Constitutionally Right

The only way to predict the future is to create it.

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Location: Yardley, PA (Bucks County), United States

Friday, October 26, 2012

Citizens Who Lead vs. Politicians Who Don't - Bucks County Courier Times October 17, 2012

     There seem to be two types of elected officials - “politicians” and “citizens”.  Politicians suffer from some sort of ego disorder while citizens are just trying to do the right thing.  I first noticed this phenomenon while serving in the Marine Corps.  On rare occasion I’d observe a peer or senior officer who was more concerned with his or her career than with demonstrating the leadership entrusted to provide.
     We’d all just look at one another, shake our head, shrug our shoulders and move on.  What’s the point of being in a leadership position with no intent of being a leader?  Out here in the real world it seems like the roles are reversed.  Real leaders are the anomaly and I’m trying to figure out why.
     Maybe we just don’t know what leadership is.  My own awareness of leadership began as a Student Platoon Commander when I didn’t make sure that everyone had the proper cold weather gear on a really cold day.  For the next two weeks I was the personal target of every Instructor in all of Officer Candidate School. 
     They drove the message home so hard that several years later I gave a young Enlisted Marine my cold weather boots during an exercise 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.  I still almost start to hyperventilate when I don’t put the needs of others before my own.  That’s just how leadership works.  It’s nothing new, but the results are consistently magical. 
     We have one of those Citizen elected officials of our very own in Congressman Fitzpatrick.  This can be demonstrated with almost any issue.  The two that immediately jump out are Health Care and Israel.  There’s “political” positions on each and “doing the right thing” positions.
     We’re stuck in the middle of the correct health care solution and it can/will go one way or the other.  Why some wish to put even more bureaucracy and inefficient government intervention between them and their physician is one of life’s many mysteries.  The other answer is to put the patient in charge of his or her own health care with all of the associated choice, availability and efficiency for EVERYONE.  Imagine a health care system where the entire $2 trillion annual expense goes to actual health care (although that figure would likely decrease due to greater efficiency). 
     Doing the right thing is very easy, but for some reason we continue to make it more difficult than it needs to be.  Congressman Fitzpatrick understands all of this with extraordinary clarity and behaves accordingly.  I would put him in the good leadership category on this one.
     As a Jew who, like Congressman Fitzpatrick, has recently been to Israel I can tell you that our very Jewish identity is at stake if we continue to fall prey to dishonesty and distraction from the real issues.  There’s a swirling negative perception of Israel born out of the typical propaganda that accuses them of violating those things that they value most.  You’d think that after 5,000 years we’d get a break from being blamed for the failures of others.  I guess not.
     No nation in the region (or almost anywhere else, for that matter) is more open and liberal than Israel.  Not only do Arab Israelis have all the rights of non-Arab Israelis in Israel, but they can even freely advance anti-Israeli policies inside the Knesset (the Israeli legislature).  Try that here, even, and it might not go well.
     Congressman Fitzpatrick is well aware (from two trips to Israel) of the history and reality of the region and is one of those elected officials who puts intellectual honesty and Judaism itself ahead of politics.
     I’d just like to thank Mike Fitzpatrick for stepping forward as a citizen of Bucks County representing us all in Washington regardless of party affiliation and thank everyone out there who values people over politics.  If you’re paying attention you know that we’re at a critical crossroads on many issues that will either be resolved by citizens or made worse by politicians. 
     The choice is yours.  That’s how leadership works.

I Did It - PhillyBurbs.com

     I did it.  I sat through the entire 90 minute Presidential Debate on October 16th held at Hofstra University.  This was a very difficult task exposing myself to a smug, arrogant, condescending, self-absorbed and incompetent thing posing as a President, but I felt compelled to do my duty.  What I won’t do for you people.
     The moderator, Candy Crawley, filled my TV screen with a very profound “lib” affect and my heart sank.  Should I just pull the plug and call it a day?  “No, Cory; you must work through this”, I said to myself.  In all fairness, I think that Candy did a pretty good job.
     The debate followed a “townhall” format with a small group offering questions.  A young college student initiated the discussion by asking the combatants how he is to support himself after graduating from college.  Romney said, “I’m going to make sure that you get a job.”  I said, “WTF”.  Obama went into a diatribe about manufacturing, tax codes, education and energy. 
     I felt bad for this kid since no one ever mentioned anything about personal responsibility, accountability and self-reliance.  A Candidate Steiner might have suggested that he be more determined to succeed regardless of conditions.  Overcome, adapt and improvise and stop whining.  I’d then beat his parents for ill-preparing him to be an American citizen.  Seriously.  What an embarrassing opening of a Presidential Debate. 
     I think I’d consider ending it all if I felt that I had to rely on a politician for my lot in life.  Just listening to this actually did make me consider ending it all. 
     Romney continued by speaking about the current state of unemployment which Obama then retorted by saying that our current problems are the direct result of the policies that Romney espouses.  I just sat there staring at the TV making in my pants.
     Obama then went into a tizzy about his energy policy awesomeness.  I won’t go much into it because he lied and then kept on lying.  I started strangling myself, but was saved by Romney as he discussed how US energy production is way down due to permit abuse, ridiculous regulation and a hatred for all things pipeline.
     At this point Romney was “owning” Obama whose policies speak for themselves in the form of a big massive failure of epic failure proportions.
     Romney continued about simplifying the tax code, but went into the typical political-speak of “middle class this” and “high-income that” which really does no one any good.  Obama responded with his relief for the middle-class, tough spending cuts, taking more from the wealthy and somehow worked Big Bird and Planned Parenthood in there.  If they keep at it with all this abortion there won’t be anyone to watch Big Bird anyway.  Make up your minds.
     Then we went into so-called “Inequality in the Workplace”.  Planned Parenthood made another appearance as did contraception through insurance coverage.  I had already committed to you, the reader, that I’d endure this, but at this point I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or stuff my face so I ran to the freezer for some ice cream.  If you get a chance, Breyer’s Natural Vanilla with Skippy Super Chunk added is proof that there’s a God.
     Then some New York lib with the most annoyingly whiney New York accent asked how Romney is different from President Bush and is there a chance that we’ll be returning to those dreaded Bush policies.  Fortunately my wife’s a nurse and was able to give me some sort of injection.  I’m not sure what it was, but it did stop the drooling.  I screamed “serenity now!!!” and continued. 
     Romney said some typical nonsense and I couldn’t figure out what Obama said. 
     What followed next was an onslaught of all the biggies – Medicare, Social Security, the deficit, unemployment, health care, more on the middle-class, poverty, the economy, immigration, etc.  Mayhem began to ensue and was controlled nicely by the moderator; I thought.  There’s a lot of criticism of her, but I didn’t see it.
     Finally a good question - someone brought up Libya.  I’m trying to wrap things up so I’ll be brief.  I’d cancel the debate and start impeachment proceedings.  A stunning lack of leadership unlike anything I’ve EVER seen has transpired and anyone that plans on voting for Obama needs to stay away from me.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you have yet another reason to stay away from me because I will hurt you.  I’m very angry and there’s something horribly wrong with you if you’re not.
     A whole thing went on about those “assault weapons” in the hands of criminals.  The concern should really be over the actual hands of criminals and not an inanimate object.  My neighborhood is a safer place specifically because of my weaponry and would be less safe without it.  Unless  you’re a violent criminal my gun collection is no more dangerous than your shoe collection.
     “Assault weapons” are defined as such by mostly cosmetic features.  The weapons that we’re being led to believe are “assault weapons” have been heavily regulated since 1934 and there’s plenty of safer-looking hunting rifles that are infinitely more powerful.  Maybe if President Obama didn’t put hundreds or thousands of these weapons in the hands of Mexican drug lords for the purpose of furthering an anti-2nd Amendment agenda we’d have one less reason to initiate impeachment proceedings.
     On the topic of “outsourcing” Romney continued speaking about how to make it more attractive to stay in or come to America as opposed to “trickle down government”.  He also discussed how China manipulates their own currency to keep prices artificially low thereby attracting more manufacturing to China.  A counter to this sort of behavior, in his view, would be tariffs.
     Obama responded with job creation, closing loopholes, trading policies and science and research.
     Romney saved my day by saying, “Government does not create jobs.”.  What took you so long to get that out?  You had me scared for awhile.  I was thinking that maybe both candidates were Democrats.
     Romney closed out with some words on his private sector experience.  Obama retorted about free markets, self-reliance and individual initiative which I didn’t buy for some reason.
     Overall, I don’t think that either candidate came away with a resounding upper hand, but Obama’s 4 years speaks for itself.  It’s very clear that I should have run for President, but Romney’s the best we have right now and he might end up doing a great job. 
     If he wins, though, I would suggest resisting any celebration.  The hard work will begin on November 8th to make sure a President Romney stays on course.  It’s our job as American citizens to have at least one eyeball on his ass at all times and restore this nation to its founding principles. 
     It’s up to us and not any particular politician or politicians.  In the mean time I’d really like to somehow get these 90 minutes back.  I should have picked another topic for this week.  That was too much.

    

One Slip-Up and You're Gone - PhillyBurbs.com

     The big first Presidential debate was last night and all I could do was go to Home Depot and Giant.  I considered watching, but just can’t get past the smug arrogance of the person currently occupying the White House.  I probably shouldn’t blame him.  It’s probably more about those who voted for and continue to support him.
     I nervously reached for the radio dial in between stops and tuned into the debate.  A few seconds into it resulted in a cold sweat and a horrible feeling of dis-ease.  I quickly turned to channel 67 where Miles Davis helped me chill out.  Fortunately Giant had a big Haagen Dazs sale which allowed me to continue to unwind with an entire pint of Swiss Vanilla Almond. 
     It might seem as though we’re all helpless, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth.  I’ve found that defriending morons from Facebook is an excellent measure to get our nation back on track.  I’m up to 18 defriendings and am shooting for 20.  I know I can do it.  Some of the reasons include saying anything positive about Obama and suggesting that “9/11” was an inside job.  There’s a few other integrity violations that resulting in a defriending, but those are the big ones.
     Saying something positive about Obama is bad enough.  I just defriend and move on.  But when a fellow Jew outwardly expresses support I defriend and get pissed.  At this point what is wrong with you?  For some reason many of you have some sort of pit-bull death grip on the violent murder of unborn children which guides your voting behavior.  Being an eternal optimist maybe that’s a good thing since it lessens the chances of perpetuating your genes.  Maybe I’m not pro-life after all, but I do think that you should definitely turn in your yarmulkes and Shabbat candles.  At least look at the Torah once in awhile.  At the very least get a refund from your synagogue.
     I know it’s a cliché to say, and all, but our nation was founded on personal responsibility, accountability and self-reliance.  Our current state of politics is founded on irresponsibility and dependence and manifests itself in the lack of character of half the nation.
     The Industrial Revolution didn’t form from legislation, but from the ingenuity of pioneers.  They knew that good working conditions, good pay and teamwork led to prosperity founded on free market enterprise and capitalism.  Free markets are the only condition known to man where everyone’s better off.  Capitalism will create the resources that tend to the poor better than any government program; in part because there’ll be much less poverty.
     Do it right and prosper.  Do it wrong and keep trying until you get it right.  More often than not the right answer is born from the repeated failure of discovering what doesn’t work and is the only path to greatness.
     Ever wonder why inner city blight swirls about in union stronghold cities more so than anywhere else?  Unions are, in effect, the government in these cesspools of failure.  Any connection or is it just me?  Throw the Minimum Wage in there and you’ve got a double-whammy of sending entire industries overseas.
     Thanks again for the venue to vent a little.  I actually feel a little sick so maybe this wasn’t productive.  Our system of government assures that we get the government we deserve so it’s clear to me that our nation is now defined by a lack of character and an overwhelming “what’s in it for me” attitude. 
     I wonder if the Democrat Party can be restored back to the “Ask not…” days and the Republican Party to one with a backbone.  A person can dream can’t they?
     In the mean time I’ll be looking for you on Facebook.  One slip-up and you’re gone.

    

    

"Strength & Courage" Jewish Education Series - Part 3 - Ken Chertow - PhillyBurbs.com

     Meeting Ken Chertow and discussing his accomplishments and contributions simply made my jaw drop.  I’d like to introduce you to Ken, discuss his road to the Olympics and then leave you with his view on achievement.  The ultimate goal of this final example of “Strength & Courage” will be to provide you with a few more tools to apply to your own lives and to those of others.
     A partial list of Ken’s leadership is:
     -          3x Academic All-American at Penn State
     -          2x West Virginia State Wrestling Champion
     -          Junior National and World Champion
     -          Maccabiah Games World Champion
     -          3x NCAA All-American
     -          1988 US Olympian
     Ken grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and spent a lot of time playing a variety of sports and other activities at the JCC and YMCA.  The YMCA introduced Ken to wrestling in his elementary school years.  It was very tough and he did not initially excel.  Baseball was his favorite sport with visions of being the next Sandy Koufax.  It was the challenge of wrestling, though, that eventually won out.
     The Chertow family moved from Chicago to West Virginia where his father became the Chief of Endocrinology at Marshal Medical School while in 7th grade.  It was a busy and fun year of wrestling, Bar Mitzvah studies, piano lessons, baseball and a little basketball.
     The commitment to wrestling was increasing as Ken started lifting weights and going to some serious wrestling camps.  He went from a .500 wrestler in 7th grade to winning most of his matches in 8th.  He kept working hard and improving and continues that theme today.
     Ken’s parents emphasized education over sports, but were supportive.  They were not pushy at all as Ken’s self-motivation kept building in school and wrestling.  Ken’s parents even agreed to replace the ping pong table in the basement with a wrestling mat, but Ken had to pay half the cost with money raised cutting lawns.  100’s of hours were spent on that mat with the associated results.
     Ken culminated his high school career at the Junior World Championships.  Many colleges were in the running with Penn State and Princeton at the top of the list.  Ken chose Penn State for their unique blend of academics and sports.
     Following his freshman year in college Ken won the US Maccabiah Team Trials at Penn.  The World Maccabiah Games in Israel is also known as the Jewish Olympics.  The trip to Israel was incredible with a lifetime of memories.  “Visiting Israel helped put me in touch with my heritage and was a very educational and enlightening experience.”  Ken won the Gold Medal in both Greco Roman and Freestyle Wrestling at the Maccabiahs.
     Ken continued on at Penn State where he became a 3x All-American and a 3x Academic All-American.  If you like, here’s a fabulous Sports Illustrated article about Ken and one of his teammates while in college - http://nittanyliongrappling.org/si1.html .   Ken lives in State College, PA with his wife Laurie and two children (who, by the way, like basketball, baseball and wrestling).  He coaches wrestling full time in State College and at camps across the nation.  Ken takes particular pride in his wrestlers’ success both on and off the mat.
     “Wrestling is an awesome Olympic Sport that teaches boys and girls of all ages self-discipline, perseverance, an intense work ethic and much more.  Team sports are nice, but individual Olympic Sports have so much direct carry over into helping children succeed and excel in school and life.  In wrestling it does not matter if you are tall or short, rich or poor, Jewish or Christian – if you want to succeed in wrestling you will find a way to be successful.  By combining technical and physical training with proper nutrition and a correct mindset, wrestling is truly a sport that teaches lessons in life.”
     A few things jump out following my visit with Ken:
     1.  Positive support at home (whether from parents or a spouse) is critical to achieving maximum success in any endeavor. 
     2.  Motivation, intensity, positive vibes and learning what works from those who have already been there are the primary ingredients for achievement.
     3.  Wrestling is one of the most comprehensive training arenas as it prepares young people to become successful in all aspects of their lives better than any other sport.
     4.  And, finally, Ken feels an even greater level of achievement in helping his own children and wrestlers to achieve their goals than he did in achieving his own.  Being a devout student of wrestling has helped Coach Chertow to become an outstanding role model as he’s mentored thousands of kids over the years.  Ken’s site, www.kenchertow.com , has some of the greatest learning tools, nutritional aids and training/camp info available.
     I’d like to thank Ken for allowing me to conclude this Series with his story and hope you found his example of leadership, persistence and hard work as worthy of following as did I.  It’s never too late so I’m getting started right away.

"Strength & Courage" Jewish Education Series - Part 2 - Asaf Romirowsky - PhillyBurbs.com

     My search for leadership in the Jewish Community brought me to Center City Philadelphia last week to have a very nice breakfast with Dr. Asaf Romirowsky.  He was remarkably gracious to spend 2 hours with me.  I ordered too much since there was barely time for my pen to leave the paper during our meeting.
     Dr. Romirowsky is one of the leading Middle East analysts/scholars.  He’s served as an IDF International Relations Liaison Officer and has earned multiple degrees from a BA at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem to a Doctorate from Kings College London.  He’s extensively published in the press and professional journals.  Dr. Romirowsky is an international lecturer and teacher and can often be seen discussing and debating Middle East affairs in a wide variety of media venues.
     “Tikkun Olam” is a founding principle of Judaism which means “to repair the world”.  We strive for equality, to advance moral rights and demonstrate an openness to everyone.
     A historical perspective is a great place to begin.  Jews in pre-Israel Europe were accused of not being “productive”, but we were not allowed to own land.  As a result we were forced into non-farming (viewed as non-productive at the time) vocations.  The Zionist idea was to have our own state where we could have our own rights, work the land and be productive.  Israel was about changing our image (probably to ourselves more than anything else).
     The first and second wave of new Israelis grew up under various forms of socialism and communism.  The challenge was how to incorporate and promote this new found self-reliance, or Zionism, into life in the new State and how to introduce the world to this emerging Sabra.  The Sabra, or fruit of the cactus, was the symbol of this new strong Jew - prickly on the outside, but with fruit on the inside. 
     The Holocaust was certainly a catalyst for Israel, but not the only reason.  A Jewish State had been a vision of some for many years, but Arab rejection began immediately and continues today; to say the least. 
     Not only do Arab Israelis have all the rights of non-Arab Israelis (in Israel), but they can even freely advance anti-Israeli policies inside the Knesset (the Israeli legislature) itself.  The extent to which Israelis demonstrate being open and liberal is pretty extreme; particularly when compared to other nations.
     World perception in 1967, for example, favored Israel as David to the surrounding Goliath.  Israeli soldiers were often on the cover of international news magazines as champions of this view.  Palestinians know that they can’t defeat Israel militarily so they try to delegitimize and marginalize them in world public opinion through the “soft power” of every available form of media.  There’s been a profound shift in the past 40 years as all you have to do to be a revolutionary today is join a Facebook page.
     As a people who pride ourselves on the education that was often the only refuge during our oppressed past it is now our ignorance that our critics use in their strategies.  Israel’s enemies now claim to be victims as they seek world sympathy.  Palestinians even project Holocaust equivalencies by depicting Israeli leaders in SS uniforms (among many other Holocaust metaphors) and declare Zionist policies as racist.  Hezbollah operates freely in Europe and elsewhere with a clear agenda of eliminating Israel.  There’s even about 30 anti-Israel resolutions voted on each year by the United Nations’ General Assembly accusing Israel of violating those things that they value most.
     Of course, Israel is (unlike the surrounding nations) open with easy access for journalists just waiting for Israel to make a mistake for an easy story.  The Palestinians have sold themselves as the greatest victims ever to the very sensitive media even though it’s self-inflicted.  And here we go yet again serving as the convenient scapegoat.  You’d think we’d get a break after 5,000 years.
     We now turn to the American Jewish community who has a widespread historical connection to liberalism and democracy which tends to conflict with this false perception of Israeli policies that plays out in our own politics.  There’s a Jewish “moral obligation” to vote Democrat.  Everyone knows it as we yield to our own brand of propaganda here at home.
     We now have the growing problem of a divide between being Jewish and supporting Israel.  Our own Jewish identity is at stake as we fall prey to dishonesty and distraction from the real issues.  We are apathetic in our own religious teachings of Talmud and Torah, of biblical history and in the history of the State of Israel.  Far left-wing Israelis are small in number, but often host anti-Israeli groups thereby giving them the credibility they need.  There was even a very recent anti-Israel conference at the University of Pennsylvania presided by a few Jews who “served the purpose” well by using and abusing their Judaism to support and validate anti-Israeli arguments. 
     We are a diverse and open people while our enemies are unified.  They understand the value of 30-second sound bites vs. the challenge of discussing history and demographics.
     Being Jewish has never been easy and today is no different.  We needn’t give up our identity just to gain the easy approval of others, but rather should seek serious discussions and academic integrity. 
     Is it so important to be an American Liberal Jew that we have to ignore our surroundings, our history and our guiding principles?  We’ve done that before time and again with predictable results.  Maybe we can maintain our values as we pursue honesty in our quest for real Tikkun Olam.

    

    

 

 

"Strength & Courage" Jewish Education Series - Part 1 - Cantor David Wisnia - PhillyBurbs.com

     Thank you for visiting the first of a 3-part series that highlight 3 magnificent world-class leaders.  This effort is part of my own search for leadership in the Jewish Community and I couldn’t be more encouraged by what I found.
      I was immersed in reverent anticipation during my drive to meet with Cantor Wisnia.  He met me at the door of his home as if greeting an old friend.  The following is my very best attempt to capture the hour and a half that was to come.
      Our discussion began with a recent visit to Auschwitz to preside over the ceremony honoring the 67th anniversary if its liberation.    A video, if you like, can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrVrzvvSqO8 .  Cantor Wisnia visits Auschwitz every few years and can still find his name that he etched into his sleeping area during the first trip back (in 1957).
     During the ceremony Cantor Wisnia stood in the exact spot that the ovens once occupied, his unmistakable voice continuing to nurture the musical gifts honed as a 13 year old soloist in the 80 man Warsaw Tlomackie Synagogue Choir.
     The original journey to Auschwitz began in the Warsaw Ghetto late in 1941 when the young teenager found his entire family murdered by the Nazis upon his return from school.  His older brother had been taken away and eventually executed in a concentration camp.
     The young David Wisnia escaped the Ghetto with the help of a Christian girlfriend.  He fled to Germany in hope of finding a cousin, but was soon captured by the German police and delivered to Auschwitz with 1500 others in one of the last transport trains out of Germany.
     The line to be processed into the death camp forked with an “assessment” officer sending able-bodied men to the right and everyone else to the left to die.  Cantor Wisnia was fixed on the SS soldier’s oversized belt buckle that was marked with a large swastika and inscribed with “God Is With Us”.  “I almost had to laugh”, he said.  “God is with them?  Not the God I know.”  470 of the original 1500 were chosen to work.
     Cantor Wisnia’s musical skills allowed him to survive the 2 ½ years spent at Auschwitz where no one survived for 2 ½ years.  He was forced to entertain the guards and cell-block leaders, but also wrote 2 songs which were popular with fellow prisoners.  Both songs are in the collection of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC and were sung by the Cantor just once since The War ended - at the Cantors’ Convention at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel in 1983.
     The end was near as Cantor Wisnia found himself in the death march to Dachau.  He knew he wouldn’t survive and volunteered to carry cement in Austria to build bunkers as the Allied Forces were taking their toll on the Germans.
     Cantor Wisnia escaped during an air raid running in the darkness and hiding by day.  He was found by the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division, given an American uniform and Thompson machine gun and was their interpreter until the end of the war.  He was cited for bravery in actual combat operations against the elite SS troop that guarded Hitler’s mountain retreat at Berchtesgarden and was among the first to occupy Hitler’s private vacation home.
     Cantor Wisnia is still a very active member of that 101st Airborne Division and recently opened their 67th reunion in Tampa, FL by singing our National Anthem. 
     At the end of World War II the Cantor immigrated to America to live with relatives in the Bronx.  He met his wife a few years later with four children to follow.  An accomplished Cantor, to say the least, he remains dedicated to a lifelong devotion to the Jewish faith and education.
     I asked the Cantor for any closing thoughts.  Glad I asked since the responses were many.
     “God doesn’t control our actions, but rather has given us the free will to choose.  People perpetrated the Holocaust, not God, to blame others for their own failures.  Freedom is a most important thing if you do not have it and is worth defending.  But we must understand that history keeps showing us the importance of God in our lives and the trouble that results when we abandon that belief.  Also, it’s extremely important to understand that opposition to tyranny is firmly rooted in Judaism.  Bullies never have been and never can be pacified.  It doesn’t work that way and never will.”
     “Judaism is founded on education and work.  We take care of the weak, widowed and orphaned.  Many, though, have a distorted view of the way they’d like the world to be and then blame others when things don’t work out as desired.  They mean well, but tend to be overly righteous and unrealistic.”
     The Cantor and I walked down his driveway to my car as I did the best I could to hide my emotions.  I think I pulled it off, but am not entirely sure.  Maybe it was because it was the first time in awhile that I haven’t felt completely alone in the Jewish Community or maybe I had just, in fact, visited with an old friend from long ago.  Not to be overly religious, but who knows…  Maybe none of us are ever alone as long as we retain the clarity and dignity of who we are.