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Sephardic Relief – A Helping Hand During a Time of Need

Sephardic Relief is a phenomenal organization, right here in our community.  This organization is dedicated to helping grieving families, to make the week of shivah go as smoothly as possible. Sephardic Relief is available for everyone. It’s not about money, but rather is about providing guidance and giving help to those coping with a loss.

Volunteers deliver essentials needed for  a house of mourning at no cost to the family. Sephardic Relief provides everything from household necessities to religious items required (such as siddurim, etc.). They also field questions about halachot having to do with mourning practices. The organization provides access to resources including important numbers that a bereaved family may need. Sephardic Relief is a real blessing to our community, and offers compassionate help to families at the most difficult time.

A Little History 

Sephardic Relief was inspired by an incident that occurred approximately eight years ago. A local community woman who I will call “Sarah” (she wishes to remain anonymous) was paying a shiva call with some friends. The man who had passed away was the father of a mutual friend of the girls paying the shiva call. The girls all wanted to help their friend in her time of need. They not only wanted to be there for her and comfort her. They also wanted to help get everything in order at the friend’s home. When they got to the house, they realized that there was a myriad of things to be done. One of the girls volunteered to buy groceries. Another volunteered to buy paper goods, and so on. However, not everything that needed doing was accomplished, as there was not a formal game plan that included all of the many tasks required. 

It was at that shiva house that Sarah realized that in order to help a family sitting shiva in an efficient and timely manner, those wanting to help would need direction and an understanding of which tasks were immediately critical, and which could wait.  Sarah saw firsthand that having people running off in different directions without coordination was not an efficient way to handle things. Sarah recognized that help had to set in motion immediately, so that bereaved families would feel some relief, so that the weight of the world (so many tasks to be accomplished, all while dealing with great loss) could be lifted from their shoulders. Help with the many tasks to be taken care of had to be done methodically, and systematically, to ensure everything ran smoothly, easily, and in a timely fashion. 

Sarah recognized that many issues must be tended to when a loved one passes away. She wanted to do something significant, to insure that a number of the immediate issues could get resolved in an efficient and helpful manner. Her idea was truly innovative. And bringing her idea to fruition was also a huge undertaking.

A Team Effort

Sarah had always dreamed of running an organization, and helping people in our community. Founding an organization to help families in need during the time of shiva helped Sarah to accomplish both goals. After an intensive period of thought and planning, Sarah launched Sephardic Relief. She herself is in charge of the daily operations. Sarah is the one who answers initial calls and voice message. It is Sarah who dispatches boxes (which contain basic home necessities that a family sitting shiva would need) and a captain to oversee each family’s needs.

Sarah also handles all aspects of incoming donations. And she keeps track of the inventory of items provided to grieving families. Sarah tirelessly manages all the daily tasks involved in running the organization, including a significant amount of paperwork. 

Sarah’s husband, who we will call “Avraham” also wishes to be anonymous. Avraham takes care of the technical side of things. He created the organization’s website, and set up systems to oversee the administrative end. Sarah’s brother- in-law, Isaac Katri, oversees the packaging and delivery of all the items sent to families. Isaac, a businessman, is able to get low prices through wholesalers. He arranged with a local warehouse to store the supplies until they are needed.  

As the word started getting out on Instagram, a young man named Ricky Tawil, volunteered to help. At the time, he was studying accounting. Since graduating, he took on all bookkeeping tasks for the organization. The organization is blessed to have Ricky, who responsibly fulfills his very important role for Sephardic Relief..

How to Get Help

Only a phone call or a completed online form is needed for a volunteer to go straight to the shiva home. The phone call or form (which only asks for simple, basic information, such as family member or friend’s name who fills out the form, address of the shiva home, and contact number) will set in motion help for the bereaved family. The contact person can include the number of people sitting shiva, as well as the requested date for delivery of all the needed items. It is a real hesed for the family to have all the basics delivered straight to the door, as opposed to having multiple people headed to shop at different stores to provide all that is needed – which often leads to some basic necessities being overlooked or overbought.

The boxes that bereaved families receive contain most basic home necessities that a family would need during shiva. (See below.) The boxes are lovingly packed and are stored in the organization’s warehouse, awaiting for the need to arise for their delivery to shiva houses. Family members, and those helping them, are almost instantly relieved of pressing, overwhelming responsibilities for physical items. Now, close family members that are not sitting, but who are also feeling the loss, do not have to be tasked with this responsibility. They are freed to focus on the family and not on mundane tasks. Family members have reported back to Sephardic Relief that, in addition to the heartbreak of losing a loved one, they felt that facing the multitude of tasks to be handled felt like being hit with a brick, and dealing with so many details was just too much to bear. Sephardic Relief volunteers stepping in quickly and handling so many details in a timely and compassionate way was truly a lifesaver for them.

It Starts with a Box

Sephardic Relief provides mourning families with a box containing the following items. For the berachot table – disposable plates and bowls, cups, cutlery, napkins, and bottled water. Supplies for a hot drinks corner include Styrofoam cups, sugar, coffee, tea, creamer, stirrers, serving trays, serving plates, serving pieces, and plastic tablecloths.. (Upon request, a hot water urn will be lent to the family, and will be picked up after the conclusion of shiva.) Home items provided include paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap, hand soap, sturdy garbage bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, Windex, sponges, tissues, vinyl gloves, aluminum tins, Ziploc bags, a seven-day mourning candle, Purell, tape, matches, permanent markers, Lysol, scissors, paper to cover mirrors, note pads, pens, writing paper, print cards, and kippot. Books included are Tehillim, Kol Yaakov siddurim, and copies of two books by Rabbi Michael Haber (Eternal Life and Sur Olamim: The Cemetery Visit Guide). 

Always dedicated to providing what will help the most, in the most dignified manner, Sephardic Relief has paid attention to how families feel about what they received, and what other incidentals they may have required. Over time, the organization carefully refined the list of items sent, determined the appropriate quantities, and improved the quality of goods provided.

Sephardic Relief Expands and Improves 

The organization grew through word of mouth. It now has over 900 Instagram followers and provides boxes to families in Brooklyn and New Jersey. It started slowly and grew significantly after COVID-19 hit. Three years ago, the founders unfortunately experienced a personal loss themselves. They used their own experience to fine tune how Sephardic Relief helps bereaved families, and they made significant improvements. Two years ago, the organization held its first fundraiser.

A new innovation has been the appointment of 12 Sephardic Relief captains. These women volunteers are stationed throughout Brooklyn. Bezrat Hashem New Jersey will also have a team of volunteer captains. In addition to the volunteers who deliver the boxes, the captain’s job is to go to a house of mourning to help set it up for the week of shiva. If help with set up  is not necessary, the captain will leave her number for the family to call if such a need arises. These captains each keep a hot water urn and siddurim in their cars, which facilitates easy drop off. After shiva, the captains retrieve the urns and siddurim for the next family in need. Captains may also assist in other ways, such as finding household help or homework help for the children during the shiva week,  or locating a larger urn, getting a specific siddur, etc. Their shlichut is to help bereaved families in any way needed during such a very difficult time. 

The captains’ job is not easy. It is difficult for everyone to walk into a house of mourning. But the captains do so quite often, with the motivation of helping to ease a mourning family’s pain as much as they can, by helping with the services they offer. The Brooklyn program continues to get a stronger, Baruch Hashem, and in the near future a New Jersey team will get underway. Several women in New Jersey have already signed up.

During Covid Sephardic Relief members met with the Sephardic Bikur Holim Crisis Team via Zoom to brainstorm about the best ways to compassionately assist members of the community. All of the captains participated and they shared ideas about the best way to speak to people they were helping, taking into account community, social, and family  norms.

Future Plans – Focus on Food

In the future Sephardic Relief hopes to provide grieving families with additional items having to do with food, such as a berachot platter, and a printed list of resources, including significant information about local stores, caterers, and restaurants Family members sitting shiva, of course, need to eat. Often community members provide meals for their neighbors, but these meals may not cover three full meals per day. Offering families help in this area takes another burden off their shoulders. In the works are lists not only of restaurants and their menus, but also suggestions for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, with calculated prices per person, simplifying the process of  ordering food needed so it can be accomplished quickly and easily.

In Conclusion 

I would like to publicize the wonderful work of Sephardic Relief, especially because I know that not all community members are familiar with the organization. Only after recently sitting shiva for my father, Mordecai Ackman, a”h, did I learn about Sephardic Relief.  I had not even known that it was Sephardic Relief that had provided many of the important items for my family. I was amazed at the array of items they provided for the shiva.

I encourage community members to help by donating their time and their tsedaka. Currently the organization needs a volunteer driver for deliveries in New Jersey. In just the last few weeks alone, they have sent 23 packages out to community homes.  

It is truly a mitzvah to help other Jews who are mourning. Sephardic Relief  brings nachat and comfort to our community’s families during the most difficult week of shiva. Supporting this organization surely helps to fulfill the mitzvah of v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha – loving your neighbor as yourself.

 Sephardic Relief Needs Our Help

Donations in any amount are most welcome, and appreciated. Sephardic Relief is dedicated to growing even larger, with community support. That way, they can help even more families. To  sponsor everything needed for a shiva home the cost is $501. Donations may be designated in memory or in honor of a loved one, or as a merit for a refuah sheleima for an ill family member or friend. A $251 donation funds half of the cost of providing necessities for a shiva home, and a $101 donation will fund one-quarter of those costs. Donors may also provide Tehillim books in memory of a loved one. Please visit the organization’s  website at https://sephardicrelief.org/.

Checks may be sent to: Sephardic Relief, POB 230532, Brooklyn, NY 11223. It is possible to donate via Venmo: @sephardicrelief, or via a Chase Quickpay: Suzy@Sephardicrelief.org. The Sephardic Relief telephone number is: 347 983 2483.  Sephardic Relief is a nonprofit organization, which provides proper receipts for tax purposes. 

NYC Ends Vaccine Mandate for City Workers

Last month, Mayor Eric Adams announced that New York City will no longer have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal employees.

The policy was among the strictest employee vaccination mandates anywhere in the country, and while that has ended, the lawsuits have not.

“The number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have remained relatively stable over the past months, without the dramatic peaks that we saw during the winter of 2021 into 2022,” said NYC Health Department Deputy Commissioner Dr. Celia Quinn.

Many city employee unions are celebrating the change. However, a number of public sector unions remain in ongoing litigation against New York City as they try to get their members’ jobs back.

The mandate – imposed on all municipal workers – prompted angry demonstrations and a blizzard of lawsuits. Nearly 1,800 workers, including sanitation workers, police officers, and firefighters refused the vaccine and were fired.

Last month’s vote means the city will do away with the requirement that workers show proof of vaccination. It also means that visitors to city schools do not have to show proof of at least one dose.

Health care workers still have to be vaccinated because of separate state and federal mandates.

However, state officials will allow masking requirements in health care facilities to lapse, lifting a requirement that had applied to staff, patients, and visitors in hospitals and health care settings, regardless of vaccination status.

HGTV Team of MDY Visits New Project Site


The HGTV teen team of Magen David Yeshivah High School Club, led by Mrs. Beth Goldberg, hit the ground running last month as they made their way to a highly regarded rehab facility, the Triboro Center in the Bronx, to visit their upcoming project site.  Mrs. Goldberg described the club’s current project. “This facility houses over 400 residents and the hardworking staff surely deserves a great deal of appreciation for ALL that they do each day.  Our team has decided to ‘gift’ the staff with a renovated coffee and break area in which they can enjoy a few minutes to relax, refuel, rewind, and recharge.”


“Our creative team met with the administrator of the facility as well as the Director of Maintenance to discuss some of our ideas as well as to be briefed on certain requirements.  While we were there, two professionals came into the area and we were able to hear from them some of their requests for the updated space. We are so proud of our students that are reaching out and helping those who give selflessly to a special group of individuals,” said Mrs. Goldberg.


Senator Felder, Assemblyman Eichenstein, and Councilman Yeger Welcome the Installation of All-Way Stop Sign at 46th Street and 11th Avenue 

Community Board 12, Senator Simcha Felder, Councilman Kalman Yeger, and Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein appreciate the NYC Department of Transportation’s installation of a long advocated for stop sign at 46th Street and 11th Avenue in Boro Park. For years, DOT’s response to their efforts was that “traffic conditions did not meet nationally recognized traffic engineering standards required for installation of a traffic control.” They sought clarification as to the “standards” DOT would consider sufficient to make the intersection safer. In June 2021, DOT advised that the standards were dependent on reported accidents.

In January, Senator Felder renewed efforts to bring a traffic calming device to that intersection and joined by Councilman Yeger, Assemblyman Eichenstein, and District Manager, Barry Spitzer, fired off a letter to the Commissioner of Transportation demanding an on-site visit so the commissioner can see the dangerous conditions for himself. The letter made such an impact that instead of scheduling a visit, DOT decided to finally install a stop sign.

“This is a lesson in never giving up,” said District Manager Barry Spitzer. “Our neighbors know we will never stop fighting for them, no matter how long it takes. We would like to thank Commissioner Rodriguez and the DOT for installing the sign and Senator Felder, Councilman Yeger, and Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein for constantly being in the trenches with us on behalf of our community.”

Nurturing a Feeling of Self-Worth

All parents want their children to enjoy a healthy feeling of self-worth. The understanding of “I have intrinsic value” is what leads to one being able to accomplish their goals in life.

The great news is that since nobody is born with any opinions about anything, our children are not born with low self-esteem. If a child is experiencing low self-esteem, it’s nothing more than mistaken thinking about their value.

In order to help our children to understand their value, we need to: 

  • Get clear on what we actually want them to think about their value. 
  • Connect with them in ways that let them see their real value. 
  • Have them make use their good qualities to affect the world around them in a meaningful way.

So, what DO we want our children to think about themselves? 

Do we want them to think they are more special than others? Absolutely not! If some people are more special than others, then they will always be mentally fighting with themselves trying to prove they are better, smarter, or more worthy. That creates a lot of mental chaos, as well as insecurity about their own worth. Instead we want them to believe the truth – that they have tremendous worth because EVERY human being has tremendous worth. 

What does that mean?

Value is not something that rises and drops based on our performance. When we perform well, we get to see how our qualities create impact in the world around us, but that’s not what MAKES us valuable.

Now onto point #2, how do we connect with our children in ways that let them see that their Gdliness makes them more precious than the most expensive object in the world?  

It’s all in how we treat them. If someone owns a $300,000 diamond, they take great care of it.

With children, we do things that show we think “wow” of human beings: 

  • We speak to them with extreme respect. 
  • We fully accept that all their feelings are normal. 
  • We make rules and hold our children accountable, as we fully believe in their ability to respect rules. 
  • When they struggle we offer support without judgement. 
  • We are not angered by their poor choices, and understand it’s part of their journey. 

Lastly, people get to feel their worth when they see themselves affecting the world around them in a positive way. 

When people are down and depressed, they feel useless, like the world doesn’t need them. But there’s actually no such thing! So, if you haven’t found any purpose in yourself or your child, it’s time to think harder! 

Everyone was created for a reason. There’s no such thing as a person who doesn’t have any gifts. But there is definitely such a thing as a person who is unaware of their gifts.

If your child isn’t tuned in, give your child small jobs to do and then let them know how it affected people. (See examples in sidebar.) 

So, if your child is suffering from low self-esteem, you can relax knowing it’s just their mistaken thinking, and you can help them think the truths that can help them to be their best selves! 

To receive a free podcast on self-esteem, please contact Tammy at:  admin@tammysassoon.com. 

 Ways To Build Up Self-Esteem  

Below are a few examples on ways to boost your child’s self-esteem. 

Can you please call Grandma and get that recipe? 

When your child’s done – “You really know how to make Grandma’s day!” 

I need someone organized like you to put the pantry in order. 

When your child’s done – “You have no idea how much easier it is to find things!” 

Would you be able to bake up a dessert? 

When you taste it, say, “Yum, thank you!” 


Israel’s War of Independence – Honoring Sephardic Vets 75 Years Later

– Avi Kumar.

As we approach the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel and the 1948 War of Independence, we honor those who bravely volunteered to fight to bring to reality the 2,000-year-old dream of returning to Zion with sovereignty. Seventy-five years since the victory, as the fighters are aging (some are over 100!), we asked a number of Sephardic fighters to share with Community Magazine their memories and stories of their contributions towards Israel’s successful fight for nationhood. 92-year-old Tsiona Dreimann stated simply, “We had to fight for our own survival.” 


At the outbreak of the 1948 war, many Jews in Israel were already in local militias such as the Haganah, the Irgun, or Lehi (listed in order from more mainstream to more radical in outlook) and they were already experienced at keeping the hostile British and Arab forces at bay. These militias were joined by foreign volunteers from across the globe who came to join in fighting to the protect the Jewish homeland.   


Ezra Yakhine – Lehi 


Ezra Yakhine’s father was from Aleppo, Syria and his mother came from Egypt. He decided to join Lehi at the age of 15, but had difficulty tracking down  this clandestine group. “Unlike Haganah, which had gone more ‘mainstream,’ Lehi members were harder to find,” he said. One day, Yakhine heard a rumor that a Brith Hashmonaim movement group of religious youth in the Bukaharan quarter in Jerusalem had Lehi members within its ranks. He investigated and was able to locate them. After seeing how the British police tracked down many of Yahkine’s comrades, he decided to go by the codename of Elnakam. Since Yakhine  worked in a post office, he was a huge asset to the underground.  


Lehi training had to be very discrete. Although the weapons were at their “safe house” the group did not shoot live rounds for practice. Rather, they improvised different ways to practice their shooting. “If we fired a gun during practice and the neighbors heard, we would be done for,” Yakhine said. “You never know, even a Jewish neighbor would call the police if it was too loud or they were in a rival militia.”  


He and his brother Yehoshua were Lehi members, while another brother, David, joined the Irgun. Yakhine did not know that David was in a member of the Irgun until they met by chance at a joint drill. On many occasions, Yakhine miraculously avoided capture, or worse, had the British found him carrying weapons. On a mission to disarm British police on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem, Yakhine was wounded in the thigh. On another operation to break into the Old City, he was seriously wounded in the head, causing blindness in his right eye. 


“Our goal was to strike fear into the hearts of the British. We blew up strategic posts, trains, and even planes if we could. We even managed to send a package bomb disguised as a present in London, in an effort to assassinate a police officer who had killed one of our members.”  


Tsiona Dreimann – Lehi 


Tsiona Dreimann (née Dramy) was born in Palestine in 1931 to parents of olim. Her father was a tzaddik from Tehran, her mother was Ashkenazi. She joined the right wing paramilitary group known as Lehi in 1945, when she was 14 years old. She said, “When they killed Itzik Stern, I decided to join the more right-wing Lehi. The British were oppressing the Jews terribly, and we simply had to do something. I felt that Lehi was the best option.”  


Dreimann was tasked to put up posters and to hand out fliers to gather new recruits into the militia. Doing so was very dangerous. “One time, while we were on our rounds the British police on patrol saw us. I almost got arrested, or worse,” she recalls. She later got work as a nurse, married a fellow Lehi member, and lives in Jerusalem today.  



Itzik Mizrachi – the Haganah 


Itzik Mizrachi, now aged 90, was in Gadna, a youth movement set up by the Haganah. He grew up in the Arab village Al-Eisawiye near  Mount Scopus, and his first language is Arabic. Although the war broke out in May of 1948, his family stayed on in the village until August because the road leading to the Jewish side was not safe to traverse. One day, an Arab mob came to their house. Mizrachi’s family shared a home with his father’s Arab business partner, Abu Mustafa. Mizrachi remembers clearly how Abu Mustafa refused to let the mob in. With outstretched arms he told the mob, “You have to get past me.” The mob then left. Mizrachi still has fond childhood memories of the time before the war, and he recalls that he and Abu Mustafa’s son were “like brothers.”   


Not long after that incident with the Arab mob, Mizrachi recalls the family’s escape. “Haganah members came to our home in an armored car and said, ‘It’s very dangerous for you to be here. You have only 20 minutes, pack up whatever you can, because we have to leave fast.’ And so, just like that we packed up and left.” Mizrachi,  his parents, and sister were escorted by armored car to the Israeli side.  


The family acquired a house in Bukharan quarter of Jerusalem. The home was by the Jordanian border, where snipers fired at Jews from their side of the border every day. The Mizrachi family filled up sacks with sand to cover the windows to protect them from bullets. One time Mizrachi recalls the sacks caught fire when a bullet hit. He narrowly missed being shot on many occasions.  


Mizrachi remembers learning KAPAP (Krav Panim el Panim – literally: face-to-face combat) the martial art developed in the late 1930s and used by the Haganah. Mizrachi recalled that much of the training included learning stick-fighting. He said that many instructors were young, just like their students. Although Mizrachi was not a full-fledged member of the Haganah, he worked transferring letters between posts by bicycle..  


Mizrachi later moved to a kibbutz where he lives to this day. When he joined the IDF he  learned the more modern martial art, Krav Maga, from Krav Maga’s founder, Imi Lechtenfeld. Mizrachi’s son Rhon  is a well-known Krav Maga   instructor. 

Moshe Abadie – the Haganah 

Moshe Abadie was also in the Haganah. His parents made Aliyah from Aleppo. Aided by a smuggler, Abadie’s parents walked all the way from Syria to British Mandatory Palestine via Lebanon in the early 1920s via Lebanon. Abadie was born in Jerusalem. 

When asked why he joined the Haganah, Abadie replied, “We had no choice but to fight.” The Haganah members knew about the Holocaust, and Abadie had personally met Holocaust survivors who recounted what had happened to them in Europe. Also, unlike Lehi, the more left-wing Haganah had gone more mainstream and was more able to work around the British colonial establishment. 

Abadie attributes Israel’s miraculous victory to the training and dedication of its own people. He felt that Israel had a stronger advantage in the later wars, such as in 1956 and 1967. After the 1948 war, Abadie helped found Moshav Tal Shahar (literally Mountain Dew), which was named after Robert Morgenthau (Former U.S. Secretary of Treasury) whose last name in German also means “mountain dew.” 


Many volunteers came from across the world to fight in the volunteer unit known as Machal (an acronym for Mitnadvei Chutz L’Aretz – Volunteers from Abroad). Most of the overseas volunteers had served in the Allied Forces during World War II, and they brought their much-needed expertise to the fledgling IDF. Some 4,000 volunteers, mostly Jews and also a few non-Jews, arrived to help the fight. Most were from the U.S., UK, and South Africa. Nina Pope came from Burma and is of Iraqi descent. At least seven foreign fighters from Syria joined, including Linda Assas, Raphael Zanul, and Baruch Kaposo. Other Sephardic Jews came to assist the Israeli cause from Turkey, Iran, Latin America, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and even Germany and the far-flung corners of the Diaspora. Some of the Machal volunteers were Holocaust survivors. 

South African “machalnik” Joe Woolf remembers a man in his unit, the English-speaking B company, named Ezra Macmull, who was nicknamed Gandhi. “He was of Iraqi descent and grew up in India. That’s why we called him ‘Gandhi.’”

Woolf recalls seeing a few Indian Jews in different units, including one in the radar unit. “But Gandhi stood out,” Woolf recalled. Macmull had a grandmother named Miriam, who lived in Jerusalem and spoke Arabic. Because of Miriam he could speak the language, which allowed him to communicate with Arab prisoners of war who were captured as they battled on the northern front.  

Forces Combine to Form the IDF 

On May 28th, 1948, less than two weeks after the creation of the State of Israel, the provisional government created the Israeli Defense Forces.  

Menachem Begin, former commander of the Irgun, followed the advice of Robert Briscoe, an Irish statesman and supporter of Israel. Briscoe used his own experiences of Ireland’s civil war to convince Begin to abandon the Irgun as a separate militia and to join the three militias together. As the different militias merged, they all brought in their expertise and training into a common goal as members of the IDF.  

Yakhine says, “We failed to retake Jerusalem but the next generation succeeded where we failed 19 years later in the Six Day War.” 

Dreimann added “At the end of the day, we now have a state to call our home.”

“What’s That Got To Do With the Price of Eggs?”

Do you think twice now before making a recipe that calls for three or more eggs? Silly to think that such a cheap, common kitchen staple has become such a hot topic lately, but folks it’s 2023, and here we are.  


Eggs. If you don’t buy groceries and live under a rock, allow me to enlighten you – eggs are no longer the affordable protein option. In fact, egg prices are soaring over 60 to 100 percent this year. So, what’s to blame? Some media outlets keep pushing the idea that a bird flu or avian flu is running rampant and is forcing farmers to kill chickens, causing the egg shortage and rise in prices. However, chicken farmers are claiming it’s something else entirely. According to many farmers posting on social media, their healthy chickens suddenly stopped producing daily eggs around the end of last summer. Chickens that were laying two to three eggs daily suddenly just stopped. This continued for months until the farmers switched from commercial feed to local chicken feed and the issue disappeared.  


Strange as it may seem, this happened to  many farms around the country. I’d also like to mention that many large food plants had strange disasters and burned down in the past year. This includes a commercial egg farm in central Connecticut that burned down recently due to causes unknown killing an estimated 100,000 chickens. The Animal Welfare Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based animal protection advocacy organization, speculated that heating and other electrical malfunctions cause a large majority of barn fires. So, what’s going on? I’ll leave you to speculate and draw your own conclusions.  


Meanwhile, let’s hear from some community members and get their take on the topic. 


Jill Dushey 


For about eight years we were buying fresh eggs from a small farm in Lakewood, NJ. We prefer buying from local small farms, as their eggs are fresher and more nutritious. We always toyed with the idea of having our own coop. Then, two summers ago, my friend was moving back to Brooklyn at the end of the summer. They had bought chicks just for fun and asked me to take and house them. “Now or never!” I thought and I took the chickens, jumping in without consulting my husband.  


Fortunately, he was up to the task! He built a chicken coop and we never looked back!  


Maintenance can be as difficult or as simple as you make it. The most pesky task I would say is cleaning out the coop to keep it sanitary, but that can be done once a day, once a month, or any amount of time in between – so it’s really up to you. We go out daily or every other day in the winter to collect eggs. The nice thing about owning chickens is if you’re going away, you don’t need a sitter. You can leave them with food and water while you’ll be gone and they’ll be fine. You need a coop, some chicks, work boots or rain boots, and an egg collecting basket. That’s really the bulk of it. There are many podcasts and resources to learn how to properly maintain a coop. Great for tips and overall education. 


We eat and use eggs from the coop, and whatever eggs we have extra, we sell to local community members. As far as what we feed the chickens – the bulk of it is scraps from veggies and leftovers from dinners that no one will touch. Basically, what some people would collect for compost, we collect for the chickens. The rest we supplement with organic chicken feed. I for sure feel like the cost of running a coop is nothing compared to what we’re saving from not buying grocery store eggs. And that’s aside from all the other benefits. 


Some of the other benefits are: The quality of the eggs you consume are so much better. It gives you appreciation of where your food comes from as well. It’s also good for the kids – easy chores for kids to be responsible, while connecting with nature, and enjoying chickens! They all have their own funny personalities. We really enjoy them! 


Patty Cohen 


Just last year, I remember buying a dozen eggs at Aldi in Deal for only 69 cents! Now at the same Aldi, they’re almost $5 a dozen, and that’s nothing compared to the Brooklyn stores!  


I’ve seen eggs go for around $7-10 a dozen! I’ve been buying the 24-pack at Costco for around $7. That’s the best deal I’ve seen. It’s really ridiculous. I’m not sure what it’s going to be like come holiday time.  


Before Pesach, I (and I’m sure everyone) stock up big time on eggs. We use them for the seder, for spanach, for quick and easy breakfast and lunch staples, and for all the family members who are home and living by us for 8 days – we go through at ton! It’s no longer the cheaper protein or ingredient. Unfortunately, it’s an expense in its own right. It doesn’t help that food plants and egg farms are exploding left and right, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence either.  


Whoever has space should for sure own their own chicken coop and grow whatever they can in their own gardens because it’s becoming clear we can’t depend on anything these days!  


Shirly Shweky 


I’m a home baker. I sell desserts to community members for Shabbat. This topic hits a sore spot for me and I’m sure all bakers. I use eggs in everything! I go through so many eggs when I work. I don’t want to raise my prices because I feel like it’s unfair to my customers, but the egg prices keep rising and it seems impractical to go on like this! Something really should be done! My small business depends on it! 


There is so much to be said about the topic! The main thing to remember is Hashem is in control and ultimately everything will be okay. I am, however, strongly considering a chicken coop now after my interview with Jill. I always liked the idea, but after asking my questions and liking the answers she was giving, I’m even more interested! But for now, I’ll just buy some of her fresh eggs. I am so curious what’s going to happen next. The shortages seem random. The pandemic is behind us and with the right leadership I think there’s no reason things shouldn’t be “business as usual” as pre-pandemic. I’d say pray for better leadership but let’s just pray for Mashiach! Okay, I’m signing off until next time!  


Have a comment about this article or an idea for my next roundtable article? Email me! Frieda@sephardic.org 


Frieda Schweky is an event and portrait photographer @friedaschwekyphoto. 

Carrying the Burden – A Pesach Tale


“Let’s pile everything on!” shouted Boris. “We’ve got a couple more boxes to get on this wagon before we can hit the road!”  

Boris and Feema, a pair of Russian Jews in business together, were preparing for an important three-day business voyage. They  spent all morning loading up their horse and buggy for the long trip ahead. 

After hours of vigorous preparation, the two finally set off. After just a few moments, Feema, the more dull-minded Russian peddler, leaned over to grab some of the luggage that lay by their feet, placing it securely on his lap. 

“Why are you putting the luggage on your lap?” asked Boris. “Is there something inside that you need?” 

“No…” Feema replied. “I just… I want to keep it safe.” Boris rolled his eyes, annoyed as usual by his imprudent counterpart. 

Their journey continued for nine straight hours. Boris and Feema  fervently hoped they would meet with success in the bustling town of Voronezh. They prayed that their fate would turn for the good. Later, during the otherwise uneventful journey, Boris again noticed Feema lean forward to take some more baggage from the wagon floor. 

“What is it, Feema?! Why do you insist on keeping luggage on your lap?! Just leave everything on the wagon floor. It will be just fine! For goodness sake, it’s heavy! Surely you must be uncomfortable holding all that weight in your lap!”  

Feema sighed, and admitted the reason for his actions. 

“Well, Boris… I can’t help thinking about our poor horse.” 

“What about the horse?!” Boris demanded. “Sasha is doing just fine. There is nothing my Sasha can’t handle!” 

“Yes Boris, but… There’s just so much luggage, and our trip so long. I can’t bear to watch old Sasha pull such a heavy burden. I decided to help her, and take some of the load off by putting it on my lap.” 

Boris’s face grew red and his anger flared. “You fool!” he yelled. “Whether the luggage is on your lap, or on the wagon floor, it is the horse that is bearing the heavy load!” 

Feema realized the foolishness of his actions, yet just hours later, he was moving luggage to his lap once more. Obviously, he was a man of short memory. 

It Is Hashem Who Carries Our Burdens 

This, dear reader, is the story of our lives. It is the way many of us act in our service to Hashem.  

It is no secret that each and every one of us has his share of headaches, and a unique array of problems that arise throughout our lives. We think, we worry, we cry, and most times take the problem into our own hands. We put the luggage into our own laps, completely forgetting that whether we leave it on the wagon floor, or try and carry it ourselves, Hashem is the one who bears the problem. 

And if, dear reader, this is the truth, then why do we insist on taking things into our own hands? Aren’t we aware, as Boris reminded his foolish counterpart, that the weight is being carried either way?! Why take our problems into our own hands?! 

The Lesson of Pesach  

This is precisely what the holiday of Pesach comes to teach us. Throughout the year we are constantly bombarded with different stresses and difficulties. Some big, some small, sometimes even unbearable pain and confusion. Comes the holy, beautiful seder night, when Gd reminds us, “Hello?! Why do you insist on taking on this problem by yourself?! Put the luggage down, My child, for this is My burden to bear.” 

Imo anochi betzarah” (Tehillim 91:15). Hashem is with us in all that we face. Our job is to know that although He created the difficulty, He is undoubtedly here with us, carrying our “luggage” whether we try and carry it ourselves or not. Pesach is our reminder to drop the luggage. As David Hamelech says, “Hashlech al Hashem yehavecha vehu yechalkeleka – Throw your burden on Hashem, and He will provide” (Tehillim 55:23). 

Just as Hashem took us out of Egypt, away from the most miserable suffering in our history, He will continue to help Am Yisrael generally, as well as each and every one of us in our personal lives. 

May the message of Pesach, the message of realizing that Hashem is carrying all our headaches and hardships for us, last us till next year, and may we not forget this vital message as Feema did, amen 

My Child’s Behavior Is off the Charts – Is It Possible To Parent Him?

Last month, we established that children who have ADHD or other behavioral difficulties present specific challenges in parenting. These children may seem manipulative, attention-seeking, stubborn, or defiant, but you know that they have a very caring and sensitive side to them as well. 

You can successfully parent these kids – without losing your mind or your relationship with them – by tweaking the general parenting advice that you’ve already learned to fit their characteristics. 

As we discussed in previous articles, one fundamental concept in parenting is setting very clear boundaries and sticking to them. This is especially important for kids who are natural black-and-white thinkers and thrive with (and even crave) consistency and structure. They may continuously attempt to negotiate – like all kids, but often more tenaciously – and that is why it is even more crucial to stand your ground, kindly but firmly. Wishy-washiness will be your ultimate undoing! 

To illustrate: an associate of mine once witnessed a clearly non-Jewish woman telling her young child that he couldn’t have the candy at the checkout “because it’s not kosher!” When she saw my associate watching bemusedly, she expressed that that line always worked when Jewish parents used it on their children, so she gave it a try. 

Our children know, from a young age, that we will not buy them non-kosher candy. Full stop. As a result, they won’t argue when we tell them they can’t have it because it’s not kosher. 

That’s how decisive and firm we must be in setting all boundaries. Effective parenting (yes, it needs to be both parents!) depends on the parents’ actions far more than the child’s personality or challenges. 

For the typical child with ADHD, that means working with their black-and-white tendencies by being extra clear and consistent. “Maybe” is not an option for these kids: yes is yes, no is no, and there should not be anything in between. When you make a decision, stick with it and be sure that you and your spouse are both going to be firm. No discussing, no debates, just a yes or no. Logical explanations and reasoning will not work on a child who gets stuck easily or has trouble processing. 

For example: 

You’re dreading your child’s upcoming vacation. She needs constant stimulation and every day off turns into a nightmare. It’s your responsibility to anticipate those difficulties and structure the day. Do not expect her to entertain herself like your other kids can. Plan out the day. It doesn’t have to be grand or exciting, but it must be structured. We’re eating lunch at 12 and going to the supermarket at 2. Let’s make ice cream sandwiches for our afternoon snack and have a Magna-Tiles-building competition in the morning.  

This particular daughter may be able to sit and build incredible castles for hours, but she needs you to facilitate it. Just be sure to stick with the structure and routine that you put in place, even if your nature is more laid-back. She needs to see that your word is your word. And if you are truly unable to provide the structure that she craves on her day off, expect there to be fighting, destructiveness, or other negative behaviors! Remember: this is “normal” for your child. Don’t expect her to be who she isn’t. Keeping your expectations realistic will prevent frustration. 

Those realistic expectations extend into your everyday parenting and discipline. Know what works for your child and work with that. For these kids, it’s fairly simple: motivating a behavior needs an incentive attached, and restricting a behavior needs consistent consequences that fit the behavior. Because effective incentives and consequences vary among cultures, homes, and children, it may be a good idea to consult with a professional to determine which incentives and consequences would be most effective. 

Children with ADHD thrive in environments with structure, stimulation, and rewards and consequences. You may need to work with your child’s school to ensure that he is placed in the appropriate class, with a structured and firm teacher who is willing to work with his needs. 

Contrary to popular belief, ADHD is one of the most underdiagnosed conditions in children, despite the fact that it’s often easily treatable with evidence-based methods. While proper parenting is critical, for most people with ADHD, medication is life changing. A child who spends all day unable to perform, behave appropriately, or get along with others will inevitably experience low self-esteem and negative behaviors, like addiction and other emotion-numbing tactics, remaining mired in a mindset of “I’m going to fail.” The right medication can completely alter his or her life – now and in the future.

Dr. Yossi Shafer, PhD is the Clinical Director and a clinical psychologist at Empower Health Center, a private practice of multispecialty psychotherapists. They have offices in Deal/Long Branch and Lakewood and can be reached at (732) 666-9898 or office@empowerhealthcenter.net. 

Entrepreneur Spotlight

Deborah Haddad Shichat accomplished three impressive goals as an entrepreneur. She created a unique beauty service, she caters to a global clientele, and she achieves 100 percent client satisfaction.  

Although she is originally from New Jersey, her family made aliyah.  Deborah completed her education, married, and is raising her two girls with her husband in Israel. Anyone who lives there knows it is not always easy building a successful business in Israel.  

Her achievements warranted a closer look. 

When I asked Deborah how she came up with the idea to launch her skin care consultancy business, she explained that it started organically. “One day I looked in the mirror and didn’t like the way my skin appeared,” she says.  After the great attention and money spent caring for her face it didn’t make sense. At the time she thought, “Either skin care products are a scam or I’ve been doing something wrong.” 

That thought propelled her into extensive research and reading, as well as following respected chemists, dermatologists, and skin care product formulators. Then, using what she learned, she began putting together a different regimen for her own face, which resulted in great looking skin. At that point, Deborah began to put together regimens for family and friends and they were amazed by the improvements. Buoyed by the consistent results achieved, Deborah began putting together skincare programs for anyone who asked. She was not charging people for her services. 

 Deborah doesn’t rush into anything. She is analytical and methodical. Therefore, she proceeded to enroll in a two-year program at one of Israel’s finest academies to become a licensed paramedical esthetician. Then, after 628 hours of rigorous training, she received her license. GLO with Deb was born out of her desire to show all women everywhere how to use everyday products to maintain their skin so it looks great.  She began charging clients for her expertise. 

 In her first year, Deborah acquired over fifty clients. Most were women who noticed their skin wasn’t looking quite as good as it did previously. Women might not want surgical interventions, especially when they are younger, but they do want to take care of their skin in the best way possible. Another but smaller category are women who have skin conditions that require them to seek out unique beauty regimens. Men can also care about their skin and male clients seek skin care regimens as well. 

Deborah’s business is virtual. She sells no products and does not earn a cent from any company or product line. She continually researches all the off-the-shelf formulations available in the client’s country, respects the client’s budget, and puts together a winning regimen every time. 

Her clients are primarily located in Europe, the United States, and Israel, but she has clientele from other countries as well. 

Deborah’s clients see improvements. They tend to return after one year. Sometimes there are changes to their environment, weather, diet, or the products themselves. Any of these changes might affect the skin’s appearance. Sometimes a woman just wants to freshen up her regimen. The important thing is that the clients return because they got terrific results the first time and want to keep their skin looking great. 

Deborah says, “In business, a professional appearance is essential. The first thing people see is your face. If your skin looks great, you feel more confident, you make a better impression, you are more successful.” It was this thinking that moved her to expand her offerings. Deborah caters to individuals but has recently introduced several corporate programs as well. 

When I asked what surprised her most, Deborah said it was that women enthusiastically accepted a virtual skin care service. 

Deborah’s biggest challenge was product availability. Some Asian products are not permitted in some countries. Sometimes there are shipping limits on certain brands and products. Deborah met these issues by identifying equally good products that are available in the client’s country. She recalls, “I remember having a client in Europe who needed to be able to find all her recommended products locally. I did the research and identified the items she needed that she could buy off-the-shelf in her local municipality.” 

That’s why Deborah and her consultancy business are unique. There are so many products and companies out there vying to earn your dollars. Deborah studies her client’s skin and researches the products, so she understands which products are the best fit for each individual. By virtue of her training, experience, and client input, Deborah distills the information to deliver results, every time.  

You can visit @GLOwithdeb or GLOwithdeb.com


If you want to discuss your business, please contact PROPEL 

Call: 646-494-0822 / Email: info@thepropelnetwork.org or 

DM on Instagram: @PropelNetwork 

It’s All From Hashem

A person has to believe that Hashem is watching over him and actively involved in everything that happens in his life. The pasuk (Iyov 34:21) states, “For His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He sees all his steps.” Hashem not only sees what happens, but is directly involved. Another verse (ibid 31:4) teaches, “He counts all my steps.”  Everything that occurs is precisely calculated. We do not take a single extra step beyond that which we are supposed to take.

Remarkably, Hashem masks His involvement behind the veil of nature, making it appear as though events occur randomly and haphazardly. He does this in order to allow us the free will to decide whether we will look for His involvement in our lives, or just attribute everything to happenstance. Those who see through the mask of nature are privileged to see Hashem’s active involvement in their lives on a daily basis.

A woman sent me an email regarding the birth of her oldest daughter twenty years ago. She called the doctor to inform him that she was in labor, and the doctor offered to pick her and her husband up and bring them to the hospital – something that he had never offered to do for any other patient. The doctor intended to stop at a gas station on the way, but due to some unexplained impulse he went directly to their house. As the woman exited the front door, she felt ready to deliver the baby. Baruch Hashem, the doctor was right there and delivered the baby, and everything went smoothly.

The doctor repeatedly said, “Look at the hashgachah, look at the hashgachah!” He noted that he was not even planning on being home that evening, but his plans changed unexpectedly. Once he delivered the baby, it was perfectly clear why his plans changed.

It is so comforting to know that Hashem is constantly looking out for our well-being, and that nothing can happen to us unless Hashem wanted it to happen.

One Thursday, at around 11:40am, I was in shul preparing for a class I would be delivering, when I realized that I had forgotten to bring a sefer I needed. I rarely call my wife at that hour, but that day I called her cell phone to ask if she would be able to read the passage I needed from the sefer. She was running an errand and had planned to then go to the park with the children, but since she was not too far from home, she would first stop at the house to get me the information. Ten minutes later, she called from home.  As she began speaking, I heard a lot of pent-up tension in her voice, and asked what was going on. She explained that she had gone home after completing the errand.  When she walked in, she saw a burglar in the dining room. He was wearing black gloves and a hat, and held a bag with our menorah in it. As soon as my wife saw him, he became frightened and ran out the side door. Nothing was taken, and baruch Hashem no one was hurt.

At first there did not seem to be any important reason for why I forgotten my book at home that day. But in truth, Hashem was protecting us. There are no accidents, and there are no coincidences. Everything in life is only from Hashem.

SBH Gives Community Members the “Courage to Heal”

Sephardic Bikur Holim (SBH) and its team of staff and volunteers have always risen to the call of duty, meeting the numerous and evolving needs of the community as it continues to grow.  

One of the vitally important causes that SBH has, unfortunately, been called upon to address in recent years is the silent crisis of abuse – unwanted physical contact – an ill that affects both children and adults. The scourge of abuse has led SBH to expand  Courage to Heal (CTH), a comprehensive program focused on therapeutic intervention to support survivors, and on abuse prevention through education. 

Survivors who reach out to SBH receive not only professional support, but also a comprehensive plan of care, utilizing the large number of programs and services offered by the organization, a holistic approach to ensure a successful recovery.  

“We at SBH have done extensive research to build a team of best-in-class professionals with which to offer a full, 360-degree solution to deal with prevention, education, training, and awareness, as well as offering therapeutic support from highly-trained clinicians along with highly-trained community volunteers,” said SBH President David J. Beyda, who has made the expansion of CTH one of the organization’s top priorities. 

Survivors of abuse can receive the help they need from SBH’s CTH and the Counseling Center, which is staffed by a cohort of trained trauma-informed clinicians under the supervision of Certified Clinical Trauma Professional Dr. Gavriel Fagin, an expert in the treatment of this type of abuse. By seeking support from SBH CTH, survivors will receive a comprehensive plan that utilizes the many programs and services offered by SBH and other community organizations. 

“I feel privileged and honored to be part of a team that is helping to train and prepare the next generation of therapists to address abuse in our community,” says Dr. Fagin, who serves as Clinical Consultant for Courage to Heal. 

Education & Awareness 

Additionally, CTH is committed to working toward eliminating abuse by offering extensive educational training to the community and its institutions. Through SBH’s partnership with Magen Yeladim, a program created by internationally-recognized trauma professional Debbie Fox, LCSW, CTH will educate teachers, school and camp administrators, parents, students, and rabbis on ways to prevent abuse and to empower survivors to ask for help.  

“Developing comprehensive prevention services, trauma-focused intervention for children, teens and adults, and community awareness programs for camps, schools, shuls, and rabbinic leadership, are all facets of a comprehensive program that many have dreamed of for years,” said Dr. Fagin. “And now, SBH is actualizing this dream.”     

SBH is working with the support of SIMHA and SAFE to offer education, guidance and resources to our community.  

“It was truly encouraging to see how SBH took the lead on this sensitive subject, enlisting the best people in this field, looking for the best practices and building on the experience of other communities that have been successful in this area,” said Rabbi David Sutton, Director and Co-Founder of SIMHA.  

Rabbi Sutton noted the robust support that this initiative has received from our community’s rabbinical leaders, many of whom have endorsed the program, demonstrating their understanding of the sensitivity and urgency of this silent crisis.  

“Their ability to galvanize many community rabbis around this cause was very heartening, and I am sure that with this communal force, we will be able to alleviate some of the pain and prevent it from happening in the future,” said Rabbi Sutton. 

Uniting the Stakeholders 

Dr. Shloimie Zimmerman, clinical psychologist and Director of the Rabbinic Clinical Training Program for SIMHA, is consulting for the SBH CTH team to help implement the best preventative and clinical training for the community.  

“Research and experience clearly demonstrate that the most efficient way to enhance a community’s safety and prevent abuse is to unite all the stakeholders in their mission to address these critical issues,” said Dr. Zimmerman. “It is incredibly heartening and inspiring to see the Syrian community mobilizing and uniting in this effort; rabbinic, organizational, professional and lay leadership are working in tandem, with SBH at the helm, to bring the best prevention and intervention professionals and methods to aid the community.” 

The leaders spearheading this initiative hope that these impressive collaborative efforts as a unified front will encourage survivors to reach out for help, echoed SAFE founder and CEO Ike Dweck.  

“SAFE is proud to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative, working together to provide our community with much-needed support for survivors and preventative programs to protect our children,” he said. “Together we can destigmatize the painful subject of abuse and help affected community members to rebuild their lives.” 

With the support of SBH’s team of professionals, including Shlomo Lieberman, LCSW, director of the Mental Health Division; Dr. Susan Schmool, director of the Mental Health Resource; Dr. Ayla Sitt, CTH chair; and Cara M. R. London, LMSW, trauma therapist and CTH coordinator, the organization is fully equipped to serve as a trusted resource to protect our community. As Mr. Beyda concludes, “Courage to Heal is not the type of program we ever want to believe is necessary, but in the event that it is, SBH is ready to help.” 

To get help for yourself or someone you know, or to schedule a training program for your community institution, contact Courage to Heal at 718-787-0009 or cth@sbhonline.org. All calls and emails are kept strictly confidential.