One People

Achdus is Hebrish for “unity”.

Shmah and Postage Stamps

I’m a therapist and behavior modification is at the heart of much of what I do.

This morning I was rattling off the first paragraph of the Shmah and caught myself before I made a mistake.  I’m less good at rattling off the next two paragraphs, so I try to do that, catch myself before continuing on past the last word of that first paragraph,  vee-sha-ar-echa.

And it’s good to think about the words, right?

For some reason I flashed back to the reason why I know paragraph #1 perfectly but don’t know #2 or #3 as well.

When I was in kitah bet in Hebrew School, Mr. Michelle, who I thought ancient, but perhaps topped 40 years old at most, rewarded those of us who could memorize things.  He gave us canceled Israeli postage stamps if we learned our vocabulary words successfully.

It wasn’t an Orthodox school, but the principal was frum, and Mr. Michelle was frum (I think) and I collected quite a few stamps.

I brought them home, lovingly and proud, to show my parents.  They were so pretty!  There were different colors! American stamps were very basic in those days, a picture on a white background.  No pastels.

All of my adult children have taught either cheder or Hebrew school at some point in their lives and I don’t believe I’ve ever shared that anecdote with them.

It’s kind of funny what a person remembers.   Anyway, Mr. Michelle, if you’re out there somewhere and reading the Jewish blogs, thanks so much, not just for being a terrific behaviorist, but for being so gentle and kind.  You’re the only one I remember.
Gratefully yours,



June 12, 2007 - Posted by | behavior modification, shmah

1 Comment »

  1. This is such a touching story! I don’t know why.

    Comment by frumfunkyfabslightlyeidel | July 26, 2007

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