October 15, 2023

By Arthur H. Gunther III

     My brother and I, raised in the 1940s-’50s country village of Spring Valley, N.Y., and our father before that in the 1930s, had many, sometimes mostly, Jewish classmates and friends. Their parents were the local merchants, teachers, physicians, lawyers, garagemen. The Valley was also a summer bungalow community when the population of 5,000 could balloon to 20,000, with largely Gothamites from Jewish neighborhoods.

     So we knew Jews, and we were better for it.

     We were Shabbos goys, lighting stoves on the Sabbath. We went to bar mitzvahs and seders and sat in the Succoth lean-tos as well as in shiva on someone’s passing.

     In the sixth and seventh grades, our neighbor, elderly Mollie Weisman, survivor of the pogroms, would ask me to sit by her bedside to hear her wisdom on life. This is what bubbes do.

     So today, as Israel mourns and as other innocents affected by terrorism also die, I recall Mollie Weisman’s thoughts on survival, that though her family and neighbors were massacred in the old pogroms, the evil ones could not destroy faith.      

     Terrorists like Hamas feed off neglect of the people by government and society, by greed, by ego, by pure devil’s hatred. They seek to destroy any glimmer of faith in mixed humanity.

     Mollie knew that this goy should understand that and also that she understood who I was.

     May all who have died in this terrible time in Israel, the Mideast, be a memory for a blessing, alav ha-shalom.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. (ahgunther@yahoo.com)