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Anita Silverman Hirsch Z"l

Mitzva gorreret mitzva

Mitzva gorreret mitzvah. Avera gorreret avera.…One good deed engenders another; one bad deed brings on another…

The title of my piece is a mishna that Jews have pondered over the ages. This last week it came to life for me.

Last year Rabbi Aigen of Dorshei Emet approached me to do a four session class for the synagogue based on the videos that I have been generating called "New Jewish Voices". He was aware that I have been videotaping educational events here in Montreal, and elsewhere. Yes, I have developed an archive, however having an archive and teaching a class are two different things: Teaching is a new venture for me and many of the videos had not been edited. How was I going to do all this?

Nevertheless they encouraged me to accept and being a sport, I did.
Last week, we had the first session, and although we had only four people registered, preparing for the class gave me a wonderful opportunity to finally complete something I had wanted to do for two years, to edit the footage I had of Rabbi Lew speaking at Stanford Hillel about Zen Buddhism and Rabbinic Judaism and what they have to tell us about the how to deal with suffering in the world.

However there are three more classes to go.

Well, out of the blue, my friend, Perla Serfaty, invited me to spend a week with her Northern Quebec. I knew that, she was looking for someone to share the time and space while she worked on her book. She asked me if I had anything to do that would similarly occupy me while she wrote. Boy did I! I dropped everything and joined her for a week from Friday to Friday. We did have two breaks: Sunday we returned to the city, she for a personal celebration, and I to take care of a few things: Monday afternoon we were back in the country without cell phone or internet access, and only expensive long distance land line connections i.e. limited... A heavenly oasis for concentrated work. On Wednesday, my friend was to meet a professional colleague from Belgium in Trois Rivieres and I accompanied her on that outing. (Checked my e-mails on the i-phone and made some calls on my cell phone)

In between I reviewed and edited my videos and I now have it "in the can" as they say in film parlance. Here is the line-up of the edited pieces.

1. Dr. Shera Tuchman, a working physician, who has also been
teaching a parsha (weekly bible portion)class for twenty years at her synagogue in Manhattan, and has published two books based on her teaching, "The Women of Braishit " and "The Women of Shemot" and more are on the way, is interviewed in her own home. When asked how this happened, she talks blithely about reading Sartre and More Nevuchim - Maimonides' "Guide for the Perplexed" - at the same time when she started college.

2. A second video of Raba Mimi Feigelson, probably the first Jewish Orthodox functioning Rabbi. (She was ordained in secret by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, z"l of blessed memory and shares about this in the class which she teaches on finding your personal covenantal texts. She also plays the ukelele.

3. Dr. Michelle Friedman, a working psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, She has been hired to teach Rabbis-in-training to sensitize them to the dilemmas they will be encountering and she uses their own rabbinic and biblical sources to do so.

4. I was fortunate to catch Tova Mirvis, the novelist, sharing about her Columbia writing classes. She writes about her background growing up Jewish and Orthodox in Memphis and is candid and under thiry.

5. I also happened to catch Judy Klitzner, an attractive and dynamic tanach (bible) teacher and author speaking about her recently published book: "Subversive Sequels in the Bible": In her hands the bible is actually a feminist tract.

6. And the last was a bonus. Rabbi Daniel Sperber speaking about the halachic underpinnings of why Jewish communal leaders may be women, showing how Maimonides himself is outvoted by those rabbis coming both before and after him, and speaking about the "facts on the ground" in contemporary Israel and the diaspora.

Wow, it is 6:30 am. Perla is still sleeping. Shortly, she will wake up and we will pack the car and drive back to Montreal.

PS She is a great cook too. Much to learn and digest…

The next class is scheduled for Thursday, October 28th. lunchtime, 12 - 1:15 at Dorshei Emet in Montreal.
Hope you can join us.

From Generation to Generation...

This morning I received an e-mail via the Aleph Jewish Renewal list

"The soul of Dr. Samuel Miilgram ascended today, beloved father of Rabbi Goldie Miilgram...
Rabbi Goldie Milgram

I wrote her back.

Dear Goldie,

My heart goes out to you at this time.

You have just lost your first and most important teacher.

Last night, here in Montreal, I had the pleasure of hearing Susanna Heschel speak about her late father, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Z"l, who I am sure for you needs no introduction.
She brought him alive through sharing about him and in this way we carry all of our great teachers with us forever.
and by the way here here she is on youtube speaking about biblical scholarship with Bob Scott of the Trinity Institute.

And here are other clips of Rabbi Heschel himself, all on youtube.

And may you, Goldie, have the merit of continuing your own wonderful teaching for many years to come.
Hamakom Yenachem otach betoch shaar avelai Tzion ve Yerushalayim.

Abigail Hirsch


AskAbigail Productions
Shalom Foundation for Healing Communities
Fondation shalom pour la bien être des communautés

The world is a dangerous place...

The world is a dangerous place. One person can still make a difference...

Last week I attended the Abitibi Bowater lecture at Concordia University.
This year they invited Rick Hodes a CNN Hero, who has been a working physician in Ethiopia for twenty two years. He works for a ninety-two year old NGO called The Joint Distribution Committee funded by the Diaspora Jewish community. They have been working in Ethiopia helping Jews and non-Jews. They pay Rick's salary.

Rick has written a book about his work and gave a lecture with slides documenting his work.
I learned some fascinating facts.:
1. There are eighty million people living in Ethiopia.
2. Most of them live on considerably less than a dollar a day.

Rick is doing what he can to treat children with spinal disease and malignant cancer, sometimes by adopting children to put them on his health insurance plan and sending them to the US or India where they can be treated. He now has 17 children living in his house in Adisababa and has treated over 2000 children, many of whom have gone on to be educated and to thrive emotionally, physically and mentally.
I found this video on youtube which is similar to the lecture he gave.
And here is a video of Rick Hodes doing Jewish in his home. Yes he is an orthodox Jew.
He is truly doing the Jewish thing which according to Rabbi Lew is "making every moment sacred."

Knowledge is power.

Below is a description of the current state of affairs in Yemen posted by GLORIA an Israeli research institute.
Comparative Counterinsurgency in Yemen By Jane Novak
Yemen is among the world's most corrupt and least developed nations, factors that explain a long running war in the north and an exploding independence movement in the south. Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Salih deals with legitimate dissent by jailing journalists, shooting protesters, and bombing civilians on a scale that reaches the level of war crimes...

Getting the word out is game changing.

Crude Impact

The other night I watched a documentary on oil and its impact on the African states in which it has been found and exploited called Crude Impact.
Apparently there is greater poverty in those countries like Nigeria where oil has been mined and exported than in those countries that are oil free.
Nigeria has one hundred million people. (The numbers are astounding) 70 % live below the poverty line and also in a state of war caused by the conflict between the Oil companies and the native populations that have been devastated.
What is the moral?
One person can still make a difference and each of us can do something.