"From Moshe till Moshe, there arose none like Moshe." (famous Jewish folk saying)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Use inspiration to channel negative energy

I have been distressed over world reaction to the death of Arafat. I have found it nauseating to see such an evil excuse for a human specimen, responsible for so much pain and suffering, recognized and lauded by world leaders. To read about and watch the trendsetter of hostage taking, airplane hijacking, school massacres, and suicide bombings receive prime time on CNN and most of the major networks just makes me ill. What is wrong with these people!!!

My heart goes out to the 1000’s of people who have been directly affected by the loss of a child, parent, sibling, teacher, friend,
etc, etc, etc. And all those who continue to suffer thru painful rehabilitation, burn treatments and whose lives have been irreversibly changed because of the evilness of this man. Their pain seeing Arafat glorified, without the mere mention of his victims can only be the proverbial salt to their wounds. I think the French, South Africa, and Indonesia showed their true colors by sending their presidents and heads of state to Cairo. I’m not surprised that Jack Straw would attend. The US Jewish community will never forgive William Burns for his presence. There is even word that in Paris that they plan to name a street in his honor. Is it so easy to turn a blind eye to history?

So when I get distressed about life, I try to look at the positive. Concentrating our energy on so much evil is not healthy. Getting all worked up over it is also not helpful. So I began to think of some of the people who I know that have made a positive difference in our world. Simple people who have made profound impacts on the lives of individuals, families and communities. I did not have to go to far in my thinking.

My dear friend Shimmy who is one of the most talented and dedicated youth educators I have ever met. He is a computer programming genius, who could have made millions with the knowledge of his trade. Instead, he founded Heart Mind and Soul. HMS is an organization that helps teens improve their self-confidence and motivation, develop and have closer relationships, and work toward making their dreams happen. And then there is my wonderful friend Rabbi Elie, an outstanding rabbinic scholar who is creating a revolution in adult outreach, by presenting Judaism in an understanding and exciting way at KJ on the upper East Side of Manhattan. And then there is our equally talented friend Rabbi Mark who founded and directs the very successful Manhattan Jewish Experience on the Upper West Side.

There is my other friend Rabbi Elly who is an outstanding and dynamic Rav in his community of Potomac, MD. His enthusiasm and passion for Yiddishkeit and for people are evident in all of his interactions with his congregation and the people of his community. Rav Elly has a unique ability to gently, yet aggressively charge his congregants and community to take their Yiddishkeit more seriously. I am inspired by his drashot each week as he elegantly and seamlessly weaves his themes with Torah issues with those confronting the world and his community. There is our dear friend Sarah who is an insightful educator and writer who has inspired so many with her knowledge of the mundane and the sublime. She won the hearts of the tough kids in Harlem and long ago inspired Jewish teens with her deep thoughts and stimulating educational programs. Our friend Sarri, the daughter of a Jew Jersey Senator who after surviving the terrorist attack in Jerusalem on Bus #14, made the difficult decision to temporarily move back to the US to work for the One Family Fund, an incredible organization that has been remarkable at providing real and meaningful support and services to the victims of terror and their families.

There is my Special Ed who has demonstrating how much a person can grow and what youth leadership is all about. There is our friend Lenny, the King of Shlock who has revolutionized Jewish music and has brought countless (yes, the number is countless and grows each day) individuals back to Judaism with his whimsical and Torah educational lyrics. There is our one and only G-Man. And you have to see him, know him and love him. Eitan G is an incredibly talented young man, who has put Jewish into Rap, really! And as my wife would say, "the boy can move!" There is our beloved Devorah who is so dedicated to her kids that even after leaving her official responsibilities, her caring continues to offer encouragement to so many. There are our friends David and Zehava who we have been friends with for so long, and only appropriate that we made aliya together. The famed Treppenwitz offers timely wisdom, humor, blinding flashes of insight and most of all honesty, to so many people. My friend Jeff, a friend from Brokline who is a columnist for the Boston Globe. He continues to tell it straight and nailed it on the head once again for the world to read, and the world does read what he writes.

Look around. You are surrounded by very special people. Ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. To let Arafat continue to monopolize the headlines only perpetuates his crimes. Remember instead his victims and those who live on and have struggled in the face of adversity. Remember, support and encourage those who make a positive difference in peoples lives, those who are remembered for the good of what they do and how that will effect the generations. In the end, Arafat name will only join with the myriad of Haman’s, Hitler’s, Titus’s and the others who made the Jews suffer, but who failed (and will always fail) to achieve their goals. All those of our friends above and so many others are achieving their goals. Their contributions to our world will have ripple effects forever. When I am feeling down, these are the thoughts that inspire me each and every day.

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