Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Time to Educate the Young About What's at Stake

 The chatter surrounding Joe Biden’s age is intense and interminable. It is mingled with laments that young voters do not identify with the 81-year-old president and may not vote for his re-election, or may just not vote at all. Either scenario would help his expected Republican opponent Donald Trump recapture the White House. 

As Biden appears unlikely to step aside in favor of a younger Democratic candidate, it is now time for Democrats and others who fear a second Trump inauguration to mount a concerted effort to educate through advertisements and one-to-one conversations with disaffected and dispassionate voters all that is at stake next November. 

The ads and talks should, individually or collectively, include the following themes:

*Are you concerned about the future of reproductive rights?

*Should privacy and lifestyle rights be protected? 

*Is the separation of church and state important?

*Do you favor tighter gun control laws? 

*Should we do more to protect the earth’s environment? 

*Is saving democracy, the rule of law and free elections, at home and abroad, worthwhile? 

*Should Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) be protected?

Joe Biden has championed these causes. His likely opponent has not. 

Over and over it must be stressed that a vote for Joe Biden, no matter how unenthusiastic it might be registered, would help sustain a positive future. 

The MAGA alternative would produce a mega disaster. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

CJ's Creative Thanksgiving Story

I’m a reporter and analytical writer. Which possibly explains why I never tried creative writing (though some would argue many of my blogs contain a fair share of whimsy). 

My eight year old granddaughter, CJ (Cecilia Jane), on the other hand, has displayed a flair for storytelling. Here’s her third grade Thanksgiving Wacky Doodle and Writing assignment, to write a wacky story in which a turkey hatches a diabolical escape plan (if you can’t read her handwriting I’ve transcribed it for you, complete with the occasional misspellings):

“Now there once was a big fat turcky. He loved his life, he loved to eat,. He loved mash potatos, he liked cranbary sauce, he liked pie. But most of all he liked apple pie. So one day … Well to be precise the day befor Thaks giving. he was wallking along a garden gate. when he stepped in red goo. He looked at his foot & went “mmh.” Then a cage fell on him. A man came out of the house next to him. he was capturd. When he rvivd he was in a pot & alredy thinking of a way out. Now there was a hole in the wall & remember this turky was very fat & the hole was very small. But he was not smart. He lungd towd the hole but did not fit he was sooo mad he bangd his belly agenst the wall. crack! He was exided he did it agen. there was now another hole in the wall still not big enof for him. He saw the mans shado coming from the stairs in the corner holeding a knife. The turcky did it agen the hole broke open! he ran out in th open he was free! the end or maby not … A new story is olways starting.”

I’m admittedly prejudiced. I give CJ an A for creativity, extra credit for appropriate use of ampersands, and a gold star for penmanship.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy your families.   

Monday, November 20, 2023

Tesla Isn't Your Only E-Car Alternative

For many decades Henry Ford’s antisemitic bigotry kept Jews from patronizing his automobile company. It was only after his passing and his successors’ repudiation of his venomous philosophy that Jews en masse started driving Fords. My two cars today are Fords. My first car was a 1966 Mustang. Fire engine red. 

Consumer boycotts were not confined to Ford. After World War II many Jews refused to ride, much less buy, German cars in all price ranges, from Volkswagens to Mercedes, even though during trips to Israel Mercedes taxis were omnipresent as part of Germany’s reparations for the Nazi-run Holocaust. 

With antisemitism on the rise, and given a worldwide soap box platform on Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, it is time for a new boycott to take hold. 

Anyone, especially any Jew, that henceforth buys a Tesla should be shamed and ashamed. There are now sufficient electric vehicle alternatives besides those produced by Musk’s Tesla. 

Musk claims free, uncensored speech is his mantra, even if it costs him revenue. It is unfortunate that a multi-billionaire like Musk, who does not really have to answer to shareholders or a board of directors because of his large holdings, can shrug off criticism. 

But other companies and executives not so cushioned from public outrage are displaying their rejection of Musk’s endorsement of antisemitism by canceling advertising on X (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/18/technology/elon-musk-twitter-x-advertisers.html?smid=url-share).

Corporate action is not enough. Musk’s abhorrent antisemitism demands an individual, personal commitment. 

Cease Fire Perspective: In the war against Hamas, Israel is said to have three main objectives: repatriation of the near 240 hostages taken by Hamas and it co-terrorist organizations on October 7, the destruction of Hamas infrastructure and the elimination of Hamas leadership in Gaza. 

I would specify another objective—the discovery and destruction of rockets targeted at Israel. Since October 7 Hamas has launched an estimated 9,500 rockets, including 3,000 in the first hours of the assault, according to the Israeli Defense Force as reported by the Times of Israel. 

Many of these rockets are launched indiscriminately, a “moonshot” meant to infuse terror among Israelis. 

Israel has dropped many thousands more bombs, killing more than 13,000 Palestinians, prompting international calls for a cease fire. But, as Hillary Rodham Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, told “The View” on November 8, “A cease fire done prematurely benefits those who do not abide by any laws, by any rules, by any character values of human life.” 

She noted that a cease fire existed on October 6 which Hamas brutally and inhumanely violated on October 7 (https://abcnews.go.com/theview/video/hillary-clinton-explains-recent-comments-israel-hamas-war-104730226 ).

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Redeem Hostages: From the Beginning a Jewish Imperative

Three times a day observant Jews recite the “Shemoneh Esrai,” also called the “Amidah,” a central prayer cataloging God’s blessings and seeking God’s interventions. One of the first paragraphs of the prayer is: 

“Sustainer of the living with kindliness, Resurrector of the dead with great mercy, Supporter of the fallen, and Healer of the sick, and RELEASER OF THE IMPRISONED [emphasis added], and Fulfiller of His faithfulness to those who sleep in the dust. Who is like You, Master of mighty deeds, and Who can be compared to You, King who causes death and restores life, and causes deliverance to sprout forth.”

According to the Bible (Genesis XIV, 1-17), one of the first exploits of the patriarch Abraham after he left his father’s home in Haran to settle in the land of Canaan was the rescue of his nephew Lot who had been taken hostage by Chedorlaomer, king of Elam and allied kings. 

Is there any wonder, then, that Israel and world Jewry are fixated on the release of the imprisoned hostages taken by Hamas? 

Equally important to the safe return of the hostages are the discovery and destruction of the missiles Hamas has hidden inside Gaza. Any ceasefire undertaken before those objectives are accomplished would simply guarantee future aggressions by Hamas.

Charlie’s Bat-Mitzvah: Through tears, hearts filled with sorrow, stuck in our throats, we partied. 

News of Middle East atrocities reverberated throughout the week. And yet, hundreds gathered from near and far to celebrate a rite of passage, the entry of a Jewish girl to adulthood. 

All had been planned for a joyous weekend in London, three weeks ago. Our grandniece Charlotte, Charlie to most everyone, was celebrating her bat mitzvah with all the pomp and circumstance and 21st century party planning her parents could muster. 

It was, however, impossible to ignore the elephant in the room. So her father David didn’t. 

“This isn’t the speech we wanted to write, but we can’t ignore the horrific events of the past week,” David said. “Given the number of children here, I don’t intend to say too much, but clearly many of us have been deeply affected by the evil attacks by Hamas against Israel, and our hearts go out in sorrow and solidarity to all those affected.  

“However, even in times of sorrow, Judaism commands us to be joyful. In fact, the word joy is often used as a translation for the Hebrew word “simcha”, which is Charlotte’s Hebrew name, while Joy is her middle name. When we chose these names for her, it was primarily to give her my grandfather Sam’s Hebrew name, as well as to recognize his long term partner, Auntie Joy.

“But today we have another reason. Jewish people throughout the most dire times in our history have gone to extraordinary lengths to celebrate our joys. As we read in Ecclesiastes, in Megillat Kohelet in shul last week, ‘To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ And we hope that despite experiencing one of the most painful weeks many of us can remember, we can still find time to show joy and celebrate together.”

Resiliency runs through Jewish blood. 

I could have said Jewish genes or DNA. No, blood was the right word, for in each generation, as our Passover Haggadah relates, an evil rises up to try to spill our blood, to destroy us. 

As Hamas has done this time, lots of blood soaked our homes. But, as in times past, the Jewish people refuse to go away.