Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Stranger Than Fiction

From the Prologue of "Stranger Than Fiction" by Lewis Browne:

...Dawn is stealing up behind blackened chimeys in the east. The city is awaking. There is a feeble stir in the streets, a rattling of milk wagons and a rumbling of trucks. Workmen with lunch boxes under their arms, their hair frowsy, their faces still swollen with sleep, clump along over echoing pavements.

But in the east, over where the roof tops dully gleam in the morning light, there is a greater stir, I know. Old men with matted beards, and young men and boys, crawl out from under feather beds and shiveringly don their clothes. They touch their hands and faces with water from kitchen faucets, whisper a prayer, and then hurry out into the streets.

Where are they going?...But where should pious Jews go so early in the morning?...To the synagogues, of course!

So they go, hundreds of them, old and middle-aged and young. They go to their little synagogues hidden away in basements, there to pray as their fathers have prayed these two thousand years or more.

For there in the east, where now the roof tops are turning from black to pearl in the growing light of the dawn, lies the great ghetto of New York. More Jews are huddled there than ever were seen in old Jerusalem--more probably than were known in all the world when Solomon was King in Zion.

What are they doing there? How did they come? And why?...

It is almost four thousand years since they were born, and fully five thousand miles from their birthplace. What have they seen and thought, what have they lived through and learnt, in all that long trek through time and space?

But that is just the story I have been wanting to tell all along, the story I will tell--so soon as I can begin.

Only I am too tired now.

Perhaps a little later, after I have slept, I shall be able to begin....

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