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Mabrouk – December 2022

MABROUK 

Births – Baby Boy 

Rabbi Ariel & Rivka Zafrani 

Ari & Teri Sofair-Fisch 

Andy & Abbey Mizrahi  

 

Bar Mitzvahs 

Morris, son of David & Susan Dana  

Elie, son of Mr. & Mrs. Joe Kadi 

 

Engagements 

Aaron Marcus to Florence Hassoun 

Ezra Ohnouna to Barbara Kassin 

David Shacalo to Terry Jemal 

Raymond Tawil to Sharon Chehebar 

Shlomo Abady to Simcha Srour 

Jack Levy to Marelne Gindi 

Freddy Srour to Rina Kabariti 

 

Weddings 

Abraham Hanan to Sara Sharaby

The Case – Invested Interest

Alan, president of an established ladies’ wear corporation, needed a loan to operate his business. He approached his brother-in-law Sam for a $750,000 loan, and although Sam was at first reluctant, he eventually transferred the entire sum. The two agreed on a six percent annual interest rate, which was to be paid in monthly installments over a five-year period. Alan lived up to the terms of the agreement and paid back the entire principal, including nearly $120,000 in interest. Taking the loan proved to be a wise decision, as Alan’s business was once again stable, and the future seemed very promising.  Not too long after he finished paying off the loan in full, Alan attended a Torah class in which the topic of the prohibition of collecting interest was discussed. The rabbi teaching the class noted that in many instances a borrower retains the right to recover the interest he paid via a Jewish court of law. Since interest payments are illegal according to Torah law, a lender is required to return collected interest.  Alan approached Sam seeking to recover the $120,000 in interest he paid. However, Sam rejected the claim. Sam explained to Alan that he had forfeited earnings from his previous investment, totaling at least the annual percentage he charged Alan, and brought to his attention that he had graciously lent him a very large sum with no guarantee.  In Bet Din, Sam expressed that he was insulted by his brother-in-law’s behavior. Nevertheless, he was willing to comply with Torah law. 

How should the Bet Din rule? Is Alan entitled to recover the $120,000 he paid in interest or not and why?

Torah Law 

According to the ruling of the Shulhan Aruch, payment of a loan in excess of the amount borrowed constitutes the Torah prohibition of interest. This prohibition is extended on both the borrower and lender, and is applicable whether the lender requested the interest payment or the borrower offered to pay it. The prohibition is applicable regardless if the interest is a per annum payment or a one-time payment. Various laws with regard to this prohibition are pertinent to our everyday lives, making it our responsibility to set aside time to study this topic. The information covered in this article is limited as it deals primarily with the case at hand. 

There is, however, a distinction between the prohibition according to Biblical law and Rabbinical law.  According to Biblical law the restriction is only in instances in which  the terms of an interest payment were stipulated at the time of the loan. If, however, the borrower delivers a gift to the lender upon return of the loan, the prohibition is of Rabbinical nature. This distinction has halachic ramifications. While interest paid in violation of Biblical law is subject to collection by the borrower claiming its return, interest paid in violation of Rabbinical law is not retrievable.  

Nevertheless, our Sages designed an operating agreement based on Talmudic law that enables a lender to receive a return on money he advances to a borrower. This agreement is known as a “heter iska” contract. The basic principle of this agreement is that the borrower and lender agree to be partners in a business venture, whereby the lender invests money and the borrower uses his entrepreneurial skills to manage the venture. The investing partner can thereby earn profit attributable to his portion of the joint business venture. In short, the arrangement has the characteristics of both a loan and an investment, as half the money forwarded by the lender is designated as an investment and the other half is maintained as a loan. While redefining half the loan as an investment allows the opportunity for profit, it also exposes the lender to the risk of loss. In attempt to secure the entire principal for the investing partner, provisions are included in the contract, which minimizes his exposure. The parties further agree that in the event the borrower pays a specified annual rate, the lender will waive any claims to additional profit generated by his half of the investment. In addition, a nominal payment is made to the borrower to offset his managing of the business venture so that his labor is not viewed as a gift, which would constitute a violation of interest laws. 

Leading halachic authorities rule in leniency allowing one to collect interest on a loan he extended to a corporation. The rationale behind this ruling is that since a corporate owner is not personally liable in the event of bankruptcy, the prohibition of interest is not applicable. Since a borrower is defined by Torah law as someone who has personal liability to repay a debt, in the instance of a corporation, no fitting borrower exists. Although the company’s assets serve as security for its creditors, nevertheless, no individual exists as a suitable borrower. Arguably, another logical reason to waive the prohibition is that a corporation with no personal guarantor for the principal in case of loss makes the loan more resemble an investment in a business venture, thereby enabling the lender to subsequently earn a profit. In instances in which the corporate owner is personally liable, the Biblical prohibition of interest is applicable. Likewise, although the aforementioned authorities permit a lender to collect interest from a corporation, nevertheless, a corporation is strictly forbidden from collecting interest on a loan extended to an individual. In this latter case the borrower bears personal liability and all interest laws are applicable.  

Although the above leniency with regard to corporations is challenged by various halachic authorities, nearly all agree that collecting interest on such a loan is a rabbinical violation and is not subject to retrieval once paid to the lender.  

Nowadays, it is customary to prepare a heter iska even for loans to corporations.  

Endnotes: Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah Bet #63, Halichot Olam Hilchot Ribit, Minhat Yitzhak 4:16, 17, Har Tzvi Yoreh Deah 126, heter iska form revised from “The Laws of Ribbis,” R.Y. Reissman.

Verdict:  The Point of No Return 

Our Bet Din ruled in favor of Sam, exempting him from returning the interest payments he collected. As mentioned in Torah law, numerous halachic authorities permit collecting interest from a corporation, providing the corporate owner has no personal liability to repay the loan. Upon inquiry, it was apparent that Alan never agreed to any terms of personal liability. Furthermore, the halachic opinions that differ and prohibit lending with interest to a corporation, indeed agree that the prohibition is reduced to a Rabbinical violation. As a general rule, interest collected in violation of Rabbinical law is not subject to return after it is paid to the lender. Hence, even according to the more stringent view, Sam is exempt from returning the earnings he collected. Nevertheless, our Bet Din suggested that for future business loans they use a heter iska.   

INCLUDE DISCLAIMER 

Page 2 

YOU BE THE JUDGE 

 

A Tunisian Connection 

Zelig and Mendel, two prominent members of a well-known Hassidic sect, served as primary distributors of tallitot for their community. As per the specifications established by their Grand Rebbe, only tallitot manufactured in Tunisia were to be sold by the two distributors. This requirement was implemented in order to avoid the prohibition of sha’atnez. Since Tunisia did not grow flax, it was the ideal country for purchasing sha’atnez-free wool tallitot. Rahamin, a Tunisian Sephardic Jew, was their exclusive importer who purchased the tallitot from Arab factories in Tunis, and sold the merchandise to Zelig and Mendel, the retail distributors. After twelve years of successful cooperation, a major crisis arose. Rumors spread through the market that their tallitot were not one hundred percent wool. These rumors prompted Zelig and Mendel to do laboratory testing of their stock. The report determined that although the tallitot did not contain any linen, they nevertheless had an approximate forty percent polyester content.  

In Bet Din, Zelig and Mendel claimed nearly $600,000 in damages for their defective stock. They insisted that they were entitled to return the goods and have their money refunded. They explained that they could not sell the defective tallitot to their clients, since they did not meet the religious standards practiced in their circles. In addition, due to the extra-large size and heavy weight of each tallit, they could not be sold elsewhere and were virtually worthless. Rahamim defended his position claiming that although the purchase order was for a hundred percent wool garments, he stipulated at the time of sale that he was not responsible for the quality control of the merchandise. Contrary to standard practice in wholesale transactions, both parties agreed that the inspection of goods for quality control rested with the retailers. Rahamim expressed that he did not at any point come into contact with the merchandise, as it was picked up by the buyers directly from the port. He was therefore unwilling to take back six months of stock that should have been inspected by the retailers upon initial delivery. Rahamim pointed out that their failure to do so in a timely manner caused him to pay the Arabs in Tunis in full. As such, the merchandise is no longer returnable to its original source. Zelig and Mendel persisted that they were sold defective merchandise as per the purchase order signed by Rahamim. 

Once Upon a Thyme – Apple Cider Doughnuts

Homemade apple cider doughnuts are cakey, moist, and taste like they’re straight from the
bakery. The key to the robust flavors is the blend of spices and the reduced apple cider which is
boiled to a concentrate beforehand. I used a doughnut machine to bake these treats, but using
a doughnut tin works as well. Enjoy with a mug of warm apple cider and some cinnamon sticks.

2 cups fresh apple cider
2 cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup almond or soy milk
⅓ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
Baking spray

  1. Pour apple cider into a pot and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook
    until the cider is reduced to ½  cup.
  2. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg to a
    large bowl. Mix until combined and set aside.
  3. Whisk both sugars and oil. Add milk, vanilla extract, and egg. Add the apple cider
    reduction and the dry ingredients. Whisk together until combined, do not overmix.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared doughnut pans, filling them about ¾ of the way up.
  5. Spray doughnut tins or doughnut machine and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes (or
    according to doughnut machine instructions). Let cool for 10 minutes before removing.
  6. Brush doughnuts lightly with melted margarine. Mix 1 cup white sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon together for topping and toss in doughnuts to coat. 

Hanukah Toy List – Eight Hot-Selling Toys Selling for Under $50!

DoodleJamz JellyPics  

Little doodlers will love this easy to use creative toy, and parents will love the lack of cleanup! This reusable sensory art drawing pad is squishy and fun to touch, andit incorporates all the excitement of finger painting without any of the cleanup. It’s great for travel and sturdy enough to resist breaking. 

Little Tikes Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatch 

This cute, splashproof Little Tikes smartwatch with a built-in interactive robot tracks steps, takes photos with its two built-in cameras, and even plays games.

Stitch ‘N Style Fashion Studio  

This starter sewing kit is perfect for budding stylists, and since it doesn’t require any needle threading, you don’t have to worry about pricking your fingers. The automatic sewing sensors should help make it as easy as possibleto create original designs for six accessories without any user error. Simply use water to apply cool prints to almost any type of fabric.  

Fisher-Price DJ Bouncin’ Beats Interactive Musical Learning Toy 

Get ready to dance! This pick is ideal for toddlers and babies from nine to 36 months. The spring bottom allows the toy to bounce while the three smart stages teach the alphabet, colors, counting, and opposites. Plus, kids can enjoy over 75 songs, sounds, phrases, color combinations, and more!

LeapFrog Clean Sweep Learning Caddy 

It’s never too early to start learning how to care for your space! Boys and girls can look forward to a singing cleaning tools caddy, a bucket that spins and makes swishing sounds when kids press the foot pedal, a pretend soap pump that plays squirting sounds, a mop, dustpan, and more. There are count-along recordings, and additional features. In no time, they’ll be eager to clean up! 

VTech KidiZoom PrintCam  

Chosen as one of the top toys of the season, this fun first camera enables kids to click, preview, and print photos right away. It comes with enough paper for 80 images (extra printing paper sold separately), and kids can add stickers, filters, and borders to any image. They can also turn their photos into drawings to color. 

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Underwater Robot 31090 Building Kit 

The LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Underwater Robot Building Kit allows your child to build an underwater robot, a toy submarine with a manipulator arm, or an underwater crane treasure hunt center. Once the robot is built, it stands over 5″ high! 

Force1 Scoot Cosmo LED Drone 

Kids can fly their very own UFO spaceship toy with this new addition to the Scoot drone family: the Scoot Cosmo. Just toss to launch it and then fly with bare hands while enjoying the ultra-bright LED lights and kaleidoscope projections on the ceiling. 

Budgeting for Your First Home? Know These Hidden Costs of Buying and Owning

Tallying all the costs involved in home ownership can give you a true picture of affordability. The best time to get a sense of the costs involved in home ownership is before you begin to look for one. 

While most prospective buyers are familiar with big ticket items such as mortgage payments and prosperity taxes, smaller costs, such as homeowners insurance, utility bills, and repairs also add to the cost of owning a home. Taking potential expenses into account before you begin shopping can help prevent unpleasant surprises that drain your finances. 

Here are some common “hidden costs” you might run into, and the tips you need to help you be prepared. 

Home Repairs and Cosmetic Updates 

Depending on the age and condition of the home, you’re likely to run into things you want to update or have to fix. 

Research and survey data from real estate website Zillow and home services website Thumbtack published last year show that 65 percent of active shoppers are not looking for a fixer-upper. Yet, the research found that the typical for-sale home could need nearly $30,000 worth of work, and that new homeowners should expect to spend $26,900 to make their new home move-in ready.  

New Appliances 

Everything in a home has a lifespan and appliances are no exception. 

If you’re buying a newly-built home, the appliances should be new and under warranty. If you’re buying a resale home, the need to replace or repair an appliance can vary widely, depending on the age and the condition of the appliances. 

Minimally, most appliances will run you several hundreds of dollars for the most basic models. Add bells and whistles and you could be looking at thousands of dollars to replace a refrigerator. You also could have to pay for installation, a pricey proposition if it involves changes to electrical wiring or plumbing. 

Utility Bills 

If you’re a first-time buyer, the cost of utilities could surprise you, especially if your previous rental home had utilities included. 

For people in urban areas, utilities could include: 

  • Water and sewer 
  • Garbage pick-up 
  • Electricity 
  • Natural gas 
  • Cable 
  • Internet 

Larger homes are likely to cost more to heat and cool and older homes may be less energy-efficient unless they’ve had new windows installed and/or the insulation upgraded. 

Homeowners’ Insurance 

The cost of homeowners insurance will vary depending on your location, the type of coverage you’re buying, any discounts you might qualify for, and your insurer. 

Broadly speaking, you can expect to pay about $35 a month for every $100,000 in home value. For instance, if your home is valued at $300,000, you’ll be paying about $105 a month for basic coverage.  The cost is likely to be higher in areas prone to hazards. 

Coverage for rebuilding or repairs after an earthquake or flood is usually not included in standard homeowners policies, so you may want to – or in the case of flood insurance, have to – buy a separate policy. 

If you’re buying with a mortgage, the lender will typically roll the cost of insurance into the monthly mortgage and will pay the premium on your behalf. 

Once you have a handle on what repairs are needed you can factor these into the cost of the house to determine the true cost of owning it, and compare the price to other homes that might not need so much work. 

Bibi’s Back! An Analysis of Netanyahu’s Return to the Helm

– Avi Kumar

In 2019, Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu replaced the legendary founder of the Jewish State, David Ben Gurion, as Israel’s longest-serving head of state, having held the position of Prime Minister from 1996-1999, and then from 2009-2019. When he was finally unseated last spring, many of his political rivals and adversaries triumphantly declared that the “Bibi era” had ended.  But after yet another election became necessary following the fall of the short-lived Bennet-Lapid coalition, Netanyahu has returned as Israel’s premier.

Israelis have gone to the polls five times in under four years due to a series of deadlocks, and flimsy coalition governments that did not survive.  Finally, this time around, a clear majority was won.  Netanyahu’s Likud party increased its parliamentary hold from 30 to 32 seats, while its presumed coalition partners – the Religious Zionist Party, Shas, and United Torah Judaism – won a total of 32 Knesset seats, assuring Netanyahu a majority of 64 out of 120 seats. November’s election brought 70 percent of Israelis to the polls – one of the highest turnouts in recent years – and they handed Netanyahu and his coalition partners a majority which eluded all candidates in the previous four elections, setting the stage for what will likely be a stable government that will rule for the next four years.

This is not the first time Bibi returned to the throne after having been unseated. Ehud Barak defeated Netanyahu after his first term in office, in 1999, but his government fell shortly thereafter, making him at the time the shortest-serving prime minister in Israeli history. This dubious distinction is now held by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, whose rotation-based government lasted just one year. Netanyahu has proven yet again that his contenders who succeed in overthrowing him end up failing to deliver and not lasting very long. 

What’s the secret? Why do Israelis keep Bibi in power?

Security Above All

Netanyahu’s popularity is likely due, in large measure, to his track record, to the relative security and prosperity that Israel has enjoyed under his leadership. Seventy-two-year-old Dror Kolton says, “Netanyahu is the only adult in the room among all the party leaders. He is a pragmatic right-winger, rather than an extremist, who gave us four peace agreements without compromising with the Palestinians, who have never had a formal state in their history. He also elevated Israel’s economy from a third-world socialist country to the hi-tech nation that it is today, which is helping its Middle-Eastern neighbors and the entire world to progress into the future – through innovative water purification methods and other technological innovations that the entire world uses each and every day. He also opened up Israel’s gates to India, Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, and beyond. We can and will continue to talk about his achievements for a long time.” 

With security threats always looming, Israelis trust Netanyahu’s knowledge, experience, and diplomatic acumen. Along Israel’s northern border, Iran threatens the Jewish State through its local proxy, Hezbollah, which exerts control in Lebanon. After outgoing PM Yair Lapid’s recent maritime agreement with Lebanon, Israel is now required to share with its hostile neighbor its valuable offshore gas field, which could conceivably fall into the hands of Hezbollah. It is estimated that the paramilitary group has over 150 000 missiles, substantially more than its arsenal during the disastrous 2006 Lebanon War. Such a large arsenal threatens to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system. By contrast, Netanyahu has historically opposed capitulating to Israel’s enemies. In 2005, when then PM Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza and expelled its Jewish residents, Netanyahu, who was his Finance Minister at the time, resigned in protest. As many right-wing Israelis feared, the withdrawal from Gaza resulted in the territory being taken over by Hamas, another Iranian proxy, which has since launched thousands of rockets towards Israel, and has burned thousands of dunams of valuable agricultural land by sending incendiary balloons across the border. Many Israelis prefer Netanyahu’s hardline approach, fearing that the Left’s willingness to compromise is too risky and reckless.

Bringing Real Peace

Netanyahu’s popularity has received a boost from the groundbreaking, wildly successful Abraham Accords which were declared under his leadership. Signed in September, 2020, the accords brought full normalization of relations with Sunni Arab states which previously did not even recognize Israel’s right to exist. Thus far, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco have established full relations with Israel – without requiring any transfer of territory or other assets, as did the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, and the 1994 treaty with Jordan.  By all accounts, the Abraham Accords have brought great benefit to the Jewish State without any dangerous or costly compromises.

Rachel Avraham from Jerusalem told Community Magazine, “It is good that we have Netanyahu simply because we have a very precarious situation and Bibi is the only leader who can keep us safe from threats like Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc. He pushed forward the Abraham Accords and built good relationships with many Arab and Muslim countries. He is very much a democratic leader. Despite what the opposition says, he has a diverse cabinet and those who call him a ‘racist,’ ‘fascist,’ etc. have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.”  

The current state of the Israeli Left also contributed to Netanyahu’s electoral success.  The far-left Meretz party fell beneath the minimum threshold of four seats, thus losing its representation in the Knesset.  The Labor Party, which dominated Israel’s political landscape for decades, has sharply declined, winning only four seats – which is now the sum total of the Left’s representation in the Israeli parliament. (Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party describes itself as centrist.)  Netanyahu also capitalized on the inability of the Arab parties to merge, resulting in the Balad party falling short of the minimum threshold and thus being excluded from the Knesset. 

The election results show the trend among Israelis to move away from the Left’s vision of a Palestinian State in the West Bank, living peacefully alongside Israel. The right wing is increasingly seen as more pragmatic and realistic in its handling of the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.

Jeremy Corcos from Bnei Barak says, “This is the first time in history where we Jews have a place to go to that has a strong army that can defend us – this is nothing short of utopic for our people. And we have nowhere else to go in case the situation gets really out of control. This is why we need a good leader. As for the way the Left wants to prosecute him – his voters think it’s just a political ‘witch hunt.’ I personally don’t care at all if he gets cigars, or other gifts and perks as long as he does the job well. And so far, he has delivered!” 

Steering the Nation Forward

Netanyahu’s career as Prime Minister is peppered with numerous iconic moments. In 2014, he brazenly and fiercely opposed then President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran in a memorable speech to Congress in 2014, debunking conventional wisdom that an Israeli leader cannot survive without bending the knee to a U.S. President. From 2016-2020, he enjoyed President Donald Trump’s nearly unconditional, enthusiastic support, as well as that of other right-wing world leaders such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and India’s Narendra Modi. 

With rising anti-Semitism in the West, and unrest plaguing Ethiopia and Ukraine, Israel saw a 128 percent increase in aliyah this year.  But immigration increased also from France and the United States, attesting to the fact that Israel is seen as an attractive option even for Jews in prosperous Western countries.  The Israeli economy, which Netanyahu has led for much of the last two decades – first as Finance Minister, and then as Prime Minister – has grown in leaps and bounds, drawing the interest and attention of Jews – and investors – the world over.

As President Isaac Herzog grants the 73-year-old Netanyahu the mandate to form the next government, we can only hope that he continues to steer the nation forward into the post-Abraham Accords era, cementing Israel’s place as a world leader in security and technology, and that the people of Israel will enjoy the peace and stability that they desperately want. 

The Hanukah Battle in Our Times

LEON SAKKAL  

Hanukah celebrates our victory of the few over the many, the triumph of the holy over the profane, the difficult fight against assimilation, and of course, the miracle of the pach shemen, the jug of oil. But what Hanukah ultimately represents is hope, something we need now more than ever.  

We live in an era with increasing hostility to our religious values, but this is not the first time in our history that the world has looked bleak. In fact, when studying the history of the Jewish people during the period of Hanukah, we can find striking similarities between then and now.  

Contrary to what some believe, the objective of the Yevanim (Greeks) was not to exterminate us. Rather, the Yevanim were determined to take away our spirituality; and to degrade us and our Torah.  They wanted to turn us into mundane beings, who focused only on the physical.  

How is that similar to what is happening today?  

While a mighty empire may not be seeking our spiritual downfall as in the story of Hanukah, today’s enemy is far more enigmatic and perhaps is even more powerful than the mighty Greeks. What we must fight now is our own obsession with modern day culture, with its emphasis on materialism, and that which is transient.  

Take a look at popular culture. We live in a world that is dictated to by social media, where many are addicted to their smart phones and electronic devices.  We are bombarded on all sides with messages that call on us to integrate into the liberal popular culture. We have come to embrace the ideas, ideals, and values of today’s fast-paced Western lifestyle.  However, this all serves to distance us from our Creator, His Torah, and a life of spirituality. Modern Western culture should be seen as the new Yevanim. Proponents of Western culture are engaged in a ruthless war to convert us to their way of thinking.  

Are we even conscious of this ongoing war that our nation faces every day? Do we know that we are in a war zone that claims the spiritual lives of thousands of Jews across the globe daily? Perhaps it is time for a reality check:  

Rising intermarriage rates indicate that Jewish values and beliefs are in danger.  So, we must take a look at our own lives.  We must examine honestly how we are doing when it comes to preserving Jewish values and beliefs.  We need to ask ourselves if we need to increase our commitment to prayer and to Torah study.  

We can feel a deep sense of despair and hopelessness when we realize the lost battles within our nation. Jews in our days assimilate in many ways, some subtle, and some dramatic, such as the ultimate act of assimilation, intermarriage. We must confront our own spiritual battles, as well. Our emunah is weaker than it was in the time of Hanukah, our will has been diminished, our defenses depleted, and apathy is rampant. The winter’s gray skies and gloomy weather certainly do not help motivate us to pick ourselves up and “recharge.”  

Then along comes Hanukah. We are granted the opportunity to remember and to reflect. We remember how Hashem miraculously saved us from the Yevanim, and we reflect on our own lives, and how Hashem continues to help us today.  We kindle the holiday lights to lift us out of our despair, to reignite our hope, and to remind us just Who is running the show.  

 Like the relief we feel upon seeing the dawn after a long, dark, and lonely night, Hanukah shines its light on the darkness of our souls and on the plight of our people.  

 “We are the future; come join us,” Greek civilization beckoned – and many Jews did. But a small band of Jews led by the Maccabeem rose up in protest. 

Their battle seemed hopeless. How could a ragtag Jewish army possibly prevail against the mighty Greeks? How could an “old-fashioned” religion compete against modernity and humanism? And yet, with Hashem holding our hands, we persevered and won.  

 We need to be as valiant in battle as we once were. Hanukah is a time to remember that we are not alone in our fight. Current events show that our people and our homeland are in danger.  Just look at the current rampant anti-Semitism.  Yet we remember that Gd is there throughout the darkness. We know that just as He looked after us at the time of Hanukah so long ago, He will continue to look after us now.  

Chef Shiri – Rösti-Styled Potato Latkes

Kids – See if you have what it takes to become a Junior Chef!

Adult Supervision Required

Utensils Needed:

Saucepan

Colander

Grater

Large bowl

Dish towel

Fork

Large frying pan

Metal spoon

Spatula

Knife

Ingredients:

4 medium-sized russet potatoes, about 2 pounds, peeled

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Makes 8 Latkes!

Let’s Get Started!

Caution: ADULT ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED

  1. Cut the potatoes in half and boil them in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 7 minutes. Then drain the water and let cool.
  2. Coarsely grate the potatoes into a bowl.
  3. Transfer the potatoes onto a clean dish towel.
  4. Use the dish towel to squeeze out any excess liquid, which would make the latke soggy. Then, add salt and pepper and mix lightly with a fork.
  5. ** Ask an adult to help you with the remaining steps of this recipe.

Heat half the oil in a large frying pan and let it begin to sizzle.

  1. Shape spoonfuls of the grated potato mixture into round cakes ½ inch thick and place four of them into the pan.
  2. Gently fry the latkes until golden brown and crisp underneath (between 5 to 10 minutes). Then turn the latkes over with a spatula, and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until browned on the other side.
  3. Remove from pan and keep warm while cooking the rest of the mixture in the remaining oil.

Buzz the Brachos Bee

When you say a berachah, you must say it loud enough to hear your own words.

Rösti-Styled Potato Latkes

Available at Artscroll.com and at all Judaica Stores.

Chef Shiri Says… 

Get creative and combine the potato with other delicious vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, or beets!

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Technically the word rosti means “crisp and golden” and refers to foods sautéed until crisp and browned. Rosti (pronounced RAW-stee or ROOSH-tee) is a Swiss potato dish perhaps best described as a cross between hash browns and a potato pancake.

From the Files of the Mitzvah Man – What are the chances?

One Thursday afternoon, not long ago, the Mitzvah Man received a call from an organization that helps battered women. 

The caller told the Mitzvah Man, “We have a single frum woman with two children who were just evicted from their home. All their belongings were locked up in the apartment. Our organization is putting the mom and her two kids into a shelter, but they have nothing. They need cots, clothing, pajamas, underwear, blankets, pillows, health and cosmetic products, and other miscellaneous items. Our organization cannot supply these. Might the Mitzvah Man Organization be able to help?” 

The Mitzvah Man answered, “I see the urgency. Let me try to figure out how we can help.” 

At 6:30pm the Mitzvah Man went to pray Minha at Park Avenue Synagogue in Long Branch.  His mind had been racing for over two hours, thinking about how he was possibly going to be able to help. As is his custom, he turned to Hashem, the ultimate Helper. The Mitzvah Man has seen time and again, in the most difficult situations, that salvation comes with tremendous Divine Providence. 

Just in time for Minha, a man named Raymond walked into the Park Avenue Synagogue.  He owns 15 discount stores that sell all the products that were needed.  

Right after prayers concluded, the Mitzvah Man approached Raymond. He began, “Raymond, we have a single mom with two kids going into a shelter. They need everything: cots, blankets, pillows, clothing, health, and cosmetic products, and more. Can you help?” 

Raymond replied, “Send me the full list needed. I’ll have EVERYTHING delivered to the shelter tomorrow.” 

The Mitzvah Man was incredulous. He stated, “What are the chances I’m going to run into Raymond or anyone that has all these goods? Who’s willing to donate them all? Who’s willing to send it the very next day? No charge?! 

“We should consider: what are the chances of Hashem providing all the good we have in our lives? What we have is only because HASHEM is shipping us goods, health, money, and many blessings all day long.” 

“Thank you, HASHEM!

Dear Jido – December 2022

Dear Jido, 

I’ve lived in my condo in Florida for about ten years, enjoying the privacy and anonymity of a simple nod and smile to my neighbors.  

Recently, a new neighbor jumped over my comfort line. I believe this person is just an aggressive extrovert. But after our initial, “Hello,” the situation became a nightmare for me. 

We don’t have a “conversation,” as it’s more of a monologue. Whenever this person sees me, it begins. Before I can even say that I’m in a hurry, this person is already half-way into many monologues. 

The topics are always about everyone else in the building – people I don’t know or care to know. There’s never a natural break, so I’m often stuck there for long periods of time, feeling trapped.  

It’s become so bad that if I see that this person’s in the parking lot, I drive on and wait it out. I’m angry that this person has pushed themselves into my life. 

I’m frustrated that my home and my safe place have become a virtual prison. I don’t want to live like this but I don’t know how to handle it. 

Do you have any suggestions? 

Signed, 

Trapped 

Dear Trapped, 

Sounds to me like this person is a very lonely extrovert. If I had to guess, I would say that you’re probably not his/her only victim. 

You could try a direct approach – “You know, you talk a lot, don’t you ever stop?” but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that, unless you’re prepared for a punch in the nose. 

Instead, a harsh truth can also be said gently, thereby earning respect and possible acceptance.

Try this, the next time he/she pauses to take a breath, put your hand up and signal, “One minute.”  Then say, “You’ve said a lot of things about people that I like and I’m usually very careful about saying negative things about people – it’s part of my religion.”

Will he/she get the hint?  Possibly not. In that case try one of the following: 

  1. “I’m not really a morning/evening person, so I’m not much for conversation now. See you another time.”
  2. “Oooh, there’s something I wanted to tell you, but I have to run to the bathroom. Maybe later.” (If, heaven forbid, they call and remind you that you wanted to say something, shrug it off and say it wasn’t important.)
  3. “Just got home from work, gotta rest. Maybe later.”
  4. “You’ve given me a lot to think about. Gotta go.”

Realize that an extrovert needs to talk. Some people take it to an extreme. .He/she will probably never acknowledge that you are running away from them but sooner or later, if you keep on backing away “politely,” they’ll accept a little wave hello and go on to find someone else who is willing to listen.

Jido