Frum Judaism, life, rants, Yeshiva

Two years later: Shua Finkelstein Z”L

Shua Finkelstein
On this date two years ago, a young man named Shua Finkelstein, 20, from Lakewood, NJ  was found dead from an overdose of pain killers. Shua and I went to the same yeshiva in Israel in 2007. Although I’d spent the previous year there, I returned for six weeks and it was during that time I met Shua, who was in the middle of his year at the yeshiva.


Although I barely knew him and didn’t really get a chance to get to know him, when the news came to me that he had died, I felt like I had lost a member of the family.

And while I’m honestly ignorant in regards to what troubled Shua in life, I would like to share something he wrote shortly before he died. He wanted it to be shared with the public, and so I hope I can honour his memory by fulfilling this wish. Continue reading “Two years later: Shua Finkelstein Z”L”

life, Yeshiva

Rosh Chodesh Elul 5765: The first day of a new life

Today’s date on the Jewish calendar is the anniversary of very significant day in my life. On The second day of Elul in 2005 (5765) I spent my first full day of yeshiva in Israel.

It was the beginning of a magical journey that would change my life forever.

Continue reading “Rosh Chodesh Elul 5765: The first day of a new life”

blog stuff, media, Random, Yeshiva, YouTube

My new YouTube Channel

Well, it’s not really new… I just decided to finally add some of my videos. At least now you won’t see how many videos I’ve actually watched…

So far, I’ve got on there some of my freelancing rally videos – one from a CUPE rally back in January, another at Yonge & Dundas Square (I don’t remember at the moment when, but I do know that it was a blistering cold day). I’ve also got a lost video from yeshiva days (I believe I wrote about this when I found it), which chronicles a visit made by my mom. Every time I watch it, I get cracked up because of all the little inside jokes exclusive to our year in yeshiva. Here’s the fabulous footage:

Take a look and keep posted for updates. I’ll add a few older ones later on.

Judaism, life, Yeshiva

Rav Chaim Flom זצ”ל, one year later

One year ago today, we were all saddened by the loss of our dear rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Flom, Rosh yeshiva and co-founder of Yeshivat Ohr David.

Although I was not in yeshiva when he passed, nor is today the actual hebrew date of his death (14 Iyyar – which was May 8,  2009), I’m still compelled to write something about a truly wonderful man. Continue reading “Rav Chaim Flom זצ”ל, one year later”

Israel, Judaism, Opinion, Yeshiva

Blood: This Day In Yeshiva History- January 3 (with a current twist)

I meant to write this last night but I met up with a few people I hadn’t seen in a while. Priorities, Priorities… Here’s what I wrote in my journal:

Big Day today. Magen David Edom came today to the yeshiva for us to donate blood. I donated for the first time in my life. It made me feel great too. My mom talked to me about it beforehand and she really encouraged me to do it. She said that she’d done it several times and more importantly, it was donated blood that help prolong Bubby’s life. That gave me even greater incentive to participate.”
Bubby is the Yiddish name for grandmother. My Bubby passed away a little over a year at the time – Nov 2004. I actually forgot about this detail about the whole experience, but nonetheless it’s noteworthy to recall because of how important she was to me and it gives me great joy to simply bring her up in conversation.

But here’s the current twist: My dad showed me this article he was emailed on Wednesday. The article was entitled “Filthy Jewish Blood”.
Talk about an attention catching title. I won’t spoil it, but it basically discusses the under-reported practice of Jewish humanitarianism – TO THE PALESTINIANS IN GAZA.

That’s right. To the same place they just sent ground troops last night. I can’t help but wonder if the roles were reversed, would the Palestinians consider a similar practice?

When I look back to when I gave blood that day, I thought about how much of a service to the country I was doing by giving my blood to those who need it. I thought of victims of terror attacks, hospital patients, soldiers in combat… pretty much anyone who’d be in need in blood to keep on living. Like my Bubby.

But to Palestinians in Gaza?
Wouldn’t that seem a little counterproductive?

The other day I posted an article written by my friend who discussed her experiences as a medic who had to care for an actual terrorist. She mentioned that regardless of who or why, human life should be protected and preserved if means to do so are available. Human dignity shouldn’t be compromised regardless of the situation. The article makes that very clear in a very creative manner by asking you to put yourself in the shoes of an Israeli solider facing the body of wounded Palestinian who just tried to kill you.

But the article goes on to another point. The articles mentions how in addition to humanitarian relief, several trucks of blood were sent in from Jordan.

Jordan? Why blood from there? Didn’t I just give blood? Didn’t I just mention that regardless of who it is and why, human dignity comes first? What’s the story here?

It turns out my blood isn’t good enough…

The article explains:

“The truth is, just as Israel has had to come to terms with a Red Diamond as its medical symbol abroad (since the International Red Cross made it clear that the Red Star of David is offensive to too much of the world), we have also somehow had to make peace with the fact that even our blood is considered sub-human and filthy by the very people with whom we are supposed to be making peace.“

I’m going to leave at that. I’ve posted the link of the article above. But here it is again:
It’s no coincidence that this article came out almost a few years after I blood @ my yeshiva in Israel.

Let me know what you think.

Hanukkah, Judaism, life, outline, Yeshiva

A Preview to “This Day In Yeshiva History- January 3” (background info)

Well it’s actually because I can’t get the full post out in time before shabbat comes in 4:34. So I’ll give a quick sneak preview before I post the whole thing tomorrow night.

I spent a year in yeshiva (a Jewish school for Biblical studies, males only) in Jerusalem, Israel. That year spanned from September 2005-June 2006. The name of the yeshiva was Ohr David, an American yeshiva (all the guys who went there are American, except us Canadians). The place was recommended to me by my rabbi @ NCSY, a Jewish youth organization I’d been involved with in high school. I also had connections through an NCSY summer camp called Camp Sports I attended in Baltimore, where a lot of the guys who went there eventually went to Ohr David. I won’t call it a Baal Teshuva yeshiva – for Jews who weren’t religious when born and brought up but are re-connecting) but there were some BTs there, like me. I’d say it was more for guys who had potential but failed to realize it, guys who had issues at home and needed a place to just grow and prosper. We actually had a great mix of guys from different walks of Jewish life, from different places, upbringings, and where we were holding in our Yiddishkeit. But we all had one thing in common – we were all looking to improve ourselves one way or another. There was just 55 of us at most, and soon enough as the year begun, we were family.T’ was the best year of my life.

In fact the Lunar calender this year is on the exact time set it was that year – which means that all the holidays and when they will fall on the secular calendar are on the exact day of the week with exactly the same circumstances – i.e. the sixth day of Hanukkah that year fell on shabbat (Saturday), which also happens to be Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the month) = that also happened this year. I know that because its the longest Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals) you can say – because of the inclusions. So I’m interested to see what similarities evolve between this year and that year.

I wasn’t exactly sure when I was going to do write this because the Hebrew date at the time was the 3rd of Tevet, which was just after Hannukah (which ends on the 2nd). I was also unsure about what date I was going to write about because a lot happened at that time. I figured I’d go with the english date for now, because I had another article I wanted to write on the last day of Hannukah, which was the day I wrote my previous two articles. I’ll decide later whether or not to keep to English or Hebrew dates, depending on the significance of the day and happening.

The 7th night of Hannukah, happened to be New Years, and a Saturday night, therefore once Shabbat was over, technically we could party if we wanted. Even though we were technically on a break over the Hannukah holiday, there were still some optional morning classes, we went to meals at our rabbis house almost every night of the holiday, and had a big party in the yeshiva of of the nights too. So New Years Day was pretty much our only day off. I spent it pretty well, which I tell in detail in the next post. Okay. So first I’ll recap. Being Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) in Jerusalem on the night of December 31st, also the 7th night of Hanukkah. Surprisingly enough, I actually have an opportunity to do something for new years. I’ve never really cared about new years, it’s just another day to me. All I did was meet up with friends at a place and soon after midnight we headed back to yeshiva. Aside from not being the most important thing, we called it an early evening because 6 of us wanted to go to the Dead Sea for the day the next day, and we had to leave early to catch a bus to do so. That was a fun day.

I could have purely focused on that day but a few days ago, my dad read me something he was emailed, which seemed like such a coincidence considering what I was doing in yeshiva a few days later on the 3rd, so I decided to choose that topic while including something about the days before.

Hope you enjoy it!
Shabbat Shalom/Good Shabbos/Sabbatical Salutations and Benedictions

(don’t ask about the last greeting)