memory brings us forward

I, like so many others, am remembering the assassination of JFK. I am reading various interviews of those who were there with him in Dallas, including heartbreaking details about why Jackie was reaching back on the car after the shots.

Here’s the last line from an article in the Washington Post that describes the 4 days of national trauma:

The United States would never stop telling this story, as a loss of innocence, as a time of unity, as a rote memory.

In our family, we thought the world of him. He was good to the Jews. He was one of the good guys in a world that was simply divided. We didn’t need to differentiate.

Of course I remember where I was when I heard that he had been shot. I was in fifth grade and I was sitting at my desk three-quarters’ back in the room. I retain this image of being very far away from the center. There was an announcement over the loudspeaker that the president had been shot.

None of us knew what that meant. Death was kept far away from us, even when family members passed away. Nothing was explained, but this we knew was a change. I don’t know at what point you could place that marker of  the loss of innocence, but I know we all experienced the somberness of the veil being lifted–when we didn’t know if we could trust people who lived among us.

I also remember going over a friend’s house that Monday and watching the funeral procession on her black-and-white television while sculpting a menorah out of soap. I remember the quiet of the house, the quiet of the procession, except for the clip-clop of the horse.

Please take a moment to read this speech, “The Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy; Yeshiva University Charter Day Dinner, 1957.” It’s comparable to Washington’s speech at the Touro Synagogue, both appreciating the best of differences, welcoming religious and intellectual ideas that enrich the quality of our country, the standing of the world.

Oh what a loss! Oh how poor we are today.

I add some photos here of a recent visit to the JFK Library to mark the occasion.

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now and then; a review of how things are never the same

I will show you some photos from August and some from yesterday taken at another nearby museum. First, from August:

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Now here are some from yesterday.

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Now, did you notice that some of the photos were the same and some were completely different? Actually, none were the same. That’s the main point. Even though we went to the same place, the place had changed, our focus had changed, and yes, we had changed. The weather was hot so we were happy to go under the trees, especially that amazing beech tree. I was very curious to see how that fared in autumn, so I took the opportunity to check that out. And some other photos that I show here are because I thought the colors or textures were most fascinating. Did you notice how the woman matched her sweater to her dog?

But then there was the one piece of art that we really didn’t look carefully at last time. It’s by Jim Dine, who claims that it (as most of his work) is autobiographical, and this one is in honor/memory of his grandfather and his hardware store.

But do you see the mezuzah?

We can’t really be sure. I can’t find anything specifically about it online.

I did find this article, though:

A Really Special Gift Bag from May 10, 2001

The American Friends of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art named JIM DINE its artist of the year; commissioned the artist ARMAN to design an award, a mezuza with Mr. Dine’s name on the base; arranged for ARNE GLIMCHER, chairman of the PaceWildenstein Gallery, to hand it to him; invited a Rainbow Room-filling crowd that included SIMON DE PURY, the new chairman of the Phillips auction house, and RONALD S. LAUDER, the cosmetics heir.

Then, the big moment. And no one could find the mezuza.

It had been in a plastic sack when last seen, prompting suspicion among the organizers that a guest who left early assumed it was a gift bag like the ones often handed out to guests leaving such events.

And that, the organizers said yesterday, was exactly what happened.

”We found out when this person called and said, ‘What a lovely evening, what a lovely mezuza,’ ” a spokeswoman said yesterday. She would not identify the caller.

But I think it was here all the time.

winter approaches slowly slowly

We went back to the museum yesterday, this time with my father and sister. How quickly things change.

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Today, we went for another walk and it felt positively balmy. Yes, gratitude is here, too.

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We just finished eating dinner. The men went off to the synagogue for evening prayer time. Before dinner, I lit two yahrzeit candles on behalf of my father, one for his mother and one for his older cousin, who was like a brother to him. They share the date of their death, convenient for my father not to mourn more than he wants for both of them. While I was making dinner, and on the subject at hand, I gave him a book to read, and opened it up to the chapter that I had written about my mother and my reciting kaddish for her. I figured it was the best time to bring it up. 

But of course, as I was washing my veggies for salad, I thought maybe I had written something not to complimentary about him in there and maybe I should have reviewed it beforehand. After all, it had been a few months already since I had re-read it. And so much has happened since then.

I needn’t have worried. He was very moved by the chapter. But I still wonder if it was because he was open to the experience or if it was what I had written. A bit of melancholy will stay with me for a while, I think.

So I have to search for the gratitude forcefully.





My sister told me that someone came over to visit her yesterday. She really wasn’t up for visitors, but they met them in the street while they were doing a little walk around the trees outside, just to get out a bit.

So this family came up and so they came into the house once the walk around was done. They couldn’t tell them not to.

They’re going to have to learn how.

Their teenager accompanied them. And something else accompanied said teenager.

My sister asked if they were tired. “No. I have a cold.”

So here’s another entry for the clueless.

Which, of course, is problematic, because they’re usually too clueless to figure out that these kinds of things are talking about them.

I was going to put in a GIF of Robert De Niro doing his “You talkin’ to me?” routine, but it’s not quite appropriate for a rabbi’s wife…you get the picture, I know.

Instead, I googled “etiquette for visiting the sick”.

I’ll wait while you do it.

Was that so very interesting?

Who knew that etiquette was so particularly other-cultured!

So now I started thinking like a Jew and wrote instead: “laws of visiting the sick.”

Go ahead and google that one, too.

I’ll wait.

A whole ‘nother ball of wax, right???

All good ideas, all around, for sure. And it’s clear that we have to be taught to have compassion.

I didn’t look on youtube yet and I’m not planning on it. That would be too depressing.

None of the sites covered there mentioned DON’T BE SICK when you go visit someone! I guess there’s no law about it.

Where is the common sense?

Well, here‘s one that does!

2. Do not visit if you are hacking, coughing or sniffling.

I’m sick enough already.

But since I did title this culture, and I don’t want to disappoint my fans, here are a few photos I snapped with my phone today at the museum. It was a great day for culture all around.

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can you guess what this is and where i found it?

To be honest, I’m not really sure of what it is, either. I just know that I was very surprised when I found it today.

You can probably figure out where I found it from the clues in the photos, but the real question is why I didn’t find it sooner!

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Oh, and the moral of the story is always carry an extra bag, if you have forgotten to bring tissues!

do i wish we could all re-set?

The other day, I went to my Verizon phone store, the one with the guy who could not be more helpful last year. I really needed his help again with my smart-allecky-phone. It was sending me text messages what seemed to be every 15 minutes from 6250 with the message VZWNMN:1. I finally figured out it was every time I received an email. Of course, I tried looking online first. Of course, I tried calling for tech back-up. They said I should just delete my email and then re-set it. I did not want to do that. I didn’t see how that would help with texts. And I just didn’t trust them. I didn’t have a personal connection and I didn’t think that they would succeed, even/especially since the online conversations concluded that they had no idea what they were doing, and even though they said it was all fixed.

So the visit.

When I entered the store, I waited just a little while for my guy to be available, but he had never heard of this before. He wasn’t giving up so easily. He also spent what seemed like an hour on the phone with Verizon tech support, But while he was we were waiting, I was also observing all kinds of other things going on. There was an interesting parade of customers. I would group them in two groups.

First, come the women without a clue.

I was, of course, one of them.

There was the woman who, from the back, looked like an overeager twenty-something, dressed in what I’m sure she thought was the highest of fashion and money. Probably the money was right. She came to ask why her phone was so slow and you can delete messages? And as you can figure out, once she turned around, I saw a woman (I think) older than me, but made me think– was I pretending to be so much younger than I am and who was I kidding? When she left, my guy said, “She’s one of our regulars. But I see that you knew that, didn’t you?”

I did. They were so very kind to her and they were being so very kind to me. I appreciated that even more.

Then there was another woman who came in to buy an Iphone, since she figured it was time for her to have one along with her husband and daughter, but she really didn’t need to have so many things on it, since she wasn’t going to use them, but shouldn’t she have the same thing and maybe she would have use of them? And I remembered that was me when I bought my smartphone last year.

Then come the men with no patience.  Need I say more? Neither did he. I think he likes talking with the ladies.

There was a TV on showing For Rent on HGTV. I do not have cable and I was not familiar with that show beforehand. I don’t think I’m going to look to watch it again, but it was there, so…

What was particularly interesting was that the real estate agent was obviously very pregnant. That’s a good thing to see that a woman can work and be pregnant and not hide behind a couch. Her name is Jody Gilmour, and I see from the google that she has been pregnant twice while filming the series, leading people to believe she’s perpetually with child.

My guy turns to the screen and then says, “Wow! She’s really pregnant, isn’t she? I don’t like to say that to a woman because I could be very wrong and that wouldn’t be good, but that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?”

We women in the store agreed that it was a good idea not to mention it first.

He then went onto telling us how his wife is due with twins this February and they are nervous because nothing is wrong. With their first baby, she had a lot of false positive tests which led them to believe that their baby would have all kinds of developmental problems and disabilities. They couldn’t believe that things would go so well because they realized how Complicated Life Is.

And if he hadn’t said “It’s a miracle that things usually go so well” first, I would have said it. But I assured him that I completely agree.

In the end, he decided that the only way to fix my phone was to re-set it completely.

But we know that it’s much more than that, don’t we?

happy birthday, little one

Our #10 is one-year-old today. We (and by that, I mean I) bought him a tractor. On the steering wheel, there’s a button in the middle that you can push to play a very mild-mannered Old MacDonald, and another one to simulate the start-up noise of a tractor. Our little one enjoyed the music but wasn’t as moved by it as he was when he actually belts out a tune on the piano. Maybe I’m over-thinking here, but maybe it’s because he really prefers action. When he does use the piano that we have at our house, I make sure that I move and shake to show that hey! You can move to music! It’s to the point now when he’ll play and look up at me to make sure that I am.

Boy, are kids smart.

Here’s a good example of that.

I got here via TWKIWDBI, but I’m showing the one on Youtube. You can turn on the English captions on the bottom. They’re not timed particularly well, but I think you’ll get the message, even without the translation.

Kitchen dancing, anyone?