Category Archives: Life

Beau Biden Still Doing Good from Beyond

Beau BidenSometimes your good works in this life are so consistent and well-known, that they live beyond your years. For some people, those works live on in a trust, a bequest, or a foundation. For some, it’s a business built from the ground up. For Beau Biden, that means having all your campaign funds funneled into a new charity.
The son of Vice President Joe Biden and an accomplished politician in his own right, Beau Biden had served two terms as Delaware’s Attorney General before cancer took him at the age of 46. Rumors had already placed him in the 2016 governor’s race, cancer or no cancer. His campaign continued to take in donations though he had not yet officially announced his candidacy. That’s how much donors in Delaware thought of Biden. They gave so he could consider running. They knew the sort of man he was, and they wanted that man as their governor.
Sadly, Biden passed away with much left undone in his life, many dreams yet unfulfilled. Even so, he managed to do a lot more than many in about half as many years. His own father spoke of Beau as a hero – a loving husband, dedicated father and accomplished businessman, the sort of person a father can easily be proud of. Many others felt the same way, apparently. To date, roughly $660,000 had been collected by two organizations supporting Biden’s unofficial gubernatorial campaign.
Now, CNN is reporting that many of those funds will be channeled into the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. While the principals involved have not said how much, they still have some unfinished business on the political side, any amount at all is a testament to the strength of the memory of the man.
Hallie Biden, Beau’s widow, released a media statement about the bequest. “The campaign money will be used to continue the work Beau loved most — protecting children — and the natural place to do that is the foundation.”
In a situation fraught with sadness and difficult headlines, that is one that can give everyone a reason to smile when they remember a man who made serving others his legacy.

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When the greater good isn’t good enough

When we hear comments such as, “Mussolini made the trains run on time,” or “Madoff was a prominent philanthropist,” does anyone today take those as actual excuses for bad behavior? As a world, should we slap them on the wrist and say the greater good was served, making the evils inconsequential?

In this day and age it is hard to imagine anyone real throwing these two a lifeline. So why in some circles, and often Orthodox Jewish ones, do we allow “He may be guilty at times of what I would consider ‘tough love’ … perhaps going overboard and embarrassing people, but … he cares deeply about the students and wants to keep them on the straight path,” to be an excuse when it comes to our children and Torah education?

When I was a child in yeshiva on the Lower East Side, we had rabbis who hit us. Second grade was known for the yardstick knuckle smack down, and parents never complained when their kids came home with bruises on their hands. For me, it wasn’t until fifth grade when our rebbe, known for smacking his students, whacked me so hard that someone in my family took notice.

My mother probably thought the rabbi was doing her a favor, and never said a word. My uncle, at the time, a charming looking Burt Reynolds type, with a thick mustache, chest hairs coming out of his 1970s collared shirt, mirrored aviators – you get the picture, walked in to class one day and called the rabbi outside for a minute.

(Read More in the Jewish Star)

Juda Engelmayer is an executive with the NY PR Agency, 5W Public Relations

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Filed under Juda Engelmayer, Judasim, Life, Religion

Michael Brown’s a Time Instant Icon and Face of the Decade


Time Magazine

Michael D. Brown became the face of failure of the Bush Administration, the state and local governments of Louisiana to act fast, decisively and wisely in the face of Hurricane Katrina, a natural disaster beyond anyone’s comprehension.
Offered up as a sacrificial lamb by those seeking to blame a president who made it easy to be criticized, Mike Brown took his lumps humbly, and walked away to a new life.  Today, he has his own talk radio program, a new book coming out and is on the boards of several companies.  Mike has taken the lemons and made pitchers full of lemonade for himself and his family.

Time Magazine pays tribute to a man who “became famous overnight for the explosive public issues [he] represented. Caught up in forces larger than [him], [he] gave a human face to [a] confounding situation.”  Read about one of Time’s Six “Face of the Decade”.

TimeFrames

Michael Brown

THEN: President George W. Bush’s appraisal of his performance in 2005 as head of the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina — “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job” — became a catchphrase for federal incompetence.

(Watch a video of Michael Brown discussing the lessons learned from the catastrophe.)

NOW: Brown hosts a talk-radio show on Denver’s KOA and is writing a book on crisis management. His take on the post-Katrina mess: “The chain of command began to break down … And I had to go around that to get to the White House to try to get things done.”

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Filed under Life, Media, Michael Brown, Mike Brown

Redeye Thoughts

The moon is full and bright; it’s so beautiful as it reflects off the clouds that we fly above. They seem as gray marble, with a gentle silhouette of orange light glowing in non descriptive patterns below. The moon keeps watch over us, like a guiding light showing us the way home. It’s almost surreal to watch the sky, blackened blue with nothing but the sun’s eastern reflection and the tiny star trying so hard way behind it.

I’ve been on dozens of planes and have flown through every climate, in every season, but tonight I see the moon looking back at me. Its stalking me like I’ve never seen it do before. The wondrous rock that shadows the earth each day is talking to me as we begin our descent toward home.

I don’t know what to make of it at first, and I gaze upon it with curiosity and amazement. Then it dawns on me as it seems to be looking through my small window in the sky, as the water below glistens in its mighty glow. It is telling me that there is light in the darkness; that possibilities abound. The sun always shines even when we can’t see it, and its light will always shine as long as I am willing to see.

The night is dark, but the darkness is calming as I realize that the sun is always close by.

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Musings as I Clear up the Writer’s Block

Getting over writer’s block seems to harder than I anticipated. The things that usually inspire me have been languishing in my head, and the events around us all do not generate the excitement I would hope for. Whether it is Swine Flu, Chrysler‘s imminent failure, GM’s collapse, Somali pirates or my Labrador Jessie living a comfortable and lazy life as she yawns and stretches and closes her eyes again, I seem to feel that committing thoughts to words right now is just a burden I don’t want.

Today is my son’s 11th birthday, and that is something I will take joy and excitement in. Watching him grow, watching all three grow, in fact, has been the best part of my adult life. When you see your own contributions to their evolution take shape, it should inspire the best in all of us. Tonight, we will take Noah out to dinner with a small group of family and friends. He doesn’t want a party for everyone, but a small group of those he cares about.

Come to think of it, all of our kids are like that. My oldest turns 16 in June, but doesn’t want a blown-up sweet sixteen celebration. Considering what it could cost and could entail, I ought to be grateful, and trust me, I am.

He will get a nice watch that he saw me wear and decided he wanted it. It’s a thin winding watch with a black strap, white face and pretty display. Lately, Noah has been taking more pride in his appearance, donning a pinstriped suit to synagogue. This week, he put on a crisp blue shirt and yellow tie and asked that I dry clean his shirts now. He said the home wash doesn’t leave him looking as he wishes. That’s my boy. When I saw his ensemble, I too wore a pinstriped suit, blue shirt and yellow tie to shul. I never thought of dressing my kids alike, or dressing like my kids. I usually find that whole situation plain goofy. I caved, it was cute. He was all smiles too.

Our middle child is heading to Israel on Mother’s Day with her class for their senior trip. This was such a memorable event for our eldest, she learned a love for Israel though exploration, study, prayer, camaraderie and just breathing the Mediterranean air. When we learned that the economy and Madoff’s thievery caused parents to withhold funding, hence canceling the trip – replaced by a visit to Pennsylvania and a theme park – we decided to try and raise the funds ourselves. This is a once in a lifetime experience, and quite selfishly, we didn’t want Talia to be the only of the three to lose out, assuming that in coming years it will be restored with ease and our 11 year old would go as is the normal routine.

Well, the school needed $25 thousand, we raised less than ten. It isn’t easy to do this at this time. We are funding the rest. It’s part of our tithe for the year. I guess our other charities are on hold, but I am so happy she will have this chance. As far as Israel, this will not be her first rodeo; yet the experience school offers: priceless.  She leaves on Mother’s Day and returns on the day I turn 40. I think I hear “Sunrise, Sunset” playing in my head now.

I guess that’s all for now. I have to work, Jessie moved from the floor to the couch and the Swine Flu and the imminent death of the Trans Am seem to be the news of the day. It reminds me of a good time and disappointment too.

My uncle taught me to drive on a yellow 1975 Firebird S/E with the hood scoops and a fire stripe across the car. It had the 455 V8, a white interior, honeycomb rims, it was fast, sweet and the coolest car I had ever driven (by the time I was seven. I have since driven cooler cars…). It was supposed to be my car when I got my license ten years later, but the car didn’t make it to my 17th. It was gone a year earlier. My first car was a yellow 1972 Ford LTD. Not quite the same.  My uncle later “upgraded” me to a white 1980 Buick Skylark, but it made me long for the Ford.  From that Skylark I went to the 1982 Dodge Challenger, then we upgraded to the first Ford Taurus 5 Speed called the MT-5, a 1987 to be exact.  Loving the five speed, but hating the underpowered 4 cylinder, we sold Boris the Taurus to our friends and picked up a very sweet 1990 Ford SHO in metallic red. We ended selling that to our friends who’s exact car was destroyed in the 1999 Seward Park Housing garage collapse.  We had kids and the trunk was too small.  We replaced it with a 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Woody.  In retrospect, we have had a pretty eclectic collection of cars through the ages.  These days we opt for new cars that tend to be more reliable.  Choices…

April 28th, 2015 –

I need to update this piece.  I wrote it on my son’s 11th birthday and he just turned 17 and got his drivers license,  To add to my own sense of having been deprived as child, he starts his driving days in a 2011 Ford Fusion AWD with a pretty cool sporty interior.

Noahs car

Noahs car

Noahs car

Noahs car

My ladies share a 2011 Buick Lacrosse SEL, and Debbie and I share a 2015 Taurus SHO and a 2013 Lincoln MKT.  Throughout the 2000s we owned a 1998 and 2001 Ford Expedition.  We traded to a smaller car in the 2004 Honda Pilot.  Then we drove the now out of business 2007 Saturn Outlook.  Then we took a 2010 Lincoln MKT.  When we moved, we took on a 2012 Taurus SHO which we traded for the newest one, and a MKT as well.

My 21 year girl is engaged and my 19 year old is smart as hell.

So that’s it for now. Hi Ho, Hi Ho.

Juda Engelmayer is an executive with the NY PR agency, 5W Public Relations

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Filed under Children, Choices, Family, Life