Saturday, December 12, 2009

A cop, a rabbi, and a dog were in Montana...

This is too good not to share!

Andrew Gerns at The Lead, found this for the first full day of Hanukkah:

Did you hear the one about the Montana cop, the rabbi and the dog who speaks Hebrew?

Eric Stern describes what happens next:

In Montana, a rabbi is an unusual sight. So when a Hasidic one walked into the State Capitol last December, with his long beard, black hat and long black coat, a police officer grabbed his bomb-sniffing German shepherd and went to ask the exotic visitor a few questions....

...Hanukkah has a special significance in Montana these days. In Billings in 1993, vandals broke windows in homes that were displaying menorahs. In a response organized by local church leaders, more than 10,000 of the city’s residents and shopkeepers put make-shift menorahs in their own windows, to protect the city’s three dozen or so Jewish families. The vandalism stopped....

...The menorah was lighted and Hebrew prayers chanted, while the officer watched from a distance with his dog. He figured he would let it all go down and then move in when the ceremony was done. The dog sat at attention, watching the ceremony with a peculiar expression on its face, a look of intense interest. When the ceremony was over, the officer approached the Hasidic rabbi.

“I’m Officer John Fosket of the Helena Police,” he said. “This is Miky, our security dog. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

Miky (pronounced Mikey) is a surplus police dog trained by the Israel Defense Force to sniff for explosives and was purchased by the State of Montana for the price of a plane ticket and a crate. Fosket was handed a card with phrases like like “Hi’ sha’ er” (stay!), Ch’pess (search!), and “Kelev tov” (good doggy)" but all too often Miky would stare at Fosket waiting for a command that made sense.

But with the help of Rabbi Chaim Bruk, Officer Fosket has learned to pronounce the tricky Israeli “ch” sound, and Miky has become a top dog, even working with the Secret Service when the President came to town.

"So all is well in the Jewish community here," Stern says. "Because the Hasidic rabbi is helping the Montana cop speak Hebrew to his dog."

The full story is from the New York Times.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Wow, I have been a bad blogger lately!

Things are winding down for the semester here at Pacific. Students are furiously working to get their final papers and assignments done and they're studying like they haven't all semester before final exams next week. So, things are pretty quiet in my neighborhood - apart from a few holiday parties.

I've been thinking a lot about how we celebrate the holidays as a community. We worked really hard this year to make our Festival of Lights celebration more inclusive, and to make the decorations in the university center more resonant for everyone - not just those who celebrate Christmas.

There's always some backlash to this. People who say things like, "most of us DO celebrate Christmas." Or, "that's just political correctness." I always find this surprising, especially when it comes from people who I know really do care about other people, regardless of their religious or cultural background. And this is nothing compared to the ridiculous boycotting of companies that dare to recognize that not all people are Christians, or the TV drama about "attacks on Christmas!" As if! The attack is that materialism has taken over the holiday, not that it threatens to take over others, too.

Saying "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" and putting a menorah in the window as well as a Christmas tree (or instead of!) aren't about being "PC." They're about respecting the dignity of every human being, which is something that Episcopalians promise to do every time we baptize a child or renew our own baptismal vows. Respecting other people is something that people of all faiths ought to be able to get behind. As a Christian, I can say that Christians CERTAINLY ought to be able to get behind it!

In the spirit of Christmas, let's us Christians not try to shove our religion down other people's throats. Let's trust that the creator of the universe is at work, and that we are better participants in that work when we are examples of love and hospitality, not hostility. Let's honor those who celebrate Hanukkah, Yule, and Kwanzaa, and those who have already celebrate Eid and Diwali this year.

If you're a Christian and you want to share your holiday traditions with others, invite them to your home to share your holiday meal and celebration, or to Christmas worship. (You will be going to worship, right?! I mean, if you're one of those who is all worked up about "Merry Christmas" you better be putting your money where your mouth is and showing up for church on Christmas eve or Christmas morning!)

If the Gap can 'get it' surely the rest of us can too! For them it's good business. For the rest of us, it's Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward ALL people.