Netanyahu: Where was he on Holocaust Remembrance Day?


For a man who has made a career out of reminding the world that Jews are victims, he was unconscionably silent on the Trump Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.

trump-netanyahu

Remember that statement? The one that didn’t mention the 6 million Jews that were systematically murdered by the Third Reich? The one that dog-whistled to neonazis, white supremacists, and anti-Semites all over the nation? The one that Weasel Kushner was also unimaginably mute about?

I’m not sure Netanyahu has taken it to heart that most American Jews can’t stand Trump. That 76% of professed Jews, including Zionist Jews such as myself, voted against the nascent dictator.

I wonder how Bibi’s feeling today, now that, seemingly on whim, Trump has reversed himself on the matter of Israeli settlements.Maybe Trump’s getting back at the American Jewish community for opposing him.

I hope that the hawkish Jews who voted for Trump finally realize that they can’t count on his support of Israel’s right. After the events of recent days, I can’t see why any of our allies would feel that they can count on Der GropenFuehrer. He has no core principles, other than his narcissism, and toadying to that is not even a guarantee of a good outcome. Just ask Chris Christie.

Feeling betrayed, Mr. Prime Minister?

Jews We Wish Were Gentile: Jared Kushner


First of all, I want to explain the title of this and similar posts.

As Jews, we are instinctively defensive. History has given us plenty of cause to be wary. Current events, such as the President Drumpf’s failure to mention Jews in the Holocaust are not very reassuring. We have a general feeling of  being exposed and vulnerable. Remember the scene in “Annie Hall” where Woody Allen’s character goes to visit Diane Keaton’s family? If you don’t. . .

 

 

 

The corollary to this is the collective belief that, ultimately, that we are  responsible for our own survival and well-being. Assimilation with the dominant culture will not protect us. Institutions and laws will protect us, but only up to a limit.

Add to that the tendency of a minority to either feel collective guilt or feel that collective guilt is being put upon the entire minority. Do you worry whether or not your state was on the right side of the Civil War, even though your great-great grandparents were still stuck in European ghettos? When Bernie Madoff was arrested, did part of you say, “Aw shit, did he have to be Jewish?”

So no, it’s not my responsibility, it’s not my fault, it shouldn’t reflect anything on me or any other Jew that Jared Kushner is one of Drumpf’s closest advisors. It shouldn’t reflect on me that his multi-millionaire father engaged in fraud and witness intimidation. It shouldn’t say anything bad about any of us that Kushner had Chris Christie sacked for doing his job as New Jersey Attorney General and sending his dad to prison.

But we feel like it does. And in the minds of many others, it does. When a member of a minority does something we don’t like, there is a tendency of too many in the population to attribute collective blame to the entire group.

In any case, Kushner’s sycophantic silence on Drumpf’s Holocaust Memorial Day statement, a statement that purposefully fails to mention the Jewish victims of the “Final Solution,” shows how little he has learned from being Jewish, in spite of purportedly being Orthodox and observant. He is an embarrassment, and his presence in the White House should be upsetting to Jews who take seriously the commandment to improve the world.

kushner
How long till he grows a conscience, if ever? Does he have Bannon over for dinner?

If You’re Jewish and Voted for Trump, I’d like to hear from you


I find it sad (among other emotions) that anyone who professes to be Jewish would actually vote for someone who embodies authoritarianism, xenophobia, racism, lack of empathy, etc, but I suppose you have your reasons.

trump-yarmulka
yechhhh

After the president’s careful avoidance of mentioning Jews as victims of the Holocaust (don’t wanna offend those Holocaust deniers who voted for me, after all, loving me is the minimum and sufficient requirement  of being a tremendous person), and

After Reince Priebus’s disgusting excuse when confronted on the matter, I’m wondering if any of my coreligionists (those of the measly-but-way-too-large 24% that actually voted for him) have flipped from pro-Drumpf to anti-Drumpf.

Maybe that was worded a bit harshly.

OK. Why did you vote for Drumpf, and have you changed your mind?

(the cartoon bubble/comment sign is, for some strange reason, at the top of this post)

The New Year Arrives!


A Good 5775 to All of You!

Yes, 5775 years from Creation according to the Hebrew Bible. A short time, indeed, for the Grand Canyon, dinosaurs, the carving of the Great Lakes, etc!

Tough one to swallow in this day and age? You’re not just whistlin’ Dixie, buddy.

And get ready, ’cause for the next 10 days, you’re really gonna have that semitic noodle of yours twisted in a Gordian knot.

Why? Because we are,

once again, at

 the most difficult time of the year.

That season when we Members of the Tribe are stuck in synagogues all over the world, wondering 1) when the cantor will finish and 2) just what in tarnation it means to be  “One of the Chosen.”

nixon

A confession: I do not have faith. I find that not only can I not believe the information in the first paragraph of this post, there are a whole host of other things that are tougher to swallow than unrefrigerated gefilte fish.

Among those other  things I do not believe:

1) That a Deity gave to Moses a law on Mt. Sinai,

2) That He also  gave Moses both a Written Law and an Oral Law, and that the Oral Law was later codified in the Mishnah and the Gemara.

3) That the aforesaid Deity said “Don’t cook a kid in it’s mother’s milk” so that we had to eat off of different sets dishes for cheese and for chicken livers.

This time of year gets to be a pretty rough row to hoe, sometimes, especially since I have no intention of giving up being Jewish.

FAITH

I have no problem co-existing with so-called People of Faith, at least when they are not passing discriminatory or theocratic laws, engaging in mass destruction, cutting off heads, waging jihad or or going on Crusades. All in all, I’d also rather they leave the nativity scenes off of public property, but in those cases no one is dying or even getting bruises, so I do my best just to look the other way and remember that in a few weeks all that red and green annoyance is going to be in garbage cans awaiting removal, and the United States will start getting ready for Presidents’ Day sales. Apparently, Big Religion is not going away, so I will have to console myself by the thought that a lot of the time POFs can be the world’s greatest neighbors. As I am unwilling to renounce my Judaism, either as culture, history, or as my personal choice of mysticism,  I still voluntarily place myself in the midst of my coreligionists.   Hell, my best friend, zichrono livrakha, became a POF in the last decade or so of his life, and he was truly a mensch. (He was a mensch, though, before his tshuva.)

However, when POFs want me to believe, I think that they fundamentally misunderstand their own faith. Say you’re dating someone, and then on the 3rd or 30th date, she says, “I love you.” You might think, OK, hmmm, what does that mean? Or you might think, Oh, I’m so happy! You may even blurt out, I love you, too! It’s possible though that  you may instead think, Uh-oh, this is not going to end well. Imagine, in addition to that that the person making that confession adds on the imperative, “Love me! Love me like I love you!” Now you are really starting to get upset. Because while it is nice to be loved, being loved does not make you love. You can’t make yourself love someone. Neither can Bonnie Raitt.

Faith is the same thing. You can put hold a knife against someone’s throat, a gun to his head, his feet to the fire, but you can’t make him believe. You can make him say he believes, but it’s like that couple: you know you’re lying, she knows you’re lying, you know she knows, but for some reason–because it makes life easier at the moment–you just go ahead and say it. People who don’t believe are not going to believe no matter how many times they say it. The deed does not shape the heart. There are people who could go to church, synagogue, mosque, whatever for the rest of their lives, and no amount of prayer or observance is going to change the fact that they will not believe. They’re just not made that way.

So believe this, People of Faith, you do not want People Who Don’t Believe to say that they are believers. You do not want to consign them the 8th circle of Inferno. You do not want to require faith. Fortunately, we Jews have long tolerated the skeptics among us, and excommunicated heretics like Spinoza are paradoxically admired. I can dwell with the Believers, and we accept each other.

(Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself.I am large,  I contain multitudes.)

PS: I am still hoping that G-d strikes Eric Cantor with the inability to speak.

 

 

 

 

Packing, Part 2, or what Israel was like in 1975


This is not what I want to be doing. I want to be outside enjoying the day, instead of deciding which of my belongings I truly need and which need to be consigned to the trash heap, the thrift shop,  the public library (do we need them anymore?), left anonymously at Starbucks or a lunch counter…

Here is a book called Facts about Israel, published by the Division of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I’m thinking sometime about 1975.

facts about israel

There are 34,393 sqm within the cease-fire lines from the Six-Day War.

The distance from Jerusalem to Haifa is 94 miles, to Tel Aviv a mere 38.

Modern Israel has never known permanent boundaries.

Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950. (I don’t know when/if they released the claim).

Ha’Aretz , the oldest Hebrew language newspaper, was founded in 1917. The Jerusalem Post, the oldest English language daily, in 1932.

The Israel Communist Party had one seat in the Knesset at the time of publication.

Men were in the Reserves until age 55.

The book refers to the geographical place as “the Land,” a direct translation of the Hebrew “Ha’Aretz.”

So, this isn’t about packing things up. It’s about What I Will  do With Facts about Israel from 1975. To me it is a fascinating snapshot of a moment in time, that time when Jews traveled to the Sinai and the West Bank in tour groups (someone carrying a gun), but basically without fear. There were no big hotels in Sinai. Tourists slept on top of their sleeping bags under the desert sky. There were some grass shacks, but there wasn’t any plumbing. Israelis didn’t build anything, they knew they were leaving someday. They probably had no idea it would be so soon. I think that  Camp David took us all by surprise.

And then there is now. Most everyone hates us for being Jewish and Zionist, but we’re sort of used to it. Conservative (i.e. Republican Jews, shudder) have no problem. They can hate the liberal world for everything, from political policy to its anti-Israel zeal. For liberals like myself, we find ourselves at odds with the Left we are normally sympathetic to. We are not going to give in to anti-Semitic (because that’s what it is) propaganda just because we think that all Americans should have health insurance and that American defense spending should be lower and the death penalty is a travesty and that we need to spend more on infrastructure . Ain’t gonna happen.

Like I said, shouldn’t I be outside, enjoying the ridiculously short New England summer?facts israel3

 

from Jews we wish were Gentiles, Vol II :Rabbi Daniel Lapin


Wherein this bozo from Central Casting actually and without irony answers Pat Robertson’s question: “Why are Jews so rich?”
lapinIn case you missed Pat Roberton’s TV show, or in case you don’t watch Fox News, this embarrassment to the tribe was on the 700 Club perpetuating medieval stereotypes about his own group. Poor guy, his rebbe probably told him  that The Merchant of Venice was a dramatization of real occurrence. Here’s the Salon article.

 

and because he never ceases to embarrass us….

adelson

 

Jerusalem from Jerusalem


Before the dis-occupation of Sinai, before the Sadat visit, a more innocent version of Zionism, and a lower, more human profile to Jerusalem's skyline
Before the dis-occupation of Sinai, before the Sadat visit, a more innocent version of Zionism, and a lower, more human profile to Jerusalem’s skyline.

viewed from French Hill, 1977.

This photo was probably taken from a building on Dakar Alley. Does anyone have an updated version?

Rabbi Victor Urecki Responds To My Previous Post On My Jewish Problem(s)


Rabbi Urecki, spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Charleston, WV, responded to my post via Facebook. I have copied it below.

rabbi urecki

“I tend to feel that the problem with our Sunday/Hebrew school education is that it is based on the mistaken notion that religion is passed on by a third party. It isn’t. It is absorbed through experience. Real passionate and regular experience. And like exercise, it is a life long endeavor. Read the David Brooks piece in This weekend’s New York Times. Religion is about doing. And doing AND doing. Most families have other priorities and Sunday school, therefore, becomes two hours of learning about meaningless rituals that have no purpose.

“We educators can explain WHY we do the things we do but only if the home is positively acting on those practices. And making it a cornerstone of their life experiences. Sunday school is boring because we try to get our students to do things their parents are unable or unwilling to experience or practice. Or at least try to understand and practice themselves. Kinda like trying to teach kids the value of good nutrition and yet, their parents take them to McDonald’s or Wendy’s every day. Not sure why I would like to eat healthy either. And then imagine parents eating at those places but telling their kids they can only eat salad for the next couple of years . “Why?” “Because it is good for you. I had to do it when I was your age” “But you don’t now! ” “When you are my age, you can eat whatever you want but for now, eat as your told”. Yep, that oughta work.

“Your piece deserves much more, but  this is the best I can do on the stationary bike this morning! Hope all is well with you and your family!

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