Prevent Problems From Becoming Crises

I heard this saying and thought it was good:

Problems that are left unattended have a habit of becoming crises. 


I suppose problems exist for us to confront and deal with them, so we can grow ourselves. 


– There is no running from problems.


– There is no hiding from problems.


Problems can follow you with better than laser-guided GPS and they will find you out.  


The only option is it face the challenge head-on and the earlier and more productively the better. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Stone Faces Hide The Heart

Some people are so cold and emotionally distant.


They go around with a stone face.  


No emotion seems to seep in or out. 


The face doesn’t betray the heart in any way. 


You say something or do something, and they just sort of stare at you. 


No words, no outward response. 


Just a stone face like a poker face. 


You don’t know what’s behind it. 


But worse yet is a heart of stone–nothing impacts the inside just like the outside. 


Are some people this way because they have been so hurt in the past that they become hardened like a turtle’s shell to protect from the outside world. 


…Ain’t gonna let nothing hurt me again. 


Or are they great at using their poker face to fool, manipulate, and get what they are after. 


Perhaps the worst possibility is that they are simply a real psychopath–someone without conscience or empathy. 


Yes, that is scary because the unthinkable becomes thinkable. 


For most of us, reading verbal and non-verbal cues is critical to understanding other people. 


Hiding those cues can mean that the stone face is going to shatter someone’s world and that won’t be a pretty face at all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Meaning of Silence

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Is silence a good thing or a bad thing–what does it really mean?


On the plus or neutral side:


Silence can mean modesty and humility–you withhold speaking out of turn or having a big mouth; you recognize that you don’t know everything and what you do know is not intended to put down or shame others. 


Silence can means secrets and privacy–you don’t say everything; you treat information properly based on need to know and propriety of sharing. 


Silence can mean good situational judgement–that you know prudently when to let others have their say, or when your opinion isn’t really welcome, or when it’s best to just stay below the radar. 


Silence can mean you simply don’t know–and it’s something you need to listen and learn more about rather than speak; it’s why we’re told that we have two ears and one mouth.


Silence can mean that maybe you don’t care about something–why get fired up or “waste your breath” on it when it’s just not your thing.


When can it be a negative:


There was a sign in the local school window that silence means (wrongful) acceptance; that is also something I learned in in the Talmud in yeshiva; if you see something wrong and don’t say or do something, you are (partially) responsible.


Silence can mean fear–perhaps you don’t accept something, but you’re afraid to speak truth or morality to power; you sit silently cowering, when you should stand up tall and speak out. 


Silence may also mean shame–you’ve done something wrong or don’t want others to know something that could make you look bad or put you in jeopardy. 


Silence can mean you are hiding something–it can be that you don’t trust or aren’t trustful; silence at a time when you need to answer or respond can result in suspicion about why you are “holding back,” instead of being forthcoming and truthful.


When to talk and when to remain silent? 


Certainly, “you have the right to remain silent.”


We need to use words with care and intent–to always seek to help and not to hurt. 


Words are so potent–the mouth is perhaps the strongest part of the human body, just like the pen is mightier than the sword. 


That’s why I pray that G-d put the “right words” in my mouth–to be constructive, positive, effective and impactful–to do good as much as possible with words and with silence. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Jewish Humor Is Part Of Our Survival

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So the prior Jewish generation (my parents) had a really good sense of humor. 


My dad always had a joke to tell and make people laugh. 


And as the movie, “When Jews Were Funny” portrays, the suffering of the past led to the lighthearted humor of the times. 


From the unbelievable horrors of the Holocaust and pogroms came the yearning for comic relief in the everyday life around us.


We are the survivors! 


And we yearn to go on living and making the world a better place, and you can’t do that from the depths of sorrow and fear.  


In the movie, here were two funny jokes to start your week off with:


1) This old Jewish lady goes through a red light and 2 stop signs, and her husband, Sadie shrieks and says to her, “What are you doing? You just drove through a red light and 2 stop signs!”  And his wife replies, “I didn’t even know that I was driving!”  


2) This Jewish man living in anti-Semitic times trying to hide his Jewishness is reiterating his answers to various questions posed to him to rout him out. He innocently goes, “And when they asked me what religion I am, I fooled them good and told them I was Goyish!”


Yeah, they just don’t tell them like they used to. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

G-d Is Good, (Some) People Not So

G-d Good

I am quite disabled after hip surgery, but I am livid. 


There was an article in the New York Times about a Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt who likes to take children and young adults naked to the sauna and Mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) and watch!


Some even reported that he “gawked at a naked 12-year old,” “invited a 15-year old for intimate night time conversations during which he frequently put his hand on the boy’s leg,” and invited himself into a 17-year old’s living room and tried repeatedly to persuade him to change into a bathrobe.”


The article describes how this has been going on for around 30 years and the Rabbi was asked in various forms to stop by the Riverdale Jewish Center synagogue, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), and even investigated by Yeshiva University (YU). 


Interestingly, this is happening after the “2012 sex scandal involving top Rabbi’s from Yeshiva University, another with Rabbi Baruch Lanner with “sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of scores of teens” in his charge in the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), and most recently, the 6-year sentencing for “videotaping more than 150 women” (going to the Mikvah) of Rabbi Freundel of Kesher Synagogue (right here in Washington, D.C.). 


All of these sex scandals involved highly prominent rabbi’s (and I feel sick to my stomach even using that esteemed word for them), and at the time this abuse was going on and for years after, no one wanted to believe this was happening!


A friend posted this article about Rabbi Rosenblatt on my Facebook page –we both know this Rabbi from Riverdale, NY where we grew up–and asked “What have you to say to this?”


Well let me tell you…many have come forward for the NYT’s article and others on my Facebook page and behind the scenes to confirm knowledge of Rabbi’s Rosenblatt’s gawking and other inappropriate behaviors with children.


– “I refused to consider having him perform my marriage ceremony because of this and another of his ‘unusual habits.'”


– “Not only was this common knowledge personally–it was known institutionally, by both YU and the RCA.”


Yet others choose to continue the disbelief (some excerpts):


– “I believe these rumors to be vicious slander.”


– “I want to believe some weird habits are being blown out of proportion.”


So let me tell you that not knowing something is happening or not wanting to believe does not make it so. 


I and others I have spoken to remember children being invited to play racquetball as I remember it (squash in the article) and to go to the Sauna with the Rabbi afterward. 


As someone described for the NYT article about going to the Mikvah with the Rabbi, I can attest that this similarly happened to me PERSONALLY. 


Before I got married, the Rabbi accompanied me to the Mikvah for the ritual bathing which he said was needed before marriage, and just as the 15-year old victim in the article described, the Rabbi was “watching me” and I remember the Rabbi also telling me that he had to in order to see my whole body immersed.


I also remember feeling his look at me being off and feeling sick afterwards, like I just wanted to wash again and again. 


However for others referenced in the NYT article, it was much worse, “The routine was always the same: ‘Always the hand on the shoulder or the leg, always the hand touching some part of your body’…The rabbi’s touch ‘was very seductive and it was very manipulative in a way.'”


Unfortunately, as is typical, it is easier to blame the victims or disavow them, then acknowledge a deep-rooted sick and evil in our society by some who are at the top of the pecking order religiously and otherwise.


To be completely clear, the chilul Hashem is NOT with the victims, but RATHER it is with the man who for over 30 years continued this sick ruse, even after he was asked repeatedly to stop his inappropriate behavior with children and young adults. 


For those who choose to continue to look the other way, say how nice and scholarly these Rabbis are, and make every excuse in the book, rather than demand a FULL investigation and justice, all I can say is they are being complicit! 


One last thing I will say, there are others in that community that were involved.  


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

UNSOCIAL Social Media

This video is absolutely fantastic.

Congratulations to Gary Turk for hitting the nail on the head here.

And thank you to my daughter, Michelle, for sharing this with me.

Smartphones, dumb people.
Easier to connect with people, but we spend more time alone.
Be there in the moment.
Give your love, not your like.
Look up from your phone, shut down your display.

Part of me just wants to say that Social Media is one of THE biggest wastes of our time…REALLY!

Another part of me, believes in some aspects of it for information sharing, collaboration, and being a greater influence.

But Social Computing is NOT a replacement for genuine human interaction, which is too OFTEN what it has become.

I applaud my daughters, for at times, disconnecting their Facebook accounts to read, spend time with friends, and do other activities.

We’ve lost too much of ourselves to an escapist virtual reality–where it’s easier to HIDE behind a screen, then be there in the flesh facing the challenges that we must.

There are great aspects to being online–it’s been a true information revolution–but the computer needs to SERVE the human master, and not the other way around. 😉

Awesome Turtle

This turtle was awesome. 

Another hiker found him at the top of the mountain.


When he first showed it to us, the turtle’s head was completely hiding in its shell.


After a while, the turtle decided to poke its head out and check out the scenario, and us. 


As you can see, both the shell and the turtle’s body is this incredible art deco combination of yellow and black in all sorts of cool geometric shapes. 


In the Fall season’s leaves, I imagine this turtle blends right on in–making it am even more amazing find today. 


The guy holding the turtle put him down for a second, and this turtle was almost off and running at turtle speed. 


Cute little fellow! 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)