My girlfriend "E" was the first to declare what others had been observing for a while. "God sure is having a good laugh," she said. "You write a column called 'A Woman's Voice.' And yet you have no voice". The irony had crossed my mind.
I'm sorry I haven't eaten more hot dogs.
Saturday is Selichot, the time when the whole Jewish world sings with Connie Francis, "I'm sorry," and vows to do better next time. Many of us are focused on the wrongs we've done to others, or even to God.
I've been reconsidering what the 1973 schmaltz-filled classic, "The Way We Were," means to younger women.
One glorious sunny day, my girlfriend "C" and I share a seaside restaurant table with a married couple, call them Harry and Sylvia.
I'll be 54 this weekend. Not for me the modesty of hidden age. I'll take my years, gladly, as I'm given them.
I haven't had a speaking voice in more than a month. I whisper, a frog croaking through the bulrushes.
The ancient rabbis practiced a relatively simple form of medicine: cabbage for sustenance, beets for healing.
We must know each other, as accurately as possible. If you can't invite your local imam into your living room, then go down to your local mosque, yourself, and bring a group from your synagogue with you.
Steven Spielberg's new film, "Minority Report," is not exactly a deep take on the problems of "knowing," but since you'll probably see it anyway, here's where it brought me.
The film, based on a science fiction story by Philip K. Dick, argues that the future can indeed be known. Moreover, our security depends upon finding a Pinchas, a zealot who knows what crimes are being committed, and personally stops them. So anxious are we to hire this Pinchas, this future-knower, that we would sacrifice our freedoms for him.
It is 2054 in a dark, police-state Washington, D.C, all murder has been foretold by three mermaid-type creatures called precogs, so named because they have pre-cognition. The crimes are prerecorded in the future, then replayed in real time, at which point they are interrupted and prevented by a precrime squad headed by John Anderton (Tom Cruise), the very Pinchas we are seeking. Pretty neat.
I owe my life's work to Ann Landers. And, of course, her sister, Dear Abby. Dr. Rose Franzblau. And Dr. Joyce Brothers.
One day, my oncologist was in a talkative mood. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after 30 years in the lung cancer world, he knows that religion doesn't always help his patients.
"How are you doing?" he asked. "I mean, this has to be a big test of faith."
Now, 18 months after receiving a devastating diagnosis, my understanding of religion has been transformed.
A few months ago, I asked my father, now happily retired, what profession he would choose if he were starting over again.
"Oh, I'd do the same thing," Dad said. "I'd be a salesman."
"Yes. I'm good at it."
It's Father's Day, and I am so glad that Dad is around to read this: Dad, I had you wrong.
I check in periodically with David Tokofsky, who has represented the Eastside on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) since 1995, just to find out how long it takes to stop being considered an outsider.
For a Jewish boy on the Eastside, the answer is: more than two terms. Even now, despite winning two elections, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) has made him the target of redistricting, to insure that the next time out, someone with a Latino surname gets the job.
Generals, it is said, are always preparing to fight the last war, and so it also may be for American Jews.
Middle East terror and Palestinian suicide bombings have roused us to action. The torpor is receding. Except, we can't quite agree on which last war we expect to be fighting: World War II or Vietnam.
Gabriela Jacobo, known as Gabby, at age 17 is a rising radio star.
Even hypothetically, it's not so simple. How do I feel about life-sustaining technology? At what point, if ever, would food and water be a form of futile prolonging of life?
Mother's Day is not exactly a Jewish holiday, but it does provide an occasion to consider whether anything new can be noted in that old war-horse, the Jewish mother joke. Surprisingly, I do note several new wrinkles that help explain why even now this Borscht-belt holdover is not going away fast.
My parents visited a year ago while I recuperated from lung cancer surgery and they developed a division of labor.My father would do odd jobs around the house. My mother would feed me.
This was a good plan in theory, but in reality, it had loopholes. My father's tasks were well-defined: fix a fence, change a light bulb. But my mother struggled. What is it exactly her middle-aged daughter with upper-middle-class tastes liked to eat? The fact is that both of us had long since stopped cooking most of our meals, taking our nourishment from restaurants and take-out. Nevertheless, there persisted in her the belief that when a child is sick, only homemade foods will do. Familiar, nourishing, Jewish foods.
As Israeli-Palestinian violence makes daily life in the Jewish state a living (as opposed to a virtual) nightmare, American Jews are raising the ante on expressions of loyalty. A rabbi recently told me he wants every Jew to travel to Israel this year. A lay leader puts his name on the list for every mission, but breathes a sigh of relief when each is quickly cancelled.
Last week I worried in this space that our college students were ill-equipped to defend American Jewry's pro-Israel position. I asked for a volunteer to explain what's going on. Luckily, Donald Cohen-Cutler, a UC Davis freshman and an international relations major, stepped up to the plate.
I say "luckily" because events on campus are even worse than I had suspected. Of course, I remember the beginnings of the Jewish-Muslim rift on campus during the first intifada. But I don't remember blatant insults to Jewish ritual and history. That's what's happening now (see story, page 10).
The third annual daylong symposium sponsored by the Jewish Federation in Worcester, Mass., was titled, "A Woman's Voice," without the slightest hint of irony. Less than a generation ago, "a woman's voice" meant only one thing, the talmudic prohibition of Orthodox men toward hearing the sound of Jewish women in prayer.
Kol isha (a woman's voice) was used as the legal barrier against women becoming rabbis and cantors, the excuse for exclusion.
That's why I named this newspaper column A Woman's Voice, to break down a wall.
"Tell the truth, don't you think we need to create a wall between Israel and the Palestinians?"
"Be honest, don't you think the United States should send in peacekeeping troops?"
I'll tell the truth. I'm uncomfortable with American Jews, rising from spiritual slumber to suggest Israeli policy. Especially while their college-age children are in earshot. Especially when there is so much they could do besides yak.
There in my darkened doorway were two men in black mid-length coats with long, curly beards and black hats; a younger and an older man, with eyes burning so clear and bright that they seemed to be reading from an inner script. There was about their smiling countenances such a sense of purpose, that the word "messenger" sprang to mind. They knew and I knew. They had come for me.
Are the Ten Plagues merely a just reward perpetrated against the "axis of evil" by a God who is "on our side"?
I was the oldest child at the Passover table during two decades of social turmoil, and so invariably I was the one to whom questions were directed.
Say what you will about Richard Riordan's abortive primary strategy, and the way he naively stepped into Gov. Gray Davis' trap, but Riordan certainly understood one of his key customers: the Jewish electorate. Too bad we'll never see the Davis/Riordan face-off that would have told us so much about ourselves.
Samantha's bat mitzvah was seven years ago this weekend. Ki Tisa was her Torah portion. Since then, we've reminisced about the party and the service, but never the point of it all -- the sacred text.
The Purim beauty pageant of 1956 is long forgotten in the shtetl that was Queens Village, N.Y. But for me it is the stuff of personal destiny.
No one said redistricting is fun. But this once-a-decade political ritual does provide a mirror to how much leverage a community has, or lacks.
The hardest part about writing about brain radiation is writing the words "brain radiation." I assure you that I'm OK. It's my fingers that are typing these words on my computer. It's my thoughts that are deciding which of the Yip Harburg lyrics from the Scarecrow's song, "If I Only Had a Brain," I should use later in this piece.
When Rabbi Judith HaLevy of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue exchanged rings with Edward Toppel of Chicago last Sunday, hope, like the late afternoon winter sun, burned brightly. If remarriage, as the saying goes, is the triumph of optimism over experience, how much more so when the rabbi herself carries white calla lilies?
One of the most exciting experiments in Jewish transformation is taking place right here in Los Angeles.
"Welcome home, Marlene. It's about time you joined my family," my father said. He was greeting the news that well into the age of wisdom, I've finally begun eating sardines.
I wear a piece of red string around my right wrist, a talisman for healing.
Forster's Rules for Meeting a Fundraising Challenge are important to review now, as the institution that once symbolized a thriving American Jewish community struggles for breath.
Before the last Chanukah candle is lit, I'd like to say a word about miracles.
By rights, this should be a one-candle Chanukah.
Brave New World, here we come.
I say a prayer of thanksgiving first thing every morning.
Bad news on the cancer front. My CT scans, which had been 99 percent tumor-free for almost six months, show a few tiny lesions. A few tiny lesions in non-small-cell lung cancer is not a good thing. My oncologist nearly cried.
What I would give not to have to write about this. I hate lung cancer. I hate the tumors. I hate the failed miracle of the clinical trial with its snazzy new anti-cancer drug that had been working so well. It was wonderful taking those two tiny pills day after day. I felt like a bride renewing her vows every morning, wedded to another day of health. I pledged my loyalty to one treatment alone.
Two months after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, small acts take on a magnified historic context, and large acts are dwarfed by human peril. Freedom and courage seem exceedingly dear, and both are measurable in personal sacrifices and acts of public largesse.
And so it was impossible to take a spade of dirt from a garden-variety synagogue groundbreaking last Sunday and not think in grand, if not grandiose, terms about the role of our American Jewish community in dangerous times. Perhaps it always takes guts to act for the future -- to believe in a future -- acknowledging that a threat is always rising beyond the next hill.
Only three weeks ago it was possible to speak in optimistic terms about a united front against terrorism. History seemed to be blowing at our back, pushing the forces of civilization onward and upward to victory against the scourge of modern times. Writing in this space in early October, I quoted with admiration the prediction made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak; that the nations of the world would now join together against terrorism much as the nations of the post-Napoleonic period had defeated piracy. For a brief heady moment, it looked like we American Jews could sit back in the warm protection of our nation acting out of grief and righteous revenge.
It would be hard to exaggerate the significance of The Jewish Federation's Addiction Conference held Monday at the Skirball Cultural Center. But to compare, think back to the Shechinah Conference held 20 years ago at Hebrew Union College, which helped consolidate and shape Jewish feminism. In its willingness to creatively address perhaps the biggest social issue of our time, the Skirball program is that big a deal.
My favorite words of Torah are the very first: "In the beginning." They beg us to ask, what was there before the Creation that made God want to do more? And the answer provided in the text is especially fitting for our own warring time: tohu va'vohu, which Rabbi Samson Hirsch, the sensitive linguist, translates as: "confused and tangled, and darkness was over the turmoil," just as we are now.
That's what it means these days, to be a Jew in post-Sept. 11 America. We must live in two worlds at once, the personal and the communal: shepping nachas over the achievements of our children and our parents, and joining with our nation in collective grief.
NOW THAT THE HIGH HOLY days are over, we can begin to appreciate how the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington may alter American Jewish life.
Ecclesiastes was right: Even in a world clouded by international terrorism, there's nothing new under the sun.
In past Yom Kippurs I've been known to bring a stack of books with me to synagogue, works both historic and intellectual, to focus on when neither prayer nor imagination can fill the time. Not this year.
A day before I left for a vacation cruise to Alaska, I looked in the mirror and spied, atop my clean, bald head -- Hair! There wasn't much of it, standing less than one-sixteenth of an inch tall. But when I ran my hand over my crown, I felt the delicious tickle of stubble.
"It's back!" I cried to my friend Susan, who was lending me a gown for the cruise's formal night. We jumped up and down the way we did in high school when the latest "he" called. I've been a cue ball since Day 12 of my first round of chemo. All my hair is gone, including eyebrows and lashes. The only really bad part, aside from looking like a Conehead, is the way drafts of cold air make my forehead feel glacial. In Alaska, I spent time looking for bald eagles, seeking to join their minyan.
There's nothing like completing chemotherapy to spice up a birthday party. Last weekend, 40 of my dearest friends performed a commemorative Havdalah ceremony to mark a really great CT scan and year 53. My "re-birthday" celebration was just the ticket, restorative not only for me but also for the extended community that has seen me through my struggle with lung cancer.
It's seven months since my lung cancer diagnosis. Am I a survivor yet?
Were you queasy last week, when U.S. senators quoted the Bible in their effort to stop potentially life-saving stem cell research?
No matter how well things go in chemotherapy, the truth is, cancer always makes new demands on you. You can't afford to be a k'nocker, pretending you know what you're doing or what you're ready for. It's not as if you are in charge.
Does Stanley Mosk's California Supreme Court seat naturally go to a Jew? In the political jockeying left by the death at 88 of California's longest-serving justice, the debate begins again: Is there a special "Jewish seat" that deserves to be enshrined on the high court?
In filling the seat Mosk occupied for 37 years, here are some names being mentioned: former L.A. City Attorney Burt Pines and former Rep. Lynn Schenk, both close aides to Gov. Gray Davis; Arthur Gilbert, presiding justice of the Court of Appeal in Ventura (and a jazz pianist); Appellate Justice Norman Epstein and U.S. District Judge Nora Manella. Personally I'm for Pines (though I hear he eschews it). The Manella name has a certain poetic impact; her father's firm, Irell & Manella, was among the early "Jewish firms" in Los Angeles, responding to discrimination against Jews among old-line law offices.
How dare I have fun during chemotherapy? It's not that I look forward to seven hours of treatment. But with four of six rounds behind me, I no longer feel I'm heading into an abyss.
A week after the L.A. mayoral election, believe me, I too would rather be discussing the Lakers vs. the 76ers than the meaning of the Jewish vote.
Who's the big winner in Tuesday's Los Angeles mayoral election? My bet is real estate developer Steve Soboroff. James Kenneth Hahn may be an old-line Democrat, but he benefited mightily from the silence maintained by the wealthy Republican businessman, who had come in third in the April primary.
Those of us with a sense of Los Angeles history approach the June 5 election with trepidation. No one wants a repeat of the first Sam Yorty/Tom Bradley race in 1969, with its bitter overlay of race-baiting. That's one reason why throughout most of the campaign the candidates have wisely lowered their rhetoric, stressing their similarities rather than differences. As Los Angelenos consider picking the first Latino mayor in the modern era, Tuesday's election, pitting former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa against City Attorney James Hahn, already has, if anything, too much historic significance.
In my house last Sunday evening Tony Soprano easily defeated Anne Frank as "must-see TV." Yes, even in the home of committed Jews, the rancid affairs of a New Jersey Mafia family beat out the young girl of the Holocaust. The question is, why?
With the mayoral election less than three weeks away, the Jewish vote is ready for its closeup.
Now that I have lung cancer, I have finally achieved the unisexual parity that the woman's movement longed for. Sitting with our IVs and portacaths, all patients are one. There is not much difference between men and women, young and old, lung and breast and prostate. There is only sick and well.
A month after Passover, the winds have not yet died down from the "Wolpe Hurricane."
Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Westwood caused a stir when he asserted, in earshot of a Los Angeles Times reporter, that the Exodus story can still inspire us even if, as some archaeologists assert, the story of the liberation from Egypt is not true. Rabbi Wolpe's remarks ended up on the Times' front page during Passover and became grist for sermons and Torah study all over town.
I thought I saw Arthur Goldberg the other night at USC. The late Supreme Court justice died in 1990, but his ghost surely hung over the Trojan campus Wednesday during Sen. Joseph Lieberman's speech at the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life.
Jim Wayne has cut my hair for more than 20 years. He created first the wedge look and now the clipped curly style of my professional photos.
Tuesday's election results assert that the Jewish "customer" still counts, now more than ever, in the even playing field that is L.A. politics.
My fireplace mantle is stuffed &'9;with get-well cards. They come from people I know and many I've never met. One of them might have come from you. In the two months since I started writing about my lung cancer, the cards have been flowing in, plus an equal number or more of e-mails. They touch me deeply.
Only eight years ago, when Richard Riordan and Mike Woo faced off in the mayoral election, Los Angeles was not like this.
What right had I to hope? Cancer is an expensive disease, draining huge chunks of time and money, not to mention enthusiasm. To hire the artist Susan Krieg for my doorway project, I had to dig into capital that would have scared me even during my most productive years.
Does it matter to you what ethnicity the next L.A. mayor will represent? In the upcoming April primary, there are two Jewish candidates, long-time city councilmember Joel Wachs and real estate broker Steve Soboroff.
My brother and I are sitting on the kitchen floor cutting pipe. Actually, he's cutting and I'm criticizing. This combines two venerable family traditions.
One of the most engrossing reality-based television shows is the thrice-weekly KLCS public broadcasting program, "Conversation with Roy Romer." Unlike "Survivor" and "Temptation Island," where contestants wearing cruise and safari garb compete against each other and the weather, "Conversation" features little more than a white-haired man in a black suit talking to off-camera live callers wearing who knows what. Nevertheless, the sharks are out. Romer is superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and what is at stake on the show is the education of some 700,000 Los Angeles children.
I am determined to learn nothing from my cancer. Last month, I had lung surgery known as a thoracotomy. A cancerous tumor in my lower left lobe is gone. I'll have chemotherapy, and pretty soon I'll be bald. That's all I care to know about this completely hideous, unprovoked and unpredictable disease until the CT scan says that the cancer on my chest wall is under control.
The first strains of George W. Bush's inaugural address, penned by his 36-year-old speechwriter Michael Gerson, put me in mind, oddly enough, of the American Jewish community and the story we are also writing, but whose end we will not see. Judaism, like America, is the story of a new world that liberated the old, though we were a slave society, not a slave-holding society, one that remains a servant of freedom.
Nostalgia for Bill Clinton? Don't say I didn't warn you. Even as George W. Bush takes office, the Jewish community is weeping sentimental tears for the almost lethally charismatic president who, in the words of The Forward, "had come to embody the hopes of Jewish liberals in America and Israel during the 1990s." Clinton, who is no stranger to schmaltz, had policy wonks and foreign affairs careerists alike publicly weeping when he chose the Israel Policy Institute as the site of his last address last week, hinting that yet one more attempt at an Arab-Israeli solution was still in the works.
Pauline Bebe, France's first and only female rabbi, was in town last week, soaking up not only the winter California warmth but our spiritual rays, too.
We were too late for the early bird special at the Swiss Chalet restaurant in Delray Beach, Fla., but there was a line anyway for the roast chicken that is widely acclaimed as being almost as good as my mother's.
Maybe it's a new kind of learning disability, Adverse Gift Disorder.
As the years went by, without quite realizing it, I'd been stylistically left behind. My poor brass menorah was outclassed by the exquisite handmade silver set made in Hungary, or even the Agam knockoff (himself inspired by the commentator Rambam) with the diagonal arms now available at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond.
The October Violence is the short-hand designation for the deadly sniping, shooting and police action between Palestinians and Israelis, including the unprecedented call-to-arms of Israeli Arabs. If American Jews accept "October Violence" as the title (Palestinians call it "the riots," while the American press reprises the frightening "intifada"), two months later we haven't yet found a way to talk about it, even among ourselves.
Eventually, I promise you, the 2000 presidential election will end and the 2001 Los Angeles mayoral race will begin.
Yet fish gotta swim, Jewish children gotta fly. The comings and goings of the flock is an expected, if personally wrenching, experience.
For a few strained hours last week, I was afraid we'd be witnessing the Jewish version of Elian Gonzalez, Part II. Could Jewish blood pressure withstand the tension of the Palm Beach vote taken hostage?
I'm writing this on Recount Wednesday, following Cliff-hanging Tuesday. The national and local scenes are running through my mind, a nightmare set on permanent rewind.
Is there a "Jewish stake" in the district attorney race between two-term incumbent Gil Garcetti and head Deputy District Attorney Steve Cooley? Maybe it comes to this: How far out of step is this community going to be?
Finally good news has come for Al Gore.
The Arab American Political Action Committee this month endorsed George W. Bush. Last week, 20 other Michigan-based Arab organizations followed suit, including the Arab-American and Chaldean Leadership Council.
"What I remember about '67," he said, "is that we got a phone call to come to a rally and then we were all there."
Leo Cohen wanted to see my PalmPilot.
"How do you put in the data?" he asked.
We were just completing our pre-fast family dinner, and I'd taken out my snazzy, whiz-bang electronic calendar to demonstrate it to Leo's son-in-law, Sam, an astronomer who gets his data from the sky, not from bytes in his Palm.
But if Sam was blasé, Leo was emphatic.
I've been going nuts this week preparing for Yom Kippur.
The imprint of the Baby Boomers, those middle-aged men and women who today dominate our community as rabbis, synagogue leaders and congregation members, is felt more emphatically every year.
My parents were Elderhostel students this week at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and I shared Friday night services with them in the Conservative tradition of my youth.
My parents were Elderhostel students this week at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and I shared Friday night services with them in the Conservative tradition of my youth.
Our children may know who they are, and certainly who they're not. But they may not know who we are, all of us.
I can't remember a word spoken by Ira Goldstein, the Plainview (NY) High School valedictorian, Class of 1965, but I'm sure his graduation address was brilliant. Ira, who apparently was in the Philosophy Club with me for three now-forgotten years, was the most brilliant boy in a class of brilliant boys. Girls were "smart" or "sweet" in those days; boys were "brilliant."
"The difficult he does quickly; the impossible takes a little
So now a woman blowing a shofar in Israel could be committing a crime. So a woman reading aloud from a Torah scroll could be sentenced to seven years in jail. For an ancient tradition, Judaism is moving exceedingly fast, and in a crazy direction.
Rivka Haut, one of the original members of Women of the Wall, told her young grandchildren, ages 4 and 7, last Friday night in New York, there will be bat mitzvah at the wall, maybe by the time they come of age. "It will happen," she told me. "It's a momentous event of their lifetime."
Much has changed at Mount Sinai since the last time we visited my husband's grave.
Dear Mom, I write to you again this Mother's Day. But this time, a little wiser and more grateful for you; more grateful because now I have two children of my own.
Vindication has lit a fire under Deborah Lipstadt.
This Passover, more than any other Passover, I wish I had four children.
We think we know what a Jew looks like (Jews-by-choice are putting that to the test), how a Jew eats (Sephardim are expanding that notion) and certainly where a Jew lives.
Until Buford O. Furrow, Jr. opened fire on the North Valley Jewish Community Center (NVJCC) in Granada Hills last August, the fight for sensible gun laws was something most of us left to our elected representatives.
Here we are, weeks away from the first night of Passover, and I am already suffering PMS, Pre-Matzah Syndrome. Cranky, sullen, bloated, sweaty and dull. What gives?
The Passover seder is a spectacle made for children. The lamb bone, parsley and egg, the wine spilled on the paper plate, all vividly dramatize the story of the Exodus to freedom in such straightforward ways that even the Simple Child Who Doesn't Know How to Ask can glean an important lesson.
Here's news you can use for Jewish Women's History Month: "Marjorie Morningstar" lives!
It's no secret that Jewish voters are turned off to Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Now we know how turned off they are.
When it comes to the Jewish vote in next Tuesday's 13-state primary, George W. Bush is a dead man.
As I made the rounds of endless cocktail parties and debates two weeks before March 7 primary day, I could see that the Jewish community has little reason to cheer term limits, just as it will not likely salute restrictions on campaign contributions, if that should ever come to pass. The Jewish community has spent much of the past 30 years learning the effective use of government for the wider public good. The race between Assembly members Wally Knox and Sheila Kuehl to replace State Senator Tom Hayden is another case of chopping our institutional wisdom at its root. Newly-installed Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, already regarded as one of the most effective and professional legislators of his generation, will be term-limited out of office at the next election term.
"The Holocaust has been used as a word without much content," she said. "When German writers use the word 'Holocaust' they don't have to think about children and women. We have yet to come to terms with mourning, the sorrow, the pain of them having destroyed a culture and a tradition."
"Are you really so optimistic about the Jewish future?" my friend, the rabbi, asked me. Yes I am, but more importantly, finally I am not alone.
The warm-up room at the "Y" where I exercise is right next door to the children's playroom. While I perform a sun salutation, I hear a little girl calling out in a tiny excited voice.
"Can I have one? I want one!"
For a time, I loved Harold Robbins, just as I loved the novels by Jacqueline Susann. When I was 13, and then 14 and 15, I read their low-brow books as a Real Life 101.
The big success stories on the Jewish circuit, once the Israeli army generals and pioneers lost their star-quality, have traditionally been those by speakers who could draw on personal experience to evoke national tragedy.
Sunday's memorial for former Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, who died last month at 63 from complications of breast cancer, was more than a final tragic good-bye to (in the words of Rabbi Leonard Beerman) a "woman of valor," the first woman to serve on the California high court.
We lit the candles Friday night in honor of the new millennium.
I know it should not have been done that way. Observant Jews insisted right up until the Waterford ball dropped in Times Square that the millennium had nothing to do with them, that on Friday night it was Shabbat, not 2,000 years after Jesus that they were celebrating.
Edward James Olmos wants to connect. Give him a large multi-ethnic crowd -- as was on hand Sunday at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles -- and he'll split himself into pieces finding common links.
I have seen the Jewish future and, to my surprise, it still belongs to the Baby Boomers. By now I'd guess that Boomers would happily cede attention and civic responsibility to Gen Xers and Gen J but nothing doing. One in three Jews today are between ages 35-53, and the needs and demands of this group will dominate Jewish life well into the coming decades.
Chanukah begins this evening, and not a moment too soon.
When my daughter was young and the sun rose and set on her every lesson with alphabet and equation, I bemoaned any gap between Christmas and the Festival of Lights. The closer, the better, if you ask me. How better to illustrate the primal lesson of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the pleasure and challenge of a Jew living simultaneously in two civilizations.
I was intrigued by the overture. Life is messy. The past is a hedge around the soul. What we do with our memories and experiences shapes us like Edward Scissorhands' topiary.
The loss of goodwill between ethnic groups based on this one lapse is incalculable.
Afraid to speak for any one faction, our leaders spoke for none, while the public schools declined.
Last week I spoke to a large crowd of parents at a "Jewish Day School Expo" at Milken Community High School. Most of the parents didn't know what schools were available or where they were located. But they were eager indeed.