Monday, January 04, 2016

Not All Huddled Masses are Yearning to Breathe Free

Why is our president -- and so many others, whether in positions of power or not -- focused solely on ISIS/ISIL/Daesh? Attacks have been going on for years throughout much of Western Europe against non-Muslims, by Muslims, whether via spur-of-the-moment attacks against a random target by a bunch of people with no apparent organizational structure, or by groups formed locally and independently for the purpose of attacking individuals or institutions. Are there people out there so naive that the idea doesn't occur to them that among those refugees are those who are taking that long, hard road to immigration just so that they can slip into these countries and continue the violence? Also, do you think the remainder, coming in with no organized agenda, will integrate into European societies en masse, and adapt to their new surroundings, or do you think a good number will expect the countries that are stupid enough to let them in adapt to their desires, as has proven the case for so many? Have the leaders of these countries not learned yet? Or is it just easier to blame "Palestinian desperation" (aka Israel, aka "The Jews") -- as Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström stated after this past attack in Paris? 
We live in a world in which the word, "refugee," can no longer automatically be associated with the desire for freedom; it can also be a means of destruction, and of conquest. The Tsarnaev brothers were from a family of refugees. Just look what they did. Their parents and sister continue to maintain it was all a conspiracy against them and that they were innocent, and both the mother and sister have sworn revenge. 
Having been born into a people who have been punished simply for praying differently, I have long believed that you have to take people on a "case-by-case basis," assessing them by who they are, not what they are. But the longer I live and the more I see, it's getting harder and harder for me to do so. I refuse the idea that this is some kind of shortcoming on my part. It's called waking to reality.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg

I sent the following letter to Mark Zuckerberg, fully realizing that he is unlikely to ever see this, even if he has staff members who check his mail and messages, so I decided to post what I had written on my own blog. I am hopeful that whoever reads this will share my url/link with others on Facebook and other social media, and that it will be passed on to more and more people, eventually gaining some notice. I'm sure this also stands a good chance of gaining attention and threats from those who would love nothing more than to see another Jew (and family) killed -- in fact, as many Jews as possible -- along with Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and adherents of any religion other than Islam, with the exception of those who dare practice it in any other way except as they see fit. It is a risk I am willing to take. It is a risk that all good people of conscience should take. Why? Because, as the saying goes, "I would rather die on my feet, than live on my knees." There are times when doing nothing is far more detrimental than doing something. We are living in one of those times. The second worse thing you can do is doubt this.


Mark, I have no idea if this message will reach you or not, or whether you have the time (or inclination) to check your messages either personally or through an associate, but I find it extremely distressing that you have vowed to make Facebook a "safe space" for Muslims, but have failed repeatedly to give the same consideration to Jews. 

The fact that you are Jewish is not my issue; my issue is that when reporting anti-Jewish groups and posts, every single individual I know (along with myself) has received back messages claiming that the group or post does not violate community guidelines. In my case, it was a group that promoted the myth of Jewish ritual murder, including the time-honored story that Jews kill non-Jewish children by draining their blood for use in the making of matzo. It seems anti-Jewish groups and posts don't violate community guidelines, but speaking the truth about how so-called Palestinians have continued to perpetrate the greatest hoax of all, and that Europe WILL, in fact fall, and that America -- finding itself with no allies -- will eventually fall as well, is considered hate speech against the Muslims who spread terror like wildfire, and that this automatically merits all Muslims a "safe space." That Facebook has proved to be among the greatest social media weapons in the Jihadi arsenal seems to evade you. Clearly, you aren't ignorant; after all, how else did you get to where you are and all that you've accomplished? My guess is that you are afraid. You're afraid of what's going on out there and are kowtowing to these monsters with promises of protection in the hopes that they will somehow skip over you and your family if and when the time comes. Jews in Germany felt the same way; that if they "made nice" and ignored how they were being treated beginning way before the rise of Hitler, that they would be safe. And we all know how THAT turned out, don't we?

You're also afraid of speaking out in defense of Israel, because that would make you a (shudder!) Zionist -- and there's nothing in the world worse than that. The fact that Muslims by the millions have been murdered by fellow Muslims in all these Muslim countries (not to mention those pesky Christians; Jews who managed to survive were, by and large, expelled from these countries in excess of 800,000, and I'm being conservative) is not a topic to be discussed in so-called civilized circles. In fact, calling these countries what they are -- MUSLIM countries -- is considered a lie, because then Israel will not stand out as allegedly being the only country with religion as its founding principal, even though people of other religions live there, and openly practice their religions, as well. Tell me, what other country in the middle east do you know of that allows this? Yes, that's a rhetorical question, because the answer is ZERO. And the answer is ZERO, even including a business center country like Dubai, who allows in outsiders, strictly for the benefit of profit. Which sounds, strangely enough, just like you.

Frankly, as much as money speaks, I don't even know that a boycott of Facebook, with hundreds of thousands shutting down and causing you a huge loss of revenue, would even move you. Still, I have no problem doing so, and it's my hope that others will consider doing the same. The only thing you can do at this point is the right thing. It's called speaking out, and taking action against, hatred of all kinds -- not just against those of whom you are so clearly afraid, along with the desire to be seen as a "good Jew", and by the wrong people. 

Just grow a pair.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

To P.T. Barnum: Wish You Were Here

A profound and thought-provoking piece has been making the rounds on Facebook and other social media sites for a while now, BUT IT DID NOT ORIGINATE WITH THE DALAI LAMA. There is no denying that the Dalai Lama is an amazing, brilliant, and compassionate man. Still, I believe in giving credit to whom it is due, and it isn't due him.

That it has been attributed to a man born in 1923 named John James (Jim) Brown -- pen name James J. Lachard -- and is said to be part of a piece he wrote, An Interview with God, is also not entirely confirmed, as it was never actually published by him. But at least there are some clues.

The piece was allegedly found by a woman named Reata Strickland, who supposedly posted it in an online Alabama church bulletin in 2001, never claiming to be the writer. She did, though, have it published a year later, but with her name as editor. The piece ended up making its way around the internet, and as the internet is sadly filled with idiots who have nothing better to do with their time than (at their least) attribute actual quotes to people who had nothing to do with them, and at their finest, pass around miraculous "cures" involving cinnamon and honey for everything from ear infections to cancer, these words ended up superimposed on a photo of the Dalai Lama -- and if it's on the internet, then of course it must be true. Even worse, is that these hoaxters (big success stories!) rely on those who don't check facts to perpetuate these myths, and all I can say is that P.T. Barnum sure had it right. And if you were born in this country and still don't understand what I just said about P.T. Barnum, then you're truly a sad case of the stupids. 

In the early 2000s, three former colleagues (from the mid-80s) stopped speaking to me, because one of them -- a journalist and published author of children's books, mind you -- kept emailing hoaxes to a bunch of people to warn them of any number of things, and believe me, even then all it took was a relatively quick search to find out that these were hoaxes. (She also regularly included me in group emails to participate in prayer chains involving Jesus and saints, knowing very well that I'm Jewish.) The only reason I say "relatively" about doing a quick search is because of the load time back in the day of 64-bit processors, and a lot of people even still had 32s. Why did they all stop speaking to me? Because I responded (to all) that not only was the Klingerman Virus a hoax (if you receive an envelope with a small blue sponge in it, RUN!), but that it didn't take much to find this out before forwarding it, and that a journalist -- of all people -- should know this. Oh, and please stop sending emails to me asking me to pray to Jesus, because I wouldn't send emails to you or any non-Jew requesting that you fast on Yom Kippur.

Being shunned after that -- by people I truly loved and cared about, just because I pointed out that it was a hoax and not only easily checked out, but surprising that it wasn't especially from a journalist -- sent me into a spiral of depression that was probably the second worse I ever suffered. Even after I got help for it, the hurt remained. It took a long time before I became at peace with it; in fact, it took well into the Facebook years until I started seeing this kind of nonsense perpetuated on a daily basis, and thousands-fold. I still try to be diplomatic when pointing these things out to people I know who repost them, but I am starting to feel less compelled to even bother as time goes on (really, where did it ever get me, anyway?) Instead, I figured I may as well air my grievances on my own blog -- after a two-and-a-half year absence! -- despite the fact that Festivus is still a good month away. 

Here is the piece in its alleged entirety, or at least as best as I was able to find. Both line and paragraph breaks may not be true to the original. That is, if there is an actual, documented original somewhere out there. Whatever the case may be, I'm glad I came across this even in its abbreviated, erroneously-attributed form, because it led me to an even deeper truth than the truth of by whom it was authored, although the latter still is of great importance.

An Interview with God

“Come in,” God said. “So you would like to interview me?”

“If You have the time,”  I said.

God smiled. “My time is eternity. That’s enough time to do everything. What questions do you have in mind?”

“What surprises you most about mankind?”

“Many things...
 That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up,
 and then long to be children again.   
That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore health.

That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, and live neither for the present nor for the future.

That they live as if they will never die, and die as if they had never lived.”

God took my hands in His. We were silent for a while, then I asked,
“As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons You want Your children to learn?”

God replied with a smile.
“To learn that they cannot make anyone love them.
They can only let themselves be loved.

To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have
in their lives, but who they have in their lives.

To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others.
All will be judged individually on their own merits,
not as a group on a comparison basis.

To learn that a rich person is not the one who has the most,
but is one who needs the least.

To learn that it takes only a few seconds to open profound wounds
in persons they love and many years to heal them.

To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness.

To learn there are persons who love them dearly, but simply do not
know how to express or show their feelings.

To learn that money can buy everything but happiness.

To understand that two people can look at the same thing,
and see it totally differently.

To appreciate that a true friend is someone who knows everything
about them, and likes them anyway.

To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others,
but that they have to forgive themselves.”

I sat there for a while enjoying the moment. I thanked God for this time and for all that He has done for me and my family.

Then God replied, “Anytime. I’m here twenty-four hours a day. All you have to do is ask and I’ll answer. 

People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did.
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-- attributed to James J. Lachard (Jim Brown) 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Past Imperfect

Another sign that you're getting old: In the car on the way to school this morning, my son mentioned my father (who died many years before he was born), and we somehow touched upon what he did for a living (he was a sheet metal worker). Sam asked if he liked his job...and when I began to answer, I started to cry. I guess I never really thought much about it before. His life was interrupted by the whisperings of war and persecution to come; he left his parents and brother in Europe, where they perished. He ended up doing whatever he could to survive by himself, and then later, to support a family. I remember hearing him eating breakfast in the dark at 5am, and leaving at 5:30 for a long subway ride into Manhattan, and then another subway back into another part of Brooklyn (we lived in Brooklyn, but the area he worked in wasn't directly accessible from our neighborhood). The shop was freezing cold in winter, sweltering in summer. The clanging of metal on metal was deafening. In 1975, I came across documents showing what he had been making in 1973, when he was laid off after so many years, and also his age, which was always a huge secret (my family had a lot of secrets, one of which later proved to be pretty shattering). His salary was $6.50 an hour (still not a whole lot even in 1973), and at the time I found the documents, he was 65 years old. I was 15. I freaked out at that last revelation, and erupted into the kind of hysterics of which only a teenage girl is likely capable, screaming "I've been cheated!" over and over again.

Now, of course, I realize that if anyone had been cheated of anything, it was my father. But he never complained. I suppose it takes a certain amount of living, along with both parents gone, to realize that our parents weren't necessarily happy with their lives. Certainly, they weren't perfect, and I'm not about to follow in the footsteps of those whose who, looking through the misty lens of nostalgia, tend to find themselves rewriting history. (My family was famous for what one cousin referred to as "throwing another length of footage onto the life editor.") But they did what they had to do, and they did it for their children. Meanwhile, whatever hopes or aspirations they ever might have had receded into the distance, never to be revisited. And as they are no longer here, neither will I be someday. I can taste not only my own mortality, but my own failings, my own imperfections. And they all taste like tears.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Next Stop, Assisted Living

I've been getting mail solicitations to join AARP for a few years, but this recent one in particular caught my eye because it included a free gift with membership -- something that actually looked useful. My daughter saw it laying on the counter, and laughingly asked if I was going to join. I told her I might, because the trunk organizer was kind of neat. "Trunk organizer?" she exclaimed. "I thought it was a diaper holder!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

From the Diary of Osama Bin Laden

Earlier today, while listening to the news on my car radio, I heard it reported that Osama Bin Laden had been keeping a diary. If it's anything like most people's diaries, one might assume that he kept an account of his hopes and dreams, as well as his day-to-day happenings, both exciting (to him) and mundane. Needless to say, I couldn't help but imagine what some of those entries might look like. Not only that, but just imagine what the diary itself looked like! Was it simple and utilitarian, made of goatskin? A fuzzy purple and glitter-accented number from Claire's? Or perhaps pink and pretty, with Hello Kitty on the cover. Tasteless? Maybe, but just think of the possibilities.

July 30, 2001: Dear Diary...One of these days, I will crash not one, not two, but at least three -- maybe four! -- planes into filthy American landmarks.

September 12, 2001: Dream has (mostly) come true!

December 13, 2001: My video was released today by the imperialist government of the United States and was a rousing success, but I still can't help but think that the caftan I was wearing made my hips look big.

November 3, 2004: This cave is cozy enough, but terribly dreary. It definitely could use a woman's touch. Perhaps it is time that I take a new wife.

January 19, 2006: So some news agencies are claiming that the voice on the tape released today is not, in fact, mine. Of course it is! Everyone knows that the Jews control the media!

August 24, 2007: Stewed goat, roasted goat, braised goat, goat in a blanket, goat fricassee, goat a-la-orange -- when will it end?

March 11, 2009: Abbottabad is rather charming for such a provincial town, but the view from this villa is lousy. Who thought to build an 18 foot wall? Stupid architect!

April 30, 2011: I am thinking of taking on a seventh wife, but my advisors tell me that it would mean I have to up my life insurance policy and pay higher premiums. Bah! What could possibly happen?

May 1, 2011: I have this funny feeling today that I just can't shake. Oh, never mind!

May 2, 2011: It's hot in here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

In My Wildest Dreams

Although this didn't happen yesterday -- it actually took place about a year and a half ago -- I still find myself sighing in wonder about an event I never could have imagined. Not that what took place was truly unimaginable in any way, but given my family history and all that it involved, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. And it all comes down to this (much abandoned) blog.

On August 12, 2009 I received an email I almost didn't open because from the address and title, it appeared to be spam. The name, although not necessarily a common one like Smith or Jones, wasn't all that unusual, and the subject line said, "It's been a very, very long time." I figured it must be from a company I might have ordered something from way back when or, more likely, some kind of come-on for a sex site (I am forever getting emails offering me the opportunity to increase the size of my non-existent penis). But for some reason, I actually opened it.

It said:


I read your blog today for the first time and I could certainly relate to some of your insecurities, especially since we share some of the same genes.

I'm your long lost cousin Lori, yes your uncle Bernie's daughter.

Oddly enough, I live pretty close to you, in North Hills.

Would you be interested in meeting for a cup of coffee?


Lori, my first cousin, who along with her sister Carol, I hadn't seen (save for one brief meeting in 1989) on any regular basis since 1975.

I was stunned, immediately knocked into a daze. All I could say aloud was "Holy shit," which I continued repeating both outwardly and inwardly for some time afterward. But it sure didn't stop me from responding, and I dashed off an email immediately. We made plans to meet the following Sunday for breakfast at a nearby diner.

It was one of the most wonderful days of my life. And not long afterward, I saw Carol again, too, who as it turned out originally found my blog and passed the information on to Lori. And since then, we have been together on every Jewish holiday -- Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah, Passover -- holidays that long held emotionally-loaded memories for me of my immediate family in all its dysfunctional glory, but were now replaced by a sense of peace I never could have dreamed possible. And every bit as wonderful, my children have been afforded the opportunity to celebrate these occasions as well -- with others, not just us, alone -- creating for them warm memories that will hopefully remain with them for the rest of their lives.

Life is good.