ISIS Ruined Our Vacation


So we rolled the dice this Thanksgiving vacation and came up sort of empty.

We were supposed to go to Las Vegas, but then there is ISIS threatening to strike the U.S. 

Already, ISIS is claiming 71 soldiers in 15 states in the U.S., and the FBI is saying that ISIS terrorists are being recruited in all 50 states

Yet our leadership doesn’t want to fight ISIS while they are still over there–instead, we are foolishly waiting for the next big terror attack over here, as if 9/11 with 3,000 dead wasn’t enough!

We are stubborn, deaf to the terror threats, reactive, and refuse to wake up to the danger that is facing our country. 

Dancing around the issue with some drone and airstrikes–no matter how lethal–is not going to remove this enormous terror threat–coming from some of the most barbaric of enemies that we have ever faced. 

My sister told me from a lecture she heard recently about the terrorist threats we are facing, “We are used to fighting finite wars–there is a start/middle/end. [But] they [ISIS] fights infinite wars–not defined [by time or space].”

So how did we come to cancelling our Vegas holiday vacation?

Here is our story…

The number 613 in Judaism is very important–it represents the number of commandments in the Torah.

We have been seeing this number lately wherever we go: We look at the clock, it’s 6:13. We are driving and look at the license plate in front of us–613. We go shopping and the receipt is for $6.13. We rolled a pair of dice (above), that’s right 613, and much more. 

We asked what this means and were told it’s a warning and to do teshuva (repentance) and follow the commandments more stringently. 

On Shabbat this week, I was reading the Wall Street Journal, and then saw an article on a new illustrative book of the commandments called, “The 613.”

That night, I dreamed the entire night about 613–and the need to unlock the code of what it meant for us. 

The next day, my wife said “I have a really bad feeling about Vegas, let’s go visit your parents graves.”

When we got there, my wife touched the tombstone, and said she could hear my dad telling her not to go to Vegas–was this just playing on her imagination?

So she calls her father who is chasidic and he contacts a famous, pious and mystical Rabbi, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe–and without asking him about the trip–the Rebbe just pops out to my father-in-law that he should tell us not to go on our trip, and if we have to go, to take a different path.

My wife tells her father that we already made plans, have tickets, and don’t want to cancel the trip, so we are instructed to give charity (so I immediately write a check for $613!) and do other deeds for repentance instead. 

Then the night before we are supposed to fly out, my daughter comes out with her iPhone and a news items on the State Department issuing a global travel alert “amid concerns that terror groups and individuals plan more attacks after the Paris massacres.”

If all this wasn’t enough, my back which has been hurting the last week, then completely gives out out on me–and in enormous pain, we simply can’t go anywhere.

One warning, two warnings, three warnings…we can’t be deaf to G-d’s message.

So on this Thanksgiving, a sincere thank you to Hashem (and the Vizhnitzer Rebbe) for guiding us and keeping us from danger.

And a not so thank you to ISIS for implicitly spoiling our Thanksgiving holiday plans to Vegas. 

A small and insignificant, but nevertheless a casualty to our political disengagement, false appeasement, fearfulness to recognize the enemy, and war-weariness to take the bastards down and take them down hard and for good before something, G-d forbid, serious and much worse happens. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Speed Of Time

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So a friend told me yesterday something interesting about the passing of time. 

We were looking back and saying how quickly it all goes…

I said, “Like the blink of an eye!”

He then told me this:

“Time is like the speed of a automobile. 

Your age is how fast the car is going. 

So for a child of 10-years old, the car is going 10 miles an hour…and it feels too slow. 

But for an adult of 60-years old, the car is going 60 miles per hour…too fast–in this case, 5 miles over the speed limit. 

The older you get the faster the whole thing goes by.”

I told him how much I liked this explanation. 

And finished by saying, that in the end, we should just have good memories of it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Top 30 Legacy Of Hope And Change

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Over 7 long years, the promise of “hope and change” has given way instead to the disappointment of chaos and dysfunction.

Just some 30 examples off the top of my head…

1) Nuclear IRAN

2) Civil War SYRIA

3) Fragmented IRAQ

4) Taliban resurgent AFGHANISTAN

5) Militarization of SOUTH CHINA SEA

6) Nuclear missile NORTH KOREA

7) Terrorist State ISIS

8) Resurgent aggressive RUSSIA

9) Weaponization of SPACE

10) Streaming crisis of REFUGEES

11) Broken system for IMMIGRATION

Sharply rising MURDER RATES

13) Growing and largest PRISON POPULATION

14) Rising RACISM

15) Increasing INEQUALITY

16) Worsening polarization in POLITICS


18) Dysfunction in GOVERNMENT


20) Crisis in HEALTHCARE

21) Failing system of EDUCATION

22) Stalling INNOVATION

23) Growing insecurity of CYBER 

24) Infringement on PERSONAL PRIVACY

25) Falling participation in LABOR FORCE

26) Slowing ECONOMY

27) Worsening CLIMATE CHANGE

28) Shrinking affiliation with RELIGION


30) Declining HAPPINESS

Now, one of our main hopes has to be genuine change for the better. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Silence In The Face Of Ongoing Terror And Murder


In the recent wave of terror attacks in Israel, in less than 3 months (Oct 1- Nov 23), there have been:

– 21 Murdered 

– 184 Wounded (20 critically)


– 74 Stabbings

– 10 Shootings

– 11 Car Rammings

The murdered include Ezra Schwartz, an 18-year old American citizen from Massachusetts. 

Despite the terrorism and the death of an American citizen along with so many other innocent Jews, the superpower country of the world is silent–not calling it reprehensible or deplorable or condemning it or demanding the terrorism stop immediately. 

– Silence, despite about the murder of Jews and even its own U.S. citizen in Israel on November 19.

– Silence, yet signing nuke deals with “Axis Of Evil” Iran–the #1 state sponsor of terrorism (undiminished in 2015) and top abuser of human rights.

– Silence in the face of terror attacks against Jews elsewhere abroad, like the Jewish teacher stabbed and killed in Paris last week by three assailants shouting anti-Semitic insults? 

– Silence through a “no-show” at the Solidarity Rally in Paris with 40 other heads of state in January to denounce the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo and on the Jewish grocery store that killed 17 innocent people. 

Could this perhaps be payback time to one of it’s closest friends and allies for: 

– Continuing settlements for an expanding Israeli population who are surrounded by hostile neighbors that want to throw them into the Mediterranean Sea. 

– For a peace deal with the Palestinians that didn’t materialize without a peace parter that would recognize the Jews States’ right to even exist.

– For Netanyahu’s objection to the Iranian nuke deal that put’s Israel in the crosshairs of a sprouting nuclear regime that threatens annihilation against it. 

Regardless of why, it is abundantly clear that the killing of Jews in Israel and abroad is tacitly being given the green light to continue–and so it’s an open field day for terror and murder of Jews!

Even the generally harsh critic of Israel, Amnesty International, has come out calling the terror against Israel “reprehensible and unjustified” and “a clear contempt for human life.”

The appalling indifference to the murder of Jews by top administration officials, just 70-years after the Holocaust, is being heard loud and clear around the world.   

– It is a sanctioning of terrorism and murder, period. 

– It is reprehensible, period. 

– It is cementing a legacy of blind hatred and blatant discrimination and anti-Semitism that will go down in history, period. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Am Doing


Today, a disabled man asked the lifeguard at the pool, “How are you doing?”

The lifeguard couldn’t understand or fully hear the disabled man who had to repeat the question multiple times.

Then, the lifeguard responded, “I am doing well. How are you doing?”

The disabled man with a blank to sad look on his face says, “I am doing.”

His response of just “doing” (not well, good, or fine) was like just going on day-to-day amidst very challenging life circumstances of illness and disability–just in a state of being, but certainly not feeling like he was thriving in his current life. 

It reminded me of my own parents, survivors of the Holocaust. 

After the horror and loss of the Holocaust everything, including coming to this country without a dime or a job was just a cakewalk in comparison. 

For 25-years, my dad would never even go to the doctor. 

He would say, “G-d is my doctor!”

Only later in life, when all his friends were sick or failing, and my mom was so sick with Parkinson’s would my dad respond to people’s questions of how he was, by saying simply, “Surviving!”

And then often adding, “We are part of the survivors’ club.”

When we’re young, healthy, and vibrant, the world seems too small compared to what we think we can do and accomplish.

That’s good–it gives us the thrusters in life to go as far as we can with accomplishments and progress. 

As we age though, the realities of life and health come into vision and we realize that we can’t lift cars with one hand (anymore) or fly lightening speed with just our cape around the globe–we’re mortal. 

This doesn’t mean that we can’t do great things for ourselves and the world at any age and with any (dis)ability, just that it many not be as simple or as easy any longer–we have to fight harder and be part of the survivor’s club. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Life Is All About Stones


Today, Rabbi Haim Ovadia gave an interesting speech at Magen David Synagogue about the life of Jacob and his relationships to stones. 

Here’s what I took away from this: 

– Jacob took a stone to rest his head on (i.e. a pillow) and went to sleep. 

– After Jacob dreamed about the Angels ascending and descending the ladder to the heavens, he anointed the stone with oil and consecrated it to G-d. 

– When Jacob sees Rachel coming to water her father, Laban’s sheep, Jacob rolls the stone from off the well to quench their thirst. 

– As Jacob blessed his 12 sons, he is called the “stone of Israel.”

So what’s the significance of all this stone in Jacob’s and in our lives?

MILESTONES: We celebrate major stages (milestones) in our lives like births, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, and jobs/promotions,  and we also give diamond (stone) rings to our beloved upon engagement. 

CORNERSTONES: We build the foundations (cornerstones) for progress and advancement with our contributions to the world (giving to others, leaving the world a better place than when we got here). 

HEADSTONES: We mark and honor a person’s life and place a headstone at their grave to signify our love, respect, and gratitude for everything they have done. 

I’d add that hopefully, along the way in our lives, we don’t have too many problems and too much stress and get KIDNEY STONES. 

Interestingly “Some people have a heart of stone, and some stones have a heart.”

Like the Western Wall (“The Kotel”) of the Temple in Jerusalem where the Jews pray to G-d–the stones in the wall have history, they have seen the joys and challenges of the people, and they have heard the stories and prayers of the worshippers that go to pray there.

Stones themselves are neutral–they can be used to celebrate, consecrate, build, and memorialize, with, and stones can also be used to hurl and smash and kill with.

For Jacob and his children, even simple stones are a way to worship G-d Almighty.   ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wishy Washy, Pishy Poshy

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In school, we had one teacher who always used to say, “You’ve got to call a spade a spade.”

Another used to tell us, “Never hesitate, act decisively, do what you need to do.”

These people were inspirational!

But these days when it comes to national and homeland security, what’s the world looking like:

– WISHY WASHY–We can’t speak directly and say who the enemy even is.


– PISHY POSHY–We won’t act decisively in defending the nation and moreover, we acknowledge that there isn’t even a strategy.

It’s like what happened? ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)