Overcoming The Inquisitor

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Overcoming The Inquisitor.”

While anti-Semitism and persecution for being Jews is horrible and should never happen, in a sort of obscene and ironic way, it ends up making us stronger as Jews. In short, testing our faith, ends up solidifying our faith!

No one likes adversity, suffering, or persecution, and G-d only knows that we as Jews have known our deeply painful share. Yet whether from Egyptian slavery to the Inquisition, the Holocaust, and more, it’s our test as Jews to survive, and to learn and grow from it our faith in Hashem.

Yes, these things are far easier said than done, but when we face these terrible events, we must try with all our might to overcome them, heroically and faithfully.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Finding Our Religion

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Finding Our Religion.”

The contrast between me being Jewish and the environment that was as broad as the United Nations (actually only a few blocks away), helped me to find myself and to build my personal Jewish identity. So, I think that for those Jews that are afraid for their children to leave the confines of the home, their “shtetl” neighborhood, and the local yeshiva, because they are afraid of the “foreign” (goyish) influences, I think that while that may be right for some Jews possibly, it is definitely not right for all of us.

In a sense, the redemption of the Jewish people and exodus was so much greater a miracle by Moshe becoming this great Jewish leader from within the fires of the Egyptian paganism at the time. Moshe’s rejectionism of Egyptian power and culture used for evil to enslave and hurt others was a powerful choice of good over evil and a message to Pharaoh and his household that despite all his wealth, strength, and influence, that Pharaoh and Egypt would fall before the hand of the true, Almighty G-d of Israel. Similarly, I think the message for us is that the final redemption for us and the world will come initially from “galut” (outside of Israel) from the cauldron of “Edom” (the Roman Empire and Western civilization) and all the materialist and pleasurable freedoms and allures thereof.
(Credit Painting: Dossy Blumenthal)

When Hypocrisy Leads To Abuse

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “When Hypocrisy Leads to Abuse.”

As many of you, I have been following the news about sexual abuse allegations against Rabbi Chaim Walder and have been horrified and disgusted that this renowned ultra-orthodox Children’s book author and therapist is now accused of abusing the same. Like community Rabbis (e.g. Rabbi Barry Freundel) or Jewish educators (e.g. Stanley Rosenfeld), this phenomenon of using a privileged position to take advantage of women and children is certainly, by this time, not new and remains a stain on the Jewish community, no different than that of the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts for the abuse by its priest and leaders on those that trusted them and the religious values and ideals they represent.

Truly, these horrible acts of hurting, abusing, and scarring for life women and children (including boys) are regrettably alal around us, whether with domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. But fortunately now they are at least “out of the closet” where rather than have the community deny the possibility that such evil exists or even circle the wagons to wholly protect the perpetrators (before fully investigating the facts), we now have greater recognition and are working towards accountability of these wrongs, and hopefully, far greater protection for people in the future.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

“Rock and Roll” With Chabad

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Rock and Roll With Chabad.”

People are often blocked from moving forward by uncertainty, indecision, insecurity, self-doubt, hesitancy, worry, and fear, yet one man, such as Jacob, can stand up and move that big rock off the well if he just sets his mind to it and tries!

The bottom line is that when people say it can’t be done or to wait because it will take an entire village of shepherds to simply move the rock from the well, instead we can see that even one determined person can “rock and roll,” make a difference, and start to make something special and meaningful happen.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Jewish Unity Is Strength

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Jewish Unity Is Strength.”

It didn’t matter what race or nationality the person who had been hit by the car was, she was a human being in pain and who needed the help of others. We Jews need to remember that this is life in a nutshell. Life can change in split instance for better or G-d forbid, for worse. We need one another. No man is an island. We can’t afford to play holier than thou with anyone else. Only G-d can judge who is really “religious” and who is wanting.

It brought to my mind the irony that with the Jewish people, we are a small minority in the world, and yet we often disagree, fight, and can be intolerant and neglectful of one another despite facing anti-Semitism and other crises. This is far from the ideal of demonstrating love and acceptance, unifying ourselves together, and becoming as strong and effective as a “light unto nations” that we could and should be.

We can have our personal and communal ideals and standards, but at the same time have empathy for the journey that people are on. Therefore, we should strive to treat each other with kindness and tolerance and put aside the lofty and phony airs of personal judgement and exclusivity. Because in the end, no one knows who is laying next on the street waiting for that ambulance to come.

(Credit Painting: Dannielle Blumenthal)

True Meaning of Torah Observant

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “True Meaning of Torah Observant.”The key is that everyone (Jew and Gentile) has an opportunity to do good or the opposite. We are all G-d’s children, and He loves all of us, and wants us all to learn and grow as human beings with the spirit of G-d breathed into us (Genesis 2:7). The Jews have a special mission to try and live by following the commandments in the Torah, as a good example to others. This is similar to the Kohanim and Leviim who had a special role within the Jewish people as the Temple priests and as the musicians and singers that accompanied them. No one is inherently better than anyone else. We all just have our roles, and we a need to do them the best we can or learn to be better as we go along. Like we start the cycle of reading the Torah again with every Simchat Torah, so too the New Year is an opportunity to “up our game” and another chance to raise the “standard of living” according to G-d’s will.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Israel and Our Forefathers

Wow, a friend sent this to me from FaceBook.

It shows that the Hebrew word for Israel is actually made up of the first letters of all the names of our forefathers and mothers:

Isaac – יצחק

Jacob – יעקב

Sarah – שרה

Rebecca – רבקה

Rachel – רחל

Abraham – אברהם

Leah – לאה

Like the Bible says, we are truly the “children of Israel” (ישראל)!  😉

(Credit Photo: RavDror via Facebook)

Coexistence Means Everyone

I really liked this car’s bumper sticker:

Coexist

C – C in shape of Crescent Moon and Star represents Islam

O – O with Peace sign and designed for nuclear disarmament

E – E with Male and Female symbols represents Sexual Equality

X – X designated by Star of David represents Judaism

I – I with Five Pointed Star at top represents Pagans and Wicans

S – S with Ying and Yang represents Taoists

T – T in shape of Cross represents Christianity.

Now how do we get people to actually live this way: respecting each other and living harmoniously together?  😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Remember To Always Be Kind

Nice sign on the electrical pole, reminding us to always:

Be 💗 Kind

What kind?

The kind that has compassion on others, cares and love them, and does what’s right. 

That’s really the only kind worth being! 😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Tefillin and Talit Bag

This is my new Tefillin and Talit bag for daily morning prayers. 

It even has a beautiful siddur (prayer book) inside and my Hebrew name on the outside. 

I just wanted to thank my wonderful family for this and especially, my son-in-law, Itzchak for ordering this for me from Israel. 

I love it, and thank you guys so much! 

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)