It was very close to Shabbos when my daughter informed me of the sudden passing of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, the Gadol HaDor. I was stunned. True, Rav Chaim was coming along in years, but his passing was unexpected. Many in Yerushalayim were in the midst of their Purim s’udos when the news began to circulate. The loudspeaker in Ramat Beit Shemesh, which normally plays uplifting music just prior to Shabbos, played sad music in light of the news. It happened so quickly that some hadn’t even heard the news until they came to shul on Friday night.

After entertaining the idea for many months, my husband, daughter, and I traveled to the kever of Rav Yeshaya Steiner, the legendary Reb Shaya’le of Kerestir, located in northeastern Hungary, near the border with Slovakia and Ukraine.  I have to admit that the war in Ukraine did give us pause, but we thought about Israelis who hear that we are from New York and ask if we know their relatives in LA because both are located in the US.  Hungary borders Ukraine but we figured that it is still quite a distance from the fighting.  We overcame our reservations and kept our reservations. 

Yesterday, my husband, daughter, and I went on a spontaneous trip up north to visit kivrei tzadikim (graves of the righteous).  We had talked about this possibility last week, but it wasn’t until we saw the sun shining and felt the cool breeze of early spring that we decided to grab a picnic lunch and hit the road.  For the first time, we skipped Meron and headed straight to Teveria.  It was such a pleasure taking this trip off-season.  Wherever we went, there was room to breathe, walk, sit, and even park the car.  We felt we were experiencing miracles even before we had started to daven.  As we drove from one destination to the next, we were able to take in the picturesque scenery and breathe the fresh air.

Although the new shopping carts in town don’t have a cupholder in which to place a cup of coffee made at the lavish coffee bar that also does not yet exist, shopping around here has become a much more pleasant and quick experience.  You just have to know what you’re doing.  Which I clearly do.  Follow me.

I am the family historian.  Since very little information was shared with my generation about our family history prior to the family’s arrival in New York, I seek out information from anywhere I can find it.  Every tiny piece of information I find is a treasured piece of the puzzle of my family history.

Some people are just not like others.  When faced with adversity, they appear to acquire superhuman powers.  When I heard about the passing of Esther Pollard, the remarkable woman who devotedly rallied for the sake of her husband for nearly thirty years, I thought about the incredible emunah and strength she exhibited throughout her ordeal.  It also brought to mind others who throughout their own trying circumstances did the same.  These are people who set a goal and will do absolutely whatever it takes in order to achieve that goal.  They will travel as far from their comfort zones as is imaginable and then travel even further out, and they persevere despite the many roadblocks placed in their paths leading to one setback after another.