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04/02/2020 04:57:51 PM




While most of us are staying at home, and sometimes getting bored here are some words of hope written by Rabbis at Aish Hatorah in Jerusalem


The weekly bulletin will follow tomorrow



Passover and Corona: A Message of Hope


Passover is coming with a powerful message that speaks to us today.


During these times, we have to be creative with how we usually interact with one another. Much of Jewish life is based on community, and without it we are not the same. Nonetheless, we Jews are strong. We’ve been through difficult times before so we need to find a way to keep our religion and communities going.





We are plunged into a world we have never imagined. Many are gripped by fear, anxiety, and disbelief. The unknown is frightening. We must cope with worries – physical, financial, emotional. Parents are distressed for their children, and children distressed for their parents. How long can we go on like this?

Every time the phone pings with news updates, there is another dent in our mental armor. We are depleted. How can we find the strength and positivity to overcome our challenges?

Though we do not have prophets to speak to us, we do have Jewish wisdom to guide us.

In a world filled with chaos we yearn for security and stability. We are now preparing for Passover and anticipating Seder night. The definition of ‘Seder’ is ‘order’, exactly the safety net we crave. First, we must hear the message of our Seder. Know without a doubt that we are not alone in this world. Just as our people wondered in Egypt if they would ever get out of the awful darkness they were suffering, we too may wonder: Are we spiraling out of control? Will we ever see the light again?

God took us out of Egypt and we will get out of this darkness too.

Seder night comes to teach us perspective for life. There is marror (bitter herbs), it is true. Our forefathers had many moments of grief. There were times that they were anguished and felt as if they had lost their spirit. But they did not allow the marror moments to overcome them. They were not stripped of their faith. We dip the marror into charoset – a delicious mixture of apples, nuts, wine and honey – to teach us that even in the most difficult of times we must see the sweetness that imbues our life. The friendships, the love, the resilience, the kindness that surrounds us. God took us out of Egypt and we will get out of this darkness too.

At our Seder we make a sandwich of matzah and marror with a bit of charoset, for such is life. Sandwiched between the hardships are the flashes of joy. Grab onto them! Seize the moment.

With quarantines and social distancing, take this time to build a bridge. Call someone you’ve lost touch with. Think of others who are feeling isolated right now and hug them with your heart.

This one germ has spread throughout the world and created havoc. Imagine how one good word, one good deed could spread throughout the world and counter the devastation. Your light could spread from one person to another, and on and on. The antidote to destruction is creation. Create goodness. Be a blessing.

Rabbi Akiva's Optimism

It is easy to grow hopeless. We are not the first to feel this way.

Our Haggadah speaks of a famous Seder that took place in Bnei Brak. There were many great rabbis sitting together. One rabbi mentioned is Rabbi Akiva, who was actually the younger scholar hosting the elders. The rabbis spoke about the exodus until their students came in to say, “Rabbis, it is time to recite the morning Shema prayer!”

My dear readers, this Seder invite Rabbi Akiva into your hearts. He will give you strength. He will empower you with courage.

Rabbi Akiva lived in the darkest of times. The holy Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed. The Romans had conquered the land. The spirit of the Jewish nation had been crushed; their soul trampled upon. Studying Torah and doing mitzvot were met with imprisonment, torture and death. Soon the long and bitter exile would begin. The Jews would be put into chains and sold in the Roman slave market. Who could think about joining a Seder in such darkness? Who could feel inspired and speak about the exodus in Egypt when despair was in the air?

This is exactly why the sages met in the home of Rabbi Akiva.

Rabbi Akiva was the eternal optimist. He refused to surrender to depression. Where others saw the end of the road, he saw the beginning of the journey. His eye was always on the future. His heart was eternally filled with faith.

We meet Rabbi Akiva once again when he is walking with his peers up to Jerusalem When they reached Mount Scopus, they tore their garments from grief at the sight of devastation. As they reached the Temple Mount, a fox emerged from the place that had been the Holy of Holies. The rabbis started to weep. Rabbi Akiva laughed. “Why are you laughing?” they asked. He explained that while they see the destruction of the sacred, he sees the fulfillment of prophecy. Just as the first part of prophecy had been fulfilled, that the Temple would be destroyed, now we must look forward to the second part of the prophecy-the rebuilding of our Temple and return of our people.

We must gather now round the table of Rabbi Akiva. It takes courage to keep a positive spirit. The sages assembled by the spirit who would keep hope and faith alive. As long as we do not get stuck in the blackness of yesterday we can emerge into the brightness of tomorrow. Is it easy? No, it takes all you’ve got. But if you are able to spend the night recalling the exodus, reinforcing within the understanding that there is a God who watches over you, cares for you, and takes you out of your personal Egypt, you will make it. We must tap into the eternal optimism of Rabbi Akiva.

When the students came in to say it is time for the morning Shema they were transmitting a message to us, today: Don’t give up. Don’t fall into despair. The darkest part of the night comes just before dawn.

The morning Shema is a prayer of clear-cut faith. There are no hazy doubts. It is bright and unobscured. We proclaim our unwavering belief with one voice.

We will stand up again. We will feel joy again. We will rebuild.


A Holocaust Survivor in Quarantine


Until recently, I was fully independent; I even drove my own car, a jeep in which I loved taking my children and grandchildren for trips "off the road". But lately I've been feeling my age. I don't see or hear as well, and I can't move as fast as I used to, so I stopped driving. But as a survivor, I didn't let that stop me. I began walking more and doing my shopping closer to home. I love the Machene Yehuda market, the shuk; it reminds me of the many markets where I sold socks.

I get so much joy from my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and love when they visit. It's amazing how my Hebrew has improved even at my age by speaking with them. They are my "Jewish revenge"; the Nazis wanted to kill me but God blessed us with generations living in Israel.

I also like going to shul. After prayers I share a few words with the other gentleman. They constantly seem to be getting younger and younger and I seem to be getting older and older. I believe I'm one of the oldest in the minyan now.

And now, because of the coronavirus, all these simple pleasures must be curtailed. It is dangerous for me to go to shul. My grandchildren and great grandchildren can no longer visit. Machane Yehuda has been shut down because of the pandemic. I must adapt to these changes as well.

When I think about all the current quarantine rules I can't help but compare them to what I had to live through in hiding during the war. I was hiding in order to save my life. The quarantine rules are also meant to save lives. These rules may seem extreme now. It is a big change for many people, a loss of freedom, but they are nothing compared to what we endured when we went into hiding during WWII.

My current quarantine is paradise compared to what I lived through during the war.

The fear of being found out, or ratted on. The utter boredom because we couldn't move or talk all day. One day, two days. One week, two weeks. One month, two months…I always wondered to myself, when will I be able to go outside and get a bit of fresh air without fear of being caught by the Gestapo?

My current quarantine is paradise compared to what I lived through during the war. I can walk around my house which is located in Jerusalem. In those days I never dreamed that I would survive, let alone be living in the holy city of Jerusalem. I have food to eat with my wife and sunlight entering our windows. I have learned how to use WhatsApp and was even able to watch as my granddaughter did her cooking for Shabbat. I prefer to count my blessings rather than complain.

What worries me is that people don't take the rules of the health ministry seriously enough. Some people ignore them. They don't realize that these are life and death matters. The disease is spreading. We don't want the situation here to be like in other countries around the world.

The first person who died here in Israel from the virus was an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor. Let us honor his memory by heeding the rules of the ministry of health. I beg you. This is the least we can do to save lives. We are living in unusual times and we are all in this together. A bit of inconvenience now will save lives and stop this situation quicker.

I have given up spending time with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren in order to comply with health regulations. I wish everyone would follow those rules. Please don't hang out with friends at the beach. Don't go to the mall. Don't invite all your friends over for a party. Just stay at home and enjoy your immediate family. And don't forget to call your grandparents! Doing all those things might just save their life. AM YISRAEL CHAI!





As Jewish women the world over are keenly aware, the holiday of Passover is quickly approaching. Passover begins next week on Wednesday night, April 8th, and for the last month Jewish women everywhere have been frantically cleaning and cooking in preparation for the holiday. Jewish men also spend time preparing for Passover, but it mostly concerns an in depth investigation into what types of alcohol are acceptable for Passover.

There's a story of a young husband who is vaguely aware that his wife is overwhelmed with preparing for the upcoming Passover and asks her what he can do to be helpful. After careful consideration she responds,“You want to be helpful? Leave the house for the entire day and don't bother me while I try to clean and get everything ready.”

The husband responds, “Fine, I also have some things I have to do, I will see you later.” A few hours later, around midday, he strolls back into the house. His wife asks, “What are you doing home? I thought we agreed that you would be out the entire day?”

The husband replies, “You didn't actually expect me to help the whole day did you?”

Perhaps the most famous question related to Passover is: “Why is this night different than all other nights?” Unfortunately, this year the answer is very obvious. Jews all over the world will be celebrating this Passover almost exactly the same way that their ancestors celebrated the very first Passover in Egypt over 3,300 years ago; closed up in their homes with their nuclear families because of the plague that was claiming lives in the streets.









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