Articles From January 2015

Chaverim’s New Text Alert System in Memory of Asher Zelig ben Tzvi, z”l


Recently, Chaverim of Baltimore sent out two tweets asking for assistance. These were not the all-volunteer organization’s run-of-the-mill pleas for help to change a flat tire, fill a stranded car’s tank with gas, direct traffic for a large car accident, do a pop-a-lock on a car or home, or jumpstart a dead car battery. Nor was it to ask Chaverim members to join forces with Baltimore’s other chesed organization team players to go on a missing person search.

The September 8, 11:17 a.m., tweet read, “Assistance needed for minyan/burial for meis mitzva, tom 3pm bnai israel cemetery in east balt.” The November 4, 7:45 a.m., tweet read: “Help needed to make shiva minyan in ellicott city at 4:40 pm today.” Both tweets asked responders to call the Chaverim hotline, 410-486-9000, if available.

Read More:Chaverim’s New Text Alert System in Memory of Asher Zelig ben Tzvi, z”l

Stop Worrying Already!


Have you ever seen the magazine called Mad? It often illustrates a yokel named Alfred E. Neuman. Alfred is depicted as a dude without a die-geh (worry) in the world. The following quote describes his philosophy: All the sleepless nights, burdened days, joyless, restless, peace-destroying, health-destroying, love-destroying hours men and women have ever in all earth’s centuries given. Worry never wrought one good thing! Perhaps this quote regarding the uselessness of worrying is on the mark – doss hayst (that means), maybe it’s right!

If someone has a worried expression, it’s probably best to leave him alone. However, if it worries you to the point of plotzing (bursting), you may ask him (or her), “Fahr voss diegehst do – Why are you worrying?” The response may simply be, “Ich diegeh nit – I’m not worrying. That’s my normal facial expression!” He may then wonder why you are draying ah kopp (confusing him).

Read More:Stop Worrying Already!

Dollars and Good Old Common, Sense Part 2


Last month, in part one of this article about the fundamentals of personal finance, I covered the importance of gathering a team of financial advisors, teaching children how to handle money, preparing for a parnassa and marriage, student loans, avoiding credit card debt, the importance of insurance, and what to look for in a job. Here I will cover more topics of interest.

I want to reiterate the basic attitude we Orthodox Jews should have towards money. It is that parnassa is truly a gift from Hashem, for which we daven every day. No matter what our financial position – barely holding on or blessed with largesse – we must always recognize that it is Hashem’s money with which we have been entrusted; our job is to manage it properly. Our job is to be same’ach bechelko, happy with our lot, and do our hishtadlus, our best efforts, to support ourselves and our family.

Read More:Dollars and Good Old Common, Sense Part 2

My Buddy Restoring Sanctity to Eating … and to the Rest of our Lives, part 27


A few months back, I started my article with the following mishna in Pirkei Avos: Rabbi Elazar haKappar said, “Hakin’a vehata’avah vehakavod motzi’im es ha’adam min ha’olam – Envy, inordinate desire, and [the search for] glory remove a man from the world.” (Pirkei Avos 4:28, translation from Bunim’s Ethics from Sinai) This month I would like to focus on another interpretation of “remove a man from the world.” R. Bunim says, “If they [these passions] remove a man from the world, they obviously do not abate as long as the person lives….they will be ‘faithful to the end’ – the bitter end that they hasten.”A strong appetite or desire does not go away. It may be pacified by feeding it one day, but the next day it is back again, a force to deal with and to accompany us throughout our lives. As Rav Yitzchak says (Kiddushin 30b) “A person’s yetzer renews itself daily”.

Read More:My Buddy Restoring Sanctity to Eating … and to the Rest of our Lives, part 27

How to Get Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth (and Other Stories)

tooth brushing

As a therapist, working with parents and children is one of my favorite duties. I have developed a comfortable parenting style and philosophy from the training and reading I have done, both Jewish and secular (see below for some of my favorite reads), and I have had the privilege of helping many parents improve their own parenting as a result. So it was with more than a little embarrassment that I caught myself doing something that I knew was ineffective and counterproductive, something that I commonly teach others not to do.

Let me start with this question: How do you get your kids to brush their teeth every night?

Read More:How to Get Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth (and Other Stories)

My Computer Is from Jupiter


I don’t know why, but there seems to come a time when you go from embracing technology as a child to running in fear of it as an adult. Let’s face it, technology is becoming smarter and quicker, and we are becoming – well, you know.

As I reflect back, I realize that the technology that molded my childhood came in dribs and drabs. It came so slowly down the pipeline that we had time to break an item and replace it with the same model. Children and parents were able to happily navigate technology together. There were fewer buttons to push, fewer choices to make, and fewer adults being left behind in the dust. I remember my father bringing home a cassette recorder – yes, this was considered technology – and showing us how to use it. We were so excited. We sang and recorded “Happy Birthday” to it as we welcomed it into our home.

Read More:My Computer Is from Jupiter

Passover Hotels: A Growing Trend

pesach seder

It’s that time of year again. Magazines and newspapers catering to our community are full of advertisements touting the advantages of various Pesach programs. The variety is amazing. Depending on one’s preferences and financial ability, families can go near or far. There are programs within easy driving distance, and there are exotic locations all over the earth. Why not celebrate Pesach in Egypt? I haven’t seen that one yet, but who knows?

Each year, one also sees articles criticizing the phenomenon: If all the money spent on vacations were donated to tzedaka, they say, we could pay the rebbeim more. Or perhaps the criticism is that Pesach is a time to be at home – because how can we deprive our children of the opportunity to share in the cleaning and koshering and myriad preparations for the Holiday of Freedom? Isn’t Pesach the focus of attention by our wives? And isn’t scouring, just as our ancestors did in Hungary, or wherever, something that they hold dear?

Read More:Passover Hotels: A Growing Trend

Nefesh International Network of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals Comes to Baltimore


An Orthodox Jewish man called an out-of-town psychologist to inquire about beginning therapy. Shortly after the client identified his presenting concern, the psychologist asked him basic demographic information, such as his name. The prospective client responded that he was uncomfortable sharing his name, both now over the phone and even later if he became a client. The psychologist was somewhat struck by this comment and tried to reassure the prospective client by explaining the strict terms of confidentiality. The prospective client replied that he comes from an Orthodox Jewish community where the stigma of coming to therapy was extremely high and that he did not want to risk the possibility that others could discover that he attended therapy. Consequently, he did not want even his own therapist to know his name. Later in the phone call, the prospective client stated that he needed to use his health insurance to pay for therapy services. The psychologist explained that he would not be able to submit claims to the insurance company without knowing the client’s name. The client understood and politely said that he then would not be able to attend therapy.

Read More:Nefesh International Network of Orthodox Mental Health Professionals Comes to Baltimore

Exploring an Additive-Free Diet?


Do you or someone in your family experience learning, mood, or behavior difficulties? Maybe your child struggles with poor self-control, disruptive behavior, or inappropriate aggression. As an adult, maybe you find yourself dealing with irritability, distraction, rashes, and restless sleep. Have you tried a few different approaches and still find yourself having difficulty? One solution that has worked for many people is to adopt a diet free of artificial colors and other additives. As you’ll see below, there’s a substantial body of research backing such an approach.

If you search online or look for books in the library on the topic of eliminating artificial colors and other additives from the diet, the most prominent name that surfaces is the Feingold Association. For more than 40 years, this organization has provided information and assistance to families who want to try a simple elimination diet.

Read More:Exploring an Additive-Free Diet?

Ask the Shadchan

jewish dating

To the Shadchan:

I am a married 24-year-old guy. My mother is really pushing me to set up my younger sister with my best friend. I would love to – I mean, who wouldn’t want to have his friend for a brother-in-law? So what’s the problem? My friend is a wonderful person, with excellent middos and well educated both in Torah and secular studies. Unfortunately, however, he is bipolar. He told me this and swore me to secrecy. He is usually on meds and is stable, but I just can’t bring myself to fix my sister up with him; there are many difficulties that I would not wish on her. My mother thinks I am being selfish by not helping my sister. How can I tell her that I really am doing the best for my sister, without betraying my friend’s trust?  


Read More:Ask the Shadchan

Miriam Liebermann’s Gratitude Shines Bright in To Fill the Sky with Stars


Miriam Liebermann’s writing career started inadvertently, 22 years ago, when she devoured Sarah Shapiro’s anthology, Our Lives II.  “The introduction to this book changed my life,” recalls Miriam, author of the new book, To Fill the Sky with Stars, an anthology of stories by and for women in midlife and beyond.

“Sarah discusses the art of writing, which she claims is actually a form of hakaras hatov, a vehicle through which we can show appreciation for our daily lives. Why is that? Those who write are much more aware of all the nuances of their lives. Always on the lookout for material to write about, nothing escapes them. Their senses are keener. Their antennas are always on alert! The details take on more significance. And as a result, their lives become much richer, much fuller. I read this and thought, ‘Sarah’s talking to me!’ I wanted my life to be as rich as possible, as full, as meaningful. I began to write short vignettes revolving around my childhood, my family, and my hopes and dreams for the future, which were published in Targum’s Horizons magazine. I started to write, and, baruch Hashem, have never stopped.”

Read More:Miriam Liebermann’s Gratitude Shines Bright in To Fill the Sky with Stars

Bnai Brak and Baltimore: Different Worlds

bnei barak

The first night I was in Bnai Brak – I had come for my niece’s wedding – my sister had to go to a PTA meeting for her daughters. It took her three hours to see two sets of teachers. It reminded me about how PTA meetings used to be in Baltimore about 10 years ago. I told her about the big change that the schools in Baltimore initiated and how we now all make appointments ahead of time, reducing the waiting time. “Maybe you can introduce that concept in Bnai Brak,” I suggested.

“It would be hard to change the way things have been for so many years,” she answered, reminding me as well that Bnai Brak has hundreds of school as compared to Baltimore’s four or five.

Read More:Bnai Brak and Baltimore: Different Worlds