Nov News We Said Go Travel: The Future is BRIGHT


November 2017 NEWS: The Future is BRIGHT!

Thank you for your ongoing support of both We Said Go Travel and me! I was so honored to share about Napa Valley for KTLA TV in Los Angeles. Did you see my segment? CLICK HERE to watch it now!

Where to Wander? Watch Lisa Niver on KTLA 5

Want to know more about my Napa Segment? I wrote two articles about it:

November News Travel Classics The Future is BrightIn November, I went to my third Travel Classics Journalism conference. Thank you to Maren, Cathy, Visit Tucson and everyone who created this a fantastic experience. Thank you to all the editors and writers who were there to share their experiences and wisdom!

Lisa is a Cowgirl at Tanque Verde Dude Ranch Nov News

After Travel Classics Tucson, I learned to be a CowGirl at my very first DUDE RANCH! I absolutely loved my time at Tanque Verde Dude Ranch. I cannot wait to share the video with you when it is ready. I took several lessons and I rode up to Cowboy Lookout twice! WOW!

 

WHERE CAN YOU FIND MY 759 TRAVEL VIDEOS?

 

Here are links to my video channels on YouTubeAmazon Fire Tv, and Roku Player. I hope you enjoy my “This is What it is Like” Episodes! I now have 759 videos, 659,587 views, 1497 subscribers on YouTube AND my total video views across all platforms is now over 1,450,000+ (1.4M)! ! Thank you for your support and I cannot wait to get to 1.5 Million views!

Recent videos:

Will you Love Kia Stinger? Lisa in KIA StingerVideo #755: Sky Diving for my birthday with GoJump Oceanside!

Video #759: Will You Love the Kia Stinger?

Watch me in SPANISH! My first video interview in another language! Learn about the new Kia Singer in Jose Carlos’ video: Kia Stinger 2018 – los periodistas opinan

 

 

TRAVEL WRITING AWARD: 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our We Said Go Travel Competitions! Find the winners for the 2017 Inspiration Award here. The entries from the 2017 Summer Independence Award have been published and the winners have been announced.  We hope you will participate in our 2018 Writing Awards.

TRAVEL PHOTO AWARD:

Our first ever Travel Photo Award is now closed! Thank you to our judges, Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere and Jeana from Surf and Sunshine. We hope you will submit a photo in our next award. We will begin sharing the entries soon.

Want to make your own video? Use code WESAIDGO10 for 10% on your project. Lisa loves working with EpicMakers and they were a sponsor for our first Travel Photo Award.

My fortune cookies said “Good Fortune Lies Ahead.” and “You know what you want–Get to work to make it materialize.  I hope that this time with family for Thanksgiving brought you rest, relaxation and renewed perspective to know the steps to make your dreams come true!

Thank you for your support. Lisa

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube.

What do you think of my new site? LisaNiver.com

Thanksgiving Dinner (with a little help from Mom)


Cooking for Thanksgiving can be overwhelming!

We are all very thankful for our moms.

Models, Mayors and Magazines: My September 2017 News


September 2017 NEWS: Models, Mayors and Magazines

Thank you for your support of both We Said Go Travel and me! My 50 Things Before I am 50 Project has been amazing. I will be 50 next month in October. The last few months have been full of mayors, models and magazines and so many exciting accomplishments! Here are a few highlights:

Recent Articles: 

TRIVAGOHow I Conquered My Fear of Getting on a Bike

SMITHSONIAN Battle of Guadalcanal, walk in the footsteps of history.”  They included six of my videos from my visit to the Solomon Islands.

SATURDAY EVENING POST  “A World War II Hero Remembers Guadalcanal” about Roy Roush.

POPSUGAR How I Conquered My Fear of Getting on a Bike 

Lisa with Governor Gray Davis Sept 2017

RADIO: Lisa on The Good Life Show!

Models and Mayors:

Recent Travels:
I loved visiting Las Vegas and shared my adventures of swimming with sharks, racing a Lamborghini Huracán and cooking with a Michelin chef on an Instagram Takeover on Frommer’s Travel Guides.

I networked at Travel Media Showcase in Cabarrus, North Carolina and won the grand prize from Grapevine, Texas for best coverage from the 2016 conference.

WHERE CAN YOU FIND MY 750 TRAVEL VIDEOS?

Here are links to my video channels on YouTubeAmazon Fire Tv, and Roku Player. I hope you enjoy my “This is What it is Like” Episodes! I now have 750 videos, 633,953 views, 1463 subscribers on YouTube AND my total video views across all platforms is now over 1,340,000 (1.3Million)! Thank you for your support!

Find videos from this summer trip to Europe in my articles about Monaco (country 97), IrelandScotland (country #98) and San Marino (country #99)

Video #749 = Travel Media Showcase in Cabarrus, North Carolina. This conference brings together travel journalists and destinations! I went to the conference in 2016 for the first time and this year I was the GRAND PRIZE Winner for my coverage of Grapevine Texas in 2016.

Lisa and Marcie biking in TahoeVideo #750 = My very first ever mountain biking lesson at Northstar California Resort with Specialized Bike Academy!! (read about it in POPSUGAR!)

 

TRAVEL WRITING AWARD: 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our We Said Go Travel Competitions! Find the winners for the 2017 Inspiration Award here. We are publishing the entries from the 2017 Summer Independence Award. There is no Fall Gratitude award this year. We are working on a redesign for the website right now. Look for more writing awards in 2018/

What Picture will you share in WSGT Travel Photo Award 2017TRAVEL PHOTO AWARD:

Our first ever Travel Photo Award is open! Thank you to our judges, Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere and Jeana from Surf and Sunshine. Enter here Share your favorite shot! Why do you love it? How did you create it?  Submit a photo taken in the last two years. There is no fee to enter and there are cash prizes!

Check out our Travel Photo Award SPONSORS

Want to make your own video? Use code WESAIDGO10 for 10% on your project. Lisa loves working with EpicMakers and they are a sponsor for our first Travel Photo Award.

My fortune cookies said “Others take notice of your radiance.” and “A financial venture may turn a profit sooner than expected.” I knew it was going to be a good year!
To a SWEET year of SUCCESS and ADVENTURE! Happy 5078.

Thank you for your support. Lisa

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube.

What do you think of my new site? LisaNiver.com

What would you do? Operation Jericho


Jonathan Ball Operation JerichoWho is Jonathan Ball?

“He skipped the senior prom for boot camp and took his first plane ride to report in San Diego. The environment was challenging and purposely disorienting, but he loved it. He volunteered for all tasks and immersed himself in the training to gain experience and expertise over eight years of service, four on active duty (non combat) and four in the inactive reserve. At an early age as well as throughout his life, he watched as friends and family succumbed to death, and in training, he learned further how to desensitize. Yet Ball feels blessed he never had to carry the burden of killing someone in the line of duty.”

Read Operation Jericho

VIDEOOn the KTLA 5 News at 3, Marine veteran Jonathan Ball discusses his new novel, Operation Jericho, soon to be made into a film.

Who is a hero?

“Heroes, as seen through the innocent and admiring eyes of a child:
If you boil everything away, all the nonsense, the bureaucracy, the politics, then you are left with the total purpose of Operation: Jericho. Americans, no matter their color or creed, are still Americans. Iman and Hasim, as Arab-Americans, are out of place in and out of uniform. Imagine life as an outsider, always on the edge of trust but never gaining it completely. Imagine living on the cusp of society, in a world of anger and hate and death. Imagine the self-doubt in purpose for any mission and what the ultimate outcome could mean for you on any given day.
I think of that, and the excerpt that stands out for me the most right now (the one where I am the little boy, looking upon the faces of heroes and only seeing them as such- no color, no race, no religion- just American bad a**es going to do American bad a** things.” — Jonathan Ball

An excerpt from Chapter Two:

Exhausted from travel and shrouded in uncomfortable uniforms,
the men ached to get to their destination. Their trek
through terminals and corridors was unabated by the light foot
traffic inside the airport. However, the ends of their toes and the
bottoms of their feet burned at the confines of patent leather footwear.
Hasim was still a little groggy from his nap aboard the plane.
He rubbed at his eyes until he caught sight of a small boy.
The boy was visibly tired and less than thrilled to be in an
airport during hours that would otherwise be deep into his
bedtime. His small left hand clutched tightly to the comforts of his
mother’s right. Hasim smiled at the mother and child as their paths
crossed. The little boy, suddenly excited and apparently raised as a
patriot, rendered a salute to the Marines. Each of the men smiled
back and broke uniform protocol. They returned a playful salute
to the boy, and the child lit up. He was elated to have received the
military courtesy as he yelled, “Mommy, Mommy! Did you see?”
Iman and Hasim forgot about the pains in their feet. They dismissed
the itch of form-fitting collars and heavy ties. They discontinued
their silent complaints against the heavy wool of their uniforms.
Rather, they smiled with the slight bump of charging energy
that the child passed to them. Hasim said, “There’s a future Jarhead
right there.” Each laughed lightly as they arrived at baggage claim.
About Jonathan Michael Ball:
He was born in Dallas, Texas and spent his youth in the balance between a country boy loving the wide open space of a cattle ranch and a city kid finding his way through the roller coaster of fast living.At 17 years old, he joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as an Intelligence Analyst in the 1st Marine Division. He deployed with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; and his experiences abroad inspire his wide-reaching takes into character development and the realities faced outside of any bubble of comfort.Beyond experiences in the Marine Corps, Jonathan Michael Ball has climbed mountains, scaled cliffs, ascended frozen waterfalls, and explored various wild areas around the world. He is an accomplished professional, a devoted family man, and an observer of the human experience. He sets out in the great exploration of life’s adventures with the earnest effort of learning and driving forward in the knowledge that experience creates a great writer.

Winner at the Award Ceremony: July News We Said Go Travel


July 2017 NEWS: Winner at the Award Ceremony

I won second place for my print column at the Jewish Journal for the Southern California Journalism Awards! There were 1200 entries for the 59th annual awards and I was a finalist in two categories.

Where did I travel recently?

I flew with JetSuiteX for a one day adventure to NapaEpicMakers edited the video for me and will be a sponsor for my brand new TRAVEL PHOTO AWARD that begins August 1st!

I was invited to the opening of the Lake Club at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe and to conquer my fear of mountain biking! I am so proud of myself. Of all my 50 things before I am 50 so far, this was by far and away the scariest one. I still cannot believe I did it!

And now for something new: I was honored to be asked to be a Facebook Live host for USA Today 10best’s new project. I was “live” in Tahoe from the brand new Lake Club at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe and at the Culver City Centennial Food and Wine Festival.

Recent Articles:

Lisa is a Travel Expert:

  • Inquisitr Interview: “WE SAID GO TRAVEL’S LISA NIVER ON BUILDING A TOP TRAVEL WEBSITE, SEEING THE WORLD, AND PACKING EFFICIENTLY”
  • MSN article:  “Travel: The not-so-good ideas:”  What did I say:

    “People believe it saves them money to avoid a travel agent when the opposite is true,” explains Lisa Niver of We Said Go TravelBooking a trip through a travel agency means better rates on hotelsplane upgrades, and avoiding pesky visa issues. Most of us go to a salon when we want a good haircut – “Don’t you think a professional could put a polish on your holiday too?” asks Niver.

  • Budgeting for International Travel: read all the way to the end to find me:  “Lisa Niver from We Said Go Travel recommends, “Budgeting for your activities. I love to go SCUBA diving and renting the gear plus boat fees can be expensive, but for me the cost is well worth it. When I travel, I want to see the underwater creatures. I would rather stay in a cheaper place and spend more on my excursions.
  • Travel Classics Conference has two of my Ireland video’s on their home page: Welcome to Travel Classics and Why is George Stone in Kilkenny, Ireland?”
  • Tourism Ireland has my Travel Classics video on their page!

Lisa and Marcie biking in TahoeWhere can you find my 745+ travel videos?

Here are links to my video channels on YouTubeAmazon Fire TvAmazon Short Video and Roku Player. I hope you enjoy my “This is What it is Like” Episodes!

Travel Writing Award: 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our We Said Go Travel Competitions! Find the winners for the 2017 Inspiration Award here. We are publishing the entries from the 2017 Summer Independence Award. The Fall Gratitude Writing Award will open Sept 11 and close on Thanksgiving.

Travel Photo Award:

Our first ever Travel Photo Award opens August 1st! Thank you to our judges, Gary Arndt from Everything Everywhere and Jeana from Surf and Sunshine. Enter here

As my fortune cookies said: “Kindness leads to happiness.” and “Your dreams will come true when you least expect it.” Thank you for years of support, kindness and sharing your hope with me that I could really make my dreams come true! If you have suggestions for my country #100, let me know! 

Thank you for your support. Lisa

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube.

What do you think of my new site? LisaNiver.com

Newest Videos from Lisa and We Said Go TravelA Day in Napa

June News: Finalist at the Award Ceremony


June 2017 NEWS: Finalist at the Award Ceremony

Who is a Finalist for the Southern California Journalism Awards?I am a finalist in two categories for the Southern California Journalism Awards! The ceremony is June 25 at the Biltmore. I am honored to be included. There were 1200 entries for the 59th annual awards. Thank you to the Los Angeles Press Club for my nominations. I will let you know what happens!

Where did I travel recently?

I have links below to videos from my Florida and China trips. I told you last month I would be in Europe for nearly four weeks and in six countries: Monaco, France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy and San Marino. Country 97, 98 and 99 were amazing! I loved my travels and am working on all the videos to share with you.

This month, I am going on my first private jet for a one day adventure to Napa! This is definitely going on my list of 50 things before I am 50! At the end of June, I will be at The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe and conquering my fear of mountain biking. Look for photos on all my social media–I have been verified on Twitter and am now also verified on Facebook!

Lisa and Joyce at Ashford Castle IrelandWondering what else is new? Check out my new page on LisaNiver.com Please let me know your feedback and suggestions.

I am so excited about being the Adventure Correspondent for The Jet Set! Here is my most recent segment about the Solomon Islands.

Enjoy my latest videos and articles: 

A Weekend in Shanghai China

Visit the Sugar Sand Festival in Clearwater Beach

Travel Classics International Conference in Ireland

Formula E Race in Monaco

Recent Articles:

Lisa jumping for joy at Ashford CastleWhere can you find my 680+ travel videos? Here are links to my video channels on YouTube, Amazon Fire Tv, Amazon Short Video and Roku Player. I hope you enjoy my “This is What it is Like” Episodes!

Travel Writing Award: 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our We Said Go Travel Competitions! The 2017 Summer Independence Award is now open. The 2017 Inspiration We Said Go Travel Writing Award entries are currently being published and the winners will be announced in July. Thank you to our judges, Amanda Castleman and Jason Frye.

As my fortune cookies said: “You are on the verge of something big.” and “Getting the right answers is only possible when you have asked the right questions.” I am diligently working every day to make my goals into reality and it is actually happening! If you have suggestions for my country #100, let me know! 

Thank you for your support. Lisa Niver

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube.

Newest Videos from Lisa and We Said Go Travel: Lisa Niver on The Jet Set: Solomon Islands

How to make blintzes: A video tutorial


 

FOR THE BLINTZES:

– 1 cup flour
– 2 tbsp. sugar
– 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– 3 eggs
– 1 1/4 cups whole milk
– 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

FOR THE FILLING:

– 1 lb. ricotta cheese, at room temperature
– 2 tbsp sour cream or mascarpone
– 3 egg yolks
– 3 tbsp. sugar
– 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
– 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Combine crepe batter ingredients in blender or bowl and mix until smooth.  Let rest a half hour.

2.  Combine filling ingredients in mixer or bowl and blend until smooth. (Use good quality ricotta.  If very moist, drain in cheesecloth-lined colander; set inside pan for a few hours or overnight in refrigerator)

3.  Heat a non-stick crepe pan or 8 inch skillet.  Rub with oil or butter.  Add ¼ cup batter and tilt pan to spread batter thin.  Cook until set then flip.  Cook until dry, then turn out onto plate.  Repeat until all the batter is used.

4.  Spread 2 or 3 tbsp. of filling along bottom of crepe.  Roll up into a cylinder, tucking ends in before you finish rolling. Repeat until all the crepes are filled.

5.  Heat one tbsp. vegetable oil in a skillet, Add crepes 2-3 at a time and cook on each side until golden. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh berries.

Makes 10–12

 

 

 

May 2017 News: 3 New Countries Takes me to #99!


May 2017 NEWS: Time to TRAVEL!

I am writing the news early this month as I will be spending over three weeks in Europe in May and going to six countries. Three of them I have never been to before and they will be countries #97, 98 and 99! I feel so very fortunate that I have these amazing adventures as part of my 50 Things Before I am 50 Project.  Thank you for all your support. I cannot wait to tell you all about it!

Where did I travel in April and May?

In my April news, I mentioned my trips to New York City and Clearwater, Florida but at the end of the month I went to Shanghai for the weekend! Please click here for a preview of what we explored in China. In May, I went to the 2017 SCUBA Show and flew to Nice, France to begin my European journey. I traveled by helicopter to Monaco to see the e-Grand Prix. I also went to Ireland, Scotland, Italy and San Marino. Photos and videos coming soon to share my stories.

Lisa Niver is the Adventure Correspondent on The Jet SetI am so excited about being the Adventure Correspondent for The Jet Set! New segments are coming soon. See my first segment about Utah and skiing with the visually impaired here.

I also reported about my first ride on the Winter Comet Olympic Bobsled! Did you see my interview on The Jet Set: Interview of Lisa Niver: Transformational Travel

Newest Videos:

Where can you find my 660+ travel videos? Here are links to my video channels on YouTube, Amazon Fire Tv, Amazon Short Video and Roku Player. I hope you enjoy my “This is What it is Like” Episodes!

Recent Articles written by or featuring Lisa:

Jeana, JJ, Ellen, Stef and Lisa on the way to Shanghai with China Eastern Airlines!

Travel Writing Award: 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our We Said Go Travel Competitions!

The 2017 Summer Independence Award is now open. The winners of the 2016 Gratitude Travel writing award were announced on May 11, 2017. The 2017 Inspiration We Said Go Travel Writing Award entries are currently being published.

I have been honored to publish nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries with the thirteen writing competitions I have hosted on We Said Go Travel. I hope you will consider participating in the next competition or sharing it with someone who wants to tell their tale. Thank you for all the support over the years.

As my fortune cookies said: “Live in THIS moment” and “Through greater effort and hard work a precious dream comes true!” I am working every day to make my goals into reality and it is actually happening! If you have suggestions for my country #100, let me know!

Thank you for your support. Lisa

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube.

Newest Videos from Lisa and We Said Go Travel: 2017 Travel and Adventure Show in Los Angeles

April News: I am so PROUD of my accomplishments


April NEWS: Plant seeds and Watch them GROW!

At times over the last few years, I have wondered if I am making progress. Was leaving teaching to write about travel the right choice? Lately, I see that the seeds I have been planting are taking root and growing! I am very proud of my accomplishments!

Lisa Niver is the Adventure Correspondent on The Jet SetMy trip to the Solomon Islands for two weeks in March was incredible and I am working on my story for Smithsonian. I have 31 videos to share from my adventures and will have more articles to share soon. I hosted a twitter chat and shared many photos which can now be seen on my Instagram about my trip. I have over one million video views, I am verified on Twitter and all my social media accounts are growing! Thank you for all of your amazing support!

I am now the Adventure Correspondent for The Jet Set! See my first segment about Utah and skiing with the visually impaired here. I also reported about my first ride on the Winter Comet Olympic Bobsled! Did you see my interview on The Jet Set: Interview of Lisa Niver: Transformational Travel

I loved flying on Delta and reading my article about Fabien Cousteau in Delta Sky Magazine! That was amazing! And I loved when Fabien Cousteau shared about the article when he flew on Delta and read about himself in my article. What a great month!

Lisa Niver wrote for Delta Sky Magazine about Fabien Cousteau.Where did I travel in April?

I traveled to New York City to celebrate a family birthday and Passover. I also went to the Auto Show to learn more about the e-Grand Prix as I am going to Monaco for a race in May! I have new two stories on Sheknows:

  • Discovering New Sports: 50 Things before I am 50 about my first hockey game, my first NCAA Basketball Game and learning to play tennis! Also about my story for The Jet Set in Utah skiing with the visually impaired and going on the Olympic Bobsled!
  • Where to stay in NYC? I loved my stay at the DoubleTree By Hilton and I love their new Cook(ie)Book! Read more about it here! 

I also LOVED being at the Sugar Sand Festival in Clearwater Florida. I love sand art sculptures and this festival supports a local elementary school! Photos and video are coming soon!

Newest Videos:

Where can you find my 650+ travel videos? Here are links to my video channels on YouTube, Amazon Fire Tv, Amazon Short Video and Roku Player. I hope you enjoy my “This is What it is Like” Episodes!

Recent Articles written by or featuring Lisa:

Lisa Niver in the Solomon IslandsTravel Writing Award: 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our We Said Go Travel Competitions! We will announce the winners of the 2016 Gratitude Travel writing award in May 2017. The 2017 Inspiration We Said Go Travel Writing Award entries are currently being published. The Summer Independence Award will open on May 11, 2017. I have been honored to publish nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries with the dozen writing competitions I have hosted on We Said Go Travel. I hope you will consider participating in the next competition or sharing it with someone who wants to tell their tale. Thank you for all the support over the years.

I love the Oprah and Deepak 21-day Meditation Challenge. Recently Oprah said: “Let life carry you. Life is the dancer and you are the dance.”  She also said, “Be one with life. You don’t live your life, life lives you!”

Thank you for your support. Lisa

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTube.

Newest Videos from Lisa and We Said Go Travel: Lisa Niver on at the LA KINGS Game!

March News: Where in the Wonderful World is Lisa?


March NEWS: Where in the Wonderful World is Lisa?

When this newsletter publishes, I will be in the South Pacific with little to no Wi-Fi! I want to say thank you for your support of me on my journey with We Said Go Travel! In 2017, I have written for Delta Sky Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Sierra Club Magazine and am currently on assignment for Smithsonian.  I have been working to build We Said Go Travel one step, one word, one video, one day at a time. I now have over one million video views and many print and online articles. I am grateful that you have been walking this road with me.

Where did I travel in March?

Where in the world is Lisa?I accepted a challenge to ski at all three Vail Resorts in Lake Tahoe, California as part of my 50 new things before I am 50. I have two stories about it for Sheknows:

I loved Kirkwood, Heavenly and Northstar for different reasons and cannot wait to go back. See all four of my videos below.

I am currently on assignment in the Solomon Islands. I promise to share video and photos from my adventures as soon as I am back in the land of Wi-Fi.

Newest Videos:

  • I was invited to give a talk about travel but don’t worry if you missed it! CLICK HERE to see the video!
  • At Utah’s Olympic Park, I rode the Winter Comet Bobsled. I did not chicken out but I did think about it! See us going 65mph: Watch it here on my Instagram!
  • I met Cindy Crawford at Umami Burger! For my 50 before 50 bucketlist: PHOTO with a SUPERMODEL! See it here!

Where can you find my 640+ travel videos? Here are links to my video channels on YouTube, Amazon Fire Tv, Amazon Short Video and Roku Player. I hope you enjoy my “This is What it is Like” Episodes!

Recent Articles written by or featuring Lisa:

Travel Writing Award:

Thank you to everyone who has participated in our We Said Go Travel Competitions! The 2016 Gratitude We Said Go Travel Writing Award entries are currently being published. The Summer Independence Award will open in May 2017. I have been honored to publish nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries with the dozen writing competitions I have hosted on We Said Go Travel. Thank you for all the support.

As my fortune cookie said: “Pack your bags. You are bound for an exciting destination.”  I will leave you with an Irish story for St. Patrick’s Day. Thank you for your support. Lisa

This “Irish Blessing” was shared with me on St. Patrick’s day 2017
His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.
 
There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death. 
 
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. 
 
‘I want to repay you,’ said the nobleman. ‘You saved my son’s life.’

‘No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,’ the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel.
 
‘Is that your son?’ the nobleman asked.

‘Yes,’ the farmer replied proudly. 
  
‘I’ll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.’ And that he did.
 
Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin. 
  
Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. 
 
The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill … His son’s name?
 
Sir Winston Churchill 
 
Someone once said:  What goes around comes around.  
  •  Work like you don’t need the money.
  •  Love like you’ve never been hurt.
  •  Dance like nobody’s watching.
  •  Sing like nobody’s listening.
  •  Live like it’s Heaven on Earth. 
AN IRISH FRIENDSHIP WISH: 
  • May there always be work for your hands to do;
  • May your purse always hold a coin or two;
  • May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
  • May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
  • May the hand of a friend always be near you;
  • May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Newest Videos from Lisa and We Said Go Travel: Lisa Niver in Lake Tahoe skiing:

Thank you for reading and participating with We Said GO Travel.

Discover more on my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookTwitter, Pinterest, YouTube.

Where in the World is Lisa?

Ethnic cleansing? Really, Netanyahu?


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a new PR strategy that involves posting clever YouTube videos.   

Except exactly one day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video declaring that removing Jews from their homes in the West Bank is “ethnic cleansing,” his minister of defense, Avigdor Lieberman, announced he was removing Jews from their homes in the West Bank.

As the very much missed Jon Stewart would say: “Wha-wha WHAT?”

Lieberman is no Peace Now-nik. But the Israeli High Court ruled that the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona must be evacuated, and Lieberman said he would follow the court’s ruling. Israel, he said, is a nation of laws.

So this is interesting. Assume, one day, there is a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Will Israeli families be made to abandon their settlements because the Palestinians are engaged in ethnic cleansing, or because the Israelis want to abide by international law? 

Wait, don’t answer. There’s more.

Because the very idea that the prime minister asserts — that the Palestinians want a Judenrein Palestine — is debatable.

In 2009, then-Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad spoke at a conference in Aspen, Colo. Asked if Jews would be able to live in a future Palestine, here’s what he said:

“In fact the kind of state that we want to have, that we aspire to have, is one that would definitely espouse high values of tolerance, co-existence, mutual respect and deference to all cultures, religions. No discrimination whatsoever, on any basis whatsoever. Jews to the extent they choose to stay and live in the State of Palestine will enjoy those rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the state of Israel,” Fayyad said.

Oh, you say, but that’s Salam Fayyad. He’s like the Palestinian Elijah — more aspiration than reality. Except here’s Hanan Ashrawi speaking to the Times of Israel, reiterating what many Palestinians have told various media over the years:

“Any person, be he Jewish, Christian or Buddhist, will have the right to apply for Palestinian citizenship. Our basic law prohibits discrimination based on race or ethnicity.”

The Palestinians refuse to allow Israeli settlers to stay as Israelis in a future state, because they see the settlements as illegal, as do the majority of international bodies. But if the settlers want to stay as Jews loyal to Palestine, these leaders are saying “welcome.” 

“If Netanyahu argues that these positions are against Jews, we say to him that two Jews were elected in 2009 as members of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council: Ilan Halevi and Uri Davis,” senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said to the Times of Israel in 2014. “Our position is against settlements, considering them illegal and contrary to all international laws.”

So it turns out that Bibi’s very premise, that the Palestinians want Jews out, isn’t exactly true. A two-state solution would end Israeli sovereignty and control in Palestine, not necessarily a Jewish presence. It would separate the two sides legally, but not ethnically. Jews would be able to live and prosper in Ramallah. Palestinians would be able to live and prosper in Haifa — as tens of thousands of them already do. A two-state solution is not ethnic cleansing. It is border-setting.

The alternative to that solution is one that I can’t imagine Bibi really wants, though more and more Palestinians (and a few Jews) do. They want one state, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.  And within that one state, they want each person to have one vote.   

Just to be clear on the details, that land, comprising the pre- and post-1967 borders of Israel, currently is home to 5.8 million Arabs and 6.2 million Jews, according to Arnon Soffer, a geography professor and one of the founders of the University of Haifa.

If Bibi wants to guarantee the rights of Israelis to live anywhere on that land, now would be a good time to say so, before Russian President Vladimir Putin goes through all the trouble of hosting a peace conference. In short order, Israel would be a very different state than what its founders intended, or it would cease being a democracy.

The late Israeli prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin thought it was best to divide the land, as did every Republican president and presidential candidate until, you know, Donald Trump. 

The rule of law matters to Israel —  or else why evacuate Amona?  And international law, demographics, security and economics matter, or else why evacuate Israelis from Gaza, or maintain Oslo?

The point is, YouTube is easy; peace is hard.


ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism and @RobEshman.

New York rabbi claims only 1 million halachic Jews killed in Holocaust


A New York-based haredi Orthodox rabbi who has posted thousands of popular outreach lectures online said only about 1 million halachic Jews died in the Holocaust.

Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi in a video posted Tuesday on his YouTube channel, cited high assimilation rates in Europe before World War II to make his claim that 80 percent of those identified as Jews killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust were not Jewish according to halachah, or Jewish law.

“If you look at the percent of assimilation that there was in Europe, which already reached 80 percent, it’s reasonable to assume that 80 percent of the 6 million were not Jews,” said Mizrachi, who teaches at a yeshiva in Monsey.

“The truth is that not even 1 million Jews were killed. Not that this is, God forbid, an insignificant number, it’s massive, but there is a difference between 1 million and 6 million.”

Police detain guest from wedding video celebrating Duma attack


Police have detained at least one guest at a wedding where Jewish revelers were captured on video celebrating the deaths of members of a Palestinian family in a firebombing.

The man detained Tuesday has been identified in the Hebrew-language media as a resident of Kfar Tapuach, a West Bank settlement, and a friend of the groom.

On Tuesday, the Times of Israel reported that two of the wedding guests were detained.

The video, which was filmed at a Jerusalem wedding earlier in the month and released Dec. 23 on Israel’s Channel 10, shows friends of the suspected assailants in the July attack on a home in the Palestinian village of Duma that killed three members of the Dawabshe family — a toddler and his parents.

The party-goers are stabbing a photo of the Palestinian family and wave knives, rifles, pistols and Molotov cocktails. They also chant the words to a song that includes a verse from Judges 16:28, in which Samson says, “Let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” The crowd substitutes “Palestinians” for Philistines.

The youths in the video have been condemned from across Israel’s political and religious spectrum.

Police in the West Bank said last week that an investigation was launched several days ago “into the many serious offenses displayed in the wedding video,” Ynet reported. The investigation is being handled by the Nationalistically Motivated Crimes Unit of the West Bank police.

WATCH: Searching for hummus in a tense Old City of Jerusalem


Harvey Stein is an Israeli-American filmmaker living in Jerusalem. His feature documentary “A Third Way – Settlers and Palestinians as Neighbors” will be released in February, 2016. You can find out more about his work at: www.jerusalemny.com/athirdway

Video shows huge explosion that rocks Tianjin in northern China


A huge explosion hit an industrial area in the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin late on Wednesday evening, triggering a blast wave felt several kilometers away and injuring at least 50 people, domestic media reported.

State broadcaster China Central Television reported that the blast had erupted in a shipment of explosives at around 11.30 pm local time and that an unknown number of people had been injured, the South China Morning Post said on its website.

Videos of the explosion showed flames lighting up the night sky and state-run news agency Xinhua quoted residents in nearby districts as saying the blast had shattered windows. Citing a local hospital, Xinhua said more than 50 people had been injured.

He witnessed — and filmed — the horror of the Holocaust


In early April 1945, Arthur Mainzer, barely 22, was a United States Army Air Forces cameraman assigned to documenting the war in Europe; he’d been serving for three years, and, so far, World War II had not been a horrific experience for him. In fact, it had been exciting. He’d had adventures, suffered no injuries and fallen in love. Already, the Allies were sensing victory, the Nazi military was clearly in its death rattle, and Mainzer was looking for the war to be over so he could marry Germaine, the French woman he’d fallen for, and bring her back with him to the States.

Mainzer, who is Catholic, was born in Canada, and when he was very young, his family moved to Chicago, where he grew up in a neighborhood with people of various races and religions, including Jews. As a youth, he kept up with the war news, and in 1942, soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces. 

He’d been a film hobbyist in high school, so the Army sent him to technical school in Denver, where he learned the ins and outs of film cameras. He was then assigned to a unit in Culver City, working on military training films with an actor named Ronald Reagan.

By November 1943, Mainzer was assigned to be a combat cameraman in Europe. There, in a film unit headed by Capt. Ellis Carter, he accompanied many bombing missions; archival footage of his unit’s work shows bombs, sometimes as tracer-like streaks of light, hitting — or missing — their target.

In June 1944, soon after D-Day, Mainzer’s unit filmed bombing runs in Normandy and beyond. In the spring of 1945, three weeks before victory was declared in Europe, Mainzer was called upon to handle a special mission: He and his superior officer, Carter, were told to drive deep into Germany to a town called Weimar, where, they were told, a nearby labor camp had just been liberated. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had ordered the soldiers in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army — who had entered that camp the day before — not to touch anything until the area was thoroughly filmed, and that was the job assigned to Mainzer and Carter. 


“It took a long while for me to get over this. It’s something you never want to see. … You never want to see again.” — Holocaust cameraman Arthur Mainzer

So the two, traveling by jeep, made the six-hour trip across Germany. As they drove, they talked about technical matters: They discussed how to handle their recently acquired 16-millimeter color Kodachrome camera, and they talked about their lack of a tripod, which would force them to do hand-held shots using heavy rolls of 100-foot film, whose weight would make it difficult for them to brace themselves.

On April 15, 1945, the two cameramen arrived at Buchenwald. Nothing could have prepared them for what they saw — and smelled and felt — when they stepped into the camp. Just inside, they were greeted by a large sign that read: “JEDEM DAS SEINE,” a German expression that literally means, “To each his own,” but really means: “Everyone gets what he deserves.”

In the film “Shooting War,” Mainzer is quoted on camera: “As a soldier in the American army, I had no knowledge of these [concentration] camps. I had not heard anything about it. It was horrible. There were bodies stacked up like cordwood.”

 

Mainzer, now 92, lives in Agoura Hills, north of Los Angeles, and his heart-wrenching concentration camp footage captured that April day and afterward went on to be used as damning evidence during the Nuremberg Trials. It has been archived by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Veterans History Project and has appeared in at least two documentaries: the recently aired “Night Will Fall” and “Shooting War” from 2000, both of which include on-camera interviews with Mainzer. A 20-minute YouTube clip of camp horrors that he filmed has been viewed more than 25,000 times.

Today, Mainzer is gentle, good-humored and still — as the Irish say — a fine figure of a man. He was friendly and forthcoming during a visit by a Journal reporter, but he suffers from the early effects of Alzheimer’s disease, which makes it hard for him to give coherent answers to questions. Fortunately, he also gave interviews years ago, some of which are in the public record, and those accounts, along with the interview done this past week by the Journal, provide a personal dimension to the shattering images he captured on film.

“There was an awful stench,” he told the Journal of that first shocking visit to Buchenwald. “I shot almost all the footage because Carter just couldn’t do it — it was too much for him. He was sick; he couldn’t stand the sight of it, so he loaded the camera, and I shot. I didn’t feel so good either, especially in the close-ups.”

 Scenes captured by young combat cameraman Mainzer immediately following the Allies’ liberation of Buchenwald

Mainzer’s footage shows huge numbers of dead bodies, skin-and-bone, piled haphazardly on a flatbed truck or lying on the ground. For each shot, he focused the camera on a single scene, as steady as he could for a long time, as much as 25 to 30 seconds for a single image. As the camera focuses on, or pans slowly across, bodies of people who have starved to death, 30 seconds can seem an eternity.

Then, often, the camera zooms in for a close-up. Even now, some 70 years since it was made, to watch the film is still unbearable.

Just as Mainzer was shooting, Eisenhower ordered the Third Army liberators to go into nearby Weimar and gather all the adult residents. In an interview carried out by the USC-Shoah Foundation, Leo Hymes, an American soldier from Idaho who helped liberate the camp, describes how he and his fellow GIs brought the local Germans into Buchenwald to witness what was there. “We marched everyone in that town through the camp, and we made sure they dug the graves,” Hymes said.

Mainzer filmed that event, too, in color. “German civilians from Weimar were paraded through a tour of the camp to show them the atrocities, to show them what the Germans had done,” Mainzer said in his interview in “Shooting War.” “Many of these locals wouldn’t even look at the … bodies. Some were crying or had their mouth and nose covered with a handkerchief. … In the film, you can see that they did this [only] because they were required to; they weren’t too interested in looking at the atrocity.”

“In my mind’s eye there’s an image burned,” Hymes said in the Shoah Foundation footage, “of this big, strapping woman in an SS uniform, with her sensible shoes, carrying this broken, naked skeleton of a body over her shoulders, with her mouth covered with her handkerchief as she takes this body to be dumped into the mass grave on top of thousands of other bodies.”

Benjamin Ferencz is a Jewish, Hungarian-born American lawyer sent by Patton to investigate Buchenwald after its liberation. He, too, was there when Mainzer was filming the camp. In Ferencz’s interview for “When Night Falls,” he says: “It was like peering into hell.” As an eyewitness to the horror, Ferencz would later serve as one of the prosecutors at Nuremberg.

There are images that, once seen, can never be unseen. Near the beginning of Mainzer’s YouTube footage, a dark-bearded man lies on the ground on his back, his head turned to one side. His eye sockets appear empty. His arms are placed over his chest in such a way that the fingers of his thin and delicate hands are laced, palms on his chest. A close-up of his forearm reveals a large “slave labor” tattoo: 126747. 

The camera pans across piles and piles of twisted, emaciated bodies. The effects of disease, torture and starvation are obvious.

In an interview for the Veterans History Project, Mainzer described the scene: There “were areas where bodies were stacked up; they didn’t have time to burn them or bury them because the Allies were approaching. The Germans were getting ready to cremate some, but they didn’t have the time; they could hear the warfront approaching, so the SS guys [who ran] the camps just took off.”

The footage also shows human beings barely hanging on to life, some dressed in the now-familiar uniforms with wide vertical stripes. One man holds his hands clasped in front of him, as if in prayer, but the gesture is clearly meant as a thank-you to the liberators. There’s also a young man, legs much too weak and withered to hold him up, leaning against a doorway. And there’s a 4-year-old child amid the silent color footage, trying to smile — but the only expression he can manage is tears.

Marty Kaplan: What matters to me & why


I began making a list of what matters to me. Intellectual curiosity. Climate change. The First Amendment. My family. Giving back. One friend said to me, I know what I’d say: Money. Another friend told me: Those talks can be surprisingly honest.

That got me thinking. What’s the most honest answer I could give?

Right then, I knew. I had to come out. I had to say a three-letter word, beginning with G.

God.

For an academic, saying something good about God can be one of the last great taboos. So let’s break it. I’m talking about my relationship with God and no-God. You know that campaign, “We keep kosher at home,” my mother explained, whispering, so the other Jewish people at Ming’s eating trefe wouldn’t hear.

“But Rabbi Engel says—”

“Don’t tell Rabbi Engel.”

“But why—”

“That’s how we do it in our family.”

Yes, she admitted, later that night, sitting on my bed, after I had done with crying, yes, the Torah does contain 613 commandments, but only certain kinds of Jews obey them all. Fanatics. Our kind, the people of Schuyler Avenue, have made a little accommodation to modern life. We don’t live in the old country any more.

Thus was I introduced to the notion that the Torah was more like a buffet of options than an all-or-nothing proposition. My mother saw no slippery slope between her selective enforcement and moral anarchy. As long as people like us kept certain key commandments inviolable — Thou shalt not marry a shiksa, a Gentile girl, for example — our Jewish identity was intact.

I felt betrayed. It seemed to me that if one rule could be broken, all of them could. And so, perhaps inevitably, I rebelled. As my vision widened, as teachers and books and television and other kids ventilated my thinking, as puberty arrived, I began to question everything.

I confronted Rabbi Engel. If man descended from algae, how could Genesis be true? He patiently explained that some things — the idea of a “day,” for example — need not be understood literally. But Rabbi, I pressed, if one part of the Torah can be explained away as a metaphor, why can’t any other portion be waived as well?

It was like fighting with my parents about keeping kosher, only now it was the rabbi himself playing loosey-goosey with absolutes, and this time I felt not betrayal, but vindication.

I became the Voltaire of Schuyler Avenue, skewering everything on my skepticism. If God is good, I asked anyone who would listen, why did he let the six million die? If I can pick and choose among the commandments — if I’m free to eat shellfish — why isn’t another man free to murder? The answers confirmed my suspicion that religion was a con job, an iconoclasm also spurred by my devotion to Mad Magazine, the South Park of its time.

In high school, in AP physics and chemistry I learned the real rules that governed the universe: not scripture, but science. In AP biology I learned that life randomly emerged from an organic soup stewing for a billion years — no Creator required, thank you very much. In AP history I learned how much blood has been stupidly spilled in the name of an imaginary Deity.

By the time I arrived at Harvard, though I continued to eat matzoh on Passover and fast on Yom Kippur, these were acts of solidarity with my cultural and genetic heritage, not worship of my people’s God.

Harvard, from which I would graduate summa cum laude in molecular biology, completed my secularization. This is not a criticism. If Harvard had made me a more spiritual person, it would have failed in its promise to socialize me to the values of the educated elite.

Those values were, and are, secular. They enshrine reason, analysis, objectivity. The advance of civilization lies in the questioning of received wisdom, the surfacing of hidden assumptions, the exposure of implicit biases.

This view is not the product of a left-wing conspiracy to undermine traditional values; it is the inevitable consequence of an Enlightenment that began with Galileo, Descartes, and Newton… and a modernity launched by Darwin, Marx, and Freud… and a post-modernity postproduced by Lévi-Strauss, Foucault, and Derrida.

The prized act of mind in the Academy is the laying bare of hidden agendas. Nothing in culture is neutral. Nothing is what it seems. The educated person knows that love is really about libido, that power is really about class, that religion is really about fantasy, that altruism is really about self-interest.

At bottom, all values are relative to their communities. At bottom, everything is political. At bottom, everything is contingent, driven by the mores of time and place, reducible to its origins in evolution and history.

In every field, this view was being pursued to its postmodern conclusion; all the leading theorists were busy committing epistemological suicide. Look at the ideas that bit the dust: in aesthetics, the notion that there are objective standards of good and bad; in literary criticism, that there are right and wrong ways to interpret a text; in law, that justice is beyond politics; in psychiatry, that there are fixed distinctions between normalcy and madness; in anthropology, between savage and civilized; in art, between high and low.

The project of thinking, I came to understand, was to dismantle its own foundations.

Even science itself was under siege. The great achievement of the philosophy of science, I learned, was to reveal that science is saturated with politics. When scientists find evidence that conflicts with a paradigm, and they have to choose between discarding the evidence or discarding the paradigm, they make that choice not by applying objective rules, but by deciding who among their peers they trust.

By my last year in college, I was no longer a scientist. I was searching for answers elsewhere. In Dostoevsky, in Nietzsche, in artists who had looked deeply into the human condition, what they found, what I found, was the Abyss. We are alone. Life is absurd. We shiver in the pointless void, haplessly contesting the meaninglessness of our fate. Our yearning for purpose is doomed. It is our burden to live in a time when our minds have deprived us of our capacity for soothing self-delusion. In other words, everything sucks. In other words, nihilism.

A nihilist who doesn’t kill himself is lacking in followthrough, but not in analysis. Though I had thought myself out onto an intellectual ledge, I didn’t jump. I kept going — as many people keep going — by making an armistice with the ways of the world. Call it nihilism lite. It sounds like this:

If everything does come down to politics, it’s still better to know that, so that we can fight for our side’s values, than to pretend otherwise, and be the victim of their side’s values posing as transcendent norms. Even if love can be reduced to evolutionary biology and neurotransmitters, it can still feel like it makes the world go round. Even if values aren’t God-given, moral conduct is still possible. We abide by Kant’s categorical imperative: The rules we should follow are the ones we’d want to be universal laws.

This works. It’s practical. It helps countless people get out of bed in the morning.

But it is an armistice, not a peace. Existential desperation is never far away. It is difficult to face mortality without God. It is hard to tell children that the universe is indifferent to them. Even for the most fortunate, it is painful to confront the night thought, Is this all there is?

No wonder religious fundamentalism is booming. Fundamentalists know who they are and where they fit. They have no difficulty recognizing evil. They are confident that theirs is the one true way. We have Kant; they have God. They live by the literal word of the Bible; we live by its poetry. They are commanded; we are merely moved.

But fundamentalism is not a rational choice. It is not willed by the intellect; it is a mysterious visitor. I have often daydreamed about that visitor. If the God of the Lubavichers or the Satmars were to appear to me and demand obedience, I suspect I would gladly give it. But I am no more capable of partaking in Hasidic ecstasy than I am of heeding the biblical injunction against mixing linen and wool. It is not an option for me. Once the mind thinks some thoughts, it cannot unthink them.

This is the sadness at the heart of secular lives. No one wants to live in a pointless, chaotic cosmos, but that is the one that science has given us. We may yearn for the divine, but hipster neo-Dadaism is the best we can do. Everything’s ironic. Everything’s a joke. But inside, it can feel awful. The things you want a God for — an afterlife, a comfort, a commander — seem unavailable.

That’s where I thought I would spend my life: a cultural Jew, a closet nihilist, searching despite myself for something transcendent to fill the hole where God was.

I found that something in my dentist’s chair.

When he told me I ground my teeth, I denied it. I didn’t think of myself as unduly stressed; I had long ago decided that life is a roller coaster. Stress comes with the territory, and you deal with it, even thrive on it. That I was grinding my teeth suggested I was kidding myself. A part of me, beyond my conscious control, was having a hard time, and taking it out on my molars. Wearing a night guard would be like admitting defeat — letting my unconscious torpedo my equanimity.

“You’d be surprised how many of my patients use them,” my dentist said. “A lot of people hold tension in their jaw. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” I imagined myself reaching to my night table for my night guard. It made me think of the false teeth my Russian grandmother kept in a jelly glass by her bedside.

“Are there any alternatives?” I asked him. He pessimistically suggested meditation.

What appealed to me about meditation was its apparent religious neutrality. You don’ t have to believe in anything; all you have to do is do it. I had worried that reaping its benefits would require some faith I could only fake, but I was happy to learn that 90 percent of meditation was about showing up.

The spirituality of it ambushed me. I saw no visions, heard no voices, felt no caressing hand. But unwittingly I was engaging in a practice that has been at the heart of mysticism for millenniums. I’d read that people of all faiths had learned to meditate without violating their personal beliefs. At the time, I took this to mean that there was nothing inherently religious about meditation, which suited me just fine.

I was wrong. The reason that meditation doesn’t conflict with religious beliefs, whatever they are, is that it shares a highest common denominator with all of them.

To separate 20 minutes from the day with silence and intention is to pray, even if there’s no one to pray to. To step from the river of thought, to escape from monkey mind even for a moment, is to surrender to a transcendent realm. To be awakened to consciousness empty of content; to be thunderstruck by the mystery that there is something, rather than nothing; to be mindful, to be present; to be here, now: this is the road less traveled, the path of the pilgrim, the quest.

When I am asked whether I believe in God, I say that belief is the wrong word to use. I experience God. God may be the wrong word to use, too.

What I experience — no, not always, and sometimes not at all — is known to every mystic tradition. It has been called Spirit, Being, the All. It is what the Kabbalah calls Ayin, Nothingness, No-Thingness. It’s ineffable. It’s why Jewish mystics call God ha-zeh — the This. You can point to it, but you can’t describe it. You can sing it, but you can’t say it. It is better conveyed by silence than by language, by dance than by liturgy. And it is the experience at the heart of all contemplative practices, whether you’re looking for it or not.

The All is a long way from Newark, and silence is a long way from Harvard. As am I.

I used to think scientific materialism was the apex of human evolution. I used to think nihilism was the tragic price of progress. I used to think the soul was just a metaphor, a primitive name for dopamine. Now I think thinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

What matters to me and why?

What’s mattered most to me in my life is… wrestling with that very question: What matters?

And why? Why does wrestling with that question matter to me so much?

I can’t help it. I have to. That’s the thing about experiencing the ineffable. That’s the thing about the This.


Marty Kaplan holds the Norman Lear chair at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  Reach him at martyk@jewishjournal.com.

The best of Jon Stewart’s Jewish jokes


With the announcement that Jon Stewart is leaving 'The Daily Show', we take a moment to pause and recall his finest moments as the de facto CEO of Jewish humor in America.  There is so much we will miss.  First, his sharp interviews (not with celebrities, with authors and politicians), as well as his ability to call TV media and politicians to task, to offer us all a unique and alternative view of the news even as it occurred.  But just as much, we will miss his wit, his snark, his generosity, curiosity, humanity, mugging, voices, New Jersey tough guy impression, and occasional giggle.  Stewart’s departure leaves a big Jewish-sized hole in late night entertainment —  it was always a pleasure when his Jewish jokes acted as a dog whistle to the two percent of America who really got them.  See the clip below for his “Best Of” Jewish Jokes.

Clip Bonus:  If you look carefully in one of the clips, you’ll see President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharing a matzoh. Oh, happier days….

Stabbing tutorial being shared on Palestinian social media


Palestinian social media networks are showing a video on proper stabbing techniques.

The video began circulating on Saturday, the Israeli news website NRG reported.

Two masked men in black wearing black-and-white checkered keffiyehs present demonstrations on how to turn the knife after stabbing, as well as how to stab quickly and walk away.

At the end, in Arabic writing, the video says, “What are you waiting for? Rise up and stab.”

On Friday, two Israel Police officers were stabbed near the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis: The First 80 Years [DOCUMENTARY]


Rabbi Harold Schulweis, regarded as the most influential synagogue leader of his generation, died at his home after a long struggle with heart disease. He was 89.

Read his full obituary here.

WATCH LIVE: Alan Gross gives statement on release


ZOA presses Nike on refusal to address video ad with anti-Semitic overtones


After initially raising concern on the issue this summer, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is continuing to press the Nike footwear and apparel giant to remedy its promotion of a pre-World Cup animated video whose content has what critics call anti-Semitic overtones.

ZOA initially wrote to Nike on July 2, and after receiving what it considered an unsatisfactory response, sent a Sept. 18 follow-up letter to Nike that has yet to be answered. While Nike has defended the advertisement (called “The Last Game”) based on arguments that it had no intention to offend Jews and that the ad is no longer appearing on television, ZOA is asking the company to publicly apologize for the video, remove it from the public domain, and take other steps that would fall in line with how Nike addressed a past episode that offended the Muslim community.

“The video—which sends the message to ‘Risk Everything’—features animated international soccer stars competing against evil clones who have taken over the sport,” ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and Susan Tuchman, director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, wrote in their most recent letter to Nike. “These evil clones are wearing uniforms with a logo virtually identical to the Jewish Star of David. Star-of-David-like images are also depicted throughout the video, including a white rectangle with a Star-of-David likeness in the center, strongly resembling the Israeli flag (without the stripes). Whether intended or not, Nike is promoting a message that is deeply offensive to the Jewish community—that Jews and Israel are evil and that one should ‘risk everything’ to defeat them.”

Others who have objected to the Nike video include the Israeli Knesset, the World Zionist Organization, and general viewers.

In their July letter, the ZOA officials wrote to Nike Chairman Philip H. Knight and President & CEO Mark Parker that “some of the animated soccer stars in the video—i.e., the ‘good guys’—are wearing shirts with a ‘Fly Emirates’ logo and a ‘Qatar Airways’ logo, which must mean that these Arab airlines co-sponsored the video. It is no secret that the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have a deeply troubling history of anti-Semitism and hostility to Israel.”

“No one should wrongly interpret the Nike video as a sign that Nike is anti-Semitic,” the ZOA letter stated. “That would not be good for the Jewish people. That would not be good for Nike.”

Nike issued two responses to ZOA’s first letter. In the first, on July 15, it wrote to Klein that it would forward his comments “to our Advertising Department for their consideration.” Then on July 28, Pierre-Laurent Baudey—Nike’s vice president of global football brand marketing—wrote to Klein and Tuchman that the logo shown on the clones’ player uniforms is a soccer ball, and that its resemblance of any other image is “entirely coincidental and unintentional.” Baudey wrote that Nike “never intended any disrespect” and that it understands “the concerns of the Jewish community.” The ad is “no longer being run on TV or in cinemas,” stated Baudey, who did not describe any actions Nike plans to take regarding the video.

“We have raised your concerns with our creative teams and Nike will be more vigilant in our oversight of graphics and images used in our campaigns,” wrote Baudey. “In this instance we can confirm our designers were focused on producing a graphic that represented a football and that there was no ill intent.”

In response, Klein and Tuchman wrote Baudey in a Sept. 18 letter that they were “taken aback” by his “indifferent response” to their concerns about the ad’s anti-Semitic content. 

In both of their letters, ZOA officials proposed that Nike take the following steps to remedy the situation: issue a public apology to the Jewish community; remove the ad from the public domain; permanently cease using any image or symbol that resembles the Star of David or any other Jewish symbol; implement organizational changes in its design department to tighten scrutiny of logo designs; investigate how an image of the Star of David came to be used; and issue a public statement that delineates “all the remedial steps that have been and will be taken to remedy the harm that Nike has caused.”

In 1997, when the Muslim community objected to a logo on a line of Nike sneakers because the logo was perceived to resemble the word “Allah,” Nike publicly apologized to Muslims for any unintentional offense, agreed to recall all products carrying the design, introduced training for Nike designers in Islamic imagery, and agreed to investigate how the design came about.

Going even further, Nike agreed to build three playgrounds for Islamic communities in the U.S., at locations determined by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

ZOA said that while it isn’t asking for the construction of any playgrounds in Jewish communities, it expects Nike “to show the same concern about having offended the Jewish community, as it showed when the Muslim community was offended by Nike’s actions.” ZOA told Nike it would give the company 15 days to respond to the Sept. 18 letter, which to date has not been answered.

“We urge Nike to stop treating this matter without the sensitivity and concern it deserves,” Klein and Tuchman wrote. “Otherwise, we will be compelled to notify the public by articles, letters, and even advertisements, and to call on consumers to stop purchasing Nike products.”

Responding to Nike’s defense that the logo on the clones’ uniforms was intended as a soccer ball rather than a Jewish star, Klein told JNS.org, “If it’s readily recognized as a Jewish star, it’s a Jewish star. … Most people [who see the ad] will think it’s a Jewish star.”

“You would have never seen this [kind of offensive ad] a year or two ago in America,” he added.

Nike did not return a request for comment from JNS.org.

Who wants to become a Yiddish maven?


Teaching Torah with videos to appeal to younger students


Rabbi David Fohrman has a passion for teaching Torah to the Jewish people. He has taught at Johns Hopkins University, written a book about narratives in the book of Genesis, and was a lead writer and editor for ArtScroll’s Talmud translation project.

But after a while, he realized he wasn’t going to reach the younger generation if he didn’t meet them on their level, so he started creating videos on biblical topics.

Fohrman taught himself how to create animated, narrated videos, and in 2011 formed Aleph Beta Academy, through which he released the videos. The academy, which is sponsored by the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Studies, today has 1,300 individual paid subscribers, along with more than 200 schools worldwide that watch his videos, learn through his lesson plans and teach his methodology of exploring the sacred text.

“I think the Jewish community has always embraced new efforts [and] new technology in its efforts to convey Torah to a new generation,” Fohrman said. “We did it with the printing press centuries ago. Commentators didn’t shy away from publishing books, insisting instead on sticking with quills and ink. … I suppose you could always cry foul, and suggest that ancient wisdom should not be dressed in new clothes. But I don’t buy into that notion.”

Aleph Beta’s video curriculum is used by schools in Los Angeles, New York, Israel and other Jewish communities around the globe. It’s composed of videos that teach about the holidays, the weekly parasha (Torah portion), the Ten Commandments, prayer, and other biblical themes and stories.

For example, a video lesson on Tisha b’Av uses the holiday and the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza to illustrate, among other things, the concept of “baseless hatred.” The video has multiple sections, with study points for each, and is accompanied by a 32-page teachers guide as well as student worksheets. 

The final part of the lesson is designed to promote students’ self-reflection on the topic, by advising teachers to ask students when and how they get mad and what they can do to control that anger.

At L.A.’s Yeshiva High Tech School, which was founded in 2012 as a blended-learning high school that individuates learning primarily through the use of technology, teacher Samantha Hauptman utilizes Aleph Beta for her ninth- and 10th-grade girls. She finds that it gives students a chance to dive into Torah study differently than they have before.

“A lot of times, kids have learned these biblical stories [but] they haven’t gone that deep,” Hauptman said. “This curriculum allows them to make connections they haven’t made in the past. It enriches their understanding of Humash [the Five Books of Moses]. … It opens up doors that have never been opened before.”

Hauptman said her students aren’t the only ones benefiting from the videos. “I probably learned as much as my students last year because of [the video lessons],” she said.

Ruthie Matanky, Judaic Studies teacher at Shalhevet School, has been following Forhman’s teachings for the past 3 1/2 years. Once she heard about Aleph Beta, she starting using it for her ninth-, 10th- and 12th-graders. She either watches the videos at home, and then formulates lesson plans and quizzes around them, or shows the weekly parasha videos in class. The lessons are “a really accessible way to learn really deep concepts. When I watch the videos, I can take notes at the same time. It’s a little faster than reading a book,” she said.

Compared to using textbooks, Matanky said the videos are “something that students can connect to a lot more. [They’re] for different types of learners, too. Some students are really great visual learners. … It’s another option that can widen the spectrum of how we learn and teach in the classroom.”

“The people, the Jewish People, are meant to have a romance with the book,” Fohrman said. “We’re not supposed to be able to stop thinking about it, like a lover doesn’t stop thinking of his or her beloved. We are supposed to have a passionate relationship to Torah. But all romances need to guard themselves from going stale. We are trying to bring new passion into the romance between the people and the book.” 

Hamas releases video of tunnel infiltration


On Monday, July 28, five IDF soldiers were killed at Kibbutz Nahal Oz by Hamas terrorists, who infiltrated a tunnel network and filmed the attack. This is the video. 

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

President Obama on Gaza: ‘Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks’


VIDEO: Hamas terrorists killed by IDF on Israel’s Zikim beach


Israeli soldiers killed four Palestinian gunmen who slipped into southern Israel by sea from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the army said.

Hamas, the dominant force in Gaza, claimed responsibility for the infiltration at Zikim beach, which occurred as Israel bombed the Palestinian enclave with the stated purpose of quelling cross-border rocket fire.

Hamas said it was in telephone contact with the commander of the squad that stormed Zikim and that he was exchanging fire with the army.

Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, said four gunmen were killed by combined fire from troops, the air force and the navy. Israeli forces were still searching the area. He did not say whether the gunmen had swum in or landed by boat.

Lerner said an Israeli soldier had been wounded in the incident, which he described as rare. The Israeli military keeps Gaza under tight naval cordon.

Watching footage from the Israel-Gaza battlefield [VIDEO]


Israel, as always, fights its battles on two fronts: The actual front, now in Gaza and in the skies over Israel, and the public relations battlefield. Today, that means social media, too.

As in past conflicts, the Israel Defense Forces is posting footage from its battles in and around Gaza on its YouTube channel and its Twitter feed.

Here are some of the latest videos:

Palestinians mass on the roof of a Gaza building to thwart an Israeli airstrike by acting as human shields:

Israel kills infiltrators along its coast:

Hamas targets are killed after entering Israel from the sea:

Katy Perry, bar mitzvah DJ?


Katy Perry has released a new promo video for her new single, “Birthday,” that features the singer as a mistress of disguise.

Among other birthday-related professionals — an aged dancer named Goldie (for her “golden nuggets”) and a Craigslist birthday clown — Perry dresses as “Yosef Shulem,” a bar mitzvah DJ who has a penchant for telling offensive rabbi jokes.

Pop culture mavens who caught wind of the ire Perry drew after dressing as a geisha at the American Music Awards might have expected the pop star to learn a little about cultural (in)appropriation. But there she is, wearing a kippah, a Jew-fro, and some hastily applied facial hair.

Maybe Perry is just riding the wave of other famous bar mitzvah videos.  But the kippah-slapping, gravel-voiced Yosef Shulem character is enough to give us pause — or maybe refrain from downloading her new single.

“Did you hear about the rabbi who gave out free circumcisions?” Perry-as-Shulem asks. “He worked for tips!”

Watch the video here:

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