Alfred’s Secrets

To accept those with whom I differ, to respect those against whom I strive. To wish for them to be the people they hope to be.


The key to allow me to live with others, to be given unconditionally, and to never be withdrawn.


Of the most defining of strengths, it is not modesty, now is it putting others first. It is a mindset of a deep sense of awe towards everything around me.


A gift given by G-d to me, to be protected, as it is defined by giving, not taking.


The courage to test my belief in me, in my Creator, and in those around me.


Reaching inside of me every day, to demand of me, to recreate me.


A force, a power of its own – to be given to me as I give it to others.


Alfred died of leukemia at the age of three.

In the moments of sunshine that were his
life and the great darkness that followed
his death, he taught his parents and
later, his brothers and sisters, some of the
secrets of living.


The brother I never met, the brother I

(Excerpt from From Me to My Children by Ricky Cohen)



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Truth and Responsibility

In front of me stood two children… One of whom I knew; she was a relative of mine. Next to her stood another child, beautiful and in pain as well, but a stranger to me; someone I had never seen before and would never see again. The child I knew sat immediately to my right.

 The next day…

By my side sat two women. One of whom I knew; she is a former neighbor of mine. The other woman I had never seen. Each was clearly in need. Sadness was the common thread they shared. I sensed some hope in their eyes as I stood before them. The woman I recognized sat closer to me – the other a few steps away.

 A few weeks later…

Behind me two men were crying. Each was my age. One of the men I had seen at events and parties, the other I was sure I would never know. The tears of the man with whom I had celebrated were so close they touched my  skin.

 Each of the children, the women, and the men needed help.

What should I do? Whom should I help?

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Belief is an Action

It was always thought to be this way:

“I believe in you son. I trust you and love you with all of my heart.”

“I believe in you honey. I have total faith in you and our relationship. I would never do anything to compromise that.”

“I have faith in you my dear daughter. I have complete confidence in your abilities and all that you represent.”

 At some point things changed: Read the rest of this entry »

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You Couldn’t Make This Up

A community leader was invited to a rabbi’s office for a meeting. The topic of the meeting was a yeshivah in the community this gentleman was asked to help.

After a brief exchange of pleasantries they got down to business.

“I understand you went to visit the yeshiva?”, the rabbi asked.

“Yes”, the man responded. “It’s an institution with a good past that has potential to educate successfully.”

“Do you have children in the school?”  the rabbi queried.

“No”, the man answered simply.

“Grandchildren?” “No”, the man answered again.

“Do you think any of your children or grandchildren will attend the school in the future?”

‘Probably not”, the community member offered.

“So what are you doing there?”

“I don’t understand your question”.

“Your philosophy and the philosophy of the school are not the same. If your children are not going to be there, nor your grandchildren, what are you doing there?”

The man looked directly into the rabbi’s eyes and said in a careful and deliberate tone: “We are one community. We must do all we can to help each other succeed regardless of differences in philosophy. We must help each institution be the best it can be.

They need not all be the same, yet they all need to be successful.”

As the meeting ended, the man was threatened that if he continued to involve himself with the yeshivah he would be publicly ostracized.

You couldn’t make this up.

A group of young men were approached as they stood together with sifrei kodesh (books of Torah) in their hands. In their conversation they repeatedly referred to a rabbi in the community by a slang version of his first name because they disagreed with some of his opinions.

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The Kotel And The Ipad

Who would imagine, sitting by the steps that go down to the Kotel square I would bump into my friends David and Marjorie and their son Eddie…?

As I got on the plane to Tel Aviv from Newark, boarding with me were Hareidim, Hasidim, Modern Orthodox men and women, traditional Jews, Jews with no day to day connection to religion, young adults, elderly, and four different American groups of non-Jewish tourists coming to visit Israel for the first time.

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You Transform Me

“…The power of your rising sun has significance well beyond the color it creates around me. It shouts the fulfillment of the covenant; that a time of spectacular existence would be granted, and a new day which promises great possibilities.

The simple people and the scholars, the great men, and those never to be known, have a charisma that intensely draws me and urges me to burn their images into my memory, as I wonder about their joys and their failures, their prayers and what fills them inside.

The pain that sometimes defines your reality doesn’t frighten me; it gives me pause to appreciate that this geulah (redemption) is not perfect, as the first geulah from Egypt was not perfect. And that the imperfection is by design, so that we build a people around the love of our Creator, and the love of each other.

The tiny worship halls, and simple sanctuaries that are within you, declare with the loudest affirmation, that G-dliness is not ennobled by bricks and mortar, nor is it not nurtured by fine woods and silk. They declare that G-dliness – in the domain of man, is dictated by the hope of his heart and the hunger of his spirit.

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To Care For A Pony

There is a story about a family who purchased a prize pony. With great pride, the pony was brought home and for weeks was paraded before the neighbors and extended family members. Young and old marveled at her ideal height and weight, the beautiful color and clarity of her eyes, the beauty of her coat, and all of the wonderful potential she possessed.

For the first three years of the pony’s life, she was fed the finest grains, at exactly the right times of the day – perfectly mixed and prepared, so that she remained healthy and vibrant with all her possibilities and potential before her.

By the middle of the fourth year, things began to change. Although the family’s love for the beautiful pony remained as great as before, she had become part of their landscape. She was still fed her grain but it wasn’t as finely ground, nor as carefully mixed, as it had been before. Her water was sometimes left overnight and although her stall was always clean, it wasn’t as rigorously cared for as it had been.

The pony grew into a horse and the love remained but the care no longer matched the love.

It’s easier to love a pony than to care for one. Read the rest of this entry »