Incredible chilling stories of how Hatzalah (Jewish Volunteer EMS) saves lives everyday.
The light unto the nations is constantly under attack! Impressive the accomplishments of a tiny persecuted nation! Published in 2008.
The Satmar chasidim are the Boo Radleys of our town. Like that character in “To Kill A Mockingbird,” they scare the neighbors and frighten the horses. They hide but don’t seek. They’re quaint but not cute. In a narcissistic city, they refuse to flatter. Jewish families visit Williamsburg, Va., but not Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They don’t want visitors and don’t have gift shops.
Yet once when I was in the hospital, a Satmar woman came every morning with hot soup, freshly cooked chicken, homemade applesauce and marble cake. She was shy and of indeterminate age. She didn’t know who I was, just that there was a Jew on the eighth floor.
I didn’t need her food but didn’t say so because I liked seeing her in the mornings. She was from the Ladies Bikur Cholim D’Satmar, a group of women who cook and deliver food to some 70 patients daily in more than two dozen hospitals from Staten Island to Washington Heights. Almost none of the patients served are Satmar.
About 15 “ladies” leave Williamsburg every morning in a van that takes them and their bags full of meals to the hospitals. More often than not they return to Williamsburg by subway, and a long ride it is from most hospitals. The Ladies Bikur Cholim visits six days a week in rain, heat or sleet. The day after 9-11, they crossed the closed bridges by hitching rides in Jewish ambulances.
“This started with the Satmar rebbetzin [the late Feige Teitelbaum],” said one Satmar lady who wouldn’t tell me her name. “She started this after the war, from her own little kitchen. She herself took the soup on the subway. Then she took on a helper, and more helpers.
“It was after the war. Almost everybody [in Williamsburg] was a Holocaust survivor. No one had families. She was like a mother. She heard someone was sick, she made soup. Do you know Satmar?”
I didn’t want to say that I knew Satmar all too well from their battles with other Jewish groups. After all, she was coming to me in gentleness, and I wanted to be gentle in return.
I told her my grandparents had a bungalow on the banks of a Catskills lake. The lake was surrounded by tall pines that reflected in the water. On the far side of the lake was a Satmar colony. At dusk we could see the lights in the windows and hear voices muffled across the water. That summer I often though that as different as the Satmars were, we enjoyed the same godly beauty. They must have loved the lake as I did.
“We shared a lake,” I said.
“In the summer we go to the country,” she said.
That was as personal as the conversations got.. The Satmar women avoided personal questions. “We just try to make the patients feel happy,” she said.
In emergency rooms, everything earthly – your keys, shoes, wallet, the computer disk in your shirt pocket – is put into a bag called “Patient’s Belongings.” In the John Lennon exhibit in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the final item was Lennon’s “Patient’s Belongings” bag from Roosevelt Hospital, for in the end, no matter who you are, that’s what it comes down to.
To the Satmar ladies, all the feuds and misunderstandings of this world go into that bag, that bag that no patient needs. So why talk of earthly things, of old fights or affiliations?
She said, “a Yiddishe neshoma is a Yiddishe neshoma,” a Jewish soul is a Jewish soul. If a patient was happy to get Satmar’s kosher home-cooked food, then they could be Reform, gay, Republican, Democrat, Zionist, intermarried. It didn’t matter, these ladies would deliver.
After getting out of the hospital, like a Hansel or a Gretel, I followed the crumbs back to 132 Ross St. in Williamsburg, a cellar several steps down from street level where the Ladies Bikur Cholim D’Satmar have their office and kitchen.
Throughout the day, Satmar women from the neighborhood would bring in a big sheet of sponge cake, or a large tub of homemade applesauce made in their private kitchens.
In the Ross Street kitchen, Mrs. W. answered the phones and penciled in the information from individuals who alerted her to a Jewish patient somewhere in a hospital. She had no computer to help her keep track of the many patients. She kept the names of her many volunteers in raggedy cloth-covered loose-leaf.
“We’re here from 8 in the morning to 6 at night,” she said. “Not me, maybe” – she has 12 children, after all – “but someone is here. Other than Shabbos [Sabbath] and yontif [the holy festivals] there’s no such thing as a day off. On a short Friday, do you know what it means to deliver to hospitals and be back to make Shabbos? And these are women with large families.”
Mrs. W. explained, matter of factly, “this is what we do. The whole Satmar community is based on chesed [mercy]. We help people and Hashem [G-d] should help us.”
I said, “I’m sorry I never brought soup to you, if you or someone in Satmar was sick.”
“No one should be sick,” said Mrs. W. “G-d forbid. We should always be able to help each another.”
None of the Satmar women would allow me to know their names or to take their picture, yet we were strangely intimate, these women and I. After all, we Jews are more sweetly intimate than we suppose. There are people in our community whom we barely know, but we can walk into each other’s shivas [houses of mourning] without explanation. If one of us dies, we volunteer to wash each other’s bodies. If sick, we bring soup to Jews we never met before.
We may never speak again, these Satmar women and I, but it was as if we shared the same lake, a piece of G-d’s beauty, the water rippling flowing from one side to the other.
courtesy of http://www.JewishWorldReview.com
‘ISRAEL INSIDE, How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference’, tells the story of a flourishing, productive and caring society. Sidestepping the usual conversation of politics, conflict and violence, the film highlights the spirit of the people of Israel, which has brought this tiny country to the forefront of world innovation and progress.
Now what’s a blog for, if not honesty? I don’t want candy coated writing. It’s nauseous. And I don’t want superficial, I want fresh and I want real.
Not only that but people love that kind of writing. The comments are not just ten or twenty. There are hundreds of readers who want to chime and in and say “yeah, me too…..”
I have friends too, who have suffered and they feel a measure of comfort seeing their pain be validated.
But even with all that; Even with the ever pressing need to talk about issues; to not stuff them in the closet and to demand that true spiritual values be lived, I think we can do better.
Here’s how I see it. A person needs to decide for themselves how they identify.
Are you American or are you Jewish?
America values freedom. It places your rights above everything.
Judaism values responsibility. Your responsibility comes before everything.
Rav Dessler in his famous work “Strive for Truth” looks at the difference between the two. A system based on rights is a system based on taking; How much do I deserve to get.
The secret American dream is that one day I’ll be able to sue a big corporation for some injustice and I’ll get 10 million dollars. [after all, I have a right to!]
Although the idea of every human being having rights sounds beautiful, it misses the mark. It places responsibility on everyone but yourself. And the society it breeds may value equality and expression, but it also breeds a selfish, immature self-portrait.
Judaism also values equality and expression. And like Democracy, which is based on Jewish teachings, justice and fair treatment of every human being is paramount.
How we get there though is where we diverge. In a rights based system, each one is looking out for themselves. In a responsibility based system, each is looking out for others.
When a person is the victim of unkindness or injustice or some other sort of perversion in the Jewish community, its nothing less than horrible. Not only are we as a people mandated to live a life on a higher standard, but together we are a family! A family! When your family hurts you its devastating! And when you see corruption in the mission you’ve sacrificed for its a knife in the heart.
And that’s what you see in these blogs. People are bleeding. Much of what they write about is not even that awful but in the context of being let down by family, by a system you’ve trusted, it’s brutal.
The question is, are you more worried about your right to free expression or about your responsibility to stand up for values and spread light.
These blogs and maybe even the bloggers may feel like they’re righting injustice, but in fact they’re inciting hate against the very thing they hold dear. Their “free expression” has a very heavy price.
You have bloggers who write, “I keep Shabbos, I keep Kosher etc….” as if to say “I AM a Jew who cares about Torah” and then proceed to shame it by mocking and branding those who have let them down/they disagree with.
Is there room for expression in Judaism? Yes.
But things are beautiful when they’re in their place and they’re ugly when they’re not
EX. Two people working it out with Judge Judy. Not nice. They look petty and juvenile bringing their little issues to a public court in front of millions.
Working it out with a mediator, mutual friend, parent etc… Beautiful. That becomes an example of the greatness of people to find peace and compromise.
EX. The President in a bathing suit. I just don’t want to see it. My 5-year-old at the beach in her bathing suit. Beautiful.
EX A daughter who has a care taking role with her parents and can’t live her own life because she’s so wrapped up in making them happy. Not pretty. Parents who devote their lives to their kids. Beautiful.
Blasting your feelings against your family and bringing down the value of Torah on the internet is not the place. Its not beautiful.
It has its place. But where is it?
The answer is two fold, but the principle is the same. We need to aim to build, not to destroy.
If you have an issue, work it out where it counts,. vent, work out solutions, speak to people who care.Bring it to the attention of people who can do something about it. Finda support group of people who understand you. Be constructive.
On the other side is the public forum. The power of the pen is great and needs to be utilized. Each of us is a leader and we have a chance to make a difference.
So blog. Blog the night away, but be a builder. Bring solutions. The world is hungry for meaning. It really doesn’t need another voice saying, “here’s where I didn’t find meaning.”
One little flame can bring light to a whole room. Be that light. Share your thoughts. Let’s make improvements, don’t add to the darkness.
And be honest.
The worst part about these things is the dishonest journalism. And both sides are guilty of that. Both the white washing and the deprecating.
Think of your family. Think of anyone’s family. I can easily paint a dysfunctional picture for you simply by focusing my lens on what isn’t working.
With one eye closed I see divorce, co-dependance, lack of self-esteem, role reversal, debt, shame, jealousy, and favoritism. And that’s in a functional family! Imagine if your parent is a gambler or your brother’s in jail or you have depression or mental disorders.
If I want to, I can make you look so bad, no one would come near you with a ten foot pole. But that’s not the whole story.
If I look with the other eye I’ll see kindness and selflessness, I ll see caring, I ‘ll see honest struggle. I’ll see triumph, I’ll see laughter. I’ll see traditions and I’ll see friends.
I’ll see all the things that keep you going beyond the hardship and all the things that make me want to be with you.
If I look with both eyes, you know what I’ll see? I’ll see you. with all your strengths and weaknesses. And with all that makes you uniquely human and uniquely you.
And we’ll work out the rough patches and we’ll stick together, because there’s that much love between us.
If you really care about a better world, start with honesty. Don’t report with one eye closed.
Write about the problems and write about the beauty. Be respectful of your readers and don’t just give them a sensationalistic piece. Give them something to live for.
Don’t leave out the millions of dollars given to charity,
the kindness done for a person in a new community,
the endless hours that Rabbi’s give to their congregants,
the education that focuses on character development,
the values of not gossiping, not lying, not taking honor that belongs to another person,
the reaching out to teens on the street,
the referrals and accommodations for community members who are sick,
the blood drives, the bone marrow drives,
the volunteer work on behalf of families with disabilities,
the Shabbos tables that are filled with guests
the open homes for virtual strangers
the programs for battered women
the modesty of young girls
and the self control that’s taught to young men that makes them into true men.
Don’t leave out the free loan funds,
the private packages left at the doors of people who can’t afford food
the sacrifice of Jewish teachers to make learning Torah warm and fun, going above and beyond
the sacrifice of families who live in far away places simply to reach out to Jews who may be looking for a little more
The integrity of businessmen who close on Shabbos, no matter what
and the integrity of businesswomen who conduct themselves modestly even whenjoining in would gain them more acceptance
And that’s just a tiny little drop in the bucket of what goes on. Come to any Orthodox Jewish community and your eyeballs will pop out of your head at the level of kindness. I challenge you.
To writers everywhere, I tell you what I tell my children, we have to identify by who we are, not by who we’re not. That’s a cool person.
And for all of us; if we want to take a stand, lets let it be for our people, not against it. We are family. At the end of the day all we have is each other.
For more practical loving wisdom, go to www.RivkaMalka.com
This article lists some notable Baalei Teshuva, Jews who may or may not have been raised in Orthodox Jewish households but at one time did not practice Orthodox Judaism and then later took up or returned to Orthodox practices.
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Shmuel Yosef Agnon, a Nobel Prize laureate writer and was one of the central figures of modern Hebrew fiction
Shalom Arush, an Israeli Breslover rabbi spreading the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov among Sephardic Jews
Ehud Banai, an Israeli singer and songwriter
Eviatar Banai, an Israeli musician, singer and songwriter
Yehuda Barkan, an Israeli actor, film producer, film director and screenwriter
Jason Bedrick, a former member of the New Hampshire state legislature, and the first Orthodox Jew to hold elective office in New Hampshire
Herman Branover, Russian-Israel scientist who became a leading Chabad follower.
Robert A. Baruch Bush, graduate of Harvard and Stanford and a professor at Hofstra University
Nathan Birnbaum, Austrian writer and journalist of the early 1900s, often called the first Baal Teshuva of modern times.
David Cohen, rabbi, talmudist, philosopher, and kabbalist
Effi Eitam, an Israeli politician and head of the Ahi faction of the National Union, for whom he is a member of the Knesset. He is also a former leader of the National Religious Party.
Eliezer ben Hurcanus, one of the most prominent rabbis of 1st and 2nd centuries
Isaac Aboab da Fonseca, a rabbi, scholar, kabbalist and writer
Jamie Geller, American cookbook author and kosher food writer
Yitzchak Ginsburgh, rabbi
Allegra Goodman, an American author based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she graduated from Stanford and Harvard
Dovid Gottlieb, rabbi and a senior faculty member at Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem he is a former professor of analytical philosophy at Johns Hopkins University
Jacob Israël de Haan, a Dutch Jewish literary writer and journalist
Waldemar Haffkine, a bacteriologist who worked in India. He was the first microbiologist who developed and used vaccines against cholera and bubonic plague
Rafael Halperin, a prominent Israeli Orthodox Jewish businessman, author of religious books and an encyclopedia, most notable for his being a former pro wrestler that worked for Vince McMahon Sr.`s Capitol Wrestling in the 1950s
Steven Hill, an American film and television actor
Peter Himmelman, singer-songwriter from Minnesota, who formerly played in the band Sussman Lawrence
Brad Hirschfield, rabbi
Rick Hodes, doctor
David Kazhdan, former professor of Harvard and presently a professor at Hebrew University, specializing in Mathematics and his known in Mathematics for his work in representation theory
Ephraim Kholmyansky, refusenik, activist in the Jewish revival movement in Russia, teacher of Hebrew
Benny Lévy, a philosopher, political activist and author. A political figure of May 1968 in France, he has been the disciple and last personal secretary of Jean-Paul Sartre from 1974 to 1980. Along with him, he helped founding the French newspaper Libération in 1972.
Warren Lewis, a South African former professional association football player.
Ludwig Lewisohn, an American Jewish critic, novelist, translator, non-Fiction author, and biographer
David Mamet, an American author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and film director
Matisyahu, an American reggae musician, known for blending traditional Jewish themes with Reggae, rock and hip hop sounds.
Michael Medved, an American radio host, author, conservative political commentator, and film critic.
Yosef Mendelevitch, refusenik who later became a rabbi
Yaakov Menken, rabbi and author, founder and director of Project Genesis and co-founder of the Cross-Currents blog
Ronald Perelman, an American investor who made his fortune buying beleaguered corporations and re-selling them later for enormous profits. Once the richest man in America, he is the 26th richest American, and 87th richest person in the world with an estimated wealth of USD $11.5 billion.
Yossi Piamenta, guitar player, of the internationally-acclaimed Piamenta Band
Adi Ran, an Israeli singer, musician, lyricist and composer who innovated a new music genre called Hasidic Underground (also known as Alternative Hasidic)
Avri Ran, businessman
Shuli Rand, an Israeli film actor and singer. He is a Haredi Jew and is best known in the English-speaking world for his role as the protagonist in Ushpizin (2004)
Aharon Razel, an Israeli musician
Yonatan Razel, singer, writer, composer, musical arranger and conductor
Resh Lakish, was a sage in the time of the Talmud, despite being in his early youth, a bandit and gladiator. He later became one of the most prominent rabbis of the 2nd to 3rd century, the other being his brother-in-law and opponent, Yochanan bar Nafcha.
Eliyahu Rips, a Latvian born Israeli mathematician known for his research in geometric group theory, he is a member of the Department of Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Rips received the Erd?s prize from the Israel Mathematical Society in 1979 and was a sectional speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1994
Shlomo Riskin, rabbi and author
Avichai Rontzki, former Chief Military Rabbi of the Israel Defence Forces.
Jonathan Rosenblum, a journalist who writes columns for The Jerusalem Post, Baltimore Jewish Times, Maariv, Jewish Action, The Jewish Observer, Hamodia, Yated Ne’eman, and others. He is also the director, spokesperson, and founder of Jewish Media Resources, an organization which attempts to clarify journalists’ understanding of Haredi Jewish society.
Franz Rosenzweig, an influential Jewish theologian and philosopher
Dmitry Salita, a Ukrainian-born American boxer in the junior welterweight division
Mayer Schiller, rabbi
Solomon Schindler, rabbi
Doron Sheffer, an Israeli professional basketball player formerly with Maccabi Tel Aviv
Manya Shochat, was a Russian Jewish politician and the “mother” of the collective settlement in Palestine, the forerunner of the kibbutz movement
Andy Statman, american musician
Adin Steinsaltz, most commonly known for his popular commentary and translation of both Talmuds into Hebrew, French, Russian and Spanish.
Gil Student, rabbi
Akiva Tatz, a physician and world-renowned expert in Jewish Medical Ethics, also a prominent South African Orthodox rabbi, inspirational speaker and writer
Alan Veingrad, a former American football offensive lineman in the NFL.
David N. Weiss, an American writer, labor leader, and a screenwriter of films, including Shrek 2, Clockstoppers, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, and has also written for television shows such as Mission Hill.
Shlomo Wolbe, rabbi
Herman Wouk, a bestselling American author with a number of notable novels to his credit, including The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance
Moshe Yess, musician, composer and entertainer from Montreal, Canada
Amnon Yitzhak, Israeli Haredi rabbi of Yemenite descent, who is involved in kiruv
Ariel Zilber, an Israeli singer-songwriter and composer. He is considered one of the most prominent musicians and singer-songwriters in Israeli music, known for his highly literate lyrics and for his simple yet profound style
Uri Zohar, Israeli film director, actor, and comedian, and one of the most influential film-makers in Israeli cinema
ZAKA Search & Rescue is Israel’s premiere humanitarian organization, U.N.-recognized, and with 1500+ volunteers in Israel and around the world. ZAKA: It’s all about LIFE
Since its establishment in 1995, ZAKA has become world renowned for its humanitarian efforts. In 2003 a British Member of Parliament recommended that ZAKA be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. And in 2005, ZAKA was recognized by the United Nations as an international humanitarian volunteer organization
In addition to its work in Israel, ZAKA provides help internationally. ZAKA maintains contact with police services and authorities throughout the world to ensure rapid and efficient assistance
ZAKA assisted in the rescue efforts after the Twin Tower attack in New York; it aided in the Columbia space shuttle tragedy in Texas; it was involved in rescue and identification efforts in the synagogue bombings in Istanbul and also assisted after the Mombasa terrorist attack
Subsequently ZAKA was part of the rescue team at the terrorist bombing in Sinai, Egypt, in the rescue efforts of the Tsunami victims in South East Asia, at the scene of the plane crashes in Phuket, Thailand and Namibia and at the Chabad House terror attack in Mumbai
And in 2010 it was the first international aid organization on the ground in Haiti only hours after its devastating earthquake
CNN Elizabeth Cohen interviews makeshift medical tent personnel on January 18, 2010.
Asking Harvard Medical Dr. Jennifer Furin, “Have the American’s set up a field hosptial?”
“Currently, not yet.”
Cohen: “The Israeli’s came from the other side of the world…”
Furin: “It’s a frustrating thing that I really can’t explain…”
As news of the earthquake in Haiti started to emerge, the Israeli government immediately began to make plans to send a delegation to aid in the relief efforts.
“Our decision to immediately dispatch a large delegation of doctors, nurses, medics, rescue forces as well as drugs and medical equipment to Haiti expresses the deep values which have characterized the Jewish people and the State of Israel throughout history,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
On Friday, two Israeli jets carrying nearly 10 tons of medical equipment, doctors, nurses, medics, police forces and an elite search and rescue team landed in Haiti. The 220-person delegation is led by Brig. Gen. Shalom Ben-Aryeh (Res.), the commander of the Home Front Command’s National Search and Rescue Unit.
The IDF’s chief medical officer, Brig. Gen. Nachman Esh, said that while the field hospital will largely treat trauma patients, similar to those encountered in a war, specialists in various other fields have also been sent.
Thus far, the Israeli search and rescue units have rescued 70 people from beneath the rubble.
In addition to deploying search and rescue units to find survivors, Israel established a field hospital that includes 40 doctors, 24 nurses, medics, paramedics, x-ray equipment and personnel, a pharmacy, an emergency room, two surgery rooms, an incubation ward, a children’s ward, a maternity ward, and more. The field hospital is capable of treating nearly 500 victims per day and performing initial surgeries.
“We expect to have to deal mainly with trauma cases, but when we arrive there, we also expect to encounter the secondary wave of infections and diseases, as well as the routine cases that the local hospitals would usually deal with,” Brig. Gen. Esh said.