Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

   Today is Memorial Day for all the soldiers who gave their lives for the United States. May they rest in peace. Today would have been my brother's birthday so for me its a different kind of memorial day and somewhat ironic. Its been six months since my youngest brother passed away. I still miss him very much, but the reality has more than set in. Life has moved on. I feel like taking time out to remember him helps keep him alive.
     My youngest brother was a creative person. He had eclectic taste and would have made a wonderful dad or uncle. He was fun to be around and had great life hacks. I always think of him when I travel because he was the king of packing light. He lived a short  but good life and he tried to live life to its fullest which is all anyone can do. No one really knows how long one has but we have more control over our attitude and how we try to spend our lives.
     My youngest brother was a ray of sunshine on this earth. Ray was his middle name and I think that its quite appropriate because he was a ray of sunshine when he was alive and his memory brings a ray of sunshine to those who knew and loved him. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro

     I have read all of Dani Shapiro's books and though  I loved them all, I think that this last one was my favorite.
     Dani Shapiro grew up modern orthodox in New Jersey . She  went off the derech  and wrote a lot about her life and finding her life in general. She is not shomer shabbat now but she has found where she is comfortable in Judaism and is proud of where she comes from. 
   Shapiro's latest book is about finding out via a genealogy test that her father was not her biological father and that she was born as a result of a sperm donor because her parents were having fertility issues. This book is about that journey. The journey of finding out who her biological father was and reconciling why her parents had never told her the truth about her conception while  both of her parents have been deceased for many years.
          Shapiro had already written so many memoirs that it was almost fitting that such a story should be hers.  In every book she recounts how people often thought she wasn't really Jewish and now she knows its because the  donor was not Jewish. 
    What is so interesting to me is how this seems like the most Jewish book she has written even as she finds out that her biological father was not. Shapiro never really says that she ever struggled with her Jewish identity , only about how she wanted to express it.
      Ironically she could have lived her whole life not knowing the truth. Fortunate for here the way she found out this news was by chance and not because of a medical issue.
      The book makes it seem like though she is quite cemented in her Jewishness that this revelation made her think a little about it. I went to a book event for Inheritance where she mentioned how someone asked her at another venue if she was now going to explore her Christian heritage to which she emphatically said NO. Judaism is her only identity. It is so rooted in her. She even thinks in Hebrew. This of course was the response I wanted to hear but the book for theatrics did not as clearly portray.
       I really should not have doubted Shapiro. The father who raised her was the parent she was closest to. She would not be on this earth in the way she was conceived had her parents not wanted her to exist. Her family made her feel a part of them and ironically her mother who was the less Jewishly affiliated made Shapiro Jewish without question.
        This book is so beautifully written. . As much as she explores her relationship to her biological father she really is writing a love letter to her father who raised her .


Monday, May 6, 2019

Acts of Kindness

     I have a subscription to Woman;s Day magazine and they have a column named The Kindness Project which celebrates and encourages kindness in the world. I have to admit that this was one of the reasons I subscribed to the magazine. The world seems to be experiencing such darkness lately that the focus on kindness seems like  a beacon of hope .
      In the spirit of the kindness project and to tip the scales of the world toward a kinder , gentler place I will recount an act of kindness that I witnessed on the Q train in NYC this week.
     One day this week after the Q train left the Dekalb Avenue station the woman sitting across from me threw up and almost fainted. One women asked if there was a doctor or nurse on the train of which there were not. Many people offered the sick woman a plastic bag for her to throw up in , others gave her water and Kleenex. When we finally got to Canal Street someone got out of the subway car and told the conductor about the sick passenger. This is not anomaly . This happens whenever someone is sick on the subway. Even hardened New Yorkers step up when necessary. Not always, but often enough to give me hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Chabad Of Poway

     On the last day of Pesach a great tragedy occurred . The Chabad of Poway  which is in San Diego, California was attacked by  an anti-semitic gunman. One woman was murdered and three others were injured. The woman who was murdered specifically went to shul that day to say yizkor for her dearly departed mother. Lori Gilbert- Kaye's  body blocked the killer from mudering the rabbi.
      Meanwhile in the shul there was an military veteran who ran after the murderer and scared him so  he ran out. By miracle the shooter's gun jammed which also prevented him from continuing . Another congregant was an off duty border patrol agent who ran out and shot at the shooter's getaway car. No one should have died that day, but it is miraculous that the  gun jammed.
         After Yom Tov Rabbi Goldstein recounted  with tears what happened at his shul and eulogized his slain friend and congregant. It was such a kiddush Hashem. Chabad of Poway posted Lori Kaye's picture and celebrated her life. The biggest tragedy is that Lori Kaye was such a lovely neshamah and most of us may never have heard of her greatness had such tragedy never happened. We must celebrate inspirational people every day .
         Via facebook I watched some of the funeral at the shul as well as at the cemetery. Truly heartbreaking. Then again , truly amazing that the world is so small that on Facebook I could watch the funeral.
        The best of humanity was displayed in that shul this past shabbos as well as the worst of humanity. I wish it hadn't taken such a tragedy to be virtually introduced to some of the most wonderful people on earth.(The members and rabbi of the Chabad of Poway)
       The Chabad of Poway has some of the kindest and caring  members . May they never know any more pain . May all of Lori Gilbert-Kaye's friends and family be comforted . by the fact that we all miss her . May we never know any more sadness. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Celebrate Passover With 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Themed Maxwell House Sed...

   This year there is a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel themed Maxwell House haggadah that you can get on amazon when you order select maxwell house coffee for a limited time. Being a fan of Maisel I ordered some coffee to get my copy. I think that this is ingenious and outright marvelous. Who would think that such a kitschy  show would encourage people mostly Jews who are not necessarily orthodox to get a traditional haggadah? This is something aish hatorah and chabad have not even cooked up. This is more like a Jew in the City ploy, but amazon beat her to the punch. I think this is proof that mashiach is coming soon and surely our singing of next year in Jerusalem will prove to be true.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Manischewitz Almonetta Wine with Sammy Davis

  Apparently he did a wine commercial for Manischewitz wine as well

Sammy Davis, Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me Preview | American Masters | PBS

  I had the privilege of watching a screening of this documentary at the JCC Manhattan last week, The  producer Sam Pollard there for q &a at the end.
      I remember being fascinated by Sammy Davis Jr. as a kid. He was the first black Jew that I had ever heard of. I knew that he converted to Judaism as a result of a horrible accident and he was a funny performer on tv. I also remember fondly the mogen david wine commercial that he was in .
That's about it. When I got older I learned that he was part of the rat pact mostly because of the newly dubbed brat pack that was part of the 80's movies .
      I watched this documentary to learn more about this cultural icon. I learned that he grew up poor and was a performer since he was 3 years old.  He was a great mimic and he was  one of the first modern black performers. I also found out why he wanted to be Jewish.
      I think that one of the most profound parts of the movie is how he felt he was post - racial  and though he had a lot of tough times he persisted with the help of good friends. He was very close with Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin and Joey Bishop who were all there for him in good times and in bad.
     Once Davis was asked to perform on Yom Kippur by a Jewish director to which Davis refused stating it was Yom Kippur and he could not perform then. This of course shook up the Jewish producer. Often those who adopt a religion uphold it more steadfastly than those who were born in to it. I know that his conversion was probably not orthodox, but the lesson is just as strong.
     This documentary will be on American Masters on February 19 on PBS. It is uplifting and informative. Definitely two thumbs up.