Masks

Note: This article appeared in the November issue of The Scroll.

Masks. We are all wearing them. There are all kinds: three-ply surgical, KN95, N95, cloth (with and without filter), designer, bandana, etc. Masks are in nowadays. They’re all the rage. You can even get designer masks now. Like a sports team? Get a mask with their name and logo.Supporting a candidate? They got masks too. Companies and unions are making up custom masks for their employees and members. Yep, everywhere you look someone is wearing some kind of mask.

And, that’s a good thing. In today’s day of COVID, masks are a way to protect ourselves and others from the virus.

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It’s More than Stones

Note: This article was published in the October issue of The Scroll.

The building looked old. I would have to guess that it was more than 100 years old. I had to climb three flights of stairs. The walls had clearly not seen a wet paintbrush in decades. The paint had obviously been peeling off although all the flaking paint had been cleaned away. The concrete steps were sturdy but showed their age. They too had not been painted in many years.

When I reached the third floor, a sign pointed me to a huge open space. I paced it out and it measured approximately 125 x 250 feet. It was clearly a former factory floor although I am betting it had not served that purpose in a very long time. For all I know, this may have been the site of a former sweatshop from the early 20th century.

Its purpose on this day was much different.

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Optics

This article was written for the August edition of The Scroll but was published in September.

Everything has two sides to it: What it looks like and what it really is. The trick, and a true test of one’s perception, is to be able to tell the difference. Some of us are more inclined to pay attention to what something looks like rather than what it actually is. This is not uncommon and, in many ways, perfectly natural. We live in a society that is heavily based on this concept. For more than a half-century, advertising geniuses have earned millions just for making us see products as the brand makers want us to see them without really considering what they really are. I mean, think about it… When you see a Rolls Royce, do you see a well-made car or does your brain just scream “MONEY.” We were told that we would like Life cereal because even Mikey liked it (and he hates everything). At the checkout aisle of any department store or supermarket, you will find products just waiting for you to see and buy them on impulse: whether you need them or not.

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Joy in a Mitzvah

Author’s Note: This article appeared in the July, 2020 issue of The Scroll.

It is a rare thing when I get to do a Mitzvah for the first time, so rare that I cannot remember the last time it happened to me. Oh sure, I remember the first time I put on Tefillin and even the first time I recited the Birkat Kohanim with my dad. But, the truth is, after 56 years of life, it sure feels like  there is not much that I haven’t done (that I can, that is). Still, recently I had the experience of performing a Mitzvah that I do not recall ever doing before. How it came about is an interesting story; one in which I have found some meaning and would like to share with you.

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Being Creative

Authors Note: This article appeared in the June, 2020 issue of The Scroll.

Ahhh… Shabbos. My favorite day of the week. Even when I was locked up in quarantine and then isolation, Shabbos was still my favorite day of the week. I can’t exactly tell you why… It’s not that I don’t work on Shabbos; after all, I didn’t work when I was in quarantine and isolation. There is a special quality to the day that just calls to me. Shabbos is just a mental recharge every week, regardless of what the rest of my week was like. I also, sometimes, get my best ideas on Shabbos.

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Finding the Light

Author’s Note: This article was written for the May, 2020 issue of The Scroll.

One thing about being a Torah learning Jew: you learn about the history of our people and about our trials and tribulations. Not everyone goes beyond the Tanakh and Talmud but I decided to, many years ago, and have read extensively on many subjects regarding our history, with many more topics on my list of areas to explore. One thing you learn quickly, though, is that we are no strangers to tragedy. We have been through wars, pogroms, a holocaust, epidemics, pandemics, you name it. We have been through it and come through the other side.

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My Corona

Author’s Note: This article was written for the April, 2020 issue of the The Scroll.

It’s 10:20 on a Wednesday morning. I am sitting in my recliner with my Chromebook on my lap writing this article. My cell phones are two feet to my right on a little table and the prettiest girl in the world is sitting in her recliner to my left. What could be better?

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Responsibility

Author’s Note: This article was one of two written for the March, 2020 issue of The Scroll.

Warning: This article contains unrestricted political commentary. Reader’s discretion is advised.

Ahhh… Purim. What a great time of year. This is the time when we read the Megillah, eat, drink, dress in costumes and generally have a good time. For one day, the Jewish people have a morale boost. Especially nowadays, that is a welcome thing.

I often think about how our ways are different from those of society around us. Whenever we celebrate, we always have to take a step back and remember those of us who are less fortunate. On Purim, we have the traditional Mishloach Manot (by the way, if you haven’t gotten your order in, don’t wait. Maybe you still can by the time this is published) in which we give gifts of food to one another. Ever wonder why we do that? The Talmud tells us that the reason we give these gifts is to ensure that everyone has food to celebrate a festive meal. 

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Oy Oy Seven

Author’s Note: This article was one of two written for the March, 2020 issue of The Scroll.

Have I ever told you about the attic? When I was growing up, my mother, may she rest in peace, had hundreds of books stored in our attic. She was a veritable bookworm and she passed that wonderful quality on to me. (I am proud to say that I have passed that on to Yitzchak who also reads incessantly). I have very fond memories of going up into the attic, rummaging around in countless boxes and pulling out a gem. I would then sit in the attic under the window and read for hours. To this day I can hear my mother’s voice yelling “MENACHEM!!!” in her futile quest to find her missing son.

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Identity

Author’s Note: I wrote this article for the February, 2020 issue of The Scroll.

When the Torah was accepted on Mount Sinai, which we will read about on February 15th in Parshat Yisro, our sages tell us that the Jewish people were united. They were “one people with one heart”. Unfortunately, that probably was the only time in history when that statement could be made. 

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