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February 01, 2007 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-02-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Editorials are posted and archived on JNonline.us.

Greenberg's View


Shedding Energy


he call for energy independence
in last week's State of the Union
address has been expressed
many times before, both by President
George W. Bush and his predecessors. But
there was a And this time I mean it" tone
to the words that was lacking in the past.
The goal to reduce gasoline consump-
tion by 20 percent within 10 years, par-
tially through the use of alternative fuels,
is overdue and commendable. America's
energy demands are indeed dependent on
some of the most irrational and danger-
ous regimes on the planet.
Anything that weans us from reliance
on Venezuela, Nigeria and the Persian
Gulf states has to be good. If it can also
improve the environment, so much the
But it is not the solution for everything
that has gone wrong in the Middle East,
and its impact on the political equation
regarding Israel will probably be minimal.
Of course, for those who are convinced
that oil is the only reason American forces
are in Iraq, energy independence is the
magic wand. The realities, unfortunately,
are far more complex.

Islamic terrorism will
remain a global force,
and if oil royalties fall
precipitously in places
like Saudi Arabia and
Iran (where misman-
agement already has
required oil imports) the
situation in the Middle
East may grow more
rather than less perilous.
While ethanol also
may be an answer for a
grain-rich United States
it can not be the solution
for Europe, which will
remain tied to the oil
producing Arab states.
Even ethanol does
not come without a price for Americans.
Diverting more corn products to energy
needs means there will be less available
for food production, and that will tend to
drive up prices in that area.
Since ethanol cannot be transmitted
through pipelines (at least, with any tech-
nology on the horizon), there will have to
be an increase in truck traffic to get it to

the market. That may well erase any initial
environmental advantage.
Then there are the concerns of an
already battered bunch of Detroit auto-
makers if mileage requirements are too
severe and result in increased production
None of this is meant to imply that
the president's call was misguided. Far
from it. If there is follow through, and in

a Democratic-controlled Congress there
is more assurance than before that there
will be, it can be a good start toward
strengthening America's position in the
But it will only be a start. Because there
are no more magic wands. I

"Groosht"). But on the maps, noth-
ing resembling that showed up near
Kaunas, which is where I thought it
was located.
It turned out that Grzdziai is,
instead, situated in the north, almost
at the Latvian border. Since great-
grandpa Chlavna paid his taxes there,
that had to be the right place.
I promised myself many times that
I would try to get there. But in the
years I traveled to Europe frequently,
I was denied visas to most Communist
countries — and Lithuania was then part
of the Soviet Union — because I was a
journalist. Besides, I told myself, it was a
fool's errand to look for a place that was
probably gone.
I wanted to stand there anyhow and just
look out at the landscape my grandfather
had seen: flat meadowlands stretching to
the Baltic. Now here it was, the picture on
my computer screen. I must have sat there
looking at it for half an hour.

My grandfather, whose Hebrew name
was Nahum-Yehuda, took the name Julius
when he arrived in this country. His
first job was with a little congregation in
Danville, Va. According to family lore, on
his first day in town he was walking along
when he saw a large man in the middle of
the street, waving his arms and shouting,
"I got religion."
He had never seen such a thing back
in Grzdziai and, still in a bit of shock,
inquired who that was. "Oh, he's just a
local character, name of Big Julius',' he was
told. My grandfather went to the court-
house next day and changed his name to
George. It's the name that I, born seven
months after his death, carry; although
I could just as easily have been Julius
Funny, the things that can come over
your computer. I

E-mail letters of no more than 150 words to:

letters®thejewishnews.com .

Reality Check

Welcome To Your Past


was sitting at the computer the
other day, wrestling with words that
refused to stay on the screen in any
coherent pattern, when an e-mail clicked
in. It was from a cousin I hadn't seen in
53 years.
Gloria's family used to live upstairs from
mine in a four-flat on Tuxedo. Since she
was only 6 at the time, she has no recol-
lection of ever having met me. But she did
have big family news.
She and her brother, Robin, had been
doing some genealogical research and
came across the actual documentation
of our family's residence in a shtetl in
Lithuania. My grandfather had managed
to get out of there in 1904 at the start of
the Russo-Japanese War to avoid being
inducted into the Czar's army — no place
for a Jewish boy or anyone else for that
He went to the British Isles, where he
worked as a shochet in Scotland, which
sounds vaguely like the punch line to

a Yiddish joke. He
then made his way to
America in 1907.
We knew that he had
lit out from Lithuania
with false papers. When
he arrived at Ellis
Island, he was given the
Anglicized last name of
his occupation, which he
had decided by then was
a chazen.
So we became Cantor. But from the evi-
dence on hand, back in the old hometown
our last name probably had been Sandler.
My cousins searched the tax rolls for a
Chlavna Sandler, my great grandfather's
name, and there it was. Not only that,
they sent along a photograph of the town
pulled off the Internet. That was the real
I thought the place had been obliterated
years ago. I didn't even know how to spell
it. I knew the pronunciation (kind of like

George Cantor's e-mail address is

gcantor614@aol.com .

February 1 • 2007


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