What’s going on here

What’s going on here

Even in a normal year, this is a complicated season.

Nature’s changing quickly. There’s green fuzz on trees, daffodils and crocuses are starting to push up, and there’s light pink on dark branches in the park.

There’s more sunlight. Part of it is artificial, of course; the sun goes up when it goes up and down when it goes down. It doesn’t matter what you label the hour; if it’s daylight savings or standard time, but it’s certainly true that an extra hour of morning dogwalking in darkness pays off in the evening.

It’s warm and lovely one day, and so windy that it seems that there must be giant invisible turbines blowing us nearly literally off our feet the next.

It’ll be spring this week.

Purim is coming, and boy is that a complicated holiday. Masking and unmasking, Vashti punished for good behavior, and then the virtuous Jews getting to slaughter their enemies unimpeded. Winning is existentially necessary — does it demand mass slaughter? It all speaks unnervingly to our time.

We see the mix of emotions all around us. Antisemitism, as we know, is rising, and that is horrifying. The war in Gaza drags on, innocent people there are suffering, and still the hostages, our hostages, are not released. We hope that they will be, but at some point hope turns into wish-casting. We understand that they are valuable to Hamas as long as they are imprisoned, invisible, and possibly still alive; once they are released or known to be dead, their value to their captors plummets to near zero. All we can do is keep them alive in our minds. That’s a pale imitation of the real thing but the best we can manage.

And yet. And yet.

We are an almost unprecedentedly old people, and we’re still here. This is a terrible time for us, but it is far from the most terrible of times.

Purim celebrations are going on. YIVO is presenting a course on Jewish humor. Everyone is aware that the decision to go ahead could have gone either way, and it’s possible that now still is too soon.

But we have survived this long by moving forward.

We are living in a time of extraordinary turmoil. If this were a novel, no one would publish it, because it would be too unlikely without being at all funny. But as crises and human disasters and unnatural disasters unfold all around us, it also makes us curious. What will happen next?

We’ll just have to hang on and find out.

Meanwhile, despite everything, happy spring.


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