Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Week of Positive Blogging: Update

Well, I have spent several days contacting every blogger I could find and wow there has been a lot of positive feedback about next week A Week of Positive Blogging. So for now I am going to stop finding new blogs to contact and let the word of mouth do its own job. Next week is going to be really interesting.

I started working on on my posts for the first four days. Some of them I already have from a book I began writing in 2006. I am trying to edit Day 1 since at the moment in Microsoft Word it is 13 pages. I know what you are saying, but originally it was 19, and it just seems like every part of it is important to the story. It is so hard for me to edit myself, but I want to make sure I have something that is not so long people won't read it all. So this is my mission for this week.

As mentioned before there is no requirement to write for each day. I completely understand that people have busy schedules. Whether you write for one of the days or all of them you have still accomplished the goal. Also, you don't have to join Facebook to participate.

The Facebook group was started by our French contingent and it has helped spread the word on Facebook.

Because the postings are going to be on your blog you can work the week as you like. As mentioned before I am looking forward to cruising around and seeing everyone's posts next week. I will put out a reminder on Thursday or Friday.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Positive Blogging Week: On Facebook

I am really getting excited about Positive Blogging Week coming up. The only way I can express how exciting I am is in this video.

Or maybe I am just plain Howard Dean excited.

In any case this is really going international and I can't wait to see what happens with it.

There has been a lot good interest in it, and I am so happy that so many people are helping out. Thanks to Herve Kabla we now have a Facebook group to connect everyone who is involved. For those who want to participate please go to Facebook and join.

A Week of Positive Blogging Facebook Group

For all of those who asked, yes I will send out reminders a few days before.
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Friday, October 26, 2007

A Week of Positive Blogging the Logo

I came up with a logo. Let me know what you guys think. If you have a better let me know. You can all start using it as soon as possible. Link the title back to A Week of Positive Blogging.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Week of Positive Blogging

As I mentioned in the previous post, We Could Be Heroes, I was recently inspired with an idea of a week of positive blogging. I am still working out the idea, but here are the bare bones of the idea. As I decide on my precise details I will make another post, or this may serve as the initial inspiration.

The Rules:

The week I have chosen is Nov. 4th to Nov. 10th 2007. This gives a full week to come up with ideas. Also, spread the word and get people involved. Start preparing stories for your blog to start posting on Nov. 4th. You can post as many as you like. I have put a section on my site for a list of the bloggers who are taking part. Once the week is up I will create a link list of the stories of all who took part.

You can participate for as few or as many days as you like. Just read all the instructions below so we are all on the same page, so to speak.

Be imaginative, creative, and thoughtful with your posts. Use whatever theme makes your blog special. Your angle is what is important when considering the topics below.

The purpose is to show the world that good things are happening all around us even while bad things are happening. There is also the idea that each of us has a role on this earth, and each of can do something to change the world. Pictures, videos, etc. that help tell a story are good. You have complete freedom to write about what you like.

Needs: A Week of Positive Blogging Logo

Use this logo on your blog during the week at the top of every post that you do for the week.

You can link back to this article.

Below is the schedule and topic for you to discuss.

The Schedule:

Nov. 4th 2007 (Sunday)

Post with discussions of your positive memories, writings, thoughts, and images that you have come across in your life. It could be a place, it could be a photo, it could be a film, it could be anything.

Nov. 5th 2007 (Monday)

Posts about a person who inspired you to excel in life or who actually saved your life.

Nov. 6th 2007 (Tuesday)

Post about some good news that has taken place in your city, community, etc. that has happened in the last 3 months?

Nov. 7th 2007 (Wednesday)

If you had 3 months with which to spend $ 30 Million in order to change the world what would you do?

Nov. 8th 2007 (Thursday)

Discuss a time in your life when you helped someone or saved someone's life.

Nov. 9th 2007 (Friday)

Before you take your last breath in life, what words of wisdom would you want to impart to the next generation.

Nov. 10th 2007 (Saturday)

After blogging about positive things for a week, what affect has it had on you and your life? What blogs that took part did you find the most inspiring? What do you plan to do to inspire the world going forward?

If you are interested in taking part please leave a message at this post and I will add you to a list of bloggers who want to take part.

Thanks to Herve Kabla we now have a Facebook group to connect everyone who is involved. For those who want to participate please go to Facebook and join.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We Could Be Heroes i.e. Repairing the World

The next group of posts were inspired by fellow blogger Miss Duex Cents. She brought up a really good set of points in her blog post called Self Fulfilling Prophecy. This post was also inspired by the postings of David McQueen in England. Thanks to you both for helping me remember why I started my blog.

I remember what it was like to grow up in a community that had positive images. It was made up of various segments of African and African American culture with different religious contexts. I also remember what it was like to have to leave that community, because some negative elements had infiltrated it. I also remember what it was like to try and go back to that community years later to find that it no longer existed. I was taught something as a teenager when I saw the community that I loved disappear. I was taught a lesson in how temporary some situations can be, an how fluid a person has to be.

Before I moved to Israel I went back one more time, just to see if there was anything left. It was completely gone and the neighborhood took a turn for the very worst. My hope when I moved to Israel was to find it again, and to fight for it if it begins to fade. Being in my ancestral home of Israel I have found it, but what I see now is that I am going to have to fight one battle at a time, but that is what I am here for. When I made the decision that I was going to move to Israel there were dreams that I had to put away and I had to become an example. I am still working that out, but it is my hope that something I say or do can a part of helping someone. This also meant that I had to move to a community and be connected. It also meant that at work, at play, and at home I had to be willing to stand for something. That of course is where the morality comes in.

What I remember being the difference about my childhood was there were people who were willing to not only talk the talk, but to walk the walk. They were willing to be the people who put their dreams on hold in order to inspire those of us from the younger generation. I remember people who gave up things that they wanted to do and places that they wanted see in order to inspire people. Yet, there was something that made these people different. All of them had a clear definition of morality as well as a clear vision of how to help people by inspiring hope. These men and women knew that they could force someone to make the right decision. They also knew that at some point the extended hand of assistance must be retracted when people do not desire to be helped. They also understood their own mortality and that if they could inspire at least one person they could be a part of what saves the world.

I didn't grow in a place without hope. I grew up in a place where people who faced hopeless situations fought back, no matter the cost and made sure to be that ladder for the next generation. If they could not themselves make it they would guarantee that the next generation would. They did not just live for themselves, they lived for others.

There is a Jewish concept from the Talmud which states, "When a person saves a life it is like they have saved an entire universe." This brings me back to a movie that inspired me called Pay It Forward. The movie dealt with the issue of can a person really make a change in the world when what they do seems to insignicant. This movie was based on the principle that if one person can save someone's life they that person in turn may also return the favor by helping someone else. I am a believer that every person who helps someone or saves someone's life is a hero. If this is the case we could all be heroes. We could all change the world. We may not be able to fix it, I believe that only God do that on some levels, but we could be the ones to light a spark the darkest of night. We could be legends to those who we help, and there could be odes to us without us even knowing it.

Spiderman 2: A Hero In All of Us

I have dealt with some of the issues I see in the world, I have dealt with my own problems with love, and I have dealt with the funny parts of my life. Now I will do a few articles about the good in the world, and in particular the people who stepped into the void and saved my life. I also think that maybe other bloggers should jump on board. Maybe we need a day, no better yet a week of blogging about the positive aspects of:
  1. Who we are.
  2. Where we live.
  3. Those in our communities who inspire hope.
This idea is dedicated to the men and women who beleived enough to not give up on me, even when I didn't believe in anything of worth. Many of them may never know how they affected me and how their example made them heroes and legends to me. One day when I have children they will know the names of the men and women who gave up a peace of their own dreams so that I can reach a peice of my own.

With that being said, who is with me?
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Memories of Pledging: A Phi Beta Sigma Story

I have a number of funny pledging stories from my experience and the experience of others. As some of you know I was once a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. I pledged Sigma during the Fall 1996 semester at the Dangerous Delta Theta Chapter at Prairie View A&M University. I stopped being involved in Sigma around 2002 to 2003 when I decided I wanted to be religious. As a returning Jew, I chose not to stay involved in Sigma for complex reasons that I will discuss another day.

Pictures of my time as a Sigma can be found here. I have only a few there at the moment, but I will add more later this week.

One semester I went to visit some of my fraternity brothers at a nearby Texas college. I liked hanging out that chapter because they were down to earth and studious. So I stopped by my fraternity brother Jason's apartment and we sat around talking. All of a sudden a group of guys I didn't know walked in, followed a few minutes later by another of group of guys. When they saw that I was wearing a Sigma shirt they looked down towards the floor and went into another room. I asked Jason, Hey what was that about? Jason said, Oh nothing. So with a puzzled look I kept talking. Then more members of Sigma came in and we said our hellos. Then the group of guys I didn't know came out wearing T-Shirts and jeans i.e. the classic sign that they were pledges. They then lined up from shortest to tallest. I turned to Jason and said, "I didn't know you guys were pledging guys this semsester." Jason told me that they wanted to keep it secret, but because they knew they could trust me they didn't mind me being there.

For those of you who have never pledged there are some elements of it that you must be brought up to speed on. Pledging an African American fraternity intells acts of lining up similar to a military unit. There is also a situation where if one pledge doesn't know something none of them should know it. If one pledge knows something they should all know it. Often the pledge process invovles the pledges taking orders, doing silly things, and reciting history. In many cases pledging intells paddling pledges for mistakes and many times paddling for no reason at all. I went through this type of pledging when I joined Sigma, and I vowed to never paddle anyone when I had an opportunity to pledge someone. I came through not feeling close to only a few of my line brothers, and not wanting to be to close to the guys who were there just to paddle us.

So back to this group of pledges and what was funny about them. The good thing for them was that the Sigmas at that school did not paddle people. They of course did the funny stuff and the history quizzing, but no paddling so I knew I was going to enjoy this. The first thing was to introduce myself to the pledges. When this is done the pledges have to create a greeting for each other the members. The better the greeting the more that member will leave you alone. So they had 5 minutes to come up with a greeting for me. The greeting they came up with for me was really bad. So as punishment I made them do something silly. I made them come up with a Kung Fu TV show that was dubbed. I also wanted commericals and they had 10 minutes to do it. They went into another room and they came up with a funny and original Kung Fu movie conrcerning stolen rice cakes. One guy in the background did all the voices while the others acted out parts while lipsyncing off que, as a laugh to the bad dubbing of many Kung Fu movies. There was even a bird and a squirell in their TV show. At one point of the pledges amazed us all by doing a sliding leg sweep similar to Sub Zero in the Mortal Combat video game.

They did a funny Got Milk commercial. It went something like this.

One of them pledges stood there saying:
My wife left me. My dog was run over by a speeding car. I got laid off at my job, and now I am hooked on drugs.

One of the other members came from behind him and said, "Got Milk?"
They also had a thing where whenever they were pushed in the stomach they had to say something funny. All I remember was the following.

Number 2 - He was half Chinese and Half African American. He had to step out and declare: "You killed my family and the whooooooole Shaolin Temple. Now you must die" He then had to give a Karate punch and say "Haii yaha!"

Number 4 - He had to turn to number 2 and say thef following from the Color Purple. "I loooooovesssss Harpo. Lord knows I do. But if beats me one more time I kill him dead." The way that he did this was so funny because he put so much emotion into it. I kept wanting to see him do it, because we would all laugh. The only thing was that the pledges were not allowed to laugh. Everytime Number 4 had to do this the Number 2 did everything in his power to not laugh, but he couldn't help it. He kept getting in trouble for laughing. One time Number 2 knew the Color Purpble quote was coming and he had a look on his face like, "Oh no not again."

They also had to imitate a Jerry Springer episode, which basically meant that after 1 minute of talking there was always a fight. Besides this I made them recite fraternity history while doing push ups, situps, aerobics, and while playing patti cake. (Trust me it was funny to me.) I also made them recite personal information about their line brothers, and they got in trouble when they didn't know who their brothers were or about their fellow line brother's family.

Before the end of the night they came up with a really good greeting for me. After they became members of Sigma I asked them what they thought about me that night. They all agreed that they wished I would go back to where I came from because they were tired of all of the stupid stuff I kept coming with. We all had a good laugh about it though. I felt good that they at least had a better experience than I did when I pledged.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Short and Funny Mistakes

Whip It

Once I got in trouble for bringing a whip to school. I was a big Indiana Jones fan and when I visited Texas one summer I was able to buy myself a whip. So one day I decided to live my life just like Indiana Jones by taking my whip to school with me. During that time my mother would drop me off at a local community center and they in turn would drop me off at school. They would then at the end of the day pick me up and take me back to the community center. In the summers we would stay there during the day. So at the community center when were playing I decided to pull out my whip and show it off.

I began to whip it like John Ballushi at the end of the song. Of course a counselor grabbed me and took me to the main office. They called my stepfather who was a recruiter for the Marines at the time (He was a Gunny Sargent). I remember him having to come and get me and the whip while he was in uniform. I don't remember much after that.

Wrong Call Wrong Time
I once dated a girl in high school who lived in Kansas City, Kansas and I lived in Raytown, Missouri. For those who don't know Kansas City exists in Missouri and Kansas. Half of the city, the good part, is in Missouri and the other part is in Kansas. They are separated by a street called State Line. One night she told me call her back at 3:00 a.m. I asked her if that would be problem, she said no. So I called her back at 3:00 A.M. and her father answered the phone. Before I could say a word he asked, "Have you lost your %$& mind?" With a trembling voice I said, "No sir, I don't think so." He said, "Don't you ever call this number again at this time you understand me?" I tried to say, "Yes sir. I'm sorry sir," but he hung up on me before I could. The girl had gone to sleep at 1:00 A.M.

You are Tripping, Literally
When I lived in Manhattan I liked to walk to places I needed to go to in order to get exercise and also because walking helped me think. I often saw myself as different from everyone else and I walked like it. Once I was walking on a sidewalk, where most of the people were walking in the opposite direction. I noticed a square piece of foam on the ground, and with my right foot I stepped over it. Yet, when I moved my left foot to go over it somehow it got caught on the foam in a way to where the foam stuck to the sidewalk. This in turn caused me to fall forward. Out of instinct my hands went out to try and grab onto something to gain my balance. The only thing that was near by was one of the people going in the other direction. As I fell, in what seemed like slow motion my hands went out to a guy going the other direction. He saw me reaching and falling and he kindly moved out of the way of my hands.

I fell on the ground, but I was able to prevent myself from falling on my face. In true New York fashion people looked at me like I was strange for falling and in true New York fashion I got up and kept walking as if nothing had happened.

Your Sarcastic Mouth
This one took place while I was in high school. I was walking around Bannister Mall, a now defunct mall in Kansas City, MO with a friend. It was a two floor mall with the 2nd floor being open so that people could see each other and speak to each other on from one floor to the other. As we were walking I saw a girl that I knew from a youth organization I was involved in. She went to one of the local Catholic schools, and in Kansas City girls who went to Catholic had a reputation of sorts, if you know what I mean. I saw her and a friend of hers walking around the mall wearing what I can only sum up as some kind of spandex cat suit. It was overly tight and extremely revealing.

So me the sarcastic person I was back then, I started talking load about it. I know I said something like. "Hey what are you wearing. Leave some of that to yourself. Does your mother know you are walking around the mall dressed like that?" I always made quips at her so she just turned and walked away. I was going to turn and walk away myself until I heard a voice from above yell out, "Young man! Young man!" My friend and I looked around trying to figure where this voice was coming from. The voice then said, "Up here!" We looked up to see a woman looking down at us. She then angrily yelled. "Young man. Do you think it was right for you to say what you said to my daughter?" This situation had caught me off guard so I didn't have my normal type of sarcastic answer. I responded, "Uhh. Maybe not." She then replied with, "So don't you think you owe me and my daughter an apology?" I said, "I don't know. Maybe. I'm sorry?" I then looked at my friend and we pretty much walked off. Looking back it was wrong for me to say what I said to the girl, no matter how she was dressed. Yet, it was funny that her mother appeared out of no where.

By the way, this video has nothing to do with the stories above, but I find it funny.

More funny stories to come.‎ Read Entire Post!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Bald Phase

Ehav circa 1993 High School Graduation

Between 1993 and 1998 I attended Prairie A&M University, which is about 40 miles Northwest of Houston, TX. While at Prairie View I went through a critical stage in life that most non-rich college students go through. That stage was concerning should I pay for a hair cut, or should I find the closest way to free to maintain neatly kept hair. Like most male students I went through the motions of finding people in the dorms who cut hair, and for a while I was able to get a descent hair cut. That all changed when all the people who were good at cutting hair either moved off campus or I could never get my schedule and theirs to meet. Also, I made the mistake of spending all my money the first semester of college, and had to deal with the concept of being frugal.

So that is when I made a decision. It was time to save money and cut out the middle man by going bald. So I cut my hair bald, and kept my goat-tee. This should have been easy enough. I bought some clippers and simply cut until I fealt clean scalp. Yet, life is not always that easy and sometimes the best intentions can still have their problems. My problem was two fold. One, I am blind in my left eye from a childhood bebe gun accident. (Another story for another day) Second, no matter how sharp your clippers there are areas of the human scalp that simply refuse to give up on the hair. I would cut, cut, and cut and just when I thought I got it all I still fealt hair. Especially, in the cow lick area of the back of my head. It got to the point where even going bald was getting frustating, and being a freshmen new to the ways of baldness I came up with a measure that was sure to get the hair off. This was a job for Nair.

For those of you who don't know Nair is a hair removal product manufactured by Church & Dwight Co., Inc.. The brand name is a possible portmanteau of the words “No” and “Hair.” Its pronunciation is the same as that of “Hair”. This hair removal is a popular product due to the fact that it does not require the user to shave, wax or rip off hair. When the user applies it on, the product kills the roots of the hair causing it to fall out.

Unlike today in 1993 there was no Nair For Men like today that could be used for men trying to get their scalps as bald as possible. Unlike now the technology was not there, and the science of desire baldness for men was not so advanced. The ladies though had it made since there were all kind of products for them to get rid of unwanted leg hair, but nothing for the honest hard working man (or college student) who simply wanted a bald head. (Ladies I am only joking)

So I was stuck in a conundrum. I wanted to save money and I wanted to be bald, so how could I accomplish these two goals? That is when a friend claimed he used Nair to deal with his "hair growing" problem. He was like the king of bald men and I wanted to live in that kingdom because the women on campus loved completely bald men. I would walk around campus and see women adoring bold headed men, and bald headed men walking with a pride that I could not have because I still had hair. I too wanted to partake in the new found popularity that bald ,dark and brown toned African American men were taking part in. Especially since the demise of the light skinned guy craze of the late 80's and early 90's. I had started working out that year and the combination would have been flawless and it could it be that a product made for women's legs was the solution to my cry for help? So I did it. I went to Walmart under the viel of night with sunglasss, and a big hat to buy some nair.

Ehav The Bald Jet setter circa 1997

The next day I woke up early with the hopes and dreams of a man who was tired of paying for hair cuts, shaving, and cutting only to have the hair start growing back within a day or two. So that morning I cut my hair as short as a I could, and then I got the Nair ready. I completed the whole process and what do you know I was bald. I mean I was really bald. Finally, I could beat the hair game and become like so many other men who were bold and being loved by those who needed reflected light. Now I could simply walk out the door and reflect the light of the sun to all who needed it. And for about two days all was good across the land stride.

Yet, I did not read the directions on the Nair bottle about not putting Nair on sensative areas, such as the scalp. I also did not think about the affect of cutting my hair and putting Nair on my scalp ten minutes later. That is when the Gremlins of baldness appeared one night and began to wreck havoc on my glorious baldness. It all began on a Wednesday. I woke up to a funny tingly feeling on my scalp. I touched it only to have all the pain receptors on my scalp burning. Also, it was as if I could feel every hair growing bit by bit.

The worst part was when I went outside and the wind blew. I almost passed out from the pain of the wind blowing on or across my now charred scalp. I fell to my knees and yelled out, "Oh cruel fate why has this evil befallen the likes of meeeeee!" I tore my shirt in sorrow, I wore sack cloth, and I threw the dust of the earth on my head.

Okay I didn't really do all that, but if I had sackcloth and if the dust hitting my head didn't hurt I could have. Okay no I wouldn't. I searched in vain for the guy who had told me about using Nair on my scalp. Yet, he was no where to be found. That is when the questions arose. Did someone actually tell me that, or did I come up with it? Will my scalp always hurt this way, or will the pain go away? Do have a test in Chemistry lab today, and is there something I can come up with to fix this?

Ehav The Bald in New Orleans circa 1996

So for a few days I tried to cover my head as best I could when the wind blew. Yet, wearing a hat still hurt my head. I also had a hard time sleeping since as each hair grew back I could feel it. It took about 2 weeks for the pain to go away. That is when I took that bottle of Nair and threw it to the wolves. They kindly threw it back at me as if they already knew of the pain of misusing Nair. I learned an important lesson that day. Sometimes the ends don't justify the means. Sometimes fate is a cruel mistress and the gods of baldness must be appeased. Okay, neither of those is really it. The real lesson was read the instructions before you do anything in life, and if you really have to be bald stick to the clippers and a good hat.

Ehav Ever after he officially stopped the bald phase

Thank God I eventually just decided to grow my hair again, and use natural hair products.
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Everbody Likes Kung Fu Fighting

When I was a kid some of friends were taking martial arts or boxing. We used to have martial arts and boxing matches at home. Whenever we would play it would look exactly like this.

Siunin Wong Fei-hung tsi titmalau - Iron Monkey (1993)

Maybe not exactly, we did more flying and we spoke less Cantonese. I remember one kid named Ron Bailey who would always talk about how tough he was and how he could beat anyone. Then when when we would spare he would always be the first to cry. All we had to do was pretty much take him down to the floor and sit on him. He would then cry out, "I can't breath! I can't breath!" My favorite move was like the Shaolin Monk's in this video the Wonder Palm of Shaolin. My move of course was not from Shaolin so it was more like the Wonder Palm of 73rd Street and Norton.

Back then USA channel used to play Kung Fu theatre on Sundays. We loved watching how weird the dubbing was in those movies. It seemed like they always had the same people doing the voices for the dubbing, and there was a lot of posturing and talking in the film before and during a fight.
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Things That Make Me Laugh & Think

I am going to take a break from serious topics for a little while. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to laugh. That is one of the reasons I love living here in Israel. There is another thing I like, and that is cartoons. I know, I know..I am a grown man, but the old school cartoons are so funny to me. It is also funny looking back at the things I never saw in these cartoons, or the things I never understood about them when I was a kid. Here are a few examples.

The Sheep Dog and Wolf: Don't Give Up the Sheep

This is an abject lesson about trying the same type of things over and over with little or no results. So many times in life some people face their needs and wants with an irrational method of trail and error. Instead of trying to determine what it may cost to accomplish a goal they often go in with have baked plans that end in the same result.

Pepe Le Pew: Whose Scent Are You

I didn't realize until I was older that Pepe Le Pew was a stalker. I loved his lines, and I always envisioned myself using them in jest when I get married. What is also funny, is since I spoke French at school as a kid the way they embellish the French in these cartoons is so funny. My favorite line in this cartoon is Le What!

Looney Toons: Rabbit Season

Maybe there is no other lesson better than the problems that arise from being an instigator. It also shows the importance of knowing exactly what it is you really are looking for.

So what do you think?
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Friday, October 12, 2007

The Fro-Curl circa 1985?

If you haven't read my previous post about the Jherry curl read it here. Since Tr8ergirl found the far off photo on my blog of when I had a Fro-Curl as promised here is a picture of me with a Fro-Curl as a kid. Besides my pictures from when I was in Japan, I don't have anymore pictures from that time.

Before you begin laughing at the glasses, I must say that I am near sighted and back then the technology for glasses and contacts wasn't as advanced as it is now. Kids used to always make fun of how thick my glasses were, and old people used to like pinching my cheeks.

Ehav Ever circa 1985 or so

Remember my cousin Melerick who I mentioned in the previous post? He was the one who actually executed the plan to cut off my hair. This is him below standing next to my aunt at my college graduation. Just look at his eyes, doesn't he just look sneaky? I guess I should be thanking him at this point. (smile) He now is a manager at Micro-Soft.

My cousin Melerick the one behind the demise of the Fro-Curl
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Great Moments in Black History?

For those who don't know October in England is United Kingdom Black History month, not like a month is really good enough. I know that you are probably wondering why I am talking about it since I live in Israel. Hmmm, ugh...Okay I admit the only answer I have is that I have some family in London. The following is a great moments in Black History from USA.

Fooled You! The real name of this post is RIP To the Jherry Curl also known in certain dialects of French-Creole as the Le-Curl Jerry. It is the first of a number of post about the funny parts of my life.

Okay I admit it the Jerry Curl and its wicked step son the S-Curl were not a great moment in African American history, but you have to admit that this was funny. I have a confession to make........... I had a curl in the 1980's.

The sad part about it was that I had a Curl-Fro or a Fro-Curl, depending on which one you consider more dominant. Initially, my hair was braided but my mother needed something that took less time and was more in fashion so she cursed me with the curl. There were exactly a lot of braided or even dread locked kids walking around Kansas City in the 1980's. At that time I had really thick glasses, so though I had a cute kind of face, the fro-curl did not help. A good afro would have been enough. By the way, you won't find any close up pictures of the curl ever on this blog or anywhere else in photo logs. Those picture rest in a closet at my mother's ranch where they will remain. There is one picture I put on this blog with me and my curl, but I won't go telling you where it is so ha ha.

When I was young I liked my Fro-Curl and I thought I would never part with it. That was until I spent the summer with my aunt and uncle in Dallas, TX. They were traditionalists and I think they had been plotting on my Fro-Curl from the moment I arrived. They had two sons who didn't have curls. The oldest, my older cousin Melerick, may have also been in on this plot since he loved to try out his martial arts moves on me and his younger brother.

I will never forget the day that they made me cut my curl off. We were eating dinner, a dinner that was made up of take out food because my aunt has never known how to cook. (ha ha) Because my mother did not give me money to maintain the curl in Dallas, I had to try and make due with whatever products I could find. For those of you who know anything about curls no matter what you try you eventually need to have a professional do it. So my curl began to dry up, and that night my aunt was no longer willing to take it. She began to say that I needed to cut my hair like a normal person. I argued something to the extent of my curl being my identify or something that now would not make sense to me. I really don't remember my justification, but I wasn't willing to let that curl go. At some point my normally calm, collect, and serene uncle jumped in with, "Look dagnamit, your going to go and get that thing cut off your head. Do you understand me?" His response was a shock to me and he really scared me since I had NEVER seen him mad before. Normally, my uncle played good cop to my aunt's bad cop. Now the shoe was on the other foot.

So the next day they sent my cousin Melerick to take me to the local barber to have it cut. My cousin Melerick found the whole thing funny, and he kept making jokes about my Fro-Curl the entire way. So when we got to the barber Melerick told the woman, "Cut off, cut it all off!" So she did it. She cut my hair as short as possible, without it being bald. I still remember the locks of hair falling to the floor in slow motion, the sound of them landing below the barber's chair was like stones crashing to the earth below. Okay I really don't remember that, but work with me here. The barber also showed no mercy to my as she yanked and pulled her clippers through my hair. Maybe she was also a part of this wicked plot on my Fro-Curl. When she finished and I saw myself in the mirror I wanted to stand up in the chair and yell out, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was so hurt to come home almost bald. I had visions of myself being Samson after Delilah had his hair cut, all I needed was for my eyes to be poked out. Or at least my glasses being taken (I am near sighted). When I looked in the mirror I no longer knew who I was. Who was this kid who looked back at me from the mirror?

When we returned to my aunt and uncle, my uncle said, "You didn't have to get that much cut off. I just wanted you to do something with that thing." I looked back at my cousin Melerick to his laughs. I vowed revenge that day, but of course he was bigger than me so nothing ever came of that. I went to my room and I refused to come out.

It was in the darkness of my sorrow for my lost hair, that reason went out the windom and I came up with all kind of schemes to return my Fro-Curl to its rightful place. This was in the 80's mind you, but I had heard of the Hair Club for Men. Maybe they could help me regain my former glory. Maybe if I sat in the room long enough the hair would grow back, hmmmm. I wanted so bad to find a way to make my hair grow back as fas as possible so I could walk into the dinning room and show off my regrown hair.

Time went on, as time does and I forgot all about that stuff. I eventually went on to the flat-top, the step flat-top, the gumbi, bald (in college because I couldn't afford hair cuts) and a number of other hair styles. When I moved to New York I eventually went back to growing my hair like a small natural aka a mini-fro and my beard until I went to Ethiopia and a barber there cut off more of my hair than I wanted. My Ethiopian girl friend at that time was so happy that this happened. No one in her family had beards.

It is funny in life how you go through these kind of phases. It is also funny what goes in and out of style and how you can look back and say, I can't believe I actually had one of those. May the curl remain dead and never return to haunt any of my descendants.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Israeli Music: Zion Golan

As you may have noticed from previous posts that some of my favorite music is Yemenite Israeli music. One of the most well known names in Yemenite Jewish music is Zion Golan. Golan was born to Yemeni Jewish immigrants to Israel in Ashkelon, Israel. He currently lives with his wife and three children (two girls, one boy) in the Ahuzat Etrog neighborhood of Merkaz Shapira, Israel. Zion Golan is a legend in Israel and even Yemen.

A Yemenite Jewish woman that I knew in New York said that she remembers how Zion Golan was one of the first to perform many of the old school Yemenite Jewish music in Israel in dialects that Yemenite Jews spoke when they lived in Yemen: languages such as Hebrew, Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic. Most of Zion Golan's early work is credited to the tunes written to psalms by Rabbi Shalom Shabazi in Yemen in the 17th century. Even today in most Yemenite Jewish synagogues these songs are still sung during the Sabbath and at weddings.

The songs below are a mix of Hebrew and Judeo Yemenite Arabic. Enjoy. So enjoy three of my favorites of his performances.

Zion Golan singing Ya Mehji

Zion Golan and Lior Farhi "Pasaq Zeman"

Zion Golan singing Ada al-Yamani
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Monday, October 8, 2007

Responding To My Harshest Critic

I sometimes feel that I am not doing something right in life if someone doesn't come out of the blue and criticizes me for something. It is a part of life, and I have always found it funny how the critics, who often don't know anything about me, I come into contact with somehow believe they are going to change me. I received the following response from a person concerning my first post about self-image the past. I believe this person was really trying to respond to my post Israel My Kind of Place: Living the Life. They previously sent an anonymous post to me, which I responded to in the Sellout and the Token. Well now they are back and this time they have chosen the name ILovePalestine.
ILovePalestine wrote:
They think you are desperate because you are Black. They don't want their daughters married to an Abeed. So they don't setting you up with old women or women looking for Visas into the U.S.. As soon as she gets her green card she will leave you. You are just a means out of the country not actual Husband material. Wake up and see that you are Black. Stop selling out. And yea it's me again. I swear I think maybe your blog will have something besides wishing you could find a Non-Black/African Jewish woman. Instead I find you saying how you "tried" to date Black women but they broke your heart. So you have a reason to stop dating them. You might as well come out and say it instead of going around it.
Greetings ILovePalestine,

I hope you are well. Thanks for actually making up a name this time. I am going to respond to your post separately to show how silly it is.

In terms of desperation in dating issue, the problem was not with the people trying to set me up. Their intentions were well intended. The problem was that I went against my rule of accepting Ashkenazi shidducks (matchmaking) from people who don't know me. I did so under the guise of being nice, regardless of what you think and I personally need to be more upfront. Ashkenazim (northern and Eastern European Jews) that I have met NORMALLY set up shidducks from a different mindset than ones set up by Jews of African, Middle Eastern, and Asian backgrounds. What religious Ashkenazim are normally looking at in terms of shidducks is different than what I am looking for, which is why I normally have a rule against them. Both Shidducks I mentioned were from Ashkenazim, although one shidduck was to a Persian Jewish woman (Iranian). This woman would not have worked for me because she didn't speak Hebrew and she was not willing to stay in Israel. Big problems for me. She was already an American citizen and she is going back to America next month.

In fact, if you had read the post, the first date I was set up on was from a woman (from England) who wanted me to look at her daughter for marriage, so your words are obviously incorrect about them not wanting me to marry their daughters. Her daughter moved to Israel from England so she doesn't need American citizenship. The problem was that her daughter was a vegan and her daughter had no plans on being religious. Her daughter also was a part of a different social scene than me. That is why I never called back because there was no chemistry. Besides there was an Isreali women in New York who once wanted me to look at her daughter for marriage, the problem was that her daughter wasn't religious. Her daughter was already a US citizen. So much for your green card theory.

I also find it interesting that you skipped the part of my post about the Ethiopian Israeli friend of mine that I went out with. I can only assume that you skipped that part of the post on purpose because it proves you wrong. You also skipped the articles of how I define beauty, but I guess you did that on purpose also. If you actually believe that women over here are marrying guys just to get American citzenship, once again have never been here before. That only happens in America when people stay longer than their visas.

In your previously anonymous post to me (about a month ago) you mentioned that I moved to Israel in order to not marry an African or African American woman. As I mentioned before in another post if my intention was to move to Israel in order to marry a non-African woman I could have done that in America or I could have moved to Europe. It seems like a lot of work to move to another country, in the Middle East, simply to not marry a non-African woman. With all of the non-African women in America that I have met it would have made more sense to stay in America. Israel is not exactly the place people go when they want to marry non-African people. More than half the population has some African mix. I could have gone back to Japan if I was so intent on avoiding Africans. That is actually funny when I think about it.

Friend: Hey Ehav where are you going?
Ehav: I'm going to MOVE to Israel in order to not marry an African descended women.
Friend: What are you stupid there are more non-African women in America than in Israel. If that is what you want you could simply go down to the East Village in Manhattan or move back to California. ha ha.

Also, one of the facts you are forgetting is that more than 50% of the Israeli populace descends from African Jews from countries like Morocco, Algeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, South Africa, etc, If you talk to enough Israelis you will find that there are a number of Sephardic Jews who have at least one parent who was directly from Africa. So your argument is a bit weak, and I can only assume you have NEVER been in the Middle East since a large number of Middle Eastern people have African DNA. During the Trans-Saharan slave trade Arab nations brought over a lot of African women. They made most African men they brought over eunochs so only half of the population produced children.

You also mention the word Abeed (Arabic). It is interesting to note that Abad or Abeed (meaning slave) as you spell it is an Arabic term used by some Arabs to describe Sub-Saharan African people. Also, there is no Israeli designation for an עבד Eveth (Hebrew for servant/slave). If I were considered such I would not be able to get Jewish Israeli citizenship. (For those who don't know there are stars on our ID cards that declare our citizenship classification, there is no Eveth class in Israel.) In the Passover liturgy commemorating the Exodus all Jews announce that our ancestors were עבדים Avothim (slaves) in Egypt. So all Jews recognize that our ancestors were slaves who were redeemed by God.

The only terms in Hebrew that are used to describe non-Jewish Blacks are: Shechorim, Kushim and Africanim. Shechor literally means black, Kush is the name of an East African kingdom, and Africa you know what that is. This is mainly when they don't have a country of known origin, otherwise the country origin is use as a title. Abad or Abeed (as you spell it) is only used by certain Arabs in the strict sense of meaning Black people. There is an article by a Nigerian born man, Moses Ebe Ochonu, that discusses this. His article Arab Racism Against Black Africans can be found here. A group of Arabs I once met on the border with Lebanon called me Suri (meaning Syrian) and they said the reason they called me this was because I was dark brown. They literally pointed to a darker Arab and said, "Hey Suri, here is your brother."

You also mentioned my earlier articles about the two relationships that didn't work out for me. I find your words funny since DeLana didn't "break my heart" as you say. If she did "Break My Heart" we wouldn't still be friends. The reality is that DeLana and I were headed in two different directions. For example, she lives in San Antonio and loves it. I had no plans of ever settling down in Texas. This would have been a big problem.

You mention that you find my blog to be about one thing i.e. problems I have had in dating in African American women, but I would disagree since the majority of the articles have nothing to do with my love life. My first articles were about the Imus, community, comic books, and social issues. Also, you seem appalled by my blog, which if you are why is this the second time you have tried to leave a message on it?

The real illusion, in my eyes, is when people ignore the will of God in the whole scheme of things. His will is the reason I have moved anywhere in life and is the reason why I am here in Israel. Besides, as I mentioned in my last post, the Quran says that a day will come when Allah causes Jews to return to the land of Israel again, as a sign before the great day of judgement. Of course one can't go against the words of God, right?

So to my critic(s) I offer the following adult and grown up response.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Self-Image: The Future

Before reading this post I suggest read Part 1 and Part 2 in order first.

I see my future in a variety of ways that I liken to broken shards of glass that lay on the floor. If one wants to put the image back together they have to find which pieces fit best and at times they have to make accommodations for those things that are unknown. Unlike a puzzle that has pieces that only fit a certain way along with an image that is being formed, a mirror's image changes based upon what is in front of it and how much light reflects off it. For me the ever changing image is my growth in my life, the light reflecting off the mirror is my faith.

At the moment I am working to settle certain things in my life. Even before I left America to live here in Israel I was still in the process of finding my way. When I was in New York I learned the value of having a game plan before you make major decisions. I moved to Manhattan without a good understanding of how things worked and without thinking about where my life was going. Because of this lack of vision I went through a few years of problems. At the same time this was a good learning experience on how to handle future life decisions and future mistakes. Now that I am here in Israel, there are of course lessons to be learned and new things that I must become accustomed to. Yet, the things I learned in my previous travels have done wonders to help me deal with the transition.

I moved to Israel for the following reasons that revolve around where I saw God was leading my future.
  1. I needed to be in a place where I could draw closer to the Jew that God created me to be. For some of us that can only happen in a place like Israel.
  2. I wanted to move to a place where when I get married and have children I could raise them with the values that are important to me i.e. Torah based.
  3. I wanted to be a part of the change in Israel that helps bring back elements of the society to the Judaic moral foundation: the Torah.
I also found myself and others wrapped up in a series of prophecies that can be found in the Bible and even in the Islamic Quran. Prophecies stating that God would bring Jews back from all over the world to the land of Israel.

The Bible
Isaiah 43:5-6 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, `Give them up!' and to the south, `Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth--

Amos 9:14-15 I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them," says the LORD your God.

Ezekiel 20:34 I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered--with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath.

The Quran

Quran Sura 7:137 “And We made the children of Israel, who were considered weak (and of no account), inheritors of lands in both east and west, - lands whereon We sent down Our blessings.

Quran Sura 17:104 “And we said to the Children of Israel afterwards, scatter and live all over the world and when the end of the world is near we will gather you again into the Promised Land.”

As Islamic scholar Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi comments:
"God wanted to give Avraham a double blessing, through Ishmael and through Isaac, and ordered that Ishmael's descendants should live in the desert of Arabia and Isaac's in Canaan. The Qur'an recognizes the Land of Israel as the heritage of the Jews and it explains that, before the Last Judgment, Jews will return to dwell there. This prophecy has already been fulfilled.”
Call me an idealist, but this kind of idealism has always been a part of my family. All of my family encouraged me to make this decision to move to Israel and to follow my dreams. My family supported me to follow the path that God placed before me and walk this path to its end. I once told my grandmother of my plans concerning Israel and in a hushed tone she said, "I wish I could have done that." So on some level I am here for her sake just as well as my own. I am so glad to have the support of my family and I can't wait to have them visit me here, and who knows maybe more of them will move here.

The future that I see for myself is that I will be married and have children. I will be a loving husband and father. The day will come when I will be married to a strong Jewish woman, and in my dreams I sometimes see her. It is up to me and her to find each other. I know that she is out there somewhere, and I long for her presence in my life. I long to surprise her with romantic ideas and gifts. I long to tell her about my feelings, and I also long to listen to her. Whether she is in Israel now, or she is not here yet I will find her. When I see the moon in the night sky from the desert hills that surround my home I feel that somewhere she may be also looking at the moon wondering where I am.

One day I will pass on to my children the culture that was passed on to me as well as the stories about my past. I will give to them gifts that come from my various journeys in life, and I will impart them with a choice to accept it or to choose their own. I will do my best to show them how important our family history is and the destiny that has been imprinted into our DNA. I will tell them stories of the good times and the bad times so that they can know the struggles that it took for me to become who I am. I will take them to the desert and to the mountains around Jerusalem and read sections of the Bible ot them. I will let them know everyday that they are my future and that they are the summation of my hopes and dreams. I will do all the things that I had always wished my late father could have done for me. I will also teach them to chase after their own dreams and not to accept the words of those who would distract them from their destiny.

I will leave my mark on Israel and the world by building a family that stands for something. When I am able to accomplish these things I will be able to rest having had a good self-image of where I have been, where I am, and where I can go.
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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Self-Image: The Present

Before reading this post I suggest you read part 1 Self-Image The Past first.

When I speak of the present and my self image, I include my entire life as a part of this. Taking stock of the information in part 1 about my family's past, I take all of that into consideration when I look at my life from its beginning to the present. Every decision that have made in some way contains elements of my family history along with my personal experiences. As I grew older I began to relate more with the Jewish ancestry on my father's side that came about of Iberia (Portugal and Spain) as well as those who came out of the Bilad es-Sudan (West Africa). Those combined experiences in turn determine on a day to day basis who I am and where I stand.

I was born in 1975 to Eliyahu Ever and Sallie Ever. In 1978 my father passed away and my mother made a number of decisions about how she was going to raise me since she was then a single parent. My father's mother, Elnora Lyons-Ever, came to live with my mother for about a year in order to teach my mother how to raise me. I did not grow up around the majority of my close relatives on either side of my family. In Kansas City most of my family were either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd cousins. I was an only child and I was one of the youngest children in the family I had in the area so as time went on I was on my own for the most part. During those years I didn't have much interest in my family history or culture. Up until my college years I didn't really think there was much to my family because the past was something that only grandmother Elnora Lyons-Ever would talk about.

My journey's in life can broken up into the following categories.
  1. Early Elementary School: Attending predominately European American school where learning English and French was a requirement, and lived in a closed off African American neighborhood in Kansas City, MO. Most of my friends at school were of European American descent and in my neighborhood all of my friends were African American. Part of our family lived in an Orthodox Jewish community, and until they moved I spent some time with them. Off and on I also spent the summers in various parts of Texas with different family members.
  2. Okinawa, Japan: I was around Americans stationed on the Marine base there and some of the local residents who lived near or on the base. I later returned to Japan in 2006 for work, but that time to the main land as I was in Kawisaki.
  3. 7th Grade to 8th Grade: I attended a predominately African American school. During my 7th grade year my mother and I lived in an African American neighborhood. During my 8th grade year when I attended this school my mother moved us to a European American community in the suburbs. Most of the residents of this community were baby boomers or elderly European Americans of with unknown or no visible cultural background. Most of the residents of the community kept to themselves so I had limited contact with them.
  4. High school: I attended a school that was 60% European American, 30% African American, and 10% other ethnic origins. I had a mix of friends from various African American, European American, Asian American, and Latin American cultures.
  5. College in Texas: I attended a predominately African American university and I lived in several different neighborhoods. I lived on campus for two years, three years in a mixed neighborhood, and two years in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood. Most of my friends on campus were from Ethiopian, Indian, Jamaican, and African American ethnic groups. Many of my friendships after 1996 were made of up members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
  6. California: I lived in a mixed neighborhood made up mostly of Latin Americans. I worked in a mixed environment and my friends were African American, Vietnamese, Filipino, Ethiopian, and Lebanese.
  7. New Jersey: I lived in a predominately non-Jewish Euro-American neighborhood. Most of my friends were members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
  8. Ethiopia: In Ethiopia I stayed in Addis Ababa and during this period all of my friends were Ethiopian of Tigrenya and Oromo ethnic descent. There are about 50 different ethnic groups in Ethiopia, each with their own languages and traditions.
  9. New York: While I stayed in Manhattan I was around a varying group of people. In the initial stages of my life in New York I was around Syrian Jews, Moroccan Jews, African Americans, Orthodox Hasidic Jews, Modern Orthodox Jews, and Conservative Jews. During my later years I was around Israelis of Yemenite, Ethiopian, Syrian, and Moroccan descent. Some of my friends were religious and some were not.
  10. Maale Adummim, Israel: Currently, I live in a mixed neighborhood made up of Yemenite, Moroccan, Ashkenazi, Religious, non-Religious, etc. Israelis. I have seen some Ethiopian Israelis around but I think they live in another neighborhood. I have some cousins that live down the street.
During the first 7 phases mentioned I spent a number of years searching for the path that I should follow. Because of the fact that I had been in a number of places and cultures I was not certain what I was supposed to do with my life. I was also not certain who God was or what exactly I was to believe. It was not until college by chance that I received an invitation to a Passover Seder from a source that I did not know that something hit me. I read the invitation several times wondering how anyone knew about me, and why they sent it to me. At that time I had no rudder in my life, if the wind blew east I went east. If the the wind blew south I went south. It was also during this time of searching that I made a number of mistakes about where to place my loyalties and who truly represented truth with a capital T. It wad during these those times that I walked into and out of many false or weak ideologies and I have since never looked back.

About year before my grandmother Elnora Lyons-Ever passed away that I began to see that something was missing. One day when I spoke to her on the phone she asked me, "What do you believe?" I wasn't sure what she was getting at so I just babbled off some things. She once again asked me, "What do you believe?" At this point I didn't have a clear answer for her because I didn't know. It was then that she said, "Soon I am not going to be here anymore and you are going to have to make a choice. Not just because I told you something, and not because your mother told you something. You are going to have to find it for yourself."

I was a little scared by her words because they were laced with the reality that I was going to have to find my way back to a path that I had not fully walked upon, and I was going to have to do it alone. By the time I was born, all of my grandfather's had passed away. My father had passed away and much of the family was scattered to the four corners of the earth. So when I returned to Judaism I did so ignoring my family past, and I did so with the only path that was available to me: the Reform and Conservative path.

That was until a Rabbi of West African and Spanish descent told me, "You can't return to a place you didn't come from." His words meant that if I was going to return to Judaism I was going to need to do so through the history of my family i.e. Jews of West African, North African, Spanish, and Yemenite descent. Trying to be a Jew while ignoring my family's past and the past of the regions they came from was not going to bring me back to where I needed to be.

It was during the times of numbers 8, 9, and 10 that I began to ask questions of my family, and I began to reseach our family origins. What I found was that the entire time who we were was there staring me in the face. I just had never asked the right questions and I didn't ask the right people. Just last year I came into contact with Sheikh Abdel Haidara of Timbuktu, Mali and he helped identify where my past resided he offered me a chance to come to Timbuktu and learn more about Jews who were once there. I hope to take him up on the offer sometime within the next 5 years.

All of the above experiences make up who I am in the present. My decisions about where I live and how I live my life are first and fore most grounded upon my faith. Next, they are rooted in the cultures that my family came from. Then they are weighed with the life that I have personally lived. This is what made me want to start this blog because the places I have lived and the people I have been around have shaped a number of my opinions on life. I am not one to say that my opinions are superior, they of course are not, and I won't lay claim to be the only one with them. They are simply the result of the world that I have lived in.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Self-Image: The Past

Not long ago a question came up on my blog on how I see myself, or better yet how I identify myself. The short answer appears to the right on my blog introduction. Yet, the complex and more detailed answer falls into three categories: The Past, Present, and Future. I will write about each separately. Because I define myself first and foremost based on a cultural past. First, lets begin with my family's past and how it affects who I am today.

Maghrebi and Sephardic Jews (West Africa)

Part of my family was made of up Jews who came into various segments of West Africa in the Southern Sahara areas of Mali, Senegal, and Mauritania. In Arabic both North African and parts of West Africa were called the Maghreb/Maghrib meaning "West." West Africa, near the Niger river and to Senegal was often called Bilad es-Sudan i.e. Land of the Dark People.

This was before the modern borders were established so the areas where more fluid and were known as the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, and last the Songhay Empire. These Jews came from three different places and during various periods. The first group was made up Yemenite Jews who came around the 6th to 7th century CE.

North African Jewish Travel to the Ghana Empire

The next group was made up of North African Jews who came into Mali for trade during the 1200's, 1600's, and last 1800's. In all of these eras Jews initially married and converted women from the local West African populations.

Rabbi Mordechai aby Serour: Last Rabbi of Timbuktu, Mali

According to the Arabic record the Tarikh El-Fettash there was an army of Jews living in Tirdirma, Mali, near the Niger river, in 1402 CE. Manuscript C of the Tarikh (history) states that the Jews had an army of 1500, 7 rulers, and 333 wells. They were also the owners of various farming lands before the Sahara swept through.

Over time, due to persecution and changes in the trade environment many Jews left, some were killed during the Islamic persecutions of the late 1400's, while other mixed into the local populations. The parts of my family who left these areas during this upheaval was the Ever family and the Eliyahu ahl-Yahud de-Tazerwalet family. More history on this can be found here
and here.

Senegal, Mali, and Nigeria

There was another part of my family that was made up some unknown ethnic groups in and around Senegal. Much of the history on this part of the family has fallen to the sands of time, and as of yet I haven't been able to find more information on this. I simply know the areas they hailed from, mainly being areas where French is spoken now. This was due to searching out the family oral legends.

North & West African Regions my family settled in (6 CE to 1800's)

These locations were common to various members of both my father's and my mother's family. I concentrated more heavily on my father's side though. A few years ago in my search for the past I was adopted by an Igbo Nigerian family and I accepted some elements of their history as my own. Now, I have left that behind somewhat because of the new information I was able to find about my family. Yet, I do acknowledge that the Ilona family in Nigeria adopted me into their family, although I don't have any contact with them now.

Spanish Jews

My Great Great Grandfather Richard Lang

A part of my family was of mixed Spanish Jewish descent. This was the Lyons part of the family that married with the Lang part of the family. The Lang family was already mixed by the early 1800's and the Lyons family was mixed by the mid to late 1800's.

My Great Grandfather Shoham "Beryl" Lyons

By the time this part of the family made their way from the East Coast to the South (late 1800's) they were somewhat assimilated due to the social pressures of the time. Certain family members were able to retain their native Spanish and my father was the last to still speak Spanish fluently. This part of the family mixed with the part of the family that was from the Maghreb.

My Great Grandmother Huldah Lang-Lyons

Part of the Lyons family had left Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition of the late 1400's and traveled to Germany before they came to America. They started out in the Carolina's before some of them migrated south and west. More about Spanish Jewish mixture with Africans and African Americans can be found here.

French Creole

On my mother's side of the family, my great great grandfather Charles Knoble was mixed half French and half West African. We don't know where his mother was from, we know his father was French. When Charles Knoble was 12 he left home, on the East Coast, to start his own life and he eventually settled in the south.

My Great Great Grandfather Charles Knoble

He married a woman named Lettie Hayes, whom my grandmother claims was from India originally. I am not sure how true this is, since her name is not Indian. My grandmother may have mixed it up with one of the Native American ethnic groups.

African American or Black

I don't much go by these titles, since before my family was American they were something else. Much like the KRS-One song My Philosophy I am not Black, but brown in skin tone. I consider the term "black" a bit of a misnomer and I didn't use it personally. Both terms ignore the Maghrebi Jewish aspects of who I am, and because I know the locations where my family came from I prefer to identify with those.

Also Sephardic Jews lived in all the areas my family came from. So often use that as a title before I use African American. A Sephardic Jew can be a Jew of Spanish descent, African descent, and Middle Eastern descent. It depends on the Jewish culture their family connected with. The terms Black and African American are a bit vague for since they don't denote specific cultural nuances, and differences amongst various African American ethnic groups. See my previous post on this issue here.

At the same time I can identify with elements of the main-stream definition of being an African American. I was born in America and I did live and interact in a number of African American communities and cultures. There are parts of my family that identify with this more, and there are those who don't. It various from person to person and also on what they know about our family history.

The Total Package

I identify the most with this mixed ancestry since I believe in accepting the sum of my past, on a cultural level. Being born in America, I always hated how people often looked at me as a person without a past. At the same time it is difficult when so much of your family crosses a number of cultural lines. Yet, I knew on the religious side that the Judaic element would be the strongest since it has a stronger foundation for me. When I returned to Judaism back in 2000 it was because of the fact that I wanted to return to the ancient ways of the family. Being Jewish also did not denote denying other areas of my background since Jews have traveled and mixed with pretty much every population around the world. We also carry the cultural elements of who we are, while focusing on the religious reality of who we are.

Ehav Eliyahu Ever a Jew of Mixed Ancestry

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Israel My Kind of Place: Living the Life

Okay so a friend of mine in NY named Moshit asked me how things are going here in terms of going out. She also asked for more pictures. I keep saying I am going to take more and simply forget. Also, there are some people who don't take well to have their photos taken in some places. It is a modesty issue, but now I just found out that my viewer in my digital camera is broken and I have no idea how it happened. So any pictures I take now, I won't know the results until I go home and download them.

The Night Life

I'll be honest I don't get out much, because of my schedule and because where I live in Maale Adummim is made up of mostly familys. The night life scene is more like a suburb, which is more of what I wanted after living in Manhattan, NY for about 4 years. There are places that I could go, but I am at the point in my life where it is more fun to go places with someone rather than alone. Also, between work, trying to get my apartment setup, and martial arts there isn't a whole lot of time. I am also not sure what I like to do anymore outside of the being around family and joking around or debating different issues.

Ben Yehudah Street in Jerusalem

I could always go hang out in Ben-Yehudah square in Jerusalem, but it is hard to find free parking in that area. It is also a younger scene so I would be simply sitting at some coffee shop typing away on my computer. I am 32 years old, at the time of this post, so that is not a scene I am into anymore. It is especially busy there on Thursday night. I guess people like to go out before Shabbat and this is like Friday night in the US. Here in Israel many of us work from Sunday to Thursday or some people work Sunday to Thursday full day, and half a day on Friday. It is great to get all the Jewish holidays off without any kind of hassle. When I worked in the US for my last company I always felt like it was being treated as a hassle when I needed days off for Jewish holy days such as Passover, Yom, Kippur, etc. I like how it is federally something that I get without having to ask for it.

Shops in downtown Jerusalem

What Do You Do?

So how do I spend my time you ask? The better question is how do I want to spend my time once I finally get settled. At the moment I still have to put together some of my furniture and I also have to buy some furniture. I want to go for more of the Moroccan and Iranian look with my living room and bedroom. Maybe Ethiopian in one room, and one room has to be blue. A throw back to my old Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity days. Now that all of my belongings have arrived from America I have more books to read so I definitely need to get that book shelf together. So once I get the apartment issues settled that is when I need to work on my Hebrew full time, and continue practicing martial arts.

Me with my friend Avivit in Petach Tikvah, Israel

Outside of that I haven't really thought about how to spend my free time. I have also visited a few families that I have made some connection. I prefer to do this since I am at the age where people are either married or looking to be married. For me just sitting around and talking to friends is good enough for me.

Shidducks Anyone? i.e. Matchmaking Anyone?

I went on two dates, if they could be called that, since I have been here, but I knew that both situations would not go far. The first one was okay, but I just didn't get the impression that I should call back. It was set up by the woman's mother, but what the mother mentioned about her in terms of her religious views were different than what the woman actually told me. I got the impression that she was more into the hanging out life than I am and she also was a vegan, where I eat meat. That alone would have its problems. She was a nice woman, but my manly radar simply said this isn't going to happen. She also lives in Tel Aviv and I live near Jerusalem. So I never called her back.

The next woman I went out with was set up by a woman named Tzipora that I met during a Shabbat (Sabbath) lunch. I was a little reluctant to take on this date because the woman I was being set up with was Farsi i.e. she was Iranian Jewish. For those who don't know Persian Jews (Iranian Jews) normally don't marry non-Persian Jews. I once heard that they have less than 5% intermarriage rate, even with other Jewish ethnic groups. The reason is because several times the Jews of Iran were forced to convert to Islam. In order to keep the children secretly Jewish, they married them off to other Iranian Jews before they were born. There is more history on this, but that will have to wait. Tzipora mentioned that the woman was here temporarily and was going back to the US, but maybe if the right guy presented himself she would stay.

So I met the woman and she was really nice. The conversation was good, and she was fun to be around. Yet, I got the feeling that what she hated about Israel outweighed what she liked about Israel. I also didn't get the impression that she was very passionate about staying in Israel, and it takes a certain level of passion to want to stay here. So I kept this and a few other things in the back of my mind. There was also the issue that since she was Iranian there was no realistic way for anything serious to take place. So after two weeks, I didn't hear from her for a few days. I took the initiative and called her. That is when she asked me, "Didn't Tzipora call you?" I said no. She then said, "You are a nice guy and all, but I don't think we should date anymore." Quickly, I responded with, "Oh okay. Well have a good night."

She said good night to me and then we both hung up. I felt better that this was out of the way. I have since gone back to my rule no match making from people who haven't known me for about a year. I find that some people, who don't know me, try to put me on what I call desperation shidducks (match-making). The concept for these people is that I am desperate, which I am not. The other side of this coin is that they sometimes try to put me with women who may be older and are having a hard time finding someone. So since they are desperate they decide to put them with, maybe from the idea that I will never find someone. Some may believe that because I am religious that I may somehow influence a girl that they know that is not religious.

This is all well intentioned so I can't knock it much. The good thing is that Israel is a real marriage minded place and I like that. Yet, for myself I need to stick to women from the communities I am most comfortable around. Yemenite Israeli, Ethiopian Israeli, and Sephardic Israeli. So now my response to the whole shidduck thing from people who don't know me well is, "Thanks, but no thanks."

A Visit From A Good Friend

On a better note I recently went out with an Ethiopian Israeli friend of mine, Dorit, from New York. She is here in Israel for a few weeks to visit her family. We spent a day together going to Ikea since I need furniture. I met her father that day and I helped her grandmother get home since her grandmother walks on a cane. Later that week I called her to see if she wanted to go and walk around the beach at Tel Aviv. When I came to pick her up I met one of her younger brothers and one of her younger sisters. They were watching American cartoons that I used to love watching before I left America.

Beach line between Tel Aviv and Yaffo

Dorit and I also went out to the beaches at Tel Aviv and Yaffo.It is interesting how much has changed since the last time I was in that part of Tel Aviv. There are now three Ethiopian restaurants around Allenby and Ben Yehudah streets. These weren't there the last time I walked around that area. It was so nice to go out with someone who was down to earth and where there were no higher than normal expectations. I also like going out with women who were born in Israel or lived most of their lives in Israel, since I have always felt more comfortable with them. Dorit was born in Ethiopia and when she was 9 her family, along with other Ethiopian Jews, were airlifted out of Ethiopia and brought to Israel.

It was so nice to just sit at the beach and talk with Dorit, laugh with her, and be around her. I never had a chance to really get to know Dorit when we both lived in New York, but I really must say that I wish had. She says that she most likely will move back to Israel soon, so who knows what may come of this.

Sunset in Tel Aviv

Both of us forgot to bring cameras so there are no pictures. The pictures in this section are from my previous stays in Tel Aviv. Next time we go out before she leaves I promise you all I will take pictures.

The Tel Aviv market

My BIG Problem With Israel

One problem I do have with Israel, besides the bad drivers, is the number of people I see wearing pants that either don't fit or that sag. I can't stand that whole sagging pants thing, and I see so many people doing it. I feel like starting a campaign to run behind people and pull up their pants. Could you imagine the public service announcement for the Ehav Ever says - Pull Up Your Pants Israel campaign and the Ever Foundation's Put On Some Cloths That Fit You Fund.

The sad thing is when you see soldiers doing it, it makes me want to volunteer for the IDF again and try to get to a commanding officer post so I can order soliders to pull their pants up. It is also bad when you see a woman who is wearing pants that don't fit her and a shirt that shows off her belly and love handles. A friend of mine called this muffin tops because the love handles hanging off the pants that are too tight look like muffins. I have even seen older women dressing this way, and I had to say, "Ugh and yuck!" One day at the post office I saw a women who was wearing pants that were in the middle of her bottom so that her panties showed. Ahhhhh!

I can't stand sagging pants!

I almost want to dress up as a masked super hero who swings down from the roof tops and pulls up the pants of offenders. What makes it sad is when I see grown people, above the age of 35 doing it. Darn those gangster rappers, look what they have started. Some people don't know that the whole pants sagging thing in the gangster rap genre was a throw back to prison culture since in prison people aren't allowed to have belts. Now to walk around Israel seeing this really tacky way of dressing makes me really sick. (By the way I have never been in prison, but I knew a few people who have been.) It must also be noted that I am all into free-will and freedom of choice, but I have seen some real tacky ways of sagging and wearing cloths that don't fit out here worse than some of the stuff I saw in America.

At the end of the day I simply plan to get married have children and then show them how silly people look when they dress that way, and then hope that they choose to be different by wearing cloths that fit. So for now this is my life. I'll let you know when something more interesting happens.
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