Ramath Orah Synagogue

So the other day, I received this wonderful email from someone working on the 75th anniversary of Ramath Orah Synagogue on the Upper West Side in Manhattan where I grew up. 


My grandfather (Opa), Simon Blumenthal, had served as the President of that synagogue for many wonderful years.


I remember always being so proud of him for his dedication and hard work for the community. 


I look up to him when he got up to give the announcements at the pulpit. 


And he built the beautiful center bimah, the special succah downstair with the roof that opened up to the sky at holiday time, and made many other truly impressive improvements to the synagogue. 


He and his wife, my grandmother (Oma), Hilda Blumenthal were an absolutely beautiful couple and the finest of people. 


My parents, Fred and Gerda Blumenthal, continued in their footsteps and to be members at Ramath Orah long after we had moved away to Riverdale, and they were contributors to the shul and attended the annual synagogue dinners for many years. 


Even though the synagogue was mainly filled with elderly people at the time, we always knew and prayed that it would become revitalized again, which it did and is now. 


Pictured at the bottom is me as a kid sitting with a talit over my shoulder and in my grandfathers (the President’s chair) in the front of the synagogue.


Aside from leading and singing the regular Yigdal and Adom Olam prayers, I loved to sit with my father and grandfather in synagogue.


We prayed together, and we stayed together as a family and community. 


I miss them all so much, but am sure they are up in Heaven together sitting in the Big Synagogue in the sky basking in the light of Hashem and watching over me and my family today!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Synagogue, To Laugh And To Cry

So I am learning that synagogue is more than a place to worship G-d.


It is a place of and for the people to express their full range of emotions. 


Frankly, I think it is a place for people to laugh and to cry. 


Rarely, a week goes by when not one or both of these emotions/actions happen. 


Yes, we cry out to G-d in supplication and also are joyous in his holy majesty and presence. 


But more than that, as a community, we come together to share of our week and ourselves with each other. 


One one hand, we laugh with each other at the funny and ridiculous things that happen to us and at the joy we feel for the blessings that G-d bestows on us daily. 


On the other, we cry on each other’s shoulders at the pain and loss that we (G-d forbid) at times must face and endure in the face of illness, evil, and tragedy.


Just today, both things happened in the synagogue and my heart was at one time uplifted with gladness and then at another greatly saddened with the hurt shared–occurrences of each in just a short span of time. 


Yes, we laugh and we cry together–alone, it is at once empty and at the other unbearable. 


We need to support each other; there is no other way that is not extreme madness. 


Put your arms around another to embrace them in great happiness and to let them cry mightily on your shoulder. 


Sharing with each other at our houses of worship–that is how we show G-d that we are bound to Him and to each others’ souls–all children of G-d trying to make it together to the next service. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

That Smug Face, Evil Haman

That Smug Face, Evil Haman.

Reclining back with legs crossed.

Know-it-all, interrupting others rudely.

Abusive, hurtful words.

Violent, loud, aggressive actions.

Narcissist, my way or the highway.

For their power and desires only.

They believe that might makes right.

In every generation, they rise to perpetuate suffering on others.

But G-d stands supreme.

He will evoke his judgment and rain His fiery wrath on the oppressive, evil, and haughty.

And He will restore good over evil in the world.

His faithful will praise His holy name forever.

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. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cross The Street

I like this saying by life coach Iyanla Vanzant”

“When you see crazy coming, cross the street!”


I remember learning similarly from experts that the first lesson in self defense is always:

“If you can run, run!”


That doesn’t mean your not strong or courageous.


It’s just common sense to try to avoid trouble if you can. 


When people seriously fight, both usually can end up with a black eye or worse. 


And there are truly a lot of crazies out there.


Peace is always desired.


But strength (and preparedness) is always required. 


This makes sense as well in the larger context of the USA upgrading it’s nuke arsenal and other weapons systems and platforms to deter enemy aggression.


Thus, peace through strength and of course, prayer! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Happiness Is Serving G-d

Times may be tough.


But I have faith in G-d.


I turn to Him in whatever challenge or enemy arises. 


My heart is singing to Him. 

Hashem Melech.
Hashem Malach.
Hashem Yimloch L’Olam VaEd


In English:

G-d is king.
G-d was king.
G-d will be king forever. 


What other reassurance in life could we ever want or need. 


My heart is singing. 

Hashem is G-d.  
Hashem is One. 


Yes, it is singing. 


I have faith that all will be well. 


– Peace, Health, Happiness, Prosperity. 


Because it is G-d who rules now and forever and ever! 😉

The Most Precious and Beautiful Song

Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from the Earth.


Sing throughout all the Heavens.


Sing from the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from the People.


Sing throughout all the Angelic Host.


Sing from the Animals, the Fish, and the Fowl.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.


Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from the Begining of Time.


Sing throughout the End of Time.


Sing in the Morning, the Noon, and the Night.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.

Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from the Mountains.


Sing throughout the rolling Valleys.


Sing in the Forests, the Cities, and the Seas.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from every Tree.


Sing throughout the sprawling blades of grass.


Sing from every drop of dew, pouring of rain, and howling of wind.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from each Word.


Sing throughout all your Deeds.


Sing in the Thinking, the Doing, and the Speaking.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from every beating Heartbeat.


Sing throughout all your Breaths.


Sing in your Comings, your Goings, and Wherever you are.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing with your Material wealth.


Sing throughout all your Spiritual awakenings.


Sing during your Journey, at your Milestones, and when you arrive at your Destination.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from your successes.


Sing throughout all your failures.


Sing during your tryings, your learnings, and your growing.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.


(Note 1: Incredibly, this is my first song and it came to me early on the Shabbat where we read the portion of the Torah when G-d miraculously led the Israelites through the split sea and they sang the “Shirah” (song) of thanksgiving to G-d for saving and redeeming them from slavery to freedom, and I didn’t even know it was this Shabbat!)


(Note 2: I would love if someone can put this to music and make this into an amazing song to G-d.)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)