Showing posts with label Giving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Giving. Show all posts

August 31, 2020

Just Call It By My Name

People often give money for "charity" but then force the institutions to call the buildings or parts thereof by their donor's names.

It a matter of Quid Pro Quo!

Just a few examples of naming after people:

Carnegie Hall

Rockefeller Center

Whitney Museum

If you call it by their names, then they feel like they are somebody!

Even the rich and mighty people know they are going to die, but they want to be remembered long after.

Everyone should say their names!

But honestly, it's not only completely egotistical, but also idolatrous.

The wealth that G-d grants us is for us to live and do good in the world--not to glorify ourselves.

Having your name on a building, museum, hospital, university or stadium doesn't demonstrate you're charitableness as much as your narcissism and desire for some sort of immortality.

However, there is only one G-d and it's by Him that we should give honor, credit, and thanks!

Giving charity is what you do because you can and it's the right thing to help others, especially when you have an overabundance.

Donating to put your name in lights and on people's tongues is nothing but self worship.

All building should be stripped of the names of these people.

Recognize and raise up G-d.  Man is just his servant.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 24, 2020

90-10 Charity Rule

There is a commandment of giving at least 10% to charity.

In Genesis 14:20:
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

In Genesis 28:22
[Jacob says] And in all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you. 

In Leviticus 27:30:
A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the L-rd, it is holy to the L-rd. 

In general, G-d lets you keep 90% and he commands that you give 10% to charity.

I understand that some righteous people even give 20% of their income to charity.

I learned from Rabbi Yaron Reuven that:
For those that are miserly and not charitable and don't tithe, G-d reverses the equation, and He takes back the 90% and lets you keep the 10%.

Very ingenious and where the punishment fits "the crime" so to say.

So what do you want the 90% or the 10%--it's your choice to give or have it given for you!  ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 6, 2020

Build Others Up

I saw this in one of the student lounges at the local JCC.

It says:
"Don't Cut Down Others"

It's far better to build people up then to tear them down. 

Jut like with trees, it's better to plant a trillion trees than deforest the Amazon Rainforest. 

Trees are life and people are life. 

Be constructive and not destructive. 

Offer a nice word or compliment; provide an attentive and empathetic ear; give direction with some advice or guidance; lend a hand to someone in need; and in general, be a good influence. 

Unfortunately, too many people default to cutting down the old cherry tree! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 1, 2020

Holiday SHOULD BE Giving To Children's Hospital

Thought this was a pretty good display with the Three Bears for holiday donations for Children's National Hospital. 

While it gets your attention (who sees three pink bears lite up on the street at night?), asking people with a small impersonal sign on the floor to remember to login and make the donation later isn't very effective. 

People act on the spot, especially when it's an emotional appeal for charity for sick children that need help.  

The children deserve for there to be a way for would be donors to actually give on the spot--where they can swipe or tap their credit card, write a check, or drop some money in for giving. 

Later, later, later...and unfortunately, it may never happen for the Children. 

Come on--it's the new roaring 2020s--we can create some urgency and convenience and do better than this!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 23, 2019

Hopefully, All's Well That Ends Well

I liked this Hebrew sign that says (translated):
When the end is good, all is good. 

Or as we commonly say:
All's well that end's well. 

Lot of truth to this. 

And there are so many languages that talk to this.

I remember my father used to say it in German as well.

When things end well, it's as if everything went well. And when things end badly, it's as if everything was bad. 

The human mind seems to focus on the last thing (and forgets virtually everything leading up to it). 

Perhaps, we justify the means with the end (i.e. all the time and effort leading up to it). 

Or maybe we recap our lives as either a success or failure by how things ended up. 

In 20/20 hindsight, we can see the consequences of our actions.

- Was all the hard work worth it?

- Did we even focus on the right priorities and goals in life?

- Were the choices and decisions we made well-founded? 

- What was the impact on ourselves, our loved ones, and more broadly?

We look for meaning and purpose in our lives, and hopefully in the end when we look back, we are blessed to see that it was all for the good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 28, 2019

Welcome Back - Leadership and Donuts

Really impressed today going back to work after the 5-week Federal government shutdown...

And who is at the front gate, in the dark and freezing cold welcoming every single person back?

The director of the agency!

And not only that, but he is handing out morning donuts to the crew. 

This was a truly spectacular display of leadership. 

I've seen this only one other time in my 30-year career and that was at the Secret Service, where the director stood behind the dessert table at the agency holiday party serving out the ice cream. 

Humility and giving are what true leadership is all about. 

I am proud to serve under such leaders as these.  ;-)

(Source Photo--not from today--by Andy Blumenthal)

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November 23, 2018

Carlos Ghosn - Success and Failure


My thoughts on Carlos Ghosn--the head of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault.

What can we learn from his rise to power and his fall from grace?

Basically...be a real leader and not a schmuck!

Be modest.  Be humble.  Give to others.  Do Good!  ;-)
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November 15, 2018

Listen, Empathize, Give A Little

A colleague was talking to me about negotiating and working with others:

He said something I liked: 

Listen, empathize, and give a little. 

Yes, we each have our beliefs and positions on things.

But we don't live in a vacuum.

Other people have their own views, sensitivities, and wants. 

We have to get along so we can work together, and get things done. 

It starts by listening--not just hearing, but really listening to what the other person is saying. 

But that's not really enough. 

To really understand the other person, we have to try to empathize with what they are feeling--we need to try to walk in their shoes even if just for a moment. 

But that also isn't enough. 

We can't have it all our way--we need to give a little to get a little. 

No one can have everything and have a good relationship like that. 

We need to compromise--as long as it's not on things of integrity, conviction, or G-d. 

Everything else we have to listen, empathize, and give a little.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 25, 2018

It's Not Really Yours

You can't live without money, but you can't just live for money. 

Didn't someone say, "Money is the root of all evil."

Of course, it's not money itself that is bad, but the greed for it, and the use and hoarding of it for selfish purposes. 

On this topic, my daughter sent me this interesting story:
One business tycoon in China passed away. 
His widow, was left with $1.9 billion in the bank, and married his chauffeur.
His chauffeur said: "All the while, I thought I was working for my boss... it is only now, that I realize that my boss was all the time, working for me!"
We can have all the money in the world, but it's never really ours. 

It all belongs to G-d, as does our entire life. 

He decides what we have or don't have (any longer). 

We need to realize that life is ephemeral and all material things are given to us just for the time being. 

We should be generous with whatever bounty that G-d has given to us, because in the end that is all that is truly lasting. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 30, 2018

Preparing Simchat Torah Dinner



















It was great going to Magen David Synagogue today to help prepare for the big Simchat Torah Dinner tomorrow night. 

First, we started with great ingredients.

Then all the prep.


The cleaning, slicing, dicing, mixing, laying it all out, and braising.

Then the cooking--stovetop, and oven.

And before you know, it comes out all done and ready for the scrumptious shul dinner to honor the Torahs.

I want to thank all the women and men that helped out today and many other times to prepare.

But especially, I want to call out Naomi Elimelech who coordinates everything and is the brains behind all the delicious and healthy food. 

She and her husband, Itzik, who is also the President of the synagogue, are truly wonderful, caring, and giving people and a role model for all of us--and it's not just the cooking!

B'tayavon everyone and Chag Sameach!  ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 29, 2018

There is Meaning

Please read my new blog at The Times of Israel called, "Is It Really All In Vain?"
On Sukkot, we read Megillat Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) about "vanity of vanities; all is vanity"--everything is temporal in this world and seems meaningless. Yet in what we perceive as meaningless, there is truly so much meaning when we understand the bigger picture of what is happening to us and perhaps why.

G-d works in mysterious ways and bad things can and do turn into good things too. ;-)

(Source Photo of Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 19, 2018

Impact of Hyperwork on Family

I am seeing this all the time now... 

Parents of little children, or even older children, who are too busy working to pay much, if any, attention to their families.

Call it a disease of the industrial revolution + information technology. 

Whether people worked on the assembly line making widgets or nowadays on the computer and smartphone answering their bosses and colleagues compulsively--it's become a global obsession. 

On one hand, with the impending robot and AI revolution taking over jobs, people need to be grateful to even have a job to earn a living for the families.

On the other hand, with the connections to each other and our work 24/7, the depression-era saying of:
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Has morphed into:
Brother, can you spare some time?

Yes, we all need to be responsible adults, earn a decent living and pay our bills. 

But in the end, it's not money or things that we give to our families that is the most important.  

I would argue money and things are the least important, and what is truly most precious is the love, time, and attention you give to yours. 

As the old saying goes:
Money can't buy love.

But time and attention given to your loved ones can build meaningful relationships that last a lifetime and beyond. 

Yes, of course, people need to work to earn a living and productively contribute something to society, but it is also true that work is used as an excuse to run away from parental and familial responsibilities. 

It's easier to give an Amazon gift certificate or a Gameboy then to actually spend the afternoon with the kids. 

These days, people say ridiculous things like:
I love going into the office to get away from home.  

But you can't run away from your problems at home--you need to work on them and solve them.

The diabolical murderous Nazis used work as a tool to enslave, torture, and exterminate their victims as the sign over the gate of the Auschwitz (and many other) concentration camps read:
Arbeit Macht Frei  (or Work Sets You Free)

But as we all know inside, true freedom is being able to give generously from your time and effort to your loved ones, and slavery is not being able to let go of your work. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 2, 2018

Feeding Frenzy

A colleague told me something really great. 

Once a month she helps others in the office that are less fortunate. 

She told me that the cleaning people have various disabilities, and they are underappreciated for the difficult work they do. 

So once a month she treats them for breakfast!

As I got on the elevator with her, some of the cleaning people were calling to her in a frenzy asking when they were doing the next one. 

She told them the date, and they seemed so happy and valued. 

I thought to myself, WOW!--what an amazing gesture of compassion, kindness, and charity for others.  

It's not necessarily the money itself, but rather making a habit out of doing something good for others. 

I imagined G-d looking down from Heaven at this lady and that she would never be hungry because she makes sure to feed breakfast and gratitude to others. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 2, 2018

How Do I Choose?

So I thought this was an interesting topic for the sermon on Shabbat by Ben Shemony. 

It was about how we are confronted in life with whether to follow our impulses or our values. 

I think there is a lot to this topic...

Some may see it as the little good angel standing over one shoulder and another bad angel standing over the other trying to convince us what to do when it's decision time.  

Others may be perpetually torn between temptations or pleasures of materialism and the flesh versus of pursuing what you know to be spiritually good and right in this world. 

Either way, as human beings, we are a complex make-up of both body and soul.

Do we give in to temptation and do what feels good--more money, more food, more clothes and jewelry, more houses, cars, and yachts, more vacations, more carnal pleasures from the proverbial "wine, women, and song" or do we pursue the path of spirituality, serving our maker, caring and giving and doing good for others and the world?  

It sounds simple, but our impulses tell us one thing and our values tell us another. 

Are we being selfish or selfless?

Perhaps, too much of anything is bad for us--even too much giving and selflessness--we need to care for ourselves too--we are mortal, we have needs, we have to nourish ourselves, and we need to live. 

But you can't be a glutton or a slave to your impulses--you can't take and not give, your can't indulge until you make yourself sick, or take at the expense of and harm to others.

Like all things in life, there is a need for balance.

Certainly our spirit should guide our animal. 

If and when our animal is dictating to our spirit then we are in real trouble. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 17, 2018

Today is Father's Day

What a beautiful Father's Day card from my daughter. 

Also, the message she wrote to me inside was so thoughtful and mature. 

It is wonderful for me to see her grow up to be such a lovely young lady. 

The cover of the card:

"Father:
Neither an anchor to hold us back, 
nor a sail to take us there, 
but a guiding light whose
love shows us the way."


As parents, we certainly don't have all the answers either for ourselves or certainly for our children. 

And frankly, the kids don't want us to tell them what to do or how to do it. 

The best we can really do is to be there for them--to spend time with them, to support them, to show them we really care, and to provide perspective, balance, and faith. 

I used to love going to my parent's house even if just to lay on the couch and feel the comfort of being "home" and with them. 

I didn't have to think about what I did or said--I could just be me, and they loved me for that. 

Now, I want my home to be that for my kids. 

Even though they are adults now, they know we are always here for them in any way that they want or need us. 

Our home is always their home. 

Our love is always surrounding them. 

My father used to say, he would go through fire for his family, and I always knew he meant it. 

I could count on him for anything.

I miss him always, and especially today, Father's Day. 

But I can carry on his fatherhood to my children and try to be a good dad--there, and loving and giving--no bounds, no expectations, no judgment--just love, plain and simple. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 15, 2018

Making A Real Difference

I saw this sign posted at an organization's office. 

I thought it was a nice way to motivate people working there. 
"What people are saying:
You are making a difference."

Later in the sign, it says:
"The work you do is important."
Isn't this really what is critical to people--that what they do is important. 

Yes, we need to earn a living and pay our bills. 

And sure, we'd like something left over to save for a rainy day. 

But our lives are more than materialism. 

We are spiritual beings inside. 

At the pinnacle, we need to know that our lives mean something!

- That we are touching people's lives. 

- That we will be remembered for the good we did. 

- That our good deeds and words will live on. 

- That our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc.) will carry the lessons and message forward. 

- That we've contributed in some meaningful way to the fight of good over evil in this world and the next. 

- That we've shown proper respect and worship to our L-rd/Maker/Sustainer. 

When we make a difference, it's about so much more than what money can buy. 

It's about our soul, our contribution, and even destiny.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 14, 2018

Missed The Shot But Someone Else Got It

So check out this sleek garbage for bottles and cans. 

Like many of these, it has a small opening hole at the top to convey that only bottles and cans (like it says on the side) should be put in for recycling--no garbage. 

When I was walking by quickly, I took the shot, attempting to throw in my bottle.

But it bounced off the rim and landed on the floor. 

Before I could even turn around to pick it up, I saw another gentleman behind me swoop in and pick up the garbage and put it in the can for me. 

I tell you that I was really quite amazed. 

He could have easily said, I missed the can and so I should just pick up my own trash off the floor and throw it out--that's only right!

Instead, it was in his mind nothing to do this random act of kindness and he picked up my trash. 

I know it sounds like a nothing burger, but to me, it represented just a real decency from another human being. 

Not standing on ceremony.

Not being too hoity-toity to pick up the garbage.

Rather just saw something that needed to get done and doing it. 

I tell you that as much as some people disappoint me with their arrogance and evilness, others are genuinely good people. 

This is what it's all about--the good people showing the bad people what kindness, generosity, and humanity is all about. 

To the evil f*ckers out there--who are arrogant, materialistic takers, haters, bullies, aggressors, and abusers--to h*ll with you!

To the good people--keep doing good and let the good win over the evil every single time. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 12, 2018

Getting To Know You

So we recently took on a new function at work.

With that came a new group of employees.

Today, we had a wonderful breakfast as a meet and greet for everyone to get to know each other.

There was a tremendous spread of food laid out everything from bagels and smear, granola and yogurt, free fruit and vegetable salad, donut and muffins, and more.

There was enough food to feed a small army.

Aside from the group joining us, we had people come from other departments that support the process they are involved in--so folks from finance, legal, and even the front office.

The new lead assigned for the group that came over even gave out envelopes to thank their new team and 2 big boxes of gourmet coffee for them to share.

How nice this all was done and the investment that was made to bring the new team on board was really amazing to me.

I saw all the goodwill that was being built up from this event and the niceties put into it to recognize the people and make everyone comfortable together as a team.

I learned that an investment upfront like this in people and function can have tremendous benefits downstream in building a team and performing services that everyone can be proud of who is apart of this.

Invest not only in things, but also most importantly in people and relationships! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 16, 2018

Braving Trust and Credibility

So I thought this was really good from a colleague this week. 

How to build trust and credibility in the workplace:

Credibility is about being "convincing and believable" and results from "expertise and experience."

Trust is believing strongly in the honesty, reliability, character, and effectiveness of a person."


BRAVING

Boundaries - Have good boundaries--respecting yours and having my own; show others respect in words and deeds. 

Reliability - Be someone who is both reliable (can be counted on)  and is authentic.

Accountability - Hold others and yourself accountable; we all own our mistakes, apologize and make amends. 

Vault - Keep information in confidence.

Integrity - Hold courage over comfort; choose what's right over what's fun, easy or fast; practice and not just profess values. 

Non-judgmental - Believe the best in people even when they occasionally disappoint you. 

Generosity - Offer and ask for help from others, and give generously of yourself in time and effort. 

No offense to anyone...the last thing they said was a little spicy for the workplace (but I know it was meant well):  "Good conversation with others should be like a miniskirt--short enough to retain interest and long enough to cover the topic." ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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May 9, 2018

Two Beautiful Hearts

So a very nice elderly lady we know from synagogue took a bad fall and broke her leg really badly...like in half.

She put up on Facebook that she had undergone surgery, had a metal rod and plate inserted in her leg, and was recovering in the hospital--and she wanted visitors. 

My wife saw the message on Facebook, and we ran over to the hospital to see how she was and spend some time with her to try and cheer her up. 

Considering how badly she had been hurt, she was actually in amazingly good spirits. 

A couple of her neighbors were there in the hospital visiting her as well. 

One of them had actually heard her screams from the backyard where she had fallen by her pond and had helped keep her from going into shock, cradled her head in her lap, and called for rescue services.

When I commented how amazing she was and that she was a real hero pointing to the heart--she said it was really nothing, and went on to say"
I have two hearts!

And she pointed to one on the left and one on the right. 

I thought to myself that really we should all have two hearts like that to care and to give to others. 

One heart is us alone. 

Two hearts are when we join with others. 

"Two hearts that beat as one"--one for caring and one for giving. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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