Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Month: November, 2013

Committed Happily Ever After

Committed: A Love Story is the latest audio book I’m listening to. In it, author Elizabeth Gilbert gives a colossal account of marriage. From the tribal women in Vietnam to modern day Americans, she observes, compares and contrasts marriages, their success and failures, and comes to the conclusion that love is not enough to make a marriage work. You need to also put some thought into it. That’s what differentiates infatuation from real love. Furthermore, she highly recommends that men and women do not rely on their spouses for happiness. Each person is responsible for his or her own state of mind and spirit.

In a memoir I listened to last week, Three Weeks with My Brother, author Nicholas Sparks has a conversation about marriage with his brother Micah. Micah believed that the most important thing to a successful marriage was communication. Nicholas responded, “What’s the use of communication, in the case of an affair for instance, if you are not committed? If two people are committed to the marriage, if they really want to make it work, then they’ll find a way to do it. No matter what happens in life.”

Both Gilbert and Sparks give good old fashioned advice which I would like to share with newlyweds in general, particularly the newlyweds I attended the wedding of last Sunday – where in the midst of a storm and while the power was out inside our home, my family and I enjoyed the ambience of a fancy and beautiful wedding, delicious food, and more food, and my favorite, a violinist who during dinner played famous classics, like the Godfather love theme.

Cheers to healthy, happy marriages!

Firas and Nora's Wedding2

Detroit Unleaded – Red Carpet Premiere

Detroit Unleaded

When I received an invitation to view Detroit Unleaded at the Detroit Institute of Film, for its red carpet premiere, I had to smile. “You did it, Roula!” I thought.

Roula Nashef, the writer, director and producer of the film went to the same film school I went to, Motion Picture Institute of Michigan. I had met her on several occasions and I have been following her hard and long journey towards completing her first feature film. As a filmmaker myself, it is inspiring to see a woman like Roula not only get her film onto the big screen, in an industry where the percentage of women filmmakers is less than 9 percent, but for the film to also win awards.

The Director of the Detroit Institute of Films was at the Toronto Film Festival when he decided to watch Detroit Unleaded. He was impressed.

“When I find something that is extraordinary I try to present it to as many people as humanly possible,” he said tonight. “I fell in love with this movie. The whole country will ultimately fall in love with this movie because it is a wonderful movie.”

That it is. Aside from the fact that it is 100% cast and filmed in Detroit and that it portrays a more realistic image of Arab-Americans, Detroit Unleaded is nicely done, with genuine humor.

Roula will surely one day make Hollywood films. I look forward to watching her career move in that direction.

For more information about the film, visit
To watch the trailer, click here

Planting a Tree in Israel


A friend of mine who has been experiencing some health issues told me that one of her dear friends planted a tree for her in Israel, as a get-well wish. This is an old honored Jewish tradition to show love and support to someone. Over the last 100 years, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) has planted over 250 million trees in the land of Israel.

I was intrigued by this tradition, especially given my recent observation and respect for trees. And my friend was truly touched by this gift, which was accompanies by a card with her name written in Hebrew.

Earlier, she and I were talking about how important it is to be open minded and accepting of other cultures, religions and nationalities. That’s when she told me about what she called her “healing tree” and she added, “I would be a fool not to take the good others offer me. What does it hurt?”

Wise words from a young woman who appreciates the value of a deep rooted symbolic and heartfelt gesture and who recognizes that, as she said, “Throwing away the opportunities that exist in them is doing ourselves the greatest disservice.”