Earlier, Jay Neugeboren wrote about the art of silence. His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
Some years ago, when I was president of Congregation B’nai Israel, in Northampton, Massachusetts, I wrote a short story I set in my synagogue. Here, Chagall-like, are the story’s opening lines:
When the telephone rang, shortly after three a.m. on a cold, early November morning—Officer Ed Sedowski calling to say that a lost Torah had been found wandering around the local shopping mall—Rabbi Saul Gewirtz was fast asleep on his living room couch, having taken himself there some two hours before, following a fight with his wife Pauline.
I had a delightful time conjuring up an imaginary rabbi’s life — I rewrote the story several times, published it in a good literary quarterly, and several years later the story became the title story of my third collection, “News from the New American Diaspora and Other Tales of Exile.” The stories I gathered for this collection spanned most of the 20th century of Jewish-American life, and in 2005, at the time of the book’s publication, I returned to Northampton to give a reading at the synagogue. (A wandering Jew myself, after 30 years of exile in New England, I had, in 1999, left Northampton and returned to my home town of New York City.)