Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #54 (1/27/13) – The Battle of Algiers

RABBINICAL REFLECTION #54 (1/27/13)The Battle of Algiers

 Scheduled to air January 26, 2013 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnXLGyFEdC0

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of January 26th, 2013.

Let’s say I go to the supermarket and buy a box of donuts.  “Why am I eating that?”, you ask.  “Well,” I say, “donuts are a health food.”  “Health food?”  I hear you gasp.  “But they’re loaded with sugar and white flour.”  “Yes, but they’re a health food,” I reply.  “But they’re glazed with chocolate coating made out of corn syrup,” you counter.  “I don’t care, they’re a health food,” I persist.  “But look at the box!” you yell.  “Half the ingredients are red dyes and preservatives and fiberglass insulation.”  “You’re making wayyy too much of that,” I say.  “Donuts are a health food.”

And now you start screaming, “But if you eat donuts, you get fat, your teeth rot, eventually you’ll risk heart disease and diabetes.”  “Oh, don’t be so politically incorrect,” I say.  “Donuts are a health food.”

Sounds crazy, right?  Like I should have my head examined for not admitting what’s plainly in front of my face – or in my stomach.

Fine.  How many times have we heard left-wing pundits and middle-east apologists say that Islam is the religion of peace?  That’s the big slogan – religion of peace.  And no amount of 9/11’s or Munichs or Lockerbies or Benghazis will convince these people that maybe Islam isn’t such a friendly how-do-ya-do.

“Oh, it’s just a small faction; it’s just the radicals,” comes the response.  True.  The millions and millions of Muslims in this world aren’t out there blowing up embassies any more than every NRA member is out there shooting up schools.   However, no other religion since Christianity in the Middle Ages has caused so much needless, vicious and sociopathic bloodshed.  Except, perhaps, the Death to Disco Movement of the 1970s, but they had a point.

So this time, the horror springs from Algeria – instead of Iran or Pakistan or Egypt or Syria – or, well, point to a map of the Middle East and find an Arab country that isn’t a killing field.  Last week, a hostage crisis in Algeria resulted in more than two dozen civilian dead, including one American.  Plus, 32 dead hostage takers, or, as I like to call them, refuse.

The Algerian government is being blamed for jumping the gun on its rescue mission.  After three days of a bloody stand-off, Algerian troops stormed the gas plant that was under siege – which resulted in pretty much everyone dying.  Mainly because the terrorists began executing the hostages once the fun started.

Other countries are now saying, “Oh, we weren’t informed, we could have done it better, we could have ended this with more survivors, blah di bloo di blah.”  Algeria’s position is, “Sorry, we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”  And to that, may I add, especially not terrorists who are killing the hostages anyway, who are strapped to the gills with explosives, and who come from a radical culture where suicide is the expected outcome of a violent event.  Kind of tough to negotiate with someone who actually wants you to shoot him.   It’s like going up to an alcoholic at a party and saying, “Look, I can either drive you home, or I can pour you another scotch.”  That’s a win-win either way for the booze-hound.

Terrorists are sick, desperate people who can be dealt with in only the most extreme, desperate ways.  Like full-on raids, waterboarding and being forced to watch “Teen Mom 2.”

We can mince words all we want so as not to offend Saudi Arabia and Qatar and UAE and other countries that could afford to buy the Statue of Liberty and sell it back to us in pieces.  However, until every country, east and west, takes full action in crushing radical, violent Islam, we’re just gonna get more Algerias, more World Trade Centers, more Koran-concocted carnage.  Just ask Israel, which has endured sixty years of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism disguised as Palestinian nationalism.  Israel realizes: the only way to say “no more” is to say, “no,” more.  And that means, when terrorism rears its ugly covered head, you gotta put the religion of peace in a world of pain.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

 (c) 2013 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s RABBINICAL REFLECTION #53 (1/20/13) – Lance Armstrong

Rabbi Sol Solomon’s RABBINICAL REFLECTION #53 (1/20/13) – Lance Armstrong

 Scheduled to air January 19, 2013 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksF769ibSjk&feature=youtu.be

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of January 20th, 2013.

I never understood the appeal of bicycle racing as a spectator sport.  Oh sure, it’s fun to pedal a Schwinn through the neighborhood while running errands, looking at the scenery and zipping past poor bastards in cars who have to stop for red lights.  It’s healthy exercise uphill, and it’s a mechayah downhill.  Granted, the man who invented bicycle seats must have worked for the Nazis.  I ask you: if they can design a chair cushion that makes you feel like you’re floating on a cloud, why can’t they make a bicycle seat that doesn’t mash your testicles halfway up your groin.

But be that as it may, watching people bicycle is about as much fun watching people roller skate.  Twelve seconds and you wanna shoot yourself.  Thirty seconds and you wanna get on a bicycle and run the skaters over.

So the whole Tour de France mystique is lost on me.  Cyclists spend day after day for three weeks riding two thousand miles just to put on a yellow jersey.  Sorry, but I can give Jet Blue some money, fly two thousand miles in half a day, and they give me a free headset.  No contest.

But I do not deny the skill, athleticism or endurance of those who compete in these races, especially Lance Armstrong, who survived cancer to win the Tour de France for seven consecutive years.  (It was testicular cancer, by the way, for which, as I said – I blame the bicycle seat!)  Anyhoo, Lance Armstrong represented everything great about athletics.  Training, discipline in body and mind, healthy diet, the will to win, grace under pressure and battling back against all odds.  He was one of those athletes parents could point to on a cereal box and say, “You could be like him, if you eat your Wheaties.”  What we didn’t know is that you had to sprinkle your Wheaties with corticosteroids and substitute the milk with Red Bull.

Now, believe it or not, I’m not categorically against performance-enhancing drugs.  Who’s to say what’s a natural additive and what’s going too far?  If one guy makes a morning shake out of a special secret recipe of wheat grass, crushed vitamins and horny goat weed, is he getting an unfair leg up on the guy who’s just eating pancakes?  And what if – just what if – Lance Armstrong decided to race competitively while he was still recovering from cancer?  Not expecting to win, but just to prove something to himself and to the world.  So his body is all full of these chemo chemicals that are keeping him alive – and, perhaps, enhancing his performance.  Where does therapy stop and doping begin?

I cannot answer these questions.  These are questions for doctors, chemists and Ozzy Osbourne.  What I can say is that Armstrong’s behavior has been reprehensible.  Not only did he lie for years, he discouraged, harangued and even threatened others who wanted to tell the truth.  He was a bully, and one of those people who breathe such rarified air, they imagine rules that apply to everyone else don’t apply to them.

Finally, when his back was against the wall – and his tuchas impaled on a banana seat – and there was nothing else to tell besides what we already knew, Armstrong allows himself to be cross-examined in prime time by Oprah Winfrey.  Because criminality is so much more palatable when it’s packaged and sold as entertainment.  And because for Oprah to get ratings, it’s either this or getting Dr. Phil and Mehmet Oz to french each other.

As for the special itself, Armstrong admitted to some things, denied others, and looked for all the world like someone who’s about to lure you into a scientology booth.  One day Christopher Walken will play Armstrong in a movie, and he’ll actually be less creepy than the real thing.

Should we expect remorse?  I know that’s big with defense attorneys – “Ooh, he feels really bad, let’s be nice to him.”  But Armstrong’s ego is such that he seems almost proud of getting away with cheating as long as he did.  Sure he’s sorry – sorry he got caught.  Which makes him little different from all the baseball players who turned the 1990s into a home-run derby.  They sure gave us a lot of thrills while the commissioner looked the other way.  But try telling kids, “Don’t do drugs!  Always play fair!  Drink your juice!” when their heroes are juicing in a very different way.  As for punishment, well, what will all those steroids will do to their bodies when these guys turn 60 or 70 – if they even get there?  It’s like a chemical  version of “Faust”; one day, you have to pay back the devil.  Or Vince McMahon, take your pick.

But I do have a confession to make:  I myself, have a problem with `roids.  Hemorrhoids, and they’re killing me.  Oprah would you like the scoop?

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

 (c) 2013 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #52 (1/13/13) – Al Gorezeera

RABBINICAL REFLECTION #52 (1/13/13) – Al Gorezeera

 Scheduled to air January 12, 2013 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKNhqPjnANY

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of January 13th, 2013.

I never liked Al Gore.  Something about him – the smugness, the silver spoon, the hypocrisy – (we’ll get to that).  And for all his left-wing democratic ideals, he married a woman whose claim to fame was begging Congress to put warning labels on record albums.  Because in 1985, the greatest threat to our country was not Russia or the Middle East or poverty or famine but the Ramones.  So there was always something shifty about Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.  Lord knows, his jet-setting lifestyle seems a little out of sync with his altruism about sustainable energy, but okay, it’s not as if we expect him to live in a hut.  Neil Young can build electric cars, but he’s still tooling around in a `56 Crown Victoria.

Anyway, most of what skeeved me about Al Gore I couldn’t put my finger on.  I think a lot of liberals felt that way when George Bush stole the presidency out from under him.  After eight good years under Bill Clinton – we didn’t know how good we had it – people still couldn’t bring themselves to pull the lever for Mr. Internets.  True, the former vice president scored brownie points by making a movie about global warming.  It left most people global sleeping but still, it was the right message that should have been listened to then and now.  And with a whole TV network at his disposal, Gore had the chance to make a real difference in the content and dissemination of news around the world.

That his network, Current TV, failed financially is no shame.  But his response was mind boggling – he sold it to Al Jazeera.  That’s right, ground zero for Arab propaganda, Al Jazeera, now gets a bigger hoofhold in America.  Al J paid Al G 500 million dollars for the privilege of reaching Comcast, Dish Network, Verizon and your local Etch-a-Sketch.

Now, let’s be fair.  Most of the time, Al Jazeera functions as an objective journalistic outlet that covers the Arab world more directly than Rupert Murdoch or Reuters ever could.  But make no mistake: Al Jazeera was founded and financed by people very close to the ruling family of Qatar.  Yes, the network is privately owned – by the cousin of the Emir.  And American journalists who have worked for Al Jazeera have complained that everything on it has an anti-American or anti-Israel slant.  Remember – this was the place Osama bin Laden would mail his Mp3s to.

“Oh Rabbi,” I hear you say, “if the Zodiac killer sends his messages to the San Francisco Chronicle instead of to the cops, do you blame the paper?”  No, and you can’t fault Al Jazeera for running with the story, even if their superstar was a mass-murdering lunatic that they could have helped bring to justice.  As such, you can be wary of a network that lives to pish on the Western world.  And if I want to watch Israel bashing in the guise of news, I don’t need Al Jazeera; I’ll just put on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now.”

Al Gore did not have to do business with these people.  If there can be entire networks devoted to game shows or old soap operas, surely Gore could have found a buyer with a 24-hour skateboarding channel, or a new MTV that actually plays music videos.  And hey, Tipper’s now history, so you can even leave the obscenities in.

The biggest obscenity is that Mr. Gore, who has spent 30 years warning the world about oil being so scarce, how drilling depletes our natural resources and changes the weather, how pollution is melting the arctic, how there are so many cleaner and more efficient ways to make energy – this Al Gore just pocketed half a billion dollars from a company founded on the profits of oil drilling, consumption, fake shortages and price fixing.  Not to mention a country governed under family dictatorship and Sharia law.

For years, I felt bad that I didn’t vote for Al Gore in the 2000 election.  I went with Ralph Nader, because I believed his rap about Democrats being just as lousy as the Republicans – that both parties are owned by the same mega-corporations and drug companies.  Nader was right, but eight years of Dubya also proved him wrong.  I used to wonder how different America would have been had Al Gore been president instead of Bush.  Now I know.  He would have sold New Mexico to Saudi Arabia and made Mahmoud Ahmedinejad chairman of the B’nai Brith.

I am not one to advocate censorship.  I’m not saying, “Hey everyone, call your cable provider and threaten to go back to rabbit ears if Al Jazeera gets a channel.”  But the price of freedom is vigilance.  If Current TV now morphs into wall-to-wall Intifadeh, with the most popular show being “Two and a Half Men Blowing Up Three and a Half Synagogues,” you know what to do.  After all, the Arabs have spilled rivers of American blood.   Must they now have blood and Gore?

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

 (c) 2013 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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RABBINICAL REFLECTION #51 (12/30/12) – 2012 Farewell

RABBINICAL REFLECTION #51 (12/30/12) – 2012 Farewell

Scheduled to air December 29, 2012 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube clip:


Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of December 30th, 2012.

Well, you certainly can’t say it was an uneventful year.  It started with a bang, and went out with a bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, unfortunately.  In between, we had our ups and downs, our tears for fears, our cheers for queers, and our jeers for emirs, but at least we’re here at the end of the year.

2012 was all politics, politics, politics.  From January on, all you heard was, “Who will be the Republican frontrunner?”  “How long will this week’s Republican frontrunner stay on top?” and, “How do you try to elect a new Republican president when the last Republican President was the worst thing to hit America since Eddie Murphy’s movie career?”

So the G.O.P. finally picked Mitt Romney, a man of the people – if your people happen to make 30 gazillion dollars.  And he gains traction in the first debate, where Barack Obama had about as much charisma as my last podiatrist.  Still, America went to the polls and showed that they believed in slow, steady recovery; social services and human rights, as opposed to: let’s give all the big corporations bigger tax breaks and hope they hire more part-time cashiers at ten bucks an hour.  And wasn’t it fun watching Fox News on election night, seeing Karl Rove stare into the pit of a volcano and say, “Hey, feels chilly to me!”?

Also big in the news, the Arab spring quickly turned into Anarchy autumn.  Syria’s having a blood-soaked civil war, Egypt’s on the brink of one, Iran is playing a game of chicken with nuclear weapons – and let me tell you, when it comes to nuclear weapons, I’m chicken.  Al Qaeda decided to celebrate the 11th anniversary of 9/11 by killing American diplomats in Libya – really, towelheads, you could’ve sent a cake.  And, of course, Israel and the Palestinians have been doing their little tango, which nearly led to full-out war with Hamas.  Israel did over-react to the United Nations decision to grant the Palestinians “non-member observer status” in the organization.  That’s pretty much like being invited to dine at the local Chinese take-out hovel – and they still give you a table next to the kitchen and make you use the gas-station toilet across the street.  Israel built more settlements, but hey, it’s their land.  They won the wars, they took the land, they can build condos.  If the Arabs ever prove ready for true and lasting peace, and the Israelis are forced to trade for it, then you can knock down the settlements.  Or at least take away their HBO.

Of course, at the end of the year, the news was dominated by psychopaths with semi-automatics.  First some joker, who thought he was The Joker, walks into a Colorado movie theater and starts blasting.  I mean, I know the popcorn was stale, but there are better ways.  And then you had that animal in Newtown, Connecticut, firing a hundred rounds of ammunition into an elementary school classroom.  He killed six teachers and twenty little angels.  Well, they weren’t all angels.  I have it on good authority that two of them were bullies and one of them had aspirations of becoming a lawyer – but still… What, too soon?  Anyway, immediately, cries went up for reasonable gun control on assault weapons, and the National Rifle Association responded by saying we need more good guys and fewer crazy people.  Wow.  And we thought the NRA lived in a fantasy world.

I’m happy to say, though, that 2012 was a good year for the LGBTQPNMY community, as many elections proved favorable to the idea of same-sex marriage.  I dunno what the big deal is; I’ve had the same sex in my marriage for twenty years.  A few states also voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.  I, myself, have never tried it, but I do think legalization is a good and long overdue idea.  I just feel bad for cancer patients; they get one lousy perk, and now everybody’s in on it.

In October 2012, the East coast of the United States endured Hurricane Sandy, a punishing mix of wind and torrential rain that caused billions of dollars in damage.  I remember telling my dear wife, Miriam Libby, “My God, look at how Sandy’s blowing.”  And she replied, “Are you watching porn again?”

Speaking of sex, 2012 also saw a few men laid low because they were getting laid on the down-low.  When football coach Jerry Sandusky would send his child athletes to the showers, it was punishment for them, but soapy fun time for him.  I imagine he’s still having sex in the shower, but now it’s with 300-pound black men who use his tuchas for a garage.  An Orthodox Rabbi of the Satmar sect, Nechemya Weberman, was also jailed on multiple counts of sexually abusing children.  Which is horrible and despicable and sickening – and still preferable to listening to a children’s choir.  And then there was General David Petraeus, who tanked a four-decade career because he took the woman who was writing his autobiography and made her the best chapter.

Meanwhile, women everywhere were devouring every chapter in “Fifty Shades of Grey” [insert Gilbert Gottfried audio clip].  Who knew every woman in America wanted to be submissive, and dominated and ordered what to do?  So why the hell do I have to beg mine to clean the dishes?

In 2012, we also said farewell to Neil Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Ravi Shankar, Levon Helm, Robin Gibb, Davy Jones, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Nora Ephron, Phyllis Diller, Andy Griffith, Ernest Borgnine, Mike Wallace, Gore Vidal, Hal David, Marvin Hamlisch, Horschack and Juan Epstein, George Jefferson, and, of course, George “Goober” Lindsay.  And, as we approach the new year, we say goodbye to the eternal teenager, Dick Clark, who will have a New Year’s Rotting Eve.  Too soon?

Yes, it was a tumultuous year, but far from the worst.  And we approach 2013 with some optimism.  A still-popular president, unemployment numbers and gas prices going down, the Rolling Stones are still rolling, Snooki’s a mom, and whichever 47 percent you are, let us all take heart that the most popular singer in the world right now is not an airbrushed babe or an “American Idol” or a navel-gazing rap star.  It’s an overweight ethnic goofball with no discernable talent.  So there’s hope for me!

In fact, there’s hope for all of us, because we survived the dreaded twelve/twenty-one/twelve – doomsday!  The Mayans were looking at one of those cheap, knock-off sundials.  It was a few minutes fast every day, so we’re safe for now; I wouldn’t take bets on 2017.

So I wish a most merry holiday season and much health, happiness and love in the coming year.  As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”  Or, if you don’t have change, be the whole dollar bill.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

 (c) 2012 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #50 (12/23/12): Gun Control

RABBINICAL REFLECTION #50 (12/23/12) – Gun Control

Scheduled to air December 22, 2012 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iRX8beuhkU

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of December 23rd, 2012.

Anything can be a weapon.  A scissor.  A tire iron.  A baseball bat.  If I hit you in the face with a hardcover copy of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead,” your head will spurt like a fountain.  If I drop two pennies off the roof of the Empire State Building, whoever is walking below will lose their cents.  You don’t need a gun to hurt someone.

No, I’m not spoiling the plot of the next “Final Destination” movie; I’m offering the motto of the National Rifle Association, the N.R.A.  Why ban guns, they say, when they’re just one kind of weapon?  Two radio hosts killed a woman by making her drink too much water.  Do we ban faucets?  Another pair of deejays helped kill a woman by making believe they were the royal family.  Do we ban phone calls?

That is the logic the N.R.A. uses to defend guns.  Crazy people will always find ways to kill, sometimes with box-cutters on an airplane, sometimes with a loaded gas tank and a 1.2 blood-alcohol level.  Guns don’t kill people, they say; people kill people.

The problem as I see it, is that people kill people…with guns.  Adam Lanza did not walk into Sandy Hook Elementary School carrying a sharpened broom handle.  He didn’t fire off a hundred rounds of ping-pong balls.  He had his mother’s guns – three of them.  And the N.R.A. says the blame is hers.  She should have kept them locked up, safely stored, away from her child.  But her child was 20 years old.  Which means back when Adam Lanza was sane – presumably – and he turned 18, he was old enough to be shown where the guns were and how to use them.  He could have gone to Walmart and gotten his own guns.

And the other cry of the N.R.A. whenever there’s a massacre – which is every couple of weeks in this fakakteh country – well, if one of the good guys had a gun, this wouldn’t have happened.  Or the carnage would have been less, because the teacher, or the movie-theater usher, or the flight attendant could whip out a .45 and blast the psycho before he starts running a tally in double digits.

There is some logic to this, if all these pistol-packing good Samaritans have amazing aim, have recent and constant practice, and happen to be just at the wrong place at the right time.  I admit, there are times I would love to carry a gun.  I also admit that in a dangerous, do-or-die situation, I would reach for the gun, my hand would slip, and I’d shoot myself right in the balls.  Just because everyone can own a gun doesn’t mean everyone should own a gun.

What makes me mad about the N.R.A. is their absolute inability to compromise.  The Democrats say, “We don’t want to ban guns.  We want sensible gun control.”  The N.R.A. says, “You can’t ban guns.”  The Democrats say, “No, listen.  We don’t want to ban guns.  We just want more background checks and the banning of semi-automatic weapons.”  The N.R.A. says, “You can’t ban guns.”  Right-wing Republicans are like autistic children; you can’t reason with them, all you can do is hope to distract them with something shiny.

The second Amendment of the United States Constitution was adopted in 1791.  It was created so that people could hunt for food, defend themselves and mainly to protect the former colonies from foreign invasion.  If it seems a little silly in 2012 to worry about British redcoats wanting to sleep in your garage, it wasn’t quite so hilarious in late 2001, when you didn’t know when or where the next turban was gonna drop.

So I am not one of those people who thinks only police and the military should have guns.  They’re already in power, they don’t need more firepower.  It’s perfectly understandable why a rural farmer would want a shotgun, or a Jew carrying merchandise in the diamond district might need a pistol, or a schvartz NFL player in a nightclub might want three colts, a glock and a snub-nose .38.  But none of those people needs an AK-47.  Nobody needs to fire two dozen uninterrupted rounds unless you’re making swiss cheese and you’re really pressed for time.

Is it opportunistic of people who are pro-gun control to use a national tragedy for political gain?  Sure, just as when Ernest Borgnine died, I lobbied Congress to release the entire “McHale’s Navy” series on Blue-Ray.  It was just the right thing to do.

Sensible gun control is also the right thing to do, and it’s a lot smarter than banning midnight movies, elementary schools and high-school cafeterias.  Although, banning high-school cafeteria food  . . . not the worst idea.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

 (c) 2012 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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RABBINICAL REFLECTION #49 (12/16/12) – Molest We Forget

RABBINICAL REFLECTION #49 (12/16/12) – Molest We Forget

Scheduled to air December 15, 2012 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxQnpP0RbMI

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of December 16th, 2012.

Oy!  Happy end of Chanukah, everybody.  Why do I say that with such resignation and dispiritedness?  Because just when we need to be showing the world that Jews take a higher moral ground . . .  Just when we need to be reminding Christians that we’re not evil, we didn’t kill Jesus, we belong in the land of Israel because we earned and deserve it . . .  Just when we should show off that Jews are a model of the three L’s: Learning, Law and Lokshen kugel – the Orthodox community of Williamsburg Brooklyn displays the worst of the three I’s: Inhumanity, Insularity and I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with them.

By now you’ve no doubt heard about Rabbi Nechemya Weberman – a Jew, unfortunately, who was convicted of repeated sexual abuse of a young girl.  He’s facing 25 years in the slammer for making this shayna maydel act out porn films for him, give him oral sex and buy things for him retail.  And this all started when she was just twelve years old.  My God, he used to burn her stomach with a cigarette lighter and then tell her to soothe it with peanut butter when she got home.  Peanut butter!  I mean, almond butter I understand, but peanut butter?!

I’m making jokes about all this because the truth is so goddamn horrible all you can do is laugh.  This monster turned the girl’s parents against her and threatened to toss the whole family out of the religious order if she dared to come forward with her stories.  It wasn’t until she switched to a less religious school and started opening up to teachers and counselors there that the truth came out – because the truth always comes out – if not in this world, then the next.  If some sect is so tight-knit that a leader can get away with sexual abuse until the day he days, you can bet when he gets to the gates of heaven, Elijah’s up there going, “So, did you observe the Sabbath?”

“Oh yes, every week.”

“Did you give tzedakah to the poor?”

“Absolutely.  And I didn’t even do it for the tax deduction, I really meant it!”

“Did you keep all the kosher laws?”

“Are you kidding?  I waited ten hours between having meat and milk – not six, ten!”

“Well, Rabbi, I see no reason not to open these gates and let you into paradise.  Welcome to – wait a second.  Did you make 14 year old girls masturbate you while you watched Amy Irving in “Yentl?”

“Well, I, uh – ”

“Did you make a teenage boy eat your shmekel and then warn him that if he tattled on you, God would throw him into the fires of hell?”

“Well, I, uh – ”

“Rabbi, you might wanna know, that boy was up here 30 years ago.  `Cause he killed himself when he was 17.  Good news, though – he’s having a fantastic time.  He’s up on cloud nine playing X-box with Anne Frank.  You however . . . I hope you brought sunscreen.”

It should not take years or lifetimes to expose revolting behavior like this to the light.  Coverups are for dark circles under the eyes, not dark blotches on the soul.  And just when you thought the story of Rabbi Weberman couldn’t get any worse, it gets worse.  Another Rabbi, Nachum Rosenberg – who probably will be going to heaven, by the way – Rabbi Rosenberg is a longtime advocate for speaking out against abusers.  He’s been an oasis for girls and boys who have been subjected to the terrors of sexual assault and the even greater horrors of psychological suppression.  He’s been begging the Satmer community to stop sheltering the guilty, stop keeping the laws of America from touching – you should pardon the pun – from penetrating – you should pardon the pun – from affecting this insular Satmer sect.

But no good deed goes unpunished.  On his outspoken blog, Rabbi Rosenberg accused the owner of a local fish market of abusing young boys.  Now, this may or may not be true, and because this community resists legitimate investigations, finding out the truth can be harder than catching a squid in a butter tank.  But one day the Rabbi is strolling through his neighborhood when the son of the fishmarket owner comes up to him.  He’s holding a jar of liquid which turns out to be bleach – tosses the bleach in the Rabbi’s face and runs away.  Had he not washed his eyes very quickly after the incident, the Rebbe would have gone blind.  His shirts would have been really clean but his vision not so good.

Now, because this is the son of the accused, and everything on both sides is just allegation at this point, I will reserve judgment on the particulars of this incident.  However, it serves as an object lesson on what happens when you spend years sweeping landmines under the rug.  Eventually they start going off in every possible direction, hurting the innocent, the guilty and the just-plain fishy.

And it’s happening in this case because these tight cults want to do everything in-house.  No need for police intervention, no need to wash dirty tallises in public; they can monitor everything and keep the outside world out.  But do they self-govern?  Yes, exactly the way the Catholic church handles the scandals.  Got a pedophile priest?  Push him from parish to parish.  Exactly the way an American president reacts to a sexual boo-boo or a military blunder – deny, discredit, dismiss.  That’s way too much alliteration for one paragraph, and way, way too much lying and ducking responsibility on the part of people who should know better.

How sad that thanks to Rabbi Weberman, Rabbis will now be lumped in the same pile as pervo priests – even though, one hopes, and prays, the rotten apples make up just a teeny percentage of Orthodox orchard.

That said, when it comes to sexual misconduct in our community, it’s obvious this is just the tip of the iceberg.  And the Goldberg.  And the Kleinberg.  The Satmers, and every other sect, when dealing with sex, need to be diligent and transparent and not make excuses and exits for evil.

This is gonna get much bigger and uglier before it gets better.  So we have to urge the victims don’t be intimidated.  Don’t be brainwashed or shouted down.  You have to stick it out, because if you don’t, some Rabbi’s gonna stick it out – and in.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

(c) 2012 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #48 (12/9/12): Chanukah

RABBINICAL REFLECTION #48 (12/9/12) – Chanukah

Scheduled to air December 8, 2012 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube clip: http://youtu.be/E8lvJUkZOQs

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of December 9th, 2012.

Happy Chanukah everybody!  What a joy to find ourselves lighting the menorah, spinning the dreidel, eating the latkes, and making believe we’re not jealous of the people across the street celebrating Christmas.  December, the very fulcrum of winter, is the perfect time for a holiday that brings us all together for food and fun.  Actually, January would be better because December is still close to Thanksgiving and you have more football, but I’m not one to bitch.

To be honest, Chanukah is not the most important holiday.  Passover, when we got the hell out of Egypt, that was bigger.  Shavuot, where God gave us the Torah – that’s a big one, too.  Yom Kippur, where we beg HaShem to forget what a bunch of schmucks we are, pretty major.  Chanukah merely celebrates a military victory.  Jerusalem was under the control of Syrians and Greeks who forbade the practice of Judaism.  Matisyahu – not the reggae, the rebel – Matisyahu and his family rebelled, killed a few people, and took to the hills for training.  They came back as an army and forced the Greeks out of the Holy Land.

When Jews went to re-claim the great temple, they saw that it had been defiled.  Pigs were slaughtered on the altar.  False idols were placed in positions of worship.  A giant screen was tuned to QVC.  The Jews immediately set about purifying the synagogue.  And they probably also repainted a little because there was chipping and you could see the primer.  Anyhoo, they started to burn some ritual oil in the candelabra.  There was only a teeny bit left, so they figured it would burn for a day or two.  What a shock when that minuscule drop of oil stayed lit for eight full days.  I had an uncle who stayed lit for ten days, but it took him a case of Jack Daniels to do it.   Eight days was just long enough to re-consecrate the temple, long enough to make our children say, “Eh, it’s just chocolate money, but we get it for a week!”

What is the modern significance of Chanukah?  What do we learn from this Festival of Lights?  First of all, we learn that you can do almost anything if you put your mind to it.  One Jewish family defied the laws of the land and created a revolution.  Instead of bowing before the Greeks – because we all know, Greeks like it when people bend over – they triumphed as the Maccabees.  “Mac” because they became the Syrians’ mac daddies; “bees” because they stung the enemy in the tuchas.

We also learn that miracles happen if you let a little faith go a long way.  Have you ever bought a lightbulb that was supposed to last a year, and a decade later, the thing’s still working?  It happens.  In the hands of HaShem, time is a malleable construct.  Sometimes, when I give a sermon, people tell me they look at their watch and it’s been twenty minutes – but it feels like seven hours.  A miracle!

Most importantly, we learn from the Chanukah holiday that things can look as bleak and horrible as the schmutz on the bottom of a toaster oven.  But HaShem gives us the blessing of change.  To quote Bob Dylan, “The wheel’s still in spin.”  2,200 years ago, the Temple was trashed and out of Jewish hands, and then, a week later, it’s ready for kosher catering.  So when we look at the crisis in the middle east, or the fiscal cliff, or the music of Kid Rock, we have to say, “It’s all right.  The world turns, and nothing truly lasts forever.  Except an Orthodox seder.”

But that’s a different holiday.   This one is Chanukah with candles and dreidels and latkes and Adam Sandler and jelly donuts and, thanks to fracking, enough oil to last eight centuries.

Dreidel dreidel dreidel,

I made you out of plexiglass.

And if you don’t like Chanukah,

Then you can kiss my sexy ass.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.

(c) 2012 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.

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