Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Am I My Sister’s Keeper?…by Robert M. Katzman (written in 2004)


Am I My Sister’s Keeper? 

by Robert M. Katzman Copyright 2004

(First, this note. I am my Father’s son. But he was the son of Eastern European immigrants, people who fled from Jewish genocide in the Russian Czar’s Pale. They were terrified defenseless people. But their son Israel (1912-2000) grew up in the dangerous West Side of Chicago’s gangs in the Thirties who fought with the Polish and Irish gangs to hold their turf. Then three and a half years in the Pacific fighting the Japanese with General MacArthur, getting wounded but determined to stay in the fight. He was NOT a terrified Jew. An American who was very different than his parents, and who transferred that sense of justice and defiance to me in his many stories over my younger years. In many ways, I became an extension of him, of what he believed. Of what his sense of justice was. But I never dreamed that connection would lead to this story. Welcome to my very strange world, but believe it.)

 

In the winter of ’79 I received an unusual call from my father, Israel, who was living at that time in Sherman Oaks, California. My home was just south of Chicago.

My Dad was very distressed, I could hear it in his voice, because my older sister, Bonnie, had called him, in tears, he said because some foreign creep was stalking her at the school where she was a teacher. She was five months pregnant at the time with her first child, and the unnerving situation, my father told me, was only adding to her distress.

(Read on …)

Battle Cry of the Anguished American Immigrant!…by Robert M. Katzman

(Originally posted on July 21, 2008, then reposted March 10, 2017 in frustration after the 2016 election, where insanity began to rule what was once a last best refuge for people seeking a chance to live, to be happy)

 

To me, being an American is an idea.

A concept.

An agreement of equals.

A willingness to tolerate the differences in others.

A celebration of the beauty of cultural diversity.

 

While maybe originally, ours was a government,

Of the Protestants, By the Protestants and For the Protestants”

We’re bigger than that today.  A numerically insignificant People like my own family, Jews, now represent less than 2% of the total American population, but I believe that our Constitution includes me when I read it.  I don’t live in fear, here.

Soon, there will be more Moslems in America than Jews, but I don’t care.  They came here to escape the same killing chaos that brought my family here, as well as looking for a new start and a fair chance to become successful.  I welcome them.  Besides, when the hating is missing, they may remember that we’re linguistic cousins who speak two versions of the same Semitic language, as do the Assyrians, who are Christian Arabs.

(Read on …)

David’s Star…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Depression and Hope,Jewish Themes,Life & Death,My Own Personal Hell,Rage!,Social Policy and Justice — Bob at 9:11 am on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Copyright June 20, 2016

 

Hanging on a thin necklace

Around my neck

It’s always there

A silver star

David’s Star

(Read on …)

I Seek the Praise of Ordinary Men, a 2007 poem of protest against war in Iraq…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Depression and Hope,Friendship & Compassion,Life & Death,Politics,Rage!,Social Policy and Justice — Bob at 8:40 am on Friday, October 24, 2014

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  www.differentslants.com/?p=355

I originally wrote this poem on Friday, April 13, 2007, after interviewing Mike Hecht, the 88-year-old man who wrote the forward to my first book. He was the cantor on Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Repentance) in my temple for forty years, the now sadly extinct B’nai Torah in Highland Park. His job, an honor in Judaism, was to blow the shofar, or ram’s horn to announce the beginning of a new year, every Rosh Hashanah, usually occurring in the fall.  Mike died May 16, 2009, a week after his 90th birthday. I saw him the day before, May 9th, and gave him a birthday card featuring Yoda from Star Wars on the cover with the movie’s theme music playing when he opened the card.  He laughed, as he lay on his bed, and then asked me as I turned to leave him, “But Bob, who is Yoda?” Surprised at the question I paused, thought about how to explain the connection and then said, simply: “Mike, he’s you. Yoda is you.”

That was the last time we spoke.

This is the link to my eulogy for him. I miss him still. http://www.differentslants.com/?p=701

I noticed there was a line in the last part of my description of Mike that seemed to vibrate. I thought about what it meant, what I really was trying to express and that line became the title of the poem. I realized it was a protest against the 2nd Iraq war began by then President Bush and VP Cheney, after false clams that there were weapons of mass destruction there. Years later, Iraq is now disintegrating into three parts.  A new war is now raging there, and the future of the area is unknown.

I also added this part (in 2007) for people to think about:

Today, beginning last night, is Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Take a moment to think about it. Whether you are observant or not, whether you think about Judaism less than a minute a year, would have made no difference to Hitler. Who your grandparents or great-grandparents were, would be enough reason for the Nazis to kill you.

I think about that, and wonder what I would have done, if I were trapped in a situation like that, today.
What would you do today, if you knew then, what you know now?  Maybe the poem will motivate you to action. I hope so.

Robert M. Katzman

(Read on …)

The Outcome of the Unusual Case was Unquestionably Black and White…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Black/White relationships,Cops,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,Rage!,Social Policy and Justice — Bob at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  http://www.differentslants.com/?p=355

First posted August 8, 2007

Second posting July 18, 2012

 

One morning some years ago, near Chicago, I was at a currency exchange where I would go to pay my utility bills. I suppose I could have mailed my payment, but it was faster for me to pay it in person. Besides, the dark-eyed girl working there behind the glass had a great rack on her and she always smiled at me, her blood-red lipstick gleaming on her soft, luscious lips. And when she walked over to punch my account numbers into her machine, I got a global view of all her…assets.

I didn’t mind, she didn’t mind, and the whole day was better for the experience.

So, on this particular day, I was waiting in line to see my favorite cutie. I was on the left side of the small room where she always worked behind the bullet-proof glass, and there was another young guy at the teller down the way from me paying a bill too, with about a four yards between us.

I am white. He was black. I think my sexy teller was Assyrian, but that wasn’t crucial to what followed next, on what seemed to be just another ordinary morning.

It was very quiet with the four us going about our business. Then, another young white guy, about twenty, blonde and thin, maybe five foot eight, walked in the exchange and stood silently behind me. I was almost ready to go, when the chime on the only door to the place clanged loudly as the door was suddenly shoved open and three adorable, very young black children scampered into the room, followed by a short, hesitant, and thin to the point of appearing to be nearly anorexic, man of about thirty or so. The kids were full of energy and called the petite man “Dad.”

Then, to my disbelieving eyes an enormous blob of a woman ended this little parade. She was close to six feet tall, and for lack of a more accurate description, the woman most closely resembled the evil Jabba, The Hut character from the Star Wars movie.

(Read on …)

Israel:Join the Syrian Rebellion. Now, While the World Watches & Does Nothing!…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Jewish Themes,Politics,Social Policy and Justice,Syrian Murder — Bob at 2:53 pm on Wednesday, March 7, 2012

© March 7, 2012

 The World talks and a Syrian Dies.

Israel, it could be you.  It has been you, at another time and another place.

Have you forgotten the despair, the injustice, the indifference, and the outrageousness of others turning away?

Who are you, as a nation, as a people, to allow this to happen to anyone else?

Israel, and yes, Jews: Take a stand.

Help the Syrians. 

Stop the killing of innocents.

 

But who am I?

Why give a damn what I think?

I’m not a diplomat.

Not a politician.

Not influential or wealthy.

Just a guy.

 

But also, long ago, a street fighter and always a Jew.

A person who has been outnumbered, overwhelmed and beaten badly while others stood by.

A person who fought back against crazy odds and won.

But also, a person whose life was saved from a mob by a man with a gun.  A cop.

Not a friend, but someone who was one against thirty in 1982 in Hyde Park.

He didn’t deliberate the risk while I was mauled or killed.  He acted.

He took a chance, took my side and I’m still here, and grateful.

Somehow, today, I feel like a Syrian.

And God help me, I hate a stacked deck.

(Read on …)

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