Tag Archives: US Air Force

Jew of the Week: Mort Sahl

Father of Stand-Up Comedy

Morton Lyon Sahl (1927-2021) was born in Montreal to an immigrant Jewish family, and grew up in Los Angeles where his father unsuccessfully sought to become a Hollywood writer. As a 15-year old during World War II, Sahl dropped out of high school and joined the US Army by lying about his age. Though the trick didn’t work, Sahl did eventually join the US Air Force. After leaving the military, he earned a degree in urban planning but dropped out of his Master’s program to become an actor and writer. For several years, he struggled to find a gig as a comedian (NBC told him he would never be one!) In the meantime, he worked various odd jobs to make a living, including selling used cars. Eventually, he managed to get hired at the hungry i club in San Francisco for $75 a week. His stand-up show was an instant hit and by the end of the year, he was performing for packed audiences and making $3000 a week. Sahl then travelled extensively to play at various major venues, introducing the art of stand-up (then still new and relatively unknown) to audiences across the country. Instead of being formal and in a suit, reading out a rehearsed performance, Sahl would go on stage in casual dress and a cool attitude, improvising much of the material. He was the first to poke fun at real issues instead of just “reciting punch lines”. For these reasons, Sahl is often called the “father of stand-up comedy”. In 1960, he was featured on the cover of TIME and described as “the best of the New Comedians”. One of Sahl’s biggest fans was President Kennedy, who had Sahl write jokes for him. This was despite the fact that Sahl was primarily a political satirist, and regularly roasted the government (he was once described as “the only real political philosopher” in comedy). He attacked the mainstream media as “spoon-feeding” the public and creating an “ignorance that may sink this country”. After his friend Kennedy’s assassination, Sahl obsessed over finding the perpetrators, and his “dangerous” political messages led to him being blacklisted by nightclubs. Because of this, he was soon mostly forgotten. Sahl was noted for his clean, profanity-free comedy, and his sober image, staying away from cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol. He appeared in over a dozen films and TV shows, and was also the first comedian to record an album, opening the door for countless others to do the same. He was the first comedian to win a Grammy, too. Sahl has been ranked among the greatest comedians of all time by Comedy Central. He inspired an entire generation of future comedians, including Woody Allen, George Carlin, Jon Stewart, Bill Cosby, and Robin Williams. Sadly, Mort Sahl passed away last month.

Chanukah Begins This Sunday Night – Chag Sameach!

Chanukah: From Oppression to Freedom (Video)

Death of Hellenism, Then and Now

Words of the Week

…This generation [of Jews] is making up for it by assimilating and becoming nothing. You know, vanilla ice cream. What I’m trying to say is, if I’m Jewish, then they are a fraud. And if they are Jewish, I don’t want to be that.
– Mort Sahl

Jew of the Week: David Goldfein

Chief of America’s Air Force

General David Goldfein

David Goldfein (b. 1959) was born on an American Air Force base in France, where his father served as an Air Force colonel. Goldfein became a fighter pilot, too, and graduated from the US Air Force Academy with a degree in philosophy. He first saw action in the Gulf War, then served as commander of the 555th Fighter Squadron in the Bosnian War, and during NATO’s Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia. On one mission in 1999, Goldfein’s F-16 was shot down. He ejected on time and parachuted down in a field. Three Serbian soldiers pursued him, but he managed to escape, hiding in a ravine. Goldfein miraculously traversed an area full of mines, before later being rescued from behind enemy lines in a daring operation. All in all, Goldfein logged over 4200 hours of flying time. In 2011, he became a three-star general and was appointed commander of US Air Forces in Southwest Asia. In 2016, now a four-star general, Goldfein was appointed the 21st Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. That made him the highest-ranking official in the Air Force, overseeing half a million airmen, over 5000 aircraft, and hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles. As Chief of Staff, he directly advises the secretary of defense and the president. Goldfein’s primary goal as head of the Air Force was to ensure the US was secure from, and had detailed plans for countering, the “four-plus-one” threat: China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and violent extremist groups around the world. He also focused heavily on nuclear deterrence and preventing a catastrophic world war. Finally, he expanded the Air Force’s capabilities into the realms of cyberwarfare and space, too. It was during his tenure that ISIS was essentially wiped off the map and finally defeated, thanks in large part to the US Air Force. Goldfein has been decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Legion of Merit, Humanitarian Service Medal, and countless other awards. His term as Chief of Staff ends next week.

Words of the Week

Experience shows us that many people imagine false ideas to be absolutely true, and they generally remain firm in their beliefs, refusing to see anything wrong with them.
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (1707-1746), Derekh Tevunot 

Jew of the Week: Hank Greenberg

The Hebrew Hammer

Hank Greenberg - 'The Hebrew Hammer'

Hank Greenberg – ‘The Hebrew Hammer’

Hyman ‘Henry Benjamin’ Greenberg (1911-1986) was born in New York to a Romanian-Jewish family. As a child, he was faced with many physical challenges, including flat feet, a stutter, and lack of coordination. He worked hard to overcome these issues, becoming his high school’s best all-around athlete, especially in basketball. He preferred baseball though, and after a year of university was signed by the Detroit Tigers. At 19, he became the youngest player ever to make the big leagues. He went on to be a 5-time All-Star and 2-time MVP, still holding the American League record for most RBIs in a single season. Not forgetting his heritage, one of his most famous moments was abstaining from playing a critical game because it was scheduled on Yom Kippur. In the midst of his baseball career, World War II began, and Greenberg was the first player to be drafted to the US Army. He was soon released from the military, but that was two days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Greenberg thus re-enlisted – the first Major League player to volunteer – and served for 45 months, the longest of any baseball player. He rose to the rank of First Lieutenant in the US Air Force, fighting in China, Burma, and India. At the end of the war he returned to baseball, still in good form and immediately making the All-Star team. He was later sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who offered him $80,000 so that he wouldn’t retire, making him the highest-paid player of that time period. After retiring, he turned to management and brought great success to several teams, especially the Cleveland Indians. Perhaps most significantly, Greenberg changed the face of the sport, sponsoring more African-Americans than any other baseball executive. In fact, he befriended and supported Jackie Robinson, the very first African-American player in the major leagues. Having experienced severe racism and anti-Semitism of his own, Greenberg worked hard to make the world of sport open and equal to all. A Hall of Famer, Greenberg is still considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

 

Words of the Week

The entire world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be afraid at all.
– Rabbi Nachman of Breslov