Whose fault is it?
Who is responsible for the mortgage crisis? Depends on whom you want to believe. Some people believe that the mortgage industry has become a predatory beast run amok
and others believe that it's borrowers who are making poor decisions.
And since Hispanics hold 40% of the subprime mortgages
, Gregory Cahn, from a housing counseling agency in Long Island, New York, believes that the problem is taking advantage of immigrants with limited English skills whose "lack of financial education and their overwhelming desire to buy a home makes them the perfect victims of predatory lenders".
Is it the lender's responsibility or is it a personal responsibility? I don't consider myself "financially educated" and I take that into account before I make any major financial transactions. Which means either talking to a trusted advisor who is financially educated or paying a little extra to talk to an accountant or a lawyer. I consider that expense part of the purchase price, and sleeping worry-free is priceless.
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Last week the Family Support Center on our base circulated an invitation from the Jewish Chaplain to military people to attend a "Teaching Pesach Seder". There was no discussion about it - hubby and I wanted to go. I've met the Jewish Chaplain many times, and he is truly a funny and sweet guy. He takes his job as a chaplain very seriously, and is a nearly constant fixture on base even though he is a reservist and isn't even activated.
Now, hubby had been to a few Passover celebrations, and the story behind that is truly cringe-worthy. My infamous Mother-in-Law had claimed Jewish descent in order to escape the Soviet Union in the seventies, and at that time in Chicago (the first place they emigrated to), there were myriad agencies to help resettle Russian Jews. Never one to pass up a free summer camp, large yard sale, dinner, money grant, or interest free loan, she would accept any of these services with alacrity. Hubby carries a tremendous amount of guilt about that to this day - eye rolling guilt.
Hence, hubby had a much better idea what was going on than we did. I did know the basic order of progression and the stories, but I had never actually experienced a Seder first hand.
I also didn't realize that there were so many Jews in the American military! That statement probably sounds completely 180 degrees different from how I meant it to sound as I typed it. What I meant was this: the Jewish religious community is vastly underserved on the bases that I have lived on. I'm not sure why, but there is definitely not a commensurate amount of activities and fellowship offered for these service-members. I do hope that more and more volunteers will step forward to help incorporate religious programs for them as time goes on. I know how I felt sending my husband to war zones in the Middle East and what my worries were. I can only imagine that the mental preparedness necessary to steel onself to enter an area of such anti-semitic hatred must be even greater. There were a few civilians attending who had no outside experience with the military. They seemed so interested in what was going on in the military aspect of the dinner that I do hope they will come back and volunteer. We really need them.
The dinner was hosted by the Jewish American War Veterans and a local American Legion Post. Let me tell you, I know and have experienced first-hand how important military retirees and veterans are to our military generation. From the Patriot Guard Riders who show up at funerals and rev their bike engines to drown out Fred Phelp's doofus followers to those who just take the time to talk with us as someone who understands, veterans are a priceless treasure. Quite often, as in the case with this "Teaching Pesach Seder", they see a need before we can put a name on what it is. And these veterans were 100% behind our guys (I use "guys" as a gender neutral term) - you could tell it in their pride-filled glances and their words. You could tell it in their actions, which speak the loudest.
The Chaplain started the evening by discussing the wine (Kedem Cream Malaga, by the way) and Grape Juice offered and giving us a story of the last two Passovers he has celebrated in Afghanistan. It seems that Jewish servicemembers in theater came from far and wide to attend his Passover Seder and it was very crowded. They had barely enough wine for everyone, but everyone left happy and in great spirits. Two weeks later, the Chaplain received a call from the Chapel Services at the Afghan base he had celebrated Passover on, "Rabbi, we are having a problem with your services! Those who attend them are finishing off two bottles of wine a night, and the STATE they are leaving in is going to get us in trouble! They told us that it is a Jewish tradition that if you open a bottle of wine you must finish it and they refuse to answer questions about non-alcoholic alternatives. Can we start furnishing grape juice instead?"
Our Chaplain started laughing uproariously. "Never!" he said, "Underestimate the ability of an American servicemember to find a way to consume alcohol within the rules!"
The Seder was done in Hebrew, with the explanations being given to us in English. Everyone had a little book of explanation at their place on the table. To my surprise and my children's surprise (and I think to hubby's surprise, too!), hubby remembered many of "his" parts and recited them along with everyone else. My son really enjoyed the rhythym of the prayers, and actually sat still during them, rocking back and forth. Later on in the car, my eldest daughter was humming the snatches of tune she remembered.
The Chaplain didn't merely explain the Seder, he also offered commentary. He reminded everyone that those who wished to destroy the Jews did not go away after Hitler and brought up Iran. During the four questions portion he told a story of the Warsaw Ghetto, which happened during the last Passover there - where a small child asked his zaide, "Will there be someone here to ask the questions next year?" And the zaide answered, "I may not be here next year, and you may not be here next year. But somewhere in the world a child and his zaide will be celebrating Passover and will ask these questions."
Everyone applauded at that.
And, of course, there was the infamous episode of the story of Jacob. My son had been rocking to the Hebrew being said and was very quiet when the Chaplain started to explain in English about Jacob. My son looked up very quickly with his eyes opened wide and said, "HEY! I'm Jakob! They are talking about me!" There was quite a bit of laughter over that, but my son was still hard to calm down. I think he might have thought he won a prize or something.
Finally, it was time for the food. There was a LOT of food. And as we got in line to get our portions, I could not help but think of Bigel.
You see, they served Chinese food.
It was definitely a wonderful night.
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