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Once Upon a Thyme – Salmon Burgers with Roasted Garlic

I love salmon, but I’m not sure my family feels the same. Every time I make salmon for dinner I
wind up with more leftover fillets than I can possibly eat for lunch the next day. This recipe
brilliantly uses cooked salmon to make delicious burgers that my family enjoys. If your family is
passionate about salmon like I am and there’s no leftover cooked salmon, you may need to
make a fresh batch for these burgers.
 

½ cup canola oil
24 cloves garlic cloves, cut lengthwise
1 lb cooked and flaked salmon filets
1 cup panko crumbs
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp mustard
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
½ finely diced onion
1 egg
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
6 brioche buns
Lemon wedges and chopped parsley for serving
 

DIRECTIONS 

  1. Heat oil in a pan and sauté garlic halves until slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oil and set aside. Save pan and oil for cooking the burgers.
  2. In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients (besides for buns) and form into 6 patties. Set
    aside. 
  3. Heat oil again and cook each burger 2-3 min each side. Add another tbsp of oil if
    needed.
    4. To serve, place salmon burger inside the bun and top with garlic cloves and parsley. Serve with lemon wedges. 

Remembering Charles Saka, a Baal Hesed and Visionary Leader

On April 22nd, Mr. Charlie Saka, Yeshaya Ben Laura, a”h, passed away at the age of 80, surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by Brenda, his wife of 57 years, and his children Sammy, Raymond, Jeffrey, Laurie (Mizrachi), Sally (Cohen), their spouses, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. 

Many rabbis, friends, and family members spoke at Charlie’s levaya and arayat. I apologize if I did not acknowledge all who contributed to this article or if I misunderstood any of the remarks.  

Remembering a Man of Hesed Who Loved His Fellow Jews 

Charlie Saka lived his life to the fullest, devoting himself completely and lovingly to Hashem, to the community, to doing hesed, and to his family.  

It is difficult to adequately pay tribute to a man who was called “a giant” and who left us with a tremendous legacy. He was a man who left abundant gifts and a remarkable mark on the community.  

Sammy, his oldest son said, “My father, of blessed memory, dedicated his entire life to helping others. No cause was ever too small, and no voice overlooked. Everyone who knew him loved him. He had a special way of connecting with every person that he encountered. My father will be greatly missed for his genuine leadership and will forever remain a shining example to all.” 

Charlie Saka was of Syrian descent. He was a student of his community and had amazing knowledge about its history and he loved to share it.  

Remembering a Man of Action 

He was warm, friendly, and outgoing. He was a man of action, a fundraising master, a blessing to his family, community, and to klal Yisrael. He was a man who had his hand in everything that was hesed and community related.  

With his loving life partner Brenda by his side, he lived and breathed the mitzvah of, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He believed that all Jews are responsible for each other.   

Mr. Saka’s dedication to hesed and the community has already impacted generations. He and Brenda inspired their children, leading by example. Their sons and daughters and families are following in their footsteps. Devoting themselves on the path of Torah, mitzvot, and community service. They are all active leaders of various community institutions, including Congregation Magen David of West Deal, Hillel Yeshiva, Sephardic Bikur Holim, and DSN Community Center. They saw their father doing hesed every day and refer to him as their hero.  

Charlie Saka was a humanitarian and a philanthropist. He worked to establish the Magen David Synagogue complex near his home in West Deal, New Jersey, which includes buildings for both religious and social occasions.  He was the Chairman of the Board of the synagogue at the time of his passing. He worked to sustain and expand Hillel Yeshiva, and was instrumental in the building of the DSN Community Center in the heart of the Jersey Shore. He continually gave both his time and financial support and helped thousands of people across the world.  

Professionally, Charlie Saka was a self-made man and is recognized as the visionary leader who built Sakar International into a global consumer electronics and accessories company. 

The Levaya – Honoring Charlie Saka  

Charlie Saka passed away on the seventh day of Pesach, the time of Kiryat Yam Suf, the night of many miracles. In the months preceding his death, there was a community outpouring of love, support, concern, prayers, and learning for him. His funeral took place the day after Pesach ended, Isru Chag. Rabbi Saul Kassin of Congregation Magen David explained that there are no eulogies of crying during the month of Nissan, and would therefore be postponed to Shloshim. Instead, those in attendance would learn about the great life of a giant of the community, not in the form of a eulogy.  

Rabbi Kassin shared a pasuk from Tehillim. “The days of our lives are 70 but by reason of strength they may be 80. “Charlie Saka lived those exact 80 years. When I think of Charlie, I think of inner strength.”  

Once Charlie Saka set out to do something, he saw things to the end, despite any stumbling blocks. His strength allowed him to accomplish all he did.  

Charlie Saka’s was a dedicated and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He expressed pride and gratitude for how his wife, children, and their spouses were there for him in his time of need. 

After his family, there was nothing he loved more than the synagogue. He worked tirelessly for 43 years for his shul. He lived the pasuk, “Make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell within.”  

Charlie talked about the shul wherever he went and made sure that the shul and Torah Center were beautifully equipped. He demonstrated that the shul was the community’s home, and everything was chosen with the utmost care and dedication to Hashem. 

This Is My Gd, and I Will Glorify Him. (Shemot 15:2) 

Charlie beautified the sanctuary in a dignified manner. His son-in-law Eddie Cohen said that his father-in-law lived by example, l’shem Shamayim. He possessed vision, and helped the community flourish. With Hashem’s help, “The shul is the house that Charlie Saka built.” There was no job too big or small for him – from fundraising millions of dollars for the building projects, to printing each plaque, to even picking up garbage on his way to shul. He was truly hands-on, in every aspect of the shul . Before he passed away, he asked Rabbi Kassin to continue to make the shul a shining star. According to his close friend, Maurice Zalta, Charlie’s blood ran through the pipes of the shul. When Maurice moved to West Deal, Charlie befriended him and got him involved with the shul and its expansion.  

Rabbi Yosef Galimidi of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in Aventura, spoke of Charlie’s many middot and tremendous leadership qualities. He loved peace, Torah, and his community. Charlie passed away, but his spirit, legacy, and lessons survive. He built the training ground and inspired his children to be leaders.  

One of Charlie Saka’s greatest projects was the English translation of the Yalkut Yosef, a halachic work written by Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, based on the rulings of Rabbi Yosef’s father, the former Rishon LeTzion, Hacham Ovadia Yosef, zt”l. Charlie’s son Raymond joined in this endeavor. The entire family traveled to Israel in 2007 and celebrated the dedication of the books.  

Raymond said, “Dad passed these lessons on to us by living them every day. During daily commutes together back and forth to work in Edison, we watched and learned how he got things done for the community. Phone call after phone call, he wouldn’t quit until he got the results he wanted. From this we learned that quitting is never an option. When we start a job, we finish it.  

Charlie’s Roots  

Charlie’s friends described him as a regular guy from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He went to Magen David Yeshiva and always had a stickball in his hand. At 12 he was delivering groceries on his bicycle and doing whatever he could to earn money. Hard work was instilled in him from a very young age. Charlie went into business with his father and opened their first electronics store. He considered his life complete when he met and married Brenda in 1965 and started their family.  

Given that Charlie was buried right after Pesach, Rabbi Shlomo Diamond talked about Bnei Yisrael having a slave mentality. They were afraid to leave Egypt, yet they had the potential to grow. He equated Charlie’s growth to that of the Israelites. Charlie grew from being a regular guy from Brooklyn into a great leader, building a wonderful family and community, and doing hesed every day. His hallmark was his determination and persistence.  

Charlie’s birth was a miracle. His mother was told she could not have children. And then Hashem sent Charlie! He overcame childhood adversities. Tragically, his mother died when he was a young boy. At eight, Charlie was struck by a car and was in a coma for a week. When he came out of it, he did not dwell on the adversity he suffered. He went on to achieve great things, despite setbacks.  

Acts of Loving Kindness  

“Acts of kindness are greater than charity since they can be done for both the rich and poor… Charity can only be done with one’s money, while acts of loving kindness can be performed both personally and with one’s money.”– Rambam (Hilchos Aivel 14:1)  

Charlie exemplified a man who did acts of loving kindness. His son Jeffrey said, “My dad reminds me of Avraham Avinu, who overcame many challenges and tests in his life. Avraham exemplified hachnasat orchim. People gravitated towards him, he was a man of action, ran to do mitzvot, and was the forefather of our nation. We know that Hashem loved Avraham. There’s a pasuk in Parashat Vayera that says, ‘For I have loved him because he commands his children and household after him that they keep the way of Hashem through charity and justice.’ As I review my dad’s life story and the values he instilled in us, it is very clear that everything we are is because of our parents. All of their hard work and determination on behalf of the community is always le’Shem Shamiyim. We have been so fortunate to have been raised in that environment, wanting to always give back, and it has had a dramatic impact on each of us.”  

Charlie Saka was a humble, honest, caring, and generous man. He had an infectious smile and was a great role model for all of us. He was not pretentious, and he asked for advice of others.   

If someone was in the hospital, Charlie did his best to pay a visit. He regularly paid shiva calls, always speaking about the person who passed away and comforting their families with stories about their loved one. 

Private Acts of Hesed 

Charlie loaned people money privately. He helped people starting out in business with credit and merchandise. The shul was able to expand without worry. Charlie personally guaranteed each project with his own money until all the money was raised.  

Charlie often helped families to pay for weddings. He believed people should live with dignity, and as such, he gave tzedaka behind the scenes and helped financially challenged individuals find employment.   

Respect for Rabbis and Chachamim 

Charlie had tremendous derech eretz towards his rabbis. His daughter Sally Cohen recalled the deliberations Charlie made when choosing a comfortable chair at Staples for the rabbis’ offices. This past summer, her parents embarked on their latest project, building new offices for the rabbis of our shul.  

Sally told of her father inviting hachamim and dignitaries to the home as if it was a normal occurrence. He always said, “We are standing on the shoulders of the giants that came before us.” He instilled in his family a love of their Sephardic heritage and he taught the community how to be givers. 

A Builder Who Served Hashem 

Rabbi Edmond Nahum of the Deal Shul spoke about the zechut Charlie had to help build beautiful shuls and yeshivot. He compared Charlie to Avraham who created an angel, a malach with every zechut he performed.  

Rabbi Eli Mansour likened Charlie Saka to the biblical cedar trees. “He was a towering figure, unstoppable, and kept on going. He was a tzaddik – motivated, propelled to do good l’Shem Shamayim, and serve Hashem with no secret agenda.”  

Charlie and Brenda helped to build the Sephardic Social Center on the shul grounds. Over 200 seniors come daily to relax, have lunch, and play cards. They make sure everyone is comfortable and happy every day.  

Charlie’s Daughter Laurie Remembers 

Charlie’s son-in-law Marc Mizrachi said people could not say no to Charlie, and he left a lasting impression wherever he went, helping people in so many ways. Marc shared some of his wife Laurie’s thoughts. Laurie was the first daughter after three sons, and she said that her father always made her feel so special. He valued religion above all else, carrying a sefer Torah and organizing minyanim wherever we traveled. “My father made the impossible possible. He taught that we need to be an example for our community and for others. From when we were all very young, our parents encouraged our community activities and supported us in so many ways, with whatever we chose to get involved with. My father inspired each of us to go after what we felt passionate about and provided us with encouragement and motivation to accomplish our goals.” 

Rabbi Kassin’s Parting Words 

Charlie was generous and enjoyed giving. He also took pleasure in making sure people were comfortable. When Rabbi Kassin moved to the community, Charlie made sure he and his family had everything they needed.  

Rabbi Kassin offered these heartfelt words, “Dear Charlie, leich b’shalom, go in peace. Thank you for being my partner, we made a great team, and we did things l’Shem Shamayim. With Hashem’s help, I will continue our work with your children and grandchildren.”   

“You and Brenda were a dynamic duo. We must learn how to treat our spouses from you and Brenda. Brenda, you were his ezer kinegdo, his strength, his confidante, his everything.” 

Those interested in sharing their thoughts, memories, and condolences are encouraged to email CharlieSakaLegacy@gmail.com.  

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach. Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching. Ellen is active in her community and is currently the Vice-President of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights. She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com (www.lifecoachellen.com

Chef Shiri – Strawberry Supreme Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 (14-ounce) bag frozen strawberries

1½ cups milk

1 cup orange juice

2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 heaping spoon ground hemp seed

 

Utensils Needed:

Measuring cup and spoons

Blender

Table knife

Cutting board

6 drinking glasses

 

Let’s Get Started!

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pour the orange juice into the blender.

2. Use the table knife to cut the strawberries in half on the cutting board.

3. Add the milk, yogurt, and cut strawberries to the blender.

4. Add the ground hemp seed in the blender.

5. Cover the blender tightly with the lid. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth.

6. Pour the smoothies into the glasses — and enjoy!

Makes 6 Smoothies!

 

Chef Shiri Says…

Experts say that drinking a healthy smoothie at night could help you sleep better.

Why Fast on the 17th of Tammuz?

The fast of shiva asar b’Tammuz begins the mourning period known as “The Three Weeks.” On the 17th of Tammuz, the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and three weeks later, the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed.  It is instructive to delve deeper into the purpose of fasting, in order to enter into this sad period with the appropriate state of mind.  

The Purposes of Fasting 

The Ben Ish Chai, zt”l, writes that there are two main purposes of fasting.  The first reason is fairly apparent – that fasting diverts a person from physical involvement so that he can focus on more spiritual matters.  His second reason is a little less obvious. He explains that when a person fasts, he feels hungry and endures considerable discomfort.  By placing himself in such a predicament, he can come to a greater appreciation of the constant hunger and discomfort that a poor person faces throughout his life.  This increased awareness will heighten his feelings of pity for the poor man’s situation, and will motivate him to offer greater assistance to his unfortunate fellow. 

The Ben Ish Chai applies this explanation to clarify an enigmatic gemara in Brachot.  The gemara tells us, “The reward for fasting is charity.”  The Ben Ish Chai explains that the gemara is telling us that as a consequence of fasting a person will give more charity.  His very act of fasting will cause him to be more caring about the poor people whom he constantly encounters, and accordingly he will want to help them to a greater degree.  

It is possible to add that fasting has another benefit related to doing kindness with those less fortunate than oneself.  As well as causing a person to give more abundantly, it enables him to improve his giving in a qualitative fashion.  By temporarily placing oneself in a situation similar to that of the poor person, he is able to show a far greater sense of understanding for his fellow’s desperate situation.  When the giver shows that he truly empathizes with the receiver, then the act of giving becomes a far greater act of kindness. 

The Importance of a Friendly Attitude  

The Siftei Chaim explains an Avot d’Rebbi Nosson in this vein.  It says, “One should greet every man with a friendly countenance… if a person gives to his friend all the gifts in the world, but his face is sullen, it is considered as if he gave nothing. But one who greets his fellow with a friendly countenance, even if he gave him no gifts, it is considered as if he gave him all the best gifts in the world.”  

The Siftei Chaim writes that what people want more than anything is for others to show an interest in them and to care about them.  A gift is merely an indication that the giver thought about the needs of his fellow and considered how to give him joy.  However, without an accompanying show of warmth, the main purpose of the gift is lost, because the person does not feel as if he is being genuinely cared about.  In contrast, when a person is friendly to his fellow, even without giving any gifts, then he is providing his fellow with his main need, the desire to feel cared about.  

A person who gives charity with a friendly attitude is giving much more than money. He is nourishing the poor man with a sense of importance by showing that he is cared about.  Similarly, when the poor man feels that his fellow truly relates to his pain, then he feels a great deal of comfort that someone truly understands and cares about his plight

Understanding One’s Fellow’s Plight

Rav Shach, zt”l, excelled in doing kindness by showing an understanding of his fellow’s challenges.  On one occasion Rav Shach heard about a widower who was depressed to the point that he stopped functioning.   Rav Shach decided to visit the man in an attempt to bring him out of his depression.  Receiving no response to his knock, Rav Shach let himself in, and found the man lying motionless on the couch. “I know what you are going through,” Rav Shach said to the man.  “I’m also a widower.  My world is dark and I have no joy.”  The man’s eyes lit up for the first time in months. This encounter was the catalyst of the man’s resumption of a normal life.  What was Rav Shach’s secret? By stressing that he too experienced the feelings of losing a spouse, he showed the man that somebody truly understood his pain. 

 

In this instance, the giver had first-hand experience of being in the receiver’s situation.  When one is fortunate enough not to endure the same difficulty, he must adapt the lesson of the Ben Ish Chai and try to somehow place himself in a state where he can somewhat relate to his fellow’s plight.  Rav Noach Orlowek, shlit”a, applies this lesson to help people empathize with those who lose family members through some kind of tragedy.  He suggests that when one hears about such a tragedy he should spend a short time thinking about how he would feel if this happened to someone close to him.  In this way, one can develop a far greater sense of empathy with those who suffer tragedy. 

This lesson of fasting is particularly relevant to “The Three Weeks.” Chazal say that the Second Beit HaMikdash was destroyed because of failings in the area of bein adam lechaveiro.  A failure to empathize with the situation of one’s fellow is one of the main causes for such flaws.  It is far easier for a person to harm others when he has no sensitivity to the pain that he causes them.  The Ben Ish Chai teaches us that fasting can be an effective way of eroding one’s apathy for his fellow Jews.  May we utilize the fast of shiva asar b’Tammuz to improve our conduct in bein adam lechaveiro. 

One on One with Elana Shemueli

Please meet Elana Anteby Shemueli, a vibrant teacher at her alma mater, Ilan High School.  Born to Susan and Max Anteby, Elana is one of six daughters. She grew up in Brooklyn, attended Magen David Yeshivah for elementary school, and went to Ilan High School in Deal, New Jersey.   

What was Elana like as a child?  Though she was not always an easy child, she was definitely entertaining. “My family fondly remembers ‘The My Show,’ in which I used to sing and dance for my parents and sisters.  My best friend, who is now my sister-in-law, and I spent hours making up songs and dances.” 

Academically, Elana loved learning and was an extremely conscientious student. 

After high school, Elana enrolled in The New Seminary in conjunction with Adelphi University, a dual program, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Social Sciences.  

Elana’s Essence  

Elana is an introspective and growth-oriented woman who works at having strong emunah in Hashem. She continually endeavors to change for the better.  “I am a hard worker but not a perfectionist. I am still growing and trying!  I have learned to do my absolute best, but I leave the results up to Hashem.”  Her passions are family, teaching, and dance and her children are her proudest accomplishments. 

Elana married her naseeb, Avi Shemueli, at the end of her first year of college.  The couple lives in the Deal community with their children and they love it there!   

Career  

Elana’s calling was teaching. Even as a little girl she knew that she wanted to teach.  

“I played school until I was embarrassingly old. I love learning and knowing information, and sharing knowledge about the world, and about people. I mostly love teaching my students about our awesome relationship with Hashem. I love when they can relate back, how they were able to apply a life lesson during an experience in their own lives.” 

Elana teaches psychology, Navi, and science. She also coordinates programming including Shabbatons, grade wars, and the end-of-the-year banquets. “I seriously treasure my job. I adore the staff, the students, and the atmosphere.” 

Elana’s teachers from her own high school days are now her colleagues. They were her role models, who taught by example, and they were always smiling.  “My Ilan teachers were so passionate about their lives and their connection to Torah and Hashem.  They made me want to live that same kind of life,” Elana relates 

The Pandemic 

Elana found it challenging to relate to her students emotionally on Zoom.  She and her colleagues tried their best to teach the curriculum.  Covid’s silver lining for Elana was that   she was inspired to develop her dance business.  

LETSDANCE 

Elana first started LETSDANCE as a way of celebrating her daughter’s bat mitzvah during the pandemic. “We couldn’t think of how else to celebrate with just close family, and it was such a novel idea that I decided to launch it for the community girls.” 

 

Elana explained that her dance parties serve as a kosher outlet for young girls and even moms!  “When you experience a dance party, it is intrinsically rewarding. The workout boosts endorphins, it’s social, the moves are cool, and you leave feeling like a rock star even if you never thought of yourself as a dancer before.” 

LETSDANCE offers two options: 1) Private dance parties serve as the entertainment for a party, school event, or get together and 2) Pop-up dance parties, where Elana will host a dance party, and anyone can reserve a spot and join.  For each dance party, Elana  chooses a song and teaches an entire dance routine in just an hour, breaking down the moves step by step.  The moves are contemporary yet modest.  She tailors the dance routines to the level of the participants. 

“I only use Jewish music with a high-energy beat and with a kosher message. They are hard to find. Girls send me songs, which is so appreciated.” 

In the beginning, Elana was embarrassed to dance in front of her students. She feared that her students would lose respect for her in the classroom. “I was so wrong. It has only deepened our relationships.” 

Work-Family Balance 

Elana’s husband and children are extremely supportive and involved with her Ilan job and with LETSDANCE. 

“They support me one million percent. I couldn’t function without their help and encouragement, especially my husband’s.  He views my teaching job as extremely important, and he sacrifices a lot for me to be able to invest myself in teaching and my relationship with my students.” 

Elana’s husband helps her with her Torah classes and her kids lend a hand in hosting the girls for Shabbatons and other events.  “My children love the students and get to know them, so they are happy with my job.” 

Elana shared that dance has become a great addition to her home. “My girls love practicing with me, coming to my dance parties, learning the dances, and watching the dance videos. My husband and older kids babysit a lot at night when I do dance parties but are pleased for me.” 

One may ask, how does Elana manage everything? She says, “Although it’s challenging to juggle working with being a wife and mother, with Hashem’s help, I’ve developed routines and systems to manage my time and energy.”      

Community and Hobbies 

Elana deeply cherishes her community. 

“Our community is magnificent. Everyone respects each other regardless of their financial status and religious level.” 

Elana teaches young married Ilan alumna through Kesher, an organization that fosters a continued connection between high school graduates and their teachers. 

Elana loves to exercise and takes dance fitness classes, which feel therapeutic. 

She explained that her dancing is essential for her and truly makes her happy.  Even when she is overwhelmed, she carves out time to dance.  “Dancing is the key to my happiness and makes me feel well taken care of.  It gives me the fortification and energy to undertake challenges and do much more.  When you feel happy, it’s so much easier to grow and to connect to Hashem.” 

Applying the guidance of Rabbi David Ashear, the renowned author of the Living Emunah series, Elana and her students developed a joke-turned-motto for life: “Eat, sleep, exercise, and read Living Emunah.” 

Elana’s Message for Prospective Teachers 

Elana draws upon Rabbi Trenk (Just Love Them, Rabbi Dovid Trenk’s biography by Yisroel Besser) in defining her perspective on teaching.  “If you can relate to your students as unique people, not just as classroom students, you will develop a beautiful relationship with them that makes them want to learn from you, no matter the subject. Some of my science topics are so boring, and yet the girls are excited and interested because they know how excited I am to be able to share the bond of learning and growing together.” 

To connect with Elana and to book private events, you can reach her on her cell, 917-214-6840. She welcomes you to follow her WhatsApp status (using her cell #) to sign up for Pop-Up Dance Parties.

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching. She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).

Riddles – July 2022

Riddle: A Timely Matter

Submitted by: Nathan P.

Among timepieces, sundials have the fewest moving parts. Which timepiece has the most moving parts?

 

Last Month’s Riddle: Letter Sequence

Guess the next three letters in the series GTNTL.

Solution: I, T, S. The complete sequence is the first letter of every word in the sentence.

Solved by: Yehoshua Y., The Ades Family, Joshua Harari, Big Mike, and Sol Tawil.

 

Junior Riddle: Water Works

Submitted by: Sarah T. .

The water level in a reservoir is low, but doubles every day. It takes 60 days to fill the reservoir. How long does it take for the reservoir to become half full?

 

Last Month’s Junior Riddle: Brain Teaser

Who is bigger: Mr. Bigger, Mrs. Bigger, or their baby?

Solution: The baby, because he is a little bigger.

Solved by: Rose W., Jennifer Gindi, Family Blum, Haim S., Bella Swed, Gail B., and The Shmulster.

For the Sake of Heaven

An Inside ArtScroll interview with Rabbi Meyer Yedid upon the release of the biography of his father, Hacham Yom Tob Yedid, zt”l 

Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger: There’s so much to talk about in this book. It encompasses so much history, your father’s fascinating life, his strength of character, and how he raised a community. Can you give us a brief background of who he was? 

Rabbi Meyer Yedid: My father was a great man. He had a history different than most rabbis these days. He was born in Aleppo, Syria, at a time when the community had thousands of families, but people were starting to move out to the West. Even at a young age, he connected to Torah learning and stayed in the bet midrash. It wasn’t very popular for a young man to stay in learning, but he did. His entire family eventually moved to Israel, but he stayed alone. He continued learning with his rebbi, Rabbi Moshe Tawil. He had a strong mind and dedicated himself to Torah Learning. 

Rabbi Hisiger: Where were you born? 

Rabbi Yedid: I was born in Syria, but 50 years later. My father wasn’t really a person of words. He never spoke much about where and how he grew up. So this book really opens up the history, not only of his life, but of the community’s. Even for someone like me who was born there, I didn’t really know most of it until I read the book. 

Rabbi Hisiger: The author, Mrs. Devorah Gliksman, worked five years on this book. It’s not just a documentation of his life. It’s about the entire community in this very specific time period. There’s so much intrigue and drama, and as the reader goes from page to page, they won’t want to put it down. 

One of the things that I noticed in the book is that your father was a loving, caring person, but he was a real “kana’i.” Did you know him as that tough, strongminded individual?  

Rabbi Yedid: With his family, he wasn’t really like that. You saw that he was strongminded, but he really let us be. I always tell my chassanim that my father got involved in our lives when we were young, but once we got married, he was hands-off. He never told us what to do. Looking back, that was part of his chochmah. He understood that it’s important to take a step back and let us find our way. 

Rabbi Hisiger: I think that’s even more incredible to hear, because as you read the book, you see that he clearly possessed an unbelievable strength of character to stand up and do what’s right, even when he was alone in Syria. You are a rabbi today of Shaare Zion, a large congregation, Can you imagine doing some of the things he did? 

Rabbi Yedid: Most definitely not! You have to remember that it was a different world and a completely different community. One man had to run the entire show – the schools, shechitah, milah, all halachic questions, and so on. It was a tremendous responsibility. 

Rabbi Hisiger: You speak about how after your father was niftar, you found many of his writings. How did he do that without many resources in Syria? 

Rabbi Yedid: You’re right. They had the basics, but there was no kollel of 100 people learning. It’s amazing that he had the time and ability to write books upon books on every subject, especially with the responsibility of the community on his shoulders. 

Rabbi Hisiger: There’s a story in the book about the time your father made a group of students swear that they wouldn’t take an important exam on Shabbat.  

Rabbi Yedid: You need to remember that each community back then was completely insulated, and there were standards for how one had to behave. In those kinds of communities, there was such a high level of purity that sometimes you had to give up important things to maintain that. 

Rabbi Hisiger: Which part of the new book has given you chizuk in the way you lead your community? 

Rabbi Yedid: One of the things that stands out in my mind is that my father, no matter what he was doing in his life, was learning Torah. When he was younger, that’s all he did. When he was chief rabbi of thousands of people and had so many responsibilities, he was learning Torah.   

Rabbi Hisiger: For the many people buying the book, what inspiration do you want them to take, aside from the lesson of learning Torah? 

Rabbi Yedid: Very often, we get scared to say or do the right thing. We should be sensitive to other people and their feelings, but nothing should hold us back from doing Gd’s will and doing the right thing. 

Another lesson to learn from my father is that he truly cared about each and every child in the yeshivah, spending countless hours to ensure that every child could read and know the basics. He wanted to make sure that each one would live a Jewish life. You’ll see that quite a bit in the biography. 

The new book, For the Sake of Heaven, published by ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications, is now available at your local Hebrew bookseller and at ArtScroll.com.  

Watch the full interview with Rabbi Yedid at Inside.ArtScroll.com. 

Dear Jido – July 2022

Dear Jido,
The other night, I was invited by a friend for Shabbat dinner. In attendance was a person who was an insufferable dinner guest. They were way too loud the entire time and monopolized the conversation. Not only did this person talk over me and others, but when people posed questions just to me, this person still felt a need to jump in before I could say anything.  

My question is this: If my friend invites me again, is there a tactful way to say that they shouldn’t invite me and this person to the same meal?[Text Wrapping Break]

Signed, 

Put-off

Dear Put-off, 

I’m not an expert, but it seems to me that every straight-forward option borders on lashon hara. Not only that, let’s say other people have also complained about that person, it could cause bad feelings between your host and that person if you also say something negative that would be considered a form of “tale-bearing.”

Therefore, short of saying, “Is the loudmouth coming?” next time you’re invited, I would suggest the following.

Enthusiastically thank your friend for the invitation and ask, “Is anybody else coming?” or “Is everyone else going to be there?” depending on which is more likely. S/he will likely mention a few of the names. If “that” person is included, just as enthusiastically answer, “Ok, thanks. Sounds great. Let me see what my wife/husband/parents/friend Joe is planning for Shabbat. Can I get back to you tomorrow?”  And then just graciously decline.  

If your host counters with, “Is it because so-and-so is coming? I noticed you were a little put off last time” a possible vanilla answer might be, “Listen, everyone is entitled to their personality.”

Enjoy your meal,

Jido 

“It’s Not Fair! Everyone Has It Except Me!”

 If you’ve been parenting your children for more than a few minutes you already know that “Everyone has it” means that someone has it. How do we respond to our children when they try to guilt us about how they are the only ones in their class or camp group that does not have a certain item or who isn’t allowed to do a certain activity?

Clarify Your Values  

First, get clear about the actual lifestyle you want your family to have. Make sure to choose schools and camps that match the lifestyle that you are looking for your family and your children. All too often parents say that 95 percent of the children in their kids’ classes do or have a certain thing that they as parents are totally against. If that is the case, parents can rethink whether the school is a good fit for their family. If not, although it is not easy, your best bet is to  find a different setting that matches the value system of their home. With an open mind, you will see that there are many schools to choose from these days.  

Once you are comfortable with the lifestyle of MOST of the school’s population, recognize that you will be saying no to things that other parents say yes to. The healthiest way to go is to never judge the other parents, and to also be confident that different families do different things. If your children play outside, you will see that some neighbors might allow their children to play outside until 8:00 p.m., while others call the kids in earlier or permit them to stay out later, and that is 100 percent okay. If we are judgmental of other families who allow different things, our children will sense our insecurity about the limits we set. 

Get Confident! 

If the child senses that a part of you wants to tell them no but the other part of you pities the child, your child will pity himself because, as we know, children always feel our vibes. Our children can feel disappointed in a healthy way and then be able to move on. (If validation of our children’s feelings is left out of the equation, it makes it much harder for them to move on.) It becomes tricky when we ourselves are not confident about whether or not this is good for our child. So, before we give the child an answer, think it over so that you actually get confident.

The next rule is: don’t make your child the odd man out. You don’t want to be the one mother who’s saying no to a certain item when 95 percent of the class really does have it. If it is, in fact, something that you passionately believe is unhealthy, perhaps you can speak to a school administrator and work together to try to bring the student body to a better place. School administrators are happier to listen to parents when instead of expressing complaints we frame what we are saying in a way that brings about collaboration to raise our children to a higher level. 

Get clear on what’s right, get confident, and lead the healthy way for your children!  

Make Your Child Feel Validated  

If your child asks why other children are allowed to do something or have something you do not permit, you can respond with any of the following statements:  

First start with, “It’s so normal that you wish you can have…” (validation) 

Then wait a few seconds, and you can add: (Pick one) 

“Every family does things differently.” 

“This is what we decided is best for our family.” 

“When you ask why other families have things it comes across like you think every family should have/do the same things, and I know you don’t really believe that.” 

“My thoughts also sometimes tell me to look at what other people have.”

Remember that the goal is for your child to feel validated, and to also know that it’s actually not good for them to have everything they want. Making these statements is not going to make your child magically stop wanting the item, but your confidence about the limit can certainly help them get through the disappointment. 

Spotlight on the World Jewish Congress

In April 2022, the Anti-Defamation League reported that in 2021 anti-Semitic incidents reached a historic high across America. As a child of Holocaust survivors these hateful acts are very distressing to me. Shoah survivors in their nineties, have been using social media to fight the spread of anti-Semitism. 

The World Jewish Congress serves a vital role in combating anti-Semitism, supporting Jewish communities, and functioning as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people. The hateful rhetoric on the internet and the misinformation posted on social media have sparked random acts of violence, and strategies are needed to contend with anti-Semitism on this additional front. 

I recently attended a WJC online seminar entitled “The Abraham Accords: Building Bridges to the Future.” Joseph Tawil, a graduate of Flatbush Yeshiva, hosted this engaging session. I learned about WJC’s mission, its global reach, their essential programs, and that more members of the Sephardic community are joining its leadership programs.

Of the many eye-opening facts I heard was that there are more influencers on social media platforms than there are Jews in the world. This statistic is quite frightening. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder is committed to fighting anti-Semitism on this frontier. Mr. Lauder is an internationally prominent businessman, philanthropist, and community and civic leader with a deep commitment to his Jewish heritage.

Primarily, WJC’s remarkable brand of supporting Jews everywhere embodies the Jewish value that all Jews are responsible for one another. This idiom is at the core of the Jewish concept of communal responsibility. The WJC’s mission includes defending ourselves in human rights issues and safeguarding our Jewish brothers and sisters.

The WJC is the only representative body of Jewish communities in more than 100 countries that stands steadfastly with Israel on the global stage and leads the fight against anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred. 

Roots and Accomplishments

Two-hundred-thirty delegates representing Jewish communities in 32 countries met in Geneva, Switzerland in August 1936 to establish the WJC. The danger to the Jews was clear and present:  Jews in Nazi Germany were being persecuted and stripped of their rights, and a growing wave of anti-Semitism was striking Jews across Europe.

The newly founded organization had the following goals: to mobilize the Jewish people and the democratic forces against the Nazi onslaught; to fight for equal political and economic rights everywhere; to support the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine; and to create a world-wide Jewish representative body based on the concept of the unity of the Jewish people. 

Throughout World War Two, WJC actively lobbied the Allied governments to grant visas to Jewish refugees from Europe and to restore Jewish minority rights in liberated areas. Though not the first message to reach the Allies about the Nazi’s plans to murder the Jews of Europe, a telegram sent by Gerhart Riegner, WJC’s representative in Geneva, to the U.S. State Department led to increased awareness and reaction to the atrocities committed

After the war, the WJC started to rebuild Jewish communities in Europe, helped displaced persons and Shoah survivors, pressed for Germany’s indemnification of victims of Nazi persecution, and advocated for the punishment of Nazi leaders for crimes against humanity.

The WJC was among those who lobbied the United Nations and governments to support the establishment of the State of Israel.

During the 1990s, Congress also petitioned for the restitution of assets of Holocaust victims held in Swiss and other countries’ bank accounts and ensured that the funds were returned to their rightful owners or that adequate compensation was paid. Commissions were established to investigate Holocaust-era assets such as looted art and recovered funds utilized for diverse programs. Under the leadership of WJC President Edgar Bronfman, the WJC exposed the Nazi past of Austrian President and UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim.

The WJC’s search for justice for forced laborers during the Holocaust resulted in the creation of an $8.63 billion German fund in 2001.

The WJC has been at the forefront of fostering a better understanding with other religions and facilitated the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See (the secular arm of the Vatican) in 1993.

Today’s WJC 

Today, the WJC is the only global Jewish organization with affiliated communities and organizations in over 100 countries around the world. It is committed to ensuring the safety of Jewish communities globally, protecting and defending Jews everywhere, and standing up to hate.

Empowering Jewish Leaders of Tomorrow 

The WJC sponsors a number of programs. The Jewish Diplomatic Corps (JDCorps) is its flagship program.  Others include: NextGen, The Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism (SECCA), The International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP), The Israel Council on Foreign Relations (ICFR), Yiddish Center, and Webtalks. 

The WJC JDCorps is a diplomatic impact and leadership program of young Jewish professionals engaged in public diplomacy. Led by the vision and leadership of President Lauder, the Jewish Diplomatic Corps empowers the new generations of outstanding Jewish leaders.

The group is a highly selective international network of over 360 members from 60 countries receiving opportunities, experience, and skills to impact Jewish interest through diplomacy and public policy. Its objective is to represent and strengthen the Jewish communities, ensuring their strong voice in global affairs today and for decades to come.

Tikkun Olam Actions Against COVID-19

When COVID-19 hit, the JDCorps proactively and passionately supported Jewish communities around the world, as they confronted unprecedented challenges caused by this global crisis. As Jewish communities redirected their activities to the digital sphere, the JDCorps launched virtual projects to ensure that their advocacy work continued undiminished.

Its online advocacy efforts include a series of interviews of key experts by JDCorps members on Facebook Live. A wide variety of issues are discussed including the United Nations’ fight against anti-Semitism, the latest in the field of Holocaust education, Israel’s battle to end the bias at the UN Human Rights Council, and more. Through this digital platform, JDCorps can continue to share and discuss firsthand what is happening in the world, even from a distance, and reaches a broad audience in their homes. 

Practicing tikkun olam, the Jewish directive to “repair the world,” often translated as pursuing social justice, JDCorps members reacted swiftly, shifting their business models and their focuses.  For example, members moved from whiskey production to manufacturing and providing free hand sanitizers for first responders, others installed mobile hospitals in Peru to screen and treat patients for COVID-19, and yet others assembled Passover packages to the elderly in Israel, and more.  

Crisis in Ukraine 

The WJC continues to stand ready to help in any way possible when our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine and hundreds of thousands of refugees are suffering. Through the WJC Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief Effort, the WJC is raising critical funds to ensure that those displaced by the current tragedy, and the people of Ukraine who are enduring horrific hardships, will receive the aid they desperately need for food, water, shelter, medicine, and resettlement. 

Building Bridges  

Getting back to the Abraham Accords online seminar, the Keynote Speaker was Dr. Efrat Sopher, a member of the Executive Committee of the WJC and a member of the Jewish Diplomatic Corps. She recently joined a 40-member delegation from 20 countries who participated in a week-long visit to the United Arab Emirates for high-level meetings with government representatives, think tanks, business leaders, and faith communities. Moderating the exciting discussion was our own Jennifer Sutton, a JDCorps member and Executive Director of the Council for a Secure America, an organization dedicated to promoting U.S. energy independence, its impact on U.S. foreign policy, and the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Israel. 

The key question: are there optimistic signs in the region that we can look to in the hope of a safer and more peaceful outlook for Israel? The answer was a resounding yes. JDCorps delegates engaged in open and frank talks with a range of UAE officials, sensed their leadership was open to their ideas and are hopeful that their visit was not only a one-time mission.  

For questions about the WJC, the JDCorps or to get involved, please email Isaac Choua, Operations Manager, JDCorps and WJC Liaison, at isaac.choua@wjc.org. 

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.   She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).