Articles From March 2017

Dreams Come True: Journey to Nachlaot: The Aliyah of the Deutsch


nachalot

Meandering the quaint, winding alleyways of Nachlaot, I feel transported to an earlier era. This intriguing enclave in central Jerusalem is sandwiched between the busy thoroughfare of Rechov Yaffo, Machane Yehuda shuk, the quieter residential neighborhood of Sha’arei Chesed, and the expansive, grassy Sacher Park. Nachlaot’s various neighborhoods date back to the late 1870s, when overcrowding in the Old City caused a notable portion of its population to relocate. Many artists as well as colorful residents of all types and stripes live here create a mystique and vibe of diversity and inclusion. My curiosity is piqued. I want to know more about Nachlaot and meet its residents.

I head toward the home of Tzvi and Shaindel Deutsch and chat with Shaindel about her aliyah journey over a cup of tea. Shaindel Siskind Deutsch was born and raised in Baltimore until age 12, when she relocated to Israel with her parents and two brothers. The year was 2001, and Shaindel’s parents, Mark and Paula Siskind, had been contemplating aliyah for several years before deciding on the right time to make a go for it. The Siskind children did not make official aliyah together with their parents, so that they would be able to get their own aliyah benefits later on in life if they chose to remain in Israel.


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A Pesach Wine Primer


wine

As many are beginning to discover, the image of kosher wine has evolved past the syrupy-sweet Concords of shul kiddush and your Zaidy’s Seder to one of burgeoning possibilities. Today, there are over 3,000 kosher wines on the open market, and that number is growing. Almost all of the great wine regions in the world are producing kosher wines, including France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, California, and, yes, Israel.

Israel’s Mediterranean climate is perfectly suited for winemaking, with hundreds of wineries now putting Israel on the map as an important wine region. We find in Parshas Devarim that the fruit of the vine was one of the shiva minim, the seven species, of Eretz Yisrael. Tanach is peppered with references to wine and winemaking. So, viticulture is nothing new in Israel. In fact, archaeological digs consistently find ancient wine presses. Some have even been resuscitated into modern wineries. The story of the return of winemaking to the Land mirrors the story of the mass return of the Jewish people to Israel. But that’s another story for another time.


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All About Chutzpa


aineklach

Is there a Yiddle who does not know the meaning of the word “chutzpa”? Is there even a nochri (non-Jew) who doesn’t? The closest translation of the word may be “a lot of nerve.” From this you see that a single Yiddish word has more impact than several English ones. No wonder chutzpa has become part of the American lingo.

As we all know, an early lesson that parents should teach their children is to be a mentch and to avoid chutzpa. But while we’ve all heard many maises (stories) regarding how to be a mentch, we’ve not heard as many about chutzpa. (Of course, being a mentch includes avoiding chutzpa.) With that understood, here are a few examples of chutzpa, past and present, that illuminate the word and its meaning.


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Turkish Air and the Ma Nishtana


turkish airlines

Ma Nishtana halaila hazeh….? On all other nights we eat chometz or matza, but on this night we eat only matza….”

Those of us who live in Israel but have children and grandchildren living in chutz la’aretz, or vice versa, will certainly identify with my predicament. My daughter, who lives in New Jersey, was expecting right before Pesach, with the probability of a bris on erev Yom Tov or on Yom Tov itself. With Pesach coming on Sunday night, it meant that, should she have a boy, it would be impossible or at least very difficult for me to attend the bris. I admit to a lot of disappointment; up to that time, I had not missed a single bris of any of my (at the time, nine) grandsons, two of which involved my spending Shabbos in Flatbush, where my son lives with his family. But the timing of this baby’s arrival, two weeks before Pesach, complicated matters, particularly since I was scheduled to give a Shabbos Hagadol drasha in our neighborhood in Yerushalayim.


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Costa Rica: The Tiny Paradise


costa rica

The first time I gave thought to Costa Rica was after viewing Jurassic Park, a 1993 science-fiction adventure film about a wildlife park of cloned dinosaurs. The setting of Steven Spielberg’s movie seemed so balmy, so pristine, so lush with greenery, that it was only natural that dinosaurs could survive there. It was supposedly on an island off Costa Rica, although I found out only while writing this article that it was actually filmed in Hawaii! Wherever it was filmed, the impression created was of a paradise of totally unspoiled nature.

* * *

Winter hit Israel, and I was catching every new virus floating in the air. I shivered from the cold and wet that seemed to penetrate the walls of my old apartment in Rechavia. One day, an email from a kosher tour company caught my eye. They were going to Costa Rica, of all places! I checked out the itinerary: volcanos, waterfalls, and parks with abundant wildlife, birds, and exotic plants. Costa Rica lies in the tropics, between 8 and 11 degrees north of the equator (about 880 miles), and I learned that the weather in January – the driest month (it rains a lot) – was in the seventies and eighties. It was tantalizing to think about taking off my heavy winter coat and walking around in short sleeves, wading through a thick jungle with screeching monkeys swinging on vines from tree to tree over my head, and watching the sun set in magnificent colors over the ocean.

Costa Rica is part of Central America. It is bounded by Nicaragua on the north and Panama on the south, and stretches between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It has four million residents, with one million living in San Jose, its capital. There are another one million illegal immigrants who fled from corrupt, war-torn Nicaragua. They do all the hard manual work in the country. Costa Rica has no army! That allows it to sponsor free compulsory education, which stabilizes the country and its democracy.


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Shalom Bayis


jewish

Dear Dr. Weisbord,

We are fortunate in having our parents living nearby and invite them often for Shabbos lunch. My wife is generous and caring and has always gone along with this arrangement. My parents are rather outspoken, especially my mother. I enjoy their conversation and am used to my mother’s opinionated ways. I mostly take them with a grain of salt. She can tell me I shouldn’t allow a child to do this or that, or criticize their behavior, and I just nod and then do what I want. However, it upsets my wife a lot. Last time they came over, the kids were a little wild, and my mother criticized our six-year-old. My wife got angry and told her she had no right to discipline our kids. My parents were in shock and hurriedly bentched and left. It was extremely unpleasant. I don’t know where to go from here. Do we owe them an apology? Should they come less often? Should my wife chill out? Our children are fairly young now, but how do we explain the situation to them when they are older? Any tips would be appreciated.

Wants Family Peace Again

 


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Dreams Come True : Journey to Be’er Sheva: The Aliyah of the Neuman Family


be'er sheva

“Wow,” I exclaimed to my friend as we walked the streets of Be’er Sheva, “this must be the greenest city I have seen in all of Israel!” We had traversed miles of beautiful fields and landscape to spend Shabbos with former Baltimoreans Rabbi Yaakov and Judy Neuman and to check out their community. Now we entertained ourselves exploring expansive areas of green grass among the lovely houses and apartment buildings that comprise this sprawling city in the Negev. I was soon to find other delights unique to Be’er Sheva.

We arrived early on Friday, and after we settled in, Judy kindly served us a light lunch and encouraged us to have some fun and walk to the largest Eco mall in the entire Middle East, only about five minutes from her home. An Eco mall, I learned is an environmentally-friendly mall, where, for example, the light is generated from solar panels, among other innovations. Be’er Sheva, we discovered, has malls and shopping centers galore, lots of culture, museums, as well as ancient archaeological sites.


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Venahafoch Hu: Tips for Eating from Megillas Esther: Restoring Sanctity to Eating … and to the Rest of our Lives


hamantashen

There are a number of lessons we can learn from Megillas Esther to help us with compulsive eating and, in general, with behaviors we would like to modify. Some of these have been discussed in previous articles in this series, which are available on the Where What When website.

Feel full and complete, not lacking: Haman had only one person (Mordechai) who did not bow down to him, and it was worth nothing to him that everyone else did bow down. He could not perceive himself as “full,” only as “lacking.” He inherited this bad trait from Adam’s eating of the Tree of Knowledge. Adam (Eve is included with Adam here) could eat from any tree in the garden but one. The serpent was able to convince Eve that she was lacking something, until she could not stand it and ate. This is one interpretation of the connection of Haman to the word “hamin” (both spelled H-M-N). Haman’s essence is included in Hashem’s question to Adam, “Hamin ha’etz… did you eat from the tree?”


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Thank You, Lamont, Patti, Jorge, Hector, Michelle, Truman, and Christopher!


lamont

How many of us take the time out of our busy lives to recognize those who help us? They may be home health companions, waiters and waitresses, grocery baggers, shopkeepers, and even neighbors. All of them give us a helping hand. Here is just a small sampling of the many wonderful people who go above and beyond duty in aiding members of our community with a warm smile and a full heart.

Bags Are his Business

If you’ve shopped at Seven Mile Market, you know Lamont. Like the proverbial postman, Lamont has been loading customers’ vehicles with the familiar blue bags 40 hours a week in rain or snow, sleet or heat. Yossi Lax, a fellow employee, remarks, “People really love Lamont because he knows what everyone needs and even remembers where they parked their car. On erev Shabbos or Yom Tov, he knows exactly what to say: “Have a good Shabbos!’ or ‘Have a good Yom Tov!’ I would call him ‘Lamentsch’ because he is a mentsch. I don’t remember a Friday that he didn’t buy flowers to bring home to his wife.”


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Purim Recipes


skewers

Purim is coming! (Of course, that means Pesach is also coming, but I’m not going to think about that yet.) Filled with friends, family, and food, Purim is one of my favorite holidays. One thing I love is to see so many people I don’t normally get to see. Dropping off shalach manos and sharing a seuda, it is a time filled with achdus: brotherhood and unity.

Here is an easy menu for the Purim seuda. Serve the dips with challa for a pre-appetizer course. Then serve the soup and egg roll together (you can dip the egg roll into the Thai Coconut Corn Soup!). The brisket can be made ahead and frozen, and the zaatar oil dip keeps for three weeks in the fridge. 

 


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Amona and the Arrangements Law


amona

Before the Oslo “peace” accords, there were no hilltop outposts. When a group of Jews wanted to start a new town in Judea and Samaria, on empty government land, they did so, and the town immediately received governmental recognition.

       After Oslo, in order not to raise the ire of the Western powers, Israel stopped building new towns in Judea and Samaria but continued expanding old ones. Threats from such initiatives as Oslo, Wye, Annapolis, Camp David Two, etc, etc., led to the creation of “outposts,” new towns built from scratch outside the boundaries of the established towns of Judea and Samaria. The thinking was this: If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it.


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Toward a More Meaningful Purim


mishloach manos

Our Sages teach us that Purim is an even holier day than Yom Kippur, but this feeling of holiness can be hard to access. Especially for women, who are often very busy with the physical preparations and demands of the day, Purim can be a challenging holiday to relate to on a spiritual level. For that reason, many women find themselves feeling disconnected from the lofty ideals of the day.

These ideals, and the mitzvos of the day, are universal, but the way in which we connect to them must be personalized in order for our Purim to be meaningful. To do this, we need to utilize our own unique personality and strengths when relating to and engaging in the avoda (spiritual work) of Purim. This self-awareness of who we are and what works to connect us to Purim will help us (and those around us!) have a better experience overall and reduce the feelings of stress and burnout that come from pushing ourselves too hard, particularly in areas that don’t come as naturally to our personalities.


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Behind The Scenes at CPAC with Ambassador John Bolton


john bolton


 

Over 10,000 activists from across the country poured into the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Prince George’s County on February 22-25, 2017, for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The conference, which is sponsored by the American Conservative Union (ACU), is held at the site annually. CPAC, established in 1973, is the premier gathering of the conservative political movement. This year’s conference had all of the notable names in conservative politics in attendance, such as Senator Ted Cruz, Ambassador John Bolton, Vice-President Pence, and even President Trump. It marked the first time a sitting president addressed the


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