The Impossible Dream! (Diet for Dreamers)

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A dream of redemption, of rebuilding, of returning HOME:

Modern Israel, roughly located on the lands of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, is tiny — about the size of Wales or New Jersey. It’s the birthplace of the Hebrew language and of Judaism and Christianity. Although the region welcomed a variety of ethnicities, and weathered the influence and interference of several empires,  the region remained predominantly Jewish until the 3rd century. Afterwards, the Israeli people endured hundreds of years of religious and cultural persecution that led them to flee their homeland, scattering throughout the world — where they remained as strangers in strange lands, further persecuted and alienated. Many Jews dreamed of a place they could call their own … a home, a haven. But after centuries of being harassed, uprooted, dispersed — and even murdered — their dream seemed like an impossible one.

Theodor Herzl shared their “impossible dream.” He was an Austro-Hungarian journalist, political activist, and writer. More importantly, he became one of the fathers of modern Zionism, forming the World Zionist Organization and promoting Jewish migration back to the region renamed Palestine, in an effort to recreate the Jewish nation of Israel. Herzl (May 2, 1860 – July 3, 1904) was born in Budapest, Hungary, to a family of secular, German-speaking, assimilated Jews. His father was a successful German businessman who tried to blend in.

Theodor Herzl, who considered himself an atheist, had a passion for poetry and the humanities, which led to a successful career in journalism. But despite having no religious affiliation with Jews, despite being a successful writer, and the son of a successful businessman, despite being assimilated (blending in), Herzl nonetheless felt the sting of antisemitism. Bottom Line? Herzl was a Jew.

Herzl believed that antisemitism could not be defeated or cured, only avoided. In his acclaimed 1896 book The Jewish State, he outlined reasons for Jews to leave Europe, should they desire, preferably to return to their historic homeland. Herzl believed the Jewish people already possessed a nationality and all they lacked was a nation. He fervently believed the only way to avoid antisemitism was for the Jewish people to have their own state, where they’d be free to practice their unique culture and religion. Little could Herzl imagine the greatest time of persecution, the Holocaust, was only four decades away — less than a lifetime; and if the modern State of Israel had been established prior to the Holocaust, the massacre of 6 million Jews could have been avoided.

Herzl’s ideas quickly spread and, although embraced by many, were largely criticized and rejected — ironically, by many Jews settled in many countries. These critical Jews, who at the time were attempting to blend in and gain acceptance by the gentile population, felt Herzl’s ideas would only fan the flames of antisemitism. But think about it: should any person or people group have to deny their origins, beliefs, culture, identity, and individuality to gain acceptance? What’s this blog about? ACCEPTANCE.

Undeterred by his detractors, Herzl enthusiastically pursued his impossible dream. He gained influential and powerful supporters in several countries, and with each passing year, his impossible dream advanced into the realm of the possible. Although Herzl wouldn’t see it realized before his death, his work had laid the foundation to make his dream a reality.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations recommended a new Jewish state. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel’s first Prime Minister, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state … to be known as the State of Israel”! On the same day, the United States, in the person of President Harry Truman, officially recognized the new Jewish nation.

Today, more than 42% of the world’s Jews reside in the State of Israel, making it the largest Jewish community in the world. Israel is their home, their freedom, and their vindication. April 19th will mark the nation’s 72nd Birthday, a time of celebration and thanksgiving … a time to acknowledge that dreams, even impossible ones, can come true!

“Listen to this message from the LORD, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The LORD, who scattered His people, will gather them and watch over them as a shepherd does His flock.” (Jeremiah 31:10 NLT)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ISRAEL!

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What Took You So Long? (Encouragement for Creators)

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In regards to your creativity, do you ever feel overlooked and unappreciated? Or that your gifts and talents are being marginalized, and your efforts minimized? Do you feel people have underestimated you, and perhaps even misunderstood you? If so, you’re not alone.

Shatner, at far right, with Richard Basehart, Lee J. Cobb, Yul Brynner, and Albert Salmi, in The Brothers Karamazov (1958).

We know of an accomplished Canadian performer who, at one time or another, probably entertained similar notions. He began as a Shakespearean stage actor and made his broadway debut in 1956 to positive critical reviews, and then quickly graduated to supporting parts in two major movies: opposite Yul Brynner in The Brothers Karamazov; and with Spencer Tracy in Judgment at Nuremberg. He was excellent in both films, but additional A-list movie roles failed to materialize — a curious thing, indeed, given his skill and leading-man good looks.

But the talented actor persevered and even flourished in a string of guest appearances on the finest television dramas of the early 1960s. He delivered a wide spectrum of remarkable performances in series such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, and Dr. Kildare. Eventually he got his own weekly show, a popular science fiction adventure series that made his name a household word. Unfortunately, many of the scripts William Shatner received during his three-year run on Star Trek, playing the swashbuckling larger-than-life Captain Kirk, called for some over-the-top performances. Shatner was more than up to the task, and his work helped viewers to easily suspend their disbelief.

In the process, the actor got a reputation for chewing the scenery and hogging the camera. It’s easy to buy into this assessment, but his role practically demanded as much. And adding insult to injury, Shatner, who’d easily “owned” the part after only a handful of episodes, made what he was doing look so easy and natural that viewers soon decided the man wasn’t acting at all; he was simply playing himself!

Following Star Trek, Shatner starred in a few B-flicks and several made-for-television movies. He was usually better than the material he was given, but no matter how hard he worked — and he was absolutely brilliant in The Andersonville Trials — he was never able to shake the general public’s perception that regardless of what he did, he was just being William Shatner. That was more than enough for many viewers: Shatner had been transformed into a pop-culture celebrity! But it greatly diminished the actor’s talents and abilities.

Shatner quickly branched out in a variety of directions, such as hosting and narrating documentaries, in which his distinctive voice and … method … of delivery … were unmistakable! He wrote several best-selling novels, produced and directed in television, and even recorded a couple of LPs on which he sang — sort of!

Some people loved him, while others couldn’t take him seriously. But Shatner began to boldly humor any detractors by playing off their silly notions of who he was. Shatner the talented actor started playing Shatner the foolish and hammy hack! This led to a series of lucrative commercials for Priceline.com that showcased his comic timing and bolstered his popularity. He also got on the radar of the producers of the series The Practice, who snatched him up in 2004 for the role of ultra conservative attorney Denny Crane, a part created just for Shatner. And he was so good in the part that the character was spun off into his own show, the phenomenally popular Boston Legal, which ran 5 seasons and netted Shatner two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe!

When the actor accepted the first of his Emmy Awards, he gazed at the audience and humorously asked, “What took you so long?” It’s a fair question. Shatner has been performing since the mid-fifties. That’s over 60 years of stellar work on the stage, screen, and tube! What had changed? Certainly not Shatner. He’s always been a tremendous talent. Was it the timing? Or a fresh perspective on the part of audiences?

Let’s ask again, are you feeling overlooked, unappreciated, minimized and maybe even misunderstood? If so, (and we’ll state it the way Shatner might say it) then you … our dear, creative … friend … are in … good company!

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 ESV)

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