I was helping my granddaughter with a college essay the other night. She had me read a short story and then we discussed it. The story was a simple one, but in that simplicity, the author connected with the reader. Through vivid narration and descriptive writing, the author took us on a journey through tragedy and loss to empathy and compassion. Along the way, there was an apology due to a misunderstanding, which was climactic at the end of the story.
When I read daily of another attack in Israel or around the world, can I really feel the pain of another person? I certainly try. Just as an author paints a picture with words that bring up images in our minds that help us feel for another, certain emotions are universal in all of us and we can therefore use our own experiences to understand what someone else is facing.
In the short story, the author found a resolution at the end — compassion where earlier there was detachment, and acceptance and gratitude where there was anger. Nice and neat. Where is our resolution? How long will the Jewish people continue to face antisemitism? How long do we have to wait for our long galus to end?
How long do we have to hear of tragedies, murders, stabbings, and children dying in a fire? How long before everyone who needs a refuah sheleimah is healed or everyone who is waiting for a shidduch finds their bashert?
We daven as part of our hishtadlus, and part of that hishtadlus is feeling the pain of others. That is what will give us the impetus to comfort and be comforted, to show gratitude for what we have, and to believe with all our hearts that a brighter day is just around the corner.
YCQ Visits Ellis Island And 9/11 Memorial
By Maya Betesh, Rebecca Lalo, and Gabrielle Ruben, grade 8
On Monday, September 23, Yeshiva of Central Queens (YCQ) eighth grade students visited Ellis Island and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. After taking a ferry from Battery Park to Ellis Island, students learned how the immigrants entered America, gaining an understanding of their hardships and how they coped with the difficult journey and settling in America. When asked what she got out of the trip, Talia Cohen said, “It was an amazing experience because Ellis Island was where people immigrated many years ago. While I was there, I felt like I was in their shoes.”
The students then went to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The students found it to be a very touching experience. When asked what her favorite part of the museum was, Jamie Roth responded, “My favorite part of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was when we saw a fire truck that had been wrecked and burned when one of the towers collapsed. That really gave me a different view on what had happened on that day. I never really understood how many lives were affected by the events of that day.”
YCQ students had the chance to learn in detail about the struggle and hardships immigrants had to go through just to come to America and how the events of 9/11 impacted Manhattan, the rest of America, and everyone around the world.
Shevach High School Welcomes “Wired For Success” Initiative
On Wednesday evening, September 18, the student body of Shevach High School launched a Technology Awareness Initiative, spearheaded by principal, Rebbetzin Rochelle Hirtz. After the school day was over, the girls were transported to the Young Israel of Hillcrest, where they were treated to a catered dinner. Following the meal, Rebbetzin Hirtz introduced the program with a dvar Torah from the Chovas HaTalmidim by the Piacenza Rav.
The rav likened the process of chinuch to an unripe fruit, as when one takes a bite out of the fruit and the taste is not sweet and not fully developed. One’s natural response to that bite is, “This is what I worked so hard for?” To which the Piacenza Rav explains that the planting process requires a lot of patience. Rebbetzin Hirtz said, “This evening, we are planting the seeds — the beginning of a process. We must be patient and not become disheartened. When we carry it through, the result will be a beautiful fruit both inside and out. Technology awareness is a process and when we implement certain changes, we will produce stronger, healthier relationships, which will be beneficial to our growth.”
The program continued with a trigger film called Disconnect and Enjoy, depicting numerous scenes of people using their phones in the company of others, rendering them invisible. This was followed by round-table discussions facilitated by the Shevach faculty. The students offered their opinions on three thought-provoking questions that generated animated discussions around the tables.
The highlight of the evening was Mrs. Aliza Feder, mechaneches at Machon Ora in Passaic and author of the popular book, “TechTalk,” who addressed the girls on various situations of technology. She began her presentation with a brief personal history of how she got involved in raising the awareness of technology and offered countless examples relating to technology that the girls could relate to. Several key points that resonated with the students were: “Technology should not own you, rather you should own your technology,” and “Do not let the phone become an extension of your hand!”
Mrs. Feder then offered practical strategies that the girls could implement to begin to “cleanse” themselves of technology. The first one was to “push off” owning a smartphone for as long as you can. She likened this step to one who gets a driver’s license. Just as there is an age requirement for one to begin driving and being younger than that age would present a real danger if that person were on the road, similarly there should be an age requirement for one to own a smartphone. Another tip was “app cleanse” — delete any apps on the phone that are unnecessary.
The girls were riveted for the 45 minutes of her speech. They afterwards commented that she was relatable, practical, and understanding of their place in society as teenagers. Yet her message was abundantly clear — technology is a useful tool, but one must be vigilant with its usage.
The evening concluded with the student heads of the technology committee, seniors Ettie Langer and Esti Goldman, encouraging the girls to take on a kabbalah of powering off their cell phones for one hour every evening from that night through Isru Chag Sukkos.
The feeling in the room was electric with the girls prepared to take ownership of their technology and begin to enrich and strengthen relationships which would otherwise be reduced to abbreviated messages on an electronic device. The evening sent powerful messages to the girls, enabling them “to be wired for success.”
Blood and Bone Marrow Drive, Sunday, October 6 from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. at Beth Gavriel, 66-35 108th Street. Sponsored by Chazaq, ABA, Beth Gavriel, Maimonides, and Gift of Life. For more information, call 347-701-3851.
5K Walk/Run in memory of Michael Simanowitz, Sunday, October 27 from 8:30 a.m. in Flushing Meadows Park. Hosted by YCQ and Avigdor’s Helping Hand. At 9:40 a.m. there will be youth sprints and at 10 a.m. the 5K will begin. To register, call 917-568-8809 or visit the registration page online. Tizku l’mitzvos.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.