Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dear Bubbe And Zaidy

This article appeared in The Wave

It's My Turn
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 York area 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 McCain/ 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.


  1. Does Jackie Mason remember when he was virtually banned from TV for one stupid mistake on the Ed Sullivan show? How quickly he forgets that his career was in the garbage for years -- and the only places he could work were the ghetto of the Borsht Belt and small clubs in Brooklyn!

  2. Most blogs and news services have quoted the same one paragraph of the message that David Brickner of Jews for Jesus delivered at Sarah Palin’s church, giving the false impression that he believes that terrorist attacks are God’s judgment on Israel for not believing in Jesus. Please read or listen to the entire message for yourself at so that you can hear Brickner’s remarks in context. Please also take a look at Brickner’s comments concerning his message at Wasilla Bible Church, as well as interviews by Christianity Today and MSNBC with Brickner about this issue, at Among other things, Brickner says, "The comments attributed to me were taken out of context. In retrospect, I can see how my rhetoric might be misunderstood and I truly regret that. Let me be clear. I don’t believe that any one event, whether a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, is a specific fulfillment of or manifestation of a biblical prediction of judgment. I love my Jewish people and the land of Israel. I stand with and support her against all efforts to harm her or her people in any way."

  3. If voting for Obama would be so wonderful for Jews, why is this happening?

    How come everyone who doesn't profess love for Obama is a racist? Could people possibly not want to elect an ivory tower intellectual who has zero foreign policy experience(while the US is engaged in two wars) and has enacted little legislation of note? Who votes present instead of taking a tough position on the issues? Is it racist for someone to favor a strict interpretation of the Constitution, and wants changes to it enacted by the Amendment process, which involves the whole country, rather than trusting an interventionist group of judges to change our laws? Is it racist to wonder how national health care can be subsidized by a government in enormous debt, or to worry about the quality of care and long waits for elective surgery, as is the case in the UK and Canada? Is it racist to be worried that a Democrat President and Congress might reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine, effectively censoring free speech? How come its OK to hang Sarah Palin in effigy in West Hollywood, in the words of local law enforcement "Its not a hate crime", but in Kentucky some schmuck hangs Obama in effigy and gets arrested? How can Obama refer to his own grandmother as a "typical White person" and nothing is said, but can you imagine the firestorm if McCain called someone a "typical Black person"? The double standard is truly amazing. Jews have every right to be suspicious of Barack Obama, when associates like Rev. Jackson (NYC = Hymietown) tell French audiences that he will go against the "Zionist Entity". When Obama's church honors Louis Farrakhan, who calls Judaism a "gutter religion" and insists that Jews today are not real Jews. When the LA Times refuses to release the details of his ties to a pro-Palestinian professor who has agitated against Israel? If there is nothing to hide, why not release it?

  4. The previous anonymus made some very good points.
    It is so difficult to be a union member and a Republican. The UFT assumes any UFT member who espouses Republican ideals such as..lower taxes, smaller government...choice in education, yet pro-life in reproduction, supporting entrepeneurship and small businesses etc., is either ignorant or a "right wing" idiologue, or should I say "idiot".
    Yes, but if Barack wins those who voted for him may be sorry when they see the U.S. turning into a "socialist society" believing that goverment can act as our "saviour".
    I love the Jewish people equally as all people, so do not take this last comment as an offense.
    Remember that it was an economic crisis in Germany that set the stage for Hitler's rise to power.
    Another articulate "charismatic" leader who convinced deperate people in an economic crisis that he was the answer to all their economic woes. Isn't what's happening now look like the same scenario? We are our worst economic crisis since the days of the Great Depression. Who will save us from this peril. Baruch..or should I say Barack Obama. Really? A two term senator with no executive experience to govern even a small state?
    Even Sarah who still may not be up for the job was a mayor, and is at least a governor.
    Who are we electing?? A community organizer? Yikes!

  5. Look. We don't think you're right wing or an idiot. We think you're crazy. How does Obama - a JAP - Just Another Politician - suddenly equate to Hitler? Would you equate FDR who saved this country from economic peril with Hitler? Thus the outrageous exageration of Obama's demagoguery must be due to some irrational factor. And that to me can only be a hidden racism you refuse to recognize.

    Now let's take your Republican values of lower taxes, smaller government...choice in education, yet pro-life in reproduction, supporting entrepeneurship and small businesses etc.

    You must be a Joel Klein supporter. I mean he and Bloomberg are doing just what you say - giving away a public institution into private hands. And of course choice in education - vouchers I guess. Underlying all of this is killing teacher unions. You say you are a UFT member. That doesn't equate either. I can guarantee you would be making a fraction of your salary if your Republican values were in full operation. And whatever crappy working conditions you have would be worse.

    Pro-life? I am also pro life and feel people shouldn't have abortions. But it is their choice. Ironic how you support less government interference but you might want to have government tell a woman what to do.

    Entrepreneurship? Why are republicans for that alone? I'm all for it and I'm practically a socialist. Small business? Who doesn't support that?

    My feeling is that your positions are so contradictory, you may be drinking the Kool-aid.


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