Featured Post

(You Gotta) Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the negative...

Pay no attention to the number by the month.  Here's a good thought for the New Year.  Shannah Tovah. Ron                        ...

Friday, August 31, 2012

This great story is about Casey Lenhart, one of our Goldman Union Camp Institute staff members and a student here at Indiana University.  WAY TO GO CASEY!

When 21 year old Casey donated bone marrow to a 57 year old woman with chronic leukemia, Gift of Life's Donor Services Director described her as a spirited young woman who showered every nurse, doctor and coordinator with hugs and expressions of gratitude. Selfless and inspiring are two adjectives that describe this heroic young lady.

Casey’s story with Gift of Life began in 2011 when she was a camp counselor. A student from Indiana University visited the camp to speak to the counselors about his experience as a Gift of Life donor and immediately captured Casey's attention. “After hearing his story and how he was able to save a life, I knew this was something I wanted to be involved in,” she explained. Once the summer passed, Casey returned to school and her everyday life until one afternoon the following May, almost a year after she registered, she received the call that would forever change her life. Casey immediately agreed to donate, saying it was “unbelievable to think that out of all of my friends who registered alongside me at camp, I was the one who was given this rare opportunity.”

In July 2012, Casey flew to Boston to donate, accompanied by her mother. She explained that her family went into “research mode” when she was first called as a match, reading every book they could about bone marrow transplants and watching videos featuring donors and recipients. “I would absolutely recommend that others register,” Casey exclaimed. “Donating has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I don’t think there is anything more powerful than to be given the chance to save a life.” Serving as a bone marrow donor was not Casey's first experience with cancer patients --- grandparents and family friends who have battled cancer added momentum to her dedication to get involved with Gift of Life.

Wise beyond her years, Casey explains that “sometimes it’s easy to live your life on autopilot. As a junior at Indiana University, I was coasting through life, going to class, hanging out with friends, and overall just getting through each day.” She feels now, after her donation, that she has received a “sneak peek” into what life is about. Casey not only learned a valuable lesson during her donation, she also hopes to give others the opportunity to learn that same lesson. The eager college student hopes to run a drive on her campus in Indiana for every student, “I feel if given the opportunity to register, most students would be more than willing to join.” She hopes to open the registration process on her campus soon.

To run a drive in your area, contact info@giftoflife.org.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

( 1.3 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13 mile run) , BENTON HARBOR, MI.   AUGUST 19, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Part Two

                                                                                                            August, 2012
Dear Friends and Family:

 Juca and I love to stay at a small hotel called the Eden in Talpiot on Jerusalem’s south side.  From there we can walk down to Baka, our old neighborhood, or further to the restaurants on Emek Refaim.  In the evenings it is beautiful to walk nearby on the Tayelet which overlooks the entire city, old and new, as well as Abu Tor and east into the desert. 

This year we seemed to be catching the 172 bus on Derech Hevron almost every day to travel downtown to Ben Yehudah Street.  One day we jumped on the bus as unusual, never expecting to experience a scene from “The Russians Are Coming.  The Russians Are Coming.”  Soon after we got on, the driver announced that because the Russian President Alexander Putin was visiting Jerusalem at that very moment, the government had closed all of the main streets going downtown.  He announced that he would get us as close as he could.  It was funny that no one seemed to think that this was too unusual; we got on the bus expecting to go someplace and it simply was going to take us someplace else.  The driver couldn’t tell us exactly where he would let us off.   Although Israelis often yell and complain about any little thing (like the woman who gave the driver hell for stopping a bit up the block from her usual spot), at this major change, it was no problem, and all seemed to accept that we were not going to end up downtown.  Oh those pesky Russians.  

 We finally stopped down near the Jaffa Gate of the old city, quite a distance from where we thought we would be getting off the bus.  But just before we stopped, Juca noticed an old man who was quite upset and confused by this change in route.  Juca asked him if he would like to get off the bus with us so that we could help him.  He was a 92 year old American who had made Aliyah because his son and grandchildren were now in Israel.  He spoke no Hebrew, was wearing a WWII. U.S. Navy Vets cap, and was trying to reach the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem (we were nowhere close). 

 We all got off of the bus, and were slowly making our way up the street when a cab driver approached.  Strange things happen in Jerusalem.  Once I saw an Arab kid wearing an   Olin-Sang-Ruby tee shirt.  (I couldn’t find out how he had gotten it as he spoke no Hebrew.)  So I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that the cabby was wearing a Chicago Cubs cap.  Did it matter to him that our beloved Cubbies were almost already out of the race and it was just the end of June?  I imagine not. He probably didn’t even know who Chicago’s North side heroes were.  Nevertheless, I immediately noticed the Cubs cap and commented to him in Hebrew that I liked the cap and that it was my team.  The cabby wanted fifty Shekels to take the old man to the synagogue.  Our companion refused him saying, through us, that it was too much money and that he couldn’t afford it.

So up the street in the hot sun we trudged; up Rehov Yaffo, toward downtown.  About two minutes later we heard that same cabby yelling at us.  He called out “Hey Chicago, Chicago” (he pronounced it She-caa-go, not the correct way, Chi-caw-go… but I digress).  Of course he got our attention.  When he caught up to us he said that he would just take the old man to the synagogue.  When I told him that he would have to take care of the gentleman, not just give him a ride, his reply was priceless.  With hands outstretched and palms up, giving me an isn’t-it-obvious look, he said, “C’mo Abba Sheli, C’mo Abba Sheli.”  " As if he were my own father, as if he were my own father.”

You see, Israel is family.  Things like this happen there. 


Monday, August 6, 2012

This is an email I just received from long-time friend Doug Passon.  Give a click to hear and see a great Danny Nichols treat (treat for me).  Anyone interested in supporting this great project can find out how by going to the 2nd link below. 

doug passon dpasson@dmajorfilms.com

                                                                                                                   Aug 3

Hi Ron - Shabbat Shalom.  When last we spoke you said you would be interested in seeing some footage of you and Dan playing.  I just put together "Peace Will Come"  and posted it on Vimeo:  https://vimeo.com/46847430

I put a plug in there for the launch of our Indiegogo fundraising campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/roadtoeden)  We are trying to raise 30k in the next 60 days.  I would appreciate it, if you are so moved, to do what you can to publicize this to your network, maybe even post it on your blog?

In any case, the footage from st. louis is some of my favorite.  it was so pretty in that park and you guys sounded soooooo good!

be well,

Friday, August 3, 2012


When we got our dog, Kasha, we were living in Memphis - I intentionally gave her that name, so that when we were walking with her in the street, and a stranger would come up and comment about how cute she was, and then ask her name, I would reply: "Kasha".... Their response immediately told me something - The non-Jew would always say "What? What 's that name? What does it mean?", and anyone Jewish would respond with: "Oh! What a great name! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!" (or something similar..It was my way of immediately finding out, there in the heart of Memphis TN , if the person was Jewish or not!)
Anyway, read on - 'tis a great story!

It all started when my friend -- who wears a kippah -- was back in college and suffering through a tedious lecture. As the professor droned on, a previously-unknown young woman leaned over and whispered in his ear: 'This class is as boring as my Zayde 's seder. ' You see, the woman knew that she did not 'look ' Jewish, nor did she wear any identifying signs like a Star of David. So foregoing the awkward declaration, 'I 'm Jewish, ' the girl devised a more nuanced -- and frankly, cuter -- way of heralding her heritage.

This incident launched a hypothesis which would henceforth be known as the Bagel Theory.  The Bagel Theory stands for the principle that we Jews, regardless of how observant or affiliated we are, have a powerful need to connect with one another. To that end, we find ways to 'bagel ' each other -- basically, to 'out ' ourselves to fellow Jews.

There are two ways to bagel. The brave or simply unimaginative will tell you straight out that they are Jewish (a plain bagel). But the more creative will concoct subtler and even sublime ways to let you know that they, too, are in the know. (These bagels are often the best; like their doughy counterparts, cultural bagels are more flavorful when there is more to chew on.)

Bageled at Boggle
I suspect that Jews have been bageling even before real bagels were invented. And while my husband and I may not have invented bageling, we do seem to have a steady diet of bagel encounters.

An early bagel favorite occurred when my kippah-wearing husband and I were dating, and we spent a Saturday evening at a funky coffee house with friends. We engaged in a few boisterous rounds of Boggle, the game where you must quickly make words out of jumbled lettered cubes. Observing our fun, a couple of college students at a nearby table asked if they could play too. After we rattled the tray and furiously scribbled our words, it was time to read our lists aloud. One of the students, who sported a rasta hat and goatee, proudly listed the word 'yad. ' Unsuspecting, we inquired, 'What 's a yad? ' He said with a smirk, 'You know, that pointer you read theTorah with. ' Yes, we were bageled at Boggle.

On our honeymoon in Rome , we were standing at the top of the Spanish steps next to a middle-aged couple holding a map. The husband piped up in an obvious voice, 'I wonder where the synagogue is. ' My husband and I exchanged a knowing look at this classic Roman bagel and proceeded to strike up a conversation with this lovely couple from Chicago . After we took them to the synagogue, they asked to join us at the kosher pizza shop. As we savored the cheeseless arugula and shaved beef pizza -- to this day the best pizza I have ever had -- this non-religious couple marveled at traveling kosher and declared they would do so in the future. A satisfying bagel to be sure.

Holy Bagel
In the years since, our bagel encounters have become precious souvenirs, yiddishe knick-knacks from our family adventures in smaller Jewish communities. Like the time the little boy at the Coffee Bean in Pasadena, California , walked up to my husband, pulled out a mezuzah from around his neck, smiled and ran away. (A non-verbal bagel!) Or our day trip to the pier in San Clemente , California when an impish girl in cornrows and bikini scampered over to say 'Good Shabbos. '
We have been bageled waiting at airline ticket counters, in elevators, at the supermarket checkout. And I myself have been known to bagel when the situation calls for it, like the time I asked the chassid seated a few rows up on an airplane if I could borrow a siddur.

On a recent trip abroad, however, we did not get bageled even once. That was in Israel where, thankfully, there is just no need.

We bagel in a quest to feel whole.  Ultimately, why do we feel this need to bagel? Does it stem from our shared patriarchs, our pedigree of discrimination and isolation, a common love of latkes or just the human predisposition to be cliquey? I maintain it is something more. Our sages say that all Jews were originally one interconnected soul which stood in unison at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Now scattered across the Earth, as we encounter each other 's Jewish souls, we recognize and reconnect with a piece of our divine selves. The bagel may have a hole, but we bagel in a quest to feel whole.

So the next time a sweaty stranger at the gym says to you, 'I haven 't been this thirsty since Yom Kippur, ' smile. You 've just been bageled -- adding another link in the Jewish circle of connection...