Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Holiday Festivities

I was extremely fortunate to grow up with extended inter-faith family. While we celebrated the Jewish holidays in our home, we often had the chance to enjoy helping relatives and friends decorate their Christmas trees, hunt for Easter eggs and sometimes, yes, attend Christmas Eve mass. Our family and friends joined us for latkes and playing dreidels, matzah brei and long Seders, walking to shul and standing in the back with me for High Holy Day services. And the wonderful thing was, everything involved family, love, and the history of our ancestors.

Again, I live in a Jewish home and the inter-faith family connections have continued to multiply. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to celebrate your own identity and share in the joys of others as well. A lot of it has to do with mutual respect, love of a Divine presence, and sharing our cultural traditions. We had family and friends of various faiths attend our children’s Bris, naming, and B’nai Mitzvahs just as we’ve attended Christenings, Communions and Hindu Namakaran ceremonies. It just seems as if the love is multiplied in so many different ways and sometimes also languages. There are so many similarities — for instance the winter season has celebrations such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali and Kwanzaa, each one is a “Festival of Lights” in its own unique way.

Growing up I did know a few people who frowned upon the inter-faith exposure, but it never hurt me. I never strayed from the religious beliefs my parents raised me with, but I did grow to respect, accept, and enjoy all my loved ones’ customs. And despite the fear some folks may have about losing their young to other cultures, it actually became a stronger tie to my own beginnings. I love who I am and I identify with my roots and I encourage others to hold on to their beliefs as well. There are those, in today’s world, who feel that religion causes wars and hate, but it shouldn’t. Parents should raise their children to recognize that every HUMAN BEING has a right to their own way of worship and to enjoy their religious festivities.  

During Hanukkah we celebrate the story of the Maccabees and how they led the fight for religious freedoms. We should all feel free to observe and celebrate our faith, to worship (or not) the way we want to. Every person has the right to find comfort and peace in their beliefs. I am aware there are fanatics in every faith but too many of them are using and perverting the concepts of their religions for their own gains, and that is not love of their fellow human beings. We have to learn tolerance and acceptance and reject the tirades of the prejudiced and close-minded. We have to teach our children that every human being deserves acceptance and deserves to be loved.

I wish you all the joys of the season. 
May you all know happiness, peace and family love.

Merry Christmas Happy Hanukkah Joyous Kwanzaa

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Help me write an HEA

As a romance author I am used to writing Happily Ever After (HEA) endings — I’m hoping that someone will help us to “write” an HEA for my family. My brother, Del (legally my brother-in-law) desperately needs a kidney. Del has Polycystic Kidney Disease and is now in End Stage Kidney Disease. He is registered with RJWBarnabas Health (NJ)  and a few other hospitals as well as with Renewal
Everywhere I look lately it seems that there are many people needing new kidneys, I’m not a doctor or scientist, but it seems so prevalent. The number of people requiring a kidney transplant has been increasing each year, the number of transplants received has remained at a stable and alarmingly low level over the years.
I read stories about folks searching for matches (living donors provide the best chances AND most of us have two working kidneys so can afford to donate one). It is so heartbreaking though to read how loving relatives and friends have tried to donate a kidney only to find that they are not compatible matches. I have a suggestion for you…
If you are not a compatible match, see if you are a match for another person in need, like Del, and begin a donation chain in your friend’s name. You will save multiple lives and move your friend’s name closer to the top so that the chances of finding a compatible donation are much greater. Likewise, you can get tested for Del Du-Bois (he needs a type O kidney) and if you are not compatible you can start a donation chain in Del’s name; this goes for any blood type.
Del is a husband, dad, grandfather, brother and a wonderful friend. He has been active in his community and his house of worship, and also with a local observatory where he has helped educate young minds in the study of astronomy. He is very loved by his family and friends alike.
Would you please help give my family, and so many others who need a kidney, a chance for a Happily Ever After? Thank you.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday season and New Year.
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my husband & me, and my sister & Del

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Don’t Believe Everything You Read On The Internet!

The internet is filled with rumors and little twists to the truth… BUT the internet also allows very easy access to loads of research which just might be a bit more revealing and truthful.

When I am on a social media network and see a meme about critical thought, outrageous tales, or financial advice I do NOT ignore it; I also don’t re-post it without doing my research first. I make it a habit to find multiple sources about the alleged quote or incident, and I often find several conflicting views. I want to be informed so I do read or listen to several views, EVEN THE ONES I MIGHT OPPOSE. Prepared with information, various viewpoints and multiple sources (yes, sometimes foreign newspapers can give a reader a different perspective) I then MAKE UP MY OWN MIND before passing along the meme or refuting it.

It is actually liberating to be informed and THINK FOR YOURSELF!

BTW, a very important part of my research is to learn WHO is saying what. Very often honest sites will tell you a little about their political leanings or if they are producing known satire or humor; obviously a “right-wing viewpoint” would be in opposition to “left wing” EVEN IF THEY ARE EACH ATTEMPTING TO TELL THE TRUTH. Remember that reporters are HUMAN and it is natural for biased leanings, sometimes it’s just the tone of voice or the way something is worded that can alter the impression.

Some sites are not so forthright as to their leanings, search the company name or managing editor — one self-professed source of truth and honesty is actually being run by an individual who has had Dept. of Labor investigations into his firing employees who have reported on views and topics he vehemently opposes. Result, just a “bit” on one-sided reporting.

Don’t be afraid to read and learn about opposing viewpoints, it’s not going to contaminate you to listen to what someone else has to say, not if you are sure of your own viewpoint. When I was in grade-school, long loooonnng ago, I had a few fantastic and open minded teachers. One teacher, Mr. Newman, taught us how to debate but before assigning topics he had us each fill out a poll about semi-controversial topics. When he handed out assignments he ALWAYS had us arguing the opposite side of what we personally believed in. Frustrated I asked him why he did that and he told me “unless you understand other viewpoints you can never be sure that what you believe in is really right for you.”

So use the internet, local libraries, different news channels and listening to to others, REALLY LISTENING. Gather as many facts as presented by multiple sources as you can and THINK FOR YOURSELF, don’t follow the crowd just because it looks like the popular thing to do.


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Who Am I?

I was so excited to find that my “report” was available today, it was more than a week before I expected it. I sent in my “sample” to one of the more popular DNA companies and while I already know SOME of my ancestry (a few cousins and I did lots of research), I want to know more.

Unfortunately my parents died when I was just a young adult and I never had the opportunity to ask questions that I didn’t even think of until I was raising a family. Now grandparents, aunts and uncles are also gone. It is startling to realize that I am now among the elders of my family (I really don’t feel that old!) I have an amazing thirst for my past, where I came from and stories that might also be a bit embarrassing. In many ways my ancestry is what made me who I am today.

My maternal grandparents immigrated to this country as youngsters or teens, I’m really not sure. My paternal grandfather was born in Puerto Rico but that was before PR was a United States territory. I’ve heard romantic stories about my paternal grandmother being conceived (and maybe born?) on a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean. What made each of them come HERE, to the mainland where I was born and raised? Without their decisions I would not be here. Heck, without my grandparents’ journey to the United States mainland, my parents might not have even met.

I’ve heard rumors of notable ancestors but without substantial proof. I cling to the tales my folks told me as a child about how they met and bits and pieces about their courtship. And even those stories leave questions as my sister remembers some slightly different tales than I do. So I want to know more. I want to leave a WRITTEN history of my family for my offspring and the generations to come. 

A few years ago a distant cousin began a search into our shared lineage (my maternal grandfather’s line) and it was fascinating, it went back eight generations to eight sons, but even that was incomplete as none of the possible daughters were recorded in the many sources. But it was still fascinating to learn some of the details. And imagine my surprise when I talked about some info I learned and an acquaintance that I had known for a little more than a year actually asked me why I was talking about HIS family! I had no idea that I was (even distantly) related to him.

There are those who don’t share my thirst for knowledge of ancestors. Some of these people don’t believe in genetic memories… or maybe are even wary about what they might find out. I respect their sense of “privacy” and not wanting to delve into yesterday — but that is NOT me. I say bring it on, bring on my ancestors and the stories of their lives, bring on my relatives both close and distant. Several of us in my maternal grandfather’s family tree don’t bother with the numerical designations, we are just all cousins.

And yes, if you ever do an Ancestry kit and find my name in your list of DNA matches please reach out, I will always welcome another Cousin!