Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Main Street Soul

I had a lovely visit to Cleveland last week, and a great tour with Neighborhood Connections. We drove down 105th Street in Glenville, once a center of Jewish life and more recently a center of the African American community. Dr. Martin Kohn, one of the my hosts, told me a story about 105th Street where his grandfather attended shul in a plain brick building. The building was long since taken over by an African American congregation, but Marty decided to connect with that place as part of arts fellowship he's in. He described what it was like to go back there, to connect with the minister and the congregation, and to be in touch with deep memories -- from early childhood -- of this place that so important to his grandfather. I have been in many places on Main Streets that were endowed by people who come there no more. Christ Episcopal Church on Main Street in East Orange is one -- so finely endowed by the people who used to worship there, but it doesn't seem as if their heirs revel in the beautiful stained glass windows or fine furnishings. I was so deeply glad to hear what it was like for a descendant to see the place that had such meaning in the life of his ancestor. Maybe this is the most transcendant fact I've learned about Main Street -- Main Street has soul.