Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trying to be Honest

Recently I backed out of my driveway to discover only Newsday and the Wall Street Journal. "No New York Times," I screamed to myself. So I put the car in park and called the Times to report a missed delivery. Later I continued backing the car out of the driveway. There was the Times. It was under my car! I stopped the car again to call the Times and cancel the credit for the missed delivery. No option existed for cancelling a credit so I pressed "0" to speak to a service representative. After waiting some five minutes I finally reached a live person. I explained to him the situation and my mistake. I offered an apology. He explained that the computer would not allow him to reverse the credit. There was nothing he could do. I would have to accept the credit for the missed delivery. "But I made a mistake!" He thanked me for my call. I resolved that for my next vacation I would donate the vacation suspension to schools. I often wonder why it is so difficult to be honest. Why does it require so much effort? Why can't we make it easier for people to be honest? Why can't computers be programmed for honesty as well as dishonesty? Is this experience evidence that so few people take the time to place such a call? The Rabbis teach: "Let truth rise from the earth." I will continue to make such calls. But I will also wait to make such calls until after checking under my car!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bar Mitzvah Montage

My son's bar mitzvah is fast approaching. One of the"rites" is preparing the montage. For those readers not accustomed to how things are done in these parts, the montage is a brief slide show of the child's first 13 years. I often marvel at our privilege and blessing when viewing these photographic essays. The slide shows are often filled with pictures of vacations, celebrations and birthday parties. "Look at all of the places they visited!" I often think to myself. Now I am preparing the montage. "Look at all of the places I have been able to visit! Look at all of the family surrounding us!" I am not sure how the final slide show will look but preparing it has been a true gift. I sifted through some 5,000 pictures on my laptop and a few in old photo albums. "I remember taking that picture. I remember that beach." I remember how I could throw Ari in the air. I remember how I could carry both of my children in my arms. Now my son stands as tall as me and looks directly into my eyes. What a blessing are these memories! What a blessing are these pictures!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting and the Vote

It was by all measures a historic occasion when Barack Obama won the election. In January he will become the 44th president of the United States. To borrow Tom Friedman's analysis this marks the end of the Civil War. I am not so sure about that analysis but I do share Leon Wieseltier's views, who said: "How can a Jew, I mean a Jewish Jew, not rejoice at the election of Barack Obama? Not politically, where the road ahead may be rough; but historically, spiritually. We, too, remember the pharaohs; and we, too, choose never to hate the world; and we, too, have a hope of being saved by America." (The New Republic) I do sense that there is now a renewed sense of hope in this country. I pray that there is a renewed faith in American ideals and apirations. Whether you voted for Obama or McCain the promise of something different and the feeling of participating in history adds meaning to our days. I can't remember the last time I had to wait in line to flip those levers. Usually I am in and out; parking my car takes longer than voting. This time I waited some thirty minutes to cast my vote. I talked with my neighbors. I talked with those in front of me and behind. I am sure there were many different votes in that elementary school gym. There were some who stand to the right of me and some to the left. Regardless of the particulars of our votes, regardless of whether our opinions might have divided us, we stood as one waiting to participate in the dream of America. That alone was enough to restore my hope. May this great country realize all its dreams and all its promise!