Life Lessons over the past 2 Weeks

I usually don’t use my blog to share my life’s woes, but this blog piece is going to be an exception. I know complaining about your problems, especially in the online universe doesn’t lead to anything, at least in my case, but the fueling of glee that my opponents feel when they think I’m down.

 I always believed and still to, to a certain extent, that every life experience is a life lesson. So please indulge me and allow me to share with you the life lessons I learned this past couple of weeks.

The lessons began a week ago Sunday where a guest, who also happened to be a friend, took exception to a question asked. (Don’t go checking the archives, the whole exchange has been clipped out)

I’ve been in the radio business an awful long time, over a quarter of my life, I’ve had the cruelest and most profane thing said to me and I brushed it off as risks of the trade. But here was more than a guest, it was a trusted friend.

The guest took exception to the fact that I mentioned pornography during a discussion on teen dating, while  teens who were minors, were in the room.  He felt that it was inappropriate to bring up sex in the presence of underage children.  I agree wholeheartedly, but in context, in my opinion, the question made sense.

The question was “do people sometimes replace relationships with pornography?” In my opinion, the answer could have been as generic as the question, there was no illusion of sex or masturbation or any other industry associated with porn. It was a simple relationship question that could have been answered with a yes or no answer.

The guest, instead, refused to answer the question and then for a period after the show berated me expressing sentiments that alluded that perhaps I had an ulterior unethical and potentially illegal interest in my young charges. A preposterous, revolting and insulting suggestion to say the least.

Lesson learned, sometimes a friendship means more to you than it does someone else.

A few days later, another phone call rattled my cage. It was a contact I have at Federation who called to tell me that there was a special meeting held to discuss how to silence me on Radio Shalom. Apparently the big wigs at the Fed are upset that I keep taking shots at them and their secularism policy on my radio show.

I was told that the discussion centered around how I am out of touch with the times and how my pushing traditional Jewish values is hurting the community rather than helping it. The conclusion of the meeting was that a delegation of representatives would try to “convince” me that my thought process was wrong. My contact did not know how this “convincing” was going to take place.

After hearing this story, my mind went immediately to the scene in the movie Goodfellas where the mafia Godfathers were having a meeting with their underlings.  In a district where drug sales were down the rep was trying to explain things when from behind bang, knocked out and killed with a baseball bat. Don’t cross the mob was the lesson being taught.

I can’t wait to see their next move.

Then over the weekend I was taken to task over my opinions on the Max Stark case. Max Stark was a New York slumlord who was found beaten and burned to death in a dumpster a few weeks ago. Normally most people would say, so what? In this case, however, Mr. Stark was a Satmar Chassid and the New York Post ran a front page story with his picture and the caption (which quoted a law enforcement agent)  “Who didn’t want him dead”.

I found myself, again, at odds with the Chassidic world.

Many members of Montreal’s Lubavitch Community, some that I have known virtually my whole life, stopped talking to me when I went on a multiple show rant against their undying support for Shlomo Rubashkin. In November 2009, Rubashkin  who was the former operator of Agriprocessors the largest Kosher meat packing plant in America located in Postville Iowa, was sentenced to 27 years in prison and ordered to pay $27 million in restitution on 86 counts of financial fraud, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud and money laundering.  Every appeals court in the US, including the Supreme Court have refused to hear the appeal.

The Lubavitch community, of which Rubashkin is a member and a large monetary donator, launched a campaign for his freedom and held rallies and called him a captive whose life is in danger (pidyon Shvuyin).  Money was raised for his defense and rallies were held calling for his release.

With Max Stark it was everyone else.  Many religious people started protesting the NY Post, calling them anti-Semitic and anti-Chasidic. Anyone who agreed or understood the position of the post was deemed a Jew hater and an enemy of the religious.

The argument on my show was when we stand behind criminals and bad people, what example are we setting for our children.

When I wrote my blog piece on it, I got nothing but terrible emails calling me all sorts of things, from a Chassid hater to a Nazi. The few comments under the blog tell the whole story.

Unfortunately, I learned the lesson twice (sometimes you got to learn things twice),  Some people wear uniforms and look orthodox but have no idea what the values of orthodoxy is. They are just fakers and charlatans.

Then came the show this past Sunday night.

Years ago, I made a decision to always include high school students within my show. It wasn’t because I enjoy the drama that comes with working with teens, nor was it to fill time, because I could clearly do every show alone. I included them because I felt that sometimes, if you give a person an opportunity that they won’t ever get again in their lives, they could grow with it. 

The proof is that multiple people that I have let onto the show as children have grown into strong radio and television broadcasters working for major networks. The experience and training I could offer on our little 1000kw station is invaluable.

 The perils of working with young people is that you have to deal with their mood swings. I would not want to be a teenager today. The pressures in today’s world are more than they were when I was young and add to that the fear that they will make a fool of themselves in front of multiple thousands of people listening to the show, sometimes makes me wonder where they get the strength to come back week after week to participate.

This week it was a squabble between friends that got out of hand and took an inordinate amount of time to settle. When the dust cleared, everything worked itself out.

Lesson learned was sometimes, it’s better to not be involved, even when you’re dragged into the middle o fit, and let things work themselves out. I didn’t get involved and within two days, things worked themselves out. I’m happy to report that all is well in friendship land.

So those were my lessons these past couple of weeks, I’m sure there will be more life lessons to come.

Thanks for reading!

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Howie Silbiger hosts The Howie Silbiger Show live Sundays at 7pm on - Call in 1-877-669-1292

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