Sunday, January 17, 2021


Marlene Adler Marks


First Person – God Laughs?

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.

Oh So Sorry

I\'m sorry I haven\'t eaten more hot dogs. Saturday is Selichot, the time when the whole Jewish world sings with Connie Francis, \"I\'m sorry,\" and vows to do better next time. Many of us are focused on the wrongs we\'ve done to others, or even to God.

The Way We Were

I\'ve been reconsidering what the 1973 schmaltz-filled classic, "The Way We Were," means to younger women.


One glorious sunny day, my girlfriend "C" and I share a seaside restaurant table with a married couple, call them Harry and Sylvia.

Merit and Mazel

I\'ll be 54 this weekend. Not for me the modesty of hidden age. I\'ll take my years, gladly, as I\'m given them.

God Laughs?

I haven\'t had a speaking voice in more than a month. I whisper, a frog croaking through the bulrushes.

Living Through Chemistry

The ancient rabbis practiced a relatively simple form of medicine: cabbage for sustenance, beets for healing.

Fears After El Al

We must know each other, as accurately as possible. If you can\'t invite your local imam into your living room, then go down to your local mosque, yourself, and bring a group from your synagogue with you.

Minority Report

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.

Talk to Me

I owe my life\'s work to Ann Landers. And, of course, her sister, Dear Abby. Dr. Rose Franzblau. And Dr. Joyce Brothers.

The Salesman

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.

Insider, Outsider

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.

Talking to Gabby

Gabriela Jacobo, known as Gabby, at age 17 is a rising radio star.

Thinking Ahead

Even hypothetically, it\'s not so simple. How do I feel about life-sustaining technology? At what point, if ever, would food and water be a form of futile prolonging of life?

Jewish Mother Jokes

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.

In the Soup

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.

Travel Machismo

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.

Young Man on Campus

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 Women of Worcester

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.

Stand With Us

\"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.

Men in Black

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.

New Plagues

Are the Ten Plagues merely a just reward perpetrated against the \"axis of evil\" by a God who is \"on our side\"?

Frequently Asked Questions

I was the oldest child at the Passover table during two decades of social turmoil, and so invariably I was the one to whom questions were directed.

Riordan’s Primary

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.

Sacred Text

Samantha\'s bat mitzvah was seven years ago this weekend. Ki Tisa was her Torah portion. Since then, we\'ve reminisced about the party and the service, but never the point of it all -- the sacred text.

Echoes of Esther

The Purim beauty pageant of 1956 is long forgotten in the shtetl that was Queens Village, N.Y. But for me it is the stuff of personal destiny.

A Map Is a Mirror

No one said redistricting is fun. But this once-a-decade political ritual does provide a mirror to how much leverage a community has, or lacks.

On My Mind

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.

The Rabbi’s Wedding

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?

Judaism From the Bottom Up

One of the most exciting experiments in Jewish transformation is taking place right here in Los Angeles.

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