I've been thinking a lot lately about my Uncle Milty. It usually
happens this time of year around the High Holidays. He was the one
who made sure I carried on the family tradition of going to shul,
admitting my sins and asking for forgiveness before G-D. My father,
being a Holocaust survivor abandoned his religion way before I was
born. So it was left to the uncle.
This year, however, my wife had to drag me to Yom Kippur services.
Why? Well, maybe it's because I've seen the people I respected the
most, all of the bubbes and zaidies who put up with bigotry, racism,
religious zealotry and Nazis abandon the basic tenets of what it means
to be a Jew.
With all due respect to Sarah Silverman, I do not see this as a
laughing matter. It is impossible for me to justify how "my people"
will not vote for Barack Obama because he has a funny name, or, worse,
to paraphrase Jackie Mason, is a "fancy schvartze."
Have you become so comfortable, Bubbe and Zaidy down in your South
Florida condo communities that you have completely forgotten from
whence you came? Even though, on these, the holiest of holy days on
the Jewish calendar we promise our redeemer that we will never forget?
That we will be tolerant, and righteous and KIND?
My Uncle Milt was once turned down for a job at Con Edison, the New
York-area utility. It was the late 1930's, his father had just passed
away, and it was up to him to support his immigrant mother and his
younger brother and sister. He dropped out of high school. There
were jobs at Con Ed. The interviewer asked him if his last name,
Grosswirth, was German? Uncle Milty said, "It's Jewish." The
interviewer insisted it was German... my uncle, however, did not relent.
The interviewer told him that Con Ed would not hire Jews so please say
he was German. Well, my uncle never got the Con Ed gig.
All of you, my dear Bubbes and Zaidies, have family stories like
these. When did you forget? How did you forget?
Some of you won't vote for Barack because of his name. Okay. Did you
know that Barack is the Muslim equivalent of Baruch...Hebrew for
Blessed? The beginning of EVERY blessing to G-D we ever utter. Some
of you have said you'd vote for him if he changed his name to Barry.
WHAT? When did we forget as a people, our being persecuted for our
names? How many times did your name exclude you from employment, club
membership or staying at a hotel?
Surely my family wasn't the only one asked to display our "horns" by
ignorant Southerners back in the 1960's. Surely my family wasn't the
only ones that were told to go find a "jew hotel." At what moment did
you forget this, Bubbe and Zaidy?
Not voting for Senator Obama because you are afraid is an insult.
It's an insult to those who were murdered because of our names and our
religion. It's an insult to those of us who came after you. To vote
for John McCain and Sarah Palin simply because they are not Barack
Obama is not only a shondeh, it is quite simply, ignorant.
McCain/Palin have come to South Florida to scare you. To drop the
name of the Holocaust on your laps. They've intimated that Obama
consorts with terrorists. That he is not a friend of Israel. But
here is the record:
Gov. Palin belongs to a church that believes Jerusalem is the
launching pad for the Rapture. Gov. Palin sat idly by in this church
while leaders of Jews for Jesus proclaimed that Israel was getting what it deserved because they refused to acknowledge Jesus as the messiah. Gov. Palin is not a friend to our people.
Sen. McCain, for all of his "straight talk" has advisers on his
campaign staff that have records as lobbyists for Saddam Hussein and
And the most heinous is that these two Americans who claim to put
"Country First" have spent the past two weeks whipping up crowds into
frenzy with hatred for Obama. Didn't those hate-filled rallies with
cries to do harm to Obama remind you of anything, Bubbe and Zaidy?
Have you finally forgotten the Nazi rallies in the 1930's that were
used to whip up crowds into similar frenzies while blaming the Jews of
Europe for all of its economic ills?
Surely, Bubbe and Zaidy, you recall the days of McCarthyism, where
scores of Jews were blacklisted from ever working again in this nation
because they went to a meeting or a party that happened to have a
Socialist or Communist as a guest. And Jewish lives and livelihoods
were wiped out because of our names or loose, quite loose,
That is why your refusal to vote for Barack Obama because of his race
and name is so perplexing and disturbing. When did we become the very
people who threatened our existence?
Bubbe and Zaidy...listen to me. You owe this to us. You gave us eight
years of George Bush. Okay, maybe it was an accident. But, you had
your Franklin Delano Roosevelt whom you no doubt still revere.
Barack Obama is OUR FDR! Let us have our chance to have the America I
thought you always wanted for us.
I don't know how my Uncle Milty would have voted. He's gone now. But,
I DO know he would not have dismissed Barack Obama because of his
name, race or out of unsubstantiated fear!
Look, if you want to vote for McCain/Palin because you think they
would be a better team, then go vote. But, if you are voting for them
because they are not a fancy schvartze with a scary name, then PLEASE,
on Election Day, stay home, for us. Or better yet, find a good mah
jongg or pinochle game and leave the future to your little bubbelehs.