Monthly Archives: November 2012

JLI presents Rabbi Lau this Sunday

Click image for ticket information




Sunday, December 2, 2012 | 7:00 PM


Niles North High School auditorium
9800 North Lawler Street, Skokie

Rabbi Lau will share his personal experience as a child in the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp and how he rebuilt his life to become chief rabbi of Israel.
TICKETS $25 at the door (IF AVAILABLE) / ADVANCE online $18

For more info, group and student tickets, call: 312-445-0770

(includes private reception & tour of Illinois Holocaust Museum with Rabbi Lau)

A project of Jewish Learning Institute of Metropolitan Chicago

Co-sponsored by: Illinois Holocaust Museum and Walder Education Pavillion

Rabbi Israel Meir Lau is a widely respected international dignitary, gifted orator, celebrated author, Holocaust survivor and inspiration. He was the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel from 1993 to 2003, and is currently the chairman of Yad Vashem and chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.

First impressions of Artscroll’s "STEP BY STEP"

I just received a copy of the new Artscroll book STEP BY STEP compiled by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, Rav of Shaarey Tefilah in Lawrence, NY.

The sefer is a very user-friendly program for middos development that is devided into 52 weeks. Each middah has a chapter written by “noted educators, rabbanim, and rebbetzins, who each examine one specific trait. Every week brings us a new middah, and each middah is divided into a daily reading.” (From Artscroll’s website)

Even though the sefer is almost 600 pages, the way it’s divided up makes it easy to use. Unlike a number of daily and weekly study seforim, this one isn’t dated per week, therefore, you can start learning it whenever you’d like to. While it’s really to big to schlep in your tallis and tefillin bag on a daily basis, the daily readings are short enough that anyone can find time to read them once a day and not spend more than 5 minutes doing so. I happen to like the fact that it deals with many overlooked middos and that each middah is written by a different author, so you get a variey of writing styles and quoted sources.
For me, the fact that chapter 27 (Chassidus/Piety) was written by Rav Moshe Weinberger, it’s a massive bonus. Rav Moshe Weinberger, for example, cites Messilas Yesharim, Michtav M’Eliyahu, Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, and weaves in several beautiful stories from both the Chassidshe and Litvishe worlds.

This compiliaton by Rabbi Dovid Weinberger is a welcome edition to my own daily learning and Tikun HaMiddos.
Thanks to the friend that sent this my way.

Adapting to your target audience

Those who know me are aware that I really like the game Jenga.  This past Shabbos my wife told me that Hasbro is now selling Jenga in a “travel” container, which is oval shaped.  I am guess it was just too frustrating for those ages 6 and up.  I know my kids really dislike having to put Jenga away and I usually end up doing it.  Also, the plastic “guide” that come with it easily brakes.  Changing packaging cost serious money and isn’t a decision that comes with ease.  Just like everyone remembers the dessert at the end of a fantastic meal, Jenga players from around the world must have complained about their final memories of a fantastic Jenga game being the difficulty in putting those 54 genuine hardwood blocks away.

I am not in chinuch, but I have friends who are and I have children who I’m paying tuition in order for them to receive their chinuch.  I have often observed that the most influential teachers are the ones that are open to the ideas that the way children learn has changed over the years and not everyone fits into a particular mode. I’ve seen “fresh out of the starting gate” teachers use innovative ways to get kids to learn and I’ve seen “legends” in chinuch who have been teaching for 50 years take their time-honored techniques and adapt them for a generation who has trouble focusing, sitting, and communicating.

The main point of playing Jenga is actually playing, not putting it away.  Sometimes you can keep the ikar the same, but repackage it in a way that’s leaves a better memory.

Chizuk and support for those affected by Sandy tonight in Chicago

Tonight, at Cong K.I.N.S. starting at 8pm hear from Rav Avraham Chaim Levin, Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe Chicago), Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Av Beis Din of the cRc and the Rosh Beis Din of the RCA, Rabbi Hershel Billet, Rav of the Young Israel of Woodmere, and Rabbi Yechiel Kalish, Trustee of Achiezer and Agudath Israel’s National Director of Government Affairs.
A live webcast can be seen here.

Like a smokeless fire…

On my drive home one day last week, I was listening a podcast about Tefillah and heard the following quote:

There should always be a fire, but you shouldn’t be able to see the smoke. – Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
I almost had to stop the car.  What a powerful saying.  It is referring to our avodah (in this case davening) and how we have sustain a certain level of passion and enthusiasm, yet, in true Kotzker style, we shouldn’t draw attention to ourselves.

Schukeling during daving is fine, as I tell my son, but it’s not the main avodah of davening.  Wanting to be a role model for our families (and ourselves) and not drawing too much attention to oneself is a fine line line.  Most people who are really humble don’t draw attention to themselves, yet they make an impact.  That’s is what the Kotzker is saying.  Just because there’s a fire, you don’t have to see the smoke.