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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 4/15/21

Happy Tax Day and Happy Birthday Senor Pescado (Steve Fishman)! …although tax day this year has been postponed by virtue of the pandemic… JEWISH STANDARD TIME I was thinking about how each ethnic group is more than willing to tell jokes about their group; provided, others don’t jump on the bandwagon and similarly joke. Jay Eagan never tires of telling Irish jokes. Jews are fond of jokes about their stereotypes. I suspect most members of ethnic groups feel the same way. It’s okay when we tell them to each other… but you shouldn’t… Years ago, I was at a meeting of the Para los Ninos board and commented that someone who was late was on “Jewish Standard Time and, so, not technically late.” The CFO, who is Black, immediately admonished me, “Hey, it’s not Jewish Standard Time—It’s Black Standard Time.” We both laughed because we each were convinced that our ethnic group was the sole owner of this distinction. One more reason we’re not as different as we think. DRIVING MRS. SONNENBERG—AN ETHNIC EXPERIENCE? Driving with my parents was a gestalt experience. Tim Watenpaugh notes that, when driving to the Rose Bowl with Bill, Jessica and me, he learned a great deal about our family and its interactions. There was no GPS back then, so directions were recalled (and differently by everyone in the car). There was no Waze so shortcuts were anecdotal. Here’s his rendition: “That car trip was probably just a day in the life of being in the Sonnenberg family. Once we were in Pasadena area and navigating our way to the Rose Bowl, it became a very ‘animated discussion’ as to how to get to the Rose Bowl. That is where your Mom’s backseat driving came in (although she may have been providing driving instructions/directions that entire trip). I smile every time I recall this story.” Trust me, my father needed the help… As Tim recalls, “When I shared our conversation with Jann, I rethought the conversation as a discussion that any Jewish, Italian or Latin family may have in the car, at the dinner table, in front of the TV, that to a kid raised in a fairly strict and reserved Dutch/German household was unheard of. So to me, being on the outside and observing the family interaction, it was highly amusing.” Amusing indeed… RADICAL HATRED IS NOT A COMPETITIVE SPORT Antisemitism has become a concern in America as never before in my life. This week I was a panelist in a discussion of antisemitism in America. The discussion was robust and the list of examples and areas of concern was long. It is clear that antisemitism, as with most forms of hatred, knows no political party. It remains my view that the more the Jewish people—through their synagogues and communal organizations-- “get out there in the community” the better. It is not through becoming more insular that Jews can assure understanding and safety. It is just the opposite. They need to be actively engaged in issues that pertain to other communities, particularly those who also are the target of hatred. Earlier this week I wrote about Holocaust Remembrance Day. In my remarks, I noted that the Proud Boys and the shooters at the Tree of Life Synagogue are real-life examples of antisemitism in America. A few of my conservative friends noted that I had called out antisemitism on the right without acknowledging antisemitism from the left. I’m not sure why one must engage in political tit-for-tat. Sure there is antisemitism from the left (although they didn’t just storm the Capitol and are not crying out, “the Jews will not replace us,” but I get your concern). Certainly there is antisemitism coming from the left. There are those who resent the successes of the Jewish people. There are those who argue that Jews control the media, finance, corporate America—whatever. These tropes of “worldwide domination” are pernicious and long-standing. There are also those on the left that seek to delegitimize the State of Israel, holding it to a standard well beyond the standard employed in judging far more oppressive regimes. Through “intersectionality,” they equate Israel with oppressors throughout the world and history, coopting those with legitimate concerns with oppression. I don’t dispute this at all. And there are those who use platforms like the California ethnic studies curriculum to characterize the Jews as “the man” and part of the oppressive white patriarchy (and, therefore, not entitled to acknowledgement for their plight over the centuries). Parenthetically, if we are part of the “white establishment,” I don’t think the leaders of the white patriarchy got the letter yet. My answer to my conservative friends is this… Of course there is racism on the right and on the left. And of course there is antisemitism on the right and on the left. The existence of one does not neutralize or justify the other. Both are insidious. But TODAY, at least, the neo-Nazis and Proud Boys have made clear their desire to cause us harm. So today they are the greater threat. Thank you, David Lash, for noting that “radical hatred is not a competitive sport.” It is not. There is no “greater than” from one side or another. Sadly, radical hatred—of Jews, of Blacks, of Asians, of immigrants, has plenty of adherents, from a diversity of backgrounds and ideologies. EVERYTHING’S GOING DOWN THE DRAIN Mark Miller, Ken Millman and others await the verdict on egg shells down the disposal. The definitive word comes from my cousin, Chris Cook, who notes the rules given to UCI students (many of whom are from overseas and haven’t seen a garbage disposal). Don’t put the following in the sink:

  • Coffee Grounds.

  • Pasta, Rice, and Bread...they turn to a glue-like substance

  • Animal Bones.

  • Nuts and Shells

  • Pits and Seeds

  • Onions

  • Egg Shells

  • Fibrous or Stringy Fruits and Vegetables

  • Potato peels ...they turn to glue

Have a good day, Glenn

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