With university commencement season upon us, assorted pundits are appearing on local campuses to offer their self-help spiels. In reality, some of the best advice for graduates comes from our own Jewish wisdom. So in the spirit of America’s sound-bite culture and Hillel’s famous feat of summing up the Torah in one sentence (“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor”), JInsider offers some concise bits of Jewish wisdom in this week’s column. Here’s a taste on how to find one’s own purpose:
The Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, brought 30 of his troops with him when he came to New York in March. He introduced his Dream Team at a Friends of the IDF fundraising dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria, which was emceed by syndicated radio host Monica Crowley.
“Shalom, y’all,” said Daniel, one of the Dream Team members.
Elad Wassie was working in Netanya’s open-air vegetable market when a suicide bomber detonated a shrapnel-laden explosive nearly three years ago. Wassie awoke in the hospital to learn that a nail lodged in his spine had paralyzed him from the waist down. He refused to utter a word for nearly two months.“I needed time to absorb what happened to me and decide what I was going to do with my life,” said Wassie, 28, who emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel via Sudan in 1985.
Jerusalem — Determined to continue to play a central role in aliyah at a time when the number of immigrants coming to the country is declining dramatically and as private immigration organizations like Nefesh B’Nefesh are expanding their activities and boasting their successes, the Jewish Agency for Israel will soon unveil a “flex aliyah” program for potential olim who do not necessarily want to live in Israel full time.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is preparing to return to Ethiopia, just four months after it virtually shut down its operations in the African nation at the request of the Israeli government. Reports of death, illness and impoverished conditions among the thousands of Ethiopians who have flooded into the capital city of Addis Ababa and Gondar City prompted the move by the relief agency.
A woman of biblical beauty, a dark-eyed Ethiopian gazing directly at the camera, appears on the cover of a new book of photographs, “Transformations: From Ethiopia to Israel” by Ricki Rosen, (Reality Check Productions). She’s wearing white embroidered robes, her hair covered with a kerchief. Flip to the back cover and fast forward 13 years, and the woman, with the hint of a smile, is dressed fashionably in an orange sweater, her hair falling loosely in tiny braids.
Winding her way through the rustic streets of Rome, a young Israeli student enters the pillared halls of La Sapienza University, where she will learn about viruses, participate in gross anatomy and study clinical procedure — all in a foreign language.
Hilla Werner-Zafrani, 29, is a third-year medical school student at La Sapienza, where she is training to become an oncologist. Originally from a poor Moroccan family of 10 children, she grew up enduring constant ethnic discrimination and financial burdens in Israel.
Sisat Igzao was a miracle baby. His twin sister was born healthy, but he wasn’t breathing when he left his mother’s womb. The doctors in Ethiopia pronounced him dead. But then his little mouth let out a struggled whimper in protest. His overjoyed parents named him Sisat, which means, “to give”; God had given their son a second chance.
Yet if you speak to Sisat, he’ll tell you that his true second lease on life began more recently — when he started selling billboards.
A bit of back story, first.