The Times of Mashiach

Truly, we are living in the times of Maschiach. 


Someone contacted me with a friend request on Facebook, and his profile included that he is a:

Torah-Observant Gentile


Wow! 


It’s truly like we say in the Aleinu prayer every day:

All Mankind shall invoke Your Name, to turn to You all the wicked of the earth.  They will recognize and know–all the inhabitants of the world—that every knee should bend to You…The L-rd will be King over the entire earth; on that day the L-rd will be One and His Name One.

We are on the way and I hope we all get to see and cross over the finish line soon. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Ocean Waves Electric

Thought this was pretty cool at the Boca Museum of Art.

Electronic Ocean Waves. 

Mesmerizing and calming.

And all in bits and bytes. 

They also had a display of black and white photos of the ocean waves. 

But it was a little too sterile for me. 

I like nature and nurture in perfect harmony.  😉

(Credit Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Rocking Mimouna @Magen David Synagogue

I learnt last night that Mimouna comes from the word “Emunah” which means faith. 


The Mimouna is the celebration at the end of Passover. 


It is a custom from the Jews who lived in Morocco who celebrated hand-in-hand with their Arab neighbors in peace and harmony


this celebration of faith, friendship, and peace that has now become standard in Jewish communities far and wide. 


In the light of the anti-Semitic instances yesterday with the caricature in the garbage New York Times and the Shooting at the Chabad synagogue in San Diego (exactly 6 months after the shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue), I say:


Let us have faith in the one true G-d that he will redeem his loving people of all religions and utterly punish the haters and anti-Semites for the evil they are. 


(Source Video and Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

What Makes Happy

So the same things don’t seem to drive happiness for everyone. 


Some like big jobs and lots of power. 


Others are happier with more work-life balance. 


Some like to pursue lots of degrees and certifications.


Others like to learn on their own and through life experience. 


Some like to travel the world.


Others like a day in nature or at the museum. 


Some like big families and lots of people around them. 


Others like smaller families, close friends, intimacy, or even being more on their own. 


Some like lots of money. 


Other are happy with having what they need.


Some like to be tremendous athletes. 


Other like to just stay fit or maybe are more comfy as “couch potatoes.”


Some like to be very religious and follow all the laws.


Others prefer mindfulness, a sense of spirituality and being a “good person.”  


Some like lots of activities and to always do different things. 


Others are more comfortable with routine and incremental change. 


We all have basic needs, but we also have different values, priorities and comfort zones. 


Happiness isn’t a yes or no answer, but what makes us feel on track and doing good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Bonding and Independence

separation-jpeg

It’s an interesting phenomenon between parents and children. 


Parents (with G-d as the third partner) birth and raise their beautiful children. 


It is in a way a thankless job that we all savor and do with love, joy, and even gratitude just to have the opportunity. 


From sleepless nights to dirty diapers, homework to honing on how to be a mensch, family outings to school trips, braces to bar/bat- mitzvahs, birthdays to sleepover parties, shopping trips to college choices, as parents there is nothing we won’t do for our children. 


Yet, the role of children is to learn and grow to be independent. Children must spread their wings, so they can function as their own adults and parents one day (and hopefully before they are 33 and still living in mom and dad’s house)!


Yet to a parent, a child is always their child, no matter how big, smart, or successful they are (and even when, G-d willing, they surpass their parents in height, good looks, and achievements).


My father used to say, “Blood is thicker than water,” meaning that it’s a harsh world out there and the family always needs to stick together.


As children of Holocaust survivors, I learned that we can’t stray to far (or far at all) from either our religion or family, because otherwise, “We let Hitler win.”


We grew up living next to my grandparents (1 block away) and later in life, we always lived right near my parents as well. 


I watched TV and ate salami sandwiches with my grandmother and doted over my grandfather who sat on the bimah in his big chair as the president of our then struggling synagogue in Manhattan. 


Similarly, my parents were like surrogate parents to my own children and regularly babysat, picked the kids up from school/camp, made Sabbath meals, and happily spent time with them doing whatever. 


My parents were always there to advise, guide, lend a hand and support…no matter the cost to them, as my father used to say, “I would go through fire for my family” and this–his devotion and integrity–I knew was the utter truth. 


In turn, I tried to be a good son and although I disagreed and fought with my parents (mostly my dad) on many issues (often religious and sometimes politics as remember them), I knew they loved me dearly and I them.


As my dear parents are now gone, and I have become (slightly) a helicopter parent myself with forever worries about how my kids are doing, I know that they need to be independent–and that (more than) sometimes means making mistakes or falling down, and hopefully getting right back up again on their feet.


It is hard to learn that as parents, in many cases, we are just spectators–not that we know everything, we don’t, but the maternal and paternal instinct is to safeguard our children whom we love and adore. 


Kids need three things to individuate successfully: stability, consistency, and safety. Absent those, you run the risk of unhealthy knotted bonding and stunted separation anxiety. 


Everyone needs to lead their own lives–we really only have one life to live. Yet, as family, we are very much the foundation and part of their inner strength for everything that follows from their determination, hard work, and blessings from Above. 


For parents and children, it is critical to balance the need for healthy separation and independence with love and bonding that is timeless.


We have to “let go and let G-d” and let our Children. 


The parents are the past and the children are the future, but we mean everything to each other. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Most Important Word Is AND

coexist-jpeg

So as divisiveness continues to plague us. the option for acceptance, love, and coexistence is falling out of the favor and by the wayside. 

Division and conflict has been accentuated by the ugliness of the most recent election and representative political divide, economic and gender inequality, inner city violence, racial and religious tensions, worldwide terrorism, and global conflict from Syria to the South China Sea. 

This has even infiltrated the functioning of our government, social institutions, and free media big time, where vetting, negotiation and compromise, critical thinking, and fair, balanced, and investigative journalism have been largely jettisoned. 

There is no place anymore to go hide from bias, bigotry, and hate. 

But as the wise proverb goes things truly are not just black and white, but there are loads of grey everywhere

Many people are not good or evil, left or right, blessed or cursed.

Instead, most people are a mixture of this AND that. 

How much of the complex mix of different elements is what makes up the integrity and life of the individual, group, and organization we are dealing with.

But what’s important is that you really can’t just stereotype people, ideas, or actions as simply good or bad because in reality, they aren’t.  

Each person and position has elements of good and bad in them…nothing and nobody in life is perfect. 

You take the good and the bad in everything from relationships to policy decisions. 

So it is certainly possible and even probable to be conflicted and confused about what we see and hear–and not only because of the bias and prejudice in how it is presented or portrayed, but rather because things are not just simple, one or the other propositions, but rather a combination of things we approve of and disapprove of. 

Our brains can have lots of trouble dealing with this complexity, because we are wired in terms of survival of the fittest, and that often means choosing a action based on split-second categorizing of people and things as friend or foe. 

As the mere shadow of the person or idea is upon us, we are asked to respond–do we run or fight it or do we lovingly embrace it as it overtakes us. 

Choose wrong and you can be badly hurt or even dead. 

But we are forced to make these quick and bold choices without always having the luxury of time, the patience, or wherewithal to stop and recognize that things and people are a combination of things we like and agree with and others that we dislike and vehemently oppose. 

If we could just keep in mind that most things are not just good or bad, right or wrong, but good AND bad, right AND wrong, then we can make more astute and fine-tuned designations of what we think something really is and isn’t and how to handle it, live with it, and faithfully coexist with it. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Colors Of Race

Street Color
With the race riots in Ferguson again this week, the divide between black and white is once again evident in America.

 
Coming from big city life in America, like New York City and Washington D.C., I’ve grown up in divided neighborhoods and united organizations.
 
For example, just this morning, my daughter and I walking down Las Olas had to duck into an Illy’s coffee shop when an impoverished (black) man in dirty clothes and talking loudly to himself turned around on the street and was coming up steadily behind us in a threatening way. Similarly, the day before, there was a (white) lady at the bus stop talking out loud, hallucinating, and thrashing…also scary in this otherwise posh neighborhood.  In other words, these issues are race-agnostic!
 
Simultaneously, I go to synagogue where blacks and whites (as well as “black hatters” and the modern religious) sit and pray and socialize together, and go to work where many of my esteemed coworkers are African-Americans, and watch as one of my daughter’s best friend in school and who she blabs with on the phone is a nice young man who happens to be black
 
Also, I remember last year I think it was having to move a heavy piece of furniture and one of my black neighbors went out of his way to help me get it upstairs–he was incredibly generous and he and many others where I live are friendly, neighborly, and we live side-by-side together.
 
We need to move from racial inequality to racial harmony!
 
We don’t have to wait for an alien invasion to realize we are all human beings here on Earth and that we share more than not.
 
In Fort Lauderdale, by Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, and Broward College, the actual intersections of the street are pained in multi-color. 
 
I love it..not black and white, but the colors of the rainbow…mixed, flowing, getting along, and happy.
 
Let it be–black and white, yellow, brown, and red–a melting pot, together throughout the world in peace and prosperity. 
 
No more rioting in Ferguson or elsewhere, but celebration of humanity–nothing more, nothing less. 😉
 
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Really Smart Cities

This is unbelievable design work by Jacque Fresco–architect, futurist and only 96-years old!

As you watch this video, you just have to ask yourself, why didn’t we think of that sooner?

His design for the city of the future just seems so intuitive–and in aggregate looks almost like the Internet with a mesh design of interlocking cities working together harmoniously.

Great concepts:

– Circular cities–with a city center or central hub of essential services (medical, fire, police, etc.) and shopping, and radiating bands of living quarters, agriculture, and recreation.

– Build from the ground up–rather than build piecemeal, you build the entire architected city from the ground up–first underground infrastructure then building foundations, structures, and all modular, interlocking, interchangeable, and constantly maintained.

– Transportation Conveyers–transport up, down, and around by speedy conveyers or between city hubs by underground maglev trains.

– Recycle Everything–this is an environment where nothing is wasted and everything gets recycled.

– Energy Sustainability–all buildings have photovoltaic or solar cells for generating their own renewable energy resources.

– Clean Water/Air–vital resources like water and air is piped in, cleaned, and constantly monitored for safety.

Wow, this is a day and night difference from any city that I have ever seen–wouldn’t this be the type of place you’d like to raise your family in the future.

Maybe there are times when starting over with a fresh architecture perspective versus just tinkering with the old is necessary to make a bold leap forward–do you think this one of them? 😉

Your Leadership Ticket Is Waiting

Ticket_office

A lot of colleagues tell me that they hate office politics, and for many it represents their one-way ticket to ongoing bickering, infighting, and a virtual endless cycle of unsatisfied wants and unhappiness.

 

Office politics is where the interests of multiple parties either converge or collide–where convergence occurs through feelings of interdependence (i.e. enterprise) and acts of teamwork, while collisions predominate by stressing independence (i.e. isolationism) and head-butting.

 

This is where good and bad leadership can make a huge difference.

 

– One one hand, a bad leader sees the world of the office as “us versus them”and fights almost indiscriminately for his/her share of scope, resources, influence, and power.

 

– On the other hand, a good leader looks out for the good of the organization and its mission, and works to ensure the people have what they need to get their jobs done right, regardless of who is doing it or why.

 

Thus, good leaders inspire trust and confidence, because they, without doubt, put the mission front and center–and egos are left at door.

 

Harvard Business Review (January-February 2011) in an article called “Are You A Good Boss–Or A Great One?” identifies a couple of key elements that inherently create opposition and competitiveness within the enterprise:

 

1) Division of Labor–This is the where we define that I do this and you do that. This has the potential to “create disparate groups with disparate and even conflicting goals and priorities.” If this differentiation is not well integrated back as interrelated parts of an overall organizational identity and mission, then feelings of “us versus them” and even arguments over whose jobs and functions are more important and should come first in the pecking order will tear away at the organizational fiber and chances of success.

 

2) Scarce Resources–This is where limited resources to meet requirements and desirements impact the various parts of the organization, because not everyone’s wishes can be pursued at the same time or even necessarily, at all.  Priorities need to be set and tradeoffs made in what will get done and what won’t. Again, without a clear sense of unity versus disparity, scarcity can quickly unravel the organization based on people’s  feelings of unfairness, dissatisfaction, unrest, and potentially even “mob rule” when people feel potentially threatened.

 

Hence, a bad leader works the system–seeing it as a win-lose scenario–where his/her goals and objectives are necessarily more important than everyone else, and getting the resources (i.e. having a bigger sandbox or “building an empire”) is seen as not only desirable but critical to their personal success–here, their identity and loyalty is to their particular niche silo.

 

However, a good leader cares for the system–looking to create win-win situations–where no one element is better or more important than another, rather where they all must work together synergistically for the greater good of the organization. In this case, resources go not to who fights dirtier, but to who will most benefit the mission with them–in this case, their allegiance and duty is to the greater enterprise and its mission.

 

HBR states well that “In a real team [with a real leader], members hold themselves and one another jointly accountable.They share a genuine conviction they will succeed or fail together.”

 

Organizations need not be snake pits with cut throat managers wanting to see others fail and waiting to take what they can for themselves, rather there is another way, and that is to lead with a shared sense of purpose, meaning, and teamwork. 

 

And this is achieved through creating harmony among organizational elements and not class warfare between them.

 

This type of leader that creates unity–builds enduring strength–and has the ticket we need to organizational success.

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)