Articles From March 2016

“It’s Around Here Somewhere” : How Tidying Up Can Change Your Life


“I laughed, I cried, I lost 15 pounds! I cannot recommend this book highly enough!” So said Stephen Colbert in reviewing his own book. Though I haven’t seen Colbert’s book, I suspect that many people feel the same way about Marie Kondo’s slim volume, the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. (Apparently, she didn’t want to clutter up the title with capital letters.)

As winter draws to a close, and Pesach looms ahead, the time is right to examine the remarkable cultural phenomenon triggered by this little book. How did it remain on the New York Times’ bestsellers list for over 66 weeks, take the world by storm, and achieve cult-like status? Has there never been a book written about tidying up before? Have we suddenly discovered that we have too much stuff and it needs to be organized? What happened to warrant the sale of five million copies of this book as well as licenses to print it in 40 languages? Is there something new under the sun?

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Purim in the Good Old Days


“So how was Purim celebrated when you were a kid?” asked a friend. Now that’s an interesting question, because from the time I was a young kid until the time I became an old kid, things changed considerably – not to mention after that!
 My earliest recollection of Purim was from when we lived in East Baltimore. My father, a”h, was the cantor of a shul called Bais Hamedresh Hagodol. I recall his beautiful reading of the Megilla, when suddenly, Beryl Simowits (not his real name) brought in a huge gregger, which was actually a type of noisemaker that was used to announce air raid drills. Those were the war years, and the shul had a supply room that housed (in addition to the “greggers”) air raid warden helmets, gas masks, and stacks of a magazine entitled Death to Hitler. The magazine’s front cover featured a large imaginary photo of the Nazi beast hanging like Haman. The contents of the magazine included articles about what was occurring in Europe and photos of the horrors inflicted by the chayess (beasts). It was difficult to comprehend what was happening to our people. Purim was celebrated – but in reserved tones, because people began to realize that a crazed and dangerous Haman actually existed

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Purim Pursuits: More than the Minimum

purim play

How do you spend Purim day? Listening to the Megilla? Preparing and delivering mishloach manos? Writing checks and distributing cash? Davening and reciting tehilim? Or cooking and eating the seuda? The answer for most of us is “all of the above.” Yet, Purim is a multifaceted holiday that lends itself to one-of-a-kind and creative ways to celebrate. And some individuals in our community have “specialized” in one of Purim’s beautiful mitzvos and embraced it to the fullest.

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Medicare Made Easy : Part 2: Explanation of Parts B and C

health care

In this second article on Medicare and your costs, I will explain Medicare – Part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance) and Part C (Medicare Advantage). As before, I need to start with a disclaimer that I am a private individual not affiliated with the federal Medicare program. While I worked hard to ensure the accuracy of my information, it has not been reviewed by Medicare. If there are any disagreements with official Medicare materials, those materials should be relied upon. I hope that you find the information useful.

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Purim Seuda


Baked Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Appetizer

These appetizers are delicious, fun, and gorgeous. You can put them out on the plates as a first course.   

10 oz. frozen spinach (defrosted)

1 sheet pastry dough (12x8 rectangle) 

6 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and dried

1 c. diced onions

2 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes

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Dreams Come True : Journey to Rechovot : The Aliyah of Meir and Debbie Tulkoff


Many dare to dream; some turn their dreams into reality. The next stop in my aliyah exploration leads me out of Yerushalayim to spend a Shabbos with the Tulkoff family. When the Tulkoffs made aliyah in July 2001, they moved to the predominantly Israeli city of Rechovot, an interesting choice for an English-speaking family. My curiosity is piqued, and I hope to get a taste this Shabbos of what the Rechovot community has to offer and to learn from the aliyah experience of this Baltimore family.

The Tulkoffs welcome me to their lovely home with its delightful garden on a quiet side street. Private homes are common in the Tulkoffs’ neighborhood, alongside the ubiquitous Israeli apartment buildings. Many parks and tree-lined streets give the city a suburban feel. One of the first things I notice about Rechovot is that, unlike other communities I’ve visited, the religious people live alongside the secular ones. A wide variety of shuls are situated within the radius of a few blocks. I take advantage, and on Shabbos I daven in the dati leumi shul, go to the tisch in the huge Kretchnif shul, and stop in at both the yeshiva minyan and the Sefardi shul.

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Shalom Bayis


Dear Mr. Weisbord,

I have been married happily for almost a year to a very caring and kind man. Having been involved in shidduchim not so long ago, I remember how girls would talk about marrying a “top” boy. In stories, for sure, girls are always looking for “stars.” I can honestly say that I’m glad I married a regular guy, one with whom I have shared many wonderful moments. So what’s the problem?

I was listening to the messages on our answering machine and heard a message from a psychologist telling my husband that he needs to change his appointment to a different time. I thought: That’s weird; it must be a wrong number – maybe someone with the same name. Definitely not my husband.

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The Newest Kids on Baltimore’s Elementary School Block

children playing

Once upon a time, long ago, all Baltimore children attended one of the Big Three: Talmudical Academy, Bais Yaakov, or Torah Institute. That situation persisted for a long time, but gradually, as the Orthodox population grew exponentially, many new schools were founded. Sometimes it was for ideological reasons and sometimes to cater to specific educational needs. And sometimes it was just to catch the overflow of children and provide them with a solid education in a smaller setting. Here are a few of them:

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A small start-up school eight years ago, Cheder Chabad of Baltimore continues to grow rapidly. It was founded by Rabbi Elchonon Lisbon, Rav of Chabad of Park Heights, together with Mrs. Chani Feldman, an administrator and teacher in the school since it opened.

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Israel’s Chareidi Women in the Workplace


A unique way of life has developed in Israel that is unlike that of any other country in the world. In the chareidi community, a majority of men continue to learn in yeshivos for many years, if not a lifetime, while their wives provide parnassa – historically through jobs in their own communities. This unusual and idealistic way of life was made possible by an agreement between the former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and the Chazon Ish in the earliest days of the State. The Bnai Brak gadol explained to Ben-Gurion that the Nazis had killed our Torah elite and that in order to revive it for the next generation we would need people learning full time. Ben Gurion thus accepted the idea of deferring army service for full-time learners.

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