Nov 22, 2023

Two Things That Happened 60 Years Ago Today

The death of a president; a passage into figurative manhood

By Ed Goldman

Sixty years ago, November 22 came out on a Friday. I was home from school that day to prepare for my Bar Mitzvah, which would begin at the temple’s Friday evening service and resume the next day, the actual sabbath. Its culmination this particular Saturday would include my reading aloud in Hebrew a portion of the Torah, the five books of Moses also called the Old Testament.

My 13th birthday had occurred a week before, which would have been the ideal time for the ceremony. But my parents’ temple was already booked so my passage into symbolic manhood was postponed. 

Edgy Cartoon

My Bar Mitzvah Bag. In it is my tefillin, a box containing God’s laws

Sometime that Friday morning, our next-door neighbor Audrey Roberts tapped at the kitchen window, startling my mom and me. I’d been drying the breakfast dishes while practicing the one-minute speech I’d deliver the next morning. 

That speech had started out as a 15-minute yawner, drafted by the temple’s rabbi, and included a lot of praise for, yes, the temple’s rabbi. My dad, who was president of the congregation and knew he and his board were on the verge of firing the man, took one look at it, tore it up and wrote me the 60-second keeper I was now practicing. I loved my dad for many reasons but his writing my speech was right up there with his teaching me to ride a bicycle one weekend afternoon when I was five years old on a trip to see our cousins Gertie and Mac Friedman and their kids Phyllis and Bruce, who lived in Long Island, New York.

My dad taught me by pushing me on the bike along a semi-rural road, then backing away while telling me, “Keep peddling, Buddy Boy!” I did and fell only once before I got the hang of it.

When our neighbor tapped on the window that Friday it was to tell my mom, “They shot the President!” She repeated it a few times and seemed to implode in heaving, silent sobs.

Being a boy who adored western movies and TV shows, my first notion was that the President had been winged in the arm—just like my favorite small-screen cowboys Cheyenne, Bronco and Maverick were winged in their arms almost every week on their respective shows. By the final credits they’d be calling their wounds “scratches” and riding off to their next 56-minute adventure (each 60-minute show carried four minutes of commercials in those days).

But this wasn’t a cowboy show.

As the story of the assassination began to unfold in almost every household, workplace, gas station, house of worship, highway rest stop, bar, restaurant, hospital, city hall, state capitol and school in the nation, it became clear that for the first time since the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent start of World War II the country’s innocence was again under siege. 

Parents wondered what to tell their children. Religious leaders either searched for the right words or, as in the case of my temple’s on-his-way-out rabbi, figure out how to make the most of a tragic, historic but also opportune moment. 

“The temple will be packed tonight, Edward,” the rabbi told me. “You’ll have to do exceptionally well.” I knew it would be a packed house even if the assassination hadn’t happened. After all, my dad had his temple leadership post and my mom was president of this mainly working-class congregation’s sisterhood group. As a result, they had felt obliged to invite almost everyone in the membership directory to my Bar Mitzvah.

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All I really needed to do that night was participate in and appear to be leading one or two responsive prayers. The litmus test would come with the next day’s Torah reading, a 20-minute ordeal both for the speaker and those half-listening. Then there’d be that speech, which the rabbi insisted I rehearse; but he didn’t know my dad had tossed that bloviating ode to the rabbi and provided me with 60 relatively terse, non-sentimental seconds of prose. So I fended off the rabbi’s request and told him I wanted to surprise him on Saturday. Believe me, I did.  

The rabbi was right about the crowd’s reaching standing-room-only status Friday night. People I’d never seen before in my years of going to temple showed up to seek solace or togetherness or even a modicum of insight into what had just happened to their young, glamorous President—and, as we came to see, what would then happen to their country, with its national naiveté now ripped from its heart.

If you were alive and sensate back then, you know to this day, regardless of your party affiliation, that the United States before John F. Kennedy was slaughtered on a street in Dallas was not the same country thereafter.

But days, weeks and months after the murder, the funeral, the airborne swearing-in of President Lyndon Baines Johnson and the almost chilly farewell to Jackie Kennedy and her Camelot kids, America was back in action. And this, I was forced to learn at an early age, was what this nation’s quintessential strength is. We always seem to come through catastrophes. Maybe, as my dad taught me years earlier on a country road, we all hear a long-vanished but still cherished voice telling us, “Keep pedaling, Buddy Boy.”

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President, Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, N.A.

photo by Phoebe Verkouw


Last week we began a discussion about bank scams. At Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, N.A., we are concerned about your protection. Here’s some more to help you be on the alert for fraudsters.

Monitoring your accounts and alerts are the first line of defense when it comes to bank scams. The sooner you can spot someone trying to access your accounts, the faster you’ll be able to shut them out.

But there are other proactive ways you can protect yourself from financial fraud. Here are some of the best bank fraud prevention tips you can follow:

– Use only encrypted websites when entering your debit or credit card details. Look for “https://” before the URL (not “http://”) and a locked padlock in the left corner of the address bar.

– Never share sensitive information over the phone, unless it’s with a trusted friend or family member.

– Double-check email addresses by tapping on the sender to view the full email address before clicking on links. Fraudsters can mask their real email addresses, showing only a designated brand name.

– Don’t engage scammers on the phone, even if they have government agency names as their caller ID. Government agencies will never call to ask you for sensitive information. When in doubt, call approved customer care or agency phone numbers to confirm.

– Only borrow money from banks and certified lenders.

– Double-check unsolicited checks with your bank before cashing.  Never cash a check for anyone else, no matter what reasons they give you.

Unfortunately, no one is truly safe from becoming the target of a bank scam. But in most cases, bank scams target groups who are less experienced or tech-savvy – such as young people who have just opened a bank account and the elderly.

For example, people in their 20s are more than twice as likely as older adults to fall victim to fake check scams, according to the FTC [*]. Regardless, anyone who isn’t careful or aware of common tactics can fall for one.

Next week: Identity theft, the top of the fraud pyramid. Join us.

Golden Pacific Bank is now Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, N.A. Member FDIC 2023 Golden Pacific Bank. This information should be used for informational purposes only.

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