Dewing Things Better, Rosh Hashanah

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Rosh Hashanah lessons; the dangers of over-drinking

By Bette Dewing

“Or as Abraham understands God to have told him, ‘heyay beracha’: ‘Be a blessing.’ That is why we are here.” —Rabbi Harvey M. Tattelbaum.

How do we do that? Well, surely by not over-drinking. —Bette Dewing

The above quote once ran in Our Town’s section for multi-faith clergy homilies and prompted my thanking Temple Shaaray Tefila’s then rabbi for his message.

To my request for some “being a blessing” specifics, he replied (in itself a blessing) that saying “thank you, acknowledging another,” was a specific that was too often missing, even in faith communities.

Every Rosh Hashanah eve sundown, I’m heartened to see dozens of Temple Shaaray Tefila members walk by on their way to John Finley Walk where they symbolically throw their sins into the East River. (Did I miss seeing any wheelchairs or walkers used in this year’s procession?)

But there was nothing to inform me on the holiday about the annual outdoor High Holy Day ritual in the “Paper of Record.” Instead, the above-the-fold front-page photo “heralds” Fashion Week in Manhattan opening, showing a bare-shouldered model on the runway. But her head being cropped from the photo made the feminism I embraced cry, “Foul!”

Indeed “foul” it was for a woman to be exploited as a sex object in general back then. Now woe is us that this once assailed sexual persona has become socially acceptable, even mandated.

Being a blessing means to protest, for example, the Times’ priorities and sins of omission because it’s the secular bible of so many movers and shakers. The below-the-fold front page does address the “fringe pastor” threat to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11 and the attendant “media glare.” But nowhere is it asked if the First Amendment should protect such an abhorrent act, one that threatens the security of American troops and Americans abroad and at home.

A “fringe pastor”? No, a traitor to the faith. The Baptist ministers of my Minnesota youth rightly warned against drunkenness from which all manner and degree of anti-social behaviors could derive.

Unlike tobacco and obesity, today’s big secular no-nos, alcohol deadens the brain’s judgment center (and kills brain cells!). And while alcohol-caused traffic crimes are punished (somewhat), the alcohol factor gets a pass in the weekend murders and other mayhem including domestic violence, mainly reported in the Daily News and the Post.

Slighted was alcohol’s role in the flight attendant’s headlined unorthodox, endangering airplane exit. Reviews of Tony Blair’s bestseller soft pedal his over-drinking regrets. Media downplay Michael Douglas’s confession that drinking, as well as smoking, contributed to his throat cancer, and some of his surely regretted behavior. And indeed, my greatest regret is ever having had “one too many.”

In a NY1 talk program, host and Times columnist, Clyde Haberman, seemed unperturbed by the Nocturalist columnist stating that the reported heavy drinking preceding the accidental falling death of the 17-year-old diplomat’s daughter only briefly spiked under-age-drinking crackdowns.

There could be no greater blessing than for the grieving mother and father to start a real movement against under-age, and over-drinking in general, including reviving the underused intervention process.

Over-drinking’s a frequent factor in the number one grievance to 311: more than 127,000 of them were called in this year against noisy neighbors, reports a must-read Aug. 27 Daily News “Noisy Neighbor” feature. A quiet neighbor is not just a blessing, but also an absolute must. But the city’s noise code has yet to include the countless that obviously are not. (To be continued.)

Whew! Time for some Big Apple smiling, and in faith groups (and schools!)—but not at wrongdoers. They need to be “outed” to give us more reason to smile—be a blessing—“why we are here.”

dewingbetter@aol.com

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