With 25 family members, we descended into the nooks and crannies of Cuba with great admiration for the residents while learning about their endurance over 5 tumultuous decades. Though the tides are slowly changing as our US government treads a new relationship path. These negotiations bumped us from our hotel as Nancy Pelosi and her crew were roaming the Island (while staying in our hotel) and discussing efforts to lift the long overdue embargo. Cuba is a beautiful dichotomy. It is rich in culture yet poor in wealth with friendly people who are sadly isolated and a swim’s distance to Key West yet oceans apart. I learned that (despite last week’s musical inclusion), Dezi Arnez is completely unknown in his home country since his career was launched after he left (and never returned) and Cubans didn’t have access to American Television. Cuban culture is stellar. The music is toe-tapping/Salsa-Dancing everywhere…lunch, dinner, night clubs with the highlight at theBuena Vista Social Club. The variety of architecture is stunning yet with some magnificent building so neglected and decrepit trees were growing from their roofs. Their art community is incredible with Yoan Capote as our favorite. Delicious meals consisted of Rice, Beans and Rum with tasty Fish and Chicken sides. Public toilets lacked TP and Seats but for a “cuc” (Tourist Pesos) attendants came to the TP rescue. Their roads are filled with Woodward Dream Cruise cars of every hue and the Jewish Community is warm and welcoming as we shared Friday night services and Shabbat dinner with them. The songs were familiar and the service was led by young Cuban Jews. I highly recommend a visit to Cuba and now is the time, before it becomes commercialized and western.
While the US is working on marriage counseling with Cuba, our decades-long courtship with Israel has always been strong, however the US could have been a bit more supportive during Israel’s rebirth*. Unfortunately, our own political divisiveness is creeping into our unwavering support of our Jewish Homeland. Bibi’s scheduled congressional speech has been tainted with political controversy. And this week Bibi refused a Democratic Invitation exacerbating the rift. Hannan, Aviv and I will be one of the 16,000 people attending the AIPAC Policy Conference this weekend. It will be interesting to hear Bibi’s speech as well as Susan Rice and Samantha Power representing the Administration. Then, when Bibi goes home, he must contend with his own political hurdles of Bottlegate and financial misappropriations. Let’s get past this current Israel/US relationship hiccup as our main goal is to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions and end the aggression by those who want to wipe Israel off the map. Throughout her existance, our tiny homeland has been bombarded with existential threats as well as vicious lies, like this week when they accused Israel of flooding Gaza http://www.timesofisrael.com/false-israel-drowns-gaza-claims-sweep-internet/ but for the real Israel in her full glory, sadness, beauty and strength, take a look at this stunning new video of Eretz Yesrael:
*This newly posted and vividly clear video by Alan Dershowitzexplains the historical legality of Israel’s “rebirth“. I only wish the Israel haters would open their eyes to the truth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12KJa4a0d64
And if you’ve got 4.44 minutes here is Danny Ayalonexplaining the balance of power in the Middle East:
Our festive holiday of Purim is celebrated next week (March 5th) as we commemorate the survival of one of the many struggles against our people. As repeated throughout our centuries long history “they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat”. During Purim, we engage in 4 main activities/Mitzvot:
1. Give gifts/charity to those in need.
2. Attend a reading of the Megilla (story of Purim).
3. Partake in a family/community Purim meal.
4. Send gifts of food (Mishloach Manot) to friends/family.
We indulge in eating 3 cornered cookies, Hamentashen, representing the 3 cornered hat worn by our Purim nemesis, Haman.
After months of debating, lobbying, campaigning and conferring over the Neutrality of the Internet, the FCC will regulate the usage like a public utility which will keep the playing field level for big and small internet providers and users. If you want to understand how Net Neutrality
works, check out this brief and concise explaination. By the way, the late NYTimes journalist, David Carr
(who recently died) is featured in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cGlI9mRUCM
Obama Vetoes: 3 with the 3rd this week for the Keystone Pipeline, though I assume more are coming down the pike.
Recreational Weed: 3 States with Alaska joining CO and WA this week. Many others including MI legalized medicinal marijuana.
Marriage Equality: 37 States with a Supreme Court decision regarding Michigan (and other States) expected in June.
Damages Awarded: $655.5 Million by a Manhattan Jury against the PLO and the Palestinian Authority for their involvement in terrorist attacks that killed Americans in Israel.
Gun Violence: Women are 10 times more likely to be murdered in the US than in other Western Countries.
National Monuments: Obama created 3 new ones includingBrowns Canyon in Colorado, Pullman Historic District in Chicago, and Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawaii.
After months of rehearsal and practice, practice, practice, Lady Gaga nailed this Sound of Music tribute.
Pre-Pharrell Happy Theme
Don’t worry as the world joins in:
During one of our Cuban dinners, we met the lovely Ambassador from Nigeria who is this week’s Shabbat Shalom Guest Greeter. She was a fascinating woman with some sad tales of the devastating tragedies inflicted upon her people by the demons, Boko Haram.
Here is Ambassador Laraba Elsie Binta Bhutto
Wishing you and your loved ones a Sweet and Peaceful Shabbat Shalom and a Hag Purim Sameach!
P.S. Fitbit fights Hunger with this great campaign humorously explained by Joel McHale who is (not too) coincidentally
our Guest Comedian at this year’s Forgotten Harvest May 1st Fundraiser*. Please join Hannan and I as we Co-Chair this year’s event to help combat hunger. Tickets and sponsorships are available at http://forgottenharvest.org/events/detail.aspx?i=71 Last year’s event was sold out and Joel McHale is Hilarious. Check this out:
George M. Margulis z”l
Condolences to dear friend, Sherry Margulis Zaslow and her family on the passing of their beloved Father and Grandfather,George M. Margulis z”l. His heart was beaming with pride and love for his wife Marilyn and children Sherry (and the late Jeff Zaslow z”l), Randy (Deborah) and the late Dale Margulis z”l in addition to granddaughters Jordan, Alex and Eden Zaslow and Jayde and Lily Margulis May his memory and spirit bring comfort to those who loved him.
Sion Soleymani z”l
Our thoughts and prayers are with Roya Soleymani and Bryan Weinstein and their family on the passing of Roya’s father Sion Soleymani z”l. May his memory be a blessing onto his family and bring comfort to them during their time of mourning.
Dan Uzan z”l
The Danish security guard who was shot at point blank while protecting a Bar Mitzvah celebration at his Danish Synagogue. The 37 year old hero was a gentle giant at 6’5” who was beloved by his community both in Denmark and Israel. He was an avid basketball player and to his friends was known as “Dan the Man”. Rest in Peace.
Dan Uzan z”l
Baby Boomers who were Detroiters grew up with Northland as our landmark mall. Change is inevitable and Northland (which has been in decline for years) will finally be shuttered for good. An era is ending just as it’s original rival shopping district of downtown Detroit is revving up again.
Opened March 22, 1954