Did you ever have something very strong in your mind to do, and you work really hard at it, and then…it HAPPENS and you’re amazed?
This past Wednesday, August 25th, 2011, I was privileged to celebrate one year of hosting an internet radio show that has become very important to me, and it seems to many others as well, thank God. I began the “Derech Eretz Hour” at the end of last August, at the invitation of then-Program Director of Israel National Radio Yishai Fleischer. Following our Aliyah arrival ceremony at Ben Gurion airport, Yishai came over to interview me and my wife Rivkah, and said, at the end, that we should do a radio show together. I took the bait and began to consider what kind of show I would host, especially on the pro-Israel, pro-aliyah, pro-one Jewish state, pro-settler Israel National Radio. Would I do politics? Commentary? Israel advocacy? I decided to leave all that to others more engaged in these areas. I went for a show all about Derech Eretz, the Jewish imperative to be kind, decent, and courteous, not only for the sake of polishing our own character, but to make God and the Jewish people look really good in the world! Unfortunately, when “religious” people of any faith do terrible things, all the members of that faith are painted with the same brush. Conversely, when visible and identifiable Jews behave in an exemplary way, it brings honor to all Jews. The Derech Eretz Hour is a weekly immersion into Torah lessons, interviews, and reflections on the news from the show’s perspective. The show is heard live on Wednesdays from 2-3pm Israel time on israelnationalradio.com and can be heard as a podcast at any time. Or you can go to my website, elanadler.com, and click on the radio show.
For my anniversary show, I wanted to have special people on by phone, well known and less known, which would make the hour emotional and substantive. I knew I wanted at the very least some members of my family to whom I do a shout-out at the beginning of every show- my wife Rivkah, our girls Ariella and Shani, and my Ima and Abba and sister Susan who listen every week from Providence. I also was anxious to have Yishai Fleischer who originally offered me the show. Then I remembered one of my Rabbis from high school, Rabbi Avishai David who now lives in Beit Shemesh, who, when Rivkah and I met with him a couple of years ago prior to our aliyah, told me, “when you come to live in Israel, I imagine you being a one-man derech eretz machine.” I surely wanted his reflections on the subject.
Now, on one show some months ago, I did 3 live phone interviews during the hour, and it felt like a lot. Now, I was already having my wife, my mother and sister, Yishai, and Rabbi David. All very special. But I wanted it even more special, a show with celebrities whose names would be known in the Jewish world…and they all had to be available during the same one hour of the show. And they had to be ready to ruminate about derech eretz. The Almighty blessed me with three more guests, who, in the beginning or middle of their day, were outstandingly courteous and willing to step out of their routine and into the world of derech Eretz. They knew I was going to call, but their switching gears to speak to my audience was nothing less than a personal gift to each listener.
We caught Shlomo Katz in a Toys R Us in Jerusalem, shopping with his family. His words to us about derech eretz were no Toy Story.
We found Neshama Carlebach at home in New York, in the middle of morning routine with her husband and kids. What she shared about derech eretz is more delicious than a four-course breakfast.
And last but not least, we tracked down Dudu Fisher in the middle of a rehearsal, preparing for his participation in Glenn Beck’s Restoring Courage rally in Jerusalem taking place that afternoon. His personal thoughts about derech eretz could land him back on Broadway.
By the time the show was over, as I sat with my wife Rivkah in the studio, I couldn’t believe the kindness Hashem showed me, and my audience, to help pull a show like this together. It went from an idea to a one-hour buffet of inspiration and emotion about derech eretz.
I thank my dear wife Rivkah, my dear Ima and sister Sue (and my Abba who I can’t blame for sleeping at 7am in Providence), Yishai Fleischer, Rabbi Avishai David, Shlomo Katz, Neshama Carlebach and Dudu Fisher for taking precious time to reach in themselves to teach and to touch us all.
I invite you to listen and enjoy, and let me know what you think!