Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) @JCC Rockville

Memorial for the 23,741 fallen soldiers and 3,150 victims of terror. 


Brave, strong, and dedicated to the survival of Israel. 


May their memory be a blessing!


Also a beautiful video my daughter, Minna sent to me. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

An Early Death

So I received an email last night from the teacher of my Ulpan class. 


She was passing along a message from a wonderful man in class letting her and us know some terrible news.


His son suddenly and unexpectedly died at just 28-years old this past week. 


He wrote about how tragedy like this impacts a person and family, and that obviously he didn’t know when he would be coming back to class. 


The message from this man who had just prematurely lost his son in the prime of his life really hit me. 


Life is so tenuous–where everything truly hangs in the balance by a thin thread. 


You can think you are building a fortress of success where no one and nothing can touch you, hurt you.


But life has its own catapults, battering rams, siege towers, and explosive moments in store.


You can’t really plan for these things, and you are never ready when they happen. 


Having to bury a child is not the normal way of the wold, and the pain of this is unimaginable. 


A child is the culmination of all our efforts and represents the future, even while we are the past. 


I am so sorry for what happened to my friend from class and I wish him my sincerest condolences and that no one should have to go through such tragedy any more. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Not Caring or Worse

It’s interesting…


There are a lot of good people out there, but there are probably more in your orbit that simply don’t care or worse. 


You can have this problem or that. 


If they even “give you the time of day,” people will nod, tell you how sorry they are, and probably relate some of their own misery.


The good people try to see if and how they may be able to help. 


The others really don’t want to know, certainly don’t care, and just see you as baggage in the way. 


But everyone has their problems!  


If only people could look with compassion on each other. 


We all struggle with our demons in this world.  


Of course, we can’t let troubles get in the way of our doing what we need to do. 


But people can make all the difference in just providing a compassionate ear and being willing to open themselves up to understanding others and helping each other or making reasonable accommodations so people can help themselves. 


Listen, we all have our day–wouldn’t it be nice to be that person who is kind and generous to others and have others treat us that way too. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Respecting Native Americans

So I don’t know what went down with the students from Catholic Covington High School and the Native Americans in the video that was widely circulated the other day.


People claiming all sorts of racism and hate, and others saying nothing happened–usually the truth is somewhere in between. 


In light of this, I wanted to share this awesome painting, and say we should absolutely respect the Native Americans and do everything we can to help them. 


These are the indigenous people that were here long before we ever were, and let’s just say that they suffered and lost a lot when the first Europeans arrived on these shores. 


We are all G-d’s children, and no one acting with integrity and peacefully should ever be mistreated or disrespected, no one! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Transcending Suffering and Impermanence

There is a buddhist philosophy that life is all about loss and suffering. 


The Budha says:

Life is suffering.


Why? Because life is impermanence–whatever we gain, eventually, we must lose. 


– Riches, power, people, health, even our memories perhaps. 


In a sense, this is like the saying from “War of the Roses”:

There is no winning, only degrees of losing. 


However, there is one exception to the impermanence and loss in life:


The only thing that is permanent is our good deeds, and with this we can achieve an everlasting good name for ourselves.


In Judaism, we teach:

A good name is better than fine oil.


Hence, this is the permanence that we strive for in life and in death.  


If we can attain a good name through purity of soul then in a sense, we can transcend life’s suffering and impermanence.  


By becoming non-attached to all of life’s temporary things, and instead focusing on perfecting ourselves, we can free ourselves from suffering and from this world, and then we can go on in everlasting-peace to the afterlife. 

(Source Photo: 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)

Upside Down Flower On Stairs

Thought this was an interesting picture to take. 


It’s an upside-down pink flower bent over a concrete stair. 


And the stem is sticking straight up and out. 


The contrast of the live soft pink flower and the cold hard grey of the concrete stairs is astounding to me.


Life can so easily be bent over, squished out, and left for dead in the cold harsh realities of this world 


We are alive, but life can be hard. 


We fight to go on, but life is sometimes unforgiving.


The bright spark of life seeks to illuminate the hard grey block.


Breath, beat, live…good health is unbelievably precious.


Arise flower and once again stand tall in the glowing sunshine and the pouring rain. 


Nourish yourself in the soil of the Earth, give praise to the L-rd as only life can do. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)