I tend to make an effort, on this site, to highlight pieces by folks I generally, sometimes vehemently, disagree with which demonstrate our common ground. On the one hand, it bolsters my case to cite supporters to the right of the upper- or lower-case left. On the other hand, I think it’s important to distinguish differences in postulates, differences in conclusions, and everything in between – to know where the real area of contestation lies. And sometimes, just because it’s reassuring and humbling to remember what we don’t disagree about.

Having said all that, I’ve made clear in the past what I tend to think of David Brooks’ arguments. The same probably holds for the arguments he would see as natural correlaries – and I would see as perversions – of the account he sets forth in column today. But his account, nonetheless of a Bar Mitzvah in the shadow of the Shoah is deeply resonant. I was also, not so long ago, a Bar Mitzvah named Joshua, and I chanted the Shama holding a Torah rescued from an atrocity which so many – one of whom I’m named after – could not escape.


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