Monday, September 11, 2017

The Birth of a Book

21 Elul 5777.

I'm very excited about this project! BS"D, after long months of editing and reformatting, the blog will be coming out in October in book form. For photos, you'll have to check back to the online version; but hopefully the words will be fun to see in print -- especially with the remarkable and insightful cover art by Hanna Tova Glicksman, and the wise graphic design of Hanna Sara (Zeif) Katz. It pays to work with hometown talent, especially when they're related, and accustomed to getting along nicely. (Ms. Glicksman and Ms. Katz are cousins. Nice family, this.)

Since you have been a part of this project from the beginning, as you have read, encouraged, commented, sometimes corrected (and saved me embarrassment), I hope you will also get some pleasure from owning a copy. You'll let me know.

Keep watching here and on Facebook. I'll be very excited to let you know when the labor is over, and the book is born!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Chamber of Commerce Dynamic Duo

13 Elul 5777.

Do you sometimes wish your Chamber of Commerce would get around to promoting the small businesses in your town? I mean, how does a town survive, if no one knows what it has to offer?

The Dearly Beloved and I traveled to Tzfat for a day of unplanned exploring with some old friends from the States. I decided to check in with Miri and Dave, since we were in their neighborhood. Maybe they could meet us for a cup of coffee or for lunch or something...

We've known Miri for around thirty years, since our US Army days in Germany. Our boys grew up together -- not always in the same location, but certainly in the same time-frame. While I don't get credit for making the shidduch with Dave, I can at least say that I was able to tell her that yes, he was a darn good guy, and I thought they'd be good together. They were, and they get better all the time.

Not only did they meet us for lunch -- but they made themselves available as Tzfat's Chamber of Commerce representatives for the day!

First was lunch at a little place called Elements Café. You will find a ton of favorable reviews for this cheerful, charming little vegan place. (I know, right? What's happening to the Dearly Beloved and me? Like -- where's the beef???) We had a terrific time. The food was fresh, creative, plentiful, homemade and delicious. As if that's not enough, the quirky and comedic owner, Zev, along with his staff (who clearly like their jobs), made our visit fun and enjoyable, all while also dealing with a crowd that was appreciating a local rabbi's shiur on the patio. Now, the Dearly Beloved is trying to get me to recreate the pareve blueberry "ice cream," made with coconut cream. We may just have to make another trip to Zev's place...

After introducing us to Zev and his marvelous restaurant, our hosts took us to meet a local artist named Kathleen Wasserman who not only makes gorgeous quilted glass artworks, but teaches others to do the same. Her work was totally out of our price range, but that didn't stop us from drinking in all that color and creativity with our eyes.

Miri had to return to work, but she left us in the capable hands of Dave, who played guide to us and our friends visiting from America for the next few hours. (Remember that I just hoped that they'd meet us for lunch!) Dave took us to see one of the remarkable and beautiful synagogues of the Old City of Tzfat, and told us stories of war heroes from the times that Tzfat was under serious shelling from surrounding enemies during the early days of the modern state.

He informed us of places to purchase locally-made goat cheese, and then took us to meet a young artist named Avraham Loewenthal who works to share his vision of what the shofar blasts of Yom Kippur might look like, rendered in a rainbow of colors, as well as beautiful rainbow calligraphy of the Hebrew expression "Ain od Milvado," which can be translated as "there is nothing but God, everything that exists is only a manifestation of God" -- or as A. J. Heschel said it: "God is of no importance unless He is of supreme importance."

Dave then saved us the headache -- after a long day of touring -- of driving further north to find a good winery. "Why don't you just go to the winery nearby, Dalton Winery?" We took him up on his suggestion, and experienced a really nice, private wine tasting, before taking ourselves to dip our toes in the Kinneret.

It was a beautiful trip, with old friends from our past, and old friends from Baltimore. What will stand out for me most was the loving kindness of one couple toward not only visiting friends, but toward the town they hope to see flourish.

I recently read an excellent d'var Torah from logotherapist Avraham (Allan) Friedman. In it, he says: "We all live while searching for and fulfilling different meanings in our lives. Yet, any meaning we have in this life is not for our sake alone. Our own meaning is tied to self-actualization if and only if it is also 'other-directed'...

"'How can we change the world for the better' is a question that we need to ask ourselves."

Instead of sitting around and lamenting that "nobody is doing anything to publicize the artists and businesses in our city," Miri and Dave have found an answer.