11 Tamuz: Tonight and tomorrow is my father’s 11th Yahrzeit.
My father’s will states:
Upon donations made with my money the following shall be stated:
“This is a donation from the late Mr. Israel J. Morgenstern, who was continuously hungry since September 1, 1939, when Hitler and his German army with his German Luftwaffe (air power) attacked Poland, until May 7, 1945, when he was liberated from Dachau Concentration Camp by the American Army”
My father’s Posek is Auschwitz, Dachau and going hungry for 5 days.
In 1994, when I visited my father in Los Angles, we walked by a homeless man. I grimaced and my father said that in America, the wealthiest country in the world, it is a shame that we cannot house and feed everyone.
Heaven forbid we should be in need of food and livelihood.
Synagogues from time immemorial were always places of refuge. A Jew could always find comfort, food, and friendship. In 1982 at Kesser Israel in Georgetown, D.C., I was very impressed when, after Shabbos Morning Prayer services, they announced that anyone who needing a place for Shabbos lunch see the Gabbai.
About 5 years ago, I noticed a sign in a Synagogue on Pico Boulevard in LA that people collecting money cannot collect during services. I was outraged. Who are these people to limit when a Jew needing money can collect? Be hungry for 5 days and then tell a person that he cannot collect during prayer services. A Synagogue is a place of Chesed, not a place where we put restrictions on a Jew who needs money, needs food, and needs sustenance. Do the members believe that their prayers are so holy that they cannot be bothered during davening for charity? I was so angry that I called their national headquarters in New York and gave the Rabbi in charge of member services an earful. He assured me that the Synagogue in question is charitable. Not a good answer. A few years later I saw a similar sign in Chicago. I found the right person and a few years later the sign was taken down. I just heard of another Synagogue in Chicago banning collecting money during services.
Two other incidents bothered me. When my nephew wants to irritate me, he has me look at a web site that claims to promote Cheriedai values; however, you can always rely on that website for anti-Zionist views, anti Achdus opinions, and self-righteousness.
Two years ago the web site had a video of a question that two “kids” from Lakewood posed to Rabbi Eliyashuv TZL, a question I considered a question of Eisav Harashah. These two kids are in charge of giving out certificates that allow a person to collect money. They asked can they put in a restriction in the certificates, that money cannot be collected during Krias Shma (reciting of the Shma prayers). I was appalled and thought, what is it their business when people can collect money. Their only job is to make sure the person needing money is worthy. If someone does not want to give during Shma, he can ignore the person, or do what I do, have money ready. These two “kids” had a look and sound of stupidity or as my sister says to me when she feels I am being foolish, “Narashah Lachin”.
These two kids brought down the esteem of Reb Eliyashuv TZL. The web site thought that the video showed the greatness of Rabbi Eliyashuv, when it actually showed him in a poor light. I e-mailed the editors of the web site and had a debate with them. After a series of e-mails they responded to me, we have our Posek, you ask your Posek. My Posek is Auschwitz, Dachau and going hungry for 5 days. The shame is that Lakewood is a city full of Tzedakah.
About two months ago I saw a incident that continues to bother me. A Rabbi from Israel was a guest at this Synagogue for Shabbos in one of its members’ home. He was collecting for his institution in Israel. He was an elderly Jew and had the look of an important Rabbi. Sunday morning this Rabbi was in the Synagogue looking for someone. A Synagogue official went to him and told him to leave the Synagogue, as per the Board of Directors. To my shame and others around me, no one said anything, no one defended this Rabbi. This Rabbi went over to the Gabbai and said, you have acted as they did in Sodom, meaning you have exhibited unnecessary cruelty. I did not know what to do. I went to a Board member and told him about the incident. Here you have a beautiful Synagogue that is full of Torah being soiled by pettiness and Midas Sodom. I am embarrassed to admit that I said nothing, I froze.
In honor of my father’s Yarhzeit as Jews we have to be kind to one another and that
Our Posek is Auschwitz, Dachau and going hungry for 5 days.