A Christmas Zamir

Jewish ghosts get no respect. Not like the Ghosts of Christmas past present and future – they do great business this time of year. We maybe catch a movie and eat Chinese.
Though for us this week is little more than a break from work or school, it’s nice to slow down and reflect – especially if you’re one of the many who doesn’t really observe Shabbat. So I took a moment and looked up some fellow ghosts, and given they had little else to do, they were glad to forward some messages:

Happy Chanukah

Before you head off to parties, driedels, gifts and gelt, allow me to extend to you all best wishes this Chanukah. And between the fun and celebration, perhaps you might pause to reflect on the words of this song by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame:
Peter Yarrow- ©1983 Silver Dawn Music ASCAP
Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn’t die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker’s time is at hand
Don’t let the light go out!
It’s lasted for so many years!
Don’t let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts
What is the memory that’s valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What’s the commitment to those who have died
That we cry out they’ve not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail
This is the burden, this is the promise
This is why we will not fail!
Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!
Don’t let the light go out!

One Voice

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Martin Niemöller
It is so easy to remain silent. It is easy to accept small changes. It is easy to justify small nicks in principle, just as our nation has quietly accepted that long time rights such as habeas corpus, or not having conversations monitored without court order do not matter, as long as the person in question is accused of terrorism. It’s easy to say that “they” are good people, so of course what they do is justified.
We are a nation losing the war on terror, because we are terrorized. We are a nation that proclaims freedom even as we dribble away our rights to well meaning government officials in the name of safety. We are a nation that has sent nearly 3000 of our troops to be killed and 22,000 wounded, with virtually no sacrifice by any American not part of the military or a military family.
Ah, I am morose tonight. It happens.
I am but one small voice. And my words but whispers of a spirit; advocate of principles and ideals long held as faith, even if not often fully manifested.
But I am not alone. Other spirits speak as well, and perchance one may speak to you, the reader.
The problem of freedom in America is that of maintaining a competition of ideas, and you do not achieve that by silencing one brand of idea.
Max Lerner
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficient. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
Louis D. Brandeis
It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate. There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion, no limits on thought. No subject must be taboo. No censor must preside at our assemblies.
William O. Douglas  
The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth.
William O. Douglas

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.
John Milton

Liberty of thought means liberty to communicate one’s thought.
Salvador de Madariaga
Fear of corrupting the mind of the younger generation is the loftiest form of cowardice.
Holbrook Jackson
If the press is not free, if speech is not independent and untrammeled, if the mind is shackled or made impotent through fear, it makes no difference under what form of government you live, you are a subject and not a citizen.
William E. Borah
And finally:
In America – as elsewhere – free speech is confined to the dead.
Mark Twain
Good thing I’m a ghost. Good evening Mr. Clemens

Is Your Chapter/Region a GM or a Toyota?

Sit down and get comfortable. This is going to take a while. But trust me – it’s going to be worth it.
GM, or General Motors, was the largest car company in the world. They have one car in the top 11 in terms of quality (JD Powers). They lost 10.5 billion dollars last year.
Toyota is the largest car company in the world. They have 7 of the top 11 cars in terms of quality (including Lexus). They made 11.8 billion dollars last year.
Why is this?

  • Are Japanese smarter than Americans? No.
  • Do they work harder? No (many of those Toyotas are made by American workers in Toyota plans here in the U.S.).

So what is it?
One of the major reasons is simple: Management and Corporate culture.
What does this have to do with BBYO? After all, you’re not exactly in the car business, right?
Your chapter, your region and BBYO Inc. are organizations – groups of people who come together in an organized manner for a purpose.
Like any organization, its ability to accomplish that purpose depends on its internal management, organization and culture. The better your management and culture, the more likely your organization will succeed in its goals.
Today I’m going to show you where GM went wrong and where Toyota went right – and exactly how you can apply those lessons to BBYO. Some of what you read here will probably surprise you.