Winning the game At Touro Synagogue February 9, 2019 By AARON GINSBURG ALSO ON FACEBOOK
|Wedding of Beth Ginsburg and Alan|
Levine, January 15, 1978 Newport, RI
l-r Aaron, Judy & Beth Ginsburg, Alan
Levine, Dorothy Pokross Ginsburg
“Well, the Patriots are the Super Bowl champs again! Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady have created a dynasty, and this year we had a Jewish MVP most valuable player, Julian Edelman. We are living through an amazing time in New England sports, with the Patriots, the Red Sox and the revived Celtics.
“How much of a role do sports play in our lives? Rabbi Menachem Penner, the head rabbi at Yeshiva University, asks an interesting question. Is it ok to pray for your favorite sports team? Rabbi Penner says there are two ways to look at this.
“On the one hand, praying for a sports team could be a wasted prayer. The Midrash says, you only get so many prayers. Let's say a person prays for a fancy sports car. Then, when they get the car, they realize how expensive it is to fix. What should they have prayed for? A fancy sports car that never breaks down. You only get so many prayers.
“On the other hand, says Rabbi Penner, people relate to God in different ways, and perhaps some people relate to God through sports.
“Rabbi Tzvi Sobolofsky says that sports are good way to relax, but if you elevate sports, what is it taking the place of? Rabbi Sobolofsky suggests watching the Super Bowl without the commercials and the halftime show, thus gaining an hour to learn Torah. Rabbi Sobolofsky says that Super Bowl Sunday is like Yom Kippur for him. For several hours, no one calls him or bothers him.
“Let's learn from these rabbis how to manage sports in our lives.”
Our lives are finite. If we fail we may get a second chance, but we can’t depend on it. We need to use our time wisely to accomplish our goals, while leaving room for second chances and new experiences and challenges. And we need to make the most of each experience.
In my family Super Bowl Sunday has a special significance. My sister Beth married Alan Levine on Superbowl Sunday, January 15, 1978. I’m not sure I was aware of the superbowl at the time. We were more worried about the winter weather. The evening before, when the visibility was close to zero, a plane crashed into the water while we were having a get together for the out of towners at the Sheraton Islander. The bartender on the top floor restaurant ran to the window to take a look.
During the last two weeks I have been traveling in Israel. Nature uses time effectively. A little rain and sun and Israel begins to bloom. I saw this when I visited Rosh Hanikra Beach Nature Reserve, which is near the border with Lebanon, adjacent to the Rosh Hanikra Grottoes.
As an Israeli patrol boat watched for trouble, amid the rocks, shore birds such as the anafa אנפה flew, soil clung and flowers poked out, including the persian cyclamen (rakefet, רקפת) and the crown anemone (kalanit metzuya כלנית מצויה). Both flowers became the theme of famous Israeli songs, Kaloniot at https://youtu.be/QHq3bb4J1Ww and Rakefet at https://youtu.be/0pJWn9ZmzIc
To use my time effectively, I am in contact with people constantly, by phone, WhatsApp, email and Facebook messenger. Sometime a chat group using WhatsApp is the easiest way to coordinate and share information. If there is not a language barrier it is easy to meet someone who is retired. Many people are overcommitted and have difficulty agreeing to a time or place until the last minute.
It’s helpful to have a base in Israel. Fortunately, Moshe bar Z’ev and his wife Carol Fuchs are providing a base in Jerusalem. They also provided a base in Luxor, Egypt last month. Moshe’s ancestors also came from Dokshitz, where many of Newport’s Jews originated.
Zvia Frankfurt, whose parents were from Dokshitz, helped arrange and accompanied me when I met Shoshana Meltzer Weinbaum and her daughter Yehudit, son Moshe and daughter-in-law Malka. Shoshana was born in Dokshitz and lived in Parafyanovo until she was 9 years old. She remembered some of my relatives. Parafyanovo is six miles from Dokshitz. Shoshana also identified people in pictures taken in the shtetl during the 1920s and 30s. She wrote a short chapter in the Dokshitz-Parafyanovo Yizkor book.
I have also met olim (immigrants to Israel) Linda Ben-Zvi from the United States, Michelle Slone and Aaron Polliack from South Africa, Yosef Malkin from Russia, and Regina Zhuk from Riga, Latvia. Regina is a Friedman and related to Newports’ Friedmans. They all trace their roots to Dokshitz. I had Shabbos dinner with Howard Feldman and family. Howard’s father was born in Glubokie (just to the north of Dokshitz).
Among the children of immigrants who were born in Dokshitz I met Nurit Azoulay, whose father Zvi Gilenson was born in Dokshitz (He wrote a chapter in the Yizkor book), Menachem Markman and his wife Avigail (Menachem’s father Zvi wrote four chapters in the Yizkor book), and Eitan Kremer (a Newport Friedman family relative).
|Arie Henkin looking at map he made of|
new section in Dokshitz (created about
Arie and his mother were sent into exile by the Russians. The train left Parafyanovo on the day Germany invaded Russia. This involuntary exile saved their lives. Arie’s brother disappeared. He probably was arrested by the Russians, and killed by them at the time of the invasion. Arie and his mother made it to Palestine in 1946.
Arie’s story is in the recently published English translation of the Yizkor book.
May you manage your time and your blessings effectively!
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem
Thank you to Beth Ginsburg Levine for editing and to Zvia Frankfurt for helping with the names of the bird and flowers, Moshe Bar-Z'ev for musical insights, and Rabbi Marc Mandel of Touro Synagogue Newport, RI for Torah insights.
|with Aaron Polliack|
|with Michelle Slone|
|with Regina Zhuk|
|with Nurit Azoulay|
|with Eitan Kremer|
|with Yosef Malkin|