Crazy times

Joseph Aaron

Is it me or is the world getting crazier and crazier.

It sure feels like it. Each and every day it feels like it. We are seeing crazy stuff all around us all the time, things we never could have imagined, never would have believed

Yes, technology plays a part in the craziness, especially the wild wests of Facebook and Twitter where anyone anywhere can say anything about anyone and it can catch fire in a second, be all around the world after going ‘viral’ and spawn literally tens of thousands of reactions, most of course very nasty.

But technology or not, something clearly seems to be happening. When you have Bill Cosby, the beloved comedian who made millions laugh for decades, be sentenced to jail for being a sexually violent predator, you know the world seems to have lost its moorings. When you have  a nominee for the Supreme Court talk about when he did and didn’t have sex, talk about how he behaved when he was drunk, you know you are seeing things we have never seen before, could never have imagined we would ever see.

I really don’t want to talk about #metoo and sexual harassment this time, but I just do have to yet again raise the question of why so many of those found to be perpetrators of it are Jews. Indeed, I was thrilled Cosby and Kavanaugh were at the center of it for a few days because it meant that for a change some big macher Jew was not.

Indeed, since I last brought this up, we had Les Moonves, a Jew and relative of David Ben Gurion’s wife, have to resign as the head of CBS because of his treatment of women. And it isn’t just confined to Jews in America. I was quite disturbed to learn that no less than the official spokesman for the prime minister of Israel, David Keyes, had to take a leave of absence after a number of women accused him of sexual misconduct.

No I’m not pinning this one on Bibi, not criticizing Bibi. I am expressing amazement that this sickness seems so pervasive among Jewish men that even the official spokesman of the prime minister of Israel is caught up in it. And I am expressing sadness that the Jewish world doesn’t seem to grasp how disgusting this kind of behavior is.

Indeed, we learned that Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, was warned about the spokesman with concerns about him going back five years. And yet Dermer did not pass on the information to the Prime Minister’s Office because, he said, Keyes’ behavior did not constitute criminal conduct. Is that how low Judaism has sunk.  Does something have to be criminal for us to call it out, for a top Israeli official to warn those in the prime minister’s office who they had in their midst.

When I read that, I found myself amazed that things have gotten so rotten in the state of Judaism, but what’s crazy about the times in which we are living is that the Jewish world is filled with so much going on that is good, so much of it hard to believe.

To take just a quick jog through just a few of the things that have occurred among the Jews in America in just the last week or two, you find the following.

Michelle Obama officiated at the wedding of a Jewish couple under a traditional Jewish wedding canopy, or chuppah. A former first lady being involved in a Jewish wedding, right here in Chicago. Not something you have ever seen but such is today’s Jewish world.

And then we had news that Jewish rookie quarterback Josh Rosen will start for the Arizona Cardinals.  Rosen, the team’s first-round draft pick, had a bar mitzvah and attends Seder every Passover. It’s not every day a Jew is drafted in the first round and not very often you have a Jew as starting quarterback for an NFL team. But this is the age of seeing things we never thought we would.

And then there is the news that the biggest spender in all of American politics is big time Jewish macher Sheldon Adelson who, along with his wife, Miriam, have given $55 million in the last few months to groups working to ensure Republican control of the House and Senate after the midterm elections.

And at the same time, we had two very prominent Jewish billionaires, who have long been Republican supporters, Seth Klarman and Leslie Wexner, announce that because of Trump they would no longer be giving to Republicans but working to get Democrats elected.

So we had one Jewish billionaire who loves Trump and is spending more than anyone else to elect those who will support him, while two other Jewish billionaires feel and are doing the exact opposite. Jews make up less than two percent of the population of this country and yet look at our outsized role. Something amazing to behold and even more amazing is that other than the lunatics on the internet you aren’t seeing all kinds of stereotypes about Jews and money and power.

And then we had the release of a clip showing Israeli actress Gal Gadot making a cameo appearance on the first episode of “The Simpsons” 30th season. Mislead yourselves all you want about how everyone is out to get the Jews, is unfair to the Jews, but here you had an Israeli actress on “The Simpsons,” the longest-running American sitcom.

And then we had a professor at the University of Michigan who refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student who wanted to study abroad at Tel Aviv University, citing his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the country.

Not a good thing. But very soon after, you had a very good thing that really highlighted how much support Israel has in this country. Fifty-eight organizations called on the University of Michigan to sanction professors who implement academic boycotts of Israel. 58. On our side.

And then news that Tech executive Marc Benioff announced plans to buy Time magazine shortly after he blew the shofar at his San Francisco synagogue. Benioff sounded the ram’s horn during Rosh Hashanah services before heading with other congregants to a nearby beach to take part in tashlich, the annual casting away of sins.

Soon after, Benioff and his wife announced that he was buying the fabled news magazine for $190 million. A shofar blowing Jew buying the iconic Time magazine and nary a peep about Jews controlling the media.
And then inspiring news of Jews helping Jews.  Jewish families in Wilmington, North Carolina, were able to eat a kosher meal before the start of Yom Kippur after the Chabad synagogue in nearby Charlotte was able to arrange the arrival of a helicopter carrying 150 pounds of kosher food.

After days with no contact due to Hurricane Florence, Rabbi Yossi Groner of Ohr HaTorah was able to speak by telephone to Rabbi Moshe Leiblich of the Chabad of Wilmington. Leiblich requested that he find a way to send kosher food. A truck full of kosher food sent from Raleigh after the hurricane first hit had been turned away by authorities because of dangerous road conditions.

Groner’s son, Ben Tzion, contacted a friend who is a helicopter mechanic and was able to secure a helicopter. It arrived at the airport in Wilmington the afternoon before Yom Kippur, carrying kosher chicken and dairy products as well as ready-to-eat meals, which were delivered to families preparing for Yom Kippur.

“It was tremendous, and certainly a relief,” Leiblich said. “It gave us kosher meat until the stores are back to normal.”

And then we had Texas, not usually thought of as a Jew loving state. High school textbooks in Texas have blamed the Arab world for its conflict with Israel — and they will continue to do so following a review of the state’s public school curriculum.

The Texas State Board of Education voted to keep a social studies requirement that high school students learn that “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict” in the section on “the rise of independence movements in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia and reasons for ongoing conflicts.”

Just how much we and our ways are accommodated was seen also when the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox met in a rare midweek day game in the Bronx on the eve of Yom Kippur. The game was scheduled for 1 p.m. in order to avoid conflicting with Judaism’s holiest day of the year.

And at the recent Emmy Awards, one of the most Jewish shows ever to be on TV, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” about a Jewish housewife turned stand-up comedian, won nearly every award for which it was nominated, including best comedy, best writing for a comedy series, best directing for a comedy series and best actress in a comedy. The show gobbled up eight awards in total.

And then there was this. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to run for president in 2020 as a Democrat. And if you think the country might not be in the mood for another billionaire from New York, think again.

“If I was a Democrat strategist and somebody said to me, ‘Who do you want to be the Democrat nominee for president of the United States?’ there’s only one name I would choose and his name is Michael Bloomberg,” former Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski said.

So who knows, in 2020 we might have our first Jewish president. As is very clear, we are living in a time and in a country where strange things are happening every single day, so why not that.

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