Maybe it’s the weather, but I keep thinking of dead people. Such as, the people no longer around for me to talk to about what I’ve just read or seen. I just finished reading a fascinating article in “The New York Review of Books” about France between the wars, learning among other things that the French government’s response to the Great Depression was to go the austerity route, so much that the military budget by 1936 was essentially zero. No wonder the French army succumbed so quickly to the Germans. And eerily reminiscent of our own time, France’s first Jewish, and Socialist, prime minister, Leon Blum, prompted such hatred that government was stalled, making it impossible to overcome the Depression or rearm the military. I wanted to talk to my aunt and uncle who lived in France for several years in the 1950s, but they’ve been dead since 1997 and 2008.
Then I watched Leonard Nimoy’s video posted at the Yiddish Book Center, talking about his youth and the role that Yiddish played – and he’d break into Yiddish occasionally. I couldn't understand the Yiddish, but I so wanted to be able to send that link to my mother, whose first language was Yiddish even though she was born in New York City. But she’s been dead for five years. All those incomplete conversations, unanswered questions, lost knowledge.