Many executors have learned the hard way that they are not off the hook for mistakes just because they rely on the counsel of attorneys, accountants or other professional advisers.
Steve Kaplan had just finished sitting shiva for his mother when he was dealt another blow: He had been written out of her will.
Too-frequent weigh-ins can sabotage any diet efforts, because a woman's weight is a mysterious, jumpy, undependable thing that does not follow any known laws of nature. Over-weighing would lead to stress. Stress would slow down my metabolism, which was already prone to sleeping in late.
Laura has never spoken a word, but she can coo, laugh, sigh and cry. At her best, she has taken steps with the help of a walker. She has a thin body with a smallish, sweet face framed by dark-brown hair. She gets 24-hour home care, with three rotating nurses monitoring her breathing and other vital signs.
Oh yeah, and she loves to smile.
This week's Torah portion contains a story that most of us skipped in Hebrew school -- the story of Dina.
I reached back to cover the asparagus fern I had placed just behind the front seat. (At that time I was told no out-of-state plants were allowed.) The car swerved, ran over the embankment and careened down a ditch at top speed.
All age groups seem to want the same thing: a soulmate, a soft shoulder to lean on occasionally, companionship for dinner in or out, theater, movies, and travel. I still enjoy cooking (and I'm good at it). I'm not too old for cuddling and hugging, and I happen to enjoy it.
We look back on the past because it was another era. In our youth and young years, life included activities you chose. Your responsibilities were minimal compared to those as you grew older. Being young and thinking young allowed you to exist in a world that is the start of the middle age.
Goldberg recently won the Anti-Defamation League's Daniel Pearl Award and goes so far as to suggest that being Jewish has benefited him in his dealings with terrorists.
From a military perspective, there can be absolutely no doubt as to the results of Hezbollah and Iran's offensive against Israel. It was a defeat. Every part of their war plan, except the manipulation of the media, failed.
Skateboarding runs in the Tashman family, although not on the paternal side. His mother, who also grew up religious, skateboarded when she was a kid. She was sponsored by a local Velcro company. "She took her old roller skates and nailed them to a two-by-four for her first skateboards," Tashman said. Since he was 3 years old, "she would attach me to my skateboard and pull me down hills and our neighbor's empty swimming pool," he said. "She always wanted me to be a cantor, though."
Olmert's perceived blunders have given the Israeli right a new lease on life. They believe the war has dealt a lethal blow to Olmert's plans for a major unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank.
The former army intelligence officer with an easy smile was busy as the face of Israel's foreign media outreach, giving more than 80 interviews to international media networks and newspapers during the war.
The giving has special meaning for Jews who not long ago enjoyed the umbrella of protection Israel offered them while living in Iran. Now, they feel a sense of duty to support Israel at a time when it is being threatened by Iran.
Ben Caspit proposes the text for a speech by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that would explain to the world exactly what Israel is fighting for.
It is the small things that merit the blessings. It is the "heel" commandments, the acts we forget about, that can change lives and bring holiness into our world.
Elliott Yamin is on the summer road trip of his life, but it's no vacation. The second runner-up on the most recent "American Idol" has been performing as part of the "American Idols Live Tour 2006" since early July.
With our children as our inspiration and the news of Katyusha attacks getting worse, despite the heroic efforts of the Israel Defense Forces, my husband, Rabbi Joel Zeff, and I decided we needed to do whatever we could to help, even if just a little.
It's been two years this week since my mother, Betty Switkes, died, and we still haven't had the unveiling. Jewish custom dictates that you unveil the headstone a year after the person dies, but my father has not found the right stone or the right words to inscribe on that stone, so she rests in this unmarked grave. People who pass by this spot might suspect the person buried here is a forgotten soul, but nothing could be further from the truth. She is the focus of his obsession.
It was July 12, 1984, my first day on the Ketziot basic training base, my new "home" as an IDF soldier in the Givati Infantry Brigade. One by one, we were issued what was then the standard IDF infantry weapon, the Israeli-made Galil rifle.
Like most camps, Hess Kramer, has a staff of Israelis who work as counselors and educators. This summer, 1,400 Israelis, most of them between the ages of 19 and 22, are staffing 200 Jewish day and sleep-away camps, according the Jewish Agency, which coordinates the stays.
The attacks on Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas represent nothing less than the latest step in radical Islam's quest for world domination, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Standing up to the threat, whether on the frontlines of Israel or the streets of Los Angeles, is a needed challenge to the forces of darkness.
Leaving Gaza also made sense morally, said Daniel Sokatch, executive director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance.
"For Israel to remain a democratic and Jewish state, it cannot occupy and control millions of Palestinians indefinitely," he said.
"I have been told not to touch the Torah and to go back to my own religion" she relayed to me matter-of-factly.
"Wasn't there anyone you could confide in?" I asked.
"I could confide in some more than others, but when it came down to it, no one really cared whether I converted or not."
Kodlawsky said her goal was to tell Thiranagama's story vividly; in a way, it reminded her of those late-night discussions over cigarettes and coffee. Her mother's friends often spoke of how Kodlawsky's mother risked death to smuggle food to others at Bergen-Belsen.
Years of Kassam rocket fire at Sderot have shattered the sense of normalcy in this desert town. The fire has become so intense in recent weeks -- often three or four rockets a day -- that daily life here has come to a virtual standstill.
One day last year Rabbi Levi Meier, the Jewish chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, was summoned to the room of an elderly Russian man in the ICU who had cancer.
He was in poor spirits, so Meier decided to bring in the Torah from the chaplaincy ark. The patient's eyes lit up at the sight of the Torah that Meier, and volunteer Sandy Gordon, brought into a room.
More than 80 studio executives, producers, directors, lawyers, agents, distributors and rabbis all enjoyed a Shabbat dinner together in the south of France. For some, Shabbat was a new experience. For others, a weekly ritual. Still for others, it was simply another networking event.
The association of Darfur with the Shoah is a natural one for us. When we hear phrases such as "ethnic cleansing" and "relocation," we know all too well what these euphemisms are concealing; the organized destruction of a people.
I worry about children who are told they must get every answer correct. I worry about kids told there's no room for second best. I worry about the child who must always be the star. If we demand success each time, and leave no room for failure, our children's dreams will shrink to fit their certainties. They will play it safe and never try too hard, never reach too far, never put too much of themselves into any pursuit. It is entirely possible to exalt the mind while crushing the soul.
I have spent my career making visible things that are often carried silently inside. To wear a wig, so that the world would not know that I have cancer and to protect those who see me from the reality of my illness, would betray my work and my values.
The situation is extraordinarily complicated. Human rights groups say the rebels are also responsible for abuses, including looting humanitarian aid convoys. Chadian bandits encouraged by Sudan's actions also prey on the tribal population. Still, if the Sudanese government could be taken to task and forced to stop the abuses, most would stop.
The French government has responded to anti-Semitic acts with forthrightness: harsher penalties, better coordination with prosecutors, widespread educational reforms, a crackdown on hate-spewing Iranian and Arab media and ongoing public statements from the president on down.
Almost from the time she was born in 1941 in Milhars, Kaufman had to be invisible, she recounted. Her parents had come from Poland, where they had suffered under Nazi oppression.
Sixteen years ago this month; Jeff Bernhardt came out of the closet to his family, to free himself from the bondage of keeping this huge and personal part of him from them.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's first state-of-the-city speech is likely to put bone and muscle on his school takeover pitch which, up till now, nearly a year into his term, has been theoretical and short on specifics. If Villaraigosa delivers what people all over town have been waiting for, a slew of interest groups will know where they stand and will begin to respond accordingly.
In the Passover haggadah, we read of the 10 Plagues that God sent to convince Pharoah to let the Hebrew slaves go free. The plagues -- bloody, violent, magical -- are a dramatic highpoint of the narrative. Mindful of the pain these plagues brought even to innocent Egyptians, Jews have traditionally spilled out a drop of their festive seder wine at the recitation of each plague.
As a new party, Kadima has not yet organized an American support group, but Handelsman predicted the establishment of such an organization in the next two years.
The aim of the conference is to make a positive contribution toward resolving religious conflict wherever it arises. According to the Jewish representative of Moroccan King Mohammed VI, Andre Azoulay, "the word of God has been kidnapped." He added that it's no longer enough for religious representatives to watch from the sidelines as religion is used by those who preach hatred.
The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza last summer, and Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's pledge to withdraw from isolated settlements like Avne Hefetz by 2010, haunts the settler community.
The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival runs April 1-6 at a variety of venues around town. Below are the reviews for two of the films.
The elections, the first since Ariel Sharon's abrupt departure from the Israeli political scene, were seen in large part as a referendum on the withdrawal proposal.
As is often the case in Israeli politics, there were surprises.
My act of civil disobedience -- refusing to consume the flesh of once-living, breathing animals -- has virtually no effect, perhaps none whatsoever. Agribusiness decides far in advance how many cows to raise and then slaughter without regard to my individual case.
Today, contentious issues and tough questions persist. Aside from continuing enmity over the election, residents are battling in court over the construction of a synagogue on a busy residential street. And an Orthodox school and its neighbors are testing just how far they can push each other.
I really wanted to reach out to my uncle to wish him a happy birthday, but I didn't have his phone number or his address. If I did, I'd certainly call him or visit him, and certainly I would have mailed him a card. To be honest, I am embarrassed to admit this, but I actually don't know where he really is now, and perhaps you could help me find him.
"In the beginning, I didn't want to go to Jerusalem because I was scared of the journey," confessed Shirva Goyto'om, one of the lone Jews remaining in the province. Shirva lives in a small town about 30 miles west of the city of Shire, which itself has but one paved road.
"The Federation improved our lives," said Khananashvili, now a 48-year-old social worker and Beverly Hills resident. "They gave us our start here and protected us under their shield. We're very grateful."
A voice expert known for coaching singers and nonsingers, and working with deaf and autistic students and contestants for TV shows like "Extreme Makeover" and "American Idol," Coury is unique and considered "revolutionary."
I became one of Wendy's regular I-should-be-writing-but-let's-meet-for-coffee-instead dates. It was a blast to help Wendy procrastinate. We shopped, gossiped and swore to get thin together. We went to each other's openings. I was her date for award ceremonies and multiple engagements where, in her words, "I'm speaking to the Jews."
Let's face it. Every marriage between two Jews is an intermarriage. I'm not talking about the obvious ones, like a marriage between an Orthodox Jew and a Jew-by-birth who is not at all religious. Clearly if one spouse davens three times a day and the other spouse uses Mapquest to find her way to synagogue on Yom Kippur, a silver anniversary is not in their future. I'm talking about the rest of us.
At Temple Beth Israel, the planting project, which is being done in phases with funding and physical assistance from a Jewish environmental group, has transformed congregants' preconceived notions of drab native plants.
Thanks to Valerie, two best friends were reunited after more than three decades apart. More importantly, Glenn and Val had found each other. Their love was intoxicating, with family and friends commenting how happy each was to have found his/her soul mate.
This tour is no typical high school field trip, with its predictable mix of unruly, disinterested teenagers. These students are here mainly because their school, Jefferson High, became a flash point last year for fights between Latino and African American students. The overcrowded, underperforming campus in South Los Angeles was 92 percent Latino, 7.5 percent black and, seemingly on a handful of occasions, nearly 100 percent out of control.
Martin Scorsese has famously influenced a whole generation of American filmmakers, from Abel Ferrara and Quentin Tarantino to Rob Weiss and Nick Gomez. But his influence is not limited to filmmakers in this country.
With a gift for diction, Kadosh explores the cultural absurdities and political hypocrisies of America, dedicating one spoken-word poem to SUVs, and another to the cheese at the heart of America.
Post-Bar Mitzvah Stress Disorder (PBMSD) usually follows a case of Pre-Bar Mitzvah Stress Disorder. This is characterized by speed-dialing your caterer several times daily until you actually hear him chewing antacids while you speak; zipping around so frantically from errand to errand that you have no time to eat anything other than large brownies in the car (perversely, this still causes weight gain), and bursting into tears with no warning because your little boy is no longer a little boy but a newly minted teen who has the audacity to catapult into puberty before your very eyes.
That volunteer work is vast. She served as the sisterhood president of Temple Israel of Hollywood and currently co-chairs its AIDS lunch project, which distributes food once a month. Gilman is also social action chair for the Western Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, which presents the women's positions on legislative policy.
There are so many issues and problems in the world. How does one know what to focus on? Why do we, in the United States, need to worry about this faraway region of Africa, which is just part of a larger continent of peoples who also need our money and support?