Articles by Aidel Matskin (Berman)

Looking Back at Shemita


Last year’s shemita was a huge deal here in Eretz Yisrael – with farmers, for sure – but for us housewives as well. For us city-dwellers, who don’t own one square meter of dirt in the Holy Land, shemita changed the way we shopped, cooked, baked, ate, and took care of our houseplants and gardens. 

Today, months after Rosh Hashanah and the end of the shemita year, one might think that shemita is a thing of the past, to be remembered again in another six years. But for those of us living in Eretz Yisrael, it’s far from over. We are still dealing with shemita on a daily basis. Vegetables have kedushas shevi’is based on when they are picked, so all our vegetables are now post-shemita. Fruits, on the other hand, have kedushas shevi’is based on when they reach a specific stage of growth. The fruit being picked now reached that stage of growth many months ago, so we’re still eating shemita fruits, after the seventh year has ended. And it doesn’t stop there! We must be careful when purchasing canned goods, pre-made salads and spreads, juices, and even oil! We have to check every single package and container to make sure it doesn’t contain anything with kedushas shevi’is.

Read More:Looking Back at Shemita

Ezer Mizion: Support in Times of Need

child crying

There are many aspects of life in Eretz Yisrael that I love, but I do miss being near my family. Sometimes we are so busy with our everyday life that it is a back-burner issue. Other times it comes more to the forefront, like the Friday afternoon hustle and bustle on our block as numerous families pack up children and strollers to travel to Bubby Bnei Brak or Savta Yerushalayim for Shabbos. Yamim Tovim are a flurry of families coming and going, and Chanukah means eight days of family parties all over the country. Not for us! We can commiserate with our children who feel so left out, but we can’t make it up to them.

Read More:Ezer Mizion: Support in Times of Need

Quest for the Eternal


I apologize to all those animal lovers out there, but I must state my firm opinion: Animals are dirty, gross, yucky. Choose whatever word you want, but don’t bring them into my house. I just don’t like animals. I do not think that they are cute and cuddly. I think they are, well, I already expressed my view, so we’ll leave it at that.But…Hashem has a great sense of humor. He gives animal-hating women sons! I have a rule in my house that the boys must empty their own pockets before putting their clothes in the laundry (or throwing them on the floor under their beds!). If they don’t empty their pockets and their treasures get ruined in the wash, well, let that be a lesson for next time. I absolutely will not stick my hands into little boys’ pants pockets. What if there’s a snail collection in there?

Read More:Quest for the Eternal

Off to Israel!


Last month we took a peek behind the scenes in various Israeli homes. We saw well-behaved children and not-as-well-behaved children enjoying the infrequent visits of their American grandparents. We heard from happy mothers and stressed-out ones, both hesitant and eager to host their parents/in-laws from abroad. As with anything in life, there are always two sides to the coin. How was the experience for the American bubbies? Let’s take a look at what some of your Baltimore friends and neighbors have to say about visiting their Israeli grandchildren.

Read More:Off to Israel!

The Grandparents Are Coming!


One interesting outcome of choosing to make a life in Kiryat Sefer, rather than Baltimore where I grew up, is dealing with visits from our parents. Among my English-speaking friends in Eretz Yisrael, these tend to be rare events but ones that are accompanied by much anxiety and preparation. You see, when your parents live nearby, they get to know you much better. They know the ins and outs of your life; they know your quirks and your children’s quirks; and they hopefully come to accept it all as a package deal. But when they live far away and only come to visit once a year or even more infrequently, things work quite differently. Although all young adults have to learn to negotiate the in-law relationship, living far away and experiencing long periods of little interaction interspersed with short periods of intense interaction presents special challenges.

Read More:The Grandparents Are Coming!

Three for Elul


As the month of Elul rapidly approaches, we all begin a period of introspection. True, this month is specially designated for teshuva, but in essence, teshuva is an ongoing process, 365 days per year. I find that Hashem sends us opportunities all year long, through mundane daily occurrences, to examine our deeds. Below are just a few such reminders that I had this year.

The Dentist

There are certain things that need to be done yet always seem to get pushed off. One of them is dental appointments. There’s something about going to the dentist that scares away even the bravest non-procrastinators. Well, next week, the Matskin family is going to do it! We are going to our yearly (rather, our should-be-yearly) dental check-ups. 

Read More:Three for Elul