Photography Show and JED Talk

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January 2017 is starting out with a bang! I am giving two talks to the San Diego Historical Society followed by JED talk at Beth El Synagogue on January 24th and then with a Photography show in North Park San Diego! Please join me for some stories, some music, some drinks and photography. Proceeds to benefit Women of Coffee and Dharma Bum Temple.


Peace Through Understanding photography show

Peace Through Understanding photography show

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Buddist Rabbi- Jeff Zlotnik of Dharma Bums

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Originally printed in L’Chaim Magazine

In a small strip mall near SDSU is a little shop with buddha statues, incense and meditation books. The shop was once owned by a funny old Jewish man with a beard, Alfred Baron and his Thai wife. Being a octogenarian, he needed someone to take over as the business plunged further and further into debt while as he was desperate to retire. In 2009, after two long years, he thought he found the man to take it over. Jeff Zlotnik was a young man who grew up in San Diego going to temple Emanu-El every Saturday. A few years earlier Jeff came back from eleven months in Taiwan living as a Buddhist Monk. After struggling to expand with the San Diego Buddhist establishment, he decided to strike out on his own. Jeff’s community was small, they were barely paying the bills and so in no position to take on debt and run a shop full time. However, after weeks of persistence, he acquiesced to the old man and took on the shop with the idea that the shop would help bring in revenue to pay for the temple. The added revenue never came in, but the shop ended up serving as a way to get westerners to discover Buddhism as they shopped for charms, books and statues.

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Hate To Kill

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Forests burn all over Israel. They were set by terrorist arsonists who do not care if the forests burn down the environment, the trees, the… Read More »Hate To Kill

The Only People Who Understand Cubs Fans

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I was at my girlfriends’ last night when her friend JuliAna stopped by. JuliAnna and I began chatting about the Cubs and how even though none of us are baseball fans, we were caught up in the drama of the quest to return as Champions. The saga which came to momentous climax when they won the day before. In fact, I was practicing for my GRE test as game seven was concluding and I would check the score at every break and could hear the bar next door erupt every time they scored and loose all control when they won.

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Some Nightmares Turn Real

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We’re in a beige room. A bunker and I am messing with the dial.

“What was that” she asks

“I think something about killing” I think I heard

“Strange.” says another in the corner.

She has a worried look but nothing happens, so we try to brush it off. 

I twist the knob and there comes a chirp from the speaker, barely audible but you can hear it was something. Something ominous.

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Learning from Hate-Megan Phelps-Roper at ADL in San Diego

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Megan Phelps-Roper at ADL Turning Points in San Diego

The screen was dark but the sounds soul-piercing. Loud, cutting phrases of a pastor’s sermon, a hateful, angry pastor of the Westboro Church broke the silence. The violence of the words made children’s brows furl as several hundred of them looked down on his image on a large screen in front of them. His words made one as uncomfortable as a shot of cheap vodka. The video describing the teachings of a fundamentalist church in Kansas. Towards the end of the video, a woman with signs and eyes hidden by sunglasses speaks. In her voice is hatred, righteousness, pride and self-assuredness. Not fifteen feet from me, sits the same woman. Appearing similar and yet clearly, this is an entirely different person. Calmness and kindness seems to permeate her, a stark contrast to the face above me on the screen. She is Megan Phelps-Roper, the grand-daughter of Fred Phelps, the pastor of Westboro Baptist Church. Megan was born into the church and left it and her entire family four years prior. As I looked over, I imagined what it must feel like to hear her old self say those angry words, and thus, becoming even more uncomfortable. It was at this point that she quietly stood up and with the royal fluidity approached the podium, took the microphone and looked up at the middle school and high school students in front of her as the sound cut out and their eyes silently centered on her. Megan’s steady and clear voice takes over: “I am Megan Phelps-Roper and I was the person in that video.”

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On Buddha and Moses and The Basis Of Judaism: Justice

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Sitting inside a new brewery in San Diego (we have like 300) owned by a Jewish family that chose a Nordic theme, decorated with ship paintings and large round shields, I looked across the room at the 100 or so Jews as Rabbi Nadav spoke of Buddha and Moses. The Rabbi was educated at every Ivy league you can think of. With a trim goatee, glasses and brown kippa to match his velvet brown vest read from a print out about the fact that like Buddha, Moses had three experiences that changed the course of his life.

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Becoming Spiritual, Accepting G-d

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I remember my long walks with my mother. We lived with one grandmother and we would go and visit the other grandmother across town. Upon the death of my grandfather, my parents moved in with my father’s mother and I stayed with my mother’s mother as it was close to the school I had already started. Thus we would often walk from one grandmother’s home to the other and to pass the time, my mother would talk to me. It was on these walks that she would impart the wisdom of the twenty-something that she was at the time.

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Confronting Germany

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I stepped onto the mat and in front of me was the perfect specimen of Bavarian Arian superiority. He wasn’t tall, about my height, blond with wide shoulders and perfectly cropped hair. Barely an accent, but there was a distinct German look about him. The moment I heard “I’m from Bavaria.” I thought of Hitler and the birth of National Socialism, NAZI.

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