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Publication Deadline: Thursday, November 28th
Keep Calm: It’s Only One Extra Chromosome
by Tzipora Frager
Summary: After the premature birth of their son, Rafael Shlomo Boruch, while attending a Shabbaton in Tennessee, Yehuda and Tzipora Frager learn he has Down syndrome. Distressed by both the diagnosis and the insensitivity of the staff, they were also buoyed by brachos from Harav and Rebbetzin Gifter, the support of their family, and the help of Dr. Steven Caplan, their pediatrician. Upon arriving home in Baltimore, they weather more ups and downs due to comments by friends and social workers. They start learning how to deal with their own emotions and decide to focus on practical matters, like getting to the bris.
As I begin to write this third article, it is Rafi’s 34th birthday, b”H, November 17, 2013. Every year on the Shabbos before Rafi’s English birthday, we have a Shabbos lunch/party in his honor at our home. Rafi’s direct care staff and their spouses come as well as his roommate Jeffrey with his direct care staff. The food is always a standard Thanksgiving Day menu, which goes well with our family’s theme of thanking Hashem (G-d) for our eldest son along with our other blessings. Rafi proudly recites in Hebrew the kiddush and gives a dvar Torah on the weekly parsha. He then digs into his traditional gefilte (chopped) fish, roasted squash soup, favorite turkey with homemade stuffing, roasted potatoes, and string beans. The dessert is always pumpkin pie, also his favorite.
Rafi is very close to his direct care staff and his roommate, whom he considers his extended “family-by-choice.” Rafi’s five siblings are quite possessive of him and don’t want to share him with his other “family,” so we usually have a separate brunch on Sunday morning, when his siblings, nieces, and nephews, zaidy, my husband, and I get together and have fun. In addition, Rafi shares his Hebrew birthday, which usually comes before his English birthday, with his niece, my daughter’s third child, a fact we make a big deal out of each year.
by Devora Schor
I just attended a bar mitzva out of town. The celebration began Thursday evening and lasted until Sunday afternoon, when the last guests left. For all that time, we were surrounded by love, excitement, and lots and lots of food. A bountiful supper was served upon our arrival on Thursday evening, and a delicious buffet brunch was available all day Friday, until candle lighting time. After the Friday night seuda, there was an oneg Shabbos with a beautifully set table and enthusiastic singing. More of the same continued until Sunday morning, when we were again served a delicious milchig buffet to escort us on our way.
I asked the baalas simcha, Leba, who had obviously been working on the details of this simcha for the last few months, “What was the first thing that you did when planning this big event.”
“Well,” Leba, laughed, “the first thing I planned was the color scheme.” In fact, I noticed that great care had been taken to please our eyes as well as our stomachs. Gorgeous pumpkin and burgundy adorned the tables throughout the simcha, including beautifully coordinated bouquets of flowers in fall colors. Even the popcorn matched the décor.
by Eli W. Schlossberg
Who am I? I am a writer, business man, husband, and father. Married for many wonderful years, I helped raise our two children, though I give my wife the real credit for doing a wonderful job. Today, baruch Hashem, I am a proud grandparent shepping much nachas. Chasdei Hashem!
Now for what I am not: I am not a social worker or certified financial counselor. Even so, hardly a day goes by that I am not sought out by persons in the community to give eitzos, advice, on life or financial situations.
Everyone Needs Advice
Working as a volunteer and mentor for Ahavas Yisrael for the last 35 years, I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with hundreds of individuals and families, including many young couples seeking financial advice. We live in challenging times, and people are faced with financial burdens that complicate their lives and often lead to family stress. My advice therefore deals with finances as well as the shalom bayis issues caused by the stress.
I am happy to be a good listener and, hopefully, a good sounding board. When people express their challenges to me, that alone can relieve stress and help couples find their own solutions to their problems. On other occasions, after listening and discussing the issues, I make an assessment of the particular circumstance and attempt to give advice based on my life experience. Indeed, my own experiences, as well as my hopefully well-honed common sense, are the only qualifications I possess. That experience gives me the confidence and capability of giving advice that I hope will help others.
Not being a professional, I do not always know if my advice is correct, but even a professional errs at times. My strength is in getting people to make decisions and take positive action. My Nana, my very wise and practical grandmother, taught me that prolonged indecision is self-destructive. I have learned that you need to move ahead. When you are moving, it’s easier to change direction if need be. People who are undecided are frozen and unable to move in any direction. Indecision – being doubtful – destroys one’s confidence, and then one is dead in the water! Once you chart a course or plan, you are fluid and action-oriented.
A Story of Incredible Perseverance and Survival, Part 2
by Rabbi Elchonon Oberstein
One who enters the vibrant kehila Shearith Israel, the Glen Avenue Shul, today and sees the panoply of shiurim and activities, the level of Torah learning, and the meticulous observance of the growing membership owes it to him or herself to know that the its mere existence is a rarity; it is an Orthodox Shul founded before the Civil War that is still Orthodox! It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen without a lot of Divine help. Let us now continue the journey:
The Era of Rabbi Mendel Feldman
In 1958, Rabbi Schwab accepted a rabbinical post in New York’s famed Khal Adath Yeshurun. President Henry P. Cohn appointed a selection committee, headed by H. Milton Lasson, which recommended Rabbi Mendel Feldman, zt”l, the first American-born rabbi of the Shul. He was also the first non-German rabbi, being a Lubavitcher chasid. In fact, Rabbi Feldman’s brilliance was recognized at a very young age. The young Rav was being groomed to be the Lubavitcher morah hora’ah, principal posek for all Lubavitcher chasidim, after the Rebbe. However, when the position of Rav of Shearith Israel became known, the Rebbe encouraged Rabbi Feldman to accept the honored position. Rabbi Feldman kept intact the German minhag hallowed by previous generations. The population of the neighborhood and the shomer Shabbos nature of the Shul led many non-German Jews to join, but the atmosphere was definitely one of “Torah im derech eretz” (the philosophy of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, zt”l).
Memories of the 1950s and 1960s