Shabbat shalom everyone! Quick shout out to our beloved Boston Celtics, a young but great basketball team that lost to a better team this year, but a Celtics team I am sure will bring us more joy and a championship flag or two in the near future. And happy Juneteenth, and happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there.
I miss my Dad, who passed back in 1999 (and was a great Celtics fan!) One of my many fond memories of him was working by his side for the many odd jobs he would do around the house. From his work in the trades, Mel had an old Grossman’s Lumber carpentry apron he would wear around his waist to hold nails or maybe a tool or two, and he would teach me the basics in carpentry and make me clean up after every job. He always tackled each project with infectious enthusiasm, and if I ever had any feelings about wanting to be somewhere else, they quickly faded. He often boasted about his keen ability to solve household problems with cunning efficiency and Yankee ingenuity, and every challenge to him was just another “Micky Mouse operation”. I never understood the reference back then as none of the jobs seemed that trivial to me. So, this is a posthumous “thanks Dad”, for teaching me the basics in carpentry, and in life. Your time here was too short, but your impact lives on. I hope this mensch with a wrench makes you proud.
I have not been watching the January 6 hearings, but have read quite a bit about them. For those of you not following closely, here is my summary: Trump is an egomaniac sore loser a-hole, who, along with a circus clown bus of enablers almost toppled our democracy. The committee is very logically and methodically laying out the case for the DOJ that he is guilty of many crimes, and he and his sick-o-phants should all go to jail. I loved and recommend this essay from the conservative Andrew Sullivan, who believes it falls on the Republicans to save our asses from any further assaults on our democracy. Click here for the full essay, a short excerpt below:
And the truth is: we would not be where we are now without Donald Trump, and Donald Trump alone. He is unique in American history, a president who told us in advance he would never accept any election result that showed him losing, and then proved it. He tried to overturn the transfer of power to his successor by threats and violence. No president in history has ever done such a thing — betrayed and violated the core of our republic — from Washington’s extraordinary example onwards. The stain of Trump is as unique as it is indelible.
Shifting gears, I was struck by a number of Jew news items this week. One I want to highlight draws an interesting comparison between Pride celebrations in the USA vs Israel, and also exemplifies, in my humble opinion, the quintessence of our cultures. In Tel Aviv last Friday, a Gay Pride parade drew over 100,000 celebrants, who immediately and peaceably disassembled in order to make it home in time for lighting the Shabbat candles. Compare that to a Pride in the Park day celebration in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where police arrested 31 armed and shielded Patriot Front members, caught in the back of a U-Haul, apparently en route to the Pride in the Park celebration to do who knows what?! The news footage also shows armed men in military style fatigues lurking around the celebrants, just being intimidating jerks. What a country.
But, there was also some good Jew news to share this week, and without any further delay, here are some of the more interesting ones to share this week:
- Stephen Curry wore a Hebrew sweatshirt at the NBA Finals – No, Curry isn’t Jewish. But during Friday’s Game 4 postgame press conference, following a Warriors victory, he did don a Hebrew sweatshirt for the cameras — one that matches his own Hebrew tattoos. It features the phrase “האהבה לא תבל לעולם אך”, which translates to “love never fails” — a reference to the New Testament passage 1 Corinthians 13:8 (though with the Hebrew letters written in the reverse order). It’s also one of Curry’s two Hebrew tattoos, which he shares with his wife. The sweatshirt also features an image of Curry’s wrist, visibly emblazoned with the same Hebrew tattoo. Curry’s second Hebrew tattoo is simply his last name rendered in Hebrew: “קרי”.
- On this week in history: The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York on June 17, 1885. Shipped from France in pieces, the statue was reassembled and dedicated on Oct. 28 of the following year. Ten days later, the statue’s famous torch was snuffed, because Congress refused to allocate funds to keep it lit.What got the torch burning again was the intervention of M.B. Curtis, a Hungarian Jewish actor who declared he would pay for the torch to stay lit through the run of the play he was in. Eleven days after Curtis had the torch relit, Congress agreed to fund the torch in perpetuity, “ensuring,” as Grisar wrote, “Curtis’s distinction as the only individual American citizen to keep Lady Liberty lit.”
- On this week in history Part 2: The Magna Carta was signed 807 years ago, on June 15, 1215, and wasn’t so good for the Jews. Of the 63 clauses in the historic document, which laid out British rights and liberties, three touched on Jewish life. It included restrictions on Jews owning or working land; a provision ensuring that “much if not all” of the estates of the Jewish dead reverted to the crown; and, perhaps most egregiously, the establishment of Jews as chattel — or the personal possession — of the monarchy. King Edward I expelled all Jews from England 75 years after the Magna Carta was signed. God save the King?
- Who will greet Biden is Israel? I continue to follow the slow-motion train wreck that is the Bennett coalition – who might not hold on to the reigns long enough to greet President Joe Biden when he arrives in Israel in less than a month. Speculation is not if, but when the government will fall. And because of the way Israeli Parliament rules are written, Bennet could be replaced by Lapid or Nut-and-Yahoo. And there is now talk of Bennet forming a new coalition with the Likud. Politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows. Read the Story
- Synagogue sues over Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban: Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach claims the new law, which has been signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and is set to take effect on July 1, violates the religious rights of Jews. Given that abortion is required under Jewish law if necessary to protect a woman’s health, the suit states that the ban “prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion.” Read the story ➤
- WhatsApp’s reclusive founder has quietly become a megadonor to Jewish causes – WhatsApp’s inventor, a Ukrainian-born Jew whose creation made him one of the wealthiest people in the world, has kept conspicuously quiet throughout the conflict. Jan Koum, who controls a multi-billion-dollar charitable foundation, has not uttered a public word even as many other wealthy Ukrainians and Russians announce donations toward humanitarian relief efforts. But based on an examination of tax returns filed by Koum’s foundation before the war, the publicity-shy WhatsApp founder, who arrived in California as a teenager, is more entwined than meets the eye with the events rocking the country he left behind as a 16-year-old. His donations, only a sliver of which have been previously reported, include tens of millions of dollars to Jewish organizations now involved in relief efforts in Eastern Europe. Read the story.
- Massachusetts Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Ayanna Pressley, condemn pro-Palestinian project mapping Boston Jewish groups – This is a follow-up to last week’s news item regarding this disturbing anonymously funded group. Massachusetts’ two Democratic Senators have joined at least four Democrats in Congress, including one vocal critic of Israel, in speaking out against a Boston pro-Palestinian activist group’s initiative mapping “local institutional support for the colonization of Palestine,” saying the map, which includes the names, addresses and staff members of many Jewish organizations, could incite violence against the Jewish community. Read the story.
That’s enough! Dyanu!
And hey, it never goes without saying, but let’s be careful out there!