Homeless DC

So aside from all the Washington, D.C. weighty monuments to our esteemed values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.


And aside from all the prestigious institutions and people of great power that formulate the policies and rules and keep us abiding by them. 

This is what I see in D.C. 


The plight of the poor, homeless, and downtrodden. 


Those that have fallen by the wayside.


People who are down on their luck.


Human beings–that’s right human beings–that need and deserve help or even just a chance.


Why does anyone have to live–if you can even call this living–like this a couple of blocks from the White House. 


I know there are people all over the world who are hungry, homeless, sick, and abused.


Yet, nowhere is this more stark an example than in the U.S.A where there is such an enormous divergence between “the haves” and “the have nots” and where our values are supposedly bound up with equality, human rights, charity, and kindness.


Yes, we are supposed to be equal in treatment and in opportunity, but we all know that is not really the case. 


Sure, some work hard and others are perhaps lucky/blessed, but then are those that are born with a “silver spoon in their mouths” and excel through a tight weave of corruption, narcissism, nepotism, and abuse.


Yet a real chance for everyone, a living wage, and basic dignity and respect should be afforded to all.


Money and power is ephemeral.  


Those with it, that abuse it, shall see it pass between their fingers ever trying to clutch unto it with dear life. 


Only the way we treat others will last in this world and in the world after. 


Everything goes around and comes around. 


This is the cycle of life and the lot of those who abuse their good fortune as well as those that harness it. 


G-d will judge with His mighty hand and bring to bear the deeds and intentions of those that mock His holy will. 


Because His children lay in rags and heaps, while others dance their folly jig. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Three Legs of Quality of Life

So this is something that I am learning. 


Quality of life means perspective and balance. 


When people go to the extreme and focus all their energies on any one area almost to the exclusivity of the others in their life, it usually means they are going wrong. 


Some people are “party animals”–life is all about their fun, enjoyment, experiences (and even excessive partying, sleeping around, getting drunk and high), and their very immediate gratification. 


Others are all about work–climbing that professional ladder and earning more money, material goods, and more power is the holy grail and also the bane of their existence. 


And yet there are some people that are focused on faith, family, and community–they are mothers and fathers, religious students and clergy, community organizers and organizers of charitable events and giving. 


The problems is that people need multiple facets of their lives–yes, they need playfulness, interests, activities, hobbies, and fun and joyous times; at the same time, they need intellectual curiosity, professional contribution and achievement, and the wherewithal to be responsible and pay the bills; and very importantly, they need  social, spiritual, and emotional fulfillment from family, friends, giving, and faith. 


When a person stands on only one of these legs, like many seem to–they are on wobbly ground and are likely to fall hard and fast.  


Even on two legs, something is missing in their lives–they are standing tall, but not strong and stable. 


On all three legs, a person can be grounded and able to not just stand for themselves, but able to bear weight like on a stool, and they are can play music and sing and smile, knowing that they have a genuine quality of life that few ever really achieve. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Two Lightning Strikes

One week apart, two freak accidents, both families nearly wiped out. 


Both touched me. 


Exactly one week ago, I learned and wished condolences to the man in synagogue who lost his wife, youngest son, and mother-in-law in the Mexico tourist bus accident. 


Today–7 days later, a neighbor comes up to me and tells me she’s going to the funeral for her daughter, son-in-law and three children killed in the Costa Rica plane crash this week, and I wished her that G-d have mercy. 


Like two lightning strikes–not a coincidence (I don’t believe in that).


I believe more that it is a warning, and it is really frightening.


I pray that G-d should have mercy on all of us. 

Please G-d, Save Us. 
Please G-d, Save Us. Please G-d, Help Us To Succeed. 
Please G-d, Help Us To Succeed. 

Life truly hangs by a thin thread.


The time period between my meeting the man and women from these two families–7 days–represents both life and death–it is both the number of days of “Sheva Brachot” (days of celebration for a bride and groom) and the number of says of “Shiva: (mourning when someone dies)


We need to be committed to doing good in this world and in His name.


— Repentance, charity, and prayer.


All of us must do our best to serve G-d and always do right with integrity.


G-d should defeat evil, and He should have mercy on his faithful children, so that He turns mourning into celebration and blessings. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to kristendawn, and interesting that it is from Costa Rica)

Treating The Homeless With Dignity

I love this organization, Think Dignity.


They do hands-on advocacy and activism to help the homeless. 


From providing them storage lockers, bathrooms, showers, haircuts/shaves, clothing boutique, hygiene products (e.g. tampons etc.), drinking water, legal services, and more.

While others looks away, they jump in to actually do something real.

They actually bring mobile showers to them!

The video show on the left, one person living a regular life with a home, job, and everything they need, and on the right, another person down on their luck, homeless and needy.

Both are G-d’s creatures–one just needs a fresh start!

At the end of the video, it says:

Don’t Look Away.
Think Love.
Think Hope.
Think Strength.
Think Worth.
Think Dignity. 

I hope you are truly moved in the same way that I am by this organization and their beautiful mission and meaningful outreach activities. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

@DC Design House For National Children’s Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wealthy couple built this amazing mansion in Potomac, Maryland.



But sadly before they could enjoy it, the wife developed a terminal illness. 



The husband allowed the house to showcased in a design talent competition with the various rooms decorated by all different interior designers.



…And the house to be shown for charity for National Children’s Health System. 



Here are some photos from this wonderful fundraising event. 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Lucky Cat

Lucky Cat.jpeg

So a retail establishment opened in the area.


They had all these cat symbols hung inside. 


I asked the owner what it said, and she told me:

“Lucky Cat”


Why a cat symbolizes luck I don’t really know.


But the bigger question is whether there is any such thing as luck in the first place.


We constantly wish people good luck on any and every aspect of their lives: from birth to bar/bat mitzvahs, engagements, weddings, graduations, new jobs, journeys, and basically anything we embark on. 


That’s what Mazel Tov means–good luck!


But I thought we believe in G-d and not luck?


We strive through prayer, charity, repentance, and all sort of good deeds to try and move the scale of justice in our favor. 


With the Jewish high holidays approaching next month–Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur–we do everything to atone for our sins and commit to being better in the future. 


We seek G-d’s mercy and his blessings. 


There is no arbitrary luck or fortune. 


Life is what we make out of it. 


What about the Massachusetts women who won $758 million in Powerball last week or the person that gets cancer or some other horrible tragedy–did they deserve it?


I suppose it’s impossible for us to judge why some people have amazing fortune and others have schlimazel (misfortune).


As it says in Genesis (18:25):

“Shall not the judge of all the Earth do justly?”


Surely, G-d has the bigger picture and the omniscience to know what is good for us and what is not. 


How he tests us and tries us and to what ends…that is a matter of faith and conviction–and we believe that it is all ultimately for our best. 


The judge of all Earth…please have mercy on us and bestow your blessings on us, your faithful children. 


As to the lucky cat–wave us some good vibes–all long as we realize that we all need G-d’s grace! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Ooh That Is Good

Loving Yourself.jpeg

Hey, congratulations to Roger Federer on winning his 19th tennis championship. 


It’s an absolutely awesome level of athletic achievement and it’s definitely something to celebrate. 


But when I saw this photo of him and his trophy in the paper this morning, it seemed over the top!


Whenever someone sets their mind to something, works really hard, and is thank G-d able to achieve it–that is something to be happy about and enormously grateful for. 


Hey, listen, I understand there are some real superstars out there and I respect them! 


However, seeing this guy clutching his trophy in both hands, smelling it, kissing it, and more…it looks to me more like idolatry than the pure, sweet smell of success. 


I get it–he worked super hard, achieved impossible things, and deserves to savor the incredible moment–no one is taking that away from him. 


Instead of that gold trophy, wouldn’t you rather see him kissing his wife and children, thanking G-d (and his coach maybe), and saying things like how he will continue to use his success and earning to help others or maybe train the next generation of aspiring athletes. 


I applaud Federer more for his known philanthropy in helping disadvantaged children and doing charitable events for disaster victims than for winning his 19th championship (hey, 18 would’ve been fine too).  


In the end, self- (and trophy-) love and admiration is not the something to celebrate, but should instead point us back to character and using our strength and achievements to help others.


For what is really important in life, there is no earthly trophy for–and certainly not one worth any ultimate embrace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via Wall Street Journal)