Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Warsan Shire

Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,  Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand,  Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia, Scotland, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.

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Growing up in New York, with immigrant grandparents, the Statue of Liberty meant something. “Tell us the story of when your parents saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time again” we asked.   My mother would say that to her parents and many like them, the statue meant freedom to live in a country where you could be whatever you wanted to be. America was the place to go to flee from oppression, racism, class-ism and poverty. We understood that it was something special to be born in a country with ideals like that.

America is not perfect. We have racism and poverty. But that doesn’t destroy the dreams it was built on. Millions of people came to America to build a better life for themselves and for their families and still do to this day.

On the Statue of Liberty, there are words I know so well: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” That’s the spirit that made me feel like an American.  I wouldn’t be here without that philosophy.

Fly safe.

JAZ

Twenty-Five Things That I Want To Do In 2017

 Twenty-Five Things That I Want To Do In 2017

“The moment you put a deadline on your dream, it becomes a goal” Harsha Bhogle

 Go to Waiheke Island because I’ve heard so much about it from my family.

Take a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier.

Meditate every day.

Do more yoga.

Go to Copenhagen.

See the sunset on the beach whenever I am home at sunset.

Go to Sydney Australia.

Drink less coffee.

Drink less Spanish Lattes and Thai Iced Coffee.  (I love condensed milk coffees)

Take more Ubers in the US.

Go To Sweden.

Be more positive.

Be better about making plans with friends.

Spend more time with my family.

See Auschwitz.

Go to Israel.

Pay more attention to politics and get more involved.

Go To Grouplove concert. (missed them so far this year).

Go to Poland.

Go to Over Film Festival in Oregon.

Be kinder.

Go to Anderson, Wakeman and Rabin again-they are amazing . Congratulations Trevor on the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame .

Think more before I speak.

Eat less sugar. (I put this one in every few years)

Fly safe and Happy Holidays,

JAZ

First Food That I Want To Eat When I Revisit A Country

First Food That I Want To Eat When I Revisit a Country

“Like I said before. Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”Anthony Bourdain

 Japan Sushi at Tsukiji Market, any dessert made with yuzu or green tea.

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 Turkey Pide, fresh pomegranate juice, anything with eggplant, and any dessert made with semolina.

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 Croatia Fresh tuna and bean salad, grilled calamari and swiss chard.

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Cambodia Fresh coconut water and amok (I loved Cambodian food).

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 Greece Avgolemono soup, baklava and Greek salad (feta, tomatoes and olive oil don’t taste the same anywhere else).

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 Italy Pizza, pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil.  (My dream is to go to Sicily and eat pizza).

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South Africa Biltong (Im not even a meateater and I love it).

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Israel  Falafel and Hummus.

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Colombia Guanabana juice and Arepa con Quisito.

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Spain Churros, hot chocolate and real gazpacho.

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 Panama Sancocho soup.

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Netherlands Pofferjes and poached egg on brioche with smoked salmon, (first time that I have had that).

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Brazil Tacaca with shrimp and fresh acai ( not the watered down sugary stuff we get here) in the Amazon.

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 Thailand Thai iced coffee.

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 Peru Ceviche with giant corn.

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Argentina Alfajores from Havanna.

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Mexico Tacos, guacamole, mole or really anything in Oaxaca. (except not a fan of the crickets every day)

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USA When I come home I want a turkey burger from Golden State in LA.

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Fly safe,
JAZ

Being A Godmother To A Baby Who Lives In Another Country

Being A Godmother To A Baby Who Lives In Another Country

“Babies are such a nice way to start people.” Don Herold

I was asked to be the godmother of a good family friend’s baby girl. I immediately said yes but then I wondered what it meant. Did it mean that I believe in God? Did it mean that I lived my life with honesty, integrity, kindness and did not hurt anyone? I’m not hundred percent in any of these areas but I try.

I looked it up. In the old days, a godmother was responsible for the religious education of the child. Since they live in Israel, and I live in the US and I’m not religious, I don’t see that happening. When people didn’t live as long, the godparent was in charge should something happen to the parents. I think that there are way too many younger blood relatives ahead of me for that job.

Maybe in this day and age a godparent means that you are part of the village it takes to raise a child. It is a place to go when your parents who are human get it wrong. In her teenage years if she slams the door when things don’t go her way, a godmother can take her in, listen to her troubles, calm her down and send her home when she is ready.

Or maybe, when it is long distance, it is a way of saying, “Stay in my life, come visit, baby sit, learn about my country, stay in touch, watch me grow up and be there if I need you. Stay connected. Be my family too”. This I can do.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Who Are We Fighting? Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Nigeria etc

Who Are We Fighting? Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Nigeria etc

“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil. ” Tim O Brien, The Things They Carried

I was at a Coffee Bean in Los Angeles ordering a coffee. A woman was arguing with the cashier. She was blond with a British accent. She was angry because she wanted to put her chicken in the refrigerator while she drank her coffee. They explained to her that this was a kosher coffee shop and they could not take her food in the refrigerator. Now the reality is I don’t think any restaurant in America can put your personal food in their refrigerator due to Health Department reasons. She became very angry and yelled in my ear (I was next to her) to “Tell the rabbi to go f-ck himself.” I said that I preferred not to hear anti-Semitic comments while I was ordering my coffee. She replied quickly that I should “Go bomb Gaza.”

I don’t understand. The Palestinians know they are in the middle of a war and that Israel is targeting certain areas. Why are their children on roofs playing with pigeons? Why are they running around in the streets? Why are they not evacuating their homes and schools and protecting their children? We keep seeing horrific shots on CNN of children being killed and hurt . As a parent, I would put my kids safety first, no matter who told me to stay.  Israel does not want to kill their children. They just want peace. They want the rockets and terrorism to stop. But it seems that Hamas is not protecting the people of Gaza and is more concerned with blowing Israel off the face of the earth. How do you solve that?

A passenger airline carrying two hundred and ninety eight passengers, eighty of them children, is shot down over Ukrainian air space. The bodies fell out of the plane along with toys and personal belongings. They fell on the children’s orphanage in Torez. It will be a sight those orphans will never forget, -teddy bears, dolls, those beautifully made European toys and naked bodies with their clothes blown off in the blast. The world is shocked but the war will still continue in the Ukraine.

In Nigeria it has been one hundred days since two hundred girls were abducted from their school by the Boko Haram terrorists.  The International Community is horrified and it seems we can do nothing.

And what about the children in Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria? And before that in Rwanda, Liberia, Libya,  Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina? And World War II?

Are we still fighting the children of the world?  Have we learned nothing from the past? Will innocent children always be casualties of war?

I can only feel compassion and hope that others do also. Hope is the only thing to hold onto when everything appears so dark. Life looks like a mess right now in our world. But as human beings, we have the capacity for goodness. We have the ability to think and talk and that has gotten us into trouble. We can only hope that same ability to think and discuss will help us find peace.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Josette And Ron’s Wedding – God, America, Jamaica And Israel

Josette and Ron’s Wedding – God, America, Jamaica And Israel

‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
 I took the one less traveled by,
 and that has made all the difference. “ Robert Frost

It is not a poem I expected to be read at a wedding by the father of the groom. It is one of my favorite poems. I had to memorize it in high school. I know it well.

I hadn’t spoken to Josette in a while . She was a good friend of my daughter and they had grown up together in the dance world.  Josette is a beautiful Jamaican American girl. She contacted me to invite us to her wedding. I knew she was engaged to an Israeli boy. I responded that “I know rabbis’ ha ha.”  She said “Not so ha ha. I’m Jewish now and I live in Tel Aviv.” I spent that day laughing about how strange the world was and that people will always surprise you.  She was having two weddings one in California and one in Israel. It turned out that you can not be married twice by a rabbi so she was getting married in California by the pastor from her church.

I’ve known her family for seventeen years. They are the most devout Christian family I know. We have never had a conversation that didn’t mention Jesus or God or praying – a lot of praying.  I wrestle with God so their unshakable faith is hard for me to understand. I’m also a little bit jealous of people who have that kind of faith. I think they are happier.

I was curious how they would feel about their daughter marrying outside their race and religion and moving  far away to start a very different life. Their close family and their faith was such a big part of who they were.

The families couldn’t have been more different. Jamaican Americans and Israelis from Israel. For younger Americans, racial and ethnic diversity are a part of their lives now– for their parents not so much.

It turned out that these families had more in common then one would think. They were both intact loving families. Their parents had long-term marriages and were growing old together. Both Josette and Ron talked about learning honor, integrity and kindness from their families. Their values and their belief in God made them more the same than different. I think that is what God is supposed to be about – not the separate God of individual countries and religions. There was a lot of praying and it was the first time I heard Christ Our Lord and Mazel Tov (pronounced with the accent on the zal the way the Israelis do) in the same sentence.

There was so much love in that room. Ron and Josette seem to have the same soul, the same values and the same dreams.    If they change the world around them a little bit and offer some hope for the future , that is a bonus. (Oh and they both can dance) Both families seemed very happy with their new family members and they loved Ron and Josette!!.

The ceremony was beautiful. The setting was exquisite. Their Christian ceremony ring was placed on the third finger. Their Jewish ring will be the fourth finger and then they ended the ceremony by jumping the broom. This practice is common today in African-American families as a remembrance of the “mock marriage” ceremony for the slaves in the South in the 1840s and 1850s. They will be married now in the eyes of God, two religions and history.

Ron’s mother ran up to Josette’s brother’s girlfriend. “Are you coming to Israel next month?” They talked about travel plans. We saw Josette’s mom when we were leaving. I said “I can’t believe that you are going to Israel before my kids.” She replied in her beautiful Jamaican accent to my daughter. “You haven’t visited the homeland? You know that you can go for free.” (Birthright trip)

I said congratulations. We talked about how brave Josette was to make a decision to live such a different life. She answered, “that we can only pray.” (photo -Nicole Lennox Creative.)

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Keep Safe Josette and Ron and Fly Safe Everyone,

JAZ

Holiday Traditions With Friends

Holiday Traditions With Friends

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was in the Bahamas one Christmas when I was nineteen.  The Monday after Christmas I needed to go to a pharmacy. They were all closed because it was Boxing Day. That was my first real experience with  a holiday that we don’t celebrate here.  You never think about that until you are in a country that is celebrating their holiday.  It gives you a little more insight into a place when you see them observing their traditions.

Boxing day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and trades people would receive gifts from their superiors or employers, known as a “Christmas box”. Today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth Nations. I always remember that Dec 26 is Boxing Day though I don’t celebrate it. JZ, BAHAMAS

Cuban families in Miami have a delicious Cuban tradition that we carry on with zeal. Every Christmas Eve starting early in the morning, all the men in the family set up a ‘caja China’ (direct translation: Chinese box) in the front yard of the house. They sit outside, smoke their cigars, drink their rum and cokes and roast a full pig in this box for hours on end. When the whole family comes over for dinner, the pig is still cooking and the men cut off the skin to serve as ‘chicharron’ while the rest of the pig roasts. It’s undeniably good. Our ‘kosher’ Jewish neighbors will tell you the same.   MA, CUBA

All Saints Day on Nov 1 is big day. Croatia is a strongly Catholic country and November  1st – the day of the dead – is a big family occasion.  All Saints Day is the day that people go to  visit the cemeteries . They bring flowers , light candles and say a prayer. All the businesses are closed and it is a time for families to be together in peace and quiet. ( spirituality)  to celebrate the lives of their deceased relatives.  PV, CROATIA

In Colombia, the Christmas traditions come from Spain. They make nativity scenes  called Pesebre.  Columbia is deeply rooted in Catholic tradition. From the 16th till the 24th everyone gets together and prays to the Novena and sing Christmas songs called Villancicos.    On Christmas Eve, the families gather around the Nativity Scene    and eat pork or ham,  dulce de guayaba , dulce de guanabana,bunuelos  ( fried dough) and natilla  (special pudding dessert with sugar, cloves, panela and milk). They drink Aguardiente (fire water) and dance and sing all night. The kids write letters to Nino Dios ( baby Jesus) and wait for him to bring them presents. On Christmas Day everyone makes their own brightly colored balloons and fills them with hot air and lets them into the sky at the same time. Feliz Navidad. AN, COLOMBIA

Shavuot is a holiday that usually  occurs in May, fifty days after Passover. It is  the end of the harvest season for grain and wheat.  People brought  the first fruits  of the season to the temple to thank God. It is fun to celebrate Shavuot on a kibbutz in Israel. Everyone wears white . The girls braid their hair and  make crowns of greens and flowers .  Families bring blankets and carpets and sit out on the grass and have a picnic. They eat dairy food.  The kids bring decorated baskets of fruit. There is a “parade” of tractors and farm equipment decorated for the holiday. This is followed by a lot of dancing and singing to celebrate the day that the Torah was given to the Jewish People on Mount Sinai.   KR ISRAEL

Peruvians put up a nativity scene at Christmas, not a tree.  In the Andean city of Cusco they buy the pieces for their nativity on Christmas Eve at the festival of Santorantikuy  — “buying of saints”. The city fills up as people come to Cusco from all over the region to sell little figures they have made of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Magi, the star and the stable animals, along with an array of ornaments, moss, lichen, ferns, bromeliads and other wild plants to create the backdrop. PF, PERU

One of the events I’m going to is Maha Kumbh Mela in February.  Maha Kumbh Mela held in Allahabad , India is the “ largest pilgrimage on earth.” It attracts between thirty and seventy million people.  The Maha Kumbh Mela comes every 144 years and will occur this Feb 2013.  Hindus gather at the Ganges for a purification bathing ceremony during the auspicious days. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies. The devout –including mystics, yogis and sadhus (in saffron sheets with powder and ashes on their skin), spend a month there. Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages in India- the Maha being the most important. DL, INDIA  (if you are interested, some of the other videos that appear at the end are fascinating)

People prepare their homes for Christmas. Dubrovnik  is covered in Christmas lights and a lot of Christmas trees on the Stradun. On Christmas Eve, lunch is traditionally fish. (codfish-usually)That is the same in many Catholic and Eastern European countries. In the afternoon we go to our first neighbors to wish them  a good Christmas Eve. We sing the traditional Christmas song from door to door. (Colenda song – a song that has been sung for centuries). In the evening most people go to confession to wait for Christmas in the best spirit. Then we go to midnight mass.On Christmas Day our families are altogether for lunch. It is a time of happiness and celebration. PV CROATIA

New Year is a special holiday in Japan. It is leaving of old and starting of new. At the end of the year, we clean the house and decorate the entrance gate with ornaments made of pine, bamboo and plum. Bonenkai parties (forget the year gathering) are held everywhere to leave the old worries behind, and on New Years Eve, just before the temple bells ring at midnight, we eat toshikoshi soba (end of year buckwheat noodle) wishing for another healthy new year to come.

Viewing the first sunrise of the New Year is the best way for a fresh start.  We visit the shrine or temple, buy o-mikuji ( random fortune written on strips of paper) and hope for another happy year. RH, JAPAN

Happy Holidays and Fly Safe,

JAZ