Articles From June 2017

Ask the Shadchan


I have been going out with a young lady, and we are close to getting engaged. She is everything I am looking for, and we talk easily and enjoy each other’s company. Something came up on our last date, however, that is disturbing and makes me question where to go from here.

The girl said, “I think I should tell you that I have debt.” It seems that she borrowed a large amount of money for graduate school. She started school, using the money for both tuition and living expenses, which is allowed by the terms of the loan. Then she dropped out during the first semester and found a job. Her family somehow spent the rest of the loan. Basically, the money is gone. Her family is not able to pay it back, and the loan is on the girl’s name, so she is responsible for it. That means that, if we get married, it will be my responsibility as well.

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Dreams Come True, Journey to Tzfat: The Aliyah of the Jacobs Family


As the bus winds its way north through green valleys and steep mountain roads, the beauty of the Galil, Galilee, unfolds before my eyes. Onward we climb towards mystical Tzfat, the highest city in all of Eretz Yisrael and one of the four “holy cities” of the Land. Alighting at the central bus station, I am struck by the beauty of Tzfat and behold the stunningly lush landscape of its surroundings. Only a short distance away are the soothing blue waters of the Kinneret, visible from my lookout, as well as the camel-hump form of the mountain upon which Meron lies, just across the wadi (valley) from Tzfat. No wonder tourists are enraptured! How pleasant it is to mill about the quiet streets this slow-paced city that has no traffic lights. Many Israelis, including chashuve Torah personalities, vacation in Tzfat, whose climate, because of its altitude, is mild in the summer, albeit cold and snowy in the winter.

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All Aboard


For some reason, optimistic people often stand out among their peers. Sometimes they’re viewed with awe, while other times, people simply find them annoying. Regardless of whether nature or nurture is responsible for their more than pleasant personalities, it is interesting to note that there is a unique group of individuals who excel in the area of optimism. The reason they don’t annoy anyone with their positive outlook is because they often go unnoticed. They are our children. Sadly, between the temper tantrums (theirs, not yours), the messes, and the squabbles, it’s easy to overlook this amazing attribute. But if we watch and listen carefully, we just might learn something.

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Dr. Jonathan Ringo’s Divine Climb to Sinai


Jonathan Ringo was six years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia. No treatment was available in his native South Africa at that time. His parents contacted various medical centers around the world, and the one facility willing to chance treatment was the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. At the time of his diagnosis, the prognosis for survival for that type of leukemia was less than five percent. His mother was 26 years old and his father was 27, and people advised them to let their son die comfortably at home. They thought it was cruel of them to take their son out of the country to die. Baruch Hashem, his parents didn’t listen and, instead, brought Jonathan to Boston, where he received an experimental chemotherapy. Presently, Dr. Ringo is one of the longest survivors of pediatric cancer.

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Seminary: Go or No?


To go or not to go? It wasn’t even a question.

 I remember the day our principal came to speak to us about seminary, way at the beginning of the year. I firmly believed I was not going to seminary. I was not wasting a year of my life on seminary, I said. Besides, all the “hock” about seminary really bothered me – I mean, how they said if you don’t go to seminary you can’t be as good a wife, mother, and person. The stupidity of that really irked me, and that was the impression I got about seminary whenever people spoke about it. Like, c’mon, no one is ever prepared before they come to a new stage of life! The beauty of human beings is that we’re adaptable; we learn on the job. You learn how to be a good wife by being a wife. You learn how to be a good mother by being a mother. There’s no “needed preparation” before stages. Hashem gives us what we need. I just hated the thought that seminary was supposed to give me all life’s tools in one year, especially after I had just sat through around 18 years of school. It was because of this “impression” that, somehow, in my mind, seminary became the enemy.

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What’s Bugging You?


It’s a dangerous world out there. That’s why we wear seatbelts, look both ways, store foods properly, stay off the roof, and generally don’t hang out with lions and tigers and bears. One danger we face at this time of the year are the diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks. Who ever heard of West Nile virus, Zika, or Lyme disease a few years ago? Today we worry about them.

The good news is that we can take steps to avoid harm by these and other pests. Yes, dangers exist, but so do precautions. There’s no need to spend our lives in bed, under the covers. Indeed, the first piece of advice I hear in my quest for information is from pediatrician Dr. Rochelle Kushner (who happens to be my daughter-in-law). “Don’t be afraid to go outside,” she says. “Don’t expect the worst, but do take precautions to protect yourself and your family.”

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