Archive for September, 2017

2 Great Autobiographies About Young Jewish Men Coming of Age With Special Circumstances

September 28, 2017

When you’re a Jew in America, you are always an ‘other’.  Even if you grow up in a neighborhood filled with Jews,  as you mature and go out in the world, you meet people with a totally different  belief system, mindset about what is right and good and moral, and  you are always challenged about what you believe.

When Jews pray, we glorify God. We don’t  pray for things or events.  We don’t really worry about an afterlife. Our  commitment is always to community. However, that is not clear to a young child. I know Passover is our most dramatic even involving children, as we have ritual ways to eat, we have the  four questions, and we  explain , in our dinner  ritual, why we do what we do.  But that is not  like getting candy and toys on Easter and Christmas (even though it is a gift giving holiday for children—-by ritual).

I found these books pretty much  around the same time at book swaps.  “My Sense of Silence” is  by Lennard J. Davis ( University of Illinois Press, 2000) is probably out of print, but can be found on Amazon.  It’s mostly about growing up with deaf parents, not  necessarily about being Jewish.  However, because they were Jewish—Orthodox, that somewhat added to  his complexities. For those who don’t know , Deaf Culture is a culture. American Sign Language is not universal, but it is a complex language. Also,  in most families, the children interpret for adults.  Many people are born deaf,  some become deaf, and, amazingly enough, even though Jews are a minority, there is a minority of deaf Jews.  Davis describes his frustrations and how he coped, and  how difficult is was. Then, in retrospect, he realizes that his parents did the best they could…although he also understands that he has a lot of responsibility as a young child.  This is a short book, very well written, and  would be a good read for young adults dealing with  maturing and parents, deaf or not.

The other book was a best seller:  “Choosing My Religion,” By Stephen Dubner  (Harper Perennial 1998). Dubner was raised a devout Catholic by parents who converted from Judaism to Catholicism.  He writes very well about it—not really discovering his Jewish routes until he was a mature adult.  His childhood was fine, considering that he was  one of 8 kids and his parents could barely support themselves without farming.  He hardly met any of his relatives.

It was a girlfriend who encouraged him to learn  more about his family’s history, and why his parents converted from Judaism to  Catholicism.  As a  Jewish woman whose sister decided to become Christian, I m somewhat familiar with the dynamics of what went on.  Judaism is  full of questions.  Catholicism is  full of answers …as well as absolutes.  It’s impossible to get straight answers about faith from  our scholars. Forget asking your parents.  But we  Jews are such a minority, it is  a big blow when  one leaves our flock  and chooses to join another.  Dubner  does a thorough  job of researching his family, as well as exploring his own beliefs,  returning to Judaism in the end, for personal reasons.  If you have ever pondered why you believe what you believe, this book chronicles how  one man made  decisions.

So, Do You Want to learn About Zoning or Insurance?

September 2, 2017

Both boring topics.  Lets deal zoning—-as this is  part of the problem in the Gulf  coast area of the USA (after climate  change —-or lets say, ‘an Act of God’—-caused record rainfalls).

Did you know that geologists can  determine how much  water the ground can hold? Did you know that how much water the ground can hold depends on the  type of soil, how much there is, bedrock or clay, and how much of the land is covered with an impermeable  covering?

Did you know that God isn’t making any more real estate, and  lots of people choose to live in certain areas, making land much more valuable for development than other areas? Did you know  urban  planners try to  convey this information to developers, and are often disrespected—that developers will then  call lawyers or contact politicians to override planners? Did you know that because of this, the rest of us have to come to the aid of people who  live in flood zones?

Did you know that it’s no mystery  regarding what happened to  some great ancient civilizations, like Egypt, the Mayans, the  Ankor/Khmer  and Naga Cultures?  They didn’t just disappear…but a combination of both over population/disease, and using up  environmental  energy resources caused people to scatter?

We’re not talking contrails here, or even if the planet is warming, but we are sort of addressing the statistical odds of a major weather event happening, and that is no mystery.

currently, in 2017, President Trump has ‘drained the swamp’ and brought all the  people who don’t think the rules mean them—or are fair to THEM—into  the government. They are in key positions to change the rules to make policy that benefits them, not all of the people in the country.  You can have a false consciousness  and  believe that their interests are your interests, but  time and time again, we see this is not so.  We could have single payer health care…or we can keep bailing out  people who  live in communities who believe d the developers over  the planners.