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06/06/2023 11:17:54 AM


The ship sails safely to port

Writing a few years ago in the New Yorker magazine, Adam Gopnik recalled “a great four-funneled ocean liner, the biggest and most luxurious ever built, whose passengers, rich and poor, crowd on board, the whole watched over by a bearded man named Edward John Smith, with the chief designer, Thomas Andrews, along for the maiden voyage, too….the ship sets off from Southampton, sure of itself, unsinkable, until it comes to the ice fields of the North Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland—and speeds right on through them to its anchorage, here in New York. Because this ship isn’t the Titanic but its nearly identical twin sister, the Olympic, made at the same time, by the same people, to do the same job in the same way. (A single memorable image exists of the two ships in dock together.) The Olympic not only successfully completed its maiden voyage but became known as Old Reliable, serving as a troop carrier in the First World War, and sailing on for twenty years more.
I have been thinking about this recollection recently. You think you know how the story ends until you don’t. Likewise, a couple of months ago Israel as a democracy was doomed. A couple of days ago the U.S. was ready to crash the world economy. For now, both nightmares seem averted. The ship sails safely to port. No guarantee the next iceberg won’t win, but in the meantime, we breathe a sigh of relief.
It is that mix of hope and fear that has defined the Jewish experience for centuries. We often get it wrong, but we are still here so we must be doing something right. Will antisemitism grow? Will the nation tear itself apart? Will Israel live up to its role as a light to the nations? No guarantees. But we live with careful and responsible hope. And, in the meantime, take the win!

Wed, February 21 2024 12 Adar I 5784