This article appeared in the December, 2021 issue of The Scroll.
In the last three weeks or so, I have been involved with six different grieving families. It started with the passing of our beloved friend, Jules Stern, and followed quickly from there. My daughter-in-law lost her grandmother. A friend of mine lost his mother. You get the idea. The passings happened in rapid order with almost no time to really absorb each one.
I don’t really believe I have experienced that much death in such a short time. Each time there were responsibilities to be fulfilled: services, Shiva visits, etc.
But here’s the interesting point. One might think that seeing six families you care about in pain happen in such a short time might have a negative effect. But, during this time I realized something pretty incredible, and that is what I want to share with you this month.
Continue reading “The Coin”
This article appeared in the November, 2021 issue of The Scroll.
Chanuka is early this year. I am used to celebrating Chanuka in mid-to-late December. This year, it falls at the end of November and carries on into early December. This happens because the Jewish year follows a lunar cycle and is between 10 and 12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar which is based on a solar cycle. This difference causes Jewish holidays to shift relative to the secular calendar.
Continue reading “Partners”
Note: This article was first published in the October 2021 issue of The Scroll.
From whom do you get your inspiration? Have you ever thought about it?
I have to admit that I am very fortunate. My parents have been huge inspirations for me and I have written in the past about how they inspire me each and every day. Today, I would like to tell you about someone else who is a constant source of inspiration to me.
Tacked to a cork board near my desk in one of my two offices is a picture. It shows a mature man (I really can’t think of him as old despite his age) standing in front of one of the greatest monuments to hate in the world: the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei sign above the entrance to that great man-made hell known as Auschwitz. You can see him speaking with someone in the shadow of that horrible icon with the camp buildings in the background.
Continue reading “Inspiration”
Note: This article was published in the August/September 2021 issue of The Scroll.
I am writing this article in Boston, MA. Chana and I are here on an abbreviated vacation. Naturally, we have walked the Freedom Trail, visited Paul Revere’s house, seen the great North Church of “One if land, two if by sea” fame, shopped at Faneuil Hall Marketplace (and saw some interesting street shows), etc. You know the drill. Boston is an historical town and I happen to love history. We have done a lot of walking, talking, thinking (not as much eating as you would think, thank G-d), and, overall, have been enjoying an extended 5 day weekend.
Continue reading “Meaning”
Note: This article appeared in the June 2021 issue of The Scroll.
The best surprises are the pleasant ones. Too many of the surprises I have had over the last year, heck even over the last month, have not been pleasant. I have lost friends to COVID and other maladies, had unexpected problems at work, and so on, and so on. I do not have to go into details here, you all know the story. What I experienced is, I am sure, not all that different from what you have experienced at one time or another in your lives.
There are even times when it seems like unpleasant surprises come at me in seeming rapid fire. Issues at work, in the community, at the congregation, etc. can come up quickly in succession, and sometimes it feels like all I am doing is reacting to one bullet after another. During times like that, I bear in mind one of my favorite country songs, by Rodney Atkins: “If you’re going through h*ll, keep on going… You might get out before the Devil even knows you’re there.”
Continue reading “Pleasant Surprises”
This article originally appeared in the May issue of The Scroll.
I don’t know about you, but I love to read. I got that from my mom, of blessed memory. She was a veritable bookworm and I inherited her love of the written word. My fondest memories are of times when I went into our attic, which was big and filled with boxes many of which contained dozens of books. I would gribbleve (that’s a term my mom used to say whenever we rifled through something… don’t ask me where it comes from or what its literal definition is) through dusty boxes and come up with literary gems that would occupy my mind for hours. Mom used to start wondering where I was and she would call my name at the top of her lungs to try and find me.
Continue reading “I Feel the Need to Read”
This article appeared in the April, 2021 issue of The Scroll.
Every so often, I go back and read my past articles published here in The Scroll. Sometimes I do it for inspiration and sometimes I do it just to check myself to ensure that I am providing an interesting mix of topics from month to month.
Well, I just did that.
I have a white board in my office. I want to go over to it and write 100 times, “I will NOT write about COVID.” In rereading some of my last few articles, it seemed to me that every article I read dealt, in one way or another, with the COVID pandemic. I do not like being repetitive and, even if the topics were different and COVID was only an element in the article, I feel like it has become too prevalent in my writing.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When I write these articles, I write on topics that are on my mind and that I believe will be of interest and use to you, the reader. This pandemic has colored everything for over a year, so I guess it is natural that it would show up, in one form or another, many times. Today, however, I am going to say, at least for this month, ENOUGH ABOUT COVID! I am sick and tired of this bloody pandemic and its effect on our lives. So let’s try, even for a few moments, to just forget about it and take a break.
Continue reading “Moments”
Note: This article appeared in the March 2021 issue of The Scroll.
It’s a sad fact of life that we tend not to appreciate something while we have it. When I was younger, I never really appreciated the freedom I had. I felt good, everything worked fine, I could do almost anything I wanted (so long as I could afford it and my wife would let me). Now, as age starts to creep up on me, I am starting to feel the restraints it brings. The back hurts a little, I don’t sleep as well, I can’t play stickball like I used to… all those things I had, I took for granted, until they were gone. Now, I realize how great I had it and I miss those days. I wish I could get on a real stickball court and teach my grandson how to throw a curveball that had the batter bailing out of the batter’s box before it broke and landed in the lower outside corner of the strike zone box. I wish I could coach his little league baseball team like I used to do with his dad. There are so many things I wish I could do now but time has taken many of those things away from me and now I miss them.
Continue reading “They Paved Paradise (and Put up A Parking Lot)”
Note: This article appeared in the February 2021 issue of The Scroll.
1 year. A whole bloody year. I cannot believe it. I blinked and a year has gone by since the world turned upside down. How do I know this? Because it all went crazy right after Purim last year. And now, this article is for the month in which Purim occurs this year. Inconceivable!
Of course, that’s measured by the Jewish calendar. I count the secular calendar’s begin date on March 16th. Not because it’s my birthday, but because that is when I was first exposed to COVID-19 (I tested positive two weeks later), and that was the first time I broadcast a congregational Mincha service on Facebook Live. So, if you’re counting by the secular calendar, we still have a little more than a month to go. Still, it has been an awfully long time since life was “normal.”
The advent of the vaccine gives me hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and perhaps this long nightmare is finally reaching its end. Too much has been lost, too many people have lost their lives, too much time has been spent indoors, and too many relationships have suffered. The pandemic is hopefully going to end soon, and I wish to be able celebrate that with you in the near future. But, life will never be the same.
Continue reading “The Light of Hope, The Comfort of Meaning”
Note: This appeared in the January 2021 issue of The Scroll.
Living a life that is guided by Torah has many rules. A friend of mine just sent me a video of Ashley Blaker, an orthodox comedian, on how many rules we follow and what it might look like if Christmas were a Yom Tov. It’s bloody brilliant (Blaker is British so it has to be “bloody” brilliant).
Continue reading “Considerayaytion (It’s Keeping Me Wayayayayting)”