Not coincidentally . . .



Somewhere over the hills and far away, a new breed of heroic Jews was springing up, a tanned, tough, silent, practical breed of men . . . .  Courageous, rugged pioneers, who had succeeded in making friends with the darkness of night . . . .  Tough, warmhearted, though of course silent and thoughtful, young men, . . . who seemed to know and understand everything . . . strong, serious, self-contained people . . . .  They were capable of loneliness and introspection, of living outdoors, sleeping in tents, doing hard labor, singing . . . ;  they could ride wild horses or wide-tracked tractors; . . . yet read poetry and philosophy;  they were large men with inquiring minds and hidden feelings, who could converse in a near whisper by candlelight in their tents in the small hours of the morning about the meaning of our lives and the grim choices between love and duty, between patriotism and universal justice. . . . they take our miserable human clay and mold it into a fighting nation.

Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness at 5-6 (Harcourt Books 2003).  That was Oz’s description of the pioneers who lived on the kibbutzim in northern Israel, from his memoir of his childhood in Jerusalem in the 1940s.

Across the Ocean, but about the same time, in March of 1941, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America, “the first superhero to enlist in World War II.” (last visited 11/02/2013).  Simon and Kirby were second-generation Jews in America, and they did not hide their source of inspiration:  “lashing out at the Nazi menace.”  Id.  They created a superhero from Steve Rogers:

A sickly Depression-era child, Rogers loses his parents at a young age, then tries to enlist in the military.  Too feeble to join the regular forces, Rogers volunteers for a top-secret military medical experiment known as “Operation Rebirth,” being overseen by one Dr. Reinstein. (Note the character’s Jewish name, one that sounds suspiciously like “Albert Einstein.” In 1941, Einstein was wildly popular — if little understood — cultural icon in the real world.)

Id. After being injected with “Secret-Soldier Serum,” Rogers is transformed into a “superhuman savior;” id., dons a red, white and blue costume with a star on the chest; and heads to Europe to destroy Hitler and the Nazi regime.

Due to storms throughout the Midwest, trick-or-treating in our town was moved from Thursday evening to Friday evening.   After wandering around the neighborhood to collect candy, we headed home to light our Shabbat candles and, when we snapped that picture of our little Captain America with his Shabbat candles, I immediately thought of Amos Oz, wondering what he would think of the “new breed of heroic Jews [that is] springing up” in America today . . . being raised to love G-d, Judaism, Israel, texts, and life with the ecstatic fervor of Hasidim, without segregating ourselves from the surrounding culture . . . .

Shabbat shalom!!

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