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)

Bar Mitzvah Speech Page 3

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Bar Mitzvah Speech Page 3.”

I wondered to myself how come this bar mitzvah boy didn’t end his speech with the traditional thank you to: my loving mother and father, my dear grandparents, my annoying brothers and sisters, and all my terrific uncle and aunts who came from Israel, Europe, and Canada to be with me here on this special day? There was none of that, and I was puzzled — how can he not thank everyone who made this day possible?

This was a true lesson about always being prepared and resilient, because that is what true empowerment is all about. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Purim In Israel, Chabad Style

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Purim in Israel, Chabad Style.”

We had the privilege to be in Israel for Purim night. We are going down Ben Yehudah Street in Tel Aviv looking for a synagogue for Megillah reading. Out of nowhere comes this Rabbi in Purim costume dashing down the sidewalk on roller skates. He pulls up in front of me and asks me to join them at the Chabad shul (#770 of course). Who can say no when Chabad is not only so cool and inviting, but also always helping to keep our minds focused on doing another mitzvah and towards the ultimate coming of Mashiach.


Over and over, I find you just gotta love everything about Chabad–they understand faith, ritual, and people’s hearts and for that and their acceptance of all Jews, I truly appreciate them. 😉


(Source 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)

Appreciate The Good

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called “Seeing the Good in Life.”

After synagogue services today, we sat at the Kiddish with a lovely couple, and the lady took the opportunity to go around the table and ask each person: “What good thing happened to you this week?” I really appreciated the idea of focusing on the good and the miracles we live through every day rather than the bad things. It was interesting though that people seemed to have trouble saying something really positive from their week. In truth, they seemed more enveloped in the problems of the times rather than the opportunities that each day brings.

But truly, there are so many good things that we can appreciate each and every day, and that inspires faith and hope for many more good things to come. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Shooting at The Tree of Life

Please read my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Devastation at The Tree of Life Shooting.”

No, this is certainly not the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden–this murderous scene was certainly no Eden! On this Shabbat there is not life in that holy house of worship, but another familiar Jewish massacre from a gunman screaming, “All the Jews need to die!”

Let us be strong together and hope for the full redemption when peace and brotherhood will soon prevail. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Shabbat Shalom and Good Luck On The Jackpot

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called “Shabbat Shalom and Good luck on The Jackpot.”

So the Mega Millions jackpot is up to an astonishing $1.6B! This is the largest lottery in U.S. history. Instantly you become one of the richest people in the world. At the kiddush after shul today, it didn’t take long for the conversation to hit on the upcoming lottery drawing. 

Read about it–it was funny! 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

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. 😉