First Person

In this issue

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

There Is More Than One Way To Save a Life

By As told to Rabbi Nachman Seltzer

A rabbi and wife team recount their mission as soldiers in America's military — and His | I met Rabbi Yonaton and Mrs. Tziporah Pronman during Shabbos Chol Hamoed Pesach at the Kinar Hotel near Teveriah (Tiberias). The Shira Chadasha Boys' Choir, which I conduct and manage, had been invited to perform there on following the Sabbath, so the entire choir and I had come to spend Shabbos at the hotel.

At some point during the morning meal I met Rabbi Pronman, who told me that he and his wife had a number of stories they wanted to share with me. These are some of their stories, as told by Mrs. Pronman and family.

My husband saw an ad placed by the U.S. military in the Jewish Press looking for Jewish chaplains. My husband, who is both a rabbi and a mashgiach, saw this as an opportunity to do outreach and was excited about what we could accomplish together. So he called the number in the advertisement and reached a Rabbi Lapp, who invited us down to his office for an interview.

Rabbi Lapp introduced himself as the officer in charge of coordinating Jewish chaplaincy placements in all branches of the military — the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. He explained the many requirements and obligations of an army chaplain.

"Rabbi Pronman," he said, "you have to understand something. Every chaplain in the U.S. military is given a unique opportunity to save lives. While many officers in the military will end up saving their troops' lives on the battlefield, a chaplain has the ability to save the lives he encounters in ways that are both physical and spiritual."

We were granted the opportunity to do both.

After he finished laying it all out for my husband, Rabbi Lapp turned to me and described the life of an army chaplain's wife.

"You'll be busy," he began, with a twinkle in his eye. "There will be a congregation to sustain and kosher food to arrange and people who are interested in meeting you and who have many questions. Not only that, you will find that many of your congregants are military retirees who chose to live near the base."

"Why do they stay so close to the military?" I asked him. "Don't they want to get back into the real world?"

"It's not so simple," he explained. "When you've been a soldier, and particularly an officer in the military, for over fifteen years, you get used to being saluted every time you walk into a room. Then, upon discharge, you're no longer in uniform, and suddenly no one pays attention to you. Forget about saluting or preferential treatment. They don't know you exist! Here you were accustomed to being treated honorably for years, and suddenly nobody cares. It's a difficult transition.

"Not only that, but an officer who spent the majority of his career in the military no doubt has lots of stories about the missions he went on and the challenges he faced. When you live on the base, there are always people ready to listen to those stories because they have been living through the same types of experiences.

"Civilians, on the other hand, are clueless when it comes to the military. They can't even relate. So ex-military people, in many cases, move close to army bases to maintain a connection. It helps them acclimate in the real world. Many of these individuals and their wives will be interested in joining your congregation, and you will be expected to develop a kesher [rapport] with them.

"You will be your husband's right hand. You will be constantly busy as the 'Rebbetzin' of the base. Don't forget," he continued, "that even though the army is hiring your husband, they consider the chaplain's wives equal partners and expect them to be fully supportive and involved in every aspect of the work."

The prospect of hard work didn't scare us in the least, so when Rabbi Lapp finally called with our assignment, we were more than ready.

"The base is called Fort Hood. It's located in Texas, and it's the largest American military base in the world. It will be your job not only to provide guidance to the members of your assigned battalion but to bring ruchniyus [spirituality] and a genuine Torah experience to the Jewish soldiers and their families."

After that conversation, things moved with dizzying speed. Goodbye, New York — hello, Texas!

Since we were taking over for the previous chaplain of Fort Hood, there was already a place of worship there, and people had a very basic idea what it meant to be religious. It was our job to take them to a whole new level.

We began with the Kol Kehilat Hood shul, where we organized minyanim [full-service prayer services] for the soldiers and military retirees in the area. From there we branched out to our next project — the development of Fort Hood's kosher kitchen, which was right next to the chapel, making it easy to prepare a Kiddush or communal meals for the congregation. It was a vital part of our Fort Hood development plan.

The army was very understanding of our requests and treated them with the utmost respect. We were given an allotment of money for new cutlery, dishes, pots and pans, and other culinary necessities. The wife of the lieutenant colonel of the garrison headquarters even accompanied me to the PX store and helped me transport all my purchases back to the base.

The cooperation was outstanding, and it wasn't long before we were up and running and people began flocking to the Kol Kehilat Fort Hood Jewish Center. Some of the Jewish soldiers were unfamiliar with even the most basic concepts of Judaism, so my husband began delivering a series of lectures, as well as Hebrew classes for children.

As Rabbi Lapp had promised in our initial interview, the retirees who lived near the base were eager to get involved. They were very interested in learning more about Torah, mitzvos [Judaism's religious duties], and everything related to creating a kosher kitchen — which prompted my husband to come up with one of his best ideas. The army had been very helpful, but there was a limit to how much money they were willing to spend.

"Tziporah," he said to me, "I think it would be a wonderful idea if the 'N'shei Fort Hood' put together a kosher cookbook as a project to raise money for the development of our kitchen and other activities. We need money to turn our kehillah into a community, and this cookbook may be a way to raise both funds and awareness about what we're trying to do."

I gave it a little thought and conferred with my "lieutenants," the group of women I called the "Rabbi's Angels," who helped me with everything related to the Fort Hood shul. We made the decision to go ahead with the project. After lengthy discussion, we chose the title Kosher Cooking at the Hood. The project took off with a collection of traditional and non-traditional Jewish recipes submitted by people throughout Fort Hood. The committee had their hands full trying to decide which were worthy of publication.

In the end, we selected a sheaf of mouthwatering gastronomic masterpieces we were certain would delight anyone who tried them.

Another of the Rabbi's Angels, Stephanie, volunteered as typist, and Drora, an Israeli, created the cover and inside layout. The project went from a worthy idea to a reality.

The army was very supportive and went so far as to lay out the money for our original printing, an investment that proved worthwhile because we were able not only to pay them back but to raise a considerable amount of money with which to pursue our goals for "the Hood."

One afternoon, a military retiree who lived near the base and was part of our community left home to catch a flight. He worked as a contractor for the armed forces and had some business matters to take care of. On the way to the airport, he felt a sudden tightness and pain in his chest, and he made his way to the nearest hospital, where it was determined that he had just suffered a heart attack.

His wife was called and informed that he was being taken in for emergency surgery, and she called us before rushing off to the hospital. Her name was Barbara, and she was one of the rabbi's faithful "angels."

So it was that all of us in frum sisterhood of Fort Hood found ourselves standing in the hospital hallway, davening [praying] intensely as the hours passed. The atmosphere in that hallway was extremely somber. How well we knew what was on the line!

The doctors told Barbara that her husband's prognosis was poor. It was nighttime when the surgeon finally stepped out of the operating theater. Removing his surgical mask, he motioned Barbara to the side of the hallway for an update.

"I'm afraid that your husband is not going to make it," he said quietly. "We've been working on him for hours, and the situation does not look good. Prepare yourself for the worst."

Obviously, the doctor's prophecy did not do much to lift our mood, and Barbara became hysterical as she contemplated life without her husband.

"I can't go on without him," she cried.

We rallied behind her with full-hearted support and a scathing dismissal of the doctor's cavalier attempt to wrest control of the world from the Divine.

"Who do these doctors think they are?" one woman exclaimed. "It's not over by a long shot. They're still trying to save his life, and it's critical that you daven now! Don't waste time crying. Open your Tehillim [Psalms] and daven to Him! He's the One Who makes the decisions!"

The sisterhood took on the challenge with fresh resolve. We began reciting Tehillim with a new determination. One hour turned into two, and two into three. We had been saying Tehillim for most of the previous twenty-four-hour period.

Suddenly, the doctor emerged with another update.

"He's pulled back from the brink of death," he told us. "But he won't be responsive." It was clear the doctor was afraid of lifting our hopes too high.

Barbara was once again stricken with despair, but the rest of us became even more determined.

"Don't listen to the doctors," we shouted at her. "What do they know? Look, just a short time ago they had completely written him off, and still he pulled through. Now they say he'll be unresponsive. Who are they to make that decision? Is it up to them? Only Hashem decides who will live and who will die! All you need now is more davening."

And so the prayers resumed full-blast, filling the sterile hospital hallway with a feeling of hope. The doctor visited us a little while later with the incredible news that Barbara's husband was waking up and it seemed that he might be somewhat responsive, though he'd certainly never be the way he'd been before.

"His brain was heavily damaged by the bleeding," we were told. "He's passed the point of no return, but at least he will be able to communicate on some level."

The news was improving by the hour. Clearly our davening was being looked upon favorably in Heaven, but the journey wasn't over yet.

"If there's anything we've learned here tonight," I said to Barbara, "it's that doctors can say what they want, but they are not Hashem, and they do not know what's going to happen. Right now, I have the feeling that Hashem is waiting for more prayers. It's an es ratzon — a favorable time. Hurry and daven more. Give it everything you've got! I know that we've been davening through the night, but just like day arrives after night, so too will salvation come at the end of a dangerous time. We have no one to rely on other than the Master of the Universe. And He wants your prayers!"

A few more hours passed.

Finally, the doctor reappeared. He looked exhausted, but this time there was something different about him. He was actually smiling.

"My friends…"

We stared at him in suspense.

"The patient has been moved out of surgery. The operation was successful in every way, and it now looks like he will make a nearly complete recovery. There was a small amount of damage to his brain as a result of bleeding, but overall we've seen some serious miracles here tonight."

Barbara's husband did indeed recover, and although his ordeal affected him in some ways, his memory is fine and he still recognizes my voice when I call, even though it's been over ten years since our time at Fort Hood.


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Something amazing happened in that hospital hallway, something that proved the power of prayer to every one of us. It was a night we will always remember.

We had been at Fort Hood for more than two and a half years when Rabbi Lapp contacted us.

"As you know," he began, "U.S. military chaplains are stationed at army bases for up to three years at a time, after which they are moved elsewhere. Your time at Fort Hood is swiftly coming to an end, and I would like to inform you of your options for the coming three years."

"Rabbi Lapp," my husband said, "we've been doing so well here at Fort Hood. There's a genuine Yiddishe presence on the base. Our shul [synagogue] is making progress, the shiurim [lectures] are well attended, the kosher kitchen is functioning and well-stocked. Is there no way for you to pull a few strings and allow us to stay where we are?"

"I'm sorry," he replied. "Rules are rules, and there are no exceptions. You are going to have to leave Fort Hood, and this time you will be posted overseas. You have two choices for your next destination. Choice number one is Korea."

"That doesn't sound like so much fun, Rabbi Lapp."

"Well, then, I hope you like choice number two better."

"Which is?"




It happens to be that many chaplains desire nothing more than a European posting. Being sent to Germany would grant us easy access to the Swiss Alps, canal-filled Venice, and the ancient sculptured beauty of Prague — if that's what we wanted. But all we really wanted was to continue being mekarev Yidden [ bring Jews closer to their faith] at Fort Hood. The army, however, makes these decisions, and it wasn't long before we were boarding a military aircraft for the ten-hour flight across the Atlantic.

As we flew, I thought of all the wonderful people we were leaving behind. The years at the base had been eye-opening for both me and my husband, and although we were excited about the future, leaving Fort Hood had been quite difficult.

The fact that we were going to Germany, of all places, didn't make it easier, but we were used to curves in the road and did our best to deal with our new situation gracefully.

My husband's new role as the Orthodox Jewish chaplain in Germany meant that he was assigned to cover Stuttgart, Wurzberg, and many other cities in the vicinity. If that was not sufficient work for one individual, he'd also been designated the official chaplain of the entire European theater of war, which meant that he could be sent to cities and countries throughout Europe. It was a big job with a tremendous amount of responsibility.

We were shown to our new quarters shortly after our arrival, an apartment in a tenement-like building on base, with clotheslines full of drying laundry in the yard. It was depressing and drab, exactly what I pictured East Germany to have looked like under Communist rule.

I was not a prima donna, but this was not what I had envisioned. My husband, being the nice guy that he is, took my side and paid a visit to the officer in charge of assigning residences.

"Chaplain Pronman," he said after my husband explained the problem, "there is nothing I can do for you."

My husband returned home and reported what had happened, but I begged him to go back and do his best to change the man's mind. Knowing that it was a lost cause, he returned to the office of residences for another try.

"Chaplain Pronman," the officer bellowed, "didn't I already tell you that there's nothing I can do for you?"

The man remained unwilling to budge, and eventually my husband left the office no better off than when he'd entered. For attempt number three, I decided to accompany him.

"Chaplain Pronman," the officer yelled, "didn't I tell you that you're wasting your time here?"

"I would like to introduce you to my wife, sir, so she can tell you herself exactly why our housing is unsuitable."

"I understand that you don't have an alternative," I said to the man. "If you tell me now once and for all that there's nothing to talk about, I'll be packing my bags and heading back to the airport for the return flight to the States because I won't be able to accomplish what the army wants me to in this apartment."

"Mrs. Pronman," he said, adopting a conciliatory tone, "now that we've spoken, I finally understand the problem. Of course we will take care of it right away. The last thing we want is for you to leave."

The next thing we knew, we were being driven around to see a number of properties owned by German civilians and rented on a permanent basis for army personnel. I saw a few places and they were all okay, but nothing grabbed me until we arrived at "the house on the hill." It was a lovely home with a patio that encircled three sides of the spacious house. It overlooked a village that I later discovered had once been a lively Jewish community.

There was only one problem. It was a good ten-mile walk from the house to the base, which meant a strenuous hike through several German villages for my husband every Shabbos.

"It's fine with me," he said. "I want you to be happy, and a long walk to the chapel is a small price to pay."

"But you'll be walking through rural Germany in your tallis [prayer shawl]," I said. "I'm more than ready for the walk."

In the end I allowed myself to be convinced.

And so began our stay in Germany. Once again there was much work to be done, many non-religious Jewish soldiers to assist and teach. My husband walked to the chapel every Shabbos and got to know the soldiers on the base. At times he was sent on missions around the country. And yes, we did get to tour Europe as well.

One day, my husband got a call from the local hospital.

"Chaplain Pronman?"


"We have a serviceman's wife here who just gave birth to a boy and requested that we contact the local chaplain."

"I'll be there as soon as possible."

I attended the meeting with my husband. This was exactly the kind of role that the army had in mind for a chaplain's wife.

The new mother was a young Jewish woman named Jennifer who hailed from Brooklyn. She knew absolutely nothing about Judaism. This was her second son. After we'd gotten acquainted, my husband asked her what she needed.

"Well, it's like this," she explained. "The doctor told us that we were going to have a girl, so all the names I picked out were for girls. Then, to our surprise, we had a boy, and I have no idea what to name him. And another thing — isn't there a ceremony that needs to be done?"

"Yes, there is," my husband replied, "and I'll be happy to take care of it for you." Jennifer's non-Jewish husband was sitting off to the side, none too excited about our conversation, but there was nothing to be done about that. This was a Jewish baby, and he needed a bris immediately.

My husband left the room to begin calling around Europe for a mohel. He eventually tracked down one who was returning from Israel to Switzerland and said he would be delighted to hop on over to Germany to perform the bris.

I began discussing possible names with the mother.

"What did you name your first son?" I asked her curiously.

"Gabriel," she replied.

Amazing! Out of all the names in the world, she'd picked one that had a distinct connection to the Torah.

"I have a great idea," I told her. "This week's parsha talks about Yaakov Avinu—"

"This week's what? Talks about who?"

"Sorry." This young Jewish woman really didn't know anything about Torah, but her soul longed to learn. I explained how the Torah is divided up into weekly portions and about our three Forefathers, the third of whom was named Yaakov, or Jacob. "I like that name. We'll call him Yaakov." And just like that, it was decided.

It wasn't long before we found ourselves in deep conversation. Knowing that I was a rabbi's wife made her feel comfortable, and she began to unburden herself.

Apparently, her marriage was a disaster; her husband was emotionally unstable and treated her badly. She couldn't see herself staying with him long term, but until she met us she hadn't known how to extricate herself from the relationship. Of course, my husband and I promised to help her, and we started by inviting her to come and convalesce at our home up on the hill.

Even after Jennifer left, she and her two Jewish children, Gabriel and Yaakov, visited our home often, against the strenuous objections of her husband.

Gradually she began to take upon herself more and more Torah obligations, until she was completely frum.

Finally, after Jennifer met with her husband's superior officer and described their home situation to him, he supported her decision to request a divorce.

When Jennifer called her parents, who lived in Florida, to tell them that she wanted to come live with them until she got her bearings, they were very excited that she seemed to have turned her life around. They were not so excited, however, that she had also discovered Torah and planned to remain frum. They did their best to dissuade her, claiming that she was just going through another phase.

"This is no phase," she assured them. "This is my life." And so it was.

We said goodbye to a young woman who just a short time earlier had known nothing about Judaism but who was now leaving us with a firm commitment to spend the rest of her life devoted to Torah and mitzvos. It was nothing less than amazing.

Not long after moving to Broward, Florida, Jennifer was introduced to a religious man who had been married before and had children of his own. They married, and the newly merged family has grown over the years. Not long ago, Jennifer (who doesn't go by that name anymore) sent me a picture of her entire family at a simchah (joyous milestone event).

In the photo there is no trace of the woman I had met in Germany, whose knowledge of Judaism was nonexistent. In her place is a frum, self-assured woman with a beautiful family of bnei Torah whose smile brings tears to my eyes every time I look at the photo.

When I think back to those days and all that she accomplished, I realize that even if my husband had joined the army and we had been sent to Germany just to meet Jennifer and influence the course of her life, dayeinu — it would have been enough.

Suddenly our second three-year stint was up, and it was time to evaluate the future. We had another meeting with Rabbi Lapp, who informed us of our options. Since the United States was then at war with Iraq, staying in the military could have resulted in Yonaton being sent into the middle of a war zone. Such a move would have meant that I would be sent back to the States, because chaplain's wives were not sent into combat zones; it was too dangerous.

Thank Heaven, we had another option, and that was to leave the service entirely. Yonaton was moved into the reserves, with the army retaining the right to call him up in the future if necessary. For now, we were free to go.

Though many people who have served in the military find their return difficult and even traumatic at times, we are very happy to be back among religious people in New York. Here there is always a minyan, and kosher supermarkets are a dime a dozen. We had a memorable time in the military and will always have the utmost respect for the men and women who serve our country selflessly, with total dedication.

We made many friends along the way and met some incredible people. We even got to see the world and tried to do chessed (kindness) wherever we were. We are gratified to know that we were instrumental in igniting the spark of Judaism in many during our time of service. It was an experience we will cherish forever.

I Names have not been changed.

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Rabbi Nachman Seltzer is the author of sixteen books and a frequent contributor to HaModia: The Daily Newspaper of Torah Jewry, where this first appeared.


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