By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com
Children And Deferred Dreams
Reflected in the names of her children, Leah grows to recognize her own worth, independent of Jacob's feelings for her.
We all dream about our lives, our families and our destiny. Born into a world we did not create, motivated by hope, energy and drive, we spend our childhood and adolescence absorbing wonderful stories of adventure, heroes and fantasies.
And we dream. We dream of achieving the highest ideals of our fantasy life…of being president, landing on the moon or becoming a star. We imagine ourselves as wealthy, or famous or wise. Venerating a galaxy of admired adults, we imagine ourselves as one of them, as one of the best of them.
In the fantasies of children, life has no end; possibilities, no limit. And we are not alone in spinning those dreams. Children may aggrandize themselves, but they do so with the active consent and encouragement of their parents, grandparents, teachers and a supporting cast of thousands.
By Abigail Klein Leichman for Israel21c
Sixty percent of the volunteer staff of Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency-response network, are teenagers.
When the dispatcher alerted them about a two-week-old baby who’d stopped breathing, 16-year-old Ori Cohen and his Magen David Adom crewmates were right nearby with their ambulance. Working quickly under the guidance of the crew’s senior emergency medical technician, Cohen and his fellow volunteers restored the infant’s breathing and whisked her off to the hospital. The doctors said she’ll be fine.
Cohen is one of 11,000 Israeli teenagers working voluntary shifts on MDA ambulances throughout Israel – making up a remarkable 60 percent of the volunteer staff.
It was important to both of us to represent both of our faith traditions, and to incorporate our vibrant, polyamorous, queer, trans communities as much as possible. We had a huge wedding party (14 people!) because there are so many people who are incredibly dear to us…
My partner is a bearded, genderqueer, transfeminine person, and it was really important to us to be visible and proud about our relationship because so many people think that people like us can't (or don't deserve) to find love and happiness. Caleb rocked a gorgeous wine-colored wedding dress, while I went with a more traditional white gown, and we did our damndest to show the world that love like this will not be hidden.
BY HANNAH DREYFUS for jewishweek.timesofisrael
Orthodox Vagina Monologues expands, days schools re-examining modesty education as Weinstein effect lingers.
Ayala Tiefenbrunn, a 21-year-old design student at FIT and an Orthodox young-married, took the mic in front of 75 people a few months ago. She took a deep breath and launched into a personal essay about her tortured relationship with birth control.
While acute communal and social pressure dictated that she and her husband start “trying,” her young age and professional aspirations kept her dutifully on the pill. But, she said, the choice isn’t easy. “Every time I don’t see a friend for a few months and she’s pregnant, it hurts a little — I so want to be there.”
Married at 19, Tiefenbrunn addressed an audience of young, predominantly Orthodox women; she wore a silver and blue head wrap, horn-rimmed glasses, and a layered top. Later, she confessed, “I constantly feel guilty because I’m on birth control.”
By Rahel Musleah for Hadassah Magazine
As part of the award-winning songwriting team Pasek and Paul, Benj Pasek’s star has risen high this year. The duo won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “City of Stars,” from the film La La Land, and six Tony Awards (including Best Musical and Best Original Score) for Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, the story of a high school’s reaction to a suicide. Next up, The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, opens in movie theaters on December 25. Pasek, 32, is now working on Disney’s live-action film adaptations of the animated classics Aladdin and Snow White. A resident of Manhattan, Pasek grew up in Ardmore, Pa., and met his collaborator, Justin Paul, at the University of Michigan, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater. His father, Jeff Pasek, is an attorney, and his mother, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, is a developmental psychologist who loves music. She was his date at the Academy Awards.
DANIEL GRITZER for seriouseats.com
I'm convinced that one of the world's greatest sandwiches comes from the Middle East. And I am most certainly not talking about falafel. My obsession is the sabich, a pita sandwich stuffed with fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, hummus, tahini sauce, and Israeli salad and pickles. To me, it's not even a contest.
I've never really understood the fascination with falafel. In theory, I should love it—chickpeas are my favorite beans, and deep-fried...well, I love deep-fried so much that I'm now using it as a noun. But falafel has yet to win me over, with even the moistest versions way drier and more crumbly than I want. Pack it inside starchy pita, and...I just don't get it.*
By JWeekly Correspondent
Thanksgiving brings to mind pleasant images of roasting turkey, pumpkin pie and family gatherings. Perfectly compatible with Jewish observance, the holiday is a traditional favorite of Jewish families.
It always falls on a Thursday, never on Shabbat. The classic main dish is a turkey, available in kosher form. And gratitude for one's blessings is a religious impulse that all Americans can share.
Moreover, popular historical interpretation holds that the pilgrims modeled Thanksgiving after the biblical harvest festival of Sukkot. Whether or not this is accurate — a historian friend of mind considers it an American midrash or creative interpretation — it creates a comfortable association between Thanksgiving and our Jewish heritage.
In that vein, here are a few ideas to make Thanksgiving even more special for your family:
By Phyllis Chesler for Tablet Magazine
But the theft and erasure of Sabina Spielrein’s intellectual legacy by the psychoanalytic establishment may be an even more troubling crime
In August 2012, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, a protest took place critiquing a plaque that memorialized the 27,000 “citizens” who were systematically shot in a two-day massacre by the Nazis during World War II. Russian officials had removed the original plaque, which had honored the mostly Jewish victims, and replaced it with a revisionist plaque honoring only “citizens.” The precious Jewish souls, the doctors, lawyers, poets, scientists, librarians; all the parents, children, and grandparents, murdered specifically on account of their ancestry—were gone, literally overnight. Among them was Dr. Sabina Spielrein, the pioneer psychoanalyst, a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, the first child psychoanalyst in the world, (yes, even before Anna Freud), and the founder of Moscow’s Psychoanalytic Clinic.
By CATHRYN J. PRINCE for The Times of Israel
Groups seek to put a human face on the Jewish state while countering misconceptions and anti-Israel activists
The questions come fast and furious for Israel Defense Force reservists Keren and Haitham, who goes by the nickname Tom.
“How do you show your support for Israel on campus?” “How does training and combat affect you?” “Do you have to live in Israel to show your love for it?”
About 40 students sit inside the book lined beit midrash, or study hall, of Hebrew High School of New England (HHNE). They have more questions than time allows. Still the pair does their best to answer each one clearly, concisely and completely.
This is the second to last stop on a nearly three-week long Israeli Soldiers Tour, or IST, through New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Along the way the two, whose last names have been withheld for security reasons, met students at University of Hartford and cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
This article has been reprinted with permission from InterfaithFamily *
by Sarah Rizzo
At just nine weeks pregnant, my doctor ran a blood test and we waited on the results, full of anticipation. When they came back, we found out our baby was a healthy baby boy! Seeing is believing for me, so I waited until the anatomy scan to be sure we needed to start preparing for a boy. Sure enough, the blood test didn’t lie.
Our first baby was a girl, so after the birth, there was no rush to pull off a Jewish lifecycle event. We had done a simchat bat (also called a brit bat) celebration for her (a Jewish naming ceremony for a baby girl), but it was almost two months after she was born, so we had already started to settle into a routine and we were somewhat rested. This time would be very different. This boy would have a bris on his eighth day of life, no matter when that would fall. For my Type A personality, it was going to be tricky to relinquish control.
*Photo by Melissa Naclerio, Modern Birdcage Photography
BY RABBI SIMKHA Y. WEINTRAUB for myjewishlearning.com
A healing prayer for when a loved one is suffering.
One of the central Jewish prayers for those who are ill or recovering from illness or accidents is the Mi Sheberakh. The name is taken from its first two Hebrew words. With a holistic view of humankind, it prays for physical cure as well as spiritual healing, asking for blessing, compassion, restoration, and strength, within the community of others facing illness as well as all Jews, all human beings.
Traditionally, the Mi Sheberakh is said in synagogue when the Torah is read. If the patient herself/himself cannot be at services, a close relative or friend might be called up to the Torah for an honor, and the one leading services will offer this prayer, filling in the name of the one who is ill and her/his parents. Many congregations sing the version of the Mi Sheberakh written by Debbie Friedman, a popular Jewish folk musician who focused on liturgical music. (That version can heard in the video, and its lyrics read, at the top of this article.)
By Brian Blum for Israel21c
mPrest’s technology will allow Vector engineers to manage and predict outages and allow the efficient delivery of energy to and from the grid.
Did a gas and electric company in New Zealand just buy Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system to protect its infrastructure? Not quite.
But New Zealand-based energy and communications infrastructure provider Vector did make a $10 million investment in the Israeli company that developed the Iron Dome. And some of the technologies that power Israel’s remarkable protection against projectiles will be used by Vector as part of its IoT (Internet of Things) approach to optimizing management and control services.
Vector’s investment in Israel’s mPrest means that the New Zealand company has transitioned from mPrest customer to investor and business partner. The two companies “will to continue to develop and apply a machine learning and artificial intelligence system to better manage Auckland’s changing energy demands.”
BY RACHAEL GELFMAN SCHULTZ for myjewishlearning.com
The proud and turbulent history of Israel's experiment in communal living.
The kibbutz — a collectively owned and run community — holds a storied place in Israeli culture, and Jews (and non-Jews) from around the world, including 2016 Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders, have volunteered on them. Launched in 1909, with the founding of Degania, Israel’s first kibbutz, this unique movement has changed dramatically over its more-than-100-year history.
Degania, in northern Israel, was founded by a group of young Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. They dreamed of working the land and creating a new kind of community, and a new kind of Jew — stronger, more giving, and more rooted in the land.
By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com
John Wayne Meets Jacob
Jacob inspires us to overcome our Esau-like desires for instant gratification and physical power.
Esau is surely one of the most tragic figures of the Bible. He is a simple man, whose robust nature leads him to exult in his own health, strength and energy. Esau loves to hunt. He revels in the outdoors and in bursting limits. Esau is a man of impulse. Like Rambo or John Wayne, Esau thrives on his tremendous power, his physical courage and his own inner drives.
Modern America admires that. We distrust the intellectual. Someone who thinks too much, or who is too sensitive to the feelings of others (or to his own feelings) is held in disdain. We prefer a man who can impose his own will through a show of determination and strength, someone who doesn't plan in advance, someone who can relish the moment and trust his own passions.
By Dani, an 11th grader on eJewishPhilanthropy
Talk loudly and talk a lot, because communication is first step on the path to healing.
Hope is a powerful thing. Hope inspires change. Hope – hatikva – is the reason our Jewish people have survived and thrived in this hostile world for so long. Hope is the ability to look past the darkness of the present and see a brighter future. But when a person loses hope, loses that ability to imagine an eventuality in which anything could ever be alright, it becomes difficult to go on.
I know this because I barely survived four years living without hope. For those four years, I was stuck alone in a dark, empty room, seriously contemplating just getting up and checking out before I realized that those who loved me – my friends, my parents, my rabbis – were only a phone call away. It is an experience I would not wish on anyone, and one I wish never to repeat.
Kenny Fries for Jewish Book Council
At a dinner party soon after I moved to Berlin, a German guest recounted the story of his struggle to restore the bomb-battered grave of his grandfather at the Jewish Cemetery in Weissensee. He regaled the dinner guests, telling us about his phone call to the cemetery administrator, who told him the requirement that all new gravestones are required to quote scripture.
“But my father wasn’t a believer,” he complained to the administrator. “He wouldn’t have wanted scripture, Jewish or otherwise, on his tombstone. He was a Communist.”
“Make up your mind,” demanded the administrator. “Was your grandfather a Jew or a Communist?”
BY RON KAMPEAS for The Jewish Week
Not long ago Yahel Epel, a volunteer with the Israeli American Council, fulfilled her assigned mission: She assembled 200 Jews, half of them Israeli American, in a room in Denver on a Friday evening for a potluck dinner and a Shishi Yisraeli program.
Shishi Yisraeli, a program launched by IAC that means “Israeli Friday evening,” seeks a happy medium between what those with and without Israeli roots or backgrounds would enjoy on a Friday night. The idea: Get them together. Create community.
How did it go?
By Gabriela Geselowitz for Jewcy
Starr Weems is a Jewish teacher and artist in Alabama who’s taken on the mission of creating a piece of art for every parsha of the year. These watercolors are dreamlike and ethereal (and a little bit psychedelic), visual midrashim, of sorts.
“This project started two years ago with my personal sketchbook,” Weems told Jewcy. “I had decided to spend time studying the parsha each week and translating it into my own visual language. It was sometimes a challenge to keep up with it on top of my regular painting and illustration jobs, but I managed to get through the cycle of an entire year… I had been wanting to rework my sketchbook ideas into finished pieces for a while, and when a venue contacted me to book a spring exhibit, I decided that now is a good time.”
Sarah Rich for Jewish Book Council
Sarah Rich is the co-editor of Leave Me Alone with the Recipes: The Life, Art, and Cookbook of Cipe Pineles. Cipe (pronounced “C. P.”) was one of the most influential graphic designers of the twentieth century, and the first female art director at Condé Nast.
When I first flipped through Cipe Pineles’s hand-painted recipe book from 1945, it felt deeply familiar. This was my family’s food—not the food we ate for dinner on an average evening during my childhood, but the food we kept in our cultural pantry.
It was a wonder to see these dishes rendered with so much vibrancy and character in Cipe’s art. In my mind, many Eastern European Jewish foods were fairly plain and monotone. You could paint matzo balls, gefilte fish, potato latkes, noodle kugel, kasha and brisket all within a spectrum from beige to brown. Yet here was a rainbow of beets, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes; not to mention the cool blue enamel and warm clay of the cookware. It was a visual celebration of a cuisine that typically feels nostalgic, comforting, old.
BY JOANNA C. VALENTE for Kveller
Remember Fievel? Fievel is the adorable mouse in the animated series “An American Tail”–and its sequel “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.” How could you forget the whole Mousekewitz family saga? The movie, which chronicled their move to America, may seem eerily like your own family’s story.
There are a ton of things you may not realize about the American Tail series, however, and I’ve compiled them below: