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Seeking a Personal Assistant

I am looking for a Personal Assistant

* Work from home (occasional facetime in Jerusalem)
* Enjoy turning ideas into reality
* Tech-savvy – know how to harness WP, research tech options and set them up
* Adventurous – enjoy discovering new solutions and learning about them
* “Rosh Gadol,” but can accept/respect guidance and a difference of opinion
* Detail oriented, but NOT a perfectionist
* Insightful – capable of identifying problems and developing solutions
* Understand that the client is not always right, but she is always a client (and has to be treated that way).
* Can work comfortably in English and Hebrew

Please DON’T send me a CV. Give me a short description of yourself as related to each one of the points above with relevant examples and projects you have done.

This is a part-time position with flexible hours.

Contact me through the site.



Shabbat: Live in the Present

800px Shabbat Candles Shabbat: Live in the Present

(Image by Olaf.herfurth via Wikimedia Commons)

This past Shabbat was the first one in over half a decade we spent without any of our kids.

As the sun was sinking, I deliberated whether to take advantage of the rare opportunity to go to shul or sink my teeth into a promising book. In the end, the shul won.

Singing Lecha Dodi (Carlebach tunes are like riding a bike – you know what to do even if it has been ages), I had an aha! moment, grasping why Shabbat is mein olam haba – a taste of the World to Come.  Like anyone with even the barest minimum of Jewish education, I have heard the expression millions of times, never really grasping why this is so. It’s one of those Jewish geometry axioms, except I never bothered to figure out the equation. (more…)

We Lost Our Roof in the Storm and I LOVE It

no roof We Lost Our Roof in the Storm and I LOVE It“There’s metal flying outside,” said my 10-year old as I tried to unglue my eyelids on the first morning of Israel’s latest and greatest winter storm.

We pulled up the blinds and for a second I stopped breathing.  A 10’ x 10’ piece of metal looking suspiciously like our shed roof was lying on the mountain on the other side of the fence. A quick look out of the other window confirmed my suspicions. Trickles of rain gently pooled on the two remaining chunks of sheet-rock insulation before making their way down into the shed. (more…)

NY Marathon: The Lost Opportunity

As New York and New Jersey try to pick up the pieces after Superstorm Sandy, a tremendous opportunity has been squandered. It is called the New York Marathon.

It took City Hall four days to figure out that sending 40,000 people to run through a ravaged city wasn’t such a great idea. The eleventh hour cancellation on Saturday left New Yorkers seething and the runners, who had made their way to the race from across the world, disappointed.

Yet a different scenario was possible. Business professor Saras Sarasvathy argues that the ability to leverage unpleasant surprises for the benefit of your venture is what separates true entrepreneurs from the rest of us humans.

Apparently, six years in politics have dampened Bloomberg’s entrepreneurial spirit to the extent that he couldn’t find a way to recruit 40,000 athletic idealists for city clean up. All it required was setting the marathon apparatus in motion and ferrying the participants to Staten Island or bussing them to Brooklyn and the Jersey Shore.

shutterstock 7343554 NY Marathon: The Lost Opportunity
(marathon image via Shutterstock)

Chances are that many companies would have stepped forward to contribute to the effort, whether financially or with supplies. The clean-up marathon could have been a huge success. Besides helping flood victims dig out their houses, it would have established Bloomberg as a visionary leader, much in the same way that 9/11 propelled Rudy Giuliani onto the national scene.

But alas, the opportunity was wasted. And while some runners took the ferry to Staten Island of their own initiative, the city’s mismanagement spiraled into a PR fiasco, which has left a bad taste in the mouths of New Yorkers.

As fun as it may be to bash the mayor of New York, most of us waste opportunities right, left, and center. Whenever circumstances don’t match our plans, we blame life for getting in the way.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Ladi, the author of the Tanya and the founder of Chabad, illustrates how G-d “bends over backwards” to set stumbling blocks our way. Each obstacle is a special delivery in disguise. Inside the ugly packaging is a gift that can potentially transform our life if only we have the courage to open the box.

Just ask the Swedish entrepreneur Yngve Bergqvist. On the morning of his planned international ice sculpting festival, he faced unexpected rain, warm weather and a crowd of disappointed tourists from across Europe. Instead of cancelling, his team took the visitors to the local river (thankfully still frozen solid) and taught them ice sculpting techniques. Other participants learn to build igloos.

When the day ended, some of the tourists decided to sleep in their own creation. That’s how Ice Hotel was born. Today, Bergqvist runs an enormously popular chain of hotels and is also the driving force behind hundreds of Absolut Ice Bars around the world.

If you are looking for inspiration to transform obstacles into opportunities, visit the Ice Hotel site and download one of the gorgeous pictures. Set it as your computer’s background or just hang it near your workspace. Even if you don’t know how to turn thawing ice into a million bucks, you’ll find your own treasures along the way.

PS. When I first tried posting this story, my site was down. So it first appeared on the Times of Israel. Nothing like sorting our contingency for a story about contingencies.

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h grey NY Marathon: The Lost Opportunity

Can Halacha be Outdated?

4337 Can Halacha be Outdated?

Ready to pray for rain yet?

Living according to halacha sometimes feels like walking through an archaeological dig. Many of our daily actions are motivated by the reality of 2,000, even 3,000 years ago. The first few weeks after Tishrei are a case in point.

With drought being the norm rather than the exception in Israel in the past several years, we need rain ASAP. For parents of little kids, the first few weeks of autumn are the stomach bug season, which will pass miraculously as soon as the first rain drops will hit the ground.

So how come we are not praying for rain? At the time of the Mikdash it would take the pilgrims three week to make it back to Babylon, so now 2,000 years later we are still waiting for the last one of them to get home by the 7th of Cheshvan. Talk about relevant Judaism!

But what does this have to do with me? Why is my life regulated by a millennia-old reality? In our heart of hearts, we ask this question very often.


h grey Can Halacha be Outdated?

Breastfeeding: Is it Right for Everyone?

Yesterday, a friend shared her breastfeeding troubles with me. Each feeding took close to an hour and by the end she felt physically and emotionally drained. Her housekeeping was slipping, because she didn’t have enough time or energy to get going. And worst of all, she resented seeing the baby’s needs overshadowing those of other family members.

The conversation took me back to my first brush with bottle-feeding mothers just a day after the birth of my first child. A woman in her thirties was bottle-feeding her child in the maternity ward, so with all the insolence that only a greenhorn twenty-year old can muster, I asked her how come she wasn’t breastfeeding. “I have three kids at home,” she answered. “There is no way they will let me nurse.” That argument made absolutely no sense in my mind, but then again what did I know about having a large family.


h grey Breastfeeding: Is it Right for Everyone?

The Personal G-d of Elisheva

Earlier today, we visited a friend, who is in desperate need of a lung transplant, which she is not likely to receive. If that was not enough, she spends most of her days travelling to and from the hospital for 4-hour dialysis sessions. At other times, she is mostly confined to her armchair. Needless to say, the health challenges create a host of emotional and financial problems for the entire family.

After getting home, I came across a list of a reader’s questions, posted by a fellow blogger:

  • “Is there a personal G-d?
  • Why pray to G-d if he has already established a plan for us?
  • Does G-d intervene? If we have free will, then he shouldn’t. So, why do we pray for G-d to intervene for our benefit?
  • Why are so many others struggling while I praise God for choosing to bless me? What makes me so special? (more…)
h grey The Personal G d of Elisheva

How Can Yom Kippur Turn Sins into Merits?

 How Can Yom Kippur Turn Sins into Merits?

Jacob's Ladder

For years, with Yom Kippur approaching, I’ve been mystified by the Chazal’s statement that whenever a person repents out of love of G-d, his intentional sins (zdonot) turn into merits or good deeds (zchuyot). What kind of Divine hocus pocus can turn stolen money into charity or non-kosher cheeseburgers into kosher sandwiches? What does this mean for us?

This week I got my answer. Rav Dessler in Michtav Meeliyahu writes that each person is brought into the world on a different rung of a spiritual ladder. It doesn’t matter where on the ladder you are situated. All that matters is that you make a concerted effort to move upwards.


h grey How Can Yom Kippur Turn Sins into Merits?

Repenting Low Self-esteem on Tisha Be’av

New ideas about Tisha Be’av are rare. The talk of sinat chinam and loving our fellow man as the sure path to geula has become pretty trite. So I was surprised when the Rav of the shul we’ve been davening at here in New Jersey managed to come up with a novel approach.

Recaping the events of  cheit hamiraglim on that very first tragic Tisha Be’av in Parshat Devarim,  Moshe quotes the nation as saying, ” and you said, since G-d hates us, he took us out of Egypt to give us into the hands of the Emori to kill us off.”  (Dvarim 1:27). After all the miracles of Yitziat Mitzraim, the splitting of the Red Sea, and the giving of the Torah, why in the world would the Jews believe that G-d hated them?

Sforno comments that since the Jews worshiped idols in Egypt, they were certain that they were worthy of punishment and that Exodus was G-d’s elaborate plan to destroy them. Jews believed that although G-d had the power to bring them into the Land of Israel He would take revenge by delivering them into the hands of the Emori.

This casts the entire story of the meraglim in a new light. The root of the Jews’ sin was not lack of faith in G-d, but lack of faith in themselves.  No matter how many miracles G-d heaped on them, they couldn’t let go of their low self-esteem.

This beautiful insight can explain all the troubles in the desert. When a person feels worthy of something, he just asks. But since the Jews felt they weren’t deserving of anything because of their previous sins, instead of asking for water, or food, or whatever, they would start complaining.

Apparently, the sin of low self-esteem continued to plague us throughout the ages.  Had the Jews valued and believed in themselves, they wouldn’t have gotten involved in the bloodshed and licentiousness of the First Temple era. And during the Second Temple, lack of self-love undermined the ability to love one’s fellow man, since the Torah establishes self-love as a prerequisite for loving one’s fellow man (Love your neighbor as yourself).

Unfortunately, we still haven’t developed enough self-esteem to bring the geula. As a nation, Israeli constantly looks over its shoulder to make sure it has the nations’ approval. Even in times of war, we are not confident enough in ourselves to exercise the right of self-defense without worrying to much about the opinion of our detractors.

On a more personal level, although our generation is preoccupied with love, many of us have been brought up on conditional love. The behavioral psychology techniques used in schools and homes cause us to think that we are good and worthy only if we do as we are told. The society keeps telling us that to be worthy you have to have a prestigious job, live in a spacious home, and drive a fancy car.  Of course nobody tells us that  attaining all these status symbols doesn’t do a thing for our self-esteem.

If concentrating on loving others hasn’t helped us bring the geula, may be this Tisha Be’av we can refocus by first loving ourselves. If G-d had enough faith in us to put us on this earth, we can certainly trust Him on this one and believe in ourselves. Unconditionally. That should bring us one step closer to seeing the good in others and the world in general.

I have found Rav Pliskin’s Building Your Self-image and the Self-image of Others to be a great tool in working on my self-esteem. Each short chapter presents a different  tool for developing one’s self-esteem. Some tools are as easy as telling oneself affirmative messages for a few seconds each day, or finding special meaning in Shabbos and holidays. Rav Pliskin presents enough ideas, so everyone to find something that resonates.

have you ever tried working on your self-esteem? What worked for you?


Digging Galus in New Jersey

For years I couldn’t understand why American Jews have such a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of aliyah. Now i finally got it.

Walking down the tree-lined streets of a typical New Jersey suburb on shabbos, with it’s spacious houses and manicured lawns, everything seemed just perfect. And the next moment I got an insight into the “three weeks”. Spending my summer in New Jersey, instead of at home, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, can do this to you.


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