Dear Mr. President – September 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

You know I always try to be truthful with you. Last night was “horrible”, “a disgrace”, “disgusting”, “ugly”, “pathetic”, “weak” and “like nobody would ever believe”. In short, it was a “disaster”. You wore your “I’m really mad “face, waved your hands about like you were ready to sweep all the papers off a desk, and pursed your lips so tightly they looked like a pout. You turned beet red and there was steam coming out of your ears. The only thing that wasn’t coming out of you was Truth, Justice and the American Way. Seriously, Mr. President, is that how you treat anyone who doesn’t kiss your ring?

There are words that describe this type of behavior. One is “bully”. I don’t think that is a completely true description of your behavior last night. We often use the word to describe someone who tries to use power, intimidation, violence or fear to control someone else. You didn’t intimidate or scare anyone, but you did manage to demean the Office of the President of the United States and threaten our democracy. Everyone already knew you would make the same accusations you always make about other people, the media and anyone who challenges you. You shout, bluster, glare (ooh-not scary), and then tell ridiculous lies while shouting over anyone who tries to speak.

There was absolutely nothing from you about what your plans are for another four years. There are no ideas from you on how to solve some very important problems for this country. In fact, you can’t even acknowledge there are problems, except for dead trees and leaves in California forests, most of which are under Federal jurisdiction. You made a decision in January to ban some people from China (not everyone) and that did help but nowhere near enough and you have undone that help by your actions, inactions and untruths (lies) over the past 8 months. Your non-plan for the economy seems based on your business acumen, which seems based on cheating, lying and running your businesses into the ground. As VPBiden would say, “C’mon man”.

There was a very large audience for the rumble in Cleveland, but the ratings were a flop. You won’t have a very large audience for any future debates because no one wants to watch POTUS turn into a player on WrestleMania. A friend taught me a new word (thanks Marci) that I’d like to use rather than “bully”. It comes from British and Scottish slang and it’s really fun to say. “Cockwomble”. It means “a person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid statements and /or inappropriate behavior while generally having a very high opinion of their own wisdom and importance”.

Check it out.

Dear Mr. President – September 26, 2020

September 26, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. No, it’s not about your poll numbers; I have faith that you will do something to change them, even if I don’t know whether your numbers will go up or down. My heart is very heavy from the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Every picture, every ceremony and every ritual of Jewish mourning seen and heard this week, has brought me to tears. Our rabbi shared a video clip of her reading the Prayer for Our Country that is found in our prayer book Here are a few of the words of this prayer that she read: “May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of this country”. Can you see why I’ve been tearful? My heavy heart is also about the appearance that you and Senator McConnell and all but two of the Republican senators seem gleeful about her death and your opportunity to name another justice to the Supreme Court. It’s the “glee” that makes me sad and angry and worried about “our ideals and free institutions”. It’s the utter lack of feeling or respect for what she stood for. It’s also the knowledge that with your nominee on the Court, there may be a reversal of Roe v Wade and/or an overturning of the Affordable Health Care Act. That would not be good for the country.Anyhow, you know me, I’m not able to stay demoralized, depressed and disgusted for too long. My nature is to feel more balanced and even-tempered. Sure, I worry about the continuing and lasting effects of the Donald Trump Virus, the disasters caused by climate change, social unrest due to blatant racism and lack of social justice, and a million other serious problems, but I know there are solutions for these issues. It will take more than reciting the Prayer for the Country. I look forward to hearing from you what your ideas are on “forging a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry”.

With all due respect, I don’t think I’ve heard you speak on this topic.In the spirit of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, I have some ideas for you for positive changes in your life and the life of our country. Please read through the statements in the “Al Chet” prayer (For the Sins We have Committed) that is the centerpiece of the liturgy for this day. It’s recited in the plural so as not to embarrass anyone. There is quite a long list but I’m sure you will find some that are relevant for you. The day gives us the opportunity to take an account of our actions, before G-d and before other human beings and to really think about how to change for the better.

My last idea to help you change is for you to make time to practice for the debates. Everyone knows you don’t like to prepare, and you certainly have a way of speaking off the cuff, but that may not be the best strategy. You have some wild accusations about VP Biden that are just offensive, not funny nor true, so leave them out. You may want to insinuate negative things about his son, although, be careful as your older sons have some shade on them, so no to that approach as well. In short, maybe prepare answers for policy questions that you may be asked. You may be asked how to work toward mitigating climate change or social injustice or how to prevent more people from getting sick and dying. Another question may be how to be a president for all the people. Good luck.

Dear Mr. President – September 22, 2020

September 22, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

This is a pretty serious letter, but these times call for serious thoughts and words.

Rosh Hashana was different this year, but it was full of spiritual and emotional meaning and the words and lessons continue to preoccupy my thoughts and plans for the coming year. The time spent in prayer and reflection was a gift to be able think about the past year and all the tensions, anxieties and sadness and to find some hope for the next one.

This is a tough time for you what with all the worry about the election and your own future, so I thought I’d share a few words of the Machzor, and my Jewish texts and traditions that might be helpful. The first of these thoughts comes from Psalm 146 and it is about justice. “Put no trust in the powerful, in mortals who cannot save. Their breath departs, they return to dust, and that is the end of their grand designs”. So, neither you nor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, may her memory be for a blessing, will have final authority over how justice will rule. You may appoint a new Justice to the Supreme Court, but the outcome of that appointment may not lead to “justice” as defined in the Torah. Justice Ginsburg worked for those principles of justice. The biblical standard of justice, repeated over and over and over again in the text, is “always defined by the treatment of the poor, the weak, the powerless, the infirm, the unprotected.” (Machzor, Sim Shalom). It is this principal that allows the world to exist. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Here’s another thought that might help you deal with your current turmoil. It’s a quote from Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, may his memory be for a blessing: “If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that G-d has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, then it is you yourself that needs repair.” If you are constantly breaking and destroying institutions and laws or demeaning or accusing people of untruths, you might need to work on the second half of that quote.

One last thought has to do with the gut wrenching, rising heart rate and joy of hearing the shofar blown. Our service included intensely personal reflections by a number of people on their thoughts and memories about hearing the sound of the shofar. The shofar is viewed as an alarm, as a wake- up call and as the start of personal motivation to action. It’s our push to do what is right and to improve the world and ourselves. The prophet, Micah preached about how division in the country and in families led to hate. He scolded the people about being dishonest in the marketplace and about corruption in government and warned that both would lead to destruction if ways and hearts were not changed. So, what should we be doing? Here is the famous prophecy of Micah who told us what G-d wants us to do: “Do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy G-d”. As we think about our world, our communities, our families and ourselves, it is a push to DO justice.

Dear Mr. President – September 18, 2020

September 18, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

We are on the Eve of Rosh Hashanah and I want to wish you, your family, and everyone in your administration, as well as all of my family, friends and community, a very happy, sweet, healthy and peaceful new year. As you already know, the secular year begins in a few months, but this is the Jewish New Year. It’s a happy time but also a time of deep introspection both of one’s self and the state of our world. I’ve shared some of those thoughts and ideas with you many times but, this early evening, I want to share with you just a few more thoughts.

So many people are worried about our collective future for a variety of reasons. At the same time, most of us are counting the blessings in our lives. I usually focus on blessings, on the people and things in my life that make me give thanks. Most of them are my family and friends. My heart is full of love, joy and gratefulness. It’s always amazing and wonderful to see, hear and read about people doing good in the world and helping others in their community and, through donations, all around the country and the world.

I am grateful to live in this country where democracy and freedom are treasured. I know that there are other countries where people also treasure these concepts and traditions. Even though many people are quite worried about both these things, I believe the majority of people will do the right thing. They won’t lie, cheat, steal, commit sedition, or demean others with cruelty and derision. They won’t vote twice, they will wear masks to protect others when in public places, and they will continue to love and care for one another.

There is one more thing I want to say/write. If I have offended you or anyone else who reads these letters, I apologize. I try to express my thoughts and emotions with honesty and respect. I try to research my opinions and make sure the facts are true. I hope you accept my apology.

Shana Tova U’Metukah (A good and sweet new year).

Dear Mr. President – September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

Dear Mr. President,Well, this has been an incredible week and it’s only Wednesday. (It’s Wednesday, right?). You have been in the news non-stop and that’s how you like it. Then, there were the really strong rallies over the weekend with thousands of your fans. By the way, did you know that the word “fan” is short for the word “fanatic”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says the word “fanatic came from the Latin word “fanaticus”, and originally meant “insanely but divinely inspired”. It referred to a temple or sacred place which in Latin was a “fanum”. Isn’t that interesting? I wonder how the word ”fanatic” is connected to the phrase “herd mentality”?

So, why has my anxiety ramped up to CRAZY level? Me, a fairly calm, even tempered person, is feeling antsy, having trouble sleeping, and needing very long walks while listening to Heather Cox Richardson or Chuck Rosenberg (The Oath). Could it be the smoke from the West Coast that reached Michigan yesterday and is now over New York City and Washington D.C? Maybe it’s the looming number, 200,000, that we will reach by the end of the week. Of course, it could be that I’m worrying about how our grandchildren are handling Zoom learning. The eldest thinks it’s weird that there are lots of faces on the screen, but no one is talking. The next oldest is taking Spanish. He wrote something in the Chat Box and the teacher was impressed that he already knew the language. He said, “no, he used Google Translation”. One of the first graders cries every day and another two are totally wiped out by dinner time.

Whew, just putting those worries on paper helps me calm down. It’s also such a comfort to know that you are completely in charge of everything. Your intelligence is shining a bright light on current events. Of course, it could be the glow from the burning fires out west. Your statements on climate change show how optimistic you are. “It will get cold”, “The scientists don’t know” and, my favorite, “Trees will just explode”, really show off your knowledge.

Dear Mr. President – September 14, 2020

September 14, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

I know you are in the middle of a grand tour of Hispanic voters. You have been working very hard to reach out to the people who love you, even gathering them as close to your bosom as possible. You give your crowd of fans as much love as you possibly can, and they give it right back to you. It must feel so good.

This morning I read about yesterday’s rally and thought, this is how a wildfire starts. You gather all the fuel together and light a spark. Sometimes the fire burns out of control and destroys everything in its path. In the case of the fires on the west coast, the destruction includes homes, families, communities and the forests, animals and the ecosystem. Smoke from the fires continues to cause problems with breathing and health. The wind currents even are bringing smoke to Michigan! Your “man-made fire” has also spread across the country and it continues to destroy public health, communal norms, governmental institutions and good will toward others. Just as one wildfire leads to another, so do your rallies lead to even more destructive fires.It is the week leading up to Rosh Hashana, according to the Jewish tradition, the birthday of the world. I won’t bore you with all the details, you can just ask Jarrod and Ivanka to fill them in. You should just know that this is a good time to evaluate our lives, both personally and as a community. Our prayers are said in the plural “we” as we take responsibility for all of “our” actions. We ask for forgiveness for sins against other human beings as well as the sins we have committed against G-d. This is pretty heavy stuff, but it is cleansing, because it allows for new commitments to our families, our communities, our world and to our traditions and ethics. Just as some fires, controlled fires, can lead to new growth and healthier forests, so can new inspiration from our leaders lead to solving real problems in a real world.

In the NYTImes crossword puzzle from last Saturday, one of the clues was “Them” and the answer was “enemies”. When you use “they” or “them” are you saying that more than half the people of this country are your “enemies”? What happened to the oath you love, “One nation, under G-d”? Just as Nancy Pelosi prays for you, my prayers also include praying for good leaders, ones who work to improve all our lives and unite the entire country with good will toward all.

Dear Mr. President – September 10, 2020

September 10, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

Oy, now what? You are being beaten up by everyone! First there was the article in The Atlantic, then journalists reported on your comments about your generals (remember when you called them your “Great Generals”?), and now there’s the new book by Bob Woodward. And, let’s not forget Mary Trump’s book and dozens more written by former members of your administration as well as former friends (Omarosa Manigault Newman), employees (Michael Cohen) and Anonymous. Those great generals and Cabinet members and diplomats who served in previous administrations, not just Obama’s, are speaking out and sounding alarms. It’s almost as if they don’t love or respect you like you need to be loved or admired or feared.

Of course, it’s a bit suspicious that this is all happening now, less than two months before the election. It’s a bit like what we’ve come to call, “dirty tricks”. Come to think of it, dirty tricks are often untruths or misrepresentations meant to put people in a bad light. How you are being attacked is even worse. They are truths with proof, including the tapes! What can you do about that? Your press secretary, Ms. McEnany, the very one who promised to never lie to the journalists, came out and said, “Mr. Trump has never publicly played down the virus.” Can you believe she said that with a straight, earnest face? Yes, she is so smart and sharp, but she is bald-faced liar.

Even as disturbing as all this noise is, I don’t think you have to worry too much. Your Fox Friends are explaining that you were protecting us from chaos caused by extreme fear so we should thank you for that. Can you imagine if there were chaos and all of us were running around saying “We are going to die”? Of course, the “haters” are going to say that you contributed to the chaos by not coordinating the acquisition of equipment for the states rather than having them bid against each other or having the federal government take the supplies that the states had ordered, or that half the people would mask up and the other half would make fun of them for masking up.

Look, your people still love you. I’m talking about the smallish slice of the electorate that are our base. For four years I’ve read as much as I can (tolerate) about what it is they see in you. It’s clear that many know you don’t always tell the truth or sound like English is your first language, but they love that you are rude, crude and often socially unacceptable. For others, they love that you acted on a particular policy issue that they support. And, of course, there are those who defend social injustice, unequal rights, and overthrowing Roe v. Wade.

I am confident that there is more turbulence to come. AGBarr will charge Hillary with treason or sedition or being smart or something. Putin will send money to your campaign. Don Jr. or Eric will smear Kamala and produce a phony birth certificate showing she was born in both India and Jamaica. Ivanka will smile and give campaign speeches about how you couldn’t have assaulted, raped, or demeaned any woman who isn’t your “type” plus you have the most empathy of anyone she has ever met. Melania may say she doesn’t care for how much you tweet although you aren’t really disturbing her beauty sleep because she isn’t staying with you that often and that you are the best you can be.If all else fails, you can issue an executive order to burn all mail-in ballots, arrest Joe for being sleepy or corrupt, declare yourself President for Life, ask militia members to come to Washington with all their guns and barricade yourself in the White House Bunker.

Dear Mr. President – September 9, 2020

September 9, 2020

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you so much for answering my questions yesterday (he didn’t really), I had a much better night’s sleep. Maybe it was because I watched Big Bang Theory reruns. They always put me in a better mood. But then, this afternoon, there was more breaking news. You know what I’m talking about and it’s not the lawn in the Rose Garden, although that seems like an expensive fix for a problem that didn’t really need to happen.

So, let’s talk about the news that you knew how infectious and how deadly the virus was. You still keep talking about it as the Chinese virus, but I’ve told you many times, that six months into a continually growing disease in THIS COUNTRY, you get to have the honor of having it named for you. Apparently, you still need positive stroking that by banning all but about 40,000 people from entering the U. S. in February, you should get extra credit. In a school- based rating program you would get partial credit, not full credit and certainly not extra credit. If you had shared with the American People (in the words of VPPence who said this phrase a million times), we could have spent March and maybe April under a shut down. At that point we could have traced the numbers of infected folks much more easily than now. But, we didn’t because the message was “Two Weeks to Slowing the Virus”. Then it was ” 30 Days to Slowing the Virus”. Now it is six months later, and we have not really slowed the Donald Trump Virus.

So, now what? Check out how Winston Churchill and FDR behaved as leaders in times of troubles, really great troubles. They told the truth to the people and, at the same time, gave them hope at the same time. I know you wanted to stay hopeful, but you didn’t tell us the truth. Were you afraid of how we would react? Did you not want to give us credit for understanding clear guidelines? Dr. Brix and Dr. Fauci told us over and over that we could slow the spread by doing what every other country did to contain the virus. We would have done it too if you had modeled that behavior, stopped pretending there was magic in the air and promoted truth.

Oh, right, the vaccine trial of one of the leading candidates has stopped in order to assess why someone developed a very bad side effect. There will be no magic vaccine by November 3, and you know it! It’s time to be honest with the American People. Try and remember it’s about us, not you.


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Dear Mr. President – September 8, 2020

September 8, 2020

Dear Mr. President,I really need your advice today because it was hard to fall asleep last night. Several news articles from the weekend kept me up, worrying, fretting, asking questions. You always have the answers to my questions about the news. The answers are either the news is fake or full of lies or you are being horribly mistreated. Sometimes those answers work but sometimes they don’t. Anyhow, here are my questions and I really hope to hear back from you, so tonight’s sleep starts before 2:30 a.m.

The first question has to do with antisemitism and the rising numbers of hate crimes, videos and vicious statements. As a Jew, it is not possible to say, “it couldn’t happen here”. It’s just not possible. Yet, every day there are reports of graffiti, vandalism, fires and increased hate speech in this country! Some of these acts seem to be part of the overall atmosphere of anger and hate that you are using for political purposes. I know they work, and I know there are many Jews who see you as a “savior” of sorts. However, I think your speech and acts actually promote this kind of hate. According to the New York Times report by Katrin Bennhold, you have become a “cult figure in Germany’s increasingly varied far-right scene.” So, my question for you is are you doing this on purpose?

You have said that a Biden administration will cause this violence and hatred, but this is your administration and the violence and hate speech have dramatically increased over the past four years. Do you have a plan for reversing this trend?

The second thought that kept me up last night has to do with your remarks about the military leadership in this country. The Atlantic article was bad enough, but you have actually made it worse by disparaging (dissing) the leadership of the US military. You accused them of wanting to fight wars so “all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy”. You basically accused them of trying to make money instead of protecting and leading troops. That just doesn’t seem right. Don’t you remember that it is Congress that declares war? Didn’t you use Executive Orders to start military missions like killing Qasam Souleimaini? And, aren’t you the one bragging about how much money you got for the military for “those wonderful companies to make bombs and planes and everything else”? Did you know that the military leaders have to submit their tax returns every year and it is illegal for them to have stock in these “wonderful companies”? So, my question for you is, when will we see your taxes?

Dear Mr. President – September 4, 2020

September 4, 2020

Dear Mr. President,This will be a short note to let you know how much I’m thinking about you.It’s almost Shabbat and I still want to make some coleslaw to go with the New England Baked Haddock from a website named It’s written by Elizabeth Lindemann. I think it is very important to give credit to the website. It’s a bit like real journalists having several sources on a story. Did you know that the standard for the media is at least two sources and often three or more before the piece is printed? If the piece were fiction, not fact, there wouldn’t be any sources. The piece in the Atlantic magazine has a number of sources and more people who have heard you say what you said are also coming out with their stories. You don’t often need or follow my advice, but I give it freely. If you are nervous about injuries or guilt ridden about not serving in Vietnam, or even scared of dying, it’s okay. Many people share those emotions. If you admitted to having those feelings, many others would empathize with you. The problem seems to be that your words dishonor the memories of the “our great military”. They do not appreciate that at all and all the talk about loving them won’t repair this situation. I know you went to Arlington to lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at least once or twice. It would be a good spot to admit your guilt about dissing John McCain and other heroes who were wounded, captured or died in the service of our country.

You still seem to be struggling with the polls and it’s probably a huge source of worry and frustration. Don’t worry too much. There are many people on your side because they like how you talk about the economy. Others really think you care about them because you call them great, like the great farmers, the great police, the great coal miners, etc. Yes, some don’t believe you are really on their side and that it’s all talk. Even people who don’t like you still support all kinds of people because they think all humans deserve respect, honor and a fair shot at a decent life. None of us to need to call names, denigrate others or accuse people of not loving this country. Don’t be afraid to admit there are plenty of problems that need to be addressed and you know what they are. What happened to your vision for America that doesn’t look like Civil War? Can you conjure up a picture in your mind where people work together to solve problems, or to share ideas of different approaches to solving the problems, or even to smile at one another and wish each other well?Shabbat Shalom, have a peaceful weekend. Reflect on what I suggest. Play some golf.