Roosters or Homelessness?

So I had to drive into downtown Washington D.C. 


Along the way, I saw this colorful artistic rooster. 


I appreciate this quick pick-me-up from this. 


Yet, all around the streets were homeless people. 


One was literally collapsed on a narrow island between the opposing lanes of traffic.


Some horrible-looking food, rags of clothes, and two bottles of liquor lay next to him and one of his arm hang almost into the moving traffic. 


This was just one of many that I saw in abject poverty and desperation. 


So I really feel conflicted looking at this colorful rooster. 


What good is it when the people are homeless, sick, and starving? 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Holiday SHOULD BE Giving To Children’s Hospital

Thought this was a pretty good display with the Three Bears for holiday donations for Children’s National Hospital. 


While it gets your attention (who sees three pink bears lite up on the street at night?), asking people with a small impersonal sign on the floor to remember to login and make the donation later isn’t very effective. 


People act on the spot, especially when it’s an emotional appeal for charity for sick children that need help.  


The children deserve for there to be a way for would be donors to actually give on the spot–where they can swipe or tap their credit card, write a check, or drop some money in for giving. 


Later, later, later…and unfortunately, it may never happen for the Children. 


Come on–it’s the new roaring 2020s–we can create some urgency and convenience and do better than this!  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fire Alarm, Now What?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called “Shabbat Menucha.” 

Friday night–the start of the Shabbat–oh, thank G-d we made it (and TGIF). Usually such a wonderful time to catch up on some extra sleep from the whole week of work. But last night it’s different…the fire alarm suddenly comes alive and the voice over the loud speaker tells everyone to exit the building immediately. It is 1:00 AM in the morning.

Carrying a head cold, medicated, and sleepless, this is what happened to me.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

People Literally Eating Garbage

Pirates.jpeg

So I saw another homeless person yesterday eating out of the garbage on the street. 


They had flipped open the top, reached in, pulled out a half-drunk cup of something awful looking, and in one shot, gulped it down. 


I was choking watching this–it was so upsetting that any human being has to live this way. 


Like so many of these poor folks living off the streets, their belly was sick and widely distended. 


And their pants were very worn, with holes, and wrapped ill-fittingly around their waist. 


They dragged a small suitcase behind them. 


When people say that things are bad in their life, perhaps we often don’t stop to think about how bad things can really get (bli ayin hara).


G-d should have mercy on his children and bless us not to know any loss, sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness or hunger.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Exercise It Dirty

Exercise

So these ladies and gents are exercising underground in the Metro tunnel. 


They have grabbed the banister underneath and are doing pullups. 


However, the tunnels are really ick!


Often a sheltering place for the unfortunate, homeless, and sick trying to get out with their belongings from the cold or rainy weather. 


And the smell of urine is not uncommon even with the CCTV cameras at either end, 


Nice to workout and toughen up, but this is more than a share of morning wash up or hand sanitizer can deal with. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

 

Don’t Know When I’ll See You Again

Ocean Window

So in synagogue today, the Rabbi introduced this very old man to the pulpit to say a few words. 


Apparently, he was one of the founders of the shule. 


This grey headed, stooped man walks slowly forward carrying a small oxygen tank with wires dangling in his jacket and to his nose. 


The man stands on the dais and says:


“I am 91-years old, and the doctor says  I have this, that, and the other thing, and I am terminal. 


It was very hard for me to get here today in my condition, but I wanted to speak with you all. 


I have lived a good life, but not an easy life. 


My life was a rollercoaster–at one time I had six cars and another time just one car, for the most part I had enough money, but never a lot of money. 


Now, I ask myself what is really important. 


When I have shortness of breath then nothing seems so important anymore–and it is the simple things that really count. 


My son called the other day to tell me that he is being given more responsibility at work–not just his teaching responsibilities anymore–and he won’t have time to call so often anymore. 


So while I’ve studied and explored all facets of thinking from Shintoism and Buddhism to communism and socialism, in the end, I realized that I have the Torah and am a just simple Jew from Fez. 


I wanted to be here with you today to ask you all for your forgiveness so that I can go on as I am very sick and am terminal.  


I don’t know when I will get to see you all again.” 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Birds Of A Feather

An open letter to the Board and members of the Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC) and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office:


In my May 30th blog, G-d is Good, (Some) People Not So, I wrote about the accused Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the RJC, the now known “Sauna Rabbi,” who the New York Times disclosed about having some unorthodox and usual practices of getting naked with children and young adults. 


Yesterday in the New York Times, I read the follow up to the story that Dr. Donald Liss, the Chairman of the Board, overruled the board who demanded that Rabbi Rosenblatt leave the synagogue, and now many of the board members are resigning over this travesty of justice and members are leaving the synagogue to start break-away prayer services. 


At the end of my last blog on this subject, I wrote: “One last thing I will say, there are others in that community that were involved.”


One of the others involved, guess who?


Yes, the Chairman of the Board who overruled the community and is protecting Rabbi Rosenblatt. 


I grew up in Riverdale from the age of 10 when my family moved from the upper west side of Manhattan. I attended SAR Academy, the local yeshiva.  My family had many lovely friends in this community and we attended the RJC where we were members for over 20 years.


Dr. Donald Liss significantly older than myself and my friends growing up frequently invited us to his house in Riverdale to “learn” Torah and for Shabbat meals, although the learning frequently turned into talk and banter and “wrestling.”  Dr. Liss, as a doctor of rehabilitative and sports medicine, claimed great interest in my physical fitness as a youth and my practice of martial arts. He started to run and workout with me and my best friend and this at times lead to more “wrestling” matches.


Later Dr. Liss provided me a Summer job in his and his brother’s practice at Englewood Hospital. Dr Liss was quite well off and took advantage of me that my family was less so and I needed a job. He provided me the opportunity to work out there in their “gym” during lunch and then when I would change in the locker room, he would invariably show up to talk with me. 


Other times, he invited me to go on vacation with his family to the Poconos to babysit his kids.  I remember one particular time, I went running on the trail there, and he came.  When we got back to the house we were staying in, he dropped all his clothes in the kitchen area in front of me and his wife and totally nude just started talking. 


Other times, when I would work out in my apartment in Riverdale with weights or stretching for karate, even during the day, Dr. Liss would show up. And he would also invite my friend and I to his home to lift weights and more “wrestling”.


As I got older and smarter, I realized Dr. Liss’s behavior was not normal, and his interest in my workout and my Torah learning did not seem innocent any longer. I stopped getting together and taking his phone calls. His calling, hang-ups, and messages increased.


I met Dr. Liss one last time to put an end to his harassment, and I confronted him that I thought despite his being married with kids and his professing of religion that he had abnormal tendencies, and I wanted him to stay away from me.  He pretended to be shocked at my allegations as a Jewish man who sat towards the front of the synagogue and was learned. 


When I moved to DC, the only contact I had from Dr. Liss was when he tried to friend me on Facebook, which I promptly cut him off. 


That Dr. Liss would now protect Rabbi Rosenblatt and overrule the wishes of the Riverdale Jewish Center is a Chillul Hashem and travesty of justice. 


Every word in this blog is true, and I hope it helps the community and the victims to get over this tragedy and desecration of G-d.  The good people who wish to grow up and pray without unwanted advances of some sick individuals hiding behind many veils of religion and family deserve their community back.