Harriet And The Underground Railroad

We saw the movie Harriet today. 


Obviously, it was about Harriet Tubman and her rescuing the slaves through the Underground Railroad of secret routes and safe houses. 


She was an amazing heroine that they even called her “Moses” for her rescuing the black slaves from the southern plantation where they were sorely abused in every way. 


Even though she herself was a runaway slave who made it though a100 treacherous miles from Maryland to Pennsylvania to Freedom, she went back over and over again to save others. 


The movie said she saved 70 other through the underground railroad and then in the civil war led the black troops to free another 750 slaves!


Her courage and faith through it all was truly inspirational.


I was so glad when she carried a gun and shot at her nemesis who enslaved her and her family before he could kill or capture and torture her. 


She didn’t kill him, but she told him in no uncertain terms that people were not meant by G-d to own and enslave other people!


We need more people like Harriet Tubman in the world who fight for what’s right and clearly know the difference between good and evil. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The DIVIDED States of America

Our nation is increasingly polarized with little to no tolerance of others wants, thinking, or actions. 


– First under Obama.


– Then with the election between Hillary and Trump.


– And now over Judge Kavanaugh.


The result has been some of the worst behaviors seen since the Civil War–with not only disrespect, restrictions on freedom of expression, but even threats and actual violence!


This nation is no longer the UNITED States, but much more like the DIVIDED States. 


And that just plays into our enemies hands and could lead us to eventually lose our very democracy to totalitarianism, dictatorship, and tyranny.  


So now may be a good time to review for yourself how many biases are driving your thought processes and behaviors and creating dangerous fundamentalists and extremists all around us instead of thoughtful dialogue, negotiation, and compromise. 


Here are 20 biases that may be affecting you more than you realize:


– Do you overestimate the importance of the information you have or feel good about (Anchoring,  Availability, and Choice-Supportive Biases)?


– Do you seek out and perceive information that simply validates your preconceptions (Information,

Confirmation, and Selective Perception Bias)? 


– Do you overemphasize information that is more recent or recognizable (Recency and Salience Biases)?


– Are you ignoring information that doesn’t “fit your script” (Ostrich Effect/Omission and Conservatism Bias)?


– Are you tied up in the groupthink of your peers (Bandwagon Effect)?


– Do you see patterns in random events or conspiracies that don’t exist (Clustering Illusion)?


– Are you overconfident in your thought process and conclusions (Overconfidence Bias)?


– Do you tend to overvalue the usefulness or success of something, but not recognize its limitations or failures (Pro-Innovation and Survivorship Bias)?


– Do you fail to take risks because you prefer certainty (Zero-Risk Bias)? 


– Does your thinking something will happen actually cause it to happen (Placebo Effect)? 


– Do you use the ends to justify the means (Outcome Bias)?


– Do you judge people by their race, class, gender, religion, sexual preferences, or national origin (Stereotyping)?


– Do you fail to recognize your own biases (Blind-Spot Bias)?


Perhaps if more people would open their minds to information and engage in genuine thinking and critical thinking, rather than a lot of fake news and hype, we would be a far better and stronger nation. 😉


(Source Graphic: Business Insider)

Know Before Whom You Are Standing

So many synagogues have this important saying at the top of the Holy Ark where the Torahs are kept in front of the shul.


It says, translated into English:


“Know before who you are standing (i.e. G-d).”


The idea is to remember when you are in the holy place of worship that you are standing and praying before G-d and should conduct yourself appropriately and with respect and reverence. 


While certainly there are times when people forget themselves in the synagogue and say or do something not completely appropriate (e.g. socializing, talking, or even telling jokes to their neighbors during the service), usually it is not intended to be disrespectful, but rather to be friendly with their neighbors and community. 


However, this past Shabbat I witnessed behavior in the synagogue (name withheld)  that was truly a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d). 


Out of respect for the Rabbi (and Rabbabite), I will neither mention their names or go into the details about what happened except to say that it involved the politics surrounding the end of the Rabbi’s 3-year term and the inability for him and the board to come to terms on a new agreement (even though one had  apparently been signed and reneged on). 


This did not belong in the synagogue on the holy Shabbat, period. 


Those embracing and kissing the Rabbi in his support and going against the President and the board that is elected to represent the congregation was disgraceful. 


Further, while I support the Rabbi saying his farewells, demanding to speak without the permission of the President and the board, and even before the President gave his regular announcements was inexcusable. 


And when the fighting between the Rabbi and President brought yelling and fighting to the congregants, this should have been a sign for that behavior to immediately cease. 


The desecration of the “peace” of the Shabbat with the politics, money, and contract issues and the ensuing fighting (almost civil war between those supporting the Rabbi and those the President and the board) before the Holy Ark filled with the Torahs was reprehensible. 


For the spiritual leadership to behave in such a crude and disrespectful fashion was a mark of utter disgrace in the synagogue before G-d. 


I have never seen anything like this before and hope never to have to witness anything so irreverent again. 


This was a most traumatic event for the community and I hope we will recover in time and have a complete healing. 


Moreover, I pray that G-d forgives the behavior that happened and has mercy on this congregation because things got out of control and I think they forgot before whom they were standing.  😉


(Source Photo and not of the synagogue under discussion: Andy Blumenthal)

Is Our Democracy Failing Us?

Fight.jpeg

The latest was Kathy Griffin grotesquely holding up a decapitated and bloodied head of the President of the United States, Donald Trump.


Before that was Stephen Colbert uncool, profanity-laced barrage against the President.


Even Madonna lost her sh*t and threatened to blow up the White House at the mass women’s march earlier this year. 


But all this is still only the tip of the iceberg, as liberals “resist” him and extremists even riot and commit acts of violence; the investigators look to impeach him; the mass media lynches him daily; witches try to cast a mass spell on him; and even late night comedians make him into the butt of every joke and asses wisecrack. 


No respect anymore.


No genuine dialogue.


No negotiation.


No compromise.


No problem-solving.


No putting the nation first. 


The glove are off as tempers and politics are boiling over in Washington, D.C. and all across the nation.


As liberals and conservatives battle it out for the direction of our country.


Some may say that this is what democracy is supposed to do…


But at this extreme, this is how nations self-destruct, not govern!


Who is laughing?


Certainly those that would threaten our way of life:  Russia. China. North Korea. Iran. ISIS and Al-Qaeda. 


Only sane Americans are crying out for leadership to stop killing each other and instead coalesce–irrespective of right and left–and to move this nation forward stronger in the world–militarily, economically, and socially.


As we continue to beat each other senseless with new revelations of debauchery and corruption every 5 minutes on TV, our politicians are black and blue, their agendas are dead on arrival, their proposals are torn to shreds, their votes are filibustered, the parties are deadlocked, the government nearly shutdown again, and progress is nowhere to be found.


As some states talk of succession, some nutty people out there are advocating for violence to our elected leaders, and others are even calling for civil war, should it come to it. 


As many have commented, civility is gone from political discourse, and instead angry and violent discord rules!


This is not a healthy democracy, but a political system being torn apart by extremists and haters.


How do we get the destructive abnormal new normal back to a fruitful normal is normal again?


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Divided States Of America

Divided States.JPEG

So the way the alt-left are fighting it out with President Trump…with violent protests, riots, marches, insults, beatings, fires, broken windows, and sheer contempt,  you’d think we were in a third world country under a brutal dictator, or worse.  


Gone is the respect, decency, compromise, and diplomacy among valid differences of opinion and points of view. 


Talking it out and working it out…forget about it. 


Aside from taking up arms, it’s almost like this country is in a second civil war


The United States has become the divided states. 


Hitler, Nazis, Stalin, Commies!


California wants to secede (like Texas wanted to previously). 


Lawsuits against the President.


Screams, posters and groups of “Not my President.”


Celebrities threatening to pack up and leave the country. 


Refusals to carry out the laws of the land. 


People joining the resistance and underground. 


Secret communications in agencies


Plotting and threats for a military overthrow of the Presidency


Calls for blowing up the White House.


Tweets calling for assassination and pics posted of what it would look like. 


Yet there are no death camps, no razor sharp wire, no attack dogs ripping the flesh off people, no forced labor, no death marches, no brutal beatings, no starvation of prisoners, no poison gas showers, no crematoria, no firing squads, no mass graves, no gruesome experiments on twins, no vicious assaults, no sexual abuse and rapes, no Star of David patches to be worn, no threats to exterminate. 


While of course, we need to ensure “Never Again” for all of us– even the slightest inkling of it–is there really a bona-fide “again” or “inkling” here in the first place? 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)