Lag B’Omer Hillula @ Magen David

RabbiSamyRabbi Shimon nar YochaiRabbi Meir Bal HanessCandlesUs

Beautiful praying, learning Torah, fundraising, and evening celebration at Magen David Sephardic Synagogue.

Lag B’Omer 2016

Thank you to the Rabbi, Samy, and all our friends for a wonderful evening. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Eulogy For My Dear Father, Fred Blumenthal

Dad and me
Today, we are here to commemorate my father, Manfred Blumenthal–Meir Ben Shimon Halevi’s passing. My dad was my father, my guide, my role model for life—he meant everything to me, and my words alone cannot capture my feelings of love, devotion, and gratitude to him.



My father was a deeply religious man and he was a tzadik (truly righteous person), and his passing yesterday on the Jewish date of Asara B’Tevet (the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet) is a portrayal of his very belief system and of him as a servant of Hashem, always. 



On Asara B’Tevet, over 2,400 years ago, the Babylonian Emperor, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the holy city of Jerusalem leading months later to the breach of the city walls and then on Tisha B’Av to the destruction of the Jewish temple. 



The synagogue to my father was the surrogate for the Jewish temple, and he went everyday like a soldier, morning and night, to pray and serve G-d. In fact, some his most joyous moments, when I was a kid, was when we went together and I sat at his side in shule. 



To my dad, he loved Hashem, his family, and the community and was devoted to them in every way.  



Religiously, my dad not only went to synagogue to pray, but went regularly to multiple shiurim (Torah classes) during the week, served years ago on the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society), did Bichur Cholim (visiting the sick), gave charity all the time, and made a beautiful Jewish home with my mother, Gerda Blumenthal, for us first on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then in Riverdale, New York, and finally in Silver Spring MD.



My dad and mom loved Riverdale where we lived for over 20 years, yet when my wife and I and our children moved here to Silver Spring to make our home and work for the Federal government, my parents uprooted and moved here within the very same year to be with us.



No matter the hardship, my dad would do whatever it took. When he and his brother and sister (Sid and Ruth) and their parents (my Oma and Opa) fled the Nazi’s in Germany and made their way through Italy and England and ultimately to America, my father lost all his education, was interned on the Isle of man, and worked selling goods on the streets to help his family survive. 



The Holocaust deeply scarred my father, who was only a child when it happened, and interestingly enough these days, Asara B’Tevet is also the general Kaddish Day (memorial) for victims of the Holocaust, many of whose martyrdom is unknown. 



When interned, my father got very sick with a high fever for many days, and one day, the fever broke, and my father awoke and said to his family, “Today we are going to get our visas to America”–and that is exactly what happened.  



Miracles followed my father as well as his devotion to family…he worked for decades, as manager, in ladies handbags. Yet due to competition from overseas, the company finally closed, and my father was without a job, and my Bar Mitzvah was coming up. Even though out of work and not knowing when another job in that economy would present itself, My father believed and said, “Hashem will provide” and that we would still have the big event bringing me into my religious manhood as a Jew. It was a beautiful event and my father did get another job from a neighbor who sat right across the aisle from us in Shule who happened to have, a handbag manufacturing company.



I remember my dad working extra hard to put me and my sister Roz through Yeshiva, college, and even graduate school.  I remember him coming home from work and then going out again to work Bingo nights for the school to help them out. 



Despite tough economic times, my dad insisted that he pay for me to go to karate classes, which he knew I loved, and always put aside allowance money for me and my sister and then the grandchildren.  



For years my dad taught me to always do what was right, follow the Torah, and my conscience…he was the ultimate role model for me as a good, decent human being. 



When my mom was so sick with Parkinson’s disease, first at home and then at the Hebrew Home, my dad was again there like a soldier, all day long, every day, to sit with her and care for her with no thought at all to his personal needs or health. My mom passed away less than a year ago on January 13, 2014 (the 12th day of the Hebrew month of Sh’vat).



I remember so many wonderful times together from Shabbat meals and holidays, and celebrations like my wedding to my wife Dossy and Bat Mitzvah’s of our children, Minna and Rebecca and my niece’s, Yaffa. As well as challenging times, when one of us was sick in the hospital and my dad was there with me, again multiple times a day, to comfort me and help me—with no thought of himself. 



As a parent, I could go on and on about my dad, but he was also a good friend to so many of you in the community and he loved to talk with you, tell jokes, pray with you, have a meal with you, join with you at the shule dinner and so many other community events. 



Manfred Blumenthal, my dad, was a true servant of G-d and a loving father and grandfather who would and did do anything for us, including saving the life of my very wife, who had gotten ill a number of years ago.



Even though I would argue with my dad, I always knew he was right about things, and he would guide me no matter what.  



Now today, I stand here next to his casket…devastated at the loss.



I love you dad, we all love you and wish you peace, happiness, and countless blessings in the afterlife. You gave us everything and you deserve to be rewarded by the Almighty in heaven together with mom and your loving parents, Simon and Hilda Blumenthal.



I cannot say goodbye, just see you later where we can all stand together in heaven before Hashem!

People That We Meet Each Day

Faces
This piece of art sort of reminded me of the Sesame Street song “People In Your Neighborhood.”



So, who are the people in your neighborhood?

The people that you meet each day.



We meet and interact with all types of people…funny and nice to mean and scary. 



Sometimes, you can see it on their faces–or especially in their eyes–who they are and what are their intentions. 



Other times, looks can be grossly deceiving, and we really have no clue who or what we are dealing with–psychopath or good samaritan.



Lately, as I meet or pass people, I see them on two distinct levels:



One is the physcial body they are in…their outward manifestation…the shell or outer casing that houses “them.”



Two is the soul or G-dly spirit on the inside…the real them…the part that lived before and will live on even after the outside body is long gone. 



Our bodies are just housings for our souls…some people have physical disabilities, almost like a car that has broken parts over time…but what is inside perceives the greater reality and in a sense is both facilitated through and limited by our bodies–whether whole or broken. 



Sometimes, I feel like I am just looking right through the person and am really seeing their inner essence soul. 



Looks are just outside…inside is the real people we meet each day. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Who Do You Want To Be?

Who Do You Want To Be?

Walking through the halls of one of the local schools, there was this awesome display of cutout hands.

Each hand, done by a student, was supposed to represent who they wanted to be as people.

In the center of each was a core saying/belief of the student written on the palm.

And then on each of the five fingers was their personal aspirations:

Emotionally
Physically
Socially
Intellectually
Spiritually

I thought this was a really cool assignment to think and focus on where we’re going with our lives and what our personal goals are.

Like a mini-personal architecture, these hands are the hands of our young people who have their lives ahead of them and the energy and opportunity to shape their futures.

No, none of us has control over the future, but we can do our part to shape who we are as human beings, as this student says:

“I am who I want to be.”

Of course, we have to choose wisely, work hard, and go for it!

We never know if there are any true second chances. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Great Afterlife

The Great Afterlife

I finished reading the bestseller Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander M.D. — and it was awesome.

Alexander, trained in rational, scientific thinking and a practicing neurosurgeon was not a believer of consciousness (i.e. the soul) outside of the functioning of the brain itself until he ended up for 7 days in a coma himself.

His near death experience (NDE) was not only unbelievably vivid, but also, as he reiterates again and again, absolutely real (“more real that the house I sat in, more real than the logs burning in the fireplace”)!

The key beautiful messages that I came away with:

What is the relationship between G-d and man?
– G-d loves us, unconditionally.

– Our physical bodies and brains, with limited sensory organs, are filters that give us a kind of “amnesia” of the Divine.

– Our personality, soul, spirit “continue to exist beyond the body”and is a “direct extension of the Divine.”

What is the meaning of life (i.e. why are we here)?
– The universe is purposeful, and it “bring[s] beings into existence and allows them to participate in the glory of G-d.”

– Evil exists in this world only to provide us the free will for growth to the Divine and ultimately for our ascendance in other dimensions.

– There is “no need to fear the earthly world” and thus no need to be concerned or build ourselves up with “fame or wealth or conquest.”

– To return to the spiritual realm, “we must once again become like that realm” by showing love and compassion for others.

– “Other family” (i.e. angels) are “watching and looking out for us” and helping us navigate our time here on earth.”

– “Our struggles and suffering” are eclipsed by the larger eternal beings we are.

What is the future world like?
– Injustice in this world is eclipsed by the “beauty and brilliance of what awaits us.”

– The visible, physical world is but a “speck of dust” compared to the invisible, spiritual world that is “awash” in goodness, hope, and abundance.

– Time doesn’t function the same in the spiritual world, “a moment can seem like a lifetime, and one or several lifetimes can seem like a moment.”

– Our understanding of space is false; the “vastly grandeur universe isn’t far away physically, but simply exists on a different frequency.”

– We are not only part of the fabric of the universe, but also are “completely unified”with it, and are “intricately and irremovably connected” with “no real differentiation between ‘me’ and the world.”

Having recently lost my mother, I found great solace in this book and its timeless message of purpose in our worldly lives, hope through a brighter future in the next world, and the immortality of our souls with our loving Father In Heaven.

Thank you Dr. Alexander for sharing your experiences and these eternal truths with us. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to mayakamina)

Six Dimensions Of Personal Health

Six Dimensions of Personal Health

There was a wonderful interview in the Washington Post with leadership expert, Bob Rosen.

One of the things that Rosen says is that there are six dimensions of personal and professional health that are vital to leadership.

I have taken these and created with my own photos, a little graphic to remind me of them.

The six dimensions (with my definitions) are:

  1. Spiritual – Serving G-d and doing what is right.
  2. Emotional – Your feelings and ability to manage your state of mind, especially in trying situations.
  3. Social – Interacting with other people in loving, caring, and sharing ways.
  4. Physical – Taking care of your body through good nutrition, exercise, and healthcare.
  5. Professional – Working and contributing to the world by serving a purposeful mission.
  6. Intellectual – Learning and growing mentally by gaining knowledge and the ability to apply it.

I like how each of these is a a distinct contributing element of one’s overall health, but also come together to form a coherent whole of human health.

When all six dimensions are in good health, then a person has the foundations to live and excel.

However, when one or more elements are not being properly taken care of or are out of balance with the others, then a person will not have the ability to maintain or advance themselves.

Self-awareness and a commitment to doing your best in all six areas will help you grow as a person and leader.

Together, these six areas can be associated with one’s own personal architecture, whereby one plans and strives for health and maturity in each of them over time.

(Source Graphic and Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Divine Light and The Soul Of Man

Divine Light and The Soul Of Man

I took this picture today in the nursing home.

It hangs over the memorial of names for people that have passed.

The saying as translated here from Proverbs is: “The Divine light illuminates the soul of man.”

But the meaning of the hebrew words themselves are more like: The light of G-d is the soul of man.

What is a person’s soul?

– Their consciousness.

– The knowledge of right and wrong.

– The part of us that yearns to learn, grow, and be better.

– The part of a human being which is eternal

– The part of a person that can be reunited with loved ones in the afterlife.

– The part of a person that can be resurrected (to try again).

– The spiritual, inner, real you!

G-d breathed into man life.

The physical body is the shell, the exoskeleton, and the vehicle that houses our soul.

The soul is the part of us that drives the vehicle, that makes decisions–good or bad, that navigates the world, and that expresses emotion from the depths of our inner being.

Our soul loves, cares for, empathizes and has mercy on others or it can be angry, jealous, hateful, and cruel–these are expressed through our bodily actions.

G-d’s light is powerful indeed–and inside each and every one of us–it powers us to do good or bad, depending on how we take care of the gift.

Do we let ourselves run rampart driven by carnal wants and desires or do we elevate these impulses and use these to serve our master through good deeds and selflessness?

The divine light illuminates who we are and can be.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)