Monday, May 26, 2008

My Thoughts Exactly!
by: Schvach Yid

My thanks to Gail, the owner and author of Rubicon 3, at: and, in turn, to Naomi Ragen.

So maybe I was wrong about Jewish bloggers quoting Mr. Zimmerman! Enjoy the video – it’s so true.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Woke Up on the Roadside, Daydreaming
About the Way Things Really Are

by: Schvach Yid

Famous words by Bob Dylan. What Jewish blogger doesn’t quote Dylan (probably most!)?

Like the opening lyric of Idiot Wind, I too get paranoid, all too often, and then muster enough common sense to wake up and face reality.

So why do I imagine seeing fellow J-bloggers on the road when I commute to work, or when I shop at a local supermarket? If I included a photo of myself on my blog site, perhaps I would imagine running into myself as I move around town.

It’s paranoia vs rationalization. Such angst.

Even a Pigeon Knows
by: Schvach Yid

This morning’s daven was enhanced, just a bit, by a dove. Two doves have decided to nest in the rain gutters of my house, one at each of opposite corners of my house. As I davened by a window that looks over one of the nesting doves, I glanced down to notice that the bird had removed herself from her eggs to stand perched on the edge of the rain gutter, looking upward at the window where I stood with yarmulke, tallis, tefillin, and siddur. Although I’m used to seeing doves nest in this location, I have never seen one off her eggs, and certainly not peering at the window. In fact, when viewed from the driveway, one can only notice the bird’s tail feathers protruding over the edge of the gutter.

So why stand? Perhaps she’s Jewish and wanted to be motzi.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Look What I Got in the Mail
by: Schvach Yid

The folks at Nextbook publish a magazine – news print style – called Nextbook Reader. I’ve been graced with a copy of this literary ditty. One can access this sales vehicle on-line; just search.

Thanks to Leon Wieseltier’s 1998 contribution to the world of Jewish writing, Kaddish (perhaps my favorite book of all time), a ‘new’ word has been re-introduced into Jewish circles – solipsist. Every time I encounter this word I have to run to the dictionary; I’ve never heard it in the course of conversation. A one page article appears in this magazine titled (you guessed it) ‘The Solipsist’. I haven’t read it.

But the real story (as far as I’m concerned) in this edition of the Nextbook Reader comes from that lamenting author of Foreskin’s Lament, Shalom Auslander. Straight from the wooded mountains of Woodstock NY (I should be so lucky; how I lament my continued exile from the northern Catskills of NY – Route 28 beckons), Mr. Auslander bewails his dilemma of going through life carrying an official Tribal membership card, yet arguing against it. Still, he sticks to it like a fly sticks to flypaper, all the while making a lot of annoying noise with his fruitless wing beating, while getting absolutely nowhere. Poor Shalom.

He knows how to write folks. Not that I’m qualified to critique an author’s work, but even I, with nothing to speak on my behalf as an amateur writer, am capable of recognizing his talent.

Here he writes about Avraham avinu. Depicted above Auslander’s article is an artist’s conception of Jewish patriarch #1, represented as a not-yet graying (he’s bearded) mensch clad in traditional Arab garb, complete with a scimitar at his side, his left hand clutching the weapon just below the hilt, his right hand placed over his heart (could this be a sign of angina brought about by a foreknowledge of Auslander’s opinions?). In the background, barely visible in the lower left corner, one can just discern the Greek/Roman columns and entablature (thank Gd I saved my copy of Janson’s History of Art) of a building. Auslander definitely has some hefty unresolved issues!

His essay is titled Civilization and Its Discontented. He should know – he knows how to write, and he’s pissed.

Auslander brags that rather than teaching his son the Chumash, he instead instructs his son about Yossarian, the lead character in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 – very Jewish. Boy, does Auslander have unresolved issues, or what (I wonder if Yossarian, a Sephardic Jew, knew Ladino)?

Auslander calls for action. We shouldn’t teach our kiddies about the Gd of jealousy and vengeance, Auslander asserts, or to invoke his lexicon, f*ck accountability (yes folks, he even has his version of Avraham avinu, to whom he assigns the moniker ‘Abe’, speak this most famous word of the English language). He even refers to the Aybischter as a you-know-what (not to be repeated by me). This guy really has unresolved issues (the English ‘issue’ sounds like the Hebrew assur which, as we all know, means ‘forbidden’. Mr. Auslander should learn this).

The point is Mr. Auslander has painted himself into a corner. He invokes Avraham avinu as a rebel who rejected what he saw around him (Auslander’s interpretation, not mine), yet the heroic Avraham accepted every commandment given to him by HaShem (and by his wife Sarah imanu), including the mitzvah of circumcision.

Auslander, you big dummy, maybe you should teach your son about Fred Sanford!

Don’t get me wrong, Jadies and Jents, Auslander is no foreigner spitting on the Tribe. I harbor no animus for Mr. Auslander; I just disagree with him.

The real point, however, is that this mag is a sales vehicle for the Nextbook series, of which I am a fan. One book in this series, David Mamet’s The Wicked Son, is another of my favored writings.

Back to Auslander. If he thinks he’s going to get away with going through life with one foot in and the other out, then he has another guess coming. It’s not that he wants to equivocate, but he does. His dilemma is that he is solidly in the Tribe – he just won’t fess up to it.

Those Jews who hate Judaism, who think they’re above and beyond it, who think Judaism has nothing to offer, that it’s wrong, archaic, bigoted, irrelevant, etc, have a strong tendency to leave it. They don’t resort to the Reform Movement for escape and denial. They just leave and never look back. This is not Auslander’s chosen life. Auslander is a kvetch, and he evidently likes it that way – he’s entitled, and he’s obviously making a good living at it. His is the old Immigrant’s Son’s Tale, the sort of character one finds in the fiction of The Jazz Singer and Leon Uris’ Mitla Pass. When one is confused, embarrassed, self-conscious about one’s identity, when one can’t make up one’s mind, then that person is in a wee bit of a quandary.

Poor Shalom Auslander. Identity is not a pursuit - just ask any recovering BuJu.

But take heart guy. There are lots of you out there. You have lots of company for solace and emotional support. What you’ll probably never enjoy is resolution.