Being Jewish and Proud

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Being Jewish and Proud.”

With roughly 15 million Jews in a world of 7.7 billion people, we make up less than .2% of the world population. However, despite our small size, we’ve been recognized with over 20% of the Nobel Prizes for contributions to the sciences, medicine, literature, economics, and peace. Most Jews tend to believe not only in a strong core religious education, but in higher education and lifelong learning, and others excel even when starting out and innovating from their garages. From Abraham and Moses to Einstein and Freud, and even to today’s Jews leading the Technology revolution–such as Steve Ballmer, Sergey Brin, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, and Mark Zuckerberg–the Jewish contribution is truly unparalleled.

Until Mashiach, there will always be some people that hate on us and want to destroy us–perhaps and unfortunately, that’s just who they are. But we choose not be anyone else but Jews, because that’s who we are–and there is every reason to be ourselves, maintain our faith of thousands of years, continue to make awesome contributions that benefit mankind, and be forever proud to be a Jew.

(Photo Credit: Andy Blumenthal)

On Taste And Smell

Just wanted to share this saying (translated from Hebrew) that I like:

On taste and smell, there is no argument.


What tastes or smells good or bad to one person versus another is not up for debate. 


Each person has their own taste buds and odor senses.


Some people may be more or less sensitive to different tastes and smells. 


So there is no arguing there.


You either like or you don’t like. 


That’s your prerogative!


Don’t make a big stink about it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Diversity Tapestry

I really liked this sign with the saying by civil rights leader, Maya Angelou:

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value, no matter what their color [or race, or origin, or religion, or age, or gender, or sexual orientation, or disability].”


Ok, I added the “or” statements at the end. 


But the point is the same and important.


Discrimination, bigotry, prejudice, and bias are stupid. 


They are a function of ignorance. 


– We learn from diversity. 


– Life is richer with diversity. 


If everything was in monocolor…if life was homogeneous…if there was only one type of everything, then what type of humdrum, monotonous, and boring place would this be?


Value the variety.  Value the diversity.  Value the differences. 


They make us better and stronger than we could ever otherwise be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Purim Prayer

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Tonight is Purim and it’s a holiday of joy and celebration. 


It commemorates when the Jews where saved from Destruction by the Persian Empire and the evil Haman as told in the Megillah Esther.


So on Purim, we dress up and make fun and it this vein of humor that I post this sign about religions of the world. 


– Taoism:  Sh*t happens.


– Buddhism: If sh*t happens, it really isn’t sh*t.


– Hinduism: This sh*t has happened before.


– Islam: If sh*t happens, it is the will of Allah. 


– Catholicism: Sh*t happens because you deserve it.


– Protestantism: Work harder or sh*t will happen.


– Judaism: Why does this sh*t always happen to us?


It’s funny how each religion of the world has a perspective on life. 


Are we all so really different?  


Maybe we have more in common than not.


The hope and prayer is that the true evil Hamans out there utterly perish, and that for all good and decent people–whatever your religion and perspective in this world–may we all get along as loving brothers and sisters, and let there be true peace for all of us! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to RamblingsDC)

The Beating Of Life’s Drums

So this was some awesome drumming at the Renaissance Festival today.


The beating of the drums was powerful and in a sense mesmerizing. 


It moved the people to sway, to dance, and to feel the power of the moment. 


In life, as they say, we all sort of move to a different beat–our own beat!


Recently, I had the experience to meet someone who was a truly wonderful person, but who came from a very different geographical, religious, and cultural background. 


There just seemed to be so many misunderstandings as a result, and it wasn’t because anyone was being hurtful or a bad person. 


Rather, we were dealing with good people, who just had very different expectations of each other and of life. 


The beat was there–like a heartbeat, but the beat wasn’t in sync, so in the end, everyone decided it best to go their own way in blessing, and find the life that would met their needs and where the beat was going to be in tune for them. 


In a sense, while we are all the same, yet we are all subtly different whether by nature and/or nurture, we come to situations and to each other with different viewpoints, distinct needs, as well as specific ways to satisfy them and grow us. 


Good and bad is beyond the point.  


Two hearts beat as one and that is a miracle when it happens. 


At other times, two hearts beat each other in their differences and maybe in exasperation and finally in sorrow.


The beats are strong and we search for the beats that uplift us, mesh with us, and make us better when we’re together. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

From Fractured To ONE

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I really liked this T-shirt.

It says volunteer, but in three rows like this:

vOl

uNt

eEr

So in the center is ONE!

When we give of ourselves, we shed our billions of individual selfish natures to be one–with humanity and with G-d.

These days, seeing from how shattered and fractured this nation and world is, it is just a dream again for unity.

– The fighting between different races and castes of people

– The fighting between rich and poor

– The fighting between communities or family members

– The fighting between unarmed (and armed) civilians and police

– The fighting between republicans and democrats

– The fighting between proponents and opponents of X, Y, or Z policy, person, place, or thing

– The fighting between governed and those who govern

– The fighting between terrorists and terrorized

– The fighting between religions and within religions

– The fighting between East and West

– The fighting between good and evil

This reminds me learning in yeshiva from Zechariah 14:9 (when the destroyers of Jerusalem will themselves be destroyed)”

And the L-rd will be king over all the Earth. On that day, the L-rd will be one and his name one.”

Oneness–unity–peace is a vision and a goal. 

With unity we recognize our ONE true maker and guider of all creation.

And with unity we seek and find solutions to the world’s big problems (global poverty, disease, war and so on).

Fractured and fighting among ourselves, we are small, petty, selfish, and weak. 

But together, we can unite with Heaven and conquer all that ails humanity. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

See The World Through The Eyes Of Others

Earth
It’s not only important what we think, but also what and how others see things. 

 
One the things, the folks that work with me frequently hear from me is “Let me put myself in the other person’s shoes for a moment, and give you feedback on that.”
 
We are what we are and not as our customers are, and while we may strive for excellence in customer service, our customers may have completely different notions of what that means.
 
For example, I may think a 24-hour turnaround on something is pretty good given everything on our plate, but when I imagine myself in the customer’s shoes for a moment, I may change that expectation to “We need to get this done by noon today (or sooner)!”
 
People are different, our experiences, our cultures, our context and the way we interpret things. 
 
So when it comes to work or family or even social issues, being compassionate often means seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. 
 
There was an interesting article in the New York Times called “Imaging The Lives Of Others” by psychologist, Paul Bloom. 
 
While he notes the importance to “behold the universe through the eyes of another,” he also says how difficult this really is. 
 
If you haven’t done something, how can you really imagine what it was like, let alone know what it was like for someone else to experience it?
 
Without the access to the particular significant life experience, the duration, the controls (so you can’t just say stop like in an experiment), perhaps a person can never fully know what it’s like. 
 
For example, if you haven’t been through a devastating war, can you truly know what it’s like to be in a foxhole and have the bullets whooshing by your head and the tanks rumbling over it?
 
Yes, we can imagine, but that is probably a far cry!
 
Yet, to really empathize with others, do right by them, and to make good leadership decisions, we most certainly need to at least try to see and experience the world the way others do. 
 
Thinking about the over 805 million hungry people in the world today, it is much more impactful to imagine myself hungry and starving, then just to say the mere fact that these poor people exist.
 
We can probably never know someone’s else pain and suffering the way they do, but through our own experiences, extrapolation from them, and our imagination, we can at least try to elevate ourselves for a purely self-centric universe of one that is of billions (under one G-d), and who need our understanding, compassion, support, and help. 😉
 
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)