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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

One Step at a Time

By Libby Lazewnik



Sometimes a miracle can be a two-way street, leading more than one person to take the first move in a whole new direction

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If you happened to be walking past a certain bungalow colony last summer, you may have seen a strange pair walking slowly — very slowly — down a tree-lined path.

One of the pair was a typical Jewish boy of ten years. He was dressed in Sabbath finery and had a shining black yarmulke on his head. What was less typical was the difficulty he was having with the simple process of walking down the path. He hobbled along on a pair of crutches, hopping over rough spots and wincing when the jolt sent a wave of pain up his leg. Wisely, his companion did not offer to help.

The other boy was considerably older, about seventeen, and his appearance differed greatly from that of his young walking partner. He wore a very different style in clothes, and on his head, instead of a yarmulke, sat a worn baseball cap. He eventually led his young companion back to their starting point, talking all the way. There was an undeniable sparkle in his eye as they strolled gently beneath the trees.

What was surprising was the matching sparkle in the younger boy's eye.

Seeing it, the boy's father breathed a long sigh of relief. Miracles, he reflected happily, really do happen!


"All I'm asking," Gershy growled, "is for everybody to LEAVE ME ALONE!"

His parents exchanged a glance. Mrs. Berlin looked worried; her husband looked thoughtful. With one accord, they turned back to their son.

"We'll leave you alone, if you want," Rabbi Berlin said quietly. "But you'd have a much better time if you sat outside and could see what was happening all around you."

"Yes, how can you stay cooped up in this bungalow on such a beautiful day?" Mrs. Berlin asked. "Come on, Gershy. Let's just get your crutches and make you nice and comfortable in a chair. You can see the kids playing and I'm sure they'll keep you from feeling too lonely."

In answer, Gershy only scowled. However, it was boring in the little bungalow. His younger brothers and sisters were already playing happily on the grass with their friends. He allowed himself to be led outside, where his parents settled him in a chair with his broken leg, cast and all, propped up in front of him on another. Catching sight of him, a group of boys who'd been idly tossing a ball around moved closer with friendly greetings. Gershy's reply was a deeper scowl.

The boys pretended not to notice.

"Hey, Gershy, how's it going?"

"How do you think it's going?" The words shot out of Gershy's mouth with the force of bullets from a gun. "With one leg out of commission, I'm having the time of my life. I just love sitting around and doing nothing. Yes, I'm having a ball!" The sarcasm was as withering as a blast of hot, dry air.

"Well, uh…" The boys began to retreat from the blast. Gershy said nothing to stop them. Within seconds, they were back at their game. Instead of watching them, Gershy slumped in his chair and scowled down at his cast.

Mrs. Berlin's heart sank. After weeks of anticipation leading up to their trip to the country, Gershy had gone and broken his leg just a couple of days before their arrival. He'd been terrible company on the way up and was, if anything, even worse now. And this was only the first week of the summer! How was Gershy going to get through the rest of it?

With a sigh, she returned to the kitchen to resume her cooking. It was a long summer Friday, but there was still plenty to do before she'd be ready to usher in the Sabbath. In a way, she was glad. Keeping busy was one way to keep her mind off her worries.

Rabbi Berlin was also watching his son, but he wasn't worrying about the rest of Gershy's summer. He was worrying about the rest of Gershy's life.

Ever since his leg had broken, the child had become grumpy, hostile and so full of self-pity that it practically poured out of him. The boy's middos had taken an alarming turn for the worse. Sometimes it seemed as though it would take nothing short of a miracle to set him straight again…

He cast a last glance at his son before heading for the shul (synagogue) and his learning partner. Behind him, Gershy sat enthroned on his chair, moodily ignoring the flow of lively high spirits all around him. He was a small monarch, reigning over his tiny island in frowning solitude.


It was an impossibly beautiful day.

Over the past six months, Jonathan (Jon for short) had often imagined days like this one. They must have happened, but he hadn't been around to see them except through a window. The green of the trees he passed as he biked slowly down the country road seemed greener than anything he could remember having seen before. The sky was bluer, too. Each breath he took was like a sip of fine wine. It was great to be alive!

He picked up the pace a little — but only a little. The doctors had warned him to take it easy at first. A bike ride down a quiet road seemed just the thing. He would stop to rest when he felt tired, and make sure to drink plenty of water as he went along.

Water? With a pang of dismay, Jon felt the small knapsack slung on his back. It was light — unusually so. He must have forgotten to pack the two cold water bottles he'd prepared on the counter back home…

He brought his bike to a halt and took off the knapsack. Sure enough, it was devoid of water. There was only an empty bottle, souvenir of some long-ago ride or hike. He'd once done a lot of that… But what use was an empty water bottle?

He climbed back onto his bike, one foot on the road as he considered his options. He didn't want to turn back. On the other hand, riding without drinking in this warm weather could be a recipe for disaster.

Suddenly, his brow cleared. Water was not a precious commodity. Just about anyone would be willing to supply him with some, at the twist of a tap! He would simply ride along until he came to some sign of habitation, and ask if he could fill his water bottle. Decision made, he resumed his ride with the same enjoyment as before. Lacy shadows dappled the road, which rose and dipped gently between the trees. The sun was warm on his shoulders, making him glad of the brim of his baseball cap, which shaded his eyes against its occasional glare. Even the mild ache in his legs from the effort of pedaling felt pleasant.

Everything was good today. Every tree, every buzzing fly and flitting bird, every single breath felt like — a miracle!


"How come Gershy doesn't have to sit at the Sabbath table with the rest of us?" Gershy's younger sister demanded.

"Don't complain," the next brother in line advised. "Who wants him around, anyway?"

"Children," their mother said wearily. "That's no way to talk. Gershy is very upset that he broke his leg, that's all. He asked to be excused from the seudah (festive meal) today. He's eating something by himself in the kitchen."

"I want to eat in the kitchen, too!" another sibling protested. "It's hot out here!"

Given the size of the family, the only table large enough to accommodate all of them at once was actually two of them — two picnic tables pushed together to make one long stretch. Covered with a white cloth and only partially shaded by a neighboring tree, the impromptu "dining room" table was loaded down with Sabbath delicacies.

"Forget it," his brother told him. "Gershy'll bite your head off if you walk in there…" "Children," Rabbi Berlin said warningly. The children subsided.

In the kitchen, Gershy blocked out the sounds of his family's voices and picked at his food. Like his mother the day before, he was gazing bleakly at the long summer ahead of him and wondering how he was going to survive it. He felt as if some heedless giant had picked up a bucket of gray paint and poured it over the whole world. All the excitement and pleasure he'd been feeling at the prospect of his summer vacation had turned to dust and ashes. Nothing attracted him anymore. No activity seemed worth the effort. Even his favorite foods didn't taste good to him these days. Life was one long, dreary road, with the single bright point being the day — weeks and weeks from now — when he'd finally get the cast off. By then, the summer would be drawing to a close.

It wasn't fair! His whole summer had been stolen from him. Why'd he have to go and break his leg, anyhow? Not the feeblest ray of optimism lit the grim landscape of his heart. Sabbath, weekdays — it was all the same to him. There was no pleasure anywhere.

With a tremendous frown, he pushed away his plate and hopped over to the day-bed against the kitchen wall. His life had become reduced to these three rooms and a chair outside the bungalow. A tidal wave of self-pity rocked him to his foundations… When it was over, he sat huddled on the bed trying to dry his wet cheeks with the palms of his hands, before his sisters and brothers came barging in asking a lot of questions he didn't want to answer.


Here was a place. It wasn't a private residence, Jon saw, but rather a bungalow colony — a well-kept one, with a neatly-painted main building and a lot of smaller bungalows dotting the shaded paths as far as the eye could see.

He headed for the main building first. Propping his bike against the wall, he went to the door and peeked inside. This was clearly not a home for people to live in. There were tables and benches, with a curtain dividing one-third of the big room from the rest. At the front was an impressive-looking ark with a velvet cloth in front of it. Jon backed away, feeling suddenly uncomfortable, as though he'd intruded on something he shouldn't have. Retrieving his bike, he pedaled slowly down the first path he came to.

As he rode, the sounds of singing reached his ears on the breeze. First from one bungalow and then from another, strains of song wafted on the air. He stopped to listen, entranced. What kind of place was this? Why were people singing? Was there some sort of celebration going on? His quest for water to fill his bottle was momentarily forgotten in his sense of intrigue.

Rounding a bend in the path, he came upon his first glimpse of humanity. A family was having a picnic lunch in front of their bungalow. Though it was an ordinary Saturday, everyone from parents to children was dressed in their finest. Jon caught himself staring and, conscious of his manners, quickly averted his eyes. One of the kids, catching sight of him, pointed and babbled excitedly to his father. A tall, bearded man stood up and smiled at Jon in a pleasant fashion.

"Hello," the rabbi said. (Jon instinctively knew that he must be a rabbi.) "What can I do for you? Have you lost your way?"

Jon smiled back, immediately at ease. "Not exactly. I mean, I know where I am — about three miles from the hotel my folks run."

"Oh? Do your parents own the Wiltshire Hotel?"

"That's the one. I… I was just out for a bike ride, when I realized that I forgot to bring any water with me. I'm afraid of getting dehydrated in this weather…"

The rabbi's wife was already on her feet. "Do you need a bottle of water?"

Jon fished inside his knapsack. "I already have the bottle. All I need is the water…" Mrs. Berlin took the bottle from him and disappeared inside the bungalow. Around the table, all the children stared in frank curiosity at the stranger. Rabbi Berlin asked, "Would you like to sit down and rest a minute? You've biked a long way."

"Thanks," said Jon, dropping into an empty spot at the end of one bench. "It's not really that long, though. I used to bike ten, fifteen miles at a stretch and not even feel it."

"Used to?"

"Before my accident, I mean."

Rabbi Berlin looked interested. Encouraged, Jon found himself speaking of a painful interlude in his life.

"I'd just gotten my driver's license — and a new motorcycle. I was on top of the world. Noise and speed and long country roads — who could ask for more? At sixteen, I sure couldn't…"

"And — the accident?" Rabbi Berlin prompted quietly.

"It was me and a truck, and the truck won… I broke both legs, concussed my head, and did something to my back that forced me to spend a lot of time — a lot of time — flat in bed. Altogether, it's been six months. The first two in a hospital, and the rest in rehab — to learn how to walk again."

"Wow!" one of the Berlin youngsters exclaimed. "Six months! That's a long time."

"Very long," Jon agreed with a twinkle. "But" — he flung out his arms as though his joy was too large a thing to be contained — "I'm on my feet again now, and it's terrific! I'd forgotten what an amazing world it is. Everything's even better than I remembered!"

His enthusiasm was infectious. All the children wore matching smiles. Rabbi Berlin said, "G-d's world is truly amazing… what did you say your name was?"

"I didn't say, yet. It's Jon. Jonathan Markowitz." At the rabbi's questioning look, he added, "Yes, I'm Jewish, too." He glanced doubtfully at the table. "Is this some sort of Jewish celebration or something? Everyone's so dressed up. What's the party for?"

Some of the kids laughed. Rabbi Berlin quelled them with a glance, then told Jon, "This is the weekly 'celebration' known as Shabbes. Have you heard of it?"

Jon hadn't, but he was willing to hear now. Somehow, this incursion into foreign territory seemed part and parcel with this perfect day: the splendid weather, the peaceful country road, his joy in living.

"It's a celebration of G-d creating the world," Rabbi Berlin said. "For six days, He created — and on the seventh, He rested."

Jon cast an eye over the festive table. "So, you guys are resting, too?"

"In a way. The way prescribed by Jewish law…"

They were engaged in a discussion of the 39 forbidden labors when Mrs. Berlin returned with Jon's bottle, now filled to the brim with cold, sparkling water. Behind her, Gershy hobbled onto the porch on his crutches. His usual scowl had been temporarily replaced by a curious stare.

Jon broke off what he was saying to wave at Gershy, who didn't wave back.

"That," Rabbi Berlin said, following Jon's gaze, "is my oldest son, Gershy. He broke his leg a few days ago and is not happy about it…"

In a flash, Jon was up the porch stairs and standing in front of Gershy. "How'd it happen?" he asked interestedly.

Gershy gaped up at the older boy with the light-filled eyes and the aging baseball cap. "I fell off a ladder," he muttered.

"And you're alive to tell the tale. Wow," Jon said reverently. "I've heard of people who fell off ladders and weren't so lucky."

"Lucky?" Gershy burst out, his face contorted in bitterness and pain. "Lucky? You call it 'lucky' when I won't be able to do a single thing all summer except sit in a chair?

Lucky?"

"You can breathe," Jon said, speaking as one veteran of an accident to another. "I've been there, man — I know. You can see, and you can hear, and you can read. You can think. You can say, 'Thank you, G-d'! when you wake up and when you go to bed. You're alive, man! You're alive!"

Almost imperceptibly, the bitter bile began to drain away from Gershy's heart, where it had recently been stockpiling to alarming proportions. He peeked up at Jon's smiling face and the light in his eyes. "You've — been there?" he repeated tentatively.

"Sure I have! I could tell you stories that would raise the hair on the back of your neck. But you don't want to hear." With a rueful grin, Jon turned to go back down the steps. A throat cleared just behind him. "On the contrary, I think Gershy would be very interested in hearing. Wouldn't you, Gershy?"

As his son hesitated, he added, "And Jon would love to hear more about Shabbes from you, too. Isn't that right, Jon?"

Both boys, young and old, nodded simultaneously. Rabbi Berlin helped Gershy down the stairs, then saw the two off down the shaded path. Many wondering eyes watched the progress of the pair as they moved down the path at a snail's pace. But it was Rabbi Berlin's and his wife's that were the most wondering of all.

"Yes," Gershy's father thought, as his son started back down the path with their brand-new friend.

"Yes, indeed," he thought again, as they came close enough for him to see the newfound sparkle in Gershy's eye.

And, "Absolutely!" he thought with satisfaction, as Jon joined them for dessert and more animated talk. "Miracles really do happen… just when you need them!"

And sometimes the miracle could be a two-way street, leading more than one person to take the first step in a whole new direction.

With some adroit rearranging, he placed Jon at his right hand and Gershy at his left. And the miracle went on…

JewishWorldReview.com regularly publishes uplifting and inspirational stories. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Libby Lazewnik, the highly acclaimed juvenile author, writes weekly for the Monsey, New York-based Yated Ne'eman. Comment by clicking here.

Looking through the two-way glass
Up the Mountain
An Inconvenient Friend
Shock Treatment
The Other Kind
Cold Cash
Two Girls
Willard the Two Faced
A Promise fulfilled
Making his rounds
Fast Forward
Precious Gifts
Rebel at the Smithsonian
A Question Of Light
Person To Person
Winner Takes All — one for the books
Front Page News
Covering for his twin



© 2008, Yated Ne'eman