Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Many of you are aware that Sandy and I are running the Miami ING Half Marathon to raise funds for Chai Lifeline. Max & Mina’s, the famous ice cream store with the most original flavors, agreed to assist us in our fund raising efforts. I must say that Bruce and Mark Becker, the brothers that own Max & Mina’s, are great guys and have never said no to any of the charitable pitches I have brought to them. (BTW, check tomorrow’s New York Sun for a story on Max & Mina’s) I printed up a “Scoop of Life” card which entitles each person who donates $5.00 or more to our fund raising effort to a free scoop of ice cream at Max & Mina’s. My kids were excited to get moving on this, after all camp’s done and school is still more than a week away.

My kids headed to Main Street and commenced their fund raising attempts. Approximately twenty minutes later, they called to say that the whole idea was a bust and that they had only raised five bucks. I told them that it was early and to persevere. By the time I came home from work, they had raised $292.00! I stopped by to give them some chizuk and I bought them some ice cream of their own as a thanks for a job well done. Despite my, pretty much, no sugar, low carb diet, I couldn’t say no to Mark’s offer to taste the Coffee and Babka, good stuff!!

As I said above, Max & Mina’s and My Kids are Awesome!

If you want to help us raise funds for Chai Lifeline please check out our team web page here. If you’d like to purchase “Scoop of Life” cards, please email me at temunotblog@gmail.com


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I wrote this on motzei Tisha B’Av, three years ago. It subsequently appeared in Horizons Magazine and on Lazer Beams and here on Temunot on July 24, 2007.

This Tisha B’Av, unlike most years, I decided to pray at the late afternoon minyan, around 7:20 PM. As always, my eight-and-a-half year old son jumped at the opportunity to come to shul. He stood, as usual, wide-eyed at the pulpit during the Torah-reading and he found it particularly interesting to watch men don their talleisim and tefillin so late in the day.

During the praying, the skies began to crackle with lightning and bellow with thunder. By the time mincha had concluded, it was pouring so hard that we decided to sit for the 25 minutes or so before maariv instead of braving the downpour and running home, even though home was just across the street.

Usually, when waiting between mincha and maariv, my son and I will review the parsha or learn pirkei avos. As it is generally not permitted to learn Torah on Tisha B’Av, we sat down instead to shmooze about the loss of the Beis HaMikdash. I thought perhaps that I could teach him something that would make Tisha B’Av just a touch more relevant.

The lamentation of Eili Zion has always struck a chord with me. The haunting niggun recounting the vivid allegory of a mother in labor has the ability to squeeze at least one tear out of an otherwise exhausted body and calloused heart. So, I began telling Aryeh about how the wailing of the Jewish nation throughout our long galus is compared to the cries of a woman in labor. I described the well-known concept that just as the excruciating pain of childbirth ends with the ultimate joy of the birth of a child, so too our pain and tears on Tisha B’Av culminate in the birth of mashiach. I explained further how we are taught that mashiach is actually born on the afternoon of Tisha B’Av. As I added this point, my son glanced up at me with deep brown, watery eyes. He appeared somewhat hurt or confused. I thought that perhaps the idea of mashiach being born on Tisha B’Av was too foreign for him to comprehend or that maybe I had somehow frightened him. He looked like a wounded bird, suddenly unable to soar. He stammered, with a crack in his voice, “Abba, does that mean I can’t be mashiach?”

How do you react to a question like that? No parenting book I have ever read had equipped me for such a question. Having been born in the dead of winter, Aryeh had just heard for the very first time something that hinted at the possibility that he can’t be mashiach. I tried to recover by stating that maybe this teaching doesn’t mean that the mashiach is physically born on Tisha B’Av but that he reveals himself to us on Tisha B’Av. I’m not quite sure if he bought that explanation but I sure was glad that the time for maariv had arrived.

By the time we laughingly puddle-hopped home and Aryeh had changed out of his drenched clothes, he probably had forgotten about his question. I, of course, could not. I shared the discussion with my wife, oldest daughter and my in-laws over our break-fast meal. I mentioned that sometimes we need a child to remind us of the things that we so easily forget. Sometimes we need a child to remind us that we, each and everyone of us, have tremendous potential. That we can be and that we are great. In a day and age when we often find it hard to believe that mashiach can come during our lifetimes, we need a child who truly believes that he himself can actually be mashiach. And perhaps we need such a child and such a question to remind us how careful we must be with the hopes, dreams and aspirations of our children.

That motzei Tisha B’Av, as I momentarily excused myself from the table, I quipped to my family, “I’m going to tuck in the mashiach.” As my son was laying down on the top bunk, we were pretty much eye to eye. He rapidly surrendered to slumber and I exercised the parental prerogative of watching a child peacefully sleep. I lingered a little longer than usual laughing to myself at the notion that I could make Tisha B’Av a little more relevant to him. Boy, did he turn the tables on me.

In the very last passage of Navi (the prophets), the prophet Malachi tells us that just before mashiach comes, Eliyahu haNavi will “return the hearts of the fathers through the hearts of the sons” –the sons will be the ones to teach the fathers. Mission accomplished.

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My daughter on (above?) Long Beach.

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In the Pre-PSP World

Now, my kids don’t have a PSP or a Wii or whatever but it does seem that the rest of the world does. We recently visited Old Bethpage, a Restoration Village where I took this pick of Tom Sawyer and Becky my son and one of my daughters getting old school with the toys.

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Two Great Words

My son started a new sleepaway camp this summer and, to tell you the truth, we were a bit concerned. He’s a very independent kid and makes friends easily but it wasn’t his first choice for camp and very few of his friends were going there. Today, he called for the first time. When I asked him if he’s having a good time, he didn’t just say yes, he said, enthusiastically, “For sure!” Whew, what a relief.

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My wife’s cousin, Danny has started a blog chronicling his experiences as a medical student doing research in Uganda. Fascinating stuff. Check it out here.

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The Best Father’s Day

I’m not a big father’s day guy, really I’m not, but I do look forward to trying to spend a little extra time with my kids on Father’s Day. This year, I knew that would be difficult.

After returning home at around 1 am Sunday morning from an out of town Bar Mitzvah, we had a packed day ahead of us. One of my daughters had a school breakfast with my wife around 11. Before that, I needed to pick up one of my daughter’s from a sleepover. After the breakfast, my wife and three of my kids had to help out at orientation for a day camp that our good friends (the camp directors) run. During that time, I was going to be home with my youngest daughters and two of the camp directors’ younger kids who came over for a play date. At around 12, I put everyone in the car, took them to orientation, and drove straight to my son’s school for a car pool pick up. After dropping off the other five boys, I took my son home but he wasn’t feeling great so he crashed on the couch. After a while, I woke him up, gave him some medicine and made him some lunch. At two, I had to run to a vort for a friend’s son and then I went straight to pick up another of the camp directors’ kids on his way home from school so that I could drop him at the orientation and pick up my gang to bring them home. Then, I quickly changed out of my suit and ran out to do carpool for my son’s little league playoff game (I am the coach). The game lasted until 6:20 or so (we lost) and after dropping off the other boys, my son and I put together a new office chair that we had bought for my father-in -law and we all headed out to surprise him at my sister-in-law’s house. On the way back, we stopped at the local grocery store to buy milk for breakfast and snacks for today’s lunch. We came back home at aprox 10:30 and I had to finish up some work for today. Whew!

Knowing that the day would be hectic, though perhaps not as hectic as it actually turned out to be, I davened earlier than usual (I teach college on Sunday mornings but I’m off for the summer so I generally enjoy a late Sunday minyan) and rushed home to wake up my soon to be 8 year old. Although, I mentioned that I’m not big on Father’s Day, this little one holds a special place in that regard. When my father passed away eight years ago, my wife was nearly due to give birth. A friend (the same one who had the vort yesterday) told me that the first Father’s Day without my Dad would be difficult. Sure enough, my wife ended up giving birth to Atara on Father’s Day.

About a week ago, I taught Atara to ride a two wheeler and ever since she has been begging me to go ride but I just haven’t had the time. So, yesterday morning, I woke her up early and when I asked her if she wanted to go bike riding, she nearly jumped off her bunk bed. That half hour or so was my secret Father’s Day treat. Though, in retrospect, I actually think that this was really the perfect Father’s Day. After all, I did what a father does: drive car pool, pick up a kid from a sleepover, hang around during play dates, take care of and make lunch for a sick child, take your kids to camp orientation, coach little league, put stuff together with your son, take your kids to visit their grandparents, buy milk for breakfast and snacks for lunch and go bike riding. A perfect Father’s Day. Hope yours was great too.

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