Sep 24, 2019 Local Jewish News



J.S. Silverstein loves seeing the ‘Big Picture’. (Or at least the bigger picture.)

His unusually varied background has taken him to places that helped guide him to a more worldly – and inspired perspective. A Midwestern boy at heart, coming from the world-class metropolis, Gary, Indiana, he learned to speak fluent Hebrew at the Day school he commuted to daily – in Chicago. Matriculating at Skokie Yeshiva, then going on for a BA in psychology and pre-med., he opted for a shorter path to academic freedom by earning an MS in engineering (in only 2 years) from Northwestern University.

Feeling stifled, cranking out engineering reports and crunching algorithms, he yearned for greater creative – and lucrative – expression and so became a model. He was thus able to learn photography from the working masters in Chicago, NY, and LA. It also provided him with a ticket – literally – (on Swiss Air), to work in Europe in front of the lens, which then opened the door to his first trip to Israel. He was able to plug into his Day-school Hebrew, and enjoy his fifteen minutes of celebrity (actually, it was six months, but it went by quickly). Returning from the year abroad to the US with a profoundly seasoned perspective, he began writing – divrei Torah, and elected to shift careers to working on the other side of the lens – as an advertising copywriter.

In developing his portfolio, he hired an artist who later invited him to a party. It was there that he serendipitously met his future wife, Ella. (Ella originally did not want to go to that party, but instead, listened to her inner voice saying she would meet someone there. And she did.)

Although he did not land that dream job in the ad biz, he did find his bashert in the process, and eventually moved to the Pico ‘hood’, where he currently resides with his family.

When he’s not working as a medical sales specialist during the day, he’s busy taking notes, writing jokes, poems and little ditties in his ever-present pocket notebooks. He also loves writing original Torah exegesis, intimately connecting seemingly disparate narratives based on Talmudic and rabbinic sources, under his moniker, Beor Panecha.

His perspective has also allowed him to craft simple stories – parables – designed to convey a higher message to help others see the bigger Picture – always in a positive light.  

Descending from eminent Chassidic Masters*, J.S. Silverstein has now written a children’s book.  *B”eShT, Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev

An allegorical story about hashgacha pratis – divine providence, “The Original Tale of Sara n’ Dippity” tells the tale of how two friends meet, and go on to become behind-the-scenes guardian angels. It’s a tale about friendship and hope that kids love, and adults ponder.

The concept for the book and the characters names both happened quite serendipitously

“I was baby sitting for my nephews and they wanted a bed time story. I began making up
a story on the spot.  Because I had just finished a book about the war I read how Jewish women migrating to the US
often had the name ‘SARA’ stamped on their passport and ‘ABRAHAM’ for men.  So while developing the story on the spot
I used the name Sara for the main character.  In addition, earlier that day I had taken my
nephews to the park and I saw ducks dunking their heads under water.  So I named the other character “Dippity” for the ducks
I saw dipping their heads in the water.   So the result was Sara & Dippity. How the characters in the story meet is also very serendipitous. 
The story came out in a serendipitous manner without me even realizing it. I originally wrote the book 20 years ago and now
20 years later I actually re-wrote and published the book.”

Children and adults will find out that angels come in many forms. More often than not, it’ll be the most unlikely of characters often working
behind the scenes and out of sight. And when you most need them they appear and even when you do not event know it.