Well kids it’s that time of the year again, when God opens up that big book of names, and he’s making a list, and he’s checking it twice, and he’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice…Oops, wrong holiday.
I’m in the middle of David Cross’ hilarious new book, I Drink For A Reason, so believe me I understand the problems rational folks have with religion. Whether it’s Cross, Kinison, Carlin, Hicks, Maher, or even that besotted comic Chris Hitchens, there is much hay to made here, and with good reason.
Still, you see a story like this, and you begin to reconsider the role of religion as an organizing force for a community to come together and find a shared meaning to the purpose of life:
Like many veterans, Max Fuchs did not talk much about what he did in the war. His children knew he landed at Omaha Beach. Sometimes, they were allowed to feel the shrapnel still lodged in his chest.
And once, he had told them, he sang as the cantor in a Jewish prayer service on the battlefield.
On Oct. 29, 1944, at the edge of a fierce fight for control of the city of Aachen, Germany, a correspondent for NBC radio introduced the modest Sabbath service like this:
“We bring you now a special broadcast of historic significance: The first Jewish religious service broadcast from Germany since the advent of Hitler.”
Mr. Fuchs, now 87 and living on the Upper West Side, was 22 that day at Aachen.
“I was just as much scared as anyone else,” he said in an interview in his Manhattan apartment. “But since I was the only one who could do it, I tried my best.”
Well-known in its time, the battlefield service became lost in obscurity, where it might have remained except for an archivist’s chance find and then, fast forward, unlikely fame on YouTube — where the 1944 service has drawn 310,000 hits — for Mr. Fuchs.
His grandchildren have been beside themselves with pride, relatives say, and the rabbi at Congregation Ramath Orah on West 110th Street, where Mr. Fuchs and his wife worship, is insisting that he sing at services on Saturday, which is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year — though Mr. Fuchs says his voice is not what it used to be.
His performance on that 1944 broadcast, heard throughout the United States and later in Germany, however, brought a special poignancy to the 10-minute open-air service — partly because of his well-trained, stately voice, partly because a few seconds before he began the traditional “Yigdal” hymn, and for the three minutes it took to finish it, the crack of artillery shells exploding nearby could be heard clearly in the background.
A private first class in the First Infantry Division, Mr. Fuchs volunteered to sing that day because there was no cantor available. In fact, Mr. Fuchs had been studying to become a cantor, when the war broke out. But he had left his studies and was drafted, and never considered the chaplaincy.
His parents emigrated from Poland in 1934, when he was 12. Some of his aunts, uncles and cousins who remained were killed after the German invasion in 1939, he said in the interview. He wanted to fight the Nazis.
Anyways, for those who believe that God does have a list, you basically have 10 days to say you’re sorry to all the people you screwed over and pray that you get it right next time.So, on behalf of those South Florida litigators who may have done any of the following, let me offer an apology:** Sorry for using ellipses and selective quotation to truncate and completely distort what you’ve written.** Sorry for “forgetting” to cite contrary authority.** Sorry for withholding damaging documents and playing hide-and-seek in responding to discovery requests because producing those documents would be very bad for my case.** Sorry to have canceled and rescheduled hearings and depositions on bogus grounds so I can jockey to have my matter heard or obtain my discovery before you do.** Sorry that in state court I keep rearguing motions I have lost, when we are there for another issue, in an effort to get the court to reconsider.** Sorry to file boilerplate motions that require a lot of time and effort to resolve just because I can.** Sorry to have to send out nasty letters or briefs on Friday afternoon just so I can have you work on responding over the weekend.** Sorry I could not agree to your request for enlargement of time by claiming that “it’s what the client wants.”** Sorry about my interruptions, speaking objections and coaching the witness — boy was I out of control.** Sorry about that bill (ok, not really).** Sorry about that time I was a total d*&k.
Have a great weekend everybody!