Monday, March 25, 2013

Thank you, Maud Newton

Maud Newton's essay in the 3/25/13 issue of the New York Times Magazine titled, "Oy Vey Christian Soldiers" articulated feelings I've had about the Evangelical Christian movement so much better than I could have ever said myself. The essay was mainly about Evangelical Christians having bar mitzvahs (or as they call it, a bar barakah) for their sons as a religious rite of passage.

There are so many things wrong with this idea, I barely know where to begin. Taking Jewish traditions and Christianizing them is not the way to pay homage to Judaism. As Ms. Newton put it in the essay, "There’s a big difference between building bridges across cultures to foster understanding and building bridges so you can run across and ransack the other side."

I was sorry, though not surprised, to read of all the Jewish organizations who supported this borrowing of Jewish traditions because of the Evangelical support of Israel. But the support is based on the belief that if Jews gather in Israel, it will bring about the end times so Jesus can come back and basically tell all non-believers, "I told you so!"

Add to this how the Evangelical Christians believe they are the true Jews because the Jews refuse to believe in Jesus. So are they taking our traditions out of respect to Jewish traditions or because they believe they have more of a right to them than we do?

The support of the American Evangelical Christians for Israel has become a Devil's bargain. We need their support for a strong Israel, even if we deeply disagree with their reasons.

And since I'm just going off on tangents here, let me say this to Jews for Jesus. I've read your excuse, but I don't buy it. You can't be Jewish and believe in Jesus. A Christian is someone who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. You can't mix the beliefs. If you accept Jesus, you aren't a Jew for Jesus. You are a former Jew who converted to Christianity. You are a Christian. Be happy with the new you and stop rubbing your conversion in the face of your former religion. It's embarrassing for the rest of us and it makes your mother cry. Which is what I think was your goal to begin with.

And Christianity. You have a lovely religion with wonderful traditions, songs, messages, the whole schmeer. But can I ask a favor of not just the Evangelical Christians, but all Christians? Stop stealing other people's stuff. The symbols used during Christmas and Easter were both taken from Pagan holidays. And how did the Christians repay the Pagans? By demonizing them. So you can see why we Jews get a little nervous when we see Christians wearing skullcaps and prayer shawls having bar mitzvahs. So out of respect to the religion of your Lord, please leave our Jewish traditions alone.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


I see so many sad animal stories on the Internet about neglected, abused, and or abandoned pets that suffer horribly before being rescued in the final paragraph that I begin to feel that I just can’t take another reminder of how insensitive people can be towards helpless animals. The stories make responsible pet owners want to hug their beloved pets tightly and spoil them with expensive treats.

I appreciate the importance of these stories, but I feel an overwhelming need for a happy pet story. So here goes.

I won’t go into Alice’s past or how she came to live with us. She has been living comfortably in our home for seven years and counting. She has a steady supply of food plus the occasional treat. She has been known to get wickedly stoned on cat nip. She has a large yard that she never leaves. In that yard, she almost wiped out the chipmunk population until she realized that she needed to pace herself. When she does catch a chipmunk, she prefers the front half. Alice doesn’t care for chipmunk ass.

Alice lives to crap next to the neighbor’s house, but will use the litter box if it’s raining. The neighbor either doesn’t know she craps next to his house or he doesn’t care. He’s never mentioned it and I’m not going to bring it up, but I have noticed that the grass in that area is extra healthy and green.

We have two other cats. Alice likes to wrestle one of the cats and nap with the other. It adds balance to her life. Alice sleeps at the foot of our bed at night and in the morning after we get up, she continues to sleep in the bed alone. Sometimes she makes a cave in the covers and sleeps inside it. Alice loves caves. She also loves string, pipe cleaners, and fuzzy mice toys, but really who doesn’t?

We take Alice to the vet once a year for her check up and vaccinations or if she’s sick. Luckily, she rarely gets sick, which is a good thing, because she doesn’t care for the vet. But really, who does?

Alice purrs very quietly. It’s not a full purr but more of a huffing sound. She gets lots of love and attention so she huffs a lot. Alice is a happy cat who is not neglected, abused or abandoned. As a result, Alice acts like she owns the place.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I saw a headline that Ann Coulter said something outrageous and rude. Why is that news? They might as well have a headline that reads: Sun rises in East and sets in West. Coulter’s job is to make rude comments about people who are supposedly her ideological enemies. I’d like to think she employs a staff of writers who pitch her the most vile heinous comments they can come up with and then she chooses which one is the worst and goes on TV and says it.

The point is, if you do something over and over again, then its not news.

If the news is going to cover stories that are so repetitious that all they have to do is take an old story and change the date, then here are some suggestions for their next headlines:



And why not just drop the pretense that the headline refers to something new. It might be more comforting to know some things in life are still constant. Here are some examples:




Friday, March 8, 2013

Who's that knocking on my door?

Jehovah Witnesses. If you haven’t had one knocking on your door to ask if you’ve heard the word of Jesus and then try to push the latest copy of their magazine, The Watchtower, on you, then consider yourself blessed by God. He must truly love you to have kept this nuisance away from your home.

I grew up in a suburban cul-de-sac in which every home was inhabited by a Jewish family. We nicknamed ourselves “Little Israel.” Every few months, two Jehovah Witnesses, always young men and usually blond dressed in white shirts, black slacks, and skinny black ties, would roll into the neighborhood on their bicycles and knock on our doors and hand out their literature. The kids on our block got to the point where we would do advance warning to our parents that the witnesses had returned. It was like alerting the tribe of approaching locusts.

My synagogue printed a pamphlet that explained why Jews didn’t believe in Jesus and how we were pretty well off spiritually as Jews thank you very much. The next time a Jehovah Witness knocked on our door, Dad said to him, “I’ll take one of your pamphlets, if you’ll take one of mine.” I think Dad expected the guy to be crushed by his clever religious counter attack, but instead the guy was thrilled. Finally, a debate instead of a door slammed in his face. He thought he had broken a barrier but really he had seen the last attempt by Dad to be civil about their constant intrusions.

In the neighborhood I live in now, the witnesses who come to my door are African American, male and female, and of various ages. Not that it matters, I just wanted to point out that it’s not the same young white men who frequented my childhood home. When they show up, if my wife answers the door, she orders them to leave immediately. There are two groups of people that she doesn’t suffer lightly: fools and religious zealots.

I, on the other hand, used to treat them politely and would indulge them to a degree. I’d take their literature, the trusty Watchtower and occasionally an Awake magazine, but would never give them a voluntary donation for the magazine. I didn’t ask for it, they foisted it on me, so either give it to me free or don’t give it to me at all.

I let them give their religious sales pitch because I was trying to be respectful of their beliefs, even if they weren’t showing the same respect to me. My religion taught me “that which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” I couldn’t judge them just because their religion didn’t seem to have the same rule. But as time wore on, their disrespect began to gnaw at me. And it is disrespect and more to the point, it’s religious intolerance.

When they say that I’m going to Hell for not believing in their God, then they are saying my religion is not valid. This sentiment wasn’t unique to Jehovah Witnesses, but most other religions don’t make door to door solicitations.

They may be saying they want to convert me out of “love” and that their God demands that they do their best to “save” me, but really they are trying to destroy all other religions. If they got their wish and everyone in the world was saved and converted to their religion then the other religions would cease to exist. That would make them oh so happy. That also means that they have no tolerance for any other religion than their own. So if I complain about this, I’m not persecuting them, I’m defending my religion.

I wasn’t thinking about defending my religion the day a young African American man came to my front door to hand out the latest edition of the Watchtower. If anything, I could tell from his smile and body language that he was saying yes, we both know the drill. Let’s be as friendly about this as possible. But I wasn’t in the mood to be friendly that day. It dawned on me at that moment that being polite was doing either of us any favors. They were going to keep coming back no matter how I treated them. They were never going to respect my beliefs. Why should I show them the same courtesy?

I stepped out onto the porch with the young man.

“I don’t have time to talk to you now,” I said, “So give me your home address.”

He almost did, but then he caught himself. “Why do you want my home address?” he asked.

“I want to come to your home, preferably at dinner time, with my bible and my literature so that I can explain to you why you should accept my religion and explain in detail with my bible why your religion is wrong and that you’ll go to Hell if you don’t believe in my religion instead of yours,” I explained.

I took a step closer to him and he took a step back.

“How would you like that?” I asked.

“Have a nice day,” he said and then he ran down the front steps and out onto the street.

I haven’t seen him and any of the other witnesses since.