Bored Meetings

So it’s been raining so much here in the DC area lately.


The result is that the hot Summer July temperatures are down in the cool 70’s and the rain is flooding everywhere. 


When I got in the elevator this morning, someone goes to me:


“Did you see the leak in the hallway?  They are watering the tree with it.”


And sure enough, there it was!


When all this rain finally stops, there is going to be a lot of cleanup and repairs to do. 


The other thing was yesterday, we were on the way to a board meeting in our synagogue. 


In the elevator, are two other people–a man and women–carrying binders.


They say to us:


“Are you going to the board meeting?”


Surprised, because I didn’t recognize them from our synagogue, I respond affirmatively and ask to clarify:


“Oh, you’re going to the board meeting too?  I don’t recall seeing you there before.”


Then the elevator stops and they start to get off–but it’s to a different board meeting for the building.


When they see that we’re going to a different floor, they start laughing:


“I guess we’re going to different board meetings!”


I say:


“Yeah that’s right, different board meetings, but we’ll all probably be bored!


Another laugh by everyone, and we we’re all off to the races. 😉


(Source Photo:  Andy Blumenthal)

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Know Before Whom You Are Standing

So many synagogues have this important saying at the top of the Holy Ark where the Torahs are kept in front of the shul.


It says, translated into English:


“Know before who you are standing (i.e. G-d).”


The idea is to remember when you are in the holy place of worship that you are standing and praying before G-d and should conduct yourself appropriately and with respect and reverence. 


While certainly there are times when people forget themselves in the synagogue and say or do something not completely appropriate (e.g. socializing, talking, or even telling jokes to their neighbors during the service), usually it is not intended to be disrespectful, but rather to be friendly with their neighbors and community. 


However, this past Shabbat I witnessed behavior in the synagogue (name withheld)  that was truly a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d). 


Out of respect for the Rabbi (and Rabbabite), I will neither mention their names or go into the details about what happened except to say that it involved the politics surrounding the end of the Rabbi’s 3-year term and the inability for him and the board to come to terms on a new agreement (even though one had  apparently been signed and reneged on). 


This did not belong in the synagogue on the holy Shabbat, period. 


Those embracing and kissing the Rabbi in his support and going against the President and the board that is elected to represent the congregation was disgraceful. 


Further, while I support the Rabbi saying his farewells, demanding to speak without the permission of the President and the board, and even before the President gave his regular announcements was inexcusable. 


And when the fighting between the Rabbi and President brought yelling and fighting to the congregants, this should have been a sign for that behavior to immediately cease. 


The desecration of the “peace” of the Shabbat with the politics, money, and contract issues and the ensuing fighting (almost civil war between those supporting the Rabbi and those the President and the board) before the Holy Ark filled with the Torahs was reprehensible. 


For the spiritual leadership to behave in such a crude and disrespectful fashion was a mark of utter disgrace in the synagogue before G-d. 


I have never seen anything like this before and hope never to have to witness anything so irreverent again. 


This was a most traumatic event for the community and I hope we will recover in time and have a complete healing. 


Moreover, I pray that G-d forgives the behavior that happened and has mercy on this congregation because things got out of control and I think they forgot before whom they were standing.  😉


(Source Photo and not of the synagogue under discussion: Andy Blumenthal)

Shabbat Risk

I haven’t played Risk in years. 


But my daughter and her husband came for Shabbat, and we sat down and had a great game. 


We distributed the countries. 


Placed our enemies. 


And went to battle, army to army. 


By the time it was over, my daughter had conquered Europe, Africa, and North and South Americas.


It was so good to see her taking country after country from my son-in-law and me. 


My son-in-law joked that he had underestimated her. 


We had a good laugh and nice time just sitting down at the kitchen table and playing a board game. 


Afterward, we went down to the pool and relaxed in the deck chairs and then my wife and I took off our shoes and walked in the grass in the garden. 


I laid down on the beautiful green lawn and looked up watching some planes jet over in the clear blue sky. 


It was absolutely beautiful weather and a marvelous day today with my family. 


In the morning we went to Synagogue and the sit-down kiddush with our friends.


I am grateful to G-d for all this and for the peace of the wonderful Shabbat! 


Also, what more can a man ask for Father’s Day. 😉

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)

Among All The Apples

This was an interesting photo moment at Whole Foods–this Valentine’s Day huggy bear sitting among all the apples. 


Sort of how I felt after synagogue today and at other times. 


I’ve learned the importance as my father had so often tried to teach me of going to synagogue.


Yes, the prayer and service to Hashem.


But also the community. 


We all need people. 


None of us is an island. 


At synagogue, aside from the opportunity to speak and be close with G-d, I appreciate the hearty calls of “Shabbat Shalom,” the embracing handshakes, hugs and occasional kisses, the chance to see and kiss the holy Torah, and being among friends.


Like the apples, we’re all sort of the same, yet unique, and we stand together. 


As apples, we all have our glowing and shiny outsides, a sweet inner core, and also plenty of juicy meat. 


People too put on their best clothes, shoes, and do themselves to look their best going to synagogue, and inside they are there to express their goodness with G-d and the community.


Also though, you hear plenty of the heartbreaking stories about what is happening to them as families and individuals. 


Sure, there are the lovely smachot (happy occasions) in their and our lives to celebrate, but there is also plenty of adversity and challenges faced daily. 


One member passed away this week, another is getting cancer treatments, and someone got hit by a car crossing the street and is in the hospital with literally 79 screws holding their ribs together!


Then there are those out looking for work, others suffering from bad marriages or getting divorced, someone with a sick child that needs lifelong care, and someone who even got robbed this week.


Yes, shiny on the outside and with the sweetness of souls and hearts, and yet everyone has their baskets of challenges to deal with. 


For someone like me, I literally feel it inside for people–it’s like I can almost imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes. 


Obviously, I can’t–no one really can–but I imagine myself and ask myself OMG what in the world would I do–and of course, I have no real idea. 


Synagogue is I guess the most perfect place to experience all this–since we are before G-d, asking for his blessings and mercy, and with others, we bond to who are all in the same boat paddling and trying to survive and live a full and meaningful life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Your Days Are Numbered

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How low do some people go? 


So far this year, there have been over 100 bomb threats to Jewish community centers, synagogues, and schools–threatening innocent men, women, and children. 


In just three months, from the election through February 7, there have been over 1,300 hate incidents targeting a variety of religious and ethnic groups since the election–this is a 650% increase over “normal.”


Thank G-d, nothing large-scale and serious has actually happened.


But hate is alive and well in the USA. 


Already, there’s been one arrest of a left-wing extremist. 


You can be sure that more will follow!


Those evil people with bias, prejudice, and hate in their hearts and violence on their minds will see justice done. 


It’s a matter of time…


Unanimously 100 Senators have called for swift action. 


We have some of the finest law enforcement in the entire world. 

And with every hateful act, you are leaving a most wonderful forensic trail of evidence that will lead them right back to you. 


It’s one thing for people to disagree politically, religiously, socially or otherwise but it’s another to be a racist and hater and seek to do bad.


You may be calling in bomb threats, but what’s ticking is the clock on you…the countdown has begun until you’re caught and then you’ll be counting the years and decades locked securely behind bars, wasting away, and doing your hard time and penance for the crimes you have done and the evil you espouse. 


With justice, may G-d hear it, see it, and let it be done. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nourishment For The Soul

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So the Rabbi , a Kabbalist of mystical Torah interpretation, told my wife to concentrate on 3 commandments.

1) Shabbat

2) Kosher

3) Going to Synagogue

Today, we had a little delay and almost didn’t make it to synagogue, but my wife said, “Remember what the Kabbalist said about going every week,” so we went even though we were a little late. 

We went to a conservative synagogue today called, B’nai Israel, in Rockville – it was our second time there. 

The services there are so orchestrated down to the tiniest of details…you could tell that a lot of thought, planning, and effort goes into every service. 

I was really impressed at how meticulous they were for example: 

– Explaining everything and even handing out the sources to their Shabbat speech

– Having everyone ready for their part of the service whether leading the prayers, reading the Torah, or making the blessings over the wine and bread (which was already on a cart on the bimah–alter)

– Including a women who read the weekly Torah portion, children who led some of the prayers, an elderly lady who spoke about upcoming events for the Seniors group, and they even sang Hanukah songs in everything from Ladino to Yiddish.  

At the end of the service, we spoke briefly to the Rabbi and thanked him for such a “perfect service,” and my wife commented how he had such a cool radio voice when he leads the congregation (and he really does..like JM (jewish music) in the AM).

After service, I told my wife how happy I was that we made it to synagogue, that is was like nourishment to my spirit and soul for the week.

We have to feed ourselves physically as well as intellectually, emotionally, socially, and of course spiritually.  

Like the fingers on our hand…we need them all to hold unto life itself. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)