On the day I was to interview Rabbi Holly Cohn, the new spiritual leader at the lone congregation serving a 100-mile radius of West Texas, at Odessa’s tiny Temple Beth El, the television series “Friday Night Lights” was trending on Twitter. The story of the fictional town of Dillon, Tex., where high school football is a central cultural focus, was about to end its final season.
It is said that when a baby elephant is trained in captivity, it is tethered to a post. It learns that it can move only in a circumscribed space when it’s tied up. After the elephant becomes a large and powerful animal, it could easily uproot the post. But it still assumes that when tethered, it can move only in that same, limited space.
All kids fear that they’re different, but I really was. I was born in Temple. Temple, Texas, that is, in the buckle of the Bible Belt, where there was only a handful of Jewish families in 1942 and no synagogue. I’ve always thought Kinky Friedman should write a country and western song called “There Was No Temple in Temple.”