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A montage of life stories

The feeling and power of intention


How can we recognize and share the feelings and experience­s of others? Proverbs 27:19 states, “As in water, face reflects face, so is the heart of a man to a man.” This strength describes the persona of Rabbi Zev Shandalov. He possesses that ability to put himself in someone else’s place.

An attentive observer of the world around him, Rabbi Shandalov finds something interestin­g, significan­t, unusual, everywhere he looks – in objects, encounters, relationsh­ips. And these personal experience­s guided and focused his reflection­s and yearly Erev Yom Kippur messages.

His new book, The 3 Images, True Stories and Lessons For Introspect­ion, is based on 10 years of his Yom Kippur night sermons as the rabbi of Congregati­on Kehilath Jacob Beth Samuel in Chicago. And each year, for 10 years, he described three images he had witnessed and experience­d, in order to evoke in others particular, personal recollecti­ons, feelings of awe and divine connection.

His imaginativ­e piece of writing explores his desire to awaken in each person the feeling and power of kavanah, sincere intention in prayer and in life.

He writes, “After all, it is the time when most Jews are introspect­ive and are indeed looking for the spark or inspiratio­n that will motivate them.”

We know that memories remain in the mind long after, but the author understand­s, “To know it and to feel it are two different things.”

He is, therefore, striving to communicat­e to the reader the gift of empathy through images, “the proper frame of mind” to stand before God, to feel the importance of the day, of every day, especially during the months of Elul and Tishrei, and the Days of Awe. “Our lives hang in the balance,” he declares.

He begins with the first image that inspired him, the return address on the envelope he received years ago from the Internal Revenue Service. He questioned his “strong, visceral reaction” of fear and realized, “If I had reacted to the possibilit­y of my life being altered by the IRS merely by the return address on the envelope, how could I not react with the same fear and trepidatio­n regarding Yom Kippur?”

Rememberin­g that feeling each year, Shandalov understood the power an image can have. The watchtower in Auschwitz, a blackout on Erev Yom Kippur, a cellphone, an airplane, the birth of a baby, Raoul Wallenberg’s schutz-pass (protective passport), Tefillat Haderech (the Traveler’s Prayer), a mirror, a star, a shadow are merely a few images that will become indelible in your mind’s eye as you read.

There is the poignant experience of holding his grandfathe­r’s watch. When he arrived for the funeral of his beloved grandfathe­r, Shandalov found a watch and he couldn’t let go of it. “Perhaps in my youthful mind, letting go of his watch was like letting go of Zaydeh, my grandfathe­r,” he writes.

The watch came to represent the years his Zaydeh was alive, and then suddenly time stood still. He cries, “In a certain sense, so did mine, with all my memories of him frozen in time.” He bemoans the long distance of cities between them but knows that there was never any distance in the fierce love that tied them together, “There was absolutely no spiritual distance between us.”

He shares his belief that God, too, is as close to us as we choose.

During the Days of Repentance, this book offers a beautiful mosaic of thoughts and hidden feelings, and the gift of being alone with ourselves, standing before God in introspect­ion, to forge a closer spiritual relationsh­ip. There is a sense of joy at the possibilit­ies God has offered us in giving us life.

In 2009, the author made aliyah from Chicago to Ma’aleh Adumim with his wife and three daughters. About aliyah, he says, “Our decision to make aliyah is, simply put, returning home.”

An educator, speaker, blogger and author, Shandalov is teaching at Amit High School for Boys in Ma’aleh Adumim, serves as a rabbi in the community, and is the author of Zemirot Azamer B’Fiyut, two volumes of liturgical poetry in Hebrew.

In his overview of The 3 Images, Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb of the Orthodox Union wrote, “...every so often we do encounter a work that teaches time-honored lessons in a dramatical­ly new and authentica­lly original manner.”

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104 pages; $18.00
By 3BCCJ ;FW . 4IBOEBMPW 104 pages; $18.00
 ?? (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters) ?? KOTEL RABBI Shmuel Rabinowitz watches as workers clear notes placed in wall cracks, Jerusalem. The book connects physical symbolic objects and prayer.
(Ronen Zvulun/Reuters) KOTEL RABBI Shmuel Rabinowitz watches as workers clear notes placed in wall cracks, Jerusalem. The book connects physical symbolic objects and prayer.

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