Monday, June 29, 2009

American Justice?

I used to feel good about our justice system. It seemed it used to be the best in the world as far as having a level playing field for those who have been charged with a crime. But since Reagan's War on Drugs and Bush's War on Terror, more and more laws are being passed that give almost unlimited power to prosecutors. Laws have been passed out of fear. Some of these laws encroach too heavily on our 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendment rights.

Too often, I hear people say that as long as you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing to fear from these laws. The thing is that far too many people are being caught up in these laws. The three strikes and you're out laws now give the same level of punishment to those who pass bad checks to those who murder.

A law passed two years ago, the Adam Walsh Act, was meant to protect society from sexual predators. It was meant so that no other parents had to go through what Adam Walsh's parents had to go through. The sad thing is because of all the new rules implemented with the Adam Walsh Act, the system is becoming so overloaded that the police can no longer keep track of the true sexual predators.

We see teenagers being charged for child pornography when they take a picture of themselves and email and send it via cell phone to their boyfriend/girlfriend. These kids, if convicted, will have to register as sex offenders for at least ten years.

We see ten year olds having to register as sex offenders for playing doctor with an eight year old.

We see young adults younger than 21 who inadvertently download child pornography, having to register as sex offenders for 10 years or more. Is it justice when 9 child porn photos are found out of hundreds of thousands of files on a person's computer and that person is charged with a felony and will have to register as a sex offender if convicted?

We see 17 year olds having to register as sex offenders after being charged for statutory rape for having sex with their year old boyfriend/girlfriends. Is this justice? Does it really keep us safe? Does it really keep our children safe?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shabbat Shalom!

I'm posting this earlier than usual. Instead of hoping for our President to fail like Limbaugh, or even praying for his death like this 'pastor', why not hope and pray that our country will succeed and the safety of our leaders. There are so much hateful words being spoken, let's tone it down. Hatefulness and anger, we are taught, pushes us away from G-d. If our words are full of hate, how can be thankful for the blessings we have?

There's a lot of craziness going on now and there's a wonderful prayer that is said during Sacharet services:

A Prayer for Our Country

Our G-d and G-d of our ancestors: In this time of national tragedy and sadness, we ask your blessings for our country, for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them the insights of Your Torah, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may once again abide in our midst.

Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony to banish all hatred and bigotry and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions which are the pride and glory of our country.

May this land under Your providence be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom and helping them to fulfill the vision of your prophet: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war any more."

--Based upon "Siddur Sim Shalom"

Shabbat shalom, y'all!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Being Prepared

Today is the start of hurricane season. It will end in November. Mississippi Emergency Management has numerous lists on preparing your home in the event of a hurricane, what to do if you are ordered to evacuate, etc, etc. The CTA will provide transportation for those who need it.

There are so many things that need to be done well before a hurricane or tropical storm threatens. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best is all anyone can do when a hurricane threatens your home.

I've been through Frederick, Elena, and others. Nothing prepared me for the devastation Hurricane Katrina caused. It wiped out sights I've seen most of my life. Being prepared for the nine days without electricity, the month of boiling water, and the problems with phone lines was the easy part.

I and so many others along the Mississippi Gulf Coast were not prepared for the emotional devastation. Even through our tears, we vowed to rebuild better and stronger. In many ways our community is so much stronger. Our communities are adopting SmartCodes so that homes can withstand hurricane force winds. Many are having to elevate their homes 20 feet above ground to meet the new flood elevation requirements.

I made the following video almost a year after Hurricane Katrina hit:

The port containers are long gone from my brother's neighborhood. The place I work has rebuilt with the exception of new offices(I'm sorta of tired of these trailers we've been renting!). The miles upon miles of debris are long gone. There are still many empty spaces. It's take awhile to rebuild 65,000 homes but we're getting the job done.

Thursday, Congregation Beth Israel moved into our new home in Gulfport. For 3 1/2 years, we've been using the meeting hall at Beauvior Methodist Church for our services. Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged our shul in Biloxi.

We danced our Torahs in on Thursday. All of us, were home at last!

Our new shul is capable of withstanding 155 mph winds. It is 12 miles inland. Our plans called for being prepared for the worst. Our hope is for the best.