Today is the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Two years ago Rebekah Gregory was running in the marathon. She was one of several survivors who lost a limb.
Today, she ran the marathon and was able to reach the finish line.
I admire her courage. Some people in her circumstances would have given up, spending the rest of their days in wheelchair and cursing fate.
But Ms. Gregory had the strength to face her past and not let it keep her from moving forward with her life.
We all have challenges in life, whether they be internal or external. The question is how do we face those challenges. Do we bury ourselves emotionally and let the pain control us or do we take those steps to remove ourselves from what cannot be undone?
This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately, especially in light of the roller coaster that is my career. The truth is that it is possible, if we only have the heart, the courage and the strength to move forward.
I know that in the grand scheme of things, four weeks without a job is not a huge amount of time. There are people in this country who have been without a job for much longer than a month.
I told myself that I would be fine. This is not the first time I have been between jobs, it probably won’t be the last time.
But the truth is that it is a nerve wracking experience. The reality is that for all of the applications that a job seeker will send out, it is likely that he or she will only receive a call for interviews for only a handful of jobs.
I know that I will find another job. I did it before and I can do it again.
As adults, we sometimes forget that our children see the world in a different light than we do.
In Lois Lowry’s classic YA novel, Number The Stars, the reader is experiencing World War II through the eyes of a child.
In 1943, Ten year old Annemarie Johansen has watched her world turn upside down. The Nazis have invaded Denmark and are in the process of “relocating” the Jews. Annemarie’s parents are secretly hiding her best friend, Ellen Rosen, who is Jewish. In a very short amount of time, the Christian citizens of Denmark helped their Jewish neighbors and friends to safety and out of the reach of the ghettos and the gas chambers.
I remember reading this book many years ago and found myself profoundly moved by the story. While many Christian Europeans were easily drafted to the Nazi cause, the Danish Christians put their lives and the lives of their families on the line to save their Jewish friends and neighbors. Denmark is only country whose Jewish population survived the war mostly intact.
There is a very famous quote from the Talmud:
Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if they destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if they saved an entire world.
Thousands of lives and worlds were saved because a brave nation chose to resist the conquering army. While this novel is fiction, it is based on a true story.
In her own time, the author George Eliot was either a lunatic or a visionary. But that depended on the person providing the opinion.
Her 1876 novel, Daniel Deronda, was a revolutionary book in it’s own right. It is the story of a young man who discovers his Jewish heritage. By the end of the novel, he has embraced his identity and leaves England for the Holy Land.
Gertrude Himmelfarb’s 2009 non fiction book, The Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot, starts with the author’s early life. She was born to an evangelical Christian family, the product of her father’s second marriage. As a young woman, she was one of the earliest converts to agnosticism. Her education was more extensive than other young women of her era, she was well read and spoke several languages, including Hebrew. Daniel Deronda is her last novel.
Daniel Deronda was written during a blessed lull in Jewish history. The Jews lived in peace with their neighbors, the Dreyfus affair that was the spark that created modern Zionism has not yet occurred. But antisemitism was still rampant and the rare Jewish characters that appeared in Victorian literature ( a la Fagin from the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist) was not exactly the most positive of images.
The author examines all of these individual elements and how they all come together to create what is essentially the first pro-Zionist novel with Jewish characters that are as fully formed and human as their Christian counterparts. I like this book because it pulls back from the fiction to reveal the woman behind the novel. I do want to warn readers that the book is a bit academic and might not hold the reader who is not using it for school purposes.