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AAJC Happenings

The great author and playwright, Herman Wouk, today returned to the Lord, aged 104

May 17th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 4 comments

Herman Wouk spent time with Susan and me in our home in Los Angeles while his classic books, Winds of War and War and Remembrance were in television production.

His book that I tend to recommend more than any other is his depiction of Judaism entitled This Is My God.  It is named for the Bible verse   This is my God and I will beautify Him (Exodus 15:2) and I don’t think it has ever been improved on.  In that book Herman Wouk described what Shabbat meant to him.  This is part of what he wrote:

 

The Shabbat has cut most sharply athwart my own life when one of my plays has been in rehearsal or in tryout.

The crisis atmosphere of an attempt at Broadway is a legend of our time, and a true one; I have felt under less pressure going into battle at sea. Friday afternoon, during these rehearsals, inevitably seems to come when the project is tottering on the edge of ruin. I have sometimes felt guilty of treason, holding to the Shabbat in such a desperate situation. But then, experience has taught me that a theater enterprise almost always is in such a case. Sometimes it does totter to ruin, and sometimes it totters to great prosperity, but tottering is its normal gait, and cries of anguish are its normal tone of voice.

So I have reluctantly taken leave of my colleagues on Friday afternoon, and rejoined them on Saturday night. The play has never collapsed in the meantime. When I return I find it tottering as before, and the anguished cries as normally despairing as ever. My plays have encountered in the end both success and failure, but I cannot honestly ascribe either result to my observing the Shabbat.

Leaving the gloomy theater, the littered coffee cups, the jumbled scarred-up scripts, the haggard actors, the knuckle-gnawing producer, the clattering typewriter, and the dense, tobacco smoke has been a startling change, very like a brief return from the wars.

My wife and my boys, whose existence I have almost forgotten in the anxious shoring up of the tottering ruin, are waiting for me, dressed in holiday clothes, and looking to me marvelously attractive. We have sat down to a splendid dinner, at a table graced with flowers and the old Shabbat symbols: the burning candles, the twisted challah loaves, the stuffed fish, and my grandfather’s silver goblet brimming with wine. I have blessed my boys with the ancient blessings; we have sung the pleasantly syncopated Shabbat table hymns.

The talk has little to do with tottering ruins. My wife and I have caught up with our week’s conversation. The boys, knowing that Shabbat is the occasion for asking questions, have asked them. We talk of Judaism. For me it is a retreat into restorative magic.

Shabbat has passed much in the same manner. The boys are at home in the synagogue, and they like it. They like even more the assured presence of their parents. In the weekday press of schooling, household chores, and work — and especially in play producing time — it often happens that they see little of us. On Shabbat we are always there and they know it. They know too that I am not working and that my wife is at her ease. It is their day.

It is my day, too. The telephone is silent. I can think, read, study, walk or do nothing. It is an oasis of quiet. My producer one Saturday night said to me, “I don’t envy you your religion, but I envy you your Shabbat.”

On California’s Radical Policies

March 7th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 3 comments

We loved this line from Professor Charles R. Kesler in the Wall Street Journal and thought you would enjoy it too:

“Karl Marx called his kind of socialism “scientific,” as opposed to his predecessors’ “utopian” fantasies. California appears to be pioneering a third kind, which might be called “infantile.”  Our Democrats strongly suspect their programs won’t work and know they can’t be paid for—but want them anyway.”

When Reality Mimics a Musing

February 27th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 2 comments

In my February 14, 2019 Susan’s Musing, I reflected on the TV show Hogan’s Heroes as a way of thinking about how to view the pictures of VA Governor Northam and the pictures of him that surfaced from his medical school yearbook. My conclusion was that it is dangerous and stokes the fires of hatred to look at everything through the eyes of “ism,”  be it racism, anti-Semitism or any other type. Many of you commented and a lively discussion ensued.

A few days ago, one of the trustees of and major donors to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania resigned because a picture surfaced of him as a college sophomore wearing a swastika armband at a Hogan’s Heroes-themed party.

Chalk up one more victory for intolerance.

 

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein 1952-2019

February 14th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings 1 comment

On February 6, 2019, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews passed away suddenly from a heart attack.  Rabbi Daniel Lapin was asked to write a eulogy for The Jewish Press, which describes itself as, “America’s Largest Independent Jewish Weekly.” Here are some excerpts from that eulogy.

It is neither pleasant nor easy to say goodbye to an old friend. My world became a lot lonelier last Wednesday afternoon when Yechiel Eckstein departed this world for his heavenly reward. Reflecting on the loss is most of what I have been doing since then.

…Do you know how cyclists achieve speed records? They ride behind a high-speed truck fitted with a huge wind deflector. Using the full power of its thundering engine, the truck speeds just ahead of the bicycle. Shielded from the wind and fury, the rider pedals away in a tranquil wind shadow.

Yechiel was my wind shield. We Jews, like other people, often succumb to the seduction of driving with our eyes glued to the rear-view mirror. We diligently dodge the dangers of yesterday while blithely ignoring the threats of tomorrow. It’s true that Christian theology spilled much Jewish blood over many centuries. But today Jewish blood is being spilled by murderous Muslims encouraged by a radical secularism that is hostile to people of faith and the State of Israel. Today, Christians are the victims, not the oppressors. Yechiel saw all this over 30 years ago.

Unaware that Yechiel had preceded me by eight years, I formed an alliance of Jews and Christians in 1991. Contradicting centuries of conventional wisdom that insisted Christians were our implacable foes, my work was not without controversy. However, as painful as the assaults I endured from my fellow Jews were, they were as sprinklings of confetti compared to what was inflicted upon Yechiel…

He absorbed much of the fire and fury aimed by those who were determined to see Christians as the enemy. By the time I came along and insisted that the problem we Jews faced was not Christians but, in fact, a secularism that was seducing our youth and emboldening radical Islam, I was able to operate in a relative wind shadow. Yechiel was my wind shield…

He conducted himself with love and concern toward all he came into contact with. Jew and Christian, employee, associate, donor, or beneficiary – all felt that Yechiel was genuinely interested in them and really cared about them…

Yechiel was a courageous man. The default condition for human beings is cowardice, not courage. That’s why Moses, Joshua and Solomon were adjured to be courageous. It doesn’t come naturally. Friendship towards evangelical Christians was not a popular posture in the Jewish community prior to 9/11. Despite possessing the intellect as well as the cultural adroitness to speak out of both sides of his mouth, he never did. Eckstein never ducked the issues. He was exactly who he was with no apologies and was always willing to engage in discussion or debate.

He was devoted to truth and suffered real pain at the skullduggery practiced by many he considered friends. I don’t think he ever understood how people were able to turn their backs on years of friendship for the sake of political expediency. He was a courageous man so he never could understand cowards.

History has long proved Yechiel Eckstein correct. That Jews and the State of Israel have mortal enemies is without doubt. That for the most part, Christians are philo-Semitic and stand with Israel is equally certain. It is indisputable that the warmth felt towards Jews and Israel by millions of gentle Christians – for the first time in two millennia – owes much to Yechiel Eckstein.

Jews Do Believe in Heaven

February 6th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 8 comments

Twitter is often the platform of ignorant blathering and best ignored. But when the tweet is by someone who is White House Correspondent for The New York Times and it concerns Judaism, we think it worthwhile to publicly refute it.

We understand that not everyone loved President Trump’s State of the Union speech as much as we did. Yet Annie Karni objected to the president’s words when he quoted a Holocaust survivor saying, “They came down from heaven,” about the American troops who liberated him from the Dachau concentration camp.

 

(Anni Karni: Trump just ad-libbed “they came down from heaven” when quoting a Holocaust survivor watching American soldiers liberate Dachau. Jews don’t believe in Heaven.)

Note to Ms. Karni. Judaism does teach of Heaven—rather extensively. Those Jews who are faithful descendants of our ancestors believe in an afterlife, Heaven, and judgement after death. We acknowledge that many Jews, tragically, often know little of the traditional, vibrant and enduring faith that is their heritage. So, we think you made an honest mistake, but as an intelligent woman we encourage you to expand your education. There’s a wonderful world of Judaism waiting for your exploration. Perhaps you will join us for a Shabbat dinner and we can talk further.

God Bless America

January 31st, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

My husband and I have the privilege of speaking for the United States Army Chaplain Corps over these few days. What an incredible honor and humbling experience to meet these soldiers and their spouses. We pray that our words provides insight, strength and support to them and are grateful for the reminder that our peaceful lives are possible because others shoulder the burden of protecting our country.

 

MAGA Hat Day: an anti-bullying initiative

January 24th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 11 comments

Around Chanuka time, one sometimes hears a story of a house that has in its window a menorah celebrating the Jewish holiday, being defaced. Whether this was done by teenage hooligans, motivated by anti-Semitism, or the act of a disturbed Jew, a number of Christian neighbors’ immediate response is to buy a menorah and place it in their windows. It is a sign that they stand against hatred.

In honor of that, I have an idea. Teenage boys from Covington School were bullied for being white, male, Catholic, pro-life and Trump fans. The bullies were, in many cases, powerful people who at other times deride bullying. They include pundits, media personalities, actors and others. Some of them have apologized for their actions; others have doubled down and are still wallowing in their venom.

Let’s declare a date, perhaps February 7th, thus giving everyone time to prepare, as “Wear a MAGA Hat Day.” The ladies on The View, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Times journalists, Al Sharpton and others who despise Donald Trump can make a true statement that disagreeing politically with an adult is one thing, but demeaning, threatening and bashing children is something entirely different. Who knows? Maybe the far Left might even reach the point of declaring that demeaning, threatening and physically attacking adults with whom they disagree is worth denouncing.

Gillette’s Male-bashing Commercial and Donald Trump

January 17th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 1 comment

Here is a quick thought on the new male-bashing, virtue-signalling Gillette ad.  I think it is wrong to ask whether this is a good business move for them or not. I think it is a good move. Their company name has been in the news non-stop for the past few days.

What would make it a bad move for them? If conservatives didn’t individually decide to boycott  their products, as I’m sure many will, but if a number of conservative organizations and all conservative media voices picked one member of Gillette’s Board of Directors, or one person high-up in the company and dug up dirt on him or her. Perhaps exaggeration and lies might even be involved. (Needless to say, I’m not recommending this, but I think it is a worthwhile train of thought to follow.) The message that, “If you start up with us or don’t agree with our thinking, you will be punished,” would come across loud and clear and make other companies hesitate before jumping on the politically correct bandwagon. This is pretty much what happens when companies offend liberals.

I don’t expect that to happen and I admit to being happy that it won’t. I’m not into mud-wrestling. But for anyone still wondering why so many of us greeted Donald Trump’s election with glee, this should help you understand. I am delighted that after Nancy Pelosi tried to bully him the president with warnings about delaying the State of the Union address because of the government shutdown, President Trump didn’t grovel and he didn’t insist on taking the high road. Instead he explained that her desired trip abroad would, unfortunately, have to be canceled because of the shutdown. YES!!!

Welcome to the White House

January 7th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

Please watch this amazing video posted on our American Alliance of Jews and Christians facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/AmericanAllianceJewsChristians/

Did You See This?

December 18th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

We take all negative news about President Trump with a shovelful of salt. Not only is much of it spawned by malice, but any outlet that ignores anything positive yet highlights anything negative (and did exactly the opposite with a previous president) doesn’t deserve recognition.

Here is a link to a party that the President and Melania Trump hosted at the White House for Holocaust survivors. Like us, you are probably not surprised that it went largely unnoticed. (Thanks, Julie Ann, for sharing it with us.) https://www.facebook.com/will.kniesche/posts/2255655761379720

 

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