Thursday, 8 December 2011
Friday, 18 November 2011
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
A successful business is built on authentic values.
Rabbi Finkel was severely afflicted with Parkinson's disease. Our inclination was to look away.
Am I going to push the blanket to the other people, or am I going to pull it to stay warm?
The purpose of Shabbat isn't to recharge our batteries so we can work harder, but to recharge our souls so we can live better.
Sunday, 6 November 2011
Nadie entendió que hubiesen estado mejor dejando sus sillas atrás.
Janucá nos da la fortaleza para encontrar la luz pura e infinita que se esconde detrás de las cortinas de nuestras vidas.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
A smile back on her face - literally!
Raising eight children alone in the shadow of her husband's incapacitating illness, Sarah was suffering on all fronts. Money for much needed groceries, medicine and heating was completely nonexistent. Who could possibly come to her aid and pay for all these daily essentials in the bitter cold winter?
To compound the problem, Sarah a young woman in her 30's, suffered from genetic dental problems. Her extensive tooth loss caused her severe shame, and she was too embarrassed to go out in public. She spent hours crying over her plight, knowing that dental implants was not only too costly but completely out of the question when her family couldn't afford milk.
When other organizations turned her down, Karmey Chessed stepped in to help Sarah. After providing monetary assistance for the family's most basic needs, Karmey Chessed surprised Sarah with a gift of dental care, covering the entire cost of her much needed dentures. While the funds for groceries, medicine, and utilities brought joy to her home, the dental care definitely put a smile back on her face!
"Mommy, I'm thirsty!"
A small run-down apartment, with peeling paint and crumbling walls housed the eleven members of the Katz family. Although at one time they had been financially stable, their lot took a turn for the worse and business was bad. Today, nine children filled the home, but there was no income there was no funds to pay the bills.
The electricity had already been turned off when Moshe, one of the younger children, walked over to the kitchen sink. With no food in the house, he learned to fill up on water to quench his hunger. He reached over to turn on the faucet and let out a moan - there is no water either. The municipality finally gave in to its threats and cut off the water.
Learning about this dire situation, an emergency fundraising campaign was underway and Karmey Chessed collected close to $1500 for the Katz family. The funds were used to pay the family's utility bills, restoring electricity and water. Karmey Chessed toured the home and discovered how many basic household appliances were missing. The organization purchased a much needed washing machine, and stocked the fridge and pantry with food.
A Cry in the Dark
Until they moved into a slightly larger dwelling, Dina's three room apartment was packed with ten children. Unfortunately, the move did little to lessen the suffering of this needy family.
In Dina's attempt to save her children from starvation, a ten thousand shekel debt was accrued at the local grocery store. But the generosity of the grocery store owner wore thin and when he no longer allowed Dina to purchase food on credit, the cupboards were bare.
A cry is heard in the darkness - the electric company cut off the family's electric supply. Pitifully, checks return regularly due to insufficient funds. One of the children suffers from a bent back due to severe malnutrition, and this little girl requires $100,000 corrective surgery. Who can Dina turn to in her time of anguish?
Karmey Chessed is the only organization that can lift this needy family out of the debts of thier despair. The exorbitant sums were immediately collected and food baskets and volunteers are sent regularly, continuing to help Dina and her children. Thanks to Karmei, Chessed Dina and her family has finally begun to see light in their lives.
Karmey Chessed, literally translated as vineyards of kindness, offers a cluster of services for the needy Jewish family in Israel. Grapes, one of Israel's seven special species, require proper care to ensure that they grow properly. Likewise, we work tirelessly along with our dedicated volunteers to provide these families with both their physical and emotional needs. At Karmey Chessed we strive to aid unfortunate families in any possible way, helping them maintain their dignity and get back on their feet.
The organization's activities are currently centered in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Modiin, Beitar Illit, and Gush Etzion, but due to the high demand, efforts are expected to expand to other areas of the country.
An eloquent letter written by a non-Jewish Scottish professor to his students who voted to boycott Israel.by Denis MacEoin
The Edinburgh Student’s Association made a motion to boycott all things Israeli since they claim Israel is under an apartheid regime. Dr. Denis Maceoin is an expert in Middle Eastern affairs. Here is his letter to those students.
Received by e-mail from the author, Dr. Denis MacEoin, a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly,
TO: The Committee Edinburgh University Student Association.
May I be permitted to say a few words to members of the EUSA? I am an Edinburgh graduate (MA 1975) who studied Persian, Arabic and Islamic History in Buccleuch Place under William Montgomery Watt and Laurence Elwell Sutton, two of Britain's great Middle East experts in their day.
I later went on to do a PhD at Cambridge and to teach Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University. Naturally, I am the author of several books and hundreds of articles in this field. I say all that to show that I am well informed in Middle Eastern affairs and that, for that reason, I am shocked and disheartened by the EUSA motion and vote.
I am shocked for a simple reason: there is not and has never been a system of apartheid in Israel. That is not my opinion, that is fact that can be tested against reality by any Edinburgh student, should he or she choose to visit Israel to see for themselves. Let me spell this out, since I have the impression that those members of EUSA who voted for this motion are absolutely clueless in matters concerning Israel, and that they are, in all likelihood, the victims of extremely biased propaganda coming from the anti-Israel lobby.
Being anti-Israel is not in itself objectionable. But I’m not talking about ordinary criticism of Israel. I’m speaking of a hatred that permits itself no boundaries in the lies and myths it pours out. Thus, Israel is repeatedly referred to as a “Nazi” state. In what sense is this true, even as a metaphor? Where are the Israeli concentration camps? The einzatsgruppen? The SS? The Nuremberg Laws? The Final Solution? None of these things nor anything remotely resembling them exists in Israel, precisely because the Jews, more than anyone on earth, understand what Nazism stood for.
Calling Jews Nazis is as basic a way to subvert historical fact as anything I can think of.
It is claimed that there has been an Israeli Holocaust in Gaza (or elsewhere). Where? When? No honest historian would treat that claim with anything but the contempt it deserves. But calling Jews Nazis and saying they have committed a Holocaust is as basic a way to subvert historical fact as anything I can think of.
Likewise apartheid. For apartheid to exist, there would have to be a situation that closely resembled how things were in South Africa under the apartheid regime. Unfortunately for those who believe this, a weekend in any part of Israel would be enough to show how ridiculous the claim is.
That a body of university students actually fell for this and voted on it is a sad comment on the state of modern education. The most obvious focus for apartheid would be the country’s 20% Arab population. Under Israeli law, Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as Jews or anyone else; Muslims have the same rights as Jews or Christians; Baha’is, severely persecuted in Iran, flourish in Israel, where they have their world center; Ahmadi Muslims, severely persecuted in Pakistan and elsewhere, are kept safe by Israel; the holy places of all religions are protected under a specific Israeli law. Arabs form 20% of the university population (an exact echo of their percentage in the general population).
In Iran, the Bahai’s (the largest religious minority) are forbidden to study in any university or to run their own universities: why aren’t your members boycotting Iran? Arabs in Israel can go anywhere they want, unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa. They use public transport, they eat in restaurants, they go to swimming pools, they use libraries, they go to cinemas alongside Jews – something no blacks were able to do in South Africa.
Israeli hospitals not only treat Jews and Arabs, they also treat Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank. On the same wards, in the same operating theaters.
In Israel, women have the same rights as men: there is no gender apartheid. Gay men and women face no restrictions, and Palestinian gays often escape into Israel, knowing they may be killed at home.
University is supposed to be about learning to use your brain, to think rationally, to examine evidence, to reach conclusions based on solid evidence, to compare sources, to weigh up one view against one or more others. If the best Edinburgh can now produce are students who have no idea how to do any of these things, then the future is bleak.
I do not object to well-documented criticism of Israel. I do object when supposedly intelligent people single the Jewish state out above states that are horrific in their treatment of their populations. We are going through the biggest upheaval in the Middle East since the 7th and 8th centuries, and it’s clear that Arabs and Iranians are rebelling against terrifying regimes that fight back by killing their own citizens.
You have a chance to avert a very great evil, simply by using reason and a sense of fair play.
Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, do not rebel (though they are free to protest). Yet Edinburgh students mount no demonstrations and call for no boycotts against Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran . They prefer to make false accusations against one of the world’s freest countries, the only country in the Middle East that has taken in Darfur refugees, the only country in the Middle East that gives refuge to gay men and women, the only country in the Middle East that protects the Bahai’s…. Need I go on?
The imbalance is perceptible, and it sheds no credit on anyone who voted for this boycott. I ask you to show some common sense. Get information from the Israeli embassy. Ask for some speakers. Listen to more than one side. Do not make your minds up until you have given a fair hearing to both parties. You have a duty to your students, and that is to protect them from one-sided argument.
They are not at university to be propagandized. And they are certainly not there to be tricked into anti-Semitism by punishing one country among all the countries of the world, which happens to be the only Jewish state. If there had been a single Jewish state in the 1930′s (which, sadly, there was not), don’t you think Adolf Hitler would have decided to boycott it?
Your generation has a duty to ensure that the perennial racism of anti-Semitism never sets down roots among you. Today, however, there are clear signs that it has done so and is putting down more. You have a chance to avert a very great evil, simply by using reason and a sense of fair play. Please tell me that this makes sense. I have given you some of the evidence. It’s up to you to find out more.
Appreciating more with less.by Sara Yoheved Rigler
The text messages of a dying man reveal a lot about who he was. Larry Melzer, 37, was losing his 17-month battle with leukemia. Lying in a bed in an Israeli hospital, suffering from viral pneumonia after a bone marrow transplant, Larry was on a respirator. His four little daughters were at home in Jerusalem. Larry’s devoted wife Jen was at his bedside. Shabbat was approaching. Larry could not eat, drink, nor speak, but his fingers kept maneuvering his iPhone.
Shortly before Shabbat, Larry received a text message from a friend who was also battling cancer, commiserating how dreary it was to spend Shabbat in the hospital. After Shabbat the same friend wrote:
Thinking of u. Hope Shabbos was bearable!
Larry texted back:
It was great, jen was here, don’t worry it will be great
Great? He was hooked up to 15 separate antibiotic infusions, his once-athletic six-foot frame was shriveled, his handsome face aged and wizened. He had endured a Shabbat without reciting Kiddush, eating challah, singing songs, enjoying food, or embracing his beloved children. The only bright spot was that his faithful wife Jen was there. Yet Larry considered that Shabbat, “great.”
In great pain due to sores from radiation, while receiving an emergency blood transfusion, Larry said with a smile, "I’m so happy.”
A few months prior, Larry had been rushed from Jerusalem to a hospital in Haifa. As his friend Daniel Irom relates: “After a long drive, after he hadn’t slept in a few days due to being on large doses of steroids, while in great pain due to mouth and throat sores from radiation, while receiving an emergency blood transfusion, Larry turned to me with a smile that seemed to come from Heaven and said, ‘I’m so happy.’”
What was he happy about?
Larry and Jen, at the peak of their successful Yahoo careers, had a fabulous Manhattan apartment, an SUV, many DINK [Double Income No Kids] friends, and two dogs. Then they started to become interested in their Jewish heritage. In 2004, they went to Jerusalem for a six-month sabbatical to study Judaism.
There Larry fell in love with Judaism. With his personal charisma and passionate personality, he reached out to share his enthusiasm with everyone he met. While continuing to enjoy the pleasures of the physical world, he infused them with a spiritual awareness and appreciation. “More than once,” relates Gabi Leventhal, “I would be enjoying a wine, a whiskey, a delicious meal with Larry, and before we began to fulfill our appetites, Larry would redirect everyone and talk about all the kindnesses that God has done for him and for everyone else present." He transformed the enjoyment of eating to a sublime state of gratitude.
Eric Rayburn, a former single from Manhattan, recounts a conversation he had with Larry during the period of his struggling to adjust to the Spartan standard of Jerusalem while learning at Aish HaTorah. Larry said to him: “Jerusalem! This is the Wall Street of Judaism. Do you know how many people would love to trade places with you?”
“But, Larry,” Eric protested, “I live in a room without a window and it’s smaller than the second bathroom where I used to live!”
"The key is appreciating what you have. Every second is a precious million- dollar gift."
Larry, in a corporate business manager tone, replied: “I understand, and you are so lucky that the Almighty has invested His time in you to teach you how to appreciate more with less.”
“To appreciate more with less” became Larry’s approach to life. A month before he died, he posted this blog on his website:
Fighting Leukemia for me is about becoming unspoiled. I feel like I went from being a spoiled baby to a mature adult during this 16 month process. I have a zest for life I never had before!
This zest for life is indescribable. How can I possibly communicate being able to see the hand of God in everything? I live in a world where everything is perfect.
The key is appreciating what you have…. Every second is a precious million dollar gift.
Sukkot and Happiness
Sukkot is the holiday of “back to basics.” For seven days (eight in the Diaspora), we move out of our comfortable home into a flimsy sukkah. We leave behind the central heating, the furniture, the posturepedic mattress, the recessed lighting, the carpets, the hardwood flooring, the DVD player, the flat-screen TV, and—how spoiled can you get?—the rain-impervious roof. Yet this is the holiday when we have a mitzvah to be especially happy! What exactly are we supposed to be happy about?
In the snuggest juxtaposition in the Jewish calendar, Sukkot comes a mere five days after Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur, the day when every person’s destiny for the year is sealed, we pray and plead for life. Yes, we also pray for good health, livelihood, marriage, children, a new job, and whatever else we relish, but most of all we pray for life.
Then here we are, five days later, in our cramped, no-frills sukkah. We don’t have our creature comforts or our hi-tech pleasures, but we do have—life. We have no guarantee that we’ll be alive a few months—or even a few days—from now. But right now, sitting on a folding chair in the sukkah, we have life, the fulfillment of our cherished desire. Of course we should rejoice in it.
We also have relationships. No one builds a one-person sukkah. We sit in the sukkah with family — parents/siblings/spouse/
There’s one more ingredient to the joy of Sukkot. On Yom Kippur we are cleansed of all the tainting culpability that has tinged us throughout the year. We emerge from Yom Kippur pure and perfectly prepared for the closeness to God that the sukkah affords.
A simple formula: appreciate life, relationships, and closeness to God. That’s a lot to be happy about.
Larry's Final Words
For both Larry and Jen, the fact that he was dying was no excuse to stop living. At one point, after ten rounds of chemo, Larry was in remission. It seemed like he would make it, after all. Then his doctor in Haifa told Larry that she was 95% sure that he was no longer in remission. Larry phoned Jen to break the news. “Jenny, the doctor said I relapsed.”
Jen, devastated but always encouraging, replied: “It’s going to be okay.”
Sobbing, Larry continued: “The doctor wants to talk to you about when I’m going to restart chemo. She says I have to restart chemo tomorrow.” Larry paused, collected himself, and said cheerily, “But tonight let’s have a date night. Let’s go out to dinner.”
“That’s a good idea,” she enthused. “We need to have fun, not worry about it.”
He left me with a big sack of faith. That’s how a young widow with four children can face the world with a genuine smile.
“Larry had unbounded faith,” Jen recalls. “On the day he got the original diagnosis, when they told him he had a matter of days to live, Larry said to me, ‘All news is good news.’ He meant that everything is from God and therefore everything is for the good. That’s what he left me with, a big sack of faith. And that’s how, as a young widow with four children, I can face the world with a genuine smile.”
At the end, losing the battle against viral pneumonia, Larry's doctors decided to induce a coma. At that point, Jen had been with her husband for five days, around the clock. Larry clasped her hand, looked into her eyes, and with gasping breath, said, “Thank you.”
“It was clear to me, “ Jen recalls, “that Larry was thanking me for everything I had done for him during the last 17 months, for getting his medications and making sure he took them, for feeding him, being his personal nurse, taking care of the kids single-handedly, paying bills, food shopping, and keeping the family afloat. He knew he was coming to his end, so he left nothing unsaid. He thanked me. It meant: I love you; you did everything right.”
Larry knew only one way to say good-bye: Thank you.
This Sukkot, let’s acquire life's most important app — appreciation.
Jen Melzer, Larry’s widow, is available to speak to groups of women on, “My Life after Death—with Happiness.” To book her, please contact: email@example.com
Sara Yoheved Rigler’s November North American tour will take her to Canada, the Midwest, and the Tri-State area. To invite her to give her Marriage Workshop or Gratitude Workshop in your community, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org