Burial For Peace Print Email

Last Motzei Shabbos after Havdalah I clicked on to my favorite news spots when one story in particular grabbed my attention. As you know there has been a plethora of stories both confirming and contradicting the state of the health of Palestinian terrorist leader and organizer, Yasser Arafat. It could very well be that by the time this article will appear in print that his death certificate will have already been signed (though it could be a forgery) but it's even more likely that many more days will pass until we'll be able to squeeze the truth out of Palestinian leaders about the disposition of Mr. Arafat.

A Pragmatic Withdrawal Print Email

We are indeed the sum total of our experiences. As a result there is very little that Jews as a people---or for that matter individually---can do without there being deep sociological and psychological reasons for indulging in whatever we do. And so it is too with Ariel Sharon's determined objective to uproot Jewish communities in Gaza and part of the West Bank. It's not about Sharon going politically soft or, as I've suggested in the past, his lack of faith combined with his advancing age without a spiritual compass to guide him.

Illusive Unity Print Email

For quite a few moments last Tuesday night I thought that we had made big progress and that we were almost there. Orthodox Jewry seemed to be out in force with an overwhelming display of togetherness that seemed unparalleled in recent history. It was the conclusion and the beginning of our never ending attachment to Torah through the study of Shass. There was an exuberance and even magic in the air outside and even inside Madison Square Garden in New York. But then, the next morning, the e mails started to fly mostly about how a unique opportunity to present real and comprehensive unity had really been missed and not really taken place at all.

Nison's Bar Mitzvah Print Email

I've waited patiently for thirteen years to be able to write this article so please bear with me as I lay it out before and we will both together see if it comes out as imagined all this time.

The London Bombings Print Email

So long as there is the smallest rationale that legitimizes terror and the infliction of terror on people, the global war against terror will not be a success. For as long as it has existed terror has continued to strengthen and even spread because countries involved with fighting terror have for political and other reasons refused to do what needs to be done to eliminate it and those who merchandise in it.

Crossing Problems Print Email

I like the new feature on Route 878 that cuts through the lower portion of Lawrence. Now when you cross this rather Queens Boulevard type street there is a large electronically illuminated numeric sign that counts down how long you have until the light changes again and traffic starts to flow in your direction. The truth is that for basketball fans the new crossing feature kind of gives you this minute scoring opportunity feeling as you make your was along the six lanes of traffic.

Inexact Precision Print Email

In Jerusalem last Sunday on a narrow long winding street tucked somewhere inside the sloping hills of Jerusalem I met a man who told me that he has a friend whose wife has a baby every year just so she can stay for a week at the Bais Ezra home for women who just give birth and who usually have large families and just need that week to get away from it all. This is her only opportunity for any kind of vacation. She already has seventeen children.

Becoming Jewish Print Email

I had heard and read about Natan Gamadze but now he was sitting on the other side of my desk talking about his life in a cool and reflective fashion. He is wearing what I would call a conventional Yeshiva outfit, a white shirt, a black suit and a rather large black fedora. He's 42-years-old, married and the father of two small children. For a while after his arrival in Israel he lived in Tzfat and then only during the past year moved to Jerusalem where he studies and present shiurim in Talmud at a local Yeshiva.


Our sages advised us not to judge which of the mitzvos are great and which are minor ones and the same for the opposite actions. That said, there's a great deal going on in all our communities here in the 5 Towns and around the world that keeps things both vibrant and interesting. Sometimes, however, an innocuous item becomes the source of deep hashkafic debate from which we can learn a great deal.

Heard In The Bagel Store Print Email


It's a July Shabbos in New England. It's not too far from home but at the same time it is indeed worlds away. At first sight it's appears peaceful and pleasing to the eyes. It is a quaint New England town, cars passing not so quickly down not so busy main streets and so on. The American flag still flies from the front porch and front windows of many homes on these tree-lined blocks in the continued afterglow of Independence Day on July 4th. It's a beautiful piece of every day America .

HEARD IN THE BAGEL STORE: Rabbi Leibel Baumgarten is just a loveable guy Print Email


Rabbi Leibel Baumgarten is just a loveable guy.

That's the comment you hear from people you encounter at both Friday night and Shabbos services in East Hampton, New York where Leibel serves as a shliach---an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. As those familiar with the concept can well understand----there are challenging as well as satisfying and fulfilling aspects of the enterprise known as Shlichus that promulgates the observance of Torah and Mitzvos to Jews around the globe.

A Creative Peace Print Email

France's President, Nicolas Sarkozy, met in Paris last Monday with Israel's Prime Minister Olmert and urged him to "be creative" when it comes to making peace with the Palestinians. I agree with Mr. Sarkozy. If Mr. Olmert, who is presently the subject of at least three criminal investigations in Israel, is only half as creative with the peace process as he has been in business, then maybe, just maybe, we will be able to make some progress.

Philanthropic Priorities Print Email

It was the Super Bowl that instigated the discussion. On the recent Super Bowl Sunday, a rabbi friend in the community expressed chagrin and astonishment that people who live in our communities had actually made use of or leased private planes as well as conventional modes of transportation to fly to Arizona to attend the Super Bowl. "Within just a few blocks of their homes people are unable to put food on the table for their children or themselves," he said. And he added, "The money spent by our people on the Super Bowl could have solved a lot of urgent problems."

Talmudic Peace Print Email

It's a curious repetitiousness. If someone says that he's not going to benefit from his friend, or his neighbor, or his wife, the implications of his exact words—what he says and how he says it—are discussed again and again. The current daily daf of Tractate Nedarim ("Vows") seems, on the surface, to drone on about nearly the same things day after day, with a few very fascinating digressions every now and then.

Race For President Print Email

I believe that the race or the gender of candidates for President of the United States will stop being an issue when we are no longer reminded daily that Hillary Clinton is female and that Barack Obama is mostly African American. So long as even our leading liberal media outlets can't stop talking about this and other issues dealing with race, these very references will continue to be the obstacles to finally overcoming this barrier.

Protecting Our Children Print Email

The episodes are as notorious as they are unconscionable. They are complex real-life events that are even more difficult to commit to paper without offending the sensibilities of the reader. Having spoken with and listened to professionals in the field of medicine, psychology, and social work over the last few days, I have come away shaken and even frightened by stories of depravity that have been perpetrated on children. I'm talking about frum children, kids who go to yeshiva with smiles on their faces, children just like yours and mine.

The Debate Goes On Print Email

While newspapers and other media outlets are forums for discussion and debate, one would like to think that these forums could possibly, as time goes by, effectuate some change and improvement.

Tears For Mumbai Print Email

Everywhere you turn these last few days you see and hear the same thing. There are people milling around, talking in half phrases and incomplete sentences, at a loss for what to say about the tragedies in Mumbai, India, that inexplicably killed such precious and wonderful young people.

You Can Go Home Print Email

The hall closet still has a box of mothballs sitting on the shelf directly over the coatrack. As a result, it still harbors this pungent but otherwise sartorially healthy scent that tells you that the clothes in here are well protected. This is the hallway closet in my mother's house in Crown Heights in Brooklyn. I'm there often—though not often enough—usually to pick my mom up before Shabbos or drive her back home after Shabbos, but rarely, if ever, am I there to spend a Shabbos there myself these days.

Sheloshim For Levi Print Email

They are unusually inspiring people. I'm sitting with Rabbi Zalman and Mrs. Chanie Wolowik just 22 days after their nine-year-old son, Levi Yitzchok, a'h, suddenly and inexplicably passed away. This coming Monday night, the Five Towns and Far Rockaway communities, and indeed Jewish communities far and wide around the world, will be marking the sheloshim, the end of the 30-day period since Levi's passing.


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