Friday, December 1, 2017

November 29: A Day To Remember

November 29: A Day To Remember
By Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman
November 30, 2017

I know it isn’t Purim yet.  That jolly holiday of Hammentaschen (those wonderful poppy seed- or jelly-filled pastries), of make-believe and masquerades, won’t be for another three months or so. But Jewish history is filled with miracles, of days designated to be days of sorrow but which, somehow, at the very last minute, turn into joyful celebrations instead.  And this evening I want to talk about one of those days: November 29.

Though it isn’t my birthday, I owe my life to that day, and to the heroes who made it happen.

The story goes back to 1944, but before I get into the story itself, you need to know something about my mother. 

My mother was 16 when World War Two erupted and the Germans invaded Poland.  Within a month the Germans overran the entire country, including her hometown of Katowice, in the southern part of Poland, not far from Krakow.  The roundup of the Jewish population began not long afterwards.  My mother’s journey of persistence and survival took her to several ghettoes and prisons, and took nearly five years to complete.  She escaped four times from the grip of the Nazis, and finally succeeded in reaching Israel—called Palestine at the time and under the control of the British—in March 1944. 

Holocaust survival was often a matter of luck and chance, but in the case of my mother—as well as a few hundred others—there was yet another reason.  They were all members of Ha-No’ar Ha-Tzioni, a Jewish youth group that was organized yet before the war in order to prepare young men and women to make aliyah to Israel, to teach them the crafts and skills that they would need as they began a new life there. When the war broke out, however, the mission of this youth group changed drastically: they would resist the Nazis and establish escape routes for themselves and for their families.  They organized into small units, each with its own dedicated purpose: to obtain weapons, forge passports, establish escape routes and set up safe houses along the way.  My mother was put in charge of one of those units.

They called themselves Nasza Groupa—“Our Group”—a simple name that belies the complexity and greatness of who they were and what they did.

Three other members of this group were Emil Brigg, Danuta Firstenberg and Olek Gutman.  They were higher up in the group, and their mission was to contact members of the Haganah—the organization that later became the Israel Defense Force.  By then, the Haganah had set up a cell in Budapest, and from that secret location its members were coordinating rescue and resistance operations throughout Eastern Europe.

Along the way, however, the three comrades, Emil, Danuta and Olek, were given another assignment, with fateful consequences.

There was a man by the name of Victor Janikowski, a Jew who, along with another Jewish kapo—or Nazi collaborator—tricked Jewish refugees into giving him as much as $2000 a person (!) to lead them to safety.  Janikowski, however, pocketed the money and secretly delivered the refugees to the German police.  Soon his actions became known to members of the Groupa.  Emil, Olek and Danuta (with assumed Aryan names and forged papers), were assigned to find and kill Janikowski.

It was a dangerous mission, and though they ultimately succeeded, the three were soon discovered and arrested by the Gestapo.  They were brutally tortured for twenty-one days, but did not break and did not give away what they knew about the Haganah cell in Budapest and about their other contacts.  Had they betrayed their friends in the Groupa, there is no doubt that only a very few would have survived.  Only three weeks later, when they were sure that everyone else had managed to escape, did the three finally give up the information sought by the Nazis.

“You will all die tomorrow,” a Nazi officer informed them.  They were even shown chalk marks drawn along a brick wall, where they would be made to stand and be shot the next morning, the morning of November 29, 1944.

But that was not to happen.  Around midnight, these Jewish heroes of the Nasza Groupa heard the rumble of tanks driving past the prison.  A few hours later, more tanks, going in the other direction.  Then a complete silence, broken sporadically by scattered machine gun fire.  As morning broke, still more tanks arrived.  Looking through a window set high up in the cell, Emil saw that these were Russian tanks. They were saved.  It was November 29, and it also happened to be Danuta’s birthday.

A day designated for sorrow had turned instead into a day of liberation and celebration.

But the story of this date does not end here.

Exactly three years later, a vote was held in the United Nations.  On 29 November 1947 (70 years ago almost to the day), the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into two states:  A Jewish state and an Arab state.  The Jewish government accepted the decision; the Arabs rejected it, but the State of Israel was now on legal footing, and half a year later David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, would declare its independence, reestablishing for the first time in 2000 years a Jewish homeland, in its historical birthplace, for the dispersed and dispossessed Jewish People.

Perhaps—as some believe—certain days were designated by some higher power to be special days.  If so, then November 29 must be one of them. 

On the political stage, the Partition vote is still source of debate and contention, perhaps even more so now than it was then.  But the date is also marked annually by survivors of the Nasza Groupa and their descendants, who for several decades now have been gathering every year on or around November 29th to celebrate and retell the miracle of their survival. 

There is an epilogue to this story: After making his way to Israel, Emil Brigg joined the Israel Defense Force and, following the 1948 War of Independence, was awarded the army’s highest award, Gibbor Yisrael, “A Hero of Israel.”  He passed away in 2002.  May his memory be a blessing.

For two years, Olek Gutman, who changed his name to Alex Gatmon, conducted revenge operations against SS officers.  Later, after serving in the Israeli Air Force, he joined Israel’s fabled secret service, the Mossad, and helped capture Adolf Eichmann, the mastermind of the Nazi Holocaust.  He also was instrumental in the clandestine rescue of 35,000 Jewish refugees from Morocco, bringing them to safe harbor in Israel. He died in 1981.  May his memory be a blessing.

Dina Gilboa—the Hebrew name Danuta Firstenberg adopted in Israel—lived a long life and established a thriving family.  She died last year.  At this year’s Nasza Groupa reunion and commemoration, held just earlier today in Tel Aviv, Israel, Dina’s daughter, Shuvit, spoke about her mother.  May her memory be a blessing.

L’havdil—to make a thousand separations— with God’s help we will celebrating my mother’s 95th birthday this coming January 1.  Last month, her eldest great-granddaughter, Opal, now 17 years old, went on a school-sponsored trip to Auschwitz and other extermination camps.  The airport she landed in was—of all places—Katowice, my mother’s hometown.  Way to close a circle!!!  She—fourth generation survivor—also spoke at the commemoration today, relating her experiences and reactions to what she saw, heard and learned.

And so it was that a day, the 29th of November, had turned from sorrow to celebration, from devastation to renewal.  It could have ended otherwise, but instead it became the beginning of a new life—not only for me, but also for the State of Israel and for the entire Jewish People.

On Purim we hail Esther as the great hero who saved our people from imminent destruction.  The truth, however, is that we are here today because of so many heroes, so many who gave their lives so that we could be here; so many men, women and children who endured untold torture and suffering to ensure the survival of our people.  May their lives and deeds become a testament to human endurance in the face of devastation, and may we be worthy and deserving to carry forward the great responsibility they passed on to us: the continuity of the Jewish People and its epic legacy.

© 2017 by Boaz D. Heilman

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Overcoming Fear: Vayishlach

Overcoming Fear: Vayishlach
Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman
November 30, 2017

Psychologists say that human beings are born with the capacity to fear.  Fear, you might say, is built into our DNA; it’s part of our defensive mechanism.  We are afraid of dying, afraid of falling, afraid of being hurt.

Granted, some fears are learned.  We learn from eating bad or spoiled food that it might kill us.  That’s a good thing to learn, and has led to many discoveries and inventions—such as refrigerators, and not to eat mushrooms we do not recognize.

Some fears are triggered at a later stage in our life, perhaps as a result of an experience we just had.  Fear of the unknown is perhaps one of those fears we are all born with—and quite possibly the one that we are least capable of controlling.

We learn about all sorts of dangers from our parents and teachers, and certainly from our own life experience.  Some of our fears may even turn into anxieties, or neuroses.

Jacob, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, had much to fear, not least being his twin brother, Esau. Esau couldn’t be trusted; Jacob knew that.  He was impetuous and quick to rage. Additionally, however, a fact that everyone knew was that once provoked, Esau’s thirst for revenge was insatiable. Nearly twelve years after tricking his brother into selling him the birthright for a bowl of stew, Jacob had to flee and seek refuge in a foreign land because of Esau’s ongoing murderous and smoldering rage.

One can only imagine Jacob’s distress that first night away from home—the first time that he could remember not being surrounded by his mother’s love and protection. 

But Jacob was a smart lad.  From his mother’s side of the family, he learned to barter and negotiate—skills he found useful in his dealings with Laban, his mother’s brother.  And he knew enough to sense jealousy when his in-laws began to envy his success and tried to trick him, much as he had—years earlier—tricked Esau.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4—36:43), it is 20 years later, and Jacob is returning home.  Only now he has even more to fear than ever before.  Esau, Jacob learns, is coming at him with a large contingent of armed men on horseback.  And whereas when he left he had nothing but the clothes on his back, he is returning as a wealthy and successful man, with a family, including women and small children, and many flocks and possessions that he needed to protect.

Jacob resorts to tactics he knows well—flattery and bargaining.  He sends gifts to his brother; he tells Esau that seeing his face is like seeing God.  But at the same time he also takes no chances, and he divides his family into two camps—hoping that, if Esau attacks, at least one group might survive.

But that’s only the beginning of Jacob’s travails at this point in his life.  Even though he successfully staves off the danger posed by Esau, he still has to face the uncertainties of survival in a land filled with people who lived by the sword, people who first took what they wanted and only afterwards said please.  Life will not be kind to Jacob: Vayishlach contains the stories of the rape of Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter; the brutally savage revenge exacted by two of his sons, Dinah’s brothers Shimon and Levi; the death of his father, Isaac (and, according to the rabbis, his mother, Rebecca) as well as the death of his mother’s nurse, Deborah, his last remaining connection to his past.  Worst of all, Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel, dies in giving birth to Benjamin.  Bowed by grief and sorrow, Jacob becomes withdrawn, powerless to control his sons and warn them against the greed, the jealousy and rivalry that he sees rising among them.  Jacob is now even more fearful than ever—afraid for his family, afraid for himself, afraid for the future he took such care to attain and secure.

In his beautiful and often-quoted poem, “Life Is A Journey,” Rabbi Alvin Fine describes the evolutions of the soul.  “From grief to understanding, from fear to faith,” he writes.  It’s an important lesson, one first taught by Jacob.

Having lost so much, Jacob could have given in to his sorrow.  He could have given in to his fear and taken flight once again.  But instead, he chose to fight.  He spends a long night on top of a barren mountain and wrestles with an unknown being—some say it was his own conscience, others that it was Esau himself.  At sunrise, the mysterious stranger admits defeat and grants Jacob a blessing—and a new name, Israel.  “For you have struggled with men and with divine beings, and you have won,” the angel explains the name.  Jacob is now armed with new confidence.  His grief has turned to understanding, and his fear has evolved to faith.

Jacob knew about faith.  He heard about Abraham’s blind obedience to God’s commands; he knew about Isaac’s submission to his fate.  His would be different. His faith is conditional. When God promises Jacob protection along his path, Jacob bargains:  I will worship you, “If you protect me.” Later, uncertain of God’s memory, Jacob, like a child, reminds God of this promise.  At this point, however, he finally begins to understand what true faith really is. 

There is too much of the realist in Jacob.  He will never leave up to chance—or fate, as the Greeks called it—or even to God, the important matters of life.  The business of survival, for example.  But from this moment on, Jacob understands that he is part of a long process.  Just as Abraham and Isaac each had a role to play in the evolution of the Jewish People, so does he now. It will be Jacob’s role to teach his children about walking with God at their side, with God in their hearts, with God’s laws guiding their lives.  He will teach them about faith.

Jacob’s—Israel’s—faith is about hope, about not being afraid, about survival against the odds. It’s about carrying on our mission regardless of the dangers.  It’s about overcoming fear and accomplishing the goals before you.  Faith is the source of strength that lies within each of us.

Fear never goes away.  We learn to control some fears, only to discover new ones.  Yet what we learn from our third Patriarch, Jacob, is not to be discouraged or disheartened.  Our faith is our strength as we take our first steps forward, toward an unknown future, toward a promised day and a promised land. 

© 2017 by Boaz D. Heilman

Friday, November 17, 2017

Where To Find God: Toldot 2017

Where To Find God
D’var Torah for Shabbat Toldot
Rabbi Boaz D. Heilman
November 16, 2017

A student of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, once asked the great rabbi:  “In our prayer, the Tefilah, why do we refer to God as ‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob?’ Is there—God forbid!—more than one God?  Did our forefathers, the great patriarchs of the Jewish People, not each serve the one and same Creator of Heaven and Earth?”  Answered the rabbi:  “We say: ‘God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,’ for Isaac and Jacob did not base their work on the searching and service of Abraham; they themselves searched for the unity of the Maker and His service.”

In this famous story we see the genius of the Baal Shem Tov.  For his words not only answer his pupil’s question.  He more than merely explained the threefold repetition of the word “God.”  Rather, by his response the great rabbi and teacher placed a similar burden on each one of us.  We do not merely rely on the teachings of our ancestors; we do not merely mimic their behavior.  Just as each of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs had to seek God in his and her way, so does each of us, in our turn, struggle with the same difficult questions.  We too seek God in places we did not know, in strange lands and new times.  We too seek to understand: Where are you, God? How do we recognize your presence?  And more importantly, how do we reach you?  What paths to you lie before us that we have not yet explored?

The stories we read about in the Torah offer us our first clues.

Abraham looked up for the answers to his questions. Gazing at the stars, he realized that God was beyond everything and anything that we might be able to see or know.  Looking to the tops of mountains, he knew where he might find God’s message, and at the top of one particular mountain, Mt. Moriah, he understood what God asked of him:  Not sacrifice, but dedication; not the killing of his child, but rather the compassionate teaching and upbringing that would guide Isaac on his own path, to his own understanding of God’s purpose.

However, at the top of the mountain, at the moment that he was holding the knife over his son, at the very instant when God restrained his hand, Abraham understood that, as far as Isaac was concerned, this was as far as he could go. Earlier, as they climbed up the mountain together, the boy had asked his father some pertinent questions about the nature of this journey:  “Here is the knife, father; here is the wood and the fire; but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham answered as well as he could, but his response left much unexplained.  “God will see to the sacrifice,” he said.  TBD.  He himself didn’t know.  From now on, Abraham realized, Isaac would be seeking his own answers, looking for God on his own, along his own lonely and difficult journey. 

Isaac’s perspective also changes up on that mountaintop.  Isaac would never again be as innocent and trusting as he once was.  His vision of God would be forever tainted by his understanding that he, Isaac, was the intended sacrifice; his view of God would be forever eclipsed by the sun’s reflection that he saw on the knife poised above his heart.  Isaac understood the irony of a God who sometimes seems to play games with us, a God who has a cruel side to Him, but who ultimately could not—would not, ever again—ask for the terrible price of human sacrifice.

Life and circumstances would never be the same for Isaac.  His home life was not peaceful.  He found love late in life—he was forty when Rebecca came into his life, sixty when he became a father.  Then, their twin boys, Jacob and Esau, were always struggling, always fighting.  Isaac had his preference among the two; he loved Esau, the hunter, the man of the open fields and untamed wilderness.  Rebecca loved Jacob, in whom she saw more of herself and the family that she had left behind to marry Isaac. Theirs was a house divided, with whispering and intrigue going on behind the tent flaps.

Moreover, in his life’s work as a farmer, Isaac endured many hardships.  Drought forced him and his family to move frequently.  For a while he lived among the Philistines, whose rules and morals were so different from his own.  He dug water wells, which, one by one, the Philistine shepherds, for spite and jealousy, filled in and stopped.

For most of his life, afraid to look up, Isaac instead looked down.  Rather than seek God on mountaintops, Isaac dug wells into the earth—an act that the Rabbis understood as searching for God deep within himself. 

As for Jacob, though the Torah describes him as a quiet, simple man, he was far from it.  A conniver and schemer, he trusted only himself.  Plotting to gain the blessing of the first-born, he waited for the right moment—when Esau came back from the hunt—offering his hungry and tired brother a bowl of soup in return for their father’s blessing and a future inheritance.  Joining with the schemes woven by his mother, Rebecca, Jacob cheats and lies to his father, trusting his instincts rather than the laws of righteousness and morality that his father and grandfather followed.

Jacob’s true understanding of God would only come later, once he leaves home.  Waking up from a fitful night spent on rocky terrain, after a mysterious dream about a ladder with its top in the heavens, Jacob realizes that God resides not only in the heavens above, nor only in the depths below.  Jacob understands that God’s presence is everywhere—particularly where we least expect it.  From that moment on and for the rest of his life, from his life’s experiences and from his interactions with neighbors, in-laws, wives and children, Jacob will learn about love, trust and faith; he will learn about laws of justice and about sh’lom bayit—making peace at home. Along his many journeys, Jacob will learn that God works through us, through our deeds and our words, and that God’s presence is, indeed, everywhere, transcending heights, depths and even time.

Today, some 3200 years after our Patriarchs and Matriarchs walked this earth, our understanding of God is still founded on their perceptions, but it has also changed and evolved.  Shaped by our culture and traditions, influenced by our past as much as by our the present, by our faith as well as by our skepticism, we still look for our vision of God, each of us gazing at the heavens, or deep within our souls, for a sign, for a message all our own.  Like Isaac’s wife, Rebecca, who, during a difficult pregnancy, sought an answer to her question, אנכי זה למה –“Why am I so,” what is the purpose of all this struggle and pain—so does each of us seek meaning and direction along a journey that each of us, uniquely and alone, must undertake.

Here is where the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov comes to help us. Hasidism teaches that holiness is found wherever and whenever we look for it.  Sometimes it appears in disguise.  Sometimes it is completely hidden—yet we must seek it out.  Learning from our ancient ancestors, we understand that holiness does not exist in a vacuum, somewhere outside us.  Like Abraham, we gaze up in awe to experience the grandeur of Creation; like Isaac, we search deep within our hearts for the answer to our doubts and questions.  Like Jacob, we realize that holiness exists in how we relate to one another and to the world around us. In view of the harsh realities of life, holiness is found in the tenderness and compassion that we bring to it. In the loneliness of existence, holiness exists in our friendships and in our love.  In a world where injustice and violence are all too common, holiness can be found in the give and take, in our everyday interactions—at home, on the street and at our workplace. 

May we, like our Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and like our Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, find God’s Presence wherever we are and in everything we do.  And may our deeds be a guiding light for our children, and for their children after them, as they seek God and search for their own way of serving God. 

Ken y’hi ratzon—may this be God’s will.

© 2017 by Boaz D. Heilman

Friday, October 27, 2017

Guides Along Our Journeys: Lech Lecha 2017

 D’var Torah for Parashat Lech Lecha
October 27, 2017

In Memory Of Michael J. Mingo

I admire Abraham our Father—Avraham Avinu—the first Patriarch of the Jewish People.

A man of love—so much so that, setting out on a journey to a new world and a new religion, he didn’t go it alone, but rather took along his whole household, including his orphaned nephew, Lot, whom Abram and Sarai (as they were called then) were raising as their own.

A man of compassion, who fearlessly—though respectfully—stood up to God to plead the cause of perhaps two handfuls of good people who—he believed—must be there among all those other, evil, men of Sodom, a people God had vowed to obliterate one and all, young and old.

A man of such great faith, that upon hearing God’s command to set out on his sacred journey, he obeyed at once—obediently, unquestioningly—leaving behind family, people, and the warm comfort of home.

A man whose trust in God was so perfect that he needed no guide, no Sherpa to show him the way, who with full certainty knew that God—and God alone—would be his guiding light.

A truly great man.

I wish I were like that. 

But I’m not. I’m a lot less trusting; my faith is not blind—at least one eye is always open, to see what might be coming around the curve.  As they say, the light at the end of the tunnel just might be that of an oncoming train.

Unlike Abraham, I am a simple man, whose search for justice is sometimes obstructed by a stronger urge for vengeance.  And I never go anywhere unfamiliar without a map.  Unlike Abraham, I need guides and landmarks, pictures and arrows to show me the way.

One of these guides in my life was a man named Michael Mingo.  Mr. Mingo was my English and Creative Writing teacher in high school.  And just recently I learned that he passed away last year.

When I first arrived in the United States, my knowledge of English was almost non-existent.  It took teachers like Mr. Mingo to help me master the maze of rules and exceptions with which English is riddled.  Having left behind my childhood friends and familiar ways of expressing myself, I turned to creative writing as a mode of self-expression.  And when, one day, Mr. Mingo returned a short work I had turned in with the comment, “Hey, that’s pretty good!” I felt as though I had just won the lottery.  A term paper I wrote in Mr. Mingo’s class on the novels of William Golding—the Nobel Prize-winning author of Lord Of The Flies—taught me much about characterization and interpretation, providing me with tools that I use to this day in my own writing. 

There were many other lessons I learned from Mr. Mingo, but most of all I appreciated him because he showed me a way to get past the language barrier that stood in my way, enabling me to grow and mature both as a person and as a writer.

Fortunately, we all have these guides in our lives.  Some of them show us a way to understand ourselves, while others encourage us to follow a particular path.  Some teach by example; others cheer us on along the way.

This week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1—17:27), tells of Abraham’s journey to an unknown land.  Lech Lecha, perhaps by coincidence, perhaps not, was also the portion for which I wrote my senior sermon as a rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College.  I remember wrestling with the idea—the ideal—of Abraham’s unlimited and unquestioning faith and trust in God.  My advisor wisely suggested that perhaps Abraham presents a model for us—a model of perfection— against which to measure ourselves, but not necessarily to emulate.  Would you, after all, be willing, without question, to sacrifice your wife or child the moment you thought you heard God’s voice telling you to do that?  I suspect most of us would be more like the prophet Jonah, who chose to run away and hide in the belly of a ship, or of a great fish, to sink into the darkest depths of the sea, rather than to simply obey God.  No, Abraham’s faith is very different from our own, but it is against this model of perfection that the Jewish People has been measuring its faith, along its journey through the ages.

We measure—and often find ourselves wanting.  We struggle with our beliefs.  Science, facts, history, our own circumstances, daily events, all lead us to doubt ourselves, our faith, and the faith of our fathers.  We don’t read in Lech Lecha about any misgiving that Abraham might have had along his journey. But we have them.

Unlike Abraham, who trusted God to show him the way, we need guides.  We need people to encourage us when our faith flags; to cheer us on when all about we see a rising tide of hatred; when we feel disheartened by the collapse of our ideals; when our dreams of a just, fair and equal society are shattered by events that fill the evening news.  We need their light and example when dark cynicism and irony threaten our previously innocent existence.

Perhaps that’s what the story of Abraham offers us: Not a model of impossible faith, but rather a beacon that keeps us marching on the right path. 

I believe almost all of us have a Mr. Mingo—or someone like him—in our lives.  It might be a teacher, a parent, or even a rabbi. A past student of mine is now a student at Cornell University.  As you might know, Cornell has recently experienced a spate of ugly anti-Semitism.  My student, always immersed in her Judaism, is active with the Cornell University Hillel.  Though she felt personally threatened by the posters and messages of hate, she organized counter-rallies and demonstrations; she invited professors to speak about anti-Semitism on campus and encouraged the entire community to attend; she wrote letters to the administration, to the student newspaper, and to the ADL.  When I messaged her with words of support and encouragement, she replied that she had long carried with her a lesson she learned from me, about the meaning of the word Yisrael—Israel:  that being Jewish often entails wrestling with people and even with God.

And maybe—at least for this time around—this to me is the lesson of Abraham’s great faith.  Not so much that he was perfect.  He had his flaws—as do we all.  But rather, Abraham’s faith is a beacon, a warning, a message sent across the centuries:  There are times to fight, and times to take flight.  There are times to argue, and times to keep silent.  The challenge is to know when to do which, and then do it wholeheartedly, with courage and even daring.

All along our journeys, there are guides seemingly just waiting for us, mentors who, with a message or lesson, with a kind word—or, sometimes, if necessary, with a stern word—who, with understanding, compassion and love, hold up for us a shining lamp to show us the way­.  They are a true gift, a blessing to us all.  And what we hope for in return is that some day, we can be that person for someone else.

So goodbye, Mr. Mingo, and thank you.  Your lessons from so long ago still live through my work and life today.  Your memory is an ongoing blessing in my life.

May we all be so fortunate and blessed to have kind and wise mentors in our lives; and may we, like Abraham, but each of us in our own way and day, be there for others, to hold up similar lights of love, compassion, faith and trust, to show the path forward for all who might need guides along their journeys. 

Ken y’hi ratzon, may this be God’s will

© 2018 by Boaz D. Heilman