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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 23, 2005 / 12 Adar II, 5765

On a fast train

By Paul Greenberg


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My sister in her inimitable way said it on some family occasion when we were sitting around trying to figure out if a character actor from the 1940s was still living. It was irritating, not being able to remember whether we'd read his obituary. "You never know," she complained, "who's here any more."



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Long before Einstein, most of us realized time was relative. As you grow older, it picks up speed till it's rushing past like a freight train. Or rather a passenger train hurtling through the fast passing days and nights and years. And you can't always remember who's still on board.

Somewhere on the list of passengers are all the personages, celebrities and, yes, character actors you grew up with and feel you know — even if they don't know you. They may be up in the sleeper or back in the club car, or eating off white linen in the diner while you're stuck in coach trying to remember who's still here, but you're all traveling together.

The passenger's interest in who's still on board and who got off at the last stop seems to increase with age. But even when young I found myself paying avid attention to the more prominent obituaries in the paper. I'm not sure why, but they exerted a powerful fascination, as if I could arm myself with a knowledge of the past for what awaited in the future. After all, those who've come before us know the lay of the land. They should; they shaped it.

Maybe that's what King Solomon meant when he said it is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of joy. Ends are so much more educational than beginnings.

If the obituaries don't offer the suspense of other news stories, they're richer in lessons. It's like looking at history through a rear-view mirror, after the shocks have been absorbed, instead of having it loom ahead.

Now I don't just read obituaries but write them. And the challenge is to sort through the facts for the unique significance of each life. And for what each has to say about the times, theirs and ours.

We both shape and are shaped by our times. Consider those two giants of American nuclear research, Hans Bethe, a recent subject of the obituary page when he died at 98, and his colleague Edward Teller, who got off the train back in 2003.

Both refugees from the Nazis, they collaborated on the creation of the world's first nuclear weapon at Los Alamos, helping win the race for the atom bomb against their German colleagues.

But then they parted ways — dramatically. Hans Bethe led the school of thought in the scientific community that opposed the arms race with the Soviets, while Edward Teller became the leading scientist in favor of winning it. Bethe opposed the development of the thermonuclear H-Bomb, while Teller became the Father of the H-Bomb.

Bethe and Teller were just as divided over the wisdom of developing anti-ballistic missiles, creating space-based weapons, and the usefulness of arms control treaties. Both remained ardent advocates of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, but that was about all they had in common in their later years.

What was the root of the postwar differences between the two? Maybe it had something to do with their origins:

Bethe was from comfortable, civilized Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine, and knew first-hand the threat to civilization that the Nazis represented, but he'd had no personal experience with Communist tyranny.

Teller, born in strange, cosmopolite Budapest during the twilight of Emperor Franz Joseph's long reign, had experienced both fascist and Communist rule in Hungary, and learned to fear and detest both. As a young scientist, he had sought refuge, believe it or not, in Germany — before having to leave there in turn when Hitler came to power.

Bethe didn't feel Communism's danger in his bones, the way Teller did. Which may explain their different attitudes toward the arms race with the Soviets. After the Axis powers were defeated, Hans Bethe returned to the classroom with only occasional forays into nuclear weaponry.

In contrast, Edward Teller would spend the next half-century making certain America won the nuclear arms race, no matter how hard he had to politick as well as experiment. For that he was called a Dr. Strangelove, while Hans Bethe was hailed as a saint, which he certainly was. (Communism loved the saintly; it grew fat on them.)

The moral of these very different, much alike, and thoroughly intertwined lives might occur to any close reader of the obituaries: Experience, or maybe just geography, is politics.

JewishWorldReview.com regularly publishes stories that will leave you smiling. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.



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