Two Beautiful Hearts

So a very nice elderly lady we know from synagogue took a bad fall and broke her leg really badly…like in half.


She put up on Facebook that she had undergone surgery, had a metal rod and plate inserted in her leg, and was recovering in the hospital–and she wanted visitors. 


My wife saw the message on Facebook, and we ran over to the hospital to see how she was and spend some time with her to try and cheer her up. 


Considering how badly she had been hurt, she was actually in amazingly good spirits. 


A couple of her neighbors were there in the hospital visiting her as well. 


One of them had actually heard her screams from the backyard where she had fallen by her pond and had helped keep her from going into shock, cradled her head in her lap, and called for rescue services.


When I commented how amazing she was and that she was a real hero pointing to the heart–she said it was really nothing, and went on to say”

I have two hearts!


And she pointed to one on the left and one on the right. 


I thought to myself that really we should all have two hearts like that to care and to give to others. 


One heart is us alone. 


Two hearts are when we join with others. 


“Two hearts that beat as one”–one for caring and one for giving. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Ramath Orah Synagogue

So the other day, I received this wonderful email from someone working on the 75th anniversary of Ramath Orah Synagogue on the Upper West Side in Manhattan where I grew up. 


My grandfather (Opa), Simon Blumenthal, had served as the President of that synagogue for many wonderful years.


I remember always being so proud of him for his dedication and hard work for the community. 


I look up to him when he got up to give the announcements at the pulpit. 


And he built the beautiful center bimah, the special succah downstair with the roof that opened up to the sky at holiday time, and made many other truly impressive improvements to the synagogue. 


He and his wife, my grandmother (Oma), Hilda Blumenthal were an absolutely beautiful couple and the finest of people. 


My parents, Fred and Gerda Blumenthal, continued in their footsteps and to be members at Ramath Orah long after we had moved away to Riverdale, and they were contributors to the shul and attended the annual synagogue dinners for many years. 


Even though the synagogue was mainly filled with elderly people at the time, we always knew and prayed that it would become revitalized again, which it did and is now. 


Pictured at the bottom is me as a kid sitting with a talit over my shoulder and in my grandfathers (the President’s chair) in the front of the synagogue.


Aside from leading and singing the regular Yigdal and Adom Olam prayers, I loved to sit with my father and grandfather in synagogue.


We prayed together, and we stayed together as a family and community. 


I miss them all so much, but am sure they are up in Heaven together sitting in the Big Synagogue in the sky basking in the light of Hashem and watching over me and my family today!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Haleli @Mimouna with Magen David Synagogue

Praise be our G-d, the Master of the Universe.


May he bless us with an abundance of good for the New Year after the Passover commemoration of our exodus from slavery to His redemption and the Holy Land of Israel.


Blessings, Peace, Health, Prosperity, and Joy!


What a lovely event with the community of Magen David Synagogue in Maryland.


My heart is uplifted by the song, dance, friendship, and faith in the Almighty. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

Synagogue, To Laugh And To Cry

So I am learning that synagogue is more than a place to worship G-d.


It is a place of and for the people to express their full range of emotions. 


Frankly, I think it is a place for people to laugh and to cry. 


Rarely, a week goes by when not one or both of these emotions/actions happen. 


Yes, we cry out to G-d in supplication and also are joyous in his holy majesty and presence. 


But more than that, as a community, we come together to share of our week and ourselves with each other. 


One one hand, we laugh with each other at the funny and ridiculous things that happen to us and at the joy we feel for the blessings that G-d bestows on us daily. 


On the other, we cry on each other’s shoulders at the pain and loss that we (G-d forbid) at times must face and endure in the face of illness, evil, and tragedy.


Just today, both things happened in the synagogue and my heart was at one time uplifted with gladness and then at another greatly saddened with the hurt shared–occurrences of each in just a short span of time. 


Yes, we laugh and we cry together–alone, it is at once empty and at the other unbearable. 


We need to support each other; there is no other way that is not extreme madness. 


Put your arms around another to embrace them in great happiness and to let them cry mightily on your shoulder. 


Sharing with each other at our houses of worship–that is how we show G-d that we are bound to Him and to each others’ souls–all children of G-d trying to make it together to the next service. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Among All The Apples

This was an interesting photo moment at Whole Foods–this Valentine’s Day huggy bear sitting among all the apples. 


Sort of how I felt after synagogue today and at other times. 


I’ve learned the importance as my father had so often tried to teach me of going to synagogue.


Yes, the prayer and service to Hashem.


But also the community. 


We all need people. 


None of us is an island. 


At synagogue, aside from the opportunity to speak and be close with G-d, I appreciate the hearty calls of “Shabbat Shalom,” the embracing handshakes, hugs and occasional kisses, the chance to see and kiss the holy Torah, and being among friends.


Like the apples, we’re all sort of the same, yet unique, and we stand together. 


As apples, we all have our glowing and shiny outsides, a sweet inner core, and also plenty of juicy meat. 


People too put on their best clothes, shoes, and do themselves to look their best going to synagogue, and inside they are there to express their goodness with G-d and the community.


Also though, you hear plenty of the heartbreaking stories about what is happening to them as families and individuals. 


Sure, there are the lovely smachot (happy occasions) in their and our lives to celebrate, but there is also plenty of adversity and challenges faced daily. 


One member passed away this week, another is getting cancer treatments, and someone got hit by a car crossing the street and is in the hospital with literally 79 screws holding their ribs together!


Then there are those out looking for work, others suffering from bad marriages or getting divorced, someone with a sick child that needs lifelong care, and someone who even got robbed this week.


Yes, shiny on the outside and with the sweetness of souls and hearts, and yet everyone has their baskets of challenges to deal with. 


For someone like me, I literally feel it inside for people–it’s like I can almost imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes. 


Obviously, I can’t–no one really can–but I imagine myself and ask myself OMG what in the world would I do–and of course, I have no real idea. 


Synagogue is I guess the most perfect place to experience all this–since we are before G-d, asking for his blessings and mercy, and with others, we bond to who are all in the same boat paddling and trying to survive and live a full and meaningful life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)