Communication

Thank you to the friend, who spent the morning wondering if she paid on her cellphone for incoming calls, or just outgoing. (I though yes, she though no.) She still doesn’t know.

Even so, when a friend called from her seminary in Israel while we were on the bus home, she happily gave in to my nagging and gave it to me so that I, cellphone-less, could also have a quick turn to talk. It was really above and beyond and I was very glad for the opportunity.

Impact

A week or two ago, I was walking through the neighborhood when two little girls passed by on bikes. The second fell off about three feet past me. Concerned, especially since she might have fallen swerving past me (though I was nowhere close), I went back to see if she was ok.

Her sister told me that she was fine, and the girl sprang to her feet. All was well, but as left, I mentioned that I knew someone who even with a helmet, nearly smashed his skull open riding a bike. Not the most encouraging or forceful message, and I wasn’t surprised when they just walked on. I wished I could have done a better job.

Or could I have? Today, when walking along a nearby route, I saw two girls biking down a hill, with helmets. And I’m 95% sure they were the same people.

Another New User

Welcome to Lady Ziva, another new member of the team. We’re so glad to have you. Every new person has what to offer and I’m looking forward to seeing what special things you can share with us. You already made my day for signing up!

Thank you, Mim, for recruiting such a royal staff!

Remember that the contest is still running from our previous new user post.

Congratulations to Mim, Lady Ziva, and Princess Sarite and all our other readers for whom summer has officially started. Though school is out, the world at large is still filled with kindness in spite of (or even maybe because of) the heat. Keep your eyes peeled!

Coincidence? I think not

Today

  1. I had to be home at a certain time so that I could go back out again a few minutes later. Don’t ask.
  2. The bus got caught in minor traffic and was a few minutes late.
  3. As I texted my father, who was meant to meet me outside of shul, to please wait one more minute, the cellphone unexpectedly died, and refused to turn back on for even one more message.
  4. My father had an errand to run and left shul much faster than usual.
  5. I rushed to shul. My father’s car was not in the parking lot, so I went in to ask the Rav if I could call my parents and let them know I would be a few minutes late.

Then what happened?

  1. The Rav told me that he’d seen my father not a minute ago, and went out to check the curb where, unknown to me, he sometimes parks.
  2. My father had just pulled away.
  3. Another Rav, whom I’d never met before, instantly asked where I was going until I gave up on saying that I really could walk on my own as long as my parents were called.
  4. Not only did he drive me home, he spent the entire ride telling me that it wasn’t out of his way, it was meant to be, and how on earth could I deprive him of the opportunity to do a mitzvah.
  5. Meanwhile, the Rav of the Shul called my parents to explain what happened and that I would be home safe soon.
  6. TODAH RABAH

Today was a day with many chasdai Hashem, some revealed and glorious, some hidden and painful. I am immensely grateful to all those who gave the day its glory and gave honour to Hashem.

The brightest light in the darkest place

http://unitedwithisrael.org/the-holocaust-picture-that-offended-facebook/

To me, the point is not that Facebook flagged the photo, or why, or people’s reactions. To me, the biggest deal is not even the photo itself. Thank you Esther, for bringing this photo to my attention, and thank you Miriam, for adding light to a dark world. To me, the point is in Miriam’s own words, quoted by her father, who is quoted at the above link. For the remainder of the article, see their website.

As I searched for an applicable quote to close off this posting in honour of Yom HaShoah, I realized that a very appropriate quote would be the following excerpt from my daughter Miriam’s diary of her recent trip to the death camps of Poland:

“Today was kind of a gap day… The fill in day… And yet, it was one of the saddest days of my trip to Poland…

“Today, we visited a mass grave. Yes, on this program, we’ve been to many and I never cried at any of them. Not as much as I cried here. You see, this mass grave is different… This mass grave holds 700 children. Yes, you heard me… Children.

“Alone, frightened and clinging to whatever family they had with them, if they even had any left to cling to… Nazis shot them… The children… And for what? Because they couldn’t produce… They were useless to the Reich and so, they were shot… Murdered…

“These sweet children… Gone. No longer can we hear their sweet laughter or small feet dancing. No longer can we see the smiles on their faces or the innocent look in their beautiful eyes… Children that didn’t have the chance to live; to become and live their dreams. Stolen from us by the worst animal of all…

“I sat motionless at that mass grave. What else was I able to do? I was barely able to hold my head up… It hurt me more than anything. I don’t think there was one person on our program that didn’t shed a tear when we stood there listening to our rabbi talk about his family and how these children must have felt in their last moments…

“Then he did something I will remember forever.

“He said to us, “These children never got a chance to see the holy land or let alone be buried there. We should give them that chance…” He then proceeded to pick up a box full of dirt. “This,” he said, “is from my backyard. This is soil from Israel. If they can’t be buried in Israel, then we will bring Israel to them. Their light will forever live inside us. Whoever wants, can come take a hand full of soil and sprinkle it over the grave.”

“We all stood around him, frozen. We literally were frozen in place and suddenly I saw a hand reach out and take a handful of dirt and when the hand touched the soft soil, I realized that the hand was mine.

“I looked at the Rabbi and just for a moment, our eyes met. I guess it was a kind of comfort for me… I walked over to the grave and soon others did the same. I looked over that blue painted fence and in my mind, as I held that soil for just a moment longer, the shabbat blessing that a father and mother gives their child came to my mind. Over and over it ran through my head as I watched the wind scatter the soil across the grave.

“Tears just fell freely and all I was able to do was sit there as tears just kept falling. I was frozen at the fact that they were all gone… For no reason other than hatred… These beautiful children are the light in the darkness and their light will forever live on through me and through every breath I take. These children play at the foot of G-d’s Kiseh Hakavod [throne] now.

“Take care of them for me, please… They are with You now.”

– Miriam Ciss, March 27, 2015, Poland

Thank you for sharing these words with us. Though deeply personal, they have something to teach the entire world. Thank you for teaching us a lesson from history, so that we never repeat it. May this bring merit to the children’s memories, all 700 and 1 of them.

The clothes make the girl

I was at the park this Shabbat with my little sister. There was another sweet little girl there of about seven years old. She started talking with us, and after a few questions, then asked, “Are you religious?”

“Yes.” I answered. “Why?”

“You look like it.”

It should be mentioned that I was wearing pale lilac sneakers and a subdued floral baseball cap. (It was a park, and quite sunny out, requiring both.) I was also wearing a tunic and ankle-length black skirt in contrast to a more typical short one.* My glasses were neither notably stylish or distinctly plain.

To her, the dress of a religious girl is exactly as it should be– a long skirt, a long sleeves, and a high neckline. Since most of the other girls in the park were goyim in tank tops, she saw me as being dressed exactly as I should, with no need to contrast me to anything. It was really refreshing.

And who knows? Maybe somehow, deep down, she recognised and acknowledged the effort that it had taken me to get to this point. With G-d’s creations, you never know.

—–

*This was said with a disclaimer. If your minhag or community standard is to wear skirts that are totally tznius but not conspicuously long, then kol hakavod. That is tznius for you because it davka doesn’t draw attention and you should got for it.

In my community, most non-Jewish stores sell three types of skirts– really short, really tight, and really long. Far from being attention-getting, they really are the most modest option.

No Music– More talking (but of course, No lashon Harah)

I often wondered what having no music over Sfirat Haomer has to do with the message of the time. of course, it makes us, (me, me) miserable, but so could many other restrictions. Why music?

This restriction has a modern day effect only a Navi could have foreseen. On the school bus each morning and evening, most people who aren’t chatting listen to music. It’s a wonderful way to recharge for the work ahead.

You have no idea how much more sociable the bus was last Monday. At first, everyone was simply kvetching and commiserating. Those who could swapped recommendations for a capella. But by the end of the long ride, everyone was chatting happily.

Even I was drawn in. Why? Though I had an audiobook to listen to– my headphones broke over Pesach cleaning! So while at first it began with some harmless conversations about ‘G-d doesn’t want to make us miserable, so obviously there’s a point to this.’ (Which, by the way, is my motto during Sfira. We’re supposed to learn from the experience.)

And yet, (gasp), yesterday I talked the entire ride home with a friend. In my defence, I was hyper and off the wall and she’s leaving for seminary next year, but still.

During Sfira, it’s nice to see that a restriction can no only upset us, but serve as a springboard for growth. In this case, the growth is in the exact area we need to improve during this time.

May our efforts in increased achdus during these days bring us to Shavout in the Bais Ha’mikdash, SOON!

Helping hand

We had a major snowstorm in our area this week and some streets still haven’t been plowed properly, leaving piles of snow by the sides of the road. Today I saw an elderly women having difficulty getting herself and her cart over the slush. Two people, one of them a student at the local Jewish high school, helped her walk and move her bags over the pile of snow between the curb and the sidewalk to saftey.

I must say, in these times where one thing everyone has in common is hate, it’s nice to see another universal message. When someone reaches out their hand for help, how can you not respond?