Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld reciting Tehillim
Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld reciting Tehillim
Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld reciting Tehillim

By Chanita Teitz

I am still crying. We all cried when we heard that our boys, Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali were kidnapped and when we heard that they were found murdered. We cried watching the funeral attended by hundreds of thousands. I am crying while reading some of the poignant posts people are writing in memory of the boys. I am touched by the people who have made shivah calls to the families–families they don’t know, but they feel and share their pain.

I am crying at the escalation of missiles aimed at Israel and falling in and around Sderot and today aimed at the Tel Aviv area. The Iron Dome intercepted it flying over Petach Tikvah. I am crying because the world doesn’t care. Although there have been some condemnations of the continued missile attacks, there have also been condemnations of Israel’s escalated response.

When Israel is called an apartheid state, Israeli PR tries to show how much freedom the Israeli Arabs have. They can work freely in Israel, shop, ride Israeli buses, get treated in Israeli hospitals, and walk the streets freely. So much freedom, and they are free to kill Israelis, too. So I cry.

I cry for my children and grandchildren that they should stay safe. My oldest granddaughter went shopping in Geula and my daughter-in-law took a younger granddaughter shopping in the mall. I remember after 9/11 how people were afraid to go to public places or on bridges or tunnels. I worry about them shopping in crowded places considering how much freedom the Arabs have to shop there too.

The younger grandchildren usually play outdoors; a five-year-old could be watching a three-year-old. There is usually so much freedom for the children. They live outdoors. Not in the past few days, though. The younger ones are staying home; they can play on the large balcony but they can’t be out by themselves.

The sadness and fear envelop me and make it hard to concentrate. But I have to work. I do a task and then I check the news. I show a house and as soon as I’m back in my car I put on the radio.

At a wedding last night, friends asked me what I was going to write this week. I said that I am still writing about our boys. I am still thinking about our boys, our girls, our families, and all of Klal Yisrael who are in danger. And that includes us. All Klal Yisrael is in danger. The new ISIS Caliphate is attempting to spread its wings and rule the world. We must fight as one army; our soldiers will do what they are trained to do and we must continue to fight too, with the weapons we have–teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah. We have to continue to care about each other and daven that Hashem should help us and all of Israel.

Breaking news as I write; a missile was shot towards Yerushalayim. I just spoke to my daughter-in-law and my grandson. The code red siren sounded and they all went to the shelter. They are back in their apartment now, but my grandson said that his friend saw the missile in the sky.

Let us hope that this year Tishah B’Av will be a time for celebration and not for fasting. May we all be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim and may there be no more korbanos in Klal Yisrael.

Past Events

On motzaei Shabbos Parashas Balak, hundreds of members of the Queens community flooded Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim to eulogize the three kedoshim who were murdered in Eretz Yisrael.

“This is the last thing anyone wanted to do on motzaei Shabbos,” Rabbi Daniel Glatstein, shlita, mara d’asra of Congregation Toras Emes, lamented. “For 18 days, Klal Yisrael stormed the heavens. We went to sleep and woke up thinking of Naftali, Eyal, Gilad, and their families. For 18 days our hearts went out to the three boys we did not know. For 18 days we collectively hoped and prayed for the best and then our worst nightmare came true. The Three Weeks has come early this year.”

Earlier, Rav Akiva Grunblatt, shlita, rosh hayeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, spoke of the tremendous amount of merits accrued on behalf of these three kedoshim. He shared a teaching of his Rebbe, Rav Henoch Leibowitz, zt’l, that we recite the pasuk about Lavan trying to kill us and that we were slaves in Egypt as part of the vidui Bikkurim. This teaches us that we have the capacity to feel empathy for being slaves in Egypt so many years ago. We learn from this, Rabbi Grunblatt declared, that Klal Yisrael has the capacity to feel empathy for our people who are thousands of miles away. Rav Grunblatt shared many Torah sources and then shared a teaching of Chazal that there is a certain weakness in human nature. Inspiration is fleeting. We are not able to maintain the same level of inspiration and enthusiasm that we experienced under circumstances such as this tragedy. He urged everyone to take that inspiration and do something with it that will become a part of our lives. He suggested that we think of things we could do from now on as a z’chus for the three boys, for ourselves, and Klal Yisrael. Each person has to find that thing he can do. Then when inspiration fades, the commitment lives on. He exhorted everyone to take this opportunity to find that small additional chesed or way of performing a mitzvah. “Life is an accumulation of small things.” In that z’chus, Hashem should bring the geulah and Mashiach speedily in our days.

Next, Rabbi Daniel Glatstein shared powerful words of chizuk. He asked, “Are there any words to say about what happened?” Who hasn’t looked at the pictures of three yeshiva boys smiling with a gleam in their eyes with their whole future ahead of them? Rabbi Glatstein quoted a pasuk from Yirmiyahu HaNavi, “If only my head were water and my eyes a fountain of tears, I would cry day and night for my slain people…” Rabbi Glatstein went on to teach that the Navi Zecharya taught that on the day of the coming of Mashiach the mourning and crying in Yerushalayim would be enormous. He explained this pasuk according to Rav Simcha Wasserman, son of Rav Elchonon Wasserman, zt’l. The navi taught, Hashem said, “I will give you a new heart. I will place a new spirit in you. I will remove your heart of stone and I will give you a sensitive heart.” When the geulah comes, Hashem will give every Jew a sensitive heart. Rav Simcha explained that this heart of stone is a protection for us in galus to be able to emotionally survive the pain. Once Mashiach comes and the heart of stone is removed, we will fully experience the tremendous piercing pain of all the 2,000 years of galus. Rabbi Glatstein shared the heartbreaking fact that they found a paper tucked into the Gemara of one of the boys which listed all the masechtos he aspired to learn. Dreams were shattered.

Next, Rabbi Ilan Meirov, shlita, founder and director of Chazaq, moved the audience as he reminded everyone of the three boys’ now-vacant seats in yeshiva and vacant beds at home. It was a tremendous loss for Am Yisrael and the whole world to lose these three precious neshamos. He declared it imperative on us as a community and Klal Yisrael that we keep this feeling of unconditional ahavas Yisrael and personal introspection. He went on to share a message he imparted to his talmidim, that while we mourned the kidnapping and death of the three kedoshim, unfortunately there are many young people being “kidnapped” by unfiltered phones and computers. They have been taken hostage by today’s technology and many youngsters are thereby going off the derech, and many frum houses are being broken. “We have to draw together as a community to find a solution to this tremendous problem.” He exhorted everyone to continue davening with the same intensity for Klal Yisrael. Continue to be inspired and to inspire others.” Continue the unconditional ahavas Yisrael. We must show Hakadosh Baruch Hu that we don’t need another wake up call.

Tehillim was read by Rav Menashe Tzadka, shlita, of Kehillas Tov, Rabbi Elezar Shedrowitzky, mara d’asra of Agudah of Kew Gardens Hills, and Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills. This was followed by an announcement by Rabbi Moshe Winter that as a z’chus for the three boys’ neshamos and to keep the achdus and inspiration alive, a monthly community program is being planned with recital of Tehillim and speakers every erev Rosh Chodesh.

The event ended with the stirring Kel Malei Rachamim by Rabbi Yehoshua Sauer. Organizers of the event included Chazaq, Chickens for Shabbos, and the Rabbinical Seminary of America.

Upcoming Events

New Summer Shiur for Women. Rabbi Zvi Lew, popular limudei kodesh educator, will deliver a new weekly summer shiur for women on various halachic topics for seven consecutive Wednesdays, July 9—August 20 at 8:30 p.m. This free lecture series is open to all women and is held at Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills, 147-19 73rd Avenue. For more information call 718-575-0594.

Against the Red Tide: Religious activism in the early USSR. The Women’s League and Adult Education Committee of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills invite all men and women to attend a lecture by Sergey Kadinsky on Shabbos afternoon, July 12, at 6:15 p.m. in the beis midrash.

Following the revolution of 1917, organized Jewish life in Russia became subject to harassment from communist authorities. One by one, the yeshivas and synagogues were forced to close and disband. Many leading Jewish figures fled abroad, but a few stayed behind, petitioning the authorities, running underground cheders, providing kosher meat, and giving hope to those who wished to remain religiously observant. The religious refuseniks of the 1920s and 1930s had little international support and their numbers dwindled over time. The Stalinist purges followed by the Holocaust dealt the movement a nearly fatal blow. Following the war, the few lights of faith that still flickered inspired new generations of Jewish activists–those who succeeded in reviving observance among Russian Jews.

Surviving Mental Illness. Book signing and presentation at the home of Golda Fried, 72-23 139th Street in Kew Gardens Hills. Linda Naomi Katz will discuss the challenges she encountered growing up with bipolar disorder and how she dealt with stigma in the Orthodox Jewish community and her efforts toward a remarkable recovery. The event will take place Wednesday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to Linda at 718-261-3772 or e-mail baronkatz@gmail.com if you plan to attend.

Mazal Tov . . .

To Rabbi and Mrs. Avi Mirsky on the marriage of their daughter, Devorah, to Avrumie Bernstein of Woodmere. 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 chanita@astorbrokerage.com.


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