Why I Do Not Worry


Why I Do Not Worry

Worry is defined as a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.

Years ago on a trip to Dublin, Ireland I bought a souvenir – “A Worry Stone”. It is a small flat rock with an indentation in the middle. It is meant to take a worrier’s attention away from their concerns just by rubbing the stone in their pocket. I am not a worrier type, but what got my attention was a story printed on the package (I will adapt it to the current worries). “There are only two things to worry about – will I get infected with the coronavirus or not. If not, there is nothing to worry about. If yes, there are only two things to worry about – Will I get over or not? If I will get over, there is nothing to worry about, if not, there are two things to worry about – Will I live or I will die? If I will live, there is nothing to worry about, if I will die, there are two things to worry about – Will I get to heaven or to hell? If I go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about, if I will get to hell, I will meet so many old friends, I will not have time to worry.”

One of the reasons I do not worry is that I have no time for this occupation, since I always expect a positive outcome and focus my attention on what I WANT, rather than the opposite. In our lives we are surrounded with a lot of negativity. In his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman points out that the survival mechanism is built on recognizing danger; therefore, we pay more attention to the potential threat. The media is using our propensity for fear by feeding us with scary stories. This leads to worrying about our future. The major problem with this is that constant worry leads to emotional stress, which can trigger many other health problems. To avoid worrying, I follow a piece of advice from the book “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein; “Your car goes where your eyes go”. We all have choices. While I follow the protocol related to the current medical conditions, I focus on the well-being of my family and helping my clients. Since I intend to live a long and productive life, I take care of my body and my soul by strengthening my immune system and avoiding negative information. In Russian there is a saying, “A healthy mind in a healthy body”. I believe it is my healthy mind which prevents me from worry. I am a firm believer that all things in life happen for a reason, and there are only good reasons, and therefore, there is nothing to worry about.

P.S. One evening during the Shelter in Place, I decided to go out to photograph the empty streets. I drove to Castro Street and there I found a lot of lights in the midst of the darkness. The next morning the streets were still empty, but filled with the light of the sun, and this happened without us worrying about it.

Enjoy and Share with a Friend and Do Not Worry!

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How Those Nights Are Different From All Other Nights


How Those Nights Are Different
From All Other Nights

Yesterday, Thursday, April 16, was the last day of the Jewish holiday Passover. It started last week, on Wednesday, April 8th and outside Israel was celebrated for two nights with the festive dinner, called a Seder, during which the story of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt in about 1313 BC is retold for the benefits of the next generation. On both nights, a two-hour long story starts with the question “Ma Nishtana?” which in English means “How different is this night from all other nights?” The youngest child traditionally asks the question, and adults sing in response that on those nights we eat specific foods and drink four cups of wine while reclining on a pillow like free people. Though in the Jewish history there were times when we could not be free or be together with our families to celebrate and to retell the story. The celebration always ended (before singing a specific song) with the statement, “Next Year in the rebuilt Jerusalem!”

Now here we are in the year 2020. There are no wars, no persecutions, no exiles, families are easily reachable (our daughters were planning to fly to San Francisco for the celebration), but there was an invisible obstacle called COVID-19, which stopped and changed the lives of billions of people with one goal – to save lives. It did not matter if you were Jewish and celebrated Passover, or Christian and celebrated Easter, or Muslim and celebrated Ramadan. Spring 2020 was a game changer. Historically we live during the Information Age, which began in the 1970s. It is also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age or New Media Age. Now with the advent of the teleconferencing, the world realized that we do not have to travel far away to see and to meet people with whom we want to connect, to do business or to celebrate special events. We just can use Zoom, Facetime, Skype or other connecting software and voilà, the question “Ma Nishtana” can be answered by every participant.

My wife Elfa and I celebrated the first night of Passover together. On the second night, we had both of our daughters, their significant others and their friends. We connected with Palm Springs, Los Angeles and even Israel (at 4 o’clock in the morning). What made this night different was that miracles, which started over 3,300 years ago, continued and sometimes it takes special events like COVID-19 to manifest. 

At the same time, regardless of the technological advances for me, nothing can substitute a loving kiss, a friendly hug and a connecting handshake. I am looking forward to the time when these connections are going to be possible again.

P.S. Though we have to maintain the social distancing, this should not preclude us from seeing other people, breathing fresh air and enjoying spring beauty. I accomplished this last Sunday. As in the past, we took Max for a walk around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. This is where I (safely) encountered other people (and birds) who had similar ideas.

After I sent the image to a lovely couple playing ukuleles, the text came back, “As a little tidbit for your story. We met a week before the pandemic and have been social distance dating ever since.” When I complimented the two men on their creative face masks, they told me that those are napkins they used for their lunch. Whatever it takes to be safe. Please note that I captured all three of them walking with the same rhythm. Since today it is a long story, I decided to add a bonus image of a man who is getting the healing rays of the sun and some vitamin D.

Be Safe, Enjoy and Share with a Friend!

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Passover, Easter & COVID-19


Passover, Easter & COVID-19

In Wikipedia I learned that the term “Judeo-Christian is used to group Christianity and Judaism together, either in reference to Christianity’s derivation from Judaism, both religions’ common use of the Bible, or due to perceived parallels or commonalities and shared values between the two religions.” If you are reading this story on Friday, April 10th, it is the Christian holiday, “Good Friday”, which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Three days later is Easter Sunday, a joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection. 

All of these take place while Jews are celebrating Passover, which started on Wednesday, April 8th, and lasts for eight days, until April 16th. Both holidays always happen in the spring, which in Hebrew is called Aviv, which actually means fresh ears of barley. The Torah states, “You go free on this day in the month of Aviv” (Exodus 13:4). Jesus was crucified shortly after he, being Jewish, participated in together with his disciples at the Passover Seder, which became known as the Last Supper. In 325 AD, the First Council of Nicaea determined that Easter should always fall on first Sunday after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox. As a result, Easter remains without a fixed date, and coincides with Passover, which always starts on the 15th of the Hebrew month Nisan.

But there is something not less significant, which unifies both religions and brings it to the issues of today – the coronavirus. Both holidays signify death, sacrifice and a brighter future. Passover story contains the 10th plague during which an uncountable number of the first-born Egyptians died to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites slaves leave Egypt on the way to their freedom. And then thousands of former slaves died during their forty years in the desert to allow the new generation to arrive to their destination – the Land of Israel. And this is where the next drama developed about thirteen hundred years later. At about 4 B.C., the Jewish carpenter Joseph’s son was born, who was named Yeshua or Joshua, which in Hebrew means “God is salvation”. He was a preacher whose message was that the end of the known world, which was the Roman occupation of his homeland Palestine, was coming to an end. The Jews had to repent and change the way they live to be saved in the world to come. After he was arrested for his provocative unorthodox teachings by the Jewish authorities, he was forwarded to the Romans and was crucified, as it was a common practice of killing of rebels in those days. Years later, his teachings continued to excite people and he was given the Greek name Jesus with the added Christ, which in Greek means “the anointed one”. Thus, Jesus Christ became the founder of Christianity with many followers and gospels, who told his stories. It was not an easy journey and thousands of Christians were killed on their way to create one of the major world religions in our times. 

And now we are brought to 2020, the unfortunate time of the Corona virus pandemic. Many people have been affected, and have died or are going to. After it is over, I do not think there is going to be a major event to commemorate COVID-19, but in a short time, it managed to accomplish what no other historic major events or wars ever did, it united people all over the world to confront and to cooperate protecting ourselves and saving lives. Will this bring peace, salvation or the Messiah? Time will tell. In the meantime, let’s express our gratitude for being alive and many other blessings.

Happy Holidays! Stay Safe!

P.S. Spring is the time of new beginnings, joy and beauty, which you can see in the four images of flowers, which grow in my neighborhood.

Enjoy and Share with a Friend!

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How To Celebrate Passover


How To Celebrate Passover

This year the event that was initiated over 3,300 years ago, will be celebrated on the evening of April 8th. I am writing about Passover, the celebration of the liberation of Israelites from slavery and their exodus from Egypt. The holiday lasts for eight days during which observant Jews eat matzah (unleavened bread). For the first two nights the families gather at the festive table and read from the Passover Haggadah (story), while guests follow the prescribed order (Seder) in eating and drinking. This is the most popular holiday for Jewish families to get together (it has been around for many years before Thanksgiving family gatherings).

What makes this night different (this is an actual line taken from the Haggadah) this year, is that more than ten people are not permitted to gather indoors, at a table, must sit six feet apart from each other, and grandchildren are advised not to come to their grandparents, since youngsters can be carriers of COVID-19, so as not to transmit it to people more susceptible to. This doesn’t sound like much fun. Both of our daughters along with their significant others were planning to come to San Francisco to celebrate Passover together. As time progressed with the developments of the quarantine, plans changed, and we decided to not gather together to protect everyone’s well-being. But how can we celebrate? In the older times it was a congregation rabbi who was an authority and had all the answers. In my case I called Rabbi Shlomo Zarhi from the oldest synagogue in San Francisco, Hevra Thilim, which was founded in 1892. Rabbi Zarhi is a young man and his advice was to use modern technology called Zoom.

As these are very unusual circumstances, I decided to check another source. I reached out to Rabbi Gershon Winkler. His “Walking Stick Foundation” spreads ancient Jewish Wisdom that are applicable to modern times. His latest writing is called “Antidotal Dotings from Gershon”. I hope you will read the whole story; meanwhile, I would like to share with you some of the ancient wisdom.

Though a plague can last even as long as seven years, no one dies before their appointed time” (2nd century B.C.E., Rabbi Shimon Shetah

And there is one more. This one comes from the prophet who lived in the 8th century B.C.E.

The ancient rabbis taught “When there is an epidemic in the village, keep your feet within your home, as it written “Come my people, enter within your chambers and shut your doors around you, hide but for a brief moment, until the rage has passed.” – Isaiah 26:20

Those quotes remind me of what “the wisest man who ever lived”, King Solomon wrote in 935 B.C.E. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). 

As far as our gathering goes, we decided to postpone it until May when the quarantine will hopefully end, and we will be able to drive down to Southern California to see our daughters.

P.S. Since Passover is a spring holiday, it is a great opportunity to see Spring blooms around us, as you can see in these four images.

Enjoy and Share with Friends!

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Is There A Cure For Loneliness?


Is There A Cure For Loneliness?

The title of this story came from an AARP publication. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) was founded in 1958, and as of a year ago had over 40 million members. The organization publishes The Magazine (and a newspaper). There are always interviews with well-known people, like 82 years young actor Anthony Hopkins, which appeared in the December/January publication. The interview ended with, “My life is an extraordinary series of mistakes. But if I hadn’t made decisions that seemed bad at that time, who knows where I would be? I guess we are guided by some inner force”.

The magazine also has many interesting articles, such as, “Is There a Medical Cure for Loneliness?” What got my interest on this subject is the corona virus pandemic. The article starts with the sentence, “We know that older Americans are at greater risk for social isolation, which can lead to physical illness, depression and even dementia.” No wonder the majority of those who died from COVID-19 belonged to this group. Turns out that “scientists now say there are medical causes and remedies for the painful condition that affects more of us each year.” 

If you read my stories regularly, you have probably noticed that they have a positive spin, then why to write about this sad subject?

My reason was inspired by a conversation I had with a very good young friend, who was concerned about my well-being, and suggested that in my age I should stay away from people until the scare is over. Yes, this is a good recommendation. People are advised to work from home (our company’s employees do), if possible. In the given circumstances this sounds as a reasonable piece of advice. It is given to save lives, but what is the cost and what are the side effects? The article states, “the impact of people living in social isolation add almost 7 billion a year to the cost of Medicare.”

There is an expression; “The surgery was successful, but the patient died.” I question if people can be socially isolated for a long period of time (and not only those of advanced age) – this goes against the nature of what human beings are. In the March 19, 2020 SF Chronicle, there was an article titled, “Remain at home amid outbreak or enjoy a walk among others?” On that day, since Max did not go to his dog-sitter, we went for a walk around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. There were quite a few people of different ages, walking or jogging while maintaining a reasonable distance.

On Friday, while driving with Max through the Park, we saw a lot of people congregate in front of the Conservatory of Flowers, parents with children riding bicycles and young people jogging. After all, it was a warm spring evening.

P.S. The images are from my encounters with those in Golden Gate Park whom, to paraphrase Anthony Hopkins, preferred to make mistakes but keep enjoying their lives. Among them of course was Max, who has no idea of what is going on and just enjoys the walk with his “parents”. Since this story is longer than usual, I decided to add one bonus, totally five images. I hope you’ll like all of them.

P.P.S. My daughter Tamar, who edits my writings, made the following comments (below) which I would like to share with you as well. If you choose to get some fresh air and get exposed to the Sun, follow her recommendations.

Enjoy and Share with A Friend.



I understand you’re trying to put a positive spin on the current circumstances. And I agree, I believe it is important to maintain a positive spirit through all of this. However, while there is certainly a concern that loneliness will have an undesirable effect on people’s lives, at least they will be alive. The “Safe at Home” order is in place to LITERALLY SAVE MILLIONS OF LIVES. That is a statistical fact. Meanwhile, thanks to this being the most technologically advanced time in all of history, we can physically distance, while not being socially isolated. Thanks to FaceTime, Zoom and the old-fashioned phone, and time on our hands, we can connect with our families and friends who are across continents, and a five-minute walk away, while avoiding any contact with them, and effectively avoiding spreading or contracting the virus. 

And yes, it is Spring, the skies are blue and the sun is shining, so naturally people are going to want to leave their homes to get some fresh air – which is also important! Meanwhile, there were so many people out on hikes, playing basketball and at the beach in LA last week/weekend, that the mayor closed the parks, beaches and social recreational areas, because people weren’t maintaining proper social distancing. In order to prevent the spread of the virus and avoid overwhelming hospitals, it is IMPERATIVE to keep a distance of at least 6 feet away from each other, to not touch foreign surfaces, and when that isn’t possible, to wash hands for at least 20 seconds, and disinfect all surfaces that were touched after touching the foreign surfaces. My comment to you is to make sure your message still gives the impression that this should be taken very seriously. PLEASE consider the message you are sending to your readers.

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