The Gantseh Megillah

100 Years
July 1, 2001

"I'm gonna live to be 100!" This is a statement I have heard many times in my life, and there is certainly nothing wrong with such a goal. The sad truth is however, that the vast majority of us simply never quite make it. Most of us do not even have the opportunity of meeting someone who HAS achieved that elusive century mark. I am pleased to report that I was honored to attend the 100th birthday party of a quite remarkable woman.

Helen Mosher Barben is the great aunt of my partner Arnold. I have been personally acquainted with her for the past 20 years. In that time I have come to love her as my own family. On July 17th we attended a huge birthday party held in her honor along with 231 other people who came to show their respect for a lady who has devoted so much of her life to helping others. As I watched the long line of people waiting their turn to say hello to Helen, while she sat in a comfy arm chair greeting her guests individually I began to think about the story I heard about the very day she was born.

Helen was the product of a home birth on July 17th 1901. In those days women did not necessarily check into fancy, comfortable hospitals in order to bring their babies into the world. Unfortunately the delivery did not go well, and it became a choice of either saving the mother or the child. The decision was made to put all efforts into saving the life of the mother at which point the newly born, frail infant was wrapped in a blanket and placed at the side of the room where it was assumed she had died. Thankfully, Helen's mother was rescued and stabilized when all of a sudden a very soft, stifled cry was heard from the corner where the baby lay. Helen fooled them all and survived the entire ordeal on her own. This frail, tiny almost lifeless infant who was given up for dead, was having no part of that gloom and doom scenario and found the strength to not only hold onto life until the doctor could attend to her, but to grow into a most extraordinary human being who has survived and flourished for over a century. In many people's eyes, this is a miracle. At the very least, it demonstrates what an indomitable spirit can accomplish if nurtured and allowed to flourish.

This concept is also applicable to the situation in the Middle East. Many of us are becoming alarmed that the chance for peace between Israel and her neighbours is so small and fragile that it has virtually no chance of survival. There are those who would simply take the chance for peace and toss it in the corner assuming it to be dead. What a mistake that would be! While it is true that the situation does not look particularly hopeful at the moment, and the killing continues all around the area, there are still those who are willing to try and save the "infant." It seems that no matter how hopeless the prospects appear to be, there are people who believe peace can be attained and who are willing to work and struggle towards that elusive goal. That is what keeps the hope for peace and the possibility of attaining it alive. Just as the doctor who noticed a bit of life remaining in the frail infant named Helen Barben 100 years ago worked his hardest to nurture the baby to a full life, there are individuals who are willing to continue working on the infant "peace" with the hopes of allowing "it" to grow and mature. Is all of this work worth the effort? Just ask anyone who has had the privilege of knowing Helen Mosher Barben what they think.

Last month I instituted a brand new voluntary contribution policy in order to help defray my continued out of pocket expenses in maintaining the Megillah, the glossary and other related projects for this community. I am thrilled and grateful to report that even though this is the height of the summer vacation season and many of our Megillah family members are away, contributions have started to arrive. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has sent in a contribution for their kindness and generosity. It is my great pleasure to produce and publish The Gantseh Megillah each and every month and to update and maintain the growing list of words and expressions in our glossary. I am also happy to respond to the questions I receive via email as well as to make available the discussion forum that is affiliated with the newsletter. Each and every donation is put into a fund that assists me in paying for all of these efforts. I wish it was possible to continue supporting these projects totally out of my own pocket as I have done in the past, but expenses have grown along with the times. If you can afford to help with a donation, it would be greatly appreciated. Kindly click on the "Tzedakeh Box" and a window will pop up with the necessary information. If you are unable to do so, I understand that as well.

I will not break my promise to you. The Megillah will continue to appear every month and the glossary will be maintained on a regular basis. No one is required to make a donation or to pay for a subscription and that situation will NEVER change. All donations are purely voluntary. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your support and encouragement.

I trust the summer is bringing warmth and sunshine to you and those you love.

Enjoy the Megillah!
Much love to all of you,

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