Do Your Thanksgiving With an Eye toward helping

I can’t believe it-Thanksgiving is just a few days a way. In a little over a week, Americans will be asked to gather with family and friends and eat their way to gratitude. This year in light of so many who have so few, take some real time to give back.  Food pantries are pushed to their limit. More than ever America is hungry-literally.  The unemployed and underemployed because of the economic havoc in this nation and around the globe really need the boost of help because many cannot afford basic food.

Sova, the Jewish Food Pantry run by Los Angeles’ Jewish Family Service is serving more people than ever. One of their locations is just a few doors from our synagogue, Kol Ami.  The lines grow each and every day of people needing assistance.  In speaking with our volunteers who go twice a month to help stock shelves and process the clients I know that Sova has seen a dramatic increase in the last couple of years of those who need assistance.

And this isn’t just here in Los Angeles. It is in every city.

So as you prepare you Thanksgiving Shopping lists.  Please shop and donate to your nearest food pantry.  The gaps grow between rich and poor.  Between the working and those who can’t find work.

Don’t wait to donate food. Do it now.

Radioactive Japan

My heart aches for Japan.  The pictures and daily news is overwhelming.  The debris fields left from the tsunami are overpowering.  The constant replaying of the black waves of water re-traumatizing. And of course the nuclear nightmare is one that we can’t wake up from.  How painful this destruction especially in coming to a country scarred by Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

They say the first clouds of radiation will come to the West Coast by Friday. The government says it will not be a high dose at all.  The winds disperse the intensity.  Nevertheless the story that is unfolding in the four reactors at the Fukushima plant is a scenario worse than any play or movie. It makes Three Mile Island looks like child’s play and this is even greater than Chernobyl.  This is the explosion that was the result of the hydrogen build-up.  There seems like there have been very few answers and honesty in the “official” explanations. Especially how our government has a completely different take than the Japanese government.  Like last summer’s BP Oil spill in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico where oil still lurks on the bottom of the sea, this too will have permanent destructive powers.  Only unlike the oil which is black and tarry, you can’t see radiation.  It lurks but it seems hidden–only to wreak havoc with life.

I remember protesting the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant here in California in 1980 and 1981! Nuclear Power has always scared me for exactly the reason we are seeing now in Japan.

It is times like this that I need to pray.  Even if only to give voice to my fears and my concerns.  It might not fix the problems.  I am no nuclear physicist or engineer.  Nuclear power making be it fission of fusion is complex.

But I am simple.  Oh God hear my prayer for the people of Japan. For the brave engineers who are still working in the plants to stop the reactions and who are being radiated with super doses of radiation as they work to stop the leaks and meltdown.  I pray for our world that is slowly but surely in its greed destroying Your earth.  Help us awaken from our ways and learn to respect our earth.

And let us be Your messengers of a compassion. Selah.


If you readers want to donate to help Japan here is a link



Second Aid #HaitiFoodProject BE THERE

Please join me along with Forrest Whitaker, Kanye West, Wyclef Jean, Depak Chopra , Mayor Villaraigosa, and many others in this special benefit for the people of Haiti.   This Second Aid – Haiti Food Project is Thursday night February 4, from 6-9 :30 pm at the American Jewish University

16500 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air  (Just off the 405-get off at Mulholland Drive).

We will sing and speak and come together to raise awareness and money for the people of Haiti who have suffered so much after the recent earthquakes.

Organized by my dear friend, Dr. Eric Schockman who is the president of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and co-sponsored by many groups including the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, and the Depak Chopra Foundation.  The funds raised will go directly to groups on the ground in Haiti responding to the many needs of the men and women and children affected so greatly.

People ask where is God in such a humanitarian crisis. Is God in the earthquake itself?  I say no–God is not in the earthquake–other than in the people who respond with kindness and expertise and selflessness.  God is in you and I who will turn out and donate and in those who are able to go to Haiti and be responders.  God will be in how we continue to support this poorest of Caribbean nations so they can rebuild and create a new society that will care for all those injured.   God will be in the human to human caring we express.

So come out on a Thursday night.  Come and be together. Let’s raise some serious money to help make a huge difference.  This evening of solidarity is important.  Tickets are available by calling MAZON to RSVP at 310.442.0020 ext.106 .

Tickets are $360/$180/$36 (students)

VIP Packages: $2500, $5000 and $10,000 includes access to the VIP Party.
You can follow this on twitter  #haitifoodproject

Our Hearts Go Out to Haiti

The pictures are devastating. The 7.0 earthquake in Haiti was a 35 second long terror that will have permanent ramifications for that island nation for decades to come.  Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti and their families around the world that can only watch and pray for order out of chaos and assistance and help.   It is hard to even get plane flights in as the control tower at the airport fell down in the earthquake.   Let alone the presidential palace that appears to the left of this.  There are 1000’s dead and even more injured and homeless. 

I don’t know anyone in Haiti.  I have never been there. But my mother used to work for a company in the late 60’s and early 70’s that imported beautiful carved wooden bowls from Haiti.  I still have one of them that I use when I entertain.

But the people of Haiti are going to need so much help. It was already a severely impoverished place. And now in our own backyard of the Caribbean it is hard to imagine that it can be this bad.

American Jewish World Service is already collecting for disaster relief.  Let’s all help as fast as we can.