Operation Backpack is still in full swing. If you are interested in participating, they have a facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/256056051399131/ . Finding a direct contact for sending materials may prove tricky, as there is no formal organization other than the volunteers here and in Kabul. If you are interested in helping support the program, message me and I will send you information that might help. If you have more info, please share it in the comments section!
Monday, February 20, 2017
I'm really pleased to be able to tell this story, and not just because I am a member of Temple Beth Torah. The idea of interfaith congregations is so appealing to begin with, and are an important part of how we should think about religion as it relates to today's society. More importantly, this shows how size, distance and cultural dissimilarities are no barrier to helping one another when the desire is strong enough.
Solidarity Center's Facebook page is located at https://www.facebook.com/solidaritycenter/?pnref=about.overview and will tell you lots more about their work and programs. Take a look!
Sunday, February 12, 2017
I hope you enjoyed this entry - I especially hope you get a chance to see OneBeat perform. Take a minute to look at their website - applications for this year's program are close, but the tour information will go up soon. http://1beat.org/
Monday, February 6, 2017
Here's the latest page, and a clue as to why I am so swept up by the program. One of my great regrets in life (I do not say this lightly) is that I did not insist that my wife and daughter join me at that concert. It was a school night, and mom did not want to leave her home alone, so I came into the city to see the show by myself. But more on that in a minute...
What a game! It will certainly be talked about for as long as the sport is played, and beyond that. Many firsts were achieved, and certainly the spirit of not giving up was demonstrated and vindicated for many to see. Surely the nation needed this, as a momentary respite and motivation to continue despite all seeming hopeless.
Yet, at the risk of losing my many readers (really, I treasure both you guys) I keep thinking of the Roman poet Juvenal and his words, "panem et circenses." By giving their poorer citizens free food and entertainment with chariot races and in the great arena, Roman emperors ensured that the population was kept happy and did not distract themselves with the cares of what was happening in government.
For 48 hours the news was full of speculation on everything SuperBowl, from detailed analysis of the teams to what the best snack foods would be, and of course the commercials. All other topics dropped far down the list, to the point where confirmation hearing issues shared space with slow cooker recipes. For this morning and hours, if not days and weeks ahead, many conversations will begin with "did you SEE that catch?!?!"
Back to OneBeat. Never have the words "you HAD to be there" carried such gravitas. It was not just the music, which was wonderful, strange and captivating, even to my untrained ear. The way the young performers interacted with each other; the stories they told about what they discovered and learned during their weeks together--all combined to create a transcending experience for me and many of the people in the packed audience. At one point a trio of artists performed with the request that no one post photos or text their names, for fear that their families would be placed in danger. The countries where these musicians came from would find it unthinkable that each could associate with the others, yet here they were, sharing the stage and creating something unique and beautiful. The lessons and examples were beyond inspiring.
Why could we not spare some of the hype from the sports event to speak of this amazing program? I don't mean a 30 second infomercial "brought to you by the people who care about you and the beer you drink." Instead, why are such things not more important to us? I hate to think that it is our fault alone that it has come to this, that people have learned not to care about such things and only pursue the latest distraction. Attention must be brought, heads must be pointed in the right direction. News must be watched and understood, not as a drudgery, but because learning and understanding is not only necessary, it lifts and enriches the human mind and spirit.
You really had to be here. You really should see that catch. The latter will be replayed many times all over the Internet. The former is long ago and far away.
With each new administration, there is understandably a reshuffling of priorities as new projects are introduced and older ones lose their funding. If there was a way for everyone in Dallas, let alone those watching on TV, to see what I saw that night, there would about as much worry that OneBeat would continue as there is that professional sports will be outlawed. Even Lady Gaga would agree with that.