Rubber, or: Glue

My 1st rhyming sestina

Some people don't like the word Jew 
A label that fits me like comfy shoe 
Jews were murdered and made into glue 
Regarded as less than beasts at a zoo 
Blamed for both the plague and the flu 
In the end, though, it's the haters who stew 

Jewish cholent is a magical stew
If you'd like some, just befriend a Jew 
It can cure both COVID and the flu
And when it spills, it won't stain your shoe
Come, let's pack some for a trip to the zoo
Food and family bind us like glue

From true history we cannot unglue
All began with primordial stew
We all got here by way of the zoo
European; African; Jew
Mortality fits us all like a shoe
And we die of the very same flus

There are always new strains of the flu
Viruses to human cell membranes glue
Vaccines help but cannot fully shoe
We are but chunks of meat in this stew
Asian; South American; Jew
Are we destined to live as if in a zoo?

It takes a great deal to get me zooed
I don't suffer much from brown bottle flu
My friends joke that I'm a Russian Jew
I reply that I'm rubber, they're glue
And we laugh over hearty Jew stew
The secret ingredient's sole of shoe

In the heat, men buzzing flies shoo
But not so those beasts at the zoo
Nor are they wont to sit and stew
Every species has its own flu 
DNA is a powerful glue 
Oceanian; North American; Jew 

Some racists claim diplomatic flu
When accused, they stand as if glued
Much abashed by this very proud Jew

Notes

  • My initial intentions in writing this poem were:
    1. Write a sestina that rhymes
    2. Write a poem about antisemitism
  • I deliberately used the word ‘Jew’ as one of the rhyming words; the other five words that rhymed with ‘Jew’ were picked at random.

Wherefore ‘ben Alexander’?

Some basics of Jewish names

Most Jewish people have Jewish names, which they use in religious contexts, although they do not necessarily go by them in public. Some Jewish names like mine (David) are universal enough, but others do not roll off the gentile tongue so easily. Jewish names are typically of Jewish languages: primarily Hebrew, Yiddish, or Ladino.

Of course, as many Jews are secular; non-practicing; or unaffiliated with religious community, their Jewish names are not particularly relevant in their daily or weekly lives. It’s the Jews who somewhat regularly attend synagogue services who are most often called by their Jewish names.

Now, in the traditional religious context, one is not simply known by his/her Jewish first name. One is known as [first name] [son/daughter of] [parent’s name]. For prayers of healing, I would be called David [son of] [mother’s name]. When I am called to make a blessing upon the Torah scroll at the synagogue, I am traditionally called David [son of] [father’s name].

One notable thing regarding my personal Jewish identity is that neither of my parents were assigned specifically Jewish names at birth because they were both born into the militantly secular and institutionally antisemitic USSR; for the most part, Jews in the USSR were inclined to downplay their Jewish identities. My Mama is Svetlana. My Papa was Alexander.


‘ben Alexander’

As an adult, I became religious, and that’s when being called up to make blessings upon the Torah scroll at shul became relevant to me.

At the first, as I was learning the ropes, I was rather self-conscious about being called up as David [son of] Alexander. Nobody else in any of my Jewish communities had such a Jewish name, nor a father with such a Jewish name as Alexander. Being called David [son of] Svetlana would be even more uncommon, but I have never been sick enough to need or request prayers for health – so that situation has yet to arise.

Anyway, my proclivity for Jewish tradition and active involvement in religious Jewish community ultimately caused me to internalize Papa’s name as a significant part of my identity. His name was officially part of my name; and… perhaps you’ve already surmised that the Hebrew for [son of] is [‘ben’].

I am, therefore, the Jew known as David ben Alexander.


‘Alexander’

The Legend of the Gordian Knot

Papa the mathematician launched his educational mathematics website in 1996, shortly after the Internet had made its way into people’s homes around the world. But what to call it?

At the time, we were living on a street called Alexander Road, which amused Papa and somewhat excited his imagination; and he decided to call his website and company ‘Cut the Knot’ after the legend of Alexander the Great and the Gordian Knot. Papa’s vision was to present mathematics as only seemingly impossible to conquer. Much like the Gordian Knot, which Alexander the Great cleverly sliced apart, Papa believed that mathematics riddles all had comprehensible, straightforward solutions.

The name ‘Alexander’ among Eastern Europeans

I’ve come to learn that in Eastern Europe, some non-Jewish names are more common among Jews than others. To the trained ear, such names suggest that their owners could very well be Jewish. Boris, Mark, and Alexander are such names. (Other gentile names generally trigger the opposite assumption… for example: Fyodor, Nikolai, Vasily.)

I never thought to discuss Papa’s name with him, but he would certainly have been sensitive to this cultural nuance.

The name ‘Alexander’ among Jews

I couldn’t tell you exactly when I learned this, but it turns out that the name Alexander is, surprisingly, a Jewish name, even though it is of distinctly Greek origin; and – it entered Jewish culture because of Alexander the Great.

In the Talmud there is a popular Jewish story about an interaction between Alexander the Great and the Jewish High Priest Simeon the Just, in which Alexander bowed down to the Jew (Tractate Yoma 69a):

בעשרים וחמשה [בטבת] יום הר גרזים [הוא] דלא למספד יום שבקשו כותיים את בית אלהינו מאלכסנדרוס מוקדון להחריבו ונתנו להם באו והודיעו את שמעון הצדיק מה עשה לבש בגדי כהונה ונתעטף בבגדי כהונה ומיקירי ישראל עמו ואבוקות של אור בידיהן וכל הלילה הללו הולכים מצד זה והללו הולכים מצד זה עד שעלה עמוד השחר כיון שעלה עמוד השחר אמר להם מי הללו אמרו לו יהודים שמרדו בך כיון שהגיע לאנטיפטרס זרחה חמה ופגעו זה בזה כיון שראה לשמעון הצדיק ירד ממרכבתו והשתחוה לפניו אמרו לו מלך גדול כמותך ישתחוה ליהודי זה אמר להם דמות דיוקנו של זה מנצחת לפני בבית מלחמתי The twenty-fifth of Tebeth is the day of Mount Gerizim, on which no mourning is permitted. It is the day on which the Cutheans demanded the House of our God from Alexander the Macedonian so as to destroy it, and he had given them the permission, whereupon some people came and informed Simeon the Just. What did the latter do? He put on his priestly garments, robed himself in priestly garments, some of the noblemen of Israel went with him carrying fiery torches in their hands, they walked all the night, some walking on one side and others on the other side, until the dawn rose. When the dawn rose he [Alexander] said to them: Who are these [the Samaritans]? They answered: The Jews who rebelled against you. As he reached Antipatris, the sun having shone forth, they met. When he saw Simeon the Just, he descended from his carriage and bowed down before him. They said to him: A great king like yourself should bow down before this Jew? He answered: His image it is which wins for me in all my battles.

In brief, Alexander the Great bowed to the Jewish High Priest because the image of the Priest’s face would appear before him before his battles, leading him to victory when he was on the battlefields. Ultimately, according to legend, Alexander the Great left the Holy Temple in Jerusalem be.

Further adds Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin:

… for memorializing the occasion, [Simeon the Just] suggested… [that] all male [Jewish priests] born that year would be named “Alexander.”

Alexander liked the idea, and the Jews, who were very thankful to Alexander for all that he did for them, including sparing the Holy Temple from destruction, gratefully named their children after him. Thus, the name Alexander forever became a Jewish name.

‘Why Is Alexander a Jewish Name?’ by Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin

I actually have no idea if Papa knew about this Talmudic story, but I get a real kick out of the fact that Papa’s name is, indeed, a Jewish one; and not only that – Papa’s name became a Jewish name because of the same great conqueror who inspired the culmination of Papa’s lifework: ‘Cut the Knot’.


Ben Alexander’ or ‘ben Alexander’

I haven’t made mention of this before, but I actually created this WordPress account in 2012, long before Papa died – long before I became ‘The Skeptic’s Kaddish’. Back then, my blog had a rather uninspired Jewish blog name; and – back then I was blogging anonymously.

I have always enjoyed writing, but it’s only been in the past several years that I’ve felt comfortable enough in my own voice to blog so very publicly about sensitive personal matters under my own name. Back in 2012, I deliberately called myself ‘Ben Alexander’ so that nobody would find me out. I deliberately chose it as my pen name, knowing that most people would parse ‘Ben’ as a common English name. That’s why I capitalized it back when.

Then – in April of 2020 when I was transferring the many posts I had written about reciting kaddish for Papa to this website, I made a seemingly slight change to my handle. I changed the first letter to lower case, rendering myself ‘ben Alexander’, and thereby deemphasizing the ‘Ben’.

Of course, people still continue to assume that my full name is actually ‘Ben Alexander’, but that is okay with me. For those who are curious enough to explore my website and get to know me, I have an ‘about’ page with my full name available therein. I am, as they say, hiding in plain sight.

This version of my name continues to feel so very right and comfortable… I am deeply proud to be known as:

David ben Alexander.

Insane antisemitism

I shouldn’t.

* * *

There are lots of things I enjoy writing about, and antisemitism isn’t one of them… not only because it’s offensive to me, but also because it’s been so foolishly baseless and unchanging at its core throughout the centuries. I find it inane and insulting to my intelligence, but its existence informs my identity; there will always be a risk for me in being true to myself in a public forum.

Actually, I’ve experienced very little antisemitism in my personal life (although it did, of course, color the lives of my parents and grandparents in the USSR).

When I was in fourth or fifth grade, a Turkish boy who had moved to my hometown in central NJ from New Orleans expressed surprise upon learning that I, his new friend, was a Jew. “Where are your horns?” he asked innocently. I was shocked and quite amused, but I wasn’t at all offended, particularly because it was such an absurd idea. Besides, we were living in a region of the United States with a very large Jewish population. The two of us remained friends, and I made fun of him over this incident for years afterwards.

Once, when I was in… eighth or ninth grade, perhaps, a boy of Italian descent standing in front of me in the dessert line at the cafeteria sneered at me, “You’re a Jew, right?” I could tell that his tone was hostile, but he was utterly irrelevant to me and not somebody that I had any regular interaction with (we took different levels of classes). “Yes, I am,” I replied simply, looking him directly in the eyes. The boy smirked rudely and turned away from me – and that was the extent of our exchange.

The last time I can recall possibly having faced mild antisemitism was at a convenience store in Cleveland, OH. A burly African American walked in after me, and, as I was leaving, called out loudly, “Shalom!” Now, this could have been nothing more than an overly familiar form of well-intentioned friendliness, but given his volume and swagger, his abrupt exclamation felt off-putting. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I responded gently, “Shalom to you too,” as I walked out the door.

As a college student, I also recall a couple of instances in which Christians approached me, intending to convert me, but I don’t consider such efforts to be antisemitic.

* * *

I don’t think about antisemitism on a daily or weekly basis, but it does become relevant whenever I make plans to travel outside of Israel because I look very much like a stereotypical Jew with my beard and large yarmulke. I am very proudly Jewish, and I deliberately look the part because looking otherwise feels fake, as if I am attempting to blend in with gentiles. This is how I’ve felt ever since my university years.

A few years ago, we traveled to Switzerland with our daughter, and that was the first time that I ever hesitated upon considering my appearance in a foreign country. Usually, there’s no calculus for me; I’m deliberately visibly Jewish wherever I happen to be, regardless of how others may feel about it. However, traveling to Europe with our then two-year-old, I worried that she could be adversely affected by antisemitism, should it be directed at me. On that particular occasion, I ultimately decided not to hide my identity, even in the company of our toddler, but I may yet decide differently on future family vacations.

Regardless of my decision, I was quite aware of the many looks I got during our stay in Switzerland. People would notice my headpiece and then their gazes would slide down to my face before traveling over to my wife and daughter, neither of whom looked identifiably Jewish. The great majority of such looks were curious, but some were distinctly awkward, and some were distrustful or even unfriendly.

Anyway, that’s life. Antisemitism exists, and it isn’t going anywhere.

As I said, I don’t think too much about it, unless I happen unexpectedly upon it.

* * *

Since launching my blog on WordPress, I’ve searched for likeminded bloggers. I’m interested in poetry, creative writing, humor, parenting, and Jewishly themed websites. It’s been very enjoyable to connect with other writers from around the world.

The other day, I was browsing for Jewishly themed blogs, and I came across a blog, entirely dedicated to antisemitism. Normally, I would simply ignore such a thing, but the author’s delusions drew me in. I couldn’t tear myself away from it.

Firstly, the blog is well written, and it’s clearly written by a very articulate person. After some Internet searching, I also uncovered the author’s corresponding YouTube channel and found a well researched and well formatted video, highlighting many old news accounts, which suggest that Adolf Hitler was a Jew. I also found comments of his on other websites, clearly stating the Jews should be exterminated.

Secondly, the blog is extensive – both in the amount of content and in the insanity of its claims. This is why I am so disturbed. How obsessed must somebody be to write so much about nothing but hatred of others? As a writer, I know it takes effort to produce readable, appealing content… and I can only imagine how many hours of thinking and writing that went into this antisemitism project.

The author, according to his introductory blog post, was banned from Blogger, after a year of activity. He moved his blog over to WordPress, just recently, in mid-September. His explanation:

My previous blog had been active for little more than a year when the Jews deleted it. I didn’t expect it to go down so quickly, but was also not very surprised when it did. The Jews are definitely scared of something, and my blog’s removal is another sign that my writing was doing the right thing.

Then he goes on:

As this site’s description states, this blog was “Created by contempt and intolerance for Jewish corruption. All instances of poverty, language debasement, licentiousness, self-interestedness, dysgenics, drugs, diseases, atheism (in the popular sense), hero-worshiping, fratricide, polygamy, prostitution, incest, homosexuality, sodomy, bestiality, miscegenation, circumcision, criminality, usury, idleness, dishonesty, arrogance, stupidity, rebelliousness, and all other forms of degeneration and corruption can be traced back to the Jews.”

And:

All positions of power and influence in the planet are controlled by Jews. Even if they were smart, no one has been able to refute the claim that the vilest, most morally dearth people in the world belong to the Jewish tribe, and that is most likely the only claim to superiority the Jews can truthfully make. The Jews are continually bragging of their success to the masses, and the truth is for you to see.

And:

Not one Jew on Earth can be trusted. If you do trust even one out of the millions that infest the Earth, you will necessarily suffer the direst of consequences. For those who still believe there are “Good” Jews on this planet, being a Jew means…

That you are okay with stealing, cheating, lying, subverting, manipulating, looting, extorting, and all other negative terms along these subjects.

Being a Jew means you are okay with lying to the public, extortion, committing fraud, blackmail, acts of usury, letting acts of terrorism slide, and corrupting the planet.

Being a Jew means being a supremacist, a parasite, and a deviant lunatic.

The best of mankind want to preserve order and morality in society, to protect the natural order. Lying and deception are the Jews’ primary methods of survival. A Jew can never be reasoned with for that reason!

* * *

The Jewish Problem will only be solved through either the removal of every Jew and every follower and supporter of Jewish ideologies, doctrines, and ideas, or the complete elimination of the upstanding of non-Jews from the Earth… To make things clear, I consider a Jew to be anyone with even the smallest detectable amount of Jewish blood; and a Judeophile to be anyone who is by nature a delinquent, a defective, or a degenerate, or an open supporter or sympathizer of any Jew.

* * *

Upon further reviewing this blog, I found assertions that all of the following are Jews:

  • Adolph Hitler and many other Nazis
  • Joesph Stalin
  • George Orwell
  • Henry Ford
  • Hirohito
  • 22 (possibly 23) of the 45 Presidents of the United States (including the current President)
  • William Shakespeare
  • Alex Jones
  • Pat Buchanan
  • Charlie Sheen
  • David Duke
  • Edward Snowden
  • Glen Beck
  • Jesse Ventura
  • John Kerry
  • Julian Assange
  • Mel Gibson
  • Tom Cruise
  • Nick Clegg
  • Jordan Peterson
  • Marine Le Pen
  • Viktor Orban
  • Mateusz Morawiecki
  • Matteo Salvini
  • Nick Griffin
  • Nigel Farage
  • Ralph Nader
  • Ron Paul
  • Vladimir Putin
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Christopher Hitchens
  • Taylor Swift
  • Peter Stuyvesant
  • Bill Gates
  • And more

* * *

The blogger espouses conspiracy theories such as:

  • Jews Are Behind the New Eugenics Movement
  • “Empathy” is a Jewish term
  • The Single Cause of Problems in the World: Jews
  • The Origin of Trolling on the Internet: Jews
  • The Coronavirus Is a Jewish Lie
  • Russia Is Still in Jewish Control
  • Nothing Is Out of Jewish Reach
  • Most “Rape Victims” Are Jewish
  • Jews Use IQ as a Trick
  • Jews Promote English Usage
  • Jews Enforcing Individualism
  • Jews Behind Tattooism
  • Jews Behind Harry Potter
  • Jews Are Behind the Birth Control Movement
  • Jews Are Behind the Autism Trend
  • Jews – Far More Than Two Percent of the Population
  • Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc., systematically censor or hide information about the Jews’ international crime network, with Jews patrolling the Internet forums and message boards, and with the use of IP Addresses, Web Host Servers and Internet Service Providers
  • Jeffrey Epstein Did Not Commit Suicide
  • Human Selection Technology – a Jewish Scam
  • DNA Is Pseudoscience
  • College Is Jewish Indoctrination
  • Nuclear Weapons are Not Real – a Jewish Conspiracy
  • Jews are not human
  • And more

* * *

Deliberately, I am not linking publicly to this insane, degenerate blog. I don’t want to promote such content. I’ve reported this antisemitic blog to WordPress, and I hope that they act accordingly and remove it, just as Blogger (and Quora) did. If you too would like to contact WordPress in this regard, contact me with your e-mail address and I will send you the link privately (nobody else will see your e-mail address).