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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
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 May 10, 2006 / 12 Iyar, 5766

My parents deserve how I — and my children — turned out

By Jonathan Rosenblum


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A few thoughts about role models


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As a little boy, my father was my hero. When he was around, I knew nothing bad could befall me.


Rarer, perhaps, my father remained my hero even after I had reached adulthood and become a ba'al teshuva, embracing a religiously observant lifestyle.


I always told my parents that they have no one to blame but themselves for the fact that four out of their five sons became ba'alei teshuva. And they acknowledged their guilt with good cheer. My mother always told us that the most important about us was that we were Jewish. And it was natural that her sons would, at some point, come to Israel to find out what being Jewish means.


My father's contribution was different. He exemplified many of the middos (character traits) that the Torah [Bible] stresses. When my brothers and I became ba'alei teshuva, we were not entering a strange new world, but rather discovering an entire society based on the values that my parents had stressed. I knew that I could never be as good a person as my father without some external discipline. Torah was that discipline.


Unlike most parents of ba'alei teshuva, it never occurred to him that his sons would estrange him from them. "I think I raised my sons well, and I have to rely on the decisions that they make," he said.

Mom and Dad's greatest strength as parents was teaching us that there is right and wrong, and that those terms were not determined by what other children were allowed to do.

At the same time, Dad made sure that we did not become too filled with our own righteousness. My senior year in high school, I organized a house-to-house collection campaign for Biafra. One Sunday, I returned home and mentioned to my Dad that I had been late to my class at Hebrew High School. Without lifting his face from the waffle iron, he said, "You're such a big humanitarian, but you can't show someone the common courtesy to arrive on time for his class."

I ran out of the house furious at my father for the first time in my life — furious because I felt so completely exposed.


There was no one with whom I more enjoyed talking.


As a teenager, I knew that if I waited in the living room, in the middle of the night, that my father would eventually appear, and I could sit with him in the dark discussing any and every subject under the sun. When my oldest son was still a toddler, Dad and I lay in my sukkah, under the stars, talking late into the night, as we had so many years earlier. It is one of my most treasured memories.


When he drove me to the airport every time that I traveled abroad, the forty minute drive, with no outside distractions, always seemed too short.


Machlokes (conflict) was anathema to my father, and none more so than family machlokes. He believed that there was usually a win-win solution to any conflict if the parties are just prepared to compromise a bit. His natural inclination was to say yes to any request, and then figure out how to make it possible. When my brothers and I would fight over who was going to have the family car, he would discuss with each of us when and why we needed the car, and usually came up with a solution that satisfied everyone.


Compromise came easily to Dad because he held so little of himself. He never factored in his own time and energy when fashioning solutions to problems.


All forms of self-absorption were foreign to him. He never complained, despite having gone through many operations and medical procedures in the last 15 years. When he mentioned to his physician older brother his prolonged hiccupping after the Seder, his brother knew to be concerned.


Because his own ego was small, he was able to encompass many others within his "I." He drew others to him, particularly in his later years, when he had shed the shyness of being a portly child. On the first day of shiva, the week-long period of mourning, a fifteen-year-old girl, who lives in my parents' building, came into the house sobbing. I asked my mother why she was crying like that. She answered, "Your father knew how to talk to everyone like they were important."


He made every relationship personal. His computer expert, his moneychanger, and the man who took care of his apartment were all friends, despite being decades younger. He attended their simchas lifecycle events, and they knew that they would not escape a visit without providing him with a full update on their families.



Family meant everything to my father. We were surely one of the few families in our upper middle-class suburb that sat down to a family dinner, at a set table, every night. A television never entered our dining room or living room. In Highland Park, Illinois that represented kedushas HaBayis (sanctity of the home).

In his last eight years in Eretz Yisrael (the Holy Land), Dad realized his lifelong dream of being surrounded by all (or almost all) of his children and grandchildren — almost forty in all. And he found his true calling: grandparent. I learned from him and my mother how much difference grandparents can make in their grandchildren's lives.

They were constantly chauffeuring grandchildren to supplemental lessons of one kind or another. Dad once baked a surprise birthday cake for a grandson, drove it up to the Golan, and then returned home. He taught various grandsons to swim, and his home was a place of refuge for grandchildren who needed a little space or a dose of unconditional love. When a grandson was born with Downs Syndrome, his natural response was, "Well, I guess I'll have to learn Hebrew so I can speak to him."

He loved nothing better than seeing his offspring gathered together, and when there were no family simchas on the agenda, he would manufacture occasions to gather the family. As he surveyed his grandchildren, his would kvell, "You can't tell which cousin belongs to which parent; they are so close."

Dad was buried on his 78th Hebrew birthday, a fact we learned from the extensive birthday list to which he was constantly adding. He left no strings untied. Typically, his last instruction to my wife — an hour before his petirah (passing) — was to be sure to pay the surgeon right after Shabbes (Sabbath).

He knew how much we loved him, and we knew how much he loved us. Just the day before he passed away, I told him, "Dad, I'm almost 55, and I still need you so much."

In his last Email, my father listed the family bar mitzvahs through 2010. "Some of us do not buy green bananas," he added, "but one can hope."

He will not be there, but we will have his memory to guide us.


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JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is Israeli director of Am Echad. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2006, Jonathan Rosenblum