Prayers for Peace in a Broken World

DepressionWhen you hear the phrase ‘the terrifying ticking time bomb’, chances are you don’t take it seriously. In the Western world, we have grown accustomed to our first world problems, getting all hot and bothered over inconsequential things such as what’s on your coffee cup or the speed of your online movie buffering. Sure, we have our fair share of severe problems, and I don’t want to make light of these things, such as economic disparity or massive social inequality, but the last few months have opened up millions of eyes in America, especially when it comes to the rage and sadness buried deep inside the human race. Tragedies in San Bernardino, Paris, and the ongoing Syrian Civil War have created a dark night of the soul for humanity and the anxiety has forced all of us from our homes whether we realize it or not.

We must do all we can to help this broken world. Isn’t that the true meaning of the holiday season, why we celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, and others? We must unite like never before, transform ourselves into prayers for peace in a broken world. That would be the best gift this holiday season. At Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, I help bring people together in the name of love. Whether it is a traditional Jewish Wedding, Interfaith Wedding, or LGBT Wedding, it is my honor to be involved in your special day, to assist your hearts in the unification process. I play a little role in sending love into the world and that is something I take a great deal of pride in. I guess you could say that what I do is similar to what John Lennon did in his life through his music. Two days ago, on December 8, we observed the 35th anniversary of his unfortunate death and many publications reflected on what Lennon did for the world, one such publication being Big Think in this article.

In honor of his memory, Lori Chandler analyzed 7 of his songs and applied their meanings to life today. One song sticks out in particular and that’s 1967’s “With A Little Help From My Friends,” the classic from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. She writes, “The sentiment is that even though we feel afraid or alone at times, it is through our friends that we are “gonna try” to keep going. The late ‘60s were a time of intense violence and uncertainty, not unlike today. The truth of this song is that everyone, from Lennon to you and me, needs social support to feel better.”

That is a great breakdown of the song and it is a message that is at the heart of what I do at Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings. Although the world is a terrifying ticking time bomb, we can make it with a little help from our friends. That is something to keep in mind this holiday season.

Cupid Is Burdened by Debt

Credit Card and EyeglassesLove is a beautiful thing and everyone on our great crazy planet deserves to feel it on a daily basis, especially this time of the year, when the holidays coalesce around our hearts and demands that we feel something, anything, and if not, we are somehow less human. This can be hard. After all sometimes it seems as if love is impossible to come by, that the world, or maybe fate and destiny, has it out for us, that the powers that be has no interest in us feeling any sort of fulfillment when it comes to love.

In the last few blog posts, we have talked about ghosting, finding love after 40, being single during the holidays, and much, much more. Why does love have to be so difficult? We are given the breath of life and should always be interlocking breaths with the people around us, inhalers with beating hearts ready to help everyone breathe a little easier, because isn’t that what life is all about? In an ideal sense, yes, but idealism can only take you so far, especially when it comes finances and credit scores. Not very romantic, is it?

In this WFAA-TV article, Jason Wheeler discusses how important credit scores are when you are dating and looking for that special someone. CEO of Sam Yagan says, “When we have done research just beyond what we ask for in the app, we find debt is one of those deal-breakers; almost as strong as smoking and kids.”

That is all well and good; of course the CEO of would know the truth of what people are looking for, but the issue of love, dating, and credit scores has now piqued the interest of researchers and scientists. A recent paper entitled Credit Scores and Committed Relationships put out by the Federal Reserve Board explores the subject more intently.

Wheeler writes, “They back it up with formulas, some of which stretch across an entire page. One of the equations purports to mathematically demonstrate what researchers characterized as overwhelming evidence that individuals with lower credit scores made people less likely to get into and remain in committed relationships.”

Nowadays it seems that when Cupid’s arrow hits something, it’s not someone’s heart, but someone’s credit history.

Breaking up with a Ghost

Woman Haunting HouseBreakups are tough; there is no way around that fact, but over the last decade or so, they have gotten exponentially tougher – and we can point the finger at one cause: the rapid rise in technology and social media. This makes sense, because when it comes to social media, your ex is somehow always in the picture and it is tough to know when it is time to cut the cord. You almost have to go through a second breakup, a digital breakup so to speak – and that can be nastier than the “real” breakup. It is dizzying to say the least.

Since relationships have evolved alongside technology, breakups have as well, which is why we have terms like “ghosting,” described by many as the ultimate silent treatment. “Ghosting” someone has been around for a while, but only with the advent of social media and texting has it taken on a more powerful new meaning, as if your entire existence becomes haunted. It is even affecting the posh celebrity crowd, as reported in The New York Times.

Valeriya Safronova writes, “It was not long ago that Sean Penn and Charlize Theron were a happy couple: appearing together at fashion shows and film festivals, hugging on the beach. Recently, though, it was reported that Ms. Theron had stopped responding to Mr. Penn’s calls and text messages. She was “ghosting” him.”

If an A-list celebrity like Sean Penn can be a victim of ghosting, anyone can, but you might be wondering what ghosting actually is. Well, it means your partner or your ex (it depends on the situation) simply stops responding to your texts, social media messages, or calls. It is as if they fell off the face of the planet. Certainly, this is no way to end a relationship, but it happens quite frequently nowadays. Many feel, and probably rightfully so, that technology has made all this worse.

Safronova adds, “Whether this behavior has become more predominant with the advent of technology is debatable, but perhaps now it stings more, since there are so many ways to see our beloved interacting with other people while ignoring you. The rise of apps like Tinder and Grindr, and the impression they give that there is always someone else – literally – around the corner, is certainly empowering to ghosts.”

A sad state of affairs when we have to ghost the ones we love or no longer love, but is that any way to treat a fellow human being? Why are we turning our passion into a haunted house where ghosts are always floating around you like sneeze particles? Has technology taken us down a road of death? Is there is no way to turn back? These are tough questions to answer, but it seems that technology has made the already-difficult world of relationships a little more difficult.

Respond with Music, Love, and Compassion

I, like the entire world, was heartbroken over the Paris attacks last Friday. The world can be an ugly place and that was on full display over the weekend. The heinous terrorist attacks that claimed 129 lives and threw civilization into a state of hellish panic was a stark reminder that there is evil in the world, that it will not stop until it gets whatever it wants, that we must do everything in our power to stick together to get through these tough and strange times.

Our collective heart must continue to beat, beat loudly like an angelic drumline. We must open up our minds to the better angels of our nature so that they can fly in and help us overcome anger, help us spread love everywhere we go. Maybe that is the purpose of music, its mission statement, its modus operandi. Music will never go down without a fight. Then again, no force can put music “down.” Music after all might be the best defense we have against all the evil of this world. Some have even claimed that what happened in Paris was a declaration of war on music, the things that we love, the things that make life worth living.

In a radio interview with Irish DJ Dave Fanning, Bono said, “Our first thoughts at this point are with the Eagles of Death Metal fans. If you think about it, the majority of victims last night are music fans. This is the first direct hit on music that we’ve had in this so-called War on Terror or whatever it’s called. It’s very upsetting. These are our people. This could be me at a show. You at a show, in that venue. It’s a very recognizable situation for you and for me and the coldblooded aspect of this slaughter is deeply disturbing and that’s what I can’t get out of my head.”

“Deeply disturbing” is an understatement, but yes, the attacks could be construed as a direct hit on music. Most of the deaths occurred at Paris’ Bataclan venue when terrorists opened fire on the crowd and took more than 100 people hostage. There was a concert going on, American band Eagles of Death Metal was playing to a packed house. The band is clearly horrified and still trying to understand why. Recently, they issued a statement about the events that occurred.

On their website, they write, “Although bonded in grief with the victims, the fans, the families, the citizens of Paris and all those affected by terrorism, we are proud to stand together with our new family, now united by a common goal of love and compassion.”

That might be the most important thing to extract from the tragedy: love and compassion. We need to let those two things take center stage. If this is indeed an attack on music, then we must respond with music and what is music without love and compassion?


Finding Love after 40

Older CoupleWhen you’re young and naive, it’s easy to fall in love. That’s because to be naïve is to be ignorant… and ignorance is bliss. When you’re young you need little more than a pretty face and a nice smile to keep you happy. But as you mature and gain the knowledge it means to be a happy and fulfilled person, you learn you need something more from a relationship than physical attraction.

When you’re forty, you have matured to a level you know what’s best for you. At the same time, you still enjoy relatively youthful good looks. So for some, this is the best time to be single. You know what to avoid to protect yourself from heartbreak, betrayal, and just downright incompatible people.

But the reason it typically becomes increasingly difficult to find love the older you get is it because it’s increasingly difficult to surrender more of yourself. You develop a degree of integrity you aren’t as willing to surrender as you may have once been. Your values and principles don’t have a price—as they once may have had—if it means compromising for another’s happiness.

As a much more mature being, you’re subsequently much more critical and judgmental. This closed mindset might just be a curse. You have a much smaller dating pool—naturally due to your limited age range—but also because of your selected criteria. But you can also consider it a blessing because you know what you want and are not willing to settle for anything less.

The Game Called Love Is All about Survival

Why Women Love Bad BoysIn our last post, I discussed the perils of being single during the holidays, which can be a stressful experience, more stressful perhaps than it needs to be. There is no reason to beat yourself up in terms of being single around the holidays. However, I understand that it is something that weighs heavy on your mind and heart. We are almost conditioned since birth to think that you should be with someone during the holidays. Who else are you supposed to bring to all those parties? All those gatherings? It would be unheard of to attend these things on your lonesome! I’m being facetious here, but you get the point.

Look, it’s not the end of the world if you’re single, but that isn’t stopping newspapers and cardiovascular think tanks from trying to determine the mystery behind love and what you’re doing wrong if you don’t have it, the latest being the Daily Mail. They have finally answered love’s most mysterious questions: why women love bad boys.

Cheyenne Macdonald writes, “People with pathological personality traits may have more success in securing long-term relationships. This is according to a recent study of nearly 1,000 heterosexual men and women who showed pathological tendencies such as neurotic behavior and impulsiveness. The study found that certain extremes were tied to success in romantic relationships.”

Hmm…when compiling a list of desirable traits in a partner, you wouldn’t think that neurotic behavior and impulsiveness would be at the top, but this study suggests otherwise. What is interesting, however, is that neurotic behavior and impulsiveness has strengths and weaknesses depending on the gender. Obsessive compulsive males, for example, are more successful at love. Obsessive compulsive females, on the other hand, are not. The same holds true for neurotic behavior. If you’re a neurotic male, good luck finding love, because the cards are stacked against you. If you’re a neurotic female, get used to swatting away potential partners, because neurosis in females is a desirable quality.

These traits might not seem desirable in today’s world, but we have an evolutionary attraction to traits that equal survival. It’s funny to think that falling in love might be out of your hands, that our ancestors wrote the handbook in DNA ink thousands of years ago – and if the statistics from the study are of any validity, bad boys who are obsessive compulsive will always be lucky in love. Macdonald writes, “While they [bad boys] are selfish, rule-breaking, imprudent and rebellious, they are also brace, temerarious, independent and self-reliant – they live frantic, galvanizing lives. This captivates many people. This desirability could also have an evolutionary basis.”

Neanderthal What Macdonald is saying is that bad boys are survivors. It’s that cut and dry. The world has always been a brutal place, brutal in different ways nowadays, but no less dangerous. We want to survive and will do anything to make that a reality. Since love, in an ideal universe, is the armor we wear to get through the daily grind, to protect us from whatever the universe throws at us. It makes sense then that when looking for a lover and soulmate we naturally gravitate to someone that will help us survive. The study of love is a strange one, but it’s always interesting. If you’re single during this holiday season, think of it in the following way: you just haven’t found someone yet who will help you survive better – and when you get down to brass tacks, isn’t that what we all really want?

Single during the Holidays

How to Survive Being Single during the HolidaysNow that we’re in November, it means that we’re recklessly immersed in the holiday season. Sure, Halloween is a “holiday,” but it’s not one that stresses us out until we’re skin and bones, so that it feels like we’re floating through our days, from room to room, home to home, halfhearted astronauts out of orbit. We’re not necessarily sure who we are as people this time of the year and since the whole idea of family and friends looms over our heads like a thick London fog these days, it can be rough if you’re single. It’s almost like the world is out to get you, ready at a moment’s notice to remind you that you’re alone, that what the heck will you be doing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve? Such questions are almost too dizzying!

At Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, I have seen it all and given my experience helping couples get married and officiating their weddings, I can safely say I know a thing or two about love and how to cope if you’re feeling empty on the inside, that there’s no one out there ready to complete you, to glue your puzzle pieces together so you form a perfect picture. Here’s what you shouldn’t do during the holiday season: force yourself into a relationship because that never ends well, for both you and your partner. Love, the love that matters, should never erupt out of desperation, but rather it should come about through positivity and mutual understanding. Don’t think of this season as being torture on your heart, but rather think of it as a challenge to persevere and show the strength of your character.

The heart is a lot stronger than the stomach when you’re hungry; its growls are subtler, quieter. Since they are quieter, it means that you shouldn’t do anything rash. You need to take your time, despite all the holiday cheer going on around you. Hold out for the one that will truly shake you in your boots. Don’t settle. It’s one of the worst things you can do this holiday season. Believe me; you’re not alone in feeling, well, alone. You’re definitely not the only one that’s single this time of the year. You have more in common with everyone around you than you think! Isn’t that something you can truly believe in during the holidays?

Why Fall Makes Your Love Stronger

I have a request for you. Next time you go outside, I want you take a look, a deep hard look, at the world around you. What do you see? Maybe depending on where you live, the leaves are changing colors or, more dramatically, they might be falling and gathering together in clumps underneath trees and on the sidewalks. It’s rather shocking to look at if you really think about it – although leaves falling from trees can be beautiful, their colors certainly are, what you’re really staring at is the orderly franticness of death in the world.

The leaves are dying – and it’s tough to think like that, but at Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, I think it’s important to be reminded of death’s touch in the world, because it makes everything you experience more important, because you can never predict when you become a leaf falling from that tree of life. The least you can do is show off your true colors, shine brightly and bravely like a flashlight in a haunted house, because when you shine like that, the love you experience and send out into the world will be stronger.

Love is not meant to be simple; it’s complex, like the diorama of colors plunging to the ground during these crisp autumn months – and maybe, just maybe, that’s what this season is all about.

Choosing the Right Wedding Date

Bride Planning a WeddingPlanning a wedding involves make dozens of choices, but one of the most important things you need to decide is the date of the big day. Fortunately, there is no right or wrong date when it comes to weddings. In order to narrow down your choices to a single date, you should take the following factors into account.

While not always possible to control, the weather should be something you’re thinking about if you want to have an outdoor wedding. In general, outdoor weddings fare much better during the warmer months of the year. The last thing you want is for you and your guests to be uncomfortable throughout the day. Of course, there is always a chance of rain, but have a backup plan like tents and you should have no problem.

You may be tempted to get married on a holiday weekend because your guests may already have extra time off of work. While this can be okay in some cases, especially if you’re having a smaller wedding with limited guests, it may not be a good idea for larger weddings. Planning your wedding around a popular holiday may create scheduling conflicts with some of your guests. When in doubt, talk to the main people you want at the event beforehand to see if they can make a specific date.

Most importantly, schedule your wedding far enough in advance so you have plenty of time to plan. The amount of planning time you’ll need depends on how big your wedding is. If it’s only going to be you, your partner, and a few friends and family members, you may need only a few months to plan. For larger weddings where you have a lot more things to coordinate, you’re going to want to have closer to a year or more to get ready.

Consider these things before finalizing your wedding date, and go with what feels right for you and your partner!

Effective Steps to Planning a Wedding

If you’re planning your first wedding, you may have no idea where to begin. You’re likely feeling happy and maybe a bit overwhelmed, but that’s okay. As long as you take the planning process one step at a time, you should have no trouble taking care of everything before the big day. Whether you plan on being engaged for more than a year or just a few months, planning your wedding in the following order can eliminate a lot of stress and problems.

The first step you should take is to determine your budget. Knowing how much money you have to work with will affect a lot of the decisions you will be making. From the venue to the entertainment, putting together a budget that covers every aspect of the event can be a lifesaver early on in the planning process. Similarly, you should figure out how many people will be attending the wedding. Of course, you don’t have to send out invitations the day after you get engaged. Rather, come up with a rough list that approximates the number of guests who will be invited.

The next two steps go hand in hand, which are choosing a venue and a date. You may have one or the other in mind, but sometimes a venue is not available on the day you want and vice versa. Try to visit a few venues so you have backup options, and come up with a list of a few dates that both you and your significant other are happy with. Once you have a venue locked down, you can begin securing whatever venues you need for the big day.

The next major steps include deciding what you and the wedding party will be wearing, booking an officiant, and sending out save-the-dates. Within a few months before the wedding, you can send out formal invitations, work on finalizing the menu for the receptions, and take care of any last minute tasks. This order may not work for everyone, but it can be a helpful guide if you have no idea where to begin.