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Prayer 1

Prayer 2


By: Suri Stern

I woke up this morning at my usual 3:30am, and this was the question in my mind? 

When you blow bubbles, you watch as they dissipate moving upward, when my grandfather smoked cigars, I watched as the smoke billowed upward and into thin air, but what do you see when the shofar is blown?

At first I dismissed the idea as ridiculous, but then as I thought about it, I realized that it was a primal question, in that the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah has its roots from the time that Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac on the altar.  When at the last moment, G-d commuted Abraham’s command, Abraham so wanted to show his dedication to G-d and his desire to give to G-d, that he looked up and there was a ram caught in the bushes…Abraham looked and he saw…

The Talmud Yerushalmi reveals exactly what Abraham saw.  He saw a ram that was stuck in the brush, and then became free, and then was stuck again in the brush, and was freed, and then a third time…and Abraham saw in prophecy that each time the ram was caught, it was a reference to exile, and every time the ram became free, it signified redemption/geulah.  After the third time the ram became enmeshed in the brush, Abraham cried up to G-d:  Hayihiyeh ken l’olam/Will it be this way forever?, i.e., will the Jews always be subject to exile, will they have no eternal peace?  G-d replied that after the third exile, which we are currently in, there will be an eternal redemption.

The shofar is blown upon entering war to enervate the troops and propel them forward.  It is also blown at the time of redemption, and clearly the two are related.  We are embattled with evil from within and evil influences from without.  The shofar is blown to enervate us to do teshuvah/repentence, to engage in battle within and without.  This is one of the reasons the shofar is blown throughout the month of Elul and into Rosh Hashanah, to enervate us to repent.

As I stood this year listening to the shofar, I watched everyone watching the baal tokeah/the shofar blower, and saw that they watched his great effort, would he succeed at emitting the grand blasts, or would he fail.  You could feel the collective effort and energy being sent forth to the blower, we are with you, send forth the blow…ut…ut…ut…

Why are we so invested in watching his effort and in moving him forward.  I cant see anything coming out of the shofar what is there?  My mind turned to this summer, to our world wide 18 days of collective prayer for our three kidnapped teenagers.  18 days.  I would have bet a lot of money that after the achdut/unity of this period that the redemption would have occurred this Tisha B’av.  What happened to our tefilot then, what happened to our collective tears?  Tears fall down.  The voice of the shofar mimics the different types of sounds of crying, they are moving wails.  I envisioned with each blow that our tears that fell down, were at that moment being propelled forward, upward, with the sound of tears from the shofar up to the kiseh hakavod/Heaven.  Each blow sent forth our tears that fell down, and they are collected by G-d for the times that we need merits.

I am reminded of the story I published erev Rosh Hashanah, where a man desperate for a child sat opposite the shofar blower in shul so that his kavanah/intentions and energy could be directly imposed on the shofar blower.  The shofar blower “for some reason” could just not blow having tried several shofars, the man understood that with the weight of his demand for a child, the blow could not be expelled and when the man removed his demand for a child from the shofar blowers shoulders, the blow came out beautifully and forcefully. 

When the shofar is blown it is an et ratzon/a time of earnest engagement with G-d.  All your demands and wants and needs should be expressed in your mind at this time.  Hear our cries HKBH, see our wants and needs and address them this year.  What we need most as a nation is a final redemption.  18 days of united prayer and tears, being blown up to HKBH in a blow of assorted tears.  Hear our prayers, see our repentance, see how united we are and how we do acts of kindness for each other.

We are about to go into Yom Kippur, when there is only one blow, ONE GREAT BLOW.  A blow that is meant to say to G-d, we have now repented of ours sins, it is time for the shofar to be blown for redemption, as an indication that our war with evil has won and that we merit the final redemption.  We have a few days left, fight the battle in hopes that by this Yom Kippur we merit the grand blowing of the shofar of the final redemption.

Gmar Chatimah Tovah. 

Please forgive me if I have hurt or offended you in any way, or have refrained from acting when you needed action.





Rabbi David Leibtag


The traumatic events of the summer of 5774 and the Gaza incursion Protective Edge have had a profound effect on the Jewish people. Many rabbinic leaders, politicians and scholars have written and spoken eloquently about these these events in the search for meaning. Perhaps the most poignant and inspiring words were voiced by the courageous parents who endured the most heartbreaking tragedy – that of burying their children. When calamity befalls the Jewish people the question that is most productive to ask is not “Why did this happen” but rather “How do we respond?” Only G-d can answer the question of Why?


The kidnapping of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach was uniquely different than previous tragic events in Israel because we got to know the boys and their families during those 18 anxious days of hope and prayer. As we became intimate with the parents and their sons, we were transformed into one family. Gazing at the vibrant eyes and the charming smiles of the boys we began to see the bright eyes and happy smiles of our own children. Similar to our children, they were coming home from school. Like our sons and daughters they had bright futures, dreams and aspirations. Then came the terrible, horrific and unthinkable news from Israel. Gone were the bright eyes, happy smiles, dreams and aspirations. There was no future for Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal (HY”D). For a brief moment we all became the parents of the boys – we all suffered a terrible loss. The Three Weeks had come early and we were all in a state of national mourning.


This tragedy was followed by Operation Protective Edge, the military action in Gaza. Here again, we experienced the loss of young soldiers who sacrificed their lives for Israel. These brave boys and their families also touched our lives. They left an indelible impression in our minds and in our hearts.

The loss of the boys and the ongoing battle in Gaza has traumatized our People. This trauma has been amplified and exacerbated by the surge of anti-Semitisn throughout much of the world. Support for Israel is waning and most young Americans under the age of 30 are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Radical Islam has incited fear and caused bloodshed across Europe and Muslim countries. The situation is frightening and images of Nazi Germany in the 1930s are beginning to haunt us.

These events require us to seriously reflect on the situation and consider the implications for raising and guiding our children. Our sons and daughters are precious jewels and the family unit is our greatest treasure. How do we keep our precious jewels safe during turbulent times? What can we do to build resilience in our children who are exposed to trauma and hate? How can we strengthen faith in G-d during ongoing crisis?


To respond to these questions and to consider the implications of the events of the summer of 5774, I have listed a few thoughts that I trust will provide guidance to parents:

1) Safety: Our children are subjected to an inordinate amount of negative and frightening news. Natural disasters, violence, kidnapping, terrorism, accidents and abuse are just few of the calamitous events to which they are exposed. It is understandable that children are concerned about their safety. Since children are excellent observers but not always the best interpreters of events they may be harboring unconscious concerns regarding their security and well-being. It is likely that the recent abduction of the three Israeli teens and the war in Gaza has exacerbated their concerns. Parents, therefore, need to reassure their children that the world is basically a safe place. It is important that parents project a sense of confidence in their ability to protect their children and keep them safe. It is always valuable to review with children general safety procedures including, but not limited to, crossing the street, speaking with strangers and car and bike safety.


2) Goal Setting: When children are exposed to frequent negative news and events they can easily lose a sense of optimism which is very important to emotional development. Certainly the news during the summer may have shaken their positive outlook on life. One way of building optimism is to set goals and celebrate accomplishments. Discuss with your son or daughter both short and long term goals. Let them choose what is meaningful to them. Choices can range from basic room cleaning to saving money for charity. One suggestion I recommend is for children and parents to set a goal for learning Torah. Completing a section of Humash, Mishnah or Gemarah will not only build optimism but will also enhance your filial relationship.

3) Unity: There was an impressive showing of solidarity and unity among all sectors of Judaism during the crisis in Israel. Jews from all strands of society removed their external identify markers to come together in prayer and support. There were no adjectives and no labels – rather it was Am Yisrael - “like one person with one heart.” It was truly historic. I believe that as a People, we learned a lesson that the barriers between Jews must be transparent. We can have our individual differences, our diversity, and our communities. But we should be able to look at each other with respect and dignity and say “Haverim kol Yisrael.” We need to instruct our children to remember that despite our differences we are still one family. Our focus should shift pronouns from Me to We. I recently read a blog from a “kipa serugah” Jew in Israel who visited the family of Reb Avraham Wallis (HY”D) – a Hasid from Meah Shearim – who was killed in the recent terror attack in Jerusalem. A brief excerpt poignantly describes the need for unity:


The father then looked at me and, through his gaze, he “asked” me to speak. I told him that I came from Maale Adumim and as soon as I heard the terrible news about his son, I felt I wanted to come and be menachem avel (offering condolences). I said that it makes no difference about what one wears on the outside because INSIDE we are ALL part of the same Jewish family. He began to cry and say that indeed, we are all one family and Hashem’s children. (


4) Prayer: During the crisis in Israel, children observed and participated in the many prayer rallies, recitations of Tehillim and learning groups in the hope of a safe return of the three teenagers and welfare of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. However, from their perspective, they also observed that their prayers were not answered in the way they expected. How do we deal with these challenges of faith? What do we tell our children and how do we guide them for the future. We begin by admitting that we, as parents, also struggle to find answers. In fact great Jewish leaders from the time of Avraham struggled with question of “Zaddik v’Ra Lo” – “why do the righteous suffer?” It is important for children to understand that it is OK to question and to live with ambiguity. The tragic events of the summer become teachable moments to build Emunah and faith. Children should know that prayers are never useless and that we don’t always immediately witness the effect of Tefillah. One of the mothers of the teenage boys remarked that the prayers for her son were used to protect the people of Israel from the Hamas rocket attacks. We need to continually remind our children (and ourselves) of the value of prayer.


5) Israel: More than anything else, Israel needs us – not our money, not our support, not our tourism. Whenever Israel is in crisis - I feel I should be there together with my brothers and sisters. Despite our unwavering commitment to Eres Yisrael how many of us truly believe Israel is home. Have we become complacent and comfortable in our homes in New York? Do we realize how unique this period of time is in Jewish history? How often do we speak with our children about “Libi Ba’Mizrah” and Aliyah to Israel? The Rishon LeZion, HaHam Rav Ovadia Yosef (ZT”L) said the following on the subject of Aliya:


"all those who are deeply concerned with the fulfillment of the Word of G-d and His commandments should make every effort to make their home in Israel, especially in these days when assimilation raises its ugly head in the Diaspora and when there are all the means of obtaining a decent livelihood. Now, it is a paramount duty to make the "land of our fathers" the "land of our descendants." (


6) Legacy: When we send our children off to school or to camp and say goodbye, we expect them to return with smiles and excitement at the end of the day or the summer. That is what the mothers of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal expected. And when parents send their sons and daughters in uniform to defend their country, they too expect them to return. Those parents are more apprehensive and their anxiety is constant until their children return. They are aware of the fragility of life and that it can change forever in a moment. Though it is difficult to confront, we must contemplate how we want our children to remember us as we prepare them for school, camp or the army and eventually adulthood. What are the life lessons and values we want to transmit to our sons and daughters. Time moves fleetingly and we cannot afford to miss an opportunity to communicate our love and essential messages. Think about these questions every time you say goodbye. These are among the most important communications we will have with our children.

7) Resilience: Resilience is the ability to recover from adversity and it is an essential element of emotional health. Resiliency has been the hallmark of Jewish life throughout our history. In Israel, during the months of June thru August, we have witnessed incredible personal and communal resiliency. The parents, the soldiers, the children, the citizens in the south, the entire Israeli population have all served as models of strength, courage and determination. We need to be proud of this uniquely Jewish trait and communicate this resiliency to our children. Resiliency builds hope and optimism. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik (ZT”L) once remarked that while the general world studies history from the perspective of the past, we view history in the context of yearning for the future. Finding meaning during difficult times and having a positive perspective in the midst of adversity helps one build for a brighter tomorrow. No-one demonstrated this incredible trait better that the mothers of the three kidnapped teenage boys. To facilitate emotional resiliency we need to encourage two major attributes: problem solving skills and realistic optimism. Our children must be reassured that they can handle problems and pressures without panic or surrender. They have the innate ability to overcome negative emotions and to rebound from disappointment or misfortune without being overwhelmed. Through discussion, role playing and modeling we can teach kids how to discount or ignore hurtful words, to lose without being defeated, to fail and not become failures, and to deal with rejection without becoming hopelessly dejected. We can also instill a sense of realistic optimism by giving them confidence in their capacity to endure, knowing that tough times are temporary. This is accomplished by imparting the morals, values and beliefs of our Torah. Faith in G-d and the motivation to persevere are summarized in the words of the Psalmist “They kneel and fall,  but we rise and gain strength” (Tehillim 20:9). This theme is succinctly encapsulated in the name of Israel’s national anthem - Hatikvah!


8) Anti-Semitism: It is difficult to believe that in less than 70 years since the end of World War II, we are witnessing a frightening rise in anti-Semitism. The war in Gaza unleashed a wave of Jew-hatred that has not been seen since pre-Holocaust days. With cries of "Death to the Jews" being heard in Berlin and Paris, Natan Sharansky said, “I believe we are seeing the beginning of the end of Jewish history in Europe. I see this as a historical moment — as the beginning of the process of distancing Jews from Europe.” ( . Living in New York we have become accustomed to openly expressing our Judaism in dress and lifestyle. Our families have become complacent in our secure neighborhoods and living freely without alarm. Although there have been tense moments over the years, most Jewish children residing in the metropolitan New York and tri-state area have likely not experienced an anti-Jewish incident. However, a recent report from the FBI indicated that Jews are still the victims of nearly two-thirds of all religion-based hate crimes in America. My concern is that as anti-Israel/anti-Jewish sentiment increases in Europe, there will be negative implications for American Jews. While I am not suggesting that we live in fear, we do need to raise our children to be cautious.


9) America and Activism: We often take for granted the freedoms we enjoy in America. The United States is Israel’s greatest friend, strategic partner and chief ally in the world. It is important that we remain thankful for this relationship by including America in our prayers. We also need to remain politically active and do all we can to promote candidates and policies that advocate for this supportive and historic relationship. Our children need to be introduced to political activism as a means of supporting Israel and Jewish causes. This includes discussing current events, understanding how government operates and taking part in rallies and gatherings that support Israel and the Jewish community. Of particular importance, it is critical that our children be able to articulate why an unwavering relationship between Israel and the USA is good for both countries. See resource material at


10) Prayer and Shalom Bayit: Raising Jewish children in the 21st century is becoming an increasingly difficult task. Parents face many challenges and encounter many questions. The Steipler Rav (TZ”L) once remarked that raising Jewish children successfully depends on two factors. Fifty percent of the success in raising a child is prayer. If there is one thing worth praying for and worth pouring out one's heart for, it is that one should merit having good children. The other fifty percent, the Steipler Rav said, is Shalom Bayit. When children see parents living together with love, cooperation, and respect for one another in a serene environment, it profoundly affects the type of person they will become.


It will be up to historians to determine if the summer of 5774 is a transformational event in world history. But from a Jewish perspective every event in our lives has the potential to be transformational. As a People we place our trust in G-d who will lead us “mai’afailah l’orah” – “from darkness to light.” And as parents we have a responsibility to illuminate a path for our children so that they will have the opportunity to live a life dedicated to Torah and bring sanctity, peace, hope and love into the world.

Adrian Peterson: Discipline or Abuse? 
Does corporal punishment transform kids into better people?


When N.F.L. player Adrian Peterson was indicted by a Texas grand jury for reckless or negligent injury to a child, parents were forced to confront their own discipline methods. The Minnesota Viking’s star used a “switch,” a narrow, leafless tree branch to beat his 4-year-old son after he misbehaved. The boy had red welts on his legs and buttocks.

The question that countless mothers, fathers, educators and talk show hosts are asking is: Is this considered child abuse or is it a private matter between parent and child when discipline is required?

I have heard the discussion go back and forth. Many parents have recounted their own experiences with having been smacked, potched, slapped, even belted when they were kids. Some insist it’s the only way to get your point across, especially when your child crosses the line. Playing with matches, running into the street, defiant chutzpah and disregard for rules requires a real smack on the backside. Others are emphatic in their response. They speak about emotional scars left long past the sting of the slap or the red welts disappeared.

What does Adrian Peterson have to say?

“I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son... I never ever intended to harm my son. I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen. I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child…I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal has always been to teach my son right from wrong and that’s what I tried to do that day.”

Why Hit?

Peterson believed that physical punishment is the correct way to keep one’s kids in line based upon his own upbringing. He sincerely assumed that beating a child was not only an appropriate response but even the best method of keeping children off the street and out of trouble. He explains that he attributes most of his success in life to the physical way his parents disciplined him.

The controversy is not limited to Peterson’s culture. Many parents today hold onto that same conviction. A mother who attended my parenting classes told me that when she got home and tried to implement the discipline techniques we studied, her husband began to ridicule her. He told her that his parents and her parents never had to come to a class to hear about parenting methods. “All you need to do is give the kids a potch just like our parents did. We turned out just fine. Sometimes they need a good slap to learn their lesson and believe me they will start listening”.

70%of Americans believe in corporal punishment. Parents, who like Peterson were physically disciplined as a child, are fond of quoting “Spare the rod spoil the child,” based on the verse in Proverbs, “He who spares the rod hates his son.” What is the Torah view? Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe a leading Torah authority and parenting educator explained: “We must remember that there are two sorts of rods -- violent ones and pleasant ones. Why read the verse as a requirement to beat the child, when there are other ways --better ways -- to encourage and guide a child’s growth?”

The shepherd’s rod was used to lead and guide, not to beat. We can inspire our children through the positive force of growth and encouragement rather than the negative force of our fists.

Rabbi Wolbe added: “In previous generations, the situation was different. Children were more tolerant and could more easily accept spanking. Today, however, our children’s whole environment is suffused with rebellion.”

It does not take much to push a child away and find that he has grown totally disconnected from his family. Seeking refuge, children become easily immersed in the world of iPhones and internet. Parents helplessly try to pull their kids back after having been exposed to negative values that run counter to all that they’ve struggled to teach them. Rabbi Wolbe considered hitting a child as if a parent has put a stumbling block in front of that child, driving him to rebel.

Unaware of these teachings, hitting now becomes a way of life.

Frustration can also lead to striking and potching. Mothers and fathers who fear that their kids are making bad choices and are in danger of becoming rebellious hit their children. Some parents are just overstressed. They snap under the strain of life. Noise, mess, bills, job tensions and fights with a spouse feel like a pressure cooker filled with worries. Unable to handle it all, they find that physical punishment becomes the go-to parenting technique when things feel out of control. Never having been taught alternative discipline methods, these parents continue the legacy of pain. Is this the birthright we wish to transmit to our children?

The Effects

We cannot ignore the anguish that these children endure. Studies say that children who are beaten feel sadness and low self-esteem. They have difficulty sleeping, periods of anxiety, aggressive outbursts, high risk behavior, diminished concentration, discord with peers, and great dislike for authority. Wounded children, whether hurt emotionally or physically, carry battle scars for life.

If you insist that a whole generation was raised with being hit when disciplined, I will respond that I have never in my life met a child or adult who told me that they felt greater love for their parent after being slapped. Even if you are trying to make a strong point about safety or rules that have been transgressed, know that there are better alternatives to hitting. Hurt by a parent’s hand, the trust that this child had for his mother or father becomes seriously diminished. Maybe the child will grow compliant but inside an angry storm is brewing. Rage is simmering.

This pain breeds hatred, or a barrier of stone is placed upon the heart, preventing a relationship to flourish. Often the child anticipates the moment when he, too, can strike someone who is smaller or weaker than him. Sadly, those who were beaten as children usually end up beating others. (And let us remember that verbal abuse and humiliation leave painful blisters on the soul as well.) Tragically, the cycle continues.

We must ask ourselves what the point is when we give physical punishments. If it is to better our child and teach him well we have failed miserably. Striking another human being is wrong. Striking a child is inexcusable. Usually no one is watching or brave enough to take a stand. You must answer, though, to yourself.

A Different Approach

While changing ones ways is difficult, it is not impossible. And when we realize that we may be salvaging the relationship we have with our child and preventing years of painful regret, how can we not try? We cannot alter our yesterday but we can create a better tomorrow. Transformation begins with the desire to change and the recognition that hitting, striking, potching and slapping kids is not part of our family legacy from this day forward. This doesn’t mean that we become overly permissive and look away at bad behavior. It does mean that taking parenting classes, learning how to discipline effectively and having a good role model and teacher (Rabbi, Rebbetzen, and educator) to speak with is crucial. Knowledge is power. It also means that we are now taking responsibility for our behavior. And if help is needed, we will find the courage to take the first step.

We have the ability to choose how to react to our children’s misbehavior. As Yom Kippur approaches, let us resolve that we want to teach our children by example how to live with dignity and respect for others, and that we build rather than destroy. In a world filled with so much family brokenness it is up to us to provide a sense of loving wholeness. Not through striking our children and pushing them away. Rather through thoughtful and firm discipline that creates a home filled with a sense of security and peace.





Rivki D. Rosenwald Esq., CLC, SDS 

So it's that time of the year again!  Badadum.....  We are all getting nervous.  But what are we getting nervous about?

 The food, the clothing, those extra Shabbases that somehow managed to link themselves on to the holidays and stretch them out an extra day. It's all so complicated? 

It's not easy-finding new recipes so we don't go nuts from ingesting chicken with chicken with- a chaser of chicken?  It's definitely a challenge to stay in Shul for hour after hour without attempting to throw ourselves over the railing or trying to sack the quarterback - woops, I mean Chazan.   And it’s certainly hard work, not being able to listen to the sumptuous updates on the varied dimensions of our friend's lives -and everyone else’s? 

These are not simple accomplishments. They take effort.  And Gd knows it!   But - is it possible Gd wants even more for us and from us, in these days ahead? 

Think of a parent- Bringing all their kids together.  What would they want of you? Ideally they want you to find the best in you. No arguing or bickering among one another. Just connecting back to them on multiple levels. And letting you have space to become the finest version of you that you can be.  

Gd is our most interested and invested parent. Our biggest fan. "Avinu. Malkainu".  Our parent- the king with all the power of the universe.   How much better a situation can we be in?    

The nervousness should be of not recognizing who we've got rooting for us. Or not appreciating and embracing the life plan and the wisdom we've received from the inventor, who outsmarts the wisest Siri, Waze, or google engine around.

I mean get this perspective. If your boss calls a meeting and it goes on for hours you probably get really antsy. Right? However, if it's your opportunity to be heard, well that’s a whole different story.  You love when someone says, I’m all ears.  You probably have a lot you want to say. Well -Here's your chance. Basically, if you haven't noticed it's you getting to do all the talking.  It's a time devoted to hearing you. Those gates are opened wide - your boss is all yours.         

Nervous? The only thing to be nervous about, as these holidays descend upon us, is missing the opportunities here!!! Though, I will concede one can also get a little shaken up about burning the roast. After all -You've got a lot of anxious Jews coming together for meals and there's just so many versions of chicken they are willing to consume.  

So -Love the holidays.  Love yourselves. Love your families and communities. 

And -Make a plan to embrace and have faith in life even though we don't get to understand it all!!! 

Wishing us all a truly fulfilling, healthy and happy year ahead!!!!   

Rivki Rosenwald is a certified relationship counselor, and career and life coach. She can be contacted at 917-705-2004 or<>



On Rosh Hashanah, A Breath of Life

Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
(Published in The Forward, September 2014)
In the year that we are now parting with, 5774, it became dangerous once again to be a Jew.
Israel, subject to sustained missile attack, discovered how hard it is to fight an asymmetric
war against a terrorist group ruthless enough to place rocket launchers beside schools,
hospitals and mosques. It found itself condemned by large sections of the world for
performing the first duty of any state, namely to protect its citizens from danger and death.
Anti-Semitism returned to the streets of Europe. One hundred and twenty years after
the Dreyfus trial, the cry “Death to the Jews” was heard again in Paris. Seventy years after the
Holocaust, the call of “Jews to the gas” was heard in the streets of Germany. There were times
when it felt as if the ghost of a past we thought long dead had risen to haunt us. More times
than was comfortable I heard Jews say, “For the first time in my life I feel afraid.”
Let us stay with those fears and confront them directly. We are not back in the 1930s.
To the contrary, for the first time in the almost four thousand years of Jewish history, we have
simultaneously independence and sovereignty in the land and state of Israel, and freedom and
equality in the Diaspora. Israel is strong, extraordinarily so. The success of the Iron Dome
missile defense was the latest in an astonishing line of technological advances — not just
military but also agricultural, medical and commercial — designed to protect, save and
enhance life.
Israel has lived with the disdain of the world for a very long time. Even the most
lukewarm among us knows that it is infinitely preferable to have a state of Israel and the
condemnation of the world than no Israel, no Jewish home, and have the sympathy of the
The unity Israel showed during the Gaza conflict was deeply
moving. It reminded us that in a profound existential sense we remain
one people. Whether or not we share a covenant of faith, we share a
covenant of fate. That is a good state to be in as we face the Yamim
Noraim, when we stand before God not just as individuals but as a
As for anti-Semitism, rarely has it been more self-evident that the hate that starts with
Jews never ends with Jews. The most significant enemies of the Jews today are the enemies of
freedom everywhere. Worldwide we may feel uncomfortable, anxious. But there are parts of
the world where Christians are being butchered, beheaded, driven from their homes and
living in terror.
As for Muslims, one prominent academic recently estimated that of the hundreds
dying daily, at least 90 per cent were doing so at the hands of their fellow Muslims. Bahai are
at risk. So are the Yazidis. So in other parts of the world are Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and for
that matter atheists. No historian looking back on our time will be tempted to call it the age of
“Whether or not we
share a covenant of
faith, we share a
covenant of fate.” Which brings us back to the Yamim Noraim. There is a
note of universality to the prayers on Rosh Hashanah and Yom
Kippur that we do not find on other festivals. On other festivals
the key section of the Amidah begins, Atah bechartanu mikol
ha-amim, “You chose us from among all the nations.” The
emphasis is on Jewish singularity. On the Yamim Noraim the
parallel prayer begins, “And so place the fear of Lord our God,
over all that You have made… so that all of creation will worship
You.” The emphasis is on human solidarity. And human
solidarity is what the world needs right now.
One message resonates through these days: life. “Remember us for life, King who
delights in life, and write us in the book of life for your sake, God of life.” We sometimes forget
how radical this was when Judaism first entered the world. Egypt of the Pharaohs was
obsessed with death. Life is full of suffering and pain. Death is where we join the gods. The
great pyramids and temples were homages to death.
Anthropologists and social psychologists still argue today that the reason religion
exists is because of people’s fear of death. Which makes it all the more remarkable that –
despite our total and profound belief in olam haba and techiyat ha-metim, life after death and
the resurrection of the dead – there is almost nothing of this in most of the books of the Bible.
It is an astonishing phenomenon. All of Kohelet’s cynicism and Job’s railing against injustice
could have been answered in one sentence: “There is life after death.” Yet neither book
explicitly says so.
To the contrary, King David said in a psalm we say daily: “What gain would there be if
I died and went down to the grave? Can dust thank you? Can it declare your truth?”
Almost at the end of his life Moses turned to the next generation and said to them:
“Choose life, so that you and your children may live.” We take this for granted, forgetting how
relatively rare in the history of religion this is.
Why so? Why, if we believe the soul is immortal, that there is life after death and that
this world is not all there is, do we not say so more often and more loudly? Because since
civilization began, heaven has too often been used as an excuse for injustice and violence
down here on earth. What evil can you not commit if you believe you will be rewarded for it in
the world to come? That is the logic of the terrorist and the suicide bomber. It is the logic of
those who burned “heretics” at the stake in order, so they said, to save their immortal souls.
Against this horrific mindset the whole of Judaism is a protest. Justice and
compassion have to be fought for in this life not the next. Judaism is not directed to fear of
death. It is directed to a far more dangerous fear: fear of life with all its pain and
disappointment and unpredictability. It is fear of life, not fear of death, that have led people to
create totalitarian states and fundamentalist religions. Fear of life is ultimately fear of
freedom. That is why fear of life takes the form of an assault against freedom.
Against that fear we say from the beginning of Elul to Sukkot that monumental psalm
of David: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the
stronghold of my life. Of whom then shall I be afraid?” On Rosh Hashanah we blow the
shofar, the one mitzvah we fulfill by the breath of life itself without needing any words. On the
first day of Rosh Hashanah, the “anniversary of creation,” we read in the Torah and haftorah
not about the birth of the universe but about the birth of Isaac to Sarah and Samuel to
Hannah as if to say, one life is like a universe. One child is enough to show how vulnerable life
is – a miracle to be protected and cherished. On Yom Kippur we wear the kittel, a shroud, as if
to show that we are not afraid of death.
Never before have I felt so strongly that the world needs us to live this message, the
message of the Torah that life is holy, that death defiles, and that terror in the name of God is
a desecration of the name of God.
“The emphasis of our
prayers on the Yamim
Noraim is on human
solidarity. And human
solidarity is what the
world needs right now.” The state of Israel is the collective affirmation of the Jewish people, a mere three years
after emerging from the valley of the shadow of death, that Lo amut ki echyeh, “I will not die
but live.” Israel chose life. Its enemies chose the way of death. They even boasted, as did
Osama bin Laden, that the love of death made them strong. It did not make them strong. It
made them violent. Aggression is not strength; it is a profound self-consciousness of
weakness. And the main victims of Islamist violence are Muslims. Hate destroys the hater.
Today it is not just Israel or Jews whose freedom is at
risk. It is the whole of the Middle East, large parts of Africa and
Asia, and much of Europe. Therefore let us approach the New
Year with a real sense of human solidarity. Let us show, by the
way we celebrate our faith, that God is to be found in life. The
love of God is love of life. Let us take to heart King David’s
insistence that faith is stronger than fear. No empire ever
defeated the Jewish people, and no force ever will.
May God write us, our families, the people and State of
Israel and Jews throughout the world, in the book of life. And
may the day come when the righteous of all nations work
together for the sake of freedom, peace and life.

Maximizing Your One Shot at Life 
How to create the life you want.


Steven Sotloff, the Jewish freelance journalist who was decapitated by ISIS, sent us all a message leading up to Rosh Hashanah. In a letter smuggled out by a former cellmate in May, he penned his thoughts to his family. A cousin read his words to the 1,000 mourners who attended the memorial service in Pinecrest, Florida.

“Live your life to the fullest… Everyone has two lives. The second one begins when you realize you only have one.”

We are approaching the holiest days of the Jewish calendar. It is time to take stock, to recognize that we have only one life and need to make each day count.

Spiritual Check-Up

Elul, the Hebrew month leading up to Rosh Hashanah, is a time set aside for spiritual self-examination. We scrutinize our values. We think about the way we treat others, speak to both strangers and family, and whether we have lived with a compassionate heart. We ask ourselves if we have set aside real time to forge a relationship with our Creator. The ultimate question of ‘who am I’ and ‘how is this world better because I am present’ is pondered by taking a long, hard look within.

Sometimes we come up deficient. It is painful to confront the image that stands before us in the mirror. We cannot believe how bitter or negative we have become. Scenes from the past year that were buried away now pop up and we are troubled by the tones we used or words that were said.

This past summer, I had the joy of having my daughter and her family spend a few weeks with us in our Long Island home. They live in Israel and everything was new and exciting to the children. As I was taking my 6-year-old granddaughter out to the main avenue in town, I knew that she would be meeting many people for the very first time. I explained to her the importance of saying hello with a smile.

“Bubby, I think that some people are allergic to a smile. Do you think so too?” she asked.

I had to laugh but realized that there was much truth in this child’s observation. Time passes, we become jaded. We forget how to smile and appreciate daily moments of joy. A critical eye strips us of seeing life as a blessing. We complain, we blame, we whine, we point fingers, we judge, and we bring negative energy into our homes. We rush our kids along so that we can finally have some quiet, not realizing that we are missing out on life’s sweetest moments. If we are serious about making this world better, the place to begin is within ourselves.

What is the secret to successful change?

Mindfulness is the first step. Become aware of your daily interactions. Are most of your conversations putting others down, sarcastic responses, or impatient retorts? Have you become more connected to your iPhone than to the people in your life who need you most? When was the last time you shared a word of appreciation or encouragement-especially to your family?

If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we may feel shame with the way we have acted – screaming at the kids, overblown anger at our spouse, being a source of malicious gossip that hurt others and sullied our souls. Some of us made wrong decisions that caused incredible pain. As long as we keep rationalizing our bad behavior we will never confront ourselves.

Step 2 requires a sense of embarrassment that propels us to take action.

Instead of just living with self-humiliation or rationalizing our bad behavior, this is the point where we can make real change happen. We take the discomfort and use the emotion as a positive energy to embark upon a new path. Life is about asking ourselves how can I take this moment and create a better me. What must I do right now so that I won’t remain nursing my wounds and bitter regrets? Let’s think about our triggers. Making a plan on how to react next time we are faced with a frustrating personality or situation will help us recalibrate.

Transforming oneself can be a most difficult challenge. Sometimes we change because we want to grow, other times we don’t really want to change but we recognize that we must. Either way, if we take our passion to create the life we want, we have the ability to rejuvenate ourselves. A spiritual makeover keeps us moving forward. Stagnation leads to depression of the soul.

Keep Climbing

The best way to reach new heights is to make a plan and keep on climbing. And while we climb we will probably fall. Don’t be afraid of failure. Of course there will be times that we will still yell, share some juicy gossip, or seem uncaring to our spouse. This doesn’t mean that we should give up or that our attempts to be better were for naught. Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity for change. We will not completely alter ourselves overnight. God who created us knows this and is most patient with us, His children. He wants to see that we are not callous and indifferent. Every parent desires a connection with his child. When we turn towards God and attempt to better ourselves, we are expressing our desire to reconnect with our Father. We are displaying the value we place on the gift of soul that we have been given.

These are days of reconciliation between us and God. Take a few moments, right now, and make a decision that will transform your life. Embrace your ability to change. Choose a kindness a day, one less hurtful response, one more smile when you feel depleted and want to scream, one more mitzvah that stretches your heart and soul. We have only one life. Start living it now.


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If you would like to speak, host or receive emails please contact:

Chana Epstein- 295-2537,

Chana Bienstock-569-4077 or Marcia Behar 374-0741-



If you would like to speak, host or receive emails please contact:Chana Bienstock-569-4077-

Marcia Behar 374-0741-Chana Epstein- 295-2537

A Kesivah V’chasima Tova 5774/2013-14



Jan 4/3 Shvat–Bo- Zev and Yola Ash, 413 Marlborough Rd., Ced

Jan 11/10 Shvat-Beshalach-Yossi and Elaine Farber, 333 Buckingham Ct., Ced

Jan 18/17 Shvat–Yitro-Elliot and Miriam Safer, 390 Arbuckle Ave., Ced

Jan 25/24 Shvat-Mishpatim-.Chaim and Rina Halbfinger, 324 Buckingham, Ced

Feb 1/1Adar I-Terumah-Alan and Shuly  Rubel 254 Oakwood Ave. Ced

Feb 8/8 Adar I-Tetzaveh- Robert and Esti Levinson,  444 Argyle Rd., Ced

Feb 15/15 Adar I- KiTisa- Don and Hedi Well, 484 Argyle Rd., Ced

Feb 22/22 Adar I- Vayachel-Chaim and Michelle Grosser, 386 Barnard Ave., Ced

March 1/29 Adar I-Perkudei- Stuie and Tzippy Nussbaum, 508 Redwood Ced


Mar 8/6 Adar II- Vayikrah- David and Simone Greenbaum, 571 Albermale Pl., Ced

March 15/13 Adar II – Tzav- Zvi and Malky Nathan, 421 Rugby, Ced

March 22/20 Adar II- Shemini –Zev and Evy Guttman, 588 Park Ave. Ced.

March 29/27 Adar II – Tazriah –Dovid and Shoshana Kestenbaum, 366 Summit, Ced

April 5/5 Nissan – Metzorah – Yehuda and Malya Kunstler, 346 Forest Ave., Wdmr

Wishing you a kosher and fraylichen Pes

Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst

Women's Iyun Tefila Shiur















Rebbetzin Weinberger's Shiur

Rebbetzin Weinberger's shiur for women will resume on Tuesday, October 15/11 Cheshvan at 11:00 a.m. 


Ohel Sara Amen Group in memory of Sarit Marton a'h
The "Ohel Sara" Amen Group
in memory of Sarit Marton a'h
This week's shiurim and chabura schedule:
The "Ohel Sara" Amen Group
in memory of Sarit Marton a'h
cordially invites all women to attend our
Spring Learning Series. 

This week's Shiurim & Chabura  schedule
is as follows:

Sunday, May 4, 2014
9:30 AM   Chabura - Garden of Emunah
Monday, May 5, 2014
9:15 AM    Chabura - Hilchos Brachos
9:30 AM    Rabbi David Fohrman
1:00 PM    Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller - The Maharal of Prague
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
  9:15 AM   Chabura - Rav Schwab on Tefilah
10:00 AM   Rabbi Tzvi Flaum - Chumash
11:15 AM   Rabbi Tzvi Flaum - Pirke Avos
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
9:15 AM    Chabura - Rabbi Eric Coopersmith - Teleconference
1:00 PM    Mrs. Chavi Alpert - The Gra
2 Forest Lane
Lawrence, NY
Entrance on Broadway
There is no admission charge to attend any of our programs or shiurim





Sunday, March 2, 2014 - ROSH CHODESH ADAR BEIS

8:15 AM   Brachos
9:00 AM   Hallel
9:30 AM   Rabbi Yossi Wallis, CEO of Arachim


Monday, March 3, 2014 - ROSH CHODESH ADAR BEIS

8:15 AM   Brachos
9:00 AM   Hallel
9:30 AM   Rabbi Dani Staum





Rabbi Fohrman's Shiur- New Time

Rabbi David Forhrman's Genesis Unveiled series resumes this Saturday evening, February 8th. Please note the new time of 7:15pm.


The AIPAC program, From Woodmere to Washington will follow the class at 8:30pm. 



Esti Stahler

Parshat Tzav

Parshat Vayishlach

Parshat Lech Lichah

Parshat Noach 2012 


Parshat Breishit 2012, Parshat Nitzavim/Vayelech  Parshat Naso Parshat Behaalotchah Parshat Shlach



Rabbi Eytan Feiner
Rav Meir Goldvicht'halotcha.mp3'halotcha.pdf
Shira Smiles -massey-the-grand-scheme.mp3
Past Shiurim at Ohel Sara Amen Group
Second Anniversary Program 2007
Rabbi Dovid Weinberger on Sarit Marton's Yahrtzeit Dedication:
Midos, December 4, 2007

Rabbi Nissel on Tefilah, November 2007 Topic
Rebbetzin Shira Smiles, December 2007 Topic
Debbie Greenblatt, Michtav M'Eliyahu: Midat Harachamim, October 15, 2007
Debbie Greenblatt, Michtav M'Eliyahu: Midat Harachamim, October 22, 2007
Debbie Greenblatt, Michtav M'Eliyahu: Midat Harachamim, October 31, 2007
Esther Wein and Rachel Baron: Chahashemesh L'Yaakov, July 31, 2006
Esther Wein Musaf Rosh Hashanah September 6, 2006
Rabbi Mordechai Sitorsky September 2006
Rabbi Mordechai Sitorsky on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, June 26, 2006
Rebbetzin Sara Meisels Rosh Chodesh Elul Divrei Bracha 2006
Rebbetzin Abbey Lerner Rosh Chodesh Iyar 2006
Rabbi Dovid Weinberger on thefirst of Chanukah 2007presenting the Sefer Middos
2nd Anniversary of the "Ohel Sara" Amen Group
Rebbetzin Judy Young a'h speaking at a Rosh Chodesh Elulprogram in Great Neck

Mitzvah Blessings

Sundays only at 8:15am at 386 Felter Avenue, Hewlett.
Women gather to recite and hear at least 100 morning blessings so as to fulfill the mitzvah of doing so. If you know of someone who is ill, please feel free to call and provide the group with the Hebrew name, so that those who are present may pray for him or her. Haidee Blumenthal (516)295-5431

Beryl Wein
Beryl Wein - Click here for this Week's Parshah
Local Mikvehs
Congregation Mikveh of South Shore, 1156 Peninsula Boulevard, Hewlett (516)569-5514
Hebrew Community Service Mikvah, 1121 Sage Street, Far Rockaway (718)327-9727
For Jewish Holidays Only: Aish Kodesh Mikvah. Woodmere Boulevard in Woodmere. Speak with Sandy Polansky to make a reservation. (516)459-2298
Congregation Bais Medrash. 504 West Broadway, Cedarhurst. Speak with Rebbetzin Spiegel(516)569-1971
Join Our Email List

Hewlett Woodmere Library - 1125 Broadway, Hewlett 516-374-1967
Peninsula Public Library - 280 Central Avenue, Lawrence 516-239-3262 l
Children's Movies: Sunday at 2:00pm
Story Time: Mondays at 4:15 pm (3-5 Year Olds) - a half hour program of stories and a short film.
Book Discussions: Tuesdays at 6:30 pm (Grades 4 - 7)
Registration - January 12
Program: February 10
The Theif Lord By: Cornelia Funke
Registration - February 9
Program: March 24
To Be Announced
Toddler Time: Thursdays at 10:30am (24 - 35 months) - A lively half-hour of songs, stories, fingerplays, movement and a short film for a child accompanied by an adult.
Mother Goose: Fridays at 10:00 am (12-23 months) - Programs of songs, finger plays, nursery rhymes and board books for very young readers accompanied by a parent or caregiver.
Parent-Child Workshop: Thursdays at 10:00-11:15 (12-35 months)
A special program that encourages parents to play, sing and do finger plays with their children. Specialists in the fields of Speech and Hearing, Behavior and Development, Nutrition, and Dance/Movement are available at various sessions. Registration is required and is being accepted in the children's room.
Book Talking with Arnold Rosenbaum: Wednesdays at 1:00pm
The Defining Moment - FDR's First Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope by Jonathan Alter. January 31
Economic Problems Facing the Middle Class .Mr. Rosenbaum will present his thoughts on the socioeconomic problems facing the American middle class. March 14
If Music Be The Food of Love...Shakespeare In Love: Sunday, January 7 at 2:30pm. New York jazz vocalist Christiana Drapkin celebrates the beauty and power of William Shakespeare's poetry and presents it in lively, sometimes haunting, jazz arrangements. The songs are direct quotations from Shakespeare's plays. Tickets required.
Picasso and American Art: Monday, January 8 at 1:00 pm. Picasso is acknowledged by many as the central figure of the modern movement. Art historian Mary Vahey will examine the sometimes worshipful, sometimes testy relationship between American artists and the Picasso, the immensely inventive Spaniard.
A Rockette Remembers: Wednesday, January 17 at 1:00pm. Corliss Whitney, the honorary historian of the Rockette Alumnae, shares poignant stories about her years as a Rockette during the 40's and 50's.
Laugh Your Way to Health - Humor Therapy: Wednesday, January 24 at 1:00pm. A presentation that will focus on the latest studies that scientifically prove and explain how and why laughter IS the best medicine.
Berman Does Merman: Sunday February 4 at 2:30pm. Songs and stories celebrating Ethel Mermans brilliant career will be brought to PPL by vocalist Lisa Berman. Tickets required.
India...Exotic and Ancient Land of Contrasts: Thursday, February 8 at 1:00pm. Through lecture and slides, Sally Wendkos Olds will guide you on a journey to another world of exotic beauty and ancient splendor.
Great Lyricists and/or Poets: Wednesday, February 14 at 1:00pm. Arnie Rosenbaum will share the poetic lyrics of Ira Gershwin, Alan J. Lerner and Larry Hart. You decide if the great lyricists of the 20th century really were master poets.
Louis Comfort Tiffany and Laurelton Hall - An Artists Country Estate: Monday, March 19 at 1:00pm. Ines Powell, Metropolitan Museum of Art educator, will present an illustrated lecture which will bring together many of the architectural elements and design features of Tiffany's extraordinary country estate in Oyster Bay.