May 24, 2019

The Pioneer Complex

books on wooden deck tabletop

When I was a freshman in high school, my classmates and I were given pop quizzes every so often. They were a chore, nobody liked them, and of course, they were mandatory.

One day something dawned on me. “What if I just cheat?” So I did. The next pop quiz I received was tackled with a strategy consisting of looking at the other students’ answers, deducing by intuition, and occasionally just guessing. 

When I received my grade — a retrospectively predictable D-minus — I was fairly mortified, and that was the end of my career as a cheater.

Looking back, of course, there were many reasons why cheating, at least in the way that I cheated, would never be effective.

First of all, the students I was cheating of could have had the wrong answers. 

Secondly, it probably would have, all things considered, been easier not to cheat.

The most important reason by far, however, is that classroom tests are, by nature, designed to be difficult to cheat on. After all, there has never been a high school
student who hasn’t tried to cheat at some point, and even the most oblivious of teachers know this.

This is not a simple anecdote, and my point here could not be further from an Aesopian “Kids, do well in school.” 

Once the young skeptic lets go of his pioneer complex, he may become empowered by the wisdom of his forebears.

Why is this anecdote important? Because many young people can apply their logic to tests but very few seem to correlate that logic to things that truly matter.

When a young American decries America itself, calls it a totalitarian country; when a young scholar cites religion as the cause of all wars and bloodshed in history; when a child turns his or her back on family and swears allegiance to the board of education, there’s a pioneer complex going on.

Why does the young generation tout itself as the “progressive” generation, among other names? Simply put, they’re under the impression that they’re the first people ever to popularize — perhaps even speak or think — such notions.

They’re not.

Nietzsche, one of the first to call himself a nihilist, coined the eternal “God is dead.” Karl Marx, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”  

But anyone who has read the Book of Exodus knows that rejection of one’s own God, people and country has pre-dated the known world.

There’s a certain level of truth to their notions, but then, the student who cheats on a test might occasionally answer a question correctly; without a basis in research, this truth can never be fully realized, not even in their favor. Those can most successfully argue their case who swallow their pride and examine the history behind their notions, rather than believing that history begins with them, or that they are the first to entertain these thoughts.

If the young atheist takes into consideration the possibility that religious zealotry may have been borne of evil, rather than the other way around, this not only would
mean giving merit to the views of others who may disagree (such as I), but also giving themselves a true platform to refute those opposing views.

Once the young skeptic lets go of his Pioneer Complex, he may become empowered by the wisdom of his forebears; even if his perspective doesn’t widen, he is likely to become a more potent speaker and thinker. 

But this can happen only if the notion of “firsthood” is discarded.

Remember — all the true inventors, innovators and pioneers — our Teslas, our Turings, our Einsteins — had a deep understanding of the history behind their notions. They studied under mentors, they read tomes upon tomes of references, and — even if God wasn’t a part of their spiritual vocabulary — they recognized that they were not the sole proprietor of right and wrong.

Because, in the end, why cheat on a test when you can ace it, and, in doing so, prove the teachers wrong?

Noah Mamet is a writer, artist and aspiring composer. Born in Boston, he currently lives in Utah, studying content writing and digital media. 

A Good Name

books on wooden deck tabletop

We all want the best for our children. We all want to help them succeed. We should all know, however, that there are lines which must not be crossed. 

Getting a tutor for your child who is struggling in math? Of course — if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford it.

Sitting with your kid, helping them think about what topic they should choose for their essay? Not a problem.

But committing fraud? Stealing a university spot from a more qualified student? Conspiring to create fake athletic credentials for your child, in a sport they have never even played or that their high school doesn’t even offer? You’ve got to be kidding me.

The college admission scandal that has been in the news these past few weeks is personal for me. It’s not just that my oldest went through the process last year with SAT and ACT prep classes, college visits and essays, and then the painful and anxiety producing season of acceptances, deferments and rejections. It was personal in another way. As I read the list of names of the accused, I saw two that I recognized: parents of children whom my kids had gone to preschool with years ago.

I wondered how these people I had known as decent, loving parents and seemingly fine, upstanding members of our community could have justified such reprehensible behavior — if they indeed did what they are accused of having done.

Yes, we all want our children to succeed in life, but what do we mean by success? Is getting into an elite university our measure of success? Is it so important that we would sacrifice our integrity or, even worse, the integrity of our children to achieve it?

This is much bigger than the 50 or so individuals named as part of the “Operation Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal. Our culture needs fixing. 

“We all want our children to succeed in life, but what do we mean by success? Is getting into an elite university our measure of success?”

We need to rethink our definition of success, of status, of what constitutes “bragging rights” for parents and students — and for the rest of us as well. We need to rethink how a “good name” is acquired, what we call a shem tov in Hebrew. That’s what those parents and students wanted. What they got was quite the opposite.

 Here’s the important lesson: a good name, a shem tov, cannot be purchased. It is earned through a lifetime of goodness.

In the words of our Sages: ‘ “A good name is better than precious oil; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” ’ (Ecclesiastes 7:1) They asked [King] Solomon: Why is a good name better than precious oil? He replied: When a person is born, no one knows what he or she will become, but when they leave this world with a good name — a good reputation — they inspire others to do good deeds by their example…. And when others speak of them, they say: ‘How righteous was this person! How great were her acts of righteousness! How learned was he in Torah! How devoted was she to a life of mitzvot — a life of duty! Surely will his sleep be with the righteous!’ ” (Midrash Tanchuma, Vayakheil 1:3)

This is what we should want for our children and ourselves. This is the success for which we should strive: a life of integrity; a life of goodness; a life well-lived that will inspire others to live well.

Make no mistake: As Jews, learning matters deeply to us. But, in the end, the most precious diploma we can ever aspire to earn is a shem tov.

Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback is the senior rabbi at Stephen Wise Temple.

Dating 101 – The 7 Year Itch

Last night I was contacted by a man online who said he’d like to take me out. He was 56 years old, Jewish, attractive, 5’10”, and seemed interesting. We emailed a couple of times, then I gave him my phone number because email is a painful way to meet someone. He called within about an hour and was charming on the phone, until he wasn’t. After the obligatory dating small talk, he decided it was time to be honest.

He began by letting me know he was actually 66. He assured me he looks 56 and said I clearly thought he was younger as I responded to his interest. I am not interested in dating a man who is 66 years old, so I simply told him that while I appreciated the interest, I wished him well with his search and was going to decline his invitation for drinks. He then told me I was a “silly young woman” who needed to be realistic.

He let me know that if I gave him a chance, I could fall in love and we could be together for the rest of our lives.  He then told me that in seven years he would be 73 years old and probably too old to scratch his seven year itch. Probably. He went on to explain in seven years I’d be 59, and undoubtedly would have no sex drive, so we would be perfect for each other and could enjoy our golden years.

I pointed out that he was 66, and suggesting I would be uninterested in sex at 59, didn’t speak well to a healthy sex life with him. He explained that women get “dried up” around 55 and men can have sex until they are 100 because they are more sexual beings. I reminded him he would not be interested in sex seven years from now, and he reminded me he said “probably”, not definitely. Dear Lord. I just can’t.

I wished him well with his search, shared that no good could come of his lying about his age, and told him he was a pig. Not necessarily in that order. I then hung up on him, made myself a cocktail, and went to bed with the cat. My dating life has always been interesting, but as I get older, it seems to be getting less interesting. I have a date tonight, which I am tempted to cancel, but I will go because I remain hopeful and am keeping the faith.


Dating 101: Hookers and Judgment

Yesterday I was written to online by a 59-year-old man. He was attractive and had written an honest and funny profile about himself. He stated he was newly divorced and just starting to date. It was charming and I appreciated the honesty, so I wrote back. After 2 notes I gave him my number and he called. We are grownups, and texting and email is painful when getting to know someone, so we quickly jumped to a call. He reached out and we began the dating interview.

I found him to be interesting and witty, and was enjoying our chat, until I wasn’t. When he said he was newly divorced, what he meant was that he had signed his divorce papers last week. While he has been out of his marital home for a year, he is barely divorced and still hanging onto his old life. He spoke a lot about his ex-wife, which is fine, until it wasn’t. I suggested that perhaps he hadn’t been divorced long enough to know how it would affect him. I also told him dating had changed a lot in the years he had been married.

I explained that while I had been divorced forever, I remember my first relationship after divorce and it was doomed from the start because I arrived with so much baggage that still needed to be unpacked. He let me know he had unpacked all his bags already and was good to go. I explained that after 24 years of marriage, perhaps he should sew some wild oats and have single fun before diving into a relationship. Sleep with new people and discover who he was at this stage of his life.

He then assured me he had sewn his oats already. Without being prompted to go on, he let me know he had a sexless marriage and had spent the last few years of said marriage sleeping with hookers. He felt it was the respectful thing to do because he wanted the marriage to work, just needed sex, so he made it a business decision rather than an emotional one. Oh. My. God. Who tells someone they just met, and are interested in dating, they not only cheated, but paid for sex with hookers?

Important to note I have no issues with women who have sex for money. I have a good friend who worked as a prostitute to put herself through college. We met a few years ago while getting our nails done and I not only love her, but have no judgement about how she makes her money. When it came to this man however, I found myself sitting in a pile of judgement. I don’t care that he paid for sex, but that did it while married “to respect his wife”, is ridiculous and disgusting.

I can applaud him for being so honest I suppose, but no. He asked if I would like to go out on a date and I chose to decline. I also chose to suggest to him that perhaps he withhold some information from women moving forward. There is a lot to be said for honesty, but there is some information that simply does not need to be shared. I cannot think of any good that come out of my knowing the man I am dating not only cheated of his wife, but did it with hookers on a regular basis and over a long period of time.

It has been an interesting few days in my dating life. I was asked out by a man who was 82. I was also asked out by a man who was 25. They weren’t even the weird one. I was asked out by a man who is on parole and has limited mobility. Whoever said dating was fun, was drunk. Not tipsy and cute drunk, but vomiting on yourself and falling down stairs into a gutter drunk. I have been dating for a long time and I am tired. Not tired of dating, because I know it is necessary, but tired of the game.

I remain hopeful, which is key. Without hope there is no need to keep dating. I will meet a great man one of these days. He will be Jewish, not married, not wearing a parole tracker, and the only hooker he is interested in will be the one I am roll playing while we have a sexy night in Vegas. There is the right man out there looking for me. We will stumble upon each other one of these days. I simply need to pay attention, keep my eyes open, keep my heart open, and keep the faith.







Dating 101: Ex marks the spot

I do not have relationships with my exes. I think it complicates things, and have never really understood how people do it. Important to note I define an ex by the presence of love. I have dated men who I cared about and thought that I loved, but there have been very few men who I have really been in love with. Soul cradling love that makes you see the world in colors you never knew existed. I have loved like that twice in my life. Once with my ex-husband, and once with the Englishman.

There are degrees of love I suppose. Differences between loving someone and believing they were your soulmate. A bashert. Someone you feel was placed on earth by God to be your person. My ex-husband is the first man I ever loved. I can remember looking at him when we first started to date and thinking he would be the father of my children. Our courtship was fast we were engaged after only weeks. We were young and in love and I thought we would be married forever.  We weren’t, but we have a child, and so he is my bashert.

Our son is magnificent and truly equal parts of his dad and me. He looks like his dad, but his personality is all me. He has my sense of humor and his dad’s desire to do right by the planet and others. I will always love my ex-husband because he is a part of my child and if I didn’t love him, then what does that mean about the parts of my kid that are just like him? We don’t have a relationship, and haven’t for years. He has a horrible wife who never quite forgave me for being the mother of her husband’s only son.

I feel sad for her and also for him. They blocked a lot of great things for my son by our strained relationship. I’m not blaming them for everything, because I had an equal hand in it, but when push comes to shove and blame must be assigned, my hands are clean. The end of a relationship is tragic for everyone involved and whether you are married or dating, kids are often hurt by the loss. I loved the Englishman in a soul crushing way, I also loved his children as if they were my own.

His oldest child is a remarkable person who has no idea how great she is. His youngest child has the heart of an angel and made me smile every moment we were together. We were building a life together and our children were like siblings. I thought he was the man I’d grow old with.  We spoke of the kids growing up and going off to college, and we would move to England and drink lots of tea. It was great and while we certainly had our share of relationship troubles, he was my person. You can imagine my surprise when he not only broke up with me on Facebook Messenger, but was cheating.

After we broke up I did not see his kids. There were a series of miscommunications, and one day contact just stopped. Not only between me and his kids, but between our children and each other. These two young people, who had woven themselves into my heart were gone. It was heartbreaking because I loved them. Still do. It is strange to have spent the last year in London as I thought I would be living here with him by now. I am not sad to not be with him, but sad for what was damaged.

The Englishman and his children mattered to me. I trusted him with my heart and more importantly, with my son. He broke that trust. Not only broke it, but then shit all over it. He is now living with the woman he cheated with and I hope he is happy. She clearly was able to give him something I didn’t and that is okay. I wanted him to be happy when we were together and I want that for him now. Just because he is unworthy of me and my son doesn’t mean he is unworthy of other things.

I have not seen him in over four years, but today I am flying back to Los Angeles from London and it turns out the Englishman is on my flight. Oy to the vey! He sent me a text last night when he heard we were on the same flight. It was somewhat ominous and threatening to me, but it turns out he thought he was being funny and breaking the ice. Um, no. My heart felt hurt and I did not sleep in anticipation of my flight. I prayed I would not see him. Which is very sad to me.

My heart has healed, and life has gone on, but I can’t help but wonder how things could have been and should have been different. I wonder if he ever really understood how much I loved him. I wonder if he ever really loved me. He couldn’t have known how much I loved him or wouldn’t have done what he did. He could not have loved me, or couldn’t have done what he did. What he did damaged not only me, but our children. My son was a baby when I got divorced, but he watched this break up and what it did to me.

At the end of the day none of it matters. We were together for a short time, a long time ago, and I am fine because I am always fine. In the interest of full disclosure, it is 8:40 am and I am having my second Cosmo. I feel nervous, anxious, sad, tired and ultimately sick as I am dealing with some medical stuff and am emotionally and physically drained. I would have given anything to not have had to deal with this today. Life is funny though and can throw you a curveball.

My father used to tell me I was a wonderful human being. As sit here getting drunk in anticipation of seeing someone I probably won’t see, I believe him. I loved the Englishman in a way people dream of being loved. Our not being together is not a reflection of me, as much as it is a reflection of him. He is blessed to have been loved by me and I am blessed to know I can love like that. My son is picking me up at the airport and I can’t wait to see that beautiful boy. Life is grand, love will be found, and I am keeping the faith.









Braun issues apology for doping in MVP season

Banned Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun acknowledged on Thursday he used performance enhancing drugs during his National League Most Valuable Player season in 2011.

“During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used,” Braun said in a statement published on the Brewers' website.

“The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately,” he added.

Major League Baseball (MLB) in July suspended Braun for the rest of the season, at least 65 games, saying that he had violated the league's joint drug prevention program.

No details were given of the offence committed by Braun but he had been suspected of procuring performance enhancing drugs from Biogenesis, the now-shut Florida anti-aging clinic that was investigated by MLB.

Previously Braun was suspended for 50 games by MLB after he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels during the 2011 sseason but that ban was overturned in February 2012, after he successfully appealed claiming his tests were mishandled.

After winning that appeal, Braun made critical comments about the collection of his urine sample and the collector, saying that he viewed the process as “suspicious”.

On Thursday, Braun revisited his comments and said he was embarrassed by them.

“I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator's decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn't want to believe that I had used a banned substance.

“I think a combination of feeling self righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality.”

Braun said he was now in the process of trying to understand why he responded the way he did, acknowledging there was no excuse for it.

“For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth.

“I was never presented with baseball's evidence against me, but I didn't need to be, because I knew what I had done. I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of – and the punishment for – my actions,” he said.

Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami, Editing by Larry Fine

Forget Braun, new film reminds us we have Al Rosen to go with Koufax and Greenberg

When Ryan Braun was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2011, Jewish sports nuts talked about whether the Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger would end up in the pantheon with Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax.

Following Major League Baseball’s recent suspension of Braun for using performance-enhancing drugs, the answer seems to be a clear no.

Forgotten in the discussion of Jewish diamond greats is Al Rosen, a power-hitting third baseman who was a member of the tribe in more ways than one, playing his entire career for the Cleveland Indians.

But now comes a new documentary, “Beating the Odds: The Al Rosen Story,” celebrating Rosen’s contributions to baseball as a player and executive, as well as being a role model for American Jews.

Rosen’s MVP season of 1953 followed on the heels of Greenberg’s two MVPs (1935 and 1940) and preceded Koufax’s one MVP (1963) and three Cy Young Awards (1963, 1965 and 1966).

Like Greenberg — his idol — Rosen was nicknamed the Hebrew Hammer. Like Koufax, he enjoyed a brilliant career abbreviated by injury.

Rosen was a four-time All-Star who played in the 1948 World Series — the last one won by the Indians — and two seasons later led the American League in home runs with a rookie record 37 (he qualified as a rookie despite appearing in games the previous three seasons with Cleveland). His MVP was the last for an Indian.

He would help lead Cleveland back to the Series in 1954, but the Tribe was swept by the Willie Mays-led New York Giants.

Two years later, at age 32 and after just seven full seasons, Rosen played his last game, done in by a finger injury and back problems. Another factor: He learned Greenberg, by then the Indians’ general manager, was planning to cut his salary or trade him.

“I feel like my career was aborted,” Rosen, 89, told JTA in a recent interview. “It’s been troubling me over the years. I don’t dwell on it because it’s not worth dwelling on.”

The new documentary serves as a reminder that while Rosen might fall short of the Greenberg-Koufax bar, he should never be forgotten in discussions about the greatest Jewish baseball players.

The film was financed in large part by the Indians, who are selling it at Progressive Field souvenir stands and on the team’s website.

It chronicles the asthmatic Rosen’s rise from his native Spartanburg, S.C., to Miami, where his family moved to improve his health, through his youth exploits as a boxer and on to an accomplished baseball career. Rosen hit for a .285 average, slugged 192 home runs and batted in 100 or more runs five consecutive seasons.

Rosen is “one of the great names” in Indians’ history, said Bob DiBiasio, the team’s senior vice president for public affairs.

“We really felt it was important to participate in this project because you do need to document the rich history of the game and our franchise,” DiBiasio said.

The documentary was completed earlier this month, 60 years since Rosen was named MVP. Due to Major League Baseball’s licensing fees for footage, filmmaker Bill Levy opted to tell the story through interviews, narration and still photographs rather than utilize clips of Rosen hitting and fielding.

“He was a hell of a baseball player,” said Levy, who produces corporate films but as a journalist covered the team during Rosen’s career. “In his era, Al Rosen was a hero, Jewish or not Jewish. He was a hero to me. He carried himself in a dignified way.

“With this Ryan Braun thing, [Rosen’s] position as one of the three top Jewish baseball players of all time is still unchallenged.”

The 57-minute film’s other subtitle, “Making Elmer Yoter Eat His Words,” is a slam at the minor league manager who brought the 17-year-old Rosen to tears after a workout by saying he’d never amount to anything as a ballplayer.

“You’re wrong, Mr. Yoter, and some day I am going to make you eat your words,” Rosen is quoted as responding.

That was hardly the only opposition faced by Rosen. A football coach at his Miami Senior High School implied that Jewish athletes were soft — that they preferred tennis to contact sports.

“That’s etched in my memory,” Rosen says in the film. “You could never get it out of there because I always wanted to prove this guy wrong.”

The film also recalls Rosen approaching the Chicago White Sox dugout to challenge the player who screamed anti-Semitic slurs during a game at Comiskey Park. Rosen never found out the player’s identity, and told JTA that he admired Saul Rogovin, a pitcher and also a Jew, for not ratting on his White Sox teammate.

“I could imagine he was in a very difficult spot, and he handled it absolutely correct,” said Rosen, who ran into Rogovin years after the incident and asked about the heckler’s identity.

Rosen’s integrity also comes through in the documentary.

In 1953, Rosen nearly achieved the rare Triple Crown — finishing the season leading the league in home runs, runs batted in and batting average. Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers won the trifecta last year, only the 13th player in baseball history to accomplish the feat.

Heading into the final game, Rosen was first in homers and RBIs, and was neck and neck with Mickey Vernon of the Washington Senators for the batting title. Vernon had picked up two hits in four at bats against the Philadelphia Athletics; Rosen was 3 for 4 against the Tigers. If Rosen could hit safely in his last at-bat, he could secure the batting title and the Triple Crown.

Rosen topped a slow grounder to third base but was nipped at first trying to leg out the infield hit. He finished at .336, one point short of Vernon. Rosen led the league in homers (43) and RBIs (145), along with runs (115), total bases (367) and slugging percentage (.613).

“I knew I was out,” Rosen tells Levy of the deciding play. “I couldn’t have accepted being called safe on that play. … I just wouldn’t have been able to live with that. I was glad he called it right, and I accepted it. That’s just the way it was.”

So dominant was Rosen in ’53 that he won the MVP unanimously — a first. He wrote thank-you letters to each writer who cast a vote.

The next year, the Indians recorded one of the best regular seasons in baseball history with 111 victories before losing to the Giants in the Series. Rosen was on base when the Giants’ Willie Mays made his legendary catch of Vic Wertz’s drive to deep centerfield in Game 1 (Rosen said he fully expected Mays to make the play).

Perhaps the documentary’s greatest revelation is Rosen’s role in helping George Steinbrenner purchase the New York Yankees in 1973. (The two men had been part of a failed effort to acquire the Indians.)

Rosen later worked for Steinbrenner as the Yankees’ president and chief executive officer, and was there for the team’s 1978 World Series title. Rosen went on to run the Houston Astros and the San Francisco Giants, leading the latter to the 1989 World Series (a loss). He is still the only person to have won an MVP and been named Executive of the Year (in 1987, with the Giants).

Rosen retired from the front office in 1992. Were he heading the Milwaukee Brewers now, Rosen told JTA he’s not sure how he would have handled Braun, the son of an Israeli Jewish father and Catholic mother. The film came out before the suspensions of Braun and other players were announced. Rosen recalled that one of his Giants players had a cocaine problem.

The suspensions are “a terrible blow for baseball,” Rosen said. “I feel badly that it happened, I feel badly for baseball and I feel badly for the players. There will always be a tarnish on all [their] accomplishments.”

He added, “It’s not only Ryan Braun but many other fellas. But I know one thing: If I were a player today, I wouldn’t take anything without a doctor saying so and without a written note from the doctor.”

Rosen, the only living member of the starting lineup of the ’54 Indians, occasionally sees some of his contemporaries living nearby, including Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner, an Indians teammate. He follows baseball with great interest, and said he’s particularly impressed by the performance of the Tampa Bay Rays and their manager, Joe Maddon.

And he’s technologically hip. Rosen follows international affairs closely — he includes three or four Jewish newspapers in his daily online reading — and stays in contact with his widespread family by Skype. All the Rosen households — he and his wife Rita have five children, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter — have received a DVD of the film.

“That’s one of the things that makes me happy,” Rosen said of the documentary. “It’ll be something the kids will have.”

Praise for Selig and no sympathy for drug cheats

From the ballparks to the anti-doping war rooms of those leading the battle against performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball's crackdown on drug cheats was hailed as an MVP moment in the fight against doping on Monday.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), that not long ago labeled MLB's anti-doping efforts “a joke”, praised commissioner Bud Selig's get-tough stance.

And the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) viewed the unprecedented suspension as a dramatic shift in the doping culture.

“All clean athletes won an MVP award today, as this is a strong and powerful message that their rights and the integrity of the game will be protected,” USADA chief Travis Tygart told Reuters. “When truth and integrity are upheld that's a good day for clean athletes.”

Following an exhaustive MLB investigation into players linked to Biogenesis, the now-shut Miami anti-aging clinic accused of distributing performance enhancing drugs, Selig dropped the hammer on the drug cheats.

He handed out bans to 13 players, including a record 211 game suspension to baseball's highest paid player, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

“WADA commends the actions taken by the MLB in suspending 13 players associated with the performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) scandal concerning the Biogenesis Clinic in Miami,” WADA said in a statement.

“As we have said previously, non-analytical methods are proving to be an increasingly effective means of helping uncover those athletes who have committed foul play and breached anti-doping rules.

“The MLB has approached the matter in a professional manner throughout, and we look forward to maintaining our close relationship as we move forward in our efforts to protect clean athletes and advocate doping-free sport.”

The 14 players caught in the MLB drug sweep, including Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP who earlier accepted a 65 game suspension, received little sympathy from fellow players although the players' union said it would back Rodriguez's appeal of his ban.

As the suspension announcement approached, the Twitter-verse exploded with reaction, most of it directed at the drug cheats for the damage they have done to the great “American Pastime”.

“Today is a sad day for MLB, the fans of this great game, and all players who may have been negatively affected by others selfishness,” tweeted Tampa Rays Evan Longoria.

“Ultimately, although today will be a day of infamy for MLB, it is a tremendous step in the right direction for the game we love.”

Tygart singled out Selig for particular praise and Rodriguez for scathing scorn for appealing his suspension and failing to face up to his punishment.

Long accused of turning a blind eye to doping, Selig has seen the light after a series of drug controversies that have badly tainted the sport, and evolved into an anti-doping hardliner.

“I commend the commissioner for his leadership on this issue,” said Tygart.

“Obviously they learned in the late 90s and early 2000s this (doping) is the biggest threat to sport and to have the commissioner of one of most popular pro leagues in the world to take a firm stand and support it is really refreshing and give all clean athletes hope.

“They absolutely did the right thing, when you are between a rock and hard place and you do the right thing that is true leadership.”

Reporting by Steve Keating; by Julian Linden

The shandah factor: What makes Jewish sex scandals different?

The guy with the socks up. The guy with the pants down. The guy with the headlocks. The guy who tweets and deletes.

What is it with these male politicos? And why are they all Jewish?

The cloistered community that is Washington’s Jewish elite collectively choked a little Saturday morning as it progressed through a column in which Gail Collins of The New York Times named the protagonists of what she dubbed the “Weiner Spitzer summer.”

“Ever since the Clinton impeachment crisis, we’ve been discovering how much personal misbehavior we’re prepared to ignore in elected officials,” Collins wrote. “Hypocrisy, for sure. Adultery, definitely. Chronic lying, maybe. Financial skullduggery, possibly.”

Those seeking absolution this month for past misdeeds include Anthony Weiner, now running for New York mayor, who quit Congress in 2011 after he was caught saluting a female Twitter fan in his boxer briefs; Eliot Spitzer, now in a bid to be Gotham’s comptroller, who quit as the state’s governor in 2008 after the revelation that he patronized high-priced call girls — and allegedly kept his knee-highs on while doing so; and Bob Filner, who quit Congress last year to become San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years and is now facing a welter of sexual harassment claims, including allegations involving something called the “Filner headlock.”

[Related: Weiner acknowledges latest revealed lewd exchange]

Rounding out the sordidness is the baffling case of Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who was caught tweeting and deleting messages to a bikini model during the State of the Union address in February. Turns out she was his recently discovered love child. Then it was discovered she wasn't. Then he commented on the looks of a female reporter who asked him about the situation.

In her column, Collins did not identify the protagonists as Jewish, but their collective appearance in print unsettled Jewish political players who were whispering their names at social gatherings over the weekend.

“If we need a reminder of how Jews are like everyone else, this is a useful one,” said Ann Lewis, who as White House communications director managed the fallout from President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal and whose brother, former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, was caught up in a scandal in the 1980s involving a gay escort. “It does help bring us down to earth.”

Unlike other lawmakers caught in scandal, Lewis said, Jewish politicos are less likely to face the charges of hypocrisy that have afflicted others caught with their pants down.

“Jewish politicians by and large have not been huge advocates of patrolling other people's sex lives,” Lewis said.

The cases all have their own particularities.

Spitzer's lapses were crimes, though he was never prosecuted for them. Filner's might yet land him in court; his former communications director said this week that she was suing the mayor for sexual harassment. And the ones with Weiner and Cohen are just bizarre, though no one has suggested they are criminal.

Filner thus far has rejected calls for his resignation, while Spitzer and Weiner are both trying to rehabilitate their political careers after retreating from the spotlight in the wake of the scandals. On Monday, however, Weiner acknowledged that he had sent more explicit photos and texts to a woman, though the exact date of the exchange was unclear.

The Cohen saga began in February, when reporters noticed his tweet to bikini model Victoria Brink, who had told Cohen via Twitter that she had seen him on TV. “pleased u r watching, ilu,” he replied, using the shorthand for “I love you.”

The unmarried Cohen had a relationship with Brink's mother, who had told the congressman that the model was his daughter. CNN reported last week, however, that a DNA test showed Cohen and Brink are not related.

Asked about the situation by a young female reporter, Cohen said, “You're very attractive, but I'm not talking about it.” Cohen almost immediately sought out the reporter to apologize, saying he had not meant anything untoward.

“Been tough week, then this,” Cohen said in a tweet. “Sad 2 say I'm not perfect.

Political observers attribute the various scandals to the same factors that have led other politicians into the halls of shame: arrogance, insularity and just plain loneliness.

“Anyone who wants to run for Congress has to be a little bit crazy, and that includes Jewish members of Congress,” said a longtime Capitol Hill staffer who has worked for a number of Jewish lawmakers — none tinged by scandal.

The perpetual fundraising, unfettered accolades from supporters and the rarity of staffers who push back when a boss crosses the line insulate lawmakers from reality checks, according to a number of Hill staffers. The rigors of living one's life under the constant glare of media scrutiny may also be a factor.

“When people are separated from their families for a long period of time, things occur that wouldn't necessarily occur if your family was there,” said Robert Wexler, a former congressman who described his first months in Washington as hellish, eventually leading to his decision to move his family north so he could spend more time with them.

The move was not without a price. In 2008, Wexler came under fire when it was revealed he no longer maintained a residence in his Florida constituency.

“Eventually, your political opponent will claim you are of Washington,” he said.

Sex scandals have not always sounded the death knell for political careers.

Frank continued to serve in Congress for more than two decades after revelations that he patronized a male escort and then hired him as a personal aide. Weiner is leading in several recent polls, and has never polled lower than second since declaring his candidacy in May. And Spitzer enjoys a commanding lead over his Democratic primary opponent, Scott Stringer, the Jewish Manhattan borough president.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Lewis said. “They have a lot of work to do, but if I go back and think about Jewish tradition, you are encouraged to give people another chance.”

But the scandals have certainly exacted a price. Barbara Goldberg Goldman, a leading Democratic fundraiser, said the Weiner scandal was a factor in her decision to fundraise for one of his opponents, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

“Because I am Jewish, because I am a Democrat and I am active in that arena, I see it as a tragedy” that Weiner and Spitzer are running again, Goldman said.

“There are many fine qualified candidates out there who do not come with the baggage,” she said. “Find another day job. It’s chutzpah.”

Opinion: Why powerful men can’t keep their pants on

The number of public men destroyed of late through sexual scandals is simply staggering. Within 48 hours of each other we heard that IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who many believed would be the next President of France, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, until a few weeks ago the Governor of the most populous state in the Union, self-destructed with sex scandals.

The stories themselves are beyond belief. An IMF chief, disciplined enough to oversee one of the world’s most important banks, is alleged to have forced himself on a hotel housekeeper. Schwarzenegger, disciplined enough to rise from immigrant status with a funny accent to become of the biggest movie stars in the world and one of the most powerful men in the United States, apparently could not muster the control to prevent himself from fathering a child with a woman who worked in his home. 

The biggest mistake we make in determining why powerful men cheat is to believe they’re looking for sex. If it’s sex they’re after they have wives who can cater to their needs. No, these men are looking for something else entirely: validation.

Men cheat not out of a sense of entitlement but out of a sense of insecurity. And the bigger they are the harder they fall, not of arrogance but out of fear and weakness. What makes men slowly climb the ladder of success is a desire to prove they’re a somebody. They want to be and feel important. They seek to rise from the poverty of namelessness and the penury of anonymity.

It is not the promise of their potential that drives them but the fear of being a nonentity. They absorb the noxious lie of a culture bereft of values that only money and power will rescue them from being a nobody.

Therefore, even as they ascend the ladder of ‘success’ they do so with a gaping hole in their center. And whatever accomplishments they will shove into that hole – money, fame, power – it goes in one end and comes out the other.

They never feel good about themselves. They are never content. They are defined by insatiability and characterized by voraciousness, which explains why Wall Street bankers who were earning tens of millions of dollars a year still felt it was not enough and cut corners to make even more.

The first rule of success is that there is nothing on the outside that can compensate for a feeling of failure on the inside. External accouterments of success – from armored limousines to an army of personal bodyguards – can never protect you from the din of demons who whisper to you that for all you have achieved you are still are a big zero. And that’s why these men turn to women to make them feel good about themselves.

They want to feel desirable. They seek to silence the inner voices that taunt them as to their own insignificance. Because of its power, sex has a unique capacity to make insecure men feel – however fleetingly – like they’re special.

Having women desire them makes them feel desirable.  So why can’t their wives give them this same feeling? Because the man who thinks of himself as a giant loser sees the woman dumb enough to marry him as a loser squared.

She, as the woman who bears his last name and his children, is part of his entire loser package. But the woman who is not married to him, who has never aligned herself with his failures, remains eminently desirable and can thus make him feel the same.

When Tiger Woods self-destructed with an alleged fifteen mistresses I was asked to be on a TV show discussing why he did it. He had a beautiful wife.

Why wasn’t that enough? The male panelist next to me said, “It’s simple. Men love sexual variety and Tiger had the money and the fame to get it.” I responded, “If it was variety he was looking for, why did he have sex with the same woman 15 times over? Every single one of the women he allegedly cheated with looked just like his wife, a blond-haired Nordic bombshell. There was no variety. No Asian woman, no African-American woman, etc.”

The explanation lay elsewhere. When he was a little boy they took Tiger, put a metal stick in his hand, and told him, “If you learn to use this better than any man who preceded you and knock that little white ball farther than anyone who competes against you, you’ll be a somebody,” which was another way of saying that right now you’re a nobody, you’re nothing. Contrary to the Biblical message that every human being is born a child of god.

Tiger heard the opposite. You are either the child of success are you don’t exist. So no matter how many tournaments he won and how much money he earned in his mind Tiger still remained a nobody with a lot of trophies and a lot of money. But none of that external success changed the original message: he was born a zero.

So he tuned to an endless number of woman to make him feel desirable and special. He sought someone who wanted him for his being and not his sporting prowess. And he was stupid enough to believe that any of these women would be out with him if he weren’t’ a champion.

It was his wife alone who loved him, but in his selfishness he lost her. This also explains why so many men who cheat end up opening up emotionally to the women they cheat with. If it was just sex they were seeking they would not be sending these women texts telling them how lonely they are and how only she, the mistress, understood them.

You may ask what this has to do with a renowned banker and politician allegedly attacking a hotel housekeeper? We don’t yet know all the circumstances of the alleged assault, so I do not wish to discuss this case in particular. But I have counseled enough men in similar circumstances to know that they don’t expect the woman to resist. When you inhabit a $3000 a night hotel penthouse – yet more external accouterments of success –and the woman in question is an immigrant cleaning up, you’re convinced she’ll be as impressed with the bells and whistles of success as you are and she’ll melt like putty in your hands. Her resistance becomes a complete shock.

The motivation, however, remains the same. Men who inhabit the top social sphere are usually driven to get there by a constant need to prove themselves. And in taking a woman who would otherwise have no sexual interest in you and transforming her instantly into a woman who desires you, you quiet the failure demons for even a brief moment.

In this sense, Strauss-Kahn’s comment in an earlier interview with the French publication Liberation, after he had been caught having an affair with a subordinate – “Yes, I love women. So what?” – displays a stunning degree of self-ignorance. The degree to which he loves women was never the issue but rather the degree to which he hates himself.

These scandals of decent men ruining themselves either through affairs or, much more seriously, through allegedly illegally and outrageously forcing themselves on women, should server as a wakeup call to a society that continues to have a single definition of success for men.

It’s not your gentlemanly behavior, sense of personal honor, or your devotion to your wife and kids that makes you special. No one really cares a hoot for all that. It’s rather the level of name recognition and money you attain that really makes you hot. 

Shmuley Boteach, ‘America’s Rabbi,’ is a renowned relationships expert and broadcaster whose books on love and marriage have been translated into 17 languages, with the most recent being, “The Kosher Sutra: Eight Sacred Secrets of Erotic Desire.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


Cheating: The dreaded problem that faces every school across America — and not just the obvious sneak-a-peak-at-your-neighbor’s-quiz cheating. With thousands of essays, articles and book summaries at their fingertips, American students have discovered the Internet, expanding the opportunities both to cheat and plagiarize.

According to a survey by the National Educational Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey, 75 percent of 45,000 students surveyed partake in “serious cheating.” Many rationalize cheating by considering it something that competition forces them to do, and don’t even give their actions a second thought.

But cheating can quickly progress from bad choice to bad habit to addiction. If students become accustomed to dishonesty at a young age, what’s to prevent them from becoming dishonest adults? Although you may intend to only “semi-cheat” one time, each time you cheat it becomes a little easier, and the boundaries you once would not cross become a little more blurred.

Yet high school students today feel so much pressure to succeed that they aren’t even uniformly convinced that cheating is wrong.

“I know that a lot of people at my school copy other people’s homework when they don’t have time to do it — people now think that’s OK,” said Olivia Coffey, a senior at Marlborough School, a private girls school in Hancock Park.

Students “have so much stress and work that they are constantly overwhelmed, and feel that if they don’t do well on everything — which is most of the time impossible — then they’ll die,” Coffey said, echoing thoughts expressed by students at both private and public schools.

“It’s quite common around here, because it is common for all teenagers,” said Beverly Hills High School Senior Lisa Gross.

When students look around them and see other students doing well by plagiarizing off the Internet, or using work of students from previous years, they are encouraged to do the same — especially when that is the message they are getting from the wider society.

“I think students cheat because they learn from their mentors that cheating works and gets you ahead in life,” asserted Roni Cohen, a senior at Shalhevet School, a centrist Orthodox high school in Los Angeles. “Take sports for example. Steroids are being used by top athletes, and some of them are getting away with it.”

There also is not agreement as to what constitutes cheating.

Most people would agree that using an essay found on the Internet is a form of plagiarism, whether it is purchased from a Web site or lifted from, say, an encyclopedia site.

But what about using study guides?

Shalhevet sophomore Gaby Grossman thinks that using an Internet service like Sparknotes as “an outlet to review” is not cheating.

“If an author has a difficult-to-understand writing style, Sparknotes is almost necessary,” Grossman said. It does become a problem when students read Sparknotes in lieu of actual books, she added.

The Torah does not suffer from this confusion, said Rabbi Avi Greene, director of Judaic studies at Shalhevet. Cheating is “taking credit for any work that is not your own, knowingly or unknowingly. There is a concept in the Gemara of genevas da’as, which can be either keeping people from actually learning, or misrepresenting work. I think that’s what applies here, and it’s obviously unacceptable.”

Dr. Jerry Friedman, Shalhevet headmaster, adds that “cheating contradicts everything we stand for as a school, as a community and as Jews.”

James Nikrafter, a senior at the Orthodox high school YULA and an editor of the YULA Panther, believes that the root of the problem is competition, especially in Jewish schools.

“You’re doubling up on curriculum, work and time in school, and you still want to participate in extra-curriculars,” Nikrafter said. “What ends up happening is that students don’t have the time, patience or energy, but at the same time they are so scared to fail that they’ll go for the easy way out.”

Shalhevet senior Tamar Rohatiner suggests that schools should incorporate more things like tutoring or a place like her school’s Writing Center, where students help each other, so people don’t feel the urge to cheat.

“Let’s support the people who need help,” she said. “Kids need to learn how to deal with these struggles now, so they’ll be ready for the real world.”

Molly Keene, a senior at Shalhevet, is life editor of The Boiling Point, where a version of this article first appeared.

Speak Up!

Tribe, a page by and for teens, appears the first issue of every month in The Jewish Journal. Ninth- to 12th graders are invited to submit first-person columns, feature articles or news stories of up to 800 words. Deadline for the December issue is Nov. 15.

To participate in the Jewish Journal Teen Advisory Committee, submit up to 200 words on why you should be considered.

Send submissions to

For The Kids

The Adventures of Jacob

Did you know Jacob was an adventurer and a scientist? He figured out that if speckled sheep mate only with other speckled sheep, then their babies will all be speckled. That’s how he became a rich man. He told his father-in-law, Laban, that he wanted “only” the speckled sheep. In Parshat Vayishlach, Jacob has to meet his big brother, Esau, and he’s pretty scared. After all, he cheated his brother out of his birthright.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

I bet Jacob would have liked to have invented one of those Invisibility Cloaks from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Now — well, in five years — you can have one yourself. A professor in Japan has created an “invisibility” cloak. Unlike Harry’s magical cloak, this one is high-tech camouflage. Buy it for Chanukah — but you’ll have to wait until 2008. For more really cool inventions, visit Time for Kids online

Prefer Your Teen to Smoke or to Cheat?

Decades of lecturing around America and of speaking with parents on my radio show have led me to an incredible conclusion: More American parents would be upset with their teenage children if they smoked a cigarette than if they cheated on a test.

How has this come about? This is, after all, an entirely new phenomenon. Almost no member of my generation (those who became teenagers in the 1960s), let alone a member of any previous generation, could ever have imagined that parents would be angrier with their teenage child for smoking than for cheating.

There has been a profound change in American values. In a nutshell, health has overtaken morality. Or, if you prefer, health has become our morality.

The war against tobacco is both a cause and a symptom of this moral confusion. It has saturated American society with the belief that smoking is wrong, even immoral, not simply unhealthy.

Anti-smoking zealots (the term is redundant) in the California Department of Health Services launched a statewide billboard campaign equating cigarettes with drugs. Parents call my show to tell me that when their children see someone smoking, they say, "Look, that person is using drugs!"

Judges in child custody disputes have imbibed the moral idiocy that smoking tells us something about a person’s character. An increasing number of judges take smoking into consideration when choosing which parent is more fit to raise a child. Millions of Americans agree with these judges that smoking is a moral flaw. That is one reason the government airbrushes cigarettes out of pictures of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other famous Americans. If a young American were to see Roosevelt smoking a cigarette or Sir Winston Churchill smoking a cigar, what might happen to that child’s wholehearted acceptance of the smoking-is-bad (not merely unhealthy) brainwash?

I smoke a pipe and cigar, and I am amazed at the certitude and chutzpah in the 5-year-olds who have visited my home who confidently walked over to me to tell me I shouldn’t smoke. Had they seen me drinking alcohol, as children regularly see adults do, it would never occur to them to say such a thing.

That we have a war against tobacco rather than alcohol well illustrates the moral confusion of our time. Eighty years ago, when American society warred against a vice, it was alcohol — because the society cared more about fighting evil than fighting potential dangers to health. Alcohol leads to more child and spousal abuse, as well as to murder and rape, than any other single factor. Was one child ever abused because a cigarette or pipe dulled an adult’s conscience? Have any drivers ever killed whole families because they smoked before they drove?

But in this Age of Moral Confusion we have chosen tobacco, not alcohol, as the villain. Because health and living long are our greatest values.

When I was a boy, I attended baseball games where most spectators smoked, but none cursed. Today, there is no smoking at ballparks, but obscene language is shouted out with impunity. We have traded in opposition to firsthand cursing for opposition to secondhand smoke.

So, ask your children if they think you would be more disappointed in their smoking or their cheating. If your child responds "smoking," you are morally failing your child. If you are pleased with that answer, the situation is even worse. If enough Americans prefer that their children cheat than smoke, we are a doomed society. Nor can the issue be avoided by claiming you don’t want your child to either smoke or cheat. That just means you can’t say that cheating is far worse than smoking. You are another American led to believe that healthy and decent are synonymous.

But if you do believe that, ponder these questions: Would you rather your business partner smoke or cheat? Your lawyer? Your friends? Would you feel better if your doctor cheated on medical exams or smoked?

The questions would have been considered absurd a generation ago. The war against tobacco is a symptom and cause of a shallower society. It has done far more harm to America than tobacco. Just ask your teenager.

Dennis Prager hosts his nationally syndicated radio talk show on KRLA-AM 870
in Los Angeles. He is the author of four books, including “Why the Jews? The
Reason for Anti-Semitism” with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, which will be updated and
rereleased by Simon & Schuster in August. To find out more about Dennis
Prager, visit or
the Creators Syndicate Web site at

Right at the Start

It’s not only that children are killing children. There’s also the fact, chronicled in such publications as U.S. News & World Report, that cheating is up in classrooms across the nation. No wonder educators of all stripes are pondering what it takes to teach ethics to their students.

Because children’s behavior is molded at an early age, it was fitting that the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE), in planning its 20th annual Early Childhood Spring Institute, chose as its theme “Educating An Ethical Child in the 21st Century.” On March 6, nearly 1,100 Jewish preschool teachers joined 80 parents of young children to explore the Jewish side of moral education.