Little Creatures Of God

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. –

Out of nowhere they attach themselves to our heartstrings. They are cute, most say adorable, and we welcome them into our lives with smiles and a giddy feeling of anticipation.

These little creatures of God come to us seemingly from out of the blue, and then mandate our full focus, our total support, our time and talents. We bring them into our families, and everything changes. Dramatically. Immediately. Forever.

What have we done to be worthy of these little beings? Is their presence in our lives a challenge, or an opportunity to love more? Will the future we share be uplifting, or a lifelong struggle?

When these additions arrived, few of us were fully cognizant of the responsibilities they would require. Few of us could imagine how they would take over our lives, and even fewer could think beyond a busy tomorrow’s activities with them.

Little creatures of God.

We bring them into our families, they change us, and we often stumble not knowing how to reply to all their needs but pray we will not injure these tiny creations. For they’re even too young to tell us what they need.

So, we wait, and in wonder watch them begin to grow — bigger, stronger, taller, more able to communicate their wants.

How is it possible for such little beings to so completely dominate our lives and all the plans of our entire families? Incredible! Each one unique! Tied to us as we are tied to them, fully and completely. Responding as best we can, with love and understanding as we stand many feet taller than they.

They are beautiful little creatures of God, and we are there to become their providers and protectors. It’s a miracle for both of us.

Welcome little puppies. Your love for us expands ours for you.

 


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


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Time To Dream, Again

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. –

As I write this column, just a few weeks to go and then the ball falls in NYC, and we all are challenged to remember to write 2018 on our checks and letters.

Amazing how fast time flies these days. One week turns quickly into another and then we repeat it. I know that there are still 24 hours in every day, and seven days to a week. But the older I get, the faster time flies.

Can you remember, as I do, how l-o-n-g it took for Thanksgiving vacation to arrive every fall, when we were in elementary school? It seemed to take “years” to arrive. Then the parade courtesy of Macy’s was over, and back to classes until just a few weeks later we found the extended freedom of Christmas/winter vacation.

Do we accomplish more as we age? Or is it just that we begin to realize the finality of life, and must hurry to complete all our tasks prior to seeing our ball falling forever? Time never changes, unless you revel in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity — but that’s way past my intellectual scope. For me, time becomes what we do with it. If I lean back in my chair and contemplate the universe, it looks like I’m “wasting” time. If I’m busy at the computer, then an outsider might agree I’m using my time wisely.

It’s the same number of hours, but keeping busy speeds time. Think back when as little kids we would look up at the clouds and imagine the faces and animals and airplanes up there. Hours of day-dreaming.

As adults, we cannot seem to find the time to day-dream. We’re too busy doing this, that and the other, to just stop — and rest our minds, or look at the clouds.

Have a Happy New Year, 2018.

 


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


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LIFE: L’Chaim, then BAM!

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. –

Sad. Happy. Quietly listening to pain. Enjoying family, celebrating at the holidays.

Many are the emotions we all have to deal with, were we to listen to lyrics of the famous Disney song “Circle of Life.” There is much to be fondly impressed by. There is also much to be depressed by. Life is a balance, and not always an equal balance.

As I write this column in early October, I celebrated a joyous festival with friends and family (Sukkot), while at the same time recovering from the difficult loss of a good friend.

So how does one do both? What is the secret to being happy while grieving? How is it possible to be both happy and sad, and fully participate in both those aspects of one’s life? Less of one and more of the other? Where is the appropriate balance?

When joyful times arise, we celebrate; we revel in the company of relatives and friends; we drink “L’chaim” To Life! And all is good. All seems OK. All appears to be under control and normal.

Then something happens that is devastating, that hurts, that shakes the body to its core. Tears, inability to smile; depression hovers, superimposed on the happy. Weird combination. Unusual situation.

That is what is going on in my head right now. The community welcomes the new year and the festival that follows, and BAM! A terrible calamity happens and the fun and joy is sucked out of the festival. The balance is tipped, and sadness becomes the norm, for a while.

Sunshine followed by fog; brightness glowing, then an impenetrable darkness.

That is life. That is the balance we all face. That is the yin and yang of human existence. First one, then the other. How we handle the problems and resolve the issues is what makes us human. Being able to cope is the ultimate human challenge. Finding the key to open the reality box, is the test.

At some point in time, each of us will be hit with such a difficult choice. Choose the one and gloom reigns, choose the other and joy takes over — waiting for the “BAM”.

To all who face the downside of this challenge, this painful “Circle of Life” challenge, I am only able to offer my warm hugs. The gloom will finally fade, the joy will return, and the circle will continue.

May we have more joyous and celebrative times than sad and gloomy ones, so we will be strong enough to go forward with an honest and compelling smile.


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


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Summertime…And The Forgettin’ Is Easy

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz –

Summertime!

This is the cry of school kids from Kindergarten through college. The expectation that the summer vacation frees them from studying, from learning, from reading, from following current events, for them is real. However, in reality, summertime should be an opportunity to study, learn, read and better understanding the world — without the pressures of tests or teachers’ frightening glares.

Forgetting is easy. Too easy.

Spending a full summer just ‘chillin out’ as some call it, is a full summer wasted. Reading is critical for everybody, in whatever language(s) one reads. From the youngest to the more mature, keeping the grey matter active is critical and smart.

Now I know you are hearing from your children, “but it’s summertime!” Yup, it’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. But the world does not stop because it is summer in this part of the globe.

Use the months of summer to bolster readiness for next semester. Take an active part in learning during summer. Try exploring something enjoyable that is not part of the curriculum. Use the computers at the public library. Visit the state capitol museum. Travel a little north to find out about the different flora and fauna of Arizona. Take a walk — not a ride — and listen to the sounds of the world around you. Try to understand a hummingbird. Hear leaves whispering. None of these costs anything, and the impact could be seriously overwhelming.

During summer, don’t let the mind stagnate. Watch the news programs, and analyze their differences. Listen to radio news, and hear what others across the globe sound like. Find a Study-Buddy, and explore a museum, play softball, create a new dessert for the family supper. But don’t waste this summer! Read, learn, explore…and have fun!

I remember having to write annually about “what I did during my summer vacation.” The fall editorial adventure, trying to make summer look good to others, and trying to make myself feel good for having wasted so much time.

Doesn’t have to be…

Video games have a purpose, but not at the expense of picking up a daily newspaper or a topic-friendly book. Let the youngsters rest their thumbs for a little while. Motivate their body’s senses to take in the sights and sounds only available in summer. Capture special moments. Challenge the season to give its special opportunities, and have fun doing it.

For many, summer is 10 week long; two and a half months. Plan a calendar that allows for “down-time” and fun-time, and learning time. Don’t fritter away the potential joy of finding something new, visiting an extraordinary venue or helping around the house.

Ahhhh summertime. Use it wisely and energize the mind. Keep active, and enjoy the schedule change.


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


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Life, Liberty And The Pursuit of Happiness…Or Not!

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz –

Ever since we opened an American history textbook in school, we have been taught that American citizens are correct in expecting the privileges of living under our government’s “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” [LLPH] statement.

But what is the “pursuit of happiness?”

Where does my happiness come into conflict with your happiness? And how would we resolve it? Even if we had “happiness,” what would that mean?

To be more precise, when can I start celebrating my “happiness” and not fear being told to stop.

Across this country, all around our state, within our cities there are ordinances that govern your LLPH and mine. Many individuals find they are stifled in their exercise of “happiness” because someone claims offense, even if the pained person is not affected by the specific “happiness” actions.

Our neighbors, the LGBTQ community, still face bigotry and fear in hiring (and firing), in securing a place to live, and in public accommodations like restaurants and hotels.

I’m not a member of that minority; I’m in another minority that is facing its own raging difficulties worldwide. Still, the right to live freely under the protection of the laws of LLPH is under attack. LGBTQ folks work hard, live well and enjoy the same comforts we do. So why such antagonism?

Historically, activities that are different, are viewed as wrong or evil. We had the Salem Witch Trials, Jim Crowe Laws, the Holocaust and Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell. These examples are not equal, but we’ve seen how the use of vitriolic language against any of “them” too often results in harm and pain. Symbols of hate become actions; actions look for targets, and our entire nation suffers.

As Phoenix, Scottsdale and all of Arizona look to expand their piece of the economic pie, it must be noted that LGBTQ neighbors must also be ‘players.’ Look what happened in North Carolina when a single decision caused the NCAA and scores of corporations to pull-away.

We all benefit when each of us can freely express who we are; can live a life free from pejoratives, slander, bigotry and harm; and are allowed to enjoy the same “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as the rest of us.

I take inspiration from standing alongside those who speak up for their rights and for “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I pray our cities and our state may become OPEN to business, and become ONE Community of support and understanding, even if we may disagree on specific concerns.


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


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La La Land Is Not Just A Movie

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz –

So here we are, weeks into the new presidential world and more people are praying than ever before. Some pray for the new president, his family and administration, others pray for a return to democracy, sanity and honesty.

There are thousands out there who will never be pleased until all that was promised during the all-too-long campaign, is realized. And there are those who look at falsehoods, and call them out!

Whatever one believes, there is a difference between truth and untruth, between fact and fiction, between reality and fabrication. Honesty requires truth. And did not someone once proclaim, “…and the truth shall make you free.”

Those of us who seek truth, honesty and reality are being challenged today with its opposite, and some even seek to invalidate us in our own country, where we voted and express our views.

Prayers are fine, but the Almighty does not take sides in football games, and certainly doesn’t select political administrations. We cannot say, “God is on our side,” because the only way to know God’s mind is to be God’s mind, and we still remain “a little lower than the angels.”

What will happen to this country in the next four years, we can only guess, because presidential decisions now are made by Tweets, and Tweets don’t have to be real.

Prayers will help many who feel disenfranchised; meditations may allow folks to experience calm. Actions make the difference! Challenges to imposed authority are what made the United States into the greatest democracy in the world. Acceptance of falsehoods and fabrications will cause this wonderful adventure to shrivel. The phrase, “speak truth to power,” could not be more critical. Stand up. Speak out. Invoke honesty.

And may the Almighty help us all.

 

 


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


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Integrity And Honesty – Not So Real Today

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz –

I shake your hand and the deal is final, done, set, completed. My handshake, and the required signature at the bottom of the page, is all that is needed to attest to the fact that there is now a resolution that both sides agree on.

Or is it?

Today I read about tweaks on meaning. I see TV reports about going-back from statements. I hear people saying, “That’s not what I meant.”

So what is real and what is honest and what is truth, today?

“My word is my bond” used to be the way in which people dealt with one another. What was said, was meant, and what was agreed to was final.

It seems that one’s promise or pledge is NOT the end point. There is now the possibility of changing, totally reversing views, switching the terms and of altering the meaning when the result does not poll well.

No longer can I assume that comments made to me are true. Well, maybe, sometimes, on occasion they are true, but more often than not what is proposed is only as valid as the split second in which it is uttered, or Tweeted or Snapped.

Honesty is no longer the best policy, subterfuge is, unfortunately. When I was a kid, we called dishonesty what it was, lying. I was taught that if I made a promise or stated a fact, it was real and to be accepted as final and true.

Not today!

It’s not just that ‘spin-meisters’ twist words and mislead listeners. It’s done purposely and with – as the legal system calls it – malice of forethought. There is a plan to deceive and to make that action appear to be a re-traction from the original comment, a reversal from the promise. “Oh, no that’s not what s/he said… What s/he really meant to say was this!”

Such pernicious platitudes and disingenuous digressions are now what formulate the perception of truth. My handshake and my word are still valid… But others’, I’m not sure anymore?

It seems that being honest is no longer in vogue nor appropriate. One continually sees the alteration, the invalidation, the swing in interpretation.

It appears to me that one’s word is no longer a bond of trust. Interpersonal relationships – accomplished not face to face, but electronically – are neither “inter” nor “personal.”

The world is inter-connected we say. In truth, the world is more disconnected than ever. And not just because of mechanics or electronics.

One’s handshake or verbal pledges today have little value in the highest realms of the legal, corporate, political or global universe.

My word remains my bond. My handshake is still a validating action. My comments remain my views. No need for ‘spin’ or ‘reversing’ or ‘redaction’.

Maybe others will also come to that perspective someday soon.


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


Photo credit: outtacontext via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I’m Buzzed, But I’m Happy

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz –

My head is a-buzz.

Not with bees. Not with the incessant hum of machinery. Not with the background noise of a city.

My head is buzzing because I’m exhausted.

It’s one thing to be tired from missing a few hours of sleep. It’s another to be in a “zone” where it’s all fuzzy. And I’m there today.

Nope. I didn’t spend a night getting alcohol-blitzed, nor did I eat to explosion.

Rather, I spent an overnight work-shift with the men and women of several police departments, whose job last night was to take drunks off the road, and they did.

The East Valley DUI Task Force starts in the early evening and ends after about 4am.

I was awake all day, then “worked” the overnight shift, all night.

So, I’m buzzed. But I’m happy to know that in our area there were no cataclysms, no enormous wrecks, no families having to be told a dear one was dead, because of a selfish, drunk driver.

We did meet some folks who had begun to try to drive their vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and most were sorry for their attempt.

I did see some incredibly supportive and helpful individuals who were working when most of the world was either relaxing or sleeping. Police officers – women and men – who took care to identify the problems of the inebriated drivers, and to treat them with more dignity than they probably deserved. It’s just cops doing their job.

I was there to show them there is a massive group of people – like you and me – who appreciate what they do, even on a long, holiday weekend.

Yes, I’m buzzed, but I’m happy about it. Sleep will come tonight. Drive safely.


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his nearly three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.


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In A World Of Do It Yourself

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz –

What a world! On TV, we watch Do-it-Yourself programs. In the large “box stores” we are shown how to do it ourselves. In congregations and religious gatherings we are told how to do it ourselves. Even sports equipment maker Nike says, “Just do it.”

If everything were that easy, we wouldn’t need all those guidebooks, videos, DVD’s and ‘self-improvement’ manuals. If our human responsibilities were so easy, we wouldn’t constantly rely on the best information from others.

So, I guess life is not so easy that we can do it by ourselves. Possibly we do require some assistance from others – human, animal or spiritual.

When an Assistance Animal passes by, doing its job, we smile and think well of its training. When a friend asks for help, what do we do? We should immediately open our wallet, our heart, our home – depending on the need. Do we? What often happens is mental-gymnastics. We think about the issue. We analyze the problem. We pre-plan what we are going to say. We formulate suggestions that should alleviate the problem. And by then, too often the friend has moved on.

Were we to do it ourselves, respond ourselves, answer-up ourselves the world might be a happier place. “Justice delayed is justice denied” were the words of Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand. By drawing the parallel, we should be ready to do what is right and proper, now.

Delaying what is right, planning to plan, holding off on a reply until it is analyzed ad infinitum deny applicants what they need most, our immediate assistance. Hopefully, each of us will someday grow to where we can do it ourselves, and based on sound principles and reliable knowledge, do it right.


Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his nearly three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.

Every Tomorrow Has A Yesterday Built Into It

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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz –

Memories. Thoughts of the past. Ideas from former actions. Drifting into the ether of yesterdays, composed of memories, recollections.

We build on the past. We formulate today on the basis of yesterday, to make a new tomorrow.

Each chapter of our book follows a previous page. Every tomorrow has a yesterday built into it.

When memories are happy, we smile. Should the memory be angry, we grimace. As memories please us, we may giggle.

Recalling events, people, decisions, classes helps us grow; helps us expand our vision for tomorrow. All that was, is – returning through the lens of memory.

We remember family, friends, classmates, co-workers and each sends a signal to our brain that either makes us happy, sad or angry…or something else. We dream while asleep and day-dream while awake, always coming to a conclusion that is either a plus or a minus. Our lives are two ends of a circuit. Memories help draw them together, and present us with new ideas, new directions.

Every chapter in our book of life prompts glimpses of our past, reflected in our today. As we grow intellectually we sometimes push the memories back…until they burst forth all at once in some unexpected rush!

So we laugh, cry, shiver, smile…reactions to our memories, OUR personal history. What we do, how we do it, where and when it takes place, are all cue cards for memories to come.

The beauty of remembering is that we can luxuriate in the joys and refresh ourselves in that past. When remembrances are not happy ones, we suffer under their weight.

Our challenge is to make this time, our present, our todays, joy-filled and interesting, so remembering will make us smile.


 

Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his nearly three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at rrlkdd@hotmail.com.

 


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