Monday, November 24, 2014

Our Youth – The Hope for Tomorrow

I have to give Debbie all of the credit!  I am happy to share in the compliments, but the true credit needs to go where it deserves.  When it came to the vision, persistence to complete the goal and follow through, Debbie did a great job.  In addition, the benefit was not only personal, but also a benefit to our community, benefit to our youth and an opportunity to learn. 

Debbie and I are the co-chairs of our Jewish Center’s youth groups.  Last year, Debbie decided to pursue holding a northern New Jersey USY regional convention.  Time spent planning and reaching agreements between organizations needed to be in place for this to happen.   The outcome was a phenomenal event involving around 200 teens representing 37 different towns that were placed in about 25 host family homes.  The teens were all respectful and took responsibility for their actions, were inclusive for the younger participants and cleaned up after themselves. 

As adults, we always wonder how our children will grow up and what type of impact they will have on the future.  I am extremely hopeful as I saw the teen leaders of this regional group completely run religious services, provide lessons to each other and focused their thoughts forward towards a brighter future.  Yes, there were the silent hands of adults guiding the process, but they were behind the scenes, in the way of dedicated college kids that also exhibited strong leadership abilities.  During the weekend, I saw a number of speeches given by the teen leaders, talking about responsibility and the choices we make that affect our futures.  All very adult topics.  There have been many reports in the past few years about our children not wanting to participate in religious services.  My lesson this weekend?  We spend time pushing our brand of religious observance down our young adults’ throats; much like our parents did to us.  And as we rebelled / turned our backs, our children do the same.  Watching them running their own complete services, where they used different melodies and MUCH MORE SPIRIT (ruach, in Hebrew) than we have in adult run services.  As one of the few adults that spent the weekend with the USY kids, I was completely caught up in the process.  We should take some of the leads from what they find important.

As I am writing this, I have so many thoughts going through my head.  I felt like the proud parent of the 200 kids.  I am excited for the future. I wish I could bottle up the weekend to visit it again.  I am appreciative of all the help and support that we received to make this event possible.  I hope that next time around, more people will be able to experience what we experienced.  I am happy for the positive buzz this has provided to our Jewish Center.  I am thankful to have been a part of this weekend.  I am grateful we were able to host 9 teens.  I am ecstatic that Debbie had the dedication to pursue this.  In the days ahead, my thoughts and emotions will become clearer, but I still wanted to share the pure feelings I have at this particular moment.  Debbie and I (and Rebecca) are tired from the weekend.  However, we would happily repeat it if the opportunity made itself available…

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Battle of the Bulge


I do not like to use the phrase going on a diet.   A friend of mine responded to me that instead of calling it a diet, I should call it a Live-It.  My problem with the phrase is that it means doing something for a short period of time for an expected outcome, then more often than not, continuing with the same eating habits that we previously had.  A few years ago, after a visit to the doctor (which I do not go as regularly as I should), I was informed that my numbers from my blood test were good, but at the higher end of where he would like them, so he recommended cutting back on certain foods.  At the same time, I was at my highest weight and felt uncomfortable with it, so it was an appropriate time to revaluate my eating habits.  After talking to some people, and reading a recommended book, I changed my eating habits.  I did not go “on a diet” because my choice was to change the way I eat every day and be diligent about my food choices.

In the animal kingdom or in primitive societies, where one must forage or hunt for their meals, eating sustains life.  I believe that we are one of the only creatures on this planet that eat for fun (e.g., go out for ice cream), for stress (e.g., a couple of beers), for boredom (e.g., candy bar), or watching TV (e.g., potato chips).  Even the foods that we eat for our meals contain many things in it that we would not load up on a spoon to ingest, but are in the contents to enhance flavor (e.g., salt) or seem to give us a feeling of happiness (e.g., sugar).  Recently, we had a chance catch up with some friends and we found out that he had become diabetic and needed to cut out all sugar.  He told us that he did not realize how much sugar is used in the products we purchase, natural foods (e.g., fruit) or in the food preparations when we go out to eat (e.g., the sticky rice used for sushi).  He related that his son’s positive comment on his situation was that he is now eating healthy and exercising, both good things.  Needless to say, his story is not unique.

OK – so how good am I at being persistent at following my own words?  I am usually pretty good…however, this past week; a vendor invited a few of us out for dinner.  The dinner was in appreciation of us being a good customer, an opportunity to discuss some future projects and to socialize.  Happily, we accomplished all of our objectives before we left to go home.  We started the meal with a few appetizers for the table.  When the waiter asked what we wanted for our main courses, the six of us all ordered from the menu with the intention of sharing our meals with each other and ended up ordering enough food to comfortably feed nine people, but we still attempted to finish what was in front of us.  It was clear that there was no room left for dessert.  Occasionally, it is still fun to eat for the pleasure of eating, even if glutinous; and, yes, I did have to pay the price as I walked into my home complaining of eating too much.  The next day, it was back to the way I should eat every day…