnut over and<br />

cook another 45 seconds.<br />

10. Remove using a slotted spoon and place<br />

on the wire rack to cool.<br />

Repeat for all the doughnuts, checking the<br />

oil temperature in between batches. Roll the<br />

doughnuts, a few at a time, in the remaining<br />

¼ cup sugar and serve.<br />

Paula Shoyer is the author of <br />

Trendy. She teaches cooking and baking classes around the country and recently appeared<br />

. She can be found at www.paulaspastry.com. You can<br />

enjoy this column, Pastry School with Paula Shoyer, every month in Whisk.<br />

<br />

°F.<br />

<br />

baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or<br />

until nuts are browned and fragrant. Shake<br />

the pan after 10 minutes. Let cool a minimum<br />

of 10 minutes. I sometimes toast them the<br />

day before. Rub the nuts with your hands to<br />

remove as much of the skin as you can and<br />

discard the skin pieces.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

like peanut butter and sticks to the sides of<br />

the bowl. Melt the chocolate over a double<br />

<br />

about 1 minute, or until mixture is smooth.<br />

<br />

thoroughly combined. Serve alongside the<br />

doughnuts for dipping. Store covered at room<br />

temperature and stir before serving. If the<br />

sauce starts to get too thick the next day,<br />

reheat the sauce in microwave oven for 45<br />

seconds and stir until smooth.<br />

Yield: 75 doughnut holes<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | WHISK | 13

A personal journal<br />

A Family Like This<br />

By Gitty Gold<br />

LAST WEEK: Gitty came to the realization that things weren’t going well. The older<br />

girls confided in their school principal, telling him how much they dislike their new<br />

stepmother. The situation continued to deteriorate.<br />

September 1996<br />

CHAPTER six<br />

Iwas grateful for the calm and the quiet that would allow<br />

us to discuss the sensitive issue of this coming Shabbos<br />

without undue pressure, and as two sensible adults. I<br />

was still clueless as to why the children had not come<br />

home today, and I wanted to know why it had been<br />

decided (behind my back) that baby Nati was staying in<br />

Yerushalayim for Shabbos.<br />

Nachum did not respond immediately. He appeared<br />

downcast, fidgeting with his beard and rocking in his chair<br />

as though he were learning. I too was tense and uneasy,<br />

still under the spell of my dream. I began to speak first,<br />

choosing my words carefully. While I did not wish to<br />

offend Nachum, who was extremely sensitive, I did want to<br />

sound firm. One thing I wanted to make clear at the outset:<br />

I was not responsible for the death of his first wife, even<br />

though the children were likely to see me as such; they felt<br />

as though she had to go in order to make room for me. The<br />

children had to be told that this way of thinking was totally<br />

incorrect.<br />

I explained to Nachum that I completely understood<br />

the older girls finding it difficult to accept my presence,<br />

especially Mindel, the oldest. The age gap between the<br />

two of us was only 14 years. She had been the closest to<br />

her mother; they were confidantes and friends. When her<br />

mother passed away, she became the mother figure at home.<br />

Now, before the children even had a chance to recover, I<br />

had come to take their mother’s place.<br />

As parents, Nachum and I needed to set an example by<br />

demonstrating good middos and self-control. I had to move<br />

beyond my normal pettiness and not be hurt by their barbs.<br />

At the same time, the children had to be taught that the<br />

mitzvah of honoring parents includes your father’s wife. For<br />

that I needed Nachum. If he would stand by me and defend<br />

my honor, and if we would put up a united front, we would<br />

succeed. Decisions could not be made impulsively, without<br />

consulting one another. It was necessary to exercise the<br />

utmost care and consideration so there would be no regrets.<br />

In addition, it was imperative that we decide on one<br />

mentor we both respect (not a family member!) who could<br />

guide us objectively in times of doubt. I promised to do my<br />

best not to be overly assertive, and to mother his children in<br />

the same way I would want someone else to treat my own.<br />

I reminded him of how thoroughly he had checked my<br />

“credentials” before agreeing to meet me. If he had approved<br />

of me then, he must stand by me now.<br />

I felt that our conversation had been very productive.<br />

I had kept my calm throughout. That evening, Nachum<br />

missed kollel for the first time in his married life (except for<br />

when he was sitting shiva), but it couldn’t be helped. What<br />

was at stake was too important to ignore. When I was done<br />

speaking, Nachum filled me in on everything that had<br />

transpired that day, and told me about the meeting at the<br />

32 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

principal’s home.<br />

I was devastated. All the wind had been let out of my<br />

sails. I felt all my previous satisfaction fade away. What a<br />

shame that this part of the conversation had not taken place<br />

earlier! I fell apart. Hot, scalding tears ran down my face.<br />

I cried like a baby. I was so hurt, I felt as if I were being<br />

rubbed with sandpaper in an effort to see how sensitive<br />

my nerves were. I, Gitty, who had tried to live a dignified<br />

and independent life, the daughter of a maggid shiur, whose<br />

mother was famous and successful in her own right, who<br />

had bravely left the chassidus of my father in favor of a<br />

life of selflessness—now found myself in the lions’ den. It<br />

seemed that I would have to struggle—planning my battles,<br />

strategies, and defense tactics—just to stay alive. This was<br />

not the way things were supposed to be.<br />

When my tears were<br />

spent, we decided to<br />

let the matter drop<br />

until after Shabbos.<br />

In the meanwhile,<br />

we would greet the<br />

children as though<br />

nothing had happened.<br />

I needed to speak to a<br />

gadol b’Yisrael as soon<br />

as possible. I needed<br />

advice on to how to<br />

move forward, and<br />

for someone to tell<br />

me how much I was<br />

capable of handling.<br />

Nachum called his<br />

parents and told the children to come home. Gitty asked<br />

to be allowed to stay for the night but Nachum said no,<br />

insisting that everyone return home. I was pleased that<br />

Nachum had been firm. I was not looking for victories,<br />

but felt that we had to get everybody back under one roof.<br />

Inwardly, I prayed for success in projecting a united front<br />

not just in front of the children but also before the extended<br />

family, until that day when it would no longer be a “front”<br />

and we would truly be united, of one mind and one heart.<br />

I looked over at Nachum, with his kind eyes, wrinkles,<br />

and shoulders that seem to sag a little, and I was hopeful.<br />

I knew that we could and would do it. One day we would<br />

look back and be proud.<br />

Later that evening I called my mother and told her that I<br />

had had a rough day, and she should go get another bracha<br />

from the Rebbe for our continued success.<br />

The children came home. I settled the younger ones while<br />

the older girls got their school things ready for the next day.<br />

I pretended not to hear as Yaakov explained to Yitzchak<br />

that “she” was not really like their mother, but rather Abba<br />

had taken her to be like a servant so he could continue to<br />

learn Torah. Now that their sister Gitty was getting married<br />

“she” would do all the washing and the cooking.<br />

Yitzchak asked if that’s why Abba hadn’t gone to learn<br />

that evening. Yaakov didn’t have a reply.<br />

At 10 o’clock that night Nachum and I went to meet<br />

the school principal. I heard firsthand how the girls had<br />

released all their tension and anger of the last few months<br />

by venting and fuming against me. The principal was a wise,<br />

experienced man who believed that time would be a great<br />

healer. He warned me<br />

against getting into<br />

I had to move beyond my normal pettiness<br />

and not be hurt by their barbs. At the<br />

same time, the children had to be taught<br />

thathe mitzvah of honoring parents<br />

includes your father’s wife.<br />

direct confrontation<br />

with them.<br />

The principal gave<br />

us encouragement, and<br />

agreed that a united<br />

front was of utmost<br />

importance. He quoted<br />

a number of Torah<br />

sources to prove his<br />

point. He also advised<br />

me to go back to work<br />

as soon as possible.<br />

“It is unhealthy for<br />

the children to see you<br />

doing housework all<br />

day. It will only reinforce the belief that you were brought<br />

into the family to serve their needs. They must all have<br />

specific chores, and they must treat you with respect.”<br />

Before we left he took a look at my own Chani’s report<br />

cards, and agreed to accept her into the school after<br />

Chanukah. Leah Gold and Chani would be in the same<br />

grade but in parallel classes. In addition, he asked me<br />

to send him recommendations from my former school<br />

in case there was a job vacancy. Although he gave no<br />

guarantees for a position, I left feeling encouraged. I saw<br />

him as an ally who would do all in his power to help us<br />

succeed.<br />

We returned home exhausted but optimistic. n<br />

To be continued...<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | | 33

You’re Invited<br />

to My<br />

Chanukah<br />


Party<br />

14 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

I love entertaining—and<br />

I am one of those crazy people<br />

who doesn’t let anyone take a menu item<br />

off my hands. Though I’ve relaxed a bit over the<br />

last year or so (just a bit!), I like menus to be very wellplanned<br />

and coordinated. Pot luck is not for me.<br />

Last year, though, Chanukah coincided with the launch of Ami<br />

Magazine. If I slept in those days, it was a luxury…so no party there<br />

would be. But, when my sisters-in-law asked if my home could be the<br />

venue for the family Chanukah party and said that they’d bring all the<br />

food—I was thrilled. The party would be brunch time on Sunday—so that<br />

everyone could enjoy, and then arrive back home in time to light the menorah. I<br />

wouldn’t have to travel to Lakewood or cook? No problem!<br />

I picked up an ice cream cake from Sprinkles in Boro Park after leaving work<br />

one day (it was freezing outside and the owner promised me it wouldn’t melt<br />

before I got to Deal…if I didn’t put on the heat in the car), and had the party<br />

come to me.<br />

One sister-in-law, who wasn’t involved in the planning, was shocked, “Why<br />

did Vikki let us bring food this time?” Because it wasn’t my party!<br />

This year, though, I am going to be the hostess. I want my children and all<br />

my nieces and nephews to have the best time ever—and for the adults to<br />

feel like kids again too. I planned a day full of fun Chanukah activities, fun<br />

décor that can’t help but put everyone in a good mood, and a menu full<br />

of dairy Whisk recipes from throughout the year.<br />

I planned this party for Whisk readers so that anyone can<br />

easily implement any of the ideas you see here. Everything is<br />

inexpensive and accessible at craft stores.<br />

But for today, you don’t need to cook anything.<br />

Just come, enjoy, and be my guest.

If your children are like mine, they hardly sit at a table<br />

and eat a bite before they run off and find something that’s<br />

more fun to do. But when there are crayons at their place<br />

setting, the fun is at the table. Little crayon cello bags<br />

double as napkin rings on this table. Use a paper tablecloth<br />

or cover the kids’ table at your party with oaktags or giant<br />

coloring pages so they can color while they eat—and give<br />

the adults a chance to sit and enjoy the meal as well.<br />

To create a fun surface, I lined up paper squares in different<br />

patterns. On the buffet and adult table, these paper<br />

squares will serve as the table runner. Should I match<br />

everything in turquoise, or use a different bright color on<br />

each table? Either way works!<br />

16 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

Flowers die, and<br />

toys…well I can’t<br />

say that they last<br />

much longer. But<br />

they do make a<br />

cute centerpiece!<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | WHISK | 17

A<br />

B<br />

A<br />

B<br />

C<br />

D<br />

E<br />

B<br />

If I were a kid, I would think it has to be more<br />

fun to get a little bag of jelly beans sealed with a<br />

cute sticker than to just grab some from a bowl. As<br />

a mommy, I’m thinking, maybe fewer will end up<br />

on the floor? And there won’t be any fights that one<br />

child got more candy than another? And maybe<br />

they’ll want to save their little bag of jelly beans for<br />

later and we won’t end up with super-hyper kids by<br />

the end of the day? I’m dreaming, right?<br />

Want to know the secret to easy and delicious cake<br />

pops? To save the step of baking and crumbling a<br />

cake, I use a Babycakes cake pop maker. Cake balls<br />

bake in three minutes, and it’s a cinch to dip them in<br />

chocolate. Now for the delicious part. Since candy<br />

melts aren’t available chalav Yisrael, and colored<br />

baking bars don’t taste nearly as good as real chocolate—skip<br />

the colors and just use the best quality bittersweet<br />

chocolate you can find. I only use Alprose or<br />

Scharffen Berger. You can give them a punch of color<br />

using sprinkles. These shiny blue sprinkles are made<br />

by Wilton, who offers a huge variety certified by the<br />

CRC. They are very accessible, including at The Peppermill<br />

in Brooklyn.<br />

First—I love these huge latex balloons. They’re<br />

the giant 16-inch size—never mind the kids, they<br />

even get me excited. Every child loves balloons, and<br />

I thought it would be extra fun if each one received a<br />

balloon with a personalized bag attached (just keep<br />

extra balloons in the bedroom…avoid those tears<br />

when one pops or flies away). I’m going to attach<br />

empty bags to my balloons. This way, each child has<br />

a place to keep all the treats and prizes they’ll collect<br />

throughout the day.<br />

I pinned these mini donuts and cake pops onto a<br />

foam board. It’s another fun way to display the treats<br />

before they’re consumed.<br />

Who will win the dreidel tournament? One of the<br />

best parts of the game of dreidel is that older children<br />

and teenagers don’t have an advantage over the<br />

younger ones. It doesn’t matter how well you spin<br />

it, just where it lands! When they arrive at my party,<br />

every child (or adult if they want to play too!) will receive<br />

a bag with the same amount of fake money and<br />

gelt to use in the dreidel tournament (if they eat the<br />

gelt, they just have fewer chances to win). We’ll divide<br />

everyone up into groups of four to compete…winners<br />

will advance to the quarterfinals, the semifinals, and<br />

finally…the finals. At the end of the day, there will be<br />

one grand dreidel champion (although everyone will<br />

get a prize, of course).<br />

18 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

C<br />

E<br />

D<br />

F<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | WHISK | 19

20 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

Have Fun<br />

at Our Dreidel<br />

Factory!<br />

At my son’s upsherin, I set up a craft<br />

room where children could keep busy and<br />

have fun making Purim-themed projects,<br />

since his birthday is Rosh Chodesh Adar.<br />

It was a hit! At my Chanukah party, we’re<br />

going to have a dreidel factory. <strong>Jewish</strong>crafts.com<br />

has projects ready-to-go, or you<br />

can purchase your own wooden pieces.<br />

Amazingly, the standard wooden parts<br />

available at craft stores (shown here) make<br />

great dreidels. Cubes work as the body of<br />

the dreidel, doll heads for the bottom, and<br />

pegs for the top. Wheels (shown on the<br />

right) make a great dreidel stand. Markers<br />

and glitter pens (washable only!), mosaic<br />

tiles, sequins, rhinestones, foam pieces,<br />

and pom poms are some of the ways to<br />

decorate. If you can’t find foam Hebrew<br />

letters, print out nuns, gimmels, heys, and<br />

shins from the computer or let the kids<br />

just draw their own.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | WHISK | 21

NOVEMBER 23, 2011<br />

26 CHESHVAN, 5772<br />


Shifrah Devorah Witt and<br />

Zipporah Malka Heller<br />

Go South with The Best of<br />

Mexican Kosher Cooking<br />


11 kislev, 5772<br />

december 7, 2011<br />

Features<br />

18 The Clean Bill<br />

Dangerous Choices<br />

Not vaccinating your children is<br />

more than a personal preference.<br />

How the anti-immunization<br />

<br />

By Sarah Perl<br />

26 For the Sake of My Daughter<br />

After 13 months in solitary<br />

<br />

extradition for a crime she didn’t<br />

commit. Will justice prevail?<br />

By Chaya Silber<br />

Departments<br />

8 Parsha<br />

By Batya Channa Shevach<br />

9 Golden Nuggets<br />

By Adele Jacobs<br />

10 Bytes<br />

By Chaya Silber<br />

12 Truth or Consequences<br />

<br />

made a terrible mistake. Yikes!<br />

By Ratzy Szimonowitz<br />

32 A Family Like This<br />

Gitty and Nachum resolve to put up<br />

a united front.<br />

By Gitty Gold<br />

34 Our Days<br />

A literary compilation.<br />

38 Here & Now<br />

By Sarah Shapiro<br />

26<br />

14<br />

in Whisk<br />

18<br />

Inside<br />

Whisk<br />

2 Manna<br />

Dinner is Dairy!<br />

Treat your Chanukah party<br />

guests with sumptuous dairy<br />

dishes like Sour Cream Apple<br />

Pie, Linguine with White<br />

Wine Sauce, Better Than<br />

Snickers Pie, and More.<br />

By Etty Deutsch<br />

10 Pastry School with<br />

Paula Shoyer<br />

New Column!<br />

Learn the techniques of<br />

perfect frying and enjoy<br />

delicious doughnuts with<br />

chocolate hazelnut dipping<br />

sauce.<br />

By Paula Shoyer<br />

14 You’re Invited to a<br />

Chanukah Party<br />

Be my guest in the pages of<br />

Whisk, and bring these easy<br />

party ideas into your own<br />

home.<br />

By Victoria Dwek<br />

22 Food Currents<br />

By Racheli Sofer<br />

Soup Season<br />

Etty Deutsch Warms the<br />

Table with Beef Bourguignon,<br />

Tomato Vodka, and the Best<br />

Chicken Soup yet.<br />


<br />

4 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

DearReaders<br />

<br />

Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter<br />

Editorial<br />

<br />

Rechy Frankfurter<br />

<br />

Rabbi Avi Shafran<br />

<br />

<br />

Yossi Krausz<br />

<br />

Yitta Halberstam Mandelbaum<br />

<br />

Toby Worch<br />

<br />

<br />

Sarah Shapiro<br />

Art<br />

Art Director<br />

Alex Katalkin<br />

Junior Art Director<br />

Joy Yih<br />

Food<br />

<br />

<br />

Advertising<br />

Executive Account Manager<br />

Zack Blumenfeld<br />

Executive Sales Directors<br />

Frumi Meisels<br />

Surie Katz<br />

<br />

Sarah Sternstein<br />

<br />

Malky Friedman<br />

Markowitz Distribution<br />

917-202-3973<br />

646-247-0262<br />

Ami Magazine<br />

P: 718-534-8800<br />

F: 718-484-7731<br />

info@amimagazine.org<br />

Ami Magazine. Published by Mezoogmag LLC. All rights<br />

reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form<br />

without prior written permission from the publisher is<br />

prohibited. The publisher reserves the right to edit all<br />

articles for clarity, space, and editorial sensitivities. Ami<br />

Magazine assumes no responsibility for the content of<br />

advertisements in the publication, nor for the contents of<br />

books that are referred to or excerpted herein.<br />

At a recent simcha that was long in coming, a friend of mine urged me,<br />

“Write about the miracle that happened tonight. Let people feel encouraged that<br />

miracles really do happen.”<br />

I’ve been thinking about it all week.<br />

About miracles and our daily lives<br />

And the miracle of our daily lives.<br />

How much of a separation is there between the two?<br />

Is a simcha more miraculous because there was an interminable wait and yearning<br />

for it? The end result is, after all, the same: a shidduch is made, a child is born.<br />

simcha from another as a “miracle”?<br />

Last night I visited someone dear in the hospital. Each time I walk into a hospital,<br />

I am struck by the thought that by just stepping over the threshold of a<br />

<br />

a world unto its own. It has its own language, its own hierarchy, its own rhythm.<br />

Its denizens may have—as recently as that morning—been blithely going about<br />

their business, enjoying life, yet by nightfall found themselves thrust into this<br />

alternate universe of medicine and healing, at the mercy of and often totally<br />

dependent on others.<br />

<br />

able to live in the “outside world” suddenly seems like a miracle.<br />

In this issueer<br />

whose world, for the last few years, has consisted of prison and injustice. One,<br />

<br />

<br />

But then again, why is it a miracle if the courts realize that an injustice has been<br />

done?<br />

There is a famous story of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, who once answered<br />

the question “Isn’t Hashem everywhere?” with the simple reply, “Yes,<br />

Hashem is everywhere you let Him in.”<br />

it is with miracles: Although they are all around us, much depends<br />

on our willingness and openness to perceive them.<br />

Let’s let them in.<br />

May the prism through which we view the good in our daily lives be a kaleidoscope<br />

of miracles. So that every time a shidduch is made, or a baby is born—not<br />

only after years in shidduchim, or time spent dealing with infertility—we experience<br />

the simcha with the same profound joy for what it is: a miracle just the<br />

same.<br />

Rechy Frankfurter<br />

rechy@amimagazine.org<br />

4 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

Food Currents<br />

By Racheli Sofer<br />

Is It Safe to Drink?<br />

IApparently, it’s not just all the added sugar<br />

that is scaring parents away from apple<br />

juice. In their effort to substantiate Dr.<br />

Oz’s claim that apple juices contain arsenic,<br />

Consumer Reports tested<br />

almost 100 brands of apple and<br />

grape juice and found Dr.<br />

Oz’s shocking statement to<br />

be true: the juice bottles had<br />

higher levels of arsenic than<br />

federal regulations allow for<br />

bottled water. The researchers<br />

also found the juices to contain<br />

unacceptable levels of lead.<br />

Kiwi Cuts<br />

Blood<br />

Pressure<br />

According to a new<br />

study, all it might take<br />

is three kiwis a day<br />

to keep high blood<br />

pressure away. Men<br />

and women with mildly high<br />

blood pressure who ate three<br />

kiwi fruits a day for eight weeks<br />

had systolic blood pressure<br />

levels that were 3.6 millimeters<br />

of mercury lower than those of<br />

volunteers who ate an apple a<br />

day. Cardiologists were quick<br />

<br />

preliminary. Don’t stop taking<br />

your medication just yet….<br />

SNACK<br />

MORE,<br />


Doesn’t snacking put on the<br />

pounds? Not according to a new<br />

study published in the Journal<br />

of the American Dietetic Association.<br />

The researchers of this study found<br />

that people who are overweight tend<br />

to eat fewer times a day than people who<br />

are of normal weight. This is attributed to the<br />

fact that even though overweight people eat less<br />

often, they consume more calories each time they eat<br />

<br />

researchers found that, generally, the overweight people<br />

who participated in the study ate three meals and just over a<br />

snack a day, while the normal-weight participants ate three meals and<br />

just over two snacks a day. Sounds like grazing isn’t such a bad idea<br />

after all…<br />


Add a large raw<br />

carrot to the hot oil<br />

in your pan before<br />

you start frying those<br />

latkes. The carrot will<br />

absorb all the brown<br />

pieces, leaving<br />

you with picture<br />

perfect latkes, and<br />

a pan full of oil that<br />

doesn’t need to be<br />

repeatedly replaced.<br />

22 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772


DIY<br />

Crème Fraiche<br />

Like sour cream, only richer and sweeter, crème fraiche<br />

is the perfect ingredient for so many of your milchig<br />

Chankuah dishes and treats. Whip it and serve over any<br />

dessert, or use it as a decadent thickener for soups and<br />

sauces in place of heavy cream.<br />

This luxurious dairy product that is unique for its rich<br />

and velvety texture is considered a staple in finer French<br />

cooking. Not so fast—it isn’t so readily available in kosher<br />

supermarkets. Fortunately, you can easily make it yourself:<br />

In a small pot, heat 1 cup heavy cream over low heat until<br />

it reaches room temperature, and pour into a Tupperware<br />

container.<br />

Add 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or milk with a pinch of<br />

vinegar, that has thickened), and the zest of one lemon; stir.<br />

Keep in a warm place near your stove or in a bowl filled<br />

with warm water for up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.<br />

Refrigerate for 24 hours. Your homemade crème<br />

fraiche will keep for seven to 10 days refrigerated.<br />

Kitchen Lab<br />

Did you ever look up at that pile of<br />

peeled potatoes, waiting on your counter<br />

to be grated and fried into delicious<br />

latkes, only to discover that they’ve turned<br />

pink?<br />

Inside every potato there are little<br />

pockets of phenols—an acidic chemical<br />

compound—that are surrounded by<br />

enzymes. When you cut into a potato,<br />

you damage the cell walls, unleashing<br />

the phenols and enzymes that undergo<br />

a chemical reaction when exposed to<br />

oxygen, turning the potato surface pink.<br />

This is the same chemical reaction that<br />

causes fruits to turn brown and mushy.<br />

So, how do you keep your potatoes<br />

from blushing?<br />

First, use a sharp knife—it causes less<br />

damage to the cell walls. And, keep your<br />

peeled spuds soaking in freezing cold<br />

water while they wait their turn in the<br />

food processor. Cold water cuts down<br />

contact between the potato cells and<br />

oxygen, creating a temporary seal over the<br />

cut surface.<br />


The spot where Whisk readers share their own recipes.<br />

1. Marinate sliced baby bella mushrooms with a sprinkle of<br />

Billybee teriyaki sauce for several hours.<br />

2. Sauté chopped garlic and the marinated mushrooms in<br />

olive oil.<br />

3. Meanwhile, steam green beans about 4 minutes. They<br />

should remain crisp and bright green.<br />

4. Shock in cold water.<br />

5. Combine mushrooms and pan drippings with green<br />

beans.<br />

6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.<br />

Thank you to Manya Kanner for this sophisticated side dish that’s<br />

perfect for an elegant Chanukah meal.

It’s here! This week, a package with<br />

a secret ingredient arrived at the<br />

homes of our favorite columnists<br />

and cookbook authors.<br />

Now they’re busy creating special<br />

recipes for you.<br />

Stay tuned...

THE CLEAN BILL // Real People on the Quest for Health

Dangerous<br />


Choices<br />

What the anti-immunization movement doesn’t want you to know<br />

It was 3:00 A.M. when my pager went off. I stumbled<br />

out of bed, wondering if it was going to be another<br />

mother of a cranky baby, and made my way to the<br />

study to return the call. It was Mrs. Gould, and she was<br />

sobbing into the phone. I found this to be alarming;<br />

Mrs. Gould is generally a very calm mother.<br />

“Mrs. Gould, what is it?” I asked.<br />

“My four-month-old son, Eli. He hasn’t been feeling well<br />

for a few days now. We are up in the Catskills in our country<br />

house. I took him to a local pediatrician who said that it’s<br />

probably a virus, and we should wait it out. But I just went in to<br />

check on him, and he’s very lethargic and vomiting. I took his<br />

temperature, and it’s 105.4!”<br />

As she spoke, I had a niggling feeling that there was<br />

something important I should be remembering. I racked my<br />

sleep-deprived brain, trying to remember. Suddenly I snapped<br />

awake.<br />

“Mrs. Gould,” I said, “your children are not vaccinated,<br />

correct?”<br />

“I know, Dr. Rosenberg, I know! But, please. It’s three o’clock<br />

in the morning, and my son is very sick. This is not the time for<br />

another lecture on vaccinations!”<br />

“You’re right, but because your child is not vaccinated, we<br />

have to consider much more serious possibilities.”<br />

<br />

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and<br />

Prevention), the use of vaccinations is “perhaps the greatest<br />

success story in public health…. Routine immunization<br />

has eradicated smallpox from the globe and led to the near<br />

elimination of wild polio virus. Vaccines have reduced some<br />

preventable infectious diseases to an all-time low, and now, few<br />

people experience the devastating effects of measles, pertussis,<br />

and other illnesses.”<br />

According to research by The Children’s Hospital of<br />

Philadelphia (CHOP), before the widespread use of<br />

vaccinations, each year in the United States, parents could<br />

expect polio to paralyze 10,000 children; rubella to cause<br />

birth defects and mental retardation in as many as 20,000<br />

newborns; measles to infect about four million children, killing<br />

3,000; Haemophilus influenza (Hib) to cause meningitis in<br />

15,000 children, leaving many with permanent brain damage;<br />

and whooping cough (pertussis) to kill thousands of infants.<br />

Therefore, vaccines have “literally transformed the landscape of<br />

medicine over the course of the 20th century.”<br />

Despite the powerful impact vaccines have had on public<br />

health, there are still parents who choose not to vaccinate<br />

their children. These parents believe they are acting with<br />

their children’s best interests in mind. But they often obtain<br />

their information from sources that are flawed, rather than<br />

from proven scientific findings. Much of the anti-vaccination<br />

movement is driven by cynicism toward the government and<br />

“greedy” pharmaceutical industries, and publicizes its theories<br />

through sensational stories in the media. The vast majority<br />

of health care professionals agree that it is misinformation<br />

that confuses parents who choose not to vaccinate their<br />

children, and that prevents them from making sound medical<br />

decisions.<br />

Children have no say in their own immunizations; their<br />

parents are the ones making the choice. It is precisely for this<br />

reason that many doctors have stepped in to advocate for them.<br />

For, as science has come increasingly under attack by the antivaccination<br />

movement, it is the children who have become the<br />

victims.<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | | 17

THE CLEAN BILL // Real People on the Quest for Health<br />


CASE A:<br />

<br />

One afternoon, Mr. Hertz came in with his teenaged daughter,<br />

Leahle, for what he thought was just a “plain old-fashioned<br />

cough” that had been lingering for awhile. I checked his<br />

daughter thoroughly.<br />

“It’s seems like it’s just a virus,” I said. “Her lungs sound<br />

normal, so let’s give it some time. If it gets worse, please come<br />

back to see me.”<br />

“Thanks,” said Mr. Hertz. “You know me, Dr. Rosenberg. I’m<br />

not the paranoid type; I don’t usually come running in at the<br />

first possible sign of illness, but my new grandchild is coming<br />

tonight! My oldest daughter just had her first child, and will be<br />

moving in with us for awhile. My wife is really excited. She’s<br />

been preparing for weeks!”<br />

“Mazel tov! May you see lots of nachas from the new baby,” I<br />

said as I leafed through Leahle’s chart. I froze when I came to<br />

her vaccination record.<br />

“Your daughter never received the DTap booster shot, correct?”<br />

I asked Mr. Hertz.<br />

“Oh, that one!” he answered. “Yeah, well, she’ll get it eventually.<br />

We like to take it easy with the vaccinations. We don’t want to<br />

bombard our children with too many shots at once. Eventually<br />

we do get to everything.…”<br />

“But she has not yet received the DTap vaccination?”<br />

“No, she has not. But Dr. Rosenberg, I’m in a rush to get<br />

home. Can we please discuss this a different time? Our new<br />

grandchild will be arriving soon.”<br />

“No. Your new grandchild will not be arriving soon,” I<br />

corrected him.<br />

Mr. Hertz seemed confused.<br />

“Since your daughter was not vaccinated, we cannot rule out<br />

whooping cough. I understand that you plan to vaccinate her<br />

for that in the future. But the life-threatening illnesses that<br />

the vaccinations protect us against do not recognize parents’<br />

intentions. Good intentions offer no protection.”<br />

Mr. Hertz sighed as he took out his cell phone. “Don’t you<br />

think you are being too alarmist, Dr. Rosenberg? Isn’t whooping<br />

cough something from the Dark Ages?<br />

“Not quite,” I answered. “Because of children who haven’t been<br />

vaccinated, pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has made<br />

a comeback. According the CDC, last year there were 27,550<br />

cases of whooping cough in the U.S. Twenty-seven people died,<br />

including 25 infants under the age of one.”<br />

“So my daughter can’t bring the new baby into our home?” He<br />

glanced at his watch. “She’s supposed to be arriving any minute.<br />

What are we supposed to do?”<br />

“Mr. Hertz, under no circumstances should she be allowed<br />

into your house. Your daughter may have already contracted<br />

whooping cough,” I answered firmly.<br />

I asked him to wait a minute while I found a copy of a<br />

newspaper article I wanted him to read. His face paled when he<br />

saw the headline: “Whooping Cough Kills Palm Beach County<br />

Infant; Health Officials Urge Vaccination.”<br />

“As for your daughter, we will have to monitor the situation<br />

carefully. In the meantime, she must have no contact with the<br />

new baby. This is very critical. Remember, the best way to protect<br />

newborn babies who are too young to be vaccinated is by making<br />

sure that the people around them are vaccinated. The rest of your<br />

children should receive this vaccination at once.”<br />

“Okay,” said Mr. Hertz, “But my wife isn’t going to be happy.”<br />

“Happier than if her new grandchild became a statistic, G-d<br />

forbid.”<br />

<br />

Infants are more susceptible to infection than older children.<br />

If an adolescent or adult contracts whooping cough, it causes<br />

a severe cough that generally lasts for three months. In infants,<br />

however, it can be fatal. That is why it is recommended that<br />

babies be immunized at the first possible opportunity.<br />

Unfortunately, some parents ignore the recommended<br />

schedule. I remind my patients that the immunization schedule<br />

was formulated by medical researchers and experts, based on<br />

years of scientific investigation and constant monitoring for<br />

the benefit of infants and children. Based on years of scientific<br />

data, it is constantly being updated to reflect current research.<br />

Deviation from the recommended schedule at the whim of a<br />

misinformed parent can have devastating consequences.<br />

Regarding the argument against timely vaccinations “that<br />

vaccines overwhelm the immune system,” it is important to note<br />

that vaccines have drastically decreased the occurrence of many<br />

diseases and their complications. Vaccines accomplish this by<br />

strengthening the immune system, not weakening it. Any person<br />

who has ever seen a child in an I.C.U., suffering the devastating<br />

effects of severe bacterial meningitis, knows what a child with an<br />

overwhelmed immune system looks like. The vaccines we give<br />

our children do not have the ability to overwhelm the immune<br />

system, unlike the diseases that we prevent with these vaccines.<br />

18 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

CASE B:<br />

<br />

“Sorry to disturb you,” my secretary said to me one day, “But Mrs. Klein is on the<br />

phone. Her five-year-old son, Yossi, is currently undergoing chemotherapy.”<br />

“Yes, I remember.”<br />

“She says that he’s broken out in a rash. She recently switched to a new kind of<br />

detergent, and thinks it might be from that. She wants to know what to do.”<br />

“Since Yossi is on chemotherapy, his body is very sensitive right now and susceptible<br />

to illness. Tell her to bring him right in.”<br />

About an hour later Mrs. Klein came into my office with her son. I was walking<br />

through the waiting room when I noticed him. And his rash. Chicken pox, I realized<br />

immediately.<br />

“Mrs. Klein, please follow me into the exam room,” I said.<br />

I examined the rash carefully. “Mrs. Klein,” I said gently, “it seems that your son has<br />

chicken pox.”<br />

“Wait! He can’t have chicken pox! He’s been vaccinated.”<br />

“Yes, I know, but the treatment he’s been undergoing lately has weakened his immune<br />

system, and caused him to lose the immunity provided by the vaccine. Has Yossi been in<br />

contact with anyone who may have had chicken pox?” I asked.<br />

“I’ve actually been very careful to keep him away from children who might be sick,”

THE CLEAN BILL // Real People on the Quest for Health<br />

ARE<br />

<br />

SAFE?<br />


Because I’m a pediatrician who is an old-timer, I have seen the<br />

diseases that these vaccinations are preventing. I’ve seen measles<br />

that caused brain damage, and mumps that caused encephalitis.<br />

Infertility doctors know all about the children who had mumps;<br />

they’re treating men who are now infertile because of it.<br />

<br />

year with Hib bacterial meningitis. Before the Hib vaccine was<br />

<br />

thing we would do is check for it with a spinal tap. We lived in<br />

constant fear, because if left untreated, even for 12 hours, the<br />

baby could die or be left brain damaged for life. When the vaccine<br />

came out, the number of cases in my practice went from about<br />

<br />

Some parents don’t want to vaccinate their children right<br />

away; they want to wait until the baby is older and “stronger.”<br />

I tell these parents that they are leaving their baby vulnerable<br />

and totally unprotected. In their minds, they are protecting their<br />

child from the vaccine; what they’re really doing is leaving their<br />

children open to the diseases these vaccinations protect against.<br />

There is never a good excuse to leave a child unprotected against<br />

potentially devastating preventable diseases.<br />

While there is a theoretical risk of an allergic reaction to a<br />

vaccine, it is exceptionally uncommon. And a connection between<br />

vaccines and autism or food allergies or other medical conditions<br />

has simply never been shown. In my practice, since 1976, I have<br />

never seen a severe reaction of any type from any vaccine.<br />

I truly believe that in order to do the best for our children<br />

we must do our hishtadlus. Leaving a child unvaccinated is not<br />

doing our hishtadlus. If you neglect vaccinations and something<br />

happens to your child, it’s your responsibility. It’s like allowing a<br />

<br />

It is our job as parents to protect our children. A parent who<br />

withholds vaccinations puts a child in potential danger. Vaccines<br />

are an incredible asset to the health and welfare of our families.<br />

A prestigious Brooklyn pediatrician Dr. Susan Schulman is the<br />

author of Understanding Your Child’s Health.<br />

she said tearfully. “Even when I took him to my sister’s<br />

wedding, I called everyone first to make sure that everyone<br />

was okay.”<br />

I nodded sympathetically. “I understand how careful you<br />

have been, but it happened anyway. And because of his<br />

condition right now, this is not good. I want you to contact<br />

your oncologist immediately to see what the next step should<br />

be.”<br />

A few days later, one of the children who had been at the<br />

wedding came down with chicken pox. His parents had<br />

assumed he was healthy, as he was still symptom-free at the<br />

time. “Was the child at the wedding vaccinated?” I asked Mrs.<br />

Klein.<br />

“Yes, he was vaccinated. But not for chicken pox. His<br />

parents figured that chicken pox is harmless, and decided to<br />

skip that series of shots. I guess they never dreamed what<br />

serious consequences their decision would have for my<br />

Yossi….”<br />

<br />

Some parents pick and choose which vaccinations they feel<br />

are important. “Flu shots?” I’m often asked. “Chicken pox?<br />

Harmless childhood illnesses. We all had them as kids and<br />

lived to tell the tale!”<br />

The first thing I answer is that for children with weakened<br />

immune systems, those on immunosuppressive drugs such as<br />

chemotherapy, or those who are taking steroids for asthma,<br />

chicken pox can be fatal. And for the sick and elderly, or<br />

pregnant women, these diseases are very dangerous. By not<br />

vaccinating our children, we put the whole community at<br />

risk.<br />

Not everyone is strong enough to be immunized; they may<br />

be too young or too sick to receive the vaccine, or for various<br />

reasons they cannot hold immunity. But by vaccinating our<br />

children we protect the weaker members of our community<br />

by creating what is known as “herd immunity:” When a<br />

significant portion of the population has been vaccinated, it<br />

provides a measure of protection even to those who haven’t<br />

been immunized. By vaccinating all of our children, we<br />

are protecting not only our children, but everyone in the<br />

community, including its vulnerable members.<br />

People think of vaccinations as a decision that only impacts<br />

the health of their own child; in truth, it impacts everyone.<br />

<br />

Of course, the most dangerous choice a parent can make is<br />

not to vaccinate a child at all. Which brings me back to Mrs.<br />

Gould and the frantic phone call at 3:00 A.M.…<br />

Continues on page 21<br />

20 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

THE CLEAN BILL // Real People on the Quest for Health<br />

Continued from page 20<br />

“Since your child was not vaccinated,” I said to Mrs. Gould,<br />

“there is a far greater danger that she contracted a serious<br />

illness.”<br />

“Like what?”<br />

“I don’t want to say anything without seeing your child. But<br />

you must take him to the emergency room immediately. And<br />

when I say the emergency room, I don’t mean the local Harris<br />

Hospital. Your child should be flown to one of the prominent<br />

hospitals in New York.”<br />

“Does it have to be now? Can’t it wait until the morning?”<br />

she asked.<br />

“No, you shouldn’t wait another hour. Your child’s life may be<br />

in great danger.”<br />

Mrs. Gould made an effort to pull herself together, and<br />

promised to call Hatzolah as soon as she hung up.<br />

“And one more thing, Mrs. Gould. When you get to the<br />

hospital, please give the ER doctor my pager number, and have<br />

him fill me in. I am very worried about Eli.”<br />

As it turned out, preliminary testing indicated that Eli<br />

had bacterial meningitis. When I spoke to the doctor, Eli’s<br />

condition was, thankfully, stable. However, the long term<br />

effects won’t be known for awhile; hearing loss and brain<br />

damage are major concerns in children who survive bacterial<br />

meningitis.<br />

When I think about this tragic story, I am bothered by the<br />

thought that it most likely could have been prevented, had<br />

Mrs. Gould vaccinated her son. Nowadays, it is almost always<br />

the unvaccinated or insufficiently vaccinated children who<br />

contract these severe diseases. We don’t always know why<br />

things happen in life, but it is our responsibility to make the<br />

right choices to protect our children and community. <br />

Acknowledgments: The author is particularly grateful to Chaya<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

In many states, a<br />

religious exemption<br />

from vaccinations<br />

may be granted to a<br />

child when administration<br />

of vaccines<br />

would be in direct<br />

<br />

tenets of his/her religion,<br />

or when administration<br />

of vaccines<br />

would interfere with<br />

the exercise of the<br />

child’s religious rights. During<br />

the mumps outbreak in Lakewood,<br />

New Jersey in 2009,<br />

several physicians serving<br />

the Orthodox community<br />

provided medical guidance to<br />

the local <strong>Jewish</strong> schools, and<br />

included a psak from the Bais<br />

Hora’ah of Lakewood that<br />

<br />

on “religious exemptions” to<br />

vaccinations:<br />

psak<br />

“…Schools should certainly<br />

comply with the requirements<br />

that are established<br />

by appropriate governmental<br />

agencies with regard to im-<br />

<br />

there is no place [in Torah] for<br />

someone to claim a ‘religious<br />

<br />

not only allows im-<br />

<br />

have them in accordance<br />

with the prevailing medical<br />

opinion.”<br />

25 Kislev 5770, Lakewood<br />

<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | | 21

THE CLEAN BILL // Real People on the Quest for Health<br />

<br />

The History of the Anti-Vaccination Movement<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

The timing was right. The parents of<br />

the anti-vaccination generation didn’t<br />

<br />

that the vaccinations had eradicated. To<br />

these parents, polio and diphtheria and<br />

pertussis were historical incidents. They<br />

<br />

However, what these parents did<br />

see was the discomfort that their<br />

children had to go through when they<br />

were vaccinated. It isn’t pleasant to<br />

bring your newborn baby in for shots;<br />

perhaps these parents were looking<br />

for an excuse to avoid this situation.<br />

Vaccinations have become a scapegoat<br />

in medicine because they are a sore<br />

topic for the parents. Another strong<br />

factor is misinformation: coincidental<br />

evidence lacking an objective medical<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Science, Risky Medicine, and the<br />

and his latest<br />

one: <br />

Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens<br />

Us All<br />

<br />

basis. An incident in 1998 aroused<br />

widespread controversy and fear of<br />

vaccinations. A British physician claimed<br />

that his research showed a link between<br />

autism and the measles vaccine in 12<br />

children. His research was later found<br />

to be fabricated and false; he and his<br />

research were completely discredited.<br />

But that was only after widespread fear<br />

had set in, causing people, especially in<br />

his native U.K., to stop giving the MMR<br />

vaccine to their children.<br />

<br />

studies have been done around the<br />

world, involving hundreds of thousands<br />

of children, that have disproven the<br />

theory that the MMR vaccine causes<br />

autism. In 2009, after extensive<br />

<br />

ruled against legal claims linking autism<br />

with such vaccines, calling the theory<br />

<br />

that vaccinations cause autism is a classic<br />

example of fear, scandal, and alarming<br />

media headlines convincing people,<br />

<br />

and data.<br />

When it comes to medical decisions,<br />

some people are compelled by stories<br />

they hear, rather than by objective<br />

information. As soon as they hear an<br />

alarming story, which often completely<br />

lacks any medical basis, they are<br />

convinced. It is an unfortunate reality that<br />

these anecdotes and stories drive public<br />

opinion.<br />

Science is not a democracy. Science is<br />

fact—with evidence and statistics to back<br />

it up.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

In recent years the anti-vaccination<br />

movement has been losing momentum. In<br />

2010 there was an outbreak of whooping<br />

<br />

children. In 2009 there was an outbreak<br />

of mumps, and in 2011, an outbreak of<br />

measles.<br />

The media are now covering these<br />

outbreaks of deadly diseases that could<br />

have been prevented with vaccinations.<br />

These stories are shaking people up,<br />

and they are once again beginning to<br />

appreciate what vaccinations do.<br />

<br />

<br />

At present, 48 states allow parents to<br />

obtain a religious exemption as grounds<br />

for not vaccinating their children. I do<br />

not believe that religion plays a role<br />

in vaccinations. Whenever I encounter<br />

parents who want to use religion as a<br />

basis for making a poor medical decision<br />

for their children, I ask them to bring me<br />

a letter from a clergyman explaining why<br />

it goes against their religion. No one has<br />

ever returned with such a letter.<br />

22 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

24 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

For<br />

Sake<br />

the<br />

of My<br />

by Chaya Silber<br />

Daughter<br />


Last Friday I drove up to the Rockland Country<br />

Correctional Facility at 1:00 P.M., a bit<br />

apprehensive. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I’d<br />

(fortunately) never been in jail before. Located<br />

behind the New City Courthouse, the jail is a drab, rather<br />

unassuming building, surrounded by a low gate. It is a minimal<br />

security prison, where people are incarcerated for petty crimes,<br />

usually until they find a lawyer and can post bail.<br />

Nervous about what I’d encounter, I entered the main lobby,<br />

where three armed sheriffs were sitting at their computer<br />

terminals, looking none too friendly. There was a large metal<br />

detector, the type used in airports, blocking access, and a<br />

forbidding corridor stretched beyond.<br />

I knew that visiting hours for Valerie, whose last name<br />

begins with a C, were from 12:30-2:30. (Visits are arranged by<br />

alphabetical order and the day of the week; there are four groups<br />

of prisoners, each with its own visiting hours.)<br />

“Can I help you?” One guard looked up, wondering what I’d<br />

come for.<br />

“I, uh, I’m looking for Valerie Carl—”<br />

“You can’t see her now,” the sheriff replied tersely, even before<br />

I’d finished.<br />

“Why not?” I had checked and rechecked the visiting hours<br />

on the automated message system. I had cleared the visit with<br />

Valerie’s lawyer, and was looking forward to meeting with her<br />

and trying to make sense of her situation.<br />

“Visiting hours started an hour ago, and she already has a<br />

visitor,” he explained. “Every prisoner is allowed only two visits a<br />

week; if someone is already visiting, that counts as a visit.”<br />

“Can’t I join the other visitor?” I know I sounded obnoxious,<br />

but Valerie’s tale had stirred my passion for justice, and I really<br />

needed to speak with her.<br />

“I’m sorry, but those are the rules. If you want to see her, come<br />

back on Saturday morning. Oh, sorry, that won’t work for you,”<br />

he glanced at my obviously religious attire. “Well, you can try<br />

Monday at 12:30. But be here on time, even a few minutes early.”<br />

I thanked the sheriff and left, casting an anxious glance behind<br />

me toward the sinister vibes I’d picked up. Poor Valerie. To think<br />

she was stuck here for another month, until the governor would<br />

make a decision whether or not to intervene….<br />

Actually, Valerie was better off in the Rockland County Jail<br />

than where she’d come from, but I was only to find that out<br />

later, after I’d spoken to two of her lawyers and a concerned<br />

community activist.<br />

My quest to visit Valerie hit another roadblock on Monday,<br />

when her lawyer tersely informed me that another journalist<br />

from the secular media was meeting with her, and it was critical<br />

that she receive the proper exposure. My request to join the<br />

other journalist was politely refused; it was suggested I try on<br />

Wednesday, at 8:30 in the morning.<br />

During this time I did not sit by idly. In addition to my<br />

numerous deadlines and journalistic responsibilities, I read<br />

all I could about the Valerie Carlton saga, including lawyers’<br />

statements, articles in the media, and the investigation of a<br />

forensic scientist whose testimony cleared her of all charges.<br />

By the time Wednesday morning arrived, I was consumed<br />

with the Valerie Carlton saga. Each person I shared the story<br />

with was incredulous. It was difficult to fathom that, in this day<br />

and age, such rampant abuse of judicial powers can exist. It is<br />

hard to understand how an innocent woman, who was tarred and<br />

feathered by her vindictive ex-husband, can be beaten bloody by<br />

a six-foot-tall security guard, and then charged with assaulting<br />

him.<br />

I was itching to write the story, but wanted to visit Valerie first.<br />

Then I got another phone call from Michael Ettinger, Esq., one<br />

of her lawyers. “I’m really sorry, but Valerie is not feeling well, and<br />

cannot see any visitors,” he said. “She is suffering from PTSD<br />

(post traumatic stress disorder) after what she experienced, and<br />

needs a few days to recover.”<br />

I resigned myself to writing the article without seeing Valerie<br />

in person. Yet I knew I needed more information from a reliable<br />

source. After all, her lawyers are presumably working for her<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | | 25

A team of activists, including her<br />

lawyers and Mr. Kalman Weber,<br />

tried to appeal to Judge Kelly of<br />

Rockland County,<br />

benefit; I wanted to speak with someone who knew Valerie and<br />

could vouch for her character.<br />

My research led me to Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger of Yeshivas<br />

Ner Yisroel, the prominent rosh yeshiva and askan who has been<br />

instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people. He works<br />

around the clock for the benefit of klal Yisrael, speaking with<br />

politicians and the “Who’s Who” of the political world to help<br />

those in trouble.<br />

Rabbi Neuberger immediately remembered Valerie, who had<br />

come to him for assistance several months earlier. “Valerie is a<br />

wonderful, sincere baalas teshuvah,” he said. “I knew Valerie’s<br />

mother as well. These are good people, who didn’t have the<br />

benefit of a Bais Yaakov education. But she is a wonderful<br />

mother to her little girl, and completely innocent of the trumped<br />

up charges against her.<br />

“It’s terrible what they did to her,” Rabbi Neuberger stressed.<br />

“The whole system there is treif.”<br />

By now you are probably wondering what this is about, and<br />

how Valerie’s saga affects us all. Bear with me another few<br />

moments, as I start at the beginning.<br />

Where it all began<br />

Valerie Carlton was born to a <strong>Jewish</strong> mother and non-<strong>Jewish</strong><br />

father, and was raised in an environment devoid of religious<br />

identity. Her mother, a stewardess for American Airlines, was<br />

warm and caring. Her father, it is alleged, was verbally abusive;<br />

he constantly mocked her and tried to make her feel worthless.<br />

Often, children from abusive homes end up marrying abusive<br />

spouses, and the vicious cycle continues.<br />

Although Valerie suffered from a learning disorder, her father<br />

refused to recognize it or treat it in any way. It was only after her<br />

parents were divorced that a teenaged Valerie finally received<br />

a diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder, which affects the<br />

way the brain processes auditory information. This means that<br />

she has difficulty processing the meaning of sounds when there<br />

is background noise, and may have difficulty understanding<br />

what people are saying if she is not looking directly at their lips.<br />

Nonetheless, despite this disability, Valerie completed nearly all<br />

the requirements for a degree in social work.<br />

Valerie married Russell Carlton, an Evangelist Christian.<br />

They moved to a rural neighborhood near Annapolis, toward<br />

the south of Maryland. When their daughter, Winnifer, was<br />

born, Valerie was a proud and doting mother, who lavished all<br />

her love and attention on the little girl. Unfortunately, Russell,<br />

who was diagnosed with psychopathic tendencies, was explosive<br />

and controlling. A short<br />

while after the little girl’s<br />

birth, Russell and Valerie<br />

were divorced due to<br />

irreconcilable differences.<br />

As long as Valerie<br />

continued raising their<br />

child as a Christian, and<br />

sending her to church,<br />

Russell basically left her<br />

alone. The trouble began<br />

when Valerie, alone and<br />

friendless, reached out<br />

to her coreligionists in the greater Baltimore community. It was<br />

during that time that Rabbi Neuberger first met her, and he was<br />

impressed with her commitment to her daughter and her faith.<br />

When Russell heard that his ex-wife was learning about her<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> heritage, and wanted Winnifer raised as a Jewess, his fury<br />

knew no bounds.<br />

Come what may, Mr. Carlton would make sure Valerie ended<br />

up behind bars for a long time, possibly forever. And not just in<br />

any jail. The prison in Harford County, Maryland was privately<br />

owned and run by a local sheriff, a close friend of Russell’s<br />

family. Due to overcrowding in state prisons, several states<br />

“lease” their prisoners to private jails, where the supervision and<br />

maintenance are privately run. This particular prison is notorious<br />

for “accidental deaths,” and is answerable to no state authority.<br />

How was it possible to get an innocent person behind bars for<br />

an imaginary crime?<br />

The answer? Easy as pie.<br />

All Russell had to do was call the Child Protective Services,<br />

and say his daughter was being abused by her mother.<br />

One phone call. That’s all it took.<br />

When I express amazement that it is possible, in today’s day<br />

and age, to accuse someone of child abuse without any proof,<br />

Ettinger, Valerie’s attorney, says, “That’s because you’re naïve.<br />

You have no idea what goes on in our country, all in the name of<br />

justice. The system is broken.”<br />

The child abuse charges were taken very seriously, and<br />

Winnifer, then six years old, was interrogated. Although in<br />

situations like these social workers often lead the child to say<br />

what they want to hear, Winnifer was a clever girl, and kept on<br />

repeating the truth: that her mother loved her, never yelled at her,<br />

or hurt her in any way. The interview showed no proof of abuse.<br />

Yet the truth did not agree with Russell’s plans, so he twisted<br />

the facts to meet his requirements. He procured testimony from<br />

26 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

a next door neighbor, who said that her<br />

daughter was also abused by Valerie.<br />

Interestingly enough, the same neighbor<br />

had lodged the same complaint against<br />

several of her own family members, and<br />

had a history of making false charges.<br />

No matter. Now, Social Services—aided<br />

and abetted by Russell Carlton—claimed<br />

to have “two little girls” who were abused.<br />

According to Valerie’s advocate, Dr.<br />

Leora Rosen, “Valerie never objected to<br />

Russell continuing to take their daughter<br />

to church. But when Valerie began her<br />

return to Judaism and began to light<br />

Sabbath candles with her daughter<br />

present, Russell, his church, and the judges<br />

and sheriffs viewed her religious practice<br />

as a crime.”<br />

After a brief trial, during which Valerie<br />

was not given an opportunity to defend<br />

herself, Judge William Carr put her<br />

behind bars in early 2009.<br />

Valerie had married a man who<br />

battered her, abused their young child,<br />

and then vowed to destroy her. Russell<br />

Carlton turned out to be a psychopath<br />

who used his Evangelical Christian and<br />

powerful, local connections against the<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> woman who dared to return to her<br />

roots, light Sabbath candles, and “practice<br />

Judaism” with her daughter. When he<br />

heard she now planned to marry a <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

man, he wasted no time in taking action.<br />

Both the search warrant and the<br />

document for the criminal charges<br />

against Ms. Carlton stated that she was<br />

an “Orthodox Jew who practiced <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

customs with her daughter whenever they<br />

were together.”<br />

What followed next was beyond<br />

horrific.<br />

Shortly after she was jailed, on April 15,<br />

authorities put Valerie’s newborn son in<br />

foster care, in the custody of the Delaware<br />

County Social Services. On June 11,<br />

two months later, the infant was dead,<br />

having been accidentally smothered by his<br />

caretaker. The foster care agency denied all<br />

liability or accountability.<br />

Valerie was informed of her baby’s<br />

death while she was in jail, but the<br />

prosecutor arranged that the chaplain<br />

was not permitted to perform this duty.<br />

Instead it was done by an employee of the<br />

sheriff ’s office, who brutally announced<br />

that the baby was dead, then had Valerie<br />

strapped into a medieval torture device<br />

called a “restraint chair,” which caused her<br />

to choke on her own mucus as she wept<br />

and tried to pray for her dead baby. (After<br />

this incident the Sheriff ’s department<br />

claimed, in writing, that Valerie was<br />

“talking in tongues” because she was<br />

praying in Hebrew.)<br />

Her punishers literally tied her down in<br />

a chair and told her that her son was dead,<br />

waiting to see if she would “break.”<br />

For 13 months, Valerie was kept<br />

in solitary confinement “for her own<br />

protection,” in order that she should not<br />

be harmed by other inmates, who were<br />

told she was an abusive mother.<br />

But Valerie really needed protection<br />

from her guards, who often kept her in<br />

restraints, hands and feet tightly shackled.<br />

She was threatened, cursed, and “roughed<br />

up” by the guards, who banged her head<br />

into the wall as sport. Her jailers denied<br />

her medical treatment after these beatings.<br />

According to a former inmate<br />

(contained in an affidavit), he “personally<br />

witnessed Valerie’s kosher food opened<br />

and handled by numerous prisoners. It<br />

was then partially rewrapped and taken…<br />

for Valerie to consume. She was singled<br />

out for this treatment especially by the<br />

‘Black Muslims’ working in the kitchen.<br />

They wanted to contaminate her food<br />

because she is <strong>Jewish</strong>.”



A private prison, jail, or<br />

detention center is a place<br />

in which individuals are<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

United<br />

<br />

in Europe to use private prisons<br />

Wolds<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Finance Initiative, where<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

, the GEO Group<br />

and <br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

sentence the juveniles without<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

All this time, the public defender assigned to her by the<br />

authorities, Harford County Defender John Janowich,<br />

was doing his “job,” cooperating with the sheriff who ran<br />

the prison—the sheriff who made destroying Valerie his<br />

personal mission.<br />

How could the prison wardens allow these injustices to<br />

occur?<br />

According to other inmates, who later testified about<br />

conversations they had overheard, the jailers wanted to drive<br />

her to the brink, so that she would never be allowed custody<br />

of her daughter or even visitation. The sheriff and various<br />

law enforcement officials kept offering her a way out: If she<br />

pleaded guilty to “Not Criminally Responsible,” she would<br />

be allowed out of jail. However, she would be tarred as an<br />

“insane” mother whose visitation with her daughter would<br />

have to be supervised.<br />

“It’s a witch-hunt, a travesty of justice,” said attorney<br />

Michael Ettinger. “She was tarred with a scarlet letter,<br />

vilified by the state prosecutor and media. She was put in<br />

solitary for her own protection, then abused and tortured by<br />

the guards in solitary.”<br />

Philip Murphy, Esq., another one of her attorneys, called<br />

the court case a “sham proceeding.”<br />

Valerie knew she was innocent, and refused to cooperate<br />

with their vicious plot. She would rather suffer until the<br />

truth was uncovered, because that was her only hope of<br />

seeing her daughter again.<br />

Finally, Valerie’s desperate pleas for help were heard,<br />

and some friends hired an attorney, Issac Klein, Esq., from<br />

Baltimore. Within days of hearing about the case, Klein<br />

uncovered a shocking, sordid tale of abuse and torture.<br />

Dr. Mark J. Mills, a forensic psychiatrist who sits on<br />

the faculty of Columbia University, was asked to evaluate<br />

the charges of abuse. After an intense investigation and<br />

interview with all the parties involved, Mills wrote a letter<br />

saying that Carlton “is not psychotic, not dangerous, and it<br />

is unlikely that she ever abused a child.”<br />

After 13 months of torture and abuse, Valerie Carlton was<br />

formally cleared of all charges. The Harford County Jail had<br />

no choice but to release her. However, they had one more<br />

diabolical trick up their sleeve.<br />

Instead of apologizing to Valerie for the pain and torture,<br />

they prepared a “goodbye present” to remember. This would<br />

protect them from being sued for false arrest and other<br />

charges.<br />

On March 8, 2010, shortly before Valerie was scheduled<br />

to be released, she was standing in the hallway during her<br />

one “free” hour a day when she could walk around and not<br />

be locked in her cell. Suddenly (and this was all caught on<br />

security cameras) the guard, who sat at his desk, walked up<br />

the stairs and approached her. Without warning, he grabbed<br />

her and began to beat her savagely, throwing her to the<br />

ground.<br />

In the seven-minute video, the six-foot-tall guard is seen<br />

pummeling Valerie, finally lifting her up off the floor and<br />

28 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

slamming her head into a wall. Then<br />

the guard left her, dazed and bleeding,<br />

and calmly went back to his desk, where<br />

he filed a report saying that Valerie had<br />

assaulted him.<br />

It seems like a horror novel, but it is<br />

sadly all too true.<br />

Instead of waiting for Valerie to recover<br />

from her wounds and file a complaint, the<br />

guard preempted her, filling out a form<br />

stating that the petite, frail woman had<br />

assaulted him.<br />

There was only one problem. The<br />

overwhelming evidence of what actually<br />

happened is clear to anyone who sees<br />

the video feed, available on a website<br />

established by Valerie’s friends.<br />

No matter. As soon as Valerie was<br />

released, she fled to Monsey, terrified<br />

for her life. She had heard some of the<br />

inmates saying that she would be coming<br />

back soon, to face additional concocted<br />

charges. “When she comes back, we’ll<br />

finish her off,” the inmates gloated.<br />

And these weren’t just empty words.<br />

Several inmates had been Tasered to<br />

death or thrown down stairs and left<br />

permanently disabled in the very same jail.<br />

The jail officials had never been charged,<br />

and there were no investigations. In this<br />

jail of horrors, the sheriff and his cronies<br />

wield absolute power over the lives of<br />

their captives.<br />

As Valerie tried to piece her life<br />

together (her daughter was still living with<br />

her ex-husband, and her son was dead)<br />

she received the news she’d been dreading.<br />

Shortly after her mother, Winnifer’s<br />

grandmother, sent the CPS a request<br />

asking to visit the child, Russell Carlton<br />

put Plan B into motion.<br />

An extradition order was speedily sent<br />

to the Rockland County Courthouse,<br />

asking for Valerie Carlton to be sent back<br />

to Harford County, to face charges of<br />

assaulting a guard!<br />

The death sentence had been delivered,<br />

signed and sealed.<br />

When Valerie heard about the order,<br />

she told her friends that it was only a<br />

matter of time before the jail guards<br />

and inmates carried out their threat.<br />

“Be prepared to write my obituary,” she<br />

warned.<br />

Valerie said she would rather be a<br />

condemned criminal on death row than<br />

sent back to the Jail of Horrors. “At<br />

least on death row I’ll be treated with<br />

respect, and when my end will come, it<br />

will be painless. In that torture chamber<br />

jailhouse, I know I’ll die a violent and<br />

painful death. The only question is how<br />

long it will take.”<br />

When Valerie’s friends and newfound<br />

support system heard what was awaiting<br />

her, there was an outcry of protest. How<br />

dare the authorities send an innocent<br />

woman back into the lions’ den?<br />

On October 11, 2011, Valerie was<br />

arrested and placed in the Rockland<br />

County Jail. Rockland County authorities<br />

had no jurisdiction to investigate the<br />

charges; their responsibility was to arrest<br />

a “wanted criminal,” and arrange for her<br />

transportation to Harford County.<br />

A team of activists, including her<br />

lawyers and Mr. Kalman Weber, tried<br />

to appeal to Judge Kelly of Rockland<br />

County, but he explained that he had no<br />

right to intervene in an extradition order<br />

from another state. All he has to do is<br />

make sure the order was properly filled<br />

out, and comply with the instructions.<br />

Sensing imminent danger, Valerie’s<br />

lawyers sent an emergency petition to<br />

Governor Cuomo, asking him to stop the<br />

extradition order, and save an innocent<br />

life. The Governor’s staff has asked for a<br />

month’s time to review the information.<br />

In the meantime, Judge Kelly refused to<br />

grant bail.<br />

At present, as the Governor’s office<br />

reviews the information, Valerie is in<br />

solitary confinement in the Rockland<br />

County Jail, suffering from a recurrence of<br />

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.<br />

Although there are powerful grounds to<br />

sue the Harford County Jail, and uncover<br />

the pattern of horrific abuse, right now<br />

the focus is on the immediate danger to<br />

Valerie’s life.<br />

She has not seen her now 10-year-old<br />

daughter, her only surviving child, in years,<br />

and doesn’t know if she will ever see her<br />

again.<br />

Valerie (whose Hebrew name is Serach)<br />

Carlton deserves our tefillos and support.<br />

She is a <strong>Jewish</strong> mother, pining for her<br />

daughter, now fearing for her life.<br />

Dare we ignore her plea for help?

Postscript:<br />

A Visit to<br />

Valerie Carlton<br />

It’s Tuesday afternoon as I try to type these words. I just<br />

returned from a visit to Valerie Carlton in prison, and my hands<br />

are still trembling.<br />

I’ve read many articles and testimonials about what prison can<br />

do to a person, and what a degrading, inhumane experience it is.<br />

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I’ll second that.<br />

After trying unsuccessfully to visit for about 10 days, and<br />

being given the runaround each time (Valerie is receiving<br />

medical care; her visiting hours were changed; she is being held<br />

in administrative detention, etc.) I was finally given the okay this<br />

morning. As long as I got there before 10:00 A.M., I would be<br />

allowed to see her until 10:30.<br />

I arrived at the jail, about a 20 minute ride from my home,<br />

with literally seconds to spare. I hurried into the building, and<br />

presented my ID to the guard. He conferred with someone<br />

on the phone, and told me the visit was approved. I was to put<br />

everything I own into a locker. “That includes earrings, watch,<br />

cell phone, belt, keys…everything.”<br />

In my haste to put my things under lock and key, I locked<br />

away my ID and had to go back and retrieve it. The guard urged<br />

me to “slow down.” I probably looked as frazzled as I felt. Soon<br />

I was buzzed through a door that locked behind me, and I<br />

found myself in a small holding area, under the watch of several<br />

security screens, and a six-foot female guard.<br />

“The women are the worst,” a former inmate once wrote, and<br />

now, seeing her hostile expression, I was grateful this was only<br />

a visit. The guard roughly ushered me through a metal detector,<br />

asked if I had any piercings, and if the flowers on my sweater<br />

were part of the fabric or an accessory. “This is a jail,” she stated.<br />

As if I could have possibly thought otherwise.<br />

“Sit down and wait,” the guard ordered. “What is your<br />

connection to Valerie?”<br />

“Just a friend.”<br />

“Are you from the media?” she hissed.<br />

“I’m here to spend some time with her,” I replied. I was advised<br />

to visit Valerie in a non-official capacity, just to give her support<br />

and show her someone cares.<br />

I waited, and waited, as the moments ticked by. Through<br />

the clear window I could see a large common table with the<br />

prisoners seated inside, and the visitors on the outer row. They<br />

were separated by a glass barrier, and could have no physical<br />

contact at all.<br />

I noticed a young woman with two small, squirming blonde<br />

children seated at one of the “booths.” On the other side, the<br />

fair-haired young inmate was trying his best to keep his family<br />

entertained. One of the children started to cry, and I felt like<br />

crying along.<br />

After about 10 minutes, the guard spoke into the receiver and<br />

asked if Carlton was coming down. “Oh, there are no visitor’s<br />

hours today?” she said. My heart sank. What, they changed the<br />

rules again? But I just checked this morning!<br />

Suddenly, “She’s here,” the guard said. “Open that door.”<br />

I was shoved into a tiny room with a glass window that<br />

overlooked a matchbox-sized cell. Standing there, even more<br />

frail and emaciated than I had imagined, was Valerie, dressed in<br />

an orange prison suit, her arms tightly manacled. She was pale,<br />

blonde, and looked like the slightest breeze would blow her<br />

away.<br />

Valerie smiled at me, obviously thrilled to see a compassionate<br />

face. She lifted her receiver, and gestured for me to do the same.<br />

“I want you to see this,” she started the conversation, picking<br />

up her sleeves with effort, to show me the purple bruises that<br />

dotted her limbs. I shrank back, horrified. “I need as many<br />

witnesses as I can get, to prove that I am not making this up.<br />

This is what they did to me in Harford County Jail.”<br />

All of a sudden, there was a series of beeps, and I felt that I<br />

was being photographed.<br />

30 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

“Put down the phone,” a voice<br />

ordered over the loudspeaker.<br />

Confused, I dropped the phone,<br />

and whispered an apology to<br />

Valerie. The door opened, and two<br />

burly female guards (one of them<br />

had been guarding me all this time)<br />

stood two inches from my face.<br />

“You lied to us!” they shouted.<br />

“You said you weren’t from the<br />

media. Why did you misrepresent<br />

yourself?”<br />

I began to quake all over,<br />

mentally reviewing what I had<br />

said to Valerie. Had I foolishly<br />

insinuated that I was writing<br />

an article about her? How<br />

could I have forgotten that our<br />

conversation was recorded?”<br />

“Who are you, and what is your purpose?” They were breathing<br />

fire down my back.<br />

I hyperventilated. This is what utter, sheer terror feels like, I<br />

realized. It was almost an out-of-body experience.<br />

Waves of panic washed over me, again and again. Hashem, help!<br />

Will I ever get out of here? I could almost feel the cold metallic<br />

pinch of the handcuffs around my wrists.<br />

“I…I’m not an official journalist,” I stammered. “I came to see<br />

Valerie as a friend, to show my sympathy, and perhaps write a<br />

small article about her.”<br />

But they were not interested. “Get out,” the guards snapped,<br />

propelling me to the door.<br />

A second later, I found myself in the lobby, the doors slamming<br />

shut behind me. My ID card was returned, and I was warned not<br />

to show my face again without official permission from Valerie’s<br />

lawyer.<br />

I left, still quaking, my mind unable to register that they had<br />

actually let me go free.<br />

Though I don’t view myself as a timid, easily frightened person,<br />

the visit left me shaky and emotionally drained for the rest of the<br />

day. Every time I heard a loud noise I jumped. I knew it wasn’t<br />

logical, but I couldn’t help it. Were they coming after me? They<br />

had my address, after all.<br />

I could only imagine what Valerie must be going through,<br />

poor soul. She is currently suffering from the effects of the severe<br />

trauma she has endured. Her mental condition is precarious.<br />

What Valerie needs at this time is medical attention and support,<br />

not imprisonment and harassment. n

days<br />

When Daddy Missed Work<br />

Some things were simply more important<br />

By Varda Meyers Epstein<br />

Only twice did my dad ever miss<br />

a day of work. Maybe that’s why<br />

he died so young. He worked<br />

long hours, often leaving the<br />

house for the office at 5:30 A.M. Some<br />

people would call that Type A behavior;<br />

the kind that befits a guy just looking for<br />

a heart attack.<br />

But my father wasn’t like some gerbil<br />

on a wheel, working for work’s sake. There<br />

was no manic activity. He wasn’t some<br />

fast-spieling, hyperactive marketeer, but<br />

rather, a thoughtful kind of guy who took<br />

the time to puzzle things out to their<br />

logical conclusions. He was in no hurry.<br />

Not with anything.<br />

We always took the scenic route<br />

on family car trips, stopping to pick<br />

fruit at farms along the way to faraway<br />

destinations. I remember Daddy pulling<br />

over on the highway and taking out<br />

his penknife to cut me a length of raw<br />

sugarcane. He held out the blackish stalk,<br />

“Go ahead. Take a nibble.”<br />

I spent the rest of the four-hour car<br />

trip chewing on the cane, getting past<br />

my initial squeamishness over the fibrous<br />

texture, to enjoy the juicy green sweetness<br />

of the raw sugarcane. I would enjoy this<br />

forever, after my own firsthand knowledge<br />

of cane sugar’s origins, thanks to my Dad.<br />

To my mind, it was just my father’s<br />

good old American work ethic that made<br />

him apply himself to his job with such<br />

singular focus. His steadfastness might<br />

also have been his way of expressing<br />

gratitude to my great uncle Morris, who<br />

had made Dad his second in command<br />

at the lumberyard after my paternal<br />

grandfather, like my own father, died<br />

suddenly and young. Overnight, at the age<br />

of 19, my father became the sole support<br />

of his mother and younger brother.<br />

But back to those two days on which<br />

my father elected to miss work. In the first<br />

instance, it was my turn at nursery school<br />

to be the mother in the mock Kabbalat<br />

Shabbat ceremony we held every Thursday.<br />

Mothers always showed up for this event,<br />

but it was uncommon for a father to put<br />

in an appearance. My four-year-old pride<br />

knew no bounds.<br />

I was the youngest of four siblings<br />

and the apple of my father’s eye. As my<br />

father and mother entered the classroom,<br />

an extra folding chair, adult-sized, was<br />

found and set up alongside the one<br />

already-waiting chair. I was so proud of<br />

my handsome father in his suit, and of<br />

my beautiful mother. Like every child, I<br />

thought my parents the best and bestlooking<br />

of all parents in the world.<br />

My nursery school teacher, Mrs.<br />

Margolis, produced a lace doily, placed<br />

it over my curls, and nodded approval. I<br />

felt such joy as I circled my hands thrice<br />

about the candles and made the blessing,<br />

knowing that my Daddy was beaming<br />

at me as I performed the age-old ritual.<br />

Not quite five decades later, I can still<br />

remember the thrill that ran through me<br />

as I gave my parents—and in particular,<br />

my Daddy—Yiddishe nachas: <strong>Jewish</strong> joy.<br />

It’s not that my mother wasn’t<br />

important in this context. I was proud of<br />

her and basking in her approval, too. But<br />

it was so rare for my father to attend the<br />

little events that marked the peaks and<br />

valleys of my development at that early<br />

stage, that I knew there was something<br />

momentous about the occasion. This was<br />

more than it seemed on the surface.<br />

What my Dad’s attendance at that little<br />

nursery school event did was cement in<br />

my mind the idea that <strong>Jewish</strong> ritual and<br />

continuity were of prime importance to<br />

my father. After all, he missed work for<br />

this ceremony: an unheard-of exception<br />

to his way of life. My Dad was showing<br />

me that THIS was what was important<br />

34 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772







to him: Shabbos, lighting the candles,<br />

being <strong>Jewish</strong>. And all of that, for me, was<br />

tangled up with the pleasant feelings<br />

engendered by my father’s expressions of<br />

love and warmth.<br />

The fact that I remember all this<br />

with such clarity—and the fact that I<br />

do, indeed, light Shabbos candles every<br />

week—proves the impact of my father’s<br />

attendance at my nursery school Kabbalat<br />

Shabbat performance. I do believe that this<br />

strong positive reinforcement, which took<br />

shape in the form of a workaholic father<br />

missing work, did what my father hoped<br />

it would do: inspire me to carry the torch<br />

of Yiddishkeit and strive for excellence in<br />

my <strong>Jewish</strong> observance.<br />

While the first time my father missed<br />

work was on behalf of the future, the<br />

second time he called in late concerned<br />

the past. This is a story that I heard from<br />

my mother. Though related secondhand,<br />

the telling of this tale made a chill run<br />

up my spine and gooseflesh overtake my<br />

arms.<br />

One night, as all the occupants of my<br />

family home slept, there was a severe<br />

storm, complete with thunder and<br />

lightning. My father’s sleep that night was<br />

fitful and punctuated with nightmares.<br />

In the morning, he recalled one dream in<br />

which he saw his mother’s grave. There<br />

was a sense conveyed, perhaps some<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | | 35

days<br />






kind of aura, that all was not well with<br />

the grave. There was nothing specific he<br />

could point to, only the knowledge that<br />

something was wrong.<br />

Someone else would have said, “It was<br />

just a noisy storm. The noise disrupted my<br />

sleep and gave me unpleasant dreams.”<br />

But my father didn’t waste any time<br />

with conjecture. He called the office<br />

to let them know he would be late and<br />

started out for the cemetery. Even if he<br />

found that nothing was wrong with my<br />

grandmother’s grave, he would have done<br />

a mitzvah; there was nothing to lose in<br />

visiting the cemetery.<br />

The cemetery was strewn with muddy<br />

puddles, broken branches, and wet<br />

yellow leaves. My dad made his way to<br />

his mother’s grave, where he discovered<br />

the reason for his dreams of the night<br />

before. The gravestone was cracked<br />

through—slashed on the diagonal. It<br />

was apparent that lightning had struck<br />

my grandmother’s gravestone during<br />

the storm. The stone would need to be<br />

replaced. My father hastened to take the<br />

necessary steps to purchase and lay a new<br />

stone.<br />

My father was a simple man. Home<br />

and family meant everything, as did his<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> identity. He was not some deep<br />

philosopher, nor did he concern himself<br />

with the paranormal. The main quality of<br />

my father was that he prioritized a very<br />

simple list of the things that mattered to<br />

him. Work? Of prime importance. But<br />

even more important was his <strong>Jewish</strong>ness.<br />

That was the real drive behind everything<br />

he did. Both of these things, work and<br />

Judaism, were really about the family, of<br />

course. He might not have articulated<br />

these ideas. He didn’t need to put them<br />

into words. My father’s actions during his<br />

abbreviated lifespan spoke volumes about<br />

his beliefs.<br />

For my father, Judaism, work, and<br />

family were a triangle of interlocking<br />

concepts, where one point might need<br />

more attention at a given moment to<br />

strengthen the whole. Years ago, I had<br />

a garden, and as I diagnosed aphids,<br />

applied fertilizer, weeded, and pruned,<br />

it occurred to me that my father was a<br />

bit like a gardener who sees the state<br />

of his garden and tends to the plants<br />

according to their dispositions. Seen from<br />

this perspective, a workaholic missing<br />

work on two occasions was really not so<br />

remarkable. To my father, ensuring future<br />

<strong>Jewish</strong> continuity and paying honor to his<br />

roots were the obvious twin pathways to<br />

a healthy garden—one that continues to<br />

bear fruit until today. n<br />

(The author is a third-generation born<br />

Pittsburgher and mother of 12 who left<br />

America at the age of 18 to live in Israel, and<br />

has never regretted her decision.)<br />

36 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

If Only They Knew<br />

Sometimes things are not what they appear to be<br />

<br />

They whispered about her in the<br />

hallways. They talked about her<br />

in the teachers’ room. She was a<br />

hopeless case. Not interested in<br />

academics, or else just not that capable.<br />

And not interested in being frum. It was a<br />

real shame.<br />

If only they knew.<br />

Her grades were slipping, and she<br />

seemed perpetually annoyed at her<br />

teachers. Was it their fault that she wasn’t<br />

handing in homework assignments or<br />

studying enough before tests? Her skirts<br />

were always right above her knees, but she<br />

managed to pull them down whenever<br />

a teacher looked at her directly. She had<br />

already been caught twice trying to send<br />

a text on her cell phone during class. Her<br />

teachers shook their heads and wondered<br />

how much longer she would be permitted<br />

to remain in school. She probably didn’t<br />

want to be here, anyway.<br />

If only they knew.<br />

Then one morning, she arrived at school<br />

looking extra tired: bags under her eyes,<br />

hair disheveled. That afternoon she had a<br />

history test. In the middle of writing her<br />

answers she became really frustrated, and<br />

slammed the paper down on her desk,<br />

as if slamming a door shut. Her teacher<br />

looked at her and thought, What does she<br />

expect if she stays up all night on the phone or<br />

on Facebook? Then something in the girl’s<br />

eyes caught her attention.<br />

And so, later in the day, when her<br />

teacher happened to find her alone in<br />

the hallway, she stopped her. The girl<br />

immediately struck a defensive pose,<br />

pulling down her skirt, waiting to hear<br />

what she had done wrong this time. But<br />

the teacher said very gently, “You look<br />

really tired. Did you have a hard night?<br />

She looked back at her teacher with<br />

eyes that seemed to say, “I was waiting for<br />

someone to ask.” Her whole demeanor<br />

changed. She took a deep breath, relaxed<br />

her shoulders, and then said, “Well,<br />

my older sister had to have a medical<br />

procedure today. It was a brain scan, and<br />

she wasn’t allowed to sleep all night, so<br />

I had to keep her awake. It was hard. I<br />

tried showing her videos, telling her jokes.<br />

Whenever she started to doze I had to<br />

think creatively to prevent her from falling<br />

asleep.”<br />

The teacher was surprised. “You have<br />

an older sister? She must not go to school<br />

here, because I never met her.”<br />

“Yeah, she’s a year older than me. But<br />

she has developmental delays, and a lot of<br />

medical conditions.”<br />

“So you were the one who had to stay<br />

up with her all night?”<br />

“Well, my mom is in a psychiatric<br />

facility, and it’s way too much for my dad.”<br />

“Your mother is in a psychiatric<br />

facility?” The story was only getting wilder.<br />

“Yeah. She tried to hurt herself a month<br />

ago. I found her. I called 911. They took<br />

her to a hospital, and she’s been there<br />

ever since. This is the second time it<br />

happened.”<br />

“But Pesach was three weeks ago. What<br />

did you do for Pesach?”<br />

“I know. It was really bad. My dad<br />

said everything was too hard, and he just<br />

wasn’t going to do Pesach this year. He<br />

wasn’t going to clean. He wasn’t going<br />

to cook. He said he just couldn’t. So I<br />

cleaned the whole house myself. I cooked<br />

all the meals, too. And I made both the<br />

sedarim.”<br />

“Wow! I can’t believe it. How did you<br />

do all that? How old are you again?” the<br />

teacher’s voice was incredulous, even<br />

though she tried to mask her shock.<br />

“I know. I’m only 15. It’s a lot. But what<br />

can I do?” The girl’s eyes looked sad.<br />

A girl who had no motivation? A girl<br />

who wasn’t interested in being frum? The<br />

teacher tried to process everything she<br />

had heard.<br />

If only they had known. At least she<br />

knew now.<br />

The teacher gave the girl a hug. And<br />

they both had tears in their eyes. n<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | | 37

Here<br />

Now<br />

&<br />

By Sarah Shapiro<br />

<br />


QOn behalf of the entire Ami<br />

<br />

<br />

AMy pleasure. I must say it wasn’t easy,<br />

though, in these slippers. And I’m<br />

supposed to be exempt from suffering.<br />

Q <br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

AA hoax?<br />

Q <br />

<br />

AIt’s all right. I’m just sensitive…<br />

because…well you know, it’s no picnic,<br />

being imaginary. I get so tired of people<br />

thinking I’m not real.<br />

Q <br />

<br />

APlease. Your Royal Highness.<br />

Q <br />

<br />

zt”l<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

whole mishpocha<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

AToo real?<br />

Q <br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

AI never had a life.<br />

Q <br />

AYour Royal Highness.<br />

Q <br />

<br />

<br />

ATime froze for me with that last line.<br />

For both of us. Have you ever stopped<br />

to think what it’s like for us, being limited<br />

to one dimension? Not only for me and<br />

the Prince, but for Sleeping Beauty, too,<br />

in the castle. The Beast feels the same way.<br />

So does Peter. We’re trapped.<br />

Q <br />

APan. In Never-Never Land. Where<br />

he never grows old. Little Red<br />

Riding Hood’s grandmother has the<br />

opposite problem—she was never young.<br />

Snow White, and the Queen, the whole<br />

Mirror, mirror on the wall complex.<br />

Always worrying how they look. To<br />

dwell in a fairy tale is to be imprisoned in<br />

meaninglessness. It’s like Oklahoma. No<br />

ups and downs. Everything’s always the<br />

same. It bores me to tears!<br />

Q <br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

AMy wicked stepsisters are eternally<br />

jealous of me and there’s nothing I<br />

can do about it.<br />

Q <br />

AFor what? It’s not my fault the Prince<br />

chose me. I’m pretty. They’re ugly.<br />

Q <br />

<br />

ANot so well. He has no memory of<br />

anything after that last line.<br />

Q <br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

AI am 18. I’m sick of it already.<br />

Q <br />

<br />

ANo, not the first. There’ve been a few<br />

girls here and there who have read my<br />

story, but generally speaking—and I don’t<br />

know whether this is just paranoia on my<br />

part—I really don’t feel welcome here.<br />

Q <br />

<br />

AYour Roy—<br />

Q <br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

don’t mean to be rude but it was the<br />

AI other way around. As a figment of<br />

your imagination, I found myself on your<br />

mind. It’s I who should be interviewing<br />

you. What made you think of me?<br />

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38 | | NOVEMBER 23, 2011 | 26 CHESHVAN, 5772

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Dear Editor,<br />

I’ve been following with keen interest the ongoing discussion in<br />

Ami about long-term placement for special needs young adults. As the<br />

mother of a beautiful, lovable, three-year-old boy with autism, I am part<br />

of a support network of parents of autistic children. During our tri-annual<br />

support brunch, the conversation always centers around the painful<br />

topic of long-term placement. Since my own child is still so young, and<br />

we don’t know how high-functioning he might eventually be, it is not<br />

something I’m remotely considering at the moment. But the mothers<br />

in the group whose children are older and more difficult to manage are<br />

very much interested.<br />

The problem is: There are no openings. Due to federal budget cuts,<br />

there is a freeze on new homes, and there are no slots available in the<br />

existing group homes. Some parents are desperate; autistic children<br />

can become behaviorally impossible once they hit their preteen years.<br />


With this knowledge, some parents have put their kids—some of them<br />

as young as six years old—on the waiting list of every group home in<br />

New York. If they don’t feel ready they can turn it down when there is<br />

an opening; but if they don’t act now, they will be lost when their child<br />

is in his 20s and impossible to be around.<br />

I was therefore shocked to learn through your letters page about the<br />

creation of a new home this spring; I hope my friends who need this<br />

are aware of it. To the mother of the letter in issue #46: If your son is<br />

currently not in need of this home, you are doing a tremendous chessed<br />

by leaving his slot open to other desperate parents. But I hope you’ll<br />

leave him on the waiting list, because slots for long-term placements are<br />

extremely rare and precious.<br />

P.D.<br />

WRITE TO US:<br />


1575 50 th St., Brooklyn, NY 11219<br />

Phone: (718) 534-8800 | Fax: (718) 484-7731<br />

letters@amimagazine.org<br />

<br />

<br />

You can have your cake and eat it, too<br />

<br />

Dear Editor,<br />

Thanks for your amazing magazine, which is a<br />

delight to read week after week.<br />

I would like to respond to your article about<br />

children being too attached to their parents.<br />

I live in Williamsburg, and feel that some points<br />

in the article were somewhat misrepresented.<br />

Your assessment of couples spending more time<br />

with the wife’s parents for suppers and Shabbosim/<br />

Yomim Tovim is incorrect. If both the husband’s<br />

and wife’s parents reside in Williamsburg, then the<br />

time spent with both sets of parents with regard to<br />

meals is divided equally.<br />

Also, concerning eating meals at parents’ homes:<br />

In general, I remember my kallah teacher telling<br />

us to be smart and to use our time wisely to spend<br />

time with one another while it was just the two of<br />

us. So I remember many times when we would pick<br />

up our supper from our parents, and eat it at home.<br />

Although living away from parents makes you rely<br />

on each other more, there’s no reason why you cannot<br />

have a similar close relationship even if you live<br />

nearby. I believe that every situation can be worked<br />

out accordingly. You just need to use wisdom and<br />

common sense.<br />

In my case, my parents live in the neighborhood,<br />

and it didn’t have an impact on building our<br />

relationship. I set up boundaries for our privacy<br />

and our commitment early on, which my parents<br />

respected very much. With Hashem’s help, we<br />

have built a relationship where we each rely on<br />

each other for everything from shopping advice, to<br />

friendship, to all major decisions and so on.<br />

While most of my family and friends live nearby,<br />

my husband is certainly my very best friend.<br />

R.S.<br />

8 | | DECEMBER 30, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

Hospice care truly remarkable<br />

<br />

Dear Editor,<br />

I always enjoy your<br />

“Clean Bill” columns,<br />

but last week’s<br />

story really hit home.<br />

Unfortunately, in<br />

the past year I have<br />

also gained firsthand<br />

knowledge about<br />

palliative and hospice<br />

care—although I<br />

would have definitely<br />

preferred to remain<br />

ignorant, and still<br />

have my parents alive!<br />

Nonetheless, I am<br />

truly grateful that they were both able to avail themselves of this wonderful option,<br />

which didn’t exist too many years ago.<br />

My mother fought a brave battle (sounds like a cliché, but it’s true) against her<br />

disease for three years. When the doctors suddenly announced that they had run out<br />

of treatment strategies she was genuinely surprised. As her condition deteriorated,<br />

she was the one who made the choice to enter hospice care. The doctors and nurses<br />

who specialize in this field are amazing. I could not believe the skill with which they<br />

explained her situation to her, with kindness, and without being patronizing. When<br />

they gave her the option of having them repeatedly resuscitate her, and told her that<br />

the procedure would be painful, would probably break her ribs, and would ultimately<br />

not make much of a difference, she declined. The offer of palliative care—being<br />

unhooked from all the invasive equipment and being pain-free—was clearly the best<br />

alternative to her. Incredibly, she actually told one of her grandchildren that she was<br />

grateful for having such a wonderful place to die in!<br />

By contrast, my father was diagnosed with “the illness” just a week and a half<br />

before his petira. Although he was suffering from dementia, after they gave him a<br />

blood transfusion he was more alert and oriented than he’d been in months. The first<br />

thing he said upon realizing he was in a hospital was “Get me out of here! This is a<br />

crazy place! I want to go home.” A couple of days later everything had been arranged<br />

for him to receive hospice care at home. He passed away the following week. I have<br />

since found a letter dated only a few years ago in which he wrote that he never<br />

wanted to enter a nursing home. And he didn’t.<br />

The people who work in hospice care are the most unusual people I have ever met.<br />

I would never choose a job like that for all the money in the world, but I am very<br />

grateful to those who do, until the time of “Hakitzu veran’nu shochnei afar! (Awake<br />

and sing, you who dwell in dust!)” (Yeshayahu 26: 16)<br />


1/3<br />

{w} 2.5 X {h} 10.3<br />

H. Gutchin


Choose<br />

Your<br />

Battles<br />

Choosing our battles<br />


Jacob heard that he<br />

had defiled Dina his<br />

daughter; and his sons<br />

“Now,<br />

were with his cattle in<br />

the field; and Jacob held his peace until<br />

they came.” (Bereishis 34:5)<br />

When Yaakov’s daughter Dina was<br />

accosted by a Canaani, Yaakov was, of<br />

course, devastated. But after weighing his<br />

options, he decided to hold his peace. He<br />

didn’t seek revenge, but instead hoped to<br />

foster amiable relations with the people<br />

who would be his neighbors.<br />

Yaakov’s sons, however, were unable<br />

to even consider forgiving the men they<br />

viewed as the vilest of enemies. Their<br />

approach to the situation was to kill the<br />

offenders and everyone associated with<br />

them, to wipe out any sign that they<br />

had ever existed. After Shechem and<br />

all the residents of his community had<br />

been circumcised, Shimon and Levi took<br />

advantage of the moment.<br />

“And it came to pass on the third day,<br />

when they were in pain, that two of<br />

the sons of Yaakov—Shimon and Levi,<br />

Dina’s brothers—took each man his<br />

sword, and came upon the city unawares,<br />

and slew all the males.” (Bereishis 34:25)<br />

After the deed was done, Yaakov was<br />

disappointed in his sons and worried<br />

about how their actions would appear to<br />

others. He was afraid that one violent act<br />

would lead to another, and that the peace<br />

Yaakov sought for himself and his family<br />

would never be achieved.<br />

“And Yaakov said to Shimon and<br />

Levi, ‘You have troubled me, to make<br />

me odious to the inhabitants of the land,<br />

even to the Canaanites and the Perizzites;<br />

and, I being few in number, they will<br />

gather themselves together against me<br />

and smite me; and I shall be destroyed,<br />

I and my house. And they said: ‘Should<br />

one deal with our sister as with a harlot?’”<br />

(Bereishis 34:30-31)<br />

Yaakov’s sons still felt that their<br />

conduct had been justified. To them, the<br />

honor of their family, of their sister, came<br />

before any consideration of alliance with<br />

strangers.<br />

v<br />

Today, just as in Biblical times, when<br />

one nation commits a wrong against<br />

another or even against its own people,<br />

the injured party can either turn the other<br />

cheek or engage in acts of warfare. The<br />

Israeli government and its armed forces<br />

face daily challenges regarding how to<br />

deal with terrorists who threaten and<br />

harm innocent Jews. The United States<br />

made decisions affecting thousands of<br />

American soldiers and their families when<br />

military action was initiated in Vietnam,<br />

Iraq, and Afghanistan. And when no<br />

violent act has been committed as of<br />

yet, but the possibility seems imminent,<br />

how should the world react? In the case<br />

of Iran, the peace-loving nations of the<br />

world have reached an impasse: Do we<br />

keep pushing for a peaceful solution, or<br />

do we follow an extreme path of action to<br />

prevent wide-scale disaster?<br />

Within our small <strong>Jewish</strong> “world,”<br />

we have an obligation to protect the<br />

spiritual well-being of our communities<br />

and families. We do our best to shelter<br />

our spouses and children from outside<br />

influences that threaten to lead them off<br />

the path of Torah. But before taking any<br />

major action in life, we need to define our<br />

agenda. Even within our own families<br />

we must focus on our goals, and carefully<br />

calculate our plan of action. If a child<br />

breaks one of our rules, is punishment<br />

necessary, or is compromise preferable as<br />

a means of regaining peace? If our spouse<br />

commits a despicable deed, can we ever<br />

forgive, or is the only solution a drastic<br />

one?<br />

Yaakov never accepted his sons’<br />

approach in dealing with their family<br />

crisis. In Parshas Vayechi, when Yaakov<br />

blesses his sons, he says, “Shimon and<br />

Levi are brothers; instruments of violence<br />

are their wares. Let my soul not come<br />

into their council; let my honor not unite<br />

with their assembly, for in their wrath<br />

they killed a man.” (Bereishis 49:5-6)<br />

If the violation of Dina was not cause<br />

enough for war in the eyes of Yaakov<br />

Avinu, then how very careful we need to<br />

be, when choosing our battles over less<br />

serious offenses. n<br />

8 | | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

GOLDEN NUGGETS // by Adele Jacobs<br />



If anyone could pierce the heavens with<br />

his tefillos, surely it was Rabbi Dov Ber,<br />

the Maggid of Mezritch. Therefore,<br />

when the Russian ruler instituted<br />

several evil decrees against the <strong>Jewish</strong><br />

people, it was no wonder that the eyes of<br />

the community turned to Mezritch and<br />

its Rebbe.<br />

In truth, though, the Maggid was<br />

already very ill and weak. One of his<br />

followers, Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzhensk,<br />

was therefore worried that perhaps the<br />

Maggid would not have the strength to<br />

plead with his usual fervor.<br />

“We will fast or do whatever you wish,<br />

to help you,” Rabbi Elimelech assured the<br />

Maggid.<br />

“There is no need for a public fast. In<br />

fact, there is no need for me to leave my<br />

sickbed and go daven.”<br />

“But, Rebbe—” Rabbi Elimelech<br />

couldn’t help but blurt out.<br />

“Don’t worry. I am very aware of the<br />

gravity of the situation. But very soon I<br />

will be in a much better position to plead<br />

on behalf of the <strong>Jewish</strong> people. Soon I<br />

will be leaving this world. When I do, I<br />

will go straight to the heavenly throne,<br />

and I will not leave until these decrees<br />

have been annulled.”<br />

A few weeks later the Maggid did,<br />

indeed, leave this world. During the<br />

week of shiva, while everyone else was<br />

bemoaning the loss of their leader and<br />

advocate, Rabbi Elimelech was calm.<br />

But as the weeks passed and the edicts<br />

remained in place, even he began to<br />

worry.<br />

It was unthinkable that the Maggid’s<br />

pleas, which had been so effective in this<br />

world, had lost their power in the World<br />

of Truth. It was also unthinkable that<br />

the Maggid no longer cared about the<br />

people he had left behind. Why, then,<br />

had nothing changed?<br />

Rabbi Elimelech went to the Maggid’s<br />

kever, where he asked Hashem to help<br />

him understand why the Maggid had<br />

seemingly not kept his promise.<br />

That night the Maggid appeared to<br />

Rabbi Elimelech in a dream.<br />

“Know that I haven’t forgotten you,”<br />

said the Maggid, “but things look<br />

different from here. When I lived among<br />

you, I shared your view that these decrees<br />

and all the suffering that am Yisrael<br />

has endured are a terrible thing. Now,<br />

though, I view the world below from a<br />

different perspective.”<br />

“But, Rebbe, people are in so much<br />

pain,” Rebbe Elimelech pleaded in his<br />

dream.<br />

“I can no longer help you. Because<br />

I no longer see these decrees as being<br />

bad for the <strong>Jewish</strong> people, I can not<br />

daven to have them annulled. But you,<br />

who feel the evil of the decree, must<br />

call out to Hashem yourselves and<br />

plead for what you think you need. And<br />

may your cries succeed in opening up<br />

the Gates of Mercy, if it is the will of<br />

Hashem.” <br />

C. WOLCOWITZ | 917.202.2593<br />

SPECIAL!<br />

FRE E<br />



w/ booking of appointment<br />

*Restrictions may apply<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | | 9

Dinner is<br />

Delightful Dairy Dishes<br />

for Your CHANUKAH<br />

Dinner or Party<br />

DAIRY<br />



2 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 Photography: | 11 KISLEV, John 5772 Uher Food Styling: Studioestherdeutsch@gmail.com

For years, I would receive the Dean and Deluca catalog in the mail.<br />

Before tossing it in the trash along with the rest of my junk mail, I would<br />

naturally study the photos of the food items, page by page. (You never<br />

know where you’ll find inspiration.) They always featured a famous sour<br />

cream apple pie with a walnut streusel by “The Little Pie Co.” that had<br />

me salivating. And, because I’ll take a good piece of pie over a sophisticated<br />

pastry any day, I just had to taste what looked like pie heaven. I<br />

scoured the Internet for this famous recipe. Dozens of websites claimed<br />

that they had the exact “The Little Pie Co.” recipe—all vastly different<br />

variations though. Because I couldn’t compare all these recipes to the<br />

original pie, I was on my own. What renders this pie unique is using a<br />

combination of apples to produce a mélange of textures and flavors that’s<br />

perfectly complemented by the walnut streusel. I also love how the sour<br />

cream gives this pie a slightly piquant taste, instead of tasting overly<br />

sweet. Although I can’t vouch for how my version compares to the original<br />

recipe, it doesn’t matter. This beats regular apple pie any day.<br />

Welcome to my kitchen. Life happens here.<br />




<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

4 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772

-<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

2 large Bartlett or Anjou pears,<br />

peeled cored and cut lengthwise<br />

into 8ths<br />

¼ cup lemon juice<br />

¼ cup brown sugar<br />

10 ounces baby spinach<br />

1 cup honey glazed pecans<br />

¾ - 1 cup Craisins<br />

1 cup pomegranate seeds<br />

Goat cheese or feta cheese (for dairy,<br />

optional)<br />

For the dressing:<br />

<br />

2 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar<br />

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard<br />

1 clove garlic, minced<br />

½ teaspoon kosher salt<br />

<br />

Juice of caramelized pears<br />

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Dip all<br />

sides of sliced pears in lemon juice, and<br />

then dip in brown sugar. Arrange the<br />

pears in a single layer on a large baking<br />

pan. Roast for 25 minutes. Remove<br />

from heat, and allow to cool to room<br />

temperature. Cut each pear wedge<br />

into 1-inch thick slices. Reserve pear<br />

juice that has been released during the<br />

roasting.<br />

2. To prepare the dressing: In a small<br />

bowl or cruet, vigorously whisk the oil,<br />

vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, and<br />

the reserved pear juice together until<br />

combined well.<br />

3. Toss dressing with baby spinach,<br />

pears, glazed pecans, and Craisins.<br />

Sprinkle pomegranate seeds evenly over<br />

the top of the salad. Serve immediately.<br />

For a dairy version, sprinkle the top of<br />

the salad with crumbled goat or feta<br />

cheese.<br />

<br />


11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | WHISK | 5

6 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772<br />



-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />



-<br />

<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | WHISK | 7




1 pound linguine pasta<br />

For the sauce:<br />

½ cup (1 stick) butter<br />

16 ounces (2 boxes) white button<br />

mushrooms, quartered<br />

3 cloves garlic, minced<br />

½ cup good quality dry white wine<br />

1 cup heavy cream<br />

¾ cup Parmesan cheese<br />

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more<br />

Fresh black pepper<br />

Optional garnish:<br />

fresh basil<br />

parsley<br />

Parmesan cheese<br />

1. Cook pasta until al dente according to<br />

package directions; drain.<br />

2. To prepare the sauce: In a large skillet,<br />

melt butter over medium heat. Add<br />

mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are<br />

lightly browned and soft, approximately 5<br />

minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another<br />

minute. Add wine and allow to reduce for<br />

4 - 5 minutes. Add heavy cream, parmesan<br />

cheese, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 - 3<br />

minutes, stirring occasionally until slightly<br />

thickened.<br />

3. Lower heat to low and fold linguine<br />

into sauce, mixing well until all strands are<br />

coated well. Add additional kosher salt and<br />

pepper as needed. Garnish with fresh basil<br />

or parsley and/or Parmesan cheese. Serve<br />

hot.<br />

Yield: serves 4<br />



<br />

2 frozen 9-inch-deep dough pie crusts<br />

(not graham cracker crust)<br />

<br />

1 ¼ cups sour cream<br />

¾ cup sugar<br />

<br />

¼ teaspoon salt<br />

1 egg<br />

2 teaspoons vanilla extract<br />

3 Granny Smith apples, sliced thin (1/8-<br />

inch thick)<br />

3 Cortland apples, sliced thin (1/8-inch<br />

thick)<br />

1 Gala or McIntosh apple sliced thin (1/8-<br />

inch thick)<br />

For the walnut streusel topping:<br />

¾ cup chopped walnuts<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon<br />

pinch of salt<br />

8 (1 stick) tablespoons butter, melted<br />

Optional garnish:<br />

store bought caramel sauce<br />

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl,<br />

<br />

and vanilla. Stir in sliced apples. Pour into<br />

2 pie crusts. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce<br />

oven to 350°F and bake for 35 minutes<br />

longer.<br />

2. To prepare the crumb topping: Combine<br />

<br />

cinnamon, and salt. Stir in melted butter and<br />

mix until crumb forms.<br />

3. Sprinkle the topping over the 2 pies<br />

and bake for an additional 30 - 35 minutes<br />

until golden. Cool at room temperature for<br />

several hours before serving.<br />

After refrigerating, bring to room<br />

temperature before serving.<br />

<br />



layer 1:<br />

<br />

¼ cup sugar<br />

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar<br />

Pinch salt<br />

½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into squares<br />

1 large egg yolk<br />

layer 2:<br />

2 cups store bought caramel cream (I like<br />

Baker’s Choice) at room temperature (so<br />

that it’s easy to mix)<br />

1 ½ cups chopped roasted salted<br />

peanuts<br />

layer 3:<br />

7 ounces (2 bars) bittersweet chocolate<br />

¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter<br />

Chopped roasted salted nuts, for<br />

sprinkling<br />

1.<br />

until a dough forms. Put the dough in a<br />

<br />

hands until you have a smooth, thin layer.<br />

Put the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes<br />

and preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the<br />

dough straight from the freezer for 15<br />

minutes and let cool.<br />

2. Prepare the second layer: Combine<br />

caramel cream and peanuts. Pour the<br />

<br />

<br />

3. Prepare the third layer: Microwave<br />

chocolate and butter until melted. Be<br />

careful: Don’t let it burn. Smooth the<br />

chocolate on top of the caramel layer with<br />

a spatula, sprinkle chopped salted peanuts<br />

on top. Freeze until ready to serve. When<br />

serving, cut the dessert into squares while<br />

still slightly frozen and plate. Bring to room<br />

temperature for at least 15 minutes and<br />

serve.<br />

<br />

8 | WHISK | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | 11 KISLEV, 5772


<br />

<br />

<br />

-<br />

<br />

1 large onion, diced<br />

¼ cup (½ stick) butter<br />

10 ounces frozen spinach<br />

3 cloves garlic, minced<br />

<br />

5 cups water mixed with msg-free,<br />

pareve chicken soup powder, prepared<br />

according to package directions<br />

1 teaspoon kosher salt<br />

<br />

1 dash nutmeg<br />

1 cup whole milk<br />

1 cup heavy cream<br />

For optional garnishes:<br />

Toasted pine nuts<br />

Baby spinach leaves<br />

Herbed goat cheese<br />

1. Sauté the onion in butter over medium<br />

heat for 5 - 7 minutes, until translucent.<br />

Add spinach and garlic, sauté for 2 more<br />

<br />

stock gradually. Season with salt, pepper,<br />

and nutmeg. Simmer uncovered for 25<br />

minutes. Add milk and cream and cook<br />

another 15 minutes uncovered.<br />

2. Puree with an immersion blender until<br />

<br />

minutes. Season to taste with additional<br />

seasoning if needed. Serve hot with toasted<br />

pine nuts. Garnish with fresh baby spinach<br />

leaves and/or herbed goat cheese.<br />

<br />

11 KISLEV, 5772 | DECEMBER 7, 2011 | WHISK | 9