Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Orphans Always Fascinated Me

Many of them inhabited my make-believe world. From the time I was old enough to be read to, I knew Dorothy Gale who lived with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. They gave her enough love to make her long for home the whole time she was in the land of Oz. When I was eleven-years-old I met Anne Shirley, who left the Hopetown Orphanage to come to Green Gables where Matthew and Marilla loved her as much as any parent could. There were others, Heidi, Oliver Twist, the Boxcar Children, and more. The very first orphan I was acquainted with, however, was my mother.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

My Small Claim to Fame

A quarter of a century has passed since the first time I saw someone I knew on Israeli national news. It was following a terror attack on a passenger bus and my good friend, whose son had been injured in the attack, was being interviewed. Underneath all my emotions of fear, worry, and concern there was another reaction. I can’t believe someone I know is on national news.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Siblings: In Honor of My Uncle Max’s Eighth Yahrzeit

There’s a beautiful story that many children in Israel learn while still in nursery school. It’s about two brothers, one blessed with a large family and little else, the other blessed with material wealth but neither a wife nor children. They live near each other, separated by a hilltop. With sensitivity both feel the other’s lack and each one resolves to give his brother a gift from his heart. Stealthily, In the middle of the night, they make their way to each other’s property planning to secretly leave their present on the other’s land. Suddenly at the top of the hill they meet. Understanding the other’s intention they embrace. That hilltop was Mt. Moriah, the future site of the Holy Temple.

Although I didn’t learn this story until I was an adult I love it as much as if I’d known it all my life. In a way I did know it all of my life for I see in it a parable of the relationship between my father and his brother, my Uncle Max.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

In Honor of the Tenth Of Tevet Fast: Reb Yaacov's Torah Scroll: (I first published this in

Movies about religious Jews tend to make me uncomfortable. No matter how enjoyable they are I usually find that we or our faith are misrepresented. There is no better example of this thanThe Frisco Kid, the Gene Wilder film about a Polish rabbi who comes to America to lead a congregation in San Francisco. His adventurous travels across the continent make for quite an entertaining comedy. There are, however, misrepresentations galore.
In my opinion, the biggest one is when the rabbi, along with his Torah scroll, is kidnapped by Indians. The chief asks him, "If I give you back Torah, will you purify your soul through fire?" The rabbi answers, "Yes." As he is lowered into the flames, the chief makes another offer. "If I let you go, may I keep Torah?" The rabbi answers, "No." Impressed with his devotion, the chief has the fire doused and all is well.
While saving a Torah scroll is of course a very heroic deed, it is not something that Jewish law requires one to give up his life for. Yet throughout Jewish history, there are many heroic stories of Torah scrolls being rescued -- some of which could make as exciting a movie as The Frisco Kid.
One of these rescued scrolls stands in a place of honor in the living room of my neighbor, Rabbi Yaakov. High on the bookcase, covered with a velvet mantle with a gold-threaded inscription, it gives a special aura to the room. Here is its inspiring story.

Monday, December 17, 2018


There’s a classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, in which the protagonist, George Bailey, is discouraged and wishes he’d never been born. His wish is granted, for just a short time, and George is able to see what his town would have been like if he’d never existed. He realizes that he’d actually accomplished quite a lot in his almost forty years. With that realization he loses his desire to commit suicide.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

An Only in Israel Story

My husband thinks I should write this story as if it happened to someone else. If I do that, though, it wouldn’t be a first-hand account. Many wouldn’t believe the story was really true. Not only is it true, I’m not exaggerating any of it.

It began on the morning of Zot Chanukah, the last day of the holiday, the day that I’ve heard the Chazon Ish said miracles are normal and the supernatural is natural. I was on my way to a routine doctor appointment at Hadassah Hospital. Due to various reasons I’d had to miss my scheduled appointment two months earlier. Instead of waiting a full year to reschedule I was driving to my miraculous new appointment.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

What Could Be Good About Second Degree Burns: My Personal Chanukah Miracle

At the time it was the most traumatic thing that had ever happened to me; boiling grease spilled down my front, second degree burns on my left side, searing pain, and fear of terrible scars. At that time I also thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. And yet, we can usually find some good it the most horrible situations.