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November 27, 2015 / 15 Kislev, 5776
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A Window Into The Past; A Lesson For The Future

Image from Hungry Hearts

Image from Hungry Hearts

You look at these infants and you can’t help be aware of the very eye-widening fact that if they are still alive, these chubby faced babies are over 90 years old, and the adults surrounding them, dead and buried long ago.

I couldn’t help think to myself that the actors, the stars and the extras alike, even those in their youthful twenties, must have passed away decades ago. (A Google search I did on Helen Ferguson, the 21-year-old actress who portrayed Sara, revealed that she died in 1977 at age 75. Bryant Washburn, who played the young lawyer who falls in love with her, passed away at 74, in 1963.)

But as we all know too well, especially the graying members of the baby boom generation, whose mantra once upon a time ago was “not to trust anyone over 30” – time flies. Time is like an avalanche. Initially, it moves slowly, made up of bits of snow as it starts to roll down. But as it does, it gathers and amasses more snow until it comes crashing down – unforgiving and totally unstoppable. The days of our lives are like these tiny snowflakes – first a few pass by, but soon they accumulate into weeks, then months that become years, which in turn grow into decades and we wonder, bewildered and vulnerable – where did the time go?

As it is says in Tehillim 144:14 – Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.

One day we are young, and then suddenly, we and our friends and peers are not so young. And our children, not children anymore. Still our kids, but not children. In fact they have become us; they are the mothers and the fathers.

So what to make of this reality?

The lesson to glean and internalize from this fact of our mortal existence is to make every second count. What that means is subject to individual interpretation. For some it may be working harder/making more money; for others it is traveling to the four corners of the world; learning full time or volunteering on numerous chesed projects or developing a talent long ago set aside as other responsibilities got in the way. Whatever it is, go for it. And the end of the day, you will have the consolation of knowing that you cherished the gift of life that was bestowed on you.

As for me, at this stage in my (middle-aged) life, and as I have mentioned before, having medical “close calls,” creating memories and enhancing emotional bonds with my children’s children is a priority. And so I often find myself on a bus, train or airplane. I have heard people complain how hard it is for them to travel long distances; and they ask me how I can stand, for example, being on an 11-hour bus ride. I tell them it is my knowledge that the journey will end.

The ride is not forever. And at the end of the road, what awaits me makes it all worthwhile.

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2 Responses to “A Window Into The Past; A Lesson For The Future”

  1. I loved your review. But, I have to tell you, this was filmed on a Hollywood set, not on the Lower East Side of New York. The filming process was fascinating, however, as Yezierska herself tried to intervene to make it authentic. For more details, you can read my bio of Yezierska on Amazon, FROM HESTER STREET TO HOLLYWOOD: THE LIFE AND WORK OF ANZIA YEZIERSKA by Bettina Berch–available on Amazon. Cheers!

  2. Paul Berch says:

    Professor Berch's book on Yezierska is the definitive biography – and eminently readable.

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