Saturday, September 29, 2007

How Do I Define Beauty? Part 2

Initially, I only planned on doing one post on what I find physically beautiful. I already did a few articles that detail what are standards for a woman that I would marry. That post can be found here. When I thought about it some more there were more women that I found give a broader picture on physically what catches my eye.

I have a varied amount of tastes when it comes to physical appearance. I wish there was some sort of program where I could morph all these women together and see what the mix of what I like looks like in one woman. I find a number of women beautiful beyond the ones I listed. These are simply the ones with the most accessible pictures that come to mind.

There are either real life attributes or film role attributes that make these women beautiful to me. As I mentioned in part 1, it is more than just what they look like physically. Yet, if I were to walk down the street these are the type of women that catch my eye, as long as they carry themselves in the way I defined in Part 1.

Yemenite Israeli Singer Shoshana Damari z"l

Actress Angela Bassett

Singers Floicist and Songtress of the London group Floetry

Actress Cree Summer

Nigerian Actress Genevieve Nnaji

Bollywood Indian Actress Amrita Singh

Actress Rosario Dawson
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

How Do I Define Beauty? Part 1

An article I recently read dealt with how it is hard for our eyes to resist attractive people. As I read into more and I began to think more on the topic, and I asked myself how do I define beauty? I have no problem in saying that I do notice beautiful women when I am out and about. Yet, I look for a number things beyond measurements and such. Yes, I do have my own physical preferences, but these are mostly in the realm of proportion. Yet, I have seen some beautiful in a number of shapes and sizes.

More than naught I look at several things that causes me to know that I am looking at a beautiful woman.

1) How does she carry herself and does she walk with a certain sense of pride?
2) How she dresses. Is she modest in her attire, but at the same time fashionable?
3) Does she have certain proportions in frame that I like?
4) Is she kind hearted, while at the same time able to stand up for herself?
5) Is she spiritually and socially active?
6) Does she have a diverse view of the world?

The women that I have been attracted to were always strong and seeking to be more morally correct. They have also been intelligent, caring and kind to others. The woman I currently seek in my life will be easy for me to recognize, at this stage in my life, because I have walked long enough to know what I value. I also have taken some years to develop myself to know what I need from her, and what I can give to her.

When I was a kid my mother had a lot of female friends who provided the basis of what I look for in a woman. My mother's friends always stood for something, and they were fun people to be around. They were all different and they all dealt with different issues in their personal lives, but there was something about them that I found attractive. I learned at lot from hearing these women talk, and the wife that I seek in my life more than likely will resemble elements of these female examples. I also look for a woman that makes me feel like the lyrics to the following song.

Luther Vandross and Gregory Hines - There Is Nothing Better Than Love

Even with all of the abstract factors above, the best way for me to define my views of physical beauty is to show you women who I find beautiful for one or more of the reasons I mentioned above. Looking at these women more closely they resemble the type of women I grew up seeing and respecting throughout my youth. Note: This list is in no particular order.

Singer Marie Daulne of Zap Mama

An Ethiopian Israeli friend of mine Bizu "Riki" Mullu

Yemenite Israeli Singer Achinoam Nini

N'Bushe Wright

Singer Sally Nyolo formally of Zap Mama

Actress Zuleikha Robinson

Actress Vivian Nixon daughter of Debbi Allen

Yemenite Israeli Singer Ofra Haza

Actress Sanaa Lathan
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Israel My Kind of Place: The Music

These are a few examples of the music that listen to here in Israel. There is a nice mix of Jewish cultures here and Idan Rachel is a good example of that fusion. This song is made up of both Amharic (Ethiopian) and Hebrew lyrics.

Idan Raichel's Project - Mima'amakim

Mosh Ben Ari has a nice blend of reggae, pop, and traditional band blends. Every time I listen to Enatsel I feel like I am going into a storm and coming out the other side okay. Having played drums when I was younger I know that this one of those songs that would be a work out to perform.

Mosh Ben Ari - Enatsel
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Israel My Kind of Place: Bizarro World

Bizarro World from the Superman Comic Books

So I have covered a number of things that I wanted to write about before Yom Kippur so now I will do some writing about my life here in Israel. Several friends of mine have wanted to know my take on living here. I will try to write something every week, so here it is.
The Kotel i.e The Western Wall in Jerusalem

Things are going well here. I have a new apartment here in Maale Adummim and I am getting set up faster than most people who move here. My cousin said my Aliyah has been a strange and interesting one since I had about two weeks to get all of my stuff together before I started work. In a previous article I talked about my adventure in getting my Teudat Zehut (Israeli ID). So what I have been doing since that time?

The City of Maale Adummim, Israel where I live

I started work during the second week of August. I am getting paid some nice money for Israel, ad I was given a company car. Work is interesting, because there are some really funny people here. It is definitely more lay back than when I worked in America, yet at the same time people work hard. There have been a number of times when I am still working on some things at 5:30 p.m. and people are like, what do you plan on staying all night? I love it! When I worked in America for Fujitsu I often was staying at work till about 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. on a good day. Because of the weird schedule we were put under we were often doing night shifts and weekends, and I had no real private time. When I finished with work all I felt like doing was eating and then sleeping. Here in Israel I feel more energized and I like the fact that I have so much that I can do when I get home.

Weird Things Happen At Work

For those who don't know I am an electrical engineer and I work for an test lab in Kefar Bin Nun. I had one day last week that was like Bizarro World where I had to drop off some equipment at our other office. There are no parking spots and the company car they gave me didn't have the proper tags to part on inside the compund. The guard let me in, but told me I had 15 minutes. Since I thought I would only be in there for a few minutes I parked in a reserved spot.

So when I got inside the building the CEO wanted to talk to me, he then later had another guy talk to me. That guy is known to talk for a long time and he did. I am known to be talkative also, but I believe that in this situation I had met my match. He kept talking and talking, mostly about non-work stuff. He talked a lot about some guy he once worked with that he described as a bastard, no a bastard of bastards, and a son of a b***. As he kept going on about this guy I tried not to laugh, but when began with the flailing of his arms as he described the guy I couldn't help it so I started laughing. He chuckled a bit, stopped, and then said, "Okay, no more laughing." That alone almost made me laugh some more, so I sat there trying to hold it in as he kept going about things that had nothing to do with work.

He later went on to talk about an Israeli guy I met at MET about 7 years ago from Tel Aviv, that he described as a nice guy, but he also added that the guy was a dirt bag. At this point I had been at the facility for about 25 minutes and I began to think about my car parked in that reserve spot. I tried to tell him that I was parked in a reserved spot, and he said don't worry about it and he kept talking. I also told him that my manager didn't know I was going to be gone so long. He said, "He won't miss a meal while you are gone." A few minutes later I found out everyone was looking for me because I parked in the CEO's parking spot. That was only the beginning of the fun.

The Car Crash

Later that evening when I was going home, I got my official welcome to Israel. A car stopped in front of me on highway 1 going towards back to Jerusalem. I stope maybe about 1 foot behind him. The car behind me was going at a high speed and all I heard were brakes not being applied in time, and then I felt it. I had hit so hard that it knocked my glasses forward, and my kippa went flying. The car behind me hit my car so hard that was pushed into the car in front of me. At that moment I was in a bit shock since this the first accident that I had been involved in. I wasn't hurt, but the car was messed up. My trunk would no longer close, and my hood was dented.

I had never been in a major accident in America, so I once dismissed the response shown in the below commercial.

After being hit hard and pushed into another car and not being hurt I can definitely say my reaction was EXACTLY the same as the girl at the end of the commercial.

The guy who hit me was okay with it because it was a company car and so was his. The guy in front of me checked to see if I was okay, at the time I felt like I was. We kept our cars in the same lane as the accident as we exchanged information. Still thinking like America I was also waiting for someone to suggest that we call the police to file a report.

So then the police arrived. They asked if we were all okay. Everyone said yes, and then they said, "Okay we need you all to get your cars off the road and to the side." We did as they said and then they drove off. I was later told that the police are mostly for security here rather than traffic. The next day I drove my battered car to work, and I was given a new one later that day. It was then that I began to feel a bit of tightness in my back and abdonminal area as if I had worked out. I then realized that the whip lash in the accident may have had an affect. When I went to the Abir martial arts class that night I began to feel better, though it took a few days for the feeling to go away. Before I moved here I was told that the terrorists aren't the ones you have to worry about it is the middle eastern drivers. Now I look 4 or 5 cars ahead and 20 cars behind me. Thank God that the air bag didin't go off in my face, and thank God that the guy who hit me wasn't going any faster.


There will be more to come, but one thing I can tell you about being here in Israel. If you have ever attended an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) in America prior to about 2000 then Israel will be 1/2 adventure and 1/2 cake walk for you. If you have a good job. Truly this is Bizarro World, but it is my Bizarro World and I love it because I find so many things here that make me laugh.
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Monday, September 10, 2007

The Sleeper Has Awakened: The Finale

So thus comes the finale of this group of writings as I prepare myself for Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. In some cases in life we walk around like we are sleep. Yet, there comes a times when we must wake up and take an active part in the world. At some point we have to conquer our fears, our faults, and our emotions in order to become a more complete person. Even now there are areas of my life that I am working on changing and there are areas of my life that I want to strengthen.

As with any process I have to know my limits and at the same time I have to make sure not to limit myself. Some of the things that limited me was not being in the right place at the right time. I spent countless years trying to find my way home, internally and externally. Each journey helped me grow, but all those places were temporary. What I sought was something more permenant. There are those who feared that my decision to move to Israel would have an element of wanted to die i.e. being in a place of danger being like suicide. Yet to partially quote Cowboy Beebop, I didn't move here to die, I moved here to see if I am really alive.

The Wiz - You Can't Win

This includes not letting others tell me I can't do or become something that is completely within my power. When I was younger I heard this a lot. Whether people told me I wasn't smart enough, wasn't good looking enough, wasn't quick enough, or didn't have the know how. The worst part of it is that sometimes I believed them. Yet, 95% of what I have done with my life, and who I am I was once told was impossible for me to do or become. A big part of this also includes not setting myself up for failure, by concentrating on the price of failure instead of the benefits of success.

There were people who told me that coming to Israel was going to change me because they thought I was a push over. What they didn't know is that I have faced these kind of challenges all of my life. The failure is not in trying and not succeeding. The real failure is in not trying and in not believing that God can lead you, but also that you can act for yourself.

From this point forth, I am going to commit myself to the following things. Much of which I have already begun to work on.
  1. Getting my Hebrew more fluent.
  2. Getting back in shape.
  3. Continue to master the Abir martial arts.
  4. Learning more from the book of Mishle (Proverbs)
  5. Continue to collect books for my library.
  6. Mastering my emotions.
  7. Not fearing mistakes.
  8. Being more direct when something needs to be done.
Change can be scary, and fear has held back many good people from accomplishing great things. Some choose to remain sleep in order to not have to wake and face reality. In the end we can choose to sleep or to be awake. I believe God has placed much of our own destinies in our collective hands. I have slept long enough by letting destiny pass me by. Now that I am home in Israel it is time to truly wake up.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Sleeper Must Awaken: Personality Faults

The Folly of Youth

One of the telling changes that had taken place in my life is the idea of recognizing that I am a man of many imperfections. This was very difficult to come to terms with because for a number of years I was so used to always being right, or thinking I was always right. I think that as a child I developed a defense mechanism to being picked on by bullies and made to feel lower than others. In my defense I became the type of person who was a know it all and I sought to always gain the attention of others.

Often instead of listening and valuing the perspectives of other people my belief that I had a superior logic became a justification for hurting people. I became someone who was alone, not because I wanted to be, but because I was an unpleasant person to be around. Instead of realizing there was a time to make jokes and be funny and a time to be serious I chose to try and be funny at every turn. Instead of comforting people in their time of need my needs were the only things that were important to me. Instead of keeping my words in check I would often say the first thing that came to my mind, without any consideration to the nature of my statement. These faults I carried around like badges of honor for a number of years not knowing them to be faults, but instead believing them to be advantages.

The Mistake of a Lifetime

That all changed with several mistakes I made with a woman who will be known as Sha’ah. I met her at a conservative synagogue that I sometimes frequented. She was beautiful and passionate about matters of Judaic history. She had lived in Israel for a number of years after feeling a connection to Judaism while growing up in Shri Lanka. I admired her logic and knowledge base, but at the time I did not have the tools to respect her in the correct way. I made a series of mistakes with her that to this day I regret with all of my soul.

It all began when one day I heard her involved in a debate on Judaism and decided to walk with her as she went home. Now mind you, this was before she knew me and it was during a time when I was quite a show off and really annoying. During this conversation I went into the “say what ever comes to your mind mode.” I made this mistake with her not just once, but several other times until the last time someone brought it to my attention that I was being offensive. After this was brought to my attention my eyes began to open and I finally realized that I had made a mistake. I went home feeling fear that the things I said were completely out of line, and that I made a very serious mistake.

A few weeks later when Yom Kippur was drawing near I saw Sha’ah at the synagogue and she mentioned that she wanted to speak to me. I immediately tried to apologize, but Sha’ah beat me to the punch. She brought up the things I had said and done and how disrespectful they were. I can say that I felt like was being punched left and right, and it was all justified. She ended with a statement that I will never forget, “For someone who tries to act so religious you sure are secular.” This was like a knock out punch and all I could do was respond that I was really sorry. She did not call me out based on hatred, but because I was not standing for the principles of Torah that I talked so much about.

Regret and Hurt

After we parted ways that day I was really depressed because everything she said was true. I was not living up to the lifestyle that I tried to paint in the public eye. It was also an issue where I had gotten so used to being a hypocrite and this caused me to look past my own faults. I walked home that day feeling like I wanted to die (more figuratively). I remember wishing I would be hit by the next uptown bus. It was as if the offensive words I had spoken had wings and they flew to and fro taunting me for I could not jump high enough and move fast enough to retrieve them. The damage had been done and as they say, “loose lips sink ships.” Well, in this situation the iceberg had already done its damage and the Titanic was on the bottom of the ocean.

I arrived home that day in a deep sense of self-pity over how I had acted and I felt like I had disrespected God and every generation before me. I lay in bed the rest of the day and that night feeling as If I was sick, but I was in perfect health. My room felt dark even though the sun light clearly shown through my window. I felt like my life was a prison and I was the greatest of fools that walked the earth. As night came the moonlight burned deep into my soul because I could not stand up the light. I cringed in fear feeling as if was unclothed and exposed for all to see to my very own shame.

I went through a deep state of depression over my mistake with Sha’ah for about week not knowing which way was right or left. I could not pull myself to look people in the eyes for it was as if my faults were on display. If life was a circus my faults were now at center stage to see. “Everyone step right up and see Ehav Ever the freak show fool who thinks he so holy. Look at how low he has sunk.” My faults were now on display for people to see and mock while their children threw peanuts at Ehav the sideshow freek. As the song by the Stylistics says, “Let the side show begin. Everybody step right on in. Can’t afford to pass it by, guaranteed to make you cry.”
“What is this? A heroic stand? You're the wrong guy for it. You'll be all alone in the spotlight. And guys like you can't stand up to that light. You'll burn up under it.”

Snake Eyes - Nicholas Cage and Gary Senisi
Shaking In Fear Before The King of All

Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) came and I remember sitting in synagogue shaking in fear. I felt as if at any moment I was going to be struck down by fire from the Heavens. I hid myself for the entire service within my tallit (prayer shawl) so that no one could see me. Even if they did not know what I had done it was as if they could see through me and my pain was real. The fasting that takes place on Yom Kippur was nothing to one who now stood before a King that I could not coerce or divert by using petty logic to slide away from my responsibility. There was no negotiationing and there was no feigning my responsibility. I messed up and I felt like I was going to pay dearly for it. At that time I was praying at an Ashkenazi synagogue and the liturgy echoed the pain that I felt over my faults and how distant I was from the person I thought I was. The Fear of Heaven was upon me, and nothing that anyone told me made me feel any better.

For about two months after Sha’ah had confronted me I hid in the shadows whenever she was in the same place as me. If she was somewhere with a balcony I would hide in the back of the balcony. If she came into a public area I would quickly move away into the less public areas. I also became distant from not just her, but other people as well. I was afraid of their eyes pearing through my soul and they would be able to see all of my mistakes. I would be exposed as someone who thought he was so religious, but instead I was a big fake. I began to think back over my life and I considered the fact that if I had disrespected her in this way more than likely I had been disrespecting other people in the same way. I never liked being wrong, because when I was a kid the bullies who would pick on me would wait for me to make mistakes and then make me pay for it. Mistakes also made it obvious that I at that time I was becoming a real two faced person, and I began to wish I had never been born.

With this realization I began to understand that I had a problem. I had a problem that I had never taken into account most of my life. So I began to take a long and hard journey back through my past and I analyzed all my dealings with people and I began to see a pattern. I saw a pattern of hypocrisy, loose conversation, disrespect of others, and a total lack of control in my conduct with others. It was then that the fear of Heaven fell upon me as I soon saw that Sha’ah was not the first person I had made these kind of mistakes with. During a phone conversation with an old friend who knew me during my Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity days, I mentioned the incident with Sha’ah to her. As I described to my friend my actions she mentioned that she, along with others, had noticed the same kind of issues with me going back several years. I was stunned and amazed and I fell to the floor in shock that I had walked in this mindset for so long and no one had called me out on it.
“Be a tail of lions, not a head of foxes. Seek the company of people who are spiritually and morally superior to you, even though you may feel inferior in their midst. Conversely, avoid those who are spiritually and morally inferior to you even if it makes you happy to appear outstanding in their midst.”

Minhath Shelomo: A Commentary on the The Book of Prayer of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, by Haham Dr. Solomon Gaon (edited by Gertrude Hirschler), Union of Sephardic Congregations, 1990, Page 159 (Taken from the Hirsch Siddur, P. 483)
Lost, But Can He Be Found?

I began to feel lost for a long while. It was like walking through the Sahara with no compass, no water, and most of all no company. These kind of conditions can do a lot to a man, especially when he at first thought he knew his way. What I thought was a compass was nothing more than my own fake sense of morality. What I thought was water was actually the hard liquer of overconfidence in my own logic. What I thought was an entire brood of compatriots were actually shadows of people I thought I was close to. When you are stranded in the desert because of your own folly, want and desire can turn to anger.

I became angry that no one had said anything to me about my behavior and no one thought to confront me as Sha’ah did. My anger at others then became redirected in the proper direction, and I became angry with myself. How dare I walk this long studying Torah and not have the basic concepts of respect mastered and proper personal conduct. I felt ashamed at this point and I mourned for the loss of so many good people in my life. People whose friendship I may have lost because of my own behavior and the fact that for most of them I would never have a chance to set things right.

Anger flowed through my veins and this became rage at the dark image of myself who I felt was laughing at me. As I looked in the mirror I saw a face that I didn’t recognize but it professed itself to be me. I saw a false perception of Ehav Ever delighting in the damage he had done. The worst part about it was this was not some other image or a demonic possession, this was the person who I was currently living to be. Yet, as rage took over my very being I found myself hating this false image of myself that took delight in my fall. I saw something else in the mirror of my soul and that was a brief glimpse of someone else. For a moment I saw the person who I should have been and that it was not too late for this person to shine through, yet something had to change and my priorities had to shift.

That is when the darker image of myself laughed and boldly stated, “What? You don’t like me……so what. This is who you are 100%. Are you disappointed with me? Well, what are you going to do about it?” It was then in my rage and anger against myself that I decided that I was going to change my life and overcome that dark image of myself. No matter what it took I was going to take charge of my life and defeat my inclination to do evil. So it was in anger that the real me stood up and punched the darker image of myself. I attacked the darker image with all my might, and all my fury. I attacked him for the time I pushed Jai out of my life in college, I gave an upper cut to this darker image for the time I made that little girl cry in the volunteer program because I taunted her in jest. I grabbed the darker image and threw him down for the time I made fun of Devin on the school bus. I then put the darker image in a head lock for the times I constantly picked on Sean in high school. I then kicked the darker image in the mouth and boldly stated, “Shut up. You are no longer in charge. I am taking over from here!” The darker image of myself cowered and ran away vowing to return when I least expected.

It was then that my soul yelled out for freedom and the real Ehav took my soul by the hand and pulled it out of the mud and the mire. As I pulled my soul out of the crevices I had forced it into so many years ago I felt an overwhelming sense as if God approved of this decision. I felt as if God had hidden certain parts of His light because in the state I was in I would burn up under that light. It was with this one action of acknowledging my faults that the clouds in my life parted and night faded. Then the sun rose on my life and its warmth was a delight to me, but I had a lot of work to do.

The Chance of a Lifetime to Change

So I began to really study the Tanakh (Hebrew bible) and I took stock in the proverbs and life lessons that it taught. I began to work on meditating on my thoughts before I spoke and with a short amount of time I found myself being more respectful to people. I cut my ties with elements of my life that prevented me from seeing clearly through the lenses of true spirituality. My focus became on matters of self-perfection and my devotion was to the love of the tender principles of discipline of mind. I called out to God in all of my imperfections and he heard me and answered in my times of needs. It was through this process that I began to love God even more and walking according to Torah was my desire day and night.

With each passing day I became a new man and I delighted in each area of progress. As I began to transform my life I was overwhelmed with a joy that I had never known before. Morality became my best friend and truth became my first love. Real knowledge grounded in humility was to me a home built on firm ground. When I next looked in the mirror I saw someone that I could be proad of. It was out of the fear of disrespecting God and my heritage that I began to fight for a better sense of self. I took my attack deep with the darkest recesses of my soul and I brought light to areas that been left in disrepair since my childhood. As I opened the windows of my heart to the light of Torah my entire soul began to rejoice. A new day began to dawn and I became a more complete man.

The Apology

Yet, there was still something else that had to be done. I needed to put to rest my mistake with Sha’ah and bring everything full circle. It had been a year since the time when Sha’ah confronted me and I knew that before Yom Kippur I needed to face her and officially ask for her forgiveness for my actions in the past. So I called Sha’ah and we met for coffee in midtown Manhattan. I began by explaining to her how I fallen from the path earlier in my life and how much I hated the person I had become. For much of the conversation it was difficult for me to look her in the eyes, because I had become so accustomed to never saying I was sorry. Yet, I told her that I wanted to thank her for confronting me and bringing these issues to light. I owed her a huge debt of gratitude and I was truly sorry for the things I said and did. I believe my exact words were.
"Sha'ah. I called you here tonight because I made a huge mistake a year ago with you. I said and did some things that have brought shame to everything I was supposed to stand for, and those who taught me everything I know. I am so sorry for everything I said and did a year ago. I thought for so long that I was living a certain way, but when you called me out I realized that I was far from the standard that a real man is supposed to live up to. I felt so bad for the past year because of my action, and I want to ask for your forgiveness. I am truly sorry."
Sha’ah accepted my apology and an enormous weight was lifted from my being.

The Sleeper Has Awakened

As we left the coffee shop Sha’ah said, “I just wanted you to know that I noticed a change in you and I am proud of you.” These words were truly uplifting and I quietly thanked her for her kind words. We both parted ways that night and I felt stronger about the direction my life had taken. At the same time I regretted that I couldn't start over with her and tell her that I liked her, but at least I now had the tools to face my darkest character traits and conquer them. I am the master of destiny because God created me with the ability to face my shortcomings. Thanks to a woman who was not afraid to speak truth when it needed to be heard I came one step closer to the real Ehav Ever.

“Live with a man 40 years. Share his house and meals speak on every subject. Then tie him up and hold him over the volcano’s edge and on that day you will finally meet the man.”

Joss Whedon's Serenity - Episode War Stories
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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Sleeper Must Awaken: The Black Jewish Question

When I first moved to New York I remember once being asked by someone, "What is it like to be Black and Jewish?" My answer to this person was, "It is like being invited to a VIP party and always getting the best seats." This person had a puzzled look on their face, while other people laughed when I said this. This has been my experience as a Jew of Sephardic, Senegalese, French, and African American ancestry.

I have heard stories of people who say they have had all kind of problems, but that has not been my experience. People who have read my other writings on this blog can easily understand why, because I grew up with a different view of the world than many people have. Maybe, what some people perceive as problems I see as obstacles that I willingly overcome. I enjoy life because God has given so much to me and has guided me and guarded me through a number of difficult situations.

So the other day I received an email from a young man in Ghana who is working to convert to Judaism. He asked me the following question about my new life in Israel.

Ghanian Man's Question:
"So how is life like out there in Israel. I am thinking of moving there soon but I have a feeling that I will be the odd one out. Yes, I could be mistaken for a Black Arab, Indian or Ethiopian when my hair is shaved but when it grows, thats where they see my African roots clearly. So how do you cope out there, do they see you as the different one or as a Jew."

Below is my response with pictures of me in Israel.

Ehav's Response:
In terms of your question about living in Israel. Personally, I like it here. It works for me, but it doesn't work for everyone. I know people who have moved here from America and had a hard time and they left. I also know people who have moved here and are doing okay. American women, for example, have a harder time here. As my teacher, Mori Yair Ben-Shalom once told me you have to pray you have to learn Torah and Halakhah (Jewish Law) in order to make it here. You also have to have a strong will, and be able to use logic to work through difficult situations.

If you are looking at moving here you definitely want to pray about that since it is not an easy place to live for anyone. Thanks to God I had a good job waiting for me before I came here. I also had family here, whom I live near. I am a part of the Yemenite Jewish community so everywhere I go where there are Yemenite Jews I am always welcome. So I have a community. It is hard to make it in Israel without a community. The more Hebrew you know before you come here the better. I would also suggest that you visit here before you make a decision to move here. That way you know if it is really for you. I came to Israel twice before I moved.

In terms of how people see me, I don't ever think about that. I speak Hebrew like an Israeli so I don't get any problems in that area. Also, I always carry myself with pride and if you do that people may not give you problems. I like to talk so when people do ask me questions I simply tell them about my family history and such. I come from a mixed family Sephardic Jews, Senegalese, French, of African American descent. If you are legally Jewish either through your mother or through conversion you are Jewish, and people aren't allowed to make you feel different. If they do you have to be confrontational with them and not back down. Once again though this may rest upon the fact that I have a community here so I don't need anyone to approve me for anything. Also, my mother taught me to walk with confidence so I don't have problems maybe because of that. So I feel accepted everywhere I go because I have met some really nice people, besides I like to argue so if someone started trouble I would argue with them.

I do know some African Americans who moved here and have said they have problems. Most of those people I think though are around the type of people who talk bad about other Israelis such as Yemenite Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Moroccan Jews, etc.. Also, some people don't have good jobs so it makes it so they depend on others more. The biggest thing is to make sure you have the ability to acquire a job that will pay well and allow you to advance. Without this it will be really hard to make it here.

In the end the only way one can make it here is in Israel is with the help of God. I have seen how my moving here how God has helped in situations, and ways that didn't have any human explanation. I have also been able to accomplish things within a few weeks that most new immagrants to Israel don't accomplish after months of being here.
  • Most people do a pilot trip to Israel to decide where they want to live and such before they move.
  • Most people don't move here with a job. Most people save up money for years then they move, and normally don't start looking for work until about 6 to 9 months after they move here.
  • Most people don't find an apartment that quickly. My cousins here looked at 15 apartments before they found the one they wanted.
With me the situation was completely different.
  • With me, I found a job before I came.
  • I didn't have a lot of money saved since I originally didn't plan on moving for another 5 years.
  • My job offered me a car and to pay for gas.
  • I found an apartment in about three weeks, and I moved in after only being here four weeks.
  • I was already a part of a community before I came here since I pray with the Yemenite Jews.
All in all if God guides, protects you, and has mercy on you many things can work out in ways that aren't normal. That has been my experience.

Ehav's Basic Rule #1: Stick with the Yemenite Jews they take care of you!
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Monday, September 3, 2007

The Sleeper Must Awaken: Making Inroads

If you haven't already before reading this post read the Introduction. Reading the introduction will help explain this piece a bit.

When I was a junior in high school my mother decided that I should try and be accepted in a program called Inroads. The mission of Inroads is to develop and place talented minority youth in business and industry and prepare them for corporate and community leadership.

Me (Ehav Ever) as a teenager

The following excerpt is from the Inroads web-site.

*****Beginning of Excerpt*****
It's no secret that for years, people of color -- Blacks, Hispanic/Latinos, and Native American Indians -- were noticeably absent from the ranks of corporate North America. By June of 1970, it was time to make a change.

It was at that time that Frank C. Carr, our late founder, planted the seeds for what INROADS has become today. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s landmark "I Have a Dream" speech, Frank quit his executive level corporate day job and committed to taking swift and decisive action to increase ethnically diverse employees in corporate management in the U.S., and to help change the way these candidates gained entry into the business world.

Moonlighting evenings as a computer tape disk operator, Frank spent his days creating INROADS by calling in favors from his former corporate colleagues and setting out to cultivate new partnerships. The mission -- to develop and place talented minority youth in business and industry and prepare them for corporate and community leadership.

Frank launched INROADS in his hometown of Chicago with just 25 college student interns and 17 sponsoring corporations. Today, INROADS is an international organization with more than 50 offices serving more than 5,000 Interns at over 600 companies.

In Kansas City there were a number of companies that were involved in the Inroads program. Inroads had a number of standards in order to get the best and the brightest.

An applicant for the National College Component of Inroads must:
  • Be a full time student.
  • Have a career interest in Business, Engineering, Computers and Information Sciences, Sales, Marketing, Allied Health Care, or Health-care Management.
  • Freshman or Sophomore in an accredited college or university.
  • College 2.8 Cumulative GPA (Grade Point Average).
  • Be a high school senior applying or already admitted to an accredited college or university.
  • Have a high school 3.0 cumulative GPA.
*****End of Excerpt*****

At the time I didn’t meet many of the educational standards and I couldn’t figure out why my mother wanted me to apply. The particular program that she was pushing me to apply for was a summer session where students would train with Inroads throughout the summer. I of course didn’t want to have anything to do with a program where I could not enjoy my summer. Lets face it you are only young once and summers are what define one’s youth. I didn’t want to sacrifice my enjoyment for anything that was going to like going to school and to me the Inroads program sounded like I would be going to school. Yet, as with a number of things in life my mother made me go. A friend of mine Asahn came along with us so that he could also apply for the program.

In order to get into the program there were two interviews that a person had to get into. I went through the first interview and all can say is that it didn’t seem like it was going well especially when the issue of my grades came up. At that time I had a 2.5 GPA out of a 4.0 GPA system, which to tell you the truth was not good at all. I was passed over to interview further with a woman named Ms. Tucker. I think only reason they didn’t reject me upfront was because I had a lot of community service work that I had been involved in. As Ms. Tucker looked at my application my grades at the time became the central focus. She really grilled me on my grades, and rightfully so. As she questioned me I found myself getting on the defensive more and more. I didn’t like the fact that I was being questioned about an interest that I didn’t have. That is to say I wasn’t interested in being in Inroads, yet I felt like I was on trial. As the interview came to its conclusion the last thing Ms. Tucker said to me was, “All I can tell you is with grades like this you will never be an engineer.”

It was as if that statement and that moment was frozen in time and that moment has been imprinted on my mind since I heard those words. I didn’t even want to be there and I received the roasting of a lifetime. I went home angry that I even had to waste my time with such a thing, and needless to say I was rejected for the summer program. Part of me really didn’t care about the rejection, after all I didn’t want to go there in the first place. I only went because my mother made me. My friend Asahn was accepted into the program and life should have gone on for the better, right? Yet, Ms. Tucker’s words stayed in my mind, and the statement “with grades like this you will never be an engineer” echoed in my thoughts. Even as time passed and thoughts of other matters came and went, her words remained as if they had been chiseled into my brain never to be forgotten. Those words loomed over me like some transparent, yet tangible force that I could never be rid of. When I turned I could see nothing over my should, but as I faced forward again it as if I could hear a whisper saying:

“With grades like this you will never be an engineer.”

For days I couldn’t stop thinking about her words and the more I thought about them the angrier I became. “With grades like this you will never be an engineer.” It was as if I was playing my favorite CD and then a song I didn’t like came on and was stuck in loop back. No matter how much I tried to fast forward I was stuck listening to a song that I don’t like and then I couldn’t get it out of your head.

“With grades like this you will never be an engineer.”

With each passing day I found myself not enjoying life like I did before Inroads. “With grades like this you will never be an engineer.” Food had no taste, sweat candy was sour, and summer was like winter. As those fateful words continued to haunt me I felt fury take over as I became engulfed in the fact that I couldn’t forget those words. “With grades like this you will never be an engineer.” Now logic should have kicked in at this point and simply made a case that this woman didn’t know you and your good deeds are what really matter. “With grades like this you will never be an engineer.” Yet, logic never made such a case and I didn’t feel right. The only way to describe it is like being on the verge of being sick, yet feeling healthy.

“With grades like this you will never be an engineer!”

Now mind you I was not angry with Ms. Tucker, but I was angry at the reality that I was allowing myself to be in. It was my fault that my grades were not as good as they could have been. After all I was the one who had procrastinated or simply did not study. I was the one who knew more about my comic books than about my schoolbooks. It was I who would simply lie about my grades instead of doing what was required of me. It was I who was walking all over my mother’s accomplishments after she faced great adversity to receive a good education and used that education to rise to the top of the Social Security Administration. In the 1970’s she faced racism and sexism yet she still made a brighter future for herself. What was my excuse, I couldn’t think of one. Worst of all it was I who was disgracing the memory of my father who was a scholar. The blame could only be placed in my hands and as I sat there thinking about it I became angry that I couldn’t get Ms. Tucker’s words out of my mind.

“With grades like this you will never be an engineer!”

So I stood up at that moment and said, Enough! I will show her, no I will show all of them.” It was then that I picked up my pride and my books and began to study. I began to study math with a passion, master science as if I invented it, and face my education with the concept that I could be smarter than I was choosing to be. At that point B’s became A’s, C’s became B’s, and D’s disappeared from my grade card. My semester GPA’s went from being 2.5 to 3.3 and 3.5. I began mastering math and even went on to tutor some of my fellow students. It was through my own anger with myself that I realized my potential and refused to settle for something less than I was.

When my senior year came my mother again tried to get me into the Inroads program. This time there was no summer program, there was simply the Inroads interviews and if chosen interviews with the companies. I had about 4 interviews on the day of the corporate meetings and most of them went well. Yet, there was one that went the best of them all and that was with a man named Gary Gray from MCI. I had made sure to get some information before hand about videophones since I had heard about the budding technology in a 1993 magazine and I brought up the topic during my interview. I also talked about my experience with an AT&T program where I built a battery charger and how it convinced me I wanted to be an engineer. After the interview Gary I saw him in the hallway speaking to another man and looking in my direction. They called over one of the workers from Inroads and there were further conversations. After she spoke to them she came to me and said that they men from MCI wanted to talk to me. As I went out to meet them, Gary introduced me to one of his co-workers and they offered me an internship right on the spot. I accepted and I was the first of the high school seniors to get a job that day.

A few months afterward when I was interning for MCI, Inroads had a training retreat at a resort near Branson, Missouri. During the retreat I ended up finding the bar at the resort and I went in and started talking to the bartender and the musician for the bar. I had been interested in music for a few years and I saw all the musical equipment and was enthralled. The head musician took me over to his equipment and he showed the ropes. At the bar I order several drinks that were without alcohol because I was only 18 at the time. One of the college interns for Inroads who I only remember only as Ms. Brown happened to pass by and saw me sitting at the bar drinking. She thought I was in the bar drinking alcohol, which of course would have been a big no no for an 18 intern. I quickly showed her that I was not drinking and I left the bar with her. Ms. Brown attended a university in St. Louis and was in Kansas City interning with Inroads. Ms. Brown was beautiful, about 5’6, dark complexion witty personality, very nice and I have to admit that I had a bit of a crush on her. I had established a bit of a connection with Ms. Brown before hand so as we left the bar I started talking at length about various subjects, as I often did back then. At some point in the conversation by chance I made mentions about my first interview with Inroads and what Ms. Tucker told me. “With grades like this you will never be an engineer.” I guess the way that it came off it seemed as if I was still bitter about what she told me, and maybe on some level I was. I could have been that I also stated something to the effect, “I showed her [speaking of Ms. Tucker] I showed them all” while defiantly waving my fist in the air.
Time went on, as time does, and my internship with MCI was over for the summer. I began my freshman year of college and my GPA for that first year was a 3.4 in the Banneker Honors College at Prairie View A&M University. It was a requirement that we call Inroads several times each month to keep them posted of our scholastic and personal progress. One day out of the scheduled call I received a message from Ms. Tucker to call her immediately. I couldn’t figure out what it was about so I called her back. When we spoke she mentioned that she had been told about my statements concerning my first interview with her when she told me that I would not be an engineer with the grades that I had.

You could imagine that this came as a shock to me since at this point I had forgotten about that whole incident. After all I was in college doing well, I had already worked my first internship with MCI after my graduation from high school in 1993, and I hadn’t talked to anyone about that incident except to Ms. Brown a full 5 months earlier. I felt a little betrayed since I figured it was Ms. Brown who told Ms. Tucker about my statements. Ms. Tucker explained that she did not remember saying what she said to me, but if she did she was really sorry. I told her that it was no big deal and that if she hadn’t have said what she did I may not have gotten so mad and started studying. After my conversation with Ms. Tucker I spoke to Ms. Brown and she hoped that I wasn’t angry with her. She said that she felt that I was still holding onto some anger and animosity towards Ms. Tucker.

Thinking about that whole incident got me to realize some things about myself. As I look back and see how sometimes my anger has worked to my advantage I can see the importance of it. When I focused my anger on my faults and conquered that part of myself who chooses not to be successful I was more alive than I was before. If it wasn’t for my mother making me go to those Inroads interviews and Ms. Tucker speaking the truth about my academic performance I don’t know where I would be right now. Thanks to my mother and Inroads I had a chance to grow and awaken from my educational slumber.
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