Undelivered Address Prepared for Jefferson Day – April 13, 1945

FDR

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

The following is taken from the end of an undelivered Address to be given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt  on April 13, 1945. He died from a cerebral hemorrhage the day before.

His written words are as poignant today as they were then.

“Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships—the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together, in the same world, at peace.”

 

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin Expresses Solidarity and Support in the Wake of Charlottesville White Supremacy Violence

In a message sent to Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, expressed his support and solidarity and that of all the Israeli people, with the American Jewish community in the difficult times following the events in Charlottesville, and he asked that his message be shared with Jewish organizations and communities across the United States.

Dear Malcolm,

At this difficult time, I want to express my support and solidarity, and that of all the Israeli people with you and your communities, and ask that you kindly convey this message on my behalf to the Jewish communities across the US.

The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag – perhaps the most vicious symbol of anti-Semitism – paraded in the streets of the world’s greatest democracy, and Israel’s most cherished and greatest ally is almost beyond belief.

We have seen manifestations of anti-Semitism again and again arise across the world; in Europe and the Middle East. In the face of such evil, we stand now as we did then. With faith. With faith in humanity, with faith in democracy, and with faith in justice. I know that the great nation of the United States of America and its leaders will know how to face this difficult challenge, and prove to the world the robustness and strength of democracy and freedom.

As we say Chazak, Chazak, ve’Nitchazek. Be strong, be strong, and we will be strong.

Warm regards,

Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel

 

 

 

When a President Stands with Haters, Bigots and Thugs

President Donald Trump giving a statement on the violence this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia at the White House, Aug. 14, 2017. Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images.

It is now clear where President Trump stands – with haters, bigots, and violent thugs.

It’s sickening and disturbing to know that the man who occupies the Oval Office, a symbol of American exceptionalism, is an immoral, instinctively insensitive human being that represents the very worst of the human condition.

Trump and his campaign have brought the extremist and violent fringe into the mainstream of American life, and it is now up to all decent Americans of every race, ethnicity, religion, national background, and gender orientation, to stand up and say “Enough!”

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

“One who condones evil is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates it.” (Dr. Martin Luther King)

“One who is able to protest against a wrong that is being done in his;/her family, city, nation or world and doesn’t do so is held accountable for that wrong being done.” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 54b)

“We generations close to the Holocaust must be very clear that no interests of any kind can justify a shameful alliance with groups or individuals who fail to recognize responsibility for the crimes of the Holocaust.” (President Reuven Rivlin, State of Israel)

“Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

This is a must-read article for anyone who cares about our kids and the impact that Smart Phones are having on those born after 2000.
 
Jean M. Twenge writes this important piece in the September 2017 edition of The Atlantic. She is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me and iGen.
 
“Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.
 
…the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.”
 
 

Statement on Charlottesville Terrorist Attack – Temple Israel of Hollywood, Los Angeles

 

Note: My colleagues at Temple Israel of Hollywood and our Vice President of Social Justice today posted the following statement:

 

The face of hate is no longer concealed by a white sheet. It is out in front of us. Hate is not hidden.

And, likewise, the face of justice will not be concealed. The voice of justice will not be silenced. Our voices will ring out louder, clearer, and with deeper purpose. We will respond to hate with action and education, advocacy and giving, drawing near and finding common purpose within our own community and across religious, cultural, ethnic, racial, and national lines. We stand with our neighbors, fellow citizens, and fellow human beings of every background.

Yesterday’s events in Charlottesville were evidence of the dark underbelly of our society and the human condition. As Jews and as Americans we condemn the hate-mongering of the neo-Nazi white nationalist movement in this country the representatives of which callously and brutally attacked law-abiding and innocent people yesterday. We mourn the loss of life and send blessings of love and healing to the victims’ families and dear ones.

We are deeply disappointed that the President of the United States did not initially specifically condemn the neo-Nazi white nationalists as the perpetrators of yesterday’s violence nor condemn them in the strongest terms for their bigotry, racism, hatred, and violence. Though he condemned the violence, we believe that a general condemnation is never enough. We insist that he always be specific about the true perpetrators of criminal acts such as this immediately and condemn the responsible groups in the strongest terms.

Our response today is based on the affirmation that American diversity and pluralism help to make America truly great. We affirm as well the merits of the inclusive character of our nation of immigrants and their descendants, and we reaffirm that our nation belongs to all of its citizens and we hope, the dreamer generation too as well as those fleeing persecution and violence throughout the world.

In the days to come, local interfaith groups will be gathering in solidarity to respond publicly to yesterday’s deadly terrorism and to reaffirm the bonds we all share. We will keep you informed of these events.

Please click here to read the statement by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, in the wake of Charlottesville.

LA Voice is cosponsoring a vigil tonight, Sunday, August 13, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/events/1906898732883984/?ti=icl

Signed,

John L. Rosove, Senior Rabbi

Michelle Missaghieh, Associate Rabbi

Jocee Hudson, Associate Rabbi

Heidi Segal, Vice President for Social Justice

My Top Ten Jewish Books

When people ask me what books I think offer the best understanding of what Jews believe and care most about, I’m often stymied because there are so many.

Nevertheless, as an exercise, I tried this week to make a list of my top ten. All of these have moved me, informed me, changed me, and taught me wisdom, inspired me, and given me insight not only into the Jewish heart, mind, and soul, but into what it means to be a human being and a mensch.

Here are my top ten:

  • The Five Books of Moses – The Hebrew Bible is the foundational text in Judaism. Among the best modern commentaries that I’ve found is Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary, edited by Rabbi David L. Lieber and published by the Conservative movement.
  • Covenant & Conversation – Numbers: The Wilderness Years by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is a brilliant commentary and exploration into the fourth of the five books of Moses. Rabbi Sacks brings the Biblical past into the present and shows how the Book of Numbers is among the world’s most important literary works.
  • A History of the Jews by Paul Johnson – There are many fine Jewish histories. I chose Johnson’s because it is both descriptive and inspirational. For example, he wrote: “No people has ever insisted more firmly than the Jews that history has a purpose and humanity a destiny … The Jews, therefore, stand right at the center of the perennial attempt to give human life the dignity of a purpose.”
  • Pirkei Avot – Sayings of the Sages – An ethical tractate stuck in the middle of a 2nd century legal code, this series of teachings and maxims is a guide to behavior, attitudes, civility, honor, integrity, faith, aspiration, kindness, peace, humility, generosity, patience, fairness, and the proper use of speech. Of the many commentaries, my favorite is one that comes out of the Orthodox world – Pirkei Avot: Ethics of the Fathers – The Sages’ Guide to Living published by Artscroll.
  • Sefer Ha-Hinukh Book of Education is attributed to the 13th century Rabbi Aaron ha-Levi of Barcelona (in 5 volumes). This work explains each of the Torah’s 613 commandments in order of appearance. Intended most likely as a text for students to learn the purpose of the commandments and how to live in line with the spirit and values of Torah, it is a superb introduction to Biblical law.
  • Opening The Tanya, Learning the Tanya, and Understanding the Tanya (3 volumes) was written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Lubavitch Chassidism. This three volume text with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz explores the complexities, doubts, and drives at the core of the struggle between the Godly and animal souls. Though more than two centuries old, the teachings here are as relevant today as they were when they were written at the end of the eighteenth century.
  • Between God and Man – An Interpretation of Judaism is a selection of writings by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, among the greatest Jewish scholars, thinkers, theologians, social activists, teachers, and leaders of the 20th century. Rabbi Heschel is a poet of the soul and this work opens the heart, mind, and soul to the relationship between humankind and God as few great thinkers can do.
  • One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them is by Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch (Reform) and Rabbi Yosef Reinman (Haredi Orthodox). These two rabbis entered into an 18-month email correspondence after being introduced by a mutual friend on the fundamental principles of Jewish faith and practice. What resulted is “an honest, intelligent, no-holds-barred discussion of virtually every hot-button issue on which Reform and Orthodox Jews differ, among them the existence of a Supreme Being, the origins and authenticity of the Bible and the Oral Law, the role of women, assimilation, the value of secular culture, and Israel.” (the publisher) This dialogue is unprecedented. In the end these two rabbis from very different religious streams found that they not only liked each other but respected each other as well.
  • Not in God’s Name – Confronting Religious Violence by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explores how religious extremism and violence in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities worldwide are corruptions of our respective religious texts and our shared monotheistic tradition.
  • Fragile Dialogue: The New Voices of Liberal Zionism, edited by Rabbis Stanley Davids, Larry Englander, and Hara Person and published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, includes the reflections of close to forty teachers and thinkers who struggle with a variety of approaches to liberal Zionism that are emerging in the 21st century. Israel has become one of the most polarizing forces in the North American Jewish community resulting in a serious challenge to Jewish unity and the alienation of many Jews from the State of Israel and the Jewish people. This work is an attempt to address those tensions within modern Jewish life and bring clarity to the conversation (to be published in early Fall, 2017).

People often ask me where to begin. It really doesn’t matter. Just begin where you are most interested and allow your heart, mind and soul to carry you forward.

 

When a Childhood Home is Demolished

                                   

Above photos – Michael, me, and our father – 1952 and view from the street today

Eighty-three years ago, in 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, my childhood home in west Los Angeles was built.

It is a charming California ranch-style home of no more than 2100 square feet. According to neighborhood code, every home was set back 100 feet from the street.

When I was growing up, 15 mature trees populated the grounds. In the back yard, there were willow, palm, avocado, guava, kumquat, peach, plum, laurel, and lemon. In the front yard grew magnolia, jacaranda, paper birch, oak, pine, and maple. Alas, all are gone now except the maple.

As a kid, I loved climbing the tall oak or magnolia whenever I needed to be alone. I also loved to climb onto our tile roof being careful not to break the tiles, which I did from time to time.

My parents bought the home in 1949 just before I was born. My brother Michael left for college in 1966, and after I left in 1968, my mother sold the property. The family that bought it lived there for the next 49 years until this past year.

Last week the developers who bought it put up a green fabric fence signaling that demolition is imminent.

I loved that house. My very first memories are from the age of two. I played baseball with my dad and brother in the back yard. Michael and I dug holes lined with tin cans in the front yard so we could putt golf balls. In the back was a built-in red brick distressed barbecue. In the service yard behind the garage we inherited an incinerator from the 1940s and used it until the LA City Council banned them in 1957.

My dad played the violin and painted still life casein in the sunny lanai, a room he named for his pleasant experiences serving in the Hawaiian islands during World War II as a physician and lieutenant colonel in the US Navy. Our parents entertained with scotch and martinis before sit-down dinners. They drank their coffee black and hot!

My dad bought Michael and me our first bicycles. Mine was a red 24-inch Schwinn I called “Betsy.” His was black. We rode the neighborhood with gusto. I walked to the bus stop or the mile through back streets to school from the age of 6 without my parents expressing, to my knowledge, any worry.

Our house doors were never locked. Milk was delivered in bottles and placed in a small niche near the back door. The Good Humor ice cream truck drove our streets in the afternoon. I played outside until dark and came home filthy. I knew my neighborhood like the back of my hand and knew most of the neighbors. Dogs roamed the streets unleashed.

As a little boy, I remember following my dad (who I called “Daddy” and still do) like a puppy in the back yard picking up the clippings he pruned. I can still remember the smell of wet cut grass and eucalyptus from the adjacent property. We fed California jays (now called scrub jays) and had names for all of them according to their markings. We collected butterflies.

In 1953, my parents bought our first television set, a 24-inch black-and-white console. They put it in my dad’s study with his book shelves, medical journals, desk and two red leather chairs and ottoman on which my brother and I watched cartoons on weekend mornings, westerns in the afternoons, I Love Lucy when we were sick, the Friday night fights with my dad, The Wonderful World of Disney and The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights.

In 1956, I remember the interview with Adlai Stevenson when the camera caught the hole in the bottom of his shoe. I recall also seeing Fidel Castro on Face the Nation in 1959 just after the Cuban revolution, JFK delivering his inaugural address in 1961, his Cuban Missile Crisis speech in 1962, Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech on the Washington Mall in 1963, the entire weekend after Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963 including live the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, LBJ signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act in the White House, and footage of the fighting during the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and the combined armies of eight Arab nations who promised to “push the Jews into the sea.”

I emerged into political and historical consciousness in that house.

On August 10, 1959, my world changed irrevocably. Michael (a year older than me) and I saw our father for the last time that evening as he stood in the doorway of our small bedroom to say goodnight. He hadn’t been feeling well and while we slept an ambulance came to the house and took him at 2 a.m. to the hospital where he died 23 hours later from his second heart attack. He was only 53 years old.

My brother and I call that house “321.” It has been our link to our childhoods and father throughout our lives. I visited it from time to time and even knocked on the door 25 years ago and asked to walk through. The owners remembered my family and were gracious. Though it has been owned by others, Michael and I still feel that it belongs to us. I fantasized that maybe either of us would be able and want to buy it this past year when it was put up for sale.

One doesn’t say Kaddish over a house, but its demolition is a death for both of us. We’re left now only with, as Jim Croce poignantly said, “photographs and memories.”

Thanks to Michael for sharing his memories with me as I wrote this.

 

President Trump is no “Leader”

President Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in an arena in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 25. Photo by Jonathan Ernst

Though President Trump’s [updated blog] Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said correctly that “a fish stinks from the Head” but there were two people in the administration who were not the “stinkers,” him and the President, I beg to differ. Indeed, if the stink starts with the head of the fish the head of this fish is none other than President Trump.

Everything we see taking place in the White House is a direct reflection of him: the chaos, lies, deception, crudity, and mean-spiritedness; incompetence, lack of moral principles and ideological clarity; a management style based on dividing and conquering; encouragement of backbiting and power plays dividing top lieutenants and aides; and a black hole of need to be the center of every story every day regardless of merit.

I offer below some thoughts by people familiar with leadership that challenges Trump’s “leadership” as anything deserving of merit:

“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men/people he has around him.”  -Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

The boss drives his people; the leader coaches them. The boss depends upon authority, the leader on goodwill. The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm. The boss says “I”; the leader, “we.” The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown. The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how. The boss says “Go”; the leader says “Let’s go!” – Henry Gordon Selfridge, Sr (1856-1947)

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – President John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)

“The ideal public leader is one who holds seven attributes: wisdom, humility, reverence, loathing of money, love of truth, love of humanity, and a good name.” -Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon (Maimonides – the RAMBAM), Hilchot Sanhedrin 2:7 (1135-1204 CE)

“Great leadership requires not just vision and high moral rectitude, but the love of truth, the love of humanity, wisdom, humility, respect for the dignity of the individual, and a sacred commitment to further the common good.” – Rabbi John Rosove

 

The Challenge of Leadership

Here is a definition that most everyone in the White House would be wise to read and take to heart – if that is at all possible!

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor but without folly.”

-Emanuel James “Jim” Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker

The Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since WWII

The United Nations has declared that the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II is taking place in a number of African countries and that twenty million people are at risk of starvation. The vast majority of the famine victims have been so affected not by natural disaster, but as a consequence of war and the massive displacement of populations, now numbering 25 million refugees worldwide.

This disturbing report is discussed on today’s “Pod Save the World” broadcast that you can download as an App or listen here – https://getcrookedmedia.com/pod-save-the-world-7cc67d64dd56

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee and a former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, speaks with the host of “Pod Save the World,” Tommy Vietor who served under President Obama on the National Security Council.

Mr. Miliband notes that only fifteen percent of Americans are aware of the crisis, but once people become aware of it, it shoots to the top concern they have relative to crisis points in the world. Even the Trump Administration United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, to her credit, has said: “This is a crisis that should be leading every newscast and on the front page of every newspaper.”

What can we do right now to make a difference?

  1. Educate yourselves about this crisis – listening to this podcast is the first step;
  1. To date, thirty-five percent of the $6.5 billion needed to head off the famine has been collected. Money does save lives – so we can donate today to the Globalization Emergency Response Coalition – http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.9531971/k.5213/Global_Emergency_Response_Coalition.htm (I just did!)
  1. Apply political pressure to our congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle and explain to them if they need explanation that from a geostrategic point of view America’s withdrawal from many parts of the Muslim world gives the opportunity to malevolent forces there to fill that void and make it more difficult for international famine aid to reach those in need. Our Congressional representatives also need to be reminded that, as Miliband suggests, “We can’t enjoy the blessings of globalization unless we share the burdens of globalization.”
  1. Put pressure on Congress to increase the number of refugees that the United States accepts beyond the 85,000 minimum accepted during Obama administration.

Rabbi Tarfon said – “We are not expected to complete the task [of healing the world] but neither are we free from trying.” (Mishnah Avot 2:21)