Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm a Mensch!

Check this article out. Mentioned by the editor of the Jewish Journal - top ten mensch in L.A! Pretty sweet honor right?

Click Here:

Brave + mensch = ?

By Rob Eshman, Editor-in-Chief



Three years ago, we were sitting around our offices dreaming up an end-of-the-year issue, inundated with examples from other magazines: The Ten Best Movies, The Ten Richest Angelenos, The Ten Most Powerful Hollywood Players, The Ten Top Restaurants, The Ten Hottest Bars and et cetera.

Since these lists are both celebration and statement, we decided we wanted to promote something a little different. What if a list championed a Jewish value, not people, things or bars (not that there's anything wrong with them....)?

Thus was born The Mensch List -- a roster that, humans being human, is far more difficult to crack than one tabulating power or wealth or even cool.

But this year, after we made the list, I -- in the spirit of some holiday -- checked it twice. And there are four people missing.

These are people I've come across in 2007 who didn't make this list but who deserve some special notice of their own. That's because they are not only mensches, they are also remarkably courageous.

Funny that the Yiddish adjectives that mean "strong" and "brave" never made the jump into the modern Jewish vernacular. Somehow, schnorrer and shmendrick and ferklempt remained near and dear to our tongues, but mutik and bahartst are no more a part of our lives than Benny Leonard or Kingfish Levinsky. When great Jewish prizefighters like these went down for the count, so did the words their fans used to praise them. That leaves shtarker. But shtarker has baggage that mensch doesn't begin to carry.

I'm no Yiddishist, but to my ears, the word has always been said with a wink, the speaker already knowing that strength and health, no matter how abundant, are fleeting. To this day, when I drop my son off at a teen party, my last words aren't "Be a shtarker!" but "Be a mensch."

So I don't know what neologism will suffice for someone who is both extraordinarily brave and a mensch to boot. What word describes those Jews and non-Jews who risk their lives to stand up for the things we all believe in? This year, I found four, and I suppose their names will suffice:

Benji Davis and David Landau

These two young men packed up this year and left their comfortable lives in Los Angeles and moved to Sderot, the beleaguered Israeli town under near-constant bombardment by Qassam rockets launched by Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Davis is a college student from Beverly Hills volunteering at an elementary school in Sderot -- there is a charmingly awkward YouTube video of him trying to folkdance with his young charges -- and at the Sderot Media Center, which tries to raise awareness of what Israelis within the Green Line are faced with every day.

"Sderot's residents deserve protection," Davis writes on his blog, 90210tosderot.blogspot.com. "Sderot's children deserve some sense of normalcy. Sderot deserves our help.

"We can protect Sderot from the terrorists -- it's up to you."

Landau is 19. When I asked his father, Fred, why his son moved -- of all places -- to within two miles of Gaza, he said, very matter-of-factly, without a hint of boastfulness, "Because he's a Zionist." Many of Sderot's own residents have moved away, the Israeli government has for a year now struggled to come up with a response to the Qassams, Jews from Tel Aviv to Tarzana have gone about their normal lives, but Davis and Landau have chosen to risk their lives to remind us that, no, not all is milk and honey.

They're on my list.


--The article continues with some other menches...but that's good enough.

No comments: