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A Sephardic Lighthouse:
Albert Levy & the Sephardic Jewish Journey
13. A Notebook of Inspiration

Among the mementos Levy left behind, in the care of his family, is a small, pocket-sized, handwritten notebook. While the first half is penned in Ladino, in soletreo (the handwritten Sephardic style of the Hebrew alphabet), the second portion of the notebook is in English, the language Levy increasingly adopted in the United States. This personal notebook contained some of Levy’s own notes as well as a wide variety of quotations that interested Levy. He may have drawn on these passages for inspiration for his many talks, newspaper articles, and teaching endeavors. The very first note written in English captures the kind of spirit of the notes: “Physically impossible to remain blue or depressed while you are acting out the symptoms of being radiantly happy!” On the pages that follow, Levy recorded numerous thoughts and quotes that offer insight into his way of thinking.

Notes in Soletreo in Levy's notebook

Notes in Soletreo in Levy’s notebook. Courtesy of Albert Levy’s granddaughter Linda (Tacher) Robke. (ST00682)

“Put a big broad honest-to-God smile on your face; throw back your shoulders, take a good, deep breath; and sing a snatch of song. If you can’t sing, whistle. If you can’t whistle, hum. You will quickly discover what William James was talking about – that is every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding that limit.”

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you’ll be criticized anyways. You’ll be dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t”

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy Peace. Where there is hatred, let me show love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith, where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy.”

“If we are worried and anxious – why not try God? Why not, as Emmanuel Kant said, ‘accept a belief in God because we need such a belief’? Why not link ourselves now ‘with the inexhaustible motive power that rejoins the universe’?”

“‘Man is not made to understand life, but to live it’” Santayana
“Faith is one of the forces by which men live, and the total absence of it means collapse”

“‘Doing good to others is not a duty. It is a joy, for it increases your own health and happiness’” Zoroaster

When you have a lemon make lemonade.
“‘When you are good to others, you are best to yourself” Benjamin Franklin

“I have the blues because I had no shoes, until upon the street I met a man who had no feet”
“I can’t write a book commensurate with Shakespeare, but I can write a book by me”

“ ‘Our life is what our thoughts make it’” Marcus Aurelius
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”
“ ‘An angry man is always full of poison” Confucius

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”

More notes from Levy's notebook

More notes from Levy’s notebook. Courtesy of Albert Levy’s granddaughter Linda (Tacher) Robke. (ST00682)

“To every ailment under the sun, there is a remedy, or there is none; if there is one, try to find it; if there be none, never mind it”

“‘Life is too short to be little’” Disraeli

“‘The Lord may forgive us our sings, but the nervous system never does’”
“‘The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not’” George Bernard Shaw

“Relaxing Recreation: The most relaxing recreating forces are a healthy religion, sleep, music, and laughter. Have faith in God – learn to sleep well – Love good music – see the funny side of life – and health and happiness will be yours”

“‘ The greatest mistake physicians make is that they attempt to cure the body without attempting to cure the mind; yet the mind and body are one and should not be treated separately!’” Plato

“Fear causes worry. Worry makes you tense and nervous and affects the nerves of your stomach and actually changes the gastric juices of your stomach from normal to abnormal and often leads to stomach ulcers”

“‘True peace of mind comes from accepting the worst” Lin Yutang

“‘This day! Such is the salutation of the dawn’” Kalidasa

“Salutation to the Dawn. Look to this day! For it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of your existence: The bliss of growth; The glory of action; The splendor of achievement; For yesterday is but a dream, And tomorrow is only a vision; But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, And every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to Happy the man, and happy he alone, he, who can call today his own; he who, secure within can say: ‘Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have lived today!’” Horace

“‘Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at the distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand’” Thomas Carlyle
“Waste of energy, mental distress, nervousness, worries dog the steps of a man who is anxious about the future”

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