Respecting Native Americans

So I don’t know what went down with the students from Catholic Covington High School and the Native Americans in the video that was widely circulated the other day.


People claiming all sorts of racism and hate, and others saying nothing happened–usually the truth is somewhere in between. 


In light of this, I wanted to share this awesome painting, and say we should absolutely respect the Native Americans and do everything we can to help them. 


These are the indigenous people that were here long before we ever were, and let’s just say that they suffered and lost a lot when the first Europeans arrived on these shores. 


We are all G-d’s children, and no one acting with integrity and peacefully should ever be mistreated or disrespected, no one! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

An Arrogant Model Who Defiles The Holy Temple

Please see my new article, Naked Before G-d, in The Times of Israel. 

“In such a G-dly place [as the Kotel], where we are all spiritually naked for our actions before our Maker, [Belgian model,] Ms. Papen displayed not soul, but her haughty flesh.”


And like the Sotah in the bible, who drinks of “the bitter waters” for defiling the sanctity of her marriage, Ms. Papen will most certainly come to see the consequences for her defilement of the most sacred place of Judaism. 


I wouldn’t want to be her, seriously! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Left Handshake Is Right

So I heard about someone misinterpreting something I did for the worse.


Occasionally, when someone tries to shake my hand, instead of shaking with my right hand, I will take their hand in my left. 


I’ll do this for various reasons such as arthritic pain or from dirt (like ink or cleaning ) from some prior work I was doing. 


But always when I extend my hand it is with warmth and friendship. 


However, I learned that one person took this handshake as a serious personal affront. 


They thought that I was “disrespecting” them intentionally.


So I learned that even the most everyday, mundane gestures like a handshake, but done differently, can be taken out of context and misinterpreted. 


Why do we judge others for the bad?


Maybe because we don’t trust, don’t want to ask, don’t want to know, or have had bad experiences in life that jade us. 


But sometimes a handshake is just a handshake whether with the right or left hand. 


(Source Photo: 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)

One Nasty Election

lion

This is one nasty election. 


Forget about getting any real answers to questions of the economy, national security, healthcare, education, the environment, and so on. 


No, instead we have candidates down in the dirty disparaging each other, fighting about what they said about the former Miss Universe and the like. 


This is beyond utterly ridiculous!


While integrity and character of the utmost importance in choosing our elected officials and leaders, I think we need to differentiate between the life of reality television and an election. 


The level of smear campaign, pulling out all the stops, seems to have never been greater. 


The greed and lust for power has taken over all sensibilities, and the people of this country see it and are disgusted by it. 


And to the rest of world, we must look like a complete bunch of imbeciles here.


Power has infected and corrupted our leaders and system putting them above the people and nation they govern rather than for them. 


As to whether there is the slightest genuine concern for the welfare and future of the citizens of this great country–that is a complete roar of utter laughter and despair. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Should We Care What Others Think?

fishbowl

So I was talking with someone and they were telling me how self conscious they feel about what others think of them.


They said when they were in school, they were picked on, bullied, labeled, and made to feel different and excluded.


Whether it was their hair that was different or their lunchbox that got taken and hidden from them, the other kids were relentless. 


Now in life, they are still dealing with all those feelings.


Do they look right? 


Are they educated enough?


Is their profession something others will admire them for?


And on and on. 


And at a certain point, I said, “Isn’t it more important what you think about yourself than what others think about you?”


And they said, “Sure, but I still feel like I have to live up to other people’s standards. I don’t want them to think bad about me or talk behind my back!”


I understand this way of thinking is based on trauma from the past and feelings of inadequacy and not fitting in. 


And we can spend our whole lives chasing this illusive acceptance from others. 


Or we can decide to pursue we what believe in and love, and to find healing in the good we do, rather than the nods or winks from others that we receive. 


If we are trying to live up to somebody else’s arbitrary standards of perfection, cool, or being in the in-crowd, we may never be good enough.


Instead, if we pursue what we know is right from our moral compass and our heart and soul, and always do our best, we will attain the satisfaction that comes with healthy self-development and maturation. 


Seeking unconditional acceptance and love can definitely leave you feeling frustrated, self-hating, and even quite alone. 


But accepting yourself, developing yourself, and giving to G-d and to others will always leave you feeling fulfilled. 


Forget living as if your in the fishbowl, and strive for the Superbowl of achievement through incremental progress and goal attainment in your life. 

Start with making yourself proud and the others will come around. And if for some reason they don’t, it’s truly their deficiency and loss and not yours!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)