Monday, March 30, 2009

haturim st

It in the centre of Jerusalem next to the market mahane yehuda.
(25 minutes walking to the kotel, 5 minutes from the bus central station)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Question

To strate or not to strate.

Episode 66: The Woohoo Shabbos

Awesome shmawesome, all the way.
From the kids being home to the food to the atmosphere to the shul to the guests to my friends.
"Friends! Woohoo!"

Menuch says that although I haven't been there in years, it feels completely normal that I'm back. Gosh I loved that.
"Loved that! Woohoo!"

M- being frightening and N- feeding the baby (ahem!!) and D- singing and cheering away, all brought major laughs on my part.
"Major laughs! Woohoo!"

Old memories and new ones, sentiments reinforced and sentiments introduced, familiar and brand-new--a satisfying and content, peaceful and thrilling, solid and discovering, nourishing and junky, funny and hysterical Shabbos weekend.
"Shabbos weekend! Woohoo!!"


Monday, March 23, 2009

When it's MY turn, G-d willing,

I'm gonna be VERY VERY nice to them. Thoughtful, appreciative and helpful and VERY VERY nice.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


"Oh..? Are you related to the Holtzbergs that-you know-India..?
"Yeh. He's my brother."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

When All The Brothers Come Home

"It's really so nice here," the young Israeli woman confided.
By 'here', she was referring to the Friday night Shabbos table of the local Chabad Shluchim. Seated around the table were citizens n tourists, singles n couples, students n businessmen. Some had been coming for months and for some, like the Israeli woman, this was their first visit. They ranged from completely observant, to traditional, to "in the process of converting". They hailed from Northern and Western Europe, from Israel and from all over America.
"It feels just like when I'm at home in Israel and all the family is there for Shabbat", she continued. And then she made a wide sweeping motion with her hands which included everyone at the meal, as she explained, "You know, when all the brothers come home....."

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor of the pancreas. Each year in the United States, about 37,680 individuals are diagnosed with this condition and 34,290 die from the disease each year. In Europe more than 60,000 are diagnosed each year. Depending on the extent of the tumor at the time of diagnosis, the prognosis is generally regarded as poor, with less than 5 percent of those diagnosed are still alive five years after diagnosis, and complete remission is still extremely rare.[1]

Shabbat Times on

I don't wanna "change location"!

She wrote about her "last shabbos"....

Friday morning, I started to feel it. "Is there anything special you want me to make for your last shabbos?", she asked me. "O cmon", he cut in. "Don't be so dramatic-'last shabbos'...!" Both of those comments made me smile. I told them I'm not leaving, I'm only taking a break. When Gabi and the others asked when I'm coming back, I shrugged my shoulders..but not anxiously. I'm not sad. Lynn came cuz I told her it's gonna be my last Shabbos, as did Ziva. Lena n Rami and Nati n Elin, as well. I shan't even attempt to describe the feeling. My boss stood up and said the joke about the Indians collecting firewood for the winter. "Your teaching, your care and your laughter warmed up our winter", he said. Why were the people sitting around the tables surprised to see tears in my eyes? Mendele said to me that he wants me to teach him "ALL the parshiyos!". I wanted to be with everyone. I moved from table to table, from kids to adults. Had to soak it all in...but not get too sentimental. "I'm not saying 'Good-bye'", I told Michael. "Only "dasvedanya". There's a difference, you know. 'Shalom' vs 'lehitraot'. Who's gonna remind Moussia that "Chassidim are one mishpocha"?? I guess it's like what I answered Yair when he asked how they'll manage without me now. "You'll manage just as you did before I came". Hashem is taking care of them, I don't have to worry. The Yidden will be saved, Esther, the question is if you will be part of it. I'm not abandoning my people, Shaul. Your kids are part of me and I think, at this point, I'm part of your kids. "Look at this way" she said to me as we stood by the fireplace, "now you have friends all over the world." She doesn't get it. They were my friends even before I came. Now they're me. When I bentched licht this last Erev Shabbos here, I asked Hashem to help you in all areas--that the kids should have good teachers, that you should get a new big good building, that you should all be healthy, that there be parnassah, that you be matzliach in your shlichus, and that it should all be very soon and very clear. I don't think you two realize the depth of my emotions and my care. Look how this 'last Shabbos memories' turned into a conversation with you...Then again, you nodded your confirmation when I assured you, after Shabbos, that my "speech" today was sincere. "When I was in the States a few months back, people asked me how I'm managing in this cold dark country. I answered them, 'In the home where I live, it is warm and it is light.'" I learned so much about Ahavas Yisroel. I learned so much about Hiskashrus. About being a Pnimi. About growing up. I have much much more to learn and, b'ezrat Hashem, I shall. On my next stop in this journey called 'Life'. It's oh so tremendously emotional. So heart-wrenching, to leave my friends. So gut-wrenching, to leave my children. I feel like Schindler, l'havdil. So much more to teach, so much more to give. "Just one more" story I coulda related. "Just one more" project we coulda made. "Just one more" lesson I coulda imparted. "Just one more" game, hug, walk, song. But, remember-I'm not sad. I'm weak and teary but I'm strong and clear-headed. It's not about me, it's about what has to be done. So, instead of bentching with a mezuman, I chatted with Lollo. It's not about me. It's about what has to be done. Instead of following along by Kriyas HaTorah, I calmed down Schejna. It's not about me. It's about what has to be done. And to answer your first question, yes-I do want special foods for Shabbos, but I'm not going to ask. It's not about me. I'm not a lone individual. I'm an integral part of a whole. I'm a soldier in a unit. This is the first time I've had this experience. A soldier is a soldier even when he's off-duty. And remember why a soldier has a head--only so he can strap his weapon around his neck. It's not about me, it's about what has to be done. Would I love to stay? Yes. Would I love to come back? Yes. Would I love to continue being under the Rebbe's wings, nay, ON the Rebbe's wings every second of the day and night? Definitely. Is it about me? No. Is it about what has to be done? Yes.
Am I feeling very very fragile and pretending to be very very strong? Perhaps....

Koby Mandell o.b.m.

Our son Koby was a boy who loved his family, his parents, his 2 brothers and sister. He loved his countries, America and Israel, and he loved our village of Tekoa and he loved the land of Israel. He was murdered by terrorists for that love, while out hiking with his friend Yosef Ish Ran. On May 8th, the 2 boys skipped school to go hiking near our home. He was killed brutally, viciously, in a cave, pummeled with bowling ball sized rocks. He was killed with utter cruelty.

Koby was a boy with a fierce intelligence. He was innocent and sophisticated at the same. He loved sports, he loved learning, he loved hiking, and most of all, he loved laughing. He loved telling jokes. He was very funny, and he loved to laugh.
Koby was very modest and didn’t brag to us about any of his accomplishments. He loved to read and would read the same book over and over till he had it memorized. He loved learning Gemorrah.
He moved to Israel when he was in 4th grade and it was very hard for him, because he couldn’t speak Hebrew and he missed his friends, but he never complained.

Koby, as the first-born, was the first in our family to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah. In addition to the Bar Mitzvah itself in the synagogue, the festivities included a party with dancing and trips around Israel. Many family members from America joined us in the festivities. After all the celebrations I asked Koby what the best part of his Bar Mitzvah celebration had been. “The Torah reading, ” he answered.

Koby understood the importance of loving his heritage. He never complained that we had dragged him away from Silver Spring where he had been very happy. He was happy to be part of this country.
Now he is part of this country’s history, and in his memory, others are being healed. I know he would be proud of how his spirit is contributing to helping the people of this country.

At the shiva, a boy came to us and told us that that week, the boys had to pair up in gym class for volleyball practice, hitting the ball back and forth. Koby had first choice and could have chosen anybody. He was the best player in the class. The boy, who was short and wore glasses and who spoke in a whisper said—“Koby chose me—and I am the worst player in the class.”

As he said about a boy who had been killed in a terrorist attack a month before his own death—“It’s sad for the boy, but it’s sadder for those left behind. “

It’s sad for us Koby. But each day, we continue to create, and to transform the cruelty of your death into kindness.

Sherri and Seth Mandell

The Blessing of a Broken Heart tells the story of an American Jewish woman, Sherri Mandell, whose search for meaning leads her to make aliyah and settle in Israel with her family. It is also the story of a woman learning to live with the challenges of motherhood and raising four kids. The key dramatic event is that her eldest child, Koby, is killed in a brutal terrorist attack. But it’s her path, her search for meaning AFTER the tragedy that is the real heart of the story. Sherri learns to find comfort from her community, to pray with meaning, and ultimately to turn her grief to action as she and her husband start a camp in Israel for other victims of terror. The play was awarded the Edgerton New American Play award in 2007, and presented professionally at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. It ran for two weeks to sell-out crowds. It is a piece that reaches across cultures as it depicts the universal emotions that follow loss, and one Jewish woman and her families heroic search for new purpose and meaning following personal tragedy. The play features gripping drama, warm depictions of family, surprising humor, traditional spiritual Jewish songs, and vivid video/slide images of the Holy Land of Israel.

Friday, March 13, 2009

אמן יהא שמיה רבא

Said the Alter Rebbe: "In Gan Eden they sense the preciousness of this lowly world. Not only the Ministering Angels, but even the earliest Emanations would forgo everything for one "amein y'hei sh'mei raba" said by a Jew 'with all his power,' meaning with full concentration (ie being totally immersed and involved with these words)."
This was all he said. The effect was that he kindled such a flame and such a burning enthusiasm in all who heard, that for a full year their amein y'hei sh'mei raba was fiery.

And I? I cannot even go to shul....

When I sign onto Gmail now,

I see your name in the 'Username' box. It's a good feeling :)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Top Ten Reasons to Send Mishloach Manot To IDF Soldiers:

10. The Hamentashen from Sderot taste better.
9. More pictures of cute soldiers.
8. The calories look better on them.
7. If you're in Israel, you can help deliver them.
6. We're going where other organizations can't even dream of going to.
5. A truckload of goodies opens doors.
4. They would do it for you.
3. No kittens are harmed in the process.
2. A personal note from you in every package.

And the number one reason...

1. It's only $10... and that's keeping it real!

Order today!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

a huge cloud was lifted from my head and from my heart...
...and in place, a huge cloud has settled in my head and in my heart.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Danows' New Chabad House!!


Narrator: "Haman had to pick a day for his גזרה, so he made a פור."
One kid: "Like a POOR person!"
The other kid: "Like PURE olive oil!"
Every morning, as we are putting coins in the Pushka, we sing "צדקה מקרבת את הגאולה".
Today, I was teaching the Purim story.
"Where are we going to learn it from?" I ask.
No response.
"Megillas Es...?" I prompt.
Enthusiastic shout, "Ha'geula!"

Grieving Community Transforms Dinner into Joyous Honoring of Boy’s Life

In a letter they wrote to the dinner’s attendees, which was placed beside each table setting, the Wolowiks sought to encourage their community, referring to teachings of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, on dealing with tragedy.

“The only way to confront tragedy,” they wrote, “is to persist with even more energy and more joy.

“There could be no greater way to honor Levi,” the Wolowiks continued, than by each guest being there as an expression of Jewish unity. “[Levi] is no doubt looking on and having [pleasure] from this gathering tonight.”

After “hearing the Rebbe’s timeless message to us all, the atmosphere changed completely,” said Werner.

Charged with a renewed mission, the crowd enjoyed the music and the tribute videos. But the highlight of the evening was a round of traditional Chasidic dancing.

“We danced like we never danced before,” said Faivish Pewzner. “And I mean that everyone danced. With true joy. And at the end, we were all reinvigorated.”

While attendees had originally feared that the dinner would serve as a painful reminder of a deep scar in the community, afterwards, recalled Leah Muller, “people said that this was the most wonderful experience. There was so much unity.”

And instead of honoring the end of a young boy’s short life, said Faivish Pewzner, the dinner was “a means to continue his life.”

During the dinner, attendees filled out cards with pledges of good deeds in memory of Levi. After the event, the honorees joined Rabbi Meir and Hadassah Geisinsky, the youth directors at Chabad of the Five Towns, to deliver the pledges to the Wolowiks.“The family appeared to derive comfort from it,” said Werner. “The dinner turned out to be a positive experience for everyone, instead of a depressing one.”

Thursday, March 05, 2009

"They're all either Persian or non-religious....and that's the way the world should be!"

-Spoken by the Moroccan, Essen Ohbee, who claims "we're dark, not deaf!"

Remedy for Bitochon

The Rebbe writes in a letter:
At night, read the Shema, and before that give several coins to tzedaka. This will intensify your trust in Hashem.

-In memory of Rabbi Gavriel & Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg HYD-
[Shluchim to Mumbai, India]

"Accept high standards, you might fail. Accept low standards, you've already failed." [Mion N. Sirh]

Rising Above Stones

I never realized how many Hayom Yoms talk about the importance and necessity of reciting words of Torah on the streets. Yesterday's Hayom Yom led me to this one--

It is said of the Time To Come: "A stone in the wall will cry out and a beam from the tree will respond." At present, inert creations are mute; though trodden upon, they remain silent. But there will come a time when the revelation of the Future becomes a reality, that the inert will begin to speak, relate and demand: "If a man was walking along without thinking or speaking words of Torah, why did he trample upon me?"

The earth trodden upon has been waiting for millenia, ever since the Six Days of Creation. All kinds of living creatures have been treading upon it all this time, but it is waiting for a Jew (or two Jews) to walk on it while discussing Torah. But if they do not say words of Torah, the earth will protest: "You too are just like an animal!"

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Finding G-d

A French astronomer announced, “I have swept the universe with my telescope, and I find no G-d.”

A famous violinist responded to him, “That is as unreasonable as if I were to say, ‘I have taken my violin apart, examined each piece with my microscope and find no music.’”

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Flashback to after Amona...

I feel now like how I did then.

When I got back from Amona, I sat down on a street corner and cried and cried and cried. I only wanted to talk to my cousin. More than anything else, I think it was the sheer shock at seeing the sinah that went on there. Yidden against Yidden. Jew against Jew. Brother against sister. Sister against brother.

Today, what did I do wrong to them? Why did they talk to me like that? So derogatorily. So nastily.

After Amona, I was loathe to meet the eyes of the Arabs. We're doing it to ourselves, this time. So embarrassing.

The same was today. When we were walking home, I was ashamed in front of the local non-Jews. They riot and propagandize. But today had nothing to do with them. Today it was solely between us.
I stopped here, Motzei Shabbos. (Now it's Wednesday.)
I had been in middle of writing about my experience in the synagogue that day.
It wasn't only the attacks (in short, for being Chabad and missionizing); it was also the stress of dealing with everyone at home afterward. I didn't knew what I was allowed to say and to whom. Who twists words and who is here to help.
My rabbi was also traumatized.
He called his friend, a 'head' of shluchim, to tell him about Shabbos and his friend answered with "I can't talk now. My grandson just passed away."
I shut the laptop and left the room, crying...