2008-10-24 / Columnists

It's My Turn

Dear Bubbe And Zaidy
By Howie Greene

Howie Greene is the consummate New Yorker. Born and raised in Brooklyn and at one time a resident of Beach 117 Street, Greene knows New York. He was part of the management team for The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, traveling the world with him.

He was also an executive Producer for Sirius Satellite Radio, working on their Talk & Comedy channels. Greene spent two years working on cruise ships and has literally "sailed the seven seas."

He's been involved in New York politics for decades and at one time had aspirations of being a professional bowler, actually obtaining his PBA card.

Greene lived in Rockaway Beach in the early 90s when he was the morning show host on the old WDRE-FM in Long Island.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my Uncle Milty. It usually happens this time of year around the High Holidays. He was the one who made sure I carried on the family tradition of going to shul, admitting my sins and asking for forgiveness before G-D. My father, being a Holocaust survivor, abandoned his religion way before I was born. So it was left to the uncle.

This year, however, my wife had to drag me to Yom Kippur services. Why? Well, maybe it's because I've seen the people I respected the most, all of the bubbes and zaidies who put up with bigotry, racism, religious zealotry and Nazis, abandon the basic tenets of what it means to be a Jew.

With all due respect to Sarah Silverman, I do not see this as a laughing matter. It is impossible for me to justify how "my people" will not vote for Barack Obama because he has a funny name, or, worse, to paraphrase Jackie Mason, is a "fancy schvartze."

Have you become so comfortable, Bubbe and Zaidy down in your South Florida condo communities, that you have completely forgotten from whence you came? Even though, on these, the holiest of holy days on the Jewish calendar we promise our redeemer that we will never forget? That we will be tolerant, and righteous and KIND?

My Uncle Milt was once turned down for a job at Con Edison, the New Yorkarea utility. It was the late 1930s, his father had just passed away, and it was up to him to support his immigrant mother and his younger brother and sister. He dropped out of high school. There were jobs at Con Ed. The interviewer asked him if his last name, Grosswirth, was German? Uncle Milty said, "It's Jewish." The interviewer insisted it was German … my uncle, however, did not relent. The interviewer told him that Con Ed would not hire Jews, so please say he was German. Well, my uncle never got the Con Ed gig. All of you, my dear Bubbes and Zaidies, have family stories like these. When did you forget? How did you forget?

Some of you won't vote for Barack because of his name. Okay. Did you know that Barack is the Muslim equivalent of Baruch … Hebrew for Blessed? The beginning of EVERY blessing to G-D we ever utter. Some of you have said you'd vote for him if he changed his name to Barry. WHAT? When did we forget as a people, our being persecuted for our names? How many times did your name exclude you from employment, club membership or staying at a hotel? Surely my family wasn't the only one asked to display our "horns" by ignorant Southerners back in the 1960s. Surely my family wasn't the only one that was told to go find a "jew hotel." At what moment did you forget this, Bubbe and Zaidy?

Not voting for Senator Obama because you are afraid is an insult. It's an insult to those who were murdered because of our names and our religion. It's an insult to those of us who came after you. To vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin simply because they are not Barack Obama is not only a shondeh, it is quite simply, ignorant.

McCain/Palin have come to South Florida to scare you. To drop the name of the Holocaust on your laps. They've intimated that Obama consorts with terrorists. That he is not a friend of Israel. But here is the record:

Gov. Palin belongs to a church that believes Jerusalem is the launching pad for the Rapture. Gov. Palin sat idly by in this church while leaders of Jews for Jesus proclaimed that Israel was getting what it deserved because they refused to acknowledge Jesus as the messiah. Gov. Palin is not a friend to our people.

Sen. McCain, for all of his "straight talk," has advisers on his campaign staff that have records as lobbyists for Saddam Hussein and Saudi Arabia.

And, the most heinous is that these two Americans who claim to put "Country First" have spent the past two weeks whipping up crowds into frenzy with hatred for Obama. Didn't those hate-filled rallies with cries to do harm to Obama remind you of anything, Bubbe and Zaidy? Have you finally forgotten the Nazi rallies in the 1930s that were used to whip up crowds into similar frenzies while blaming the Jews of Europe for all of its economic ills?

Surely, Bubbe and Zaidy, you recall the days of McCarthyism, where scores of Jews were blacklisted from ever working again in this nation because they went to a meeting or a party that happened to have a Socialist or Communist as a guest. And Jewish lives and livelihoods were wiped out because of our names or loose, quite loose, associations.

That is why your refusal to vote for Barack Obama because of his race and name is so perplexing and disturbing. When did we become the very people who threatened our existence?

Bubbe and Zaidy … listen to me. You owe this to us. You gave us eight years of George Bush. Okay, maybe it was an accident. But, you had your Franklin Delano Roosevelt whom you no doubt still revere. Barack Obama is OUR FDR! Let us have our chance to have the America I thought you always wanted for us.

I don't know how my Uncle Milty would have voted. He's gone now. But, I DO know he would not have dismissed Barack Obama because of his name, race or out of unsubstantiated fear!

Look, if you want to vote for M2cCain/ Palin because you think they would be a better team, then go vote. But, if you are voting for them because they are not a fancy schvartze with a scary name, then PLEASE, on Election Day, stay home, for us. Or better yet, find a good mah jongg or pinochle game and leave the future to your little bubbelehs.

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Funny how race is always thrown in someone's face when they are against someome who may be different then them. I would just say look at the two records and experience and let your vote be decided there. Now that would be REAL hope and change


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