Friday, June 26, 2020

Photo Friday

In place of the usual Friday meme dump on FB (and in light of my having been declared persona non grata there ), I've decided to try it here to see if is less disruptive for people.

Just click on the thumbnail image to view the full size image:

 

Posted by David Bogner on June 26, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Birthdays Are Complicated (for me)

When you're a kid, birthdays are the cat's ass; the absolute pinnacle of your existence.  You literally spend your entire year - every waking moment - either looking forward to it with eager anticipation, or looking back on it with a bitter-sweet longing that you won't recognize as nostalgia until you hit middle age.  

I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point, for me, birthdays acquired an ominous pong... like a Tupperware in a hard-to-reach corner of the fridge containing a left-over science project that was once part of a delicious, festive meal.

Anybody who sent me birthday wishes this year received the following upbeat reply from me:

Thanks for the birthday wishes. 

Birthdays seem like a silly thing to get emotional about; like Steve Martin in ‘The Jerk’, when he gets all excited about the arrival of the new phone book.

Everyone gets one.  Everyone is listed.  What’s the big deal, right?!

Except that’s not really true, is it?  A lot of people don’t get a next birthday.  The book comes out, but their name isn’t in it. 

So yeah, it *is* a big deal, and I’m deeply grateful for another year... and for my wonderful family and friends.

And I mean/meant every word of it, from the bottom of my heart.

But birthdays are complicated.  And there's such a thing as 'a lie of omission'... where the moment the words leave your lips, your cheeks glow crimson with guilty knowledge of the rest of the story you just bit down on to keep if from spilling out.  That's what I felt sending out that cheery, upbeat thank-you note.

In general terms, I think some of my problem with birthdays come from secret feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness.

Some people lose their house in a fire or get cancer in the prime of life, and as they watch helplessly as the gleaming, scheduled express train of their life jumps the tracks and goes plunging into the ravine below, they demand explanations from G-d by bleating "Why Me?... what did I do to deserve this?!"   

My wiring seems to be screwed up somehow, because each time something has gone right in my life, I've found myself standing in the shuddering wake of a car that just missed me... standing under the chuppah next to the woman of my dreams... walking around a hospital delivery room holding my perfect newborn child... surveying my new, well appointed office... a small, inner child behind my eyes bleats, "Why me?... what did I do to deserve this?!"

As the years have passed, its only gotten worse. 

Friends who did everything right; studied hard in school, made responsible life decisions, chose practical careers... got 'put out' in the cruel, seemingly random game of dodge-ball that we're all forced to play.  

I took an unusual route home from work the other day; one that took me to a cemetery where a shocking number of people I've known and loved are buried.  I parked the shiny new car that my company just gave me and walked between the dusty rows until I came to the grave of a friend who had lived a charmed, magical life.  He was the smartest, most talented person I've ever known.  Everything seemed to come easily to him, and everything he touched turned to shining gold. 

Yet there I was, sobbing next to his grave... not because I missed him (I do), but because I can't seem to come to terms with why things work out for some people, but not others.  I sat there with the line from Billy Joel's 'Allentown' running in a loop in my head, "...For the promises our teachers gave, If we worked hard, If we behaved...". 

I never really worked that hard, and often didn't behave.  Yet I'm still here... amazed and confused to still be in the game.... screaming silently with a deep, maudlin sense of inadequacy, 'why me?!', when any sane person would be looking at my wonderful life, and celebrating every moment.

Posted by David Bogner on June 25, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Devolving

I recently read something that was, in equal parts, fascinating and scary:

"Years ago, the anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about clay pots, tools for hunting, grinding-stones, or religious artifacts.

But no. Mead said that the first evidence of civilization was a 15,000 years old fractured femur found in an archaeological site. A femur is the longest bone in the body, linking hip to knee. In societies without the benefits of modern medicine, it takes about six weeks of rest for a fractured femur to heal. This particular bone had been broken and had healed.

Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, you cannot drink or hunt for food. Wounded in this way, you are meat for your predators. No creature survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal. You are eaten first.

A broken femur that has healed is evidence that another person has taken time to stay with the fallen, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended them through recovery. A healed femur indicates that someone has helped a fellow human, rather than abandoning them to save their own life."

    [Source: Remy Blumenfeld - Forbes]

So why is this scary?  Because I couldn't help contrasting Dr. Mead's description of the rise of society, to irrefutable evidence that we as a society seem to be devolving; figuratively coming apart at the seams.

Think about it; if inconveniencing/endangering oneself for one's fellow man is a sign of society forming, what does it say about us that in the face of a serious external threat, where our best and only way to protect our fellow humans from infection, illness and potential death is to inconvenience ourselves (in a minor way), by wearing a tiny cloth or paper mask, we, as a society, are prioritizing our convenience and comfort over the safety, health and lives of our neighbors?

That long ago human's fossilized femur gave evidence of the empathy of an adjacent human.  Yet today, even as scientific evidence conclusively proves the efficacy of cloth and paper masks to lower the chance of spreading infection to low single digits (thus preventing serious illness and death), I see people walking around with no masks... or with masks slumped ineffectively below their nose (bad) or chin (the same as not wearing a mask at all).

In a society where we are finally being conditioned (in a good way), to be protective of the cultural, sexual and racial sensitivities (e.g. protecting people's feelings) of our fellow man, how has protecting their lives fallen so far out of fashion?!

 

[If you want to be notified of future posts here, please follow me on twitter: @treppenwitz ]

Posted by David Bogner on June 23, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, June 22, 2020

So, about that whole kidney donation thing... (Part 1)

I thought about discussing the science and potential risks of being a kidney donor, but that has already been done quite nicely by the organization that shepherded me through the entire process: Matnat Chaim.  They have a Hebrew site as well, but if you follow that link... the information is pretty well organized, and will have enough for someone who is at the 'kicking the idea around' stage.

What I will do is tell the story - in installments - about my personal journey that lead to my decision to donate a kidney.  This will be 'Part 1'.

Aside from the sidelong looks/whispering (yes, I see/hear you), and the excruciatingly embarrassing compliments (which I honestly don't know how to deal with), being a kidney donor - despite how noble and selfless it may seem from the outside - can be fraught with complex personal feelings unrelated to altruism.

Although the reasons for donating a kidney are probably as numerous as there are people willing to consider it... there are a few common milestones that are likely shared by a large proportion of people who start the screening process. 

The entire process - from first toying with the strange idea of letting someone remove a perfectly good part of you, to finding yourself on the operating table - can be a journey of anywhere from a few months to several years; depending on how enthusiastically one embraces the idea. 

Some people jump into the process head-first because a close friend or relative is in urgent need of a transplant.  Others [*raises hand sheepishly*], start with the germ of an idea, and spend several years slowly working up the nerve to even begin the medical screening. 

It's probably not really relevant to anyone else why I, personally, first started thinking about kidney donation.  But I'll talk about it in a bit because it seems to be one of the first questions people ask. 

Before I get to that, though, I want to say that what is hugely important is to get 'buy in' from your spouse / partner (or immediate family if you are single), early in the process.  I'm thankful that I did, because I can honestly say that nobody, even the most supportive person, will fully understand why you want to do this. The best you can hope for is that they don't feel like they've been sandbagged at the last minute to give their okay (which means that you've been planning this for a long time without consulting with the person/people who will have to deal with the consequences if anything goes wrong).

Think about it... if you wait until you are already approved and matched with a recipient, and your husband/wife gives anything but an unconditional, enthusiastic 'yes', it is as though they are saying they're not in favor of saving an actual person's life!  That's a lot to lay on someone who is hearing the idea for the first time. 

Better to talk to them as soon as you start to think about it seriously, so they feel that they've been part of the decision-making process from the get-go.

So... how did I get to the point where I found myself, a person in very good health (it turns out!), in the operating room watching an anesthesiologist with smiling eyes lower a mask onto my nose and mouth?  How does one even begin to contemplate such a monumental decision?!

Like many difficult decisions, I opted to use the 'swimming pool' method in my deliberations over whether to donate a kidney. 

For those not familiar with it, this method is the same used in the difficult process of getting into a very cold pool.  Yes, there are always a few foolhardy souls who jump in all at once.  Most of us first test the waters by putting a toe in... then a foot.. and so on, until we either decide it's too uncomfortable (and we back out), or we find ourselves far enough into the process with manageable discomfort to justify taking the rest of the plunge.

I've described it this way, because I can honestly say that there was never an 'aha' moment when a light-bulb went on and I felt that I could walk around to the diving board and simply jump in head-first.  I always felt that I could allow myself to back out gracefully at any point; and that was crucial!

One of the key factors that allowed me the luxury of knowing I could stop (chicken out of), the process at any time was that I didn't make a big announcement to the world that I was planning on 'going swimming'.  I kept the circle of people who knew about my deliberations to an absolute minimum until I was literally at the point of booking the date for the transplant surgery. 

The reason for this should be obvious.  If you tell everyone you know that you are going to do something difficult (think skydiving or running a marathon), their expectations - and the potential for embarrassment/disappointment if you back out - now become a factor in the decision-making process.  I can't overstate the importance of not letting external expectations influence your decision in so important a decision. 

At the outset I spoke about the idea only with my wife.  Then once I was fairly well advanced in the screening process, I brought my kids and siblings into the loop. I told a few close, trusted friends shortly before the surgery date.   I didn't tell my parents until after the surgery was over and I knew there had been no complications. I didn't feel it was fair to ask them to take part in the decision.  And if I wasn't consulting them, it seemed cruel to tell them in advance and cause them undue worry.  

It wasn't until I was almost finished with the medical testing (a process that took me almost eight months to complete), that I spoke to my boss and the head of my company's HR department.  Obviously, if you are going to be taking anywhere from three-to-six weeks off from work for the transplant surgery / recovery, you are going to need the willing and active support of your employer. 

By the way, in Israel, you don't have to use sick days or vacation time for the workdays you miss due to being a kidney donor.  It is handled by the national insurance in much the same way that they handle military reserve duty.  And all the expenses associated with the medical screening are picked up by the recipient's health insurance.

I think that's enough for one installment.

I'll pick up this thread with at least two or three more installments in the coming weeks. 

I'll respond to reasonable questions in the comments section. But if they deal with things I have't written about (or fully come to terms with), I may ask for your indulgence and patience. 

I'm still working through a lot of the things you're probably curious about.  So bear with me.  I'm using this writing process to enlighten myself, as much as to inform you. 

[If you want to be notified of future posts here, please follow me on twitter: @treppenwitz ]

[Read Part 2 and Part 3 ]

Posted by David Bogner on June 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (9)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Blowing Off The Dust - 7 Things

I kept up this site for more than 15 years.  It contains some of my fondest memories, best writing, and most helpful self-therapy.  Now that I have displeased the FB gods (very small 'g'), it seems like as good a time as any to remember why I used to post here:

1.  My house, my rules.  As in the public square, my ideas are subject only to the criticism of my peers.

2.  FB is not the public square.  They are a private company with every right to censor content and speakers.  Only the government is prohibited from interfering with free speech.  

3.  On the internet, content is king.  On my site, my content is my own.  On FB, it isn't.  After all, if you aren't paying for something, your'e not the customer... your'e the product.

4.  I'll mostly share my own content here.  Except Fridays.  On Friday I'll try to arrange a meme dump similar to what I used to do on FB.

5.  After my term in exile expires, I will probably go back to interacting on FB, but will try to keep Treppenwitz.com as my primary online 'home'.

6.  If you like anything you see here, feel free to share it by posting a link. 

7.  Please do not copy and paste content (other than memes), without asking and giving attribution.

Posted by David Bogner on June 21, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Privilege

To all the people out there who are saying you don’t have white privilege because you had to work your ass off to get where you are, and have earned everything you have:

Privilege isn’t about how long your journey was to get to where you are now, or about being handed shortcuts or freebies along the way.

Privilege is about not being repeatedly pulled over and questioned (or worse), along the way, simply because of your appearance.

Posted by David Bogner on June 18, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Nurture Service Sector Businesses

A friend who is in the food service business asked that this be shared far and wide. Everyone should read this if they are enjoying outdoor dining:

  1. Don't run your server. Try your best to ask for everything you need at once. Remember it's going to be a long walk from the street into the building for more water or anything else. Help us out by asking for whatever you need all at once.
  2. No mask jokes or your views on them. The server has to wear it. They have no choice!
  3. The server is wearing the mask to protect you and you have nothing on to protect them. Wash your hands.
  4. You Eat....You Go....
  5. Eat your meal. Have some drinks. Relax, but please do not sit at a table all night. These restaurants are working with very limited space and other customers are probably waiting to enjoy getting out also. They can't afford for you to order 2 side salads and water and sit there for 4 hours. Yes some people do this ALL THE TIME but please not now.
  1. Don't come out if you’re sick!
  2. Social distancing. Keep your kids at the table. Yes they are cute, but if they are running around they are getting too close to other people.
  3. Cut everyone some slack. Everything may be a bit slow because this is basically a new job for everyone. Restaurants have very strict guidelines to follow. Be kind, be patient.
  4. Tip. They are going to be sweating wearing masks all day. Please treat them right and leave a decent tip. If you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to go out.
  5. Be pleasant. You should be happy. You're finally out! Everyone is doing the best they can. Relax and enjoy!
  6. Please share!

Posted by David Bogner on June 17, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Whataboutism

I’m just about out of patience with the rampant ‘whataboutism’. 

Yes, there were black Africans who were slave owners and traders. 

And there was white slavery as well (the Barbary pirates often raided coastal towns in Europe, England and Ireland).

Horrifying. 

But it has nothing whatsoever to do with the conversation regarding the history of blacks in the US. 

Black history in America has gone from horrifying, to barbaric, to cruel, to unjust, to unfair, to barely tolerable second-class citizenship (interspersed with occasional swings through random prosperity and regressions to cruelty and injustice). 

If your contribution to the current public discussion of the range of realities experienced by blacks in the United States today is to point out injustices unrelated to the American black experience, you are essentially saying “We’ve talked about this enough.  I want to talk about something else.”.

Trying to change or redirect the conversation with ‘whataboutism’ is the same as saying the original conversation isn’t important /relevant to you. 

That’s a fair and legitimate position... but be honest and just say you don’t care.

Posted by David Bogner on June 16, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 15, 2020

Unpopular Thought of the Day:

Calling to defund police departments over unprofessional or criminal acts by individual police officers is like calling to defund hospitals over malpractice and criminal negligence by individual doctors. 

There are incompetent, negligent and even criminal, people in every profession.  But that doesn’t mean a profession is superfluous or non-essential.

For every tragic story of negligence and criminality, there are countless, quiet acts of competence, heroism, daring and extraordinary compassion that we never hear about. 

Strengthen the system that weeds out and punishes bad/negligent actors.  Don’t destroy a system or the will of its members to continue doing good.

Posted by David Bogner on June 15, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Honeysuckle

We have a huge confusion of honeysuckle on the fence that divides our backyard from our neighbor’s. 

All summer long it wafts its intoxicating aroma across our balcony and yard.

Every so often, when nobody is around, I pick one of the tiny flowers, pinch the tiny bulb at the base between my fingernails, pull the tiny strand all the way out until a a drop of sweet nectar peeks out asking to be tasted... and let the sweetness wash half a century away.

Posted by David Bogner on June 13, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Civics 101

The government is constitutionally prohibited from interfering with protests / protesters when they are assembling peaceably. 

Civil unrest and/or violence at a demonstration strips the protesters of their immunity from government interference. 

That interference can come from a range of government agencies including the police and National  Guard.

Those quoting the Constitution should read and understand it before using it as a fig leaf.

Posted by David Bogner on June 9, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 07, 2020

It Costs You Nothing...

I’ve said each of these (or some very close variation), on more occasions than I can count:

Wrong
It baffles me that people feel it costs them something to say any of these things.

 

Posted by David Bogner on June 7, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 05, 2020

Clarification Regarding Defunding Police

What you are saying (or at least what I am hearing/reading), is defund and dismantle all police forces. They are superfluous, unnecessary and dangerous. 

What I think (hope), you mean is:

Let’s see if SOME roles and responsibilities currently performed by armed police can be performed by unarmed social workers and/or crisis counselors in order to reduce unnecessary confrontations and violent encounters. 

Let’s see if we can adopt SOME aspects of multi-tiered foreign police force structure where only part of the uniformed force is armed, but all uniformed personnel are given protected status (meaning any attack on an officer carries mandatory draconian sentencing requirements). 

Let’s ensure that the selection of ALL police personnel is geared to weed out authority junkies, racists and abusers.  Perhaps a minimum age requirement, military experience for armed officers, and an associates degree in criminal justice or similar related discipline. 

Let’s ensure that continuous training is provided to ensure the same high level of proficiency with firearms as with deescalation and negotiation techniques.  

Let’s try to scale back the militarization of all but the most elite police SWAT and hostage rescue teams.  There is no need for typical community policing to require assault weapons and other tools of war.  A man with a hammer tends to see every problem as a nail. 

Thinking out loud here, but I truly hope this is what you mean... because it isn’t really what most of you are saying.

Posted by David Bogner on June 5, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

For the sake of argument...

Debating should be revived and made a required course throughout Junior and Senior high school... with the subject being given as much weight as mathematics, history, civics, and the hard sciences. 

The rules of polite disagreement, logic and persuasion have become scorned anachronisms in today’s climate of ‘I feel, therefore my views are as valid as your facts’. 

As a result, kids grow up unable to think critically, evaluate news and new information for logical consistency,  or test out new ideas with confidence among their peers. 

Kids must learn how to argue facts with detachment and respect for those with whom they disagree. 

They must internalize from an early age that disagreeing with someone does not make that person evil or an enemy to be neutralized or defeated. 

Oh, and ‘Robert’s Rules of Order’ should be introduced in Elementary School, and used throughout every year of education, up to and including university studies. 

Honest, respectful debate can’t take place outside a safe framework that provides unimpeded access to expression for even the soft-spoken and unassertive. 

A ‘bully pulpit’ can’t exist in a setting where rules of logic and decorum are integral threads in the fabric that clothes the intellect and instincts of a well-educated citizen.

Posted by David Bogner on June 2, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Anachronistic Product Branding

I see a lot of online eye-rolling over the decision to change the branding images and name of Aunt Jemima Syrup.

What about if a popular brand of delicatessen products was called ‘Jew Boy Deli Meats’ or ‘Shylock’s Sheeny Pickles’?  What about ‘Money Lenders Bagels’?  

And none of these hypothetical brands were owned by Jews trying to be edgy or ironic...still okay?

Asking for ‘some of my closest friends...’.

Posted by David Bogner on May 30, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 22, 2020

Yom Yerushalayim

I'm once again following the time-honored ritual below:

Find a quiet place... turn off the lights... put a box of tissues within easy reach... and press play:

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Click here to see an interview that General Uzi Narkis gave less than two weeks before he passed away.

Partial Transcript / translation:

Colonel Motta Gur [on loudspeaker]: All company commanders, we’re sitting right now on the ridge and we’re seeing the Old City. Shortly we’re going to go in to the Old City of Jerusalem, that all generations have dreamed about. We will be the first to enter the Old City. Eitan’s tanks will advance on the left and will enter the Lion’s Gate. The final rendezvous will be on the open square above. [The open square of the Temple Mount.]

[Sound of applause by the soldiers.]

Yossi Ronen: We are now walking on one of the main streets of Jerusalem towards the Old City. The head of the force is about to enter the Old City.

[Gunfire.]

Yossi Ronen: There is still shooting from all directions; we’re advancing towards the entrance of the Old City.

[Sound of gunfire and soldiers’ footsteps.]

[Yelling of commands to soldiers.] [More soldiers’ footsteps.]

The soldiers are keeping a distance of approximately 5 meters between them. It’s still dangerous to walk around here; there is still sniper shooting here and there. [Gunfire.] We’re all told to stop; we’re advancing towards the mountainside; on our left is the Mount of Olives; we’re now in the Old City opposite the Russian church. I’m right now lowering my head; we’re running next to the mountainside. We can see the stone walls. They’re still shooting at us. The Israeli tanks are at the entrance to the Old City, and ahead we go, through the Lion’s Gate. I’m with the first unit to break through into the Old City. There is a Jordanian bus next to me, totally burnt; it is very hot here.

We’re about to enter the Old City itself. We’re standing below the Lion’s Gate, the Gate is about to come crashing down, probably because of the previous shelling. Soldiers are taking cover next to the palm trees; I’m also staying close to one of the trees. We’re getting further and further into the City. [Gunfire.]

Colonel Motta Gur announces on the army wireless: The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands! All forces, stop firing!

This is the David Operations Room. All forces, stop firing! I repeat, all forces, stop firing! Over. Commander eight-nine here, is this Motta (Gur) talking? Over.

[Inaudible response on the army wireless by Motta Gur.]

Uzi Narkiss: Motta, there isn’t anybody like you. You’re next to the Mosque of Omar.

Yossi Ronen: I’m driving fast through the Lion’s Gate all the way inside the Old City.

Command on the army wireless: Search the area, destroy all pockets of resistance but don't touch anything in the houses, especially the holy places.

[Lt.- Col. Uzi Eilam blows the Shofar. Soldiers are singing ‘Jerusalem of Gold’.]

Uzi Narkiss: Tell me, where is the Western Wall? How do we get there?

Yossi Ronen: I’m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. I’m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and I’m touching the stones of the Western Wall.

Soldiers: [reciting the ‘Shehechianu’ blessing]: Baruch ata Hashem, elokeinu melech haolam, she-hechianu ve-kiemanu ve-hegianu la-zman ha-zeh. [Translation: Blessed art Thou L-rd G-d King of the Universe who has sustained us and kept us and has brought us to this day]

Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Baruch ata Hashem, menachem tsion u-voneh Yerushalayim. [Translation: Blessed are thou, who comforts Zion and builds Jerusalem]

Soldiers: Amen!

[Soldiers sing ‘Hatikva’ next to the Western Wall.]

Rabbi Goren: We’re now going to recite the prayer for the fallen soldiers of this war against all of the enemies of Israel: [Soldiers weeping] El male rahamim, shohen ba-meromim. Hamtse menuha nahona al kanfei hashina, be-maalot kedoshim, giborim ve-tehorim, kezohar harakiya meirim u-mazhirim. Ve-nishmot halalei tsava hagana le-yisrael, she-naflu be-maaraha zot, neged oievei yisrael, ve-shnaflu al kedushat Hashem ha-am ve-ha’arets, ve-shichrur Beit Hamikdash, Har Habayit, Hakotel ha-ma’aravi veyerushalayim ir ha-elokim. Be-gan eden tehe menuhatam. Lahen ba’al ha-rahamim, yastirem beseter knafav le-olamim. Ve-yitsror be-tsror ha-hayim et nishmatam adoshem hu nahlatam, ve-yanuhu be-shalom al mishkavam [soldiers weeping loud]ve-ya’amdu le-goralam le-kets ha-yamim ve-nomar amen! [Translation: Merciful G-d in heaven, may the heroes and the pure, be under thy Divine wings, among the holy and the pure who shine bright as the sky, and the souls of soldiers of the Israeli army who fell in this war against the enemies of Israel, who fell for their loyalty to G-d and the land of Israel, who fell for the liberation of the Temple, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Jerusalem the city of the Lord. May their place of rest be in paradise. Merciful One, O keep their souls forever alive under Thy protective wings. The Lord being their heritage, may they rest in peace, for they shalt rest and stand up for their allotted portion at the end of the days, and let us say, Amen.] [Soldiers are weeping.

Rabbi Goren sounds the shofar. Sound of gunfire in the background.] Rabbi Goren: Le-shana HA-ZOT be-Yerushalayim ha-b’nuya, be-yerushalayim ha-atika! [Translation: This year in a rebuilt Jerusalem! In the Jerusalem of old!]

Posted by David Bogner on May 22, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Honeybee's Defense

With each new report of violent attacks on Jews and their property around the world, I am sorely tempted to join the chorus of Israelis imploring our brothers and sisters in the diaspora to pack up and move to Israel before it is too late.

But each time I am able to resist that temptation because I truly believe that the Jews of the world aren’t experiencing 1933 all over again (at least in most places), and such comparisons are deeply misplaced. Further, I actually believe that the existence of Israel, combined with the legal protections of laws in most civilized countries, means that Jews no longer have to pack their belongings and flee in the night with whatever they can carry.

It bears reminding that living in Israel carries no guarantee of safety from anti-Semitic attacks, as our Palestinian 'peace partners' so ably remind us with alarming frequency.  And if Ezra and Nehemiah were powerless to persuade the affluent Jews of Babylonia to return to the land of Israel when the prospect of rebuilding the Temple was a reality and not some wistful dream, what can I, as a modern Israeli, possibly say to persuade American or European Jews to give up the comfortable lives they've built for themselves and start anew?

While Israel was certainly founded as (and continues to be) a refuge for Jews in need of escape/protection, it also serves as an example of how Jews need never apologize for, or shy away from protecting themselves.

To that end, every Jew – no matter where they live or how invisible they think they are – must take responsibility for their own defense.  That means carrying pepper spray… a knife… a gun… whatever the law of the land allows.  And they must be prepared to use these, and any other weapons that comes to hand. 

Those who are increasingly finding sport in attacking Jews must know that to raise a hand against any of us is a death sentence; that they will not be left alive to plead insanity, inebriation or incapacity!

We are not wasps or hornets whose nature it is to attack and kill… but rather, like honeybees whose industry and ingenuity benefit all who allow us to prosper peacefully in their midst. 

But any who raise a hand against us must know that a heavy price will be exacted, without hesitation… and without remorse.

Posted by David Bogner on December 29, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Compliment or Flirtation?

Okay, here's strange topic for a happily married man to be writing about publicly:  'Compliments that might be misconstrued as flirting'.

What I'm about to say is about me and my perspective, but IMHO applies equally to men and women in both the online and offline worlds.

I'll begin by saying that most normal people want to feel good about themselves; about their achievements… about their position/standing… and certainly about their appearance.

Yet as we grow older, even as we collect achievements and advance in our positions… there are fewer and fewer opportunities to receive positive feedback about who we are; especially as pertains to how we appear to the world. 

Those of us who are married don’t have things like a busy dating life or scintillating social calendar to use as measures of our attractiveness/desirability.  Heck, most of us 'of a certain age' privately wonder if we're even still interesting or attractive (if we ever were!).

To be clear, I'm not talking about the feedback/compliments we should all be paying to our spouses and significant-others.  I try to be mindful of this.  But even when we are consistent about telling our loved-ones they look good and make us happy, when we get such a compliment, we secretly wonder about our spouse's objectivity and candor.

So, back to the subject at hand:  I'm talking about the compliments and encouragement friends, acquaintances and colleagues give one another (on and off-line).  It can be as overt as telling someone their hair or outfit looks nice… to innocuous things such as 'liking' an achievement they have 'shared', or offering a few encouraging words when they mention they've had a personal setback.

However, it gets tricky when these compliments and words of encouragement are shared with people of the opposite sex.  If the compliment is appropriate to the relationship, and both the giver and recipient of the compliment are secure and happy, the result is (or, at least should be IMHO), a self-esteem boost and a strengthening of the friendship.  But even so, when I do it, I try to make sure my  - or their - spouse is within earshot or able to see the exchange online… y'know, to minimize the possibility of misunderstandings.

Two Examples:

Me (addressing a female friend without my wife nearby):  "You look really nice, is that a new dress?" [a little creepy]

Me: (addressing a female friend with my wife next to me):  "You look really nice, is that a new dress?" [sweet]

See, same compliment; but totally different vibe based on the setting and audience.

But sometimes, despite the best of intentions, misunderstandings do happen, and compliments and words of encouragement (chaste, platonic words of friendship), are taken as something more than that.  And the vague, uncertainty of many online exchanges only increases the chance of such misunderstandings.

I've written all this because I recently received a completely inappropriate private response to what I had thought had been a completely appropriate public compliment.  And as a happily-married, unremarkable-looking middle aged man, it occurred to me that if this happened to me, it probably happens a lot more to younger, more attractive people who think their interactions are simply 'polite', 'nice' or 'supportive'.

I've unfriended and blocked people with whom I've had contentious or aggressive political interactions… but this is the first time I've had to do so for an overt sexual overture.

The world is getting more and more chaotic, and rules and customs seem to fall by the wayside on a daily basis.  But some things will never change:  I will continue to try to be nice to my friends, regardless of their gender.  And I will continue to love my wife madly… and faithfully.  

So please let me know if I ever say or do anything that seems to blur those lines.

Posted by David Bogner on November 27, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Alone With The Dishes

[I wrote the first draft of this back in 2004 to describe the mental process I go through at this time of year.]

One gets to do a fair amount of thinking late at night, alone with the dishes.  To be clear, my wife does her fair share of the dishes.  But for the big jobs - particularly after dinner parties, large Shabbat/holiday meals, etc. - I’m the one left surveying the wreckage and not knowing exactly where to begin.

So it is (for me) with the approach of Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. 

For me, looking back at the year is like surveying the aftermath of a wild dinner party; one where invitations were extended to far more people than the house could comfortably accommodate… the kind of rollicking soirée that is talked about and savored (and paid for), for months.

But every such a party comes at a cost.

Rosh Hashanah (for me) is roughly analogous to standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room looking aghast at the damage.

What was I thinking?!

Every horizontal surface is stacked high with dirty glasses and dishes. 

Empty bottles of Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay stand abandoned beside half-empty bottles of bourbon and scotch. 

The sinks overflow with greasy dishes, and the dessert service (dishes, tea cups and saucers), seem evenly distributed between the diningroom table and the various kitchen counters.

Soiled linen napkins sit balled on (and under), chairs.  And glasses of every description seem to wink at me from wherever the wandering conversationalists happen to have abandoned them.

On Rosh Hashanah I stand slumped in that imaginary doorway trying to make the insurmountable seem, well, surmountable; trying to place the soiled contents of my slovenly year into some kind of framework where things can be addressed in an orderly fashion.

Anyone who has ever been left to clean up after a big party understands the daunting nature of the task. At first glance it seems the house will never be clean again, so why bother?!.

But then you pick up that first wine glass (with the half-moon of lipstick on the rim), and place it in such a way as to demonstrate to the long departed guests and sleeping house that this spot on the sideboard is where the crystal will be gathered. 

And so Rosh Hashanah begins (for me)… nothing getting washed just yet; just making the insurmountable seem surmountable.

Several circuits of the house bring more dirty wine, whiskey, and water glasses than I ever knew we owned, to join that first one there on the counter.

Then, after emptying the sinks of their precariously piled contents, I draw a basin of hot soapy water.

As the basin fills, I designate other places for dishes and for cups and for saucers - each to each - all according to size. Warming to the familiar task, while I work I take comfort in the muffled sound of the water under its foamy cloak… almost like a prayer.

And so Rosh Hashanah continues (for me).  Nothing getting washed just yet… just making the insurmountable seem surmountable.

Next the sterling flatware and serving pieces are gathered into a pot full of soapy water, and the linen napkins are bundled with the tablecloth into the hamper in the laundry room.

With the leftovers wrapped and put safely into the refrigerator, and the trash bundled to the bin, the place is starting to look more sane… not one iota cleaner, mind you... but some semblance of order has begun to emerge from the chaos.

Now pots and pans of every shape and size are filled with hot soapy water and placed on the stove and sideboard to soak. Measuring cups and carving knives are placed beside legions of serving platters. Spices are returned to their racks, and canisters of flour and sugar are placed back on their shelves; each gestures creating a bit of space… and again, I am comforted by the suggestion of emerging order.

And so Rosh Hashanah ends (for me)… nothing having been washed just yet… but the insurmountable finally beginning to seem surmountable.

If I've done that much, it seems less daunting to stand in the spiritual doorway between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur… balanced on the threshold between what has happened... and the tantalizing suggestion of more good things that might still lie ahead.

I haven’t yet washed a thing, although some of the bigger problems have been identified and been placed in to soak. The glasses all sit with their fellows and the dishes are stacked according to shape and size. Everything still bears the smudges and smears of too much fun… too much indulgence. But now, as I look around, the task seems somehow more manageable… surmountable. 

As I stand listening to the soft ahhhhhhhhhh of the soap bubbles as they settle in the sink, I am almost ready for Yom Kippur. I have a clearer idea of what has to be washed… and I know (hope) that after the necessary work, I will find myself at the end of the process with sparkling china… lovingly polished sterling… and immaculate crystal.  And the house  - and my life - will be looking - and feeling - ready for a fresh beginning.

May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

Posted by David Bogner on October 5, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Time To Bake!

Click HERE or the link below to sign up!

https://challahbakeinternational.com/sign-up 

0AEF2079-5F4D-4D90-8FE5-D8B80158F881

Posted by David Bogner on August 7, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (1)