A Lesson from The ...


I recognize that I live in this bubble called Silicon Valley where the promise of a better juicer can attract $120 million in venture capital, fail and everyone thinks this is normal.

$120,000,000. Is it just me or does that seem like a lot of money down the drain?

Of course, there are many Silicon Valley successes — OK, you’re going to let strangers stay in your house for a price — that didn’t exactly sound like a sure thing on paper.

As an observer of the scene since 1981, I’ve come to conclude that diversity, not money, is the secret sauce. Over one-third of those in Silicon Valley were born overseas.



Think about this for a moment. When you stop at a Starbucks in San Jose and 30 folks are hogging the tables and gulping the Wi-Fi, the numbers say that 10 of them will be immigrants.

I raise this point in the context of the divisive rhetoric that emanates from the White House on a regular basis. Naturally, what’s important to someone in Detroit is going to differ from someone in Huntsville, which is going to differ from someone in Silicon Valley. But the promise of American society is one of inclusiveness with everyone — people in Detroit, Huntsville and Silicon Valley — buying into the concept.

It’s not that tough.

Which brings me to my Grandma from my mom’s side — Tilly who lived into her 90s. The photo above shows Tilly at my parents’ wedding along with my grandmother (Elizabeth) from my dad’s side.

Born in Hungary, by the time Tilly made her way to the U.S. she had lost many family members in The Holocaust. As a Jew in America, certain things amazed her, world-changing events like the birth of Israel and less grand activities like Mike Wallace grilling government officials on “60 Minutes” and still waking up in his own bed the next morning.

Many years after assimilating into the U.S., a different type of “test” arrived on her doorstep. One of my sisters, Tilly’s granddaughter, became engaged to be married. Her husband-to-be was Muslim. She made the decision to convert from Judaism to Islam.

Talk about the pachyderm in the room. Everyone wondered, what would Grandma think?

In a word, noproblem. My grandmother supported the marriage with all of the emotion you would expect from a doting grandma. And seeing my grandmother with my sister and her husband at different family gatherings post wedding, I know with 100 percent certainty that she loved them both.

I never spoke to Grandma about this, but I suspect that she viewed my sister’s marriage as yet another symbol of the inclusiveness that underpins American society.

I also have a hunch that she would tap her Yiddish to describe today’s White House —



  • Shelia

    Love this story!! Diversity makes the world go round…it’s the inclusiveness that’s a challenge to all. Glad your grandma had the insight to accept your sister’s marriage!

    • Lou Hoffman

      I agree, “diversity makes the world go round.” Thanks for the positive words.


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