... A Bittersweet Day
For Jewish Mothers

Tuesday, August 8, 2000 - New York Post

My mother would never have believed it, unless I were the pick for vice president. In which case she'd have shrugged and said, "Why not President?"

But any other Jew and mom would have told me to stay out of Gallagher's, I'm drinking too much.

If you're thinking that was the old days, that today anti-Semitism is only for fringe bigots and lunatics, you're probably a gentile.

Because in my travels during the last few months, when the idea of a Jewish vice president began surfacing, every Jew I knew scoffed at the idea. And like me, every Jew I know was surprised when Vice President Gore tapped Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut yesterday for the heartbeat seat.

I speak to more Jews a day than Gallup and CNN poll in a year, and they span the spectrum from Wall Street to the little shul on my corner.

Of course, anti-Semitism ain't what it was when my mother was a girl, and less than it was even from when she passed a few years ago. But my generation, which has seen unparalleled success and acceptance for Jews and is anything but paranoid about its status, has its heart a little bit in the ghetto when it comes to a Jew this close to the Oval Office.

Until George W. Bush made Dick Cheney his running mate, Jews without question accepted the idea that he would pick Colin Powell. I would kid them at the Yale Club, where they sit at Jerry Finkelstein's round table, with this: "How far have we made it when a black man is everybody's consensus choice, and a Jew is out of the question?"

When I couldn't get an answer, I threw in my own. "We reject Jesus." Every Jew at the table nodded. But a couple of gentiles said, "That's ridiculous. Christians don't make that a litmus test. We have gone beyond that kind of thinking."

I hope so. All my life as a Jew I hoped that the Prince of Peace, who was a Jew, would make the hearts of his believers love us as He did.

The election may or may not tell us the answer. Even if Gore-Lieberman succeeds, will it be good or bad for the Jews?

Bonesy Rachels, my Jersey connection, puts it as follows: "It depends on whether Lieberman is Abe Preiskal or Julius Cinamon." We are talking Passaic, N.J., where me and Bonesy grew up.

The first Jewish mayor of our town was Preiskal, who refused to appoint Jews to city government on the ground that it would upset the goyim.

Later, in 1939, Cinamon was elected police commissioner. He put Jews everywhere in the department. So Bonesy on Joe Lieberman wants to know whether he's Abe or Julius.

The record of Lieberman in the Senate does not make him Abe or Julius, but if you had to bet, he's 7-5 Abe. Lieberman has been cautious at best on the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks - he hasn't said a word since Camp David - and on every crucial issue he has kept his mouth shut, except on the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, where he acts as the lead to keep Pollard on ice forever.

The big thing is, will they love Joe in November as they say they do in August? It doesn't rhyme, but it's kosher, and my mom roots for him, even as she knows that if it had to be a Jew it shoulda been me.

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