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March 7, 1980     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 7, 1980
 

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being asked a great man of God. But could I measure up? Was pounding as ! stood in the of the University of Chicago's s summer term, August, 1951, intermission for our student of T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Was nearly over. I could hear the : audience returning to their seats. 'belted costume. The garment was unlined and the lead role--Thomas a Becket, of Canterbury in the year 1170. Becket martyr, a man who lived and died in England, in i to his faith. So far, the was my first try at stage rd been in college, ! had dabbled in a lot t acting was the only thing that held my reason, more than any other in my to do a good job. i tapped my foot. I told myself. You know your lines. I was feeling ran deeper than the opening night jitters. From the first felt unsure about the Becket role. Part of his character--the essence of the grasp. His relationship with God personal. ! couldn't understand In Take it easy. But I couldn't Amid the confusion of backstage r reviewed the script, considering the to the big final scene--Becket's Canterbury Cathedral. Under my his final words of faith, hoping might somehow experience firsthand it was my last chance. paused dramatically, waiting for am now ready to die." happened. As usual, the words came In the silence that followed, I realization that ! would probably to put myself in Becket's shoes, no I tried. how could I be expected to? ! American Jew. What could I in common with a 12th.century brooded about it, the more discouraged wasn't the first time my faith had block to my hopes, dreams, HERITAGE, Florida Jewish News, March 7. 1980, Page 5 Y by ED ASNER desires. Memories of growing up in Kansas City as one of less than 100 Orthodox Jewish families in a city of 120,000 came flooding back ... It was four p.m. on a gray and muggy afternoon. ! was a chubby little kid, waiting after school for the city bus (which was late) that would take me to the streetcar, that would take me to another city bus, that would finally drop me off at Hebrew school. All the other kids were having fun playing football or basketball and visiting each other's houses and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The sound of laughter caused me to look up as a group of classmates approached, grinning and joking and taking playful punches at one another. When they saw me, they waved hello, and stopped for a minute to taltc Then they moved on. I liked them a lot--and I think they liked me, too. But they knew I was different. As I watched them walk away, ! tried to ignore the hollow pit in my stomach. My fingers reached deep into my back pocket and curled around the soft, fiat yarrnulke that had been tucked there since morning. ! would put it on this afternoon before entering the synagogue for lessons with the rabbi. Sometimes I wondered what it would be like not to be Jewish; to be able to play with the other kids after school; not to have to wear a skull cap; to worship on Sunday instead of Saturday. But then I chased away such thoughts with warm recollections of home and family behind the red brick walls of our two-story house on Oaldand Avenue ... the sweet aroma of fresh-baked challah wafting from Mama's always bustling kitchen; the candlelight magic of sundown seders; the mystery and wonder of shared prayers and songs around the dinner table on High Holy days. Still, I had to face the face that when i was away from home, I was lonely. Sometimes a deep fear gripped me--a cold, hopeless feeling that I would never have friends, never be accepted, never be "normal." At moments like this, my best friend was my imaginaEon. While waiting for the bus to Hebrew school, I entertained myself by lapsing into fantasy about my favorite Biblical characters. Like a mighty army of superheroes on parade, they thundered past the reviewing stand of my mind. First came Abraham, wise and faithful patriarch. Then came his son, Isaac, with grandson, Jacob--who later became known as Israel--and great, grandson, Joseph. Feadess Samson followed, his spectacular mane blowing in the wind. Daniel was there, too, flanked on either side by a pride of protective lions, like so many loyal dogs. All passed by in glorious procession. Then, finally, came Moses. His face shone brilliant with the light of the Lord. His eyes were ablaze with his vision of the Promised Land--the land he would safely lead his people to, but would never reach himself. Truly, I wondered, there were all great men of God; men who liued and died in loyalty to their faith ... "Ed.r, I jumped, startled. It was the stage manager. "Five minutes to curtain," he said. "Thanks," I acknowledged. At the thought of going onstage, my old anxiety returned with staggering force. I felt like a little kid again--afraid of failing, afraid of being rejected. Suddenly--and quite unexpectedly--I heard myself saying, "Lord, help me do a good job. Take away my fear. Let me liuethis role; let me bethis man, Becket; who died so bravely so long ago. Don't ..." I hesitated. "Don't let our differences stand in the way." Why, ! thought frantically, should this time be any different from the rehearsals? But this time, something was different. God must have heard me, because suddenly l understood that the God Becket prayed to and died for was none other than the same God of my childhood--the same God Who spoke to Abraham, the same God Moses saw face-to-face. The differences between Christianity and Judaism were great, certainly. Yet there was this tremendous heritage that we shared; faith in one Father, Creator of us all. Where once it seemed that Becket and I were strangers, now I knew what we had in common. Finally, I understood the man. I 'or my Lord," I heard my voice ring out with r- found conviction, "1 am now ready to diet' The words shot out like blazing arrows into the darkened theater. They must have hit their mark; the performance earned good reviews. From that night on, I knew I was destined to be an actor. Most importantly, I knew that never again would my faith be a stumbling block to my hopes, dreams, desires. Rather it would serve as a mighty bridge to meet them. Reprinted with permission from Guideposts. Copyright 1979 by Guideposts Asgciates, Inc., Camtel, N.Y, Visa Office Opens Cairo Gets Embassy benefit of the local and vision crew member. international news media. in Israel The stamping and proces- The second applicant was Pauline Grego, an Egyptian in the sing of documents, a slow- Jew who came to Israel six Hilton moving tedious job that would years ago. She was one of the >nly a few normally attract no attention, few Israelis who managed to people became the focus of television go to Cairo last October and visas, news cameras, she was going there again to a media try to persuade her son to join The Rrst Applicants her in Israel. The honor of being the first applicant went to Dieter Huckstein and Grego re- his Huckstein, the German-born, ceived their Egyptian visas nt American citizen who is immediately. Soliman general manager of the Tel explained that this was a two-man Aviv Hilton. He plans to be on gesture of good will. Most el-Din El Al's first commercial flight Israeli applicants will have to of to Cairo next Monday. As wait about 10 days. But cameras recorded the event, foreign nationals of countries the Huckstein found he was with- that have visa agreements with reiving out cash and had to borrow Egypt will be able to obtain for the the $2 visa fee from a tel them immediately. Soliman iN CAIRO (above) the/aces of Israel's c d'alT"aires in Egypt, Yose[ Hadass and his w(fe, are reflected in the copper p/aque Identifying the Embassy of Israel, inscribed in Hebrew, Arabic and English. J=mm po= said that contrary to some Egypt. pending the completion of reports, Israelis will not be However, they will have to fly negotiations between Egypt required to show proof that there as the overland route via and Israel on the movement of they have a place to stay in El Arish has been closed tourists across Sinai.