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Thread: My book of memories

  1. #1
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    My book of memories

    Welcome to my "Book of Memories". These are memories that are part of my life. These are from the early 1960s and 1970s. I think that all people have memories that they could share, especially if those memories can bring the reader closer or deepen their relationship with God. If you wish, you can leave a comment. More memories will follow under "Go Advance". This is part of my eBook "God Tales, An Anthology".

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    What in the world is a “squeedunk” one might ask? Is it some kind of animal? Something to eat? Or a place tucked away in some remote corner of the world?

    Well, I can sincerely say that it is a “place” perhaps not mentioned on a map, but definitely a “place”. It is a place that I often visited when I was young, a place where my aunt Solveig lived. She was my father’s sister who we lovingly called, “Tante Mackie”. A place in the city of Hackettstown, New Jersey, a rustic little area which also carried the name “Rustic Knolls.”

    It was a place that still exists in my mind's eye, with about 10 metal mailboxes at the entrance of a long, dirt and gravel road. Mailboxes with the names, “McDonald”, “Petrocelli and Rullo”, “Montalvo and Lugo” “S. Petersen” “Catcher” and other names which now elude my memory.

    My mother and father would often visit Mackie during the summer months, or during a Thanksgiving vacation. We would drive down from New York in our 1960 red Studebaker, passing the supermarket on Willow Grove Street, past old Joe Paddock’s place where the residents of Rustic Knolls would visit to fill their water jugs with fresh well water, as Joe was the only one with a well in those days.

    We would make a right turn on that rustic, dirt road and head downhill. We would pass a nice-looking house with spacious property on the left. It was owned by a lady who had a lamb. Sometimes the lamb would be tied up outside when the weather was nice.

    Once past the “Lamb lady's” house, the forest took over. There was a wooded area on both sides of the road. The road would bend and curve this way and that. Halfway to Mackie's place, my father would honk the horn to warn any cars coming in the other direction that we were coming, as there was little room to pass on either side.

    Once we got to the bottom of the road, the road would fork into two directions. The road to the left would go upriver, to the right would end at the swimming hole. The river that ran near my aunt's house was (and still is) the Musconetcong River, meaning “rapid stream” in the Native American language. It is a river with a rocky bottom that would attract fishermen during the Spring, as the Hackettstown Fish Hatchery would stock the river with trout.

    I remember fishing in front of my aunt’s place. I never caught any trout though, only sunfish. A few times I would venture across the river, either wadding across the rock dam that residents would build to separate their properties from their neighbors'. A few times I crossed over in an inflatable rubber raft which was fun.

    Across the river was a wooded area that went uphill. I remember somewhat of being a small mountain. I never reached the top though, I just explored the land to the right of my aunt's property dam. I remember an old rusted car with a lot of bullet holes in the middle of a small clearing, a memory of the Bonnie and Clyde days.

    Around the edge of our neighbor's part of the river was a huge boulder where a Korean boy named Lee, a friend of the MacDonald family once caught a very big largemouth bass. My aunt showed me the newspaper clipping of that event.

    My aunt's house was built with foundation stones which she and old Joe Paddock got from the river. The two of them built it with these stones and fashioned wooden planks for the walls. It was a cozy little house, with two bedrooms and a sleeper sofa in front of the dining room table. I can close my eyes and still see it.

    There was a stone fireplace with a driftwood mantel, shelves on which were stored many volumes of National Geographic magazines, whatnot s, a few pictures of grandfather, one with him holding “Ousi” his pet cat, and a painting of a fly fisherman in a river.

    A porch was constructed outside, with a far-sighted view of the river. There was a little “frog pond” where a few spotted leopard frogs found their way to, a sign above the pond with the word “Timberdoodle” which my father had made. My aunt had also a tool shed which was close to a large white hammock, tied between two large trees.

    The property, instead of green grass had white gravel, which made a crunching sound beneath my feet when I ran outside. Out there in the fresh, country air, I would play with “Ingeborg” my aunt's little black Dachshund, whom she lovingly called “Inky”.

    My aunt would sometimes tell us of local happenings, of different people in the area. She told us of the “Tyner boys” whom she called “no good lazy louses”. One of them returned from Vietnam with a snake in his rucksack she claimed. She always spoke good of old Joe Paddock, who helped her build her house, and of “Sophie” her best friend, who a lovingly called “Aunt Sophie” who lived down the road near the swimming hole.

    Sophie was a stout sort of woman who I always saw wearing farmer's overalls. Sophie's house was similar to my aunt's. Her house also overlooked the river, and she also had a hammock strung between two trees. Inside her house, there was a stuffed moose head on the wall mixed in with a lot of ornaments of nature.

    And so, it was in that small section of the world called “Squeedunk”, that little place tucked away next to a quiet rocky river, surrounded by woods and nature's wild things.

    I remember it was one summer morning when mom, dad, and I were there visiting that my dad woke me up very early in the morning. It was still dark outside, and my dad and my aunt got together some fishing gear and a heavy box-like lantern. It was one of those 60s lanterns that you could open and put in one of those big, heavy batteries. It had a handle with which to carry it and swing it here and there. I got dressed and put on my favorite “Sock-it-to-me” shirt which reminded me of the TV show; ‘Rowen and Martin’s Laugh-in’

    We started walking down the dirt road that ended at the swimming hole, and that's where the road ended. Yes, it was kind of scary dark, at least it was for a young teen like me. My dad reminded me, “keep your eyes on the light, walk in the light of the lantern, and you'll be safe, you won't trip and fall.

    So, we walked down the road to Sophie's place first to do a little early morning fishing, and after that, tried our luck at the swimming hole. There we were, the three of us, three pairs of shoes, walking in the beam of light that came from Mackie's lantern. Mackie and dad talked about, well, things that adults talk about; work, friends, about the times with “Momsen and Popsen” (their mom and dad) I just listened and walked with them.

    I was reminded of the scripture, which speaks of light, of walking in the light, the light being God's Holy Writ, the presence of the Almighty God among us, that substance which chases away the darkness. That early morning fishing walk reminded me of 1 John 1:7;


    Yes, indeed we did indeed have a nice walk that early summer morning so many years ago. My father, my aunt, and me, walking down the dirt road, fishing gear in one hand, lantern in the other, walking and talking, just having a nice early-morning time for fellowship. I remember that we caught a sucker. We threw it back into the river on account of it being a “garbage” fish. My aunt had baited the hook with some pieces of bacon fat. Well, what can you expect? Not so kosher bait brings in not so kosher fish.

    So many years have passed, yet this memory is as clear as glass. Mom, dad, and Mackie are all buried, but their memories are still alive, their teachings still alive, and the love and respect I had for them still remain in my soul.

    Last edited by JacobBenAvraham; 01-12-2021 at 11:58 PM.

  2. #2
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    The radio


    As far as I can remember, the radio was always on top of grandfather's oak cabinet downstairs in the basement. The basement in our house in Chappaqua, N.Y. was a lonely, quiet place of boxed up memories of the past. A place of boxed up stuff, this-and-thats, decorations, furniture pieces, what-knots that somehow did not make it upstairs to the living room. Things that found a place in our house in Elmhurst, N.Y.C. now slumbered in silent solitude within 4 concrete walls.

    I had gone up and down the wooden steps that lead to the basement many times during my childhood there in Chappaqua. At the bottom of the steps to the left stood about 5 metal shelves where my parents stacked all kinds of canned goods, right next to those shelves were the washer, dryer, and sink where mom would do the wash.

    A fuse box that held the old type circular screw on-and-off fuses found its place against the concrete wall next to the sink. Quite a few times I remember my dad changing a fuse or two which had given up their ghosts.

    Across from the washer and dryer were the oil burner and hot water heater. In-between those two down-stairs residents stood grandma's two-wheeled shopping basket, no longer in use anymore. It just stood there as a reminder of the many trips she must have taken back and forth from the local food markets in New York City so many years ago.

    On the other side of the basement, there were boxes and boxes of things like old Good House-keeping magazines, Field and Stream mags, piano sheet music which belonged to my mom, Eskimo garb, and grandma and grandpa's “1906” trunk. This was the trunk that they used when they came to America from the “Old Country. I say “1906” because stuck to the bottom of the trunk was a piece of newspaper with that date under the headline.

    The basement was divided in half by a center concrete wall. On the other side of it, dad had built me a “train table” where his Lionel trains lay, lined up on the train track. I used to turn on the power and run them for a while, putting “smoke pills” in the chimney of the locomotive and watch the engine bellow out puffs of white smoke. These trains were one of those “hand-me-downs” that fathers sometimes give to their sons. I saw some more trains in other boxes that somehow, never left their cardboard housing. Those were the ones dad bought back in the 1930s.

    At the other end of the basement was the wall that divided our house from the great outdoors. Right next to the back-yard door was my wooden toy-chest with out-grown toys, some broken, some still in good shape. Once outside there was a steep hill that ended at an oak tree and my swing set. This was especially good during winter when there was icy snow. I would “belly-flop” and slide down the hill on my belly until I stopped at the swing-set.

    On the other side of the back-yard door was grandpa's oak cabinet with 4 pull-out drawers. The bottom two would open vertically, the top two would open horizontally. The bottom two had a piece of cardboard wedged between them so as to keep them close since the key was lost long ago. I don't recall much of the contents of that oak cabinet, only that the bottom part had a shoebox with some silverware with the monogram “P” and the date “November 1914” engraved on the knives, forks, and spoons. This was the date of grandma and grandpa's wedding.

    In the top-left drawer was a folded-up ship's flag with the stars and stripes and an anchor amidst the stars. This belonged to the Texaco Tanker “Ohio” when grandpa was captain back in the 1930s. Guess he took it as a keepsake.

    On the top of the cabinet sat, “The Radio”. It was unlike our small yellow plastic kitchen counter radio, which had a clock-face and a swivel dial which was permanently set to WFAS-1230 AM. The radio in the basement came in two parts. There were two black, metal boxes, one on top of the other. The larger one was full on knobs and switches with three half-moon windows with lines and numbers on their faces. Below the windows were two large dials with the markings; “main tuning” and “band-spread”. On the main tuning dial was the letter “h” and the letters and numbers; SX-25.

    The other knobs and switches had other letters on them like; BFO, AF Gain, RF Gain. The speaker lay inside of the smaller black box on top of the radio. The back was hollow with just some folded-up wires hanging out. The radio just sat there with the three half-moon yellow eyes staring lifelessly at the iron food shelf which stood across the room.

    I imagine that in the years past, these dials must have lit up many times with the speaker vibrating with music from the Benny Goodman band, the Andrew Sisters, the Amos and Andy show, news from different announcers. I can imagine the famous speech made by president Roosevelt coming through the speaker of that radio so many years ago; “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, is a day that will live in infamy.......”. My dad told me about that day, it was the day he was recalled into the army for extended service.

    Now it was still, a quiet sentinel of the past, now a home for spiders and dust. I had passed by that radio many times on my way out the basement door to the back yard. I often wondered what it would sound like with the switch turned to “on”. I tried it once, but the radio still remained silent, dead to the world, a quiet ghost of past melodies, songs, and news broadcasts.

    Then came the day when I found myself looking at the radio when my dad came downstairs. He came behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and said;

    “That's a Hallicrafters SX-25 Communications Receiver, a short-wave radio. It can pick up radio stations from all over the world. I bought it way back in 1937.”

    He continued to tell me how he used to tune in stations from different parts of the world. He especially listened to “HAMS” (amateur radio operators). He told me how once he heard a “HAM” transmitting from “Little America” (The South Pole).

    “I hope I can do that too someday dad, hear stations from other parts of the world,” I told him. I was really interested in this now. I can't really recall, but this was around 1966 when we had that short conversation.

    “Maybe someday Jimmy” he responded with a smile, “Maybe someday.”

    Moving day came early in June 1966. School had let out, I was a 6th-grade graduate, ready to go into Jr. High. The Santini brothers ‘moving van came and packed up all of our stuff, all the odds and ends, furniture, etc., including dad's radio. All went into new boxes, they went on the truck, and we said our final “goodbye” to Chappaqua, N.Y.

    We moved to Yorktown Heights, N.Y. My parents enrolled me in Yorktown Jr. High School and after that, I sat back to enjoy the rest of the summer. Our new house in Yorktown Heights didn't exactly have a basement, it had what one could call a “downstairs den”. All our stuff was off-loaded and grandpa's oak cabinet ended up next to the house entrance door in the back of our two-car garage. Beside the cabinet was his “1906 trunk”, but there was no sign of the radio.

    I figure that it must have been still packed in one of the many boxes lined up alongside the walls of our garage. For a while, I gave no more thought of the radio, out of sight, out of mind.

    The months passed. The 1966-67 school year started. I entered into the awesome world of 7th grade. December turned into January 1967, then February 9th rolled around, my birthday. Mom and dad greeted me with their “Happy birthday Jimmy” with a chocolate cake, my favorite. I also received that year a “Craig reel to reel tape recorder”. 'Now what in the world would I do with this I asked myself?' Would I record myself just to hear myself talk? No, not likely. But mom and dad had another surprise awaiting me.

    “Come downstairs, I have something to show you.” my dad said, as we both went downstairs to the den. He pointed to a medium-size bookshelf under a window. It was divided into an upper and lower shelf, and there was something on those shelves. I went to get a closer look.

    “Happy Birthday Jimmy,” my dad said to me smiling, “It's yours now.”

    And there it was, the Hallicrafters SX-25. It has re-appeared. It had found a new resting place, from on top of grandpa's oak cabinet to a bookshelf. My dad had cut a hole in the back of the bookshelf to slip the power cord through to plug into the wall socket.
    “I gave it to Mr. Tebbit to fix. It works fine now.”

    Dad commented that Mr. Tebbit was a friend from work. He was an “Old radio fix-it guy” He took the Hallicrafters, opened up the top and cleaned out the cobwebs, changed a few tubes, and brought it back to life. Dad showed me how to work the dials, what they were used for. He told me about the “main tuning” and “band-spread” dials. The “BFO” switch was a “Beat Frequency Oscillator” control that was used to “un-garble” all the “garbled” conversations of the HAM radio operators.

    Dad told me about the RF Gain and AF Gain switches (Radio-Frequency Gain) (Audio-Frequency Gain), and of course the knob that changed the frequencies. It had Medium Wave (AM) and short-wave frequencies.

    Dad showed me the multi-strand copper wire that was screwed on to the back of the radio and ran up the curtain and was tied off on the curtain rod. This was for the reception. later on, he hung a 50-foot-long copper wire in front of our house which was tied off between two ceramic insulators. I turned the radio on, and the half-moon dials came to life.

    Different sounds came forth from the speaker; bleeps, blahs, different and strange sounds. Dad explained the different sounds and their meanings; Morse code, carrier waves, radio teletype, time-frequency stations. We stopped to listen to the first station. It was radio Station WWV from Fort Collins, Colorado, it announced the time every minute giving the minutes GMT, (Greenwich Mean Time)

    Soon after that, I found CHU-Canada, from Toronto, another Time-frequency station, announcing the time by minutes in both English and in French. Now, the short-wave radio listening bug had really hit me. I picked up the first international radio station, HCJB from Quito, Ecuador; a Missionary radio station transmitting an English language broadcast. Later on, I picked up more stations; Radio Havana, Cuba, the BBC World Service, Radio Moscow, Radio Peking (China). The Voice of Free China, from Taiwan, Radio Cairo (Egypt), Radio Nacional de España, (Spain) Radio RSA (The Voice of South Africa from Johannesburg)

    As the months and years went by, I heard more stations. Dad showed me how to write down the information from broadcasts to send away for QSL cards, (postcards that verified reception from those stations). The first one I received was from radio RSA, from South Africa. I felt like someone important now, getting mail from overseas. Dad moved the radio upstairs to my bedroom for one year.

    In 1970, when I turned 16, I got my first summer job working as a gardener at a community college. All the workers called me; “Young Jim” since I was the youngest. With the money, I saved I bought a short-wave radio of my own, a “Hammarlund Communications Receiver”. It was somewhat like the Hallicrafters, but a newer model. The two radios sat side by side on my dresser drawer, right next to my bed.

    As the years went by, I had collected many QSL cards, then I tried to see how many “out-of-state” AM stations I could pick up. Nighttime was the best. The farthest I heard was KFI in Los Angeles, CA. I also heard a lot of AM stations from Cuba and Canada. I put all my QSL cards in an album, even the AM stations sent out QSL cards, some wrote back with personal “thank you for listening” letters. This was indeed an exciting hobby, I had learned a lot about the geography of the world and about other countries.

    High School graduation day came in June 1972. The Army recruiter had visited me a few months before graduation. I signed up, so by the end of June, I would embark on a new adventure with Uncle Sam. This adventure would last eleven years, a soldier's adventure.

    July 1st came, I had a small bag ready with some clean underwear and toilet articles. It was seven AM in the morning. Dad would take me to the bus stop. I left my bedroom for the last time, took a final look at my radios, closed the door, and was off to Fort Dix, N.J. for basic training.

    Many radio stations have come and gone in the past years. Some die out due to a lack of listeners' support, and some keep on going strong. There is one station that is still going strong, a station that got started about 3500 years ago. This station, unliked by some, yet loved by many, is radio “Voice of God”.

    It started with quill and ink, by a rejected prince from Egypt, who became a shepherd of millions of human sheep. He Wrote down what God told him to write, then passed on the scripts to others who would write down more stuff from God and would pass on those scripts to others, and so on. The station scripts became printed in book form, then when the airwaves were subdued by man, the Voice of God was heard by both radio and TV, and now by the internet. Today we can both “read” and “listen” to the broadcasts. There are 66 programs. YHVH-Adonai-Elohim is the station owner-president-manager.

    The 66 programs are broadcasted day and night, 24-7. There is the Genesis program, the Exodus program. The station announcers are long since gone, yet their voices are still heard. There are news programs, history programs, programs of songs, poetry, and wisdom which are on radio Psalms and Proverbs.

    The station manager started this station thinking of mankind who he loves. Years of preparation went into the programs. His voice has been echoed into all 66 programs, and all talk about YESHUA, the Son, God become flesh and blood. There is, however, QRM (interference) and a lot of static at times. It comes from radio Satan, it wants to jam the Voice of God, but it is up to each and every listener to tune it out. We have to use our bandspread carefully, tune out all distractions, fine-tune our built-in antennae, or our faith walk will be hindered.

    So, keep tuned to the “Voice of God” it is essential to our spiritual growth and it will lead you to the knowledge and acceptance of Yeshua (Jesus Christ) as your Savior and LORD.


    Many years have gone by. These days the short-wave radio listening hobby has almost disappeared. No need to tune-in stations on a radio. Just go to the Internet and look for the “Tune-in” Web site and you can find all the world stations to listen to. The challenge has gone. Too easy now.

    The Hallicrafters returned to my father when I left for the Army. I had also bought a Hammarlund Short Wave Communications Receiver. Dad sent it to me, never got to me though. The QSL cards? Lost somewhere in Mexico. Today I have a small digital “Grundig” SWR. I never use it though, it stays in the night-table drawer next to the bed. I’ll take it to the beach or pool sometimes to listen to an FM station.

    There are times when I stay up late and just out of curiosity, turn the dial on a 1930s replica of a table radio just to see how far I can tune in. I’ve heard a few stations in Mexico and Cuba, but that’s about it. Sometimes I think that I might get a HAM license. (Amateur Radio License) but who knows. The hobby was great while it lasted.

  3. #3
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    In my cousin's house


    My cousin John lived in a nice, quiet suburb in Flushing, N.Y. His house, or rather my aunt and uncle's house was, to me, neither small nor big, rather medium size, as seen in the eyes of a child back in the early and mid-1960s.

    It lay nestled in a nice, little neighborhood, amidst other houses on a neat and quiet street lined with trees and green lawns. There was a park nearby where I remember my grandpa took me once to swing on one of the many swing sets, and afterward, he put me on a slide and caught me as I slid down.

    So, my Aunt Nina and Uncle Ces, my cousins John, Gene, and Anita lived peacefully there for many years. Of my three cousins, I related more to John since we were almost the same age, John being one year older than me.

    My mom, dad, and I used to visit uncle Ces and aunt Nina during the Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas holidays. We would drive down to Flushing from upstate N.Y. in our 1960 red “Studebaker” called “the Red Lark”. I would stretch out in the back seat and try to take a small “siesta” while hearing dad mention words like; “Taconic State Parkway”, “Ossining”, “Nyack”, etc...

    About two hours later we would arrive at Uncle Ces and Aunt Nina's house. There was a front entrance on an elevated stone patio which opened up to a coat closet on the left-hand side. In front was the living room with a few items of furniture; a sofa, an ornament shelf where uncle Ces kept his reel-to-reel tape recorder, and a piano. But for some reason, we always used the kitchen entrance. I guess the kitchen entrance was closer to where we parked the car.

    In front of the kitchen entrance were my aunt Nina's houseplants, and then...the aroma of an oven-baked turkey would greet us together with my aunt's “Happy Thanksgiving” or whatever the holiday at hand. The kitchen led into a very small dining room which had some small pictures of snow-capped mountains in Chile hanging on the wall. There was also a wooden décor piece with the words, “The Dog House” and the names of my cousins on little pieces of wood. I remember the words on the plaque; “To stay out of the doghouse, obey the rules, to get into the doghouse, try some shenanigans”.

    The kitchen led to a short hallway with a guest bathroom to the left. I remember a little ceramic cat on top of the toilet with a pull-out tail made of some perfumed fabric to keep the bathroom always smelling sweet and fresh.

    Around the corner from the bathroom led to the basement. This was a place of enjoyment and relaxation, where the family and guests would go for a bit of “chitter-chatter” and TV watching. When you went down the stairs, your shoes would echo a hollow “clack-clack-clacking sound. The bottom of the staircase ended in front of a corner shelf with grandpa's globe-lamp on top.

    With a flick on the wall switch, the globe lamp would light up with a soft glow, illuminating the oceans and the continents of the world. The rest of the basement consisted of John's race-track table with little electric racing cars on a track. There were two lean-back easy chairs in front of the console TV set. Usually on the arm of one of the chairs rested a TV guide clipped onto a small clipboard.

    Uncle Ces had his work area in the back of the basement with all sorts of tools and gizmos. There was a bar with all kinds of drinks, and souvenirs from foreign countries hung from the top of the bar ceiling, even a shrunken head (fake of course).

    Near the bar, on the basement wall hung a black and white ink drawing of Uncle Ces, sitting on top of the world cross-legged, holding about twenty different foreign flags, places that he had visited. These were in memory of Ces having worked for many years at IBM World Trade Corp.

    During the holiday seasons, the basement saw many guests sitting in front of the console TV set watching football games, or on a Sunday, there would be bullfights on channel 41. Uncle Ces especially liked the bullfights, since he was from Venezuela. Once he told me that as a kid, he had fought a young bull in an arena near Caracas.

    John's room was near the guest bathroom. There were two beds, a dresser drawer, and a clothing closet. On the bedroom door, he had hung a funny picture of a UFO taking off and a little alien running after it yelling, “wait for me!”. On top of his dresser were many little army soldiers all lined up with a sign on the wall that read; “watch out!”

    Another thing that made an impact on me in John's room was a little “glow-in-the-dark” Jesus on a cross which hung over the head of his bed. I thought that perhaps this crucifix had some special powers because of what he said once when I slept over. One thing I'd like to make clear is that our families were religiously different. Uncle Ces and aunt Nina and my cousins were Catholics, while my adoptive family who raised me were Lutherans. I followed the way, of course, of my adoptive family since that was all I knew. This was many years before the Jewishness which I inherited from my biological father's ancestry, awakened inside me.

    During one of the holidays, Uncle Ces and aunt Nina invited us to sleep over. Mom and dad were in the guest room, and I got to sleep in John's room. I was perhaps seven or eight years old at the most, probably in 1962 or 63. Well, that night John and I were laying in opposite beds talking about this and that. He told me how his friends were pestering the “parkee” (the guy in charge of the neighborhood park) when he paused for a few seconds, pointed at his clothes closet, and said;

    “At midnight, the devil will come out of that closet and try to drag us off to hell unless we take hold of Jesus.”

    Then he looked above his bed and pointed to the “glow-in-the-dark” Jesus on the cross. Now my evening was ruined. Fear gripped me, imagining that at the stroke of midnight, the closet would fill with smoke and a hideous clawed hand would push the closet door open. I could just imagine a horned devil in a bright red suit followed by some “imps” jumping on top of me and my cousin. Then they would drag us both, kicking and screaming, into the closet, down the corridor to hell. Somehow, I thought, there was a corridor that connected hell with John's closet.

    In a way, I felt sorry for John that his closet was a passageway to hell. At home in Chappaqua, I also had a clothing closet and the devil never came out of that one to drag me to hell. I remember my dad telling me a little about hell, how bad boys and girls would end up there. Kids that were disobedient to parents and teachers would end up in the devil's hell, together with all the thieves, muggers, thugs, burglars, and killers.

    My dad continued to tell me that down in hell, everyone would have to work for the devil, shoveling coal to keep the fires going. I thought about shoveling coal. I decided that it would be harder than shoveling snow off the driveway in wintertime, and it would be a lot hotter too. I decided that shoveling coal would not work for me.

    Poor John, I thought. The reason that he is still here is that he is still awake at midnight. At midnight, he would grab hold of the crucifix and foil the devil. I could hardly imagine if he were to be asleep at midnight The devil would grab him and drag him off saying;

    “Too late, too late John, midnight has gone by, and since you didn't grab Jesus, now you're mine”.

    I really hoped that this wouldn't be the case. I wondered if my mom and dad would hear our cries, Ces and Nina too, they would have to hear something I thought. But so far, so good, midnight was a few hours away.

    So, there we were, John was in his bed and I was in the other bed across the room. There was a little clock on John's dresser. It was 10:00 pm, two hours until “devil time”, so close, only two hours until the closet door would open and the devil and his imps would come out and drag both me and John down to the fires of hell. Then John and I would have to shovel coal to keep the hellfires going. That would be one “hell” of a future for both of us, not to mention our parents who would be worried sick about us, as to where we both were. Well, I thought, John knew what he was doing. I mean, he was nine years old, almost all grown up. He would just have to wake up on time before the stroke of midnight. He wouldn't dare oversleep because the fate of both of us was at stake.

    I turned over in bed and tried to get some sleep, yet I kept turning back over to look at the clock. I just stared at it, the clock hands kept moving, ever so slowly. I heard the “tick, tick, ticking” of the clock in my mind's eye, echoing in the semi-darkness of John's bedroom.

    The minutes ticked by, and the little hand was pointing to the twelve, and now the little hand was on the eleven, five minutes before the closet would fill with smoke, followed by a red-suited red devil with a pointy tail. The suspense was too much, and my cousin didn't seem to be worried too much. I jumped from my bed onto John's bed and I shook him;

    “John, John, wake up, it's almost midnight!”

    “Oh, yeah,” my cousin said, slowly sitting up in bed.

    I saw him reach for the 'glow-in-the-dark' Jesus on the cross. He took it down from its hook on the wall. We watched the clock, it was now midnight. We both held on to the crucifix, with John mumbling some prayer. I don't remember exactly which one, probably a Hail Mary. We both held on to the cross for a full minute, keeping our eyes on the closet. It didn't fill with smoke, nor did the devil make an entrance into my cousin's bedroom to drag us to hell. Now I breathed easier.

    “It's OK now,” my cousin said, “We can go back to sleep, the devil probably knew we were holding on to Jesus, so he didn't even try to grab us”.

    John put the 'glow-in-the-dark Jesus' back on the wall. I climbed back into the other bed and we both had a good night's sleep.
    As the years went by, I grew in knowledge and wisdom. The Apostle Paul even wrote that when we were a child, we thought as children, yet when we grow in knowledge, we put away childish things, ideas, thoughts, as we come into spiritual maturity. I learned that there really wasn't a passageway between hell and my cousin's clothing closet. Perhaps my cousin was just jesting all along and just wanted to have some fun with his younger cousin.

    Yet I learned, through God's Word, that there really is a place called hell, a real place made especially for the devil and his fallen angels, and that sinful, unrepentant mankind would join them for all eternity. The Bible describes it as a place of 'wailing and gnashing of teeth, where the worm dieth not and the fire never quenched'. It is a place of eternal separation from God, absent from his eternal love, of eternal separation from one's loved ones, a place of sorrow, of remorse, of past memories of times on earth, lost chances and opportunities of salvation, never to have a “second chance”, since it is “appointed unto man once to die and after this, the judgment”

    Grabbing hold of and trusting in a plastic 'glow-in-the-dark' Jesus on a cross will not keep a person from going to hell, neither putting a magnetic Mother-Mary statuette on the dashboard of ones' car will keep a person out of hell. Trusting in icons, statues, holy images, doing good deeds, or in anything material will not keep a person out of hell.

    The only thing that will keep a person from going to hell is faith in the LORD Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), trusting in his onetime only and eternal atonement for sin on the Cross of Calvary. Trusting that He took upon Himself ALL of our sins, past, present, and future, taking those sins with him on the tree, giving to us his righteousness, in exchange for our sinfulness. The Bible states that God is not willing that ANYONE should perish, but for ALL to come to repentance and have our fellowship with God restored through Messiah Yeshua.

    It makes no difference if a person says; “I don't believe there's a hell!” because God says there is! It is mentioned by different names; the Abyss, Gehenna, Hades, Sheol, the Pit, a place of outer darkness. Hell is a holding place, like a county jail, where unrepentant sinners will wait until God's final judgment, then “Death and Hell were cast into the Lake of Fire” this is the second death (Revelation). But scripture also says, “For God is not willing that anyone should perish, that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us” (2 Peter 3:9)

    Anyone who dies and goes to hell goes there because he or she has chosen to go because that person has rejected the free gift of salvation which was freely given to all mankind. So, all in all, staying out of hell does not depend on touching or holding certain objects or icons, it DOES depend on holding on to the promise of Messiah Yeshua, Jesus the Christ;

    For God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever that believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life!” (John 3:16)

    By J. Ben Avraham (Jimmy)

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    Tante veeps


    My parents didn't tell me much about Tante Veeps. I only remember her as a very old lady with short, white, curly hair. When she talked, it showed that she was missing a few teeth.

    I sat beside her once at a restaurant. I don't remember the occasion, but my mom and dad had invited her out. So there we sat at some elegant restaurant, me, mom, dad, and “Veeps”. When she talked to me, she would call me “Yimmy” since she couldn't pronounce the letter “J”. She must have been a relative on my paternal grandmother's side of the family since she was from Denmark”. I am thinking that perhaps she was my grandma's sister but I can't be sure.

    My father told me her story. She was a nurse for the Danish Red Cross in Greenland. She was stationed at Godthaab (pronounced “Gut-Hub”) the main city in Greenland. According to dad's story, she had fallen in love with another worker, or it might have been a patient in the hospital. Well, either the patient died or the worker died, or the patient or the worker didn't correspond with the same affection as Veeps. Whatever the story, she was broken-hearted. She never married nor did she ever give up her Danish citizenship. She remained a Dane till the day she died.

    My memory of Veeps is limited to that specific day at that restaurant. I was sitting next to her I do remember that. I heard dad mention her name from time to time, and afterward, her name went into oblivion, yet the memory of her still stays within my mind and soul.

    When I think of Veeps, I often think of contrasts and comparisons with our Messiah Yeshua, Jesus the Christ. Unlike Veeps who never married, Our Messiah is now preparing a great wedding feast for his bride. He is the bridegroom, the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world, is preparing a place for all of us, his called out “Kehilah” (congregation) so that one day, where He is, we will also be. We will all partake of his wonderful marriage supper, accepting Him as our Husband, Redeemer, Savior, and King Messiah.

    Messiah was also broken-hearted when he came to his own, yet his own received him not. It is sad to think what our Messiah did for us all, for all humankind, taking upon the sin of all mankind, yet many reject him as Savior and LORD and do not esteem his sacrifice for sin and eternal death. Nothing else could break our Savior's heart, save only a Roman soldier's lance.

    Tante Veeps esteemed so much her Danish citizenship that she never gave it up. How much do believers esteem their citizenship in Heaven? In the New Jerusalem? It is more precious than gold, silver, and all the precious stones in the world. Our citizenship is “forever” What we do now, as believers on this earth, will determine what we will do “forever” in the LORD's service. Our future rewards will be determined by our works now, as “gold, silver, and precious stones.” How do we serve Him now? In which way or ways to we render service to King Messiah now? In whatever way or ways we serve him, let's serve Him with our whole heart, mind, soul, and spirit.

    By Rabbi Ben Avraham

    P.S. My Aunt Mackie (Tante Mackie) never married either. She lived all her lilfe with Inky, her pet Dachsund. When Ink died, she got another dog.

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    Thinking of Josephine brings back old memories, memories of the early 1960s back in a little town called Chappaqua. This town was my childhood home in the state of New York. A time when gas was cheap and neighbors got along and looked out for each other. In some places, they still do.

    We had three house cats; Shan, Tiger, and then there was Josephine. First, we inherited Tiger through a neighbor, Mrs. Milford. When she died, she willed “Lobo” her dog to a neighbor down the street, and we inherited “Tiger”. Tiger was a big, fat orange and off-white mix-breed cat. He loved the outdoors. Sometimes he would disappear for days, only to return all scratched up as a result of fights with other cats and forest critters. He hardly ever “meowed”. If he “meowed” 5 times a week it was a lot.

    He came to us with a chewed-up black collar which never came off. He wore it until the day he died about ten years later. My dad often referred to Tiger as the “Big Oaf” (whatever that meant). He would come and go as he pleased, but none-the-less, very much part of our family.

    Shan, on the other hand, was the opposite of Tiger. She was a pure-bred Siamese who I found on the street as a kitten. I brought her home and she became part of our family. In time, she became involved with a neighbor’s cat and as a result of that feline love-affair, she had two kittens; Sammy and Suki.

    Shan was very talkative, especially at mealtimes. She was very picky with her food, eating only “Puss-in-boots” cat food, and of course, fresh chicken livers which mom at times feed her. Shan was an “in-door” cat, venturing outside only during the Springtime and summer. During the winter snow time, she went outside on the side-porch only to shake her head and come back ten minutes later.

    I sometimes imagine how they would have been if God has created them as humans. I imagine Tiger as a big, fat, Hill-Billy, redheaded, tobacco chewing rough-guy, always ready for a bar-room brawl. Shan, on the other hand, I would imagine as a “lady of society” with polished nails, well-dressed, only the best food, impeccable manners, and a chatterbox. I could imagine the two of them together at the table. Shan would have been telling Tiger the latest news and gossip. Tiger, on the other hand, would be listening, hand on chin and elbows on the table, replying with just…” uh-huh” (is that it? Can I go now?)

    Josephine, however, was different from Shan and Tiger. I remember bringing Shan home. I don’t remember what year we got Tiger, but Josephine, well, she was “always there”. Ever since I could remember, Josephine sat on the edge of our kitchen counter and never moved from there. She would sit there on the edge of the counter looking straight ahead. At times, her head was facing toward the refrigerator that was next to the side patio door.

    At times, when I went out the patio door to the great outdoors, I would look up at Josephine and smile at her. Josephine would never move, but would always have that “Mona-Lisa” type smile on her lips. Her eyes, well, they would always be shut but she did have long painted lashes. You see, Josephine was a “Ceramic Cookie-Jar” cat.

    Mom and dad would take her head off and stuff Josephine with all kinds of what-knots, bric-a-brac, this and thats, little paper receipts, milk bottle caps which had the faces of the presidents, from Washington all the way to JFK. There were also paper-clips, pennies, nickels, and who knows what else ended up inside of Josephine’s ceramic body. But never, did any “cookies” end up inside of her, only inedible stuff.

    People, unlike ceramic cookie-jar cats, have to be careful what goes inside the body. Our Heavenly Father created us in His image. Our bodies were created with perfection in mind, awesomely and wonderfully we were made. In the image of Elohim, we were made. In the beginning, man was made to eat only fruit, nuts, vegetables, grains, clean water, and juices of the fruit of the trees. After the Genesis flood, mankind was allowed to eat only certain kinds of animals based on Leviticus 11.

    Many might ask why we are limited to what we can eat? Who knows better than our Heavenly Father what should go inside our bodies? After all, He is the designer and maker of our earthly temples. Yet man does not live by bread alone, but must also feed his spiritual self. One thing is to feed our physical bodies with the physical food from the earth, but then we must think of our mind, soul, and spirit. What we listen to and what we see and read affects our internal being.

    Josephine was fragile, she could have broken easily if she had ever fallen to the kitchen floor. Our bodies are also fragile, they will not last forever so we must do what we can to care for our bodies. More important though, is the soul which inhabits our fragile bodies. That will live forever. Have you ever thought of where you will spend eternity? Do you know for sure that Heaven will be your home? Having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) is the answer.

    Josephine is probably in someone's home today, if not broken during all these years. I'll never see her again, but I know that I'll see the saints of old, and above all, my Messiah and LORD. Who knows, maybe I'll see you there too. Just tell me that you read "Josephine" then I'll know.

    By J. Ben Avraham

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    School was over. I was now a high-school graduate. My father shook my hand and congratulated me. My old Spanish friend, Candido, who was the oldest “best” friend that I ever had, gave me $20 and a hug. I had met Candido at the barbershop. He was from Galicia, Spain. He was in his late 70s and he loved me as if I were his own son.

    With school behind me and my next life’s episodes before me, I took one last look around my bedroom. I said goodbye to my two short-wave radios, my record-player, my rock collection, my four-volume stamp collection, and the four posters that I had on my wall. One was a world map, another was a map of the United States. I used to put pins on the map where the countries and states I heard on the radio were. Then I had a Bull Fight poster featuring “Paco Camino” and at last, there was a poster of Fidel Castro. Now, why in the world would I have a poster of a communist dictator is beyond me? When one is young, one does strange things. My dad told me to put it up behind my bedroom door so that only I would see it, so there it was, and there it remained.

    One thing I learned about a kid’s personal possessions, well, they’re really not the kid’s, they really belong to the parents. I guess the kid can use them while at home and going to school, but once in the great “after high-school” world of work, the things that get left behind, revert back to mom and dad.

    So, there I was on July 1st, 1972 ready to leave my house in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., and head for life in the “U.S. Army!” Fort Dix bound. I had a little bag with some changes of underwear, shaving stuff, etc. Some call it an AWOL bag, but it left with me. Dad took me in his car to the bus station. The bus took me to NYC to the main recruiting office. From there, I and about 30 other guys from NYC got on another bus and off we went to Fort Dix, N.J. We were leaving our moms and dads and getting ready to be with our next “dads” for the next 8 weeks.

    It is said that there are people who you will always remember. You will never forget their names. Those people are (besides your own relatives and family) your elementary school teachers, and for those in military service, your “Drill Sergeants!” Well, I will always remember them. I had three; Drill Sergeants Bostick, Davis, and Quiñones. One white, one black, one Puerto Rican. They saw to us that we were well trained, at the end of the 8 weeks, we would be a well-oiled machine with all parts working together as one.

    The other names you never forget are the buddies who bunk with you in the same barracks. There was “Big Davis” who could kick a door open with his big foot. There were the other guys; Venable, Levi, Pittman, Huvane, Bosley, Madera, Nieves, Mojica (who was called “P.J.”) because he liked to wear pajamas to bed. We were “Echo” Company, 4th Battalion, 2nd Basic Training Brigade commanded by CPT Brown. Levi invited me once to stay at his place in NYC on a weekend leave. I went with him to "Soul Train" in the Bronx and even met Don Cornelius.

    We marched to the M16 rifle range almost every day to qualify with our weapons. We got to throw a hand-grenade, Shoot an M60 machine gun. We had to put on our NBC outfits which included our gas-masks (Nuclear Biological Chemical) and go into a room filled with tear-gas, take off our masks and recite our names and social security numbers, then run outside and hit the ground. Then we learned about radio communication, guard-duty, medical first-aid, and the list went on. We took a test at the end of the 8 weeks which was known as "Pro-Park" and we had to pass all subjects. Then, graduation day came. We would have our moms and dads come and watch the ceremony.

    Those drill sergeants who had yelled and screamed at you were now smiling and shaking your hands. Yes, they had to be tough, your life might depend on you reacting at a moment’s notice to danger. I mean, in war, the enemy is all around you. If you don’t see him, your buddy might. You need to support your buddy, and your buddy must support you.

    From there, we left with our khaki-colored uniforms and went on leave for about one week. The next stop was AIT. (Advanced Individual Training). Some soldiers put up with this life for 2 or 3 years. It was my life for 11 years. I would say; “Once a soldier, always a soldier.” I mean, it’s in you. In those 11 years, I went to many places, including three years in Mannheim, Germany where one of my daughters was born.

    All born-again believers are soldiers too. We belong to the LORD’s army. There are drill sergeants too. They are the ones who train us in God’s Word. They come in the form of College or Seminary Professors, pastors, rabbis, Sunday School teachers, and Torah Teachers. Their job is to train us up in God’s Word, to defend the faith, answer questions that might be asked us from unbelievers, or from other believers who might be less knowledgeable.

    We all have jobs to do in the LORD’s army. The Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) is the one who equips us with gifts, with spiritual gifts. With those, we fight against HaSatan, (The Deceiver, the Father of Lies, fallen Lucifer). We must remember that he too has an army. He has an army that is out to make us miserable, an army of demonic entities, invisible to our eyes, but visible in the spirit realm.

    The truth of the matter is that Satan knows he has been defeated, yet he wants to take as many human beings to hell with him. He can’t touch a person who has been sealed by the Spirit of God, “HaRuach Elohim” our home is in Heaven, yet the enemy wants to make trouble, make us fall, hit us with fiery darts, tempt us with things in the areas where we are weak.

    Many of God’s soldiers are knocked out of the game, they give up. Maybe they didn’t pay attention to their training or their trainers didn’t train them well enough. Many try to fight the enemy in their own strength, which is pointless. It is like a mouse challenging an elephant to a fight.

    One thing we all have at our disposal is the help from Heavenly Hosts. Angels on high. Call upon them for help and they will come and help. Help is just a prayer away.

    Sometimes I can imagine our personal angels saying; “When is he (or she) going to ask me for help? I’m right here, all I need is a prayer for help and I’ll draw out my sword and “sock-it-to” the enemy.”

    Our two most powerful weapons are His WORD, his TORAH! Yet we must learn what is inside it. A closed Bible doesn’t do any good. Our other weapon is our prayer, our plead for help, for intervention. So, Let’s fight the good fight, finish the race, the enemy is already beaten and conquered, he just doesn’t realize it yet.

    Rabbi Ben Avraham
    US Army Vet; 1972-1984

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    The battlefield


    I remember the stories that the Viet Nam vets told me about jungle warfare, about how Charlie Cong set land mines, booby traps here and there to blow up the American soldiers, about how the Cong would sneak away into tunnels and “disappear.” The army would send in “Tunnel Rats” to flush them out, armed with 45s, and combat knives. They would go in after them.

    I was still too young for the Viet Nam engagement, I enlisted in 72 and they were just sending in volunteers. But who would want to volunteer for a war that wasn't even in your backyard? Well, there are always two sides to the story.

    Dad used to tell me about his adventure in WWII as a radio repairman. He would repair radios in blown-up tanks. His weapon was the M-1 rife, although he never made it into actual combat, he still fought in a battle later on after WWII was over, a different war in which he changed weapons. Later on, he used nerve gas canisters. When I was growing up, he showed them to me too.

    “Son,” he told me one day, “you'll be going into combat one day soon, and you’ll need to choose your weapon that will do the most harm. You have landmines and nerve gas, use them both!”

    Sure enough, I went into combat, fighting a forever-fighting enemy, relentless, strike-and-hide type warfare. They used to call us “Mother Green and her M-16,” as the M16A1 rifle was the most popular in Viet Nam and afterward. I chose nerve gas as my weapon of choice. It would render the enemy “dead” no survivors, no prisoners, only a “body count”. Bullets would have little effect, too many of the enemy. What would two or three bullets do against an army of one-hundred or more, but launch a nerve-gas attack, that's a different matter.

    I saw the movie “All Quiet on the Western Front” and saw how nerve gas left soldiers dying in the trenches, and “John Boy” survived that, only to get a sniper bullet in the head because he was stupid enough to poke his head up over the trench to sketch a silly butterfly.

    Another soldier told me how to make land-mines, that would blow up the enemy once they came out of hiding, those that would survive the nerve gas. Well, once a soldier, always a soldier as the saying goes. Who says you can't be a rabbi and a combat soldier at the same time? Sure, you can.

    So, here I am, on the front lines, the battle isn't even far, just a few yards away. The enemy just comes out under the cover of darkness, then at dusk, they go back into hiding, only to await the setting of the sun, to come out and wreak havoc again. The enemy has their weapon, they use germ warfare, biological hazards. It's a battle of nerve gas against germ warfare, who will come out winning?

    I am still on active duty, still in combat. This morning was no different. I got up, and while under the cover of darkness, slowly crept forward, making sure I was not heard. I had my nerve gas canister with me, I learned that quick spurts were just as effective holding down the trigger. I have enough nerve gas to last a few months. I found out the enemy's bunker, I had to be quiet, ever so quiet, as long as it was dark, I could get them. It had to be an element of surprise, So, I crept up, still under the cover of darkness. Then, I struck. I opened fire!

    I opened the bunker door quick as a flash and launched the nerve gas, and three cockroaches hit the floor. They fell from the pantry closet door and hit the floor in agonizing pain. I remember the army drill sergeants often had us do the “dying cockroach” position.

    Those three cockroaches will never again climb on top of the cans of Spaghetti “O” s, and around the boxes of elbow macaroni. Yet more will come out of the woodwork, reinforcements will come. The war will continue, another battle will be fought.

    I put the nerve-gas canister (RAID, Roach and ant killer) alongside the pantry door, and went to make some coffee. I got dressed, got my school badge and opened the front door to meet the cats. I gave the cats their morning meal and left for the high school. Dulles Vikings are playing the Clements Rangers this week, hope the “Vikings” win because I'm a Viking.

    I'm thinking about making and using land-mines now. All I need is some pre-sweetened cool aid, some powdered sugar, and boric acid, mix it all together and cut a Dixie cup in half, put them under the counter, under the frig, and other places the enemy can gather and formulate nocturnal attacks. Once they get their feet in the mixture, lights out! They're goners, even though they don't know it.

    On the spiritual front, we fight a similar battle. The WORD of God says that we fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities of darkness. In a way, cockroaches can symbolize demons. They are part of the world of darkness. Demons, or fallen angels fight believers daily, trying to ruin believers’ testimony, break up marriages and just making them weak in the faith. Our defense is prayer, and to be in the WORD of God, to know the Torah is our best weapon, For HaSatan, the war is over, he just doesn't realize it, the war was finished at Calvary’s cross.

    On the earth, the fight goes on, tomorrow, another battle, another 3 or 4 cockroaches will bite the dust, 3 down, 500 more to go, every day, except on the Sabbath of course. On that day, they'll have time to regroup and plan more strategies, have more baby cockroaches, invade the pantry and try to get into the food. Everything, though, is sealed, even the brown sugar, they can't get in.

    This is just another morning in the daily life of a Messianic rabbi. Shalom to you all, happy hunting.

    Rabbi Ben Avraham

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    The run away chickens


    The account of the “Run-away chickens” goes back to the early 1960s. It took place at the home of one of my family’s dearest friends, the “Teal” family. The family consisted of Earl Teal, who was from Germany, his wife who was from Sweden, and their daughter; Glenda, who at that time was in her 20s.

    They had a spacious home somewhere in New York where we lived. They had a large property which had areas where different kinds of vegetables grew, including strawberry plants. There was a rock wall that separated their property from the woods which they believed was built during the colonial days.

    Best of all, they had a chicken coop where they had about, well, one could say, about 20 or so chickens with one rooster who was in charge of the whole coop. I remember the times we visited the Teals when Glenda would take me to the chicken coop to collect the eggs. She would give me a small basket and we would go back to the house when we had finished.

    Then we would sit in the living room and listen to the conversations of Glenda’s mom and dad with my parents. I guess I was just too small to contribute anything worthwhile, so I just sat there and listened. Mrs. Teal once related the time when her dog “Fritz” who was their German-Shepherd watch-dog almost attacked her. She was coming home from shopping and it was dark. When she entered the house, she forgot to turn on the light. Fritz may have thought it was a burglar and he growled and jumped on Mrs. Teal. She just yelled out “F R I T Z!”

    The dog just whimpered and sank down to her feet. No, it wasn’t a burglar, it was his mistress, owner, and loving friend. It was just too dark at that moment to distinguish, but the voice was recognizable.

    Now it happened that during one of our visits to the Teals that Glenda took me out to the chicken coop. I wanted to stay and watch the chickens a bit longer, so Glenda left me with them and returned to the house with the eggs that we collected. I returned about one-half hour later.

    Now we could see the chicken coop from the living room as there was a large window that looked out over most of the front yard. All of a sudden, my mom yelled;

    “The chickens, they’re loose!”

    Well, All I can say is that I probably forgot to close the gate all the way, and the chickens found their way out. They were all having a great time exploring the property, and some were even close to the rock wall.

    “Did you let those chickens out?” asked my mom a bit crossly.

    “Don’t worry about them Ann,” replied Mrs. Teal very calmly, “They’ll come back at nightfall. They know where they live. It has happened before.”

    We left to return home in our 1960 Studebaker, and the chickens were still outside, running around. Mom was still upset until Mrs. Teal called our house saying;

    “They’re all back in the coop.” So, they all came home after all. All’s well that ends well, I guess.

    In the LORD’s family, there are times when his children run astray. They see an opening that seems very interesting. A glimpse into the world of pleasures, of tempting territories. There are prodigal sons and daughters that leave the coop and run here and there. Yet the time comes when they remember who feeds them. It is their master, their LORD, and Redeemer who always has their food ready, the Bread of Life and the Living Water.

    All they need to do is remember where the coop is, after all, they left it, they should know where it is. If they are truly the LORD’s children “B’nei HaShem”, then they will return. They will return to Abba’s house which is where they belong.

    By J. Ben Avraham (I sill like chickens, but only in stew and oven-baked)

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    Getting kicked out of music class


    Pushing back the waves of time, I remember that this event happened way back during my tenure as a third-grade student. This would have been back in the early 60s, perhaps 1962 or 63. It was a time when life was a bit easier, with telephones connected to the wall via wires like they still should be. You didn’t have to worry about carrying them around in your pocket and taking a chance that they might fall out and break or even being “picked” out by a thief.

    It was a time when you could call and speak to real people and not mechanical robotic answering machines. It was a time when didn’t cuss and use foul language in school, at least that wasn’t the case in the school that I attended back then. Kids did not rebel against their teachers, and if they were sent to the principal’s office for some minor mishap, they went on their own accord and didn’t have to be escorted by a police officer or an AP (assistant principal).

    It was a time when kids came to school neatly dressed, not in torn jeans and sandals claiming them to be “in fashion,” looking more like ragamuffins and vagabonds than students. My, my how times have changed. One thing that hasn’t changed is that teachers somehow have ‘hindsight’ with being able to see behind themselves, even when facing the blackboard (or whiteboard). They know what’s going on all around them. I guess that is part of being a teacher.

    Now it happened that we would have music about two or three times a week and our teacher, Ms. Comboy, would march us to the music room, then return to her classroom for an “off” period. The door of the music room would usually be open and we would walk inside and sit down in the chairs that were placed around the room, against the walls. There was a piano against the far wall opposite the door and next to the piano, a table with stacked songbooks.

    Now that day when we walked in, Ms. Betts, our music teacher was just finishing putting the songbooks on the chairs. She smiled at us and motioned for us to sit down. She went to the piano and sat down and told us the songs we would sing that day. Some of the songs that Ms. Betts would play on the piano were; ‘Billy, Magee, and Magaw (a song about three crows that sat on a fence). Then there was; ‘Summer is passing by’ and, when the occasion was near, we always sang; ‘On a Wild Halloween.’

    When we were all seated, we turned our songbooks to the songs that she had written on the blackboard and began to sing as Ms. Betts played the piano. Now on that day, I happened to be seated next to my friend; Jonathan Hyde. Well, something struck him as funny, so he started to laugh and giggle in a low voice. So, what do you think I did? Yes, I started to laugh and giggle too. Why? Just because he was laughing and giggling. You know how it goes. You don’t allow friends to laugh and giggle by themselves, you join them too.

    Then Jonathan started to open and shut his songbook really fast as if it was an opening and closing mouth. So, what did I do? Yes, you guessed it, I started to do the same with my songbook. It wouldn’t be fair to let him do it by himself. Two are always better than one in certain activities.

    Now the rest of the class was busy singing and they weren’t paying us much attention while Ms. Betts continued playing the song on the piano. Now I ask you, do you think she saw us? After all, she was playing the piano and her eyes were on the piano keys. Well, of course, she saw us. She saw us with her third eye. Teachers see everything and then more.

    As Ms. Betts finished playing the song, she hit the last two notes with a bit more emotion than usual. Then she got up quickly from the piano bench, walked straight to where Jonathan and I were sitting, and glared down at us like a hawk eyeing its prey.

    “Give me your books!” she ordered as she snatched the songbooks from our hands, “Now get out!”

    She just stood there with that ‘angry teacher look’ and had her left hand pointing to the door. Well, there we were, just looking up at her feeling a little embarrassed. She didn’t have to repeat herself as once was enough. Sheepishly, we got up and left the class. Once outside, we found ourselves in the deserted hallway since all students were in class busy with their studies. Only Jonathan Hyde and I, the goof-offs, we in the hallway alone.

    Now the big question was; ‘Where do we go?’ I mean, Ms. Betts didn’t say, “Get out and go to the office” she just said, “Get out!” Now just about then, Ms. Comboy came around the corner and saw us both just standing here outside the music room.

    “Why are you two out of class?” she asked in a rather serious tone. Now since Jonathan was the one who started laughing, and now I was in trouble on account of him, well, I would let him answer Ms. Comboy’s question.

    “We got kicked out of class.” He responded quietly, not knowing what else to say.

    “Well, aren’t you supposed to go to the office?” replied our teacher, still with the ‘serious teacher’ look.

    “she just told us to get out. She didn’t tell us where to go, she just told us to get out.” Now I thought that was the best answer. I mean, that was the truth of the matter. Without a specific place to go, where could we go?

    “Well”, continued Ms. Comboy, “I think you two had better go to the office.” And with those words, our teacher left us standing there in the hall and went back to our third-grade classroom. Now we had someplace to go, so, we went to the office.

    “Can I help you?” smiled the school secretary.

    “We’re here to see Ms. Thrasher,” replied Jonathan, not knowing what to expect. Maybe a letter would be sent home to our parents, maybe a whipping, who knows?

    “Wait a minute” answered the school secretary, “just have a seat.”

    Then she disappeared into our school principal’s office. A few minutes later, Ms. Thrasher came out and invited us both into her office for a talk. We explained what happened and after a ten-minute tongue ‘thrashing’ and a small lecture on comportment, she sent us both back to class.

    No, we didn’t get our hides tanned, nor was a phone call made to our parents. We just went back to our classroom and nothing more was said about the incident. The next time we went to music class, Ms. Betts greeted us with smiles as if nothing happened. All was forgiven and forgotten. Now I can guarantee you something, I never sat next to Jonathan again in music class. He was still my friend though, as we were partners in a class presentation on ‘The Stone Age’ in 6th grade. We both got an “A” on the presentation by Mr. Silfee, our 6th grade Social Studies teacher.

    Now that was the first and last time I was ever sent to the office for misbehavior. I finished Elementary school, Jr. High, and High School without incidents. I even spent 11 years in the U.S. Army without receiving an Article-15 (non-judicial punishment for misbehavior).

    A similar event happened quite a few years prior to the music class episode. That event didn’t involve a student, rather the music director. He was in charge of the entire music ministry. He misbehaved (and that is a light way of putting it) and was not only kicked out of class but out of the whole music ministry. Not only that, he was kicked out of school, like for good, forever, never to return.

    When did all this happen you might ask? It happened many thousands of years ago. Lucifer, the anointed Cherub lifted up his head in arrogant pride. He rebelled against Adonai his creator, and the LORD responded saying;

    “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart; ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars* of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” * “stars” can also mean other angels. Isaiah 14:12-15

    Lucifer, now called Satan, rebelled against God (the name “El” is used in this case for God in the original Hebrew) Satan not only took it upon himself to go against his Creator and LORD but enticed a third part of the angels of heaven to participate as well. They were ALL cast out of heaven to earth and are now known as ‘demons’ or ‘unclean spirits.’

    Satan and his fallen angels are beaten and conquered foes. The war was won at Calvary’s Cross, yet Satan continues to fight against believers and unbelievers alike. Satan is doomed to the fires of hell for all eternity and he wants plenty of company. Unbelievers are his own, but as far as believers are concerned, well, he wants to make our lives miserable, putting temptations and stumbling blocks in our path. He breaks up families and is the author of lies, sin, and destruction.

    The difference is that in our case, and I will use my friend Jonathan and myself as examples, we were forgiven and allowed to return to class. First, we had to realize that we did wrong. That was explained by Ms. Thrasher, our principal. After that, Ms. Betts forgave us and allowed us back into her class the next time we had music. The fault was put behind us and never mentioned again. We also had offended Ms. Comboy indirectly. Because we were in her class, we made her look bad. The same thing happens when believers do wrong things that offend others. It makes God look bad since we represent Him.

    Satan, on the other hand, was NOT forgiven for his rebellion and lost his place in the heavenlies. He will never be forgiven because he knew better. Forgiveness is available to all who repent and turn from their sinful ways to our heavenly Father. Through Yeshua (Jesus) he will pardon our transgressions and give us a place in His kingdom. Don’t follow Satan unless you like the feeling of fire, heat, and eternal pain and suffering. Hell is a real place where real people will spend a real and very long eternity.

    Life and death are within your reach. Make the right choice, choose life through Messiah Yeshua, Jesus the Christ.

    Messianic Rabbi Ben Avraham

  10. #10
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    Benjamyn's hope

    This is the last story in my "Memories" section of my eBook "God Tales". I will be working on "My Book of Poetry" under the "poetry section" of this website. This last story isn't exactly a memory, but it is a story about my far-reaching ancestry, my family tree, most from my paternal grandmother's side. The names are all original, and with a bit of imagination, I try to make my ancestors come to life. Good reading and shalom.

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _______________

    BENJAMYN’S HOPE (an ancestral reflection)

    It was early autumn in the year 1495 when John Benjamyn senior took his young son, also named John, to watch the ocean waves break onto the shores of Cornwall.

    “Out there to the West,” said John to his son, pointing across the wide expanse of the Atlantic waters, “lies a new land. There must be many adventures awaiting those who have the courage to cross these waters.”

    “But father,” replied young John a little surprised, “I thought the world was flat?”

    “Nay,” said John Senior with a smile, “The navigator Christopher Columbus proved that the world is indeed round, why just three years ago he arrived at that very continent in three small ships sailing West across these same waters.”

    “really” replied his son somewhat amazed, “can it really be true?”

    “Yes, son,” said his father placing his arm around his son's shoulders, “even in Holy writ the Word of God says; “It is He who sits upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). “Someday I hope that one of our descendants will brave these waters and cross over into the new world. I also hope that from our family line will come a teacher of God's Word, to teach all those who would listen, yes, even there in that new world of unknown peoples, unknown to us but known to God.”

    John Benjamyn and his son smiled at each other and embraced, sharing a wish, a prayer that would hopefully come true one day in future generations. The two stood there together gazing at the wide expanse of the ocean, an ocean that divided two continents which would one day join together in trade and commerce.

    It came to pass that one hundred years later, the seed of the Benjamyn family brought forth a daughter whose name was Ann. Ann married John Ellis and gave birth to a son named Richard. One day, they walked together to the same water's edge. Together they gazed across the great expanse of the sea and Ann shared the dream of her great-grandfather, John Benjamyn.

    “Goodwife Ann”, began her husband, “you will be happy to know that indeed, your family's wish will come true, for I have decided to sell our humble place and book passage on a ship that will take us to the new world, Yes, to the colonies of America.”

    “Oh, how wonderful and exciting dear husband,” replied Ann with joy, “Imagine the three of us in the new world, you, me, and our little Richard, making a new beginning, a new life, in a new world.”

    John, Ann, and baby Richard in arms embraced. They would begin a new life, face hardships together, in the British colonies of America. It was a cold, mid-January morning in the year 1619 when the three boarded ship, bound for the colony in Massachusetts. Three months later, they disembarked and settled near what would be known as Plymouth by next year’s frost. Eventually, the humble Ellis-Benjamyn family moved inland and built a permanent home in Watertown. John and Ann shared their ancestor's dream with their son Richard who later became a wheelwright and a surveyor. He also joined the local militia which had its beginning with Capt. Standish of the Mayflower. In the year 1643, Richard Ellis officially joined the local Puritan church. One Sunday afternoon he met with the minister and shared his heart.

    “Thou teacheth well Holy Writ Reverend Walcott” began Richard, “and twas the desire of a great ancestor of mine, John Benjamyn, that from his seed might come forth one who would teach Holy Writ, just as thou doeth.”

    “Tis a goodly wish Goodman Richard, and tis an honor and great responsibility to teach from God's Word.” replied the minister. “Believest thou that the LORD has thus called thee for such a task? To learn and teach His Holy Scriptures?” questioned the good Reverend Walcott, somewhat surprised.

    “Nay” replied Richard sadly, slowly shaking his head, “I am a militiaman and a surveyor of these good lands. I have not the head for such holy matters, but perhaps, after me, such a descendant will be born from my seed, one who will indeed learn and teach the LORD's Holy Word.”

    “Yes” replied the Rev. Walcott as he placed his arm around Richard's shoulder, “Tis a noble task indeed to teach from Holy Writ, but many do not take heed to the truth of scripture, adhering instead to superstition.”

    “Ay” replied Richard sadly, “some here do indeed think upon things of devilry, and of seeing specters of such types. May Providence guide one who would come after me to take up the noble task such as yours, to teach from the LORD's Word.”

    “Yes,” said Reverend Walcott, “The LORD will indeed honor your ancestor's wish, someone will indeed come from your seed and will learn and teach the Words of God to all who would have ears to hear.”

    And the years passed, and in 1692, when Richard Ellis was in his 73rd year of life, he happened to pass by the town of Salem and indeed, he witnessed the sad result of those who would follow superstition. There were those who cried out “witch” and others who fell victim to those cries of fear and ended up on the hangman's noose.

    80 years went by and the descendants of the Ellis-Benjamyn family grew in number. It was the 18th day of April in the year 1775, when Abijah Fisher, a descendant of the Ellis and Benjamyn family, invited his good friend, the most reverend minister of Mystic Village Church, to his house to share conversation. It was late into the night and the two were still deep in words;

    “Did I tell you dear Reverend, the wish, and prayer of my great ancestor John Benjamyn?”

    “No, dear friend, you didn't, but say on and I will listen to your tale” replied the good parson of Mystic Village church.

    So Abijah Fisher told the story of the hope of his ancestor Benjamyn, to have one who would come forth from his seed who would teach the Holy Scriptures, to all who would have ears to hear and heart to receive.

    “It is indeed a serious matter to teach God's Word,” said the parson. “One must study hard and understand scripture, and thus convey God's message to the people. It is indeed a calling of great value. What say you dear Abijah, do you feel you have this calling?”

    Abijah Fisher thought about what the parson had just said. He sat down on the porch of his humble house, and the parson sat down next to him. They both sat there for a few minutes without speaking. Finally, Abijah lifted up his voice and spoke his honest reply.

    “I enjoy hearing you expound the word of God” began Abijah, “I have learned much from your messages, but for me, to teach God's word, that is another matter. I think not that my mind could fathom such a matter. Perhaps one who will come after me will have that special calling dear reverend.”

    “Yes” replied the minister nodding his head, “there will come a descendent from your seed, which began with your ancestor John Benjamyn, who will be called by God to teach and expound His word. Such a prayer never goes unanswered, for the LORD hears from heaven and in His perfect timing, will raise up such a person.”

    The two men nodded in agreement. In time, the wish, the prayer of John Benjamyn would come to pass. The two continued to talk, other issues came to mind; the state of affairs in the colonies, the unfair taxation, the housing of British soldiers and other things. It was near midnight when the two men heard a noise coming from up the road, a noise of a galloping horse and its rider shouting something. As the horse and rider passed by the house, the two men stood up to get a better view of the fellow on his fast galloping steed. They heard the rider announce his warning;

    “The British are coming!” “The British are coming!”

    So, the years passed, and the generations of John Benjamyn came and went, and the family tree grew larger and larger. Now it came to pass that in the year 1895 a daughter was born to Thomas and Sarah Hughes. Their daughter's name was Willetta. In time, Willetta came to marry Leonard Groh, whose ancestors came from Germany, and East Europe, many of who were Ashkenazi Jews. Leonard and Willetta also had a son who they named Leonard. Leonard Jr. married Mary Balaban, whose family came from Turkey. Leonard and Mary had three children; Christine, Bruce, and in 1954, their third child, James, was born.

    James grew up and became known by his Hebrew name; Jacob, Jacob Ben Avraham, which means “one who follows the faith of Abraham” Jacob went to Bible College and then to a Messianic Yeshiva School. In 2005, he was ordained as a Messianic rabbi and now teaches Holy Writ to all who would have ears to hear and an understanding mind, and also to write short stories and poems.

    Yes, dear great, great, many times great, grandfather Benjamyn. Your hope, your prayer came true, for from your seed came one who would teach Holy Writ.

    And it is the greatest honor to expound God's Word to those who would bave ears to hear and a heart to accept God's words of truth.

    Rabbi Ben Avraham
    Houston, Texas

    Stay tuned for my "Book of Poetry" coming soon, under the poetry section.

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