It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted anything and thought it was time to do so. A bunch of somewhat random thoughts for today:
(1) My father — According to the Jewish calendar, this weekend marks the “yartzeit” (anniversary of the death) of my father, who died on December 22, 2000. It’s hard to believe that he’s been gone that long and that he missed the birth of two grandchildren and the maturation of two others. I think of him often and wonder if he would be happy with where his children have ended up and what his grandchildren have done. Knowing my dad, I think he would be proud of us and our children and supportive of whatever we decided to do. While like many of us, we struggle to carve out our own identities, especially sons of high achieving fathers, I am proud of what I have been able to take from my father, especially his generosity of spirit and ability to make those around him better.
English: President Jimmy Carter at Lafayette Park (D.C.) Hanukkah menorah lighting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(2) Public Menorahs — I got a call today from the office of the local Chabad office asking me to contribute to their Hanukkah menorah lighting on Sunday, and am glad it went to voicemail. I am a proud and observant Jew (in a liberal fashion), but I not happy that we have public menorahs.
First and foremost, Hanukkah is a minor holiday that most Americans would never hear about (cf. with Sukkot or Shavuot, two important harvest festivals that even many Jews don’t observe) but for the fact that it is in December and is close to the 800 pound gorilla of American holidays, Christmas. I like Hanukkah. I like cooking latkes and eating donuts. I like exchanging gifts. But it’s not a major holiday and having a large menorah sitting in a parking lot makes it seem that way.
Second, I don’t like public Christmas trees either. I think that we should have freedom of and from religion. If a church wants to have a tree or a creche on its property, I think that’s great, but I don’t like that we have one in the public square. Having a menorah and a tree doesn’t solve the issue, it merely disenfranchises everyone who isn’t Christian or Jewish.
(3) The Fiscal Cliff — While there’s too much brinksmanship here for my taste, I do think that there will be a deal done soon and it will have higher top tax rates and some kind of entitlement reform. I also think that the stock market will go up significantly before year end if it’s done. Let’s hope!
New York Knicks logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(4) The New York Knicks — Although I have been a Knicks’ fan for many years, my attention to them has waned, as they have gone through a number of really mediocre seasons. Yet, this year they seem to really have a wonderful team. Last night they showed that, even with their best player, Carmelo Anthony, on the bench with a cut finger, they can beat one of the best teams in the league, the Miami Heat, with a combination of hustle and teamwork. Their coach, Mike Woodson, holds the players accountable and this is producing winning basketball. My Duke Blue Devils are doing well too. This all makes up for the lack on an NHL season….
(5) College Freshman — I am teaching introductory economics at a local college and this semester I have a class mostly full of freshman. While I am quite pleased with the efforts of most of them, some of these students should not be in the classroom. It’s not that they are misbehaving or being distracting to others, it’s that they are disengaged from the learning enterprise. I have one student who is basically failing, who I had to convince that he might need to miss a sports’ practice in order to go to tutoring so he might pass the class. YIKES!
(6) Separation — A couple we know just announced that they are separating after five years of marriage. They got married in their late forties and have no children, but I can’t help but feel really sad about this. I hope that we will remain friends with both of them, although I think it is hard not to take sides in a case like this.
Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Hanukkah (privately!).