Seeing the world as it should be/Gezen di velt vi es zol zeyn
“Du Bist a Yid”
—My Father to Me
|Photo Credit: ©2017. Eli G. Greenbaum|
I have been thinking about my father lately; he died in 1980 of colon cancer; he was 69. My father spoke little of his experiences during the Second World War, what in Yiddish is called the Khurbn Eyrope (חורבן אײראָפּע; “Destruction of Europe”). My father spoke to us in Yiddish, the mameloshn (“mother tongue;” language) of Eastern Europe Jews for a thousand years. My father often took great pains to remind me who I was and where I came from.
I often ignored his advice, his views, his thinking and his feelings, generally deciding that assimilation was important while growing up in Montreal, in Canada. How else could one fit in? Is this not the best way?
Yet, strange things begin to happen when you get married and have children, and they are growing up, and you once again think of your parents. And you see and read what is taking place around the world, so much meshugas. Then, you begin to decide what’s really important now is stability and continuity. So, after seven years and almost 2,300 posts, I have decided to change the focus of this blog—a focus on Yiddishkeit (or Yiddishkayt, as it is now spelled in accordance to the orthographic standards of YIVO).
This is not only a testament to the value and beauty of my father’s lost world (Di yidishe velt), but an awakening and a reclaiming of my Jewish Eastern Europe roots, the roots of both my parents. (My mother’s family is from Romania.) Nu, so what is to be done? Well, for one, I have changed the name of my weekly column (every Friday) to “The Happy Yidisher Curmudgeon.” I have also listed Yiddish sites that I have discovered, both in the past and recently.
In addition, I will continue to add more in the way of Yiddish language, music, culture and art. The whole basis of Judaic culture is learning, debating, arguing (even with God) and coming to an understanding, where we can apply moral knowledge to our world, with the purpose of making it better. This is why I am a Jew. This is my way of saying that my father was right: Ikh bin a Yid; I am a Jew.
Ikh bin a shrayber (“I am a writer”), which is what I do. As for you, the reader, I hope that you will keep on reading.
A Sheynem Dank
Updated: August 2017
|©2017. Perry J. Greenbaum|
—Albert Einstein, “Moral Decay” (1937);
later published in Out of My Later Years (1950)
This medium contains essays, music and artwork that show my varied interests, one being on the power and benefit of words; another being on the current scientific, medical and cosmological research; another being on the importance of truth and beauty found in literature, philosophy and religion; and another on what brings humans together to build, to create, to fashion or to design a better society or civilization. Not by might, but by collaboration and cooperation. What is important to me might also be important to you: not losing sight of the strengths and weaknesses of humans and what it is that defines the moral good.
Moral good might be the important operative word here, and the understanding of this word takes up much of my intellectual thought life. As do the individual meaning and application of the words “morality” and “goodness.” The purpose, in words, in music and in art, is to bring about a life of compassion, understanding, intellectual honesty, imagination, learning, and, perhaps, most important, imagination. I read a lot and my library is more wide than deep, but in some areas it is very deep. I do have a curious mind, as do all seekers of truth.
In terms of political views, I am nearest to a centrist, but I have less interest in politics than I once did; in terms of religious views, I am traditional, and would describe myself as neither overly religious nor an atheist. Einstein’s views come closest to mine. This comes at a time in history when many have embraced extremism of both the Left and The Right, and where many have taken militant views on Religion and on Atheism. Such views often takes on the form of the protection of something important, but goodwill toward others is often not manifest.
In terms of vocation, I am a writer. I have been writing and editing professionally since 1996. I have published more than 300 articles in magazines, trade journals and newspapers, chiefly in Canada, but also a number in the United States. Now, most of my writing time is devoted to this blog, but I am always open to professional writing opportunities should they arise.
Life experience also helps, and its cumulative effect has had an important contribution to my self-development as a writer and human being. As has cancer, which figures prominently in my writing, not only in a personal memoir on its effects on the body and mind, but in articles and posts about the medical and scientific advances in cancer research and treatment. So, yes, I am thankful to Science & Medicine, while at the same time apprehend their limitations. Having absolute certainty eludes me.
In terms of work, I have had various careers in my 40+ years of “the working life,” thus far, including sales engineer, writer and editor; and now blogger. I have also worked as a laborer for a clothing importer, as a truck driver, a house painter, a courier, a book shelver at an university library and a chemistry lab instructor for a college. For many years, I have been a stay-at-home dad. I am married; my wife and I reside with our two school-aged children in Toronto, having moved from Montreal a few years ago. I mention my family at times in this blog.
As I do so many other things that capture my imagination, which is sometimes more important than knowledge. Some have said that I am an idealist, and this is probably true. I write, not only because I enjoy it, but also because I believe that I can make a difference in this world through the medium of words. I have serious doubts on whether I have achieved any measure of success in this regard. This is not cynicism, as some think, but a deep self-reflection of the sounds of silence. Writing is a lonely vocation, and lonely is the man of faith.
Yet, I continue to write about issues that seem to have universal importance to people, about issues that have an effect on us all. I do not write to become famous; I am an ordinary human being with limited abilities and with limited energy. I feel my age. In the best of cases, like many writers, I hope that thought leads to positive action and change. I carry a small measure of hope, which (always) has the possibility of growing. This blog started in August 2010, and it continues, for now.
—Perry J. Greenbaum,
Updated: February 2017