"Between Israel and Gaza, Ukraine, and the mounting horror that is ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), not to mention Afghanistan, the United States is currently involved, in one way or another, with four different wars. Not all are equally "hot", and we are currently "only" bombing in one of them, but a quiet time in foreign policy it is not! That made this week's opportunity to hear from two former Secretaries of State and one former Secretary of Defense, especially interesting..."
"Whatever you feel about the political biases of the media, the fact that the only news we see about Israelis and Palestinians, in the endless 24/7 news cycle, is of hate, violence, destruction and death makes it easy to despair about this seemingly insoluble conflict. Despair is not only the greatest sin but also a failure of human imagination. Yes, the vitriol and enmity that grows each day as people are traumatized by war is very real but it is not the only story.
For all the stories I have heard from my parents, I always knew much could never be spoken. Poetry was the way to bridge the chasm between that which could be spoken and that which could not. Learning the craft of poetry – the music of the line, the word choice and their connotation(s), the breath, line and stanza breaks, and so much more – allowed me to write about the maze of twists and turns that is the Holocaust....
"‘With almost 90 percent of Broward County's Jewish community not affiliated with a synagogue, Ramat Shalom in Plantation will open The Sam and Laura Hoffman Center for Jewish Life in September to provide spiritual direction and perform Jewish life cycle events for the growing number of Jews who have not made a synagogue a part of their lives..."
"In life, the most common friendships we form are with our peers - people who see the world as we do and who are in the same age bracket. This is understandable. We meet most people at school or work. But is there a certain limitation to surrounding ourselves with only those people that are very similar to us? As Albert Einstein said, ‘If you only talk to people like you, you'll never learn anything new...’"
"Words like truth and falsehood, honesty and lie, get tossed around with great ease and certainty. But what if it isn't as simple as that? What if something false is actually true? Think that's not possible? Think about placebos that work even though they "shouldn't". A recent study shows that believing that you have slept well, even if you have not, will improve your performance as if you had.
"What do you say when you look at your life? Is your glass half full or half empty? Your life, or at least your longevity, may depend on your answer. Recent studies bucking the trend toward "positive psychology" and the science of being happier, indicate that pessimism, not optimism, may contribute to living a longer life. Of course, the pessimists among us will doubt these findings and their promises, which ironically may make those promises more likely to come true!..."
"Last week over 30,000 TD Bank (Toronto Dominion) customers across Canada were surprised and delighted to receive $20 as a thank you for being regular customers. But a dozen or so customers received a much bigger surprise. These pre-selected folks received a special customer thanking experience at their local branch through the ATM's turned into Automated Thanking Machine (ATM). The gifts doled out were all personal and emotional homeruns... I honestly don't know what to feel about this. Is this a harmless gimmick, a cynical exploitation of vulnerable people, or a genuine expression of compassion and gratitude to regular customers who have many choices of where to bank?..."
"‘There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.’ So says the author of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) in a famous chapter that begins by telling us, “there is a time for every matter under heaven.” Yesterday was Tisha B’Av, a fast day which traditionally commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples in ancient Jerusalem and all subsequent tragedies to befall the Jewish people.
"Nazis, Nazis, Nazis," said Steve our 40 year-old, charismatic, Australian (by way of a half dozen countries) guide as we began a walking tour of Berlin, "that's all most people think when they come to Berlin." My family and I were in Berlin for a week - our first time in Germany - and Steve was so right. Berlin is young, hip, culturally rich, fun and edgy - and for the week we were there not fifteen minutes could go by without thinking Nazis, Third Reich, Holocaust. Memorials, museums, the guttural sound of achtung in announcements, any elderly person, and the Fette Fraktur black letter typeface all triggered anxious mixtures of incredulity, anger, horror - and guilt about having such a great time in such a fascinating city that was the seat of genocide. Most of the time these were passing feelings we masked and mitigated by macabre jokes about being detained, arrested, or deported..."