Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Wedding in the Family: Dvar Torah for Shabbos Sheva Brachos / Vayechi 5778

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I want to tell you about a little girl I knew once. A baby, really, and whenever she would sit and eat in her high chair, whatever it was – rice cakes, Cheerios, cookies, whatever – she would insist on having two of them. One for each hand. A very smart girl: she wouldn’t start eating until she knew where her next meal was coming from. Even then, she was planning for the future: one rice cake in each fist.

There is no crazy twist ending – that girl was, of course, this sweet, amazing Elisheva Chaya, who has somehow gone and grown up. I don’t know how this happens. Perhaps those of you who have known Shraggie all along are similarly surprised at how this could have happened, right under our noses. No, I’m not going to start singing “Sunrise, Sunset,” but you all know I could at any moment.

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Over the last few weeks in the parsha, we have been reading the story of Yosef, a story which is all about grasping the present while planning for the future: planning for famine, planning for geulah – Hashem planting the seeds of redemption even before the exile begins.

You, Elisheva Chaya, come from a long line of people who cared very, very deeply about the Jewish future. A line of strong and occasionally stubborn people. People who crossed oceans and worked for the community to build a future in every way they could. Your grandfather, Bubby’s father, Sam Posluns, was among the first Canadians to visit Europe after the war and witness the devastation, not just to gasp in horror, as most of us probably would have done, but to report back and figure out what the Jewish community could do to make these people whole again. He was also a founder and early president of

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why it’s never a good idea to write a children’s book out of spite

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I found out 2 days ago that an author out there is making a name for herself by writing and self-publishing a book called “P is for Palestine.”  Cute book, right? So sweet and happy and intifada-friendly.

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Oh, I’m not making that up.  This book is all over the intifada: “I is for Intifada.  Intifada is Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or a grownup!”

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If you’re guessing that that book includes absolutely ZERO about the other people who share this land – “Hello, yeah, us, the Jews who have been here ALL ALONG???” - you’re right.  The book is an unsurprisingly one-sided narrative

According to the author, who crowdfunded over $15,000 for this project (preselling the book for $16 per copy with free shipping in the U.S.), “There are currently countless alphabet books about most countries, cities, and themes in the world…But none about or for Palestine in the English language.  Until now…”

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She’s right.  There were none.  And there still ARE none.

Now that this writer has succeeded and is going into a second printing, with all kinds of rave reviews and great publicity around the world, there’s STILL no book about or for Palestine in the English language that discusses anyone other than its Arab inhabitants.

Pride and national identity are great, but not at the expense of others.  This book denies the existence of Israel.  This book advocates violence.  (See above if you don’t believe me – “I” would have been a great place to mention Israel… or anything, really, other than Intifada.)

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This book makes a lot of people I know sick.  And they’re not the only ones.

In case you're wondering who's raving about the book, one of the most adoring reviews on the writer's Etsy shop is from a female Jewish

Sunday, December 03, 2017

When am I no longer faking it?

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I just caught a glimpse of myself in a reflection, in a car window, on my way to the train station.

“Wow,” I thought.  “That sure does look like the real deal.”

What do I mean by the real deal?

Well, you know

Okay, I’ll come out and say it.  A 40-something frum woman, hair covered, a little dumpy, a little boring, pretty content with her quiet life off somewhere in Nowhereville, Israel, following the ways of Hashem.  You’d never know I was only faking it.

Becoming a baalas teshuvah in my early 20s, fitting in was super-important, because if you think about it, I was kind of in freefall.  I’d given up a whole lot – friends, beliefs, even, to some extent, family.  So being accepted was kind of a matter of survival – if I wasn’t accepted, I’d be all alone.

So when did I stop caring?

I don’t know if I ever did, but