At The Border: Immigration Or War

So it’s interesting how this whole immigration crisis is playing out in real life and simultaneously on TV. 


In real life, we have a caravan of thousands of people marching from Central America (Honduras and Guatemala) to the U.S. border seeking asylum, mostly for economic reasons. 


On TV, we have the Last Ship Season 5, where South and Central America are at war with the U.S., “no longer willing to sit at the children’s table of international politics,” and they are coming to the U.S. to fight.


In the U.S. today, there are over 40 million people that were born in another country.  Of these, there are over 12 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. (55% from Mexico), and we know that we need immigration reform.  


In the truest sense, we are almost all of us immigrants to this country, with ourselves or our families coming over at one time or another, and we are grateful for the generosity and open doors that allowed us to come here and make a good life.


Of course, we want to pay it forward and give others the same asylum and opportunity that we had and which they as human beings deserve. 


Yet, the country continues to debate the mix of compassion and giving to the oppressed and needy versus the merit principles for bringing in needed skills, talents, and investment, and how many is the “right” number to allow in at any one time.


In real life, we are beefing up border agents, building a wall, and calling in the military to halt the illegal flow of immigrants, so that we can channel immigrates through a process and vetting that leads to legal and safe immigration to this country


On TV, we are fighting in the air, on land, and at sea an alliance of countries from the south and central that want to take over the U.S., and we are also holding our own and holding them back.


In both cases, we need to have and maintain borders to be a sovereign country, to protect our country, and to ensure that caravans of illegal immigrants or foreign troops are not crossing the border and doing harm. 


It’s high time for true immigration reform that is compassionate yet principled, but overrunning the border isn’t an option that is practical or fair.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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It’s Not Really Yours

You can’t live without money, but you can’t just live for money. 


Didn’t someone say, “Money is the root of all evil.”


Of course, it’s not money itself that is bad, but the greed for it, and the use and hoarding of it for selfish purposes. 


On this topic, my daughter sent me this interesting story:

One business tycoon in China passed away. 
His widow, was left with $1.9 billion in the bank, and married his chauffeur.
His chauffeur said: “All the while, I thought I was working for my boss… it is only now, that I realize that my boss was all the time, working for me!”

We can have all the money in the world, but it’s never really ours. 


It all belongs to G-d, as does our entire life. 


He decides what we have or don’t have (any longer). 


We need to realize that life is ephemeral and all material things are given to us just for the time being. 


We should be generous with whatever bounty that G-d has given to us, because in the end that is all that is truly lasting. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Preparing Simchat Torah Dinner

It was great going to Magen David Synagogue today to help prepare for the big Simchat Torah Dinner tomorrow night. 

First, we started with great ingredients.


Then all the prep.


The cleaning, slicing, dicing, mixing, laying it all out, and braising.


Then the cooking–stovetop, and oven.


And before you know, it comes out all done and ready for the scrumptious shul dinner to honor the Torahs.


I want to thank all the women and men that helped out today and many other times to prepare.


But especially, I want to call out Naomi Elimelech who coordinates everything and is the brains behind all the delicious and healthy food. 


She and her husband, Itzik, who is also the President of the synagogue, are truly wonderful, caring, and giving people and a role model for all of us–and it’s not just the cooking!


B’tayavon everyone and Chag Sameach!  😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

There is Meaning

Please read my new blog at The Times of Israel called, “Is It Really All In Vain?

On Sukkot, we read Megillat Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) about “vanity of vanities; all is vanity”–everything is temporal in this world and seems meaningless. Yet in what we perceive as meaningless, there is truly so much meaning when we understand the bigger picture of what is happening to us and perhaps why.


G-d works in mysterious ways and bad things can and do turn into good things too. 😉


(Source Photo of Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Feeding Frenzy

A colleague told me something really great. 


Once a month she helps others in the office that are less fortunate. 


She told me that the cleaning people have various disabilities, and they are underappreciated for the difficult work they do. 


So once a month she treats them for breakfast!


As I got on the elevator with her, some of the cleaning people were calling to her in a frenzy asking when they were doing the next one. 


She told them the date, and they seemed so happy and valued. 


I thought to myself, WOW!–what an amazing gesture of compassion, kindness, and charity for others.  


It’s not necessarily the money itself, but rather making a habit out of doing something good for others. 


I imagined G-d looking down from Heaven at this lady and that she would never be hungry because she makes sure to feed breakfast and gratitude to others. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Do I Choose?

So I thought this was an interesting topic for the sermon on Shabbat by Ben Shemony. 


It was about how we are confronted in life with whether to follow our impulses or our values. 


I think there is a lot to this topic…


Some may see it as the little good angel standing over one shoulder and another bad angel standing over the other trying to convince us what to do when it’s decision time.  


Others may be perpetually torn between temptations or pleasures of materialism and the flesh versus of pursuing what you know to be spiritually good and right in this world. 


Either way, as human beings, we are a complex make-up of both body and soul.


Do we give in to temptation and do what feels good–more money, more food, more clothes and jewelry, more houses, cars, and yachts, more vacations, more carnal pleasures from the proverbial “wine, women, and song” or do we pursue the path of spirituality, serving our maker, caring and giving and doing good for others and the world?  


It sounds simple, but our impulses tell us one thing and our values tell us another. 


Are we being selfish or selfless?


Perhaps, too much of anything is bad for us–even too much giving and selflessness–we need to care for ourselves too–we are mortal, we have needs, we have to nourish ourselves, and we need to live. 


But you can’t be a glutton or a slave to your impulses–you can’t take and not give, your can’t indulge until you make yourself sick, or take at the expense of and harm to others.


Like all things in life, there is a need for balance.


Certainly our spirit should guide our animal. 


If and when our animal is dictating to our spirit then we are in real trouble. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Today is Father’s Day

What a beautiful Father’s Day card from my daughter. 


Also, the message she wrote to me inside was so thoughtful and mature. 


It is wonderful for me to see her grow up to be such a lovely young lady. 


The cover of the card:

“Father:
Neither an anchor to hold us back, 
nor a sail to take us there, 
but a guiding light whose
love shows us the way.”


As parents, we certainly don’t have all the answers either for ourselves or certainly for our children. 


And frankly, the kids don’t want us to tell them what to do or how to do it. 


The best we can really do is to be there for them–to spend time with them, to support them, to show them we really care, and to provide perspective, balance, and faith. 


I used to love going to my parent’s house even if just to lay on the couch and feel the comfort of being “home” and with them. 


I didn’t have to think about what I did or said–I could just be me, and they loved me for that. 


Now, I want my home to be that for my kids. 


Even though they are adults now, they know we are always here for them in any way that they want or need us. 


Our home is always their home. 


Our love is always surrounding them. 


My father used to say, he would go through fire for his family, and I always knew he meant it. 


I could count on him for anything.


I miss him always, and especially today, Father’s Day. 


But I can carry on his fatherhood to my children and try to be a good dad–there, and loving and giving–no bounds, no expectations, no judgment–just love, plain and simple. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)