Human Spirit: When Bubbe and Zayde write back
Nov, 09, 2012
Sofer , THE JERUSALEM POST
‘Call Your Zayde’
is a satiric political video that made its way around the Internet in
the final days before elections.
Parodying Carly Rae Jepsen’s recent musical hit, “Call Me Maybe,” curly-haired
granddaughter Michele gets on the phone to convince her grandparents in
south Florida to make sure they'll vote for Barack Obama.
She turns Grandpa from undecided into an activist for the Democrats. Even
a few liberal sites were uncomfortable with the amount of Yiddish used.
Here’s the email I’d expect her grandmother to send her after the call.
My Dearest Einikel,
As always, I was delighted to hear your voice on the phone. Any chance
we could turn this into a regular event? Since the presidential election
is now over, we don’t have to discuss our voting choices. But I’ve been
thinking of your call and I want to share a few thoughts with you, I realize
that your calling us was a return to a program that was dubbed in the
2008 election “the Great Schlep.” Back then, at our retirement village,
when we read that 200,000 young people had downloaded talking points to
address their grandparents, we were excited. We spruced up our guests
rooms way ahead of intercession, expecting a flow of grandkids. We, too,
downloaded the talking points so that we could be prepared for dialogue.
After all, we were political activists ourselves in the ’60s and were
glad to hear our genes had been expressed in you – even if they’d skipped
Among ourselves, we thought it was chutzpadik of you to think you might
inform us about what would be in our selfinterest.
We are, after all, men and women experienced enough in the affairs of
the world to have overcome our own economic challenges so that we could
fund your college education. But we remembered with nostalgia the audacity
of our own youth, the arguments we had with our parents and our certainty
that we would change the world for the better. So we were ready for you
to bring it on.
Unhappily, the so-called Great Schlep turned into the Great Disappointment.
Fewer than 100 young folks actually came down to Florida. Most of those
who did come found that their grandparents were devoted Democratic votes.
They’d bonded with the party back when JFK (that’s John Fitzgerald Kennedy,
the 35th president) spoke of “a time for greatness.”
Here’s a little tip for you from your Zayde and Bubbe from our political
days: Downloading isn’t political activism. Clicking “like” on Facebook
isn’t political activism.
You still have to get out there and stump, ring the bells of strangers,
risk having dogs unleashed on you and doors slammed in your face.
The videos created by the Schlep Lab of the Jewish Council for Education
and Research (what an amazing name) have been shared endlessly by our
friends on Facebook. At the risk of you concluding that your Bubbe doesn’t
have a sense of humor (an old charge aimed at feminists like me), I was
offended by the suggestion in the original Schlep video that we would
choose our candidate by the color of his or her skin. Have you forgotten
that Zayde and I met on a Freedom Ride to Alabama as part of the Civil
Rights movement? Nearly everyone on our bus was Jewish. Singing on the
bus late into the night, when we ran out of songs like Let My People Go,
we segued into Passover songs. When Zayde and I say we fell in love over
Had Gadya, we don’t mean at a Seder. Uncle Mickey is named after martyred
(Google him, Schermer, Chaney, Goodman, Mississippi, 1964.) His father
was a sheitel-maker.
“We’re all the same inside,” preaches that mischievous Sarah Silverman.
But, my dear granddaughter, as you took the trouble to remind us in your
phone call, Zayde and I were born in Poland. We met on the Freedom Ride,
but our parents met in a DP camp. Our concern about the fragility of the
Jewish world may be – with all due respect to your beautiful idealism
– less rose-colored than yours. What’s good for the Jews and what’s good
for Israel will always be central for us. Speaking of which, we are delighted
that all those Jewish summer camps we insisted you attend had sticking
power. We liked the easy way you, Michele, use the expressions “lashon
hara” and “neshama.” But darling, when you call someone a liar, that is
lashon hara. And take it from some old politicos, neshamas don’t choose
politics. The only sweet, soft soul out there in a political campaign
is you, sweet girl.
I’m sure you’ll think I’m crotchety because I objected to the attempts
to scare us. The implication that you might skip your annual winter visit
to sunny Florida to punish us for us making up our minds about who to
vote for was hurtful back in 2008. Your recent concern that the Republicans
would take away Medicare was touching but misplaced. Let me assure you
that the crowd we hang out with is knowledgeable about Medicare. Threats
have always made us ornery. When you do come down next time, we’ll show
you the scrapbook from the scraps we’ve gotten into – not only on the
Freedom Ride, but protesting the Vietnam War, demonstrating for Soviet
Jewry and wearing gas masks on a solidarity mission during the Gulf War.
Don’t think our hearing aids were turned off when we didn’t react to your
announcement that Shira is more than a roommate to you. Sometimes it’s
better not to answer right away. We’d be lying if we said that your news
made us joyful, but we were relieved to hear that with a name like Shira,
she might have an Israeli connection. If you are planning to experience
the joy of children in anything but the usual way, you might consider
moving to Israel, where such procedures are largely covered by health
insurance. The Israelis are No. 1 in IVF, not just IDF. Did you know that
Sarah Silverman’s brother-in-law has started solar fields, green energy
on a kibbutz in the Negev? Since the election is over we’d be proud if
you and Shira used your own energy and courage to stand up for Israel
on your campus.
We might even schlep north to help you.
Love, Bubbe P.S. Zayde doesn’t eat bagels and lox anymore. He’s turned