East Meets West In The Holy Land

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, Israel, Where East Meets West

The modern State of Israel is truly the embodiment of this oneness and this diversity. The Jewish Nation-State Law embodies this concept where Israel is defined as the national homeland for the Jewish People, yet it is democratic, open and welcoming to everyone. For Jewish people, there are Ashkenazi Jews and there are Sephardi Jews. And at the same time, there are people of faith, Christians, Muslims, Druze, and others from all over the globe.

Hope you enjoy.   

(Photo credit: Andy Blumenthal)

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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)

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)

The Culture Key To Organizational Success

As I continue to learn more about organizational success strategies, I am coming to understand that the underlying culture of the organization is so very fundamental to its success.


I believe this is especially the case in terms of three critical competency areas:


– Communication – needs to be timely, constructive, multi-directional, and with emotional intelligence.


– Trust – must be be based on honesty and integrity including consistently supporting the success of everyone professionally and as a organization. 


– Collaboration – must be be anchored in respecting, valuing, empowering, and rewarding each and every person for their views and the contributions, both individually and as team members, and in treating diversity and collaboration, as a true force-multiplier. 


If any of these elements are missing or broken then it does not seem to me that the organization will be able to be successful for the long term.


Organizational success is built on ingredients that strengthen the ties of leadership and individuals and that foster contribution as individuals and as team members. 


No amount of smart, innovative, and even hard work, in my mind, will make up for shortfalls in these critical organizational success factors. 

So when planning for organizational success, make sure to build these in from the get-go. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sexual Acting Out

There is now a seemingly endless slate of sexual harassment allegations against some of the biggest shots from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. 


From the longest-serving Congressmen to the biggest star of morning television news, it seems that no one is sacrosanct.


Is it just that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?


Or maybe it’s more broadly to be stated, as the Rabbi noted on Shabbat, that: 

“G-d created man perfectly imperfect!”

Men and women are created with sexual urges to procreate, bond emotionally and physically, and enjoy each other. 


Men tend to be the stronger than women and are able to have children into old age, and perhaps, it can be said, have the bigger “urge to merge.


Sure, there are women who are normally sexually active, and also those who are perhaps hypersexual (nympomaniac, “cougars,” etc.) and who commit sexual abuse too.


In fact, it was interesting that Wikipedia actually breaks rape down into 4 gender on gender categories:


– Rape of females by males

– Rape of females by females

– Rape of males by females

– Rape of males by males


Issues with physical intimacy and sexual harassment and violence span both sexes, however, it is also clear that:

“Rape affects women disproportionately, with the majority of people convicted being men.”


In the U.S., the statistics show gross levels of sexual violence to women:


– 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime (vs 1 in 71 men).


– 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female.


Also, particularly disturbing is the number of girls and boys targeted:


– 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 18. 


What type of society have we created, where women and children are not generally safe?


It’s interesting to me in Judaism that there is a recognition of sexual impulse, and that some Hasidim actually wear a “gartel” belt when praying to physically and spiritually separate the upper half of the body with the head and heart, from the lower half with the more animal instincts.


In short, the head and heart need to control the animal part of people. 


Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be happening in so many cases. 


Stunned from the outpouring of sexual allegations nearly everyday now, I said to my wife: 

“What is wrong with these people? They have it all: position, power, and wealth; and yet, they throw it all away –including their integrity and reputations–for a five minute lay in the hay!”


Is the animal instinct too strong for the person to control? That just isn’t going to cut it.


As a functioning society, it’s got be completely unacceptable for people to act out sexually or otherwise violently hurt their neighbors. 


It’s time for social reform and for the animals to be controlled by the people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s All In The Interpretation

So a friend sent me this hilarious spoof about automatic transmissions, and it goes something like this…


A guy calls up the car service hotline and asks for help with his car.


What’s the matter?


Well the car works perfectly in the daytime, but it refuses to drive at night. 


The lady on the customer service line is baffled.


Then he explains:


– During the daytime, I just put the car into “daytime” (D) mode, and it drives fine.


– But then at night, I put it into the “nighttime” (N) mode, and it doesn’t move.


– What’s worse yet, when another car tried to jump ahead of him, he puts the transmission into “race” (R) mode, and he ends up hitting the car behind him!


At this point, the customer service representative is completely cracking up laughing. 


Apparently not everyone has the same notion of “drive” (D), “neutral” (N), and “reverse” (R)–and frankly, maybe we shouldn’t take so much in life for granted.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to AliExpress)