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Putnam Past

Letters to the Editor

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Letters to the Editor

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Dudley responds to concerned reader

Dear Rabbi Gerson,

My purpose in writing last week’s column, ‘Israel, Big El and the Crusades’, was to entertain, and to convince my wife and my in-laws to cancel their upcoming trip to Israel. Rather than shout at them about the folly of travelling to that part of the world, I hoped to use the humor of the column to soften my pitch. I realize that Israel and, by extension, most Jewish people don’t want anyone to think it’s dangerous to visit their beautiful country. After all, tourism is Israel’s third largest industry and represents a significant contribution to its GDP. They need the foreign exchange. But Israel is a dangerous place, and even if I never read or watched the news, I’d know to steer clear. How do I know that? I’ve seen their neighbors.

Regardless, I thank you for your letter. I always appreciate hearing from folks who read “The Loose Caboose.” Even though I’ve been writing this column since 2002, I suspect that you are a first-time reader. Else you would KNOW that I was, as you say, “trying to be funny.” It is, after all, a humor column.

That does not mean that what I write is funny to everyone, as evidenced by your letter. Oh, and in fairness to your position, Rabbi Gerson, I must admit that I have heard from five other unbridled readers who have written or spoken to me in support your position. One is even my own minister, whose gift to our church is his Rachmaninoff Reach. The other is my wife, Big El, but don’t let that encourage you, Rabbi; she never agrees with me.

But I digress… In your letter, you write that my column had “words about Israel [that] were offensive and, indeed, misguided.” In a sense of fairness, and as a believer in “truth and justice in the American way,” I try to be conscious of the felling of those who might take offense at what I think is funny -- and then I go right ahead and write what I want.

So let me explain--to all six of you-- why you are wrong. (Humor, Rabbi Gerson, humor)

To your point, I suppose it is remotely possible that some sensitive travel agent or Israeli tour guide might conceivably take “offense” at my description of Israel as “a flea infested desert.” And all six of you correctly point out that Israel is not JUUUST “a flea infested desert.” It is much more. Israel has beautiful lakes, mountains, modern beautiful cities like Tel Aviv, a sacred desert and eight beautiful beaches. Meh, you do realize, those beaches are made out of the same stuff as the desert, right? Well, except for the fleas. And if you don’t believe the desert, which covers over 60% of Israel, is flea infested, ask the camels.

Finally, I did not ask our President to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby causing Palestinians to AGAIN send rockets into Israel in protest. This seems a recurring, if not constant, theme for Israel and is a danger I wish my family would avoid. Let me assure you, Rabbi Gerson, it is not my intention to mock Israel or Jerusalem; rather I am mocking the misguided tourists who choose to go there.

Bill Dudley

Moral XXXIV - The Pharmacist


I speak of the Moral of a university level trained Pharmacist (sometimes called a druggist) who worked in one of the few ‘drug stores’ in a remote village once called Anatevka who when asked what motivated her to carefully fill prescriptions or cheerfully offer information on the effects of those drugs replied: “Because I can help reduce the anxiety of many folks who are taking a new or unknown drug – and who need to understand its therapeutic effects, its benefits and possible side effects - in a non-technical way. I also understand that the confidence of a recipient in the druggist’s technical skills must be 100% - as there is no room for any error! I know that I can really help someone who is ill or sick to become better again, to be able to visit with neighbors, play with their children or grandchildren or go back to their job.” And so the Moral of the skilled and understanding Pharmacist who helped all those who needed her assistance was recounted among all those residents who live in another remote village named . . . .

The Elder Sage aka Bob Landau