My 93-year-old father emerged as a different person when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago. He became independent, assertive, interested and engaging. When my mother died in October, he even became a bit spiritual. He’s certainly not the exhausted father with whom I grew up, who often didn’t know what to say to me. As a teenager and young adult, I never thought we would have much of a relationship. But now, as I approach 60 and he nears 94, the engagement between us has blossomed, as it has with my brother and all our children. The relationship he now has with my wife has become his most significant. She handles his money.
There is a tiny two-block alleyway in West Los Angeles that runs on a diagonal from South Barrington Avenue east to Pico Boulevard. The backs of small industrial buildings border one side. On the other, a chain link fence shields a packinghouse or shipping service. To look at it, you would never call it the street of dreams or the isle of atmospheric romantic intrigue. You certainly would never envision it as the pulsating focus of a once-young, vibrant new generation of American Jews animated by the lightning victory of Israeli soldiers during the Six-Day War.
What did Gary Wexler, do? He took out a full-page ad in the local trade publication, Adweek, put a picture of himself in the middle of the ad, and did something rarely seen in the business.
He spoke the naked truth.
The boldfaced headline read: "Gary Wexler Is Miserable." The rest of the ad explained why.
Letters to the Editor
On the way to Los Angeles International Airport this afternoon, I thought I was about to be murdered.
Letters to the Editor.
Gary Wexler levels the charges that Americans for Peace Now (APN), along with other organizations associated with American Jewish liberals, are obsolete. He writes that
we are ignoring the "real" threats facing Israel such as those emanating from Syria and Iran, that we are out of touch with the mainstream for questioning the efficacy of Israel's current military actions in Lebanon and Gaza, that we are wrong to believe a peace partner exists on the other side and that our "knee-jerk" reactions and inability to recognize and react to the redefining of American Jewish support for Israel will prove to be our ultimate downfall.
It's time we stop kidding ourselves that Israel has survived well through the last three years. The country is unraveling at the seams.
When people query me as to who our clients are, if the person is Jewish, I often answer, "Half our clients are Jewish organizations. And the other half are people who treat us really nicely."
So what does it take to get a charity started in Los Angeles? How can a project be incubated just enough to get people excited so that they will one day open their checkbooks and start signing?
Now I understood why Reuven was able to bring me into the neighborhood, into his home, into his shul, invite people to meet me, and then into his yeshiva. No one would question the actions of an ilui. I further understood his ability to teach me, to move so adroitly into the issues of my world and professional endeavors while we were in London.
My relationship with Reuven has continued to grow through further visits, meals with my wife and his wife, and through study. He has brought me as his study partner into all the great yeshivas of Jerusalem. He wants me to see them all.