Columns - 1999

    Well, Heck: The Next Incarnation

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    At the dawn of a new year, near the dawn of a new century, written within ten miles of a woman named Dawn, we welcome our new readers from The West.

    Thanks to our new neighbors to the left (and the conservatives, too), our statistical analysts estimate that the good people of Missississippippi will easily help this humble columnist's regular enthusiastic readership more than double in the months ahead.

    So, the seven of you can sit back and enjoy your growing community. Bask in the knowledge that just across that odd-shaped border reside a lucky golden few who, just like you, realize on a monthly basis that I have no idea what I'm talking about.

    It is the beginning of a new year, at the end of an old century, a year away from the end of a very old millennium (which everyone thinks ends this year... it's all marketing, they'll get you again next year... it's like this Y2K thing... they'll just say "oops, we counted wrong"...)...

    It was a ground-breaking year, though thankfully not on the San Andreas Fault. A year that had Jewish men ecstatic at the reminder that Marilyn Monroe joined the Jew Crew, and that had Jewish women grateful that it was the other Clinton who discovered her Jewish lineage.

    It was also a year of darkness. A year that saw horrors that were fewer in number than before, but greater in impact. A year that saw things happen to the Jewish people too unspeakable to recount in this column. But enough about annual fundraising campaigns.

    The Hillel of Sandwich once said "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Some attribute this to the great sage Hillel, but this is obviously wrong. He didn't know english.) If he were cooking up recipes today, he'd more likely settle for "Do not undo others as you would have them not undo you."

    But, in words that are known to many Idle-worshippers, we must "always look on the bright side of life." With the communities of Alabama and Mississippi unified now as never before, we will rise like the mythical phoenix. We will show what our communities are made of, our pride, our character. Yes, we will see the day when people scoff no longer at our mention. Yes, we have a whole new secular millennium in which the SEC West will have its day. Well, at least one day. Out of a thousand years. Come on, it has to happen eventually...

    But everyone needs good press these days. As the hangman in Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood: Men in Tight" eloquently observed, "No noose is good noose." The South needs good press. Judaism needs good press. This winter, UAB will need a good full-court press.

    So, without further ado, from our corporate marketing headquarters, we present the text from our new promotional video that appeals to those that Judaism needs to sell to the most: Jews.

    "Mount Sinai. The Great Temple. The Ten Commandments. The 1969 Mets. When you hear these and many of the other great wonders this world has seen, do you remember where they all came from?

    "For over three thousand years you have been brought many great miracles, legends, and more interpretations of more laws than you will ever need, or even manage to read in one lifetime. Even if you know the language.

    "Many consider Judaism a passing fad, useful in its time, but without any real use in our lives today. The religious equivalent of the typewriter, or the telegraph, or anything we bought from Microsoft in the past six months. People wonder how an Almighty power could allow the persistence of the forces of evil in the world, not to mention the New York Yankees.

    "But we offer much more than most people realize. There is room for everyone. Where there is not room, we make it. Sometimes less willingly if we don't agree, but we would rather you be around somehow than not at all. We, and by 'we' I mean 'we, whether we all agree or not, this is not going before two subcommittees and a vote of the synagogue board' are better off if we can grouse about 'those radical young hippies' messing with tradition rather than grouse about 'those radical young hippies' who don't bother with tradition at all.

    "If you are a radical young hippie who will actually help more than you hinder, so much the better. Of course, those of you who think you are, are typically the ones who aren't. But you're welcome all the same.

    "We receive pressure from without. But don't think that this makes us unique or unappealing. All people deal with it. We have survived it for thousands of years. We cannot control it, just persevere through it. And we have.

    "But we also receive pressure from within. This is the problem we can control. But we could always control it more. It is an area in a time where we need results, not excuses.

    "Judaism. Offering enlightenment, uplifting, tradition, longevity (not just in sermons), understanding, and good food for over three thousand years. Instead of rationalizing, or not bothering to, why we do less, it's time we all think of how to do something different that could be something more, if there's any hope that we'll reach four."

    Doug Brook is a technical writer in Silicon Valley who had to do something quick or he might have had nothing to atone for on the eve of yet another High Holiday season.

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.