Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Queeen is Dead- Long Live the Queen - Elizabeth and Esther Dedicated to their people

This week show Biz lost a star that was way beyond her year. When Elizabeth Taylor took the stage you knew she was all there. He accolades are too numerous to list. Since Purim has just passed by, it is most appropriate to point out the connection between Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Esther.

Perhaps one of her most famous films, Cleopatra, The Queen of Egypt, was the one who put her over the edge to become the highest paid actress up to that time in 1960. She won two Academy Awards for best actress. She also was honored by the Screen Actors Guild with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Among other awards, she was also named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

While Taylor was indeed a movie star, she was known for quite a few other things, like her beauty, her many marriages (and divorces), and most notably, her charitable work. Taylor was a famous activist and a generous humanitarian for HIV/AIDS. In fact, in a little over 30 years of active participation, she was involved with or responsible for raising more than $100 million for HIV/AIDS related charities. Her work earned her the Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Academy Award in 1992. She was also the co founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and formed her own organization, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1993. She was also known for her charitable work involving Jewish and Israeli causes.

After her conversion to Judaism at the age of 27, Taylor worked for Jewish causes throughout her life. In 1959, her large-scale purchase of Israeli Bonds triggered Arab boycotts of her films In 1962, she was barred from entering Egypt to complete Cleopatra; its government announced that "that Miss Taylor will not be allowed to come to Egypt because she has adopted the Jewish faith and 'supports Israeli causes.'" In 1974, Taylor and Richard Burton considered marrying in Israel, but could not because Burton was not Jewish. Taylor helped to raise money for organizations such as the Jewish National Fund; advocated for the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel and canceled a visit to the former USSR because of its condemnation of Israel due to the ix Day War; signed a letter protesting the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 of 1975; and offered herself as a replacement hostage during the 1976 Entebbe skyjacking
Taylor was also known for being a fashionista and a pioneering business woman in the beauty and fashion industry. Her perfumes, "The Elizabeth Collection," including "Passion," "White Diamonds," and "Black Pearls," earn an estimated $200 million in sales yearly.

Like the Ancient Queen Esther, Liz wanted to do everything  to use her power of influence. I have no doubt that both Esther and Liz were beautiful both on the inside and out. Esther was born Jewish , AKA Hadassa and hid her Jewish Identity until the right time. Elizabeth Taylor was not born Jewish but chose to take on Judaism and became was of the strongest world famous advocates for Jewish causes.

It is without a doubt the girl who loved to be Queen on and off stage will forever be remembered, as was Biblical Ruth, also a non Jew by Birth, as "A Woman of Valor"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Being A Modern Woman In An Ancient Society

Standing up for your rights
Today March 8th we celebrate International Women's Day. Around the world many women are celebrating with pride the achievements of women throughout time. It is so unfortunate that in some societies it would be unheard that women should be allowed to have the ability to drive, be a political representative and so on. According to news media reports Egyptian women were not as fortunate to celebrate the modern woman. A protest by hundreds of Egyptian women demanding equal rights and an end to sexual harassment turned violent when crowds of men heckled and shoved the demonstrators, telling them to go home where they belong.

One might think that the International Woman's Day dates back only100 years, but the fact is women have tried over the years to gain better respect and place in society. The idea of an International Woman's Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies.In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for "liberty, equality, fraternity" marched on Versailles to demand women's suffrage. 

 Let's travel further back in time to the days of an empire that stretched many lands. Long ago, in a country called Persia (Babylon), there was a king named Achashveyrosh (as known in Hebrew... his Persian name was Xerxes) and a queen named Vashti.  King Achashveyrosh  ordered his wife the queen to appear before him at a party so he could show everyone how pretty she was.  The story commentary suggest that she was to appear only with her crown.When she refused, the king was furious. This you could say was one the start of a well know tradition of the Jewish people to celebrate the courage of the women in ancient Persia in a city called Shushan. 

Queen Vashti was dealt with swiftly but the Story of Queen Esther is the story of women deifying the laws of the land ( or of the time) Esther had to deal with the situation that her people ( the Jews) had been ordered to be killed. Esther who was chosen to replace Vashti was not allowed to come before the king unles she was summoned. Breaking the rule meant death. Yet even though Esther new she wa doomed, she did she felt she had to do. You can search the full story online. What is amazing i that the Jewish people will read ( and have been reading each year for centuries) the story of Esther. For the Jews it is most know for how Ether saved the Jew. Nut for all of us it can be an inspiring story of the courage of women told to a community year, after year after year. Isn't it a shame that some place around the world still treat women no different than queen Vashti in our enlightened world? To be a modern woman in an Ancient Society is a heavy burden that millions of women have to bear.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Carmel Forest Fire effect on the Arts

The ongoing Carmel Region forest fire has consumed what used to be a charming, picturesque artists’ village. Ein Hod was established in 1949 by new immigrants and became an artists’ village in 1953 at the initiative of Marcel Janco, a renowned Dada artist who organized an unusually diverse group of artists and craftspeople to settle among the ancient stone houses. About 500 residents have been, engaged in all areas of art from visual arts, painting, pottery and jewelry-making, to literature and theater. They supported themselves with their art, their galleries and by running workshops and educational activities. According to media reports the fire consumed the village. It would be great to support these talented artists who have lost their homes and much of their available pieces of art. You can find the main page to Ein-Hod community in the link

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Be an example worth following

Always remember that you are being watched. Your friends watch you, your parents watch you and your children watch you – everyone is looking, all of the time. Your actions are life lessons to the ones who see them and we should all take care to make the lessons we teach, be good lessons. Even the clothes we wear show who we are, to friends and to strangers alike. If we smoke we are teaching our children to smoke. If we are unkind we are teaching others to be cruel. If we are thoughtless to animals, we teach acceptance of disrespect and mistreatment to all animals and people, as well. But, if we take care, if we really think before we act, our impressions on this earth will be worthy of the precious air we breathe and the glorious ground we walk on and worthy of our brother's best interests, our brothers, different though they may be, but still our brothers and our closest kin.

Stand up and be counted

If you are a Christian, stand up and say so. If you are a Jew, tell people who you are. Remember that although using words to spread your message, does so, loud and clear, your actions are even more powerful and more believable testaments. Live your beliefs and demonstrate your commitments. It is great to give your money to those less fortunate and your time to those in need but don't forget to flash a smile, look in their eyes, extend your hand and freely lend a listening ear. We all must join in the global efforts for peace between peoples, respect of our planet and celebration of our great wealth in diversity.

Leaving Home

If you are like me, kindergarten was the first place that I was sent against my will. I was taken away from the safety of parents, my home, my pets, and toys. I did not understand how my Mama could do without me there, to be her best friend. At school, they would not let me sit atop the swing set or walk along the fence. I admit, I felt a little lost and forlorn. On the bright side, I was given my own little tub of paste with a little plastic paddle so that I could stick someone else's pictures on my paper and make them mine. At least the days were short, I was brave and quiet, and I managed those two years of transition without much complaint.

The next real blow was the summer after second grade when I was sent off to Girl Scout Camp for ten days. As I remember, I was continually repeating to myself that Daddy said, 'it would very fun' and continually trying to forget that I had told myself, 'it just might not'. Sadly, I was correct in assuming that the other girls in the cabin might not be so friendly. And, no, the food was not as good as Mama's. I don't know how I stood it because every night, I had to walk up the long path through the woods, heading for the yellow light bulb glowing over the outhouse door, alone. I worried that my dog might not remember me when I got back. I did not like it there. And the letter from my parents, with chewing gum inside, was immediately confiscated by the counselors. I didn't really see why they had paid so much money for me to come so far away to be so unhappy. Gee, it was so much more fun, at home.
The yearly sessions at camp or camps went on for most of my youth and thankfully, became enjoyable adventures. I learned to make friends and to know that home would still be there when I got back.

The next time I felt any real sense of separation again was when I went away to college. But even then, my Father called me every Friday afternoon and I would happily sit in a little cubbyhole in the lobby and talk as long as he could be away from his work. I was seventeen and he was still my best Beau. I remember hiding my sadness when he told me at the beginning of the second term that he would be calling every other week from now on, so that I could learn to be more independent. I wonder now, which of us was more brave, facing that? But, it didn't take too long to realize that college life was wonderful and I kept at it for a decade – but home was always still there for the holidays and still the place I called “my house”, even when I had lived in my own apartment for some years.

It was only when I packed up all of my belongings and stored them at my Aunt's or with friends who wanted to use this or that or into my parents attic and downstairs storage rooms that I began to feel the permanence of really, leaving home. I filled two army duffel bags with clothes and presents, left my parents broken hearts in the airport and set off to live in another country. I had a one way ticket with People's Express to New York and on to England. By the time I tried to collect my baggage at Gatwick, there was only one. Half of everything I owned was gone in one fail swoop. I tearfully, rode a bus to town, thanked my lucky stars to have 85 pounds less to drag down into the subway and onto the Boat train and was smiling again by the time I reached the huge ferry which took me on a 24 hour crossing of the rough, North Sea.

I would not see my parents home again for many years. By the time I got back, they had remodeled and built on and gotten older. It was not 'my house' anymore. I was heartily welcomed but I was only a visitor. It is only right to leave home and make your way out there with the strangers. Most of us are trained to take that leap from our very, early years. Step by step our parents ween us and teach us and even push us sometimes, toward the unknown. But, it is only when we are really able, due to maturity or chance, opportunity or lack there-of, money or promise of it, a love so strong we will leave everything to keep it or a mission that powers greater than our own compels us, that we brave the unknown and go.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


It has happened to most of us – all of us, probably: your spouse, your friend, your boss or your workmate has promised one thing and then done another. 'So what', they must think, 'I changed my mind. My circumstances are different now and to honor my word would cause me hardship'. Rationalizing, they might feel tricked themselves – they might feel that you didn't keep your end of the bargain and so they have every right to protect themselves, from you. They might think that they have a right to change the rules midstream, because they, after all, made the rules in the first place. If you don't like it, you can just go away. No one is making you stay.

So what do you do when you are the recipient of such a miscommunication?

You can ignore it; you can pass it off as a misunderstanding, assuming that you misheard or have no memory or were just a victim of your own wishful thinking. But, if you do this, will you be sending them the message that they can walk all over you? Will they believe that they will not be held accountable for what they say to you? Will they lose all respect for you? Will you lose all respect for yourself? Will you become hardened and suspicious and untrusting?

Perhaps, you could try and have your way, despite them. You could trick them back, stealthily stealing what's rightfully yours, enjoying revenge or wrangling things to your favor, with your intellect and devious mind. But, if you did this, wouldn't you too, then become a dishonest person? Could your rationalizations and justifications be enough, to deem it alright? But, if you trick them back, won't you be just like them? If you steal what you feel is rightfully yours, won't you really, just be a thief? If you too, become unfaithful, can you ever like yourself, and if you continue this deception, will this scheming circle ever end?

Or, although, frightening, you could confront them. This would risk an embarrassing scene, risk rejection, and risk the future – the future which you thought held such promise. And, if you did this, would they admit their mistake and make it right or would they feign ignorance or perhaps even accuse you, of trying to abuse them? Maybe, they would simply turn their back and leave you hanging, empty handed? Is it worth such unpleasantness, just to prove you are right or to win the prize, however small, just because it was promised? Sometimes you wonder, if a friend would embarrass a friend, by even mentioning, such a thing? In the end, would you really have gotten anything you wanted and if you did, would it be worth it?

In Genesis 28:10 – 32:3, we hear the story of how Jacob worked seven years for the hand of Rachel just to be tricked in the end by Lavan, into marrying her sister Leah. Yet, after this deception, Jacob did not reject Leah, nor disgrace her. He simply took her as his wife and worked another seven years for Rachel. Fourteen years is a pretty long time for Jacob to wait and work for one, whom he knew in his heart, held no respect for him. Yet, the scripture tells us that the fourteen years went by quickly for Jacob. Perhaps it was only by having a forgiving heart and letting go of anger and releasing one's tormentor from guilt, that our heart can be light and our future, bright.