Sunday, December 23, 2007
Isn't this sunset beautiful! I shot it last week from the window of our Jewish-Arab msic program at Safed College. The weather was cold, yet the beauty warmed our hearts.
Birds are singing in the background as I post this blog. Winter rays filter through the blinds of myh living room window warming my fingers as they type these words.
IT is Christmas eve in Galilee. I can sense the Christ spirit through the quiet, through the soft quality of silent reflection which accompanies my morning meditation.
I am not a Christian. My spiritual proclivities are committed to a relationship with what I call the "Source of all". This includes all. How could there be anything separate from the Divine Source? There is a soft and supple quality to this Source, a roundness that continually beckons me to dull my own rough, sharp edges.
I experience the Christ spirit with the soft energy expressed through the Shechina - connected to the mystic Jewish tradition of Kabbalah founded in Safed, twenty minutes up the road from my home. You can see it in the picture.
Because Israel is a Jewish state, there are no huge Christmas sales, or commercial hype which bombards the Western world. In the Christian villages of Galilee, there will be family meals and services in the churches. But there is little hype, allowing for the true Christ spirit to get through. There is something special in the air here in Galilee. If you want to experience it first hand, the Sacred Peace tour set for March is just for this reason.
Someone suggested I rent the DVD Goya's Ghosts about the historic period of the Inquisition. It too me only five to ten minutes to decide that this was NOT the movie for me. I have been on the stretcher long enough. I have persecuted myself and others enough with my insecurities, even in the name of good.
On this Christmas eve morning I receive the gift of forgiveness and compassion towards all those jagged edges of my soul and wish all of you a sense of deep calm that you truly deserve.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
It is the day before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish religion. Here in Israel, everything stops. There are no cars in the streets, and in the cities, one can watch a parade of bicycle riders using the day to reflect on wheels.
For me, the day comes as a culmination of about six months of deep internal inventory, which came to a climax on August 31st, my 50th birthday with more time out to look at the last 50 years of my life and make decisions about how I want to live the following ones.
This summer I took time out to regroup and it has been awesome. I am very grateful to all of you who have supported my vision by reading this blog or my newsletter, purchased my music come to one of my courses or on a sacred peace tour. Your contribution has helped me to grow and learn so much.
Fifty years is an awesome period of life. At the pinnacle of health, no longer a youth, no longer searching for purpose, only to fulfill the purpose of life to it's max. I am learning more and more each day, that the point is to enjoy.
And enjoy I have, this summer (as you can see by my delight with my birthday cake)!
Hope to hear from you soon, and to hopefully see you soon.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
This is a video of Jewish and Galilee music from this summer at the open air amphitheater in my village of Amirim. Please enjoy.
Later I will upload some more really cool videos I took this summer. Amongst them...
I got to go by myself to the museum of the ancient Canaanite Temple of Hatzor in the Galilee. Unfortunately, not enough people seem to be interested in the archeological remains. There is alot of cool stuff in the museum. Watch and enjoy my musical tour. I sing while I explain what it is that I am seeing in this thirteen minute video tour of the museum in Kibbutz Ayelet HaShahar.
If you didn't think there was a direct connection between ancient Egypt and Israel, Cyprus, Galilee, Mesopotamia, well, this will show it.
It was pretty cool!!!!
Monday, July 23, 2007
Byron Katie came to Israel in July 2007. More than 1800 Jews, Christians and Muslims gathered to ask themselves four simple questions as a means to relieve their suffering and contribute to living peace.
Eliana Gilad, founder of Voices of Eden, who also organizes living peace tours in the Holy land, interviewed Tsila Hartman who along with her Arab colleague, Raouda Masalcha, who took it upon themselves to mobilize the Arab community to meet with Katie during her visit.
During the hour long teleconference, Gilad and Hartman, along with participants from all around the globe joined to explore how we can go beyond our inner barriers and beyond to connect with our inner peace. Click to listen here.
Tsila Hartman shared the process of organizing this event along with Arik Peled, who along with his wife Vered, brought Byron Katie to Israel for the landmark event, which you can watch here.The response to the teleconference was so inspiring that a follow up web conference will be planned to allow for the good to grow. Listen how one woman was moved to tears to participate in a constructive activity generated from the Middle East.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Last Saturday - more than 1500 people gathered in Tel Aviv to consciously participate in a process of self inquiry. The following day, another 300-400 Arabs gathered with Byron Katie to do the same.
With a bit of luck, Tsila, who is responsible for the Arab sector, will also participate in the teleconference, along with both Jews and Arabs who were at these historic living peace events.
Please keep posted. We will be sending out details over the next few days. Mark July 23rd on your calendars.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Yesterday I had the good fortune to spend the day with 1500 other Israelis who gathered to meet with Byron Katie and let go of their limiting and negative beliefs, source of all suffering.
Today, she is meeting with another large group of Arabs to do the same.
If you want to see conscious peace making in action.... watch the above!!!!
If you want to REALLY contribute to peace - come join us. Alex Peled did a fantastic job of putting the event together. As we say in these parts... KOL HA KAVOD!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
It is nine am on Sunday morning. A new week unfolds... in Israel, the workweek begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday... In another few hours my partner Boaz comes to pick me up and we are on our way to Jerusalem for some meetings.
In the afternoon we will meet with peacemaker Eliyahu Maclean of Jerusalem Peacemakers At 6 pm today, we meet again in the old city for the next installment of the Hug Around Jerusalem. The Hug had such an effect that the people at Damascus Gate asked that we continue. Eliyahu reported that there were crowds of people at the Damascus Gate - and that it excited him to witness such a spontaneous outburst of positive energy. The hug was so moving. Take look at this clip where we chanted Peace - Shalom - Salaam into the walls. James Twyman was moved to bring a group of peacemakers from the US to join us... there were others from around the world as well.
Here is a gorgeous compilation of the entire event, you can get a feel of the different angles and angels who were there:
Please join us today with your heart... and if you feel so moved, consider joining us in person. I ask you to please consider coming to the Holy land yourself to witness the good that is growing here. Yes, you may need to overcome your fear of the Middle East. The good news is, that by freeing yourself of that fear, you free yourself from all your fears. Please remember that your idea of the Middle East comes from images portrayed through the popular media, whose job it is to sensationalize.
What if you were to choose to experience life from a WIDER LENS?!!!!?!!!!!!
I GUARANTEE you that when you come here, your mind will be expanded 1000%, your transformation so bold and bright, that you will never see life the same again.
You will meet real people living peacefully - in a place you believe is filled with only hatred and war. What we focus upon increases.
Good is calling you... Are you ready to answer?
Please do something kind for yourself today... YOU DESERVE IT!!!
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Is this picture sweet or what! I just received it from a friend by email. I am impressed by the power of it's simplicity. I am also moved by the power of many to create stunning beauty, just by BEING TOGETHER.
I write simply to share this simplicity with you. In my own small way, this I reach out to you.
Please remember to connect with your goodness today. I promise to practice this myself.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Here is a beautiful man from the group hugging the walls around Jerusalem, as James Twyman and I embrace and join him and others around the walls. It was a beautiful day.
Earlier, we met in the park surrounding the old city. Spontaneous gatherings, meditation, music, dance and other activities were led by those so moved to contribute. I was witness to a beautiful meditation led by LaSara Firefox and a few other people who together, gave reverence to mother earth. You can see the beauty in their faces and hear it in their voices.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
What I love about living in the Middle East is how dynamic life is. All you have to do is finish one thing, and the next event begings. Never a dull moment! The good thing about this is that it creates a sense of aliveness. I am so grateful for this quality. It makes life really fun.
So, the Pilgrims of Peace (see posts below) just left a few days ago, and now Jimmy Twyman is here with a great group of people who he brought. We had a great time together presenting on the Gandhi King Peace Train - Living Legends of Non-Violence conference. Tomorrow promises to be spectacular as well. Check out the Jerusalem Hug website here. Even if you cannot be there with us physically, you can join us virtually through the website.
In honor of the Jerusalem Hug, I am offering a free gift throughout May. For every Voices of Eden cd purchased this month, I will add in a free guide to "Your Inner Jerusalem". This is a beautiful guide to help you reconnect to those divided parts inside of yourself. You can offer it as a gift to your friends as well. Order cds here.
Friday, May 18, 2007
This photo is from the Bedouin Women's Weaving Cooperative:
Steve Puzarne and Rebecca Jupiter in Akko:
Wilfredo Benitez has a keen eye for photography. Can't wait to see HIS photos!
Jerry Stinson & Joan Waller at rest:
A bride and groom were taking wedding photos at the Port of Akko when we were there:
And a Bedouin girl who watches us from behind the chicken coop wall of their make shift home.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.
These are the words of Father Elias Chacour, author of the best-selling book "Blood Brothers," founder of the Mar Elias Educational Institute in Israel and three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
We met with Elias Abu Janina, Vice Principal of this interfaith institute, with classes from kindergarten through college, that enrolls more than 5,000 children, including Christians, Muslims, Druze and Jews, all of whom study together.
"Meeting with Chacours' place, was the most inspirational message of the day.", said Wilfredo Benitez. We were on the bus and I was taking notes for this blog so you share a more visceral experience from the participants themselves. "It was inspirational because it tells us that vision without accompanied by action leads to no where. It's stifles. It has no life, unless you put your belief into action. "Vice versa...", he added, "an action that is not inspired by a vision in the end, is an empty shell. It doesn't build anything. That is why it inspired me."
Jetlag, too little sleep, foreign smells, and group dynamics all contribute to what Day Three of a group tour is endearingly referred to as "crash day". This, in addition to the powerful sentiments expressed by people they have been meeting with would make the impact of this well known phenomenon even more likely.
The heated discussion with the Israeli-Palestinian Alternative Voice in the Galilee group stirred emotions and brought to light the various and sometimes conflicting views of how to best handle the inequality between Israel and it's indigenous Palestinian citizens.
Knowing this, we planned a meeting in the evening with the Jewish - Arab - Palestinian Akko theater company to allow for the pilgrims of peace to express their experience so far. The program opened with the dance of the whirling dervishes, and was followed by an introduction by founders Moni Yosef - Managing Director & Actor and Khaled Abu Ali - Actor & Director, and other members of the interfaith staff.
Moni asked the pilgrims to please introduce themselves and to share their impressions thus far, of their visit to Israel. With my trusty laptop in hand, I transcribed their replies (thank God for my fast typing skills - to whom I owe my eight grade typing teacher a HUGE thanks... who knew then, how practical that skill would actually become in the age of the computer revolution):
Alima Sherman: "Having a heart that is heavy and hopeful."
Rebecca Jupiter: "I am an actress and singer so it is very exciting for me to be here right now. Thank you."
Yona Weisman (tour guide): "Seeing another perspective even after being here for so many years. Every day brings another emotion, another calm."
Jerry Stinson: "Yesterday I heard the hope and the struggle. When we were at at kibbutz struggling to find hope, and then we went into the west bank and it was painful.
Paul Waller: "I have visited Israel once before doing the tourist thing. This time it is talking with real people seeing the problems and it is enriching."
Joan Waller: "I was born in Canada. I can hear his emotion and for me it is a colidescope of feelings and emotions, I appreciate that it is a crazy country and can be frustrating. At home we work with a dialogue group with Israeli's and Muslims. This has been an intense experience for us of hearing peoples pain, so I don't know where I am. But I know it is exactly what I need to be experiencing."
Steve Puzarne (group leader and tour co-founder): "I am a cantor but I have been doing peace work for a while. I had an opportunity to be involved with Rabbis for Human Rights, and it became clear that unless you come here and experience directly, you never get to see Jews and Arabs actually trying to get along. Unless I could show them first hand, they would never believe me. These are brave people. They had no track record and they came with me anyway. We are hoping that with this foundation, that we can bring hundreds and hundreds of people to share in friendship and love to change the negative impressison of what is going on."
Wilfredo Benitez: "I am American Puerto Rican and Cuban . I am Pastor of a congregation that worships in four languages, Spanish, English, Vietnamese and Korean. We have a truly multifaith congregation – everything that you can imagine. If we truly practice our religions we will have an easier time together."
Boaz Gershon: (My partner). "I moved to the Galillee 25 years ago. My wife is a lawyer. She has worked for 25 years in Akko in a Muslim law firm. We have created a start up – we are starting to do something that hasn't been done before. There are some aspects that are very simple, buses… hotel, hardware, but where we speak of the software, the people, we are writing it right now, all of this will go into the melting pot which is very advanced in what is called, the travel business. "
The above photo was taken in my village of Amirim, a vegetarian health village situated in the hills of Galilee, on the road to Safed (Tsfat) in the Meron Mountains. The group had just arrived from a long day of touring and visiting with peace projects of Kibbutz Metzer and the humanitarian health project of Middleway in the village of Barta'a. The morning found them on a walking tour of Nazareth, to the White Mosque and to the Church of the Annunciation where Rev. Wilfredo Benitez lead the group in a moving meditation.
I don't know if the photo relays the energy with which they arrived to Amirim after a deeply moving day - even with jetlag from the many hours of travel the day before.
It was deeply gratifying for me to receive them at my home and the Voices of Eden Peace Center for dinner and a healing music program. After a silent meditation under the ancient carob tree to acknowledge the powerful meetings and dynamics experienced over the last twenty four hours, we sat down to a lovely vegetarian meal so lovingly prepared by Nati.
After dinner, it was not at all difficult to invite people into the healing music center to lie on the mattresses for a healing music meditation. This ancient healing and transformational music is intentionally wordless, bypassing the intellect, allowing the listener to connect within him or herself. The musicians of the project are Jewish and Arab... I was not playing for more than a few minutes before the lovely sound of rhythmic snores began to accompany my singing and drumming... In other situations, one would take this as an offence. For me, the sounds of deep sleep are a profound compliment.
After the music meditation, I took dictation from the Pilgrims wanting to add to this blog, before moving on to their hotel... and more... welcomed sleep. Unfortunately, the computer "bleeped" before the comments were uploaded... drats...
You'll just have to read the next blog to see what people had to say... I began to record the notes FIRST on a Word Decument.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
The Pilgrims of Peace in this photo are so peaceful that even 20+ hours of travel from Los Angeles and New York to Tel Aviv could not dampen their spirits. The above photo was taken at Ben Gurion airport by our bus driver Ghazi, just after loading the baggage and safely bringing us to our first stop - Nazareth.
Shown in the picture (top row from top left to right) are:
Rev. Wilfredo Benitez, an Episcopalian reverend from Los Angeles who has been involved in multi-faith work for many years. Wilfredo provided us with a beautiful prayer just before our meal, which set the stage for our wonderful 1st eve together.
Cantor Steven Puzarne, Leader of this Pilgrimage of Peace, without whom the others could not have participated. Steve brings music back into the hearts and souls of Jewish congregations and has been involved in interfaith peace work for many years.
Paul Waller, a former aerospace executive, long time member of Beyond War, who retired early and dedicates his time to interfaith and dialogue work. His smile and gentle nature are clearly reflected in the photo.
Joan Waller, Paul's long time partner, a peace advocate who through her affiliation with humanistic Judaism met Libby and Len Traubman and started a Jewish - Palestinian and Multi-faith dialogue.
Vanessa Karam, a progressive Muslim from Los Angeles, who came on this tour to discover how she can better contribute to positive aspects of peace within a constructive interfaith setting.
(Bottom row from left to right):
Yona Wiseman - the wise woman of Tel Aviv, who is our fabulous tour guide. Yona has a wonderful sense of the multi-faceted, multi-layered realities which make up this incredible holy land. She shares with an open heart and spirit.
Rebecca Jupiter - a beautiful creative artist and singer from New York, member of the leading edge spiritual Jewish synagogue of Bnei Jershurun on the upper West Side (affectionately know as BJ for short.
Alima Sherman - a beautiful and sensitive woman from Southern California (who is holding the sign), member of Rev. Jerry Stinsons congregation in Long Beach and who as member of a progressive Sufi order, herself embodies the notion of "interfaith".
Rev. Jerry Stinson - Sr. Minister of the 1st Congregational Church of Long Beach, CA; first person to sign up for the tour. Jerry is a long time peace activist, who was waiting for an interfaith peace group program to visit Israel-Palestine.
Eliana Gilad - Me, co-creator of this fabulous group with Steve. I had fun making the welcome sign on the train ride from the Galilee to the airport. People watched with interest and asked about the program. It was so exciting to share with them.
In Nazareth we were met by logistics wizard & my partner at Sacred Peace Tours, Boaz Gershon with our dear friends and local interfaith Peace Leaders: Tareq Shihada, Director Tourist Office, Municipality of Nazareth and Kamel Barghouti, School Pricipal and Community Center Leader and head of the Nazareth English Camp. (They are sitting to the right and left of me.) Our welcoming ceremony and dinner couldn't have been in a better setting - that other than the Sudfeh restaurant situated just above Mary's Well Square in an ancient building.
Dinner was delicious. After our main course, before coffee and dessert, Steve suggested that each person in the group take a turn to share what had brought them to participate in this Pilgrimage of Peace, so that we could all get to know one another, and to help us create the best experience over the next week, such that everyone's intentions will be more than met - and all of us will contribute to the highest good.
I so enjoyed listening to everyone and learning about each one's different motivation for coming, as well as each one's unique way of seeing the world.
The group is about to arrive here to the Voices of Eden peace center for dinner and a healing music evening, so I've gotta go prepare. I am hoping to give the computer over to them during the evening (if they are not dying from jetlag)- to provide their impressions of their first twenty four hours.
They have spent the day in Nazareth and at Kibbutz Metzer, Maiser in Israel and Barta'a in Palestine to learn about the complex situation, a humanitarian vlounteer health clinic set up by the friends of Middleway peace organization and how Kibbutz Metzer turned a tragic and bloody terror killing as a challenge to connect with their Palestinian and Arab neighbors working together cooperatively in these very trying times.
Monday, May 07, 2007
As part of the healing music program to address post trauma in Galilee in both the Jewish and Arab sectors, I looked for partners who could provide me with an opportunity to reach both populations in a joint venue.
I met with Tali Omer and Dalia Budinger of the Galilee Development office to see how we could maximize the use of the grant I was given to provide free music for the public health, by joint venture and cooperation for the highest good. In the aftermath of last summer's war in Northern Israel, both the Jewish and Arab populations were hit badly. My intent is to use the destruction as a spring board to create a phoenix of healing.
Dalia introduced me to Susan Niren's director of Knafayim, a non-profit group which takes physically handicapped and blind youth ages 18-21 from their homes to live together communally so that they can learn skills to live independent, productive lives and make a positive contribution to society. The group is comprised of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, Ethiopian and Russian girls and boys.
Two days after I met with Susan to suggest the possibility of conducting a live research testing of volunteers from her group, she called to say that the date was set.
Konstantin Pavlides, the researcher who is based in London, decided to volunteer his services and fly to Israel to test this group before and after listening to Voices of Eden live music which I would be provided by me and my students, giving them a chance to expand their own healing music skills. We would then present these results during our presentation at the UNITED NATIONS on April 27. Joining us in the program was Amrita Cottrell, director of the Healing Music Organization who told her amazing story of healing herself of cancer through conscious use of voice. She also played the beautiful crystal bowls.
The research conducted was upon the effect of the conscious use of voice upon mind, body and spirit of the listener. The technology was developed by Dr. Konstantin Karatkov, with whom Konstantin Pavlides studied.
Here are pictures of Yossi's energy field, measured before listening to the music (notice the holes on the right side) and after (notice how the entire field has been strengthened):
I will post more later with a more detailed description of the process.
Can you say "Maklubeh"?
Maklubeh is a Bedouin delicacy that the peace activists and multifaith religious leaders from Los Angeles will be experiencing on their weeklong Pilgrimage of Peace Tour in Israel-Palestine. This pioneering social action tour is led by Cantor Steven Puzarne, a close friend of mine for more than 40 years. It has been an inspiring experience of living peace and growth to co-create this tour together.
Puzarne has gathered an intimate group of fabulous community and religious peace leaders who are courageously visiting Israel and Palestine to support the countless unsung individuals and group peace activists working at a grass roots level here in the Middle East. I will introduce you to them as we progress through their ten day visit.
You can follow them on their trip as they post to the Pilgrimage of Peace blog that Puzarne has set up especially for this tour.
Check back here as well, as I will be posting more of our experiences during their stay. You'll get to meet many wonderful peace makers here in Israel and in Palestine.
I am so excited about this tour as it is physical proof to me that peace is growing. It is the also a physical manifestation of the vision that brought me to Israel some fifteen years ago. A major part of the inner directive is to bring people from over the seas to the Galilee to share the healing which has already begun. This quiet peace, being lived by many already, is quiet and soft. It does not shout, nor "market itself" to "get ahead". You won't find it in the newspaper headlines or on the mass media screens. You'll only recognize it by experiencing it.
I am so proud of Steve and the tour group, plus my partner Boaz Gershon, and our Palestinian partners Mark Garbett and Mark Khano of Guiding Star, for helping me make this first project of the Sacred Peace Tours a reality. We are already a living example of peace in the middle east, and it is a joy to be able to share this with other open minded people.
Bast or, the ancient Egyptian cat goddess and Hathor, the ancient Egyptian Cow goddess presided over healing and beauty and music. Through them, they helped people connect to their creative force and to bring new forms to the world.
My cat Mippies, who passed on while I was touring overseas, was a modern embodiment of these goddesses. How grateful I am to Mippies for the ten years of frienship we shared. Mippies followed on my heels to everywhere I would go. She would open the door on her own by jumping on her hind legs and push the door knob with her paw. The only frustrating thing about that, was that she never quite mastered shutting the door behind her!!!
Mippies was sent to earth from the Cat Embassy. Those who were formerly avowed cat haters, changed their minds when they encountered Mippies. She could sniff them out a mile away. She would ever so gracefully rub gently against them, and then shyly jump into their laps, purring ever so demurely. No one could refuse.
Whenever a special group of people would gather for healing music, especially during classes with my students, she would insist upon participating. Students found it cute, especially when she would speak. Now, that she is gone, I realize that she was guiding us all along.
After the first days of shocking loss and grief, I am now feeling her presence even more.
Thank you Mippies, from the bottom of my heart. For your support, your friendship, and your unconditional love. I feel it even more today.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, suffice to say that the disruptions also put a chink into your sense of inner peace. Would you agree?
What if it were the other way around, because of your lack of inner peace, time management becomes a battlefield of the wills.
Try this: Take a moment to contemplate that which is most important to you, meaning, that which would take you one step closer to that which is nearest and dearest to your heart. What is the next one little step you could take right now, to go move towards that goal? Feel the resistance already coming up?
Now is the PERFECT moment, to practice time management for Inner Peace. Instead of running into more DOING. Take this very moment, to take ONE LITTLE STEP, even if it is acknowledging yourself for stopping to take the moment for yourself. The amount of time is unimportant. The fact that you DO IT, IS.
If you are really courageous, take ONE MORE LITTLE STEP NOW. Even if that step is saying YES, to yourself, you have already moved two steps further in the direction of your dreams.
How do you feel NOW? Once we take affirmative action, even, or especially when it comes from the inside out - even when it stays inside for awhile, provides us with a greater sense of Inner Peace.
How do you find this process for yourself? I am interested in your comments.
All the best,
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I left early to avoid traffic coming into the center of the country. My destination: Bar Ilan University where I have been waiting to research material on ancient music for my upcoming book, Miriam's Secret.
For me, a music library in Israel is like a candy store to a wide eyed child. Five hours was just enough to touch the tip of the iceberg, leaving me just enough time to make copies of the salient topics of my interest... ancient percussion in Israel/Palestine... use of instruments by priestesses at the time... sacred dance in the temples. There was alot to choose from.
I will share with you in coming posts what I am discovering, both in the literature, and more importantly, what I am finding in the field not far from my Galilee home.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
"Is it serious?", I asked my friend Leah, who has lived across the road from him for years. "Yes", she replied. I immediately cancelled my previous plans and decided to join them.
We arrived to Ziv Hospital in Safed to find Shmuel in a fine mood. He was sitting speaking to his son Yosi. A grouchy nurse came to measure his blood sugar. "Why the sour face dear", he asked the lady. When she saw that we were all looking at her, she changed her countenance. Mr. Olstein operated as doctor and nurse in this instant.
Mr. Shmuel Olstein has made a generous contribution to my life in a seemingly small, yet major way. One day we were speaking about his experiences as a prisoner in a German concentration camp during World War II. "How did you ever survive?", I asked him incredulously. He responded, "By the way of three small but significant things:
First of all, I would constantly repeat to myself, 'I am leaving here alive and well. This too shall pass'. Secondly, every night, there was about fifteen to twenty minutes break when the guards changed duty. I led a culture club. We would huddle together next to the bunk beds, each day someone would take a turn to give a lecture or share something valuable that they had experienced in life. This would keep our brains clear and functioning.
We were given very little to eat each day. Our meal would usually consist of a half a cup of light broth with a very small cube of potato or vegetable. The third thing that really kept me alive was that before I ate, I always took a piece of my portion of vegetable, no matter how small, and gave it to someone who was suffering more than I."
Three days ago, I attended Shmuel's funeral in the valley of our green garden of eden here in the Galilee.
You can tell alot about a person by who attends their funeral. It is a certain measurement of what kind of mark they have made upon this world.
At Shmuel Olstein's funeral there were many people in attendance; old friends from his past, and young people who would meet with him in the village or at the health spa where he liked to hang out and chat with the neighbors and holiday guests.
Alhtough his body may have parted, Shmuel lives eternally through those acts of kindness and humour which touched so many lives during his eighty some odd years on this earth.
This truly makes Shmuel Olstein a living master of peace.