International Holocaust Remembrance Day

2018

As Jews, how do we convey the significance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day to those who did not grow up living and breathing the reality? Our obligation to the deceased, the victimized, the terrorized, the imprisoned – how do we respect their memories, their struggles, and their realities? How do we ensure that atrocities and bad behaviors remain consigned to history while guaranteeing the memories and lessons learned remain alive and active?

Throughout my religious education at temple, Holocaust survivors would kindly, patiently relay their tales of extreme horror to rooms full of children. These nightmarish stories could easily be flippantly dismissed by those who refuse to accept the true evil of man due to the depravity, absurdity, and cruelty if there weren’t common threads of rape, humiliation, starvation, torture, emotional abuse, and death.

Some would gasp and say “This is inappropriate! Young children shouldn’t hear such things.” while forgetting that young children were living these things. When you point that out, the ardent protectors of young children typically fall silent, stupidly and helplessly. One could even argue – complicity as it relates to today’s genocide, today’s rampant bigotry, today’s unchecked abuses of power.

There are many answers to how we Jews ensure we meet our obligations to the victims and the survivors of the Holocaust, but there is one common theme: education. Using resources such as Yad Vashem, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, one’s local Jewish community center, synagogue or library, we can maintain historical accuracy and share the truth.

But what of the obligation for those who aren’t Jewish? What is their obligation on this most somber of days and should there be one? Absolutely. And, perhaps their obligation and burden should be slightly heavier, slightly greater, slightly more significant and entail a bit more work as their exposure to the realities of the Holocaust doesn’t parallel the average Jewish person’s experience. For they, they live a life free from concern and wonder about WHEN this will happen again, WHO among their kin perished in The Shoah, HOW they will respond when the time comes, WHY do people want to exterminate them on a massive level, and WHAT would propel an entire world to do nothing about genocide to this very day.

Never forget. Never again.

Note for fellow Jewish folks:  please join Yad Vashem’s Circle of Friends.  It’s an annual, nominal donation.  I cannot think of a more meaningful mitzvah.  

Zionism…

…or nah?

Netanyahu sees three things and three things only: power, money, and land. The antisemitic, tiny-fisted, white supremacist manbaby may as well be the Messiah so long as he continues to support the evangelicals’ version of Israel.

Over the years, we have watched Israel appropriate land which was never hers, build a wall and force people to live in conditions reminiscent of the ghettos to which our grandparents were confined, and morph into some amusement park for those with the resources to fund birthright tours and honeymoon packages.

This is not the Zionism engrained in me via my parents or my religious schooling. This is not the form of Zionism I support.

The decision to name a train stop near the Western Wall after Donald Trump is a shanda. Also, a wonderful example of all things Bibi. Money over integrity. Power over humanity. Rewards for those who give Bibi what he wants, with zero regards for the character of the donor.

I don’t know if enough time and demonstration of decent human behavior will pass for me to believe that Jewish people do not *need* a homeland: a Jewish state, a safe place to seek refuge from irrational hatred, a place to live without fear of being killed for simply being Jewish. White nationalism is, once again, socially acceptable. Where Roy Moore failed, people like Kelli Ward and Paul Nehlen aim to succeed. This is terrifying for all marginalized people. We all need and deserve a safe space, a home without fear.

Should Israel continue down the current path of engaging those who aren’t interested in her safety and security for the reasons upon which she was created, should leadership continue to engage and rely on those who have no love for Jewish people, should leadership continue to treat innocent bystanders no differently than pests, nuisances and animals, the concept and the state will fail.

Back to the desert to wander, we will go.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Donald Trump Edition

On the first day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
An Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the second day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Two Russian dossiers, and an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the third day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the fourth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me.
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a pear tree!
On the fifth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the sixth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Six geezers spilling, FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the eighth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Eight Flynns a flipping, seven secual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the ninth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the tenth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Ten money launderers laundering, nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the eleventh day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Eleven liars lying, ten money launderers laundering, nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping, seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree
On the twelfth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Twelve million tweets, eleven liars lying, ten money launderers laundering,
Nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping, seven sexual harrassments,
Six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!

Everybody Thinks They Know

Everybody thinks they know.

There must be something.

Try it this way.

Say it that way.

They’ll respond to this.

They’ll respond to that.

“Just give it time.”

Sooner or later they’ll come around.
Just don’t give up. You can never give up.

Don’t give up?

Who the fuck do you think you are?

Give up?

What the hell does that even mean?

No matter what I do. Anywhere, anytime,

They are in my thoughts constantly.

I’ve reached out, so many times, and been slapped down, again, and again.

I have a right to survive as well.

If you want to offer me help, and support,

An ear to listen, then fine.

But don’t pretend to know. Don’t speak of that of which you have no experience,

no knowledge.

Give me a hug,

But not your fucking blind ignorant hope.

My hope is chiseled. Focused.

Doled out deliberately in small doses,

for where I think it might be most effective.

At times, even after all these years,

It slips away from me,

And I find myself, against my better judgement, hoping with reckless and wild abandon.

Till I reign it in

Knowing that that way sadness lies.

I have hope, a goddamned motherlode of hope.

But I will not squander it foolishly.

It will be tempered.

It must be tempered.

Forged, and made strong in the furnace of my heart,

Able to withstand,

The time, and the journey,

No matter what the cost.

I understand never, oh yes,

from too many angles,

So don’t give me your platitudes,

Give me your shoulder, and perhaps a smile,

In the darkest times hold me,

But don’t placate me.

I know of what I speak, from the depth and breadth of my being.

Respect that, learn to just listen.

Nothing more.

Naughty or Nice?

All my nice has a little naughty,
My naughty well sprinkled with nice,

So without sounding too high and haughty, 

I recommend that you take my advice, 

Don’t be completely good or bad,

Before you commit, think thrice!

For it’s the balance twixt the two,

That gives our life its spice!

The Flashlight of Wisdom

I’m the anomaly in the class.
That older student,
Who has been down the path before,
And is back for another go.
Twenty years have passed since I used to be them.
And I feel it more keenly than ever before.

All the the mistakes I’ve made,
The pleasure and pain, and triumph and defeat.
The joy and despair I’ve felt.
The things I’ve done.
And learned.

And learned…

I’m not necessarily smarter than they are.
I’ve just been around a lot longer.
I guess this is what you call wisdom.
Am I wise?
I don’t know.

I feel both envy and apprehension,
About all the experiences,
That will shape and harden,
And break and reform them.
There’s so much I want to tell them!
But I know it won’t help that much.

I can give them a flashlight,
But it won’t illuminate the whole path.
They’ll have to stumble their own way through,
Just like I did.

Basic Math

I suppose death is the final answer,
To the basic math that is aging.
But one lesson we are all taught,
Is Show Your Work.
How did you get there?
What was the process?
For age is not merely a solitary number,
On an otherwise blank page.
It’s the accumulation of life.
A gathering of knowledge and experiences.
One cannot move on to the next lesson,
Until one fully understands the previous one.
But most of us do not learn,
And thus we are unprepared.
We haven’t learned this formula,
But we try to move on anyway.
New knowledge is acquired,
But old lessons are not learned.
Mistakes are carried forward,
And forward.
And forward.
Until we finally realize,
Those mistakes,
All the pain and frustration they cause,
Are actually the most important part of the lesson.

How art thou crazy? Let me count the ways…

Of a picnic, thou art short of sandwiches, thus.
And in thy belfry resideth many bats.
Thy engine runneth, but hath no one behind the wheel.
Thou art a man of many cases; of head, and basket, and nut.
And verily misplaced by thee hath been thy marbles.
How lost thou art in space.
How lost is thy plot.
Away with the faerie folk thou hast flown.
In a canoe, thou art, but sadly missing the essential oars.
Thy faithful rocking chair hath deposited thee thus on the floor.
A cage of many pads is the place for thee,
Since thou believeth thyself to be a tweeting bird:
The Great Orange Crested Trump Tit.

GRACE

You are filled with grace,

An effortless respect,

To act,

With great affect,

To interface,

So that all you meet,

Feel raised up,

You fill their cup,

You wash their feet,

Albeit as a metaphor, 

But they feel more,

For having met you,

Having known you,

You improve their lives, 

Simply by,

Your acts of kindness,

Your refusal to,

Accept daily blindness,

Your example,

Is not lost on me,

I wish,

That all of us could be,

Our better selves,

The we, we should,

The inner good, 

For by your actions,

You show and say,

That Love,

It is the only way,

We can’t walk,

In everyone’s shoes,

But just like you, 

We can choose,

To understand, 

To use the will,

 At our command,

To testify,

Crave and demand,

A better way, 

So that one fine day, Yes one fine day……….     ❤