Blog

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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