So far, I have chosen to cover a given subject only once in this blog.  Some amazing people are worth two or even three mentions.  (Re) meet Uriel Levitt, artist, participant in Camp Ramah in New England’s Tikvah Program, and baal tzedakah (charitable person).  Uriel just raised over $1,400 through sales of a t-shirt he designed–to donate to four organizations he cares deeply about.

This is actually my third post about Uriel.  And he deserves it!

I am intentionally not hyperlinking these articles so readers can track the evolution and progress of Uriel’s project:

https://howardblas.com/2020/05/24/turning-sadness-about-no-camp-into-giving-back-one-tikvah-entrepreneurs-t-shirt-venture/

https://howardblas.com/2020/05/25/update-on-uriels-t-shirt-project-the-village-comes-together-in-support/

In short, Uriel, like most campers around the country, was sad when he learned that camp would be cancelled this summer due to concerns around Covid-19.  He had a lot of time on his hands as his job working in food services at the University of Maryland Hillel was shut down.  He got busy with his art and designed a t-shirt, showing the strength and love of the people inhabiting this planet during this challenging time.

Uriel and his family thought they’d sell 40 t-shirts.   His mother, Dina, reports, “It has morphed into something much bigger, beyond what we ever thought possible!  We placed an order for 210 shirts, and now people want us to place another order!  We are so proud of Uriel.”

Uriel and his parents wanted to express their gratitude to several organizations which have been providing online activities and events during this difficult Covid-time. Uriel is donating 50% of his profits to Camp Ramah New England, Friendship-Circle Maryland, Spirit Club, and VisAbility Art Lab.

So far, Uriel has raised over $1400 to donate to these amazing organizations!

I know Uriel from many years together at Camp Ramah in New England, and through his participation in the National Ramah Tikvah Network’s virtual vocational training program.  I am therefore delighted to learn that Uriel has so far raised $710.33 for Ramah Palmer!  These are tough times for our camps, and every donation helps. 

Uriel and his family demonstrate how far a little creativity and a lot of determination can go in helping others, and putting a smile on people’s faces.  Enjoy the photos below showing Uriel wearing, packaging and delivering the shirts—and note how happy the recipients are.

If you live in Montgomery County, MD, Uriel and family will personally deliver the shirt to you If you live elsewhere, don’t despair.  You can still order.  Shipping for free!

Use this link to order:  https://www.tinyurl.com/EarthStrongTshirtForm

They will send you an email confirming your order and with instructions on how to pay.






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See the Original Article

Jewish Journeys: Tikvah’s Role in the Jewish Disability Narrative

Facilitators: Howard Blas, Director, National Ramah Tikvah Network; Dr. Audra Kaplan, Director of Camper Care and Tikvah Support Program at Ramah Darom
Date: Wednesday, July 22
Time: 8:00 – 9:00 PM ET
Description: A discussion about the growth and impact of Ramah’s Tikvah programs over the past fifty years, through the lens of Tikvah alumni, participants, and staff

Here’s the zoom REGISTER link of the meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYudOCuqzkjHdKn15cCvqSVTsjrOJBC_tDN

Update:-

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What do Phil Lesh and Ringo Starr have in common? Both are famous musicians (who arguably played with two of the best-known bands in music history, both are still playing, and both had plans for their 80th birthday celebrations which needed to be changed due to Covid-19.

Phil Lesh, bass player for the Grateful Dead and still touring with Phil Lesh and Friends, was to celebrate 3 shows at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY—March 13th-15th, with the final show taking place on his actual birthday.  Phil Lesh was set to play with a band featuring the legendary David Crosby as well as Dawes members Taylor Goldsmith, Griffin Goldsmith and Lee Pardini on Friday, March 13. Crosby was also to play on Saturday, March 14 in the concert which was supposed to feature Phil Lesh Quintet (“The Q”) member’s guitarists Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring, keyboardist Rob Barraco and drummer John Molo.

Lesh is still going strong and there is no doubt that he will be back out on the road to celebrate once it is safe.

And today, Ringo Starr turns 80.  The legendary Beatle drummer recently reported in a Times of Israel article, “I just love to play,” Starr says. “I’m still playing. I should have been playing right now, and in the first tour this year, then having a break for my birthday, then September and October tour. I really miss that. I’ve been playing actually more now than I ever did. We’re in a great business and we don’t have to retire — we can just go on as long as we can go on. And I plan to go on a lot longer than 80.”

Fans can participate in Ringo’s Big Birthday Show tonight at 8pm ET on his YouTube channel [https://www.youtube.com/user/ringostarr].  The Starr-studded broadcast will feature performances by Ringo, Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Ben Harper and Dave Grohl, Gary Clark Jr., Sheila E., Sheryl Crow & more, plus additional guest surprises!  The show also features footage of the remaining Beatles cast performing the hit “With a Little Help from My Friends’” live at a 30th anniversary celebration of Ringo’s All Starr Band tours, filmed this past September.

Ringo & Barbara Starkey founded The Lotus Foundation to fund, support, participate in and promote charitable projects aimed at advancing social welfare in diverse areas. The Lotus Foundation will be splitting donations from the show evenly between 4 organizations doing important, vital work around the world: Black Lives Matter Global Network, The David Lynch Foundation, MusiCares & WaterAid.

Starr is excited about the celebration, which will take a slightly different form from previous birthday celebrations.  “I’ve got a huge birthday; I am going to be 80,” says Starr. “But I am going to celebrate it a little differently this year from the last 12 years, where we had the peace and love moment at noon.” The annual tradition began in 2008 at a 100-guest gathering for his birthday at the Hard Rock in Chicago. It has expanded to 27 countries, with the gathering’s main stage in Hollywood.

Tonight offers an opportunity to reflect on the impressive careers and years of service of both Lesh and Starr.  They have seen and experienced so much over the decades.  Both are grandfathers, and continue to bring joy to their loving, admiring fans. 

Ringo Starr reports, “I’ve got eight grandchildren now and a great-grandson. Life has been very kind to me. And we’re in a great business because we don’t have to retire; we can just go on as long as we can go on. And I plan to go on a lot longer than 80.”

Please DON’T retire anytime soon, Phil and Ringo!  Happy Birthday!

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It is hard to believe that exactly five months ago, I was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.    But I am not at all central to the story.

Yes, climbing the 19,341 mountain is a bucket list item and is a physical and mental challenge.  Yes, 27 people climbed together and managed to observe Shabbat, kashrut and even carry a torah scroll to be read during weekday and Sabbath prayers.  Yes, we had the support of 3 cooks, 11 guides and 70 porters.  Yes, mileage ranged from 3.1 miles on the acclimation days, to 13.7 miles as we hiked through the night to the summit

But the central “characters” of the story are the 4 extraordinary climbers from from Montana in the US, Texas (by way of Peru), Israel and Tanzania—Starla, Marcela, Arnon and Arnold are great conversationalists, fun people, funny, fun to be with, and also people with paraplegia.   They, and the Trekker (by Paratrek), a durable vehicle designed by Omer Tsur (and his paralyzed dad), where the central people on the climb.  The other 23 were supporting actors, learning about FAISR, Friends of Access Israel’s motto, “Accessible Together.”   

Several of us have the honor of sharing the story of our journey with Ramaz Alumni Virtual Campus on Zoom tomorrow.  We have intentionally called our presentation, “Accessible Together:   The Conquering of Mount Kilimanjaro with Paraplegia and Other Different Abilities.    I will share the story of the four climbers who have extraordinary abilities, and also have paraplegia.

If you’d like the Zoom link, please reach out to me.  The presentation is Wednesday, July 8, at 8 PM EDT




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