Posts in On Our Mind

Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Expressing gratitude, whether to God, to people, or one’s country, is a mysterious but reliable portal to optimism.  There is no more effective way to induce the happy sensation of optimism and hope in our souls than finding opportunities to say, “Thank-you!”

Wishing us all a meaningful Thanksgiving.

A Veterans’ Day Ignorance Tax?

November 11th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 4 comments

How does Veterans Day differ from Presidents Day? How does each differ from Memorial Day? These aren’t variations on a riddle, but our idea for raising taxes. In our opinion we should forget about sin taxes on cigarettes or junk food; we should reduce business and income taxes and we should make up the difference with an ignorance tax.

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, marking the anniversary of the end of World War I, November 11, 1917. In 1938, as war clouds rolled over Europe once again, Congress made Veterans Day an annual national holiday, to be observed on that date. Notice the use of the word ‘observed.’ That is completely different from the word celebrate which would be appropriate for the Fourth of July.

Yet fewer people each year actually know the difference between these unique days. Even fewer can distinguish between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.  Congress eased the path to ignorance by passing the National Holiday Act moving most Federal holidays to Monday, thereby placing the focus on a three day weekend instead of the event itself. (And while this might be slightly off-topic, who decided that apostrophes were unnecessary after the words ‘Veterans and ‘Presidents?)

Since these days have become prime shopping days, quite different from their original intent, our idea is that every consumer should take a quiz based on the day’s specific theme. Sales tax for that day should be levied based on how well one does on the quiz.  Score high and pay little; score low and pay a lot. Veterans, of course, would pay no tax. Rather than going into government coffers the money collected could be matched with a recipient charity that exemplifies the day’s focus. Punishing ignorance while increasing gratitude towards our veterans sounds like a winning move all around.

The Missing Words

September 23rd, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

I have not seen an advance copy of a new book about adolescence. The title, Wildhood: The Epic Journey from Adolescence to Adulthood in Humans and Other Animals,” is off-putting only because I consider humans to be an entirely different creation, not simply another breed of animal. Nevertheless, judging by an article I read that was adapted from the book, the book will present fascinating nuggets.

The piece I read explored how different animals, ranging from sea otters to gazelles, put themselves in danger during adolescence. The paradox is that they may not survive. However, if they do, they are better equipped for being successful adults. The parallels to human adolescence provide much food for thought.

What captivated me about the article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal was the complete absence of the words “male” and “female.” I do not know if this is because authors Dr. Natterson-Horowitz and Ms. Kathryn Bowers don’t discuss any distinctions between the sexes in the book or if this was a function of newspaper editing. Somehow I think that mentioning that certain behaviors are unique or more prominent among males or that all behaviors cross gender lines seems to me to be…how shall I say it—Scientific?

No Memory; No Future

September 11th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 2 comments

Not even 20 years have passed since our country was viciously attacked on September 11.  I think it safe to say that 18 years after Pearl Harbor, the date of December 7 meant something on college campuses, in Hollywood and in all corners of the United States.  Wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that September 11th evokes unanimous sentiments of patriotism, support for our troops and feelings of gratitude for being an American throughout this great land?

Follow up: Someone shared the following NY Times tweet: “18 years have passed since airplanes took aim and brought down the World Trade Center. Today, families will once again gather and grieve at the site where more than 2,000 people died.”

Disgusting. Who is the bad guy? Airplanes. People died, they weren’t murdered. Families will grieve, so the rest of America should tune out.

Nothing New Under the Sun

September 9th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

Thank you to our son, Ari, for reminding us of this quote by Alexander do Tocqueville (1805 -1859) in his magnificent book, Democracy in America.

“There is in fact a manly and legitimate passion for equality that spurs all men to wish to be strong and esteemed. This passion tends to elevate the lesser to the rank of the greater. But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.”

 

What Is a Jewish Issue?

August 14th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 12 comments

My husband and I have many friends and relatives who grew up in America and now make their home in Israel. Some of these people served with distinction in the American military; others contributed to the United States through their businesses or other means. All of them are grateful to the country of their birth even though they no longer live here.

On their behalf as well as on the behalf of those of us who currently call the United States home, I felt compelled to respond to the following social media post I saw.

“…I only feel sorry for family and friends who are infected with Trumphobia and blinded to recognizing that there is no current Democrat candidate who would NOT be a disaster for Israel and the Jewish People. [that should be ] The only Jewish concern.” (my bolded emphasis)

I immediately submitted my opposition to this post on social media and I wish to share that response with you. I am expanding it slightly since my reply was off the cuff and I now have more time to review it, but the gist of what I said is the same:

I’m afraid I have to disagree with your words, Mr. X. I am concerned for America and actually get annoyed when politicians think that because I am Jewish I only care about Israel and those of my own faith. I care deeply about the United States of American and her citizens, whatever their faith.

I happen to think that in today’s world what is bad for Jews and Israel is bad for America and vice-versa. If those interests ever separate, then one group will be behaving in ways that violate Biblical values. We will need to oppose whichever it is— either America’s policies or those of Israel. I don’t mean on minor disagreements which have to occur if each government cares primarily for its own citizens as it must, but I mean a real rift because one nation sides with Godly values and direction while the other doesn’t. Standing with the Jewish people always means lining up with Biblical Truth and both the United States and the State of Israel have many policies that do that and some that don’t. Standing strongly for those values is my “Jewish concern” and I am grateful to live in a country where so many Christians share that concern.

Will Wonders Never Cease

July 26th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

I don’t agree with Senator Elizabeth Warren about much, but this morning was the exception to the rule. I read a statement of hers suggesting that people buy houses they cannot afford in order to have access to better public schools.

I can’t speak to how much of reaching beyond one’s means to buy a home is attributable to this, but I do agree that it is a disgrace that public schools in so many areas (poor ones in particular) are disastrous. I would love to ask the Senator why and how she thinks they got to be so. Only two generations ago my very poor parents and their siblings got an excellent education in the public schools.

My answer to that question is that liberal policies and Democrat domination of the inner city, including selling the futures of poor children for contributions from the teachers union, destroyed public education.  What is her answer?

Join Us in Prayer

July 15th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 6 comments

Most of the time in formal Jewish life, men and women are referred to as, “So and so, the son/daughter of (insert father’s first name). So, on a marriage contract or when a man is called up to the Torah that is the nomenclature that is used. The exception is when we are beseeching God to restore good health to someone who is ill. Then we say “So and so, the son/daughter of (insert mother’s first name). 

In Hebrew, the word for mercy shares a root with the word for womb. When we want to invoke the deepest mercy, we make a connection to a person’s mother, “reminding” God of the love that allowed a mother to share her very body with her child. 

Our very dear friend, Pastor Tiz Huch of New Beginnings Church in Dallas is undergoing serious surgery this coming Wednesday. We ask you to join us in praying to God to provide a complete healing for Tiz, daughter of Gwendolyn.

 

Fourth of July

July 4th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Wishing everyone a wonderful Fourth of July with time to reflect with gratitude and love on the founding of the United States.

Our Loss; Our Challenge

June 19th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

These past few weeks a number of great people who were all over the age of 100 passed away. I have seen notices of the deaths of Frances Oldham Kelsey, Tom Derek Bowden and Nicholas Winton.

You may be unfamiliar with some of these names, but each of them stepped up when there was a desperate need for responsible, humanitarian and courageous action. Each of them saved lives when others turned away.

Their famous actions took place decades ago, yet all humanity was blessed by the lengthy years that followed when they were still among us. When Jacob goes to Haran in Genesis 28:10, the verse makes the point of saying that he left Be’ersheba. Rather reduntant, no? You can’t go somewhere without leaving where you were. Ancient Jewish wisdom points out that the extra wordage tells us that Be’ersheba lost something with Jacob’s going. While he was there, the city benefitted simply by the presence of a great person.

When we read of great exploits of those who lived before us, we can stay a bit disconnected. It makes for wonderful, adventurous reading, but it is history—our times are different. Sharing this earth with those who did great things prods us to recognize that bravery and sticking out our necks for what is right is a current need as well. As long as these individuals were on this planet, their very presence brought blessing to the world. Now that they are gone, the onus is even more on us to compensate for that loss.

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