My First Visit Home After the Passing of My Wife and Infant
Rabbi Asher Federman shares candidly about his return to the Virgin Islands
Father of 13 and Chabad emissary to the Virgin Islands shares candidly what it was like to come home after a half-year of heartbreak and suffering.
Donating an Organ Not Once, but Twice!
What motivates a person to donate an organ to a perfect stranger?
A Chassidic Couple’s Path to Adoption
From Acceptance to Action
In spite of our investment in educational efforts, we couldn’t distract ourselves from yearning to have children of our own.
The Double Amputee Who Skis and Plays Soccer
Yinon Cohen lost his feet, but not his determination
When the smoke cleared, it was clear that not a single one of the 24 soldiers present had escaped injury.
The Master Craftsman
As all three sons were conscripted, my grandmother made a vow. She entreated G‑d that her three boys should return whole and unharmed from the war, and she would take care, for the rest of her life, to eat only food that was unquestionably kosher . . .
Ruti Fogel: Her Soul Lives On
In the photo, the night is pitch-black. But there is a light shining through their window. A light that is so bright, it is blinding. And on the wall of their home is a sign that Ruti made, which read, “Hitnaari me’afar kumi, livshi bigdei tifarteich amee” (“Shake off the dust and arise, put on the clothing of your glory, my people”) . . .
My Brother, the Israeli Soldier
Full of conviction and confidence, he replied, “Once you are here in the land of Israel, you automatically become attached to it. You want nothing more than to defend it” . . .
Freedom Within Enslavement
On a simple, rational level, celebrating freedom during a time of enslavement (enslavement being a gross understatement) makes no sense whatsoever. To understand this, one must throw logic out the window and realize that something much deeper and more profound is going on . . .
Mintsha's Miracle
Suddenly—but maybe not so suddenly—it’s as though a bizarre spell has been cast upon your beautiful three-year-old. You begin the appointment maze . . .
Teens Helping Handicapped Teens
A Camp that Inspires Giving
Hodaya, my sixteen-year-old, walked in last night, past midnight, after the first day of camp. She was so exhausted she could hardly speak. But she told me the name of her camper and she said to me, "Ima, this work is a lesson for life..."
Don't Believe in Miracles--Expect Them!
My Health Saga
I had "symptoms" of a number of major diseases and if that were not enough, my doctor said I had about six months to live. His only advice was to get my affairs in order...
Tragedy! Young Mother Dies
All they felt was pity for the woman who died so young and for the poor little orphan who would have a hard life ahead.
The Son Who Cannot Ask
Praying for My Autistic Son's Redemption
He looks okay, but he is not okay, and we, his parents, know and live with this every day. Like his ancestors in Egypt, our son is in a prison; his is a prison of the mind, perhaps the heart.
The Bleeding Hat
We danced and sang in the sukkah, the transformative rain a mikvah-like immersion in G‑d’s presence and will . . .
Four Completed Lives
There was Ari, 15, who used to say that "life was too short to waste on anger." Noah, 6, was extra nice to children who had trouble making friends. Adira, 5, was strong-willed and carefree. Natan, 4, had Down syndrome and loved to play guitar and sing...
Zaidy's Yom Kippur
It’s an old voice, but powerful and steady. It is my zaidy (grandfather) saying the mourner’s kaddish for his father, whose yahrtzeit is on Yom Kippur.
A Hidden Angel
It is very unlike me to sit down and write something like this, and yet, I feel that I have an obligation to do so. I am a quiet person, who lives a quiet life, and until about a year ago there was nothing newsworthy or interesting about myself or my five children...
Blood Rush
There's this wonderful pool of light coming through the window, and beauty in the chaos of white, plastic envelopes awaiting pickup by hundreds of people who, like me, have come to see what was taking place in their innards
In one pivotal moment, the star seems to be relating its life story: birth, growth, death, and even afterlife, fuse together in a strange and tragic way
I'm in Hawaii, He's in Iraq
I guess when something is truly right for you, no matter how impractical or out of the ordinary it may seem, you find yourself doing what you are meant to do...
Faith, Courage and Triumph
I still have a bullet lodged in my brain. My speech is slurred and I have difficulty maintaining balance when I walk. But I am determined that, with the help of G-d, these will not stop me from doing what I know I was born to do
The Life I Have
The life lived in this lumpy body with its pathological blood. No one, I realized, envied my life or considered it normal. No one, that is, but me. Because, you see, it's my life...
If I can buffer my grief or save it for only those to whom I am "really close", I do. If I can deflect it or distract it by anger or politics, I do. But recently I wrote to a colleague mourning the murder of a friend, only to realize that I was speaking to myself...
Quest of a Spiritual Warrior
How can I, one ant of a human being on a continent near the South Pole, make the smallest indent in the steely surface of hate and indifference? The answer can be drawn from the ancient wisdoms, which note that each person is the spiritual size of the cosmos
She walked out of the room. Halfway down the hallway she stopped and stood motionless as if confronting an invisible wall
To Fill the Now with Love
She wrote: My brother is dying! Tell me something, please... But I could not answer then. And later, when I could, this is what I wrote to her...
Just Let Go
Let go to the weakness, to the unknown, to the sadness, to the future, to the new you that you are getting to know. Let go, and feel the thrill. Let go, and let G-d catch you as you fall
Chaim's Bar Mitzvah
Chaim was born 13 years ago, a healthy child to healthy parents. Then one day, out of the blue, Chaim contracted a "virus" (funny, how when they don't know what it is, they call it a "virus"...)
As I Sit in Darkness
We land upon foreign, distant shores, pioneers of a self born simply of our soul demanding its expansion.
My hair, thank G-d, is growing back. Hair, beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, the works. My color has returned, or at least transformed from a yellow brown pallor to a more healthy tone. I'm lookin' good. At least that's what everyone says...
A Letter to Annya
We never met. I have only seen your picture. And even that came long after I knew that we were bonded by an ancient bond, that there was a debt that I owed you
The Sound of the Silent Shofar
OK, that’s the law; but where is the inspiration? Where is the majesty? How can we hear a silent shofar?
My Son’s Life
It may seem odd that I am writing such a detailed letter. But I have noticed that it’s been very hard for people to talk about this, so I decided to step forward on my own and tell this story . . .
It is a journey into memories of days lost or at least misplaced. Sometimes it takes every ounce of courage I have to not turn them away, to allow them to wrench my gut and heart with shame and regret and pass through my body like a wave of fire...
Are We Disposable?
In today's world, we're told that the faster and fuller we "carry on with our lives" after we lose someone, the healthier we are. Does this mean that we're all disposable and replaceable? Can our loved ones laugh so quickly after we're gone?
My Body and Me
There was no longer this "prison" or "vessel" or "garment" of the body. There was no longer soul and body as separate entities. What I was experiencing was in contradiction with all the language that I'd read and heard through the years
Modeh Ani
Before even the rooster would crow, my humanity received its daily reminder, its morning wakeup call, through the words of the Modeh Ani prayer. The bridge between living and being alive.
Why are there no Jewish suicide bombers? Because we know that winter will end
Where Death Meets Life
Talk about surreal. On a recent Thursday evening, just before midnight, an elderly woman passed away, a few minutes after the "seven blessings" were said concluding the wedding of her grandson, the son of her youngest child...
A Couple's Heartwrenching Struggle
I see her beautiful and content... but she says it's no more than her facade. There on that ground, soaked through with tears of joy and despair, she adds her own
Mumbai Survivor Brings Light
A spirit too strong for evil to vanquish
I recalled vaguely that there had been some Nashvillians visiting in Mumbai at the Oberoi restaurant, caught in the crossfire of terror. I tried to call one of them to invite her to our Menorah lighting.
Why Death Is Not an Option
This time I know what the situation is. I understand today that which I did not understand years ago. As I board the plane, my dear grandmother is in the hospital, surrounded by her children...
Thank You, My Soldier!
Here I was, rows and rows of soldiers before me, and I found myself in front of one, looking into his eyes, the words from my heart. "Thank you." "For what?" he asks. I hesitate for a moment... "For the uniform you wear, thank you."
From Funeral to Gala Dinner
With the emergence of the stars in the sky, the mood changed. Those same people who had just been bathed in sorrow and tears three hours ago were now regal and joyous.
Love the Stranger
Lessons Learned from a Special Child
More powerful than all his pain was the refined light shining out of this young but old man. He was simply an exquisite human being. With a special charm, clearly the result of years of struggle, he had emerged with a very rare type of warmth...
Where the Evil Things Are
If you have ever wondered "why," you are indubitably not the first, and certainly not the last. This question has tortured man since the beginning of time. But just like your mother shushed you when you were a child, G‑d is hushing you now...
Jews in Jail
Schapiro described many inmates who grew up in secular homes, or didn't know they were Jewish until late in life. Their first contact with Judaism came when they were locked up, and they longed to know more about their religion...
The Most Joyous Pain
As we began to ride we heard the sirens. First one, quickly followed by another, then another, until their wailing filled the streets and pierced the skies. As each ambulance passed, my contractions grew more intense
The Fear of Freedom
Surviving the Holocaust
When one thinks about the Holocaust, very often it is about the horrors of the camps. Most people are unaware that many of us survived without ever seeing any of the camps. Mine is one of these stories . . .
My Mother, A Pillar of Strength
I’m leaving Montreal today for the umpteenth time. I’ve made this trip many more times than I can count. But today is different. Today is the first time I’ve left knowing that I won’t be coming back . . .
A Game of Freeze Tag
The power of Shema Yisrael
Tillie Rosenberg was my favorite babysitter:
Her Russian-Yiddish blended with a Southern drawl,
Many of my people spoke like that.
She wore diamond studs.
It was she who played one-for-the-penny and freeze tag.
Living with ALS Disease
Though he can no longer walk or speak, and needs assistance with many basic daily functions, he is determined to continue living as he would have before his diagnosis...
Remembering Mendel Oberlander OBM
His email has become a sacred email address, sanctified by tears and by the little big boy who wanted more than anything else to be a Yeshivah student.
A Rabbi's Encounter with Death
In 2010 Rabbi Blech, in his mid-70s, went to a doctor who told him, “I need you to call in your wife,” and so his wife Elaine came in and they looked at each other. After all, doctors just don’t call in wives.
Motivation in a Homeless Shelter
When I heard about Samantha Garvey, a 17-year-old from Brentwood, Long Island, who has been named a semifinalist in the national Intel Science Talent Search, I literally had to pull over to the side of the road . . .
When I Visited My Dear Friend With ALS
Instead of giving up and succumbing to this horrible illness, Yitzi has actually turned the illness into a blessing.
To My Baby Sister in Heaven
A Virgin Islands emissary finds light in a dark, cold world
The Disgraced Woman’s Successful Cry of Anguish
The remarkable story of a young woman who married a wagon driver and raised a family of Torah scholars.