Monday, 23 February 2015

Age Difference, Trouble Makers and Shidduchim

We get a lot of comments come in regarding appropriate age difference for Shidduchim especially if the man wants to have children or to have more children (in the event of second marriages). Many get angry to consider that a man over 40 or even over 50 is wanting more children. Of course, the more the man is over 50, the larger the age gap will be.

Here is a story that is food for thought.

In Hungary there was a rabbi who became a very major influence in the Litvish world. His name was Rabbi Akiva Eiger and he lived 1761 - 1837. Rabbi Akiva Eiger married at the right age and had 4 children with his wife. Sadly she died when they were in their early 30's. When he was 34, he married a second time to a woman who was just 16 years old. That gives an age difference of 18 years. 

Rabbi Akiva Eiger and his second wife had 13 children together. I don't know much of who the 13 children were but one of the children from the first wife was a daughter who married the Chatam Sofer and from whom the whole lineage of the Sofer family descended.

What does this have to do with trouble makers? There were those who tried to prevent the Chatam Sofer from marrying the daughter of Rabbi Akiva Eiger. They came up with various problem they perceived in the daughter of Rabbi Akiva Eiger. Was it because she was orphaned from her mother? For those who know the great rabbis who came from this couple, stopping that Shidduch would have been a great loss to all of Am Yisrael.

Today, I doubt a day goes by without someone learning something from Rabbi Akiva Eiger. The Chatam Sofer and his children also made a very great contribution. 

There is much, much more to Shidduchim than we as mere humans could ever come to understand.  All we can do is put in our effort and do our best not to prevent good Shidduchim from happening. Of course, since Shidduchim really are all made in Shamayim, it is important to put in our effort practically to meet Shadchanim, go on dates, work on ourselves etc and also to Daven daily and increase in Torah and Mitzvos.

We hope you have enjoyed the story. Do you have a story to share? Do comment below or be in touch to send us your story.

This post is prepared for you by Shoshanah Shear from Chessed Ve'Emet

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Who Is An Orphan

I was just talking to a woman in our community about our Bayit Chadash Gemach and the fact that we focus on assisting orphans at the time they marry. She listened and then asked, "do you have time for a little story?"

"Yes," I responded. "I have a few minutes."

"Good, then here is the story. There once was a teacher who asked her class if anyone knew what an orphan is. 'Dear children', she began, 'can anyone tell me what an orphan is. Does anyone know?'

'I know,' a five year old girl said as she put up her hand. 'My mommy told me! She explained to me that I didn't grow in her tummy, I grew in her heart'

Isn't that a lovely story?" the woman asked.

Since I established my Bayit Chadash Gemach in the merit of my late father Nathan Gershon ben Nathan a"h who was born an orphan and who died when I was still in school, I was not sure what to say. It certainly gives much food for thought. 

What are your thoughts of the story? Do you know what an orphan is? How would you explain the concept of an orphan to a child.

Please post your comment in the comment section below. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

This post is prepared for you by Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Monday, 16 February 2015

Crowd Fundraising - 2

In a previous post, I began to describe our experience with crowd fundraising. In this post, we will begin to look a bit further.

Our first encounter with crowd fundraising was through Kick Starter. We were needing funding to meet a certain goal and someone suggested using a thermometer to track donations and help to reach our goal. They called it Kick Starter. We found a lovely thermometer, embedded it in the blog post and used the word Kick Starter or Kick Start in the post.

We did get a little interest but not very much. I think we reached about 5% of our goal. Sometime later someone began to describe crowd fundraising to us and suggested we give it a try. He then took a look at our blog and noticed we had the thermometer on and said, oh, you already do this with Kick Starter? 

So we began to learn about crowd fundraising. Since then we have read a number of articles, some useful, some good to fill the time. What we did learn was:

- There are many crowd fundraising websites available
- There is an art to making a success of a crowd fundraising campaign
- Many, ,many are turning to crowd fundraising as a means to help to raise the funds they require to reach a certain goal.

We learned a lot more as we tried a little further. Have you tried a crowd fundraiser? Have you found it beneficial? Have you been successful? What did you do that helped you reach your goal?

We'd love to hear from you so please share your thoughts or experience in the comments below

Thanks for reading and for sharing for those who do.

Have a blessed day
Shoshanah Shear

Friday, 13 February 2015

First Member to our Torah Lending Library

                                 Photograph of the start of our Torah Lending Library.
                             Photograph is copyrighted to Shear Success Photographers.

It's been quite a process, but we have two bookshelves filled with books and began to put out flyers to receive members. We are still in need of a software program to catalogue the books correctly. In the meantime we had a response to the first few flyers we put out and our first member came to visit our library. She had a brief look, enjoyed what she saw and selected two books to enjoy on Shabbat. For her, Shabbat is not the same without Torah related books to read. We are delighted to have been able to help bring joy to her Shabbat experience.

For those who have donated Seforim or towards the bookshelves, we say a very BIG Thank YOU!!.

To those who have offered encouragement we say Thank YOU to you too.

We look forward to more members signing up for our Torah Lending Library.

Do you enjoy reading? What type of books to you like to read more?

We'd love to hear your ideas for suitable books for our Torah Lending Library. If you have any Seforim that you no longer need and are in excellent condition, do be in touch to donate them to our library. If you have puzzles or games that are suitable for Jewish children and are prepared to donate, please be in touch for a Toy library to add to our Torah lending library.

Thank you for your participation.

Shabbat Shalom

Shoshanah Shear

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Bayit Chadash Bargain Store

The above photograph was taken a while ago in our Bayit Chadash store. At the time we had a few Purim outfits. You can see one of the pretty princess dresses hanging up. Our stock changes hence, some items that are seen in the photograph are no longer in stock.

Why place an outdated photograph? 

That is an excellent question and yes I do have an answer. The first is that we are in the process of working on our online store. This post is to remind those of you who have already heard of us and to introduce those who do not yet know of our work, to take a look at our online store. We have a lot of work to do, but please visit the link on the highlighted words and visit our website. Since it is new, we'd love to hear your feedback. If you find an item that you like, please support our efforts and make a purchase.

The next reason is that as you can see in the photograph, our stock has grown beyond the shelves that we currently have. We are in need of another shelf. Please help us to continue to develop and grow our store and Torah-Healing centre by either making a purchase or donating a shelf or towards another shelf.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you have clicked on the link and gone to browse our online store, thank you so much for that too.

We are very grateful for your support and hence offer you a lovely rose, albeit virtually.

This post is prepared for you by
 Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Our Experience with Crowdfundraising

For various reasons we moved to work independently, privately, whatever term you call it. Many advocate that when starting to work from home, that you keep a salaried job going in order to have some income while developing your other work. We began this way too but life has a way to send you curve balls and there are times you have to adapt to suit the situation.

So what do you do when you have a need that requires money or funding and are unable to take out another loan or have no-one to assist with the funding? There are all kinds of reasons as to why someone might need finance.

We became aware of an opportunity called crowd fundraising. Is this term new to you? Like a definition of crowdfundraising? Don't feel bad at all, many do not know what it is.

Crowdfundraising is a method to fund a project / venture / development in your work by having contributions from a large group of people known as a crowd. Some use it to finance publishing a book, recording a music CD or a film or video. Some use it to obtain funds to patent something or to begin a business. Some need funds to take a trip for a worthy cause, to get married, to move or for health reasons.

There is an art to doing a successful crowdfundraising campaign. We are only just getting to know how it works. However, we have gained experience from what we have done thus far and will be happy to share what we have gained, which sites were useful to use, which we prefer and why. We are not yet experts and still have much to learn. 

You are welcome to send in a question. If we can answer, we can prepare a blog post on the question or topic to help others too. If we do not have the answer, we can either research to find it or we will let you know if we do not have this information

Thank you for reading this post. 

Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

What is Bad for Shidduchim?

Yesterday I prepared a post about what factors are harmful for Shidduchim. After a recent incident, I find the need to revise the list provided.

The two biggest problems that are very bad for Shidduchim are Sinas Chinam (Baseless Hatred) and Lashon Hara (Forbidden Speech). For both of these, learning the works for the Chofetz Chaim are very recommended, preferably to learn two Hallachos daily.

Rebbi Elimelich of Lezinsk taught that it is preferable to put everything through thirteen sieves in order to make sure that what you are about to say is valid and has a beneficial purpose. Providing information that will ruin a Jew's chances in Parnassa and in Shidduchim just because you have some issue with the person, is not permissible or sufficient reason to make their life a misery.

Sinas Chinam and Lashon Hara are in fact the two causes of the fall of the Beis HaMikdash. 

What will YOU do TODAY to help to increase your love of your fellow Jew and your guarding your tongue?

This post is prepared for you by Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Monday, 9 February 2015

What Kind of Factors are Bad for Shidduchim?

We've spoken about the crisis happening in Shidduchim. We've begun to share a little about those on our Shidduch database, now we come to another issue. What kind of factors are bad for Shidduchim? Have you considered this?

In the years we went through the Shidduch process we began to notice some problems. Since switching to the other side and assisting as Shadchanim, we are finding some new ones and other issues to be reinforced.

Here are some problems that we have identified and that we have heard from singles:

- Habits: Habits are usually good as they can help one to have consistency in behaviour, daily routine etc. However, there are habits that are bad for Shidduchim. These would be habits such as - drinking, smoking, biting your nails, bad manners, bad language and fidgeting in a way that is off putting to the one sitting opposite you.

- Hygiene: This is a part of habits but to be more specific we have had singles complain if someone goes on a date with bad breath or some aspect of hygiene that is problematic. 

- Involvement: There are times a couple needs some assistance from the Shadchan, a rabbi or good friend but when too many people get involved, this can cause a problem.

- Dishonesty: Some of our singles have complained about dishonesty while others do not understand where the problem is. Imagine for a moment that you agree to a date with person x only to arrive at the date to find someone who looks different to the photo shown to you, has different information to that outlined to you, is a different age, has different colour eyes or a myriad of other discrepancies. How would you feel? On the whole, being dishonest is a big problem for Shidduchim and something that is bound to come to light somewhere along the Shidduch process. 

- Goals: Many either have no idea what their life goals are or have set goals that are either unrealistic or not practical or not suitable to their lives. If your goals are unclear or problematic in anyway, this can be a problem for Shidduchim

- Being Fussy: More and more we are finding that singles on our database refuse a very good potential date due to being very fussy over physical attributes that can change with time. If you are too fussy, it can be a problem for Shidduchim

Age Preference: A major problem we are finding as are others, is that on the whole, women like to marry men who are their age or older until they reach their 50s or 60s and then women often, but not always, will say they prefer a younger man as they do not wish to take care of an ill older spouse. Many or most men on the other hand tend to want women in their 20s no matter what age the man is. This is creating a group of women who are being left with no-one to date.

References: There are times that the reference ends up giving us a string of negative feedback about the person we are trying to help set up. If the person you are selecting is not on your side, do not give their name as a reference, they might turn away potential Shidduchim who could be very suitable. On the other hand, a reference who wont say anything at all, is just as much of a strain to the Shidduch process.

What are your thoughts about Shidduchim. Have you noticed anything to be a problem or even bad for Shidduchim? We'd like to hear from you so please post your comment below.

This post is prepared for you by Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Friday, 6 February 2015

Learning Sofrus

Do you ever stop to consider what goes into writing a Mezuza, Tefillin, Megilat Esther or Sefer Torah? Ever wondered what laws are involved, what materials are needed, how skilled the Sofer needs to be?

More and more in today's time I see people wanting the cheapest Mezuzah. Or a pair of Tefillin but only the cheapest price. It is a wonder that those who find the means to go on expensive holidays, purchase new cars etc will cut corners when it comes to the items that need to be written by a Sofer.

My husband is in the process of learning to be a Sofer and watching his process and progress is a tremendous eye opener for me. I have developed a lot of respect and appreciation for those who are qualified, legitimate Sofrim.

Did you know that there are very details laws regarding the shape of the letters, the formation of the letters, the order in which the letters are written, the materials used and more. The information a Sofer needs to learn even takes into consideration the environment in which he is writing and how the parchment is positioned.

As an occupational therapist, I have worked with children who have writing problems, but the laws involved in writing a Mezuza, the scrolls that go into a pair of Tefillin, a Megilat Esther or a Sefer Torah are very complex and detailed.

Next time you have a need for anything written by a Sofer, firstly make sure the Sofer is legitimate and the item you purchase has actually been written by hand. Then take a few moments to appreciate how much time goes into learning what is required to prepare your Mezuza, Tefillin etc and how much goes into actually writing it. 

If following Torah law is important to you and receiving the blessing and protection that comes from Mezuzot, Tefillin and a Sefer Torah, set aside the finance necessary to buy only absolutely Kosher and preferably Mehudar ones. 

This post is prepared for you by Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Fact Finding for Future Planning

Yesterday, I posted about a wonderful meeting we had with Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, the travelling rabbi of Southern Africa. One troubling piece of information that he shared was the very high rate of assimilation that is occurring. Related to this trend is the high rate of cremation.

I'm interested to hear what keeps you connected to Yiddishkeit if you are part of the Jewish community and for those who marry out, what do you find pushes you away? For those who are opting for cremation rather than burial as the Torah dictates, what prompts you to take such a path?

Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of our Fathers teaches of the importance to remain connected to a Jewish community. The risk of assimilation is certainly one reason for this teaching from Torah.

If you had the ideal Jewish community and the ideal Shidduch experience, what would that look like? What would inspire you to stay within the Family of Am Yisrael rather than attempt to blend into the other nations, risking being lost completely?

If lack of Torah knowledge is part of your difficulty, we invite you to join us for online lessons (Shiurim). If you are not sure where to begin to learn or what to learn, not to worry, we are very happy to begin from basics. You can start with the Alef Beit, the alphabet in Hebrew or basic ideas and concepts of Judaism and Torah thought. 

If there is something else that is pushing you away, we'd like to hear what it is and what you think a solution could be to keep you within the special family of Am Yisrael.

This post is written by Shoshanah Shear
Co-Director of Chessed Ve'Emet


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