Friday, September 21, 2018

A Very Very Simple Guide for Sukkot Celebration

This Year the Holiday of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah begins Sunday September 23, 2018 at Sunset (6:38 pm NY Time) - Ends on October 2 after Sunset (7:21 pm NY Time)

(In honor of Sukkot, please print BEFORE the Holiday begins - This Document contains G-d's Name, therefore it may NOT be thrown out)

For  a 2 minute video of Sukkot please visit:
As soon as the solemn day of Yom Kippur is behind us, we focus on the traditions of the upcoming joyous holiday of Sukkot. We build a temporary house called Sukkah, which remind us of the Clouds of Glory with which G-d surrounded the Jewish people in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt.

It is very special to experience a meal in a Sukkah and to 'shake' The Four Species (Lulav, Etrog, Aravot and Hadassim). If you have never done either before, visit

You can also visit to find a synagogue near you where you can be accommodated.


Elevating the Mundane

When we do a mitzvah (a commandment), we elevate ourselves, the object with which we did the mitzvah, and our environment. Most commandments are focused only on limited aspects of our being and limited dimensions of our environment. However, when it comes to dwelling in a Sukkah, not only is the entire body enveloped by the mitzvah, but so are the most mundane aspects of life. After all, by eating, drinking or even reading a good book in the Sukkah, we perform a mitzvah that encompasses our entire body!



Women (or if there isn't a woman in the house, the head of the household) lights candles.

Please light from existing fire of a candle you light prior to the Holiday.

For exact times in your area go to:

On Sunday September 23, 2018 (6:38 pm NY Time) and Monday September 24th (after 7:34 pm NY Time) and

Sunday, September 30, 2018  (6:26 pm NY Time)  and Monday October 2nd (after 7:22 pm)  say two prayers below:

1. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam asher ki-deshanu be-mitzvo-tav ve-tzvi-vanu Lehadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov 

(Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to light the candle of the Holida

2 . Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh

(Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.)

On Friday September 28 (at 6:29 pm NY Time) say:

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam asher ki-deshanu be-mitzvo-tav ve-tzvi-vanu Lehadlik Ner Shel Shabbos

(Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to  kindle the light of the Holy Shabbat)

Evening Kiddush for Wednesday and Thursday Nights

Kiddush is recited while holding a cup of kosher wine or grape juice.

Barukh atah A-do-nai, Elohaynu, melekh ha-olam asher bachar banu mee-kol am, v'rom'manu mee-kol lashon v'kee'd'shanu b'meetzvotav, va-teeten lanu, A-do-nai Elohaynu, b'ahavah mo'adeem l'seemchah, chageem u-z'maneem l'sason, et yom chag ha-Sukkot hazeh, z'man seemchateinumeekra kodesh, zeicher leetzeeyat meetz'rayeem Ki Vanu Vacharta V’osanu Keedashtsa Mekol Haamim U-mo'aday Kadsh’kha b'simchah u-v'sason hin’chal’tanu. Barukh atah Adonai, m’kadesh Yisra'el v'ha-z'manim. (Amein)

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe who has chosen us from among all people, and exalted us above every tongue and sanctified us with His commandments, and you gave us, Lord our God, with love appointed festivals for gladness, festivals and times for joy, this day of the festival of Sukkot, the time of our gladness a holy convocation, a memorial of the exodus from Egypt Indeed, You have chosen us and made us holy among all peoples and your holy festivals in gladness and in joy you have given us for an inheritance Blessed are You, who sanctifies Israel and the seasons. (Amen)

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Leshev Basukkah.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to sit in the Sukkah.


Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh

(Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.)

Friday Night Kiddush

Part 1 : (Quietly: Va-ye-hee erev, va-ye-hee voker.) Yom Ha-shishi. Va-ye-chulu hasha-mayim vi-ha-aretz vi-kole tzi-va-am. Va-yichal Elohim ba-yom hashe-vi'i milach-to asher asa. Va-yish-bose ba-yome hashe-vi'I mi-kole milach-to asher asa. Va-ye-varech Elohim es yom hashe-vi'i va-yi-kadesh oso. Kee voe shavas mi-kole milach-toe asher bara Elohim la-a-sose.

(Quietly: It was evening and it was morning.) The sixth day. So the heavens and the earth were finished, with all their complement. On the seventh day, God had completed His work which He had undertaken, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had been doing. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He ceased from all His creative work, which God had brought into being to fulfill its purpose.

Part 2:  Savri maranan ve-rabanan ve-rabosai: Baruch ata Adonoy, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei peri ha-gafen. (Others respond: "Amen")

Blessed are You God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. (Others respond: "Amen")

Part 3: Baruch ata Adonoy, Elo-heinu melech ha-Olam, asher kidish-anu bi-mitz-vosav vi-ratza vanu, vi-Shabbos kod-sho bi-ahava uv-ratzon hin-chi-lanu, zikaron lima-aseh vi-raishis. Ki hu yom ti-chila li-mikra-ay kodesh, zay-cher li-tzi-as mitz-rayim. Ki vanu vachar-ta vi-osanu kidash-ta mikol ha-amim. Vi-shabbos kod-shicha bi-ahava uv-ratzon hinchal-tanu. Baruch ata Adonoy, mi-kadesh ha-shabbos. ("Amen")

Blessed are You God, King of the Universe, who made us holy with his commandments and favored us, and gave us His holy Shabbat, in love and favor, to be our heritage, as a reminder of the Creation. It is the foremost day of the holy festivals marking the Exodus from Egypt. For out of all the nations You chose us and made us holy, and You gave us Your holy Shabbat, in love and favor, as our heritage. Blessed are you God, Who sanctifies Shabbat. (“Amen”)

Part 4:  Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Leshev Basukkah.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to sit in the Sukkah.

Pour some wine into a separate cup for guests and then drink the rest yourself without talking.

Challah in Honey

Immediately following the kiddush, we perform the ritual washing for bread. Fill a large cup with water. Pass the cup to your left hand and pour three times over your right hand. Repeat by pouring on your left hand. As you wipe your hands recite the blessing:

Baruch atah A-donoy, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al netilat yadayim.

When everyone has returned to the table, we raise the two challah loaves and recite the blessing:

Ba-ruch atah A-do-nay, E-lo-hei-nu Melech Ha-Olam, hamotzie le-chem min ha-are-tz.

Blessed are You, L-rd, our G‑d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Cut the challah, dip it in honey and salt, and have a bite. Pass around pieces and make sure everyone does the same.


On Sukkot there is a special Mitzvah to dwell in special hut called a Sukkah. Therefore one should eat and if one is able to even sleep in this holy abode. 

A Sukkah is a hut built to provide shade. That's why it must sit beneath the open sky—not under a patio deck or even the branches of a tree. The walls can be made of any material, as long as they are secure and don't flap about in the wind. The roof, however, (we call it s'chach), must be of unprocessed materials which have grown from the ground. Bamboo poles, thin wooden slats, and evergreen branches are popular choices. We make sure to use enough s'chach so that the inside of the sukkah has more shade than sunlight.

On Sukkot, along with the mitzvah of dwelling in the Sukkah comes the Scriptural obligation of “taking” the Four Species as instructed by the verse, “On the first day, you must take for yourself a fruit of the citron tree, an unopened palm frond, myrtle branches and willows of the brook.”

We SHAKE the Four species on all days of Sukkot except Shabbat 

The Four Species are co-dependent, and if one of the four is missing, the mitzvah is not fulfilled. In total, seven individual items are required for the mitzvah:

1. One Lulav

2. One Etrog

3. Two Aravot

4. Three Hadassim

Why are these four plants used instead of other plants? There are two primary explanations of the symbolic significance of these plants: that they represent different parts of the body, or that they represent different kinds of Jews.

According to the first interpretation, the long straight palm branch represents the spine. The myrtle leaf, which is a small oval, represents the eye. The willow leaf, a long oval, represents the mouth, and the Etrog fruit represents the heart.

All of these parts have the potential to be used for sin, but should join together in the performance of commandments and bring Divine Light into the world.

According to the second interpretation, the Etrog, which has both a pleasing taste and a pleasing scent, represents Jews who have achieved both knowledge of Torah and performance of mitzvot (commandments). The palm branch, which produces tasty fruit, but has no scent, represents Jews who have knowledge of Torah but are lacking in mitzvot. The myrtle leaf, which has a strong scent but no taste, represents Jews who perform mitzvot but have little knowledge of Torah. The willow, which has neither taste nor scent, represents Jews who have no knowledge of Torah and do not perform the mitzvot.

We bring all four of these species together on Sukkot to remind us that every one of these four kinds of Jews is important, and that we must all be united.

The Blessing for the Four Species

Take the etrog in your left hand with the stem (green tip) up and the pitam (brown tip) down. Take the lulav (including the palm, myrtle and willow branches bound together) in your right hand. Bring your hands together and recite the blessing below.

Barukh atah A-do-nai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam asher kidishanu b'mitz'votav v'tzivanu al n'tilat lulav (Amein)
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to take up the lulav (Amen)

First Day Only Add:

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
shehecheyanu v'kiyimanu v'higi'anu laz'man hazeh.
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign king of the universe
who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season (Amen)

After you recite the blessing, turn the etrog so the stem is down and the pitam is up. (Be careful not to damage the pitam)

With the lulav and etrog together, gently shake forward (East) three times, then pull the lulav and etrog back in front of your chest. Repeat this to the right (South), then over your right shoulder (West), then to the left (North), then up, then down.

Seven Guests

Sukkah generates an intense concentration of spiritual energy. During Sukkot the souls of the seven great leaders of Israel –Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and King David – actually leave Heavenly realm to partake in the Divine Light of Sukkot. Collectively these transcendent guests are known as Ushpizin, the Aramaic word meaning "guests."

Each of the seven Ushpizin correspond to a fundamental spiritual pathway through which the world is perfected

·                                 Abraham represents love and kindness

·                                 Isaac represents restraint and personal strength

·                                 Jacob represents beauty and truth

·                                 Moses represents eternality and dominance through Torah

·                                 Aaron represents empathy and receptivity to divine splendor

·                                 Joseph represents holiness and the spiritual foundation

·                                 David represents the establishment of the kingdom of Heaven on Eart

We can connect to these energies and learn from our great leaders.

Simchat Torah

Sukkot is the only holiday that really encompasses two holidays: Seven days of Sukkot and 2 Days of Shemini Atzeret [upon which we celebrate Simchat Torah on the second day]. These final two days begin at sundown on September 30, 2018 until nightfall on October 2 in 2018.

On this final day, it is customary to conclude and then immediately begin the annual cycle of Torah reading.

The highlight of this holiday is the boisterous singing and dancing in the synagogue, as the Torah scrolls are paraded in circles around.

Although the eighth day follows Sukkot, it is actually an independent holiday in many respects (we no longer take the Four Kinds or dwell in the sukkah). Jews outside of Israel still eat in the sukkah on the first of the two days of Shmini Atzeres.

The intermediate days (September 26  until sundown on September 30) are quasi holidays, known as Chol Hamoed, except for Shabbath.

One is permitted to drive and use electricity but should still act in ways fitting for a Holiday.

Water and Joy

On Sukkot, G‑d determines how much rain will fall that winter (the rainy season in Israel). Thus while every sacrifice in the Temple included wine libations poured over the altar, on Sukkot, water was also poured over the altar in a special ceremony. This ritual engendered such joy that it was celebrated with music, dancing and singing all night long. This celebration was called was “Simchat Beit Hasho’evah.”

Even today, when there is no Temple, it is customary to hold nightly celebrations that include singing and dancing (and even live music during the intermediate days of the holiday).

Inspirational Story

As we begin the New Year, we are humbled by the realization how dependant we are on our Creator. As we sit in the Sukkah during the Holiday of Sukkot, we are meant to ponder upon just how fragile our lives really are and how appreciative we must be of getting a gift of another year of Life. As the following true story illustrates. 
Had this not happened to me I would never have believed it. I was driving my smart car one day in Borough Park in New York  and for those of you that don’t know, a smart car is small and lightweight car. I stopped at a red light but I was daydreaming and when it became green I did not start driving right away. The driver in the car behind me – let’s call him Mr. Lexus – was very impatient and started honking his horn. As I started driving down the next block Mr. Lexus started to tailgate me and was overall acting in a very aggressive manner. Not wanting to be harassed I pulled over to the side and let Mr. Lexus move in front of me. 
As we came to the very next intersection the light was green and the Mr. Lexus rightfully proceeded to enter the intersection. When he was in middle the intersection a tow truck driving at 50 mph ran a red light and T-boned Mr. Lexus. The impact flipped Mr. Lexus’s car and send it tumbling over forty feet. Had I not moved over to let Mr. Lexus pass me, then I would have been in the intersection, and a driver of a smart car does not survive when a tow truck hits it at 50 mph. 
All of this started with the little detail of me having a daydream in my car. I guess what I am trying to say is that we sometimes have this idea that G-d is busy with the big issues of the world, the natural disasters, the climate change, and geopolitics. This story showed me that G-d is also involved in our day-to-day lives, and even a small detail like me getting harassed by an aggressive driver, was all part of a plan that was ultimately for my best. I came out of this not only shaken up because I almost lost my life but because I realized how precious and fragile life is. Enjoy every moment!

For my Short Russian video on the Holiday, please visit

For more information visit

Thursday, September 13, 2018

This Year Yom Kippur Begins on Tuesday September 18, 2018 Before Sunset and Ends on September 19 After Sunset

A Very Very Simple Guide for Yom Kippur Celebration

Image result for images yom kippur

(This Document contains G-d's Name, therefore it may NOT be thrown out)

Please watch this video before the Holiday:

For exact times in your area go to:

My Russian Video is available at:

Eating a Pre-Yom Kippur Holiday Meal

It is a mitzvah to eat and drink in abundance, more than one is normally accustomed to, before the onset of Yom Kippur. The Talmud states that "Whoever eats and drinks on the 9th of Tishrei (a day before), it is regarded as if he had fasted on both the 9th and the 10th." Before your pre-Yom Kippur meal wash your hands on bread. 

Fill a large cup with water. Pass the cup to your left hand and pour three times over your right hand. Repeat by pouring on your left hand. As you wipe your hands recite the blessing:

Baruch atah A-donoy, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al netilat yadayim.

[Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who sanctified with His Mitzvahs and commanded us on washing our hands]

When everyone has returned to the table, we raise the two challah loaves and recite the blessing:

Ba-ruch atah A-do-nay, E-lo-hei-nu Melech Ha-Olam, hamotzie le-chem min ha-are-tz.

[Blessed are You, L-rd, our G‑d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.]

Cut the challah, dip it in honey, and have a bite. Pass around pieces and make sure everyone does the same.

Lighting of the Candles

Women (or if there isn't a woman in the house, the head of the household), light candles.

Light the candles on the evening of Tuesday night, Sept. 18, 2018 at 6:46 pm (Philadelphia and NY time)

1) Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam asher ki-deshanu be-mitzvo-tav ve-tzvi-vanu le-hadlik ner shel HaYom Kippirim.

[Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Yom Kippur.]

2) Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.
[Blessed are You, L-ord our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.]

May each of us be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year!

Yom Kippur falls ten days after Rosh Hashanah on the 10th of Tishrei. The purpose of Yom Kippur is to bring about reconciliation between people and between individuals and God. According to Jewish tradition, it is also the day when God decides the fate of each human being. Although Yom Kippur is an intense holiday it is nevertheless viewed as a happy day. Why? Because if one has observed the holiday properly by the end of Yom Kippur they will have made peace.

There are five areas of pleasure that we avoid on Yom Kippur:

1.                  Eating or drinking.

2.                  Wearing leather footwear.

3.                  Bathing or washing.

4.                  Applying ointment, lotions, or creams.

5.                  Engaging in any form of spousal intimacy.

The prohibition against wearing leather comes from a reluctance to wear the skin of a slaughtered animal while asking God for mercy.

The Yom Kippur Fast Ends on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2018 at 7:42 pm (NY time)

There are three essential components of Yom Kippur: 

1.                  Repentance

2.                  Prayer

3.                  Fasting

Repentance (Teshuvah)


Yom Kippur is a day of reconciliation, when Jews strive to make amends with people and to draw closer to God through prayer and fasting. The ten days leading up to Yom Kippur are known as the Ten Days of Repentance. During this period Jews are encouraged to seek out anyone they may have offended and to sincerely request forgiveness so that the New Year can begin with a clean slate. If the first request for forgiveness is rebuffed, one should ask for forgiveness at least two more times, at which point the person whose forgiveness is being sought should grant the request.

This process of repentance is called TESHUVAH and it is a crucial part of Yom Kippur. Although many people think that transgressions from the
previous year are forgiven through prayer, fasting and participation in Yom Kippur services, Jewish tradition teaches that only offenses committed against God can be forgiven on Yom Kippur. Hence it is important that people make an effort to reconcile with others before participating in Yom Kippur services.


The day is spent in the synagogue, where we hold five prayer services:

  • Maariv, with its solemn Kol Nidrei service, on the eve of Yom Kippur;
  • Shacharit, the morning prayer, which includes a reading from Leviticus followed by the Yizkor memorial service;
  • Musaf, which includes a detailed account of the Yom Kippur Temple service;
  • Minchah, which includes the reading of the Book of Jonah;
  • Neilah, the “closing of the gates” service at sunset, followed by the shofar blast marking the end of the fast.


Yom Kippur is the longest synagogue service in the Jewish year. It begins on the evening before Yom Kippur day with a haunting song called KOL NIDREI  (All Vows). The words of this melody ask God to forgive any vows people have made to God and not kept. 

The service on the day of Yom Kippur lasts from morning until nightfall. Many prayers are said but one is repeated at intervals throughout the service. This prayer is called Al Khet and asks for forgiveness for a variety of sins that may have been committed during the year. The Jewish concept of sin is not like the Christian concept of original sin. Rather, it’s the kind of everyday offenses like hurting those we love, lying to ourselves or using foul language that Judaism views as sinful. You can clearly see examples of these infractions in the Yom Kippur liturgy, for instance in this excerpt from Al Khet: 

For the sin that we have committed under stress or through choice;
For the sin that we have committed in stubbornness or in error;
For the sin that we have committed in the evil meditations of the heart;
For the sin that we have committed by word of mouth;
For the sin that we have committed through abuse of power;
For the sin that we have committed by exploitation of neighbors;
For all these sins, O God of forgiveness, bear with us, pardon us, forgive us!

When Al Khet is recited people gently beat their fists against their chests as each sin is mentioned. Sins are mentioned in plural form because even if someone hasn’t committed a particular sin, Jewish tradition teaches that every Jew bears a measure of responsibility for the actions of other Jews.

During the afternoon portion of the Yom Kippur service the Book of Jonah is read to remind people of God’s willingness to forgive those who are sincerely sorry.

The last part of the service is called Ne’ilah (Shutting). The name comes from the imagery of Ne’ilah prayers, which talk about gates being shut against us. People pray intensely during this time, hoping to be admitted to God’s presence before the gates have been shut.



Yom Kippur is also marked by 25 hours of fasting. 

Girls who are 12 years or older and boys who are 13 years or older are required to participate in the full 25-hour fast along with adults. However, pregnant women, women who have recently given birth and anyone suffering from a life-threatening illness have to ask for advice from a Rabbi on how to observe the Fast. Judaism values life above the observance of Jewish law.

May you be blessed to end the fast with a feeling of deep serenity, which comes from having made peace with people in your life and with the Almighty!  

For more information visit:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Struck by a Bus

Susan Segal miraculously survived a near-fatal crash that revitalized her marriage and changed her and her husband’s lives.

Susan Segal is known to TV fans for her roles in 1990s sitcoms like Seinfeld, Murphy Brown, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. But one fine morning in Los Angeles, Susan appeared on all the networks in a real life-and-death drama.
She was driving her daughter to school when a dump truck – parked on a hilly side street – suddenly rolled into traffic on Hollywood Boulevard. A bus swerved to avoid the truck, then lost control and crossed the center divider. The bus struck Susan's car head-on, crushing her car and trapping her underneath the bus in a clump of twisted metal.
Miraculously, the Segal's daughter emerged with barely a scrape. But Susan's situation was dire. She'd broken C2 vertebra that nearly severed the arteries leading to her brain – the "hangman's injury" so named because death from hanging is usually from a broken neck (not strangulation). If it doesn't kill instantly, it typically – as in Christopher Reeve's case – causes full paralysis.
When Susan's husband Doug – a writer, director and producer of TV shows and feature films – arrived on the scene, he saw what looked like the set of a Hollywood disaster film. The street was completely blocked off and filled with fire engines, police cars and ambulances. News helicopters circled in the sky.
Susan had multiple broken bones, brain damage, and massive internal bleeding that immediately threatened her life. To rescue her, emergency crews first needed to somehow extract the car from under the bus, then cut the roof off the car. All the while, Susan was waving her one free arm, desperately reaching for help. "I'm dying! Help me! God, help me!" she cried.
Doug Segal's new book, Struck: A Husband’s Memoir of Trauma and Triumph, is a heartwarming, insightful, and courageously honest chronicle of that day and the long recovery that followed.
Doug and Susan spoke with from their home in Hollywood, California.

Miracle of Survival The lead doctor said that he'd never seen such a bad neck fracture that didn't have disastrous consequences. Six years later, Susan is 95 percent recovered.
Susan: It's a crazy miracle. People die from falling down the steps. The bus was nearly on my face.
Though I was unconscious for much of it, I have vivid thoughts of my father and grandmother there to help. My grandmother was a sweet Russian immigrant who used to tell me, "Suzallah, you're beautiful." She was confidence-building at a time when nobody thought about things like that.
So as the bus crushed against me, my entire body was injured – but nothing happened to my face. My grandmother was there protecting it. And my father lifted the bus off me. This experience is very real to me, deep in there. I think about it all the time.

Helping Hand The recovery process was painstaking and incremental. At one point, Susan said, "Maybe it would have been better if I'd died." What prompted that thought?
Susan: The amount of recovery was daunting, like exercising to an unimaginable degree. It was so much work just to lift my hand. I learned to measure progress not in days, but in weeks and months.
Doug: I think it was more than that. The thoughts about death came from a place of being a burden on me and the family. Susan felt if she was going to be a burden on everyone to take care of her, maybe it would be better if she just didn't survive.
Susan: I thought, "Oh my gosh, am I going to be in a wheelchair and need to be fed?" I hated that part. I want to be independent. I'm helping you, you're not helping me. I don't need help.
Doug: We learned that at some point, we all need help.

Marriage Boost In the book, Doug reveals that before the accident, he'd harbored an occasional fantasy of becoming a widower who "meets someone new, experiences the excitement of a blossoming relationship, and has a fresh start" in marriage. Given Doug's relentless devotion to Susan's welfare, Struck feels like a love story. In the end, did the accident provide that "fresh start"?
Doug: The accident was not an epiphany as much as a reminder of how deeply I love Susan. It reminded me of things I may have taken for granted.
In any relationship, in any marriage, there are annoyances and aggravations that come up. When the accident happened, I thought: If this is the end, will I forever feel guilty for all the unkind, unloving, petty, argumentative, impatient things I'd said and done?
Just because there are challenges doesn't mean it's a bad marriage. I think it's validating for people to read that someone else has the same dark thoughts. It makes them feel like, "Okay, maybe my dark thoughts are actually human. Working through things is normal and healthy. Just like this person found light and love through the dark thoughts, I can, too."

Bigger Picture Susan has lifelong scars, pain and mobility issues. All things considered, if you could do it over again, would you choose to have never had the accident?
Susan: I think about that when I look up at the stars. From a purely "health" perspective, I wouldn't want it because of continuing injuries. Right now my foot is numb and some parts in the morning don't work right. It's something that never leaves you.
Yet of course, good things have come out of it. Did my beautiful husband's writing get noticed? Sure. Do we have a story to tell? Yes. I didn't think it'd be a "getting-hit-by-a-bus" story, but are there some fascinating things? Absolutely. There's sadness in having this the rest of my life, but there's a lot of love in it, too. So although I wish the pain wasn't everlasting, I would say the pain is somehow worth the good that came out.
Doug: The most powerful feedback I got from my original emails was that it was helping others go through their own challenges. So if we can help other people get through their stuff, then yes, it starts to make it worth it.

Excerpt from Struck:

I'm not sure, even given the choice, whether I'd want to live without life's heavy weights. The greater the pain we allow ourselves to feel, the greater the joy we can experience in return, spiking up and down like the EKG of a heart. Limit the pain and we limit the joy, compressing the lines closer and closer, flatter and flatter. Without the up-and-down spikes of life's heartaches and elations, like an EKG in flatline, we cease to live.

Meaning of Life Susan, you survived the unsurvivable. Doctors inserted titanium rods and metal plates to hold your broken bones, and for the neck injury your head was in a metal halo, held into place with two-inch screws drilled into your skull. Lying there with the halo, I imagine you'd pondered the meaning of life.
Susan: Many people have asked: "What are you going to do now? What is God's plan for you? You must be saved for something. You must be here for a bigger reason." That used to drive me crazy, because I thought: Yah, what am I going to do? Solve world peace? Solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Because I was hit by a bus, do I have that ability? I wish.
So I think: What's wrong with what I was doing before? I've always tried to set a good example for my children, to live a healthy life, to be a good person. I had good friends and a good marriage. I was living the best life I knew how. Can I be better? I'll try. Can I do more? I'll try. Could I give more to others? Yes. Could I be more grateful? Yes.
Doug: In my estimation, Susan didn't live with a lot of regrets, and then have to go correct those regrets. She was happy with the life she had and just wanted to return to that.
Susan: I think my main contribution is to spread the message that we all face challenges in life. Everybody’s got their bus. But you can survive something like this – if you're healthy, think positive thoughts, and have a loving, supportive community surrounding you. That makes all the difference.

Community Support Within hours of the accident, friends had sprung into action preparing meals, organizing carpools for your two children, and showered you with an outpouring of love, support, compassion and prayer. How important was this?
Susan: The way I got better was through humor, love of community, love of family, and positive thinking. Those are the reasons I'm here.
Doug: It was a two-way street. I'd send an update, and the next morning have a hundred emails in response telling me how moved they were by our circumstance; how it had made other husbands look at their own marriages; how others cherished and valued their families more; how people were forwarding my emails to friends who were also going through difficult times and found comfort through our situation; how people from all around the world, from every religion, were praying for us. That was exactly where I got my strength to continue. What struck you the most about people's reaction?
Doug: So many people asked, "What can I do to help?" I'd tell them: "Send positive thoughts, send love, send healing energy," and they'd respond, "Sure, I'll do that. But do you need a meal?" The meal was a tangible way to show they care. "Here's a gift" or "Here's a meal" is a safer way of expressing love. Handing over a casserole is less vulnerable than showing up and verbalizing, "Wow, I love you." For me, I don't need the physical object. The showing up to be there with us, that's what you give me.
Susan: The accident gave people an opportunity to be loving and show that side. Maybe we don't give others enough opportunity to do that. I'm convinced that so many people caring is why I'm alive today.
Doug: Because the accident was so public in the news and in our community, it was easier than suffering silently through a private trauma, where people don't know to come forward and say, "What can I do for you?" People really do care, and that was a really wonderful validation through all this. As divided as we can be, especially today, in moments of crisis and adversity, people put aside that stuff and the goodness of people's hearts come out.

Supporting Characters I understand the total hospital bill was $7.5 million. Did you ever hear anything from the truck driver that caused this?
Doug: A friend of mine was at a convention for the construction industry and saw a former colleague who seemed really down. My friend said, "What's going on? You seem upset." The man said, "A few months ago I was involved in a horrible accident. My truck rolled into Hollywood Boulevard and people were badly injured. It's been really hard for me." When my friend told him that Susan survived, he was greatly relieved. Why didn't he ever contact you?
Doug: Apparently because his insurance company and lawyers told him not to, since that is legally admitting fault. That's the sad thing. We get in the way of people's humanity, and they have to live without ever being able to say, "Hey, I'm really sorry. I know it's impacted you terribly, and I feel horrible about that." It doesn't allow them to gain forgiveness, which is important in allowing people to move on.
Susan: One of the coolest parts of this whole experience is when an ICU nurse came running over to me in the supermarket parking lot: "Aren't you the one hit by the bus!?" There was great beauty in seeing her excitement when I say, "Yes, it's me, and here I am!"
Doug: Emergency personnel often don't get to hear the end of the story. We met one fireman who said, "I cut the roof off the car. I didn't know whether you lived or not. After I cut the roof and pull out a body, I never know what happens."
He rescued Susan from the crumpled wreckage and figured she'd never make it. Now he sees her standing there with life and humor, it makes him feel like, "Okay, I had a good day."

Celebrate Life There's an expression: "Live life to the fullest today because tomorrow you may get hit by a bus." Has the accident changed your daily outlook?
Doug: Susan never saw herself as a victim. A physical therapist who came to our house had never met Susan but had reviewed her medical records. With her list of injuries, he expected to find someone writhing in pain, curled into a ball unable to move, perhaps even unable to communicate. So when he walked in and found a cheery, energetic Susan, he looked confused, like he had walked into the wrong home. He double-checked his clipboard, "Wait, you're the one who was hit by the bus, right?"
Susan: People would expect me to be so hurt and so down. Their reactions were very revealing. I could tell who was really in my corner, and others whose anxieties and fears came through when they'd see me.
Doug: At the beginning, many of our friends were like, "How different is she going to be? She had such a spirit of life. Is that now zapped from her?" It's often true that a traumatic event changes people. What's remarkable with Susan is that it didn't beat her down.
Doug: At our High Holiday services, there's a part where the rabbi says, "Anyone with something to celebrate, please come up." So people get up and say they had a grandchild or got a new job. The year after the accident, I said to Susan and said, "You've got to go up." She was reluctant but agreed. When it was her turn, she uttered, "I'm alive?" The whole room roared in applause.
Susan: It was just an honest reaction. People still come up to me about that moment, because I think it validated living. Simply living. That is the greatest gift we have. We just don't recognize it.
Doug: Also, it had a little question mark of inflection at the end, like, "I don't have a new baby or a new job. But I have everything because I'm alive. Do I need more than that?" What will you be thinking at the High Holidays this year?
Susan: When we're sitting in services, it's a reconnection. We're lucky to have each other in that moment. I love that we're sitting together as a community praying. To me, that is more Godly than almost anything else.
And when we get to that emotional part of the service (Nesaneh Tokef), I always think, "Who shall live and who shall die? Who by fire, who by water... and who shall get hit by a bus."

Excerpt from Struck:

When I was in college and living in New York City, there was a news story about someone who got hit in the head and killed by a brick that fell off of a construction site. With all the scaffolding I walked under on a daily basis, that easily could have been my brick, my head. Living in fear of that is surely unhealthy and can be debilitating, but there's a balance to be found knowing that, even though it's unlikely, it's still a possibility. An awareness of all the random acts of tragedy that populate today's world demands a sense of appreciation and gratefulness when they don't fall upon us.
Last year, Susan and I planned a trip to take the kids to Paris. A week before we were set to leave, the terrorist attack at the Bataclan theater occurred. We were nervous about going but ultimately decided not to cancel.
In the London airport, while we were transferring to our flight to Paris, we began a conversation with two women. When they asked us where we were going, we hesitantly said, "Paris." They looked at us and with lilting accents, said, "We have to live for today because you never know… tomorrow you might get hit by a bus."
Please pray for Susan's full recovery – Sara Blimah bat Leah.
Look for Doug and Susan on the Today Show, October 2, 2018.