American Idyll

Some people are really into American Idol, but I am not. I went through the lunch room the other day while a couple of Idol contestants were murdering U2’s classic “One” in some kind of live outdoor news-show venue. It sounded so awful… I wondered “what the hell is the fascination this country has with listening to people sing badly?” Both singers were completely off-key, both fighting to out-bellow each other, and working their hair and outfits even harder than their (blown-out) voices. It was not so much a duet as a duel.

Thank God for iPod. I went back to my desk and played that song, and listened to the words, just to get the screeching sounds out of my head. Some day, I’m going to hear someone sing it in a U2charist service the way it’s meant to be sung by a cover artist: not a slavish copy of Bono’s every raspy note, but a passionate statement of faith in the essential goodness of one person.

Miraculous: Torah Saved and Restored By Many

This is beautiful:
From Auschwitz, a Torah as Strong as Its Spirit – New York Times

The back story of how a Torah got from the fetid barracks of Auschwitz to the ark of the Central Synagogue at Lexington Avenue and 55th Street is one the pastor of the Lutheran church down the street sums up as simply “miraculous.”

It is the story of a sexton in the synagogue in the Polish city of Oswiecim who buried most of the sacred scroll before the Germans stormed in and later renamed the city Auschwitz. It is the story of Jewish prisoners who sneaked the rest of it — four carefully chosen panels — into the concentration camp.

It is the story of a Polish Catholic priest to whom they entrusted the four panels before their deaths. It is the story of a Maryland rabbi who went looking for it with a metal detector. And it is the story of how a hunch by the rabbi’s 13-year-old son helped lead him to it.

There’s a movie in this: mark my words. It’s a miracle that this Torah survives, but many people had a hand in saving it, and many people have had a hand in restoring it.