Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 19, 2009

My Life as a Jew

Filed under: Jewish question — louisproyect @ 6:03 pm

I had been planning to say a few words about growing up as a Jew somewhere along the line but did not feel any particular urgency. However, the attack on the Holocaust Museum, the entrapment of a group of African-Americans into a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx, as well as the steady drumbeat against Iran for being “anti-Semitic” prompted me to put the topic on the front burner. As will be obvious, what I have to say is much more autobiographical than my usual posts, but in a roundabout way it will deal with more general questions about the Jewish race and religion since my experience was fairly typical, both in terms of becoming a Jew and eventually renouncing my ties to the religion.

As I have mentioned here before, I have collaborated with a couple of people with extensive backgrounds in comic books on a project about my life that by necessity leaves out a lot of details. Since the person who initially suggested the project to me was particularly interested in my growing up as a Jew in the Catskill Mountains in the 1950s, it was regrettable that space considerations forced us to leave out a lot. Who knows, perhaps I might work on a full-length word-only version before my time on earth is up.

My home town was Woodridge, NY, a village of about 500 people in the heart of the Borscht Belt, a resort area with hundreds of hotels, both large and small, as well as what were called bungalow colonies. (The word bungalow derives from “Bengali”, and was used to describe a type of single-story house that originated in India.) Bungalows were cabins that were rented from Memorial Day to Labor Day by working class Jewish families fleeing the sweltering heat of Bronx or Brooklyn tenements, with the husband generally coming up on weekends or a week or so during the summer. These men, mostly WWII veterans, were barbers, waiters, cabdrivers, garment cutters, etc. When their kids grew up and became college educated, they stopped going up to the Catskills. This was partly a result of upward mobility and a move to the suburbs, as well assimilation. The ultra-Jewish character of the Borscht Belt left the new generation cold. Nowadays, the hotels are in ruins and have inspired one photographer to chronicle the passing of an era:

An abandoned bungalow from Vanishing Catskills website

My father owned a fruit and vegetable store that catered to the summer trade and supplemented his income by selling fish as well in the winter. I began working in his store during the summer in 1959 or so. This was still at a time when the older vacationers spoke Yiddish exclusively. They have all died off long ago and the only people still speaking the language today are Hasidic Jews who strive to replicate the shtetl (small town) life in 19th century Eastern Europe and Russia. I enjoy the guttural, sing-song quality of the language and listen to Hasidic rabbis on AM radio when I get a chance, even though I don’t understand much of what they are saying.

This is what they sound like:

And here’s Isaac Bashevis Singer receiving the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978 and making the case for Yiddish:

My parents sent me to Hebrew school in order to prepare me for my bar mitzvah. The goal was never to learn what the words meant but only to be prepared to pronounce words on a page with some degree of accuracy. After I gave my “speech” in Hebrew at the local synagogue in 1958, my Hebrew school days were behind me—thank god.

About a month after the bar mitzvah, my father proposed that I begin going to morning minyan, a service that required at least 10 men to proceed (minyan is Hebrew for count). Since he was an intimidating figure, I had to do what he asked.

This meant getting up a half hour earlier each morning and trudging down to the synagogue where I joined anywhere from 10 to 15 men in their 30s to 70s. After donning prayer shawls and putting on tefillin, they recited prayers at a blue streak while bobbing their head and shoulders up and down and from right to left—this was called davening, or praying.

It was the first time in my life that I put on tefillin, an act that reminded me of a junky tying a belt around his arm before shooting up. Here’s a demo:

As much as I hated getting up a half-hour early, I hated this meaningless ritual even more. About 3 or 4 days into morning services, I told my father that I didn’t want to go any more. Although I did not feel particularly guilty about “dropping out”, I got into the habit of crossing to the opposite side of the street when I saw the rabbi approaching. I did not want to look him in the eyes. My memory of this experience has steeled me against the kind of sentimentalizing of religion that has spread among certain sectors of the left, largely under the impact of political Islam’s growing influence. When parents pressure their children into going to a mosque, a church or a synagogue, that’s the first step in turning them into obedient servants to authority.

For us, being Jewish meant going to services on high holy days and keeping kosher. My father, however, was not above selling lobsters out of a freezer in the back of his store. His regular customers would come into the store and whisper to him that they needed a couple of lobster tails, which he would bring from the back in plain paper bags. It was like running a speakeasy.

Leviticus 11:9-12 in the Old Testament says: “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.” Pork is an abomination as well. So where does that put all the bible-thumping homophobes in the U.S.? If you are going to rid gay people from the human race, doesn’t that mean setting up picket lines at Red Lobster as well? Inquiring minds want to know.

I really never gave much thought to religion, but I could not get past two problems with Judaism even at an early age. First, what kind of God was it that only related to an ethnic group? If you weren’t a Jew, were you practicing a false religion that would condemn you to burn in hell? But the Jews, unlike the Christians, never seemed interested in converting the goyim, our derogatory term for non-Jews. In fact we Jews had a kind of racial pride that would stand in the way of recruiting people who did not have Jewish blood flowing in their veins. My parents spoke about those who had a goyishe kopf, or gentile brains. This usually boiled down to drinking too much, gambling or getting poor grades in school. Who would want to convert such people? Of course, that’s the driving force behind evangelical Christianity—something that is utterly lacking in the clubbish faith of my forefathers.

The other problem was God’s omnipotence. If this angry and vengeful God could wipe out Egyptians by the boatload, why did he stand by while Nazis killed 6 million people who prayed to him without fail? I used to test this belief out on high holy days as I sat on the hard bench in my synagogue while everybody around me was praying like it was going out of style. The words would form in my brain: “God, fuck you. If you hear me, then go ahead and strike me with lightning.” Amazingly enough, nothing ever happened.

My last hurrah as an observant Jew occurred in my Freshman year at Bard College where I attended Friday night services led by Eugen Kullman, a religion professor but not an ordained rabbi. These were mainly homilies delivered in accordance with the Reform Jewish principles that this German Jew adhered to. German Jews tended to Enlightenment beliefs, while their Eastern European brethren oriented to the ecstatic and the supernatural, especially in the Hasidic sects.

Kullman was an extraordinary teacher, so much so that I decided to major in religion. Ironically, my decision was partially influenced by my growing interest in exactly those forms of spirituality that went against the rationalist grain of Reform Judaism. Given the pervasive influence of the beat poets at the time, it was not unusual for somebody like me to have had a fascination with Kabbalah, Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Gnosticism and other beliefs that found their way into the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Robert Kelly et al. In the early 60s, the only way for many young people to rebel against materialism was through mysticism, especially when it was spurred by experiments with LSD and peyote, which were just becoming popular. I was a pothead, but anxious to give these drugs a shot the first chance I got, which was a year after graduating Bard.

Kullman was especially hostile to Kabbalah, which he regarded as something akin to astrology or other forms of superstition. Not long after I graduated Bard, Kullman moved on to Middlebury College where he had a distinguished career. They created an archive of his writings, as well as photos of him in the classroom. The one below was taken in 1971 and his appearance had not changed much since his time at Bard:

In the course of looking through the Middlebury archives, I discovered that despite his High German rationalism, Kullman must have certainly had a feel for the mysticism that beckoned me since he included Herman Hesse as one of his closest friends. Here is the introduction to the letter which can be read in its original German at https://segue.middlebury.edu/view/html/site/kullmann-archives/node/798464

On November 14, 1946 Eugen wrote a letter to congratulate his friend Hermann Hesse on receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature.  As Eugen writes here, he learned of Hesse’s honor in a newscast on a Yiddish radio station, to which he listened from time to time.

For many undergraduates, Siddhartha—a Hesse novel based on the life of the Buddha—was essential reading. A paragraph on its final page captured the yearnings of a seventeen-year-old like me:

He no longer saw the face of his friend Siddhartha, instead he saw other faces, many, a long sequence, a flowing river of faces, of hundreds, of thousands, which all came and disappeared, and yet all seemed to be there simultaneously, which all constantly changed and renewed themselves, and which were still all Siddhartha. He saw the face of a fish, a carp, with an infinitely painfully opened mouth, the face of a dying fish, with fading eyes—he saw the face of a new-born child, red and full of wrinkles, distorted from crying—he saw the face of a murderer, he saw him plunging a knife into the body of another person—he saw, in the same second, this criminal in bondage, kneeling and his head being chopped off by the executioner with one blow of his sword—he saw the bodies of men and women, naked in positions and cramps of frenzied love—he saw corpses stretched out, motionless, cold, void— he saw the heads of animals, of boars, of crocodiles, of elephants, of bulls, of birds—he saw gods, saw Krishna, saw Agni—he saw all of these figures and faces in a thousand relationships with one another, each one helping the other, loving it, hating it, destroying it, giving re-birth to it, each one was a will to die, a passionately painful confession of transitoriness, and yet none of them died, each one only transformed, was always re-born, received evermore a new face, without any time having passed between the one and the other face—and all of these figures and faces rested, flowed, generated themselves, floated along and merged with each other, and they were all constantly covered by something thin, without individuality of its own, but yet existing, like a thin glass or ice, like a transparent skin, a shell or mold or mask of water, and this mask was smiling, and this mask was Siddhartha’s smiling face, which he, Govinda, in this very same moment touched with his lips.

By 1965, I had pretty much lost interest in mysticism and had become increasingly alarmed by the war in Vietnam especially since I was eligible for the draft. Within a year or so, I was politicized and ready to join the left. In some of my early discussions with the Trotskyists I had begun to hang out with, the subject of Israel inevitably came up.

I had not given much thought to the Jewish state since the 1950s but had always considered it “progressive”, if not socialist—at least in terms of my underdeveloped way of understanding the world. Everybody in my village was a Zionist and you could spot a Blue Box for the Jewish National Fund in just about every shop in Woodridge, including my dad’s. When the box was filled with dollar bills and small change, it would be turned over to Hadassah, the woman’s Zionist group that my mom was deeply involved with. We all thought that the money was being used to plant trees and help turn the desert into a garden. Thoughts about the displaced Palestinians never entered our mind.

If they did, perhaps we would have felt justified in their displacement since only 10 years had elapsed since the end of WWII and the memories of the concentration camps were still vivid. During the summer, some of the Jews who vacationed in the Borscht Belt were referred to as “the immigrants” and many had numbers tattooed on their forearm. There was still deep animosity toward the Germans, so much so that nobody would be caught dead buying German goods, especially the cars.

My uncle Mike broke the embargo in 1960 when he brought a Mercedes Benz roadster back from Germany as a gift to my cousin Louis (we were both named after our grandfather.) This was one more reason for my father to hate Mike, who he accused of forging my grandfather’s will in order to inherit the lumber yard—the most lucrative of his many businesses. My father ended up with a measly fruit store, another uncle ended up with a fish store, etc. At some point the friction between my father and my uncle Mike grew so deep that they had a huge fist fight that the cops had to break up. Since my father boxed in the army, my uncle Mike probably got the worst of it.

About 10 years ago I made an effort to interview my aunts and uncles about my grandfather who died a year or so before I was born. He seemed like a larger-than-life character and I had little knowledge about him except that he was something of an entrepreneur while serving as president of the Workman’s Circle, a Jewish/Socialist benevolent society formed in 1900 and that is still in operation. My friend Paul Buhle is an occasional featured speaker at their New York headquarters.

I called my uncle Mike who was in his late 80s by this point and he refused to see me. Thank goodness, he was not above filling in some details over the phone that helped me understand what my grandfather was like, and just as importantly, what Mike was like.

He said that my grandfather Louis, who built hotels among his other pursuits, had a construction gang of gentile Russian workers who always showed up at his house on Saturday where they drank home-made schnapps and played brass instruments on the front lawn. If I ever had the time and the motivation to write a novel about the Catskill Mountains that I have kicked around for the longest time, this scene would be included.

Mike also described his own break with Judaism. I can’t remember whether this was in response to my own question or something he volunteered on his own. Just as my father forced me to go to minyan, my uncle Mike was forced to go to services on Saturday. But one day he spotted a synagogue elder playing cards in a luncheonette in town, something that was strictly forbidden. Even though he was only 10 years old or so, he confronted my grandfather with the hypocrisy of the elder and announced that he would no longer go to synagogue. Apparently, my grandfather was so impressed with Mike’s independence that he caved in to his demand.

A shochet at work

I don’t know much else about Mike (or my grandfather for that matter) but I do know that he went to Columbia University in the 1930s while working part time as a shochet in local slaughterhouses. A shochet had the job of killing chickens according to Jewish dietary laws. There was a slaughterhouse in the back of my father’s store in the 50s and I used to while away many afternoons watching these guys in action. It must have exacted quite a bit of cognitive dissonance to spend a morning slitting the necks of chickens and then go up to 116th street for a class on American history.

Nowadays my Jewishness consists almost exclusively in my sense of humor and general sensibility. I dumped the religion by the time I was 16 and the Zionism about 5 years later. Although I am an extreme case, my own experience is not that different from most men and women my age who are fairly well-assimilated to American society.

Hysteria over the Holocaust Museum shootings and whatever has popped out of Ahmadinejad’s mouth lately tends to be restricted to Zionist and observant circles which are becoming more and more equivalent nowadays. With every passing day, the kind of fervor that attached itself to the Zionist cause decreases especially in the face of an ever-increasing Likudist brutality. Despite the determination of the Israeli state to wipe out every vestige of “rootless cosmopolitanism”, including the lingua franca that allowed Jews everywhere to communicate with each other, the deeper roots of this culture persist in diverse forms such as popular culture or the serious novel. Ultimately, Jewishness will be divided against itself, with Israel being a kind of litmus test. Remaining true to Judaism will involve taking a stand against the Jewish state itself.


  1. Great piece, Lou! You should write more often on this topic and share your experiences with all of us.

    Comment by Gilles d'Aymery — June 19, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  2. Although I mostly follow your thoughts on energy and resources on Marxmail, Louis, I really like the personal pieces the most. This one is classic.

    In a better, alternative universe, you would be writing essays and they would be published by mainsteam publishers and read in college freshman classes.

    Bart Anderson / Energy Bulletin

    Comment by Bart Anderson — June 19, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

  3. Here is a personal tidbit I’d like to share. My father had (and still has) numbers tattooed on in forearm, courtesy of his hosts at Buchenwald. As I recall I never, ever saw my father wear short-sleeves shirts/polos/T’s, etc. Always long sleeves to hide the horror — out of sight out of mind, but his own.

    Ironically, I would not be alive had he not been deported to that concentration camp (my dad was in the French Resistance). There he met a man who also survived the ordeal and happened to be the first cousin of my mother…who was very beautiful… The rest is history, though not necessarily a happy one!

    Again, Lou, thank you for this piece — a keeper!


    Comment by Gilles d'Aymery — June 19, 2009 @ 8:42 pm

  4. Sorry, it should read…”tattooed on his forearm”

    Signed: an editor in need of an editor!

    Comment by Gilles d'Aymery — June 19, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  5. Are you teasing us, Lou? We kids take you seriously. You promised to rough up Bard College at book length. Now you’re stringing us along with a maybe novel on the Catskills. Don’t let us down, please. Of course we agree with your last paragraph. But it doesn’t surprise us. The truth is that if you don’t, no one else will tell about an adolescent entranced by a shochet or musing on why those lobster tails had to go in a plain paper bag.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — June 19, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

  6. This is great stuff.

    Comment by Grumpy Old Man — June 19, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

  7. Great stuff!!

    Just to nitpick a little. It wasn’t always the case that Jews refrained from proselytizing gentiles. Two thousand years ago, Judaism was very much a missionary faith, with Jews fanning out over much of the Roman Empire seeking to convert gentiles. And this effort apparently enjoyed much success, since according to many historians at least ten percent of the population of the Roman Empire was Jewish. It seems rather unlikely that all those Jews were the descendents of the inhabitants of Judea. And we know that the long before the Jewish revolts in Judea against Roman rule, the Jewish population in the diaspora was greater than that of Judea. The early Christians were simply following in the footsteps of their fellow Jews when they began prosletyzing among the Greeks and Romans. It seems that their dropping of the requirement that male converts be circumcized and their dropping of the dietary laws gave the Christian sect a competitive advantage over the Jews. Lots of Greeks and Romans who were otherwise intrigued by Jewish teachings refrained from converting because they found requirements like circumcision and the dietary laws to be too irksome. Eventually, Christianity would become the official religion of the Roman Empire. By that time the Jewish rabbis began to rethink the wisdom of proselytization since that tended to place Jews on a collision course with Christian (and later Muslim) authorities, so eventually Jews got out of the missionary business,leaving that sort of thing to the Christians and the Muslims. Later on Jewish teaching emphasized the idea that gentiles only had to follow the seven laws of Noah in order to get a share in the world to come (whereas Jews had the burden of following 613 commandments), so it wasn’t really necessary, in this view to convert gentiles to Judaism.

    Comment by Jim Farmelant — June 19, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

  8. Great Post Louis.

    I wanted ask you about two issues you raised that are related to Norman Finkelsteins research. As you may know Finkelstein has often made the point that prior to the 1967 war neither The holocaust or Israel played a major part in the lives of american jews. He often makes the point that the holocaust wasn’t discussed much in public and that there were very few scholarly studies of it prior to 67. He also points out that prior to 1967 that many american jews kept there distance from Israel for fear of being accused of dual loyalties.

    Now in this case Finkelstein is mostly referring to jewish intellectuals, not average people. He attributes this attitude of american jews to the cold war in that talking about the holocaust and supporting Israel was seen at the time as something only communists did. It was only after 67 when Israel became a strategic asset to the U.S. that it became fashionable to both support Israel and talk about the holocaust.

    It seems to me that your own personal experience somewhat contradicts finkelsteins thesis, although you are referring to life in small town. I wanted to know if you feel there is a contradiction or if you feel that Finkelsteins thesis is basically correct?

    Comment by Dave — June 20, 2009 @ 1:30 am

  9. Indeed a great read, Lou.

    Really a very complex question that of religion and identity. In many ways I feel the something similar about being Irish and having been reared a Catholic.

    I was one of the readers at the Bloomsday night in the Irish Club last Tuesday and I read part of the Cyclops sequence where Joyce takes the piss out of the Citizen a character based on the Irish Nationalist Michael Cusack (1847-1906). Cusack founded the Gaelic Athletic Association and was part of the movement that tried to ban “Foreign Games” i.e soccer and cricket. The Christian Brothers that taught me were mostly fairly civilized men, but one of them, Brother Nagle, was also a nationalistic bigot and he used to stop us from playing soccer in the school playground. I still remember him standing at the top of the yard and shouting out to us “Gabhagai na bhaile” (go home). We had by ourselves organized a competition with about six teams but he put a complete stop to it. He had nothing positive to offer us, just a blank veto.

    So I grew up with a hatred of Irish or Gaelic football and I have carried that over to its offshoot Aussie Rules – the only other major spectator sport that I will never watch.

    But having said that I am Irish and while far from being uncritical of Irish nationalism, nevertheless I take a pride in that for a long time to be Irish was to be the Feared and Despised Other. For instance just recently in my Sunday readings I came across this passage in Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit (Ch 17)

    “Mr Bevan knocked at the door of a very neat house of moderate size, from the parlour windows of which, lights were shining brightly into the now dark street. It was quickly opened by a man with such a thoroughly Irish face, that it seemed as if he ought, as a matter of right and principle, to be in rags, and could have no sort of business to be looking cheerfully at anybody out of a whole suit of clothes.”

    There is a kind of purity in being despised by the English literaryand other establishments and while it also gives birth to that terrible Irish moral smugness, our history as the Feared Despised Other nevertheless links us, however tenuously today, to the slave side of the master-slave dialectic. And that is the only place for the decent to be. It is also of course where the Jews have historically belonged.



    Comment by Gary MacLennan — June 20, 2009 @ 2:03 am

  10. “Leviticus 11:9-12 in the Old Testament says: “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.” Pork is an abomination as well. So where does that put all the bible-thumping homophobes in the U.S.? If you are going to rid gay people from the human race, doesn’t that mean setting up picket lines at Red Lobster as well? Inquiring minds want to know.”

    Louis, Christians follow the New Covenant with God, not the Abrahamic or Mosaic Covenants (the two Jewish covenants).

    Short version, Christians are exempt from Jewish dietary laws.

    But they are NOT exempt from homophobia.

    I don’t believe any of that (I’ve been atheist since age 9 – but before that I was Episcopalian) – but lots of Christians do.

    Comment by gangbox — June 20, 2009 @ 2:58 am

  11. Did I misinterpret something, or were you claiming that Iran is not anti-semitic? Because personally, I would think that there are both anti-semites and people who non-anti-semites in Iran. I would also say that Mahmoud Amadinhejad (not sure how to spell his surname sorry if I got it wrong), President of Iran, is definitely an anti-semite, as evidenced by his hosting of a conference in Iran about how the Holocaust is a hoax perpetrated by Zionists. I don’t see how it could be possible for someone to be a non-anti-semite and believe the Holocaust is an elaborate hoax. I also think that as a candidate for Iranian politics needs to be approved by the Ayatollah (Iran’s supreme religious leader), the fact that Amadinhejad has both approval and is (or seems to be) an anti-semite, it is therefore highly plausible that the Ayatollah is also anti-semitic, which also makes it highly plausible that anti-semitism is rife or even dominant with Iranian religious leaders. So whilst I think it would be false to say “Iran is anti-semitic” I think it would be fair to say “Anti-semitism is rife and possibly dominant within the Iranian ruling elite”.

    Comment by Emmy — June 20, 2009 @ 3:07 am

  12. Perhaps gangbox or someone else versed in the theology of Abraham’s Big Three could clarify a delicate point. Is the prohibition of eating pork based on the fact that the animal, like the Devil, has a cloven foot? If so, where does that leave the mulefoot pig? That noble breed has a very normal foot—normal, that is, for mules, which though chewy are permitted nosh by all religions, save those worshipping vegetables. It’s perplexing. The Chicago Reader has enquired conscientiously into the survival of the mulefoot. http://www.chicagoreader.com/wholehogproject/

    Comment by Peter Byrne — June 20, 2009 @ 10:19 am

  13. Noam Chomsky made an interesting comment in this interview that if public opinion in US turns against Israel that would likely lead to a substantial rise in anti-Semitism. I wonder if an increase in anti-Zionism will necessarily result in greater anti-Semitism…

    Comment by sk — June 20, 2009 @ 10:23 am

  14. David, I think that Norman is correct in pointing out that the holocaust industry only came into existence after 1967, but it was certainly discussed openly among the Jews I lived with in the 50s. There was not that much of a need to use it as an ideological battering ram in that period against the Palestinians because the PLO had not yet come into existence, let alone open struggle.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 20, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  15. I suspect the kosher and halal dietary rules about pork and shellfish had their roots in the fact that those particular types of animal proteins go bad in desert environments very quickly.

    They couldn’t actually tell people that, so they came up with the cloven hoofs and scales thing as a justification.

    Comment by gangbox — June 21, 2009 @ 7:44 am

  16. God never stroke you with lightning because to him you are not important enough, despite of what you think of yourself. Your prayers are not important and neither are you. I am sorry, man, but that’s the reality.

    Comment by Oleg — June 21, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  17. Oleg, do you actually believe that God strikes people down? Or performs miracles? That’s amazing?

    Comment by louisproyect — June 21, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  18. The main passage on the end of dietary laws in the New Testament is a vision the apostle Peter has. Of course, it could be disputed as metaphorical, since it turns out its main import is that Peter should go proselytize to the Gentiles with this new religion, rather than get a big meal at the Red Lobster in the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. Re: Jim Farmelant noting that Judaism was a proselytizing religion at the time, I’ve read that too. John Dominic-Crossan has noted that a lot of Paul’s polemics (and early Christianity’s) advocating a separation from the Mosaic Law probably involved a competition for converts with non-Jesus Judaism and the influx of converts to Christianity who were previously Gentile converts to Judaism and who were telling Gentiles who converted without that step that they weren’t real Christians. This is all part of that splitting of Judaism under the harsher Roman occupation (destruction of the Temple and the Revolts) that created Christianity and Rabbinic as opposed to priestly Temple Judaism

    Comment by Nathaniel — June 21, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

  19. No, I am actually an atheist. I am just trying to put things into the right perspective, that if God existed he probably couldn’t care less about your personal prayers or doubts because, you know, you are not important enough.

    Comment by Oleg — June 24, 2009 @ 6:48 pm

  20. Oh, I see. You are probably right although my wife thinks I am important–not that she would hurl a lightning bolt at me.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 24, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

  21. i heard a joke on two and a half men about jews and red lobster.your website explained it to me with the quote from leviticus.my question is,do jews not eat crab,shrimp,lobster…? or is that just something only hard-core jews do? please explain. thx ed

    Comment by ed crouse — November 24, 2009 @ 2:37 am

  22. Orthodox Jews are the only ones who do not eat fish without scales. They say that in 20 years these will be the only Jews left. The rest will be like me, totally assimilated.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 24, 2009 @ 2:46 am

  23. Louis, we don’t know one another, but I have to correct a mistake: Prof. Kullmann went on to spend the rest of his career at Kenyon College (Ohio), not Middlebury. I created a modest website, which you discovered, at Middlebury, where I work. That led you to assume he taught there, not the case. But he taught at Kenyon, where I encountered him, and he passed away there, in Ohio in June, 2002. An extraordinary teacher, his memory a blessing.

    Comment by Robert Schine — June 8, 2020 @ 12:26 am

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