Last week I wrote about the opportunity I had to lead a Torah study group. The correspondent from “J” Weekly, who attended the class, called me an amateur Torah scholar. My knowledge of the Torah came from years of study. Some years ago, I even taught a Torah class to Jewish high school students. This was an unusual experience in the sense that I do not have a formal religious education, and my knowledge came from self-study, which was fueled by my perpetual curiosity and thirst for knowledge. There are many books and audio programs available, and I personally have a substantial library. But years ago, I also discovered some courses taught by the professors affiliated with “The Teaching Company”. I used to buy them on tape, but now I borrow them from the San Francisco Public Library. I’ve learned about many different subjects and especially about various religious traditions. My drive is to understand what motivates people and how specific beliefs from the past affect who we are now. The latest course that I just finished listening to while driving was, “Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Muhammad to Spinoza”, taught by David B. Ruderman from the University of Pennsylvania. It covers one thousand years and describes how Judaism evolved and was preserved in spite of constant expulsion and relocation from one country to another. The course explains how their interaction with others, their traditions, beliefs and religions have affected the Jews as well as the people they interacted with.
Some might ask, who cares? We live in today’s world, in the most powerful country in the world, where Jews are not discriminated or excluded. Anti-Semitism started to decline in the United States only after the 1950s. Can it return, after all Jews living among Christians and Muslims for many years without conflicts in different countries? In Europe, anti-Semitism is on the rise fueled by anti-Israeli propaganda financed by the Arab countries and Iran and supported by the liberals, who camouflage their anti-Semitism by anti-Israelism.
For me, learning from the past, understanding other people and their history helps me be optimistic. After all, we all want the same – peace of mind and love.
When I read the Essence of Jesus’ Message on quota.com, I learned that “His laws and obeying them are defined as love or define love”. I am not surprised, since he was Jewish and his teachings were based on the Torah where it is written, “but you must love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19-18). The same message appears in the New Testament – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as well (Luke 10:28).
P.S. If you have feel you need more love in your life, get yourself a puppy, and buy my photo-story book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers”, where you will see our puppy Max and his expression of love for his other four-legged best friends. You can order it at encounterspublishing.com or at amazon.com. These four images show the true manifestation of love among humans and their best friends.
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Recently my name appeared in an article written by Dan Pine in the weekly publication called “J.”, titled “Animated S.F. group has been talkin’ Torah for 45 years”. “Manny Kagan, a Latvian-born mortgage broker and amateur Torah scholar, led the discussion, though the term “amateur” does not do him justice. At 71, Kagan is sharp and well versed in the Torah and its commentaries.” The article describes how a group of men and women, Jews and Christians, have gathered together every Friday for the last 45 years, to study the Torah. I am honored to be invited from time to time to lead the discussion. It was nice to see my name printed in the newspaper, but what struck me, was seeing my age in print. Even though I know how many years I’ve been around, I thought there was a typo. The number one had to be before the number seven. But then I remembered that after being married for 51 years, I think the math was right. When I checked the meaning of my age the Affinity Numerology website, I learned that “71 is a business-oriented number. A person with the number 71 tends to be focused on building things intended to last for many generations, whether material or social structures that have meaning.” This fits my intention perfectly. At the age when some people are considering to slow down – to retire, I am just starting the third chapter of my life. You will find more on this subject in the book I’m currently writing, Retirement Solutions for the Smart People. 5 Easy Ways to Enjoy your Golden Age.
The purpose of the book is to help my readers prepare for the last chapter of their life. While I am working on my manuscript, I will share with you some of my discoveries, books and articles I’ve read, for which I will create a separate website.
I hope that when you will follow me, your retirement might become more enjoyable, or you decide to follow my example and not retire at all, and to continue to live an active life as long as you can.
Meanwhile, I need your help. When I finished working on my photo-book 42 Encounters with Dog Lovers, I wanted more people to learn about what it takes to become their dog’s best friend. Please buy the book and help me to spread the word, and find my book at encounterspublishing.com or amazon.com.
P.S. I do not know if the dog loving people in my photos have already retired, or are just ready to. I hope you enjoy these four images.
When it comes to travel, it is a good idea to remember the words of the Greek philosopher Socrates, who was born in 544 BC, who said that “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man”.
In other words, why travel to the same cities that we have previously visited? This time, I’m talking about Chicago. We have been here a number of times and are familiar with the downtown area and with most of the local attractions. Nevertheless, we are here again. The “Bean” I have mentioned in the title is a public sculpture, which is actually called “Cloud Gate”, and is the centerpiece at Millennium Park. It was designed by Indian born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor. The first time I photographed it was during our visit here in 2009. It was pouring rain and my image has a very dramatic look (You can see other images from that visit on my website). This time, since I am not the “same man,” my vision as a photographer has evolved, and my images of the “Bean” have changed as well.
My wife Elfa and I are staying in Chicago for four days, visiting with our friends whom we have not seen for many years, relaxing, shopping, eating and photographing, and just being together.
During our absence, Max stayed with his doggy sitter and I missed him. But the book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” with his image on the top, which I brought here as a gift for our friends, was a great success.
You can order your own copy at encounterspublishing.com or on amazon.com. Your purchase of the book can help give dogs living at dog shelters a second chance. When you buy the book, go to mannykagan.com and choose which shelter I can donate 10% from the sale price on your behalf.
P.S. Yes, I really enjoy visiting the same places again, especially when we have special friends whom we like to spend time with. The four images of the “Bean” demonstrate how much I’ve changed over the years as a photographer.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my visit to Muttville, where senior dogs were getting a 2nd chance. To be accepted into the Muttville shelter the “dog” has to be at least 7 years young. That means that those dogs learned all of their tricks and behavior from their previous owners. The question crossed my mind – “How do new owners teach those old dogs new tricks? Is there a time when dogs stop learning?
I read a story years ago about the Dogs of the Berlin Wall. After the wall was destroyed on November 9th, 1989, there was question of what to do with the thousands of German Shepherds and other large dogs, who were trained to attack people who tried to cross the Wall. About 1500 were retrained to become guard dogs in private residences. Two dogs were adopted by a family in Mallorca and lived their remaining lives in a happy environment. I did some research by check out some books on Amazon. There I found a book titled How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks by Ian Dunbar”. A well-known dog obedience teacher and veterinarian Dr Dunbar who works and lives in Berkeley, CA wrote the book. (I used his quotes in my book, 42 Encounters with Dog Lovers) Then I also found another book How to teach Your Old Dog New Tricks by Ted Baer. Both books were written in the nineties; however I do not think much has changed since then.
Nevertheless I found one book that was written in 2015 titled, Learn Agile Software Development: How to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks by Lon Pedron. I also found a number of Youtube videos on the subject. Dogtime.com states, “It is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks! If you adopt an adult or even senior dog, you may be amazed at their ability to concentrate and learn new things. Adult dogs are often even easier to train than pups, simply because they have the ability to focus for a larger period of time.” This is very good news for so many dog lovers, as long as they are interested in teaching their older dogs. One of the ways to do it is to attend classes at the an obedience school, such as the one we took Max on Sundays; taught by a very experienced dog trainer Bob Gutierrez (he can be reached at 415-648-3647) and takes place at the Ace Dog Sports facilities at 677 Toland Place, San Francisco (not far from Cesar Chavez Street). They offers different levels of agility, training six classes for each level. Max is currently at level three and I consistently train him in between classes as well.
P.S. The four images are encounters during on my last visit to Muttville. After you buy 42 Encounters with Dog Lovers at www.encounterspublishing.com or amazon.com, you could visit this site www.mannykagan.com and choose the Dog Charity where I will contribute 10% from your purchase on your behalf.