Aloha, mahalo, and ohana

There are three Hawaiian words that I’ve learned thus far: Aloha, mahalo, and ohana.

In addition to hello and goodbye, the word Aloha, much like the Hebrew word shalom, means far more. It means affection, mercy, compassion, and peace. The spirit of aloha is an attitude, a way of being in the world. A spirit of aloha here entails patience, equanimity, and generosity of spirit. Car horns are honked only when safety is at stake. People (other than tourists) don’t get annoyed by waiting in long lines. People don’t yell or play loud music in deference to others around them. Clearly, the world would be a kinder, gentler place if we all excelled in aloha spirit. I also wouldn’t have to work so hard on practicing my middot/virtues in my Mussar practice, as it would come more naturally!

Ohana means “family,” whether adoptive, intentional, or blood-related. Thus far, I have been with ohana here in Hawaii. First, I stayed with my dear college friend Peter.

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Me and Peter. This was my second visit to Hawaii to see Pater. Nine years ago, my husband Chaim joined me. In addition to our visit to Oahu, we had gone to Molokai Island with Peter, one of the least touristed Hawaiian islands. That is where the famous leper colony was, 1866-1969.

Then on Sunday my beloved brother and his family arrived (or more to the point, my beloved 10-year-old twin niece Sarah and nephew Marcus arrived with their parents).

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My brother-in-law Rob (back left), my brother Howard (back right), Marcus, me, and Sarah (front from left to right)

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This is the view from our rental home. It reminds me of Gilligan’s Island.

Today, in addition to our swim and surfer-watching at Waikiki beach, we went to Pearl Harbor. We visited the memorial to the USS Arizona, one of the 8 battleships that were attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. This ship exploded and sank, killing 1178 servicemen.

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The memorial to the USS Arizona is built over the sunken ship. You can look down and see parts of it, including the oil that is still leaking from it these many years later.

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This is a photo of an urn of ashes being taken into the sunken USS Arizona for burial. Some of the survivors of that tragedy have asked to be buried with their military brothers after death. One of the dive team members said, “It is a large hole and we place the urn through and then you kind of feel it release… I tell the family, when I feel that pull, it’s the ship accepting one of its own back.”

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I cried a lot at the memorial today. It was holy ground, and I felt its sanctity. I also viscerally felt the horror of war and remembered a wallhanging of my teenaged years: “War is not healthy for children and other living things.”

 

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The view from Pali Lookout.

Mahalo means thank you. Mahalo to Oahu and Big Island (and to Peter, Howard, Rob, Sarah, Marcus, and my brother’s friend Bob) for the adventures thus far. More to come from Kauai where we will be for the next five days.

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5 thoughts on “Aloha, mahalo, and ohana

  1. Pam, I’m so glad you’re having a great visit. The other day I had great revelation! After all these years of hearing about your friend Peter I learned that he was the same Peter who had been connected to my friend Leslie z”l— (I believe she had been his madricha along the way…).

    Only discovered it through FaceBook (Peter & I are FB friends) & then again with your pics!

    Sending buckets of love all around!!! ❤️❤️❤️— n

    artist/educator http://www.nancykatzwilmark.com 413.455.4885

    >

  2. been there,done that— comment-reply@wordpress.com wrote:From: paminjerusalem <comment-reply@wordpress.com>To: chaim@bcn.netSubject: [New post] Aloha, mahalo, and ohanaDate: Wed, 30 Mar 2016 10:38:52 +0000

    paminjerusalem posted: “There are three Hawaiian words that I’ve learned thus far: Aloha, mahalo, and ohana.

    In addition to hello and goodbye, the word Aloha, much like the Hebrew word shalom, means far more. It means affection, mercy, compassion, and peace. The spirit of alo”

  3. What wonderful photos. They make me want to get on the next flight out. So happy for you to be with your family. Looking forward to hearing the details upon your return.

  4. Thanks for sharing your journey and so sweet to see pix of your brother and his family. The description of Pearl Harbor and the urns was especially meaningful as my father served on a naval destroyer in the Pacific during WWII and could never speak about his experiences as they were so horrible. Sending love.

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