By Shmuel Katz
It’s that time of year again. Every year, after the chagim, I (along with about 100 others) spend a couple of weeks in the U.S. “on tour,” reaching out to identify next year’s prospective students. City to city, airport to airport, the trip is a little mind-numbing and tiring, but I continue to enjoy meeting new kids and sharing a few thoughts together.
My November trip is always centered on the New York Israel nights, but I still manage to get to a couple of other cities as well. (I will be at the Long Island Israel night for those who are attending. If you want to get a head start on Israel night, you can meet us on Sunday in Woodmere; see details in the ad on page 56 of this issue.) I was rained on a little earlier this week in Miami and enjoyed a couple of days in the Baltimore/Silver Spring area as well, before returning to the New York/New Jersey region for Shabbat and the Israel nights next week.
This past summer, my sister-in-law, who has a son in the army, was in the U.S. during the war. She remarked several times that she was upset that she was overseas and that she felt guilty for not being in Israel at such a trying time. At the time, I was puzzled by her statement. I mean, she is only one person and there is not much she could have done even had she been here.
As I write this, the terror spree has escalated and has hit friends of friends. Like many of you, I fear that it may continue. Despite the statistical evidence that we are generally safe, weeks like these are scary. And they are also tragic and sad. So even though we make only limited changes, if any, to our routines, these tragedies do have an effect upon us.
And I understand her statement. It is not that I think I would make a difference by being there, although in my family I would, since some of the kids relax better with me around during stressful times, and I could be a calming influence, while some of them relate better to Goldie. Instead, it is a simple longing for home. I want to be there to help man the fort (figuratively; I am too old to go to combat). When things are tough, you simply want to be home.
Let’s all hope and pray that all the murderers are brought to their final justice and that G‑d puts an end to attacks and terror.
Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (, a new gap-year yeshiva. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at


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