Blog

CAN AMERICA WALK AND CHEW GUM?

Moms know something about multi-tasking that escapes Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and Republicans. It’s possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. Ukraine is about to enter its third year defending itself against Russia. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill providing additional aid to Ukraine, and also to Israel and Taiwan.…

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A LIBRARIAN’S LOWDOWN 

Libraries and book publishing find themselves in cultural and political firestorms. Opinion pieces in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal offer interesting takes. Neither was written by a librarian, so for added context, I called my friend Les Kozerowitz, who retired 15 years ago as director of the Norwalk, Connecticut public library.  First, the Times piece, “Red…

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A WALK IN THE PARK 

I never get writers’ block, but this week I came close. I start thinking about the next post six or seven days ahead of the Friday on which it appears. Sometimes, I develop more than one idea. Last Tuesday, I was still drawing a blank. One of the best techniques I know for freeing the…

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THE BIG LIE REDUX 

The internet brings to mind Pinocchio when it comes to online stories about Israel. A recent Washington Post article by Elizabeth Dwoskin reveals the viciousness of lies the internet often spreads. Its title summarizes the story: “How the Internet is erasing the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre.” However you feel about Israel’s response in Gaza, facts are facts. Until they’re…

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DOES JESUS HATE DEMOCRACY?

For many Donald Trump supporters, Monday’s Republican primary win was all about Jesus. Before the caucuses, CNN interviewed a Trump supporter—a white, middle-aged woman and evangelical Christian. “God puts leaders over us,” she said. The reporter failed to seek clarification: “Did God put Joe Biden over us?” The woman might have mustered one of several…

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REFORM JEWS AT A CROSSROADS 

Following October 7, the Israel-Hamas war kicked up a small storm in Reform Judaism. My synagogue, Congregation Sherith Israel, has not been immune. I begin with a January 1 column in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper by Daniel Weiner, senior rabbi of Seattle’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai: “What We Reform Jews Forgot to Teach Our Children.” (Daniel Weiner is…

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AGING AND MAKING SPACE 

The American adoration of the rugged, hence isolated, individual becomes most unhelpful as people age. Installing a new Apple TV device offers a prime example. Many elders refuse assistance. Let their children or grandchildren—or professionals—help them get along? That stands as an admission that independence is waning, that they’ll soon be removed from their home…

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A TRULY PIVOTAL 2024 

Every New Year brings hopes and fears but 2024 will play a particularly pivotal role in history. Take November’s election. Donald Trump likely will secure the Republican nomination unless his legal woes and outrageous statements bring some Republicans to their senses—or he’s banned from enough state ballots. The Atlantic’s January/February 2024 issue posits what might happen…

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CHRISTMAS AND “SEX EDUCATION” 

A British TV dramedy about high-school teens involved in endless sex ultimately reveals a lot about the challenges Christmas often poses. Carolyn and I just finished season four (the final) of Netflix’s Sex Education, starring Gillian Anderson and a wonderful cast. Each season starts with copious sex but soon segues into the subject of relationships with…

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CHANUKAH AND HAMAS 

Sundown tonight marks the end of the eight-day Festival of Lights—Chanukah. However, the story we’ve again told usually remains incomplete because we ignore the related law of unintended consequences. Israel should take note. And Hamas. Around 164 BCE, traditional Jews defeated their Seleucid Greek overlords and also Jewish Hellenizers. The winners cleaned and rededicated (the…

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GENOCIDE AND CONTEXT 

Today’s first day of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, arrives during a period of more than seasonal darkness. Israel continues to face the threat of Hamas (and Hezbollah) violence, a war rages in Gaza, and Jews across the globe, including the United States, contend with rising antisemitism. Of note, Jewish college students who support Israel…

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SLOW LAKE—ONE YEAR AFTER 

One year ago, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority affirmed Lake Street from Arguello (east) and 28th Avenue (west) as a Slow Street. How has that worked out? SFMTA’s website notes reduced vehicle speeds (under 15 mph) and decreased traffic volume (below 1,000 vehicles daily). Great. But those feats weren’t presented as Slow Lake’s goals.…

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A SMALL, BEAUTIFUL ADVENTURE

Carolyn and I have been fortunate to journey across the United States and around the world. Last Sunday, a “mundane” trip close to home provided a great deal of fun.  A sunny autumn day at hand, we left the car home and took public transit to Oakland for lunch with our friends Tamar and Ken. …

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THE 2.5-STATE SOLUTION 

The end of the Israel-Hamas war will come. The ending depends on Israel and the Palestinians looking forward, not backward. Given the October 7 slaughter, Israeli anger is understandable. Israel will destroy Hamas’s infrastructure and fighting capabilities, if not its hatred. Afterwards? Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu approached the slippery slope last Monday when he said…

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MY COOL NEIGHBORHOOD

Recently, I learned I’m cool. Wait. Let me walk that back.  Time Out magazine rated my San Francisco neighborhood—the Richmond District—one of the 40 coolest in the world. #27 to boot! Carolyn and I have lived in the Richmond for 50 years. The neighborhood—homes and two-flats abutting each other, small apartment buildings, mostly on corners—wasn’t always considered…

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FLIPPING IN GEORGIA 

Next year, 15 indicted individuals will stand trial in Fulton County, Georgia. They’ll confront racketeering charges regarding overturning the state’s 2020 presidential election results. But 19 were charged. What happened? Four defendants flipped. The prosecution gained four major weapons. Last month, Scott Hall, a bail bondsman, pled guilty. Relatively small potatoes, he received five years’…

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VIOLENCE AND CHOICE 

In 1992, Rodney King, a Black man viciously beaten by Los Angeles police a year earlier, asked during violent riots, “Can’t we all get along?” Last week’s Torah portion, “Genesis,” and this week’s, “Noah,” address this sorry aspect of human nature.  Gen. 1:26 states: “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after…

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NIAGARA FALLS AND HAMAS 

I didn’t expect to write a post today, since I returned home from a trip two days ago. But I must say something after Hamas’ inhumane attack on Israel last Saturday. Carolyn’s and my trip began with a two-night stay in Niagara Falls on the Ontario (Canadian) side. Our hotel offered fabulous views of both…

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AFTER YOM KIPPUR, WHAT? 

Can a gentile cartoonist say something meaningful about Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement? Indeed! In last Monday’s “Pearls Before Swine,” Stephen Pastis presented Pig confronting a problem. What has he learned from his mistakes? “That I’m stupid and make lots of them.” Will he learn not to repeat them? “Oh, that never happens.” It can, but…

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WHEN DO YOU SHOWER? 

According to some people, what time of day you shower says a lot—maybe everything—about you. Such assumptions lead to dangerous politics.  Blue-collar workers generally shower at the end of a sweaty day. White- (or other-color-) collar workers often shower in the morning to be fresh for the office—if they go to one—or other location.  But…

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MY WIFE AT BURNING MAN 

My 75-year-old wife Carolyn returned from her fourth Burning Man. Shocked? Here’s the full picture. Carolyn—Playa name DramaQueen—loves the festival, which draws 60,000–70,000 people to the desert three hours north of Reno. She first went in 2018. She’d known about Burning Man since its early days at San Francisco’s Baker Beach. “Also, I’d been a…

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LEADERSHIP GOP-STYLE 

The recent GOP debate produced many Donald Trump moments without Trump. More heat than light revealed the GOP lacks something important. Take former VP Mike Pence. Like Trump, he never served in the military. Had he completed Infantry Officer Candidate School (specifics in a moment), he might have defined leadership more wisely.  Pence advocates a federal abortion…

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THE RABBIS AND THE CONSTITUTION 

Given the nation’s political turmoil, Rabbinic thinking can shed light on “loose construction” of the Constitution. A personal experience reinforced that concept. In 1998, I traveled to Israel with a group from New York. On the way to our hotel, we stopped at Mount Scopus for a sweeping view of Jerusalem. It struck me that…

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THE PYRAMID, NORTH BEACH AND MORE 

A stroll down memory lane two weeks ago encouraged me to take another last Sunday to parts of San Francisco I love. Carolyn was attending a daylong workshop by the casting director of the CBS soap opera, “The Bold and the Beautiful.” So I took a one-block walk to the Muni stop at California and…

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TWO FAREWELLS

Last Sunday, Carolyn and I bid two farewells. In only one case had someone died. That someone was Tina Turner, who died last May. We attended Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Golden Gate Theater. It provided an opportunity to say goodbye to a woman whose music, and pluck, topped the charts. Tina first opened in London’s…

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IOWA ’23, SOUTHIE ’74 

Donald Trump was just indicted on four counts regarding attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Yet he remains the heavy favorite for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination. A pollster and a novelist offer insights. On Tuesday, GOP pollster Frank Luntz told Dana Bash on CNN’s “Inside Politics” that conservative, faith-based Iowa voters “like Donald…

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TRUMP’S UNKNOWN V.P. HOPEFULS 

The media have speculated about the usual suspects regarding Donald Trump’s vice-presidential candidate. But let’s not overlook lesser-knowns heading under-the-radar conservative groups. Here are their selling points they provided in recent interviews. Marry Anne Cross, Make America Christian Again. “America must be Christian in more than name only. The Founding Fathers—the Mothers were busy rearing children,…

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MORE MANDALORIAN–JEWISH PARALLELS 

Months ago, Disney+ hyped season 3 of the Star Wars-related “The Mandalorian.” A thousand people from 20 countries read my 2021 post, “The Mandalorian and the Jews.” Season 3’s Jewish connections were even stronger. “The Way” of the Mandalorians suggests Jewish law, Halacha—the way of going. Maimonides writes about the “way of the Lord” in his Mishneh Torah. The…

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DON’T COUNT OUT SAN FRANCISCO 

Mark Twain once wrote, “The report of my death is greatly exaggerated.” I’d apply that to San Francisco. Much has been reported about San Francisco spiraling downward in a “doom loop.” No question, the pandemic took its toll. A bunch of the workforce moved away, schools closed, stores shut. But I’d add to Yankees Hall…

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OLD GLORY WAIVES THE FIFTH 

Hey, it’s me, Old Glory aka the Stars & Stripes. With July Fourth coming, I’ve got three important things to say.  First: I’m proud that the nation will celebrate its 247th birthday. Many countries have been around longer. Real democracies? We took the first plunge.  Second: That said, I could dodge America’s problems, take the…

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PRIDE

Pride Weekend has arrived in San Francisco. People often misuse the word pride. As the father of three sons—straight, trans and gay, I have my own take. LGBTQ people say they’re proud to be gay. Likewise, many folks are proud of their ethnicity. Given a world that often persecutes minorities, I get it. But that can…

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MY APOLOGIES, TONY AWARDS

Last Sunday, Carolyn and I tuned in—late—to Broadway’s Tony Awards TV show. When the nominees for Best Play were announced, I was certain one show had no chance.  Of the five nominees, Leopoldstadt, by Tom Stoppard, presented a multi-generational Jewish family’s experiences in Vienna from 1899 to 1955. These included discussing escape plans following Nazi Germany’s…

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WHOSE TEN COMMANDMENTS? 

Texas’ House recently ended its biennial session considering—but not voting on—a Senate-passed bill. It would require all Texas public-school classrooms to post the Ten Commandments. This is as troubling as it is unsurprising.  Said Texas State Sen. Mayes Middleton (R), “There is absolutely no separation of God and government, and that’s what these bills are…

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BEFORE VIDEO GAMES 

My 2014 post, “Street Games of the ’50s,” presented outdoor games kids played in New York City. But could we entertain ourselves indoors before the advent of video games? We didn’t have even Pong or Frogger, but we had imagination. And maybe a touch—I’m talking boys now—of stupidity.  For instance, we did tumbling in junior high P.E.,…

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SALUTING FORT MOORE 

From November 1966 through May 1967, I attended Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. On May 11, Fort Benning disappeared. It wasn’t a casualty of Congressional budget cutting but a tribute to decency.  Few candidates knew that the post was named for Henry L. Benning, a Confederate brigadier general. It’s hard to square…

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ANOTHER DANGEROUS BOOK 

Some people believe that racism in the United States is dead. Others, it never really existed. Still others, if racism lives, mention of it divides Americans between oppressed and oppressors. The result? Books are being tossed off library shelves or censored before they get there. Take Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Yas Imamura,…

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LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR MEANS WHAT? 

Jesus preached a version. Hillel said it before Jesus. But Hillel was picking up on the Torah. Still, after 2,000 years and more, many people don’t have a clue. Americans of all faiths are familiar with the injunction of Leviticus 19:18—”Love your neighbor [sometimes translated fellow] as yourself.” This seemingly simple verse poses complex challenges, starting…

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YOM HASHOAH—A WARNING 

Last Monday night/Tuesday, Jews observed (not celebrated) Yom HaShoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day—on the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. After World War Two, Jews insisted, “Never again!” Israel built a military to defend the Jewish State. It’s what’s happening in America that disturbs me. Carolyn and I didn’t do anything formal for Yom HaShoah. We discuss…

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THOUGHTS, PRAYERS AND BASEBALL 

Tuesday night, I went with a friend to the Giants’ 5-0 win over the Dodgers at Oracle Park. The new nature of baseball suggested that something can be done about mass shootings. As a kid in the 50s living in New York, I went to Yankees, Giants and Dodgers games. They lasted about two-and-a-half hours.…

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THE PAST MATTERS 

I’ve often cited George Santayana about people ignoring the past being condemned to repeat it. I’ll add William Faulkner: the past isn’t dead—it’s not even the past. Let me offer two examples—one current, one ancient.  Writing fiction, I’m drawn to the past. It offers perspective on issues the whirring present sometimes confuses. So, I set Flight…

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TRUMP INDICTED—LOSER OR WINNER? 

Donald Trump did not welcome news of his indictment yesterday by that Manhattan grand jury. Politics-wise, he may be better off. Trump wanted the case dropped. On March 23, he attacked Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg as “a Soros backed animal who just doesn’t care about right or wrong no matter how many people are hurt.”…

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IS BEIJING STALKING ME? 

I can’t identify every individual visitor to my blog, but I’m flattered to have readers from around the world, including Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Poland, Israel, India and the Philippines. Still, one visitor country troubles me. I’m not paranoid, claiming “they” are out too get me. Of course, paranoia can be an effective…

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LABELS AND SHACKLES 

At the recent CPAC Women’s Breakfast, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R.–Col.) announced that she was about to become a 36-year-old grandmother. Her son, 17, would be a father. She was delighted. Hello, human nature.  Boebert’s welcoming a future grandson, the child of two teenagers, strikes me as expressing more of liberal than conservative thinking. Yes, her…

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ISRAEL’S MILITARY CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE 

The political situation in Israel has become toxic. Parallels exist in the United States, but one problem hasn’t hit America—yet. As I wrote (January 27) in “Knesset, Congress and Chaos,” Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu and his far-right partners seek to gut Israel’s supreme court. The Knesset, rather than pass a law, could overturn a court decision…

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“FAUDA”—VIOLENCE AND HUMANITY 

Spoiler alert: If you plan to watch season 4 of the Netflix series “Fauda,” stop reading. Otherwise, consider the humanity of this Israeli show that focuses on the never-ending violence in Israel and the West Bank. “Fauda” (Arabic for chaos) follows a special commando unit in the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security force. These men and women are…

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UKRAINE ONE YEAR OUT 

After Russia invaded Ukraine one year ago today, a friend—while not okaying the invasion—suggested considering Vladimir Putin’s fear of the West. I did. And dismissed it. Yes, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. During World War One, Imperial Russia suffered at the hands of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Alliances with Britain and France had…

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COLOR BOUND 

Many literary publications charge writers a small submission fee to help cover expenses. These fees may pose a financial barrier to some writers, so a few publications waive them—if a writer fits a certain profile. Financial hardship doesn’t always factor in.  One publication waives fees for Black, Asian-American-Pacific-Islander and LGBTQ writers during months that honor…

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G.O.P. TO TRUMP—SEE YA 

In her Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday night, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders took dead aim at President Joseph Biden’s age—he’s 80. “It’s time for a new generation in Washington.” Biden was not her only target. Sanders, Donald Trump’s press secretary for two years, who slammed the media for “fake news,”…

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THE HANDWRITING ON THE WATER 

You may be familiar with the phrase “the handwriting on the wall.” It comes from the Hebrew Bible. We find a parallel in this week’s Torah portion. Both are worth looking at. The Book of Daniel (chapter 5) presents a mysterious hand writing strange words on a wall in the palace of Babylonian king Belshazzar.…

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KNESSET, CONGRESS AND CHAOS 

Two countries. Two democratic systems. The same chaos caused by those who put their theology above the will of the majority.  Israel maintains a parliamentary system with twelve parties now represented in the single-house Knesset. The present government under Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu rules because Bibi’s party—Likud—holds 32 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. That’s…

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WHY I (USUALLY) DON’T SAY “CAWFEE” 

Decades ago, I theorized that something we give little thought to might impact racist attitudes—for bad or good. According to Katherine D. Kinzler, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, I’ve been on to something. In her book How You Say It: Why We Judge Others by the Way They Talk—and the Costs of This…

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THE TWO OF EVERYONE 

Last Tuesday was the 112th anniversary of my mother’s birth. Belying surface impressions, there was more than one of her. Blanche Finkle Perlstein was a middle-class Jewish housewife with a successful husband (Morris); a well-furnished apartment in Queens; a mink coat and lots of jewelry. She loved opera and Broadway theater. But . . .…

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MY SPEAKER RESUMÉ 

As of my posting this morning, Kevin McCarthy has lost 12 votes for Speaker of the House of Representatives. I’d like the job. Membership in the House isn’t required, and my resumé makes my case. Smarts? I hold degrees from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford. Patriotism? I rose from Army recruit to full colonel in only…

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CHANUKAH’S LESSON FOR AMERICA 

The House of Representatives’ Select Committee on January 6 held its final hearing last Monday—the first day of Chanukah. This offers much to think about. Around 164 BCE, the Jews won a victory against their Seleucid Greek overlords. This forms the background of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. Only recently have some Jews glimpsed the…

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IS THERE AN AUTHENTIC JUDAISM? 

Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef recently stated that Reform and Conservative Jews practice a different religion. I get his point—but think he’s wrong in two important ways.  The Reform movement started in early-19th century Germany as a response to the Enlightenment. Traditional observance was seen as outdated and preventing Jews  from engaging unhindered with the rest…

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DEMOCRACY AT WORK 

To many Americans, the last few years have seemed dark and foreboding. But rays of light shine through. Here are two examples, small and large. Last Tuesday, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency held a final public hearing live and by telephone. City residents were invited to speak for and against the city’s Slow Streets…

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POST-THANKSGIVING THANKS 

Not everyone stuffed themselves with Thanksgiving turkey yesterday. I ate fish. I had my reasons. Getting older, Carolyn and I sometimes celebrate holidays differently. As to yesterday, our kids wouldn’t be coming over. Another couple, Joan and Joe, faced the same situation. Neither Carolyn nor Joan wanted to cook.* So we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at…

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TRUMPTY DUMPTY

Two days after the midterm election, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post published a striking cover. It “formalized” the break—pun intended—between Murdoch and Donald Trump. Are America’s political winds shifting? The Post featured Trump’s head superimposed on a drawing of an egg-shaped man sitting on a brick wall. Headline: “TRUMPTY DUMPTY.” Subhead: “Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a…

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A BLUE VETERANS DAY SALUTE 

Liberals and progressives in deep-blue San Francisco display strong anti-war sentiments. That’s good. War is bad. But many ignore Veterans Day. That does a deep disservice to our past and present military personnel. Veterans Day traces its roots to November 11, 1918. An armistice ended the Great War. Armistice Day soon became a national holiday.…

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WHO ARE “WE THE PEOPLE?” 

The first draft of my novel 2084 (set in 2044) contained the Preamble to the New Covenant for America. On July 4, 2035, Congress had replaced the Constitution. A recent New York Times article cautioned that this may be less fiction than forecast. The Preamble read in part: We the People of the former United States, in Order to .…

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ARE JEWS CLOSE TO BOILING? 

The plight of German Jews in the 1930s has been likened to a frog in a pot on a lit stove. The water warms slowly. The frog’s unperturbed—until the pot begins to boil. Are today’s American Jews undergoing the same experience? In 2017, white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, chanted, “Jews will not replace us.” President…

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ADAM, EVE AND THE MIDTERMS 

Adam and Eve relate directly to the principal owner of the San Francisco Giants and America’s upcoming midterm elections. Let’s start at the beginning.  This week, we begin the annual Torah reading cycle. It commences with the initial portion of Genesis—B’reishit. “In the Beginning” is one of several translations of that first word.  The portion…

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PUTIN—THE OVER/UNDER 

Humans long have loved gambling. (“See that mammoth?”) So, I’m offering the over/under on a matter of great significance—Vladimir Putin’s hold on power. I’m setting a six-month window. Take under, and you think Putin will vanish between October 15, 2022 and January 14, 2023. Bet over, and you believe he’ll be through between January 15 and April…

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COMMMON SENSE PREVAILS 

Even in the face of global warming, inflation, American political divisions and Russia’s war on Ukraine, small local issues sometimes offer a ray of hope.  San Francisco “slow streets” program limits through traffic on Lake Street north of my house. Some Lake residents love their slow street. But traffic must go elsewhere, so I see not a…

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LONG LIVE BOTH KINGS 

Queen Elizabeth II has gone to her ancestors. King Charles III reigns. Life in Britain and the Commonwealth goes on. Sounds like Rosh Hashanah. I monitored Elizabeth’s death and the rituals leading up to, and including, her funeral. Admittedly, I didn’t watch all that much; Carolyn followed the events far more extensively. As to the…

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MASTERING THE LANGUAGE POLICE 

Some people believe that the term master bedroom is racist. Slavery was abhorrent, but let me disagree about the term and make my case. According to homeeon.com, master bedroom originated in the early 20th century—“a room reserved for the master of the home.” Trelora.com states, “The 1926 Sears catalog marks the first recorded use of the phrase  . . .”…

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THE DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK 

I think I’ve been too hard on Donald Trump. To be more evenhanded, let me contribute a few ways he and his legal team might rebut Department of Justice suspicions of criminal behavior. The dog ate my homework. Items the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago included empty folders. Many had contained a classified document up to top…

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MAR-A-LAGO’S OTHER TREASURES 

Much has been made about government documents Donald Trump stashed at Mar-a-Lago. I’ve accessed the Department of Justice’s list of personal items to be returned. The following bear stickies with Trump’s comments. (Note: DOJ semi-redacted key words.) Items include . . . A photo of President Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Trump’s note: I’m KING PRESIDENT of…

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WOMAN STINGS WASPS 

White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, noted for espousing propriety, long have disparaged ethnic groups as garrulous and unruly. America’s ethnics often strike back, chiding WASPs as desiccated while praising themselves as demonstrative and warm. Caricaturing others—and ourselves—only inflames America’s culture war. Case in point . . . In a September 2022 Atlantic article, “Let Brooklyn Be Loud,” Xochitl Gonzalez,…

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UNPRESIDENTED

Richard Nixon, resigned from office, told interviewer David Frost, “If the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” Howls of scorn met that remark. Donald Trump and his supporters evidently agree with Nixon. Regarding the FBI’s seizure of documents from Mar-a-Lago, the far right’s protests against the Department of Justice and FBI include many…

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HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? 

What constitutes the great American sin? Consider an antecedent in this week’s Torah portion, “V’Etchanan” (“I implored”)—Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11. My commentary involves door-to-door sales, carried interest and mega yachts. Re Torah, Moses implores God to let him lead the Israelites into Canaan. God, angered by Moses’ previously striking a rock, rather than speaking to it, to…

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A VERY VISIBLE INVISIBLE MAN 

The basketball great Bill Russell died a week ago at 88. During the 50s and 60s, he led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA championships in 13 years. But this post isn’t about basketball. It’s about life. Russell was an outspoken man. He was never concerned about the impression he made, but his words made…

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CAN HEARTS DESTROY DEMOCRACY? 

The House Select Committee on January 6 concluded its summer hearings last week with a detailed examination of the 187 minutes during which Donald Trump did nothing to halt the invasion of the Capitol. But testimony at an earlier hearing frightened me as much or more. On June 21, Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer of…

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A WEDDING IN MAINE 

My friend Collin, whom I mentored for conversion to Judaism, married Hanna in Maine. Carolyn and I attended, enjoying a small vacation in the Pine Tree State. Ziplining at the wedding was only of the delights we shared. Air travel concerns? Sure. But our Delta flight from SFO to New York’s JFK left on time.…

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FAITH GONE AWRY 

This week’s Torah portion, “Shelach-Lecha” (“Send” or “Send for Yourself”), shares something with Texas Republicans’ 2022 platform. It’s frightening. Numbers 13 tells of twelve Israelite chieftains sent by Moses to scout out Canaan, the land God promised to Israel. On returning, ten “spies” display a grievous lack of faith. They concede that the land “does…

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BULLSHIT!

I have an awkward relationship with WordPress, which I use to publish my posts. A former American president has an awkward relationship with the truth. My problem is easier to deal with.  WordPress analyzes a post’s “readability.” My drafts always receive a frowning icon and a warning: “Needs Improvement.” One exception stands out. “Putin’s Secret…

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DO YOU HAVE TO BE JEWISH? 

From 1961 through the ’70s, Levy’s Real Jewish Rye Bread ran a celebrated advertising campaign in New York. It’s worth a thought when we talk about casting actors in films and on TV.  The Levy’s campaign (agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach) featured obviously non-Jewish models across the ethnic spectrum. Smiling, each held up a piece of…

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NUMBERS—BIBLICAL AND AMERICAN 

The British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli is cited for mentioning “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Numbers can confuse us. This is true of Torah and American gun violence. This week, we begin the Book of Numbers. One year after the exodus from Egypt, God commands Moses to conduct a census of Israelite males age 20…

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POTATO KUGEL AND SHARED HUMANITY 

Last weekend in Los Angeles, Carolyn and I helped our son with a project for his summer anthropology class at Pasadena Community College. It involved a beloved family recipe and offers a lesson that should be familiar to Americans but too often isn’t. Yosi had to make a short video and write up a report…

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IN PRAISE OF A COMMON LANGUAGE 

Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill all are credited with some version of: “England and America are two countries separated by one language.” That differing versions of a supposedly common language can create barriers applies within America. Language variants have created an issue between Blacks and whites and also within the Black community—as if there…

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FAREWELL, GRACE AND FRANKIE 

One of our family left us. No one died. The comedy TV series Grace and Frankie (Netflix) aged out. I feel the loss.  Seven seasons involved Carolyn and me with two elder women thrown together reminiscent of The Odd Couple. The straightlaced WASP Grace Hanson (Jane Fonda) and ex-hippie Frankie Bergstein (Lili Tomlin) were forced to live together…

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WORDLE AND BETRAYAL 

Wordle, an online word game, offers insight into what drives Congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy to betray this nation. Wordle players get six tries to guess a five-letter word. Feedback helps. Enter PLACE, and if E comes at the end of the mystery word, the letter shows up on a green tile.…

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INFORMED YET IGNORANT 

I recently read the novelist Saul Bellow’s nonfiction To Jerusalem and Back (1976). Bellow’s personal take on Jerusalem and Israel half-a-century ago is quite interesting. But what most fascinated me was a comment on another matter.  Well before CNN, Fox and other cable news organizations, way before the internet, social media and podcasts, Bellow wrote, “We are informed…

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FREEDOM AND WATER 

The Israelites fleeing Egypt, and Albert Sobel, the transgender protagonist of my novel Lola Flores, share something in common. Their freedom requires traversing or immersion in a body of water, source of life. Following the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites find themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Reed Sea. “Then Moses held his arm over…

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THE OLDEST GUY IN THE ROOM 

A week ago, Carolyn and I flew to Texas for a nephew’s wedding. The trip brought up separate thoughts about flying and mortality.  A 6:00 am (ugh!) flight took us from San Francisco to Dallas-Fort Worth International to change planes for Waco. We flew coach. Ugh again. Flying once was exciting and comfortable. Today, security…

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I AM NOT A UROLOGIST

Mondays, I often read “The Conversation,” a wide-ranging chat between New York Times columnists Gail Collins and Bret Stephens. This week’s, “It’s Never a Good Time for the Hunter Biden Story,” disturbed me, though it had nothing to do with the president’s son. Stephens, a conservative, supports year-round daylight savings. Collins, a liberal, doesn’t like…

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WELCOME TO THE GRAY ZONE 

Americans hoping Ukraine can resist Vladimir Putin share a common trait with many of the most memorable characters in the Hebrew Bible. This may discomfort us. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, David, Solomon all exhibit real flaws. (David takes Bathsheba to wife after sending her soldier-husband, Uriah the Hittite,…

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MARTY

On March 3, I lost a friend. So did hundreds of other people. Many were closer. But Rabbi Martin Weiner (z”l) will always hold a place in my heart. Carolyn and I met Marty in 1985 when we joined Congregation Sherith Israel. Seth, then nine, entered religious school. Yosi and Aaron followed. Every Sunday morning—rain…

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WHEN SMALL STUFF IS BIG 

A 6th-century mosaic, an ancient proverb and this week’s Torah portion all relate to a recent post, “Hopping Off the Treadmill.” They comfort me. The colorful mosaic map on the floor of the Church of St. George in Madaba, Jordan—I was there—details the Holy Land, particularly Jerusalem. Originally, it contained more than two million small…

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PUTINSPEAK

Americans have nothing on Vladimir Putin when it comes to perverting language. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (an act of “genius” twice accorded Putin by Donald Trump before the actual incursion), becomes entirely rational once you understand Putinspeak. Here are seven words to consider: Peace—order imposed by force of arms. A society without obedience to a…

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HOPPING OFF THE TREADMILL 

In the celebrated 1967 film The Graduate, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college grad, has no clue to his future (including seduction by Mrs. Robinson—Anne Bancroft). When I saw the movie, I could relate. A recent college graduate (English) stationed at Fort Sam Houston (San Antonio), I had no idea what I wanted to do…

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LEGITIMATE POLITICAL DISCOURSE 

Physicists and sci-fi authors often posit alternate universes. Parallel selves or others inhabit space we believe to be ours. Fantasy? Not in America.  Last Friday, the Republican National Committee censured Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyoming) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois) for serving on the House select committee investigating January 6. According to the RNC, they “are…

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PUTIN’S SECRET DEMANDS 

Russia justifies massing 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine in response to NATO encroachment. But Vladimir Putin recently sent Joe Biden his real demands.   “Comrade Joe: Do not mind ‘Comrade.’ Takes me back to glorious days of Soviet Union, which all Russia wishes to return. Except way things are now, situation not bad. “Enough…

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HAM AND LIMA BEANS

In 1967, my Infantry Officer Candidate School company underwent a weeklong field exercise at Fort Stewart, Georgia. We ate C-rations. They taught me a valuable lesson about pragmatism. C-rations, heated over a can of Sterno, offered a variety of main courses. The guys ate their favorites first. Beef stew was pretty much everyone’s preference.  Eventually,…

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AFTER COLLEYVILLE, WHAT?

A British Muslim, Malik Faisal Akram, took four hostages at gunpoint—including Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker—last Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. The hostages escaped. Akram was killed. Why do antisemitic acts still take place?  When have they not? In 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us.” In 2018, a…

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COVID, TRAVEL AND LUCK

Thanks to Covid-19, Carolyn and I hadn’t seen our eldest son Seth in more than two-and-a-half years. Despite Omicron, we flew to the Seattle area to visit. There’s a lesson here. We all took precautions, isolating ourselves before the trip. Seth works from home for a major video game company. Carolyn and I avoided other…

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WISHES FOR 2022

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, and I haven’t. But I do express best wishes to people who impact our lives and can make 2022 a better year for all of us. I hope that San Francisco mayor London Breed comes across an updated copy of Crimestopper’s Textbook from the old comic strip “Dick Tracy” by Chester Gould.…

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S.F. CRIME AND B.S.

Ten days ago, Mayor London Breed addressed San Francisco’s crime problem. She said something few politicians do.  Crime will be reduced, according to Breed, “when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement … and less tolerant of all the bullshit [emphasis mine] that has destroyed our city.” Crime may or may not be…

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GRAY AND OTHER TYRANNIES

Two features of San Francisco’s Mediterranean climate stand out. One is fog, which turns summer in my neighborhood into winter. The other is a response to fog-induced gloom—homes painted in cheerful colors. As to the latter, the fashion tyrants have foisted gloom upon us. Owners of houses and apartment buildings are adhering to fashionistas’ counsel…

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SLOW STREET, DEAD-END THINKING

Early in San Francisco’s COVID lockdown, the Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) initiated a “Slow Streets” program to provide safe space for pedestrians, runners and bicyclists. This lofty idea has morphed into senseless ideology.   At least two of my three daily walks take me across or along Lake, one of almost thirty streets technically limiting traffic…

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POLITICAL TRIBALISM AND LUST

POLITICAL TRIBALISM AND LUST (545) Andrew Sullivan is a British-American writer and journalist, an openly gay Catholic, and a conservative. His November 14 “60 Minutes” interview presented the levelheaded—and now rare—side of conservatism. Sullivan embraces proven values but welcomes responsible change. “The American Constitution was set up for people who can reason and aren’t afraid…

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JACOB, ESAU AND THANKSGIVING

For Jews, Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—is two months past. But Thanksgiving is days off, and all Americans might bear in mind a story from Torah that suggests we pay attention to atonement daily. Jacob, the younger twin of Isaac and Rebecca, purchases his brother Esau’s birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. Deduct points…

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WHEN VALOR IS OVERLOOKED

Yesterday, November 11, the nation observed Veterans Day. Some people got a day off. Others shopped for bargains. But many Americans gave thanks to those who serve and formerly did. I got an early start by being videoed for a documentary about the death of one particularly heroic soldier. 1LT Howie Schnabolk, my fraternity brother,…

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POLITICAL HATRED’S NEW SLOGAN

Many on the far right have adopted a new political theme, “Let’s Go Brandon.” Innocuous? Hardly. While free speech remains a valued American principle, this phrase poses yet another threat to our democracy.   On October 2 at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway, driver Brandon Brown won his first Xfinity Series stock car race. NBC Sports’ Kelli Stavast…

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WRITERS BLOCK—SORT OF

I always take notes on my next novel and short story while working on my current project. But a theme for this week’s post challenged me. Yet stimuli abound. So I’ll share some thoughts. As I write, Democrats have yet to pass the classic infrastructure bill linked to “human infrastructure” legislation to help American workers…

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LARRY’S COMFORTING BOOK

Do books matter? For a Good Year: Selected High Holy Day Sermons by Congregation Sherith Israel’s Rabbi Emeritus Larry Raphael (z”l) is giving me needed perspective on critical theological and personal issues.  Larry’s wife Terrie put the book together. I’m grateful.  The Jewish High Holy Days are more than a month behind us, so it’s easy to…

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TWAIN, STALIN AND COVID

Surprise! The field of statistics links Mark Twain with Josef Stalin—and the two of them with the COVID-19 pandemic. “There are three kinds of lies…” Twain wrote, “…lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Stalin supposedly said, “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic.” Both statements apply to some Americans’ response to COVID-19’s impact…

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WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, who go back to 1900, have disappeared. But the team will return next season—under another name. There’s a lesson here. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” says Juliet in Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet.” She references Romeo, a member of her family’s archrival House of Montague yet filled with…

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MOSES’ DEATH AND REBIRTH

Moses died this past week. Unlike the rest of us, he’ll soon come back to life. This testifies to nearly 3,000 years of Jews venerating the written word. Last Tuesday night/Wednesday marked Simchat Torah—Joy of the Torah. Ashkenazi Jews complete the annual Torah cycle, reading V’zot Hab’rachah (Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12) and starting anew with the first…

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COMMON NONSENSE

Last Monday, the comic-strip cat Garfield announced, “I’m a rule follower. Rule number one… The rules don’t apply to me.” That’s funny—in a cartoon. In real life, nonsense. That morning, a Garfield wannabe nearly killed me.  I was crossing the street at Lake and Arguello when a red sedan sped through a red light and…

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I TURNED DOWN $5.4 MILLION

I just let an easy $5.4 million slip through my fingers. Foolish? Some people might think so. Because many Americans love a con job. Recently, I received a letter from a “barrister” in London. It promised me the life insurance proceeds of the late “Dr. Darrell Perlstein.” I’d net $5.4 million after 10 percent went…

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WEATHERING THE STORM

Hurricane Ida’s ferocious winds and rainfall hit southern Louisiana hard. Fortunately, my son Seth came out unscathed. Luck? Some. But he was prepared. As for me, preparing for the unknown was a lesson I learned only later in life. Regarding Seth, two months back, he moved from boisterous New Orleans to quiet Prairieville, a suburb…

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THE SECOND CASUALTY OF WAR

If the first casualty of war is truth, a close second is certainty. Unfortunately, Americans often take a mechanical approach to problems. President Biden preaches that there’s nothing a united American people can’t do. If only. Witness the evacuation from Afghanistan. To date, we’ve flown out 105,000 Americans, Afghans and others. But come Biden’s August 31…

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OZZIE AND HARRIET

In 1950s television, virtually everyone was white. So, in my novel 2084, a key symbol for America under a white-Christian government played on a hit ’50s TV show. 2084’s protagonist, a floundering stand-up comic named Sam Klein, aka Groucho, meets “secretly” with his stand-up mentor, Don Green (nee David Greenberg) aka Miltie. They hide in plain…

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AFGHANISTAN

Following 9/11, President George W. Bush sent American troops into Afghanistan when the Taliban refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden. Twenty years later, we’ve all but pulled out. Have we learned anything? The Twin Towers turned rubble, Bush made countless mistakes. Defeating the Taliban was easy. But he refused to send American troops after…

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REMEMBERING HERB

My brother-in-law Herb Zaks (z”l) died on July 27. Married to my sister Kay for 61 years, he was 85. But this isn’t the end. We met when Herb was 21, me 13. He became a big brother, always supportive. We loved sports and went to Yankees games with my father’s weekend and holiday tickets.…

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CHILLING UNDER THE HEAT DOME

My neighborhood woke up to blue skies. That’s rare, because while much of America swelters, San Francisco remains an exception. What is nature telling us? This year, the West established record high temperatures: Death Valley 130, Las Vegas 117, Portland 115, Seattle 108. At my house, we chill in the mid-50s. We like to think…

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GAZA’S EXISTENCE ON FILM

The July 14 New York Times online presented a film, “So They Know We Existed,” about the recent Israel-Hamas mini-war. Gaza residents shot it using their phones. The film is touching. It’s also misleading. First, highlights: An opening title states, “Palestinians in Gaza captured the conflict as it unfolded.” They did, and the film is filled with real images…

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CHARACTER AND COLOR

Sixty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed that someday, the content of one’s character would rise above the color of one’s skin. A recent email and a newspaper article lead me to believe that real equality remains a dream—for reasons you may not suspect.  The email came from a literary publication. Like most, it…

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OPEN AGAIN

As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, theories abound on what a re-opened America will be like. As to my outlook, I turn—as in the past—to a favorite comic strip. Some people believe the nation will be better—purged?—after experiencing over 600,000 Americans killed by the virus. “Pearls Before Swine,” written and drawn by Stephan Pastis (San Francisco…

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PRIDE

It’s Pride Month, a time for the LGBTQ+ community—an amalgam of communities—to assert, “Here I am.” Yet “pride” carries a more nuanced meaning than many people realize. To begin, I’m the father of three sons—one straight, one trans, one gay (married to my gay son-in-law). I accept all of them for who they are and…

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IT CAN HAPPEN HERE

Ross Douthat, columnist for the New York Times, wrote an opinion piece last Tuesday as a follow-up to my previous post, “A Bleak American Future?”, in which I mentioned my new novel, 2084. Okay, that’s wishful thinking on my part—but… Douthat’s column, “Are We Headed for A Coup in 2024?” considers the same challenge to American democracy…

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A BLEAK AMERICAN FUTURE?

The New Yorker titled a May 27 article by Susan Glasser, “American Democracy Isn’t Dead Yet, But It’s Getting There.” Hyperbole? Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan commission to examine the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol that sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.  At a Memorial Day weekend QAnon-affiliated conference,…

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GENOCIDE? WORDS MATTER

The ceasefire holds between Israel and Hamas. Peace in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank? A long way off. Both observers and supporters of the Palestinians could help nudge the parties along by not abusing words blindly targeting Israel.   Proportionality. Hamas sent towards Israel 4,000 unguided missiles. Some landed in Gaza. Many were destroyed. Others struck Israeli civilians.…

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FINDING LOST DOGS

On Wednesday, May 12, my son Aaron’s and son-in-law Jeremy’s 18-month-old pit bull Stella, a sweetie, bolted from her dogwalker’s vehicle at 14th and Castro. A massive search operation ensued. Carolyn and I learned how little we knew about finding lost dogs. At first, Carolyn and Aaron joined friends driving around Buena Vista Park. Then a…

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CANNIBALS BARE THEIR TEETH

Nearly 75 years ago, George Orwell pointed out the mind-bending use of language by authoritarian regimes in his classic novel 1984. The Republican Party long has gone Orwellian. Republican members of the House, with the blessings of Big Brother, aka Donald Trump, purged Liz Cheney from her number-three post as conference chair. Minority leader Kevin McCarthy…

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LESSONS OF MOUNT MERON

A stampede at a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) religious festival in Israel last week resulted in 45 deaths and many more injuries. The tragedy took place on Mount Meron across from the city of Ts’fat (Saphed), center of Jewish spiritualism. What can we learn? One hundred thousand Haredim—all male, teenagers included—gathered to celebrate Lag B’omer, a festive break…

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REVEALED AND HIDDEN

My good friend Les Kozerowitz and I are making biographical videos on Zoom for our children, now very much adults in their 30s and 40s. They’ll learn much—but not everything. We’re recording ourselves—each asking the other questions—because many kids never get to it. Also, we’re not among the many elders who resist being questioned about…

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ROAD TRIP

For 16 months, Carolyn and I didn’t travel farther from our house than 25 miles, and then only for vaccinations. Last weekend, we drove to Los Angeles to see our son Yosi. The trip reinforced the marvels of California—and seeing them at ground level. We overnighted in Pismo Beach, halfway to L.A. Highway 101 doesn’t…

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THE OTHER CONVERSATION

African-American parents long have had “the conversation” with their sons regarding interactions with police. There’s another critical life-and-death conversation all Americans should have. Immigration has been called the third-rail of our national politics. Most politicians engage in immigration rhetoric, not policy. Why? Studying the issues objectively risks alienating many or all of varying constituencies. Why? Rational discussion…

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RACE AND CONTEXT, PART TWO—OTHER VIEWS

I asked several African-American friends (Jewish) to comment on last week’s post regarding Blacks as examples of academic failure (and success). Their comments, edited for brevity: Tamar: “I grappled with what to think about the [Sandra] Sellers audio [Georgetown Law Center] precisely because it doesn’t say much on its face, but what it evokes looms large.…

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RACE AND CONTEXT, PART ONE

This week, some thoughts on race. Next week, I’ll look at comments from two African-American friends and explore related issues. Two weeks ago, two racial incidents resulted in the firing of offenders. One firing leaves me with questions regarding context and perspective. An Oklahoma high-school basketball sportscaster responded to a girls team—only some players Black—kneeling…

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ONE TABERNACLE, TWO LESSONS FOR AMERICA

Who were the five wealthiest Americans in the 1800s? Most fabled poets of 16th century Islam? Greatest emperors of China’s Tang dynasty?  I can’t answer, either. Few people achieve lasting fame. Yet many try to imprint their name on history. Ego often leads them to notoriety or infamy, as they do more harm than good…

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NOT JUST ANOTHER JOE

For five years, I wrote a lot about the most recent former president of the United States. I haven’t yet commented on the man who defeated him, Joe Biden. I’ve had reasons.  Biden, the anti-blowhard, doesn’t seek attention. Measured and self-effacing, he makes no claim to being the man on the white horse. He focuses…

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PFIZER #2 IN ARM—WHAT NEXT?

Last Sunday, Carolyn and I received our second Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations. Carolyn came down with side effects that ended mid-week. I was fine. The shots should eliminate most risk of getting the virus or, if we do, suffering grave complications. Still, I’m left with serious questions. How many Americans will not have timely access to…

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LLAMAS IN THE FOG

In October 2019, I explained how I deal with past mistakes and regrets in “My Llamas.” Some months ago, my llamas taught me a new lesson. Simply put, the 2019 post developed through inspiration provided by one of two Hebrew words for why. They appear both in the Torah and modern use. Lama (pronounced LA-ma) comes from a phrase, L’ma…

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THE JURORS AND THE COMMANDMENT

Go outside, wet your index finger and hold it up. Now you understand why an important commandment in the Torah failed to impact the Senate trial of Donald Trump. Trump “won” 43-57. Of course, conviction requires a two-thirds majority. Seven Republicans voted their conscience. Forty-three cast votes based on which way they saw the political…

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VACCINATION SHOT ONE

On Super Bowl Sunday, Carolyn and I drove down to San Mateo where Sutter Health was giving seniors Covid-19 vaccinations—Pfizer. The process stimulated several thoughts. San Francisco went under “lock down” eleven months ago. Since then, I haven’t been south of the border with Daily City. The farthest north? Giving my car occasional outings, we…

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THE MANDALORIAN AND THE JEWS

Jewish film/TV characters may be identified by “Jewish names” but rarely are depicted living Jewish lives. Yet Jewish writers and directors often include Jewish references in their work. Take The Mandalorian (Disney+). Part of the Disney-owned Star Wars franchise, the series was created by executive producer/writer Jon Favreau, a fellow Queensite, who was bar mitzvah. The Mandalorian provides what seem more…

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KAREN AND GEORGE

Language is powerful, people imperfect. Often, we weaponize words against others. Exhibits A and B: Karenand George. Karen is hurled at white women accused of using their genetic, economic and social status—often termed privilege—to verbally and even physically assault African Americans. Karen accuses a mass of people and denies their individuality. I know two wonderful Karens. But what’s new? A century…

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FINGERS CROSSED

Joe Biden ascended to the Oval Office after a tumultuous post-election period. His inaugural address replaced American carnage with American hope, and Washington’s spectacular fireworks celebrated not the individual but our continuing democracy. What lies ahead? President Biden’s call to “come together to carry all of us forward” was heard across the nation. Not all…

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MOSES AND THE OVAL OFFICE

The terrorist insurrection at the Capitol shocked the nation. Donald Trump’s second impeachment not so much. The American Pharaoh was headed for disaster. His leadership stood in contrast to that of Moses.  Rabbi Shai Held spotlights Moses’ leadership strengths in The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion: Genesis and Exodus, Volume 1 (2017).  In…

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INSURRECTION AND COMPLICITY

Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol unfolded like a TV mini-series. I binge-watched and rejoiced in the failure of an insurrection by American terrorists incited by Donald Trump. Now, we’re being inundated with pangs of conscience. The attempt to overthrow our democratic process prompted much “soul searching.” I’m skeptical. To engage in that activity, you need…

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THE REALITY CONUNDRUM

Last Monday, two events began shaping the future of the United States. Both offer reason to hope—and agonize. In New York, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center received the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination against COVID-19. Across the nation, the Electoral College met to officially determine our next president.  The first of the…

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THIS CHANUKAH IS SPECIAL

The Jewish Festival of Lights began last night. It brightens winter’s gloom, offers hope we can overcome all the reasons we’ve had to despair. This year, Chanukah is more special than ever. 2020 brought us the COVID-19 pandemic, which shrouded America in darkness—especially since many tens of thousands of deaths probably could have been avoided…

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WHAT HISTORY TELLS US

Carolyn and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving—just the two of us. Carolyn prepared a terrific turkey—meals for a week. We were thankful. We’ll remain so. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 horror, history gives us good reason. In 1918, the Spanish flu broke out. San Francisco required facemasks and imposed a $5 fine on violators. The Anti-Mask…

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