Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Love Song from Miriam Peretz

As an immigrant and the mother of six sons, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read Miriam’s Song. I’ve greatly admired Miriam in the last few years, watching her travel to America, speak about her loss, win awards and discuss her past. But it’s one thing to admire someone from afar, and another to actually read their story. Sometimes if you get too close to the fire, you fear that you might just get burned.

But I decided to put aside my personal hesitations, to forget for a moment that I’m the mother of so many who will all join the Israeli Army, and to listen to Miriam’s words; to give her the kavod, the honor, that she deserves by reading her story.


And I was drawn in from the first chapter. I came to realize that, while there are moments in the book that are utterly heart-wrenching, the book is, in essence, a love song.

This is Miriam’s love song for her country, the country to which she arrived as a girl from Morocco.

It’s a love song to the husband that she lost too soon; and a love song to the boys, the boys who sacrificed so much so that we may continue to live in Israel.

Miriam’s background and younger years are compelling enough to have been a book in their own right. From her early days in Casablanca to the Hazterim Immigrant Camp in Be’er Sheva to her marriage to Eliezer and her years in Sharm-el-Sheikh, she has a story to tell long before her children are killed. And this is part of what makes the book so special. Miriam is a true pioneer, although she explains repeatedly through the book that she did nothing special and can’t imagine why so much attention is placed on her. She rose to become the principal of TALI Secular School Number One in Givat Ze’ev and to give of herself to secular students for 27 years.

But, of course, while Miriam’s own life and accomplishments are fascinating, the book is certainly about her sons, Uriel and Eliraz, who fell in battle 12 years apart, while serving in the Israeli Army. And while I dreaded standing too close to the fire, I have wondered how a parent continues to get up each morning, and to deal with her faith, in the face of such loss.

Miriam discusses her sons’ deaths by first recounting their lives; by telling of their faith, their accomplishments and their commitment to the country. She divides the book into sections, first recounting her early years, then an overview of Uriel’s life, of Eliezer’s death, of Eliraz’s life, and of the perspective of her other children and Eliraz’s wife. She finished with sections about more recent years.
The book is quietly composed, beautifully written and easy to read. I was surprised that I didn’t want to, or need to, put it down until Eliraz’s death; and then I put the book away with tears streaming down my face. I walked away, as it had become too much. I was surprised, and felt strangely validated, as I finished the book, to read Miriam explain that many people have felt the need to walk away for a bit, and then to return to finish the story.


Miriam with (from left to right) Avichai, Elyasaf and Eliraz
When Hadas Peretz Eitam recounts her experiences with her brothers’ and her father’s death, she writes, “Strength is something internal that you’re not aware exists inside you until the moment you have to use it. We didn’t overcome, because we were never defeated….That’s the greatness of this nation. You can’t really fall, because there’s something much bigger than you that drives you and carries you with it.”

At the awards ceremony when Miriam won the Menachem Begin Prize for the leadership education program she has created, she had very moving words. She said, 
“You can’t break a spirit. It grows stronger and takes on new forms of giving and dedication, of connection to this land and our heritage. Out of the darkness that visited our family and many other families in Israel, every day I choose to spread light….Each one of us is asked to light his personal light and raise it up high, to join the communal light of our people. Together we can banish the darkness from our lives. We can spread the light through simple, humane acts that are free of self-interest, motivated by faith in truth of this path, by responsibility and by love for people and homeland. These are the lights that build a nation.”
We are, yet again, facing very difficult times in our country. We have lost the best of the best in recent months…weeks…days and it is not always easy to go on and to have faith in what tomorrow brings. Whether we have personally been hit by such tragedies, or whether we are only encountering them on a national and tangential level – they are there all the time.

Miriam’s Song is relevant for anyone who loves Israel; for anyone who has lost a loved one; for anyone who is struggling with their faith for any reason. It is, in many ways, a guidebook about how to deal with personal loss, with collective loss and with our faith in the face of difficulty.

Its quiet grace is truly a love song to her nation, to our nation, and to our future. 

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Miriam's Song is available for purchase on Amazon.

For anyone in the area, Miriam will be speaking in New York from March 10 – 16 under the auspices of OU Israel and Gefen Publishing House. More info on the itinerary will be posted on the book's Facebook page


Keren Yachad – Together We Can Help

This blog was first published at Times of Israel.

I cry a lot. I cry over things that touch me, amazing things that people do; I cry at most weddings during the Chuppah, and usually at britot. I also cry at the horrifying things that we see happening in Israel.

But I don’t usually cry over text messages.

Recently, I did.

And that’s because Keren Yachad, where we only recently became members, sent this message (loosely translated from the Hebrew).  “Keren Yachad is sorry to inform you that we are using the keren this month. We will be taking 64 shekel for seven orphans from two families. Only with blessings, the Keren.”

Why did this make me cry?

Keren Yachad is a new initiative; it’s described as a “forward-thinking social initiative” and it is a registered foundation. The way the fund works is that we paid a one-time registration fee of 36 shekel. That’s it. That’s all it took to be part of this initiative. Then, should one of the parents in a family in Israel that is part of the fund die, all unmarried children up to the age of 30 in that family will automatically receive 50,000 shekel. There is a committee that is authorized to look into each personal case and increase that sum to 150,000 shekel if there is a pressing economic need.

And that’s it.

Where does the money come from to help these families? From me. And you. And the 18,427 people currently in the fund. When tragedy strikes, as it certainly has been lately, every member of the fund is asked to give a one-time donation of ten shekel for each new orphan.  No member will be asked to give more than 60 shekel in a single month to cover the cost of six new orphans. If there are more than six orphans in a month, the donation for the extra children will be put off for another month. (It is possible for an additional one-time payment of four shekel to be collected from each member should the family need guidance and counseling.)

Now, there are always those in the crowd who will ask why these families can’t take care of themselves. Why don’t they have life insurance? Why don’t they have wills and assets to pass down? Yes, it’s incredibly important to have a will and to designate where your money is going. And, should you be able to afford the payments, it’s incredibly important to have life insurance as well. But with that said, not everyone can afford life insurance, and not everyone has assets to pass down should they pass away. And sometimes, even with these items in place, families need more. Children need more.

In the last week alone, we lost 21 year old soldier Tuvia Yanai Weissman who left behind a four month old baby. And today, we lost 31 year old Captain Eliav Gelman, who left behind two small children and a pregnant wife. In the early years of their lives, and in the early stages of parenthood, these families didn’t necessary plan for the financial needs of their families in case of an untimely death. These are the types of families for whom we need to be there.

Keren Yachad makes it incredibly easy to be part of the program. Truly, for the cost of a coffee and a few barekas you can enroll, and for the cost of a lunch or dinner, you can have helped six orphans to have a bit more security as they face a difficult future.

And it looks like next month, we will have more orphans to help.

I don’t have the answers to stop the terror.

But this is one answer for helping out when terror does strike.


Won’t you join us? We certainly hope you will.

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For more information and to enroll with Keren Yachad, go to: http://en.kyachad.co.il/ or call 02-6280030.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Jerusalem of Gold is Bleeding

This was first published on Times of Israel.

Purim is almost here. Well, not quite…but when you’re a planner like I am, then it’s almost here. So on Friday, my husband and I went to the shuk in Jerusalem to get together some of the things we need for our family costume and our Mishlocha Manot.

We had a fantastic time, as we always do at the shuk, with the sights, the smells, the sounds and the energy.



We made a few interesting observations while there.

The entire downtown area was empty. The shuk is usually bursting with excitement on Friday morning, filled with tourists, locals, shoppers and gawkers. But on this Friday, it felt like a skeleton of itself, and that was quite disheartening.

We walked around downtown as well, and found it much emptier than usual. The next night, while out to eat on Emek Refaim, we must have pointed out ten businesses that have recently closed.

The City of Gold is bleeding along with its citizens.

While this was certainly depressing, we did find something quite uplifting on Friday; something that serves as an important reminder for all of us in these difficult times.

While heading back to the car from the shuk, my husband said, “Wait a minute,” as something caught his eye.

There was a clothing store called Klafte that had a sign in the window explaining that they are a social business; they operate social programs to provide training and employment to young, at-risk women 18-25 from Jerusalem. The profits from the store cover the costs of the program and social activities for the employees.

This program, initiated by the Dualis Social Investment Fund in partnership with the Welfare Department of the Jerusalem Municipality and Elem-Youth in Distress, allows participants to learn a skill and to work with dignity.

Obviously, after reading about this, we went in to find a beautiful clothing store filled with lovely items. I found a reasonably priced purse in Klafte – and got to feel good about buying it.


While reading more about them online, I saw that the clothing is all reasonably priced and that they got their start with a very large donation of clothing from a Canadian philanthropist. They also have clothes donated by some large local Israeli clothing chains.

I’m sure that there are many programs of this sort around Israel – and around the world. I applaud people who come up with such creative ideas and ways to help people to help themselves.

This is exactly what we must start to do. Now.

We must help ourselves to help ourselves (not a typo) by getting out – going to Jerusalem – going to the grocery store – being a presence in the streets of our country, on our Land. Because while we are under very difficult pressures at the moment here in Israel, we can’t let it, or them, stop us.

We must keep helping others, like Klafte is doing with such grace.

We must keep helping ourselves by continuing to support our local businesses and our people in every way that we can.

Because empty streets mean that terror is winning. And empty businesses mean that people are hurting, that they are bleeding economically.

We have enough blood flowing; we cannot cause even more by our own doing.

While we can’t each save every store and every person in Israel, we can get out with our bodies and be a presence in our neighborhoods; and we can spend money when we have it to spend. We can send the message that while we may be scared by terror, we won’t let the terror keep us imprisoned with our fear.

Having the ability to convey that message with the simple act of movement – of being and walking and buying – is quite empowering.

We deserve to feel empowered, and to empower those around us spiritually, economically, socially and physically in whatever way we are able.

What can you do? If you live here, you can get OUT. Walk the streets. Be careful, obviously, and pay attention to your surroundings. But get out and about and continue with your regular life. If you have the money to do so, eat out in restaurants, support local businesses, go to your shuk and buy food, clothing, books. Bring care packages to the soldiers in your area. Give of your time to organizations that assist others in whatever way you see fit.

If you don’t live here, come for a visit. We were talking to a couple from Massachusetts in the shuk as they were buying halva and I wanted to kiss them. I didn’t – but you get the picture. Come for a visit, spend your time and your money here and be among us.

If this isn’t practical, then send money to organizations that are helping victims of terror, that are supporting our soldiers, that are empowering our people. Send money to a friend in Israel and ask her to buy packages for soldiers or to spend it at the local grocery store or to buy something fun in the shuk.

If you celebrate Purim, consider purchasing items made in Israel and giving those out for your Mishlocha Manot. Or, don’t give out more than two Mishlocha Manot this year. Make a donation somewhere in Israel equal to the amount you would spend on the food packages and give your friends notes saying that you made a donation in their name to strengthen Israel.

While browsing on Facebook just now, one of our runner friends in New Jersey posted a picture of himself with a t-shirt that he made. The shirt says “I Run For Tomer” to show his support for Tomer Ditur, who was stabbed on Derech Ha’avot in Gush Etzion recently. The picture was worth a million dollars to those of us who live here.
Picture by Leslie Rosenberg of Zev Rosenberg 
Right now, while we wage a seemingly never-ending war on terror in our streets, everything talks. Our money talks. Our bodies talk. Our presence on our streets talks. Our spiritual encouragement talks.

We, each in our own way, need to find ways to start talking.

Now.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Beautiful Day for a Walk with our Fathers

This article was first published on the Times of Israel blog on Friday at http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/derech-haavot-standing-strong-one-footstep-at-a-time/.

Three days ago, Tomer Ditur set out from his home in Rosh Tzurim, in Gush Etzion, to go for a run. He ran along Derech Ha'avot, the Path of the Patriarchs, where so many of us in the Gush run and bike and walk. And while turning around to head back home, in front of Neve Daniel, he was stabbed and left to bleed.

Derech Ha'avot is part of the path that our forefathers and foremothers used to get to the Bet Hamikdash from their homes in the South. It’s the path that Avraham Aveinu took to get from Beer Sheva to Jerusalem. Along the path there is a mikveh, a mikveh that is more than 2000 years old.

Some would say that we should avoid this path; that we should stay within the confines of our yishuvim; that we should be careful.

But some are not us.

Instead, Friday was a collective day of activity on Derech Ha'avot. There were hundreds of people who poured onto the path to walk, bike, run and declare as we must that we are not going anywhere.
That we will not be scared away from the Land, from the places that we frequent all the time, from the way of life that we know.
And we will not be scared away from our most sacred ground.

As my husband and I set out on the path, we saw groups of runners, bikers and walkers. There were kids who were biking the path with their teachers and there was a group of runners who had come from Rosh Tzurim.

A few of them were holding Israeli flags as they ran, and I took pictures of some of them. Only afterwards, when I got home and read through my Facebook feed, did I see that the Rosh Tzurim group was led by…Tomer Ditur.




Stitches and all, he had a flag aloft as he ran the exact path that he ran three days before. This time, he had 70 runners following him and declaring along with him that we will not be deterred. 

In the early afternoon, a group of Neve Daniel runners got together to run from our homes to Rosh Tzurim and back. We convinced our 14 year old to go along, and he managed to get a few friends to go as well. They ran with a sign that they placed outside of Rosh Tzurim that showed their support for the community. It was a meaningful and emotional run and I was very proud of my son.


We will not be driven from our homes, our walking paths, our way of life.


We are here. And we welcome our Arab neighbors to come along the path as well, to work their fields and walk along the way as long as they want to do so in peace.

And there was no stronger way to declare that today than with our feet as they pounded the holy earth on our run.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Alone No More

This post was first published on the Times of Israel website at http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/alone-no-more/.

It is hard to describe what it feels like to stand in a room of more than 1500 lone soldiers from around the world.

But I will try, because that was my experience today.

Today, in Tel Aviv, more than 1500 lone soldiers from Russia, France, America, Canada, South America, Ethiopia and other locations came together to receive free administrative assistance. Lone soldiers, those who come to Israel without immediate families and volunteer to serve in the IDF, are entitled to take a Personal Planning Day once every two months. This day allows them to deal with personal affairs like bureaucratic paperwork, to handle banking issues and to tackle other tasks.

But many lone soldiers have complained that they simply can’t get to all of the tasks they must accomplish in the amount of time allotted. There is too much to do with too little time and too little assistance to do it since they have no family in Israel. And sometimes, they don’t even know what they need to be getting done, or what their rights are.

As a response to this need, Nefesh B’Nefesh and the FIDF International Lone Soldiers Program have stepped in to help. Started in 2014, the annual Yom Siddurim (National Personal Planning Day) helps to minimize the time, energy and stress placed on these soldiers. The event is organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh and The Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Lone Soldiers Program with a vast array of other agencies in cooperation. Such agencies include: the IDF Human Resources Department, the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Ministry of Interior, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA.

As Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh explained in a press release, 
“Since launching the NBN-FIDF international Lone Soldiers Program in 2012 with the full support and blessing of the IDF, we have been constantly improving and expanding the services offered to these thousands of dedicated young men and women. Yom Siddurim minimizes the time and energy these brave lone soldiers spend attending to personal errands, enabling them instead to focus on the remarkable privilege of protecting and serving our country.”
The event today took place in Tel Aviv at Beit Hachayal for over six hours and included representatives from the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Bank of Israel, the Ministry of Housing, the Automobile License Authority, and the Israel Tax Authority.

All pictures courtesy of Nefesh B'Nefesh


The atmosphere was uplifting and invigorating. You could see the look of relief on the faces of many of these young men and women, soldiers who just don’t have the resources to get the mundane tasks done that we can accomplish in civilian life, and that soldiers with parents helping them can also accomplish with ease.

One soldier, M.L., who arrived on Aliyah in 2013 from Chicago, described the event as “awe inspiring.” As part of the Nahal Infintry Brigade, he explained that he’s stationed up North and is on a rotation where he’s on for seventeen days and off for 4, but that the 4 usually includes Friday and Shabbat. As he said, “I’m exhausted when I finally get out and I have a long ride back to my apartment. I don’t want to deal with errands, with running around each time that I’m out. And half the time it’s Friday and Shabbat when I get out and I can’t even get things done. This event is truly awe inspiring.”



One clerk from Misrad Hapanim recounted how touched she is each year at the event. She explained that she requests every year to be able to staff the day and she calls it the “Highlight day of her year.” Clearly, this has made an impression on those around her, as well, to the point that her daughter and son-in-law took a day off of work today to come and volunteer.

When we picture Kibbutz Galiot – the incoming of the masses to Israel – this room was truly the embodiment of that idea. The massive hall was awash in color – berets of every hue were visible on the shoulders of the soldiers. Uniforms from every unit, with soldiers from the world over were there – taking care of their business needs and getting the assistance that they so truly deserve as they serve and defend us each day. While munching on bourkas, pizza bagels, chips and more, soldiers could be heard speaking in Russian, English, Spanish, French and Hebrew.

It was hard, as a spectator, not to think about another room, some 65 plus years ago that must have been similarly filled with young boys and girls, future Israelis. A room filled with Holocaust survivors who had made it to the shores of Israel, ready to start a new life.

Today, that room was filled with strong, determined, gorgeous young men and women who have reached our shores with fewer struggles, fewer life-threatening stories; but with the same determination to be part of something greater than themselves, to join their bodies with the Nation and to tell their story through the story of our people, of our Land.

And today, they received the assistance that they need to take care of themselves while they continue defending us and our country.




Sunday, February 07, 2016

Icelandic Searches for Self...and Other Discoveries

There was a great story in the international press about a month ago about a woman who joined in her own search party. I was actually surprised that more people didn't comment, blog and discuss this hysterical story. If you’re an English teacher and you haven’t yet used it as an example of irony for  your students – you’re definitely missing out. 

Then life got complicated and busy, as it does, and I didn't have the chance to properly reflect or write about the story. But seriously - it's just too good to pass up. And it relates in some very interesting ways to one of my favorite moments in the entire Torah, which occurs in this week's parsha.

Apparently, according to the news stories, a woman was reported missing while vacationing in Iceland with a tour group. She went into the bathroom during a pit stop on the way to the volcanic Eldgia canyon and “freshened up.” She returned to the bus so fresh that “her busmates didn’t recognize her” and started a 50 person search party that lasted until 3 in the morning. 


Searching in Iceland...where was that woman?
How did the search stop? While searching for the missing woman along with everyone else, the woman in question suddenly realized that they were…searching for her.

I kid you not.

Now, why has this story captured my attention, other than the fact that it’s absolutely hysterical? This woman’s sense of self image was so far from the description offered by the group that she literally didn’t recognize herself.

I’ve wondered what it was that she didn’t recognize. Did they call her a fat 5'3 woman wearing a black sweatshirt and she saw herself as a hot mama wearing a pink dress? Did they call her Asian (which she apparently was) and she didn’t relate to such a classification? Did they say she was a four-eyed grandma with grey hair and tennis shoes when she saw herself as a contact wearing lady on the town with a hat and heels?

How could someone’s self image be so far skewed from how others see her as to create a search party – and to join in the search?

While the story seems a bit exaggerated, and could certainly appear in The Onion, it brings up many interesting points. And it makes me think about how I view myself – and how I parent.

How do we see ourselves? And how do others see us?

I know as I’ve aged that I still often feel like the 29 year old young mom that I was so many years ago. I often find myself looking in the mirror and thinking, “Really? Where did SHE come from?”

I’m sure that we all do this to one degree or another. I was speaking to a rambunctious friend recently who lost a great deal of weight. I asked her if she sees herself differently now than she did when she was very heavy, and if she acts differently. “Honey,” she said. “I’ve always been a skinny woman in my head. Even at my heaviest, I was too hot to trot and was skinny. I used to look in the mirror and wonder who that heavy woman was because I honestly knew that I was skinny.”

Fascinating.

It’s interesting to think about how our self image serves us, and how different it is from the image that others have of us. In this week's parsha, Mishpatim, Bnei Israel declared "Naaseh V'Nishma" which translates to “We will do, and then we will understand.” And many diet programs tell you to “Act as if.” Act as if you are already skinny and already feeling great about yourself. Act as if you’re brilliant when you go into that major exam to give yourself confidence.  

Some degree of a skewed sense of self can be quite beneficial. And I can see how I use this already in raising my children. I am constantly telling them things like this:

“Think like you’re the best basketball player out there and believe it – then work to make it happen.”

“Assume you’re the most awesome student around, and then study so that you actually become one.”

“Think of yourself as a great friend – and be one.”

Certainly, I don’t want to inflate my children’s egos so much that they think they are the best thing that ever happened; or so they think they are invincible or better than others. But at the same time, giving them a hearty sense of self can carry them through those moments of insecurity, and allow them to strive to always do more and always be better.

So much of life and how we live it starts with our perception.

Hopefully, our self image doesn’t send any of us on a search for ourselves in Iceland.

But it might just send us on an internal search, offering a way to grow as people (and parents) and strengthen our weaknesses; offering a chance to act as if; reminding us that the Biblical commandment of Naaseh V'Nishma can be an incredibly powerful tool for self development and actualization in the modern world. 

And with that, we would all benefit.



Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A Night of Celebration, Joy and Memory

Nine and a half years ago, Yehuda lost his first friend in Israel. When we moved here 11 and a half years ago, Chanan befriended Yehuda. While Yehuda didn’t know a word of Hebrew, Chanan would smile at him in daycare and they would play together.  As Yehuda integrated and learned, they continued to be friends. He had a very special place in Yehuda’s heart.

And in ours.

This painting of Chanan was done by his sister, Hadas, as part of her senior project.
She won a college art scholarship with this work.
Then he was gone.  

I’ve written periodically about the strength that his parents, Tzippy and Pinny, have shown through the years and the incredible love, commitment and fortitude that they’ve demonstrated. Within weeks of Chanan’s death, they started a weekly class for the little kids after shul. Pinny gives a dvar torah (a Torah lesson) for twenty minutes or so, they do Kiddush and then they give out a treat. For over nine years they have been showing up to lovingly learn with other people’s children each week. They also designed and created a beautiful park where children go to play every day and to keep Chanan’s memory alive.

Now, they commissioned the writing of a Sefer Torah (a new Torah scroll).

Before Yehuda’s bar mitzvah, he expressed a desire to incorporate Chanan’s memory into his bar mitzvah, as their birthdays were two days apart and they would have shared their simcha.  We called the Sivans to ask if there was something that we could do. Pinny told us that the family was commissioning a Sefer Torah to be written in Chanan’s memory and that they would find a way for Yehuda to be part of the process.

Having a Sefer Torah written in someone’s memory is one of the highest ways to memorialize them and to cherish their spirit. The Sefer Torah is given to the community and used in shul. Yehuda was given the honor of purchasing the belt that goes around the Torah, and we had it embroidered with a message that said “In the memory of my dear friend, from Yehuda Sussman.”

Tonight, the Sefer Torah was brought to Pinny and Tzippy’s house. A number of people were given the honor of filling in the last letters and then Yehuda was honored with rolling the Torah, securing the belt and placing the beautiful covering.
The Sefer Torah being finished.
Pinny Sivan in front of the Torah.


Yehuda putting the new belt on the Sefer Torah.




The Torah cover and belt
There were hundreds – hundreds – of people in attendance and Tzippy bought balloons and candy for all of the children. One of the Sivans' sons-in-law is a musician and he filled the night with music along with two friends.

The Torah was danced to the shul like a bride and groom being escorted under the wedding canopy. The community danced around the Torah, around Pinny and Tzippy and around the larger family. 





At one point I was completely overwhelmed with memories.

At Chanan’s funeral, Pinny was literally held up by two of his brothers. I will never forget the emotion, the grief, the desperation of that day, nor will I forget that image of him. Tonight, while under the canopy and while embracing the Sefer Torah, Pinny was again flanked by his brothers as they danced in joy and song and love. The juxtaposition of these images and these memories was overwhelming.

When we reached the shul, there was more joyous dancing and singing. Yehuda and his friends, the boys with whom Chanan should have grown up, joined with Pinny in a dance. There were very few dry eyes as we watched them together. Yehuda held the Sefer Torah with one arm, and Pinny’s shoulder with the other, as they danced and sang and remembered.



Finally the Sefer Torah was lovingly placed in its new home, in the Aron HaKodesh (the Ark) where it will now live and inspire.

It was a night that none of us will soon forget. Just as we will not forget Chanan, his dear spirit, his floppy hair and his vibrant smile.

In the midst of the pain that the Sivans have experienced, and in the midst of the turmoil and pain that we are all experiencing in Israel at the moment, it was a night of celebration, of joy and of memory.


May the Sivans be comforted by the beautiful mitzvah they have performed in the memory of their son and may we all benefit from the learning and growth to come through the Sefer Torah that they have given to us today.