86.6 F
New York
Monday, June 24, 2024
Home Blog

The Humble Giant: Remembering Rabbi Michael Haber, zt”l

This month, our community suffered a great loss.  The passing of Rabbi Michael Haber, zt”l,  was compared by one of his eulogizers – Rabbi David Ozeri – to the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash.  Rabbi Ozeri urged us all to weep and grieve over the loss of this “humble giant,” as his passing is a loss of protection for the community.  

Rabbi Michael Haber, Menachem ben Hannah, was not only a revered and beloved community leader, but also an accomplished author, who wrote several very important books.  As a writer, Rabbi Haber understood how much time and effort goes into the publication of a quality text.  His son, Rabbi Joey Haber, mentioned at the funeral that his father worked on his books tirelessly, devoting many years to each publication, editing and revising the text to ensure that the final tome would be not only accurate, but also relevant and appealing to the members of our community.  

We at Community Magazine have chosen to follow his example of patience and scrupulousness in writing.  Rather than rush to compile the complete story of Rabbi Haber’s remarkable life, and assessment of his extraordinary accomplishments, legacy and impact, in time for this issue’s publication, we have decided to instead acknowledge our loss with an abridged tribute, briefly summarizing some of the stirring, emotional eulogies delivered at his funeral.  A more comprehensive tribute will appear in the July issue. 

In his monumental work, The Kosher Home, Rabbi Haber compiled an encyclopedic manual for the observant Jewish home.  In his preface, the rabbi writes:   

In a book of halacha, such as this one, it is necessary to reach conclusions.  That – we have done.  However, we often mention, as well opinions that differ from our conclusions…We must all have  respect for the halachic opinions of others – even if we do not follow those opinions…and not to look askance at anything that is not exactly what we do.   

These comments epitomize Rabbi Haber’s approach to everything in his life – a rare combination of firm conviction about his principles, and deep respect for other people, even if their opinions differ from his. 

We mourn the loss of our esteemed leader, and send comfort to his family with the hope that our coming tribute will do justice to his important and timeless legacy. 

Below are edited transcripts of selected portions of three of the hespedim (eulogies) delivered at Rabbi Haber’s funeral. 


Rabbi Shlomo Diamond 

Although it is Rosh Hodesh, when eulogies are normally forbidden, for a talmid hacham, in his presence, eulogizing is an obligation.  And this is not an ordinary talmid hacham – this is a person who represented our community more than anybody else… 

Rabbi Haber died in the week of Parashat Kedoshim.  Our rabbis tell us that nothing happens coincidentally; everything is by design.  The command of “Kedoshim tiheyu” (“You shall be sacred”) has special meaning; it was no accident; this is by divine decree.  The Ramban famously explains “Kedoshim tiheyu” to mean not that we should abstain from sin – which is already covered – but rather that we should abstain from things which are permissible, but which our sechel, our intelligence, tells us that they aren’t right.  Rabbi Haber lived with this intelligence.  He lived not only by the letter of the law, but by the spirit of the law.  He had a keen mind, a perceptive mind, a deep mind, and he understood “Kedoshim tiheyu”… 

The things he did for the community over the years are amazing – but nobody knew about it.  He did it all without fanfare, without waving any flags.  Everything was done quietly. 

There is also another meaning of “Kedoshim tiheyu,” as explained by the Meshech Hochmah and by Rav Shimon Shkop in the beginning of his Sha’areh Yosher.  When somebody makes something holy, such as by declaring an animal sacred, it means that he designates it to be used specifically for a holy purpose.  “Kedoshim tiheyu” means that the Jewish People have to be special, designated for our purpose.  As Rav Chaim of Volozhin says, a person is created not for himself, but rather to bring benefit to others, to serve the community.  This was Rabbi Michael Haber – only thinking about others.  Everything he did was to help the community in a practical way.   

He was a very, very special person, humble, quiet, unassuming, always with a smile on his face.  Even when he was sick and his family brought him to the synagogue, and when I saw him a few times at weddings – he was smiling.  He was going through great difficulties, but you would never know it. 

I think his greatest accomplishment was the accomplishment for which Hashem loved Avraham – “Ki yedativ lema’an asher yetzaveh et banav ve’et beto aharav, veshameru derech Hashem.”  Avraham did many great things, but what endeared him most to Hashem was that he trained his children to follow Hashem’s ways.  We have a family that is the pride of our community.  Every one of them.  Talmideh hachamim.  Rabbis, leaders, teachers, authors, poskim, speakers… Look at what they’re doing.  Look at their influence upon the community.  It’s all because of Rabbi Michael and Molly… 

The Midrash seems to explain “Kedoshim tiheyu” differently – not as a commandment, but rather as telling us that you will always be holy.  This is something that all Jews have.  Whether they’re religious or not religious, in their heart of hearts they are kedoshim.  Rabbi Michael had this incredible belief in every Jew in our community – that they are special, that they have kedushah, and that this kedushah can be awakened.  If we just present the Torah to them in the proper way, then they will embrace it.  And he imbued his children with this philosophy, which is why they are so successful in our community.   


Rabbi David Ozeri 

I have known Rabbi Michael Haber for almost my whole life.  Let’s go back to the beginning, to around 1972. 

Rabbi Michael Haber – who wasn’t yet a rabbi – boarded a plane with his wife to go to Israel.  The destination: Yeshivat Porat Yosef.  He went not to swim in the Dead Sea, but to swim in the ocean of Torah.  Do you know what it was like for a young couple to move to Israel in 1972?  When you got to your apartment, you ordered a telephone, and it took about a year-and-a-half to get it.  If you wanted to mail a letter home, you needed to go to the post office and wait on a long line.  There was no such thing as diapers.  This was their mesirut nefesh, their self-sacrifice, to learn Torah.  He learned in the Kollel in Porat Yosef, in the Old City of Yerushalayim, and he started to build a family.   

And what a family they built!  Can anybody, any rabbi, in our community boast of such a family?  Every single son and son-in-law is a talmid hacham.  They are all serving our community – and in such tremendous capacity, each in his own unique way, through his Torah, his dedication, and his devotion to the community.  How did this happen?  How do you do this?  When you have children growing up and seeing their father learning, writing, and leading, living a life that is nothing but Torah, and seeing their mother sacrificing so much for her husband’s learning – it’s going to happen.  And it happened in an extremely big way. 

Four years ago, I was speaking during se’udah shelishit in the Deal Synagogue.  There were about 800 people in the room.  In the middle of my speech, somebody came over to me and whispered something in my ear.  I walked out of the room, in the middle of the speech.  Why?  Who walks out in the middle of giving a speech?  Rabbi Haber was not well, and we needed to save his life.  We got on our phones, even though the sun had not yet set and it was still Shabbat, and began making some calls. 

A few days later, a young man came over to me and said, “Rabbi, I saw you walk out in the middle of your speech, and I saw you on your phone on Shabbat.  I never really appreciated how great Rabbi Michael Haber is.  I want to do something for him.”  

This fellow was not especially learned, but he said to me, “I think I want to learn all of mishnayot as a merit for his recovery.” 

I asked him if he ever learned mishnayot before, and he said no.  I asked him when he was going to learn, as he worked all day, and he said that he would learn two, three, or four mishnayot a day. 

I forgot about this conversation, until several months later, when this man called me to tell me that he completed the first of the six sedarim of the Mishnah.  A while later he called me to tell me he finished the second seder.  Then three.  Last summer, he made a siyum on all six sidreh Mishnah, as a merit for the health of Rabbi Michael Haber.  This is a simple man, but he realized who Rabbi Haber is… 

Do we realize what we lost?  A talmid hacham who passes away is irreplaceable.  How much more so Rabbi Michael Haber.  This is an irreplaceable loss.  We have to cry “al hai shufra debal’eh be’ar’a” – for this beauty that is now being interred in the ground.  We have to cry for the loss of this beauty. 

You want to know how beautiful he was?  I was having a hachnasat sefer Torah, and I wanted him to come and fill in a letter.  His sons told me that he was not strong enough, so I brought the sefer Torah to his home, together with the sofer, the pen, and the ink.  When I walked into the house, he was sick, but he was sitting at the table with his books open.  We opened the sefer Torah, he looked at it, and he started to cry. 

“Why are you crying?” I asked. 

He said, “It’s so beautiful!” 

How many of us are ready to cry over a sefer Torah? 

Ladies and gentleman, Rabbi Haber was a walking sefer Torah.  A beautiful sefer Torah.  This beauty is going to be buried in the ground… 

I have a personal thank you to make in front of everybody.  I had an aunt, my mother’s sister, whose husband passed away, and they had no children.  She was an older woman, left alone.  Somebody introduced her to Mr. Joe Haber, Rabbi Michael Haber’s father, and they got married.  All of a sudden, she had a family.  Rabbi Michael and Molly Haber took her in like a mother.  Rabbi Haber even named a child after her.  My aunt said to me, “Can you believe I’m walking down the aisle at a grandchild’s wedding?”  And even after Mr. Joe Haber passed away, Rabbi Michael and Molly continued taking care of her.  These are not humans.  These are angels! 

Our sages teach that the passing of a tzadik is as big a tragedy as the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash.  This is the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash!  We are now looking at the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash 

We should not worry about Rabbi Michael Haber now.  We should be privileged after 120 years to get a peek at the place where he is now.  But what about us?  What should we be doing? 

Let us not underestimate ourselves.  We can do things for his neshamah, and for ourselves.  And we should.  Every person should take something upon himself.  We lost this protection.  He was a magen, a source of protection for our community.  All his suffering was a kaparah (source of atonement) for our sins.  Let us now do something, and mourn this terrible loss which Hashem has brought upon us. 


Rabbi Joey Haber 

Most things in life, we get to choose – we choose a spouse, a job, a house, friends, and neighbors.  But one thing we absolutely cannot choose is who our father is. 

I am 1,000 percent sure that each of my brothers and sisters agrees with me when I say that the primary emotion which we feel today is pride, and gratitude to Hashem.  I don’t know what we did to deserve to be born into this home, to these parents, to be able to look up to this father every single day of our lives… 

He was a role model, someone we were in awe of, a leader.  A lot of people say that my father was a humble man.  And it’s very true.  But sometimes people imply by “humility” that he was soft, delicate, and sweet.  To anyone who had that thought I say – you have no idea what kind of strength this man possessed.  He lost his mother at seven years of age.  She had a sudden aneurism.  (By the way, she kept a diary about her son, and the last thing she wrote was: “Michael loves religion, and loves to write.”)  He came to school a few days later, and his friends were scared, not knowing what to say.  He told them, “I’m just the same as you.  Treat me exactly the way you treated me before.” 

…Two years after he got married, he decided he was ready to make the sacrifice and move to Israel to learn Torah.  I was not yet born; I was on the way.  My parents got on a plane and flew to Israel.  They were there for three years.  My mother spoke to her mother around four times in those three years.  They didn’t have a dollar, but they couldn’t care a lick, because they were learning Torah, and nothing else mattered.  My father’s humility was simply, “I am not interested in all that stuff.  The things that matter, that are powerful – this is what I do.”  He spent every day learning – morning, afternoon, and night.  Back when he was in Deal, he would be in shul at 11 or 12 at night, learning.  When he was in Brooklyn, he would be in shul at 11 or 12 at night, learning… It was nonstop.  He didn’t come to the pool on Sundays in the summer; he was learning.  He wasn’t hanging out at home at night; he was learning.  He wasn’t off on Sundays; he was learning… 

Each one of his books took him ten years.  He would focus day in, and day out, perfecting every line, every source, every single page.  Even when he was sick, we would go with him to the hospital or to doctors’ appointments, and when he got home, instead of going to bed, he would go into his office, sit in front of his computer, open his books, and write and edit.  He did all this for you.  You’re the ones he did this for… 

As a role model, I think there were two things which I hope each of the siblings have done our best to incorporate into our lives.  First, is not to stop learning.  And second – that there is not a single member of this community that ever deserves to be judged or disrespected.  Nobody.  Ever.  It doesn’t matter religious or not religious; wealthy or not wealthy; good family or not-so-good family; well-known or not so well-known; kids or no kids.  He taught that every single person is deserving of respect, and every single person received his respect.  Every single “underdog” in this community was in my father’s office at some point for some reason.  People who were very successful were in his office, and people who were not successful were in his office.  To everyone, he would listen, he would care, he would advise, he would inspire, he would relate. 

There is nothing in the world better than being able to walk down the street and say, “I am Rabbi Michael Haber’s son.”  There is nothing in the world more glorious than that. 

Growing up in my parents’ house, the shul was two-and-a-half miles away.  They then decided to move, and we lived two miles away.  And I want to tell you – we loved those walks to and from shul.  We cherished them.  My brothers and I, and sometimes my sisters, always walked with him.  We almost never walked separately.  People felt bad for us, walking so long in the heat or in the cold, but we never felt bad.  I did it for 18 years, and when I moved to Brooklyn I wanted to buy a house far from the shul so I could walk with my sons the way my father walked with us.  We got a PhD on Torah, on how to relate to people, on how to respect people, and on how to understand the community.  Even when it was cold and snowing, we loved it. 

There are nine of us, and every single night that we were living in our parents’ house, my father would go into every single room and give every single one of the children a kiss.   

For seven years, I learned in yeshiva in Staten Island.  My father, for a period, was both a rabbi and a consultant, and he would go to Brooklyn.  Every Friday, he would go out of his way to come visit me in the yeshiva.  Every single Friday, for seven years, he would come and deliver a bag of challah from my mother and some other things.  We would sit in the car and talk.  This is a man who was busy his whole life with Torah and the community, yet somehow, he was able to make his community his “everything,”  and also make his family his “everything” at the same time…  

We all want great memories with our parents.  Memories are created in the good times, while legacies are created in the difficult times.  When people thought that my father should worry, that he should have every emotion in the world, the emotion he had was the one that most people didn’t know he had – strength, power, just as when he was seven years old. 

I was in my upper 20s when I was asked to speak in Shaare Zion for the first time in my life.  I was nervous.  I didn’t feel comfortable speaking in the Dome.  I was worried that people thought that I was this or I was that.  I remember having a conversation with Rabbi Diamond, and I asked him why they were trusting me to speak. 

“Joey,” he said, “they’re trusting you not because they think you’re this, that, or anything.  They just think you’re Rabbi Michael Haber’s son.  That’s why they trust you.” 

My father was a legendary speaker, because of his softness, his relatability, and the inspiration he gave.  When he spoke at my wedding, he gave an analogy, telling an imaginary story of a man who walked through the desert with a large package on his back.  When he reached the other side, people saw him with his large package, and with a big smile on his face.  He looked very happy.  The people asked him why he was so happy walking through the desert carrying a burden on his back.  He should be exhausted, not happy. 

“You don’t know what’s in this package,” he replied. 

He opened it, and pulled out a violin. 

“Whenever the heat is unbearable and I’m feeling exhausted,” he explained, “I sit down in the middle of the desert, take out my violin, and play music.  The music lifts my spirits and makes me happy.” 

My father said that he strived to raise children in a home where the Torah was the “violin,” the thing that made life beautiful, sweet, wonderful, and enjoyable. 

This is the reason why every one of his children wanted to do everything they could to learn and spread Torah – because we grew up in a home where Torah wasn’t just a series of laws and instructions.  The laws were adhered to down to the finest detail, but the Torah was presented to us with the beauty of music.  And therefore it was so easy, and so wonderful, to be Torah Jews in my parents’ home… 

In one of my father’s other speeches, he spoke of how all people, at 120 years, will look back at their lives and ask themselves if they did things right, and they will see things that they could have done better.  For you, Dad, 120 came way too early, but when you look back, you have zero to question.  When you look back at every word you spoke, every prayer you recited, every Shabbat you observed, every book you wrote, every day you spent, every interaction you had – with famous people or with simple, ordinary people – you have no doubts and no regrets.  You never made a person feel small in your entire life.  You never made a person feel less important than another person in your entire life.  You never said a word that was even slightly derogatory, to anybody.  You never wasted a day of your life.  You never wasted an interaction with somebody.  You achieved every day of your life what for some people would be a lifetime’s accomplishment, through your meetings, your speeches, your writing, your learning, and your interactions with people… 

As I said at the outset, we don’t get to choose who are our father is, and we thank Hashem for whom he has chosen to be our father.  But here’s what we are able to choose – we get to choose how hard we are going to work in order to live up to who our father was.  Every single one of us must commit to do everything in our power to make sure that every ideal, every principle, every concept that my father built into the foundation of our home, our family, and our community will remain strong, and that we are worthy of the father that Hashem chose for us. 

Medical Halacha – Are Hair Transplants Permissible?

Rabbi Yehuda Finchas 

Sammy and Ikey both asked me the same question. “Rabbi, my hair is thinning and I was thinking about having a hair transplant.  Are there any halachic issues with doing so?” Even though they asked the same question, each received a different answer.  

Hair transplantation is a surgical procedure carried out under local anesthesia, during which hair is transferred from high-density areas of the scalp to low-density areas. In the July issue, we outlined three potential halachic issues with plastic surgery: whether it constitutes self-harm, whether it is permitted to endanger oneself, and whether plastic surgery is covered by the halachic mandate of healing (Hacham Ovadia, Yabia Omer, C.M., 8:12). The potential complications associated with hair transplantation, by contrast, are minimal. On the other hand, hair transplantation entails further halachic issues specific to the procedure. The first two pertain to the mitzva of wearing tefillin, while the third pertains to the prohibition of shaving the pe’ot harosh – the sideburns. 

In order to fulfil the mitzva of tefillin, there may not be a hatzitza – a barrier or obstruction – between the tefillin and one’s body (S.A., O.C., 27:4). However, Hacham David Yosef (Halacha Berurah, Vol. 2, 27:18) rules that newly implanted hair is not a hatzitza. He differentiates between a toupee, which can be removed, and implanted hair, which cannot be removed and moreover lives and grows in its new area.  Consequently, a toupee is considered a hatzitza while implanted hair is not.  

An additional concern related to tefillin is the possible requirement not to wear tefillin for a few days after the procedure to avoid damaging the transplanted hair and disturbing the healing process. May you knowingly put yourself into a situation in which you will be unable to wear tefillin for a few days? May one have a hair transplantation at the expense of missing a few days of tefillin? Obviously, if someone required life-saving brain surgery this would not be an issue. But are the benefits of hair transplantation sufficient cause to justify missing out on this mitzva? 

A further potential halachic issue arises when the transplant patient is required to shave his head prior to the procedure. It is prohibited to completely remove the hair of the pe’ot harosh (Shulchan Aruch, Y.D., 181:3). One may not shave the pe’ot and one must retain hair with a minimal length of a few millimetres. Of course, it is permitted to shave the head before performing critical brain surgery since this is piku’ach nefesh, although even then Hacham Bakshi Doron stipulates that it should be shaved with an electric shaver and not with a razor (Shu”t Binyan Av, 3:46). However, since hair transplantation is not piku’ach nefesh, there is a real issue with removing the pe’ot harosh. 

Given these halachic concerns, my answers to Sammy and Ikey had to consider the contextual factors and the specific requirements of the proposed procedures. On the one hand, Sammy is 45 years old, and happily married with six children. While he is unhappy about the effects of his thinning hair on his appearance, he realizes that forgoing a hair transplant is unlikely to affect his future. Therefore, coupled with the potential halachic issues, he decided not to have the transplant 

Ikey, on the other hand, is a single 19-year-old who is seriously concerned that his premature balding could impact his shidduch prospects, and moreover, his balding causes him acute social discomfort.  Hacham Ovadia (ibid.) rules that cosmetic surgery is permitted to promote “shalom bayit” or to boost one’s marriage prospects. He cites Ketubot 74b where the removal of blemishes is described as healing. He also refers to another source (Tosafot, Shabbat 50b, Bishvil)  that cites that it is permitted to remove a scab to alleviate pain, even psychological or emotional pain, such as experiencing embarrassment in the company of others; “There is no greater pain than this.” This was certainly the case with Ikey. 

Upon consultation with the doctors, Ikey was informed that he would not be required to completely shave off the peot harosh He scheduled the procedure for the morning of erev Pesah since he would not be wearing tefillin during the subsequent week of Pesah anyway! 

Rabbi Yehuda Finchas is a worldwide expert, lecturer, and author on Medical Halacha. He heads the Torat Habayit Medical Halacha Institute. His latest book is “Brain Death in Halacha and the Tower of Babel Syndrome.” To contact Rabbi Finchas, email rabbi@torathabayit.com.

MOON QUEST – An Inside Look at NASA’s Plan to Make It Possible for People to Live on the Moon!

Imagine a place where the ground sparkles like diamonds under a pitch-black sky, where Earth rises in the horizon, and where the stars are always shining. This place is not a fairy tale land; it’s our very own Moon. And NASA has a mission to make it possible for people to live there! 

Long ago, astronauts visited the Moon for a short time. They hopped around in their bulky suits, planted flags, and brought back rocks. But they always had to return home to Earth. Now, NASA wants to change that with their Artemis program. They want to build a real home on the Moon, where astronauts can stay for longer and explore much more. 

To make sure everything would work out, NASA first sent an uncrewed mission called Artemis I to the Moon. It was like sending a robotic scout to check the path and make sure it was safe. Then, they planned Artemis II, where astronauts would fly around the Moon, just to see how things would go when they finally decided to land. 

The most exciting part is Artemis III. This mission will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon. They will be the first to start setting up this new home, finding places to build, and looking for ice that can be turned into water. 

NASA’s dream is to have a place on the Moon called the Moon Village. It will have houses that can be blown up like balloons and cars that can drive on the Moon’s dusty roads. There will be machines that can turn the Moon’s dust into things we need to live, like water and air. 

But why go through all this trouble? Because the Moon is a stepping stone to even bigger adventures. By learning how to live on the Moon, we can prepare to visit other planets, like Mars. And who knows, maybe one day, some of you reading this might be the ones to take that giant leap! 

So, as you look up at the night sky and see the Moon shining down, remember that it might not be long before people are living there, thanks to the hard work and big dreams of NASA’s explorers. And just like that, what once seemed like a story from a book becomes a chapter in the grand story of our adventures among the stars.  

Artemis III: A New Moon Adventure 

The story of Artemis III begins with a powerful rocket called the Space Launch System, or SLS for short. This rocket is the most powerful one ever built by humans, and it’s capable of carrying the astronauts in a spacecraft named Orion all the way to the Moon. The astronauts’ journey starts at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the SLS rocket will lift off and carry them beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. 

As the astronauts travel through space, they’ll be riding in the Orion spacecraft. Orion is special because it’s designed to keep the astronauts safe and comfortable on their long journey. It’s also the only spacecraft that can bring them back to Earth at the high speeds needed when returning from the Moon. 

When they reach the Moon, two of the astronauts will board a special lander made by SpaceX called the Starship Human Landing System. This lander will take them down to the Moon’s surface, where they’ll explore the lunar South Pole. This region of the Moon is fascinating because it has never been visited by humans before. It’s full of craters and might even have ice hidden in its shadows. 

The astronauts will spend about a week on the Moon, collecting samples, performing science experiments, and observing the lunar environment. They’ll wear advanced spacesuits made by Axiom Space, which are like personal spacecraft that protect them from the extreme conditions on the Moon. 

After their time on the Moon, the astronauts will return to the Orion spacecraft and begin their journey back to Earth. They’ll bring back with them new knowledge and experiences that will help us understand our solar system better. 

Artemis III is set to be one of the most complex and exciting missions in the history of space exploration. It will build on the success of previous missions and add new capabilities that will help us prepare for even bigger adventures, like sending humans to Mars. 


The Moon Village: A Cosmic Neighborhood

In the vast expanse of space, where stars twinkle like distant dreams, a new chapter unfolds – the Moon Village. Imagine a place where astronauts live, work, and explore our celestial neighbor. Let’s peek into this lunar wonderland: 

Chapter 1: The Vision Takes Shape 

The Moon Village isn’t your ordinary village. It won’t have cozy cottages or bustling markets. Instead, it’s a collection of individual four-level units, like futuristic lunar bubbles. These units are designed to be inflatable, which means they can be compressed for transport via rocket and then inflated to their full size on the Moon! 

Chapter 2: Lunar Habitats 

Each unit is a mini habitat, a snug home for astronauts. Picture a hybrid design: a rigid titanium alloy perimeter frame for strength and a soft structural shell for flexibility. This shell has layers – a protective shield against micrometeorites and a cozy insulation layer made of open-foam polyurethane and double-aluminized Mylar. It’s like wearing a spacesuit, but for buildings! These habitats will dot the lunar landscape, like cosmic igloos. 

Chapter 3: Ice Secrets and Sunlight 

The Moon has secrets hidden in its shadows. Deep craters near the South Pole hold water ice – frozen treasure waiting to be unlocked. And why the South Pole? Because it gets plenty of daylight throughout the lunar year. Sunlight means energy! Plus, it’s a front-row seat to Earthrise – a view that tugs at the heartstrings of every space traveler. 

Chapter 4: Cosmic Community 

The Moon Village won’t be lonely. Astronauts from different countries will live side by side, sharing stories, laughter, and moon rock souvenirs. They’ll conduct experiments, study the stars, and learn how to survive in this alien world.


What Will Astronauts Eat on the Moon?

Astronauts on the Moon have a unique menu that’s quite different from what we eat here on Earth. Let’s explore what they’ll be munching on during their lunar adventures! 

Apollo Missions: The Early Days 

Back during the Apollo missions when astronauts first visited the Moon, their food options were limited. They had about 70 items to choose from, including entrees, condiments, and beverages. But here’s the twist: everything came freeze-dried and prepackaged! Imagine opening a bag of space food and adding water to rehydrate it. That’s how they got their meals. It’s like magic – just add water, and voilà! Dinner is served! 

Spoon-Bowl Packs: A Lunar Gastronomic Invention 

The Apollo missions not only marked a giant leap for humankind but also a leap for gastronomy. NASA invented something called the spoon-bowl pack for flights to the Moon. These were plastic bags filled with dehydrated food. Astronauts would reconstitute the food by adding hot water through a valve. So, picture astronauts sipping their soup or digging into their pasta from these futuristic space bags. It’s like having a meal in a pouch. 

Artemis Program: A New Culinary Frontier 

Fast forward to today’s Artemis program, where NASA is planning to send astronauts back to the Moon. Their food options are getting an upgrade. Scientists are even working on strategies to grow crops on the lunar surface! Imagine astronauts tending to tiny lunar gardens, nurturing plants in the Moon’s soil. A team of scientists at the University of Florida successfully grew small plants using lunar soil brought back during different Apollo missions. This breakthrough could mean fresh veggies for our lunar explorers in the future. 

Safety First: HACCP System 

But wait, there’s more! The safety of space food is crucial. Back in the Apollo days, NASA developed a system called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). It was all about preventing food poisoning during the journey to the Moon. And guess what? This system has become the global standard for food safety. So, when you enjoy your Thanksgiving turkey or cranberry sauce, know that HACCP is working behind the scenes to keep your meal safe and delicious. It’s like a cosmic food guardian. 

The Lunar Feast Continues 

As astronauts venture back to the Moon, their meals will evolve. Maybe one day, they’ll have lunar greenhouses filled with fresh veggies, lunar bakeries whipping up space bagels, and lunar coffee shops brewing cosmic lattes. Until then, let’s raise our forks (or space spoons) to the culinary pioneers who make sure our astronauts stay well-fed, even among the stars!

A Hero in Our Midst – A Tribute to Raymond “The Barber” Cohen

Mozelle Forman 

One of our community’s defining characteristics, for which we rightfully take pride, is hesed.  We donate generously to communal institutions and organizations – synagogues, yeshivot, and programs that help our fellow Jews in need – and we deeply care for one another, giving our time and resources whenever our assistance is needed.   

There are and have been many living examples of hesed in our community, but one of the most unique and colorful bastions of kindness was Raymond Cohen, a”h, fondly known to us as “Raymond the Barber.” He lived with a deep, profound commitment to his fellow Jew, and with extraordinary – even heroic – altruism.  

Emulating Moshe Rabbenu 

The Torah defines a hero as one who accepts responsibility for his people and looks out for them, even at great personal cost. Raymond’s dear friend Saul Ralph Tawil describes Raymond as someone who emulated Moshe Rabbenu. Moshe grew up in the safety and comfort of Pharaoh’s palace, but nevertheless “went out to his brothers” (“vayetze el ehav” – Shemot 2:11), making a point of seeing and concerning himself with the plight of his fellow Jews. Upon witnessing an Egyptian taskmaster violently beating a fellow Jew, Moshe promptly killed the taskmaster to rescue the helpless slave, exhibiting great compassion for his fellow Jew, despite putting himself at great risk. Raymond, in his humility, would have outright rejected this comparison, but he truly lived his life the way Moshe Rabbenu did – personally feeling the pain of every Jew, and committing himself to do everything he could to alleviate the pain.   

In England, where he was born and raised, Raymond was a member of a motorcycle group called the “Maccabees” that worked to protect Jews from neo-Nazis in the streets of Brighton, exposing himself to physical danger in the process. After emigrating to the U.S., he worked with the Jewish Defense League protecting vulnerable and elderly Jews from anti-Semitic attacks. 

“At night,” recalls his son, Marc, “he would go into neighborhoods that people wouldn’t go into even during the day to ‘remind’ those who harassed the elderly that there would be consequences.” 

Being a hero also means refusing to yield to even seemingly insurmountable obstacles. King David, while still a young man, stood before the massive giant, Golyat, with just his slingshot and his conviction that, in his words, “I come to you with the Name of the Lord of Hosts, the Gd of the armies of Israel” (Shmuel I17:45). Despite the grave danger and seemingly impossible odds, David stepped up to protect the nation in the name of Hashem. He did not cower or even hesitate; he saw a job that needed to be done, and dove right in. Much the same could be said about Raymond Cohen. There never was a “Golyat” that Raymond Cohen could not defeat. As his children attest, he never took “no” for an answer. No matter how difficult the challenge, he found a way to overcome it; no matter how tightly shut the door was; he found a way to open it. 

His son, David, jokingly remarked that Raymond’s refined British accent – which Rabbi David Ozeri said “could make a reading of the phone book sound interesting” – may have “opened the doors” that he somehow managed to open.  The truth, however, is that “his charm and passion for doing the right thing for others carried him through to his goal.”   

Sacrificing a Career for the Purity of the Family 

At the age of 21, after having been trained as a hairstylist since the age of 12, Raymond left London and headed to New York to find his American dream. After a “chance encounter” with his fellow celebrity hairdresser, and an old friend from London, Paul Mitchell, he was recruited to work with him at the Henri Bendel salon located in the iconic department store described as “that most elegant, nose-in-the-air store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.” Rising to the top of his field, he took on a partner and started his own business, eventually opening up the largest salon in the country on Madison Avenue, where the price of a haircut was three digits already in the 1970s.  

His love and respect for rabbis brought him to build very close bonds with many leading Torah scholars, including the Belzer Rebbe, and Rabbi Yaakov Hillel – who called Raymond “the gadol hador [giant of the generation] of hesed.”  Hacham David Yosef lovingly recalls the time he came to Raymond’s salon 40 years ago. Raymond stopped what he was doing and spent an hour going into every Syrian store on 5th Avenue to raise money for the Hacham’s Kollel. He raised an enormous amount in a single hour. 

Raymond was especially close with Hacham David’s father, Hacham Ovadia, zt”l, and served as  his personal protocol and security attaché who escorted him to the White House, where the rabbi gave President Ronald Reagan a blessing in 1983. He even trimmed Hacham Ovadia’s hair and beard – twice! 

The relationships he forged with rabbis, and the great esteem he felt toward them, led Raymond to a drastic decision that would fundamentally change his and his family’s life.  

“The salon was not a wholesome place for his children to be,” explains his wife, Rachelle. 

Raymond credited Rabbi Isaac Dwek with convincing him that he needed to leave the hairstyling industry if he wanted his children to follow the path of Torah commitment. Remarkably, Raymond did just that, without a second thought, walking away from a very lucrative career for the sake of maintaining his family’s purity and wholesomeness.   

“My dad did everything he could to provide for the family,” Marc says, “working long hours and traveling across the country to promote his beauty products, hosting sales episodes on QVC, and even buying close-outs and selling them at the flea market. He went showroom to showroom selling men’s suits to community members, and, finally, worked in the wholesale apparel business, breaking every account that couldn’t be broken. He was a master salesman who knew how to cultivate relationships. There was no pride holding him back when it came to supporting his family.” 

The Barber’s Special Mitzvah 

But leaving the hair salon business turned out not to be “Raymond the Barber’s” last encounter with his scissors.   

“My father personified the idea that anything mundane can be elevated,” David says.  “So when he walked away from his business, he used his Gd-given talent – Sotheby’s had his hands insured for $1 million, 40 years ago – for the mitzvah of taking people out of their 30 days of mourning by giving them a Madison Ave.-haircut and a shave.  And like everything else he did, my father initiated the mitzvah unsolicited.  

Adam adds, “Whenever he saw a notice that someone was sitting shivah, he tracked the mourners down. If someone was saying kaddish in shul, he would approach them and offer to cut their hair.”   

Rachelle and their daughter, Renee Schweky, tell that 90 percent of the haircuts were done in their home. They would lay down a piece of plastic on the carpet, and the haircut would take place in the living room by the front door.   

“I have clear memories of random people coming to the house,” Renee shares. “I would ask my mom, ‘Who is that,’ and most of the time, we didn’t know. And it didn’t matter to my Dad who they were, rich or poor, or who their family was – he treated each one just the same, with respect and care.”   

Community legend Mike “the Mitzvah Man” Cohen says, “Bringing people out of mourning was Raymond’s  mitzvah. It’s known that he’s done thousands – he selflessly owned this mitzvah.” 

Caring for the Elderly 

But Raymond’s proudest achievement, one which was borne out of his love and compassion for his family – and particularly for his mother, Sophie, a”h, – was helping our community’s elderly live with dignity and happiness.   

According to his family, Raymond did not initially “believe” in nursing homes, feeling that family members should take in their elderly relatives and care for them at home. This is exactly what he and his righteous wife, Rachelle, did, caring for his widowed mom in their home for 26 years, during which time she lived as an integral member of the household. The family did not find it at all strange, or burdensome, to have her living in the home; to the contrary, they saw it as a natural part of their family life. Raymond’s daughter, Renee, recalls, “It was my pleasure to take care of my grandma Sophie, to help her get dressed and put on her make-up and jewelry.”   

But as Sophie aged and became ill with dementia, it was no longer feasible for her to live with the family. With trepidation and a heavy heart, Mr. Cohen began researching nursing homes.   

He had reservations and concerns about most of the homes he visited, and so with the safety of his mother at stake, he continued his search. Finally, he discovered the Sephardic Home for the Aged in Brooklyn, which was founded by the Turkish and Greek community that was once centered in Brooklyn, but then migrated to Cedarhurst.   

“When I met with Raymond,” recalls Michael New, Executive Director of the Sephardic Home, “he told me the only way he would admit his mom to the Home was if she could go home to his family every Shabbat. Although it was against our policy, we agreed, and Raymond or his daughter-in-law, Mazie, would faithfully pick up Sophie on Fridays and bring her back after Shabbat. As time went by, Sophie thrived at the Home in our specialized Alzheimer’s program.”    

Raymond became an advocate and promoter of the Sephardic Home to the entire Syrian community. He initially got involved to help make improvements to the Home, and then officially joined the Board as the first member from the Syrian community. He quickly became one of the most active and popular Board members, eventually being named Vice President of the Board. He helped many families admit their loved ones into the Home, getting them the best rooms and the highest standards of care.  

In 2015, The Sephardic Home was sold, and the money was used to launch the Sephardic Foundation for the Aged. Raymond remained on the Board, and, with the help of his fellow board members, directed millions to other non-profit nursing homes, rehab centers and Sephardic community seniors programs to ensure that elderly community members would receive the very best possible care.  

An “Unsung Hero” 

As grateful as Raymond was for the collaboration with the Sephardic Home, says community member Michael Haddad, he fervently believed that the community needed a nursing home of its own, within walking distance of residents’ family members.   

“Raymond is truly one of the unsung heroes of our community,” Michael says. “He had a deep reverence for the elderly, was concerned that our community elders were scattered throughout the nursing home system, and dreamed of building a home with our culture and values, for the community, and within the community.”   

In 2016, Raymond approached Mr. Haddad to launch the project. Together, they worked tirelessly and selflessly to build the foundation and framework for a community nursing home.   

“Raymond lit me up with the need for our own community nursing home, and I will continue doing everything I can to make his dream come true,” Mr. Haddad says. “My only regret is that he wasn’t able to see it completed in his lifetime. But I know he is praying for its successful completion.”  

Extraordinary Altruism 

Psychologists have coined a term for people like Raymond Cohen – “extraordinary altruist.” The criteria for this distinction are relatively straightforward: 1) perform a generous act for someone unrelated or unknown to you; 2) the action entails a personal risk or cost to you; 3) the act isn’t something you are required to do. And – you don’t think of yourself as anything but ordinary when performing such acts. This was Raymond Cohen, every single day of his life.   

Once, he heard about someone struggling to make his daughter’s wedding, and he singlehandedly raised $12,000 in one afternoon, delivering it to the person that evening so he would not go to sleep worried about paying for the wedding. Raymond partnered with Rabbi Shmuel Choueka in forming the SY Marriage Fund, where Raymond solicited funds and Rabbi Choueka dispersed them, helping hundreds of young couples to get married with dignity.    

Raymond saw this work not as volunteerism, but rather as an obligation, often stating, “It behooves us to help those who are less fortunate than us.”    

“Raymond was a man of tremendous nobility, refinement, and wisdom, who embodied all the good qualities of everything we try to be when we help those in need,” says Rabbi Binyamin Sanders of the Chesed 24/7 organization. “He was so obviously head-and-shoulders above anyone else I ever met, and a role model to all of us in the helping field.” 

“I Have Diamonds” 

At Raymond’s 75th birthday celebration, his family gathered to honor him, and he repeated over and over, “I am a very fortunate guy. Some people strive for monetary success, and some people strive for other types of success. In England, a person usually has one child, a cat, and a dog. And that is called “success.” But look at what I have! I have diamonds. I look at my beautiful family and am blessed that they have succeeded and exceeded me. The fact is that all of my children and grandchildren are moral citizens who give back to Hashem and our community. And this is because their mom was there to raise them correctly. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here today.”   

Raymond’s son, Rabbi Adam Cohen, adds, “Gd bless my mother – she built on the foundations that my dad created. He would never have been able to do all that he did without her by his side.” 

There are those who donate to worthy charitable causes, and there are those who create the entity that will distribute the funds. There are those who honor and care for their parents, and there are those who overhaul an institution to make it a better place for all our parents. There are those who will gladly lend a hand when a problem is brought to their attention, and there are those with the exceptional ability to sense when one is in need and offer to help. There are those with talents who use them for their own purposes, and there are those who turn their talents into mitzvot. There are those who generously give of their time and money to support worthy causes, and there are those who encourage others donate. There are parents whose children wonder what they’re busy with when they perform hesed, and there are parents who make hesed an integral part of family life.   

Raymond Cohen was, in all cases, the latter. He arrived in our community knowing no one, and left a legacy affecting everyone. 

Our community has suffered the loss of a pioneer – a man who made it his business to improve the lives of his fellow Jews. He was a man who, as Rabbi Ozeri describes, had a “passion to help other people, and we will never really know how many people he helped.” 

Our community needs more people like Raymond Cohen, people who engage in lifelong heroism, who are not just compassionate and caring, but have a knack for being able to see things from the perspective of others.    

Each one of us has the potential for outstanding altruism. Our tradition teaches that “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh – All Israel are responsible for one another.” We are all connected. We have the capacity to put ourselves in our fellow’s shoes, to feel each other’s pain, to understand each other’s needs, to empathize with one another – and this experience is what gives rise to altruism, to a powerful impulse to alleviate other people’s suffering. This is the level we should all be striving for. As Raymond would say: “It behooves us…” 

If you have a story to share of Raymond, please share it with the family at RaymondtheBarber18@gmail.com for inclusion in a forthcoming book about his extraordinary life. 

Project Safe: Protecting Our Youth, Empowering Our Community

Diane Mishan

In the heart of our community lies a beacon of hope: The Safe Foundation. This licensed outpatient drug, alcohol, and gambling treatment center stands as a pillar of support for individuals grappling with addiction. Yet, what truly sets The Safe Foundation apart is its pioneering approach to preventive education. Through our groundbreaking school curriculum, Project SAFE, taught in over ten community schools to a total of 3,109 students, the Foundation is reshaping the narrative surrounding tough topics such as bullying, substance abuse, and body image. This transformative impact extends not only to our youths’ education but also to the overarching community wellness. 

At the core of The Safe Foundation’s mission is a commitment to holistic well-being. Recognizing that addiction often stems from underlying issues, the organization provides comprehensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse and gambling addiction. From individual counseling to group therapy sessions, The Safe Foundation offers a safe and supportive environment for individuals on their journey to recovery. Moreover, The Safe Foundation goes beyond traditional treatment methods by embracing a multifaceted approach to community wellness. 

Focus on Foundational Skills 

One of the most innovative aspects of The Safe Foundation’s work is its focus on foundational skills. This initiative, spearheaded by Project SAFE, aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate life’s challenges. By addressing these issues head-on and providing life skill tools, The Safe Foundation empowers students to make informed choices and to develop healthy coping mechanisms for any future challenges they may face. 

Project SAFE, led by our Director of Community Education, Liat Dahan, has implemented a new curriculum with the help of co-curriculum writer Sally Franco, called Project SELF. This program, consisting of 20 lessons, includes topics such as: who am I, foundational tools, relationship building, emotional intelligence and sense of self. Our SAFE teachers are trained and continuously supported to effectively deliver these crucial messages.    

Addressing Body Positivity 

Throughout the 2023-2024 school year, alongside our weekly SAFE classes, Project SAFE coordinated 52 special programs tailored to suit the unique requirements of every school, student body, and parent community. Notable among these were workshops on body positivity at Magen David High School where female students participated in a three-part workshop series on body positivity led by Sari Dana. Throughout these sessions, they delved into the concepts of body positivity and its intersection with social media, while also addressing the importance of shedding the diet mentality and embracing positive affirmations.  

Students not only gained insights into the detrimental effects of diets but also learned to trust their body’s natural wisdom when it comes to food choices. Additionally, they developed a keen awareness of the harmful messages propagated by social media regarding unrealistic beauty standards. Sari Dana’s book, The Journey to Body Positivity, served as a valuable resource throughout the workshops.  

Joint Programs for Children and Parents 

At Hillel Yeshivah Elementary, fourth-grade students and their parents took part in an interactive program crafted and led by Debbie Nehmad. Called “Stronger Together: Nurturing Values, Fostering Upstanders – A Family-Centered Program,” this initiative encouraged parents and students to collaborate in identifying their family values. Together, participants explored instances where living out these values might be challenging and they discovered strategies for prioritizing values and intervening when necessary. Witnessing the genuine engagement between parents and children during these significant discussions was truly heartening. A sincere thank you goes out to the fourth-grade parents of Hillel Yeshivah. Their active involvement played a pivotal role in the success of this program. 

In collaboration with CCSA, Project SAFE organized a program for eighth-grade children and their parents at Yeshivah of Flatbush Elementary School aimed at addressing the critical issue of drugs and alcohol. This session emphasized safety strategies and effective approaches to initiating open conversations about substance abuse. The session kicked off with a poignant video that shed light on the harsh realities of teenage substance abuse, paving the way for collaborative discussions between parents and children. Together, they brainstormed safety strategies and explored effective approaches to initiating open conversations about this sensitive topic. Children engaged in role-playing exercises to hone refusal and peer pressure management skills, while parents received additional education on recognizing addiction signs, identifying various substances, and learning how to broach the subject with their children in a non-judgmental manner. The program provided a platform for children to express their preferences regarding their parents’ responses, and vice versa, thereby fostering deeper understanding and communication within families. 

Promoting Emotional Well-Being 

We’ve introduced an emotional intelligence program through art, developed by Steven Franco, to expand traditional learning methods. Under the leadership of the Director of Education, Liat Dahan, and co-curriculum writer Sally Franco, a program was conducted at Yeshivah Prep, focusing on teaching students about their emotions. This initiative aims to lay a foundation for the students’ lifelong emotional well-being and social development, helping them recognize, understand, and express their feelings in a healthy manner. 

After piloting the program across various grades in multiple schools, our goal is to train teachers and to integrate the program into the school’s art curriculum next year. Barkai Yeshivah has already taken the lead by training their teachers and implementing the program into their 4th-grade classrooms! 

A Bright Example for Our Broader Community 

Beyond the classroom, The Safe Foundation’s work extends to the broader community, fostering empathy, understanding, and a culture of support. As the Foundation continues to expand its reach and impact, it relies on the generosity of donors and volunteers to sustain its programs. Together, we can build a brighter future for our community – one rooted in compassion, understanding, and resilience. The Safe Foundation stands as a shining example of the transformative power of education and community support, empowering tomorrow’s leaders and building resilient communities. Let us pave the way for a brighter, healthier future for all. 

Annual Breakfast Fundraiser 

Please Join us Friday morning, June 28th, 9am at the Jersey shore for our 21st annual summer breakfast fundraiser, where every donation brings us one step closer to safeguarding our community’s future. Let’s make a lasting impact and create a safer, healthier environment for generations to come. To donate: Venmo @safe-foundation, or visit our website www.thesafefoundation.org/donate.  

Don’t Wait 

If you or your loved one is struggling with alcohol, drugs, or gambling don’t wait, call 718-GET-SAFE. Our team of licensed professionals is here to help you! We have offices is Brooklyn, NY, and Eatontown, NJ, and offer remote services when appropriate.

Diane Mishan is the Director of Marketing & Events at the SAFE Foundation.  


Elastic Marvels: The Resilient World of Rubber Trees

Tuvia Cohen 


We don’t want to worry you, but we have a little problem. You see, we have this rather large 350-ton jumbo jet that has requested permission to land. There are no other aircraft in the area, so we can easily give permission. The airplane has wheels, and plenty of them, so no difficulties there. The problem is that the captain of the jumbo has not yet decided what material to place around the metal rim of those numerous and ponderous wheels. 

You have to visualize the situation to appreciate the scope of the problem. A jumbo jet is enormous, and as it descends from the sky to meet the ground, it is traveling at some 200 miles an hour. As contact is made between the wheel rim and concrete, the friction created is intense. So quickly, suggest what he can use! Should he wrap the rims with sacking, a material that is usually very hard-wearing? It will rip to shreds in a second. Should he clothe the wheels in leather? The jolt caused by the impact will snap off the wheels as easily as a fragile twig. Perhaps he should simply leave the wheels in their pristine steel? Could you imagine the steel wheel carving a trench in the concrete, with sparks pouring forth, each spark posing the gravest risk? We have to find the solution, and quickly! 

While I think, my mind tires. Tires? You mean tires? That’s it! Rubber tires – the perfect solution. An inflated ring of rubber that covers the rim of the wheel will absorb the impact, and it is strong, durable, waterproof, and flexible. Problem solved – what a relief!  


Could We Manage Without Rubber? 

Imagine that you had to describe this substance called rubber to a newcomer to Earth. What would you say? “Well, it’s sort of black and elasticated, you know, like . . . rubber!” But where does it grow, how is it made, who discovered it, why do we need it, and could we ever manage without it?  

The answer to the last question is a definite “no,” as anyone who has ever traveled in a car, plane, or bicycle will attest. Imagine the level of discomfort as you ride – or rather bounce and jolt – along the highway at 70 mph in a car with wheels bound by metal! As for the first questions, prepare to be amazed. 

Why is rubber so useful? There are many reasons. It holds air (as in your balloon), it keeps out moisture (as in your rubber boots), it does not readily conduct electricity (which explains its widespread use in insulation), and is a poor conductor of heat (making it an excellent choice of materials for coating the handles of frying pans). But its chief importance to us is that it is elastic. In fact, rubber can be made so elastic that it will stretch to more than nine times its normal length. When you stretch a rubber band and let it go, its elasticity makes it quickly spring back to its original shape. A rubber ball, that mainstay of children’s games, bounces because of this same springiness. Your rubber heels are wonderful shock absorbers because of their elasticity.  

Fantastic stuff, rubber, but where does it come from?  


Columbus, the Indians, and Goodyear Tires 

When the early European explorers came to Central and South America, they saw the Indians playing with bouncing balls made out of rubber. According to an early Spanish historian, Columbus found the Indians using balls “made from the gum of a tree.” The explorers learned that the Indians made “waterproof” shoes from latex, the milky white juice of the rubber tree. They spread the latex on their feet, and let it dry. Those same Indians also made waterproof bottles by smoothing latex on a bottle-shaped clay mold. They dried the latex over a fire, and then washed out the clay. It was not until the 18th century that two French scientists spent several years doing botanical research in South America. In 1730, one of them, Monsieur Francois Fresneau, made a full report about rubber, and was the first scientist to describe the rubber tree. Another major breakthrough took place in 1823, when a Scottish manufacturer, Charles Macintosh, had a brilliant idea for raincoats. He rubberized two pieces of cloth with dissolved rubber, and pressed them together, making a sort of cloth sandwich with a rubber filling. Although these coats became popular, they were not perfect, as the rain leaked in at the seams, and in hot weather, the rubber leaked out. 

While Mr. Macintosh was trying to perfect his raincoats, an American by the name of Charles Goodyear was attempting to produce rubber that would be unaffected by changes of temperature. Then, one day in 1839, he accidentally placed a mixture of rubber, white lead, and sulfur on a hot stove. When he removed it, he found that the rubber could still be stretched, but had not become gummy. Thus, he discovered the process known as vulcanization, whereby sulfur is heated with rubber, resulting in a compound that remains tough and firm in both heat and cold. Vulcanized rubber was elastic, airtight, and watertight, and could be used to make tight seals between the moving parts of machinery. The rubber industry had begun. 


The Mystery of Latex 

So much for the work of man. But what of the actual substance, and the trees from which it stems?  

Latex is found in a wide variety of trees and other plants, but some aspects of latex still remain a mystery. Scientists know that latex is not a sap, but they are not sure of its use to the plant. There are those who think that latex acts as a kind of protective substance when a plant has been harmed. But if this is the case, why do some trees have latex in super abundance (such as the rubber tree) and so many have none? As we shall see, the answer is that the Creator of the Universe knew that mankind would need rubber, so He created latex! 

The milky liquid called latex consists of about 30 to 35 percent pure rubber. Water accounts for another 60-65 percent, with the remainder consisting of resins, proteins, and sugar. The latex holds tiny globules (particles) of rubber in the same way that milk holds butterfat. The rubber tree grows best in hot, moist climates. The latex that contains the rubber flows through a series of tubes in the layer of the tree directly under the bark. When this layer is pierced, the latex oozes out. 

Plantation workers, called “tappers,” begin work at daybreak, because the latex flows most freely in the cool morning air. The tapper removes a thin shaving of bark with a tool shaped so that the bottom of the groove forms a channel. The groove slants diagonally downward about halfway around the trunk. At the bottom of the cut, the tapper attaches a U- shaped metal spout, and below that, a small cup. The latex oozes from the inner bark, and flows down the channel into a collecting cup. Don’t feel sorry for the cut bark – as the latex dries, it seals the cut! Each tapper works on about 350 trees on one round of tapping, which takes him about three hours. After tapping the last tree, the tapper makes a second round to collect the latex, removing the dried latex and making a fresh cut.  

Rubber trees yield their full capacity of latex for about 25-30 years.  

What is most amazing is that after about three or four years, the grooves in the tree reach the ground. The tapper then goes to the other side of the tree, and begins cutting the bark there. By the time the second set of grooves reaches the ground, the bark has grown back on the first grooves, and it is ready to be tapped again! 


Thank Gd for Rubber! 

Rubber is a wonder product. We depend on it so much that it would be almost impossible to manage without it. It is the only material that is elastic, airtight, water resistant, shock absorbing, and resilient. Manufacturers make between 40,000 and 50,000 rubber products. A typical car has about 600 rubber parts. Think of waterproof aprons, boots, raincoats, hot-water bottles, ice bags, elastic bands, bathing caps, goggles, rubber life-rafts, golf balls, tennis balls, bottle stoppers, rubber gloves, and shoe soles. How could we manage without rubber? Our whole transport system is dependent on rubber. More than half the rubber used in the world goes into tires and tubes, which in turn are fitted onto cars, airplanes, bicycles, trucks, tractors, and construction machinery. Modern society would quite literally grind to a halt without this amazing “fruit” of the rubber tree. 

Everything that Gd created was done so for a purpose. The Creator of the Universe knew that one day mankind would require the services and qualities of rubber – and so He created the rubber tree with its ever-flowing latex to satisfy that need. Thank you, Hashem!

Community Highlights – Changes to Squatter Laws Announced After Efforts from Councilwoman Inna Vernikov and Other Elected Officials

Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, Senator Scarcella-Spanton, Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo, Manhattan Beach Community Group, Brooklyn residents, and other state and local elected officials hosted a press conference last month regarding the change in state law excluding squatters from tenant protections, as was signed into law by the governor in the new budget.

The new language defines a squatter as someone staying on a property without permission from its owner or the owner’s representative. This wording will make it easier for police to intervene in squatting cases, sparing homeowners months or even years in housing court.

This is a bipartisan issue that is prevalent in both the councilwoman and senator’s overlapping districts, specifically with several cases in Manhattan Beach, including the squatters at 178 Mackenzie St and 72 Beamont Street. Both elected officials have been speaking out about this issue and have been working together, as well as with other elected officials and community stakeholders for common sense solutions.

“Finally, we may see some effective change that will help remedy the squatter situation that is plaguing so many of our neighbors in Brooklyn. I applaud the fact that this will take some handcuffs off of our police force and allow them to do their job in an effective way. I thank Senator Scarcella-Spanton for advocating for our community on this issue in Albany. This isn’t the end of the fight but it’s definitely a good step towards restoring normalcy to our community and neighbors,” said Councilwoman Vernikov.

The bill proposes measures to exclude squatters from tenant protections, double the time period for tenancy rights from 30 to 60 days of possession, incorporate squatting into the definition of criminal trespass in the third degree, and enhance lease provisions.

Enacted Budget Invests in Holocaust Curriculum in Public Schools

Speaker Carl Heastie, Education Committee Chair Michael Benedetto, and Assemblymember Nily Rozic announced the State Fiscal Year 2024-25 Budget invests $500,000 to review and update curriculum on the Holocaust as anti-Semitism continues to rise across the state. The Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic incidents rose by 110 percent last year, with incidents of harassment up 226 percent in New York.

“With anti-Semitic attacks on the rise across our state, this funding arrives at a critical time for our children,” said Speaker Heastie. “This review will ensure that our students are accurately and completely taught the lessons of the Holocaust so we can ensure history never repeats itself.”

“Hate does not exist in a vacuum; it is the result of ignorance and misinformation. This vital funding will help ensure that our state curriculum represents a true and accurate account of Holocaust history,” said Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein. “Now more than ever, it is essential that we educate our young people about the horrors of the past. Only then can we ensure a more tolerant future. I thank Speaker Heastie for recognizing the significance of Holocaust education, especially during these troubling times.”

“With the number of Holocaust survivors dwindling, it is imperative that New York memorializes the horrific events of the Holocaust,” said Assemblymember David Weprin.

“According to a recent poll, one in five Americans aged 18-39 think the Holocaust was a myth. We need to bring a standards based curriculum to all New York public schools. Learning about the Holocaust can promote kindness in our youngest students while our middle schoolers can learn about words and symbols connected to hate, and our high schoolers learn about historical events and antisemitism. We cannot raise a generation of Holocaust deniers. There are lessons from the Holocaust that are applicable in all areas of our lives. We must remember so we can be better.”

This funding will ensure New York’s Holocaust curriculum is fully reviewed and updated to adequately prepare our students for the future.

The Case – A Junk Collector

Jacob, president of a successful charity organization, decided to update the computer room with new equipment, and allocated funds for the project. Of the 30 computers owned by the organization, more than half were busted, and were surely not worth fixing. Leon, the superintendent, chose not to dispose of them, but rather to sell them to a used parts dealer, and he earned a handsome sum of $1,200. When the new equipment arrived, Jacob proudly expressed his joy over finally trashing the old equipment, and thanked Leon for the labor entailed in disposing of it. Later that day, Jacob found out about Leon’s profit from the sale, and asked Leon to forward the income to the organization. Leon refused to forward the funds on the grounds that Jacob’s intention all along was to dump the old gear, and as superintendent it was his job to dispose of it. Since he could have dumped it, it stands to reason he reserved the right to take it for himself or to sell it. Jacob agreed that he intended on dumping the equipment, but he never explicitly instructed Leon to do so. Furthermore, since the old computers belonged to the organization, the organization should receive even unexpected profits that the old computers generated.  

How should the Bet Din rule, in favor of Leon or Jacob, and why?

Torah Law 

According to the rule of the Shulhan Aruch, in order for personal property to be effectively abandoned, it is necessary for its owners to give explicit instructions to dispose of the item. In certain instances, even if the owner himself throws a valuable item into a public area, it is not regarded as abandoned, and a finder may not acquire the item. The action of throwing an item into a public area can be attributed to frustration or the like, and is not necessarily an indication that the item was actually abandoned. Needless to say, the mere intent to dispose of an item is not a license for another party to declare ownership, as until it is effectively abandoned one may not take possession. 

Leading halachic authorities debate the legal status of an item that is mistakenly abandoned by its owner. Although the owner clearly instructed to dispose of his item, nevertheless, he did so since he was unaware of the item’s inherent value. Hence, according to most halachic authorities, the abandonment is rendered null and void, and in the event the item was already collected by another it must be returned to its owner. Other halachic authorities differ with the above reasoning, explaining that since the owner clearly instructed to dispose of his property without first inquiring with regard to its remaining value, he effectively abandoned the item. Although he mistakenly forfeited the remaining value of his property, once collected by another party, it may not be reclaimed by its original owner. 

As a general rule, in instances in which a halachic dispute exists as to the rightful legal owner of an item, the party in possession may withhold the item and claim ownership. Since halachic authorities support his claim of ownership, he may rely on their opinion and withhold an item already in his possession. 

By rule of the Shulhan Aruch, one is entitled to a commission fee for enabling a sale of an item. Although no stipulation for payment was made prior to the sale, nevertheless, the owner is required to compensate the salesman for his services. Likewise, if a party ships and handles an item for an owner, he is entitled to compensation for his services even if not conditioned for from the onset. The rationale behind this ruling is that people are generally unwilling to provide a service without receiving compensation, and it is therefore considered as if he stipulated for payment. Naturally, one can only expect compensation in instances in which the service provided is clearly beneficial to the recipient. It is important to note that in absence of agreed upon terms of payment a Bet Din will appraise the value of the service provided according to the commercial market rate of the specific industry of record. 

Endnotes: Shulhan Aruch Hoshen Mishpat 261:4, Ibid Netivot Hamishpat, Shulhan Aruch Hoshen Mishpat 273:2, 7,   Shulhan Aruch Hoshen Mishpat 142:2, Kesot Hahoshen142:1, Netivot Hamishpat142:2, Rema Hoshen Mishpat 264:4. 

VERDICT:  Collector of Wages 

The Bet Din ruled in favor of the organization by awarding it $1,000 of the proceeds of the sale. However, as compensation for Leon’s services, which included a commission fee for selling the computer parts to a dealer, and for hand delivering the equipment, the Bet din awarded him with the $200 balance of the proceeds. As mentioned in Torah law, Jacob, the organization’s president, never explicitly instructed to discard the old computers. Although it was Jacob’s full intent to scrap them, nevertheless, he never effectively abandoned the property, thereby making it illegal for Leon to sell the organization’s assets. Although Jacob later commented that he was thankful it was dumped, nevertheless, at the time of sale it was the property of the organization, and hence, the proceeds of the sale are to be forwarded accordingly. Furthermore, Jacob was never aware of the inherent value of the computer parts, and mistakenly intended on dumping them. According to numerous halachic authorities, mistakenly abandoning property is rendered invalid, and even after the sale of the old computers Jacob may reclaim his ownership and collect the proceeds of the sale. The latter is true even if Jacob possibly did instruct to one of his employees to throw away the old equipment. Leon was awarded $200, since according to Torah law he is entitled to compensation even though he did not stipulate for payment. 

In Loving Memory of Vera Bat Carol, A”H 


The Matchmaker 

Simon, a middle-aged man who underwent two painful divorces, decided that it was time to become an observant Jew, and he began to regularly study in yeshiva. Shortly thereafter, he expressed interest in remarrying, and was told that if he seriously chooses to pursue the matter, he is to speak with none other than his friend Reb Mendel. A match was made, and after Simon dated Miriam twice he received a phone call from Reb Mendel that the fee for his services is $5,000. Miriam as well was informed by Reb Mendel that if the match proved to be successful, the fee for his services is $2,500. The two, who were clearly interested in each other, were appalled by Reb Mendel’s exorbitant fee, and rejected his outrageous demands. Happily, the couple married and some two months after the wedding they were summonsed to Bet Din by Reb Mendel who claimed to be owed $7,500. In Bet Din, Simon and Miriam explained that they were of Sephardic origin and never imagined that there existed a fee for matchmaking. Furthermore, Simon claimed that as a good friend of Reb Mendel, it was obvious that the match was made in good will and not for monetary compensation. Reb Mendel responded that he is an experienced matchmaker and regularly collected payment for his services. His reasoning for charging Simon $5,000, as opposed to only $2,500 for Miriam, is that Simon is a high-risk client, as he is two times divorced. Reb Mendel explained that working with a high-risk client always presents difficulties, and he is entitled to compensation accordingly.  

How should the Bet Din rule – in favor of Reb Mendel or the couple and why?

Mabrouk – June 2024

Births – Baby Boy 

Freddie & Dena Erani 

Ezra & Odette Tebele 

Charles & Lynne Adams 

Michael & Sophia Halwani 

Zach & Marilyn Beyda 

David & Joyce Sutton 

Isaac & Sarah Kassin 

Robbie & Elizabeth Gindi 

Harry & Allison Dana 

Joey & Frieda Sutton 

Michael & Sally Mamiye 



Births – Baby Girl 

Ralphie & Sara Zagha 

Alex & Marlene Saka – Twins!! 

Mr. & Mrs. Yehuda Yechezkel 

David & Sophia Hedaya 

David & Joyce Harary 

Abe & Lenore Tawil 

Michael & Shelley Abadie 

Ike & Julie Shrem 

Adam & Cookie Dweck 

Eli & Eden Harari 


Daniel Silver to Michal Azar  

Eddie Swed to Ellen Dweck 

Alan Fallas to Rebecca Haddad 

Bert Hamra to Lillian Srour 

Joe Benzaken to Lenore Mizrachi

M&S Summer Softball League Gears Up for an Exciting 2024 Season

Sam J. Sutton 

As the days grow longer and the summer sun starts to warm the fields, anticipation is building for the 2024 M&S Summer Softball season. Now entering its 17th year, the league has become a staple in the community, offering fierce competition and camaraderie to players and fans alike.  

Seven teams will compete for the ultimate prize, the M&S Cup. Let’s delve into each team, their captains, and what fans can expect. 

The Final Battle 

Captained by league legend Teddy Ishak, The Final Battle is looking to claim the title with a combination of veteran leadership and youthful energy. Ishak, known for his strategic prowess and ability to rally his team, has a reputation for crafting lineups that thrive under pressure. With Ishak at the helm, fans can be sure this team will fight until the final out. 

The Predators 

Michael Sabon Salomon, a Hall of Fame player, returns to lead The Predators. Known for his tactical mind and relentless pursuit of excellence, Salomon is eager to guide his team back to glory. The Predators’ fierce competitiveness and tactical discipline make them a formidable opponent for any team. Sabon’s presence alone instills confidence and drive, and his team will be looking to him for leadership throughout the season. 

Sarah’s Kibbes 

After a tough World Series loss last year, Gabe Abadi returns as captain of Sarah’s Kibbes, determined to secure the championship this time around. Abadi, a skilled strategist, has a knack for assembling cohesive units capable of delivering under pressure. With last season’s heartbreak still fresh, Sarah’s Kibbes is poised to channel their hunger for victory into a focused and resilient campaign. 


Multi-time champion and star shortstop Steven J. Gindi leads Resilience into the season with the aim of reclaiming the crown. Gindi’s championship pedigree and leadership make him one of the most respected captains in the league. Resilience is known for its mental toughness and adaptability, traits that often give them an edge in crucial moments. Fans are eager to see if they can live up to their name once more this season. 

Dawg Pound 

Uri Adler steps into the captain’s role for the first time with Dawg Pound. Despite being a rookie captain, Adler brings infectious enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to the league. He is determined to make a strong impression this season. Dawg Pound will aim to combine raw energy with Adler’s strategic vision to make a memorable run. 


The Phenom, Edmund Beyda, is another first-time captain, of the IDF. His extraordinary presence on the mound and natural leadership have earned him the nickname “The Phenom,” and expectations are high for this team. Beyda’s ability to inspire his teammates and deliver clutch performances makes IDF a legitimate contender. 

Bleacher Creatures 

League veteran Sammy Esses returns to captain the Bleacher Creatures. Known for his strategic game planning and unwavering dedication, Esses has a reputation for rallying his troops and extracting the best out of his players. The Bleacher Creatures have a loyal fan base and are looking to make a deep playoff run this season under Esses’ guidance. 


The 2024 M&S Summer Softball season promises to be one for the ages. With a mix of returning legends and fresh faces, the league is set for thrilling matchups and unforgettable moments. Whether it’s the legendary leadership of Teddy Ishak and Michael Sabon Salomon, the determined resilience of Gabe Abadi, or the fresh excitement brought by Uri Adler, each team has a unique story to tell. 

Get ready to dust off your jerseys and grab your sunscreen as the teams prepare to battle for the ultimate prize. The competition is fierce, the stakes are high, and the memories waiting to be made are countless. 

Let’s play ball!