Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement
Grace After Meals
The Birkas Hamazon - Grace After Meals - is a song of gratitude toward the Almighty. Many people think that since we have eaten, we must make a blessing. But actually the opposite is true: The whole purpose of eating is so we should review the concepts found in Birkas Hamazon! Every time you eat, it's a new opportunity to recognize the kindness the Almighty bestows upon you.
Today, after eating a meal, reflect on how wonderful it is that you have food. Imagine the relief and pleasure you would experience if you were stuck someplace for two days without food... and then you had this meal!
Love Yehuda Lave
This Retiree Has Refurbished 2,000 Bikes and Given Them All Away
Former marketing exec has offered rebuilt bicycles to students for the past 20 years By Menachem Posner
CHICAGO—Crouching in his two-car garage in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, Bill "the Bike Man" McGraw is in his element. Bicycles of all sizes and stages of repair lean against the walls, cars and furniture, and even hang from the rafters. He's happily fiddling with the brakes of a half-rebuilt child-sized bicycle.
What began two decades ago as a small favor to some yeshivah students has grown into a full-blown hobby. McGraw is on a mission to get a bike into the hands of anyone who needs one, especially (but not only) fellow members of the Chicago Jewish community.
An avid cyclist and a retired marketing executive, McGraw recalls the day he first noticed the need. "It must have been about 20 years ago, and I saw some students of the Lubavitch Mesivta[high school], which is just a few blocks from my house. They were walking outside with their heavy sefarim [books]. I asked them how they were going to get back to the Mesivta, and they told me they had no choice but to walk. I had some bikes in my garage, and I offered them to the school's administration."
One thing led to another ... and McGraw soon found himself supplying bikes to every yeshivah student and hundreds of other happy recipients.
He gets bikes in varying states of disrepair from a number of sources.
Over the years, the silver-haired McGraw has built connections with several high-rise-building managers, who give him bicycles left by tenants who move on.
On his own early-morning bike rides, he keeps a sharp eye on garbage piles, always on the lookout for bikes that he can restore to usability.
He also gets a steady stream of bicycles from the ubiquitous metal collectors who troll Chicago alleys for resalable scrap materials.
Twenty years after he gave away his first bicycle, McGraw estimates that as many as 2,000 bicycles have passed through his garage.
"I'm not shy, and I get around," says McGraw about how word spread about his penchant for giving away bicycles. "As long as there is a kid in our community who is in need of a bike, I'll be on the lookout for one for him or her."
Administrator of the Mesivta Avraham Hershkovich says "the amazing thing is that Bill never acts like he is doing a favor to us or our students. On the contrary, he is so very happy and grateful for the opportunity to get another person riding. That's something everyone can learn from."
His recipients are not all from the Jewish community. With a working knowledge of Spanish (his mother was Italian), McGraw has given away hundreds of bicycles to recent migrants from Latin America in need of reliable and affordable transportation.
'View All People Equally' For more than 20 years, McGraw has been supplying bikes to every yeshivah student who needs one, as well as hundreds of other happy recipients.
McGraw was born and raised in Spring Valley, Ill., where he had several Jewish neighbors. "I was always curious about Judaism and felt connected to the Jewish people," he says.
"Growing up, I only heard the nicest things about the Jews. My parents taught us to view all people equally, never dividing between anyone. When I asked my mother why some of our neighbors worshipped separately, she simply explained, 'They want to pray in a different place.' "
Despite there being no evidence of Judaism in his family's past, McGraw says there may have been some subtle hints. His mother never served pork at home and baked fresh bread every Friday, traditions she brought from her hometown of Venasca in northwestern Italy.
After serving in the U.S. Army as a cryptographer between 1963 and 1966, he returned to Illinois to further his education and earned a degree in communications at SIU in Carbondale.
After a stint with a Reform congregation in Evanston, he converted to Judaism under the cRc (Chicago Rabbinical Council) and raised a Jewish family with his wife, Gail (Golda Gita), whom he married in 1977.
A longtime resident of West Rogers Park, he is fully engaged in all areas of Jewish life.
"I've worked since I was 12 years old, raised my kids and traveled a lot," reflects McGraw, who regularly attends minyan and volunteers at a host of organizations, including an English school for recently arrived adults from Spanish-speaking countries. "My wife tells me that if this is what gives me nachas ["satisfaction" or "joy"], then I should continue to do it, and she's right."
Yehudah Katz Concert–mystical tunes on 'Longing for Jerusalem', plus a Ma'ale film commemorating the 17th of Tammuz
. Third in a series exploring Israeli society through art, film and music. Thursday, July 18 at 8 PM. Free. Kol HaOt Center, Hutzot HaYotzer Artists' Colony, Studio #9.
What Happens to Your Debt When You Die
Know what you owe and what you don't by Jane Bryant Quinn, AARP Bulletin
Almost everyone dies owing at least some debt. Sometimes it's only last month's ordinary bills plus final medical expenses. But there can be shocking surprises for survivors — debts unknown to the children and even to the spouse of the deceased. Heirs might discover large credit card balances, undisclosed home equity loans or gambling debts.
Creditors are entitled to payment, from the money and property (the "estate") that your loved one left behind. But what if he or she didn't leave enough to get everyone repaid? Can the creditors come after you?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
With loans secured by property, such as mortgages, an heir has to keep up the monthly payments or else sell the property to cover the debt. Unsecured loans, such as credit card debt and student loans, are another matter. Your liability depends very much on the nature of the bill, the type of property and your state's laws. But here's what I can say, generally.
Some money is protected. At death, unsecured creditors cannot collect from life insurance payments, pay-on-death bank or brokerage accounts, jointly held property that passes directly to the surviving owner, or retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs that have named beneficiaries, says IRA expert Ed Slott of IRAhelp.com. They're safe — but only if they were handled right. By "right," I mean that the deceased filled out a beneficiary form for each account, naming the people who were to inherit. If this step was skipped, the funds will be paid into the estate, where they can be used to satisfy the creditors.
Your signature matters. If you signed a joint application for a credit card, you owe the balance even if you didn't know how high it had grown. If you were merely an "authorized user," however, most states don't require you to pay. (Note that authorized users shouldn't use the card after the owner dies if the estate is broke. Such spending could be considered fraud.) Spouses are generally not liable for any separate debts their mate incurred before the wedding or, in most cases, after. Rules in community property states, such as Texas and California, are different. Your community property can generally be tapped to pay a spouse's debts. But creditors can't take your separate property, says Cathy Moran, an attorney in Mountain View, Calif. In any state, you'll still owe any private debt you cosigned with the deceased, such as a student loan. Some private student lenders will forgive the loan, but most won't.
You have to pay the doctor. Final medical bills are usually considered a spouse's responsibility. If your mate entered a hospital, the admission papers you signed probably included a payment agreement. When there's no money, however, and the survivor has very little income, health providers might write off the account.
Get tough. Don't be talked into making a few payments on bills you do not owe. Creditors might claim that you willingly assumed the debt. Tell them, "No, no, never." You know your rights.
Herzl Center presents collecting the dream
"I will build an altar from the broken fragments of my heart."
"I will build an altar from the broken fragments of my heart." — Rabbi Yehuda HaChasid, a Polish rabbi who, with a group of followers, moved to Jerusalem in 1700.
I think togetherness is a very important ingredient to family life. Barbara Bush The First Lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993 as the wife of George H. W. Bush, who served as the 41st President of the United States, and founder of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy
Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. David Ogden Stiers actor
My siblings are my best friends. America Ferrera Actress
The oldest sibling always knows things that the younger ones don't. Mike Mills music video director
Sometimes siblings can get in each other's space. Gisele Bundchen model and actress. Since 2004, Bündchen has been among the highest-paid models in the world, and as of 2007 was the 16th richest woman in the entertainment industry.
In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future. Alex Haley writer
I know a lot of people who've lost their siblings and blame themselves. Kelsey Grammer actor
We all have competitive relationships with our siblings. John Benjamin
The family is one of nature's masterpieces. George Santayana Philosopher
There's something unnatural about losing a sibling when they're young. Carlene Carter singer-songwriter
Siblings are often very opposite. Alycia Debnam-Carey actress
Whether it be with your parents or your siblings, everyone is dealing with different kinds of things. Justin Hartley actor
When you have a lot of siblings, you always do something to feel special. Lee Daniels film writer
Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor. Marge Kennedy novelist and playwright.
I would ask my parents something, but then go to my siblings. We were encouraged to bounce ideas off everyone. Ahmet Zappa musician and writer, and executor of the Zappa Family Trust.
Sibling relationships figure in a lot of my books. You don't often see relationships between adult siblings explored in fiction. Dara Horn novelist
There's something about the kind of unconditional wild joy of creating that you have with your siblings that I am always trying to get back to. Jill Soloway television creator, showrunner, director and writer.
You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. Desmond Tutu, anti-apartheid and human rights activist