Our job on Tisha B’Av:Keeping memories alive

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Tonight and tomorrow, Jews around the world commemorate the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av, the day recognized as the day in which both Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.  It is without question the saddest day on the calendar and has taken on the status of the day to acknowledge all Jewish suffering throughout the ages.  No more notable than…    https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/our-job-on-tisha-bav-keeping-memories-alive/

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Open Letter To Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor of Tikkun regarding his critique of Israel’s tactics

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Dear Rabbi Lerner,

Allow me to start by being honest with you.  I read your article    https://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/israel-has-broken-my-heart-im-a-rabbi-in-mourning-for-a-judaism-being-murdered-by-israel/  and stopped when I felt I could go on no longer.  Before I resolved to read any further I told myself I would only do so under one condition.  The inclusion of 2 words.  Never Again.  Having not found them anywhere in your piece I chose to not read it till the end.

I wish you to understand 2 very important things.  First and foremost, I am not without compassion when it comes to the death and suffering of innocent Palestinians.  Secondly, unlike many who may even appreciate my letter to you, I respect your  intentions and do not see you as a traitor to the Jewish people.  I do however find your approach apologetic and weak and subsequently potentially harmful to the very cause you claim to promote. Peace for all.

You seem to somehow be afraid to call out for Hamas for being what it truly is, an instrument of evil.   They care little if at all for their people, and wish to see, if possible oversee the destruction of our people.  Whether you wish to see it or not, the greatest perpetrators of abuse on the Palestinian people are their very leaders.  Whether it is the misappropriation of funds by the Palestinian Authority or the building of terror tunnels by Hamas, the leadership has shown anywhere from little to no concern for their citizens to a desire to use them as pawns in a self-serving conflict with Israel.  Even in your piece, you try to spin Hamas’s lack of recognition for Israel into something resembling a desire for peace.  They have shown nothing to indicate that is what they want.  On the contrary, they’ve shown nothing but contempt for the peace process and manipulation of Gaza’s population.

Before I address the most important issue regarding your stance, let me first state a very important point.  The Israeli government is by no means without fault.   There are certainly events that have taken place that very likely could have been handled differently and in a more productive and yes, maybe even more merciful manner.  That being said, as a Jew and son of Holocaust survivors, I do not question the overall approach and actions of the government for one split second.  You see Rabbi, and this is something you fail to address in your latest piece, the modern nation of Israel was founded on an often unspoken promise of the words, Never Again.   The Jewish people have throughout the ages been targeted for death and destruction merely for being Jewish.  From the ashes of the brutal murder of 6 millions Jews the State of Israel was born.  I am comfortable in saying that the majority of Jews I have known over the years have preferred peace over conflict.  That being said, sometimes you must fight fire with fire, and if that means those who protect you must choose between your safety or the safety of others, I thank God that they do what they are designated to do, see to it that the mass murder of Jews never happens again.  If anything, knowing what is at stake, I have grown to increasingly admire Israel’s restraint, and challenge you to find any nation or organization, particularly their enemies that would show anything close to that shown by Israel.

Golda Meir once said the following:

“We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

I urge you to not only read that quote Rabbi Lerner, but to study it, meditate on it, pray on it, and sleep on it.  If after that you don’t restructure your thought process, maybe I will conclude I was incorrect about your intentions, an outcome that will sadden me significantly, but do nothing to change how I and many other Jewish people feel.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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One year

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As the Jewish year of mourning for the passing of my mother officially ends, it is time for me to turn a page.  I will always love my mother, miss her, and remember her who she was and what she gave me.  However, it is now time for me to no longer continuously share those feelings openly. During the past year, whether it was my profile picture on Facebook or the majority of my articles and posts, much of what I put out there was about my mother.  Not only do I not apologize for that, I am glad that I did.  For me, and I emphasize the words “for me”, it was the right way to give her the honor she so rightly deserved.  But now it is time to move on.   Time to make those feelings more personal and to honor and remember her with less display and discussion.  So I finish this year of what in Hebrew is called Avelut, by asking you to indulge me one last time, and read this letter to my mother, that, whether she is able to see it or not, best conveys my feelings.

DISCLAIMER: If I write a book there will be more

Dear Mom,

This  will not be a long letter.  I have said most of what any grateful son would ever say to his mother and have done so on numerous occasions.  What I wish to do in this letter is to end this year of mourning by telling you what I now know to be the greatest gift you’ve given me.

There are things many people have heard me say many times to describe how wonderful you were as a mother and a person.  Your strength in dealing with the toughest circumstances imaginable, your devotion to your family, your love of life, and your positive approach are all accolades many people who knew you speak of.  And rightly so.  But the other day I was speaking with a friend and something they said to me made me realize what was truly the best gift you were able to give to me.  That gift was faith in humanity.

Compared to many my life has been easy.  I have known very little pain and suffering and my personal losses came much later in life than they have for so many people I personally know or am close to.  However, as a thinker who observes the world, it is still relatively easy to be disillusioned by where the world is and where it is going.  You often saw the future of the world through concerned eyes and feared the rise of evil such as the evil you saw in your early years. And yet, on a daily basis, whether it was in your bank, the supermarket, your synagogue, or dealing with friends or family, you found the good, not so much to satisfy yourself philosophically, but merely to bring joy to your life.  You often saw the good in people most people had given up on, and you found a different way to appreciate and enjoy everyone who was at least somewhat open to it.  Most of all you believed in love.  You believed in it so strongly that your belief transferred over to anyone whose heart was open to it.

So as I complete not just the official year of mourning, but the sharing of my feelings regarding you and your passing, I say thank you for showing me the value of patience and love, and in teaching me how to have faith in humanity, even when it is most difficult.  That faith and belief in people and in love was such a large part of what drove you till the end of your life, and I thank you for showing me how that was possible, and hope to use that knowledge to share love and happiness with others for as long as I live.

With love always,

David

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FOX News. Donald Trump’s media bodyguard

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I do not spend as much time bashing Trump as I used to because as a Jew and a Zionist I recognize some of the positive things that have happened makes it a little more complicated, but I have said for quite some time anyway that the bigger problem than Trump himself is his followers. It gets no worse and more treacherous than FOX News. Or should I say FOX Editorial. Whenever there is big news I go to the websites of both CNN and FOX News. FOX consistently makes sure that bad news towards Trump is overshadowed by another story. But rather than asserting my opinion on you, I ask the following question. What is bigger news? Rex Tillerson getting fired or what FOX headlined, and I mean this is the first story you see when you go to the site, (Hillary) “Clinton goes all the way to India to blame deplorables, husbands, sons and bosses for loss”? Clearly what the loser of the the last presidential election is saying is bigger news to American Pravda, aka FOX News, than the Secretary of State getting fired. Because that news doesn’t make their guy look bad at all. That’s not news, that’s propaganda, and it honestly scares me more than anything Donald Trump has said or done.

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The Year of the Bird: Fly Eagles Fly

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So this is it. This is the article I wrote before the Super Bowl but dared not publish at risk of being accused of jinxing the Philadelphia Eagles in their quest to win the big game. The truth is that with my personal track record I do no believe that anything I do, nothing I say or ceremonious action I take will impact the outcome of this game.  Why do I say this? Because of all the teams I support in all major sports and all leagues or tournaments worldwide, the last team to win a championship was the 1986 Mets. Until, and remember I am writing this a little over 3 hours before kickoff, the Philadelphia Eagles change that and end my personal sports drought tonight at the conclusion of this year’s Super Bowl.
So how is it that I sit here with such certainty and confidence that today is the day my team wins the big one?  Well it does have something to do with the fact that this Eagles teams is definitely good enough.  As far as players on the field go, the only area where no one questions the Patriots advantage is at Quarterback.  Nick Foles has played great for the Eagles and it is not an impossibility that he winds up being the best player on the field today, but the reality is that Tom Brady is arguably the best to ever play the game and has the advantage going in. The rest of the team is at worst equal and in some areas a good case can be made that Philly has the edge.  But none of this is the reason the Eagles win today.  It’s more about destiny and something far more mystical than the skill of the players.  It’s about the year of the bird.
On April 19th of this past year my mother passed away.  For the record, she not only was not a fan of football, she hated football.  And I mean hated, Almost with a passion.  She would constantly criticize its violence and loved to make the point that it was not really football,  Soccer she would say is the only real football.  This other sport was just a bunch of grown men hitting each other and falling on the ground like a bunch of idiots. So yes, she hated football.  But she loved her children. And to some of her children this win would be special,  and when someone saw me with my Eagles cap this past week  and said “Go Birds”, I thought of my mother, whose name was Sipora, the Hebrew word for bird, I knew the Eagles would win the Super Bowl.
Naturally there will be those among you who see this as a ridiculous basis for believing your team will be victorious and that’s OK. You don’t have to believe.  All I know is this. Since 1986 a lot has happened in the world and in my life.  Too much to mention.  What has not happened is that a team I put my support behind can call itself the champion. Until today, when the Philadelphia Eagles, the birds win the Super Bowl. In a year filled with incidents of divine intervention, is so hard to believe this is one more example?  Maybe to you, but not to me.
To whoever is responsible for today’s win I end with these 2 words.  Thank you!
Fly Eagles Fly!

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On Mom’s Birthday

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As I wish everyone a Happy New Year, I also must acknowledge that today January 1 would have been my mother’s 96th birthday.  A little over a year ago when we discussed with her how to celebrate her 95th birthday she made it very clear that what she wanted was a party at home and a party that she would organize and plan.  Details of the party aside, it should be deemed a success because she was very happy with the outcome and had a wonderful time.  This is important, together with the picture I chose for this piece, because it magnifies the true way to remember her on her first birthday not together with us on this earth.

Being happy isn’t always easy.  Being happy takes work.  You can throw caution to the wind, make very little effort to make your life more fulfilling and pleasing, but the only way you truly stand a chance at being happy is to want it passionately and make the efforts needed to increase the likelihood.  This was a lesson I learned from my mother, a woman who experienced hardships that would have broken most of us.  I learned this not as much from the words she spoke as much as the actions she took.  This, maybe more than anything would be how she would want to be remembered today.

I know from conversations I have had, that my mother’s spiritual impact since she has passed has not only been significant for me but it has been significant for many.  Her death was relevant to us all, but her existence for us now is not about death, it’s about a living soul, a soul that has outlived the body and is still very much with us.  Is this a reflection of her true pursuit of happiness and fulfillment, or is it the other way around.  Was my mother’s powerful spirit, at its roots, what drove her to work to a better and happier life?

I am not sure that question can ever be answered, but I do know this.  On this January 1st, even as we miss her tremendously, if we haven’t done so already we should all lift up our glasses and celebrate and smile when thinking about her, not cry or mourn.  She gave us a lot of reason to do so and would have wanted nothing less.

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Open Letter to Larry David

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Dear Larry,

I am sad to say that you have the exceptional distinction of being the first Jewish individual I have written to regarding actions or remarks damaging to the Jewish people.  Before I start allow me to make a critical point so you know who you have offended.  I am a Liberal with a sense of humor.  I am very tolerant, very accepting and I like a good laugh.  Even at my own expense.  Sometimes especially at my own expense.  If you offend a Trump supporting angry Conservative it would be hard to make a case for that to mean anything, but to offend me? Well I guess you can say to do that you really had to have made an effort.

You see Larry, there is funny, and then there is disgusting.  Your remarks this past Saturday night on SNL were disgusting.  They reflect what can only be a personal disdain for who you are where you come from.  The comments were so bad that I do not need to do any additional research on you to attack you for them.  I don’t care how much charity you may or may not have given, or kindnesses you may or may not have shown till now, the comments you made both about Jewish sexual deviants and the Holocaust were so damaging, insulting and hurtful to the Jewish people as a whole, there is nothing you can say or do to justify them.  Not to mention the fact that there was absolutely nothing funny about them.

You chose your monologue on Saturday Night Live to declare how many of the perpetrators of sexual harassment are Jewish.  Did you do it to help the victims?  Did you do it because it upsets you? No.  You did it because you felt it would get a laugh.  You decided to appeal to the lowest of the low at the expense of your own people.  Are you proud of yourself today?  I’m not blind. I see how far too many of the guilty are Jews.  But did you do this on an interview where you expressed concern in order to possibly help change things as they are? Again no.  You did it on SNL because  somehow you felt it appropriate to joke about the sexual deviants within the Jewish community.  If you had taken a moment to think about this you might have realized the last thing the Jewish world needs today is a famous Jewish comedian singling out his own people.

Your follow up to these comments just went on to prove how much of your motivation may be in self-hatred.  For anyone to make light of the death of 6 million people of his own religion indicates a dangerously sick disconnect.  I want you to take a moment, close your eyes and imagine every one you care about, all your family and closest friends suddenly murdered.  Now take it one step further and imagine how some, if not all of them were raped or tortured before they were murdered.  Stop and realize how many people could close their eyes and open them up to the same devastation. When you finish doing this I would like you to please tell me what part of this you find funny?  What part of this belongs in a comedy routine?  If you think any of it is or does, I would say you are not merely a self-hating Jew, you are a sick man as well.

I used to like you Larry. I found much of what you said to be funny.  However, after what I heard come out of your mouth I not only find you to be anything but funny, I find you to be detrimental to the Jewish people and even a little dangerous.  I can turn off the TV and never have to listen to or watch you again.  But you have to live with your self-loathing.  If I was not so angry with you I’d feel sorry for you.

Sincerely,

David Groen

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