When I was in Israel, I worked as a translator and editor, as well as getting to know the country and meeting as many members of the Christian and Muslim communities as possible.
One of the most memorable commissions I received was from the son of a Holocaust survivor from Poland. Today in Manchester through the post came a booklet of the finished version, including my translation. The son has lovingly put together the thoughts and photos of his late father and the fragmented family, many of whom didn't survive - although others, miraculously, did!
As someone whose own parents came from Poland and who never met her grandparents, or found out much about them, I feel that it is imperative for these sorts of records to be kept, however painful the endeavour for loved ones and survivors alike.
And yet life goes on! Last Shabbat in our shul, we had a most interesting talk on the DNA of the Cohanim. The presenter comes from Jerusalem. Afterwards, I mentioned to him that the London Times man in Israel had invited me to lunch in Jerusalem last year and had shown an interest in this question. The speaker was keen for him to be in touch.
Today I also heard from the very same James Hider, the Times man in the Middle East, who remembered our encounter. His article about the recent Paul McCartney concert in Tel Aviv was one of the most accurate according to my sources. However, James tells me that not all Beatles fans were happy that he wasn't more adulatory, and told him so in no uncertain terms! All I know is that, having attended a Paul concert myself, some years ago in Manchester, you go for the memories, not for the actual performance. After all, the man is now a pensioner! But when the Beatles first started in the Liverpool of my childhood, the country woke up and was revolutionized over night.
Because when reality seems to be unbearable, as in the present credit crunch, when so many are losing their jobs, homes and families, the thing to do is to dwell on the good as well as the evil of the past. And that puts things in perspective! For you realise that the fascist mind-set, which is intent on control freakery and the wish to destroy is more than offset by the power of the the written word, music and the spirit which the divine has placed in our souls.