Marlene Adler Marks
My girlfriend \"E\" was the first to declare what others had been observing for a while. \"God sure is having a good laugh,\" she said. \"You write a column called \'A Woman\'s Voice.\' And yet you have no voice\". The irony had crossed my mind.
Steven Spielberg\'s new film, "Minority Report," is not exactly a deep take on the problems of "knowing," but since you\'ll probably see it anyway, here\'s where it brought me. The film, based on a science fiction story by Philip K. Dick, argues that the future can indeed be known. Moreover, our security depends upon finding a Pinchas, a zealot who knows what crimes are being committed, and personally stops them. So anxious are we to hire this Pinchas, this future-knower, that we would sacrifice our freedoms for him. It is 2054 in a dark, police-state Washington, D.C, all murder has been foretold by three mermaid-type creatures called precogs, so named because they have pre-cognition. The crimes are prerecorded in the future, then replayed in real time, at which point they are interrupted and prevented by a precrime squad headed by John Anderton (Tom Cruise), the very Pinchas we are seeking. Pretty neat.
A few months ago, I asked my father, now happily retired, what profession he would choose if he were starting over again. \"Oh, I\'d do the same thing,\" Dad said. \"I\'d be a salesman.\" \"A salesman?\" \"Yes. I\'m good at it.\" It\'s Father\'s Day, and I am so glad that Dad is around to read this: Dad, I had you wrong.
I check in periodically with David Tokofsky, who has represented the Eastside on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) since 1995, just to find out how long it takes to stop being considered an outsider. For a Jewish boy on the Eastside, the answer is: more than two terms. Even now, despite winning two elections, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) has made him the target of redistricting, to insure that the next time out, someone with a Latino surname gets the job.
Mother\'s Day is not exactly a Jewish holiday, but it does provide an occasion to consider whether anything new can be noted in that old war-horse, the Jewish mother joke. Surprisingly, I do note several new wrinkles that help explain why even now this Borscht-belt holdover is not going away fast.
My parents visited a year ago while I recuperated from lung cancer surgery and they developed a division of labor.My father would do odd jobs around the house. My mother would feed me. This was a good plan in theory, but in reality, it had loopholes. My father\'s tasks were well-defined: fix a fence, change a light bulb. But my mother struggled. What is it exactly her middle-aged daughter with upper-middle-class tastes liked to eat? The fact is that both of us had long since stopped cooking most of our meals, taking our nourishment from restaurants and take-out. Nevertheless, there persisted in her the belief that when a child is sick, only homemade foods will do. Familiar, nourishing, Jewish foods.
As Israeli-Palestinian violence makes daily life in the Jewish state a living (as opposed to a virtual) nightmare, American Jews are raising the ante on expressions of loyalty. A rabbi recently told me he wants every Jew to travel to Israel this year. A lay leader puts his name on the list for every mission, but breathes a sigh of relief when each is quickly cancelled.
Last week I worried in this space that our college students were ill-equipped to defend American Jewry\'s pro-Israel position. I asked for a volunteer to explain what\'s going on. Luckily, Donald Cohen-Cutler, a UC Davis freshman and an international relations major, stepped up to the plate. I say \"luckily\" because events on campus are even worse than I had suspected. Of course, I remember the beginnings of the Jewish-Muslim rift on campus during the first intifada. But I don\'t remember blatant insults to Jewish ritual and history. That\'s what\'s happening now (see story, page 10).
The third annual daylong symposium sponsored by the Jewish Federation in Worcester, Mass., was titled, \"A Woman\'s Voice,\" without the slightest hint of irony. Less than a generation ago, \"a woman\'s voice\" meant only one thing, the talmudic prohibition of Orthodox men toward hearing the sound of Jewish women in prayer. Kol isha (a woman\'s voice) was used as the legal barrier against women becoming rabbis and cantors, the excuse for exclusion. That\'s why I named this newspaper column A Woman\'s Voice, to break down a wall.
\"Tell the truth, don\'t you think we need to create a wall between Israel and the Palestinians?\" \"Be honest, don\'t you think the United States should send in peacekeeping troops?\" I\'ll tell the truth. I\'m uncomfortable with American Jews, rising from spiritual slumber to suggest Israeli policy. Especially while their college-age children are in earshot. Especially when there is so much they could do besides yak.
There in my darkened doorway were two men in black mid-length coats with long, curly beards and black hats; a younger and an older man, with eyes burning so clear and bright that they seemed to be reading from an inner script. There was about their smiling countenances such a sense of purpose, that the word \"messenger\" sprang to mind. They knew and I knew. They had come for me.
Say what you will about Richard Riordan\'s abortive primary strategy, and the way he naively stepped into Gov. Gray Davis\' trap, but Riordan certainly understood one of his key customers: the Jewish electorate. Too bad we\'ll never see the Davis/Riordan face-off that would have told us so much about ourselves.
The hardest part about writing about brain radiation is writing the words \"brain radiation.\" I assure you that I\'m OK. It\'s my fingers that are typing these words on my computer. It\'s my thoughts that are deciding which of the Yip Harburg lyrics from the Scarecrow\'s song, \"If I Only Had a Brain,\" I should use later in this piece.
When Rabbi Judith HaLevy of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue exchanged rings with Edward Toppel of Chicago last Sunday, hope, like the late afternoon winter sun, burned brightly. If remarriage, as the saying goes, is the triumph of optimism over experience, how much more so when the rabbi herself carries white calla lilies?