Thursday, February 27, 2014

Have Faith in the Poker Bible

Regular visitors to this blog are aware that I write on a number of varied topics, from reports of my travels in Israel and Bulgaria, to book reviews and writing tips. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others. I hope that my writing will encourage people to visit the places I've gone. And I also hope that by reporting my journey to becoming a self-published author, other aspiring writers will find direction and be encouraged to pursue their own writing projects.

I wish that creative writing could be my full time occupation but like most of us, I work a full time day job. What most of you probably don't realize is that I promote online poker. My efforts are targeted at countries where online poker is legal and regulated, so U.S. citizens will not, unfortunately, become paying customers of the products and websites I promote.

That said, I think everyone will enjoy my latest creative poker project = Poker and the Bible.

Many people think that Poker evolved into the game we know only in the last 150 years, but in reality, Poker is a very ancient game. The patriarchs played Poker, as did the pharaohs of Egypt. The Poker Commandments have been guiding players for thousands of years. The ancient Poker gospel has been revealed at last as a humorous movie and a slide show.

Watch the Poker Bible Movie and read the Poker Bible.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Coptic Christians in the Old City of Jerusalem

Who are the Copts? When walking the streets of Jerusalem's Old City, one comes across mysterious signs announcing the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate but offering no clue who the Copts are.

The Coptic Orthodox Christians form one of the smallest Christian communities in Israel. There are only some 3,500 Copts in Jerusalem and Nazareth. In Egypt, where the Coptic Church originated and is based in the city of Alexandria, there are over 20 million adherents. The Coptic Church is actually one of the oldest in Israel.

My wife and I learned about the Copts as part of our tour of the "Minorities in the Old City of Jerusalem." The course was organized by Zman Eshkol, the leading operator of leisure studies in Israel.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tasting Tiberias

Film director Shemi Zarhin's debut novel Some Day, is a gripping, multi-generational family tale that appeals to all the senses.

Zarhin is well known for his award-winning films "Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi" (2003), "Aviva My Love" (2006), and "The World is Funny" (2012), films which have been shown around the world. Now, Zarhin takes us to Tiberias on the western shore of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), where he was born in 1961.

This is the story of seven-year-old Shlomi, who is slow to learn how to read but quick to learn how to cook. Shlomi joins his mother Ruchama when she starts a catering business in their small kitchen, preparing feasts for the residents of the city. Ruchama's delicacies make extensive use of mayonnaise, as apparently that will appeal to more modern tastes. "You want me to cook chicken and beef and pour mayonnaise over it?" she asks. Everything that comes out of her kitchen is described in tasty detail.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ethiopian Christians in the Old City of Jerusalem

When you speak of Ethiopians in Israel, you immediately consider the large population of Beta Israel Ethiopian Jews who were airlifted to Israel starting in the 1980s. But there is another, much smaller group of Ethiopians in Israel, one with ancient roots and unique traditions. Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity is, in fact, closer to Judaism in its customs and practices than any other Christian group.

My wife and I visited the Ethiopian Christian churches as part of our touring course on "Minorities in the Old City of Jerusalem." The course was organized by Zman Eshkol, the leading operator of leisure studies in Israel.

I took off my hat, we took off our shoes, and then walked into the Ethiopian Monastery Church, formerly a German nuns hostel. We would soon learn why we would were required to take off our shoes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Comfort of Jewish Mourning Customs

My mother died last week. She lived a long, full, happy, independent life and just a short while ago, celebrated her 88th birthday. A week later, her health deteriorated rapidly. After a visit to the emergency room and hospitalization in a geriatrics hospital, we said goodbye to my mother for the night and she went to sleep, and she was gone.

In Judaism, the custom is to bury the deceased very quickly, the same day if possible. We waited until my sister Debby arrived from New Jersey to join me and my sister Judy in Israel. My parents, as organized as they were in life, had already purchased burial plots. My father died nearly seven years ago. Now, all it took was one phone call and everything was arranged for my mother.

Losing a loved one is never easy. As difficult as a funeral may be, the mourning period afterwards, when the loss is really felt, can even be harder. Thankfully, Judaism has specific mourning customs which make the transition easier for family and friends of the deceased.