April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

‘Diving In’ All Over Again

Having recently returned from a surreal wedding of my oldest granddaughter, the daughter of my son in Israel, Rav Mordechai and his wife Debbie Kaplan, I came back jet-lagged and tired but elatedly brimming with amazing nachas and pride. After unpacking the gown I had schlepped, with fond memories resonating from a wonderful simcha, I pulled myself together to get back to routine, daily schedules and of course, The Jewish Link.

I read Gaby Gotesman’s letter to the editor (“Bring The Jewish Link Home,” February 23, 2023) and it struck a chord of similarities—but in reverse— with our desire to catch up on past articles. Visiting America from her homeland in Israel, Gaby expounds on the many Jewish Link publications she missed and she admirably took a stack load of many past issues back home to Jerusalem to read, while my intent to catch up was done in America upon my return from Israel. Since we do often go to the Holy Land to visit our seven grandchildren living there, including a great-grandchild, it is a similar routine I have gotten used to, and I love it as well. My bucket list will always include the ability to get The Jewish Link in Israel, perhaps in Steimatzky’s, along with The Jerusalem Post? Moshe, are you listening? Is it wishful thinking?

It has been proven over and over that the articles posted in JL always seem to highlight some point of poignant interest in everyone’s lives within our close-knit Jewish community, which is why I diligently read back issues so as not to miss anything.

Catching up to read Rabbi Judah Mischel’s article ‘Dive In’ from the previous issue I missed (February 16, 2023), certainly caught my eye. The article started off with the scholarly, erudite and well-known Rabbi Irving Levy, z”l making an impact on all who knew him, bringing people closer to appreciating Yiddishkeit. It introduces Rav Judah’s father and parents as well, who happen to be our dear, closest friends. The relationship started in the days we lived in Monsey with our young boys sharing their experiences as they grew. The three musketeers, as I affectionately called them in their youth, Mordechai, Judah and Brian Landa, growing up together in Monsey’s Ashar, sharing Little League games, the amazing Rabbi Nachum Muschel’s shul weekly, and Shabbat kiddishes and afternoon get-togethers and more are indelible memories we cherish.

I had the chills reading the article because we know so well the parents of Rav Judah, talented people who had taken on a life of Torah in their adult years. Having met his ezer k’negdo, Terry, in Buffalo while away in college, Terry and Howie blended together to set up a life of Yiddishkeit. We were always amazed how they took on a daily routine of Orthodoxy so naturally.

There’s a story of a woman who had five children, one of whom was an adopted child. Having been asked which one was adopted, she answered, “Gee, I don’t even remember.” This reminds me of the life of Howie and Terry, because they became observant Jews in a very natural way. They became our friends without a hint that they had consciously adopted a new lifestyle that was the same as ours. And lo and behold, they reaped what they sowed, made aliya, and have children and grandchildren following in their admirable path. Fast forward, my son Mordechai and Rav Judah in Israel are also now sharing their lives as neighbors all over again in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and their children are following suit.

The punchline at the end of the article was awesome about that ‘man’ from Harvard, a Wall Street analyzer who was intent on seeking a life of Jewish substance. That very man is our closest friend, Howie, Judah’s father. He is now in Modiin, a staunch volunteer for the Israel Antiquities Authority. Of course, his wife Terry completes the picture of who they are today.

All variables and experiences contribute to life’s journeys. Rabbi Levy, a brilliant talmid chacham, was known to impact all those around him. My husband Bobby was in a daily carpool years ago, driving to work in Manhattan from Monsey, and learning Torah on the way with Rabbi Levy at the helm. Rabbi Levy used to proudly joke that Coach Bobby was awarded a ‘mobile’ semicha en route.

The lives of extraordinary people have meshed for success, perpetuation of Torah values and accomplishments that klal Yisrael can admire. Rav Judah’s point that we are blessed to “swim ever deeper into the vast ocean of Torah,” reflecting Parshat Mishpatim, is truly conveyed and inspiring from one generation to the next.

I thank The Jewish Link and Judah for doing it again: I had a huge smile on my face when reading the article!

Ruby Kaplan
Teaneck
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