Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Invitation to an Unveiling

At some point, the cloth is removed from the stone,
and there is a suspension of mourning for

In thinking on this reminds me of my mother’s paternal Grandfather, Solomon Bernstein (Shlomo Zalman), for whom I am named. Since my family follows Ashkenazi practice, this means I never met him. 

Therefore, the memories I have of him are in pictures, stories, and remembrances.  When I listen for him, I am most likely to hear my mother or grandmother telling me this or that story. And I can really see him in black and white: sitting formally, or sprawling with my mother perched on his shoulder.

And while several times a year, I light candles for my mother and grandmother, which is a temporary return to mourning from memory. I do not think I have ever lit them for my great-grandfather.  I am not even sure of the date for this.

But every now and then some event triggers my remembrance – a sort of mourning -- for him, and everyone I do not have. It’s payment for the pleasure of their company.

I knew my father longer, (though not better) than almost anyone else still alive.

The memories I have of my father are colored and varied. They have my point of view embedded in them -- changing in height and position.

And though my children and wife have their own memories, I know that there is much they have about my father is in the faded color of my retelling.

In time, I hope for grandchildren.  And for them, my father will be less colored, and so eventually will I.

Perhaps, we can become family heirloom necklaces – a bit tangled by being kept in the same box. And thus, the story of snatching of a child from the deep end of the pool will be told of me not my father, or ‘no so old’ being told of my father not my mother’s grandfather.

I like the idea of fading together.

There will be a time when the candles and triggers which spark the return to mourning from memory will not be lit for either of any of us.

But this is the end of the first year, so  this is not that time for my father. So we remove the covering on his marker, so our mourning is suspended and his memory may be only for a blessing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cat and the Pumpkin

Image may contain: 1 personOctober 30th informs me that somethings in time are mutable, somethings are not.

By Gregorian reckoning, 42 years ago my mother died, four months and 27 days ago it was my father.

That tends to the immutable — why the dead get by with everything.

That October 30 once was the occasion for a small family jack-o’-lantern competition, a friend's birthday, or the date of a child’s Halloween concert seems rather more mutable.

Least mutable, there is no justice, just us.

I suppose the best we can hope for is a ride on Binky.

Friday, September 7, 2018

An outside view: Famous abusers seek easy forgiveness. Rosh Hashanah teaches us repentance is hard

It is often stated that diversity has particular values in addressing moral issues.

For this reason, Famous abusers seek easy forgiveness. Rosh Hashanah teaches us repentance is hard by Danya Ruttenberg may be enlightening.

Even before the precision of the article,  all four of us had been discussing this issue, as befits Jews, around the dinner table.

These discussions were prompted both by some rather diffuse and ill defined coverage in conventional media about attempts for offenders to rehabilitate themselves. 

Everyday, I try and remind myself that I have made a choice to live in a world different from most people.  Sometimes it is very pleasing.

L'Shana Tovah

Saturday, August 11, 2018

How not to do news: NPR Style

The following interview was conducted on NPR's Morning Edition, on Friday 10 August, 2018: Jason Kessler On His 'Unite The Right' Rally Move To D.C.

I cannot let this one pass.

As someone with parents who had some press experience, and who pointed to Edwin Newman as to how an interview ought to be done (particularly his work on Speaking Freely ) -- that is preparation, laying ground work for questions, and patience -- I have rarely heard such a bad interview.

This sort of poorly grounded gotcha interview is easy for the target to dance gleefully around, making the interviewer sound like an idiot.

It also seems to be the current NPR style.  Frank Mankiewicz should be rotating in his grave so fast your could generate electricity.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

J.K. Rowling is giving a master class in identifying anti-Semitism

J.K. Rowling is giving a master class in identifying anti-Semitism  (H/T to Elisa Triffleman)

This reminds of a conversation:

Moss Hart was working on the screen play for  "Gentlemen's Agreement", he asked George Kaufman if Kaufman had read the book.

"I don't need to spend $1.50 to know what it's like to be a damned Jew", he snarled back.

'Segregation's Constant Gardeners': How White Women Kept Jim Crow Alive - Pacific Standard |

'Segregation's Constant Gardeners': How White Women Kept Jim Crow Alive

Let that sink in for a moment.

My typical 'Jonathan Edwards' comment is that I find this re-assuring: black/white, men/women, gay/straight, we are all 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God'.

But there is a bit more to the issue than that. The issues are power and status of a group, and is hardly unique to these white women.

Before feeling morally superior, just think of asking house slave (all the way back to Marcus Tullius Tiro),  remember the last paragraph of Nineteen Eighty-Four, or read Darkness at Noon.  Or consider a bit of John Donne.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

From the Forward: Christian Passover Seders Are On The Rise

From the Forward: Christian Passover Seders Are On The Rise

The article's sub-title on Facebook was "Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation." 

I cannot say I feel appreciated by this.

For the record, the Last Supper could not have been a Seder.

Seders did not exist until after the Temple fell.

There is of course a Christian influence in the Seder itself; it is not as positive as the Roman and Greek influences.

The influence can be found in the practice of opening the door for Elijah and reciting Sh'foch Chamatcha (Psalm 79:6-7, Psalm 69:25, Lamentations 3:66).

Would a Christian Seder want appropriate/appreciate that memory of the times we two peoples shared.