Friday, September 21, 2018


My Stories

Part 43 (written 2014)

(Continued from previous week)

Angelika Rieber of the Gesellschaft, who does not live too far away from Schmitten, had arranged with a Herr Martin Hoffmann, a Pfarrer (Protestant Minister) to pick us up at the hotel and

Seeing Sea Stars

Chol Hamoed trips are an ancient tradition dating back thousands of years to biblical times. Our forefathers had a long Sukkos—40 years actually—but they couldn’t just sit in their sukkahs the whole time, complaining, so they went on trips. Mostly nature hikes. It was hard to come up with anything else to do because they were

Radical Roof

On Sukkot, Jews are supposed to eat in a little hut known as a sukkah. It’s not a cabana, teepee or tent. It’s also not an igloo, yurt, wikiup or tupik. It is something special and is subject to a somewhat particular set of rules.

The sukkah is not supposed to be, and in fact is not allowed

Day of Jewish Unity Promotes Worldwide Achdus

One million people spanning six continents join together in prayer.

More than 1 million people across the world gathered together on Friday, September 7, to pray for Jewish unity. This remarkable initiative, held just three days before Rosh Hashanah, was spearheaded by the organization

L’chaim!: In The Spirit of Yom Tov

L’chaim—to life—is the traditional toast one gives, particularly when toasting with distilled spirits.  Spirits were historically viewed to be life imbuing (hence the term ‘spirits’) and indeed many names for common types of liquor—whiskey, eau de vie,

The Best Way to Spend Chol Hamoed in Jerusalem: A Unique Annual Concert

“I was introduced to a young guy named Yummy Schachter, who was studying at Yeshiva University at the time, in New York 18-years-ago. I told him about United Hatzalah and asked if he could help us build awareness among the Jewish American communities. He suggested we do a concert in Israel over Chol Hamoed. He was confident that it would raise significant awareness

Menachot 28

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.

This week we learned Menachot 28. These are some highlights.

May you make a menorah-like electric lamp with seven branches?

A Pre-Simchat Torah Message to Parents of Teens

In a few short weeks, Jews all over the world will unite in celebrating the annual completion of the Torah-reading cycle. Communities, families and individuals will participate in a range of communal festivities, including singing, dancing, learning and dining. For many centuries, Simchat Torah, the climax of the Tishrei season,

Mi Yodei’a Yashuv: Sephardic and Ashkenazic Perspectives on the Yamim Noraim

The placement of a comma makes all the difference in the world. In a classic example, there is a very big difference between “Let’s eat grandma” and “Let’s eat, grandma.” Similarly, the question as to the placement of a comma in the phrase “Mi yodeia yashuv v’nicham haElokim” (Yonah 3:9) stated by the king of

What Does God Expect?

On Yom Kippur, we are privileged to read two haftarot: the first, read during Shacharit, is taken from Sefer Yishayahu, while the second haftarah, read at Mincha, is the entire Sefer Yonah. While the story of Yonah emphasizes Hashem’s capacity to forgive, the selection from the 57th and 58th prakim of Yishayahu is almost a

Shabbos Shuva: A Unique Opportunity for Growth

In May of 2017, President Trump visited Eretz Yisrael for thirty-six hours. Over 10,000 policemen were assigned to protect him in Yerushalayim alone. The U.S. shipped to Israel a nine-hundred vehicle convoy. For months in advance, the precise lineup of who would greet the president was arranged. Each person was given an exact time

Sinas Chinam vs. Ahavas Chinam

Part II

Story I: Sinas Chinam

A true story is told of a young survivor of Vietnam who called his father, letting him know that he was safe in California, awaiting the flight that would take him on the last leg of his journey home. He also related that he