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The Lighter Side – May 2024


What did the blanket say to the bed?

I’ve got you covered!

Sarah Dweck

Not in Stock

I once overheard one of my cashiers tell a customer, “We haven’t had it for a while, and I doubt we’ll be getting it soon.”

I quickly assured the customer that we would have whatever it was she wanted by next week.

After she left, I told the cashier, “Never tell the customer that we’re out of anything. Tell them we’ll have it next week. Now, what is it that she wanted?”


Shlomo Schweky

Fixable Falls

A tour guide is showing a group of Israeli tourists the world famous Niagara Falls. “I’ll bet you don’t have anything like that in Israel!” boasts the tour guide.

“You are right, we don’t,” said one Israeli. “But we’ve definitely got engineers who could fix it.”

Melissa S.

New Hair Style

One day, while having coffee in an Upper East Side café, two elderly women were overheard talking.

First woman: “What did you do to your hair? It looks like a wig!”

Second woman: “Actually, it is a wig.”

First women: “Really?! You’d never know it.”

Jack V. Grazi

Wisdom of the Times

Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.

How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you’re on.

Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

Ever notice that the people who are late are often much jollier than the people who have to wait for them?

Working for Gd on earth does not pay much, but His retirement plan is out of this world.

Ron E.


An American soldier called his family from overseas. “Hi Mom, I learned to speak three languages since I’ve been deployed.” His mom responded, “Well, I hope one of them is better English so you can tell us all about it!”


Meryl T.

Dog Eat Dog

Abe and Irv were neighbors in a Florida retirement community, and both proud pet owners.

“My dog is so smart,” Abe bragged, “that every morning he waits for the paperboy to come around. He brings the kid his tip and then brings me the paper, along with my morning medicine.”

“I know,” said Irv.

“How could you know?” asked Abe.

“Because my dog told me!”

Sharon C.

Amazon Shipment

My husband received a shipment from Amazon and was very happy with what he got. To show his thanks, he said “Birkat H’Amazon.”

Yossi W.

Red Flags

After a severe storm walloped a town in Kentucky, the utility company sent a truck to the hardest hit area to get power restored. The worker was picking up fallen wires when a car horn blared at him.

“Hey,” he yelled at the driver. “Didn’t you see all those red flags, signs, and barriers back there?”

“Oh yes,” the driver replied. “I got by them all right. It’s your truck that’s in the way now.”

Jack V. Grazi

The Wake-up Call

Harry got a job at an economy motel working at the front desk. A guest checking in, a Mr. John Robinson, ordered a 6am wake-up call. The next morning, Mr. Robinson awoke before 6am, but Harry didn’t call until 6:30am.

“Good morning,” Harry said sheepishly. “This is your wake-up call.”

Annoyed, Mr. Robinson let Harry have it. “You were supposed to call me at 6am!” he complained. “What if I had a million-dollar deal to close this morning, and your oversight made me miss out on it?”

“Well, sir,” said Harry, “if you had a million-dollar deal to close, you wouldn’t be staying in this motel.”

David S.

Tax Talk

As income tax time approaches, did you ever notice that when you put the two words “THE” and “IRS” together it spells “THEIRS”?

Arlene R.

Kosher Menu

A man walked into a kosher seafood restaurant and asked, “Do you serve crabs here?”

The hostess, an older Jewish lady, looked at the man and said, “Sure, we serve anyone – where would you like to sit?”

David B.

Canine Complex

A man walked into the office of Dr. Seymour Epstein, a well-known psychiatrist, and sat down to explain his problem.

“Doctor Epstein, I’ve got this problem,” the man said. “I keep thinking that I’m a dog. It’s crazy. I don’t know what to do!”

“A common canine complex,” explained Dr. Epstein soothingly. “Relax. Come here and lie down on the couch.”

“Sorry Doc,” the man said nervously, “I’m not allowed up on the furniture.”

Micky K.

Only in America

Only in America do banks leave vault doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.

Only in America do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.

Nathan H

Hearing Aid

Morris realizes that he needs a hearing aid so he goes to Zak’s Hearing Emporium to check out his options.

“How much do they cost?” Morris asks Zak.

“That depends,” Zak says. “They run from $2.00 to $2,000.00.”

“Let’s see the $2.00 model,” says Morris.

Zak puts the device around Morris’ neck. “You just stick this button in your ear and run this little string down to your pocket,” he instructs.

“How does it work?” asks Morris.

“For $2.00 it doesn’t work,” Zak replies. “But when people see you wearing it, they’ll talk louder!”

Joe R.

Homework Helper

Teacher: Jacob, your composition on “My Dog” is exactly the same as your brother’s. Did you copy his?

Billy: No, teacher. It’s just the same dog!

  1. G.

National Colors

An American and a Dutchman were talking.

“What does your flag look like?” asked the American.

“It has three stripes,” replied the Dutchman, “red, white, and blue. We say they have a connection with our taxes – we get red when we talk about them, white when we get our tax bills, and we pay them until we’re blue in the face.”

“That’s just how it is in my country,” replied the American, “only we see stars, too!”

Yona F.

The Bakery Sign

After starting a new diet I altered my drive to the gym to avoid passing my favorite bakery. I accidentally drove by the bakery this morning and as I approached, there in the window were a host of goodies. I felt this was no accident, so I prayed: “If it was Divinely destined that I should have any of those delicious goodies, show me a sign in the form of an empty parking space right on the block of the bakery.”

And sure enough, my prayers were answered… On the twelfth time around the block, there it was!

Jonathan F.

Riddles – May 2024


RIDDLE: What Am I?

Submitted by: Sion K.


I sound so cool and people all over the world come again and again to see me. Most people spend years with me – but you can’t be too old or young to come see me, unless you decide to make me part of your career. I can also help make you smarter and wealthier. What am I?


Last Month’s Riddle: Water Ways

The rungs of a 10-foot ladder attached to a ship are one foot apart. If the water is rising at the rate of one foot an hour, how long will it take until the water covers the ladder?


Solution: It will never cover the ladder because as the water rises, so will the floating ship.


Solved by:  David Cohen, H. Soleimani, The Blum family, Linda Grazi, Molly T., The Big Cheese, Orly Mamrout, and The Shmulster.


Junior Riddle: Sleepless in Brooklyn

Submitted by: Arlene N.


How is it possible for a person to go seven days without any sleep?


Last Month’s Junior Riddle: What Am I ?

I can be cracked; I can be made. I can be told; I can be played. What am I?


Solution: A Joke!


Solved by:. Orly Mamrout, David Cohen, Family Blum, H. Soleimani, Big Mike, Alex D., The Shmulster, Jacob F., and Linda Grazi.

Mabrouk – May 2024

Births – Baby Boy 

Jonathan & Liat Zehavi 

Steven & Celia Jemal 

Ezra & Frieda Bibi 

David & Marilyn Shamula 

Isaac & Denise Steinberg 

Rabbi Eli & Danielle Cohen 

Charles & Stella Saka 


Births – Baby Girl 

Jack & Raquel Alboucai 

Mr. & Mrs. Reuven Jurrist 

Ralph & Rose Mizrahi 

Nathan & Jessica Franco 

Ralph & Molly Betesh 

Chuck & Renee Seruya 

Jack & Esther Hanon 

Mr. & Mrs. Morris Kairey 




Abie Tuachi to Dee Shammah 

Joel Nasar to Teera Ades 

Hal Doueck to Naomi Moses 

David Rahmey to Joyce Shalom 

Douglas Sitt to Manie Dweck 

Joe Levy to Danielle Franco 

Joey Harary to Jacqueline Beyda 

Steve Saff to Ruth Tawil 




Ikey Abady to Robin Beyda 

Mordechai Semah to Mazal Cohen  



Animal Experimentation in Halacha

Rabbi Yehuda Finchas 




Ikey shared a serious dilemma. He is a medical student and his research entails experimentation on mice. Ikey is very fond of animals and asked me: “Rabbi, I know that our experiments may lead to a breakthrough in scientific understanding or even to a cure for a disease. But on the other hand, there is a fair bit of pain caused to the mice and other rodents. What should I do? Isn’t this a problem of tzaar baalei haim?”   


Moshe is an animal trainer who trains dogs to sniff out illegal substances for the police force. The training involves some discomfort and even cruelty to the dogs. He wanted to make sure that what he was doing was halachically acceptable. 


Animal experimentation has been vital to advancing medical science. Many life-saving medications and treatments were developed based on animal experimentation. On the other hand, causing pain to animals is biblically prohibited according to the majority of the poskim and is expressed through a number of different mitzvot. The Torah commands us to help unload the burden from a friend’s donkey (Bava Metzia 31a). Furthermore, “If you see your enemy’s donkey lying under its burden would you refrain from helping him? You shall surely help along with him” (Shemot 23:5). And one may not muzzle an ox while it plows a field (Devarim 25:4) as this can cause distress to the animal. In fact, we must be so careful in taking good care of our animals, that we must feed our animals before eating ourselves (Berachot 40a, S.A. OC 167:6, Kaf Hahaim 50). 


This is an area where we are taught to be particularly careful.  Rebbi was punished for his lack of compassion to a calf and his suffering only ended when he later had the opportunity to show mercy to an animal (Bava Metzia 85a). In contrast, Moshe Rabbenu was chosen to be the leader of Am Yisrael due to the compassion he showed to animals (Shemot Raba 2:2) [“If he can show compassion to an animal, he can show compassion to man.”]. 


Hacham Ovadia, zt”l, has numerous responsa on proper treatment of animals. In Yehave Daat (3:66) he prohibits bullfighting and expands that this even includes attending a bullfight as a spectator. He quotes the Noda Beyehuda who prohibits hunting for recreational purposes. “We only find the title, ‘hunter’ with regards to Nimrod and Esav (Beresheet 10:9, 25:27). But this is not the way of Avraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  


And in Yabia Omer (YD, 9:3) Hacham Ovadia prohibits force feeding geese (which involves significant discomfort and even torture) and encouraged people to ban the sale of foie gras. At the same time, one may certainly visit a zoo, “For a person’s soul is moved by seeing the works of Hashem, as it says, “How great are Your works, Gd! All of them were made with wisdom (Tehillim 104:24).” Hacham Ovadia quotes how Maran Hida visited a zoo when he was in London to observe Hashem’s creations. 


Hacham Ovadia (Yabia Omer YD, 9:32) explains further that the prohibition of tzaar baalei haim is defined as inflicting unnecessary pain on animals. Consequently, he permits using doves in treating jaundice, as tzaar baalei haim does not apply when the action is necessary for human benefit. According to this principle, it is similarly permissible to perform clinical tests on animals for the purpose of developing medications and understanding disease in humans (Shevut Yaakov 3:71), always being careful not to cause any additional harm than is absolutely necessary. 


The Rishon Lezion, Hacham Yitzhak Yosef (Shu”t Rishon Lezion 1:5), was asked by the head of the Israeli police if they can train dogs to detect illegal narcotics, where the process would involve a certain level of suffering to these dogs. The Rishon Lezion, based on the principles above, ruled that if absolutely necessary, this would be permitted in order to ensure these dangerous narcotics would be out of harm’s way. However, any suffering to the dogs should be limited as much as possible. 


In conclusion, one must take great care not to cause cruelty to animals, however, as per Ikey’s and Moshe’s questions, since what they are doing is for human benefit it is permitted. However, they must try and minimize any harm as much as possible.  



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.

Once Upon A Thyme – Chili Sweet Potato Salad

Ever since tasting this chili sweet potato salad at our cousin’s Shabbat meal in Israel a few
months ago, we’ve been hooked. Although delicious on its own, sweet chili sauce gives sweet
potato a slight kick, mild enough for those who don’t like spice. Chock full of fiber and
antioxidants, sweet potatoes are a satisfying and nutritious food choice. Along with other orange-colored vegetables, sweet potatoes are rich in Beta Carotene and Vitamin A, which build our immune systems and support good vision. This salad is always quick to finish – so be sure to double for a crowd.

4 medium sweet potatoes
½ cup Canola oil
1 tbsp salt
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup sweet chili sauce
2 tbs sesame seeds

½ cup craisins
Pumpkin seeds
Candied walnuts, chopped 

  1. Peel and cube sweet potato into ½ inch pieces
  2. Place in an oven-safe tray, add salt, drizzle evenly with oil.
  3. Cover and bake on 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake on 400 degrees for another 15-20 minutes until outer edges become crisp. Remove from oven and let it cool.
  4. Meanwhile, mix sweet chili sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, and optional ingredients in a
    container. Add cooked sweet potato cubes and toss. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Recipe, photo and styling by Adina Yaakov, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. For more recipes visit www.OnceUponAThyme.Co


NEW! Questions or comments? Have a request or idea for future recipes? Want to share a photo of a recipe you’ve made from this recipe column? Email us at info@onceuponathyme.co 

One on One with Camille Saka

Ellen Geller Kamaras 


“I always tried to be conscious about not allowing my work to infringe on family time. Having a home office gave my children a bird’s eye view into what I do. I hope they learned that women can be valued for more than just their roles as wife and mother, that parents are people too, that Hashem gives us talents and it’s our job to use them to the best of our ability.”  ~~ Camille ~~ 




It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Camille Salama Saka, the talented and poised founder of Fusion Graphix Design.  


Camille is the daughter-in-law of the late Charlie Saka, a”h, a beloved humanitarian and philanthropist. Camille is proudly carrying on his legacy. 


Two of Camille’s other family members were featured in “Woman to Woman” – her younger sister, Jacklyn Lahav, a certified nurse-midwife, and Camille’s niece, Brenda Saka Antebi an event planner. Both women, like Camille, are striking in their commitment to the community   


Camille’s Story 


Camille Saka, née Salama, was born in Brooklyn, to Barbara Shreety Cohen and Maurice Salama. She is the oldest of five children.  


“We lived upstairs from my maternal grandparents and within a block or two of all my aunts and uncles.  We were a very close-knit family.”    


Barbara, of Egyptian and Syrian descent, is American born and Maurice is one of the fortunate children from Egypt who was rescued by Rabbi Avraham Kalmanowitz, the founder of Mirrer Yeshiva, in the late 1950s.  Maurice, only 12, arrived in Brooklyn with his sixteen-year-old brother. Their parents followed later.   


Camille is extremely close with her siblings. 


Camille attended Yeshiva of Flatbush for both elementary and high school, graduating in 1989. She was an A student with a strong work ethic. “I was your classic Type A personality, very meticulous with detail and organized, but I also had a creative streak.  These two attributes sometimes worked against each other.” 


A quiet and serious child, Camille had a lot of responsibility helping her mother with her siblings.  She remembers helping pack school lunches and get the little ones to bed. She attributes her work ethic to her role as the eldest child. 


Post High School 


After high school, Camille began her studies in the Brooklyn College Scholars Program. She was good at creative writing and math and wondered what career path would allow her to use both sides of her brain.  Camille tried fine arts and architecture, but neither was a good fit.  She chose marketing because it felt like it was creative side of business. Camille transferred to NYU Stern School of Business. 


Then Came Marriage 


Camille met her naseeb, Raymond Saka, four years her senior, at the age of nineteen. Once married, the couple moved to Deal, New Jersey.  Camille was planning on finishing her bachelor’s degree at NYU.  When she became pregnant, the commute was harder than she expected, so she put college on hold. 


Camille and Raymond live in Oakhurst, NJ, and were blessed with three daughters and one son. Their children all attended Hillel Yeshiva, spent a year in Israel before college, and are now married. 


Her Core 


Camille says that people describe her as being on the quiet side.  “I’m the introvert in my marriage.”  Camille is also calm, graceful, self-aware, and confident in her beliefs and abilities.  She is the embodiment of the expression “still waters run deep.”  


“I’m organized and dependable, but also creative. I grew up with focus and attention to detail accompanied by a strong desire to create. I’m good at multitasking, but I need downtime to re-charge, or I get overwhelmed.” 


Family and Career 


When Camille’s second child was 18 months old, Camille returned to college, attending Monmouth University part-time.  “I earned my degree but had no clue how to apply it in a way that was compatible with motherhood.”  


Once all her children were in school, Camille volunteered for the PTA and was drawn to projects with a graphic design component.  After working with graphic designers on many projects, Camille recognized that she would rather do the design work herself.  She began to teach herself, but needed more instruction.  Attending grad school in person felt too daunting with young kids.  A friend recommended online courses.  Camille earned a master’s certification online. She says, “It was the best decision. I took courses while the kids were in school or in bed. This became the model of how I would run my business.” 


After completing her master’s, Camille decided to charge for the services that she was already doing as a volunteer. She started with friends and family members.  She called her company Fusion Grafix Design, with the tag line, “a fusion of communication and design.”  Camille explained that graphic design’s intention is to communicate a message, and that is done effectively through good design. 


Camille is the sole designer and does many projects for community organizations, schools, synagogues, private parties, and start-up businesses, many of which are owned by women. 


“I have a home office, which affords me flexibility. I was present when I was raising my kids and scheduled my hours around their needs.” 


Passion for Graphics 


Camille is energized by using her creativity for a purpose. “Everything you see or read is influenced by the way it’s presented. Good design, like good writing, makes all the difference in how a message is received and perceived.” 


Her biggest challenge is protecting her work hours. Although she built her business to enable flexibility in her personal life, she needs to protect her work hours, too. “It’s not always easy to explain that I have a deadline and can’t ignore work just to do something fun.” 


On the flip side, Camille needs to remind herself that she will do better work if she is well-rested, rather than staying up late to finish one more project.   


Secret to Success 


Camille described four qualities that are her secret to success:  being a good listener to help clients determine their needs, adhering to deadlines (since most projects are time-sensitive), having basic technical knowledge of printing and production (“If your design doesn’t translate from digital to physical when needed, it’s useless.”), and keeping the lines of communication open.  

“Always reply to messages, even if you can’t act on them immediately. Your client will see that they have your attention, and that you are reliable.” 


Family Support and Balance 


Camille could not have created her business and raised her children without her husband’s support and help.  “Raymond never begrudged the time I gave to work. When the kids were younger, this sometimes meant him taking them out on a Sunday without me.  Raymond is very involved in the community, and we are both flexible with each other’s time and needs.” 


Camille credits her parents, siblings, and in-laws for supporting and influencing her in their own individual ways.  “They encouraged me to explore various creative outlets, led by example about being an involved and productive community member, and the importance of doing your best and striving for excellence.  They always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself, encouraged me to do more, even when I thought it was too hard, and made me feel valued, even when I doubted my own value.” 




Community involvement is central to Camille’s family. She counts many community schools and synagogues among her steady clients.  She is an ardent supporter of the State of Israel. She and Raymond joined a mission in February, a trip she will never forget. 




Camille starts her day with a yoga or Pilates class.  “It sets the tone for the rest of my day.”  She adores playing with her grandchildren – getting on the floor to do puzzles or having a silly dance party. 


Passions and Achievements 


Camille is proud to have found her passion after a long journey and to have turned it into a business she loves, that allows her to give back to the community.  


She is grateful to Hashem for giving her a wonderful husband, children she is proud of, and a continually growing family. “My children’s spouses are like my own children. My grandchildren have taught me to live in the moment. I make a conscious effort to plug into my playful side when I am with them.” 


Career Advice  


Explore and be flexible. “You don’t need to figure it all out by age of twenty. Take classes you don’t know you’ll like. Volunteer for different hesed projects. You never know what will strike a spark. Be open minded and patient with yourself but always continue to grow.” 



You can reach Camille at csaka@fusiongrafixdesign.com 

www.instagram.com/fusiongrafixdesign/  or 732-673-4490. 







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). 

How the Soviets Helped Invent “Palestinians” – and Fooled the World



There has never been a sovereign Palestinian Arab state, the Arabs  are not  indigenous to Israel, there was no “Palestinian” ethnicity in history, and many scholars hold that Arab populations did not really come in large numbers until the late 19th century. 


And unlike Zionism, the movement to return Jews to their ancestral homeland, there was no movement for an independent “Palestinian” state for Arabs anywhere in history. 


The Soviets Enter the Picture 


Then something happened in the 1960s that successfully pushed a narrative contrary to these facts. The Soviets, jockeying for global power and a larger sphere of influence, sought to get cozier with Arabs.  


The Arab countries had the oil– and the oil meant infinitely more than a tiny Jewish country with no resources. It helped that the USSR opposed anything America supported, including Israel. And  the Arabs were bitter about Israel’s existence, and bore a grudge against Israel for its victories over Arab armies in multiple wars.  


But it was not always this way. For a brief time in the late 1940s the Russians had Israel’s back: they recognized the state, supported its entry into the UN, and  let one of its satellite communist states, Czechoslovakia, sell arms to the nascent state. However, the honeymoon did not last long because  Josef Stalin – the Soviet dictator of the time – fell under the influence of anti-Semitic paranoia – and saw benefit in courting the Islamic world. 


“Palestinian Arabs” – Convenient Partners in Promoting Anti-Semitism 


The Russians knew of a key group that was already fighting the Jews from within the territory of Palestine – a group that did not have a nation,  and thus did not have to abide by international treaties – those who referred to themselves as Palestinian Arabs. They were the ones neatly positioned to punish the Jews. (By this time, the cause had already planted some roots. Haj Amin al Husseini, who eventually became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and allied with Hitler during the Second World War. Husseini began spreading the Brotherhood’s jihadist doctrines.)   


The PLO and Yasser Arafat 


To further the cause of annihilating Jews, in 1964 the Soviets helped launch the Palestine Liberation Organization.  


Its Charter, drafted in Moscow, was rubber stamped by some four hundred KGB-picked Arab representatives. (As an aside, its preamble mentioned something called “Palestinian Arab People” – since up until 1948, “Palestinians” specifically meant Jews who lived in the Holy Land.) The Charter’s messaging was filled with a not-so-coded message to eliminate Israel. In 1968, Article 24 – which said that the Palestinians lay no claim to Gaza or the West Bank – was quietly removed, because, of course, it was a year after Israel won these areas in the Six-Day War. And naturally, Jews cannot have their land back after two thousand years, or acquire land in a defensive war, like so many other countries have. 


Hundreds of Soviet secret service agents fanned out in the Arab world, looking for leaders who would take up the cause – and in the 1960s one of them was arch-terrorist Yasir Arafat, at the time a dedicated Marxist-Leninist, who became chairman of the PLO in 1969.  


Onetime head of Romanian intelligence under Nicolae Ceauscscu, Lieutenant  General , Ion Mihai Pacepa – who later, in 1978, became the highest-ranking KGB officer to ever defect from a Soviet bloc country — was closely associated with Arafat, the PLO chairman as part of his KGB duties.  Decades after he defected,  Pacepa began writing and speaking about Soviet plans to destroy Israel. He had recorded several conversations with Arafat when they met in Romania, at dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s palace. Arafat, in these recordings, unabashedly revealed that his primary goal is to destroy Israel. Ceausescu personally mentored Arafat on propaganda techniques.  


Disinformation Campaign with International Partners 


The Soviet propaganda project  included a disinformation campaign that misused and contorted language to make the Palestinian cause appear noble and acceptable: that is, concocting a narrative of a human rights battle, a homeland struggle, or an anti-imperialist or anti-colonialist struggle, to hide the true aim:  destroying the Jews. After all – he needed to whitewash terrorism to make murdering innocent civilians “justifiable.” The strategy worked: the world was soon convinced that the Palestinian Arab dream was about a land claim, rather than the plain old anti-Semitic  desire to wipe Israel off the map. 


Other guidance for Arafat came from Muhammad Yazid, one-time minister of information in two Algerian wartime governments from 1958 and 1962, as well as from General Vo Ngyuen Giap, an important Vietnamese Communist revolutionary and military leader and a close colleague of Ho Chi Minh.  


During the Vietnam War, Giap was a North Vietnamese propagandist, who realized that the Palestinian Arabs would have an easier time “selling” a struggle for human rights, than a war of annihilation. In Pacepa’s view, the sanitizing of this kind of message had eventually successfully switched the West’s support during the Vietnam War and would do so again with the Palestinians. By this time, the Soviets already had created “liberation movements” in Bolivia (1964), Colombia (1965), and Armenia (in the 70s). The Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia bombed American airline offices in parts of Europe. Armenia remains something of a Russian puppet regime to this day. 


The Soviets Ramp Up Their Hate and Propaganda 


The Soviets bankrolled Palestinian leaders, and their terror activities, while ramping up a strategic propaganda campaign to demonize Jews and Zionism across the Arab world. That included a “disinformation office” that pumped out every kind of vile anti-Semitic message in every Arabic media publication. 


Pacepa confirmed this in his article “Russian Footprints” in National Review Online, Aug. 24, 2006, saying that the Kremlin decided to turn the Islamic world against the Jews and the US with “Nazi-style hatred.”  


KGB Chairman, and soon to be the sixth leader of the Soviet Union, Yury Andropov, told Pacepa, that a war of brainwashing of a billion Arabs “could inflict far greater damage” than could a few million soldiers. “We in the Soviet bloc tried to conquer minds, because we knew we could not win any military battles,” Pacepa wrote, paraphrasing Andropov. The point was that “no one within the American/Zionist sphere of influence should any longer feel safe.”

“The Islamic world,” he wrote, “was a waiting petri dish in which we could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred… Islamic anti-Semitism ran deep. The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism, and victimology. Their illiterate, oppressed mobs could be whipped up to a fever pitch.” 


“We had only to keep repeating our themes — that the United States and Israel were ‘fascist, imperial-Zionist countries’ bankrolled by rich Jews” and that the little Satan and the big Satan’s goals were to convert “the Islamic world into a Jewish colony.”  



The Soviet machine and its Warsaw Pact tentacles continued to provide intelligence, arms, training, aid, funding, and political cover to the Palestinian cause. 


These details are outlined in the Stanford Review, Feb. 27, 2008, in an article called “Deception of Palestinian Nationalism,” and in an online essay called “Soviet Russia, The Creator of the PLO and The Palestinian People” by Wallace Edward Brand. 


PLO Rejects Peace, Chooses Destruction 


In ensuing years, Arafat would preach one thing in Arabic – Jihad – and another, more palatable message in English to the West. He would go on to outright reject the generous offer at Camp David in 2000, that gave 96% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria – which Israelis call Yehuda V’Shomron) to the Palestinians, choosing instead to launch a deadly Intifada. Five peace offers were rejected by Arafat since that time, demonstrating his single motive to destroy Israel, rather than build a state of his own.  


Current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who kicked off his international political career by writing a paper denying the Holocaust during graduate studies at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow,  has vowed that any Palestinian state would be free of Jews and supported the destruction of Israel. Most recently, he has denied the atrocities of Oct. 7., and has– Throughout, he has courted  heads of state under the cover of being a partner in peace. The widespread support of these poisonous ideas has taken hold amongst leftwing activists around the globe, and many foreign leaders, while fully supported in many forms by the Russians, Iranians, Arab dictatorships, and to a certain extent, the Chinese. In recent months, global fora have pushed the idea of a “two state solution” even after the Hamas terror attacks, and the high number of Palestinians who supported it – still buying the idea that the war is about land. 


A member of the PLO’s Executive Committee,, Zahir Muhse’in, went on record plainly, on this very idea. “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the State of Israel for our Arab unity,” stated Muhse’in,  in a 1977 interview with Amsterdam-based newspaper Trouw 


“In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.”

Mamabear OT – Helping Children Thrive

Carolyn Orfahli, MS, OTR/L  



What is Occupational Therapy and How Can It Help My Child? 


Occupational therapy (OT) helps individuals gain independence in their activities of daily life (ADLs) also known as occupations. Our occupations and expectations change as we age. Therefore, OT looks very different with infants vs. school-aged children. OT may also look different in different settings, such as in school vs. home or community-based settings.  


Common Parent Concerns that OT Can Address: 


  1. My son’s preschool teacher said he can’t sit during circle time. 
  1. At Mommy and Me, my baby was the only one not able to sit up. 
  1. My baby isn’t crawling. 
  1. My daughter is a picky eater; she won’t even touch certain foods. 
  1. My daughter screams when I wash her hair or brush her teeth. 
  1. My son’s always chewing on things and bites others sometimes. 
  1. My preschooler can’t use a spoon or fork and ends up eating with his hands. 
  1. My kindergartener doesn’t want to use the bathroom in school because she can’t wipe by herself.  
  1. My daughter can’t hold a pencil properly. 
  1. My son is very uncoordinated. He’s like Jell-O. 


About MamaBear OT’s Practice 


MamaBear OT is a faster and more convenient way to receive quality occupational therapy. MamaBear OT provides a unique setting, that is limited only by creativity. Any concern a parent has is valid and important, as parents are the experts concerning their children. Together, parent, child, and I (therapist) create goals to drive treatment sessions. I consider each child’s strengths and challenges and turn them into child-inspired activities, which directly target our goals.  


Within this model, OT tends to be shorter term – results are seen more quickly! I complete the evaluation and can start working with your child the next day.  


For example, an infant came in for four weekly sessions  and in one month met all his goals. He came to me delayed and is now age-appropriate. With other OT programs, this infant could have still been waiting for the paperwork to be processed or for meetings to be scheduled and then finding a therapist. This would have further delayed him, as there are more milestones to meet as he ages. 


The MamaBear OT space offers one-on-one pediatric occupational therapy in a safe, clean, and calm environment. Infant and sensory equipment is often utilized (infant soft climbers, child climbing area, swing, and vertical play spaces, etc.). Parents are welcome to get involved in our sessions or to relax and have a complimentary cup of coffee. 



About the Founder of MamaBear OT- Carolyn Orfahli 


I have over five years of experience working as Senior OT at NYU Hospital – Rusk Rehab pediatric outpatient unit. I treat infant milestone delay, fine motor delay, arm/hand weakness, sensory processing difficulty, emotional regulation, daily living skills (feeding, dressing, self-care/hygiene), coordination, executive function, and writing. Some of the most common neurological, orthopedic, and genetic diagnoses I work with daily are Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Brachial Plexus Injuries, Hand Deformities, Arm/Hand Injuries, and more. 


I love collaborating with pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, psychologists, teachers, paraprofessionals, speech therapists, and physical therapists. I have learned so much from them. I hope we can boost each child’s development together!  


How Do I Start OT? 


  1. Contact:  
  • Reach out via text, call, email, or Instagram message. 
  • Discuss your concerns and schedule an evaluation and/or session. 


  1. Evaluation:  
  • Intake discussing your child’s abilities and challenges 
  • Standardized assessments 
  • Observe your child in unstructured play 
  • Go home with a new activity/exercise to start working on our goals 


  1. Treatment Sessions:  
  • Bring your child to the sessions 




Additional Resources at MamaBear OT: 


  • MamaBear OT’s Instagram page exhibits developmentally appropriate ways to play with your infants and everyday activities that boost child development.  


  • Original MamaBear OT activity kits including curated toys, custom made worksheets, and an activity guide with various games to build fine motor skills.  


  • An Amazon link filled with toys and supplies organized by age.  


  • Parent education workshops coming soon! 


Carolyn Orfahli, MS, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of MamaBear OT. She has extensive experience working at NYU Rusk Rehab pediatric outpatient unit and additional experience in Early Intervention and school settings.

Roof Maintenance


You may not give your home’s roof much thought on a daily basis, but sun, wind, rain, and hail can all wreak havoc on your roof. Take some time to look over your roof and address any issues before they become big problems.  


Granular Loss 

Granular loss is when your asphalt shingles start to lose their protective granules. These granules are the exterior coating on asphalt roofing shingles that provide your home with an extra layer of protection. These granules prevent the two underlying layers of your roofing shingles, the asphalt and fiberglass mat, from being exposed to the elements. 

Look for any missing or damaged shingles or sections of the roof that look like there may be valleys forming. Check the gutters and downspouts for excessive granular loss. When your shingles are installed, granular loss begins, and it occurs naturally due to weather and on a normal daily basis. Some granular loss is normal, but excessive amounts could indicate a larger issue.

Poor Ventilation 

Blisters or bubbles on the shingles can be caused by moisture between the layers of shingles and heat building up beneath the roof due to poor ventilation in the attic.


In hot, humid climates you may see darker stains or streaks that could be caused by algae. The algae can cause damage to your shingles over time and should be removed by a professional.

Tree Branches 

Check for any tree branches that could be hitting or rubbing against your gutters or roof and trim those branches back. If trees grow over your roof, regularly check your gutters, downspouts, and roof valleys for any tree debris that needs to be removed to allow proper drainage.


Inside your home you can inspect your attic for leaks or dark areas. Leaks are most likely to show up around chimneys, vents, skylights, and valleys. Also check for mold on the underside of the roof decking. If your attic is poorly ventilated, it can trap moist air and cause mold. If you see any sagging between the rafters, you may have a long-term leak that is causing major damage and should be addressed.

Roof Replacement 

If you need to replace your roof,  have a professional come and inspect it to determine what the next steps will be. You’ll also want to be familiar with different roof materials. Asphalt shingles are the most common kind of shingles used on homes. Slate can also be used and is very durable. Slate does have a higher price point and needs a skilled installer. Metal roofing is durable and relatively lightweight, but can be noisy during rain or hailstorms. 


Home Inspection 

Many times during home inspection, different roof issues come up. Generally, if the roof doesn’t have any active leaks and it’s just an older roof that’s on its last legs (that might have to be changed in the next six months or year or two), the sellers are not responsible to give a credit because there are no active leaks. Keep this in mind when buying a home. 


Roof Lifespan 

A typical roof lasts between 25 and 50 years, but the precise amount of time varies significantly by roof type and property type. For example, a metal roofing system can last up to 75 years, while a rubber roof probably maxes out at the 50-year mark. 

Connecting to Our History – The Customs of Aleppo

Victor Cohen 


Tradition and history have always been among the cornerstones of our community. Many of our community institutions are named after giants of our past, and even our manner of speech and unique cuisine feature elements that preserve our ancient culture. We are a community that values its history and strives to connect with it each and every day. 


This quality has never assumed greater importance than it does now, in today’s day and age, when we are constantly exposed to foreign influences. Jews today face unprecedented spiritual dangers, and we are more susceptible than ever before to being lured away from our sacred traditions.  


Our generation’s unique challenges make the recent publication of The Customs of Aleppo an especially meaningful project and valuable contribution to our community. This book helps us strengthen our connection to our past by teaching us about our ancient customs, and showing us what our community was like centuries ago. By bolstering our knowledge of our history, The Customs of Aleppo helps ensure that our sacred traditions will be preserved through us and through our progeny, well into the future. 


A Firsthand Account of Aleppo’s Traditions 

This volume is an English translation of the scholarly Hebrew work Minhageh Aretz written by Hacham Yosef Abadi Shayo in Yerushalayim.  Hacham Shayo spent much of his life in Aleppo, where he observed and absorbed the sacred traditions and customs of the community. His publication thus reflects not only his outstanding scholarship and comprehensive knowledge of relevant halachic source material, but also his firsthand experiences in Aleppo.  Thus, for example, in his discussion of the customs regarding the Friday night prayers (chapter 2, Shabbat, p. 88), the rabbi writes: 


After they finished Arbit, the people would go to the cave (adjacent to the synagogue) where, according to tradition, Eliyahu the Prophet once appeared, and they would chant the entire Shir Hashirim melodiously, with its traditional liturgical tune, one minyan after another, until about twenty minutes after sunset. As they exited, at the entrance of the synagogue, a variety of fragrant herbs were distributed to everyone, and they all made their way to their houses in joy.  


Reading this, one gets the feeling that the rabbi himself personally witnessed and participated in this practice, thus lending greater power to his words. He is not merely presenting material he had learned in earlier sources – he is providing us with a firsthand report of how the Jews of Aleppo prayed. He is describing his own customs, and, by extension, our customs.  


“A Tower of Wisdom” 


Born in Aleppo in 1893, Hacham Yosef Abadi Shayo was a scion of a family renowned for its Torah scholarship. His father was Rabbi Ezra Abadi Shayo, a rabbinical judge who authored the work Shaare Ezra. His maternal grandfather was Rabbi Yeshayah Dayan, Aleppo’s chief rabbinical judge. Hacham Yosef was renowned for his exceptional piety, wisdom, and breadth of knowledge. In the foreword to The Customs of Aleppo, the publisher writes: “He was a tower of wisdom, a master of Kabbalah worthy of his holy ancestors.”  


Hacham Shayo’s Torah scholarship was complemented by a remarkably versatile set of skills in various fields of practical halachah.  He was a mohel, and the overseer of the city’s eruv and of many of its mikvaot. After moving to Jerusalem, he served as the shofar blower on Rosh Hashanah in the illustrious Ades Synagogue. He spent time studying in the renowned Yeshivat Porat Yosef, the institution which, over the years, produced numerous leading sages, including Hacham Ovadia Yosef. He also learned in other prestigious yeshivot – Yeshivat Shaare Orah, Yeshivat Bet El, and Yeshivat Od Yosef Hai. He drew from the Torah wellsprings of many different sages, growing to become a giant of his own, a repository of Torah scholarship and wisdom. 


Preserving the Torah Gems of the Past  


In addition to all these skills, Hacham Shayo was also a talented writer – even in the physical sense, being ambidextrous, capable of writing with both his right hand and left hand. But he did not only produce his own scholarship – he also worked tirelessly to preserve and publish the writings of other great rabbis. When he moved to Jerusalem, he brought with him a considerable collection of handwritten manuscripts, scholarly essays composed by earlier sages of Aleppo. The foreword to The Customs of Aleppo lists 20 books that the Hacham took with him, and cites his description of the intensive efforts he invested into preserving these precious texts: 


I gleaned these commentaries from wherever they had been scattered – a page here and a page there. In many cases the ink was faded and barely legible, but I took it upon myself to copy them, edit them, and arrange them according to the order of the Talmud… It is my hope that the authors of these commentaries, who are basking in the glory of Gan Eden, will be pleased with this. I pray their merit will protect us, Amen.  


On one occasion, some ink fell onto one of the manuscripts. Refusing to allow any “novel Torah thoughts to fall by the wayside,” Hacham Shayo carefully examined the page, dampened it, and held it up to the sun to see the original writing. He then quickly copied the text in order to preserve the Torah gems it contained. 


This example of passionate devotion to preserving our heritage and tradition, and ensuring its accessibility to future generations, should resonate deeply with each and every one of us. Seeing the indefatigable efforts Hacham Shayo exerted to safeguard the Torah insights of Aleppo’s luminaries, and to meticulously document the community’s customs, down to the very last detail, should motivate and inspire us all to reaffirm our own commitment to our ancient sacred traditions.    


Hacham Shayo’s talents as both a scholar and writer were inherited by his grandson, Rabbi Moshe Rahamim Shayo, shelit”a, who translated Minhageh Aretz into English. Rabbi Shayo says that his grandfather’s objective in authoring this work was to ensure “that the memory of this community’s customs would not be forgotten. It is a historical record of the city’s Jews, especially of the practices observed in Aleppo’s Great Synagogue under the leadership of the city’s great Torah Scholars.” 


The Customs of Aleppo is truly a fascinating read, and highly recommended for anyone looking to spark their connection to their history – an ambition that we should certainly all share.  


Michael Kaplan and family generously helped sponsor the publication of this book, which, with Hashem’s help, will serve to foster greater love and appreciation for our sacred heritage for generations to come.