From the Publisher December 2016

Have you ever had houseguests that stayed too long, just would not leave? Have you ever had furtive conversations with your dog, your cat, your housemate or your spouse? Urgent but mostly futile strategy sessions designed to come up with the perfect “You have to go, we have early work tomorrow.” or “My child/mother/old school friend is coming to visit for a week, we need the room.” Have you ever felt your space was well… just not your own space anymore?

This happened recently to our family. For the past few months the tranquil calm that we work so hard to maintain has been shattered by the cacophony of their never-ending prattle. They never seemed to have anything new to say and on the hour the same conversation would start all over again. It seems that our guests had sorted themselves into two opposing sides and were hell bent on never finding anything they could agree on.

Finally, some time in the middle of November we had had enough. My wife and I agreed that someone had to turn the darn thing off or at least check what we had missed on Netflix. For a week the Sony in the family room remained black and silent. Within days we found ourselves migrating back from coffee table meals to the full pomp and ceremony of dining at a table. And yes, we are now back to binge watching – I guess there goes conversation again.

By now you all know what I am talking about, the maelstrom of conflict and divisiveness that we have all just survived. Some are celebrating the victory of their guy whilst all too many in my world mourn the end of civilization, as they know it, with the loss of their potential glass ceiling shatterer.

As a member of the fourth estate, and fully aware of the awesome responsibility we have to upset the spiritual equilibrium of the nation and then be its savior, DAVID offers some words of wisdom.

Sadly social etiquette was the first victim of the past cycle. In our piece Manners, pages 32-35, we provide a refresher course. Parents, after all, need to abide by the same set of rules that they so enthusiastically impose on their children.

Rabbi Sanford Akselrad, of Congregation Ner Tamid, has graciously contributed to our pages this month. In Happy Chrismukkah, pages 42-45, he takes advantage of a unique calendar this month to explore the commonalities of the religious traditions of Hanukkah and Christmas.

Finally Jaq Greenspon’s powerful essay, Earth Rise, pages 52-56, reminds us that we have far more in common than anything a talking head can dream up. We inhabit a celestial wonder called Earth that is by far the most majestic planet in our galaxy, let alone all of space. “Let’s make our galaxy great again!”

Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and whatever you say for Kwanzaa, as always, it is our profound privilege and pleasure to see you in the racks.

Max D. Friedland

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