Welcome to Jewschool’s Relaunch Virtual Dance Party! Get your dancing shoes on and click play. (you are invited to pour yourself a drink or light up a tzingele—if, of course, you are in the appropriate jurisdictions) Please enjoy Basya Shechter’s rock setting of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s love poem.
The news of Leonard Nimoy’s passing hit me unexpectedly hard today, so I wanted to take a minute to examine why. As a Jew from Boston, Nimoy’s celebrity loomed large in my upbringing. Besides Star Trek, which was omnipresent in those pre-cable days of UHF syndication, Nimoy was a constant presence in the news. He loaned his voice to the Mugar Omni Theater, the first IMAX theater in Boston, located at the Boston Museum of Science. He published a book of Jewish, erotically charged photos. He narrated documentaries. He directed. He sang. But no matter what else he did, he was first and foremost, always and forever, Mr. Spock.
One of my earliest memories of my family owning a VCR dates to just after the release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on VHS. Video rental stores were still a relatively new phenomenon in my neighborhood, so they hadn’t quite figured out how many copies of each movie to order when new titles came out. Khan was in demand, so my parents and their friends concocted a scheme by which they passed the same rental copy from family to family, late fees be damned. We’d rather pay the fine than delay seeing this film. Looking back, this is doubly surprising because neither of my parents were Trek fans. The film was just that much of a cultural touchstone at the time. When I was in the fourth grade, I was a pretty hardcore Star Trek nerd. I watched the show, and the cartoon, and when it came along, Next Generation too, although without the characters I loved, it never really held my interest. I played with Star Trek action figures, and I read — no, I devoured Star Trek novels. And while there was a lot about Trek that appealed to me, Spock was always at the center.
True fear knows no context.
And to follow the commandment to love your neighbor, to know the stranger, you must understand what fills them with unbridled fear, the kind of fear that cannot be rationalized away. This is what has stayed with me more than anything else after my wife and I took our boys to see Selma last week.
Our boys were leery about going to see the film, and we may not have helped our case by focusing a lot in advance with them about how hard it would be to watch. And, as I discussed in my last post, just 9 days after taking them to the 9/11 Memorial in NYC. So, they were bracing for the worst.
by Mo Martin
Mo Martin is the host of the new podcast “Radio Free Babylonia”, produced by Jewish Public Media.
The year I first cracked open a book of Talmud was 2006, and life was pretty good. I was a moderate liberal filled with the righteous indignation of the Bush years, I was a 19-year-old Birthright-style Zionist in Israel (The Land Flowing With Beer and Single Jews My Age), and I was a loyal and proud son of the Conservative Jewish movement. Sure, life wasn’t perfect. I had an undiagnosed panic disorder, no girlfriend, and my friends back in the states missed me, and I missed them. But surely the Democrats were about to sweep the midterms, and with Israel withdrawing from Gaza, peace couldn’t be many years away, right? Talmud was an exciting intellectual adventure, and a necessary step on my way to the Rabbinate. As the foundation of Jewish religious thought, Talmud would clarify the complicated Halakhic discussions that I had been told were the heart of Jewish life. At that time, my religious life and my political beliefs were distinct.
Now it’s 2015, and I’m angry. Read more »
Ian Thal is a playwright, performer and theater educator specializing in mime, commedia dell’arte, and puppetry, and has been known to act on Boston area stages from time to time, sometimes with Teatro delle Maschere. Formerly the community editor at The Jewish Advocate, he blogs irregularly at the unimaginatively entitled From The Journals of Ian Thal. He is a senior contributor to The Arts Fuse, Boston’s online arts magazine, in which this column originally appeared.
Ironically, those who smeared former Theater J artistic director Ari Roth with allegations that he is “anti-Israel” accomplished a feat that anti-Israeli activists could only dream of doing: making a Jewish Community Center boycott Israeli culture. Read more »