January 19, 2013

Voting in Israel's 19th Knesset (Parliament) elections

This Tuesday, I'll be traveling (about an hour) from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (my official residence) to cast my ballot for the political party that I want to gain the most seats in the 19th Knesset (Parliament) election. I have till then to decide which among my three "finalist" parties will get my vote. 

To inform my decision, beyond reading daily commentaries online, I have attended panel discussions with representative members on the slates of four parties (from left to right and from secular to far-right ultra-nationalist and religious Zionist) — among some 34 parties in the competition! And I have attended a parlor meeting with the Number Two person on one party's slate. Daily, I speak with Israelis whose thinking is aligned with ethical principles including justice, democracy, and equal access to rights for all citizens. And whose actions reflect those principles. And, along with countless others, I learn about the parties (and Israeli voters) from TV political satires such as this one, a wannabe The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Watch the video (3:37 minutes).


January 12, 2013

In memoriam: Pritam Adhikari — he lived briefly, in vivid colors

The student and the professor: Bhutanese-born Pritam, a Hindu,
and Israeli-born, Dr. Yedidia Neumeir, an Orthodox Jew.
We can never know which goodbye is the last.
I am missing Pritam Adhikari whose brief life proved that a person can overcome almost all conventional odds in shaping a dream and taking every possible step to reach it. Just this week, Pritam was to have started classes at Georgia Tech following two years' studying at Oglethorpe University. He died last Saturday following a brief illness. He was 22.

Pritam, grew up in a refugee camp, in Nepal, his 100,000-person community victims of ethnic cleansing in Bhutan, their homeland. In the camp, playing with paper airplanes, Pritam's early childhood dream of becoming an aerospace engineer was born. In August 2008, his family joined the growing Bhutanese refugee community in Atlanta. Last Sunday, his parents and immediate and extended family, friends, and community — more than 1000 people mourned the courageous, brilliant, accomplished, and confident soul who was without a trace of arrogance.

In late 2010, when he was applying to colleges in the USA, he asked me to review his personal essay, a requirement for all applications, and to work with him to present a sharp, clear picture of his candidacy. Today, Pritam's essay has become a written legacy and testament that neither false privileges of income, skin color, gender, nationality, nor "status" of any kind will deter a young refugee with pluck, brains, focus, faith, and support and love of family, community, and allies worldwide.

Pritam, your life’s journey is a gift for eternity. And, I thank you, grateful that we met.

Pritam's personal essay

Related posts
An Appreciation: Pritam Adhikari
In Memory of a Wonderful Friend
The dream recedes unrealized
At Georgia Tech: You're never too young to learn