Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Olly & Holocaust Books, Sam and B&H

So today I woke up at 4:00 AM in order to get on a jet plane to fly back to New York. That all worked out very beautifully and on the plane ride back I read Not Me by Michael Lavigne. Excellent book which takes the question posed by Simon Wiesenthal in The Sunflower and makes it semi-real. I say semi because Not Me reminds me more of the kind of complicit killing discussed in the film Waltz With Bashir than actual murder, but it's all good just the same. I really like the idea of redemption as discussed in this novel. Excerpt that I found fascinating:
    His face tilted benignly toward me, and he suddenly remarked, "Did you know that the word holocaust is Greek? It means a burnt offering- when the oracle would place the sacrificial bull and burn it in its entirety, until nothing was left but ash. Not a bit left to eat. Not a shred of skin or hide to make a scrap of clothing. Not an ounce of anything left for any useful purpose whatsoever. Burnt to nothing. That is what holocaust means."
Isn't that interesting? So the actual translation of 'Holocaust' is Korban. I didn't know that before.

The bus that was supposed to drop us off by Port Authority made one stop at Grand Central because it was running late. Thus, I decided to walk to 9th & 34th in order to find B&H. B&H is the electronic superstore comparable to Illinois' ABT. Except it isn't comparable at all because the vast majority of its employees are Jewish (and almost all of them, at least as far as I could tell, were male.) Plus, they have a huge calendar in the window telling you they'll be closed for Sukkot. On the other hand, ABT has a huge aquarium and a marble globe that floats on water that children can play with. ABT also has an entirely revved-up super snazzy theater that shows various films; once I saw "Gladiators" there. I have yet to figure out how that is a children's film (officially they only show children's films).

In any case, as you walk down 9th Avenue, you see various men with velvet kipot and long sideburns in curls smoking cigarettes and speaking to one another. A professional greeter opens the door for you when you find the entrance to B&H, and thanking him, you walk inside, only to notice the green cartons whirring and whizzing overhead on conveyor belts, almost as though you had managed to lose yourself within Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Fascinated by this, I wandered through the whole store and, directed by a helpful black lady, went upstairs to the Computer Section. There, a man who looked like Philip Seymour Hoffman with longer hair helped me out and now I have an external DVD drive! This means I can watch movies again- hurrah! What I did not know is that you cannot take your package with you in order to pay. I tried to go down the escalator to the 2nd floor only to have my package beep mercilessly. Guiltily, I walked over to the black man who sweetly told me I had to have it sent downstairs. Not understanding, I watched, awed, as they took my package and put it into a green bin that disappeared down the conveyor belt. Sure enough, as soon as I had paid and was ready to pick it up, it was bagged and ready, waiting for me. That is bizarre in a wonderful way.

Took the A train home and then found, to my great joy, that Sam was online! Sam is my wondrous friend in Israel whom I love very much. Whenever I talk to Sam he blows me away. He is totally sincere; it's wonderful to see.
    me: And if you don't affiliate with any sect, how do you define your Judaism? I'm very intrigued
    What does it mean to you to be a Jew?
    Sam: i believe that the torah was given by אלוהים
    ובנו בכרת
    ואותו קדשת
    i actually believe that
    and along the way im trying to find my own level of worshi
    me: That's fascinating
    Sam: worship
    me: So you wish to actualize the beliefs, then
    Sam: of course
    why pray or believe in god if not?
Now isn't that brilliant? Beautiful and simplistic and childlike in the pure way, the kind the Rav talks about when he says our righteous sages made themselves into children in terms of their belief in God.

"Why pray or believe in God if not?"

Thank God for Sam! And thank God for wonderful books that talk about the redemption of man and lovely stores filled with Jews! It's all wonderful.


Anonymous said...


The Cousin said...

Wait..you're actually awake on a flight that early in the morning? Awake enough to read?

On my 7am flight Monday morning--that I had to get up at 4:45 for, I was out cold. Then again it's partially a result of my genetics (I'll leave it at that)

Never been into B&H. Been by it countless times at weird hours of the evening, but never during the day. It's supposed to be an adventure (a good one) much like you described. some day I shall venture a trip there.