Monday, December 8, 2014

"It's a Beautiful Day!"

   In Memory of my Friend and Mentor. 

photo: Hhaalumin Hamilton Facebook page

As the school bell rang to start the new day, Rabbi William Zev Eisenstein z”l, principal of Hamilton Hebrew Academy stood at the front door with a warm smile.

 “It’s a beautiful day”, was the Rabbi’s catchphrase as he greeted all the children. And with a little bop on the nose, the school day started.

On November 26th, after a very long and difficult illness, our beloved Rabbi returned his soul to his Maker. His funeral was held at Adas Israel Synagogue in Hamilton and burial was in Bet Shemesh, Israel.

We learn that every person is given a purpose in life. Rabbi E., as I called him, together with his lifetime partner Esther a”H, lived their lives fulfilling their purpose.  The many neshamas [Jewish souls] they woke- up to the true calling of a Jew is countless.

Rabbi E. was a principal, a teacher, a father figure, a mentor and a friend. He loved his students and many a recess you would find Rabbi E. outside playing baseball or some other game with the kids.  Every June, Rabbi E would escort the grade 8 graduation class on a camping trip.

He was a wonderful story teller. Rabbi E.'s Shabbat groups were the highlight for many children. For some, coming to the groups was their introduction to Yiddishkeit. Today, these children are all grown-up and many live a religious life.

And what would a simcha be if the Rabbi didn’t do his broom or bench balancing act to the delight of all the guests. 

photo: memorial page

In 2011 the Hamilton Hebrew Academy made a tribute dinner honoring Rabbi Eisenstein. Tribute dinner

On the memorial Facebook page former students and teachers posted their warm memories of their days at the HHA and their relationship with Rabbi Eisenstein.
Facebook memorial page

I posted on the page: Baruch Dayan HaEmet

Dear Chani, Chaim, Bitzy and Shayna

You Dad z"l was a beautiful man who lived his life caring about everyone. He was never without a smile and a nice word. From the first time I spoke to him when we moved to Hamilton in 1977, I saw how special he was. 

Your mom a"H and Dad z"l were a guiding light for our family. Both your parents were very special and were my friends and my mentors.

It is so hard to believe he is gone and now is joining your Mom in Gan Eden.

May your good memories be a source of comfort to you on these dark days and may you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may you know no more sorrow.

To do justice for Rabbi Eisenstein, volumes would have to be written.  

From his earliest days growing up in the lower east side of New York, to the turning point in his life, his relationship with Rav Moshe Feinstein z”l, as a yeshiva student rescuing children who were placed in monasteries and no family to claim them. 

To his motorcycle days, his university days, his marriage to Esther a”H and the beautiful family they raised. Life in Israel, Seattle, St. Louis, and Hamilton. And much, much more.  

Chani, Chaim, Bitzy, Shayna, your spouses and to all the grandchildren, your loss is tremendous. I personally will never forget your parents.

Your father was so proud of each of you. He loved being a Zeidy and visiting you in New York and Israel. 

He once told me when he visiting in Israel that he didn’t realize how much fun it was to take the eyniklekh [grandchildren] to school and to babysit.

I know that your parents are watching over you from Gan Eden and shepping nachas from their beautiful family.

On January 5, 2010, I wrote a blog called Friends 
dedicated to Rabbi and Esther z”l. I have reposted this blog.

We made Aliyah [moving to Israel] from Hamilton, Ontario, fifteen and half years ago. Although making Aliyah is the start of new beginnings, we left behind family and many good friends.

One couple in particular that we said good-bye to was Rabbi Zev Eisenstein ad120 and his dear wife Esther z”l.

Rabbi Eisenstein is the principal of the Hamilton Hebrew Academy, the day school that our three children attended and where I worked in the preschool for seventeen years.

Esther was the Balanit [in charge of the mikvah] for our city and she looked after the mikvah with love and devotion. She taught many kallahs [brides] the Halacha [Jewish laws] of Tahara HaMishpacha [family purity] and introduced the beauty of using the mikvah to women who were becoming Baala Teshuva.

Her kind words, warm smile and gentle eyes made the mitzvah very inviting. Esther respected everyone and she never considered herself better than anyone else. 

Although we keep in touch by e-mail, the other day I had the opportunity and pleasure to speak on the phone to Rabbi Eisenstein, who was visiting his children here in Israel. It was very nice to catch-up.

We moved from Chomedey [suburb of Montreal] to Hamilton, Ontario in the summer of 1977. This is when we met the Eisenstein family, Rabbi and Esther and their children Chaim, Chani, Bitzy and Shayna who was just 6 weeks old. Today all the children are married and Rabbi E. is B”H the Zeida to many grandchildren.

Our daughters were enrolled in the day school and we came to have a look around. Rabbi Eisenstein gave us the tour of the school and spoke about its qualities. He welcomed our daughters so warmly that they were really excited to go to a new school.

Since this is a small world, I must mention that both the Rabbi and Esther were mentors to my sister-in-law Esther when she was a teenager in St. Louis Mo. Rabbi E. was my sister-in-law’s principal and he married my brother Yitzchak and Esther in St. Louis.

For several years, once a week a group of women would meet at the Eisenstein home and the rabbi would teach us Chumash. [5 books of the bible]

Every Shabbat afternoon our daughters loved to go to 'the Rabbi's Shabbat groups.' They would come home and tell me, "we heard the best Shabbos story today."

On a personal note, the Eisenstein’s were good friends of my husband and myself. Esther and I spent many hours on the phone [Bell Canada must have loved us]. We spent many Shabbat afternoons enjoying Seuda Shlishi [the third Shabbat meal] together. Since we lived in an apartment building and didn’t have a sukkah, for years they would invite us to their home on the second night of Sukkot.

We celebrated together their sons Bar Mitzvahs and our daughters Bat Mitzvahs, Chani & Moishe’s wedding and when our son’s adoption was finalized, his bris and seuda mitzvah. 

Rabbi, you and Esther are in many ways responsible for who I am today and I will always be grateful to you both.

Our family wishes you many more years of nachas and simchas from your children and eyniklekh.[grandchildren]

Come home sooner than later!

That's all for now. Feel free to comment and share.


Monday, November 17, 2014

My Blessing in Disguise…… Diabetes!

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. I decided to blog about diabetes because I’m a diabetic. If you are on Facebook, you may have seen this photo. 

And in the beginning, when I was first diagnosed there was shock and fear. I shouldn't have really been so surprised because my late father and my brother both were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. 

But since I never showed any symptoms, I thought that this particular gene didn’t pass on to me. Boy was I wrong!

Now let me backtrack a little. That Sunday morning started off pretty routine. Among the many other things I had to do, my first stop was to the health clinic to do a routine blood test to check my cholesterol. 

Monday morning, I had an appointment with the doctor to get the results.

Although my cholesterol was high, he was much more concerned and very shocked to see how high my blood glucose was. “Must be a mistake,” he said to me. And with that he sent me to the nurse’s office to recheck my blood sugar with her glucose monitor.  My reading 410. Anything over 126 spells trouble.

Suddenly, my world came crashing down. “You have diabetes” he said “I don’t know where it came from. These reading are from out of nowhere.” 

My doctor is very kind and soft spoken. He called the diabetic counselor to come to his office and told me she will be my best friend.

Dalia, was wonderful. She gave me the ins and outs, showed me the glucose monitor and taught me how to use it and arranged for me to see the dietitian and the diabetic doctor.

Truthfully, when I went home, I couldn't remember one word she said.

After moping around the house for 3 days feeling very sorry myself, I decided to go to war with my diabetes. 

What exactly is diabetes? How did I get it? Is it really hereditary? Is it a virus? Do I have to stay away from sugar forever? Do I have to give up all my favorite foods? Am I going to have to stab myself for the rest of my life? So many questions that now require answers.

I parked myself in front of the computer and started my research. The Israeli, British, American & Canadian Diabetic Associations were my first stops. So much information was available. I printed out information that I really wanted to remember and made myself a handbook. 

Did you know that over 400,000 Israelis have been diagnosed with diabetes and the estimated number of undiagnosed Israelis with diabetes is 200,000?

In Hebrew, diabetes is called sukeret. The Israel Diabetes Association link is:  
and in English:

The association has a symbol on foods that are safe for me to eat. 

The truth is as opposed to many other illnesses, diabetes can be controlled. Proper nutrition, close and individualized follow-up, physical activity and an appropriate drug regimen can prevent complications and offer people with diabetes a better quality of life.

In other words follow your doctors instruction, do research, the internet is full of information, just be careful to take your information from reliable sites. There are loads of ‘quacks’ out there who want to sell you everything from A to Z and promise if you take their medicine or buy their product you will be cured of diabetes. 

Just remember, if the advertisement or information sounds too good to be true...take it with a grain of salt. 

Some hospitals have support groups for diabetics. Talking is a great way to learn and to deal with your diagnosis. 

Another way to find other diabetics in your community is to post a note on your community e-mail list looking for other people with diabetes to get together once a week or even once a month to talk, share recipes or share a shoulder. Keep a journal or write a blog. You will see your progress first hand.

Having diabetes is just one more thing that Hashem has put on my plate, but I see His Hand everyday helping me. 

Everything fell into place. The diabetic counselor was in her office the day I was diagnosed, the dietician had an opening for the next day. The diabetic doctor who only comes twice a month was going to be in his office a week later.

Baruch Hashem, my diabetes has been in complete control for the past 5 years and I am off all meds.

I am a very spiritual person and I believe that everything happens for a reason. And the reason for me being diagnosed with diabetes was to give me a wakeup call to get healthy, so that I can be around for my husband, children and thirteen grandchildren...And this week we will celebrate at our granddaughter’s engagement party…

That’s all for now..feel free to share and comment.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Shepping Nachas

Baruch Hashem, my husband Avraham and I have been blessed with thirteen precious Sabra grandchildren.

Since the day they were born, we have enjoyed their lives…the ups and down.. our little babies growing and becoming toddlers, the first haircuts, a preschooler, elementary school, Bar and Bat Mitzvot, Ulpana, Yeshiva, Sherut Leumi, chayalim, and higher education.

And this past Moetzi Shabbat we had another first in our lives as Saba and Safta…our first grandchild to get engaged and become a Kallah.

Our granddaughter Batel and her chatan Chanan announced their engagement. The happiness and excitement their announcement brought to our family cannot be expressed in words…

Last night was the vort. A vort is a Yiddish word that means ‘word’. At the vort 2 people traditionally give their ‘word’ and formally commit to marry. 

Our daughter and son-in-law, parents of the Kallah, invited the chatan’s parents, his siblings and his Saba to their home and we had the opportunity to meet Chanan’s wonderful family. 

The gathering was so relaxed and beautiful.  My daughter cooked up a storm and everything was delicious.  Around the table, brachot were showered on the happy couple.

Yesterday was my Hebrew birthday. Naomi announced it at the table and a chorus of Happy Birthday in Hebrew and English was sung. Without a doubt this was the best birthday gift I could have ever asked for.  

In a couple of weeks we will enjoy the engagement party and then look forward to the chuppah and dancing at their wedding.

Mazal-Tov Batel and Chanan! May Hashem grant you both a life filled with Brachas, happiness, good health and much nachas.

To the parents of the Chatan and Kallah, we wish you both Mazal-Tov and may you only have nachas and simchas from your children.

That’s all for now. Feel free to comment.

Shabbat Shalom