Saturday, September 27, 2008

You do NOT speak for me

(warning, several of the links below may be deemed inappropriate by many, click them at your own risk)

Sarah Silverman is funny.

She's also Jewish.

Or at least that's what I've been told. Her TV show, The Sarah Silverman Program had one of the most successful debuts in the history of Comedy Central last year. And in case you didn't know, she's Jewish. She worked for Saturday Night Live and has appeared on such comedies as Seinfeld, Frasier and Crank Yankers. Also, she's Jewish. Silverman has been romantically linked to such comedians Dave Attel, Colin Quinn and Jimmy Kimmel. And she's JEWISH. She's been a part of several Comedy Central Roasts, has had her one-woman show turned into a feature film as well as appearing on the cover

of Heeb magazine.


And she'll keep reminding you of that fact in a way that suggests she really is proud of it. Although how proud she could be of her heritage when she's regularly dating guys who are not Jewish themselves may be up for debate, but to each their own. Clearly she has no problem with you knowing that she went to Hebrew school and loves money and has a "tuckess" (because apparently no one ever taught her how to make the chet sound) and loves doctors and has a Holocaust survivor grandmother who was at one of the "better" concentration camps.

Still with me? Because I think that may be the most stereotypes I've ever put into one sentence in my entire life. In any case, our friend Sarah is also a gigantic Obama much so that she's encouraging young Jews to fly down to Florida where their grandparents live, to convince them that just because they're huge racists they can still be ok with voting for a black man because he's the "goodest person we've ever had as a presidential choice" who is apparently "the last hope of ending this country's reputation as the assholes of the universe."

OK terrific.

Politics aside, fact-checking aside, my biggest issue with this video is the same issue I've had with Sarah Silverman for years.

I'm TIRED of this act.

I'm tired of famous JEWS getting on a national stage and acting like just because they make fun of Jewish stereotypes that somehow it qualifies them to speak for the rest of us. And enough with the "tuckess" and the "schmeer" and the "chutzpah" and the "shlep" and the "kvetch" and all those other annoying stereotypical Yiddish phrases that when used, somehow justify the person to speak for the rest of us. It's not just Sarah Silverman, I'm also talking to you Woody Allen and you Barbara Streisand and every other brisket-eating, knish-loving, doctor/lawyer/accountant-admiring, neurotic, big-nosed, walking stereotype out there.

When I see/hear this going on, I cringe the same way I cringed when I heard Rich Vos on Opie and Anthony several months ago, having no answer for the Jewish Banker stereotype.

I mean who elected Sarah Silverman as a representative of the Jewish community anyway? Who elected any of our representatives? In fact, who ARE our representatives for that matter?

All these Hollywood Jews who hog the spotlight? Enough already! What did any of these people do to earn the right to speak for any of us? They have Jewish last names? They've all seen Fiddler on the Roof? They say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas? What, exactly qualifies them to speak for us? What have they done to advance Jews, Judaism or our homeland, the state of Israel? What do they even know about this culture that they claim to love so much?

Because they certainly aren't doing very much to break down those stereotypes that have held us down for thousands of years. Rather, they're perpetuating them. Not by making jokes...but by not supporting the causes that they should be supporting. The causes that actually affect our future.

The Streisands and Silvermans and Allens of the world want us to allow them to speak for us as Jews who are comfortable with their heritage? Where are they on issues such as the future status of Jerusalem (our ancient capital of 3,000 years)? Where are they on issues such as the thousands upon thousands of rocket attacks on Sderot and the Western Negev? Where are they on issues such as the continuing Gilad Shalit hostage crisis - now in its 826th day! Where are they on such topics as intermarriage and what the the future of Jewish identity in America will be?




.......silence. Nothing. Zero.

And the reason for this? Because these people have NO CLUE what Jewish identity even is! Jewish identity to these people is knishes and briskets and oy vey. Jewish culture is lox and hava nagila and banker stereotypes. Gilad Shalit doesn't matter to these people because he does not even EXIST in their worlds. How can he? He doesn't talk or walk or act anything like them.

But he exists in MY world. And in my world there's a lot more to being Jewish than having a big nose and fat bank account.

So don't tell ME who to vote for Sarah or Woody or Barbara. Don't tell ME what Jews should or should not do at all for that matter.

You want to know who to talk to about being Jewish? An Israeli soldier. A Holocaust survivor. The convert who voluntarily left their family behind to be one of us. The rabbi who has devoted his entire life to learning about Judaism, teaching it to a new generation and showing young Jews what this ancient culture is really about. The Zionist activist who raises money for victims of terror attacks in Israel. These are the people that should speak for us...people who understand the concept of SACRIFICING something for the betterment of the sons and daughters of Israel. Not these spoiled, self-absorbed, vapid, shallow embarrassments to our ancestors who sit around and pat themselves on the back for nothing more than being born into a religion they never embraced or fully understood.

We need to take control of our representation. Think long and hard about it and decide if this is the kind of image you want to project to the outside world. Are we not tired of EVERYONE else thinking that we are a bunch of self-deprecating, neurotic weasels? Because I sure am.

Do we really want Sarah Silverman as the poster-child for 21st century Judaism? Is she really the person we want speaking for and representing us? Because I sure do NOT.

It's time everyone understood we are not the stereotypes that these people project of us. It's time everyone understood that there's more to being Jewish than knowing a few Yiddish phrases.

But most importantly it's time everyone understood that these people do not speak for all of us.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Turn the lights out...

...this party's over.

My summer home has been officially condemned and I along with its other former tenants have been evicted.

What a night. What a place. What a travesty.

Goodbye Yankee Stadium.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A snake in the road less traveled

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Walking along an isolated, quiet path on a lazy end-of-summer day I stumbled upon an odd sight. There in front of me was a man holding a fishing pole, methodically throwing rocks into the middle of the lane. As I approached him he turned around and told me that there was a snake up ahead and that he thought it might be poisonous.

He was throwing rocks at it to try and scare it into moving...but it just wouldn't budge. Now being a city guy myself, I don't know the first thing about snakes, poisonous or not, however I did know that I didn't really feel like finding out firsthand if this guy was right. But I also wasn't going to let such a lowly creature stop me from continuing my hike. So I too began to launch various projectiles at this reptile and together the two of us joined forces to try and get it to move. But nothing. Eventually the other guy worked up enough courage to try and tap the snake with his fishing pole. Nothing. The snake would move its head but continued to stay put blocking any further advance.

Eventually my comrade decided he would pick up his stuff and go back in the other direction...I on the other hand refused to allow this lowly animal such an easy victory. So I asked my new friend to wait for a minute and to call for help if this thing (which again, neither of us was sure was actually a threat) actually bit me. Taking a deep, nervous breath, I proceeded cautiously...slowly...trying not to startle this creature...

...which never even budged from where it was laying. Oddly enough I felt a moment of pity for this snake which just seconds ago had inspired fear in me but now appeared to be just be slimy, pathetic creature. As I looked back at the fisherman who still refused to continue even though I had just passed by with no incident, I felt even worse for him - for being even more pathetic than the snake that just continued to sit there, nearly motionless...looking about as threatening as one of the small branches I had thrown at it just minutes earlier. And so I continued on my way lost in thought about what this experience meant.

The first thing that occurred to me was that Robert Frost poem The Road not Taken. It's very easy to follow the path others have already explored and have proven is safe (well except for this fisherman apparently)...but if we never go out on our own, what progress can we ever hope to achieve? And if we choose the road less traveled we must expect to come across something that we are not prepared for. The unknown. The snake in the road is a metaphor for the irrational fear we have all experienced when jumping into something unfamiliar. All too often we are held back by this fear when in reality if we confront it we can achieve great things.

I mean, in all experience was really pretty mundane. The snake was in all likelihood not venomous and all I "accomplished" by not turning back was feeling some pride in the fact that I was apparently braver than some stranger that I will most likely never see again for the rest of my life. My only victory was over an irrational fear that was based purely on a lack of knowledge. But that's still something. And it's something that too many people allow to control their lives.

Too often we allow these irrational moments to hold us back. We avoid situations that scare us rather than confronting them head on. We go around neighborhoods that scare us instead of taking the shortest path to our destination. We ignore world events that scare us because we are afraid of the picture of reality that they paint. We avoid conversations about topics that scare us because we don't want to deal with the consequences.

We isolate and insulate and shelter ourselves from the truth because we are afraid to confront it. We create barriers and safety nets around ourselves, that only serve to stifle our advancement.

All because of the unknown. The irrational. The snake in the road that we fear but do not fully understand.

This is what we must overcome if we are to ever progress in our lives. Or, like my friend the fisherman we can just allow our fears to control us and go home empty handed, never knowing what lies farther down the road we were too afraid to take.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years

Here's today's top stories on

1. Parts of Houston evacuated
2. Advisor warned Palin on firing
3. Missing girl's body found in case
4. Venezuela to expel U.S. ambassador
5. Palin takes tough stance on Russia
6. Bill Clinton: Obama will win big
7. McCain, Obama come together
8. Rapper Kanye West arrested
9. 9/11 memorialized at crash sites
10. Sex offender admits 7th grade ruse

Well at least it's better than last year. We have two 9/11-related stories and no sign of Britney Spears.

I'm not sure what's scarier...that this day actually happened, that it's already been seven years...

Or how little most Americans care about it. different are our day-to-day lives since 9/11/2001? With the exception of being seven years older...society in America is exactly the same.

WAKE UP people.

Never forget.