Rabbi Capers Funnye of Chicago, a first cousin once removed of Michelle Obama, has been nominated to become what an international organization is calling the first “black chief rabbi” of the 21st century, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.
According to Haaretz, “A statement from the International Israelite Board of Rabbis declared that Funnye would serve as the ‘titular head of a worldwide community of Black Jews.’ Along with the United States, the community has branches in the Caribbean, South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria.”
Funnye, chief rabbi at Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago, Illinois, is expected to officially assume his duties in the fall.
Funnye was born a Christian in 1952 in South Carolina. He converted to Judaism in 1985.
The White House today announced that Dr. Jill Biden will take a week-long tour of Asia to promote girls’ education.
Here’s the statement:
Dr. Jill Biden will travel to the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and Laos on July 16-22, 2015 where she, along with Catherine Russell, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, will engage government and civil society partners on issues related to economic empowerment and educational opportunity for women and girls. Dr. Biden will also travel to Japan on July 22-23 to participate in events as part of her Joining Forces initiative to support service members, veterans, and military families.
This official White House drive to promote girls’ education overseas has created lots of travel opportunities for the wives of the president and the vice president. Mrs. Obama this year has already logged separate excursions to Asia and to Europe – the latter costing at least $600,000 – and is promising more.
The exorbitant security, travel, staff, lodging and other expenses related to these excursions are of course all picked up by taxpayers. While everyone supports expanding learning opportunities for girls, helping non-U.S. citizens overseas get a proper education would not really seem to be such a high priority that it would be worth spending deficit dollars for the first and second lady to address the problem on the scene.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s European trip will cost taxpayers at least $600,000, and probably much more, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.
Mrs. Obama, accompanied by her daughters and her mother, is promoting the vital issues of girls learning and healthy eating in . . . England and Italy. She is also hanging out with Prince Harry and taking in sights like Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting. And she’ll meet with some U.S. troops in Vincenza.
According to the Examiner:
While the White House didn’t provide cost estimates for the week-long visit to London, Milan, Venice, and Vincenza, Italy, the State Department put lodging costs for just a couple nights in Venice at $128,781, according to Free Beacon, and Air Force charges based on a 2012 document for flying her group on past overseas trips indicate that this one will hit $243,000. Those charges alone total $371,781. Add in the still unknown lodging costs in London and Milan, based on the Venice hotel charges, and the price should top $600,000, or about $100,000 a day. And that’s just for taxpayer funded airfare and lodging and doesn’t include security, staff and other transportation and food.
Michelle earlier this year made an similar excursion to Japan and Cambodia.
Just three months after hitting Japan and Cambodia to talk about girls’ education, Mrs. Obama will travel to London to promote the same thing and to attend the Milan Expo 2015, where she will tour the USA Pavilion – “American Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet” – and “participate in activities to lift up efforts to support healthier families and communities,” according to the White House. And she’ll make it to Venice too.
I know that the topic of education in Great Britain has been much on your mind the last several years, as it has mine. FINALLY, the first lady is doing something about it.
From the White House:
As part of the Let Girls Learn initiative and following her recent visits to Japan and Cambodia, the First Lady will visit London where she will meet with students and discuss how the UK and the U.S. are working together to expand access to girls education around the world – supporting adolescent girls in completing their education.
Mrs. Obama will also meet with U.S. military stationed in Vicenza, Italy, which is fine, though undoubtably these are not the service members most in need of the first lady’s care and comfort.
Her mother, Mrs. Marian Robinson, and Malia and Sasha will be along for the trip. No word on if the cousins are coming too, as they have in the past.
You don’t need to be a foxhound to perceive that this smells a lot like a vacation. And a very expensive one for taxpayers, given the security and staff that will be involved. But I gather, with no more elections to be won, that Mrs. Obama figures she can do whatever she wants.
“The First Lady will also visit cultural sites in Venice before returning to Washington, DC,” the White House noted.
Okay, I’m just having some fun here, alright? Leave me alone.
But, uh, you know. If my kid were going to this event, I’d want to know whether we’re taking any precautions . . .
Because the White House put out the notice last night: First Lady Michelle Obama to Harvest the White House Kitchen Garden, Highlight Pollinators
Okay, pollinators. Personally, I’m allergic to certain pollinators, and these delightful creatures do get angry sometimes and turn their attention from the pastoral pursuit of flowers to inflicting venomous stings on human victims.
From the White House:
The First Lady will welcome students from across the country who participate in the ten Let’s Move! sub-initiative programs to harvest the White House Kitchen Garden . . . This garden harvest will highlight the important role of pollinators in the healthy food that we grow and consume. Last year, Mrs. Obama planted a pollinator garden next to the White House Kitchen Garden to support bees, monarch butterflies, and other pollinators as part of Administration efforts to promote pollinator health.
Just as I suspected. They’re trying to spin this as also a butterfly event, but we know “pollinators” means bees.
Pollinators play a critical role in supporting agricultural production, and they are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we take. Because pollinators are facing disturbing signs of decline from a variety of causes, important efforts are underway to support pollinator health and habitat.
Okay, that’s all true. I mean, I can’t say I awaken in the morning fretting about the decline of bees, but I do salute the first lady for addressing the issue. Also, might I suggest, if things plants aren’t being sufficiently pollinated, eating more meat
This year, W. Atlee Burpee & Co. donated one million pollinator seed packets to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior to encourage people to plant pollinator gardens in communities across the country. Nearly 30,000 of these seed packets were distributed to families at this year’s Easter Egg Roll. As well, the newly established National Pollinator Garden Network is launching on Wednesday the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a nationwide call to action to preserve and create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of pollinators.
Well, I thank Mr. Burpee, Mr. Slurpee, and anyone else who is working to solve this problem. Although I have noticed fewer yellow jackets around in recent years, which gives me some comfort that there is less chance I will be stung and suffer a slow, wrenching death as my gills swell and seal off my supply of oxygen. But still, I get that the earth needs bees more than it needs me. So go for it.
So I will say a couple of things about this, from First Lady Michelle Obama’s commencement speech Saturday at Tuskagee University. First, here are her remarks. Or you can watch the video below.
The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me. Because while we’ve come so far, the truth is that those age-old problems are stubborn and they haven’t fully gone away. So there will be times, just like for those Airmen, when you feel like folks look right past you, or they see just a fraction of who you really are.
The world won’t always see you in those caps and gowns. They won’t know how hard you worked and how much you sacrificed to make it to this day — the countless hours you spent studying to get this diploma, the multiple jobs you worked to pay for school, the times you had to drive home and take care of your grandma, the evenings you gave up to volunteer at a food bank or organize a campus fundraiser. They don’t know that part of you.
Instead they will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world. And my husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be. We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives — the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the “help” — and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country.
And I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day — those nagging worries that you’re going to get stopped or pulled over for absolutely no reason; the fear that your job application will be overlooked because of the way your name sounds; the agony of sending your kids to schools that may no longer be separate, but are far from equal; the realization that no matter how far you rise in life, how hard you work to be a good person, a good parent, a good citizen — for some folks, it will never be enough. (Applause.)
And all of that is going to be a heavy burden to carry. It can feel isolating. It can make you feel like your life somehow doesn’t matter — that you’re like the invisible man that Tuskegee grad Ralph Ellison wrote about all those years ago. And as we’ve seen over the past few years, those feelings are real. They’re rooted in decades of structural challenges that have made too many folks feel frustrated and invisible. And those feelings are playing out in communities like Baltimore and Ferguson and so many others across this country. (Applause.)
But, graduates, today, I want to be very clear that those feelings are not an excuse to just throw up our hands and give up. (Applause.) Not an excuse. They are not an excuse to lose hope. To succumb to feelings of despair and anger only means that in the end, we lose.
But here’s the thing — our history provides us with a better story, a better blueprint for how we can win. It teaches us that when we pull ourselves out of those lowest emotional depths, and we channel our frustrations into studying and organizing and banding together — then we can build ourselves and our communities up. We can take on those deep-rooted problems, and together — together — we can overcome anything that stands in our way.
I don’t frankly agree with some of the other commenters I’ve seen on the right, who have made snide points to the effect of, “Poor Mrs. Obama, with her wonderful lifestyle, still complaining.”
People can have beautiful lives and still feel the sting of racism, and certainly have experienced it on the way up. It carves out wounds that never heal, even when you become first lady of the United States.
It’s clear here is that Mrs. Obama, who also last week talked about the alienation black children feel in museums, has decided to jettison the nonracial, less-controversial public image created for her just before and after the Obamas entered the White House in 2008.
Fine. My concern here is that both of the Obamas seem to now be making race a very large focus on their agenda. And this can end up being dangerously divisive.
This country has come a long way on race. Though it took long enough, we have dealt with our racial differences in a far more successful and noble fashion than almost any other society with racial divides. I’m still waiting for the first non-white leader of a European nation, for example.
That there continue to be racial problems is without question. But this is not the chief issue holding African Americans back from their place as full economic and social equals with everyone else in their country.
The main problem used to be white oppression. Now the main problem is from within the black community. A problem, that, in my view, is stoked by liberal economic, social, and cultural policies.
Without sacrificing the things that are sublime about black culture, African Americans need to become more integrated into the general culture. Not that there’s so much that’s great about the general culture these days, but still it has to happen. But the change, abetted by better government policies designed to lift all, has to come from within.
To the extent the Obamas are going to be flagging race on a constant basis, we are going to become more divided. I know this is not their intent. But it will be the result. And it will do nothing to solve the deep, entrenched problems of the inner city.
We need, instead, a message of togetherness.
Now if that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, even after hearing it many times, nothing will.
President Obama returned this week to a subject he has broached several times before, that Mrs. Obama does not receive a salary for her work. “Let me tell you, now, Michelle would point out first ladies get paid nothing,” he said to laughter during a “town hall” gathering Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina. “So there’s clearly… Continue Reading
I don’t know if the program was started to burnish Michelle’s image, but it’s the fourth anniversary of Mrs. Obama’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, which aids veterans and their families with struggles at home, and she’s proven beyond a reasonable doubt her genuine commitment to the cause. If there’s one function of government I can… Continue Reading
Remember when Michelle Obama used to seem kind of mean and didn’t appear to like America very much? Well, today, she’s just a hip, dancing mom who cares about what your kids eat, shops at Target, and wants to help tell our troops, Thank you for your service. Well, that didn’t just happen. The East… Continue Reading
Having just flown on the same day as her husband, but separately, to Los Angeles, First Lady Michelle Obama will leave this week on a five day tour of the Far East to promote her “Let Girls Learn” initiative in Japan and Cambodia. I wasn’t aware that there was a crisis in girls education in Japan.… Continue Reading
Just want to make sure you have seen exactly what you paid for when you flew First Lady Michelle Obama round trip to Los Angeles Thursday – on a separate flight from the one her husband took to Los Angeles. Here it is. You paid for the fun! Michelle couldn’t just appear on Ellen’s show… Continue Reading