Living On by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis

By Naomi Elbinger

Living On: Messages, Memories and Miracles from the Har Nof Massacre is the brainchild of Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis, Rosh Kollel of one of the victims, a friend and neighbor of the four victims, and a fellow congregant at Kehilas Bnei Torah, the shul where the attack took place.

cover of Living On by Rabbi Travis


6:57 a.m. — 39 men daven at a neighborhood shul in Har Nof, Jerusalem.

7:08 a.m. — Four of them lie murdered
al Kiddush Hashem, following a massacre that rocked the Jewish world.


“I knew each of the four kedoshim personally and I davened at that shul every day for years,” said Rabbi Travis. “The idea for this book came during a Shabbos discussion with another Har Nof resident.

We felt that following such a tragic event, and in light of our personal connection to the kedoshim, something major had to be done to preserve the momentum that had been generated.

“By the next erev Shabbos, the book was already written, edited and on its way to print. Anyone who knows anything about the usually interminable process of book publishing acknowledges the Divine Assistance we merited.”

The book has three main sections: Miracles, which details the unfolding of the attack and its aftermath, and includes many incredible stories of salvation from survivors and eye-witnesses; Memories, which explores the special qualities of the four victims, as told by close family and others who knew them; and Messages, which delves into the inner meaning of this tragedy, which we must try to comprehend with the help of our Gedolim.

The concluding section, entitled Living On, explores how we can carry on, meaningfully changed, in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Notable contributors to the book include: HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, shlita; HaRav Moshe Sternbach, shlita, Av Beis Din of Jerusalem, whose son survived the attack; HaRav Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin,  shlita, Rav of Kehilas Bnei Torah; HaRav Zev Leff, shlita, and many other Torah luminaries.

“Most of the news reports of the massacre were gruesome and depressing,” said Rabbi Travis. “But this book takes a completely different view. We explore the pain of the people involved but we also highlight the many miracles experienced on that day; the incredible faith of the widows and survivors; the outpouring of chessed that followed the attack; and the meaningful messages that emerged. This book seeks the true Jewish perspective. We showed the manuscript to the survivors and they agreed that it reflects the deeper message we should all be seeking.”

The challenge of taking such an atrocity and finding messages of hope within it seems formidable. But several survivors of the attack and relatives of the victims were extremely supportive of the project and helped provide the content.

“The first thing I said when I woke up was the Pasuk ‘Ashira laHashem bichayai – I will sing to Hashem with my life’ (Tehilim 104:33)” said Rabbi Shmuel Goldstein, who sustained severe head injuries after being attacked by one of the terrorists with a meat cleaver. He was interviewed extensively for the book. “Now I appreciate that so much more; that every second that Hashem gives me life, it’s not a onetime present, it’s a constant present that Hashem gives and keeps giving. Even though it is looked at as a very bad story, there are so many miracles that Hashem did.”

The book presents itself as a double chessed: it helps reader process this traumatic event in a positive way, while giving tzedakah to the widows and orphans. The publication was fully sponsored by generous donors, so 100% percent of proceeds from sales of the book will go to victims’ families.

Living On: Messages, Memories and Miracles from the Har Nof Massacre is available at or at Jewish bookstores.

Naomi Elbinger is one of the Jewish world’s leading experts on web marketing and business strategy and can be found at – The Jewish Business Blog.

Rabbi Travis is also the author of:

cover praying with joy by rabbi travistravis-shabbos








Lemonade Girls Forever by Sara Miriam Gross

Lemonade Girls Forever is a compilation of short stories by Sara Miriam Gross that originally appeared in Mishpacha Junior. These children’s stories follow a set of young characters through a variety of situations.

cover of lemonade girls forever by sara miriam gross
From the back cover:

When you’ve got lemons…

Chavi, Devorah, Shiffy, and Avigayil are the Lemonade Girls. They’re good friends who love to find creative solutions for problematic situations. Hopelessly lost on a hike? Most favorite nosh was stolen?

Well, when you’ve got lemons…make lemonade.

Follow along as these sixth graders open their very own gemach, almost ruin a fancy fund-raising dinner, try to win the Wacky-Snacky candy contest, and more.

Well-loved author Sara Miriam Gross has crafted a collection of upbeat adventures that are sure to entertain. Fans of her popular series in Mishpacha Junior as well as new readers will love both the classic and never-before-published tales of the fabulous foursome who refuse to let life’s setbacks get them down.

Lemonade, anyone?

It’s the Lemonade Girls…Forever!

Published by Menucha Publishers (2014)

Purchase now from Amazon.


Miracle at El Alamein by Rabbi Zev T. Paretzky

Miracle at El Alamein: The Story of the Rabbis Who Stopped the Nazi Onslaught at the Gates of Eretz Yisrael by Rabbi Zev Paretzky reads like a thriller.

paretzky-alameinThis action-packed narrative keeps readers on the edge of their seats, turning pages far into the night to discover how things turn out. But although it has suspense, thrills and adventure galore, it is different from most such reads in once crucial respect – it is all true.

To be factual, Miracle at El Alamein is a history book. It covers a little known aspect of World War II: the Nazi advance on Eretz Yisrael. Not many people are aware that during the war, the Italian Air Force strafed Tel Aviv and bombed Haifa and that the famous Nazi General Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, had set his sights on Jerusalem.

There’s a widespread misconception that the Jews of Eretz Yisrael were unaffected by the war.  Baruch Hashem, they were indeed spared the fate of European Jewry, but it was a very close call indeed. The Nazis came within a hair’s breadth of conquering Palestine and implementing their detailed plan for the destruction of Jewry in the Middle East.

“Before El Alamein we never had a victory,” said Churchill. “After El Alamein we never had a defeat.”

What changed? What was it about El Alamein that turned around the entire course of World War II?

How the Nazis were thwarted is the tale Rabbi Paretzky relates in this fascinating book. The author vividly paints for us what it was like to live in the Yishuv in war time. He offers us rare glimpses of some of the greatest tzadikim of that era. The story he brings to life includes tragic events and details heroic undercover operations. There are some odd human touches – Rommel’s letters to his wife, written on the battlefield, for example. Inexplicable decisions made by military commanders. Many tragically doomed young soldiers.

But the real, hair-raising story of what turned around the seemingly unstoppable Nazi advance involves Rabbaim and mekubalim, Kever Rachel and a mysterious airplane flight around the borders of Eretz Yisrael.

Miracle at El Alamein may present itself as a history book, but woven within the historical tale is an essential lesson about prayer and Heavenly salvation that is vitally relevant for us today. This extraordinary book may forever change how readers view the earth-shaking power of tefilla and the insights of Gedolei HaTorah to change history – and by extension, our own lives.

From the cover:

The story of the rabbis who stopped the Nazi onslaught at the gates of Eretz Yisrael.

“All of Palestine was in a panic … This time, there seemed to be no way out.” — R’ Chaskel Besser

In 1942, as General Rommel led the German and Italian armies through North Africa toward Eretz Yisrael, terror gripped the Holy Land. It seemed inevitable that the entire Jewish population would fall into the Germans’ murderous hands.

This is the story of the holy tzaddikim of Eretz Yisrael who stormed the heavens with their prayers and brought Rommel’s progress to a stunning halt at El Alamein in Egypt. The events that took place there were nothing short of miraculous.

Published by Judaica Press.

Haskama from Rabbi Shmuel Irons, Kollel Institute of Greater Detroit

We received a review copy of this book.

Purchase now from Amazon.

Rabbi Paretzky is also the author of The Chida, which appears to be out of print, and:

Reservoirs of Faith by Rabbi Paretzky paretzky-alamein


The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel by Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel With Their Mystical and Medicinal Properties by Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Seigelbaum is the perfect book to launch this blog on Tu BiShvat.

Seven Fruits of the Land of IsraelChana Bracha Seigelbaum is the founder of Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, a place of Torah learning for women. In this unique work, which is part sefer, part cookbook, she posits that the seven fruits for which Eretz Yisrael is known have tremendous spiritual power that can be tapped to enable us to do more mitzvos, heal our bodies and express our creativity.

First, lets start on the outside. This is a physically beautiful book. The cover is gorgeous – yes, I’d buy it just for all that glorious color! Fortunately, I didn’t have to buy it, as it was a birthday gift, lucky me. The inside of the book is replete with full-color photographs and more of the same artwork as on the cover. Just turning the glossy pages of this book is a soothing, calming experience.

Inside, the book requires serious study. This isn’t light reading – for each of the seven fruits, the author delves into what we can learn from Torah pessukim about that fruit. She provides nutritional information, covers how that fruit is used in traditional and natural medicine, what Chazal and other sources have to say about it as well as mitzvos and brachos related to the fruit. Should you want to delve further in a particular direction, all sources are carefully listed in end notes at the close of each chapter. Each chapter of learning is followed by healthful recipes that highlight that particular fruit.

Experiencing this book is a wonderful way to focus on the spiritual aspects of Eretz Yisrael and the wondrous produce with which Hashem has blessed the Land. I say “experiencing” because reading is obviously not enough in this case. The work takes reading, study and, of course, cooking and eating the recipes, too, to fully appreciate it.

No wonder The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel won two Gourmand Magazine Awards for 2015: Best Fruit Book and Best Jewish Cuisine.

A beautiful sefer. A beautiful cookbook. A beautiful work. Many thanks to my dear friend – you know who you are! – who gave it to me for my birthday.  This is a great gift, but here’s a hint if you’re buying it for someone else: Get two. Once you buy one as a gift, you won’t want to part with your only copy.

Published by Menorah Books.

Haskamos from the Biala Rebbe, Rav Kohn, Rav of Bat Ayin, and Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum.

Purchase now from Amazon.

Rebbitzen Chana Bracha Siegelbaum shiurim can be heard on  She is also the author of:

Ruth Gleaning the Fallen Sparks
(Self Published)
Women at the Crossroads
(Menorah Books)
The Nameles Chicken from Judea
(Self published)


A Family for Frayda by Menucha Chana Levin

A Family for Frayda is the new teen novel by Menucha Chana Levin.

This is her fourth novel and she’s been published in Hamodia,, and other Jewish media outlets.

A Family for Frayda by Menucha Chana LevinFrom the back cover:

Life’s not easy for fifteen-year-old Frayda. Her father suddenly passed away, her mother remarried and moved to New York, and Frayda was left behind in Jerusalem. Now Hadassah, the woman she boards with, is going to England on a business trip and Frayda needs a place to stay while she’s gone. Feeling alone and dejected, nothing seems to be working out for her. Then, one day in the local bookstore, Frayda meets Elisheva who introduces her to the friendly Glazer family and things start turning around. But can it last?

Readers will identify with Frayda throughout her journey of self-discovery and cheer her on through every obstacle. Her warmth and resilience will continue to inspire long after the last page has been turned.

Published by Israel Bookshop Publications.

Purchase now from Amazon.

Menucha Chana Levin is also the author of:

the youngest bride by menucha chana levin the castle builders by menucha chana levin


The Well-Spiced Life by Barbara Bensoussan

The Well-Spiced Life is a food memoir – part recipes, part essays.  Barbara Bensoussan is a contributing editor at Mishpacha Magazine.  She also writes for Jewish Action and has been published in Hamodia, and other media outlets.

The Well-Spiced Life by Barbara BensoussanSo you’ve probably seen her articles somewhere along the line.  She’s one of my favorite feature writers out there – smart, articulate and always interesting.

I collect cookbooks, so this one is definitely on my list to add to my bookshelf!

You can hear her talking about her life and her new book in this interview on Chazak Radio.

The Well-Spiced Life

From the back cover:

As a young woman, acclaimed author Barbara Bensoussan always thought she’d marry a nice Jewish boy from New York, just like her mother. But her life took a distinctly different turn when she entered the Orthodox world and her nice Jewish boy turned out to hail from Casablanca! Suddenly she found herself the Sephardic version of the bride-who-knew-nothing!

Now she had a husband who thought the chicken soup she adored was little more than flavored water, and who’d grown up eating the head of a lamb—teeth showing—on Rosh Hashanah. As the years passed and her family grew, she did her best to absorb the culture and cuisine of the Sephardic world— some of which, she laments, is still clinging to her waistline.

The literary result of Barbara’s foray into the Sephardic world is The Well-Spiced Life, an authentic food memoir that combines the best of pleasure reading with excellent recipes. Packed with delightful anecdotes, culinary tips culled from years spent cooking for a “mixed” (Ashkenazic/Sephardic) family, loads of exotic recipes, and an abundance of comic relief (a necessary ingredient in every culinary undertaking!), it’s a book that belongs on the shelf of every respectable balabusta, Sephardic and Ashkenazic alike.

As they say in Casablanca: bon appetit!

Published by Israel Bookshop Publications (2014)

Purchase now from Amazon.

Barbara Bensoussan is the author of the teen novel A New Song.