@Eastern State Penitentiary

Photos are from my tour of Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia. 

The prison cells were in these tomb thick concrete structures, freezing cold, and completely claustrophobic!

You have to stoop through a tiny doorway to get in and out. 

The cell with the car in it shows how small these prison cells were.  

There is a photo of a cell with a stinking toilet and also the one with a barbers chair. 

Then there is the picture of the fancy cell which is that of Al Capone’s (right after the regular disgusting cell). Pretty sure Capone had some real pull with the warden and guards, and I’m sure they were afraid to cross him.

There was even a synagogue in this frightful gothic-style prison with a light that says Shalom (peace).

One cell had art painted on the walls and had many of these dreamy-looking women in Island type spots so far away from the reality of these horrible prison conditions. 

It was also interesting the the prisoners inside these walls were I’m sure dying to get out, and yet the visitors to the prison were lined up at the ticket booth to get a glimpse inside. 

The whole experience was so full of juxtaposing contrasts. 

I feel like I learned a lot. Overall, a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here! 😉

(Credit Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

G-d Hears Your Prayers

My son-in-law reminded me of a beautiful Jewish saying about prayer:

Even if a sharp sword rests upon a person’s neck, he should not refrain from praying for mercy. 


One can still hope for mercy from the Almighty even at death’s door. 


This is truly beautiful and uplifting–we can approach G-d anytime, and as long as we are alive, there is always hope.


The saving from G-d is like “the blink of an eye.” 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Celebrating With Security

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Celebrating With Security.”

Take a look around you at the new security measures and people risking their lives for yours and your family. Take a moment to thank them. But also, recognize that the security isn’t there just for show, it’s there because the hatred and threats have tangibly increased along with the ever present means to carry them out. It is critical that we continue our vigilance and the strengthening of our security measures, because those that hate us for who we are and for our faith are not going away, and unfortunately, they may even continue to grow in numbers and resolve. However, none of us should live in fear and be forced to stay away from our religious institutions, our Torah study, and prayer, but rather to the contrary, we need to stand up strongly–in defiance and in faith!


While I don’t know what specific security measures we will see next Rosh Hashanah, I can say with almost absolute certainty that it will be more and not less and that you should definitely be taking notice.

(Image by Robert-Owen-Wahl from Pixabay)

What’s Your Fantasy Synagogue

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “What’s Your Fantasy Synagogue.”

We all go to synagogues that we like in some ways and don’t like in others, but have you ever thought about what your fantasy synagogue would be like if you could make one?Last Shabbat, we were invited for lunch by some wonderful friends who had been sports writers, and the topic of fantasy football came up, where people compete for coming up with the best team by picking their own players and forming their ideal team. I said, half jokingly, wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same thing with synagogues and pick the best aspects of each and make an ideal house of worship for ourselves where we could pray, learn, grow, and experience holiness and community. 

In the article, I detail “the best of the best” when it comes to synagogues and the ultimate ideal synagogue is of course, in the coming of the Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Temple. 


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Why Only Two, Daddy?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Why Only Two Daddy?”

The father goes on to explain that these are the commandments that G-d gave to the Jews (when they were redeemed from slavery in Egypt). He enumerates just two examples: keeping the Shabbat and honoring your mother and father. The son asks, ‘What are the other commandments?’ The father hesitates either not knowing any of the other commandments or simply unable to remember any more of them on the spot. And all of a sudden, the little boy starts wailing to his father: ‘Daddy, why do you know only two, why?’


Knowing the Torah and commandments is not only for ourselves to do what’s rights, but also to pass on the torch to the next generation. It’s not always easy to be good examples, but it’s the challenge we all face. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)