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Rosh Hashanah is one of the most important Jewish holidays. Literally translated, Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year.”

The New Year 5780 officially starts on September 30th, but all Jewish holidays begin at sundown on the evening before, so Rosh Hashanah actually begins tonight. The night before Rosh Hashanah is known as Kol Nidre, and then the holiday lasts until nightfall two days later, on Tuesday, October 1st. In regards to the Hebrew calendar, the New Year begins on the first day of the seventh Hebrew month; Tishri. 

Day of Judgement

The beginning of each year is considered a renewal; when people have the opportunity to be better, because they know that they are being judged by God. For this reason, the first day of Rosh Hashanah is officially known as the “Day of Judgment”. This is when our creator weighs the good and bad deeds each person has done throughout the previous year. He then chooses whether or not to “inscribe us in the next year’s Book of Life.” If it sounds serious, that’s because it is serious—it’s a matter of life and death!

Days of Awe

The Jewish New Year leads into a 10-day grace period, known as the Days of Awe, during which people are encouraged to take the time to repent for their sins through “teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah,” repentance, prayer, good deeds. During the Days of Awe, Jews ask God for forgiveness and promise to reform their evil ways, so that they will be worthy enough to be inscribed into the next year’s Book of Life. In addition, God requires every Jew to make peace with anyone they had a disagreement with in the previous year. They also have to pay off their debts and think about any mistakes made in the past year.

Thinking about mistakes leads people to ponder ways in which they can do things differently in the coming year. The goal of this entire process is to be inscribed in the Book of Life, because those who do evil and don’t repent risk having their names inscribed in the Book of Death and Misfortune.

“L’shana tova!” is how Jews greet each other during their New Year. Translated from Hebrew, it means “Have a good New Year”. Another popular greeting echoes the goal of living another year, “L’shana tova tika tevu” – may you be inscribed for a good New Year!

Cast Away Your Sins

It’s a tradition for Jews to symbolically cast off their sins into a body of running water. This is known as tashlikh, and the ceremony takes place just before sunset on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. During this time, we recall the last verses of the prophet Micah (7:19), “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

People who aren’t Jewish are surprised to learn that the Hebrew calendar date of Rosh Hashanah is not celebrated on the first day of the year. According to the Torah, the month of Nisan is really the first month.  “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. (Exodus 12:2) Nisan is the month when Passover is celebrated.

Tishri, as mentioned previously, is the seventh month. The Babylonians may have had a hand in the origins of this tradition, but the rabbis who lived during the years following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE proclaimed this particular date to be the anniversary of the momentous day when humanity was created.

Celebrate 5780!

On Rosh Hashanah, apples and honey are a blessing.

During the Rosh Hashanah meal, it’s customary to wish each other a “sweet New Year.” This typically happens as everyone dips apple slices into honey; a gesture which is seen as a blessing for “a sweet New Year”. 

One way to make this tradition more fun is to do a honey tasting, especially if you have access to local honeys and a variety of versions. 

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen

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Sam Kieffer is only 11 years old, but that doesn’t stop him from doing what he can to help fund research that could save his father’s life.


“When I was 7 years old, I found out the unfortunate truth; that my dad had an epidermoid brain tumor,” Sam recalls. 

The precocious pre-teen took time out from selling lemonade and cookies at a community event on Sunday to do a quick, impromptu interview. With the help of some friends and his Mom, Terri, Sam is raising money for the Epidermoid Brain Tumor Society.

Sam says that he felt helpless when he first heard about his dad’s diagnosis, but then he realized that there was a way he could actually help. Together with his younger siblings; brother Jesse and sister Savannah, the Kieffer kids began raising research funds for the rare tumor through their own “Save The Brains” campaign. Masterminding the operation, Sam has hosted so many lemonade stands and bake sales that his group has raised tens of thousands of dollars to become the single largest donor to Save the Brains.


When he’s not securing funding for Save the Brains, Sam is getting donations for his outdoor food pantry, which he calls Sam’s Blessings Box. Located in his Pittsburgh neighborhood, the Blessings Box is a way for people in need to obtain free food and toiletries.

But that’s not all–this whiz kid has published a book of poetry, titled “Freedom Zone”, in 2018. I reported on Sam’s accomplishment for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette more than a year ago. He had just hosted his first book signing at a local library and was getting rave reviews.

“This child takes what he’s feeling on the inside and makes it a positive thing to help his dad and other people,” Sam’s 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Brianna Amoscato, told me. 

Sounding like an adult, Sam credits her encouragement as the reason he published his first book. 

“I thought I would be terrible at writing poetry,” he readily admits, “But then we got to share our poetry, and my teacher loved it. She said, ‘Holy cow! These are really good!’”

“For a student his age, it’s a phenomenal talent,” said Mrs. Amoscato, adding, “Sam is very creative, and his language is sophisticated.”

Watching his young son do whatever he can to raise funding to find a cure, Sam’s dad has a new outlook on his brain tumor. “He sees it as a blessing,” Terri tells me, “because our son is doing so much to try to help others who also have it.” 

Fewer than 2 percent of the American population have this tumor. The Epidermoid Brain Tumor Society has been searching for a scientist to take interest in studying the rare tumor. They hope that the additional funding brought in by Sam and others like him will facilitate such research.

Listed on Amazon, “Freedom Zone” costs $10. “Half of the money I make from my book goes to the Epidermoid Society to help my dad, and the other half goes to my college fund,” says Sam. He has since found that he really enjoys creating his own comic books and intends to come out with a new book amidst his busy schedule. “Drawing is something I like to do in my free time.”


“Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Give it a try, and if it doesn’t work, always think of a different way to do it,” says Sam. 

It’s sage advice from someone in sixth grade. His attitude is positive, and he prefers to focus on a good outcome to any dilemma. According to this wise young man, “You hear a lot of things on the news about bad people, but there are good people out there, you just have to know where to look. I think perspective is everything, and a bad thing isn’t always a bad thing if you take a look with a new perspective.”

Sam plans to continue his efforts to help raise money and awareness of the Epidermoid brain tumor. You can help by purchasing his book on Amazon and following his Facebook page.  

I will certainly continue to follow Sam’s adventures and accomplishments. 


Sam is in the process of reading my book: Like It Was Yesterday, A Journalist’s Files Since 9/11. I took the opportunity to ask him his thoughts on it, and his reply blew me away!

“It’s a good book, but it’s also very deep and sad,” he told me, adding that prior to reading my book, he didn’t know very much about 9/11. “I knew that there were plane attacks and the Twin Towers were demolished, but that’s about all I could tell you. I knew that it was obviously a sad day, but I had no idea how actually tragic it was. Seeing how everyone reacted, all the phone lines down, people trying to call their loved ones…”

Sam’s mom also told me that while he’s reading the book, they have had insightful conversations about 9/11. “Your book started us talking about that day with him,” she told me. “Thank you so much for writing it.” 

I wondered if Sam was affected by knowing more details about America’s reaction to 9/11. Was he worried such an event might happen today? He said he’s aware that bad things can happen, but he’s not going to live his life in fear. “I try to look for the positive in most situations,” he explains.


With a thriving charitable “business” going on in the background, Sam has clearly learned how to make a sour experience sweet. 

“In the beginning, I thought I had no control and there was nothing I could do, “ he recalls. 

At the tender age of seven, Sam thought about his father’s situation and realized that by raising funds for research, he could take action all by himself. “That’s when I started looking for positive outcomes. It started with a hot chocolate stand and progressed from there,” he says. He’s not yet a teenager, but his wisdom is timeless… and timely.

People should inspire their kids, Sam advises. “The sky’s the limit, and you can do what you want if you believe in your heart,” he says, noting that he realizes that he’s become a role-model for other kids his age. “It’s a really good feeling to inspire other people.”

“Sam’s presentation at SNHL was beyond words,” described librarian Mrs. Ing Kalchthaler, Youth Services Coordinator, of his June 5 book signing. “So many people of all ages came out to hear him and were inspired. Here I am 46 years old, and I feel renewed and inspired.”


Sam set a goal of reaching $15,000 by the end of summer, and he’s currently only about $140 away! Please help Sam reach his goal:

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen


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IN CASE YOU DIDN’T NOTICE… While most Americans were obsessing over the ridiculous Mueller hearing and speculating on whether child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was nearly “suicided” by the Clintons last night, North Korea fired two short-range missiles early this morning.

According to news reports, South Korea’s military said that this was the first missile test since Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump agreed to start talking about denuclearization again.

Thursday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff stated, “North Korea today launched two unidentifiable objects at 5:34 and 5:57 am.”

They said that the first missile traveled approximately 270 miles, while the second flew about 428 miles. Both missiles flew at a maximum altitude of approximately 30 miles.

Just after tracking the first launch, the South Korean military announced, “Our military is keeping close watch in case of additional launches.”

The missiles landed in the Sea of Japan. They reportedly were discharged from the eastern part of North Korea.

“By firing missiles, taking issue with military drills and showing a new submarine, the North is sending one clear message: there might be no working-level talks if the United States doesn’t present a more flexible stance,” said Kim Hong-kyun, a former South Korean nuclear envoy.

S. Korean military has speculated that what the North tested this morning “seems to be a new type of missile.”

But other analysts have opined that these were the same types of missiles previously tested by Pyongyang in May.

U.N. Security Council resolutions have banned Pyongyang from using ballistic technology in any kind of launch, so North Korea could face punitive measures, if this is found to be the case.

The rogue regime is required to make significant strides toward disarmament before the US will even consider removing the sanctions that have been imposed upon it.

Some experts think that North Korea may be using these launches in an effort to get the upper hand, once they restart denuclearization talks.

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PERSIAN-AMERICAN AUTHOR AND ACTRESS NASRIN MOHAMMADI of Los Angeles arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida last week to promote her book, “Ideas and Lashes: The Prison Diary of Akbar Mohammadi”.


She says that her week spent in South Florida was “like a dream,” because she was able to declare her full support for the POTUS without fear of bodily harm.

Nasrin at the Broward Republican Executive Committee meeting

“Coming from the political environment of Los Angeles, California has been a living hell for me,” says Nasrin, now back home on the West Coast. “I constantly hear lies about how my President Donald Trump is this horrible person. I can’t openly express my support and love for our President. I always kept hope that one day I would be able to formally and openly support President Trump in a friendly environment.”

Her wish came true the moment she stepped off the plane and began meeting Floridians who share her same political views.

Nasrin on The Justice Hour with Family Law Attorney Lisa Macci.

Nasrin’s love and admiration for today’s American President is refreshing. She grew up under Sharia law and watched her brother tortured and killed and her family torn apart, all because of their Christian faith.

This woman’s message of MAKE IRAN GREAT AGAIN is resonating among Americans who are tired of hearing refugees bash President Trump for his so-called “racism”.

“In Florida, people treated me with respect and wanted to hear what I had to say. Unlike in California, where people disregard me—even with my tumultuous immigrant background from a tyrannical country! The people in Florida gave me the opportunity to express what I feel needs to be said about our current situation in our country and the world. In Florida, I could openly wear and display my support for President Donald Trump, and not fear reprisal,” she explains.

“Being an Iranian woman who immigrated as a political refugee, I break the mold of the mainstream media’s narrative of the stereotype of the common Trump supporter,” she notes, adding, “The people in Florida treated me with respect, and I felt at peace.”

Meeting Scott Newmark, president and founder of Americans for Trump Inc.

“It was my pleasure to visit with Nasrin Mohammadi in my office,” said Scott Newmark, president and founder of Americans for Trump Inc, which is headquartered in Broward County. “This brave person is a Trump patriot who is also continuously fighting to free Iran from the brutal oppression of the Islamic Republic of Iran.“


The story of how Nasrin was denied boarding her flight on Monday night has gone viral. Thousands of Trump supporters are incensed about the way she was treated, but Nasrin wants everyone to take a step back from the edge of anger.

Photo by Benjamin H. Bennett Nasrin at the airport, wearing her MAGA clothes


“As soon as I started to board my flight back to Los Angeles, I experienced that old discrimination again, but this time, I had people who cared about me to back me up,” she recalls.

Her manager, Ben Bennett, a local fixture in South Florida’s Republican community, had a feeling that something wasn’t right after he dropped her off in front of the airport.

He waited instead of driving away and was not surprised when he received a phone call from Nasrin, telling him that she had been denied boarding.

She then called journalist Jill Cueni-Cohen, who immediately took her in. The two had spent a lot of time together, doing interviews and getting acquainted.

Photo by Jill Cueni-Cohen Nasrin toured Trump National Golf Course with Journalist Jill Cueni-Cohen

“I was sorry for what Nasrin went through at the airport,” says Jill. “But I admit that I was thrilled to be able to spend more time with her. Her story is tragic… and inspiring! She makes it so clear that we are lucky to live in such a wonderful, freedom-loving country.”

She also makes it clear that Floridian Trump supporters are fortunate to be in the majority.

“I can’t wait to come back to Florida and actively campaign for President Donald Trump in 2020; Florida is the real America, unlike those brainwashed people who live in a bubble,” says Nasrin, in reference to Trump-haters.

When asked if she ever wears her MAGA hat in public in LA, she gasps, “No way! I will get attacked.”

In Fort Lauderdale, her pro-Trump outfit mostly attracts new friends.

Photo by Benjamin Bennett Attending a church service with Jill Cueni-Cohen

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen

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Clad in pro-Trump apparel, Persian American author Nasrin Mohammadi had just spent a whirlwind week visiting Fort Lauderdale on her latest book tour.

Prior to leaving town, she was able to squeeze in one last event —the Broward Republican Executive Community’s monthly meeting—before heading to the airport and checking in her luggage.

Nasrin Mohammadi (and most Iranian citizens) loves President Trump!

Nasrin arrived at the gate and was ready to board her flight at 9:25pm, which was scheduled to depart at 9:33pm.

The door to the jetway was open, and two Spirit Airlines ticketing agents had just let a man go through.

Wearing her MAGA hat and shirt, Nasrin showed them her ticket, and they told her that she would have to get another ticket. They would not allow her to board.

Her luggage was on the plane, a passenger had just entered the jetway, and yet the two agents stared at her clothes with obvious disdain as they informed her, “We can’t do anything for you. You’re too late.”

Nasrin then went to customer service, who told her, “You had to have been there before 9:30.”

She told them, “I was there at 9:25!” And then they were quiet.

Nearly in tears, Nasrin called her manager, Ben Bennett, and asked him to come and get her from the airport.

She was rebooked on a flight for the next day.

“Being in Florida has been like a dream for me, I have never been treated with so much kindness!” says Nasrin. “But going to the airport in my Trump clothes was another story. Some people were staring at me, and there were others who were actually shielding their eyes! A couple of men told me, ‘Good job,’ but most people looked angry. The Spirit employees were very unfriendly. I couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t let me on the plane when I was there on time!”

©️Jill Cueni-Cohen

Nasrin Mohammadi met Israeli Pastor Steven Khoury and talked about the current problems in the Middle East.

Nasrin found refuge at the home of journalist and author Jill Cueni-Cohen.