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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 24, 2011 / 19 Shevat, 5771

Haiti Teaches Us Lessons in Life

By Mitch Albom






http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- For 12 months, they have slept on dirt and rocks. For 12 months, their nighttime companions have been mosquitoes, field mice and large rats that brushed their legs in the darkness. For 12 months, there was no going indoors, not for sleeping, because the outdoors may be dark and full of creatures, but the indoors was haunted.

"We are afraid," they would tell you. "Maybe it happens again."

It is not happening again. Not on this night. On this night, one year after the horrific earthquake that altered Haiti forever -- it seemed to banish an entire county to life in the mud -- a group of children line a hallway. Their goal is to break a tragic habit. The dormitory, thanks to tireless volunteers, has been freshly tiled, brightly painted, its ceilings hung with lights and ceiling fans.

But most significantly -- there are beds. Dozens of them. Brand new bunk beds made of freshly cut wood. The kids, many of them orphans, others abandoned by parents who could not afford their care, stand in the hallway biting their fingers or leaning innocently into the crook of each other's bodies.

For 12 months, fear has owned their nights.

Tonight, they get their nights back.

"Are you ready?" we ask.

They nod silently.

How do you know you are in Haiti? You're working in the city. You are carrying something -- a bed, a plank of wood, a huge bucket of well water. A rooster cuts in front of you, and you just step over it. You don't stop and say, "Wait. That was just a rooster I almost squashed in the middle of a city." You step over and move on.

That's how you know you are in Haiti. When the odd becomes normal and the normal becomes odd. When famished dogs tiptoe through the streets like cats. When songs of prayer are heard above distant gunfire. When children sleep outside in the dirt, while their dormitory sits empty.

And when two dozen volunteers from greater Detroit come to a tiny corner of this destroyed city and promise to fix it up -- even though they are not from this country, have no family here, couldn't find it on a map a year ago.

That's when you know you are in Haiti.

Again.

"Power's out!" someone yells. Drills die. Fans slow. Bodies slump. Heads shake. The electricity, for no reason -- because there is never a reason -- has been shut off from the city. Within minutes, a generator is launched. It rumbles like a jet engine.

"Power's up!" someone yells. Heads lift. Drills commence. Fans spin.

This is the third big trip for the ensemble known as The Detroit Muscle Crew, a collection of roofers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, masons, painters and other volunteers who heard about this orphanage in Haiti and were moved to come down to help.

In previous visits, they built the first running toilets, the first showers and the first kitchen the orphanage had ever seen. This trip will see them nearly complete a three-room schoolhouse, on the grounds, so that education will never again be interrupted the way it has been for most of the past year.

But this trip, this anniversary visit, is not about new structures.

It is about new lives.

A first.

"Breathe like this," the nurse says. The little girl inhales and exhales. Her vital signs are being checked, her height and weight recorded, her skin and scalp examined for disease.

This is the first medical check-up ever for 6-year-old Esterline, a bundle of toothy adorableness. Like many other kids here, she is small for her age, and like most of them, she is malnourished. Two meals a day, always the same -- rice and beans -- will do that to you.

But this time, four medical types -- three nurse practitioners, one nutritionist -- have come to change that. Because enough is enough. You can't just go on year after year oblivious to your health. We don't. And the mantra is, "If we don't, why do they have to?"

One little boy, Marcus, is about to celebrate his third birthday. Every trip we have seen him, his nose and lips have been covered with mucus. Now, after his first examination, a simple determination is made.

"Allergies," says Dr. Val Gokenbach, who heads the medical team.

One pill.

Twenty minutes later, his lips and nose are dry.

His mother looks on in amazement, then hugs the visitors as if she'd just witnessed a miracle.

Last Jan. 12, the earth shook in Haiti. One year later, the dead remain uncounted. Was it 200,000 or 320,000? No one knows. There is no measuring the wounded, the crippled or the homeless -- only an estimate somewhere shy of 2 million people. How many babies without mothers, fathers or siblings? No data.

It's as if one year later, a trembled earth is still trembling. The hastily constructed "tent cities" in Port-Au-Prince have become permanent housing. The blue tarpaulin coverings -- a symbol of emergency shelter one year ago -- are as common now as red tile roofs in Florence.

Help has come in countless trucks and tents, but money also has been wasted. Resources diverted. Aid has been politicized. There is no doubt of this. Charges of corruption are rampant. Political turmoil, a Haitian constant, is worse in the current prolonged election cycle, and piles of burning tires and random gunshots make the streets scary and the mood edgy.

I have often said you can't save this country, but you can save a piece of it. The piece we have chosen is this little mission, on a few dusty acres in the Delmas 33 section of the city. Originally called The Caring and Sharing Mission, its founder, Detroit Pastor John Hearn Sr., 84, recognized last year that the need and finances were swelling beyond control. After several months of discussion, he turned the operation over to a charitable foundation that I run, the name of the place was changed to The Have Faith Haiti Mission, and we dug in.

We are still digging.

Have faith.

Another first.

Lunch.

At precisely noon on a sun-beaten Wednesday, a horn is sounded, and the mission kids, many barefoot, sit down on the kitchen floor, confused as to why they have been assembled. We have prepared platters of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cups of orange juice, and some trail mix.

"From now on, you're going to eat three meals a day, OK?" they are told. The words are translated into Creole, and you can see them fall like raindrops on their faces. Some blink. Others fidget.

Three times a day?

"Never do we have something like this," says Alain Charles, one of the mission's directors. Like his nighttime counterpart, Yonell Ismael, Alain grew up at the mission, and now he works here, giving to the little ones what he was once given himself, Except he never got a PB&J sandwich.

"I think they like them," he says. We watch the kids tear into the sandwiches, chomping on the sticky ingredients. They are all smiles, reveling in this sudden surprise meal.

I try to think about my first lunch. I have no idea when it was. I can only remember expecting it, not being surprised by it.

That distinction is also how you know you are in Haiti.

The sun darts through clouds. Slightly past 4:30 in the afternoon, the entire mission gathers in a small makeshift chapel -- which also doubles as a classroom. Everyone drifts in, not just the kids, but the cook, the laundress, the teacher, all the volunteers. No one need make an announcement. You can almost hear the country coming to a halt.

At 4:53 p.m., it is silent. This is the exact moment the earth opened in Haiti one year ago, and poles fell and buildings collapsed from one end of the country to the other, crushing those inside, taking young and old without distinction.

Inside the chapel, the Have Faith Haiti Mission is gathered in a circle, everyone holding hands. Prayers are sung. Stories are recounted. Yonell remembers where he was, how he ran. Others recall jumping from windows, or dashing through doorways moments before the structures came down, or hearing screams, or seeing blood, or being enveloped in choking clouds of dust that rolled and grew as the city turned to rubble.

"We must give thanks to G0d that we are alive, that G0d saved us," Yonell says, launching into a song of gratitude.

And I, I'm desperate for You

And I, I'm lost without You

Oh, Lord, I'm lost without You

And herein lies the small miracle of the Haitian people. That no matter how awful the tragedy, they lift themselves up, take stock of their survival, then speak to the Lord not in scolding tones for what did happen, but in grateful tones for what did not.

Another first.

The sun is setting, and the children are gathered outside a freshly painted dining room. Inside the dining room, something new: tables and chairs.

For as long as most of them can remember, the kids have eaten by grabbing a bowl of rice and beans and finding a corner of the ground to sit in, maybe leaning against a wall.

We are introducing the concept of "the dinner table." Once again, it needs to be explained.

"Families sit around a table, they eat together, give thanks for their food together, and talk together, right?" comes the message.

The kids look up blankly. How would they know?

"Well, that's what we're going to do tonight."

With a small fanfare, the kids are escorted into the dining room and they scramble into the chairs. Bowls of a chicken dish are brought to them (part of the new healthy eating program introduced with the help of first-time visitor Emily Schwartz, a nutritionist). A prayer is offered. And then the happy instruction:

"OK, let's eat!"

The children spoon the food. The chew carefully. But they are quiet. Too quiet. They look across the table. They swallow and proceed eating in near silence.

"What's going on?" I whisper to one of the staff.

And I am told an answer: That these kids don't ever sit in chairs or at a table unless its school or church. And so they are acting as they would in those places. Reverential.

At a dinner table.

Their first dinner table.

And once again, Haiti gives you an education.

Last month, Michiganders contributed more than $80,000 between Thanksgiving and Christmas to operate the Have Faith Haiti Mission for one year. Such generosity, in a state hampered by unemployment and a bad economy, was, for me anyhow, enough to bring tears.

So was the donation of a truck by two men, Joe Andronaco Sr. and Jr., and so was the use of a private plane to transport Muscle Crew workers and their equipment by the endlessly charitable Roger Penske and his Penske Jet staff.

But if there was one moment of this trip (the likes of which we hope to repeat four times a year: spring, summer, fall and winter), one moment that truly shook you, made you nearly fall to your knees, it was where this story began, in the dorms, outside the bedrooms, on the anniversary of the quake, where the kids were waiting and watching nervously.

"All right, come on!"

And in they ran, to their old rooms with the new beds, gingerly at first, then faster, then squealing, screaming, then jumping into the mattresses, the low ones, the high ones. They sprawled. They flipped. They mocked sleep. They popped up. They crawled to the high beds, they dove into the low ones.

And they began to sing. Yes. Sing. And dance. I don't know the song. I don't know the movement. If nature gave it a title, it would be "joy."

Unbridled. Unconcerned. Unembarrassed.

Joy.

And to see that spring back to life, one year after it had been seemingly crushed forever, was a moment not to miss. For those of you who helped make it possible in this little corner of Haiti, "thanks" is too small a word. All I can say is when the moon came out, and the roosters went to hide, and a coolness settled over this hot country, dozens of children were finally, blissfully, back where they belonged, in their beds, sleeping, perhaps dreaming of a better day. Or at the very least, of the wonders of the day that had just passed.



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