I was born in the Great State of Brooklyn, New York, but raised on Long Island in a town named New Hyde Park.
Our iambically-melodic address was: 67 West Maple Drive. It was located in what would now be called a “working-class neighborhood” although when we lived there, it was just a neighborhood; no adjective needed.
On our section of our block of our neighborhood, among others, there were three houses which were inhabited by three families.
The Jewish family – ours – sat in the middle. On our left was a German-Catholic family. On our right a Greek family.
Because the Roman Catholic/Protestant, the Jewish calendar, and the Greek religious calendars rarely matched up, in our little section of West Maple Drive religious holiday seasons ran for weeks.
This year, for instance, Passover and the Western Easter fall within days of each other. I am in New York to celebrate Passover with my family.
Wednesday night I traveled from Manhattan to Suffolk County on Long Island for a Seder at the home of my aunt and uncle. The way you get there is to go through the Midtown Tunnel, get on the Long Island Expressway and travel the thirty-some-odd miles to Dix Hills, New York.
Because there are about as many Jews in New York than there are in Tel Aviv and they all want to my aunt and uncle’s house for the first night of Passover Seder at the same time, the trip can easily take three hours.
The Long Island Expressway during the first two days of Passover is God’s way of reminding Jews what wandering around the desert for 40 years must have been like – and that He can make us do it again at any time.
This coming Sunday is Easter for most of the Christian world. But for Orthodox Christians, Easter this year will occur on Sunday, April 23.
When we were growing up the three sets of parents in the middle of West Maple Drive would pack the kids off to whatever religious service happened to be going on – if only to get them out of the house.
Charley and “Baby” Richie (so-named – even though he towered over me – because he was two years younger than I and is referred to that way to this day) the Catholics, were as familiar with the Greek elements of the holidays as Elaine and Cynthia were of the Jewish elements. My siblings and I were as happy to eat jelly beans and baklava as they were to taste matzo ball soup and halavah.
Gefilte fish was always an issue for the neighborhood kids, but we believed that, as we had a 3,700-year head start, they would come around to our way of thinking sooner or later.
It wasn’t until I went off to college that I realized how little most of the children of one religion know about any other.
I suspect we can stave off a good deal of ill-will in the world if we changed that, perhaps beginning this very weekend.
A college pal of The Lad’s is a Captain in the US Marine Corps. Straight out of the University of Texas, David Quy did the real estate or stock brokerage thing for a while, then decided to serve and joined the Marine Corps.
He has served two tours in Iraq and, thank God, has returned unharmed.
He and some of his pals are trying to raise money for their comrades who have not been so fortunate. There is an organization named the “Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund” which is dedicated to providing assistance to injured Marines over and above what the Corps can officially do.
David and some of his buddies are running in not one, but two marathons to raise money for this effort. Please go to the Secret Decoder Ring page to read David’s appeal; then click on the link and send what you can.
Forget about the front page of your newspaper telling us what’s wrong with America and Americans.
David, The Lad and their buddies are the future of our nation and, to a great extent, the future of our planet.
If that is true, our future is in good hands.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the letter from David Quy; a link to the dates of Greek Orthodox Easter for the next 15 years; a Mullfoto I would like some help … decoding; and a Catchy Caption of the Day.