samedi, avril 13, 2013

Two traditions but a similar voice on Israel

Sometimes it's tough to get someone to talk to you.

When I went trolling for sources on this series, I was aware that it might be challenging to get the Conservative rabbi in our area to open up.

And he decided, bless his heart, that he didn't want to speak with me about the significance of the land of Israel in the Conservative tradition.

So I had to go a bit above his pay grade-- a very gracious, and  very well-known rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York was willing to make time on his crowded calendar for me.

What a mensch. Plus, he's really skilled at talking to the press, very clever and fun to read.

We have a friendly, down to earth,  Reform rabbi in the Lancaster area -- he's a great quote also.

I'm fascinated by how similar their voices are.

What do you think?

lundi, avril 08, 2013

Lady Thatcher and our Gadarene rush

Margaret Thatcher died this morning in England.

She was a fascinating woman in her own right -- and a very divisive one.

When I read that she had passed on, I had a few reactions.

The first was that her legacy would be judged by history.

Another was that I was glad that she was free, finally, from the nightmare of dementia.  No one should have to go through that.

As historian's daughter, I'm kinda stuck on the idea that writers in decades and perhaps even centuries still to unfold will have a verdict that is more sophisticated and nuanced than ours.

But Lady Thatcher couldn't rest in peace for a minute once the news broke over here across the pond.

My Twitter feed became a battle ground between the right, to whom she apparently was an icon, and the left, who thought she was responsible for the misery of a whole generation of Brits (and probably some Americans and Soviets, too, if we only knew).

She despised feminists, blared some commenters.

She got it all wrong, retorted others (only, of course, they weren't paying attention to one another, because generally, in twitterland, you only give credence to your own opinions).

Heretical as it may sound, I don't give a darn whether Thatcher was a feminist in disguise, hated feminists, or couldn't care less what people called her.

I suspect that, whatever she said, she really didn't give a hoot. That was one of her defining public traits --a sublime disdain for what other people thought.

So why do we care?

It seems to me that perhaps we care because Margaret Thatcher is worth more to us as a symbol than she is as an intriguing, often difficult, courageous and sometimes actually rather intimidating (remember the Irish hunger strikers) woman of substance.

That irritates me.

But more than that, it scares me.

History isn't an Instagram, a series of fast phone shots.

It's not written on the fly, but slowly, reflectively, and, hopefully, without a partisan agenda.

Passion is one thing.

A rush to judgment is another.

I'm not taking sides on Maggie, God rest her soul.

Will you still be my friend?