Fiveish Dresses Up for Purim

So, how do you think Fiveish should dress up this Purim? What’s your favorite costume?bling Fiveish

bozo Fiveish








To Guys in Shidduchim: We Have Tips for You Too!

shadchanus mainFollowing a humorous Simcha Spot post with tips to girls in shidduchim, here’s our tips  to the guys:

  1. We don’t actually believe in the shidduch crisis. Especially the one out of ten part.
  2. You can borrow your roommate’s car, but don’t leave his stuff on the back seat. It’s not polite. And we notice.
  3. Contrary to popular belief, we hate hotel lobbies! There, we said it.
  4. Don’t comment about our heels. We don’t actually like teetering all night
  5. It’s not our makeup-its natural 😉
  6. We get sprite not because we like it, but because it won’t stain our (usually) light clothes. Black is so last decade.
  7. So sometimes girls are on diets. It’s to please your mothers. It’s how we went out in the first place.
  8. We want to speak up, we’re just so overawed by what you just said that we’re speechless :eye roll:
  9. It’s hard to carry on a conversation while watching you dodge obstacles. This is not an arcade racing game, no matter how desperate you are to get home.
  10.  Girls at good at everything. And we’re not kidding 😉

This has been endorsed by the Oorah Auction shadchan gelt prize coordinators, in our ongoing efforts to help girls in their quest to find their bashert b’karov b’mheira b’yameino amen selah!

If this doesn’t make your heart melt, nothing will

This weekend, TheZone will be hosting hundreds of children and families for the annual Chanukah ShabbaZone. Our camp department is working overtime preparing for the event and fielding the many phone calls and applications coming in.

This email, received just this morning, stood out from all the rest:

“I’m sorry to bother you but I just got my Chanukah money today… and I look up the zone website to sign up and see that you are not accepting anymore boys to your shabbaton. If you can please give me a chance to pay you, it would be an honor to go to a huge shabbaton like this one. Any answer will suit me but just please respond as soon as possible so I would know if I need to buy meat for Shabbat so I can cook. Thank you… hag sameach.”

How could we say no to a request like that?

Oorah Makes Legal Headlines

For those of you following the latest happenings in the legal world, specifically in the super-exciting world of tax law, you might have noticed that our very own, beloved Oorah was in the headlines!

But if you were in a cave somewhere and somehow missed this huge piece of news, we’ll try to summarize what happened, and how this development might apply to you.

It all started a long time ago when Oorah acquired the property of 1785 Swarthmore in Lakewood, NJ. Now, instead of owning the property outright, it was decided at the time to form a legal entity called a limited-liability company, or LLC, a fairly standard procedure. They gave the LLC the really clever name of 1785 Swarthmore LLC (not everyone was invited to the meeting where they came up with this – our apologies), and then they transferred the property to this entity.

Now, an LLC has two advantages. One is, as the name implies, the owners have no personal liability for the company. So, if the LLC ends up owing a lot of money, the owners are not personally liable for the debt.

The second advantage is really cool, and seems like something straight out of a science fiction novel. When it comes to taxes – make sure you’re sitting down – the LLC is invisible. Yes, you read that correctly. As far as tax law goes, the LLC is a disregarded entity, meaning, essentially, that the IRS cannot see 1785 Swarthmore LLC!

The owner of the LLC is visible, and that’s who pays the taxes. However, only the owner is taxed for the LLC’s income. As far as the IRS is concerned, the LLC doesn’t exist. (Unfortunately, that seems to be as far as it goes with the invisibility thing. But it’s still cool!)

Back to our story. Despite this legal setup, the taxman cometh anyway. The township of Lakewood wanted Oorah to pay property taxes for the site.

Oorah’s talented attorneys immediately replied that Oorah is a non-profit enterprise, and the property, which was being leased to the Lakewood Cheder School, was being used for a tax-exempt purpose. According to the law, this would exempt the property from taxes.

Yes, answered the township. But Oorah doesn’t own the property. 1785 Swarthmore LLC does!

Oorah countered that it is the owner of 1785 Swarthmore LLC. In fact, 1785 Swarthmore LLC is invisible, so the only owner of the property that can be seen is Oorah.

While the court appreciated the feat of making 1785 invisible, it ruled that it was invisible only to the IRS.  But as far as everyone else was concerned, especially the township, 1785 was in plain sight, and is seen as the owner of the property.

Oorah good-naturedly conceded the case, and Oorah’s legal advisor, Ben Turin, even admitted learning something from the ordeal!

So what can we learn from this story? It boils down to this: if you run a not-for-profit enterprise, don’t assume that any LLCs your non-profit controls will be considered non-profit by the government! So any schools, synagogues, and the like should consult competent legal advisers before putting any properties in an LLC.

TL;DR Oorah lost its tax exemption on a property it owned, despite being a nonprofit and using the building for nonprofit use, because of a legal technicality.

Oorah’s “Ask the Rabbi”

Once a week, the founder and spiritual leader of Oorah, Rabbi Chaim Mintz, gives a class on Jewish topics at Oorah. As part of the class he fields questions presented by the audience or sent via email on all Judaism related topics. We present a synopsis of a question and answer in last week’s class.

In Judaism, the most special, sacred day of the year comes around every week. We’re talking of course about Shabbat, the Sabbath.

On Shabbat, we sanctify the day in many ways. We have Shabbat meals, say Shabbat prayers, and sing Shabbat songs.

Being a day of rest, we also abstain from “work” which is defined as 39 specific activities, obviously a bit much to elaborate on here! Included among the forbidden categories of work is turning lights on and off, and this includes operating any sort of electronic device.

However, there’s no problem in turning something on before Shabbat and leaving it on until the end of Shabbat.

The questioner wanted to know if it was permitted to set a timer on a television before Shabbat and be able to watch the World Series.

Rabbi Mintz’s answer was that the issue is nuanced. Technically, there is no prohibition in doing so, since no forbidden activity is involved.

But, Shabbat is so much more than the “do nots”. We have to treat Shabbat as the most special day that it is. Since it is so holy, we can’t treat it as just another day, just part of the “weekend”. Therefore, we also are commanded to focus our speech and even our thoughts on the sanctity of the day. This means that we abstain from everyday activities. By focusing on special activities like going to the synagogue, singing Shabbat songs, and studying Torah, we can feel the sanctity of Shabbat.

In this respect then, it would not be advisable to watch an athletic event on television on Shabbat. Even though one is technically not violating any laws of Shabbat by doing so, he is simply missing the whole point!

Oorah Receives Gift of 20 Paintings From the Artist

Recently, Oorah was the recipient of an unusual gift: a collection of some 20 paintings. These painting were donated by the artist Barbara Green of Catskill, New York.

The paintings are done in Mrs. Green’s unique style, focusing on two historical themes: the Spanish Inquisition and Biblical figures. Typically, the painting features a portrait of an historical figure, with symbolic clues as to what the painting is telling us.


Queen Isabella of Spain

Barbara paints professionally, and mainly does commissioned portraits. She also did a series on boxer portraits – as in the pugilist sport. These paintings are quite popular, and one is even hanging in the home of the famous boxer, Mike Tyson!

But her husband Gene, also an artist, was a college art teacher who also volunteered in local prisons. When he began teaching inmates about the Holocaust, Barbara created ten posters on the subject.


King Ferdinand

They also brought paintings to the junior college where Gene worked. In order to “bait” the students to view the pictures, Barbara painted circus themed paintings as a metaphor for the Holocaust. Gene actually overheard one student telling another, “Let’s go see the circus paintings!”

The paintings went on display in several locations, including a six-month stint in Glen Cove, NY.

Then Barbara, always a reader, came across the term “Marrano.” This spurred her to start researching the Spanish Inquisition, and eventually her Spanish Inquisition series was born.


5252 is the date of the Spanish Expulsion on the Jewish calendar.

When they showed slides of her work to Hebrew Union College, the college told them it was the perfect time, as they were having an exhibit on the 500th anniversary of the Spanish expulsion in 1492. She thus found a forum where her series would be able to be widely viewed.


When asked about her influences, Barbara cites mainly late 19th century American artists, like John Singer Sargent and Thomas Eakins. Being a realistic painter, she also points to classic painters such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio.

After starting to study with a TorahMate from Oorah, her painting changed in small but significant ways.

“Oorah has changed the way I think. It really gave me a new point of view,” Barbara says.

Barbara’s recent donation of 20 paintings was her way of thanking Oorah for adding so much to her life. Oorah is very grateful in turn to Barbara Green for enriching us with her participation in the TorahMates program and for her beautiful paintings!

A Vow Twice Kept

A Vow Twice KeptOur senior account specialist was hard at work calling sponsors past to see if they’d be willing to help sponsor Oorah’s upcoming 2016 auction. She reached one fellow, made her request, and received an unexpected response: He’d be happy to help sponsor this coming Oorah auction, but not until he keeps the neder he made to someone in the Oorah office, this past June.

Now, in case you don’t know, a neder is a vow. And it’s serious stuff. If you make a neder, there’s no getting out of it.

That’s why, most of the time, when people make promises, they end the promise with the words: bli neder, to specify that they’re not making a vow. They do that because you never know what’s going to happen in the future and who knows—maybe something will come up to keep you from keeping that vow. It’s better to be on the safe side and say that your promise is not to be understood as an actual neder.

But this neder, the one this anonymous Oorah sponsor made, was an important one. His father, you see, had been in Auschwitz. Not only was he in Auschwitz, but he was there from the very beginning of the Holocaust.

Arbeit Macht Frei

It is an absolute miracle that any Jew survived the Hell that was Auschwitz, with its starvation diet, rampant disease, hard labor, and torture. But to think that someone survived all that for years on end, is a miracle beyond all miracles.

After Liberation, this man’s father found he was the only person in his family to have survived the war. Moreover, he discovered, the entire Jewish population of the town he came from in Poland, had been completely wiped out. Eviscerated.

He was the sole survivor of his family and of his town. And he was a miracle. As the sole representative of his line and of his town, he remained absolutely and completely frum. Hitler, may his name and memory be erased (yemach shmo) would not have the victory of robbing this Jew of his faith. He had survived for a reason and would not stain the name of his family or the town he came from by leaving his faith by the wayside.

He stayed frum and he was lucky enough to have a son. This son, too, was a faithful Yid, a frum Jew all his life, like his father, and the only frum male to represent his line. This was the sponsor who made the neder, the sponsor our senior account specialist had phoned.  He’d made a neder to Oorah that if any grandsons are born to him, he will give Oorah money to pay for a bris (circumcision) ceremony for an Oorah family.

Bris Mila

And yes! The man was blessed with a grandson last June. Thrilled with this blessing, this continuation of his line, a line of faithful Yidden, they and their faith surviving even through the brimstone of the Holocaust, he called Oorah and arranged to pay for one bris for one Oorah family.

Just as he’d promised.

He’d kept the neder.

Or so he’d thought.

But as it turns out, he wasn’t done yet. Something happened. He received another gift from Hashem, the gift of a second grandson, against all odds. Another miracle.


As such, the man came to the conclusion that he had not yet fulfilled his neder! He’d vowed to pay for the bris of an Oorah family if only he’d have a grandson and you see, it had happened AGAIN, when he’d thought it never would, the first time around.

How happy he was to continue his line, to have more frum males in the family, and so he asked if he might pay for another bris for another Oorah family.

The only caveat? That Oorah makes sure the Oorah representative he spoke to last June is informed that the neder has been kept. “Now that we’ve taken care of that,” he told the senior account specialist, “We can talk about me sponsoring Oorah’s 2016 auction.”

That is what he said, at any rate, and we, those of us at Oorah, would tend to believe him.

Being that he is a man who keeps his word.