Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Cusp





It is December 31st, 2008. In less than 10 hours, the clock will strike midnight, and it will be 2009!


Hard to believe that we're on the cusp of a new year, nearly nine years into the new millennium.


Where did the years go? Where did the months go? Where did the days go?


Many bloggers review their year by re-sharing some of their significant posts. That helps summarize their personal & professional lives and the world at large for the previous 365 days.


I won't do that this year. Suffice it to say that this past year had its ups and downs.


A year ago, today, my mother in law had brain surgery for an aggressive tumor discovered less than 48 hours earlier in a hospital emergency examining room. Thus the tone was set for the year.


My family became too familiar with hospitals and specialists and medical jargon this past year.


But amidst the dark and difficult days, we celebrated our eldest child's bar mitzvah...a major milestone in any Jewish boy's life and that of his parents.


Who knows what 2009 will hold for us and for the world? How will the small country of Israel fare? Will she gain more enemies worldwide and some unexpected friends along the way? How will Barack Obama prove himself a leader? What changes will he bring to office? Will the national economy have to dip further before it begins to slowly climb back upwards?


Let us hope and pray that 2009 can be a good year for all.


In a few hours, on this side of the world we'll be saying, "Live...from __________...it's 2009!"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told...

...is apparently a lie.

Publisher Cancels Rosenblat Memoir After TNR Exposes Hoax

Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, announced tonight that it was canceling Herman Rosenblat's Holocaust memoir, Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived, which was set to be published on February 3.

In a statement, Berkley's director of publicity, Craig Burke, said: "Berkley Books is cancelling publication of Angel at the Fence after receiving new information from Herman Rosenblat's agent, Andrea Hurst. Berkley will demand that the author and the agent return all money that they have received for this work."

Just yesterday, Berkley released a statement defending the author and his memoir. Shortly after Berkley's new statement was released, I spoke with Harris Salomon, who is producing the $25 million film adaptation of Herman's story.

"It’s unfortunate he told a lie," Salomon told me. "The man is tragically flawed, but his story had value." Until this evening, Salomon had been a wholehearted defender of Herman's story. But he said he spoke to Herman and learned that his story is a fake. Salomon said he had no knowledge of Herman's fabrication, and is angry that Herman lied to him, to his agent, Andrea Hurst, and to the publisher. "Obviously, this is a surprise to me. Obviously, I am extremely angry. He let me down professionally and personally. We get used to dealing with people of all stripes in this business. This is the business and the society we live in today, that allows people to lie, but also feeds off people lying and asking for forgiveness."

Salomon said he thinks there is only one way for Herman to bring closure to his story. He asked Herman to go back on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" with his wife, Roma, and tell his true story and explain why he invented his tale. He said Herman has agreed to appear on "Oprah" if her producers will have him. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" could not be reached for comment tonight.

"This is the one thing I want Herman to do," Salomon said. "I told Herman I want him to go back on the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' and apologize to Oprah. Apologize to me, to Andrea Hurst, his agent, to Penguin, the American people, and the memory of his mother and father and all the people who died in the Holocaust."

I find it somewhat sad to have learned this.

Yes, it's disappointing to have someone fabricate such a tale and then learn that it's not true.

But didn't reading or hearing the story have men and women shyly smile and let out huge sighs of wistfulness? Didn't it give countless people a belief that in spite of all the evil that these death camps represented, something good could come of them?

Didn't this internationally reported tale give something nice to people to believe in?

Yes, to falsely lead on print and radio journalists, television audiences, major publishing houses and movie companies and countless individuals is not nice. In fact, it's wrong. But did Herman have a reason for doing so? Did his wife have a reason for going along with her husband and his fairy tale?

Oprah said of Herman & Roma's tale: "...the single greatest love story, in 22 years of doing this show, we've ever told on the air."

Holocaust scholars, Herman's family and friends were disbelieving of the tale for some time, but never did bring their thoughts to the public eye. But now that the truth is out, what will people say when they learn the reason of the deceit?

My compassionate side worries for Herman; will it be too much for him to bear to appear on national TV and retract his story, too much for him to handle the aftermath of his deceit, too difficult to go on with his life once again? How is his medical situation? How is his emotional situation?

Part of me thinks: "Who was he hurting anyway, with this story?"

But apparently, the answer is "COUNTLESS NUMBERS."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Chanukah


Very shortly, my husband, children and I will go to my parents' house to light the first Chanukah candle with them. I hope we can do it together for many more years to come.
Wishing you all a very happy and BRIGHT Chanukah.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Now Showing...







Swindlers & Victims: The Bernie Madoff Story
Just when you thought the economy couldn't get any worse...along comes Bernie! Always whistling a happy tune: "Money, Money, Money" by Abba.
But apparently, he'll be changing that tune to "Jailhouse Rock" soon enough.
Okay, everybody all together, on the count of three: ONE...TWO...THREE...NOW SPIT!






Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flattered...but Flustered...

...because Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret tagged me to do the meme for "20 Favorite Actresses."

Robert, a Hollywood screenwriter/producer, expects me to even know 20 actresses? He can recite biographies and film histories of countless actors and actresses, and I have to think hard to simply come up with names.

Here goes nothing:

1. Sally Field
2. Ginger Rogers
3. Diane Keaton
4. Meryl Streep
5. Lucille Ball
6. Doris Day
7. Shirley Temple
8. Judy Garland
9. Julie Andrews
10. Judi Dench
11. Marilyn Monroe
12. Shelley Winters
13. Carole Kane
14. Molly Picon
15. Barbra Streisand
16. Geena Davis
17. Goldie Hawn
18. Meg Ryan
19. Marjorie Main (of Ma & Pa Kettle fame)
20. Pearl Saban (thought I'd throw that in as a wishful thinking favorite actress!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Road Ends Here

I went to a funeral this morning for a girlfriend's dad. He's suffered from Alzheimer's for nearly a decade and as a result was put in a nursing home some eight years ago. Two weeks ago he became sick and was put in hospital, which is where he passed away on Shabbos...his daughter and wife at his side.

I went to the funeral chapel and to the cemetery, as well. With car blinkers flashing and with police escort at major traffic intersections, we made our way in a procession to the cemetery.

My blood began to roil. Why? Because I could see that there are very chutpahdik drivers out there, who cut in to these funeral processions. It's not as if one ought not to know that this is a procession; it's easily recognized with the many cars, their blinkers and the funeral chapel's placard sticking out of the front hood of each car.

But on at least two occasions en route, someone from the center lane cut into my outer lane, driving in front of me. The second "interference" (for lack of a better word) actually used this tactic for his gain. With the policeman moving us speedily through red lights, and a couple of back streets, this "schnorrer" (for lack of a better word) took advantage of his position in our procession. The minute we hit the main street again, he jumped into the center lane and was off on his merry way.

I immediately called my husband to complain about the chutzpah of some people; he said there ought to be a name for such a person. No doubt there is, but it wouldn't be polite of me to put it in print.

So I challenge any and all of you to come up with a name for "a person who cuts into a funeral motorcade but doesn't belong there." (Maybe together we can come up with some new term that can be entered into that famous Washington Post -- I believe it is -- word contest for new expressions.)

***************************

And on my way out of the cemetery, as I tried to merge into the main intersection, I saw a sign across the street on an empty lot in this residential area. The sign said something like:
FUTURE SITE OF B'NAI BRITH ALZHEIMER'S HOME.

How cruel, I thought, to be placing such a Jewish institution opposite a Jewish cemetery!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cinq/Five/Cinco/Chamesh

I saw the following meme on Robert Avrech's blog, and decided to complete it on my own blog. Here goes...five:

5 things I was doing 10 years ago:

1) I was copy editing romance novels
2) I was celebrating 5 years of married life
3) I was mothering two toddlers
4) I was reading bedtime stories to my kids
5) I was stepping on many pieces of Lego

5 things on my to-do list today:

1) Take the first shift of kids to school
2) Take the second shift of one kid to school
3) Make my 11:00 a.m. appointment at a placement agency
4) Visit my parents
5) Pick up all 3 kids from school

5 snacks I love:

1) shelled sunflower seeds
2) ripple potato chips
3) a piece of hard cheese
4) clementines
5) any kind of chocolate bar that has nuts inside

5 things I'd do if I were a millionaire:

1) start a family foundation and give donations to countless worthwhile medical, educational and social causes
2) share my wealth with our siblings and their families
3) take our children, our siblings and their children on a really nice family vacation
4) invest for our children's future
5) make my parents' lives as comfortable as possible, with the right medical care and home care

5 places I have lived:

1) Toronto --my childhood home
2) Toronto -- our apartment when we married
3) Toronto -- our first home after the apartment
4) Toronto -- our current home
5) Israel

5 jobs I have had:

1) Copy editor
2) Proofreader
3) Administrative assistant in a Jewish day school
4) Assistant in the book return dept. of a university library
5) Assistant in a Jewish community information service

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mission of Love

Please take the time to watch this video compilation about the victims of the Mumbai Chabad House.

It is most moving.

Interpretation






Was in a mall today and saw a sign advertising a shop where they sell smoking accoutrements -- tobacco, rolling papers, cigars, cigarettes, cigarillos, etc. The shop is called HOLY SMOKES.


What a great name, I thought.


But I also thought that such a store, with such a name, should be serviced by a bunch of nuns and priests.


Could you just imagine the scene? Nice Jewish girl goes in, looks around, sees a nun playing with the rosary around her neck.


"Can I help you?" the nun asks.


"No, just looking. I wanted to see what the store offers."


"Hmm. Well, smoking is truly bad for your health, but we raise funds through our sales to help support the children in our orphanage. Our bodies are truly our sanctuaries, and we must honor them for as long as we can...but if you've got to smoke, well then just think how you're helping our children."
And with that, she hands me a button that says, "HOLY SMOKES....Save the Children."
(I don't mean to insult anyone with my absurd imagination. Sorry if I might've.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Conehead Wannabes





On Motzei Shabbos we rented movies and one of them was THE CONEHEADS, based on the Saturday Night Live skits. We had "family night" and together with drinks and bowls of popcorn, we gathered in the family room to watch...and laugh...and laugh...and laugh.


Our family's new "buzz phrase" is "We come from France" as said by Jane Curtin and Dan Akroyd. We use the same inflection as their characters do, and my kids have it down to an art already.


I learned just how much of an impact the movie made on our kids when I went grocery shopping this evening with Adina. While we were in the produce section, she suddenly let out a shriek a la Jane Curtin's character.


Why? you ask.


Adina had spotted a display of eggplants.
She had the voice/scream perfect, and I burst out laughing alongside her. And as I relayed the story to my kids upon coming home, I couldn't help but burst out laughing again.
Live ... from Toronto ... it's the CONEHEAD WANNABES!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Check Out This Blog

For some reason I can't add new blog names to my sidebar, so in the meantime, this blog is worthy of a post instead, pointing you in the right direction. (in my case, westbound on Highway 401!)

I discovered this blogger a couple of weeks ago, and Carmi's posts have not disappointed me yet. His visual creativity and his creativity with language are entertaining.

Do check out http://writteninc.blogspot.com/ and tell him pearliesofwisdom sent you.

My Favorite Word...


...is PNEU, the French word for "tire".
The "P" is pronounced, and so the word almost gets blurted out. I think it just sound so funny.
I was teaching my youngest son the word, and when he repeated it, I told him it sounds like a sneeze, and so I said "Bless you!"
Now, as I researched the word, I learned:

Indo-European Roots

ENTRY:
pneu-
DEFINITION:
To breathe. Imitative root. 1. sneeze, from Old English fnosan, to sneeze, from Germanic *fneu-s-. 2. snore, snort, from Old English fnora, sneezing, from Germanic *fnu-s-. 3. apnea, dipnoan, dyspnea, eupnea, hyperpnea, hypopnea, polypnea, tachypnea, from Greek pnein, to breathe, with o-grade nouns pnoi, -pnoia, breathing, and pno, breath. 4. Suffixed form *pneu-m. pneuma, pneumatic, pneumato-, pneumo-, from Greek pneuma, breath, wind, spirit. 5. Germanic variant root *fnes-. sneer, from Old English fnran, to snort, gnash one's teeth. (Pokorny pneu- 838.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yad Vashem Page for My Paternal Grandmother

Pages of Testimony

Last Name
ADLER

First Name
CHAJA

First Name
KHAIA

Father's First Name
YAAKOV

Father's First Name
LEIB

Mother's First Name
HANI

Mother's First Name
HENI

Sex
Female

Place of Birth
TARNOGROD,BILGORAJ,LUBLIN,POLAND

Citizenship
POLAND

Marital Status
MARRIED

Spouse's First Name
MEIR

Permanent residence
TARNOGROD,BILGORAJ,LUBLIN,POLAND

Profession
HOUSEWIFE

Place during the war
TARNOGROD,BILGORAJ,LUBLIN,POLAND

Place of Death
TARNOGROD,BILGORAJ,LUBLIN,POLAND

Date of Death
1942

Type of material
Page of Testimony

Submitter's Last Name
STRUZER

Submitter's First Name
GITEL

Submitter's First Name*
GIZELA

Relationship to victim
NEIGHBOUR

Registration date
01/01/1956



When my father was in Israel for the first time some years ago, he and my mother went to visit Yad Vashem. Upon entering his mother's name, he came across this listing, to his utmost surprise. A former neighbor had thought to list my grandmother in the Yad Vashem records and my father was overwhelmed and grateful. Unfortunately, when he tried to contact that neighbor who'd given my grandmother's name, he learned from her daugher that she'd already passed away. He had wanted to thank her....for remembering and for giving my grandmother some kind of final resting place.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


THE WALLS OF THE GHETTO


The walls of the ghetto encircled you.
The walls of the ghetto enclosed you.
The walls of the ghetto framed you.
Framed your life and the lives of your loved ones.
You, with your tattered yellow star marking you
Jew. Schweinhund. Part of a damned nation.
It is fear that fed you when the cupboards were bare.
It is bravery that sustained you when that fear was spent.

You fought to the bitter end --
The rat-tat-tat of machine gun artillery
echoing off the barren walls of that wasteland.
The raining of bombs all around you.
The smell of death hovering... Always hovering.

With hands up in the air, with this gesture of surrender,
of final supplication
You the boy, already a man, left your legacy.

And we remember. We always remember...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Something to Ponder

Has it ever occurred to any of you how many times you've gone to weddings, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, engagement parties, retirement parties, staff parties, etc, have posed for pics or have had candid pics taken of you when you weren't aware of a photographer around...or have sat at a table with people at any of these types of affairs and have had a microphone shoved in your hand and a video camera with the spotlight on you. You're supposed to give a congratulatory message to the new happy couple or to the shining boy of thirteen or the sparkling girl of twelve.

Have you ever thought about all these pics and footage taken of you....that you've never ever seen?

No doubt you've already reached your total 15 minutes of fame in these many simcha videos...but never actually got to see them.

No doubt your face fills up pages in photo albums on coffee tables and on bookshelves...but you never actually got to see them.

I think the next time I go to a simcha and the videographer goes around to each person at the table to say a few words, I'll put up my hand and say really loudly, "Sorry, I'm on strike."

And when asked to pose for a group shot, I'll put up my hand and say really loudly, "Can't do it. I need to sign a model release...do you have one handy?" (of course they won't)

And when it's the end of the evening, and time to say goodbye and mazel tov to the hosts, and time to hand over the envelope with the "gift" (check), I'll put up my hand instead and say really loudly,"I can't give this to you unless you promise to invite me over to see the pics/video once they're ready..."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Prayer Box (as opposed to Prayer Book)

'The JewBerry': Praying every day on the PDA

06/11/2008
ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK

Thousands of observant Jews around the world are praying three times a day - using their PDA.

A software program for BlackBerries combines Hebrew prayers and technology, the brainchild of two entrepreneurs who attended New York's Yeshiva University. They dubbed it "the JewBerry" - a $30 program that provides texts of daily prayers instead of the traditional, printed book. The program is not linked to Research in Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry.

"Throughout the day, Jews gather in office-building stairwells and conference rooms to pray, and while sometimes you might not remember your prayer book, no one goes anywhere without their BlackBerry," says co-creator Jonathan Bennett of Cedarhurst, Long Island. Among JewBerry users is the president of Yeshiva University, Richard Joel. "I love it, because now I can not only look how the market is doing, but I can also say my evening prayers," he says, adding that "at the heart of what Yeshiva is about is the notion that it's not our technology that informs civilization; it's our values."

http://www.jewberry.com

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Lost & Found

I'm a mom who likes to stay on top of things if I can, even to the point of knowing what my kids wear to school. But it is obvious that not all parents are like me.

On Friday, when I came to pick up the kids, my youngest ran to the car without his jacket; he'd forgotten it in the schoolyard and went to retrieve it...but it wasn't there where he'd left it with his knapsack and lunchbox. He checked the lost and found, as well as his classroom, but it wasn't there.

There was, however, a very similar jacket, just a shade darker, lying there on the cold concrete near to where my son had left his jacket. Believing that there had been a switchoff done in error by a kid, I took that jacket, assuming and hoping that my son's jacket would appear in the school's lost and found on Monday and I'd leave this jacket in its place.

I got home and looked closer at the jacket; on first glance, it really looked the same as my son's, but a shade darker, a different store label affixed to it and a couple sizes smaller than my son's. And there was no name.

My son's jacket does have his name and phone number, so it's easily identifiable.

If in fact, this was a case of mistaken jacket identity, I couldn't understand that a parent wouldn't notice the difference in jackets or spot our family name in our jacket.

So throughout the weekend, I hoped I was correct and that Noam's jacket would show up in the lost and found on Monday or Tuesday.

It didn't...but I did the right thing and left the other jacket in the lost and found.

But you wouldn't believe the items that appear in those big baskets, just waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners.

There are countless school uniform jackets, and designer jackets, hats and gloves, and lunchboxes.

Please tell me how a child, however old or young, can lose a lunchbox and not realize it or not have a parent realize it or think, "Perhaps my son/daughter left it at school. I'd better check the lost and found." Does a child not think that they need a lunchbox for the next day? And if the lunchbox is labeled, as I saw on several of them, it is so much easier to claim.

Okay, so the school jackets all look the same, but many are labeled. Don't you think to even give a quick peek in the lost and found?

I recall losing a winter hat when I was in kindergarten. I looked in the school's lost and found many times without success. When I was in grade one, I checked it again, and what do you think I found? Yes, my hat. Better late than never...!

There are many wealthy families at the kids' school; perhaps they don't notice when an item goes missing or perhaps they don't care. And my guess is that many of the kids don't care enough either if they lose something 'cause they know it'll get replaced.

Each term, I believe, before Chanukah, Pesach and the end of school, the administration takes a day and displays all the lost and found articles for parents/kids to come and look at and claim whatever is theirs. All the items that go unclaimed are donated to charity.

Perhaps it's somewhat silly to think that a kid didn't bring a lunch to school for three months 'cause her lunchbox went missing; perhaps a child's fingers were numb over the month of February because his gloves went missing when the weather was cold. But it's sillier to think that people don't even consider checking the lost and found until it's too late.

I'm still hoping my son's jacket will turn up at school. In the meantime I told him to keep an eye on the kids in the schoolyard and see if he spots anyone wearing what looks like his jacket. If he spots it, he is not to accuse anyone, "That's MY jacket," but to say rationally that he thinks it's his jacket and let him check it for his name.

I'm also hoping that by the first "clean sweep of the year" of the lost and found, most of the items will have already been rightfully claimed by students, nannies, and parents.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Missing Max


I've mentioned our shih-poo countless times since we got him over 2 1/2 years ago.


Max is a beautiful, smart and most lovable animal, yet he can also be annoying...at least to me. You see, Max thinks I'm his mom and doesn't want to let me out of his sight much of the time. If I'm at the computer, Max might lay on the floor beside me. Even if he's asleep, the minute I get up to go downstairs, Max is up and right there alongside me.


If I'm in the bathroom with the door closed, the dog doesn't respect my privacy and comes in unannounced. And if he doesn't come in, he's waiting right there outside the bathroom for when I emerge.


The kids know Max primarily loves me. My husband knows Max primarily loves me. I know Max primarily loves me, but I don't want to be the only one he shares his love with.


I'll tell you one thing, though. Whenever I come home from somewhere and open the door, Max is sitting right there, excited to greet me, excited to see his mom. The kids could be somewhere in the house within earshot of the front door and MAYBE they'll call out, "Hi, Mom...Hi Eema," if I'm lucky. But Max is there all the time to say hello.


But today he's not here. I dropped him off at the groomer this a.m. and will pick him up later. And the truth is that since I've come home, I've felt a bit lost without my canine's presence in the house. It's a gorgeous, mild day in Toronto, and I came home from grocery shopping, thinking "I should take Max for a walk" but then remembering he's not home today. And when he wasn't at the door to greet me, I felt a bit hollow and a little lost in my own home.


Funny how we attach ourselves to pets and how they attach themselves to us. Max must feel just as I do today when I leave the house in the a.m. and not return for hours sometimes, or when he sees us go out as a family and wants to be included, but we don't take him along.


I'm looking forward to seeing him in an hour or so, and I think I'll whisper in his ear that I missed him today, and then I'll compliment him on his clean, shorn appearance. I think he'll like that...and then he'll no doubt follow me closely, hoping for more compliments to come his way!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A La Jerry Seinfeld

I used to write comedy bits...just in case I'd ever be brave enough to get up on stage on amateur night at a Toronto comedy club; after all, Jim Carrey, Howie Mandel and Mike Meyers all started in downtown Toronto.

So last night, I thought of this bit that I could just imagine Jerry Seinfeld using in one of his closing/opening monologues of his former TV show. I wanted to shower without getting my hair wet and pulled out a shower cap from the bathroom drawer. No doubt the shower cap was from one of my many -- NOT! -- vacations, so it was a standard issue cap found in hotel bathrooms.

I put it on my head and tried to tuck my hair in; when I got it in on one side, the hair on the other side popped out. When I tried to tuck in the hair at the nape of my neck, the hair on the front of my head popped out of the cap.

By no measure is this shower cap designed for adults with typical-sized heads; it is built for mini people with mini heads.

And as I stood there and struggled with this tiny bit of elasticized plastic, I grinned...'cause I could just picture Jerry Seinfeld talking about this bit of "nothing".

Friday, October 24, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

And the Moral of the Story Is....

...CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR CHICKENS!!

or even better: The moral of the story is "A bird in the hand is worth...$10,000 in fines!"


Monsey Kaparos Organizer Face $10,000 in Fines
October 11, 2008

The Journal News reports: Organizers of a religious ceremony involving chickens face up to $10,000 in fines for failing to properly clean up after the ritual, the Rockland County Health Department said today.

The group running the kapparot ceremony was cited for two violations of the Rockland sanitary code each of the five days that thousands of chickens were kept on the grounds of the former Monsey Jewish Center, said Thomas Micelli, director of environmental health for the Health Department.

Inspectors found there was a large amount of offensive material - including chicken feces, feathers and blood - on the site each of the five days, resulting in five the violations, Micelli said. Five additional violations were issued to the group for creating a public health nuisance.

The county got a court order Wednesday - the last day the ritual was performed - ordering the organizer and the property owner to stop the ceremony.

Chickens were still on the property yesterday, but had been removed by early this afternoon.

Monday, October 06, 2008

My Girls

I'm sending a shout-out to Terry & Betty...my girls.

These women have been in my life for decades -- Terry, since I was about five, when we met and blew soap bubbles together; Betty, since I was about 17, and switched to public high school to finish off there.

Both these women are my gal pals, my ladies, my "chiquitas", my email friends. No, we don't get to see each other tons, nor do we even talk on the phone tons, but we reach out and touch via the computer keyboard and messages several times a week...back and forth, back and forth.

With each of them having their own "peckelas" to deal with in life, and doing so with head held high, smiles and laughter, and a strong sense of self, these women are females to emulate, females to admire, females to just hang out with and shmooze with.

Thanks, both of you, for being my friend, for checking up on me when I don't surface too often, for making me laugh out loud in your own ways and for just being you. I wish you both a g'mar chatimah tovah and a very blessed New Year.

Ciao, bellas!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Lay It To Rest aka A Shanda

I was recently on a Jewish funeral chapel website, getting information about someone who'd passed away. I spotted a name I thought I recognized and decided to read the announcement and the guestbook entries affiliated with that person. Among the entries I found these: (note: I have removed all references to names, but that does not erase the actual impact of such words)


Entry : The news of the passing of my father XXXXXX just reached me yesterday Oct 1/08. XXX XXXXX was the father of XXXXXXXXand XXXXXXXX, and the Grandfather of XXX, XXXX, XXXX, XXXXand XXXX. The relationship between XXXX and his two children had been strained for past 39 years, we were kids when he married his second wife and over time he essentially failed to understand what being a father is. XXX was easily manoeuvred to disregard his kids, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces and consequently was always finding ways to not have a relationship with us all. Nevertheless, it is shameful his kids and family were not notified of his passing, but I guess no one would expect any less. Approximately 6 months ago I heard XXXX was not well so I went to his home and asked security to buzz his suite. The women that answered told security she didn’t know who I was and not to allow me in????? Again, more disregard for his kids and for him as well. So, as I think about what our father gave us I will end by saying as adults my sister and I have learned how be stronger people better parents, better uncle and a better aunt. We commit to our family to never let anything or anyone get in the way of our relationship with our kids, our nephews and nieces. With all his shortcomings he is still our father and we always loved him.

Entry: In my time of grief and sorrow I am so revolted to read XXX's son's comments about his father and his one last attemp to defame his good name that I feel I must respond. XXX needed his kids when he was alive & fighting for his life with his terrible illness and not when he was dead. XXX always loved his kids and was so deeply hurt when he hefadn't heard from his son XXX for about 5 years. He contacted his daughter XXX when he became ill about 1-1/2 years ago and met with her. She showed no regard and was completely indifferent to his illness. When he asked to see his grandchildren she said "we'll see". He never heard from her again. Anyone who knew XXXX knows what a kind and loving person he was. Although it was erev Rosh Hashanah and people we busy preparing for the holiday, on such short notice they left everything to attend his funeral. The rabbi even remarked about the number of people who put themselves out and were there. This is the best respect Joe could have received. For a number of year XXXXand XXXX have shown no regard for their father and had no contact. They have always had a deep restment of me although for 25 years I tried to establish some kind of relationship for XXX's sake. I then just gave up. They should be ashamed of themselves for the hurt and suffering they caused their father and now I see they're trying to shift the blame This is something they'll have to live with for the rest of their lives. Everyone knows how I tried everything for XXX to extend his life and never left his side. I will always love and I miss him terribly. He was my rock. He always had a smile on his face and was very happy in our marriage. Even through his illness, he was not depressed. I saw to that. He was a wonderul loving husband.

Entry: We are very sorry to hear about uncle XXX. We wish we would have been notified about his passing, as the XXX family would have been in full attendance at the funeral. please accept our condolences.


Entry: This is disgraceful

Entry: Now this is one nice family!

Entry: Sorry about your loss; this page is for people to convey their condolences, not to air dirty laundry. let the man r.i.p.

Entry: My heartfelt condolences to the children and other family members who were not informed of their own father and uncles funeral. This is disgraceful!!! As a woman I would never allow any new husband to come in between my children and I. Unfortunately too many MEN allow the "new wife" to come between a loving family. Let him R.I.P. I'm sure there are 3 sides to this story.

Entry: I'm sure his kids would have left what they were doing on short notice if you would have told them their father died. You should be ashamed of yourself for airing dirty laundry on a public site.

Entry: This a disgrace to the deceased, your differences should be settled in a cage.


To say I was shocked by this public display is an understatement; apparently so were numerous others among the several memorial book entries.

I don't know this family; at this point I wouldn't even want to know this family.

But I can probably see how it started, why the son wrote what he did. He probably heard about his father's death and funeral and figured people would have been asking at the funeral why the man's own son and daughter didn't show up. He felt the need to let people know; this memorial book was the outlet for his anger and disappointment and to some extent, grief.

It is truly a shame how family units can disintegrate, how parents and/or children can be cast aside, can mean nothing anymore in a grand scheme of things.

May the man rest in peace, may his family know no more sorrow, and may they all discuss their grievances in the next world when they meet one another again, with Hashem as their judge.

Having read these entries, a saying from my school days came to mind: "Ezeh booshah v'cherpah." (Hebrew for "what an embarrassment and a disgrace")

I Wrote a Letter...





I have ALWAYS been known for my letter writing, my note writing.



Each one is personal, detailed, filled with the big picture and all the elements that make up that big picture.



When I spent half a year in Israel many years ago, I wrote lengthy, freeflowing letters to friends and family. They all commented on how wonderful it was to receive such letters, but not one person could write me a similar one in return.



Not that I wanted pages and pages of Toronto life, but I wanted morsels...and at least a couple of handfuls. Sometimes all I got back were a few crumbs. People were busy. Seemingly I wasn't...



Writing letters has always come easy to me. Doing so is easier than confronting a person at times; the invisible wall is up between you and the reader/recipient, but it is not a true barrier. In fact, that invisible wall allows for a freedom of sorts.



When people write thank-you notes for wedding gifts or engagement gifts, they write the same pat copy. I write warm notes intended solely for that particular reader, intended solely for what that person gave me. I've been told by many people that they love my notes, they keep my notes, they remember my notes...



When people lose someone in their life, I write notes of consolation; I dig into my heart for the words that will hopefully touch that person and console them in some small personal way.



I always try to make my words mean something to someone. They're not always supposed to be about me but rather, about the recipient.



It is my greatest pleasure to write letters; it is my greatest pleasure for me to touch someone with my words. It is my way of simply...sharing.



About ten days ago I checked out Facebook to see if a former classmate of mine was on it. I knew her birthday was around mine, and so I wanted to say hi and also wish her a happy birthday.



She was listed on Facebook so I dropped her a brief note, and she responded very happily, recalling that my birthday was also around hers and wishing me a happy birthday in return.



So I followed her note with quite a detailed lengthy one, responding to some of her comments and questions, and also simply catching her up on my life. It was no effort for me to do so; it just took a bit of time as I thought out my words.



I didn't expect a similar-length letter by any means, but I didn't expect this either, three sentences of a total six:



wow what a letter. i am intimidated to write you back. what a pleasure to read.



The fact that my letter intimidated her threw me; the compliment doesn't help pad that bit either.



I love making others happy with my words, but I never realized that I could intimidate someone with this...do I call it "my talent" or "my strength" or even "my signature"?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The New Year's a Comin'























Shanah Tovah from Pearliesofwisdom and family.
Wishing all of you and your families a very happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful New Year.
May it be a good -- even a better! -- year for all of you.





Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's the Little Things...

...that count in a big way.

Today I turned 47. It was a day like any other -- getting the kids up in the morning, getting them to school, picking up groceries and running errands, dealing with the household, etc.

I got homemade b'day cards and email b'day cards; I got Facebook birthday greetings; I got telephone calls from siblings.

There was no option today to go out and celebrate this birthday, but I did celebrate it when I answered the phone just after 8:00 this morning to hear my mother singing me "Happy Birthday" and then my father getting on the phone to wish me a happy birthday and many other blessings.

Having my parents in my life makes for two of the greatest "presence" of all!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Are You There, G-d? It's Me...Pearl.

My husband came home from shul this a.m. and told me that a friend from shul is traveling to NY on Thursday to go to the OHEL, the Lubavitcher Rebbe's final resting ground, where people from all over the world come to pray at Rabbi Schneerson's grave, and often leave a "petek" -- the equivalent of the millions of notes stuffed into the Wailing Wall, notes that have prayers and requests for good health, peace, financial stability. The list goes on and on. The friend asked if we want to write a petek, so I began to write one this evening.

As I was writing, I realized I was writing in Hebrew, and then wondered WHY?? Does G-d only understand Hebrew? Are there not thousands of Lubavitchers who come from the world over to visit the OHEL? Are all the notes that are left at the gravesite written in Hebrew? Highly doubtful -- no doubt they are in Yiddish, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portugese, etc.

The language of prayer can be the language one is most familiar and most comfortable with, but I guess my subconscious had decided that the holiest language should be the language of choice for my prayer representing my hopes and desires for my family.

Let us hope that Rabbi Schneerson is as good an emissary as the thousands he's sent out into the world and that he will be able to get my message straight to G-d... And the fact that my message doesn't need any translation might even speed things up! :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Everyone Loved Molly

Molly Picon, with her geneyvishe oygen (mischievous eyes)


I love this photo of the late, great doyenne of the Yiddish theater, Molly Picon.

Often referred to as the Jewish Helen Hayes, this diminutive actress left her mark on the world.

She was born Margaret Pyekoon on Broome Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on February 28, 1898.

In 1903, Clara [Molly's mother] took five-year-old Margaret, dressed in red and sporting an elegant fake-fur muff, to the Bijou Theater for a contest. A drunk on the trolley demanded that she do her act then and there. She consented, concluding with an imitation of the drunk himself. Impressed, he collected pennies for her from the other passengers. At the contest, she would add to them the first-prize five-dollar gold piece and the loose change that her first legitimate audience had spontaneously tossed onstage. Margaret/Molly Picon had begun her theatrical career...

Pet Peeve

Listen, people, and listen good. If you're going to post an engagement picture/album, a l'chaim/vort picture/album on http://www.onlysimchas.com/, then please...please...please... POST PICTURES OF YOUR WEDDING TOO!

We admired you in your surprise engagement-caught-on-film pics, we admired you and your chattan/kallah in your vort pics -- why stop there?

If it's about "ayin harah," you wouldn't be posting ANY pics of you and your beloved, so don't make that claim.

The people who have the right idea are the ones who do post engagement pics, then wedding pics, then bris/simchat bat pics...we get to see the beautiful, mazeldik progress of your singlehood as it becomes couplehood as it becomes parenthood!

And listen, for people like me, it doesn't help to list your engagement or other simcha WITHOUT posting ANY PICS at all.

So if you're going to do it at all, do it right! Okay???

'Nuf said.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Moment to Ponder -- Part 3

1. Have you ever noticed...

when you're walking in a residential neighborhood and you suddenly smell "that laundry smell" (coming through exterior house vents) indicating that someone is doing laundry...

That smell is ALWAYS the same, no matter whose house it's emanating from. Does that mean that everyone is using Tide or Purex or Arm & Hammer?

It doesn't seem to matter if the detergent/fabric softener you buy is labeled "Fresh Mountain Breeze" or "After the Rain" or "Powdery Clean" -- the end result is that they all smell the same.

2. Have you ever stopped to realize...

that some of the qualities you don't care for in another person, some of those idiosyncracies that irritate you...are often qualities you yourself are guilty of having and displaying.

3. Have you ever tried to...

get a bit of information from someone who doesn't want to share by making an accusatory or know-it-all statement about the fact and immediately that person corrects you -- so now you know that bit of information that they were concealing.

Yes, it's a rather low tactic, and not one that I adhere to, but rather one that I often fall victim to!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Moment to Ponder -- Part 2

1. Have you ever wondered...

... if it's only you who thinks in moments of crisis/tragedy/conflict that make international headlines, "I wonder if there were any Jews on that flight... I wonder if so-and-so who was killed in that avalanche is a Jew -- it sounds like a Jewish name.... I hope there were no Jews on that flight...in that 10-car collision...in that tsunami devastation..."

Of course I have feelings for everyone, but for me it always comes back to being a Jew and recognizing fellow Jews.

When I heard about the plane crash yesterday in Russia, my reaction was "I hope there were no Jews on that flight" and was saddened to learn that a Jewish family of four were indeed killed in that accident.

2. Have you ever thought it might be nice to...

...ask that stranger beside you in the elevator where they bought their purse. But then you debate with yourself too long and the person gets off the elevator before you get the chance to ask them.

3. Have you ever tried to...

...see if your foot is really as long as your forearm between wrist and elbow -- as the theory holds.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Moment to Ponder

HAVE YOU EVER...

1. found yourself just humming mindlessly and then suddenly stopping to actually listen to yourself and see what it is you've been humming?

That just happened to me; I was taking the dog for a late-night walk and was humming up the street and then I listened to myself. I was humming the late Luther Vandross's "Dance with My Father." I don't know why I was doing so -- as my husband is in his year of mourning, we don't listen to music in the home when he's in earshot, so it wasn't as if I'd heard it on the radio anytime recently. But I knew that I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness when I realized what I'd been humming.
Thank G-d my father is alive; he is not aging very well and has great difficulty even walking these days, much less dancing. Perhaps my subconscious was just telling me that I wish my father "of old" were back to dance with me, were back to his old, familiar self...

2. found yourself hiding in your own home or apartment when someone came to visit, not answering the peal of the doorbell or the rapping of a knock or the annoyance of a buzzer.

That has happened to us; we've "hidden out" from another family, not wanting to be social on a particular Shabbat afternoon, and telling the kids to be quiet, so the family wouldn't hear our giggles on the other side of the door.

3. wondered what it might've been like knowing your spouse as a child (Robert Avrech is an exception, having known his wife Karen since he was nine years old) -- ie. if you would have gotten on as children as you do in adult life

4. taken the time to tell someone how much they mean to you

5. allowed yourself to feel guilty over something you truly didn't have to

6. pondered why THE $100,000 PYRAMID went off the air, when it was such a good game show

Mazel Tov...


(from Yeshiva World News blog)




Israel: A Grandmother of 7 Gives Birth to Her 19th

Blei Ayin Hora


September 14, 2008


After 8 boys and 10 girls, Sima Zalmanov, 47, from Tzfas, gave birth to a boy last week, her 19th child blei ayin hora. The new boy was born in Rebecca Ziff Hospital in Tzfas, where the staff knows her well.


Sima admits, “It came as a surprise. I thought at this age, I would not have more children but we are excited over the gift”.


Sima, who has been married for 27 years, is the principal of the city’s Chabad high school for girls. Her eldest child, a son, is 26. Six of the couple’s children are married.


Sima and her husband are waiting for the birth of their eighth grandchild due next month I”YH.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Found Poem...

Earlier this evening I found this poem I'd written 3 1/2 years ago, on March 10, 2005. I actually recall being moved by the scene to write the poem....



The Face in the Window

It is midnight, and I am doing a final walk in the house for the night,
picking up forgotten books,
straightening sofa pillows,
looking in on my dear children
fast asleep in their beds,
the moon peering down
upon them through a
crack between
window and window shade

a crease of light
haloing their heads
as they sigh in their sleep --

my little treasures
.


Interestingly enough, I went into my blog archives after typing this poem to see if perhaps I HAD perhaps posted the original on March 10, 2005. I had, but it was slightly different, no doubt revised as I typed it on my blog.

Poetry in Mo...o...o...o...tion

On one of the blogs that I like to read, Jack's Shack, Jack posts snippets of fiction-in-progress. So I decided this morning to take his example and post a poem that I started to write last night -- ahem, I mean this morning at about 12:10. But I had to stop because I was literally falling asleep at the wheel -- keyboard -- as I was typing. So here, for your reading pleasure, is the start of "The Face in the Window."

The Face in the Window

It is midnight, and I am doing a final walkabout in the house.
Picking up forgotten books, straightening sofa pillows, securing the
dog for the night.
I look in on my dear children, fast asleep in their beds,
a sliver of moon peering down upon them through a crack between
window and window shade,
a crease of light
haloing the heads
of these little treasures as they sigh in their sleep.

I lock the front door, then glance out the beveled side window at
the snow beyond.
The yellowish light in front of the house casts a warm glow,
beckoning me out of doors.
But I cannot wander out, although it might be nice to pirouette on
the front lawn amidst the white down feather blanket of snow.

posted by torontopearl at 3/10/2005 08:55:00 AM

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Joke for You


Dick Cheney and George W. Bush are having breakfast at the White House.

The attractive waitress asks Cheney what he would like, and he replies, 'I'd like a bowl of oatmeal and some fruit.''

'And what can I get for you, Mr. President?' she asked.

George W. looks up from his menu and replies with his trademark wink and slight grin, 'How abouta quickie this morning?''

'Why, Mr. President!' the waitress exclaims, 'how rude! You're starting to act like PresidentClinton.' The waitress storms away.

Cheney leans over to Bush and whispers....'It's pronounced 'quiche'.'

Monday, September 08, 2008

Controversy on Campus

What are people's thoughts on this current going-on at Yeshiva University?

Even though I have a nephew in third year at Yeshiva University, I'm not very informed about the student body, the faculty and the basic premise of the university. In my little mind, I always thought that every campus division -- Cardozo, Albert Einstein, Wurzweiler, etc. -- maintained an Orthodox student body, but my misconceptions about that have been corrected.

It is a university backed by a lot of private funding, and the donors no doubt wish to maintain some kind of image for the university.

If a teacher is not Orthodox or even Jewish, is that teacher's private life not deemed private? Does the administration have the right to force a professor to resign if the values they hold differ from that of the majority of the students/faculty? Does this particular, transgendered professor, change the way he/she teaches if she wears a dress as opposed to pants?

Yeshiva University is located in New York City, one of the largest metropolitan/cosmopolitan centers in the world. New York City features just about every type of person, and no doubt sometimes life in the city or inner city can be like a circus side show. No doubt the university does not want to mimic this image on their own campuses...

I'm curious to hear any thoughts about this professor and this one, as well.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sounds of Silence


I took my daughter this afternoon to see MAMA MIA, the sing-along version. She'd already seen the plain MAMA MIA about 5 weeks ago and I'd seen the stage version about 10 years ago.


It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon on the last day of a long weekend, but I still thought the theater might be crowded, as the sing-along version came out on Friday. We got there when the box office opened and eventually found our way into the theater.


Including us, there was a total of about 10 people in the theater, and I believe that all of them were women.


When the lyrics came onto the screen whenever a ABBA song came on, do you think that ANYBODY sang along? If so, they were using sign language in the dark, 'cause I sure heard no voices!


Were people afraid to sing because of the small number of people sitting in the darkened theater? Would it have been more inviting to sing if there had been a capacity seating and one's voice could've been drowned out among hundreds of others?


I have no problems singing, and I know I have a good voice, but the couple of times I alone opened my mouth to sing -- even quietly -- my daughter did not want to hear of it! She was embarrassed because I would've been the only one singing.


Truth be told, I was somewhat disappointed not to hear voices belting out out "S.O.S." or "Mama Mia" or "Voulez Vous". It was not a sing-along version of the movie I was at, but probably more of a quiet hum-along.


When the character on-screen was singing, "I Have a Dream," I guess that nobody in the audience took into account the lyrics, " I have a dream, a song to sing..."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Take a Moment...

...to smell the roses.

You don't necessarily have to stop to do so, but you can slow down, open your mind and senses to what you are seeing, what you are smelling...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Have the Power...

...to make you all nod your heads -- in unison -- in agreement.
Don't you hate it when you hide something practical/necessary/personal/important in a "safe place" and that place becomes soooooooooooooo safe, you can't find it anymore?!
Yup, me too.









Monday, August 25, 2008

Hey, Can Someone Get My Friend Over Here a Cloud with a Silver Lining?

Some people have tzuris. And then there are some people who have T.Z.U.R.I.S.!

As is said in Jewish circles: "You shouldn't know from these things..."

Someone I know lost her father -- who was ill -- last October.

She lost her youngest brother -- who died suddenly, in his sleep -- this past May. She got up from shiva on a Thursday, had her eldest son's aufruf on Shabbos and his wedding the following Tuesday.

She lost her oldest brother -- who was ill -- today. That brother was buried today...on her birthday.

She lost an uncle in May. She lost her mother-in-law in June.

Can you imagine her poor mother, burying her husband, her eldest son and her youngest son within 10 months of each other? A family of five children has quickly dwindled down to three children. A family of three sons has become a family of one son.

Their mezuzot klafs have all been checked, but this family certainly needs a good turn, a silver -lined cloud to replace the dark one that's been hovering over their family for some time. May Hashem look down on them, decide they've suffered plenty and send some beautiful brachot their way...




Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh, No! Not Again...

Remember this blog post of mine? An updated version of "Home Alone"?

Now check this out from www.theyeshivaworld.com:

Israel: Family Forgets a Child in Yarden Park

August 20, 2008

A chareidi family enjoying the ‘ben Hazmanim’ vacation forgot their 3-year-old child in Yarden Park, traveling from there to a Tiveria Hotel on Monday afternoon.

The parents and their five children, residents of the chareidi community of Tel Tzion in the Benjamin Regional Council district in Shomron, forgot the youngest child for reasons that remain unclear.

A passerby noticed the small child crying and stopped to comfort him. He summoned police after he learned the child’s parents left the area without him. The parents realized he was missing about two hours after leaving the park.

The parents came to the police station and identified their son, permitting a happy reunion. The father was questioned by police ‘under warning’ and he/they will likely face criminal charges.

So what is up with these people I've blogged about? One child too many? Outta sight, outta mind?

Get with the program, people. You're parents; you're supposed to be the responsible adults here. Take a head count if you have to; take attendance and everyone say "here" or "poh." Have your children microchipped if necessary!

If it's too overwhelming to take your several children to public places, stay home with them. Keep them in your viewfinder at all times.

It's not fun to make international news and have fingers -- and blogs -- pointed in your direction, now is it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"No Sing-Sing"



(taken from The Daily Telegraph)

Silvio Berlusconi has banned Mafia bosses from singing in jails

Godfathers and their foot soldiers have been allowed to rule the roost in Italy's jails, giving orders from their cells, as well as enjoying home comforts such as TV, gym and conjugal visits.

But now Silvio Berlusconi's new centre-Right government has toughened up regulations governing the treatment of convicted crime bosses. As part of sweeping new measures against crime, the justice minister Angelino Alfano has banned inmates from singing and socialising with fellow mobsters.


Informers have told prison officials that inmates have passed on messages and orders in song. Inmates have been singing messages to each other in their native dialects such as Sicilian, Neapolitan or Pugliese which were incomprehensible to prison warders.

The majority of mafiosi are in jails in northern Italy in a bid to keep them away from their native south.

Other measures include removing previously generous privileges and also keeping mobsters in their cells for 23 hours a day and allowing them only an hour of open air exercise.

Visits from family, friends and lawyers have also been dramatically reduced in the ten prisons that house 570 convicted mobsters deemed dangerous and a threat to society.

Mr Alfano said: ''We are toughening up the rules and coming down hard on the Mafia even when they are in jail. They will not be allowed to socialise and they will not be allowed to sing.

"We have evidence that in the past orders and messages were passed on and we have also stopped them mixing with each other as well. They will spend the majority of their day alone in their cells.''


The rules will apply to convicted Godfathers such as Toto Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, both serving life sentences.

However one privilege that is not being denied them is the opportunity to join the ice cream making classes at Opera prison in Milan.

Hmmm... I'm beginning to wonder if Italian opera/operettas also hold hidden messages.

And ice cream making classes? Imagine the mafioso who ordered hits on a dozen men, watched as their bullet-ridden, blood-splattered bodies were dumped in rivers and ravines, is sentenced to life in prison, saying "Yay...spumoni here I come!"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Book Recommendation

The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Ann Weiss.


I spotted this book in the public library the other night, sat there and began to read its commentaries and look at the countless photos within its pages.

This book is a "matzevah"/monument/headstone to all those people in the photos who did not survive Auschwitz-Birkenau, other death camps and the horrible plight of World War 2.

The author spent several years, dealing with red tape of Polish bureaucracy, in order to salvage those photos and compile this living memorial to the faces.

A beautiful book. Seek it out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

#1 Son Is Coming Home Tomorrow


After six weeks away, and two letters home, our #1 son will be coming home tomorrow from his first-time experience at overnight camp.
I believe that two letters in six weeks say it all: Avi was too busy having fun to write.
(mind you, he was home a couple weeks ago for Shabbat, having come back for a friend's bar mitzvah, so we got a bit of the low-down then...and both letters came in those early weeks of camp.)
Not only did Avi only write a couple of times, he didn't show up too much in camp photos -- I couldn't help but wonder if he was, in fact, a camper at Moshava this summer... But the proof is in this nice photo just above. Enjoy...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'll Take 10 %!

...spotted on the YidVid blog:

Montreal: A Belzer chasid won 28,000,000 dollars in the national 649 Lottery, that is 280,000 dollars for Tzedaka.

1. Why is a Belzer chassid buying lottery tickets?

2. Who made the assumption that the chassid will, in fact, follow through and give 10% to tzedaka?

3. Where was this advertised? Usually large prize lottery winners go to the headquarters and have their pics taken, while they hold up an oversized check showing the amount of their winnings. Did this individual agree to that, to be publicly photographed so that all the media -- and Jewish organizations, gemachs, agencies, schools, shuls -- will be notified of this big winner? That way they'll all know who to come and call on!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Look Who's Back in Town!


When I was preparing my son for his first stay at sleepover camp for six weeks, I started to collect snacks to send with him. I wanted to make sure all the snacks were non=perishable and parve.


Avi had a simple request: Tam-Tams.


I went to one supermarket -- no Tam-Tams. I went to another supermarket -- no Tam-Tams there either.


Where did they go? Were they so popular post-Pesach, that people had snatched them up, clearing the shelves in the Kosher aisles of supermarkets?


I finally managed to find a clerk in an aisle to ask and was told that the distributor hadn't delivered them in several weeks, that there was some type of problem.


Aha! Now I know what the problem was...


Tam-Tams...it's great to see you back. Make sure you stick around awhile, okay?



Manischewitz(R) Tam Tam(R) Crackers Are Back!


SECAUCUS, N.J., Aug 07, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Where Are the Tam Tam Crackers? Manischewitz(R) the leader in quality specialty foods, announces that the popular great tasting snack cracker that has been a mainstay in households across America for over 65 years, will return to local supermarkets starting this week!


Tastier than ever, Tam Tams are available in 8 ounce boxes in such delicious flavors including Original, Garlic, Everything, Whole Grain Garden, Herb, Lightly Salted and No-Salt. They are great with your favorite spread or right from the box.


"With the opening of our new plant and ovens in Newark, New Jersey, operations needed to shut down for a short period of time to install the upgraded and state-of-the-art new matzo and cracker ovens," said David Rossi, VP, Marketing, R.A.B. Food Group. "We are grateful for our consumer support during this time and are proud to say that the Tam Tams you know and love are back and better than ever."


R.A.B. Food Group, LLC is a 120 year old branded food manufacturer including the largest processed kosher food company in North America. It manufactures and markets Manischewitz(R), Rokeach(R), Horowitz Margareten(R), Mishpacha(R), Goodman's(R), Season(R) and Guiltless Gourmet(R) brand products. For more information, visit the company's website, www.rabfoodgroup.com. The company offers a diversified line of premium food products that cover approximately 60 different categories.


The Manischewitz brand was founded in a small bakery built to make Passover matzo in 1888 by Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1932, Rabbi Manischewitz opened a plant in Jersey City, NJ, replacing the operation in Cincinnati. This move paved the way for the introduction of new products like Tam Tam Crackers, Chicken Soup, Chicken Broth and Gefilte Fish. Today, Manischewitz continues to introduce unique, delicious, premium specialty food products such as Brisket & Steak Seasoning and Wasabi Creamy Horseradish sauce.


For more information on Manischewitz products, log onto www.manischewitz.com.


* - Packaged Facts - The U.S. Market for Cookies, August 2004
SOURCE R.A.B. Food Group

Monday, August 04, 2008

Something out of "Home Alone"





A 4.5-year-old girl asked a policeman in Ben-Gurion International Airport “where are my parents,” after realizing she was unable to find them. Police acted promptly and in a short time realized that the parents boarded a flight for Paris with 4 of their 5 children, forgetting their youngest in the airport.
The family, numbering 7 persons, arrived at the airport with 18 pieces of luggage according to Sun Dor Airlines officials, reportedly telling airline employees they are leaving Israel for good.
For reasons that are not known, the family was running late as they made their way to the gate and the gate official passes did not realize that the parents handed them seven boarding passes while only six people got onto the plane. One of the employees of the airport’s duty free shops told police he noticed the little girl wandering around on her own, later realizing she was left behind.
Policeman Ofir Ochaiyon explained the “little girl, a really cute girl, began pulling on my trousers asking, ‘where are my parents?’”
Ofir added it was fortunate that the little girl was extremely intelligent and calm, assisting him in determining exactly what was taking place. “I even offered her ice cream” he explained, “but she responded that her parents told her not to eat anything that does not have a badatz hechsher.” He eventually found her ices with an acceptable hechsher and she gladly accepted the well-intentioned gift.
Sarit Ben-Eden, a policewoman in the airport station explained that the girl provided her with the names of her parents, but she was getting scared and began to cry while waiting in the station. While the announcement of the lost child was aired on the airport’s public address system, no one responded. After Ben-Eden checked with passport control police, she was shocked to learn that her parents and her siblings had already cleared passport control and made their way to their flight to Paris.
Passport Control Chief Inspector Amnon Shmueli contacted Son Dor, requesting flight officials verify if the family was indeed on the flight. To his amazement, the parents and other children had taken off for Paris, forgetting the little girl. It was only some 40 minutes into the flight after the captain called the mother to the front of the plane was she made aware that one of her children was missing.
“The parents were in shock” airline officials report, adding they sat speechless in their seats, unable to understand how such an event was permitted to occur without taking notice.
They parents were informed the girl would be arriving on an El Al flight to Paris two hours later. Upon their arrival in Charles de Gaulle International Airport they immediately went to the El Al area to wait for her. Eventually, they were reunited.
Ben-Gurion International Airport Chief Yigal Shabtai stated that when the parents return to Israel, they will be taken for questioning and they may face charges of endangering a minor. Son Dor explains that the fact that flight personnel did not take notice of the missing passenger was a most unfortunate and extremely rare occurrence.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Your Evening Smile*

Tired and Thirsty

The Italian says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have wine.
The Scot says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have scotch.
The Swede says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have aquavit.
The Russian says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have vodka.
The German says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have beer.
The Greek says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have ouzo.
The Jew says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have diabetes.

*Although diabetes is now present in my family -- and perhaps in yours -- I still love this joke, and hope that nobody is offended by it.


Sorry, Jamie Lynn Spears...


...I neglected to wish you a mazel tov on your baby daughter, born last month.





The bottom line is that I hadn't known you'd already given birth. Somehow that news item had escaped me.


But today, while reading that you and Mr. Fiance were planning a September "small, backyard wedding," (small...as in three acres) and that you were already down to pre-pregnancy weight, i thought, "Hey, something's not right here. I've been left out of the loop."


So I sought out a birth announcement...and found it in the fact that you sold exclusive "1st baby photo rights" of Maddie to OK! magazine.
Good for you...getting some large lump sum ought to cover the salary you had to forego as Zoey in Zoey 101. After all, you -- nice, little role model to tweener girls -- had gotten knocked up at age 16 (okay, so in April you turned 17) and the show got cancelled after its third season.
And it's so nice you met your man in church; how Christian of you.
Well, happy baby & happy marriage, Jamie. Hope it's everything you ever dreamed of...while you were a little girl and looking up to big sister/role model Britney.
By the way, why didn't you name your daughter Zoey? Just askin'....

Your Morning Smile

Rebecca & Jacob

Jacob, age 92, and Rebecca, age 89, living in Florida , are all excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding, and on the way they pass a drugstore. Jacob suggests they go in.

Jacob addresses the man behind the counter: "Are you the owner?"

The pharmacist answers, "Yes."

Jacob: "We're about to get married. Do you sell heart medication?"

Pharmacist: "Of course we do."

Jacob: "How about medicine for circulation?"

Pharmacist: "All kinds."

Jacob: "Medicine for rheumatism and scoliosis?"

Pharmacist: "Definitely."

Jacob: "How about Viagra?"

Pharmacist: "Of course."

Jacob: "Medicine for memory problems, arthritis, jaundice?"

Pharmacist: "Yes, a large variety. The works."

Jacob: "What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol, antidotes for Parkinson's disease?"

Pharmacist: "Absolutely."

Jacob: "You sell wheelchairs and walkers?"

Pharmacist: "All speeds and sizes."

Jacob: "Good! We'd like to use this store as our bridal registry."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sorrow & Simcha: Life's Juxtaposition

You may link to my piece in this week's online edition of New York's Jewish Press. (I will buy a print edition on Friday, its release date.)

It was very minimally edited and thankfully did not lose any of its essence. The one error is in my bio: the link to my blog was typed incorrectly. It should not have had a period after the www -- that link takes you to a single post of mine, written nearly 4 years ago.

I hope you enjoy my writing.


**Update: the link was corrected apparently; thus my first commenter was able to find me okay.
Thank you, Jewish Press, for making the correction.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Four Seasons Lodge

I was perusing an American publication online and discovered this documentary: Four Seasons Lodge.

Taken from a program where it premiered at a film festival in Washington last month:

In 2005, New York Times journalist Andrew Jacobs found a group of Holocaust survivors who, since 1979, have spent their summers together at the Four Seasons Lodge, one of the few remaining bungalow communities hidden in upstate New York’s lush Catskill mountains. Jacobs was so mesmerized by the group that he returned as a filmmaker to document the rich traditions, lifelong friendships, and collective memory of the residents before they disappeared.

Now in their 80s and 90s, the German and Polish Jews of the Four Seasons Lodge are among the few who continue the Catskill summer vacation tradition. Every summer they gather, laughing and bickering like family, recounting unthinkable times through bittersweet tears and finding strength and refuge in each other’s company.

Lodge president Carl patrols the grounds, resolving issues and squabbles. Vice president Hymie’s handyman skills and humor are always in demand. Genya and Olga, friends for over 65 years, confide and argue like sisters. Jacobs shows them in the present, and traces their history through revealing archival footage and photos. As summer nears its end, the Lodge’s future is uncertain: some residents push for its sale while others are adamant that their refuge remain intact. Yet whatever happens, the family bonds will remain.

A comical yet touching portrait, FOUR SEASONS LODGE celebrates the lives of those who have overcome unfathomable events. As one of the residents proclaims, “To live this long, this well, is a victory.”

Check out the trailer.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion

After my mother-in-law passed away last month, I felt the need to write something -- not in particular about her, but about the experience of going through two major milestones in one week: her death on the Monday evening and my oldest child's bar mitzvah on the Shabbos.

I had gone to a wedding on the night before she passed away, I went to her funeral on the Tuesday, I went to my son's bar mitzvah on Shabbos and I went to an unveiling on Sunday. The only thing missing was a bris.

Talk about life cycles...

I wrote my personal essay, then looked around to find it a home in print. Aish.com was the first place that came to mind, but they didn't want it. The Canadian Jewish News agreed to hold on to it for a while, should there be extra space in the paper (but never actually saying they would run it, either). I tried Mishpacha magazine with a query, but didn't hear back.

Then I recalled THE JEWISH PRESS, out of NY. Years ago, when I was still single, I'd had two personal humorous essays appear in their singles' pages. I'd been thrilled with the venue, knowing that I'd be hitting the right target audience with my words.

So I went straight to the top and queried the senior editor of The Jewish Press and ... long story short... Jason Maoz agreed to print the piece.

The newspaper is accessible throughout the U.S. and Canada, with a large proportion of the readership in the NY/New Jersey area and perhaps in Florida as well. My piece will appear somewhere in the newspaper this Friday, August 1st. It will be available in their online edition Wednesday, July 30th.

In bungalow colonies in the Catskills, in family rooms across the five boroughs, at lakefront summer homes this Shabbos, people will be reading my words. Strangers will be getting a glimpse into my psyche. My late mother-in-law, z"l, will be receiving some form of recognition.

It's always nice to get published; it's nicer to get published when a piece has personal significance in your life.

My words will have found a home and for that I'm grateful.