Wednesday, May 16, 2007
an appreciation of R' Shurin, author of Olameinu's "Mador Ivri"
My mother is a “saver”, including storing all things that had to do with my education from elementary school onward, and that is how I happen to have a whole stash of Olameinu magazines from when I was in elementary school for my kids’ reading pleasure. I generally find most Jewish periodicals wanting in some way or other, but have always been impressed with Olameinu as a well written age-appropriate collection of simple Torah goodness, with no political overtones or agenda other than teaching kids about Judaism. When I once taught talmud torah I used to regularly photocopy articles from these old magazines to pass on. My girls now have their own subscription and I still look over the magazine each month. One of the sections that I appreciate more as an adult than I think I did as a kid is "Mador Ivri", the column written in Hebrew on the inside back cover. These columns usually contain a bio of a gadol or tzadik, or some short story or vort, written in simple Hebrew, with translations of a few difficult words at the end. When my girls first began to bring home the magazine I immediately turned to the back and sure enough "Mador Ivri" was still there, and I noticed it was written by Rabbi Shurin, the same writer who had been doing it when I was a kid! At first I thought it was reprints, but the articles were actually all new. It is hard to write concisely in a simple, understandable format using what is essentially a foreign language to elementary age yeshiva kids, yet month after month R’ Shurin rose to the task. For the past few school years my kids’ Olameinu always made it to my hands so I could enjoy "Mador Ivri". I just saw the latest Shavuos issue last night and was saddened to see the "Mador Ivri" bio focused on R’ Shurin himself, written by his son's son-in-law a month after his passing. For over 50 years R’ Shurin wrote these columns that I have grown to enjoy and appreciate, and that was the least of the man’s many accomplishments that I learned about. I hope his grandson continues the legacy of "Mador Ivri", and I hope Olameinui continues its mission as a wonderful educational resource.