Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Co-Star Of Catch A Star

Jaap Penraat spoke at my school on Yom HaShoah some years back. He appeared together with the author who wrote about him in the book Forging Freedom. He said that he didn't think he was a hero, because he simply did the right thing. I recall my principal pausing on that afterwards in his closing remarks, noting how big that is.

It came to mind tonight as I watched Freedom Writers with my class. In the film Miep Gies (played by Pat Carroll) says, in response to a student, who says she's his first hero, that she is not a hero, because she simply did the right thing.

I am resting in the neighborhood university library, which closes at ten (and it's now twenty to) on the way home. I hope to curtail my blogging tonight after these twenty minutes, to curtail most activities and get to sleep ASAP. So this will be one of those in the moment ones.

The movie hit me, much as it did the first time I saw it (last year, when I took a class to the theater to see it). There's a line in it where "they" are threatening to take her class away and she spouts at the teacher that would have them "You can't teach them, you don't even like them." And he asks, "What's that got to do with anything?"

Review sheets to write, reviewing to do, final parting words and gifts and on and on. I wrote a poem today that I will not post. Yet. I really want to put out a book. A dear friend gave me a beautiful blank leather book that's perfect for poems. I transcribed this one into it. And now I look in my bag...and it's not there. Heavy sigh. I hope it's where I hope it is.

I like the poem that I hid last night within the comments on the last post. I like the idea that came to me at that moment; "if not now when" may be especially addressing to the moments that feel like the wrong time, which sometimes are the most ripe time. Galut is part of Geulah.

An old dear friend of mine used to say that Galut isn't a place but a state of mind. She'd say, "It's wanting to do the right thing, but not knowing what it is." I feel, for some reason, like saying, "True that." I won't because it might sound pretentious, inauthentic. Oops.

I am blessed to merit golden teacher moments. The boy who's caught fire at the end of the year, right with me today as we finished Masechet Sukkah in Mishnayot. The girl who gets every joke and insight. The ninth grade boy who blossomed as a leader and put together all the food orders for tonight. Anther boy who decided we need class T shirts and did it - one, two, three. The list goes on.

Good Night and G-d Bless
the nights and blessings and posts
on and on from G-d


Blogger kishke said...

Wish it could go on
Sweet vain wish
Tears well in the heart

June 5, 2008 at 12:32 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I haven't (yet) seen "Freedom Writers" so I had to Google it in order to comprehend what Miep Gies had to do with a city classroom!

Miep's memoir "Anne Frank Remembered" is a favorite here. My daughter had read it multiple times, as have I. I appreciate her comment (that you quoted) that doing the right thing ought not to confer immediate hero status (although I still consider her heroic for her time). Today we seem to slap the "hero" rosette on anyone who does their job. It reminds me of the now-discredited self-esteem movement in which young children were praised indiscriminately just for... being.

So Miep's comment is refreshing, if perhaps overly modest.

June 5, 2008 at 5:53 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Nice Kishke.If only.

Anne - Thanks. Good points as always. Freedom Writers is a true story and in the actual story she took this leap (in many ways) that many wouldn't have. One aspect that she leaped regarding was using The Holocaust as soomething that she had a hunch her students would relate to.

June 5, 2008 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Did anyone get the title reference? It's kind of a trivis riddle relating to something in the post.

June 6, 2008 at 12:44 AM  

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