Rav Weinberger on the churban

Rav Moshe Weinberger writes:

Only after the destruction of the Temple could the order of our daily prayers be established. In the horrifying desolation and loneliness the Jewish heart began to scream and tefillos were formed. The churban meant the removal of the religious ritual with which we had become comfortable, and we found ourselves alone with G-d. – Prayer: Neglected Paths and Forgotten Longings – Jewish Action, Fall 1990

Rav Moshe Weinberger is the Rav of Cong Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY and the Mashpiah at Yeshiva University

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I need YOU to join me in helping Chai Lifeline

Bike pic1Hi, I know that I haven’t written anything fresh in a while. Thanks because I’ve been trying to spend more time with my family after work. When they are asleep I’ve been biking, since I will be biking on Lake Shore Drive this Sunday, May 25th more than 50 miles. This is my 7th year joining Chai Lifeline’s Bike The Drive. I’m please to say that, so far, I have raised more than $1200, but I want to do more. This is where YOU come in. If you have ever liked something that I have posted, hated something that I wrote, or just come to my blog for 3 seconds and leave then I’m addressing YOU.

If possible, please sponsor me by going here. All donations are tax deductible and the website will accept sponsors until Monday, May 26th. Plus there’s a link on the top of that page to my embarrassing YouTube video I posted. Thanks!!!!!

 

THE PURSUIT OF UNCOOL

 

JUF NEWS PICNEWS: LOCAL

May 9, 2014

The pursuit of uncool

By NEIL HARRIS

If you ask my wife and three kids (a boy, 14 and two girls, 11 and 7) if I am a good father, I’m not sure what they would answer. If you ask them if they think I’m a cool abba, they’ll tell you that I used to be cool. Being cool is a choice. I spent, what seems like months, saying to my own children. “Kids, I really am cool.”

I tried explaining to them about the glory of the 80s and how music was much better back then, especially the stuff that fell into the categories of college radio and punk. I tried showing them how a bunch of my friends all dressed differently than everyone else (we all mostly wore black…very original). I told my daughters that I had crazy hairspray and hair dryer skills that they couldn’t even dream about. It was never a conscious choice, but during high school and the beginning of college I was seen as being “cool.”

I know plenty of parents that go out of their way to appear cool to their kids. They might try to friend their kids and their kids’ friends on Facebook, be up on the latest music, novels, and texting abbreviations. If that works for you and the relationship you want to have with our kids, more power to you. I eventually gave up and just accepted the fact that I was no longer cool. I stopped trying to be cool in their eyes.

It was much easier than I thought it would be. However, I found that the choice of not being cool opened up a whole new avenue of going out of my way to be uncool. I had thoughts of calling my kids’ friends by nicknames that only I would understand. I had visions of interrupting play dates my kids had by doing the robot dance. To my family’s delight, I rarely acted upon these examples.

What I did implement was a conscious choice to show my kids that I wasn’t cool. Again, I am far from a model parent, but this mindset has fostered a more positive relationship with my kids. This was much easier than I thought in some aspects. My wife and I have always stressed to our children that there are things our family does and it might be a little different than other what other families do. There are TV shows, music, and movies that we feel are appropriate and others that are not. These decisions to be uncool, at times, are not easy, but my kids have learned that my wife and I are willing to listen to their points of view and if we are swayed to their side it is solely because they have valid reasons and not because we are looking to be “those parents,” the ones that propel the parent/child relationship with the fuel of coolness.

Rabbi Joseph Hurwitz (1847-1919), known as the Elder of Novardok (a city in Belarus) taught that, “When the world means nothing, life means everything.” I have always looked at this quote as a message that we have to stand our ground sometimes. We shouldn’t always do things that the masses are doing, especially if it goes against our value system. When we stop worrying about what others think is when we can have opportunities to do what we know is the right thing in life. This is something that we can’t lecture our kids about; it is something that we have to show by example. I am no poster child for leading by example all the time. I am, however, blessed with three great kids who are learning the importance of doing the right thing, which is a foundation of Judaism.

Neil Harris and his family live in West Rogers Park and, aside from being uncool, he works in commercial finance and writes monthly for Oy! Chicago.

Originally posted in JUF NEWS-May 9th, 2014

Best minyan EVER!!

Aerial - US Cell-Chicago-No Border

Once in a while, I merit to have a good idea come down to me from Hashem. I admit, it is pretty rare, but when it does happen I am pretty darn grateful.

Prior to Pesach I had made plans with 4 other families to go to a White Sox game with my kids on Thursday of Chol HaMoed. I knew that within our group we would have 7 adult males (4 fathers and 3 post Bar Mitzvah boys). I decided to put the word out on Facebook, Twitter, and emailed a bunch of fellow residents of the Chicago area to see if we could get a Maariv minyan at the beginning of the 7th inning. Quickly I got a response from a friend that he would be there and also 2 other guys. Then another guy (didn’t know him prior to the game, but I’m glad I’m friends with him now) and his son said they would join in, too. As we got to the stadium and parked, my son noticed a car of 3 other guys parking right next to us and I quickly told them about the minyan, as well.

When it came time to daven we had just over 17 people, including someone saying Kaddish and someone who had a Yahrzeit. The Sox lost, but I don’t think it was related to our minyan.

Here’s the important part, really. I’m not posting this because I’m looking to blow my own shofar, I’m posting this because each of us has a way we that we can help others and add to the “quality” of our community (or a community of baseball fans). I often go through periods when I know I should be doing more with myself on a communal level. I know there’s, like, volumes more what I’m meant to be doing for Klal Yisrael beyond my role within my family and immediate friends, but I just don’t (for a number of reasons). I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. I’m, again, grateful that I was open to receiving an opportunity this time and acting upon it…this time.

JUF’s Annual Jewish Day School Night

This Tuesday, April 1, 2014 the day school community of Chicago has an opportunity to hear from on the experts on Bullying, Dr. Rona Novick.* Not only is she a nationwide expert on this subject, but she an amazing and engaging speaker.

Day School Parents, Educators & Board Members
are cordially invited to attend a Dessert Reception
on behalf of the Jewish United Fund

Bully, Bullied or Bystander: The Roles Children Play
Featuring nationally acclaimed guest speaker
Dr. Rona Novick

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Desert reception – 7:15 PM – 8:30 PM
Holiday Inn North Shore
5300 West Touhy Avenue, Skokie

Reservations required, Dietary laws observed, Valet parking available

A meaningful gift to the 2014 Jewish United Fund Annual Campaign is strongly encouraged.

For more information, please contact Mindy Bass at 312-444-2839 or mindybass@juf.org.

Reservations are required

* Rona Novick, PhD is the director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Doctoral Program at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University and Associate Clinical Professor of Child Psychology at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Dr. Novick also serves as Co-Educational Director of the Hidden Sparks program, providing consultation to day schools and Yeshivas. Dr. Novick received her PHD from Rutgers University and completed her doctoral internship at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. She developed the Alliance for School Mental Health at North-Shore Long Island Jewish Medical Center and served as its director for eight years, authoring the BRAVE bully prevention program for schools. She is recognized for her expertise in behavior management and child behavior therapy and has published scholarly articles on school applications of behavior management, children and trauma and bully prevention in schools. She has delivered numerous presentations at national and international conferences, focusing on her research interests in parenting and parent-school partnerships, child anxiety disorders, social-emotional learning and the behavior and development of young children. She is the author of a book for parents: Helping Your Child Make Friends, and editor of the book series Kids Don’t Come With Instruction Manuals

My 7th year of helping terminally ill children and their families

biking
Chai Cyclist
Hey,
It’s Neil and I need your help.
 
Sometimes, we are privileged to see when we can make a difference in the world and in the lives of those you need help. As I write this, I humbly and gratefully thank those of you that have committed to sponsor me for the past 6 years as I have raised money for Chai Lifeline by Biking the Drive (Lake Shore Drive). In edition to be the top fundraiser for Chai Lifeline’s Bike the Drive for multiple years, by sponsoring me we have raised over $12,000.00. I am extremely proud to say that I will be hitting the pavement again on May 25, 2014.
 
Chai Lifeline is a unique and amazing organization. They help children and their families cope with the diagnosis, treatment and aftermath of serious pediatric illness. They provide year-round emotional, social, and financial support to families every day. Families in the Midwest turn to Chai Lifeline for access to more than two-dozen, year-round, programs and services, all free of charge and delivered with love and respect.
 
Since my father, of blessed memory, lost his quick battle with Leukemia in 2009 I have always dedicated my bike ride and funds raised in his memory. It is always bittersweet when the ride is over, since I have such great memories of calling him after my my first event telling him that I had biked a total of 30 miles (I had planned on biking only 15) and how proud he was that I was able to help such a worthy cause.
 
Not only do I bike in memory of my dad, but I bike in memory of my in-laws, Dan and Rita Huth, of blessed memory. I bike in merit for a speedy recovery for children who are sick in our community. I bike in honor of friends who are going through difficult times. I bike because Joanie, Eli Meir, Rena Sara, and Mimi believe in me. I bike because I want my family to know that when something is important to you and you can help others, then you give 101% and don’t give up.
 
I have increased the miles I have biked every year, even in the rain. What started out as 30 miles has now become 55 miles. I have also set the sponsorship bar higher every year. This year my objective is to raise at least $3,000.00 by May 25th. I know that sounds like a lot, but really it can happen, with your help. I hope you will help me reach this goal. All donations are 100% tax deductible. If your company has a matching gift program, your gift may be doubled or tripled.
So, if you have ever enjoyed a post of mine in the past 8 years, then please think about sponsoring me (for any amount). Also, for what it’s worth, when training and on the day of the ride I listen to about 3 hours of shiurim. I am happy to so in zechus of a refuah shelayma of in memory of someone. Just give me the name.

I am grateful to all of my previous sponsors and I know that you will, once again, help me reach my goal. All you need to do is to make any donation that you can! If interested, please feel free to forward email to anyone you feel might be open to this opportunity to help. Feel free to spread the word via social media, as well (don’t worry, I will also be using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to get the word out). To sponsor me all you need to do is to go to:
 
 
Warmly,
Neil

Kollel’s debt to Rabbi Yisrael Salanter zt’l

from drisha.org

from drisha.org

There are some things that most of us take for granted. Things that we are so accustomed to that we can’t think of life without them. Electricity, cell phones, shoes, shampoo, indoor plumbing, silverware…these are just random examples. In 1877 Rabbi Yisrael (Lipkin) Salanter zt’l (his yahrtzeit is today, the 25th of Shevat) started the Kovno Kollel. Not only did he start it, but, to quote from Tenuas HaMussar, The Mussar Movement, by R Dov Katz zt’l:

He [Rabbi Yisrael Salanter] established a special fund, supported by the affluent Kovno residents, from which a regular, monthly stipend was allocated to each couple or family to enable them to live comfortably and respectably. This, too, was a complete novelty; it became the norm for the Kollelim, either of Avrechim (i.e. those living with their families) and Perushim (who lived apart from their families while they studied), which later came into existence, and enabled Yeshiva students to pursue advanced studies after marriage.

Many of those who have taught me and taught my own children have spent time learning in kollel and we both owe gratitude to Rabbi Salanter’s vision and hard work.