Nevertheless …

Objectively speaking, the world has had a pretty sh*tty week.

  • Massacre in two New Zealand mosques by a right wing extremist who proudly posted it live on social media
  • Rockets in Tel Aviv
  • Response in Gaza
  • Terror cell found in Syrian Golan Heights
  • Boeing 737 Max 8 making air travel scarier than ever
  • Scandal in the US of parents cheating the system to get their over-privileged children into higher-tier universities
  • Scandal in Korea of a Korean pop star who offered sex services for business investment that snowballed into a bigger scandal involving hidden-camera sex videos shared in chatrooms
  • Spa sex scandal in the US, which shines a light on human trafficking all over the US while delegitimizing the massage therapist profession
  • Learning about the despicable crimes of R. Kelly and Jussie Smollett, and wondering why Paul Manafort got off so lightly
  • Anti-Semitism showing itself on the Left and the Right (around the world)
  • Ugly election campaigns
  • Preventable diseases making a comeback because of misinformation and ungrounded fear

It’s weeks like this that make me think it might be a good idea to get off social media and stop reading the news.

Nevertheless …


Image by John Hain from Pixabay 

I actually had a pretty good week.

  • Finished a big project on gender equality in the workplace
  • Saw a matinee of Captain Marvel and walked home in my blue suede shoes

Short review: So. Much. Fun!
Best feminist line: “I don’t have to prove anything to you!”
Best multi-level joke: Cat named Goose

  • Cheered for the runners in the Jerusalem Marathon – it rained the day before and the day after, but the on the day of the race, the weather was perfect
  • Took time for self-care, cooking (mushroom barley soup and quinoa fennel cranberry salad), and baking (molasses cookies)

This is not an ode to being selfish. Rather it’s a reminder to be grateful for the blessings in your own life and trying to make your corner of the world a little bit brighter. Human beings always have a choice. We can choose to have good people in our lives and do good things. We’ll slip from time to time and hopefully learn to do better.

But if we start to believe that the world is dark, horrible, filled with evil, and nothing we do even matters in the great scheme of things, well, then we will have a lot more weeks like this one.

So instead of looking at the world and saying “whatever,” let’s look at the world and say “nevertheless!”



I saw Black Panther last night in IMAX 3D. I love a superhero movie! With no spoilers, I can tell you that this movie is for EVERYONE. The message is simple:

Be who you are.
Remember where you came from.
And, most importantly, be a light unto the nations.

There is plenty of digital ink out there about what this movie means, how important it is in society right now, how empowering it is, and how universal the appeal is. It is all of those things and more. Instead of a trailer, here’s a little featurette about the warriors of Wakanda.

When I left the theater I was struck by the popularity of superhero movies in recent years and I was reminded that during the Great Depression people in the US went to movies and listened to radio plays to keep their spirits up. Through the years since then, people have turned to these kinds of hero stories when the world seemed to be a dark and scary place.

Joseph Campbell wrote about the Hero’s Journey pattern in many of humanity’s stories and many people have translated his thoughts into a self-actualizing phenomenon to show people that they can be the hero in their own stories.

Today the world is again (or still?) in crisis: corrupt politicians, lack of leadership, economic instability, refugees, war or threats of war. As I typed that list, I realized that these crises could be in any country. I was thinking about Israel, but it might just as easily be anywhere else.  So it’s no wonder that I would rather sit in a darkened movie theater and be inspired by a hero who reminds us that courage is defined by your ability to go forward even after you fall and even if you are afraid.

Today’s superheroes are often imperfect. Long gone are the days of good is good and evil is evil. Black Panther is a great example of this. The beloved father and the ancestors made a huge mistake and it is the villain who points it out and tries to right the wrong. The hero is heroic because he accepts the lesson and moves forward in a positive way.

It’s not that the real world is lacking heroes. We see them every day. They are the quiet ones standing between danger and innocents under attack. They are first responders who go toward danger and keep calm when chaos is all around. They are people who see something and say something. They are the ones who give a word of encouragement to someone who needs it. They are the people who lift others up to join in success. They are the helpers and the givers. And yes, they are also imperfect.

Hero seems like a weighty title, but it doesn’t have to be. If we can all be heroes in our own stories, then perhaps we can also take a page from the superhero movies coming out these days: the world is in crisis and it’s up to us to save it.

Use your gifts to make the world around you better.
If your gift is very powerful, use it to do great good.
Every day you can choose to do good.
And remember, no one expects perfection.


Practicing Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving!  This is the time when most Americans are thinking about food and football.  We had that at my house too, but my mom had a special Thanksgiving tradition.  We went around the table and said what we were thankful that year.  Sometimes we were cynical, sometimes genuine, rarely sappy or cheesy (our family doesn’t do sappy and cheesy).  Mom was always thankful for the same thing every year.  She was thankful that she came to the US and was able to give her children the freedom to make choices about their lives in a land of opportunity.  (My living in Israel seems like a rejection of the American dream, but it actually isn’t.  I made a choice and I used my opportunities to live my life to the fullest.  I am and always will be a proud American, but I chose to live in Israel.)

I want to be grateful today but I have to say it’s been a crappy week and frankly a crappy year.

This week the office where I work was broken into.  The windows in my office and another office were smashed.  The thief – well, intruder, it seems he didn’t take anything – tore up the other office and thankfully left my office mostly untouched.  He rifled through my drawers and why he pulled out my Kleenex box, I’ll never know.  Still, it’s a basic violation of space and it felt awful.  What I’m grateful for, though, is that that he didn’t steal anything and he’s been arrested.


Israel is on fire – literally and figuratively.  It seems that some of the fires around the country have been arson and others are just due to the dry conditions we’re suffering right now.  Of course now it’s political.  The arson is not classified as criminal, it’s being called terrorism.  The hashtag #Israelisburning is trending in some Arab countries.  And at the same time, there are Israeli Arabs and Muslim organizations are pitching in to help out.  Fire trucks from the Palestinian authority have been dispatched to help contain the fires.  There is nothing to be grateful for when disaster strikes and when disaster becomes a political debate, but it does give people the opportunity to be generous and helpful to their fellow humans.


Source:  StandWithUs Facebook page

It is extremely dry in Israel right now.  I happen to have an electric superpower at the moment.  If I touch metal, people, my cats, or water, I get zapped.  I’m not really grateful for this, but it does give me an opportunity to remind myself that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

This year we lost many of our cultural icons.  And I lost my dad.  I’m certainly not grateful for these losses, but I am grateful for the influence they had on my life.  I’m also grateful that my dad went out pretty much on his own terms.  That’s all anyone can wish for.  I’m also grateful for the fact that death reminds us to live our lives to the fullest.  If today was your last day, would you be doing what you are doing right now?  It’s good to be reminded of that.

I think gratitude is a choice that we make.  We can be bitter, blame everyone and everything, complain until we are blue in the face, but that is just a huge waste of precious life.  Sure, it’s been a really crappy week and a generally crappy year, but I still have a lot of blessings in my life and I’m generally happy with my choices.  If today was my last day, I’d still probably be doing what I’m doing right now.  And for that I am truly grateful.

“It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness”

JD east of edenMy favorite James Dean movie is East of Eden.  The story moved me so much that I decided to read the book by John Steinbeck.  I had the pleasure of visiting the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA, where I learned that Steinbeck considered East of Eden the culmination of his life’s work.  He struggled with it all his life because he wanted to truly understand the fundamental ability to choose light or darkness.


God said to Cain, “If you do well, shall you not be accepted? But if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)  Steinbeck’s East of Eden tells us that no matter what happens, you always have a choice.

The power to choose

There’s so much awful news: Tel Aviv, Orlando, the Stanford rape case, a British MP gunned down, and plenty more that I don’t know about.  In each case someone made a choice to do evil; they chose darkness.

Debates are raging right now about why these tragedies happened. I’m not qualified to give an opinion about changes that need to be made in society and I’m not going to try.  This post is about the power to choose.

Choosing compassion

The family of a police officer saw someone running from the scene of the Tel Aviv terror attack.  He was badly shaken and could hardly speak.  They brought him in and gave him water.  The officer ran to the scene and when he saw that the detained shooter was dressed exactly like the man in his house, he rushed back, fearing the worst.  Indeed, the family had sheltered the second shooter.  The officer arrested him in the living room.

This family chose to help someone who looked to be in shock.  Without a doubt, the situation could have ended tragically, but instead we have an example of what compassion to one’s neighbors looks like.

Unsung heroes

At Stanford, two Swedish graduate students pulled the rapist off of his victim and held him down until police arrived.  The victim was completely unconscious, could not defend herself, and likely would not have been able to remember the events of what happened in order to bring her attacker to justice.

It was late at night.  The two students could have passed by and done nothing.  Instead, they chose to protect a young woman in a horrible situation.

Choosing to stand together

Sometimes you can’t save the person in danger, but you can stand beside the mourners.  Two stories I came across – and surely there are many more – remind us that it’s fine to “Je suis …” and change your profile pictures, but actions are so much more powerful.

A rabbi brought members of his congregation to grieve with mourners of the Orlando terror attack.  Just showing up was enough.

A flight crew found out that a passenger was on her way to her grandson’s funeral.  He was one of the victims in Orlando.  All the passengers wrote notes and when they deplaned, every person stopped to personally give their condolences.

Shavuot in Israel – Standing together

This week also marked Shavuot in Israel.  Shavuot is the fiftieth day after Passover and marks the date that the Israelites received the Ten Commandments at Sinai.  It’s a pilgrimage holiday meaning that when the Temple stood, people came to offer sacrifices.  Today, we aren’t offering sacrifices, but we still stand together, raise our voices in song, and choose life.




Here’s a video I took while watching the sunrise on Shavuot at the Western Wall

From a single candle, thousands can be lit

When I watch the sun rise over the people and hear them singing, I know that the world is going to be okay.  Some people choose to do evil.  This is a fact and we see plenty of evidence of it.  But more people choose to do good.  More people choose light.  Sure, there may be moments .of regret, but every day we have a choice.  We can choose light and keep choosing it until we break down the power of darkness.

Wishing all the fathers a Happy Father’s Day!

And remembering my Dad z’’l