From Victims To Victors

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “From Victims To Victors.”

The critical image of transformation of the Israelites going from the very depths of slavery to the lofty heights of redemption, the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and going to the Promised Land is relived again in our very own times. This happened immediately after the Holocaust, when the Jews left the death camps of Europe (in fact, many coming by boat over the Mediterranean Sea instead of on foot over the Red Sea as in biblical times) to come to Israel. Here too, the Jews went on to fight as free men in the War of Independence for the founding of the State of Israel just like the Israelites fought the Amalekites in the desert and the Seven Nations to receive the Promised Land of Israel. Furthermore, just like we received the Torah after the redemption from Egypt, we are seeing an incredible resurgence of Torah learning in Israel today.


In both cases of redemption, we had to transform from being victims of slavery and persecution to instead taking the reins in our hands, and with Hashem’s help, determining our own destiny and becoming the victors! Incredibly, just as the Israelites were redeemed by Hashem from Egypt and brought to conquer the Promised land 3300 years ago, so too were we, Jews, brought from the ashes of Auschwitz to the shores of the Israel to fight and become “a free nation in our Land, the Land of Zion, Jerusalem” (Hatikvah). And just like the redemption from Egypt resulted in the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) to worship Hashem in the desert, so too will we soon relive the redemption in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Again, in the right time, we will need to have faith and courage to rebuild it with our very hands, and this will happen speedily and truly in our days. May Hashem let it be!

 
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Two Things To Know

There are two things to know.

  • Know-how:  That’s knowing how to do things yourself.
  • Know-who:  That’s knowing who to go to to get everything else done. 

None of us is perfect.


We each have strengths and weaknesses.


No one has all the answers–despite some big egos out there!


That’s why we all need each other.


Knowledge is great, but networking magnifies your potential many times over.


These are two things you definitely want to know. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Clip-Clip

So recently I started cutting my own hair. 


Uh, yes!


Not sure what made me actually do this…


But it just seemed like I was wasting money at the Hair Cuttery on something that I could do myself. 


Also, I remember fondly how my dad used to cut his own hair for decades.


So I gave it a try–that’s not me in the picture!


I purchased a simple Wahl clipper and went at it.  


First a little tentatively and then more boldly as I got the hang of it. 


The best part of the clipper is the color-coded guide combs so I don’t completely screw this up. 


What I also like is that ability to give myself a little trim whenever I want. 


Don’t have to wait to get to the barber or to wait on line there. 


So far so good, thank G-d–no big hair disasters.  


And frankly, I look a lot happier than the guy in this photo. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Make The Right Move To Agile Education

So, unfortunately, our education system in this country is highly troubled


Generally, we teach by strict curriculum forcing children to learn what we consider “the fundamentals”.


But they are anything but that and kids come out not knowing how to do the very basics or survive in life. 


Test scores have not been improving–that’s not the student’s fault, but the education system, which cannot force feed what students minds are rejecting as “old school” and out of touch.


Not only don’t we fish for them, but we don’t even teach them to fish. 


We throw at them esoteric subjects to memorize, spit back, and forget. 


Wash, rinse, repeat. 


We waste years of their life and the productivity and creativity of society. 


Ever really wonder why GDP growth is only around 2% despite all the rapid technology that we are rolling out. 


It is just not drones that we are rolling off the assembly line, but human automatons as well. 


This is where agile education comes into aspect. 


Like with software development, we can gather requirements and build, and then show the customer, and then refine again and again. 


We let the development grow and mature naturally as the code takes shape. 


No more years of development and voila here’s something for you, and with the customer exclaiming loudly, “What the F*** is that!”


So too with education, we need to follow the spirit and train of thought naturally. 


Where we let the students guide the teacher to what their questions are, what they are interested in learning about, where their creative juices take them, and what is relevant. 


Rigidity in the education system leaves our students as dead ends, and not as critical thinkers and innovators.


We have a dearth of leaders we can look up to and a plethora of people that couldn’t survive the Spring without their Visa/Mastercard.  


Ever wonder why so many of our great innovators are college dropouts who built their companies in their garages instead of occupying a seat in a classroom and filling their heads with teacher rhetoric. 


Most people learn by seeing, internalizing, and doing useful things for themselves, not by listening and violently rejecting the irrelevant in their lives. 


Let us release the choking reigns of our education system. 


Teachers should be able to follow the questions and interests and natural evolution of thought and creativity and wonderment with their students. 


The mark of learning is not the answers on a standardized test, but the light bulb of critical thinking and innovation from our progeny. 


Exploration and discovery and skills to be self-sufficient and survive are far more beneficial than what we are giving our children today.


We owe them a better education, but we are not delivering because we are the automatons of yesteryear. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Got Skills

I thought this was a very telling sign right off the highway in Washington, D.C. 


“Does your child have life skills?”


And then it lists things like:

“Cooking, budgets, sewing, ironing, time managment, communication, and fun”


The classes are offered by ActualLifeSkills.com.


I took a look online at what a typical 6-week class offered on Sundays for 3-hours at a time and at a cost of $345. 


It even covered things like:

“Handshakes, eye contact, and conversation starters
Voice projection and confidence
Party/guest etiquette, gifts and thank you notes”


And of course, aside from the cooking and budgeting already mentioned, there were more of the foundations such as laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping.


I would suggest adding things like computer basics, child rearing, human relations, home maintenance, car mechanics, hunting, fishing, gardening, first-aid, fitness, and even self-defense. 


Since, we spend so much time teaching book skills, I have often thought why we don’t spend more time teaching these fundamental life skills. 


We are raising a generation of kids that can score 1500+ on the SATs, but they don’t know sh*t about real life and couldn’t survive a week without electricity, Internet, or mom and dad taking care of them. 


Back to basics. 


Back to life skills. 


Back to survival. 


Back to being self-sufficient. 


There is no reason that we can’t add these items to our broken school curriculums. 


You shouldn’t have to go to special classes to learn to live life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

All American Chair

All American Chair.jpeg

Got to love this all American chair. 

Red, white, and blue. 

And stars and stripes everywhere. 

The only thing that I seriously wonder about is whether this chair was manufactured in the U.S. 

With the U.S. losing 35% of it’s manufacturing employment between 1998 and 2010 (from 17.6M to 11.5M), due in large part to outsourcing, there is a good chance this chair was made overseas. 

Now manufacturing makes up less than 9% of total U.S. employment

Also noteworthy is the loss of 51,000 manufacturing plants or 12.5% between 1998-2008.  

Together, agriculture and industry make up only approximately 20% of the entire U.S. economy

Manufacturing are agriculture are strategic capabilities for this country and any country. 

It’s not just what you know, but what you make!

Sure we can make things faster and easier with automation, but at this point there is a serious skills shortage (with millions of jobs going unfilled), and we need to safeguard the strategic knowledge, skills, capability, and capacity to make things vital to our thriving existence.

We need to be a more self-sufficient nation again and not a one-trick service pony. 

We need to use information to be better innovators, creators, developers, and builders. 

Information is great, but you can’t live by information alone. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Help Is Coming

Help

So I used to have a boss who said something really funny.


He used to go, “Everybody says they want to help us” and then bemoaningly he would seem to repeat that a few times. 


The next part which he didn’t need to explicitly say was that “But no one does!”


It was the words, but also much the tone–yes, the walls could be caving in, the ship could be sinking, everything going up in flames, and of course, everyone is there looking on, shaking their heads pitifully, and seemingly stretching out their hand in an offer of help. 


For this boss though, the help couldn’t come fast enough or with enough resources to help resolve all the issues going on at the time. 


I suppose first and foremost, we have to help ourselves. 


Secondly, there needs to be a core understanding from the beginning of what is really doable and what is simply fantasy fare. 


Third, if help is on the way–great, but it’s got to be timely enough and come with enough raw horsepower to make a genuine difference. 


Finally, sometimes miracles do happen and everything works out great–the day is saved–but even then so much underlying damage has been done that you need to rebuild from the core foundations again. 


And for the next time, you’ll need to ensure capabilities beyond what was ever imagined before. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)