L'Shana Tova Tikatevu"May you be written down for a good year" (Rosh Hashanah greeting)
As I sat, on Saturday, September 23, the Jewish New Year of 5767 . within this very humble synagogue (Ahavas Sholom), the last operating synagogue in Newark, New Jersey, I sat wondering how I might meaningfully blog on the experience I was having that day. As the Cantor, (the professional singer who leads prayer services) orHazzan, as it is called in Hebrew was singing the prayers, I explored the Prayer Book ( the one used just for the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) searching for something that would elicit a feeling of special meaning for the day. I was seeking inspiration. It was not an easy task.
Granted, the task was ever the more difficult because not only am I not a truly religious person, but I am an agnostic, which makes the exploration itself, well, maybe a little hyrpocritical. After all, the book in which I am looking is one of Prayer and the prayers are all directed to God. If I don't believe in God, or even just question her existence, then how do I expect to find inspiration or something meaningful? I don't know how to answer this question, except to say that I do (expect to find meaning and inspiration). There is something to be said about the significance of prayer beyond it's relation to God. For example, the fact that most prayers are said, at least in the Jewish tradition, in unison with the community that is present is significant. I can remember when I was a young teenager, being at USY (United Synagogue Youth) conventions, with hundreds of other kids and singing some simple Hebrew song, like Henay Ma Tov U'manayim, Shevet Achim B'yachad (translation...Oh, how good and how nice it is to be sitting together with my brothers and sisters) in rounds. The spirit in that room and that pervaded that little 14 or 15 year old Jewish girl, was tangible and tremendous. Also, the fact that the words of the prayers and more significantly, the tunes in which they are sung, are consistent, also adds a sense of familiarity and spirit (though truth be told, they always change the tunes of the more familiar prayers for the High Holidays and though I know this, it disappoints me every time).
So, I searched and came up with three entries that I think help to consolidate the meaning of the High Holidays, at least for me. TheMehila is not really a prayer, but rather a supplication that in the Jewish tradition is required of every Jew before Yom Kippur. The idea is that before you can ask God for forgiveness on the Day of Atonement, you must first have asked your fellow human beings. I will begin with it and I will also mention that should it apply to any of my friends here in cyber-space, all the better.
Mehila: Asking for forgiveness
To be said to one's relatives, friends and acquaintances:
I am sorry if I have hurt you by what I have done or have failed to do, by what I have said or have not said to you since last Yom Kippur.
I will strive to improve my ways, and I ask for your understanding and forgiveness.
To look Forward
Grant us on this Rosh Hashanah
Gratitude enough to look backward and be thankful;
Courage enough to look forward and be hopeful'
Faith enough to look upward and be humble;
Kindness enough to look outward and be helpful.
A little less impatient with those we deem too slow;
A little less arrogant because of all we know;
A little less conceited since our worth is slight;
A little less intolerant even when we are right.
A little more forgiving and swifter to be kind;
A little more desirous the word of praise to find;
A little more eager to help others to rejoice;
A little more careful to speak with gentle voice.
A little more effort to see another's view;
A little more determined to live faithfully as a Jew;
A little more willingness to extend a helping hand;
A little more commitment to our people's and our land.
A little more eagerness to listen and understand;
A little more readiness to respond to God's command;
A little more resolve to do what must be done;
And a greater understanding that, truly, "we are one!"
The movie was based on the book, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim(1866-1942), written in 1922, which I am presently"reading" in my car, aurally, that is. I can not put in words what an absolute delight it is listening to this recording. The "performer" ( reader) is Nadia May and listening to her puts me in mind of days gone by, when my children were very young and one of our (well my) favorite characters was a British Bear, named, Paddington . Somehow, when a story is Bitish and told in that very proper, and ever so charming British English, it holds for me an irisistable attraction that puts me in a state of enchantment and a smiile on my face. That is what reading and listening to Paddington did for me all those years ago and what listening to the book The Enchanted April is doing for me now. It is truly a great pleasure.
I read an advertisement for the book (The Enchanted April, not Paddington Bear) that said, The Enchanted April is for adults what The Secret Garden is for chiildren.
The story has been filmed three times (a silent version in 1925 and two “talkies” in 1935 and 1992) and adapted for the stage twice, in 1925 by Kane Campbell, and in 2002 byMatthew Barber. The play in 2003 was nowhere as good as the book or the movie, nevertheless, I do remember enjoying it. How could I not?
I would like to thank my Blogosphriends who heeded my call to share their experiences here regarding where they were and how they felt and what they did on the morning of September 11, 2001. I am not sure that the circular aspect I was trying to create happened, but no matter. The main thing was that we got to think about it together as the five year anniversary approached, arrived and left us. I am going to try to coalesce the comments I received and respond to them here in a new post, rather than in the comment section of the original. I hope that is OK with my fellow bloggers. I will respond as I go along and my responses will be in blue (oh, surprise! surprise! ).
Diane S. said... I sort of collect 9/11 stories...in part I ask, because people almost always want to tell you what that day was like for them. It's like we're all waiting for someone to ask us.
I thought a lot about that statement and I so much agree. I realized that in fact. I had been waiting for someone to ask me.
I've never been as frightened as I was that day. I've never wanted someone to hug me as badly as I did that day. I never wanted my mother as badly as I did that day.
Dave said... I also thought of my dad, who had died at the age of 88 four months earlier. He had been so confused and appalled near the end of his life at so many aspects of the current era; I was grateful he hadn't seen this one. And I thought of my mother, so far gone in her elderly dementia that this day would be just like any other.
mark said...I watched the news all day and called all of my family members. My cousin was actually stuck on 95 when it happened. He was stuck in traffic for hours as they had closed 95 down where the pentagon is.
Behind Blue Eyes said... I remember looking at my daughter and feeling so sad because I knew that the world had irrevocably changed....or maybe not changed but intruded, my son was in contact with people from England and they all e-mailed him expressing their sorrow over what had happened.
Sherril said... I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Do I call my husband? Do I call my kids? My hub's niece from Israel and her boyfiend had been staying with us. They were to take the bus in from NJ and then subways to the WTC. I freaked. I had absolutely no clarity of mind and all I could think was that I had to get home to warn them, hoping and praying that they hadn't left already.
Penny said... We got off on Rt. 46 and called my Mom to pick us up.
Ricardo said... I recalled my grandparents telling me about how a plane hit the Empire State Building in their day.
When tragedy hits, often the first thing many people think of is family, whether because we need them to comfort or rescue us or that we are glad that they are no longer here to have to witness what is happening. Whatever the specifics, family is a common thread.
Maritza said... with a panoramic view of NYC , we saw it all happen. It was surreal, we saw it and experienced the horror but the windows framed it and the glass kept out the sounds and smells. It was as if we were watching it on TV. I had to watch it on the news later that night to get a real sense of what happened.
Penny said... When we got home and watched the first tower collapse on TV, it was surreal. But it was real, and we all have shed so many tears over this tragedy.
I had said in my post that when I heard the "World Trade Center Was No More", I simply could not get my mind around it, that my imagination was not big enough to take it in; Why? Because it was absolutely surreal.
KA said....The truth is, I'd never even heard of the WTC until Black Tuesday It was mostly numbness. Shock. Tears. Rage. Some religious fervor.
Clay said... I watched it on tv over and over just feeling numb, angry, and sad.......seemingly all at once. It was one of the worst days of my life.
mark said... 9/11 was definitely a defining moment in the lives of all Americans
Behind Blue Eyes said...I turned on the TV and saw the people jumping out of the windows and saw the people running down the street as the buildings collapsed behind them. Those were the scenes that chilled me the most. I couldn't believe that this was happening here...
Ricardo said... Then the replay of the second plane hitting came on, then a big explosion, a sick feeling in my stomach and wobbling of the knees
We all talked about how it made us feel watching over and over those horrific scenes of the planes crashing into the towers and the billowing clouds of smoke and thrashing flames and then those people jumping from above the flames...nauseated, disbelief, horror, numb...the adjectives are endless. But as deeply as we all feeled, it gave me a moment of pause when I read what
Clay said... It was hard to comprehend what must have been going on inside the minds of the doomed.
The odd things that come to mind:
Diane S. said... I remember thinking the oddest things that day. I remember thinking that I was glad Ronald Reagan was too far gone to know what had happened. Me! A liberal democrat! Worried about Reagan! But it would have killed him to know. Say what you like about Reagan (and I could say plenty), he loved this country.
Dave said... My politics are the opposite of Diane (first post above) and of Sherril, but I thought of Reagan, too, although in the sense of (in my opinion) how smoothly and definitively I thought he would be handling the problem, with thoughts of the fired air traffic controllers and the reciprocal bombing over Libya.
Penny said... I was dressed up in a suit. I still think of it as my 9/11 outfit.
Behind Blue Eyes said... I stayed close to the Radio and remember a reporter saying Fuck on the air
So, I asked the question where were you on the morning of 9/11/01......
I was at work which is only a 1/2 mile across the Hudson River.
I was at work at ESPN and it was like any other day
I went to work, was told there was a terrorist attack
9/11 I was actually off work and getting my car serviced
I retired last April, but on 9/11/01 I was still working in my local broadcasting career. I was in the newsroom of a local TV station in Billings, MT,
I was at home when it happened because I work the night shift
Behind Blue Eyes said...
I used to work at the Red Cross...National Testing lab ... I worked midnight shift and at 8am..
Diane S. said...
Some time after first hearing the news, I found myself wandering like a lost child in a supermarket
I was on my way into Manhattan on the morning of 9/11/01. I was meeting a sales rep at a client's office
Sherril said...On that Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, I left my house for work at about 8:35 AM. on the way to the day care center...
And when all was said and done on this particular post of this particular blog, Maritza kindly said...
Sherrill, Thanks for dedicating your blog to this event these past couple of days. You did so respectfully and with sensitivity
A certain kind of relationship develops among fellow bloggers, those who make it their business to visit your blog, read what you have to say and comment accordingly and whose blogs you visit on a regular basis. There's a warmth that develops, even though you've never met, and often times do not even know what they look like.
I want to try an experiment with my blogger-mates, a kind of pass-it-along, tag kind of thing. I will answer the question I have posed, ["Where were you on September 11, 2001 when the planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center?] and ask them to do the same in the comment section of my blog. Then, when they return to their own blog, they rewrite their 9/11 experiences and ask their readers to do the same and so it goes. I hope it works.
On that Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, I left my house for work at about 8:35 AM. I am a Speech Pathologist and I work in the homes and Day Care Centers of very young children with, or at risk for, developmental delays. At about 8:58 AM, just before arriving at the Day Care Center in South Orange, NJ, I heard the DJ on a Rock radio station announce, in an exclamatory, but quite skeptical, almost joking way, that he'd just got word that a plane hit the World Trade Center or that there was a fire near the top of the WTC, he wasn't really sure (the station itself was broadcasting from NYC) and he followed it by saying something like, "yeah, right!" At that point I was parking my car and I didn't think all that much about it due to the flippancy in the announcer's voice. I entered the Center and for the next hour worked with my regularly scheduled 9 AM child. As I was leaving, an hour later, I passed a woman who worked there, with whom I'd become chatty-friendly, as one does in the work-a-day world. I asked how she was doing and she responded with a deep frown, "not very well". When I asked her what was the matter, she looked at me as if to say, where in the hell have you been girl? Her actual words were, "don't you know what's been happening?" and before I could mention something about what I'd casually heard on the radio, she blurted forth more of the details and the fact that many of the parents of these children in this Day Care work at the World Trade Center.
Rushing back to my car and the radio, every station, was broadcasting the same news and it took only a minute or two to get up to speed. But, like so many, I just could not get past those words that I kept hearing, that the two towers of the WTC had fallen. The World Trade Center was no more. For some reason it was that information, those words, that I could not get my mind around, that literally froze me in place. My imagination was not equipped for what they were saying. The World Trace Center was no more. I could not think of the people, the consequences, anything, other than those seven words. When I started crying, I became confused and disoriented. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Do I go to the next child's home on my schedule? Do I go home? Do I call the office and ask them what to do? Do I call my husband (working in NJ) or my kids (one in High School, the other in College). It really didn't matter because when I tried to use my cell phone, not one of the calls got through. I began to drive to the house of my next child, but I literally could not find it, despite the fact that I'd been there tens of times. I was completely disoriented, was having trouble seeing through my tears and kept making circles. When I finally got to the door, with tears in my eyes and voice, the only thing I could think to say to the mother of the child, was to ask if I could use their phone because my cell phone was useless. She, of course, was on the phone, but soon hung up and handed it to me. The office said to call the other families and cancel therapy sessions if I wanted. I had no idea what I wanted, but I knew I needed to be with someone with whom I felt close. I drove to a friend's house in the neighborhood, only to find no one home. As I drove to my home, some 14 miles away, and my mind still in a fog, it suddenly occured to me that there was someone I'd not thought about calling, but ought to have. My hub's niece from Israel and her boyfiend had been staying with us for the Jewish holidays (Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur). Their plan for the day was to go into The City to visit the World Trade Center (they'd already been to other parts of the city and that day was for downtown). They were to take the bus in from NJ and then subways to the WTC. I freaked. I had absolutely no clarity of mind and all I could think was that I had to get home to warn them, hoping and praying that they hadn't left already (it was then close to 11 AM). I sped home and felt like I was driving blind through my tears. Once home, I left the keys in the car, door open and rushed into the house calling their names, only to find that thankfully they were there and my mother had called them an hour or so earlier with the news.
The next hours and days were spent glued to the television and radio, seeing over and over what the rest of the country and the world was seeing and trying, without success, to understand, to believe what had happened. In those raw moments, hours, days and weeks, you couldn't think about what it all meant, what the repercussions would be; all you could do was grieve and try to believe it, try to understand.
I call this kind of thing Synchronicity of My World and Blog World
The message I mean to relate here, by quoting part of a Speech given by Sojourner Truth in May 1851, at the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, is that there is a thread that moves along carefully among all quests for freedom and equality; such is the connection between Abolition of Slavery and Women's Suffrage (and overall Women's Rights). When I heard Sojourner Truth's words today, this fact rang out clear and strong, perhaps in a way that had never before occurred to me. The speech was published by Frances Dana Gage, who had organized the Convention, as her version of Truth's speech, "complete with crude Southern dialect in the April 23, 1863, issue of the New York Independent." I was about to "clarify" the speech in order to help the reader read it more easily. But, on second thought, I realized that Sojourner's speech says it so elolquently, it speaks for itself and can not possibly be made any clearer.
"Wall, chilern, whar dar is so much racket dar must be somethin' out o' kilter. I tink dat 'twixt de nigger of de Souf and de womin at de Norf, all talkin' 'bout rights, de white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all dis here talkin' 'bout?
"Dat man ober dar say dat womin needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and to hab de best place everywhar. Nobody eber halps me into carriages, or ober mudpuddles, or gibs me any best place!"
And raising herself to her full height, and her voice to a pitch like rolling thunder, she asked, "And ar'n't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! [And here she bared her right arm to the shoulder, showing her tremendous muscular power] " I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ar'n't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man -- when I could get it -- and bear de lash as well! And ar'n't' I a woman? I have borne thirteen chilern *, and seen 'em mos' all sold off the slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ar'n't I a woman?
"Den dey talks 'bout dis ting in de head; what dis dey call it?" "Intellect," whispered someone near. "Dat's it, honey. What's dat got to do wid womin's rights or nigger's rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yourn holds a quart, wouldn't ye be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?" And she pointed her significant finger, and sent a keen glance at the minister who had made the argument. The cheering was long and loud.
"Den dat little man in black dar, he say women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wan't a woman! Whar did your Christ come from?" Rolling thunder couldn't have stilled that crowd, as did those deep, wonderful tones, as she stood there with outstretched arms and eyes of fire. Raising her voice still louder, she repeated, "Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin' to do wid Him." Oh, what a rebuke that was to the little man.
Turning again to another objector, she took up the defense of Mother Eve, I cannot follow her through it all. It was pointed and witty, and solemn; eliciting at almost every sentence deafening applause; and she ended by asserting, "If de fust woman God ever made was strong enough to turn de world upside down all alone, dese women togedder [and she glanced her eye over the platform] ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now dey is asking to do it, de men better let 'em." Long continued cheering greeted this. "Bleeged to ye for hearin' on me, and now ole Sojourner han't got nothin' more to say."
For those who may have had difficulty reading the speech as it was interpreted by Dana Gage, here is another version:
I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman's rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint, and a man a quart -- why can't she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, -- for we can't take more than our pint'll hold. The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don't know what to do. Why children, if you have woman's rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won't be so much trouble. I can't read, but I can hear. I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. The Lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother. And Jesus wept and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.
Speech borrowed from an article from The Sojourner Truth Institute of Battle Creek site.
Lauder and Sabarsky conceived the idea for the museum. Sabarsky, an art dealer and art exhibition organizer and Lauder, a businessman, philanthropist and art collector were friends for nearly three decades and they shared a passionate commitment for German and Austrian art of the early 20th century. The museum features Austrian artists such as Gustav Klimt and German arists such as Vasily Kandinsky, Egon Schiele and Paul Klee.
Ronald S. Lauder, also heir to the cosmetics fortune, former American ambassador to Austria, once a mayoral candidate, prodigious art collector and major benefactor of Jewish causes, knows a lot about art stolen by the Nazis, much of it from Jews.
Starting in the mid-1990's he became a vocal champion of restitution of the artwork to their rightful heirs, an issue that was then erupting across Europe and the United States after 50 years of silence.
As chairman of the Commission for Art Recovery of the World Jewish Congress, Mr. Lauder has been a patron of scattered efforts to help Jews reclaim what had been theirs. In testimony before Congress, he called these stolen artwork "the last prisoners of war."
Many of the works of the Austrian artists, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, belonged to Jewish collectors before World War II and were stolen and lost during the Nazi years, and many of their owners were killed in the Holocaust. Mr. Lauder, who bought his first Schiele drawings as a teenager with his bar mitzvah money, says that few people paid attention to provenance when he entered the market in the late 1960's under the tutelage of Serge Sabarsky. Both Sabarsky's and Lauder's collections hang in the Neue gallery.
An extra treat that this museum offers is the cafe serving Viennese pastries and coffee.
And then there's...Have you ever heard of the American artist, Edward Hopper, 1882-1967? I get an email called DelanceyPlace.com and every day it delivers an excerpt from or about a well known person in literature, science, art, education and so on. Today's excerpt was about Edward Hopper. The name was so familiar to me, but I could not for the life of me remember why. Just a bit of research gave me the clue that I needed. "He was born in the small Hudson River town of Nyack, New York State, on 22 July 1882." Several years ago, we took a weekend trip to visit the Hudson Valley and there I was, for the first time, exposed to the Hudson River School Artists. Hopperwas born at the end of this period, but I imagine growing up there, he was influenced by it. In any case, looking now at his paintings, I could not stop. I can't say exactly what it was that attracted me so and kept my attention, but I guess that's what art is about. It's the pull, the attraction and though understanding some theory and techniques can add much to a piece of art, in reality, what matters most is the chemistry you have or don't have with the art. I don't know how it will translate here, but when I viewed these works from the WebMuseum Paris Site on my monitor they were beautiful. The light and air in these paintings stir me like no paintings I've seen before. They also impart a profound sense of time and place. Should you wish to join me at the Whitney, The Met or The Brooklyn Museum of Art some day, what a pleasure it would be. And if you can expound on what makes these paintings so wonderful, I invite you to share.
Drug Store 1927, Oil on canvas, 29 x 40 inches; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Early Sunday Morning 1930, Oil on canvas, 35 x 60 in; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gas 1940, Oil on canvas, 26 1/4 x 40 1/4 in; The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Lighthouse at Two Lights 1929, Oil on canvas, 29 1/2 x 43 1/4 inches; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Now 30 years old, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono follows his 1998 debut solo album Into the Sun with a sharp new collection of original work called Friendly Fire. He's joined on the album by Paul Simon's son, Harper, who plays guitar.
And I think, that's nice, I'll take a listen. Minimally, I'll get to hear the voice of Paul Simon's son, which would be of interest to me, being a PS fan for, well, many years. Maximally, I may even like the voice of John Lennon's son. I certainly was a fan of his dad. And then I noticed the picture.......OMG, is he getting old or am I? When in god's name did little Sean get to be a grown man? I mean whatever happened to Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful Boy ???
Close your eyes, Have no fear, The monsters gone, He's on the run and your daddy's here,
Beautiful, Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Boy,
Before you go to sleep, Say a little prayer, Every day in every way, It's getting better and better,
Beautiful, Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Boy,
Out on the ocean sailing away, I can hardly wait, To see you to come of age, But I guess we'll both, Just have to be patient, Yes it's a long way to go, But in the meantime,
Before you cross the street, Take my hand, Life is just what happens to you, While your busy making other plans,
Beautiful, Beautiful, beautiful, Beautiful Boy, Darling, Darling, Darling Sean.
Well, I guess we've seen him come of age.