Over lunch, I engaged David Komar of Phoenixville, Pa on why he's a loyal supporter of Republican candidate Donald Trump for President of the United States. "[He's] a successful man, knows a lot of people around the world. I think he's been a good sparring partner with the candidates he's had so far to date and I think that says it all." Komar went on to deflect criticism of the candidate and added that we shouldn't hate Trump because he's got billions of dollars. "Like him because maybe that would spread." Watch video here.
Bernie Sanders has his ardent supporters, too. An 88 year old supporters Bernie Sanders based on his free college plan and opposition to the Iraq war. Watch video here. And a young African American woman sings "Speak Dirty Bernie to Me." Watch video here.
Your correspondent was staying with an old Quaker friend in Maine and her 11 year old grandson came over one evening for an overnight visit.
The grandson had decided to learn Yiddish, the language spoken by the characters in Art Spiegelman's graphic Holocaust family memoir "Maus" after reading and becoming intrigued by the narrative. (Yiddish, an amalgam of German, Hebrew and Aramaic used by the Jews of Eastern Europe and Russia since before the 12th century suffered a serious decline with the near extermination of its speakers during World War II.)
So I eagerly introduced the grandson to some choice Yiddish expressions I learned from my grandparents and the next morning I wrote him a letter incorporating those words in context. I suggested he read the letter aloud to Grandmom for practice and they indulged me in letting me video them.
Your correspondent interviewed candidates and poll workers at the Grace Epiphany Church polling site in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, home to 3 voting divisions. Video playlist here.
Juvenile Court Master now Judicial candidate Betsy Wahl has the support of some kids who she has helped straighten out their lives after landing in juvenile delinquency court.
Eric Dickerson earned $100 for working the polls in three separate locations for successfuly Democratic primary Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney. Dickerson, who spent 22 years in jail lives in a recovery house and through research, which he learned to do in prison, believes Kenney is supportive of recovery houses to address the city's drug problem. Kenney faces an insignificant challenge from Republican Melissa Bailey in the fall general elections.
In the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia on primary election day, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, campaign pollworkers, who appear to outnumber those who have come to vote, make pitches for their candidates and hand out palm cards. Candidates are running for Philadelphia Mayor, Philadelphia City Council and Judges on Pennsylvania trial courts and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Watch video here.
Candidate for Philadelphia Mayor in Democratic primary criticizes outside money in election. May 19, 2015. Watch video here.
Dee Servance was canvassing door-to-door on a bitter cold winter night to raise support for a paid sick leave bill in Philadelphia. As it is now, low paid workers who get sick have to miss out on needed pay or come in to work sick, neither of which is good for anyone. The bill is before Philadelphia City Council and now that members are up for re-election, Servance’s organization, Working Families, which has worked on getting the minimum wage raised and on Pennsylvania Governor-elect Tom Wolf’s successful campaign, is urging citizens to call city council members who have not yet come on board, to support the bill. The bill would require employers with 10 or more employees to allow employees to accrue one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Watch video here.
Michael Galganski is the founder of the Free Dominion Political Party. At the Philadelphia 12th Democratic Party Ward meeting on October 2, 2014, he announced he is running for the Philadelphia 8th district city council seat in 2015. Galganski describes his party’s philosophy as “dignitarian” and his platform calls for abolishing taxes and returning the economy to a gold standard. About other members of the party, he says there is a woman he met online from Strawberry Mansion who is now the party’s secretary and a likely candidate for office herself. Galganski’s Facebook page:
Andrew, a Scotsman who has been out of the country for the past few years, says he probably would have voted in favor of independence from Great Britain in the recent referendum were he home to vote. In hindsight, with the vote split 55 to 45% against independence, he thinks that it’s best that Scotland is not independent just yet because if the vote were reversed with 55% in favor of independence, he does not believe that would be enough of a consensus. Watch video interview here.
Family members chanted outside the Presidential Palace in Quito, Ecuador calling on the government and President Rafael Correa to take action in locating loved ones who have been disappeared. (Kidnappers have been reported to force their victims into the sex trade or hold them for ransom) Watch video here.
Victoria Carrillo solicits memberships and petition signatures door-to-door in Chestnut Hill for the Clean Air Council of Philadelphia. The long established organization advocates for recyclling, bike trails, fracking restrictions and such to combat air pollution and its serious effects like widespread childhood asthma. Watch video interview here.
While tying up bags of compost at the Henry Got Crops farm in Roxborough, Raisa Williams, a retired dean at Haverford College, recounted how she was one of fourteen thousand Cuban children brought to the United States in 1960 as part of “Operation Pedro Pan.” Although her mother had been a staunch supporter of the Cuban revolution, things began to change. Amid rumors that she might not be able to stay in school unless she complied with a government requirement to be sent somewhere summer- long to perform community service, Williams’ parents opted for the 14 year old Raisa and her 11 year old sister, to come to the States through the Peter Pan program of Catholic Charities in conjunction with the U. S. State Department. Once here, the girls would be able to apply for visas for their parents.
What she thought would be a couple months separated from her parents, stretched out to two years. For a young girl, this was an adventure and she was relatively content at a camp in Florida where she studied English and other subjects. But when it became overcrowded, she was transferred to an orphanage in Pottsville, PA. “The orphanage was – an orphanage.”
And Cuba? “I love the place. The people have suffered enough. It’s no fun to be in a dictatorship for the last 50 years. You can’t talk. You can’t say anything. But when I was there in 2011, people were beginning to be very vocal about things.”
“Lo que me estrano de Cuba es sol, la calidad de la persona, el modo que son simpatico…la musica….” She hopes to live there again one day.
It appeared that Rabbi Yitzchok Gurevitz’s faith in the accuracy of the weather forecast was rewarded last evening. Skies cleared just before the public lighting of a large Hanukah menorah at 6:30 pm on a grassy area beside Chestnut Hill Plaza at the bottom Germantown Avenue above Cresheim Drive.
Twenty some people such as Norm and Leah Schwartz of Mount Airy who brought their granddaughter, braved the near freezing temperatures and driving winds which had blown out the afternoon’s rain and sleet, to celebrate the first night of Hanukah. As Gurevitz, leader of Chabad-Lubavitch of Northwest Philadelphia, lit an oil wick candle, they sang prayers to mark the beginning of the eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the successful revolt of the Jews against the Syrian king Antiochus in 165 BCE in Judea and the rededication of the Temple that had been desecrated at his orders.
Hanukah is a special holiday, Gurevitz explained, because Jews are called upon to observe it not just in the home but outside with the community at large. (In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court got involved in the national Chabad movement practice of lighting menorahs in public places made controversial by the constitutional mandate of separation of church and state, when it allowed a public display in Fountain Square, Cincinnati)
Referring to the case, Gurevitz emphasized the menorah as a symbol of freedom for all people and interprets the freedom message at a personal level- “the freedom to be the best that we can be, the freedom to be the most we can be.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, a celebrant placed a large boom box atop his car parked in the adjoining driveway and broadcast festive Chanukah music as those gathered huddled against the cold, schmoozed, and enjoyed latkes (traditional potato pancakes) with hot cider.
For the next week, one additional electric candle will be lit every day in reenactment of the Chanukah story that oil found in the reclaimed Temple, sufficient for only one day, miraculously lasted eight days. Electric current is coming courtesy of Yu Hsiang Garden restaurant next door.