December 17, 2018

Dating 101: An Update

While at the movies this week, I met a lovely woman named Ida. She is an avid reader of mine here at the Jewish Journal, and shared she was wondering how my dating life was since I had not written about it lately. I appreciate her for not only reading, but for being in my corner and wishing the best for me. Ida said she was certain I was going to meet my bashert, which was nice to hear. Since I know you are reading Ida, you are fantastic and I loved meeting you.

 

I’ve been writing here for almost a decade, and to be honest with you, I sometimes forget anyone other than my family is reading! I have met wonderful people through this work, and have built a community of friends though the Jewish Journal who are kind, funny, wise, opinionated, political, compassionate, and loving when it comes to not only what I share about my life, but in how they share their lives in return. Having you read is a blessing I am deeply, deeply thankful for.

 

As for how my dating life goes, I love it that so many people are interested. I have shared the good, the bad, and the ugly here, and am always comforted by your kindness. Over the years of my sharing all the details of my dating life, we have laughed together, cried together, shook our heads together, got angry together, were heartbroken together, and rolled our eyes together when we discovered we dated the same men! It has been both glorious and tragic to be single with all of you wingmen by my side.

 

As I told Ida, I have met someone, we are dating, and it is new. He is kind, funny, and Jewish. That however, is all you’re getting. I’m not going to share anything else because I want to keep it to myself, and also because he is a private person. The truth is I don’t know what I’m doing when dating, and never really have. What I do know, is that as complicated as dating can be, it is even harder when you write about it, so I won’t. I am blessed to be more hopeful than jaded, which is why I keep trying, and why I am keeping the faith.

An Afternoon with Medium Thomas John

Thomas John is a celebrity medium who communicates with dead people. I had never heard of him before, but over the weekend I went to a group reading. There were about 120 people at the reading, all hoping that someone they cared about and lost would come to let them know they were okay. I was skeptical, but hopeful, as I silently prayed my dad would reach out to me. It was an interesting group of people. Young, old, men, and women, all united in prayer that they would be chosen. We all looked at each other with a silent wish of good luck, hoping we would be the lucky ones, and also feeling a little nuts we were actually there.

 

I had never been to a reading, so was unsure what to expect, and I was surprised by Mr. John. He was young, unassuming, caring, sympathetic, empathetic, and responsible. He stood on the stage and waited for spirits to come and talk to him. He would say who he was talking to, and with each new detail of the spirit, we were eliminated until he zeroed in on who the spirit was connected to. I initially thought there were shills in the audience and he was pulling a fast one, but he knew too much to have memorized it, and I quickly became a believer in his process. I found myself hanging on every word, happy for those who were contacted.

 

When he was talking to a man named Robert, who hated to be called Bobby, my heart skipped a beat as I thought it might be my dad. In the end it wasn’t, but the few seconds were it might have been, were emotional. I went back and forth between believing what was happening, and feeling like an idiot for believing it. Mr. John was meant to be with us from 3 until 5, but went past 5:30 because he was in the middle of a reading and didn’t want those people to have their experience cut short. Whether you believe in what he was doing or not, you could not help but think Thomas John was an inherently kind person who wanted to help people.

 

Important to note I am now aware of Mr. John’s colorful past, and while quite fascinating, I do not think it plays a role in what he is doing now. If I could talk to dead people, I might not immediately think I can make a career out of it and support myself. I would try a lot of different things before I settled on letting people know about my ability to contact the spirit world. Perhaps he had to go through what he did when he was younger, in order to harness his gifts now. In fact, isn’t that true of all of us? Did our pasts not set the stage for who we are, and what we do now? I don’t know, and honestly don’t really care. When I  was with him I was a believer, and that is what ultimately matters.

 

My father didn’t come to speak with me, and my friend didn’t get to connect with his loved ones, but we left feeling it was possible, and wanting to come see him again so we would have another chance. Thomas John has monetized his gift, and that is cool. A ticket cost fifty bucks, which is what we pay for a movie and dinner, so it can be viewed as simply another form of entertainment. In fact, I went to see the movie Ben is Back this evening, along with a quick bite, which cost the same as the reading, and I will say the reading with Thomas John was much better.  I left with a good feeling for the people who spoke to the spirits, whereas the movie just left me depressed and stressed.

 

It turns out Thomas John has been able to speak with the spirit world since he was a little boy. It is a gift, or perhaps a burden, but he is using it for good. He made people happy. He gave people closure. He gave people hope that they would see their loved ones again, and that was the best part. I am not convinced it was real, but in the end it doesn’t matter. I would go to another reading, and am actually looking forward to it. The truth is that I would pay to go every week for the chance to hear from my dad. It could be I was swindled, but when it comes to seeing my dad again, I will forever be keeping the faith.

 

Chanel No. 5 and Butter Tarts

My mother just went back to Toronto after visiting for nine days. When I dropped her off at the airport, for the first time in 27 years of visits, I didn’t cry when I said goodbye. I gave her a kiss, hugged her close, and waved goodbye. She cried, but I didn’t. I went back to my car and burst into tears.  I wasn’t sure if I cried because she left, or because I didn’t cry with her, but I wept uncontrollably. I simply could not stop crying.

 

My mom on the other hand, actually starting crying the moment I picked her up at LAX. When I asked why she was crying, she said it was because she was sad to leave. She was sad to leave the second she arrived, which is classic. I love her very much and we had a great visit. She spent a lot of time with Charlie, which is important to both Charlie and me. She also cooked for us like it was her job.

 

After she left I could still smell her in my home. Her perfume lingered and I found myself crying as I went room to room to find where the smell was strongest. Today as I drove to work, excited my housekeeper was coming, I started to cry as I realized the lingering smell of my mother would be gone. I will go back to a spotless home, but no smell of my mom, so wish I would’ve pushed the cleaning.

 

I’ll be with my mom in February, when we celebrate her 75thbirthday. I am going to make a note to take some pillowcases with me to Canada so she can make them smell like her, so I can bring the smell home.  It is a mixture of love, Chanel No. 5, and butter tarts. If I could bottle it, I would, and when I get home this evening I am going to desperately try to find something that still smells like her.

 

If I can’t, I will simply make butter tarts, spray Chanel No. 5 all over the place, and hug Charlie while crying, which is what I think allows the smell of love to come out. My mother speaks of waving goodbye to her mom when she left Israel, promising to come back, but my grandmother passing before she could. I remember telling my mom I would be back when I left Canada, but I never did move back.

 

I often wonder where Charlie will make his home when he has a family of his own. I pray I am close by and able to see him more often than I see my mother. Important to note that when I say I hope I live close by, of course I mean I hope I live in his house, taking care of his kids, and get to see him every day. While I am quite certain that is a nightmare for Charlie, I am keeping the faith.

Home with my Mama

My mother came to visit me from Toronto on Thanksgiving day, which was my beloved dad’s birthday. We raised a glass to Bobby Angel, and are having a wonderful visit.  She will be staying until Saturday. I love her very much. I sleep better when she is close. I definitely eat better when she is close. I see Charlie more often when she is close. My heart feels full when she is close. She is fun, and funny, and lovely, and frankly the most annoying person I know.

 

She likes to freeze everything. Everything. She will buy a fresh loaf of bread, still warm from the oven, and freeze it so it stays fresh. She will bake a cake, then freeze it so it stays fresh. It is truly fascinating, and I have never seen anything like it. She is quite certain freezing things keeps them fresh. Bless her. I am not big on freezing things, other than vodka of course. I like things fresh, and organic, and never frozen, but my freezer is now packed full of food.

 

She likes to talk over the television. She asks a lot of questions, and likes to ask them over the person who is actually providing the answer to her question. She watches CNN all day long, thinks Anderson Cooper is wonderful, Don Lemon is everything, and Chris Cuomo is her friend. She also thinks everything said on Entertainment Tonight is true. She speaks about celebrities like she knows them. She loves Jennifer Lawrence and Khloe is her favorite Kardashian.

 

My mom will be 75 in February, which means Charlie is the same age now, that my mother was when she had me, which is crazy. My mother had 4 kids by the time she was 28. I had my only child when I was 30, and it was hard, so I cannot imagine what she went through having 4 at such a young age. Not only did she have all her kids young, she left Israel with my English dad and raised her family in Canada, arriving without knowing how to speak English.

 

She is a remarkable woman and I will miss her when she goes home, but look forward to seeing her again soon. By Thursday she will start picking a fight with me, so on Friday we are angry with each other, so on Saturday she can leave annoyed with me, which will make it easier for her to leave me. It is hilarious, and tradition. We will fight so going is easier than goodbye, then cry like babies that we will not be together.

 

I came to Los Angeles 27 years ago for a vacation. Neither one of us could have imagined things would end up as they did, and I would stay here. She thought I would be home in a few weeks, and in the end I made LA my home, and never moved back. I have now lived in the United States longer than I lived in Canada, but Canada is always home. For this week however, home is Los Angeles because both my mom and son are here with me. It is perfect.

 

I am currently sitting on the couch, while my mom tells me what a nice guy Eddie Murphy is, and how wonderful Jennifer Lawrence is, while I eat her delicious rice and beans, knowing that tomorrow she will make her world famous butter tarts, and Charlie will once again find his way home. I am blessed to have such a wonderful mother and can’t help but wonder if I am annoying to Charlie. Probably, but at least I don’t freeze everything. That could change, so I am keeping the faith.

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

Today is not only Thanksgiving, it is also my dad’s birthday. He would have turned 80 today, and my heart remains broken by his passing. My dad died when was only 63 years old, never having had the opportunity to be old. He was only ten years older than I am now when he got sick, and passed away only months after being diagnosed with cancer. It is a sad day for me because I think about everything he’s missed over the past 17 years. It is tragic, but I also feel blessed to have had 35 years with my beloved dad. Happy Birthday Bobby Angel. We love and miss you.

I have never really celebrated Thanksgiving, and think I have been to less than a dozen Thanksgiving dinners during my 27 years in the United States. I got divorced when my son was a baby and since my ex-husband was from LA and had a large family here, Charlie would spend Thanksgiving with his dad and his family, and I would have Charlie with me for the Jewish holidays. I have generally spent Thanksgiving at home, resting and being reflective, or shopping and pampering myself. For the past few years I have written down things I am thankful for, so since I am 52 years old for Thanksgiving 2018, here are 52 things I am thankful for.

  1. Memories of my dad
  2. Seeing my dad in my son’s eyes
  3. Having my mother come visit me today
  4. My brother Mark and his family
  5. My sister Roni and her friendship
  6. My mother Rena
  7. My son Charlie
  8. Every single thing about Charlie
  9. My friendship with Charlie
  10. My job
  11. My assistant Jordan
  12. Fiddles the cat
  13. Fiddle’s boyfriend, Gopher
  14. Manicures
  15. Pizza
  16. Dr. Donna Cashdan
  17. Synthroid
  18. Cosmopolitans
  19. Red wine
  20. iPhone
  21. The Jewish Journal
  22. Vodka
  23. My car
  24. My bed
  25. My Oncologist
  26. My cancer free life
  27. My entertaining dating life
  28. My belief I will find love
  29. My sense of humor
  30. My kind heart
  31. Kleenex with lotion
  32. Bacon made from soy beans
  33. Rabbi Naomi Levy
  34. Nashuva
  35. Prayer
  36. Laughter
  37. My son coming home
  38. Scented candles
  39. Potato chips
  40. Chocolate
  41. Therapy
  42. Forgiveness
  43. Being a mom
  44. My blissful pregnancy
  45. My healthy child
  46. My health
  47. Idris Elba
  48. Celine Dion
  49. Trips to London
  50. Time at Beckham Manor
  51. Vegetarian options
  52. Writing

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you will take time today, even for just a minute, to think about what you’re thankful for. Make a list. It is important to acknowledge your blessings because life is short and there are no guarantees. Writing down what you are thankful for gives those things life. Be safe. Be kind. Be grateful. Know that I appreciate you for coming here and value our friendship. As I head to LAX to pick up my Mom, please know that I wish you joy, health, and happiness. I am thankful we are all keeping the faith.

Holiday Dating

Dating is hard on any given day, but it can get strange during the end of the year holidays. Today I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner by a man I have never met. His first interaction with me was to say he had a busy week since it was only three days, and would I like to join him and his family for dinner on Thursday night. It was very sweet, and very weird. I would never go to Thanksgiving dinner for a first date.

 

New Year’s Eve is looming and the truth is that I am not big on going out for the New Year. I am happy to be home with take out, warm and cozy pajamas, a fully stocked bar, the cat, and someone to smooch at midnight. If there is nobody to kiss, other than the cat, I am probably asleep before the clock strikes twelve. New Year celebrations are for the young folk and I am blissfully old.

 

The holidays should be an easy time to date, but in the end there is pressure, so I tend to not date in the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and the two weeks leading up to the New Year. Christmas has never been an issue because there’s always Chinese food and a movie. Hanukkah is eight days so at least one night can work for a date. There should be no holiday dating pressure.

 

Some daters are lonely and think about how wonderful it would be to have someone for the holidays, so they are driven by the fear of being alone. I believe people are inherently kind, which is why I was invited for Thanksgiving dinner on a first date. Important to note you can be both kind and weird. I am not afraid of being alone, and am blessed to want someone more than I need someone.

 

I hope the man who asked me to Thanksgiving dinner with his family will ask another woman, and I hope she says yes. There is someone for everyone, and he’ll find a lady who is at the same stage he is, and they’ll live happily ever after, forever telling everyone how thankful they are to have met on Thanksgiving. It could happen, and will happen, as long as he is keeping the faith.

My Jewish Mid-Life Crisis

By definition, a mid-life crisis is an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle age. I am 52 years old, so likely past middle age, but I think I am having a crisis of some kind. I am questioning everything, and while I am confident I am clear on who I am, I am struggling to figure out what it is that I want, specifically in my personal life. I should know, but I don’t.

 

I used to think I wanted to get married again, but the older I get, and frankly the longer I am divorced, I’m not sure I want to. It has been 22 years since I was married and so it could be that I have just given up on the idea. I simply don’t think about it anymore, and I used to. I can barely muster the strength to go on a second date, which makes the chances of my getting married quite slim.

 

I have always been a woman of faith, and define myself as a Jew, but I am feeling a heightened sensitivity to everything Jewish. Ever since the murders in the Pittsburgh I have been on edge. I make a concerted effort every day to shake the uneasiness I feel, but I can’t. I got upset about something stupid someone I care about said about being Jewish, and I completely overreacted. Or did I?

 

I am not questioning my faith, but I am questioning how I view it and if I want it to be public versus private. It is bizarre. I had a bout of anxiety last week when I said Good Shabbos to someone, worried I had said out loud where people could hear me. The feeling I had then made me feel not only more anxious, but ashamed that I panicked about something to do with my faith.

 

Ugh. I am boring myself with this already and need to figure it out because it is effecting how I live my life. I am struggling. My life is markedly different with this crisis hanging over my head. I am questioning everything about myself, which is unfair to me, and I really need to be kinder to me. It can sometimes be easier to be kinder to others than to ourselves, and that is a real shame.

 

I need to cut myself some slack and I need to sort this all out. I have changed and I am sad about it. I hate that I second guess myself on things that shouldn’t be given any thought or attention. The back and forth in my own head is exhausting. Is anyone else going through something similar? I imagine there is, but I feel alone and am suffocating from all the questions with no answers.

 

My mother is coming to visit next week, and will surely provide clarity and comfort, but I am really the only person who can answer my questions. The most important question I have is when will I feel safe? When will I freely embrace my faith without fear? When will I stop second guessing everything? When will I date with an open mind to match my open heart?

 

I am going into Shabbat today with a real desire for peace. I want to quiet my mind and stop overthinking. I want to be free of worry. Impossible for a Jewish mother to be worry free of course, but you know what I mean. I am a good person and a proud Jew and I know this uneasy feeling will pass. I am blessed, and a little crazy, but everything will be okay as long as I am keeping the faith.

Remembering Alfred Wright

It has been five years since Alfred Wright went missing. I am reposting three pieces about Alfred with the hope that someone who knows something, will say something. This young man was murdered and there are people who know what happened to him. I pray for justice for Alfred and his family. Rest in peace Alfred. 

 

I am haunted by the death of Alfred Wright. The stories of his murder, and the mystery surrounding the details, have not received the attention it deserves. This young father of three was, in my opinion, lynched, and I am of the belief the Sabine County Sheriff’s Office knows who did it and is protecting the killers, who may include one of their own. Mr. Wright was murdered because he was black and we must demand answers.

 

Fifteen years ago James Byrd, Jr. was murdered in the same area. Three men, known white supremacists, dragged Mr. Bryd for three miles while he was chained to their truck. Mr. Byrd was conscious during the brutal killing and died when his head was severed. Once dead, the men dragged him another mile and dumped him in front of an African American cemetery. He was killed because he was black.

 

One of the men who murdered James Byrd, Jr. was executed, one remains on death row, and one is serving life. When Mr. Byrd died my son was 2 years old and I was shaken to my core. Today my son is 18 and again a man has been tortured and killed for being black. I know bad things happen everyday and I am not naïve enough to think this is isolated, but this is 2014 in America.

 

It is not enough to be angry in my small corner of the world. I have a voice and a platform, so for my son and the sons of Alfred Wright, I am writing.  I want these killers to be prosecuted. I want Alfred’s family to get answers. I want the killers to know we are watching and this man’s life and death will be remembered. Any rational human being can see this killing was racially motivated.

 

Alfred Wright, a physical therapist, was on his way home from work when he got a flat tire. He called his wife from his cell phone asking her to come get him. She was home with their children and said his parents would come. When they arrived they found his truck, but he was gone. His wife called him and could hear him breathing, clearly in distress. That was the last contact she had with her husband. It was Nov. 7, 2013.

 

The Sherriff’s department looked for Mr. Wright but called off the search after 4 days and the case was closed. Alfred’s parents continued to search on their own for their beloved son. 18 days later, and only 25 feet from where he was last seen, their own search party found Alfred’s body. He was wearing boxer shorts and socks. His cell phone safely tucked into his sock. The police ruled the case an accidental overdose.

 

Alfred Wright was not a drug user and it is important to note that after missing for almost 3 weeks, his body was not decomposed and he appeared to not have been deceased for that long. His throat was slashed, he was missing his front teeth, eyes, tongue, and part of his ear. (When lynching was a common occurrence in America, Klansmen would cut off the ears of the black men they killed as souvenirs.)

 

There were trace amounts of drugs found in Alfred’s body, which is why the Sherriff concluded drugs were the cause of death after the autopsy they had done. A second independent autopsy found Alfred’s eyes were gouged out, tongue was cut out, throat was slashed, teeth were knocked out, and his ear was cut off. This man was tortured and died a horrific death, then left where he was taken from like an animal. Why?

 

Why didn’t the authorities interview Alfred’s family? Why did the original autopsy rule out homicide and not reveal the severe trauma suffered? Why have the original autopsy photos not been shared with the doctor who did the independent autopsy? There are countless unanswered questions. This man was murdered and law enforcement did not and is not doing their job properly.

 

I am Jewish and know the history of hate towards my people.  I am educated on the Holocaust and the history of blacks in America. A part of me is scared writing this article as hate doesn’t like when you disagree with it. There is also a part of me that knows when we don’t speak out against atrocities we give hate power. I am scared but my heart must embrace my mind and speak out for Mr. Wright because he can’t.

 

There are people who speculate the Sherriff is involved. Some say Mr. Wright had a relationship with the Sherriff’s daughter. Some say his family did not know about his drug use. The truth is I do not know many things about the case and what I do know is simply from different news sources and other writers. What I do know is that an accidental drug overdose does not cause the damage that was done to this young man.

 

Alfred Wright was tortured, mutilated, and discarded as if he had no value. He had his life and dignity taken away because he was a man of color. His kids will grow up without a father. His wife will have to explain hate to her children. His parents have buried their baby. His siblings have lost part of themselves. There are people in Jasper that know who did this but they remain silent

 

Today I am thinking about Alfred, James Byrd, Jr., and the young Emmitt Till. I am thinking about the countless men and women of color who were killed in America because of hate. I am thinking about people in the world who at this exact moment are suffering because another human being hates them just because they are different from them in some way. I think of them now and I feel brave.

 

I feel brave enough to tell you that I believe Alfred Wright was murdered by stupid, cowardly, racist white men who are filled with hate. I feel brave and I feel proud. Proud to have raised my son to not see color, judge faith, or value a person based on beauty or wealth. My heart is broken and my faith is shaken but I will not be silent.  We cannot make the world better if we turn away from the ugliness without speaking.

 

I know what hate looks like. People take time out of their busy lives quite often just to let me know they hate me. Some people hate me simply because I am Jewish. Others hate me for having an opinion, and many hate me for no other reason than somoene else told them to. Hate is a powerful force and while I like to think I handle it well and it does not effect me, the truth is that it truly shatters me.

 

To Alfred Wright, I want you to know that you have value and you matter. I pray you will rest in peace and I take comfort in knowing you will watch over your three beautiful sons. As human beings it is our responsibility to view more than just our own little corners of the world. We are all in this together and hate can be stopped if we speak up. Be aware, be brave, be strong, be kind, and remember to keep the faith.

Please Vote.

I don’t know about you, but I am stressed out about Tuesday’s elections. I am excited at the prospect of change, and terrified at the possibility that nothing will change. There is turmoil every day and our country is still unsettled by what happened in the last election, so there are no excuses this time around. It is not enough to say you are not happy with things. You have got to vote for change. It is so important.

 

Fool me once and shame on me, fool me twice and shame on you, is for every person who drank the Kool-Aid and voted for Trump. There are so many important things and important jobs on the ballot. You still have time to research the options and make the right choice. This is important and if you think your vote won’t matter in the big scheme of things, you are wrong. Every single vote matters. A lot. Use your voice. Be heard.

 

Look at the last two years and ask yourself if this is the America you want. Think about the next two years and how America will look at the end of that time without change. Think about your kids and the America they will inherit. Think about the planet and what we are doing to her. Set aside party lines and vote for what is best for America, not what is best for your party. This is the time to be brave and do what is right for all of us.

 

Vote not only for yourself, but for everyone who is worried about their job, trying to feed their kids, sick, want to control what happens to their bodies, and those who have been touched by gun violence. Vote for those who are desperately trying to hang onto their piece of the American dream. Vote for your kids, your planet, your health, and your conscious. This is not reality television, and we are not voting on who stays on the island. We are voting for our future so get out and vote. We are all counting on you and  keeping the faith.

How Jewish do I want to be?

I was born in Israel to two Jewish parents. I speak Hebrew. I sent my son to conservative Jewish Day School for ten years. He had a Bar Mitzvah. I light candles every Friday night. I go to temple regularly. I observe high holidays. I make what can only be described as the world’s best matzo ball soup. I am divorced and made sure I also received a gett. I not only consider myself to be a practicing Jew, but define myself as a Jew. I am Jewish in my soul. I am Jewish by birth and by choice. I spent a large chunk of my adult life working in the Jewish community. I write for a Jewish newspaper. All that said, I woke up this morning and wondered, how Jewish do I want to be?

 

I’m not sure what inspired the question, but I can’t shake it from my mind. It’s all I can think about and do not know what the answer is. Perhaps it is the murders in Pittsburgh that have left me with this painful question. I have been unsettled since the horrific attack and can’t seem to quiet my brain. I live my Jewish life out loud so there is part of me that wonders if I need to change that. There is another part of me that wants to scream from the rafters that I’m Jewish and defy anyone to say anything. I am stuck between wondering how Jewish I am, and if I am Jewish enough, and that is a very odd feeling.

 

I am scared by what happened, but also angry. I spent many years working in Holocaust education and to have people killed this way, in 2018, is frankly debilitating. I feel sick about what happened in Pittsburgh. I am stuck and unsure what to do or how to feel. I was not alive during the Holocaust, but I heard countless firsthand stories during the years I worked at Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, so for people to be killed again, just for being Jewish, is terrifying. I have personally experienced anti-Semitism, but this is different. This is murder of Jews for being Jewish and I simply cannot comprehend it.

 

I am a hockey fan and this week when the Pittsburgh Penguins put “stronger than hate” patches on their uniforms, I thought it was a wonderfulI display of solidarity. I was also offended that the Jewish star on the patch was done partially in yellow.  I get that black and yellow are their colors, but the Jewish star should not have been yellow in my opinion. Important to note I understand how ridiculous that will sound to some people, but it bothered me. It was a custom made patch and easily could have been another color. I sound like a crazy person but like I said, these killings are debilitating and all my senses are heightened when it comes to my religion.

 

I watched President Trump visiting Pittsburgh with his wife and I was enraged. I am offended by everything lately, which is not who I am as a human being. I want so much to understand, but am not sure what it is I am expecting to understand. If someone asks me if I am Jewish, do I say yes? If someone says something unkind about my faith, do I speak up? If someone writes me an anti-Semitic comment on my blog, do I report them? Am I supposed to just accept that people hate Jews and that is the world we live in? I am struggling not only with how to define myself within my faith, but whether to share it with the world or keep it private. I am educated and awards this shouldn’t be a struggle, but I am struggling.

 

It will pass of course, but I don’t want it to pass without understanding my feelings. I do not want to be afraid. I want my anger to become action. I want my disgust to empower me. I want to be free to live my Jewish life in whatever way I want. At the end of the day I am proudly Jewish. I am comfortable in my practice and nobody can judge me on how much or little Judaism I practice. I am Jewish enough and God knows me. I will not allow fear to make me question my faith, but it has been a stressful week.

 

As I read back what I have written I am not sure it will make sense to anyone but me. I am questioning whether or not to even publish it, which is crazy. I have written my truth here for almost a decade and have never regretted anything I write, so to be questioning myself now is very sad. I have openly and honestly shared all aspects of my life here and have been blessed with loyal and wonderful readers. There are haters of course, which is always fun, but I have never been stuck like this. I will publish this because that is what I do, but today just feels off. I am hoping someone will read it and share their own experience, which always happens and always helps.

 

I am thinking about all Jews around the world today and know we will get through this. We are united. Orthodox, conservative, or reform, Jews are the same and together we are strong. There are enough good people in the world to help lift us up when darkness comes, so while it is of course important to be careful, fear does not need to control us.  I am one day closer to understanding, so am taking it one day at a time. I am trying to be brave and hope to go into Shabbat today with some peace. I may never understand the world we live in, but I am still keeping the faith.

Murder in Pittsburgh – My Jewish Family

Whenever there is a mass shooting in America, I watch the news in horror and cry, unable to turn off the television, naively hoping the number of dead will somehow go down instead of up. I wait for the names to be released. I want to say their names out loud and learn who they are so I won’t forget them. Whether they are Black, White, young, old, Jewish, Catholic, gay or straight, I want to know who they are. They are important to me. Sadly, we live in a country where there but for the grace of God go I. We never know when senseless killings will happen, or if they will touch close to home, to people we know.

The murders at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 28 hit close to home. As a Jewish woman of faith, when the 11 people in Squirrel Hill died, they died in my home. Synagogue is where I worship, so to me all synagogues are my home. A house of worship is a wonderful place. It does not matter what religion is being observed, because I respect all houses of worship the same. I am at peace whether I am in a synagogue or a church. We pray to the same God, so voices united in prayer are very powerful. For anyone to be attacked while in prayer is something I will never be able to understand.

As we learn about those who died, my heart aches so deeply I feel a physical pain. I keep thinking about the victims: 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, a vivacious regular at the temple; Cecil and David Rosenthal, inseparable brothers who had worshiped at Tree of Life since they were children; Bernice and Sylvan Simon, who married more than 60 years earlier in the same temple where they were murdered; Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, who helped AIDS patients when the disease first appeared in America; Daniel Stein, president of New Light Congregation; Joyce Feinberg, a fellow Canadian; Richard Gottfried, who respected faith and was to retire soon; Melvin Wax, always the first to arrive at temple and the last to leave; and Irving Younger, who always spoke about his daughter and grandson. I also think about Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who heard his congregants being slaughtered as he rushed others out of the sanctuary.

I didn’t know any of the victims personally, but as Jews they are my family and I mourn their passing. 

There are fewer than 15 million Jews in the world, and we are all connected. This was an act of hate against my people, and therefore against me. When I think of the 11 people killed in Pittsburgh, I think about the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. I think about how it is possible for one human being to try to erase another one, just because they are different. We cannot allow anyone to be erased. We must speak up. We must say their names because these lives cannot and must not be erased. As human beings we must be outraged by this hate and look out for each other.

I am scared, but not so scared that I will be quiet. This is a time for action. These lovely people were executed because of hate, and this kind of hate — whether directed at people of a different religion, color or sexual orientation — runs deep. So deep that I can feel the shooter’s hate in my soul. But I must not think about that now. Instead, I must turn my fear into strength and fight for gun reform. I must say their names and continue to practice the religion I was not only born into, but choose for myself and share with my child. I am Jewish and these people were my family. It is in times of pain and sorrow that we must focus on keeping the faith.


Ilana Angel writes the Keeping the Faith blog on jewishjournal.com

Dating 101 – Bald is Beautiful

Last night I went out with friends for drinks. On my way home I spoke with a man who had emailed me online, and in a moment of unusual spontaneity, I agreed to meet him for a drink at a bar in my neighborhood. I went to the bar, didn’t see him, so I sat at the bar and waited. When he was ten minutes late I decided I was going to wait five more and head home.

 

Just before I hit the fifteen-minute mark he called me and strangely asked if I was okay. I told him I was fine, but had waited fifteen minutes and was going to head home. He then told me he was waiting for me at the bar and had been on time. I felt bad and told I was there too and didn’t see him. He laughed and said he was coming to find me. We stayed on the phone as I looked around.

 

A man from the other side of the bar approached on his phone and laughed when he saw me. He hung up his phone, gave me a hug, and said he was sorry we missed each other. He then told me I was more beautiful than my picture and shared that I had beautiful hair. I looked at the man, smiled, thanked him, and wondered how quickly I could leave without being rude.

 

Over the next 45 minutes of getting to know each other, I found out that his inline photo is 15 years old. I also discovered that he had three patches of hair which he appeared to have grown out, and then carefully wrapped around his head. I am not sure if it was taped, or perhaps glued, but he had fashioned himself a helmet of hair. A helmet of strategically placed hair. Dear Lord.

 

I stared at his hair as it was a great wonder of the world. I listened to him tell me how he couldn’t find a more recent picture of himself, how his wife left him for another man, how he had not been on a date in four years, how he had not spoken to his son in three years, and how he had to medicate after his divorce. I listened, distracted by hair, then politely wrapped up the date.

 

He didn’t seem surprised when I told him I didn’t; think we were a match and declined a second date. I felt bad and almost explained what went wrong on the date, but quickly changed my mind. There will be a woman who finds him handsome, charming in his honesty, and want to be with him. I believe there is someone for everyone, which is what keeps me hopeful and dating.

 

I didn’t find him attractive, or particularly interesting, but someone will. It is not my job to tell anyone what I think unappealing, as what is unappealing to me, might be sexy as hell to someone else. I happen to think bald is beautiful and helmet hair is not, but that’s just me. My dating life continues to be interesting, tragic, and funny. It is also exhausting, but I am keeping the faith.

 

Happy Birthday Friend

It has been nine months since my friend Alli passed away, and today is her birthday. I went to visit her yesterday and at the risk of sounding like a crazy person, we had a nice visit. I told her what was going on in my life and the world, and I felt comforted to be at the cemetery. I miss her in ways that nobody will ever understand. I worked for Alli for ten years and we went through a lot together. Even though I met her when I was in my forties, I grew up under her watchful eye and caring heart. Outside of my son, she has been the most important person in my life for a very long time and my heart remains broken by her passing.

 

Alli knew more about me than any other human on the planet. She was my friend, boss, teacher, spiritual guide, therapist, doctor, mother, daughter, and financial advisor, to name a few. I don’t remember what life was like before I met Alli, and I can’t quite figure out how life looks without her. She held my hand through a lot of things and I am better for having had her in my life. We experienced highs and lows together. We loved hard and fought harder. To mark her birthday I am going for drinks with people who loved her so we can raise a glass in her honor. I miss you Alli. Rest in peace Friend. I miss you and will forever be keeping the faith.

The Art of a Dinner Party

Last week I met a friend for dinner. Siggy was visiting from New Jersey and whenever she is here, she gathers her LA friends for a meal. It is wonderful and I have met some really great people over the years at her dinners. She is funny and smart and kind, and so are her friends, who have become my friends. Siggy’s visits are not as often as I’d wish, so each one feels special.

 

We met this week at Craig’s in West Hollywood. Sitting a couple tables away was Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio, JLo and Arod, but our table was the fun one. We ate, drank, laughed, drank, caught up, and drank some more. It was fun and this time there was someone I hadn’t met before. Joey is a longtime friend of Sig’s and may be the kindest and most peaceful human I have ever met.

 

Within a minute of meeting Joey, he said he was having a dinner party at his home the following evening, and I needed to be there. He had an inviting and open energy, so I accepted an invitation to the home of a stranger. By the end of dinner however, he was not a stranger. He was my friend Joey, and I was loving being at his dinner party, especially since Joey is a talented chef.

 

The food was guaranteed to be delicious, and I had trolled his Instagram so knew I was in for a treat. There is an art to a good dinner party, and the truth is we don’t have dinner parties enough. By we, I mean my circle of friends. I cannot remember the last time I went to a dinner party. It is a lovely way to spend an evening and can be made even better when you attend with people you do not know, which is exciting.

 

There are not a lot of opportunities in the course of a day to chat with strangers at length. Important to note I actually do it all the time while dating, but that is different in that it is more like a job interview than a comfortable conversation. I love a nice dinner party, particularly when I am the only woman in a sea of attractive men, which was the case at Joey’s house. It was fantastic.

 

Joey’s home is fabulous and I felt embraced by my surroundings. He is newly married, but his husband was still at work so we began without him. Joey’s best friend Phillip was there, and trust me when I tell you this man needs his own show. There was a kind couple, two delicious and charming men, who just celebrated 18 years together, as well as a gentleman who came without his wife, who was traveling.

 

Liquor flowed, food was abundant, and the conversation was interesting, fascinating, compelling, and entertaining. This group of men have known each other for decades and you could tell. They have shared memories having been witnesses to each other’s lives for decades. To be invited to the table took on greater meaning once I understood the history they all shared.

 

As I sat at the perfectly set table, eating the perfectly prepared dinner, listening to the perfectly timed stories, I felt happy. It was a pleasure to simply be at a dinner party with interesting people. Writing is very solitary, and my day job is also solitary, so I tend to be a solitary person who chooses to stay in rather than go out, but I found myself being very pleased I accepted Joey’s invitation.

 

This dinner party brought to life a part of myself I have left alone for too long. It was wonderful to sit at a table of grown-ups and share stories. We didn’t talk about politics, or the epic problems of the world. Instead we escaped into the perfect dinner party talking about food and movies, sharing stories and history. It was a perfect evening because Joey mastered the art of a dinner party.

 

Joey is a wonderful human being. He is inherently kind, eternally optimistic, generous of spirit, and has not one drop of bitterness about anything that has crossed his path. He’s special and I’m honored to have been invited to his table. I love him, and his friends, and look forward to seeing them again because his dinner party reminded my jaded and bitter self to keep the faith.

 

Dating 101 – Laughing and Crying

My dating life is pathetic. I could try to sugar coat it to make me look better, or make me feel better, but the simple truth is that my dating life is pathetic. I want a man more than I need one, yet I don’t have one. I am in my sexual prime, yet not having sex. I have a blessed life to share, yet I am alone. It is pathetic, tragic, strange, unfortunate, and frankly unbelievable. I have been divorced for 22 years, my last relationship ended a year ago, and here I am, alone. Not for a lack of trying. I don’t date to date, but rather with the hope of meeting someone special.

 

I went on three dates last week. None of them went as expected, and I spent the weekend trying to figure out why. One has led to friendship, one was doomed from the beginning, and one was a surprise. All three have left me with questions. Sadly, the questions are more about me than them. What is it about me that attacks who I attract? I am very aware of what I put out into the universe, and so what comes back to me is confusing. I am a patient and kind woman who wants to love someone. Some of the men I dated were unworthy, while others weren’t attracted to me.

 

I am clear on what I want in a partner, just unclear on what he looks like. That is a good thing because it leaves my options open, but I am surprised he has not turned up yet. I have had long term relationships since getting divorced, and was even engaged a decade ago, but my choices have been right for me and my son. Charlie is now 22 and so my options have grown. I never wanted to have children from different fathers, so now that I am older and children are not on the table, it helps to narrow down the men I will date. I can’t imagine raising a baby now, plus my eggs are poached!

 

Important to note I am not passing judgement on women who have different children from different relationships, only that it was not something I wanted for myself. It was a personal choice, not a judgement, and while I would have loved to have had more children, it was the right decision for me. Now, back to my pathetic dating life. Let me tell you about last week. I laughed. I cried. I cried some more, and now I am laughing again. I am laughing because at the end of the day it is funny. My life is blessed and dating is not ever going to change that.

 

I met a man last week for a drink. He is 58 years old, Jewish, divorced, has 2 kids, and is a cancer survivor. He might be the funniest man I have ever gone on a date with. He seriously needs his own HBO special talking about his view of Donald Trump. He had me in stitches from the first minute we said hello. He was not only funny, but gracious, and had lovely manners. We shared two cocktails together and it was great. He had interesting ideas and views and we both spoke openly and fearlessly. He was wonderful to be.

 

When we wrapped up the evening I was unsure if we had a friend vibe, or a romantic one, but I thought it might be good to go out with him again to see what it was. He truly was a pleasure to be with and I wanted to be attracted to him because his personality was so terrific. Here’s the thing though, I don’t ever want to talk myself into someone, or feel like someone is talking themselves into me. There doesn’t need to be love at first sight, but there needs to be something that compels me to see them again. I am looking for a partner not a friend, so I try to tune into it so I am not wasting my time or theirs.

 

So, as I thanked him for a fabulous night, he took my hand in his, leaned in to kiss me on the cheek, and told me that while he thought I was a magnificent woman, he did not feel there was any sexual chemistry between us and he thought we should end up being the best of friends, and perhaps starting an I Hate Trump club. I started laughing and told him I was just wondering if I was attracted to him as a man, or just thought he had the best personality. He accused me of being desperately in love with him and making it all up.

 

He walked me to my car and we talked about how weird it was to love being in someone’s company, yet not being attracted to them. It was a fascinating conversation and when we got to my car, decided we should talk about it some more. We went into another bar, had another drink, and talked about relationships. He has been divorced for ten years and had one long term relationship that ended about 5 years ago. We spoke of being lonely and wanting to share life with a partner. In the end he was a male version of myself.

 

We were having the best time. We engaged the bartender and the other people at the bar, and it occurred to me we were experiencing something special. My heart did not flutter, and there was no flirting, but something special was happening. We hung out for another hour and then I needed to get home. He again walked me to my car and asked if a spark had been lit for me. I told him it had not, and he agreed. It was hilarious. He asked if we should kiss, and I was game, so we kissed, but nothing. There was no spark.

 

The good news is we’ve spoken every day since our date and met again. He’s a wonderful person and it is nice to hear a man’s perspective. There is no explanation why we’re attracted to some and not others. Perhaps I would’ve been attracted to him had he been attracted to me. I don’t know, but he is a keeper. He will be my friend and I truly hope he meets a wonderful woman. I genuinely want him to be happy and she will be a lucky girl. I can’t explain why that girl is not me after such a great time, but it just isn’t me.

 

My second date was with a man who I had people in common with. When he told me of the people we mutually knew, my gut feeling was to cancel the date. I have strong feelings about certain people and the mutual person we know is someone I love very much. He spoke unkindly about her and I wasn’t interested, but he assured me he knew her for a short time, a long time ago, so we made plans to meet for drinks. He is Jewish, divorced, again not nearly as tall as he thinks he is, and quite entertaining. He was handsome and interesting, but came with an agenda.

 

He wanted to speak about our mutual friend and was not flattering in what he said about her. When I didn’t want to talk about it, he pushed ahead to keep talking about her. He was yelling at me to listen to him, and I started to cry. It was awkward and uncomfortable. He was a bully and I did not appreciate how aggressive he was. He clearly had a plan to talk about our mutual connections. They were people tied more to his ex-wife than himself, and he spoke a lot about his ex-wife, so clearly there are issues he needs to work through.

 

After our rather abrasive exchange, I left and he told me to let him know I got home safely. I sent him a text letting him know I was home, and he sent a rather provocative and sexually charged text in return. It was very odd. This man was, for lack of a better word, broken. I am a nurturing soul and am attracted to things that are broken. In the words of my beloved Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” I welcome cracks, seek the light, and will try to help. This guy however was not cracked, he was crushed.

 

It has taken me a few days and a therapy session, to understand our exchange.  I’m not even sure I understand it, but I’m not crying about it anymore. It was hurtful and in retrospect felt mean spirited. He used a weak connection we had to vent issues with his ex-wife, and that is shitty. I could be trying to blame him to help me recover from a rather embarrassing breakdown, but I don’t think so. He was unkind in his choice to discuss his issues on me. He doesn’t know me, he doesn’t really know my friend, and should have spoken to a therapist.

 

Three dates with rejections, laughter, and tears. I’m still standing, still hopeful, and thankful for vodka. Yesterday I had a date with my son. We went to see A Star is Born, (go see it) then had a fantastic lunch at Petit Trois Le Valley, (delicious and the Beauty School Drop Out cocktail was fantastic). Whenever I have a bad date, he restores my faith. He reminds me I am a good person and deserve one in return. He is also the designated driver so mommy can have a cocktail. Now I sound like a drunk. Which I’m not. Just a drinker!

 

I wrote about the third date yesterday. You can read it here.

 

I appreciate the kind replies I receive about my dating life. I have the best readers. You are in my corner and when you write with similar stories, I am sad for you, but thrilled to know it is not just me! I read every one of your emails and messages. You hold my hand when I am in the dark, and lead me to the cracks so the light can come in. I am thankful, grateful, and inspired by you. I am clearly aware that all of you are the reason why I am literally and figuratively keeping the faith.

 

Is age just a number?

I went on a date last night with a man who is 15 years older than me. He is charming, funny, handsome, young at heart, active, and has a Jewish sense of humor, which I find to be so attractive. He saw my profile online, said hello, I said hello back, and we chatted on the phone. From our first phone call he was concerned about the age difference. I assured him it wasn’t an issue for me and reminded him we were meeting for dinner not getting married, so we made a plan.

 

I was to meet him at the restaurant Saturday night, and come Saturday morning, the texting began. He was funny and playful and I found myself liking him before we met in person. By the time I got to the restaurant I was comfortable and looking forward to spending time with him. He looked like his pictures, which is always a good sign when online dating, He is a handsome man and has great teeth. He’s not quite as tall as he thinks he is, but was lovely, and a true gentleman.

 

We had easy conversation and he was open and honest. We talked about our children, past relationships, and the world we live in. He made me laugh, and think, and I found myself relaxed, which I rarely am on a date. Dinner was a couple of hours, then we decided to go out for frozen yogurt. He lives in my neighborhood so we picked up his dog and the three of us went for dessert. In the interest of full disclosure, there were two times I plotted about how to steal the fabulous dog.

 

Those who have been with me on this journey for the past decade know I am the queen of first dates. You also know I am really good at dating men who are strange, or perhaps should be in prison, but this date was different. I liked him. I felt like secrets would be safe with him. I felt like he would be a good man to have in your corner when chips are down, and the perfect man to have in your corner to witness the joyous things in life. He made sense to me, which didn’t really make sense.

 

I felt happy, and nervous, but mostly hopeful that I had met a person I would want to spend time with and get to know better. He drove me home, thanked me for a lovely evening, and hugged me goodnight. I kissed the dog, and went inside. I sent him a text to thank him for a lovely evening, and told him I would like to see him again. Sadly, he didn’t feel the same way, and said the age difference would be an issue for him, and ultimately for me. Of course he could have been using age as an excuse for just not wanting to see me again, but either way my heart sank for a second.

 

On a good note, I went out with someone older and it was a great date, so that is a lesson in terms of opening my mind and heart to finding love in unexpected places. On a sad note, I can’t help but feel I missed out on something with this gentleman. I am never, and I repeat, never, relaxed on a date, so this was a pleasant surprise. One I hope I experience again with someone wonderful, who feels it back. I wish this man the best of luck on his search and am sure will meet someone great Old and great.

 

I had three dates last week. One was with a man who is not even worth mentioning, one was with a man who made me cry, and one was with a man who felt I was too young for him. To clarify, the one not worth mentioning is totally getting a blog, I just need to stop laughing first. The one who made me cry is also getting a blog, I just need to stop crying first. The one who was worried our age gap was too big, well it’s a shame he didn’t figure that out before asking me out.

 

Sidebar: I appreciate he could have blown me off for reasons other than my age, but he just didn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would lie. If he thought I was unattractive or not interesting, he would have ended the date after dinner, instead of suggesting we continue on. I like to think the best of people, and want to believe people are inherently kind, so I am choosing to believe he didn’t want to see me again because I am younger, not because I am too ugly, too fat, or too stupid. Thank God I remain more hopeful than jaded.

 

I suppose becoming jaded is to be expected when one has been dating as long as I have. The good news is that I am miraculously not bitter.  I am however tired of the process, and if I am going to be completely honest, which I always am, it makes me kind of sad sometimes. My life is blessed and wonderful and I’d like to share it. It is a shame it has taken so long, but I remain hopeful. I am off to the movies and a lunch date with Charlie, so it is a glorious day and I am keeping the faith.

The Beckham Hotel, Essex

After five glorious days in London, I have arrived in Essex at Hotel Beckham. I love it here and sitting at the kitchen table with Victoria is one of my happiest places on earth. Victoria and David are as hilarious as ever and their three boys are divine. Growing up very fast, and all still very funny. These are my people and coming here is like coming home. I am sad to only have a couple of nights before we make our way to Scotland, but I will take what I can get.

 

Important to note, because I always get asked about it, I am not actually with the Beckham family, but rather with my friends Jenny and Spencer, along with their kids. They are my personal Beckhams in that they are the perfect couple, and being at their house is like being at a hotel. Better actually. They take very good care of me. There are slippers, room service, two snuggly dogs, a loving cat, endless bags of Skips, and the perfect cup of tea whenever I want it.

 

It’s been a year since I last checked in, and there have been a few changes. There is a new pool, oldest son can now drive, middle son has embarked on a modelling career, and youngest son is studying for his Bar Mitzvah. Still the same are Jenny and Spencer, the cutest couple I know. By cute of course I mean they’re so sweet that prolonged exposure can give you a cavity. I wish we were neighbors instead of being on opposite ends of the world, and I’d move tomorrow if I could, and seriously think about it often.

 

Today Charlie is going into London to tour a museum and see a play, while I hang out with Victoria. We will go grocery shopping, get our nails done, be ladies who lunch, visit her mom, pick up the kids from school, and go out for dinner. It will be a day spent as if I actually lived here and were her neighbor. The perfect day. I’m sitting at the kitchen table, having sent off the kids in their Harry Potter worthy school uniforms, having a cup of tea, looking at the English sun, counting my blessings, and keeping the faith.

 

 

 

‘Manifest’ Mixes Mystery, Drama and Spiritual Questions

Josh Dallas, Melissa Roxburgh, Jeff Rake, Executive Producer at the 'Manifest' Press Room (Photo by: Todd Williamson/NBC)

An airplane encounters severe turbulence midflight and lands safely. When the passengers disembark, they’re astonished to discover that five years have passed. This intriguing scenario is the premise of the new NBC drama “Manifest,” but it’s only one element in a series that creator, executive producer and showrunner Jeff Rake likens to “Lost” meets “This Is Us.” 

“It’s a serialized event mystery but also a grounded relationship drama,” Rake told the Journal. “I think people will see elements of both in ‘Manifest.’” 

Rake came up with the idea 10 years ago while on a family road trip. “I thought, ‘What if a family was traveling in two separate planes and one of them disappeared?’ I pitched it around town. Nobody bought it,” he said. Six years later, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished, “and my idea didn’t seem so outrageous after all.” When his series “The Mysteries of Laura” was canceled, he re-pitched the idea.

Although the pilot centers on passengers Michaela (Melissa Roxburgh) and her brother Ben (Josh Dallas), “almost every episode presents a window into the life of a passenger we may not have met before,” Rake said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we meet some Jewish characters along the way.”

Michaela and Ben also represent opposite sides in an age-old debate: faith vs. science. “She believes that faith explains the mystery of the disappearance and return and the inexplicable things that are happening to them,” including the voices they hear compelling them to act, Rake said.

“Ben, on the other hand, is a mathematician, a man of science and is convinced that there must be an earthbound explanation for everything. In a very organized fashion, he starts breaking down who is and isn’t experiencing these callings, how they’re experiencing them and if there are similarities and differences. It’s one of the puzzles of the show but that question will be answered.”

Rake pointed out that although Michaela’s spiritual reference is the New Testament, “we’ll discover other people from other cultures and different faiths have their own explanations of what is happening to the passengers of this flight. Everyone in the series asks themselves the same question: how and why did this happen? We are not presenting one religious point of view, but offering the idea of faith in the most universal sense. It’s my intention that any person of faith has a way into this conversation,” he said.

“As a Jewish writer, I’m inspired by Jewish themes of redemption, second chances and tikkun olam,” he continued “We come to discover that the characters are flawed human beings who’ve been given a second chance, an opportunity to redeem themselves.”

Rake grew up in a traditional Jewish home in Los Angeles and hit the typical Jewish milestones: bar mitzvah, United Synagogue Youth, Camp Hess Kramer as a camper and counselor. He and his wife, Paulette Light, are founding members of IKAR, where her brother David’s wife, Sharon Brous, is the rabbi. Their four kids go to Camp Ramah, and the youngest will celebrate his bar mitzvah in February. “Judaism is a very important part of my life,” he said.

“I’m inspired by Jewish themes of redemption, second chances and tikkun olam. The characters are flawed human beings who’ve been given a second chance.” – Jeff Rake

Involved in speech and debate and drama in high school, Rake put creative interests aside to go to law school. Working for a law firm, he realized he’d made a mistake. He’d written a hip-hop musical about Elvis Presley and took a leave of absence from his job to mount the play at a theater in Hollywood. Soon after, “I quit my job and figured out how to write screenplays.”

He currently has a pilot in development with Warner Bros. for a Freeform show about a female assassin. “I’d love to get back to the theater some day,” he said. “I have a musical that I’d love to get off the ground. But right now it’s all ‘Manifest,’ all the time.”

Intricately plotted, high-concept shows are often hard to sustain and viewers are wary about getting attached to them. Rake acknowledged that fact but believes that “what ‘Manifest’ has going for it is it’s a triple hybrid: A combination of serialized event mystery, grounded relationship drama and procedural because there are closed-ended elements in most episodes that I think the audience will find satisfying as we inch along the mythology,” he said.

“Because we give a lot of real estate to emotional drama and procedure, it allows me to not have to burn through mythology so quickly. I think the serialized mysteries that haven’t worked petered out because they were so reliant on mythology that they had to burn through a lot of story very fast. That’s one pitfall we’ll be able to avoid.”

While the central mystery of the plane’s disappearance and return won’t be answered right away, “you have to turn cards over throughout the course of the series in order to make the audience feel rewarded,” he said. “A big card will be turned over in episode 13.” 

The initial order is for 13 episodes, with the option for nine more. “There will be goal posts along the way where we’ll make major revelations, but in every episode, there will be kernels of information,” Rake promised. “Putting aside the seemingly supernatural elements, I think the emotional drama is very compelling and reason enough to watch, but with the mystery, the procedure and the mythology, there’s something for everyone in this show,” he said. “I hope people will give it a watch and decide for themselves.”


“Manifest” premieres at 10 p.m. Sept. 24 on NBC.

Yom Kippur 2018

There is something about high holidays services, especially Kol Nidre, that brings me peace. I am a woman of faith and could listen to my Rabbi give a sermon all day long, but I feel like I am in the presence of God on this particular day. Perhaps it is because I am surrounded by a group of people and we’re all praying together, or maybe it is because my heart is open on this day. Open to all my emotions. Kol Nidre feeds my soul in important ways.

 

I like the cleansing that comes with Yom Kippur. I may not always be able to forgive those who hurt me, but I’m able to forgive myself for hanging onto the hurt, which then allows me to let go. If I have hurt anyone, I ask for your forgiveness and offer you a sincere apology. This day is not only about seeking forgiveness from others, but offering forgiveness to yourself. I go into Kol Nidre with an open mind. A mind that tells me I am starving and the fast hasn’t even started yet, but  know it is coming!

 

Yom Kippur is the one day of the year I feel completely free. Free of my demons, of which there are many, and free of the chaos that has been known to dance in my mind. I am able to tune out the noise, permit myself to have honest self-reflection, and simply be quiet with God. I will think about the past year, thank God for standing by me as I went through it, and pray for the strength to be brave, even when I don’t think am. It is a very important day to me.

 

I am not the type of person who looks for guarantees. Things happen, both good and bad, so I’m a roll with the punches kind of girl, but tonight there will be guarantees. Tonight I will search for forgiveness and it will come. I will pray for clarity and it will come. I will count my blessings, hold my son’s hand, pray out loud, and allow my faith to embrace me. May all of our names be inscribed in the book of life, may we have health and happiness, and may God guide and bless us. Thank you for being here and keeping the faith.

 

 

London Wedding Bells

 

 

A few years back I was lucky enough to cross paths with a lovely Scottish lass named Suzi. I loved her from the moment I met her. She is young, pretty, funny, kind, caring, and more than just my friend, she is my family. Suzi and I met while working for film producer Allison Shearmur. I was Alli’s personal right hand, while Suzi was her professional right hand. Suzi, Alli and I were the three musketeers and have a history that keeps us forever connected.

My wonderful sister/friend Suzi is getting married this weekend in London, and I am thrilled to be heading across the pond to watch her marry her beloved Fraser. Her happiness matters to me and I am happy to be sharing in her special day. We heartbreakingly lost our friend Alli in January, so I am taking all of Alli’s wishes for Suzi with me. Alli will be watching over our Scottish beauty on her special day and will be happy I am going on behalf of both of us.

London is my favorite city and this is the first time in years I am going for pleasure and not work. I cannot wait to be there and am excited my son is coming with me.  After all the wedding festivities, me and my boy are heading to Scotland. Neither of us have ever been, so to honor the bride we are going to visit her motherland. If Suzi is representative of what Scottish people are like, then I’m certain to fall in love with every Scot who’s path I cross.

I am very happy for my friend. She deserves nothing but joy. She is selfless and even though we live on opposite sides of the world, she has always made me feel like she is close by. She has lifted me up when I was low, and reminded me to count my blessings when I struggled to see them. She loves me, which makes me a very lucky girl. I cannot wait to hug my friend and see her dream come true. I love you loads Suz and cannot wait to see you in your wedding dress.

I remember sitting with Suzi and Alli in a pub in London, wondering when she would get engaged. To clarify, Alli and I wondered, and pushed, and obsessed, but Suzi was cool and entertained two crazy yentas. I am honored to be included and look forward to being in London I hope there is no rain. I also hope there is a ridiculously attractive bartender. A few drinks and he will be, so let the festivities begin. I am excited, happy, and keeping the faith.hope

 

Motherhood 101: Kvelling

My son told me he wanted to be an actor when he was four years old. He is now twenty-two and in the past eighteen years he has never wavered. Not one time. He has been focused on his goals and worked hard. There has been success and failure. There has been joy and disappointment. There has however, never been doubt. Being an actor is all he ever wanted to be.

 

It has been challenging as a mother to watch my child pursue a career in the entertainment industry. The highs are high and the lows are low. My son sees each booking and each rejection as a lesson. He’s stayed on his path with a slow and steady stride. I’ve thought his life could be easier if he made a different career choice, but I’ve never discouraged him from chasing his dreams.

 

He works hard and supports himself. He is motivated, dedicated, driven, and ridiculously talented. This week he accomplished two things he’s been working on for a very long time. He submitted a film he produced and co-stars in to the Sundance Film Festival. He also took a giant step forward as a comedy performer. Both accomplishments leave me keeling. I am very proud of my son.

 

He is a wonderful actor and can make me laugh like nobody else on the planet. The kid is not only funny, but has perfect comedic timing. He is kind and sweet, handsome and charming. He speaks of his successes not in money or praise, but in how he wants to take care of me. It is lovely and makes me proud of not only him, but myself. We are very close and I appreciate our relationship.

 

He’s been working hard to get to where he is and we’re celebrating and going on holiday. We leave Wednesday night after Yom Kipper for our favorite city of London. We will also visit Scotland for the first time, and I cannot wait. He is my favorite person and I treasure time with him. It is an exciting time in his life and having a front row seat is a blessing that comes from keeping the faith.

 

 

Lunch with Leann Rimes

Last weekend while my son was in Calabasas for work, he went out to lunch with a friend. I was hoping to join them, but couldn’t make it out there in time, so they went out to eat on their own. This is the text thread between him and me from that day.

 

 

 

Charlie – You’ll never guess who is eating lunch at the next table.

Me – Who?

Charlie – Guess

Me – Tom Cruise

Charlie – Really mom? Tom Cruise is eating in Calabasas?

Me – It could happen.

Charlie – It’s not Tom Cruise

Me – Oprah!

Charlie. Wow Mom. Oprah is not here.

Me – Who is it then?

Charlie – Guess

Me – Oh. My. God. CELINE DION!

Charlie – You’re not even trying

Me – Who is it?

Charlie – Leann Rimes

Me – Glad I’m not with you or I’d be arrested

Charlie – Hahaha

Me – Give her my love

Charlie – Love you

Me – Love you too

 

Cut to two days later when I had dinner with Charlie. We were chatting and he said he was surprised I hadn’t asked if he took a picture of Leann. To be honest, I had forgotten about it. Now that I no longer write Keeping it Real, she is not someone I think about. I wrote about her when it was my job, then when it wasn’t my job, I moved on.  He showed me a picture he took and she looked like she always looks, not particularly good.

 

My son then told me she must simply not be photogenic, because in person she was very pretty. He said she was tiny and pretty, while Eddie was tall and handsome. He called them “two good looking people”, and when he looked at Leann and she looked back, she smiled. He said they seemed like normal people, out to eat just like him.

 

I have never met Leann. We certainly have a long history together, but do not know each other. I wrote about her because it was my job, not because I was particularly interested or invested in her. On the flip side, she became very interested and invested in me, going as far as to have me escorted out of a concert by armed sheriffs because she felt threatened. Bless her heart.

 

At the end of the day I wish her well. I still think she is bat shit crazy, but I wish her well. I appreciate she smiled at my son and think it is sweet my boy thought she was pretty. I’m certain that had I been with my son at lunch, she would have had absolutely no idea who I was. I was never anything to her but someone to focus her crazy on while her husband focused his energy elsewhere. At the end of the day, if I was willing to write about her craziness, I have to be impartial and also write when there is good stuff.

 

So Leann Rimes is a pretty girl, married to a handsome man, living her life. Good for her. I am now, as I have always been, writing about her because I get paid to. I have no skin in the games she plays. I’m just doing my job, and when this blog is posted, I will stop thinking about her again. She will read it and of course obsess about me, which I think is fascinating, but that’s to be expected from someone who isn’t keeping the faith.

 

Curse of the Common Cold

My son was sick over the weekend and called to say he wanted to come home. I immediately made enough matzo ball soup for an army, and happily took care of him for 3 days. I laid down with him to watch TV, picked up all his used tissues, and sat with him as he ate soup while sneezing like it was his job. While I was of course sad he got such a bad cold, it was my pleasure to take care of him.

 

I love it when he comes home. I sleep better when he is here. Food tastes better when we are eating together. I laugh nonstop when he is here. I love him to bits and now that he is older and out on his own, I miss him so much it hurts. Do I sometimes sleep in his room just because? Yes. Yes, I do. He is my favorite human being. He is also the person who has now left me saddled with a cold.

 

He is thankfully now feeling much better, and by the end of the week will be back to 100%. I on the other hand, am sick. I cannot breathe out of my nose, and when I do manage to clear it enough to breathe, it feels like the breathes are firing straight into my brain. My throat hurts, I am achy, and I just want to sleep. That is sadly not an option until the weekend, so I am pushing through.

 

When my son got sick he received 5 Star treatment. I’m sitting on the couch, in the clothes I wore to work, wrapped in a blanket, trying to muster up strength to heat up a can of soup. I will end up passing on the soup, falling asleep on the couch, waking up in the middle of the night, eating crackers, making a cup of tea, having a little cry, falling back asleep, then getting up for work.

 

I’m hoping it’s a 24-hour-cold-not-really-a-cold-just-a-smidge-of-a-bug situation, but I fear I won’t get lucky on that wish. I have a cold, feel like crap, and have been unable to train the cat to make me soup or get me tissues. This too shall pass, but it’s rough. Being sick on your own is a blessing and a curse. There is nobody to judge my pathetic self, but also nobody to take care of me.

 

I wish my mom was here. She takes good care of me. She’d cook for me, play with my hair, draw me a bath, and tell me I look beautiful, even though we both know I look like garbage. I need to drag myself off the couch, take out my contact lenses before they permanently attach to my eyeballs, get a fresh box of tissues, and go to bed. I may be sick, but I am still keeping the faith.

Remembering September 11, 2001

On September 11, 2001, 2,819 people were murdered during the attacks on America. These are the names of the people who died on that horrible day.  Remember. Pray. Keep the faith.

Gordon M. Aamoth Jr. 
Edelmiro Abad 
Maria Rose Abad 
Andrew Anthony Abate
 Vincent Abate 
Laurence Christopher Abel
 William F. Abrahamson
 Richard Anthony Aceto
 Jesus Acevedo Rescand 
Heinrich Bernhard Ackermann 
Paul Acquaviva 
Donald LaRoy Adams
Patrick Adams
 Shannon Lewis Adams
 Stephen George Adams
Ignatius Udo Adanga
Christy A. Addamo
 Terence E. Adderley, Jr.
 Sophia Buruwad Addo 
Lee Allan Adler 
Daniel Thomas Afflitto
 Emmanuel Akwasi Afuakwah 
Alok Agarwal
Mukul Kumar Agarwala
Joseph Agnello
David Scott Agnes
Brian G. Ahearn
Jeremiah Joseph Ahern
Joanne Marie Ahladiotis
Shabbir Ahmed
Terrance Andre Aiken
Godwin Ajala
Gertrude M. Alagero
Andrew Alameno 
Margaret Ann Alario
Gary M. Albero
Jon Leslie Albert
Peter Alderman
Jacquelyn Delaine Aldridge
David D. Alger
Sarah Ali-Escarcega
Ernest Alikakos
Edward L. Allegretto
Eric Allen
Joseph Ryan Allen
Richard Dennis Allen
Richard Lanard Allen
Christopher E. Allingham
Janet M. Alonso
Arturo Alva-Moreno
Anthony Alvarado
Antonio Javier Alvarez
Victoria Alvarez-Brito
Telmo E. Alvear
Cesar Amoranto Alviar
Tariq Amanullah
Angelo Amaranto
James M. Amato Joseph Amatuccio
Christopher Charles Amoroso
Kazuhiro Anai
Calixto Anaya, Jr.
Joseph Anchundia
Kermit Charles Anderson
Yvette Constance Anderson
John Andreacchio
Michael Rourke Andrews
Jean Ann Andrucki
Siew-Nya Ang
Joseph Angelini, Jr.
Joseph Angelini, Sr.
Laura Angilletta
Doreen J. Angrisani
Lorraine Antigua
Peter Paul Apollo
Faustino Apostol, Jr.
Frank Thomas Aquilino
Patrick Michael Aranyos
David Arce
Michael George Arczynski 
Louis Arena
Adam P. Arias
Michael Armstrong
Jack Charles Aron
Joshua Aron
Richard Avery Aronow
Japhet Jesse Aryee
Patrick Asante
Carl Asaro
Michael Asciak
Michael Edward Asher
Janice Marie Ashley
Thomas J. Ashton
Manuel O. Asitimbay
Gregg Arthur Atlas
Gerald T. Atwood
James Audiffred
Louis Frank Aversano, Jr.
Ezra Aviles
Sandy Ayala
Arlene T. Babakitis
Eustace P. Bacchus
John J. Badagliacca
Jane Ellen Baeszler
Robert J. Baierwalter
Andrew J. Bailey
Brett T. Bailey
Tatyana Bakalinskaya
Michael S. Baksh
Sharon M. Balkcom
Michael Andrew Bane
Katherine Bantis
Gerard Baptiste
Walter Baran
Gerard A. Barbara
Paul Vincent Barbaro
James William Barbella
Ivan Kyrillos F. Barbosa
Victor Daniel Barbosa
Colleen Ann Barkow
David Michael Barkway
Matthew Barnes
Sheila Patricia Barnes
Evan J. Baron
Renee Barrett-Arjune
Nathaly Barrios La Cruz
Arthur Thaddeus Barry
Diane G. Barry
Maurice Vincent Barry
Scott D. Bart
Carlton W. Bartels
Guy Barzvi
Inna B. Basina
Alysia Basmajian 
Kenneth William Basnicki
Steven Bates
Paul James Battaglia
Walter David Bauer, Jr.
Marlyn Capito Bautista
Jasper Baxter
Michele Beale
Paul Frederick Beatini
Jane S. Beatty
Lawrence Ira Beck
Manette Marie Beckles
Carl John Bedigian
Michael Earnest Beekman
Maria A. Behr
Yelena Belilovsky 
Nina Patrice Bell
Debbie Bellows
Stephen Elliot Belson
Paul M. Benedetti
Denise Lenore Benedetto 
Maria Bengochea
Bryan Craig Bennett
Eric L. Bennett
Oliver Duncan Bennett
Margaret L. Benson
Dominick J. Berardi
James Patrick Berger
Steven Howard Berger
John P. Bergin
Alvin Bergsohn
Daniel Bergstein
Michael J. Berkeley Chic Burlingame 
Donna M. Bernaerts
David W. Bernard
William Bernstein
David M. Berray
David S. Berry
Joseph J. Berry
William Reed Bethke
Timothy Betterly
Edward Frank Beyea
Paul Beyer
Anil Tahilram Bharvaney
Bella J. Bhukhan
Shimmy D. Biegeleisen
Peter Alexander Bielfeld
William G. Biggart
Brian Bilcher
Carl Vincent Bini
Gary Eugene Bird
Joshua David Birnbaum
George John Bishop
Jeffrey Donald Bittner
Albert Balewa Blackman, Jr.
Christopher Joseph Blackwell
Susan Leigh Blair
Harry Blanding, Jr.
Janice Lee Blaney
Craig Michael Blass
Rita Blau
Richard Middleton Blood, Jr.
Michael Andrew Boccardi 
John P. Bocchi
Michael Leopoldo Bocchino
Susan M. Bochino
Bruce D. Boehm
Mary Catherine Boffa
Nicholas Andrew Bogdan
Darren Christopher Bohan
Lawrence Francis Boisseau
Vincent M. Boland, Jr.
Alan Bondarenko 
Andre Bonheur, Jr.
Colin Arthur Bonnett
Frank Bonomo
Yvonne Lucia Bonomo
Genieve Bonsignore, 3 
Seaon Booker
Sherry Ann Bordeaux
Krystine Bordenabe
Martin Boryczewski
Richard Edward Bosco
John H. Boulton
Francisco Eligio Bourdier
Thomas Harold Bowden, Jr.
Kimberly S. Bowers
Veronique Nicole Bowers
Larry Bowman
Shawn Edward Bowman, Jr.
Kevin L. Bowser
Gary R. Box
Gennady Boyarsky
Pamela Boyce
Michael Boyle
Alfred Braca
Kevin Bracken
David Brian Brady
Alexander Braginsky
Nicholas W. Brandemarti
Michelle Renee Bratton
Patrice Braut
Lydia E. Bravo
Ronald Michael Breitweiser
Edward A. Brennan III
Francis Henry Brennan
Michael E. Brennan
Peter Brennan
Thomas M. Brennan
Daniel J. Brethel
Gary Lee Bright
Jonathan Briley
Mark A. Brisman
Paul Gary Bristow
Mark Francis Broderick
Herman Charles Broghammer
Keith A. Broomfield
Ethel Brown Janice 
Juloise Brown
Lloyd Stanford Brown
Patrick J. Brown
Bettina Browne
Mark Bruce
Richard George Bruehert
Andrew Brunn
Vincent Brunton
Ronald Paul Bucca
Brandon J. Buchanan
Gregory Joseph Buck
Dennis Buckley
Nancy Clare Bueche
Patrick Joseph Buhse
John Edwards Bulaga, Jr.
Stephen Bunin
Matthew J. Burke 
Thomas Daniel Burke
William Francis Burke, Jr.
Donald J. Burns
Kathleen Anne Burns
Keith James Burns
John Patrick Burnside
Irina Buslo
Milton G. Bustillo
Thomas M. Butler
Patrick Byrne
Timothy G. Byrne 
Jesus Neptali Cabezas
Lillian Caceres
Brian Joseph Cachia
Steven Dennis Cafiero, Jr.
Richard M. Caggiano
Cecile Marella Caguicla
Michael John Cahill
Scott Walter Cahill
Thomas Joseph Cahill
George Cain
Salvatore B. Calabro
Joseph Calandrillo
Philip V. Calcagno
Edward Calderon
Kenneth Marcus Caldwell
Dominick Enrico Calia
Felix Calixte
Frank Callahan
Liam Callahan
Luigi Calvi
Roko Camaj
Michael F. Cammarata
David Otey Campbell
Geoffrey Thomas Campbell
Jill Marie Campbell
Robert Arthur Campbell
Sandra Patricia Campbell 
Sean Thomas Canavan
John A. Candela
Vincent Cangelosi
Stephen J. Cangialosi
Lisa Bella Cannava
Brian Cannizzaro 
Michael Canty
Louis Anthony Caporicci
Jonathan Neff Cappello
James Christopher Cappers
Richard Michael Caproni
Jose Manuel Cardona
Dennis M. Carey
Steve Carey
Edward Carlino
Michael Scott Carlo
David G. Carlone 
Rosemarie C. Carlson
Mark Stephen Carney
Joyce Ann Carpeneto
Ivhan Luis Carpio Bautista 
Jeremy M. Carrington
Michael Carroll
Peter Carroll
James Joseph Carson, Jr.
Marcia Cecil Carter
James Marcel Cartier
Vivian Casalduc
John Francis Casazza
Paul R. Cascio
Margarito Casillas
Thomas Anthony Casoria
William Otto Caspar
Alejandro Castano
Arcelia Castillo
Germaan Castillo Garcia
Leonard M. Castrianno
Jose Ramon Castro
Richard G. Catarelli
Christopher Sean Caton
Robert John Caufield
Mary Teresa Caulfield
Judson Cavalier
Michael Joseph Cawley
Jason David Cayne
Juan Armando Ceballos
Jason Michael Cefalu
Thomas Joseph Celic
Ana Mercedes Centeno
Joni Cesta
Jeffrey Marc Chairnoff
Swarna Chalasani 
William Chalcoff
Eli Chalouh
Charles Lawrence Chan
Mandy Chang
Mark Lawrence Charette
Gregorio Manuel Chavez
Delrose E. Cheatham
Pedro Francisco Checo
Douglas MacMillan Cherry
Stephen Patrick Cherry
Vernon Paul Cherry
Nester Julio Chevalier
Swede Chevalier 
Alexander H. Chiang
Dorothy J. Chiarchiaro
Luis Alfonso Chimbo
Robert Chin
Wing Wai Ching
Nicholas Paul Chiofalo
John Chipura
Peter A. Chirchirillo
Catherine Chirls
Kyung Hee Cho
Abul K. Chowdhury
Mohammad Salahuddin Chowdhury
Kirsten L. Christophe
Pamela Chu
Steven Chucknick
Wai Chung
Christopher Ciafardini
Alex F. Ciccone
Frances Ann Cilente
Elaine Cillo
Edna Cintron
Nestor Andre Cintron III
Robert Dominick Cirri
Juan Pablo Cisneros-Alvarez
Benjamin Keefe Clark
Eugene Clark
Gregory Alan Clark
Mannie Leroy Clark
Thomas R. Clark
Christopher Robert Clarke
Donna Marie Clarke
Michael J. Clarke 
Suria Rachel Emma Clarke
Kevin Francis Cleary
James D. Cleere 
Geoffrey W. Cloud
Susan Marie Clyne
Steven Coakley
Jeffrey Alan Coale
Patricia A. Cody
Daniel Michael Coffey
Jason M. Coffey
Florence G. Cohen
Kevin Sanford Cohen
Anthony Joseph Coladonato
Mark Joseph Colaio
Stephen Colaio
Christopher M. Colasanti
Kevin Nathaniel Colbert
Michel P. Colbert 
Keith E. Coleman
Scott Thomas Coleman
Tarel Coleman
Liam Joseph Colhoun
Robert D. Colin
Robert J. Coll
Jean Collin
John Michael Collins
Michael L. Collins
Thomas J. Collins
Joseph Collison
Patricia Malia Colodner
Linda M. Colon
Sol E. Colon
Ronald Edward Comer
Sandra Jolane Conaty Brace
Jaime Concepcion
Albert Conde
Denease Conley
Susan P. Conlon
Margaret Mary Conner
Cynthia Marie Lise Connolly
John E. Connolly, Jr.
James Lee Connor
Jonathan M. Connors
Kevin Patrick Connors
Kevin F. Conroy
Jose Manuel Contreras-Fernandez 
Brenda E. Conway
Dennis Michael Cook
Helen D. Cook
John A. Cooper
Joseph John Coppo, Jr.
Gerard J. Coppola
Joseph Albert Corbett
Alejandro Cordero
Robert Cordice
Ruben D. Correa 
Danny A. Correa-Gutierrez
James J. Corrigan
Carlos Cortes
Kevin Cosgrove
Dolores Marie Costa
Digna Alexandra Costanza
Charles Gregory Costello, Jr.
Michael S. Costello
Conrod K. Cottoy 
Martin John Coughlan
John Gerard Coughlin
Timothy J. Coughlin
James E. Cove
Andre Cox
Frederick John Cox
James Raymond Coyle
Michele Coyle-Eulau
Anne Marie Cramer
Christopher S. Cramer
Denise Elizabeth Crant
James Leslie Crawford, Jr.
Robert James Crawford
Joanne Mary Cregan
Lucy Crifasi
John A. Crisci
Daniel Hal Crisman
Dennis Cross
Kevin Raymond Crotty
Thomas G. Crotty
John Crowe
Welles Remy Crowther
Robert L. Cruikshank
John Robert Cruz 
Grace Yu Cua
Kenneth John Cubas
Francisco Cruz Cubero
Richard J. Cudina
Neil James Cudmore
Thomas Patrick Cullen lll
Joyce Cummings 
Brian Thomas Cummins
Michael Cunningham
Robert Curatolo
Laurence Damian Curia
Paul Dario Curioli
Beverly Curry
Michael S. Curtin 
Gavin Cushny
John D’Allara
Vincent Gerard D’Amadeo
Jack D’Ambrosi
Mary D’Antonio
Edward A. D’Atri
Michael D. D’Auria
Michael Jude D’Esposito
Manuel John Da Mota
Caleb Arron Dack
Carlos S. DaCosta
Joao Alberto DaFonseca Aguiar, Jr.
Thomas A. Damaskinos
Jeannine Marie Damiani-Jones
Patrick W. Danahy
Nana Danso
Vincent Danz
Dwight Donald Darcy
Elizabeth Ann Darling
Annette Andrea Dataram
Lawrence Davidson
Michael Allen Davidson
Scott Matthew Davidson
Titus Davidson
Niurka Davila
Clinton Davis
Wayne Terrial Davis
Anthony Richard Dawson
Calvin Dawson
Edward James Day
Jayceryll de Chavez
Jennifer De Jesus
Monique E. De Jesus
Nereida De Jesus
Emerita De La Pena
Azucena Maria de la Torre
David Paul De Rubbio
Jemal Legesse De Santis 
Christian Louis De Simone
Melanie Louise De Vere
William Thomas Dean
Robert J. DeAngelis, Jr.
Thomas Patrick DeAngelis
Tara E. Debek
Anna Marjia DeBin
James V. Deblase
Paul DeCola
Simon Marash Dedvukaj
Jason Defazio
David A. DeFeo
Manuel Del Valle, Jr.
Donald Arthur Delapenha
Vito Joseph DeLeo
Danielle Anne Delie
Joseph A. Della Pietra
Andrea DellaBella
Palmina DelliGatti
Colleen Ann Deloughery
Francis Albert DeMartini
Anthony Demas
Martin N. DeMeo 
Francis Deming
Carol K. Demitz
Kevin Dennis
Thomas F. Dennis
Jean DePalma
Jose Depena
Robert John Deraney
Michael DeRienzo
Edward DeSimone III
Andrew Desperito
Cindy Ann Deuel
Jerry DeVito
Robert P. Devitt, Jr.
Dennis Lawrence Devlin
Gerard Dewan
Sulemanali Kassamali Dhanani
Patricia Florence Di Chiaro
Debra Ann Di Martino
Michael Louis Diagostino
Matthew Diaz
Nancy Diaz
Rafael Arturo Diaz
Michael A. Diaz-Piedra III
Judith Berquis Diaz-Sierra
Joseph Dermot Dickey, Jr.
Lawrence Patrick Dickinson
Michael D. Diehl
John Difato
Vincent Difazio
Carl Anthony DiFranco
Donald Difranco
Stephen Patrick Dimino
William John Dimmling
Marisa DiNardo Schorpp
Christopher M. Dincuff
Jeffrey Mark Dingle
Anthony Dionisio 
George DiPasquale
Joseph Dipilato
Douglas Frank DiStefano
Ramzi A. Doany
John Joseph Doherty
Melissa C. Doi
Brendan Dolan
Neil Matthew Dollard
James Joseph Domanico 
Benilda Pascua Domingo 
Carlos Dominguez
Jerome Mark Patrick Dominguez
Kevin W. Donnelly
Jacqueline Donovan
Stephen Scott Dorf
Thomas Dowd
Kevin Dowdell
Mary Yolanda Dowling
Raymond Mathew Downey
Frank Joseph Doyle
Joseph Michael Doyle
Stephen Patrick Driscoll
Mirna A. Duarte
Michelle Beale Duberry 
Luke A. Dudek
Christopher Michael Duffy 
Gerard Duffy
Michael Joseph Duffy
Thomas W. Duffy 
Antoinette Duger 
Sareve Dukat
Christopher Joseph Dunne
Richard Anthony Dunstan
Patrick Thomas Dwyer
Joseph Anthony Eacobacci
John Bruce Eagleson
Robert Douglas Eaton
Dean Phillip Eberling
Margaret Ruth Echtermann
Paul Robert Eckna
Constantine Economos
Dennis Michael Edwards
Michael Hardy Edwards
Christine Egan
Lisa Egan
Martin J. Egan, Jr.
Michael Egan
Samantha Martin Egan
Carole Eggert
Lisa Caren Ehrlich
John Ernst Eichler
Eric Adam Eisenberg
Daphne Ferlinda Elder
Michael J. Elferis 
Mark Joseph Ellis
Valerie Silver Ellis
Albert Alfy William Elmarry
Edgar Hendricks Emery, Jr.
Doris Suk-Yuen Eng
Christopher Epps
Ulf Ramm Ericson
Erwin L. Erker
William John Erwin
Jose Espinal
Fanny Espinoza
Bridget Ann Esposito
Francis Esposito 
Michael Esposito 
William Esposito 
Ruben Esquilin, Jr.
Sadie Ette
Barbara G. Etzold
Eric Brian Evans
Robert Evans
Meredith Emily June Ewart
Catherine K. Fagan
Patricia Mary Fagan
Keith George Fairben
Sandra Fajardo-Smith
William F. Fallon
William Lawrence Fallon, Jr.
Anthony J. Fallone, Jr.
Dolores Brigitte Fanelli
John Joseph Fanning
Kathleen Anne Faragher
Thomas Farino
Nancy Carole Farley
Elizabeth Ann Farmer
Douglas Jon Farnum
John G. Farrell
John W. Farrell
Terrence Patrick Farrell
Joseph D. Farrelly
Thomas Patrick Farrelly
Syed Abdul Fatha
Christopher Edward Faughnan
Wendy R. Faulkner
Shannon Marie Fava
Bernard D. Favuzza
Robert Fazio, Jr.
Ronald Carl Fazio
William Feehan
Francis Jude Feely
Garth Erin Feeney
Sean B. Fegan
Lee S. Fehling
Peter Adam Feidelberg
Alan D. Feinberg 
Rosa Maria Feliciano
Edward Thomas Fergus, Jr.
George Ferguson
Henry Fernandez 
Judy Hazel Fernandez
Julio Fernandez
Elisa Giselle Ferraina
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Happy New Year

I am sitting on the couch, listening to my son coughing and blowing his nose. He has a horrible cold and the poor kid is suffering. He called me yesterday and said he was feeling worse than the day before, and needed to come home. I jumped into action and made a pot of matzo ball soup. He has been here for 24 hours of eating, sleeping, coughing, and blowing his nose. I am of course sad he is sick, but I am happy he is home. It feels great to take care of him.

 

He will always be my baby and I am not ashamed to tell you I sat in his room this afternoon for 15 minutes and watched him sleep. I stared at this remarkable young man, proud of who he is, excited about who he will become, and grateful to be his mom. It warms my heart that when he got sick he immediately wanted to come home. I have made the soup, spinach and mushroom kugel, apple and honey kugel, brisket, and potatoes. (The food is a bribe for him to stay longer.)

 

I love him so much it aches that he doesn’t live with me anymore. I miss him and so while having him here is heaven, when he leaves again the silence will be deafening. We raise our kids to be productive adults, but don’t think about the fact that when it happens, they leave home. Damn it! I worked 22 years to reach this stage of life, but it is hard. I miss him. Every Rosh Hashanah I say I’m going to be brave and embrace the stage of life I’m in, but this stage is hard.

 

With each year I make resolutions and while I honestly try to make change each year, this year feels different. This is going to be a great year. My son has produced a movie that will be coming out soon. I have been dating without expectations and with a sense of humor. I’m taking care of my body and soul. I am connecting to God, embracing faith, and mastering the art of the perfect martini. Life is good and I am blessed my son lives close and still comes home.

 

I always write people need to be brave and not only follow their hearts, but not settle for the things they get because they believe they are what they deserve. It is my turn to believe and embrace my own advice. I am going into the year knowing I deserve it all. I’m going to write more, eat less, pray more, and cry less. I’m going to find my bashert. He will be strong enough to not only let me be me, but strong enough to be himself. It will be a great year for us all. #impeachment

 

I wish you all a happy and healthy new year. I hope your challenges are few, but should you hit a bump, know I am here cheering you on. Be brave. This is your life and only you can live it. Do what makes sense to you, and what feels good to you. Have some fun. Have more sex. Have really good sex. Laugh. Often and out loud. Resist. Take a knee. Make a difference. Inspire change. Speak out. Go out. Everything and anything is possible if you believe, so keep the faith.

Dating 101

I went on a date this week with a man I met online. While speaking on the phone before meeting, we talked about religion. He referred to himself as spiritual, but not at all religious. He also said if forced to label himself, it would be agnostic. I told him I believe in God and was a practicing Jew. He said there were things about Judaism he thought were interesting, but was not a fan of organized religion as a whole.

 

I shared I would never have a Christmas tree, and he shared he hadn’t had one in over twenty years. I told him I like to go to temple for Shabbat services and celebrated Jewish holidays. He said he’d accompany me if he was there as simply someone to have by my side, and not to convert. It was an easy and open conversation. I’m trying to think outside the box, so we made a plan to meet for drinks. He is 55, divorced with one adult child, has a dog and a cat.

 

A Jew and an agnostic walk into a bar. They say hello, order drinks, and sit down for a chat. After five minutes of small talk about traffic and weather, the agnostic asks the Jew what she thinks about Jesus. The Jew replies that she doesn’t often think about Jesus. The agnostic then tells the Jew he “thinks about Jesus often and how he died for his sins”. The Jew reminds the agnostic that he said he was agnostic, and the agnostic tells the Jew religion and Jesus are not synonymous and can be separated from each other.

 

The Jew, also being a lady, then spends the next 30 minutes listening to the agnostic talk about Jesus. By talk of course he speaks of his hair, clothes, sacrifice, and most importantly, how Jesus didn’t want to ever be considered a Jew. The Jew tells the agnostic it was lovely to meet him and she enjoyed the drink, but she was going to have to head out. The parting words of the Jew are “take care’. The parting words of the agnostic are “Jesus loves you.”

 

I am a woman who gains strength through faith, so I would never judge someone based on what they believe. To each their own and I feel strongly that religion is personal and everyone can worship in whatever way brings them comfort. I am Jewish and I take comfort in private prayer and being with my tribe at services. That’s how I roll. I am not an expert on Jesus, but I am quite certain that even Jesus was confused by this guy and was shaking his head while watching our date..

 

My dating life has always been interesting, but lately it has taken a bizarre turn. You can’t make this stuff up, so I have to wonder what it is about me that attracts such dating. I would like to think it is because I am kind so perhaps these people simply need kindness. I asked Jesus about it, since he was clearly on my date with me, and he just laughed. He actually laughed out loud, told me he was sorry, then laughed some more. Sweet Jesus is awesome. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Friday. Be safe out there and remember to keep the faith.

Motherhood 101 – Dangerous Roads

My son got his learner’s permit the very first day he was able. He made an appointment at the DMV, found the driving school he wanted to use, and started to look for cars. He was excited to drive, and had saved his Bar Mitzvah money to buy a car. He had a plan and stuck to it. I was happy for him to have reached the milestone, but have been terrified from the first day he drove. That daily fear continues today and will be there for the rest of my life.

When I gave Charlie driving lessons he called me “Howler Mom” because he said I screamed like a howler monkey when he drove. I did. It is horrible when your baby starts to drive. He is thankfully a great driver, but it is not just your child you worry about when they take the car out, but rather the maniacs they share the road with. Driving is a big deal and a mom never stops worrying about it. I cannot really sleep until I know he is home safe. Driving is a major stress point that comes with motherhood.

Last week Charlie was driving on the 405 freeway and noticed a box spring in the middle of the lane next to his. A car came up on that lane and tried to avoid hitting it, but managed to clip the box spring, and sent is flying. The airborne box spring then crashed into the front of Charlie’s car. He is lucky he did not lose control of the car, or get in an accident, or have it go through the front windshield. He was shaken but safe.

His car was totaled, but thank God he is okay. The car that he bought with his Bar Mitzvah money, the car he has treated like a baby for 6 six years, is headed to the junkyard and he is sad to see the poor girl go. I have been on edge since it happened because you just never know what can happen. Things can literally come out of nowhere and change everything. The scariest part is that you can’t prepare for it.

This weekend I bought my baby a new baby. It is not the car of his dreams, but that is a car he will buy for himself one day. I bought him a safe and reliable used car, and he is both happy and appreciative. I am counting my blessings he is okay and thankful to his old car for keeping him safe. You just never know what will happen, so be safe out there. I am counting my blessings, saying thanks, and keeping the faith.

 

A Helping Hand

Yesterday as my son was leaving the house, he noticed a small bee sitting on the wall by the door. He didn’t pay too much attention to it as he was heading out, but when he returned about 30 minutes later, he saw the bee was still there. He wondered if it was dead, and took a closer look. The poor thing was alive, but clinging to the wall and clearly in some kind of distress, so my son decided to help.

He came into the house, got a tablespoon, added sugar and water, and went back to the bee. The poor little thing got on the spoon and began to drink the sugar water. It was truly amazing. I stared at this wonderful little creature, and also at my remarkable son, with awe. He held the spoon steady as the bee drank, then slowly moved the spoon to the counter so it would be still and the bee could drink calmly.

Charlie then took the bee back outside, set it on the ground, and left it there.  When he went back a little while later, there was no bee on the spoon. A bee was buzzing around, and he couldn’t know if it was the same bee, but I’d like to think it was. He hung around to let my boy know he was alright and thank him for his kindness. It was a beautiful exchange between man and animal. I have attached a video of the sweet, little bee drinking below.

There are humans who are simply unworthy of animals, then there are people like my son, who are blessed with love and respect for animals. I am touched by the kindness my son shows to all living things. He is a good man and yesterday not only did I know it, but so did a lovely little bee. Have a great weekend everyone. Shabbat Shalom. Show kindness and know that animals are also just trying to keep the faith.

 

Oh Canada!

I went home to Canada to surprise my niece for her birthday. I took the redeye last Thursday night, and came back to LA on Sunday. It was a wonderful, albeit far too short visit. Here’s the thing about going home though, even 5 minutes can feed your soul. I was surrounded by family, friends, nature, Canadian accents, and animals. I was in cottage country on Lake Simcoe, which is a glorious place.

I woke my niece up when I went in her room, and she simply stared at me, unsure what was happening. She then jumped up and hugged me like her life depended on it. She is a wonderful human being and I would love her even if she wasn’t family. I am very happy I went for the weekend. The truth is I would fly home every weekend if I could. There is no place like home, and home is Canada.

I played board games, read while relaxing in a hammock, watched the sun rise with a cup of tea sitting by the lake, and watched the sun set at a dinner table covered with delicious food and enveloped in good conversation and laughter. I tuned out the noise of life for a couple of days and slowed everything down. It was a terrific weekend and I was happy, which is a blessing often overlooked in the chaos of life.

Canadians are good people. There is inherent kindness and generosity. Not only that, but there is a genuine desire to talk to people. Whether you are at the grocery store, or sitting and waiting for your flight to be called, a Canadian will smile and engage in a way that is classically Canadian. I have lived in America longer than I lived in Canada, but Canada will always be what feeds my soul.

I cried when my brother dropped me off at the airport. Not a pretty tear down the cheek situation, but rather a bawling and gasping for breath type of thing. I flew home comforted by a bag of ketchup potato chips and a Coffee Crisp. When I miss my brother I will pull out my emergency stash of Aero, remember the weekend, and keep the faith.

 

 

 

My Future Life as a Gay Man

Last weekend I went to my friend Justin’s birthday party. We live only 15 minutes away from each other, but met through friend’s in Australia. We bonded quickly and have spent the past two Thanksgivings together with our Aussie posse. He is my go to friend when I need a pick me up because he always has a positive outlook. I love him very much. He is kind, funny, charming, and has a generous spirit. He is dependable and always ready with advice that is 100% spot on.

I have met wonderful people through Justin. He surrounds himself with lovely souls and has built a family of friends. When I walked into his birthday party I was greeted with kisses and genuine happiness to see me. What made it so special is that most of the people were strangers to me. Justin introduced me as his friend, which automatically made me their friend. I felt welcomed, embraced, and included.

I was a 52-year woman, surrounded by twenty something, handsome, and charming gay men. I was told I had great hair, pretty eyes, and fabulous boobs. I was welcomed into every conversation, and asked about me and my life. It was supportive and inclusive and I felt like I was in the gay version of a kibbutz. For anyone who knows what the community of a kibbutz is like, you will understand what a great feeling it was. There was something very Jew-ISH about the birthday party.

Important to note I would have made out with most of the men at the party, and a couple of the women, which is fun since chicks are not my thing. Some of the men were so beautiful I would leave the lights on and not focus on sucking in my stomach, just so I could focus on how handsome they were. Dear Lord. I left the party with a sore neck from all the head turning as I watched a parade of gorgeousness, mostly in Speedos.

I have decided I want to come back in my next life as an attractive gay man who is loved by his parents and living out loud. I loved being a part of Justin’s family and was happy to have a glimpse of what my next life as a gay man looked like. Can’t wait. To my darling Justin, Happy Birthday! I love you and was honored to be included in your celebration with your family of friends. I wish you a year of health and happiness. You make me happy and inspire me to always keep the faith.