I’m Still Alive!

600 Holocaust Survivors and their descendants sing “Chai” (Life) by Ofra Haza.

Hope is not yet lost.

I live. I live. I live. 


I cried my eyes out watching this. 


The Jewish people not only survived the Holocaust as most of the world sat by and watched the genocide of six million men, women, and children with a soulless indifference, but G-d has kept his promise and restored the Jewish people and returned them to the Holy Land and made it flourish again!


(Thank you to my sister, Roz, for sharing this with me)

A Song of Saul and David

Great song: David and Shaul from Ehud Banay’s third album, ”The Third/Hashlishi”


The song is about the “bipolar” feelings of King Saul toward David (then the next king of Israel). 


Here are the lyrics:

כולם מזמן הלכו לישון
רק שאול ער, קודר
מרים לדוד טלפון

A late-night hour

Everyone is long gone to sleep

Only Shaul is awake, cheerless

He calls David up over the phone

אולי תקפוץ אלי, יא דוד
נפשי אגם שחור
תביא איתך את הגיטרה
כי באצבעותיך אור

Maybe you should stop by, Ya David

My soul is a black lake

Bring the guitar with you

For you have light in your fingers


דוד בא מיד רגוע,
מתיישב ומכוון
את המלאכה היטב יודע
עוצם עיניים, מנגן

David comes right away and he is calm

Sit down and tunes (the guitar)

The job he well knows

Closes his eyes, he plays


עשר אצבעות לדוד
קצה כל אצבע – קרן אור
כשהוא פורט על המיתר
הזמן זורם לו לאחור

Ten fingers David has

The tip of each one – a ray of light 

When he port on the string

The time is flowing backwards

שאול מבפנים קרוע
קרבות בתוך בטנו
אוהב-שונא, ומקנא
מכור לחברו

Shaul is torn inside

Battles in his stomach he has

Love-hate, and jealous he is

Addicted to his friend

דבר מה אפל נופל
השד חוזר להשתולל
סכין נזרקת באוויר
פתאום יש בין השנים קיר

Something dark falls

The demon is back to a rage

A knife is thrown in the air

Suddenly there is a wall between the two

דוד מתחמק משאול

אבל שאול לא מוותר
דוד שוכח וסולח
כששאול מתקשר

David is avoiding Shaul

But Shaul is not giving up

David forget and forgives

When Shaul call up

בוא שוב לנגן לי דוד
קח אותי לכוכבים
בוא שוב לנגן הלילה
שיר געגועים

Come again to play to me David

Take me to the stars

Come again to play tonight

A song of longing


בוא שוב לנגן הלילה…

Come again and play tonight..

בוא שוב לנגן הלילה
שיר געגועים…

Come again and play tonight..

A song of longing..

(Kudos to my Ulpan teacher, Rivka D. for sending me the video and to Izchak, my wonderful son-in-law, for providing the Hebrew/English lyrics)

Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, “Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch.”

The Rabbi asked why did Hashem who is omnipotent even need to create us? And he answered because in G-d being the ultimate good, He “had to create us”—this in essence being the ultimate expression of good by sharing that goodness with us to learn and be good as well. In short, what could be a greater good than extending that opportunity to be be good to others.


Like our forefather, my Hebrew name is Avraham, and for me personally, this has been a critical life lesson: learning to see challenges as opportunities to learn, grow, and consistently be a person that tries to do what is right even when it is hard or the lines seem to be grey. In the end, I believe that G-d put us in this world in order for us to choose good over evil and demonstrate kindness to others. With the Torah as our blueprint, and Avraham, our forefather, as our role model, we must apply the great teachings of the Torah and always strive to act as a proper mensch!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Who Is Occupying Whom?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Who Is Occupying Whom?

  • Palestine was never a state, nor one ever administered by Palestinians.
  • Israel is not occupying any foreign sovereign’s land, so it cannot legally be considered an occupier.
  • There was never any partition plan accepted by the Arabs or implemented, so Israel is not occupying anything.
  • It is Israel that has continuously opened itself to the Arabs as citizens and settlers, while the Arab countries have rejected their own Arab brethren and exiled their Jews.

I hope you read this article and understand the lies and propaganda that is being spread about “the occupation.”

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal adapted from Wikimedia Commons)

Going Back To Ulpan

So yesterday, I started Ulpan classes to improve my Hebrew language skills (currently, I’m not very skillful with it).


It was 2.5 hours and it was such a joy for me and my wife and one of my daughter to have the wonderful opportunity to participate in this. 


It wasn’t like in Yeshiva where we focused on learning the Biblical and prayer book Hebrew, and on Aramaic from the Talmud, but was more focused on modern-day conversational Hebrew. 


I loved learning and speaking the words, for example to describe a large cosmopolitan city like Tel Aviv. 


We also listened to recordings of others speaking, read the text, and learned verbs. 


It reminded me of my mom, who also used to love to take Ulpan, and carried around her notebook with the Hebrew words and their translation and the many descriptive verbs–she was so happy learning and practicing. 


Given my horrible language skills, it was funny for me that I was asked if I wanted to join the advanced class…ah, no!  (or at least not yet…)


While so many languages (and cultures) have died over the ages, Hebrew and the modern State of Israel is a complete revival–it’s truly miraculous!


There were people in the class from Asia, South America, and all over the world!


And from all the people there, I felt a tremendous love not only for the language, but for the land of Israel, and the Jewish people. 


I wish like this beautiful language we all embraced, everyone could love and not hate us anymore!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Birthday Of Trees

Today is the holiday of Tu Bishvat.


That is the Birthday for (fruit) Trees!


It’s when Jewish people celebrate and plant trees around the world and especially in the Holy Land. 


Last night, we celebrated with Chabad Israeli Center of Rockville where they had not only of the “7 Fruits” of Israel (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates), but they also had some very nice wine and cheese, delicious bourekas, and pastries. 


We learned about the biblical meaning of the “7 Species of Fruits” and the flourishing of the land of Israel, celebrated with music and song, and played a trivia game with our smartphones using a cool new gaming and learning application, called Kahoot


A special thank you to Chabad Rabbi Shlomo Beitsh and to Samy Ymar for sponsoring the event.


Overall, a beautiful evening to meet new people and celebrate a very happy birthday to the beautiful trees and mother nature that G-d has so benevolently bestowed on us. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Bringing Down The House

I love this silver sculpture of Samson.


And one of my favorite stories and Biblical characters. 


Samson was dedicated to G-d from birth and was an enormous warrior. 


Even when he was betrayed, blinded, and bound, he maintained his ultimate faith in G-d.


He prayed that he be given the strength one more time to bring justice to G-d’s enemies. 


And that’s when he pushed against the pillars and brought the house down on them.


On one hand, a tragic figure that trusted and was fooled by the beautiful Delilah, but a completely heroic man of great integrity, who believed in G-d and in vanquishing his enemies.


Look to the Heavens for your strength and G-d can grant you the ultimate strength to achieve your mission in life and even in death. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mazel Tov On Jerusalem

Today, Jerusalem has been recognized as the capital of Israel–Mazel tov!


– 70 years after President Truman instructed the State Department to support the U.N. partition plan.


– 50 years since the Six Day War in which Jerusalem was reunified.


– 22 years after the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed for relocating the U.S. Embassy to the capital, Jerusalem.


Everyone has been patient and waited a long time for this.


As President Trump stated, we are recognizing the reality, the obvious, and “it is the right thing to do!”


Yes, Israel is a sovereign nation with the right to determine their own capital as every nation does. 


And Jerusalem is that capital today as it has been historically from the times of the Bible. 


We are blessed to be witnessing in our time the miraculous fulfillment of G-d’s promise for the quintessential return of the Israelites to the Promised Land, and toward the ultimate redemption.


From the ashes of the Holocaust, G-d has resurrected and brought us alive again.


Many that I have spoken with today express genuine fear about the ramifications of this announcement of recognition. 


But as President Trump displayed today, we must all go forward together courageously and in celebration. 


The State of Israel is blooming from its agricultural fields to the incredible medical and technological innovations that are helping people throughout the world.


We must never forget that it is only with G-d’s blessing and under his watchful eye.


May we all pray for peace and security, and let their not be war or terrorism anymore! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via White House)

Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)


In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.


1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 


2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah–this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.


3) The Plan to Take Esau’s Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 


4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 


Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:


1) “People of the Book” – The Jewish people are known as “the people off the book” for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   


2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come – Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a “corridor” to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it’s the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 


3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land – For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d’s promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.

Ezekiel 11:17: “Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  

“(Ani Ma’amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah…Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him.”

Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 


If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering–believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)