I was very young, but I have a clear memory of arriving with my mother a”h at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills on Yom Kippur morning in 1973 and being told by the guard that war had broken out in Israel. I did not fully understand the implications of the news, but based on my mother’s reaction, I knew it wasn’t good. Fifty years later, I had a déjà vu experience when I arrived at shul on Simchas Torah morning. This time I understood the implications more than I would have liked.

As I walk through the streets of my neighborhood, I hear the sounds of stirring music and soulful singing coming from the windows of shuls and private homes. Thousands of Jews descend upon the Kosel and join together to say S’lichos.

As much as I love writing, my profession is social work. I recently started a new position in that field. While my previous jobs were local, I now commute to Yerushalayim three times a week. The 7 a.m. bus is usually smooth sailing. But last week, when I traveled in the afternoon, there was total gridlock at the entrance to the city. It took almost half an hour to get from the entrance to Binyanei Ha’uma (a distance that should take two minutes).

Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand and the second largest city in the country. It is located 700 km (435 miles) north of Bangkok in a mountainous region called the Thai highlands. Last year, the Friedmans,* a couple with whom my husband and I are acquainted, spent a memorable Rosh HaShanah at the Chabad House in Chiang Mai on their way back to Israel from a visit to Australia. Their experience in Chiang Mai far exceeded their expectations.

Niney-three million miles. That’s the distance between planet Earth and the sun. This fact is on my list of things to thank Hashem for on these sweltering days of summer. I shudder to think what would happen if the Earth moved just half a mile closer to the sun, placing us just 92,999,999.5 miles away. One thing is certain: Oven companies would be out of business as they would be rendered obsolete relics of the world as it existed before climate change. People would be able to cook anywhere and everywhere in the great outdoors, posing a challenge to keeping milk and meat separate. Members of the new generation seeing old-fashioned ovens on display in museums would wonder why there was ever a need to put a second oven inside an existing one. It would be similar to placing an aquarium inside the ocean. Superfluous. We are so lucky that our planet is positioned where it is. It’s not that hot. We just melt a bit here and there. This is what I keep telling myself during our current global broken weather situation that has led to record-breaking temperatures worldwide.

I was (and still am) a huge fan of The London School of Jewish Song, also known as the London Pirchei. When I happily attended their concerts as a kid, I would prop myself up as high as I could on my seat so I could get an unobstructed view of the choreography, the hand motions, and Yigal Calek, the choirmaster, flitting back and forth across the stage. Public service announcement for any fellow London Pirchei fans out there: You can watch their recent London Pirchei reunions on YouTube.