Monthly Archives: December, 2018

Out with the Old?

December 31st, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 19 comments

It is quite exciting to tell ourselves, “This year is a new chance.”

“This year will reveal an improved version of ourselves. Just wait and see how our marriages, families and businesses thrive. It’s an opportunity for a new beginning.”

I’m all for looking ahead and upgrading our game. But let’s not be too quick to bury the past.

Imagine telling our kids, “Guess what!  We’re going to Disneyland in three years’ time!”  Or, “Guess what, Honey!  We’re being transferred to Paris for two years; our flight’s this afternoon.”  Both scenarios are equally ludicrous.  It is also as absurd to fire an under-performing employee and give him twenty-four months’ notice as it is to tell him that he must be out and off the premises within an hour. What time is right?

How long should you spend psyching yourself up to propose marriage to your girlfriend? A week? A month? An hour?

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Technology and Kids: Part Two – You Need to Think About This Now

December 30th, 2018 Posted by Practical Parenting 13 comments

“No one walks down the aisle with a pacifier in his mouth.” “College admission offices aren’t going to ask how old she was when she was toilet trained.”

The above (one hopes) true statements are relayed to young parents as a way of saying, “Relax.” As such, they are valuable bits of advice from those whose children are older and who recognize that things that mattered greatly at one point became completely irrelevant down the line.

Not everything falls into this category, of course. Sometimes, things that happen in one’s early years have grave repercussions down the road. A mother who drank heavily or took drugs while pregnant may damage her child in a way that no later intervention will be able to correct. A baby deprived of sensory contact, affection and security might need to struggle mightily in future decades in order to live a happy life. These examples are extreme, but good people recoil at the not-so-uncommon scenario of a child given sugar as a major food group or one who is plopped in front of a screen for hours a day.

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Merry Christmas (No Reply Necessary)

December 28th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 30 comments

“Have a joyous Christmas.”

“Thank you and Happy Chanuka. Well, I guess that’s over now but I hope it was happy, I mean…”

I’ve had a few awkward conversations such as this one over the past few days. In my daily life I regularly interact with Christians. From the woman who leads the exercise class I attend to the checker at the local supermarket wearing a reindeer pin, many around me are celebrating a special, religious occasion.

They often know that I am not. For some reason that leaves them tongue-tied when I offer timely greetings. If you think about it, that makes little sense. When the coffee barista knows that it is my birthday because I am using my “free happy birthday” card, she wishes me good tidings on that day. I feel no compunction to say back, “and a happy birthday to you too.” That would be rather ridiculous.

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What is part of Scripture and what isn’t?

December 26th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

I heard you quote something (on the Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV Show) from The Complete Works of Josephus but then it seemed like you were saying he was a rebel or something like that. So are his writing creditable?

And one last things that bugs me…the Catholic Bible includes the Apocrypha books (like The First Book of Esdras for example). Are these books part of the Jewish Holy scripture or not?

Kathy H.

Dear Kathy,

We think your question and confusion is shared by many. First, to clear up your question about Josephus. During the early years of the common era, Josephus headed the Jewish forces in their revolt against the Romans, who were led in northern Israel by general Vespasian. Josephus then betrayed his people and went to the Roman side. After Vespasian became emperor in 69 CD, Josephus was granted Roman citizenship.

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Technology and Kids: Part One -The Video Game Fortnite: How Scary Is It?

December 25th, 2018 Posted by Practical Parenting 2 comments

This is the  refrain that often goes through my head: “Thank God I’m not raising children today.” Partially, this is because I don’t have the stamina I had in my twenties and thirties and am glad to pass the baton to the next generation. However, it is not after a delightfully exhausting afternoon with my grandchildren that I most often sound this mantra.  It is when I see the decisions that today’s parents face .  These high-stakes quandaries were never issues for my friends and me. 

Reading about the uber-popular videogame, Fortnite, brought these feelings once again to the fore. Fortnite is a “shoot ‘em, kill em’” game designed to capture and retain the attention of boys. It does so very effectively whether we are talking of twelve-year-olds or males in their forties. This visually vivid and violent game was carefully designed to gain a rating that would let parents allow their teens to play. That is to say that you don’t actually see blood or dismemberment. (Parenthetically, it has to be one of the great ironies of our age that some parents who meticulously refused to let their six-year-old boys play with water pistols or run around with sticks saying, “Bang, bang, you’re dead,”  seem to have lost a much greater battle when it comes to their pre-teens and technology.)

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Natural Limitations

December 25th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

Here is a Thought Tool quiz:

Early in 1845, Henry David Thoreau, along with about twenty of his friends, began a two-and-a-half-year long party in a cabin on the shore of Walden Pond, near Concord Massachusetts.  True or False?

In 1971 Ted Kaczynski, his wife, six children, a nanny, a tutor, and three puppies moved to an isolated mountain cabin in Montana from where he later sent bombs through the mail injuring dozens of people and killing three. True or False?

Brilliant twentieth century photographer Ansel Adams, who specialized in capturing the glory of America’s national parks and other natural wonders, left a legacy of thousands of pictures depicting happy crowds enjoying their natural outdoor heritage. True or False?

With thirty members of his Rotary Club, Chris McCandless hiked into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992. After being awed by nature’s grandeur, he returned home to Virginia.  True or False?

Ready for the answers?  All four statements are false. (I am sure you hardly needed me to tell you that.)  Thoreau was alone at Walden Pond.  The Unabomber lived in lonely isolation for nearly thirty years.  It is difficult to find any Ansel Adams photographs containing even one human image.  In his book, “Into the Wild,” Jon Krakauer relates how McCandless hiked alone and died alone, tragically and unnecessarily. 

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Christmas Wishes

December 25th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

Wishing our Christian friends a joyous holiday filled with love and blessing.

Fasts and Feasts

December 20th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 20 comments

This past Tuesday was a fast day in the Jewish calendar, a fact that probably never came across your radar screen. Truthfully, even most Jews were unaware of it, as only the relatively small percentage of Jews who observe their faith as their ancestors did make note of the day. 

While there are two major fast days during the year (Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av) on which food and drink are prohibited for 25 hours, there are also four other fast days on which eating and drinking are prohibited only from just before sunrise until soon after sunset.  While certain special prayers are added on these days, we otherwise function as normal; going to work for instance.

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Kicking the Snooze Bar Habit

December 19th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 10 comments

Upon stumbling on your teachings and podcast, I caught a comment you said about how a man should never hit the snooze button (along those lines).  I, however, hit my snooze button all the time!

It’s really bad, and the reason why this is important to me is because for the past 4 years I have been trying to reach a goal of waking up at a certain time every morning so I have personal time to do things that I can’t find time to do later in the day. But my bad habit of snoozing is very difficult to combat.

Any wisdom and insight would be highly appreciated, thank you!

Alex G.

Dear Alex,

We had no need to ask you to type in a string of numbers and letters to prove you aren’t a robot, since you are all too clearly human. As are we. Whether it is hitting the snooze button or succumbing to any other bad habit, wanting to change is only the beginning of actually changing.

If you have been working on this for four years, then we imagine that you have tried putting your alarm clock out of reach – and making sure that it is horribly irritating. We assume that you go to bed early enough to log enough hours of sleep and have possibly even medically checked that you are, in fact, having a restful sleep. You have probably tried incentives and rewarding yourself for successes.

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Did You See This?

December 18th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

We take all negative news about President Trump with a shovelful of salt. Not only is much of it spawned by malice, but any outlet that ignores anything positive yet highlights anything negative (and did exactly the opposite with a previous president) doesn’t deserve recognition.

Here is a link to a party that the President and Melania Trump hosted at the White House for Holocaust survivors. Like us, you are probably not surprised that it went largely unnoticed. (Thanks, Julie Ann, for sharing it with us.) https://www.facebook.com/will.kniesche/posts/2255655761379720

 

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