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by Abigail Van Buren

Millennium Appears to Be Coming One Year Too Soon

DEAR ABBY: Something very troubling is going on. Everywhere I turn, people are saying that the new millennium starts one second after midnight Dec. 31, 1999. That just isn't true. The correct date is Jan. 1, 2001 -- NOT 2000!

Allow me to explain: There are 100 years in a century. The first century encompassed the years 1 through 100. The second century ran from 101 through 200, the third century from 201 through 300, etc. Get it?

Abby, please urge the media to put this information before the public. Someone once said it takes one small spark to start a prairie fire. Perhaps this one "spark" of information will ignite the candle of wisdom -- and shine some light on an important fact your readers need to know. –-"FATHER TIME" IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR FATHER TIME: I'm embarrassed to confess that I'm one of the guilty parties who referred to 1999 as the "final year of the century," so thank you for providing me an opportunity to set my readers straight. You are one voice in a chorus of individuals who want the public to be made aware that the year 2000 is the final year of the century, and the new millennium begins on Jan. 1, 2001.

I hate to be the one to say this, but you're swimming against a tidal wave. Although you are technically correct, when people see the first digit in the year change from a "1" to a "2," they can't help but think a new century has arrived.

DEAR ABBY: I know you receive thousands of letters, while selecting few for publication.

I am distressed that you saw fit to publish a letter that has anti-Semitic overtones. It pertained to the inquiry made by "Confused in Canada's Capital," regarding a person who used a death in the family for self-serving purposes to create an educational fund for his daughter, when he was "easily able to pay for his daughter's education." The writer then queried, "Is this a Jewish custom?"

Your response, "No, it's not a Jewish custom" could have easily been enclosed in an envelope and sent to the inquirer. To have exposed your millions of readers to a false stereotypic characterization of the Jew was an unfortunate error on your part. It was not simply an innocent request for information, and in my estimation you unwittingly became a "partner in crime" by publishing this nonsense.

The Jewish community is owed an apology. -- DR. STANLEY M. WAGNER, RABBI, DENVER

DEAR RABBI WAGNER: I am Jewish and I disagree. I give the overwhelming majority of my readers credit for not adhering to false stereotypes. The son-in-law's behavior wasn't typical of all Jewish people. To quote an old Yiddish proverb: "Every village has its village idiot" -- even ours. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Regarding the letter from "Confused in Canada" about the son-in-law who placed a solicitation for money for his daughter's education in his father-in-law's obituary: No, it's not a Jewish custom. It's a shanda (disgrace)! -- LOYAL READER IN PALM SPRINGS

DEAR LOYAL READER: Right. As I said in my original answer -- that letter was a first!

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