Have a glass tea, relax, read and maybe you’ll share what’s on you mind.

Welcome to My Mishagas, my online blog.  While many, if not most of my written reflections on the state of the world will probably appear on Examiner.com column, I will include my favorite columns from there as well as some missives that do not get published there.

You reactions, reflections, whether they be in agreement or not, are always most welcome.

Mitch Gilbert

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Hateful Words from Rabbis Living in “Small Places”

The comments of two distinguished rabbis left me troubled and distressed in recent days.  First, I was disappointed but not surprised to  read in the Forward’s August 6 edition of Rabbi Moshe Tendler’s incredibly misinformed understanding of homosexuality and his apparent support for “reparative therapy.” 

The other troubling words came from Rabbi Shlomo Amar, (Sephardic) Chief Rabbi of Israel in a letter he penned to the New York Times  (8/6/10).  In that missive, Rabbi Amar  takes Diaspora  Jewry to task for putting the brakes on the Rotem Conversion Bill.    In so doing, Amar charges diaspora  Jewry with sabotaging the democratic process in Israel.  I dare say that a Chief Rabbi of Israel decrying the lack of democracy in any process is little like Kim Jong-il of North Korea questioning the elections or freedom of the press in the West.  Is there any entity is Israel’s 62 year history that has worked harder and expended more time and enegy consolidating its power and control than the Chief Rabbinate? 

Rabbi Amar further embarrasses himself by suggesting that Diaspora Jewry should have no say on what goes on in Israel.  I respectfully suggest that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chair of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, if at all possible, need to Rabbi Amar out for a  good long luncheon meeting and see if they can possibly liberate him from whatever intellectual backwater has him trapped.  The Chief Rabbi is apparently unaware of the role world Jewry has played politically and economically in the development of the modern State of Israel.   How is that possible when one considers that more than likely, Rabbi Amar and his family had a successful aliyah from their native Morroco and successful absorption into Israel in 1962 thanks to the good will and good shekalim provided by Diaspora Jewry.

And like the proponents of that pseudo science known as Intelligent Design, one can’t help but wonder what intellectual shtetl Rabbi Tendler is trying so hard protect and hide in.  Here is a reputable scientist trying very hard to promote some very disreputable ideas about homosexuality.  Does this Biology professor really think he knows more about sexual orientation than the American Psychiatric Association and all the other professional and academic associations that long ago determined that homosexuality is neither a disease or developmental dysfunction?

It is as intellectually dishonest to suggest that a homosexual can be made heterosexual through reparative-therapy as it is to suggest that every single word of the oral and written traditions of Judaism were dictated at Mount Sinai, or, that halacha has not evolved over 3,000 years in response a changing world and very diverse communities in which Jewish people have lived.

And here are two good pieces of news apropos the issues troubling these two rabbis: 1.  90 Orthodox  rabbis signed a letter showing more compassion, more respect and sensitivity for gay and lesbian Jews than Rabbi Tendler apparently has.  2.  Mainstream leadership in Israel knows that the consolidation of the power of the Chief Rabbinate and the Ministry of Religion  that is out of step with and hostile to, the majority of Jews in Israel and the

Diaspora cannot continue unabated without dyer consequences.  Apparently, thank God, in spite of the challenges of the journey, Israel and Diaspora Jewry are moving forward in spite of those who prefer remaining in the very confined and narrow mitzrayim of their own making.

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God’s Will Determined by Fear or Accomodation?

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A Chat With God On High Street

OK, so its a Friday afternoon in May. You’re walking
down High Street in Columbus and you bump into
He announces that He needs to talk to a reasonable person
about a couple of things that are giving the Creator of the Universe

“I’m not sure how reasonable I am…” you start to say. But He is not in
the mood for immodest self-deprecation.

“I thought this country was a step ahead of the rest of the
when it comes to appreciating what freedom is all about. Isn’t
this the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

The Grand Poobah of monotheism reminds you that for centuries now, She
thought she could send her huddled masses yearning to be
to the country that in its infancy, wrote a Bill of
Rights for its inhabitants.

”So what’s this bull going on in Arizona?” She demands.
You are a little taken back at the idea of God swearing. You don’t bump
into God too often on High Street and your a little intimidated by His
angry tone.

“Well…” you start to say… But He interrupts you. “And when I
gave you this world to live in, I didn’t hand over the deed or give you
permission to crap it up!
What the hell happened in the Gulf
of Mexico?”

Now, you are starting to sweat. Why did God stop you for this
conversation? What the heck is God doing in a human form walking around
the Short North? Why isn’t He communicating with the masses in a great
metropolis like New York? Why isn’t He trying to speak directly with a
holy person in the Vatican, Mecca or Jerusalem?

“Do you know how many millions of living creatures, large, small and
molecular that I, not you, created who are going to die in the coming
You people just can’t resist gambling with a sensitive
ecosystem to get at your precious oil.”

Your feeling a bit defensive. Why is She laying all this on you? You are
only a middle management bureaucrat heading home for the weekend, but
you suddenly feel like you have to defend a lot people who you don’t
like enough to want to defend!

Meekly, with humility, you offer, “We’re doing our best. Yes, sometimes
we really screw up. We’re not gods ya know….” Oh God, I spoke up to
God. You worry that you are about to become a bit of urban grim.

Actually, She’s seems a bit calmer now for your opening a mouth. But you
can tell the anger is simmering just under the surface.

God looks up at the sky and sighs. “It was all so clean when I gave it
to you. Let me ask you something. Do you live with dirt and filth in
your home? Or do you try to keep your house clean?”

Sounds like a reasonable question. We certainly have created a bit of
waste in this world. Point made.

“If there was a possibility of exposing your family to toxic chemicals
 50 feet below your backyard, would you dig it up so you could have a
swimming pool? How come My backyard, My oceans, My beaches, My extended
family of living creatures matter less to you than your family or
personal home? Isn’t the world YOUR HOME TOO? Don’t you get it Buckeye?
You guys just keep crapping up the world for yourselves and the living
creatures I also gave this world to."

You know that your own face is a bright red at this moment. You’re
ashamed. But you feel safe. He may be pissed off, but you have no doubt
of the mercy and compassion of this Eternal Source of Love and Justice.
The two of you stand looking at one another, communicating in silence. 

“Do me a favor, “ She asks. “This weekend, think about the fact that
while I blessed this country in countless ways, I never, ever
told you guys that you are better than any other country, or any other
people on this Earth.
I’ve made it clear to every patriarch,
matriarch, messiah, prophet and loving child of Mine who has looked up
into the sky or sat quietly silently trying to understand My ways…..
Each of you is precious to Me. Each of you contains a bit of Me inside
of you. Each human life is sacred. You have no right to hate one
another or violate another human being because his or her presence in
your country might mean that instead of have excessively more food and
wealth than 90% of the world population you’ll only have, Me-Forbid!
just what you need.”

Who knew God could be sarcastic?

She gently puts Her hands on your face. A feeling of warmth and comfort
flows through your frame. “Thanks for listening. Have a good weekend.”

You want to laugh, cry, dance, hug and celebrate this amazing moment. A
gentle reply of “You too.” is all that comes out of you. You both take a
few steps in opposite directions. You really hate for this encounter to
end. You turn back to take one more look. “Hmmm…. where did She go so

People pass you on either side. Who or what are you looking at?

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"Egregious! It’s so egregious" the caller to C-Span exclaimed repeatedly
in reaction to the House vote to reform health care.  "Can you be
specific about your concerns; what about this reform health-care bill
concerns you" the C-Span anchor queried?   "It’s….it’s… (huffing and
puffing) "It egregious, I can’t believe this has happened to MY

Can you imagine where this country would be if we allowed our social and
economic progress to be determined by fear,  cynicism and the sound
bites of legislators with ulterior agendas and motives?  Congrats
America on a big step forward.  Maybe a few thousand less Americans
won’t die this year because this plan will guarantee them health care. 
OOPS, was that a socialist wish I expressed?

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Talking about YouTube – Western Wall Women- WOW- Women of the wall Low Resolution

Is there anything more spiritually and intellectually DISHONEST than
declaring one position, one understanding of Torah and God’s Will as
being more authentic than any other?  For some, knowledge opens the
gates to Heaven; for others, it is used only to seal the doors of "But
we’ve always done it that way."

YouTube – Western Wall Women- WOW- Women of the wall Low Resolution

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On Being Kicked Out of a Jewish Family

Thursday evening                                                                                                                                    "I can’t believe you really came to the hospital to visit my father!"                                                              "But why are you so surprised?  You are a member of a synagogue.  That makes you a member of an extended Jewish family.  When a member of our family is ill we care, we come."

Friday morning
"Isn’t it sad that some members of our congregation have such low expectations of us?"
"If they can’t help us pay synagogue expenses, I really don’t care what they think."

The following Tuesday evening
"We’re doing away with your position, here’s two months pay.  Can we have your keys and credit card?"

Being a MENSCH is about actually practicing Jewish values and teachings in everything you do.   Simply "using Judaism" as window dressing for your personal lifestyle is no different than pocketing  tzedakah money you’ve raised for a worthy cause.  Is your mission-statement a publicity banner to tell everyone how noble and wonderful you are? Or is it really your raison d’être ?

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Enough With the Hitler Comparisons!

I’m tired of Hitler being invoked by idiots who want to vilify people
they have disagreements with .  Invoking his evil image and name to
suggest that people you have intellectual or philosophical
disagreements with is really no different than saying I have a monopoly
truth so if you disagree with me you are the devil.  In political
science classes, they teach that people who think that way are
“supremacists.” Which is an intellectual label for fascism.

2.  This is so typical of political conservatives in this country. 
Someone explain to me how any Jewish people can identify with the
American right wing in general and the Republican party in particular.
It’s mind boggling.

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Talking about YouTube – Orthodox Rabbi Avi Weiss speaks out against Homophobia, in support of ga…

It’s sad enough that the Jewish children of Sedrot and other border communities in Israel must fear for their well-being.  It is beyond comprehension that some Jewish youth must fear for their own safety because of the hate and ignorance of some Jews.


YouTube – Orthodox Rabbi Avi Weiss speaks out against Homophobia, in support of ga…

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