Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brian Williams's Yiddish Lessons

From Brian Williams's July 14 Daily Nightly blog: "The following is from our own John Yang (who before becoming a television correspondent wrote for the Washington Post) and it pertains to President Obama's nomination of Jack Lew to run OMB in place of the departing Peter Orszag. Enjoy.

'As an Orthodox Jew, Jack Lew, President Obama's choice (as) Director of the Office of Management and Budget, observes the religious restrictions on the Jewish Sabbath, which runs from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. He leaves the office Friday afternoons in time to get home before sundown, and does not use electric or electronic devices, including the telephone.

Once, while working (as) President Clinton's director, Lew's home phone rang one Saturday. He didn’t answer and a familiar voice could be heard from the answering machine, urging him to pick up the phone. Mr. Clinton said he understood the sanctity of the Sabbath, but that it was important that he talk to Lew. He even said, it was later reported, that "God would understand."

Lew later consulted with his rabbi, who said that taking an important phone call from the President of the United States would be permissible on the Sabbath under the Talmudic teaching that work on the Sabbath is allowed in order to save a life.'"

Here's an idea. Brian should tell Jack Lew some of those hilarious jokes he told last summer when he spoke at the Nantucket Film Festival. "Welcome to the Nantucket Film Festival--where Jews come to be honored. Nantucket is actually a Yiddish word meaning where the WASPS live." That's killer material. Brian should call Mr. Lew and share his humor with him. But not on a Friday night. Lew probably wouldn't pick up the phone. After all, Brian is no Bill Clinton. So what's the Yiddish word for "completely inappropriate"?

Let's try an experiment. Let's substitute the word "African-Americans" for "Jews" and the word "Swahili" for "Yiddish" in Brian's jokes. Would those comments be considered acceptable? In this age of political correctness, most people seem to understand that it's inappropriate to make derogatory comments based on a person's skin color. Yet many of those same people think it's perfectly okay to ridicule the Jewish faith. Maybe Brian should consult with Jack Lew's rabbi. I think he needs a little sensitivity training.

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