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. ūüėČ


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

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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. ūüėČ


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s About The People

The older (not that old) that I get, the more I realize that life and success is all about the people. 


Whether it’s our families, friends, and colleagues–it’s how we treat people and the relationships we form that count–and that enable us to achieve success together!


Many people just count their money instead of counting their blessings of hearts and souls. 


But while we certainly need a certain amount of $$$ to live, we really need ‚̧ to thrive.¬†


Today, before the Thanksgiving holiday, I just took a little time to walk around and talk with people here, thank them for their good work and friendships, and wish them a good holiday. 


It was such a little thing, but honestly I felt so good doing it. 


I am thankful for so many things this year, including all the wonderful people in my life who do so much to make my life joyous and fulfilling, but I am also grateful to G-d for continuing to open my eyes to what and who(s) that really count. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mechanisms for Coping With Stress

Just reflecting on the day off today on helpful ways for being resilient and coping with day-to-day stress. 


1.¬†Teamwork¬†– Remember you’re not alone and you can rely on your colleagues/teammates at work and your family/friends at home to work with you, help you, and also be a support. Together, when you distribute the weight, the load is lighter and more manageable for everyone doing the lifting!¬†


2.¬†Work-Life Balance¬†– Listen, all work and no play is good for no one. When you create a healthy balance in your own life–professional, emotional, intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual–then you will be more balanced, holistic, and better able to manage the ups and downs in any one or more areas of your life. The whole of you is larger than the sum of the parts!


3.¬†Perspective¬†– You’ve got to maintain a healthy perspective and attitude in life. All is not doom and gloom. Not every setback is catastrophic. There is good and bad in everything. And we need to use the challenges in life as learning and growth opportunities. Also, remember that there are many others in even worse shoes than us and their fortitude and seeing it through can be an inspiration to us. At the end of the day, look at the bright side–we all have so much to be grateful for, and every moment of life is a blessing!


4.¬†Sense of Humor¬†– When all else fails, a sense of humor can sometimes be the savings grace of the moment. When you’re looking out over the abyss and you are seeing things dark and maybe quite ugly…perhaps, you can find in yourself, in others, or from a moment in time, something ridiculous or absurdly funny to think back on and laugh to yourself a good, strong, and healthy laugh!


5.¬†Faith¬†– No matter what…G-d is always there for you. Always watching. Always guiding. Always caring and loving you. You can have faith that whatever He does for you is ultimately for your best. The G-d of your forefathers/mothers, the G-d who created you, the G-d who sustains you every moment of every day will not abandon you in your time of need. If you have faith, He will protect and save you and after your amazing life’s journey eventually comes to an end, He will bring you home to reunite with Him!


On my Bar-Mitzvah, now many years ago, my father gave a speech and he said to me from the prayers, be strong and remember:


“The L-rd is with me, I will not fear!” (or in Hebrew¬†“Adonai li v’lo ira”)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Facebook Is Dead!

Facebook.jpeg

So folks, here is my absolutely contrarian prediction. 

Facebook Is Dead!

Who in their right mind would say something like that?


Facebook has 2 billions users! 


Well I am one of those users.


But even though I use it. 


I recognize that it is essentially useless and a waste of time. 


Yes, there are cute videos and messages and photos on there. 


But basically if you’re honest, it’s mostly a lot of garbage and time sink!


Twitter has a newsfeed purpose. 


Instagram has a photo sharing purpose. 


LinkedIn has a professional networking purpose. 


But Facebook is a glorious made-up fad!


I believe that people are getting tired of the:


РMeaningless, mind-numbing posts of what they had for breakfast today (and every other fart, literally). 


– Phony self-branding veneer as if everything is always perfect in their lives (look I’m on another vacation skydiving!)


– Virtual relationships rather than genuine friendships and real connections (I’m fiends with over 3,000 people!)


– The millions of empty slogans, political statements, and impersonal wishes to everyone for every occasion (have a really happy birthday!)


Frankly, I think that people are reaching the point of realization where they want more from the time they spend online.


– More depth of feelings


– More substance of thought


РMore reality than superficiality. 


Yes, we all need some downtime too to mellow and just laugh a little, but I am fairly certain that the time people are putting into Facebook is not really meeting their true social networking needs. 


In the end, we will find out that Facebook is the epitome of the greatest fool theory–where everyone dumps their shit from the day, hoping that there is some greater fool who will superficially lopping it all up. ūüėČ


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Just Bling

Crystal Kids.jpegSo sitting in synagogue today, my friend Jacob said something very interesting to me.


He was talking about some very wealthy people with multi-millions and even billions. 


And then he says, you know what the difference is between the rich and everyone else:

“Nothing!”


I asked him what he meant by this.


Then he starts listing off to me like this:

“Well, they live in a home, and you live in a home.
They drive a car, and you drive a car.
They eat food and you eat food.”

And it was amazing how smart his words were, and it hit me how right he was. 


It’s all sort of just in our minds.


Their homes are bigger and nicer; their cars are more luxurious and fancier; their food is better and tastier…but what difference is any of that really.


We both have a roof over our heads to protect us from the elements and a nice place to sleep. 


We both have a car that gets us from here to there and back again. 


We both have food and drink to fill our bellies and nourish us. 


Isn’t the rest just a bunch of bling?


It’s branding and marketing and the sense of luxury that some are better and have more than others.¬†


But beyond the essentials, we really don’t need any of that!


What we do need is our relationships–people we care about and love and who love us.¬†


The ability to have a deep impact on others. 


To influence them and make a difference in their lives–in what they do and how they treat others.¬†


The ability to help people and society. 


The bling is just bling. 


The ability to love and influence that is true wealth. ūüėČ


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Got The Call

ATM.jpeg

I got the call!


But not the one that I always wanted, which is to serve at the very highest echelons of government or/and industry for those values and things which I so hold dear. 


No, instead I got the call that my professor in college warned me about. 


He said:

“You will get a call one day from someone asking for a lot of cash–no questions asked! At that time, you will know who you’re real friends are.”


So I actually got this call (for real) and in the middle of my work day.


This person who contacts me is considered quite affluent and with an extensive network, and I know him/her for only a relatively short time. 


Person:

“You know you’re like family to me Andy…I need $2,000–in cash–by 7 pm. I’ll pay you back $500 on Friday and the rest by Monday.”


Me (Stunned):

“What–is this a joke or something?”


Person:

{Repeats again the request}


Me:

“OMG. What’s wrong–is everyone okay? Are you in any trouble?”


Person:

Uh, everyone’s fine…don’t ask me any questions–there’s no time for this now.”


Me {Reaching for some humor in this bizarre situation}:

“Oh, only $2,000–I thought maybe you needed $2 million–that’s no problem, of course.”


Person:

“Please don’t make jokes now Andy–this isn’t funny!”


Me {Trying once again to get some more–any–information}:

“Can you just explain to me what’s going on–I really want to understand, so I can help you.”


Person:

“Do you have the cash or not?”


Me: 

“To be frank no. I don’t keep any cash around. {Inquiring to learn more…} Could you take a check or something else?”


Person:

“No. Listen, can you go to the ATM now?”


Me {frustrated by the abruptness, lack of sensical communication, and pushiness, as well as more than a little suspicious at how this is all going down}:

“Well the ATMs have a cash limit. Also, I would really need to check with my {lovely} wife first,”


Person {seeing they weren’t getting¬†what¬†they wanted¬†when¬†they wanted it}:

“Okay, well if you can’t help, I’ll just call someone else–thanks {hanging up on me}!”¬†


WOW!


Despite having trusted this person and feeling very hurt by all this, I still called the person back later that evening to follow up and because I truly cared, and they were still not any more forthcoming with me, and in fact, were quite attacking that they were sorry to have called me.


But I wasn’t sorry…my college professor was right on, thank G-d–I do know who my friends are!


Whether its a lunch date, LinkedIn/Facebook contact, or social invitation, be discerning about the motives of people–outside of any sane and normal context–that are seeking to “friend” you.¬†ūüėČ


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)