Dr. Ben-Sorek, Mazel Tov on your 500th Article

Dear Esor,

Where to begin?

First of all, Mazel Tov on fulfilling your goal of writing and publishing your 500th column. Your readers are not letting you off the hook! You may have closed one book, but now it is time for you to start a new page. As we say, “Chazak, Chazak V’Nitchazek.” May you continue to go from strength to strength regardless of the challenges and curveballs of life.

I would like to thank you for notifying your readers this time that you are taking a very brief hiatus. Last time you took a break, it was unannounced. I know that I wasn’t alone inquiring to your editors about you, and not to mention, quite concerned. Your editors were wonderful, very professional and reassuring in their follow up. They respected your privacy, while at the same time, responsive to the TOI readers. Kol HaKavod to them.

I feel for you and for the loss of your wife. We cannot explain why sad and tragic events happen in life. A Hasidic rabbi once told me, “Always look for the sparks of light.” He said this when I visited both of my family’s’ mass graves in Europe almost twenty years ago. By gosh, he was right. It takes a lot of effort, but the shards of light are there. Esor, I feel very fortunate that our lives intersected. Through your columns, you are more connected to the world. You may be illiterate in technology, but technology has helped you, to a certain degree, cope with your despair. Not a coincidence.

I love your self-deprecating style. You are not “illiterate”, and express yourself with humbleness and humility. I admire these qualities, especially which it is coming from a very intelligent multilingual man with letters. Through this style, through this lack of bravado, your readers are gravitated to you and your knowledge and depth that stems from your life and sharp insight.

Your statement, “at age 85 this old dog cannot learn new tricks,” is simply not true (you see, I can disagree with you). As I mentioned, through your writings, you share your “Chochma.” Your writings also show that even at age 85, you are continuing to learn and grow every day. That, my dear friend, is what I admire most about you. Most people stop growing and learning at a much earlier stage of their lives. Your ability to share of yourself, to write with total empathy, to share your brilliance in such a way that you write so everybody understands you are outstanding qualities.

Your 500th column is a nice goal. May you continue to write for at least 35 more years. Ad Me’ah V’Esrim, A Hindrid en Tzunsik, a 120!

Your reader and friend,

Saul Chapnick

About the Author
For over twenty-five years, Saul’s passionately devoted and immersed himself studying Jewish life in interwar Europe. Overnight, not only did this 1000-year-old community vanish, but so did its complex communal infrastructure. What piqued Saul Chapnick’s interest and curiosity was finding out exactly what it is that disappeared. In talking to politicians, survivors, scholars, Jewish communal leaders from Eastern Europe, and making trips there, Saul Chapnick was able to uncover the richness and the tragedy of interwar Jewish life in Europe. At the same time, Mr. Chapnick has discovered a rebirth of Jewish life in his parents’ and ancestors’ native land, Poland. Saul Chapnick has talked in various venues such as Limmud whether Yiddish still has relevance today, and has also spoke about the contemporary themes of the 19th and 20th century Yiddish writers and musicians. He also prepares the adult participants of The March for the Living about modern day Jewish Poland
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