This past Sunday was the “Back the Blue” car parade honoring the police force of the 107th precinct in Kew Gardens Hills and 112th precinct in Forest Hills. There was a long line of cars honking their thanks and appreciation to the men and women in blue. It was also a day of COVID-19 swabbing and antibody testing at the Young Israel of KGH. These were two important community events for anyone who was able to attend.
The response to my column last week has been remarkable, and readers keep sending me emails. They are reaching out to me because they are interested in checking out real estate to buy in Israel. Unfortunately, we still do not know when we can go because tourism remains closed. Although there are flights, they are only for Israeli citizens or for a family member going for an important family event. That is the only way to gain entry at Ben Gurion airport, and proof must be submitted to the Israeli consulate to get a special visa. Even if you do get clearance to enter the country, you will need to quarantine for 14 days. Though I was born in Israel and have a teudat zehut number, I am not considered a citizen. So we are waiting, and I will stay in touch with those who send me their email address.
On motzaei Shabbos, Akiva and I listened to a disturbing YouTube audio tape of Michael Savage describing some antisemitic hate threats sent to him through Guerilla Mail. It is the growing antisemitism and general hate and anarchy that is giving us all a push towards Eretz Yisrael. But let us not be unrealistic. Politics in Israel is also a mess and we should be prepared for culture shock and an adjustment period. Anyone planning on aliyah should be doing so because they truly embrace “going home” to where the Jewish heart has always yearned, not running away in fear from the climate in the U.S.
Hashem is not making it easy to get there. It’s almost as if He is saying, “What took you so long? After all this time, you finally want to come home? You will have to work hard to get there.”
It would be easier to go if we could end the COVID-19 pandemic so tourism could start again. It reminds me of something my son has been saying all these months of lockdown. He suggested proclaiming Hashem’s Kingship over all mankind as we do on Rosh Hashanah, by blowing the shofar publicly, letting the world know that Hashem is in charge. This year, with so many shuls still closed or unable to accommodate all their mispallelim due to social distancing regulations, there will still be outdoor minyanim and probably outdoor shofar blowing. Starting in a month with Rosh Chodesh Elul, we will be hearing shofar blowing at the outdoor minyanim. My friend who lives in a beautiful home in the Old City facing the Kotel says that from Rosh Chodesh Elul the sound of shofar blowing is constantly heard coming from the shuls and from the many minyanim at the Kotel. Let Klal Yisrael be the nation that tells the world that Hashem is in control and we must embrace true brotherhood without political agendas and without hate, destruction, and murder. Maybe we can get rid of the coronavirus and bring peace to all mankind.
In the meantime, I saw a dramatic animation of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash produced by Rabbi Benzion Klatzko with his son Luzy singing in the background. It reminded me of the 3D virtual-reality video of the Beis HaMikdash playing in the theater next to the Kotel plaza. When you go to Israel, you must see it!
As we start the Nine Days and mourn what we have lost, let our words and our tears be sincere in our desire to see the Beis HaMikdash rebuilt in our lifetime. Let us mean it when we say, “Hasheveiynu Hashem eilecha v’nashuva: Hashem, bring us back to you and we will return.”
Let the gates of Eretz Yisrael reopen once again for all Jews, and we will return!
Chazaq Goes From Zooming to Gradual Opening
With all the stress and frustration that COVID-19 has brought to the world, one organization found a way to use this terrible period for a time of unity and growth.
The Chazaq organization, which is renowned for organizing hundreds of classes for men and women throughout the year, did not stop during the pandemic. True to its name, Chazaq became even stronger, inspiring tens of thousands of people every week via their nearly daily classes via Zoom, TorahAnytime, and other means of technology. Classes on parenting, overcoming tests of life, and building our emunah in Hashem were just some of the array of topics Chazaq focused on for the past few months. The impact it has had is truly tremendous as men and women worldwide received the right dose of inspiration that they needed during these difficult times.
While the Chazaq lectures went on, so did CHAZAQ’s programs for public-school students of all ages. Chazaq classes for their JWave teen division were rolling around the clock via Zoom, while the Chazaq Shaping Lives programs for children had its share of inspirational Zoom moments. Hundreds of students were inspired via distance learning, thereby connecting to their beautiful heritage while also learning about various ways of overcoming life’s many challenges.
With all this, nevertheless, nothing can compare to being together in person. Baruch Hashem, after July 4, Chazaq’s JWave programs for teens reopened in various locations. Chazaq’s renowned staff headed by Rav Moshe “HaTzaddik” and Rav Avraham Walkin for the boys’ division have made it their mission to accomplish even greater things soon. Both of these youth mentors suffered tragic losses during the pandemic but have used their personal loss as a way to grow together with their many students. The girls’ division run by Mrs. Zino has thankfully reopened as well, and they, too, have great plans ahead for the public-school teens of the community.
Chazaq lectures for the time being will continue via technological means, and plans are being made to reopen the Shaping Lives programs for public-school children in the near future as well.
For more information about Chazaq programs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email email@example.com.