The Life and Escape of the Jews in Syria

I was very impressed with last issue’s cover story, “The Life and Escape of the Jews of Syria,” as it described so much of our ancestors’ lives in Aleppo, Syria and how dangerous and difficult it was to leave.  It is most interesting to note that 15 years ago Joey Sitt marveled at how special our community is and the brilliance of all the members, and took it upon himself to preserve the history of the community by creating an extraordinary seven-part film series as well as the Sephardic Heritage Museum in Lakewood, New Jersey. I often wonder about what my grandparents really left behind. What part of Syria did they not take with them and how would our lives be different if they never left?

R. Boujo

Coping with the Recent Natural Disasters

When people start talking about the recent hurricanes and earthquakes it’s not long before the conversation goes something like this – “How could something like this happen? How could Gd let something like this happen?”

I found myself praying for the people of Texas, Florida, Mexico, and Puerto Rico throughout the day and asking the question this way: “Why does there have to be so much suffering? How can we give meaning to an event this horrific?”

The article that appeared in last month’s issue (“What Messages Do the Recent Natural Disasters Hold for Us?”) really educated me with the Torah way of thinking, and has helped me cope with the recent natural disasters.

We cannot turn away from world events by burying our heads in the sand. We need to recognize that everything we are exposed to is meant to change us for the better, all the more so the tremendous events. Thank you for elucidating the practical path we can take to rise to the challenge.

I do have one suggestion for your readers. I think we should all engage in intense heartfelt prayer to Hashem whenever we hear of such tragedies and request that He have mercy on the survivors and help all who suffer to reestablish their lives.

David  P.

The Torah Codes

While I never really gave much thought about the Torah Codes, I found last month’s article about the Codes and the recent natural disasters extremely fascinating. I do admit that I was a little skeptical when I first read the article. But after I checked Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson’s site on the web I became convinced of the authenticity of the Torah Codes. I never thought I’d see anything so convincing in my lifetime – I was astonished!

If you think about it – there is no denying that there are secrets within the writings of the Torah. There are letters written upside down, some written much larger, and some smaller than normal. There had to be a reason why the scribes continued to copy the text exactly the way it is.

Solomon E.

Hatzalah of the Jersey Shore

My entire family enjoyed reading the article about the Jersey Shore Hatzalah and how it got started. Can’t tell you how many times my family needed their help over the last few years. A huge thank you to all Hatzalah volunteers! Our community is extremely fortunate to have so many incredible and selfless people involved with Hatzalah. These volunteers are true heroes.  We owe them all a big hazak u’baruch!

Leslie H.

Photo Caption Correction

Include the photo below the corrected caption.

There was an incorrect caption with one of the photos that appeared in last month’s cover story (page 29). The correct caption for the photo below is:

Jacques Gindi, a”h, with his daughters (from left to right) Yolande, Rosette, Cylia, and Paulette.

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Cosmetic Surgery

I found the article [about the halachic issues relevant to cosmetic surgery] interesting, but the comment, “Whether it is the torture of feeling unattractive or the feeling of hopelessness of a single friend who is losing hope that he/she will ever have a wife/husband and family, we must always look for ways to ease their pain” was off the mark. Singles who have plastic surgery to “ease their pain” will be sorely disappointed if they are using such alterations as a magic pill for finding a mate. One only needs to look around at the abundance of beautiful, intelligent, successful and caring singles to realize that less than picture-perfect looks are hardly responsible for our singles crisis.

Raymond G.

Considering the difficulty, expense, and the amount of years of intense studying that are required to get into medical school and to succeed – I feel that it is a waste of talent for these trained bright men and women to use their medical expertise to enhance the physical looks of patients simply for the sake of vanity. Is that the best use for all that training? I think the risks are unnecessary and the value negligible. It is a big waste and shame, and shows how we lack true values. I agree that there are many instances where plastic surgery is needed, as enumerated in the article, but more often it is not. I do not understand how intelligent men and women have been so bamboozled, and I think doctors should be doing more important work.

Sylvia T.

Dollars and Sense

Your new column, Dollars and Sense, by Rabbi Max Anteby is a welcome addition to your fine publication. The events of the past few years have made it clear that what our community and society need in order to establish a secure and stable market is a strong financial education. The reason why so many families are experiencing financial difficulties is poor financial decisions and lack of planning. Not being able to properly manage finances and obligations generally leads people to huge debt and a bad credit rating.

It is critical to build a strong foundation within every person from early on to allow them to make wise financial decisions throughout their adult lives which will not only benefit them personally, but will also help our community as a whole. Kudos to Rabbi Anteby and the Mesila organization for dedicating their resources and energies to educating people about being financially responsible.

M. Shalom

Back-to-School Sanity

I hope that every parent read the article titled “Back to School Sanity” in last month’s issue. The point that every child should be taught according to his own way cannot be stressed enough.

Unfortunately, when I was a young student, my parents pressured me by insisting that I study the subjects that interested them and mattered most to them. They did not seem to care that my interests and strengths were different than theirs. Don’t get me wrong – my parents are good people who tried their best with what they knew, but their goal from the time I was in elementary school was for me to go to college and become a top lawyer or doctor.  I had different interests than my parents, and my strengths were not suited for either profession, yet they kept insisting that this was the “only” way to be considered successful. I became so frustrated that I was not permitted to study the subjects that most interested me, that I stopped caring about my test scores and ended up with below average grades – making sure that there was no possible way for me to get into a prestigious college.

Now that I’m a parent, I will make sure not to repeat the same mistakes. I will be encouraging my children to utilize their unique talents and individual strengths – even if they are different than mine.

Robert B.

Distant Stars

I was deeply disturbed by the August article, “The Distant Stars: Learn why life on earth would be impossible without the billions of stars in the universe.” This article and its title imply that life was created through interstellar activity, not that it was created over a two-day period. While it is true that supernova release carbon, that is not how humanity and animal life appeared. It is what the evolutionists use to explain how life could form on its own, and any application of supernova explosions to life on earth is completely out of line. (As to the question of how the stars benefit humanity, each star represents a Jewish soul, born and unborn, and of all humanity.)

E. Ashkenazi

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