It is without a doubt that the corona-virus has changed everything about the way we live our lives.
That includes religious practice.
Wednesday and Thursday were the first and second nights of Passover, respectively. For many Jews, a normal Passover Seder consists of a large group of family and friends coming together to eat, drink and tell the story of Passover. But, with the influence of corona-virus, the traditional Seder had to be amended.
My family, many others, used Zoom to digitally get together with our loved ones.
I think the best perspective on this new way of conducting Seders can be best summed up by a statement my father made Wednesday night. He said that his father, my late grandfather (who died 30 years ago), would not at all have approved.
My grandfather (Z”l) was in a certain sense, a man of tradition. He believed in and lived by the Judaism that he loved. That love of Judaism and our traditions were passed to his children and later, his grandchildren. It is one of the reasons that I am still a Jew in every sense of the word and proud of my faith.
While my grandfather would not have approved of Wednesday and Thursday nights, I know that it was the right thing. Not being in the same room with our family and friends was weird. But if I had a choice of holding a Zoom Seder or having none at all, I would choose a Zoom Seder.
One of the hard truths of life is that we never know when our number will be up. If we are lucky, we will live to see old age. But not all of us are so lucky.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant was killed this morning in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna and seven other people.
I’m not a huge sports fan. The extend of my sports watching is going a Brooklyn Cyclones game every summer. But I respect hard work, talent, drive and the knowledge that one has to work for what you want from life.
Kobe Bryant was only 41. His daughter was only 13. Their loss, simply on the human level, is palpable and heartbreaking. My heart goes out to his wife, his surviving children, those who knew him best and the millions of basketball fans around the world.
New Year’s Eve is more than the end of the holidays or a reason to get together with loved ones. It is a time of reflection and contemplation.
As 2019 and the 2010’s come to a close, perspective comes into play.
When the decade started, I was in my late twenties. Ten years later, I am nearly forty. One of the things I now realize that my twenties were about molding my adult self. My thirties are about becoming that adult that was made in my twenties.
2019 has been a year of highs, lows, and growth in ways that are unexpected. Growth comes from change, learning and admitting to your mistakes. This year, a major change came from a change in employment. Looking for a job is never easy and learning a new job has its fair share of pitfalls. But, there is something to be said when you have weathered both experiences and have become a slightly better person/employee because of said experiences.
I also earned my second-degree black belt in Muy Thai Kickboxing. It took an incredible amount of work and effort, especially after a long day of work. Earning the belt and wearing it to class is merely a symbol of the effort it took. I look back at the effort I have put in over the years and I can see the results of the effort it took. If there is one thing in my life that I can say I am proud of accomplishing, it is having that belt to my name.
Old friends are like an old jacket. It immediately feels comfortable. But what happens when life steers you in a different direction?
In the 2002 film, The Banger Sisters, Suzette (Goldie Hawn) and Lavinia (Susan Sarandon) were once best friends and wild child rock and roll groupies. But life, like it, often does, changes things. Suzette still lives the rock and roll lifestyle. But Lavinia is no longer the groupie that she once was. She has morphed into a traditional suburban wife and mother.
When Suzette realizes that she is without a job, without money and without anyone to help her, she goes to visit Lavinia. Can these two old friends re-connect and or has life gotten in the way?
This film is cute. It’s not horrible, but it’s not Oscar-worthy either. However, it is lovely to see a film about two female characters that have nothing to do with men and are of a certain age.
Earlier this week, like millions of Jews around the world, I fasted and prayed that on Yom Kippur, I would be written in the book of life for the coming year.
Yom Kippur is not easy physically, spiritually or mentally. It requires a strength and a will to push through the hunger and the wish that sundown would finally come.
As I fasted this year and finally chowed down, I began think about how much I appreciate the small things, especially food. Most days, I don’t think about where my next meal is coming from. But when I cannot eat during the 25 hours of Yom Kippur, it makes appreciate the easy access for food that I take for granted.
I live in New York City. It’s not hard to find a homeless person begging for spare change. Normally, as bad as it sounds, I pass by a homeless person without a second thought. But this year’s fast made me think. I have much to be grateful for. It’s time to be grateful for what I have.
Our lives are busy ones. Work, school, family, etc can fill up the days before we know it. Sometimes we need a break to relax and appreciate the simple things.
Rosh Hashanah begins tomorrow at sunset and ends on Tuesday night. Jews around the world will gather together and pray for a sweet new year.
What I like about this holiday is that it gives time to stop and think. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes and have flaws. It is a time to reflect on those flaws and mistakes and how we can become a better person.
For me, this year is stopping, taking notice of the good things in my life and appreciating them. It is also time for a badly needed rest, which allows for taking stock of the blessings in life.
For those who celebrate, have a sweet and happy new year.
Sometimes it seems like everything and everyone is conspiring against us. Nothing goes right, no matter how hard we work and/or pray.
According to author and speaker Gabrielle Bernstein, nothing is as bad as it seems. You need only to trust the universe and have a little faith that things will work out.
Her most recent book, The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith, was published at the tail end of last year. In the book, she writes that it is possible to let go of fear and embrace life to the fullest. Guiding the reader from fear to faith, she uses real life examples, prayer and meditation to help them release what is holding them back.
Unlike many self help books, this book is neither out there or too hippy dippy. The author does not judge her reader, she speaks to him or her as if speaking to a friend. Her advice comes from love, experience and encouragement. Though she speaks of faith, she speaks of faith in a spiritual sense without relying too heavily on any specific religion.
As someone who lives with mental illness, I absolutely loved this book. I loved that I felt like I had a way to release my feelings in a much needed healthy and emotionally profound way.
At some point in our adult lives, we have to take responsibility for our actions.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is the directorial debut of writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo. Based on the story of a friend of his, Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell) is in her late 20’s and living in New York City. She has a job, but it is neither professionally or financially fruitful. She drinks too much, sleeps too much and is overweight. Her life, in short, is a hot mess.
Hoping to score a prescription of adderall, Brittany visits a doctor. Instead of receiving the prescription, the doctor recommends that she lose weight. She initially balks, but follows through and starts running. She is encouraged by her neighbor Catherine (Michaela Watkins) and Seth (Micah Stock), whom she met in her running group.
The running opens the door to other goals, including running a marathon. But doubt and insecurity gets in the way. Can Brittany succeed?
This movie has it’s pluses and it’s minuses. On the plus side, the characters and the narrative are realistic. Brittany speaks for many people, regardless of size, who are hindered by unseen emotional scars. We live in a world which is dominated by social media. The image that many of us put on our profiles may not reflect reality and may cause those who look at our profiles to compare their lives to ours.
On the minus side, the film is a little longer than I think it should be and is a little predictable story wise.
Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is presently in theaters.
Success starts and ends with hard work. Talent is great, but talent is like a rowboat without oars. Hard work is the oars that will propel the rowboat to it’s final destination.
On the outside, Kodi Lee does not look like he will be successful as a performer. Blind and autistic, he relies on his mother for more than most people his age do. But he has a gift for music and the drive to become a performer, which was obvious to anyone who has been watching this season of America’s Got Talent.
His rendition of A Bridge Over Troubled Water was nothing short of stunning. I will be shocked if he does not win this season.
If Kodie Lee, blind and autistic, can see his dream become a reality, then so can I, so you can you, so can anybody. We have just have to believe in ourselves and be willing to do the hard work. Neither is a guarantee that our dreams will become a reality, but a dream is just that without the the willingness to sweat a little.