Yesterday, the internet was abuzz with the news that leaflets were posted at a synagogue in Donetsk and/or handed to several Jewish residents. The leaflets apparently told Jews they needed to register with authorities and pay a fee or risk expulsion.
Then there was almost immediate pushback, including from some people who have a great deal of expertise regarding this area of the world; they noted that the leaflets weren’t officially sanctioned and that they were clearly intended merely to provoke a response (either in country, in the West, or both).
This pushback, intended to provide people with more information about the situation, instead led people who don’t know much about the situation simply to argue that the leaflets were “fake.”
But here’s the thing: they aren’t fake. They are actually existing leaflets that were handed to actually existing Jewish people in a part of the world where Jews have not fared at all well for quite some time.
I think an important thing to point out is that something like this doesn’t need official sanction from a government in order to be threatening to those who receive it. In other words, the leaflet might have been designed purely as a provocation or to get the West to respond in the way that it has … but, even so, the whole idea was to use the notion of terrorizing the Jews of this community to do so. That a particular political party or governing body might not be responsible doesn’t change that fact, or the fact that simply being Jewish in Ukraine has, for a long time, been a very difficult proposition.
Where, no matter what’s going on, it’s always bad to be Jewish:
Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to “register” with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Israeli media.
Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website.
I think to myself, “C’mon, Ukraine, it’s 2014; enough with your anti-Semitic nonsense.” But then I remember, it’s also Missouri.
(Source: USA Today)
X-Wing and TIE Fighter Engagement Rings - Paul Michael Design
Well, sure, that’s cool.
But, given that the rings are shaped like starfighters, I’m going to wager that those gems aren’t certified to be conflict-free.
It’s Tax Day, which is an annual holiday where 20 year old white kids complain about how much our goverment spends on “entitlement programs” or defense or public education … or whatever else Ron Paul says we shouldn’t be paying for.
Is there some stuff I don’t want to pay for? You bet. Do I get to decry all taxation because some of my money goes to things I don’t support? No, I don’t think so.
Could we find ways to make things function with less waste? Surely. Could we find ways for the super-rich to pay a little more rather than consistently helping them to pay less? I would think so.
All of these issues are serious ones; I don’t mean to make light of them. But they don’t suggest that we ought not to help people who don’t have enough to eat or that we ought to leave the elderly high and dry.
As it turns out, in the real world having an enormous society that functions at all is very expensive. Being a part of society means pitching in; it also means benefiting from being a part of society.
Would I be happier if we lived in a utopia where no one ever needed a helping hand from the rest of us, where private charity was sufficient to provide for all the needs of the least well off in our society, and/or where we could just melt down all of our weapons instead of buying more of them? I guess so. Most people would.
And yet, all the wishing and hoping and complaining about taxation won’t turn our current society into a tax-free libertopia. So here’s to another year of taxes. Go out there and enjoy driving on the roads, check out a book from the library, and be glad that millions of kids have access to public education. You paid for it.
Passover Seders move to nights that work for busy lives:
Sundown Monday signals the start of Passover, the most observed of Jewish holidays, a night when Jews follow the biblical mandate to gather, eat and retell their story of liberation. Unless, that is, they already did it over the weekend or plan to some other night this week.
Mostly to accommodate busy work and travel schedules, more American Jews are holding their Seders — the elaborate ritual meal at the heart of the eight-day holiday — on different nights, not only on the traditional first two nights.
I’m generally a live-and-let-live kind of guy when it comes to religious observance. You do what works for you; I do what works for me; it’s better to be observant in the way you can be than to do nothing; and so on.
But this, I have to admit, seems like a bridge too far for me.
It would be more convenient to schedule the holidays for times when I’m not busy, or when I’m already visiting my family, or when my wife has a few days off from work. I mean, if we could celebrate Passover at the same time as Christmas, then we wouldn’t have to take a couple of days off from work. Or if we could celebrate Passover at the same time as Rosh Hashana, we’d be able to knock off all at the same time those few days of religious observance that most American Jews agree are sancrosanct. Then a whole lot of people wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle that Judaism seems to represent for them for more than a couple of days a year.
Part of me thinks it’s better that these people celebrate Passover on the wrong day than not at all. But part of me is pretty sure religious observance isn’t principally about your convenience.
(Source: Washington Post)
Multi-part question: Will you tell us about a time in your life when you were at a crossroad(s), what big decision you made and how you made the decision?elledeau
My initial thought was that there just aren’t a lot of big decisions in my life where the outcome felt uncertain to me so I wouldn’t have much to say in response to this question. But, in thinking a bit more deeply about it, I suppose I’d say this is itself noteworthy enough for a response.
When I think of big decisions, I could point to choosing to attend one college or one graduate program over another; or to move from my first job at James Madison University to my current job at Nebraska; or to get married; or to have kids. All of these might be considered crossroads in my life.
But the choices I made in each of those cases felt like the obvious thing to do, both at the time and certainly upon later reflection. I never seriously considered going to grad school anywhere but at Duke once I’d been admitted and I visited. I never thought, after meeting my wife, that I wouldn’t end up marrying her. And so on.
I like to think that this is due to thinking things through in advance. In my writing on heroism, I often note that thinking ahead, planning ahead, is the best preparation for action. If you haven’t thought seriously about the kind of life you want to have lived, about the sorts of actions and choices that define who are you, you won’t be prepared to take action when it’s demanded of you, to make a difficult or dangerous choice when you come to a potential crossroads. I like to think that my crossroads moments haven’t felt so much like big decisions filled with uncertainty because I thought about what I wanted or what I hoped for well ahead of time and, when those moments approached, I had a very good sense of what I wanted to do.
What is your preferred non-hametz pasta substitute?jakke
I can’t say there’s really anything during Passover that I prefer. The truth is that after two days of Passover, I’m ready to be done with Passover.
But, to answer your question, I’ll go with matzah farfel.
Relatedly, who has Kosher for Passover recipes for me so that my family and I won’t be totally miserable for eight days?
I just got this ad in an email from a local concert venue.
It reminded me of the sign I saw someone holding one year at the Austin City Limits music festival:
"All they play in Hell is Rascal Flatts"
CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatives. Now, it’s just wide out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny and a redefinition of what is comedy.
He’s talking, of course, about Stephen Colbert … who hates “traditional American values” so much that he teaches Sunday school.
I can only imagine that Rush is upset about CBS choosing Colbert to replace Letterman because he believes the real traditional values are taught in synagogues on Saturdays.
I’m going to go ahead and guess that Rush doesn’t know the first thing about Colbert — which is bolstered by the fact that he calls him “Kohl-burt” rather than “Kohl-bear” — except that his Comedy Central persona satirizes conservatives. And that was enough for Rush to give his well-reasoned opinion.
On the plus side, at least his ridiculous opinion wasn’t as off-the-wall as this.
Before all the announcements about retirement and replacement, when was the last time you watched Letterman?