Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rosh Hashanah

I was saddened to read in a Sun editorial the other day that there are only 13 million Jews in the world today.

There are at least ten cities in China that have larger populations than 13 million people.

The Jewish population in most countries, including Canada is much less than one per cent.

As a Jew, and a typical modern Jew in many ways, I was shocked by these numbers.

Yet, look at our disproportionate contributions.

In music, medicine and science, Jews have been extraordinary leaders for the past century.

Hollywood was and is a Jewish business.

The list of Jewish violinists, pianists, composers, conductors and singers is long and legendary.

Half the inventions in both I.T. and medical technology have come in recent years from Israel.

And make no mistake about it, the future of the Jews is in Israel.

Because those of us in the diaspora -scattered here and yon in every country in the world - are not, by and large, holding the faith.

The reason that we will celebrate the year 5769 next week, the reason that Judaism has survived almost 6,000 years, is that the religion and its customs are in the home.

Daily ritual and observance are at the table and the wash basin and the bedroom. Blessings and thanks are built into the natural rhythms of the day.

The problem, of course, is that few North American Jews have the discipline or desire to keep to the path.

Like the Chinese, we are adept at blending in to any culture and succeeding on that society's terms, while still honoring our deeply felt histories.

And like any wandering peoples, we increasingly intermarry, change our names, join the golf clubs and make observance only an occasional tipping of the hat.

I am not an observant Jew.

Yet, I am deeply, profoundly, inevitably Jewish. And happy to be so.

I love study. I love argument. I am a life-long learner. I love food and sex and passion and laughter.

If I knew another way to be, I might consider it. But I don't. This is what I know and I like it.

Even in the shadow of History's One Great Horror, the Holocaust, I am proud and happy to be a Jew.

I just didn't know, in my ignorance, that there were so few of us.

Score One

To give him his due...

John McCain may have lost the debate the other night handily, but he did get off the occasional funny line.

This was my favorite.

"I've looked Putin in the eye, and I saw three letters - KGB."

Not enough to win an election, but, hey, these are desparate times.

It's like looking for a good moment in an Owen Wilson movie.

Three Bears

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, Representative Barney Frank, center, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., and Senator Harry Reid, early Sunday.

I have one question.

How high is your confidence in these geniuses to solve this problem?

Weren't all four of them long in place while this madness was going on?

I have really reached the point where I find almost all politicians to be disgraceful fakes.

Officials said Congressional staff members would work to finalize the language of an agreement that would include pay limits for executives and require the government to do more to prevent foreclosures.

But yesterday a news report advised that there were many "executives" who had been on Wall Street for less than a year who would walk away from the fire with millions in compensation.