Quit kvetching! If youll take notice, life is just kvell

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I kvell.

That's the only word for it. That's the perfect word for it. There ain't no other, there ain't no better word for it.

I kvell.

I kvell from the new TV season, which like almost every TV season for the last decade or so, is full of Jewish characters, each of whom are professional, articulate, successful, accomplished. We may be quick to complain about stereotypes or exaggerations but the truth is blacks and Italians and Poles and certainly Arabs only wish the portrayals of them were even close to as positive as are portrayals of Jews.

I kvell because while attending the United Nations opening that President Clinton waited a day for, Israeli foreign minister David Levy held a meeting that 16, count 'em, 16 Arab countries attended. Countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Qatar.

Read that list of countries and you can't help but kvell that they showed up at a meeting called by Israel's top diplomat. Only five years ago, such a thing was beyond our imagination. What it will mean for Israel five years from now is beyond kvelling about.

I kvell because in Disney World's Epcot Center, there is a pavilion dedicated to the state of Israel among two dozen pavilions dedicated to select nations of the world. There was a time not very long ago that places like Disney simply avoided anything having to do with Israel. Too messy, too complicated, not worth it.

Now Israel is included, which is a public relations bonanza considering how many millions of people go through Epcot each year. Yes, those cynics among us can whine about the fact that the exhibit fudges on the fact that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. You can't turn the world over in a day. Just the fact that Disney, that most cautious of companies, included Israel speaks volumes about how far we have come, how accepted Israel is, how mainstream things Jewish have become. I kvell from that.

I kvell that everybody jumps all over Pat Buchanan when he puts out a book that says America had no business taking on Hitler and implies that it was the Jews who pushed us into the war.

I kvell that as Time magazine has listed its 100 most influential people of this century in special issues throughout the year, how many have been Jewish. And how many that were not Jews were criticized for their anti-Semitism, from Charles Lindbergh to Henry Ford.

I kvell that in the inaugural issue of Talk, the hottest magazine with the biggest buzz, the one edited by Tina Brown, the one in which Hillary tried to explain Monica by letting us know Bill was in the middle of a tug of war between his mom and his grandma, that there is a major feature story about playwright Tom Stoppard's discovery that he is Jewish.

I kvell when I read all the stories about the giant merger of CBS and Viacom and saw how CBS chairman Mel Karmazin said he had been dreaming of making such a deal since his bar mitzvah.

I kvell because he not only didn't hide his Jewishness but made a point of bringing it up for all the world to see. Not ashamed, not afraid but rather proud of his part in putting together one of the world's biggest media companies.

I kvell because the other major player in that big CBS-Viacom merger is Sumner Redstone, who may not appear to be Jewish at first glance at his name (a nice Jewish boy called Sumner?) but who, in fact, is Jewish. Real name being Sumner Murray Rothstein. I kvell because while he did change his name to unJewish it, he doesn't deny that he's Jewish and even supports Jewish causes.

I kvell because a major movie star, Robin Williams, made a major movie about Jews in a ghetto in Poland during the Holocaust.

I kvell because "Jakob the Liar" is the kind of movie that might bring home the horrors of what Jews went through in a way more accessible and more real to more people. Lots of people are Robin Williams' fans and that fact alone may get people to see this movie who otherwise wouldn't get near anything having to do with Jews, let alone the Holocaust.

I kvell because the story of what everyday life was like for Jews under the Nazis is one that needs to penetrate as many hearts and souls as possible. I kvell that the Catholic archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O'Connor, begs forgiveness from the Jewish people for all the sins committed by him and all Catholics now and in the past.

I kvell, too, when someone on the radio is angry that the guy who started shooting at a Fort Worth church wasn't charged with a hate crime. If it was a synagogue, the caller says, he would have been. I kvell from that. Yes, we defend ourselves, yes, we protect ourselves, yes, we speak out loudly and clearly and unafraid.

I kvell that pop star Michael Jackson recently joined worshippers at an Orthodox synagogue in New York, that Madonna and Roseanne and lots of Hollywood stars study the kabbalah.

I kvell that the Microsoft Co. has signed an agreement with an Israeli company to establish a Hebrew-language portal to the Internet.

I could, thankfully, keep kvelling but I'm getting to the bottom of this column. Which is, in itself, something to kvell about. For most of our history, we filled most of our pages with things to kvetch about, feel sorry about ourselves about, bemoan, bewail.

No more. There is reason to kvell all about us. Wonder of wonders. All we have to do is make sure to notice. And to kvell.