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New Life






Several weeks ago, as I was coming home from school one day, I glanced up and noticed that due to unseasonal warmth, a branch of my apricot tree which overhangs the wall around our yard had already begun to blossom.  During the month of Nissan or thereabouts, when we first notice the fruit trees blossoming, we say a special brocho.  So I quickly ran into the house to find the text of the brocho.

Baruch Ato A-do-noy E-lo-hainu melech haolam shelo chisar b’olmo klum, uvoro bo briyos tovos v’ilonos tovim lihanos bohem b'nei odom.








The brocho is only said on seeing the first blossoms of fruit-bearing trees. And only before the flowers fall off and the fruits begin to grow.  This blessing on the trees expresses our acknowledgement of Hashem's special gift to us. 








Trees serve us very well.  They provide us with fruit and with medicines; they restore oxygen to the air that we breathe, provide shade, prevent soil erosion, give us wood and paper, and make available living space for birds, insects, and small animals.  But before the trees start to prepare fruits for us, they first favor us with a beautiful display of flowers, delighting our senses of sight and smell.  And that is what we are thanking Hashem for on a crisp and balmy day in Nissan, when we say the Birkas Ilanos with deep feelings of physical and spiritual joy.











Several days ago I was in the yard, and watched as the new sprouts pushing forcefully, burst through the dry, cold, dark soil. 













Violets, tulips, peonies, the rhubarb, which I finally had coaxed into growing, and chrain (horseradish) for Pesach













The lilacs had also started to put forth buds, though the grapes were still dormant. 













It's especially interesting to see the peonies bursting into life from amidst the dead remains of last years blooms.  Kind of like Techias HaMeisim, the revival of the dead.  Exactly what we are waiting for -- in more ways than one!

















I gaze in wonder every year, as our yard very quickly changes from dormant and dreary to full of vibrant green life! 

















But then, as all too often happens, we heard the news that there would be more frost in store for us.  I carefully covered the tender shoots of rhubarb, but was at a loss as to what I could do to try to save the profusion of delicate apricot blossoms. 




















Sure enough, the garden was ravaged in turn by strong buffeting winds, followed by rain, snow, and sleet. 




































The gentle buds froze, and it it not that likely that the apricot tree will bear its delicious plump fruits this year.  Though who knows?  When I went out the next day, miraculously there were still blossoms on the tree, and the bees were busily working around them!












The Baal Shemtov taught us that we must look for lessons in life in everything we see. 
















Just as the wind carries a seed far and wide, until it sets it down in a barren place to grow, the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent us far from our home to be his shluchim, his emissaries, here in Crimea.  He obviously considered that we have the potential which is hidden in a seed, to grow and flourish, and to bring forth beautiful fruits here. 











Unfortunately, there are evil people, who like the rock hard, dry dirt, and the inclement weather, try their utmost to stop us from succeeding. 












Insidious as beautiful poison ivy vines in a garden, they will not let anything stop them, even stooping so low as to threaten to bomb our house, and to tell outright lies to rabbanim and to balebatim (supporters.)  They use others as a mask to further their nefarious plans, later discarding them as suits their whim.


























Our fruit trees may skip a season in bearing their luscious fruits, or have a year with a poor yield, but still the trees stand strong against the wind, and survive to bear fruit again the following years.  So it has always been with Bnai Yisroel, and so may it be with us, G-d willing!

Miraculously may it even be this year!




So too, in spite of everything that is being done to stifle and destroy us and choke the lifeblood out of us, we will, G-d willing survive and gain strength, and grow!



















In the Talmud, in Shabbos 104, it is written:  Shin is the initial of Sheker (Falsehood,) and Sav is the final letter of Emes (Truth.)  Why does the word for Falsehood consist of three consecutive letters, while the word for Truth consists of the first, middle, and last letters?  Because Falsehood is common, but Truth must be sought out from near and afar.  Why does the word for Falsehood rest on one point, while the word for Truth has a firm foundation?   To teach that Truth stands, but Falsehood does not.











The G-d of Truth alone rules the world, and in spite of their cocky beliefs, in the end their Falsehood will fail.  Just as in spite of the rocky hard clay and foul weather, our plants survive and thrive, so too I"YH will we.  We may go through unbearably difficult times, but in the end, Truth will out!  Might does not make right!


Our students are our blossoms.
















Please help us help them thrive.


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Thank you!


Purim in Peking in Crimea

Thanks to many wonderful friends, and in particular one very generous shlucha, we had a really beautiful Chinese Purim! Decorations, costumes, prizes, candy, chopsticks, fans, Mandarin hats, and much more were donated.  Our shalach monos were in Chinese take-out boxes and in each one were yellow and red candies, yellow fishy mondlen & red fishy candies, oriental crackers, fortune cookies...   Also a Chinese lucky money envelope with money for matanos l'evyonim, and a Chinese lottery ticket (every single one won, which made everyone happy!)

Our menu was: Hamantasch challahs with a savory filling, which the kitchen crew forgot to serve, pretty and tasty Chinese flower rolls, sweet and sour chicken, pepper steak, vegetable lo mein, fried rice, fried chicken wontons, and delicious (absolutely killed my diet) egg rolls. I made duck sauce, lemon sauce, and hot mustard, and the dessert was a reddish jello comprised of every flavor and vintage jello I had in the house, topped with yellow "whipped cream" and red and yellow sprinkles, together with chocolate dipped fortune cookies. Of course there was lots of Chinese tea to wash it all down with!

We had a cute Chinese auction -- the old kind, where you auction off wrapped packages and people don't know what they're bidding on. I got rid of unneeded gifts, various donated prizes and other things that had accumulated, and the school made some very quick money.  One lady paid 22 grivni for a Chinese fly swatter, but took it well.  Others got nice jewlery, and other prizes. Everyone had a great time!

Here are a few of our pics.  More can be seen in the Photo Galleries.

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