Imminent Disaster

By Thomas Kochman - 01.08.2010

Some friends of mine asked me about the significance of a scene near the end of the latest Coen brother’s movie, “A Serious Man” in which a decrepit old geezer—most all of the Jewish characters in this movie fit the stereotypical portrait of “how Jews are supposed to look”– is fumbling with a set of keys to open a door to the basement of the building that offers safety against a rapidly approaching tornado that threatens to destroy everything in its path, including, and maybe especially –Jews aren’t “The Chosen People” for nothing– the infuriatingly anxious Yeshiva students waiting outside for the door to open.

I told them, that for me, that scene perfectly captured the survival mindset of many, if not most, Jewish people –the notion that disaster is imminent— and, no matter what you do, there’s very little that can be done to stop it.

Of course, Jews are not the only group who think that.

But what’s different for Jews, and is perhaps decidedly Jewish, is the collective difficulty –some would say inability – to put the notion of imminent disaster aside in getting on with life.

It’s definitely not Carpe Diem or “Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for Tomorrow We Die.” Read more »