I Am Your Servant: A Talk with Author Rabbi Akiva Tendler

“A talk with the author of I am Your Servant, Rabbi Akiva Tendler, son of Rabbi Yosef Tendler.”

Your father was one of Rav Aharon Kotler’s first American-born talmidim, when there were only about 25 students in all of the yeshiva. What were some of the memories he shared with you of that special time?

He always felt Rav Aharon zt’l loved him and believed in him. Rav Aharon imbued in him a sense of mission to restore Torah to post-Holocaust Klal Yisrael. My father, although he was involved with so much public service, always made sure to have a sefer with him, living Rav Aharon’s mantra that Torah is the ikar. He kept a large picture of Rav Aharon at home and also opposite the desk in his office. He lived his life with his Rebbe before his eyes!

He loved to share how the Lakewood talmidim lived in poverty that cannot be comprehended by today’s standards. There were talmidim who could barely afford decent shoes or adequate food, but they endured this out of love for the goal of rebuilding Torah.

Much of I Am Your Servant is based on first-person accounts. Where did you get that material?

Some of the material was supplied by family and talmidim. My father was loved by so many and we received hundreds of letters from those who felt he was their ‘personal’ Rebbe. Most of the divrei Torah and mussar are from my father’s own handwritten notes or shmuessim. He left thousands of pages, as he loved to write as he learned. As I looked through them I was taken by the warmth, depth, and practicality of the teachings. They serve as the backbone of this work.

What was it like, growing up as the children of “the menahel”?

We never thought of him as a menahel! He was always home when we woke up and for family dinner and evenings. Shabbos meals were a highlight, when he would sing his favorite songs from his yeshiva days in Lakewood. A magnificent singer, he swept us along with these beautiful melodies. We used to laugh when we heard that talmidim were scared of him. I would think, “How can you be scared of someone who gives you donuts and Shabbos treats?”! He never treated us like anything other than beloved children, and we never realized we were sharing him with the yeshiva students.

If you could describe your father in just one sentence, what would you say?

I cannot possibly describe my father, even within the 460 pages of the book.

Click here to read more about Rabbi Yosef Tendler on The Yeshiva World.

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Kids Cooking Made Easy: A Conversation with Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek

“When kids make things themselves, they get so excited and feel so confident, and naturally become open to trying new things”

Now it’s our children’s turn to enjoy Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek’s “Made Easy” cookbook series, with Kids Cooking Made Easy. Here’s what these great cooks told us about this new, fabulously fun cookbook.

ArtScroll: Why kids? What’s so great about children in the kitchen?

Leah: Kids are always looking for something fun to do. They love to eat, and they get bored fast. For kids and parents, this book is Win-Win.

Victoria: Kids are always in the kitchen. They can either be having races, playing a game in the middle of the floor, shooting rubber bands at each other…or cooking. This lets them be productive. Teaching kids to cook is also the cure to picky eater syndrome. When kids make things themselves, they get so excited and feel so confident, and naturally become open to trying new things. And they’ll be eating healthier too.

Artscroll: You “triple-test” all your recipes, which is what makes them so foolproof. How did triple-testing work with younger food samplers?

Leah: We gave the kids the complete recipe and watched what they did without saying a word. Every so often if I saw them stuck during one of the steps, I took out my pen and added in a line to clarify the instructions. For example, when my daughter was making Penne Rose, I realized that if she pours the tomato sauce all in at once, it will splatter. So we added, “Slowly…pour in the sauce.” The details matter when kids are cooking.

Victoria: Since these are the recipes our kids love, they are way more than triple-tested. They are the real family-friendly dishes we’d be cooking even if there was no cookbook.

Artscroll: What do the kids love best?

Leah: They went a bit crazy for our Edible Sand Art, Hot Banana Peppers, Gummy Bear Rugelach and Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets.

Victoria: Personally, I dream about Rice Krispies Ice Cream Sandwiches all day. My kids also adore Taco Night, Cauliflower Poppers, Candy Bar Cookies, and Pancake Sandwiches.

Artscroll: What’s the difference between developing recipes for children and adults?

Leah: For safety reasons we don’t include some things, like frying. We also were able to have a lot more fun and develop recipes like Spray Candy – kids’ favorite junk food (that’s a lot less junky when it’s homemade).

Victoria:  Developing recipes for kids lets us go back to the basics and enjoy the simple comforting foods we all love.

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Classic Krohn: The Maggid at the Podium

The phone rang. A famous voice was on the line. I was astonished when I heard what it had to say.

In close to three decades of working in Jewish publishing, I’ve been privileged to deal with many, many authors. I’ve found them to be intelligent and well-read, men and women of integrity and yiras Shamayim.

But only one – the one on the other end of the phone line – had ever taken the trouble of finding out who had written the copy that appeared on the cover of his newly-published book, and phoning that anonymous writer (me!) to say thank you.

That was my introduction to Rabbi Paysach Krohn, the man they call the American Maggid.

In that brief but unforgettable phone conversation I could identify all the traits that make Rabbi Krohn’s books unique, beloved bestsellers standing proudly on so many bookshelves: warmth, a finely-tuned sense of humor, and profound insight into how to touch the goodness inherent in all of us. In the space of a few minutes I could see that Rabbi Krohn is a master at showing how to make people — into better people.

He’s also incredibly entertaining.

The Maggid at the Podium is classic Krohn.  In addition to being a bestselling author, Rabbi Krohn is a globetrotting speaker who has touched and inspired tens of thousands with his insights, wisdom, and, of course, his stories. In The Maggid at the Podium, we can bring his messages to our homes, to read, reread and share with those we love.

And what are these messages? Advice on how to make ourselves “uppercase people in a lowercase world,”– changing “I want,” “I need,” “I deserve,” to “I care” and “I will help.” A simple thank-you note becomes “Exhibit A” in a lawsuit, and we get the message of this unusual story: show gratitude the next time someone does something nice for us. Rabbi Krohn shares with us messages on how to make our homes secure and comforting havens for our family in these puzzling times. 21st-century life got you tense? Rabbi Krohn offers strategies, advice and his trademark stories to help us deal with the stress and time management challenges that so many of us face. His topics are as contemporary as iPads and ICUs, while his wisdom is as timeless as the Talmud and Tanach.

Truly, the American Maggid has done it again.

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