Search

Loading...

Blog Archive

About Me

Rabbi Chaim Coffman
Rabbi Coffman has helped people from all across the spectrum to prepare themselves properly for Orthodox Conversion to Judaism. His students admire his vast knowledge and appreciate his warm, personal attention and endearing sense of humor.
View my complete profile

Followers

Welcome to Rabbi Chaim Coffman's Blog!

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog, Beyond Orthodox Conversion to Judaism.

The conversion process can be a lengthy and daunting one to say the least and I want you to know that I am here to help you through it.

I have been teaching newcomers to Judaism for over a decade and over the last few years I have seen that conversion candidates really lack the support and knowledge they need to navigate the conversion process and successfully integrate into the Orthodox Jewish community.

I created my mentorship program in order to help make this whole experience as smooth and as painless as possible! (Can't do much about the growing pains, though ;)

Feel free to get to know me a little through the posts on my blog and visit the mentorship and syllabus page if you are interested in possible joining us.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your search for truth and spiritual growth.

Looking forward to meeting you,
Chaim Coffman

My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch

In case you were wondering why I have all of these articles written by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, he is my Rebbe, and one of the gedolei hador (greatest Rabbis of our generation).

Rav Sternbuch fully endorses me and supports my mentorship program.

He is the address for all of my halachic or hashkafic (practical and philosophical) questions that I or my students may have.

The articles are based on his weekly talks on the Torah portion that the Rav gives in Jerusalem in his kollel. As a member of the kollel I get first dibbs on the photocopies and I type them up for my blog so you can all benefit from the Rav's erudition and insight.
Thursday, February 27, 2014

Parshas Pekudei: Our Service to G-d never Ends

"All the work of the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting, was completed, and the Children of Israel had done everything that Hashem commanded Moshe so did they do" (Exodus 39:32)

After finishing everything in the Mishkan why was it necessary to say that they did everything the G-d had commanded? Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita in Chochmah V'Da'as explains that sometimes rich people think to themselves that after they give charity they have done a tremendous thing. At the same time, though they don't think to be so careful in mitzvah observance since they think G-d will look the other way because of the charity they have just given. The Torah here comes to teach us that after donating to the building of the Mishkan and doing everything that G-d commanded, they continued to do G-d's will.

Rav Sternbuch then continues and tells us a story that occurred during World War 2. There was an ultra orthodox man from England that was drafted in the English army and daily he flew to bomb different places in Germany. On one of his free days, he went to visit Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky z"l.

Rav Abramsky asked the man how he was doing religiously with everything this man had to do. The man answered him that he kept kosher but he admitted that he smoke on shabbos. He reasoned that because he was doing such a great mitzvah by putting himself in danger every day to bomb the Germans and destroy a great enemy of the Jewish people that G-d would forgive him for smoking on Shabbos.

The rav answered him and said that after 120 years you will have to give an accounting of your actions to G-d and you will find two books there. One book it will be written the great mitzvah you did by putting yourself in danger every day to bomb the Germans. In the second book it will be written that you desecrated shabbos by smoking in a case where it is not permitted, which is a tremendous transgression.

You will not be able to bribe G-d with the great mitzvah that you did to overlook the serious infraction of desecrating shabbos. Rather each action a person will be judged by itself. This means that you will get great reward for the mitzvah that you did but you will be punished severely as well for desecrating shabbos if you do not do proper teshuvah.

This is what the verse here is teaching us. Even though everything in the Mishkan was finished and the great mitzvah the people did by donating to it was finished, nonetheless they continued their strong mitzvah observance as our pasuk testifies to.

This is a lesson for all of us. Even if we do great things, it does not mean that our job is over. We have to keep striving working on ourselves and our mitzvah observance.

Shabbat Shalom

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 2 Mishna 18: Living in the Past is Detrimental to your Health

"Rabbi Shimon said, 'Be careful in reading the Shema and the Shemoneh Esreh; when you pray, do not regard your prayer as a perfunctory act, but as a plea for mercy and 
grace before G-d, as it is said: '"For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, and relenting of evil." Do not be wicked in your own esteem (lest you set yourself a low standard of conduct).

The first part of the Mishna is telling us to be careful that we should say the Shema and the Shemoneh Esreh in its proper time. The reasons we should be more careful about these prayers is because each one has a component of taking on the yoke of heaven.

When we say the Shema we are declaring that there is one G-d who runs the universe and keeps the world functioning on a daily basis. After that we declare that we will take on the yoke of mitzvos and do what G-d has commanded us.

Through the Shemoneh Esreh we also take on the yoke the heaven. We declare that G-d takes care of our needs physically and spiritually and continually runs the world. At the same time, He is the G-d of our forefathers who brought His name to the forefront in a polytheistic world.

The next part of the Mishna tells us that when we do pray, we shouldn't do it as a perfunctory act but as a plea for mercy and grace before G-d. Since G-d provides for the sustenance and function of the world, how could we pray to G-d by giving Him lip service without proper intention of what we say?

Prayer is a very difficult thing since we don't always see direct results of our prayers. After all, we pray for so many things that we desire and think are good for us but G-d may seemingly not answer our call to Him.

Prayer is one of the things that always needs strengthening. It takes preparation and hard work to pray three times a time saying the same things over and over. Spontaneous prayer is always accepted but when we delve deeper into what the prayers represent and mean, we see the greatness of the rabbis who developed them.

The last part of the Mishna tells us that we should not look evil in our eyes. The commentaries explain that if we do this and have a low self esteem, then we will not be able to do proper teshuvah (repentance). The reason is because we tell ourselves that we are no good, we make mistakes and are not worthy of anything.

I have heard my rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita say many times that the yetzer hara is very strong in that it convinces a person that they are not worthy of anything so why work on character development, I will just fail anyway! We have to look at each day anew and not worry about the past because if you live in the past you have no future.

This means that regardless what the person has done the day before, we have to realize that we make mistakes but we also have to grow from them and change. If we just give up hope, then we will never change and reach our true potential.
Friday, February 21, 2014

Parshas Vayakel: Where is my Donation going?

"Them has he filled with wisdom of heart, to do all manner of work, of the engraver,and of the craftsman, and of the embroider, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet , and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise artistic work." (Exodus 35:35)

Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita in Ta'am V'Da'as explains this verse from a story of the Rosh Yeshiva Rav Chaim of Volozhin. Rav Chaim would explain this verse with the following story. There was a person who collected money for the yeshiva and told Rav Chaim that he needed a wagon and a horse so he would always be ready to go and would not have to depend on a wagon driver whom he would have to waste time waiting for and costing the yeshiva extra money that it did not need to spend.

The money collector also claimed that he needed to buy new clothes so that he would look respectable in the eyes of the people whom he was collecting money from. Not only that, if they would see this person all dressed up, they would be more inclined to give him even more money for the yeshiva. He also needed a young man to accompany him at all times which would inevitably bring in more money to the yeshiva. Rav Chaim acquiesced to all the things that the man wanted.

The money collector then went to a certain city. A certain man there gave a generous sum of money each year but this year he was not willing to give anything. Not only that, he regretted that he ever gave money to the yeshiva in the first place!

The money collector came back to Rav Chaim and told him over the whole story. Rav Chaim was very angry and he told the money collector that the next time he goes to that city, he himself wants to accompany him to see what the story was with this particular individual.

Rav Chaim went with the man and when he arrived at the city, this individual saw the rosh yeshivah and trembled greatly in his presence. Rav Chaim asked him why he had not given any money this year like in previous years. The man told him when he saw the money collector all decked out in fancy clothes with his own horse and wagon and someone serving and helping him, that is not what he gave money to the yeshiva for!

He thought that his money was going to help the students of the yeshiva who were learning diligently day and night. After Rav Chaim heard this, he asked his esteemed colleague if he ever learned in his life. The man answered that the only thing he ever learned was chumash (the five books of Moses) when he was younger.

Rav Chaim then asked him is it fitting to call a simple tailor a renowned rabbi or tzadik? We all know that would be a disgrace to do so. By Betzalel here in this parsha it says that he was filled with the spirit of G-d and he was able to put together the letters that helped created the heavens and earth.

How could the Torah say that he was filled with the spirit of G-d and was able to do the work of the mishkan? Rav Chaim explained when the Jewish people gave silver and gold to help build the mishkan each person thought that the donations they gave would help build the holy of holies which is the most holiest place in the mishkan!

Rav Chaim continued and said that there was also money donated to help consecrate the mishkan and Beltzalel was able to put the letters together through divine inspiration and build different parts of the mishkan. When someone gave money they wanted it to be used to sanctify the mishkan and bring to new heights the honor of G-d!

A person giving money though understood that his donation would be used for other aspects of the mishkan as well that were not as holy. Therefore Rav Chaim continued the wagon and the fancy clothing of the money collector are also used for the sake of the yeshiva so that it bring about greater glory for G-d.  This means even the food that is used for the Torah students to eat has a tremendous sanctity because it gives them strength to continue to learn Torah.

For this also helps the yeshiva and its students as well. May we all be able to give and help others to the best of our ablity!

Shabbat Shalom
Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 2 Mishna 17: Serving G-d to the Best of our Ability

"Rabbi Yosi said, 'Let your friends property be as precious to you as your own; give yourself  to the study of Torah, for it does not come to you by inheritance; and let all your deeds be done in the name of heaven'"

The first part of the Mishna explains that we have to be careful with someone else's property. This seems pretty obvious from the outset but the Mishna here teaches us a valuable lesson. If we look at our friends property as something very precious even like our own property, then we will be much more careful not to cause them damage.

Wouldn't we be careful with our own property and how we treat our personal possessions? So too we should be careful with the property of our friends. With that type of mentality, we will not come to cause damage to someone else's property.

The next part of the Mishna explains the importance of Torah learning. Even though we understand it to be the very life of the Jewish people, nonetheless each person has the ability to acquire their own knowledge of it regardless of their pedigree.

Even if a person's father was a rabbi and his father was a rabbi, does not mean that this person will be a rabbi. The reason is precisely as the Mishna explains: the Torah is not an inheritance. Each person has the ability to acquire Torah themselves regardless of the lineage of their family. There are no guarantees in life regardless of where we may have come from.

We have to carve out our own lives and reach our own personal spiritual goals. This is why the Torah is not considered an inheritance because each of us has our own unique path in life. This teaches that even if a person did not have religious parents does not mean they cannot go in the footsteps of their ancestors.

The last part of the Mishna tells us that everything we do should be for the sake of heaven. If we are specifically speaking about spiritual endeavors, keeping Torah and doing mitzvos this would easily be understood. After all, we make blessings praising G-d, keep Shabbos and the holidays. If we are not doing it for the sake of heaven, then why bother?

We could say that maybe we do the mitzvos because we don't want to be punished for not keeping them. At the same time, fear of punishment will not keep someone on the straight and narrow path. That doesn't bode well for being able to pass Judaism down to the next generation.

If the last part of the Mishna is talking about our physical lives, then this is a novelty. The reason is that whatever I do whether eating or drinking, it should be done for the sake of heaven. What does this mean?

A person is not allowed to be a glutton or drink a lot. The purpose of food is to give us strength so we can continue to serve G-d properly, not just to satisfy our appetites. We can even take the most mundane things in the physical world and sanctify G-d's name.

For example, we could eat an apple, say a clear blessings and accomplish two things. One is that we are not allowed to eat something without making a blessing and we praise G-d for what He has given us. At the same time, we satisfy our hunger by giving our body nutrients to be able to continue to function properly and serve G-d better!
Thursday, February 13, 2014

Parshas Ki Tissa: Seize the Moment!

"And when the people saw that Moshe delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aharon and said to him, 'Up make us gods which will go before us, for as this man Moshe who brought us out of the land of Egypt we know not of what has become of him." (Exodus 32:1)

How can it be that after all the miracles in Egypt that G-d performed through Moshe that the people could want 'other gods' to go before them since Moshe was delayed in coming down from the mountain? Was coming out of Egypt such a small thing in their eyes? The same people that saw all the miracles that G-d did for them in Egypt, suddenly forget?

Even though the people witnessed many miracles in front of their eyes, nonetheless when Moshe delays in coming back, they immediately lose faith and want other gods to walk before them. How could this have transpired?

At that time, Moshe took care of all their needs. The manna fell and fed them. Their clothes never wore out and they were living their lives on a very high level spiritually. The problem was when they were left on their own, they didn't know what would happen to them. Maybe it was the merit of Moshe himself that the miracle of their survival continued. If that was true, then how could they themselves survive without their spiritual leader?

In reality, they still believed in G-d and of all the miracles that He did for the Jewish people. At the same time, their faith was weakened when Moshe was delayed. Even seeing G-d face to face by the first of the Ten Commandments didn't help them!

The reason is that although they witnessed all these miracles, they didn't internalize the message. G-d wanted them to live on a very high spiritual level. That meant that even though the manna was finished and kept coming on a daily basis, they didn't think they were worthy of it continuing.

Just because it came the day before and the day before...maybe their merit wouldn't be enough. After all, they are now living in the desert and need to exist! We see that even if one had the greatest miracles performed for them, if they don't internalize the message they lose that level of spirituality very quickly.

Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita has told me many times that when one has that spiritual epiphany whenever it occurs, it should not be wasted. That is the time to grab it and have it effect them as much as possible because once it goes, it goes.

If we don't utilize the opportunity that we are given there is no guarantee that it will come back very soon. Not only that, but we must be ever aware of the evil inclination's struggle against us. It would tell us that we can rest on our laurels, we don't have to grow so much spiritually and we can take it easy.

Yes we will keep Torah and mitzvos but we sometimes hit a spiritual plateau where we say we are happy where we are. This is akin to death because if we are not spiritually growing then we are going in the opposite direction.

May we look at every mitzvah that we do as if it were given yesterday on Mount Sinai and treat every day anew to serve G-d properly.

Shabbat Shalom

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter Two Mishna 16: Don't let our bad feelings overcome us and cause destruction

"Rabbi Yehoshua said, 'the evil eye (greed), the evil impulse and hatred of mankind shorten a man's life'"

The first part of the Mishna tells us that the evil eye will shorten a man's life. Why is this? Rabbenu Yona explains that it means that a person is not happy with what he has. If his friend is rich then that person will be jealous and ask, 'why am I not rich like my friend?

This jealousy will cause one to inject the evil eye on his friend potentially causing them physical and spiritual damage. The reason is because that person has tremendous desire for what the other person has and will not rest until they themselves have it. An example of this is someone who adds an extension to their house.

A person watching the building could claim that he too wants to add an extension but either they don't have any resources to do it or they live in a place where they can't. They will be jealous of their friend because even though they themselves cannot do it, why should my friend do it? This can lead to many bad feelings that cause undo harm between them.

The next two things that the Mishna would seem obvious in that the evil inclination and hatred of his fellow man will shorten their lives. The simple explanation is when a person makes themselves subservient to their evil inclination, they are not able to serve G-d properly. They will justify their actions in so many different ways that it will be impossible to overcome it.

The evil inclination does not rest and tries to get the person to transgress even while they are asleep! We have to be constantly on guard against it and strive to the best of our ability to overcome it.

The hatred of mankind will shorten a person's life as well. The reason is that the more a person hates others and speaks badly against them, the more they will hate him and cause him anguish. Even if a person feels justified in hating the other person, that poison festers and allows them no rest.

If we would look at everything as coming from G-d and He is sending us messages through these messengers, then we would see the world in a very different light. These messengers are there for us to grow and utilize the situation for a better way to serve G-d.

Although that would be the proper outlook, putting it into practice is quite a different thing. G-d many times gives us 'love taps' in many different ways. We have to look at them as times to grow and overcome these trials and tribulations to become the great people we can become!
Thursday, February 6, 2014

Parshas Tetzaveh: Giving over the right Message

"In the Tent of Meeting, outside the Partition that is near the Testimonial-tablets, Aharon and his sons shall arrange it from evening until morning, before Hashem, an eternal decree for their generations, from the Children of Israel" (Exodus 27:21)

It is interesting to note here that this command was given to Aharon and his sons before they were chosen for the priesthood. The reason Rav Moshe Feinstein brings in Derash Moshe  is because the menorah itself is holy even if the kohen would not light it.

The reason Aharon gets this mitzvah is based on his own merits. This means that based on who he was and what he accomplished through his character development he merited to have this mitzvah. He was raised in keeping the Torah and showed what spiritual levels a person can reach if they work on themselves.

This, Rav Moshe explains is the importance of how a rabbi should educate his students and a father his children. The obligation in teaching a student is to teach him how to think and understand and become a great spiritual person in their own right!

Just like the oil cannot have any mixture of lees in it and must be pure, so too the rabbi has to explain Torah thoughts in a clear manner to his students so they don't come to make mistakes. Not only that but a rabbi must educate even the erudite scholar as he would someone who has lesser knowledge.

He gives both the opportunity to learn and grow at their own levels. The rabbi cannot make the mistake and say that I will teach them enough so they understand for themselves. This may prove costly because even if the idea appears obvious, nonetheless there is tremendous responsibility that the student understands the message clearly!

Even if this means that a person has to teach and reteach that particular lesson. Better it be taught many times than the meaning become skewed. This lesson also has practical repercussions for us even if we are not rabbis and don't have students.

We have an obligation to give over Torah messages to our kids to the best of our ability. Whether the child knows a lot or a little, the message and teachings we give them last a lifetime. We have to constantly reinforce ideas in different ways so they get the message. At the same time, each child is different as it is says in Proverbs, we have to educate our kids in the way they need to be educated not the way we think they need to be educated.

May G-d help us give over the right message to our families and students!

Shabbat Shalom

Ethics of our Fathers: Chapter 2 Mishna 15: Repent every day and be careful how you treat Torah Scholars

"They each said three things. Rabbi Eliezer said: 'Let your friend's honor be as dear to you as your own; be not easily provoked to anger; repent one day before your death (every day, for you may die tomorrow). He further said: 'Warm yourself by the fire of the scholars,l but beware of their glowing coals (treat them respectfully), lest you burn yourself; for the bite of the scholars is as hurtful as that of a fox, their sting is as deadly as that of a scorpion, their hiss is like that of a serpent, and all their words are like coals of fire (and should be heeded).

The first part of the Mishna explains that we should honor our friend as much as we would honor ourselves. Why should a person do that, after all isn't this obvious? Interpersonal relationships are extremely important for how we relate to others. If we want others to treat us properly, then we have to treat them properly as well.

The problem is that sometimes we may think that others should honor us more or show us respect and we feel miffed if that is not the case. A person may say, "why should I help that person or be nice when they did....against me!" We have to be very careful not to let our egos overcome us. When we do that, we will have no rest and our interpersonal relationships will end in disaster.

The next part of the Mishna explains that we should be careful with the character trait of anger. This is something that is not easy to control but when it gets out of control it makes havoc on those around us. Even if someone does something that angers us, we have to be very careful how we handle it.

The Talmud tells us that when a person is angry even if the pits of hell were open underneath them, they wouldn't change and their anger would continue to burn. If we look at things that occur in our lives as signs from G-d and what he wants from us then in reality we shouldn't become angry. The reason is that these people are messengers causing us to be introspective of our actions.

The next part of the Mishna explains that one should repent one day before a person dies. The Talmud asks, is it possible to know the day before you die? The Talmud answers that one should repent today because a person may die tomorrow and since we don't know the day of our death, we should repent every day and live every day of our lives with repentance.

Although this is good advice, we still have difficulty admitting that we do things wrong. We justify our actions in many different ways often convincing ourselves that we have acted correctly. In reality if we take a hard look at what we do on a daily basis and evaluate ourselves honestly (without destroying our precious egos) then we can live every day of our lives in repentance.

The last part of the Mishna explains what our relationship with Torah scholars should be. We should draw ourselves close to them and learn as much as possible. At the same time, we need to have to distance from them. The reason is that when one gets too close, they may get burned. Why is that?

A person needs to be in awe of Torah scholars because of the knowledge that they possess. At the same time, a person should not act frivolously with them which could be dangerous for our well being. We could say that we disagree with them and think that we know thereby making fun and ridiculing. While we know that this is forbidden, the punishment for doing so against Torah scholars is much greater.

We should not look at them as our "friends" in the sense of how we deal with them. We need to show them proper respect and gain from their knowledge while at the same keeping our distance!
Sunday, February 2, 2014

Continuation of the story of my student Dale Streisand and family and their odyssey of coming to Israel

EXCLUSIVE: After Being Denied Aliyah for Four Years, Barbra Streisand’s Cousin Finally Arrives in Israel, Hopes to Stay

JANUARY 26, 2014 9:39 PM 28 COMMENTS
Dale Streisand, his wife and new born child. Photo: Dale Streisand/Facebook.
After a four year battle to be accepted for aliyah, Barbra Streisand’s first cousin, Dale Streisand, arrived in Israel with his family on Thursday, The Algemeiner has learned. Still facing bureaucratic challenges, Streisand told The Algemeiner that he is seeking employment and that he hopes that the Israeli government will let him stay.
Coming from the Philippines, Streisand said he was left without electricity and water for three weeks following last November’s Typhoon Haiyan. The Home in the Homeland blog said that he was able to sell his house to raise funds for his move to Israel just a week before the natural disaster struck.
Upon arrival in Israel along with his wife and three children, the youngest of whom is just two months old, Streisand said that he was detained for an hour before Israeli officials granted him a tourist visa, which he said was in contravention to an agreement he had arrived at with the Interior Ministry after a courtcase in May, 2013.
Initially, Streisand made headlines back in February 2011, when he was first informed by the Jewish Agency that his aliyah request would be deferred to Israel’s Interior Ministry because he was found to have a link on his Facebook profile to a Christian missionary website, bringing his commitment to his Jewish roots into question, Haaretz reported. Under Israel’s Law of Return, people who have converted away from the faith have at times been denied the Jewish right to Israeli citizenship.
“The Jewish Agency, which assists the Interior Ministry in examining the right to immigrate, referred Mr. Streisand to a meeting with representatives of the Interior Ministry, who were not persuaded that he bears the right to immigrate,” the agency said at the time. “It was never claimed that Mr. Streisand is not a Jew by birth. Obviously, an individual’s relationship with Christians does not revoke his right to immigrate.” A Jewish Agency representative did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment on Sunday.
Streisand, who’s Hebrew name is Da’el Yochai, challenged the agency’s decision with the help of a lawyer named Mark Zell, who read about his plight and offered to help. The case made its way to Israel’s Supreme Court and Streisand appeared in person in front of the judges on May 6th, 2013.
“They looked at me and actually checked me out, and so they made a compromise with us,” Streisand said, explaining that it was agreed he would be allowed to come to Israel on an A5 general visa for a period of one year, and then apply for aliyah from within Israel.
“After one year of living in Israel, then we can apply for the aliyah status. We were supposed to have the A5 when we entered but they didn’t do it, they just gave us the tourist visa,” Streisand said. The Interior Ministry’s spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.
“I am a Baal Teshuvah (penitent) and they really didn’t believe it,” Streisand, who spent years following Hare Krishna and dabbling in Eastern spirituality, said, stressing that he is now a fully practicing, committed Jew. I was “searching, but searching the wrong way,” he said. “My whole life I had a quest looking for the supreme truth, for God.”
Now in Israel, Streisand says he is doing his best to make things work. “Hopefully we can make it here, it is a bit of a difficult thing, but we are determined,” he said.
Denied the benefits an aliyah participant would usually receive so far, Streisand has been helped by generous individual Israelis. He is staying in Beitar Ilit, an hour south of Jerusalem, at the home of a rabbi friend. “They have been extremely kind to understand our situation and try to help get us started,” he said.
“We can live and work in Israel,” he said. “We get no benefits, I think in six months we get some type of heath insurance… but there is no ulpan (language coaching) there is no money to help you get started… there are quite a few benefits for aliyah and we don’t get one, we were not even met at the airport by them.”
“It is freezing here. In the Philippines it is very warm always, we didn’t even have warm clothes,” he added.
But Streisand remains optimistic and focused on working to create a new life for his family in the Holy Land.
“We didn’t get the red carpet treatment. We don’t care, you know. That is okay,” he said. “Because we have to kind of fend for ourselves… I definitely need two basic things, I need work, and I need a place to live, I don’t want to be a burden on anyone.”
His preference would be to work as a tour operator or for a tour company, a vocation in which he said he has years of experience. However, he stressed, he is prepared to work wherever he can find employment.
Streisand said his last name may prove to be helpful when it comes to finding work. “That name has always helped me,” he said. Everywhere he goes people ask him about his famous cousin Barbra.
Although his father and the renowned singer’s father are brothers, Dale Streisand doesn’t consider himself to be close to the star. During last year’s Typhoon however, he said he received a surprise phone call.
“Barbra’s agent called me, whom I know since I was a little boy, and somehow he found out through somebody that we were affected, and Barbra asked him to call me to make sure that we are okay,” he said. “I said we are on our way to Israel. He said, mazal tov.”
“It is ironic,” he said, to mark the contrast between the way his cousin, who visited Israel at the end of last year, and he, had been welcomed to the country.
The next steps for Streisand and his family are legal, and he is now awaiting the return of his lawyer from New York to challenge his current tourist status. But his greater interest is spiritual, and he sees his tough journey to Israel as similar to the journeys made by early Israeli pioneers.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I believe that it’s like the pioneers who came here 40 or 50 years ago. They had it really hard here and my wife and I are determined that whatever happens we have to take it the way it is.”
“We are not going to let some bureaucrats ruin our heartfelt desire to live in the land of our forefathers,” he declared.
Explaining what prompted his journey to Israel in the first place, he said his goal was to turn back the tide of assimilation that has strongly impacted his family. “After years of assimilation with my grandparents who came from Europe and then my parents who came to america, they gradually gave up this, they gave up that.”
“I can reverse that by coming here. No matter what happens to me, my children can remain in Israel and their children’s children, so I can reverse generations of assimilation, where they can get good strong Torah (bible) study and life.”
“I just have to go deeper and understand that Hashem (God) has a reason… ultimately I need to learn and gain from this,” he said.