Monthly Archives: December 2015

WHY NOT ASK US ALL TO DO THIS?–By Richard Rosen

Following Ayala Emmett’s “Emailing With the President,” Richard Rosen proposes, WHY NOT ASK US ALL TO DO THIS? AFTER ALL, WE ALL RECEIVED THE SAME LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT, AND HIS XMAS CARD AND ETC. Send your e-mail to President@whitehouse.gov All you have to do is what Richard has done, inserted his own name in the first line of the e-mail. Richard invites you to insert your name in the copied text and send it to the president. If you are on facebook please share as well.

I am delighted to get emails from the president that say, “I need you Richard” I know that emails from the president are mass-produced, yet they have a personal appeal for me because they use my first name. Yesterday, I got an email from President Obama asking me to join him, “before the ball drops and we close the books on 2015, will you join me and pitch in to help Democrats retake the Senate.” Since I like the spirit of being asked to join the president I respond to his appeal with a reciprocal email request:
Dear President Obama,

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No-One Is Shooting At Us–By Sandra Piccolo

Eight Tips to a Better Perspective

I had a brief, yet substantial conversation with my cousin’s spouse, Dawn. Both Dawn and Mike retired from the military after a 30-year career as high-ranking officials in intelligence. Mike now works as a Program Manager for a government agency, and because of his experience in the military, he looks at things with a different perspective. This article is a result of my conversation with Dawn.

“How is everything going with work?” Dawn asked.

“Pretty good,” I said. “There are some frustrating points, but, I love my family, and that is my focus, especially when things get crazy Monday-Friday.”

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Emailing With the President—by Ayala Emmett

I am delighted to get emails from the president that say, “I need you Ayala.” I know that emails from the president are mass-produced, yet they have a personal appeal for me because they use my first name. Yesterday, I got an email from President Obama asking me to join him, “before the ball drops and we close the books on 2015, will you join me and pitch in to help Democrats retake the Senate.” Since I like the spirit of being asked to join the president I respond to his appeal with a reciprocal email request:

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Trumpism—by Peter Eisenstadt

I hate to say it, but Donald Trump has probably earned his “ism.” Of course, this is not to defend the message, but to merely acknowledge its potency, But like Joseph McCarthy, Juan Peron, Joseph Stalin, or (less benightedly, Mahatma Gandhi or Charles Darwin) Donald Trump has come to embody a mood, a movement, or a political stance. Although Time magazine chose Angela Merkel, a sort of anti-Trump, as the person of the year, there’s no doubt that the most important person of the year, certainly in the United States, has been Donald Trump, as depressing as that thought is.

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What Happened To The Children’s Christmas Gifts?

Unaccompanied minors from Central America
Unaccompanied minors from Central America

President Obama celebrated Christmas in beautiful Hawaii, while his administration told children there would be no presents for them, and no Christmas cards saying peace and joy. When the knock would come on their door it would not be UPS with lovely presents; it would be government agents to send them back to places of terror.

These children and mothers, asylum seekers from Central America are fleeing unspeakable violence, and have risked their lives to come here, because remaining in their countries of origin is a death sentence. Yet the Obama administration decided that the week before Christmas would be an auspicious time to announce that it would intensify deportation of the mothers and children. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders rightly denounced the administration’s act as outrageous, “We need to take steps to protect children and families seeking refuge here, not cast them out. Our nation has always been a beacon of hope, a refuge for the oppressed.”

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Interfaith Festivals Light Hope in Haifa —By Ayala Emmett

Haifa Lights the city with a Menorah a Crescent, & a Christmas Tree December 2015. Photography by Jimmy
Haifa Lights the city
with a Menorah
a Crescent, &
a Christmas Tree
December 2015.
Photography by Jimmy

What should we do in the midst of fear and turmoil? How should we respond to extremists who try to divide us, who pounce on fear to promote hatred, racism, and xenophobia? The city of Haifa in Israel responded by celebrating an interfaith religious festival of light, refusing to be drawn into the horrific wave of racism, Islamophobia and violence.

I received an email today from Sharona noting that Haifa’s Jewish and Arab citizens draw hope from the city’s determination to publicly display religious pluralism. She attached these photographs of Haifa and wrote, “Haifa is adorned with lights. I went past these festive decorations on my way to my mother’s house. Just to see the city presenting itself as one is heart-warming. Haifa is special and unique in insisting of being a city of pluralism where all have a place that celebrates all faith festivals. You can tell that the message is getting through when you see the many locals and tourists taking pictures of the lights that include Jewish, Muslims, Christians and Bahia faith tradition. During the month of December this blend of interfaith of lights is called in Haifa the Festival of Festivals. Our friend Jimmy took the photos that I include here. Earlier today I called Jimmy’s mother, who lives in Nazareth to wish her Merry Christmas and she was happy to hear from me.”

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The Force—by Peter Eisenstadt

Perhaps you’ve heard? A new Star Wars film opened this week “The Force Awakens.” I can’t say I’m that much of a Star Wars aficionado, but I enjoyed the first three films, before the genre of science fiction-action-adventure films Star Wars wrought became so routinized as to become unwatchable. The new film has received very respectable reviews, and I suspect sometime in the next few weeks I will go see it.

What I liked about the Star Wars films was mystical conceit known as “The Force.” And what I liked most about “the force” is that is reminded me of the philosophy of Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. Perhaps the most basic and familiar concept of Gandhi is that of satyagraha, a Sanskrit term that he liked to translate as “soul force.” Another term for it might be “the force.” Gandhi loved to speak of satyagraha, systematic campaigns of nonviolence, and ahimsa, a Jainist term meaning the respect for all life as forces.

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We The People: An Interfaith Hanukkah Celebration—by Ayala Emmett

Eighth Night of Hanukkah at TBK photo by Eli Landesberg
Eighth Night of
Hanukkah at TBK
photo by Eli Landesberg

To celebrate the eighth night of Hanukkah, Temple B’rith Kodesh issued an invitation to “light the candles with interfaith and community guests.” On Sunday, we gather in the attractive Atrium with its large collection of Menorahs from all over the world, representing centuries of artistic/artisan creativity. The collection infuses the space with intimate history and a presence of ancestors that encircle/embrace the local Hanukkah event. Ready to light the candles, Rabbis Peter Stein and Kelly Levy are joined by Bill Moehle, the Brighton Town Supervisor and we the people of different faith communities chant the traditional Hanukkah blessings.

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High Hopes –by Peter Eisenstadt

Do you remember the Kellogg-Briand Treaty? It was big news in 1928. A big pact signed in Paris, 62 nations came together, promising to outlaw war as a tactic of national policy. The signatories all pledged not to use war to resolve “disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which might arise among them.” A great idea, and a very popular one, worldwide, in the wake of World War I. Americans loved the idea as well—the Kellogg of the pact was Frank K. Kellogg, the US Secretary of State. The treaty passed the US Senate 85–1. Peace, it’s wonderful.

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The House I Live In—by Peter Eisenstadt

This Saturday, December 12th, will mark the centenary of the birth of Frank Sinatra. That he was one of the greatest of America’s popular singers—many would say the greatest–is beyond question.   The security and the richness of his vibrant baritone, the impeccable diction, his sensitivity and his swagger, his ability to both soar and swing, his unmistakable intelligence as a singer both in his selection of material and phrasing, all mark him as unique.

To properly listen to Frank Sinatra you must extricate the artist from his myths, and must forget about his rat pack chums, the women, the mob, his explosive temper, his boozing, his tough guy affectations, and all the other aspects of his personal life that intruded on the musician. In some ways he is not unlike the other great popular singer born in 1915—my choice, if anyone cares, for the greatest popular singer of the century—Billie Holiday, another singer whose myth sometimes obscures the art. But if Holiday is the myth of the damned artist, self-destructive, hooking up with a series of terrible men, hooked on drugs, whose life’s downward trajectory ended while she was in custody for heroin possession, Sinatra’s myth is the opposite, no scandal, no setback ever got in the way of his relentless ambition to become, in the words of perhaps his most famous song, “king of the hill/top of the heap.” The contrasting myths no doubt reflect what it meant, on the one hand, to be black and female, and on the other, white and male.

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