09 December 2014

Cheering Like Hell from the Sidelines

After a year in which peace talks collapsed between Israelis and Palestinians; the Gaza War of the summer further isolated Israel from world opinion while confirming that Hamas and an ever-radicalizing Islamist movement rejects dialogue and favors ongoing terror; the growing rift between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu burst into the open; the continued strengthening of ISIS and its particularly virulent and murderous expression of fundamentalist Islam caused increased concern; an increase in racist attacks against Israeli Arabs brought shame; Israeli settlement policy continued unabated; increased terror incidents and random acts of murder against Israeli civilians enraged; and a general sense in the broader Israeli population that the basic services of the government--the economy, infrastructure, housing, education and health care--were not being met as well as they should be, topped off by the divisive "nation-state" measures encoding Jewishness over democracy in the Jewish state, it seems appropriate that Israel's Knesset dissolved itself and decided to head to new elections.

American Jews, who often sit at a considerable distance and judge Israel without ever having to really live in the shoes of Israelis -- a region unlike anything within North American borders (though in a post-9-11 world those borders are shrinking, aren't they?) -- would do well to roll up their sleeves, follow the news closely, and even better, hop on a plane and go talk to Israelis.  See things up close.

One could argue that this is the most critically important election in Israel's history since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.  Just as Rabin's murder set into motion certain forces that maintain the agenda in Israel to this day, the current dissolution of this year's Knesset is a chance for Israelis, should they dare, to choose a new direction.

I'd like to see them choose democracy.  This is actually eminently achievable.  It requires a coalition of the Center, the Left, some willing Center-Right members of Knesset, at least one ultra-religious Israeli party (Shas, United Torah Judaism) and the Arab parties.

Impossible, you say?  Could it be more "impossible" than the lack of progress we are currently witnessing?

Unworkable, you say?  Could it be more "unworkable" than what we now have?

If, as Israel's Declaration of Independence originally stated, the Jewish state is to "ensure complete equality of political and social rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex," than what is the problem?  The foundation exists for a Jewish and democratic state, for equal rights before the law, and for the opportunity, for those Israelis of good will--Jewish and Arab Israelis and--to find a way to live together in peace.

It's an election made to call everyone's bluff:

The Left can't govern with strength?
The Right can't tolerate democratic rights?
The Arabs can't accept citizenship with minority rights?
The Ultra-Religious can't accept the reality of the contemporary world with innovations like secular education, equal rights for women, some form of mandatory service beyond the house of study?

If there is not a parliamentary majority of at least 61 Israelis who cannot line up behind the reality that the way forward for a democratic Israel is a majority of diverse Israelis committed to finding a way to live together, now, than these indeed are dark days.

To somehow believe that this is not possible flies in the face of history.  Israel remains for me one of the great, unimaginable miracles of the twentieth century.  What small, far-flung, persecuted but determined nation builds itself a state, reclaims its national homeland, revives its language, and creates, in less than a century, one of the most vibrant, creative, economies and democracies the world has ever known?  Who does that?

This is not apologist writing for all you cynics out there.  This is pride in the unparalelled uniqueness of the Jewish people, which, while it has its own terrible, dark forces it is obligated to tame, prosecute and mend, still stands as a state whose good far outweighs the bad.

I don't live in Israel and I don't vote there.  But as an American Jew, a Zionist, frequent guest in the country, a man whose heart bleeds for peace and co-existence, and a rabid fan of the good Jews can do, I'm cheering like hell from the sidelines.









05 December 2014

Reconciled

It is interesting to think of Jacob wrestling the angel on the banks of the Jabbok River, moments before meeting his sibling rival Esau (from whom he wrangled birthright and blessing) in the context of our nation's coming to terms with issues of race, violence and the law in the era of Ferguson & Michael Brown and Staten Island & Eric Garner.

Jacob, the dweller in tents, as a lad; Esau, the man of the field.  The privileged white child of the manor and the slave, the toiler, the real builder of a nation.

Jacob, the kid from a good neighborhood, sound schools, college and workforce bound; Esau, dodging bullets and mired in poverty, suspicious and always suspected.

Jacob behind the invisible gilded walls of power where it's not even necessary to ask for protection; Esau, who in the wrestling, can't breathe.  Can't breathe.  Can't breathe.

In from the fields in the heat of the day.  Exhausted.  Spent.  In need of a bowl of lentils.  The tradition often credits Jacob for his cleverness in discerning that Esau was not of the moral stature to lead the covenanted people of the God of Abraham and Isaac.  But turn the narrative on its head and it becomes a tale of exploitation:  the starving manual laborer who would be satisfied for a crust of bread, a bowl of soup, and in his haste with the cards stacked against him trades away an unseen future for the immediacy of sustenance and temporary relief.

===

Yesterday I took a ride around Brooklyn with some friends.  We began in the bricked and brownstoned order of Park Slope; rolled into Gowanus, Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy and Williamsburg, ending up back in Crown Heights for a beer.  The admirably singular growth, creativity, and vibrancy of gentrification were everywhere to be seen and, in real time, were gestating social and economic challenges that ought to occupy our imagination and devotion for a generation.

Education.  Health-Care.  Housing. Work.  Like words of Torah, as the Sages say:  Each cried out, "Interpret me!"  Meaning:  Deal with the issues.  Create solutions.  Fulfill the covenant of our own national sacred scripture, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I see my doctor in an office tour across the street from Carnegie Hall.  It's a very pleasant experience to go there.  We speak the same language; we're of the same world.  Yesterday I drove for blocks and for the life of me couldn't figure out where one would go if one needed a doctor except a hospital emergency room.  The inherent wrong in that was as discernible as the distinction between, well, black and white.

If you drive into the Gowanus from Third Street, just after Staples and Pep Boys, the new Whole Foods comes into view.  Solar powered parking lamps and wind turbines tower over a lot filled with large, new, well-fueled cars.  Building and development is churning up earth at a rate that far outpaces the herculean effort to dredge the contaminated canal.  Among its many deleterious qualities are PCBs, coal-tar wastes, heavy metal and volatile organics.

Volatile organics indeed.  The people are restless.  As the sun set and day turned to night, helicopters buzzed overhead. Demonstrators blocked roads throughout the city, their bodies wrestling injustice, monitored by a hovering whir above.

Drive down Bond Street from Whole Foods and you'll see an abandoned factory about to be converted into artists lofts and galleries; luxury housing rises on the now fetid waters, but renderings envision redemption.  The Ample Hills Ice Cream factory leans into Royal Palms Shuffleboard.  One wonders whether or not Brooklyn's ironic brand has lost its way--they say it's now the most expensive place to buy a home in America.  What a bowl of lentils goes for on one side of the Jabbok River is not what it goes for on the other.

Across the street from the NYCHA Gowanus Houses, with 1134 apartments and 2836 residents, there's a C-Town, the dystopic meme of Whole Foods.  What is sold in the aisles of both stores we ought to know.  Food and Justice bring us back to the elemental fundaments of Torah.

To say that we brothers have our issues is an understatement.

===

Jacob was terrified the night before he met his brother Esau.  We don't know what Esau felt but we discern his anger, the pain and suffering of disappointment, of being on the outside, of having had to sell his fate in anguished hunger, of simply never having been equitably, fairly, brought in.

"And Jacob was left alone and there a man wrestled with him until the break of day.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken."  And Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

It is the greatest challenge of our generation to realize, yet again, that when we wrestle with black and white in this country, that conflict still too often leads to violence, prison, and most tragically, death.

After receiving his blessing from the angel, from his conscience, from his twin Esau, from God--Jacob awakes and prepares to meet his brother.  At this stage, Esau had been left alone long enough to create his own life, accumulate his own wealth, and regain the dignity he had lost in selling off his birthright in a moment of vulnerability and need.  He had the self-respect of being his own man, in charge of his own destiny.  Expecting confrontation, even war, both brothers fall upon one another's neck and as the Torah indicates, embraced and kissed as brothers.  Their hunger not for food but for love, sated.

No wrestling.  No chokehold.  Just two brothers, by a river, reconciled to the possibilities and blessings of life.






03 December 2014

Why the Eric Garner Ruling is a Grave Injustice

My thoughts on the Eric Garner ruling are published over at Tablet Magazine.

You can read the piece here as well.

===

The Staten Island grand jury decision to not bring to trial an NYPD officer for the chokehold death of Eric Garner is a tragedy on many levels. First, there is the fundamental tragedy of an unarmed black man dying in police custody. Second, there is the additional outrage of each of us bearing witness to Garner’s death. It’s one thing for most people to read in the abstract about the disproportionate number of black men to white men who die in police custody—whether by gunshot or, in the case of Eric Garner, by a banned chokehold. But with social media, we must bear witness and see with our own eyes, hear with our own ears, the pleas of a man pinned to the ground by police exclaiming, “I can’t breathe,” and then watch him pass into convulsions and death. It is gruesome. And it is wrong. It is also unjust.
The specter of injustice haunts the entire African American experience in the United States in ways this country’s Jewish community can only attempt to comprehend. For African Americans, brought to this country against their will as slaves, there would be 200 years of slavery followed by 100 years of endemic racism, lynching, and the denial of equal rights. As a nation we are far from the end of this tragic journey with miles to go. And a black man dying in police custody in Staten Island, or getting shot in Ferguson, or a housing project stairwell, is simply and unacceptably, an all too common event.
As Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative continually reminds us, racism and poverty go hand in hand for the African American community. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. One of three black men between ages 18 and 30 in America is either in jail, prison, probation, or on parole. Inequality—in schools, in the workplace, in housing, and before the law—is pervasive. America, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” has a long way to go.
When facing off with God over the potential miscarriage of justice—innocent lives being swept away with evil in Sodom and Gomorrah—Abraham famously said to God, “Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do justly?”
That is to say: we are all meant to be equal before the law. And the required sacred trust required between the citizenry and law enforcement officers—who, make no mistake about it, put their lives on the line to keep us all safe every day—is essential. We all must be held to the same standard of the law in the execution of the law in order for, to paraphrase Abraham, the law of the land to do justly.
The chokehold is an illegal move. Even in an NFL marred by its own despicable scandals these days, an illegal move is penalized. It is a tragic perpetuation of the legacy of injustice for blacks in America that a police officer is at the very least not being put to trial, where, with all evidence weighed in the light of day, he can be found innocent or guilty of taking a man’s life. And as Jews, as a people founded on such notions of a Just God being called to justice—and of a Civil Society founded on the idea of Equality Before the Law—we should find today’s ruling a grave injustice.

29 November 2014

Statement on Vandalism at Hand in Hand Schools

As a rabbi, Jewish community leader and board member of the Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem, I abhor and condemn the vandalism that has yet again attacked this beloved and valued center of education in Israel.

Tonight's news out of Jerusalem has demonstrated that there are those in the Holy City who are insistent on destroying the will of good people to live together in peace.  But in the face of such acts, we simply will not back down.  Peace and coexistence are the only true path for all of Jerusalem's residents.

As a rabbinic leader in the American Jewish community, committed Zionist, and strong supporter of Israel, I expect Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to strongly condemn this attack and apprehend the perpetrators, punishing them to the fullest extent of the law.

The Hand in Hand School, Israel's only bilingual school system, is a beacon of hope, light and tolerance in a city that is yet again, tragically embroiled in nationalist fervor, acts of hatred, recrimination, violence and murder.

Long admired and praised for the excellent education it provides for Israel and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and its surrounding communities, the Hand in Hand Schools deserves our ongoing support in the face of these acts of hate.

The teachers, parents and children of this remarkable school should know that they are admired and loved for their simple acts of courage--going to school each day, celebrating one another's difference, and through ongoing encounters with each other, building peace and tolerance in a city loved by Jews, Christians and Muslims the world over.

In the face of such acts of hate, we will not waver in our belief that with children learning together and families supporting these efforts, the citizens of Jerusalem and Israel will be shown the way of coexistence and peace.  We Jews are the "People of the Book."  Violence against schools is an abomination.

We will extinguish the fires of hatred with the ever-renewing spring of education, tolerance and peace.

--Rabbi Andy Bachman

26 November 2014

Thanksgiving Greeting

The Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, an enduring American symbol of religious freedom for those inhabitants who established its existence in Massachusetts nearly 400 years ago, were lofty in their aspirations but far from perfect.  The meal of Thanksgiving, which they commemorated in 1621, was meant to offer praise to God for the many blessings of their lives.  And as we look back, and know our history with open eyes, to be ever mindful that in each generation, we still have some distance to travel.

Though the early decades of Plymouth Plantation included a number of fortuitous alliances as well as violent skirmishes with Native tribes, the famous meal shared between Natives and Pilgrims became, ultimately, the American institution known as Thanksgiving.  That was then and this is now, a considerable distance from crowded, clouded with fossil fuel hazed highways, parades swollen with cartoon floats, nachos drenched in squeeze-cheese and pickled jalapeƱos consumed during breaks in bone-crushing football games, those early meals had vision.  Perhaps then they could even see a reality far beyond what they knew of the prosaic day-to-day:  they conjured Jerusalem.

And so it was for the authors of the Plymouth Sabbath School Hymnal, published in Brooklyn in 1858, more than two hundred years removed from Plymouth in 1620, this imagined Jerusalem was, in its own way, far away from the trouble and torture of their (and our) mundane existence. Yet its allure was so dear as to be near and beloved.  "Jerusalem!  my glorious home.  Name ever dear to me!  When shall my labors have an end, in joy and peace and thee!  When shall these eyes, thy heaven built walls, and pearly gates behold?  Thy bulwarks with salvation strong, and streets of shining gold?"

The early Pilgrims were Calvinists, strict in their enduring faith.  The first pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn was Henry Ward Beecher, a descendent of Calvinists and fierce abolitionist, who would have found the Pilgrims' yearning toward Jerusalem 200 years earlier to be totally intolerable. Though make no mistake:  he yearned himself--just in the language and in the time and in the historical framework that was more suited to his generation.  "There happier bowers than Eden's bloom, nor sin nor sorrow know; Blessed seats!  Thro' rude and stormy scenes I onward press to you.  Why should I shrink at pain and woe?  Or feel at death, dismay?  I've Canaan's goodly land in view, and realms of endless day."

In this yearning is a lesson.  We don't have to accept the world for what it is--even its idealizations. We can always change what we inherit while giving honor to and singing the praises of those who came before us.

Last night while walking to meet a friend for a beer, my own fellow settlers on the sidewalks of Vanderbilt peered heavenward to see helicopters, like flying army jeeps, hovering overhead, tracking the protests of New Yorkers who marched in solidarity with those in Ferguson.  A few wealthy enough to own slaves were able to do so in Plymouth; but seeds were planted then for an American enterprise that would capture, enslave, torture and murder countless lives sacrificed on the altar of the idea of religious freedom.  It would require war, more death, Reconstruction, lynching, the Civil Rights movement and countless more lives, given up for a greater, ever expansive freedom, but a freedom no less setting its sights upon "Canaan's goodly land in view."  Some of Plymouth's early inhabitants held slaves; others killed Native Americans.  Still others loved the Other unconditionally. In every generation we get to decide who we want to be.

My friend and I spoke about the helicopters and the protests and the still long road ahead in overcoming the pain and woe of racism.  But mostly we talked about earthly Jerusalem.

The summer's war with Gaza.  The lives lost.  The hardened hatreds.  Stabbings.  Shootings. Lynchings.  Cars running down pedestrians.  The total collapse of the peace process.  The dreadful, fearful, irretrievable sense of lost hope.

Pilgrims of one God marching on Pilgrims of another God, each seeking to extinguish the other.

We talked and we argued and we talked and we argued; and as the night wore on we heard each other more and more.  He in his insistence that the Jewish people remain a "light unto the nations" and me in my insistence that especially when we see our brothers and sisters saying and doing things that we find morally repugnant we never stop trying, never stop believing, that "Canaan's goodly land" is within our grasp.  We live in the world we inherit.  Where we go and what we do with it is up to us.

This is the Jewish Hymnal. This is how we do it.  Words--and the deeds they breed--can break the chains of hopelessness.

Here is my Thanksgiving wish for you:

Where there is hunger, feed it.
Where there is no shelter, build it.
Where there is hatred and bigotry, banish it.

There is too much pain we are causing one another in this world.

And so, where another states his pain, listen.  Reach and speak across the divide.  Difference need not be mired in stasis but rather should flow, be in a constant state of change in growth:  "let justice roll down like water, righteousness as a mighty stream."

Let us all be Pilgrims of Hope.  Let's break bread for Peace.  Now.

"Jerusalem, my glorious home!  My soul still pants for thee; then shall my labors have an end, when I thy joys shall see."







25 November 2014

Against the Nation-State Bill

The picture above is a photograph.  Taken with an iPhone 4s, it depicts a freeze-frame image of Jerusalem in 1964 as captured by my grandfather on his Super 8 movie camera.  The film was transferred to DVD, played on a Samsung HD 32" screen, sent over the ether to an 11 inch MacBook Air and uploaded to you.

Jerusalem:  A refraction of a refraction of a refraction of a refraction.

Whose eyes? Whose soul?  Whose narrative?  Whose God?

And now, to our great shame, whose democracy?

When news came through various outlets late yesterday that the Israeli Cabinet passed its controversial "nation-state" bill, mandating Jewish character over democratic character for an already Jewish democracy, a further fractionalization occurred for Israeli and American Jews, as well as Arab Israeli citizens of Israel who embrace Israel's democracy, however imperfect.

But the bill's content, calling for a two-tiered civic structure, demoting Arabic from an official language of the state and not allowing for equal housing growth and development in the Arab sector, means, in fact, that for the first time in its history, Israel is taking a dangerous step toward unraveling the founding vision of the country as encoded in the Declaration of Independence, ratified in 1948:  Israel "will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions."

As political experts debate the finer points of the bill and its harder and softer versions (coalition politics mandating the assuaging of the most extreme voices who yet again win the day in a Netanyahu government) clouds the picture for Israel's future in new and uncertain ways.  Make no mistake about it:  Prime Minister Netanyahu's Cabinet is now officially less concerned with Israel as a democracy--arguably it's greatest claim and most salient point of self-defense in an ever extreme region--than it is with Israel as a Jewish state.  And the very claim of those who built the state with their blood, toil, tears and sweat--that the Jewish people's political redemption in our historic homeland is made real through the unique agency of "freedom, justice and peace"--is, unabashedly under attack.

This is a moment of great potential despair and disillusionment for Jewish communities both here in America and in Israel that in the long run will do great harm to Israel's future.  The continued descent into extreme politics; the closing off of any real hope of dialogue and engagement with Arab citizens and Palestinian neighbors; and the trading of a truly democratic Israel for an exclusively Jewish Israel, runs directly against the greatest strengths and aspirations of Zionism's original intent.

When, as Zionists and Jews, we claim to be:  a "light unto the nations" in the best prophetic tradition; when others seek Israel's aid in times of crisis; when Israeli ingenuity, technological know-how, surfeit of Nobel prizes and claims as a bulwark against Islamic extremism (in partnership with countless Western governments and moderate Arab allies in an increasingly inflamed Middle East--are we really helping our own cause by creating a legal encoded caste system, one for Jews and one for Arabs?  In explaining Israel to young people--the Golden Ticket of Engagement for the future of Zionism--are we winning an argument by encoding Otherness as lower than Jewishness?  Was Zionism's original demand, to be a normal people with a normal nation, nothing but a temporary down payment for an ethno-centric, modified democracy of qualified equalities?

I was thinking of those lapel pins that certain supporters in the pro-Israel community like to wear of the Israeli and American flag side-by-side, each a potent symbol for each nation's commitment to a unique vision of freedom and justice, gifts for the privilege of citizenship.

From the Israeli Declaration of Independence:  "it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex."

From the American Pledge of Allegiance:  "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

The shared vision is clear in words pledged and encoded in documents but in our day it is now under attack. It was for my grandparents whose first and only trip to Israel bequeathed to me irrevocable connection between American values and Jewish values; between the shared principles of our two civilizations--that freedom and equality always win the day.

A vision blurred.  A future made less clear and more dangerous by the certain alienation that will occur by diluting and cheapening the definition and parameters of Israeli democracy.

War refracts.  Extremism refracts.  Hatred refracts.  Racism refracts.

But the Ur-Image of Jewish existence--that the human being (not the Jew, the human being!) is made in the Divine Image--is the unrefracted, the pure, the foundation value of any society in which we have always, and will always, aspire to live.








20 November 2014

But They Did

A couple years ago, just before Mom died, the girls gave her a call.  They wanted to say good-bye before heading off to camp--with the painful awareness that we would lose her during the summer. This awareness of death, unavoidable but carefully managed, is part of what it means to be human and certainly what it means to be a parent.

The home I grew up in did death at a half-time rate.  Dad, the Jew, talked about it.  Mom, whose father's life was cut short by a murder in 1939, plowed under her grief, buried it out in the yard, as it were, and kept it very much to herself.  Like the plants she kept cultivated on the window sill of the kitchen and living room, there was a solitary, lonely and dark, unresolved, tragic beauty to her suffering that burst forth into bloom once a year when I'd catch her crying at the window, a distant gaze in her eyes out into the yard and beyond--to her own childhood, unredeemed.  A mysterious gift, this grief; like a present you don't ever really want to open, I carried it with me throughout my own life until Dad died of a heart attack in 1983, leaving me at the crossroads of a road less traveled.  I chose to talk about the loss (at times even to him) to express it fully, to go, however haltingly, toward death; and to discover what I wished Mom could have known--that staring it in the face has its own redemptive power.

Anyway, there were the girls, on the phone with their Nana, she in a bed in Milwaukee, at the precipice of the valley of the shadow of death; they, in the full bloom summer of their youth in Brooklyn, saying goodbye, with love.

"What did you have for lunch today, Nana?" one asked.

"Uch," she began.  "A bland turkey sandwich and some really shitty pea soup.  I don't know how you can screw up pea soup but they did."

Laughter.  Thus a memory is born.  And along with it a value laden lesson in facing death, in grieving together, in laughing at the absurdities of the time we're allotted in this world.

Last spring I buried a man who had stopped eating for the two weeks before he died but then, to celebrate the resolution of a family conflict over funeral and burial plans, was fed frozen chips of Pinot Grigio--his favorite five o'clock drink--raised his brow in one last mischievous gesture of agency before the Throne of Inevitability, and days later expired.

I shared these stories with a friend who called it "eating into death," a new way of thinking about the desire for dignity at such moments.  It made sense immediately.  I remembered the back and forth to Wisconsin during those two years of Mom's dying; the plane to the car to the apartment and then to the hospice.

"How you doing, Ma?" I'd ask.

"If I see one more bottle of Ensure I'm going to shoot someone," she'd say.  She'd add a big eye roll for effect.  And then I'd poach her some eggs, roast some potatoes and asparagus, dole out the medical marijuana to get the appetite started; and she'd eat and wax rhapsodic about pulling up wild asparagus at the roadsides of her youth.  Comfort food.

Someone recently told me about how, back in the 80s during the AIDS crisis, he was working in a hospice for homeless men with AIDS which lost its funding and was shut down.  In an act of uncommon and unheralded heroism and generosity, the six men were divided among six homes where each man went to die.

"If my guy didn't like what I'd cook for him, he'd really yell at me!" he said.  "And when I protested that I was doing the best I could, he'd say, 'This is the last bit of power I have in the world!'  It was powerful."

Totally.

Maybe it was yesterday's cold weather in the City; or the catastrophic snow in Buffalo; or the incessantly disturbing backdrop to our lives of the least fortunate, digging through the trash for food, quietly suffering in hunger in cold apartments on cold nights, losing taste and losing hope.  We barely notice them, almost gargoyle-like in the social architecture of our cityscape.  You have to really stop and look.  And take note.

That's the moment.  Terrifying because it's evocative of the death we all avoid but in the engagement, it's reifying, hopeful, even redeeming, if we choose to act.

In families the act of feeding can heal.  In communities it can shatter the frozen, glacial anonymity between those who have and those who lack and scatter the darkness of despair with light.