On the Thursday night before my Shabbat bar mitzvah all those years ago in Annapolis, Md., it snowed, heavily and unexpectedly. More than 20 inches by the next morning.
As a result, almost all of the out-of-town guests, including close relatives, couldn’t get there; my parents had to pay for dozens of guests who never made it to the luncheon at a local hotel; and an elderly congregant attempting to walk to shul for the occasion fell and broke her leg — a fact she reminded me of for years, every time I saw her.
How much time do you spend with yourself? All the time, obviously, from one perspective. From another, less and less. What were once interludes of solitude — at home alone, in a restaurant, in a store, walking, driving — are now filled with other voices: screens, radios, iPods and cellphones. The Greek philosopher Anitsthenes said that what he had derived from philosophy was the ability to converse with himself. And perhaps Pascal was not far off in saying that society’s problems derived from people not being able to endure sitting alone in a room.
Not surprisingly, as the economic downturn drags on, there is much communal discussion about the need for more and more funding to keep our most precious institutions and programs intact, from the federation system to Birthright Israel to day schools.
Will Schneider |
Special To The Jewish Week |
Every December, the countdown to the end of the year reliably includes several dozen “best of the year” lists, hundreds of “holiday” shopping deals, the all-important kiss at midnight, and, for the philanthropic community, a frenzy of last-minute check-writing. The end of 2009 was no different. In 2010, I would like to make a bold suggestion: start now on your giving plan for 2010.
A report has been commissioned by the national policy-making body on Jewish community relations to study the relationship between and among the top national defense agencies — including the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress and Anti-Defamation League — specifically dealing with longstanding complaints about their “duplication, excessive competition, lack of coordination and actual conflict.”
But before you breathe a sigh of relief and think to yourself, “it’s about time,” let me point out that the report in question was commissioned in January 1950, exactly 60 years ago this week.