Friday, June 30, 2017

End of the Year

It's been a big, busy time as Penina and Ilana finish their second year of school here.   (Last night found Chana and Penina arguing over who got the first turn to read Penina's summer Hebrew reading book-of-choice.  As the minor squabbling went on, Penina turned to me and said, "I bet this is a big dream of yours come true--your kids fighting over who gets to read a book in Hebrew".  I will say that it made me awfully glad that "Diary of Wimpy Kid" comes in Hebrew!)

Penina finished 1 1/2 weeks ago and has been very busy catching up on missed sleep since then :).  She came home from her last day with a certificate given to the student who made the most progress and worked really hard.  As a sucker for hard work, seeing that made me cry.  So proud of her.

Ilana finishes today and I end this round of ulpan on Tuesday. We fixed that scheduling disaster by my only going until break time on the days that we have things planned to do.  We went to Ashdod beach the other day, and Shalom Shachne and Ilana joined us on Sunday for our first trip to the Israel Museum.  I think we need another five or so hours there to really see everything there, but it was a good start!

The girls had their dance recital last week and it was amazing, b''H.  The women who run their dance school worked so hard to have a show that was interesting and full of good things to watch and listen to.   Ilana's Jazz class danced LIVE to singer Shaindel Antelis (if you are a teenage frum girl, you probably just squealed right now)!

Penina's Jazz class had a "Galactic" theme, and Chana and I showed up early to help with the groovy makeup

Ilana will be attending the camp that her school is running and Penina is gearing up for a daytime arts camp.  For now, though, it just feels nice to be at the time of year when, although it's busy, it's all suffused with that happy End-of-Year feeling.

--------------------------------------

Please join us in saying tehilim for Shalom Shachne's stepfather Ed, Yehuda ben Sarah, who is quite ill....
http://tehilimyahad.com/mr.jsp?r=h797l0Onvp











Saturday, June 17, 2017

23rd of Sivan

This was a very special Shabbat because yesterday on the Jewish calendar was the 23rd of Sivan, and SS's dad's yarhzeit.  His 23rd one, in fact (a neighbor told Shalom Shachne that the date was a significant one since the 23rd of Sivan is when, according to the Purim story, Esther and Mordechai sent out the letters telling the Jews they could defend themselves against Achashveros' unbreakable decree against them).

Shalom Shachne made a siyyum yesterday on Megillah.  Here is what he said, and may it all have been for an ilui neshama for Irwin, Yitzchak ben Shalom Shachne, who we miss very much:
---------------------------------------
Today is the 23rd yahrzeit for my father, יזחק בן שלום שכנא (Yitzchak ben Shalom Shachne), and last week was the first yahrzeit for my aunt, his only sibling, שמחה שרה בת שלום שכנא (Simcha Sarah bat Shalom Shachne).   

First off, I want to thank Mr. Shlomo Meyer for encouraging me to start learning a daf a day, giving me the suggestion to start with מסכת מגילה.  And of course I want to thank my family for all their love and encouragement, and giving me time for learning.

My father passed away suddenly, at the not very old age of 63.  He was playing tennis, which he loved to do, and had a fatal heart attack.  He had always told us that if he could choose how to die, this would be one of the ways he would choose.  My father never seemed particularly afraid of death and was a bit irreverent about it.  His nickname was “Goldie”, and he once told my step-mother that he wanted the epitaph on his tomb stone to say “Here lies Goldie growing moldy”.  Needless to say, we didn’t write that.

When the Rabbi was giving the eulogy for my father, he said that my father reminded him of כלב בן יפונה.  My father was never afraid to speak out, even against a whole group of people.  The board of directors of the synagogue were trying to remove the Rabbi from his position, and my father was one of the few voices speaking up for the Rabbi.  This trait frequently got him into trouble with college administrations, in his early career as a physics professor.   He learned to temper this in his later life as a businessman, where he learned the value of getting along.  But he was always a courageous and idealistic person.

Although he was not a very religious man, he put on Tefillin every day.  He started after my bar mitzvah.  I believe he started because I asked him, why should I put on Tefillin, when he doesn’t.  So he started doing it every day from that time for the rest of his life.   When he passed away, I made a resolution that I would put on Tefillin every day also, and also to say Kaddish for him 3 times a day for the whole year.   This was one of the major forces which made me into a בעל תשובה.

Now for the siyum.  In addition to covering the הלכות of purim and קריאת מגילה, the mesechet covers many laws of קריאת התורה and how we split the parshiot during the year.  A quick הלכה that I learned which surprised me was brought in the mishha on דף ח’: א:  

אין בין ספרים לתפילין ומזוזות אלא שספרים נכתבים בכל לשון ותפילין ומזוזות אינן נכתבין אלא אשורית. רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר אף בספרים לא התירו שיכתבו אלא יוונית

The הלכה goes according to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, who says that a Sefer Torah can be written in Greek.  The reason for this given by the Gemara, is the ברכה given by נח to יפת,

יפת אלהים ליפת וישכן באהלי שם

And in fact, Rambam brings this down as halakhah in הלכות תפילין ומזוזה:


והתירו בספרים לכתבן אף ביווני בלבד. וכבר נשתקע יווני מן העולם ונשתבש ואבד לפיכך אין כותבין היום שלשתן אלא אשורי.


Friday, June 9, 2017

A Credit to Her Profession and Her Country

The other day in ulpan, our teacher told us about an amazing story that I'd like to share with you.  This nurse is truly a credit both to the profession of nursing and to the State of Israel.  Kol HaKavod, Ula Ostrowski-Zak, and may the injured mother and baby make full recoveries.

Baby of seriously injured Palestinian mother nursed by Jewish nurse
A couple from Hebron was involved in a car accident, the mother was seriously injured and the father killed; pediatric nurse Ula Ostrowski-Zak at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital volunteers to tend to their nine-month-old.
During an entire shift in the pediatric emergency room at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, nurse Ula Ostrowski-Zak nursed a nine-month-old Palestinian baby from Hebron whose mother was seriously injured and his father killed in a car accident.

"His aunts were surprised that a Jew agreed to breastfeed him, but I told them that every mother would do it," she said.

On Friday, Yaman's parents collided head-on with an armored bus on Route 60. The father was killed on the spot and the mother, who was not wearing a seatbelt, sustained a serious head injury.


Nurse Ostrowski-Zak with baby Yaman
Nurse Ostrowski-Zak with baby Yaman

The baby, who was lightly injured, was taken to the emergency room, but there was no one to feed him and he refused to eat from a bottle. For seven hours, until Ostrowski-Zak arrived, he didn't eat a thing and cried incessantly. His aunts were helpless.

"They asked me if I could help them find someone who would breastfeed the baby," said Ostrowski-Zak. "As a nursing mother, I didn't hesitate and suggested that I do it myself."

Thus, between caring for one child and another, the nurse fed the baby. "I fed him five times," she said. "His aunts embraced me and thanked me. They were really surprised and told me that no Jewish women would agree to nurse a Palestinian baby they did not know."

Toward the end of the shift, the question arose who would breastfeed the baby when Ula went home. The nurse posted to the Facebook group of nursing mothers titled La Leche League, and was amazed by the reactions.

"Within two hours I received more than a thousand likes and responses from women who volunteered to help, women who were willing to travel even from Haifa to breastfeed him. In between, I continued to try to expose the child to the bottle but without success," she said.

The baby's mother is still in serious condition. The baby is expected to be discharged from the hospital and will be staying at his grandparents' home in Hebron, where his aunt will continue to breastfeed him.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4971345,00.html

Friday, June 2, 2017

Chana's Back!

She flew in the day before Shavuot and, oh, it's good to have her back.

She did an amazing job packing up her dorm room (her two roommates left before her and it's always hard being the last one out the door) and we send our huge thanks to Cousins Jen and Shmulie who drove in to pick up the things she was leaving in NY.  Despite this, she still shlepped home an insane amount of stuff, including a bunch of things we shipped her from Amazon.  It was truly comical to see how much she stuffed into her checked bag (oops, overweight charge), carry-on (good thing they didn't weigh that, too) and her "personal item" (which, truly, was more of a second carry-on).

Penina and Ilana had the next day off school for erev Shavuos, and it's a good thing, since the three of them stayed up together far past my bed time.  It's a whole new world having these "big kids" around!

Welcome home, Chana!  Hope you have a really wonderful summer here!