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A July of Contrasts:  Stars and Stripes Here in Marine Park

Wait just one moment! It’s not what you’re thinking, I assure you. The stars and stripes, I mean.

The stars may be found in the garden of my dear daughter and son-in-law located next to Quentin Road, here in Marine Park. In actuality, they adorn the well-manicured petunias which have become the cynosure of even the most casual passerby.  A simple glance at my photos will rivet your attention as well.

As for the stripes, they are part of what is left of the Nazi concentration-camp prison garb of my son-in-law’s saintly grandfather, R’ Eliezer Tzadok Margulies, ztz”l, otherwise known as the “Malach” (angel) of Buchenwald by his fellow prisoners on account of his many acts of loving-kindness. The picture you see here is of my dear grandson (the son of my Marine Park family cited above), lhbdlch”t, who bears the same name as his celebrated forebear, Eliezer Tzadok. And that piece of striped, numbered cloth he is holding was actually cut from his great-grandfather’s prison uniform.


Stars and stripes: so very different and yet so evocative of this month of July, celebrated as it is as the birth-month of the United States of America. For as Jews, we are painfully aware that this month usually hosts the beginning of the Three Weeks of mourning for our precious Batei Hamikdash. What a paradox—apparently!

But only apparently!

You see, by properly remembering the trials and tribulations of the past, we have a chance to review the greatness of our ancestors in facing adversity and thus becoming like stars in the firmament. Heaven knows, summer is a time when the outside world believes that “the living is easy,” yet for the believing Jew, this season presents us with intense challenges that we have no choice but to meet head-on: tzniyus, vacation, assumed boredom, and the like. Yet if we wish to reach the stars in our divine service, we must emulate our forbears in the area of proper dress, increased learning, inner direction, and kindness.

Interestingly enough, July is not only the first full solar month of summer, but it also provides us with the noticeable beginning of a rollback of the length of our hours of daylight. After all, summer commences at the solstice, the longest day of the year, and finishes just before the equinox—at which point the daytime and nighttime hours are about the same. It is almost as if we are being told that we must not forget that with the advent of summer, autumn and winter are inexorably wending their way toward us. Why, the great season of our teshuvah is in almost right around the corner!

Yes, indeed! The stars and stripes of July: Challenges that can uplift and exalt us; they become the fireworks of the soul!

Questions or comments? I may be reached at hillyarm@yeshivanet.com. Have an edifying summer, dear readers!

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