How I learned to let go of blame and judgement around the California Water Crisis:

I used to get really angry when I drove through Southern California and saw manicured lawns and pools.

California has a terrible water crisis. We are running out of water.

My reaction stemmed from the fact that people continued to behave as though they could use as much as they wanted.

But I have learned to evolve my thinking:

Lawns and pools, during a drought, in the middle of a desert, look and feel really bad.

But here’s the reality: the amount of water that…


How well do you know American history?

I mean REALLY know. Not just what we read in the textbooks back in high school and college. Not only the stories, events, and battles that have been officially memorialized by the Federal Government.

The stuff we learned in school was only a portion of what happened. And the narratives and facts in textbooks are often manipulated and distorted to meet a political or ideological end.

Similarly, the conventional curriculums of American history are almost always created by White academics, which means that even the most well-meaning accounts are biased towards a caucasian…


Cave of the Machpelah

In December 2012, I boarded a bulletproof bus in Jerusalem and rode directly into the West Bank.

I was on an Israel trip with a program called Meor, an organization working to revitalize Jewish engagement on college campuses. I participated in their programs since my sophomore year at the University of Maryland, and this senior year trip was the culmination of the experience: studying in an Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva (school) and traveling around Israel.

Our bus passed through a military checkpoint of the border wall that separates Israel-proper from the West Bank. …


You are already a risk-taker.

Whether or not you see yourself this way, chances are that it’s true.

Why?

Because you have engaged in risky behaviors your entire life, and you will continue to do so after the Pandemic ends.

I’m going to focus on one specific behavior: driving.

Unless you live under a rock, you have traveled in cars since you were very young. Driving is astoundingly risky; almost 40,000 people were killed in the US in 2019 from traffic fatalities, and 4.4 million were injured enough to require medical attention.

The vast majority of us continue to drive…


Seder Plate

I have celebrated Passover many times over the years, but never have I ever celebrated Passover during a pandemic.

This is uncharted territory for every living Jew today, but it is not new for the religion as a whole. After all, Jewish history spans thousands of years and survived countless brutally infectious diseases, from the Black Plague of 1347 to the Spanish flu of 1918.

Albeit, they did not have digital technology in previous pandemics, so we are still breaking ground with the Zoom Passover Seder.*

As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe, I am retreating into the ritual, security…


Visiting Singapore’s Changi Airport, June 2019

As racism rises in the wake of the Coronavirus, I want to take a moment to express my total and absolute solidarity with East Asian-American communities, and members of the East Asian diaspora across the globe.

Last year, I was lucky enough to visit Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. I was immensely struck by the advanced nature of these societies. I walked away with elevated respect for the Asian work ethic, as well as the Confucian values and ideals that viscerally emanate throughout.

When I was in Singapore, I met with officials from their national water municipality. If I…


“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung

Right now, as you start reading this essay, there is a part of your mind operating completely outside of your awareness. It is processing information, making decisions, and guiding your thoughts. In a way, it seems to have a “mind of its own.”

Welcome to your unconscious mind.

Throughout my adult life, I have struggled to understand the unconscious. I’ve been unnerved and fascinated by its mystery. …


The New Year is a time for renewal. We have the chance for personal reflection, ends and beginnings, death and rebirth, new intentions and directions.

Late December is one of the quietest periods of the year, when work slows down, when we can savor the moment, spend time with family, when we have the opportunity to travel to distant lands or meditate in tranquility.

I look forward to this time every year, because it gives me the chance to read more, to focus on non-work activities, and consciously deliberate on my year ahead. My birthday is on Dec. …


IDEATE 2019 (Photo credit: Herman Gyr)

There is a famous Indian proverb where six blind men encounter an elephant. Lacking sight and never having heard of such a creature before, the men are forced to conceptualize what an elephant is by reaching out and touching it. Each puts his hand on a different part of the elephant; one brushes the tusks, one grabs the tail, one pets the back, and so on.

They each report on their findings to the group and come to a vicious disagreement of what an actual elephant is. …


Jericó, Colombia

Latin America has played an important role in my adult life. In this essay, I share stories from Central and South America that have shaped my perspectives and worldview.

My intention with this essay is to share the highs and the lows of my journeys; the joyful moments as well as the downright frightening. I also recognize that many people don’t get to travel as much as I do, and I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had.

Costa Rica

Five years ago, I quit my job at a commercial bank in dark, chilly Buffalo, New York, and flew to Costa…

Jeff Pawlak

Co-founder, Streetlight.

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