An Encounter With Reb Leib Print Email

I never met Reb Leib Shainen and up to this point I've never written about him either. You see I really didn't or don't know him but then again I really do. Reb Leib was the Rov of a long ago small town in Russia, a town of fiercely pious men and women who served G-d with great diligence and fervor despite the most unfavorable material conditions. I picture the town that he led and inspired as always being cold, gray and cloudy. I don't recall really focusing on it but somewhere in the recesses of my mind I can see and feel the town of Dukcyze and it's cold and gray and no one there is smiling.

Heard In The Bagel Store No More, Part #79 Print Email

Car Pool

It's almost over, more than 10 months of checking the list---sometimes checking it twice---to see if it's our turn to drive the children to school. It's car pool. It jumps out of you from nowhere, it catches you by surprise, it happens to you when you least expect it.

Shabbos Plans Print Email

The age old question was always--- why can't they just do nothing on Shabbos just like me? Don't they know that Shabbos is Shabbos, the one day that you cease the running and jumping, the shaking and baking? Sit still for one beautiful and perfect day. But no, they always had to go somewhere and I had to do the manual version of car pool to get them there.

A Hampton Spiritual Indulgence Print Email

Summer and the living is laid back and easy. The weather is warm and it's always a perfect time for a walk somewhere outside. With summer at its midway point and with most of the children safely parked in some sleep away camp the urge to get away---if only for a day or two---seems to intensify. Though we have been in the Hampton's many times before this was going to be the first foray of this type to take place over Shabbos where, as you are well aware, the rules are dramatically different.

Summer Diary Print Email

Well Done

The rest and distress were distributed in full measure. In retrospect, however, and with appropriate placement in context this was nothing more than a minimal inconvenience that opened the floodgates of immeasurable kindness.

Bash! Print Email

How would I know that it's Chodosh Elul or Labor Day without Sy Syms letting me know that it's the day on which his great Bash sale comes to a conclusion? I don't live for the Syms Bash but I have to admit that it is a watershed moment on the annual calendar. The Syms Bash is an awesome undertaking, almost----and in fact beyond almost but rather, positively---a religious experience.

Heard In The Bagel Store No More, Part #91 Print Email

Ah Goot Yur

It's a universal and seasonal; slogan that cuts across all lines of linguistic demarcation. You don't have to know or understand a single word of Yiddish to wish a friend, family or neighbor---ah goot yur. How else can you say it? Can you in good conscience wish someone a simple good year without conjuring up images of steel-belted radial tires? Somehow wishing someone a plain old good year ahead misses the mark, it fails to convey the essence and substance of your intentions.

Controlling The World: It's A Big Job Print Email

I wasn't that upset about what Malaysia President Mahathir Mohammad said last week about the Jews. Actually I think he was kind of right on and his timing was pretty good too. Additionally, even though his comments seemed on the surface to be classic anti-Semitism, by reading the full comments of his address it becomes clear that he was criticizing his Arab brethren more then he was indulging in denouncing Jews in general.

Fathers and Sons: Years Later Print Email

Now all these years later I find myself in somewhat un-chartered territory, drifting and still groping to emotionally define what I am dealing with. With the High Holy Days safely tucked away into the past and Chanukah just ahead and almost within our grasp, I am once gain faced with dealing with remembering in that unique Jewish way that which attaches us to our deeply rooted history as well as our personal and eternal forever's.

Not So Super Bowl Print Email

Where have you gone Fred Biletnikoff? Fred was a ballet style wide receiver on the Oakland Raiders of yesterday who flew through the air like a bird snatching passes from his quarterback---mostly Daryle Lamonica---particularly at times when it seemed that all was lost, that a comeback or victory was improbable. As if out of no where Biletnikoff would seem to emerge with the football, in the end zone, touchdown!

Where You Are Going For Yom Tov? Print Email

You may not know where you are going for Pesach yet but there are people out there that do know. There is so much to consider when charting the holiday behavior patterns of Jews seeking to observe Pesach in freedom (from cooking, cleaning and serving) and in style (warm weather, Olympic size pool, interesting tourist attractions).

Political Rumblings Print Email

It's no surprise that Senator John Kerry swept the New York primary on Tuesday and did so overwhelmingly well throughout the country in the Super Tuesday primaries. Kerry is smart, articulate and has come up through the political ranks, fought in Vietnam then returned home to protest and oppose a war that killed over 57,000 young people. In other words to many his is considered as a man who has earned his stripes.

The Search For Chometz Print Email

The story is re-told every year at this time about an elderly holy Jew who resided in just one room in a small Russian town and the ordeal he endured in his search for Chometz on the night before the Yom Tov of Pesach began. Though he lived in just one small room the search took him all night up until the sun would rise in the morning. And that's because as we become reoriented with the concept of Chometz this time of year we learn from the story of this Rebbe that the search for Chometz that we traditionally conduct is not simply about little pieces of bread, a wooden spoon and a candle.

Loss and Life Print Email

You live with the bad news which hopefully allows you to appreciate the good things that we have in our lives that much more. But sometimes it is more difficult then others to assimilate the events you hear about into that part of your psyche that allows you to live with things that you are certain that under other circumstances would drive you or any person insane. And so it is that while there are myriad subjects that we can and need to cover here, the story that made the general press the day after Pesach sticks out more then most. Somehow it refuses to squeeze itself into that safe part of our psyche that allows us not to obsess on it and after a few days not to think about anymore.

Wedding Plans Print Email

This is a preliminary test to see whether I am up to the task of enduring the drills that one must make their way through when making a wedding these days. So bear with me as I navigate my way through this life cycle event that, at the same time, will answer the question as to whether I will be able to think or focus---or better yet, write---about anything other than planning a wedding over the coming summer.

" Print Email

Under the blue skies of another wonderful summer Sunday we take a step outside of the hustle and bustle of a visiting day reality that is overrun by thousands in the Catskills. Finding a parking space, pushing a wagon around in Wal-Mart, standing endlessly on the check out line and then back to camp to begin the process of winding down the summer by bringing some of the kids clothes home seems to define---on at least one level---the essence of another quickly dissolving summer.

Tuition Comes To Fruition Print Email

You know those large white and blue signs you see hanging somewhere outside most Yeshivas around here that urges you to leave 5% of your estate to Yeshivas? Well, according to many in the education industry in this area and others it's an excellent idea but Yeshivas have yet to see the first dollars from the campaign. The subject comes up because I spoke with several local Yeshiva administration people over the last several days about getting everyone lined up to pay their Yeshiva---yes, private school tuition----for the coming year and the inevitable zig zags in the process.

Remembering Shabse Gordon Print Email

When I heard the other day that Shabse, a"h was niftar I was stunned. I sat down in disbelief and then told the people I was with that this was a man that was a true legend. For decades it seemed that everywhere I went when I introduced myself one of the first questions always and inevitably was---are you related to Shabse Gordon? For a long time I said that I wasn't because I really didn't think we were though people seemed to find that odd considering that for all those years there were two Gordon families in Crown Heights and both lived on Montgomery Street. As time passed I grew accustom to the idea that despite the apparent coincidence---we were indeed not related.

My Day Off Print Email

It was Monday, two days after Yom Kippur and two or so days before Succot. We weren't publishing that week so I had an opportunity to sit back and at least mentally relax for a few days or if that didn't work choose from a variety of things in which to re-channel my energies. Of course there were the preparations for Succot, buying five lulavim and esrogim, getting them made up so that they last through the Chag, doing some shopping, making some calls that I don't usually have time for, meeting some people without watching the clock or being in a rush and then----visiting my mother.

George W. Bush For President Print Email

The argument that it is a particularly selfish and a narrow perception of our countries requirements if one chooses to vote for President based on a single issue usually has significant validity to it. America is so diverse and is in need of so many things on a multiplicity of levels---social, economic and so on--- that it is patently unfair to say that I'm voting for this or that candidate for one or another singular reason. And while few in the overall Jewish community actually vote with this type of consideration, the upcoming election may be one in which the approach to our choice may be made by solely considering the nature of the relationship between the US and Israel.


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