I love the mystery of this secret. It might be a cantankerous response to the previous postcard. The next mega-exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum will be “The Great Mystery Show”. Several dozen mysterious PostSecrets will be included when it opens, however, this week is your last chance to see the current exhibit and secrets. If you have never been to the AVAM it is so worth a road-trip.
My family and I came across a picture that was hidden in my Great-Grandfathers wallet. He passed away 9 years ago. He was a solider in the Korean War and retired from the service after 20 years. The lady in the picture is not my Great- Grandmother to whom he was married to for 57 years. It has also come to light in the recent weeks, that he may have fathered a child while he was stationed in Fort Irwin.
My family and I are not sure if the woman in the picture is of his supposed child. However, there is a cryptic message written on the back of the photo that none of us can out how to go about translating it. We are unaware what language it is written in. My best friend told me to seek your help in finding out what the message is. I really hope you can help us!
My cheesecake story is much less interesting; this site’s archives would tell you otherwise but I came late to it. My husband loves it, many of you who read this site seem to love it, and I don’t… dislike it, I just don’t need more than one or two slices a year. I find it so heavy and overly monotonous; I always wish the proportions were different, say, the same amount of buttery crust and whatever topping you wish but a thinner layer of baked cream cheese custard. It not a testament to my mental acuity that it took me this many years to figure out this was the easiest way to make it happen. As bars, the taste is less heavy, it feeds a lot more people, and it’s portable, meaning it can go anywhere you want to this weekend (your friends thank you, in advance).
Well, we are back. I have to admit our big attempt at an off-the-grid vacation did not go exactly as planned, but my commitment to (mostly) staying off social media was probably a win for all of y'all, as you were spared an AWFUL lot of complaining.
It started with this, the evening before our flight to Cancun. We'd been gloriously clueless, right up until we arrived at my Weather Channel-watching in-laws' house with the kids.
By the next morning, the potential tropical cyclone seven had been upgraded (downgraded?) to Tropical Storm Franklin, a truly terrible name for a storm because we all know Franklin is a whiny little bitch.
But it looked like our flight would get there a few hours before the worst of it, and while we'd likely lose a day to rain, Cancun wouldn't get hit TOO badly. As long as we got there, we agreed, we'd be fine and make the best of it.
And we did get there! Right on time with the sun still shining! We managed to hit the pool, beach, outdoor restaurant, two swim-up bars AND a jacuzzi tub before the first of the raindrops started to fall.
And fall fall fall fall.
We were hustling back to our room when the sky truly opened up and dumped an EPIC amount of rain over everything and everybody. Jason raced a bit ahead to duck under the temporary cover of a bar (which was still open and serving, natch), while I padded behind in my flip-flops.
And that's when I hit a puddle, skidded and hydroplaned for a few confusing seconds, and then BAM, wiped out and fell. I landed badly, with my right elbow taking the full force of impact.
Sigh. Really, Amy? Again with this shit?
It's very painful and awkward to type, so I'll just get to obvious point: I broke my fucking elbow on the very first night of our vacation.
Two things I am grateful for: One, it's just a hairline crack/fracture and nothing that will require surgery. Just another two weeks or so in a splint that runs palm-to-bicep. Two, the emergency room care in Cancun was honestly better than any experience I've had stateside, and WILDLY STREETS AHEAD of the horror show that was the Las Vegas ER. Seriously, if you're looking to get injured on vacation, make it happen in Cancun. Maybe I should write a guidebook.
(We had to pay upfront [$600 for an ER visit, x-ray, and splinting/bandaging = not bad!] and file for reimbursement through our insurance, though we're also in talks with the resort for some restitution as hi, putting down a path of rubber mats over already-slippery tile in time for a storm that was predicted down to the minute wouldn't be a bad idea next time. People kept coming up me all week to show me their bruises or regal me tales of their sore tail bones from falls on wet surfaces of their own. I was just the only idiot who broke something.)
(People also kept asking me if I'd been given any "good pain meds." I kept disappointing them because no, just some Ibuprofen.)
(Though after stopping at a farmacia, I learned that Mexican Ibuprofeno is the size of a giant prenatal vitamin and is dosed at 800 mg a pill. Niiiiiiiiice.)
Third thing I am grateful for: My elbow did not stop us from taking an amazing private tour of Chichen Itza, a place I've wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. It did not disappoint, at all.
We took about 400 million photos of the ruins with our actual camera, which I believe will be amazing to look out once I find our memory card reader. And like, remember how to use our memory card reader.
I'm seeing an orthopedist for follow-up later this week, so for those of you who are more into photos of injuries than pyramid pics (hey no judgement), here's what things looked like last night when Jason kindly re-wrapped my splint with some fresh, non-filthy-and-shredded gauze:
Lovely! But mostly impressed with my pasty lack of a reverse farmer's tan.
This coming weekend I'll be in New York city for two very different and very special Shabbat experiences.
The first is Shabbat By the Sea with Temple Beth-El of City Island. You can read about it in the TBE newsletter. The short version is: 7pm on Friday night at the home of TBE members Ken and Steve Binder, 2 Bay Street on City Island. (If it rains, we'll meet at the shul instead.) I was blessed to be present for Shabbat by the Sea last year (here's their post about it) and it was a highlight of my summer. I can't wait to return and to dance in my Shabbes whites with TBE friends as we welcome Shabbat by the water's edge. There's nothing else like it.
The second is a Shabbat In The Garden adventure co-sponsored by TBE of City Island and by another Jewish Renewal community called Shtiebl, which will take place starting at 9:45am on Saturday at the New York Botanical Garden (meet inside the main gate, 2900 Southern Blvd). I'll be co-leading a contemplative morning Shabbat service with my friends Rabbi Ben Newman of Shtiebl and Rabbi David Markus of TBE. (Here's the Facebook event where you can RSVP; wear walking shoes and dress for the weather.)
The first time I came to City Island I was delighted and surprised. It feels entirely unlike what I associate with the phrase "New York City" (or "The Bronx"), which just goes to show that New York is vast and contains multitudes and is perennially surprising, maybe especially to outsiders like me. (Though I get the sense even some lifelong denizens of the Five Boroughs don't know City Island either.) I've never been to the New York Botanical Gardens but I'm guessing I will find them equally beautiful.
The coming Shabbat is a special one. It's called Shabbat Mevarchim Elul, the Shabbat immediately preceding the start of a new lunar month -- in this case, the lunar month of Elul, the month that leads directly to the Days of Awe. The name Elul can be read as an acronym for the phrase "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" -- a quote from Song of Songs that can be understood as an expression of love between human beloveds, and as an expression of love between us and the Divine.
Join us by the water's edge and in the garden of Shabbat. (And in the garden on Shabbat!) Let intimate encounter with the Divine be the updraft that lifts you into heightened readiness to prepare for the High Holidays. Join us as we savor high summer in two of New York City's most beautiful places. Join us as we seek the Face of the Beloved through song, dance, contemplation, and just plain being. I look forward to seeing you there.
I spent Shabbat in an increasing state of horror about the white supremacist march in Charlottesville. Chants of "blood and soil," "white lives matter," and "Jew will not replace us;" white men carrying torches or wielding swastika-emblazoned flags; the death of a counter-protester at the hands of a maniac driving a car -- all of these led me to a heartspace of commingled grief and fury.
Watching this ugliness unfold was not a "Shabbesdik" (Shabbat-appropriate) way to spend a day when we're meant to live as if the world were already redeemed. Ordinarily I ignore the news on Shabbes, and seek to inhabit a different kind of holy time. But it felt important to bear witness, both to the white supremacist protests that blended the KKK with Nazism, and to those who bravely stood up to offer a counter-message.
Throughout the day I sought strength and hope in the fact of rabbis who traveled to Charlottesville to stand against bigotry alongside clergy of many faiths, "praying with their feet," as it were. I took comfort in the number of people I saw donating to progressive causes in Charlottesville (per Sara Benincasa's suggestion). But the weekend made clear just how much work we have to do to root out the cancers of racism and prejudice in this country.
Bigotry and xenophobia are among humanity's worst impulses. White supremacy and antisemitism are two particularly ugly manifestations of those impulses (and they're clearly intertwined -- I recommend Eric Ward's essay Skin in the game: how antisemitism animates white nationalism, which is long but is deeply worth reading). After Charlottesville, I recognize that there is far more hatred than I knew.
I was appalled by the ugliness we witnessed this weekend, and I know that's a sign of my privilege. I haven't had to face structural racism. I imagined that modern-day Nazis were laughable, and that the moral arc of my nation would bend toward justice without my active assistance. No longer. These hatreds are real, and alive, and playing out even now. They will not go away on their own.
The work ahead is long, but we must not give up. We have to build a better nation than this: more just, more righteous, concerned with the needs of the immigrant and the refugee, cherishing our differences of origin and appearance, upholding the rights of every human being to thrive regardless of race or religion or gender expression, cherishing every human being as made in the image of the Infinite One.
In offering that core Jewish teaching, I don't mean to parrot the "all lives matter" rhetoric that erases the realities of structural racism. Every human being is made in the divine image. That doesn't change the fact that in today's America, we don't all have equal opportunities or receive equal treatment. In today's America, racism is virulent. So are other forms of bigotry and hatred. We have to change that.
We have to mobilize, and educate, and hold elected officials accountable, and combat voter suppression, and give hatred no quarter. Those of us who are white have to work against racism and the malignant rhetoric of white supremacy. We have to combat antisemitism in all of its forms. We have to recognize that all forms of oppression are inevitably intertwined, and we need to work to disentangle them all.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. We won't all be able to participate in this holy work in the same ways. Some will be able (for reasons of gender or skin color or finances) to put their bodies on the line in direct action and protest. Others will participate by calling congresspeople, running for office, writing op-eds, or teaching children how to be better than this. But it's incumbent on all of us to do what we can.
I've often heard people muse aloud that we wonder how we would have reacted if we'd been alive during the Shoah, or the Civil Rights years, or any number of other flashpoint times of crisis and injustice. Would we have protected the vulnerable? Would we have spoken out? Would we have been upstanders? This is a time of crisis and injustice, and the only unacceptable response is doing nothing at all.
- Showing Up For Racial Justice
- How to fight white supremacy in Charlottesville and beyond
- Former Neo-Nazi Says It’s On White People To Fight White Supremacy
- Five ways to fight back against antisemitism
- How Jews can fight white supremacy in Trump's America
- A call to my beloved Jews: we gotta talk about privilege
- My Family is Black and Jewish. Here's what Charlottesville means to me.
- Hate in Charlottesville: the Day the Nazi Called Me Shlomo
- Ten Ways to Fight Hate: a Community Response Guide