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People Making a Difference

Rabbi YY Kazen
1954-1998
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Kazen, OBM, "father of the Jewish Internet"
I Was a Street Child in Ukraine
The true story of a girl who learned to believe in herself
Helen Thomas Told Me to Go Home
She was a journalist for 60 years, and I was a journalist for 60 seconds; I figured it was time we met.
A Powerful Player
Being able to focus on one goal is admirable; the ability to invest in two seemingly diametrically opposed goals at the same time is amazing.
Rockets to Roses
How Israeli artist Yaron Bob transforms weaponry into works of art
Coming Full Circle: Penina Taylor's Spiritual Journey
How an evangelical Christian leader came full circle and discovered the beauty of her Jewish roots.
Yachad
Supporting families with special-needs children
“If you have a child with special needs, you experience similar things, whether it’s grief over losing the dream of having a ‘perfect child,’ or dealing with challenging school systems and difficult grandparents and communities that make them feel excluded,” said Dr. Jeff Lichtman, the national director of Yachad...
Being Jewish in Belarus
I remember coming home crying to my parents, saying, ‘We eat the same foods, watch the same things, why do they hate us just because we’re Jewish?’ They couldn’t answer me.”
Hospitality on Mt. Meron
Nonstop nourishment for body and soul
Hannah, together with her children as they grew up, was there serving the visitors every single Shabbat, every festival and other important dates in the calendar which brought hundreds, and later thousands, of visitors to Rebbe Shimon’s tomb. She continued her devoted work right until her death four years ago . . .
Travels Through Time, Space and Beyond
The Scientist and the Rebbe
The Rebbe thought deeply for a few minutes and said, “Keep looking. To sit here, and not look, and say there is nothing out there, is placing a limit on G‑d’s creation. That you can’t do!” . . .
Re-Locating the Lost Holocaust Torah Scroll
A beautiful true tale of how the meandering path of a Torah scroll—and an act of kindness—comes full circle.
Why Did I Attend a Dinner with 4,500 Rabbis?
Just three years ago I thought Chabad was trying to “reel me in” to a hardcore religious lifestyle. That’s what they do, right? But no matter how many times I spent Shabbat dinner with them, I never felt pressured to do anything...
Are You Happy?
Tips from the month of Adar
Happiness is one of the most sought-after and elusive goals. Everyone wants to have it, but not everyone knows how to find it easily. Why is it so difficult to find? Perhaps because we look for it in the wrong place . . .
The Power of Imagination
A Kabbalistic understanding
“Lights . . . Camera . . . Action!” As the viewer sits mesmerized, his eyes glued to the screen, he is transferred from the reality of his own gray...
Just One Life
With a new baby on the way, how would they survive? An abortion was inconsistent with their traditional values, but they felt there was nothing else they could do. They feared for their future...
Noam's Choice
A Life of Giving
Noam was hailed a hero by students and rabbis at the yeshiva for his actions. Had he not locked that connecting door during his final moments, many more people would have been killed that night. After Noam's death, his family discovered a trove of poems in his desk...
Tunisia’s Russian Jewish Leader
This Russian-born, wandering Jewess went from one end of the Soviet Union to another, from Asia to Western Europe, and finally to the not-so-welcoming arms of North Africa. Now in her eighties, Mrs. Pinson is still very much spry, effusive, and well-dressed in clothing with European flair...
An Ounce of Prevention
Dor Yesharim--Working to Obliterate Jewish Genetic Disorders
After having several healthy children, they discovered that they were a carrier couple when their beloved son Mendel showed signs of Tay-Sachs in his infancy. He died after four years marked by hospitalization and suffering...
Buying Lives
Judy Feld Carr's Secret Rescue of Syrian Jews
The Canadian musicologist and mother of six supported her household and raised a family while almost single-handedly rescuing 3,228 Syrian Jews. "There were no typical days," recalls Judy...
Never on Friday!
Dudu Fisher: From Broadway to Holy Days
"My first big Broadway act," Dudu Fisher recalls, "was my refusal to work on Shabbat. No Friday night show; no Saturday matinee. No one did it before, to my knowledge, and I honestly don't know if I'd be tough enough to do it again..."
Praying for Baby Aliza
A Mother's Story of Hope, Faith and Gratitude
In North Miami Beach, Florida, August 23, 2007, a family barbecue was transformed from simple summer fun to a catastrophic event which would permanently alter the lives of the Schwab family. Four-year-old Aliza Schwab was found unconscious at the bottom of the family pool.
Smiling at Death
Simcha (Shari) Gershan: Contagious Enthusiasm even in the Darkest Moments
When Shari was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in April 2008, she concluded that there had to be reason she was chosen for this journey. So the 41-year-old mother of four embraced the illness as a gift whose lessons should be shared...
The Holtzbergs’ role in Bhagirath Prasad’s long journey home
The storm began when at eighteen, Bhagirath, emerging from his sheltered childhood, began to question his religious roots. Every home he’d visit boasted several idols . . .
First Class General, First Rate Human Being
Major General Doron Almog's many years of courageous service in the IDF allow him much to be proud of. But he chooses to focus instead on another passion...one inspired by a severely handicapped child.
A Matter of Principal
Secrets from the Trenches: How one man transformed a crime-ridden Bronx school
His first day on the job, there was a beating. The victim, a young teenager, suffered brain damage, vision loss and more. After having the perpetrator arrested for assault, Waronker got a personal death threat...
The Guru Jew
A spiritual journey from a Himalayan enclave to the Old City of Jerusalem
Off to find the ultimate, Gil was soon on a plane headed to the guru's ashram in central South India. Though he devoted himself with zeal to the Hindu teachings, long years of deep meditation "brought me no joy, just a stronger desire to find the Eternal."
Most Valuable Player: Most Valuable Lesson
"Everyone has their mission. No one's mission is more important than the other," states Tamir Goodman. Tamir has found his through his life-long dream: basketball.
Discovering the CURE
Dr. Laz – Jewish Renaissance Man
Dr. Laz's unique healing formula is not available in pharmacies, but it is highly effective in uplifting the spirit of others, including at-risk youth on the periphery. The CURE in four simple words stands for: Communication, Understanding, Respect and Education.
Defiance
The Bielski Brothers Heroic Tale of Survival
As the film credits rolled, Jessica Bielski sat perfectly still in her chair and wept. Finally, her grandfather's amazing story of how he helped save hundreds of Jews from Nazi extermination would be told to the world.
On Schindler's List: Leon Leyson's Story of Survival
When the Nazis invaded Poland, Leon Leyson was ten years old. He recalls, "Suddenly, I lost my most basic rights. I was hungry and frightened all the time."
“You Be My Kaddish’l . . .”
Batya Berg: A woman who had no children, but daily cares for 150 children
Batya Berg never had children of her own, but her days are filled with caring for the needs of her young charges. Some of them have no mothers, others are orphaned from their fathers; all of them are bewildered, wounded, and intimately familiar with poverty, illness and despair.
When Someone You Love Goes to Jail
The Aleph Institute: Reaching out to Jewish Prisoners
Sarah's husband had been sent to prison. Her emotional support, the father of her children and the family's breadwinner was now incarcerated as she was left in the pain of solitude.
From Super Bowl Champion to Champion of Judaism
Meet Alan Veingrad. Offensive lineman. Green Bay Packer. Dallas Cowboy. Champion of Super Bowl XXVII.
Soul Music
Meet Yood: Dynamic, Chassidic Rock N’ Roll Band
Could an echo of King David be heard in a rock n’ roll, stamping and bogeying, high-volume band of three modern day Chassidic-Hendrix-Kabbalistic-electric-good time mix of nice Jewish boys called Yood?
I'm Telling You, Child, You Are a Gentile
A spiritual journey: from Tonica Marlow to Tova Mordechai
Tonica Marlow couldn’t take her eyes off the rabbi or the Torah scroll he held in his hand. What am I doing here? she kept asking herself. So many times she had promised herself never to come here again, and yet here she was again . . .
Warning the Western World
Brigitte Gabriel: A Lebanese Christian Journalist Battles for Israel
When Gabriel entered the emergency room, she was shocked by what she saw around her: hundred of wounded people, Muslims, Palestinians and Christians being treated by Israeli doctors. "They didn't see religion, they didn't see political affiliation, they saw people in need and they helped."
Friends Forever
The Friendship Circle--Special Friendships for Special Children
Everyone wants to belong. To be loved and appreciated. But for parents of children with special needs, finding a safe haven of friendship and social activities can be daunting.
Kosher Cop
Las Vegas Undercover Officer Fights For His Religious Rights
Steve Riback found himself pursuing a job as a policeman in Las Vegas. He wanted to be a warrior for good. Little did Steve know how much of a warrior G‑d wanted him to be.
Escape from Hell
A true story of a Jewish woman’s harrowing escape from her abusive husband
Sleep eluded Daphna, as she stared into the darkness of the night. She tried in vain to still the hammering of her heart against her chest. Tomorrow was the day...
For Sixty-Five Years I Thought She was Dead
A Wondrous Reunion
Simon Glasberg never forgot his sister, Hilda. As soon as the Germans entered their hometown of Chernowitz, Romania, she was smuggled into the Soviet Union. His family never heard from her again.
A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Synagogue
The Russels: A marriage of show biz, diapers and chicken soup
Reuven and Esther Rachel Russell are happy cliché busters. Successful actors and comedians, they are busy building more than dynamic careers; they are building a "home in Israel"—living a full Jewish life and raising an active brood of five.
Meet the Amazing Mother of Nine Children, Four of Whom Have Down Syndrome
"You and Your Baby Start a Song"
"For every ounce of effort we give these children, they give back tenfold." Chaya is the mother of six biological children, including a son with Down Syndrome and three adopted kids with Down Syndrome who were tragically abandoned by their parents at birth or shortly afterwards
A Righteous Tree
This tree trunk stood in the backyard of Jana Sudova, a Czech Righteous Among the Nations, who in early 1945 hid four Jewish escapees of the death marches...
Journey to the Wilderness
What would it be like to live in complete harmony with nature in its purest form? This past winter, David Wakil, a pilot by profession, fulfilled that vision when he traveled from his city of residence in Sydney, Australia to Antarctica...
Spiritual Graphology--The Soul of Handwriting
Finding the Mind, Body and Soul Connection
Welcome to the World of Graphology and join us on a magical mystical journey where a new understanding of how one writes can lead to spectacular insight and understanding not only of self but others too.
ZAKA Volunteers: A Mission of Selfless Kindness
n the midst of all the horrific headlines and news that Jews worldwide anxiously scanned as the Mumbai tragedy unfolded, a name kept appearing: ZAKA. Who are they? What were they doing on the front lines of this critical mission?
Mayanot: A Yeshiva Where the Rabbis Are on Fire
Meet Zach, Uri and Yitzchak: Three Roads to One Destination
The students come here and find a spirituality they never knew existed. A relationship with G-d they never knew they could have.
Wisdom at 105
Life secrets from a woman who has lived more than a century
It’s not every day that one is privileged to sit across from a woman whose life has spanned an entire century. At 105 years old, Mrs. Pollack is astonishingly attentive and aware . . .
Eternal Roots
Former Gush Katif family tells their story of unshakable faith and determination
"We decided that the answer to the disengagement was to engage. To connect. To connect to the people of Israel. To bring the soul of Gush Katif to the world."
The Rosh Yeshivah and the Shliach
A Jerusalem Encounter
As I helped him fill his cart with the items his wife had put on his shopping list, I realized that I was speaking with Rabbi Noach Weinberg, the celebrated Rosh Yeshivah of the Aish Hatorah institutions...
One for My Husband and One for Me
The Woman Who Won a Lottery--and Built Synagogues
'Dubbela, why are you singing?' She asked, 'What's making you so happy?' I told her, 'It's my day today. I'm on my way to buy a lottery ticket and I'm sure that I'll win.'
Eight Eternal Lights
One Year Later--Anniversary of the Mercaz Harav Shooting
Suddenly we became aware of the fact that the souls of these boys were here with us, as we danced with the Torahs dedicated to their memories. The room was electric with their presence.
Save My Children
Three Jewish Children Trapped in Gaza
Galit fled Gaza two years ago after having been trapped there by her husband, Rami Mahmoud Kadera. Rami was recently killed in Operation Cast Lead but Rami's family is refusing to return her children to her.
Not As Simple as It Looks
Mother of 14 describes the complexities of managing her Matzah Bakery
Baila Grunwald of Montreal, Canada, mother of fourteen children, never intended to become a business manager. But ever since 1993, when the Montreal Matzah Bakery opened its door, Baila has been putting in long hours at work to ensure the superb quality of her matzah.
To Love without Limits
Matching Special Need Children with Especially Loving Adoptive Parents
“We usually are given a matter of days to find a Jewish home, or the child will go to a church or some other non-Jewish situation,” says Steve Krausz of Denver, who together with his wife founded The Jewish Children’s Adoption Network (JCAN).
Fighting Loneliness and Isolation
I-Volunteer: Pairing Holocaust Survivors with Young Volunteers
They managed to survive some of the greatest horrors known to man in the modern age. But now, many aging Holocaust survivors are facing a new affliction: loneliness.
Building a Modern Day Version of Noah's Ark
Using his skills as a carpenter, Johan worked in Honduras and Ethiopia doing emergency work, rebuilding houses after wars and disasters. Then Johan went from creating spiritual "Arks" throughout the world to deciding on building a real Ark. An Ark to teach people about G‑d...
From Ashes to Rebirth
Life on Kibbutz Lavi
The land was rocky, the stones needed to be removed by hand, and in the first two years, the lack of water in the area necessitated water to be trucked in daily. Yet these youngsters persisted...
Sublime Shtick
Drawling cowboys, squeaking doors, crazy monologues greet you from the Bresler's answering machine. Don't hang up, you've reached the right number...
The Lion Without Teeth
The Drug Dealer Who Found a New Addiction
Yakov Baruchman was on the verge of making the deal of a lifetime. Yakov trusted himself, an expert judge of character, a king of his own underworld that extended from an appliance store in Tel Aviv to the alleys of Amsterdam. The guys drove up in the car with a woman in the back seat. Yakov was ready...
Batting 1.000
Religious Baseball Agent Makes His Mark
The 6’1” attorney with a kippah not only helps his players negotiate contracts and develop marketing and public relations strategy, he also plays other significant roles on their playing field – that of a shrink, rabbi, and watchful big brother...
Israel's Man of Courage
Steve Averbach was riding the Egged No. 6 bus in Jerusalem on the morning of May 18, 2003 when a Palestinian terrorist disguised as an ultra-Orthodox Jew boarded the bus near the French Hill neighborhood...
The Positive Rabbi
The life of Rabbi Levi Deitsch
Before the High Holidays I called to see how he was. Rabbi Levi answered the phone. He had prepared his High Holiday sermons, but because of the loss of vision, he was unable to focus on the text he had written.
My Grandfather, Scholar and Businessman: Rabbi Hirsch Chitrik
I’ve been asked how it is possible that a young person like me, who was raised in a Jewish religious environment, can continue with that lifestyle while living in a mostly secular community...
Lyrics that Uplift
Rappers Who Found their Soul through their Music
People get to wake up to music that tells them, "It's a beautiful world; open up your eyes, see the sun shining. There's a real reason why you're born.You have a mission. And your mission is sacred."
Custom Tailored Homework: My Teacher Who Cared
He would hand it discreetly so I won't be embarassed. And I wasn't the only one. Portrait of a teacher who changed many lives.
Mission to Russia
A Rabbi Eulogizes President Reagan
He gave brief descriptions of the people who my parents would be meeting and what their needs were: who needed to have a marriage performed, who needed tefillin, which families needed Jewish toys and candies...
A Jewish-Dutch Tapestry
“My name is Baroness Alice van Slingelandt, and I originate from Vienna," began the elderly vicar.
In honor of these women, let's take a look at some of the many hats they wear.
45 Portina Road
Boston’s Best Kept Secret
He would take out his small notebook, the kind with the coils at the top, and write on page after page: “Rabbi Leib & Leah Scheiner, 45 Portina Road, Brighton, (617) 254-8240.”
Meet Mr. Handwriting Guy
A conversation with Yaakov Rosenthal, Chassidic Jew and leader in teen graphology
‘We Held the Phone As If Frozen . . . ’
From the diary of a ZAKA volunteer at the Armon Hanatziv terror attack