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Parshas Mattos-Masei: Refinement Through Travel

Parshas Mattos-Masei: Refinement Through Travel

It seems that we have spent most of our life on the road.  And although we have been parked here in Adelaide for a few years now and love it, we still make travel a part of our lifestyle.  Even if we can only take a day trip, or a trip for a few days, we love to travel.  Rabbi Ben and I each spent years traveling on our own before we met – and continued traveling after we got married.  Maybe it’s just ingrained. Maybe it’s just part of who we are.

Sadly, many people accuse chronic travelers of running away from something.  Surely we keep on the move because something is chasing us or because we don’t want to face reality!  Well our time in Adelaide has proven to us both a few fundamental truths – especially these: we are capable of facing “reality”… and we still love travel.

You see, travel is a process of internal refinement.  I remember my first solo journeys in Europe at age 19.  I stayed only in hotels or very nice hostels, places I felt were safe for a teenage girl traveling alone.  By the time I met Rabbi Ben 5 years later, I was a much more savvy world traveler.  Female and alone in South America, I didn’t book my hotels in advance. I stayed in hostels for $5/night, with no hot water and no heating, even in the bitter cold.  I had toughened up.

India, which I traveled with Rabbi Ben just a couple months after our wedding, is the ultimate destination if you are seeking personal awareness and growth.  Whatever your mishegas is, India will rub at your sore spot until it is red and raw, until you can stand it no more.  Even little aspects of your personality that you did not know about will surface, blazing, for the world to see.   If you want to know yourself and have the chance to grow as a person and work on yourself, I recommend you go to India.

So it is no surprise to me that this week’s parsha focuses on the journeys made by the Jews.  Travel is a process of internal growth and refinement.  The Jews spent 38 years in one spot – which means that in just 2 years, the Jews moved 41 times.  How grueling and uncomfortable that must have been! To pack and unpack, to wander in the desert, unsure of when and where you will arrive… and, once arriving, to never know when you will be told to pack up and hit the road!  Imagine how tired they must have been, hot and cold, hungry and thirsty from the way, the diverted routes, the lost luggage.  It sounds a lot like some journeys I have taken!

But imagine also how they must have grown.  Being tired, hot, and hungry, their worst middos would have surfaced, making them aware of their own limitations, pushing them to improve themselves.  So many times I have been in that position, hot and sweaty, tired, hungry, and thirsty, sitting on a dusty train or rickety bus, feeling grouchy, but consciously restraining myself from saying a mean word to a fellow passenger, or to my husband.  Noting my discontent and maintaining an awareness that I must not say what is on my mind because it is not rational, not fair, not just, and just plain not the Torah thing to do is the way I can grow as a person, improve myself, and stretch myself to higher spiritual heights.

Because that’s what personal refinement is, a working to become closer to G-d.  In Judaism our goal is to emulate G-d, to become more and more like Him, in whose image we are spiritually created.  It is striving to meet our potential.  But if we are never stretched, if we are never challenged, we will never know who we truly are deep inside, and so will not be able to overcome our own personal issues to become better people.

This week, let us all work on our own journeys of personal and spiritual growth.

Shabbat shalom!

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Gay Pride, Jewish Gay Pride and the Torah’s View

This week gay marriage was approved as a constitutional right in the United States.  Homosexual couples can now get married and divorced, adopt children, get tax benefits, and inherit from one another just like heterosexual couples. Reactions to this news have been mixed.  Many people are in the streets celebrating their “gay pride.”  Yet many people are also protesting and calling these same people sinners and abominations.

Judaism specifically prohibits homosexual acts not only to the Jew but to all mankind. It is one of the seven Noachide Laws, included under the prohibition immoral sexual behavior.

Consider that of all things G-d felt important for mankind to live by, a proper code of sexual conduct was one of them. The Noachide laws include: do not murder, do not steal, and do not be cruel to animals. Thus, from a G-dly perspective homosexuality is a serious issue.

However, in reference to gay acts the Torah uses the word toeva which means an abomination. The Torah also uses the same word referencing a man who divorces his wife of a second marriage and returns to marry his first wife – this too is an abomination to G-d. However, using only our own logic, we could say it is beautiful how he realized the depth of his love for his first wife and returned to her.

It is also important to realize that G-d’s commandments are for us, not for G-d alone. What difference would it make to G-d if we stole from each other or killed one another?

If a person and animal are happy together, a brother and sister, parent and child, minor and adult, and any polyamorous relationships, it is easy to ask what harm is being done. Why can’t they be together if they love each other?

Also, why not allow death duels if both parties are happy? Who are we to intervene with intertribal stealing that has been going on millennia? Why should we stop someone from committing suicide? It’s their life after all!

But it is the deeper unseen realm that can have catastrophic effects on man, which only G-d can see. Sometimes what we see as progression is regression. We all want to believe we are living in an advanced society and no longer holding to backward codes of practice. We no longer stone criminals or conduct public hangings. But are we truly an advanced society when we can give a murderer like Martin Bryant a 1035 year sentence for killing 35 people and injuring 23 others in a shooting spree in Tasmania?  Maybe it’s a good thing people don’t live to a thousand years.

I’m not advocating we stone people or suggesting whether or not gay pride is going forward or backwards, but we must be aware how true our progressive thinking is.

So how should we as Jews handle the news from America?

There are several points to consider:

  • Science currently shows that homosexual attraction is biologically different in the brain.  Science suggests that like the color of one’s skin, it cannot be changed.  But unlike skin color, which has no bearing on anyone’s actions or nature, homosexual attraction can and does lead to homosexual acts, which are explicitly forbidden by Torah law.
  • In Judaism, we are meant to show compassion for others and to judge them favorably.  Yet, we must actively discourage Torah violations.
  • Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers) teaches that we cannot understand another person’s struggles unless we have lived their life.

The conclusion we can draw from these somewhat conflicting points is that we can neither condone such behavior nor should we condemn the individual.  Judaism cannot endorse gay pride any more than we could endorse kleptomaniac pride.  Yet even while we are clear on our moral standards, we should approach gay people with compassion and a willingness to help them overcome their own personal challenges should they choose, just as we would with any individual, no matter what they feel challenged with.

In turn, homosexual Jews (and non-Jews) should not flaunt their homosexuality.  It is the difference between a Jew who says, “I eat pork even though I know I really shouldn’t,” and the Jew who says, “I’m a proud Jew attending a Yom Kippur Lunch where roast pig on a spit is being served.”

The problem with embracing and celebrating gay pride goes beyond just supporting others in their violation of a biblical commandment. Once we begin to actively support something that is morally wrong, suddenly other morally wrong actions don’t seem that bad.

Take this week’s parsha for example.  The Jewish men sin sexually with Moabite and Midianite women.  That seems bad enough, but they actually do it fully in public view – they are not ashamed.  From that immoral behavior, they then begin to worship other gods.  One act of immorality in which they took pride eventually led to other sins, as well as to a massive plague.

As Jews, it is our obligation to be a light unto the nations and sometimes that means standing up for what the Torah teaches is right even if the rest of the world is against it.

With the above all said, there is a deeper underlying issue which is not about gay pride celebrating their marriage rights. The question is, what does marriage mean?

One upon a time marriage was a sacred act performed as a religious ceremony. It still is today for many people in diverse cultures. But in the West, marriage for many has become more of a formality than anything else.

After we married in Israel and returned to the United States, rather than a lengthy and expensive process of translating our Israeli marriage certificate and going to court to have our marriage recognized, we paid a marriage celebrant in Virginia $50, and with a fifteen minute ceremony we were married again. If we were in Las Vegas perhaps we could have done it in five minutes at a drive through ceremony.

Perhaps what is going on is: those who see marriage as a sacred union under G-d between a man and a woman, are against gay marriage. Those who see marriage as a mere formality are fine with gay people marrying, and in a way they are right.  If two people regardless of their sex or sexual orientation want to inherit one another and receive tax breaks and the like then why not?

Please G-d may we merit divine revelation and truth in our time.

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Parshas Chukas: Putting Family First

Parshas Chukas: Putting Family First

Have you ever noticed that often the people who have the biggest problems in their own lives are the ones who spend their lives fixing other peoples’ lives?  Social workers, therapists, and psychiatrists have a reputation of having the most messed up relationships and families.

At first glance, this doesn’t seem to make sense.  But then again, maybe it does.  After all, aren’t we all better at giving advice than taking it?  We have a better vantage point from farther away: When we are outside of the relationship, family, or life, we can tell what needs to be done.  The general finds it easier to lead his troops if he is watching the battleground from up above on a hill than if he is down in the fray.   But when we are the soldier down in the battle, we do not have the same clarity of vision to know what to do next.

Therein lies the solution to the “parah adumah” paradox.  The parah adumah is the red heifer whose ashes remove spiritual impurity from one who has had contact with a corpse.  Ironically, these same ashes render the priest who administers them spiritually impure himself.  It doesn’t make sense that something should purify one person but render another person impure.

But if we view it as a metaphor for the purity of our relationships with one another, it begins to make more sense.  A psychologist, for instance, can view another person’s relationship, identify the problems, and tell how to fix them.  But in doing so, the psychologist takes on a bit of those problems himself.  The stress of curing other peoples’ problems constantly can place a big strain on a person, leaving no resources left over for dealing with his own problems at home.

Perhaps this is why the rabbis had to specify an order for the giving of tzedaka (charity), starting with one’s own family and radiating out from there.  Often it is tempting for us to use our far-away vantage point to place all our energy into helping others, while neglecting the problems that are, literally, right under our noses.

Pirkei Avos tells us to bring the poor into our home.  But if we neglect our own families in order to help others, we will find that we become the poor ones.  Always remember, tzedaka begins in the home.

Shabbat shalom!

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Akiva’s 3km Birthday Walk

https://www.chuffed.org/project/akiva/

Hi,

My name is Akiva. I am turning three years old. I love walking and even running when my daddy can keep up with me. My third birthday is in May and I will take my biggest walk ever of 3km. So far the longest walk I have done is 2.4km.

I want to help someone else who can’t walk. They are missing a leg and need a new one.

https://www.chuffed.org/project/akiva/

For my birthday present, please give at least $3. If 110 friends each give $3 it will almost be enough to buy a new leg for a child in a poor country. But if you can give $5 or $10, even better.

(Cost of fitting a child with a prosthetic leg is $300 US)

Last year I walked 2km for my second birthday and we raised $180 for Clown Doctors.

https://give.everydayhero.com/au/akiva

Now I am older and stronger and ready for a bigger walk. You can count on me.

Thank you so much.

Love,

-Akiva

PS. You may be worried that my daddy is pushing me to do this, but really I love walking. We walk all the time. Whenever we come home from a walk, I ask to go ‘a walk’ again.

https://www.chuffed.org/project/akiva/

Hi,

- My name is Ben. I’m Akiva’s dad and I’d like to say hi. I am a passionate walker and it does not surprise me that Akiva has taken to walking. He is sad when I need to explain to him that he can’t join me on a 100km hike. Perhaps when he is older.

Akiva is, thank G-d, healthy and fit. He loves his carrots, spinach, and broccoli and goes to the creche at the gym three times a week.

Akiva may not fully understand that he is raising money for a great cause, but I am sure he will enjoy every minute of the walk. During last year’s 2km walk he even insisted on walking extra!

What Akiva raises will go to:https://www.limbsinternational.org

It costs $300US to fit a limb. So really we need to raise closer to $375AUD. Limbs International will select a child, help them walk again and then send Akiva a picture of the child he has helped.

Thank you for being a part of this,
-Ben

 

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Jewish Human Skin Bookmarks from the Holocaust

 

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Human Skin Bookmarks?

Two weeks ago marked seventy years since the Nazis tried to exterminate the Jews. It saddens me that in a few years’ time there will no longer be any living survivors.

For thousands of years nations have risen up against the Jews, trying to destroy us. In the end, they disappeared while the Jews remained. That there is a single Jew walking this planet is one of the greatest miracles. May G-d continue to protect us bring the final redemption for all mankind speedily in our days.

Several months ago a women came to see me. She brought with her two book marks believed to be made of Jewish human skin. She was looking for audience what to do with them. Should they be buried in a Jewish cemetery? Should they go to a Jewish museum?

To cut a long story short, we are still researching the mater. I’ve shown the book marks to some art collectors who believe the skin is not human, rather it is pig skin. The book marks will need to undergo more testing to determine with certainty. If anyone has information that can help with this, please be in contact.

The following is a letter written by Mark about how the bookmarks came to into his mother’s possession:

 

Nina Redstone

Nina Redston

Towards the end of the war, in late 1944 I believe, mum was working with the British War Department as an interpreter when she was recruited into a special unit that was working with the Red Cross and working with a unit called the Jewish Brigade. From what I know, she was eventually recruited to Control Commission, a body set up to sort out the displaced persons the allies knew were in their hundreds of thousands across Europe. The unit she worked in was headed by a Col Bowring and her job was to help set up a new records system to deal with an unknown number of displaced persons and those held in concentration camps. At that time she and her staff thought they were internment camps and nothing else. 

The network of camps across Nazi controlled territory were mostly focussed on extermination rather than imprisonment although there had been plenty of evidence of murder, torture and disappearance on a massive scale which she later found was not made public.
 
As the allies entered Germany in 1945 my mother was assigned to work with the British troops that were entering North Germany. She inadvertently found herself with a team who were entering territory that was not being fought over. She told me that most of the Germans in the region knew the war was over so the fighting wasn’t really fierce at that time.  Various units were dispatched to forward positions and the one she was attached to went to a camp called Bergen Belsen. Colonel Bowring, who was the head of the unit and my mother’s boss, had sent her with one of the forward units as she was fluent in German.   
 
She told me that there was a column of vehicles and a couple of armoured vehicles and she was in one of those. She could smell the camp about a kilometre or so before they got there. She told me later that she was never able to get the smell of the place out of her nose. As they arrived, the forward soldiers were already through the gate and hundreds of very thin people poorly clothed were standing around or lying on the ground. My mother and the soldiers couldn’t believe what they had stumbled across. It was like walking into Hell.
 
My mother had to document who was there and worked with other soldiers in one of the buildings. She was told of the danger of typhus and to be careful. It seemed like a long time but within a few hours dozens of people arrived, army doctors, supply people with food and water and more people to help with the huge task of finding out who was there. 
 
I cant remember how long she was there but I think it may have been a week or two as there were thousands of people liberated and it took a while to process them and find many missing persons. I recall she told me about the difficulty of recording people who were still dying and keeping track of those who were being sent to other places (I think other camps for displaced persons). The records at the camp were not good and it seemed that many had arrived at the camp from other places not long before the camp was liberated. She did tell me that there were some records with lots of photos of people, presumed deceased. 
 
She gave me a fairly graphic description of the place and all the horrors that were there including bodies everywhere and stories of brutal guards who thought the inmates were expendable.  
 
One of those who was liberated, told mum of some of the horrors that had been perpetrated on the inmates. They were starved, beaten and routinely shot for no reason. It left a deep impression on her. Among the many things that the occupying forces found amongst mountains of belongings and Nazi paraphernalia were a range of bizarre items that seemed normal but were the product of the horrors of a number of Nazi camps. These included a few items that the inmate told her were made of human skin. There were lampshades and book marks and other items.  I don’t know exactly who gave the bookmarks to her but it was someone associated with Bergen Belsen camp and she told me they wanted to get rid of them. She had mixed emotions about them, wanting to bury them at some point, but eventually they remained in her cupboard with a lot of World War II material including Nazi items. 
 
Bergen Belsen, or Belsen as It was commonly called, was a true horror camp and the sick mentality of those who ran it represented one of the lowest points in human history.
 
My mother spent another two years with Control Commission as the task of sorting out millions of displaced people was enormous and the units dealing with the problem were understaffed a lot of the time. She lived in various parts of Germany and for a time was based in Lemgo. Much of what she did she told me was secret and I never really delved too much into it. She seemed to think the Official Secrets Act was still in force!!

I still have her lapel badges and buttons and the Control Commission badge she wore as well as the CC magazines. I also have a photo album of the Control Commission people and I think some were attached to the Jewish Brigade like Mum. She met a Jewish man who she really loved whilst working there and she kept his photo, good looking guy. He asked mum to marry her and go to Palestine but at that time things were rough in Palestine and she was warned by her friends to keep away. So she returned to England in early 1947 I think, and later married Dad. 
 
It seems odd but all these years later there are still bits of information or artifacts that take us back to that horrible time.
 
Anyway I hope that whatever happens they stand as a reminder of that time.
 
-Mark

 

 

 

 

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THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AND FIRST WORLD WAR ENLISTMENT

By: Dr Klee Benveniste

THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AND FIRST WORLD WAR ENLISTMENT

About 12% of our South Australian Jewish community served in the first World War, the highest proportion of any congregation in the Commonwealth of Australia. There have been national efforts in Australia to undertake what is proving to be a difficult process of compiling a list of all the Jewish men and women who served in the First World War for centenary events. For South Australia, Adelaide Hebrew Congregation archivist and Board Member Dr Klee Benveniste started with the Congregation’s Roll of Honour board and has been researching digital newspapers and war service records in the National Archives of Australia on South Australian Jewish servicemen and women as this is extremely difficult for anyone outside Adelaide who does not know the community. As work continues, other Jews who served from the same family are being found and added to that list. Service records almost universally list them as Jewish or Hebrew, but in some cases the examining person recording height, hair colour etc, recorded another religion.

So far, at 24th April 2015, the Jewish men and women who enlisted who were born in South Australia, were from the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation or enlisted from South Australia and declared in their service records to be Jewish totals at least sixty with others still being considered which may take the total to more than eighty:

WORLD WAR I SERVICEMEN:

ABLESON, Coleman;  ABRAMOVITZ, Alexander;  ASHER, Felix;  ASHER, Rudolph;  BARNARD, Lancelot Lee;  BARNARD, Sydney Harry;  BENJAMIN, Louis;  BENJAMIN, Mark;  BLACK, Emanuel;  BLACK, Ernest;  FRANKENBURG, Edward;  GILD, Samuel;  GOLDBERG, Joseph;  HAINS, Clarence Louis;  HAINS, Harold Joseph;  HAINS, Ivan Coronel;  HAINS, Morris;  HAINS, Philip;  HAINS, Sidney Joseph;  ISRAEL, Reuben;  JACOBS, Arthur Abraham;  JACOBS, Clifford  Arthur;  JACOBS, David;  JACOBS, Emanuel (or Martin Edward);  JACOBS, Sullivan William;  JACOBS Sydney;  JUDELL, Cedric;  JUDELL, Elias (known Jewish , but listed as another religion) killed in action at Gallipoli and buried in grave no. 6 plot 2 Row Z of the Walker’s Ridge Cemetery;  KURTZ, David Mark;  LEVY, Elias;  LIPERT, Louis (or Lewis);  LIPMAN, Alfred Emile;  MEYER, Reginald Victor;  MORRIS, Alfred Levy;  MORRIS, Lewis George;  MORRIS, Roy Albert;  NAPHTALI (in records as NAPTHALI), Walter;   NETTER, Henry;  PIMENTAL, Morton Parker;  RABINOVITCH, Elijah Hurst;  RAPHAEL, Keith Simeon;  ROSENGARTEN, Arnold Leslie;  ROSENGARTEN, Leopold;  ROSENGARTEN, Leopold Jabille Gersham;  ROSENTHAL, Samuel;  SALOM, Bertram Philip;  SAUNDERS, Samuel Archie;  SIMMONS, Israel;  SIMMONS, Leon;  SOLOMON, Albert Yuba; SOLOMON, Louis Victor;  SOLOMON, Sidney Gordon;  SOLOMON, Sydney John; SOLOMONS, Leslie Emanuel;  VICTORSEN, Albert Joseph;  VICTORSEN, Talbot George;  VICTORSEN, Louis Charles (or Charles);  WHITEHILL, Thane formerly WEISBERG, Thain;  WOLFSON, Heyman;  WOOD, Gus Raymond.

WORLD WAR I NURSES: BENNETT, Miriam Adelaide; DANIELS, Sophia

Research has added more recorded as Jews at enlistment:  ADELSON Isidore; ASCHMAN Robert ;  BEHREND Oscar;  BLOUSTEIN Maurice (discharged); BLOUSTEIN, Solomon;  BIRNBERG, Lionel;  GORDON Samuel Louis; HARRIS Joseph, as well as some who enlisted in imperial forces overseas such as JACOBS, Isaac Charles (in South Africa).

Some of the soldiers who appear on lists but whose status is still to be determined; ISAAC, Alfred Ernest;  JOSEPH, Coleman Henry – Major (religion not declared);  JOSEPHS, Cyprian James;   JOSEPHS, Walter Charles;  MARTIN, Felix;  MYERS, Isaiah Myer;  SOLOMON, Douglas;  SOLOMON, Lawrie recorded as Laurie;  SUSMAN, Harold Steinfeld (Lieutenant, religion not declared);  and Nurse: BENNETT Rosetta.

So the number of Jews who served is still being verified and may never be finally known. There are many personal stories behind the names in documents and newspapers:

- Mrs Camens (nee HAINS) who applied in 1967 to obtain the medals of her brother Morris killed at Gallipoli in 1915 wrote in her letter that her four Hains brothers including two doctors, enlisted for active service.

- Mrs Hannah JACOBS, formerly from London, who ran various hotels in Adelaide including the Saracen’s Head and the Colonel Light Hotel (which has only recently closed this year) was noted by a newspaper to have six sons serve as soldiers in the war, five enlisted in Australia, one of whom was killed in action, and a sixth who enlisted from South Africa and not heard from since.

 “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them”:

On Anzac Day (25th April, which falls on Shabbat this year) we remember the following South Australian Jewish men killed in action in World War I or II and other conflicts since:

Private Coleman ABELSON

- buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, Nord, France;

Stoker John Samuel ASHER

- buried in West Terrace Jewish Cemetery, Adelaide, South Australia;

Private Sydney Harry BARNARD

-  buried in France, remembered at Villers Brettoneux Memorial, Somme, France;

Private Morris HAINS

- died at Gallipoli, buried at Lone Pine Cemetery, ANZAC, Turkey;

Sergeant Arthur Abraham JACOBS (buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West- Vlaanderen, Belgium;

Quartermaster-Sergeant Elias JUDELL (died at Gallipoli, buried at Walker’s Ridge Cemetery, ANZAC, Turkey;

Private Elias LEVY

- buried at Longueval Road Cemetery, Somme, France;

Private Eliezer Hurst RABINOVITCH

- buried at Suzanne Communal Cemetery extension, Somme, France;

Driver Samuel Archie SAUNDERS

- buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France;

Driver Samuel SOLONSCH

- Jakarta (ANCOL) Netherlands Field of Honour, Indonesia;

Also Commando Private Gregory Michel SHER who grew up in Adelaide, died in Afghanistan and was buried in Australia.

The work will be developed into a local Adelaide Hebrew Congregation Library display in our new ‘Hall of Fame’ museum so any photographs or further detail would be appreciated. Any financial support to Adelaide Hebrew Congregation Library Fund toward the project or the display materials or in memory of those who served, would be most gratefully received. The archivist is also planning to exhibit a never-before-displayed collection of photographs of Australian soldiers serving in Palestine donated to our AHC archives years ago by the niece of a local non-Jewish serviceman.

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Ten Things I Learned in Antarctica with the Unstoppables

Ten Things I Learned in Antarctica with the Unstoppables

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A l’chaim with some new friends

This past January-February, I was in Antarctica with over a hundred inspiring individuals. I went as part of the Unstoppables: a group of Entrepreneurial minded people dedicated to bettering the world. The trip was ten days of: learning, networking and collaborating. Here are ten things I learned on the trip:

  1. Spiritual Entrepreneurs:  I was surprised to find how many of the participants were interested in some form of spirituality.  Be it, meditation, religion, or even aliens. I found a lot of people to be looking for meaning in what they did. Many with money may enjoy spending it on physical pleasures, but they are seeking a deeper truth.
  2. Inspiration: I try to be inspired by everyone I meet. On the boat I was surrounded by people who were power- houses of inspiration. People who have done incredible things, not only in business, but in all areas of life.
  3. Humility: I enjoy meeting and surrounding myself with people who have done more than me. On the boat I met many individuals who have done things in certain areas well beyond where I am now, and it is humbling. With humility comes personal growth.
  4. Non-Judgmental: Amongst such a high caliber of people, I found a high tolerance for being non-judgmental and accepting. Some people live their lives with conflict and anger towards everyone and everything. To get to the top, you cannot waste energy fighting with others. Rather, through acceptance and understanding we can learn and grow from everyone and everything around us.

    Antarctica Penguins

    Contemplating the meaning of life

  5. No Nonsense: On the boat, I said something I should not have said, and someone called me out on it. I appreciated the high level of openness and brutal honesty, more so then I’ve ever experienced amongst the general public. If someone liked your idea they said so. If they thought it was crap they said so. Most people cannot handle brutal honesty and prefer being lied to. But highly confident people who really want to get somewhere in life prefer hearing the truth.
  6. Network Power: My network is very important to me, but at times I can forget that I must keep working on it. Surrounding oneself with good people is critical to success and converting them into your network doubly so.
  7. Going Blindly: The founder: Julio De Laffitte said at one presentation, something like this: “what do I know to be true which I am failing to see.” We can go through life ignoring things we should see until they hit us smack in the face. I believe we all do this to some degree. I will make this one of my favorite sayings.
  8. Strange Beliefs: As an orthodox Jew, sometimes I think some of my practices are strange. But on the boat I learned, there are people I respect who have stranger beliefs and weirder ritual practices.  If a belief or practice helps us become a better person while not harming anyone else, then it is usually fine to do.
  9. Montreal is colder then Antarctica: I thought it was going to be cold, but it was usually pleasant provided the wind wasn’t blowing. We had zero degrees there while it was -20 in Montreal.
  10. Alcohol on the Rocks: Tastes better with thousand year old ice chipped of an iceberg!
  11. Penguin Poo Stinks: Penguins may be cute, but they make lots of noise, and their poo stinks. I will not get one as a pet. (Note: the drunken British tourists fined for stealing a penguin from Australia sea world 2012…)
    Crossing the Antarctic Circle

    Crossing the Antarctic Circle

    I'm the one in the yellow jacket!

    I’m the one in the yellow jacket!

    Black ice and other ice

    Dave displays the difference in black ice!

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