A few hours after 8-year-old Sammy Sommer and his parents were told by their amazing doctor in Milwaukee there would be no more treatment for his acute myelogenous leukemia, I met them for French fries at a hot dog stand in Highland Park.
By Joshua Weinberg
“And when you come into the Land, and have planted all manner of food bearing trees… (Lev. 19:23) The Holy one Blessed be he said to the people Israel: Even though you have found [the land] full of plenty, you shall not say: We shall sit and not plant, rather proceed with caution in your planting… For as you have entered and found the fruits of others’ labor, you so shall plant for your children. (Midrash Tanhuma)
If you’re like me, then you may remember that pivotal moment of Jewish education when you received your very own Jewish National Fund (JNF) certificate for a tree planted in Israel. Whether it was for a birth, birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, or in memory of a loved one, a tree was planted in Israel to mark the occasion. The message was clear: with every passing milestone we want to connect Jews to the Land of Israel and to the Zionist enterprise. All of us who were the fortunate recipients of such trees knew in the recesses of our mind that somewhere in that strip of land, in some forest, was our tree, our little piece of Israel. As the certificates read, the JNF wished us the following: “We wish you the fortune of seeing it grow with much pleasure and ease.”
Everyone loves to participate in a Pesach seder. But did you know that there is an opportunity to celebrate a different seder about two months earlier?
Hero of the Purim story. A young Jewish girl living in the capital city, Shushan, she is chosen by King Ahashverosh to be his new queen. She doesn’t tell him, however, that she is Jewish.
The king’s vizier (adviser), a main character in the Purim story. Haman wants everyone in the kingdom to bow down to him, but Mordechai (a Jew) refuses. This leads Haman to decide to kill all the Jews, and he convinces the king to allow the plan.
“Presents for the poor” (Hebrew). Tzedakah (charitable giving) in honor of Purim.
A main character of the Purim story, Mordechai was Esther’s cousin, who raised her after her parents died. He saves the king’s life when he overhears a plot against the king.
Literally, “four species.” The Torah specifies four species to bring together on Sukkot. The four species are: lulav (branches of palm trees), etrog (citron), hadasim (myrtle branches), and aravot (willows) (Leviticus 23:40).