Striving To Be Good Enough (This Time Around)

Please read my new article in The Times of Israel called, “When Are We Good Enough?

I too believe strongly in reincarnation. I think that is partially what G-d means by doing justice in this world. If you bomb out in life and don’t fulfill your true potential than G-d sends you back for another try.  And this can happen as many times as it takes to get it right!

I hope I am getting it right in my life this time around. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dreaming of Zion

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “I Dream of Zion.”

To flourish in the land of milk and honey.

To celebrate the Shabbat and holidays as in the days of old.

To revere the bravery and heroism of the defenders of Israel.

To live and worship as a Jew without discrimination, racism, and hatred.

To fulfill the promise of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Hope you enjoy and we can all one day live the dream! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa

Thought this was a beautiful wall hanging in a local restaurant here. 


Three golden Hamsas!


Hamsa is symbolic for the protective hand of G-d. 


Three is a number for “chizuk”  (strengthening) that signifies something is firmly established. 


The three Hamsas together is a potent representation for G-d’s protection, mazel (good fortune), happiness, health, prosperity, and peace. 


Oh G-d, we pray that you show us your endless divine mercy and bless us with all that is for the good. 


Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Diversity Tapestry

I really liked this sign with the saying by civil rights leader, Maya Angelou:

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value, no matter what their color [or race, or origin, or religion, or age, or gender, or sexual orientation, or disability].”


Ok, I added the “or” statements at the end. 


But the point is the same and important.


Discrimination, bigotry, prejudice, and bias are stupid. 


They are a function of ignorance. 


– We learn from diversity. 


– Life is richer with diversity. 


If everything was in monocolor…if life was homogeneous…if there was only one type of everything, then what type of humdrum, monotonous, and boring place would this be?


Value the variety.  Value the diversity.  Value the differences. 


They make us better and stronger than we could ever otherwise be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

Beyond Money

Okay, I don’t impress easily, but I got to tell you somebody really did.


Tring to keep their confidentiality, let me just say this…


A couple returned some money to us, but they went truly above and beyond. 


They returned some money that technically they were entitled to, and I never would’ve imagined that they should give it back to us. 


When I saw the check and what they did, I really couldn’t stop myself saying how amazing this couple is. 


They are a religious Jewish couple, and I just feel that what they did was such a “Kiddush Hashem” (their behavior is a sanctification of G-d’s name in the world). 


Some people pretend to be religious on the outside, but inside their behaviors don’t reflect it. 


In this case, the people were generally religious not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.


Their doing righteous literally was uplifting for my soul to see that there really are such incredible people in this world. 


Yes, some people are bad–do bad–and we can get not only disappointed but depressed that they seem to thrive anyway. 


So to see the good in people–extra good–it renews my hope in mankind and in G-d Above who shows us the way and can inspire us to behave morally and ethically amazingly.  😉


(Source photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Israel Style

Today we walked around Tel Aviv and went to the Art Museum here and also the stores, grocery, and cafes.


What I really liked was seeing it up close and not from the back of a tour bus. 


After just a day or so, I started to feel like I was really experiencing life here. 


Crossing Menachem Begin Road, we ran into these fashion-conscious ladies. 


The colorful clothes and hair, the tall blue shoes, the ripped leggings of the women on the left definitely stood out.


Juxtaposed is the lady on the right in the black dress, short haircut, bag, and glasses. 


This pair was a standout!


In a way, I miss the Holy lifestyle of Jerusalem here in Tel Aviv, but at the same time, I like the cosmopolitan and modern life here too.


Anyway, I feel like I am learning a lot and enjoying experiencing culture and religion Israel-style. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

Organized Religion.jpeg

So I am definitely someone who is spiritual and tries to be faithful to G-d.


I believe, He is my creator and sustainer and that we are here to learn and grow our soul before it goes back to Hashem. 


Yet often, like so many others now-a-days, I find organized religion to be a turn-off. 


Why?


1) There is a consistency and sincerity problem.


To some people, I believe it’s partially the rote and robotic nature of some of the practices–where we just do it, because we are told to do it, and we do it over and over and time after time, again–even when we don’t feel it in the moment, and even if we do other things that are not so right in other areas of our lives.  


In contrast perhaps, there can be more spontaneous and genuine feelings and actions, in the moment and every moment–that come from the heart and the soul of the person and directly to G-d–and they are consistent whether we are in a religious setting to how we treat others and how we act in business. 


In other words, we just don’t follow the rules, but we live them fully and integrated with ourselves and all situations we find ourselves in. 


2)  There is a money and power problem.


In some religious environments, all people are not created equal or treated equal. Instead, the say, the attention, and the honor goes to the powerful and the rich, who are courted for their donations and their votes to the institution and the spiritual leader. Who gets talked up? Who is given the honors at the religious rituals, at the events and the dinners, and with their communal “peers”? 


In other cases, it’s not just money and power that talks, but who is outwardly the “most religious” and presumably walks the walk.  If you but “seem” more religious than the next guy, then you are elevated and exalted in the religious community.  


Instead, what happened to welcoming and caring for everyone–to everyone being children of G-d–to each person having a soul and their personal life challenges. Why can’t we treat everyone as religiously worthwhile and give everyone a chance to learn and grow in their own way from their starting point and to their destination?  


Religion should be the one place that isn’t a competition with others. 


Religion is ultimately between man and G-d!


And only G-d knows what is inside man’s heart and in his soul–and what his actions really are all the time and what they truly mean in context and in essence


I welcome G-d in my life, because I:


– Have faith in Him and that ultimately He has a master plan and that everything is for the good 

– Love Him for giving me the chance to learn and grow my soul to be better

– Fear Him for when I do something wrong in my life and need a course correction 


I wish for a time and transformation when religion would not just be based on outward manifestations but on being sincere and consistent in people’s lives, and where people would no longer be superficially judged and (mis)treated because they are themselves and on their G-d given paths. 


If only we could religiously love, rather than endlessly judge, each other, oh what a heartfelt and inspiring religion that would be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Ultimate Rejection (Not)

Rejection.jpeg

Ok, folks.


This picture is not the message you want to get before Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year and time of judgement). 


We want to see the long hand of G-d come down with love, caring, forgiveness, and blessings!


A flick of the Almighty index finger, definitely not what we want to see or get.  


Worse would be getting the middle finger, of course. 


But I definitely don’t think G-d does that! 


Talking about rejection with a big R. 


To all my family and friends, a most happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

 

Greatest Museum of Them All

Museum of Bible.jpeg

So the greatest museum of them all is scheduled to open in just 3 months!


The Museum of the Bible.


Right here in Washington, D.C.–a few blocks from the Capitol. 


There is a wonderful video on their website


It’s 430,000 square feet and 8 stories floors. 


With two 40-feet-high bronze doors that look like the Ten Commandments. 


And an overall tall and narrow shape with a curved roof that reminds me of Noah’s Ark.


It encompasses: 


Religion.


History.


Art. 


It all comes together here. 


There is an interesting display of all the different versions of the Bible.


But what it all points to is how similar we all really are. 


The emergence of faith in The One G-d who created us all–his children–and the foundation in the words of His book. 


Yes, we share in common much more than what separates us. 


If we can just see ourselves in His eyes and be the people we can be and were meant to be. 


The museum should be an inspiration to be better, to be brothers, to have peace, to partner and progress to the future.


With our faith sustaining us, and the Bible and our conscience as our guides, we can overcome. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)