How Are These Unlivable “Living Conditions” Allowed To Persist?

Continued to be appalled at the unlivable “living conditions” of the homeless in the Capital. 


Makeshift tents line up and down under the train tracks to Union Station. 


Spikes overhead make this an extra frightening looking arrangement. 


People walking by and to/from work–after a while, is there a mixture of acceptance and indifference?


It’s freezing outside and this is NO WAY for any human being to have to live. 


Can we put partisan politics aside for any period of time to deal with the very harsh problems facing real people?  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

Righting Wrongs To Sephardim

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Righting Wrongs To Sephardim.”

The initial waves of Aliyah beginning in 1882 were driven by the persecution and pogroms, and later the Holocaust, in Europe. Thus, Israeli society initially built up their institutions and power centers around these Ashkenazi pioneers. Immediately after 1948, when Sephardic refugees were expelled from the Arab countries en masse, Israel was overwhelmed with as immigration influx that virtually doubled the Jewish population in Israel in the first three years of its existence. Unfortunately, the newly arrived Sephardim were relegated to a substandard housing and economic situation, which then persisted for many decades.

In Jewish society, however, there is no room for ethnic discrimination and inequality, and the formation of a Sephardic political party in 1984 was a crucial milestone in Jewish social and economic justice. For almost 30 years, Shas was led by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former Israel Chief Sephardic Rabbi and spiritual leader, and Shas has remained one of Israel’s top political parties.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Meeting The Honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Remembering Amos Oz.”


Wow, this was so awesome today–I got to shake hands with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 


We went to the memorial today for famous Israeli author, Amos Oz. 

I love Oz’s literary works–he is a genius–even as I find myself disagreeing with some of his ideology: Yes, I agree with his humanism and the need to have peace with the Palestinians, but also I am steadfast that Israel must remain strong in the face of the numerous threats it faces, especially after the terrible lessons of the Holocaust. However, as much as I came to honor Oz, I felt is was a dishonor to him that the memorial was in great part turned into a political discourse for leftists (even as it was stated that Oz himself separated his pens for literature and politics).

I am convinced that in the end, it will be the moderates, and not the proliferating extremists (left or right) that bring peace, security, and justice to Israel and the Palestinians. 


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Crumbs Are For The Birds, Not The Workers

Since the days of slavery, workers have had very little in terms of rights or protections. 


The rich and powerful capitalist employers hold all the cards.


Like this poster says:

“Which Shall It Be?
Duke: ‘If you demand your rights, no more crumbs from my table.’
Working Man: ‘Give me my rights and keep your crumbs.'”

The capitalist owners enjoy being able to give “trickle-down economics” to the average working man. 


Basically, it’s just crumbs from the rich man’s table. 


And if you don’t like it, and you want rights, protections, and more…tough luck, and no more crumbs for you!


But the little guy who breaks his back to earn his daily bread, wants his dignity and respect more than the crumbs from the “capitalist pig” taking advantage of him.


Trickle-down is bullshit!


Crumbs aren’t going to raise the standard of living for the working class. 


We need living wages, social and income equality, and workers rights and protections to keep the little guy from being bulldozed by the rich and powerful. 


Certainly, there are many rich and powerful people that are good and generous, but not everyone is that that way. 


And we can’t have mistreatment of people by those wielding a whip over them.


Yes, workers need to perform and conduct themselves professionally–that is their job.


But workers shouldn’t be taken advantage of with poor wages, little to no benefits, and miserable working conditions (including bullying, harassment, and hostile work environments). 


Remember that in life tables can get turned and the rich and powerful can become the poor and the weak.  


Therefore, pay and treat your workers as you would want to be paid and treated. 


No one is so big as to be untouchable by G-d. 


Money and power will not save anyone from illness, accidents, disasters, and misfortune.


The only thing that does save people is good deeds, kind words, compassion, faith, and prayer. 


Crumbs are for the birds, dignity and respect are for the people!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sexual Acting Out

There is now a seemingly endless slate of sexual harassment allegations against some of the biggest shots from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. 


From the longest-serving Congressmen to the biggest star of morning television news, it seems that no one is sacrosanct.


Is it just that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?


Or maybe it’s more broadly to be stated, as the Rabbi noted on Shabbat, that: 

“G-d created man perfectly imperfect!”

Men and women are created with sexual urges to procreate, bond emotionally and physically, and enjoy each other. 


Men tend to be the stronger than women and are able to have children into old age, and perhaps, it can be said, have the bigger “urge to merge.


Sure, there are women who are normally sexually active, and also those who are perhaps hypersexual (nympomaniac, “cougars,” etc.) and who commit sexual abuse too.


In fact, it was interesting that Wikipedia actually breaks rape down into 4 gender on gender categories:


– Rape of females by males

– Rape of females by females

– Rape of males by females

– Rape of males by males


Issues with physical intimacy and sexual harassment and violence span both sexes, however, it is also clear that:

“Rape affects women disproportionately, with the majority of people convicted being men.”


In the U.S., the statistics show gross levels of sexual violence to women:


– 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime (vs 1 in 71 men).


– 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female.


Also, particularly disturbing is the number of girls and boys targeted:


– 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 18. 


What type of society have we created, where women and children are not generally safe?


It’s interesting to me in Judaism that there is a recognition of sexual impulse, and that some Hasidim actually wear a “gartel” belt when praying to physically and spiritually separate the upper half of the body with the head and heart, from the lower half with the more animal instincts.


In short, the head and heart need to control the animal part of people. 


Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be happening in so many cases. 


Stunned from the outpouring of sexual allegations nearly everyday now, I said to my wife: 

“What is wrong with these people? They have it all: position, power, and wealth; and yet, they throw it all away –including their integrity and reputations–for a five minute lay in the hay!”


Is the animal instinct too strong for the person to control? That just isn’t going to cut it.


As a functioning society, it’s got be completely unacceptable for people to act out sexually or otherwise violently hurt their neighbors. 


It’s time for social reform and for the animals to be controlled by the people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)