The Golan Heights

Golan Heights. Do the two words mean much to you? Perhaps you have caught them on a news bulletin now and then.

Kristine and I learned about this part of Israel first hand. It was the first two weeks of April, 2019. She and I were on tour in Israel.

Our leader, who I will call Tom for the sake of this piece, was an author and a Sephardic, Messianic Jew. Messianic Jews believe Christ is our savior. Sephardim are essentially Middle-Eastern, non-Ashkenazi Jews. Ashkenazi Jews are, in essence, European Jews. They have moved in great numbers to Israel.

Tom led our Israel Bible Tours group of about 30 through the Golan Heights. Not long before our visit the Golan Heights was impassable for tourists due to explosive violence.

In the Golan Heights we saw beautiful rolling green hills. We viewed the Biblically-addressed Mount Hermon. The grand mountain was crowned with snow.

 In contrast, further on, we saw a stark, Israeli, military outpost. What we were able to see consisted of off-white buildings and little greenery.

Our tour leader was a former member of the Israeli Defense Forces. Soon, as the group sat in an outdoor amphitheater, Tom spoke to us about this striking place. As we cast our eyes on miles of scenic, green hills, he said that at the end of the northern horizon were the Syrian and Lebanese borders. He added that at those borders were electrified fences unapparent to our naked eyes.  We also saw two, preserved, non-Israeli tanks to our left about 100 yards away. Yes, there were contrasts.

“Peter R. Mansoor (born February 28, 1960) is a former United States Army officer and a military historian. He is known primarily as the executive officer to General David Petraeus during the Iraq War…” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Mansoor)

Per Colonel Mansoor as to the Six Day War in June of 1967:

Jordan and Syria entered the conflict only to suffer territorial losses for their troubles when Israeli forces decisively defeated their militaries. Israeli forces seized the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Golan Heights—strategically located high ground along the Israeli-Syrian border. Arab forces suffered 20,000 killed as opposed to only 800 Israeli dead.

(https://www.hoover.org/research/six-day-war-and-golan-heights)

Praying at the Western Wall and visiting the Golan Heights were the high points of our trip. I won’t again hear those two words, Golan Heights, without remembering this picturesque and dangerous portion of God’s green earth.

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A Rising Star in Men’s Tennis: NYTimes: A Noteworthy Year for Dominic Thiem

Years ago at Indian Wells we saw a young man practicing under the tutelage of the excEllen coach, Gunter Bresnick. He was using unusual resistance techniques on the court and copracticed with Ernests Gulbis. Last year he won that tournament for a stirring Masters win. A Noteworthy Year for Dominic Thiem https://nyti.ms/2Qf0Yf3

Country Music, I and II, by Ken Burns

The black and white still images were extraordinary in the first two portions of Ken Burns’ documentary, Country Music. Frequently the images showed mothers or kids of about ten who were feeling the effects of the Great Depression. Then to ease their pain then and our pain as viewers, the meaningful country songs were played.

We saw that tragedy also enveloped the wealthy, “successful” artists. A.P. Carter lost Sarah Carter to divorce and remarriage. Jimmy Rogers died a young man from a sickness for which we had no meds, TB.

Burns weaved the storytelling as a rule without professional historians but with largely older country artists. It was very effective.

This was in essence, a beautiful piece of Americana for all of us. These early portions of the work were also a meaningful way of observing the encompassing American history of this period.

I recommend the continuing series to anyone who wants a study of this history for several senses as opposed to a good read. Fill your evenings with some joy, some sadness and a lot of good music.

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This? available on Amazon

Music, A Beautiful Language

What is it about music that can touch our heart, feet, and/or hands? It is an unspoken, powerful language.

When I was nine years old I began learning to play drums. I played in my elementary school orchestra and briefly on a citywide orchestra in Dayton, Ohio.

Now, 65 years later in church services I cannot help but stomp one foot to the rhythms of the melodies. I look around and find few if any with the same joyous need.

When we get the opportunity, usually at a wedding, to rock, it is hard for me to stay off the dance floor with my spouse, Kristine. I am glad I am that way, but, mystified why some see it differently.

I cannot get you to rock with anything I write here. But just a few notes of a favorite song might get you up on your feet instantly.

God bless this wonderful worldwide language.

H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This? available on Amazon

Age is Just a Number?

Age is just a number. In my opinion those who believe this are doomed to pay a price. Medicare began 55 years ago because our systems age. Any glance at 85 year old skin will confirm that. It is the largest organ in the human body.

Yes the gym and diet are important but they are cushions not cures. Nonetheless I am a firm believer in both. It’s all we really have against the onslaught of the clock on our brains, hearts, kidneys, etc., etc.

May you be the beneficiary of a high quality of life in your anecdotage.

H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This? available on Amazon

Casablanca, the Movie

It was today, the 13th of September, that I presented this re-edited, updated piece to our writers’ group. On the 13th of November, it will be 77 years since the premier of the film Casablanca in New York City. 

It is arguably, the finest movie I have ever seen. It mixes two strong human passions, the need for justice and the sparks of young love. The key characters are Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman, Victor Lazlo, her husband, played by Paul Henreid, and Rick, Ilsa’s “first love”, played by Humphrey Bogart.

 The justice is expressed in the strong anti-Nazi feelings in Rick’s Cafe. All but the Nazis in the café sing the French national anthem despite the hated Nazi presence. Ironically many of those who play Nazis in this film from the early 40s are Jews, who, had escaped the Holocaust

Equally engaging is the love between Rick and Ilsa. It is a love that has never died despite Ilsa’s marriage to Victor, a hero of the resistance. Rick tells Ilsa in the final, airport scene, that, their love is of little consequence in a war-torn world, where her brave husband must escape Casablanca with her. But, Rick reminds Ilsa, “We will always have Paris.”

The film speaks to our first love, the illusory one with few conflicts and no children, mortgages or financial shortfalls. It is that part of our lives to which “You Can’t…,” in Thomas Wolfe’s words,”… Go Home Again.” We were but puppies.

Rick and Ilsa’s love gives the film an incandescent quality enriched by their song, As Time Goes By. It shines even more fully in the distinctive black and white images of the film.

The Academy Award for Best Picture was no accident. This is a film which is unforgettable in its portrayal of heartbreak mingled ever so delicately with justice.  It is a sweet, haunting melody that lingers on. It is a picture that took a piece of my heart.

H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This? available on Amazon