By Chanita Teitz
The purist and traditionalist in me doesn’t relate to all this Thanksgivukkah hype. I know this is a once-in-a-lifetime merger of these two holidays, but all the merging of recipes and menus to give them both a twist seems to be another way of increasing business and commercializing each holiday.
Actually, the Pilgrims borrowed the idea of a Thanksgiving feast from us, relating it to Sukkos, which in Israel falls out during the fall harvest season. So the Pilgrims decided to give thanks for surviving in the New World and for their bounty.
I have nothing against Thanksgiving or celebrating it, and I love a good roast turkey, but not turkey latkes, sweet potato latkes, or pumpkin latkes. I love cranberry sauce too, but I don’t think cranberry latkes will do it for me. Just give me a good, old-fashioned potato latke and I’m happy.
We always have a great game of dreidel with the grandchildren and give them all Chanukah gelt. And we all look forward to our extended family’s Chanukah party. Everyone gets to catch up with relatives they don’t see often and the little ones get to run around with all their cousins. Everyone has a great time.
The weather is feeling a lot like winter. Let’s hope it’s with a little rachmanus. I’ll take one day of snow when I can stay inside cozy and warm and enjoy the serene beauty and then let it melt right away, avoiding the ice and slush.
Have a very happy Chanukah, everyone!
According to my great-niece Rivky Milgram, the Ahavas Yisroel Women’s League ice-skating extravaganza was a huge success with friends, fun, pizza, and skating.
Truth and Triumph at Shevach High School. On November 5, Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky emphasized the relevance of Torah in our daily lives. He used the incident of Yaakov, Lavan, and the speckled and spotted sheep to teach that one must always tell the truth even if it may be difficult. Many times we are placed in situations where our honesty is tested and it may even seem that we have to pay a steep price for going against the tide. However, in the long run, we truly gain as our sense of integrity and truthfulness is established and appreciated. In such situations we have the ability to create a tremendous Kiddush Hashem with our actions. Rabbi Orlofsky concluded that an exceptional life requires hard work but those who work hard will lead more meaningful and impactful lives.
On November 11, Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller imparted to the girls the beauty and power of even those mitzvos that are not generally viewed as inspirational. The Rebbetzin said that there are several deep messages that can be gleaned from the mitzvos and hanhagos that Naomi chose to discuss with Rus. Tchum Shabbos teaches us the importance of creating structure and setting limits. Hilchos yichud point to the idea that humans are susceptible to making mistakes. We therefore need to be especially cautious and act within the context of specific boundaries. Furthermore, the middah of tzniyus, which may at times seem constraining, actually empowers us with spiritual strength and grandeur. They all revolve around limitations and boundaries that are established to allow for the emergence of holiness and proper activity. Our souls crave structure to lead an inspired life. Rebbetzin Heller thus portrayed how following all the dictates of the Torah is the best way to ensure that we lead truly fulfilling and productive lives.
On November 13, the famed Rabbi Yosef Mendelovich, whom many of us remember as “The Refusenik,” emphasized that more tragic than the physical constraints and imprisonment of Soviet Jews were the insidious attempts by the Communist regime to eradicate all traces of frum Jewish identity and lifestyle in its vast empire. Freedom meant not the breaking of bars on cell windows but the painstaking hand-carving of the image of Shabbos candles on a prison wall using a bit of an old broken nail.
Rebbetzin Hirtz, Shevach’s principal, emotionally recalled the scene at Ben Gurion airport in 1981 when, after 11 years in prison for attempting to hijack a plane to escape the U.S.S.R., Rabbi Mendelovich finally arrived in Eretz Yisrael to a hero’s welcome. Rabbi Mendelovich insisted that he was not a hero; he sees himself as a soldier, carrying out a vital mission for the sake of Yiddishkeit. Due to the trial of Rabbi Mendelovich and his friends, and the ensuing international pressure, the Soviet Union began allowing Jews to emigrate. Rabbi Mendelovich has since spread the story of his struggles for Jewish identity and shmiras halacha to communities around the globe.
Emphasized in the speech were many lessons of emunah, challenging decision making, and courage, as well as the importance of a chevrah in one’s ruchniyus quests. Regarding the ever-present gift of tefillah, Rabbi Mendelovich exclaimed, “Every Jew’s soul is praying all the time.” “Am Yisrael Chai!” was his clarion call to the students to continue with simcha, awareness, and strength in their lives as Torah Jews. This was the perfect message as we look forward to Chanukah and its celebration of the nitzchiyus–the eternal strength and ultimate triumph–of our Torah and our nation.
Mesivta Tiferet Torah in Kew Gardens paid tribute to the great gadol baTorah, Chacham Ovadia Yosef, zt’l, with special divrei zikaron by Rabbi Yaakov May, menahel of Yeshiva Tiferes Moshe in Queens. Rabbi May recounted the great personal sacrifice that Chacham Yosef endured through his lifetime in order to focus solely on studying Torah and described the extraordinary breadth of his Torah knowledge. Rabbi May also pointed out the sterling middos the Chacham Ovadia possessed. He challenged the talmidim, as students in a premier Sefardic yeshiva, to work to carry on his mesorah and emulate him in all their endeavors, both in yeshiva and out.
Agudath Israel LLI Activists Engaged in School-Choice Efforts. State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (D-15) recently visited Bais Yaakov Academy in Kew Gardens. The senator’s visit, arranged by the Queens division of Agudath Israel’s Lefkowitz Leadership Initiative (LLI), was organized to better acquaint Senator Addabbo with one of the Jewish community’s most preeminent educational institutions. The meeting gave Mr. Addabbo an opportunity to spend some time with his constituents, young and old, and to hear firsthand from activists and school officials out on the front line.
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch, executive director of Bais Yaakov, led the group on a tour of the school’s facilities. He pointed out some of the unique challenges the school faces as a private institution, including space constraints and security concerns. During the tour, the senator had a chance to see the school’s facilities, including the computer and science labs and the library. He also learned about the unique dual curriculum and extracurricular activities the school offers.
When the group entered Mrs. Siegel’s third grade class, the students and Mr. Addabbo had a lengthy and spirited discussion about government and community service.
Following the tour, the participants adjourned to a conference room for a frank and open discussion about the issues facing the Orthodox Jewish community at large, and yeshiva institutions in particular. Several issues relating to school choice and other matters were discussed, and the senator expressed his eagerness to be of help in whatever way possible.
“It was refreshing to meet with an elected official who was willing to give so much of his time to learn about our community,” said Mr. Ari Elbogen, an LLI member who joined in the visit. “A sense of mutual understanding and a desire to work together could certainly be sensed by all those present.”
The emerging Agudath Israel LLI division has been hard at work creating warm working relationships with various local elected officials including Congresswoman Grace Meng, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, Councilmen Eric Ulrich and Peter Vallone Jr, and newly elected Councilmember Rory Lancman, among others. Nechemiah Hoch, founding LLI board member, explained, “We are trying to find areas where political relationships can benefit the broader Queens Jewish community and look forward to advocating on the community’s behalf in a variety of areas.”
Wednesday Night Shiur at K’Hal Toras Emes. Located at 78-15 Parsons Blvd. The 8:30 p.m. shiur is given by Rabbi Daniel Glatstein on the parashah or an upcoming yom tov or other relevant topic. People come from all over Long Island and the New York City. Buffet dinner is served before the shiur begins, Ma’ariv takes place afterward. Sponsorships are always welcome.
Shabbos Mevorchim Nusach Carlebach Davening at Yeshiva Kesser Torah. This Friday evening (Shabbos Mevorchim), Parashas Mikeitz-Chanukah, November 29. Minchah 4:21-5:36 p.m. (Repeat Shma). Men and women are welcome.
Women’s Chanukah Zumba Party at Kehilas Toras Emes. There will be great energy, food, and raffle prizes. November 30 at 7:30 p.m. $15 cover. For more information, call Libby at 646-251-8136.
Fun for Kids Party Entertainment “Miracle of Light” Chanukah Musical Production. Sunday, December 1. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. Show begins at 11:00 a.m. At Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 75-02 113th Street in Forest Hills. Cost is $15 per child. Group discounts available. Tickets sold at the door. Cash only.
Shabbos Groups Every Shabbos for 9th- and 10th- Grade Boys. Dynamic group leader, games, divrei Torah, and nosh. Come join and bring your friends. 3:00-4:30 p.m. at the home of Sammy and Avigayil Straus. For more information, call 718-757-5303.
Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Civic Association Inaugural Legislative Breakfast. Sunday, December 8, 9:30 a.m. Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, 70-11 150th Street. Honoring Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall; NYC Council Member James Gennaro; and Norma Stegmaier, first recipient of the Pat Dolan Community Service Award. Admission $25. RSVP Cynthia Zalisky 718-544-9033, ext. 6401. Special $35 admission includes one year membership to the KGH Civic Association. Please join in saying thank you for everything they have done for our community.
Queens Jewish Center Blood Drive. In loving memory of Ludmila Herz. Sunday, December 8, 8:30 a.m.—2:30 p.m. 66-05 108th St. in Forest Hills. All presenting donors will be entered into a sweepstakes for one pair of tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII, valued at $2,500! Every person who comes to donate blood as part of the campaign will also receive a red Super Community Blood Drive wristband. Eligibility criteria: ID with signature or photo, minimum weight 110 lbs., eat well and drink non-caffeinated fluids, no tattoos for the past 12 months, age 16—75 (16-year-olds must have parental permission. Age 76 and over need doctor’s note). For questions concerning medical eligibility, call 800-688-0900. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please contact JCBloodDrive@MyQJC.org.
Bais Yaakov Of Queens News
This week, Magen NY visited Bais Yaakov of Queens and presented Safety Kid to more than 500 of our students. The girls in grades kindergarten through fifth had an hour-long presentation concerning their personal safety. They learned and practiced keeping themselves safe in any situation that makes them uncomfortable.
They covered the A, B, C, D, E of staying safe. A: Ask for help; in case of emergency, call 9-1-1, a safe helper if you get lost; B: Bring a friend; there’s safety in numbers; C: Check first, before opening the door, before answering the phone, before changing plans; D: Do tell; no one is ever allowed to talk to you about, look at, or touch private body parts. No one is allowed to ask you to keep a secret about the private parts of your body. If someone says “don’t tell” it is an automatic “DO TELL,” never a secret or a game; and E: Explore the Internet safely.
Following the student workshop, there was a distribution of Safety Kid kits for everyone to take home, to reinforce what the girls learned.
Many thanks to the coordinator of the day and presenter, Mrs. Yocheved Deitsch, and volunteers Elisa Alpert, Yelli Koenig, Goldy Kurz, Yaffa Sauer, and Rachelli Weiss.
Reading Together ‘Buds’ More Than Great Buddies! At Bais Yaakov of Queens, the first- and third-graders share reading time. Miss Tovie Zakutinsky, a first-grade teacher, said, “The first step is to form some camaraderie and friendship across grade level.” The program inspires the first-graders when they are read to by the older girls. Mrs. Shira Silber, the partnering third-grade teacher, says, “It gives confidence to all of the girls in third grade because they are reading to younger girls.” In order to gain the most out of the shared time, both teachers give mini lessons before the students come together. The girls have worksheets for them to complete together that review concepts they both know; for example, characters, settings, and sequencing. The teachers and assistants circulate through the room and listen to the girls’ reading, noting improvement. Everyone grows in the sharing and exploration of good books!
To Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt and family on the petirah of his father, Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt.
To Drora Brody and family on the petirah of her father, Mr. Yosef Aharoni.
To Yaakov Serle and family on the petirah of his mother, Mrs. Belle Serle.
HaMakom yenachem eschem b’soch sh’ar aveilei Tziyon v’Yerushalayim. v
Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.