Posts on the topic of "Family"
Back from an amazing week in the Golan Heights, in Israel's northeast corner. Some random thoughts:
• I always thought that Hawaii had the ultimate weather, but the Golan was indescribably great: 80 during the day, 70 at night, with a cooling breeze all the time.
• The town where we stayed – Ramat Magshimim – is just a few miles from the Syrian border. So I took a 40 km bike ride from the Syrian border to Lake Kinneret. Exhilarating!
• One aspect of Israeli life that I've always treasured is the relative safety of day-to-day life. I can send my 7-year-old alone to the grocery store, and have my teenage daughter walk home after midnight, without fear of anything weird happening. Our stay in the Golan was even more carefree; we marveled at how nothing gets locked up – not bikes, not homes, not even the Holy Ark containing the expensive Torah scrolls.
• This area of the Golan was overrun by Syrian invaders on the first day of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It's a good thing Israel didn't cave into all the pressure and hand the Golan over to Syria's Assad regime. Imagine how worthless that piece of paper would be right now.
• The family whose home we rented was totally hospitable and treated us like kings – offering full use of everything from toys, games and books, to bikes and washing machine. They fulfilled the number one rule of a good host: Making us feel at home!
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The world suffered a huge loss this week with the passing of Shoshana Chaya Shachar, a young mother of four from Moshav Matityahu.
Shoshana Chaya was the wife of Rafi Shachar, a graphic artist who designed some of the earliest iterations of the Aish website, and who has been creative director for some of Aish.com's most successful viral films.
Shoshana Chaya's life was not easy. She lost her father at an early age, and battled many years from the illness that would eventually claim her life. Yet her optimism and cheer never waned.
At the funeral, Rabbi Zev Leff, the spiritual leader of Moshav Matityahu, spoke of King Solomon's immortal words from Proverbs chapter 31 – "Aishes Chayil" (Woman of Valor) – that we sing at the Shabbat dinner in tribute to Jewish women. Why, asked Rabbi Leff, does the verse compare this accompished woman's value to "far beyond pearls"? Why not gold or some other valuable commodity?
Rabbi Leff explained that the process of becoming a pearl occurs when a microscopic intruder enters a mollusk and settles inside the shell. The mollusk, being irritated by the intruder, secretes a chemical which ultimately produces a pearl.
In other words, the pearl's greatness is achieved only through having endured trials. In that regard, Shoshana Chaya Shachar was a master.
Rabbi Leff then wondered about a seeming contradiction: One verse describes the rarity of such a pearl: Aishes Chayil mi yimtzah – "a woman of valor, who can find?", but then testifies that "rabos banos asu chayil" – "You, God, have made many women of valor." So is such a woman rare, or common?
Rabbi Leff answered: A careful reading of the verses shows that a woman of valor is rare to "find" – in other words, attaining this level doesn't come automatically. Only those who the Almighty has challenged with irritants – of those, God has "made" many.
Also at the funeral, Shoshana Chaya's teenage son Yaakov spoke eloquently of his gratitude for lessons learned from his mother:
"I learned from you that whatever happens is good. And though we might not understand what God is trying to tell us, it's always for a good reason. You taught me to see the good in every hard situation. I learned so many lessons and I'm lucky I got to learn them at such a young age – so that I get to use them my whole life. I learned how to appreciate what I have now and not look at what I don't have. I learned how to appreciate my family. And I learned that life is good."
Shoshana Chaya was known to have absolute dedication to her family and friends. What struck me when I visited the shiva house was the care and concern that Rafi and the four children show for each other. They offer genuine support and encouragement, and are committed to sticking together to help each other. It is this unity that will enable them to pass this tragic time, and it is this legacy of love that Shoshana Chaya leaves behind. May her memory be for a blessing.
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I love this story.
Elena Delle Donne was the number one women's high school basketball player in America. All the top schools were drooling at the prospect of having her join their team. So it was no surprise when Delle Donne chose the University of Connecticut, the most dominant program in the history of women's college basketball.
Then, just 48 hours after arriving on campus, Delle Donne left. She went home to Wilmington, Delaware, and enrolled in the University of Delaware.
The reason? ABC News reports:
"Skype, cellphone, texting, email ― doesn't work with Liz," she said. "We've never spoken a word to one another so the only thing we have is our physical contact. So that's our whole relationship. It's everything.
"She knows me by my smell and my feel, so, physically, physical contact is the only thing she knows," she said. "So when I did leave, I lost Lizzie..."
The rest of the story? This past season, Delle Donne led the nation in scoring with 28.1 points per game, while leading Delaware to a 31-2 record, the best season in school history.
Score one for family values, loyalty, commitment and selflessness. Yay!