March 3, 2010
Yesterday morning, Jacob and I boarded an airplane in Cairo. 17 hours later, having spent a couple of hours at London’s Heathrow Airport, we landed in Newark NJ, glad to be in the United States once again.
Our travel agent, having messed up our reservation in England, arranged for an upgrade here in New York. We’re staying in a HUGE, if somewhat dumpy, suite here at the Salisbury Hotel, right across the street from Carnegie Hall. We have lots of room here, so if you’re in the neighborhood, feel free to stop buy…and bring along your friends. If you have any trouble finding us, just ask anyone you meet how to get to Carnegie Hall. J
Meeting Rabbi Schechter
We were exhausted when we arrived, but there is no rest for the weary. For a late breakfast, we met with Rabbi John Schechter, the great-grandson of Rabbi Solomon Schechter, who discovered the Genizah. John’s true claim to fame, however, is that he was my camp counselor in Wisconsin in 1976 and/or 1977 – we confirmed it today.
We had a delightful time with Rabbi Schechter – he brought us over to the Jewish Theological Seminary, and showed us a display of Schechter family Judaica given to Solomon when he left Cambridge for New York in 1902. He also told us about Schechter’s daughter, Ruth, who married, moved to South Africa, later divorced her husband, returned to the US, and then remarried a man from Liverpool whom she had met in South Africa. A few years ago, John came across a novel written by Solomon Schechter’s friend, Israel Zangwill. It was about a Jewish woman from England who married, moved to South Africa, later divorced her husband, returned to the US, and then remarried a man from Liverpool whom she had met in South Africa. One might think that Zangwill based the novel on the events in Ruth’s life, but Zangwill wrote the book when Ruth was only a little girl! Somehow, it seems, Ruth internalized the story that Zangwill wrote, and then lived it out when she became an adult.
We met Rabbi Schechter at Tom’s Restaurant, of Seinfeld fame. For Jacob, it was a great surprise.
Then, we took a quick cab ride from the upper Manhattan Campus of JTS, to the Greenwich Village home of the Hebrew Union College. There we met with Dr. Lawrence Hoffman, one of the Reform movement’s leading scholars of Jewish Liturgy, and a member of the team that composed our movement’s new prayerbook, Mishkan Tefillah. We had a fascinating conversation with him about what we can learn from the liturgical material in the Genizah.
My Movie Debut
Shortly before 5:00, we arrived at the office of Michael Strong, a literary agent who is producing the DVD Documentary version of the book. There, we spent six hours transferring images from my computer to his, setting up lights, doing my makeup (!), and conducting interviews about the project. I was exhausted by the time we left at around 11 PM, and Jacob was beyond exhausted. But he kept his spirits up the whole time, and was a real trooper.
Tomorrow we do interviews and more filming at JTS, and then we hop aboard a train for the hour-long ride to Bay Shore (on Long Island), where I am scheduled to speak about my trip – Mike will be filming my talk.
Now it’s almost 12:30 AM. Time to plotz. This has been a great trip, but I miss my wife and my other kids, and I am looking forward to coming home soon.
Rabbi Mark Glickman