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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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 Oct. 9, 2006 / 17 Tishrei, 5766

Great country, great people

By Joseph Aaron


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | This country continues to amaze me.

The Jewish people continue to amaze me.

Let's start with the United States of America, land that I love.

The constitution of the United States of America says the new term of the Supreme Court is to begin on the first Monday of October each year.

Only problem with that is that, this year, the first Monday of October was Yom Kippur.

And so, a conflict between the holiest day of the year for about five million or so Americans out of a population of about 300 million, and convening the opening session of the highest court in the land on the day the constitution calls for.

How was that conflict resolved? By postponing the beginning of the Supreme Court's new term.

What a country.

Now, admittedly the decision wasn't just made for philosophical reasons. There was something very practical going on. Namely that two members of the Supreme Court are Jews and so wouldn't have been there.

Two out of nine members of this country's highest court are Jews.

What a country.

It's good every now and then to stop a minute to recognize how wonderful this country is for Jews and to both appreciate and take pleasure in that.

Especially in light of how we have been treated in other places during our long history.

That was brought very much home to me on the Sabbath before Yom Kippur. I was in shul for the afternoon prayers when the rabbi went to the bimah to recite the "Kel Moleh" prayer in honor of someone's yahrzeit. Anniversary of death.

When it came to the point of the prayer where you insert the name of the deceased, the rabbi looked to the relative of the deceased to provide the person's Hebrew name. Only he didn't give just one name but one name after another after another after another, five of which had the same father. As the list continued, some people in the shul (synagogue) actually gasped.

When it was over, there was relief. But that proved temporary when the rabbi began again and the man providing the names had yet more names to provide. It was now clear that the first list was just the male members of his family whose yahrzeit he was marking and the second list was the female members. Again it was name after name after name, many with the same father.

It was stunning. It seemed clear this was a Holocaust survivor and it was clear how many of his relatives had been killed in the systematic extermination engineered by one of the most civilized countries on the face of the earth.

The mood in the shul was very sobering as all felt in their guts the pain of Jewish history and the Jewish people.

But it was during the mini-meal eaten on Sabbath between afternoon and evening prayers that the tears began to flow.

The man who had given all the names was asked to say a few words during the meal. Speaking in heavily accented broken English, he explained that he was from a little town in Poland decimated by the Nazis. Among those murdered were more than a dozen members of his immediate family, including five brothers, five sisters, two brothers in law and two sisters in law. Those were the names he gave during the "Kel Moleh".

The man explained that after the war, he returned to his hometown to find that not only had no members of his family survived, but none of the town's Jews had.

"How do you say kaddish for a whole town," he asked. "How do you mark the yahrzeit of a whole town?"

In terms of his family, he obviously had no idea what day any of them died. And so a rabbi he consulted told him to mark all of their yahrzeits on the same day as Yom Kippur. Which is what he has done since the war and what he was doing that Sabbath.

As for the rest of the town, he said that every time he has an Aliyah (calling up) to the Torah, he makes a Misheberech prayer for "all those from my town who don't have anyone to say kaddish for them."

There wasn't a dry eye in the house as he told us that. Gave us a small but heartbreakingly telling glimpse into what Jewish life has been for other Jews in other places at other times.

It's stories like that that make me love, and appreciate, this country all the more.

Another story that gave me another reason to feel that way.

It's the Friday before Yom Kippur and I'm running around doing errands, including making a stop at the dry cleaners, who tells me that what I was there to pick up wasn't ready.

In a rush and not thinking, I said, "that's okay, I'll come by Monday to pick it up."

I should stop for a minute to point out that the clerk at the dry cleaners that I was talking to was a Chinese woman whose English was not very good and who presumably isn't versed in Jewish tradition.

Still it didn't take her more than a split second to smile at me and gently remind me that "you can't do that. Monday is your important holiday."

She remembered that Monday was Yom Kippur even if I didn't, and she knew that Yom Kippur meant no trips to the dry cleaners.

What a country. Thank G-d.

Speaking of G-d, I don't know if he was trying to send me a pre-Yom Kippur message or what, but not only did the above three incidents come my way right before the Big Day, but so did two others.

While the first three reminded me of how lucky we are, and how grateful we should be to be residents of this great land, the other two reminded me of how lucky we are, and how grateful we should be to be members of this great people, the Jewish people, the people that I love.

Sure we have our differences and our disagreements, but there is something to very much cherish about our special, indefinable but amazingly strong bond. Meet any Jew anywhere in the world and you immediately feel a connection, feel the tie, feel the sense of family.

It was the Friday night before Yom Kippur, it was pretty late and I was sitting on a public bench waiting for someone I was to meet. Being late and me being tired, I guess I was a bit slumped down. Next thing I know, these two Jews who were walking down the street were standing in front of me asking if I was okay, did I need help.

It made me feel real good. Now, I don't say that there aren't plenty of caring non-Jews out there who would stop and ask someone who seemed to need help if they could provide that help. I know there are. The thing that hit me was that if a non-Jew had approached me, I'd first be scared, then if they seemed safe, I'd be wary if they had some kind of angle or were up to something and even if that didn't seem to be the case, I would at the least be cautious.

When these two Jews approached me, I felt nothing but comforted.

What a people.

Last story. Saturday night before Yom Kippur and it's quite late at night since I've been working on this issue, an issue that we didn't have Sunday night or Monday to work on because of the holiday. I run into a gas station for a bottle of pop and a candy bar. Or two.

The only other person in the mini- store was a guy in his early 20s who I never in a million years would have guessed was Jewish.

But as I passed him, my goodies in hand, he says to me, "stocking up for after the fast?"

I was shocked. But then I remembered that Chinese dry cleaner and so wasn't sure that meant he was a member of the tribe. But what confirmed that he was, was when he opened his heart to me, a total stranger.

He told me how bad he was feeling because he had to work on Yom Kippur. He was a waiter at a restaurant, he told me, and his boss told him he could take off either for Rosh Hashanah or for Yom Kippur but not both, and he chose Rosh Hashanah.

And so while he didn't work on that High Holiday, he was having to work Yom Kippur, which he told me upset him.

As we parted, he made sure to emphatically tell me before I walked out the door, "but I'm still going to fast. It'll be hard being around food the whole time, but I am going to fast."

What a people.

Not only did I feel a deep connection to this young Jew I happened to run into in the middle of the night in a gas station mini-mart, but I felt a tremendous sense of pride in him and much gratitude to G-d for being a fellow member of the Jewish people.

A people who have members like that old man saying kaddish for his whole family and his whole town, and members like that young kid making sure to fast even as he waits tables on Yom Kippur.

Members both of whom I feel privileged to have met and who reminded me once again of how special a people we are and how important it is for us to always treasure each and every one of us.

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Joseph Aaron is Editor of The Chicago Jewish News. Comment by clicking here.


© 2006, Joseph Aaron