Friday, January 23, 2009

Jack Rosen, my uncle: in memoriam, 1913--1952

Morris Rosen with his sons Jack on the right and George on the left

Uncle Jack died on January 20, 1952, struck down by a massive heart attack at the very early age of 39, leaving behind a wife Thelma, and two children Frank and Barbara. Jack practiced law in New York City, primarily in borough of The Bronx, where he resided. His loss was deeply felt by his parents and his brother George and his numerous cousins. I was eleven years old then and I vividly recall my father giving us the terrible news. This was the first time that I encountered death; it was shocking. Jack was a very vivacious man who dominated by his physical presence and his outgoing character. If only a picture could speak.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Hussein Obama: History and Hope

Never did I think that the American people would elect an African-American to hold the office of president of The United States of America. Congratulations to my people for overcoming the burden of history at this historical moment. How ironic it is that a man whom many considered to be inferior to a "white" person has now been called upon to reverse and repair the damages inflicted on the body politic by a "white" man of impeccable ancestry.
Race is a social construct, not one based on science, yet still there are the true believers who are certain that color and physiognomy are externalizations of inner faculties and capacities. Stephen Jay Gould's brilliant The Mismeasure of Man demonstrated the falsity of these notions, as have so many other scientists. Yet, the culture of racism, which is not peculiar to the United States, flourishes worldwide. I will not be alive when these erroneous ideas are transcended and when at last all humankind is recognized as equal, despite differences of sex/gender," color," religious affiliations or non affiliations, and groupings national or social.

Mr. Barack Hussein Obama is the man who shoulders an immense burden, a New Hercules, whose task even surpasses those imposed on the mythic hero. With all my heart I wish that he may he overcome and lead us to a future that offers equal opportunity to all. And devotes resources equally for all, be the person poor, middling, wealthy, female, male, elderly, middle-aged, young, or an infant. A universal healthcare system is needed to achieve this end. Without it, the citizenry of this country cannot have the well-being it deserves.

History is made by individuals but the constraints of particular historical moments shape the actions that the person can take. Do not hope for miracles--which are phantasies in any case, but recognize that we have a leader now who is working for the common good; he understands what can be achieved and will develop strategies for their realization. May the country unite to solve its problems and accept its amazing president and his wisely chosen vice president, Mr. Joseph Biden.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Morris Rosen: in memory of my dear grandfather

Morris Rosen
, 1887--1952, immigrated from the Ukraine to the UNited States after being denied entry into England, ostensibly because was tubercular. This diagnosis had no basis in fact; it was a religious/ cultural bias against Jewsh people, who were said to be carriers of TB. Arriving in the United States, he working in the gament industry as a presser. He met and married Rose Handelman. The couple had two children George and Frank, the former became a physician, the latter a lawyer. Grandchildren they had too; George and his wife Beate Caspari fathered Paul Peter Rosen and Siusan Joan Rosen; Jack, who died at the very early age of 49, married Thelma, and the couple also had two children, Frank and Bobbie (Barbara). Today the family lives on in great grand children.

Morris was a loving sweet grandfather and I vividly remember his powerful embrace that expressed his love in a physical manner as well as in Yiddish. I wished I could speak to him now and show him what his loving union produced.

The photograph shows Morris and his beloved wife Rose in Canterbury Connecticut at my parents home. Not many years after this photograh was taken, Morris died of a heart attack.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

To the Ends of the Earth, to Okeanos: Ambition Thwarted

Alexander the Great's ambition was to travel to the end of the earth and to behold the endless ocean, Okeanos, the river that encompassed the world.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fala the Scottish Terrier: remembering

Fala, our handsome scottie, was selected by his "older" sister Kate as a companion. Visiting the home of Pat Gilmore, a breeder of Scottish Terriers in New Jersey, young pups were brought to Kate to see how she would interact with the little guys. Kate was alone at home when I was teaching at Brooklyn College and Harold was working. A year old, and uncaged, she expressed her distress by chewing on various objects, as, for instance, White Fang, a novel by Jack London about a dog. She also took a fancy to redesigning our Victorian furniture and chewing on wood panelling in the house. Our vet suggested that she proably would change her behavior if she had a companion, such as a cat or a dog. We opted for the latter, and chose a scottie because it would "speak" the same language. Among the pups presented to Kate was a sturdy handsome little boy. He did not take flight when Kate stood over him; he held his own. As Fala matured Kate taught him all the doggie lore that she knew and then the two together expanded their horizons. Though their temperaments differed--Fala was more laid back, Kate more inquistive--they found common ground and played with each other affectionately. When Fala died, Kate uttered a startling unforgetable howl of mourning. She never repeated that heart-rending sound again, but she did search for Fala, carefully investigating a huge field where the two often played and walked together. "Wiggy" as we often called Fala was remarkable.