Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2018!

From my family to yours: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

May this holiday season plant the seeds of peace. May your journey lead you to love yourself and others. And may your year lead you to joy, health, and success!

And may God* bless you and your loved ones!

*or no God, or gods, or however you believe.

P.S. Please don’t just remember those less fortunate than you. Actions speak louder than words. Give love, give time, give food, give shelter, and give money to worthy causes.

Another Day, Another Mass Murder

Another day, another horrific mass murder. This time apparently in a predominantly white Baptist church just outside San Antonio, Texas.

So many questions, so much pain.

First, condolences to the victims’ families. Prayers for a speedy and full recovery for all who are injured. Peace to those traumatized by this attack.

Although, I heard something today on Fox News. Eric Shawn, while covering this senseless mayhem, said something on air around 4:15pm Eastern time that caught my attention. He said something along the lines of: Is this what America has come to, that we have to have a law allowing a conceal and carry person at every church to help protect those worshipping?

Now, I have tremendous respect for Mr. Shawn and enjoy when he is on air. But that statement is a perfect example of what is wrong with humanity, particularly in our country, even more in rural communities.

Mr. Shawn, for as long as I can remember, every Jewish congregation of more than 50 people has had to hire armed security. You know, your fellow Americans who are of the Jewish faith, not of the Christian faith. Some of whom you might even mistake for Christians, what with their blond hair, blue eyes, and all.

Every high holy day service my bag is searched like at the airport. Every Sabbath I nod to the guard who checks everyone entering. Every time I pick my son up from Hebrew school, they check my car to make sure I don’t have malicious intent upon entering the school grounds.

I am sad that my white Christian brothers and sisters are going to be initiated to this harsh reality. Notice that I didn’t say my black Christian brothers and sisters. They’ve seen their churches attacked for decades, if not centuries.

I remember as an early teenager attending Yom Kippur services on a sunny, chilly, fall day with my dad. He knew one of the off-duty officers protecting our synagogue and saying hello. This is the reality for Jews in America. And black people. And Muslims. And many more.

There is nothing more tragic than the realization that the world is not a safe place, even in your house of worship. There are people who mean harm. There are people with great evil in their hearts.

I am sorry for white Christian America that apparently you are not being spared.

What I do pray for is that we can come together for peace. That we will understand that we all have fears, some real some perceived.

Now more than ever, when our friend, neighbor, or stranger, expresses concern, we must listen first. We must reach out human-to-human. We must actually make an effort to understand.

I pray that love rules first. That we will no longer angrily dismiss another’s concern.

Maybe, just maybe, my white Christian friends will no longer ignore or downplay the real fears of their fellow Americans who happen to be Jewish, Muslim, black, brown, or any other “Other.”

Out of tragedy, the wonderful heart of humanity can step forth. I believe in the core values of all the great faiths, our country, and many who wish to lead.

Now is the time for us to connect our thoughts with those values, and turn our thoughts into words and action.

Today is the day we must acknowledge our sicknesses based on fear. Today we must connect with one other through love and not violence.

Ethan Explains Happiness 5/17/16

Do you see those happiness indexes on your social media feed? I explain what’s wrong with them and what you should focus on instead.

From the Quartz article “Denmark beats Switzerland to become the world’s happiest country“:

This isn’t the first time that Denmark appears at the top of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)’s list of happiest countries. 
The Nordic nation also ranked first in 2013, in the SDSN’s second-ever world happiness report, before falling to third place in the organization’s following report, published in 2015.

The SDSN measured average levels of happiness by looking at variables like GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social freedom, and absence of corruption. 
However, in this year’s report (pdf), the researchers looked something new: the SDSN has decided not just to look how happy people are, but also how that happiness may be unequally distributed across individuals. 
In other words, for the first time, the SDSN is looking at how inequality affects national levels of well-being. 

The researchers found that the happiest countries were also more equal—where the distribution of well-being was more even across a nation’s population. 
The group measured the distribution of happiness in this year’s report by analyzing responses to something called the Cantril ladder: Imagine a ladder with rungs numbered zero through 10, with 10 at the top representing the best possible life you can have. 
Where do you stand on the ladder at this time? This year’s report looks at the average ladder scores for more than 150 countries, averaged from roughly 1,000 survey responses collected across 150 countries in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Tune in to KGO 810 weekdays noon to 2pm Pacific Time AM 810 or online at www.kgoradio.com

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Rosh Hashanah L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu 5776

shutterstock_150274298_500 Rosh Hashanah
Traditional foods served during Rosh HaShanah

May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and literally means “head of the year.”

“We are Your people and You are our King.”

The shofar will sound in Israel as it has for thousands of years to announce the King and to begin the ten days of repentance culminating in Yom Kippur.

This is a day for feasting, for renewal, for celebration. May this new year bring blessings to you and your family. And may peace come to those with malicious intent.

To learn more about Rosh Hashanah, click HERE

The Jew Hatred Continues Unabated with Attack on Synagogue

Picture: Abir Sultan/EPA
Picture: Abir Sultan/EPA

Blame the victim resonates across the Arab and Muslim world as four rabbis were brutally murdered and six others wounded in a gruesome attack on an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Jerusalem, Israel, today.

The way Arab and Muslim leaders are responding to these reprehensible murders which were conducted by two members of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization which calls for the destruction of Israel and the Jews therein, is nearly as despicable as the acts themselves.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is quoted in the Daily Sabah, “We condemn the attacks on holy places. We had condemned Israel’s attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque as well. We are in a spiral right now, Israel’s reckless attitude towards Gaza continues, however there are no excuses for the synagogue attack either.” (bold added to text for emphasis)

Quite the diplomat of a foreign minister you have there Turkey. A valid, defensive war toward Gaza justifies the brutal murder of four religious leaders inside a house of worship far away from Gaza “with guns and cleavers” according to Newsweek.

From Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), President of the Palestinian Arabs, in Ma’an News Agency, “Consequently, today the presidency denounces the killing of worshipers at a place of worship in West Jerusalem. The presidency also denounces all violent acts no matter who their source is, and demands an end to the ongoing incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the provocative acts by Israeli settlers as well as incitement by some Israeli ministers.”(bold added to text for emphasis)

Abu Mazen blames the victim. No peace with the Palestinian Arabs can ever occur when everything is Israel’s fault and because the Jews exist anywhere near them, not as subservient citizens, like the Ottoman Empire, but in control of their own government, with their own institution and military.

This mentality exists for multiple reasons.

One, the Palestinian Arab leadership makes billions of dollars through their victim status, as can see when one drives through the West Bank as I did during the war this summer, or through the billions stolen from the people by Yasser Arafat.

Two, the orthodox Muslims take literally the Q’uran and Hadiths where it designates hatred of the Jews (and Christians and Zoroastrians for that matter) and therefore they must get rid of the Jews (example Quran 5:51, 9:29). Or this, which Hamas uses in its own charter, “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (the Boxthorn tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews. (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim)”.

Three, an endless breeding of hatred through indoctrination of children that violence toward Jews is a good thing. See the riots and attacks across Europe this summer with Jew Hatred rising to levels not seen since the 1930s, mostly committed by Arabs and Muslims living in Europe. You probably didn’t know about the latest attack on Saturday where a rabbi was stabbed in the throat in Antwerp, Belgium. Or the endless videos out of Middle Eastern countries documenting the teaching of hatred.

I grieve for the families of the victims: Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Rabbi Kalman Levine, and Rabbi Moshe Twersky. And it is time for those who believe in Universal Human Rights, as only Israel does in the Middle East, to condition any aid or support to the Arabs with official recognition of Israel as the Jewish state it is (with full protections as it does for all minorities, again unlike every other country in the Middle East) and the cessation of violence, calls to violence, and indoctrination of violence in children.

Peace can only happen when both sides desire it.

ADDENDUM 11/18/2014 9:30 PST – A druze police officer was also killed in the attack. A chilling quote I just came across: “Jewish worshipers lay dead in pools of blood, still wrapped in prayer shawls and phylacteries, with holy books strewn on the floor,” Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, who heads Zaka, an emergency response group led by Orthodox Jews, told Israel Radio. “Such sights I have never seen — they recall dark days.”

 

L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu 5775

shutterstock_150274298_500
Traditional foods served during Rosh HaShanah

May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and literally means “head of the year.”

Rabbi Benjamin Blech has an insightful article titled “Jews Don’t Say Happy New Year” on Rosh HaShanah. An excerpt quoting Kathleen Vohs, “”Happy people get joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others.” In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants.”

After a year in which Jew Hatred reared its vile, ugly head across Europe (synagogues firebombed in Germany and Belgium, Jews viciously attacked at a synagogue in France), and around the rest of the world surrounding Israel’s war with Gaza.

Let us all, Jews and Gentiles alike, pray for peace. Pray for people to value life more than death, pray for our children to be the future of goodness, pray for the hate-filled to become love-filled, pray for the angry to let it go, pray for the righteous to shine joyful light on the darkness that lurks and leaps, and pray for leaders to step forward.

In this New Year, may peace, prosperity, and joy find you and your family.

L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu 5774

shutterstock_150274298_500
Traditional foods served during Rosh HaShanah

May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.

Those words are the translation of the Hebrew in the title. Tonight, September 4th, 2013 at sunset begins the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShanah. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and literally means “head of the year.”

Rabbi Benjamin Blech has an insightful article titled “Jews Don’t Say Happy New Year” on Rosh HaShanah. An excerpt quoting Kathleen Vohs, “”Happy people get joy from receiving benefits from others while people leading meaningful lives get a lot of joy from giving to others.” In other words, meaning transcends the self while happiness is all about giving the self what it wants.”

Jews and gentiles alike the world over could use a little dose of selflessness to counteract our impulse for selfishness. May there be peace in this time of upheaval as the drumbeat of war works its way through capitals around the world.