TorahMates Partners Learn From One Another

Two women

There is an old saying: if you want something done, ask a busy person.

That would describe Chumi, a mother of six children ranging in age from one to 13 who also has a fulltime job as a nurse. And, by the way, she’s enrolled in a master’s program.

But even with so much on her plate, Chumi had a deep desire to give more. So she signed up for Oorah’s TorahMates program. She and a woman she had never met, Anneil, began having weekly phone conversations, discussing the concept of emunah (faith) and studying texts on the subject.

Chumi wasn’t even expecting to benefit from the mentoring experience herself. She just wanted to give to someone who needed her. But, to her surprise, she has ended up learning as much from Anneil as Anneil is learning from her.

“I never thought in a million years it would turn out this way,” says Chumi. “The fact that we study emunah really it brought it to life. I thought I was stronger in emunah before, but I have learned so much.”

Chumi says that Anneil has recommended online lecturers that Chum listens to regularly and describes as “life changing.”

Fast forward two years, the two women have developed a deep relationship over and beyond their learning experience. Although they have never met in person, Chumi says they text and email almost every day.

“It was definitely a personality match.  We’ve become very close. It is more than just the learning,” she adds.

We often hear that mentors receive as much as they give. But until we spoke with Chumi, we didn’t know how true that is.

“I didn’t think I would get anything out of it,” admits Chumi. “I was very altruistic. I wanted to be a giver. But I have learned so much from her.”


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!

From a Thankful Parent

I would like to humbly thank those making the decision to have granted {our daughter} a scholarship the last three years. My husband and I have watched our daughter blossom into a fine young Jewish woman with the morals and priorities any parent could ask for. She is a sponge to Torah learning and loves her life as a …. student. She participates in religious and secular and extra-curricular activities and we couldn’t be more proud. The friends she has chose are of the same cloth and she is now immersed in a world of Torah life. We are very grateful to Oorah because if not for Oorah’s financial help we would not be close to being able to afford the very costly tuition of Jewish high school. {She} is a child/young lady who is growing in her Yiddishkeit with every fiber of her body and soul………… We each continue to learn and it has all been so wonderful for our family as a whole.

Age Shouldn’t Make a Difference!

TorahMates coordinators always question whether they should set up a volunteer with someone old enough to be their mother- or grandmother?

They decided to try it 5 years ago when they set Ruchi and Barbara up. They are still in touch, learning and very close- as you can see from the email below.

“…bh all is great.. she is like my my kids third Bobby these days.. we talk often.. I am making bar mitzvah soon and she and her husband are flying in iyh. I get to see her on my vacations when I go to its really sweet.”

Just goes to show if it’s a match- age shouldn’t make a difference!