Archive for May 16th, 2008

“LET ALL THOSE WHO ARE HUNGRY, COME AND EAT” by Fern Sidman

Friday, May 16th, 2008

The holiday of Passover has traditionally been one associated with a time in which families come together from near and far to fulfill the mitzvah of Seder night and recall our exodus from Egypt. While we sit at our Seder tables, we know that we join with all of Klall Yisroel in praising the miracles that Hashem did for us as we teach our children the timeless lessons of our heritage. For many Jews without families and community support, Passover can be a very lonely and disheartening experience. Moreover, due to the high cost of kosher for Passover food, many poverty stricken Jews find that procuring alimentation can be a tremendous financial stress as well.

For over four decades, Rabbi Chaim Prussman of Brooklyn’s Beth Shifra organization has been answering the call of the Haggadah, “let all those who are hungry come and eat”. Rabbi Prussman, along with a host of magnanimous volunteers have organized free Passover seders in several locations in the New York City area for Jews who are bereft of family to share the holiday with or lack the financial resources to buy kosher for Passover food. In addition to the free Sedorim, Rabbi Prussman provides free meals throughout the eight days of Passover, along with plenteous nourishment for the soul; as evidenced in the daily shiurim given by many prominent rabbis. This past year was no exception, as thousands of Jews flocked to the site of Georgie’s Wig Company on 16th Avenue and 45th Street in Boro Park to partake of the spiritually uplifting Sedorim.

“Several days before Pesach, close to 1000 people lined up to receive free Passover food,” said Rabbi Chaim Prussman. “It would appear that the economic downturn has affected many more people than we originally thought”, Prussman ruefully observed. He added that, “Singles and families were in desperate need of food and went home with a complete supply of shmurah matzos, wine, grape juice, gefilte fish, chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions, cooking oil and assorted Passover cookies and cakes”.

The first Seder night drew a record number of people as over 200 Jews sat together at the ornately decorated tables, chanting the words of the Haggadah under the leadership of Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer (Steven) Gershbein. Along with Rabbi Gershbein, the assemblage enjoyed the Divrei Torah of Rabbi Alexander Guth, a Lelover Chassid who is the educational coordinator of the Beth Shifra programs. Rabbi Guth is also the assistant to the vice president of J&R Music World. Said Rabbi Gershbein, “Our sages of blessed memory tell us that it is a great mitzvah to stay up all night speaking of our liberation from Mitzrayim. I must say that was indeed the case at the Beth Shifra sedorim. The first night we stayed up until 5:00 a.m. discussing the salient points of the Haggadah and the second night we stayed up until 7:00 a.m. The ruach was incredible as we had a Pesach sing-a-long at the end of the Sedorim. The olam enjoyed it so much they really didn’t want to leave.”

The second seder night drew a large crowd as well and as Rabbi Gershbein recalls, “We thank Hashem that we had very special rabbanim with us. I am honored to have conducted the seder along with Rabbi Ben Shmuel Yosef who also played a major role in the coordination of our educational programs.”

Subsequent to the Passover sedorim, many old and new faces returned for meals served three times a day during Chol HaMoed and the festive meals of the last days of Yom Tov. With great pleasure, Rabbi Prussman said, “Throughout the eight days of Passover we served over 2500 meals and those attending our meals reached new heights in ruchnius through our different Torah classes conducted on all levels. I cannot begin to thank Hashem Yisborach enough for allowing me to organize this program once again and I must thank all of our volunteers and rabbis. Their assistance was invaluable and I especially wish to thank Frank Vasile of Brooklyn’s Best Inspections Home Inspections, Inc for his tireless devotion and non-stop work for eight full days.”

Beth Shifra also sponsored Passover sedorim in Flatbush, Brighton Beach and Canarsie that saw a packed house at each location. During the year, Beth Shifra sponsors a variety of programs including the distribution of Shabbos meals to those in need as well as organizing free Chanukah and Purim parties. Rabbi Prussman also spends his time assisting Russian Jewish immigrants and ensuring that their children receive a quality yeshiva education.

One woman who chose not to identify herself said, “I really don’t know what I would do on Passover without the help of Rabbi Prussman of Beth Shifra. I am a widow, getting on in years and my only real family meets here every year on Passover. I truly believe that in every generation there are great tzaddikim whose acts of kindness penetrate the Heavens and Rabbi Chaim Prussman is one of them. In the zechus of his good deeds, may all of Klall Yisroel merit to see the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.”

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Fern Sidman holds a B.A, in political science from Brooklyn College. She was the educational coordinator for the Betar Youth Movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was national director of the Jewish Defense League from 1983-1985. She was a researcher for several books written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK”L. She was the managing editor of the publication entitled, The Voice of Judea, and is a regular contributor to its web site. She is currently a writer and journalist living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in The Jewish Press, The Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and numerous Jewish and general web sites including, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Pipes and Michael Freund.
We are delighted to have Ms. Sidman as a regular contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.

Mexican Immigrants Do Not Assimilate Quickly in U.S., Study Finds

Friday, May 16th, 2008

(CNSNews.com) – Immigrants to the United States are doing a good job of assimilating, with immigrants from Cuba, Vietnam, and the Philippines leading the way in Americanizing, according to a new study. But the one group not assimilating well is Mexicans, and this is apparently because so many are in the country illegally.

Excluding Mexican immigrants, the assimilation picture of the 21st century looks better than some might think, as the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank in New York City, documented in its report, Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States , released Tuesday.

Study author Jacob Vigdor of Duke University points out that there is no question that today’s immigrants are dissimilar from the native-born population when they first arrive.

“If you look at assimilation as a snapshot, and take the immigrant population in its totality, it is less similar to the native-born population than at basically any point in the 20th century,” Vigdor told Cybercast News Service .

But the reality is, immigrants in the 21st century are doing a better job of assimilating into American society than did the generation of immigrants that arrived at Ellis Island a century ago, he said.

“If you look at assimilation as a kind of moving picture – as a process that takes time as immigrants get used to living here and climb the economic ladder and so forth — there is actually some encouraging news,” said Vigdor.

The study used census data from 1890 to 2006 to look at how close foreign-born immigrants look to the native-born population.

Original Link.

California Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Homosexual ‘Marriage’

Friday, May 16th, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO – The California Supreme Court has overturned a ban on same-sex “marriage,” paving the way for California to become the second state where homosexual residents can marry.

The city of San Francisco, two dozen gay and lesbian couples and gay rights groups sued in March 2004 after the court halted the monthlong wedding march that took place when Mayor Gavin Newsom opened the doors of City Hall to same-sex marriages.

“Today the California Supreme Court took a giant leap to ensure that everybody – not just in the state of California, but throughout the country – will have equal treatment under the law,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who argued the case for San Francisco.

Original Link.