songbird's crazy world

life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


“Who can protest an injustice but does not is an accomplice to the act” ~ The Talmud

And I refuse to be an accomplice. 

Hate crimes in this country have increased dramatically in the last year or so, and even more since early November.

The victims?  Muslims, people of color, Latinx, LGBTQ, Jews...anyone who is not white and Christian.

What was once in the shadows, hidden under hoods (both figurative and literal) has now come to the center.  The fringe element has now become the mainstream. 

I will not stand silent.

I once looked hate in the face...

Eight years ago, my synagogue was vandalized.  The hatemongers used spray paint to deface the outside walls of the building with swastikas and horrible phrases. The damage was done either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. 

When I drove over to the synagogue Sunday afternoon to see what  had been done, the hateful graffiti had been concealed by huge sheets. As I sat in the parking lot, staring at the sheets, trying to get my mind around the fact that someone had done such an awful thing to us,  I was joined by a guy in a pickup truck.  He asked me if I was Jewish, and when I said "yes", he told me he felt sorry for me because he hates Jews.  The detectives with the Hate Crimes Unit thought he must have been the perpetrator. 

That incident shook me to the core.  And it was nothing in comparison to what others have faced.

I will not stand silent.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

medtiation, mindfulness, spirituality, and the nice Jewish girl

It's interesting when two different parts of your life come together.

I have always been moderately religious, active in my synagogue, eager to learn the both the  rituals and the theology behind the prayers and practices. 

When Kabbalah became the "hot thing" (thanks, Madonna!) I started to do a little reading on the topic, but never really pursued the study of Kabbalah. 

Well, now I've gotten interested in yoga.  And all that goes along with it.  Mindfulness, meditation, connection to the universe.  The divine that is within all of us.

So, how does Jewish thought and prayer fit in with Eastern mysticism?

Believe it or not, I found the answer in my synagogue.

We got a grant this year, which we are using to explore Jewish mysticism, both traditional and modern, through a series of workshops.  Our Rabbi will cover traditional Kabbalah. 

And then there's the Awakened Heart Project.  We've had one program presented by Rabbi Roth, in which he used Torah learning and Kabbalistic texts combined with Buddhist-style meditation practices, and he even played his guitar.   I am enjoying my exploration their website. 

And then I learned about the Kirtan Rabbi.   He explains that Kirtan is a form of chant developed in India to increase participation, communal feeling and ecstatic communication with the divine. His version, of course, involves Hebrew prayers done in a non-traditional manner.  I downloaded the app, I want to explore his music. 

Wisdom, understanding, connection, peace.

Namaste.  Shalom.

Monday, December 5, 2016

'Tis the Season

Drew and I spent some time riding around the neighborhood.




Ayhan's Shish-Kebab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We hadn't been here in awhile, but with the recent demise of Ayhan's Westbury location, it was time to return to Baldwin. 

Overall it was a pleasant dining experience, the food was what we expected, and we left full and happy. 

Soft Turkish bread with yogurt sauce always delights. We really like the saganaki fondue -- melted mozzarella and bits of tomato served with pita bread.  Greek salad -- chopped vegetables and feta in a tangy vinaigrette -- was excellent. The five kebab feast -- served with rice pilaf and vegetables -- was well prepared. 

I was disappointed with the moussaka -- layers of eggplant, potatoes and ground meat topped by a b├ęchamel sauce.  It lacked the characteristic taste of nutmeg and cinnamon.  

Now for the not-so-good moments.

I was expecting to be served bread, then the saganaki, then the salads, and then the entrees.  Our salads arrived first, and then our waitress asked us if we wanted the bread.  We were still eating our salads when the saganaki arrived.

And I know my wine glass was clean because it was still wet.  As in, drops of water all over the outside of the glass.  As in, the bartender didn't take the time to dry off the glass before he poured the wine.  That should never happen, even in the busiest of restaurants.  In a restaurant that was only  moderately busy ...

As I said, though, it was a good experience overall, and of course we will be back.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


So you may recall that I signed up for a yoga class at the high school, part of our community's continuing education service. Class met once a week, on Thursday nights.

The teacher was wonderful, he realized that some class members were novices, others quite accomplished. He made it clear that yoga is non-competitive, that we should do what we can and not worry about what others are doing.

I loved the class and was sad to see it end. He'll be teaching another session in the spring.

But what to do in the meantime?

I found out that the public library offers fitness classes. Including yoga.

My first class was this week. Most of the people in the class have been taking yoga with this teacher for awhile, but there were a few of us who were new students.

The teacher watched me during the class, and afterwards she told me that she knew from how I handled the poses that I was not new to yoga.

I think I'm going to like this class.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, December 2, 2016

songbird salutes the 70's -- it's all about the music

It's been awhile since I've done one of these....

I recently joined a new group on Facebook, a group of people who grew up in the1970's.  And now my Facebook feed is flooded with cultural icons of the decade -- music, TV, toys, magazine covers, posters....

And then there was the conversation I had with a fellow blogger/real-life friend.  He blogged about his favorite music, devoted two days to his all-time favorite singles. All of his choices came from his childhood in the 60's, except for two songs from his college years.  Nothing from high school...he explained that he was miserable in high school, and even the music didn't help. 

That's interesting, because my top  choices would all come from my teen years.  I mean, I like the music of the 60's, but the music I chose for myself in my teens is a huge part of what defines me as a person even now. 

So here are my top songs:

5.  Barry Manilow, "I Write The Songs" 

I had Barry's live album, I played it over and over and over.  I knew all of the songs by heart.

4.  BeeGees, "Stayin' Alive"

Saturday Night Fever was the first R rated movie I saw in a movie theater.  And I was madly in love with John Travolta.

3.  John Denver, "Rocky Mountain High"

Yes, my musical tastes are very broad.  I played Denver's live album almost as often as I played Manilow.

2.  Harry Chapin, "Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas"

Harry Chapin lived in Huntington, NY, just a few miles from my home town.  The first time I saw him live was when he did a concert in my high school auditorium, in support of his hunger relief efforts.  And I was in Eisenhower Park, waiting for his performance, the night he died.  I chose this song because it alsways seemed like he enjoyed singing it so much, that he enjoyed making the audience laugh.

1.  Billy Joel, "New York State of Mind"

This song always takes me back to my college years, to coming home on a Greyhound bus...

Thursday, December 1, 2016

feeling drained

I visited L in the hospital again last night.  She was a wreck, was having a hard time making a difficult decision.    Her emotions were chaotic, she was very needy, very scared. It's so hard to watch her go through this.  I feel useless.  And I feel very drained.

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