Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, “Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch.”

The Rabbi asked why did Hashem who is omnipotent even need to create us? And he answered because in G-d being the ultimate good, He “had to create us”—this in essence being the ultimate expression of good by sharing that goodness with us to learn and be good as well. In short, what could be a greater good than extending that opportunity to be be good to others.


Like our forefather, my Hebrew name is Avraham, and for me personally, this has been a critical life lesson: learning to see challenges as opportunities to learn, grow, and consistently be a person that tries to do what is right even when it is hard or the lines seem to be grey. In the end, I believe that G-d put us in this world in order for us to choose good over evil and demonstrate kindness to others. With the Torah as our blueprint, and Avraham, our forefather, as our role model, we must apply the great teachings of the Torah and always strive to act as a proper mensch!

(Credit Photo: 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)

Jerusalem Center of The World

I love this map by Heinrich Bunting, a German Protestant pastor and cartographer. 


This beautiful artist and thoughtful map was published in 1581.


It shows the 3 continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa as 3 leaves of a clovers with Jerusalem at the center. 


Jerusalem, Israel is the focus, nexus and crossroad between these 3 worlds of Western, Asian, and African civilizations. 


Israel is so multi-cultural and holy to the 3 major monotheistic religions of the world (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism).  


Light, healing, peace, and prosperity should emanate from Jerusalem to the whole world and G-d should bless us from his heavenly abode.  😉


(Source Photo: Wikipedia)

Interfaith Movie Today

This afternoon, we attended the interfaith movie screening of “The Judge.

The movie is about a Palestinian woman who becomes “the first woman judge in a Shari’a ‘family law’ court.”

Let’s just say it wasn’t easy for her to break into this male-dominated profession within institutionalized religion in the Middle East.

Thinking in an interfaith way, I guess it’s maybe not so dissimilar to women breaking into the profession of the Rabbinate.

Another similarity between the religions was that there were many Islamic religious leaders that were very conservative and dead set against women in the Shari’a courts, while others stood up against the tide and inspired change — I think we have similar disagreements in Judaism between the ultra-orthodox who want to stick with the “old” historical ways of doing things, and the more liberal Jews that seek the freedom to alter those ways.

During the movie, there were some interesting take-aways like under Shariah law, men are allowed up to 4 wives!

Another funny line in the movie was when one of the men said that the men never make trouble for the women (i.e. it’s all the women’s fault).

In the court cases filmed, there seemed to be a lot of cases of domestic violence and of divorce, and in one case in particular the wife was actually stabbed to death in the court house by her husband who she was trying to get a divorce from.

Overall, it felt good to attend the event and try to be a part of the healing process between people.

The event was sponsored by the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Society (JIDS) of Washington, D.C.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Shabbat Shalom!

Love this picture that my daughter took in Israel of the Challahs for Shabbat. 


So fresh and delicious. 


Plenty for all. 


G-d’s blessing for a restful Shabbos.


Thank you for sanctifying us with your mitzvot. 😉


(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

Miracles of Charity and Faith

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Conviction of One’s Faith.”

What better way to welcome in the New Year of 2019 then with some inspirational true stories about amazing people and their faith in G-d and doing what’s right. Recently, I saw firsthand from some special people, the miracles that happen when one is charitable and sticks to ones beliefs. 


As my father always taught me about G-d and doing what’s right: “Stick to your convictions!” 😉


(Source Photo of this amazing Tzedakah (charity) box in Israel: Minna Blumenthal)

My First Interfaith Event

So I attended my first interfaith event today at Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, Maryland.


The first lady that I spoke to said that she wasn’t any one religion.  


When I asked more about this, she said:

The core to all religions is Rachamim (mercy, compassion) and Ahavah (love).


Pictured above are the table seating cards that directed people to sit next to people of other religions:  Jewish, Muslim, Other. 


The event was led by the One America Movement, and the Director, Andrew Hanauer spoke very well about bridging what divides us. 


Here are some of the take-a-ways:


– We need to address the divisiveness, polarization, and conflict. 

– Remember that we are talking with other human beings and not with labels.


– Polarization is not just issues, but devolves into identity–“I hate your stupid face!”


– But we are all human beings (and children of G-d). 

– Republicans and Democrats each say that the other is 20% less human than they are. 


– We all have our own “facts”:  My facts vs. Your Facts. 


– We attribute good that happens to us as being because of “us,” but bad that happens to us because of “them.”


– Similarly, we believe that we act out of love, but they act out of hate–and:

– We interpret threats to our viewpoints (political and otherwise), as threats to our groups and to ourselves. 

– Try to remove binary thinking (right and wrong, left and right, etc.), critique your own point of view, and share doubts

– Reconciliation:  If we can cross the divide, have open dialogue, and positive interactions with each others, and develop cross-cutting identities then we will make it easier to counter divisive narratives, solve problems, and reduce violence. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)