Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

My Snapshot Moment

Mishpacha Contributors

What’s your singular snapshot moment of 5777, the encounter, experience, or epiphany that will always wield a lasting impact?

Monday, September 18, 2017

 Mishpacha image

(Photos: AFP ImageBank)


Stand at the Wall

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt

Sometimes, it’s a symbolic act that speaks louder than words — especially when the act is done in Jerusalem.

Our first two children were born in Jerusalem. In their US passports, their place of birth is recorded as Jerusalem. Just Jerusalem. The city is disconnected from the Jewish State. For years, the US hasn’t recognized Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Therefore, when the newly-elected president of the United States came to pray at the Kosel with his family — the first sitting president to do so — it was an important moment for me. The symbolism of the act showed the world that the president recognized the attachment of the Jewish people to Jerusalem — to all of it — and especially to the Kosel and to the place where the Beis Hamikdash once stood. To some extent this act might have made a stronger statement than moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, because it was a religious statement as well as a political one.

The context was also of greatest importance. The president was making a tour of the capitals of the three Abrahamic religions: Riyadh, Jerusalem, and Rome. In Riyadh and in Rome, the most important moments were the meetings with the Saudi King and the Pope. In Jerusalem, the “meeting” was with Hashem, during a prayer at the Kosel.

Response and Reputations

Tevi Troy 

History always judges politicians by their response to disasters.

It happened towards the end of the year, but 5777 may be remembered for the devastation wreaked on Houston by Hurricane Harvey. The storm hit the city’s Jewish community hard.


As we daven to Hashem for a recovery to the city and all those harmed or displaced by the floods, I can’t help thinking back to my own experience working in the Bush White House during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. I recall President Bush telling the senior staff during the crisis, “There is no weekend.” The words “no weekend” had a different, more challenging, meaning to me as a frum Jew than to the rest of my colleagues. I consulted with my rav about how to handle both Shabbos and this dictate.

The answer: I went home for Shabbos. The rav said pikuach nefesh didn’t apply to my work, because I wasn’t a first responder. But I was back in the saddle immediately after Shabbos ended. Seeing Katrina and other crises firsthand inspired me to write a book, Shall We Wake the President? Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office, which looks at how presidents have handled crises throughout American history.

I spent much of 5777 on a book tour promoting the book — it was basically a subsidized tour of America’s kosher restaurants — and spreading my message about the importance of disaster response to both the country and to presidential reputations. I was pleasantly surprised to see that President Trump appears to have taken this aspect of the job seriously: he appointed top people with experience in the field to serve as his advisers in this area, including some skilled people who worked with me in the Bush White House on the Katrina response. As we embrace the new year and think of what lies ahead, I wish all of them hatzlachah as they engage in the important work of rebuilding the city of Houston, but also in protecting this great nation from future disasters as well. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 678)

Related Stories

The Best Defense

Aryeh Ehrlich

According to the Biala Rebbe of Bnei Brak, we’re a worthy generation that engages in Torah and chese...

The Current: Year in Review 5777

Binyamin Rose

The major news stories of the past year

Sounding the Shofar in Auschwitz

As told to Toby Orlander Thaler by Mr. Yosef Herczl

Although Hungary was in an alliance with Germany and Italy, we were as Hungarian as our non-Jewish n...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"