Friday, April 24, 2009

Leviticus Tazria and Metzorah Verses 12:1-15:33

Originally, I had no idea why there were TWO Torah portions this week. I was going to write an interpretation for Tazria and one for Metzora, but they go hand in hand. Both talk about hygiene and so far I'm getting really sick of hygiene. Every law is pretty much to keep the body clean. Some apply today, but some are for Ancient Israelites. Some are still used today like the Kashrut. Yet, some have disappeared like sacrifice. Jews were the cleanest of all ancient civilizations, but if you were super unclean you would be banished. Maybe it is not to spread disease, but think if that was you.

This past week I have been sick as a dog and although it was just a cold in ancient Israel I could be kicked out if it went on for weeks and weeks and weeks. Do you think that is fair?]

Friday, April 17, 2009

Leviticus Shemini Verses 9:1-11:47

This week's Torah portion began right where last week's left off. God is in the process of describing the sacrificial laws. I began reading and had not a clue of how to interpret what is already been told. It was the same as last week! All of the sudden God moves into how to consume the sacrificial animals and right then and there I realized this is what I was looking for.
I have been dying to know what it really means to be kosher! Personally, I know nothing about Leviticus and it hit me like a bus that these are the Kashrut or laws for being Kosher. I never knew they came from sacrifice. Repeating last week's interpretation, why do we keep the Kashrut laws, but never think of sacrifice?

I'm not going to say the Kashrut laws, but at the end of each it says the same thing. "He is unclean unto you". God never says you will be punished for breaking Kashrut. Just that you are unclean. Not being Kosher is not sin just unsanitary. God will punish you if you stay unclean, but not if you become unclean. The Kashrut were all designed with hygiene in mind. I recommend being Kosher because it shows your pride and respect towards God and his laws. My opposing point is today NO RESTAURANT IS KOHSER UNLESS THEY ARE MEANT FOR THE STRICTLY KOSHER. To conclude, do orthodox kids go to a kosher cafeteria in school? Do they have to go to a Jewish school because a cafeteria is not kosher? I can tell you my cafeteria is not Kosher.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Holocaust Essay Contest Winner

Zvi's Adventure

Dear journal

Wow 2000! It's a new millennium. I am Zvi and I never really cared about writing stories of my life, but its January 1, 2000 and now that I am turning 77 years old I thought I might as well tell you a little something. Where do I start anyways? I don't want to give you the talk. Whoa there, hold your horses! I guess I'll start on my seventh birthday……………..

The year is 1935. People crowd in Warsaw to greet the New Year. Being almost seven, I was as excited as lion about to catch its prey. The last few menorahs were coming out of the windows. I watch the clock strike twelve and I know that today is my birthday. I'm seven now and no one in the world could change that. As always my family sings happy birthday and we go to sleep. This ritual was my favorite. That is, until those despicable people

When I was eleven, I was naïve. I felt tall and proud to be a man. I was working in my dad's bakery. I got up each morning at 5, ready to bake the fresh breads. During this quiet time in the city, I would enjoy watching beautiful sunrises. There was no hustle, no bustle, and it seemed that all tranquility met in that bakery. One day something peculiar happened, something very peculiar.

I thought I was tall until I saw this man. He stood firmly still. He had gigantic black boots and sleek black hair. His uniform was mustard and he never looked down at me. This man stood forward glaring at the dark horizon. Behind him were trucks and tanks. Fully loaded, I'm guessing. Soldier after soldier trudged onto the city streets. My mother pulled me away. In the house, my father was home from the bakery boarding the windows. My mother was rushing hiding prayer books, Haggadahs, and our menorahs. I queried, "Father what's going on?"

"Son, quiet!" he gave me shout and a glare." Looking at my mother with puppy dog eyes he quietly whispered, "They're coming." Glancing back at me he began to shout again, "Now I'm going to tell you to do this and nothing other than this. Whatever they ask you just say you cannot remember or you're not sure. And WHATEVER you do never reveal you are Jewish. Just say you do not know your religion," my father snarled.

"But why-"

"THAT'S ENOUGH!!!" my father screamed to the skies.

They burst down the door without even breaking a sweat and had some weird device. They pushed my father to the ground and measured his nose then the five men disappeared into the pouring rain.

All of us looked confused. At first, we all just sat there taking deep breaths. I didn't though. I looked outside and listened.

It was horrible. Horrible I say! Rain pouring down against the roof. People screaming rang throughout the city. Doors of houses were being charged down. The evening was August 31, 1939; the absolute worst evening of my life.

My father went to work the next morning along with myself and we were shocked. Each and every window was cracked down the middle. Not a single grain of yeast was to be found. Worst of all, no money was left in the locked cash register.

My friends Jim Smith and John Brown were nowhere to be found in the city. Their house was empty of all their belongings. Both of them were quite tall and had blonde hair and blue eyes. It wasn't just them. It was family after family; all who I knew for a fact weren't Jewish.

Nazi planes were always flying around. Sometimes they would fire a missile or two. Many people left. I wanted to get out of there as quick as possible, but my mother could not bear leaving the homeland. On Saturday of that week my father was questioned and as he described it harassed for wearing a tallis.

September was ok, but by October all was lost. My dad could not pay to repair the bakery windows and he had to close down until further notice. I was bummed not to smell the fresh breads, but unfortunately there were laws that our friends could not buy our baked goods.

Warsaw was blocked by a Nazi soldier wall. All with guns pointed at us. My father and I went into town quite surprised. At one point, a boy sold us armbands that had a Star of David on them. He claimed it was a decree. I did not understand this concept, but I afraid of my father being grumpier each day. My dad had to purchase one for my mom too. My brother Avi got a pass since he's only one year old. I did not because I was eleven.

Then, we saw our bank accounts sink down to the lowest valley. All our funds by law were held to 250 zlotys a week which I think is about $74 in US. On top of all this, I think a caught a glance of the Nazis building a wall, but I never saw any progress all winter. Worse was up ahead.

Soon, Nazi soldiers took away my father's bakery along with all the stores next to it. All of the owners were Jewish. Then, a week later they gave them to new owners. My dad really wanted work for we were a starving family, but the government never permitted it.

On December 1, the few Jewish stores that were not bought by Nazis had a Star of David on the window. Law after law was coming out. All of them were ridiculous and all anti-Semitic. We couldn't even take the train anymore. Days of torture went on and our house got messier. My parents were too miserable to cook or clean.

Nobody remembered to sing happy birthday to me this year. This was my favorite ritual.

When March rolled along, some more peculiar acts were presented to the Jews. Just about a month ago, wall construction began again, but this time it was really taking off. Then, people in gangs came along. Everyone in a gang wore the same uniform. They waved a Nazi flag and then out of the blue just started attacking people. One gang member was Braun. Braun moved here a very long time ago from Germany. He had blonde hair and blue eyes much taller than me. We went to pre-school together. We were practically best friends. That is until he killed my mother. Massacres happened in the village just after Purim. Authorities tried to stop it, but they had liar's eyes.

People were getting depressed although I was try to see some light at the end of the tunnel! My dad would just sit home all day crying over my mom. I called ZTOS who helped me through tough times. The Jewish Mutual Care helped families like mine. They gave us soups, breads, and pretty much anything to survive over the summer.

Yom Kippur came quicker than I thought it would. People died for God fasting. They passed out from starvation. Warsaw's Jews no longer had a chief rabbi. The ones who were left standing were told hideous news. Remember the wall I telling you about? That wall was going to replace soldiers by trapping us in this miserable place. The ghetto trapped us by barbed wire in November of 1940.

People started dropping like flies. Friends, congregants, teachers, and relatives were left in the street to die. Laying there stripped of everything they owned. Some died of starvation. Although, some like my father died of broken heart suicides. My brother and I were all alone to take on the world.

As criminal as it may be, I smuggled things into the ghetto. I had to. They only gave us Jews 184 calories a day. I had more than that this morning with eggs and a glass of milk. I needed more. I was thin as a rail, but I didn't care I gave my brother as much as he needed. Avi was the hope of the future.

Judaism by the way was fading quickly in Warsaw. Prayer services were banned and any speck of culture left was underground.

I fell asleep one Tuesday afternoon. I was starving. I woke up the next morning my brother was dead. I thought I might have killed my brother, and eventually I couldn't take it anymore.

I was on the verge of depression. I was going to become my father though. I was motivated to be free. It was midnight.

I dressed in all black and went to the fence like I was going to do my smuggling ritual for food. Instead, this time I just ran. I was free of Nazi oppression for this moment.

A month in the woods. I carried one thing. That one thing was my brother. I was destined to bury him in America. Have his eyes see the land of the freedom. Where else can a Jew can be a Jew! I lived off of the land eating berries and leaves. I think I had even more food than what they would have given me in the ghetto.

Soon enough, I'd say about one day at noon I reached the coast of Holland. I had heard of horrible tales of being stranded here for financial reasons. I certainly couldn't stay here and I certainly couldn't pay to board that boat. I boarded a cargo ship heading to New York City and when were clearly off shore I introduce myself.

At first, they were a little hostile towards me, but as I told them my story they changed. I told of my first night and of my family and finally I showed my brother. They said they would go right into to Ellis Island. I smiled as we travelled the Atlantic Ocean.

After that, life got better than ever. I went through Ellis Island. I became not Zvi Goldenstein, but Zachary Goldfarb. Times were tough. Stories of death camps floated around, but I was adopted into a loving family. They taught me to speak English and on January 1st, 1942, I was sung "Happy Birthday" to again. I was free, I was free to be a Jew!

Works Cited (Order of Used Most)

  • "Warsaw Ghetto." Aktion Reinhard Camps. 9 Mar 2009
  • "Life in the Ghettos." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 5 Feb 2009 <>.
  • "The Warsaw Ghetto." Warsaw-Life. 5 Feb 2009 <>.
  • "Introduction." Dignity and Defiance The Confrontation of Life and Death In The Warsaw Ghetto. 5 Feb 2009 <>.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Tzav Interpetation Verses 6:1-8:36

Sacrifice! This week's parsha was all about sacrifice. God said to Moses to tell Aaron and his sons that they should bathe and sacrifice to an altar. We always hear about holy sacrifice in the Torah, but we never read about it later in Jewish history. We hear lies in blood libel of Passover human sacrifice. It must of been important if a whole parsha about it is in Leviticus, the book of Jewish law. If it is God's law,why don't we do it? Did it just disappear? Was it a trend? Things fade out very quickly like the Yankees playoff probability in July of last season as the Rays and Sox started winning more and more. Then again, things do come back. Parish, McHale, and Bird came and gone. We now have Garnett, Pierce and Allen. I wondered if sacrifice is like my homework. It should be done, but it is not easy to get in and takes over life. When you go back to work today think about this, did sacrifice disappear for no reason? Will it come back? Would you do it if it was easy and not out of place?

NOTE: This week is Passover so there is no parsha. You can start reading next week's on this website:
Shemini Verses 9:1-11:47