For a number of years, this was the Chicago Jewish News Online. Content is from the site's 2006 archived pages providing just a sample of what this site offered its readership.
Begging for forgiveness: Pop culture is awash in superficial apologies these days: The road from glib contrition to true repentance
By Steve Lipman
A man who likes extinct languages, Mel Gibson had a chance to practice his Latin this summer - he made several mea culpas.
Following his drunken, sexist, profane, anti-Semitic tirade in Malibu in July, the actor-director apologized to the police officers who arrested him. He apologized in a general public statement for saying "despicable" things. He apologized "specifically to everyone in the Jewish community," to "those who have been hurt and offended by those words."
Gibson is now in treatment for alcoholism, and spin control experts aren't sure if his apologies can save his Oscar-winning career.
Is Gibson, who was accused of harboring anti-Semitic feelings when he directed the controversial 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ," forgiven?
The Jewry is still out.
Sorry, Ali McGraw: Yes, love does mean apologizing
By Rabbi Irwin Kula
"Love means never having to say you're sorry" are the words spoken by Ali McGraw in that classic '70s movie, "Love Story." This line captures a yearning so many of us have, even if we don't want to admit it. We long for someone who understands us and accepts us so fully- despite all our faults and mistakes- that apologizing seems beside the point. The ultimate relationship, we can't help but think, is one in which forgiveness is easy, free-flowing and immediate; where it requires little or no effort from either party, even when the hurt may be deep.
By Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin
"I am sorry. Forgive me." These may be some of the hardest words to say. How often do we say instead, "I am not responsible." "They started it." "It is not my fault!" We renounce responsibility and, therefore, ownership of the deed. Sometimes we simply deny that it was ever done. The problem is as old as humankind.
By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood
Iran is the biggest threat facing Israel and the most crucial task before the leaders of both the United States and the Jewish state is to decisively and speedily cut off its nuclear capabilities. That was the unambiguous message delivered by a high-ranking Israeli military figure who visited the United States, including a stop in Chicago, earlier this month.
By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood
As two Jewish aldermen became the only Chicago City Council members to express second thoughts on the city's anti-foie gras ordinance passed earlier this year, several prominent local rabbis have urged them to reconsider, saying that repealing the ban would be against G-d's laws.
By Gary Tobin
Ronald Stanton's $100 million gift to Yeshiva University is the largest ever to a U.S. Jewish institution. Yet as Stanton himself said, "There are plenty of people who could do it." Our research shows he's right: Dozens of Jewish philanthropists are capable of equaling Stanton's gift. So why don't they?.
By David A. Harris
The High Holiday season is a unique time in our tradition, an annual ritual when the period we spend in synagogue, and with our families at home, allows for deep reflection on our Jewish identity, as well as a reaffirmation of its distinctiveness. During this time I reflect on why I celebrate my Jewishness every day by working to defend the Jewish people. So allow me to share what being Jewish means to me, with a hope that others will go through a similar process in the days ahead.
By Michael Feldberg
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, Herbert Eskin of Detroit wanted nothing more than to serve his nation as a Jewish military chaplain. However, the Committee for Army and Navy Religious Affairs of the Jewish Welfare Board, the body that endorsed Jewish clergy for the military, thought Eskin lacked the right stuff. He was a Russian immigrant, spoke with a bit of an accent, lacked a college degree, had no permanent congregation and, above all, was Orthodox.
CHICAGO by the BOOK: Four new books by Chicago authors look at Chicago's history, Jewish cooking, Old shuls, Jewish summer camps
By Pauline Dubkin Yearwood
The "buy local" movement is usually applied to food these days, but it could just as well pertain to books. Four Chicago-area Jewish authors have new books out, and all of them have some relevance to the Chicago area and/or its Jewish community. So think globally, read locally. Here's a look at our four potential Chicago Jewish best-sellers.
Irving Cutler first wrote "Chicago: Metropolis of the Mid-Continent" (Southern Illinois University Press) in 1972. It was a comprehensive, readable summary, filled with pictures and graphics, of the growth of our city from a mudhole on the prairie to the vibrant, important metropolis it is today-or was then.
Cutler, a lifelong Chicagoan, professor emeritus of geography at Chicago State University, historian and leader of historic tours in the city, quickly found an audience for the book. The Geographic Society of Chicago distributed it to its 1,000- plus members to commemorate the organization's 75th anniversary, and the volume also enjoyed brisk bookstore sales. When Cutler revised it in 1976, and again in 1982, numerous high schools picked it up for use as a textbook as well.
By that time Cutler was deeply immersed in a new enterprise: writing books about Chicago Jewish history, including the authoritative, now- classic "The Jews of Chicago: From Shtetl to Suburb." While doing so, "I kind of neglected" the Chicago book, Cutler said recently. "I started getting complaints, especially from the schools, that the book was getting out of date, and people were asking me when I was going to do a new edition."
For instance, in 1982 10 percent of the population of Chicago was Hispanic; by 2000 it was 26 percent. And the number of flagship department stores on State Street had declined from six to three.
Cutler waited until the 2000 census results were published in 2002, then began work on a new edition, which just came out. "I thought it would be fairly simple to revise, but it was so out of date I basically rewrote the book," he says. He added 140 pages, 100 new maps and photographs, and a new chapter on culture, recreation and education.
Among the changes he found since 1982 was a great shift in population, with not only more Hispanics but an influx of people from Asia. And as anyone who drives on Chicago streets knows, "there is a tremendous amount of building going on, especially in the core but also spreading out from the core," he says. New buildings, including upscale condos and luxury homes, dot the Chicago map to the north, west and south, and the building boom keeps spreading. "You go to the old skid row on Madison Street and there are all these new condos," Cutler says.
Like others, he is concerned that as neighborhoods gentrify, the poor are being squeezed out and pushed into outlying neighborhoods and suburbs, sometimes creating conflict with other residents. Former inhabitants of the Robert Taylor and Cabrini-Greene housing projects, for instance, are now given rent vouchers under a new program and dispersed throughout the city. "But many end up in some of the southern suburbs that are largely African American, like Ford Heights and Dolton, and the people complain, they don't want all the poor people moving in even though they are also African American," Cutler says. It's one side effect of the rampant gentrification that the book chronicles.
The Jewish population, too, has migrated, and Cutler devotes considerable space in the book to its history and the changes that have come about. The movement has been primarily to the north and the northwest suburbs, he says: "In 1950 it was estimated that only about five percent of Jews lived in the suburbs, the rest in the city. Today it's not quite reversed, but probably about 75 percent are in the suburbs, 25 percent in the city," largely in West Rogers Park, along Lake Shore Drive and the Gold Coast and in Hyde Park.
While the Jewish population is growing only slightly in the southern and western suburbs, Cutler says, the movement of Jews to the north and northwest-begun when Julius Rosenwald led a movement of a few "token Jews" to homes in Highland Park and Glencoe- continues. Not only Northbrook, Buffalo Grove (with 10 synagogues) and Deerfield are teeming with Jews, but, Cutler says, Oak Park, River Forest and particularly Naperville are also popular destinations for Jewish families.
Most recently, he says, the Jewish migration continues to push into outlying areas-Vernon Hills, Gurnee, Libertyville, Crystal Lake, Woodstock and into McHenry County all the way to the Wisconsin line.
"Movement out seems to be the trend," he says. The downside: "When the Jewish community becomes dispersed, there is no longer a Maxwell Street, a Roosevelt Road. Devon has declined." The upside: "When you get enough Jews in an area, one of the first things they do is organize a synagogue," he says. "That's a plus even though they're continually being dispersed."
In her new book "Jewish Cooking for All Seasons: Fresh, Flavorful Kosher Recipes for Holidays and Every Day" (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), Chicago chef Laura Frankel continues the mission she began at Shallots and now Shallots Bistro, the Skokie restaurant she owns: updating the kosher palate and the kosher plate.
"What I'm trying to get across is that there is a need to modernize kosher foods," Frankel said in a recent interview. "There is a huge trend out there to do seasonal food, organic food. It is a whole movement-whole foods" (the generic term, not the supermarket chain).
"Now I'm going to add the word 'kosher' to it," Frankel says. "It's a trend that's not going away. Most of the new foods that are put into the market tend to be organic, and many of them also have a hechsher (kashrut certification). But the kosher community sometimes doesn't quickly embrace new food trends because they're so busy eating what they've always eaten."
The second idea that animates the book- which includes recipes like Pomegranate-Glazed Chicken and Baked Apples with Dates and Apricots-is the notion, very hot in the foodie world right now, of eating seasonal foods.
"A lot of customers say, can I have strawberries in January?" Frankel relates. "I say, you can but they don't taste good. There is something about the smell of basil in summer that really inspires appetite, but in January I don't even want that smell."
Another of her goals is to "get away from this fake food thing-margarine, non-dairy whipped topping, creamers. Get rid of that. If it's pure, eat it. When you're making a fleishig (meat) meal and need a parve dessert, don't whip out the margarine but look at what is available seasonally-apples, pears, melons, whatever. Come up with something that is pure, either simple or complicated but that doesn't have all this stuff in it. Make food taste like it is supposed to."
Too many people, Jews included, settle for "some margarine stuff followed by a diet Coke," Frankel laments.
With this mission in mind, she set out to make "Jewish Cooking for All Seasons" different from other kosher cookbooks, she says. Some of her premises on Jewish food, she admits, may be controversial. "I racked my head against the wall on this, but the idea is to get rid of the idea of Judaism as a culture, separate the idea of Judaism as a religion from Judaism as a culture."
Following that thought, she believes Jews need to rid themselves of "this Ashkenaz thing," when it comes to food, at least. "Not every Shabbat meal has to be brisket and matzah ball soup," she says. "It might be fresh chanterelle mushrooms with polenta. Some stuffed peppers with spicy sauce, that's Sephardi. Shake off this Ashkenaz thing. We all live in this Ashkenaz culture but we're not all that way. There is no such thing as Jewish food. Jewish food in Mexico, in India, in Hong Kong is different. Jewish food is where we are at that moment and what time of year it is."
Frankel-whose three boys, ages 19, 16 and 12, all like to cook-believes there is hope for kosher consumers, even in Chicago, which has far fewer kosher restaurants than New York. And about those New York restaurants? "In Manhattan you can go someplace different (and kosher) every night for a couple of weeks. The kosher restaurants try to mimic what they see out there. Their customers are reading The New York Times. If the trend in food is creme brulee. they try and keep up with the trend, they make parve creme brulee, but it's not good. They need to look at the ingredients they have on hand and make it more natural than it is."
She tries to educate customers to these ideas at Shallots, Frankel says- to the notion, for instance, that "this heirloom tomato grown in Illinois tastes unbelievably better than one grown in Florida. It's important to try to get back to the source. At the farmers' market I can actually look at the farmer who grew this stuff. He didn't put pesticides on the food. He's putting his best product out there versus something that comes in a box with a label on it that was sent on a truck."
What does all this mean for kosher cooking at home? A lot, Frankel believes. Her advice: "Stop messing with the fake stuff. Food that was born in a chem lab needs to stay there."
As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Olin-Sang- Ruby Union Institute, the Reform movement camp in Oconomowoc, Wis., four years ago, the anniversary committee decided to publish a history of the camp, the first Reform movement camp in the United States.
Michael Lorge, a Chicago attorney, Jewish community activist, historian, co-founder of the Chicago Jewish Folk Arts Festival and former camper and counselor at OSRUI, as the site is affectionately known, had a suggestion about that. "I didn't think it should be a puff piece or just a history of the camp, naming all kinds of people, but should be a scholarly piece," he recalled in a recent interview.
The idea came together in a collaboration between Lorge and Gary Zola, currently the executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and an associate professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Lorge and Zola had grown up together at OSRUI, where Lorge's father, Rabbi Ernst M. Lorge, was one of the founders, and as the two worked on the book's initial chapters, they soon discovered that "there really was nothing of the sort that had been written, and not just in terms of the Reform movement," Lorge says.
They decided to make the book broader than a paean to OSRUI. The result is "A Place of Our Own: The Rise of Reform Jewish Camping" (University of Alabama Press). Edited by Lorge and Zola, the book contains chapters by Brandeis University professor and well known historian Jonathan D. Sarna; OSRUI's current director, Gerald Kaye; and several others. The book was "a major undertaking," Lorge says, and took nearly four years to write and compile.
It focuses on four major areas of the Jewish camping experience, Lorge explains: music, prayer, Hebrew and informal education. The latter, he says, is more important to the camping experience than might be thought. "It's the powerhouse of what OSRUI does, in particular because of its ability to deliver content through what we call peak experiences, like sociodrama and simulations." These "leave a lasting impression," Lorge says. "Campers never forget. Even today kids come up to us from when we were counselors and they remember these things."
Is the book designed for scholars or for former campers? "Really for both," Lorge says. "For people who are serious scholars or have a passion for education, there is tremendous insight into the fact that in the camp environment, every moment is a teaching moment. Campers learn through music, prayer, Hebrew. It's the strength of summer camping."
Today, with fears about young Jews losing their Jewish identities, "Jewish summer camping is being discovered by many philanthropists as something that can have a great impact on the Jewish future-the power it has to connect people to Judaism," Lorge says.
Each chapter begins with a personal anecdote from a camper, a device that Lorge calls "the portal for someone who loved summer camp that gets them in to the chapters." As for himself, even though he was intimately connected with OSRUI throughout his childhood, he found some surprises. "I discovered some of the folklore of camp was not accurate," he says. Even something so basic as the year of OSRUI's founding "had been confused over the years-we now know it was 1952. And the role of the national Reform movement in additional to local lay and rabbinic leadership was clarified," he says.
In addition, he discovered a story about his father that he had never heard before. It seems that a young child at the camp, one who had a predilection for running away, couldn't be found one day. That day when Rabbi Lorge opened the Ark, there was the child, curled up inside it. "Dad just held out his hand for the child to jump out as if it was a natural thing," Lorge says. "There wasn't any shock or anybody laughing at the child.
"I grew up there every summer of my life and I still found things I didn't know," he says. "That's why it's important to write these histories. It helps us understand a little bit where we're going."
The book ends in the 1970s-by design, Lorge says. "Anything from about 1970 on was just too new," he says. "We didn't have a historical sense of it. That's for someone else to write."
For Rob Packer, several events converged to create a passion that quickly became an obsession. First, he began to search for a photo of his wife's family's old synagogue in Albany Park for a family history project. At around the same time Packer, a professional private building inspector, noticed an old church with Jewish symbols on it and discovered that it had once been a synagogue, built in the early 1900s.
That spurred his interest in old synagogues and Jewish communal buildings in the Chicago area, and he soon discovered nearly 500 of them that were now existing as condo buildings, churches and, in one instance, the headquarters for Operation P.U.S.H. Packer began photographing the buildings, but when he searched for books on old Chicago synagogues, there were none to be found. So he began his grand project: to chronicle the history of Chicago's "forgotten synagogues" in as complete a manner as possible.
The project generated so much interest from a story in Chicago Jewish News that he began getting requests for lectures even before the books came out, he says.
Now the book is out. It's "Doors of Redemption" (BookSurge, LLC), a spiral- bound volume that contains more than 200 photographs of Chicago-area synagogues and communal buildings, grouped by neighborhoods, along with photos of bygone Jewish life and anecdotal reminiscences connected to many of the buildings and neighborhoods.
Packer is amazed at the reception the book has received. "It has turned into an unusual book of memories," he says. "With most of the photographs there is a story, and these stories are so poignant, so strong, the appeal is amazing-not just to the Jewish community. I'm getting at least as strong a reception from non-Jewish people." He believes that's because "the stories are so universal, about people's struggles, about families, neighborhoods."
Interest in the book has "exploded," he says, and he is receiving many requests for talks and book signings. Non-Jews "are saying, I found out I have a Jewish grandmother, grandfather. It has turned into a Chicago story." The administrator of a Chicago synagogue bought 12 copies, and others tell him they are buying the book as gifts for older relatives or friends or for their rabbi.
"I thought I was doing something good but I didn't know I was doing something so compelling to other people," he says. At a recent talk he gave at the Buffalo Grove Public Library, for instance, more than 100 people attended. And during an interview on WBEZ, he and the reporter traveled to several of the neighborhoods he chronicles in the book.
As for Jews, especially older ones, "they love being able to go back into their youth, their childhood" through his pictures, he says. In addition, he adds, "people are as intrigued with how I did it as with what was done. 'Tell us about your journey,' people say."
That journey led him to hear some intriguing stories. One of his favorites concerns a doorman at the Lake Point Towers condo building who told Packer about something that happened to him during the Depression. "A Jewish family drove up in front of Temple Sinai and they had a blowout. He fixed the tire and the man gave him $1.50. That was a fortune- he was making $3 a week," Packer relates.
In another anecdote, a woman in her 80s relates that when she was a newlywed, she made a request of her Orthodox rabbi, asking him whether young couples couldn't sit together and not in separate men's and women's sections.
The rabbi denied the request, noting that congregants sometimes nodded off during his sermons, and "I won't have it said that men and women were sleeping together in my shul!"
Since the book was published, "I'm getting calls for advice (on old buildings and neighborhoods)-- can you explain this? It's amazing how curious people are," Packer says.
Now he's planning to "take it to the next level. I travel for business, and people have said, why don't you come to my city and do this?" he says. "I'm doing a program in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Las Vegas." In all of those and other cities, people have asked him to document their old synagogues and community buildings before they are lost forever to the wrecking ball. "I'm going to take it on the road," he says. "This is truly an American story."
Who's getting the Israel money? Funds boost incumbents and some challengers
By Ron Kampeas
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) moved out of one political home when Democrats rejected him in an August primary, but an influx of campaign cash since his loss shows he's more welcome than ever in another-the pro-Israel community.
Since he lost the Democratic party's nomination-and its financial backing- for his Senate seat, Lieberman has become the top fund-raiser among American Jews whose primary political focus is support for Israel.
Insiders say Lieberman is expected to earn as much as $2 million from pro- Israel donors, about one-tenth of his total projected war chest.
Other candidates topping the list of pro-Israel financial support include Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); Sheldon Whitehouse, who is challenging Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.); Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.); and Brad Ellsworth, who is challenging U.S. Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.).
The money is being raised by a loose network of donors, many of whom have strong ties to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro- Israel lobby. Other Jewish donors may make Israel a high priority but also consider domestic issues, including reproductive choice, church-state separation and other social and welfare policy concerns.
With Democrats and Republicans vying for control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the Nov. 7 elections have generated an unusually high level of political donations and spending. Jewish donors, often central to political fund-raising, are deeply engaged once again.
Numbers are hard to track, but multi- issue Jewish givers are believed to give much more overall than single- issue, pro-Israel donors.
Among the trends in pro-Israel money, fund-raisers say, is a rush to defend endangered Israel-friendly incumbents. There is also significant support directed toward challengers of incumbents such as Chafee and Hostettler, who are not considered friendly to Israel.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, several Lieberman donors said that the iconic Jewish politician is drawing heavy support from Republican as well as Democratic Jewish donors. Lieberman, who was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000, is running as an independent after his primary loss, but has pledged to support the Democratic caucus if re- elected.
Lieberman always has elicited significant Jewish support, but backers say that support intensified among pro-Israel donors once he lost his party's backing.
Lieberman backers have hosted major fund-raisers in Connecticut; Boca Raton, Fla.; Chicago; and northern New Jersey. Those events earned a minimum of $50,000, and a mid-October event in Los Angeles is expected to bring in $1 million, organizers said.
"Joe's experience and his commitment to the State of Israel would be a huge loss" if he were ousted from the Senate, said Marvin Lender, a Connecticut entrepreneur and longtime Lieberman backer who has contributed to his campaign.
Few believe that Ned Lamont, the cable TV millionaire whose anti-Iraq war campaign defeated Lieberman in the Democratic primary, won't be supportive on Israel. Indeed, Lamont explains his opposition to the Iraq war by saying that it strengthened Iran, Israel's deadliest rival.
But Lieberman's long record defending Israel, not to mention his strong Jewish identification, makes him the favorite for pro-Israel funders, Lender said.
Lieberman characterizes Lamont as an unaccountable millionaire-but Lamont's wealth, paradoxically, has boosted Lieberman.
U.S. law allows donors to increase their donation limit from $2,100 each for primaries and general elections, and as much as $12,600 if the candidate's opponent is self-funded. Insiders say that helps explain Lieberman's stunning showing among Jews and those focused on the Israel issue.
Other major beneficiaries of pro- Israel munificence in midterm elections for the Senate include Santorum, Menendez, Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.).
Along with Lieberman, those senators have three things in common that are surefire magnets for pro-Israel money: They're incumbents, they're very friendly to Israel and their re- election prospects are grim.
"I believe in loyalty: You help people who were there when you needed them," said Lonnie Kaplan, the self- identified Democrat leading pro-Israel funding for Santorum, who is fighting an uphill battle against challenger Bob Casey, the Pennsylvania state treasurer. "He's got a tough fight and I have worked hard for him."
Kaplan would not say how much pro- Israel money was raised for Santorum, but some reports have indicated that it is $1 million of the $21 million the embattled campaign has brought in so far.
Two Democratic non-incumbents benefiting from pro-Israel largesse are Whitehouse, a former Rhode Island attorney general hoping to unseat Chafee; and Ellsworth, an Indiana sheriff taking aim at Hostettler. Both challengers are leading the incumbents in polls, thanks in part to the infusion of pro-Israel funds.
Whitehouse can thank Chafee for the estimated $1 million in pro-Israel funding he's expected to attract across the country. Chafee, a Rhode Island moderate, is consistently cool on Israel, and didn't help himself earlier this month when he delayed confirmation of John Bolton, the strongly pro-Israel ambassador to the United Nations.
Chafee cited Israel's settlement policy in explaining the delay on Bolton. Analysts now say that Bolton, who is serving as an interim ambassador, will have to be replaced in January.
In Indiana, Hostettler, who often votes against legislation backed by AIPAC, is a social conservative, making him an especially tempting target for Jews, who tend to be overwhelmingly liberal to moderate.
In some races, those values ultimately clash: For many Jews, Santorum's strong pro-Israel support is not enough to offset his hard-line opposition to abortion, embryonic stem- cell research and support for tax cuts and expanding the government's subpoena powers.
His opponent, Casey, is getting far less purely pro-Israel money but overall, he is getting more Jewish money than Santorum's $1 million, insiders say. Casey has easily raised $3 million among Jews in Pennsylvania and other states including New York and California, political insiders say.
"For people who are only single-issue, they're sticking with Santorum," said Betsy Sheer, a media training specialist who is advising the Casey campaign. "For people who are pro- Israel and are looking at domestic issues, like separation of church- state and privacy, they're supporting Casey."
That face-off-between single-issue, pro-Israel givers who back friendly incumbents, and liberal Jewish donors who back challengers who also have proved their pro-Israel bona fides-is occurring in several states.
In Montana, Jews are giving both to Sen. Conrad Burns, a Republican, and to his challenger, Jon Tester, the Montana Senate president. The same is true in a house race in Florida, where long-serving Republican Rep. Clay Shaw is fighting back Ron Klein, who is Jewish and the minority leader in the state senate.
Shaw is getting much more purely pro- Israel cash than is Klein, while Klein, who also is supportive of Israel, is getting more money from Jews in general.
It's hard to assess overall giving levels, because individuals are likelier to donate directly to the campaign instead of to political action committees, which have a $10,000 limit to any particular candidate in an election season. Direct donations are more appealing because they offer better access and are difficult to trace.
The Center for Responsive Politics tracked 33 pro-Israel PACs that had given $2,096,782 by the beginning of September, including $1,135,383 to Democrats and $873,899 to Republicans. Insiders say PACs account for about 10 percent of overall donations made by donors concerned primarily about Israel.
Many of the House incumbents earning pro-Israel attention are Republicans, including Reps. Curt Weldon and Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania and Reps. Chris Shays and Rob Simmons in Connecticut. That's partly because it's mostly incumbent Republicans who face strong challenges this season, reeling from bad news in Iraq and an economy that many middle-class Americans still find daunting.
At the same time, Jews are heavily supporting some of their Democratic challengers, including Lois Murphy in Pennsylvania, who is challenging Gerlach.
"Some of it is legitimately attributable to this phenomenon of Republicans in power," said Steve Rabinowitz, a Clinton administration communications official who is a Democratic strategist. "The pro-Israel money goes grossly disproportionately to incumbents who have been good on Israel."
He expressed concern, however, that pro-Israel givers have been swayed by an aggressive Republican campaign to draw Jewish donors away from the Democrats, the party Jewish voters overwhelmingly have favored.
"Turning Israel into a partisan issue is just about the worst thing that can happen," Rabinowitz said. "Why would an Israel supporter want to make it a wedge issue?"
Republican Jews say Democrats have the problem, citing surveys that show rank- and-file Democrats much likelier to favor a more balanced U.S. approach to Israeli-Arab issues.
"We're illuminating the fact that support for Israel is eroding within the Democratic Party," said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. "They need to address the root causes."
Like father, like son: Jewish chemist, Stanford prof nets a Nobel
By Joe Eskenazi
SAN FRANCISCO-You've heard of the nuclear family. But how about the deoxyribonucleic family?
Thirty-seven years after Arthur Kornberg won the Nobel Prize in medicine, his eldest son, Roger, took home this year's prize in chemistry, receiving the call from Stockholm, Sweden, on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Not only are both Kornbergs biochemists, they also both work for Stanford Medical School. This is, amazingly, the sixth instance of a Nobel being awarded to the son of a previous winner.
"It was a family of science. My mother, who unfortunately passed away about 20 years ago, worked in the lab as a biochemist with my father. So biochemistry was a dinner table conversation," recalled Roger Kornberg's younger brother, Tom, himself a biochemist at U.C. San Francisco (the third Kornberg brother, Ken, is not a scientist but an architect-though he specializes in designing laboratories).
"Roger was uniquely focused on science from the time he was very, very young," Tom Kornberg said. "He had no other ambition other than to be a scientist. He is notable even today for his single-minded dedication among scientists. His tenacity and determination is remarkable."
Arthur Kornberg-who still has his own lab at Stanford Medical School at age 88 -- grew up in an Orthodox Brooklyn household where Yiddish was the first language. His future wife, Sylvy Levy, also grew up Orthodox, but the couple raised their children in a fairly secular environment.
Still, the family had a strong Jewish and pro-Israel identity and Roger Kornberg is a consistent donor to the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation. Roger married an Israeli scientist, Yahli Lorch, a Stanford professor of structural biology, and the couple lives almost half the year in their Jerusalem flat, where Roger leads his research team remotely via the Internet. He returned from Israel just before winning the prize, having delivered a lecture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Sept. 26.
Roger Kornberg was honored for his study of transcription, a process of DNA replication. Instead of creating proteins directly from DNA, the DNA recreates itself in the form of RNA, which traverses from the nucleus to other cell locations where it kicks off protein production.
Kornberg has studied the vast intricacies of transcription since the early 1970s, fitting together the more than 30,000 atoms present in RNA polymerase, the enzyme that allows DNA to remake itself into RNA. Kornberg's lab created the world's first images of polymerase in action, enabling the zipper-like undoing and redoing of the double helix.
"We were astonished by the intricacy of the complex, the elegance of the architecture, and the way that such an extraordinary machine evolved to accomplish these important purposes," Kornberg told a Stanford publication of the images he and his colleagues created.
"RNA polymerase gives a voice to genetic information that, on its own, is silent."
That voice doesn't automatically make itself heard. Transcription occurs on a selective basis, and transcription among a cell's tens of thousands of genes decrees whether it develops into a liver cell, a stem cell or a neuron. It also determines whether it develops healthily or cancerously.
Creating the groundbreaking images of RNA polymerase was a backbreaking task requiring an expertise in an esoteric field combining chemistry, biology and physics called crystallography (the same technique, incidentally, that Francis Crick and James Watson utilized to discover the double helix).
To greatly simplify the work of Kornberg's lab, a concentrated solution of a molecule was evaporated until all that was left behind were highly structured crystals reminiscent of the salt deposits left behind by vaporized seawater. Via intensely bright X-rays, scientists were then able to identify the exact location of individual atoms and generate a computer model of the molecule.
Kornberg's tenacious feat of illustrating the 10 subunits of RNA polymerase in action was a task two decades in the making.
"It was a technical tour de force that took about 20 years of work to accomplish," professor Joseph Puglisi, chair of the department of structural biology at the Stanford School of Medicine, told a Stanford publication.
"Like other great scientists, Roger doesn't quit. He's stubborn. A lot of scientists would have given up after five years."
Each Nobel Prize includes a check for $1.4 million, a diploma and a medal, which will be awarded by Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10.
'Embracing' women with breast cancer
Sharsheret, the national organization for young Jewish women facing breast cancer, has added a new program designed to support an often neglected sub-group of its main population.
The program is Embrace, designed for women living with advanced breast cancer. Embrace "address the specific concerns of this often underserved community of women, including treatment options, pain management, quality of life, talking with family members and friends, and feelings of emotional isolation," according to Elana Silber, Sharsheret's director of operations.
Sharsheret is based in Teaneck, N.J. but has an outreach component for women all over the country, and has Chicago-area supporters, Silber says.
The Embrace program offers individual counseling sessions by phone with a staff counselor, plus a telephone- based support group that connects women with health care professionals and with each other. Silber says the telephone-based nature of the program, like other Sharsheret programs, ensures that it is convenient and confidential for the women using it.
Silber says that research conducted by Sharsheret revealed that resources and support available to women living with advanced breast cancer were extremely limited. "Embrace is the result of a focus group organized by Sharsheret to determine whether these needs were being met by the organization's existing programs. We found that women living with metastatic breast cancer wanted support that was customized to their individual experience," she says.
"What differentiates advanced breast cancer from the earlier stages is fear of the unknown, pervasive in many areas including treatment, prognosis, family, and religious beliefs," says Link Program Coordinator Shera Dubitsky. "Embrace addresses the concerns of women living with metastatic breast cancer that are both individual and overlapping," she says. "Speaking with a trained clinician addresses the unique concerns instigated by the extraordinary circumstances of women living with advanced breast cancer, while participation in the support group gives women a chance to share their overlapping anxieties and their common resources.
The Link Program is a peer support network that connects women newly diagnosed with breast cancer or at high risk for developing it with others who share similar experiences.
Sharsheret itself was founded in 2001. It has a number of other programs, including education and outreach programs that take place at events in private homes as well as health care symposiums. Recent events addressed such varied subjects as breast cancer and fertility, parenting during breast cancer, breast cancer genetics, and the challenges of being a survivor.
Quality of Life programs include Embrace; Best Face Forward, designed to address the cosmetic side effects of treatment; and the Busy Box, a program for young parents facing breast cancer.
Family Focus offers resource materials and a phone line for family members and caregivers of women facing breast cancer.
Sharsheret also has a series of booklets designed to raise awareness about issues Jewish women face in their fight against breast cancer, including "Facing Breast Cancer as a Jewish Woman," "Facing Breast Cancer as an Orthodox Jewish Woman" and "Breast Cancer Genetics and the Jewish Woman."
The organization also has programs for women at high risk of breast cancer; for family members and friends; for health care professionals; and for Jewish community leaders.
For more information about Sharsheret or any of its programs, visit sharsheret.org or call Silber at (866) 474-2774.
On a regular basis, Hedy Ciocci, B.S.N., Administrator of the Selfhelp Home will answer some of the many questions we have around aging. Hedy specializes in dementia care, has extensive experience working with families and elderly patients, and is a registered nurse. She is a frequent lecturer on issues of aging.
Recently, Hedy interviewed Art Tursh regarding seniors' use of technology and ways to make learning computers easier for older adults. Art Tursh is Senior Telecom Engineer at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Hedy also spoke with Ellen Berland, an 84-year old resident at a senior living community who recently learned how to use a computer and the internet to communicate with friends and relatives.
Computers aren't just for kids
What's the best way to find your favorite restaurant, get the latest review and see what they are serving on their menu? Spend just a few minutes on the internet and all this information is available with just a few keystrokes. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, people over the age of 50 are the fastest growing segment of internet users. In fact, from 1998 to 2001, the number of females over the age of 50 using the internet increased at an annual rate of 31%. Today, 35% of females over the age of 50 use the internet, compared with 40% of males over the age of 50.
The ability to e-mail anyone, at anytime from anywhere combined with the abundance of health, lifestyle and financial information has given seniors more reasons to learn to use the internet and computers in general.
Even more interesting is the fact that 90% of online seniors use the internet for e-mail, 72% of online seniors use it to research products and services and 43% use it to check health information. In fact, 41% purchase products and services online and 13% do their banking online. With this growing population, more affordable computer options and the time to learn and use computers, seniors are rapidly catching up to the young "techies" who once led the internet charge!
To learn more about how seniors can become comfortable with computers and the wonders of the internet, we posed a few questions to Art Tursh.
Q. Do you think that seniors learn differently than younger people? Are there different techniques that you would use in teaching seniors?
A. I would say that repetition is the key to learning and it is not just working with seniors. In my own experience, I find you retain more when you practice something over and over. As a young person, your mind is like a sponge, and it is much easier to learn technical skills or anything that requires memorization. As you get older, your mind becomes less "absorbent." Therefore, repeating tasks and reviewing the same information makes it easier for seniors to learn to do just about anything. For example, consider the sport of pickleball, which has gained popularity among seniors. It's a game that requires skill, strategy, and coordination. Just like learning a new topic, seniors may find that they need to practice their strokes and strategies repeatedly to get the hang of the game. Now, let's talk about pickleball bags for ladies. Choosing the right bag is essential for carrying paddles, balls, and other accessories. For seniors, particularly ladies, having a bag that's both functional and stylish can make a difference in their motivation to play and practice. It becomes part of the whole experience. Just like any learning process, the more they pack their bags, head to the court, and play, the better they become. So, in essence, repetition in both learning and in sports like pickleball is crucial for seniors.
Q. It can be intimidating for seniors to sit behind a computer screen for the first time. What are some of the skills you teach beginners?
A. I usually start with basic e- mail and attaching photos or documents to e-mail because chances are, their families are using e-mail to communicate. I also teach them the wonders of the internet and simple search engines so that they learn how to use a phrase or word to find something they are looking for. I introduce them to all the academic and cultural resources that are available on the internet so they can begin to realize what a resource the internet truly is. The fact that the entire world is migrating to this type of communication is pretty amazing. It is a profound sociological event and it would be a shame to live in this time and not see this unfolding. Technology is so rapidly evolving that today's e-mail could become tomorrow's video-mail or voice-mail.
Q. Seniors don't see as well and the normal screen is 17" or 19" which can be difficult for people with vision problems to see clearly. What kind of solutions do you recommend?
A. You can find 32" monitors now and I have found this very helpful for seniors as it is much easier for them to use the computer with this type of larger screen. There is a new software product, called Naturally Speaking that translates speech into text. The use of this type of software requires fewer technical skills, like typing and this might make it easier for seniors to use a computer. You simply plug a microphone into the audio input and the software understands what you are saying. This allows you to do word processing without having to type and there is another function that allows you to command the computer to search the internet, etc.
There are also magnifiers that can go over the screen to enlarge the type. This might be helpful as well.
I also visited with an assisted living resident, Ellen Berland, who is 84 years old and recently learned how to use the computer to communicate with friends and family in all parts of the world. Ellen provides some interesting insight into how she uses her computer and the benefits this technology has for seniors.
Q. How difficult was it for you to learn the computer?
A. It was not too difficult. The first thing they asked me was if I was able to type. I never learned typing because the war had started and I was not able to finish high school. But when you want to learn something, you learn it. My instructor made it very easy for me. Now, I receive e-mails from Israel and California. I have made birthday cards and get well cards on the computer for my friends too.
Q. What do you think about the computer?
A. It's unbelievable what you can do! You can get all the news and it is number one in my heart. I am 84 years old and I am telling you, that when you want to do something, you do it.
As long as you can see and read the letters on the keyboard, it is easy. I even wrote a letter in German to my friend and sent it to her in Germany. I love using the computer.
Q. Did you ever think you would learn the computer at your age?
A. No, I got it in 2001 and I have kept up with it. You can find out so many things on the computer. My grandson in California has a laptop and works on a cruise ship. He takes his computer with him and can e-mail me from the cruise ship. It is wonderful.
Seniors have found that "surfing the net" is a great way to stay in touch with friends and relatives, keep up with current affairs, research anything and everything, and even play games and shop. Computers, and certainly the internet, are not just for kids anymore!
If you’re like me, then you’re probably not reading this article.
What I mean is, do I dare admit this?, I hate newspapers.
Oh gosh, there I’ve said it.
But I really do hate newspapers.
Now that may be a strange thing for a journalist to say, but them’s the facts.
The naked and unvarnished and ugly truth.
I just dislike the news.
It’s usually such a bummer.
And I don’t like feeling, especially with the Sunday papers, that no matter how much I read, there’s still something else I didn’t get to.
I’m the type who has lists of to do lists and adding something else is just not my idea of a good time.
No thank you.
I’m also not wild about newsprint embedded in my nails, tablecloths, sheets, etc.
Call me what you want, but it’s clear that I could happily exist without newspapers.
For some reason I do like magazines (some would even say I’m addicted) but maybe I’m an airhead cause I like reading (and writing) the food pages, or about spas, mind-body connections, and what used to be called “women’s pages.”
It’s not just the paper, though.
I also get no thrills from TV and radio news.
More of the same stuff—Kosovo, crime, political races, finance, yadda, yadda, yadda.
So I understand. I really do.
Or I’m really trying to.
And trying not be a hypocrite.
But it’s hard. Really hard.
It usually takes a lot to make me angry. It’s not my nature.
But I’m ticked.
Well, maybe more worried than mad.
Cause I’m finding there are too many people like me.
Like that part of me.
People who don’t care about politics. (I hate politics).
Friends who proudly announce, “I have no idea what’s going on in the news, in the world.”
Like my friend the doctor, the internist, recently said when told about the Chicago shootings. “I don’t want to know. It’s too upsetting.
Did I tell you we planted tomatoes in our garden this year? And, by the way, my new carpool schedule is a killer.”
So maybe it shouldn’t bother me that after I spent most of last week covering Prime Minister Barak at the White House and in New York, that almost no one wanted to hear the first thing about my trip.
Those who did wanted to know just from the glamour, status,” oh-wow-that’s-so-cool-you-were-actually-with-these-famous-people,” perspective.
Give me a break.
Maybe I’ve been in this business too long.
Or maybe I’ve read too many self help books.
But if my self-worth was derived from being near famous people... it just makes me want to barf.
It scares me. It disturbs me.
That that’s the excitement?
“Wow, you were standing next to Madeleine Albright?”
People, people, people. We gotta wake up.
All of us.
Get with the program.
We find out the weather prediction and we dress accordingly. We hear about the principal of our children’s school and the new conductor of the symphony and who’s going to be quarterback with the football team.
We learned about germs and the importance of keeping not only hands, but also surfaces clean. Thank goodness for sanitized Clorox wipes. I don't know what my mother would have done without her bleach-free, premoistened wipes that cleaned and disinfected in one step. "These wipes" as she pulled out her trusty Clorox disinfecting citrus scented wipes,"kill 99.9% of bacteria, including staph and salmonella. Don't put your food down on that counter until I wipe it clean!" I still use those wipes at the school where I teach.
But we play ostrich about that which affects our hearts and souls and present and future as individuals and as a people.
The Jewish people.
We’ve gotta wake up cause it’s not about them, over there.
It’s about us.
Them is us.
They are our friends, family, former neighbors.
They’re home. In our land.
And they are we.
And we are all together, kukukehJew.
There was this moment at the White House, this epiphany, when even I knew, had this crystal clear realization, “This is it. This is history. Happening. Now.”
Yes, Barak may just be doing his feel good first tour as prime minister. Yeah he wowed ‘em in Washington.
Yes, he’s unbelievably smart. And he’s Israel’s most decorated soldier.
He’s charming in a sincere, “I want to hear you and I’m focused on every word you’re saying” kind of way. He conveys a sense of understanding and passionate caring about our history and communicates a sense of leadership that is inspiring.
But what is about to happen, now, goes to the guts of who we are. The decisions and implementations will affect us, every one of us, no matter how are garden is growing.
We, the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, are at a huge turning point, a momentous moment full of potential promise, danger and opportunity.
The final status negotiations including whether there will be a Palestinian state, what, if any, will be the Palestinian role in Jerusalem, the Holy City, and the issues of refugees and settlements and a whole host of other critical decisions will be determined during the next 15 months.
No one knows the correct ways to go.
And nobody knows once decisions are made how they’ll turn out.
Short or long term.
There’s a lot at stake.
The future of the Jewish people.
Okay, so I was a theater major, but it’s really not an exaggeration.
We may be on the verge of giving up the Golan Heights. Syria’s arm can then reach to Tel Aviv with relative ease, G-d forbid.
Last week, while the spotlight was on Mr. Barak goes to Washington, Israel released an Arab terrorist and, a few days later, (timed for announcement right around Shabbat, perhaps just so the majority of right-wingers would miss the news), Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said that we really should give up the other terrorist/prisoners that Israel is holding cause since we’re rolling out the red carpet for Yasir Arafat, who we know “has blood on his hands,” how can we detain his henchman, who were, after all, only following orders?
Now there’s logic for you.
By all means.
And they will join their brothers as chiefs in the Palestinian Authority, the “legitimate” body who cooperates with Israel in maintaining peace.
(Maybe in some far off galaxy, but I doubt it.)
I sat on the synagogue floor on Tisha b’Av night and was stunned by the ancient words of Eichah, Lamentations, “We stretched out a hand to Egypt and Assyria...there is no rescuer from their hands.”
We need to listen.
To proceed with caution.
History repeats itself.
Over and over and over.
Greece, Rome, Spain, Russia, Poland, Austria, Germany, (to name a few).
And let’s not forget about the lovely, neutral Swiss and how forthcoming they’re being here and now.
Maybe we’ll go to the Holy land on our own volition.
Maybe, as farfetched as it seems, we’ll be forced to flee an oppressor, G-d forbid.
Maybe we’ll just be hanging out here until Moshiach arrives, and in the meantime let ourselves slowly decompose, major meltdown in the melting pot, mindlessly making the priority to be first an American, rather than first a Jew.
My point is not to express my political views. Other than to say that we all have to, whatever flavor they may be.
We think that if we don’t know what’s happening, it doesn’t matter.
We can dramatically affect what happens and we need to act as if it all depends on us.
We can do the usual—write to Congresspersons, the president, the prime minister. Join a political action group.
And first and most powerful, pray.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” King David still tells us in Tehillim, the book of Psalms.
Our prayers do affect what happens.
As if it all depends on G-d.
Cause it does.
He’s got the whole world in His hands.
And this just may be a test.
Of our emergency broadcast system.
Peace and security are two very sensitive and volatile edges of the same sword.
Maybe G-d wants to know if and how much we want the blessing and the responsibilities and the pain and the privilege of dwelling on our own sacred soil.
Or if, instead, we choose to live in a white bread, white glove, have a nice day, imaginary bubble of bliss.
Only 50 years after the Holocaust and our heads remember but our motions are oblivious.
Anesthetized in the Diaspora.
We can’t imagine that it could happen again.
But Rwanda did.
Okay that’s there.
When it comes to us Jews and Israel, I’m not so sure the United Nations gives us most favored nation status.
We are still strangers in a strange land.
Many proponents of the peace process want Israel to be just like any other country. Give up our neuroses already and let’s get on with it.
But our cherished land is not like any other land.
And we are not just like any other people.
We are commanded to be a Holy nation.
And a light, a shining beacon in that specialness.
A beacon that shows the world the way home.
In the way that we live, in where and how we live.
And uplifting ourselves to be the best of who we are and can be is the best insurance policy to peace that I know.
We are then deserving of peace.
We will then be creating peace, by being true partners in creation with the Creator.
Following His/Her blueprint.
Harmonizing the world.
Israel’s future is in question, that we do know.
A settlement was dismantled the other day.
OK, what next?
It’s all terribly dicey.
And we need to be in on it.
Striving to be one people with one heart.
Remembering Who’s really in charge here, peace.
Returning to, clinging to, what really makes our lives meaningful and of purpose, peace.
Letting His/Her Will be our will, peace.
Living, active, involved, dynamic, let’s hash this out together and grow even stronger together peace.
And let it begin with me.
LIFE AND DEATH IN JERUSALEM
29 Shevat 5756
Feb. 19, 1996
It’s just an ordinary day in Jerusalem, if there is such a thing. The fragrant scents of spring fill the air and the wildflowers are madly in bloom. The startling red-painted poppies, the gentle pink cyclamen sway in the warm breeze.
I walk to the makolet (neighborhood grocery) and see Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz looking for a parking space. I stand in line at the post office and Rabbi David Hartman is ahead of me. I stop in to the neighborhood gemach (organization) for some medicine and the Chafetz Chaim’s grandson searches for it high and low, and gives it to me with the kindest smile that lights up my heart.
Outside, shimmering olive trees stand watch, arms outstretched, lovingly beholding the city and its inhabitants for eternity. Jerusalem’s cats languish on top of the luminous stone walls: the purring felines turn their faces to the sun and lick their paws, as if slowly beginning their Pesach cleaning. The orange and lemon trees hang heavy with fruit; my heart aches full of love for this magnificent, sacred city.
6 Adar 5756
Feb. 26, 1996
It’s just another ordinary day in Jerusalem, if there is such a thing. A new day begins and a bus is ripped apart. A bus I frequently ride is blown to bits at the exact spot I’d crossed the night before, less than 10 hours before.
In a moment, life is blown apart. “Shattered” is the word always used. And that is the word that should be used. For what was, who was, is no more. And along with the splintering glass and dismembered metal, lives and loves are fragmented into bits. The job of collecting the parts of bodies will occur more quickly than will the gathering together of pieces of lives, scorched beyond recognition.
The radio intones times of the funerals. Then there are the interviews with bystanders – the Jewish nation’s brave young men weeping as they describe what they witnessed at the scene.
The streets are filled with pensive faces, pain-filled faces with furrowed brows. Dare to smooth a furrow and you will get a flood.
When I first heard the news, the computer that is my brain automatically scanned who I know who lives along the way of the bus route. Who might be on the bus at that hour? Then I remembered, my dear friend Juliette has an only son who just began his army service a few weeks ago. They live right on the number 18 route.
Juliette is my first stop today. I walk in and she looks me dead in the eye and says, “It was his bus.” I steady myself, knowing that she would not be here at work if he was not O.K. “That was his bus and as he went to get it, I put money in his hand; he had been running a fever over Shabbat and I wanted him to take a taxi to the bus station. He is a good boy so he listened to his mother. When he arrived at the bus station, he got out of the taxi, turned to greet a friend and saw the bus blow up right behind him.”
I proceed to my favorite watering hole. Not your typical journalist’s beer and bourbon type place, but a cozy health food restaurant that is nourishing to spirit as well as to body, a warm four-person-run oasis where “everyone knows your name.”
As I enter, the lone waitress is leaving, apologizing to the owner that her head hurts; she is not feeling well. As she exits, the owner tells me, “her aunt was injured on the bus and is in critical condition in the hospital. We can’t expect her to be able to work today.”
As I settle down to lunch, the owner comes to my table and whispers, “There’s been another incident. This time in French Hill – I hate to interrupt your meal, but I know you’re a journalist; you may use our phone.”
After getting the latest news, I head outside, and I board a bus for the first time since the explosion. I know I must get back on the horse immediately, yet my heart skips a beat as I step up to pay the driver. I watch as I am watched, sad and anxious eyes eyeing my purse and my briefcase. I remember just three months ago, after Yitzhak Rabin was killed, the same concern, the same scrutiny. Then, though, my hat and long skirt, indicating that I am religiously observant, caused increased anxiety and scrutiny – now they are symbols that comfort and reassure.
I stop into my favorite hardware store. I need a small adapter for my printer to be able to send this to you. I enter the tiny shop and the owner yells,” Get out of my shop. Leave! Leave Israel! Leave today! Go back to your newspaper office in Chicago.” When I’d been here last week, he was really nice and friendly. I tried not to get indignant and angry; I looked at him in wonder. “Excuse me?” I asked. “Go – it’s not safe for you here, not until Sharon (Likud party) or Ze’evi (Moledet party) are prime minister. We Israelis, we have to be here, but you are a tourist. Go back.
“I told you last week that I am a wealthy man. And I told you last week that the money means little to me. Now it is worth nothing. You know why? My assistant was killed on that bus. That sweet young boy who showed you where my other store is, last week, remember?”
I stumble out. He is still yelling. I try to take it all in. But who am I? I am just a tourist who came here to pray for a friend, and was asked to stay to do this work. I am new here. I hardly know anyone. Yet each step of the day, what has occurred affects me, affects me in a very direct way, affects everyone I know.
What must it be like for those who live here? Who have fought here? Who send husbands and children to school, to work, to the army and can’t be sure if they’ll come home.
I walk home. I notice that the bright sunlight has given way to gray. A chill comes upon the city and a slow rain starts to fall. The first rainfall after … I recall another such rain, long ago and far away. My Aunt Marcella had just buried her 16-year-old son. As the rain fell, her face contorted in anguish. We asked what was wrong. She sobbed that the rain was falling on the blanket of fresh dirt covering her beloved son’s grave – the ground in which he was nestled was turning to mud.
After I enter my apartment, I flip on the radio. They’ve started playing music, quiet music. One of my favorite songs is on, Sting’s “Fragile.” “On and on, the rain will fall, like tears from a star. On and on the rain will say, how fragile we are, how fragile we are.” Now, the song has a new meaning and will forever belong to this day, to this tragedy.
Mulling over what has happened, it is again clear that Arab terrorists, like Hitler’s SS men, don’t discriminate whether we are Sephardi or Ashkenazi, or from what corner of the world we’ve come. All that matters is that we’re Jews.
I turn up the music and I begin to write, because life goes on. A cliché. If I were in Chicago and heard about the bombing, I’d probably be upset and not able to do much for several days. Here, I begin to understand. That my response must be, is, different. I must do my work, I must live my life. That is the victory. I must serve G-d with joy and gratitude and do everything I can to help the situation that is ours, the Jewish nation’s.
Even though, even when, as a government official has just said, “Jerusalem is crying today.”