Friday, July 8, 2016

The Sun is not quite so sunny today

As I think about my last days at camp and two hours from the start of Shabbat festivities I am carrying around the pain and anguish that has become too common in my life as of late.  Two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were shot by police in what most people feel were situations that did not require deadly force.  I hope that a transparent investigation brings justice.  I fear that too often it appears that justice is not easily found, because the situations are not easily understood in light of media outrage and platitudes.  These two, the last in a long line of African Americans killed by police in situations that have raised questions.  So last night, as I tried to sleep I checked my phone to find some people had decided to attack police officers in Dallas, TX.  Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, and Michael Krol are among the names as I have not read the other two.

What has brought us to this point?  I am not sure.  I have seen people blame President Obama, Black Lives Matter, and even Israel.  Seriously that last one threw me.  I have seen people blame the gun culture, the failure of understanding others who are different, systemic racism and even male aggression.

This cultural disease cannot be boiled down to one thing, and while we see patterns, we must see each case on its own.  Trying to push blame on someone or one ideology is ridiculous.  We make up the culture, we choose what to let be the topic of the day and we choose what we will work on.

What strikes me hard is that the Dallas Police Department has worked hard in recent years to address the issues raised by the apparent injustice against African Americans.  Through training, promotion of black officers and community engagement they have reduced charges of excessive force and have built bridges into the black community.

Joe Walsh, a former Republican member of the House of Representative who now has a radio tweeted that he declared war on Black Lives Matter and the President of the United States.  This ignorant fool who has his own personal problems in life, shared a voice seen by many, from the White Supremacists to angry suburbanites looking to lash out.

In both cases the anger is misdirected and in both cases dangerous.  The first took the lives of 5 officers and the second could inspire the same.  But that is not the answer and nor should it be.

We can be angry today, but that anger should be channeled into changing how we think.  There will always be people who will try to destroy order for their own gains.  They must be stopped.  There will always be people who hate a group or individual because of their races, ethnicity, religion, who they love etc.  They must be shunned.  There will always be people who think the answer to a problem is violence.  They must be stopped.  There will always be people who cannot and will not reason things out, they must be isolated from others.  We have the power.  Stop praying about it and do something.

If you have problems with the police, make an appointment and have some talk to  you.  If you don't understand why someone is wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, ask them.  If either are too angry to be helpful, find someone who isn't.  Build community connections between you and people who you currently see as different, other, or outside of your comfort zone.  You will be surprised what  you learn and what might happen when you build bridges.

The answer to violence is not more violence.  The answer to violence is to create a culture where violence is shunned and suppressed.  It is our responsibility.  All of Us.  All we I have been talking about Korach who wanted to over-throw Moses and Aaron as leaders of the Israelites.  We worked with the children on problem solving and the values of a good leaders and how to protest injustice.  It makes me want the whole country to go to camp.  To create these mini-diverse communities where you can learn about others and let your person expression be who you are.  Maybe then today I would be able to see more colors in the sky and feel more ready for Shabbat.



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Don't Say Moderate Muslims

I had planned to write about the string of events that made up my weekend.  An Iftar dinner on Friday night, where I shared a table with an Evangelical pastor and a Mormon family and the President of Al Salem, a mosque community in Carmel, IN.  An interfaith community sharing the breaking of the daily fast with 300 people in a school gymnasium that for the evening served as an Islamic community center.  Our Congressman, Andre Carson came and spoke briefly about his continued commitment to diversity and prophetically mentioned the LGBT community as an expanded view of how Muslims in America should strive to continue to embrace diversity.  On Saturday night my 10th grade performed their cantata on diversity in the microcosm of their class with a variety of differences that can both be seen and not directly in the class.  Part of our Shavuot celebration the students rose as one but expressed their joy of being individuals among the oneness of their class, their Judaism and their country.  So Sunday morning came as a kick in the head.

Sunday was our anniversary and so I made breakfast for Dianne.  I take my time with it and so I didn't even check my phone until later when I expected to watch the Sunday morning news shows. (a guilty pleasure for me when I don't have Religious School).  I was shocked at what I saw and continued to be shocked by as I processed the fact the so many had been killed by a lone gunman, attacking people at their most vulnerable and at a place of fun and joy.  But that was the start of it all.

From the jump there was a clear attempt to get political gain from this tragedy and I watched as people like Donald Trump seemed to wish it was a Muslim who did this.  When it turned out it was he took a virtual victory lap.  Now that is sickening in and of itself but since he has lied about the gunman saying he was a foreigner, (he was born in New York) that he was sent by ISIS, (he wasn't even on their radar though they claimed him in hindsight) and he went so far as to suggest that the President of the United States was somehow involved.  His despicable rhetoric is terrible and rightfully attacked but that wasn't the worst of it.  He is a foul-mouthed bigot who while the leader of the GOP for the next few weeks, (Cleveland will be interesting) it is the others who try appearing anti-terrorist and say ridiculous things out loud, in front of people.

So a little tutorial.  The fundamental nature of ISIS or ISIL or DEISH is not religious but political and it is not Islamic.  Let me be clear, they use Islam in the same way that the kings of the middle ages in Europe, Slavers in the Americas and the Apartheid governments of South Africa used Christianity. Twisted and turned to the point where it is believable that it comes from a place of faith but we all know that they are simply deranged by the lust of power and control.  Actions they take do not adhere to the teaching of Islam though often fit the cartoon notions of the uninformed masses who fear the other.

Now, days after the attack in Orlando, we are finding out more about this supposed militant Muslim. It turns out he may have been struggling with his own inner demons as a closeted gay man.  He may well have been more motivated by his own self-hate and saw the last minute allegiance to the ISIS ideology as a way to give his life meaning.  We don't really know but he was certainly not a trained fighter for the cause.  But that won't stop the nonsense that will fill our Facebook feeds and  Twitter streams and more and more the daily news.

So let's start pushing back.  Let's hold people fully accountable for what they post, say and do online. Let's call, write and respond to news people who pass along nonsense as fact and give forums to the conspiracy nuts, even if they are a major party's nominee.  Let's start with putting to bed the term MODERATE MUSLIM.  There are Muslims, and there are Muslims who act out in non-Islamic ways that pervert the culture and religion of Islamic people today.  Much like there are Christians who kill and applaud killing of certain people, and Jews and probably Hindus and Wiccans etc. etc etc.  No one I know calls the local pastor a moderate Christian because he isn't part of the Christian Identity movement so why should we call the local Imam a moderate simply because he isn't a terrorist.  It is unacceptable for that to be the narrative.  It presupposes that any Muslim you meet is a terrorist unless they prove otherwise.  That, by definition, is bigotry.  Yet there it is.  Language defines culture, it always has.  When we name something then it gives it the power of the name. By the way, that is why President Obama chooses carefully how he refers to terrorist organizations but that if for another time.  We will not solve the problems of those using Islam as a sword unless we have Muslim help and we won't get that if we live in an us/them culture.  One of my good friends is a devote Muslim and another is a man whose practice of Islam means giving up alcohol during Ramadan.  Neither is a terrorist and both are funny, wise, family men and on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  I would never say the way they walk in this world is moderate.  They are truly part of the many faces of Muslim Americans who cannot and will never be part of any organization that thinks killing is the answer to differences.  Though both have sharp tongues when needed and one makes a living off of his.

Remember, the attack in Orlando, tragic, worst of its kind in our history and devastating because the attack was on a community that regularly suffers the bigotry of many was not the only attacks even in Orlando.  A man shot and killed Christina Grimlee a few days before in Orlando and was armed to take out others but was stopped and killed himself.  Another man was traveling with explosives and guns from Indiana and when arrested said he was going to LA's Gay Pride parade.  Hate comes in many stripes so we should be aware that when we choose to look at only one kind of hate, we choose not to see all the others.

The world is more connected than ever before in history and with the power to reach out we must push back against the perpetual rage machine that promotes the bigotry that has become mainstream. So let's start by challenging those that seem to think that if you are Muslim and not a terrorist then your Islam's description must some how be modified.  Let's start calling those Muslims who pervert the faith with a moniker that steals away the Islamic title they so desperately want to own as the only form of Islam.  I am open to suggestions but for me they are simply bloodthirsty thugs.  And Friday night, as people welcomed me, thanked me for joining them, fed me and acknowledged my presence from the stage I was with the real Muslims.  The Muslims who matter and make up the vast majority of the world's Muslim population.  That is what matters.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Are We Finally Going To Be Able to Talk About Rape

Brock Turner, a former Stanford student and athlete, was convicted of felony sexual assault.  A possible prison sentence turned into a sentence of six months of jail time and three years probation because the judge thought prison would be too difficult and screw up the rapist's life.  The rapist's father referred to the assault as "20 minutes of action" as opposed to the rest of his life when he wasn't raping unconscious women.  This has sparked, rightfully so, outrage.

Let me be clear, 30 years ago as a peer sexuality educator I did workshops on campus rape.  This has been an on-going problem.  Young men will tell you that it is difficult to know sometimes when a woman means no, that they send confusing signals, that they appear to be asking for it.  Men are also taught it is their job to get her ready and to convince her to have sex. (think about how society teaches men about their role in sexuality or listen to Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke) But here is a simple rule. If the person you are having sex with can't respond to simple questions, open their eyes, or enjoy it because he or she is unconscious it is rape.  What this rapist did is not something that can be mitigated by circumstance, he was in the middle of raping a woman behind a dumpster and was caught.  His so-called 20 minutes of action was crime, a terrible crime, and the judge in this case basically said to the world and especially to women that men are gonna rape you and you should get over it.

You can argue that alcohol was involved and the rapist's judgement was impaired.  In college the drinking age was not yet 21 and there was a lax attitude toward drinking on campus.  My first job was pouring beers as campus events.  I, and none of my friends, ever were drunk enough to not see a passed out girl as someone who was consenting and if we were the alcohol would be an inhibitor to actually being able to engage in sexual intercourse.  Frankly the few times that rumors came up that a guy was trying to get with a drunk girl my friends clearly saw it as wrong. But for others, it is part of the college life that we have come to expect.

So why don't we talk about it more?  I think because we don't want to acknowledge or give energy to the fact that young people, living together, unsupervised will find each other attractive and engage in sexual behavior that is often outside the context of a relationship.  Should they or not is not for this discussion.  They do.  How they interact with each other and respect each other in the process is what is key.  But when we talk about rape prevention so often we talk about it in the context of women learning self-defense, not walking alone at night, even not drinking alcohol at a party.  We have to start talking about the fact that women are not the problem here.  This rapist took advantage of a woman who was doing exactly the same thing he was, having fun at a party.  Did she drink too much?  I don't know.  Was she dosed with something?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I want to live in a society where a person can make a mistake and get drunk and that doesn't make him or her available to anyone who wants to sexually assault him or her.

Every time a rapist, like this guy, is treated like the victim of his own actions or I hear someone say that he has suffered enough doesn't understand the situation.  The judge and his father sound like monsters to most of the world.  As well they should.  I find the judge to be an accomplice after-the-fact, running cover for this rapist.  But maybe it sparks a better conversation, Maybe we can now see that we have to talk about this in a more holistic context.  Maybe we won't be so quick to judge women who drink, wear thongs, dance suggestively, or simply have a foul mouth when they are raped.  Maybe we won't try to prevent rape by simply trying to lock up women or forcing them to take on the responsibility of the actions and maybe we can see that the justice system has been so devastating toward women so often in rape cases.  Maybe we can have a national discussion.  Thirty years ago we did workshops to show this.  I fear we wasted a generation.  I am moved by the outrage over this miscarriage of justice and mercy.  But outrage feels good, action does good.  Talk to your children about appropriate behavior.  Talk to your schools, houses of worship, sports coaches, anyone to help change the narrative.  Women should not have to wear chastity belts to avoid being raped when they want to have fun at a party.  And men should know that if the woman can't talk she didn't say yes.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Where Do They Go?

Imagine you are a woman who pops into a public restroom only to see a person standing at the sink, a person in work boots, jeans, leather vest, and a well trimmed beard.    Or you are a man you walk in and see a long-haired, large breasted person in a flowing dress putting on make-up.  In both cases you make an immediate gender decision for that person and you will likely think they are in the wrong bathroom.  You would be right, but state laws are making their decision to go to the right bathroom a crime.  The laws actually go beyond that, but for my purposes I am just going to talk about the restroom law.  That is right, laws are passing that require transgender people to use the bathroom of the sex they were declared at birth.

For the vast majority of humans we are boy one of two sexes.  The culture we are born in defines how that biological state will play out in our express of our identity which is our gender.  However there have always been people who are born who feel they want to express themselves differently that their culture defines them.  In some cases those people are seen as a separate gender and often holy.  Other cultures demonize them and sadly kill them.  Now let's be clear, this is not being gay, this is someone who deeply and early on feel an internal identity to a gender that does not match their biological sex.

I don't fully understand it because I don't feel that way.  But I know it is real and while  it is a tiny percent of humanity but that does not mean it is insignificant.  I encounter regularly at least three people who are in various stages of transition about once a week, and those are the ones I know about.  How many more have transitioned who have not shared their story?  Just think if 1/2 of 1% of the American population is transgender that is still 1.6 million Americans.  That is more than the number of Japanese Americans.  So when people complain about that it is a tiny number of people who are seeking safety, rights and dignity just think about what happened when our country decided that the Japanese didn't deserve to keep their rights.  That was a painful part of our history.  Do we want to repeat it with another group?

The thing is that bathroom issues are not new.  I remember back in the 80s going to the Generic Bar in Syracuse and they had a men's room, women's room, and a restroom for those who didn't fit those categories. So people of different gender identities have been dealing with this discomfort and even back then the counter-culture of the G-Bar and many other places made their customers more comfortable.  Over the decades, as we come to recognize the reality of transgender and it is becoming more mainstream and retailers and government are responding to meet the growing need of our culture.

There is an argument that boys in schools and men in public will pretend to be transgender to use a bathroom to prey on girls and women in the ladies room.  This of course is a serious concern but a man could dress like a women now and sneak in and in fact many have, many more have not bothered and have hidden in women's bathrooms to attack women. There is no evidence of a transgender person attacking anyone in a public restroom or locker room and a boy who pretends to be transgender to get access to a girls' locker room would have to deal with the bigotry most transgender students see and would not be worth a peak at naked girls.  There would be an easier way.  In fact a transgender person is more likely to be attacked by someone who is driven by fear, hate, and anger be in a public restroom or a school yard.  Bigotry is a major motivator and since the start of this current rage and new laws several women who appear masculine have been attacked in public restrooms.

Our culture is becoming more accepting of difference and things we didn't know were happening are out in the open.  You have likely shared a public restroom with a transgender person.  It is safe.  Passing laws that attack a group of people because you are uncomfortable is cowardly, bigoted and anti-American.  We should be more vocal about it.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fact Free Election

People seem surprised by the impending nomination of Donald Trump as the GOP candidate for President and frankly I am one of them.  You see I had more faith in the Republican electorate.  A misplaced faith for sure. I know that there has always been an element of the right in this country who voted based not on the reality that is but on the voices of the right wing noise machine that dominate radio and permeate the airwaves on Fox News and at times the other 24 hour news channels.  I am not talking about opinion.  I respect people who make arguments about the role of government being too big in regulating commerce or that we should perhaps slow our roll on social change.  Those are things we can argue over.  But when someone just blathers on about things that are blatantly untrue, that is where I think they are doing a disservice to the country.

From websites to TV shows we have made it commonplace to assume something is made up by people under a brand we used to trust.  That is the beginning of the failure of the republic because the news and information industry has a public trust to keep the people informed.  Now it is more about keeping the people enraged.  We know everyone is troubled by bias in the media.  The right has long complained (often without merit) of left-wing media.  Recently a rumor about Facebook, a social media platform, was culling conservative news.  They used that term.  There shouldn't be conservative news, there should be news and a conservative analysis.  For example:

Hillary Clinton used a private email server while Secretary of State, the Justice Department and FBI are looking if any laws were broken.  That is news.  Everything is true and straight forward.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used an illegal server she kept in her bathroom closet putting US secrets in jeopardy and violating Federal Law.  Well there may be truth there but it is so biased it tells you that she is convicted of a crime, when she hasn't been even charged.

This is the landscape we are in, so in comes Trump.  Trump was given a great deal of coverage over the last 9 months on most morning news programs and networks.  Often people would treat his nonsense that he spewed laughingly and in fact lauded his rudeness on the campaign trail and his complete and utter disregard for facts.  Rarely, if ever, would an interviewer challenge him to his face and or ask for evidence.  Be it that there is no manufacturing in this country anymore (it is up 51% since 2009) or that the delegate process is rigged against him personally. (his ignorance was the cause of some of his failures).  But this isn't new.  These same shows entertained their audience with this guy with his racist and frankly disgusting attacks on President Obama, claiming he had evidence that he wasn't born in the United States.  Something they still let him get away with today when he won't answer where that so-called evidence is.

So where are we today?  Trump has decimated the GOP field, a weak one by many standards, but did have former and sitting Governors, Senators, and real party leaders. But more and more the people bought into the Trump narrative about the country and about his opponents.  In Indiana there was an exchange between Senator Ted Cruz and some Trump supporters.  Many of them were just yelping phrases Trump used in his rallies.  But at one point the spokesperson of the group asked Senator Cruz what he would do about the 2nd amendment.  Now let me pause right here.  Gun control is a small issue even in the Democratic primary and a non-issue for the GOP because they are all pro-gun.  In fact even those who have argued for common sense gun laws ran away from their former positions.  But Ted Cruz is the poster child for the NRA.  Senator Cruz when Solicitor General of Texas wrote an amicus brief signed by 31 states in the Heller decision that put to rest the 2nd amendment's questions about individual right and later extended to the states under Miller.   Also Sen. Cruz made a campaign video of him shooting an automatic weapon wrapped in bacon, which the heat of firing cooked.  To ask Senator Cruz what he would do about the 2nd amendment (which hasn't been in jeopardy by anyone lately) is a level of ignorance on the issues that can't be arrived at on one's own but cultivated by nonsense masquerading as information.

Throughout the campaign statements made by Trump have been beyond false and waded into the land of the ridiculous.  He repeated a false story about General Pershing saying:

In the Philippines more than a century ago, Gen. John Pershing "took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood," and shot 49 Muslim rebels. "The 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem

Let's start by saying this never happened.  It didn't, the only thing close to it as was a letter written years after the events in question and it only spoke of one man being hung above a grade with a dead pig in it.  While this is a common trope when at war with Muslims and I am sure that some people have desecrated bodies using pig blood the thing is that Muslim militant action didn't stop and continued for decades so the whole freaking point of the story isn't true.  So even if you believe it happened the facts are that if it did it didn't stop any Muslim actions.  But Trump knows that his followers don't care if what he is saying is a lie, and that is what is frightening.

In most races for the Presidency, candidates are held accountable to the voters.  In fact the way Trump beat Senator Cruz is by saying he lies all the time.  Irony is a bumper crop from Trump.  Yet focus group, after focus group, seems to not care about Trump's lies.  They know he is lying, they know that his stated ideas are garbage, dangerous and downright insane.  They know that he says things and in the same interview says he never said it.  But they don't care.  They are washed in glow of a carnival barker who is famous and plays Thurston Howell III in real life.

So how do you stop a Trump train.  Well not with facts.  What needs to happen is some how helping a large population that he is dangerous to what they hold dear.  We will never get the unthinking people like the man who questions Senator Cruz's dedication to the 2nd amendment, he is a non-thinker and if Trump is elected and crashes and burns will blame someone else.  We need to reach the smart people who are so upset about Secretary Clinton they will vote for Trump to stop her.  They are the target audience. Logic might work on them.  I don't know, what I do know if that in the end, a Trump Presidency will be a disaster for our country but I fear the Trump campaign might be a disaster for a lot of people's souls.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Adding to the Seder Table Redux.

This is an edited version of a piece I wrote a few years ago, I come to it at the end of Pesach not the beginning because I think we should take time to reflect on what we learned and felt during the last week and on how you made the Seder your own.  I hope you will think about the importance of the ritual and time spent with family, friends and often a few strangers as we celebrate the Exodus story.  

Recently I have noticed a real uptick in the number of items finding their way into the Passover Seder for contemporary Jews.  Last year I wrote about the orange, a symbol originally meant to remind us of the LGBT community's rightful place in Klal Yisrael, which quickly morphed into being about women, with its own apocryphal story.  We had already seen the Kos Miriam, Miriam's cup come to the table to remind us of her role in the redemption of the people. But lately we see more and more produce finding its way to the table.  Olives, a symbol not only of peace but a staple in the Middle East is said to be a symbol of hope for the end of the Arab/Israeli conflict. Locks to reflect on modern slavery, bananas, tomatoes the list goes on.  

One could ask what it happening to us as a people.  We can think of the song Tradition, from Fiddler which pleads we do things because that is the way they have always been done.  That would be a wrong read of both the Seder and the development of what it means to be Jewish.  Tradition, which is not only something we receive from our parents but the gift we give our children, is and should be influenced by every generation.  In the Seder that has clearly been the case.  Look at any 3 Haggadot (Prayer book for the Seder) in any Jewish bookstore and you will see the influence of various times on the service. Things entered and exited over the history and of course important events in the lives of the Jewish people found a reminder and a home in meal.  Right before Pesach my Rabbi, Cantor and I remarked on the changing dynamic of the Matzah of Hope that used to include a picture symbolic of the USSR and called for solidarity with Soviet Jewry.  Others bring in the Shoah (Holocaust) with sections on remember the 6 million.  There are Humanist haggadot that never reference God and some that still leave Moses relegated to a fairly minor character.  Each served a purpose and spoke or continue to speak to a people who see the narrative of the Exodus as meaningful and connect it to the way they see the world.      

Even I have rewritten the section of the service as we begin to close the evening and invite Elijah the Prophet into the home.  First, borrowing from someone else, our Elijah's cup is empty for most of the Seder and we each add a little or our wine to the cup for we all must participate in our own redemption, not wait for a miracle. We also have cleaned up this section.  When we open the door, the lines of Bible we read include "Pour out your wrath on those who do not believe". When Passover was a time when Jews were most vulnerable to being attacked in Christian communities of the Middle Ages this act of defiance was a powerful statement for faith in God and the coming redemption.   However, those words having little meaning to me in my current context, have rewritten it as a call for a true multi-faith expression asking God to pour out God's love to all who seek truth, community and cooperation.  Many haggadot do not translate these words into English others simply eliminate them.  I think it important to at least acknowledge this powerful moment of our past. 

Every year there seems to be a new and trendy expression of something for the Seder table.  But I wonder about all these new things becoming so quickly institutionalized and will they in fact lose their meaning and/or take away from the meaning of the Seder historically.  The orange is a perfect example of how a meaningful act can be so easily be changed to do exactly what it was placed on the Seder plate to avoid.  The orange evolved from an attempt for a group of lesbian students to create their own Seder.  They put a crust of bread on the Seder plate as a powerful message that they were seen as having no place in Jewish life.  Susannah Heschel suggested that gays and lesbians to not violate the community of Judaism as the bread would a Seder but add something different and suggested the orange, including creating a ritual of spitting out the orange's bitter seeds as a way of symbolically spitting out the bigotry and hate.  In less than 10 years the story was changed that a male rabbi was talking about women in the Rabbinate being like bread on the Seder plate and the orange became a symbol of women's roles in Judaism, completely disappearing the importance of the symbol to gays and lesbians.  

Some say the more we generalize the story of the Exodus the more we water down Jewish peoplehood.  The Seder is about us.  It is our narrative, there is enough time in the year to think about the plight of others.  In fact we need be careful as many are trying to decouple Judaism for the land of Israel, the ultimate end of the Passover celebration, NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM means that we long to find the land of our people as a place we too can take ownership of for ourselves.  I am not sure I agree but I do think that as we think about what the Passover Seder means to us we should certainly consider thinking about some questions we sometimes ask at our Seder.

What part of the story is most important?
What part of the story do you like best?
What part of the story is about you?
What part of the story can we leave out and still have the whole story?  


I don't want to argue that the Seder can't be changed, modified, and added to, in fact it always has been and always will be.  I encourage it because it has to be meaning for you.  Being trendy about adding something because a famous Rabbi or your local cool Education Director did it doesn't make the ritual meaningful.  There is a reason we do the Seder in the home, the Seder is yours.  There are rituals far and wide that fit neatly into family Seders.  But in the end the ritual is empty without a clear meaning.  Add more fruits to your seder if you will, ask the questions that prompt us to think beyond ourselves, but do it with great concern and kavannah (intention).  Don't do it to be cool or because that is how it has to be done.  It doesn't.  Remember, we are all supposed to see ourselves as having personally come out of Mitzraim, What is your Mitzraim?

So Trying to Be Funny

 So last time I was a little angry so this post I hope to be a little more lighthearted.  I do hope that you will enjoy my observations.

You know those GE commercials where the engineer who got hired there has all these people who want to work with him?  Would you ever hire someone who sends troll and a elf o-gram.  But I would love if these exist, I would send them for all kinds of things.

I'm a wise elf, from the ogres I hide, this is to tell you your uncle has died.  He liked you a lot, thought you sweet as honey, so in his will he left you some money.  

Call Shark Tank

So pure comedy is the comment section of news stories.  One person wrote:

There was very little or no cyberbullying until there were computers.  Coincidence?

Okay.....think about it.

So I have to weigh into politics a little, Ted Cruz is the comedy gift that keeps on giving.  First last week a story about him as attorney general of Texas argued the you don't have a right to masturbate when defending a Texas law outlawing sex shops.  I imagine that it is consistent because he doesn't think that women have the right to their own bodies anyway, but a former college roommate suggested that this was a new position, so that gives you a mental image no one wants.

Oh and another not a woman appeared on Maury that looked a lot like old Ted

I am expecting this will become a meme for the new Fiorina/Cruz alliance.  Internet you know what to do.

So many Republicans have been losing their minds and passing laws trying to stop transgender individuals from using the bathrooms they feel most comfortable with.  One state even passed a law that contains a bounty to find transsexuals in the bathrooms.  How will that work?  Will  you have to spy on them while they are using the bathroom? Isn't that what they are worried about?  
Oh and some of the same loud voices who would attempt to stop the non-existent attacks of trans people in bathrooms are writing letters of support for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert who did molest children.  So apparently it is okay for these guys to be a predator but not someone who is trying to be truthful to yourself. 

So we can look at a world where a racist, misogynistic, bigot will be the GOP nominee, where American politicians are making the diversity we built this country on illegal in public and we continue to seek scaptgoats for everything and scream, or try to laugh.  So find something funny to enjoy at least once a week.