Friday, October 25, 2013

The Holocaust Is In Jeopardy

1. Jeopardy: The risk of loss, harm, destruction
2. Jeopardy: A nighttime game show

Last night on the game show, when it came time for writing the final question to determine the winner, the answer given was: “Which individual was honored by the Swedish, Hungarian, and Israeli governments for his humanitarian work during World War II?”

The three contestants were all in their early forties, and the woman in the middle with the least amount of winnings to bet, incorrectly answered, “Wesel (sic).” The man next to her had written “Eisenower (sic),” and he was also wrong. The final contestant, a man by the name of Rosenthal who had the largest accumulation of money, wrote “disrali (sic).”  Disraeli had twice served as Prime Minister of Great Britain; however, he died in 1881, some sixty years before the United States entered the war.

I kept shouting at the screen after each blatantly incorrect answer, “Raul Wallenberg, you idiot,” but using more colorful language.

 For more than ten years, I taught a course at San Jose State University on how the American media covered the Holocaust and the Japanese-American internment during World War II. While many students had been somewhat exposed to the history of the Holocaust in high school, their knowledge was vague about specifics. It was even more so with the internment.

Their overall knowledge of history was lacking, and I would remind them of George Santayana’s profound saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This appeared in his Life of Reason, published in 1905.

The three contestants’ responses were frightening, not because of their poor spelling, but because of their ignorance of one of the most horrific actions that occurred during the war.

Perhaps that’s why many Americans today are either unaware, or don’t care about the atrocities and gross inequities taking place today around the world, and in our own backyard.

With Holocaust survivors and former Japanese-American internees now in their eighties and beyond, and fewer of them around every day, some of those who can speak, do speak to students, civic groups, and anyone else who cares to listen.

When these voices are stilled, it’s up to the rest of us to do what we can to help ensure that the past is remembered, so the world doesn’t have to relive it again.

Here’s a link to one survivor’s story; Edith Tarjan. Cousin Edith in Australia may be upset because I am revealing that she will be celebrating her ninety-ninth birthday on November 20. I hope that she forgives me when I speak to her on that date.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Life Is Give and Take, Part I

Charity Begins at Home
We have been receiving an inordinately large number of solicitations from seemingly worthy, charitable, and non-profit Jewish organizations. We have determined that when you give to one, they in turn make money by selling our name to other such organizations.

As such, we have decided to see what each organization does with our money, and then narrow down our contributions to just a few select ones and give more to them.

Since 2000, we have worked with and contributed to a local Holocaust survivor group, where we know many of the members and know exactly what good our donation would do.

When it came time to selecting others, we waded through solicitations whose cover letters seemed to begin with “Dear Friend,” even though we don’t know anyone there. Some of these groups included the American Jewish Historical Society (who included a membership card), a Jewish student group at San Jose State where I used to teach (who asked for a contribution from $200 to $60,000), the Anti-Defamation League (who included a “Supporter” card for my wallet), and the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (who provided us with twelve address label including six with the “bbyo” logo on them), 

I have donated many of my original research papers on Holocaust denial to the library at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is across West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles is The Museum of Tolerance.

That Museum continuously churns out solicitations stacked within envelopes imprinted with “Urgent Renewal Reminder.” “We’re urgently awaiting your response,”  “Your Response Requested,” to “It’s Time to Renew Your Membership!” and “Your Membership Matters!”

When we received yet another solicitation from the Museum of Tolerance — the fifth within a month or so —we did some basic research. In a full-color, 8-page, glossy solicitation brochure, we discovered that the founder and dean, the very photogenic Rabbi Marvin Hier, had his smiling ponem (face) appearing in eleven visuals. Why was he so happy, you might ask?

According to reports, in 2010 he “earned” $721,714 for his modeling (among other efforts), his wife Marlene earned $344,329 as director of membership development, and to keep as much gelt as possible in the family, his son Alan D. Hier, earned $187,274 as international director of fundraising and communications for SWC Museum Corp.

I just returned their last fund raising form, and declined to give a donation at this time, asking if the Hier family would instead donate to me.

Moral: The more you give; the more someone may want to take.

You can follow Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator blogs from 2012, by going here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

It’s About Time

You may (or may not) have wondered what ever happened to The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator blog that I irregularly published from 2007 through the fall of 2012 on Google’s blogspot.  Along the way, I became involved and overwhelmed with the writing, photography and publishing my book, The Oy Way, on how to learn Yiddish while exercising. If so inclined, you can find its web site here.

Next came the marketing and selling of the book and although that effort consumed even more time, I wrote and “starred” in four YouTube videos demonstrating exercises. These were shot first in noisy Los Angeles, and then in the serene quiet of Japanese Gardens in San Jose. You can find those videos here.

By the time I returned to writing this blog in the middle of 2013, I had misplaced and forgotten my password to get into my blogspot site. I diligently tried to contact anyone at Google for help, and did so by email and phone, and also tried my many tech expert contacts in the Silicon Valley, but it was to no avail. I had already written several new posts so I was not at a loss for words, but was at a loss as to where I could place them. The complete ghoulish Google tale can be found here on my Huffington Post site.

Since the last blog post appeared on September 24, 2012, much has happened in my world, your world, and other worlds.

In October 2012, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, and the Olympics were held in London. In November, Barak Obama was reelected President, and many Tea Party candidates were elected to Congress. They currently hold the country as a hostage, stomping their feet and turning purple holding their breath, trying to get their way.

On December 14, 2012, innocent children and others were murdered in Newtown, and in January 27, 2013, Spain defeated Denmark to win the 2013 Men’s World Handball Championship. There was no noticeable reaction from my Spanish-born wife.  On February 13, 2013, the San Francisco 49ers lost the Super Bowl, and there was no reaction from me. In March 2013, we went to Esalen in Big Sur for our annual spring Tai Ji weekend, and we also vigorously celebrated Armenian Red Cross Month. I fondly remember my Armenian friends from the early 1970s including former Dean Art Margosian at Fresno State who offered to take me back if I didn’t like Detroit, and Roger Tatarian who was once editor-in-chief of United Press International, and brought the UPI’s man in Moscow to our classes. I also remember, I also remember Kazar Kazarian and Nicholas T. Nicholas.

On April 1, 2013, the first smelling television was unveiled in Japan, and on April 16, the deranged bomber brothers killed three and injured 183 at the Boston Marathon. On May 23, I was punched hard in the chest during a table tennis match, and on May 27, the largest flag ever made, at five tons and forty-four miles of thread, was unveiled in Romania. On June 25, 2013, our Supreme Court struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, helping members of Congress in safe, gerrymandered districts to sleep better and work less between then and the 2014 elections.

In July, the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy, and I was in my hometown to celebrate the 60th anniversary reunion of my high school graduating class.  In August, I was told that many physical activities could be conducive to improving my health, including sex, but I was warned against having such contact with either a much younger woman, or another man’s or another woman’s wife. In September, my wife and I celebrated Rosh Hashanah at our annual retreat at Beth Yosemite, and October began with the shutdown of the U.S. Government. It’s a shame we can’t hold the 2014 elections this November and shut up and shut down those in Congress who believe that America is strictly their country, and doesn’t belong to the American people.

In a last ditch effort, I created a new Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator blog that you are now reading, and more than fifty earlier posts can be found here

In the future, there will be other posts on a variety of profound subjects including a Midwestern Rule of Proper Etiquette; geography lessons for Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief officer; how the medical system works against you (even if you aren’t involved with the Affordable Health Act); and how to trim the branches of a tall Santa Rosa Plum tree, even if you are not very tall.

When in the mood, please visit this site again.