United for Andreassen
While I am disappointed that I did not receive the Democratic Party line for town justice, when you play by the rules you have to be ready to lose. Some of our recent Olympic competitors learned this lesson. The caucus system is democracy in action; it may not always result in the best candidate, but hopefully the person chosen will do a creditable job. I prefer that approach rather than party bosses picking the candidates. It is to the credit of the Democratic Party Committee that they conduct an open and transparent caucus. I did not seek their endorsement and was not disappointed when it was not tendered. Claudia Andreassen and I entered the caucus on equal footing. I rallied as many supporters as I could, but I could not compete with Ms. Andreassen’s supporters. Thank you to the people who worked for and voted for me.
Now that the caucus has passed, I will support her candidacy. Although I have the Working Families and Green Party lines, I will not be campaigning for election. The Democratic Party stands for the principle that government has a duty to show a responsible and compassionate commitment to all its inhabitants. Having observed Judge Andreassen on the bench, I am confident she will conduct her court room in accordance with that principal. Hopefully together we can build a stronger Democratic Party.
Lanny E. Walter
May I share with your readers that on August 29 at the Inquiring Mind Bookstore, we will have the fun of hearing “Character References – Saugertesians Remember Rare Characters in Their Lives.” Remembrances of special people will bring back not only their personalities, but the town that they knew and contributed to and handed on to us. If you would like to bring alive someone vivid to you, please consider coming and joining in. Or just come to listen and remember. Let me know if you have questions about this evening or other iterations of “Stories for Inquiring Mind.” We start at 7 p.m. and are out by 8:45 p.m.
Keep ’em separated
Bob Berman’s night sky August 2, 2012 article proves the adage that science and religion make strange bedfellows. Astronomers are always asked about God because people believe he is a giant being up in the sky, exactly where astronomers are always pointing their telescopes. So far God has eluded detection, but who could not wonder, looking at all the stars in the night sky, about the possibility of God’s existence. Never the less, scientific facts and religious beliefs will always be incompatible. Science is based on discoveries that result from repeatable experiments. Religion is based on ideas that cannot be proved but that the faithful believe. Therefore, science cannot answer religious questions and religion can’t answer scientific questions. As an astronomer it is not relevant what Mr. Berman believes about the existence of God. As a person he has the right to believe whatever he wants, even that his personal God finishes his work while he’s not looking and magically grows chives for his ex-wife!
Sunday, August 19, the Muslim holiday Eid ul-Fitr will be celebrated throughout the world, marking the culmination of Ramadan, the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting. Local community members learned about Ramadan in lessons on the Qur’an that Taha Awadallah recently gave at Miriam’s Well. Taha, a young Palestinian film-maker visiting from Al Walaja Village, Bethlehem, has been frequenting Torah studies at the WJC and was approached to share teachings from the Qur’an. There I learned more about the purpose of the Ramadan fast: to feel empathy with the poor; to give charity; to develop steadfastness and patience; and to focus on the realm of the spiritual and God.
Taha told me that at the end of each day, his family anxiously awaits the Call to Prayer from the Mosque (and his brother Mustafa can really get impatient saying “Why doesn’t he call us to prayer yet? It’s time!”) as this Call to Prayer means people can finally eat after hours of complete fasting. Taha laughed, recalling his brother’s impatience. Soon, Taha’s family, as families the world over, will celebrate Eid ul-Fitr concluding Ramadan. They will gather early in the morning in outdoor places or mosques for the Eid prayer after which they will visit family and friends, give gifts (especially to children), and phone distant relatives to extend well-wishes. Before the Eid Prayer, as an obligatory act of charity (known in the Arabic as: Zakat and Sadaqat-ul-fitr ) money is paid to the poor and needy. It is interesting that the Arabic word Sadaqat resembles the Hebrew: Sadaka which also means charitable giving. How our languages and customs touch each other; how close we could be.
Yet there are harsh realities: The Palestinian Authority recently instructed the Prayer Caller in Al Walaja village to mute his Call to Prayer so it will not disturb the people of Har Gilo who have settled on the community’s land. Soon there will not be an easy way for Taha’s family to visit relatives and friends outside their village. Once the Separation Wall is completed around Al Walaja, families will be cut off from each other. Their village will be sealed off — from schools and universities, hospitals, work places; from their springs of water, from their cultivated lands and fields of wild thyme (za’atar); sacred olive trees uprooted, houses demolished to make way for settlement growth and for the construction of Route 60; and the people of Al Walaja will be denied the possibility (long forbidden to most males in the West Bank) – of worship at the Al Quds Mosque in Jerusalem. These are realities Taha has not spoken of to our community, but that I feel incumbent upon myself to share with you now.