Articles From December 2016

Memories of a Lost Era

This memoir was written by my aunt, Mrs. Lola Grunfeld, my father’s sister, who was born around 1921 in Germany. In 1937 she and her family fled to England, where she still lives today. I found her description of growing up in a wealthy family in Frankfurt  fascinating and thought others would also find it interesting.

The education and attitudes that my grandparents bequeathed to my aunt were very different from those I taught my children sixty years later. After reading this memoir, I understood more about life in those days before World War II.  The demarcation between the rich and the poor was very obvious and accepted. The rich understood that there were responsibilities that came with the privilege of wealth. Children knew their place and understood that some things were only for adults. Learning Torah was not just for the children, but for the whole family as a unit. I hope the WWW readers will share my fascination as well.

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A Good Friend Walks In…But When?

sitting shiva

I once saw an embroidered pillow in someone’s home that read, “A good friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” The phrase resonated with me, and to this day I remember it. In the last year, one of the hardest in my life, you would think that the phrase became my reality; in some ways it has, but for others in the same circumstances, it hasn’t.

In a set of very unfortunate events, my mother passed away suddenly, and ten days later I gave birth to my first child. Here I was mourning my mother and at the same time celebrating the birth of a child who I never thought would be named after my mother. You can’t imagine the words that come out of people’s mouths while I sat shiva nine months pregnant. The words of one acquaintance of my father reverberate in my mind again and again. He approached me with pity in his eyes and said, “It’s a shame your mother will never see the baby.”

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Ask the Shadchan


To the Shadchan:

My neighbor’s oldest daughter has just started going out, and I have a gotten two calls, so far, about her and her family. People know that I am her neighbor, so they call me. I am in a quandary, because I know too much. My neighbor is a very nice and warm woman, but she suffers from terrible shalom bayis problems as well children with health problems and learning disabilities. I am her friend and sounding board, so I don’t know what to say to callers. I don’t want to hurt my friend or her daughter, who is a nice girl and deserves a chance. But I also don’t want to mislead people. If they ask specifically about these issues and I am evasive or don’t answer, I know that people will assume the worst. Even if the caller does not ask about shalom bayis, am I supposed to volunteer the information? Would I be guilty if not telling this information were to cause problems down the road? What is my responsibility? What is a smart way to handle it?


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Chesed, Lonnie Style


The first thing that struck me as I pulled into the Bnos Yisroel parking lot to attend the shloshim for Lonnie Borck, a”h, were Hatzalah’s four ambulances lined up outside the school’s entrance. It was just as touching to see Lonnie’s Hatzalah colleagues lined up against the rear wall of the auditorium in tribute throughout the almost two-hour-long gathering. Hespedim were not allowed at Lonnie’s levaya, since his petira was on Shabbos Chol Hamoed Succos. The shloshim therefore provided the opportunity to share stories of Lonnie’s extraordinary middos and his care and concern for others. 

Alan Borck, Lonnie’s brother, noted that after moving here to attend the Talmudical Academy in tenth grade, Lonnie fell in love with the Baltimore, and Baltimore fell in love with him. It is customary to learn Mishna in the niftar’s memory, because the word mishna is comprised of the same letters as the word neshama and because it helps give an ilui (elevation) to the neshama. “It was particularly appropriate to learn Mishna in Lonnie’s memory,” said his brother, “because he looked at every neshama in a special way. He went out of his way for people who were completely different than he was or not on the derech at all. We need to learn from his example.”

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Your Income Taxes 2016


The new tax season brings no earth-shattering tax law changes. The big news, of course, is the election of Donald Trump. His tax plan does call for modifications, anticipated for 2017. He certainly wants to reduce tax rates. Therefore, those with the ability to “income shift” should do so. That means arranging to earn less this year and more next year to take advantage of next year’s lower rates. If you are self-employed, for example, you could delay collecting money from your customers until January. You could also pay all outstanding expenses in 2016 that are not due until 2017, which will lower your profit this year. Since income taxes are only levied against profit, you will save. This strategy is for the wealthy, who are the ones really affected by this.

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From Boycott to Buy-cott!


It’s a shame that the customers at Goldberg’s Bagels are more homogeneous now than what we had come to expect from owner Yaakov Drebin’s clientele. Until late October, his shop catered to a mix of Jews of varying degrees of observance as well as people of different religions and ethnicities, and, of course, political affiliations. These days, most customers he sees in the shop are noticeably Orthodox. What happened to cause this change?

Campaign Fun Turns Ugly

A couple of weeks before the election, a few Republican campaigners made unannounced stops in various Pikesville locations to promote their candidates. One stop was in the parking lot outside Goldberg’s Bagels. For about 20 minutes, this diverse group, with Jews and African-American campaign people among them, gave out flyers and spoke to anyone interested in engaging in conversation. According to their reports, it was mostly a fun day for everyone. There was a lot of friendly banter and picture taking (particularly because some of the campaigners were wearing Trump masks for fun) as well as music coming from a truck emblazoned with Republican names, with Donald Trump’s prominently displayed.

According to several eye witnesses, while the group was outside Goldberg’s, a woman customer who exited the store began yelling and cursing at the Republican group outside. She was decrying their support for Trump, and also used foul language to describe the presidential candidate.

Richard B,* an African-American, was with the Trump campaigners that day and saw no problem at Goldberg’s other than the woman who was yelling. “I thought the campaigning went quite well. We all have rights to do what we do. Mr. Drebin told the woman [who was cursing] that everybody has their rights to free speech. I didn’t want to pay her any mind, so I just ignored her. We all had a good time that day.”

Mr. Drebin, who had been busy in the store and was not even aware of the campaigners outside, happened to come outside shortly after the woman customer began verbally assaulting them. 

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Crackers: Restoring Sanctity to Eating … and to the Rest of Our Lives


There is a well-known story about Reb Yissachar and Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg that is used to show the extent to which anger can be controlled. (Many versions of this story are in print; one is by Hanoch Teller, who heard it from the Bostoner Rebbe, zt”l.) After R’ Yissachar’s death, R’ Shmelke was asked to become the Rabbi of Nikolsberg. As he walked through R’ Yissachar’s empty house, which was to become his home, he smelled a beautiful fragrance. He knew that this heavenly smell meant that a wonderful good deed was performed there, and he asked around to find out what it was, but no one knew.

One day, an elderly gentile woman approached him on the street. She told him she heard he was searching for the remarkable event associated with the house, and she thought she knew what it was. When she was a young girl, she became a maid at R’ Yissachar’s house shortly before Pesach. One morning (erev Pesach), the parents and all the older children left the house, and she was alone with the younger children. The children began to cry because they were hungry. The maid looked all over the house but could not find any food for them. She finally found some crackers in a box in the closet, and fed these to the children.

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Death of a Salesman: A Tribute to Fred A. Schlossberg, Avraham ben Menachem Mendel Halevi, a”h, my Dad


I have to laugh when I hear the current wisdom about sound business management. Executives nowadays are supposed to be friendly; they are supposed to inspire and empower employees rather than boss them. In this respect, my father was way ahead of his time. Although Dad was owner, president, and later chairman of Castle Food Corporation, our family business, he never considered his position in the company to be very significant during the almost 55 years he worked in the business. Dad didn’t enjoy rank or power. To him, everyone in the workplace was important, and the main thing was that each employee did the very best at his or her particular job.

In his quiet and humble way, Dad regarded himself as a salesman. He loved people and loved the interaction with his customers and employees. With the twinkle in his eyes, his European charm and class, his fabulous sense of humor, and his fascinating stories, he captivated those around him. He was ehrlich and unassuming, and had a sweetness about him not typical of a hard-driving, aggressive businessperson. Yet when he combined all these personal qualities with the detailed and superior knowledge of his product and a strong resolve to be successful, Dad possessed everything a good salesman needed. Dad was a fabulous sales professional who made himself and his company very successful, with Hashem’s help. 

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While Israel Burned


Mr. Finkel, we are having some trouble with our son. He doesn’t fit in at a regular Talmud Torah any more, and he’s been influenced by some of the lower elements in our neighborhood. He’s really such a sweet kid. And he’s smart. He doesn’t dress chareidi anymore. He’s wearing jeans, he’s listening to goyishe music, and he’s hanging out. We want to save him while there’s still time. He’s turning 14.

What do you want from me? What do I know about these things? By the way, every time you talk to me, you are complaining about your husband. It makes me very uncomfortable. I hope you don’t do that in front of your children…. You do? Don’t you think that hurts them?

Have you heard of Kav La’Noar in Jerusalem? You’ve been to them already? What about the vocational school in Kfar Zeitim in the Galil? I had suggested it to you and you cancelled at the last minute … Oh, you heard that they don’t do much Torah learning up there? That it’s really meant for kids who are hanging by a thread?... I was very impressed by the place. The kids who came up with me with their moms were actually excited when they got there. It was facing Mt. Arbel near the Kinneret – stunning views. They have all kinds of therapeutic activities, including a stable of horses for the kids to ride on.… You don’t like the fact that they encourage their graduates to enroll in the army, Nachal Chareidi?… You think your kid still has the potential to learn Torah?… You’re sending him to Blumenthal in Geulah? I wish you good luck!

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A New Jewish Hospice Program at Gilchrist Services


The first time I heard of the word “hospice” was in 1980, just six years after Connecticut Hospice, the first hospice in the U.S., opened in Branford, Connecticut. It was there that my mother, a”h, spent the last days of her life when it became too difficult for my father to care for her.

In August I sat in on a training program for volunteers at Gilchrist Hospice Care, Maryland’s largest hospice organization. It gave me a fascinating glimpse into both the world of hospice care and Gilchrist’s new Jewish outreach initiative. Mrs. Chaya Lasson, recently hired as Jewish Hospice Program Manager, arranged the training, and approached Jewish Caring Network and Bikur Cholim of Baltimore to cosponsor it.

“We thought we’d have 15 or 20 participants at the volunteer training event,” says Mrs. Lasson. “In fact, we had 65 and had to close our registration!” She is grateful for the partnership with Bikur Cholim and the JCN and hopes this will be the beginning of many more such collaborations. “Volunteers are vital and essential for the peace of mind of patients’ family members. We hope that this initial training program will encourage the participants to join the Gilchrist volunteer team.”

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Dreams Come True - Journey to Ma’ale Amos : The Aliyah of the Weinberg Family

maale amos

by Bracha Shugarman

Over 20 years ago, Aryeh and Shoshana (Suzanne) Weinberg were a typical young Baltimore family living on Fallstaff Road. What a surprise it was when they picked up and moved to Israel in 1996 with their six children, aged one to almost sixteen. Aliyah, uncommon today, was a rarity then. Shoshana chronicled the family’s experiences at the time in a series of Where What When articles. I now spend a beautiful Shabbos with the Weinbergs in their desert home and find out what has happened to them over the years.

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