The Voice Heard Round The World

Image

The Voice Heard Round The World

‘Where words fail, music speaks.’ Hans Christian Andersen

I love to be able to travel when I am home. I watch The Voice. Reality TV and coffee are my vices. If you happen to live under a rock, it is a singing competition with celebrity judges. I love the Blind Auditions where the judges have to pick their team by hearing them. The audition is the only reality TV that we have left. You can’t fake an audition. You are actually watching someone vulnerable who’s life can be changed. I like seeing new talent emerge.

One night I was trying to catch up on some auditions, and I came across videos of blind auditions from The Voice Around The World. I was hooked. I’m obsessed with the Italian and the French judges. The Ukrainians and the Russians love heavy metal music and they like to make comments.  The Voice originated in Holland. I have no idea who any of these judges are. I watch the British version now as well. Here are my favorite auditions in no particular order. One is a battle round.

italy, France, Germany, Australia, Ukraine, UK, China, Russia, Holland, Poland.

Music always makes me feel that we are more the same than different.

Fly safe

JAZ

Advertisements

Yad Vashem, Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem

Image

Yad Vashem, Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem

“A country is not just what it does – it is also what it tolerates.’
Kurt Tucholsky (quote on the wall as you enter)

Yad Vashem is Israel’s Holocaust Memorial. I had been here many years ago. I knew what to expect. I went again now because I am going to visit Auschwitz in the spring. It was a winter weekday afternoon and the museum was not as crowded as usual. No photos are allowed. I knew what to expect and yet I was once again newly affected by the inhumanity of systematic cruelty.

The Holocaust History Museum was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, and occupies over 4,200 square meters. This museum takes you on a journey through in-depth displays telling the story of the Holocaust. There is a ten and half hour guided audio tour. You choose what you want to listen to. In many cases, the photos are enough.

Yad Vashem, means “a place and a name” in Hebrew and comes from the Book of Isaiah. It refers to the millions who were not given the dignity of a Jewish burial with a specified burial plot.

The chilling Hall of Names is a memorial to each and every Jew who perished in the Holocaust, housing an extensive collection of over two million “Pages of Testimony” – short biographies of each Holocaust victim, with room for six million in all.

Yad Vashem also recognizes and honors a number of non-Jewish people who helped save Jews during this bleak period. These heroes are called The Righteous Among The Nations.

The Children’s Memorial is located in an underground cave, enveloping you in darkness.

As your eyes adjust, you can make out flames of light representing the 1.5 million children who died during the Holocaust.

Recorded voices call out the names and ages of these innocent souls. A few days later there is another school killing spree in the United States.

I return to the hotel. On Israeli news that day, they report that Poland has passed a law making it a criminal offence to suggest that “the Polish nation” was in any way responsible for the murder of six million Jews. I spent a long time in the Polish section of the museum as I will be going to those places. There were photos of Polish people “colluding” and stories of Jews being reported by their neighbors. Three million Jews died in Poland – more than any other country.

It is impossible to visit the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem and not be moved, horrified and ashamed. How does this story relate to the present? It began with words, indifference and silence. Indifference and inaction never help the victims. It is our responsibility to speak for the children, the elderly, the abused women, the poor and the refugees. “Whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe.”

Fly safe,

JAZ

Twenty-Five Things That I Want To Do In 2018

Image

Twenty-Five That I Want to Do In 2018

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ursula Le Guin

Mediate every day. Maybe if I write it first I will have more luck.

Do More Yoga. Maybe if I write it second……

Go to Auschwitz.

Go To Poland.

Do a street art tour in Kraków.

See the Schindler factory.

Go to the Galápagos..

Read at least twenty books.

Follow a healthy diet.

Spend some time in London.

Peace in the house.

Go to the Warsaw Ghetto.

Go somewhere in Scandinavia.

Go To Israel.

Pay it forward.

Cook something besides eggs.

Work on being fearless.

See the sunset on the beach every day when I am home.

Sail through Peruvian or Ecuadorian Amazon.

Go to beaches of Los Organos and Vichayito, Peru.

Walk my dog every day.

Be more politically active.

Spend time with my god-daughter in Tel Aviv.

Do the Graffiti tour of Tel Aviv.

Go to Garachico, Tenerife.

Happy New Year and Fly Safe,

JAZ

 

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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.21.09 PM

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

Sugarloaf and Christ The Redeemer, Rio, Brazil

Sugarloaf and Christ The Redeemer

“Some people travel for the culture, or the place’s history, or the sheer experience. Our aim is total dissolution. We travel from Egypt to Estonia, big clunky blocks of metal hanging from our necks, naïve and stuttering and asking all the right questions at all the right times—“Is this the Great Wall I’ve been hearing so much about?”—flashing a few photos and no one looks twice, except maybe to point and laugh but we are just harmless Americans come for a tour of life on the other side.”  Chris Campanion

Rio’s two biggest tourist attractions are on two famous hills overlooking the city.

Christ the Redeemer is one of the most visited sites in Rio.The famous statue is the largest Art Deco statue in the world and the second largest of Christ. The largest is in Świebodzin, Poland, built in 2010. Designed by Polish-French sculptor Paul Landowski, it took nine years to build and finally opened in 1931. The ceremony was supposed to have been lit by electric lights remotely turned on by Marconi in Rome, but the weather was so bad the signal couldn’t get through.

it is located on the top of a mountain known as Corcovado. You can take a van or a train from Cosmic Velho. If you go during any global sporting event, the lines will be ridiculous.

IMG_1329

If you are adventurous, you can hike up. We took a jeep tour with a tour guide who knew everything about everything. We got a lot of World Cup and Olympic inside information.

IMG_1362

You will experience the ninety eight foot statue with hordes of tourists all trying to take the perfect selfie.

IMG_5138

The security guards are the nicest ones in the world. If you climb on something to get a better photo, they so nicely ask you to get down that you aren’t sure if they mean it.

IMG_1361

The guards are busy taking pictures of everyone and showing you where to go to get the perfect shot. Im so used to security guards who think their uniform means they have to be large and in charge.

IMG_1360

Risto Redentor (as it is called in Portuguese) is an architecture wonder, a tourist attraction, a religious symbol and a Rio de Janeiro’s landmark. The views from up there are amazing but check the weather before you go up because the weather in Rio changes quickly and the Christ is often covered in clouds.

IMG_1217

The giant statue is struck by lightning several times a year and is constantly being repaired. The city seems willing to pay for multiple restorations, even though the pale gray-green soapstone that covers the statue is becoming hard to find.

IMG_5120
The other must do in Rio is Sugarloaf Mountain, located in Urca and probably no where near where you are staying. (View from the Christ)

IMG_1343

It is at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. (Olympic water events will be here)

IMG_1223

Sugarloaf Mountain is 1,299 ft high above the harbor in Rio de Janeiro.

IMG_5102

The mountain is named for its resemblance to a traditional shape of a concentrated refined loaf of sugar.

IMG_1238

You can take a bus, taxi or tour to get there. It is called Pao De Acucar in Portuguese if you need to tell the driver. (my name is there now)

IMG_1245

A glass-walled cable car carries 65 passengers on to the mountain every 20 minutes. (the first cable car is there)

IMG_1195

Sugar Loaf Mountain is also one of the largest and most popular urban rock climbing destinations in the world. There are 270 different routes to explore in the area as you climb high above the Atlantic Ocean and the sprawling Rio de Janeiro. Or if you are like me, you can watch.

IMG_1233

The views are stunning and even with a lot of people, you dont feel cramped and can always a find a good place for photographs.

IMG_1251

Fly safe,

JAZ

The Delicatessen – Growing Up In New York

The Delicatessen- Growing Up in New York

“As I see it, there are two kinds of people in this world; people who love delis and people you shouldn’t associate with.” Damon Runyon

I just saw Deli Man. a documentary film that chronicles the delicatessens that opened up in the twenties on the lower east side of New York City. . They started as German restaurants. As the Eastern European Jewish immigrants began coming to America they brought the foods of Lithuania, Romania, Hungary, Poland and Russia. The film tells the stories of  the rise of the delis and the Jewish immigrants. Their success and technology erased the old traditional urban blocks with everything you need run by mom and pop storefronts and delis on every block. In the 1930s New York had fifteen hundred Jewish delis. Now there are about twenty left. As the Jewish population assimilates and we all become foodies, we don’t just eat Jewish food anymore.

In other cultures  such as Mexican, Italian and Asian, there are always new immigrants coming in and cooking and wanting the food from their countries. There is no more Eastern European Jewish culture. The ones who live here have assimilated and the Holocaust took care of the rest. The Deli Culture is dying out.

There were two or three small delis on a block where I was growing up. There were larger deli restaurants as well. The people who worked in the delis had been there forever. They were the old timers and warranted a certain amount of respect. There was a kind of familiarity that the waiters and waitresses had – like they knew you for your whole life, even if they didn’t. They could be funny, mildly insulting and roll their eyes while you ordered everything on the side or asked for the fat to be cut off the corn beef.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 10.43.03 AM

I was brought up on natural and health foods at a time that no one was. People who ate like this and exercised regularly were called heath nuts. Now they are called normal. Everyone that I knew except my family was eating Wonder Bread, Hershey Bars, Frosted Flakes and drinking Cokes and lemonade.There was no Whole Foods or McDonald’s.

We had fruit and vegetable stores so we always had plates of fresh sliced fruit and vegetables after school – not that anyone wanted that, but it was there so we ate it. We made our own candy out of peanut butter, raw coconut and honey. It was definitely more fun to make it with our hands than eat it. Our package desserts included Fig Newtons and something inedible called halvah. (It wasn’t till I went to Turkey that I found out that when it was served fresh it was delicious.) I thought Fig Newtons were inedible also. I can’t believe they are still around. We had some green herbal thing in a salt shaker that they tried to pass off as salt. We drank orange juice and we could have had a V8 instead of the cokes we longed for. We ate meat that was very rare, sometimes it looked right off the cow – blood for the blood. I don’t think I ever ate brisket until I was much older and to this day I do not like potted meat (in Yiddish gedempte flaisch)

We did not eat out because the kitchens were dirty and unsanitary in most restaurants – according to my father. It was before the rating system and they probably were. We did not use aerosol sprays because he said there was a hole in the atmosphere – something only he knew about so I was sure it was untrue. We did not have a car because it caused pollution and had to ride our bikes everywhere or take public transportation. Everyone else had cars. I was sure he was wrong about that as well.

But for some reason, delis were ok. I never asked why. Maybe it was the food of their childhood, their parents who I never met, the lower East Side of Manhattan – food they knew. We could have knishes, blintzes, sour pickles from a barrel, frankfurters, muenster cheese, peppery roast beef and they would let us order a chocolate egg cream. Occasionally we would have pastrami and corned beef sandwiches on fresh rye bread.  We ate a lot of smoked fish. Those small smoked golden white fish  had a lot of bones but they tasted good and I guess they were cheap. We were not rich and lox was expensive even then. My mother would buy a ¼ lb of lox and could easily feed six people on bagel and lox sandwiches that were mostly cream cheese. I think those neighborhood delis probably kept me alive because there was not much I was eating at home. I stopped in one every day.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 10.45.06 AM

We could not have salami or bologna because “we didn’t know what was in it and there were probably chemical additives”. I grew up bringing ham sandwiches to school for lunch and lying and saying it was bologna because the Jewish people in my neighborhood did not eat ham. We used to eat Lithuanian black pumpernickel bread. I dreamed about having white bread sandwiches like everyone else. I’m not much of a bread person now unless I see that black whole grain bread of my childhood and then I can eat the whole loaf. Mayonnaise on meat still grosses me out and I’ve lived in California for a long time.

The other foods in the delis were weird to me. “What is that?,” we would ask. Stuffed kishka – skin – ew really?), chopped liver–yuk, , gribenes – fried chicken skin -uh, schmaltz, -chicken fat – gross, borscht – beet soup, (I cannot eat beets in any form), kasha –buckwheat, kreplach – dough floating in soup with liver and onions in it, kugel -noodle pudding, matzoh balls – dumplings made from matzoh that were really big and heavy), tzimmes – root vegetables and varnishkes – pasta with kasha. It all sounded awful and I’ve never liked it. But when I see it and smell it now, it always reminds me of my mom and the stories she would tell of how her mother made those foods.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 3.01.17 PM

When I turned thirteen years old,  I started having summer jobs and my own money. I began going to diners, coffee shops, Italian and Chinese restaurants. I drank cokes. I ate pistachio nuts with the red dye on them that got all over your fingers, red M and Ms (we grew up in fear of red dye #2 and BHA and BHT – which was a preservative in packaged sugar cereal),  Bonomo Turkish Taffy – the kind that was really bad for your teeth and Carvel swirl ice cream cones.  I was rebelling. But NY delis were always around. You could smell the food as you walked down the street. It was the comfortable smell of my childhood and I thought it would always be there.

With the demise of Delis and  the Yiddish language comes the loss of our Eastern European cultural roots. With the pursuit of complete assimilation into American culture, and the absence of new Eastern European Jewish immigrants, we lost our history and we are losing our food.

I did not pass on the cultural traditions and Yiddish phrases of their grandparents to my children. They don’t know about their life on the lower east side of NY in the thirties and forties. They don’t know the stories from Yiddish theatre and vaudeville that my mother used to tell or the Eastern European melodies I heard growing up.  They don’t know the old Jewish comedians, the Borscht Belt, the Catskills or that we were the people of the clarinet. But they do know a good pastrami sandwich and a black and white cookie and that Nate and Al’s Deli makes a delicious chicken soup when you are sick.

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 2.58.52 PM

Fly safe,

JAZ