Sep 4, 2011

A-Jewel-A-Day: Elul 6 - Josh Kornbluth

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Elul 6
Candlelight by Josh Kornbluth

Talking about enlightenment -- at least in spiritual terms -- doesn't come easily to me.  My upbringing was totally, passionately, proudly secular.  We "modern" Jews held no truck with the "old fashioned" types who went to temple, spoke to God, became "enlightened."
Except ... I'm remembering one evening, back when I was five or so, when New York City -- my hometown -- experienced a blackout.  As it happened, the blackout occurred during the most awkward time of my week: when my dad "returned" me to my mom, who had won custody after a bitter divorce battle.  The handoff never went smoothly -- often there would be yelling, sometimes even tears.  As Dad and I rode the subway on our way to Mom's apartment, he would regale me with her failures as a wife, as a mother, as a human being.
But on this night our train -- and all the noises -- suddenly stopped.  And by the time Dad and I had made our way to Mom's apartment, walking for miles through sidewalks thronged with our fellow New Yorkers, it was quite late indeed.  What a shock it was to see how Mom greeted us: hugs and kisses for me and for Dad, tears of joyful relief!  Together -- together -- my parents lit candles, hunted down batteries, made snacks from our strangely silent fridge.
Was this -- in our family's own irreligious way -- a moment of enlightenment?  Looking back through the years, I see the three of us laughing in the candlelight and I say: yes.

Josh Kornbluth is a comic monologuist who lives in Berkeley with his wife and son. You can follow his doings at

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