A Letter from an angry Senior Citizen

I am a senior citizen.

During the Clinton Administration I had an extremely good and well paying job.

I took numerous vacations and had several vacation homes.

Since President Bush took office, I have watched my entire life change for the worse.

I lost my job.

I lost my two sons in that terrible Iraqi War.

I lost my homes.

I lost my health insurance.

As a matter of fact I lost virtually everything and became homeless.

Adding insult to injury, when the authorities found me living like an animal, instead of helping me, they arrested me.

I will do anything that Senator Kerry wants to insure that a Democrat is back in the White House come next year.

Bush has to go.

Sincerely,

Saddam Hussein

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Students are healthier when they Pray!

A spiritually inclined student is a happier student

Study finds link between faith and mental health

by Sarah Hofius

USA Today

October 27, 2004

College students who participate in religious activities are more likely to have better emotional and mental health than students with no religious involvement, according to a national study of students at 46 wide-ranging colleges and universities.

In addition, students who don’t participate in religious activities are more than twice as likely to report poor mental health or depression than students who attend religious services frequently.

Being religious or spiritual certainly seems to contribute to one’s sense of psychological well-being, says Alexander Astin, co-principal investigator for the study of 3,680 third-year college students. The study was released this week by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Those who participate in religious activities also are less likely to feel overwhelmed during college.

Religious involvement includes such activities as reading the Bible or other sacred texts, attending religious services and joining religious organizations on campus.

These findings are important because psychological well-being declines during the college years, Astin says. One in five students has sought personal counseling since entering college, and 77% of college juniors report feeling depressed frequently or occasionally during the past year. Only 61% of the students were depressed frequently or occasionally when they first started college.

A high degree of spirituality correlates with high self-esteem and feeling good about the way life is headed. The study defines spirituality as desiring to integrate spirituality into one’s life, believing that we are all spiritual beings, believing in the sacredness of life and having spiritual experiences.

“Students seem to feel better about themselves if they see themselves as spiritual,” Astin says.

“In these trying times, it’s a positive feeling to correlate in people.”

But the study also finds that highly spiritual students are more prone to experiencing spiritual distress, or feeling unsettled about spiritual or religious matters, than students who aren’t as spiritual.

Being religious also could play a role in whether someone starts to drink alcohol while in college. Three-fourths of students who don’t drink beer before attending college won’t start in college if involved in religious activity, the study says, but only 46% of students will continue to abstain if not involved religiously.

Astin says the next question to answer is whether students who are more religious and spiritual are more psychologically healthy or whether the more psychologically healthy students are seeking religious and spiritual activities.

The research also finds that 77% of college students pray, 78% discuss religion with friends, and 76% are “searching for meaning and purpose in life.”

Strongly religious students tend to describe themselves as politically conservative, but they hold more liberal views on issues such as gun control and the death penalty, the research finds.

The project is paid for by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Bowman on Jon Stewart

The Daily Dodge

By JAMES BOWMAN

October 22, 2004; Page W13

Ah, satire! Or perhaps “satire.” Either way — with a single dose of irony or a double — it’s back. What the show “That Was the Week That Was” was to the Sixties, “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central is to the Aughties.

But there is a difference. The consumers of TV satire 40 years ago were assumed by the satirists to be pretty well-informed people already. Now there are indications that a lot of people, especially young people, are skipping the regular news and going straight to the satire.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press earlier this year, 21% of people aged 18-29 “regularly” got news about the election campaign from “The Daily Show” or the monologues of late-night comedians — about the same number as watched network news shows or got news from the Internet.

If this is true, it could explain a lot about the way that Jon Stewart , “The Daily Show’s” mock anchorman, chooses to handle his subject. He offers a combination of real stories from the “wacky” end of the news spectrum — like the one about the Iraqi tourism minister whose job is to prevent tourists from coming to Iraq — and mockery of mainstream news sources, especially the pomposity of the network anchors and correspondents. And of course it isn’t just the media that are mocked: It is also conservatives, Republicans, the Religious Right and, most of all, President Bush and his administration.

Now he seems to be branching out into a sermonizing mode, if hypocritically. Last week he went on CNN’s “Crossfire” to tell co-hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala that they were “partisan hacks” who were “hurting America.”

A serious charge, you might think. Certainly Mr. Carlson thought so. He might have made something of the muddled thinking that lay behind Mr. Stewart ‘s charge of partisanship — against a show specifically set up to confront one partisan with another. But instead Mr. Carlson counterattacked, pointing to the softball questions that Mr. Stewart had asked John Kerry during the presidential candidate’s appearance on “The Daily Show.”

“I didn’t realize — and maybe this explains quite a bit,” Mr. Stewart shot back, “that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity.” He went on to compare what “Crossfire” does to “theater” and “pro wrestling.”

These comments led to more angry words, as each man insulted the other. But the anger generated by the exchange, and the insults that have continued since, only obscure what exactly was going on.

Mr. Stewart used his appearance on “Crossfire” to make a serious point, yet when it was taken up seriously he tried to retreat into his characteristic pose as a harmless comedian. “You are on CNN,” he said to Mr. Carlson when accused of sucking up to Mr. Kerry; “the show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.”

So then we shouldn’t pay any attention to him when he tries to be serious? I don’t think he quite meant to say that, and yet he is saying it, in effect, all the time. Under the cover of humor, his show routinely makes vicious points about, say, the Iraq war. Are we meant to think of the puppets when we hear such “Daily Show” bits or when Mr. Stewart endorses Mr. Kerry for president?

It’s a convenient double game. Mr. Stewart owes his success in no small measure to his irreverence toward the sanctimony with which the regular or “real” TV news conducts its business, yet there he is attacking one of the few news shows on television that has no room for the network “anchor” and his po-faced self-importance. Certainly Mr. Stewart ‘s criticism of “Crossfire” for its resemblance to pro-wrestling is odd coming from an avowed entertainer like himself. Could it be that he wants to corner the market in turning politics into entertainment?

Perhaps, but maybe it isn’t satirical competitors that Mr. Stewart fears from “Crossfire” so much as the threat it poses to the pomposity of his satirical subjects. That, after all, is Mr. Stewart ‘s bread and butter. More than anyone since Stan Freberg, whose radio skits about American history were also popular in the 1960s, Mr. Stewart has made his media fortune out of deflating the dignity of America’s politicians and statesmen, dead as well as alive.

Weighing in at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list last week, for example, was his “America (The Book)” — a mock civics textbook complete with an authentic-looking school-board stamp inside the front cover and a cover-line proclaiming: “With a Foreword by Thomas Jefferson.”

Those familiar with the Stewart technique won’t be surprised to learn that in this foreword the third president shows his familiarity with the language of the 21st-century streets and recounts the doubts of a certain “Sally” about his taking on such work: “You are the author of the Declaration of Independence. A scholar. A statesman. This is beneath you. It’s not even network.” Then he has “T.J.” sign off with a postscript: “Oh, and is it true Halle Berry is once again single?”

If the only thing he knows about Jefferson besides his authorship of the Declaration is the allegation of his sexual liaison with his slave Sally Hemmings, it doesn’t bother Jon Stewart — or his audience. Just as you don’t have to know the news to watch “The Daily Show,” you don’t have to know anything, really, about American history or government to enjoy “America (The Book).”

The mockery of “Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America” was affectionate and depended on the sort of knowledge about American history that could then have been taken for granted. Mr. Stewart sounds in his book as he does on his TV show — not affectionate but arrogant, as if he were way too cool to bother finding out the facts of the real history, or news, that he’s sending up. Who can take such stuff seriously?

Make no mistake: Mr. Stewart can be funny. His mock Larry King interview with Adolf Hitler in his earlier book, “Naked Pictures of Famous People” (1998), was hilarious, but it also made a serious point about how the media can be manipulated with the jargon of the therapeutic culture.

Lately when things have turned serious for a moment, Mr. Stewart has beaten a hasty retreat, as he did on “Crossfire.” Comedy without an underlying moral seriousness is a species of nihilism, as fatiguing as the Olympian posturings of the network news. Someone should tell Jon Stewart that partisan hacks are what made this country great. But he probably doesn’t care.

Mr. Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Jon Stewart on Crossfire

Here it is, Jon Stewart on CNN’s “Crossfire” with Paul Begala (on the Left) and Tucker Carlson (on the Right). Jon was being more honest than he was funny, and well… it seemed to make Tucker a bit mad. But Jon refused to be Tucker Carlson’s “monkey.” View the full video here.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Get ready for Chanukkah

This is great! Click here from a Chanukkah song.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Equal Rights, Equal Access

We, the undersigned rabbis, applaud your recent decision to publish same-gender union ceremony announcements.

Gay and lesbian couples ought to have equal rights and equal access. It is not the responsibility of the Jewish News to make the news; it is the responsibility of the Jewish News to report the news.

Further, we oppose Proposal 2 on the November ballot. Proposal 2 is a bigoted, hateful attempt to permanently enshrine discrimination in the Michigan Constitution, forever making it illegal to provide domestic partnership benefits (including health insurance) for same-gender committed life partners and their children.

Justice demands that we use our voices of reason and charity and implores us to act vociferously against discrimination of any kind.

Rabbi Joshua Bennett

Rabbi Jonathan Berkun

Rabbi Lauren Berkun

Rabbi David Castiglione

Rabbi Ernst Conrad

Rabbi Robert Dobrusion

Rabbi Marla Hornsten

Rabbi Miriam S. Jerris

Rabbi Joseph Klein

Rabbi Joseph Krakoff

Rabbi Jennifer Kroll

Rabbi Robert Levy

Rabbi Harold Loss

Rabbi Jason Miller

Rabbi Michael Moskowitz

Rabbi David Nelson

Rabbi Daniel Nevins

Rabbi Norman Roman

Rabbi Dannel Schwartz

Rabbi Rachel Shere

Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg

Rabbi Aaron Starr

Rabbi Daniel B. Syme

Rabbi Eric Yanoff

Rabbi Paul Yedwab

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Google goes Local

October 14, 2004

Google Introduces Search Program for Hard Drives

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Google Inc. on Thursday became the first tech heavyweight to tackle the daunting task of uncluttering computers, introducing a program that quickly scours hard drives for documents, e-mails, instant messages and past Web searches.

With the free desktop program, Google hopes to build upon the popularity of its Internet-leading search engine and become even more indispensable to the millions of people who entrust the Mountain View-based company to find virtually anything online.

The new product, available at http://desktop.google.com, ups the ante in Google’s intensifying battle with software giant Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc., which owns the world’s second most popular search engine.

Google’s desktop invasion heralds a momentous step into a crucial realm — the challenge of managing the infoglut that has accumulated during the past decade as society becomes more tethered to increasingly powerful computers.

“We think of this (program) as the photographic memory of your computer,” said Marissa Mayer, Google’s director of consumer Web products. “It’s pretty comprehensive. If there’s anything you once saw on your computer screen, we think you should be able to find it again quickly.”

Although its desktop program can be used exclusively offline to probe hard drives, Google designed it to run in a browser so it will meld with its online search engine. Google.com visitors who have the new program installed on their computer will see a “desktop” tab above the search engine toolbar and all their search results will include a section devoted to the hard drive in addition to the Web. [more…]

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller

Tapper’s Jewelry Coat Drive

Tapper’s 13th Annual Coat Drive
October 1- October 31
Warm Hugs for the Winter
Help us keep others warm as the weather turns colder.

Tapper’s 13th Annual Coat Drive
October 1st through 31st

Please join with us to make this year our most successful coat drive yet.

Donate a winter coat, new or worn, by October 31st.
Donations of $25 or more will be gratefully accepted and used to purchase warm children’s coats, hats and mittens.

Both adult’s and children’s coats will be accepted.
Please make checks payable to Tapper’s Winter Coat Drive.

The coats will be donated to:

Orchards Children’s Services
Helps improve the quality of life for abused, neglected and troubled children through foster care, adoption, family preservation and other specialized programs. Click here to visit Orchards Children’s Services website.

Baldwin Church Center
Provides a variety of services to those in need, including: Soup Kitchen, Clothing, Laundry Services, Breakfast Program, After School Programs, Tutoring, Focus and Hope

Grace Centers of Hope
The oldest and largest shelter in Oakland County. They provide services such as Soup Kitchen and full recovery and rehabilitation center for homeless men and women with their children. Click here to visit Grace Centers of Hope’s website.

Coats may be dropped of at Tapper’s Jewelry or at any of the following locations:

Hillel Day School, 32200 Middlebelt Road, Farmington Hills, 248-851-3220

Akiva Hebrew Day School, 21100 West 12 Mile Road, Southfield, 248-386-1625

Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit, 6600 West Maple Road, West Bloomfield, 248-592-0022

Jewish Federation, 6375 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, 248-642-4260

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | http://blog.rabbijason.com | Twitter: @RabbiJason | facebook.com/rabbijasonmiller